Sunday, January 22, 2017

Towards Record Gold Output in Zimbabwe
SUNDAY MAIL REPORTER

Below are excerpts of the speech by Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa at the inaugural 2016 Gold Sector Awards held in Harare last Friday.

Hon Walter Chidhakwa

Traditionally, the mining industry has been very important to the economy of Zimbabwe. The sector generates considerable employment, foreign currency earnings, infrastructure development and attracts significant foreign direct investment.

The gold sector, in particular, is estimated to provide employment to more than 200 000 as small scale and artisanal miners and about 10 500 from large scale producers.

The sector is, therefore, estimated to employ about 25 percent of the mining sector’s formal employment.

In 2014, the gold sector generated US$687million which rose to US$737 million in 2015 and US$914 million in 2016 in terms of export earnings.

This sector, and the mining industry in general, has been a central pivot in economic development contributing:
◆ more than 53 percent of the nation’s total exports from 2009 to date;
◆ 7 to 10 percent of fiscal revenue;
◆ about 45 000 formal jobs (and more than 300 000 as small scale and artisanal miners);
◆ more than 50 percent of the $1, 9 billion foreign direct investment inflows since 2009.

Last year, most major minerals recorded higher performance compared to 2015 despite the challenges of depressed international commodity prices, depreciating regional currencies and a firming US dollar that we largely use; and lack of access to affordable funding.

This is also despite the local debilitating factors such as power shortages and the liquidity crunch that were working, not only against mining operations, but the economy as a whole. However, the gold sector defied all odds to become the number one performer.

In line with our ZimAsset agenda, on 14 November 2014, Government announced strategies to revitalise the gold sector through the formation of the Gold Mobilisation Technical Committee, to ensure that the nation derives maximum benefits from the gold sector.

The measures that had been implemented this far has seen a tremendous increase in gold production and deliveries to Fidelity Printers and Refiners. We therefore would like to acclaim players in the gold sector for the tremendous work done.

Role of the gold sector

Zimbabwe’s rich endowment of gold has, historically; lead the country to be ranked as one of the leading gold producers after countries such as South Africa and Ghana, when the country was the third largest producer on the continent. The gold sector in Zimbabwe is mainly comprised of large scale and small scale producers.

While the large scale producers have a full complement of operations, most of the small scale producers do not.

These then take their production to central processing facilities, thereby creating business opportunities for custom milling and other elution plants operators.

The gold sector value chain has diversified giving birth to forward, side and backward linkages, thereby promoting economic multiplier effects through activities such as supplies of goods and services and value addition and beneficiation of the precious mineral.

Historically, the local manufacturing sector provided various consumables to mining companies.

The clarification by His Excellency the President, Cde R. G. Mugabe, early last year on the 75 percent local content aims to develop backward linkages into the manufacturing sector as consumables being produced locally, together with salaries, taxes and other local expenditures, will achieve the 75 percent requirement.

Furthermore, the gold sector continues to play a critical role in the achievement of the value addition and beneficiation policy instituted by Government which has also seen jewelry making companies such as Aurex benefiting from forward linkages developed from the gold sector.

According to Chamber of Mines, in 2015 the gold sector directly contributed 4 percent to GDP, 22 percent to total export earnings, 4 percent to fiscal revenue and 28 percent to foreign direct investment. In 2016, the gold sector further contributed 47 percent of mineral export surpassing other keys minerals such as platinum, nickel and diamonds.

Gold production

The gold sector has traversed an oscillating trajectory over the past two decades.

The highest gold output was recorded in 1999 at 27,1 tonnes which subsequently dropped to 3,6 tonnes in 2008 due to structural challenges such as foreign currency and power shortages.

However, with the institution of various policy measures, gold production assumed an upward trend from the 3,6 tonnes recoded in 2008 to 12, 8 tonnes in 2011; 14,7 tonnes in 2012; 20 tonnes in 2015 and 23 tonnes in 2016.

A significant increase in gold deliveries by the small scale sector was also recorded in 2015, reaching 7,532kg from 3,938kg in 2014, representing 40 percent of national gold deliveries.

In 2016, gold deliveries from small scale producers increased to 9,680kgs.

The small scale gold miners delivered more gold to Fidelity Printers and Refiners in the fourth quarter of 2016 at 3,163,145kgs while the large scale producers delivered 2,958,58kg during the same period.

Large scale gold producers’ deliveries marginally increased over the period as some mines were being mothballed for various reasons ranging from low ore grades, unsustainable power regime, high labour costs and low commodity prices, resulting in unsustainably high production costs.

In 2017, the country’s national gold delivery target is 28 tonnes and I am confident that this target will be attained, if not surpassed.

I would like, at this juncture, to seriously pose a challenge to the gold sector, that if we are able to meet the 28 tonnes by 31st December 2017, I propose to remove royalties for gold which currently stand at 1 percent for small scale producers and 3 percent for the large scale producers. I have already consulted with the Minister of Finance and Economic Development in this regard and we are still discussing this proposal. However, its success also hinges on the gold sector’s uptake of this initiative.

Various intervention and incentives are also in place to increase gold production capacity and these include finalisation and operationalisation of the USD 100 million Gold facilities from South Korea and the USD 20 million gold development initiative from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

It is with this in mind that before we get down to the business of ensuring we achieve our 2017 target, we start the year by recognising players that have excelled in various categories of the gold industry.
President Mugabe’s China Master-stroke
KUDA BWITITI
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

President Mugabe’s recent meeting with his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jingping has started bearing fruits as several Chinese investors are already in the country to effect deals under Special Economic Zones.

On the other hand, Zimbabwe has started reaping rewards from the US$60 billion fund under the Forum on China-Africa Corporation (FOCAC), as economic co-operation between Harare and Beijing is expected to soar in 2017.

This comes as a latest update from the Chinese embassy in Harare.

Most of the deals signed between Harare and Beijing are at various stages of implementation.

A few weeks ago, President Robert Mugabe met his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping in Beijing with the Oriental State’s leader making a firm pledge to enhance economic co-operation between the two countries and also committing to complete implementation of the mega deals.

President Xi’s strong affirmation was a clear sign that the world’s second largest economy means business in its engagement with Zimbabwe.

In an apparent heed to their leaders’ call, a number of Chinese investors are set to invest in the country through the SEZ model, which involves turning geographical areas that are endowed with economic potential into industrial growth centres.

Last week, Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe His Excellency Huang Ping said everything points to greater co-operation between Zimbabwe and China in 2017 following the meeting between President Mugabe and President Xi.

“I was honoured to attend the meeting and witnessed with my own eyes as the two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to stronger bilateral relations and more fruitful practical co-operation,” said Ambassador Huang.

“Such high-level reception for leaders on vacation has never been seen before in China.

“It gives me and my colleagues in the Embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China more confidence and motivation to work even harder in 2017 and make sure we turn such a vision into reality.”

In an interview with The Sunday Mail, chargé d’affaires at the Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe Mr Zhao Baogang said numerous Chinese investors are eyeing to invest in SEZs.

He said the recent signing of the SEZ Act into law by President Mugabe had jolted many Chinese firms to invest in Zimbabwe, as they are familiar with the model which has yielded success in their home country.

“There are a number of companies that have come to Harare to do business investigation studies since the Special Economic Zones became law.

“In general, they are happy to see that you have the Special Economic Zones. Now they are doing some research to see how they can invest.”

Mr Zhao said among the companies that have expressed interest to invest in the country so far, a top Chinese firm – Hualong – has shown eagerness to immediately splash its investment.

“Hualong has already said that they are going to invest. So far they have established offices in the country and they are targeting the construction sector and tourism.” Mr Zhao said some of the companies that have made inquiries so far are engaging with Government.

He said China’s imports bill is set to rise to US$8 trillion in the next five years, up from US$2 trillion, thereby offering massive economic opportunities for its friends such as Zimbabwe.

Turning to the US$60 billion that was pledged by China for African countries under the auspices of the FOCAC, Mr Zhao said Zimbabwe is one of the beneficiaries of the fund.

“At the FOCAC summit, held in South Africa, the Chinese Government promised that it would provide US$60 billion for Africa.

“What you need to understand is that it is project based. It does not mean that China will cut the US$60 billion and divide it among the 54 African countries. This depends on all the projects which are on the table.

“So proposals have to be made to the Chinese Government and to the Chinese banks. Feasibility studies are then done and if we see that the project is feasible we will provide fund for such projects. The New Parliament Building as well as the Victoria Falls Airport can therefore be seen as being part of this fund.”

On the mega deals signed in 2014 when President Mugabe visited Beijing, as well as in 2015, when President Xi visited Harare, Mr Zhao said most of the projects are being implemented.

“We have to differentiate the Memorandum of Association and actual contracts signed. Most of the deals are on course and they are being implemented.”

Mr Zhao said construction of the new Parliament building is set to commence soon with China having already committed US$46 million for the first phase of building works.

In his presentation during the 2nd China-Zimbabwe Media Forum held recently, deputy general manager of Sino-Hydro Mr Wang Jian said one of the mega deals, the Kariba South Hydro Power plant expansion, is now nearing completion.

The project has created 1 500 jobs to date.

“75 percent of civil works have been completed while 30 percent of mechanical installations have been done. The first unit will start to generate power at the end of 2017,” he said.

He said the second unit will be up and running by March next year, adding a total of 300 MW to the national grid.

Since its official commencement in 2014, the Kariba South Extension project has progressed with considerable speed and is clear evidence of successful implementation of the mega deals.

Sino-Hydro has also signed an agreement with the Zimbabwe Government to construct the US$600 million Kunzvi Dam.

Mr Zhao said commendable progress has been made on the US$1, 4 billion construction of Hwange 7 and 8 Power Plants.

“Cooperation is going on and I understand that the two parties are still talking on the agreement.”

The US$150 million expansion of the Victoria Falls International Airport was recently successfully completed.

The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development has since revealed that it has engaged the same Chinese financier and contractor for the expansion of Harare International Airport.

China has also released $65 million for NetOne’s network expansion as part of the US$218, 9 million concessional loan signed by Government under the company’s Phase II project.

The loan agreement carries an interest rate of 2 percent per annum and is payable over a period of 20 years.

China also provided US$144 million for the rehabilitation of Harare’s Morton Jeffrey Water plant.

To fulfil the deal signed on providing food aid, China has availed 19 700 metric tonnes of rice worth US$24, 6 million while also providing 10 000 tonnes of urea fertiliser.

The Asian giant capacitated the National Parks and Wildlife with state of the art equipment for wildlife protection valued at millions of dollars.

Addressing journalists on the sidelines of a tour of the China Industrial International Group of Zimbabwe (CIIG) last week, Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa said more Chinese markets are going to be opened for Zimbabwe’s agriculture products this year. “We are exploring Chinese markets to be opened for Zimbabwean agriculture products inclusive of horticulture, beef, poultry and stock feeds.”

Minister Chinamasa said China is set to partner Zimbabwe for more SEZ with two initial projects identified in Mazowe and Norton for agriculture.
Angola and Spain Consider New Security Deal
Luanda — Angola and Spain are considering to sign a new cooperation accord in the field of security and internal order.

This was said Wednesday in Luanda by the secretary of State for Home Affairs, Hermenegildo Félix.

Addressing the ceremony of award of the Spain Order of Civil Merit to Angolan commissioner José Dembi, the official said the deal will give a new boost to the existing relations.

He reiterated Angola's readiness to continue cooperating with Spain in the security and internal order, with mutually advantageous results.

The official stated that over the last few years, cooperation between both countries has recorded significant progress with reciprocal advantages and boosted by the implementation of diversified projects in various spheres of the national affairs.

Hermenegildo Félix added that the cooperation between the ministries of Interior of Angola and Spain are based on various legal instruments that govern existing bilateral relations concerning security and internal order signed in June 1997 in Madrid.

According to him, Spain is among the countries that have since long assisted Angola with the preservation of its independence,.

Currently, the official also stated, Spain is playing a relevant role in the national reconstruction process and the country's economic growth and development.

In her turn, the Angolan ambassador to Spain, Júlia Olmo, highlighted that the two countries enjoy a strong and fruitful friendship since 1977

Spain's Civil Guard is considered one of the most prestigious security bodies in Europe, with a long history that dates back to the XV Century.
Army Mutiny Exposes Cracks in Ivory Coast Neo-colonial Project
Soldiers of Ivory Coast presidential guard patrol as they arrive at the port of Abidjan, Ivory Coast January 18, 2017. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

By Joe Bavier | ABIDJAN

Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara has seduced foreign investors with his single-minded focus on economic reform and growth but entrenched problems within the security forces threaten to undermine a much-lauded recovery.

Split from 2002 to 2011 between rebels in the north and government forces in the south, Ivory Coast has since become one of the world's fastest growing economies and is regularly cited as a model of post-conflict renewal.

But that narrative was dealt a major blow this month when thousands of soldiers, mostly former rebels who battled for years to get Ouattara into power, mutinied and seized control of the country's second biggest city.

The government capitulated rapidly and met demands for bonus payments the soldiers said they were promised when fighting to oust former President Laurent Gbagbo, who lost a disputed election to Ouattara in 2010 but refused to quit.

While many foreign investors are looking past the uprising as a relatively minor hiccup, analysts and diplomats see it as warning of more trouble to come, not least because it was the second mutiny in three years and has triggered similar revolts by security forces left out of the deal.

"It's not enough just to focus on the economy and attract investors. What's happening in the army should be the government's priority," said International Crisis Group's (ICG) West Africa analyst Cynthia Ohayon. "Ouattara's own stability is at stake."

ALL CARROT, NO STICK

The immediate issues date back to the aftermath of the civil war in 2011 that ended nearly a decade of geographical division in Ivory Coast and put Ouattara in power.

Thousands of former rebels who backed him became part of the army, as well as other branches of the security forces, the forestry service, customs offices and the prison system, rubbing shoulders with former foes.

But six years, on the country's security apparatus remains riven by factions.

In 2011, analysts said the new administration needed to get a grip on the situation quickly by imposing discipline, vetting the rank and file to trim the army down to a size in keeping with Ivory Coast's few external threats and controlling the stockpiles of weapons amassed in recent years.

Analysts say this did not happen because rebel commanders, some of whom led the 2002 uprising that split the country, remained in control of much of the army through parallel chains of command that Ouattara shied away from breaking.

With little leverage or control over its own military, the government's approach has been to throw money at flare-ups, as it did with a similar mutiny in 2014, and do little else.

"Right now all these deals are all carrot and no stick," said a regional security official.

Ouattara now finds himself hostage to his army with little option to pay up, said ICG's Ohayon, but that is an unsustainable and potentially expensive strategy fraught with risks.

"Where are they going to find all the money if you keep having groups of soldiers rising up demanding more money?" Ohayon said. "If you look at what happened in 1999, it started off as a mutiny. It ended as a coup and then there were years of crisis."

TIDE LIFTS ALL BOATS

Ouattara's focus on the economy above all to make things better harks back to the tactics employed by the country's founding President Felix Houphouet-Boigny, who ruled after independence from France in 1960 until his death in 1993.

He encouraged millions of migrants from neighboring countries to come and work the land. That transformed the country into a giant agricultural machine, exporting cash crops and using the proceeds to build motorways and skyscrapers.

Ivory Coast remains the world's biggest cocoa producer and investment in infrastructure following the years of crisis has helped the economy expand at an average annual rate of nearly 9 percent from 2012 to 2015.

An economist by training, Ouattara has been governor of the Central Bank of West African States and a deputy managing director at the International Monetary Fund.

"He's using a strategy that a rising tide lifts all boats. If you can just push through, the economic improvements will take care of the rest," said one Abidjan-based diplomat.

Yet despite the abundance of luxury cars and new shopping malls in the commercial capital Abidjan, few have seen the benefits of the near double-digit growth and many Ivorians are losing patience.

Teachers went on strike in November. Civil servants walked out last week demanding nearly $400 million in back wages and students took to the streets on Monday.

But the army is the most pressing risk, and the country's history shows it is ignored at its peril.

BRIGHT FUTURE AT RISK

Under Houphouet-Boigny, Ivory Coast maintained very close ties with Paris, including an agreement that France would ensure its internal and external security. Given that, he did little to create a working military with a sense of loyalty to the state.

And it was the military that first undermined the veneer of stability Houphouet-Boigny had maintained in a region plagued by coups and civil wars elsewhere.

"They always relied on the French for protection. So the military became, and continues to be, an employment organization," said the regional security official.

Since 1990, Ivorian soldiers have staged no fewer than 11 mutinies, according to data compiled by Maggie Dwyer, a research fellow at the University of Edinburgh.

A pay dispute in 1999 degenerated into Ivory Coast's first coup d'etat, which ousted President Henri Konan Bedie and installed a military junta.

In 2002, northern soldiers decrying discrimination within the army and Ouattara's exclusion from a 2000 presidential election tried to overthrow President Gbagbo. They failed, but the putsch sparked the civil war that rent the country in two until the next civil war in 2011.

Today, soldiers complain they must pay for uniforms out of their meager salaries. At bases in Abidjan, not far from the construction sites for a luxury marina and high-rise apartment blocks, they grow vegetables to supplement their diets.

The latest revolt was carried out by many of the same soldiers who were paid off after the 2014 mutiny. But again the government cut a deal - and fired the heads of the army, police and gendarmerie for good measure.

Ivorian authorities have not released details but mutiny leaders say the deal included a payment of 12 million CFA francs ($19,400) in bonuses to some 8,400 former rebel fighters - a hefty price tag of some $160 million, if true.

While the government probably had little choice but to capitulate to avoid the mutiny spiraling out of control, ICG's Ohayon said such payoffs were no substitute for the more difficult but absolutely essential military reforms required.

First off, the settlement exposes the government's susceptibility to blackmail and has already encouraged similar revolts this week by jealous soldiers who did not participate in the mutiny and were not paid off.

Looking further ahead, the risk that factions within the army could be mobilized to support rival political camps ahead of the 2020 presidential election remains.

Ouattara has said he will step down and jockeying for position by pretenders such as Guillaume Soro, the former head of the northern rebellion, is already underway.

None of this bodes well for Ivory Coast's long-term political stability and what many investors had viewed as its bright economic future.

"You don't even know on your own staff who is with them," one senior army officer said after the latest revolt exposed the depth of the divisions within the ranks.

"Even if during the day out of respect one might say he is with you, at night he's with them.

($1 = 618.9400 CFA francs)

(Removes reference in par 39 to removal of two-term limit for president)

(Additional reporting by Ange Aboa; editing by David Clarke and Ralph Boulton)
U.S. Removes Libya From List of Zones With Looser Rules for Drone Strikes
By CHARLIE SAVAGE
New York Times

WASHINGTON — Before ceding power, the Obama administration quietly removed a former extremist stronghold in Libya from a list of combat zones where United States counterterrorism drone strikes are authorized without obeying special rules intended to prevent civilian deaths, officials said on Friday.

The change means that as Donald J. Trump’s presidency begins, the United States is targeting Islamist militants in three known “areas of active hostilities,” where strict guidelines to protect civilians do not apply: Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. For much of 2016, there was a fourth: The region around Surt, Libya.

It is not clear whether Mr. Trump will keep those civilian-protection rules — called the “Presidential Policy Guidance,” or P.P.G. — for airstrikes outside of active war zones. Issued by Mr. Obama in 2013, they require “near certainty” that a bombing will kill no civilians, and that the target must pose a threat to Americans — not just to American interests.

The Obama administration developed the guidelines in response to criticism that airstrikes were killing too many civilians, and in turn fueling anti-Americanism and helping terrorists recruit new members. But some military and C.I.A. officials have chafed under the limits.

Mr. Trump’s team has not said what it will do with the 2013 rules. But a statement posted on the White House website after he was sworn in on Friday said the new administration would “pursue aggressive joint and coalition military operations when necessary” to defeat the Islamic State.

Last August, after the fledgling Libyan government asked for help in dislodging militants from the city of Surt, the Obama administration quietly designated it an “area of active hostilities,” where the guidelines to prevent civilian deaths did not apply. The change gave the military a freer hand to target Islamic State fighting positions and equipment. Under ordinary combat rules established by the laws of war, some bystander deaths are permissible if deemed necessary and proportionate.

At the time, the government did not announce that Mr. Obama had exempted Surt from the extra safeguards established by the 2013 rules. The New York Times first reported the change in late November.

Between August and December, the military said it carried out 435 airstrikes to drive out the Islamic State from Surt, a campaign called Operation Odyssey Lightning. It concluded the campaign on Dec. 19.

But Mr. Obama this week briefly turned Odyssey Lightning back on, and expanded its geographic scope, to authorize a major airstrike on Jan. 19 against suspected Islamic State training camps in the desert about 25 miles southwest of Surt. The bombings killed more than 80 militants, the military said. It did not report any civilian deaths, but said it was still evaluating the results.

In response to questions from The Times on Friday, officials at the Pentagon said that when Odyssey Lightning ended last month, so also did the military’s authority to carry out airstrikes in Surt without obeying the 2013 rules. But when Mr. Obama briefly revived the operation for the strikes this week, its exemption from those rules was temporarily turned back on too, they said.

Col. Mark Cheadle, a spokesman for the United States Africa Command, said the expanded targeting authority expired again at midnight between Jan. 19 and Jan. 20, and now “there are no more” areas in Libya where the 2013 rules do not apply.

The administration had offered a clue that Surt was no longer exempted from the 2013 rules in a report the Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued late Thursday.

The report summarized official estimates of militants and civilians killed last year in counterterrorism airstrikes where the 2013 safeguards generally applied. But it also mentioned that areas of active hostilities, where the protections do not apply, currently include Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. It made no mention of Libya.

The report also said that in 2016, the United States carried out 53 such airstrikes that killed between 431 and 441 militants and one civilian. Those figures apparently include a huge airstrike in Somalia in March that killed about 150 people at what the military said was a graduation ceremony for Islamist fighters.

The government disclosed Thursday’s report under an executive order Mr. Obama issued last July requiring annual public disclosure of casualty estimates from counterterrorism airstrikes away from active-hostilities zones. That order was part of a broader effort late in Mr. Obama’s tenure to make the government less secretive about drone strikes. It is also not clear whether Mr. Trump will keep that requirement.

Follow Charlie Savage on Twitter @charlie_savage.
Italy Says Its Embassy Personnel Is Safe After Libya Bombing
January 21 at 6:04 PM

ROME — Italy’s foreign ministry says the staff at its embassy in Tripoli, Libya, are all safe after a car bombing “in the vicinity of the Italian and Egyptian embassies” in that city.

The ministry said late Saturday that a vehicle “full of explosives” blew up earlier in the evening and that “it seems” there were two victims, who presumably were the two people in the car.

Italy said that Libyan authorities have stepped up security near the Italian embassy, which was recently re-opened.

Rome, the former colonial power and participant in the 2011 NATO seven-month long bombing of the country. says it wants a unity government in Libya. The North African country has been wracked by fighting and other violence involving rival militias after the counter-revolution against the longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.
Regional African States Reject Foreign Intervention in Libya
22 Jan, 2017 03:59
Rt.com

Libya's neighbors have rejected any foreign intervention into the north-African state as the fighting between various armed factions rages on - six years six years since the fall of colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The 10th ministerial meeting of Libya’s neighboring countries, held in the Egyptian capital Cairo on Saturday, reaffirmed the need of maintaining Libya's stability, unity and sovereignty.

The final communique agreed on a "rejection of any external interference in the internal affairs of Libya."

The announcement was made just days after US B-2s and Reaper drones bombarded Islamic State [IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL] training camps in Libya, killing around 80 jihadists. That strike was initiated under the previous Barack Obama administration in coordination with Libya’s UN backed Government of National Accord (GNA).

Reports have also been circulating in the media, throughout last year, that a small number of US and British special operations teams have been seen on the ground in Libya.

Following the meeting, the ministers reiterated their "categorical rejection of a military solution to the Libyan crisis given the negative implications for the security and stability of Libya in particular, and for the neighboring countries in general," the communique said.

Libya has been torn apart by fighting between different armed gangs and the two rival governments following the US-backed bombing campaign of the country in 2011, which toppled the country's long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The uncontrolled flow of migrants fleeing the war-torn state, attempting to get to Europe, contrasts sharply with the mass infiltration of Islamist militants, have seen the country engulfed in chaos ever since.

Libya is currently in a state of a civil war. The ongoing conflict is spurred by rival groups and factions, including IS, seeking control, as well as the internationally-recognized government in Tobruk, the GNA, and the Tripoli-based General National Congress (GNC).

Saturday’s meeting was attended by the foreign ministers of Egypt, Chad, Niger, Libya, Algeria, and Tunisia. UN envoy Martin Kobler, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Abul-Gheit, and African Union envoy Jakaya Kikwete were also present.

Following a full day of discussions, the delegations agreed that only a "comprehensive political dialogue" between all Libya parties is the only way out of this crisis.
Libya's Neighbors Reject Military Intervention in the Country
Ahram Online
Saturday 21 Jan 2017

Libya's neighbours call for political dialogue to replace military action inside Libya, and for a new national unity government to be selected and afforded the confidence of parliament


Representatives of Libya’s neighbours rejected Saturday any proposal of military intervention in the country. The rejection was voiced during a conference in Cairo held to discuss solutions for the ongoing Libyan crisis.

In a final statement of the ministerial meeting of countries neighbouring Libya, foreign ministers called on the Libyan Presidential Council to form a national unity government that would represent all political powers in Libya, and that it be given the confidence of the Libyan parliament.

The statement also underlined the principles of the Skhirat agreement, which was signed in Morocco in 2015, as the only way out to the Libyan crisis, asserting the necessity of keeping Libya stable, united, secure and civil, with full sovereignty over its lands, preservation of legitimate Libyan institutions, and keeping the Libyan army unified.

The foreign ministers attending the meeting also called for political dialogue instead of use of military force as a solution for the current crisis, while affirming that fighting terrorist groups in Libya should be done in accordance with international law.

The ministers also expressed concern about the humanitarian situation of the Libyan people, calling on the international community to coordinate with Libya's legitimate authorities to respond to human needs, especially the lack of medication and medical supplies.

Cairo’s Saturday meeting is the tenth meeting of the group of participating countries, which include Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, Niger, Chad, as well as United Nations envoy Martin Kobler and a representative of the African Union.

Libya currently has two parliaments and two rival governments, which have effectively divided the country into east and west.

The parliament and interim government in the eastern part of the country refuses to endorse the UN-backed administration in Tripoli in the west, a prerequisite for the Tripoli camp to take sovereign control of the country.

There are currently five proposed amendments to the UN-brokered agreement, including a change in the makeup of the Libyan national dialogue committee to better balance the country's factions, a change in the duties of the army's top commander, and measures to maintain the independence of the armed forces and separate them from political conflicts.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/256557.aspx
Libya’s Neighbors Demand National Dialogue to End War
Libyan Foreign Minister, Mohamed Taher Siala, top center, attends a ministerial meeting of countries neighboring Libya which include Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, Niger and Chad, as well as United Nations envoy, Martin Kobler, third right, in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, top left, said “Egypt is committed to upholding Libya’s sovereignty, supporting its legitimate institutions and rejecting foreign interference in the crisis”. MENA reported. (Amr Nabil/Associated Press)

By Associated Press
January 21 at 1:04 PM

CAIRO — Representatives of Libya’s neighbors meeting in Cairo on Saturday warned the North African nation’s main rival factions against seeking to settle their differences through military force, as Egypt announced that efforts were underway to bring their leaders together to chart a “joint vision” for the country.

The representatives came from Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Algeria, Chad, Niger and Tunisia. Also attending was U.N. envoy to Libya Martin Kobler.

“A comprehensive political dialogue between all Libya parties is the only way out of this crisis,” said a final communique after the meeting, saying the delegates “decisively reject” a military solution to the Libyan crisis, a thinly veiled reference to past clashes between forces backing the factions.

Libya has plunged into chaos and lawlessness since the ouster and later killing of longtime leader Muammar Gadhafi in a 2011 counter-revolution and subsequent civil war, with two rival administrations operating in the east and west of the vast, oil-rich nation. Also operating in Libya is an array of militant Islamic groups, including a local affiliate of the extremist Islamic State.

The communique said participants in the Cairo meeting commended recent defeats of the militants in the coastal cities of Sirte and Benghazi, but that they remained concerned over their continuing presence elsewhere in the vast country.

Saturday’s meeting followed airstrikes earlier this week by U.S. Air Force B-2 bombers that targeted a pair of IS military camps southwest of Sirte, killing more than 80 fighters in an unusual mission that may have marked the final demonstration of military force of now-former President Barack Obama’s global counterterrorism campaign.

The airstrikes were coordinated with the U.N-backed government headquartered in Tripoli, the Libyan capital.

Addressing a news conference after the meeting, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri said work was underway to bring the leaders of Libya’s main factions — The Tripoli government, parliament in the eastern city of Tobruk and the leader of the “national army” — to meet.

He, however, gave no specifics, only saying that the proposed gathering would aim to “bolster trust, understanding and search for a joint vision.”

Shukri also repeated calls on the international community to lift a ban on arms sales to Libya, saying the “national army” was a legitimate entity. “It’s inappropriate for this ban to stand and we continue to demand that it be rescinded.”

The Libyan army is led by Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter, who is strongly backed by Egypt and is seen by some in Libya’s eastern region as the country’s best hope for defeating Islamic extremists.

The Cairo meeting also called on the international community to meet Libya’s humanitarian needs in 2017, citing shortages of medical supplies. It urged the international community to release frozen Libyan assets abroad as a way to ease the country’s financial crisis.

Shortages of basic goods and a cash crunch have brought daily hardships for Libyans, who now stand in line for hours for fuel, cash, bread and cooking gas. Banks are open to the public once a week, with a ceiling of less than $200 on withdrawals.
Cairo Prepares for Meeting Between Haftar and Al-Serraj
Libyan Express
Saturday 21 January 2017

According to high-profile Egyptian sources, Cairo will host a meeting between the leader of the Operation Dignity, Khalifa Haftar, and the Prime Minister of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) Fayez Al-Serraj.

“The meeting will try to build bridges between the two parties and will aim at finding a solution for the Libyan political crisis.” The sources added.

Upon his last visit to Cairo, days ago, Haftar express willingness to sit with Al-Serraj, the sources said on Saturday, adding that Al-Serraj said he supports removing (Article No. 8) from the Libyan Political Agreement.

Article No. 8 is related to appointment of high-ranking and supreme military positions in the Libyan government.

The sources also said that Egypt is trying to bridge the gap among the conflicting parties in Libya so that the country retrieves its stability soon.

Headed by the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Sokri, a meeting for the neighbouring countries of Libya kicked off in Cairo Saturday to try to find a suitable and common ground among Libya’s political factions so that they can all agree on implementing the Skhirat agreement.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Abayomi Azikiwe, PANW Editor, Delivers Statement to Press TV: 'Americans Angry With Trump’s 'Hateful Rhetoric':' Journalist
Sat Jan 21, 2017 6:40PM
presstv.ir

To listen to this statement delivered by Abayomi Azikiwe just click on the following URL:
http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/01/21/507181/US-politics-Donald-Trump-protest-hate-rhetoric--Abayomi-Azikiwe

The American people have exercised restraint with Donald Trump, considering the president’s “hateful rhetoric” against women, Muslims and immigrants, said an American analyst and journalist in Detroit.

Trump, whose election victory in November stunned the world, took the oath of office on Friday as thousands of people packed the streets of Washington and around the US to protest his presidency.

“Mass demonstrations against the inauguration of Donald Trump come at a time when many people around the United States are angry about the rhetoric of the current president,” Abayomi Azikiwe, editor at the Pan-African News Wire, told Press TV on Saturday.

“It is an amazement that the United States has allowed Donald Trump to be inaugurated, considering his lack of experience, his hateful rhetoric against African Americans, against immigrants, against Mexicans, against women,” he added.

The journalist explained that Trump’s presidency is a “mixture of white nationalism, populism, neo-fascism, racism and misogyny,” adding, “The Untied States cannot live alone. The people on the United States are much more diverse than what Donald Trump’s rhetoric is prepared to offer.”

The US capital was rocked by Women’s March on Saturday -- the second day of Trump’s presidency. Mass protests were being held around the country and across the world in solidarity with Washington marchers.
Imperialist-backed Military Intervention in Gambia Makes Good on Pentagon “Joint Operations”
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
January 19, 2017

United States Africa Command has been planning an intervention in West Africa for years

A major military invasion of the small West African state of Gambia is taking place as troops from neighboring Senegal are entering the agricultural country.

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh had been granted a three month extension by the parliament to remain in office in the midst of a controversy surrounding the outcome of a recent national election.

Jammeh has rejected calls from the regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to resign from office immediately describing their threats of an occupation as unwarranted interference in the country’s internal affairs. The president has declared a state of emergency signaling his willingness to maintain the existing position.

At the Gambian embassy in Dakar, Senegal, the proclaimed winner of the November elections, businessman Adama Barrow, was sworn in as president. Although Barrow is saying that he is the legitimate head-of-state for Gambia, nevertheless, he is not even residing inside the small nation.

Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz visited the capital of Banjul on January 18 in another effort to persuade Jammeh to relinquish office. The talks at the presidential palace fueled speculation that Jammeh is being pressured to leave the country to settle in Morocco or Nigeria.

Nonetheless, there were no guarantees mentioned which would indicate whether he would be subjected to extradition back to Gambia or to Europe as was done to former Liberian President Charles Taylor in 2003. After an ECOWAS intervention, Taylor was sent to Nigeria for a brief period and then in contravention to the agreement, he later wound up in The Hague for a Special Tribunal on the War in Sierra Leone.

Thousands of tourists and other guests in Gambia have been seen evacuating the country. These developments followed a travel advisory issued by the British government, the former colonial power in Gambia.

According to the Independent newspaper,

“The British High Commission in the capital, Banjul, believes that the volatile situation ‘could result in Banjul International Airport being closed at short notice’. Rather than risking UK holidaymakers being stranded in a country where the only other way out involved a long and difficult overland journey via Senegal, the decision was taken to put The Gambia on the ‘no-go’ list.”

This important notice by London reveals the western imperialist involvement in the Gambian crisis. In addition to the British, the outgoing administration of President Barack Obama signed in 2016 a renewed military cooperation agreement with Senegalese President Macky Sall.

Global Risks Insights website notes that: “With the defense cooperation deal signed by the U.S. and Senegal last week (May 19), the U.S. is increasing its military foothold in Africa. It can be argued that this is a new direction in the Africa policy of the Obama administration and a response to China’s new naval base in Djibouti. Last week the U.S. and Senegal signed a defense cooperation deal. The deal is an upgrade of an existing agreement dating from 2001, and only entails increased access for U.S. military deployment in case of humanitarian crises, such as the Ebola crisis, and to contribute to the battle against terrorist groups in the region. However, it can also be interpreted as a new direction and strategy of the U.S. Africa Command, AFRICOM.” (globalriskinsights.com)

Gambia Intervention a Culmination of AFRICOM Policy

There have been numerous joint military exercises between several West African states and AFRICOM over the last several years. These operations are said to be in preparation for humanitarian crises along with counter measures against “Islamic Terrorism.” However, the discovery of vast reservoirs of natural resources including oil, natural gas and uranium underlies the enhanced interests in African affairs by Washington and London.

It is also necessary to view the escalating imperialist militarism in Africa within the context of growing cooperation between African Union (AU) member-states and the People’s Republic of China, among other countries. The European Union (EU) states and North American governments are seeking to maintain their dominance on the continent and consider events in West Africa as being significant in these strategic imperatives.

Gambia is small almost completely landlocked country on the Atlantic coast. The economy is based upon agricultural production, fishing and tourism. A travel advisory issued by London only serves to undermine the national economy even further amid the character of reports coming out the country from western media sources.

86 percent of the foreign trade by Gambia is conducted with Britain and EU states. Tourism constitutes at least 40 percent of its hard currency earnings. Consequently, the imperialist governments are in a position to place serious strains on the Jammeh administration.

Barrow, who represented eight different opposition parties in the November elections, is framed by western corporate and government-controlled press agencies as a “businessman.” The military background of Jammeh and his seizure of power in 1994 are often cited in these media accounts assessing the character of the incumbent administration.

Many of the same states which are today demanding the resignation of Jammeh, have themselves, experienced numerous coups carried out by the military. Others have been involved in counter-insurgency operations within their own borders that remained absent of uninvited outside interference by neighboring states. Therefore, it seems that there are imperialist forces involved in this operation.

Joint Naval and Ground Operations Are Standard Practice in West Africa

The rapidly increasing role of Pentagon, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and U.S. State Department personnel embedded within African military structures are well-known and publicized developments on the continent. Websites and press releases issued by the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), the U.S. Army Africa (USARAF), NATO, etc. frequently report on these joint maneuvers.

Operation Flintlock, which is coordinated by the U.S. Army Africa (USARAF), has been conducted in Senegal over the last few years. Washington attempts to project these operations as merely training exercises requested by the African states. Nevertheless, when interventions such as the developments in Gambia manifest, it is quite obvious that they are part and parcel of a neo-colonialist project to guarantee the dominance of the Pentagon in regional military affairs.

A post on the USARAF website from 2016 notes:

“U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Donald C. Bolduc, Special Operations Command-Africa commander, joined leadership from last year’s Flintlock exercise, hosted by Chad, and Senegalese leadership in exchanging the Flintlock ceremonial flag, signifying the new host nation accepting the lead role for Flintlock 16. This year’s Senegalese-led exercise spans across several locations within the country as well as outposts in Mauritania.”

This same press release continues saying explicitly:

“’Flintlock is more than a military exercise, we are training together to increase our interoperability and collaboration to counter today’s threats,’ said Brig. Gen. Bolduc. ‘Flintlock contributes to strengthening security ties, promoting shared values and setting conditions for economic growth.’ Flintlock 2016 marks the third time the exercise has been hosted by Senegal.”

Nonetheless, even proponents of this strategy which has characterized U.S. foreign policy towards the continent during the course of the last two administrations through deepening military and intelligence penetration of African nation-states, are questioning its effectiveness related to the stated objectives of enhancing the security capacity of these same neo-colonial dominated regional governments. In states such as Mali, where the Pentagon has trained and financed defense forces, military coups have been led by those who have directly participated in army schools in the U.S.

World Politics Review published an article on November 12, 2015 by Peter Dorrie emphasizing that Washington’s policy:

“has led to some strange bedfellows. Cameroon’s president, Paul Biya, has been in power 33 years, while Djibouti’s Ismail Omar Guelleh and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni also show no signs of stepping down after decades in power. Of the 10 countries hosting U.S. surveillance assets, one is classified as ‘worst of the worst, five as ‘not free’ and four as ‘partly free’ by Freedom House’s 2015 Freedom in the World index.  U.S. military assistance in the form of training and materiel is also going to regimes that routinely use their security forces against their population, contributing to the drivers of terrorism. To make things worse, many of these countries could actually finance these programs themselves, if only their corrupt political elites did not squander their national wealth.” (www.worldpoliticsreview.com)

A coalition of these same states is now entering the Gambia, a nation which posed no threat to the regional stability of West Africa. Until the AU member-states develop a foreign policy that is genuinely independent of imperialism these ongoing military interventions will continue to destabilize the continent and foster its underdevelopment.
Abayomi Azikiwe, PANW Editor, Featured on Press TV Debate Program: 'Imperialist Agenda' Behind Political Turmoil in Gambia: Pundit
Fri Jan 20, 2017 10:32AM
PressTv.ir

To watch this Press TV The Debate program from Jan. 19, 2017 just click on the website below:
http://presstv.ir/Detail/2017/01/20/506959/Gambia-Presidential-Election-US-UK-Azikiwe-Akuetteh

Post-election developments have caused political unrest in Gambia and the prospect of a foreign military intervention has made the situation more sophisticated. Despite initially congratulating opposition leader Adama Barrow for his victory in the December 1 presidential election, incumbent president Yahya Jammeh insists that there were irregularities in the voting process.

Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of Pan-African News Wire from Detroit, referred to the United States and the United Kingdom as two imperialist powers which are behind the ongoing political turbulence in Gambia.

The role of America, Britain and the European Union in Africa should not be ignored, because “they are the ones who supply resources to many of the military forces throughout the West African region,” he told Press TV on Thursday night.

“The role of former colonial powers and the dominant neocolonial power,” which is the United States, is clearly rampant in political developments of West Africa, because Britain and America have been “involved in massive military interventions all across Africa,” he said.

The imperialist powers, he said, resort to their allied governments in Africa to implement their hegemonic agenda in the region.

According to the analyst, Senegalese troops have amassed on the Gambian border, which is suspicious, because Senegal signed a joint defense agreement with the United States in July turning the country into “the closest country" in the region to the US Africa Command or AFRICOM.

“This is the manifestation of the military exercises that have been carried out last several years in West Africa coordinated by the US Africa Command,” he said.

Azikiwe said there are concerns about why there are “such a hurry for military intervention” in Gambia. He also questioned America’s real intention to highlight the current political dispute in Gambia.

The US feels its interests in West Africa have been threatened by warming relations between African and Asian states like China, Japan, Iran and Turkey, he said.

Asian economies are “offering much more cooperative economic agreements than the United States and Britain,” he added.

According to  Azikiwe, there is a long list of governments that have been destabilized and overthrown by the United States including Ghana and Congo, "but China is not an imperialist power because Beijing pursues constructive economic relations with African nations."

Nii Akuetteh, an African policy analyst from Washington, said based on the Gambian constitution, Jammeh’s mandate ended Wednesday midnight in Banjul and he is correctly identified as the former president.

The Gambian parliament has extended Jammeh’s presidency for three months but according the constitution, the legislative branch has no power to extend the mandate of the president.

Jammeh carries out “terrible” actions which may bring violence in Gambia and neighboring governments, Akuetteh said.

Other African leaders have called on Jammeh to relinquish his grip on power amid speculation that the neighboring states were trying to intervene in Gambia militarily on the behest of the AFRICOM.

Akuetteh also dismissed the notion that the imperial states like the US and the UK are behind the instability in Gambia, putting the blame squarely on Jammeh.

The analyst further touched on economic relations between China and African states, saying that the issue does not prompt the US to use its army to overthrow African leaders in a bid to roll back Chinese economic ties with the continent. 
Defeated Gambian Leader Ends Standoff and Boards a Flight Into Exile
By JAIME YAYA BARRY and DIONNE SEARCEY
New York Times
JAN. 21, 2017

A ferry bringing back people who fled Gambia because of its political crisis arrived at the port in Banjul on Saturday. Credit Jerome Delay/Associated Press

BANJUL, Gambia — As a military band played, the defeated president of Gambia, who had set off a tense standoff by refusing to step down after his election loss, left the country on Saturday night, boarding a flight that would send him into exile.

Teary supporters gathered at the airport to usher off the former leader, Yahya Jammeh, as he finally let go of the presidency, two days after a new president, Adama Barrow, was inaugurated in nearby Senegal, where he had fled out of fears for his safety.

Mr. Jammeh, who seized power in a coup in 1994, arrived at the airport in Banjul, the capital, in his Rolls-Royce and dressed in all white. A military band played the national anthem and a song it had composed just for him that it often played to accompany his journeys. Mr. Jammeh walked slowly toward a waiting airplane, shaking hands with a line of people and escorted by Alpha Condé, the president of Guinea. A Quran in one hand, he waved with the other to the crowd.

As of Saturday night, it was still unclear exactly where Mr. Jammeh would wind up.

Mr. Jammeh had appeared on state television early Saturday morning and announced that he would step down.

“I am truly and sincerely proud of being of service to you,” he said in a somber speech.

With Mr. Jammeh’s long record of unpredictability, many Gambians had questioned whether he would actually give up power after he was defeated in an election last month. On Saturday, a wave of relief spread across Mr. Barrow’s supporters.

Mr. Jammeh’s departure ended a tense stretch for the West African nation, which had been at a standstill, with foreign troops and military vehicles inside its borders and the presidents of both Guinea and Mauritania intervening to persuade Mr. Jammeh to step down to make way for the newly elected president, Mr. Barrow. Fearing for his safety in Gambia, Mr. Barrow was sworn in on Thursday in Senegal, as Mr. Jammeh refused to vacate the statehouse.

For weeks, Mr. Jammeh, who has a long record of human rights abuses, has insisted that results of the election that ousted him were flawed. He had called for a new vote, even after initially conceding the election to Mr. Barrow, a real estate agent and a member of the opposition party. Mr. Jammeh vowed to protect his presidency with the help of his military.

A coalition of West African nations, with the support of the United Nations, had sent troops into Gambia on standby to forcibly remove Mr. Jammeh from office. The military action paused when Mr. Jammeh said he would step down.

On Friday, Mr. Barrow addressed the growing members of the Gambian diaspora, many of whom left the country years ago fearing oppression under Mr. Jammeh, who routinely jailed opponents, some of whom died under questionable circumstances in prison. Finally, Mr. Barrow told them, it was time to return to their country.

“You now have the liberty to return home,” he said. “The rule of fear has been vanished from the government for good.”

In Gambia, one anxious citizen, Famara Kamara, said he had already called his family on Saturday and planned to pick them up at the border with Senegal. He had taken his wife and two sons across to Senegal last week as tensions rose. He was relieved that his family would not have to live in a refugee camp in another country — a terrifying notion.

“I have seen documentaries of people living in refugee camps,” Mr. Kamara said. “It’s a terrible experience. I am so grateful to God and to President Jammeh for putting the interest of the Gambian people first.”

In recent days, Mr. Jammeh’s base of support crumbled. Many ministers in his cabinet resigned. The African Union said it would refuse to recognize him as president.

In Banjul, citizens were relieved to hear that Mr. Jammeh seemed ready to go, but their unease would not fully disappear until he was officially outside the nation’s borders.

Capt. Momodu Njie of the Gambian Army said he had been in a state of confusion in recent days, unsure which president he was serving. “Both Yahya Jammeh and Adama Barrow said they were constitutional presidents of the republic, and as a soldier, I don’t know much about the clause in the Constitution,” Captain Njie said. “This makes it difficult to take sides, and at the same time, I cannot serve two commanders in chief.”

Gambia, the smallest country in continental Africa, suffers from widespread unemployment. Thousands of people have left the country, not only to escape from Mr. Jammeh but also to look for work, setting out on dangerous journeys by sea to Europe. But many Europeans have flocked to the coastal country, known for its beaches and bustling sex trade. The odd equilibrium was thrown off balance in recent days as thousands of tourists jammed the airport in an evacuation organized by tour companies.

The sentiments of the strange twist of events in Gambia were captured with eloquence on local news broadcasts that replayed images of Mr. Jammeh’s speech along with commentary. One anchor called Mr. Jammeh’s announcement an “end to what was a troubling few days for this tiny paradise of happiness.”

“It is a day like no other in the history of the Gambia,” the anchor said, “as people waited in bated breath to receive the news of a lifetime, an end to a political impasse, which took this beautiful land of ours to the brink.”

Jaime Yaya Barry reported from Banjul, and Dionne Searcey from Dakar, Senegal.


Gambia's Jammeh heads to exile in Equatorial Guinea: ECOWAS

Gambia's former authoritarian leader Yahya Jammeh was heading to exile in Equatorial Guinea with a stop in Guinea after he stepped down in the face of pressure from West African states to recognize his election defeat, the regional bloc ECOWAS said on Saturday.

ECOWAS sent 7,000 troops into Gambia on Thursday, but would halt operations while leaving some troops in the country to ensure security, Marcel de Souza, president of the ECOWAS commission, told a news conference in Dakar.

(Reporting by Emma Farge; writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg, editing by G Crosse)
South Africa: Hundreds March in Cape Town Against Donald Trump
Protesters in Cape Town marched against new U.S. president Donald Trump.

By Bernard Chiguvare
Allafrica.com

Hundreds of people, mostly women, gathered at the South African Museum in Cape Town on Saturday. They marched through the Company's Garden to the front entrance to Parliament holding placards with signs like "A woman's place is in the revolution","Well-behaved women seldom make history" and "It's time for women to stop being politely angry".

The march was in solidarity with women's marches taking place in the United States and elsewhere around the world to show opposition to US president Donald Trump who was inaugurated yesterday.

Dubbed the Cape Town Sister March, it was supported by several organisations including Sex Workers Education Advocacy Taskforce, Sonke Gender Justice and International Domestic Workers' Federation.

"The march is in solidarity with what is happening today in the United States but this is a warning shot to our government. The way women are treated by our government is the same way we believe President Trump's administration would do," said Myrtle Witbooi of the South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers Union, addressing the media.

A pamphlet by the protesters expressed concerns that the Trump administration might threaten decades of international gains in human rights. The protesters demanded that President Trump:

must hear and submit to calls for women's rights to be respected, protected and fulfilled in and beyond US borders; and

must support women's struggles to attain the realisation and advancement of women's rights to equality.

The pamphlet said that all women must have access to the highest possible attainable standard of health including women's sexual reproductive health.

Dean Peacock, Executive Director of Sonke Gender Justice, said Trump's administration should be taken head on from the start. "It is important to resist Trump's conservative policies from day one and to make it clear across the world that his policies are discriminatory," he said.

Ethan Parsons, from America, said "I have never felt so ashamed of my country as now. I don't think Trump represents American values of truth, justice and peace."
Trump’s Press Secretary Lashes Out at Press, Calling Crowd Coverage ‘Shameful and Wrong’
By John Wagner
Washington Post
January 21 at 6:43 PM

During a briefing, White House press secretary Sean Spicer accused members of the press on Saturday of “deliberately false” inaugural coverage, adding that “accountability goes both ways.”

President Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, on Saturday used his first media briefing to angrily lambaste the press for its coverage of the new administration, claiming reporters had deliberately sought to minimize the “enormous” crowd at Trump’s swearing-in on Friday.

“This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period — both in person and around the globe,” Spicer said. “These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong.”

Channeling Trump’s frequently voiced disdain for the media, Spicer said that there has been a lot of talk about holding the new president accountable for his actions. But Spicer said that “goes both ways.”

“We’re going to hold the press accountable as well,” Spicer said. “The American people deserve better.”

In a highly unusual move, Spicer left the briefing without taking questions, ignoring reporters who shouted questions at him about the massive crowd in town for the Women’s March on Washington, which was designed to protest Trump’s presidency.

Spicer’s comments on crowd size echoed those of his boss a couple of hours earlier, when Trump appeared at the CIA headquarters in Virginia. Trump said that the “dishonest” media had underreported a crowd that, from the dais, he said “looked like a million, a million and a half people.”

Spicer walked through numbers of people that various sections of the area in front of Trump were believed to hold in making a case that media estimates were too low.

The area between the platform where Trump spoke and 4th Street held 250,000 people, Spicer said. The area between 4th Street and a media tent held another 220,000, he said. And the area between the tent and the Washington Monument could hold 250,000.

“All of this space was full when the president took the oath of office,” Spicer asserted.

He also noted that for the first time there was a white covering on the Mall to protect it, which Spicer said accentuated empty spaces in photos of the crowd.

And he said that more people used the Metro system in Washington for Trump’s inaugural than for Obama’s 2013 swearing-in. That conflicted with information released Saturday by Metro.

The agency said 570,557 people took trips in the system between its early 4 a .m. Friday opening through midnight closing. That compared with 1.1 million trips for Obama’s 2009  inaugural and 782,000 in 2013, according to Metro.

Spicer also took a reporter to task for having said on Twitter on Friday that Trump had removed a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. from his office. The reporter later acknowledged he was mistaken and apologized.

Spicer called the episode “irresponsible and reckless.”

Spicer also criticized Democrats in the Senate, saying they were “playing politics with national security” by not allowing Trump’s nominee to lead the CIA, Rep. Mike Pompeo, to be confirmed on Friday afternoon after Trump took office.

Spicer said it was “a shame” that a CIA director was not in place when Trump visited on Saturday.

John Wagner is a national political reporter covering the White House.  Follow @WPJohnWagner
At CIA Headquarters, Trump Boasts About Himself, Denies Feud
The president lashes out at critics, boasts of his magazine covers and exaggerates the size of the crowd at his inauguration.

By SHANE GOLDMACHER and MATTHEW NUSSBAUM
01/21/17 05:09 PM EST

President Donald Trump, in his first speech in his first full day as commander in chief, visited the Central Intelligence Agency on a mission to reassure the intelligence community that they have his full support but he soon veered off course to attack the “dishonest media” in an unusually political speech in front of national-security professionals.

Standing on hallowed ground at the Langley headquarters, in front of the wall of stars carved into marble to represent each of the 117 CIA agents who have died in service to the country, Trump lashed out at his critics, boasted of his appearances on magazine covers and exaggerated about the size of the crowd at his inauguration.

He also hinted at loosening rules on torture put in place under President Barack Obama, promised to wipe “radical Islamic terrorism… off the face of the earth” and pledged his full backing to the CIA.

“I am so behind you,“ Trump said, adding, “You’re gonna get so much backing. Maybe you’re gonna say, please, don't give us so much backing, Mr. President, please, we don’t need that much backing.”

Trump’s comments, delivered without the aid of a teleprompter, oscillated jarringly between wanting to entertain, reassure, brag and attack. Roughly 400 CIA employees attended the speech, which was repeatedly interrupted by cheering and clapping. A TV pool report said that those cheering were arrayed along the sidelines of the event. A print pool report said the applause came from where rank-and-file were seated while senior staff were “far more subdued.”

“Probably almost everybody in this room voted for me,” Trump claimed at one point. "But I will not ask you to raise your hands.”

“I can only say that I am with you 1,000 percent. And the reason you’re my first stop—” Trump said before dramatically changing direction, “— is that as you know I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on earth. Right? And they sort of made it sound like I have this feud with the intelligence community.”

The feud was not the media’s creation. Trump had compared the intelligence community’s leaks about him to “Nazi Germany” on Twitter, and then repeated that charge in a news conference 10 days ago. He also used so-called scare quotes to cite the “intelligence” agencies on Twitter.

On Saturday, Trump made sure to praise the incoming director of the CIA, Rep. Mike Pompeo, who is expected to be confirmed to the position on Monday, saying he was the top graduating student at his class at West Point and “essentially number one at Harvard Law School.”

Trump, who endorsed bringing back torture during the campaign, also said at the CIA that he would destroy the Islamic State. “We have not used the abilities that we have,” he said. “We’ve been restrained.”

Trump repeated another campaign line — about how the United States should have taken the oil when it invaded Iraq — and said, “maybe you’ll have another chance,“ without further explanation.

Trump drew laughs from the crowd when he described reporters as "the most dishonest human beings" and claimed he'd drawn as many as 1.5 million people to his inauguration despite official estimates closer to 200,000 and repeated images of empty standing spaces. A few miles away, at the White House, Trump aides were soon setting up pictures of the crowd inside the press briefing room.

Trump went on to boast about how many covers of Time magazine he has appeared on. And then he singled out a Time magazine reporter, by name, for making a reporting error about a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr., being removed from the Oval Office on Friday, for which the reporter has already publicly apologized.

Trump’s unusual appearance earned the quick rebuke of Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. “He will need to do more than use the agency memorial as a backdrop if he wants to earn the respect of the men and women who provide the best intelligence in the world,” Schiff said.
Trump Assures CIA: 'I Am So Behind You'
JANUARY 22, 2017
Associated Press

President Donald Trump has moved to mend his tumultuous relationship with America's spy agencies, travelling to CIA headquarters on his first full day in office and assuring officials, "I am so behind you."

Trump's decision to visit CIA headquarters just outside of Washington was aimed at making a public gesture to the intelligence officials he disparaged during the transition.

He had repeatedly challenged the agencies' assessment that Russia meddled in the presidential race to help him win and suggested intelligence officials were behind the leak of an unverified dossier that claimed Russia had collected compromising financial or personal information about him.

During remarks to about 400 CIA officials, Trump denied that he had a feud with the intelligence community, saying it was "exactly the opposite."

He again blamed the media for creating that impression, despite the fact that he made numerous public statements critical of intelligence officials.

"There is nobody that feels stronger about the intelligence community and CIA than Donald Trump," he said. "There's nobody."

The 45th president's inauguration has been shadowed by news reports that the CIA and other federal agencies are investigating Russian interference in the presidential election on behalf of Trump. The New York Times, citing anonymous officials, said agencies were examining intercepted communications and financial transactions between Russian officials and Trump's associates.

FBI Director James Comey has declined to confirm or describe the nature of the government's investigation, both during a congressional hearing and in closed-door meetings with members of Congress.
I'm Behind You, Trump Tells CIA Officials
US President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, Vice President Michael Pence and his wife Karen Pence attends the National Prayer Service at the Washington (AAP)

US President Donald Trump has told CIA and intelligence officials: "I am so behind you".

AAP
22 JAN 2017 - 8:02 AM

US President Donald Trump has visited the CIA's headquarters to thank personnel of America's intelligence services

During his visit on Saturday, Trump told intelligence officials: "I am so behind you."

Trump previously criticised intelligence officials after they concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin directed hackers to breach Democratic emails to try to boost Trump's presidential election campaign.

Then, after leaks about an unsubstantiated dossier compiled by a private security firm suggesting Moscow had compromising information about him, Trump blamed intelligence agencies for using Nazi-like tactics.

That drew an unusual public rebuke from outgoing CIA Director John Brennan and raised fears about the impact that sagging morale at the agencies could have on US security.

Trump also denied that he feuded with America's intelligence agencies - telling CIA officers that it was "exactly the opposite."

The president is addressing about 400 CIA employees at their headquarters in Langley, Virginia, on his first full day in office.
Women’s Marches: Millions of Protesters Around the Country Vow to Resist Donald Trump
The protest is expected to be the largest of the organized gatherings against the new president.

By Perry Stein, Steve Hendrix and Abigail Hauslohner
Washington Post
January 21 at 2:30 PM

Millions of women gathered in Washington and cities around the country Saturday to mount a roaring rejoinder to the inauguration of Donald Trump one day earlier. The historic protests of a new president packed cities large and small — from Los Angeles and Boston to Stanley, Idaho and Lander, Wyo. In Chicago, the demonstration was overwhelmed its own size, forcing officials to curtail its planned march.

In Washington, there was confusion about whether the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators jamming the National Mall had grown too large to formally march to the White House.

Janaye Ingram, who is charge of logistics for the Women’s March, went to the microphone Saturday afternoon to announce that the actual marching would still happen — just not using the original route.

“We are marching, and we are using Constitution Avenue,” she told the massive gathering. And the Women’s March twitter account declared: “We are marching! We are marching straight ahead toward the Washington monument to the ellipse! #WomensMarch”.

The Washington organizers, who originally sought a permit for a gathering of 200,000, said Saturday that as many as a half million people participated, dwarfing Friday’s inaugural crowd.

Similar scenes unfolded around the country. In Chicago, after a 150,000 demonstrators swamped downtown blocks, officials cancelled the march portion of the event.

In Los Angeles, a police spokesman said authorities had begun to temporarily close some of the side streets beyond the scheduled perimeter of the march to accommodate the size of “the crowds spilling over into adjacent streets.”

“We are doing our best to facilitate because they are squeezing into every street right now,” said Capt. Andrew Nieman of the Los Angeles Police Department.

The Boston transit system added extra trains to accommodate tens of thousands of protesters. There were huge crowds in New York, Miami, Denver and Seattle. Women also gathered to condemn Trump in London, Barcelona, Melbourne and other cities around the world.

In Washington, demonstrators came from around the country, sometimes sleeping on the couches of people they had never met before. Many said they wanted to take the most public possible stand against Trump, a candidate and now president whom they said routinely insults women and the issues they care about. But the gathering also provided a balm for many eager to immerse themselves in a like-minded sea of citizens who shared their anxiety and disappointment after Democrat Hillary Clinton’s historic bid for the presidency ended in defeat.

Clinton tweeted her gratitude as the rally got under way at 10 a.m., telling them: “Thanks for standing, speaking & marching for our values @womensmarch. Important as ever. I truly believe we’re always stronger together.”

Feminist icon Gloria Steinem, 82, who was among the first speakers, looked out over the huge crowd and exulted, “This is the upside of the downside. This is an outpouring of democracy like I’ve never seen in my very long life.”

Marchers choked Metro lines. Inbound trains were packed with pink-hatted protesters, and the transit agency reported parking lots full at several stations by early in the day. By 11 a.m., Metro had clocked 275,000 transit rides. (By the same hour on Inauguration Day, 193,000 trips had been taken.)

Around the National Mall, the sound system struggled to reach everyone in the massive crowd. Marchers said far more portable toilets were needed. Some stores in the area had been stripped of poster board.

“You won’t get in. We can’t move,” said one woman on the phone from an overrun spot near American Indian Museum. She advised other marchers to seek other spots along the planned route.

Though the marchers were mostly female and white, men and people of color also joined the crowd. Cynthia English, a 61-year-old Jamaican-American living in Florida, said she wanted the new president to know that women will be fighting during his presidency to ensure that the country and laws treat them equally. She was with her daughter and marching for her two granddaughters in that hope that no future president feels comfortable making lewd comments about women.

“I don’t want this to happen to them 20 years from now, so I am making my mark now,” English said. “Why are we the ones that bring people into this world, and we are treated the worst? We should be treated with respect.”

The crowd was buoyant, even joyous. Many held up signs — “I Am Very Upset!” and “Love Trumps Hate” and “Bridges Not Walls” — while others took videos of the moment on their cell phones. Every few minutes, a rolling roar swept over them, echoing through the concrete concourse. D.C. police said they had made no march-related arrests, compared to more than 200 when protesters created choas in downtown Washington.

Judith Snyder-Wagner was among them. The 67-year-old former fundraising consultant said she has sensed a shift in the rural, blue-collar community near Canton, Ohio, where she lives with her wife, Joy. A neighbor mowed a piece of grass along their property line and put up a Trump sign facing their home. Someone recently drove through the neighborhood flying a Confederate flag.

“We’ve been afraid,” Judith Snyder-Wagner said, her voice quavering. She was limping up the sidewalk on Independence Avenue. She has had both her knee and hip replaced, and she held a cane in one hand and a poster in the other. “We just feel like we’re going to lose our civil rights.”

The couple boarded a bus at 1 a.m. Saturday in Ohio and will head home less than 24 hours later. “We needed to feel inspired,” Joy Snyder-Wagner said, looking around. “And we do.”

Trump’s election was the wake up call that progressives needed, said Erin Edlow, 28, the membership director of the Virginia Beach Young Democrats. She was in town with her sister to demonstrate her support for LGBT and immigrant rights.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport,” she said.

The march has turned into the weekend’s star-studded event, with celebrities including Janelle Monáe, Scarlett Johansson and Ashley Judd making appearances. D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) introduced herself as a proud “chick mayor” and implored the Republican majority in Congress to stop meddling in the District’s local lawmaking.

Activist filmmaker Michael Moore ripped The Washington Post in half, noting the headline “Trump Takes Power” and declaring “I don’t think so.” Actress America Ferrera declared that “our new president is waging a war” on the values that define the country with “a credo of hate fear and suspicion of one another.”

“It’s been a heart-rending time to be both a woman and an immigrant,” said Ferrera, whose parents are from Honduras. “Our dignity, our character, our rights have been under attack.”

“But the president is not America,” she said. “We are America.”

The demonstration’s organizers have embraced an imperiled liberal agenda, in sharp contrast to much of what Trump laid out for his presidency. The platform calls for ending violence against women, workers’ rights, reproductive rights, environmental justice, immigrant rights and more.

But a group of anti-abortion women also came, beseeching the larger march to recognize their variety of feminism. Whether or not to include the conservative viewpoint sparked controversy in the days before the march. Anti-abortion women said they have been excluded.

Siobhan Rooney, 32, drove from Philadelphia this morning to march for women’s rights. For her that includes the rights of their unborn children.

“We are in the same page on so many issues. It’s just this one issue,”she said.

With a golden retriever service dog, Fargo, by her side, U.S. Army veteran Khai Willson walked toward the marchers with a sign in her hand: “I served for better than this.”

Willson said she is well positioned to influence Trump supporters who might be otherwise difficult to persuade: She’s white, middle class and a veteran.

“I have a lot of privilege,” said Willson, now a freelance copywriter. “I have to use that to engage with people.”

John Fisher, a 34-year-old locksmith from Grand Rapids, Mich., drove more than nine hours with his wife Kara Eagle.

I’m here to support my wife,” said Fischer. “I don’t care who you are, women impact your life and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t have the same rights as men.”

steve.hendrix@washpost.com

Steve Hendrix came to The Post more than ten years ago from the world of magazine freelancing and has written for just about every page of the paper: Travel, Style, the Magazine, Book World, Foreign, National and, most recently, the Metro section’s Enterprise Team.  Follow @SBHendrix

Abigail Hauslohner is a national reporter who covers Islam, Arab affairs and America. Before coming to Washington in 2015, she spent seven years covering war, politics and religion in the Middle East, and served as the Post’s Cairo bureau chief. She has also covered District politics and government.  Follow @ahauslohner