Sunday, May 09, 2021

AFRICAN NATIONS APPEAR TO BE BRACING THEMSELVES FOR SURGE IN COVID INFECTIONS

Health ministers across the continent met on Saturday to review a strategy that the African Union (AU) set up at the beginning of last year to tackle the pandemic and seek better ways to flatten infection curves.

FILE: WHO head Tedros Ghebreyesus warned of a new wave of COVID-19 infections in Africa due to delayed vaccine supplies, a slow rollout and new variants. Pictures: AFP

Veronica Mokhoali 

JOHANNESBURG – African countries appear to be preparing themselves to avoid another surge of COVID-19 cases as new variants, such as the one that emerged in India, could unleash a third wave on the continent.

African countries have reported a collective 4.5 million cases of COVID-19 infections so far.

Health ministers across the continent met on Saturday to review a strategy that the African Union (AU) set up at the beginning of last year to tackle the pandemic and seek better ways to flatten infection curves.

This comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) said the continent was now playing catch up with the rest of the world in terms of vaccine rollouts.

The WHO has emphasized the importance of ensuring societies across Africa be provided with coronavirus vaccines, in efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.

WHO head Tedros Ghebreyesus spoke during a virtual joint meeting of AU health ministers.

Ghebreyesus warned of a new wave of COVID-19 infections in Africa due to delayed vaccine supplies, a slow rollout and new variants.

“What is happening now in many other parts of the world can happen in our Africa, of we let down our guard. The emergence of rapidly spreading variants combined with the premature easing of public health and social measures, and the inequitable distribution of vaccines is having tragic consequences.”

The WHO said Africa now accounts for only 2% of vaccine doses administered globally.

With South Africa still only in its first phase of inoculating its ambitious target of 1.25 million healthcare workers.

'NO DOUBT' US HAS UNDERCOUNTED COVID DEATHS: FAUCI

The country has officially lost over 581,000 people to the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus -- but a University of Washington study released Thursday estimated deaths at more than 900,000.

FILE: Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases speaks during a meeting with US President Donald Trump and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards D-LA in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on 29 April 2020. Picture: AFP

AFP 

WASHINGTON - The United States, which has reported the world's worst overall Covid-19 death toll, has "no doubt" been undercounting fatal cases, top pandemic advisor Anthony Fauci said on Sunday.

The country has officially lost over 581,000 people to the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus -- but a University of Washington study released Thursday estimated deaths at more than 900,000.

"That's a bit more than I would have thought the undercounting was," Fauci told NBC's Meet The Press.

"But I think there's no doubt... that we are and have been undercounting."

The United States has reported over 32.6 million cases since the virus was first identified at the end of 2019 in China.

America was battered by a spike in cases and deaths after the end-of-year holidays, but since January new infections have come down as vaccination rates have jumped.

"We are turning the corner. We have 58% of adult Americans with at least one shot, over 110 million Americans fully vaccinated," White House Covid-19 coordinator Jeffrey Zients told CNN's State of the Union.

President Joe Biden wants 70% of adults in the US to have received at least one shot of the Covid-19 vaccine by the July 4 Independence Day holiday.

But the rate peaked around April 10 and has been declining since then, with vaccine hold-outs slowing the race to population immunity.

Federal, state and local officials are partnering with pharmacies, restaurants, breweries, supermarkets and sports teams to come up with incentives to get people to get their shots.

In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy launched a "Shot and a Beer" program to encourage vaccination, while in West Virginia Governor Jim Justice announced that the state will offer $100 savings bonds to residents aged 16 to 35 who get inoculated.

Swaziland Runs Out of Coronavirus Vaccines, Only 35,000 People Treated

Lisa Ferdinando/U.S. Secretary of Defense/Flickr

A medic prepares a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine to be administered to a patient (file photo).

8 MAY 2021

Swazi Media Commentary (Gaborone)

Only 35,000 of Swaziland's 1.2 million population have received their first vaccination against coronavirus and the kingdom has run out. The Acting Prime Minister Themba Masuku said more were expected.

He said they should arrive in Swaziland (also known as eSwatini) before the end of May 2021. Masuku and Health Minister Lizzie Nkosi have been promising new vaccines were imminent for some weeks.

Masuku, in a statement on Thursday (6 May 2021), said, 'We are still expecting to receive a batch of AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines from the COVAX facility before the end of this month. Additionally, we are also in line to receive the first batch of 500,000 vaccines from Oxford AstraZeneca before the end of this month to continue with the rollout of the vaccination exercise.'

He said, 'While numbers of new infections nationally are relatively low, standing at 15 cases recorded in one week and no death reported in 18 days, we cannot be lulled into a sense of comfort and complacency.'

Despite the shortage of vaccines, Masuku announced relaxations on restrictions imposed as part of the kingdom's partial lockdown to deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The number of people allowed to attend outdoor arts and entertainment events has been increased to 500; indoor events can now accommodate up to 300 people.

More sports, such as basketball, netball, rugby sevens, volleyball and women's football, will be allowed to resume.

Alcohol sales have been relaxed but continue to be restricted to home consumption.

According to the World Health Organisation, in Swaziland from 3 January 2020 to 6 May 2021, there had been 18,467 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 671 deaths, reported to WHO. As of 5 May 2021, a total of 34,897 vaccine doses had been administered. 

Africa: Over 124,000 Covid-19 Deaths Across Continent

Lucy Wanjiru/Nation Media Group

9 MAY 2021

allAfrica.com

As of May 9, confirmed cases of Covid-19 from 55 African countries reached   4,624,417 while over 13,443,942 vaccinations have been administered across the continent.

Reported deaths in Africa reached  124,174 and  4,175,929 people have recovered. South Africa has the most reported cases -  1,594,817 - and   54,724 people died. Other most-affected countries are Morocco (  513,628 ), Tunisia (  319,512 ), Ethiopia (  262,217 ), Egypt (  236,272 ), Libya (  179,697 ) and Nigeria (  165,370 ).

For the latest totals, see the AllAfrica interactive map with per-country numbers. The numbers are compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (world map) using statistics from the World Health Organization and other international institutions as well as national and regional public health departments.

Ethiopia: Council Urges EU to Reconsider Election Observation Stance

Voters at the polls (file photo).

8 MAY 2021

The Ethiopian Herald (Addis Ababa)

The Ethiopian Political Parties Joint Council urged European Union to reconsider its stance and observe the 6th Ethiopian general elections. Briefing journalists after a two-day consultative meeting with its members, Council Chairperson Rahel Batie (Ph.D.) said that the contending political parties have made in-depth discussion to make the upcoming pre, during and post-election processes peaceful, fair and to receive trust of all parties.

The political parties finally agreed to participate in the election through making themselves accountable and responsible, work to ensure solidarity among Ethiopians and the government is also expected to make the election free and fair and a foundation for democratization in Ethiopia.

Concerning election observers, any interested local and international entity can observe the election, create enabling conditions for the election to be credible and democratic and observers have to move respecting the constitution and sovereignty of the country.

Appreciating the interest of the EU to observe the election, the council urged the union to resume its stance and play its observatory role. Considering the challenges the nation has faced and election observers' legal right, the Ethiopian government would hopefully see its way keeping the country's sovereignty intact.

The council respects the stance of the EU to observe the election or not, but it has to make its reason public. The council finally urged all parties to contribute their share to the effort geared towards making the upcoming election free, fair, democratic and willing the confidence of all parties.

BY GIRMACHEW GASHAW

Voters Decide Ethiopia’s Election Credibility, Not EU: Scholars

May 8, 2021 

ADDIS ABABA- EU’s cancelation of its electoral observation mission is not the crux of the matter for the upcoming 6th general elections of Ethiopia, what matters most is how the election process is being conducted with huge voter turnout, so remarked Scholars.

Ethiopian Social Democratic Party President Prof. Beyene Petrous said the absence of EU election observers does not have any negative impact on the election process as they were playing insignificant role during the previous elections with apart from adding fuel to confrontations. Prof. Beyene further said :“Surprisingly, I have never seen the ones who have come as observers including the European Union election observers effectively discharging their responsibilities during the last elections, instead they had acted as tourists coming for refreshment leaving the main agenda aside.”

He, moreover , said that their absence rather helps Ethiopians run the election exploiting internal capacity. Besides, their attempt to use their own communication and their interest to declare the election result before the board makes it public clearly undermines the legitimacy of our institutions thereby compromising the sovereignty of the country. A Politician and Geopolitics Scholar, Tigistu Awolu on his part said the European Union’s (EU) unusual approach to use new communication equipment and their request to make election results public first is absolutely unacceptable.

“Earlier, the government invited EU to act as per national laws to observe election process and they accepted the invitation to observe the election, whereas the present cancelation is strange as it requested to operate its own communication equipment. This shows their political bias.” He further said that so long as observing the election process requires physical observation coupled with equipment support, their cancelation may force anyone to question their independent stance in due course of running the election.

“The government will lose nothing as a result of the cancelation of EU observers as the decisive role is played by Ethiopian citizens in holding free, fair and democratic election. Observers have no legal ground to primarily announce the election in the first place.” Observers have to observe the election process according to the country’s law, but their intention indicates that EU observers are not interested in observing the election process due to their biased political stance not because of taking communication equipment, he said.

Even if the government allows them to use the equipment to announce the election results, it will not be legal apart from totally undermining nation’s sovereignty. It is to be recalled that the Government says it is committed to make the upcoming general elections free, fair, and democratic and is determined to continue working with all stakeholders to make it so.

Though external observers could add some value to strengthen the quality of electoral processes, they are neither essential nor necessary to certify the credibility of an election. The validity and legitimacy of Ethiopia’s election is determined solely by Ethiopian laws, Ethiopian institutions, and ultimately, by the people of Ethiopia, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia.

BY MULATU BELACHEW

The Ethiopian Herald May 8/2021

Ethiopia, World Bank Seal 200 Million USD Loan Agreement

May 9, 2021 

ADDIS ABABA—Ethiopia and World Bank signed 200 million USD loan agreements to support the implementation of Digital Foundation project. As to the information obtained from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation, the country signed a Financing Agreement to support the projects which will be implemented from April 2021 to October 2026.

During the signing ceremony Ahmed Shide, Minister of Finance and Economic Cooperation said that the financing of this project will directly contribute to Ethiopia’s digitization strategy, which pursues an inclusive digital economy approach that will catalyze Ethiopia’s broader development vision set out in the Ten-Year Perspective Plan for Prosperity.

He underscored that the project will also contribute to the job creation strategy through achieving inclusive digital economic plan of the country. He underscored that the project will serve to create mass job opportunity through supporting information technology and Telecommunication sectors and enhancing the participation of private enterprises on digital foundation.

As to him, the loan will be used for three purposes to implement the project: first, to strengthen the analog foundations of the digital economy, particularly policy-making, effective regulation for the telecommunications sector, and the development of digital entrepreneurship.

The second is the development of the capacity of the Government to deliver digital services through connecting targeted public institutions and educational institutions to a broadband network. The third is for nurturing digital entrepreneurship and incentivizes digital businesses to train, provide digital devices, and mobilize Ethiopians to participate in the digital economy thereby generating income and securing jobs.

BY TAMERU REGASA

The Ethiopian Herald May 9/2021

“EU Used to Observe Sham Elections in Ethiopia”: Andargachew Tsige

May 9, 2021 

ADDIS ABABA— The European Union (EU) used to deploy election observation delegations during the EPDRF sham elections thus its recent cancellation of sending election observers to the 6th General Elections is a mockery to democracy, veteran politician and ESAT media Manager Andargachew Tsige said.

Andargachew told the Ethiopian Press Agency that Ethiopia is now ready to hold credible elections in its entire history, but the block decided not to send observers because it feared that a government which would be disobedient and in-submissive to EU countries may assume power.

The EU has been sending observers to monitor the previous elections since it was offered the opportunity to insert their evil wills through the aids, they have been providing through their fake aid organizations, he recalled adding: “Now, however, they have decided to withdraw their observations, fearing that a government that will not listen to them and will not bow to their interests will come.”

“They have never worried for the enhancement of democratic elections in Ethiopia,” he pointed out reminding that the five previous elections were undemocratic and fictitious. “Hadn’t the nation had a free media and an impartial election board, they would not have been able to observe the Ethiopian democratic process,” he said.

Instead, Andargachew pointed out that it gave them the freedom to interfere in Ethiopia’s internal affairs. “But now the main reason why the member states are refusing to observe the election is that they have understood that there is no more room for them to interfere in the internal affairs.”

The politician further reasoned out that EU’s refusal to election observation is that the member states want to hide their main agenda and blame the Ethiopian government because their main goal is to bring the buried TPLF to the negotiation table and share power.

“Their desire is to bring a body that doesn’t want to compete in a democratic and peaceful manner, weaken the unity of the people, create chaos and violence, and establish a weak government,” he underscored.

BY DIRRIBA TESHOME

The Ethiopian Herald May 9/2021

EU’s Decision Undermines Ethiopia Sovereignty, Violates Principle: Scholar

May 9, 2021

ADDIS ABABA – European Union’s (EU) attempt to delegitimize Ethiopian parliamentary election undermines the sovereignty of the country and it is also against the block’s Code of Conduct, according to a renowned scholar. The scholar Professor Al Mariam G. Mariam told local media that the EU’s demand to deploy VSAT technologies and its demand to issue a statement on the election results prior to the Electoral Board violates of Ethiopian laws and its own Code of Conduct.

As to him, the block has made an unacceptable attempt to pressure the Ethiopian government to compromise its sovereignty, independence and right to self-determination. Al Mariam forwarded that the EU’s decision to cancel sending of its election observation mission to Ethiopia is a conspiracy game to delegitimize the election.

Also, the EU’s request to install its own VSAT aims to spread disinformation about the election or deliver the equipment to terrorists in Tigray to destabilize Ethiopia. The EU’s ambition to issue a preliminary statement on the result of the election is a desperate need to be the sole source of reliable election information and shape public opinion, he added.

“EU’s stand showcases its post-colonial ambition to dominate Africa and the black through fabricated pseudo- democracy to manipulate a democracy of African people, by African people.” The EU notion stating that Ethiopian elections cannot possibly be free and fair unless the EU observes is superficial, the scholar stressed.

BY GETAHUN LEGESSE

The Ethiopian Herald May 9/2021

EU to Deploy Election Observer Experts: Spokesperson

May 9, 2021 

ADDIS ABABA-The European Union (EU) announced that it is desirous of deploying experts to attend and observe the forthcoming 6th Ethiopian general  elections, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia (MoFA) Spokesperson Ambassador Dina Mufti said.

During his press briefing with the international media yesterday , Amb. Dina said that the EU had previously canceled plans to deploy elections observers’ delegation, but now it expressed its preparations to send election observer experts.

“The elections observation process will  be carried out in accordance with the preconditions set by Ethiopia,” he said. As to a statement from the Spokesperson’s Office, the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) preparations to conduct the election are in full swing. “Numerous local and international institutions have finalized their preparations to observe the elections,” he stated.

BY TEWODROS KASSA

The Ethiopian Herald May 9/2021

Saturday, May 08, 2021

Teach Young Generation History Says Zimbabwe President

08 MAY, 2021 - 00:05 

President Mnangagwa launches a book titled “Herbert Chitepo: The Life and Legacy of Zimbabwe First Black Advocate and Patriotic Fighter”, while Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister Kirsty Coventry looks on, at National Arts Gallery, yesterday. Pictures: Tawanda Mudimu.

Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter for the Herald

President Mnangagwa yesterday implored the country to teach the younger generation about the country’s liberation war history to enable them to appreciate and value its significance.

The President said this while officiating at the joint launch of the “Exhibitions: Zimbabwe @41” and the biography for the late former Zanu Chairman Cde Herbert Chitepo at the National Art Gallery yesterday.

The biography is titled “Herbert W. Chitepo: The Life and Legacy of Zimbabwe’s First Black Advocate and Patriotic Freedom Fighter” and was written by Elias Chipadze Machemedze.

The launch was part of Zimbabwe’s 41st Independence Day celebrations.

“This book brings to the fore our national liberation war heritage and memory, which as a nation, we should always tell our children and generations to come,” he said.

“This will not only mould our children but also make them appreciate and value our liberation war history. This is therefore, a critical process that will consciously help our youth to forge into the future, yet at the same time, remain grounded on who we are as Zimbabweans.”

President Mnangagwa said the late national hero brought an awakening on what it meant to be an African and as the first African Director of Prosecutions in Tanganyika (now Tanzania), was instrumental in the establishment of law towards black emancipation.

He said this helped in strengthening solidarity among liberation movements.

“Cde Chitepo’s death, which was a sad moment that slowed the momentum of the liberation struggle, became a unifying and rallying point for comrades and nationalists,” he said.

The President said Zimbabwe should get inspiration in fighting imperial and neo-colonial machinations.

“As we celebrate today, there is still a body of work that needs to be researched, collected and be told through literal and audio visual work.

“I encourage the academia and youth to take up this challenge and fill the gap as we seek to collectively build a broader catalogue of literature for the African Liberation War History Museum,” said President Mnangagwa.

On the exhibition, the President applauded the creative and cultural sector for capturing and detailing the various facets of the country’s history, culture and heritage.

“The artistic depiction of aspects of our protracted liberation struggle, the peace, the unity and development that came out of it, are indeed moving and fascinating,” he said.

He said the sacrifices made by the liberation war fighters brought independence and freedom and equal opportunities.

The Second Republic, he said, was committed to protecting the freedom and ensuring the growth of the creative industry.

President Mnangagwa added that it was through the arts industry that Zimbabwe could tell its story from its own and African perspective.

“Looking ahead, I challenge the creative cultural industries to be the theatre for harnessing the country’s potential towards the achievement of key national priorities and aspirations as outlined in National Development Strategy I and Vision 2030,” said President Mnangagwa.

He implored the arts sector to promote peace and unity through their work and not be used as a tool to denigrate the nation’s culture and its aspirations.

The President pledged Government’s support for the National Art Gallery of Zimbabwe’s participation at the Venice Biennale 2022 to be held in Venice, Italy.

The 59th Venice Biennale International Contemporary Art Exhibition will be held between April and November 2022.

Author of Cde Chitepo’s biography, Mr Machemedze, said he was inspired to write the book by the contribution of the late national hero of the country’s independence.

He urged young people to take a keen interest in Zimbabwe’s history.

ALGERIA REMEMBERS MASS KILLINGS UNDER FRENCH RULE

Pro-independence protests broke out after a rally on May 8, 1945 marking the allied victory over Nazi Germany.

Algerians shout slogans during an anti-government demonstration in the capital Algiers on May 7, 2021. Picture: Ryad Kramdi / AFP.

AFP 

ALGIERS - Algeria on Saturday honoured thousands killed by French forces in 1945, as the North African country waits for Paris to apologise for its colonial-era crimes.

Pro-independence protests broke out after a rally on May 8, 1945 marking the allied victory over Nazi Germany.

The rioting triggered two weeks of bloody repression in which French troops massacred thousands of mostly unarmed Muslim civilians, a key chapter in Algeria's long independence struggle.

On Saturday, thousands of people took part in a march of remembrance following the same route through the northeastern city of Setif as the May 8 rally 76 years ago, official media reported.

Led by scouts, participants laid a wreath at a monument to Bouzid Saal, a 22-year-old man shot dead by a French policeman in 1945 for refusing to lower his Algerian flag -- the first casualty of the violence.

The crackdown led by French General Raymond Duval left as many as 45,000 dead, according to Algerian official figures.

French historians put the toll at up to 20,000, including 86 European civilians and 16 soldiers killed in revenge attacks.

The killings had a transformative impact on the nascent anti-colonial movement, setting the scene for a full-blown independence war nine years later that finally led to independence in 1962.

Algerian officials have continued to call for a full apology from France for its colonial-era policies, and President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has described the 1945 killings as "crimes against humanity".

Government spokesman Ammar Belhimer repeated that demand on Saturday, calling for "the official, definitive and comprehensive recognition by France of its crimes (along with) repentance and fair compensation".

He also called for help dealing with the toxic waste left behind by 17 nuclear tests France carried out in the Algerian desert in the 1960s.

FORTNIGHT OF RETRIBUTION

The summer of 1945 saw French forces carry out a 15-day campaign of violence around Setif, 300 kilometres (190 miles) east of Algiers.

French authorities, which had occupied and colonised the North African country since 1830, imposed martial law and indiscriminately massacred women, children and the elderly.

Nationalist leaders were detained on pure suspicion, and villages suspected of harbouring separatists were strafed by the air force and set ablaze.

Some 44 villages were destroyed.

Executions continued until November 1945, and some 4,000 people were arrested.

"I have secured you peace for 10 years," General Duval warned the colonial government in a letter.

"If France does nothing, it will all happen again, only next time it will be worse and may well be irreparable."

'STILL SENSITIVE, DECADES ON'

Setif remains a highly sensitive episode for Algerians as well as for some in France.

Paris only officially recognised the killings in 2005 when the French ambassador in Algiers called the massacres "an inexcusable tragedy".

France has since made moves to recognise other crimes committed during its 132-year occupation of Algeria.

In March, President Emmanuel Macron admitted "in the name of France" that lawyer and independence figure Ali Boumendjel had been detained, tortured and killed by French forces who then covered up his death as a suicide.

Last year, Macron tasked French historian Benjamin Stora to assess how France has dealt with its colonial legacy, and urged officials to accelerate the opening of French archives on the Algerian war.

Released in January, the Stora report made several recommendations, including the creation of a "memory and truth commission" to hear testimony from those who suffered during the war.

It did not, however, suggest a formal state apology.

Macron has offered neither "repentance nor apologies" but rather "symbolic acts" of reconciliation.

Algeria did however welcome Macron's admission of French responsibility for Boumendjel's death.

Pentagon General Says China’s Africa Outreach Poses Threat from Atlantic

By LOLITA C. BALDOR

May 6, 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 8, 2017, file photo, then-Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend talks with an Iraqi officer during a tour north of Baghdad, Iraq. Townsen, now a general, says a growing military threat from China may well come from America’s east, as Beijing looks to establish a large navy port capable of hosting submarines or aircraft carriers on the Atlantic coast of Africa.(AP Photo/ Ali Abdul Hassan, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The top U.S general for Africa is warning that a growing threat from China may come not just from the waters of the Pacific but from the Atlantic as well.

U.S. Gen. Stephen Townsend, in an interview with The Associated Press, said Beijing is looking to establish a large navy port capable of hosting submarines or aircraft carriers on Africa’s western coast. Townsend said China has approached countries stretching from Mauritania to south of Namibia, intent on establishing a naval facility. If realized, that prospect would enable China to base warships in its expanding Navy in the Atlantic as well as Pacific oceans.

“They’re looking for a place where they can rearm and repair warships. That becomes militarily useful in conflict,” said Townsend, who heads U.S. Africa Command. “They’re a long way toward establishing that in Djibouti. Now they’re casting their gaze to the Atlantic coast and wanting to get such a base there.”

Townsend’s warnings come as the Pentagon shifts its focus from the counterterrorism wars of the last two decades to the Indo-Pacific region and threats from great power adversaries like China and Russia. The Biden administration views China’s rapidly expanding economic influence and military might as America’s primary long-term security challenge.

U.S. military commanders around the globe, including several who may lose troops and resources to bolster growth in the Pacific, caution that China’s growing assertiveness isn’t simply happening in Asia. And they argue that Beijing is aggressively asserting economic influence over countries in Africa, South America and the Middle East, and is pursuing bases and footholds there.

“The Chinese are outmaneuvering the U.S. in select countries in Africa,” said Townsend. “Port projects, economic endeavors, infrastructure and their agreements and contracts will lead to greater access in the future. They are hedging their bets and making big bets on Africa.”

China’s first overseas naval base was built years ago in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa and it is steadily increasing its capacity. Townsend said as many as 2,000 military personnel are at the base, including hundreds of Marines who handle security there.

“They have arms and munitions for sure. They have armored combat vehicles. We think they will soon be basing helicopters there to potentially include attack helicopters,” said Townsend.

For some time, many have thought that China was working to establish a Navy base in Tanzania, a country on Africa’s eastern coast, that has had a strong, longstanding military relationship with Beijing. But Townsend said it appears there’s been no decision on that yet.

He said that while China has been trying hard to get a base in Tanzania, it’s not the location he’s most concern about.

“It’s on the Indian Ocean side,” he said. “I want it to be in Tanzania instead of on the Atlantic coast. The Atlantic coast concerns me greatly,” he said, pointing to the relatively shorter distance from Africa’s west coast to the U.S. In nautical miles, a base on Africa’s northern Atlantic coast could be substantially closer to the U.S. than military facilities in China are to America’s western coast.

More specifically, other U.S. officials say the Chinese have been eyeing locations for a port in the Gulf of Guinea.

The Defense Department’s 2020 report on China’s military power, said China has likely considered adding military facilities to support its naval, air and ground forces in Angola, among other locations. And it noted that the large amount of oil and liquefied natural gas imported from Africa and the Middle East, make those regions a high priority for China over the next 15 years.

Henry Tugendhat, a senior policy analyst with the United States Institute of Peace, said China has a lot of economic interests on Africa’s west coast, including fishing and oil. China also has helped finance and build a large commercial port in Cameroon.

He said that any effort by Beijing to get a naval port on the Atlantic coast would be an expansion of China’s military presence. But the desire for ocean access, he said, may be primarily for economic gain, rather than military capabilities.

Townsend and other regional military commanders laid out their concerns about China during recent congressional hearings. He, along with Adm. Craig Faller, head of U.S. Southern Command, and Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, are battling to retain their military forces, aircraft and surveillance assets as the Pentagon continues to review the shift to great power competition.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is conducting a global posture review to determine if America’s military might is positioned where it needs to be, and in the right numbers, around the world to best maintain global dominance. That review is expected to be finished in late summer.

Libyan Militias Briefly Take over Tripoli Government Headquarters

By SAMY MAGDY

CAIRO (AP) — In a show of force, armed militiamen briefly took over a hotel in the Libyan capital of Tripoli that serves as headquarters for the interim government, officials said Saturday.

Friday’s development came after the three-member presidential council earlier this week appointed a new chief of the intelligence agency, Libya’s version of the CIA. The militias, which control Tripoli, were apparently unhappy with the choice of Hussein Khalifa as the new spy chief.

Presidential council spokeswoman Najwa Wheba said no one was hurt in the takeover of Hotel Corinthia, in the heart of Tripoli. The hotel was mostly empty on Friday, the Muslim weekend.

After a while, the militias left the hotel, according to an official at the Interior Ministry who spoke on condition of anonymity under regulations. Khalifa and the militia leaders were not immediately available for comment on Saturday.

The takeover underscored the tough road ahead for the interim government, which has been tasked with steering Libya through general elections due at the end of the year. The government has struggled to unite the conflict-stricken nation ahead of the vote.

Wheba said the presidential council has no permanent headquarters and that the hotel is one of the places where the council convenes. Videos circulating on social media show militiamen at the entrance of the hotel.

On Monday, Najla al-Manqoush, the foreign minister of Libya’s interim government called for the departure of all foreign forces and mercenaries, including Turkish troops, from the oil-rich North African country. That was seen as a rebuke to Turkey and angered pro-Turkey factions in western Libya.

U.N. Security Council diplomats say there are more than 20,000 foreign fighters and mercenaries in Libya, including Syrians, Sudanese, Chadians and Russians.

Libya was plunged into chaos when a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 toppled longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi, who was later killed. The oil-rich country was in recent years split between rival east- and west-based administrations, each backed by different armed groups and foreign governments.

Díaz-Canel Holds Telephone Conversation With Xi Jinping

Comrade Xi Jinping congratulated his Cuban counterpart on his election as First Secretary of the Party Central Committee; recognized the historical contributions of Army General Raúl Castro Ruz; and noted Cuba's progress in the construction of socialism, while reiterating the high importance and priority afforded by China to further developing the countries’ bilateral relations

Author: Granma | internet@granma.cu

May 7, 2021 09:05:31

Photo: Estudios Revolución

The First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee and President of the Republic, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, held a cordial, fruitful telephone conversation, Thursday morning, with the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and President of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping, to whom he reported the results of the 8th Party Congress and goals set to fulfill the resolutions adopted.

For his part, comrade Xi Jinping congratulated his Cuban counterpart on his election as First Secretary of the Party Central Committee; recognized the historical contributions of Army General Raúl Castro Ruz; and noted Cuba's progress in the construction of socialism, while reiterating the high importance and priority afforded by China to further developing the countries’ bilateral relations.

Both leaders referred to the momentous celebration of the Chinese Communist Party’s centennial, this coming July 1, and reaffirmed the interest in continuing to strengthen the close ties of friendship and cooperation between the two peoples, parties and governments, based on deep historical roots and mutual political confidence, which has been nurtured by the valuable legacies of several generations.

Also present on the Chinese side were Wang Huning, member of the Political Bureau Standing Committee and Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee; Ding Xuexiang, of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau and Secretariat member and director of the CPC Central Committee’s General Office; Yang Jiechi, Political Bureau member and director of the CPC Central Committee Foreign Affairs Commission’s office; Wang Yi, Central Committee member, State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs; Song Tao, Central Committee member and head of its International Liaison Department; Shen Beili, deputy director of the CPC Central Committee International Liaison Department; and Xie Feng, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba was accompanied by Roberto Morales Ojeda, Political Bureau member of the and Secretary for Organization and Cadre Policy; Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Political Bureau member and Minister of Foreign Affairs; Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz, Deputy Prime Minister; Ángel Arzuaga Reyes, Coordinator of the PCC Central Committee’s Department of International Relations; and Alberto Blanco Silva, director for Asia and Oceania at the Foreign Ministry.

The Most Revolutionary Within the Revolution

Several concepts emphasized at the 8th Party Congress, key to the construction of socialism in Cuba, were reiterated in remarks by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, and Party First Secretary Miguel Díaz-Canel

Author: Ronald Suárez Rivas | internet@granma.cu

May 7, 2021 15:05:24

Photo: Estudios Revolución

The 8th Party Congress continues to move Cuban society, confirming that the momentous meeting of Communists did not end with the closing speech delivered by the First Secretary and President of the Republic, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, but rather entered another stage.

In workplaces and neighborhoods, during all kinds of daily activity, Cubans are exchanging opinions on the most significant statements made and the documents approved.

After four memorable days, at a crucial moment for the homeland, the 8th Congress continues in the streets and every place where this gigantic work that is the Revolution is present. This is its greatest success, as well as the certainty that it is worth defending socialism, the answer to the pressing need for a more just, equitable and inclusive world, as Díaz-Canel himself said.

Several concepts emphasized at the event remain key elements to be implemented on the practical order, in order to deepen and accelerate the construction of socialism. These critical guiding principles were reiterated in both the Central Report, presented by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, and the closing speech by the current Party First Secretary.

Truth

“The basic premise, also a legacy of the Comandante en jefe, is to never lie or violate ethical principles. The solid authority of the Party rests on these values, and our militants will always be called upon to tell and consider the truth, no matter how hard it may be or appear to be.”

“We, cadres of the Revolution, have been educated in this principle. And all members are always called upon to wield the truth as our first combat weapon.”

Unity

“This history can be summarized in two words: the people and unity, which is to say, the Party. Because the Communist Party of Cuba, which has never been an electoral party, was not born of a split. It was born from the unity of all political forces with profoundly humanist ideals that had been shaped in the struggle to transform an unequal, unjust country, dependent on a foreign power and under the yoke of a bloody military dictatorship.”

“Unity must prevail without ever forgetting that we must see the forest as well as the trees. The collective and the individuals are not the same, even if although when united they are perceived as such. Preserving the legitimacy needed to ensure that the project continues to advance is based on the deep knowledge of its singularities.”

Democracy

“The unity of the immense majority of Cubans around the Party, and the work and ideals of the Revolution, has been our fundamental strategic weapon in successfully confronting all kinds of threats and aggression. This is why our unity must be zealously protected and division among revolutionaries under false pretexts of greater democracy never accepted, because that would be the first step in destroying, from within, the Revolution, socialism and consequently our national independence, and falling once again under the domination of U.S. imperialism.”

“Given our nature as a single party, will always have the challenge of being increasingly more democratic, more attractive, closer to the people as a whole and not only in our immediate environments.”

“Success in these efforts depends on our ability to dialogue with the population, to enthuse and involve all citizens and to rebuild values that give greater meaning and importance to social commitment. Conscious that democracy is more socialist to the extent that it is more participatory, it is up to us to stimulate popular participation, creating spaces and procedures to address, evaluate and implement the demands and proposals that make it effective.”

Participation

“Now, if we have only one party, we must promote, internally and within our society in general, the broadest democracy and the permanent, sincere and profound exchange of opinions, not always agreeing; strengthening ties with the working masses and the population, and ensure the growing participation of citizens in making fundamental decisions.”

“The Party reiterates that we are not satisfied with maintaining the country's potential strength at a survival level. On the contrary, we aspire to resist creatively, without renouncing our development projects, perfecting them, updating their concepts, modernizing ways of doing and participating.”

Values

“It is our obligation to be standard bearers in the fight against corruption, dishonest ways of acting, abuse of power, favoritism and double standards.”

“Our conduct at work, before society, in the family and our circles of friends must be coherent with the values we defend.”

On the basis of this Party practice, we must devote ourselves to advancing the re-ordering, the recovery, the consideration and strengthening of the ethical and moral values that have brought us this far, undoubtedly hard hit over the last decades by the adversities and successive periods of difficult circumstances.

Work

“Our economic model, which does not provide sufficient incentives for work or innovation, continues to present structural problems.”

“The Reordering Task… will allow us, as its name indicates, to order and make transparent the performance of different economic actors and encourage love for work as a means of earning a living and giving meaning to life for citizens.”

“The harmful notion, which arose under the auspices of paternalism and egalitarianism, that Cuba is the only country where it is possible to live without working, must be banished. Cubans' standard of living and consumption should be determined by the legal income they earn and not by excessive subsidies and undue gratuities.”

Learning

“Learning in the arena of politics and ideology concerns all forces participating in a social process. What is unforgivable is not that mistakes were made previously or are being made right now. What is unforgivable is not correcting them.”

“In an authentic Revolution, victory lies in learning. We are not taking a proven route. We are challenged to constantly innovate, changing everything that needs to be changed, without renouncing our dearest principles. Without ever departing from the concept of Revolution bequeathed to us by the undefeated leader of this epic feat, but free from rigid ideas and aware of the possible mistakes involved in clearing the path as we go.”

Socialism

“Socialism is… the real possibility of designing with intelligence and sensitivity a space where everyone belongs, not only those who have the resources. It is directed, like no other system, to concretizing Marti's call to conquer all justice.”

The Revolution has given meaning to terms which we must not abandon in our desire to confront and transform the context: let us defend elegance, prestige, joy, decency, rights, efficiency, quality, culture of detail, beauty, virtue, honor, dignity and truth in everything we propose and do.

The Communist Party of Cuba will continue in the recognition and defense of our essences: independence, sovereignty, socialist democracy, peace, economic efficiency, security and the conquests of social justice: Socialism!

Setting an example

The moral authority of the only party that guarantees and represents the unity of the nation, emanates precisely from the exemplary fulfillment of our duty and adherence to Constitutional postulates, as well as our high ethical, political and ideological standards and close ties with the masses.

The Party, as the organization that groups the revolutionary vanguard, has the honorable mission of being the worthy heir of the confidence placed by the people in the Revolution’s founding leader, Comandante en jefe Fidel Castro Ruz.

An element indispensible to maintaining the Party’s forging of this unity is the exemplarity of its members, which demands from all militants a public attitude that, based on their capacity, dedication, and accomplishments, is one of admiration and respect, among an acutely perceptive people, capable of recognizing at a distance any fake commitment or double standards.

“The most revolutionary within the Revolution is and must always be the Party, just as the Party must be the force that revolutionizes the Revolution.”

Youth

“Generational continuity is a fundamental part of this unity. It is necessary to speak and share achievements with our young people as the most important people they are; distinguish them as protagonists of the transformations underway. In them lies the strength, the disposition and decision, the sincerity needed in any undertaking or revolutionary contribution that the situation demands. During the pandemic’s worse moments, they have demonstrated this with courage and responsibility.”

Cuba's 4x400 Women’s Team Wins World Championship

With their victory, the Cuban team was able to increase to 48 athletes the country's Olympic delegation to Tokyo-2020

Author: Sports news staff | informacion@granmai.cu

May 7, 2021 15:05:11

With a time of 3:28.41 minutes the Cuban women won the most important medal of their sporting careers. Photo: Granma

Party Central Committee First Secretary and President of the Republic, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, tweeted his congratulations to Cuba’s female 4x400 meter quartet, who won the World Athletics Relay Championship, May 2, in Poland.

“Cuban women continue making history,” he wrote, “The 4×400 female relay team has won the gold medal at the World Championship held in Poland: an unprecedented event. Zurian Hechavarría, Rose Mary Almanza, Lisneidy Veitía and Roxana Gómez inspire us to dream big for the Tokyo Olympics.”

The women's 4x400-meter relay quartet achieved the best result in the last 20 years for Cuba in this specialty, when they took top honors at the World Relay Championship, held in the Polish city of Chorzow.

With a time of 3:28.41 minutes they won the most important medal of their sporting careers. In the semifinals, the Cuban team had given their rivals a strong signal, with a time of 3:27.90 for their four laps around the track, which won them a ticket to participate in the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Although the United States and Jamaica did not attend this competition, the result is impressive, since the Cuban women bested the well-respected teams from Poland, champions two years ago in the Japanese city of Yokohama, and Great Britain, fourth in the 2019 World Championship race in Qatar.

Poland's team with a time of 3:28.81 minutes and Great Britain (3:29.27) came in second and third place, respectively. The Netherlands was fourth with a time of 3:30.12 minutes.

With their victory, the Cuban team was able to increase to 48 athletes the country's Olympic delegation to Tokyo-2020, including 17 competing in athletics, 12 in wrestling, five in shooting and the same number in canoeing, with two each qualified for the pentathlon, table tennis and artistic gymnastics, as well as one representative in taekwondo, cycling and rowing.

Cuba Grateful for Intellectuals’ Position Denouncing the Blockade

Party First Secretary and President of the Republic, Miguel Díaz-Canel tweeted his thanks to the In Defense of Humanity Network for its message demanding an end to the U.S. blockade of Cuba

Author: Milagros Pichardo Pérez | internet@granma.cu

May 6, 2021 09:05:38

Photo: TELESUR

“Thanks to intellectuals of the entire world who add prestige with their signatures to our long, determined struggle against the blockade. The redh, founded during other threatening days for Cuba, understands very well the seriousness of the siege the empire has imposed on us.”

With these words, the first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee and President of the Republic, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez tweeted his gratitude to members of the In Defense of Humanity Network (redh) who signed a message demanding an end to the U.S. economic, commercial and financial blockade of Cuba.

Released on May Day, the communiqué appealed to lovers of peace, justice and international law to denounce the unprecedented aggressiveness of the blockade in place for over 60 years.

Included among the signatories are former Presidents Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, José (Pepe) Mujica, Evo Morales Ayma and Fernando Lugo Méndez; well-respected figures like Noam Chomsky, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Elena Poniatowska, Danny Glover, Ignacio Ramonet, Adán Chávez Frías, David Choquehuanca, Hebe De Bonafini, Frei Betto, Atilio A. Borón and Stella Calloni, as well as organizations and institutions adding their voices in opposition to the cruel policy, reinforced by the Trump administration with more than 240 additional measures, despite the hardships posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The text describes the blockade as genocidal and a crime against humanity, according to the Geneva Convention of 1948 and the Rome ruling of the International Criminal Court, emphasizing its economic and social impact on the Cuban people and calling on all to fulfill their ethical duty to denounce this injustice and demand that the principles of peace, international law, multilateralism, and mutual respect prevail, as the only way to guarantee the survival of the human species on the planet.

The Prodigal Son, the Godmother... and the Latest Farce Against Cuba

Fake hunger striker Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara sought attention at Calixto García University Hospital, where he was examined and no signs of malnutrition were found

Author: José LLamos Camejo | informacion@granmai.cu

May 7, 2021 14:05:26

Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara was received at Calixto García University Hospital’s Emergency Center, after arriving in public health transport, conscious and walking without difficulty. Photo: Screenshot

The innocent glance turned to one of surprise, just like the tone of the response: "Elementary school classes at this time of day! The comment, however, is not attributable to the ten years of age of the person speaking.

The reaction of any adult not carefully watching the TV would be similar to Maria Carla's, when he or she heard the amplified voice offering the “elementary” explanation: "Look, here’s something important, when you count one, two, three, with your fingers, you start."

This is the level of detail of the instructions that salaried puppets in Cuba receive from abroad, on how to create or simulate disorder and chaos in our country, and thus give credence to the unsubstantiated slanders, with which they attempt to justify all variety of aggressions.

The "teacher" who María Carla heard on Cuban television’s Nightly News was none other than Karla Velázquez, a Venezuelan resident in Mexico, expert in projects and head of the Cuba Program for the National Democratic Institute (NDI).

The NDI is a non-governmental agency in the United States that finances groups of individuals to carry out subversive, destabilization plans in progressive countries, which has lately been focusing its attention, in particular, on Cuba and Nicaragua.

The voice of the aforementioned person was broadcast on television as (another) piece of evidence regarding what and who are behind the San Isidro comedians disguised as political dissidents.

It turns out that in the broadcast "class," Ms. Karla Velázquez had on the Cuban end of the phone line a crony of the "artist" Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, her "godson," expert in mounting farces, and she was giving him detailed directions which he was to convey to Otero, in the name of "La madrina, because that’s what he calls me, too, and the police don’t know it."

Before giving the orders, she offered a brief conceptual brushstroke, taken from the U.S. Army manual on unconventional warfare, outlining how and why a hunger strike is conducted, plus how to film it with cell phones, and reminded her puppet - I mean, her godson, subordinate – of an important detail: "I direct you."

Her exact words were: "The first thing is that a hunger strike has demands, it’s a method that can be successful if one does it well. To do it well you need to have some demands; the first one should be the easiest to meet, so that you don't die of hunger, because you don't want to die. So the three demands I’ll send in writing to Afrik (Africa Reina on social media, the counterrevolutionary named Yenicelis Borroto Vega), so you can tell him."

The material and arguments presented to Cuban television viewers by journalist Humberto López include other images and audio recordings, which leave no doubt, if anyone has any, about the anti-Cuban scheme, which is not unknown or new, but continues, from one failure to the next.

Otero Alcantara is far from being the artist he pretends to be. Art, regardless of ideology, is respectful and authentic, and it is art; elements that this character's work lacks.

He starred in one of his most offensive, grotesque "performances," shamelessly desecrating our flag. This is not the only obscenity in public places of which, in the name of art, he has been the author.

At the end of November, in the company of others of his stripe, he simulated a first "hunger strike," which was almost immediately exposed, since his food bills came to light through the online shopping app TuEnvío.

In his latest "strike," which began at the end of April, following instructions from "The Godmother," Otero Alcántara has enjoyed the backing of the always-ready private media, at the service of the Cuban Revolution’s enemies.

With respect to the most recent chapter in the farce, Cuban television reported that on April 30, a small group of ten delinquent provocateurs, disguised as dissidents, put on another show, this time on Obispo Street in Havana.

The report indicated that the thugs, with a view toward gaining media visibility, chose a crowded site, a line outside a store. They planned to march to Otero Alcantara's home, although this was not their real interest, which was to please their mentors and receive a miserly monetary reward. Step by step, they are following in detail the U.S. Army’s 2019 unconventional warfare manual, as outlined as Action 29 in that document, referring to symbolic acts, and number 166 which proposes blending in with the public to create confusion.

The ringleader of this last provocation, Esteban Rodriguez Lopez, who is unemployed and lives in Old Havana, has a "brilliant career" as a criminal. His relationship with antisocial elements is well known; he has been convicted of illicit economic activity, reception of stolen property, theft, misappropriation, robbery with violence, assault, disturbing the public order, and resisting arrest, among other crimes.

Also presented on Cuban television was the audio of an individual of Cuban origin resident in the U.S. state of Texas, reporting that he was collecting money to send it to his people in Cuba, explaining that Esteban had already received dollars, and that people over there were collaborating with him, here.

Nonetheless, how different is the Cuba they attempt to sell, floating endless slanders and falsehoods, staged in theater performances, and the Cuba which, displaying the supreme humanity of its health system, does not discriminate against anyone who requires medical attention, as was the case at Havana’s Calixto Garcia hospital, on the morning of May 2, when one of the leaders of the so-called San Isidro Movement arrived: Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara, himself.

The information issued by health authorities speaks for itself.

The first report indicated that, in the dawn hours of May 2, 2021, the citizen Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara was received at General Calixto García University Hospital’s Emergency Center, after arriving in public health transport, conscious and walking without difficulty, where he cited voluntary starvation as the cause of his concern.

"Upon physical examination, no signs of malnutrition were found, with the presence of normal clinical and biochemical parameters,” the report stated, while noting “ As established by the medical care protocol for COVID-19, an antigen test was administered, with negative results, and a PCR test sample was taken, with results pending."

This first note concluded that, following his arrival at the institution, and during the entire process, he remained cooperative with the health personnel attending him; that his condition was stable, and established medical measures were being taken by a group of specialists. The message clarified that the patient was kept under observation due to the reasons that brought him to the institution.

A subsequent, more detailed communiqué was released after clinical laboratory tests had been completed, with citizen Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara exhibiting entirely normal parameters; clear evidence that the patient's condition was not indicative of starvation, revealing, on the contrary, that he was well nourished and hydrated:

-Hemoglobin 16.8

-Glycemia 5.6

-Uric acid 9.71

-Blood Ph 7.15

-Hematocrit 0.51

-Platelets 300

-Leukocytes 7.8, with normal range differential

-Erythro 5, with normal sedimentation and creatinine.

Do we need better arguments? The foundation of this counterrevolutionary set-up is declared false, given what can be seen with the naked eye and under the microscope. There is no credible argument to support the veracity of these plots, invented one after another. The godchild, the godmother and her godparents, have exposed themselves, once again, to ridicule.

These stagings, with good reason, generate strong comments - on the side of the sensible, of revolutionaries who do not believe the stories of these poor devils who sell their country at the price of any handout in dollars - like the punch delivered by communicator Omar Rafael García Lazo:

"There is no serious mercenary who has a different basic premise than the one prioritizing his own life. As a worker, of cynicism in this case, the mercenary’s salary is most important, not the cause, much less the ideas. Yesterday the ‘artist’ was dying on us. Today he walked into the hospital with no sign of malnutrition. This is why no one believes them... But the show must go on. The truth is not even secondary. Surely they will say that the "artist" was forced to go. Surely he is continuing his "strike" in the hospital, like that wasted character who no one remembers anymore, champion of the assisted hunger strike in hospitals, at the expense of the public treasury. What a contradiction.

"The most pathetic part of the sequence is not the "striker" in good health, or his cheerleaders on Obispo Street, the out-of-focus press, or the Yankees clamoring for their puppet. No. They are already just part of the landscape.

"The most pathetic thing is to see a few thinking Cubans wagering their intellect on the political outcome of a foretold farce. Spuriously raising: what about the dialogue, what about the causes of the phenomenon, the underlying racism, a collection of arguments and ideas to consider, what about the future and democracy... Everything now stuck in an old pot that can’t take the pressure no matter how many advisors add their two cents. Nothing that resembles our authentic ajiaco, will come out of it, simply because, money has never been, in the case of Cuba, a catalyst for change. Never in our history."

Díaz-Canel Holds Telephone Conversation with General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Nguyen Phu Trong

The Vietnamese party leader congratulated his Cuban counterpart on his recent election as First Secretary and recognized the revolutionary trajectory of Army General Raúl Castro Ruz and his contributions to the fraternal ties shared by Cuba and Vietnam

Author: Granma | internet@granma.cu

May 6, 2021 09:05:20

Photo: Estudios Revolución

First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee and President of the Republic, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, held a productive, fraternal telephone conversation on Wednesday morning with the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (VCP), Nguyen Phu Trong.

The Vietnamese party leader congratulated his Cuban counterpart on his recent election as First Secretary and recognized the revolutionary trajectory of Army General Raúl Castro Ruz and his contributions to the fraternal ties shared by Cuba and Vietnam.

Díaz-Canel reported on the results of the 8th Party Congress and thanked Vietnam for its support of Cuba’s struggle against the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the U.S. government on our people. The Cuban leader also wished the Communist Party of Vietnam success in implementing resolutions approved at its 13th Congress.

Both leaders reiterated the intention to continue strengthening the special relations of friendship and cooperation between their peoples, parties and governments, guided by the enduring legacy of Comandante en jefe Fidel Castro Ruz and legendary revolutionary Ho Chi Minh.

Accompanying the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam were comrades Truong Thi Mai, Political Bureau and Secretariat member heading the VCP Central Committee’s Organization Commission and President of the Vietnam-Cuba Friendship Association; To Lam, Political Bureau member and Minister of Public Security; Phan Van Giang, Political Bureau member and Minister of Defense; Le Minh Hung, member of the Secretariat of the VCP Central Committee and head of the Central Committee Office; Le Hoai Trung, Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam member and head of its Foreign Relations Commission; Le Khanh Hai, Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam member and head of the President's Office; Bui Thanh Son, Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam member and foreign minister; Nguyen Huy Tang, deputy head of the Foreign Relations Commission of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam; and Ho Mau Ngoat, assistant to the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam.

The First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba was accompanied by compañeros Roberto Morales Ojeda, Political Bureau member and Secretary for Organization and Cadre Policy; Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Political Bureau member and Minister of Foreign Affairs; Army Corps General Álvaro López Miera, Political Bureau member and Minister of Revolutionary Armed Forces; Major General Lázaro Alberto Álvarez Casas, Political Bureau member and Minister of the Interior; Ángel Arzuaga Reyes, Coordinator of Party Central Committee Department of International Relations; and Alberto Blanco Silva, the Foreign Ministry’s director for Asia and Oceania.

Friday, May 07, 2021

The Rise and Fall of Ethnic-Based Federalism and its Predicament for Humanity in Ethiopia

May 7, 2021

By  Chris Taylor, PhD

Read the entire article with citations at the following  PDF link: Ethiopia-The-Rise-and-Fall-of-Ethnic-Federalism.pdf (borkena.com)

Introduction  

The thinking and experimentation in social science can have huge, unrepairable and intergenerational human costs if not managed well. This is the case in Ethiopia, where political  entrepreneurs and ethnocentric nationalists have experimented and imposed a uniquely entrenched ethnic-based federalism in the country over the past three decades. These activities have made a significant impact, resulting in the production and reproduction of social  bankruptcy manifested in national disunity, lethargic development and human rights violations, including genocide in some parts of the country.  

This article examines the rise and fall of ethnic-based federalism in the Ethiopian state which  has over 83 ethnic groups with distinct languages, cultural practices and religious beliefs. It  presents the opportunities and challenges behind the imposition of the government’s organizing practice of constitutionally backing ethnic-based governing entities, using insider outsider views and taking into account testimonies and reports from several regions of the country.  

The article first begins by outlining the political and social contexts of Ethiopia since the cold  war and the imposition of the ethnic-federal government arrangement in 1991. This is followed  by an examination of the country’s political journey and key milestones from the lens of  national disunity, impoverishment, human rights violations and insecurity that the country has  been trapped with since the implementation of the ethnic-based federalism project. Finally, the article suggests possible solutions towards addressing the predicaments.  

The context 

Ethiopia, with around 108-million people (July 2020 est.), has the second-largest population in  Africa and is made up of over 83 ethnic groups, all with their own cultures, languages or  dialects. In terms of population size, the largest ethnic groups include: Oromo (34.4%), Amhara  (27%), Somali (6.2%), Tigray (6.1%), Sidama (4%), Gurage (2.5%), Welaita (2.3%), Hadiya (1.7%),  Afar (1.7%), Gamo (1.5%), Gedeo (1.3%), Silte (1.3%), Kefficho (1.2%) and other groups (8.8%). Unlike other African countries, state formation in Ethiopia was not the product of European  colonization. Instead, ‘modern’ Ethiopia has gone through centuries-long state formation,  which up until 1974 was ruled by a monarchical system. The Ethiopian Socialist Revolution erupted after a series of mass protests stirred by left-wing student movements and later joined  by people from all walks of life, including the military. This then led to the hijacking of political  power by the Derg, under Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam, who ruled the country until the  regime had become defunct in 1991. The downfall of the Ethiopian Socialist regime was  propelled internally by civil war and the armed struggle of rebel groups. This was advantageous  for international efforts to end the cold war, which remarkably did occur by the collapse of the  Soviet socialist block.  

The political landscape in 1991 was dominated by the TPLF8/EPRDF and OLF parties as well as some ethnically-organized groups, which created the force to form a transitional government  fully backed by the Western world. The TPLF/EPRDF was the chief architect of ethnic-based  federalism and remained dominant, ruling the country for 27 years until the party was removed  in March 2018. The current government, dubbed as being a modified extension of EPRDF-I by some political opponents, came to power under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed following  widespread protests and an internal leadership rift against the TPLF, a dominant member of a coalition of four parties called EPRDF. 

The past three years of the political arena have been marred with more ethnic clashes, crimes against humanity and genocide among Amhara and non-Amhara orthodox Christians. On the  other extreme, many Oromo nationalists, especially the Qeerroo, place blame on Abiy for  squandering the Oromo revolution on the other ethnic group, ‘the Amhara’, who ruled Ethiopia  for centuries. There are still others who mistrust Abiy because of his Oromo ancestry. Rival  political forces active in the Oromia Regional State have also formed a joint front to deny  support to Abyi’s party in the Oromia region.

Overall, these last three decades for Ethiopia have been a hard route under a government  structured by the remits of ethnic-based federalism. The country has been divided into ten  national regional states, grouping the dominant ethnic group(s) within ill-demarcated ethnic  and physical boundaries, and subsuming smaller nationalities or ethnic groups in their  settings. 

Every Nation, Nationality and People in Ethiopia has an unconditional right to self determination, including the right to secession, under Article 39.1 of the 1995 constitution of  the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The constitution thus accords official recognition  of Ethiopia’s ethnic communities, transforming them into political communities. This means  that the Ethiopian Constitution allows every ethnic group to form its own political state. These narratives accord the sovereignty of states in Ethiopia to what it generically refers to as Nations, Nationalities and Peoples, instead of to individual citizens who are born and live in the federation. Therefore, ethnic groups have the right to remain as a member of the ethnic based federalism or they can exercise their right to cession from the federal government  arrangement.  

Although these constitutional rights have been stipulated, there have not been official claims  for cession. This was partially due to the strategic move of the federal government to remain a  de facto one-party state, particularly during the dominant 27 years of the TPLF/EPRDF regime, in which ethnic organizations were mere satellites of one ethnic organization.

Nonetheless,  after the TPLF was removed from central power in 2018, Tigray had challenged the federal  government and even expressed their appetite to form a de facto state.  

Some political groups among the Oromo ethnic nationalists have also attempted to acquire  greater political power through securing control over key resources and decision-making roles  in critical political apparatuses of the federal government. Some argue that the new Prosperity  Party is internally controlled by its Oromia branch and this internal entity has continued to  replicate what its predecessor, the TPLF, had done against Amhara and other nationalities. That  is, to bring all other regional states under their satellite influence as they are the heirs of the  past ethnic political legacy. 

Abiy Ahmed’s Administration Claims it Foiled Plot to Disrupt Election

May 5, 2021

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s Security Task Force seems to see the movement for Addis Ababa as a “terrorist activity” 

Borkena

Ethiopia’s Intelligence, Security  and Anti-Terrorism Task Force on Wednesday said that it has foiled plots to disrupt the sixth general election which is scheduled for June five. 

A lengthy disclosure distributed through state-owned broadcasters as  “breaking news” made numerous claims  in connection with what it called plans to disrupt the election and establish a transitional government by force. 

It linked the plot to some Ethiopians based in the Diaspora and two army officers – one of them said to be dismissed from the Defense Force on alleged ethical grounds and the other one member of former defense force from colonel Mengistu era. 

Sergeant Yihune Jembere, dismissed member of the Ethiopian Defense force as described in the report by government media outlets, was allegedly “gathering information about the activities of key government officials,” through connections in the army – the statement claims. 

It also implicated Commander Mulugeta Tsige, vertan. The statement from the task force said he was coordinating with Sergent Yihune. They both were shuttling between Addis Ababa and Amhara region to recruit and train youth, the task force claimed. It was in the news that radical forces within the Oromia regional structure were stopping passenger vehicles between Gojjam and Addis Ababa. There were even killings of Isuzu drivers sometime last week.

Intelligence, Security  and Anti-Terrorism Task Force also linked the alleged terror plot to a facebook group with less than 2000 members advocating for the rights of residents in Addis Ababa. 

“Sile Addis Ababa Zim Anelem” (which translates to “We will never be silent about Addis Ababa”) is the group that is said to have a mission to groups in Addis Ababa allegedly operating clandestinely to disrupt the election and “form transitional government.”  To give a context about the movement for Addis Ababa, radical oromo forces within the political organizations that Prime Minister once led, Oromo Democratic Front, made an official claim months after Abiy Ahmed took over office saying that Addis Ababa exclusively belongs to Oromos. The political position gave rise to a movement including Baleadera Council whose leaders are incarcerated with trumped up charges of destabilizing the government. 

The statement from Abiy Ahmed’s Security Task Force disseminated via  state owned broadcasters disclosed that 15 individuals including Sergent Yihune Jemere and Commander Tsige Mulugeta were arrested. Most of those arrested were distributing flyers opposing organizing elections as the killing of ethnic Amhara continues and at the expense of the blood of children. Distributing flyers with a political opinion is not considered a “terrorist act” in the Ethiopian constitution. 

It is also claimed that the group was caught with an 85 page long draft constitution and 1000 copies, which were ready for distribution. 

A charitable organization (Meseret Charitable Organization) is implicated in facilitating the import of communication devices to be used by the alleged clandestine group. 

The task force also linked some Ethiopians based in the United States and Germany to the alleged plot. Professor Abera Meshesha, Teshale Kebede, Yeharerwork Gashaw, Dr. Genet. Woizero Aregash, Engineer Lishan Gizaw, Hagere Addis, Asfaw Jebessa, Meareg, Binya, and Kirubel are among Ethiopians listed implicated in the attack. 

Furthermore, the statement mentioned that the clandestine movement aimed at reversing Amahra genocide with the armed resistance. 

Opposition party members are yet to react to what many called a reckless move to threaten people on the issue of Addis Ababa. Many activists on social media tend to see the claim as dangerous and unwise that will make Amhara people, especially in the Oromo region of Ethiopia,  vulnerable to further massacres. 

Abraham Belay Named Head of Tigray Region Administration

May 5, 2021 

Dr. Abraham Belay (Photo credit : EBC)

Borkena

The government of Abiy Ahmed quietly removed Dr. Mulu Nega as head of the Tigray Provisional Administration that was established after the Ethiopian Defense Force took control of Mekelle City giving Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) a crushing defeat in a matter of two weeks. 

On Wednesday, the Ethiopian State Media said Dr, Abraham Belay is appointed as the new Head of Tigray Region Temporary administration. 

Dr. Abraham is president of the region’s branch of Prosperity Party, and has served in the Abiy Ahmed Cabinet as Innovation and Technology Minister – among others roles. 

The government did not say why Dr, Mulu Nega was removed from his position. 

International Court Sentences Ugandan to 25 Years for War Crimes

By MIKE CORDER

May 6, 2021

FILE - In this Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016 file photo, Dominic Ongwen, a senior commander in the Lord's Resistance Army, whose fugitive leader Kony is one of the world's most-wanted war crimes suspects, is flanked by two security guards as he sits in the court room of the International Court in The Hague, Netherlands. Ongwen was convicted in February, 2021 of a total of 61 war crimes and crimes against humanity including murder, rape, forced marriage, forced pregnancy and using child soldiers. His lawyers have said they will appeal the conviction. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, Pool, File)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The International Criminal Court sentenced a Ugandan former child soldier who turned into a brutal rebel commander to 25 years’ imprisonment Thursday, with judges saying that his own abduction as a schoolboy and history as a child soldier prevented him being sentenced to life.

Dominic Ongwen was convicted in February of a total of 61 war crimes and crimes against humanity including murder, rape, forced marriage, forced pregnancy and using child soldiers as a commander in the shadowy Lord’s Resistance Army. His lawyers have said they will appeal the conviction.

Presiding Judge Bertram Schmitt said that judges had to weigh Ongwen’s brutality and victims’ wishes for justice against his own tortured past when deciding on a sentence.

“The chamber is confronted in the present case with a unique situation. It is confronted with a perpetrator who willfully brought tremendous suffering upon his victims,” Schmitt said.

“However, it is also confronted with a perpetrator who himself had previously endured extreme suffering himself at the hands of the group of which he later became a prominent member and leader.”

Ongwen, wearing a face mask and headphones, showed no emotion as he heard that the three-judge panel had given him a sentence five years longer than the 20 years prosecutors requested.

Ugandan authorities welcomed the sentence, in a case they had asked the court to investigate.

“As the government of Uganda, we are happy that the case we referred to the ICC had merit,” said spokesman Ofwono Opondo. “We are satisfied, and we hope it will serve as a signal to others who think they can commit a crime and run away. The law will always catch up with you.”

Ongwen’s defense lawyers have always cast him as a victim of the LRA’s brutality who was traumatized after being abducted as a 9-year-old and turned into a child soldier in the group’s violent insurgency.

But judges in February ruled that he committed the crimes “as a fully responsible adult, as a commander of the LRA in his mid- to late 20s.”

Schmitt underscored that on Thursday, saying Ongwen could have fled the LRA, was not always in a position of total subordination to its leader Joseph Kony and committed some of the crimes in private.

Ongwen abducted children and women and “distributed” them among his fighters, the judge said.

“He also kept women and girls for his own household, forcing the youngest to be his domestic servants, while those that were deemed old enough were forced to be his so-called wives, obliged to have sex with him, and bear his children,” Schmitt added.

Ongwen is the first commander of the LRA to face justice at the global court and his convictions for gender-based crimes are significant for prosecutors keen to punish such atrocities.

Founded by Kony, himself a fugitive from the ICC, the Lord’s Resistance Army began in Uganda as an anti-government rebellion. When the military forced the group out of Uganda in 2005, the rebels scattered across parts of central Africa.

Kony gained international notoriety in 2012 when the U.S.-based advocacy group Invisible Children made a video highlighting the LRA’s crimes that went viral. By that time, the group had already been weakened by defections. Uganda’s military estimated in 2013 that the group comprised no more than a few hundred fighters.

Reports over the years have claimed Kony was hiding in Sudan’s Darfur region or in a remote corner of Central African Republic, where LRA fighters continued to kill and abduct in occasional raids on villages, and where Ongwen was arrested in 2015.

Judges said Ongwen’s role in a litany of brutal crimes would have merited a life sentence had it not been for his own childhood.

They said he was an intelligent child who could have grown up into a valuable member of society had he not been abducted on his way to school.

“All these possibilities, all his positive potential, all his hopes for a bright future came to a brutal halt on the day when he was abducted,” Schmitt said.