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Ugandans go to the polls amid Internet shutdown after violent campaign
January 14, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jean-Pierre Afadhali

Tensions have been rife between incumbent President Museveni and opposition challenger Bobi Wine
Tensions have been rife between incumbent President Museveni and opposition challenger Bobi Wine

Following violent and tense campaign marred by clamp down on opposition rallies, media amid covid-19 pandemic across the country more than 17 million eligible voters go to the polls to elect president and parliamentarians.

Eleven candidates are running for the presidency in elections the incumbent Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, one of the longest serving African leaders is seeking to extend his rule for sixth term in the office. Robert Kyagulanyi also known as Bobi Wine, the main challenger to the former rebel leader who took power in 1986 after a war in the East African country hopes to remove the man he is half of his age from power despite numerous obstacles faced on campaign trail and before.

Commenting on his bid for the sixth term in office, yet he had long time ago said the problem of Africa in general and Uganda is leaders who overstay in power, the incumbent said in an interview: “Yes I said staying in power for long time without democracy, mark those words,”

While historically elections have been characterized by violence in Uganda, the latest polls have been cited as the most violent in which journalists were brutalized by security forces, opposition candidates and their teams arrested several times, some opposition supporters died in mysterious circumstances while others disappeared. According to media reports, hundreds of supporters of the National Unity Platform, Bobi Wine’s party are detained.

Nicholas Opiyo, a prominent Human rights lawyer was quoted on the eve of voting day as saying the mood in the country is not for an election. “It feels as though the country is at war.”

There have been heavy army and other security forces presence in Kampala and other parts of the country.

Earlier today in Kampala and in some other areas, polling stations had not yet opened at around 8h30 local time because the country’s election commission had not yet brought electoral materials.

Mr. Museveni who has been in power for 34 years has been credited for the country’s stability and economic development, but critics accuse the 76 year old president for undermining institution’s independence and sidelining opponents.

Museveni said on Wednesday in an interview that he lost in a free and fair elections he would accept the results.

On the eve of the voting day, the country’s communication authority ordered service providers to shutdown Internet until further notice without citing any reason. The Internet shutdown followed the blockage of social media platforms in what appears to be a retaliation for Facebook’s decision to block accounts linked to the government for allegedly spreading disinformation to manipulate debate ahead of the highly disputed polls.

In his state address on Tuesday president Museveni criticized Facebook saying his government can’t tolerate “the arrogance of anybody deciding’ who is good or bad in Uganda and saying it would not operate in the country again.

However, many social media users have turned to VPN to access restricted platforms such as Facebook and twitter.

Presidential hopeful Kyagulanyi who is popular among the youth, on the eve of the polls said on twitter that internet shutdown is a plan to rig elections. “A plot to rig is set, internet is completely shut down and media is censored. However, the people of Uganda are firm and nothing will stop them from ending this oppressive regime.”

Felicia Anthonio, Campaigner Lead at ‘Access Now’, an international digital rights organization said in a statement that “shutting down or blocking Internet while reports of state violence and oppression are emerging is incredibly worrisome,”

 The United States embassy in Kampala have canceled their observation following the refusal of accreditation of 74 percent of its observer team as it could not monitor the whole country.

“With only 15 accreditations approved, it is not possible for the United States to meaningfully observe the conduct of Uganda’s elections at polling sites across the country.” Said the US ambassador Natalie E. Brown in a statement issued on Wednesday 13 Jan.

According to the US embassy, the Electoral Commission provided no explanation for its decision, which it communicated few days before the elections.

However, the country’s election body said it accredited those who fulfilled the requirements and cited several embassies that got accreditation adding those who were not satisfied could re-apply.

Regional bodies that have been allowed to observe the 14 January elections include the East African Community and Intergovernmental Authority for Development.

The chairman of electoral body Justice Simon Mugenyi Byabakama told the media on Wednesday that elections materials were already in all districts of Uganda and would be deployed in polling station before daybreak. But it appears logistical issues will affect today’s polls as some polling stations might open late.

Meanwhile, the heavy deployment of security forces including the military is being seen by some as intimidation, while government assured the population security. The Government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo has called on eligible voters to go and cast the ballot.

So far elections are peaceful, twitted a local journalist working for NTV at around 10 am East African time.

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Malawi: Consternation As COVID 19 Kills Two Ministers
January 12, 2021 | 0 Comments

By James Mwala

Belekanyama was serving as the Minister of Local government
Belekanyama was serving as the Minister of Local government

Malawi has lost two serving cabinet ministers due to Covid19 in less than 24 hours.

Sidik Mia’s and Lingston Belekanyama’s death come as the Southern African nation, has bloated cases in the recent week, with fewer recoveries and more deaths.

Mia served as Transport Minister and Vice President for the Malawi Congress Party.

Belekanyama was serving as the Minister of Local government.

Just last week, another popular broadcaster, Maria Chidzanja Nkhoma also died amid growing infections.

This week, everyday has seen a record cases subsequently, raising fears about the pandemic in the country.

Mia served as Transport Minister and Vice President for the Malawi Congress Party
Mia served as Transport Minister and Vice President for the Malawi Congress Party

Infections rose from the less than a hundred to now 2,744 active cases with deaths standing at 235.

Since the first cases in March 2020, there have been slightly lower than 10 thousand cases.

The latest figures come at a time when returnees from South Africa fled a quarantine camp in protests against a delay in one of their meals.

The whereabouts of most of them are not yet known.

Last week, President Lazarus Chakwera also addressed the nation in a speech he was blamed himself for relaxing on Covid19 measures during the festivities.

Among other things, Chakwera was seen hosting pop star Madonna without wearing a face mask just as was the case when he controversially visited former President Peter Mutharika at his lakeshore home, Mangochi.

Although, government enforced new restrictive measures, life appears to be normal with people running businesses as it were. Schools are currently open and government insists they will not be sealed as the ministry of education is closely monitoring the situation.

President Chakwera has directed a three day national mourning period.
President Chakwera has directed a three day national mourning period.

Last year, former minister Cornelius Mwalwanda also succumbed to Covid19.

The latest situations have since sparked debate on the effectiveness of measures that regimes have been enforcing recently.

President Chakwera has directed a three day national mourning period. 

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Kenya:Chief Justice David Maraga retires aged 70
January 11, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Justice Maraga
Justice Maraga

Kenyan Chief Justice David Kenani Maraga has officially retired.

Mr. Maraga, the 15th Chief Justice (CJ) in the country, announced his official retirement on Monday, January 11, 2021, during the official retirement ceremony held in the Supreme Court in Nairobi.

Article 167 (2) of the Kenyan constitution allows Chief Justice to remain in power for a period not exceeding ten years or after attaining the retirement age of 70 years, whichever comes first.

He assumed office in October 2016 as Dr. Willy Mutunga’s successor, and his exit means the deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu will be the new CJ in an acting capacity until a substantive one is appointed.

In his final remarks, Maraga started by thanking God for the opportunity to serve and for guiding him during his four-year tenure.

He also expressed his gratitude to his family, friends, and entire Kenyans for the unwavering support they accorded him.

“A special Thank You goes to my dear wife and our children, as well as my extended family. Through your prayers and support, you have been to me what Harun was to Moses. I don’t take that for granted. I sincerely thank you. I also want to thank you, the people of Kenya, for your unwavering confidence in and support for me. Your solidarity in moments of great adversity and peril, and your steadfast defence in moments of trials and tribulations, only strengthened my resolve and enabled me to serve you,” said Maraga.

The outgoing CJ asked Kenyans not to tire of supporting judges to ensure the rule of law is upheld in the East African country.

He also urged judges to do what is right and follow the constitution to the latter.

“Today, I leave behind me a strong Judiciary, a professional and enthusiastic corps of Judges and Judicial Officers as well as staff who are deeply committed to the administration of justice, and an increasingly enlightened public whose confidence in and demand for our services grows by the day,” he continued.

In her inaugural speech, Mwilu lauded Maraga for his selfless and exemplary leadership.

She noted her former boss had left behind a great legacy characterized by judicial independence, protecting and entrenching the rule of law.

“Yours has been a life of service characterized by hard work, honesty and integrity, fidelity to the rule of law and the constitution and most importantly obedience and faith in God. When any reflection on the development on our constitutional democracy is undertaken, your name shall be written large,” noted Justice.

Maraga entered into the book of history in 2017 after he nullified presidential results citing irregularities.

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What happens to the African Energy Industry if Western Lenders cut off Loans for Fossil Fuel Projects?
January 6, 2021 | 0 Comments

A little more than a year ago, in November 2019, the European Investment Bank (EIB) declared its intention to phase out funding for fossil fuels

By NJ Ayuk*

NJ Ayuk is Executive Chairman of the , African Energy Chamber
NJ Ayuk is Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber

A little more than a year ago, in November 2019, the European Investment Bank (EIB) declared its intention to phase out funding for fossil fuels. Specifically, it said that it would no longer grant loans for projects involving crude oil, natural gas, and coal as of January 1, 2022 (with a scant few exceptions for gas projects that meet rigorous environmental criteria).

In making this announcement, the EIB made history. It became the first major multi-lateral financial institution to make a public commitment to abandon fossil fuels in the name of combatting climate change.

Its pledge did not go unnoticed. In October 2020, Antonio Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations (UN), called on the world’s publicly funded development banks to follow suit. Less than a month later, all 450 of these institutions — including, incidentally, the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) — agreed to bring their lending policies into line with the Paris climate accord.

The agreement did not include a categorical ban on fossil fuel loans, since some of the lenders involved, such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB), were unwilling to make this commitment. However, a group of European lenders did exactly that — and they were hardly alone in doing so.

You see, public development banks aren’t the only institutions to have made climate commitments. Since the beginning of 2020, a number of major private lenders — including but not limited to giants such as Barclays, HSBC, and Morgan Stanley — have rolled out plans to reach net-zero in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. Others — such as Blackrock, a major asset management firm — have pledged to make more money available for renewable energy projects. And just a few weeks ago, South Africa’s Standard Bank Group joined the chorus, saying it would no longer fund fossil fuel projects unless the sponsors could demonstrate compliance with strict environmental standards.

And it’s not just the banks. Climate considerations are now driving some of the world’s largest oil and gas firms, with multi-national giants such as BP and Royal Dutch/Shell and slightly smaller operators such as Occidental Petroleum, aiming to hit the net-zero mark by 2050. They may also come to drive the U.S. government’s policies, as President Joe Biden has declared climate change one of the first priorities of his administration.

Is This a Tipping Point?

So what next? Should I follow the Bloomberg news agency’s example and talk about 2020 as a tipping point for climate activism? Should I try to extend the story I outlined above into the future and paint this year as the beginning of the end for fossil fuels?

That’s not what I want to do.

That’s not what I want to happen.

Instead, I’ll try to explain why I think the move away from financing fossil fuel projects has the potential to hurt Africa. And I’m going to do it by imagining what might happen if this move continues.

What Happens If Climate Concerns Dominate?

In this scenario, climate concerns come to dictate the lending policies of Western financial institutions. By 2025, all of the world’s publicly funded development banks have joined the EIB in declining to fund fossil fuel projects (even though a select few organizations are still managing to attract small-scale creditors after agreeing to adopt onerous and costly carbon offset arrangements). Private lenders have followed suit, making it known that they will only support renewable energy schemes (and that they prefer to do business with companies and governments that fall in line with their own net-zero pledges).

As far as the leaders of these financial institutions are concerned, they’ve done the right thing. They’ve done their part to uphold the Paris agreement and prevent the disasters caused by climate change. They’ve responded to the concerns of the public (and of their shareholders). And aren’t fossil fuels a risky investment nowadays? After all, demand never quite recovered after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and prices have stayed rather low. Oil and gas are quite out of fashion now, really!

The View from Africa

But the view from Africa is likely to be different.

In Africa, climate considerations and ideological commitments to eliminating GHG emissions may well take a back seat to more urgent questions about how to encourage economic growth and supply basic necessities to the continent’s growing population. In countries with large natural gas reserves such as Mozambique, Tanzania, South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Cameroon, Senegal, and many others, politicians, businessmen and everyday people should ask their western counterparts why they should decline to extract a resource that could be used to produce electricity cheaply and reliably for both households and businesses. They should ask why they should forego the opportunity to develop an industry that creates jobs, both directly and indirectly, and promotes trade with neighboring states that also need energy. They should ask why they are being discouraged from using the least polluting of the fossil fuels and pushed towards renewable energy solutions that are less reliable and more expensive per unit of power generated. They should ask why Africa should be punished for western nations GHG emissions. They should ask what happens to energy poverty. They should ask who will pay reparations to Africa if Africans have to abandon their natural resources.

They may also ask why they should make the same sacrifices as Western countries when they don’t have the same advantages as those countries — including, say, the complement of legacy, gas-fired power plants needed to ensure that electricity supplies continue all day and night, without interruption, even at times when the wind isn’t blowing, and the sun isn’t shining.

Africans should also question the need to leave crude oil in the ground – and they should! For many of them, their oil industry and service companies are a major source of income. And while they may be willing to see that source phased out gradually, they’re not likely to assent to plans for killing them off abruptly.

Also, what about independent African exploration and production companies? What about African oilfield service companies and midstream operators? Shouldn’t they have a say in their future too?

Meanwhile, what about all the time and resources that a number of African leaders have invested in creating policies that encourage international oil companies to invest in their countries, from improved fiscal regimes to transparency laws to win-win local content policies? There’s no question that these leaders were interested in oil revenue, but there is so much more to gain from these policies, from much-needed technology transfers to business and growth opportunities for local entrepreneurs. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, African economies need these opportunities more than ever.

Leaving China As the Only Option

Amidst all these questions, there may be a few determined types who seek to push forward with upstream oil and gas development despite the lack of support from Western banks. Heads of state may try to subsidize gas projects (or provide other forms of support) in an attempt to build up domestic capacities and promote self-sufficiency in energy. Entrepreneurs may reach into their own pockets or work to drum up local support, in the hope of using abundant natural resources to turn out products for which there is demand.

Without access to Western capital, such initiatives are more likely to fail — or, at least, to falter. If so, their backers may very well look for support elsewhere. And they may find it in China, which has been very willing to provide financial and technical assistance for fossil fuel projects in Africa.

Personally, I find the prospect of Beijing becoming the main source of outside financing for African oil, gas, and gas-to-power projects to be concerning. I’m not saying this because I think African states ought to shy away from cooperation with China. I’m saying it because I want them to have as many options as possible. I want them to be ready to work with a wide range of partners, rather than fall into a pattern of not having to look further than satisfying China’s requirements.

And this won’t happen if Western lenders cut off funding for African oil and gas projects as a consequence of their commitment to curbing climate change.

Instead, China will come to have more influence than any other party over the African oil and gas sector. China, which has already put a number of African countries in the position of handing over important assets when they find themselves unable to keep up with loan payments. China, which has a less-than-stellar track record on environmental protection, despite being a signatory to the Paris climate accord.

Time to Make a Case for Oil and Gas

As I’ve already said, this is not the outcome I want.

Instead, I think Africa should have the chance to use its own oil and gas to strengthen itself especially with the coming into force of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement.

I also think Africa should have more than one option when it comes to financing petroleum projects.

Most of all, I think Africa should have the chance to make its own choices without undue pressure from Western institutions that don’t face the same challenges. Africans have to become more visible, more vocal and even more hopeful about the future and the energy sector.

As a result, I think African states ought to push back against the idea that it’s time for Western banks to stop all funding for fossil fuels. I think that African oil and gas producers ought to stand up for themselves and make a case for developing their own resources — particularly for using the least-polluting fossil fuels to deliver as much electricity as possible to as many people as possible.

And the time to make that case is now, while financing for oil and gas is still available.

*SOURCE African Energy Chamber.NJ Ayuk is Executive Chairman, African Energy Chamber.

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Guide to 2021 Political Events in Africa
December 30, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

2020 was a momentous year for Africa on the political front in spite of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic which threatened to halt all political events largely elections. Nothing exemplifies this than the presidential elections in Malawi. Malawi in 2020 became only the second country on the whole continent to reverse a presidential election and call for fresh elections. The country’s judiciary noted widespread electoral malpractices thus calling for fresh elections which were ultimately won by an alliance of opposition candidates.

The decision taken by the Malawi Judiciary was hailed by many political analysts and lovers of African politics citing that it provides a good precedent in a continent widely marred by reports of electoral malpractices. Going into 2021, African will once again witness several elections ranging from local government elections, House of Assembly elections to presidential elections.

Looking forward to these elections, we came up with this 2021 guide to political events in Africa which looks at the most important elections to watch out for in the New Year.

Angola – Local Government Elections – April 2021

Angola is one of Africa’s most centralized states – at least administratively. The country has four levels of government that is national, provincial, municipal and district. However, the last three do not enjoy any autonomy as they are all rigidly controlled by the central government in Luanda. The present system in the country does not permit senior officials of the three lower government levels to be elected by the people. Rather, the central government appoints all senior officials at the three lower levels. The president appoints the 18 provincial governors. They in turn appoint the 164 municipal administrators, who then appoint the 475 administrators of the districts. The party that wins the presidential election will, therefore, hold all political power across all the levels of government.

The country’s latest constitution which came into effect in 2010 recognized the need to ditch this system and introduce a two-tier governance system at local government level which comprise of one, an elected local representative body and two, decentralized local units of the central government. This effectively paved the way for the government to start conducting elections for local government. Since 2010, the central government in the country has been working on the legal and institutional frameworks to start conducting local government elections and the country’s president Joao Lourenco announced that the first municipal elections will be held in 2020.

That however did not come to pass as the government blamed the devastating COVID-19 pandemic as the reason why it was impossible to hold the elections. A new date was set and the elections if all things remain as is will be conducted in April, 2021. Apart from the presidential elections, the municipal elections will serve as a test to prove the popularity of the ruling party both in the urban and rural areas as the country gears up for the presidential elections in a couple of years time.

Benin – Presidential & Local Government Elections – April 2021

There have been a few countries in Africa that could pride themselves as models of democracy on the African continent. One such country is Benin. However, in the recent past, Benin has seen democratic decline. This best exemplified by the country’s fall on the Freedom House democracy rankings which saw Benin downgrading from Free to Partly Free in 2019. According to many political analysts, this has largely been necessitated by the current president Patrice Talon who is seeking a second presidential term. In the past elections, Patrice Talon barred some opposition parties from contesting. In the April 2019 parliamentary elections, only two parties – both of which loyal to Talon contested. In the 2020 local elections, only one opposition party was allowed to contest. In both elections, some key opposition figures were detained without cause.

There are many fears that the political and civil space in Benin will shrink further in 2021 as there is a huge possibility that only Patrice Talon’s name will be on the ballot – this, in essence, meaning a landslide win for the incumbent. This necessitated by a new electoral law adopted in 2019 which stipulates all prospective presidential and vice presidential candidates to be sponsored by 16 members of parliament or mayors. Since the opposition has no representation in parliament and does not hold 16 mayoral offices, it becomes a mammoth task for any aspiring candidate to meet the requirements to run for president.

Burkina Faso – Local Government Elections – May 2021

Burkina Faso conducted its presidential and parliamentary elections just as recent as November 2020. The electoral season, however, isn’t yet over in Burkina Faso as the country gears for another round of elections – this time, the local government elections. The country’s president Roch Marc Christian Kabore won comfortably in the presidential election as he was reelected and many political analysts are predicting another win for his party in the local government elections.

Cape Verde – Presidential & National Assembly Elections – Mar 2021

Cape Verde is widely considered as one of Africa’s most democratic and free nations. Unlike most elections across the continent, Cape Verde elections haven’t attracted much negative attention in terms of electoral malpractices and the like. The same is expected in the upcoming presidential elections scheduled for March, 2021. In the last election, the opposition candidate Mr. Ulisses Correia s Silva of the Movement for Democracy won the election. The incumbent will be seeking reelection and all indicators at the moment put him as the likely candidate to win the upcoming election. After the presidential election, the country using a closed list proportional representation system will elect the 72 members of the National Assembly.

Central African Republic – Presidential (Second Round) – Feb 2021

Central African Republic may conduct the second round of its general election on 14 February 2021. However, the country will only be able to conduct the elections if there is no outright winner (presidential candidate polling more than 50% of the votes cast) in the first round of the general election scheduled for 27 December, 2020. If an outright winner emerges during the first round, then there will be no election in 2021. 17 candidates will be competing in the presidential election. Namely, these include Faustin-Archange Touadera, Anicet-Georges Dologuele, Martin Ziguele, Sylvain Patasse, Mahamat Kamoun, Augustin Agou. Crepin Mboli Goumba, Serge Djorie, Eloi Anguimate, lexandre-Ferdinand Nguendet, Abdoul Karim Meckassoua, Catherine Samba-Panza, Cyriaque Gonda, Nicolas Tiangaye, Kolingba Desire, Reboas Aristide, and Serge Bokassa.

Chad – Presidential & National Assembly/Local Government Elections – Apr and Oct 2021 respectively

Regarded as one of the most authoritarian states in Africa, Chad will be conducting two rounds of elections in 2021. The first election is the presidential race to be held on 10 April 2021. The second election is the National Assembly and Local Government race scheduled for 24 October 2021. For many political analysts, the result of the presidential election is a foregone conclusion as the incumbent Idriss Deby who has been in office since seizing power in a 1990 revolution will once again come out victorious.

In the last presidential election held in 2017, Idriss Deby employed some authoritarian measures to intimidate, scare and hurt his challengers. The main opposition figure Ngarlejy Yorongar was barred from running due to ‘administrative irregularities’. Journalists were prevented from freely conducting their work with TV5Monde, the French broadcaster having its equipment confiscated and the crew detained for filming at a polling station on Election Day. On the day of the election, mobile internet, fixed internet connections and SMS messaging were cut.

 In preparation for the upcoming presidential race, Idriss Deby has already shown that he is eager to use the same intimidating tactics that he used in the 2017 elections. Under the guise of preventing the mass spread of COVID-19 and to prevent misinformation about the pandemic, Idriss Deby has already started systematic bans on gatherings and incarcerating government critics and opposition figures for ‘disturbing public order’. Just like the presidential race, many political analysts believe that the parliamentary race is also a foregone conclusion as Idriss Deby’s party is set to win the majority of seats.

Zambia – Presidential Elections – Aug 2021

In August 2021, Zambians will go to the polls to choose their next leader. The southern African nation is one of the emblems of democracy in a region that has often been marred by high levels of electoral violence – this, however, is not to say Zambia has had its fair share of electoral disputes more so during presidential elections. The biggest indicator of Zambia’s democracy is seen in the fact that the country has seen opposition candidates in the past defeating incumbents something which is very rare in southern Africa as revolutionary parties tend to win often.

The presidential race in Zambia according to many political analysts will largely be decided by the candidates with the most appealing economic blueprints. Zambia has regressed economically over the years, a development which led the country to default on its sovereign debt a couple of years back. The local currency, the kwacha has been losing value against top global currencies and a large proportion of the working population has been complaining over the erosion of disposal income. Currently, the country’s external debt stands at $12 billion which is roughly 80 per cent of the GDP. In the year ending December 2020, projections stated that the economy would shrink by 4.8 per cent.

With the economy looking all gloomy, the racing candidates will be hoping to come up with appealing economic blueprints meant at transforming the country’s economic fortunes. The incumbent President Lungu has already stated that he is going to prioritize negotiations with the IMF if reelected with the intention of seeking a solution to the country’s debt crisis. According to him, the only way forward for the country at the present moment is to address the debt crisis and possibly open more lines for credit with favourable terms. Main opposition leader who is expected to give President Lungu a run for his money Hakainde Hichilema just like in his previous manifesto that he presented towards the 2016 election says his priority is to diversify the economy moving away from copper which has been the country’s biggest export over the years but has recently been affected by low commodity prices. In doing so, Hichilema aims at increasing tax revenue thus putting the country on a better economic pedestal.

Though the presidential election is months away, political analysts predict a close presidential race which will likely be won by the incumbent.

Ethiopia – National (Prime minister) Elections – TBA

Ethiopia had set August 2020 to be the month in which the citizens would choose their next leader. However, that unfortunately failed to take place owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic forced the authorities in Ethiopia to postpone the elections to a later date in 2021. According to many people both within and outside Ethiopia, the incumbent Abiy Ahmed was likely going to come out victorious in the event that the election took place as scheduled owing to his popularity. However, that has all changed owing to the internal conflict in the country’s northern Tigray region which has been badly handled by the government.

While several regions in Ethiopia showed admiration towards Abiy Ahmed’s rule, one political party the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) was becoming increasingly frustrated with Ahmed’s leadership. As such, they saw the looming elections as the perfect time to boot out Abiy Ahmed. However, when the government announced that owing to COVID-19 the elections were to be postponed, the TPLF was angered. In defiance to the stipulations of the federal government, the party went ahead with its regional elections something which in turn angered the federal government. Towards the end of the year, reports emerged that the Tigrayan ruling party had gone on a rampage attacking defense posts and stealing military equipment. The Abiy Ahmed administration response was to send in troops to calm the situation down. However, as soon as the troops arrived on the ground, it became apparent that the only way to deal with the Tigrayan ruling party was to engage in fighting. For several weeks, government troops fought with the Tigrayan ruling party leading many Ethiopians to be displaced from their homes.

While at the present moment the situation seems to have calmed down, analysts say the only permanent solution to the internal conflict is for elections to take place. The elections will most certainly take place in 2021 and Abiy Ahmed will be hoping to win his second term in office. While the internal conflict has certainly affected his image, analysts state that he is still the frontrunner to win considering his party the Prosperity Party merged with other parties including the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), Amhara Democratic Party, Oromo Democratic Party and the Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement.

Uganda – Presidential Election – TBA

One of Africa’s longest serving presidents will be hoping to win another term in 2021. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has been holding the highest office since 1986 and is looking to carry on. However, to do so, he needs to beat a charismatic and youthful presidential challenger in musician Robert ‘Bobi Wine’ Kyagulanyi. The opposition candidate Bobi Wine entered into an alliance with the losing candidate in the previous election Kizza Besigye and the two are hoping that their alliance will pay dividends.

The challenge for Bobi Wine and a plus for the incumbent Yoweri Museveni is how Museveni handled the COVID-19 pandemic. Uganda is one of the few African countries that have managed to contain the pandemic recording a little more than 200 deaths. Museveni has capitalized on the country’s successful handling of the pandemic constantly airing ads and documentaries detailing how Uganda is a global model in the fight against COVID-19. Daily contests are run on radio stations and televisions dishing out goodies to citizens who partake in COVID-19 awareness shows. Museveni and his administration are hoping that the goodies will help with vote counts come election time and if anything is to be taken from past elections, then Museveni is certainly on the right track.

Unlike Museveni, Bobi Wine has taken a different route when it comes to campaign strategy. Firstly, he sought to combine all opposition votes by entering into alliances with other opposition parties – something highly commendable but can be problematic if he wins when it comes to allocating political offices to other alliance members. Apart from this, Bobi Wine has also prioritized exposing Museveni’s authoritative tendencies as his campaign strategy often times telling his supporters the human rights violations that have been committed by Museveni. At his rallies, Museveni has actually played into the hands of Bobi Wine as government troops and authorities have often disrupted proceedings in some instances injuring and even killing the supporters of Bobi Wine. Bobi Wine is also relying on charisma and his energy as a youthful leader to emerge victorious.

Looking at the campaign strategies being employed by Museveni and Bobi Wine, it’s difficult to convincing conclude who will likely come out on top. However, when one considers the incumbent’s hold on state institutions, then the outcome will most likely be in Museveni’s favour. On this front, one just needs to take a look at the 2016 election in which international observers cited allegations of fraud and voting irregularities biased in favour of Museveni but the result stood.

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S. Sudan :President Kiir calls for peace during festive season
December 28, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

President Kiir
President Kiir

Juba – South Sudan President Salva Kiir has called for all South Sudanese to unite and work for peace for the country to solve its immensely challenges.

In his written Christmas message shared by the Office of the President on Friday; president kiir encouraged South Sudanese to pray for God’s guidance and blessing as the country strives to foster deeper understanding to resolve the conflict in the East African’s nation.

“As we welcome the Lord in our hearts, I encourage you to remember the challenges we have faced as a country this year and pray that the Lord’s spirit will continue to nurture and strengthen our unity to stand together as a people despite the these difficulties,” said president Kiir. We also need a collectively pray for God’s guidance and blessings as we strive to Foster deeper understanding in our work to resolve conflict in our country once and for all.”

South Sudan, which gained her independence from Sudan in 2011, is just emerging from the five – year civil conflict that has displaced about four million population internally and externally into neighboring countries, before it has ruined the country’s economy.

This year, floods and desert locusts have further worsened living conditions for millions of South Sudanese.

This has also fueled up by Inter-communal violence in some states, killed hundreds of locals.

Of recently, the Juba government and three UN agencies said up to 6.5 million South Sudanese faced severe acute food insecurity in the last two months.

But this number is expected to increase to 7.24 million between April and July 2021.

According to the International Monetary Fund, the country has massive development needs, from building basic infrastructure to developing education and health services, to building institutions.

These challenges, the IMF says, are difficult to solve for a country that has very limited access to affordable financing.

President Kiir further encouraged South Sudanese to remember the challenges the country has faced this year and urged them to pray for unity.

More so, Kiir further reminded the country of threats posed by the Covid-19 pandemic that continues to destabilize the entire world.

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Buffeted On All Sides, The Buhari Administration Gropes For Space
December 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Richard Mammah*

 President Buhari is assailed by criticisms from all angles in Nigeria
President Buhari is assailed by criticisms from all angles in Nigeria

Though they had spent quite a lot of their political capital attempting to give a good face to the Muhammadu Buhari administration, it is looking quite obvious now that for many of the Northern political elite, the parlous security situation in the region has indeed taken its toll on their faith in the government and they may presently have reached ‘the tipping point’ in terms of their frustration over the seeming inability of the government to address it.

In the past few days and weeks, the din of criticism coming from the region on the failings of the administration on most notably the security turf have been getting louder. From the Sultan of Sokoto to the Northern Elders Forum and on to members of the National Assembly from the region – many of whom belong to the ruling All Progressives Congress alongside the president – the dam has literally been opened and the torrent of criticism is now almost unstoppable.

Very dramatically, the spate of criticism has since percolated over unto the National Assembly which the incumbent administration had reportedly taken a more than casual interest at its emergence in ensuring that it would not have leaders who would rock the boat. But faced with the reality of body bags everywhere, the lawmakers are also now being compelled to be more than yes-men and women to the Presidency. They are asking tough questions, demanding tougher action and also now summoning the President!

Perhaps the most trenchant of the administration’s critics is the Northern Elders Forum, NEF. A body that is composed of academics, technocrats and public servants, serving and retired, NEF in its latest assessment of the administration could almost not find anything to salvage!

In a statement signed by NEF Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, the group lamented the recent beheading of 43 farmers in Borno State and expressed its shock over the remarks reportedly made by the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, that the slaughtered farmers did not receive clearance from security personnel to go to their farms!

‘We have consistently drawn attention to the lack of a political will to fight the Boko Haram insurgency and other threats such as banditry, rustling and kidnapping.

 The Northern Elders Forum has slammed President Buhari for not doing enough to curb rising insecurity.Photo courtesy
The Northern Elders Forum has slammed President Buhari for not doing enough to curb rising insecurity .Photo courtesy

‘We had offered suggestions on how the security infrastructure could be improved and the leadership of the military could be made more effective.

‘Obviously, along with advice and concerns from many other Nigerians, these have made no impression on President Muhammadu Buhari.

‘These particular killings have been greeted by the most insensitive response by spokespersons of the President.

‘The lame excuse that farmers had not sought permission from the military to harvest produce merely expose the misleading claims that our military had secured vast territories from the insurgency.

‘These killings and the reality they expose will make relocation of citizens and resumption of economic activities a lot more difficult to achieve even for a leadership that attaches priority to them, and this administration does not.

‘Elsewhere in many parts of the North, many farming communities have not been allowed by bandits and kidnappers to plant crops. Those who did are being prevented from harvesting by these same criminals.

‘The prospects for famine are real in the face of limited production of food in many of our communities.

‘Under this administration, life has lost its value, and more and more citizens are coming under the influence of criminals.

‘We do not see any evidence of a willingness on the part of President Buhari to honour his oath to provide security over Nigerians.

‘In civilized nations, leaders who fail so spectacularly to provide security will do the honourable thing and resign,’ the statement very tersely expressed.

Other long-term and newly emergent critics of the administration are not left out. The main opposition political formation, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP is enraged and scores of civil society activists have also risen up in arms to call the administration to order. Indeed in some extreme cases, the calls go beyond faulting the administration’s tepid approach to security sector management and go on to asking the President to resign and quit the nation’s top-rank political stage. Predictably, spokespersons for the administration have lampooned these calls.

A tough year Indeed

The distressing security crisis in most notably, the Northern part of Nigeria is not the only point of concern in the country today. Indeed, Nigeria has had a year like not many before it in recent times in terms of the toll that a lot of the untoward developments that have been recorded this far in the year have taken on citizens and residents of the country. It has been the year of the #EndSARS protests by young people who are demanding an end to police brutality in the country. It has also been the year when Nigeria slipped into its second bout of economic recession in the five years that General Muhammadu Buhari has held sway in the country. It has also been the year of the most debilitating COVID-19 pandemic and the associated season of lockdown that followed.

Going further, it has also been the year of the closure of Nigeria’s land borders with its West and Central African neighbours and in the midst of this also, the time of Nigeria’s eventually commencing the process of ratifying the landmark African Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCFTA. The departing year has indeed been a mixed bag, a challenging season whose tough demands for discipline and adjustments can now no longer be faulted. Without putting it in very many words, it is a year that many in Nigeria would not very quickly forget in a hurry.

More than casual solutions

As the Nigerian crisis continues to fester and produce quite convoluted expressions, discussions are going on everywhere as to how best the challenges are to be addressed. In all of the brainstorming, one idea that is gaining massive traction is the call for a comprehensive restructuring of the country.

While there is no consensus yet on the exact shape that the exercise should take, some of the component elements that have been raised this far in the discussions include suggestions for the introduction of a six-zone structure, the implementation of a regime of fiscal federalism that incorporates the principle of resource control, and the reorganization of the policing framework of the country to now formally allow for the introduction of state and regional police formations that would more frontally assist the Nigeria Police Force in the countrywide resolution of security threats and incidents.

What does Buhari want?

In the midst of all the hoopla going on in the country currently, commentators say that the entire season of discontent is being further fuelled by the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari may not be responding as vibrantly as the people would want him to.

For many of his critics, the administration’s continuing to keep the embattled service chiefs in office and its failure to respond to cries of business players and residents of closed border communities continue to sustain a negative image for it. This has equally not been helped by the clearly not very empathetic tone used by senior administration officials when they come out to the public domain to clarify actions taken by the administration.

There is the equally perplexing turn of events which came to the fore with the tepid management of the #EndSARS protests and the police now formally moving to not only delegitimise protests but to get the courts to quash the ongoing work of the judicial panels of inquiry that had been put up this far. While the Inspector General of Police, IGP has since disassociated the force from the suit and now taken steps to discontinue it, the claim by Police Spokesman, DCP Frank Mba that the Force Legal Officer whose office reportedly initiated the process has been queried over his role in the entire saga raises further questions as to how decisions of such a weighty nature could have been taken in the first place and effected without due clearance by the IGP or even by the President himself. So who is in charge?

It may very well be some of these acts of chicanery that continue to upset many of the young people of Nigeria who have now begun to mobilise on twitter once again for a resumption of the shelved #EndSARS protests.

Across the country also, polity watchers are raising questions as to what should be done at this time to address the many political, economic and security challenges in the land going forward.

People hold banners as they demonstrate on the street to protest against police brutality in Lagos, Nigeria, Thursday Oct. 15, 2020. Protests against Nigeria's police continued to rock the country for the eighth straight day Thursday as demonstrators marched through the streets of major cities, blocking traffic and disrupting business. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
People hold banners as they demonstrate on the street to protest against police brutality in Lagos, Nigeria, Thursday Oct. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

Says Izuchukwu Ahuchaogu:

‘I think the Government should stop borrowing to pay senators and funding their expensive lifestyles. With what we saw in 2020, it’s obvious that the older generation has not gotten what it take to move the country forward. We now need more young people in government; they understand more how the 21st century works.

The journalist and commentator adds a caveat:

‘Not young people from the class of the sons and daughters of our politicians but young people who have groomed themselves through reading and proper learning, as without this we don’t expect to see any real change. It will keep taking us back if we have someone like Buhari as president in the future again. Nothing will change’

For Maurice Okoro, an educationist, public affairs commentator and reading promoter, some of the required adjustments he would want to see at the moment would include the immediate opening of the nation’s land borders, the sacking of the current service chiefs, the restructuring of the country, undertaking a probe of the Buhari administration and the resignation of the President and the Federal Executive Council. Clearly, Nigerians are simply in no mood to take hostages!

*Culled from December Issue of PAV Magazine

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Africa Remains The Land Of Promise For Billions of People-Dr Christopher Fomunyoh
December 21, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

 In the midst of all the challenges, it was not all dark and gloomy for Africa, says Dr Fomunyoh

In the midst of all the challenges, it was not all dark and gloomy for Africa, says Dr Fomunyoh

Africa remains the land of promise for billions of people and we owe it to posterity not to destroy or squander what the Lord and nature have graciously put in stock for us, says Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, Senior Associate for Africa at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, NDI. In an interview to review the year in Africa, Dr Fomunyoh says Africa must play to its strength.

“We are the youngest continent on the face of the globe, we have the most youthful and resilient population, the most diversity and untapped resources and wealth; and if we don’t value all of these assets, the rest of the world will continue to turn us a blind eye.  We must respect our own lives and our own people for no one else will do so in our place,” says Fomunyoh.

Fielding questions on major socio-economic and political developments that defined the year in Africa, Dr Fomunyoh opines that in the midst of all the challenges, it is not all dark and gloomy for the continent.

Thanks for accepting this interview to review the year in Africa with PAV and we would like to start with COVID 19, what assessment do you make of the African response to the pandemic?

To a large extent, Africa has been luckier than other continents in the sense that our worst fears and the cataclysmic projections about likely deaths across the continent have not materialized.  Yet we must acknowledge that, like on every continent, the COVID 19 pandemic has had disastrous consequences in loss of lives and disruption of economic and political activity. As of this interview, based on statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), for the continent’s 1.4 billion inhabitants, we have had approximately 1.4 million Coronavirus cases and approximately 33,400 COVID-19 related deaths.  That’s far less than other continents, but it’s still regrettable and heartbreaking.  We must remain vigilant and respectful of preventive measures such as mask wearing, social distancing and other health measures.  We must not lower our guard, especially because the public health, social and economic infrastructures of most of our countries are not robust enough to withstand all the shocks of this pandemic.

From people like Archbishop Kleda in Cameroon with his herbal cure, to President Rajoelina of Madagascar touting the merits of COVID Organics as a cure, may we get your take on these efforts from Africans to be proactive in seeking solutions and instead of waiting for others to bring solutions for them?

We cannot discount that our rich flora and the unique species of medicinal plants that our continent possesses can boost immune systems and contribute to other healing therapies for coronavirus and other ailments.  The difficulties we face for such a global pandemic are in being able to scale up and sustain production on a national level and maintain quality control over therapies like the ones you mention.

What impact did the pandemic have on politics and democratic progress on Africa which you are well versed with?

The overall impact of the Coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic on African politics has been very negative, as it has made it extremely difficult for citizens to exercise their rights and continue their advocacy for political space and good governance.  We saw that in a country such as Burundi, the government pushed through presidential elections in the heat of the crisis, and then the former Head of State who had been campaigning vigorously through that period lost his life from COVID-19 complications.  Eswatini (former Swaziland) just lost its prime minister to the pandemic.  Ethiopia was forced to postpone its elections because of the pandemic, and the inability to find consensus on the matter then led to a political crisis between the central government and leaders of one of the country’s regions – Tigray – that has now convulged into a full-blown armed conflict with thousands of casualties and lots of refugees and internally displaced persons.  In other countries such as Uganda and Guinea Conakry, regimes with autocratic tendencies are using the excuse of the pandemic to further clamp down on citizens’ rights and various freedoms, hence aggressively shrinking political space, and that is so shameful!

 With the youngest continent on the face of the globe, the most youthful and resilient population, the most diversity and untapped resources and wealth, if we do not value these assets, the rest of the world would not, says Fomunyoh

With the youngest continent on the face of the globe, the most youthful and resilient population, the most diversity and untapped resources and wealth, if we do not value these assets, the rest of the world would not, says Fomunyoh

In Malawi, we saw a court overturn the results of Presidential elections won by an incumbent and ordered for a rerun won by the opposition, can you put some context on this and what lessons Africa could learn from this?

Malawi turned out to be a beautiful story in the midst of otherwise dark clouds.  We must thank the justices of the Supreme Court of Malawi for their courage and independence in applying the law.  We also must salute the tenacity and peaceful commitment of political parties and civil society organizations which, on finding weaknesses in the previous elections, sought legal redress instead of resorting to violence as we’ve seen in some countries.  There’s something unique about Malawi as its people have faced several challenges in the path of the country’s democratic transition but have always risen to meet and surpass these obstacles.  I remember the 1993 referendum on multipartism, and various instances during which even the Malawian Defense Forces sided with citizens for political pluralism and good governance.  Lots of lessons to learn, and surely much that the rest of us Africans should be grateful to the Malawians for.

We also did notice the resurgence of the disturbing trend of leaders especially in French speaking Africa changing term limits to remain in power with Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire as key examples, what accounts for this setback for democracy and what needs to be done to avoid this becoming the new normal for African countries?

Despite the positive experiences of countries such as Senegal and Niger Republic, the alternation of political power and renewal of political leadership remain constant challenges in Francophone Africa. To date, only Benin, Mali and Senegal have seen multiple peaceful transitions from one elected president to the next at the end of two terms – and Senegal only after former President Wade was defeated as he ran for a third term.  Other countries have taken two steps forward and multiple steps backward, hence giving the impression of very fragile or yet uncompleted transitions.  As many of the Francophone countries are located in West Africa, the regional body (the Economic Community of West African states – ECOWAS) has in the past played an important role in upholding democratic norms in the region, and around 2015 came close to amending its protocol on governance to provide specific protections of presidential term limits. However, those efforts deserve to be reinforced to avoid further backsliding.

Today, many ask why should people trust the opposition when leaders such as Professor Alpha Conde in Guinea who fought for democratic reforms most of his adult life, and even Alassane Ouattara in Cote d’Ivoire, get to power only to perpetuate and excel in the same undemocratic practices they vowed to fight?

That’s a very valid concern, and I believe pro-democracy advocates and civil society, as well as development partners should be urging these leaders to think about their legacies and how they think they will be judged by history.  Africa today yearns for leaders that can emulate the examples of South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, or Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Botswana’s Festus Mogae, Tanzania’s Jakaya Kikwete and others that made their countries and the continent proud when they handed over power peacefully after serving their terms in office.

You were in Ghana for the 2020 elections where President Nana Akufo Addo was proclaimed winner, but the opposition is crying foul, how did the elections go from your perspective?

In fact, although in the past 20 years, Ghana has always experienced very close and competitive elections, the 2020 polls seem to be the closest both for the presidency and the parliament. Ghana’s two main parties — the National Patriotic Party (NPP), and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) — are both quite solid and do start every election with a substantial base of support.  As per the official results of the Electoral Commission, the next parliament will be divided right down the middle and will require a lot of tact and parliamentary agility and collaboration to get elected officials on both sides to work together.  With regards to the presidential race, the two main candidates and their respective parties set up their own data centers where they collected results from polling stations to track those officially announced by the Electoral Commission. I’m therefore hopeful that once they clean up their numbers, they will come to the same conclusion as the Commission.  I’m very confident that both presidential candidates are men of peace and committed democrats who mean well for Ghana and the continent of Africa.  They will not allow Ghana to go down the path of other countries that have experienced violence in the post-election period.

What lessons do you think other African countries can learn from Ghanaians?

Many lessons indeed: For example, that regular peaceful elections can be the norm in Africa.  By holding its elections on schedule every four years, and also taking steps to engage in electoral reforms after every exercise, Ghana is proving that all that comes out of African elections is not doom and opacity, and Ghanaians should be commended for that.  There’s open political space in Ghana that allows civil society and media to independently monitor the polls without any incumbrances, to the point where a coalition of civic groups (CODEO) now conducts parallel vote tabulations as a permanent fixture in the process since 2008.  Ghana also has strong and effective political parties that make it easy to gain citizen input into the policy formulation process and to run issue-based campaigns.  I hope that Ghanaians will share freely of these experiences as they exchange views and compare notes with other Africans.

Dr Fomunyoh with President Issoufou of Niger whose country is cited today as one of the success stories in Francophone Africa in terms of democratic progress

Dr Fomunyoh with President Issoufou of Niger whose country is cited today as one of the success stories in Francophone Africa in terms of democratic progress

What do you make of the EndSARS in Nigeria, with a myriad of problems across the continent, is there something that other African countries could learn or draw from that?

In my opinion, the ENDSARS movement in Nigeria was a spontaneous demonstration of how citizen dissatisfaction with government performance can erupt in unexpected ways.  It all started as a protest against police brutality, but then other grievances popped up in ways that the Nigerian government may not have expected.  A couple of lessons stand out for me, including the fact that police brutality and violence is unacceptable and must be stopped, and governments must put in place mechanisms to listen to citizen responses to their performance.  I am pleased that commissions are being set up in various states across Nigeria to look into matters of social justice and policing, and that Nigerian youth and civic leaders are having a seat at the table to make their voices count and their views heard.

May we get your take on the Building Bridges Initiative in Kenya where fierce political rivals are trying to chart a new political discourse and path?

That too is getting extremely heated and polarizing, and we can only wish that Kenyans, who have gone through similar experiences with past constitutional debates and reviews, are reminded to do the right thing for their people and the country.

In Cameroon, the Anglophone crisis continues to rage on with no end in sight, at this point in time, what do you suggest as a way forward to a lasting solution?

It is incredibly sad and revolting to see what began as a citizen’s petition regarding legitimate rights and grievances morphed into a crisis and now a full-blown armed conflict with its daily dose of killings and atrocities.  As I have said since 2016, when the crisis first broke, a military solution is the worst approach to settling grievances that are long embedded in historical facts and missteps.  The only solution is for genuine negotiations among all parties, and with third party facilitation.  So much death, damage and destruction have befallen the English-speaking people of former Southern Cameroons.  With now thousands of deaths, over 70,000 refugees in neighboring Nigeria, over 800,000 internally displaced and over 4.2 million people at risk of famine, everything must be done to bring the conflict to an end.  The international community and friends of Cameroon must do more to help us bring an end to the war and address the genuine grievances of the afflicted populations.

Despite the huge toll on people in the North West and South West Regions, the international community has remained so indifferent, why is the international community turning a blind eye to the crisis in Cameroon?

Some countries within the international community have made multiple declarations on the conflict, but their admonitions have fallen on deaf ears.  Even the last session of the United Nation Security Council meeting on December 9, 2020, discussed Cameroon; however, by now, it should be clear to everyone that simple declarations and statements alone will not suffice.  People are being killed and innocent lives lost daily in the North West and South West regions.  We are in the 21st century, and world leaders should not sit by idly or passively while these atrocities continue with absolute impunity.

President Biya has been largely absent from the scene, and no one seems to know exactly who is in charge; how important has his absence been as an impediment to a peaceful resolution of the conflict?

To many descendants of Southern Cameroons, Paul Biya has become a huge part of the problem, and a lot has been documented about how his government’s mismanagement of the crisis has exacerbated it.  When governing a country in conflict or crisis, leaders are known to exert themselves tirelessly in search for peace – in the Cameroon case we don’t see Biya doing that.  It’s difficult to say who is giving the orders today, but individuals must know that, ultimately, they will be held accountable for their roles in the massacres and atrocities.

As the succession battle plays out behind the scenes in Cameroon, there are some who have suggested that a President from the English-speaking regions of the country could be one of the confidence building measures, do you agree?

That was the spirit of the Federation that existed at reunification from 1961 – 1972.  At the time, there was an understanding as two equal entities the positions of president and vice president could alternate between leaders from the two cultural and linguistic entities that formed the Federal Republic of Cameroon.  Unfortunately, that too was abrogated by Francophone leaders who began a process of over centralization of power and attempted assimilation of the Anglophones.  At the fast rate of today’s deterioration, I am fearful that if the conflict is not brought to an end swiftly, it’ll go past the point where simple elite bargains will be sufficient or credible enough to bring peace and harmony.

And a word on your own political ambitions, if you are called upon by Cameroonians to answer the call for a new leadership in the country, is that something you are willing to consider?

The challenges at hand demand that we all shelf our personal ambitions until we can get our people out of the total mess and sense of distress and hopelessness in which they find themselves.  The situation is heartbreaking and depressing, it is extremely difficult to project into the future while surrounded by the current dark clouds that risk annihilating a whole generation of our people.

The year in Africa also saw the passing of big personalities from former Ghanaian President Jerry Rawlings, to President Nkurunziza of Burundi, South African iconic Lawyer George Bizos, Manu Dibango and any word from you for these departed Africans?

Indeed, 2020 has been a very difficult year at multiple levels.  I knew President Jerry J. Rawlings personally, and had the pleasure on many occasions to visit with him in Accra, and to work closely with him on the African Statemen’s Initiative which was a gathering of former African Heads of State that were very active in humanitarian and other good causes across the continent.  His sheer presence and personality, his positive energy and big vision for Africa are unmatchable.  We will all miss him, just as his fellow country men and women of Ghana would.  Manu Dibango was also a class act of a legend – the world-renowned self-made man whose leadership in music and culture were unrivaled.  He too was an African legend and an ambassador for the continent.  It’s still very difficult to imagine that ‘Grand Manu’ is gone to his final resting place.  May the souls of these departed African leaders rest in perfect peace and their memories remain a blessing.

On Cameroon, Dr Fomunyoh says the only solution is for genuine negotiations among all parties, and with third party facilitation.

On Cameroon, Dr Fomunyoh says the only solution is for genuine negotiations among all parties, and with third party facilitation.

As we move into 2021, what will the agenda for the NDI look like with regards to its engagement with Africa?

NDI and its various partner organizations are committed to working to reverse some of the backsliding that we discussed earlier. For example, we are looking at providing multiple platforms for Africans to foster discussions on how to safeguard and consolidate the progress that has been made in some countries while drawing lessons from those successes to address shortcomings in other countries.  For example, we are gladly joining various African experts, advocacy groups and civil society organizations in what we hope will be a continent-wide conversation on constitutional term limits and the rule of law as tenets of democratic governance.  It is important to curb the resurgence of ‘life presidents’, something that the continent worked so hard to dismantle in the early 1990s, but that seems to be resurfacing in a number of countries.  In that endeavor, we take comfort in knowing that of the continent’s population of 1.4 billion people, more than 75 percent are youth 35 years or younger, a vast majority of whom aspire to have a strong say in the politics and public policy of their respective countries, and to be governed justly and democratically.

We end the interview with your wish for Africa in 2021, what will you like to see for the continent?

The new year wish for Africa 2021, is that we give our young men and women the opportunities to lead.  Our continent must play to its strength — we are the youngest continent on the face of the globe, we have the most youthful and resilient population, the most diversity and untapped resources and wealth; and if we don’t value all of these assets, the rest of the world will continue to turn us a blind eye.  We must respect our own lives and our own people for no one else will do so in our place.  The continent still remains the land of promise for billions of people, and we owe it to posterity not to destroy or squander what the Lord and nature have graciously put in stock for us.

*Culled from December Issue of PAV Magazine

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Africa must risk capital for its youth, Adesina urges
December 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

Africa must leverage investment to unleash the potential and ingenuity of its youth, its most important asset, African development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina said at a Conference of Montreal fireside chat event.

The three-day virtual event was organized by the international economic forum of the Americas, under the theme, a sustainable recovery for people and planet. During the fireside chat, Adesina engaged in discussion with Inger Andersen, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the UNEP.  Jean Lebel, President of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) moderated the discussion, which covered three areas: the current state of affairs with respect to COVID-19 and climate change, stimulus policies and recovery, and the role of the private sector in terms of recovery.

“Climate change is an existential crisis,” Andersen said, and one that the planet must face together. The four largest economies account for 55% of emissions, Andersen pointed out, adding that the brunt of the impact will fall on African countries as well as delta and low-lying small economies around the world.   “Any recovery has to have a degree of solidarity with it,” she said.

Adesina reiterated that climate change posed a grave threat to Africans. “ “We have to grow differently, he said. We have to have growth that is climate resilient. Adaptation must be at the top of the agenda. The risk of actually dying from hunger is higher than the risk of dying from Covid-19.”

He noted the Bank’s commitment to mobilize $25 billion for climate finance by 2025 as well as a number of Bank initiatives that are addressing  climate adaptation, such as TAAT, which has provided Sudanese farmers access to heat tolerant maize and farmers in Zimbabwe, Malawi and other southern African countries.  “The other way that one can grow back in a way that is climate resilient is by actually providing the countries with facilities that will allow them to insure themselves against exogenous climate shocks,” including the Bank’s ADRIFI program.

Moving away from a linear economy and investing in nature’s infrastructure offered part of the solution, Andersen said. “Companies that jump into circularity, SDG 12, sustainable consumption and production, companies that do that, will save money, resources will be more circular, they will leapfrog, they will have a market edge, and they would have a lesser need for resource inputs. We’re seeing it in some sectors. Plastics, textiles, fashion, and food.”

The issue of inequality ran through the discussion.

Adesina admitted that the pandemic had worsened inequality in many spheres, education, rural versus urban, and the differences between the genders in terms of access to education and to finance. “You cannot grow economies without focusing on women. Women run Africa. Most of them are in the informal sector. They lack access to finance. There’s a $49 billion financing gap between them and men. That’s why the Bank launched a $5 billion initiative called Affirmative Finance Action For Women in Africa (AFAWA), so we can close that particular inequality.”

The Conference of Montreal, which runs from 14-17 December, is an event of the International Economic Forum of the America. The theme of the 2020 edition is Bridging a Disconnected World.

*AfDB

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Uhuru meets US command General Stephen Townsend
December 15, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

President Uhuru Kenyatta holds talks with the Commander of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) Gen. Stephen Townsend at State House, Nairobi, on December 15, 2020. PHOTO / PSCU

President Uhuru Kenyatta holds talks with the Commander of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) Gen. Stephen Townsend at State House, Nairobi, on December 15, 2020. PHOTO / PSCU

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday held talks with Gen. Stephen Townsend , Commander of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM).

The meeting took place in the State House in Nairobi, and the duo discussed military cooperation between Kenyan and American forces.

During the meeting, Kenya’s Chief of Defence Forces, Robert Kibochi, and the US ambassador to Kenya, Kyle McCarter, were also present.

The meeting came a few weeks after the outgoing US President Donald Trump ordered 700 American troops to leave Somalia latest January 15 next week.

However, the AFRICOM said it would continue to support peace restoration in Somalia.

Africa Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), a regional peacekeeping mission operated by the African Union with the United Nations Security Council’s approval, has made significant progress in flushing Al-Shabaab rebels who had taken the country hostage.

AMISOM was founded in 2007. It is composed of troops drawn from Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Kenya, and Ethiopia.

It is headed by the AMISOM Force Commander, Lieutenant Gen. Jim Beesigye Owoyesigire.

 

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African Development Bank’s Akinwumi Adesina, three others win Academy of Public Health’s 2020 top Distinguished Fellowship Award
December 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

The Academy of Public Health, the flagship body of the West African Institute of Public Health, has named African Development Bank Group President Akinwumi Adesina and three other eminent persons as winners of its 2020 Distinguished Fellowship Award.

Adesina, World Health Organisation (WHO)’s Tedros Ghebreyesus, Leith Greenslade of JustActions and Winnie Byanyima of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, were nominated by young public health professionals across Africa for their demonstrated leadership in working to ensure equity, better health and wellbeing for all.

The four have been recognized for their style of transformative leadership which inspires emerging young leaders in public health to strive to make a difference in their work, the Academy said in a statement at the weekend.

“Dr. Akinwumi Adesina of the African Development Bank was particularly recognized for his action leadership in quickly moving the AfDB to provide the financial bulwark to the African Union as well as some of its member states to help curb Africa’s COVID-19 pandemic. He was also noted for engendering thought leadership through the AfDB to shape actions in the COVID and post COVID era for Africa’s economies and health systems.”

The Distinguished Fellowship Award is the highest fellowship rank in the “Roll of Fellows “of the Academy, leading the Roll of Fellows for their exceptional leadership and service to humanity in making a difference in the lives of people and inspiring young leaders to also excel in their public health work.”

Ghebreyesus won for leading the WHO to provide an equity-focused COVID-19 response that leaves no one behind, including his approaches towards eliminating “vaccine nationalism” in the wake of the pandemic, while Greenslade was recognized for leading a global awareness on childhood pneumonia, leveraging on public-private and philanthropic partnerships.  Byanyima was chosen for her “unwavering” work to ensure that HIV/AIDS key populations impacted by COVID-19 are not forgotten.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a ceremony to honor the recipients will be held in 2021, the Academy said, adding that the recipients were being notified of their recognition and date for a virtual investiture.

“I am greatly honored to be selected to receive the Distinguished Fellowship of the West African Academy of Public Health together with Dr. Tedros, Winnie Byanyima and Leith Greenslade! Africa and the rest of the world will overcome this pandemic against all odds”, Adesina said.

The West African Institute of Public Health is the leading regional non-state health development organization working in enabling environment, professional training and education, research standards, consulting and advisory services. The Institute is a membership-based body that focuses on building a strong network of highly skilled and competent public health practitioners. It is also the keeper of the regional charter of public health.

*AfDB

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Kenya more damaged by COVID-19 second wave than other African nations
December 12, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Kenya’s Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe

Kenya is suffering more financial and emotional stress from the COVID-19 pandemic than other African nations, according to a survey by GeoPoll that found the country reporting the most widespread income cuts and distress of any of six African nations polled in November.
 
The survey in Kenya, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, DRC, Mozambique and South Africa found 43 per cent of 3,000 respondents reporting their emotional wellbeing had deteriorated during 2020. But a full three quarters of respondents in Nairobi said their emotional health was worse than last year, with most citing a surge in financial pressure as the main cause.
 
For, while incomes have fallen nearly everywhere, both between March and June, and by more still since June, more people have been affected by severe cuts in earnings in Kenya than in the other nations. Around 52 per cent of the respondents across all six nations reported a large drop in earnings since June, but 64 per cent of respondents in Kenya suffered the same.
 
“South Africa had a lockdown early in the pandemic, but measures there have since eased, and the other nations polled have had fewer long-lasting restrictions. Only Kenya has had extensive restrictive measures throughout, remaining under curfew for now eight months, and delivering economic cuts that have caused a parallel deterioration in respondents’ emotional wellbeing,” said Roxana Elliott, VP of Marketing for GeoPoll. 
 
This has led to a far greater degree of disruption to normal routines. Across all six countries, 50 per cent of respondents reported their routines had been changed a lot by the pandemic, but, in Kenya, 66 per cent of respondents reported considerable changes to routines, with only 6 per cent saying their routines had not changed at all.
 
Kenyans are also more gloomy, as an election year approaches, about the amount of time it will take before they start to see any improvement in their financial situation, with 56 per cent expecting it to take over six months, and 35 per cent over a year.
 
In the same vein, they are the most bearish about the country’s economic outlook, with 44 per cent expecting the economy to improve over the next year compared to 40 per cent expecting it to deteriorate. This is much more downbeat than South Africans, who reported the next most negative outlook, and a long way from the ebullience of Nigeria, where 56 per cent believe the economy will improve over the next year, and only 25 per cent that it will get worse.
 
“The prolonged disruption of routines in Kenya, combined with a larger second wave of infections than seen in many other countries, and a greater economic impact, have brought a general level of distress and anxiety to the national psyche that is reflecting across people’s attitudes and decisions,” said Roxana.
 
Yet, hope may be in sight: more Kenyans are poised to take up any available vaccination than the average for the six nations, with 47 per cent saying they will definitely get a vaccination as quickly as possible, and another 21 per cent saying they probably will.
  
 
GeoPoll is the pioneer in providing remote, mobile-based research solutions throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America. GeoPoll combines a robust, multi-modal technology platform with a large database of respondents, direct connectivity to mobile network operators, and a team of expert researchers in order to gather valuable data in more than 80 countries around the globe. Working with partners including international development organizations, local NGOs, and global brands, GeoPoll facilitates projects that measure vital indicators around the world.

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Ghana 2020: Opposition cries foul as Incumbent Akufo Addo is proclaimed winner
December 10, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jessica Ahedor

A big win for President Akufo Addo who will be serving hi second term.

The Electoral Commissioner of Ghana, Jean Mensa has finally declared the incumbent Nana Akufo Addo as winner  the Presidential elections amidst controversies over what the main opposition , National Democratic Congress ,NDC termed  “cooked figures” in favor of the ruling party. 

Announcing the result at the Commission’s headquarters in Accra, the electoral commissioner said the incumbent President Nana Akufo-Addo polled a total of 6,730,413, representing 51.595% while John Mahama garnered 6, 214, 889 representing 47.366% in the 8th election in the 4th Republic that had a list of 12 candidates on the ballot.

The third position is Ghana Union Movement (GUM), with 105,565 representing 0.85%. Convention People’s Party (CPP) came fourth with 12,215 (0.093%), followed by Ghana Freedom Party who polled 5,575, representing 0.042%. Great Consolidated Popular Party is next with 3,574 (0.02%), People’s National Convention with 10,887 representing 0.083%; Progressive People’s Party, 6,848 (0.052%), National Democratic Party, 6,612, (0.050%) and taking the last position is Alfred Kwame Asiedu Walker, an independent candidate, 9,703 (0.074%).

The Electoral Commission also indicated that these results were without those from the Techiman South constituency – contested by the opposition party that raised a red flag of a suspected fraud. But she says even if the entire results from the said constituency was added to that of Mr. John Mahama, he would still be behind as far as the percentage margin required for winning this year’s election.

Controversies prior to the announcement

The two major parties, – New Patriotic Party and the National Democratic Congress has been taking turns to announced their collated figures from the respective representatives across the 16 regions of the country, proclaiming victory and well as debunking each other’s purported figures.

The NDC had on three occasions claimed victory and cautioned that any attempt by the EC to massage the figures to turn their eventual win into a defeat would come with “serious consequences”. The former President John Mahama who addressed the third press conference on December 8 2020, said the party “would resist any attempt to subvert the will of the people”.

Mr. Mahama motioned and accused the President of resorting to undemocratic means to steal the will of the people. “Some of what is happening is unacceptable and Nana Akufo-Addo continues to show credentials that are very undemocratic. You cannot use the military to try to overturn some of the results in constituencies that we have won and, so, we would resist any attempt to subvert the sovereign will of the people. The right thing must be done.

“We’ve collated our results and we thank the Ghanaian people for the confidence they have in us and we will give further details later … and our people should remain calm as we wait for the final verdict but we are happy that Ghanaians have voted for change”, he maintained.

Few hours to the declaration of the results, some party faithful of the main opposition party NDC beseeched the headquarters of the EC singing and chanting holding placards with inscriptions that reads we voted for peace, do the needful and save Ghana, we voted change among others.

The NPP on the other hand also saw its party supporters gathering at the premises of the party’s office awaiting the declaration of the outcome of the elections.

Therefore, the EU observer mission’s summery made these comments

The 2020 elections were organized in an efficient and transparent manner, and voters participated freely. The elections were competitive, and contestants could campaign without hindrance. A few isolated violent incidents occurred, and numerous stakeholders expressed deep apprehensions about the possible use of vigilante groups by political parties. Unregulated political finance, misuse of state resources and numerous instances of vote-buying resulted in an unlevel playing field.

Ghana’s vibrant and diverse media sector provided voters with sufficient information on both major competing parties and their candidates. However, state media favoured the ruling party and its presidential candidate who received extensive coverage at government inaugurations. The main opposition party frequently expressed a lack of confidence in the Electoral Commission, accusing it of partisanship and criticising the timing of the new voter registration exercise, so close to elections and during a pandemic.

However, the process was inclusive and resulted in a high number of registered voters, and the quality of the register was positively tested on election day.

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Turning Blind Eye to Human Rights Violations, Corruption Hurts Africans Today and Tomorrow and the Oil and Gas Industry
December 7, 2020 | 0 Comments

By NJ Ayuk*

The recovery of the continent’s oil and gas sector requires the full cooperation of government and industry stakeholders to work together on lasting and impactful reform.

Nigeria has been attracting the world’s attention in recent months for all the wrong reasons.

Nigerians have taken to the streets to protest police brutality after social media users spread accounts of an unarmed youth being shot and killed by a police officer with the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The protests quickly grew, from their epicenter in Lagos, into a nationwide plea to end government corruption and widespread human rights abuses.

Violent police responses have only worsened the situation: At least 69 people have died across the country since protests began in October.

Calls to #EndSARS on Twitter and other social media streams are emboldening more and more citizens to demand government action. As Ayo Sogunro, a prominent Nigerian author and human rights lawyer put it, “People want some kind of systemic reform that would not just address police brutality in the present, but would also ensure that it is possible in the future.”

Police brutality is not new, and SARS has been involved in countless other examples of human rights violations — but in the past, no one was held accountable for such incidents. Today, thanks to technology and social media, the problem cannot be ignored any longer. President Muhammadu Buhari has responded with promises to dissolve the special forces, and the world will be watching to see if he follows through.

Unfortunately, the violence on the streets of Nigeria only represents one example of human rights violations taking place across Africa, from mass displacements to abductions to terrorist attacks. At the same time, government failures to address these atrocities — along with systemic corruption in many countries at the local and national levels — impact millions of Africans.

These practices must come to an immediate halt, first and foremost because they are horribly wrong.

What’s more, on top of the devastating impact that violence and corruption have on lives, on families, and on communities, they also jeopardize our opportunities to harness our natural resources to their full potential. In a free-market society, international energy companies will choose to operate elsewhere if corruption and human rights violations make a country too expensive and too risky for operations. That will result in missed opportunities that African countries cannot afford to lose. Opportunities to strategically harness our petroleum resources to grow our economies and bring about a better, safer quality of life for Africans. Opportunities to minimize energy poverty. And opportunities to lay a strong foundation for a successful energy transition.

To build a better future for Africans, we cannot be lackadaisical about addressing corruption, violence, and unacceptable treatment of men, women, and children. In addition to being wrong on every front, the devastation these activities cause today also rob Africans of a better future.

Five Million Euro Smear Advocacy, Hired Guns on Black Lives are not Human Rights and Anti-Corruption campaigners.

As a student at the University of Maryland, I was proud of my association with Amnesty international on campus and became a card carrying liberal. As the President of my law school’s student government, I decided to go to Darfur, Sudan to work with the United Nations on Human Rights and rule of law issues. Human Rights are important, and we must defend our liberty and promote justice.

We must all have a commitment to good governance and ending corruption in our continent. We must also avoid using this issue to attack the integrity of hard-working Africans and their officials. The mere accusation of an African of corruption can be career ending in the energy sector and to my greatest dismay, western companies know it and they have no hesitation branding Africans as corrupt.

Last week, Centurion Law Group accepted to litigate against corrupt Spanish Police Commissioner now in Jail, Jose Manuel Villarejo whom according to the Spanish government and its prosecutors, solicited and received 5 000 000 euros to spy, manufacture, photoshop and push for a smear campaign against Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, his teenage children, and many African businesses.

The corrupt Jose Villarejo hired Delfin Mocache Massoko the founder of Equatorial Guinea’s blog Diaro Rombe, both with a history of anti-Semitism, set up on Joint venture for their smear campaign. These two twins of deception in search for credibility, then hired OCCRP with a clear intent of publishing the fruits from a poisonous tree into mainstream outlets like Le Monde in France and El Pais in Spain. We can do better this. Too many black lives at risk for these kind of games and it will be interesting to know how much each of these parties received from Jose Villarejo Diaro Rombe Joint Venture.

If you talk about Human Rights and corruption, then you make the poster boy of your campaign a serial plagiarizer Delfin Mocache Massoko and a convicted corrupt cop Jose Villarejo that manufactures evidence, how can anyone trust the fruits of a poisonous tree. This corrupt cop Jose Villarejo has done an amazing job in convincing everyone in Spain as the government indictment claims that he is a lying, perjuring, genocidal racist, and he has testified willfully false in many cases against black and Jewish officials, black and Jewish businesses, black immigrants, and high ranking officials.

I want to apologize to Africans, jews and the people of Equatorial Guinea for the actions for Mr Delfin Mocache Massoko. His ego, anti-Semitism and love for money betrays our African spirit of Ubuntu. To team up with Jose Villarejo in his spy expedition against Mr Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima is outlandish, unfortunate and unwarranted. This is not the human rights activism we deserve and certainly not the corruption advocates that we want.

We Cannot Continue This Lose-Lose Cycle

In many cases, human rights violations and Africa’s ongoing struggle with systemic corruption go hand-in-hand. I agree with the managing director of the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa, Anton du Plessis, who has written that corruption is the most neglected human rights violation of our time.

“It fuels injustice, inequality and depravation, and is a major catalyst for migration and terrorism,” du Plessis wrote in 2016. “In Africa, the social and political consequences of corruption rob nations of resources and potential, and drive inequality, resentment and radicalization.”

In fact, the UN Economic Commission for Africa has reported that the continent loses $50 billion a year to illicit financial outflows.

As du Plessis wrote, “Corruption discourages donors and destroys investor confidence, strangling development, progress and prosperity.”

And it makes it all the harder for African countries to create a better future for their people.

Staying Competitive in a New Post-Pandemic Reality

When Standard Chartered surveyed American and European CFOs and other senior finance leaders earlier this year about potential growth markets to enter, only 13% listed Africa as one of their top three choices, and a measly 2% said Africa was their first choice.

As Standard Chartered Vice Chairman, Americas, Jeremy Amias noted in an opinion piece about the survey, the vast natural resources in Africa and abundant natural resources tend to be overshadowed by concerns about instability — at least in the eyes of foreign companies and investors.

“Africa also has a reputation as somewhere it is difficult to do business – indeed, only two African markets, Mauritius and Rwanda, currently feature in the Top 50 in the World Bank’s 2020 Ease of Doing Business rankings (although it is worth recognising that no Latin American nations feature in this group at all),” Amias wrote.

This is a particularly bad time to be perceived as an overly risky environment. If we want international oil companies to continue operating and investing in Africa — and we do — we need to consider their unique challenges and motivations.

COVID-19 has caused a dramatic plunge in demand for energy. As a result, many producers worldwide are feeling the hurt. When the pandemic-induced crash in demand, coupled with the Saudi-Russian price war, pushed us into “negative oil” territory this past spring — with producers essentially paying buyers to take oil off their hands —a number of multinational oil and gas companies began struggling to stay in business. Capital expenditures plummeted. Exploration projects went on hold. Months later, the industry is still in survival mode. And when companies do resume exploration and production operations, they’re going to be looking for locations where they stand to make a profit. They’ll seek out countries that do not pose unreasonable risks and where their investments will not make them complicit in human rights violations. It’s up to us to ensure that companies find what they’re looking for in Africa. The recovery of the continent’s oil and gas sector requires the full cooperation of government and industry stakeholders to work together on lasting and impactful reform.

Strong, straightforward leadership must establish and enforce legislation that protects human rights.

We recently made progress on that front when the African Union established the African Court on Human and People’s Rights, which adds an enforcement arm to the continent’s human rights institutions. But there is still a great deal of work to do. As Halidou Ouédraogo, head of the Union Interafricaine des Droits de l’Homme (UIDH), a network of non-governmental human rights organizations in 50 African countries, told African Renewal Magazine, African judges are often reluctant (or unable) to rule against their governments. The judges may depend on ruling parties for their positions — and in some cases, face arrest or assault for challenging their government’s actions. If judges face those obstacles, imagine how difficult it is for citizens, or even communities, to speak up or seek justice.

We must continue working to protect — and empower — Africans. And we can find examples to follow. Namibia, for instance, has an ombudsman’s office authorized to investigate human rights complaints. It is not perfect, and far too many Namibians remain unaware of their rights or lack the financial means to pursue justice in court. But it is encouraging to see Namibia’s non-governmental Legal Assistance Centre working to address this through awareness programs and volunteer efforts to expand public access to the courts.

Your People Are Watching

At the same time, African governments must strive to be transparent and work to end corruption in all forms, from the exploitation of workers to bribery to fraud. The more transparent a country’s government is, the more attractive the country is to international oil companies. Investors are drawn to the security and stability that comes with such transparency. Countries governed transparently are typically less prone to violence and corruption, as leaders are beholden to the people who can see whether their actions and their words align.

Transparency reform also must include the extractives sector and oil money management. African governments should follow guidance from groups such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative to establish best practices. Ultimately, a country’s natural resources belong to its citizens. Candidly showing how revenues make their way through the government and how they benefit the public goes a long way in fostering trust and acceptance of the operators. Rather than being wary and disdainful, an informed citizenry is more apt to support its leadership. Instead of feeling defensive and protective, a community is more likely to welcome drilling operations when it believes it, too, will ultimately benefit from the success of the extractions.

Ultimately, we must achieve what #EndSARS protestors in Nigeria are asking for — but on a much larger scale. African leaders must implement reforms that not only address human rights violations and corruption, but also ensure that they are not possible in the future.

Only then can we protect our people and communities. And only then will we be in a position to fully reap the benefits of a strategically managed oil and gas industry.

*African Energy Chamber

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Kenya cautions foreign donors against meddling in its affairs
December 5, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

President Uhuru Kenyatta

It would be best if you were not telling us how to run our affairs, President Uhuru Kenya warned the unnamed donors.

Speaking in Nairobi during the official commissioning of G47 Ugatuzi towers that will host county government offices on Friday, December 4, 2020, the head of state reminded the alleged donors interfering with Kenya’ affairs that the East African nation has its owners and it should not be dictated on how to carry out its errands.

“Please, I ask you to refrain from interfering in or telling us or trying to direct us in which way we should go.”

“You must always remember that Kenya has its own eyes and its own eyes are 50 million Kenyans,” Uhuru said.

Uhuru told off the said donors to solve the problems bedeviling their countries instead of focusing on Kenya’s issues.

“Do not interfere because we shall not allow for you to dictate to us which direction to be taken; that should be up to Kenyans,” he added.

However, he appreciated the donors and development partners for their continuous support to help Kenya achieve its development goals.

He further asked them to join the country in supporting her endeavors.

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SPLM-IO’s committed, working towards sustainable peace in South Sudan– Dr. Machar
December 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Dr. Riek Machar

Juba – The leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO), Dr. Riek Machar, says his group is committed to working towards building sustainable peace in the restive country.

SPLM-IO is currently holding its first-ever national conference in Juba, the 6th since the movement was formed under the theme, “building and sustaining peace through implementation of the revitalized peace agreement.” The conference runs through December 5, 2020.

The SPLM-IO was formed in April 2014 after a political disagreement among members of the ruling SPLM party led to the 2013 civil war.

Over 500 delegates comprising of politicians, military officers, and other representatives gathered in Juba for a five-day national conference of the SPLM-IO to deliberate on ways to “build and sustain peace through the implementation of the 2018 revitalized peace agreement”.

In his remarks, Dr. Machar, who is also the first vice president, stated the main opposition party is committed to silencing the guns.

“While SPLM/A IO remain steadfast and committed to the implementation of the agreement in letter and spirit, we expect the same commitment from our peace partner so that we can better manage together the challenges impeding the implementation process,” Machar said.

“The parties to the agreement are currently engaged in the process of implementation of R-ARCSS with the overarching objectives of achieving sustainable peace, security and transition democracy,” he added.

Former rebel leader also acknowledged the slow implementation of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan RARCSS and called on peace partners to jointly work to implement the agreement.

Dr. Machar cited some of the challenges includes limited resources, lack of political will, lack of political space, economic crises, Covid-19, unprecedented floods, widespread inter and intra-communal violence, political and administrative vacuum in states, violations of the agreement, and the hold-out groups.

Machar also said the agreement offers the best opportunity for the country to end civil wars and political instability as well as offer an opportunity for reconciliation, healing, and development.

 “On the implementation of R-ARCSS; establishment of a fund for the implementation of the agreement and to be independently managed, direct allocation of a fixed amount from the oil revenue for the fund and call for a donor conference to support the implementation,” Machar said. “Hold parties accountable for actions of defectors that join them, accelerate graduation of the Necessary Unified Forces and immediately commence phase 2 of the unification of forces, ensure the timely provision of the logistics to cantonment and training centers.”

Kiir’s side on ceasefire violations 

Dr. Machar further accused the president Kiir’s side of engaging in a series of ceasefire violations and creating a stalemate in the security sector reforms.

He believes President Kiir’s party is not discharging enough political will to implement parts of the revitalized peace deal, adding the SSPDF has been instigating and provoking violence in some parts of the country.

“We hold the SSPDF responsible for violations…of permanent ceasefire and cessation of hostilities in number of places namely, Maiwut and Maban counties in Upper Nile state, Wau County in Western Bahr El Ghazal state, Tombura County in Western Equatoria state, lately in Kajo-keji of central Equatoria state,” said Machar.

His comments comes follow last week’s report by the UN Panel of Experts on South Sudan that the political momentum has eroded after President Salva Kiir locked the opposition out of the government’s decision-making process.

According to the experts, this has contributed to political and security disputes within the peace presidency, stalling implementation of the 2018 peace agreement.

Dr. Machar revealed that consultations have not been happening as expected.

“In line of violations of the agreement, appointment without consultations, non-dissolution of ITGoNU and national legislatures, we see these as a violation,” Machar said. “These violations are clear demonstration of lack of political will in commitment to the implementation of transitional security arrangement.”

However, in response, the Kiir’s group says the president has the right to make appointments –where necessary.

The revitalized peace deal states that the new unity government is founded on the premise that there shall be collegial collaboration in decision-making and continuous consultations within the Presidency, to ensure effective governance during the transitional period.

It’s already two year on but the fragile peace deal is yet to end the bloodshed and put the world youngest nation into the path of democracy.

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Egypt, South Sudan leaders talk Nile water, regional stability
December 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir in Juba, South Sudan. Photo  Egyptian Presidency via Reuters.

Juba — Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, in his first visit to South Sudan said he and President Salva Kiir discussed regional security and the usage of Nile waters, including areas of trade and investment.

Abdel Fattah Al- Sisi, President of Arab Republic of Egypt, who arrived in Juba, capital of South Sudan on Saturday, was received by President Salva Kiir. His visit also comes at the time, the Federal Republic of Ethiopia is in political turmoil.

The two leaders broadly discussed matters relating to water resources management, especially Egyptian readiness to use their expertise to help mitigate the impact of current floods, both in short and medium terms through dredging water sources and water harvesting methods such as dams construction.

The statement after Saturday’s meeting made no mention of the deadly conflict inside neighboring Ethiopia, which is also in a dispute with Egypt over a massive dam that Addis Ababa is nearing completion on the Blue Nile.

Both Egyptian president El – Sisi and president Kiir agreed on the need to enhance mutual cooperation in areas of education, healthcare, media, energy, trade and investment, and infrastructural connectivity especially with respect to road and rail links. 

President Salva Kiir said, South Sudan government strongly feels Egyptian leadership and expertise in these areas can make a difference in our developmental priorities. 

El-Sisi in the statement said he and Kiir discussed maximizing the usage of Nile waters, which he said should be a source of hope and national development. 

El-Sisi’s administrations described Ethiopia’s dam project as an existential threat to his country, which relies on the Nile for most of its water supply.

Ethiopia earlier says the dam is needed for development and poverty alleviation in the region.

However, talks among Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan on the dam have been challenging as issues including the mediation of any disputes have yet to be agreed on.

Thought, South Sudan is a part of Nile water, is yet to be involved in the talks over the share of the Nile water.

Observers want South Sudan to be represented in any discussion over the Nile River

The region has been watching to see whether Egypt would try to take advantage of Ethiopia’s current instability as Ethiopia’s clashes with the country’s heavily armed northern Tigray region for almost a month now.

Egypt’s president also said he’s asking the international community to lift sanctions on South Sudan, which is slowly recovering from five years of civil war that killed nearly 400,000 people. The implementation of a peace deal is behind schedule.

South Sudan’s president also stressed the importance of dialogue in dealing with issues affecting regional stability.

“South Sudan’s firm commitment to regional solidarity and responsibility of Africans to seek African solutions to African problems,” said president Kiir.

President El – Sisi also expressed his readiness to Support the implementation of the fragile Revitalized Peace agreement, where required. 

Egyptian president also pledged the Egyptian full support in alleviating some of the challenges facing South Sudan such as the impact of falling oil prices, COVID-19 pandemic and recent devastating flood across the Country. 

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Commonwealth to observe Ghanaian elections
December 1, 2020 | 0 Comments
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki observing the Special Voting process in Ayawasi East on 4 December 2016.Photo Credit Commonwealth

The Commonwealth is deploying a team to observe the general election in Ghana scheduled for 7 December.

Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, constituted the group following an invitation from the Electoral Commission of Ghana. Members of the group include politicians, diplomats and experts in law, human rights, gender and election administration from across the Commonwealth.

An assessment has been conducted in compliance with international COVID-19 safety guidelines ahead of the group’s deployment.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “The Commonwealth has a long and proud history of  standing in solidarity with citizens as they prepare to choose their leaders and in supporting efforts to strengthen democracy and the rule of law.

“This team will assess the overall conduct of the process and make appropriate recommendations for the future strengthening of the electoral process in Ghana – even as the world battles the pandemic.”

The Group’s mandate is to observe and consider factors affecting the credibility of the electoral process as a whole.  It will assess whether the elections have been conducted in accordance with the standards for democratic elections to which Ghana has committed, with reference to national legislation and relevant regional, Commonwealth and international commitments.

The Commonwealth Observer Group will consider the pre-election environment and election preparations. Members will be deployed to various parts of the country where they will observe the voting, vote-counting and results procedures.

The Group will submit its final report for consideration by the Commonwealth Secretary-General, and she will in turn share it with the Government of Ghana and stakeholders.

The Group will be supported by Commonwealth Secretariat staff led by Prof. Luis Franceschi, Senior Director of the Governance and Peace Directorate.

*Commonwealth

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Youssou N’Dour, Graca Machel, Akinwumi Adesina discuss building back better after COVID-19 at Civil Society Forum
November 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

  • Harness civil society’s “incredible potential to accelerate social change at scale” – Graça Machel
  • “Africa’s time is now. This should not only be words or prayers. It is within reach. I’m sure (the African Development Bank) will be able to meet this challenge” – Youssou N’Dour
  • “We will work much harder, collectively and in unison, to accelerate the impact of our work” – Akinwumi Adesina

Artists should be on the frontline of Africa’s development, given their pivotal role as communicators, Youssou N’Dour, musician, businessman and former Culture and Tourism Minister of Senegal, said at the opening of the 2020 African Development Bank Civil Society Forum.

The two-day CSO Forum kicked off on Thursday under the theme “Engaging Civil Society in building back better after COVID-19”.

The virtual event opened with remarks from senior Bank officials, including Wambui Gichuri, Acting Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Vanessa Moungar, Director for Gender, Women and Civil Society, and President Akinwumi Adesina, with Graça Machel, Chair of the Graça Machel Trust, representing the civil society.

Adesina later engaged in a conversation with Machel and N’Dour.

“The role of civil society in monitoring interventions is crucial and important to ensure they are effectively deployed to reach the poor and vulnerable, who are most affected,” Adesina said, adding that the Bank would step up its efforts in the area.

Adesina said the critical issue was not the amount of funds that are provided by the Bank and others, but who they reach, adding that transparency and accountability are also critical.

Machel noted the Bank’s strong track record of working with governments and the private sector. She appealed for increased Bank funding to directly support civil society efforts to address the impact of the pandemic on the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach families in our societies.

“These organisations stepped up, often with limited resources and in very dangerous conditions, to save lives and restore dignity to communities in the midst of this pandemic,” she said. “Resources for organisations working with women, children and those living with disabilities and in the rural areas are desperately needed.”

Machel noted that channeling resources to strengthen the civil society sector as it responds to the challenges that COVID-19 has unearthed, would harness their “incredible potential to accelerate social change at scale”. Supporting women in particular would help to reap long-term dividends, she said.

For N’Dour, artists should be on the frontline of Africa’s development, given their pivotal role as communicators.

“Even in a place where there is oil, if there is no culture to explain this to the people, there is war…We should be able to say after (President Adesina’s) term that culture has been involved in the development of Africa,” he said, speaking in French via an interpreter.

“Culture is profitable and I’m available to provide my assistance, to work with my staff to create other champions in Africa, to take the African Development Bank’s work to another level,” N’Dour said.

The forum will explore cost-effective strategies and reflect on best practices to enhance collaboration between the Bank and civil society, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The second day of the forum will be dedicated to sessions led by civil society organizations, which will provide a space to develop innovative grassroots ideas.

*AfDB

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Africans “know and understand what development ought to look like,” says President Uhuru Kenyatta
November 25, 2020 | 0 Comments

President Uhuru Kenyatta

Kenyatta noted that on a continent of around 1.3 billion Africans with a median age of around 20 years, there is a very tangible underlying sense of urgency when it comes to expectations of government.

President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta urged African governments to put their citizens at the centre of delivering service during Africa Delivery Exchange 2020, a virtual event that opened Tuesday.

In remarks to open the two-day workshop, Kenyatta noted that on a continent of around 1.3 billion Africans with a median age of around 20 years, there is a very tangible underlying sense of urgency when it comes to expectations of government. 

“Our people know and understand what development ought to look like and what benefits it should bring to their social-economic wellbeing. Therefore, any failure to quickly address the missing middle within the development paradigm could create a deficiency of trust between the electorate and those in positions of leadership,” Kenyatta said. 

The event was jointly hosted by Kenya President’s Delivery Unit, the African Development Bank and the Tony Blair Institute (TBI) for Global Change.

Kenyatta recognized the Bank and the TBI’s support in advancing Kenya’s development, thanking African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina and Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who joined him on a panel. 

“Without the lessons from TBI, we would have had to reinvent the wheel, but instead, we started with a tried and tested model, and we have improved on it to reflect our unique circumstances here in Kenya.”    

In his remarks, Blair observed that leadership demands have changed and that governments are expected to do far more than they ever were traditionally. “They’ve got to deliver services for their people; they’ve got to put in place the right environment for their economy, they’ve got to deal with all sorts of huge crises, of which COVID-19 is just the latest example. All of these require extraordinary focus, clarity and decisionmaking.”

To meet these delivery expectations, governments must focus on prioritization, policy, personnel and performance management. “Performance management is the most critical one. What’s difficult is that each of these systems you’re trying to change will have interests that often will obstruct. They’ll need areas that need you to go across the whole of government, to get something done in one area of government, they’ll have complicated politics around them.”   

Adesina commended Kenyatta for focusing on ordinary citizens and praised the Kenyan government’s ‘Big Four’ agenda, which prioritizes food security, affordable housing, manufacturing, and affordable healthcare for all, and noting a fifth area in which the country had made great strides. “Mr. President, you’re doing exceptional work on energy. You’re connecting your people all over the country in an amazing way with last mile delivery. If you add in energy, you’d actually have a big five.”

The Bank president set out some delivery lessons: A clear vision; publish delivery expectations to create accountability; establish a culture of accountability; rigorous results measurement; ensure sustainability.

“The Bank is currently developing a new Africa public service delivery index, that will help to rate African countries including sub nationals on the delivery of public services,” he added.  

The COVID-19 pandemic formed a backdrop to the event.

This is not the first pandemic we’ve faced, Adesina said, but it must never happen again that the continent is caught unprepared. “Africa has underinvested massively on healthcare. We need to change and give Africa a quality health care defense system to make sure we have excellent primary health care.” 

“One question is, how do you keep the sense of urgency that you had when dealing with the disease and carry that same sense of urgency and focus into building back better afterward?”

The African Development Bank has formed strategic partnerships with Government Delivery Units in Kenya, Morocco, Tunisia, and is working toward approval of a fourth in Senegal. In January 2019, the Bank led the launch of the African Delivery Units Network to provide a platform for sharing knowledge, experience and expertise among African governments’ delivery units.

The two-day event includes technical sessions and presentations by specialists, including representatives of national and city government, multilateral development institutions and other development partners.

*AfDB

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Mozambique: Finance minister dismisses Chinese asset seizure fears
November 25, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jorge Joaquim


Finance minister Adriano Maleiane

Finance minister Adriano Maleiane has rejected suggestions that China will seize Mozambican public assets if the government defaults on Chinese loans.

Addressing parliament Maleiane said that the fears expressed by opposition party members were groundless.

“There are no indications of this… We have no information that the Chinese government can seize any assets in Mozambique due to defaults”, he said.

He insisted that the debts with China, which he said totalled $2.02bn, had been handled smoothly. $1.97bn of the debt is with China Exim Bank, and has paid for projects such as the Maputo ring road and bridge over the Bay of Maputo.

Maleiane said that he thought these projects would eventually pay for themselves through toll fees.

Venâncio Mondlane, of opposition party Renamo, claimed that it would take 75 years to pay off the bridge debt, and asked if any infrastructure project financed by China had been profitable, but Maleiane did not reply.

Mondlane pointed to alleged cases in which Beijing opted for the seizure of infrastructure by debtor states in Africa and Asia to ensure the settlement of debts.

The Center for Public Integrity (CIP) considered a few days ago that Mozambique’s debt to China was “not very transparent”, demanding that Filipe Nyusi’s government explain how it will manage this burden. The Mozambican NGO also criticized the way in which this money was used by the government, stressing that the debt can be compared to the recent past of hidden debts of the Mozambican state.

Currently, the debt to China is the largest that Mozambique has with a single country, and this debt represents about 20.2 percent of Mozambique’s total external debt, and about 13.2 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

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Mismanagement of funds, Abuse of Position: CAF President Ahmad Ahmad Banned for Five Years
November 23, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

CAF President Ahmad Ahmad. Photo Goal
CAF President Ahmad Ahmad. Photo Goal

The President of the Confederation of African Football, CAF Ahmad Ahmad has been banned from all sporting related activities for the next five years by Football governing body FIFA.

The FIFA ethics committee found “Ahmad had breached his duty of loyalty, offered gifts and other benefits, mismanaged funds and abused his position as the CAF President.”

“The adjudicatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee has found Ahmad Ahmad, the President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and a FIFA Vice-President, guilty of having breached art. 15 (Duty of loyalty), art. 20 (Offering and accepting gifts or other benefits) and art. 25 (Abuse of position) of the 2020 edition of the FIFA Code of Ethics, as well as art. 28 (Misappropriation of funds) of the 2018 edition,” the statement read.

“The investigation into Mr Ahmad’s conduct in his position as CAF President during the period from 2017 to 2019 concerning various CAF-related governance issues, including the organisation and financing of an Umrah pilgrimage to Mecca, his involvement in CAF’s dealings with the sports equipment company Tactical Steel and other activities.”

“In its decision, following an extensive hearing, the adjudicatory chamber ruled that, based on information gathered by the investigatory chamber, Mr Ahmad had breached his duty of loyalty, offered gifts and other benefits, mismanaged funds and abused his position as the CAF President, under the FIFA Code of Ethics.

“Consequently, the adjudicatory chamber found that Mr Ahmad had breached arts 15, 20 and 25 of the current edition of the FIFA Code of Ethics, as well as art. 28 of the 2018 edition, and sanctioned him with a ban from all football-related activity (administrative, sports or any other) at both national and international level for five years. Also, a fine of CHF 200,000 has been imposed on Mr Ahmad.”

Ahmad’s first four-year term was clouded with allegations of financial wrongdoing and misconduct at the Confederation of African Football headquarters in Cairo. He was detained by French authorities in Paris on the eve of the Women’s World Cup for questioning about a CAF equipment deal with a company that appeared to have little connection with soccer.

The Ban for the Malagy comes at a time when he has been seeking re-election as President of CAF. 46 African football Federations had called for Ahmad to seek a second mandate, which he fittingly obliged. The CAF election is scheduled for March 12 in Rabat, Morocco.

A Clear Road for Patrice Motsepe of South Africa?

Patrice Motsepe, chairman of 2016 African club champions Mamelodi Sundowns is seen as the front contender for the CAF Presidency. With Ahmad Ahmad’s ban, the tagline may just be true.

Ahmad’s ban leaves the number of candidates for the Presidency to three; Jacques Anouma of Ivory Coast, Augustine Senghor, the head of the Senegalese Football Federation and Patrice Motsepe of South Africa.

“Motsepe can contest the position since he fulfils the requirements of having been involved in football for the past five years, with the South African having led Pretoria-based Sundowns since 2004, and has received the backing of his federation,” BBC Sports Africa reported.

“Caf must improve its global standing,” said South Africa FA president Danny Jordaan. “He is the most appropriate person we could offer for the leadership of Caf. We do not want any compromise on governance or ethics in football.”

Patrice Motsepe has led former African champions Mamelodi Sundowns since 2004. Picture by BBC Sports Africa
Patrice Motsepe has led former African champions Mamelodi Sundowns since 2004. Picture by BBC Sports Africa

“He has more superior qualities than me,” Pinnick told BBC Sport Africa. “It’s not about me, it’s about African football. If you have someone with superior qualities, you have to learn from him and queue behind him and wait for your time.”

“The key to successful governance starts from the point where the right person or persons are put in the right positions for the right reasons,” said Sierra Leone FA president Isha Johansen. “African football and the African continent need to be on the global platform for the right reasons.”

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US President-Elect Promises to Strengthen US-Africa Relations over Phone Talks with South African President
November 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa - Photo Credit: EWN
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa – Photo Credit: EWN

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa had a telephone conversation with US President-Elect, Joe Biden earlier this week in which the two leaders discussed ways to strengthen US-Africa relations. The two leaders as according to the South African Government News Agency also discussed ways to overcome the novel COVID-19 pandemic which had wrecked havoc both in America and Africa.

The Office of the South African President was the first to relay the news that the country’s leader had just had a telephone conversation with the US President-Elect. On the official site, the Office of the South African President said that the President “is hopeful of a strong partnership between the United States and the African continent in promoting peace and stability in international relations and advancing multilateralism.”

The telephone conversation does not come as a surprise considering that the US President-Elect and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris have identified Africa as a major player in international affairs and in the advancement of multilateralism.

Joe Biden does have a long history with South Africa as he once visited the country during the Apartheid era and denounced the inhuman discriminatory ways that the white ruling minority was practicing against the black majority. Ever since, South Africa has always had a soft spot for Biden as they knew him as a man who demonstrated great commitment in fighting for human rights and dignity for all South Africans.

The South African President Cyril Ramaphosa who is also the Chairperson of the African Union stated that “he looked forward to a strong partnership at a bilateral level and between the United States and the continent of Africa.”

The report by the South African Government News Agency said that Biden and Ramaphosa also discussed ways of overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the report did not outline in explicit terms how the two leaders aim at overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have however expressed optimism that collaborations between the two will bear fruit as Biden from the onset of the pandemic has always urged the US administration to craft robust measures of tackling and eradicating the pandemic in the shortest possible period of time. Biden on numerous occasions has called out the incumbent Donald Trump for taking a lackadaisical approach to tackling the pandemic largely by his stance to refuse wearing masks in public and urging the public to consume unapproved COVID-19 vaccines.

Many African leaders have welcomed Joe Biden’s electoral victory, expressing hope that his win will boost trade and other relations between the continent and the US. However, many experts say Biden faces a mammoth task of strengthening US-Africa relations more so on the economic front considering China’s influence in Africa since the turn of the millennium. The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) became China’s most prominent development initiative after 2000, and in 2009 China not only surpassed the US as Africa’s largest trading partner, but also became the most promising source of funds for African development infrastructure.

When Trump entered into office, he adopted the concept of ‘containment’. Trumps’ Africa strategy not only focused on advancing US economic interest in Africa, but also sought to economically contain China’s impact on the continent. The key focus of the strategy was to contain China’s commercial, security and political influence in Africa, which has been solidified through deepening economic engagement, closer security cooperation and high-profile diplomacy epitomized by the FOCAC. It’s still unclear at the present moment if Joe Biden will follow a similar ‘containment’ path or come up with something new. Regardless of the decision he takes, whats clear is that the infleuce of China in Africa will pose many challenges to his administration.

Biden defeated incumbent Donald Trump in the recent US elections becoming the first former vice president to win the Oval office since George H.W. Bush who won in 1988 after eight years under Ronald Regan.

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Malawi denies claims Bushiri took a ride with President Chakwera
November 16, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jorge Joaquim

Bushiri says he left South Africa for safety reasons

A diplomatic storm is brewing between SA and Malawi after Pastor Shepherd Bushiri absconded this week – at about the same time that Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera jetted into SA for a brief meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Some social media outlets have been setting the narrative that Bushiri, leader of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) Church who has returned home in Malawi contravening his bail conditions was offered a ride on the President’s plane together with his wife, Mary.

Malawi’s Nyasa Times reported that the State House Press Secretary, Brian Banda, on Saturday afternoon described the allegations as false.

He also said Chakwera and his South African counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa, did not discuss the issue of Bushiri during their meeting in Pretoria on Friday.

“The topics of discussion between President Lazarus Chakwera, President Cyril Ramaphosa, and their delegations were highlighted by the two leaders during their joint press briefing,” Banda said.

Bushiri was scheduled to address the media on Saturday afternoon. The media briefing has since been postponed.

Meanwhile, South Africa’s Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola has said they will seek an extradition process for Bushiri.

“Malawi is a signatory of the SADC protocol and other legal instruments on extraditions. We will not hesitate to invoke these provisions and instruments to assist law enforcement agencies to extradite fugitives of justice,” Lamola tweeted on Saturday.

But Bushiri said he and his wife “temporarily” left for Malawi due to safety concerns.

“There have been clear and evident attempts to have myself, my wife and my family killed and despite our several attempts to report to authorities, there has never been state protection,” Bushiri said.

The preacher claimed that he and his wife were being persecuted in South Africa.

The couple was arrested in October on charges of fraud, money laundering and theft worth more than R102 million. They were granted R200 000 bail each last week.

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Moody’s Investor Service affirms African Development Bank’s AAA credit rating
November 14, 2020 | 0 Comments
The AAA rating by Moody’s validates the strength of the Bank’s prudent financial and risk management and strong governance systems even in the face of tough challenges imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, says Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank
The ‘AAA’ rating from Moody’s follows earlier affirmations of the ‘AAA’ rating of the Bank, with stable outlook, by the other leading rating agencies.

Moody’s Investor Service has affirmed the African Development Bank’s AAA credit rating, with a stable outlook.

“The credit profile of African Development Bank (AfDB) (www.AfDB.org) is supported by the bank’s robust capital buffers and superior risk management, which mitigate risks,” Moody’s Investor Service said in an annual credit analysis dated 27 October 2020. 

Moody’s added: “An ample liquidity buffer and unfettered access to international capital markets also support its ability to meet its debt-service obligations. Moreover, the bank has a long track record of being the premier development institution in Africa and benefits from shareholders’ ability and willingness to support its development objectives, exemplified by the significant contributions of highly rated non-regional member countries.”

Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, said: “The AAA rating by Moody’s validates the strength of the Bank’s prudent financial and risk management and strong governance systems even in the face of tough challenges imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic. The extraordinary support of the Bank’s shareholders boosts our capacity to finance African countries. We will continue to manage risks and capital requirements adequately to help African countries to build their economies back better and faster, while assuring economic, health and climate resilience”.

Swazi Tshabalala, Acting Senior Vice President, Vice President for Finance and Chief Finance Officer at the African Development Bank, said: “Thanks to the solid backing of its shareholders and strong financial profile, the African Development Bank is rated triple-A with stable outlook by all the major international rating agencies”.

The ‘AAA’ rating from Moody’s follows earlier affirmations of the ‘AAA’ rating of the Bank, with stable outlook, by the other leading rating agencies, namely Fitch Ratings, Standard and Poor’s Global Ratings and Japan Credit Rating Agency.

*AFDB
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Ghana, African Development Bank Group sign MOU for 2021 Annual Meetings
November 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

  • We promise to champion African excellence and deliver a befitting event. We will leave no stone unturned to ensure that this is a seminal event.” – Kenneth Ofori-Atta
  • I would like to assure you of the Bank’s full commitment and availability to accompany the Government of Ghana on this journey – Vincent O. Nmehielle.

Ghana, the host country of the African Development Bank Group’s 2021 Annual Meetings, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the institution on Friday, marking an important milestone in preparations for the event.

The 56th Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank and the 47th Annual Meeting of the African Development Fund  are scheduled to take place from 24 to 28 May 2021, in Ghana’s capital city, Accra.

Ghanaian Finance Minister Kenneth Ofori-Atta, the current chair of the Bank’s Boards of Governors, signed the MOU on the country’s preparedness to host the event at a ceremony held at the Ministry of Finance office in Accra. Prof. Vincent O. Nmehielle, African Development Bank Group Secretary General, signed on behalf of the Bank Group.

The meeting began with a minute of silence in honour of former Ghanaian president Jerry John Rawlings, who died on Thursday 12 November, with both signatories paying their respects.

In remarks following the signing, Minister Ofori-Atta said he had carefully reviewed the MOU and found it satisfactory. “The signing is yet another indication of our strong commitment to delivering on all the requirements for hosting of the 2021 AGM. As a country, our interest in this event has not diminished. At the highest level, the commitment is visible,” he said.

“We promise to champion African excellence and deliver a befitting event. We will leave no stone unturned to ensure that this is a seminal event.”

The ceremony was witnessed by Finance Ministry officials, a representative of the Bank of Ghana, African Development Bank Acting Country Manager Sebastian Okeke and representatives from the Bank’s headquarters in Abidjan.

Thanking Minister Ofori-Atta for his leadership in the preparations, Prof.  Nmehielle said Ghana had been selected to host the meetings in 2016 during the Annual Meetings in Lusaka, Zambia, following the country’s expression of interest.

The Secretary General said due to the unpredictable evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic, the MOU provided three scenarios for the conduct of the meetings: a full-fledged meeting as per the Bank’s normal practice, limited Annual Meetings, focusing only on statutory matters, and virtual Annual Meetings.

“I am delighted that we are here today to sign the MOU. I would like to assure you of the Bank’s full commitment and availability to accompany the Government of Ghana on this journey,” Prof. Nmehielle said.

While the situation on the ground would determine which scenario would be adopted as they got closer to the event, “it is heartwarming to learn that Ghana is working on preparations for the full-fledged Annual Meetings,” Prof. Nmehielle said.

The Bank Group’s Annual Meetings are the most important annual statutory event, at which the Boards of Governors of the Bank and the African Development Fund meet and review Bank Group activities over the previous year.  

The 2020 Annual Meetings were held virtually for the first time in the Bank’s history, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The highlight of the scaled-back meetings was the election of Bank President Akinwumi Adesina, for a new five-year term.

The meetings usually draw some 3,500 participants, including finance ministers, governors of central banks, policy makers, civil society groups, heads of international organisations and business leaders from the Bank Group’s member states.

Ghana has been a member of the Bank Group since its inception in 1963.

*AFDB

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As the African Energy Chamber sets for litigation, BEAC postpones implication of new Forex Regulation towards 2021.
November 10, 2020 | 0 Comments

As the African Energy Chamber sets for litigation, BEAC postpones implication of new Forex Regulation towards 2021.

  • BEAC postpones the implementation of the Forex Regulation following litigation sought by the African Energy Chamber.
  • The Chamber remains determined in its commitment to seek a fair and just resolution that puts forth the interests of African people, businesses, investors and economic growth.

10 November 2020, Johannesburg, South Africa — The African Energy Chamber (“the Chamber”) which represents nearly every segment of the energy sector, is pleased to announce the extension on the implementation of the BEAC Forex Regulation from January 1st to December 1st 2021. The is based on the decision made by H.E. Abbas Mahamat Tolli, Governor of BEAC, no. 119/GR/2020 to delay the implementation, signed on November 5th 2020

The energy industry and everyday people do believe this is a step in the right direction, however, it is simply not enough.

“While we thank BEAC for listening to the Chamber, businesses, workers and foreign investors, we still believe that these regulations need to be stricken down. Though extended, the regulations as they stand, without amendments, are the most dangerous and Anti -African regulations in the world and cannot be left hanging on people’s heads without being corrected,” said NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber.

One of the core principles of The Economic Community of Central African States is the promotion and strengthening of cooperation in order to achieve collective self-reliance, raise the standard of living for its peoples, increase economic stability and contribute to the progress and development of the sub-region and the African continent as a whole (Art 4 ECCAS Treaty). These Regulations stifle the vision and spirit in which the treaty was signed. 

These regulations violate the very ethos of government bodies, which is to serve the interests of its people and to ensure that any regulations passed do not obstruct economic growth and self-reliance of the people in the CEMAC region.

The Chamber believes that we must continue to fight for the ability of small businesses, everyday people, investors, especially oil and gas companies to hire, invest, grow, succeed and create jobs in Africa as this is required for our post-COVID-19 recovery.

Certain provisions in the BEAC Forex Regulations appear to be anti-fair trade and against the objective of the AfCFTA, an agreement which has been ratified by all CEMAC member states. One of the key objectives of the Agreement is to “create a single market for goods, services, facilitated by movement of persons in order to deepen the economic integration of the African continent,” it states.

Therefore, these regulations are counterproductive as they have diminished the attractiveness of the CEMAC for foreign direct investments and cross border trade.

“It is because of this that the Chamber asserts that it will continue with its intention to litigate against regulations that put extremely deterrent barriers for entry of investors in Gabon, Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, the Central African Republic and Chad. The regulation in itself is in clear contradiction with the spirit of the AfCTA. It is illegal. It should be repealed and replaced with a more pro-growth and pro-jobs regulation which the chamber is willing to provide to BEAC,” Ayuk concluded.

The Chamber believes that this regulation will contribute to the growing challenge of energy poverty, corruption and the increasing role of bureaucrats in business affairs. The question is simple, why add more burdens and barriers?

Businesses, everyday people and people on the front lines need to be protected from this and the Chamber is committed to seeing it through. Our mission here is loud and clear: we are dedicated to being resolute in this provocation.

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Ivory Coast Constitutional Council confirms Ouattara re-election
November 10, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jorge Joaquim

Ivory Coast’s Constitutional Council has formally ratified President Alassane Ouattara’s re-election to a third term after a tense election that was marred by clashes and an opposition boycott.

“Alassane Ouattara is proclaimed elected in the first round,” Council President Mamadou Kone said on Monday in a national broadcast.

Kone added that “no serious irregularities” were noted during the October 31 presidential election, confirming the results that gave the 78-year-old more than 94 percent votes.

Opposition leaders had called on supporters to boycott the electoral process, saying Ouattara’s bid for a third term was unconstitutional. While Ivory Coast has a limit of two presidential terms, Ouattara insists a new constitution in 2016 allows him to run again.

On Saturday, opposition leader and former Prime Minister Pascal Affi N’Guessan was placed under arrest for creating a rival transitional government. Other adversaries to the current president are under investigation for insurrection, with prosecutors pursuing “terrorism” charges against more than a dozen of those who called for an election boycott.

In early March, Ouattara said he would not seek another mandate, seemingly ending months of speculation that he would try to extend his stay beyond the two-term mandates.

However, Ouattara revised his position five months later following the sudden death of his handpicked successor, Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly

Nearly 50 people have been killed in clashes since Ouattara first announced he would run for the third term in August, fuelling fears Ivory Coast could slide into the kind of widespread unrest it suffered after a disputed 2010 vote.

New clashes between rival ethnic communities broke out on Monday in central eastern Daoukro, a stronghold of opposition leader Henri Konan Bedie, officials said. Deadly violence also erupted there in the lead up to the election.

“Inter-community clashes in Daoukro left three dead and 41 wounded on Monday,” local government administrator Solange Aka told AFP news agency.

She said one person had been decapitated and another burned as protesters barricaded roads.

The death toll was confirmed by the president of the regional council Adam Kolia Traore.

Much of the violence over the election involved clashes between local ethnic groups allied with the opposition and Dioula communities seen as close to Ouattara, himself a Muslim from the north.

Opposition protesters and police clashed earlier on Monday in Abidjan’s Yopougon district, where a minibus was set ablaze, an AFP reporter said. Disturbances also broke out in the capital, Yamoussoukro, and in the opposition strongholds of Bouadikro and Bongouanou, residents said.

The high tensions surrounding the vote raised concerns about the continued stability of the world’s top cocoa producer, a country still recovering from months of post-election violence in 2010 and 2011 that killed some 3,000 people.

The United Nations said on Monday that some 3,600 Ivorians have fled to neighbouring Liberia. Hundreds more headed to neighbouring Togo and Ghana.

*Agency reports

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Cote d’Ivoire: Spectre of Civil War Real as Ouattara is illegitimate- Ambassador Youssoufou Joseph Bamba
November 8, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

The elections in Cote d’Ivoire had no validity, says Ambassador Youssoufou Joseph Bamba, Executive Secretary for Foreign Relations of the PDCI-RDA



As President Ouattara rides on with plans for a third term of office after victory in controversial elections, the opposition is warning that the consequences of his actions will be dire for Cote d’Ivoire with repercussions across the sub region.

In the USA on an international offensive to raise awareness on the situation in his country, Ambassador Youssoufou Joseph Bamba, Executive Secretary for Foreign Relations of the PDCI-RDA the leading opposition party of Cote d’Ivoire, says the international community cannot stand idle while Alassane Ouattara pushes the country to another civil war.

Youssoufou Bamba, an Ivorian career diplomat says the National Transitional Council, a grouping of leading opposition parties and figures in Cote d’Ivoire is the only legitimate body that speaks for the country now. Ambassador Youssoufou Bamba says the main mission of the Transitional Council will be to reconcile Ivorians and put in place structures that will facilitate the organization of free and fair elections.

PAV: You are the executive Secretary for Foreign Relations with PDCI-RDA, what brings you to the United States at this time?

Ambassador Youssoufou Bamba: I’ve been here for the last two weeks as part of a campaign of the opposition, advocating against President Ouattara’s third term in office which is illegal. This campaign seeks to prevent the occurrence of a crisis like Ivory Coast has experienced before due to the violations of our fundamental laws by the incumbent President Mr Ouattara. We had extensive consultation with people from the Congress as well as people from the UN. We had hoped the UN will come in the early stage for the sake of prevention. But we have to admit that they did nothing to help prevent the unfortunate situation unfolding in Cote d’Ivoire today.

PAV: In the face of what you described as illegality, did the opposition consider the option of putting up a unified candidate to try and defeat Mr Ouattara at the polls?

Ambassador Youssoufou Bamba: We are a democracy. Democracy means the rule of law. Rule of law means you have to abide by the existing legal rules of your country. Mr Ouattara has violated this constitution which fixed the term limits. The problem of conflicts was deeply rooted to the lack of democracy in our system. You will recall, each election in Ivory Coast since 2000 was marred by problems and that is what is happening across Africa especially the French-speaking countries.

That is why in 2000, it was clearly enshrined in our constitution the principle of term limits. Mr Ouattara had initiated a constitutional reform in 2016 and we could understand why he changed his mind. Of course, we regret the passing away of the former Prime Minister Amadou Gon, but the position is that people will pass on, but our country will still remain. That is what is important. We should secure our democracy and the rule of law from infringement. That is why people rose up and said no to the violation of the constitution. That is the very core of the problem and nothing else. We are not talking about power-sharing; we are not talking about a coalition. We have gone too far in the promotion of democracy and the rule of law to accept to go back again. That is the reason we decided to stand up and say no.

PAV: The opposition parties have announced the creation of a National Transition Council; can you shed light on this and what its mandate will be?

Ambassador Youssoufou Bamba: The mandate is simple. The National Transition Council has been set up because the electoral body has failed, and Mr Ouattara should not have run in the first place. They have failed and there is a vacancy. So, we have to set up an institution which will run the country. And the reason for its existence is to create, set up the commission for the holding of a free, fair, transparent, and peaceful election. The secondary reason will be to clean up the constitution and put in place more credible institutions regarding the electoral commission as well as the constitutional council which will be implementing the laws instead of favouring the person in power.

PAV: We saw  leaders like former President Bedie, Affi Nguessan, Mamadou Koulibaly and others the opposition was announcing the Transition Council, what about others like former President Gbagbo and Guillaume Soro who are out of the country, did you associate them in creating the Council?

Ambassador Youssoufou Bamba: Absolutely. Since the start of the civil disobedience, the opposition and Ivorians have spoken in one unified and loud voice. It is a reflection of the unity of vision and action of the whole opposition. This has continued throughout the setting up of the National Transitional Council because Mr Ouattara does not abide by the law. He has ignored and showed contempt to the rulings of the African Court on Peoples and Human Rights. Mr Gbagbo has clearly and unequivocally said he is with the Ivorian opposition. He will fight for the promotion and the safeguard of our constitution. That is why he is part of that initiative.

Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa, sits in front of Pascal Affi N’Guessan, President of FPI (Ivorian Popular Front) and Former Ivory Coast President Henri Konan Bedie, president of the Democratic Party of Ivory Coast (PDCI), during a meeting with Ivorian opposition coalition parties in Abidjan, Ivory Coast November 2, 2020 . The international community must do more to help Cote d’Ivoire avert another civil war says Ambassador Youssoufou Bamba. REUTERS/ Luc Gnago

PAV: If President Ouattara insists on remaining in power, how will the Transitional Council counter this?

Ambassador Youssoufou Bamba: We are on the side of the law. We are on the side of peace and because of his unconstitutional strides, the country is in trouble. So we are confident, we are on the side of truth. Mr Ouattara is illegitimate right now so the law and the truth will prevail in Ivory Coast. We have no doubt.

PAV: With regards to the situation on the ground, we will like you to shed some light on what is actually going on. There were reports that there were gunshots, and troops surrounding the homes of some opposition leaders. What is the situation in Ivory Coast?

Ambassador Youssoufou Bamba: Yes that is the trademark of Mr Ouattara’s regime. We are in a dictatorship and he goes by intimidation, extrajudicial killings and arbitrary arrests and harassment. Exactly as from yesterday, they have attacked some residence of opposition politicians. We have alerted  the international community to witness what is going on in Ivory Coast which is the violation of all fundamental rights of people. The right to peacefully demonstrate, the freedom of speech and everything is being trampled by this regime. The international community needs to have its say on what is going on in Ivory Coast.

Ambassador Youssoufou Bamba says the National Transition Council is now charged with shaping a new path for Cote d’Ivoire



PAV: How concerned should people be that Ivory Coast may be heading to another civil war?

Ambassador Youssoufou Bamba: That is what we have been saying. The situation is really concerning. Something should be done. The world should be concerned because Ivory Coast is at a crossroad. Many communities used to live peacefully in Ivory Coast but this regime is making communities go against each other. The world should be concerned because there are already inter-community clashes, and this could escalate to civil war spilling over in the sub-region and further destabilizing the ECOWAS area. That is a great matter of concern that should be addressed very swiftly.

PAV: A few minutes ago you were critical of the role of ECOWAS; may we know exactly what you expect from ECOWAS, Regional leaders like Nigeria, AU and the wider international community?

Ambassador Youssoufou Bamba: That is what we said like for instance when the African Court on Human Rights and People gave its ruling, this should be executed by the concerned state (Ivory Coast) but I think ECOWAS and AU and even the UN should have exerted some pressure. ECOWAS has a legal protocol on democracy and good governance. The African Union has the African Charter on democracy, election and good governance. These legal instruments are important as road maps. The issue of Ivory Coast should have been regarded and examined along the lines of the provisions of the legal instruments. It has everything which focuses on the electoral commission, election, do not change the provision before the election, no trampling of the constitution, and others are in those protocols. That is why I am very surprised that they came, saw and left without any concrete action. The election should not have been held because the conditions were not proper for election to be conducted. This election is funny and has no validity whatsoever. That is why the National Transitional Council is required and it is the legitimate institution right now in Ivory Coast as we speak.

PAV: As we wrap up this interview, what should we expect from the National Transitional Council in the days ahead?

Ambassador Youssoufou Bamba: We have to rally all the leaders of the Ivorian society to keep the task of reconciliation and setting the commission for a credible, fair and free, transparent, and peaceful elections.

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U.S Fires Warning Shots on Southern Cameroons Struggle
November 7, 2020 | 0 Comments

-Top Diplomat says his country will not work with any group fueling conflict in NW & SW Regions

By Amos Fofung

We will not work with groups – or attend diaspora-organized events – that include calls for violence or hate speech, says Assistant Secretary Bureau of African Affairs Tibor Nagy

The government of the United States of America has through its Bureau of African Affairs reiterated its stance on the Southern Cameroon question and clearly stating its support for a unified Cameroon.

In a press release dated November 6, 2020, and penned by Assistant Secretary Bureau of African Affairs Tibor Nagy , the US government has called for the promotion of peace and a return to normalcy in the conflict-torn Anglophone regions .

Without mincing word, Tibor Nagy who has been very vocal on the dilapidating humanitarian crisis spurred by the armed conflict between government forces and armed separatist rebels, said the United States will not associate itself, support or better still work with any group fueling conflict in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon.

“We will not work with groups – or attend diaspora-organized events – that include calls for violence or hate speech. The United States supports the territorial integrity of Cameroon and calls for all actors to peacefully address the long-term grievances driving the current conflict in the Northwest and Southwest Regions and to cease exacerbating the hardships experienced by civilians in these regions,” he said”

In what many have term a “warning signal” to those supporting armed conflict and right abuses in Cameroon, the US Assistant Secretary of State did not fail to remind them of their obligation to promote peace and bring an end to the violence brewing in Cameroon.

“The Cameroonian diaspora in the United States can and must play a critical key role to end the violence in Cameroon. As a community, your influence can be felt through public remarks, private conversations, remittances, international conferences, and social media posts. We encourage you to use the power of your voices in a constructive manner to promote peace as you engage with Cameroonians worldwide, the U.S. government, Congress, and on social media,” he added.

Adding his voice to those championing for the resumption of school in the troubled Anglophone region, Tibor Nagy noted that the conflict has brought untold suffering and hardship to the civilians and must be put to an end.

Tibor Nagy (right) with Pan African Visions reporter, Amos Fofung at the US Department of State
Tibor Nagy (right) with Pan African Visions reporter, Amos Fofung at the US Department of State

“The United States government considers the Cameroonian diaspora a critical community that can push for meaningful change in Cameroon to address long-term grievances, support the safety of humanitarian workers, get children back to school safely, and bring an end to the fighting that has led to untold suffering,” he said.

In an earlier exchange with this reporter, the Assistant Secretary of State had expressed his desire for peace to return to Cameroon insisting that the United States remained committed to proffering a long-lasting solution to the Anglophone crisis that has crippled the Central African economic power-house.

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