Zimbabwe election: Emmerson Mnangagwa declared winner
August 3, 2018 | 0 Comments
Electoral officials say ZANU-PF leader won presidential poll marred by violence and rigging allegations.
Terrorizing the Terrorist: Cameroun Warfare and Human Rights Abuses in Ambazonia
August 1, 2018 | 0 Comments
(Life In A War Zone : 30 Days in Ambazonia/Anglophone Cameroon (7))
By Solomon Ngu*
I had started writing a piece about social media and the war in Ambazonia when three high profile images circulated on the internet: the execution of women and the babies they carried on their back, the rape of a 17-year old nursing mother and the killing of a priest. All of these crimes were carried out by the Cameroun soldiers. The first act was in the north of the country where we have the Boko Haram insurgency. This atrocity was possibly recorded by another soldier. The second and the third took place in Southern Cameroons. These incidences of inhumanity have been traumatizing, leading me to reflect deeply on why these soldiers felt so entitled to rape a woman or kill an unarmed priest (among many other atrocities). It dawned on me that they were in fact dealing with people they have classified as terrorists.
Anyone living in a Western country understands that the underlying message of terrorism is associated, rightly or wrong, with Muslim fundamentalists after September 11th 2001. It now constitutes part of anti-Muslim sentiment or Islamophobia whereby Westerners associate the Muslim religion with violence. Emerging from this narrative and undergirded by an incitement of fear and panic is a definition of terrorism for purely political purposes. For example, we now witness that dictators in non-western countries have found it convenient to consolidate authoritarianism by describing political opposition as terrorism. This desperate call for attention is done by leaders who have realized that the foundation on which their power is built has become shaky. To safe themselves from an impending doom, they turn the gun against their own citizens who mysteriously become terrorists overnight. Among other things, identifying the terrorist is an appeal to Western powers, to warn them that their economic interests are at stake.
When Biya described protesting Anglophones as terrorists, he was in fact appealing to a Western audience, especially France, a former colonial master of Cameroun (Francophone Cameroon). Worth of note is the fact that over the past fifty-seven years, France has been keen at Francophonizing Ambazonia through French Cameroun. A couple of months ago, a video circulated online in which archbishop emeritus Cardinal Christian Tumi mentioned that at some point during his career while visiting France, he was congratulated – probably judging by his impeccable French – for their effort in Francophonizing the Anglophones. The French official was unaware that Cardinal Tumi was an Anglophone!
One must not downplay the language used to categorize citizens as terrorists. The language we use most often shape our reality of the world. This is not to mean language reveals an objective world, because the way we see the world out there is socially constructed. Thus, we see terrorists out there only after we define who they are and where we can find them. It is purely a matter of who has the power to classify who the terrorists are. Simply put, a terrorist frightens the population and for this reason, s/he is an unwanted element in the society. But it does not end there. Categorizing people as terrorists is a way of degrading their bodies and humanity. It thus sounds logical to torture them in any possible way since the belief is that they can inflict pain on others.
President Paul Biya and his military guys have produced the Ambazonian terrorist in war talk, which is to say the condition has been set for the soldiers to abuse, extort, kill, loot, etc, with impunity, with their action informed by the belief that they are fighting monstrous beings. In other words, the soldiers sent to occupy Anglophone towns and villages have the image of Ambazonian monsters locked up in their heads. The conduct of the war in terrorist territory demands that cruelty and any form of human rights are suspended. Field evidence is showing that most terrorists in the war in Ambazonia are civilians. It is thanks to social media that we are getting a glimpse of how the soldiers kill citizens for pleasure. Priests have been killed. Girls have been raped. Elderly people who are too old to run into the forests have been burnt alive. The soldiers have carried out drive-by shooting/killing of civilians who stand in front of their houses. Entire villages have been burnt and crops destroyed. Schools, hospitals and churches have come under attack (some burnt down as well). In short, the terror campaign is all-encompassing and is directed at Southern Cameroonians, their institutions and livelihood.
It is only when footage of these atrocities is revealed to the public that we see a certain level of resignation on the part of the government and its supporters who all along congratulate soldiers for the good work they do in eliminating the terrorists. The images also contradict their narrative of the Cameroun professional soldier. We all know those defending Ambazonia are armed and are ready to defend themselves and their communities which logically means the government soldiers are expected to confront these Fighters. It is unclear why all Ambazonian are targeted. When it comes to the killings, the minister of communication simply says the victims of soldier atrocities merely suffer from stray bullets. What about the looting? What about the burning of villages? Some activists online have mockingly said in the case of rape that the victims suffer from stray dicks. This may sound humorous but it points to the fact that the soldiers are simply irresponsible and also shows the extent to which they can do whatever they want because they have the license to do so. These attempts at justifying or diverting the soldiers’ cruelty in fact tell that the leadership is satisfied with what the soldiers are doing to the supposed terrorists.
But there is more reason for the denials. It is unsettling for the supporters of the war to admit that the soldiers’ conducts are unprofessional simply because this admission would mean they are implicated in lootings, murders, executions, rapes, summary executions, mass graves, torture, burning of villages, etc – which is what is going on right now as I write. This explains why Mr Issa Tchiroma, the minister of communication would deny all facts, terming them opinion, until a video about rape, torture and execution emerges to shut him up. Right now, we know just too much about the misconduct at the war front. What more can they deny that we do not yet know? NOTHING! All forms of war malpractices have already been exercised on Ambazonians.
The atrocities committed by the soldiers are not unfortunate occurrences; they are part of the war and have been used right from the onset to instill fear in the minds of the people. The military is doing exactly what it has been instructed to do. Recall that in September/October 2016, university girls were raped leading to the fiery speech in the parliament by Joseph Wirba, an Anglophone opposition MP who told the government that the people of Ambazonia are not the slaves of the Francophones, their territory was not captured in a war and that they have the right to defend themselves. Also, in Feb 2018, a video showing the torture of Sam Soya, a disabled man, circulated online. His was suspected of knowing people who killed government soldiers. In one of the photos, we see a soldier severing the head of Mr. Soya with a knife. Images of unarmed civilians tortured or killed at the war front circulate daily on social media. Hardly does one meet an Ambazonian who does not know of anyone who has been killed or who has become a refugee – fleeing from people who should protect them. I have mentioned earlier in one of the articles that such state terrorism pushes Ambazonians into the arms of the Amba Fighters (https://www.panafricanvisions.com/2018/life-war-zone-30-days-ambazoniaanglophone-cameroon-5/).
At no point can we suspect that Paul Biya misspoke when he referred to protesting Anglophones as terrorists. It’s time we do a critical assessment. Who are terrorists? Are they people whose presence make others to flee their homes into the forest for safety or they are those who are smoked out of their own homes? We are talking here about human beings who have nowhere else to go. And as I speak, these terrorists are in the forests and are tormented by cold and rain at this time of the year. Talk less of access to health facilities.
*This is part of the series Life in a War Zone:30 Days in Ambazonia by Solomon Ngu for PAV under the blog Kamer Blues
President Donald J. Trump Upholds African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Trade Preference Eligibility Criteria with Rwanda
August 1, 2018 | 0 Comments
Rwanda remains eligible to receive non-apparel benefits available under AGOA
WASHINGTON D.C., United States of America, July 31, 2018/ — Today, President Donald J. Trump issued a proclamation regarding Rwanda that enforces the eligibility criteria established by Congress for trade preferences under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). This proclamation suspends the application of duty-free treatment for all apparel products from Rwanda.
“We regret this outcome and hope it is temporary,” said Deputy United States Trade Representative C.J. Mahoney. “But if the AGOA eligibility criteria are to have any meaning, they have to be enforced—particularly where, as here, other AGOA members took action in order remain in compliance. The President’s action today is measured and proportional. It suspends AGOA benefits for a class of imports that totaled $1.5 million in 2017, which accounts for approximately only 3% of Rwanda’s total exports to the United States. Rwanda remains eligible to receive non-apparel benefits available under AGOA, and the President’s action does not affect the vast majority of Rwanda’s exports to the United States. We look forward to working with Rwanda to resolve this issue so that benefits in the apparel sector may be restored.”
When Congress first passed AGOA in 2000, it imposed certain eligibility criteria to encourage recipient countries to adopt free market-oriented development models and to ensure fair market access for United States firms. The AGOA eligibility requirements include: “making continual progress toward establishing . . . a market-based economy . . . [and] the elimination of barriers to United States trade and investment.” 19 U.S.C. 3703(1)(A),(C). The United States Trade Representative (USTR) is charged with enforcing AGOA’s requirements.
An AGOA issue relating to new barriers to United States trade and investment first arose in 2015 when the East African Community (EAC) established a plan to ban imports of used clothing and footwear. The USTR’s engagement on this issue intensified in 2016 when the EAC announced it would phase in the ban by 2019. Thereafter, three EAC AGOA beneficiaries—Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda—worked with the United States and took actions to revise their policies. As a result, they continue to receive full benefits under AGOA. Unfortunately, Rwanda has insisted on keeping in place a policy that has raised tariffs on imports of used apparel and footwear by more than one thousand percent, effectively banning imports of these products.
United States efforts over the past two years to address this issue with the Government of Rwanda have been unsuccessful. As a result, on March 29, 2018, the President determined that Rwanda was not making sufficient progress toward the elimination of barriers to United States trade and investment and was, therefore, out of compliance with AGOA’s eligibility requirements. The President informed the Government of Rwanda of his decision in March, giving Rwanda an additional 60 days to engage with the United States to resolve this problem before the suspension of its apparel benefits under AGOA. Rwanda has, however, continued to insist on retaining its tariffs. The President, therefore, has decided to suspend Rwanda’s duty-free access to the United States for apparel products until Rwanda comes back into compliance with AGOA’s eligibility requirements.
The President believes suspension of AGOA’s benefits, instead of termination of Rwanda’s status as an AGOA beneficiary, is the appropriate remedy in this instance. The Administration supports continued engagement with the aim of restoring market access for used apparel and bringing Rwanda into compliance with AGOA’s eligibility requirements. The President can reinstate full AGOA benefits for Rwanda once he has determined that Rwanda is meeting the eligibility criteria laid out by Congress.
On March 21, 2017, the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART) submitted a petition asserting that the EAC’s 2016 decision to phase in a ban on imports of used clothing and footwear imposes significant economic hardship on the United States used clothing industry and is inconsistent with the AGOA beneficiary criteria for countries to establish a market-based economy and eliminate barriers to United States trade and investment. The petition requested an out-of-cycle review to determine whether Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda – the AGOA-eligible members of the EAC – are meeting AGOA’s eligibility criteria. In its petition, SMART estimated that 40,000 United States jobs related to the collection, processing, and distribution of used clothing and footwear would be negatively affected by the ban. SMART also asserted that the ban would negatively affect tens of thousands of jobs in the secondhand clothing sectors in EAC countries.
The USTR accepted the SMART petition and initiated an out-of-cycle review of Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda’s AGOA eligibility on June 20, 2017. A public hearing was held on July 13, 2017, in Washington D.C., at which officials from Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and the EAC Secretariat testified. The USTR determined that an out-of-cycle review of Kenya’s AGOA eligibility was not warranted due to the government’s commitment to reverse the tariff back to pre-2016 levels, effective July 1, 2017, and a commitment not to ban imports of used clothing through other policy measures. Tanzania and Uganda made similar commitments during the course of the out-of-cycle review.
On March 29, 2018, the President determined that Rwanda was not making sufficient progress toward the elimination of barriers to United States trade and investment, and therefore was out of compliance with AGOA’s eligibility requirements. In particular, Rwanda continued to impose prohibitive tariff rates on imports of used apparel and footwear and indicated its intent to continue to phase in a ban of these products. As a result, the President notified Congress and the Government of Rwanda of his intent to suspend duty-free treatment for all AGOA-eligible apparel products from Rwanda after 60 days.
In order to qualify for AGOA trade benefits, partner countries must meet certain statutory eligibility requirements, including making continual progress toward establishing market-based economies, the rule of law, political pluralism, and elimination of barriers to United States trade and investment.
JAY IRELAND TO RETIRE FROM GE; FARID FEZOUA TO BECOME AFRICA CEO
August 1, 2018 | 0 Comments
|He led GE Asset Management (GEAM), a global investment firm with about US$120 billion in assets under management at the time|
NAIROBI, Kenya, July 30, 2018/ — GE (www.GE.com) announced today that President & CEO GE Africa, Jay Ireland will retire from GE effective September 30, 2018, after 38 years of service. Farid Fezoua, President & CEO, GE Healthcare Africa has been named President and CEO, GE Africa in addition to his role in GE Healthcare. This appointment is effective October I, 2018.
“It has been a great honor to build GE Africa” said Jay Ireland. “The past 7 years in Sub-Saharan Africa have been the most rewarding of my 38 years in GE. The opportunities across many sectors, the optimism, the energy and entrepreneurial nature of the people have all contributed to a wonderful experience. I am extremely proud of the value we have created together with our customers and partners. I want to thank all 2600 employees in the region for their support and commitment to making GE a valued partner for the development of infrastructure in Africa.”
Over the course of his career, Ireland held several leadership positions in GE. He led GE Asset Management (GEAM), a global investment firm with about US$120 billion in assets under management at the time. He was President of NBC Universal Television Stations and Network Operations where he had overall executive responsibility for NBC Universal’s 10 television stations, the Telemundo network and its 16 Spanish language television stations. Before joining NBC in 1999, he had been the CFO of GE Plastics. Ireland started his career with General Electric in 1980 in its Financial Management Program after 3 years as a US Army Officer.
Ireland plays a significant external role advocating for investment in Africa. He is the Chair of the US President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa. He is also Co-Chair of the US Africa Business Centre – launched in 2015 to lead the U.S. business community’s engagement with Africa’s regional economic communities, the private sector, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Ireland was a member of the African Development Bank’s special panel on accelerating the implementation of its ten-year strategy. He was a recipient of the Africa investor Magazine’s ‘International Business Leader of the Year’ award in 2012 and 2013 and in October 2017, he was awarded the ‘Princeton in Africa’ medal for his innovative leadership and dedication to high-impact investments and growth opportunities across Africa.
“Jay has been an inspiring leader, colleague and role model over the course of a remarkable 38 years with the Company” said Alex Dimitrief, President and CEO GE Global. “He has had a spectacular career. Under Jay’s leadership, GE has tripled its annual revenues in Sub-Saharan Africa and established a strong bench of African executives leading the company’s businesses on the continent. GE remains firmly committed to Africa. Farid’s excellent track record of leading GE Healthcare across Africa makes him the right choice to lead the next phase of GE’s strategy and growth in the region.”
With a career spanning almost 28 years, Farid Fezoua has been leading GE Healthcare’s business growth in Africa since 2012. He has led the development of major large-scale modernization programs with public and private sector project development/partnerships across Africa.
Farid joined GE in 2003 to lead customer financing efforts for GE Healthcare’s Middle East, Africa and Turkey Region. In 2005, he was appointed Regional Executive for GE Capital Markets Corporate, leading customer and project finance for all GE businesses in the Middle East and Africa.
Prior to joining GE, he held several senior positions in international banks. He started his career at BCEN-Eurobank, Paris (subsidiary of the Russian foreign trade Bank). He then went on to serve as Deputy Head of Commodity and Trade Finance at B.A.I.I. (Banque Arabe et Internationale d’Investissement, a subsidiary of BNP specialized in trade and investment in the MENA region). He was also the Assistant General Manager & Head of Correspondent Banking and Trade Finance at the Arab Banking Corporation, Paris Branch.
Farid has extensive experience in the financing of trade and investment flows across the Middle East, Africa and Europe. He has developed a strong track record of infrastructure project development & financing in the field of power, transportation & healthcare as well as business operations & management.
GE (www.GE.com) drives the world forward by tackling its biggest challenges: Energy, health, transportation—the essentials of modern life. By combining world-class engineering with software and analytics, GE helps the world work more efficiently, reliably, and safely. For more than 125 years, GE has invented the future of industry, and today it leads new paradigms in additive manufacturing, materials science, and data analytics. GE people are global, diverse and dedicated, operating with the highest integrity and passion to fulfill GE’s mission and deliver for our customers.
Cameroon:People Who Think I Can Be Intimidated Are Clueless About Me-Cardinal Christian Tumi on “AAC 3”
July 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Elie Smith
In the last two years, Cameroon has been facing its worse existential threat since the unification of former British Southern Cameroon’s with the former French administered Republic of Cameroon on the 1st of October 1961. In this exclusive interview with Pan African Visions, Elie Smith met with the Archbishop Emeritus of the Douala Archdiocese, Cardinal Christian Tumi who on the 25th of July in Douala along with other religious leaders announced the organization of an All Anglophone General Conference in Buea on the 29th and 30th of August this year.
“In Anglophone Cameroon or Southern Cameroon, there are several opinions on the current crisis and also how to solve it. Anyone who refuses that is not honest but the conference will help to come up with a common ground,” says the Cardinal known for his acerbic critique of the Biya regime.
Fighting off controversy surrounding the AGC , Cardinal Tumi says those who think he is fronting for Biya or Munzu simply do not understand him or his convictions. The Cardinal says he has been thinking about such a forum for a while and took the initiative to reach out to other religious leaders and stakeholders.
PAV: Your Eminence, lots of questions are being raised regarding your planned Anglophone General Council, scheduled for Buea on the 29th and 30th of August 2018. One of such question goes thus: when did the idea for such a conference come up into your mind?
Cardinal Christian Tumi: the idea has been in my mind for quite some time. I listened to the interventions of Anglophones over televisions and radios and I arrived at the conclusion that, we were not saying the same thing and when I say we, I am thinking of myself as an Anglophone and sometimes, I think we don’t really know what we want or perhaps that, our problems are not clearly defined. So, I thought it will be good for the Anglophones of all sheds and opinions to meet and to objectively as possible, say orally and in writing, what their grievances against the central administration are. This would serve as basis for any future national dialogue between us Anglophones with the central government. In reality, it will be an update form because such a conference has been held some two decades ago. And that is why, when I met Munzu that I have known for quite some time and who has international experience, I called him as I had called others before, but he was most available and we spoke about my project and he accepted to be a sort of secretary of my idea of the proposed 3rd all Anglophone conference albeit with a different appellation. Dr Munzu quickly caught my attention and approval not because I had known him for long or because he was willing to run errands for me, but mostly because, I think he served in a similar position at the All Anglophone Conference that took place in 1993 from the 2nd to the 3rd of August. So that is how I arrived at what has now become a topic of debates. I called him and he came here and I told him, I will not like to do this alone, especially given my advance age. I also told him, I will like to achieve my idea with experience leaders of major religions in Cameroon. That is also how, the idea of contacting the Presbyterians Church, the Baptise Church and the Muslim community to provide elder persons, came up. In preference, I would have wanted retired pastors and imams. But as far as the Presbyterians are concerned, it is they who decided that, a synod clerk should represent the Presbyterian Church. And then we also thought that, we should not forget our Muslim brothers, they have something to say. So we contacted therefore, the Imams of Bamenda and Buea and they made sacrifices to be here in Douala. The Imam of Bamenda central Mosque, arrived here at 4 O’clock and left at about 6 or 7 o’clock in the evening back to Bamenda. That is how the idea that was originally mine took shape and we arrived at the communiqué that was made public. For such a meeting, you bring a draft, which serves as a working basis. You don’t come empty handed. We had such, on to which every word was properly studied and collectively adopted as ours. That is how the final communiqué read by Rev Babila George Fochang came out or was made public.
PAV: What do you make of some Southern Cameroonians or Anglophones who think your initiative is remotely controlled by Biya’s regime?
Cardinal Christian Tumi: of course they are sure that, the government has authorized the meeting or may be pulling strings from behind. But I can assure you that, there is no such thing, I am still wondering whether the government will accept us to meet because it is a big meeting which they will need to protect us and make sure that, the meeting takes place calmly because it is our right. It is also our duty as pastors to take the initiative that, I have taken.
So, if anybody within or without the Anglophone community could think that, I can be pushed around; it is certainly because they don’t know me. Cardinal Tumi can’t be push around or forced to do things that he doesn’t believe in. I have my personal conviction.
PAV: Granted that you are the sole initiator of the August 29th and 30th conference, how come that, it is only now when the crisis is in its 2nd year that, you are taking such an enterprise?
Cardinal Christian Tumi: Because, I thought that, the initiative taken by the government then to send some officials to meet with people of the South west and North West regions would help reduce the tension, but I think, all of us will agree that, the tension is getting more and more serious. And we can’t just sit down and watch what is happening in a situation where by many soldiers, many civilians are being killed. So, we as pastors we want to speak and propose to the Anglophone Cameroonians and to all Cameroonians, what we think should be done to cease the violence that is taking place in the country. It is a proposition, we are not imposing. As Pastors and as religious leaders and for us Catholics, Christ has said: propose in season and out of season, whether they listen to you or not. You have done your work. We don’t have to sit down and see things go wrong and we say nothing. If we say nothing, we will be guilty before God.
PAV: Are you the initiator of the project or it is Dr Simon Munzu who is an avowed federalist or that, you are fronting for Dr Munzu?
Cardinal Christian Tumi: Can you imagine me at my age fronting for a young man such as Munzu? The Anglophone General Conference is my initiative, which coincidentally caught the interest of Munzu that I have known for years. So, is it difficult for me to make proposals such as the current one? Even if he were the one who proposed it to me or you and I owned it and assume it, it simply becomes my own and it is the same with you, if I make or bring up an idea, and you assume it and makes it known, it is yours. There is no contradiction here, whether he proposed it to me or I took the initiative and invited him. But it is my idea and I was waiting for the opportune time and that time is now. No one can manipulate me. The Anglophone General Conference is my initiative that I didn’t want to carry out alone and I associated other religious leaders.
PAV: Your communiqué read by the Synod clerk, said it will be an inclusive dialogue and this has equally raised more suspicions and doubts. How do you guarantee that armed militants and Anglophones who are abroad with arrest warrants dangling above their heads will attend without risk of being arrested by the government?
Cardinal Christian Tumi: Well, your question partly removes the doubts or claims that, it is the government sponsoring the conference. If they were the ones, how come that, you will be asking such questions on those who are fighting in the bushes or those who are abroad? That is why, we are telling the government to please allow everyone to come in freely. And if it is legal, to free those who are in prison, so that, they will participate personally or by delegation in the meeting because it is called inclusive.
PAV: what is going to be new or said at the August 29th and 30th meeting that will be different from the ACC1 &ACC11?
Cardinal Christian Tumi: The first is that, this initiative is taken by religious leaders. Second, we are going to be updating our grievances and this last point could be what will make August 29th and 30th different from AAC1 and AAC2. We have a pastoral approach. We have no arms, but we tell love and forgiveness. These are the virtues we will be insisting on: love and forgiveness, objectivity and truth. This is not political language and that makes our approach different. As we take part in that meeting, we the religious leaders, we will invest in all those virtues that make man: truth. If intellectually, you see someone saying something good, by virtue of intellectual honesty, you have to accept it as the truth. When someone else brings up an idea that you accept or disagrees, but you find out that, it might help solve a problem, you need to concede and it shows that, you have truth in you and also that, if you claim to be an intellectual, then you are an honest intellectual. We must learn to be truthful and honest intellectually. In Anglophone Cameroon or Southern Cameroon, there are several opinions on the current crisis and also how to solve it. Anyone who refuses that is not honest but the conference will help to come up with a common ground.
PAV: Do you think the government will accept or authorised your conference?
Cardinal Christian Tumi: the Anglophones are not coming together with a fix political or should I say, they don’t have a fix position or one stand on the current crisis rocking their country or region. There are those who are for secession, others are for federation and others are for decentralization that the President of the country is proposing. All we are saying is that, anybody who wants to be part of this dialogue must be objective. That is to say, you must be ready to take and give. I have spoken with some Anglophones who say, especially those in the Diaspora and who claim 90% of Southern Cameroonians are for secession, then I ask them, how do you know? What is your basis for making such claims? I tell them, I can also affirm that, 90% of Southern Cameroonians are for two states federation, but what will be my basis? This come together, I repeat will permit us to know who is who in Anglophone Cameroon.
PAV: finally, I am not in any way putting in doubt your integrity, but can you affirm before God and man here that you not being remotely controlled by the regime or fronting for Dr Munzu?
Cardinal Christian Tumi: Only God knows. To be frank with you, I was never consulted by anyone or groups of individual not even the government to make any intervention on this crisis. If I am not convinced personally of something, no matter how it is being presented to me or by whom, I don’t accept it. May be because the idea of the conference came from this house, some groups have started thinking that, it will be a start to solving the problem, hence they think I have been influenced by somebody or an occult group or groups, as claimed by a French-language daily, Info-Martin of today. I repeat, no one has influenced me or is influencing me. All I and other religious leaders are saying is that, peace, love and forgiveness should be given a chance.
Cameroon in crisis as President Biya refuses to compromise
July 29, 2018 | 2 Comments
Elections in October may make dialogue even more difficult
By Jude Mutah*
In the lead up to the polls in October 2018, a political crisis is deepening in Cameroon. At 85, Paul Biya, president since 1982, plans to run for a seventh term. Having abolished presidential term limits in 2008, he is sure to be re-elected in the face of an opposition that is both weak and fractured
For many Cameroonians, their fears transcend the looming electoral crisis. After decades of marginalization of its Anglophone communities, Cameroon risks civil war, with the country deeply and sharply polarized along linguistic and cultural fault lines – Francophone and Anglophone.
Government repression exacerbated grievances
In October 2016, protests erupted in the Anglophone regions, motivated by concerns over marginalization, political exclusion and the state’s preference for French over English. As a report of the Human Rights Watch revealed, the government’s reaction was brutal, and hundreds of protesters were arrested and charged with terrorism. Security forces continue to indiscriminately arrest, kill and torture innocent civilians.
Protests that started with a demand for reforms have morphed into an armed conflict, with self-described ‘Ambazonia’ of the Anglophone regions, making outright calls for secession. Biya has labeled the protesters as extremists and terrorists and refused to entertain dialogue. Hundreds have died, with over 200,000 displaced within Cameroon, and at least 40,000 have fled to neighboring Nigeria.
While the Boko Haram terror group is most associated with Nigeria, since 2013, at least 2,500 Cameroonians have died from the insurgency. There have been some 30 Boko Haram attacks in Cameroon this year.
Cameroon has benefited from US military support in the fight against Boko Haram and recorded some successes against the group. However, military aid alone cannot contain the threat posed by Boko Haram, whose expansion has both socioeconomic and political consequences. Also, military support may also have led to undesirable results: in 2017, Cameroonian troops trained by the United States have been accused of torturing innocent citizens. Recent evidence of extrajudicial executions by security forces is revealing.
The protracted conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR) also affects the eastern region of the country. Currently, Cameroon hosts 250,000 refugees from the CAR and is struggling to support these refugees adequately. An increase in refugee numbers could further threaten Cameroon’s stability.
The Imperative for dialogue
Despite calls by the African Union, United Nations, Commonwealth, European Union and the United States, urging dialogue as the way out of the crisis, the prospects for peace are still not bright. Elections in such a context could further entrench hardline positions. As Hilary Matfess argues, ‘if any perception of illegitimacy in the electoral process deepens, the current level of violence could take an even deadlier turn.’ But even if elections pass off without significant violence or dispute, Cameroon’s problems will be far from over. The expectation is that President Biya should take concrete steps towards initiating dialogue. The international community should engage him on this.
*Jude Mutah works for the Africa Program at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington DC. He is a doctorate student at the School of Public and International Affairs, University of Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
Secretary-General appoints Mr. Victor Kisob of Cameroon as Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)
July 26, 2018 | 0 Comments
Mr. Kisob brings to the position more than two decades of service in human resources management
NEW YORK, United States of America, July 25, 2018/ — United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today announced the appointment of Victor Kisob of Cameroon as Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat). He succeeds Aisa Kirabo Kacyira of Rwanda, to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for her dedicated service to the Organization.
Mr. Kisob brings to the position more than two decades of service in human resources management; spanning international affairs, policy, strategy, operations, knowledge management and partnerships, coupled with a comprehensive background in the field within the United Nations system, in Somalia, Israel, Palestine, Zambia and Ethiopia.
He is currently Director of the Learning, Development and Human Resources Services Division in United Nations Office of Human Resources Management (OHRM) in New York, a position he assumed in 2015 and during which time he also assumed the responsibilities of Officer-in-Charge and Acting Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management (2016-2017). Mr. Kisob joined the United Nations in 1989 and has served the Organization in various capacities, including as Director of the United Nations Ebola Response Liaison Office, New York (2014-2015), Principal Officer of the United Nations Executive Office of the Secretary-General, New York (2012-2014), Chief of Staffing Service, New York (2008-2012) and Chief of Recruitment and Placement at the United Nations Office at Vienna, Austria (2001-2008).
Mr. Kisob holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from Saint John’s University in Minnesota, USA and a Master of Arts in Development Banking from the American University in Washington D.C., USA.
In his new role, Mr. Kisob will assist United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif, in the overall management and ongoing reform of UN-Habitat, helping the Organization achieve its mandate, specifically in the implementation of the New Urban Agenda, Sustainable Development Goal 11 and the urban dimensions of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.
Gitmo 2 raising family in Ghana – Amb. Jackson
July 26, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Papisdaff Abdullah
Outgoing United States (US) ambassador to Ghana, Robert P. Jackson, has disclosed that the two former Guantanamo Bay detainees in Ghana also known as Gitmo 2, have married in Ghana and given birth and are well integrated into the Ghanaian society now.
“Both of them are married now; both of them have children now; both of them are well integrated into Ghana,” he stated.
He has therefore urged Ghanaians not to worry anymore about the two former detainees being a threat to the peace and security of the country.
Mr Jackson made the disclosure in an interview with the media recently in Accra.
He said contrary to suspicions by a section of the public upon the arrival of the two Yemenis, Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby in Ghana two-and-half-years ago, they have not attracted terrorists nor been a problem to the security of the country.
“I don’t believe Ghanaians should be concerned about their presence here in Ghana based on a track record that is now two and a half years long,” he said, in response to a question as to whether or not the two should now be allowed to leave Ghana after spending the two years agreed upon by the erstwhile Mahama-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration and the US Government.
Foreign Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey told lawmakers in January this year that the former two al-qaeda foot-soldiers were going to continue staying in Ghana as refugees.
What the Eritrea-Ethiopia Peace Deal mean for Africa
July 26, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Prince Kurupati
There were scenes of jubilation in Asmara, the capital of Eritrea when the Ethiopian Prime Minister and his convoy passed through the Asmara streets en route to the Eritrean state house to meet Isaias Afwerki, the Eritrean president. After some deliberations, both the Eritrean President and Ethiopian Prime Minister finally came out and addressed a jovial and emotional crowd, stating what was already obvious i.e. the two countries had finally agreed to end the 20-year war between their respective countries.
Citizens in both countries were ecstatic when the Eritrea-Ethiopia Peace Deal was signed; it meant that they could connect with relatives they had last seen over 20 years ago.
While the Eritrea-Ethiopia Peace Deal is undoubtedly a huge achievement and cause for celebrations for all Eritreans and Ethiopians, it is also at the same time a huge achievement for the Horn of Africa and the African continent as a whole. Below, let’s look at what this Peace Deal means for Africa as a whole.
Political Transformation in the Horn of Africa
The Horn of Africa has been a problematic region for Africa as most of Africa’s conflicts were concentrated there. Over the past years, many conflicts have emerged and subsequently many solutions. However, none of the solutions has been long-lasting. For most people, it had become futile to proffer solutions on conflicts in the Horn of Africa as history was awash with many examples of how dozens of solutions had failed to bring peace and security to the region.
What the Eritrea-Ethiopia Peace Deal does is that it restores confidence in humanity while at the same time transforming the region. Through this Peace Deal, anyone and everyone can note that it is never late to save humanity and seek peace no matter the circumstances. What this Peace Deal also does is that it sets a (good) precedence. Not saying that the deal will not last, but in case it does break down, there is a reason now why governments should seek the path of peace and security as they can draw examples from this Peace Deal. The precedence is not exclusive to Eritrea and Ethiopia only but extends also to other countries that may be involved in a conflict across the continent.
However, perhaps the biggest benefit of this Peace Deal to Africa is that it politically transforms the Horn of Africa. The region has for decades now carried the banner of being ‘unstable’ and whenever examples of unstable countries/regions were sought in the past, the Horn of Africa came to mind. Now, that will no longer be the case, the heavy negative banner has been lifted off the Horn of Africa’s shoulders and it can now plan for its future without being constantly reminded of how unstable it is as a region.
It’s possible to attain peace and security
Another major reason why the Eritrea-Ethiopia Peace Deal is important to Africa is that it reminds the African continent that it’s possible to attain peace and security. There are several conflicts right now on the African continent notably the Anglophone Crisis. Cameroonian separatists are fighting with the Cameroon government forces due to perceived marginalisation. The Eritrea-Ethiopia Peace Deal, therefore, restores the faith that it’s possible for differing parties to discuss their grievances, reach a compromise and pave the way for the attainment of peace and security in the respective regions or countries.
Reduces political refugees
The refugee problem has been a hot topic in Africa and across the world over the past few years. In Africa, the increase in xenophobic cases especially in Malawi, Zambia, and South Africa among others is worrying and it has been attributed to the refugee problem. In some countries especially Kenya and Libya, there are also reports of disturbances emanating from the refugee problem with the latter being accused of engaging in modern-day slave trading through selling captured refugees. Beyond the African borders, the politics of most European countries and also the US has radically transformed and more attention is now being put on migration issues and policies; all this down to Africa’s refugee problem. Studies have shown that a high proportion of refugees come from Eritrea both political and economic refugees. However, with the recently signed Peace Deal, there is likely going to be a massive reduction in the number of Eritrean citizens running from the country and seeking refuge in foreign nations. This will, in turn, lead to a fall in the ripple effects of the refugee problem such as xenophobia.
Defections Hit Nigeria Ruling Party in Blow to Buhari Ahead of Election
July 24, 2018 | 0 Comments
BY PAUL CARSTEN AND Camillus Eboh*
ABUJA (Reuters) – Sixteen senators quit Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s ruling party on Tuesday and the country’s third most senior politician said he might follow suit, in a blow to the leader who seeks re-election next year.
Fourteen of the 16 lawmakers left the All Progressives Congress (APC) to join the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), a letter read on the Senate floor stated. Another two senators later left the ruling party while parliament was in session.
Senate President Bukola Saraki, the number three political leader in Africa’s biggest economy, told Reuters in an interview a few hours later that the chances of him also leaving the APC were “very, very high”.
In a statement, a Buhari spokesman said no harm would be done to the party by the departures and the APC had “done its utmost to stop the defections”, without providing details.
Buhari expressed “total willingness to work with all members of the National Assembly, irrespective of their political party, for the benefit of the nation,” the statement said.
The fissures threaten to split support for Buhari within powerful patronage networks and among voters ahead of the presidential poll scheduled for February 2019 that will decide who runs Africa’s top oil producer.
The defections, and the suggestion that there may be more to come, have taken place just weeks after a faction within the party said it no longer backed Buhari.
Fighting within the APC coalition, which united to unseat Buhari’s predecessor rather than because of ideological unity, has mounted for years in a struggle for power and influence between those loyal to the head of state and others who say they have been targeted in a witch-hunt by the presidency.
Divisions emerged publicly in the weeks following the APC’s conference in June where new party leaders were elected. Others saw their hopes of greater powers within the party dashed just months before the presidential and legislative elections.
The PDP, which was in power from the start of civilian rule in 1999 until Buhari took office in 2015, said in a tweet that 32 lawmakers in the lower House of Representatives had also joined from the APC.
The defections may also make it harder for Buhari to enact his legislative agenda for the remainder of his first term.
Saraki, speaking to Reuters, said he was considering his next move. “I will spend the next few days consulting with my colleagues who have defected and also my other colleagues from my state and make my announcement very soon,” he said.
He ran unopposed for the post of Senate president, mainly with the support of the opposition even though he is an APC member. He was not his party’s preferred candidate and the manner of his elevation to the office in 2015 led to strains in his relationship with Buhari.
Since then he has been dogged by accusations of misconduct and investigations since becoming Senate president, though none has led to convictions.
Asked about the raft of defections, Saraki said: “I must commend them for their courage because it took a lot for them to be able to do that in the face of this level of intimidation and harassment.”
The Senate president and his supporters say he has been targeted by political opponents, most recently on Tuesday morning when he said his movements, and those of his deputy, were halted by police. Images of the alleged incident were circulated on social media.
Police denied taking that action.
“The force wishes to categorically state that there was no authorized deployment of police personnel to besiege the residence of the Senate president or his deputy as reported in the media,” a police spokesman said.
He said the allegations would be investigated.
Amid an increasingly febrile political backdrop, lawmakers in June issued a series of demands to Buhari including a call for an end to the “systematic harassment and humiliation by the executive of perceived political opponents”.
The president’s supporters have previously rejected the accusations leveled against the former military ruler.
“I am committed to listening to very legitimate grievances and engaging all those who are aggrieved that we can see through their grievances,” Adams Oshiomhole, the APC’s national chairman, told reporters in Abuja after Tuesday’s defections.
However, he said it was best for those motivated solely by personal interest to “return to where they belong”.
Buhari said in April that he would seek another term. His candidacy depends on party approval, though that is usually considered to be a formality for the incumbent.
Nigeria’s main opposition parties earlier this month agreed to form an alliance to field a joint candidate to contest the election.
Ethiopian ‘prophet’ arrested after trying to resurrect corpse
July 22, 2018 | 0 Comments
An aspiring prophet has been arrested in Ethiopia after he failed to bring a dead man back to life
Getayawkal Ayele had tried to revive the corpse of Belay Biftu by lying on top of him and repeatedly yelling “Belay, wake up”.
It was not successful, and his failure enraged family members who began attacking Mr Getayawkal.
He was saved when police arrived shortly afterwards – although it did not mean he was out of trouble.
Abusing dead bodies is a crime under Ethiopian law and a local police commander has told the BBC that the man, whose real job is as a health worker, is now in custody.
The incident was filmed and has since gone viral on social media.
Residents in the small western town of Galilee, in the Oromia region, said Mr Getayawkal first went to the bereaved family and told them the story of Lazarus – who according to the New Testament was brought back to life by Jesus.
They then appear to have agreed to dig up Mr Belay.
After the failed resurrection, several members of the family fainted on the spot while others became angry and started beating Mr Getayawkal – at which point police arrived and arrested him.
China President Xi welcomed in Senegal at start of Africa trip
July 22, 2018 | 0 Comments
DAKAR (Reuters) – China’s President Xi Jinping arrived in Senegal on Saturday for a two-day visit to sign bilateral deals, the first leg of an Africa tour at time when the continent is awash with cheap Chinese loans in exchange for minerals and construction contracts.
China now does more trade with Africa than any other nation and Xi’s trip – his second abroad since starting a second term under new rules that abolished term limits – will also take him to Rwanda and South Africa, for a summit of BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).
China’s consistent overtures to Africa contrast sharply with the United States, whose President Donald Trump has shown little interest in the continent.
He will meet Senegalese President Macky Sall for the third time and sign several deals. China’s ambassador to Senegal Zhang Xun was quoted in the local press in March as saying China had invested $100 million in Senegal in 2017.
Xi was greeted by a brass band and hundreds of people waving Chinese and Senegalese flags and wearing T-shirts with the two leaders’ faces on.
Africa is in the midst of a boom in infrastructure projects, managed and cheaply financed by China and part of Xi’s “Belt and Road” initiative to build a transport network connecting China by land and sea to Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.
China has pledged $126 billion for the plan, which has been praised by its supporters as a source of vital financing for the developing world. In Senegal, Chinese loans have financed a highway linking the capital Dakar to Touba, its second main city, and part of an industrial park on the Dakar peninsula.
Critics say Africa is loading itself up on Chinese debt that it may struggle to repay, with estimates ranging in the tens of billions of dollars. That could leave African nations with no choice but to hand over controlling stakes in strategic assets to the Chinese state.
U.S. officials have warned that a port in the tiny Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti, a host to major U.S. and French military bases, could suffer this fate, although Djibouti rejects the fear.
In Guinea, meanwhile, one of the world’s poorest nations, China is lending $20 billion to the government in exchange for aluminum ore concessions.
As well as trade and minerals, China has also seen Africa as a source of political support. Chinese diplomacy has, as of May this year, succeeded in isolating every African country except the monarchy of Swaziland from Taiwan, which China sees as a renegade province.