The music-hall singer who was reburied at the Pantheon spent time in Algeria between the 1930s and 1950s as an artist. But Baker was also a spy ... for French intelligence during the Second World War. She later adopted two orphans of Algerian origin: a Kabyle boy and a 'pied-noirs' girl.
With a little over four months to go before the upcoming African Union (AU) summit, during which Félix Tshisekedi will succeed his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa as the organisation’s rotating chairperson, the Congolese president’s team are already making preparations for his future position.
According to our sources, the head of state is working on forming a high-level panel to advise him once he takes the reins of the continental institution.
There will be plenty to do: finding a common position to the conflict in Libya; tamping down the insurgencies in the Sahel; pushing for renewed democracy in Mali; and handling the medical and economic impact of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Not to mention the Great Lakes diplomatic headaches that will no doubt be stoked by his presence as Chair of the African Union, such as the uneasy Rwanda-Uganda stand off.
Divided into several departments addressing such topics as the free trade area, economic integration, Agenda 2063 and culture, the panel will be coordinated by old hand professor Alphonse Ntumba Luaba.
Selected primarily for his expertise on the Great Lakes region, where Tshisekedi is focusing a portion of his diplomatic efforts, Luaba is a former executive secretary of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, who also previously served as deputy justice minister and human rights minister.
Luaba also worked under Laurent-Désiré Kabila and then his son, Joseph Kabila.
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Luaba will be assisted by five associates, including Daniel Mukoko Samba, former deputy prime minister in charge of the budget under Augustin Matata Ponyo.
Several ministries involved
A working committee has been established to get the panel up and running. Several ministries are involved, including the ministry of foreign affairs, headed by Marie Tumba Nzeza, as well as some of President Tshisekedi’s appointees, including his ambassador-at-large, Nicolas Kazadi.
The committee is regularly in contact with Jean-Léon Ngandu-Ilunga, the DRC’s ambassador to Ethiopia and permanent representative to the AU.
He was on a visit in Kinshasa these past few days to make headway on AU-related matters.
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