The ANC alone does not have the two-thirds parliamentary majority required to amend the constitution but would be able to pass changes with the support of the EFF.
Djibouti does not recognize the Arbitral Award rendered by the London International Arbitral Court
August 6, 2018 | 0 Comments
Foretia Foundation Gets Special Consultative Status with the UN.
August 6, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Prince Kurupati
The past recent months in Cameroon have been turbulent as the country continues to battle its demons. However, it’s not all doom and gloom as several individuals and institutions are taking it upon themselves to change and turn the prevailing situation into something better, in turn, uplifting the lives of Cameroonians. One such institution is the Denis & Lenora Foretia Foundation Inc. whose efforts and work in bringing much-needed change and development to Cameroon were recognised by the United Nations on the 24th of July this year.
On the 24th of July 2018, the Denis & Lenora Foretia Foundation Inc. became one of the very first institutions in the history of Cameroon to be bestowed with the prestigious Special consultative status. The Special consultative status is a special grant that’s bestowed to organisations which are doing incredible work in the field of economics, social development and governance.
Speaking after the historic decision by the United Nations, Foretia Foundation co Chair, Dr Denis Foretia could not hide his happiness. In his own words, Dr Denis Foretia said that “Becoming an organisation in special consultative with the United Nations is a strong recognition of the impact of the work the Foundation has been doing in uplifting Cameroonians and seek Cameroonian solutions to Cameroonian problems. This recognition serves as a major encouragement to our team, to continue open doors for many and seek ways of improving the livelihood of fellow citizens.”
In order to have a better appreciation of the reasons that motivated the United Nations to grant the Foretia Foundation the Special consultative status, it’s imperative that we first take a look at the work being done by the organisation.
Work that’s being done by the Foretia Foundation to uplift the lives of Cameroonians
Foretia Foundation is involved in a number of activities in Cameroon all of which are aimed towards improving the standard of living in the country as well as uplifting the great nation of Cameroon. The first program that’s being run by the organisation is the Sustainable Development Program. Under this program, the organisation crafts and formulates alternative policies meant at ensuring equitable economic growth today and for future generations. The organisation drafts alternate policies in a number of fields including education, public health, and private-sector growth as well as government policies.
Secondly, the organisation runs a Governance & Democracy Initiative. The aim of this initiative is to encourage Cameroonians to actively take part in governance issues. Foretia Foundation views citizen participation as a key tool in building robust democratic institutions and as such it organises regular policy forums, workshops, debates with the masses in an effort to arouse the interest in active citizenry.
Thirdly, Foretia Foundation believes that “Small businesses help drive economic growth by creating employment and allowing the growth of a veritable middle class.” As such, the organisation runs a program termed the Small Business & Entrepreneurship program. The main focus of this problem is to empower young people and women to venture into entrepreneurship as a way of reducing the high unemployment rate. The foundation empowers young women and people in a number of ways including improving access to market opportunities, reducing the problem of information asymmetry by providing real-time information of business opportunities, facilitating collaboration with various stakeholders and promoting a strong business culture in the country.
The organisation also works hard to tackle the significant health challenges that are faced in Cameroon. Through different strategies some of which include formulating alternative health policies that focus on food security and childhood illnesses among many others.
Foretia Foundation also has its own think-tank, the Nkafu Policy Institute. This think-tank covers a lot of areas and its work is not confined to Cameroon alone but it also provides independent, in-depth and insightful policy recommendations that advance the economies of other sub-Saharan countries.
Lastly, the foundation plays its part in reducing the high unemployment rate in the country as it has an internship program that ‘employs’ and imparts undergraduates, graduates or professional students with relevant skills which will make them succeed in their future endeavours in the corporate world. Among other things, the interns at the Foretia Foundation assist the Nkafu Policy Institute with extensive research, analysis, briefing and report writing for current initiatives and in preparation of policy briefs, reviews and analyses, assist with administrative responsibilities relating to the daily operations of the institute, and they are also responsible for developing the content for all foundation events such as lectures, panels, conferences and forums.
What the Special consultative status means for the Foretia Foundation.
Marc-André Dorel, the Acting Chief NGO Branch Office of Intergovernmental Support and Coordination for Sustainable Development Department of Economic and Social Affairs was the official entrusted by the United Nations to relay the message in a letter that the Foretia Foundation had been granted the Special consultative status.
In his letter, Marc-André Dorel stated what the Foretia Foundation stands to benefit as a special consultative partner to the United Nations. Firstly, the consultative status enables the organisation to actively engage with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and its subsidiary bodies, as well as with the United Nations Secretariat, programmes, funds and agencies in a number of ways. This means the foundation will be able to consult with the Member States and the United Nations system at large, based on the nature and scope of work that it undertakes.
Before ECOSOC relays its agenda to the public, the foundation will have the privilege to be informed about the provisional agenda of ECOSOC. After reviewing ECOSOC agenda before its release to the public, the foundation will also have the privilege to request the Secretary-General, through the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, to place items of special interest in the provisional agenda. However, the final and binding decision lies with Secretary-General whether to incorporate the request/s or to ignore them.
Foretia Foundation also now can attend meetings and have direct access to the United Nations. The foundation is free to either designate official representatives to the United Nations Headquarters in New York and the United Nations offices in Geneva and Vienna (permanent) or sit as observers at public meetings of ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies, General Assembly, Human Rights Council and other United Nations intergovernmental decision-making bodies (temporary). For the former, nominated representatives are required to collect their grounds passes in person at designated locations in New York, Geneva and Vienna.
In addition to providing written statements to ECOSOC, the Foretia Foundation now as a result of its consultative status can present oral presentations before the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations.
Additionally, as a consultative status, Foretia Foundation now has the privilege of using United Nations facilities including accommodation for conferences or smaller meetings related to the work of ECOSOC, facilities for obtaining documents during public meetings of the General Assembly that deal with matters in the economic and social and related fields, access to United Nations press documentation services, and the use of United Nations libraries.
In return to the above privileges, Foretia Foundation is required to fulfil its own set of responsibilities. These responsibilities include submitting quadrennial reports as and when they are required i.e. once every four years. Failure to abide by these responsibilities will lead to the suspension and withdrawal of the consultative status.
Other notable factors which may lead to the suspension and cancellation of the consultative status include involvement either directly or through its affiliates or representatives acting on its behalf, clearly abuses its status by engaging in a pattern of acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and if there exists substantiated evidence of influence from proceeds resulting from internationally recognized criminal activities. In addition, the organisation has to refrain from entering into business arrangements on behalf of the United Nations or misuse the United Nations’ name or logo for endorsement of an organization’s activities in any way.
Will Djibouti Become Latest Country to Fall Into China’s Debt Trap?
August 6, 2018 | 0 Comments
|The African country houses a key U.S. military base, making it a particular concern for Washington|
WASHINGTON D.C., United States of America, August 1, 2018/ — Djibouti lies more than 2,500 miles from Sri Lanka but the East African country faces a predicament similar to what its peer across the sea confronted last year: It has borrowed more money from China than it can pay back.
In both countries, the money went to infrastructure projects under the aegis of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Sri Lanka racked up more than $8 billion worth of debt to Chinese sovereign-backed banks at interest rates as high as 7 percent, reaching a level too high to service. With nearly all its revenue going toward debt repayment, last year Sri Lanka resorted to signing over a 70 percent stake and a 99-year lease to the new Chinese-built port at Hambantota.
Djibouti is projected to take on public debt worth around 88 percent of the country’s overall $1.72 billion GDP, with China owning the lion’s share of it, according to a report published in March by the Center for Global Development.
It, too, may face the possibility of handing over some key assets to China.
As Chinese President Xi Jinping continues to push lending to developing countries, policy analysts are sounding alarm bells about the fate of smaller nations biting off more than they can chew—and the strategic possibilities opening to China as a result.
Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to revive and expand the ancient Silk Road trade routes on land and at sea, has become the crown jewel of his foreign policy since 2013, shortly after coming to power. Government officials regularly talk up the initiative and state media outlets give it broad coverage.
But many of the projects have stalled in the early stages of planning, and the dollar amount attached is left vague.
More importantly, the countries involved are often seduced by the appeal of large infrastructure projects that are financially destabilizing. Eight of the 68 countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative currently face unsustainable debt levels, including Pakistan and the Maldives, according the Center for Global Development’s report.
Its vulnerability notwithstanding, Djibouti has been keen to work with Beijing. It partnered with China Merchants Ports Holdings Company, or CMPort—the same state-owned corporation that gained control of the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka—to build the Doraleh Multipurpose Port. That project was completed in May 2017.
Earlier this month, Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh described the new Djibouti International Free Trade Zone, a $3.5-billion venture with China, as a “hope for thousands of young jobseekers.”
But the most noteworthy development in Djibouti—and the most worrying for the United States—is China’s first overseas military base, which is located 6 miles from the U.S. military’s only permanent base in Africa. From Camp Lemonnier, where about 4,000 U.S. troops are stationed, the United States coordinates operations in “areas of active hostilities” in Somalia and Yemen.
In the past year, U.S. diplomats and generals have grown increasingly concerned that the base will provide China a foothold at the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a strategic chokepoint in international maritime trade. About 4 percent of the global oil supply passes through this waterway connecting the Gulf of Aden with the Red Sea each year.
Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, who commands the U.S. Africa Command, said in a testimony before the House Armed Services Committee in March that the United States was “carefully monitoring Chinese encroachment and emergent military presence” in Djibouti. Local relations between the two great-power rivals have become especially strained in 2018, with each lodging grievances against the other.
China, for its part, maintains that the naval facility will serve as a logistics hub for its anti-piracy, humanitarian, and emergency evacuation missions. The live-ammunition drills conducted at the base should be interpreted as “legitimate and reasonable” exercises for counterterrorism operations, a commentator told the state-owned Global Times.
But satellite images of the People’s Liberation Army base may reveal its true purpose. A retired Indian Army intelligence officer noted last September that the 200-acre facility includes at least 10 barracks, an ammunition depot, and a heliport. Four layers of protective fences surround the perimeter; the two inner fences are eight to 10 meters tall and studded with guard posts. The purported logistical support base is rather a fortress that may accommodate thousands of soldiers. More than 2,500 Chinese peacekeeping personnel are already stationed in countries such as South Sudan, Liberia, and Mali.
“There is nowhere else in the world where the U.S. military is essentially co-located in close proximity to a country it considers a strategic competitor,” said Kate Almquist Knopf, the director of the Defense Department’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies.
“This is not something the Pentagon is used to,” she said.
One concern is that the Djibouti government, facing mounting debt and increasing dependence on extracting rents, would be pressured to hand over control of Camp Lemonnier to China.
In a letter to National Security Advisor John Bolton in May, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), two members of the Senate Armed Service Committee, wrote that President Guelleh seems willing to “sell his country to the highest bidder,” undermining U.S. military interests.
“Djibouti’s now identified as one of those countries that are at high risk of debt distress. So, that should be sending off all sorts of alarm bells for Djiboutians as well as for the countries that really rely on Djibouti, such as the United States,” said Joshua Meservey, a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation.
“Policymakers are becoming more and more aware of this. The challenge is that there isn’t a strong sense of how to effectively push back or compete with China on some of these issues.”
Meservey says there are simple steps the United States could take to start balancing out China’s expanding influence, including institutionalizing the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit—a one-off event in 2014 hosted by President Barack Obama. The U.S. government should also incentivize private sector investment in Africa, he said, thus creating competition with Chinese state-backed dollars on the continent.
Other analysts believe China’s debt-driven expansion could backfire on Beijing. Jonathan Hillman, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said one “underappreciated dimension” of China’s predatory lending projects in Africa was the uncertainty that Beijing takes on by doling out trillions of dollars abroad.
“If these projects do not go well, there is a financial and reputational risk to China,” Hillman said.
“The port in Sri Lanka gets a lot of attention, but not too far from the port is an airport that now no plane flies into. That’s not a good advertisement for Chinese soft power or China’s strength or reliability as a partner.”
*This article was first published on Foreign Policy: https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/07/31/will-djibouti-become-latest-country-to-fall-into-chinas-debt-trap/. Amy Cheng is an editorial intern at Foreign Policy. @Amy_23_Cheng
AccorHotels Expands Presence in Nigeria
August 6, 2018 | 0 Comments
-New project signings mark the launch of MGallery and Pullman brands in Nigeria
AccorHotels, the world’s leading travel & lifestyle group, today announced the beginning of a new partnership with TomHawksworth Limited, a prominent property and real estate developer, with the signing of Pullman and MGallery Ikoyi in Nigeria. The signings mark the launch of both in the country and are expected to open in late 2020.
The 100-room MGallery and 204-room Pullman, situated in the prime neighbourhood of Ikoyi, are both in close proximity to the business area of Victoria Island. The MGallery Ikoyi benefits from easy access to the upmarket residential neighbourhood of Ikoyi and Banana Island. The Pullman Ikoyi, located on Ojora Road, enjoys prime visibility and direct access to destinations such as the Lekki Area.
Following the signing, Olivier Granet, Chief Executive Officer of AccorHotels Middle East and Africa (MEA), commented: “Since opening our very first hotel in Nigeria almost 20 years ago, we believed in the long term potential of the destination having witnessed incredible growth as one of the largest economies in Africa. As the market continues to evolve, there is a need for international brands and it is our commitment to fill this gap with two of our leading upper upscale brands – MGallery and Pullman.”
“With today’s signings with TomHawksworth Group, our valued partner, we are delighted to be entrusted with such an ambitious project. It not only reinforces our regional presence within Abuja and Lagos, but throughout West Africa and the entire continent, as well. Our leadership position in the luxury and upscale segment has taken shape with a growing interest for Pullman with over 15 hotels in our Africa and Middle East network as well as our storied collection of boutique hotels under the MGallery brand, with a property in Addis Ababa to open within the year.”
Engineer Adekola Ogundayo, Managing Director of TomHawksworth Limited said: “The signing of these two landmark agreements reflects our vision and mission to become one of the leading property developers and managers in Nigeria. Through our partnership with AccorHotels, we are delighted to introduce a boutique brand like MGallery and a cosmopolitan upper upscale concept such as Pullman to Nigeria. We look forward to working with AccorHotels to develop and manage what will undoubtedly become flagship hotels.”
MGallery Ikoyi features innovative restaurant and lounge concepts including an all-day dining restaurant, fine dining restaurant and lobby bar, all helping to establish MGallery as a lifestyle destination within Lagos. Drawing inspiration from its surroundings in Ikoyi, MGallery will offer a members’ only club, providing for an exclusive experience in an enviable location. Leisure and fitness based amenities also include a fully equipped gym, swimming pool and a well-appointed spa.
In-line with Pullman’s appeal to cosmopolitan travellers, Pullman Ikoyi features an eclectic range of dining options, including an all-day dining restaurant, pool bar, fine dining restaurant and lobby bar. Retaining the brand’s values of comfort and immersive design, the Pullman Ikoyi serves as an urban refuge with a spa, gym and pool. Pullman Ikoyi includes dedicated meetings and events facilities which will become available following the completion of a second phase of development, including a ballroom and state-of-the-art meeting rooms.
A collection of inimitably enchanting, unique boutique hotels, the debut of MGallery in Nigeria, is a milestone in the expansion of the brand across Africa. MGallery places story making at the heart of the services, amenities, décor and dining concepts across each hotel. Offering a mix of Heritage, Serenity and Signature hotels, MGallery hotels provide one-of-a-kind moments, spirited by local experiences, lively food and beverages and customized discovery tours. MGallery Ikoyi will join four other MGallery hotels located in Africa.
Pullman Hotels & Resorts is a cosmopolitan collection, delivering a modern, upscale, upbeat and immersive experience with global zeitgeist. Pullman is a pioneering travel brand with a remarkable history, dating back more than 150 years. Pullman has become a prominent upper upscale brand in Africa with five properties located across gateway cities and far-flung destinations such as Marrakech, Douala and Kinshasa. Existing flagship Pullman properties in Dakar and Abidjan are also undergoing extensive refurbishments to elevate the brand further within the continent. The brand will make its debut in Nairobi and Addis Ababa in the near future.
AccorHotels has eight hotels in operation and in the pipeline in Nigeria. Following the successful reopening
of the fully renovated Pullman Dakar and Pullman Abidjan, the committed network (operational and pipeline) of AccorHotels in the Middle East and Africa is over 300 hotels, representing 80,000 rooms across 30 countries in the region.
AccorHotels is a world-leading travel & lifestyle group and digital innovator offering unique experiences in more than 4,300 hotels, resorts and residences, as well as in over 10,000 of the finest private homes aroun d the globe. Benefiting from dual expertise as an investor and operator, AccorHotels operates in 100 countries. Its portfolio includes internationally renowned luxury brands such as Raffles, Sofitel Legend, SO/, Sofitel, Fairmont, onefinestay, MGallery by Sofitel, Pullman and Swissôtel, the mid-range boutique hotel brands 25hours, Novotel, Mercure, Mama Shelter and Adagio, and very popular budget brands such as JO&JOE, ibis, ibis Styles and ibis budget, as well as the regional brands Grand Mercure, The Sebel and hotelF1. AccorHotels provides innovative end-to-end services across the entire traveler experience, notably through the acquisition of John Paul, world leader in concierge services. With an unmatched collection of brands and rich history spanning close to five decades, AccorHotels, along with its global team of more than 250,000 dedicated women and men, has a purposeful and heartfelt mission: to make every guest Feel Welcome. Guests enjoy access to one of the world’s most rewarding hotel loyalty programs – Le Club AccorHotels. AccorHotels is active in its local communities and committed to sustainable development and solidarity through PLANET 21, a comprehensive program that brings together employees, guests and partners to drive sustainable growth.
Chad: Austerity measures killing students’ dreams and ambitions
August 6, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Balkissa Ide Siddo*
The wind blew and coloured the landscape in dusk-like orange as we settled to meet with a group of university students under a neem tree in a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Chad’s capital, N’Djamena.
It was about 5.30PM. My colleague and I were part-way through a field mission to investigate the devastating impact of government-mandated austerity measures on ordinary people, and we were eager to hear from some of the many students whose bright futures were now in doubt.
16 public university students from different parts of the country had gathered to discuss, to describe to us the financial hardships they have faced since the government decided in August 2016 to scrap the US$53 (XAF 28,000) monthly scholarships for all students, except for those enrolled in medical schools, at vocational universities or studying abroad.
After an introduction about the objectives of the meeting, one of the students stood up and set the tone:
“These decisions are unfair and contradictory to the authorities’ claim according to which education is a key priority […]. They did not consult us,” he said.
“They said they will reinvest the money saved (from cancelling the scholarships) to improve our study conditions through the university student welfare centre… Nothing was done. Our study conditions are dire. Did you visit the Toukra University? We don’t have electricity it’s been over a year now and water on the campus is scarce […]. When we protested against the decision, we were beaten up, arrested and some of us were imprisoned”.
One by one, the students took turn to speak. We listened to their disappointment and sometimes anger over the austerity measures that have sparked numerous protests over the past two years. Even the wind calmed down, as if lending an ear to their testimonies.
Many scholarships scrapped
Besides healthcare, education has been a major casualty of the government’s severe spending cuts. Almost one third of all higher education students in Chad have been affected by the government’s abolition of the monthly scholarships. This is especially crippling for students from marginalized communities such as those from rural areas and poor family backgrounds.
Most of the students that spoke to us under the neem tree come from rural areas and used their scholarships to pay their rent, food, transportation to the university and other bills. Now that these have been scrapped, many students are finding themselves in a dire situation.
“I have six months’ rent arrears and I do not know where to go for support,” said Bachir, and orphan whose family live in a village.
“Before, I used the scholarship – even though it came late – to pay my rent and other needs. Now it doesn’t exist. Since it was cancelled by the authorities, I don’t know what to do.”
Jobs are scarce in Chad
Some of the luckier students have been able to find jobs as security guards, selling cellphone credit cards or driving motorcycle taxis. But then they struggle to combine work and study, with the majority too often forced to miss classes to earn a little more to make ends meet.
Officials from the Ministry of Higher Education have told us that they plan to reintroduce scholarships for disadvantaged students and to increase the budget of the student’s welfare centre to improve study conditions, but they admitted that none of this had happened and could not confirm when it would.
Piling on further misery – increasing registration fees
In October 2017, the authorities made students’ lives even more difficult by doubling the registration fees for public universities – except for students at medical and vocational schools. A new student now has to pay US$94 to enrol (XAF 50,000). A new re-registration fee was introduced for returning students who must now pay US$53 (XAF 28,000) to continue their studies. Previously, re-registration fees were subsidized by the government.
These higher fees have made it even more difficult for students to pay for their courses and their bills. Most of the 16 students we met told us they feared not being able to continue their studies.
They particularly worried about their friends from rural areas and poorer backgrounds because this new measure would stop people from embarking on the path to higher education, denying them a better future.
Peaceful protests are met with violence and prison
In protest at the negative impact the government’s austerity cuts have had on their lives and hopes of academic success, many students have taken to the streets in peaceful demonstrations. On several occasions they faced police violence, beatings, and arrests and in some cases imprisonment. Three of them and a 21-year old high school student who joined our discussion later, were arrested and sentenced to prison after taking part in protests against the impact of austerity measures on education.
From January to March 2018, Amnesty International has documented the arrest of at least 150 people for “engaging in unauthorized protests” and “public disorder”. The majority of those arrested were students, at least 42 of them were sentenced to prison terms ranging from one to four months.
There is a different way
Instead of using measures that are hitting some of the poorest hardest whether in the education or health sector, the Chadian government should look for alternative ways of balancing their budget. Closing tax loopholes and tackling corruption would have been not just fairer but more effective options in addressing the revenue gap. According to the IMF, Chad lost US$1.09 billion to tax evasion in 2013. This amount is nearly double the country’s total education and health care spending in the same year, which was US$555 million before cuts were applied.
Keeping promises and meeting legal obligations
I can’t help but think about what President Idriss Deby Itno said during the global Partnership for Education Financing Conference in Dakar in February 2018. Referring to poverty, underdevelopment, conflict and terrorism, President Itno said: “The only sure way to combat these scourges in a sustainable way is to ensure that all children, including the most marginalized, have a good education.”
During the same summit, he also announced that the Chadian government is committed and determined to increase the share of the national budget for education to 20 per cent of the national budget by 2020.
After nightfall, we left the group of students after a few words of encouragement. On our way back to our hotel, my colleague and I were silent. One question remained in my mind: Will the commitment made by President Idriss Deby Itno during the 2018 global Partnership for Education Financing Conference be a reality one day for all these Chadian students yearning for accessible quality education and a better future?
It’s in the hands of the authorities to improve the prospects of all young people in the country.
As a start the authorities need to carry out an assessment of the impact of austerity measures on the rights of Chadian people to access education and other sectors such as health and social services. Such an assessment should be used to guide the law and policy reform needed to ensure that Chad meets its legal obligations to guarantee that everybody has the opportunity to enjoy their economic and social rights.
On 16 July, Amnesty International launched a report to highlight the consequences of the austerity measures on the population’s economic, social and cultural rights.
*Balkissa Ide Siddo, Amnesty International Central Africa Researcher
South Sudanese foes sign final peace deal
August 5, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Deng Machol
Kampala – South Sudan warring parties signed final peace deal on Sunday evening in Khartoum, in an efforts ending more than four years of conflict in the youngest nation.
President Salva Kiir, opposition leader Riek Machar, a representative of the former political detainees and representatives for other South Sudan opposition groups signed on the agreement during a signing ceremony at Sudan’s Presidential Palace in Khartoum, capital Sudan.
This peace agreement focuses on powers – sharing (governance) and security between the warring parties.
Sudanese foreign minister Al-Dirdiri Mohamed Ahmed announced that the holdout opposition groups have finally agreed to sign the deal.
This direct peace talks amongst warring parties were hosted under patronage of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.
According to this peace, president Kiir will led the transitional government for 36 months, with Riek Machar reinstated as the country’s first vice president and more four vice presidents.
The deal also provides for 35 ministries during the transitional period. According to the deal, there will be 550 members of parliament.
Kiir’s side will take 20 slots in the new 35-member government, while Machar’s SPLM-IO and other smaller opposition groups will take the rest.
Previous peace deal signed held for a months before fighting erupted again in 2016.
South Sudan has just returned to civil war in 2013, two years after her independence from Sudan in 2011. Fighting has claimed tens thousands of people and displaced 2.5 people from their homes. Conflict has ruined oil production, caused economic crisis in the country.
In Nigeria, Anglophone Cameroonians turn to low paid labour
August 3, 2018 | 0 Comments
Thousands who fled a government crackdown on protests struggle for basic necessities in neighbouring Nigeria.
With a hoe and a machete, the 34-year-old asks locals if they have any work for her on their farms.
She weeds or breaks cocoa pods.
“I get paid between 500 to 1000 naira ($2 to $4) a day,” she tells Al Jazeera as she works the soil in a small vegetable field. “I never tasted this kind of suffering when I was in my village in Cameroon.”
Obi, a mother of six, is among over 180, 000 Cameroonians who fled their homes following a violent crackdown by the Cameroonian government on Anglophone separatists who declared independence from the French-speaking majority on October 1.
More than 21,000 people have crossed the border to Nigeria, according to NGOs, though local emergency officials say the number could be higher, at up to 50,000.
Tensions rose in late 2016 with a strike by barristers and then teachers, both of whom were protesting against the use of French in schools and courts in Cameroon’s English-speaking northwest and southwest regions.
More protests followed in major cities in the regions, with local residents joining rallies.
As calls for either integration or autonomy grew louder, the government stepped in with heavy-handed tactics.
Security forces were deployed to the regions; protests were met with violence, arrests and killings. Hundreds of homes were razed.
The Ambazonia Defence Forces and other rebel groups sprang up and fought back, and armed separatists kidnapped civil servants, torched government buildings, and killed soldiers.
We left everything behind and fled to the forest. My husband tried to go back and gather some things and he was killed.-
STELLA OBI, REFUGEE FROM CAMEROON
Most Cameronian refugees settled in Cross River state, which has a border with southwest Cameroon.
In Agbokim Waterfalls village, Obi and thousands of refugees have little or no access to food, medicine, education, clothing, drinking water and sanitation facilities.
Zimbabwe election: Emmerson Mnangagwa declared winner
August 3, 2018 | 0 Comments
Electoral officials say ZANU-PF leader won presidential poll marred by violence and rigging allegations.
South Africa to seek constitutional change for land reform
August 2, 2018 | 0 Comments
Johannesburg (AFP) – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday that his ruling party would seek to change the constitution to speed up redistribution of land to the country’s poor black majority.
Much of the most productive land in South Africa is still owned by white people, 24 years after the end of apartheid which systematically disenfranchised black people.
White farmers control 73 percent of arable areas and it is widely understood to be that land which could be forcibly seized and transferred to the previously disadvantaged.
“It has become patently clear that our people want the constitution to be more explicit about expropriation of land without compensation,” he said in a televised address.
“The (ruling) ANC will, through the parliamentary process, finalise a proposed amendment to the constitution that outlines more clearly the conditions under which expropriation of land without compensation can be effected,” he added, vowing the change would “unlock economic growth”.
The issue of whether to take land without compensating current owners is by far the most divisive and emotive issue facing modern South Africa with critics drawing parallels with Zimbabwe’s disastrous reforms.
Until now the government has pursued a policy of “willing buyer, willing seller” to enable land transfer.
But in February lawmakers voted to establish a commission charged with rewriting the constitution to allow for forcible land transfers without compensation.
Observers have suggested constitutional reform is a ploy by the African National Congress (ANC), which has faced political pressure from the radical leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party, to win votes in elections due next year.
“The intention of this proposed amendment is to promote redress, advance economic development and increase agricultural production and food security,” said Ramaphosa.
He has previously endorsed land reform on the condition that it should not hurt agricultural production or economic output.
Terrorizing the Terrorist: Cameroun Warfare and Human Rights Abuses in Ambazonia
August 1, 2018 | 0 Comments
(Life In A War Zone : 30 Days in Ambazonia/Anglophone Cameroon (7))
By Solomon Ngu*
I had started writing a piece about social media and the war in Ambazonia when three high profile images circulated on the internet: the execution of women and the babies they carried on their back, the rape of a 17-year old nursing mother and the killing of a priest. All of these crimes were carried out by the Cameroun soldiers. The first act was in the north of the country where we have the Boko Haram insurgency. This atrocity was possibly recorded by another soldier. The second and the third took place in Southern Cameroons. These incidences of inhumanity have been traumatizing, leading me to reflect deeply on why these soldiers felt so entitled to rape a woman or kill an unarmed priest (among many other atrocities). It dawned on me that they were in fact dealing with people they have classified as terrorists.
Anyone living in a Western country understands that the underlying message of terrorism is associated, rightly or wrong, with Muslim fundamentalists after September 11th 2001. It now constitutes part of anti-Muslim sentiment or Islamophobia whereby Westerners associate the Muslim religion with violence. Emerging from this narrative and undergirded by an incitement of fear and panic is a definition of terrorism for purely political purposes. For example, we now witness that dictators in non-western countries have found it convenient to consolidate authoritarianism by describing political opposition as terrorism. This desperate call for attention is done by leaders who have realized that the foundation on which their power is built has become shaky. To safe themselves from an impending doom, they turn the gun against their own citizens who mysteriously become terrorists overnight. Among other things, identifying the terrorist is an appeal to Western powers, to warn them that their economic interests are at stake.
When Biya described protesting Anglophones as terrorists, he was in fact appealing to a Western audience, especially France, a former colonial master of Cameroun (Francophone Cameroon). Worth of note is the fact that over the past fifty-seven years, France has been keen at Francophonizing Ambazonia through French Cameroun. A couple of months ago, a video circulated online in which archbishop emeritus Cardinal Christian Tumi mentioned that at some point during his career while visiting France, he was congratulated – probably judging by his impeccable French – for their effort in Francophonizing the Anglophones. The French official was unaware that Cardinal Tumi was an Anglophone!
One must not downplay the language used to categorize citizens as terrorists. The language we use most often shape our reality of the world. This is not to mean language reveals an objective world, because the way we see the world out there is socially constructed. Thus, we see terrorists out there only after we define who they are and where we can find them. It is purely a matter of who has the power to classify who the terrorists are. Simply put, a terrorist frightens the population and for this reason, s/he is an unwanted element in the society. But it does not end there. Categorizing people as terrorists is a way of degrading their bodies and humanity. It thus sounds logical to torture them in any possible way since the belief is that they can inflict pain on others.
President Paul Biya and his military guys have produced the Ambazonian terrorist in war talk, which is to say the condition has been set for the soldiers to abuse, extort, kill, loot, etc, with impunity, with their action informed by the belief that they are fighting monstrous beings. In other words, the soldiers sent to occupy Anglophone towns and villages have the image of Ambazonian monsters locked up in their heads. The conduct of the war in terrorist territory demands that cruelty and any form of human rights are suspended. Field evidence is showing that most terrorists in the war in Ambazonia are civilians. It is thanks to social media that we are getting a glimpse of how the soldiers kill citizens for pleasure. Priests have been killed. Girls have been raped. Elderly people who are too old to run into the forests have been burnt alive. The soldiers have carried out drive-by shooting/killing of civilians who stand in front of their houses. Entire villages have been burnt and crops destroyed. Schools, hospitals and churches have come under attack (some burnt down as well). In short, the terror campaign is all-encompassing and is directed at Southern Cameroonians, their institutions and livelihood.
It is only when footage of these atrocities is revealed to the public that we see a certain level of resignation on the part of the government and its supporters who all along congratulate soldiers for the good work they do in eliminating the terrorists. The images also contradict their narrative of the Cameroun professional soldier. We all know those defending Ambazonia are armed and are ready to defend themselves and their communities which logically means the government soldiers are expected to confront these Fighters. It is unclear why all Ambazonian are targeted. When it comes to the killings, the minister of communication simply says the victims of soldier atrocities merely suffer from stray bullets. What about the looting? What about the burning of villages? Some activists online have mockingly said in the case of rape that the victims suffer from stray dicks. This may sound humorous but it points to the fact that the soldiers are simply irresponsible and also shows the extent to which they can do whatever they want because they have the license to do so. These attempts at justifying or diverting the soldiers’ cruelty in fact tell that the leadership is satisfied with what the soldiers are doing to the supposed terrorists.
But there is more reason for the denials. It is unsettling for the supporters of the war to admit that the soldiers’ conducts are unprofessional simply because this admission would mean they are implicated in lootings, murders, executions, rapes, summary executions, mass graves, torture, burning of villages, etc – which is what is going on right now as I write. This explains why Mr Issa Tchiroma, the minister of communication would deny all facts, terming them opinion, until a video about rape, torture and execution emerges to shut him up. Right now, we know just too much about the misconduct at the war front. What more can they deny that we do not yet know? NOTHING! All forms of war malpractices have already been exercised on Ambazonians.
The atrocities committed by the soldiers are not unfortunate occurrences; they are part of the war and have been used right from the onset to instill fear in the minds of the people. The military is doing exactly what it has been instructed to do. Recall that in September/October 2016, university girls were raped leading to the fiery speech in the parliament by Joseph Wirba, an Anglophone opposition MP who told the government that the people of Ambazonia are not the slaves of the Francophones, their territory was not captured in a war and that they have the right to defend themselves. Also, in Feb 2018, a video showing the torture of Sam Soya, a disabled man, circulated online. His was suspected of knowing people who killed government soldiers. In one of the photos, we see a soldier severing the head of Mr. Soya with a knife. Images of unarmed civilians tortured or killed at the war front circulate daily on social media. Hardly does one meet an Ambazonian who does not know of anyone who has been killed or who has become a refugee – fleeing from people who should protect them. I have mentioned earlier in one of the articles that such state terrorism pushes Ambazonians into the arms of the Amba Fighters (https://www.panafricanvisions.com/2018/life-war-zone-30-days-ambazoniaanglophone-cameroon-5/).
At no point can we suspect that Paul Biya misspoke when he referred to protesting Anglophones as terrorists. It’s time we do a critical assessment. Who are terrorists? Are they people whose presence make others to flee their homes into the forest for safety or they are those who are smoked out of their own homes? We are talking here about human beings who have nowhere else to go. And as I speak, these terrorists are in the forests and are tormented by cold and rain at this time of the year. Talk less of access to health facilities.
*This is part of the series Life in a War Zone:30 Days in Ambazonia by Solomon Ngu for PAV under the blog Kamer Blues
President Donald J. Trump Upholds African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Trade Preference Eligibility Criteria with Rwanda
August 1, 2018 | 0 Comments
Rwanda remains eligible to receive non-apparel benefits available under AGOA
WASHINGTON D.C., United States of America, July 31, 2018/ — Today, President Donald J. Trump issued a proclamation regarding Rwanda that enforces the eligibility criteria established by Congress for trade preferences under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). This proclamation suspends the application of duty-free treatment for all apparel products from Rwanda.
“We regret this outcome and hope it is temporary,” said Deputy United States Trade Representative C.J. Mahoney. “But if the AGOA eligibility criteria are to have any meaning, they have to be enforced—particularly where, as here, other AGOA members took action in order remain in compliance. The President’s action today is measured and proportional. It suspends AGOA benefits for a class of imports that totaled $1.5 million in 2017, which accounts for approximately only 3% of Rwanda’s total exports to the United States. Rwanda remains eligible to receive non-apparel benefits available under AGOA, and the President’s action does not affect the vast majority of Rwanda’s exports to the United States. We look forward to working with Rwanda to resolve this issue so that benefits in the apparel sector may be restored.”
When Congress first passed AGOA in 2000, it imposed certain eligibility criteria to encourage recipient countries to adopt free market-oriented development models and to ensure fair market access for United States firms. The AGOA eligibility requirements include: “making continual progress toward establishing . . . a market-based economy . . . [and] the elimination of barriers to United States trade and investment.” 19 U.S.C. 3703(1)(A),(C). The United States Trade Representative (USTR) is charged with enforcing AGOA’s requirements.
An AGOA issue relating to new barriers to United States trade and investment first arose in 2015 when the East African Community (EAC) established a plan to ban imports of used clothing and footwear. The USTR’s engagement on this issue intensified in 2016 when the EAC announced it would phase in the ban by 2019. Thereafter, three EAC AGOA beneficiaries—Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda—worked with the United States and took actions to revise their policies. As a result, they continue to receive full benefits under AGOA. Unfortunately, Rwanda has insisted on keeping in place a policy that has raised tariffs on imports of used apparel and footwear by more than one thousand percent, effectively banning imports of these products.
United States efforts over the past two years to address this issue with the Government of Rwanda have been unsuccessful. As a result, on March 29, 2018, the President determined that Rwanda was not making sufficient progress toward the elimination of barriers to United States trade and investment and was, therefore, out of compliance with AGOA’s eligibility requirements. The President informed the Government of Rwanda of his decision in March, giving Rwanda an additional 60 days to engage with the United States to resolve this problem before the suspension of its apparel benefits under AGOA. Rwanda has, however, continued to insist on retaining its tariffs. The President, therefore, has decided to suspend Rwanda’s duty-free access to the United States for apparel products until Rwanda comes back into compliance with AGOA’s eligibility requirements.
The President believes suspension of AGOA’s benefits, instead of termination of Rwanda’s status as an AGOA beneficiary, is the appropriate remedy in this instance. The Administration supports continued engagement with the aim of restoring market access for used apparel and bringing Rwanda into compliance with AGOA’s eligibility requirements. The President can reinstate full AGOA benefits for Rwanda once he has determined that Rwanda is meeting the eligibility criteria laid out by Congress.
On March 21, 2017, the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART) submitted a petition asserting that the EAC’s 2016 decision to phase in a ban on imports of used clothing and footwear imposes significant economic hardship on the United States used clothing industry and is inconsistent with the AGOA beneficiary criteria for countries to establish a market-based economy and eliminate barriers to United States trade and investment. The petition requested an out-of-cycle review to determine whether Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda – the AGOA-eligible members of the EAC – are meeting AGOA’s eligibility criteria. In its petition, SMART estimated that 40,000 United States jobs related to the collection, processing, and distribution of used clothing and footwear would be negatively affected by the ban. SMART also asserted that the ban would negatively affect tens of thousands of jobs in the secondhand clothing sectors in EAC countries.
The USTR accepted the SMART petition and initiated an out-of-cycle review of Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda’s AGOA eligibility on June 20, 2017. A public hearing was held on July 13, 2017, in Washington D.C., at which officials from Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and the EAC Secretariat testified. The USTR determined that an out-of-cycle review of Kenya’s AGOA eligibility was not warranted due to the government’s commitment to reverse the tariff back to pre-2016 levels, effective July 1, 2017, and a commitment not to ban imports of used clothing through other policy measures. Tanzania and Uganda made similar commitments during the course of the out-of-cycle review.
On March 29, 2018, the President determined that Rwanda was not making sufficient progress toward the elimination of barriers to United States trade and investment, and therefore was out of compliance with AGOA’s eligibility requirements. In particular, Rwanda continued to impose prohibitive tariff rates on imports of used apparel and footwear and indicated its intent to continue to phase in a ban of these products. As a result, the President notified Congress and the Government of Rwanda of his intent to suspend duty-free treatment for all AGOA-eligible apparel products from Rwanda after 60 days.
In order to qualify for AGOA trade benefits, partner countries must meet certain statutory eligibility requirements, including making continual progress toward establishing market-based economies, the rule of law, political pluralism, and elimination of barriers to United States trade and investment.
Kenya:Legislators at loggerhead with President Kenyatta over development projects
August 1, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Samuel OumaPresident Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive to freeze new development projects until the ongoing ones are completed has suffered a blow following resistance from the legislators.
They have slammed the move to have all projects approved by the Treasury and office of the President. South Mugirango legislator Sylvanous Osoro said President has no right to halt the projects which have been budgeted for. He added that the basis of the move needs to be clarified saying some schemes are urgent and affect many Kenyans.
The South Mugirango Member of Parliament claimed that the command has caused trepidation and mix-up among the government officials who do not know which project to launch. The accounting officers in ministries, departments and state corporations have no authority to approve development plans not endorsed by the office of the President and Treasury.
The leaders have requested the government to be clear on what it considers new projects now that the implementations of Big Four Agenda are underway. They noted the order will bar them from fulfilling the promises they made during the campaigns.
“The balance on development projects was the scorecard upon which we asked for re-election. This was the momentum upon which we were given another mandate. We must keep the development momentum,” said North Mugirango legislator Joash Nyamoko.
The irate leaders faulted President Kenyatta for issuing a blanket order against news budgets after the Members of Parliament had passed the budget. They challenged him to follow due process in case he wants to substitute new projects factored in the budget for the ongoing ones.
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua is bearing blame for paralyzing government operations by failing to issue circular expounding the presidential directive.
In July 20, 2018 President issued the directive to stop wastage of resources and habit of government agencies abandoning incomplete projects and jumping to others. He sternly warned all government officers that they will be held liable should they sanction new projects without authority from the National Treasury.
“There will be no new projects that will be embarked on until you complete those that are ongoing,” stated President Kenyatta.