Sunday, January 23, 2022

African Resistance to Liquidate Colonizers’ Empire – Pan Africanism

January 23, 2022 

BY JOSEPH SOBOKA

A united struggle can break any shackle how strong it is. A person cannot prevail over his attacker no matter how hard he tries, especially when he is alone and in unfamiliar political environment. Such had been the situation when they were under the yoke inhuman colonialism. Both politically and physically they were hand cuffed and gaged, rather they were denied their natural rights to enjoy and excercise social or political activities like their colonial masters.

The intriguing situation is that the Africans mistreated like that on their own land. They did not go to the colonizer’s country. Yet, their territories and cultures were unjustly invaded and were manipulated to serve the interest of their masters like they did not have any human interests of their own.

It became imminent that the formation of some form of unity was highly required if Africa were to become independent and self-reliant member of the international community. The period of economic and political tutelage had to come to an end. Enough is enough! No more living under a continual surveillance of those who are only after their own selfish interest.

The irony is that every resource the Africans are denied to access belongs to the Africans. It is like chasing out the owner of the house and illegally claiming the ownership. This is exactly what has happened to Africans. Even in modern era, a concerted move is still much required of Africans to have a say in local and international affairs.

Long before the European conquest was completed, ideas of some form of nationalism were expressed in sub-Sahara. First and foremost, Dr. William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (better known as W.E.B. Du Bois), is the father of modern pan-Africanism. W.E.B. Du Bois was a leading African-American intellectual of the 20th century, who died in Ghana at the age of 95. Edward W. Shamefully, many of Du Bois’ long-time friends in the US civil rights movement, afraid of the wrath of the US government, abandoned him. Such situation indicates that the US government had resist policy of the whites’ supremacy at that time.

Blyden, as a matter of fact, was also one of the earliest to take up the ideas. He was born in West Indies but became a teacher in Liberia in the 1860, was active in Sierra Leone. This individual thought of African nation, not a Liberia or Sierra Leone nation, his main concern was nation building, presumably African nation. His primary concern was education, especially higher education that could serve as a medium for interacting and preserving African values. He knew very well that the Africans were discriminated against and their values were replaced by that of the colonizers.

Another individual named J.E. Casey Hayford carried the ideology further still with his book Ethiopia Unbound and his organization a National Congress of British West Africa. Although his idea was not so much Pan African, yet, there is that dim light in which the noble idea flickers. History tells us that Marcus Garvey is among the initiators although his appeal was not only for Pan Africanism but also he wanted an African state independent of European rule and for Afro-Americans of the diaspora. In the long run, these various African themes were important ideologically as a background for common action through agencies like the Organization of the African states. This movement, at the same time, laid a strong foundation for independence from European colonization.

Initially there were two groups known as Casablanca and Monrovia groups: The Casablanca Group emerged in 1961, comprising seven countries: Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Guinea, Libya, Mali and Morocco. The Monrovia Group comprised the twelve countries of the Brazzaville Group as well as Ethiopia, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Togo, Tunisia and Congo (Kinshasa). Active African figures comprise Jomo Kenyatta (Kenya), Kwame Nkrumah (Gold Coast, now Ghana), Julius Nyerere (Tanganyika, now Tanzania), Léopold Sédar (Senghor now Senegal), Nnamdi Azikiwe (Nigeria), and Félix Houphouët. Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia played a pivotal role in allowing the OAU headquarters to be in Addis Ababa.

If someone asks why Pan Africanism was needed, the key answer to it is just an attempt to create a sense of brotherhood and collaboration among all peoples of African descent whether they lived inside or outside of Africa. In other words, Pan-Africanism is a worldwide movement that aims to encourage and strengthen bonds of solidarity between all indigenous and diaspora ethnic groups of Africa.

The governing idea, here, is that Africans were kept apart from by various schemes such as slave trade, local subjugation by iron fist of colonialism and the like. Such treatments totally obliterated the sense of brotherhood from their mind. Each African was made an island that had to depend on cruel strangers rather than on his understanding and sympathetic fellow African.

Africa to defend against economic colonization still has to integrate in the field of international trade and security. Akin to the issue, African integration is benefiting from a number of reform programs. One such is the recently established African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA). A majority of African countries, including the two largest economies of Nigeria and South Africa, have now signed and ratified the agreement. At the same time, the African Union and the regional economic communities are consolidating and expanding their peace and security mechanisms.

Apart from trade and security issues, there are many other areas where we can expect to see progress on Africa’s regional integration in the near future: education and human capital, labor mobility, common currencies and taxes. In this respect Ethiopia is doing everything possible to push further the integration even though she is in the middle of turmoil created by the internal and external enemies of the countries.

At the root of many of these new initiatives, lies a legacy handed down from the liberation struggles and the Pan-Africanist movement. This policy note assesses how the Pan-Africanists ideas have been transformed from an ideology for decolonization into a framework for African development, with regional integration as its key strategy. Understanding the motives for and ideas of unity and cooperation, as well as which stakeholders stand to gain or lose from the integration programs, is key for everyone working for the continent’s security and prosperity.

To embark on such grand plan, Africa should design a strategy on what to do and how to do. With her strong tradition of advocating multilateralism, free trade and international co-operation, some European countries should support regional integration in Africa even though they may not like it. Drawing on their experiences of the European post-war integration projects, they could have a lot to offer, especially in education and capacity building. Correspondingly, the African experiences of cooperation across vast cultural, social, political and economic diversities could feed into the Nordic countries’ sustainable development agenda.

As the writer hinted above, from the current status Ethio-European relation, it is unlikely that most European countries are eager to co-operate with Africa to assist her, realize her dreams. Rather they try to put a road block to Africa’s preferred future and holistic development. They have strong fear that if Africa succeeds, they cannot manipulate her as they like in line with their interest. Africa’s disintegration is much preferred by the West and the United States: this is not a past history; it is a bitter experience Ethiopia is currently undergoing.

To tackle such a grave problem, enlightened individuals inside and outside the continent have labored relentlessly and their objective is relatively achieved. Today, Pan-Africanism is embodied in the African Union (AU), the organization of African states which includes the entire African diaspora as its “sixth region”. The current war situation in Ethiopia is decisive test to the African Union.

Except China and Russia, when the world, tuned its back on Ethiopia, some African stood with Ethiopia and are even encouraging others to uphold the cause of Africa with Ethiopia. Some individuals from Congo and South Africa have traveled to Ethiopia to show their support for the struggle Ethiopia is making.

They openly declare that Ethiopia, single handedly, is fighting against the modern economic sabotage being manipulated by the West and the United States. They are calling all Africans to fight alongside Ethiopia. They believe that what is happening in Ethiopia is the buildup of the current Pan Africanism which is most likely true. To be more certitude, the decision made by the African Union to hold a summit conference in Addis Ababa, despite the opposition by the West and the United States, shows how much Africans are eager to form a new phase of Pan Africanism.

The Ethiopian Herald January 23/2022

# NoMore Movement to Campaign Economic Development – Hermela Aregawi

January 23, 2022

BY TSEGAYE TILAHUN

ADDIS ABABA- #NoMore Global Movement will expand to other economic development issues particularly the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) to counter the coordinated and well-funded propaganda of some interest groups, a renowned journalist Hermela Aregawi disclosed.

In a press conference she gave here yesterday, Hermela, known for being one of the initiators of the #NoMore movement, said that there is a great commitment and desire to strengthen and expand the activity to other issues of national importance. Accordingly, various activities are underway to this end. The #NoMore movement conversation has also moved to other economic development matters as they have paramount importance in changing the livelihoods of the public.

“Economic development is a big agenda. The GERD propaganda is actually opening. Journalists must pay attention to it as it changes the lives of 100 million plus people. They can probably produce a million stories on GERD and we need to start now as entire propaganda coming from the outside.”

“As #NoMore Global Movement’s one-year anniversary is coming, we will do the same about GERD’s propaganda. It will be opened in the near future. We can go on the offensive. We can focus on people working in the area, job creation, energy and how it can change the lives of women and other communities,” she added.

Noting the #NoMore Global Movement is a way of thinking and doing something different to bring a change or improvement, the journalist noted that the movement will be expanded to a high level in development arenas. “There are opportunities to tell the real stories about Ethiopia for the world community. I am ready to make any kind of contribution for Ethiopia in a maximum effort by strengthening the movement and participating in any kind of activities.”

The Ethiopian Herald January 23/2022

Peace in Sudan Requires Defeating Military Takeover

January 22, 2022 – (KHARTOUM) -Yasir Arman, SPLM-N Deputy Chairman Saturday said that peace in Sudan requires defeating the coup carried out by General al-Burhan on October 25, 2021.

In a talk show with Al-Jazeera Live, Arman said that the coup had plunged the country and the peace process in a big dilemma, pointing out that the peace agreement is closely linked to the democratic transition and the constitutional declaration.

“Personally, I believe that we cannot reach a solution that preserves the (peace) agreement until defeating the coup and returning to democratic civilian rule,” he said.

“I think it is a matter of time when all parties to peace will realize that totalitarianism and dictatorship will not lead to peace. Peace will only grow in democratic soil,” he stressed.

Arman was the only leader of an armed group to be detained after the coup, while the SPLM-N Chairman Malik Agar remained a member at the Sovereign Council.

The matter also triggered a heated debate inside the Movement over whether to remain committed to the agreement after the coup or join the Sudanese street in its rejection of the military takeover.

Arman said the agreement has not been implemented and now it is “distorted in the interest of totalitarianism.

He called on the peace guarantors and witnesses to intervene to correct this deviation and stand with the Sudanese people to “defeat the coup”.

However, he underscored that going back to war is not a viable option, saying “armed action is over”. He added that no one can prevent others from taking up arms.

Agar is aware of the situation

With regard to the different positions that Agar adopted vis-à-vis the coup leaders, Arman said that the group leader is aware of the complexity of the situation after the coup.

“A drug is aware of this and is making the latest attempts to save the agreement,” he said.

“The head of the Movement and others are now making the last attempts to save the peace agreement because (…) no one wants to return to war,” he added.

Several sources have confirmed to the Sudan Tribune that the two other members of the Sovereign Council are frustrated with the current situation as they do not want to be associated with the military coup that they have several times publicly condemned.

The SPLM-N deputy leader emphasized the need to preserve the unity of the movement despite the current divergence between him and Agar on the coup that interrupted the democratic transition.

He further minimised the matter saying that other political parties are experiencing similar situations where the leadership members have different positions about the coup.

Obviously, he was alluding to the National Umma Party, but he did not name it.

Arman added that he is running dialogue within the SPLM-N and with other movements.

“I think the movement will eventually stand all together with the people and will not be divided,” he asserted.

(ST)

Sudanese Security Forces Arrest Women’s Rights Activist

January 22, 2022 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese security forces on Saturday arrested a women’s rights activist as part of their efforts to clamp down on three-month anti-coup protests.

Amira Osman, Chairperson of the “No to Women’s Oppression” group was arrested from her home at about 11.30 when some 30 security agents raided their apartment in the Riyadh neighbourhood.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the women rights group said they ignore her whereabouts and the identity of the force that arrested her.

After the military coup of October 25, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan issued an order giving the security forces the right to arrest political opponents, as part of a series of decisions to consolidate his power.

He, also, appointed an Islamist at the head of the General Intelligence Service who re-established all the banned practices of the former regime.

Recently the security forces arrested active members of the Resistance Committees, the spearhead of the anti-coup protests.

Also, they target protest leaders. Many of the killed youth played a role in the organisation of anti-coup demonstrations.

Osman had been arrested several times by the disbanded NISS for political activities hostile au regime or for ‘indecent or immoral dress’.

(ST)

Mali Bids Farewell to Ex-president Keita

A ceremony was held for Mali's for President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita who died last week.

He was ousted in a coup in 2020.

Thousands of people also gathered at the former president's residence in Bamako to pay their respects.

Mali held a state ceremony on Friday for former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who was ousted in a 2020 coup and died last week.

Interim Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga attended the ceremony in a military camp in the Sahel state's capital Bamako, where the ex-leader's coffin was draped in the Malian flag.

Keita's relatives attended too, as well as former Malian Prime Minister Moussa Mara, Guinea's foreign minister, and foreign diplomats in Bamako.

Thousands of people also gathered at the former president's residence in Bamako to pay their respects.

Keita, who was elected in a landslide in 2013 and won re-election five years later, died aged 76 on Sunday. He is due to be buried at his Bamako residence later on Friday.

Mali's brutal jihadist conflict overshadowed Keita's presidency, which along with a flagging economy and perceived government corruption, contributed to mass protests against him in 2020.

Young army officers led by Colonel Assimi Goita forced him out of office on August 18, 2020, detaining Keita and other leaders.

Under pressure from the West African bloc ECOWAS, the junta that emerged from the rebellion released Keita on August 27 and returned him to his residence in Bamako, under surveillance.

Morning traffic on Independence Square, a site of opposition protests in the Malian capital of Bamako, after a military coup which overthrew embattled President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

He suffered a mini-stroke the following month, and was sent to the United Arab Emirates for treatment.

The ruling junta would stage went on to stage another coup in May 2021.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in December agreed to sanction Mali after the junta proposed staying in power for up to five years before staging elections -- despite international demands to respect a promise to hold the vote in February.

Goita, the head of the ruling junta, has declared a three-day national holiday in Keita's honour, starting from Friday.

French Soldier Killed in Attack on Military Camp in Northern Mali

23/01/2022 - 11:00

FRANCE 24

A French soldier has died in Mali, the French defence ministry announced on Sunday, the latest loss coming as Paris ponders whether to stop providing military backup to the junta-run West African country.

His death brings to 53 the total number of combat deaths suffered by French forces since they first deployed troops to Mali nine years ago to fight an insurgency by Islamic extremists.

The soldier was killed in a salvo of around a dozen artillery rounds fired Saturday at a military base in Gao in the volatile and poverty-wracked Sahel region, said a defence ministry statement.

Nine others were injured by the rounds, launched five to six kilometres (three to four miles) to the northest in an area known to be used by the Qaeda-linked GSIM Islamist insurgent group, a military spokesman said.

President Emmanuel Macron "pays tribute to the courage of soldiers on duty in the Sahel and expresses his total confidence in them", said a statement from his office.

"He confirms France's determination to continue the fight against terrorism in the region, alongside its partners," it added.

On Sunday, an official of the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali said mortar fire hit one of its camps, in Menaka in the north of the country, without causing any casualties.

"Deep sadness at the news of the death in combat of Brigadier Alexandre Martin on January 22 in Gao, Mali. I salute his commitment," the French army's chief of general staff tweeted on Sunday.

More than 4,000 French forces are stationed in the Sahel region of West Africa as part of the Barkhane anti-terror operation, most of them in Mali.

France, which first deployed troops in the West African country nine years ago to fight a jihadist insurgency, has spent around €880 million a year on a mission that has cost 53 French soldiers their lives.

Paris has started reducing its presence in Mali, hoping to halve the contingent by the summer of 2023, and has asked its European Union allies to provide more support.

It is now mulling an earlier exit amid rapidly deteriorating relations with the military junta that has ruled the country since a coup in August 2020.

France is angry over the junta's refusal to organise planned elections to bring in a civilian government, a move that has triggered sanctions from the ECOWAS bloc of West African nations.

Paris has also condemned Mali's alleged hiring of the Wagner group of mercenaries believed to be close to Russia's leadership.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AFP)

Voters Flock to the Polls in Senegal's Local Elections

Africa News

Voters in Senegal went to the polls on Sunday to elect local representatives in what many see as a test for President Macky Sall and the opposition.

It's the first election in the country since last year's deadly riots after opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko, was arrested.

For many, voting in local elections is about solving local issues.

"It was very important for me to come and do my duty, because we are talking about the municipality, so it is up to us to choose someone who is ready to work for the municipality, someone who is ready to accompany us for the next 5 years", said Amadou Mansour M'Baye, a local elector.

Another local elector, Sada Ba, added "I am happy to have voted, because it is an act of citizenship and it is up to us to elect mayors to have a clean and well-maintained municipality".

Around a third of Senegal's 17 million people are eligible to vote.

The poll takes place five months ahead of a general election, the first since Macky Sall was re-elected in 2019.

Head of Guinea's Ruling Junta Appoints Members of Transitional Council

Africa News

The head of Guinea's military junta, Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, named on Saturday the members of the National Transitional Council, NTC.

The 81-member legislative body will decide when civilians will return to power.

Civil society activist, doctor Kanso Kourouma, was appointed president of the NTC.

The members of the NTC represent all the country's socio-professional organisations as well as political parties.

Colonel Doumbouya, who became transitional president on 1 October 2021 after overthrowing President Alpha Condé, has pledged to hand over power to civilians after elections, but has not yet mentioned a deadline for this transition.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) insists on the need to respect the six-month deadline for holding elections and urges the Guinean authorities to quickly submit a timetable for this.

Mutinous Soldiers Take over Burkina Faso Military Barracks

By SAM MEDNICK

A mutinous soldier fires into the air at the Bobo interchange, near the Lamizana camp in Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou Sunday Jan. 23, 2022. Witnesses are reporting heavy gunfire at a military base raising fears that a coup attempt is underway. Government spokesman Alkassoum Maiga acknowledged the gunfire but denied that the military had taken over the West African country. (AP Photo/Sophie Garcia)

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — Mutinous soldiers seized control of a military base in Burkina Faso’s capital Sunday, raising fears of a coup attempt in the West African nation as gunfire rang out for hours amid growing frustration with the government’s handling of the Islamic insurgency.

The apparent mutiny came one day after the latest public demonstration calling for President Roch Marc Christian Kabore’s resignation. On Sunday, security forces used tear gas to disperse crowds seeking to publicly support the mutineers. Crowds also vandalized a building occupied by the president’s political party and set it on fire.

Defense Minister Aime Barthelemy Simpore told state broadcaster RTB that a few barracks had been affected by unrest not only in the capital of Ouagadougou but in other cities too. He denied, however, that the president had been detained by the mutineers, even though Kabore’s whereabouts remained unknown.

“Well, it’s a few barracks. There are not too many,” Simpore said. “In some of these barracks, the calm has already returned. So that’s it for the moment. As I said, we are monitoring the situation.”

A news headline on the state broadcaster described the gunfire as “acts of discontent by soldiers.”

“Contrary to some information, no institution of the republic has been targeted,” the headline continued.

At the Lamizana Sangoule military barracks in the capital, however, angry soldiers shot into the air Sunday, directing their anger over army casualties at the president. About 100 motorcycles later left the base, chanting in support of the mutineers, but were stopped when security forces deployed tear gas.

The soldiers put a man on the phone with The Associated Press who said that they were seeking better working conditions for Burkina Faso’s military amid the escalating fight against Islamic militants. Among their demands are increased manpower in the battle against extremists and better care for those wounded and the families of the dead. The mutinous soldiers also want the military and intelligence hierarchy replaced, he said.

There were signs Sunday that their demands were supported by many in Burkina Faso who are increasingly distressed by the attacks blamed on al-Qaida and Islamic State-linked groups. Thousands have died in recent years from those attacks and around 1.5 million people have been displaced.

“We want the military to take power,” said Salif Sawadogo as he tried to avoid tear gas on the streets of Ouagadougou. “Our democracy is not stable.”

Kabore first took office in 2015, winning the election held after longtime President Blaise Compaore was ousted in a popular uprising.

Still, Kabore has faced growing opposition since his reelection in November 2020 as the country’s Islamic extremism crisis has deepened. Last month he fired his prime minister and replaced most of the Cabinet, but critics have continued calling for his resignation.

On Sunday, protesters who supported the army mutiny said they had had enough of Kabore even though the next presidential election isn’t until 2025. Demonstrator Aime Birba said the violence under Kabore has been unlike anything Burkina Faso experienced during the nearly three decades Compaore was in power.

“We are currently under another form of dictatorship,” he said. “ A president who is not able to take security measures to secure his own people is not a president worthy of the name.”

Earlier this month, authorities had arrested a group of soldiers accused of participating in a foiled coup plot. It was not immediately known whether there was any connection between those soldiers and the ones who led a mutiny Sunday. Military prosecutors said nine soldiers and two civilians were being held in connection with the plot.

West Africa has seen a spate of military coups in West Africa over the past 18 months, causing the regional bloc known as ECOWAS to suspend two member states simultaneously for the first time since 2012.

In August 2020, a mutiny at a Malian military barracks led to the democratically elected president being detained. He later announced his resignation on national television, and the junta leader there doesn’t want new elections for four more years.

In September 2021, Guinea’s president also was overthrown by a military junta that remains in power to this day.

Burkina Faso, too has seen its share of coup attempts and military takeovers. In 1987, Compaore came to power by force. And in 2015, soldiers loyal to him attempted to overthrow the transitional government put into place after his ouster. The army was ultimately able to put the transitional authorities back in power, who led again until Kabore won an election and took office

___

Associated Press writers Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal and Arsene Kabore in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso contributed.

As Soldiers Mutiny in Burkina Faso, Government Dismisses Talk of Coup

By Thiam Ndiaga and Anne Mimault

Summary

Government denies reports army has taken over

Mutineers demand resignations of top security officials

Inmates include soldiers involved in 2015 coup attempt

Authorities ban planned protests in Ouagadougou

OUAGADOUGOU, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Sustained gunfire rang out from military camps in Burkina Faso on Sunday as mutinying soldiers demanded more support for their fight against Islamist militants and protesters ransacked the headquarters of President Roch Kabore's political party.

The government called for calm, denying speculation on social media that the army had seized power or detained Kabore.

A spokesperson for the mutineers said they were demanding "appropriate" resources and training for the army in its fight against militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State and the resignation of the army and intelligence chiefs.

Frustration in the West African gold producing country has grown in recent months over deteriorating security. The deaths of 49 military police in a militant attack in November prompted violent street protests calling for Kabore to step down.

Protesters in the streets of the capital Ouagadougou on Sunday urged the soldiers to go further, chanting "Free the country!"

The mutiny underlines the threat posed by growing Islamist insurgencies across West Africa’s Sahel region, a semi-arid strip of land beneath the Sahara Desert.

The militants have seized control of swathes of territory across Burkina Faso and its neighbours, Mali and Niger. In some cases, they force residents to abide by their harsh interpretation of Islamic law.

Heavy gunfire was first heard on Sunday at Ouagadougou's Sangoule Lamizana camp, which houses a prison whose inmates include soldiers involved in a failed 2015 coup attempt, as early as 5:00 a.m. (0500 GMT), Reuters reporters said.

Hundreds of people later came out in support of the mutineers. At the Lamizana camp, where a crowd of about 100 sang the national anthem and chanted, the soldiers responded by firing into the air. It was not clear if this was meant to show support for the demonstrators or to disperse them.

In downtown Ouagadougou, near the Place de la Nation, police fired teargas to disperse around 300 protesters.

Soldiers also fired into the air at an air base close to Ouagadougou International Airport, according to Reuters reporters. The U.S. embassy also reported gunfire at three other military bases in Ouagadougou and at bases in the northern towns of Kaya and Ouahigouya.

Elsewhere in Ouagadougou, protesters burned and looted the headquarters of Kabore's People's Movement for Progress (MPP), a Reuters reporter said.

The spokesperson for the mutineers, who addressed reporters in front of Lamizana camp, called for better welfare for wounded soldiers and their families.

COUP FEARS

Burkina Faso's government confirmed gunfire at some military camps but denied reports on social media that the army had seized power.

Speaking on national television, Defence Minister General Bathelemy Simpore said the reasons for the gunfire were still unclear.

"The head of state has not been detained; no institution of the country has been threatened," Simpore said. "For now, we don’t know their motives or what they are demanding. We are trying to get in contact with them," he said.

Kabore was not seen in public. His Twitter account issued a single tweet on Sunday to encourage Burkina Faso's national soccer team in its Africa Cup of Nations match against Gabon later in the day. It made no mention of events at home.

NetBlocks, an internet blockage observatory, said web access had been disrupted as of around 10 a.m. A spokesperson for the airport said flights had not been cancelled.

Governments in West and Central Africa are on high alert for coups after successful putsches over the past 18 months in Mali and Guinea, where the army removed President Alpha Conde last September.

The military also took over in Chad last year after President Idriss Deby died on the battlefield.

Burkinabe authorities arrested a dozen soldiers earlier this month on suspicion of conspiring against the government.

The arrests followed a shake-up within the army's leadership in December, which some analysts saw as an effort by President Kabore to shore up his support within the military.

Rising violence in Burkina Faso driven by Islamist attacks killed over 2,000 people last year.

Anti-government demonstrations were planned for Saturday, but the government banned them and the police intervened to disperse the hundreds of people who tried to assemble in Ouagadougou.

The government has suspended mobile internet service on several occasions, and the tense situation in November led the U.N. special envoy to West Africa to warn against any military takeover.

Among the inmates at the Lamizana camp prison is General Gilbert Diendere, who was sentenced in 2019 to 20 years in prison for his role in a failed 2015 coup.

Reporting by Thiam Ndiaga and Anne Mimault, additional reporting by Ange Aboa Writing by Aaron Ross and Bate Felix Editing Raissa Kasolowsky, Pravin Char and Emelia Sithole-Matarise

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Africans Deserve Representation at the UNSC

January 22, 2022   

BY FITSUM GETACHEW

The United Nations Organization, the UN, is a body that was formed in the wake of the end of World War II when it was found out that the world needed to avert any kind of future devastating wars after what had happened in the five-year conflict. The world had witnessed another devastation and tremendous loss of life in the four-year conflict of the First World War.

The World War I was one when millions lost their lives in prolonged and extensive battles in multiple war fronts using trenches and other outmoded ways of combat. The World War II was instead more modern and more sophisticated and new means of warfare were used including fighting jets and devastating bombs. All this resulted in not only extensive loss of lives but also devastating damages of cities that were mercilessly bombed using jets!

The US was one of the major powerful forces that joined the war in the aftermath of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. Eventually the war lasted five years and involved practically the entire world because few countries managed to avoid involvement. Ethiopia was one of those countries where conflict began even before the official outbreak of World War II; but the fact that Italy joined the German forces in the war involved Ethiopia in the World War.

Hence, many state Ethiopia as well was among the warring parties in the conflict confronting the Italian invaders. Other African troops as well were in the fight siding with their colonial masters. Thousands perished in the battles. There were active battle grounds in the Mediterranean area with the Nazi-fascists on the one side and the forces of the Allied Forces on the other.

Eventually, the Nazi-Fascist Axis was defeated. To bring to a complete and unconditional surrender of the Japanese forces the Alliance had to drop two hydrogen bombs newly fabricated in the US at the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Only then was there a total and immediate surrender of the Japanese and the end of the battle in the Asian Front was declared.

Subsequently, the winners then sat down together and began to think of the formation of the United Nations Organisation but remembering that the League of Nations was not very successful and even led to World War II they conceived this body as a better one capable of averting all future wars. They vowed that from now on there would not be wars anymore and that World War II would be the last war fought on earth and that it was ‘the war to end all wars’. While preparing the Charter of the UN they devised a system in which five supreme leaders called the Security Council of the UN would act as a sort of maximum executive body that would discuss and decide on urgent and dangerous developments on the planet with the specific objective of averting threats of armed confrontation or conflict.

Each of the five members was entitled with what was called a ‘veto power’ that would paralyze any move that was not accepted by all unanimously. They agreed that big decisions on international security would be taken only if all five agreed with one voice. If any one of the five did not agree, the decision would be suspended or cancelled.

Since the foundation of the UN this system continued to decide the fate of the world. The US, Russia, China, the UK and France as members of the UNSC have continued to pass all the major international decisions that have affected the entire human community. But this system has also been criticized as having paralyzed the body from acting effectively due to political differences. Only on certain occasions did all five agreed to take measures pertaining to threats of war.

It is now almost eight decades since the end of World War II and the formation of the UN. In all these years there have been many fundamental changes in the world that the body did not envisage. In fact, the world has transformed beyond recognition. There has been tremendous scientific and technological advancement in the world. Moreover, there has been tremendous growth of many countries. So many new countries have joined the international community of states with the decolonization of the world. New sovereign states have come to the fore while the population of the world has also grown by leaps and bounds.

Furthermore, today the world has become a huge village with globalization and all the networks and communications means that have developed and grown along the years. All these were not even conceived in those years when the UN was first projected. In fact, anyone who had died in 1945 would not recognize this new reality if they were to come back to life and see the new world! In short, the world has changed beyond recognition. But the body that was founded based on the reality in 1945 is still trying to run the world in 2022 with the same provisions! In 1945 only a few African countries existed independently but now there are fifty five sovereign nations. Clearly, many observers assert this cannot be acceptable as the situation is completely different when compared to the one eighty years ago!

Now there is a clear admission and recognition of this visible fact but there appears to persist the obstinacy of the ‘big powers’ who probably do not want to lose their ‘privileges of running the world’ the way they like it or the way it is convenient for their long term strategic interests. Above all, when we look at how the world is divided among continents, we find out that practically all continents are more or less represented at the UNSC except Africa! And yet Africa is home to 1.3 billion people with a good part of the entire wealth of the planet! Not having any kind of representation at the UNSC seems to be not only bizarre but also dangerous because it does not reflect fairly the reality on the ground. In a way, it may diminish the legitimacy and credibility of the UN and would be severely handicapped to take equitable and fair decisions on affairs that affect the day to day lives of a large part of humanity and be adopted without reservation.

The economic map of the world in 1945 is completely different from the one now reigning. There are now huge nations economically relevant and meaningful for the world such as India (not independent in 1945), Brazil, Nigeria, South Africa not to speak of Japan and Germany which as parts of the losing side were virtually sidelined when the body was founded.

Above all, the entire African continent with more than a billion people is not represented at the UNSC at all and the unfairness would come out glaringly when we observe that countries such as the UK and France enjoy the status of being members of the Security Council thanks to the historical background that led to the foundation of the UN. Should they continue to enjoy the same status in 2022 after all the changes that took place while Africa as a continent does not have even a single seat? This is now the controversial issue that needs thorough discussion that would lead to some sort of serious revision of how the UN major agencies are structured and function.

That is why there are increasing voices that argue that the representation at the UNSC must be seriously reconsidered and be open for reform. In fact these voices have been replicated even by non-African countries who have sensed the unfairness of the system. Definitely Africa and the black people in general deserve to be adequately and fairly represented at the UN Security Council. Many of the decisions adopted at the UN have not always taken the opinion of Africans and they have not been fair. For instance, we have seen that glaringly in the recent conflict in Northern Ethiopia. We have noted that there were increasingly loud voices which tried to use the UN to intervene in the internal affairs of Ethiopia violating its territorial sovereignty under the guise of humanitarian issues.

If non-interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign country is absolutely out of question as one of the basic pillars of the equality of all nations in the world at the UN, we do not understand how and why there were repeated appeals to convene the UN SC and try to accuse Ethiopia of whatever they considered was illegal and wanted to intervene in some way. It was only thanks to the persistent objection of countries such as Russia and China that Ethiopia managed to avoid the total condemnation of the UNSC. The Ethiopian government continued to assert that it is in its sovereign rights to deal with its internal problems without the interference of any outside power including the UN. But this was not palatable to certain western countries that repeatedly suggested that the UN intervene in Ethiopia and clearly in favor of what they call the rebels, but Ethiopia has already labeled ‘terrorist’ and ‘enemy’ of the people! Ethiopia has continued to maintain that certain suggestions in this sense were totally uncalled for and irreverent of Ethiopia’s sovereignty.

It was clear here that the TPLF led government before it was deposed was a close friend of the west as it pursued their strategic interests at times even disregarding the national interests of Ethiopia. If there was a strong voice for Africa at the UNSC, things would probably take a different course. Pressure by Africans would influence the stance of certain western countries to be more reasonable and moderate.

The point of view of Ethiopia may have been more seriously and deeply considered given that the Ethiopian government is a legitimately elected government by the people while TPLF is now completely discredited and resulted to be an enemy of its own people openly declaring war with the declared intention of dismembering it! In fact, it has repeatedly stated clearly its intentions and plans and the UN has preferred to close its eyes in front of all these developments! Many observers have noted that the UN has resulted once again to be the ‘protector of the western powers’ interests’. That is why the UN is now on the verge of losing its credibility among Africans and there are more and more voices who advocate for deep reform in how it operates. Most agencies of the UN system need urgent revision particularly the way the Security Council is composed and operates.

Although this movement to modify and reform the UN has been going on for many years, never has it become more urgent and imperative than now after we have seen what has happened to one of its respected founding members: Ethiopia. And that is why this development has ignited the movement called #No More joined by the entire African continent and the black world as a whole. With the AU heads of state summit imminent in Addis, it would be a wonderful occasion to raise this issue and may be add more voice to the call for more representation of African voices at the United Nations Security Council.

The Ethiopian Herald January 20/2022

Diplomat Dismisses Reports About Visit of Egyptian President to Khartoum

January 22, 2022 (KHARTOUM) – The Egyptian ambassador to Khartoum denied reports about an unannounced visit of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to Sudan on Saturday.

Ambassador Hossam Issa, told the Sudan Tribune on Saturday that the reports about the Egyptian president’s visit to Khartoum are “unfounded”.

“If there is a visit to Sudan, it will be announced officially,” Issa added.

Media outlets in Sudan reported on Saturday that President al-Sisi would conduct a one-day unannounced visit to Khartoum Saturday, accompanied by Director of General Intelligence Abbas Kamel, and a number of ministers.

The Egyptian president and his government are perceived in Khartoum as the supporters of Abdel Fattah al-Burhan who carried out a coup against the civilian government.

Egypt is the only country that refused to join regional and international coalitions led by the U.S. to press the junta to restore the civilian-led transitional government.

Since they have been overlooked in the ongoing efforts to settle the Sudanese crisis.

Ambassador Issa accused unnamed parties of spreading rumours against Egypt these days, pointing to false reports published recently about the suspension of visas to Egypt, and the clash between Sudanese students and Egyptian security in Cairo.

(ST)

Hemetti Arrives in Addis Ababa for Talks on Sudan-Ethiopia Relations

January 22, 2022 (KHARTOUM) – Mohamed Hamdan Daglo aka Hemetti Deputy Head of the Sovereign Council travelled started a two-day visit to Addis Ababa to discuss strained relations between the two neighbours.

The GERD, a giant new hydropower dam on the Blue Nile, the al-Fashaga triangle border area and accusations of support to rebel Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) have created tensions between the two countries during the past two years.

During his visit, Hemetti “will discuss bilateral relations between the two brotherly countries and ways to strengthen and develop it in all fields in the interests of the two countries,” said the official news agency.

After his arrival in Addis Ababa, he was welcomed at Bele International Airport. by the Ethiopian  Defence Minister Abreham Belay (PhD) and Director-General of the National Intelligence and Security Service, Temesgen Tiruneh.

The Sudanese ambassador to Addis Ababa also was at the airport, according to the Sovereign Council.

Daglo will meet the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to discuss bilateral relations.

On January 19, the Head of the Sovereign Council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan received a call from the Head of the UN Peacekeeping Department Jean Pierre Lacroix to discuss modalities to replace the Ethiopian troops in Abyei with peacekeepers from other countries.

The replacement will take place between February and March 2022.

Sudan last year requested the withdrawal of the Ethiopian troops following border clashes between the two countries.

Recently the Sovereign Council directed to open the crossing border to allow gas trucks to resume activities between the two countries despite the border closure since July 2021.

(ST)

Residents of Dakar Share Expectations Ahead of Sunday Poll

By Africa News

In Senegal local elections are taking place on Sunday in what many see as a test for President Macky Sall as well as the opposition.

Several government ministers are running for mayor in Senegal's more than 500 municipalities and 46 departments.

Ahead of the vote, Dakar residents share their expectations.

"In Dakar, for some it is well maintained because there are green spaces, there is security as in the city of Dakar, but on the other hand in the suburbs, you don't find all that. There is vagrancy, banditry, aggression, insecurity and pollution. We expect the mayors who will be elected to remedy all this", said N’Deye Kadi Fall.

Another resident, Pape Cisse, wants politics out city management.

"If tomorrow in Dakar, we have a mayor who is an opponent of the state, the state should let this mayor work because cities should be managed by mayors, whatever their political position...".

"The previous mandates did not bring anything. They don't bring anything because it's a bluff to me. And most of the time, you have to be with the government to work. When you are not with the government you are very often blocked in your projects", accuses Waly Diabira, another resident in Dakar.

Health Minister Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr, an ally of the president, is running for mayor of Dakar.

He is facing five opposition candidates, including harsh Sall critic Barthelemy Dias, who is embroiled in a court case over his alleged connection to a shooting in 2011.

Police and Demonstrators Clash in Burkina Faso

By Africa News

In Burkina Faso, clashes broke out on Saturday between police and demonstrators in the capital, Ouagadougou.

Riot police had to resort to tear gas to disperse the crowds who came out to protest against insecurity.

The demonstrators erected barricades in several places.

Last Thursday a government spokesperson justified the decision to block Facebook access in the lead-up to banned protests.

Previously, the mayor's office had banned the demonstration planned for Saturday.

Since 2015 that Burkina Faso faces a spiral of violence attributed to armed jihadist groups.

Over 1.2m People Died from Drug-resistant Infections in 2019: Study

By Reuters

Jan 20, 2022 06:23 PM

Drug abuse Photo: IC

More than 1.2 million people died in 2019 from infections caused by bacteria resistant to multiple antibiotics, higher than HIV/AIDS or malaria, according to a new report published on Thursday.

Global health officials have repeatedly warned about the rise of drug-resistant bacteria and other microbes due to the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, which encourages microorganisms to evolve into "superbugs."

The new Global Research on Antimicrobial Resistance report, published in The Lancet, revealed that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) was directly responsible for an estimated 1.27 million deaths and associated with about 4.95 million deaths. The study analyzed data from 204 countries and territories.

"These new data reveal the true scale of antimicrobial resistance worldwide... Previous estimates had predicted 10 million annual deaths from AMR by 2050, but we now know for certain that we are already far closer to that figure than we thought," said Chris Murray, co-author of the study and a professor at the University of Washington.

In 2021, the World Health Organization warned that none of the 43 antibiotics in development or recently approved medicines were enough to combat antimicrobial resistance.

Cornelius Clancy, professor of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, said one of the ways to tackle AMR is to look at a new treatment model.

"The traditional antibiotic model that we've had for past number of decades since penicillin. I think it is tapped out," he said.

Most of 2019's deaths were caused by drug resistance in lower respiratory infections such as pneumonia, followed by bloodstream infections and intra-abdominal infections.

AMR's impact is now most severe in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, while around one in five deaths is in children aged under 5 years.

There was limited availability of data for some regions, particularly many low and middle-income countries, which may restrict the accuracy of the study's estimates.

Clancy said the focus has been on COVID-19 for the past two years, but AMR is a "long-term kind of challenge."

China Urges US to Cancel Tariffs, After Biden Says He Is Not Ready

By GT staff reporters

Jan 20, 2022 09:42 PM 

Containers are handled at the Port of Nantong in East China's Jiangsu Province on January 9, 2022. According to local transport authorities, throughput at the port reached 2.03 million standard containers in 2021, a record high.

China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) on Thursday exhorted the US to cancel the tariffs it had imposed, citing the resultant benefits to consumers and producers across the Pacific amid inflation woes, after US President Joe Biden said that he was not ready for a removal of tariffs imposed by his predecessor.

"China has always believed that removing the imposed tariffs bodes well for China, the US and the world," Shu Jueting, spokesperson for the MOFCOM, told a regular press conference.

The cancellation of tariffs benefits the fundamental interests of consumers and producers from both China and the US amid inflation woes and it would be propitious to the recovery of the global economy as well, Shu said.

On Wednesday, Biden told a news conference at the White House that "we're not there yet," referring to making commitments on removing US tariffs on Chinese items imposed by his predecessor Donald Trump, according to Reuters.

Biden is apparently beating around the bush despite calls from some business groups to begin unwinding US tariffs of up to 25 percent on Chinese goods.

In a fresh effort to dial down bilateral tensions, Chuck Robbins, chief executive of US network equipment giant Cisco Systems Inc, said Wednesday that the US and Chinese governments ought to "find a way to coexist," according to Bloomberg.

"For the global economy and, frankly, for the world, I think it's important for us to come to some common ground," he said, adding that "I'm hopeful that the administration will continue to take that approach."

It could be that the Biden administration is ready to phase out the tariffs but it is yet to be done with the preparations, Gao Lingyun, an expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday.

While Biden remained unclear when the cancellation would happen, he said Katherine Tai, the US chief trade negotiator, was working on the issue, according to media reports.

The US might be weighing a tariff removal, which some members of the Biden administration would champion, while some others would tend to oppose it, Gao said, adding that calculations might be under way as to which side ends up prevailing.

The tariff cancellation surely benefits both China and the US, as Chinese businesses are in part subject to the fallout of the imposed tariffs, which raise their costs, while US importers also bear the brunt of the additional tariffs and accordingly feed the pressure through to producers and consumers, the expert went on to say.

The removal of additional tariffs would therefore turn out to be good news for both producers and consumers across the Pacific, observers stressed. 

A move in this direction would help the US in particular, as soaring prices are putting the US economic recovery at risk, prompting the Federal Reserve to begin a cycle of rate hikes as soon as March, analysts said.

The US consumer price index rose 7 percent in December compared with the year before, the seventh month in a row of 5-percent-plus inflation, per data from the US Department of Labor.

The price level, unseen in decades, is cited as justifying the start of a cycle of interest rate hikes later this year, fueling woes across the globe over the resulting repercussions on global equities.

No matter whether the tariffs are canceled or not, efforts to stabilize economic growth in China's case and to battle the runaway inflation on the part of the US ought to be based on the interests of consumers and producers, Gao noted, arguing against "political calculations."

Earlier this month, Shu said economic and trade teams from the two countries were maintaining normal communication.

Since the phase-one deal came into force, China has strived to overcome several unfavorable factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, global economic recession and supply chain disruptions, to push for the joint implementation of the deal, the spokesperson added.

Trade between China and the US soared by 28.7 percent to $755.6 billion in 2021, Chinese customs data showed, despite tariffs and bruising political tensions between the world's top two economies.  

Trade concerns have increasingly given way to the attractiveness of the Chinese market.

"The resilience of the Chinese industrial system and supply chains played the role of 'producer of last resort' for the rest of the world during the pandemic," US bank Citi said in a report sent to the Global Times. 

"The concerns of trade and economic tensions between the US and China, while remaining important, have declined at the margin," the report said.

Washington Asks Russia to Keep US Response on Security Guarantees Secret - Paper

Department of State sources also The Washington Post that the written US response will include US proposals in the security domain and will demonstrate the country’s interest in maintaining the dialogue with Moscow.

WASHINGTON, January 22. /TASS/. US officials have asked their Russian colleagues not to publish Washington’s written response to Moscow’s proposal on security guarantees, The Washignton Post has reported.

However, according to the paper, "a senior State Department official acknowledged that the Kremlin may decide to publish it after the United States sends it next week."

Department of State sources also told The Washington Post that the written US response will include US proposals in the security domain and will demonstrate the country’s interest in maintaining the dialogue with Moscow. At the same time, the document will not contain any commitments regarding NATO’s open-door policy and accession of new members.

However, the US administration believes that providing a written response is important, because in this case the document can be read directly by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"There‘s one decision-maker in Russia and it’s President Putin," the paper quoted another Biden administration official as saying. "If this then allows the ultimate decision-maker in Russia to looks at these ideas and decide whether to move forward, it’s in our interest."

"We don’t want to be the ones who foreclose a potential diplomatic solution," he added.

Following Friday’s meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in Geneva, Washington agreed to provide written responses to Moscow’s proposals on security guarantees. After that, the US Secretary of State and the Russian top diplomat plan to hold the next meeting. At a news conference after the meeting, Lavrov told reporters that, in his opinion, publishing the US response would be a right thing to do. However, Russia will request Blinken’s consent to do so, he added.

On December 17, 2021, the Russian Foreign Ministry released a draft agreement on security guarantees between Russia and the United States, and a draft agreement on ensuring the security of Russia and NATO member states. The proposed measures include guarantees that NATO will not advance eastward, including the accession of Ukraine and other countries into the alliance. They also impose restrictions on deployment of serious offensive weapons, including nuclear ones.

Consultations on the issue took place in Geneva on January 10, followed by a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council in Brussels on January 12 and a session of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Permanent Council in Vienna on January 13.

Lavrov Warns Blinken About Consequences of Ignoring Russia’s Concerns - Ministry

Foreign Minister said that the consequences can be avoided if Washington positively responds to Russian draft agreements on security guarantees

MOSCOW, January 21. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made it clear to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that further ignoring Russia’s legal concerns would entail the most serious consequences, the Russian foreign ministry said on Friday after the talks between the two top diplomats in Geneva.

"It was made clear to Antony Blinken that further ignoring Russia’s legal concerns, first of all, those linked with the United States’ and its NATO allies’ advance in Ukraine amid the large-scale deployment of the alliance’s forces and weapons near our border, will have the most serious consequences," it said.

"It can be avoided if Washington positively responds to our draft agreements on security guarantees. We expect to receive the American side’s written article-by-article response next week," the ministry said.

The sides also discussed bilateral relations and stated that they are "in an unsatisfactory state." "It was agreed to invigorate expert work to no

The situation in Ukraine was also among the topics at the talks. "Special attention was paid to the Ukrainian conflict. It was stressed that Kiev must fully implement the Package of Measures, including establishing direct dialogue with the LPR and DPR (Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics - TASS) authorities, as soon as possible," it said.

Apart from that, "the sides compared their positions on the prospects for the restoration of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear program," the ministry added.

US to Respond in Written to Russian Security Guarantee Initiatives Next Week — Blinken

The US Secretary of State also stressed that the sides had agreed to further discussions

GENEVA, January 21. /TASS/. The United States will give its written response to Russia’s security guarantee initiatives next week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva.

"I told him (Lavrov) that following the consultations that we'll have in the coming days with allies and partners, we anticipate that we will be able to share with Russia our concerns and ideas in more detail and in writing next week, and we agreed to further discussions after that," he said.

On December 17, 2021, the Russian Foreign Ministry published the draft agreements between Moscow and Washington on security guarantees and measures for ensuring the security of Russia and NATO member states.

Russian-US and Russian-NATO talks on security guarantees were held last week. On January 10, Geneva hosted Russia-US consultations on these matters. On January 12, a Russia-NATO Council meeting was held in Brussels, and a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council was held in Vienna on the following day.

Russia Does Not Rule Out Military Provocations from US, Kiev Regime - Diplomat

A Bloomberg publication that Chinese President Xi Jinping allegedly asked Russian President Vladimir Putin not to invade Ukraine during the Olympic Games is an operation of US intelligence agencies, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova Russian Foreign Ministry/TASS

MOSCOW, January 22. /TASS/. Moscow expects provocations from the United States and the US-led Kiev regime, without excluding military provocations, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Saturday.

"We are expecting provocations from the US and the Kiev regime led by them, both informational and, it cannot be ruled out, military ones," she wrote on her Telegram channel. "They may do it, especially since they have a plenty of experience."

Zakharova focused attention on the Bloomberg publication, which cited "one diplomat in Beijing," claiming that Chinese President Xi Jinping had allegedly asked Russian President Vladimer Putin.

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson noted ironically that "a diplomat in China" is actually Americans.

"No one who was supposed or who was likely to have this information was approached by ‘Bloomberg undercover journalists’ for confirmation. Although Bloomberg used to abide by a 'golden rule’ in the old and not so evil days that at least two, or even three, verified sources should confirm the information obtained," she said.

"I understand that, in the US media’s version, Russia should have ‘invaded’ [Ukraine] a long time ago," Zakharova continued ironically. "But we have never ‘invaded.’ By their logic, it is the perfect moment - the Olympics in China, which the US media have been smearing for months at Washington’s behest. Bloomberg mixes the two topics and shoots, but misses. Since everyone will remember now who does like to commit acts of aggression during the Olympic Games in China," she said.

The diplomat recalled that Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia took place in the run-up to the Beijing Summer Olympics in August 2008.

The West and Kiev have recently been spreading allegations about Russia’s potential ‘invasion’ of Ukraine. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov castigated these claims as "empty and unfounded", serving as a ploy to escalate tensions, pointing out that Russia did not pose any threat whatsoever to anyone. However, Peskov did not rule out the possibility of provocations aimed at justifying such allegations and warned that attempts to use military force to resolve the crisis in southeastern Ukraine would have serious consequences.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Vaccines to Africa Must Have Good Shelf Lives, Says Expert

By CHINEDU ASADU

January 20, 2022

A man receives an AstraZeneca vaccination against COVID-19, at a district health center giving first, second, and booster doses to eligible people, in the low-income Kibera neighborhood of Nairobi, Kenya Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. At least 2.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines donated to African countries have expired, the Africa Centers for Disease Control said Thursday, citing short shelf lives as the major reason. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga)

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — At least 2.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines donated to African countries have expired, the Africa Centers for Disease Control said Thursday, citing short shelf lives as the major reason.

Donors of vaccines to the continent should send them with a realistic shelf life of about “three months to six months” before their expiration, Africa CDC director John Nkengasong told an online briefing. More African nations are now refusing to accept donations of vaccines that have only one or two months before their expiration, he said.

Although the number of expired doses is only about 0.5% of the total number donated to Africa, Nkengasong said he is unhappy to see any become invalid.

“Any dose of vaccine that expired pains me because that is a life that can potentially be saved,” Nkengasong said.

Just over 10% of Africa’s population of 1.3 billion people are fully vaccinated, he said. The continent’s 54 countries have confirmed 10.4 million COVID-19 cases and 235,000 deaths. The continent’s omicron wave appears to be receding, with new confirmed cases down by 20% from the previous week and deaths dropping by 8%, the World Health Organization’s Africa office announced Thursday.

More than 60% of the 572 million vaccine doses African countries have received have already been administered, Nkengasong said. The “big fight” for African countries will be “logistics and getting doses to the population even as more supplies arrive,” he said.

“We’ve seen remarkable uptake of vaccines in settings where we engage the community … and religious leaders,” Nkengasong said, urging countries to use innovative ways to “bring vaccines to the population and not only require that the populations should go to where the vaccines are.”

In Nigeria, for instance, an increasing number of vaccination centers are being set at public facilities such as markets and motor parks and health authorities are collaborating with opinion leaders to fight hesitancy.

Vaccines are Africa’s “best defense” against severe illness, death and overwhelmed health systems, Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Africa director said at another online briefing Thursday.

“Africa must not only broaden vaccinations but also gain increased and equitable access to critical COVID-19 therapeutics to save lives and effectively combat this pandemic,” Moeti said. “The deep inequity that left Africa at the back of the queue for vaccines must not be repeated with life-saving treatments.”

In 2022, more testing is needed to fight the pandemic, said Harley Feldbaum of the Global Fund.

“We need to bring testing and treatment together in a much more rapid fashion,” said Feldbaum. “As long as we allow the pandemic to continue and to have inequitable access to tools, vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics, new variants are likely to rise, more people are likely to die than are needed to and the health systems overall are more likely to be undermined.”

Africa Renews Push for Favorable UN Security Council Reforms

By RODNEY MUHUMUZA

January 20, 2022

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Thursday urged U.N. Security Council reforms that would give Africa permanent representation there, saying such changes would prevent “aggression against Africa.”

Museveni spoke at a meeting attended by high-ranking officials representing 10 of the African Union’s 55 members. The meeting is the latest in a series focusing on changes at the Security Council that would favor the African continent of 1.3 billion people. A previous meeting called for at least two permanent seats with veto powers and two non-permanent ones.

“The U.N. Security Council should have been and must be reformed,” Museveni said. “This is not a favor by anybody but a right of all peoples that inhabit the planet Earth.”

The matter of reforming the 15-member council has provoked debate for decades. Its five permanent members reflect the international power structure at the end of World War II: the United States, China, Russia, France and Britain.

The council’s 10 other seats rotate among members who serve two-year terms. Gabon, Kenya and Ghana are among the council’s current 15 non-permanent members.

But African leaders have long asserted the continent’s right to stronger representation on the council.

Museveni called the current system “unfair,” adding that Africa must have a permanent seat “to ensure that it is not used negatively against Africa and that it is, instead, used positively for Africa and the rest of the world.”

The Ugandan president said reforms would stop what he described as “mistakes” such as the removal from power of the late Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi, who ruled for nearly 42 years before he was ousted by an uprising in 2011. He was captured and killed two months later.

While there is widespread support for revamping the Security Council to reflect current global realities, efforts have been mired in national and regional rivalries.

In 2005, deep divisions forced the General Assembly to shelve three rival resolutions on expansion. One sought permanent seats without veto power for Germany, Japan, Brazil and India on a 25-member council. A group of middle-ranking countries including Italy and Pakistan wanted a 25-member council with 10 new non-permanent seats. And the African Union wanted a 26-member council with six additional permanent seats, including two for Africa with veto power, and five non-permanent seats.

Omicron Surge is Undermining Care for Other Health Problems

By BEN FINLEY and KATE BRUMBACK

Roger Strukhoff 67, poses for a portrait Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022, in his DeKalb, Ill., home. Strukhoff was being treated for intestinal bleeding at a hospital outside Chicago this month when he suffered a mild heart attack. Normally, the medical staff would have sent Strukhoff to the intensive care unit, but, overrun with COVID-19 patients, the staff instead had to wheel a heart monitor into his room and quickly administer nitroglycerin and morphine. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Roger Strukhoff was being treated for intestinal bleeding at a hospital outside Chicago this month when he suffered a mild heart attack.

Normally, the 67-year-old would have been sent to the intensive care unit. But Strukhoff said it was overrun with COVID-19 patients, and the staff instead had to wheel a heart monitor into his room and quickly administer nitroglycerin and morphine.

“A doctor I know pretty well said, ‘Roger, we’re going to have to improvise right here,’” said Strukhoff, who lives in DeKalb, Illinois.

The omicron surge this winter has not only swamped U.S. hospitals with record numbers of patients with COVID-19, it has also caused frightening moments and major headaches for people trying to get treatment for other ailments.

Less-urgent procedures have been put on hold around the country, such as cochlear implant surgeries and steroid injections for rheumatoid arthritis. And people with all sorts of medical complaints have had to wait in emergency rooms for hours longer than usual.

Mat Gleason said he wheeled his 92-year-old father, Eugene Gleason, into a Los Angeles-area emergency room last week for a transfusion to treat a blood disorder. It should have taken about seven to 10 hours, Gleason said, but his dad was there for 48 hours.

He said his father called him after 10 hours, asking for a blanket.

“He told me later, ’I just assumed they forgot about me,” said Gleason, 57, who works as an art critic. “And yet he wasn’t the only person in that room. There were dozens of people” But Gleason added: “I’m not begrudging the hospital at all. They did a great job.”

An average of almost 144,000 people were in the hospital in the U.S. with COVID-19 as of Tuesday, the highest level on record, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hospitals in a few states such as New York and Connecticut that experienced early omicron surges are starting to see an easing of the patient load, but many other places are overwhelmed.

Hospitals say the COVID-19 patients aren’t as sick as those during the last surge. And many of them are being admitted for reasons other than COVID-19 and only incidentally testing positive for the virus.

Rick Pollack, CEO and president of the American Hospital Association, said the surge has had a widespread effect on the availability of care for people who have non-COVID-19 health problems. He said a number of factors are at play: More people are in the hospital, and a high number of health care workers are out with COVID-19, worsening staffing shortages that existed well before the pandemic.

As of Wednesday, roughly 23% of hospitals nationwide were reporting critical staff shortages, Pollack said.

Many people are also unable or unwilling to seek care for symptoms that do not seem like emergencies, he said. Pollack said that has led to delays in diagnosing conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure that get worse the longer they go untreated.

Dr. Claudia Fegan, chief medical officer for Cook County Health in Chicago, said some people, particularly older patients, have been avoiding checkups and other routine care during the pandemic out of fear of COVID-19.

And as a result, “the patients we’re seeing now are much sicker,” she said, citing cases of advanced heart failure and cancer that might have been diagnosed earlier.

Mike Bawden, a 59-year-old marketing consultant with a history of blood clots in his lungs, said he couldn’t get an appointment to see his doctor in Davenport, Iowa, because his coughing symptoms were too similar to COVID-19. The doctor’s office was concerned about the virus spreading to others.

After nearly two weeks, Bawden went to a walk-in clinic, which sent him to the emergency room at Genesis Medical Center-East in Davenport. He said he waited almost six hours in an overflowing ER before he was seen. A scan showed clots in his lungs, as he suspected, and he was prescribed blood thinners.

If not for the surge, Bawden said, he would have gotten a scan much earlier at a doctor’s office.

“It’s always so easy to Monday morning quarterback the ER, but everyone was really nice — even the other patients,” Bawden said. “I think it’s important for folks to realize that nobody’s the villain.”

Craig Cooper, a Genesis spokesman, declined to comment on any individual cases. But he said in an email: “We are not exempt from the challenges medical centers across the United States are experiencing because of significant impact from COVID. We urge individuals to get vaccinated.”

Strukhoff, who is a researcher for tech startups, said he arrived at Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital in DeKalb for what he suspected was internal bleeding.

He was diagnosed and given a bed in the emergency room. He waited there for six hours, feeling dizzy, before he was wheeled to his own room through hallways where people lay on stretchers.

“I was in no distress at that point,” Strukhoff said. “I was worried about clogging up the works in the emergency room and taking up a spot for other people.”

Christopher King, a spokesman for Northwestern Medicine, declined to comment on Strukhoff’s care because of privacy laws. But he confirmed that wait times were higher than normal throughout the hospital system, as they are across the country.

Strukhoff said that once he got his own hospital room, a colonoscopy revealed the bleeding. Doctors treated it by cauterizing a vein. He then suffered the heart attack while he was recovering. He said it took five hours for him to get into the ICU.

“It’s not something they were set up to do, but they did it,” Strukhoff said of the doctors and nurses who rose to the challenge. “These people are heroes.”

Latin America, Asia Latest to Get Hit with Omicron Surge

By JAVIER CÓRDOBA and CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN

Wearing masks to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, people wait for a traffic light to change before crossing a street in San Jose, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Carlos Gonzalez)

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) — In Costa Rica, officials are encouraging those infected with the coronavirus to skip voting in upcoming national elections. On the other side of the world, Beijing is locking down residential communities as the country anxiously awaits the start of the Winter Olympics on Feb. 4.

In Latin America and Asia, where the omicron variant is making its latest appearance, some countries are imposing such restrictions while others are loath to place new limits on populations already exhausted by previous constraints.

Omicron quickly swept through the places it first hit, such as South Africa, the U.K. and the United States, pushing daily cases far higher than at any time during the pandemic.

The Americas reported nearly 7.2 million new COVID infections and more than 15,000 COVID-related deaths over the past week, the Pan American Health Organization said Wednesday. Coronavirus infections across the Americas almost doubled between Jan. 1 and Jan. 8, from 3.4 million cases to 6.1 million, PAHO said.

Infections are accelerating in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia and Peru, and hospitalizations are rising in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, said PAHO Director Carissa Etienne. The Caribbean islands are experiencing their steepest increase in COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, Etienne noted.

“Although omicron infections appear to be milder, we continue to urge caution because the virus is spreading more actively than ever before,” Etienne said.

Infections are also increasing in Asia, including in the Philippines, which has seen its worst coronavirus outbreak in recent weeks.

Countries in both regions are searching for a mix of restrictions that their exhausted populations will accept and that won’t inflict undue damage on their economies.

“We’re already going on three years of the pandemic and the population is tired,” said Brazil’s president of the Council of State Health Secretariats, Carlos Lula. “There is no space for many restrictions. We’re going to have to face a third wave with precautions like masking, distancing and vaccination.”

Argentina and Mexico also have largely ruled out imposing any national restrictions, instead banking on their vaccination campaigns and the apparently less severe symptoms of the omicron variant.

Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, having just emerged from a week of isolation after his second coronavirus infection in the past year, downplayed the threat. “It is demonstrable that this variant does not have the same seriousness as the earlier, the delta,” López Obrador said this week.

Antonio Pérez, 67, runs a small stand in a Mexico City market selling notebooks, pens and other school supplies. He was forced to shutter his shop for three months early in the pandemic, rocking him financially. But he agreed with the government’s decision then — a time when little was known about the virus’s spread and no one was vaccinated — and with the hands-off approach now, when most of the population is vaccinated and there is less pressure on hospitals.

Immunization, masks and social distancing are the way to go now, he said, speaking through his own N95 mask. “I don’t think you can do anything else.”

Some states in Brazil have reimposed restrictions but stopped short of closing down businesses as they did last year. Peru, however, has revived a nationwide curfew, and Ecuador has banned public and private events or large gatherings of any kind.

In Costa Rica, public health concerns are colliding with constitutional guarantees for the Feb. 6 presidential and congressional elections. Authorities concede they can’t stop people from voting, but Eugenia Zamora, president of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, recently told news outlets that those who test positive for coronavirus should “abstain” from going out to vote.

Demographer Luis Rosero said that according to his projections, the new wave of infections could peak right around election day. Under current health protocols, those who test positive in Costa Rica are obligated to isolate.

Costa Rica’s daily confirmed infection totals have risen from fewer than 100 in December to more than 5,000 this month. So far, however, the government has imposed few restrictions, such as requiring soccer clubs to play without fans.

Two other Central American countries, Panama and Honduras, have not imposed any restrictions despite seeing their cases more than double during the past week.

Puerto Rico, among the hardest-hit places in the Caribbean amid the region’s current surge, tightened restrictions again this month after the U.S. territory saw its COVID-19 test positivity rate jump from 5% late last year to more than 40% in recent weeks.

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi has required that those working in the health, food, education, tourism and entertainment sectors get their booster shots, as well as public school students age 12 and older. He also reinstated a ban on alcohol sales from 12 a.m. to 5 a.m. and prohibited most businesses from operating during those hours.

In Chile, infections grew 151% in one week, but the only restriction the government has imposed so far is to lower the capacity limit for public spaces. The country has a high vaccination rate, with more than 92% of those 18 and older and 78% of minors having received two doses. The government started offering a fourth dose this month.

Still, in some South American countries, omicron is having a dire effect.

A major hospital in Bolivia’s largest city stopped admitting new patients because of a lack of personnel, and one of Brazil’s most populous states canceled scheduled surgeries for a month. Argentina’s federation of private health care providers estimates about 15% of its workers currently have the virus.

In Asia, South Korea actually eased its restrictions on gatherings slightly this week. But officials have expressed concern about a surge in infections over the Lunar New Year holiday, which begins at the end of the month, when millions of people usually travel across the country to meet relatives.

In China, Beijing has moved classes online and locked down some office buildings. Japan, meanwhile, is maintaining strict border controls as infections surge, but otherwise doing little more than shortening business hours for restaurants and bars.

Hong Kong authorities have banned indoor dining after 6 p.m. and ordered certain businesses, such as museums and gyms, to close until at least early February. The city is also culling small animals including hamsters and chinchillas and halting their import and sales after several hamsters in a pet shop tested positive for the coronavirus.

In the Philippines, officials this week started banning commuters who have not been fully vaccinated from riding public transportation in greater Manila, a region of more than 13 million people. The move sparked protests from human rights groups. Daily confirmed infections soared from a few hundred last month to more than 30,000 in recent days.

Roman Catholic Church leaders in the Philippines capital were forced to cancel the Jan. 9 procession of the Black Nazarene, a centuries-old black statue of Jesus Christ, for a second year. Because the event is one of Asia’s biggest religious festivals, drawing millions of mostly barefoot pilgrims, officials feared it could become a superspreader during the omicron surge.

Warning that the sometimes-weaker omicron variant can still kill, President Rodrigo Duterte implored people to get fully immunized.

“If you’re vaccinated, you have a fighting chance. If not, we’ll be burying, filling our cemeteries,” Duterte said in televised remarks.

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Sherman reported from Mexico City. Associated Press writers Débora Alvares in Rio de Janeiro; Gonzalo Solano in Quito, Ecuador; Almudena Calatrava in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Dánica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Franklin Briceño in Lima, Peru; Carlos Valdez in La Paz, Bolivia; Eva Vergara in Santiago, Chile; Gisela Salomon in Miami; Zen Soo in Hong Kong; Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines; Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo; and Tong-hyung Kim in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report.