Call Us Now: (240) 429 2177

country

From Tunis to Khartoum: Africans are toppling their sit-tight Presidents
June 30, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

Omar al-Bashir of Sudan was recently deposed

Omar al-Bashir of Sudan was recently deposed

As Africa and Africans struggle with the implementation of democracy as prescribed by Western nations who insist it’s the best form of governance, a fierce wind of change has in the last ten years swept most African sit-tight president.

From the Eastern basins of the Mediterranean Sea in Tunis, Capital of Tunisia to the confluence of the Blue Nile and White Nile rivers in Khartoum, capital of Sudan, Africans are raising up and deposing their despotic leaders.

Since 2011, some of Africa’s strongest dictators and long-serving presidents with decades of leadership have been forced to leave power with all wondering who could be next.

As people-power fast topples autocratic regimes, watchers of the polity of Africa believe the continent, flowing with enormous economic potentials sufficient to make her a contender, is on en route towards its liberation and development.

10 African presidents who have involuntarily left power since 2011  

Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia

Tunisians took to the streets and after four weeks of protests, the leader who ruled for 23 years was deposed on January 14, 2011. He later escaped and currently on exile in Saudi Arabia.  It was Prime minister Mohamed Ghannouchi who announced that he had taken over as interim president, vowing to respect the constitution and restore stability for Tunisia’s 10.5 million denizens. Beji Caid Essebsi on December 2014 became the 4th and the first democratically elected president by universal suffrage and is set to take Tunisia to new heights.

Hosni Mubarak of Egypt

Seeing what happened next-door in Tunisia, Egyptians took to the streets to protest against their “strongman”. Egyptians protest 30 years of injustice and oppression under Hosani’s rule. With support from the army, on February 11, 2011, Mubarak’s resignation was announced at Tahrir square, which is regarded as the center of the protest that ousted him.

In 2012 he was sentenced to life imprisonment over the death of over 240 people during the protest against his rule. He was on March 2, 2017, acquitted by Egypt’s appeal court and released from the Military hospital where he spent most of the six years of his incarceration due to poor health.

Muammar Gaddafi’s of Libya

True, most Libyans today regret the ousting of president Muammar Gaddafi who had the vision to unite all African, establishing the United State of Africa. After spending 42 years in power the Arab spring influenza let to widespread protest from February 15, 2019, due to the said killing of human rights activist Fethi Tarbel. With support from most Western countries, it was on October 20 announced that Gaddafi had been killed in Sirte. Today, Libya is a mockery of its former self.

Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso

After “stabbing” his friend (Thomas Sankara) in the back and taking over via a coup in 1987, Blaise Compaoré succeeded to maneuver his way, winning all presidential elections. Ruling for 27 years, his party in 2014 proposed further changes to the constitution so as to allow Compaoré stay in power.

Protest broke out forcing him to flee to Ivory Coast. Roch Marc Christian Kaboré is the current president of Burkina Faso.

Yahya Jammeh of Gambia

Yahya Abdul-Aziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh was formerly a military officer before he took over as president of The Gambia in 1994.  With 22 years at the helm of the country’s supremacy, in 2017 while running for his fifth term in office, Yahya Jammeh lost to Adama Barrow. He conceded defeat but backpedal and asked for a recount of elections.

He fled to Equatorial Guinea as his unpopularity grew. Adam Barrow currently serves as president of Gambia regarded as Africa’s smallest country.

José Eduardo Dos Santos of Angola

In August of 2017, Jose Eduardo handed over power after serving as president of mineral-rich Angola for 38 years. Joao Lourenco, the new president promised to tackle corruption which has crippled the oil-rich nation.

Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe

Regarded as Africa’s oldest president, Robert Mugabe, 95 first served as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe from 1980 to 1987 when he became president. manning the affairs of Zimbabwe for 30 years, Mugabe stepped down after parliament launched an impeachment process in November 2017 to remove him.

He had earlier that month said he wanted to relinquish power to his wife, Grace Mugabe. Analyst believe without his remarks, he could have served on as president as his ousting is not unconnected to his desires to get his wife replace him.

Joseph Kabila of DR Congo

Joseph Kabila, born June 4, 1971, in Sud-Kivu province, of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was an army official who served as president from 2001 till 2019.

Joseph Kabila is son of former president Laurent Kabila and took over 10 days after his father was assassinated.  Kabila spends considerable time trying to unite the various rebel groups in the Congos. He refused to stand for elections in 2018 and gave his support to Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary who failed to capture power.

Felix Tshisekedi, son of late veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi won the presidential election and currently “works” with Joseph Kabila (since Kabila’s political party controls the legislature) to better DR Congo.

Ailing Algerian leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika was forced out as well

Ailing Algerian leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika was forced out as well

Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria

For 20 years (1999 to 2019) 82-years-old Abdelaziz Bouteflika has served as president of Algeria and despite his deteriorating health and advanced age, he refused to leave power until April of 2019 when massive protest forced him to retire.

In a brief message, he said he had “notified the president of the constitutional council of his decision to end his mandate”.   Thousands swarm the streets in celebration of his decision to step down saying he was incapable to dispatch his duties.

Omar al-Bashir of Sudan

Sudan’s Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir served as president for 30 years before he was sent packing by the military.  With an arrest warrant dangling over his head issued by the International Criminal Court, ICC for war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity, news that he won’t be extradited by the military came as good news to him though he’s under arrest by the military. Following his arrest, General Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, who is also Defense Minister said the military council would run the country for two years.

In a statement, the US government commended the people of Sudan for liberating themselves urging the “transitional government to follow the will of the people, work in an inclusive way with all representative parties, and commit to a speedy handover to civilian rule. We condemn the abuse of force by security services that has resulted in the death of more than 20 civilians. We call on all armed parties to show restraint, avoid conflict, and remain committed to the protection of the Sudanese people.”

 

 

0
Read More
The AFCFTA Will Have A Game Changing Impact On The Whole Continent-Dr. Joy Kategekwa Head, UNCTAD Regional Office for Africa
June 30, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

“I am optimistic, that we are on to a game changing page in the prospects of trade improving the lives of ordinary Africans and achieving progress on meeting Africa’s Agenda 2063 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” says Dr Joy Kategekwa , Head of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Regional Office for Africa in Addis Ababa .

Responding to questions from Pan African Visions on the AFCFTA, Dr Kategekwa says its impact on the continent could be profound.  Dr Kategekwa pointed to projections from the UNCTAD which indicated that should the  AfCFTA lead to 100 per cent tariff liberalisation in trade in goods (alone), the continent would realise USD 16.1 billion in welfare gains, a 1 to 3 per cent growth in GDP, a 1.2 per cent increase in employment, a 33 per cent increase in intra-African exports and a 50 per cent reduction in trade deficit.

“An agreement that has, from commencement of negotiations (February 2016) to adoption (March 2018) taken a little over two years is demonstration of strong political will,” says Dr Kategekwa whose office has been a fulcrum of UNCTAD’s support to the AfCFTA

The African Continental Free Trade Agreement is now set to go into effect after ratification by the requisite number of countries, what is your take on this?

My take is one of optimism – about the game changing impact of a whole continent that dismantles barriers to intra-African trade.  For way too long have analysts decried the low levels of intra-African trade.  These low levels are worrisome especially from the perspective of Africa losing out on the benefits of international trade changing ordinary lives through economic empowerment.  The AfCFTA promises to set in motion the application of a new body of law that will require States Parties to eliminate restrictions – laws, regulations, administrative processes, that discriminate against the products originating from other AfCFTA States Parties.  This will make African products more competitive in African markets – once the hoop of high tariffs has been jumped through the AfCFTA.

The AfCFTA will also open markets for intra-African trade in services, a sector that plays a leading role in all African economies – evidenced in gross domestic product contributions, as well as the growing amount of services exports from Africa.

The AfCFTA has teeth – a regime on dispute resolution – which will strengthen trade governance and accountability in Africa.    The AfCFTA will be overseen by a secretariat dedicated to it, which should help keep an eye on effective implementation.

More so, the AfCFTA is not only about goods and services.  It foresees a second phase of negotiations to tackle regulatory barriers that are key determinants to how markets can effectively function. These include competition, investment and intellectual property rights.  The sum total is a scope that is comprehensive and suitable to the quest for boosting intra-African trade and strengthening African integration.

Overall, I am optimistic, that we are on to a game changing page in the prospects of trade improving the lives of ordinary Africans and achieving progress on meeting Africa’s Agenda 2063 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

With the ratification, what next, and in concrete terms, what is expected to change for Trade in the continent with the AFCFTA?

What next is that countries will complete the unfinished business of market access negotiations on trade in goods and services according to the agreed AfCFTA negotiating modalities in order to come up with each country’s respective schedule of tariff concessions and specific commitments on trade in services.  Such schedules of commitments, as well as finalization of the rules of origin, are indispensable for operationalizing trade liberalization processes under the AfCFTA.

In terms of what is expected to change for trade in Africa, once AfCFTA liberalization has become operational, it is a matter of volumes, value, and diversity in the export basket – which translate into diversity in production.

The AfCFTA is the world’s largest free trade area of our time.  It brings together 55 African countries with a market of more than 1.2 billion people and a combined GDP of more than US$3.4 trillion. It is expected that the AfCFTA will increase intra-African trade by 52.3 per cent through the elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers.   These numbers are results of simulations by senior experts at the United Nations – both at UNCTAD and at the UN Regional Economic Commission for Africa.  At UNCTAD, we have estimated that if the AfCFTA leads to 100 per cent tariff liberalisation in trade in goods (alone), the continent would realise USD 16.1 billion in welfare gains, a 1 to 3 per cent growth in GDP, a 1.2 per cent increase in employment, a 33 per cent increase in intra-African exports and a 50 per cent reduction in trade deficit.[1]  This is the scenario for goods trade.

But as we know – the level of trade in services in Africa is growing. According to UNCTADstat, Africa’s services exports grew by up to 14% in 2017, with figures ranging from South Africa’s almost 16 billion US dollars to Lesotho’s 2 million US dollars. The services sector plays a critical role in strengthening the continent’s leapfrogging potential to attain the objectives of structural transformation.  Services sector growth is inescapable in raising productivity and value addition in agriculture (a mainstay of the African economy) and industry.  A trade agreement that creates new opportunities by removing discriminatory regulations and operational conditions for market access is an urgent intervention that will set the continent on a better path to diversification and sustainable development.

What this translates to – is bigger volumes of trade – a first generation spill over of reduced tariffs/discriminatory regulations.

But there is also the value proposition.  Colleagues at the UNECA have consistently tracked the level of intra-African trade.  In the period prior to 2012 (when African presidents took the decision to fast track the continental free trade area and adopted the Action Plan for Boosting Intra-African Trade); numbers floated at about 10-12 percent.  In more recent studies, they range from about 16 (UNECA) even going up to about 18% (UNCTAD).  And so, there is already an important improvement – on which the AfCFTA is expected to at least double.  In this trade is an even more interesting trend.  That in these higher levels of intra-African trade, the largest composition therein is of trade in manufactures – going as high as 46% (UNECA).  This tells us two important points:  One that intra-African trade is already happening at encouraging levels (vis a vis the base period of 2012) and two: that within intra-African trade is the first evidence of Africa’s diversification.  Evidence of breaking away from the age-old pattern of low value, low volume products – mostly agricultural commodities of little, if any, value addition – as the proposition that Africa consistently brings to the global stage.  This is very important, because a 46% intra-African trade in manufactures tells us that manufacturing is happening (albeit at the lower end); and that the promise of the AfCFTA can be a reality – if there is attendant investment in the enabling environment side of issues.  Further, UNCTAD has indicated that intra-African trade has a higher technological content than extra-African trade. The share of products traded among African countries with medium and high technological content is about 27% as compared to a share of 15% for Africa’s exports to the rest of the world.

Finally, there is a question of a diversified intra-African trade export basket – with the inclusion of services – which can only strengthen Africa’s economy, and in that, its women, men, youth, SMEs, etc.

Building on advances in the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) – the AfCFTA will deepen economic integration in Africa, creating a deeper integrated African market.  This is particularly important when we bear in mind the fact that much of the existing intra-African trade takes place within these RECs.  A new legal order that locks this in, not only vis a vis regional groupings but between and amongst them, is exactly where the first dividends of the AfCFTA may be visible – in creating opportunities for countries in Africa that currently do not have any arrangements, outside of the multilateral framework, to grant each other preferential tariff and regulatory treatment for goods and services.

Dr Kategewa believes that the level o commitment from African leaders has so far been strong

Dr Kategewa believes that the level o commitment from African leaders has so far been strong

Countries of the continent are in all shapes and sizes from population, to economic potential, infrastructure development, and so on, what mechanisms does the Agreement have to ensure a level playing field for all countries?

The AfCFTA is designed in what we, at UNCTAD and within the UN system – call “developmental regionalism”.  Simplified – it is an approach to designing regional trade integration agreements in a manner that meets the twin objective of opening markets while ensuring industrialization, more jobs, incomes and the attainment of sustainable development.  In a continent of Africa’s realities, there is no shortcut to adapting what is known as global good practices to a workable outcome in context.  And so, in the case of the AfCFTA Protocol on Trade in Services for example, the calculus was less about how to liberalize trade in services for the sake of opening markets alone, but more about creating a pro-development loop in which the opening of services sectors was done in a manner that would provide real valuable and utilizable opportunities to SMEs, women and youth.  It was about allowing countries to exercise their right to regulate and introduce new regulations (a right that often deals with seemingly conflicting objectives such as business opportunities on the one hand and consumer protection on the other).  It was about a choice of initial priority sectors that can unlock bottlenecks related to connectivity and infrastructure readiness – so that the nexus between agriculture and industry can be fully harnessed.  And yet it is also about allowing AfCFTA states parties to pace their contributions; within those selected sectors – to determine how, when and on what conditions, such access is granted.  It is about creating a one Africa by seeking to frontload some of the political momentum around mobility for Africans within Africa – it being well understood that there is no regional integration without effective free movement of Africans – traders, investors, service suppliers, industrialists.

Similarly in the case of the AfCFTA Protocol on Trade in Goods, it was about shooting for as high an ambition of liberalization  as possible (90% in this case) – going zero for zero as soon as possible from the start of implementation such as in 5 years while accepting that there are sensitive sectors in which certain countries/regions require flexibility (allowing them to phase in their commitments slower).  The so-called sensitive products – will have a slower pace of liberalization (or a longer transition period).  The additional category of “the exclusion list products” (3% of tariff lines) is one in which countries cannot accept to liberalize at this stage.

Also within the Agreements consisting of the overarching umbrella treaty, the protocol on trade in goods and the Protocol on trade in services – is a variation of special and differential treatment – ranging from longer transition periods, provisions for capacity development for the least developed among the states parties, provisions leaving room for African governments to support industrial development (part of the rationale for the sensitive and excluded products list).

This menu of options is the AfCFTA’s approach to meeting each country, or group thereof, where it is –in terms of its development concerns.  Naturally, the benefits of this approach, itself not novel in trade agreements that respond to development challenges, will go to those countries that get themselves ready –  utilizing the space granted to create and strengthen productive capacities for utilization.

For the trade professional that you are, how much of a game changer could this be for the continent?

This is a dream come true for all trade and development professionals.  Having spent all of my career seeking trade deals for Africa, supporting Africa to shape strategies and policies for utilization and building capacities for knowledge and sector development – I am honored to have been part of the process of shaping the AfCFTA.  For us as African professionals in trade, it is greatly symbolic to see that Africa has attained that which continues to elude the world: a large scale trade agreement that aims for deep liberalization – one which will call for important domestic reforms. One which will have costs in transition and implementation – yet one which enjoys the highest level political support across Africa.  Its’ timeframe for entry into force is, arguably a world record, judged by the pace of ratifications, for an agreement of this scale.  This speaks to Africa’s determination to get the promise of trade for its people.

It could be the start of creation of industries of all sizes, a rising and conscious African market that gets confidence in continental products and one that gets an empowered and independent path to development.  The benefits will out pass economic gain.  We are on the edge of a social and cultural transformation that will promote brands such as make in Africa (for investment attraction); made in Africa (for origin qualification) pride in African products; and ultimately, what, in the words of the AU’s own development blueprint, is aptly termed: “The Africa We Want”.  A final point on my assessment as a professional in the field is that implementing the AfCFTA will create a new market for African Think Tanks – to support evidence-based policies and strategies for implementation.  It will create a new generation of African trade law specialists – who can support treaty implementation proper as well as the resolution of disputes.  Linked to the latter is the need for a crop of jurists who will need to support the resolution process.  It will have also created and strengthened the cadre of trade negotiators, skilled in the arcane field of negotiating tariffs, non-tariff measures and trade regulations, and being prepared for continued negotiations in the continent or outside in the international trade arena.  Finally on the knowledge point, there will be need for more teachers to share knowledge in our institutions on the opportunities created in the AfCFTA and raise awareness.  Curriculum development, training and capacity building on trade law, economics and development is now to be a hot career choice for professionals in Africa.  This makes me particularly proud to see.

We noticed that there are a still a number of countries notable Nigeria that have not yet signed it, considered that this is the economic powerhouse of Africa, how does the absence of Nigeria impact the enforcement and effectiveness of the agreement?

Nigeria is yet to sign onto the AfCFTA and deposit its instrument of ratification.  For reasons of effectiveness, it is desirable that Nigeria joins the AfCFTA – still hopefully as a Founding Member, not least because it is the economic powerhouse in Africa.   This would allow it to take advantage of the large opportunities to be created, yet also provide a market for African exports.   The domestic consultations, we are informed, are ongoing and there have been pronouncements, including at the highest level, of support for the AfCFTA.  After 16 years in the business of trade negotiations, I am more convinced than ever – that strong preparatory work determines a steady and effective path to implementation.   In this line of argumentation, the delay of Nigeria, if hinged on getting the domestic consultations finalized as well as the reform agenda needed to faithfully implement the Agreement, is positive.  It is true though that there has to be a price for accession – which will be difficult to avoid when countries are not ‘Founding Members”.  Like others, the call from UNCTAD, is for all African countries to take the opportunity of the AfCFTA by joining – and use all of the available tools to support implementation.

There has been no shortage of lofty agreements in Africa, but a missing ingredient has been the political will, how committed do you think African countries are to the effective implementation of the AFCFTA?

An agreement that has, from commencement of negotiations (February 2016) to adoption (March 2018) – taken a little over two years – is demonstration of strong political will. The fact that the approaches adopted for the design of the AfCFTA relied heavily on REC developments and dynamics is a vote of confidence (read political will) in integration in Africa.  The pace at which ratifications have trickled in – is also unprecedented. Moreover, an extraordinary Summit of African Union Heads of States and Governments is scheduled for July 2019 to officially launch the operational phase of the AfCFTA with key support initiatives to be unveiled during the event.

The commitment of African leaders – from the top through to technocrats that shape the day to day work on the AfCFTA, is strong.  Business and Civil Society have also been engaged.  Across the board, you do get a sense of a great dose of political will – which will be central to ensuring that needed reforms are prioritized at country and regional level – for effective implementation.

Dr Kategewa says the level of trade in services in Africa is growing

Dr Kategewa says the level of trade in services in Africa is growing

Still on the level of implementation, let’s take the example of Rwanda where its border with Uganda has been shut with unfortunate economic consequences for months now, how could situations like this impact the implementation of the AFCFTA?

The AfCFTA will create the needed momentum to remove obstacles to trade across Africa.  At the forthcoming AU Summit, the AU will launch an Online Platform to report non-tariff barriers in the AfCFTA, that it has developed with the support of UNCTAD.  This will allow private sector and policy makers to identify and resolve such barriers in the implementation structures of the AfCFTA. The online tool will be accompanied by national institutions that would be geared to address the complaints raised and remove them, so trade is not unnecessarily hinder or obstructed by non-tariff barriers.

What impact do you think the agreement could have on trade with countries like China, Europe, the USA and other foreign countries seeking to bolster trade ties with Africa?

The purpose of the AfCFTA is to increase intra-African trade. New opportunities in intra-African trade will do for Africa what closer regional integration did for Europe and other large powers.  African producers will establish channels of production to utilize these opportunities.  These products will be of higher value, more diversified and in bigger volumes.  Naturally, the focus on intra-African trade may be seen as an inward strategy.  But the fundamentals of this being the approach that will support industrial development and structural transformation, are solid.

The AfCFTA gives countries like China, Europe, the US what they have asked for a while – clear, rules based environments of policy and legal predictability in Africa.  Their support will be important in getting the capacity development agenda off the ground – to build productive capacity for intra-African trade in Africa. It is important to note though, that it is not only countries but also global firms, that could be attracted to Africa.

Africa will be better positioned to engage with “third countries” – thanks to the AfCFTA – whose rules have particular provisions on how to manage such relations.    In the case of the multilateral trading system embodied in the WTO, it is unquestionable that all of the important successes that have been registered for Africa within the work of the WTO have been achieved thanks to a united Africa – the so called WTO Africa Group.  The AfCFTA stands to build on that progress by creating clarity to the African position on complex issues across trade and development.  And this is important especially because much of the engagement of Africa in the MTS has been positioned around the call for flexibility, special and differential treatment.  In the period of WTO reform, having a unified African position on tariffs and industry, on services regulation, on non-tariff barriers – (the core of trade policy etc.) will allow for the articulation of a stronger voice from Africa to the world.  This will play a positive role in the beneficial integration of Africa into the multilateral trading system.

There seems to be a lot of optimism about the AFCTA, at what point should everyday ordinary Africans expect to feel its impact in their lives?

The Agreement has entered into force and in the coming weeks, the African Union Heads of State will launch its operational phase.  Ordinary Africans should not wait to feel the impact on their lines – rather, they should create this impact– by engaging in production for export.  Once the tariff books (or services sectoral regulations) are changed to reflect AfCFTA preferential treatment for its states parties – it will be visible.  And yet it can only be visible for those who are ready to utilize.  So, there will be no manna from heaven.  For those that engage in production or have services to export, the treatment received thanks to the AfCFTA – will be the occasion to feel the impact.  And one can imagine that such an impact would cascade down to communities, families, people – improving their lives with the dividend of new markets.

There will be revenue losses from implementing the AfCFTA.  These, according to UNCTAD studies, will be in the short term.  However, the long-term gains outweigh the losses. Moreover, there are in-built flexibilities to deal with tariff revenue and welfare losses. Some of these include compensatory measures, flanking policies and adjustment measures.[2] It is also worth recalling that the loss of revenue and its magnitude would need to be calibrated to the reality of the still low levels of intra-Africa trade.

Is there any role your agency played in the build up to the treaty or a support role that you will be playing in its implementation?

UNCTAD’s relationship of support for trade capacity development predates the AfCFTA.  We have been involved, from the times of translating the political decision into modalities for negotiations.  We have provided technical studies and options for negotiations, working with the technical teams in the AU to prepare data, analysis and propose options for outcomes that support developmental regionalism.  The Secretary General of UNCTAD took a decision to establish the UNCTAD Regional Office for Africa – which I have the privilege to head.  The Office has been a fulcrum of UNCTAD’s support to the AfCFTA –bringing some of the world’s best minds on various complex trade topics, from headquarters, to advise the AUC Department on Trade and Industry – and to be available in negotiating institutions to provide study findings, data and analysis and overall technical support to AU Members.  The AU designated UNCTAD a Technical Partner to the negotiations – and this has allowed for a seamless flow of support – much to the appreciation of African Union Member States – who are on record in awarding UNCTAD a certificate of appreciation for the technical support in the AfCFTA negotiations.

As we move to Niamey, the Secretary General of UNCTAD and the President of Niger are poised to launch the continental non-tariff barrier reporting and eliminating online mechanism before Heads of State.  For as any trade negotiations professional will tell you – there is one thing that is for sure – as tariffs go down, non-tariff barriers rise…

Looking ahead towards implementation, UNCTAD as the lead agency within the United Nations supporting countries in developing policies for trade-led growth, will continue to support the African Union Commission, and the institutional structures in place for implementation.  UNCTAD’s Divisions – all of which have played a key role in supporting the negotiations – in particular the Division on Trade in Goods and Commodities, the Investment Division, the Statistics Branch, and the Africa and Least Developed Countries Division – will continue to support implementation – particularly as we get not only into phase II of the negotiations on which we are already working with the AU – but also as we shift focus to the pressing question of building productive capacities…In a sense therefore, we are very much at the early stages of a long road ahead…

[1] The African Continental Free Trade Area: The day after the Kigali Summit. UNCTAD Policy Brief No. 67 of May 2018

[2] The African Continental Free Trade Area: The day after the Kigali Summit. UNCTAD Policy Brief No. 67 of May 2018

0
Read More
Rise of ‘inside job theft’ is a bad image to the country
June 29, 2019 | 4 Comments

By Samuel Ouma |@journalist_27

A number of Kenyan corporations are counting financial losses which result from an escalating wave of theft carried out by their employees.

It is alleged that over 80 per cent of theft and fraud in commercial banks, major companies and organizations plus state corporations originate from staff members.

During his state visit to Israel in 2016, President Uhuru Kenyatta shocked the world when he revealed that Kenyans are experienced thieves. He said it is not easy for the country to realized economic growth due to culture of stealing in its members. He wondered how a desert country like Israel is far much ahead of his country in terms of development.

A Kenyan woman hit the headlines in the international media in November 2015 after she was alleged to have stolen meat from a meat processing company in South Africa.

The woman, in company of her colleague were said to have staffed the meat around their waist while they were leaving work. They were about to escape through the main gate before being arrested by the security officials who sensed that something was amiss.

It is being said that six out of ten people reporting to work have an intention of stealing while two do not intend to but given the opportunity, they will carry it out without any doubt. It is further speculated that in a group of 10 employees only one of them is an honest person.

The act of stealing in the country has caught attention of world renowned leaders such as the former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and the US President Donald Trump among others.

Before being elected the president Trump accused Kenyan people and government officials of depriving the country opportunity to thrive economically.

He said, “Look at African countries like Kenya for instance, those people are stealing from their own government and go to invest the money in the foreign countries. From the government to opposition, they only qualify to be used as a case study whenever bad examples are required.”

Mugabe echoed the same sentiments, “Those people of East Africa shock me with their wizardly in stealing. Sometimes I tend to believe that stealing is in every Kenyan’s blood. These people go to their schools and read their good courses but they qualify as the best thieves. You can even think that there is a subject in their universities called Bachelor of Stealing. Whenever they get an opportunity to steal, they never disappoint. They steal money to buy their freedoms because even the judges who listen to their cases are financially powerless,” he echoed.

Here are a few of the latest inside job heists that have flooded the media:

On June 27, 2019, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) summoned quite a number of Kenya Power and Lighting Company Ltd employees for questioning over fraud involving millions of shillings in the postpaid billing system.

The employees are alleged to have colluded with brokers, customers and siphoned funds from the company.

“The DCI is investigating allegations of fraud involving millions of shillings in Kenya power in regard to the postpaid system; the funds were lost as a result of conspiracy between some Kenya Power staff, brokers and customers,” said DCI boss George Kinoti.

Kenya’s second leading mobile operators Airtel has reported a loss of $6.7 million to staff fraud last year.

Despite putting into place security measures such as daily reconciliations, technical restrictions on the transfer of funds to non-airtel numbers, the company said that eliminating fraudulent activities by individuals employed by the telco or those working in partnership of it is a nightmare.

“Additionally, technical or administrative errors could result in customer losses for which group could be responsible, and the group may be liable for fraud and problems related to inadequately securing group payment systems,” the company said.

In another shocking heist, In August last year, four employees of Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) were charged with stealing $720, 000 from their employer. Investigations dictated that the suspects transferred the money in small amounts to other accounts.

 

A number of senior government officials have also been linked with looting of public resources. The integrity of number of Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries, Members of Parliament, Governors, Senators, Woman Representatives, and Members of County Assemblies including the deputy president is questionable.

Kenyans are a laughing stock to their neighboring countries and others over their alleged habit of stealing. If one happens to visit a foreign country like Tanzania, the question you one may not miss from the locals is, “are you a thief?”

0
Read More
Don’t Expect Justice From the Imperial Criminal Court
June 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Justin Podur*

-The ICC provides no legal counterbalance to the arrogance of an empire’s power.

In June, a group of international lawyers sued the European Union for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The lawyers claim that when the EU switched to a policy of deterring refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean in 2014, in particular trying to prevent Libyan refugees from fleeing their destroyed state, they killed thousands of refugees and sent tens of thousands more back to Libya to be enslaved, tortured, raped, and killed.

As a symbolic gesture, the lawsuit is powerful. But the possibility of getting justice for Libyan refugees from the ICC is practically nonexistent.

In fact, the ICC bears some responsibility for the destruction of the Libyan state that led to the refugee crisis in the first place. When the United States decided to overthrow Gaddafi in 2011, it had the UN Security Council make a “referral” of the Libyan situation to the ICC. There were some peculiarities in the details of the referral as well: the ICC was directed to investigate the situation in Libya, exempting non-state actors, since February 15, 2011. “It would appear,” scholar Mark Kersten writes in a chapter in the 2015 book Contested Justice (pg. 462), “that the restriction to events after 15 February 2011 was included in order to shield key Western states… In the years preceding the intervention, many of the same Western states that ultimately intervened in Libya and helped overturn the regime had maintained close economic, political and intelligence connections with the Libyan government.” The African Union, led by the South African president, tried to broker a peace deal between Gaddafi and the rebels: Gaddafi accepted, but the rebels refused. For them, Gaddafi had to go. And the ICC investigation strengthened their hand. In Libya, the ICC was harmful to a negotiated solution.

In general, the ICC prefers war to negotiated peace. As scholar Phil Clark pointed out in his 2018 book Distant Justice (pg. 91): “… the ICC has expressed immense scepticism toward peace negotiations involving Ugandan and Congolese suspects whom it has charged—especially when those talks involve the offer of amnesty—but has strongly supported militarised responses to these suspects and their respective rebel movements. In short, the ICC has viewed ongoing armed conflict rather than peace talks as more useful for its own purposes.” The president of the DR Congo’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission told Clark in an interview (pg. 223): “The ICC came up forcefully in our discussions with several rebel leaders… We would start talking to them, make good progress, then the conversation would stop. They didn’t want to incriminate themselves, even when we stressed that the amnesty was in place.” In the DR Congo, the ICC made offers of amnesty less credible. Rebel leader Mathieu Ngudjolo was pardoned in 2006, integrated into the army, promoted to the rank of colonel, and then arrested on an ICC warrant 18 months later: the government’s “duplicity toward an amnesty recipient undermined the broader use of amnesty as an incentive for members of rebel groups to disarm” (pg. 203).

The ICC’s careful selection of when it investigates crimes (like limiting its Libya investigation to crimes after February 15, 2011, or its predecessor the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda limiting its investigation to crimes committed after the assassination of the Rwandan president on April 6, 1994) is mirrored in its careful selection of where it investigates and where it ignores. Take the DR Congo again: the ICC limited its mandate to the province of Ituri. Horrific violence took place in Ituri, but there was less violence overall than in the Kivu provinces (especially North Kivu). Why didn’t the ICC investigate in the Kivus? Because in the Kivus, the worst crimes were committed by armed groups supported by Rwanda and Uganda, favored U.S. allies in the region. When Sri Lanka’s government killed tens of thousands of people at the end of its counterinsurgency war against the Tamil Tigers in 2009, the ICC wrung its hands: Sri Lanka wasn’t a signatory to the Rome Statute that empowered the ICC.

The ICC gets even twistier when it comes time to prevent accountability for Israel. After the Goldstone report on Israel’s massacres in Gaza in 2008/9, Palestinians tried to bring a suit to the ICC against the Israeli generals and politicians who organized them. David Bosco reports in his book Rough Justice (pg. 162) that the Israelis met with Ocampo and “pressed Moreno-Ocampo to determine quickly that Palestine was not a state and that the court could therefore not accept its grant of jurisdiction.” The Americans told Ocampo “that they saw little value in ‘criminalizing the world’s longest running and most intractable regional dispute.’” Moreno saw the light: “The prosecutor’s long-awaited decision on Palestine—released in April 2012… more than three years after Palestine asked the court to investigate, the prosecutor decided that it was not his role to determine Palestine’s legal status.” The massacred Palestinians were colonized, and therefore stateless. Only states can sign the Rome Statute and bring the ICC in. Therefore, the ICC had no jurisdiction over the 2008/9 massacres of the Palestinians.

When the U.S. and UK saw no benefit to having the ICC involved in Afghanistan, the ICC prosecutor (Bosco, pg. 163): “limited himself to occasional private requests and put no pressure on involved states. That approach contrasted sharply with his willingness to sharply chastise states for their failure to enforce existing arrest warrants.”

Given the proclivity of the Western coalition in Afghanistan for bombing weddings and operating death squads (sometimes euphemistically called “kill teams”), their squeamishness in the face of potential legal probes is understandable. The ICC, like its predecessor tribunals on Rwanda and Yugoslavia, fully understands that the U.S. and UK are exempt from its brand of justice. Bosco (pg. 66) quotes British Foreign Minister Robin Cook speaking about the international tribunal after the Kosovo war in 1999: “If I may say so, this is not a court set up to bring to book Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom or Presidents of the United States.” Legal scholar Hans Kochler, writing in 2003 (pg. 178), quoted NATO spokesman Jamie Shea, who responded, when asked if he would accept the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY)’s jurisdiction over NATO officials: “… I think we have to distinguish between the theoretical and the practical. I believe when Justice [Louise] Arbour starts her investigation, she will because we will allow her to. It’s not [Serbian President Slobodan] Milosevic that has allowed Justice Arbour her visa to go to Kosovo to carry out her investigations. If her court, as we want, is to be allowed access, it will be because of NATO… So NATO is the friend of the Tribunal, NATO are the people who have been detaining indicted war criminals for the Tribunal in Bosnia.”

NATO’s spokesman reminded the world that as a “practical” matter, since it was Western militaries and police services that provide the law enforcement services to the ICC, these Western militaries wouldn’t subject themselves to the ICC’s justice. The second ICTY prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, admitted her dependence on NATO forces and the partiality of justice that ensued (quoted in Bosco pg. 66): “if I went forward with an investigation of NATO, I would not only fail in this investigative effort, I would render my office incapable of continuing to investigate and prosecute the crimes committed by the local forces during the wars of the 1990s.”

Justin Podur

Justin Podur

The ICC’s prosecutors depend on Western forces to make arrests and renditions. The ICC also recycles intelligence material from these Western countries into evidence against ICC suspects. This should be a legal problem: intelligence material is not evidence. There are many people trapped in Kafkaesque situations precisely because courts used intelligence materials—which are best guesses and probabilities used to inform police and military actions usually before events occur—as evidence, which should consist of provable facts intended to hold people accountable after the fact. Canadian academic Hassan Diab—imprisoned in France based on a similar-sounding name in a notebook from an intelligence agency interrogation—is just one example.

There was a time, decades ago, when the ICC was forming, when American and Israeli officials were actually worried about the prospect of a court that had universal jurisdiction. Suddenly, U.S. officials talked about national sovereignty. At that time you could hear John Bolton arguing that it was a bad idea “assert the primacy of international institutions over nation-states.” Bolton was very explicit about his problems with the U.S. being a party to the ICC, as quoted by Mahmood Mamdani in 2008:

“‘Our main concern should be for our country’s top civilian and military leaders, those responsible for our defense and foreign policy.’ Bolton went on to ask ‘whether the United States was guilty of war crimes for its aerial bombing campaigns over Germany and Japan in World War II’ and answered in the affirmative: ‘Indeed, if anything, a straightforward reading of the language probably indicates that the court would find the United States guilty. A fortiori, these provisions seem to imply that the United States would have been guilty of a war crime for dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This is intolerable and unacceptable.’ He also aired the concerns of America’s principal ally in the Middle East, Israel: ‘Thus, Israel justifiably feared in Rome that its pre-emptive strike in the Six-Day War almost certainly would have provoked a proceeding against top Israeli officials. Moreover, there is no doubt that Israel will be the target of a complaint concerning conditions and practices by the Israeli military in the West Bank and Gaza.’”

Near the end of his term, Clinton signed the Rome Statute. At the beginning of his term, George W. Bush had Bolton “unsign” it, and negotiate bilateral agreements with the countries of the world that they would never hand Americans over to any international courts. The U.S. went even further, passing in 2002 the Armed Service-Members Protection Act, which includes the line: “The United States is not a party to the Rome Statute and will not be bound by any of its terms. The United States will not recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court over United States nationals.” Then the U.S. got the Security Council to pass resolutions enshrining U.S. immunity.

Israel also never signed the Rome Statute, which is why its officials are now arguing that the ICC has no jurisdiction in an ICC suit about another massacre it committed, this time on a boat trying to relieve the Gaza siege in 2010.

The powerful are exempt from the ICC’s justice. But the U.S. does believe in a kind of universal jurisdiction: its own. Kochler (2003, pg. 106) cites an internal Department of Justice memorandum from the George H.W. Bush era stating the opinion that the FBI has the power “to apprehend and abduct a fugitive residing in a foreign state when those actions would be contrary to customary international law.” That memo was from 1989, and it was about arresting Manuel Noriega, the president of Panama who fell afoul of the U.S., whose country was bombed and invaded, and who was taken away to jail.

The ICC won’t be doing anything for Libyan refugees or the victims of Israel’s massacres, but it continues to make strong statements about Sudan’s now ousted president Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted for crimes committed as part of a counterinsurgency campaign in Darfur. The trial of an African leader from an enemy state, more than a decade after the crimes took place: now this is where the ICC shines.

In 2008, writing about the ICC’s arrest warrant for al-Bashir, Uganda-based scholar Mahmood Mamdani warned that the ICC was becoming a tool of neocolonial domination. The theory implicit in the ICC’s interventions, he wrote, “…turns citizens into wards. The language of humanitarian intervention has cut its ties with the language of citizen rights. To the extent the global humanitarian order claims to stand for rights, these are residual rights of the human and not the full range of rights of the citizen. If the rights of the citizen are pointedly political, the rights of the human pertain to sheer survival… Humanitarianism does not claim to reinforce agency, only to sustain bare life. If anything, its tendency is to promote dependence. Humanitarianism heralds a system of trusteeship.” And what is an empire if not a system of trusteeship?

The ICC provides no legal counterbalance to the arrogance of an empire’s power. It is the empire’s court.

*Source: Independent Media Institute. This article was produced by Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute.Justin Podur is a Toronto-based writer and a writing fellow at Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute. You can find him on his website at podur.org and on Twitter @justinpodur. He teaches at York University in the Faculty of Environmental Studies.

0
Read More
A Memo to Paul Biya, President of Cameroon on: The Urgent Need for Public Policy Mediation and Negotiations in the Ongoing Armed Conflict in the Anglophone Regions of Cameroon
June 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Rev. Fr.  Wilfred Emeh*

Father Wilfred Epie Emeh

Father Wilfred Epie Emeh

How did we get here?

It has been nearly three years since the unprecedented outbreak of the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon – a crisis that has dealt a heavy blow on the facets of life of our beloved nation. The UN has reported nearly 2,000 deaths, property has been destroyed, schools have been torched, and uncertainty looms as thousands of people continue to live in misery. The devastation on our economy and human resources are inestimable; businesses have been forced to close, and talented citizens continue to flee their homeland. Thousands of families have been displaced, and many others have become refugees in foreign lands.

How did we get here? The escalation of the ongoing conflict is consequent upon grave administrative failures that include mass arrests and brutal force and extrajudicial killings at a time when peaceful civilians merely sought to express their grievances against the ruling government. Over time, insurgent groups emerged, acquired arms, and targeted the military and security officers, in what has become a full-blown armed conflict in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon.

In retrospect, crass failure to implement educational and judicial policies, that are foundational principles of our co-existence, was the main cause of the Anglophone uprising. This was a glaring neglect of pertinent policies on equal partnership, the preservation of cultural heritage and identity of each region as stipulated by the union-agreement between the Francophone and the Anglophone regions. Evidently, this failure of policy implementation was a symptom of more profound ailments within our political institution that favors corruption, marginalization and social injustice. The implementation of policies, especially those that are constitutionally founded, are essential in the democratic decision-making process of every nation.

Despite the current situation, it would be in our national interest if all parties resort to the public policy mediation process which is an inclusive, transparent process of negotiations among government agency officials and diverse stakeholders that often results in consensus agreements rooted in nuanced understandings of a conflict (Potziba, 2019). This memo largely seeks to identify the root causes of the current crisis and propose recommendations for a swift resolution of the ongoing armed conflict.

Where are we?

So far, the government’s approach and tactics have been futile; attempts to set up a bilingualism commission failed no less than the authoritative leadership style. On the other hand, opposition groups have engaged in propaganda and destructive ideologies. Several factions have emerged with multiple pseudo-leaderships, void of any clear sense of direction. Civil rights activists are in jail while young people have been radicalized. The future is bleak as there seems to be no real leadership on either side of the aisle. And, while the government persists in cracking down on political activists and insurgents, the latter seem resolved to resist and fight back to the last ounce of their blood. It is rightly said, “as hunters have learned to shoot without missing, birds will have no choice but learn to fly without perching.”

Consequently, our people are hurting. Worse still, both the government and the separatist forces seem to be on extreme ends of the political spectrum. Clearly without any strategies or plans for a resolution, an already precarious economy is worsening by the day, while armed bandits continue to terrorize and harass hard working civilians.

President Biya and his government are under growing pressure to initiate serious dialogue

President Biya and his government are under growing pressure to initiate serious dialogue

Brief theoretical framework

There is urgent need for public policy mediation, which should include revisiting the political roots of the problem in a spirit of dialogue, conferences and negotiation. “In several Western democracies, attempts have been made to find a way out of these problems by trying out new forms of conflict resolution based upon negotiation and participatory procedures such as policy dialogue, consensus conferences, participatory technology assessment, mediation, or facilitation” (Holzinger, 2001).

The benefits of policy mediation and negotiation are enormous; it brings together policy experts from international platforms who will forge the path to a lasting resolution. Usually policy mediation fosters deliberations among parties that represent every aspect of a situation, supported by expertise as needed, resulting in agreements that avoid unintended consequences (Podziba, 2019).

Another important benefit of policy mediation is face-to-face deliberations that promote civil discourse. This is quite different from the vitriolic attacks and incivility that we have also witnessed on social media platforms, spewed by both the government spokespersons and opposition groups.

Negotiation and policy mediation are bedfellows, encouraging the willingness of both parties to shift positions with a clear focus on a win-win outcome. During successful negotiation, emotions are separated from the factual basis of the problem, shifting the focus to the benefits without the pride of clinging to positions. Lines of communication are opened, paving the way toward rational analysis of arguments, discussion of concessions and pursuit of compromise to the benefit of everyone.

Understandably, the ruling government has an uphill task in initiating dialogue with diverse opposition groups, some of which have been tagged as terrorists. This must be dealt with initially as it is the outcome of the delegitimization of the premier civil rights consortium. A committed public relations bureau of the government with sound knowledge on the issues should identify the main rival groups and extend an invitation to them.

What must we do?

  • Amidst these tumultuous times, political leaders need to rise beyond personal feelings, hurt, and mistakes of the past and look at the bigger picture: the future of our children, peace, and stability are priceless. It is time to demonstrate true leadership by involving the grassroots in a process of dialogue that can bring real change in Cameroon. Richard Box (1998) explains that finding a way to equitably resolve differences is a key interpersonal skill, opening the door to more citizen-oriented governance. For elected leaders and public service practitioners, this means a flexible attitude toward change, shedding of protective feelings of personal turf, and a willingness to engage in open dialogue on issues facing the community (as cited in Denhardt et al., 2014).
  • The time for blame games is over. It is urgent for warring factions to come to the negotiating table in a spirit of sincere dialogue that allows deliberations on all options including federalism. The current efforts being made to host an All-Anglophone Conference (November 21-22) is commendable. These kinds of initiatives – notably dialogues led by civil society, whether secular or religious – should get strong support from governments and international organizations, including the U.S., the European Union, the African Union, and even the Vatican. The International Crisis Group has recommended the Catholic Church as potential mediator of the crisis.
  • There is need for a neutral arbiter in the policy mediation process. This is no longer an internal affair as often claimed by some overzealous political pundits. The constant refrain by Anthony Guiterez, Secretary General of the UN, that Africans should solve their own problems, is unrealistic, perhaps even bizarre. We would be repeating mistakes of the past to the detriment of human life and human dignity.
  • A decentralized form of government should be considered to better serve the needs of the people, which would devolve power and control to the local communities, limiting the concentration of management of the nation’s resources in the hands of a few high-positioned officials. By shifting control rights from the central bureaucrat (who otherwise acts like an unregulated monopolist) to a local government, decentralization typically tends to expand service deliveries as authority goes to those more responsive to user needs (Bardhan, 2002).

 

With serious dialogue, many agree that the peaceful protests at the the onset of the crisis would not have degenerated into the ongoing carnage

With serious dialogue, many agree that the peaceful protests at the the onset of the crisis would not have degenerated into the ongoing carnage

In conclusion, our nation must strive toward good governance. Most armed conflicts in Africa are caused by bad governance. All over the world, people naturally rise against regimes that deprive them of their rights and privileges due to institutional corruption. In retrospect, armed conflicts in Nigeria, Mali, Sudan, Liberia, just to mention a few, were all linked to bad governance. The United Nation Children’s Fund notes, “corruption and bad governance were among the causes of war. The majority of the people had no voice in the government and no opportunities in life and so they were easily provoked to violence” (as cited in Yiew et al., 2016). Good governance is key to mitigating armed conflict. Empirical studies show that countries that uphold democratic principles, where corruption is under control, where law and order is maintained, where the people are served accordingly, are less vulnerable to armed conflicts (Yiew et al., 2016).

References

Bardhan P. (2002). Decentralization of governance and development. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 16(4), 185–205. Retrieved from https://pubs.aeaweb.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1257/089533002320951037

Birkland, T. A. (2015). An introduction to the policy process: Theories, concepts, and models of public policy making. Routledge.

Denhardt, R., Denhardt, J., & Blanc, T. (2014). Public administration: An action orientation (7th ed.). Cengage Learning

Holzinger, K. (2001). Negotiations in public-policy making: Exogenous barriers to successful dispute resolution. Journal of Public Policy21(1), 71-96.

Konings, P., & Nyamnjoh, F. B. (1997). The anglophone problem in Cameroon. The Journal of Modern African Studies35(2), 207-229.

Podziba, S. L. (2019). Conflict, Negotiation, and Public Policy Mediation in the Trump Era. Negotiation Journal35(1), 177-181.

Staff, C (2018). Cameroon cardinal helping organize conference to tackle Anglophone crisis. Retrieved from https://cruxnow.com/global-church/2018/08/04/cameroon-cardinal-helping-organize-conference-to-tackle-anglophone-crisis/

Yiew, T. H., Habibullah, M. S., Law, S. H., & Azman-Saini, W. N. W. (2016). Does bad governance cause armed conflict? International Journal of Applied Business and Economic Research14(6), 3741-3755.

*Rev. Wilfred Emeh is a doctoral student in Public Administration at the West Chester University in Pennsylvania. His area of concentration is governance and armed conflict in Africa

0
Read More
Cameroon: Unidentified gunmen kidnap SDF’s Fru Ndi
June 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

SDF National Chairman, Ni John Fru Ndi

SDF National Chairman, Ni John Fru Ndi

The National chairman of the Social Democratic Party, SDF Ni John Fru Ndi has reportedly been kidnapped by unidentified gunmen in Bamenda, North West Region of Cameroon. The incident took place in the early hours of June 28. It is still unclear as to who is behind that latest attack or the motive behind the kidnapped.

His body guard was reportedly shot on the leg by the armed men before making away with the Chairman.

This is the second time the SDF chairman has been reportedly kidnapped. Ni John Fru Ndi’s first kidnapped was on April 27 at Wainama as he was leading a delegation to bury Honourable Joseph Banadzem in Kumbo. He was briefly questioned before he was later released, sources said.

However, party sources had dismissed the notion the Chairman was kidnapped, rather saying it was a ‘misunderstanding’ between the Chairman and the armed men which was immediately sorted out.

In a press release, Jean Robert Wafo Minister of SDF shadow cabinet in charge of information and media said “The national president of Sdf, the chairman Ni John Fru Ndi was the victim of an abduction by unidentified kidnappers this afternoon around 15h30mn. They entered his residence in Ntarikon with Bamenda with guns and fired point-blank at his bodyguard, and then multiplied the shots warning.” “The chairman who was inside the house went out to inquire about the situation and it was then that the attackers removed him to an unknown destination.”

“The SDF will advise as necessary the national and international opinion on this new kidnapping which takes place almost two months to the day after that of April 27th” He added.

The SDF national chairman has been a strong critic of the separatist fighters who are clamoring for separation. The SDF chairman has called on the separatist fighters to go back to their main aim when they stated the fight that they have lost their way. Family members of Ni John Fru Ndi have been kidnapped in the past.

The crisis in the North West and South West Regions of the country has caused many to flee their homes into bushes or neighboring regions. Kidnappings, killings is the other of the day in the regions. More than 200 houses have been partly or completely destroyed, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee. The rate of attacks on villages have increased steadily, usually causing significant damage.  Some 450,000 and 550,000 people have been displaced as a result of the crisis, representing about 10 percent of the regions’ population. An additional 30,000 to 35,000 people have sought asylum in neighboring countries.

This is a developing story…..

 

0
Read More
President Kiir, ex-rebel Machar meetings needed for Peace in South Sudan – UN envoy says
June 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

UNMISS chief with President Kiir

UNMISS chief with President Kiir

Juba – the representative of the United Nations’ Secretary General in South Sudan said the lack of meetings between President Salva Kiir and ex-rebel leader, designated vice president Riek Machar remains a fundamental challenge for the implementation of the 2018 revitalized peace deal.

David Shearer, head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) made this remark during a briefing to the United Nations Security Council on the slow pace implementation of the signed revitalized peace agreement.

South Sudan declared independence from Sudan regime in 2011 amid celebrations and promises of support from major world powers and friends after the decades of scorched – earth conflict, but the world desired – country returned into another civil war in late 2013 after political disagreement between president Kiir and his former deputy, designated vice president Machar.

Through the regional – bloc, IGAD’s effort, the two principals, including other opposition leaders signed the revitalized peace agreement last September 2018, the latest in a series of others reached since 2013 but are being violated with a month, is largely delaying after South Sudan’s ruling and opposition parties agreed in May to give themselves six more months to form a unity government as part of the peace deal.

However, Shearer said despite the deferment of the transitional government formed months ago, the implementation of the security arrangements particularly the troops’ cantonment and unification of armed forces have been lethargic.

“A fundamental challenge is the lack of regular face-to-face meetings between President Salva Kiir and Opposition leader Dr Riek Machar,” Shearer told the UNSC this week. “These leader-to-leader meetings, preferably held in Juba, are critical because trust and confidence can’t cold start the day a new unified government is formed,” he further said.

Ex- rebel Machar is now based in Khartoum after the regional bloc ended his house arrest in South Africa in mid – last year, and then Machar would only return to Juba, South Sudan when the power – sharing government is formed after the process of the pre-transitional period steps like established of cantonment sites, army unification and delimitation of tribal boundaries.

Shearer further said the United Nations and African Union are working together and now accept, may be some tasks would not be utterly complete by November, 2019, adding that they can consider the pre-transitional tasks as ‘complete,’ but this should not delay the formation of the unity government.

The UNMISS chief has also renewed calls on the South Sudanese government to meet its commitment to release funding its pledged for peace’s implementation.

 

On the same event, South Sudanese Ambassador to United Nations, Akuei Bona Malwal reiterated his government pledge to pay $100 million dollars to speed up the implementation of peace deal.

Amb. Bona also added that his government have already disbursed two million towards food and cantonment preparation activities in Greater Upper Nile and Bahr El Ghazal respectively.

“The peace implementation needs technical assistance and experts that we hope the international community would provide,” said Bona.

The Khartoum – backing peace deal is facing financial supports since it was inked and this made its’ implementation slothful. So the due formation of the power – sharing government in November 12, 2019 is an incredulous.

0
Read More
Kigali City interests investors in constructing residential houses
June 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Jean d’Amour Mugabo

Kigali City Mayor Marie Chantal Rwakazina urges investors to construct affordable residential houses at the Kigali Investors Forum 2019

Kigali City Mayor Marie Chantal Rwakazina urges investors to construct affordable residential houses at the Kigali Investors Forum 2019

The City of Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, has encouraged investors to construct residential houses with special focus on availing affordable houses, offering an assurance that the demand is too high.

Speaking at the Kigali Investor’s Forum (KIF) on Tuesday, Kigali City Mayor Marie Chantal Rwakazina pledged the city council’s support to local and foreign investors, saying that there are still many untapped investment opportunities in the city.

Robert Bapfakurera, the Chairman of Rwanda’s Private Sector Federation, raises high banks' interest rates at the Kigali Investors Forum 2019

Robert Bapfakurera, the Chairman of Rwanda’s Private Sector Federation, raises high banks’ interest rates at the Kigali Investors Forum 2019

KIF aims to promote and encourage private sector involvement in the City’s projects and showcase the role of private sector in accelerating the Kigali City economic development particularly in promoting collective investment, addressing challenges and creating opportunities.

“I would encourage you to invest in constructing affordable houses for sale or rent in order to modernize the city habitation, in developing recreational centres, constructing streets in mapped areas of the city and more,” Ms. Rwakazina told around 400 participants including investors, policy-makers, industrial experts, representatives of financial and academic institutions.

She advised investors to join hands in forming companies and cooperatives for being able to grab these investment opportunities which require a lot of finances. She added that these investments would also be important in creating jobs for the city youth.

Robert Bapfakurera, the Chairman of Rwanda’s Private Sector Federation (PSF) told the media that local investors are mainly challenged with limited access to finance as loan interest rates remain high.

Rwanda established Affordable Housing Fund with $150 million in June 2017 in order to support investors with the finances to use in developing affordable houses. The fund helps investors to acquire loans at 11% interest rate with the repayment period going by 20 years and above while financial institutions in Rwanda usually charge interest at 15% and over within shorter repayment periods.

Investors gather at the Kigali Investors Forum on Tuesday. Photo courtesy.jpg

Investors gather at the Kigali Investors Forum on Tuesday. Photo courtesy.jpg

The Government of Rwanda reports that around 1,000 housing units are developed in the City of Kigali annually while the demand requires 31,000 units. There are currently some ongoing affordable housing projects in Kigali but they are delivering below the demand.

These include the construction of 5,000 housing units which started last year in Ndera Sector of Gasabo District. The project is a joint venture by Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD) and Groupe Palmeraie Développement, one of the Moroccan leaders of Real Estate development and hotel management. The $35 million worth project targets Kigali low-income earners with the lowest monthly income of Rwf200,000 while the cheapest house costs Rwf27 million.

Kigali City Council urge investors to construct affordable houses for low-earners. Photo courtesy.jpg

Kigali City Council urge investors to construct affordable houses for low-earners. Photo courtesy.jpg

Another project is the construction of 3000 housing units in Nyamirambo Sector of Nyarugenge District by BRD and Remote Estate an American company.  The project started in June 2019 and is to be completed in 12 months. The cheapest house in this project will cost the buyer Rwf12 million while the most expensive will cost Rwf35 million.

 

0
Read More
Tanzanian Parliament Passes Digital Rights-hurting Amendments Despite Pushback by Civil Society Organizations
June 28, 2019 | 0 Comments
President Magufuli

President Magufuli

On June 27, 2019 the Tanzanian parliament passed into law amendments to the Written Laws despite pushback from civil society and human rights defenders. The Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments No. 3 of 2019) bill was made public on June 19 under a “certificate of urgency” to speed up its passage.The discussions concerning the bill began in Parliament on June 21, 2019. Members of civil society raised their concerns over the short notice to provide feedback on the bill on the morning of June 21. ‘Gbenga Sesan, the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative, a digital rights organisation working in the region, stated that “Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) urged that if this bill was to be passed it would restrict the right to freedom of expression, assembly and association, placing impermissible restrictions on civil society organisations’ operations’’.

 The laws proposed to be amended include the Non-Governmental Organisations Act 2002 (NGOs Act), Society Act, Trustees and Incorporations Act and The Companies Act 2002 among others.These four laws are among the main laws which govern Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Tanzania hence raising concerns over whether this was targeted as well as the previous laws to further compress democracy in Tanzania. Tope Ogundipe, Director of Programs Paradigm Initiative, noted, “On June 21 and 22 2019, some CSOs managed to submit their views before Parliamentary committees in Dodoma. However yesterday the Parliament passed it with only a handful of recommendations being carried forward’’.

 The role of Civil Society in fostering development and protecting human rights can not be underestimated. CSO’s have not only provided jobs but have contributed to positive development in various sectors of the economy and wellbeing of the nation. In a statement issued by the Tanzania Human rights defenders coalition (THRDC) along with over 300 other CSO’s, the urgency of passing this bill did not give reasonable time for the public to comprehend the implications of such a law. In attempts to push back, movements such as Change Tanzania published an online petition to collect signatures to lobby the parliament to give more time for comments before passing. However despite collection of over 900 signatures in a span of two days, the petition fell on deaf ears.

 There are some positive aspects to the amendments such as the Statistics Act now gives room for due process as well decriminalizing publishing of statistics data however the National Bureau  of Statistics still has the final say on approval of statistics. A post on Instagram by THRDC said that “The government has agreed to put in place procedures for compliance for companies and NGO’s, make amendments to the definition of NGO, Amendments of section 26 which was to give the registrar powers to suspend an NGO Pending determination by the board and monitor and evaluate NGO’s on a quarterly basis’’. Other sections include section 27 and 28 which covers deregistration of NGO’s which fail to comply within the time frame of 2 months. However It is still unclear which of the specific recommendations from stakeholders have been taken into account when making amendments  under the provisions highlighted.

 The Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative, ‘Gbenga Sesan, added, “The country has passed a series of oppressive laws in a short span of slightly over a year when they first released the changes to the Electronic and Postal Communications Act (EPOCA) in March last year’’.This was followed by amendments to the Statistical Act and then the Political Parties Act that was passed earlier this year as well, not giving enough time for concrete responses from stakeholders. While the county is approaching elections, the role of civil society at this crucial time is jeopardized.

 For the citizens of Tanzania there’s no safe space both offline and online. With content online subject to fall under the Cybercrime Act or seen as a violation of EPOCA there’s no room to express views. With the coming in of such new laws Civil society that have been working towards seeking redress and legal strategies to protect human rights including digital rights are left exposed.The role CSO’s have of building communities of trust both offline and online and keeping citizens engaged in matters of direct concern via media and other means will also be challenged. The possibility of some NGOs failing to comply with new laws will make the struggle to protect civic spaces an even more challenging battle.

 This law that was just passed will join the other laws such as the EPOCA, Political Parties Act and Cybercrime Act that have established clear boundaries and leave little room to hold the government accountable and to criticize it. Tope Ogundipe, Director of Programs Paradigm Initiative continued, ‘’We urge that proactive measures be taken to protect the existence of vibrant civil societies that play a role in creating peaceful and equal societies. We implore the government of Tanzania to ensure the stability and openness of democratic and civic spaces in Tanzania by respecting and protecting the role of civil society as a supporting arm of the democracy’’.

 * Source Paradigm Initiative.For more information on this press release please contact Paradigm Initiative’s media office via media@paradigmhq.org

0
Read More
Nairobi, Juba signs MoU on Ilemi to strengthen cross border trade relations
June 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Foreign Affairs CS Monica Juma (right) with her South Sudanese counterpart Nhial Deng Nhial after addressing journalists in Nairobi, yesterday. [Standard]

Foreign Affairs CS Monica Juma (right) with her South Sudanese counterpart Nhial Deng Nhial after addressing journalists in Nairobi, yesterday. [Standard]

Juba – South Sudan and Kenya have signed Memorandum of Understanding to strengths the territorial border reassertion at Ilemi triangle as a moved towards the realization of amity between the two countries.

South Sudan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nhial Deng, and Kenyan Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Monica Juma on Tuesday agreed to launch the first ever joint commission to enhance trade and bilateral relations between the two countries.

However, the move would see teams from Juba and Nairobi negotiate a number of instruments to govern the relationship between the two countries on cross trade and investment.

The two foreign ministers have said they will continue seeking ways to strengthen trade relations between them.

Foreign Affairs Minister Nhial Deng Nhial said his country was keen on strengthening “our relationship” as neighbours.

“We’ll also discuss various bilateral agreements and explore ways of working together in the region,” said Deng. “As always, we are grateful for Kenya’s contribution to South Sudan, key among them peace and security.”

Meanwhile, Kenyan’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Monica Juma said that they had planned a series of talks of framework agreement ahead of a visit by President Salva Kiir to Nairobi – to be scheduled later in the year to review the security and management of the border between the two countries.

The two presidents will also have expected to discuss how to fast-track implementation of the peace process in South Sudan and how Kenya could cooperate on regional infrastructure development.

Dr Juma said Kenya would be seeking to benefit from South Sudan’s wealth as a form of payment for her peacekeeping efforts in the country.

“Both the Kenyan and South Sudanese teams will be negotiating a number of instruments to govern the relationship between the two countries as far as trade and investment are concerned,” said Dr. Juma during a joint Press conference with her Southern Sudanese counterpart, Foreign Affairs Minister Deng, in Nairobi.

Juma said among other things, they planned to launch the first ever joint commission for cooperation with Juba.

Also expected to feature in the talks is the ease of movement of persons and goods between the two countries.

South Sudan, which gained her independence from Sudan in 2011 after the decades of scorched – earth conflict. Immediately, the world youngest country joined the East Africa Community in April 2016, since then, the country has been keen to improve relations with countries in the bloc.

MoU on Ilemi Triangle

The Ilemi triangle has been series of inter-ethnic conflict, basically between the Toposa in South Sudan, Turkana in Kenya, and Nyang’atom of Ethiopia.

The Ilemi Triangle is an area reportedly named after Anyuak chief Ilemi Akwon, a territory claimed by South Sudan and Kenya and borders Ethiopia.

The status of Elemi Triangle is confusing according to international institutions and the three governments.

The dispute arose from unclear wording of colonial-era treaties, which attempted to allow for the movements of Turkana nomadic herders.

The Ethiopian government has never made an official claim on any of the Ilemi and in fact agreed that the land was all Sudanese in the 1902, 1907, and 1972 treaties.

In 2011, the Sudanese claim to the Ilemi Triangle was transferred to the new national government in Juba.

Kenya has also de facto control of part of the area, and has deployed Military and paramilitary in the area, saying the move is in response to cattle rustling and cross-border insecurity among Turkana, Toposa, Didinga, Nyangatom, Dessanach of Ethiopia and Karamajong of Uganda.

Kenya has set a base a few kilometers away from Napadapal checkpoint -unofficially giving it control over the triangle.

Perhaps, officials in South Sudan say the territory was never legally transferred to Kenya by a 1936 undertaking that allowed the British colonial governor of Kenya to administer it on behalf of the then colonial authorities in Juba. The territory was retained by Kenya after Sudan’s independence in 1956.

In recent decades, the prolong conflict in then Sudan, to now South Sudan have had delayed a resolution to the issue between Juba and Nairobi.

Now, with the recent discovery of oil and other minerals in the region, however, this raise a concerns and complicates its resolution.

South Sudan Transitional National Legislature Assembly is putting pressure on the government, particularly Ministries concerns with foreign policy to appear before the house to explain the status of disputed triangle soon.

0
Read More
Is Africa Rising Narrative A Propaganda Or A Reality?
June 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Moses Hategeka*

Kigali, Rwanda

Kigali, Rwanda

Why is it that African continent which is a home to sixty percent of world’s remaining arable land, and is vastly blessed with numerous utilizable water resources and various agro-ecological zones, is still a net food importer and is persistently failing to break the food import chain and food trade deficit that it is trapped in?

Africa’s annual food import bill of 35.00 USD billion, and which is expected to reach 110.00 USD billion by 2025, is extremely worrying. This is almost the same amount, the continent needs to close its power deficit, which is among the key needed ingredient to make the continent meaningfully diversify its economies.

My firsthand accounts of seeing extremely malnourished children in many areas of Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan, Burkina Faso, Malawi, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Zambia, Burundi, Zimbabwe, and Liberia, coupled with very low agricultural productivity, stemming from, overdependence on rain, minimal fertilizer application, use of rudimentary tools, absence of use of appropriate irrigation and water harvesting technologies, and poor farming practices, accompanied with agricultural policy distortions, I have witnessed in many African countries, casts a gloomy picture of Africa’ agricultural sector.

Africa’s annual food import bill of 35.00 USD billion, estimated to rise to 110.00 USD billion by 2025, is besides annihilating its agriculture, also a key continent’s growth and development decelerator. Currently, 250 million people in Africa, are undernourished, and with dwindling agricultural yields, and skyrocketing population, the continent food import bill, is poised to keep on expanding.

Two years back, while on a research assignment, in South-Kivu, North-Kivu, and Tshopo provinces, in DRC, the dilapidated human shelters housing thousands of malnourished and undernourished families, I witnessed shocked me. This is a vast country, which besides, being almost the entire size of Western Europe, is the world’s largest producer of cobalt and is also richly endowed with uranium, diamond, gold, copper, oil, and other precious metals, in addition to possessing large swatches of fertile lands, and world’s second longest River, Congo River, but majority its citizens are extremely very poor.

The situation is not different in other African countries. Forget the rising GDP figures, which the cunning politicians and economists, base on to advance the African rising narrative, and embark on extensive journey in rural areas of many African countries, the skyrocketing poverty levels you will witness, will surprise you.

The persistent use of per capita income as a gauge of African economies growth, should be discarded. It is largely misrepresentative of real situation on the ground, as it does not factor in, the distribution of growth. For instance, according to GDP figures, Uganda economy, has from, 2017/2018 to 2018/2019 expanded from, 25.00 USD billion to 29.00 USD billion, but collaborative government and civil society statistical data, shows that, poverty levels, have in the same period tremendously increased, which in essence implies that, the so called economic expansion is of no value to the majority of its citizens.

All African countries are debt- distressed and billions of monies, they have for years borrowed and are still borrowing from world bank, IMF, China, and other lending institutions and countries, to finance, roads, standard gauge railways construction, power, and other infrastructural developments, with the main aim of attracting foreign direct investments, have not and are not translating into economic wellbeing of the masses. The machinery and technologies used in these infrastructural projects, is foreign imported, very few Africans are employed in these projects, and a big percentage of this borrowed billions, is often swindled through syndicated corruption, involving African leaders and their thieving cronies.

There is no ground-breaking inventions, innovations, and technologies, being generated by Africa’s academic institutions, meant for spurring Africa’s industrial development. All the industries in Africa, are majorly powered by imported technologies. Why is this so and yet we have science, technology, and inter-disciplinary faculties in our universities?

Research is now a major growth and development accelerator of leading world economies. All the ground-breaking technologies that translates into economic well-being of the citizens are attained, through heavily investing in research. Is research financing a priority to African countries? How much does each country apportion to research each financial year? Can that research financing amount enable each country to produce ground- breaking technologies to leapfrog its forward in meeting the needs its citizens?

All over the continent, youth unemployment is on rise, and so is endemic corruption, both of which are deleterious economic bombs, that have been and are set, to continue exploding causing political unrest and destabilizing Africa growth agendas. What has happened and is happening in Nigeria, Somalia, Mali, DRC, Kenya, Ethiopia, Togo, among others is largely a governance question.

Almost all African leaders are pursuing two personal egoistic agendas: personal/family wealth accumulation, and creating a sort of political system/dynasty that provides for continued enjoyment of ill-gotten wealth even when not in power. Creating societal wealth is not their main agenda.

In sum, Africa rising narrative, will only become a reality, when the continent get visionary and transformative leaders, whose main agenda, is to trigger accumulation of an all- inclusive societal wealth. Today’s Africa rising narrative that is mainly advanced basing on GDP growth figures, is largely deceptive, as reality on the ground shows that it is fundamentally exclusive of majority of continental citizens.

*Moses Hategeka, is Ugandan based Independent Governance Researcher, Public Affairs Analyst, and Writer.Email: moseswiseman2000@gmail.com

0
Read More
Rwanda’s progress on data privacy gets in spotlight
June 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Jean d’Amour Mugabo

Kigali Convention Centre, Rwanda's major conferences' venue which is set to host GSMA Mobile 360 Africa from July 16-18, 2019. Photo net

Kigali Convention Centre, Rwanda’s major conferences’ venue which is set to host GSMA Mobile 360 Africa from July 16-18, 2019. Photo net

Rwanda has taken a leadership role in East Africa and continent-wide in promoting the Smart Africa Strategic Vision and adopting its own Smart Rwanda strategy, reports GSMA as Africa Data Protection and Privacy Conference gets underway in Ghana.

GSMA, the global mobile operators’ representative, has, however, recommended Rwanda to seize the opportunities arising from digital transformation by establishing a comprehensive approach to data privacy that is not subsumed within an ICT Law, but applies generally regardless of sector or technology.

To support countries and other stakeholders move forward as they consider Data Protection and Privacy, the GSMA released its new ‘Guiding Principles for Smart Data Privacy Laws’ at the conference running from June 24-27 in Ghana.

“Establishing the right approach to data privacy is critical to Rwanda’s digital transformation,” said Jean-Francois Le Bihan, the GSMA Public Policy Director for Sub-Saharan Africa.

“To be successful, Rwanda must protect individuals while allowing organisations the freedom to innovate and secure positive outcomes for society. Data privacy laws should put the responsibility on organisations to identify and mitigate risks while remaining flexible, technology- and sector-neutral and allowing data to move across borders easily.”

Le Bihan added that without adhering to these guiding principles, poor data privacy enforcement could put at risk the US$ 214 billion mobile economy that Africa has the potential to reach by 2020.

“Rwanda has the opportunity to harness the digital economy as a driver of growth and innovation. If it fails to seize the opportunities, it runs the risk of economic isolation and stagnation,” he cautioned.

More than 1000 experts from around the world, including Rwanda, are gathering in Ghana this week to address data privacy challenges.  Participants include national authorities from African countries, policy makers, data protection officers and data protection and privacy experts.

GSMA reports that Africa has great potential to profit from a digital transformation that could provide jobs and improve access to quality services including finance, healthcare, education and agriculture.

“Home to the youngest population in the world, Africa is progressing rapidly in digital adoption. Underpinned by rising mobile connectivity, the continent has recorded the highest growth globally in internet access, moving from 2.1% in 2005 to 24.4% in 2018,” reads GSMA statement.

According to the GSMA, mobile economy is forecasted to reach 7.9% (US$ 150 billion) of the overall Sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP by 2022, up from 7.1% (US$ 110 billion) in 2017.

“The right approach to data privacy will be critical to building trust in new technologies and systems, but there is a need to accelerate the progress being made,” reads the statement.

Countries across Africa are at varying points on the journey towards enacting Data Protection and Privacy laws, with less than 15 out of 54 African countries having passed a Data Protection Law.

From July 16-18, Rwanda will host GSMA Mobile 360 –Africa, the largest GSMA-run event in Africa, to discuss the rise of the digital citizen and showcase how mobile is creating a better future for African citizens.

0
Read More
1 173 174 175 176 177 311