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Southern Cameroons International Conference Starts Tomorrow
October 29, 2020 | 0 Comments

It’s finally here. The International Conference on the Armed Conflict in the Southern Cameroons starts tomorrow October 30th and we could not be more excited. 

If you have not yet registered, you should do so today as it promises to be an incredible event!

Though initially planned for March 2020, the COVID pandemic forced us to re-schedule and convert to a virtual event. Our planning team has been working very hard over the past few months to put together a virtual event that would allow significant deliberation and opportunities to interact with other conference delegates and observers. For example, our virtual Southern Cameroons Auditorium is designed such that you can engage with other participants throughout the conference.

Amongst those scheduled to speak during this 3-day Conference are H.E. Dr Amos Sawyer, Ambassador Herman Cohen, Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh, Pa Augustine Ndangam, Frontline leaders, Civil Society, German Parliamentarians and French Parliamentarians. International observers will be present including the United States Congress, diplomats, international non-governmental organizations and many more.

With the strong enthusiasm for this Conference we already have over 700 Delegates approved to participate in Working Groups. Through the various Working Groups, Delegates will assess, analyze and propose a path out of the conflict that addresses the root causes in a sustainable manner.

There has been a very strong grassroots involvement with ordinary citizens, those internally displaced and refugees participating in the process. 

We continue to accept 2-minute video statements from Southern Cameroonians with proposals on the way forward. Kindly record a 2-minute video using your cell phone and send to this WhatsApp number: +13126177280

We need to have all voices heard. If you will like to make a Floor Statement, signup here:

 
We look forward to engaging with you tomorrow. Sincerely, 
Denis Foretia, MD MPH MBA
Co-Chair, Steering Committee  

Judith Nwana, MBA MSc MCIPS
Co-Chair, Steering Committee

*Source Coalition For Dialogue and Negotiation
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Africa Shines at the 31st FAO Regional Conference for African Ministerial Session Hosted by President Mnangagwa
October 28, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu

President Mnangagwa
President Mnangagwa

The 31st Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO] -Regional Conference for Africa Ministerial session which kicked on in Harare hosted and done on a virtual platform and coordinated from Ghana Regional office working with head offices in Italy Rome.

It drew 80 Ministers and Deputy Ministers from 45 countries in the African Region. Also invited were Agriculture civil society organizations, private sector in Agriculture and members from observer countries. The Agricultural and Rural Transformation in Africa conference has the theme ..Promoting Inclusive Agri-Business and Regional Integration for attainment of Sustainable Development Goals …

President Emmerson Mnangagwa addressed delegates on Tuesday 27 October this week urging African countries to rally behind Sustainable Agriculture and rural transformation in the region so as to promote development of Agro-based industries. He noted that Intra-Trade in Agriculture is the way-forward in addressing food production and productivity meant to address food security issues so as to end hunger and poverty.

‘’Agriculture and rural transformation in Africa must be a priority area of concern in terms of Agricultural and Economic development to end, hunger and poverty in Africa especially during this climate change era’’.

‘’ This is only possible through the promotion of inclusive Agriculture Business and Regional Integration for attainment of Sustainable Development Goals. Our main thrust is to push for effort in alleviating effects of climate change so as to win on Sustainable Development Goal 2 on Zero Hunger by 2030. Secondly to meet African Union targets on food security and nutrition. by 2025.’’

President Mnangagwa highlighted on the need for new mechanisms in the development of new Agricultural technologies that boost large scale Agricultural productivity. He further pointed out that digitalization of Africa in Agriculture is the only way to adapt to changes and adopt policies and strategies that propel the strengthening of Agricultural systems. Road and Air networks, he stretches a point are an infrastructure meant to connect rural to urban in-order to develop Agriculture for economic transformation.

‘’Africa has potential in Agriculture if it reinforces mechanisms that link technologies and digitalization of Agriculture of economic transformation. This is possible through regional integration in Agriculture and regional economic community’s co-operation. This results in Agri-based industrial growth and development of Africa.’’

FAO Director General Qu-Dongyu said Agriculture systems transformation must address socio-political, economic and environmental concerns at the heart of the people of Africa. The development must match with the Malabo Declaration on Agriculture that has a holistic framework of Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Program.

‘’Agriculture systems transformation must address socio-political, economic and environmental concerns in Africa. This shows commitment to the Malabo Declaration on Agricultural Transformation with the framework of comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Plan.

‘’A frica remains a threat to Climate -Change of which we need to fight through mitigation and adaptation in order to remain sustainable. We have had challenges in Africa. These are a big threat as we move on but let us remain vigilant to some disasters that may come.’’

‘’Africa needs modalities to fight Climate-Change in order to over come several challenges related to food-security. This can be done through mobilization of resources to come up with innovation that suits an environment meant to promote Agriculture. Mechanisms must be in place to move towards an Agricultural modernization that has production and productivity for economic growth.’’ , he concluded .

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Insight Into Biden-Harris Agenda for African Diaspora
October 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

-From U.S. – Africa Policy to Immigration, Economy, Education and Healthcare, AD4Biden upbeat on dividends of historic partnership

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Biden will bring to the presidency decades of foreign policy experience and a demonstrated commitment to Africa, says the Biden-Harris agenda for Africa
Biden will bring to the presidency decades of foreign policy experience and a demonstrated commitment to Africa, says the Biden-Harris agenda for Africa

As the Democratic Party seeks to recapture the White House, one of the voting blocs that it is counting on is the African diaspora. The importance attached to the bloc is highlighted in the Biden -Harris Agenda for the African Diaspora, an ambitious policy statement on how some of the core issues of interest will be addressed.

“The African diaspora community is one of America’s most diverse communities, inclusive of people who speak multiple languages, come from different socioeconomic backgrounds, and practice various faiths. While unique on some fronts, culturally, people of African descent also share similar values: supporting their families, creating opportunities for their communities, and contributing to America’s growth and prosperity. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris share these values and know that the next administration must understand what the current one does not: in America, no matter where you start in life or where your parents were born, there should be no barriers to your success and no limits to what you can achieve. As president and vice president, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will rebuild our country in a way that brings everyone along,” the policy statement reads in its introduction.

On U.S. – Africa Policy, the agenda states that, “Biden will bring to the presidency decades of foreign policy experience and a demonstrated commitment to Africa. He will renew the United States’ mutually respectful engagement toward Africa with a bold strategy that reaffirms our commitment to supporting democratic institutions on the continent; advancing lasting peace and security; promoting economic growth, trade, and investment; and supporting sustainable development.”

Going further, the platform says if elected, Biden will advance these objectives by:

Asserting America’s commitment to shared prosperity, peace and security, democracy, and governance as foundational principles of U.S.-Africa engagement. 

Restoring and reinvigorating diplomatic relations with African governments and regional institutions, including the African Union.

Ensuring the U.S. Government and U.S. Foreign Service reflect the rich composition of the American citizenry, including African diaspora professionals, and

Continuing the Young African Leaders Initiative and deepening America’s commitment to engage with Africa’s dynamic young leaders. 

From immigration, to the economy, healthcare and education, the Biden -Harris ticket also proposes a laundry list of things or reforms that could have significant impact on the African diaspora.

“Since the 1970s, the African immigrant population in the United States has roughly doubled every decade. Through employment and educational exchange programs, many African immigrant communities have flourished in the United States, building a new generation of highly educated and socially conscious Africans throughout our country. Representing nearly 2 million first-generation Americans, it is one of the fastest growing immigrant groups,” the Biden -Harris ticket notes.

 “As president, Biden will immediately do away with the Trump administration’s inhumane immigration policies,” The platform also expressly indicates commitment to :

-Preserving the longstanding principle of our immigration system to reunite families and enhance our diversity,

-Keeping families together by providing a roadmap to citizenship for nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants, including Dreamers,

-Reversing the travel bans aimed at decreasing legal immigration to the U.S., including the Muslim travel ban which has severely impacted Nigerian, Sudanese, Somalian, and other diaspora communities, and

Restoring America’s historic commitment as a place of refuge for those fleeing war or persecution. 

Harping on education, the platform expresses cognizance of the fact that the African diaspora sees this as a gateway to employment and economic security. In addition to proposing a comprehensive plan to invest in children’s education from birth through 12th grade, as well as for educating and training Americans beyond high school, as President, Biden says he support educators by giving them the pay and respect they deserve. His campaign is also pledging to ensure that zip code, income, race and disability are not determining factors in the ability of children to access education. In what may be music to the ears of many, the democratic ticket is making a commitment to handle student loan debt, while supporting historic Black Colleges, Universities and Minority serving Institutions.

“Members of the African diaspora have bravely stood on the front lines fighting against COVID-19. Many are the doctors and nurses who have been treating the infected and compassionate nursing home staff who have been caring for the elderly,” the platform notes in acknowledgement of the important but often ignored role of the African diaspora in fighting the pandemic.

The Biden-Harris ticket says it will ensure front line workers receive appropriate personal protective equipment, get appropriate COVID-19 testing based on their risk of exposure. The campaign wants access to free COVID 19 testing, and the vaccine when one becomes available.

“The adoption of AD4Biden‘s policy recommendations is yet another affirmation of the Biden-Harris Campaign’s commitment to equity and inclusion of the African Diaspora communities into political process,” says Philomena Desmond, Co-chair of AD4Biden. Describing the move as unprecedented, Philomena Desmond said this is why our community will turn out in record numbers to vote for Biden-Harris and down-ballot Democratic tickets.”

According to Amb Micheal Battle, “Vice President Biden and Senator Harris have put the African Diaspora at the center of their African Agenda.”

Battle, a Theologian and former U.S Ambassador to the AU and ECA , goes further to say “they are committed to promoting peace and prosperity in Africa,  and more importantly to building a mutually beneficial partnership with African nations.” 

To Aisha Biro Diallo, who co-chairs both VA and Washington DC Women for Joe  Biden & Kamala  Harris and African Women for Biden -Harris , “we are united behind Joe Biden and Kamara Harris because of their integrity, compassion, unrivaled experience, leadership and commitment to supporting women issues and promoting democracy”

Pastor Ghandi Olaoye of Jesus House DC, who recently convened over 150 Pastors to deliberate on the upcoming elections, says that “in Vice President Biden, we see the type of leadership America needs in order to heal. Joe Biden has the quality to unite our communities, restore justice, equity and fairness to all. He will bring decency back to the presidency and truth to leadership”

With voting already underway for the elections officially scheduled for November 3, the Biden -Harris ticket is working hard to earn the vote of the African diaspora with outreach events on schedule for the remainder of the campaigns.

Though he may not have any specific policies towards Africa or its diaspora, a group of Congolese has cast their lot with President Trump. The group has so far not responded to media questions

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Cameroon: Coalition For Dialogue Announces Advisory Board Formation
October 15, 2020 | 0 Comments

Board of distinguished leaders to support the Steering Committee and provide guidance towards ending the escalating armed conflict in the Southern Cameroons

14th October 2020 – (London | Berlin | Washington D.C) – The Coalition for Dialogue and Negotiations today announced the launch of its newly formed strategic committee of trusted advisors. This Advisory Board includes well renowned leaders whose focus will be to shape and guide the strategy of the Coalition, working closely with the Steering Committee. 

The new Board includes Former Liberian President H.E Amos Sawyer, Former United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Ambassador Herman J. Cohen; Former Resident Representative for Sierra Leone & Liberia of the African Development Bank Dr. Margaret Kilo; Former U.S. Ambassador to Liberia and Uganda Ambassador Deborah Malac; Senior Associate and Regional Director National Democratic Institute Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh; and Founders of Pave The Way Foundation Gary and Meredith Krupp.

“We are very honored to have such a distinguished team join us in actively seeking an end to the escalating armed conflict in the Southern Cameroons that addresses the root causes of the conflict” said Dr. Denis Foretia, Co-Chair of the Coalition for Dialogue and Negotiations. “We will continue to do all we can to stop the humanitarian disaster unfolding in the country.”

Brief biographies can be found below:

Professor Amos C. Sawyer

His Excellency Amos Sawyer
Former President of Liberia
 
Professor Amos C. Sawyer has worked tirelessly for peace and the establishment of democratic governance and development in his home country, Liberia, as well in several other African countries. He was Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Commission in Liberia bringing Liberia back to constitutional rule after the 1980 military coup and was Interim President of Liberia from 1990 to 1994 during Liberia’s civil war. He has served as Chairman, Panel of Eminent Persons of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) of The African Union and has led several elections observation and peacebuilding missions on behalf of ECOWAS and the African Union. He is a distinguished scholar with an impressive record of publications and other academic achievements. 

Ambassador Cohen
Ambassador Herman J. Cohen 
Former United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
 
Ambassador Cohen is a retired career diplomat and specialist in African and European affairs. Cohen retired from the U.S. Department of State in 1993. His last position was assistant secretary of state for African affairs under President George H.W. Bush (1989-1993). During his 38-year career with the U.S. Foreign Service, he served in five African countries and twice in France. He was the ambassador to Senegal, with dual accreditation to the Gambia, from 1977 to 1980. During assignments in Washington, he also served as special assistant to President Ronald Reagan (1987-1989), principal deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and research, and principal deputy assistant secretary for personnel. 
Yaah Maggie Kilo 
Yaah Maggie Kilo (PhD) 
Former Resident Representative Sierra Leone & Liberia – African Development Bank
 
Yaah Maggie Kilo holds an MA in Sociology of Education from the London University Institute of Education, and a PhD in International Development Education from Stanford University School of Education. She served her country as an educator and a researcher for many years prior to joining the international development community. In 1998, she joined the services of the African Development Bank, where she has held several positions in both Country Operations and Policy Review. Between 2006 and 2008 she served as the Bank’s Resident Representative in Sierra Leone and was later appointed to head the newly established Fragile States Unit. In August 2011, she was transferred from Tunis, Tunisia to Monrovia, Liberia as Resident Representative of the African Development Bank in Liberia, a position which she held until her retirement in 2017. H.E. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf awarded her Liberia’s highest non-national civilian medal: Dame Commander in the Most Venerable Order of Knighthood of the Pioneers of the Republic of Liberia 

Ambassador Deborah Malac 

Ambassador Deborah Malac 
Former U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, Uganda
Former Director of the Office of East African Affairs at the U.S. State Department 

 
Ambassador Deborah Malac spent over 38 years as a Career Member of the U.S. Foreign Service, representing the U.S. and advancing U.S. interests abroad. Most recently, Ambassador Malac served as Ambassador to Uganda (2016-2020). Prior to that posting, she was Ambassador to Liberia (2012-2015). Ambassador Malac began her career in Yaounde, Cameroon, and subsequently served overseas in South Africa, Thailand, Senegal and Ethiopia, as well as multiple assignments in the Department of State in Washington, DC, most focused on sub-Saharan Africa. Ambassador Malac retired from the Department of State in January 2020.

Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh

 Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh 
Senior Associate and Regional Director National Democratic Institute (NDI) Washington, DC 
 
Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh is the Senior Associate and Regional Director for Central and West Africa programs at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. He has organized and advised international election observation missions in various African countries. He has also designed and supervised country specific democracy support programs with civic organizations, political parties and legislative bodies across Africa. He designed and helped launch the African Statesmen Initiative (ASI), a program aimed at facilitating political transitions in Africa by encouraging former democratic heads of state to engage in humanitarian, mediation, election monitoring and other democratic consolidation activities. Dr. Fomunyoh makes frequent guest appearances on major radio and television networks. He has published several articles in academic journals on African politics and democratization. He holds a Licence en Droit from Yaoundé University in Cameroon, a master’s degree (LL.M.) in international law from Harvard Law School; and a Ph.D. in political science from Boston University. He is a former adjunct faculty of African politics and government, at Georgetown University, and at the African Center for Strategic Studies. He is also the founder of a nonprofit organization that supports democracy and humanitarian causes in Cameroon

Gary and Meredith Krupp

Gary and Meredith Krupp 
Founders of Pave The Way Foundation 
 
Gary and Meredith Krupp are the Founders of Pave The Way Foundation (PTWF) – a not-for-profit organization founded in 2002 to initiate cultural, educational and technological exchanges between religions, facilitating gestures of goodwill. PTWF identifies non-theological obstacles in the diplomatic and political arena, unraveling and eliminating the barriers of disinformation that serve to stoke distrust between religions. Working quietly behind the scenes, PTWF talks to people who will not talk to each other, consequently, PTWF is the most effective organization in the world “that no one has ever heard of”. Mr. Krupp is the highest- ranking Jewish person in the Catholic Church. Gary Krupp was made a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Gregory the Great by Pope John Paul II, only the seventh Jew to be so honored. 

*Source Coalition For Dialogue and Negotiations

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African countries should structure post covid plans around the AfCFTA – Former Liberian Minister B. Elias Shoniyin
October 13, 2020 | 3 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

The more we can invest in our people, the more the future of Africa will be assured, says Shoniyin
The more we can invest in our people, the more the future of Africa will be assured, says Shoniyin

It is important that African countries be encouraged to formulate their post-COVID recovery plans around the opportunity of African Continental Free Trade Agreement-AfCFTA, says B Elias Shoniyin, a professional in international affairs, development and policy.

Shoniyin, a Liberian national who occupied key government positions in the administrations of Sirleaf Johnson, and George Weah, says the AfCFTA will embolden African countries to invest more in areas of comparative advantage, where they have maximum potentials.

Discussing the African response to COVID 19 with Pan African Visions-PAV, Shoniyin lauded the prompt response across the continent despite well-known limitations. In Liberia, while the experience acquired in previous battles with the Ebola virus continues to be useful, he urged the government of President George Weah to seek and bring in more expertise.

On the future, Shoniyin urges African governments to invest more in its people.

“I believe the most valuable asset of Africa is its people. Natural resources underground are not what make a people great; the capacity of the people to harness those resources makes them great. Our foremost challenge in Africa today is the limited capacity of our people. The more we can invest in our people, the more Africa’s future will be assured,” says Shoniyin.

Thanks for accepting to grant us this interview, we start with COVID 19, how is the situation like in Liberia?

B. Elias Shoniyin: Clearly, COVID 19 is global and every country on the earth has been affected – be it, by the extent of the virus infection rate or the deteriorating economic condition resulting from the pandemic. Liberia, bringing to bear its experience with the Ebola outbreak in 2014 to 2015, quickly built on and redeployed the health measures to protect our communities. As of now, we have officially recorded 1,321 COVID 19 cases, 1196 recovery and 82 death.

What do you make of the way the government of President George Weah has handled the pandemic in Liberia?

B. Elias Shoniyin: Noting the limited capacity of the George Weah Government, they are continuing to make efforts. Clearly, a lot more is required to fully address the pandemic; therefore, the Government is encouraged to seek and bring on board more professional expertise available in Liberia.

The outbreak of COVID 19 comes a few years after the outbreak of Ebola, are there any useful lessons from the Ebola episode that have been useful or could be better put to use in providing a better response to COVID 19 in your country?

B. Elias Shoniyin: There are many similarities between how Ebola and COVID 19 are transmitted. The obvious differences are COVID is a lot more contagious but less deadly than Ebola. As soon as the first known COVID 19 case was reported in Liberia, the dormant structures established during the Ebola outbreak were immediately reactivated. Strict social and public health measures were taken, including mass awareness, isolation of infected persons, and effective contact tracing. Many Liberians were skeptical of the government of Liberia’s initial handling of the virus, prompting fears of its prevalence. However, we are happy that society’s awareness drawn from the Ebola experience has contributed hugely to constraining social behavior resulting to the low number of COVID cases.

Liberia is now enduring a difficult period with all the economic and social indicators in the reverse ,says Shoniyin who served in two administrations
Liberia is now enduring a difficult period with all the economic and social indicators in the reverse ,says Shoniyin who served in two administrations

As someone who follows developments across Africa closely, what appraisal do you make of how African countries have fared in the fight against COVID 19, what are some of the positives and negatives that you see in some of the responses?

B. Elias Shoniyin: Generally, the response of many African countries to the pandemic was prompt. We are aware of our limitations in available financial and human resources, and the weaknesses in our health care systems; therefore, the most sensible reaction was what we did; that is, prevention. Measures to prevent the spread of the virus was the first and most emphasized course of action by many countries.

The President of Madagascar has touted a remedy called Covid Organics as an antidote to COVID-19, while the WHO has been skeptical about it, many Africans and African leaders have embraced it, where do you stand on initiatives like those of President Rajoelina which seek to make Africa part of the solution ?

B. Elias Shoniyin: I believe in the promise of Africa. Finding African solutions to problems that affect Africa should be supported by all Africans, but not blindly and on sentimental basis. while lauding the efforts of Madagascar to find an African solution to the covid crisis in Africa, I think it became unnecessarily political. when it comes to matters of medical concerns, it should be dealt with scientifically. there was no evidence or scientific data to confirm the potency/efficacy of the Covid organics, but many Africans went ahead to celebrate its discovery. I thought that was too early. As I said earlier, I laud Madagascar for the bold efforts. They should not be discouraged. Africa will continue trying to improve and evidentially confirm our discoveries.

In follow up to that , there has a passionate debate about the issues of vaccines for COVID 19 with people fearful that Africans will be used as “guinea pigs,” what is your take on this, what are some of the pros and cons that governments should consider before making a decision concerning vaccines?

B. Elias Shoniyin: I know Africans are haunted by a history of distrust, imperialism, and exploitation, in our engagement with the West. These are legacies of past relationship with the West that have remained the main cause of the modern-day suspicion by Africans. Despite the legitimacy of the suspicion, I see opportunities. The sad reality is Africa has not yet developed the competitive advantage for high-level scientific capacity and facilities to drive medical research to solve most of the World’s problems. Even though we do contribute in a modest way to solving some of these problems, the West remains dominant in scientific research, and thus, most of the medical discoveries are derived from Western countries. I think we should put our scientists and medical researchers to work to confirm the composition and safety of the COVID vaccines, and do not simply reject them, leaving more than a billion persons to face the Corona Virus threat on their own.

Let’s talk more about the Ministerial functions that you, occupied, how did you find yourself in government at such a relatively young age and what was the experience like working under President Sirleaf Johnson?

B. Elias Shoniyin: Prior to my public service life, I worked in the nonprofit sector for many years, starting at the young age of eighteen. In 2005 I encountered Ellen Johnson and was profoundly inspired by her advocacy, courage, and professional accomplishments. Later, that same year, I joined her campaign for the presidency of Liberia, developing campaign strategies and training modules for mobilizers. Following her election and subsequent inauguration as the first female President of Liberia – Africa, I was appointed at the Foreign Ministry as Assistant Minister for International Cooperation and Economic Affairs. That portfolio launched my international affairs and diplomatic profession, which has now spanned almost fourteen years. I have felt very lucky and blessed for the opportunity not only to serve with President Sirleaf, but also with other extraordinary personalities with long and distinguished professi0nal tenures, including Ambassador George w. Wallace, who was the Foreign Minister then; Ambassador Carlton Carpeh, Amb. T. Ernest Eastman (Fmr. Foreign Minister), Amb. William V.S. Bull, Olubanke King-Akerele (Fmr. Foreign Minister), Dr. Toga Mcintosh (Fmr. Foreign Minister), Amb. Sylvester Grigsby, and many others.

My time at the Foreign Ministry, working in the shadow of President Ellen Johnson, at a critical time of post-conflict recovery, state-building, and reconstruction of Liberia, profoundly shaped my world view and my development perspective. For President Sirleaf, preparing the generation after her for both government and corporate leadership was a key feature of her Administration. She was always intentional for seeking young talents and preparing them for national service.  I learned a lot from her, both ethically and professionally. No doubt, she is a towering figure.

B Elias Shoniyin is urging African countries to anchor their post COVID 19 recovery plans around the AfCFTA
B Elias Shoniyin is urging African countries to anchor their post COVID 19 recovery plans around the AfCFTA

After the departure of President Johnson, you served under President Weah as well before resigning, first what was the difference in vision for Liberia for both leaders, and what prompted you to resign?

B. Elias Shoniyin: I do recall in 2006, President Sirleaf inherited an entirely broken country, after fourteen years of devastating civil wars. She assumed leadership of Liberia with a clear vision of what was required to ignite transformative recovery. She had her eyes fixed on her goal of setting Liberia on an irreversible course to development. In this effort, she was prepared to make arduous decisions, even if it meant, working contrary to her Party’s expectations. In her twelve years, two terms leadership, emphasis was placed on Human capacity, building strong and sustainable institutions,

I relish the opportunity to have been called upon by President George Weah to serve with him immediately following his election, affording me the distinguished honor of serving in two successive administrations in post-conflict Liberia. I believe he has had good intentions for Liberia, but his limited professional experience may have held him hostage to delivering on his promise to the people of Liberia. He is trying to take some practical steps towards achieving key objectives, but it has been an uphill battle, with the strong partisan centered government he currently has going. Unfortunately, many of the key operatives of his party (Congress for Democratic Change) lack the requisite education, experience, and technical competence required to adequately get the job done. He has found himself caught between the difficult options of recruiting competences outside of his Party to get the job done, and running a government of tragical incompetence, but fiercely loyal partisans who spent most of their working hours attacking his critics on social media but performing decimally in their government duties.

My resignation as Deputy Foreign Minister of Liberia, in May 2020 was prompted by consistent policy and value incompatibilities. I served my country with dedication and respect for nearly fourteen years and I thought it was time to move on, and I did.

May we know some of the significant challenges that you faced while in government, and in terms of significant accomplishments, what are some that come to mind?

B. Elias Shoniyin: Like many other countries in Africa, public service in Liberia is truly difficult. Not by the responsibilities of the office, but more of navigating the deeply personally driven political space.  There were many challenges encountered in the course of my public service, including professional, ethical, and several attempts to blackmail me. Example of some of the most significant professional and technical challenges were the low human capacity mainly at the low and middle levels in government institutions due to the politicization of the system. Dominantly, most of those who entered or sought government appointments were motivated by the personal acquisition of public wealth and for unfair advantage over others. There were almost at all time, personal interest involved when getting tasks done. These self-interested actions slowed momentum, killed morale, and stymied productivity, making it difficult to derive the maximum results from the government’s actions. Despite these challenges, the inspiration, courage, and out of the box thinking ,President Sirleaf spurred, emboldened me and many others on her team to put in an average of fourteen hours a day in achieving the objectives of the post-conflict recovery programs. When we assumed office in 2006, the depth of the quagmire before us was scary – there was nothing that did not require fixing – the entire socioeconomic fabric of society was in shambles; from pipe bourn water to infrastructure (roads, ports, energy , education system, health system, massive unemployment, democratic structures, mindset, and a lot more. Looking back, I am proud of what we together achieved as a country. There is still a lot to be done in Liberia’s development drive; however, when one looks at from where we come, the new do appreciate where we are.

There are many who believe that besides handing over power after twelve years, there was very little that the government of President Sirleaf Johnson did to better the lot of Liberians, on hindsight, do you believe that there was more or room for that administration that you were part of to do more?

B. Elias Shoniyin: Criticism that President Sirleaf did not do much in her twelve-year tenure to bring about development in Liberia is unfair and latently motivated. President Sirleaf’ inherited a country severely battered by fourteen years of fratricide violence. Sirleaf’s administration did remarkably well with restoring Liberia to its prewar status. Considering the extent of the challenges she inherited, and where she left the country at the time of her turnover, I hail her for great work. A few examples of her Presidential accomplishment are as follows: She inherited a budget of 83M in 2006 and left almost US$600M; she inherited a reserve of US$6.5M and left US$154.8M; she successfully negotiated and secured cancellation of more than US$4.9B external debt; she inherited an unpaid wage bill of 36 months to civil servants, and cleared it all in five years, raised salaries by more than 2500 percent; she inherited an energy generation capacity of Zero megawatt and we left 126MW excluding electricity in some rural communities from the West African Power Pool (WAPP)  and the CLSG; she inherited a rundown airport and left a new Terminal and runway; she inherited dilapidated and/or limited roads, which she rehabilitated and constructed more than 800km of paved excluding the ongoing Karloken- Harper high way and the Gbarnga to Menikorma High way in Liberia; reconstruction and rehabilitation of many bridges including the Johnson Street and Waterside-Vai Town bridges; 2,103 public schools rehabilitated or constructed, furnished and staffed; five community colleges established in Grand Bassa, Bomi, Bong, Grand Gedeh, Lofa and Nimba Counties; construction of the Jackson F.Doe Hospital in Tapeta, Nimba County, and construction and rehabilitation of several hundreds clinic and hospitals including JFK Medical Center in Monrovia, and Phebe Hospital in Gbarnga, Bong County; and many more.

Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, the African Continental Free Trade Agreement was the harbinger of great hope for the continent, did you share in that optimism and can you situate the importance of the AfCFTA in the post COVID recovery plans for Africa?

B. Elias Shoniyin: I am sure counted in the number of those optimistic of the promise of AfCFTA. AfCFTA will unlock the untapped potential of intra-Africa trade and compel African countries to increase cross-border connectivity to facilitate the movement of goods and services. AfCFTA will not only increase trade among states on the Continent; it will also attract significant FDI inflow, particularly market-seeking investors who would want to participate in the expanded market of more than 1.4 billion consumers. Once we begin to harness the opportunities of AfCFTA, the benefits of trading among African states will have a multiplier effects on promoting increased agriculture production and a lot of intermediate manufacturing by small underdeveloped states, to support largest industries on the Continent. I believe that trading among us will spur unprecedented prosperity in Africa. It is important that African countries be encouraged to formulate their post-COVID recovery plans around the opportunity of AfCFTA. AfCFTA will also embolden African countries to invest more in areas of comparative advantage, where they have maximum potentials.

We end with a word from you on the future of Liberia and Africa, what are your hopes and what are your fears?

B. Elias Shoniyin: Liberia is now enduring a difficult period. All the economic and social indicators are in the reverse, after an earlier twelve years of steady reforms and transformation. Prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, the economy was already sliding; now it seems to be in acceleration downward. The future is no doubt uncertain!

I believe in the promise of Africa, but I am aware that there is a lot of work to be done, particularly in re-orientating the mindset on how we see public service and developing the spirit of entrepreneurship. We will need to invest hugely in human capacity and infrastructure and build strong and sustainable institutions that are beyond the narrow aspirations of a few individuals. There are some countries on the Continent that are progressing very well along these lines and we are all proud of them.

I disagree every time I hear people inferring that Africa is rich – suggesting that the minerals or gems, and natural resources underground are supposed to make us rich without any efforts. I believe, the most valuable asset of Africa is its people. Natural resources underground are not what make a people great; the capacity of the people to harness those resources makes them great. Our foremost challenge in Africa today is the limited capacity of our people. The more we can invest in our people, the more Africa’s future will be assured.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to share my perspectives on my country and our Continent, Africa.

*Culled from October Issue of PAV Magazine

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EU Ambassador Lajos-EU Will Continue To Support Gambia’s Transition– Ambassador
October 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

President Adama Barrow received the outgoing European Union Ambassador to The Gambia, His Excellency Attila Lajos at the State House in Banjul on 12th October 2020.

Having spent almost five years as the EU delegate resident in the country, he was at the State House to bid farewell to the Gambian President.

Talking to the media, the Ambassador said “The Gambia’s transition ran a long way,” adding “it was remarkable that The Gambia has decided on a democratic change that the EU wanted to support since the beginning.”

He, however, stated that “transition is difficult as it is anywhere in the world but The Gambia stays on the path of democratic transformation.”

Ambassador Lajos pledged that the European Union will support the country to complete its transition as a reliable partner.

At the bilateral level, Ambassador Lajos described the relationship between the EU and The Gambia as “intense with two Presidential meetings annually,” enforcing the relationship since the 2016 Presidential elections.

During the meeting, President Barrow expressed appreciation of the support the European Union has provided to the country and its National Development Plan.

It could be recalled that the EU was amongst the first partners who committed to support the country immediately President Barrow came to Office.   It led the Donors Conference in Brussels in 2018 and provided the government with Budget support, infrastructure development, the Security Sector Reforms and most notably, the Youth Enterprise Project- YEP, which benefits many young people.

*State House Gambia

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Zimbabwean diplomat, Hilda Suka-Mafudze appointed AU Ambassador to US
October 9, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

Ambassador Hilda Suka-Mafudze.Photo Twitter

ZIMBABWE’s Ambassador to Malawi, Hilda Suka-Mafudze, has been appointed the African Union (AU) Ambassador to the United States. She replaces Arikana Chihombori-Quao who was relieved off her duties last November.

The former member of parliament who was appointed Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Malawi in 2019 by President Emmerson Mnangagwa is set to take up her duties as the AU representative in Washington DC.

Speaking to Zimbabwe mail, the newly appointed Ambassador said she will use the opportunity accorded to her to spotlight and better represent her continent Africa.

“I am humbled and appreciative to be able to represent my continent in the US…I am a true pan-Africanist and I know what we really need as Africa and where we want to be as Africans, all this is in my heart and on my fingertips,” she is quoted to have said before adding.

 “What we want as Africa is to be on the global stage as an equal with others. We have what it takes, and no one must, therefore, look down upon us. As Africa, we are at a stage where we know what we want and we obviously cannot, for example, continue to let our resources be taken as raw materials by people who by so doing are taking employment away from us.”

Quizzed on her vision for the continent, the career diplomat who also served as ambassador to Sudan said “I will contribute towards the AU vision on the intra-Africa trade and I will be alert to the need to entrench relations with the US. Let us not overlook the need for relations if we are to be competitive on the global space but that does not mean our inability to effectively manage what we have.”

Ambassador Hilda Suka-Mafudze

“I represent the African Union, my chairman (Moussa Faki Mahamat) but I must also say I am humbled by the support I got from my country, Zimbabwe, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, and his entire team.”

Promising to campaign for AU’s agenda 2063 which includes the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, Ambassador Hilda Suka-Mafudze expressed her readiness to work towards attainment of the AU vision for a better Africa.

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Historic Juba peace deal signals ‘new era of peace, new beginning in Sudan
October 6, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Chairman of Sudan’s Sovereign Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and Chadian President Idriss Deby (front, from L to R) hold aloft the peace deal in Juba, South Sudan, Oct. 3, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua)

Juba – Sudan’s transitional government and several rebel groups, the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) have signed a historic peace agreement in neighbouring South Sudan raising fresh hope for a new beginning.

The Juba peace deal aimed at ending the country’s decades of protracted conflicts that have uprooted millions and killed hundreds of thousands people in the country’s restive Darfur region, Southern Blue Nile and the Nuba Mountains.

In a cloudy weather, thousands crowd gathered at Dr. John Garang De Mabior Mausoleum, with a lot of jubilations,  to witnessed the signing ceremony that includes agreement on protocols for security, land ownership, transitional justice, power-sharing and the return of refugees.

The deal also provides for the integration of rebel forces into the Sudan armed forces, to form a unified national army whose mandate would only be to protect the people of Sudan.

Gen. Abdel Fattah Al -Burhan inked a peace deal on behalf of the Sudanese transitional government.

The factions led by Abdel Wahid, along with the SPLM-North led by Abdel Aziz Adam al-Hillu, have not signed the latest peace agreement.

The guarantors are South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, the President of Chad Marshall Idriss Dibbi, and the United Arab Emirates.

However, the War in Darfur is a major conflict that began in February 2003 when the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebel groups began fighting the government of Sudan, which they accused of oppressing Darfur’s non-Arab population.

While, conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile erupted in 2011, as South Sudan seceded from Sudan, following unresolved issues from bitter fighting there in Sudan’s 1983-2005 civil war.

Several peace initiatives including some spearheaded by the Arabs, with its most notable being the Doha Peace Agreement, have failed with both sides blaming each other for lacking will to fully implement that agreement.

Speaking during the signing ceremony, South Sudan president Salva Kiir said he is equally delighted that he has pulled off the achievement despite huge challenges facing his own country.

“Our mediation of the Sudanese conflict is primarily driven by our view of a stability in the Sudan as our own stability and by our lived experiences that have influenced us to reject violence or logic of force in disputes resolution,” said Kiir – we also see our mediation as repayment of a huge debt of gratitude we owe the Sudan for the role it played and continues to play as a member of IGAD and as a guarantor of our peace agreement.”

President Kiir also admitted that it is not going to be an easy business, especially with the economic reality facing Sudan presently to implement the deal, adding that it need really support.

“We have no illusions that the implementation of Sudan agreement that we are celebrating today will not be an easy business especially with the economic reality facing the Sudan presently, Sudan needs significance financial resources to rebuild the infrastructures destroyed by the war and floods and more importantly, to address its glaring development disparities which have always been at the root cause of its conflict,” said president Kiir. With this in mind, I therefore take this opportunity to appeal to the international community in general and Gulf Arab states in particular to make good on their pledges to support the implementation of peace agreement in Sudan.”

President Kiir has reminded Sudanese rival parties that their work is not yet done – this is not a time to relax – the tasks of peace building is still a big challenge.

For the peace to durable, comprehensive and inclusive, president Kiir said his country need to redouble its efforts to bring those opposition groups that remain outside the peace frame work.

“We also urge our Sudanese brothers and sisters to recognize that this breakthrough is the result of their own desire for peace and determination to achieve it,” said Kiir.

On the other hand, Abdel – Fattah Al – Burhan, head of the Sudan Sovereign Council, said the peace was another step in the right direction for Sudan.

“The Sudanese people are in dire need of peace to overcome the social, economic and political effects of the war. Peace is right for all the parties and for the future of the Sudanese people – we are determined not to take this country back to the times of war; we should all be on the path of peace,” said Burhan.

Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said the peace deal would open new horizons for development, progress and security.

“The people of Sudan have been waiting patiently for freedom – Sudan now had freedom and justice and we need to carry this freedom into the future,” said Hamdok.

Meanwhile, the regional heads of states, have also pledged their unwavering support to the Sudanese peace deal, described it as an act of ‘Pan Africanism.’

Ethiopian president, Sahle – Work Zewde said the Sudanese peace deal affirms the African Union slogan of ‘African Solution’ for ‘African problem.’

“Sudanese have once again demonstrated their legendary wisdom and ability in resolving their differences among themselves peaceful through dialogue,” said Zewede. “Peace in the Sudan will have a huge impact, not only for the Sudanese but for the entire region and indeed, the continent. It is a significant peace deal for our region – for peace in the Sudan is a peace in the neighborhood and beyond,” she added.

Somalia president Mohamed Abdullai Farmaajo said effective implementation of Juba peace deal has the prospect to bring lasting peace, stability and hope to Sudan and better future for the region.

“The effective implementation of Juba peace agreement has real potential to bring lasting peace, stability and hope for Sudan – with the end to hostility in Sudan – the silence of guns in this region will also mean a better future for our entire region and by extension, the whole world,” said Farmaajo.

Ugandan prime minister, Ruhakana Rugunda said his country upholds Pan Africanism as key principals to African peace and security and to economic transformation.

“The signing of the Sudanese peace agreement is a positive development, in the plan of the transitional government to bring an end to the devastating conflict in Sudan,” said Rugunda, adding that Uganda to the ongoing efforts to have Sudan removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism in order to unlock the country’s potential through improved investments and productions which will boost Sudan economy for wellbeing of the Sudanese people,” said Rugunda.

Both the United Nations and the Troika countries has welcomed the Juba peace deal signed by the Sudanese transitional government and armed movements presents a new era of peace for Sudan.

“The signing of the Juba peace agreement signals the dawn of a new era for the people of Sudan,” said Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General in a video message during the signing ceremony on Saturday. “It is a milestone on the road to achieving sustainable peace and inclusive development.”

The UN chief also commended the role played by South Sudan to mediate the peace process despite enormous challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Guterres further called on the two holdout groups to join the peace process.

“Now it is critical that this agreement translates into tangible improvement in people’s lives. As we look ahead, we know that achieving an inclusive comprehensive and countrywide peace requires having all parties at the table,” Guterres said. “I call on the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement north-on Abdulaziz al-Hilu to fully engage in negotiations, embracing the opportunity presented by the recent signing of principles alongside Prime Minister Hamdok in Addis Ababa. I also call on the Sudan Liberation Army of Abdul Wahi al-Nur to immediately join the peace process,” he added.

Guterres further noted that ensuring successful implementation of the deal will require “sustained commitment and collaboration of all parties”.

Alhadi Idris, head of Sudanese Revolutionary Front said the deal will enable refugees and internally displaced persons to return their homes.

“We will end wars in Sudan and that would mean regional and international peace and I would like to inform the Sudanese women and youth that this peace is for all of you – it is the beginning of a new life in Sudan,” said Idris. This agreement will focus on democracy, economy and livelihoods.

The agreement comes after over a year of negotiations hosted by South Sudan President Salva Kiir, in efforts to help his foe comrades in restoration of peace and stability. The Juba peace deal has a special meaning for the people of Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Niles who have been displaced by the country’s bloody 17 – year conflict.

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NDI’s Chris Fomunyoh Sounds Alarm Bells on Backsliding of Democracy in Africa
September 30, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung 

Dr. Chris Fomunyoh fears West Africa’s Democratic backslide will emulate Central African polity noted for highest concentration of world autocrats and human rights violations

Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, Senior Associate and Regional Director for Central and West Africa at the National Democratic Institute, NDI, has told the U S House of Representatives’ subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations of fears that West Africa, formally considered the harbinger of democracy in the continent might turn out just like the Central African sub-region noted for gross human rights violation, suppression of freedom of expression and the highest concentration of world autocrats.

Addressing the committee on Wednesday, September 30, 2020, Dr. Chris who has put in over twenty-five years at the NDI stated that West Africa is no longer the trailblazer it used to represent in the continent. Stating that there are now fewer democracies in Africa than was twenty years ago, Dr. Fomunyoh pointed to the fact that with Mali experiencing a military coup and the controversies of incumbent presidents in Guinea Conakry and Ivory Coast, the faith of West Africa’s democracy is swinging on a rope. 

 

“From 2019, the democratic trends have reversed with less democratic nations in Africa now than there was in the 90s,” he told the house session chaired by Karen Bass who did not fail to indict African governments for suppressing basic rights such as Tanzania whose government she faulted for using the coronavirus to suppress democratic principles. 

Dr. Fomunyoh, an internationally acclaimed political scientist cum civic advocate with vast knowledge on African politics and democracy stated that West Africa formerly seen as the model for democracy is now sliding towards a downwards trajectory with far devastating consequences should care not be taken. 

Applauding Nigeria’s strong hand in maintaining its position as the powerhouse of democracy in Africa for over two decades, the Cameroonian-born democracy expert who has mediated protest and election-related conflicts across Africa noted that the outbreak of coronavirus has further sunk democracy in the agile continent. 

“Covid-19 impeded election preparation and democracy, and has generated fears of incumbent president using powers to limit freedom of expression and shrink democratic space,” he said before praising the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS for its efforts in pushing for a civilian-led transition in Mali after the military coup that ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta. 

Answering questions from members of the committee, Dr. Fomunyoh expressed his concerns over the fact that the collapse of democratic leadership in Mali, a strong member of the G5 Sahel states that fight extremist terrorism in the Sahel might facilitate the spread of insurgency Sahel regions. 

Quizzed by the committee chair on his recommendations, Dr. Fomunyoh urged Ivorians to go into the 2020 elections and ensure that they do not make the same mistakes they did in 2010. He added that there is a need to revamp US policies and focus them on African 35 years or younger who constitution 75% of the 1.4 billion population in the continent. 

To the international community, he called for the institution of global platforms within the United Nations systems including within the UN security council to put an end to human rights violations. “Africans themselves need to build synergies, national and regional networks to consolidate best practices and enhance peer-to-peer learning and also invest in empowering women and youth as leaders to safeguard and promote better democratic performance,” he said in his recommendation to Africans. 

Another witness at the hearing, Dr. Dorina A. Bekoe of the Institute for Defense Analyses who in her talk focused on elections and political transition stated that about 65% of African elections have witness violence be it before, during, and post elections – with post-election violence being deadlier and catastrophic. To her, African states should emulate positive examples portrayed by Ghana, Senegal, Mauritius, Botswana, and South Africa in its democratic principles. 

To Jon Temin, Director of Africa Program at the Freedom House, West Africa is now of particular concern with most of its states now on a downward trajectory and citizen left to bare the groan of political backwardness.  

Joshua Meservey Senior Policy Analyst with the Heritage Foundation charged with Africa and the Middle East picked on China’s foreign policy which to him is married by illicit deeds and propagates bad governance to attack democracy in Africa.

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Burundi’s President rejects international disrespect on his country
September 25, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

President of Burundi Evariste Ndayishimiye, Tchandrou Nitanga AFP via Getty Images

President of Burundi, General Ndayishimiye Evariste has expressed anger over the disrespect his country is subjected to on international scene, for ‘political reasons and  selfish interests of certain powers’.

Ndayishimiye testified this during ongoing UN Generally assembly which is happening virtually due to coronavirus pandemic.

In June this year, Ndayishimye swore in as new president of Burundi, replacing Nkurunziza Pierre who died mysteriously in the beginning of that month.

Burundi has been on spotlight internationally since 2015, during presidential elections that was marred by violence, and a failed coup which triggered thousands to flee their country over security of their lives.

Ndayishimiye told UN General assembly that some refugees have been repatriated, which shows that Burundi is now more  peaceful than before.

He however expressed segregation and disrespect his country is still facing on international scene.

“Burundi is arbitrarily on the agenda of the Security Council for political reasons and selfish interests of certain powers, which disregard the well-being of the Burundian people, which in no way constitutes a threat to international peace and security”, he said

President Ndayishimiye said that some countries especially from the ‘South’ are being used to destabilize his country, after having implicated themselves into a failed coup in 205.

“we firmly reject the unjustified politico-diplomatic aggression against Burundi and its people by foreign governments, some of which were illustrated in the attempt to change the regime in 2015 through unconstitutional means.”

“The tendency of certain states, which use subtle and illegal means to regulate geopolitics in the countries of the South and to take the place of the international community to oppress other countries by imposing unilateral coercive measures on them, must stop”, he adds

Though he did not name the country, Burundi has been accusing Rwanda in the south of housing opposition elements that want to overthrow Bujumbura regime since 2015. Rwanda denies wrongdoing.

However, international organizations still show that nothing changed in Burundi since Ndayishimiye is elected, especially in matters regarding human rights.

Early this month , UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi issued fresh warnings about ongoing rights violations and impunity in the country since the death of former President Pierre Nkurunziza.

Commission highlighted serious human rights violations during this year’s elections, including summary executions, torture and sexual violence.

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Africa’s Great Lakes States Demand Reparations from Germany and Belgium for Colonization
September 21, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jean-Pierre Afadhali*

King Philippe and Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi in 2019. The Belgium monarch has referred to the colonial past as cruel and violent . photo credit Belga
King Philippe and Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi in 2019. The Belgium monarch has referred to the colonial past as cruel and violent . photo credit Belga

Nearly 60 years after Independence- Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo are demanding reparations from German and Belgium, their former colonizers over the brutal colonial past that also sparked post-independence conflicts in the Great Lakes of Africa.

The former colonies are now demanding financial reparations and repatriation of cultural property looted by European countries that colonized Africa in the 19th century, a period that was characterized by dehumanization of locals, divide and rule policies and plundering of cultural artifacts as well as natural resources.

Burundi was first colonized by German in 1880 in what was then called ‘German East Africa’ that included Rwanda and Tanzania until the end of World War l. After the First World War the defeated Germany was stripped of its colonies in favor of Belgium that ruled Rwanda, Burundi and DR Congo until 1962. In 2018, the Burundian Senate set up a commission of historians and anthropologists to examine the impact of colonialism in the Great Lakes country.

Gitega appears to be more pragmatic in reparations issue by setting a price. The Great Lakes country has recently demanded $ 43 billion from Germany for colonial crimes. The amount was calculated by referring to a fine that was imposed on the Burundian king by the Germans in 1903, which forced him to hand over 424 cows for resisting German rule.

According to Burundi’s special commission on the colonial past, the current value of those cows would be $43 billion. There are reports that German is not willing to pay the price amid similar reparation request from Namibia its former Southern African colony over genocide crimes.

Aloys Batunganayo, a Burundian Historian and doctoral researcher from Lausanne University said that current Burundian political challenges are linked to Belgium’s colonial past in a decree by Belgian King Albert l that classified the population in three ethnic groups.

“It is this decree that has led to conflicts in Burundi and the region because some of the population was excluded from the ruling class because of the decree,” Dr Batunganayo was quoted as saying.

Since its independence in 1962, the East African country has experienced ethnic conflicts that led to large scale civil war in 90s and various massacres.

Similarly, neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has also called for reparations after the Belgian King Phillippe expressed “deepest regrets” over his nation brutal colonial legacy in the central African nation. King Phillippe expressed shock on 30 July 2020, the Independence Day in DRC.

According to Brussels’ media reports, King Phillippe is the first reigning Belgian Monarch to qualify as “acts of violence and cruelty” committed under Belgian colonial past led by King Leopold ll in current DRC.  His majesty Philippe also expressed sympathy with Kinshasa over “suffering and humiliation” experienced by Congolese people under colonization.

However, Kinshasa’s officials say this is not enough and are now calling for compensation over brutal colonial past. Mr. Andre Lite, Minister of Human Rights was quick to react on Belgian King’s comments saying that Brussels should compensate the victims of colonization.

In an interview with a local news website ‘7 Sur 7 CD’, Lite said that the regrets about abuses of human rights by some Belgium officials about their country’s colonialism are not enough.  “The regrets of certain Belgian officials will never be enough in the face of their obligation to grant reparations to the victims of colonization and their relatives. It is contradictory or illogical to claim to be part of the respectful state and pretend not to know anything about serious crimes that were committed in the past,” the minister of Human Rights was quoted as saying.

According to Historians, many well-documented crimes were committed in ‘Congo Free State’, current DR Congo, the then colony under the personal rule of Belgian King Leopold ll. One of the serious crimes committed under Belgium colonization was called “red rubber system”- a forced labour created to maximize the collection and export of rubbers. Workers who refused to supply their labour were coerced with “constraint and repression”.

Meanwhile, Belgium has set up a commission to examine the Belgium colonial past in DR Congo, Burundi and Rwanda. Rwandan parliament welcomed the commission but denounced one of its members without mentioning name who it called a genocide “denier”.

While the increasing reparations calls from African countries to former colonizers has attracted interests from activists, media across Africa and scholars around the whole. In the wake of the killing of George Floyd in the USA; Anna Kirstine Schirrer, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University wrote in her recent paper titled “On reparations for Slavery and Colonialism” that neither reparative logic nor appeals for mass reparations are new.

Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye.His government is asking for $ 43 billion from Germany for colonial crimes Photo.Tchandrou Nitanga ,AFP via Getty Images
Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye.His government is asking for $ 43 billion from Germany for colonial crimes Photo.Tchandrou Nitanga ,AFP via Getty Images

“What is new, however, is the conversation about material reparations occurring within governmental and international organizations, and the proliferation of various reparative rationales across multiple scales.” The scholar wrote in an article published in June.

*Published in September Issue of PAV Magazine

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Rwanda: Will UN,Other International Bodies rescue Paul Rusesabagina from terrorism charges?
September 19, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Mohammed M. Mupenda *

Terrorism charges have been slammed against Paul Rusesabagina .Photo credit AFP

The Rwandan critic, whose role during the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsis was fictionalized in the well-known movie Hotel Rwanda, has been the subject of controversy ever since.

Mr. Rusesabagina appeared last month under arrest in Kigali in murky circumstances, with his family alleging he was kidnapped abroad.

According to Rwanda Authorities, he was arrested because he is believed to be the leader, founder and sponsor of a violent extremist group operating in Rwanda and more widely, known as MRCD/FLN. The international arrest warrant under which he has been detained included accusations that in June and July 2018 in Nyungwe, and in December 2018 in Nyamagabe, attacks by the MRCD/FLN were carried out against innocent Rwandan civilians which left nine people dead and several seriously injured.

Prior to his arrest there were videos featuring him and he was heard on BBC radio talk calling all political and civil society organizations to support FLN soldiers to oust the Kigali government through waging war as political means had failed.

However, some human rights and legal groups have expressed concern that his arrest is the latest example of Rwanda targeting critics.

Calls demanding fair justice have been made by U.S Senator, Rusesabagina Hotel Rwanda Foundation, oppositions and on 8 September UN urged to intervene in case of detained Hotel Rwanda dissident.

Through the Clooney Foundation for Justice and the American Bar Association Center for Human Rights, George and Amal Clooney have made a pledge to closely monitor the upcoming trial of Paul Rusesabagina in Rwanda, as part of CFJ’s Trial Watch initiative.

“Mr. Rusesabagina is currently detained provisionally for at least 30 days after he was denied bail, pending his trial,”.

Well, UN call, human right monitoring and other super power countries intervention could still give hope to his family, dissidents and others who wish to see Rusesabagina free but still not sure of how it will be done while terrorism charges are not welcome in any country.

For various newspapers both Rwandan and foreign, people’s talk, comments believe that Rusesabagina’s case would be serious, and some of the reasons being that Mr. Rusesabagina has Belgian citizenship, U.S resident and has been awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom. However,  many observers say that these can’t save him out, due to Rusesabagina’s rebel attacks killed Rwandans, burned their property, looted their crops and took some hostages, Nsabimana Callixte and Rusesabagina admitted in various media outlets that the attacks killed civilians.

When Nsabimana was arrested and brought to justice, he pleaded guilty for all charges saying that even the birds could testify.

Mr. Rusesabagina’s acknowledgment that his rebellions killed people and apologized.

“I apologise, we never assigned FLN to kill people and that was not the mission noting that their actions should be blamed on them alone.”.

He admitted to sending some 20,000 euros ($23,000) to FLN commander Callixte Nsabimana – who is on trial on similar charges – but said this was personal assistance to a friend and not for rebel activities

Mr. Herman Hirwa Nsengimana, the successor to Nsabimana Callixte A.k.a Sankara was seen in the video conference included Rusesabagina, who was in the lead, also co-chaired the FLN, becoming the Supreme Leader.

Other reasons could be summarised as follows,  Rusesabagina has Rwandan citizenship by birth, the crimes is accused of committing are on Rwandan soil, the prosecutor also pointed out that before Rusesabagina was arrested there was a collaboration between  Belgian police and the U.S Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI), Rusesabagina’s home in Belgium was searched and some of the evidence against him came from there, and FBI had also conducted a thorough investigation into all the information from his indictment. 

Note that when the FLN attacks reached Rwandan territory, the US Embassy in the United States issued a statement saying that some parts of Rwanda were unsafe and that their residents were on high alert, and that they were aware of the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks.  Which are FLN soldiers, whose commander was based in the USA.

The case of Nsabimana Callixte who pleaded guilty to all the charges against him and even wished that his case would be reconciled with those of Rusesabagina and Herman because all the charges against FLN are fully involved.

In multiple speeches, Rusesabagina expressed support for the FLN – which has carried out armed attacks and is described as a terrorist organisation by Rwanda – but the extent of his involvement in its actions is unclear.

*Mohammed M. Mupenda is a news correspondent and freelance reporter, who has written for publications in the United States and abroad. He is also a French and East African language interpreter.

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