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  • Media Watch: AP's racist photo crop, BBC's Kobe - LeBron mix-up
    As part of our news analysis slot on Africanews, we will be updating a media watch page that deals with major issues of media ongoings across the continent. It will cut across happenings in mainstream and across social media with also a special eye for fake news. AP racist photo, BBC’s Kobe – LeBron mix-up Internet outage in Togo Beninese radio station fires all employees after suspension Burundi arrest journalist over corruption report Ghana remembers slain anti-corruption investigator Cameraman assaulted in Nigeria Ethiopian journalists associational dreams Journalists detained in Uganda and Malawi Western Ethiopia internet cut, Sudan bans pro-Bashir press How racist AP photo ‘helped’ Ugandan activist, BBC’s footage blip A young Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate used Twitter to call out American news outlet AP after she was deliberately cropped out of a photo ostensibly being the only person of colour. She was part of activists during last week’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. She received lots of solidarity from the platform. The AP issued an official apology over the incident. Nakate’s Twitter account has since been verified. Solidarity for Ugandan climate activist over racist AP photo crop— africanews (@africanews) January 25, 2020 Meanwhile, the BBC was caught in a tight corner during coverage of the death of American basketball star, Kobe Bryant, who was killed along with others in a helicopter mishap on Saturday, January 25. The BBC rolled footage of LeBron James whiles reporting Bryant’s death. Social media as usual reacted furiously following which a rectification was effected and an apology issued for what BBC said was a “human error” that fell below their “usual standards.” Africans have been divided on the subject of reactions to Kobe’s death, whiles the larger majority sent condolence messages and shared positive Bryant content, others said Africans should focus on sympathizing when Africans are adversely affected. ⚡️ “African tributes to death of NBA star Kobe Bryant” ????#KobeBraynt— africanews (@africanews) January 27, 2020 Cannot believe the BBC- reporting on Kobe Bryant’s death but showing video footage of LeBron James. If you know you know.— Samira Sawlani (@samirasawlani) January 26, 2020 Togo internet outage after technical fault Togolese were without internet from Wednesday after connectivity dropped across the West African country, internet rights group, NetBlocks reported. Most people reacting to the development on Twitter drew political meanings into the outage alleging that the government was “testing the waters” ahead of presidential polls in February. But another internet rights group, Paradigm Initiative, quoted the state-run Togo Telcom as saying the issue was a technical one which arose from a fault with submarine cables in Spain and Portugal. ⚡️ “Internet outage in Togo has Twitter buzzing despite official reasons” ????️? - Outage started January 22 - Situation was confirmed by netblocks - Net rights body, ParadigmHQ reports operator says its a technical issue - Twitter 'reads' politics— Alfa Shaban (@AlfaAfrican) January 23, 2020 Radio station fires all employees after suspension Beninese private radio station Soleil FM, owned by politician and business mogul Sebastian Adjavon, has fired all 41 employees in the wake of a government suspension of their operations. “We are in cessation of activities since the radio is suspended until further notice by the High Authority for Audiovisual and Communication, the HAAC,” Virgile Ahouansè, a journalist and leader of the staff union told AFP. He said the dismissal letter was delivered on Tuesday. He deplored the suspension stressing that: “the body invested by the constitution to protect press freedom has come to such a radical solution that does not take into account the right to information of Beninese.” In mid-December, the radio, one of the few in opposition in Benin, received a letter from the president of the HAAC ordering “suspend programs until further notice”. Saturnin Djossou, its chief editor confirmed that the station had unsuccessfully applied for a renewal of their license prior to the suspension. Burundi journalist arrested over corruption report A Burundian journalist has been arrested after filing a report on misuse of public funds in the country. Blaise Pascal Kararumiye who works with Radio Isanganiro was arrested on Thursday, his employer confirmed to the BBC. The authorities have not disclosed the charges against the journalist and he was interrogated without a lawyer, station director Sylvere Ntakarutimana added. Ghana remembers slain anti-corruption investigator a year on Ahmed Hussein Suale was an unknown name and face in Ghana until his assassination in January 2019. That one incident became the biggest blot on Ghana’s mediascape in the year under review. Ahmed was a key investigator with undercover journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas. Reports linked his death to a production that unraveled corruption across Ghana football. A loudmoth lawmaker was cited prominently as inciting violence against Ahmed, whose photos he showed on primetime TV. Anas posted a homage on the slain investigator on his social media handles. Meanwhile, the push for justice in the matter of his death continues in Ghana. The West African country has routinely been classed as the freeest space for journalists operating on the continent. You were killed in the pursuit of truth. We will never forget. We will fight till justice prevails.#Justice4Ahmed #JournalismIsNotACrime #SayNoToCorruption— Anas Aremeyaw Anas (@anasglobal) January 16, 2020 Ethiopian journalists move to form association From a top jailer of journalists only a few years ago, April 2018 marked a turning point in Ethiopia after Prime Minister Abiy freed all detained journalists. The media scape has been crucial in driving Abiy’s reforms despite threats of hate speech and fake news. Journalists in the country have now moved towards the formation of a professional association as pertains across much of Africa and the world. This is not the first time post-2018 that the idea has been raised. In its 2019 report, Reporters Without Borders, wrote that media freedoms were being eroded following some incidents in 2019. The RSF report said a journalist was being detained in the line of work contrary to claims by Abiy that no journalist was behind bars during his Nobel Prize ceremony in December 2019. የኢትዮጵያ ገለልተኛ ጋዜጠኞች ማህበር ዛሬ መስራች ጉባኤውን አካሂዷል። More than 400 journalists mobilized ourselves within few days. This professional association is going to be the real deal. Salute to those who started the initiative. #Ethiopia— Haimanot B. Ashenafi (@Haimanotwua) January 12, 2020 A private TV station in Nigeria, Channels TV, reported last weekend that its cameraman and another were briefly detained by police and their tools assaulted. They were covering a protest in the central Benue State. They were shortly released and all their materials returned. But on social media most people rather took to mocking the stations choice of words in reporting the incident. Channels said its cameraman was assaulted by police but people advised that they use “clashes with police” as they have done when other classes of people happen to get involved with the police. Most of the retaliatory reactions were posted under their tweet. Uganda journalists briefly arrested The Daily Monitor portal in Uganda reported the brief arrest of two journalists who were picked up whiles covering the banned political consultations by musician, lawmaker Bobi Wine. Bobi Wine was twice blocked this week by police when he tried to undertake political engagements. His People Power Movement had planned nationwide consultations towards his presidential ambitions. police arrested Wine, collaborators and some journalists. They claimed our first consultation was blocked because it was an open venue. We secured an enclosed one. They lied we didn't have owner's permission. We produced evidence of payment. They have now intercepted us. Journalists arrested. People being clobbered. Dictator in panic— BOBI WINE (@HEBobiwine) January 8, 2020 Malawi journalists arrested covering EU event The private Nation newspaper in Malawi reported the arrest of journalists on Wednesday December 8 as they went to the main airport to receive n European Union delegation for post-election duties. The Nation’s journalist Golden Matonga, ZBS journalist Steve Zimba and his television camera person Francis Chamasowa were released after being charged with “Disordery at an airport contrary to Aviation Act”. The trio, who had their cell-phones and cameras confiscated by police were arrested at around 4pm, the time the EU delegation was scheduled to arrive. They were released on police bail around 6.30pm. #NationOnline— NationOnline (@NationOnlineMw) January 8, 2020 Jan. 6 – 8: Security-related internet cut in Western Oromia Reports indicate that there is a partial internet cut across several towns in western Ethiopia. The development has been in place since Monday. The move is believed to be in connection with rising insecurity in western Oromia regional state where the army continues to battle a former rebel group. Over a dozen officials of the region have been killed in the last few months by suspected rebels in the area. The BBC adds that “in some areas mobile call services are also not working.” The state monopoly EthioTelecom has yet to comment publicly on the situation. The outfit twice last year cut the internet; first over national level examinations and in the wake of a foiled coup in the Amhara regional state. Jan. 7: Sudan bans pro-Bashir media outlets In Sudan, the state continues to squeeze media outlets affiliated with ousted president Omar Al-Bashir. Two two newspapers and two television were affected by the measure. Al-Sudani and Al-Ray Al-Am newspapers and Ashrooq and Teeba television stations were banned for allegedly receiving funding from al-Bashir, AFP news agency has reported. The punishment was meted down by a committee tasked with dismantling institutions linked to the former leader. But editor-in-chief for the Al Sudani, Diaa al-Din Belal rejected the allegations in an interview with AFP: “We operate under a private company and we did not receive any funds from a party or a government authority,” Belal said. Bashir was deposed by the army amid protests in April 2019. He has been jailed in a corruption case whiles other cases are running in the courts. Sudan is currently under a military – civilian council overseeing a transition to democracy.
  • Coronavirus: Ethiopian isolates 4; Kenya, Ivory Coast test suspected cases
    The coronavirus was confirmed in the Chinese city on January 7, 2020. Cases have since been confirmed in several other Asian countries, Europe and the United States. The World Health Organisation’s Africa emergency response program manager Michel Yao advised health ministers in the region to activate standard flu screening at airports for passengers coming from mainland China. There is a considerable community of students in China from African countries, and a number of them have expressed their desire to return home as authorities struggle to contain the virus. Other countries across the world are considering the option of evacuating their citizens. Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda among other countries have started implementing surveillance and screening at airports, especially for travelers arriving from Wuhan in China where the outbreak began in December. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that range from the common cold to MERS coronavirus, which is Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus and SARS, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus. January 28,2020: Ethiopia confirms four possible cases Ethiopia’s state-affiliated FANA broadcasting corporate, FBC, reported that four Ethiopians suspected of being infected by coronavirus has been placed in isolation, said the Ministry of Health. “The students arrived in Ethiopia from a university in Wuhan, Chain’s worst-affected city by the disease,” the report added. .embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; } January 28,2020: Kenya rushes suspected case to hospital Kenya Airways on Tuesday confirmed that one of its passengers who had travelled from the Chinese city of Wuhan to Nairobi had presented coronavirus-like symptoms and was rushed to hospital on arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. ‘‘Kenya Airways confirms that a passenger who travelled on our flight KQ886 from Guangzhou to Nairobi on 28 January 2020 has, as a precautionary measure, been quarantined at the Kenyatta National Hospital,” KQ said in a statement. The county’s health ministry said it was investigating the suspected case at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) isolation ward. ‘‘He was brought by the airport surveillance ambulance and is currently going through tests to rule out or confirm if he indeed has the disease,’‘ KNH Communications manager Hezekiel Gikambi told a local newspaper. The Daily Nation added that KQ’s crew had isolated the passenger during the flight and provided him with a face mask, as per ICAO protocols. January 27,2020: Ivory case tests suspect Ivory Coast on Monday became the first African country to test a suspected Coronavirus case, when a female student arrived at an airport in the capital with suspicious symptoms.* ‘‘The 34-year-old student traveled from Beijing to the Félix-Houphouët-Boigny International Airport in Abidjan on Saturday and was coughing, sneezing and experienced difficulty breathing,’‘ Ivory Coast’s Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene said in statement. This effectively becomes the first case of testing for the virus on the African continent, even as Chinese authorities announced on Tuesday that its death toll had surpassed 100 from over 4,000 cases reported. Authorities in Ivory Coast moved the student to a safe location where she is currently being monitored. The health says it is highly likely a case of pneumonia and not coronavirus, but the final diagnosis will be made after the analysis of the results of the test.
  • Legislative election campaigns begin in Cameroon [The Morning Call]
    Campaigns for Cameroon’s legislative and municipal elections slated for February 9, began on Saturday. 180 seats in the National Assembly are open for contest from 360 voting communities in Cameroon.
  • Leprosy re-emerges as global health challenge [The Morning Call]
    Leprosy, an infectious disease that causes severe, disfiguring skin sores and nerve damage in the arms, legs, and skin areas around the body has re-emerged as a global health challenge. “Too many women and children affected by leprosy – also known as Hansen’s disease – are victims of stereotypes, physical and verbal abuse, delays of diagnosis and lack of adequate care”. UN Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members Alice Cruz said this on Sunday as the globe marked World Leprosy Day. The day was observed to raise awareness about the disease and those affected by it.
  • Boko Haram attacks cripple major highways in Nigeria's Borno State
    Road users in northeast are living in fear after highways and key supply routes came under attack from militant fighters. Several Nigerians reported that the Maiduguri – Damaturu highway had become a no-go area due to heightened militant activity. Maiduguri is capital of Borno State, birthplace of the Boko Haram insurgency. Aid agencies also said ambushes by armed groups have made travel risky and complicated the delivery of humanitarian aid to a region at the heart of the Boko Haram insurgency. One concerned driver Abubakar Zannah said in an interview: “To be honest, I’ve just arrived and I’m going back to the same place to transport some goods and we’re praying to God for the return of normality in the area.” For his part, Usman Mohammed, a member of the joint civilian task force at the last checkpoint of Maiduguri said: “I urge our members to continue their efforts, particularly by carrying out regular patrols, as this will not fail to bring peace to our people in the long run.” Barely a week ago, Boko Haram attack electricity supply system plunging Maiduguri into darkness. The power supplier confirmed that an attack on their facility by the insurgents had created the crisis. Recently, the group attacked a mosque in Maiduguri, they have also carried out a series of executions including “beheading a Christian leader:“ abducted in Adamawa State which is also subject to attacks. The third region they have attacked in the northeast is Yola. Nigeria has nearly 2 million internally displaced people, a situation that is likely to worsen, mainly due to insecurity.
  • Ugandan air force jet crashes killing two
    Two crew members aboard a Ugandan air force jet were killed when their jet crashed, the army confirmed on Tuesday. According to the spokesman of the Ugandan Peoples’ Defense Forces, UPDF, Richard Maremire; the UPDAF Jet Ranger was on a training mission when the incident occured. He stressed that an investigation was underway into the possible causes. “Condolences to their families and the entire UPDF fraternity,” he said in a tweet. We regret to inform that a UPDAF Jet Ranger on a training mission has had two crew members. Sadly, no one has survived.Investigation into the cause has started.Condolences to their families and the enire UPDF fraternity.— Brig RichardKaremire (@UPDFspokespersn) January 28, 2020 UPDAF is Ugandan Peoples’ Defence Air Force, the air wing and service arm of the army. The other wing being the Land Forces. It was established by the Defence forces Act, 2005, Section 3 Sub section 2(b). The Uganda Air Force traces its origins from the Armed Forces Act, which was passed by parliament in January 1964. The gist of the Act underscored the necessity of defending Uganda’s airspace, a need paramount for modern warfare, since World War 1. At this point in time, the cold war eventualities had necessitated post colonial states to establish strong armies that would defend the territorial integrity of African countries.
  • Social media to the streets: Ethiopians demand truth over student abductions
    After expressing their anger and making demands on social media for clarity on the abduction of some university students months back, Ethiopians thronged the streets in parts of the Amhara regional state to press home their demands. Local media outlets and journalists shared photos of massive protests in several towns and cities in the state. Most of the protesters carried banners denouncing silence on the part of the federal and regional governments. The university students in question, most of them female, who remain missing after their kidnapping two months ago were kidnapped in the Oromia region. #BringBackOurStudents was used by activists and citizens in making their demands. A campaign that brought back echoes of Nigeria’s #BringBackOurGirls movement over the mass kidnapping there of scores of schoolgirls in 2014. The Addis Standard, a privately-owned outlet reported today that the Dembi Dollo varsity which the students belonged to confirmed that 12 of the 17 kidnapped students are from the university campus The varisty’s president was speaking to the regional governments media outlet, the Amhara Mass Media Agency, AMMA. Meanwhile the Minister of Peace Muferiat Kamil was in the region and held talks with the university leadership. The Addis Standard report further disclosed that “federal police commission commissioner Endeshaw Tasew and press secretariat of the office of PM Abiy Ahmed Negussu Tilahun as well as representatives of from the federal army and intelligence apparatus” were in the said meeting. “Participants of the discussion have also raised concerns that similar kidnappings have targeted business people and other civilians in the area,” it added. The police chief confirmed that an investigation was underway. #Ethiopia:Protest rallies taking place in multiple cities & twons in #Amhara region denouncing the kidnapping 54 days ago of 17 #DembiDollo univ students in #Oromia. 13 of them are female. Protesters also carried posters denouncing the federal & regional gov’ts silence. Pics:AMMA— Addis Standard (@addisstandard) January 28, 2020 #Ethiopia protest rallies being held in multiple Amhara towns/cities demanding the release of university students reported to have been abducted in W. Oromia. Pics by AMMAONLINE2 from Bahirdar, Woldiya and Debremarkos— Kalkidan Yibeltal – ቃልኪዳን ይበልጣል (Kal_KidanY) January 28, 2020 Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government has been praised for appointing women to prominent positions “but with regard to the abducted girls, in its silence, it is violating a tremendous number of their human rights,” Yared Hailemariam, director of the Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia, said in a statement Monday. “Ethiopian authorities have failed to protect the victims of the abduction and to take necessary measures to bring them back.” It is not clear how many of the students remain captive. The prime minister’s press secretary, Nigussu Tilahun, disclosed on Jan. 11 that 21 students from Dembi Dollo University were released while six remained captive. But family members say they haven’t heard from their loved ones. “The last time I heard from my daughter was a month ago. She said youths from the local area took them to the forest. I don’t know what happened to her since,” Yeneneh Adugna, who lives in Central Gondar in the Amhara region, told The Associated Press. “We are living in an anguish every day. We are crying every day. We want to know whether they are alive or dead. No one is giving us any information.” The Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia says 18 university students, 14 of them female, were seized while returning home from university. No one has claimed responsibility for the abduction, but Oromia regional officials have blamed the armed Oromo Liberation Army, which is clashing with government forces in the Western Oromia region. The armed group has denied the accusation and said the government itself was to blame for the kidnapping.
  • All you need to know about the 2019 Novel Coronavirus [SciTech]
    As the world prepared to usher in a new year and decade on December 31, 2019, authorities in China alerted the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the unusually high cases of pneumonia in the city of Wuhan. By January 7 2020, it was confirmed that a new coronavirus now named 2019-nCoV had spread from animals to humans. As of Monday January 27,2020, 80 people had died from 2,744 cases in China. While there have been confirmed cases in Asia, Europe and the United States, WHO is yet to declare it a global health emergency. WHO is working with authorities in China to fill the information gaps, and contain the outbreak. “We don’t know the source of this virus, we don’t understand how easily it spreads and we don’t fully understand its clinical features or severity. WHO is working with our partners… to fill the gaps in our knowledge as quickly as possible,’‘ Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s Director-General said. Origin Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that normally circulate in animals, and some of them have the capacity to transmit between humans and animals. Previously there have been global outbreaks of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (SARS), which killed hundreds of people. The current coronavirus, codenamed the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is believed to have originated from a seafood market in Wuhan. Experts believe that it could have transmitted from snakes. SARS and MERS were transmitted from Civet cats and camels respectively. Symptoms Coronaviruses typically cause respiratory symptoms like common cold, short breath, fever and pneumonia. Other symptoms include a runny nose, cough, a sore throat and the possibility of headache. Prevention WHO recommends washing of hands with soap and water, covering the mouth when coughing, avoiding unnecessary unprotected contact with live animals and to consume only meat that has been thoroughly cooked. Treatment There is no specific treatment for coronaviruses, but symptoms can be treated. There is equally no vaccine to protect against coronaviruses but trials for a MERS vaccine are underway. Africa’s preparedness Several African countries including Nigeria, Ethiopia, Botswana and Uganda have stepped up alertness and preventive measures, including screening travelers at points of entry like airports. Ivory Coast on Monday conducted the first test for the coronavirus on the African continent, after a student arrived at an airport in Abidjan with symptoms. READ MORE: Ivory Coast tests suspected Coronavirus case Cases have also been confirmed in Australia, France, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam. @danmumbere
  • C.A.R's François Bozizé on contesting Dec. polls
    Former President of the Central African Republic François Bozizé breaks has broken his silence. Back in Bangui for months after nearly seven years in exile, the former president spoke publicly for the first time on Monday at a press conference. He made a solemn request for forgiveness from the Central Africans, and said he could be a candidate for the 2020 presidential election. “I solemnly ask for forgiveness on this day. I beg the Central African people to believe that I have never intentionally harmed any of my compatriots. Until proven otherwise, nothing prevents me from being a candidate. Now is not the time to decide on this, as it is my party that will be able to decide on possible candidacies, he told the press. The former head of state is still under UN sanctions for his role in the Central African crisis of 2013. He has this to say. “I will write to the focal point of the UN Sanctions Committee listings in the next few days to have my case studied and to put an end to the sanctions that have been unjustly imposed on me because, in my view, they were never justified”, Bozizé added. François Bozizé assured his respect for the peace agreement signed with the rebel groups in the Central African Republic. AFP
  • Hope for Khartoum lions as experts arrive to help
    There’s hope for malnourished lions in Sudan as a team from Four Paws, the global animal welfare organization arrived in Khartoum Monday to access the conditions of the cats and other animals. Big cat expert Juno van Zon said the aim was to probe the plight of the animals and determine, with local vets, what could be done to help them. “The purpose of the visit here is first to check out the animals. It’s always difficult to only say from the camera what’s going on, so we are here now with the team to make an assessment how the animals are doing. And our purpose of our visit here is that hopefully we can – together with the cooperation of the wild animal department – that we can perform fact checks and see with local veterinarians here what we can do to improve the condition of the animals that are here”, Zon said. Four Paws veterinarian Dr. Amir Khalil added that the team wanted to make sure there were long-terms solutions, and not just emergency measures. “Our intention and objective is to visit other zoos and help and to have long-term solutions for this animal as well as current and urgent first aid for this animal, but we plan to do so in other locations in Khartoum”, Dr. Khalil noted. Locals concerned about the fate of the lions have been helping to bring food and medical items. But people abroad who tried to donate via crowdfunding sites were thwarted by U.S sanctions on Sudan. Earlier this month, the release of still images of the malnourished lions languishing in an animal park in Khartoum, sparked global concern for the animal’s welfare. Staff at the zoo were unable to feed and care for the lions. Many died or were evacuated, leaving only three skeletal lions, including a lioness. Four Paws, the global animal welfare organization, said the big cats at the Al Qurashi Family Park in the Sudanese capital, were on the brink of starvation and victims of the country’s political turbulence. AP
  • France wary about possible U.S troops cuts in Africa
    France is concerned about a possible reduction of U.S troops in Africa as part of a global review by the United States. On Monday, French Minister of the Armed Forces met with Defence Secretary Mark Esper at the Pentagon to among others discuss terrorism on the continent. ‘‘U.S. support in Sahel is really critical to our operations. So, in this very particular moment where the head of states of the G5 Sahel and President Macron decided to increase the efforts not only on the military field, but also on the political field, it seems that it’s even more necessary to keep this American support. But as I said, we fully understand the process the United States is in. Secretary Esper has a difficult job to handle how to reorganize the American footprint. So, we understand the constraints. So we will try, I’m sure we’ll try to find the best decision to accommodate all the constraints, the one we have in Sahel and the one that the United States has worldwide”, Florence Parly said. Esper called on other European countries to join the fight against terrorism in Africa. “France has been a real leader in the Sahel. I give France great credit for what they’ve done, their commitment, thousands of soldiers. And of course, we’ve mourned the loss alongside them when soldiers have been killed or wounded. And President Macron is taking a very important leadership role there. So, a great effort by France. I think they’ve, France has reached out to other European allies. So I think it’s time for other European allies to assist as well in the region. And that could that could offset whatever changes we make as we consider next steps in Africa”, Mark Esper, Secretary of Defense said. Officials say the U.S will not withdraw from the continent entirely. This month, France announced additional troops for its 4,500-strong operation in the Sahel. AP
  • Uganda to issue guidelines for growing, exporting marijuana
    Uganda’s health ministry has issued guidelines to individuals and companies seeking to grow or export marijuana for medical purposes, paving the way for the East African country to join cannabis-producing countries on the continent. According to the guidelines, investors must be cleared by the tax authorities, present evidence of value addition to cannabis and have minimum capital of $5m (Shs18.3b) and a bank guarantee of $1m (Shs4b). While the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 2015 legalised cultivation, production and exportation of medical marijuana and mandated the Health minister to issue written consent for medical marijuana, the absence of guidelines prevented the industry from taking off. The guidelines will now be approved by cabinet, and lawmakers briefed on the developments. ‘‘I will be presenting paperwork on cannabis to Cabinet for them to approve guidelines and consider the growth of cannabis,’‘ Uganda’s health minister Dr. Aceng told Daily Monitor last week. The ministry also wants farms/sites to be located far away from schools, hospitals and residential areas. Details of associates/business partners must be disclosed to government, including site designs, a robust security system with access control systems and intrusion systems in place. Uganda will be joining other countries like Zambia, Lesotho and Zimbabwe have relaxed laws regulating growth and export. READ MORE: African countries embrace cannabis: Zambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Lesotho However, growing of cannabis for treating severe medical conditions such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis and other neurological conditions is already happening in Uganda.
  • Sahel: Czech Republic to deploy anti-terrorism troops
    Czech Republic’s defence ministry plan to deploy troops to the African continent was on Monday approved by the government. The service members will join Operation Barkhane, France’s largest overseas military mission. It has been working to root out Islamic militants roaming the Sahel region. The government said Mali, Niger and Chad approved the Czech deployment. The Czechs will help local troops fight Islamic militants. The plan to deploy Czech forces in the mission until the end of 2022 still needs parliamentary approval. The Czechs already have some 120 troops in Mali as a part of an European Union training mission. ALSO READ: Turkey joins United States, France on list of countries with troops in Africa AP
  • Erdogan in Africa: From Algeria to The Gambia, final stop Senegal
    Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan flew into Banjul from Algeria as he continued his mission to gather African backing for his intervention in Libya to shore up the Tripoli-based government. His host, President Adama Barrow said the two countries agreed to strengthen ties. “The various acts that have been signed between the two countries especially during my last visit to Ankara, amply demonstrate the high level of corporation between our two countries.” “My government gains your support to build the capacity of our security forces by training 500 officers on peace-keeping,” president Barrow added. Erdogan is on a three-nation tour of Africa in a show of Turkey’s growing influence. Ankara’s Libya ceasefire co-sponsored by Russia is largely holding despite occasional skirmishes. From the Gambia, he’s expected to fly to Senegal. President RTErdogan, who is in Banjul to pay an official visit at the invitation of President Adama Barrow of Gambia, was welcomed at Banjul International Airport with an official ceremony.— Republic of Turkey Directorate of Communications (Communications) January 27, 2020
  • Unpacking Gambia's three-year pact: Constitution vs. Coalition MoU
    Introduction: Gambia’s protest ‘boom’ The Gambian polity has been heated since late 2019 thanks to a series of protests over the mandate of incumbent president Adama Barrow. The pro and anti-Barrow voices are sparring over the exact duration the president is entitled to. The “Three-Years JOTNA” movement wants the president to make good his promise to serve a reduced term in a post-Jammeh transition. On the other hand, the “Five-Years JOTAGUL” group says Barrow must serve his full constitutional term. Africanews as part of our News Analysis section traces the issue of a reduced term within the past and current dynamics of Gambia’s politics. The government has since moved to ban the anti-government protest and a number of media houses in a crackdown over the weekend. In between these protests is the pro and anti-Jammeh marches also. International bodies, the regional ECOWAS and European Union has recently cautioned against undemocratic constitutional calls. According to Jeffery Smith, director of pro-democracy outfit, Vanguard Africa, the Gambia three years after Jammeh remained in transition. He told Africanews: While The Gambia was not mired in social conflict in a traditional sense, nor was it afflicted by civil war, the country of today – three years into a profoundly complicated democratic transition – resembles that of a post-conflict society. “It is a society collectively grappling, and still coming to terms, with their collective and individual traumas induced by Jammeh’s autocratic rule. In this way, the country very much remains in a tenuous transition.” The three-year coalition agreement Going into the 2016 polls, Jammeh’s opposition came in two candidates, a breakaway member of the then ruling Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction, APRC, in the person of Mama Kandeh and an opposition coalition candidate, Adama Barrow. The coalition, a group of seven main parties and civil society groups settled on Adama Barrow as candidate. The main opposition chief at the time, Ousainou Darboe was in jail. A number of analysts and political watchers said the United Democratic Party, UDP, leader would have been the coalition candidate. Barrow was himself a member of the UDP at a point serving as treasurer. In an interview Nichols Haque of Doha-based Al Jazeera in 2017, Barrow admitted to the opposition agreement and what it will take to achieve it. See video just below, relevant portion starts at 9:18 seconds spot. “It’s eight parties that came together as a coalition and I am the head. There was an agreement that I will be transitional president for three years, then the parties will come back and we will get a level playing field then we will have an overhaul of the system. “We will bring in democratic principles, have a very good foundation for the country, electoral reforms so that the field will be level for everybody. Then we go back to the polls to get a new president,” he told the journalist in Senegal, where he was sworn-in due to Jammeh’s refusal to quit. Asked how soon will you go back to the polls, he responded: “This was the agreement, we have a job to do to get that in place, that must be completed before we go to the polls.” .embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; } Coalition disagreements, Barrow ‘digs in’ The coalition currently led by former vice-president Fatoumata Jallow Tambajang, has experienced some seismic events over the year. Two of the main instances being the opting out of some key players early on and the firing of Darboe as vice-president. Whether or not Barrow was going to respect a coalition arrangement continues to be bandied around in the media especially as the three-year mark neared. In August 2019, Barrow settled the matter with a pronouncement. “I have a five year mandate and I will complete it,” Barrow said to cheers whiles meeting with his council of elders. A month later, leader of the coalition said Barrow’s mandate had been extended: “The reform agenda which was adopted by the coalition which has the legitimacy to ensure that the reform agenda is completed successfully so that we can have a level playing field is yet to be completed. “So we have discussed it extensively with our flag bearer and on the basis of the incompletion of the reforms agenda, we have decided, as a coalition, to extend his social legitimacy from three years to five years,” Tambajang told the press in September 2019 after a meeting of what is left of the coalition. Caolition 2016, Chairperson Tambajang says the Coalition leadership agrees to extend President Barrow’s mandate from 3 to 5 years ‘‘On the basis of the incompletion of the reforms agenda, we, as a coalition, have decided to extend his social legitimacy from (3) yrs to (5) years— State House of The Gambia (@Presidency_GMB) September 27, 2019 Constitutional Review and matters arising In the midst of the political back and forth, The Gambia is gearing up for a new constitution as part of reform efforts. The Constitutional Review Commission of Gambia, in November 2019 released a draft copy of the document. CRC Gambia Chairperson Justice Cherno Jallow emphasized that it had from the onset (preamble) clarified The Gambia as a multi-party democratic state founded on the rule of law. The CRC was established by an Act of the National Assembly in June, 2018. The Commission reviewed and analyzed the current Constitution and therefrom drafted the new one which will need parliamentary approval, a referendum vote and presidential assent to become legally operational. For purposes of this write up, some key presidential election pointers in the document are: The term limit for a president is two five-year terms. A president can thus serve for a decade in office. The legislature (National Assembly) – is barred from amending the law to allow extension of the mandate of a president. The number of Cabinet Ministers a President can appoint is capped at fifteen, excluding the Attorney General and Minister of Justice. When passed, it could mean that Barrow will be eligible to contest in at least two more polls starting 2021. These laws usually do not take retrospective effect. Of note is that, Barrow has quit the UDP and formed his own party. The president early this year formally registered the National People’s Party, with the Independent Electoral Commission, making him the leader and secretary of the party. Gambia’s 2016 election and Jammeh’s expected mandate When Gambian voters approached the 2016 elections, many saw it as a forgone conclusion for the then incumbent Yahya Jammeh who was seeking a fifth straight five-year term under a consitution that did not have term limits. Jammeh came into the limelight as a 29-year-old lieutenant who led a bloodless coup that deposed first president Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara. He left office a 51-year-old “democrat” known more for his autocratic ways at a point promising to rule for a billion years. Eventually the coalition recorded a shock victory barely 24-hours after the December 1, 2016 polls. Gambians celebrated the result and the world joined in celebrating when Jammeh openly accepted defeat and promised to handover as required by law. Offshoots of Jammeh’s loss and ECOWAS threats Jammeh changed his mind unilaterally over the “lauded concession” citing discrepancy in the official results. The elections body admitted a fault in tabulation but noted that the final results were not affected despite the anomaly. Jammeh and the ruling APRC capitalized on that to demand new polls but Gambians, the regional bloc ECOWAS and international actors refused to accept the new posture. After intense back and forth, threat of military force forced Jammeh into exile, destination Equatorial Guinea. Years on, Jammeh’s mother died and was duly returned to The Gambia for burial. In the mean time, two government commissions – for reconciliation and reparation and for financial accountability of the Jammeh years – have been uncovering shocking details. The news that Jammeh is planning a return has come up twice over the last few years. In 2018, a purported audio was circulated and said to be of Jammeh pledging a return to the country. The most recent was yet another audio released by an APRC official. The official government response has been that Jammeh risks arrest and trial over some of the abuses and excesses that happened under his tenure. Shaban Abdur Rahman Alfa Digital journalist AlfaAfrican
  • Photos: Eritrean attire on show as 62nd Grammy honours Nipsey Hussle, Bryant
    Eritrea made a strong showing at the 62nd annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, in Los Angeles. It was all thanks to one man, the late Nipsey Hussle. A-list artists including John Legend, Kirk Franklin, DJ Khaled and Meek Mill paid tribute to Nipsey along with NBA star Kobe Bryant who died earlier on Sunday in a helicopter mishap. Larger than life photos of the two was projected in a screen after a tribute performance in honour of Nipsey. The performance was high on Eritrean culture as most of the dancers spotted Eritrean traditional attire. #Eritrea: ‘Paying homage to Nipsey Hussle on music’s biggest night – grammy – John Legend, DJ Khaled, Meek Mill, Kirk Franklin, Roddy Ricch and YG hit the stage to deliver an all-star performance while wearing habesha traditional outfits.’— ???????? ?. ????? (@befeqe) January 27, 2020 John legend was dressed in one such attire. An all white dress with elaborate embroidery. The attires known as habesha outfits are common to people in Ethiopia and Eritrea. Hussle scooped the an award which was received on the night by his family. His collaboration with Hit-Boy won the award for best rap performance for “Racks in the Middle.” He who was shot dead early 2019 at age 33, and had received three posthumous nominations for the Grammys. The much-loved rapper celebrated in Eritrea, Ethiopia and across the African continent lost the 2019 prize for Best Rap Album to Cardi B. ALSO READ: Nipsey Hussle, Burna Boy, Sho Madjozi win BET Awards John Legend performs during a tribute in honor of the late Nipsey Hussle at the 62nd annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, in Los Angeles. DJ Khaled performs during a tribute in honor of the late Nipsey Hussle at the 62nd annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, in Los Angeles. The family of the late Nipsey Hussle, Emani Asghedom, from left, Samantha Smith, Lauren London and Margaret Boutte arrive at the 62nd annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP) Lauren London, from left, Margaret Boutte, Samiel Asghedom, Emani Asghedom, on behalf of Nipsey Hussle, and Hit-Boy accept the award for best rap performance for “Racks in the Middle” at the 62nd annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP) Kirk Franklin, left, and DJ Khaled perform during a tribute in honor of the late Nipsey Hussle at the 62nd annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
  • Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia agree 2020 Joint Plan of Action after Asmara summit
    Eritrea’s president Isaias Afwerki, Somalia’s Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali have agreed a joint plan of action for this year after the third edition of a tripartite summit in Asmara. The three leaders met for discussions on Monday in what the Eritrean information ministry said were “candid and extensive discussions on the situations in their respective countries.” The statement by the ministry said the three nations reaffirmed their commitment to the September 2018 deal signed in Asmara with a view to consolidating it and expanding it across the Horn of Africa. What is in the Joint Plan of Action for 2020? Consolidating peace, stability and security. Promoting economic and social development. Bolstering efforts to foster effective regional cooperation. The statement expatiated further: “On the security front, the three leaders formulated a comprehensive plan to combat and neutralize the common threats they face, including terrorism, arms and human trafficking and drugs smuggling. “Regarding economic and social development, they agreed to prioritize the mobilization of their bountiful human and natural resources; build, modernize and interface their infrastructure and develop their productive and service sectors. “They also expressed their appreciation for, and their readiness to cooperate with, their friends and partners, on the basis of mutual respect and mutual benefit. “The three leaders agreed to closely consult with their Brothers, Heads of State, for the realization of the aspiration of their peoples for effective Horn of Africa,” it concluded. September 2018 – First summit was held in Asmara where a deal was signed November 2018 – Second summit was held in Ethiopia’s Bahir Dar In 2019 – Afwerki and Abiy exchanged visits, Afwerki visited Somalia January 2020 – Third summit holds in Asmara Our aspirations for prosperous and stable Horn of Africa region continues in Asmara as we meet again to discuss propelling development in the region. Glad to join fellow leaders of the Horn; Our host H.E President Isaias Afwerki and H.E PM Abiy Ahmed.— Mohamed Farmaajo (@M_Farmaajo) January 27, 2020
  • Congolese topflight league enters second phase [Football Planet]
    AS Otoho keeps a steady 9 point clear off JST in the Congolese ligue 1 championship as the second round games kicked off last weekend across the country we will be revisiting the game between AS Cheminots and JST plus the current standings of the league table. CAF inter club competitions narrow down to the final sprint as Wydad of Morocco, Zamalek of Egypt, Esperance of Tunisia and Raja of Morocco joined TP Mazembe and Sundowns to secure places in the quarter finals of the champions league, two more places to grab on the final group match. We also speak with Steve Vickers from Harare Zimbabwe with updates in football. Customarily we take you to Europe where African players as the case will be every weekend scored goals in some of the top five European leagues, Nigeria’s Kelechi Iheanacho’s lone first half goal sees Leicester city through the 4th round of the FA Cup .
  • #BringBackOurStudents: Ethiopians demand truth over abduction in Oromia
    Ethiopians are expressing anger and frustration over several university students, most of them female, who remain missing after their kidnapping two months ago. A growing social media campaign echoes the #BringBackOurGirls activism in Nigeria over the mass kidnapping there of scores of schoolgirls in 2014. Ethiopians are pressuring the government for answers in the abduction in the Oromia region. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government has been praised for appointing women to prominent positions “but with regard to the abducted girls, in its silence, it is violating a tremendous number of their human rights,” Yared Hailemariam, director of the Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia, said in a statement Monday. “Ethiopian authorities have failed to protect the victims of the abduction and to take necessary measures to bring them back.” It is not clear how many of the students remain captive. The prime minister’s press secretary, Nigussu Tilahun, disclosed on Jan. 11 that 21 students from Dembi Dollo University were released while six remained captive. But family members say they haven’t heard from their loved ones. “The last time I heard from my daughter was a month ago. She said youths from the local area took them to the forest. I don’t know what happened to her since,” Yeneneh Adugna, who lives in Central Gondar in the Amhara region, told The Associated Press. “We are living in an anguish every day. We are crying every day. We want to know whether they are alive or dead. No one is giving us any information.” The Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia says 18 university students, 14 of them female, were seized while returning home from university. No one has claimed responsibility for the abduction, but Oromia regional officials have blamed the armed Oromo Liberation Army, which is clashing with government forces in the Western Oromia region. The armed group has denied the accusation and said the government itself was to blame for the kidnapping. The champion of good news and cowardice to face reality, AKA AbiyAhmedAli, where are you now? #BringBackOurStudents!— ???????? ?. ????? (befeqe) January 25, 2020 It was thanks to journalists that the news of 17 Dembi Dolo University students being kidnapped reached the public. Now it’s up to journalists to force the Ethiopian gov to reveal where the missing children are. Fuck the “reform,” their lives are worth more!#BringBackOurStudents— Zecharias Zelalem (@ZekuZelalem) January 25, 2020 Students are missing. The government is not taking action. There is no information about them. Protection is the priority & basic expectation that the government MUST deliver.#BringBackOurGirls #BringBackOurStudents— Hiwot Teshome (@HiwotTeshome) January 25, 2020 University students are being kidnapped by bogus political actors in Ethiopia & AbiyAhmedAli ‘s admin is emboldening the horrendous crime with its action & inactions.What good is a gov’t if it doesn’t protect the natural rights of its citizens?#BringBackOurStudents amnesty— Meàza G. (@meazaG_) January 25, 2020 #BringBackOurStudents AbiyAhmedAli Are you still the commander in chief of #Ethiopia? I don’t know what you tell your 3 daughters, but they’ll know you fail them by failing the students.PMEthiopia Are you cooking another lie or ready to tell the truth? BilleneSeyoum— መቲ Meti Shewaye Yilma (metishewyilma) January 26, 2020 He’ll be meeting with his “brothers” to discuss a wide range of issues. One thing that he’ll not discuss, address, though, is the disappearance of the abducted university students. His administration’s lies, deceptions, misinformation of it is alarming! #BringBackOurStudents— ሃይከል (@heikel09) January 26, 2020 AP
  • Portuguese hacker says he leaked dos Santos corruption files
    A Portuguese hacker is claiming responsibility for leaking confidential documents implicating the billionaire daughter of a former prominent African leader in alleged murky international business deals. Lawyers for Rui Pinto, who is in a Lisbon jail awaiting trial in a separate case, said in a statement Monday he gave the information about Isabel dos Santos to the Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa, an advocacy group based in Paris, in 2018. Dos Santos is a daughter of Angola’s former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos and is reputedly Africa’s richest woman after holding top jobs in Angola and a high-profile international career. The document trove was investigated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and its affiliates, which produced an explosive report a week ago. The report incriminates not only Dos Santos, her husband and her close associates but also banks and businesses in Europe and the Middle East. Angolan authorities suspect Dos Santos of money-laundering, embezzlement, mismanagement, influence-peddling, forgery. They are demanding she repay at least $1.1 billion. Dos Santos has denied any wrongdoing. The more than 715,000 documents leaked by the Portuguese hacker detail allegedly unscrupulous deals by Dos Santos to build her estimated $2 billion fortune. Portugal is the southwest African country’s former colonial ruler, and many of the documents were written in Portuguese. Pinto’s lawyers, William Bourdon and Francisco Teixeira da Mota, said in a statement their client acted out of “a duty of citizenship” and received no financial reward. Gerard Ryle, director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, said on its website Monday: “The documents came from a concerned citizen — someone doing the right thing by the public.” Pinto, however, has been in jail for almost a year after Portugal extradited him from Hungary. He is charged with publishing internal documents that embarrassed soccer clubs and officials in the Football Leaks case. Pinto denies wrongdoing in that case, saying he is a whistleblower who acted in the public interest. AP
  • Militant attack kills 19 Malian soldiers - Army
    At least 19 soldiers were killed in an attack on a military post in central Mali on Sunday. The incident took place in Sokolo military camp in the Segou region, where armed fighters linked to al-Qaeda are known to operate. In a tweet, the Malian Armed Forces which claims to be in control of the situation, reported a provisional death toll of 19, five injured and equipment taken away. A local politician said they entered the camp near the village at dawn, opened fire, destroyed some structures and left soon after. The assault comes after a similar attack on Thursday by armed men in the country’s volatile Mopti region near the border with Burkina Faso, killing at least six soldiers. Mali has struggled to contain an armed uprising that erupted in the north in 2012 and has killed thousands of soldiers and civilians in the years since. Islamist groups with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State operate in the area as a base from which to launch attacks across neighbouring Burkina Faso, Niger and beyond. AGENCIES
  • Campaigning opens for Cameroon's 'divisive' Feb. 9 legislative polls
    Candidates for Cameroon’s legislative and municipal elections officially began campaigning on over the weekend for a vote scheduled to take place on 9 February. The exercise has been boycotted by some opposition parties. But President Paul Biya’s party is working tirelessly to secure a majority in the 180-seat National Assembly. The election is seen as a key test for Paul Biya who won re-election controversially in 2018. Despite the official start of the campaign, the final list of candidates for the legislative and municipal elections has not yet been published. Originally planned to happen in 2018, the exercise was postponed twice for lack of funds and over separatist violence in the country’s north and southwest regions. Bertrand Tatsinda, a politicians said: “You see, those who call for a boycott are on the other side of the story. But they are the Cameroonians, we will make sure to explain these issues to other Cameroonians so that even those calling for boycott can live in a country at peace, in a country where the institutions really work.” For his part, Banda Kani, candidate for opposition “New People’s Movement” (NMP) called for people to turn out and to defend their franchise. “The other issue is the issue of fraud and the message is clear: we have come to tell the people of Douala 2 to stand up and be prepared, and to defend their vote by all means. “So if someone or someone has fun trying to defraud, they will find people from Douala 2nd on their way. That’s the message we’re here to deliver tonight.”
  • Madagascar reels under impact of deadly floods, landslide
    The torrential rains that fell on northwestern Madagascar for nearly a week have caused death and destruction, the government said Friday. Authorities said at least 31 people had died and 15 others were missing The rains have also washed away crop fields promoting the Office of Disaster Risk Management to issue a food insecurity alert in the coming months and malnutrition due to flooding of the rice plains and lowlands. A farmer who spoke to the media said: “There are about 800 hectares of rice fields that have been destroyed by water and mud. It is our rice that was cultivated from November to January that was ravaged”. Chair of _AfricanUnion reacts to deadly floods and landslides in #Madagascar ??⛈️- Death toll is 26 with 20 missing- Undpmadagascar says over 92,000 people affected – Rains are expected to continue into next week – Pres. SE_Rajoelina has been leading rescue efforts— africanews (africanews) January 25, 2020 Jean Andriamanantena added: “The Alaotra Mangora region is known to be the rice granary of Madagascar, but this is no longer the case with this flood. We are in danger.” Flooding has also hit critical infrastructure such as roads. Authorities have appealed for international aid. With a tropical climate, the Indian ocean island nation, faces a period of very intense rains every year from October to April. In January 2019, nine people were killed in the capital Antananarivo after a house collapsed after heavy rains. AGENCIES
  • Gabon's govt responds to alleged child kidnappings
    The Gabonese government has announced a “substantial deployment” of security forces, especially near schools, to respond to what it calls violent incidents caused by child abduction. In a statement released last Friday by the government, at least one child has died as a result of the recent abduction cases in the country. Messages about kidnappings of minors have been circulating on social networks for more than a week, rekindling recurring fears of ritual crimes in Gabon and provoking the anger of the inhabitants. Protesters blocked roads and burned tyres in the capital Libreville on Friday, as rumours circulated of a wave of child abductions. In some areas, traffic had been brought to a complete standstill as impromptu roadblocks were set up “to make sure that no one was hiding children in their cars. And there are in fact more planned actions by the populace.
  • Central African Republic declares Measles national epidemic [Morning Call]
    The Central African Republic, CAR has declared a national epidemic of measles. Bangui and many districts are affected according to the country’s Ministry of Health. More than 3,600 cases were registered and 53 persons have died so far between February 2019 and January 2020. So what has fueled the spread of the disease, and what is being done to put a stop to its spread?
  • Gabon's govt responds to alleged child kidnappings
    The Gabonese government has announced a “substantial deployment” of security forces, especially near schools, to respond to what it calls violent incidents caused by child abduction. In a statement released last Friday by the government, at least one child has died as a result of the recent abduction cases in the country. Messages about kidnappings of minors have been circulating on social networks for more than a week, rekindling recurring fears of ritual crimes in Gabon and provoking the anger of the inhabitants. Protesters blocked roads and burned tyres in the capital Libreville on Friday, as rumours circulated of a wave of child abductions. In some areas, traffic had been brought to a complete standstill as impromptu roadblocks were set up “to make sure that no one was hiding children in their cars. And there are in fact more planned actions by the populace.
  • South Africa's tallest edifice takes shape
    Meet The Leonardo. The new skyscraper is the tallest building in South Africa, according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, an international ngo in the field of sustainable buildings and urban design. With a height of 227.9 metres and 56 storeys, the building exceeds the Carlton Center by 223 metres, the council said. The Leonardo is a mixed-use building with apartments and offices, and is still under construction, but already home to a restaurant. “So we welcome you to Aurum restaurant. It’s a newly opened restaurant in the Leonardo building. The Leonardo building, obviously the tallest in South Africa. And the restaurant itself specialising in European modern contemporary food, taking a local look on local ingredients, and the little local flairs that pair up very well with international inspired food”, said Darren O’Donovan, executive chef at the Aurum restaurant. The Dlamini family was one of the first customers of the restaurant housed in the Leonardo. Busi is impressed with the decor. “They’ve also created some floating clouds over the restaurant that look gold. So really you feel like you are floating, because you are already on the seventh floor, very much elevated. So it feels like you are dining while floating around Johannesburg, which I think is incredible”, Dlamini said. Despite the economic difficulties, the building is gradually attracting tenants. A sky bar with a 360-degree view of Johannesburg will soon be built on top of the tower. According to one of promoters, the Legacy Group, the skyscraper overlooks “Africa’s richest area”, the financial hub of Johannesburg. Patrick McInerney is Director CO-ARC Architects. “Well Sandton has slowly been developing from the early 90s to now where it’s probably the richest square mile in Africa. So to have had the opportunity to do the largest building in that square mile is quite an accolade.” For Bart Dorrestein, CEO of Legacy Developers ‘‘As a company, we firmly believe in South Africa’s future. We know that it’s the most relevant economy in Africa. And that this building, in that context, is going to make its mark. In how we’ve built it and how we’ve designed it, it was to be the ultimate lifestyle in one building.” The tower includes a gym, a spa, a hotel and a restaurant. The construction of the building is not yet completed but it has almost been sold Half to South Africans and half to foreigners. Located in Sandton, The Leonardo is the second highest building in Africa after the tower housing the great mosque of Algiers, which stands more than 265 metres high. AP
  • Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia leaders hold 3rd tripartite summit in Asmara
    The Eritrean capital Asmara is hosting the third round of a trilateral summit between presidents of Eritrea and Somalia and the Ethiopian Prime Minister. PM Abiy Ahmed was the first of the visiting leaders to arrive in Asmara on Sunday. He was received at the airport by Eritrean president Isaias Afwerki following which they held bilateral talks. Abiy was accompanied on the trip by Defense Minister Lemma Megerssa and other officials. Eritrean Information Minister shared photos of the two delegations walking the streets of Asmara on Sunday evening. The Somali president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo landed in Asmara on Monday and was also received by Afwerki. President Mohamed’s entourage includes Mr. Abdi Ashir Hassen, Minister of Post, Telecommunications & Technology; & Dr. Nur Dire Hersi, Adviser for Foreign Policy. The current summit is the third such between the three leaders. The first took place in Asmara whiles the follow up was in Ethiopia’s Bahir Dar in September and November 2018 respectively. #Eritrea, #Ethiopia; Colorful pictures: President Isaias Afwerki and Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed on a leisurely stroll in Asmara’s main street – Liberation Avenue – after a fruitful meeting yesterday evening at State House on bilateral and other issues of mutual importance— Yemane G. Meskel (@hawelti) January 27, 2020
  • Angélique Kidjo brings true Spirit of Africa to the Grammys
    The true spirit of Africa reverberated at the 62nd Grammy Awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, United States on Sunday. Beninese singer Angélique Kidjo took to the state to provide an electric performance much to the delight of all gathered at music’s biggest night. ‘‘You know that all music comes from Africa right? We are all Africans right? I want to celebrate our shared humanity by singing with you and teaching you the song you are about to sing’‘. That was her opening to get all gathered on their feet to the tune of African music. Kidjo was one of the biggest winners of the night sweeping the Best Music Album for her ‘‘Celia’‘. The ‘‘Malaika’‘ singer is not new to the Grammys. This is her fourth win on music’s biggest stage and the only African to reach that height. WATCH NOW: angeliquekidjo has our audience singing to “Afirika” #GRAMMYPremiere #GRAMMYs— Recording Academy / GRAMMYs (RecordingAcad) January 26, 2020 “Four years ago on this stage, I was telling you that the new generations of artists coming from Africa gonna take you by storm and the time has come,” Kidjo said. “Celia Cruz, for me she’s the goddess of salsa. She’s the queen of salsa. She is one of those artists that taught me at a young age that my gender cannot define who I am, that I can do everything I wanted to do”, she said while accepting the award. Kidjo beat fellow nominees Altin Gün (Gece), Bokanté & Metropole Orkest Conducted By Jules Buckley (What Heat), Burna Boy (African Giant) and Nathalie Joachim With Spektral Quartet (Fanm D’Ayiti). She also gave an audience-rousing performance of “Afrika”. She hails from Benin in the West of Africa. She’s a song writer and is globally known for her diverse musical influences.   Picture: Recording Academy/ GRAMMYs
  • Counting the cost: Guinea economy paralysed by protests
    Guinea’s economy has been badly hit by anti-government protests that have lasted months, and experts are worried that the mining sector which sustains livelihoods of many will soon be affected. The protesters’ bone of contention? Proposed changes to the constitution that would allow president Alpha Conde seek a third term in office. The National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC), an alliance of opposition groups behind the protests has called for unlimited, nonviolent, protests to stop Conde. Reduced supply, increased prices Businesses have shut and protesters have rained rocks on police stations, looted property, blocked major roads and reportedly stopped trains in their tracks, severely hampering the easy flow of goods across the country. “Supply is totally disrupted,” said Boubacar Barry, an economist and former fisheries minister. That means rising prices for the population in what is already one of the world’s poorest countries despite being rich in natural resources. “The clearest impact has been the decrease of purchasing power,” he said. Mariama Barry, a supermarket owner in suburban Conakry, said profits had fallen compared to a few months ago. “Everyone is afraid to stock shelves because we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow,” she said, adding that she also employs security guards now. Avoiding the capital Conakry Zeze Guilavogui, a lorry driver, said that transport of fruit and vegetables from the interior had stopped. “It’s better not to go to Conakry than to have your goods looted,” he said. Impact on foreign investment FNDC has urged “mining companies, banks, factories, gas stations and other companies” to suspend activities, a nightmare scenario for Conde, 81, who has been trying to attract foreign investors and diversify the economy. He told French media in October that the economy had always been the priority during his decade in power. “We used to import everything,” he said. “Now, we’re producing more and more agricultural products, we export cement”. At least 26 civilians and one gendarme have died in the unrest to date, according to an AFP tally, and more protests are expected. The government did not respond to questions from AFP. Targeting the mining sector Guinea’s key sector, mining, could be next, with potentially catastrophic consequences, experts say following social media reports of protesters blocking trains carrying quarry. State revenue from the sector was around $500 million in 2017, according to the Natural Resource Governance Institute, a think tank. The FNDC’s explicit mention of the mining industry amounts to “a written warning”, said Herve Lado, a Conakry-based analyst for the institute, although there had been no reports of big disruptions for now. “When there are political or security issues, the government makes sure that its main source of revenue is preserved,” he told AFP. But the FNDC says the government won’t be able to protect mining forever. In the meantime, union involvement will determine the economic damage to come, Lado said. “If there are many other trade unions joining the movement, I think they will try many, many actions against mining companies,” he said. FNDC spokesman Abdouramane Sanoh told AFP it was clear the protests were having an impact on the economy. “The economy is paralysed, people can’t market their goods,” he said, quickly adding however that drawing international mediation, not crippling the economy, had been the main objective. Boubacar Barry said the economic and political situation is deeply unsettling for anyone thinking of placing money in the country. “None of this reassures foreign investors”, he said. AFP
  • Benin's Angelique Kidjo dedicates Grammy Award to Nigeria's Burna Boy
    Beninese music star Angelique Kidjo on Sunday dedicated her fourth Grammy award to Nigeria’s Burna Boy hailing him as one of the new African artists that are taking the world stage by storm. Kidjo’s Celia album won the Best World Music Album category, ahead of Burna Boy’s African Giant. Fanm D’ayiti and What Heat were the other nominated albums. ‘‘Four years ago on this stage, I was telling you that the new generation of artists coming from Africa gonna take you by storm. And the time has come, this is for Burna Boy,’‘ Kidjo said in her acceptance speech. ‘‘Burna Boy is among those young artists that come from Africa that is changing the way our continent is perceived and the way that African music is the bedrock of all music.’‘ “This is for Burna Boy” Winner Angelique Kidjo dedicates Best World Music Album #Grammys to Burna Boy ????#GRAMMYLive #Benin #Nigeria— Deji Faremi (@deejayfaremi) January 27, 2020 * Celebrating Nipsey Hussle Eritrean-American rapper Nipsey Hussle was honored among the stars who passed on in the last 12 months. Meek Mill, Roddy Ricch, DJ Khaled, John Legend, YG, and Kirk Franklin paid a special tribute for the rapper who was shot dead last year in March and performed some of his songs. ‘‘Rest in peace, Nipsey Hussle. Rest in peace, Kobe Bryant. Long live, Nip. Long Live, Kobe. The marathon continues,’‘ DJ Khaled said during the performance. His girlfriend Lauren London accepted his first Grammys wno at this year’s ceremony, including Best Rap Performance for ‘Racks in the Middle’ and ‘Higher’, a collaboration with DJ Khaled and John Legend which was named Best Rap/Sung Performance. Teenage sensation Billie Eilish was the big winner of the night with five awards, while Lizzo, the top nomination getter, won three prizes. READ MORE: All the 2020 Grammys winners
  • Gambia govt bans protests, silences critical media
    Gambia’s government on Sunday banned the group that has been mobilising the populace to demand departure of President Adama Barrow. For weeks now, tension has been building in The Gambia, a tiny West African country surrounded by Senegal, over Barrow’s decision to stay in office for five years after initially pledging to step down after three. Police in the capital Banjul on Sunday fired tear gas at hundreds of protesters, who responded by throwing stones and setting tyres on fire, an AFP correspondent at the scene said. Police arrested 137 people at the demonstration, it added. Banning the protests The government later announced a ban on the “Three Years Jotna (is up) Movement”, the group that has spearheaded weeks of protests calling for Barrow to step down. In a statement, spokesman Ebrima Sankareh said the group was a “subversive, violent and illegal movement” that was “determined to illegally overthrow the constitutionally elected president”. The group’s president Abdou Njie was also arrested on Sunday, according to an AFP journalist, although the government would not confirm it was holding Njie. Three people were killed in Sunday’s clashes according to Kebba Manneh, director of the Serrekunda hospital where victims were taken. Red Cross sources said 28 people were taken Sunday to Serrekunda hospital, close to where protesters had gathered in the districts of Old Jeshwang and Stink Corner on the outskirts of Banjul. The government denied that any protesters were killed on Sunday. Silencing the media Among those arrested were the director of the King FM radio station, and a radio presenter who had been charged with inciting violence, a station employee told AFP. The head of another radio station, Digital FM, was also arrested and it was not known where he was being held, Saikou Jammeh, secretary general of Gambia Press Union, told AFP. Authorities later moved to shut the two stations, accusing them of serving as platforms for inciting violence and broadcasting for the anti-Barrow movement and threatening “the security of The Gambia”. Sunday’s clashes broke out after demonstrators tried to change their itinerary to get closer to the city centre. “Let’s go and burn everything that belongs to Adama Barrow and his family,” one protestor called out to those alongside him, the AFP reporter heard. “We will protest until Barrow resigns,” said another who identified himself as Amadou Sanyang. “He is a traitor who betrayed the population’s trust, we are going to teach him a lesson.” The Jammeh question On Saturday, hundreds of Gambians had marched on the outskirts of Banjul, responding to the call of victims associations demanding justice for sweeping rights abuses and murder suffered under former dictator Yahya Jammeh’s 22-year rule. Jammeh ruled The Gambia with an iron fist but fled in January 2017 after losing a presidential election to Barrow. Since January 2019, around 190 witnesses have appeared before a Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) set up to investigate abuses under Jammeh’s rule. Last week, thousands marched to demand he be allowed to return from exile in Equatorial Guinea. They argued he has a right to do so under a joint statement from the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United Nations, published at the time of his exile. But Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou warned that Jammeh would “face immediate arrest and charges of the most serious kind” if he returned, including “crimes against humanity”. Barrow, a relative unknown at the time, defeated former autocrat Yahya Jammeh in elections in the tiny West African state in 2016. “No one can force me to leave the presidency before 2021,” he said recently. AFP
  • World mourns NBA star Kobe Bryant, daughter following chopper crash
    American basketball star Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and three others were killed in a helicopter crash in Southern California on Sunday, his sudden death at age 41 touching off an outpouring of grief for a star whose celebrity transcended basketball. The chopper went down in Calabasas, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Authorities confirmed that five people died, with no survivors. Bryant, an all-time basketball great who spent his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, was among the victims, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. A different person familiar with the case confirmed that Bryant´s 13-year-old daughter Gianna also was killed. Word of Bryant´s sudden death at age 41 rocketed around the sports and entertainment worlds, with many taking to Twitter to register their shock, disbelief and dismay. “There’s no words to express the pain Im going through,” tweeted Lakers teammate Shaquille O´Neal, who won three NBA titles with Bryant. “(at)kobebryant I love u and u will be missed. ... IM SICK RIGHT NOW.” “Man I don´t even know where to start,” tweeted Philadelphia 76ers superstar Joel Embiid. “I started playing ball because of KOBE after watching the 2010 finals. I had never watched ball before that and that finals was the turning point of my life. I WANTED TO BE LIKE KOBE. I´m so FREAKING SAD right now!!!!” NBA legend Bryant retired in 2016 as the third-leading scorer in NBA history, finishing two decades with the Lakers as a prolific scorer with a sublime all-around game and a relentless competitive ethic. He held that spot in the league scoring ranks until Saturday night, when the Lakers´ LeBron James passed him for third place during a game in Philadelphia, Bryant´s hometown. “Continuing to move the game forward (at)KingJames,” Bryant wrote in his last tweet. “Much respect my brother.” Bryant had one of the greatest careers in recent NBA history and became one of the game´s most popular players as the face of the 16-time NBA champion Lakers franchise. He was the league MVP in 2008 and a two-time NBA scoring champion, and he earned 12 selections to the NBA´s All-Defensive teams. He teamed with Shaquille O´Neal in a combustible partnership to lead the Lakers to NBA titles in 2000, 2001 and 2002. He later teamed with Pau Gasol to win two more titles in 2009 and 2010. Bryant retired in 2016 after scoring 60 points in his final NBA game. Investigating the accident Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said the downed chopper was a Sikorsky S-76. The National Transportation Safety Board sent a “go team” of investigators to the site. The NTSB typically issues a preliminary report within about 10 days that will give a rough summary of what investigators have learned. A ruling on the cause can take a year or more. “They will look at man, machine and environment,” said Gary C. Robb, an aviation attorney in Kansas City who wrote a textbook on helicopter-crash litigation. “They will look at the pilot – was there any indication of fatigue, any indication of a training issue?They´ll scour his or her record,” Robb said. “They will look at this helicopter from stem to stern. They will take the engine to the NTSB metallurgical laboratory outside Washington, D.C., and examine it to see if there was something that malfunctioned in flight.” Investigators will also consider what role might have been played by weather, terrain, radio towers or bird strikes, he said. Robb said he has handled many cases involving Sikorsky S-76 crashes and regards the machine as having a good reputation. “It is generally regarded as a good helicopter with a good safety record,” he said, “but parts fail, parts break. Anything can happen.” Beyond basketball Along with his work boosting women´s sports, Bryant opened a production company and entered the entertainment field in retirement. He won an Academy Award in 2018 for his contributions to “Dear Basketball,” an animated short about his relationship to the game. He also produced content for ESPN. In 2003, Bryant was charged with attacking a 19-year-old employee at a Colorado resort. He had said the two had consensual sex. Prosecutors later dropped the felony sexual assault charge against Bryant at the request of the accuser. Tributes #RIPMamba #MambaForever ???— Bashir Ahmad (@BashirAhmaad) January 26, 2020 They doubted a kid could make it in the NBA and he proved them wrong. They doubted he could win a championship and he proved them wrong. They doubted he could make movies and he won an Oscar. Like all great artists, Kobe Bryant proved the doubters wrong. Rest in peace.— The Academy (@TheAcademy) January 26, 2020 Rest in peace, Kobe and Gianna Bryant… Father and daughter died together. I can't imagine what the family must be going through. ? This is tragic.— Biola Solace-Chukwu (@Beeorlicious) January 26, 2020 A true sporting icon. Rest in peace, Kobe.— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 26, 2020 Just last week, this video was trending everywhere on social media of a beautiful daddy-daughter moment. This is Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna at a basketball game It has been confirmed she was on the helicopter with him. They are both gone. There is nothing in this life.— #OurFavOnlineDoc ? (@DrOlufunmilayo) January 26, 2020
  • Meet Guinea's cardinal 'dividing' Pope Francis and Benedict XVI
    Guinean cardinal Robert Sarah who heads the Vatican’s liturgical office has reiterated his argument that the Catholic priesthood is incompatible with marriage. Sarah, who has documented this argument in his book, ‘‘From the Depths of Our Hearts’‘, says he and his co-author Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI have received ‘brutal’ criticism over the book. In an interview with Italian daily newspaper Il Foglio published Saturday, Cardinal Robert Sarah doubled down on his argument. “If you weaken the law of celibacy, you open a breach, a wound in the mystery of the church,” Sarah told the newspaper. Sarah insisted on the sacramental link between the priesthood and celibacy, even though the Catholic Church has for centuries had married priests in its Eastern Rites as well as in the ranks of Anglican and other Protestant converts. Dividing the popes? The book’s publication earlier this month sparked furious debate, given that Pope Francis is currently weighing whether to allow married priests in the Amazon to counter a priest shortage there. Benedict’s involvement appeared to be a clear effort to influence his successor’s decision and called into question Benedict’s promise to live “hidden from the world” after he retired in 2013. The controversy prompted Sarah to announce that future editions of the book would list Benedict as a contributor, rather than co-author. The Italian version of the book, which came out this week, has on its cover “Robert Sarah with Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI.” Sarah has insisted he acted in good faith and denied allegations that he manipulated the 92-year-old Benedict into participating in a frontal attack on Francis. The cardinal tweeted amid the initial criticism that he had visited the retired pope and “there is no misunderstanding between us.” Who is Cardinal Robert Sarah? Sarah, a Guinean prelate who is a hero to the church’s conservative and traditionalist wing, has insisted he remains obedient to Francis. But the two have clashed repeatedly, and the Vatican under the progressive Francis has found itself in the unusual position of issuing public corrections of Sarah’s positions. The Holy See, for example, intervened in 2016 after Sarah told a London liturgical conference that it was “very important” for the church to return “as soon as possible” to its old practice of the priest celebrating Mass facing east, with his back to the faithful. The Vatican press office insisted Sarah’s call was taken out of context by the media. A year later, Francis publicly reprimanded Sarah for misinterpreting a new instruction giving bishops’ conferences the right to translate Mass missals. Sarah had already sent his interpretation off to a French journal for publication. Sarah is due to offer his resignation to Francis in June when he turns 75, the mandatory retirement age for Catholic bishops. Born 15 June 1945 Ordained 20 July 1969 Archbishop of Conakry, 1979 – 2001 (by Pope Jon Paul II) Cardinal-Deacon, 20 November 2010 (by Pope Benedict XVI)
  • Arrest Jammeh, ban his party: Gambians demand
    Hundreds of Gambians on Saturday called for the arrest and prosecution of the country’s former president Yahya Jammeh, arguing that the victims of his 22-year rule deserve justice. Jammeh ruled Gambia with an iron fist but fled in January 2017 after losing a presidential election to relative unknown Adama Barrow which he refused to acknowledge before being forced out of power by a popular uprising. Wearing T-shirts that read #justicemustprevail, protesters marched in the outskirts of the capital Banjul, holding photographs of people killed or who have gone missing, including AFP correspondent Deyda Hydara, who was gunned down on 16 December 2004 by Jammeh’s henchmen. Maron Baldeh, whose husband lieutenant Basiru Barrow was executed in 1994, said she was at Saturday’s protest to call for Jammeh to be prosecuted. “We are sending message to government to act fast, because… justice delayed is justice denied. Yahya Jammeh should be arrested and put on trial.” Ban Jammeh’s party Nyima Sonko, 42, the widow of Solo Sandeng, a political activist who was arrested and tortured to death after he led a protest march for electoral reform, said: “We are calling on the government to ban the APRC from taking part in active politics.” “We want justice and we want it immediately,” they cried and demanding a ban on Jammeh’s former ruling Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction party (APRC). Since January 2019, some 190 witnesses have appeared before a Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) set up to investigate abuses under Jammeh’s rule. The first year of hearings ended in early December, capping months of testimony about torture, murder, rape and witch hunts in the country of around two million. Jammeh’s supporters Last week, thousands marched on the outskirts of Banjul demanding Jammeh’s return from exile in Equatorial Guinea, as tensions heighten over Barrow’s decision to stay in office for five years — reversing a previous pledge to step down after three. Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou last week warned that Jammeh would “face immediate arrest and charges of the most serious kind” if he returned, including “crimes against humanity.” They argue he has a right to return under a joint statement from the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United Nations, published at the time of his exile. ALSO READ: Gambia govt says Jammeh will be arrested, charged if he returns AFP
  • Burundi ruling party chooses Gen. Evariste Ndayishimiye to replace Nkurunziza
    Burundi’s Gen. Evariste Ndayishimiye was on Sunday confirmed as the ruling party’s candidate in the May presidential elections. The national conference for the ruling CNDD-FDD party in the rural province of Gitega is the latest proof that the country’s president Pierre Nkurunziza will now retire after serving three terms. Nkurunziza will retire after presiding over a disputed third term that sparked violence and forced hundreds of thousands to flee the tiny central African country. Who is Ndayishimiye? Ndayishimiye, a Nkurunziza ally, has been serving as the ruling party’s secretary-general. Years ago he dropped out of university to become a rebel fighting alongside Nkurunziza in Burundi’s civil war. David Gakunzi, a Burundian author and political analyst, described Ndayishimiye as unpredictable. “For instance, he initially opposed Nkurunziza’s third term but later changed his mind and embraced the president,” Gakunzi said. End of an era? Nkurunziza rose to power in 2005 following the signing of the Arusha accords ending a 13-year civil war that killed about 300,000 people. He was re-elected unopposed in 2010 after the opposition boycotted the vote. He then claimed he was eligible for a third term in 2015 because lawmakers, not the general population, had chosen him for his first term — a move that critics called unconstitutional. Nkurunziza’s influence could still linger after the election, since he could receive the title of “paramount leader” under draft legislation approved by the government last week. In 2018, the ruling party declared him “the eternal supreme guide,” a description mocked by some critics. “Nkurunziza is just stepping back, not going away. He will still be working in the background, trying to protect his family and fortunes,” said Charles Nditije, a former minister who is now in the opposition. “There will never be free and fair or credible election. The coming election is meant to give legitimacy to the new president.” He added that “the government does not respect human rights and security agents continue kill with impunity.” Allegations of rights abuses led to Burundi leaving the International Criminal Court and kicking out the U.N. human rights office. Burundi’s government strongly denies allegations that it targets its own people. Before Gen. Ndayishimiye was announced Sunday as the ruling party’s choice, Nkurunziza said his government was now on a democratic path. “We have achieved a lot. God is our witness,” he told party members. AP
  • Solidarity for Ugandan climate activist over racist AP photo crop
    A young Ugandan activist has been receiving solidarity on social media following a photo crop by American news outlet, Associated Press, AP. Vanessa Nakate took to social media to hit out at AP over what she said was a racist decision by the agency. According to her, AP had actually eliminated an entire continent by their action. She was in Davos on the invitation of the WWF Arctic Base camp program. The photo at the heart of the issue is of a number of climate activists at the World Economic Forum, WEF, in Davos, Switzerland. The photo had now famous Greta Thunberg posing with four other activists. Greta was in the middle of the five-member photo flanked on each side by two fellow activists. Nakate was positioned at the far left of the photo. She posted a video on Twitter titled: ‘What it means to be removed from a photo!’ sharing her experiences in Davos and expressing her reservation over the photo episode. She subsequently posted more tweets on the impropriety of AP’s actions. Share if you can What it means to be removed from a photo!— Vanessa Nakate (@vanessa_vash) January 24, 2020 Her story has been reported widely by the international press with most people slamming the AP via social media. Twenty-four hours after she posted her first video, solidarity messages continue to be shared. The head of UNAIDS, Winnie Byanyima, was among those that expressed pride in Nakate’s protest whiles encouraging her to fight on. AP statement on cropped photo: Jan. 24, 2020 We regret publishing a photo this morning that cropped out Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate, the only person of color in the photo. As a news organization, we care deeply about accurately representing the world that we cover. We train our journalists to be sensitive to issues of inclusion and omission. We have spoken internally with our journalists and we will learn from this error in judgment. Statement from Executive Editor Sally Buzbee I am a climate activist from Uganda I am so proud to be an African I am not going to be silenced I am going to speak louder Now is the time for the stories of African activists to be listened to Now is the time to rise up higher than before We can do this together— Vanessa Nakate (@vanessa_vash) January 24, 2020 Some reactions on Twitter Go, girl, go! vanessa_vash #Africa has contributed least to the #ClimateCrisis but #Africa is facing its devastating impacts, floods, droughts, mudslides, death, hunger, displacement, ...Claim #ClimateJustice !#Davos2020 #WEF2020— Winnie Byanyima (Winnie_Byanyima) January 25, 2020 Draaaaag them. Shame on you, AP.— Gimba Kakanda (gimbakakanda) January 25, 2020 Disappointed but not surprised- Associated Press cropped out Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate from a photo taken of her in Geneva with activists Luisa Neubauer, Greta Thunberg, Isabelle Axelsson, and Loukina Tille (who are all white)— Samira Sawlani (@samirasawlani) January 24, 2020 Africa’s voices matter ? The voices of Africa’s #Young Women and Men Matter. Do not crop them out. Do not exclude them. Cc: vanessa_vash #WEF2020— AWLN Young Women Leaders Caucus (awln_YoungWomen) January 24, 2020 The ugly cancer of #Racism is slowly eating up western media,if u look very carefully in the photos below you will see where AP cropped out a black climate activist vanessa_vash from Uganda.After complaining ,they later changed the original photo.Shame!?— Aaron Kaviiri Ateenyi (@AaronKaviiri) January 24, 2020 Wow ?, because you can’t be black and care about climate change apparently?! This is unacceptable on so many levels, sorry this happened to you Vanessa! Shame on you AP! Her name is #VanessaNakate she is 23 from Uganda and she is fighting climate change.— Jasmine Crowe (jasminecrowe) January 25, 2020
  • Coronavirus outbreak: Lagos, other African airports screening travelers
    Nigerian health authorities have begun conducting checks at Lagos airport amid a deadly coronavirus outbreak in China, where many Nigerian citizens work. The move came shortly after the death toll in China rose to 26 on Friday. While the World Health Organization held off on declaring a global emergency despite confirmed cases in half a dozen other countries, some African countries have begun taking precautions. Amongst them Ethiopia, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana and Botswana. Emmanuel Johnson, a passenger who arrived via the entry point told the press: “It’s a viral infection and it may spread anywhere, no because, if we can beat Ebola, we can beat anything, no matter how deadly the virus is. So we have the Nigerian spirit and we can beat the virus.” The first case of the new virus was confirmed on December 31 in Wuhan and it has since been detected in Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and the United States. France announced two cases on January 24. Another traveler, Adedapo Ojo, said: “ it’s in some part of China, so it’s not actually all over Asia currently. But as we know because of the global travel and the mobility of people across, you know, boundaries, so the likeliness of it actually spreading is quite high.”
  • Rumours of child abduction in Gabon: government deploys forces near schools
    The Gabonese government has announced a “substantial deployment” of security forces, especially near schools, to respond to violent incidents caused by child abduction, which resulted in the death of one child, according to a statement released Friday night. Messages about kidnappings of minors have been circulating on social networks for more than a week, rekindling recurring fears of ritual crimes in Gabon and provoking the anger of the inhabitants. While roadblocks had been erected on some highways on Thursday night and Friday, the government condemned “mob justice attacking the innocent” in a statement issued after a cabinet meeting on Friday. A Gabonese man was killed for having had “the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time,” the statement said. The government announced a significant deployment of security and defence forces throughout the country with a greater concentration around schools,” it added. On Saturday, traffic was fluid in Libreville. The few schools which usually open on Saturday are closed until Monday. Since the disappearance of a three-year-old boy, Rinaldi, on 12 January in a village in the north of the country, rumours have been spreading on social networks. An investigation has been opened into Rinaldi’s disappearance and no further complaints “have been made about a case of kidnapping,” the presidential spokesman said on Friday. Accusations of ritual crimes are steadily growing in Gabon. In 2012 and 2013, the discovery of several mutilated bodies had provoked popular anger. In early 2019, a man was sentenced to life imprisonment for a murder committed in 2012 and his accomplice to 12 years in prison for mutilating the corpse, the two criminals having admitted having entered into a contract for “supplying human organs”. AFP
  • The dos Santos scandal, a test for the fight against corruption in Angola
    The case of Isabel dos Santos is a major test of Angolan President Joao Lourenço’s determination to fight corruption in an oil-producing country where one third of the population lives below the poverty line. Isabel dos Santos, 46, daughter of former president José Eduardo dos Santos, is accused of fraud, embezzlement and money laundering by her country’s judiciary, which is demanding her extradition. She denounces “a political attack”. The billionaire, nicknamed “The Princess,” who lives mainly between London and Dubai, is accused of “siphoning off Angola’s economy” and fraudulently accumulating a fortune estimated at 2.1 billion dollars (1.8 billion euros), according to the findings of an investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which is exploiting some 715,000 documents known as “Luanda Leaks. “This is a very important step in the fight against corruption,” said Angolan law professor Rui Verde. “If Isabel dos Santos is prosecuted by the courts, it means that anyone can be prosecuted,” he added, even though Angola ranks 146th out of 180 countries in the ranking of the most corrupt countries drawn up by Transparency International. During his campaign, Joao Lourenço promised to eradicate corruption and revive the country’s economy, which has been at a standstill since the fall in the price of oil, its main resource, in 2014. Angola is rich in oil and diamonds, but revenues from these resources are largely diverted and benefit little of the population. The assets of Isabel dos Santos, proclaimed Africa’s top billionaire by the US magazine Forbes in 2013, and her Congolese husband Sindika Dokolo, have been frozen in Angola. Vendetta It will be more difficult to try the daughter of the former president, who said on Thursday she was “ready to fight in international courts” against “misleading and false” accusations. If she were to escape trial, it would be a blow to the war launched by Joao Lourenço against the remnants of the regime of José Eduardo dos Santos. “A lot is based on this case,” said Mokgabo Kupe, Transparency International’s adviser for southern Africa. “Politically, a lot now depends on how Mr. Lourenço will be able to continue his anti-corruption campaign and ensure an end to impunity” in this area, he continues. The election of this former lieutenant of José Eduardo dos Santos, who ruled Angola with an iron fist for 38 years (1979-2017), has brought about a radical and unexpected change. Since his election, Joao Lourenço has removed those close to his predecessor from the country’s institutions, public enterprises and security apparatus. Some have denounced a vendetta. “There is a danger that this reform process is only selective, targeting only the family and friends of the dos Santos, when there are clearly also people in Lourenço’s entourage who should be prosecuted,” said Alex Vines of the Chatham House think-tank. Isabel’s half-brother, Filomeno dos Santos, who was president of the country’s sovereign wealth fund, has been on trial in Luanda since December for embezzlement of public funds. Sabotage Yet there is an urgent need to improve the country’s economic climate. Plagued by falling oil prices in 2014, sub-Saharan Africa’s second largest oil producer is mired in a serious crisis, and Joao Lourenço is under pressure to create jobs and growth. “This gives particular urgency to the repatriation of funds and the fight against corruption,” says Vines. The Angolan government needs to attract international investors, which can only happen if they are assured of clean and transparent institutions. Prominent figures involved in the fight against corruption seem to have confidence in the authorities. “There is a real will to take back the country (...), because the state has been privatized by the dos Santos family and their friends,” says anti-corruption activist Rafael Marques. But he believes the president’s task is made all the more difficult by the fact that he has to contend with part of his own administration. “There are members of the government who are currently sabotaging Lourenço’s anti-corruption campaign, who continue to think as they did in the past,” Marques said. “We haven’t seen a change of regime, just a change of president. The government is the same as before. This is also the feeling of the opposition. “The ruling MPLA party is the main culprit for the current state of corruption in our country,” said Liberty Chiyaka, who is responsible in parliament for Unita, the main opposition party.
  • Ugandans must talk about transition: outgoing US ambassador
    The outgoing United States ambassador to Uganda, Deborah Malac says a discussion on transition in the East African nation is inevitable, adding that it goes beyond politics. Malac told journalists in Uganda on Thursday the future of the country has to be discussed by all groups, especially the youth. “It is about how the majority of the population, the 30-year-olds and below feel; like they have a voice, have solutions to problems. Like let us not talk about who sits in what chair; let us talk about where do we want the country to be in five years, 10 years or in 20 years,” Malac said. ‘‘Some of that is not political in the pure sense of politics; it’s about opening those opportunities, opening those doors for Ugandans to have a voice to say ‘we want this’, what do we need to do differently in terms of different economic policy making, what do we need to do differently in terms of political decision making, about policies.’‘ She added that across the world, many regimes that stay in power for long fail to plan for transition, with disastrous results. “A transition will happen at some point because it must. None of us are immortal,” she said. The 65-year old has been ambassador of US to Uganda since September 2015, having also served as US envoy to Liberia between May 2012 and 2015. She announced that following her mission in Uganda, she would be retiring from diplomatic service after 39 years. ALSO READ: U.S. envoy and Uganda govt spokesman clash over age limit debate
  • On trial for robbing Morocco king's luxury watches
    A court in Morocco is trying fifteen people including a former cleaner in the royal household and gold traders, accused of stealing dozens of luxury watches belonging to King Mohammed VI. Defence lawyers said the suspects, arrested at the end of last year, were also charged in a Rabat court of forming “a criminal gang”. The main suspect is a 46-year-old who worked as a cleaning woman in a royal household and has allegedly confessed to the robberies, while the others have denied involvement. The woman, who is alleged to have stolen 36 watches, had many of them melted down and sold on to gold merchants. The 14 others in court, all men, are gold traders or intermediaries who said they had no knowledge of the robberies. Forbes magazine in 2014 classified the 56-year-old monarch as one of the world’s richest men with wealth estimated at more than $2.5 billion. He has a taste for luxury cars, paintings and watches, and was shown in an Instagram post in September 2018 with a Patek Philippe diamond-encrusted watch in white gold with an estimated value of $1.2 million. AFP
  • Zimbabwe judge blasts soldiers for harassing Chiwenga's wife
    Zimbabwe’s vice president Constantino Chiwenga and the military were on Friday criticised for abusing state resources, when soldiers were used in a divorce-related dispute. Judge Christopher Dube-Banda handed out a scathing ruling saying the military’s involvement was ‘frightening’ and ordering that Chiwenga’s wife should regain custody of their children and be allowed to access the family’s luxury home. The ruling is the latest twist in a case that has gripped the southern African nation with allegations of black magic, attempted murder and drug addiction. The case has provided a glimpse of the luxurious lives of Zimbabwe’s ruling elite as the rest of the country grapples with economic collapse, hyperinflation and hunger. Custody The wife of Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, Marry, had approached the court seeking custody of the children and access to the house, a farm and vehicles. She said they were taken from her by Chiwenga when she was detained for more than three weeks on accusations of trying to kill him and money laundering. After his wife was released from prison on bail earlier this month, Chiwenga refused to give her custody of the children and vehicles, and used soldiers to block her from entering their house in a wealthy suburb of the capital, Harare. “It is unacceptable and anathema to the constitutional values of this jurisdiction that the military may be used to settle a matrimonial dispute,” the judge said. “This is frightening. What happened to the applicant (Marry) must be a cause of fear and concern to all law-abiding citizens,” he said. He ordered Chiwenga to return the children as well as three Mercedes-Benz vehicles and a Lexus to his estranged wife “forthwith.” He also said soldiers should not block Marry from accessing their home and farm. A messy divorce Chiwenga, who as army commander led a coup against former president Robert Mugabe in 2017, separated from his wife, a former model, after he returned from four months of medical treatment in China in December. He claimed his wife tried to kill him while he was on a hospital bed in neighboring South Africa before he was airlifted to China. He described her in court papers as “violent” and a drug addict who used black magic. On her part, Marry accused her husband of being a “dangerous” man who “can summon the army when it suits him … to deal with perceived opponents” and suffering from “acute paranoia brought about by his poor health” and “his being under heavy doses of drugs, including un-prescribed opiates.” The divorce case has not started, but even in its preliminary stages the bitter wrangle has “gone a long way to expose the depth of moral decay that has pervaded our national leaders,” the privately owned The Standard newspaper said. “The divorce case presents our national leaders as completely out of touch with the reality that the citizens of this country are among the poorest in the region and the continent,” the weekly newspaper said in an editorial this week. AP
  • Nothing better than peace: Kiir praises Sudan's power-sharing deal with Darfur rebels
    Sudanese authorities on Friday agreed to grant special status to two conflict regions in a preliminary agreement that also called for formation of a unified national army. Signed in neighbouring South Sudan, the agreement was between a coalition of nine rebel groups and the government after weeks of talks is a key step towards a final peace deal. The peace talks began in October and aim to end conflicts in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan, where rebels have fought bloody campaigns against marginalisation by Khartoum under ousted president Omar al-Bashir. Special status The latest deal covers key issues around land, giving local authorities the right to make their own laws, power sharing, and the creation of a unified national army. It was signed by groups from the Blue Nile area and Darfur, however rebels from South Kordofan — who are demanding an autonomous state — did not as they press further demands. “With this agreement, there (are) so many details including the issues of land that (were) resolved,” said Alhadi Idris, chairman of the coalition, the Sudan Revolutionary Front. The agreement also addressed legislature for the two areas and gave them the chance to make their laws and to regulate local issues, he said. The land issues refer to a contentious deal signed under Bashir which gave investors fertile land under 100-year leases. This has been scrapped and leases will be reduced to less than 20 years. A national army Idris also said the agreement covered creating a national Sudan army. “In Sudan there are so many armies and militias and the rebels also have their forces and … it talks about how to reintegrate all these forces into one national army,” he said. More details on what was agreed regarding power sharing and local autonomy were not immediately available. Sudanese paramilitary commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, best known by his nickname “Hemeti”, signed the deal on behalf of Khartoum. “Signing this agreement shows our political will as the government of Sudan to peace and this peace will change the lives of all the people of Sudan better than ever before.” Parties from all three conflict-hit regions signed a declaration of principles to allow humanitarian access into conflict-hit areas of the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan, Darfur and the Blue Nile. South Sudan’s mediation The talks are taking place in Juba, in South Sudan, which broke away from Khartoum in 2011 to become an independent state. South Sudan President Salva Kiir is mediating, as he himself is engaged in peace talks to end a bloody six-year war in his own country, that have faced numerous delays and hurdles. “I am happy that you have reached this agreement, although it is not the final agreement and hope you will reach the final one in few weeks,” said Kiir. “Let me tell you, there is nothing better than peace because with peace you can get anything you want.” READ MORE: Sudan’s FM says its ‘time to stop the war in two Sudans’
  • C.A.R: MSF offers free care for accident survivors
    Synthia, a 30-year-old mother of 2, was involved in a traffic accident in 2018 while on her way to work on her motorcycle. The accident led to her being hospitalized for several months at the Traumatology Department of Doctors Without Borders in Bangui for free. “It was September 23, 2018 at 4:45 p.m. I was about to leave for work and suddenly on the motorcycle a car came straight to hit us and then I sustained four fractures in my left leg, and then I was bleeding from the mouth, nose, everywhere, and I was taken to the hospital’‘, she told our correspondent, Samuel Thierry Nzam. The first aid administered to Synthia after one month of treatment has not produced any satisfactory results. She will be transferred to the laboratory where new samples will be taken to discover the origins of this antibiotic resistance. “After her initial clinical and radiological check-up, she was taken to the operating theatre where the wounds were cleaned, ways were found to stop the bleeding and then immobilize the limbs with external fixators’‘, said r. Freddy Ngbonga. The medical team is then set up to define the type of germ responsible for this resistance, based on samples taken in the laboratory, to determine the right treatment. Dr. Sébastien is an infectious disease specialist. “The origin of multi-resistant bacteria is twofold, on the one hand the misuse of antibiotics, self-medication or the purchase of antibiotics on the market, which means that every time we consume an antibiotic we will select bacteria resistant to this antibiotic and on the other hand the lack of hygiene or an individual can pass on to another person. The bacteria that he has on his hands after a bad hand washing, and therefore if the bacteria is resistant, it can pass from one person to another or from one patient to another’‘, he said. After a stay in an isolation room with strictly regulated access, Synthia is allowed to return home, but the story doesn’t end there. Every week she has to go to the facility for outpatient check-up.
  • Ethiopian journalist seeks asylum in UK, jabs touted press freedom
    Until earlier this week, Bilal Worku was a senior journalist with Ethiopia’s state broadcaster, EBC. He announced his departure whiles supposed to be on official duty citing principally crippling working conditions. Worku was on the team that accompanied deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen to the UK-Africa summit which took place in London. He failed to return home as scheduled and subsequently sought asylum saying he had been threatened by high-ranking government officials. Despite big reviews in the area of press freedom under the Abiy Ahmed – led government, the journalist who served at EBC for nine years said the reality showed the opposite. Bilal told BBC Amharic: “There is no way I can go back and live freely in Ethiopia,” going on to accuse the PM’s office of interfering with work at the EBC. “There is no press freedom or editorial independence for that matter. Whenever I try to tell the truth through my work I get threats. I can’t say much as I fear for my family’s safety,” said the father of two. Local news portal Addis Standard observes that he is the latest in a string of unannounced departures from the broadcaster. “I have colleagues who sought refuge abroad as they feel unsafe in their own country. I made the decision after a thorough discussion with myself,” he added. EBC’s deputy chief executive Abdel Jelil Hamid according to the BBC couldn’t deny allegations about interference by government officials. “I can’t say that there is no government officials meddling, having a negative impact on journalists, but it is not that serious,” he said. He stressed that the broadcaster was not to blame. “Unless they have their own personal agenda, the institution couldn’t be the reason for their decision,” he added.
  • Global energy demand debated at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week
    Gathering heads of state, ministers and energy innovators together in the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week ran from January 11-18. Since it was established in 2008, the event has looked to accelerate domestic and global sustainable development. At the opening of the forum, the UAE’s Minister of State highlighted the country’s investments in energy projects and its projections for the years ahead. “Within the UAE, we have grown our renewable energy portfolio by over 400% in the last ten years. And we’re well on track to double it again, in the next ten,” said His Excellency, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, who is also the CEO of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. Al Jaber went on to explain the ways in which the UAE was complementing its clean energy portfolio. “In 2020, we will become the first country in the region to deliver safe, commercial and peaceful nuclear power.” he added. ZAYED SUSTAINABILITY PRIZE Whilst Commissioners, CEO’s and world leaders held high-level meetings at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, energy innovators of tomorrow were being honoured for their green credentials. [IME S03E03 MAIN ARTICLE – SECONDARY IMAGE 1] Winners of the Zayed Sustainability Prize, heads of state and senior officials during the award ceremony at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week Ten winners, from SME’s to high schools and non-profit organisations, were the recipients of the $3 million dollar Zayed Sustainability Prize. See the full list of winners here Recognised for having a positive energy-related impact was Electricians Without Borders. The French company, which operates in around 38 countries, provides water and electricity to underprivileged communities, including refugee camps. [IME S03E03 MAIN ARTICLE – SECONDARY IMAGE 2] Electricians Without Borders brings water and energy to underprivileged communities from 38 countries The firm’s President told Euronews about his ambitions for the project going forward. “The project, since it began, has impacted around 50,000 people,” said Hervé Gouyet, President of Electricians Without Borders. “And there are still a number of people in refugee camps – nearly a million people – so there are many, many, many things we could do for them. Unfortunately, the number of displaced people around the world exceeded 80 million.” GLOBAL ENERGY DEMAND IN FOCUS Under the umbrella of ADSW, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) convened. As did the Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum, where the executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), said that as industries and governments struggled to tackle climate change, the gap between “perceptions and the reality” of the problem was widening. To discuss the challenges that policy makers are facing today, as they grapple with climate change and geopolitical pressures, Inspire Middle East spoke to the Energy Commissioner of the European Union Kadri Simson whilst she was in Abu Dhabi. [IME S03E03 MAIN ARTICLE – SECONDARY IMAGE 3] Energy Commissioner of the European Union Kadri Simson speaks to Euronews Q&A WITH KADRI SIMSON, ENERGY COMMISSIONER, EUROPEAN UNION Rebecca McLaughlin-Eastham: Commissioner, welcome to the programme. Commissioner Kadri Simson: Thank you. Rebecca: Let me start by asking you why you’re here on the ground in Abu Dhabi. Would I be correct to presume that you’re looking for partnerships? And if so, what has been secured or discussed? Simson: That’s very correct. We are looking for partners, because the European Union has adopted a very ambitious climate agenda, but we won’t make a big difference if we achieve what we have promised, alone. Because right now, the European Union’s greenhouse gas emissions, they are only nine percent of the global emissions. So, we need supporters, we need partners. Rebecca: Let me pick up on that, because in terms of CO2 emissions, they were at record highs last year. Plus, the head of the IEA has said that there’s a widening disparity between the “perception and reality” of the problem of climate change. Would you agree with that? How can we fix it? Simson: We can lead by example, and in European Union we have decided that each and every member state will implement a national energy climate plan. So, right now we know that we have concrete plans of how to achieve what we have promised by 2030. And that means, if we do everything that is already agreed, we will decrease our greenhouse gas emissions by 45%. Rebecca: Turkey and Russia have launched the TurkStream pipeline, which will take Russian natural gas to Europe via Turkey. Talk to me about the significance of this deal for Europe. Simson: The European Union is the biggest natural gas importer, and for us it is very important that we will have diverse routes. We want that each and every member state has different providers. So, for every new pipeline, and old pipeline too, that comes from the third country. There is a rule, that it has to be compatible with our regulations, with our standards. That means, unbundling fair tariffs. It has to be open to third parties. [IME S03E03 MAIN ARTICLE – SECONDARY IMAGE 4] Energy Commissioner of the European Union Kadri Simson speaks to Euronews’ Rebecca McLaughlin-Eastham Rebecca: Diplomatically, what does the deal imply for ongoing relations between Moscow and Kiev? Because relations have been deteriorating since 2014, and this pipeline will reduce gas deliveries by Russia through Ukraine. So, what might we expect to happen? Simson: Last year, we were just hosting trilateral talks between Russia and Ukraine. And it is very welcomed that they reached an agreement, and there is a new agreement for the next 5 years. So, from a European point of view, we do see that Ukraine as a transit country is very reliable, and we welcome that this agreement was reached. Rebecca: What do you make of the U.S. wanting to impose sanctions on the TurkStream deal in a bid to deter, as they say, “Russian aggression”? Simson: Well, we hope to have good cooperation with the United States, so that all those actions that are lawful will be also accepted. Rebecca: There is also, of course, the EastMed pipeline deal for Europe. Turkey are not happy about this potentially happening. They say it’s actually not necessary, given that a pipeline already exists – the Trans-Anatolian pipeline. Are they right to hold this view? Simson: We want to have diverse routes and in addition to the pipelines, we also see the role of LNG. So, different routes, different suppliers, this is part of our policy to achieve energy security. Rebecca: We sit here in Abu Dhabi, we’re not too far from the Strait of Hormuz, such an important oil choke point for the safe delivery of energy to Europe and beyond. How concerned are you about the current tensions between the U.S and Iran, and the potential of the situation to affect the operations in the Strait? Simson: Well, we all know that the Strait of Hormuz has enormous importance for all the oil transit, not only to the European Union. But overall, globally – coming from the European Union – we believe that diplomacy is a powerful tool and we are always open to diplomatic negotiations. And that is also what we will do in the future. Rebecca: It’s been a pleasure. Thank you, Commissioner. Simson: Thank you very much. SEEN ON SOCIAL MEDIA: ENERGISED CLICKS Maria from Russia visited the Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in the UAE, the largest single-site solar park in the world. Voir cette publication sur Instagram В королевстве... солнечных панелей! В самом большом Солнечном парке на планете – Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum! Вот лишь несколько “говорящих” цифр: площадь парка – 4,5 км, количество панелей – 2,3 млн (!), мощность – 1000 МВт (с последующим увеличением до 5000 МВт). И, пожалуй, самая важная цифра: объект позволит сократить выбросы углекислого газа в атмосферу на 6,5 млн тонн. Чистая энергетика в действии! #Ассоциациямалойэнергетики #рабочиепоездки Une publication partagée par Мария Неволина (@nemariya) le 20 Oct. 2019 à 2 :44 PDT Pablo from Mexico was amazed when he drove by the Tarfaya wind farm in Morocco, saying the world is a better place with renewable energy. Voir cette publication sur Instagram Tarfaya Wind Farm, the largest project in North Africa ?? #Tarec #Tarfaya #TarfayaWindFarm #WindEnergy #Siemens #SiemensWindTurbine #WindFarm #Africa #NorthAfrica #Morocco #MoroccoWind #TarecEnergy Une publication partagée par Pablo Cid (@pablitocid) le 8 Janv. 2019 à 11 :45 PST
  • Angola wants to discredit legacy of the dos Santos' - Isabel fights back
    Isabel responds to corruption charges Daughter of ex-Angolan president and Africa’s richest woman, Isabel dos Santos, says she plans to sue the Angolan government after she was slapped this week with a series of corruption-related charges. In a statement published on Thursday, she dismissed the charges of “money laundering, influence peddling, harmful management… [and] forgery of documents, among other economic crimes” as fabricated and with political motive. “The allegations which have been made against me over the last few days are extremely misleading and untrue. This is a very concentrated, orchestrated and well-coordinated political attack, ahead of elections in Angola next year. It is an attempt to neutralise me and to discredit the legacy of President Dos Santos and his family,” she wrote. Attorney General Helder Pitta Gros had on Wednesday disclosed what he said were provisional charges against Isabel. “Stolen documents have been leaked selectively to give a false impression of my business activities. I am a private businesswoman who has spent 20 years building successful companies from the ground up, creating over 20,000 jobs and generating huge tax revenue for Angola. “Last year my businesses paid over $100m in tax. I have always operated within the law and all my commercial transactions have been approved by lawyers, banks, auditors and regulators,” she wrote. Dos Santos-linked banker commits suicide A Portuguese banker named in a major Angolan money-laundering and corruption scandal has died in an apparent suicide at his home, police said Thursday. Nuno Ribeiro da Cunha, named as a suspect by Angolan authorities in an investigation targeting the billionaire daughter of Angola’s former longtime leader, appeared to have hanged himself in the garage of his Lisbon apartment building late Wednesday, a police statement said. Ribeiro da Cunha was the head of private banking at Lisbon-based EuroBic where Isabel dos Santos, reputedly Africa’s richest woman, holds a majority 42.5% stake. The bank says she now intends to sell her stake. Angola pressing corruption charges against Isabel Angolan authorities suspect Dos Santos embezzled millions of dollars from the country’s state oil company and laundered it through foreign banks. Ribeiro da Cunha’s death occurred hours after Angola’s attorney general, Helder Pitta Gros, speaking in the country’s capital Luanda, named him and Dos Santos among five suspects in the investigation. All the suspects are living outside Angola and have business links with Dos Santos, Pitta Gros said. Pitta Gros arrived Thursday in Portugal to ask his country’s former colonial ruler for help investigating the case which spans several countries in Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Angolan authorities suspect that Dos Santos embezzled from the state oil company Sonangol, which she once headed. She is suspected of mismanagement at Sonangol and misappropriation of company money. Four others, all believed to be close to Dos Santos and including , are suspects in the investigation, which was started after Dos Santos’ successor at Sonangol alerted authorities. All the suspects are living outside Angola, Pitta Gros said. One of them, Mario Silva, a Portuguese businessman thought to be Dos Santos’ right-hand man, stepped down Thursday as chairman of the board of Banco de Fomento Angola, the Luanda-based bank announced on its website. Dos Santos has denied any wrongdoing. She has numerous business interests in Portugal, including stakes in telecoms and energy companies. Senior Angolan officials have long made major investments in Portuguese real estate and companies. Pitta Gros told Portuguese public broadcaster RTP at Lisbon airport he planned to meet with his Portuguese counterpart Lucilia Gago. He said he had traveled to Lisbon “to ask for a lot of things,” but he didn’t elaborate. Portuguese officials didn’t confirm the meeting. Chief detective of the Portuguese police, Luis Neves, said preliminary reports indicated Ribeiro da Cunha’s death was suicide and that nobody else was involved. He told reporters his staff are prepared to help with the Angolan investigation whenever a formal request is made. #LuandaLeaks shortly after local asset freeze Last December, a Luanda court froze Dos Santos’ major assets, which include banks and a telecom company. The government says it is trying to recover $1.1 billion it says the country is owed by Dos Santos, her husband and a close associate of the couple. Dos Santos was appointed head of Sonangol by her father, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, before he stepped down in 2017 after 38 years in power. Human rights groups long accused Jose Eduardo dos Santos of heading a kleptocracy which left most people in the oil- and diamond-rich country living in poverty. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists earlier this week accused Isabel dos Santos of using “unscrupulous deals” to build her fortune, estimated at $2 billion. The allegations were based on more than 715,000 confidential financial and business records provided by the Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa, an advocacy group based in Paris, as well as hundreds of interviews. The cache of documents is known as the Luanda Leaks.
  • Opposition protesters want embattled Lesotho PM to resign immediately
    Hundreds of mainly opposition supporters protested in the streets of the Lesotho capital Maseru, demanding that the Prime Minister Thomas Thabane resigns. This comes as the leader is questioned by police over the 2017 murder of his estranged wife. Thabane last week agreed to resign after mediation efforts by South African envoy, Jeff Radebe. Thabane was interviewed at his office rather than at a police station, following a request by his party, the All Basotho Convention (ABC). The First Lady is still the subject of a police summons in the murder of her predecessor. A protester, Ramahooana Matlosa, said immediate resignation was the right thing to do: “We came here for a protest march to demand for the prime minister to resign with immediate effect. “There are reasons why we want him to resign immediately. The first one is that he does not respect the rule of law. In this government, already, there are 60 people who have been killed in police custody,” he added. The couple had been embroiled in bitter divorce proceedings. Some of the placards protesters carried had inscriptions like: “Thabane must go today” whiles others chanted “Thabane and his wife must go” and “We want justice for Lipolelo”.
  • The other insurgency: Somalia ranked world's most corrupt nation
    Somalia has again been ranked the world’s most corrupt country, according to the just released 2019 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) released by Transparency International, TI. Somalia was bottom of the standings with 9 / 180 (score / rank) Other African countries that ranked at the bottom of the list were: South Sudan (12 / 179), Sudan (16 / 173), Equatorial Guinea (16 / 173) and Guinea-Bissau (18 / 168). The ranking measures perceived public-sector corruption using a scale on which 100 is seen as very clean and zero is very corrupt. More than two-thirds of countries around the world scored below 50% and the average score was pegged at 43%. This year’s results reveal that a majority of the 180 countries analyzed are showing little to no improvement in tackling corruption. Somalia’s government has in the past dismissed poor rankings on the CPI terming them as “unreliable and falsehood”, with the country’s Finance Minister Abdirahman Duale Beyle previously threatening to sue Transparency International. New Zealand was named the most corrupt free country followed by Denmark and Finland respectively. Somalia has been wracked by terrorist violence unleashed by al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab group. The current government led by Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo has continued to make gains in seeking international assistance across different sectors to rebuild the country despite repeated deadly attacks especially in the capital Mogadishu. Africa’s Top 10 least corrupt countries Seychelles Botswana Cape Verde Rwanda Mauritius Sao Tome and Principe Namibia Senegal South Africa Benin




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  • A Psychotherapy Program to Help Traumatized Children in Iraq
    Thousands of victims of Islamic State's reign of terror suffer continue to suffer from psychological trauma, but there is a shortage of adequate care in northern Iraq. A German trauma expert hopes to change that.
  • Two Soldiers Recall the Liberation of Dachau and Auschwitz
    Seventy-five years ago, Auschwitz was liberated, with Dachau to follow a couple of months later. Here, a Soviet soldier and an American soldier recall the moment they first set eyes on the camps.
  • China: A Visit to the Coronavirus Epicenter in Wuhan
    The Chinese city of Wuhan, with a population of 11 million, is considered the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. DER SPIEGEL went there.
  • Heiko Maas: "For A Long Time Now, Words Have Not Been Enough"
    Speeches and warnings are insufficient when it comes to anti-Semitism in Germany and Europe. We need concrete programs to counter the hatred of Jews, including better education and harsher penalties.
  • Fresh Viral Threat Emerges in China
    A terrifying virus is spreading from China around the world. It appears to have been transmitted to humans through a wild animal. Where did it come from and how dangerous is it for Asia and the rest of the world?
  • Facebook: How To Fake Friends and Influence People
    A network comprised of hundreds of fabricated Facebook profiles disseminates political propaganda and also coaxes real users to reveal as much about themselves as they are willing. The social network appears to be impotent in its response to the professional saboteurs.
  • Interview with Kenneth Rogoff on European Central Bank
    U.S. economist Kenneth Rogoff, 66, believes the European Central Bank should lower interest rates further if it becomes necessary, but argues that private savers should be protected from negative rates.
  • Researchers Pin Hopes on California's 'Survivor' Trees
    California's forests are home to around 130 million dead trees, which have been killed by long droughts and bark beetles. Researchers are now growing a new generation of more resilient pines they hope will make forests more sustainable.
  • "As a Chinese Company, We Never Get the Benefit of the Doubt"
    In an interview, Alex Zhu, the head of the Chinese video app TikTok, defends the company against accusations of spying and censorship and explains why he isn't interested in making the platform a place for political debate.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron Risks It All
    In the second half of his term, French President Emmanuel Macron has been pursuing many of his political goals unilaterally. Whether it's pushing through controversial pension reforms or meeting with unpopular autocrats, why is Macron taking such risks?
  • Can Diplomacy Stop the War in Libya?
    In the conflict over Libya, a North African country of considerable strategic importance for Europe, three countries have been setting the agenda betting on a military solution: Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey. Does diplomacy still have a chance?
  • Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio: "Europe Stands To Lose the Most"
    The conflict in Libya has spiralled into a proxy war, with Europe right at the center. Italian Foreign Minister Di Maio is pushing for a political solution.
  • Lake Chad: A War Fueled By Global Warming
    The region between Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon is dominated by violence, poverty and hunger and it is home to one of the most complex humanitarian crises in the world. Now, climate change is intensifying the problem.
  • Germany's Greens Hit Adulthood
    Once self-identified as the "anti-party party," Germany's Greens now have aspirations of moving into the Chancellery before long. At age 40, their story is one of astonishing success -- and change.
  • Germany: Can New Organ Donor Law Save Lives?
    German lawmakers are considering making the country's organ donor program opt-out rather than opt-in. Their decision could save many lives, but it's deeply controversial. A transplant recipient and a father who had to choose whether to donate his son's organs share their views on the life and death legislation.
  • American Withdraws from Trial after Questions about His Background
    An American witness in a Holocaust trial drew global attention after making a conciliatory gesture to a concentration camp guard. After questions about whether the joint plaintiff had even been held in a concentration camp, he has now withdrawn from the proceedings.
  • Germany: The Concentration Camp Victim Who Never Was
    A supposed former prisoner at Stutthof concentration camp attracted attention around the world when he hugged a man accused of being a former guard during his criminal trial and offered his forgiveness. The story seemed too good to be true -- and it was.
  • The U.S. Versus Iran: A Dangerous New Era in the Middle East
    By killing top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, the U.S. has injected even more unpredictability into an already unstable region. Both sides have insisted they don't want war. But the conflict is likely to continue in the shadows.
  • 'The "Gypsy" Stereotype Affects Us All'
    Germany's Sinti and Roma are a diverse minority that have little more in common than their negative image in society. We asked four young people from the ethnic group to share their stories.
  • Are Venezuelan Refugees Still Welcome?
    Tens of thousands of Venezuelans are fleeing to Colombia each day because they might otherwise starve. But how long will their neighbors' goodwill last, considering they themselves are taking to the streets to protest poverty, violence and a reviled president?

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