Monday, 24 August 2020

Qatar's state-owned oil and gas company Qatar Petroleum has entered into a farm-in agreement for an acquisition of a stake in an offshore block in Angola.

Qatar has reached the deal with Angola's Sonangol, and France's Total to acquire a 30% participating interest in Block 48, located in the ultra-deep waters offshore Angola.

"The block, with a drill-ready opportunity, covers an area of approximately 3,600 square kilometers, and is expected to be drilled as part of a 2020/2021 drilling program," Qatar Petroleum said.

Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, the Minister of State for Energy Affairs, the President and CEO of Qatar Petroleum, said:" Continuing on our journey to build a world-class exploration portfolio, by securing interests in promising exploration blocks in diverse geographies, we are pleased to be part of this exciting ultra-deepwater opportunity in Angola, a leading oil and gas producing country.”

Al-Kaabi said: "This is our first opportunity in Angola with both Sonangol, and our long-term partner, Total, an experienced operator with significant in-country presence. We would like to thank the Angolan authorities and our partners in this block for their support. We look forward to a longstanding and fruitful partnership.”

The farm-in agreement is subject to customary approvals by the Angolan Government. Upon receipt of such approvals, the parties respective interests in Block 48 will be as follows: Total (40% - Operator), Sonangol (30%), and Qatar Petroleum (30%).

Block 48 is located in the ultra-deep waters offshore Lower Congo Basin, approximately 400 km northwest of Luanda and 200 km West of Soyo onshore facilities. The average water depth in the block is around 2,500 meters.

Following a recent oil drilling halt offshore Angola caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Total on Tuesday said it had restarted offshore drilling works in the country, with more drilling rigs expected to resume work soon.

 

Credit: Offshore Engineer

Published in Engineering

At least two people were killed in ethnic clashes in Ivory Coast following President Alassane Ouattara's controversial announcement he would run for a third term, a hospital source and local residents said Sunday.

Young opposition supporters on Saturday took to the streets to voice loud and violent protest in several major cities, especially the southern cocoa growing hub of Divo, after Ouattara accepted his party's nomination for the October poll.

"One person evacuated to the regional hospital succumbed to their injuries and died this morning," said a hospital source in Divo, adding that "several were badly wounded with machetes".

Several local people also said they had seen the body of a teenager killed in a fire in a local bar.

Ouattara was officially anointed as candidate by his ruling RHDP despite having already served two terms -- the maximum permitted under the constitution -- since 2010.

He had planned to hand the reins to prime minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, but his presumed successor died of a heart attack in July.

Six people had already died in violence following Ouattara's August 6 announcement that he would run again, while 100 were hurt.

The president and his supporters say a 2016 constitutional tweak has reset the clock on the two-term limit.

"Going back on my decision was not easy" but "there is nothing preventing me from standing," Ouattara said Saturday.

'Armed with machetes and clubs'

Saturday's violence in Divo saw a bus station, bars and shops set on fire and looted, MP Famoussa Coulibay told AFP, while barricades were set up and tyres burned in former president Laurent Gbagbo's hometown of Gagnoa.

Election authorities on Friday rejected an appeal by Gbagbo as well as former rebel leader Guillaume Soro to be allowed to run in October.

In Divo, there were clashes between the local Dida tribe and Dioula people from northern Ivory Coast who back Ouattara.

"It was very violent. The young men were armed with machetes and clubs. A lot of people were hurt and I saw a young man being beaten. He lost consciousness and had to be taken away," said one witness who asked not to be named.

Coulibay said that by the time he toured the city Sunday, "calm had been restored. There were a lot of police".

He said 21 people had been wounded including eight seriously.

 

Source: AFP

Published in Economy

Before the heroic return of opposition figure, Tundu Lissu, in late July 2020, Tanzania’s political landscape lacked the exuberance and ebullience that comes with an election season.

Lissu’s return reignited the hopes of a despondent opposition that had been subdued by the oppressive and restrictive political environment during President John Magufuli’s five-year term.

Lissu has been active in politics for the last two decades. He was elected to parliament on a Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Party for Democracy and Progress) ticket in 2010.

A firebrand lawyer and politician, he is known to hold the government accountable. He has questioned retrogressive laws, mining legislation, government procurement, government corruption, and the demand for a new constitution among others.

Lissu has been a constant critic of Magufuli. In 2017, he survived an attempted assassination while on official parliamentary duty. He has attributed the attempt on his life to the Magufuli administration. While he was abroad for treatment he was stripped of his Parliamentary seat.

Tanzania goes to the polls in late October with the dominant ruling party, the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (Party of the Revolution) and Magufuli, as favourites.

Background to the Elections

The general election will be Tanzania’s fifth since the reintroduction of multiparty politics in the early 1990s.

Since then, the country has been ruled by the dominant Chama Cha Mapinduzi party. There have been significant gains by the opposition parties over the years. Nevertheless, Chama Cha Mapinduzi’s mass mobilisation and internal organisation has seen it strengthen its grip on power. The party has also relied on its incumbency, resource advantages and patronage politics to strengthen itself and weaken the opposition.

In the last general election in 2015, a united opposition coalition made significant gains. It garnered close to 40% of the presidential vote share. Chama Cha Mapinduzi nominated little known candidate John Magufuli ahead of other popular candidates.

Ever since his election the world has tried to understand Magufuli. He has been the subject of immense academic discussion ranging from his personal idiosyncrasies, to style of governance, and approach to national development.

I argue that he needs to be understood at both the domestic and international levels.

At the domestic level he has been praised for his war on corruption, rapid infrastructure developments, fiscal discipline, and concern for the downtrodden.

The president makes frequent visits to various parts of the country. He interacts and engages with the public on their issues. Very often he delivers instant remedies. This is something that has earned him the populist tag.

Internationally, Magufuli is read as an isolationist. He has shunned the global community in an approach driven by his nationalistic and anti-Western rhetoric.

He has been described as a resource and developmental nationalist.

Western governments have criticised Magufuli for Tanzania’s deteriorating human rights and shrinking democratic space.

Chances for the opposition

Opposition parties very often form alliances when competing against a powerful ruling party.

In the 2015 elections, a few opposition parties came together under the agenda for a new constitution. They fronted one candidate to challenge the ruling party at the presidential and parliamentary level.

Under the umbrella, Umoja wa Katiba ya Wananchi (Coalition of Defenders of the People’s Constitution), four opposition parties made significant electoral inroads but still couldn’t challenge Chama Cha Mapinduzi’s dominance. They were Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo, the Civic United Front, National Convention for Construction and Reform – Mageuzi, and the National League for Democracy.

This year, the opposition is less organised and relatively weakened by the Magufuli administration. But Lissu’s nomination as the main opposition presidential candidate has given Tanzania’s democracy renewed impetus. This comes after a torrid five years during which political party rallies were banned. Lissu’s survived assassination embodies the opposition resilience.

During his medical recuperation in Europe, he embarked on an international tour speaking about what had happened to him and castigating the Magufuli administration. These media appearances gave him massive global exposure.

Having nominated and declared their presidential candidates, the two leading opposition parties, Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo and Alliance for Change and Transparency will most likely enter a gentleman’s agreement going into the election. The Alliance’s nominee is former foreign minister Bernard Membe.

During their respective party conventions in August 2020, both reiterated the need for a united opposition to challenge Chama Cha Mapinduzi and Magufuli.

Issues for the Elections

Magufuli goes into the election with a good development track record. In July, the World Bank announced that Tanzania’s economy had been upgraded from low to lower—middle income status. This development came five years ahead of earlier projections.

For the Magufuli government, middle-income status means that it can access international credit markets. The president will also bank on his successes in the war on corruption and his efforts to streamline the civil service.

While the economic numbers look good, the opposition has criticised the government’s lack of investment in human resources.

The government’s repressive legislation, and the curtailing of media and individual freedoms has cast the Magufuli administration in the worst possible light. The administration has been accused of human rights abuses including the arbitrary disappearance and jailing of dissidents as well as curtailing civil society space.

The opposition is bound to capitalise on these issues during the campaigns. It has also called for the electoral commission to be reformed, stating that it is not independent but structured in a way that favours the ruling party.

Elections and COVID-19

Tanzania will go into the elections amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The president, in June declared that the country was COVID-19 free.

The major concern will be reduced external election observation.

Political temperatures will rise as the elections draw closer. And the government will likely crackdown on the opposition. The elections will be a watershed moment for Tanzania as its democracy has been in retreat for the past five years.

A strong opposition performance in the elections, especially at the parliamentary level, will be crucial in building a strong and viable democracy in Tanzania.The Conversation

 

Nicodemus Minde, PhD Fellow, United States International University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Published in Opinion & Analysis
  1. Opinions and Analysis

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