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Please Hold Your Horses…A word of caution about the dismissal of the African Union permanent representative to the United States of America.
October 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ed. DUCHE

Ambassador Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao

The African diaspora in the United States of America and around the world is riled up in controversy following the dismissal of the African Union Head of Mission to U.S.,  Ambassador Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao by the African Union Commission Chairman  Moussa Farki Mahamat.

A petition on the popular site ww.change.org  initiated by Professor Apollos Okwuchi Nwauwa
Secretary of the African Diaspora Congress to “Reinstate African Union Ambassador Chihombori-Quao” on Sunday, October 20, 2019 has garnered approximatively 60,000 signatures in counting. The petition reads as follow:

“…Dr. Arikana has been outspoken about neo-colonial maneuverings and exploitation that still exist today. Her dissemination of the truth has garnered her attention and support around the world… However, not everyone is embracing her bold but honest discourses for effecting change for the betterment of Africa.  On October 7th, 2019, Ambassador Quao was relieved of her position as the “Permanent Ambassador” in a unilateral decision made by the African Union Commission Chairman without any hearing or explanation, and yet presented as representing the opinions of all 55 countries. The questions are: why was she dismissed, or better, who benefits from her removal? Were African heads of states and governments consulted? Who called the shot? Or is Africa, and peoples of African descent, still facing the debilitating effects of modern colonialism or neocolonialism? Leadership based on self-interest and preservation that does not benefit the people they serve is no longer acceptable…[1]

An cnn.com article, authored by Bukola Adebayo, dated October 16th  2019 and titled “AU faces backlash after terminating ambassador’s appointment[2], the authorstated that  on October 7th, 2019, A.U. Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat relieved the Ambassador from her position in line with the commission’s rules, and suggested that the dismissal was due to her “strong views on France’s occupation and hold over its former African colonies, which she shared publicly[3]”. The assertion is that the firing occurred under direct pression from the French Government. Apparently this is also Ambassador Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao  narrative and argument in pushing back on her dismissal and in making a case directly to the diaspora in support of her reinstatement as  the continental organization permanent representative to the United States of America.

Believing that Ambassador Dr. Arikanna Chihombori-Quao was fired over her criticism of the French and their colonial practices in Africa, several preeminent members in the African American community, the Diaspora and International leaders,  appalled by the A.U. action, are adamantly criticizing the leadership of the African Union and calling in to question the independence of African countries vis-á-vis their former colonial power. The situation is rapidly degrading and becoming another public opinion nightmare for the A.U. commission and its leadership. In the U.S. and especially in Washington DC, Ambassador Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao appears to be  another “victim”  of a stand against colonialism.  Many are expressing outrage on her behalf and throwing their support  behind her  in pressuring  the A.U Commissioner to  give her  the job back.

The office of AU Chair Faki issued a statement saying the change was customary diplomatic practice.Photo credit Twitter

Looking at the way the situation is unfolding, the mastery  in display, the activism deployed and the narrative peddled by the Ambassador’s supporters, It is of a paramount importance to exercise caution in embracing the situation as painted, and restraint from jumping to conclusions.   Indeed, a closer look reveals that   there may be a lot more to the story than what we have so far read on social media and in news stories.

Curiously, for all the communication that has been selectively leaked both from the AU to Ambassador Chihombori and from her to the AU, there is no mention of the existence of a damning audit report about the Ambassador’s tenure. Is this just an oversight, or a deliberate attempt to peddle a narrative that favors one party as the victim and hero, while labeling the other as the villain? Indeed, on August, 22nd  2019, an investigation into Ambassador Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao governance of the A.U., mission in Washington DC for the period of September 2016 to February 2019 was submitted to the chairperson of the Commission.

The subject of the investigation report is “Alleged violation of Procurement Procedures, Abuse of Authority/Misuse of Office and Conflict of interest[4]  and the transmittal letter reads in its entirety as follows: 

“The investigation is based on the allegation by a whistleblower that the Head of Mission (HOM) Ambassador Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao has been violating AU procurement rules by single sourcing contracts, bid splitting to circumvent procurement procedures, receiving three quotation from the same bidder to create the semblance of legality and also failure to submit bids above the threshold of $50,000 to the headquarter Tender Board for approval. It is also alleged that Ambassador Quao misapplied funds earmarked for other activities to Miss AU Pageant, the AU Diaspora retreat and the African Diaspora Youth League summit without approval from the AUC Chairperson…” the report continues, “…Furthermore, Ambassador Quao is alleged to abuse authority/misused of office and also involved in conflict of interest issues with the African Union-African Diaspora Health Initiative (AU-ADHI) is registered as her private organization and the “Wakanda One” project. The AU-ADHI is registered under her name as a private citizen and currently being funded by AU as political sub division of the African Union approved initiative established for the purpose of galvanizing the African Diaspora to participate in the development of Africa as stated in an Agreement signed by her with a Washington DC based Attorney”.

The investigation report was very damning to Ambassador Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao. It described in detail a stream of procurement violations, misuse of public funding as well as instance of conflict of interests in details and concluded by ascertaining the veracity of the whistleblower allegations and recommended sanctions against the Ambassador.

For example the audit reported that  “$181,204  Miss AU pageant cost was a misapplied funds earmarked to other activities…”   “Ambassador Dr Quao cancelled the MOU with Newdesk Media and single source the contract for the production of the Magazine -invest in Africa- to AMIP family business at the cost of $60,000 USD[5]”, “Dr.Quao single-sourced the production of the 2017 Calendars to 5 Star Eventz  for $9,583 meanwhile the 2019 Calendars were printed for $3,600 following a Request for Quotation initiated by the Finance Officer...” Moreover, the Ambassador has “registered associations in her own name that are being funded using AU resources” thereby creating a blatant conflict of interest. Two companies “Homestrings and Global Political Solutions were single-sourced and awarded a contract without the knowledge of the Finance and Administrative Officer…”

As one reads the investigation report, it becomes clear that there is a lot more to the history about why the Ambassador was fired. It is now obvious that one should exercise caution, wonder, ponder, and hold the horse, before jumping too quickly into the bandwagon of an emotionally driven narrative on the news. The anti-colonialist narrative for being the reason for the Ambassador’s dismissal has “muddied” the water.  The conclusion   that the Ambassador was relieved of her duty due to her stand and denunciation of the French colonial engagement in Africa is questionable in light of the damning audit report.

 It is well known that French colonial engagement is an issue, many people have spoken and continue to speak against it both in Africa and in the diaspora. Leaders like President Paul Kagame who have lashed out at the French are some of the most admired, and influential people in Africa and beyond. While we may not completely rule out that veracity of the allegation  from Arikana’s partisans on the French influence in forcing her out, we must put everything in context, evaluate all the factors and circumstances before jumping into conclusions .

Ambassador Chihombori Arikana with AU Chair Moussa Faki, Dean of Elliot School of International Affairs Reuben Brigety and former Tanzanian Ambassador to the USA Liberata Mulamula . The tenure of Ambassador saw more vibrancy on African issues in Washington. Photo Credit Elliot School

This opinion piece is essentially a cautionary advice to not let the situation spin out of control and in the process cast a discredit of the AU Commission as well as in damaging the Diaspora judgment. It is understandable and counter intuitive for many not be outraged in light of what appears to be an injustice perpetrated against Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao  especially when she performed admirably  well and above expectation on  her duties in Washington DC.  However we can’t overlook the facts in the Audit report and if history teaches, let’s then remember lesson learned from high profile cases of rush to judgment, public response that followed suit and ultimately  jury conclusion.

As the AU spokesperson Ebba Kalondo said in statement, diplomatic transfers and changes are standard practice. In the USA for instance, it is hard to see an Ambassador spend four years in the same duty post.  While emotions may be charged, it would be good if the diaspora could channel this energy into more useful initiatives. It could be to lobby for projects to Africa, raise funds to support development initiatives, use its clout to build useful networks and more. For all she did and that the AU acknowledges , the Mission to the USA did not start with Ambassador, nor will it end with her. The diaspora should build on her successes and ensure that the momentum she has created is built upon or sustained by her successor for the greater good of Africa. After all, not many in the diaspora knew Ambassador Arikana Chihombori prior to her appointment and not many probably knew she would perform well. I am sure she will be the last person interested in seeing the work she did go up in flames or to see the mission she led destroyed because she was relieved as Ambassador.

For Ambassador Arikana Chihombori, there is still more for her to do out there. It will be good if she can rein in her partisans by letting them understand that, the services we render to mother Africa are beyond any one individual. There are people in the diaspora and specifically in the Washington, DC metro area who have spent a lifetime fighting for African causes without fuse, and without expectations. Some of them actually worked with Ambassador Arikana, just as they worked with her predecessor and will hopefully work with her successor. Just like someone ran and handed the baton to Ambassador Chihombori, she too has done her own running and should pass the baton to another person in peace for the task of moving Africa is like a relay race , where it will take the efforts of many, infact effort from all Africans and its diaspora for sustained progress to be made.


[1] https://www.change.org/p/african-leaders-and-presidents-reinstate-african-union-ambassador-chihombori-quao

[2] https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/16/africa/petition-over-sacking-of-au-ambassador/index.html

[3] https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/16/africa/petition-over-sacking-of-au-ambassador/index.html

[4] AU inter office Memorandum from the Director of Internal Audit to the Chairperson of the Commission

[5] AU inter office Memorandum from the Director of Internal Audit to the Chairperson of the Commission

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Africa and globetrotting leaders: Cause for Optimism or Concern
October 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

You have to engage people. If you don’t travel how do you engage them (donors)?” Former Malawi President Bakili Muluzi (2003)

After a long day which started as early as 4 am, I returned home around 7 pm. Just as is the case with many neighbourhoods in Zimbabwe, there was no electricity at home so I turned to my smartphone for some entertainment while preparing my body for sleep. I logged in to my Twitter account and started to catch up on all the latest headlines both local and international. While scrolling down, one tweet did catch my eye; the tweet was about Emerson Mnangagwa, the Zimbabwean President. The tweet stated that by January 2019, just one year and one month after becoming the president, Mnangagwa had embarked on 26 foreign trips! This staggering figure which now stands above the 30 point mark quickly forced me to draw comparisons between the president and his globetrotting predecessor, Robert Mugabe.

President Mnangagwa has clocked more than 30 foreign trips since he took over from Robert Mugabe

When Mnangagwa came into power, he promised that he would usher in a new way of doing business. Simply put, this, therefore, meant that as Mugabe was a globetrotter, Mnangagwa would be the exact opposite, that is, he was going to spend much of his time in the country with his people. With over 30 foreign trips travelled since December 2017, this, however, is not the case. As I was pondering about this issue, I began to remember all the headlines that I have read detailing how most African leaders have a penchant for travelling. I also came to realize that globetrotting is not solely a Zimbabwean ‘problem’ but its an African ‘problem’.

 Cameroonian President Paul Biya is nicknamed an ‘absentee president’ owing to his long stays in Switzerland as opposed to his home country. Last year, Paul Biya held his first cabinet meeting in more than two years. The reason behind the huge lapse in cabinet meetings being down to Biya’s long absence. Paul Biya’s foreign travels have been the subject of an online spat between the state-owned Cameroon Tribune newspaper and the Organised Crime and Corruption  Reporting Project (OCCRP), which calculated the amount of time the president spent abroad using reports from the daily newspaper. Biya is estimated to have spent nearly 60 days out of the country in 2018 alone. In 2006 and in 2009, Biya spent a third of the year abroad.

Switzerland is the favorite destination of President Paul Biya of Cameroon

In Nigeria, President Buhari is known for his love for the city of London in the UK. Buhari has travelled to London on several occasions since 2015 when he first came into office. The Nigerian president mostly travels to London under the auspices of seeking medical attention. At one point, the president spent three months abroad in which time his deputy Yemi Osinbajo ran the country. According to the New York times, Buhari has “spent more than 170 days in London on official medical leave since becoming president in 2015.”

Former Malawian President Bakili Muluzi at one point responded angrily after being asked for the umpteenth time why he was so fond of taking foreign trips instead of trying to solve problems back home. After returning from a three week trip to Asia in 2003, the president received criticism from various circles within the country accusing him of being ‘ignorant’ and wasting the little resources the country had globetrotting. Realizing that the criticism was coming thick and fast showing no signs of ending anytime soon, the president had to call for a press conference where he criticized all critics saying it was of paramount importance that he spends much of his time globetrotting and it was the only way to engage the donors who primarily fund Malawi’s  budget. In his own words, Bakili Muluzi stated “You have to engage people. If you don’t travel how do you engage them?” while critics had a strong case in criticizing the president for his numerous foreign trips, in the case of the country as a whole, Muluzi can be justified for his travels as Malawi for the past two decades has seen donor-funded projects make up over 60 percent of the capital budget each year.

In profiling instances of African leaders who have a penchant for travelling, we can certainly go on and on as many African presidents both current and former are avidly known for loving the fast plane life. As such, besides looking at the obvious, let’s take a moment to examine if globetrotting is of any benefit to African nations or its just an illusion used by African leaders to hoodwink the citizens into believing that they are actually doing something.

The argument that has been used by many African leaders if not all when questioned about their numerous trips abroad is that foreign trips help them to engage and reengage with foreign powers most of whom possess massive influence and power that can be used for the betterment and development of Africa. On the front of engagement and re-engagement, it can be noted that indeed, Africa is now much more connected to the rest of the world in comparison to years gone by. Various leaders of the more powerful states and institutions including the U.S., China, Russia, Britain, IMF and World Bank have visited African nations in an attempt to consolidate and strengthen the ties that exist between them and Africa. This on its own paints a positive picture that indeed, foreign trips embarked upon by African leaders have managed to put Africa on the global map.

However, while still of the front of engagement and re-engagement, it can be noted also that the benefits from the ties between Africa and the rest of the world do not work in a reciprocal manner. Rather, Africa by engaging with the rest of the world has managed to give leeway to foreign powers to exploit Africa while she, on the other hand, has benefited nothing of true value. Most of the deals that have been reached as a result of engagement and re-engagement efforts have seen European powers come to Africa to establish their companies, plundering African resources, polluting the local environment and repatriating the profits back to the headquarters. Employment of the locals and availability of ready-made manufactured goods has been the only benefit to Africa; something that’s insignificant when compared to the benefits enjoyed by foreign powers.

The above therefore clearly shows that the talk of engagement and re-engagement has on the surface appeared as a good thing to Africa but when one takes a deeper look, it’s quite crystal clear that Africa is not benefitting as much as it should from the engagement approach. Earlier on, we stated that Bakili Muluzi supported his globetrotting adventures saying they were the ones responsible for bringing the much-needed finance used to sustain human lives in the country in the form of donor funds. While this is certainly true, what can also be seen is that donor funds have actually made Malawian leaders and the citizenry at large idle, dependent and some would say lazy. This is because instead of looking at ways to use what they have in creating a source of livelihood for the whole nation, the country is now much more concerned with appeasing the foreign powers so that donor funding keeps flowing at all times. The ingenuity of the locals has been suppressed and docility is praised.

For health and leisure, London is the favorite stop for President Buhari pictured here with ADP Chieftain Bola Tinubu while convalescing after medical treatment. Photo credit Channels TV

Moving on, globetrotting leaders have also used trade as one of the main reasons why they embark of numerous foreign trips. African leaders with a penchant for travelling state that they spend most of their time travelling and meeting with their foreign counterparts so that they can improve trade between their nations and other foreign powers. While its indeed true that trade figures between Africa and the rest of the world (Europe, Asian and America) have increased gradually since the 1980s, it’s also true that the increase has largely been necessitated by foreign powers instead of Africa. This is to say that the actions taken by African leaders have had little to insignificant value in terms of paving the way for the increase in trade figures. It is firstly down to Europe, America and Asia’s commitment to producing more products for export that has seen trade figures between Africa and the rest of the world increase. Secondly, it is also as a result of the numerous multinationals operating in  Africa seeking to exploit cheap human labour, relaxed environmental laws and favourable policies and taxes that have seen Africa produce more products for export. Products produced by Africans in Africa for sale in other parts of the world account for only an insignificant portion of export figures. This, therefore, shows that globetrotting African leaders have achieved so little when it comes to real benefits for the home countries.  

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Peace talks aimed at ending decades of conflict in Sudan ongoing in Juba
October 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

President of Sudanese Transitional Council General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, left, and President of South Sudan Salva Kiir attend a meeting to endorse the peace talks between Sudan’s government and rebel leaders in Juba, South Sudan, on October 14, 2019. AFP

Juba – Peace talks between the Sudanese transitional government and armed and non-armed opposition groups have begun in South Sudan’s capital with parties showing eagerness to end the country’s long civil war.

South Sudan’s President Kiir is hosting the peace talks, where the transitional government and rebel groups signed a draft agreement last month that detailed a roadmap for the talks, trust-building measures and an extension of a cease-fire already in place, represents a turning point in ending war and bringing about peace to Sudan.

This followed former president Omar al-Bashir’s successful mediation of the South Sudan peace talks in Khartoum last year, September, before overthrow in April, 2019.

The peace initiative was also built into a power-sharing deal between Sudan’s army groups and its pro-democracy movements. That deal was reached after the deposed of longtime tyrant President Omar al-Bashir in April. The transitional authorities have six months to make peace with the rebels, according to the agreement.

Ethiopia and the African Union mediated the power-sharing agreement in August which ended months of violence and faltering talks between Sudan’s generals and protesters following the uprising against al-Bashir.

South Sudan gained independence from the north in 2011 after decades of civil war. But in the 2000s, Sudan was most known for al-Bashir’s brutal repression of an uprising in the western Darfur region.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Leader of Sudan’s transitional council, Abdel Fattah Al-Abdelrahman Burhan and South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir meet in Juba, South Sudan [Jok Solomon/Reuters]

Attaining peace is crucial to the transitional government in Sudan. It has counted on ending the wars with rebels in order to revive the country’s dilapidated economy through slashing the military spending, which takes up much of the national budget.

However, Sudanese military councils have introduced good-will signals. They dismissed death sentences against eight rebel leaders and released more than a dozen prisoners of war. They have also delayed the formation of the parliament and the appointment of provincial governors to allow time for the rebels to come on board.

President Kiir is trying to look for the best ways to end the war that has been raging in Sudan for the last 63 years – that’s to say since independence.

The peace solutions brokered in the past, starting by Addis Ababa 1972, Khartoum 1997, CPA 2005, Abuja, Cairo, Asmara and Doha agreements, failed to achieve a just, comprehensive and permanent peace.”

Sudanese warring parties accepted the mediation of president Salva Kiir and Juba as a venue for peace talks when the AUHIP failed to settle the conflict in Sudan in eight years and twenty-two rounds of talks.

Addressing the launch of the peace talks at the Freedom Hall in Juba, President Kiir called on the Sudanese parties to make compromises during the negotiations.

President Kiir said negotiations and compromises are ushered to settle any political conflict and reach a peace deal that will end the country prolong conflict.

He added that peace could not come to any country through armed conflict adding that it was possible if parties come together, discuss and find possible solutions.

President Kiir reiterated that lack of peace in his former country would lead to instability in the whole Africa and South Sudan particular.

“Time has come for us in Africa and in our region to rise up to the challenge of addressing our differences and conflicts,” said Kiir in the event graced by regional heads of states, including Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni and Ethiopian Premier Dr Abiy Ahmed.

“I have no doubt that we have the capacity, the ability and the required competence to do so if we have a strong political will. “Now for the Sudanese delegations for the peace talks, I wish them successful dialogue, negotiation and compromise so that we celebrate the achievement of peace in the Sudan,” said president Kiir.

Symbol of peace

The chairperson of the IGAD, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, also Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, called on the region to exert more efforts for peace building to create a safe environment for investment, adding that the horn of Africa should always address its challenges through inclusive dialogue.

The IGAD countries consist of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, Sudan and South Sudan. But Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan have been ruined down by years of conflict as a result of political and communal wrangles.

Dr. Abiy say the region has the potential to become a symbol of peace and economic in Africa as well as in the global.

“I believe there is nothing that we cannot achieve as a region. We have witnessed a peace between the Ethiopia and Eritrea; the silence of the guns in South Sudan and the successful Sudanese reconciliation; we are also hopeful that Kenya and Somalia will have to resolve their problem through dialogue. What we have achieved together are building-blocks for our region’s shared goals and collective prosperity,” said Dr. Abiy.

Dr. Abiy urged the leaders to engage youth in addressing the economic challenges in the region rather than recruiting them for civil war.

“It is time for our regions to focus on the inevitable journey of a robust economic integration,” said the 2019 Noble Prize Winner. “The time has come to give a better chance to our youth through pooling our cooperative advantages to common goals and developments – this, we can only do when all the stakeholders in each of our countries commits to peace.”

 “Ideological bankruptcy”

Meanwhile, the Ugandan President cautioned leaders against the use of religion and tribes to advance their political interests.

Yoweri Museveni says leaders in Sudan and South Sudan have sought leadership positions by turning their people against each other.

He says since 1962, Sudan has failed to address the underlying causes of wars and poverty because of lack of political ideology.

In 2011, Sudan split following 39 years of civil war between South Sudanese and the Sudanese government over lack of services and poor system of governance.

Museveni argues that the problems of Sudan and Africa can be attributed to the misguided use of tribal and religious identities as a means of resolving issues.

“People who are ideologically bankrupt have no alternative but to use opportunism of religion, tribe, and of race. This is a crime against Africa,” said the leader who has been the Uganda’s president since 1986. “If you don’t know what to do, go back home and mismanage your home. Don’t come to a public office to cause suffering for the people.”

While they applaud President Kiir’s efforts to help restore stability in the Sudan, critics and activists say the President should start the charity at home by ensuring that the revitalized peace agreement is fully implemented.

Commitment

For his part, the President of the Sudanese Sovereign Council, Gen. Abdul Fattah Al Burhan, expressed hopes that the Kiir-mediated peace talks will bring to an end years of conflict in the Sudan.

“We come to negotiate in good faith for the sake of the Sudan. This time is different from the past, in the past there was a government wanted to divide the country with armed groups, though the oppositions are in the country,” said Al Burhan. We are reiterating our full commitment that this round of talks will be the end to the problems of our Sudanese people – to put an end to the suffering of our people,” he promised, his government want comprehensive peace such that over five million Sudanese displaced both internally and externally return to their homes.

According to Juba’s government, Kiir’s mediation efforts is aimed at finding an end to the civil war in Blue Nile and Darfur regions.

The states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan – which both have large ethnic minority populations that fought alongside the South Sudanese during the two decades of scorched – earth civil war.

Over nine different armed and non-armed opposition groups are taking part in the talks including main opposition movements of Revolutionary Front and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army – North.

Dr. Alhadi Idris Ahmed, Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) Leader has expressed his willingness to cooperate in good faith with the interim government to bring solution to the conflict in Sudan.

“Time has come for us to stop war and killings in the Republic of Sudan. It is time for beginning of stability, peace, respect of human rights and economic development in Sudan,” said Ahmed, adding that they want to see a new Sudan with a democracy and equal opportunity to all the Sudanese people.

Cdr. Abdul-Aziz Adam Alhilu, SPLM-N, emphasized that they have come to the talks with a firm will and determination to achieve a new Sudan of freedom, justice and equality.

“We also believe that the success of the negotiations to bring an end to the war in Sudan depends on addressing the root causes of the problem that can be summarized in the two issues of national identity and relationship between religion and state,” said Abdul-Aziz. The two points of identity and theocracy are at the top of the contentious issues that divide the Sudanese people. We have to look for the commonalities that provide the basis for a just unity and permanent peace,” he added.

Despite the secession of South Sudan, there is racism in Sudan today. It is racial and religious double apartheid that resulted in 63 years of civil wars, where the state exterminated over 3 million of its own citizens in [then] South Sudan, Nuba Mountain, Blue Nile, Beja of the East, far North Nuba and Darfur.

“We, in the SPLM-N believe that the failure was due to the complicated nature of the conflict on one hand, and the insistence of the subsequent Khartoum governments to deal with it as a security problem on the other, while the conflict is basically political. We also believe that success of the negotiations to bring an end to the wars in Sudan depends on addressing the root causes of the problem that can be summarized in the two issues of national identity and relationship between religious,” said Abdul-Aziza.

The official launching ceremony of Sudan peace talks being mediated by president Kiir was attending by The president of Sudan Sovereign Council, Gen. Abdel AlFattah Al-burhan, the president of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Dr. Abiy Ahmed and the Prime Minister of Arab Republic of Egypt, Mustafa Kemal Madbouly.

The presidents of Kenya and Somalia were not in attendance they have busy schedules in their respective countries.

Several peace talks have failed to end the internal conflict in Sudan and bring in a comprehensive justice and permanent peace, however, this is litmus – test for president Kiir whether to bring final solution to the Sudanese crisis or not. This peace talks will go on for two months.

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Peace talks to end decades of conflict in Sudan begin in Juba
October 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, right, with General Abdel Fattah Al Burhan, head Sudan’s sovereign council, and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed., left, arrive for a meeting in Juba on October 14, 2019. Reuters

Juba – Peace talks between the Sudanese transitional government and armed and non-armed opposition groups begun in South Sudan’s capital on Monday with parties showing eagerness to ending the country’s long civil war.

South Sudan’s President Kiir is hosting the peace talks, where the transitional government and rebel groups signed a draft agreement last month that detailed a roadmap for the talks, trust-building measures and an extension of a cease-fire already in place, represents a turning point in ending war and bringing about peace to Sudan.

This followed former president Omar al-Bashir’s successful mediation of the South Sudan peace talks in Khartoum last year, September, before overthrow in April, 2019.

The peace initiative was also built into a power-sharing deal between Sudan’s army groups and its pro-democracy movements. That deal was reached after the deposed of longtime tyrant President Omar al-Bashir in April. The transitional authorities have six months to make peace with the rebels, according to the agreement.

Ethiopia and the African Union mediated the power-sharing agreement in August which ended months of violence and faltering talks between Sudan’s generals and protesters following the uprising against al-Bashir.

South Sudan gained independence from the north in 2011 after decades of civil war. But in the 2000s, Sudan was most known for al-Bashir’s brutal repression of an uprising in the western Darfur region.

Attaining peace is crucial to the transitional government in Sudan. It has counted on ending the wars with rebels in order to revive the country’s dilapidated economy through slashing the military spending, which takes up much of the national budget.

However, Sudanese military councils have introduced good-will signals. They dismissed death sentences against eight rebel leaders and released more than a dozen prisoners of war. They have also delayed the formation of the parliament and the appointment of provincial governors to allow time for the rebels to come on board.

President Kiir is trying to look for the best ways to end the war that has been raging in Sudan for the last 63 years – that’s to say since independence.

The peace solutions brokered in the past, starting by Addis Ababa 1972, Khartoum 1997, CPA 2005, Abuja, Cairo, Asmara and Doha agreements, failed to achieve a just, comprehensive and permanent peace.”

Sudanese warring parties accepted the mediation of president Salva Kiir and Juba as a venue for peace talks when the AUHIP failed to settle the conflict in Sudan in eight years and twenty-two rounds of talks.

Addressing the launch of the peace talks at the Freedom Hall in Juba, President Kiir called on the Sudanese parties to make compromises during the negotiations.

President Kiir said negotiations and compromises are ushered to settle any political conflict and reach a peace deal that will end the country prolong conflict.

He added that peace could not come to any country through armed conflict adding that it was possible if parties come together, discuss and find possible solutions.

President Kiir reiterated that lack of peace in his former country would lead to instability in the whole Africa and South Sudan particular.

“Time has come for us in Africa and in our region to rise up to the challenge of addressing our differences and conflicts,” said Kiir in the event graced by regional heads of states, including Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni and Ethiopian Premier Dr Abiy Ahmed.

“I have no doubt that we have the capacity, the ability and the required competence to do so if we have a strong political will. “Now for the Sudanese delegations for the peace talks, I wish them successful dialogue, negotiation and compromise so that we celebrate the achievement of peace in the Sudan,” said president Kiir.

Symbol of peace

The chairperson of the IGAD, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, also Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, called on the region to exert more efforts for peace building to create a safe environment for investment, adding that the horn of Africa should always address its challenges through inclusive dialogue.

The IGAD countries consist of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, Sudan and South Sudan. But Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan have been ruined down by years of conflict as a result of political and communal wrangles.

Dr. Abiy say the region has the potential to become a symbol of peace and economic in Africa as well as in the global.

“I believe there is nothing that we cannot achieve as a region. We have witnessed a peace between the Ethiopia and Eritrea; the silence of the guns in South Sudan and the successful Sudanese reconciliation; we are also hopeful that Kenya and Somalia will have to resolve their problem through dialogue. What we have achieved together are building-blocks for our region’s shared goals and collective prosperity,” said Dr. Abiy.

Dr. Abiy urged the leaders to engage youth in addressing the economic challenges in the region rather than recruiting them for civil war.

“It is time for our regions to focus on the inevitable journey of a robust economic integration,” said the 2019 Noble Prize Winner. “The time has come to give a better chance to our youth through pooling our cooperative advantages to common goals and developments – this, we can only do when all the stakeholders in each of our countries commits to peace.”

 “Ideological bankruptcy”

Meanwhile, the Ugandan President cautioned leaders against the use of religion and tribes to advance their political interests.

Yoweri Museveni says leaders in Sudan and South Sudan have sought leadership positions by turning their people against each other.

He says since 1962, Sudan has failed to address the underlying causes of wars and poverty because of lack of political ideology.

In 2011, Sudan split following 39 years of civil war between South Sudanese and the Sudanese government over lack of services and poor system of governance.

Museveni argues that the problems of Sudan and Africa can be attributed to the misguided use of tribal and religious identities as a means of resolving issues.

“People who are ideologically bankrupt have no alternative but to use opportunism of religion, tribe, and of race. This is a crime against Africa,” said the leader who has been the Uganda’s president since 1986. “If you don’t know what to do, go back home and mismanage your home. Don’t come to a public office to cause suffering for the people.”

While they applaud President Kiir’s efforts to help restore stability in the Sudan, critics and activists say the President should start the charity at home by ensuring that the revitalized peace agreement is fully implemented.

Commitment

For his part, the President of the Sudanese Sovereign Council, Gen. Abdul Fattah Al Burhan, expressed hopes that the Kiir-mediated peace talks will bring to an end years of conflict in the Sudan.

“We come to negotiate in good faith for the sake of the Sudan. This time is different from the past, in the past there was a government wanted to divide the country with armed groups, though the oppositions are in the country,” said Al Burhan. We are reiterating our full commitment that this round of talks will be the end to the problems of our Sudanese people – to put an end to the suffering of our people,” he promised, his government want comprehensive peace such that over five million Sudanese displaced both internally and externally return to their homes.

According to Juba’s government, Kiir’s mediation efforts is aimed at finding an end to the civil war in Blue Nile and Darfur regions.

The states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan – which both have large ethnic minority populations that fought alongside the South Sudanese during the two decades of scorched – earth civil war.

Over nine different armed and non-armed opposition groups are taking part in the talks including main opposition movements of Revolutionary Front and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army – North.

Dr. Alhadi Idris Ahmed, Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) Leader has expressed his willingness to cooperate in good faith with the interim government to bring solution to the conflict in Sudan.

“Time has come for us to stop war and killings in the Republic of Sudan. It is time for beginning of stability, peace, respect of human rights and economic development in Sudan,” said Ahmed, adding that they want to see a new Sudan with a democracy and equal opportunity to all the Sudanese people.

Cdr. Abdul-Aziz Adam Alhilu, SPLM-N, emphasized that they have come to the talks with a firm will and determination to achieve a new Sudan of freedom, justice and equality.

“We also believe that the success of the negotiations to bring an end to the war in Sudan depends on addressing the root causes of the problem that can be summarized in the two issues of national identity and relationship between religion and state,” said Abdul-Aziz. The two points of identity and theocracy are at the top of the contentious issues that divide the Sudanese people. We have to look for the commonalities that provide the basis for a just unity and permanent peace,” he added.

Despite the secession of South Sudan, there is racism in Sudan today. It is racial and religious double apartheid that resulted in 63 years of civil wars, where the state exterminated over 3 million of its own citizens in [then] South Sudan, Nuba Mountain, Blue Nile, Beja of the East, far North Nuba and Darfur.

“We, in the SPLM-N believe that the failure was due to the complicated nature of the conflict on one hand, and the insistence of the subsequent Khartoum governments to deal with it as a security problem on the other, while the conflict is basically political. We also believe that success of the negotiations to bring an end to the wars in Sudan depends on addressing the root causes of the problem that can be summarized in the two issues of national identity and relationship between religious,” said Abdul-Aziza.

The official launching ceremony of Sudan peace talks being mediated by president Kiir was attended by The president of Sudan Sovereign Council, Gen. Abdel AlFattah Al-burhan, the president of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Dr. Abiy Ahmed and the Prime Minister of Arab Republic of Egypt, Mustafa Kemal Madbouly.

The presidents of Kenya and Somalia were not in attendance they have busy schedules in their respective countries.

Several peace talks have failed to end the internal conflict in Sudan and bring in a comprehensive justice and permanent peace, however, this is litmus – test for president Kiir whether to bring final solution to the Sudanese crisis or not. This peace talks will go on for two months.

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Kenya introduces free cervical cancer vaccine
October 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma |@journalist_27

Kenya is set to roll out free cervical cancer vaccine for school girls on Friday, October 18 after the programme was launched yesterday in a ceremony that was presided by Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki.

The vaccine known as the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) will aid in hindering lethal infection as well as reducing chances of contacting anogenital cancer and genital warts. It will also reduce oropharyngeal cancer and maternal transmission of HPV infection to infants.

The main targets are 800,000 girls 10-years old and above in public, private and faith based schools across the country. The two doses of the vaccine will be administered to the girls twice in a year. A total of $8 million has been set aside to support the roll-out.

“The vaccine will be offered nationally alongside other routine infant vaccines through an existing network of more than 9,000 public, private, faith-based and NGO health facilities free of charge to 800,000 girls, who are currently aged 10 and subsequently to all girls as they attain that age in the future,” said Ms. Kariuki.

The Ministry of Health is working in partnership with Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi}, World Health Organization and Unicef to support the project which aims at eliminating cervical cancer which is the third cause of deaths in Kenya.

The project will see Kenya join the list of African countries like Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe and many others who have has already rolled out HPV.

Cervical cancer is the second dominant type of cancer after breast cancer in the East African country.

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Negotiating for a better future: Why the good or bad of Russia’s presence in Africa will rely on the continent’s ability to make better deals
October 18, 2019 | 0 Comments
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (R) meets with Angola’s President Joao Lourenco on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Johannesburg, South Africa July 26, 2018.Photo SPUTNIK/ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/KREMLIN VIA REUTERS
Deal-making is what will shape the future of Russia-Africa relations and will tell whether Russia’s renewed influence in the continent is good or bad for its people
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, October 18, 2019/ — By African Energy Chamber

Russia’s return to Africa has been the subject of wide media coverage, governmental concerns and civil societ