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IMF should issue special drawing rights as grants to Africa
May 4, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Thomas Boni Yayi*

*Dr Yayi is former President of the Republic of Benin .Photo Credit Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images

Since the start of the Covid-19 health crisis, the global economy has been grounded in one quarter with a likely annual growth forecast of -3% in 2020, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In Europe, taboos are falling. On March 20, 2020, the European Commission announced an unprecedented suspension of budgetary discipline rules. Ongoing negotiations between heads of state and government over a new stimulus package to prevent economic disaster is estimated to be around €$1 trillion. The European Central Bank (ECB), for its part, in its will to do “everything necessary within the framework of its mandate to help the eurozone to overcome this crisis”, announced €$1 billion in massive assets buyouts in the financial markets throughout 2020.

The United States has responded to the economic devastation caused by the coronavirus with the largest economic relief programme in its history, at $3 trillion. At the same time, the US Federal Reserve (The Fed) has indicated its willingness to buy an essentially unlimited amount of public debt – a very aggressive programme of financial instruments buybacks by the end of 2020 of nearly $3 billion.

With regards to economic solutions adapted to Africa, I think there are essentially two challenges which need to be separated: first, that of mobilizing new resources to finance the response to the virus crisis; then the cancellation of Africa’s debt as part of a strategic partnership without undermining the attractiveness of the continent.

Consequently, I suggest that the IMF, in addition to the first aid package already distributed to some African states, should issue Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), to the tune of  €114 billion, which corresponds to the needs of the African continent according to indications provided by the Managing Director of the IMF, Kristalina Georgieva, to enable Africa – whose central banks do not have the same capacity to respond as those of China, the United States or the euro zone – address the negative impact of this health crisis as quickly as possible.

We will either triumph, or perish, together. Therefore, Africa cannot and should not be left on the margins of the various measures supported by central banks in Europe, the Americas or Asia. This IMF assistance, through the issuance of SDRs will be convertible with central banks such as the Fed, the ECB, the Central Bank of Japan and the Central Bank of China, determined to support African states to tackle this COVID-19 crisis.  This support will allow the strengthening of the external assets of African central banks whose capacity in relation to their long-term commitment does not cover more than 4 to 5 months of imports.

The overall needs of the African continent can be assessed on the basis of regional economic communities  and  the  use  of  resources  must  be  done  in  strict  compliance  with  the  good governance prescribed by the African Peer Review Mechanism (MAEP).

These investment requirements relate to the modernisation of hospital infrastructure, precautionary measures, treatment, education and skills’ training of hospital staff, not to mention social protection for citizens, economic recovery, price stability and the reduction of unemployment.

With regards to the cancellation of Africa’s debt, the speed required to manage the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus cannot be hampered by issues that have always aroused the hesitation of the creditor states. While recognizing the correctness of this request and referring to the reluctance of the G20 to stick to the one-year moratoriums on the payment of debt service, I welcome the initiative of the African Union to set up a committee which, in addition to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, would give impetus to Africa’s request for debt cancellation.

In  the  1990s,  Africa  already  benefited  from  the  HIPC  (Heavily  Indebted  Poor  Countries) initiative with the cancellation of bilateral and multilateral debt. This initiative cast doubt on the solvency  of  the  continent.  This  second  request  for  cancellation  would  probably  merit negotiations at three levels: at the level of multilateral institutions, at the level of States and at the level of the private sector.

If this request were to be taken into account, would it not raise some questions at the level of multilateral banks? A cancellation of their receivables will have an impact on their creditworthiness. At the state level, negotiations are possible but it is the same creditors who feed multilateral institutions. The question is whether a country like China, a member of the G20, is prepared to cancel its debt on the continent, which is 40% of Africa’s debt – and about $360 billion. Finally, in the private sector, there is the question of who will reimburse them?

These are obstacles that will take a long time while the treatment of this virus requires speedy action to be taken to contain the human and economic devastation. We will certainly end up with treatment on a case-by-case basis.

In conclusion, I suggest an emergency issuance of Special Drawing Rights for Africa by the IMF, which already involves the main contributors to IMF resources. Only genuinely united and globally coordinated management of this health crisis can save humanity. We are no longer at the stage of making promises. We must stop the mass deaths we witness on a daily basis and revive economic activities.

*Courtesy of Daily Trust.Dr Yayi is former President of the Republic of Benin, former Chairman in Office of West African Economic and Monetary Union, and former President of the African Union-AU

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Kagame says dialogue among Africans cannot be imposed from outside
August 7, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

Presidents Kagame (Center) holding hands with President Nyusi of Mozambique (left) and Ossufo Momade of Renamo

Presidents Kagame (Center) holding hands with President Nyusi of Mozambique (left) and Ossufo Momade of Renamo

President of Rwanda Paul Kagame said that dialogue and inclusion cannot be imposed from outside because that way cannot bear good results.

He was speaking this Tuesday during a Peace and Reconciliation accord  signing ceremony between government of Mozambique and a rebel group Renamo.

The agreement came to end decades of hostility and war between two parties that saw more than million victims.

President Kagame who was among other dignitaries attended the event in Maputo, said this successful agreement shows potentials that lie among Africans themselves.

“This achievement matters to all of us in Africa. It shows that we can find solutions to our problems, no matter how protracted and difficult. Dialogue and inclusion cannot be imposed from outside. And once consensus is reached, it can only be sustained from Within”, he said

It is not the first time that Mozambique had an agreement with Renamo. The agreement was signed in 1992 and led to multi party elections of 1994 in which Renamo participated.

Agreement failed in 2013 when Renamo was accusing government forces to attack its base in central region.

Kagame said though the first agreement didn’t work, there is no loss into trying again.

“For the people of Mozambique, today brings the promise of an end to decades of conflict and uncertainty, and the renewal of national unity and cohesion. Even if previous efforts have not succeeded, it is never a waste to give a shot to peace one more time”, he added

More than five thousands Renamo rebels will be integrated into national Army, Police  others will be reintegrated in society.

Talks between two parties come ahead of general elections in October in which Renamo will participate as a political party.

 

 

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Ghana beyond aid not a slogan; it’s doable – Akufo-Addo
March 7, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Akufo Addo

Akufo Addo

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has boldly stated that the ‘Ghana beyond Aid’ mantra is not just a slogan but meant to propel us into the frame of mind that would quicken our pace of development.

The Ghanaian President delivering a speech during the 61st Independence Day Celebrations at the Black Star Square, stated that Ghana is not a poor country but a country blessed with immense natural resources adding that Ghanaians must be selfless and take advantage of the country’s natural resources to help transform the economy.

According to him, a ‘Ghana beyond Aid’ will not be achieved by merely talking but with the right attitudes and commitment from citizens, doing the right things and the willingness from all to see the country prosper and develop.

“My fellow Ghanaians, ours is a country that is well endowed with many natural resources such as gold, bauxite, diamonds, oil, timber, cocoa, water, fertile land etc. The truth, however, is that the state of our nation does not bear out that we have these natural endowments. Poverty continues to be our lot. We have huge infrastructural deficits.

“Mismanagement, corruption and high fiscal deficits have become the hallmarks of our economy, which we finance through borrowing and foreign aid. It is time to pursue a path to prosperity and self-respect for our nation. A Ghana Beyond Aid is a prosperous and self-confident Ghana that is in charge of its economic destiny. It is not a pie in the sky notion, other countries, including some of our peers at independence have done exactly that. It is doable and we must believe that what others, with less resources, have done, we can do.

“We are not going to achieve the transformation in our economy which is necessary for a Ghana Beyond Aid by just talking about it. We have to DO something about it! As a start, we have to do things differently. Business as usual will not do it. It cannot happen by waving a magic wand. And it cannot be achieved overnight. Indeed, the most rapid cases of economic and social transformation in history, those in South East Asia, generally spanned a period of about 30 years; about a generation. We cannot wait that long; we have wasted enough time already. We have to hurry but we must be realistic.

“To get to a Ghana Beyond Aid, we will have to effectively harness our own resources and creatively and efficiently deploy them for rapid economic and social transformation. This will require hard work, enterprise, creativity, and a consistent fight against corruption in public life. It will also require that we break from a mentality of dependency and adopt a confident can-do spirit, fuelled by love for our dear country, Ghana. We cannot subordinate the common good to build a prosperous nation to the selfish interest of a few.

“Ghana Beyond Aid is meant to be more than a slogan. It is meant to propel us into the frame of mind that would quicken our pace of development. It is meant to change our mindset from one of dependency to one of achieving our destiny. It is meant to put us in charge of our own affairs and make us truly independent.”

 

 

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South Africa: Nuclear Energy Will Enrich SA, Zuma Says
June 25, 2017 | 0 Comments

Photo: Emmelie Callewaert/Wikipedia Nuclear reactors in operation releasing hot steam as a side product (file photo).

Photo: Emmelie Callewaert/Wikipedia
Nuclear reactors in operation releasing hot steam as a side product (file photo).

Nuclear energy will bring profits and dividends to South Africa for thousands of years to come, said President Jacob Zuma in Parliament on Thursday.

He was responding to questions from MPs on government’s plans to continue pursuing a nuclear build programme despite a Western Cape High Court ruling that the process followed by government had been unlawful and unconstitutional.

 Zuma repeated previous statements that government intends on procuring nuclear energy at a pace and scale that the country can afford as part of an energy mix.

He also came out in favour of nuclear energy as an income generator for South Africa. “It will bring a lot of money to the country. In any business there is capital that builds the business and then the business comes to a point where it breaks even,” Zuma said.

He said those who protest against nuclear energy must bear in mind what can be achieved with the nuclear energy generation. “If we have to follow the logic of the protestor, we won’t start any business in South Africa,” Zuma said.

“That is why we support it and are working on it. Those who protest say we want to create bombs with it (nuclear). But it will be used for peace purposes,” Zuma said.

 Zuma also categorically denied that he or any family member has benefited from any nuclear-related transaction.

“I don’t know of any transaction. Nothing, nothing, nothing. I’ll say it now and I’ll say it in future.”

 The President was responding to a comment from DA leader Mmusi Maimane telling Zuma that the truth about nuclear will surface one day.

“Corrupt matters emerge much later,” Maimaine said, citing the Nkandla matter as an example when Zuma was found to have unduly benefited from upgrades to his homestead.

“In the same way as Nkandla the truth about the nuclear deal will also emerge. It will come out.”

He asked Zuma to tell South Africa if he or any member of his family has received any payment related to nuclear procurement from any person, organisation or government agency, “including Russia”, related to nuclear procurement.

Zuma was resolute that he had never been found guilty of any wrongdoing regarding Nkandla.

“Nothing ever found that I was involved (with Nkandla). It was my house that was built. That’s all. You plant things that are not true,” he told Maimane.

*Allafrica/Newswire.Read this report on News24Wire.com.

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Africa: Museveni Weighs-in On U.S-Russia Row, Warms Up to Trump
February 19, 2017 | 0 Comments

Museveni meeting Russia President Putin in Moscow

Museveni meeting Russia President Putin in Moscow

President Museveni has sucked himself into the ongoing verbal rattling between liberals and conservatives over new US President Donald Trump’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, by penning a missive proposing a middle ground in the divisive international politics.

In the statement likely an attempt to endear himself to President Trump, whose policy outlook towards Africa has remained an enigma even after assuming office last month, President Museveni argues that against the backdrop of the widespread gap between the West versus East this is where Mr Trump comes in.

“He [Trump] says: ‘Why do we not examine the possibility of working with Russia against common threats, such as terrorism? The liberals then shout that Mr Trump must be having a secret agenda with Mr Putin,” President Museveni’s missive reads in part. “This is why we could think of looking into the possibility of talking about the Trump Therapy for strategic myopia and recklessness in the West.”

“Why can’t these countries of the West have a just and balanced attitude to the countries of the East that are growing in capability and getting millions of Peoples out of poverty?” he asks.

Almost one month into office, President Trump has been rebuked by the mostly liberal media in the US for his perceived [earlier] connections to Moscow, and this has been interpreted as likely to affect his administration’s bond with Moscow.

At all press conferences he has addressed, Mr Trump has accused the media of being biased towards his infant administration and publishing materials of his alleged involvement with Moscow being premised on fake intelligence fanned by certain individuals in Washington. President Trump’s first pick for national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned this week on Tuesday out of pressure after several exposés in the media that he lied about his earlier engagements with the Russian ambassador to the US.

President Museveni in the missive, extensively delved into West versus East divide, illustrating how Africa comes into the picture…

See missive below:

I have been either closely following or actively involved in World and African political events for the last 56 years. In those 56 years, I have noticed many happenings, behaviours, etc. One of the groups that I have observed with interest are the Western “Liberals”, “Leftists”, etc. In particular, I have noticed the confusion, ingratitude and, therefore, danger of these groups. Liberals are supposed to be people who are not conservative and hardliners in economic, political and social issues. Leftists are supposed to be progressive as far as the same issues are concerned. In order to keep this piece brief, I will not go into the history and details of Western Liberalism and Leftism. That should be for another day.

Suffice it to say that the freedom fighters from Africa, who have been fighting colonialism, neo-colonialism, slave trade and marginalization for the last 500 years, would have counted the Westerns Liberals and Leftists among our automatic allies because these should be people that should be fighting for freedom and justice for all peoples, including the formerly Colonized Peoples.

Instead, we notice confusion, ingratitude and, therefore, danger from these liberals and leftists. Let us start with the confusion. During the US campaign, I noticed President Trump using the words: “convergence rather than divergence”, while handling international affairs. That is exactly what the Western Liberals and Leftists should have been looking for. Instead, we would spend endless hours arguing with the Western Liberals on matters on which we cannot have convergence bearing in mind that our societies were still pre-capitalist and traditional while theirs have been industrial for centuries now. These are issues to do with family, forms of democracy, homo-sexuals, central planning versus economic liberalization, etc., etc. One had to control irritation to politely get through these meetings.

Yet matters of convergence were there and uncontested: fighting extremism and terrorism (narrow-mindedness and indiscriminate use of violence); modern education in natural sciences and social sciences; the emancipation of women; trade; democracy; etc. This is what, in brief, I regard as the confusion of the Western Liberals and Leftists. I do not want to say much on this because I want to get to the next two points and space is limited. Nevertheless, by the Western Liberals trying to impose all their views and values on everybody in the World, they generate not convergence but divergence and even conflict.

Owing to the confusion of these actors, it leads them to two other mistakes: ingratitude and, therefore, a danger to peace in the World. As colonized Peoples, the Africans were greatly assisted by two earth-shaking events in the last century: the October Communist Revolution of 1917 in the Soviet Union (Russia) and the Victory of the Communists in China in 1949. You should remember that by 1900, the whole of Africa had been colonized except for Ethiopia which Musolini would soon add on the list (in 1935). Colonized by whom? By the Western Countries (Britain, France, Portugal, Germany and Spain). The Communists, on the other hand, in both Russia and China, were totally opposed to Western Imperialism and were for de-colonization. They opposed Imperialism by word and action (support for the Liberation Movements)

 The greed and flawed logic of the Western Imperialists soon led to two World Wars (the 1st and the second ─ 1914-18 and 1939 – 45). How? In 1453, the Ottoman Turks captured Constantinople (Istanbul) and, therefore, blocked the overland trade route opened by Marco-Polo in the years 1272 – 1275. The trade was mainly in silk and spices – very much in demand in Europe at that time. Now, the Ottoman Turks cut off this route.

The Europeans had, therefore, to look for sea routes either around the massive African Continent or through the unknown Western Oceans ─ the Atlantic and the Pacific. Frantic efforts by Western rulers to go by sea around Africa and over the Western Oceans, were soon rewarded. In 1492, Christopher Columbus landed in Cuba, discovering for the Europeans a new continent occupied by the American Indians. This new continent was North and South America. In 1498, Vasco Da Gama went around the Cape of Good Hope and spent the Christmas day at Natal. These two events should have been very beneficial to humanity if it was not for two weaknesses: the greed of the Europeans and the bankruptcy of the African Chiefs as well as the under-development of the indigenous Peoples of the Americans. The bankrupt African Chiefs would not organize us to resist slave trade and colonialism. In fact, many of them actually assisted both. Especially for Africa, both slave trade and colonialism would not have been possible, if it was not for the collaboration and bankruptcy of the African Chiefs. Owing to the social under-development of the Indigenous Americans (the American Indians), they were exterminated by “the Christians” from Europe, using war and disease.

It is an amazing miracle of God when I go to the UN and see the very American – Indian face of Evo Morales, the President of Bolivia. So, some American – Indians survived in sufficient numbers to generate a President from among themselves!! How great God is even in the face of evil!! I have never had a chance to talk to him. What language do these Indians speak? Do they still speak their indigenous languages? Therefore, in the four centuries between Columbus landing in Cuba and 1900, three most terrible things had happened to the non-European children of God: the indigenous People of the Americas had been exterminated and their land had been taken over by “the Christian” Europeans; millions of Africans had been up-rooted, taken into slavery in the Americas or perished in the process; and the whole of Africa (except for Ethiopia) and much of Asia had been colonized by European Countries (Britain, France, Spain, Holland, Portugal, etc.). The Europeans had polluted the efforts of the explorers that were looking for the sea routes to the East. Unlike Marco Polo who opened a trade route to the East for the flow of silk and spices, the Europeans now unleashed conquest, slave trade and even extermination on the People of the three continents: Africa, Asia and the Americas.

Nevertheless, the Colonized Peoples, initially betrayed by their bankrupt chiefs, were beginning to organize themselves. The ANC of South Africa was, indeed, founded in 1912. I attended their Centenary celebrations in Bloemfontein in 2012. In the USA, by around 1905, people like Du Bois, later on joined by George Padmore, started agitating for Pan-Africanist ideas. It is this re-invigorated resistance by the African and other colonized peoples that formed the first pillar of our ability to regain our freedom. Indeed, Mahtma Ghandi was also in South Africa as a young lawyer when this awakening was taking place.

It is at this stage that the 2nd pillar of our freedom took shape: the sparking of the inter-imperialist war of 1914-1918. What were these imperialists fighting for? They were fighting over us ─ we the Colonized Peoples ─ the property of the imperialists. The Germanic tribes inhabiting the forests of Northern Europe, had defied the Roman Empire and contributed to its decline and collapse in 450 AD. By 1870, these tribes were still governed under 39 Kingdoms, Principalities etc. On account of the growing Junker pressure in one of the Kingdoms, Prussia, a war took place between Prussia and France in 1870. France was defeated by Bismarck and the German Kingdoms were united. A United Germany now cried foul on account of being “cheated” by the other European countries in the enterprise of having “Colonial possessions” – i.e. us. Germany demanded a “fairer” redivision of the World Colonies. That is how Bismark organized the Congress of Berlin in 1884 – 85 to solve this “problem” ─ the problem of being “cheated” as far as we the “possessions” were concerned. That is how Germany now joined the League of the Imperialists by being awarded: Tanganyika, Rwanda, Burundi, Cameroon, Namibia, Togo, etc. It seems, however, that Germany was not happy with the redivision. That is how, eventually, the 1st World War broke out in 1914. The results of the 1st World War did not please Germany and Germany, now under Hitler, started the 2nd World War. The good thing was that the Imperialist Countries had been so weakened by their criminal wars, that the anti-colonial movement grew in strength. The Imperialists tried to re-establish control, but they were defeated in Indonesia, Indo-China, Kenya etc. This, therefore, was the second pillar that enabled our emancipation.

The third pillar was the emergence of Communists in the Soviet Union in 1917 and in China in 1949. These groups were anti-capitalist but also anti-colonialist. To the advantage of the Colonized Peoples, a big anti-imperialist camp had emerged by 1950. They opposed imperialism morally and also gave material support to the liberation Movements. Genuine freedom fighters in Africa can, therefore, never forget this history changing solidarity. When “Christian” countries from the West were enslaving us, these atheist communists supported our freedom and they never interfere in our affairs even today. These communists, especially the Soviet Union, did not only support our freedom, they also defended, at a great cost to themselves, the freedom of the imperialist countries themselves. Although the imperialist countries had intervened in the Soviet Union so as to defeat the new communist power, which efforts had failed between 1918 and 1920, by 1938, the pragmatic Stalin was calling on the West to form an Alliance with him to oppose German aggression. The Western leaders, on account of their narrow interests and myopia, refused. Soon Hitler attacked Poland and overrun it; he had gobbled up Czechoslovakia in March 1939. He overran the whole of Western Europe except for Britain and Sweden. Spain, Portugal and Italy were Hitler’s allies. Fortunately for the West and for us all, Hitler made the mistake of attacking the Soviet Union on the 22nd of June, 1941. It is the Soviet Union that defeated Hitler after alot of sacrifices with over 60 million people dead etc. Hitler, had to deploy 195 Army divisions against the Soviet Union compared to only 75 divisions in the West against the Western allies ─ the USA, Britain, France’s De-Gaulle, Canada, Australia, New-Zealand, South Africa, not forgetting the hundreds of thousands of African soldiers fighting for the Colonial Masters. The Western countries only opened the second front with the landings in Sicily in July 1943. This was after the defeat of the Germans by the Russians at Moscow (1941 – December), Stalingrad (1942-43) and Kursk (July, 1943).

 It is this Soviet Union, that did not only support the freedom of us, the Colonized Peoples of the World, but saved the whole of humanity by defeating Hitler, that is ever the target of the ungrateful, confused and, therefore, dangerous groups in the West. These groups were against the Soviet Union after the October Revolution in 1917, throughout the inter-war period (1918 – 1939), during the Cold War and even after the Cold War. It is unfair, it is wrong and it is dangerous for World Peace. True, the Soviets made their own mistakes. Why did they occupy Western Europe after the defeat of Hitler? Would the mighty Red Army not have earned more admiration from the Peoples of the World if they had withdrawn from Eastern Europe in 1946 and left those People’s to shape their own destinies? They would not have, then, involved themselves in Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968 and there would have been no Berlin Wall. Why did Brezhnev invade Afghanistan in 1979? I was part of the massive anti-Soviet demonstration in Dar-es-salaam in 1968 following their invasion of Czechoslovakia. However, to me, who is not biased, those mistakes neither compare with the mistakes of the West, past and present, nor do they deem the great historic contributions of both the USSR and China to the cause of humanity in general and the African Peoples in particular.

The Soviet Union broke up to the wild acclamation of the groups in the West. They welcomed the break up but did not bother about the how. You, therefore, had residual and consequent issues to the break-up. If the old internal borders of the USSR were now to become the new international borders of Sovereign Countries that were successors to the old Russian Czarist Empire and the USSR, was it not necessary to discuss that phenomenon frankly and fairly? How about the mixed populations ─ Russian and Non-Russian? How were they to live thereafter? No, all that was none of the business of the Western governing circles. What was crucial was that the “enemy” was down. Moreover, all the positive contributions Russia made to global peace or can make now are of no consequence to these Western circles. Russia must submit to the dictates of the West. This is where the danger of these groups comes in. Russia is a very powerful country even after the break-up of the USSR. It is (17,021,900 km²) seventeen million square kilometers in land area ─ that is like almost combining the USA and China. The Communists developed Russian technology and it can develop more. To think that you can trample on Russia like they have been trampling on other unfortunate Peoples, is to be very reckless and dangerous to World peace. Yet there are so many issues on which all of us (Africa, the West, Russia, China, India, Brazil, etc.) agree: universal education; improved health; industrialization; freedom of Peoples; the emancipation of women; anti-terrorism; etc. Why not take advantage of these convergences? We who were colonized and brutalized by the Western Countries forgot and forgave those mistakes. Why can’t these countries of the West have a just and balanced attitude to the countries of the East that are growing in capability and getting millions of Peoples out of poverty?

This is where Mr. Trump comes in. He says: “Why do we not examine the possibility of working with Russia against common threats, such as terrorism?” The liberals then shout that Mr. Trump must be having a secret agenda with Mr. Putin etc. This is why we could think of looking into the possibility of talking about the Trump Therapy for strategic myopia and recklessness in the West.

Gen. (rtd.) Yoweri Kaguta Museveni

PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF UGANDA

Date:

Friday, February 17, 2017

*Allafrica/The Monitor

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In tilt from Europe, Morocco rejoins African Union
February 2, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Ed Cropley*

King Mohammed VI of Morocco reviews a guard of honour at the National palace during his state visit to Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, November 19, 2016. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

King Mohammed VI of Morocco reviews a guard of honour at the National palace during his state visit to Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, November 19, 2016. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Morocco rejoined the club of African states on Tuesday, 33 years after quitting over recognition of Western Sahara, bringing one of Africa’s largest economies into the fold and raising hopes of a softening of one of its thorniest territorial disputes.

Capping a year-long charm offensive that mirrored a broader investment push into Africa, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI was cheered as he took his seat for the first time in the Addis Ababa headquarters of the 55-nation African Union (AU), one of the few international fora to recognise rival Western Sahara.

Rabat left the AU’s predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity, in 1984 in anger at its acceptance of the phosphate-rich territory on Africa’s north Atlantic coast as a full-blown member.

However, African support for Western Sahara – which the United Nations defines as a non-self-governing territory – has ebbed as the importance of Morocco’s $110 billion economy, Africa’s fifth largest, as a trade and investment partner has grown.

At an AU summit this week, Morocco was re-admitted to the fold, with 39 countries expressing support and only 10, believed to be led by Algeria and South Africa, expressing reservations.

“Africa is my home and I am coming back home,” King Mohammed said, to applause from other heads of state. “I have missed you all.”

For Morocco, a relatively liberalised economy and firm Western ally, readmission to the AU should smooth its entry into fast-growing African economies to the south and help reduce its reliance on stagnant European markets to the north.

In the last few years, Moroccan firms have made significant investments across Africa in everything from financial services to housing projects to fertilizer plants. King Mohammed made clear this was just the beginning.

“Africa is indispensable to Morocco and Morocco is indispensable to Africa,” he said.

“MAJOR STEP”

During his 20-minute speech, King Mohammed gave a nod to the tensions over Western Sahara, which has been contested since Spanish colonial powers left in 1975, but made clear he was not interested in making them worse.

“We don’t want to divide the continent,” he said.

Morocco claimed the territory after Spain’s exit and fought a 16-year war with the Polisario independence movement, that established the self-declared Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic with support initially from Algeria and then from across Africa.

Since a 1991 ceasefire, Western Sahara has been split by a earthen berm, with U.N. peacekeepers monitoring the Moroccan forces in what Rabat calls its southern provinces and guerrillas in the Polisario-controlled area bordering Algeria.

U.N.-backed attempts to hold a referendum on self-determination have been deadlocked since 1991 and Rabat has presented its own autonomy plan.

Sahrawi foreign minister Salem Ould Salek described the AU’s admission of Morocco as a ‘major step’ towards full international recognition since it would now be in the same room, on equal terms, with its rival.

“It’s a positive step for the people of Western Sahara,” he told Reuters. “After 33 years, Morocco has realised that it has to sit with the Sahrawi Republic. We hope that Morocco will have the goodwill to resolve this conflict and withdraw its troops.”

The return to the AU comes at a sensitive time.

Last year, Morocco expelled some U.N. staff from Western Sahara after then-U.N. chief Ban Ki-Moon visited Sahrawi refugee camps in southern Algeria.

In August, U.N. peacekeepers intervened when Moroccan forces crossed into a U.N.-mandated buffer zone and Polisario forces dispatched troops in kind to the remote area near Mauritania.

*Reuters/Yahoo

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Nigeria Leader Selling 2 Presidential Jets as Economy Sinks
October 5, 2016 | 0 Comments

FILE - Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari speaks at the presidential villa in Abuja, Nigeria, May 14, 2016.

FILE – Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari speaks at the presidential villa in Abuja, Nigeria, May 14, 2016.

A spokesman says Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is selling two jets in line with a campaign promise to reduce unnecessary luxuries, including the 11-aircraft presidential fleet.

A statement Wednesday from spokesman Garba Shehu says Buhari is expected to hand over other aircraft in the fleet to the Nigerian Air Force for its operations. He did not say how many.

Newspapers are advertising the sale of the two aircraft, a Dassault Falcon 7x executive jet and a Beechcraft Hawker 4000 business jet.

Nigeria is suffering a recession and double-digit inflation caused by slumping oil prices.

The country’s dire economic situation is aggravated by militant attacks on petroleum installations and shortages of foreign currency.

*VOA

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CAR President Wants Arms Embargo Lifted
April 23, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Esha Sarai*

President Faustin-Archange Touadéra, elected to the Central African Republic in February, has the daunting task of restoring stability to his war-ravaged country. (VOA/ M. Besheer and C.Forcucci)

President Faustin-Archange Touadéra, elected to the Central African Republic in February, has the daunting task of restoring stability to his war-ravaged country. (VOA/ M. Besheer and C.Forcucci)

President Faustin-Archange Touadéra of the Central African Republic, who took office less than a month ago, has said his first tasks will include disarming ex-combatants and rebuilding the military.

“Security, peace and national reconciliation will enable all Central Africans to freely go about their business,” he said in an exclusive interview with VOA’s French to Africa Thursday.

He also said the international arms embargo on the C.A.R. imposed in 2013 must be lifted.

“As of today, our defense forces are not operational. … To rebuild our army, we need that embargo … lifted or at least [changed] in a way to allow our elements to operate.” He added that he felt confident, after his meeting with U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon, that this issue would be addressed in the next Security Council meeting.

Touadéra was elected president of the C.A.R. in February in a poll that was widely seen as a step forward for the country. The C.A.R. has been mired in violent turmoil since Seleka rebels ousted then-president François Bozize in 2013.

There has been no meaningful disarmament of armed groups, something the president said will require the financial backing of the international community.

VOA’s Jacques Aristide interviewed Touadéra in New York after the newly-elected president met with with Ban.

Touadéra said the two men discussed the accusations of child sexual abuses by French and U.N. peacekeepers in the C.A.R. He added his government is not involved in the ongoing investigation.

“What we want is justice be done … Our desire — that’s what I told the secretary-general — is that if there are cases where there is evidence, we should at least be informed and involved in probing for the truth. We will also talk to contributing countries to expedite the process so that justice is done for these victims,” he said.

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Resolving Conflicts with ‘African Solutions’ –
April 23, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Hailemariam Desalegn*

Hailemariam Desalegn, prime minister of Ethiopia, in his welcome address at the Tana High-Level Forum on Security, on April 16, Bahir Dar, advocates using African solutions to resolve conflict situations in the continent

Hailemariam Desalegn

Hailemariam Desalegn

IT is my pleasure and privilege to warmly welcome you all to the beautiful city of Bahirdar and to this unique gathering, which brings together African Heads of State and Governments, high-level government officials, prominent personalities and critical stakeholders on a most timely topic of common interest: “Africa in the Global Security Agenda”. Allow me, Excellencies, to recognize the magnificent work the Secretariat has carried out in successfully organizing yet another forum on security in Africa. I am very grateful to the people and government of the Amhara Regional State for the generous hospitality that they accord to the participants of this dialogue every year. I would also like to thank all the participants, who have come from far and near, to grace us with their presence.

Five years ago when the idea of Tana Forum was conceived, the purpose was to provide a unique , neutral and informal setting for serious discussions among African leaders, opinion makers, change agents, academics, practitioners and partners on African security challenges with a view to forge  African solutions to African problems. We are now on our fifth annual event. The growing attendance and diversity of participants demonstrates the growing recognition of the Tana Forum.

Thanks to your unwavering support and immense contributions, Tana Forum has become an invaluable platform for the exchange of views, best experiences and innovative approaches to the fast changing security challenges facing our continent and the global community.

No single challenge in Africa can be considered an only African one. In its impacts or underlying causes or implementation of proposed solutions, every challenge in Africa, in one way or another, involves, implicates or requires non-African actors.

The truth is that we are living in an increasingly interconnected and complex world, where apparently isolated and small problems will have global and non-linear consequences; where effective solutions require active collaboration of nations and stakeholders.

What ‘African solutions’ means is two things principally. First, information about problems, causes and solutions ought to be primarily collected and analyzed by those who understand the African context. Collection and analysis of information is not necessarily an objective exercise. It is influenced by the particular frame of reference and embodied values of whoever is undertaking this exercise. In addition, intimate and deeper local knowledge is required for effective design of solutions.

Second, the quality of delivering institutions is as important as the quality of the diagnosis and prognosis. ‘African institutions’ have to be the principal ones that should be entrusted with the responsibility to deliver.

The colonial powers characterized informal governing institutions in Africa as backward and barbaric.  They undertook massive efforts to install formal institutions of governance, informed by their own experience and knowledge. Formal institutions were superimposed on informal institutions, without acknowledging the latter. It later became painfully clear that these exercises were not only ineffective but also counterproductive.

The good thing is that we have started the complementary design and use of formal and informal institutions in many areas. When it comes to peace and security, the experience is limited at best.

The notion of ‘African solutions’ is not limited to continental and regional processes and institutions. It also includes national institutions. If we cannot first develop and implement Ethiopian, Nigerian, Egyptian, Kenyan, Rwandese solutions and institutions, how come we expect to develop and deploy African solutions and institutions?

Permit me to briefly illustrate the enormous sacrifices Africa and her peoples’ continue to make in the face of several odds stacked against it; and why the rest of the world should support and partner with us; not deride, mock and leave us to our fate. Many of you might not know this but the truth is that Ethiopia, despite the developmental challenges we face (as almost all African countries do too) is one of the highest contributors to continental- and, by extension- global peace and security. We have not only put our citizens at the forefront of political and diplomatic missions in the Horn, and across Africa, but also contribute the highest number of personnel to United Nations and African Union peacekeeping operations in Africa. As I speak, for instance, our men and women in uniform are solely policing Abyei region, the contested borders between Sudan and South Sudan. I would also like to put on record that Ethiopia currently contributes the largest in terms of female contingents either wearing the UN Blue Helmet or serving under the auspices of the African Union; including several of them in senior command positions.

But, then, also all of these have become great costs; not just in terms of painful loss of lives, but also at a time when Ethiopia; as most other African countries, are grappling with enormous economic, social, political challenges at home. You will agree that even as we take the bold steps to serve as “first responders” wherever we are faced with grave threats to peace and security on the continent, we simply cannot do it all alone. As far as I can see, therefore, Africa needs the rest of the world just as the rest of the world needs Africa. For as long as there is disconnect, even for a short period, in the realisation that we are in this together, the world will not know peace; not the quality of peace that the current and future generations deserve.

We have seen improvements in developing and operationalizing the African architecture for peace and security, including the engagement of elders and women. These institutions must deliver in the areas of early detection of problems and correct analysis, deliberation and generation of solutions.

If we are not quick, effective and credible in these regard, forces outside Africa will be tempted to fill gaps. When they do so, they will be likely guided by their own detached frames of reference and models. The resultant solution will, therefore, be alien and non-effective and sometimes counterproductive. Such forces are motivated to do so not only by the possible and real spillover effects on them of security problems in Africa but also by the opportunity to entrench their interests and positions within Africa.

It is, therefore, fitting that the fifth Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa is devoted to the interrogation and generation of strategies for strengthening the role of Africa in the global security agenda.

I look forward to participating in the dialogue. Have a fruitful and enjoyable time on the shores of Lake Tana.

*Culled from Real Magazine.Hailemariam Desalegn, prime minister of Ethiopia, delivered this welcome address at the just-ended two-day Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, on Saturday, April 16, 2016

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Africa and the Global Security Architecture
April 23, 2016 | 0 Comments

Africa must ensure that its positions on international security concerns – and not just African issues – are carefully coordinated and well presented as it seeks to have a permanent position in the international security architecture.

By Kofi Annan*

At the outset of these remarks, allow me to thank our Chairman for inviting me to the Tana Forum. This is the first time I am attending this prestigious event, which brings together many distinguished participants who share a deep, mutual interest in the security and well-being of Africa.

Our topic this afternoon is Africa and the Global Security Architecture.

Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan

During the Cold War years that would have not been a subject for much discussion. In those days, we looked for big-power champions who could provide diplomatic and security cover.

The contemporary world is far more complex.

And, as the awful atrocities that have been perpetrated in West, East and North Africa have shown, the continent is not immune to the security threats that many countries around the world now face.

But I want to start with some good news. Africa is actually doing better than many people may realize in terms of the security of its citizenry.

Today, and despite a few egregious exceptions, armed conflict is actually a smaller risk to most Africans than traffic accidents.

This improvement of the security situation helped set the stage for rapid economic growth of 5-6% per year for the last fifteen years.

As a result of this sustained period of growth, extreme poverty has fallen by 40% since 1990.

And Africa’s growth can no longer be explained just by global demand for its commodities.

Two thirds of Africa’s growth over the last decade has come from increased domestic demand for goods and services in thriving sectors such as telecoms, financial services, manufacturing and construction.

As a result, today, inflows of private investment dwarf international aid.

They have been encouraged by the efforts of governments across Africa to improve their macro-economic environments.

Although there is still some way to go, we have seen encouraging steps towards gender parity, and the continent is moving towards universal primary education.

The spread of HIV/AIDS is in decline, and the number of deaths from tuberculosis and malaria is falling.

Democracy is extending its roots as Burkina Faso, Guinea and Nigeria have recently demonstrated.

Other countries like Cote d’Ivoire, have emerged from the abyss of conflict and are making strides towards a better and more democratic future.

In other words, our continent is generally heading in the right direction.

This encouraging analysis will come, I know, as very cold comfort for those millions of people who are still living every day in the shadow of violent conflict and abject poverty.

Progress remains uneven, and the dangers today are both internal and external.

Rebel groups have flourished in the impoverished parts of weak states that feel hard-done by their governments, where the population is often abused by the security forces, or where they do not trust the courts to deliver justice.

External forces are taking advantage of these shortcomings. We cannot ignore that from Mauritania in the west to Somalia in the east, the flag of Jihad is being raised.

More than a dozen sub-Saharan countries are concerned, and tens of thousands have already died as a result.

Boko Haram actually killed more people last year than the Islamic State. Attacks in many places are a daily or weekly occurrence.

And local extremist groups are now linking up to each other across borders, and even to global franchises like Al Qaeda or Islamic State.

Precisely because of these affiliations, these conflicts are generally seen through a unique prism: the global war on Islamist terrorism.

This neglects what they have in common with other insurgencies on the continent, which have nothing to do with Islam.

It is no secret that unemployed young men are especially vulnerable to the temptations of violence and easily instrumentalised for that purpose.

This is not a specifically Muslim problem: a World Bank survey in 2011 showed that about 40% of those who join rebel movements say they are motivated by a lack of jobs.

In Africa, as elsewhere, the answer does not lie in a purely military response that fails to deal with the root causes of disaffection and violence.

As I constantly repeat, you cannot have peace and security without inclusive development, the rule of law and the respect for human rights. These are the three pillars of all successful societies.

It is largely because these three pillars are quite fragile in parts of Africa that we are still seeing instability and violence.

The truth is that the economic growth in Africa over the last fifteen years, though impressive, has been neither sufficient nor inclusive.

In fact, Africa has become the world’s second most unequal continent, according to the African Development Bank.

Too much of that growth has enriched a narrow elite and not enough was spent on infrastructure, health or education, which would have fostered development.

It is no coincidence that Boko Haram originated in one of the world’s poorest and most deprived areas of the continent.

Not only does wealth not trickle down, but it is barely taxed, depriving the state of resources to provide public services.

It is not just that Africa is unequal: it is also unfair. An African Union report has estimated that up to one quarter of the continent’s GDP is syphoned off every year through corruption.

The trafficking of drugs creates an especially difficult challenge. Drug money is insidious and invasive. It corrodes political institutions.

We must focus on the money trail.  We have been locking up the minor offenders while the big fish swim free.

The fight against violent rebel movements is necessary, and will require enhanced inter-African as well as international cooperation.

But this is not enough because the challenge of security in Africa is often a political challenge revolving around the acquisition and use of power.

As a result, elections are a source of tension and repression rather than an opportunity for the free expression of political will.

Leaders who hang on to power indefinitely by gaming elections and suppressing criticism and opposition are sowing the seeds of violence and instability.

African leaders, like leaders everywhere, must remember that they are at the service of their citizens, and not the other way around.

They have a mandate given to them, in trust, by their people, who can also take it away from them if they are found wanting and to have outstayed their welcome.

So looking forward, I see five critical challenges for Africa as it fashions its role in the global security order.

First, at the global level, Africa must have a strong and consistent voice at the pinnacle of the international security architecture – in the Security Council.

Ideally, this means African permanent seats. But until that can be accomplished, Africa must ensure that its positions on international security concerns – and not just African issues – are carefully coordinated and well presented.

Second, at the regional level, we should recognize and applaud the work of the AU and the sub-regional organisations, which have acquired considerable and commendable experience in mounting peace operations.

This effort must continue. But African states will have to give the AU the means to do so and, in future, rely less on outside funding.

Third, looking to the national level, the most urgent challenge is to create enough jobs for the continent’s youth.

According to the World Bank, eleven million young people are expected to enter Africa’s labour market every year for the next decade.

If these young people cannot find jobs, and do not believe in the future, they may be tempted by rebel movements of all kinds, as well as crime and migration.

Wherever I am in Africa, I am always struck not just by the number of young people, but also by their energy, their creativity and their talent.

We should invest in them, harness their talent and ensure that the next generation of leaders will do better than we have done.

Another major challenge lies in building confidence in the integrity of the electoral process.

Elections should be the vehicle for popular choice in which the winner does not take all and the losers do not lose all.

Those who win must recognize that they do not have a licence to rule without restraint or remain in office in perpetuity.

Let us not confuse legality with legitimacy. Elections that meet legal form but fail the test of integrity are only pyrrhic victories that usually store up trouble for the future.

Finally, I want to mention the quality of national security forces. Madiba once said that “freedom would be meaningless without security in the home and in the streets”.

That security in the home and in the streets depends in good measure on our security forces.

We must invest in them but also make them fully accountable as part of our democratic societies. They must be trained to protect the individual and his or her family and property, to earn their trust and work with the people.

We have come a long way from the Cold War days.

Africa is now part and parcel of the global security architecture.

We can and must step up to that role by investing in our people and by protecting rights and not just regimes.

If we do that, I am convinced that our future will be more peaceful and secure than our recent past and Africa will exert a powerful and constructive influence within the global security architecture.

*Real News. Kofi Annan, President of the Kofi Annan Foundation, former Secretary General of the United Nations and Nobel Prize Laureate, presented this Keynote Address at the Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa which Held from April 16 – 17, 2016, in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia.

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Nigeria's Buhari condemns Burkina Faso coup
September 19, 2015 | 0 Comments

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari listens to a question from the press in Paris on September 16, 2015 (AFP Photo/Bertrand Guay) Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari listens to a question from the press in Paris on September 16, 2015 (AFP Photo/Bertrand Guay)[/caption] Abuja (AFP) – Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, who seized power in a military takeover more than 30 years ago before winning democratic elections this year, on Friday condemned the coup in Burkina Faso.

The former military ruler and his government in Abuja said they “unreservedly condemn” the takeover, which saw Burkina Faso’s interim president and prime minister detained with members of the administration.

The takeover by elements of the Burkinabe Presidential Guard was a “brazen contravention of the constitution and transitional charter”, according to a statement from Buhari’s office.

Abuja welcomed the release of interim president Michel Kafando.

Elections had been due to take place next month, more than a year after former president Blaise Compaore was ousted in a popular uprising.

Nigeria said it supported efforts by regional bloc ECOWAS and the African Union to resolve the crisis and promised its “fullest possible support” to mediators presidents Macky Sall of Senegal and Thomas Boni Yayi of Benin.

Buhari, 72, is a former army general who came to power in a military coup in December 1983, overthrowing a civilian government widely seen as riddled with corruption. He stayed in power for 20 months before being ousted himself in a bloodless barracks coup. He defeated sitting president Goodluck Jonathan in elections in March, scoring the first win by an opposition politician since Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999.

He has acknowledged his past as a coup leader but rejected descriptions of himself as a dictator and vowed to operate “under democratic rules”, calling himself a “converted democrat”.

He has also said he would no longer be referred to as “General Buhari”.

*AFP/Yahoo]]>

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See What The Nigerian President Owns: Buhari and Vice go Public With Assets
September 4, 2015 | 0 Comments

Osibanjo, time to keep up to campaign promises President Buhari and Vice President Osibanjo, time to keep up to campaign promises[/caption] Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and his Vice Yemi Osibanjo have finally declared their assets public. The public declaration comes with growing calls for Buhari who recently marked his first one hundred days in Office. A statement from Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President for Media and Publicity details assets owned by President Buhari and Vice Yemi Osibanjo prior to assuming office last May. The President has been living the kind of austere and Spartan lifestyle that may not expect from a former Head of State the statement read. Buhari according to the statement had less than N 30 million, ($150, 753, 00) and only one bank account with Union Bank. The President had no foreign accounts, factories, enterprises or oil wells listed to his name but had shares in about three banks. President Buhari who is not minced words in his desire to tackle corruption is still to form a government. Below is the Statement from Shehu Garba “Documents submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), show that the retired General has indeed been living an austere and Spartan lifestyle, contrary to what many might expect of a former Head of State of Nigeria and one who has held a number of top government positions, such as governor, Minister of petroleum and the head of the Petroleum Development Trust Fund (PTDF). “The documents submitted to the CCB, which officials say are still being vetted and will soon be made public, show that prior to being sworn in on May 29, President Buhari had less than N30 million to his name. He also had only one bank account, with the Union Bank. President Buhari had no foreign account, no factory and no enterprises. “He also had no registered company and no oil wells. “The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) who had been a successful lawyer before his foray into politics declared a bank balance of about N94 million and 900,000 United States Dollars in his bank accounts. “President Buhari declared however that he had shares in Berger Paints, Union Bank and Skye Bank. “This is entirely unlike what one might expect from a former head of state of a country like Nigeria. “The documents also revealed that President Buhari had a total of five homes, and two mud houses in Daura. He had two homes in Kaduna, one each in Kano, Daura and in Abuja. One of the mud houses in Daura was inherited from his late older sister, another from his late father. He borrowed money from the old Barclays Bank to build two of his homes. “President Buhari also has two undeveloped plots of land, one in Kano and the other in Port Harcourt. He is still trying to trace the location of the Port Harcourt land. “In addition to the homes in Daura, he has farms, an orchard and a ranch. The total number of his holdings in the farm include 270 heads of cattle, 25 sheep, five horses, a variety of birds and a number of economic trees. “The documents also showed that the retired General uses a number of cars, two of which he bought from his savings and the others supplied to him by the federal government in his capacity as former Head of State. The rest were donated to him by well-wishers after his jeep was damaged in a Boko Haram bomb attack on his convoy in July 2014. “As revealed by the same forms, highlights of the Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo’s asset declaration include his 4-bedroom residence at Victoria Garden City, Lagos and a 3-bedroom flat at 2 Mosley Road, Ikoyi. The Vice President also has a 2-bedroom flat at the popular Redemption Camp along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and a 2-bedroom mortgaged property in Bedford, England. Aside from these, the Vice President has no other landed properties on the form. “Apart from his law firm, known as SimmonsCooper, the Vice-President also declared shareholding in six private companies based in Lagos, including Octogenerium Ltd., Windsor Grant Ltd., Tarapolsa, Vistorion Ltd., Aviva Ltd. and MTN Nigeria. “According to details shown on the form, the Vice-President has about ninety four million naira, nine hundred thousand US dollars and nineteen thousand pounds in Nigerian Banks with the foreign currencies kept in local domiciliary accounts. His personal vehicles are one Infinity 4-Wheel Drive SUV, one Mercedes Benz and a Prado Jeep. “As soon as the CCB is through with the process, the documents will be released to the Nigerian public and people can see for themselves.” Signed :Garba Shehu Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media and Publicity) 03-09-15  ]]>

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Zuma apologises to Mozambicans for xenophobic violence
May 21, 2015 | 0 Comments

A demonstrator holds a banner in Johannesburg on April 23, 2015 during a march against xenophobia (AFP Photo/Gianluigi Guercia) A demonstrator holds a banner in Johannesburg on April 23, 2015 during a march against xenophobia (AFP Photo/Gianluigi Guercia)[/caption] Maputo (AFP) – South African President Jacob Zuma apologised to Mozambicans Wednesday for a recent outbreak of xenophobic violence in which at least seven people died and hundreds of migrants were forced to flee their homes.

Speaking at the start of a two-day state visit to Maputo, Zuma said the attacks — which included the murder of a Mozambican man captured by a press photographer — “shocked us and disturbed us”.

Apologising on behalf of the “small minority of South Africans” involved in the violence, Zuma said: “The Mozambicans are our brothers, our sisters, that’s like a family problem really.”

Rampant unemployment and poverty are seen as contributing to the violence by South Africans, who accuse migrants from Mozambique and other neighbouring countries of stealing their jobs.

Since the end of apartheid 21 years ago, South Africa has attracted millions of migrants seeking a better life in the continent’s most advanced economy.

Zuma pledged to address “some of the underlying factors” to ensure that the attacks against foreigners did not erupt again, without elaborating.

While condemning the violence, South Africa has also cracked down in a series of raids in which 1,650 illegal immigrants have been arrested.

More than 400 Mozambicans were expelled on Friday and 427 others are slated to be deported soon.

Zuma is in Maputo at the invitation of President Filipe Nyusi, with the visit set to focus on bilateral and regional cooperation.

Mozambique is South Africa’s top trading partner in Africa, with two-way trade worth 43.9 billion rand ($3.7 billion) last year.

*AFP/Yahoo]]>

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Mugabe admits land reform blunder in Zimbabwe
February 28, 2015 | 1 Comments

By Fanuel Jongwe* [caption id="attachment_16735" align="alignleft" width="300"]Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe attends his inauguration and swearing-in ceremony at the sports stadium in Harare on August 22, 2013 (AFP Photo/Alexander Joe) Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe attends his inauguration and swearing-in ceremony at the sports stadium in Harare on August 22, 2013 (AFP Photo/Alexander Joe)[/caption] Harare (AFP) – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has admitted he blundered by giving ill-equipped black farmers vast tracts of farmland seized from whites under his controversial land reforms.

In an interview with the state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) late Thursday to mark his 91st birthday on February 21, Mugabe also declared he is still in charge, dismissing speculation that his increasingly powerful wife Grace is now running the show.

“I think the farms we gave to people are too large. They can’t manage them,” Mugabe said, referring to black farmers who benefited from the land reforms.

“You find that most of them are just using one third of the land,” he said, a surprisingly candid admission of charges that the reforms were poorly executed.

In the past, Mugabe has blamed a drastic drop in agricultural production on erratic rains due to climate change and western sanctions, which he said hampered his government’s efforts to procure equipment for the farmers.

The reforms, launched in 2000 and accompanied by violent evictions of white farmers, were aimed to resettle blacks on 4,000 commercial farms.

The farmlands were parcelled out to tens of thousands of blacks.

The land seizures have reduced Zimbabwe from being the regional breadbasket to having to import grain from neighbouring Zambia and other countries, as most of the beneficiaries lacked both farming equipment and expertise.

The rural population now often relies on food aid and at the worst times families are forced to skip meals to preserve their seed stocks and feed on wild fruits and edible leaves.

Critics say the land reforms mostly benefitted allies of the veteran leader, who has been in power since 1980.

Although an individual is not allowed to own more than one farm, Mugabe’s wife Grace reportedly owns several.

Mugabe said in the interview that despite his wife’s surprise rise to key positions in the ruling ZANU-PF, he was still in charge of both the party and state affairs.

Grace Mugabe last year became the leader of the influential women’s wing in the party.

“She is not the power behind my throne,” said Mugabe of his 49-year-old wife. “She has come into politics in her own right.”

Her surprise nomination to lead the women’s league and be given a seat in ZANU-PF’s powerful politburo sparked speculation that she could be aiming to succeed the ageing ruler in the event of his death or retirement.

– Using one-third of land –

[caption id="attachment_16736" align="alignright" width="300"]Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's controversial land reforms launched in 2000, accompanied by violent evictions of white farmers, was aimed to resettle blacks on 4,000 commercial farms (AFP Photo/Alexander Joe) Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s controversial land reforms launched in 2000, accompanied by violent evictions of white farmers, was aimed to resettle blacks on 4,000 commercial farms (AFP Photo/Alexander Joe)[/caption]

During a series of rallies last year she denounced Zimbabwe’s then deputy president Joice Mujuru, claiming she was fomenting factionalism and plotting to topple Mugabe.

Mugabe subsequently sacked Mujuru, replacing her with long-time ally and hardliner Emmerson Mnangagwa. Several of Mujuru’s allies, including party spokesman Rugare Gumbo and cabinet ministers, met a similar fate.

Grace said at a rally last year that as a Zimbabwean she had a right to aim for the presidency, lending credence to the speculation that she was seeking to succeed her husband.

Mugabe, the world’s oldest leader, will be feted at a massive party to be hosted by the ZANU-PF youth wing at a hotel in the resort town of Victoria Falls on Saturday.

His health has been subject of speculation following reports that he is making frequent visits to the Far East to seek medical attention. Government officials insist he is fit and that his only health concern was an eye cataract.

Mugabe said his long life was thanks to God and a strict diet on his part.

“I eat well, not filling my stomach,” he said in the interview aired on state television.

“Eating foodstuffs that I believe will sustain one most. You must eat well and really not go for food because it’s attractive.”

Mugabe also played down his fall at the country’s main airport earlier this month which sparked speculation about his physical fitness.

“I would want to see a person who hasn’t fallen down. I don’t see the reason why anyone should be surprised that the president has fallen.”

*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>

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Museveni launches road works
February 24, 2015 | 0 Comments

Kitgum- President Museveni has commissioned construction works for Olwiyo-Gulu-Kitgum and Musingo roads in Lamwo District all covering 229 kilometres.

[caption id="attachment_16591" align="alignleft" width="300"]Museveni flags off the Olwiyo-Gulu-Kitgum-Musingo road works at Anaka Town Council in Nwoya District on Saturday. PHOTO BY CISSY MAKUMBI  Museveni flags off the Olwiyo-Gulu-Kitgum-Musingo road works at Anaka Town Council in Nwoya District on Saturday. PHOTO BY CISSY MAKUMBI[/caption] Speaking during the commissioning in Pagen village, Layamo Sub-county last Saturday, the President urged residents to utilise the roads whose construction will cost government Shs525 billion.
“This road upgrade is a key development, the aspect of poverty eradication should be explored through utilising the tarmac road to transform the economy of the country,” Mr Museveni said.
Warned against theft He also warned residents against stealing fuel. “I am warning the public to refrain from dubious acts of stealing the contractor’s equipment and fuel,” Mr Museveni said.
The President said upgrading of Rwekunye–Masindi port–Apac– Pader to Acholi bur Road would start soon.
The Minister for Works, Mr Abraham Byandala, urged the public to cooperate with the contractors and pledged government’s commitment to compensate residents whose property will be destroyed during the construction.
Mr Byandala said government had completed much of the road upgrade in the greater north, citing the Gulu– Nimule road, Vurra–Arua–Oraba– Koboko road and Gulu-Kamdini – Kafu road, which is ongoing.
Several contractors to do the job
Contracts have been awarded to Zhong Mei Construction Company, which will work on the 70km stretch from Olwiyo in Nwoya to Unyama in Gulu while 73km section from Unyama to Acholi Bur in Pader is being handled by China Railway N0-5. Chongqing International Construction Corporation will undertake the construction of 86 km section from Acholi Bur to Musingo at the Lamwo at South Sudan border. The construction will take three years. *Source Monitor
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Liberia leader urges help in post-Ebola phase
February 24, 2015 | 0 Comments

By ADAM SCHRECK* [caption id="attachment_16578" align="alignleft" width="300"]Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf speaks to The Associated Press during an interview in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015. Liberia's leader is urging the United States and other countries to keep up their support to the West African nation as it recovers from the Ebola epidemic and refocuses attention on infrastructure projects that will better position it to tackle future outbreaks of disease. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili) Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf speaks to The Associated Press during an interview in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015. Liberia’s leader is urging the United States and other countries to keep up their support to the West African nation as it recovers from the Ebola epidemic and refocuses attention on infrastructure projects that will better position it to tackle future outbreaks of disease. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)[/caption] SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Liberia’s leader on Sunday urged the United States and other countries to keep up their support to the West African nation as it recovers from the Ebola epidemic and refocuses attention on infrastructure projects that will better position it to tackle future outbreaks of disease.

In an interview with The Associated Press, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said Liberia needs outside help to see through its “post-Ebola agenda” of building up basic public services — development that she said was needed to prevent another deadly epidemic from becoming “a global menace.”

Among the needs she highlighted were power projects to keep hospital equipment running, roads so the sick can access medical facilities, and clean water to prevent diseases from spreading.

“Our own limited resources have not enabled us to take them to the level where they could … be in a preventive mode. And that’s the support we want,” she said.

“The great lesson in all these things, you know, whether you’re dealing with conflict or whether you’re dealing with disease, is to emphasize prevention rather than cure. It costs so much when you have to fix it,” added Sirleaf, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.

Deeply impoverished Liberia was one of the countries hardest hit in the West Africa Ebola outbreak that began last year and ranks as the largest in history. It has seen more than 9,000 confirmed, suspected and probable cases, and 3,900 deaths.

Liberia, founded in 1847 by freed American slaves, has long had close ties to the U.S.

Sirleaf was elected president in 2005 after years of civil war, and was re-elected to a final term six years later. She is in the United Arab Emirates city of Sharjah, near Dubai, to address the International Government Communication Forum.

She will travel to Washington later this week to meet with President Barack Obama to discuss the Ebola response and the region’s economic recovery.

Sirleaf acknowledged that her country could have been more aggressive in fighting the epidemic at the outset. But she also said she wished the U.S. and other developed countries, with their better resources and expertise, would have moved faster.

“We were slow. The world was slow. Everybody was fearful. It was an unknown enemy,” she said, adding that she was grateful for the international help — including 2,800 American troops deployed to the region — when it arrived.

That outside support helped bring the epidemic under control, allowing life to start returning to normal. Schools began re-opening last week, and Sirleaf on Friday ordered the lifting of an overnight curfew set up in August to try to contain the disease.

The president has also called for the country’s land border posts to be reopened. Officials on Sunday held a ceremony announcing that Liberia’s border with Sierra Leone was officially opened.

The disease has not been wiped out entirely, though.

Eight patients who have tested positive are still being cared for in Liberian treatment centers, and eight health care workers in the capital Monrovia are being kept under observation after they came in contact with a patient who tested positive.

Sirleaf cautioned that more must be done. That concern is echoed by experts who have warned that recent setbacks in neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone could imperil the regional effort to fight the disease.

In Guinea, where the outbreak began, 52 new cases were reported in the latest World Health Organization update, and health workers continue to face security threats as they try to trace contacts, discourage unsafe burials and educate communities. Sierra Leone is recording the most cases, with 74 included in the latest WHO update.

“Now’s not the time to be complacent or to pull out or to … stop the support. Now’s the time to really intensify it so we put in those proper preventive measures to make sure there’s no recurrence,” Sirleaf said.

The U.S. is preparing to withdraw nearly all of the troops it deployed last year to help stem the spread of the Ebola outbreak. About 100 will remain to work with Liberia’s military, regional partners and American civilians.

Jeremy Konyndyk, director of the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Development, said more than 10,000 civilian personnel from various countries will remain engaged in the fight against Ebola in West Africa long after the U.S. military pulls out. That figure includes members of non-governmental organizations working on Ebola and United Nations employees.

“The civilian capacity that is now in place is several times greater than the military capacity that was here,” he said in an interview during a visit to Monrovia. “We are planning to keep that capacity in place as much as it’s needed.”

*Source AP/Yahoo]]>

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I'm no racist, whites welcome, says South Africa's Zuma
February 21, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Lawrence BARTLETT*

Cape Town (AFP) – South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday denied that he was a racist and assured white people that they should not fear being “chased” out of Nelson Mandela’s “Rainbow Nation”.

The president also said that a new law preventing foreign ownership of land in South Africa applied only to agricultural properties and not to private residences.

[caption id="attachment_16535" align="alignleft" width="300"]South African President Jacob Zuma, answers questions arising from the debate on his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last week at the parliament in Cape Town on February 19, 2015 (AFP Photo/Rodger Bosch) South African President Jacob Zuma, answers questions arising from the debate on his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last week at the parliament in Cape Town on February 19, 2015 (AFP Photo/Rodger Bosch)[/caption]

Zuma was reacting to concerns raised by some white South Africans after he told a rally of his ruling African National Congress that all the country’s troubles began when the first white settlers landed more than 300 years ago.

“South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white,” he told parliament, quoting the ANC’s Freedom Charter, which was adopted during the fight to end the white racist system of apartheid.

Breaking away from his written speech in response to debate on his state of the nation address last week, he said: “We are a rainbow nation, nobody will chase you away. There should be no fear.”

But, he said, he would never stop talking about history because South Africa’s children should know the country’s past to ensure that mistakes were not repeated.

Zuma’s off-the-cuff remarks won enthusiastic applause.

It was a redemption of a kind for the president, who has been under fire over the past week since security forces were called into parliament to evict lawmakers who disrupted his annual address by accusing him of corruption.

He said the government was committed to freedom of speech and pledged that the cutting of mobile phone signals in parliament ahead of his address — a move which infuriated reporters and opposition lawmakers — would never happen again.

– ‘No reason to get angry’ –

Addressing the uproar in parliament for the first time, he called for all parties to preserve the dignity of the national assembly, saying “I see no reason why we should get angry”.

Radical lawmakers of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), who led the disruption last Thursday, remained silent and seated throughout his speech.

But their leader, Julius Malema, has pledged to confront Zuma again over alleged corruption when he returns to parliament for presidential question time on March 11.

While not dealing with the EFF’s demands that he repay some of the $24 million in taxpayer money spent on “security upgrades” to his private residence, Zuma did address their complaints that too much of South Africa’s wealth remains in white hands 20 years after the end of apartheid.

“Inequality is still staring us in the face. Census 2011 informed us that the income of households has hardly changed and that the income of white households is still six times more than that of black households.”

The black majority also owned just three percent of the Johannesburg stock exchange, he said, pledging to “deracialise the economy”.

Zuma also addressed concerns that planned land reforms limiting the size of farms to enable redistribution of agricultural land to blacks would create a food crisis in the country.

Quoting statistics claiming that just 100 farmers produce 70 percent of South Africa’s food, he said: “We are taking these actions precisely because the fate of too many is in the hands of too few.”

An “inclusive and scientific process” would ensure “that nothing is done that will prejudice food security in the country,” he said.

*Source Yahoo/AFP]]>

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Zambia's new president names full cabinet
February 14, 2015 | 0 Comments

Patriotic Front presidential candidate Edgar Lungu votes in Lusaka on January 20, 2015 in Lusaka (AFP Photo/Salim Dawood) Patriotic Front presidential candidate Edgar Lungu votes in Lusaka on January 20, 2015 in Lusaka (AFP Photo/Salim Dawood)[/caption] Lusaka (AFP) – Zambian President Edgar Lungu Thursday announced he would keep his position as defence minister when he unveiled his full cabinet following his election last month.

“I will remain minister of defence until further notice,” he said in a statement broadcast live on radio.

Lungu came to power in January after the death of president Michael Sata in October. Zambia’s former president Levy Mwanawasa also remained minister of defence after his election in 2001, before appointing George Mpombo.

Lungu made several more ministerial appointments after naming a partial cabinet in January.

The resulting 22-minister-strong administration has some new faces, including two lawmakers from the opposition Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD), but retains many names from Sata’s tenure.

Chishimba Kambwili becomes Information Minister, with the MMD’s Vincent Mwale replacing him as Sports Youth, and Child Development Minister.

His MMD colleague Michael Kaingu is the new Education, Science and Technology Minister, with the ruling party’s John Phiri now shifted to the Local Government and Housing portfolio.

Yamfwa Mukanga would continue as minister of Transport, Works and Communication.

“Like in a football team, I will not hesitate to make substitutions when needs be,” said Lungu.

Still not included in the lineup is former vice president Guy Scott — who was briefly Africa’s only white leader.

As interim president since the death in office of Michael Sata in October, Scott had been the first white leader on the continent since the end of apartheid 20 years ago.

Lungu replaced him as vice president with Inonge Wina, a former gender minister and chairwoman of the ruling Patriotic Front.

Scott, who is of Scottish descent, was prevented by the constitution from standing for the presidency himself as his parents were not born in Zambia.

He is now expected to remain a backbencher.

*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>

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African Union should stop depending on external funding, says Uhuru –
February 1, 2015 | 0 Comments

[caption id="attachment_16043" align="alignleft" width="300"]Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photo/PSCU President Uhuru Kenyatta holds bilateral talks with United Nations Secretary-General, H.E. Ban Ki-moon, on the sidelines of the 24th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, at AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photo/PSCU –[/caption] President Uhuru Kenyatta today said the continent stands on the threshold of a new rebirth and the African Union should stop depending on external funding to finance its programmes. He said after 50 years since the inception of the Union, Africa is experiencing the most inspiring rebirth and the confidence in African resources and solutions grows each passing day. President Kenyatta said Africa stands tall and the continent looks at the future with certainty that the possibilities and opportunities for growth and prosperity are in the hands of Africans. He said the continent is asserting its independence and sovereignty more robustly and the solidarity of Africa has never been greater. “Depending on external funding for 78 per cent of the union’s budget is simply unacceptable”, said the Head of State when he addressed the 24 Ordinary Session of the African Union Heads of State and government in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He said the African Union is a testimony to the resolve of the African people to march boldly into the future and symbolizes the people’s consensus for peace, stability, development and happiness. President Kenyatta said over-dependence on external funding by the AU poses a profound handicap and an impediment to the continent’s momentum to march forward. He asked member states to take the affairs of the AU in their hands and ensure compliance in their contributions to the financial resources of the union. Member States should ensure timely remittances of their contributions to the union. “It is the only way that our meetings and programmes will be sustainable”, said President Kenyatta. He said Kenya fully endorses the recommendations of the AU’s commission on alternative sources of financing the Union. “It (commission’s report ) sets out a menu of innovative financing alternatives that offers choice and flexibility aimed at ensuring that we all do our part in liberating the African Union from dependency”, he added President Kenyatta said Kenya favours financing of the Union through a dedicated line controlled by respective treasuries of member states. “This, in our view ensures consistency in remittance and therefore, better compliance. I urge Members to work harder to clear arrears in contributions. President Kenyatta assured the delegates that the Treasury, through the National Bank will establish a channel through which Kenya will fulfil all its obligations to the union. *Source the-star

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Washington Post interview with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir
January 7, 2015 | 1 Comments

By Kevin Sieff* This interview was conducted Dec. 18 by Washington Post Africa bureau chief Kevin Sieff. It took place in Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s office in the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers in Khartoum. It lasted 45 minutes. Bashir spoke in Arabic. The translation was provided by Bashir’s personal translator, and the transcript was made by Sieff. [caption id="attachment_15246" align="alignleft" width="586"]Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir smiles during an interview with the Russia Today news channel at the Presidential Palace in Khartoum, December 3, 2014. (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters) Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir smiles during an interview with the Russia Today news channel at the Presidential Palace in Khartoum, December 3, 2014. (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters)[/caption] Washington Post: First, I was hoping you could tell me, as you see it, the impact of U.S. sanctions on the Sudanese people and the Sudanese economy. And what you would be willing to do to end those sanctions — if you see any compromise possible. Omar al-Bashir: First of all, I very warmly welcome you. I welcome your paper. This is the opportunity we’ve been looking for in order to explain, answer and expose the realities . . . First of all, I want to state this very clearly — that U.S. sanctions against Sudan are unreasonable, unjustified and unjust. And I will give you some instances of this.

If one of the reasons they put forward for sanctions against Sudan was war in South Sudan, this war is a legacy of the colonial period. Because Sudan was under colonization until 1955, when the war started, and Sudan got its independence in 1956. So war actually started when the British governor general was here in Sudan. In this context of war in South Sudan, there was a hard-core commitment by the United States that if this war in South Sudan has ended, they will lift sanctions, they will relieve the debts of the government, and they will normalize relations. This was given in a bill — in a very strong promise — from Sen. [John] Danforth. After we signed the comprehensive peace agreement with South Sudan, they shifted the agenda. They said, “No, no, we have another problem in Darfur. And we cannot do anything until the problem in Darfur is solved.” Likewise we gave a compromise — and we signed a Darfur peace agreement in Abuja — witnessed and signed by so many, including [Robert B.] Zoellick, who was then the state minister of foreign affairs. And again Zoellick agreed that if the Abuja agreement was signed, the same action will be taken to lift and normalize and all the rest. And it was a promise from Zoellick himself. And after signing, President [George W.] Bush personally called me on the phone and reiterated the American policy that now we have fulfilled our part of the agreement and the United States is very ready to fulfill its promises. Personally he talked to me on the phone. During the signing of the agreement, some of the rebel groups in Darfur refused to sign it. And they said — the international community, the E.U. and all who signed the agreement — said that whoever of the rebels refused to sign will be subjected to penalties.
Those rebel groups didn’t sign, and the sanctions and penalties went onto Sudan, while the rebel groups were never subject to any punishment. We finished with Darfur, we finished with South Sudan, and then they shifted the agenda again. And they said — well, now, if Sudan will implement and fully execute the comprehensive peace agreement . . . then they will consider lifting sanctions and normalizing relations. And as you know, we did. We accepted the result of the referendum. We were the first to recognize the newborn state of South Sudan. But still, sanctions are there. Despite the fact that Sudan is so much impacted by the sanctions economically and politically. But we believe the United States is also hurt by sanctions imposed on Sudan. We got back in retrospect — that all the concessions of the oil in Sudan were given to American companies. But when the sanctions came . . . we had to reorient [the oil] to companies other than the American companies. And this is very important. The Chinese came, and we accepted them. Once these Chinese came in Sudan. You can see them up [garbled audio]. The Chinese came, they took the concessions. They achieved success in Sudan. This opened all the doors for the Chinese throughout Africa. They managed to go through Sudan and kind of spread. And, of course, we need to see very clearly the loss incurred on the United States by the economic influence of china. It is a loss. That’s why we say the sanctions hurt us. But they also hurt the United States. WP: Speaking about Darfur, I know you’ve asked for UNAMID’s departure. And I wonder if you think security in Darfur is good enough to allow for UNAMID [the United Nations–African Union Mission in Darfur] to leave. There’s been a surge in violence just this year, and hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced in Darfur. OB: First of all, we need to emphasize this: The peaceful area in Darfur has expanded widely in the region. With regard to the IDPs, which is a concern of the general [Bashir], there are hundreds of thousands of IDPs [internally displaced persons] left in the camps, and they went to their villages and they went back and it was safe and they farmed their lands. And the fact that there are some left, it is a very general aspect in Sudan. There is a continuous flow from rural areas into towns, and this is everywhere in Sudan, and there are many reasons for this, and war isn’t necessarily one of them. And, of course, those in these IDP camps . . . they are provided with food and medical services and everything. To them, it is an easy life. They would rather stay in these camps than go back and work. And then you can see that there in these areas all over Sudan. Even in Khartoum you can see them because they are provided services in these IDP camps. With regard to UNAMID, UNAMID has failed to protect even itself, let alone the civilians in Darfur. Just about a week ago, they had a patrol and they had all the arms, including armored vehicles. And they were met by a very small group of rebels and they gave in and fled. And the armored vehicles and the arms were taken away from them. Sometimes even a pedestrian with a knife can take their weapons away. WP: So you think Darfur would be a safer place if UNAMID wasn’t there? OB: Let me reiterate this. The peaceful area in Darfur has considerably widened to the extent that there is no more need for forces to be in these areas. Part of this whole thing — there is an agreement with UNAMID that there should be an exit strategy for them. And they know that peace in Darfur is getting wider and wider and deeper and deeper. And, of course, one of the indications that they are convinced that peace in Darfur is much much better — they transferred some forces to the Central African Republic and to South Sudan. They opted to do this themselves. It is a very strong indication that UNAMID is convinced that the area of peace has expanded in Sudan to the extent that there is no need for these forces to stay. WP: I want to ask you about the accusations of the way you’ve dealt with the political opposition here. There are some people who have raised concerns about the protest in September 2013 in which 200 people were killed. Recently there was a member of the opposition who was detained. There were some more civil society activists who were detained. Some people point to these examples as evidence that you’re not willing to tolerate a political opposition. OB: With regard to the September events, first of all the number of people who died is not correct. There were about 80. A single soul is very important to us. But the fact is that it is 80. Still we say the loss of one soul is very harmful to us. These 80 people were killed through their direct attack on the police stations and the courts. And all police stations across Khartoum were attacked, and they have occupied some of them. And all the courts in Khartoum were attacked. Some of them were burned. Of course, this begs the question that if these events happened in the United States, would the government allow people to go and allow even a single police keeping security in the streets? Of course we have examples in the United States. Even someone in his car who is asked to raise his hands and refuses, he will be shot. We’ve seen it. Especially if he’s black. These protesters burned 42 petrol stations. All of the office of electricity distribution were burned and attacked, and they stole the money. Of course with this view I’ve just explained, you can’t say these were peaceful demonstrations. They were not. And during the first day of demonstrations, the police never intervened. But the whole thing executed the next day. And, of course, it is the job of the security forces to protect the people and the lives of the people. We considered them as hostile. They are aggressive, they are hostile, they kill people they destroy property. They are terrorists. They are designated as terrorists. Would the United States allow someone who goes and makes an agreement with al-Qaeda to come back and stay safely in the United States? And the courts were under the criminal law . . . it’s not under any other. They were charged under the criminal law. They are not political detainees. Those who were arrested now were not arrested because they were politicians but because they violated the criminal law of Sudan. WP: Do you think you’re going to be president for the rest of your life? At one point you said you would not run again, and it appears that you’ve changed your mind and you’ve said you will run again. OB: Of course, when you look at the problems and the challenges in Sudan and I don’t think anybody would wish to be the president under such conditions. Of course this is not the first time that I [silence] my wish to stay away. I started since 1996. From that time, whenever there is an opportunity, I would tell the people it is time for me to go and live as peaceful as possible a life as a normal citizen of the country. And I’m looking forward to the time they describe me as the former president. And, of course, there are pressures from my own party and other Sudanese parties also, and I succumb to those pressures, but I hope as soon as possible I can find an exit out of this. WP: You’ve been president for several decades, and I wonder looking back on recent decades — what’s your biggest regret? OB: One of the things that has an impact on these two decades and more is what happened after we signed the comprehensive peace agreement. We signed this agreement. We genuinely implemented it, and we gave our brothers in South Sudan more than is entitled to them according to the peace agreement. I fought for years in South Sudan for the unity of Sudan. I was a commander in the fields, fighting for the unity of Sudan. As a politician, I worked very, very hard in order to maintain the unity of our country. That was my aim. Of course, the result came negative to what I was looking forward to happen after all these efforts, after all these years of hard work and labor. It’s one of the things that I forget because Sudan was divided in two. WP: Do you regret signing the document? OB: No. In the introductory paragraph of agreement, it is stated that two parties — that is, the SPLA [Sudan People’s Liberation Army] and the government of Sudan — should work together to make unity attractive to people of South Sudan. We did our work genuinely, but unfortunately our brothers in South Sudan did not. WP: Can you talk a bit about the Rapid Support Forces. There have been accusations that these forces . . . are Arab militias reconstituted and are now committing more crimes, especially in places like Darfur. OB: I challenge . . . a challenge I put to everyone, everywhere . . . that they should provide one single event that these RSF committed in Darfur. If found, we are ready for an investigation anywhere. These forces dealt a severe blow to the rebel groups in Darfur. Of course, the nature of these rebel groups is that they are mobile and use four-wheel-drive vehicles. They are mobile throughout Darfur. And it was very hard for the regular army to chase them. That’s why you need a force to deal with them according to same nature — quick, mobile and using the same vehicles. That’s why the RSF were founded. They were very successful. They dealt a very severe blow to the rebels in Darfur. Because the nature of engagement is the same . . . they were successful and able to route out the rebels by almost 90 percent. Of course, one of the missions of these groups is to face the rebel groups. But, at the same time, they are helping give assistance to the people. And if we track the route of these forces, wherever they go, they are welcomed by the people. They are commended by the people because they deliver services to the people. They give them food. They give them medicine. They repair the pumps. I ask for an independent, impartial committee to come over and track the route of the movement of these forces. And if this stands to be untrue, we will bear the responsibility. WP: The ICC [International Criminal Court] still has an arrest warrant for you, and I want to know after all these years what you think that this warrant still exists, and how it has affected your ability to govern? OB: First of all this decision of the ICC is political. Whoever now visits Darfur, and I think you might be able to go there, they found that all these accusations of ethnic cleansing, the killing of the people and mass rape, these are all false accusations. They can detect it themselves if they go into Darfur.
Secretary of State [Colin] Powell visited Darfur, and he came and he talked to me and he said very clearly that he was sure there was no genocide, there was no ethnic cleansing, these were all false accusations. WP: But even our current president, Barack Obama, has called what happened in Darfur a genocide. OB: Unfortunately, the Darfur problem has become an internal United States issue to serve political ends. During elections, it is an internal U.S. issue. Politicians use this to promote their agenda during elections. Of course, Powell — when he went there, he found that governors and people in assembly. . . were from three tribes. Later on, even [Secretary of State John] Kerry and [Vice President] Biden told some of our people that they have nothing to say about Sudan. But there are the lobbies in the U.S. — and Congress — that pressured the administration not to come forward. . . . WP: What kinds of lobbies? OB: All of them. Save Darfur and the rest of them. They collect so much money, but no money has ever been spent in Darfur. Otherwise it would be a paradise. [He wants to add something] OB: I initiated a national dialogue . . . [to bring together] all the political parties and social figures. And there was an acceptance. And we started working. During the last meeting, there were 93 political parties attending. Parallel to this, we had social and communal dialogue that includes all civil society, workers, all segments of society. We even invited rebel groups. The aim of this is to bring together the people of Sudan, to work together, unite, reach a consensus on a vision. How to bring peace and development. WP: It must have been painful when the political opposition and rebel groups signed the Sudan Call rather than join the national dialogue. OB: These groups signed a road map with [South Africa’s Thabo] Mbeki for national dialogue . . . but instead of coming forward . . . they joined this Sudan Call. WP: Makes a national dialogue difficult? OB: We will maintain the process, and I tell you we have the majority. And I’m sure through time when the process goes forward, many of them will come and join the process.
*Source washingtonpost. Kevin Sieff has been The Post’s bureau chief in Nairobi since 2014. He served previously as the bureau chief in Kabul and had covered the U.S. -Mexico border.
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DRC won't bow to foreign injunctions – Joseph Kabila
December 16, 2014 | 0 Comments

Joseph Kabila, President of Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo©Reuters Joseph Kabila, President of Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo©Reuters[/caption] Though Joseph Kabila has yet to publicly declare his intentions, Congo is rife with speculation that he is looking for ways to remain in charge of the vast, mineral-rich nation after his second elected five-year term in office ends in 2016. “We are always open to the opinions, advice and suggestions of our partners, but never to injunctions,” Kabila said during a rare public speech before a joint session of parliament. Kabila came to power in 2001 when his father, Laurent, was assassinated in the middle of a conflict that sucked in regional armies are killed millions of Congolese. He steered Congo to post-war elections in 2006 and won re-election in 2011, although the second vote was marred by complaints of widespread irregularities. Congo’s constitution currently limits presidents to two elected terms in office. Senior U.S. officials have already publicly called on Kabila not to alter the constitution in order to hold onto power. During a summit of French-speaking countries last month, France’s President Francois Hollande more broadly cautioned leaders facing constitutional term limits to learn from the example of Burkina Faso. Mass protests forced Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaore to step down and flee the country after he tried to push through constitutional changes to extend his 27-year rule. Congolese opposition leaders have managed to draw thousands of protesters to marches calling for Kabila to step down in 2016. In his speech on Monday, Kabila criticised what he said was the “systematic tendency” among some of his countrymen to look abroad for assistance to settle domestic political differences. “There is no crisis in DRC, and even were we to have one we would sit down together around a table to negotiate,” he said. *Source theafricareport]]>

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Uganda's Museveni calls on African nations to quit the ICC
December 13, 2014 | 0 Comments

President Yoweri Museveni (C) of Uganda arrives at the 8th Northern Corridor Integration Projects Summit at Safari Park Hotel, in Nairobi December 11, 2014. REUTERS/Noor Khamis President Yoweri Museveni (C) of Uganda arrives at the 8th Northern Corridor Integration Projects Summit at Safari Park Hotel, in Nairobi December 11, 2014. REUTERS/Noor Khamis[/caption]

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni on Friday called on African nations to drop out of the treaty establishing the International Criminal Court, amid accusations that it unfairly targets Africans.

“I will bring a motion to the African Union’s next session. I want all of us to get out of that court of the West. Let them (Westerners) stay with their court,” he said in Swahili.

Prosecutors dropped charges of crimes against humanity against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta last week, but the trial of his deputy William Ruto on similar charges is under way at the Hague-based court.

Museveni, addressing a ceremony to mark Kenya’s 51 years of independence from Britain, criticised the ICC for continuing with Ruto’s case despite an African Union (AU) resolution that no sitting African head of state or deputy should be tried at the court.

“With connivance, they are putting Deputy President Ruto, someone who has been elected by Kenyans, in front of the court there in Europe,” he said. The AU is scheduled to hold its annual summit of heads of state in Ethiopia at the end of January, but has not announced a specific date.

The collapse of the Kenyatta case was a blow to the court, which has secured only two convictions, both against little-known Congolese warlords, and has yet to prove it can hold the powerful to account.

Many Africans accuse the ICC of unfairly targeting their continent. Museveni said he had backed the court before it turned into a tool for “oppressing Africa”. “I supported the court at first because I like discipline. I don’t want people to err without accountability,” he said. “But they have turned it into a vessel for oppressing Africa again so I’m done with that court. I won’t work with them again.”

Uganda has in the past sought the assistance of the ICC in bringing rebel warlord Joseph Kony to account for war crimes in northern Uganda over two decades.

Kenyatta and Ruto also addressed the ceremony in an open-air stadium in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, saying they were confident Ruto and his co-accused would also be vindicated.

“I ask you all to join me in supporting my deputy and his co-accused as they also await their overdue vindication,” Kenyatta said.

*Source Reuters/Yahoo]]>

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HALF A CENTURY OF INDEPENDENCE! But what happened to Africa's 'Class of the 1960s' leaders?
October 24, 2014 | 0 Comments

MORRIS KIRUGA, SAMANTHA SPOONER* download (2)Ebook on Africa’s 1960s independence leaders, and their stories: Some amazing, some uplifting, and several depressing OCTOBER 24 is Zambia’s 50th independence anniversary. Zambia’s founding president Kenneth Kaunda turned 90 in April. Kaunda has achieved something none of the 1960s independence leaders in Africa did – he is the only republican leader of the 1960s generation who has lived to see his country turn 50. Mail & Guardian Africa  spoke to Kaunda for the anniversary in the capital Lusaka. Click here to read ebook where we tick off what happened to the rest of the “Class of the 1960s”: *Courtesy of mg.co]]>

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Ebola: Liberia’s President writes moving letter to the world
October 20, 2014 | 0 Comments

download (1)Liberia’s President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has written a heartfelt letter to the world over the Ebola crisis that hit her country. In the letter which was read over the radio and transmitted worldwide, she likened the Ebola epidermic to the civil war her country faced 11 years ago which killed a lot of Liberians, crumbled their economy and vital institutions.The president called on the international community to stop all theoretical explanations on the Ebola crisis and act fast to stop the spread of the deadly virus. Dear World In just over six months, Ebola has managed to bring my country to a standstill. We have lost over 2,000 Liberians. Some are children struck down in the prime of their youth. Some were fathers, mothers, brothers or best friends. Many were brave health workers that risked their lives to save others, or simply offer victims comfort in their final moments… There is no coincidence Ebola has taken hold in three fragile states – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea – all battling to overcome the effects of interconnected wars. In Liberia, our civil war ended only eleven years ago. It destroyed our public infrastructure, crushed our economy and led to an exodus of educated professionals. A country that had some 3,000 qualified doctors at the start of the war was dependent by its end on barely three dozen. In the last few years, Liberia was bouncing back. We realized there was a long way to go, but the future was looking bright.Now Ebola threatens to erase that hard work. Our economy was set to be larger and stronger this year, offering more jobs to Liberians and raising living standards. Ebola is not just a health crisis – across West Africa, a generation of young people risk being lost to an economic catastrophe as harvests are missed, markets are shut and borders are closed.The virus has been able to spread so rapidly because of the insufficient strength of the emergency, medical and military services that remain under-resourced and without the preparedness to confront such a challenge. This would have been the case whether the confrontation was with Ebola, another infectious disease, or a natural disaster.But one thing is clear. This is a fight in which the whole world has a stake. This disease respects no borders. The damage it is causing in West Africa, whether in public health, the economy or within communities – is already reverberating throughout the region and across the world.The international reaction to this crisis was initially inconsistent and lacking in clear direction or urgency. Now finally, the world has woken up. The community of nations has realized they cannot simply pull up the drawbridge and wish this situation away.This fight requires a commitment from every nation that has the capacity to help – whether that is with emergency funds, medical supplies or clinical expertise.I have every faith in our resilience as Liberians, and our capacity as global citizens, to face down this disease, beat it and rebuild. History has shown that when a people are at their darkest hour, humanity has an enviable ability to act with bravery, compassion and selflessness for the benefit of those most in need.From governments to international organisations, financial institutions to NGOs, politicians to ordinary people on the street in any corner of the world, we all have a stake in the battle against Ebola. It is the duty of all of us, as global citizens, to send a message that we will not leave millions of West Africans to fend for themselves against an enemy that they do not know, and against whom they have little defence.The time for talking or theorizing is over. Only concerted action will save my country, and our neighbours, from experiencing another national tragedy. The words of Henrik Ibsen have never been truer: “A thousand words leave not the same deep impression as does a single deed. Yours sincerely, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf *Source independent.co.ug]]>

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African leaders seek fund to fight militant groups
September 4, 2014 | 1 Comments

Edith Honan* [caption id="attachment_11621" align="alignleft" width="580"]  Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni arrives to attend the Africa Union Peace and Security Council Summit on Terrorism at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi, September 2, 2014.  Credit: Reuters/Noor Khamis
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni arrives to attend the Africa Union Peace and Security Council Summit on Terrorism at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi, September 2, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Noor Khamis[/caption] African leaders proposed on Tuesday creating a special fund to combat Islamist militant groups growing in strength from Kenya to Nigeria. African Union (AU) states announced the idea after Nairobi talks on a problem highlighted on Tuesday by capture of a town in north-eastern Nigeria by Boko Haram militants. Fighting killed scores of people, according to security forces, and sent at least 5,000 fleeing. A senior European Union official also told the summit that Islamic State’s gains in Iraq and Syria, where it controls vast swathes of territory, could help set off a competition between it and al Qaeda to become the leading Islamist militant group in Africa. President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, where al Shabaab gunmen last September killed 67 people in a raid on a shopping mall, said African countries should stand together against the threat of Boko Haram and al Shabaab. “No single state can tackle this threat alone,” he said. “It is particularly worrying in Africa today that terrorist organizations have grown both in terms of number and capability.” Chad President Idriss Deby, who is chairperson of the AU Peace and Security Council, said: “There is a proposal to establish a special fund to combat terrorism.” But Deby, flanked by Kenyatta and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan at a news conference, gave no details about who would contribute to the fund or how the money would be used. Swathes of Africa has been ravaged by Islamist insurgencies, with the likes of Boko Haram launching attacks in Nigeria and Cameroon, while Somalia’s al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab rebels have struck at targets in Kenya and Uganda.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIv1dBhu4xs The idea of the fund was mooted by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and would be discussed at the next full AU summit. Kenyatta said African states would have to increase their own spending on security to curb the organized militant groups. Many African countries, including Kenya and Nigeria, are key Western allies in the global fight against Islamist militants and their security services receive substantial training and support from the United States, Britain and other donors. The United States has said it is assessing whether al Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Somalia on Monday. Saudi Arabia said it would contribute $10 million to the AU to fight militant groups which have often taken advantage of porous borders and inept police forces across the continent.   RIVALRY The wealth and military might of Islamic State militants have led the United States and others to view it as a threat capable of surpassing that once posed by al Qaeda, which is seen as hobbled since the 2011 killing of its founder Osama bin Laden. African intelligence officials have said that they are concerned that Islamists may be emboldened by the Islamic State’s gains in the Middle East. Gilles de Kerchove, the European Union’s counter-terrorism coordinator, said the Islamic State’s strength could attract African Islamist militants in search of funding and training. “It’s not only that ISIS might provide more money or resources,” Kerchove said. The two groups might also engage in a “competition for the leadership,” with al Qaeda using Africa as a staging ground to remain relevant. “It’s a concern. I’m not saying it will happen,” he said. *Source Reuters  ]]>

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Adopt Swahili as official language, says Mwinyi
September 1, 2014 | 0 Comments

Former Tanzania president Ali Hassan Mwinyi (grey-haired) and other participants finish their race during the Cancer Run at Kololo Ceremonial grounds yesterday. More than Shs300 million was collected from the run to help complete the cancer ward at Nsambya hospital. Photo by Ismail Kezaala. Former Tanzania president Ali Hassan Mwinyi (grey-haired) and other participants finish their race during the Cancer Run at Kololo Ceremonial grounds yesterday. More than Shs300 million was collected from the run to help complete the cancer ward at Nsambya hospital. Photo by Ismail Kezaala.[/caption] Kampala- East African countries should revive the use of Kiswahili to ease communication and promote unity, former Tanzania president Ali Hassan Mwinyi has said.

Mr Mwinyi was speaking yesterday after taking part in the Rotary Cancer Run at Kololo Airstrip, where he was the chief runner.
“There was an East African language committee but unfortunately, this committee was born in Tanzania, fell sick in Kenya and was buried in Uganda,” he said.
The former Tanzania president said he was in Uganda to witness the re-birth of the language.
“I’m pleased to tell you that I’m in Uganda to witness the re-birth of Swahili and so the next time you invite me, I will address you in that language.”
Swahili is already an official language in Tanzania and Kenya where it is spoken by the majority of the population. In Rwanda and Burundi, it is widely spoken but some Ugandans claim Swahili was used by harsh colonial officials and government law enforcement agencies and criminals, hence their dislike of the language.
President Mwinyi, who arrived in Uganda last Friday, was in the company of his wife Siti Mwinyi who also took part in the run.
East African Legislative Assembly legislator Mike Sebalu, the chairperson of the run, said it had created awareness about cancer among the masses and expects the cancer ward at Nsambya hospital to be opened to the public in January.
A team from Monitor Publications Ltd led by the Executive Editor, Prof Malcolm Gibson, took part in the event, which attracted more than 20,000 runners, with the organisers announcing more than Shs300 million in collections. *Source monitor
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100th Day Anniversary Of Abductions: Jonathan Tells Chibok Parents Government Doing ‘Everything’ To #BringBackOurGirls
July 23, 2014 | 0 Comments

President Goodluck Jonathan meeting with some of the Chiboks girls who escaped from Boko haram in Abuja today State House Photo President Goodluck Jonathan meeting with some of the Chiboks girls who escaped from Boko haram in Abuja today
State House Photo[/caption] President Goodluck Jonathan today in Abuja told members of the Chibok community, hundreds of whose daughters were abducted by Boko Haram militants exactly 100 days ago, that his administration is doing “everything humanly possible” to rescue them. Mr. Jonathan spoke during a belated meeting in the presidential villa with parents of the abducted girls, some of the girls who escaped from their abductors, and leaders of the community. It was his first meeting with the parents, and he appealed for their patience, understanding and cooperation, presidential spokesman Reuben Abati said in a statement. Mr. Jonathan has never been to Chibok, and his government responded to the abductions by spending weeks questioning that they ever happened in the first place.  Critics say that mistake gave Boko Haram the space and time to split up the girls and make them hard to find. “Anyone who gives you the impression that we are aloof and that we are not doing what we are supposed to do to get the girls out is not being truthful,” he said, trying to parry widespread criticism of his government. Mr. Jonathan further told his visitors: “Our commitment is not just to get the girls out, it is also to rout Boko Haram completely from Nigeria. But we are very, very mindful of the safety of the girls. We want to return them all alive to their parents. If they are killed in any rescue effort, then we have achieved nothing.” He noted that that although he was yet to visit Chibok since the abductions, his heart was constantly with its traumatized parents and people, and his desire was to visit them when their daughters have been freed and they can receive him with smiling faces of joy, rather than with tears of anguish. Apparently sensing the weight of heavy expectations, Mr. Jonathan told the parents that the occasion was not the time for “talking much,” but for action. “We will get to the time that we will tell stories. We will get to the time that we will celebrate and I assure you that, by God’s grace, that time will come soon.” According to Mr. Abati, the event, which was held behind closed doors, was also attended by Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State, Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State and the Senate President, Senator David Mark. National Security Chiefs, Ministers and other senior government officials were also present at the meeting. “Other speakers at the meeting included a district head, Mr. Zannamadu Usman, a member of the Borno State House of Assembly, Hon. Aminu Foni Chibok, parents of the abducted girls and three of the girls who escaped from their captors, Godia Simon, Dorcas Musa and Joy Bishara,” and that the community’s address to the President was presented by Dr. Pogu Bitrus. Strangely, the State House statement presented a heavily one-sided report of the occasion.  It appeared that a clear decision was made to scrupulously suppress the statements delivered on the occasion by the visitors, but the parents appeared to have begged Mr. Jonathan to do more to protect them. [caption id="attachment_10488" align="alignright" width="300"]President Goodluck Jonathan has been criticised for not meeting parents earlier President Goodluck Jonathan has been criticised for not meeting parents earlier[/caption] “Responding to appeals from the community leaders for more help in overcoming some of the challenges imposed on Chibok and neighbouring communities by the Boko Haram insurgency, the President said that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and Federal Medical Agencies will intensify their efforts to provide them with additional relief aid and assistance,” Abati wrote. He said Mr. Jonathan also assured them that Chibok and other communities in the three North-Eastern States most affected by the Boko Haram insurgency will be the first beneficiaries of the Victims’ Support Fund, the Presidential Initiative for the North-East, the Safe Schools Initiative and other developmental programmes which the Federal Government is evolving to address the damage, losses, setbacks, economic and social dislocations occasioned by the Boko Haram insurgency.” According to the spokesman, Governor Shettima called for “more sobriety, reflection and unity of purpose” in the fight against terrorism in the country, but it was not clear to whom those words were specifically addressed, as it could not have been the victims. The governor was said to have pledged that Borno State will give President Jonathan the fullest possible support for his efforts to address the problems caused by terrorism and the Boko Haram insurgency. *Source Sahara Reporters ]]>

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The chairperson of the AU Commission looks forward to working closely with the new AU Panel of the Wise
July 10, 2014 | 1 Comments

images (6)The Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU), Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, looks forward to working closely with the new members of the AU Panel of the Wise. At their 23rd Ordinary Summit, held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, on 26 and 27 June 2014, the Heads of State and Government endorsed the proposals she made for the appointment of the five new members of the Panel, who are: – Dr Lakhdar Brahimi, from Algeria, for North Africa; – Mr Edem Kodjo, from Togo, for West Africa; – Dr Albina Faria de Assis Pereira Africano, from Angola, for Central Africa; – Dr Luisa Diogo, from Mozambique, for Southern Africa; and – Dr Specioza Naigaga Wandira Kazibwe, from Uganda, for East Africa. The new members of the Panel are due to assume office in September 2014, at a ceremony to be held at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa. They will seize that opportunity to review and adopt their programme of work. The Chairperson of the Commission is confident that the new members of the Panel will give additional momentum to the AU’s efforts in conflict prevention, building on the work carried out so far. In line with relevant provisions of the Protocol that established the Peace and Security Council (PSC), the AU policy making organs have, over the past few years, repeatedly emphasized the need for renewed efforts towards conflict prevention in Africa. The Chairperson of the Commission seizes this opportunity to pay tribute to the outgoing members of the Panel of the Wise, which was chaired by late President Ahmed Ben Bella. Former President Kenneth Kaunda, Dr Salim Ahmed Salim, Madame Marie Madeleine Kalala-Ngoy, and Dr Mary Chinery Hesse will now become Friends of the Panel. The AU Panel of the Wise is one of the components of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), as provided for in the 2002 Peace and Security Council (PSC) Protocol. The Panel, which was launched in Addis Ababa, in December 2007, is composed of five highly respected African personalities who have made outstanding contribution to the cause of peace, security and development on the continent. They are selected by the Chairperson of the Commission after consultation with the Member States concerned, and appointed by the Assembly of the Union to serve for a period of three years. The Panel is mandated to support the efforts of the PSC and those of the Chairperson of the Commission, particularly in the area of conflict prevention. The Panel may advise the PSC and the Chairperson of the Commission on all matters within their respective competences; carry out fact-finding missions as an instrument of conflict prevention; encourage parties, where appropriate, to engage in political dialogue; and promote confidence-building measures. The Panel may also pronounce itself on any issue relating to the promotion and maintenance of peace, security and stability in Africa. Since its inception, the Panel of the Wise has undertaken a number of thematic reflections on issues relevant to conflict prevention and peace-building, namely: election-related disputes and conflicts; impunity, justice and national reconciliation; women and children in armed conflicts; and democratization and governance. The thematic reflection on election-related conflicts and violence was initiated following the post-election crisis in Kenya in December 2007. The report of the Panel on this issue and its recommendations were adopted in July 2009 by the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government. The decision of the Panel to reflect on fighting impunity, along with its relationship to truth, justice and reconciliation in Africa, was taken in November 2008, following renewed debate on this topic. The choice of the topic of women and children in armed conflicts was informed by the empirical evidence, accumulated over decades, confirming that women and children suffer most wherever and whenever there is a breakdown of social order, rule of law and ascendance of violence. The report of the Panel will be submitted in due course to the relevant AU organs. imagesThe decision to devote a thematic reflection to the implications of the popular uprisings in North Africa for the democratization processes in Africa is in response to the request made by the 275th meeting of the PSC, held in Addis Ababa, on 26 April 2011, for the Panel to undertake a comprehensive review of the existing mechanisms relating to democratization and governance in Africa, and make recommendations to it. In addition to its thematic reflections, the Panel of the Wise has undertaken a number of field missions in support of democratization and transition processes on the continent. The Panel of the Wise works closely with the Regional Economic Communities (RECs). It has undertaken joint activities with the Committee of Elders of COMESA, the Council of the Wise of ECOWAS, as well as the Secretariats of IGAD, SADC and the ICGLR. In May 2013, the AU Assembly decided to establish an umbrella mechanism called the Pan African Network of the Wise (PANWISE). PANWISE brings together mediation institutions and actors across the continent, with a view to building synergies among all concerned.   About the new members of the Panel of the Wise: The new members of the Panel of the Wise were elected by the AU Summit held in Malabo, on 26 and 27 June 2014. These are: a) for North Africa, Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi from Algeria – Mr. Brahimi held senior positions in his country, notably as Ambassador to several countries, from 1963 to 1979, and Foreign Minister, from 1991 to 1993. He also held senior positions in the League of Arab States and the United Nations, including as Special Envoy; b) for West Africa, Mr. Edem Kodjo from Togo. Mr. Kodjo has been Finance and Foreign Minister from 1976 to 1978, as well as Prime Minister, from 1994 to 1996. He also served as Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity, from 1978 to 1983; c) for Central Africa, Dr. Albina Faria Assis Pereira Africano from Angola. Dr. Africano has been Minister of Petroleum from 1992 to 1999 and Minister of Industry from 1999 to 2000. She also held the position of Special Advisor to the President for Regional Affairs; d) for East Africa, Dr. Spesiosa Wandira from Uganda. Dr. Wandira has been Minister of Gender and Community Development from 1991 to 1994, Member of Parliament and, from 1994 to 2003, Vice-President of Uganda. She also chaired the African Women Committee on Peace and Development; and e) for Southern Africa, Dr. Luisa Diogo from Mozambique. Dr. Diogo held several ministerial portfolios. She was Deputy Minister of Finance, then Planning and Finance Minister. From 2004 to 2010, she was Prime Minister.  ]]>

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What I don't accept is interference – President Paul Kagame, Rwanda
July 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

Paul Kagame President, Rwanda. Photo©Vincent Fournier for TAR Paul Kagame President, Rwanda. Photo©Vincent Fournier for TAR[/caption] In a frank interview on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the genocide, President Kagame talked about its repercussions, regional politics and the end of his last term as leader in 2017. The Africa Report : Twenty years after the genocide, do you think the world outside Rwanda has finally come to terms with what happened? President Paul Kagame: Unfortunately, no. The image portrayed on the outside is that of a genocide that fell from the sky without any causes or consequences, where responsibilities are multiple, muddled and diluted. It’s a kind of epiphenomenon.

Could this lack of understanding be due to the fact that this carnage was carried out by people living together in the same community – a situation unique in modern history? Without a doubt. Our experience was different to that of other people. This led to specific responses, which are often complicated to explain.Even though today it remains a taboo subject, we must not forget the key role some Western powers played, not only in the historical roots but also in the unfolding of the genocide. Today, it is these same Western powers alone who lay down the rules of good governance and set the standards for democracy. They would like Rwanda to be a normal country as though nothing happened, which would have the advantage for them of making people forget their own role in the massacre, but that’s impossible. Take the French: twenty years later, the only reproach admissable in their eyes is that they didn’t do enough to save lives during the genocide. That’s a fact, but it hides the main point: the direct role of Belgium and France in the political preparation of the genocide and the participation of the latter in its very execution. Complicity or participation? Both! Ask the survivors of the Bisesero massacre in June 1994 and they will tell you what the French military in Opération Turquoise did there. In Bisesero and in the whole area designated a ‘humanitarian safe zone’ they were not only accomplices but perpetrators as well. Another reason why it’s difficult to understand what happened is that you stand out as a very different head of state. Are you aware of this? I have no idea. If there is a difference, it would be due to my experience and my country’s unique history, but in terms of development and governance we’re facing the same challenges as all Africans. Though your social and economic achievements have been unanimously applauded, the same cannot be said for democracy in Rwanda. What democracy are you referring to? If I were to believe what the West feeds us, democracy is for and by the people: its expressions, its sentiments, its choices. However in Rwanda, when the population freely ex- press its choices, the same people hit back saying: ‘No, you’re mistaken, your decisions are not good for you.’
As long as we don’t adopt the model of democracy they have defined for us, we are doing the wrong thing. This attitude has a name, it’s called intolerance or refusal to accept differences. When I see that elsewhere in Africa their conception of democracy is compatible with corruption, tribalism, nepotism and in some cases chaos as long as they manage to keep up appearances, I tell myself that we definitely don’t share the same view. Do you believe for a second that the social and economic achievements you mentioned could have been accomplished without the participation of Rwandans and against their will? Dignity, unity, the right to start a business, the right to education and to health and integrity are among our key democratic values. No one is in a better position than we are to know our needs and the ways to achieve them. The outside world had better get used to that because we are not going to change. Your term of office ends in 2017, and the constitution prevents you from running again. Where do you stand on that? I’ve always said I will respect the constitution. Nevertheless, I would like to point out that a constitution is nothing other than an expression of the will of the people at one moment and in a given context. All over the world, in the oldest democracies as in newer ones, fundamental laws are subject to constant changes, revisions and amendments in the interests of the citizens concerned. Concerning presidential term limits, for example? On this point, as in others, I don’t know. It’s not up to me, and I am not the writer of the constitution. Why this obsession with me? The only thing you should keep in mind is that I respect the constitution and I will continue to do so. Anything else is not my concern. How do you explain that not a single Rwandan believes you will step down in 2017? Is it because they’re assuming I want to stay in power or they are expressing a wish on their part? You should put the question to them. One thing is sure: ultimately, if this type of proposal were to be submitted to me by the people, I would have to decide. It’s difficult to picture you as a 60-year-old retiree, sitting in your Muhazi lake ranch watching over your cows… Why not? I can easily see myself in that picture. Since oppositionist Patrick Karegeya’s assassination and the attack on Kayumba Nyamwasa’s villa in South Africa, your relationship with Pretoria has been stormy. You met President Jacob Zuma in Luanda on 25 March. What did you say to each other? Our discussions were not focused on this issue, but we obviously touched on the subject. My opinion is clear: obtaining asylum in a country implies a duty of discretion and a ban on carrying out subversive activities against your country of origin. So it’s not the right to asylum I’m questioning as such, but the freedom and even high-level complicity that some of these self-exiles in South Africa enjoy in their efforts to destabilise Rwanda and promote terrorism. Did you ask the South African authorities to extradite Karegeya and Nyamwasa? Obviously we did, and I have the records to prove it. These people were prosecuted and convicted in Rwanda. But Pretoria doesn’t think your justice system can offer all the guarantees of impartiality… Wrongly so. The South Africans should be careful not to give the unfortunate impression that they themselves are biased. I’m hopeful that with time South Africa’s government will realise that there’s far more to be gained from listening to us than covering up for a bunch of offenders. Diplomats were expelled on both sides. Will they be reinstated in their jobs? We are in the process of replacing them. Since Zuma arrived in power, your relationship with South Africa has deteriorated. Is it because he chose to form a strategic alliance with the Democratic Republic of Congo? I can’t answer for him. But one thing is sure: I wouldn’t advise anyone to meddle in our domestic affairs. What I’m saying applies not only to South Africa but also to Tanzania, France, Belgium, the media and the non-governmental organisations that take malevolent delight in fanning the flames of resentment. What role did you play in the assassination of Karegeya and the attack against Kayumba? None. There’s nothing, no evidence that links the state of Rwanda to these crimes. The South African authorities say they have evidence, but where is it? The only thing they really criticise us for are my own statements on the matter. It’s true that you pulled no punches… Are you surprised? I always speak my mind. Why should we cry over the fate of a man who ordered deadly grenade attacks? Regardless of whether this excites journalists. Karegeya, Nyamwasa but also former prosecutor general Gerald Gahima and former cabinet director Théogène Rudasingwa were very close allies until they became your sworn enemies. Does this worry you, these people who leave with secrets? What secrets? Compromising secrets for them, perhaps? These people held military, security, judicial or political offices in the Rwandan Patriotic Front under my command. So referring to them in terms of how close they were to me means nothing. As for their secrets, you’ve heard them. These people said all they had to say a long time ago, and it’s nothing but nonsense. I’ve noticed that while we were working together, they never once disagreed with me on anything. They only expressed disapproval the day they were relieved of their duties for reasons not related to politics. President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania incurred your wrath when he recommended opening negotiations with your opponents, including the FDLR Hutu militia. You don’t accept this view? What I don’t accept is interference. It’s inadmissible that Jakaya Kikwete and members of his government should associate themselves in any way with genocide perpetrators, and I see no reason why they should. Six months ago you launched a campaign named Ndi Umunyarwanda (I am Rwandan), which your opponents have interpreted as a way of culpabilising and humiliating the Hutu community. What is it all about? It’s very simple. The aim of this campaign is to emphasise what unites us – our Rwandanness – and eliminate what divided us, and which caused the genocide: communitarianism. Of course, this should be done with respect for our diversity. In this framework and with this aim, those who, by commission or omission, have reason to reproach themselves about the genocide will have the opportunity to express their regrets and commitment to the new Rwanda. Taking this step is purely on an individual and voluntary basis, and no one is being forced. What is your state of relations with the US? Since Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice moved on it seems you have lost your two main supporters in Washington and the State Department is now quick to criticise you. To my knowledge, there isn’t any real problem between us. It was American aircraft that brought our troops to Central Africa and our cooperation on several issues remains good. The few statements you’re referring to are answers given during interviews, they are not official statements. *Source theafricareport
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Past wrongs no excuse for failure, says Kagame
July 5, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Eugene Kwibuka* [caption id="attachment_10303" align="alignleft" width="300"]President Kagame inspects a Guard of Honour mounted by the Rwanda Defence Forces at Amahoro Stadium yesterday. Village Urugwiro. President Kagame inspects a Guard of Honour mounted by the Rwanda Defence Forces at Amahoro Stadium yesterday. Village Urugwiro.[/caption] President Paul Kagame has paid tribute to Rwandans who dedicated themselves to the struggle to liberate their country, whether on the battlefield or through grassroots education or those who gave their resources. “Today we remember all of them in a spirit of gratitude,” he said in his 20th Liberation Anniversary speech to the nation at Amahoro Stadium in Kigali yesterday. “Rwandans stand together today as a people united, liberated and focused, as never before – on attaining the future we want,” he said. Kagame said: “The losses endured by every Rwandan family strengthen our resolve to safeguard the gains we have made. But we did not work to spare Rwanda’s children from war so that they take peace for granted”. Kagame reserved a special praise for the country’s armed forces, saying they give “their all to protect our constitutional order, in close partnership with the people”. As our struggle taught us, the people’s trust is the true foundation of nation-building, he said. “I thank them for their patriotic service…” The Head of State said that Rwanda is a more unified, peaceful and focused country 20 years after Rwandans paid great sacrifices to stop the Genocide against the Tutsi. But he warned that liberation is not an end in itself but rather “an attitude that inspires everything that we do and without which we can’t succeed”. Kagame warned against the pitfall of blaming the legacy of European colonisation and past wrongs for today’s failures. “Nothing about the past is an excuse for failure, even where real wrongs were done. The countless young Rwandans and Africans I have met lack nothing. They can deliver the future we want, if we hold each other accountable for it.” In attendance were Presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Salva Kirr Mayardit of South Sudan, Burundian First Vice-President Prosper Bazombanza, Mama Maria Nyerere, the widow of the late Tanzanian leader Julius Nyerere, among other guests from around the continent. He said Africans “tolerate mediocre implementation, even though we are very capable people, and avoid taking responsibility, even though it is we who pay the price for failure.” Kagame, who led the Rwanda Patriotic Army to the historic July 4, 1994 triumph, effectively bringing to an end the Genocide against the Tutsi, said even as the liberators embarked on an armed struggle to liberate the country they were cognizant of the need for Africa to reclaim its dignity. He challenged Rwandan and African youth in general to rise to the occasion and carry on with the liberation struggles. “Soon enough, they will have to step up and take responsibility. We must ensure that they are ready.”   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SLli-eh_Dw Liberation events were held across the country and in Rwandan communities across the world. In Kigali, the day began with the unveiling of the Campaign Against Genocide Monument at the Parliamentary Buildings in Kimihurura, where the 3 battalion of the Rwanda Patriotic Army stayed for months just as the Juvenal Habyarimana regime prepared the Genocide. These 600 soldiers would later play a key role in rescuing people around Kigali when the killings were set in motion on the night of April 6, 1994, moments after Habyarimana was assassinated by extremists within his ruling MRND party to create the excuse for genocide. This RPA battalion went on to secure the Amahoro stadium – the venue for yesterday’s national Liberation event – which hosted refugees from around Kigali as then government soldiers and Interahamwe militia continued to comb the capital, killing their targets. Thousands of people who attended the ceremonies at the Amahoro stadium yesterday were wowed by the Armed Forces parade and performances, which attracted able-bodied servicemen and women as well as war casualties in wheelchairs. Young Rwandans also recited a poem that expressed gratitude and admiration for the country’s liberation heroes. Rwandan artistes also performed songs celebrating the country’s rebirth, with pledges such as “you won’t miss anything Rwanda.” Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is also current chairperson of the East African Community, the five-nation region group which Rwanda subscribes to, pledged his country and EAC’s continued support to the people of Rwanda. “Our delay and inaction in your hour of need are a standing reproach. We could have done more, sooner,” he said in reference to the failure by the region and the international community to stop the Genocide, which would claim the lives of more than a million people in 100 days. He added: “We work together to strengthen regional security in the knowledge that peace is the fundamental demand of our citizens, in whose absence all our works turn to ash,” Kenyatta said. As part of a raft of integration deals, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda and Kenya this year signed two key pacts to strengthen mutual cooperation in the areas of defence and security as a way of protecting socio-economic gains made. In a message of solidarity read out by Rwanda’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit extended well wishes from the people of the world’s newest nation, where Rwanda maintains more than 1,600 peacekeepers. See also, Kagame and Kenyatta’s speeches during Rwanda’s Liberation day *newtimes]]>

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