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Help Trigger Necessary Political Will in Africa -Akufo-Addo To Moot Court Participants
August 8, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

President Akufo Addo

President Akufo Addo

Ghana’s President Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo has charged participants at this year’s Human Rights Moot Court Competition to use the academic exercise to trigger the necessary political will in their respective countries on the African continent to deepen respect for human rights.

Delivering the keynote address at the 27th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition at the Great Hall, University of Ghana Monday, President Akufo-Addo said that on the 19th of December, 2018, the world would be celebrating the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The declaration, according to the President, has since been the basis of considerable advancement in the universal protection of human rights. The enforcement of the global instrument in Africa, however, cannot be said to have been fully achieved yet.

President Akufo-Addo thus said the inhabitants of the African continent have a sacred task to ensure that the fight for the protection and respect of human rights remains a constant one.

Quoting from, Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, President Akufo-Addo said, “One could hardly think of a better way to advance the cause of human rights than to bring together students who are the leaders, judges and teachers of tomorrow, from different countries, with Chief Justices and Professors, to debate some of the crucial issues of our time in the exciting and challenging atmosphere of a courtroom, where they can test their arguments and skills against one another in a spirit of fierce but friendly competition.”

On that score, President Akufo-Addo urged the “mooters” to argue out their views on human rights strongly to catch the attention of the leaders of the continent for their necessary action.

Representative of the Organizers

The Director of the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria, (organizers of the Moot Court Competition), Professor Frans Vilijoen, in his address expressed the excitement of the organizers over the kind of energy and preparation being invested into the competition by all 19 countries who are participating in this year’s challenge.

He also commended the University of Ghana for the tremendous investment they have made in ensuring that the competition goes on smoothly.

The Moot Court Competition

The African Human Rights Moot Court Competition is the largest gathering of students, academics and judges around the theme of human rights in Africa.

This annual event brings together all law faculties in Africa, whose top students argue a hypothetical human rights case as if they were before the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The competition continuously prepares new generations of lawyers to argue cases of alleged human rights violations before the African Court.

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Mnangagwa In Firm Control As President Elect Basks In Glow of Congratulatory Messages
August 8, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

President Mnangagwa  has been basking in the glow of congratulatory messages

President Mnangagwa has been basking in the glow of congratulatory messages

On Monday the 30th of July 2018, Zimbabweans residing in the country went to cast their votes to choose their representatives in local government and the House of Assembly as well as to elect a ‘new’ president.

On Election Day, there was no report of any election-related violence, a stark contrast to what happened in previous elections when numerous election-related violence cases were recorded. Almost all polling stations closed at 7 pm on Election Day with a few closing later as there were still people queuing to cast their votes.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) started announcing its election results the following day, first to be announced both by ZEC and at District Command Centres were local government election results. Next, to be announced, this time by ZEC only were House of Assembly election results. After all the House of Assembly results were announced, ZEC took a few hours (nearly a day) before announcing the Presidential election results.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, the president of ZANU (PF) was declared the President-Elect assuming the mandate of leading Zimbabwe for the following five years.

Soon after the announcement of the results, congratulatory messages from all corners of the world started to pour in for Emmerson Mnangagwa. Below is a rundown of the congratulatory messages directed to president-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa from different world leaders and global influential persons.

A high number of influential people and leaders from across the globe took turns to congratulate Emmerson Mnangagwa on his victory. Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Snr in a statement said that he congratulates “His Excellency Emmerson Mnangagwa as the democratically elected President of The Republic of Zimbabwe.” He went on to thank the majority of Zimbabweans who “voted in peace, demonstrating their determination to strengthen democracy in their country.”

The President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko sent a message to president-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa stating that he is confident that the leadership of Mnangagwa will “contribute to the prosperity of the country and the quality of life of people.” He went further to state that he expects the cordial relations between his country and Zimbabwe to strengthen.

From South Africa, the African National Congress (ANC) which is the ruling party sent a message which reads, “We want to take this opportunity to congratulate ZANU (PF) for having won a majority of seats in the Zimbabwean National Assembly. We also congratulate Mr Emmerson Mnangagwa on his election as president of Zimbabwe.” ANC President and also the President of The Republic of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa tweeted, “Congratulations to His Excellency Emmerson Mnangagwa on his election as President of Zimbabwe. We urge the people of Zimbabwe to accept the outcome of the election, or follow the legal route should they wish to challenge it. We look forward to great working relations with you.”

According to several media outlets, Cyril Ramaphosa also called Emmerson Mnangagwa and directly congratulated him.

Also from South Africa, the Economic Freedom Fighters, a party led by Julius Malema sent a congratulatory message which reads, “The EFF congratulates the newly elected President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa of ZANU (PF)… We take this opportunity to wish him well in his tenure as new President in a Zimbabwe free of Mugabe’s autocratic leadership… We call on all Zimbabweans, in particular, the opposition parties, to accept the electoral outcome and continue to build the new Zimbabwe based on peace and stability.”

From Burundi, President Pierre Nkurunziza tweeted, “Dear Mr President @edmnangagwa, on behalf of the Burundian People and on my own behalf, I would like to extend my sincere congratulations on your election as President of Zimbabwe. I wish you much success and good health for the prosperity of your country and Africa.”

President John Magufuli from Tanzania tweeted, “Cde. Mnangagwa On behalf of the Government and people of Tanzania, I convey my sincere congratulations on your victory in the Presidential Election of Zimbabwe. Your victory is a reflection of the confidence reposed in you by the people of Zimbabwe in leading them to prosperity.”

Inside the country, the president-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa also received congratulatory messages from The Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs in Zimbabwe, Cdes Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri (national chairperson), Pupurai Togarepi (Secretary for Youths Affairs), Marble Chinomona (Secretary for Women’s Affairs), Engelbert Rugeje (Political Commissar), Obert Mpofu (Secretary for Administration) and Simon Khaya Moyo (Secretary for Information and Publicity) among others.

 

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Tanzania appoint former Nigeria winger Amuneke as head coach
August 7, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Andrew Jackson Oryada*

Emmanuel Amuneke represented Nigeria at the 1994 World Cup

Emmanuel Amuneke represented Nigeria at the 1994 World Cup

Tanzania have appointed former Nigeria winger Emmanuel Amuneke as the new head coach of the national team.

Amuneke, who was most recently coach of Sudan Premier League side Al Khartoum SC, has signed a two-year contract.

“I am happy to start this new job and work hard so that we can achieve a lot together,” Amuneke told local media.

His first competitive game in charge of the senior Taifa Stars will be their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Uganda in September.

Amuneke, 47, replaces local coach Salum Mayanga who had been in charge of Tanzania since last year.

Wallace Karia, president of the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) told the BBC that Amuneke will also oversee the other Tanzania teams, including the U-17 and U-20 groups.

“We shall have coaches for the other teams, but Amuneke will be the head starting with the 2019 African U-17 qualifiers which kick-off in Dar es Salaam this weekend.

“We are happy to have Amuneke who has played at the top and has a lot of experience as a coach. We have picked our very own from Africa,” added Karia.

Amuneke was the assistant coach when Nigeria won the Fifa U-17 World Cup trophy for a record fourth time in the United Arab Emirates in 2013.

Two years later Amuneke led Nigeria to a fifth U-17 World Cup title in Chileand, revered as a proven youth manager, he was swiftly promoted to coach the U-20 side the Flying Eagles.

As a player, he was a key part of the Super Eagles team, scoring both goals at the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia where Nigeria beat Zambia 2-1 to secure their second African title.

He also played at the 1994 World Cup – scoring memorable goals against Bulgaria and Italy.

He scored the winner again as Nigeria stunned Argentina 3-2 in the 1996 Olympic football final in Atlanta to become the first African football nation to win Olympic gold.

His clubs included Egyptian side Zamalek, and he played at European football heavyweights FC Barcelona and Portugal’s Sporting Club.

 *BBC
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Trump to host Kenyan president at White House
August 7, 2018 | 0 Comments

 

President Uhuru Kenyatta shakes US President Donald Trump's hand before a performance by the La Scala Philharmonic Orchestra in the ancient Greek theatre as part of the G7 Summit in Taormina, Sicily, Italy, May 26, 2017. PHOTO: TWITTER

President Uhuru Kenyatta shakes US President Donald Trump’s hand before a performance by the La Scala Philharmonic Orchestra in the ancient Greek theatre as part of the G7 Summit in Taormina, Sicily, Italy, May 26, 2017. PHOTO: TWITTER

President Trump is scheduled to host Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta later this month to discuss trade and security, the White House announced Monday.

Kenyatta will visit the White House on Aug. 27, marking his first trip to Washington, D.C., since Trump took office.

“The meeting between the two leaders will reaffirm the longstanding relationship between the United States and Kenya as a cornerstone of peace and stability in Africa and the broader Indo-Pacific region,” the White House said in a statement.

 Trump inflamed tensions with African countries earlier this year when he reportedly asked during a closed-door meeting with lawmakers why so many immigrants were coming to the United States from “shithole countries” including some African nations, Haiti and El Salvador.

The White House did not directly deny he made the comments. Trump later tweeted that he used “tough” language in the meeting.

The remarks sparked outrage from Democrats and some Republicans, who condemned the language as racist.

Prior to running for president, Trump incited blowback and accusations of racist rhetoric when he falsely claimed that former President Obama was born in Kenya.

Obama, who was born in Hawaii and never lived in Kenya, visited the African nation last month, where he urged its leaders to celebrate the nation’s diversity.

Obama, who was in the country for the opening of an educational center run by his half-sister, praised Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga for improving rifts between ethnic groups and encouraged them to see diversity as a “strength.”

*Culled from The Hill

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Djibouti does not recognize the Arbitral Award rendered by the London International Arbitral Court
August 6, 2018 | 0 Comments
Press Service – Presidency of the Republic of Djibouti
 DJIBOUTI CITY, Djibouti, August 3, 2018/ — On February 22, 2018, the State of Djibouti terminated the concession for the Doraleh container terminal, awarded in 2006 to Doraleh Container Terminal (DCT), a company controlled de facto by the minority shareholder DP World.

The implementation of this concession contract has proved to be contrary to the fundamental interests of the Republic of Djibouti. The continuation of the concession contract was seriously prejudicial to the country’s development imperatives and to the control of its most strategic infrastructure.

Several attempts to renegotiate the concession with DP World, initiated by the government, were unsuccessful because of DP World’s repeated refusal to hear the legitimate objections and requests of the Djiboutian State.

This termination, which was therefore necessary and unavoidable, is made in accordance with international public law which recognizes the ability of a sovereign state to unilaterally terminate a contract on public interest grounds, subject to payment of fair compensation to the other party. The termination was decided in the context of a transparent procedure. It finds its legal basis in a law enacted by the Djiboutian Parliament on November 8, 2017, aimed at protecting the fundamental interests of the Nation, completed by a decree dated February 22, 2018.

DCT, at DP World’s request, nevertheless decided to oppose it and initiated arbitration proceedings before the LCIA (London Court of International Arbitration) with the aim, publicly announced by DP World, of resuming as soon as possible its rights on the concession and thus the operation of the Doraleh container terminal.

Logically, the Republic of Djibouti did not participate in this procedure, considering that LCIA would only judge this dispute on the basis of the terms of a contract contrary to Djibouti’s fundamental interests.

On 31 July 2018, the sole arbitrator appointed under the aegis of LCIA rendered a partial arbitral award, which the Government of the Republic of Djibouti has become aware of.

The sole arbitrator has concluded that the concession contract could not be terminated by the Government of the Republic of Djibouti under the law passed by the Djiboutian Parliament on November 8, 2017 and considered that the contract was still in force.

The Republic of Djibouti does not recognize this arbitral award which consists in qualifying the law of a sovereign State as illegal.

Indeed, the arbitral award seems to consider that the terms of the concession contract entered into between the Port of Djibouti and DCT, are above Djiboutian law. It disregards the sovereignty of the Republic of Djibouti and takes no account of public international law rules.

In other words, a contract would have a higher value than a law adopted in the name of a sovereign nation.

Moreover and in any case, DP World’s approach which consists in trying to oppose the will of a sovereign State is unrealistic and doomed to failure. The concession contract has been terminated, the staff and assets of the concession were transferred to a public company specifically created for this purpose and which now manages this infrastructure.

That is why, in this case, only an outcome consisting in the payment of a fair compensation in accordance with the principles of international law can be envisaged.

 

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Foretia Foundation Gets Special Consultative Status with the UN.
August 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

This is a strong recognition of the work we have been doing on the ground says Dr Denis Foretia, Foundation Chair

This is a strong recognition of the work we have been doing on the ground says Dr Denis Foretia, Foundation Chair

The past recent months in Cameroon have been turbulent as the country continues to battle its demons. However, it’s not all doom and gloom as several individuals and institutions are taking it upon themselves to change and turn the prevailing situation into something better, in turn, uplifting the lives of Cameroonians. One such institution is the Denis & Lenora Foretia Foundation Inc. whose efforts and work in bringing much-needed change and development to Cameroon were recognised by the United Nations on the 24th of July this year.

On the 24th of July 2018, the Denis & Lenora Foretia Foundation Inc. became one of the very first institutions in the history of Cameroon to be bestowed with the prestigious Special consultative status. The Special consultative status is a special grant that’s bestowed to organisations which are doing incredible work in the field of economics, social development and governance.

Speaking after the historic decision by the United Nations, Foretia Foundation co Chair, Dr Denis Foretia could not hide his happiness. In his own words, Dr Denis Foretia said that “Becoming an organisation in special consultative with the United Nations is a strong recognition of the impact of the work the Foundation has been doing in uplifting Cameroonians and seek Cameroonian solutions to Cameroonian problems. This recognition serves as a major encouragement to our team, to continue open doors for many and seek ways of improving the livelihood of fellow citizens.”

In order to have a better appreciation of the reasons that motivated the United Nations to grant the Foretia Foundation the Special consultative status, it’s imperative that we first take a look at the work being done by the organisation.

Work that’s being done by the Foretia Foundation to uplift the lives of Cameroonians

Foretia Foundation is involved in a number of activities in Cameroon all of which are aimed towards improving the standard of living in the country as well as uplifting the great nation of Cameroon. The first program that’s being run by the organisation is the Sustainable Development Program. Under this program, the organisation crafts and formulates alternative policies meant at ensuring equitable economic growth today and for future generations. The organisation drafts alternate policies in a number of fields including education, public health, and private-sector growth as well as government policies.

The Foundation has been consistent with programs that inspire and empower young Cameroonians

The Foundation has been consistent with programs that inspire and empower young Cameroonians

Secondly, the organisation runs a Governance & Democracy Initiative. The aim of this initiative is to encourage Cameroonians to actively take part in governance issues. Foretia Foundation views citizen participation as a key tool in building robust democratic institutions and as such it organises regular policy forums, workshops, debates with the masses in an effort to arouse the interest in active citizenry.

Thirdly, Foretia Foundation believes that “Small businesses help drive economic growth by creating employment and allowing the growth of a veritable middle class.” As such, the organisation runs a program termed the Small Business & Entrepreneurship program. The main focus of this problem is to empower young people and women to venture into entrepreneurship as a way of reducing the high unemployment rate. The foundation empowers young women and people in a number of ways including improving access to market opportunities, reducing the problem of information asymmetry by providing real-time information of business opportunities, facilitating collaboration with various stakeholders and promoting a strong business culture in the country.

The organisation also works hard to tackle the significant health challenges that are faced in Cameroon. Through different strategies some of which include formulating alternative health policies that focus on food security and childhood illnesses among many others.

Foretia Foundation also has its own think-tank, the Nkafu Policy Institute. This think-tank covers a lot of areas and its work is not confined to Cameroon alone but it also provides independent, in-depth and insightful policy recommendations that advance the economies of other sub-Saharan countries.

Lastly, the foundation plays its part in reducing the high unemployment rate in the country as it has an internship program that ‘employs’ and imparts undergraduates, graduates or professional students with relevant skills which will make them succeed in their future endeavours in the corporate world.  Among other things, the interns at the Foretia Foundation assist the Nkafu Policy Institute with extensive research, analysis, briefing and report writing for current initiatives and in preparation of policy briefs, reviews and analyses, assist with administrative responsibilities relating to the daily operations of the institute, and they are also responsible for developing the content for all foundation events such as lectures, panels, conferences and forums.

Celebrating the Mandela Centennial

Celebrating the Mandela Centennial

What the Special consultative status means for the Foretia Foundation.

Marc-André Dorel, the Acting Chief NGO Branch Office of Intergovernmental Support and Coordination for Sustainable Development Department of Economic and Social Affairs was the official entrusted by the United Nations to relay the message in a letter that the Foretia Foundation had been granted the Special consultative status.

In his letter, Marc-André Dorel stated what the Foretia Foundation stands to benefit as a special consultative partner to the United Nations. Firstly, the consultative status enables the organisation to actively engage with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and its subsidiary bodies, as well as with the United Nations Secretariat, programmes, funds and agencies in a number of ways. This means the foundation will be able to consult with the Member States and the United Nations system at large, based on the nature and scope of work that it undertakes.

Before ECOSOC relays its agenda to the public, the foundation will have the privilege to be informed about the provisional agenda of ECOSOC. After reviewing ECOSOC agenda before its release to the public, the foundation will also have the privilege to request the Secretary-General, through the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, to place items of special interest in the provisional agenda. However, the final and binding decision lies with Secretary-General whether to incorporate the request/s or to ignore them.

Foretia Foundation also now can attend meetings and have direct access to the United Nations. The foundation is free to either designate official representatives to the United Nations Headquarters in New York and the United Nations offices in Geneva and Vienna (permanent) or sit as observers at public meetings of ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies, General Assembly, Human Rights Council and other United Nations intergovernmental decision-making bodies (temporary). For the former, nominated representatives are required to collect their grounds passes in person at designated locations in New York, Geneva and Vienna.

In addition to providing written statements to ECOSOC, the Foretia Foundation now as a result of its consultative status can present oral presentations before the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations.

Additionally, as a consultative status, Foretia Foundation now has the privilege of using United Nations facilities including accommodation for conferences or smaller meetings related to the work of ECOSOC, facilities for obtaining documents during public meetings of the General Assembly that deal with matters in the economic and social and related fields, access to United Nations press documentation services, and the use of United Nations libraries.

In return to the above privileges, Foretia Foundation is required to fulfil its own set of responsibilities. These responsibilities include submitting quadrennial reports as and when they are required i.e. once every four years. Failure to abide by these responsibilities will lead to the suspension and withdrawal of the consultative status.

Other notable factors which may lead to the suspension and cancellation of the consultative status include involvement either directly or through its affiliates or representatives acting on its behalf, clearly abuses its status by engaging in a pattern of acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and if there exists substantiated evidence of influence from proceeds resulting from internationally recognized criminal activities. In addition, the organisation has to refrain from entering into business arrangements on behalf of the United Nations or misuse the United Nations’ name or logo for endorsement of an organization’s activities in any way.

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Will Djibouti Become Latest Country to Fall Into China’s Debt Trap?
August 6, 2018 | 0 Comments
The African country houses a key U.S. military base, making it a particular concern for Washington
 

People's Liberation Army personnel attending the opening ceremony of China's new military base in Djibouti. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

This photo taken on August 1, 2017 shows Chinese People’s Liberation Army personnel attending the opening ceremony of China’s new military base in Djibouti.
China has deployed troops to its first overseas naval base in Djibouti, a major step forward for the country’s expansion of its military presence abroad. / AFP PHOTO / STR / China OUT (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON D.C., United States of America, August 1, 2018/ — Djibouti lies more than 2,500 miles from Sri Lanka but the East African country faces a predicament similar to what its peer across the sea confronted last year: It has borrowed more money from China than it can pay back.

In both countries, the money went to infrastructure projects under the aegis of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Sri Lanka racked up more than $8 billion worth of debt to Chinese sovereign-backed banks at interest rates as high as 7 percent, reaching a level too high to service. With nearly all its revenue going toward debt repayment, last year Sri Lanka resorted to signing over a 70 percent stake and a 99-year lease to the new Chinese-built port at Hambantota.

Djibouti is projected to take on public debt worth around 88 percent of the country’s overall $1.72 billion GDP, with China owning the lion’s share of it, according to a report published in March by the Center for Global Development.

It, too, may face the possibility of handing over some key assets to China.

As Chinese President Xi Jinping continues to push lending to developing countries, policy analysts are sounding alarm bells about the fate of smaller nations biting off more than they can chew—and the strategic possibilities opening to China as a result.

Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to revive and expand the ancient Silk Road trade routes on land and at sea, has become the crown jewel of his foreign policy since 2013, shortly after coming to power. Government officials regularly talk up the initiative and state media outlets give it broad coverage.

But many of the projects have stalled in the early stages of planning, and the dollar amount attached is left vague.

More importantly, the countries involved are often seduced by the appeal of large infrastructure projects that are financially destabilizing. Eight of the 68 countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative currently face unsustainable debt levels, including Pakistan and the Maldives, according the Center for Global Development’s report.

Its vulnerability notwithstanding, Djibouti has been keen to work with Beijing. It partnered with China Merchants Ports Holdings Company, or CMPort—the same state-owned corporation that gained control of the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka—to build the Doraleh Multipurpose Port. That project was completed in May 2017.

Earlier this month, Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh described the new Djibouti International Free Trade Zone, a $3.5-billion venture with China, as a “hope for thousands of young jobseekers.”

But the most noteworthy development in Djibouti—and the most worrying for the United States—is China’s first overseas military base, which is located 6 miles from the U.S. military’s only permanent base in Africa. From Camp Lemonnier, where about 4,000 U.S. troops are stationed, the United States coordinates operations in “areas of active hostilities” in Somalia and Yemen.

In the past year, U.S. diplomats and generals have grown increasingly concerned that the base will provide China a foothold at the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a strategic chokepoint in international maritime trade. About 4 percent of the global oil supply passes through this waterway connecting the Gulf of Aden with the Red Sea each year.

Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, who commands the U.S. Africa Command, said in a testimony before the House Armed Services Committee in March that the United States was “carefully monitoring Chinese encroachment and emergent military presence” in Djibouti. Local relations between the two great-power rivals have become especially strained in 2018, with each lodging grievances against the other.

China, for its part, maintains that the naval facility will serve as a logistics hub for its anti-piracy, humanitarian, and emergency evacuation missions. The live-ammunition drills conducted at the base should be interpreted as “legitimate and reasonable” exercises for counterterrorism operations, a commentator told the state-owned Global Times.

But satellite images of the People’s Liberation Army base may reveal its true purpose. A retired Indian Army intelligence officer noted last September that the 200-acre facility includes at least 10 barracks, an ammunition depot, and a heliport. Four layers of protective fences surround the perimeter; the two inner fences are eight to 10 meters tall and studded with guard posts. The purported logistical support base is rather a fortress that may accommodate thousands of soldiers. More than 2,500 Chinese peacekeeping personnel are already stationed in countries such as South Sudan, Liberia, and Mali.

“There is nowhere else in the world where the U.S. military is essentially co-located in close proximity to a country it considers a strategic competitor,” said Kate Almquist Knopf, the director of the Defense Department’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies.

“This is not something the Pentagon is used to,” she said.

One concern is that the Djibouti government, facing mounting debt and increasing dependence on extracting rents, would be pressured to hand over control of Camp Lemonnier to China.

In a letter to National Security Advisor John Bolton in May, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), two members of the Senate Armed Service Committee, wrote that President Guelleh seems willing to “sell his country to the highest bidder,” undermining U.S. military interests.

“Djibouti’s now identified as one of those countries that are at high risk of debt distress. So, that should be sending off all sorts of alarm bells for Djiboutians as well as for the countries that really rely on Djibouti, such as the United States,” said Joshua Meservey, a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation.

“Policymakers are becoming more and more aware of this. The challenge is that there isn’t a strong sense of how to effectively push back or compete with China on some of these issues.”

Meservey says there are simple steps the United States could take to start balancing out China’s expanding influence, including institutionalizing the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit—a one-off event in 2014 hosted by President Barack Obama. The U.S. government should also incentivize private sector investment in Africa, he said, thus creating competition with Chinese state-backed dollars on the continent.

Other analysts believe China’s debt-driven expansion could backfire on Beijing. Jonathan Hillman, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said one “underappreciated dimension” of China’s predatory lending projects in Africa was the uncertainty that Beijing takes on by doling out trillions of dollars abroad.

“If these projects do not go well, there is a financial and reputational risk to China,” Hillman said.

“The port in Sri Lanka gets a lot of attention, but not too far from the port is an airport that now no plane flies into. That’s not a good advertisement for Chinese soft power or China’s strength or reliability as a partner.”

*This article was first published on Foreign Policy: https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/07/31/will-djibouti-become-latest-country-to-fall-into-chinas-debt-trap/.  Amy Cheng is an editorial intern at Foreign Policy. @Amy_23_Cheng

 

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AccorHotels Expands Presence in Nigeria
August 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

-New project signings mark the launch of MGallery and Pullman brands in Nigeria

Engr Kola Ogundayo, Managing Director of Tom Hawksworth Limited  and Olivier Granet, CEO, AccorHotels Middle East and Africa

Engr Kola Ogundayo, Managing Director of Tom Hawksworth Limited and Olivier Granet, CEO, AccorHotels Middle East and Africa

AccorHotels, the world’s leading travel & lifestyle group, today announced the beginning of a new partnership with TomHawksworth Limited, a prominent property and real estate developer, with the signing of Pullman and MGallery Ikoyi in Nigeria. The signings mark the launch of both in the country and are expected to open in late 2020.

The 100-room MGallery and 204-room Pullman, situated in the prime neighbourhood of Ikoyi, are both in close proximity to the business area of Victoria Island. The MGallery Ikoyi benefits from easy access to the upmarket residential neighbourhood of Ikoyi and Banana Island. The Pullman Ikoyi, located on Ojora Road, enjoys prime visibility and direct access to destinations such as the Lekki Area.

Following the signing, Olivier Granet, Chief Executive Officer of AccorHotels Middle East and Africa (MEA), commented: “Since opening our very first hotel in Nigeria almost 20 years ago, we believed in the long term potential of the destination having witnessed incredible growth as one of the largest economies in Africa. As the market continues to evolve, there is a need for international brands and it is our commitment to fill this gap with two of our leading upper upscale brands – MGallery and Pullman.”

“With today’s signings with TomHawksworth Group, our valued partner, we are delighted to be entrusted with such an ambitious project. It not only reinforces our regional presence within Abuja and Lagos, but throughout West Africa and the entire continent, as well. Our leadership position in the luxury and upscale segment has taken shape with a growing interest for Pullman with over 15 hotels in our Africa and Middle East network as well as our storied collection of boutique hotels under the MGallery brand, with a property in Addis Ababa to open within the year.”

Engineer Adekola Ogundayo, Managing Director of TomHawksworth Limited said: “The signing of these two landmark agreements reflects our vision and mission to become one of the leading property developers and managers in Nigeria. Through our partnership with AccorHotels, we are delighted to introduce a boutique brand like MGallery and a cosmopolitan upper upscale concept such as Pullman to Nigeria. We look forward to working with AccorHotels to develop and manage what will undoubtedly become flagship hotels.”

MGallery Ikoyi features innovative restaurant and lounge concepts including an all-day dining restaurant, fine dining restaurant and lobby bar, all helping to establish MGallery as a lifestyle destination within Lagos. Drawing inspiration from its surroundings in Ikoyi, MGallery will offer a members’ only club, providing for an exclusive experience in an enviable location. Leisure and fitness based amenities also include a fully equipped gym, swimming pool and a well-appointed spa.

In-line with Pullman’s appeal to cosmopolitan travellers, Pullman Ikoyi features an eclectic range of dining options, including an all-day dining restaurant, pool bar, fine dining restaurant and lobby bar. Retaining the brand’s values of comfort and immersive design, the Pullman Ikoyi serves as an urban refuge with a spa, gym and pool. Pullman Ikoyi includes dedicated meetings and events facilities which will become available following the completion of a second phase of development, including a ballroom and state-of-the-art meeting rooms.

A collection of inimitably enchanting, unique boutique hotels, the debut of MGallery in Nigeria, is a milestone in the expansion of the brand across Africa. MGallery places story making at the heart of the services, amenities, décor and dining concepts across each hotel. Offering a mix of Heritage, Serenity and Signature hotels, MGallery hotels provide one-of-a-kind moments, spirited by local experiences, lively food and beverages and customized discovery tours. MGallery Ikoyi will join four other MGallery hotels located in Africa.

Pullman Hotels & Resorts is a cosmopolitan collection, delivering a modern, upscale, upbeat and immersive experience with global zeitgeist. Pullman is a pioneering travel brand with a remarkable history, dating back more than 150 years. Pullman has become a prominent upper upscale brand in Africa with five properties located across gateway cities and far-flung destinations such as Marrakech, Douala and Kinshasa. Existing flagship Pullman properties in Dakar and Abidjan are also undergoing extensive refurbishments to elevate the brand further within the continent. The brand will make its debut in Nairobi and Addis Ababa in the near future.

AccorHotels has eight hotels in operation and in the pipeline in Nigeria. Following the successful reopening
of the fully renovated Pullman Dakar and Pullman Abidjan, the committed network (operational and pipeline) of AccorHotels in the Middle East and Africa is over 300 hotels, representing 80,000 rooms across 30 countries in the region.

AccorHotels is a world-leading travel & lifestyle group and digital innovator offering unique experiences in more than 4,300 hotels, resorts and residences, as well as in over 10,000 of the finest private homes aroun d the globe. Benefiting from dual expertise as an investor and operator, AccorHotels operates in 100 countries. Its portfolio includes internationally renowned luxury brands such as Raffles, Sofitel Legend, SO/, Sofitel, Fairmont, onefinestay, MGallery by Sofitel, Pullman and Swissôtel, the mid-range boutique hotel brands 25hours, Novotel, Mercure, Mama Shelter and Adagio, and very popular budget brands such as JO&JOE, ibis, ibis Styles and ibis budget, as well as the regional brands Grand Mercure, The Sebel and hotelF1. AccorHotels provides innovative end-to-end services across the entire traveler experience, notably through the acquisition of John Paul, world leader in concierge services. With an unmatched collection of brands and rich history spanning close to five decades, AccorHotels, along with its global team of more than 250,000 dedicated women and men, has a purposeful and heartfelt mission: to make every guest Feel Welcome. Guests enjoy access to one of the world’s most rewarding hotel loyalty programs – Le Club AccorHotels. AccorHotels is active in its local communities and committed to sustainable development and solidarity through PLANET 21, a comprehensive program that brings together employees, guests and partners to drive sustainable growth.

 

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Chad: Austerity measures killing students’ dreams and ambitions
August 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Balkissa Ide Siddo*

Students protesting in Chad

Students protesting in Chad

The wind blew and coloured the landscape in dusk-like orange as we settled to meet with a group of university students under a neem tree in a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Chad’s capital, N’Djamena.

It was about 5.30PM. My colleague and I were part-way through a field mission to investigate the devastating impact of government-mandated austerity measures on ordinary people, and we were eager to hear from some of the many students whose bright futures were now in doubt.

16 public university students from different parts of the country had gathered to discuss, to describe to us the financial hardships they have faced since the government decided in August 2016 to scrap the US$53 (XAF 28,000) monthly scholarships for all students, except for those enrolled in medical schools, at vocational universities or studying abroad.

After an introduction about the objectives of the meeting, one of the students stood up and set the tone:

“These decisions are unfair and contradictory to the authorities’ claim according to which education is a key priority […]. They did not consult us,” he said.

“They said they will reinvest the money saved (from cancelling the scholarships) to improve our study conditions through the university student welfare centre… Nothing was done. Our study conditions are dire. Did you visit the Toukra University? We don’t have electricity it’s been over a year now and water on the campus is scarce […]. When we protested against the decision, we were beaten up, arrested and some of us were imprisoned”.

One by one, the students took turn to speak. We listened to their disappointment and sometimes anger over the austerity measures that have sparked numerous protests over the past two years. Even the wind calmed down, as if lending an ear to their testimonies.

Many scholarships scrapped

Besides healthcare, education has been a major casualty of the government’s severe spending cuts. Almost one third of all higher education students in Chad have been affected by the government’s abolition of the monthly scholarships. This is especially crippling for students from marginalized communities such as those from rural areas and poor family backgrounds.

Most of the students that spoke to us under the neem tree come from rural areas and used their scholarships to pay their rent, food, transportation to the university and other bills. Now that these have been scrapped, many students are finding themselves in a dire situation.

“I have six months’ rent arrears and I do not know where to go for support,” said Bachir, and orphan whose family live in a village.

“Before, I used the scholarship – even though it came late – to pay my rent and other needs. Now it doesn’t exist. Since it was cancelled by the authorities, I don’t know what to do.”

Jobs are scarce in Chad 

Some of the luckier students have been able to find jobs as security guards, selling cellphone credit cards or driving motorcycle taxis. But then they struggle to combine work and study, with the majority too often forced to miss classes to earn a little more to make ends meet.

Officials from the Ministry of Higher Education have told us that they plan to reintroduce scholarships for disadvantaged students and to increase the budget of the student’s welfare centre to improve study conditions, but they admitted that none of this had happened and could not confirm when it would.

Piling on further misery – increasing registration fees

In October 2017, the authorities made students’ lives even more difficult by doubling the registration fees for public universities – except for students at medical and vocational schools. A new student now has to pay US$94 to enrol (XAF 50,000). A new re-registration fee was introduced for returning students who must now pay US$53 (XAF 28,000) to continue their studies. Previously, re-registration fees were subsidized by the government.

These higher fees have made it even more difficult for students to pay for their courses and their bills. Most of the 16 students we met told us they feared not being able to continue their studies.

They particularly worried about their friends from rural areas and poorer backgrounds because this new measure would stop people from embarking on the path to higher education, denying them a better future.

Peaceful protests are met with violence and prison 

In protest at the negative impact the government’s austerity cuts have had on their lives and hopes of academic success, many students have taken to the streets in peaceful demonstrations. On several occasions they faced police violence, beatings, and arrests and in some cases imprisonment. Three of them and a 21-year old high school student who joined our discussion later, were arrested and sentenced to prison after taking part in protests against the impact of austerity measures on education.

From January to March 2018, Amnesty International has documented the arrest of at least 150 people for “engaging in unauthorized protests” and “public disorder”. The majority of those arrested were students, at least 42 of them were sentenced to prison terms ranging from one to four months.

Balkissa Ide Siddo

Balkissa Ide Siddo

There is a different way

Instead of using measures that are hitting some of the poorest hardest whether in the education or health sector, the Chadian government should look for alternative ways of balancing their budget. Closing tax loopholes and tackling corruption would have been not just fairer but more effective options in addressing the revenue gap. According to the IMF, Chad lost US$1.09 billion to tax evasion in 2013. This amount is nearly double the country’s total education and health care spending in the same year, which was US$555 million before cuts were applied.

Keeping promises and meeting legal obligations

I can’t help but think about what President Idriss Deby Itno said during the global Partnership for Education Financing Conference in Dakar in February 2018.  Referring to poverty, underdevelopment, conflict and terrorism, President Itno said: “The only sure way to combat these scourges in a sustainable way is to ensure that all children, including the most marginalized, have a good education.”

During the same summit, he also announced that the Chadian government is committed and determined to increase the share of the national budget for education to 20 per cent of the national budget by 2020.

After nightfall, we left the group of students after a few words of encouragement. On our way back to our hotel, my colleague and I were silent. One question remained in my mind: Will the commitment made by President Idriss Deby Itno during the 2018 global Partnership for Education Financing Conference be a reality one day for all these Chadian students yearning for accessible quality education and a better future?

It’s in the hands of the authorities to improve the prospects of all young people in the country.

As a start the authorities need to carry out an assessment of the impact of austerity measures on the rights of Chadian people to access education and other sectors such as health and social services. Such an assessment should be used to guide the law and policy reform needed to ensure that Chad meets its legal obligations to guarantee that everybody has the opportunity to enjoy their economic and social rights.

On 16 July, Amnesty International launched a report to highlight the consequences of the austerity measures on the population’s economic, social and cultural rights.

*Balkissa Ide Siddo, Amnesty International Central Africa Researcher

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South Sudanese foes sign final peace deal
August 5, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

File Picture.Sudan's President Omar Al-Bashir hold hands with Uganda's Yoweri Museveni, South Sudan's Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar during a peace meeting in Khartoum as part of talks to negotiate an end to a civil war that broke out in 2013, June 25, 2018. /REUTERS

File Picture.Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir hold hands with Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, South Sudan’s Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar during a peace meeting in Khartoum as part of talks to negotiate an end to a civil war that broke out in 2013, June 25, 2018. /REUTERS

Kampala – South Sudan warring parties signed final peace deal on Sunday evening in Khartoum, in an efforts ending more than four years of conflict in the youngest nation.

President Salva Kiir, opposition leader Riek Machar, a representative of the former political detainees and representatives for other South Sudan opposition groups signed on the agreement during a signing ceremony at Sudan’s Presidential Palace in Khartoum, capital Sudan.

This peace agreement focuses on powers – sharing (governance) and security between the warring parties.

Sudanese foreign minister Al-Dirdiri Mohamed Ahmed announced that the holdout opposition groups have finally agreed to sign the deal.

This direct peace talks amongst warring parties were hosted under patronage of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

According to this peace, president Kiir will led the transitional government for 36 months, with Riek Machar reinstated as the country’s first vice president and more four vice presidents.

The deal also provides for 35 ministries during the transitional period. According to the deal, there will be 550 members of parliament.

Kiir’s side will take 20 slots in the new 35-member government, while Machar’s SPLM-IO and other smaller opposition groups will take the rest.

Previous peace deal signed held for a months before fighting erupted again in 2016.

South Sudan has just returned to civil war in 2013, two years after her independence from Sudan in 2011. Fighting has claimed tens thousands of people and displaced 2.5 people from their homes. Conflict has ruined oil production, caused economic crisis in the country.

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In Nigeria, Anglophone Cameroonians turn to low paid labour
August 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

Thousands who fled a government crackdown on protests struggle for basic necessities in neighbouring Nigeria.

 By Linus Unah*
Cameroonian refugees gather at an aid centre in Agbokim Waterfalls village to collect food and other items [Linus Unah/Al Jazeera]

Cameroonian refugees gather at an aid centre in Agbokim Waterfalls village to collect food and other items [Linus Unah/Al Jazeera]

Agbokim Waterfalls, Nigeria – Stella Obi wakes every morning in search of odd jobs in Agbokim Waterfalls village in southern Nigeria’s Cross River state.

With a hoe and a machete, the 34-year-old asks locals if they have any work for her on their farms.

She weeds or breaks cocoa pods.

“I get paid between 500 to 1000 naira ($2 to $4) a day,” she tells Al Jazeera as she works the soil in a small vegetable field. “I never tasted this kind of suffering when I was in my village in Cameroon.”

Obi, a mother of six, is among over 180, 000 Cameroonians who fled their homes following a violent crackdown by the Cameroonian government on Anglophone separatists who declared independence from the French-speaking majority on October 1.

More than 21,000 people have crossed the border to Nigeria, according to NGOs, though local emergency officials say the number could be higher, at up to 50,000.

Tensions rose in late 2016 with a strike by barristers and then teachers, both of whom were protesting against the use of French in schools and courts in Cameroon’s English-speaking northwest and southwest regions.

More protests followed in major cities in the regions, with local residents joining rallies.

As calls for either integration or autonomy grew louder, the government stepped in with heavy-handed tactics.

Security forces were deployed to the regions; protests were met with violence, arrests and killings. Hundreds of homes were razed.

The Ambazonia Defence Forces and other rebel groups sprang up and fought back, and armed separatists kidnapped civil servants, torched government buildings, and killed soldiers.

We left everything behind and fled to the forest. My husband tried to go back and gather some things and he was killed.-

STELLA OBI, REFUGEE FROM CAMEROON

Most Cameronian refugees settled in Cross River state, which has a border with southwest Cameroon.

In Agbokim Waterfalls village, Obi and thousands of refugees have little or no access to food, medicine, education, clothing, drinking water and sanitation facilities.

“We left everything behind and fled to the forest,” Obi says, beads of sweat gleaming on her forehead. “My husband [a cocoa buyer] tried to go back and gather some things and he was killed.”

The asylum seekers are mostly staying with host families. Some households raised money for rent after doing odd jobs.

The UNHCR has been supporting the refugees, but it is now struggling with a lack of funds.

“I am becoming frustrated here,” says Obi, who is now joined by two of her children at the farm. “We have only received [support] two times, and sometimes it does not get to all of us, [especially] the sick, old and blind.”

Turning twigs into teeth-cleaning sticks

Across the road, another asylum seeker, 43-year-old Janet Obi, clears shrubs growing beneath large maize stalks, working with so much force that she stops regularly to catch her breath.

She is angered by the government’s use of force on protests.

“My [nephew] was playing outside our home when he was shot by a soldier,” she recalls. “He was innocent, he did nothing wrong. Our people are being shot like animals; we are armless civilians.

“I came to this village with my two children and 21 relatives last year. I used to be a businesswoman dealing in cocoa and fashion wears. Now I am doing anything to survive.”

Janet emphasises the word anything.

Janet Obi, a businesswoman before the conflict started, now works on farms to feed her family [Linus Unah/Al Jazeera]

Some women and children work on building sites, carrying bricks and other materials to make enough money for food.

Others use their income to buy tree branches to make chew sticks – which are used in some parts of Africa to clean teeth – to sell.

Across Agbokim Waterfalls, it is common to see refugees chopping tree branches into twigs.

 
Most Cameroonian refugees in Agbokim make chew sticks to survive [Linus Unah/Al Jazeera]

At an unfinished apartment building in the village centre, Mary Obong and a group of nine children are loading piles of twigs into a 100kg sack.

“I have to make chew sticks to feed my seven children and two of my grandchildren who are staying with me,” Obong says, imploring the children to hurry.

Families hosting refugees give Obong the branches and pay her anything from 1,500 to 3,000 naira ($5 to $10) to fill up a bag. The process could last a week or a little less.

 
Mary Obong is one of thousands of refugees from Cameroon who have fled violence [Linus Unah/Al Jazeera]

After Francophone Cameroon secured independence in 1960, the UN facilitated a referendum that allowed regions under British mandate to either join Nigeria or the larger French-speaking Cameroon.

Southern Cameroon – the present-day northwest and southwest regions – joined the Republic of Cameroon, but a national referendum in 1972 changed Cameroon into a unitary state.

Current President Paul Biya, who came into office in 1982, changed the country’s name in 1984 to the Republic of Cameroon, the initial Francophone territory name.

A second yellow star on the green stripe of the flag was removed, with the government touting the move as a symbol of unity.

However, a group of five elderly Cameroonian refugees who spoke to Al Jazeera say the second star represented the Anglophone regions, and its removal showed that Cameroon was not “one” or “united”.

Cameroon has a population of nearly 24 million people. An estimated 20 percent live in the Anglophone regions.

Eight out of the country’s 10 administrative provinces are Francophone.

Many in the Anglophone community feel marginalised by the French-speaking government in Yaounde, citing a lack of political representation, job opportunities and resources and the imposition of French in schools, official documents and courts.

More than half of Cameroon’s gross domestic product (GDP) comes from the Anglophone regions, according to estimates.

“The bulk of Cameroon’s industrial output, including its only refinery, is in the [Anglophone] Southwest Region, a fact which may partly explain the central government’s urgency in moving to quell secessionist elements,” says Cheta Nwanze, head of research at Lagos-based geopolitical risk consultancy firm, SBM Intelligence.

“What it unintentionally accomplished, however, was to inflame the feeling of discontent and disillusionment among large sections of English-speaking Cameroonians, which has seen the ranks of the separatist fighters increase.”

 
Ntui Patrick Obi, a former Cameroonian policeman, says many refugees would not go back to live under Paul Biya’s rule again [Linus Unah/Al Jazeera]

Discontent is common among the refugees.

“Many resources [such as] crude oil, cocoa, palm oil, timber, rubber, and banana come from our side, but after taking them away they forget us and face the Francophone areas,” former Cameroonian policeman Ntui Patrick Obi, 78, tells Al Jazeera.

“Our children will finish school with all their knowledge and the books they know but there is no work,” says Helen Agbor, an 80-year-old refugee.

“Why would Paul Biya want us to remain in Cameroon? He couldn’t even give our children a broom to sweep the road to get money to eat. Some of them are becoming thieves because of no work. We will resist him until the end.”

 
Cameroonian refugees in Agbokim Waterfall village wait in the sweltering heat outside a centre to receive assistance [Linus Unah/Al Jazeera]

If President Biya, 85, extends his 35-year rule in upcoming elections, the crisis is expected to deepen, according to analysts.

“Cameroon sits at the crossroads of West and Central Africa, a strategically important position from a geopolitical standpoint,” says Nwanze, the researcher at SBM Intelligence.

“On all of its international boundaries – Boko Haram in Nigeria, ethnic militias in Chad and sectarian fighters in the Central African Republic – instability abounds. A further escalation of the violence into more open and defined conflict will have repercussions that extend beyond its borders.”

Back in Agbokim Waterfalls village, hundreds of refugees pour into an aid centre. More than 1,000 people wait outside, plastic bowls and cups in their hands.

They gather like this whenever food and other items come in from the Anglophone diaspora, or local people and churches.

Inside the centre, there are grains, vegetable oil, salt and tins of tomatoes.

 

Quarrels simmer over how to ration out the supply.

It is in moments such as this that Stella Obi, the widowed mother of six who works the vegetable fields, remembers home.

“Soldiers burned our homes, clothes, property, bags of cocoa – just everything, so what is the point of returning?” she asks.

“My children ask me ‘where is our father?’ every day.”

 
Cameroonian refugees gather at an aid centre in Agbokim Waterfalls village to collect food and other items [Linus Unah/Al Jazeera]
 *Culled from Al Jazeera
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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.

 by

Mnangagwa has promised to bring in foreign investment and create jobs [File: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters]

Mnangagwa has promised to bring in foreign investment and create jobs [File: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters]

Harare, Zimbabwe – Incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa has won Zimbabwe’s presidential election, according to official results, in a poll marred by deadly violence and opposition allegations of vote rigging.

Mnangagwa, of the ruling ZANU-PF party, won 50.8 percent of the votes cast, with his closest rival Nelson Chamisa, of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance, garnering 44.3 percent, Zimbabwe’s electoral commission announced in the capital, Harare, early on Friday.

A candidate needed more than 50 percent of the votes to secure an outright victory in Monday’s poll.

Mnangagwa, a former vice president popularly known as “the crocodile” because of his political shrewdness, has been in power since November 2017 following the resignation of long-time president Robert Mugabe in the wake of a military intervention.

Shortly after the announcement of the results, Mnangagwa took to Twitter to thank Zimbabweans and hailed “a new beginning”.

The 75-year-old has vowed to bring in foreign investment and create much-needed jobs.

Paul Mangwana, spokesperson for ZANU-PF, said the ruling party was “very happy with the results”.

“We’re very pleased that our president has won because it means that we can now deliver the change that’s promised to the people,” he told Al Jazeera.

He added that if the opposition had “the courage to claim fraud, then they must have the courage to face us in court – we are ready for the battle and we will defeat [them] the same way we defeated them at the polls.”

His comments came as Morgan Komichi, MDC Alliance chairperson, described the results as “bogus”.

“We were not given time to verify the results. This result that you are hearing has not been verified. These are bogus figures. They are bogus results, and we believe that a lot of the figures have been inflated,” he said, speaking outside the National Results Centre.

ZANU-PF, which has ruled the southern African country since independence in 1980, also won a clear majority in the 210-seat parliament.

The ruling party won 145 seats, followed by the MDC which took 63. The National Patriotic Front and an independent candidate also picked up one seat each.

Tense calm

The streets of Harare remained deserted on Thursday, with shops closed a day after clashes between security forces and MDC supporters, who claimed foul play in the vote counting of the parliamentary poll.

At least six protesters were killed and 14 wounded.

Witnesses told Al Jazeera on Wednesday that soldiers used live rounds to disperse the demonstrators. Security forces also used tear gas and water cannon at them.

Even before the presidential poll results were released, the MDC accused the government of rigging the election – the first without Mugabe in the ballot in decades.

“We have won this election and Mr Mnangagwa knows it – our supporters must be calm and anticipate massive celebrations,” Chamisa told reporters earlier on Thursday, after visiting wounded protesters at Harare’s Parirenyatwa hospital.

EU observers: Un-level playing field

More than five million people registered to vote, while a total of 23 presidential hopefuls run for the country’s top seat – all first time contenders.

It is the first time since the end of white-minority rule that such a large number of candidates competed for the Zimbabwe’s presidency.

The Electoral Commission said on Wednesday 1.3 percent of registered voters could not cast their vote because they presented the wrong documents at polling stations.

Observers from the European Union criticised the poll, saying there was “un-level playing field” and “intimidation of voters”.

“These elections were seen as a critical test of Zimbabwe’s reform process,” Elmar Brok, the EU mission’s chief observer, said on Wednesday.

“In some senses, up to this point, the conduct of the polls has had a number of positive features, but in other senses, serious concerns remain,” added Brok.

 *Al Jazeera
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