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Is Africa on Donald Trump’s radar?
November 11, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Alastair Leithead*

President elect Trump with President Obama at a press appearance after post election meeting

President elect Trump with President Obama at a press appearance after post election meeting

Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election means an uncertain future for Africa.

His rival Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a landslide – at least among those in Barack Obama’s ancestral village in western Kenya.

The mock poll in Kogelo gave Mr Trump just a quarter of the votes in a place he might not have heard of, were it not for his accusations that it was the outgoing president’s birthplace.

“The people of Kogelo are very much annoyed,” said one resident.

“Being a woman of great substance and Donald Trump being a reality show personality… Clinton should have won,” said one another.

But they would say that – President-elect Trump won’t get anything like the reception President Obama received last year when he came to Kenya.

He had strong connections here – his father was Kenyan – and he launched his Power Africa project, which aims to double the number of people with electricity across the continent.

Comedians stage a mock election in the village of Kogelo, the home town of Sarah Obama, step-grandmother of President Barack Obama, in western Kenya, Tuesday 8 November 2016Image copyrightAP
Image captionMrs Clinton won the mock election in Mr Obama’s ancestral village

President George W Bush brought the continent the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar) – which provided millions of people with the drugs to help them fight HIV.

The US spends billions in Africa through aid and investment, but there is uncertainty over what Mr Trump will do, or even how much he knows about the continent.

“Trump has said very little about Africa – I don’t think he knows much about Africa,” said Jakkie Cilliers, chairman of the Institute of Security Studies (ISS), a think tank in South Africa.

“It is just not on his radar – it seems like he will be an insular president focused on US interests – in some sense, isolationist.”

He questioned what it might mean for Pepfar or the African Growth and Opportunities Act (known as Agoa – a hugely valuable American free trade deal with African countries), and efforts to tackle malaria.

“The fact he doesn’t know that much is perhaps our best protection,” said Mr Cilliers, only half joking.

Trump’s bulging in-box

The other key pillar of America’s involvement in Africa is security.

The US military footprint has slowly and secretly been spreading across the continent in reaction to radical Islamist militants.

American trainers and Chadian soldiers next to a military plane
Image captionThe US military trains soldiers in Africa as part of its anti-terror tactics

There are drone bases and special forces troops watching, and acting against so-called Islamic State and al-Qaeda linked groups across the continent.

The key things that need to be in the new President Trump’s Africa in-box include:

How America manages its approach to Africa could have a major impact on stability across the continent.

“Obama has done the US proud with his strategic approach,” said Mr Cilliers.

The ISS put out what he called a “tongue-in-cheek” article a day before the vote, asking what would a Trump presidency would mean for Africa.

“About a third of American foreign aid is directed at health programmes, and much of that at Africa,” ISS researcher Zachary Donnenfeld wrote.

“This means that any reduction in American foreign aid will have far-reaching effects on health outcomes on the continent.

“If Donald Trump were elected and implemented the foreign policy he campaigned on, he could become the single most-effective recruiting tool for terrorist organisations across the globe,” he added.

But with a shift from aid to investment, isn’t a businessman a good man to have at the helm?

Kenyan tech entrepreneur Mark Kamalu is not convinced.

“We have investments in US dollars and the first direct impact is the markets tank and that’s a worry from a business perspective,” he said.

“The rhetoric we have heard, the hard-line stance, the America first nationalism, the volatile and lose language makes everyone who is not white and American wonder where they stand.”

Some will welcome his conservative values on homosexuality and abortion, but there is a lot of uncertainty over what President Trump will mean to Africa.

Elected with little by way of policy, the continent will have to wait and see how much of what he said on the campaign trail will translate into action.

*BBC

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Trump’s isolationism: Threats and opportunities for Africa
November 11, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Patrick Bond*

rt_donald_trump_mm_150616_16x9_992Donald Trump’s ascension to the US Presidency has stunned many across the globe due to his strange views and prejudices. The Conversation Africa business and economy editor Sibonelo Radebe asked Professor Patrick Bond to unpack implications for Africa.

What does a Trump victory mean for Africa?

The most catastrophic long-term consequence is climate change. This is because Trump is a denialist who will give the green light to widespread fracking, coal and oil exploration. Africa will be the most adversely affected continent. United Nations scientists estimate that 9 out of 10 small-scale farmers are unlikely to farm by 2100 due to drying soils and global warming, plus extreme weather will also cause 180 million unnecessary African deaths by then, according to Christian Aid.

Under Trump, we can safely predict that Washington will no longer seek to control United Nations climate negotiations, as did Barack Obama’s administration. The WikiLeaks Clinton emails and State Department cables revealed blatant manipulations of the Copenhagen and Durban climate summits. Instead, Trump will simply pull the US out of the 2015 Paris agreement, as did George W. Bush from the Kyoto Protocol.

By good fortune, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change annual summit is underway this week in Morocco. The only logical move, if the delegates have any spine, is to expel the US State Department and establish the machinery for a major carbon tax applied to products associated with countries – the US especially – which raise emissions and threaten the survival of many species across the globe.

Trump also heralds a rise in US racism and xenophobia, parallel to the Brexit vote by the British white working class. In neither case will local solutions be effective for the simple reason that neither Trump nor Theresa May (UK Prime Minister) are interested in the income redistribution required to benefit their economies.

And African elites who have – with a few exceptions – climbed over each other to please Washington, won’t find themselves welcome in the White House.

Hopefully the contagion of Trump’s racism – which will make life for Africans much harder – will be met by a major resistance movement including Africans from all walks of life in solidarity with various groups that stand to be oppressed by the US – women, African-Americans, Latinos, Muslims, environmentalists, progressives of all sorts. This movement can shape up in the same spirit to those that gave solidarity during the fight against apartheid.

What are the likely economic consequences?

Consistent with his isolationism, world trade stagnation will continue. In the case of Africa, Trump is likely to retract benefits under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act and reduce US aid.

That isolationism, in turn, could give Africans a chance to recalibrate what is now an excessive, self-destructive reliance on export of oil and gas, minerals and cash crops. Africa must focus on localising its economies to be able to meet basic needs.

Trump’s hatred of what he terms the “globalists” is probably just hot electioneering rhetoric. It’s fair to predict that pro-corporate candidates will come forward as Trump allies to calm the crashing stock markets.

The “neoliberal” group of policy wonks who expressed disgust with Trump and favoured Hillary Clinton will quickly make inroads into the new administration. They will ensure that the continuing US dominance in Western-leaning multilateral institutions is not disturbed.

We can simply anticipate more brazen US self-interest, as witnessed during the Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush regimes, with less of the confusing rhetoric promoted by Obama and his allies.

What US policies on Africa are likely to change? With what impact?

To be frank, we can only offer guesses. Trump said literally nothing about Africa during his campaign. He wants to “rebuild US military power,” which might include strengthening the Pentagon’s controversial Africa Command, known as Africom.

Economically, it is worth noting Trump’s close relations to the oil and gas industry which comes via Vice President Mike Pence. This suggests that multinational corporations in the extractive industries who desire more explicit imperial support for African adventurism will be served well by Trump’s bully-boy mentality.

What does this mean for multilateral institutions and how will this affect Africa?

The US’s role in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will become nastier given the veto power it enjoys, holding more than 15% of the voting shares. Trump will probably hire a brutal neoliberal as his IMF executive director, someone who will tighten the screws on Africa using Washington’s veto power. The leaders of two big African economies are desperate for IMF credits: Nigeria ($29 billion) and Egypt ($12 billion).

In relation to the United Nations, an interesting question comes to mind: should the UN leadership now sitting in Trump’s Manhattan East Side neighbourhood not develop a contingency plan to move UN headquarters out of the US? Trump promises to make life very hard for visitors who are Muslims, Libyans, Syrians and Mexicans – amongst others – so holding multilateral events in the US may soon be impossible.

The period ahead demands a very different multilateralism due to a number of expectations. The first is that Trump will sabotage the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and similar strategies to solve global problems, and wreck nuclear non-proliferation strategies such as the agreement that Obama painstakingly reached with Iran earlier this year.

And the second is that three of the BRICS’ nationalistic leaders – Vladimir Putin in Russia, Nahendra Modi in India and Michel Temer in Brazil – can be expected to establish much closer ties to Trump. This is likely to affect the balance of power between geographical regions, added to which are the drift of Pakistan, Turkey and the Philippines away from Washington. Trump’s hatred of China is another indeterminate factor.

Regardless of the geopolitical maneuvres, it’s time for a ‘multilateralism-from-below’ in which traditional progressive movements in civil society find common cause, because this is the most serious threat to humanity, the world economy and environment we’ve seen in living memory.

*Pambazuka

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Africa, solidarity and the ICC
November 11, 2016 | 0 Comments
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This is what Africans really think of the Chinese
November 5, 2016 | 0 Comments

151204121145-zimbabwe-china-handshake-exlarge-169(CNN)Increasing Chinese investment in everything from small food enterprises to massive railway projects across Africa has drawn criticism and warnings of a future dependency on Asia’s superpower.

But what do Africans themselves think about Chinese investors? Turns out, they love them.
According to a recent report by Afrobarometer, almost two-thirds (63%) of Africans say China’s influence is somewhat positive or very positive, while only 15% see it as somewhat or very negative.
“There is a negative narrative of China in Africa,” says Anyway Chingwete, co-author of the study and project manager at Afrobarometer and the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation in Cape Town, South Africa.
“But I believe ordinary citizens have a positive sentiment because of the contribution China has made to Africa.”
The attitudes vary from country to country, with people in Mali (92%), Niger (84%), and Liberia (81%) being particularly glad to have them around.
“This shows that African citizens are welcoming China’s involvement,” Chingwete adds.
It appears it’s not the Chinese culture or language Africans like best. It’s the potential financial investment China brings.
When asked which factors contributed most to China’s positive image, it was investment in infrastructure that came out on top.
China invests more in Africa than any other country, with Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Angola among the biggest recipients of Chinese funds.
Infrastructure development, for example highways and railways, is the main area of business for the Chinese in Africa, Chingwete says. They also invest in smaller enterprises and food outlets, according to the report.
Africans also like the Chinese for bringing affordable cars and mobile phones to the continent, says lead author Mogopodi Lekorwe, a professor of Politics at the University of Botswana.
“They used to be very expensive, but because these are now flooding the market, the prices have dropped.
“People can now pick and choose among things that they didn’t have access to in the past,” he adds.
But the Chinese are not the only ones looking to do business with African countries. Colonial powers still have an influence, particularly in Francophone countries, Lekorwe says.
However, this influence appears to be waning in some countries, says Chingwete.
“Of the largest players in Africa, China and the U.S. are the main countries.”

United States versus China in the race for Africa

Some African countries now prefer the Chinese development model to that of the US and former European colonial powers, the study revealed.
When asked which country would be the best model for the future development of their country, 24% of Africans picked China.
151204114343-mali-china-handshake-exlarge-169However, across all countries surveyed, the US still came out on top, with nearly a third (30%) of all respondents preferring it.
About one in 10 respondents prefer their former colonial power (13%) or South Africa (11%).
At a closer look, this varies greatly from country to country. Out of the 36 countries surveyed, people from 10 countries were particularly keen on the Chinese development model, with Cameroon, Sudan and Mozambique being the top three.
On the flipside, Liberia, Cape Verde, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and Morocco all put the American model above the Chinese.
Some former French colonies said they preferred the French model.
“In Tunisia, Benin, Mauritius and Burkina Faso, for example, there is still some level of influence from France which they find positive, and so they choose France’s development model,” Chingwete says.
South Africa scored particularly high in neighboring countries such as Lesotho, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Poor quality products?

It’s not all rosy, however. Negative opinions of China are present among Africans too, with some saying that Chinese products weren’t always of the highest quality.
They are also afraid of losing jobs to the Chinese, and some say they can’t compete with the Chinese work ethic, Lekorwe says.
“The Chinese are available 24 hours to do work, whereas a local will say: ‘Look, I have a family here.'”
“That’s some of the things that people have been complaining about, but they certainly do have a positive image overall.”

Kenya's new $13bn railway was funded by China.

China’s global image

Globally, the attitude towards China is somewhat positive, according to a 2014 study by Pew Global.
Across the 43 nations surveyed by Pew, a median of 49% expressed a favorable view of China, compared to 32% thinking of them unfavorably.
However, China’s overall image in Europe and the U.S. was mostly negative. Only 35% of Americans had a positive view of China, whereas 55% were negative.

A future China – Africa superpower?

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing in April 2016.

The U.S. and China are competing fiercely over African business, says Lekorwe.
“I think the Chinese do everything they possibly can to become number one,” he says.
“They want to become the number one superpower.”
However, an increased Chinese influence over Africa may cause trouble in the future, and perhaps stifle the development of democracy, Lekorwe says.
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Uganda: An oasis of light for refugees fleeing war
November 4, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Tessa Valk-Mayerick *

UNHCR/TESSA VALK-MAYERICK Here a newly arrived South Sudanese refugee family is being registered by the Ugandan government. Once they are registered, refugees are given a plot of land to build their own homes and to cultivate, free access to health care and schools, the ability to work, and freedom to travel.

UNHCR/TESSA VALK-MAYERICK
Here a newly arrived South Sudanese refugee family is being registered by the Ugandan government. Once they are registered, refugees are given a plot of land to build their own homes and to cultivate, free access to health care and schools, the ability to work, and freedom to travel.

PAGRINYA REFUGEE SETTLEMENT, Uganda – Ayen looked directly into my eyes as she gripped her children’s hands tightly, calmly recounting the moment she was forced to flee her home in South Sudan in the middle of the night after rebels murdered her husband and eldest son in her presence.

“We came here because of hope. When we saw you, we knew we were safe.” Ayen gestured with visible relief to the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency logo on my t-shirt.

Safety is the first thing Ayen and her children and 190,000 other South Sudanese forced to flee their homeland since July find on reaching Uganda. Thanks to the Ugandan government and with the support of organizations like UNHCR, refugees are given a chance to start life anew, in dignity.

UNHCR/TESSA VALK-MAYERICK
Here a newly arrived South Sudanese refugee family is being registered by the Ugandan government. Once they are registered, refugees are given a plot of land to build their own homes and to cultivate, free access to health care and schools, the ability to work, and freedom to travel.

Refugees are provided with a plot of land to cultivate and materials to build their own homes, free access to Uganda’s health care and local schools, the ability to work, and freedom to travel. In addition to providing lifesaving aid to refugees upon arrival in Uganda, UNHCR and our partners are training refugees on critical job skills, including effective farming methods so refugees can maximize their incomes and grow their businesses.

Uganda is, in short, setting the 21st-century standard for how all countries can and should welcome refugees.

But as thousands of refugees flee a resurgence of murderous violence in South Sudan and life-threatening conflicts in neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, and Somalia, Ugandans need more support to help meet refugees’ basic needs until they are self-sufficient.

UNHCR/TESSA VALK-MAYERICK
Thousands of South Sudanese refugee children are currently attending schools in Uganda despite the limited funding and resources available for education. This classroom in Pagirinya refugee settlement had one teacher for 170 students.

Uganda – itself rebuilding from decades of war with the rebel group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) – is now the third-largest refugee-hosting country in Africa after Ethiopia and Kenya. Thousands of refugees are crossing into Uganda each day, and 50,000 South Sudanese alone are expected to arrive by the end of 2016.

“The majority of new refugee arrivals are women and children who cannot easily cope,” Titus Jogo, refugee response coordinator with the office of Ugandan Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, explained to me. “They need long-term support.”

Despite Uganda’s determined efforts to deliver it, that support becomes more challenging by the day as the rising influx of refugees puts a strain on community health services, schools, job markets, water systems, and local infrastructure and as Ugandan authorities address other pressing issues.

“The huge numbers… make planning for the effective and efficient delivery of services very difficult,” Jogo said, describing the determination of his country – a landlocked nation that has welcomed more than half a million refugees in recent years – to deliver economically-empowering solutions for refugees.

The bottom line? As more refugees continue to arrive daily, increased funding to support the coordinated response to the current refugee crisis is urgently needed. UNHCR, for example, has received just 33% of the funds needed to provide adequate assistance to refugees in Uganda in 2016.

UNHCR/TESSA VALK-MAYERICK
Pagirinya refugee settlement in Adjumani district located in northwest Uganda. The Ugandan government, UNHCR and our partners are assisting nearly 200,000 refugees from South Sudan in Adjumani district alone. Uganda has welcomed more than 800,000 refugees from neighboring South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Burundi.

In over a decade working in the space where U.S. policy in Washington intersects with the human tragedy of forced displacement in Africa, the Middle East and around the world, I have seen my fair share of the good, the bad, and the irrefutably ugly.

Never, however, have I been so powerfully impressed with any refugee response as I was with Uganda’s determined efforts to put 21st century refugee policies into concrete action – and to make both sustainable.

Though the outward circumstances of our lives differ in many obvious ways, Ayen and I are both mothers with dreams of safe, happy, healthy futures for our children and ourselves.

And as I stood before her a few weeks ago under a blazing sun in northern Uganda and listened to her story, I was moved deeply by her strength and by the generosity of the Ugandan people who welcomed her with open arms.

In a world that is increasingly tightening borders, erecting fences, and implementing restrictive policies towards refugees like Ayen and her children, Uganda’s innovative model of welcome is a beacon of light.

This is what humanity can and should look like. Now is the time to help Uganda help us all remember this.

*Huffington Post.Tessa Valk-Mayerick is an Assistant External Relations Officer for UNHCR in Washington, DC. To learn more about UNHCR’s work in Uganda

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Trump’s tone resonates in strongman-weary Africa
November 3, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Julian Hattem*

tumblr_inline_nz4g5wetde1tedrp5_540KAMPALA, Uganda — Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has­­ had surprising resonance in parts of Africa where people are weary of the political establishment and see the real estate mogul as a global force for change.

Despite famously pushing an “America first” foreign policy and appearing to show little interest in events outside the U.S., the Republican nominee for president is enjoying a strong amount of popularity in Uganda and other African nations a week out from Election Day.

Trump is also up against Hillary Clinton, a woman known on the international stage for more than two decades, most recently as a globetrotting secretary of State, and whose family foundation has helped to save millions from malaria, HIV/AIDS and other diseases — including many Africans.

Yet for many in and around this capital city, scattered across hills in the jungle of East Africa, Trump’s candidacy represents a strike against political dynasties and the established order that has kept strongmen such as their own president in power for decades. Trump’s tough rhetoric and a fake viral quote have boosted his appeal to many looking for a change.

“Trump has presented himself as a candidate that is anti-establishment, that he wants to turn around things and cause a revolution of some sort,” said Moses Khisa, a lecturer of political science at Northwestern University and columnist for a Ugandan newspaper.

Trump, Khisa said, is tapping into “the same fertile ground of disillusionment and anti-establishment sentiment” on both sides of the Atlantic.

To be sure, support for Trump is not unanimous.

One poll conducted in South Africa and Nigeria, the continent’s two largest economies, showed a marked distaste for Trump. According to the WIN/Gallup International Association poll, released in October, respondents in those two countries overwhelmingly preferred Clinton, 69 percent to 20.

Due to a paucity of polling, it’s difficult to get a full understanding of feelings about the presidential race across the continent. It’s also dangerous to make sweeping generalizations about the political preferences of more than 1.2 billion Africans.

Worldwide, data suggest that Clinton is the overwhelming favorite. A Pew Research Center surveyof countries in Europe and Asia found strong support for Clinton and deep distrust of Trump.

But Trump has certainly struck a chord among a sizable number of Africans, who see him as a rejection of the current system who nonetheless speaks in a recognizable vocabulary.

Last week, five activists here descended on the U.S. embassy to demonstrate in support of Trump, waving misspelled signs and hoping to gather media attention. Two were arrested and later charged with failing to give proper notice about their plans.

“Among the candidates for the presidents of America, he’s the only man who says that once he becomes the president of America, he will fight the dictators — all African dictators including Museveni,” one of the activists, Kizza Hakim, told a local TV station, referring to Uganda’s 72-year-old President Yoweri Museveni. Museveni has been in power since 1986, after helping to topple dictator Idi Amin, and has shown an increasingly autocratic bent in recent years.

Hakim appeared to be referring to a fake Trump quote that has circulated around East Africa, in which he supposedly promised to not “condone any dictatorial tendencies exhibited by dictators around the world, especially the two old men from Zimbabwe and Uganda.”

“[Zimbabwean President Robert] Mugabe and Museveni must be put on notice that their days are numbered and that I am going to arrest them and lock them in prison,” Trump is falsely quoted as saying. “If the past American administrations have failed to stop these two despots, I will personally do it.”

A Trump campaign spokeswoman confirmed that the quote is false.

However, it was nonetheless briefly picked up by media around the continent earlier this year and forced a retort from Museveni. Trump “has got enough work to do in U.S.,” the Ugandan president said, noting rates of American gun violence.

 

Those who speak highly of Trump in Africa describe the GOP nominee as an outsider willing to speak truth to power.

“Above all, his willingness to disregard political correctness makes the supporters feel he’s saying exactly what they really feel about issues, but they’re afraid to say it in public. In a way, he represents their hopes, fears and frustrations,” Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi, a columnist in Ghana, wroteearlier this year.

“Isn’t he the kind of person we need desperately in Ghanaian politics right now?”

Clinton, meanwhile, is seen by some as part of the political establishment that has helped run the U.S. for the last two decades.

 

Despite being of Kenyan heritage, President Obama’s legacy in Africa is somewhat mixed, especially when compared to former President George W. Bush’s aggressive efforts to combat HIV/AIDS through the PEPFAR program. Clinton’s association with Obama’s administration hasn’t made her universally adored across Africa.

Trump also embodies many of the “big man” stereotypes that have permeated African cultures.

“For me, as an African, there’s just something familiar about Trump that makes me feel at home,” “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah, a South African native, quipped last October.

“Trump is basically the perfect African president.”

Throughout the campaign, Trump has railed on issues of globalization, China’s rising status, political cronyism and depressed economic opportunities. Many of those sentiments hit home in African countries that feel at the mercy of foreign powers, just as they do in parts of Europe that have experienced their own nationalist movements.

“One of the things that perhaps is a little bit of a paradox is that African populations often feel that their countries are slightly exploited by the West, therefore they support leaders domestically that stand up to people,” said Nic Cheeseman, a professor of politics and African studies at the University of Oxford. “And I think they may be looking to see someone like Trump and think that Trump is also trying to do the same thing for his country.”

“When Trump says he’s going to put some of those forces back in the box — even though he’s not talking about Africa, he’s talking about America — I think some of the African audiences hearing that would see a connection to their own battle against globalization, against multinationals,” he added.

*The Hill

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Expect Broader Engagement with Africa in Clinton Administration-Policy Experts
October 31, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

fb_img_1477849664895Restive Africans are getting assurances that it will not be business as usual with the continent, should democratic candidate Hillary Clinton succeed President Barack Obama as the next U.S President.

At a recent meeting organized by the Africa Coalition for Hillary at The Elliott School of International Studies at George Washington University in Washington, DC, Senior policy advisers indicated that as President, Hillary Clinton will build and expand on successes and programs initiated by the Obama Administration while seeking to expand areas of cooperation.

Amb. Michelle Gavin, former U.S. Ambassador to Botswana and Representative to the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), Former Special Assistant to President Obama and Former Senior Director for Africa at the NSC who  advises HFA on African Affairs; Nicole Wilett–Jensen, former NSC Director for African Affairs and who advises HFA on African Affairs; Witney Schneidman, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs; Amb. Robin Sanders, CEO, FEEEDS, Former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria and Congo; Amb. Omar Arouna, Former Ambassador of Benin to the U.S., Co-Chair of the African Coalition for Hillary and Ms. Semhar Araia, a diaspora women White House Champion and CEO, Semai Consulting, engaged the audience of some 100 people in a spirited exchange on the stakes for Africa in the upcoming elections and why the African Diaspora must throw its weight behind Clinton.

“This event serves as a platform to inform and educate the diaspora on Sec. Clinton’s record on Africa, propose new policies and encourage Africans to get out the vote,” said Angelle Kwemo, a Cameroonian born policy advocate, CEO of Believe in Africa, and Co-Chair of Executive Women for Hillary (DMV) and founder of the African Coalition for Hillary.

“We live in a democracy – that obviously and unfortunately can produce candidates with divisive views-, and we need to play our part. At the end of the day, if Africans are not at the table, we will surely be on the menu,” Angelle Kwemo said in weighing the stakes for Africa.

14729289_584763751731064_6199042307301853208_nDiscussions were anchored around the results of a survey carried out by Believe in Africa, a diaspora organization Kwemo launched in 2014 to promote African solutions to African problems, on African priorities for the next U.S. Administration. The survey ranked democracy, trade and development, job creation, youth and women empowerment as the top areas Africans will love to see more engagement in.

Summing up some of the successes registered by the Obama Administration, Amb Michelle Gavin who planned the first White House African diaspora meeting, and Wilett–Jensen cited the Commerce Department Doing Business in Africa (DBIA), the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI),the African Women Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) ,Feed the Future, Power Africa and other successful initiatives that the next administration could build on.

Participants agreed on the need for the next U.S Administration to work with African leaders in building structures that will facilitate orderly transfer of power through credible electoral processes which will see the emergence of leaders with a healthy dose of legitimacy. In doing so, the U.S must avoid a one-policy-fit -all solution , Ambassador Omar Arouna cautioned. Arouna opined that engagement of the U.S. with Africa on promoting peace and democracy could be more effective with a country specific approach that takes into consideration existing realities.

On combatting corruption, African countries will need to do their part by building strong institutions and strengthening the rule of law said Witney Schneidman. Amb Sanders indicated that Hillary’s campaign was aware of the need to include the African Diaspora and small and medium size to participate in future high profile forums like the US-Africa leaders’ Summit.

14516487_584763571731082_7202102399667156912_nSteve Lande, from Manchester Trade went a step further by calling for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Corporate Council on Africa to have African diaspora and SME initiatives. The Panel agreed that the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) regime started by Bill Clinton needs to be uplifted while individual African beneficiary countries need to define their own AGOA strategy to effectively take advantage of the program.

Lande noted that the AGOA policy should enable beneficiary countries to leverage their agricultural potentials and be able to export agricultural products in the U.S. market.  AGOA at this point mainly supports the U.S, textile industry. Lande noted that a new initiative needs to be launched to accelerate African regional integration, currently undermined by European Union Economic Partnership Agreements. He also expounded on the role of manufacturing in the growth of African economy, urging the incoming administration of Secretary Clinton to enhance AGOA to include an investment fund that would extend capital investments to small and medium enterprises, a critical barrier to full realization of the good intentions embedded in the initiative.

fb_img_1477849623712Africans attending the meeting expressed their appreciation to the African Coalition For Hillary for offering a platform to facilitate dialogue with Africans. Agnes Nabasirye, a diaspora member from Uganda, recognized the role of the coalition in bringing Africans in the diaspora together, on African issues. She mentioned that there was an expressed interest among Africans present to proactively seek input from African minds and leaders to add the voice of the diaspora to  formulating US policy on Africa .

In closing remarks, Angelle Kwemo invited the community to exercise their right and be responsible citizens. “We cannot stay on side line and expect the new administration to respond to our need”. “Hillary Clinton record shows that she is with Africa. We need to help her get elected, help her shape a new Africa policy and hold her accountable,” Kwemo said.

fb_img_1477849518005The African Coalition For Hillary (AC4H) is a coalition of leaders of African descent, policy experts, professionals, youth and civil society organizations supporting Hillary Clinton in her mission of becoming the first woman President of the United States. Initiated by Angelle Kwemo, it has as co-chairs Amb. Omar Arouna, Witney Schneidman, Dorinda White, Marilyn Sephocle, Steve Lande, Sarian Bouma and Philomena Desmond.

 

 

 

 

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ICC’s toughest trial: Africa vs. ‘Infamous Caucasian Court’
October 29, 2016 | 0 Comments

Criticising Hague-based institution for perceived anti-African bias has long been a favourite pastime for many African leaders

* South African move paves way for ICC exodus

* Gambia rails against ‘persecution of Africans’

* Uganda pushing for AU motion to quit court

* ICC prosecutor admits departures a ‘challenge’

By Ed Cropley*

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, speaking in Kampala

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, speaking in Kampala

JOHANNESBURG, Oct 28 (Reuters) – South Africa and Burundi’s decision to quit the International Criminal Court (ICC) and an attack by Gambia against its supposed ‘Caucasian’ justice are likely to embolden other African states to leave the world’s only permanent war crimes tribunal.

Although criticising the Hague-based institution for perceived anti-African bias has long been a favourite pastime for many African leaders, in most cases it amounted to pandering to a domestic audience without much real intent.

That has now changed, with the precedent established of local politics justifying actual withdrawal.

With South Africa – a continental heavyweight and key backer of the ICC in the late 1990s – making clear it could no longer tolerate the court’s denial of immunity to sitting leaders, the departure gates have been flung open.

All eyes are now on Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, the ICC’s chief tormentor who made history in 2013 by becoming the first sitting head of state to appear before the court, on charges of crimes against humanity.

The case relating to Kenyatta’s alleged role in post-election violence in 2008 in which at least 1,200 people died collapsed in 2014 for lack of evidence.

But in January this year, with charges still hanging over his deputy, William Ruto, Kenyatta took to the floor at the African Union (AU) to call for a “roadmap for withdrawal” for Africa’s 34 ICC members.

Supporting South Africa’s subsequent stance, Kenyatta took aim in particular at Article 27 of the ICC’s 1998 Rome Statute which affirms the “irrelevance of official capacity” – in other words, nobody, no matter how powerful, is above the law.

Kenyatta, who faces another election next year, then played the global security card, saying this compromised Kenya’s ability to fight Islamist militancy, a genuine concern in the wake of a major attack in 2013 on Nairobi’s Westgate mall.

“We’ve had to contend with the ICC pursuing weak, politicised cases. This has become a huge distraction from our duty serve our people and this continent fully. That is not what Kenya signed up for when we joined the ICC,” he said.

“USELESS PEOPLE”

Kenya’s parliament has passed two resolutions since 2010 calling for withdrawal, but government spokesman Manoah Esipisu said the cabinet was still deciding – in the wake of South Africa’s move – whether to go ahead.

“It is accurate to say that a decision of the executive is pending,” he said.

Neighbouring Uganda, whose President Yoweri Museveni labelled the ICC “a bunch of useless people” at his inauguration in July, is already shaping up for a fresh push at the next AU summit in January for an African exodus.

“The ICC deserves what’s happening to it now,” junior foreign affairs minister Okello Oryem said.

“Our argument has always been that there’s a need for the whole of Africa to withdraw from the ICC. We hope that matter will come up at the next AU summit and then we’ll be able to pronounce ourselves.”

RUNNING FOR COVER?

Most worrying for the ICC, which has been fighting to counter the allegations of anti-African bias and ‘neo-colonialism’, is that local or regional politics stood behind the three recent decisions to pull out.

Although Gambia, which derided the ICC as the ‘Infamous Caucasian Court’, does not yet appear to have sent its formal divorce papers, President Yahya Jammeh, who has been accused of serial rights abuses since seizing power in a 1994 coup, is unlikely to back off ahead of an election in December.

While also citing ICC neo-colonialism, Burundi’s move followed the ICC’s opening of an initial probe into the rape, torture and murder of hundreds of people during an 18-month political crisis.

South Africa’s decision can be traced back to visit a year ago by Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir when Pretoria flouted its obligations to arrest him under an ICC warrant for alleged war crimes.

It even violated a domestic court order in allowing Bashir to leave, a clear demonstration of the shift in Pretoria’s foreign policy under President Jacob Zuma from the international idealism of Nelson Mandela to plain African realism.

The ICC admits it is rattled but is determined to keep going, and in particular to counter the allegations of anti-African bias.

“We must remain strong,” chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, a Gambian, told reporters in The Hague this week. “This is a challenge we see now. We will see it more. It is not going to go away.”

To date, all but one of the court’s 10 investigations have been in Africa and its five convicted suspects are from Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and Mali.

However, it argues that many of these cases were brought by African governments themselves, not outsiders, and that it has 10 preliminary investigations into alleged atrocities elsewhere in the world, including in Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, the Palestinian Territories and Ukraine.

“Even if half the African countries leave, it would be very unfortunate and damaging to the concept of international justice but it won’t shut the court down,” one ICC official, who did not want to be named, told Reuters.

“This was bound to happen when dictators – for the most part that’s what they are – decide to run for cover.”

*Reuters

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In South Sudan, Machar Says Party Wants Peace But Prepares for War
October 14, 2016 | 0 Comments

By John Tanza*

FILE - Riek Machar, South Sudan's exiled former first vice president

FILE – Riek Machar, South Sudan’s exiled former first vice president

South Sudan’s exiled former vice president and opposition leader says he’ll reluctantly take his movement back to all-out war if a peace deal with the government cannot be restored.

Rieck Machar, the leader of the Sudan People Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO), told VOA in an exclusive interview Thursday that his movement is reorganizing itself to stage what he called a popular armed resistance against the government of President Salva Kiir.

At the same time, he said he wants to revive the August 2015 peace deal between the SPLM-IO and the government.

He said the “troika” of countries that backed the peace deal – the United States, Britain and Norway – should call for an urgent meeting of South Sudanese political parties to address the country’s political instability and ongoing conflict.

“They have to find a way of resuscitating this agreement,” he said. “Once it is resuscitated and people accept that there have been violations, then the need for reinstituting the transitional government becomes the first step.’’

Machar’s escape

Machar spoke to VOA’s “South Sudan in Focus” program by phone from South Africa, where he flew this week to seek unspecified medical treatment.

The former vice president fled the capital, Juba, in July during clashes between government and opposition forces that killed some 300 people.

He said 70 of his fighters were killed by the South Sudan army as he and his fighters made their way to the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.

“When we were pushed out, I withdrew the troops,” Machar said. “We moved to South Baria, then we moved to Lainy area, then from there to the areas of Mundri, from Mundri to Maridi, and then moved south to the Congo border. That [journey] took exactly 37 days and [when] we add the three days of fighting [in Juba], we were under fire for over 40 days.’’

FILE - Tanks destroyed during fighting between forces of Salva Kiir and Riek Machar in Jabel area of Juba, South Sudan, July 16, 2016.

FILE – Tanks destroyed during fighting between forces of Salva Kiir and Riek Machar in Jabel area of Juba, South Sudan, July 16, 2016.

Outreach to president

Machar said throughout his journey to Congo, he was constantly contacting Kiir in a bid to end the fighting, which erupted at the presidential palace and later engulfed Juba town. He said he could not continue communicating with Kiir while being pursued by members of the South Sudanese air force and infantry.

“I decided to withdraw to a country [where] I will be secured in and then find a way of having that meeting with President Salva,” Machar said.

After Machar fled the capital in July, United Nations aid agencies reported fighting in Western Equatoria state, where thousands of families were displaced from their homes. Local chiefs in the area told VOA reporters that the South Sudan Army ransacked villages, beating anyone they found in the villages around Mundri and Amadi.

The South Sudan Army “had ground forces pursuing us,” along with four helicopter gunships, Machar said. “… They also had one drone and two surveillance planes that were daily on our heads, locating where we were marching and then the helicopter gunship will follow [and] bombard us.’’

At the time, Machar was still South Sudan’s first vice president.

Machar and about 750 of his fighters were evacuated in late July from the South Sudan border by U.N. peacekeepers in the DRC. He and a few of his soldiers were then flown to Sudan’s capital, Khartoum for medical treatment in August.

Conflicting narratives

Following the fighting in Juba, Kiir accused Machar of wanting to kill him and overthrow the transitional Government of National Unity. He told the Kenya Television Network that Machar had a pistol during an early July meeting at J1, the South Sudanese presidential palace.

A government source said fighting at the presidential palace was kindled by Machar’s spokesman in Nairobi through a July 8 Facebook post, saying that Kiir had arrested Machar in the palace and Kiir’s men were planning to kill the vice president.

FILE - Journalists are seen on the podium following sounds of gunshots before a news conference by South Sudan President Salva Kiir, First Vice President Riek Machar and other government officials inside the Presidential State House in Juba, South Sudan, July 8, 2016.

FILE – Journalists are seen on the podium following sounds of gunshots before a news conference by South Sudan President Salva Kiir, First Vice President Riek Machar and other government officials inside the Presidential State House in Juba, South Sudan, July 8, 2016.

Machar and Kiir appeared visibly shaken during a July 7 address to the nation carried by South Sudan Broadcasting Corp. The two leaders told South Sudanese that they did not know the cause of the fighting between Machar’s bodyguards and South Sudan presidential guards.

Members of Machar’s party dismissed the government’s version of the fighting’s source.

According to Machar, Kiir misled the Kenyan journalist.

“Oh my God, this is a big lie,” he said. “I, Riek Machar do not carry pistol or pistols or guns since 1991 when I began to lead either a party or troops. I don’t carry a pistol. He [Kiir] knows that very well. Why would I carry a pistol when he has called me for a meeting?’’

Machar said he was discussing pressing issues when fighting suddenly erupted outside the presidential palace in July. He added that there would be no peace in South Sudan until the resolution of issues such reforms in government institutions, cantonment areas for his troops, and Kiir’s controversial plan to create 28 states.

If he’d planned to fight in Juba, Machar would have waited for his nearly 3,000 troops were in the capital, he said. “But I did not wait for that because I wanted the implementation of the peace agreement to be done first.’’

Regime change

Machar met with officials of his SPLM in Opposition party in September in Khartoum and issued a statement declaring war on the transitional government.

“The new government is not a transitional government of national unity. They should not delude the international community of this,” Machar told VOA. “The current government is a new regime, but it is not implementing the agreement. The reason why they [made the] attempt on my life in J1 was the rejection of the agreement.”

He said groups opposed to Kiir’s leadership are fighting all over the country, including in the former Central Equatoria state, Western Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria and Bahr El Ghazal.

Map of South Sudan

Map of South Sudan

International reaction

The United States, Britain and Norway – donor countries supporting South Sudan – have voiced concerns about Machar’s declaration of war. The three issued a statement in October asking that he seek peaceful means to ending South Sudan’s conflict.

Machar said the three countries have ignored the real problem in South Sudan and are focusing on prescription rather than the symptoms. He said his forces have been under constant attack from the South Sudan army since he signed the August peace deal.

He said he met Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Khartoum on Wednesday and they discussed the need for a political solution. He also said he assured Museveni about the readiness of SPLM-IO members to engage in dialogue with Kiir.

Machar said he met with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Khartoum on Wednesday, and they discussed the need for a political solution in South Sudan. He said he assured Museveni about the readiness of members of the SPLM-IO to engage in dialogue with Kiir.

Machar’s replacement

Kiir appointed Taban Deng Gai as the country’s new first vice president after Machar fled Juba in July.

Machar said the appointment of Taban will not bring peace to the country. He called Taban an accomplice.

“The fact that President Salva appointed Taban, who is a conspirator with him [Kiir], as first vice president doesn’t stop the war. The SPLA-IO has been there and the SPLA [South Sudan Army] has been fighting the SPLA-IO. They all know that. If I, as the first vice president, would be pursued by ground forces and by air, what is the intention?’’

FILE - South Sudan's First Vice President Taban Deng Gai, left, speaks with President Salva Kiir after Taban was sworn in, replacing opposition leader Riek Machar, at the presidential palace in Juba, South Sudan, July 26, 2016.

FILE – South Sudan’s First Vice President Taban Deng Gai, left, speaks with President Salva Kiir after Taban was sworn in, replacing opposition leader Riek Machar, at the presidential palace in Juba, South Sudan, July 26, 2016.

Machar said Deng was angry because he did not get the position of minister of petroleum in the transitional government. Instead, Machar said he appointed Deng as minister of mining.

“He didn’t like it. He did not hide it. He decided immediately to resign from being chief negotiator, from being a member of JMEC [Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission], I tried to persuade him not to resign. He refused and started plotting because he wanted to be minister of petroleum.’’

After the July fighting in Juba, Machar said he consulted members of the SPLM-IO and fired Deng from the party. Machar said he wrote a letter to Kiir informing him of Deng’s dismissal from the party.

No return to Juba

Machar said he will not return to Juba if there are no efforts to end the political impasse in the country.

“If I go to Juba, we need to discuss it,” he said. “There must be a political dialogue to discuss what happened, what were our differences in Juba.’’

*VOA

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Reporting Africa conference to explore how African media portrays continent
October 12, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

 

Eric Chinje

Eric Chinje

The African Media Initiative (AMI) will on 10 to 11 November 2016 host the Reporting Africa conference 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya in a bid to explore how  African media covers the continent beyond national borders.

According to Eric Chinje, AMI CEO, the conference will also explore how international media portrays the continent.

The conference will also focus on findings of a research that AMI has carried out on coverage of issues affecting the African continent.

Chinje said that his organisation has made plans for the forthcoming discussion to be graced by some of the top editors from all the 54 African countries.

This is also expected to facilitate wide ranging debate and deliberations on issues related to media coverage of the continent.

This is also expected to chart a new way forward for media organisations in Africa to play a more positive role in the continent’s development agenda.

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South Sudan Urges Sudan, Neighbors Not to Let Opponent Launch Rebellion
September 28, 2016 | 0 Comments

South Sudan’s government urged Sudan and regional states on Tuesday not to let opposition leader Riek Machar launch a new rebellion, after he threatened a return to the battlefield unless demands needed to revive a peace deal were met.

Machar is in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, having fled South Sudan after fighting flared between his supporters and those of his rival President Salva Kiir in July. The two had signed a shaky peace deal in 2015 after two years of conflict.

After talks in Khartoum involving senior commanders and officials in the SPLM-In-Opposition (SPLM-IO) last week, Machar and his allies in a statement ordered their forces to reorganize for “armed resistance” to Kiir’s government.

“If the peace agreement can be revived then we can go back to Juba, but if not then armed resistance is an option,” Machar’s spokesman James Gatdet Dak told Reuters in Nairobi, adding the government must reappoint Machar, let more troops return to Juba with Machar, allow the swift deployment of a regional protection force and scrap decisions taken since July.

The growing tensions threaten to plunge South Sudan, which won independence from Sudan in 2011, back into full-blown conflict.

The regional grouping IGAD, which includes Sudan, has told both sides to halt the violence and aims to send a protection force to secure the peace, a move that has U.N. backing.

“We are appealing to all IGAD member state not to allow Riek Machar and his group to use their soil, including Sudan, to stage attacks and as a springboard for organizing violence against the people and transitional government,” deputy government spokesman Akol Paul Kordi told Reuters.

Pointing to splits in the opposition, Kordi said the SPLM-IO faction in Juba had sacked Machar and the former vice president had no right to make demands on the Juba government from Sudan as “he is in Khartoum as a private citizen.”

Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said his government would not allow the armed opposition to attack South Sudan from its territory, according to a report by the Paris-based Sudan Tribune news website.

Machar’s statement had said the transitional government and peace deal had “collapsed”, condemned the appointment of Taban Deng Gai as First Vice President to replace Machar and demanded the rapid deployment of the U.N.-backed protection force.

The statement called for the reorganization of the SPLM-IO “so that it can wage a popular armed resistance” against Kiir.

*VOA

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South Sudan rebel chief issues war call from exile
September 25, 2016 | 0 Comments
South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar left the country following violent clashes last month and is now in a "safe" country in the region, his aides say (AFP Photo/Zacharias Abubeker)

South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar left the country following violent clashes last month and is now in a “safe” country in the region, his aides say (AFP Photo/Zacharias Abubeker)

Nairobi (AFP) – South Sudan’s rebel leader issued a call for renewed war with the government this weekend, declaring the collapse of an internationally-backed peace deal.

Former vice president Riek Machar is in exile in Khartoum where he fled following fighting in the South Sudanese capital Juba in July.

In a statement received by AFP on Sunday, Machar said he intended to “wage a popular armed resistance against the authoritarian and fascist regime of President Salva Kiir in order to bring peace, freedom, democracy and the rule of law in the country.”

Machar’s leadership of a faction of rebels, known as the SPLA/IO, is in question with former ally Taban Deng Gai having taken his position in government and international backers of the peace plan urging that efforts to end the war should move ahead, with or without Machar.

It is unclear whether armed rebel forces and allied militias on the ground in South Sudan follow Machar or Deng.

South Sudan’s civil war began in December 2013 when Kiir accused Machar of plotting a coup.

The conflict, characterised by attacks on civilians, ethnic massacres and appalling human rights abuses, has killed tens of thousands of people and forced millions from their homes.

Machar said the international community should “declare the regime in Juba as a rogue government and a spoiler of peace that is threatening regional and international peace and security.”

He also called for “resuscitation of the peace agreement”, for Deng’s dismissal, and for the immediate deployment of a proposed 4,000-strong UN protection force.

The statement is Machar’s first public declaration since he fled Juba after fierce fighting with Kiir’s army. He termed that outbreak of violence an “assassination attempt”.

John Clement Kuc, a spokesman with the rebel faction in Juba that follows Deng dismissed Machar’s declarations.

“This group don’t want peace in South Sudan. They believe in resolving issues through war,” Kuc said.

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