Friday, August 31, 2018

Russia Plans Investment in Eritrean Port as Foreign Ministers Meet
Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban

Russia is set to make investments in a port in Eritrea as Moscow enters talks to set up a logistics centre in the Horn of Africa nation.

RIA news agency cited Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as disclosing the move on Friday during a meeting with his Eritrean counterpart Osman Saleh.

“Lavrov said the project would help develop bilateral trade, the agency reported. It did not name the port,” a Reuters report added. Eritrea’s known port are at Massawa and Assab. A recent report by Bloomberg quoted a mines official hinting of a possibility of developing another port for potash export.

In speaking after meetings held in Sochi, Lavrov said: “We undoubtedly would like to thank you (Eritrea) for the close coordination of our approaches at the UN and other international venues.”

An Eritrean delegation – comprising Saleh and presidential advisor Yemane Ghebreab – are on an official visit to Russia. They arrived on Thursday and will end their engagements on September 1.

Eritrea has been on a renewed diplomatic engagement since President Isaias Afwerki signed a peace deal with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy hmed in July 2018.

Ethiopia and Eritrea in July agreed to jointly develop ports on Eritrea’s Red Sea coast, Ethiopia’s state broadcaster said a day after the leaders met and agreed to normalize relations after a 20-year military standoff.
Military Helicopter Crash Kills 18 in Ethiopia: News Agency
Aug. 30, 2018, at 10:58 a.m.

ADDIS ABABA (REUTERS) - A military helicopter crashed in Ethiopia's Oromiya region on Thursday and all 18 people aboard, including 15 soldiers, were killed, the state-affiliated news agency Fana said.

The other three dead were civilians, Fana said. There was no immediate word on exactly where the helicopter came down and whether there were any casualties or damage on the ground.

Addisu Arega, a Oromiya regional cabinet minister, confirmed the Fana report and tweeted: "All passengers on board died. The cause is under investigation. Our condolences to the families."

The helicopter was flying from the eastern Ethiopian town of Dire Dawa and headed to Bishoftu around 60 kilometers south of the capital Addis Ababa, Addisu said.

(Reporting by Maggie Fick and Aaron Maasho; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Omar Mohammed)
Xi Meets with Somalia President
Xinhua| 2018-08-31 16:24:53
Editor: Li Xia

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meets with Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Aug. 31, 2018. (Xinhua/Ding Lin)

BEIJING, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed on Friday ahead of the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

Noting the long tradition of China-Somalia friendship, Xi said Somalia was the first East African country to establish diplomatic ties with the People's Republic of China (PRC) and one of the countries proposing to restore the PRC's lawful seat in the United Nations.

China congratulates Somalia on the new progress in its peaceful reconstruction and will continue to support the Somali government in advancing its political agenda, promoting social reconciliation and enhancing governance capability, Xi said.

China supports Somalia's efforts in safeguarding sovereignty, security and territorial integrity, he said.

Xi called on both sides to strengthen cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, FOCAC, and the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum.

For his part, Mohamed expressed the gratitude of the Somali government and its people for China's long-time support, their admiration of China's achievement in reform and opening-up, as well as the desire to learn from China's development experience.

Somalia firmly sticks to the one-China policy and actively participates in the Belt and Road cooperation. The country would join hands with China to build a China-Africa community with a shared future within the framework of the FOCAC, he said.

After the meeting, the two presidents witnessed the signing of agreements on bilateral cooperation in the Belt and Road construction and other fields.
After 7 Years, AU Quits Base at Somalia National Stadium
2018-08-29 15:49

Vehicles of African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) at the Mogadishu stadium in Somalia. (Mohamed Abdiwahab, AFP)

African Union troops on Tuesday pulled out of their base in Somalia's national stadium, freeing up the venue for sporting events for the first time in years, an AFP correspondent said.

The AU's mission in Somalia (AMISOM) comprises some 20 000 troops split across several bases, one of which was the stadium in the capital Mogadishu where they have been stationed since 2011.

"We thank AMISOM for handing back the stadium to the government because the Somali people have been requesting this for a long time to allow sporting activities to resume," Defence Minister Hassan Ali said at a departure ceremony.

On Monday night, President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed also visited the site and pledged that the government would "restore the stadium to its former glory".

The last football match to be played at the stadium, which can seat up to 6 000 people, was in 2003, according to Mogadishu's Sports Committee.

Over the years, the stadium has been used as a base by many armed groups, notably by the Islamist al-Shabaab group between 2008 and 2011 who imposed a ban on all sporting events in the capital.

In 2011, AMISOM troops chased al-Shabaab out of Mogadishu and turned the stadium into one of its top four bases in the country.

The stadium is "a national symbol", said Abdihafid Mohamed of the Mogadishu Sports Committee. "The public has been waiting for a long time for sporting activities to resume."

Built with funding from the Chinese government, it opened in 1978.

But over the past 15 years, it has fallen into a state of disrepair, overrun with weeds and its walls peppered with bullet holes in testimony to the violence which has ravaged the city over the past 30 years. 
WFP Launches Emergency Food Aid to Ebola Victims in Democratic Republic of Congo
REPORT from World Food Programme
30 Aug 2018

GOMA – In partnership with the international relief agency, Caritas, WFP has started distributing food to patients and other people directly affected by the outbreak of Ebola virus in the North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Before the declaration of an Ebola outbreak in North Kivu on 1 August, WFP was already assisting hundreds thousands of people displaced by armed conflict in the province. In Beni territory, the epicentre of the Ebola outbreak, 12,000 displaced people received monthly WFP food rations since July. In light of Ebola and the additional humanitarian needs, WFP is expanding its operations to assist also those affected by the epidemic.

WFP is providing food to inpatients and caregivers in hospitals located in the towns of Mangina and Beni. In order to reach persons having been in contact with affected people and their families, and to limit population movements which could spread the virus further, food is also being delivered to villages in the epidemic-stricken areas. Some 4,000 people are receiving a one-month supply of cereals, beans, oil, and salt. To reinforce the response to critically ill patients, WFP is airlifting high energy biscuits into Goma from Dubai. These are often used in emergencies as they are light, easy to transport and do not need cooking facilities.

Since the tenth Ebola outbreak in DRC in 40 years was declared on 1 August in North Kivu, WFP has played an active role in enabling the medical response led by the Ministry of Health and World Health Organization (WHO), in particular, deploying its expertise in logistics. This was the approach taken in the outbreak that was recently stemmed in Equateur province in the north-west of the country in May. Three mobile warehouses were deployed to Beni; seven WFP trucks carry medicine, food, cars, motorbikes, thermometers, refrigerators, tents, solar kits and mattresses to treatment centres; WFP aviation specialists are helping to manage the air traffic in and out of Beni.

The WFP-run United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) operates daily flights between Goma and Beni, ferrying humanitarian workers and cargo, including medical and protection equipment as well as telecommunication units.

“This tenth Ebola outbreak is unfolding in an area of active armed conflict and displacement. It poses a risk of a regional health emergency involving three countries -- DRC, Rwanda and Uganda, said, WFP’s DRC Country Director, Claude Jibidar. “With its food assistance, logistics and air support already firmly in place, WFP is committed to do even more, to save lives and to prevent the epidemic from spreading.”

A total of 111 cases of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) have been recorded since the beginning of the epidemic (83 confirmed cases and 28 probable cases. More than 4,000 people have been vaccinated so far.
DRC's Struggle for Democracy Enters New Era
Elevation of sanctioned official and opposition bans prompt analyst fears ahead of December 23 presidential election.

by David Child

Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary suffered an inauspicious start as President Joseph Kabila's anointed candidate for the highest political office in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

En route to filing his candidacy on August 8, the last day of registrations for December's long-delayed elections, Shadary found the gates guarding the electoral commission offices in the capital, Kinshasa, barred shut.

A moment of confusion ensued but Shadary, known to supporters as the "man for difficult situations", eventually found a way through to ensure his name will be on the ballot - effectively putting to rest years of speculation about whether Kabila would seek to prolong his 17-year rule.

Shadary said at the time running for the presidency was a "great honour" and pledged to outline a "social programme" to voters in the near future.

He also praised Kabila for "keeping his word" by standing aside.

Shadary's comments came after almost two years of political limbo caused by Kabila's refusal to step down when his second and final constitutional term officially expired in December 2016. His move sparked violent demonstrations during which security forces killed scores of anti-government protesters, as well as donor threats to withhold aid funding for the resource-rich country.

The president's decision to obey the two-term limit may signal the beginning of a new era in which the DRC will finally have a new president, but analysts predict little change if Shadary - a die-hard Kabila loyalist currently sanctioned by the European Union for his role in the crackdowns on protesters - wins the December 23 poll.

On the contrary, Kabila, who will be eligible to run again in 2023, is expected to keep exercising considerable power behind the scenes in the event of a Shadary win.

"Shadary is someone Kabila knows he can control," says Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja, professor of African and Global Studies at the University of North Carolina.

"If there is no alternation of power, things are not going to change."

Tumultuous politics

The DRC has never had a peaceful transition of power since the assassination of its first democratically elected leader, Patrice Lumumba, in 1961, one year after the country gained independence from Belgium.

Kabila took power in 2001 after the assassination of his father, Laurent-Desire Kabila, an opposition leader and former rebel who in 1997 had forced out President Mobutu Sese Seko, whose decades-long rule was marked by authoritarianism, brutality and corruption.

Joseph Kabila was declared the winner of elections in 2006 and 2011, but both polls were marred by violence and opposition allegations of widespread fraud.

The announcement on August 8 that he would not run again was welcomed by regional and international powers, but DRC's already-tumultuous politics were complicated even further last week when electoral officials disqualified the candidacy of popular opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba.

In June, Bemba, a former rebel leader, was acquitted on appeal at the International Criminal Court (ICC) of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by fighters he sent to suppress a coup in neighbouring Central African Republic between October 2002 and 2003.

Following his release after 10 years in prison at The Hague, the 55-year-old received a hero's welcome by his supporters upon his return to Kinshasa in early August to register his candidacy.

But on August 24, the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) cited a separate ICC conviction for witness-tampering to deem Bemba inadmissible - according to DRC law, people convicted of corruption are barred from running for president.

The commission's decision can be appealed before a final list of candidates is published on September 19.

Bemba has been banned from running in the election because of a prior corruption-related conviction from the International Criminal Court [File: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters]
'More of the same'
Bemba, a former vice president who finished second behind Kabila in the 2006 election, was widely tipped as a frontrunner in December's vote.

In a rare opinion poll published by the Congo Research Group in late July, he ranked joint-first alongside opposition leaders Felix Tshisekedi, son of the late veteran politician Etienne Tshisekedi, and Moise Katumbi, a wealthy businessman who has been living in self-imposed exile since a 2016 conviction in absentia for alleged real estate fraud.

An erstwhile Kabila ally and governor of Katanga, Katumbi himself was also effectively barred from running for president after DRC's authorities blocked his attempts to return to the country - first by airplane and then by car - and submit his candidacy before the deadline. The government subsequently issued an international arrest warrant for him on August 16.

According to Kris Berwouts, a political analyst and author of Congo's Violent Peace: Conflict and Struggle since the Great African War, the events of the past few weeks laid bare the authorities' intention to "organise the election in an environment which is as controlled as possible".

"Keeping people out of the process, as they have done with Katumbi and Bemba, is reinforcing their own candidate," Berwouts said, adding that the removal of key presidential challengers from the race cast doubt on the credibility of the election.

"This does not give many guarantees for free and fair elections."

Nzongola-Ntalaja agreed.

"I don't see the [possibility] that the elections are going to be free, fair, transparent and democratic," he said, adding that upcoming poll promised "more of the same" following the votes in 2006 and 2011.

'Regime stalwart'

Running against a curtailed opposition could prove critical to Shadary's performance in the election, given that he remains relatively unknown outside the country's political circles.

Shadary was born in the DRC's eastern Maniema province in November 1960. He went on to study political science, first in Lubumbashi and then in Kinshasa, before being appointed in 1998 Maniema governor by then-President Laurent-Desire Kabila.

Four years later, Shadary co-founded the People's Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD) alongside Joseph Kabila, and has since proceeded to hold several roles in the party.

"Shadary is a creature of the Kabilas, both Lauren and Joseph," Reuben Loffman, a lecturer in African history at UK-based Queen Mary University of London, told Al Jazeera.

"He is a very loyal, regime stalwart for the PPRD and latterly the FCC ... and seen as a safe bet in terms of someone who will protect people from the international community," Loffman said, referring to the ruling Common Front for Congo (FCC) coalition.

"For the PPRD and the Kabila camp, protection is absolutely crucial," he added.

In February, after serving as the government's interior minister for 13 months, Shadary was appointed permanent secretary of the PPRD, marking an elevation to the upper echelons of party politics and government.

During his time at the interior ministry, he oversaw several crackdowns on anti-government protesters, especially after Kabila's refusal to step down as president. Last year, the European Union hit him with an asset freeze and travel ban for his involvement "in planning, directing, or committing acts that constitute serious human rights violations in DRC".

"The regime has deployed repression and he has been part of that," Berwouts said.

"He [Shadary] is someone within the regime machinery with his own power base," he added. "[But] If the party wants to go to the election and win, there is immense work to do to sell him to the public," he added.

According to Loffman, Shadary's "instrumental" role in the suppression of opposition could mean he struggles to concoct a convincing narrative on which to campaign for support.

"Opposition politicians have stories; Felix Tshisekedi can call on his father's legacy of opposition and Jean-Pierre Bemba can, albeit controversially, call on fighting in the Second Congo War," he said.

"But Shadary is tainted by the past ... his story seems to be 'I have been oppressing you for a long time, please let me continue to oppress you'" he added, noting that Shadary's candidacy is particularly jarring when weighed against the decision to ban Bemba from the vote.

"Bemba still has this outlying conviction, and I think it's problematic, but given the fact that Shadary has sanctions against him it's kind of glass houses and stones, I think there is a lot of political motivation and that the election commission is acting under a lot of pressure from the regime," Loffman said.


All of the candidates permitted to run for the presidency will have to confront a daunting set of issues currently afflicting the DRC, the world's leading cobalt producer and Africa's top copper miner.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says 13.1 million people are in need of aid throughout the DRC and 4.5 million others are internally displaced - the highest number among all African countries.

In particular, violence in the southern Kasai region and throughout the Kivu provinces in the eastern DRC has left the country reeling under several ongoing security and humanitarian crises.

According to Human Rights Watch, more than 100 armed groups are operating in North and South Kivu, which, combined, border Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

Meanwhile, northern Kivu province has been hit by the country's latest Ebola crisis - its 10th since 1976 - leaving health authorities scrambling for a response amid the "active conflict" zone.

The DRC's turmoil has contributed to the fact that despite its vast natural resources and some 80m hectares of arable land, the country still ranks among the 11 poorest countries in the world.

"The level of violence, and the fact that there is an Ebola crisis going on, is going to mean in effect a lot of the election is about firefighting," Loffman said.
ACCORD Undertakes Consultation in DRC and Burundi on “Strengthening Local and National Capacities for Mediation and Peacebuilding in Africa”
REPORT from African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes

17 Aug 2018
By Nontobeko Zondi

Meeting with stakeholders from university, NGOs and government to discuss the evolving nature of conflict across the African continent.

ACCORD undertook consultative meetings in the Democratic republic of Congo and Burundi from 13-16 August 2018. The theme of the consultation was “Strengthening Local and National Capacities for Mediation and Peacebuilding in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Burundi”. The consultation was aimed at engaging key stakeholders in the respective countries on how to build national resilience during or immediately after peace processes to ensure that an environment exists to achieve sustainable peace.

The consultation brought together approximately 15 stakeholders from the university, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and government working conflict management, mediation and peacebuilding in the DRC and Burundi respectively. The discussions of the event mainly focused on the evolving conflict across the continent, looking specifically at the opportunities for building capacity in mediation and conflict management.

This consultation provided ACCORD an opportunity to reflect on what has been done to contribute toward dealing with the conflicts and what still needs to be done to contribute towards peace in the DRC and Burundi. One of the gaps identified is the need to build the capacity that of the university, NGOs and government in mediation and conflict management in order to build and maintain infrastructures for peace in the DRC and Burundi.

The key points that were raised and discussed included: the need to create a culture of dialogue within societies. Furthermore, highlighted the need to train journalists in conflict management as they have the ability to incite conflict or promote peace through their reporting.

ACCORD aims fill the identified gap in building capacity of the NGOs, government and university on conflict management and mediation in the DRC and Burundi.
Scientists Unpick How Cannabis Component May Fight Psychosis
Thursday 30 Aug 2018

The ingredient could become a novel anti-psychotic medicine.

British scientists have unraveled how a non-intoxicating component of cannabis acts in key brain areas to reduce abnormal activity in patients at risk of psychosis, suggesting the ingredient could become a novel anti-psychotic medicine

While regular use of potent forms of cannabis can increase the chances of developing psychosis, the chemical cannabidiol or CBD appears to have the opposite effect.

CBD is the same cannabis compound that has also shown benefits in epilepsy, leading in June to the first U.S. approval of a cannabis-based drug, a purified form of CBD from GW Pharmaceuticals.

Previous research at King’s College London had shown that CBD seemed to counter the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the substance in cannabis that makes people high. But how this happened was a mystery.

Now, by scanning the brains of 33 young people who were experiencing distressing psychotic symptoms but had not been diagnosed with full-blown psychosis, Sagnik Bhattacharyya and colleagues showed that giving CBD capsules reduced abnormal activity in the striatum, medial temporal cortex and midbrain.

Abnormalities in all three of these brain regions have been linked to the onset of psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.

Most current anti-psychotic drugs target the dopamine chemical signaling system in the brain, while CBD works in a different way.

Significantly, the compound is very well tolerated, avoiding the adverse side effects such as weight gain and other metabolic problems associated with existing medicines.

“One of the reasons CBD is exciting is because it is very well tolerated compared to the other anti-psychotics we have available,” Bhattacharyya of King’s College said.

“There is an urgent need for a safe treatment for young people at risk of psychosis.”

The Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College now plans a large 300-patient clinical trial to test the true potential of CBD as a treatment. Recruitment into the trial is expected to start in early 2019.

The latest findings underscore the complexity of the cocktail of chemicals found within the marijuana plant, at a time when cannabis laws are becoming more liberalized in many countries.
Egypt's Tourism Revenues Jump 77% to $4.781 in H1 2018: Government Official
Wednesday 29 Aug 2018

Egypt's tourism revenue jumped 77 percent in the first half of 2018 to around $4.8 billion compared with the same period last year, a government official told Reuters.

Egyptian tourism has been gradually recovering from a 2011 downturn triggered by the uprising that ousted president Hosni Mubarak, helped by a currency float in late 2016 that halved the pound's value and made the country a relatively cheap bet for foreign visitors.

The tourism sector is a pillar of the country's economy and a key earner of foreign currency.

The official, who declined the be named, said visitor numbers during the first half of 2018 jumped 41 percent from a year before to about 5 million. A total of 14.7 million people visited Egypt in 2010 before the uprising.

"Indicators suggest the sector will earn about $9 billion by the end of this year," the official said, adding there were expectations of greater traffic from western Europe, Italy, Germany and Ukraine towards the end of the year.

That figure would mark a jump from last year's $7.6 billion.
Egypt's Sisi in Beijing for an Economic Outreach
Dina Ezzat
Ahram Online
Friday 31 Aug 2018

The Egyptian President is taking part in the FOCAC summit and is holding talks with his Chinese counterpart in the Chinese capital

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi is expected to arrive in China on Saturday for a three-day visit that will include his participation in the summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), and a bilateral summit with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing.

Xi visited Egypt in 2016, and discussed with his host a wide range of options for cooperation. “Some have picked up, especially on transportation and energy fronts; and some are still to pick up on trade and economic cooperation,” said an Egyptian government official, who requested anonymity.

“Egypt is taking China very seriously at many fronts; on the political front we see almost eye-to-eye on leading regional matters; we cooperate a lot in the framework of the UN, especially in New York, and we have really very large prospects for economic cooperation, especially that China has been proving serious about expanding its economic relations with Africa - and for that matter all across the Middle East,” the government official added.

El-Sisi is expected to oversee the signing of a few agreements and memorandums of understanding between Egypt and China for trade, economy and development cooperation.

“We already have a considerable profile of Chinese business in Egypt and we can easily expect to see a serious enhancement of this business cooperation in the very near future,” the same government official said.

On the side of the participation in FOCAC, ElSisi is scheduled to hold a round of talks with several participating African leaders, especially those from East Africa and the Nile Basin states.

According to the same government official, “President El-Sisi will hold a series of bilateral meetings to follow up on several issues, including developments related to the security of East Africa, the developments related to the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and other issues of relevance”.

El-Sisi had sent a message to the prime minister of Ethiopia upon a short visit of Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Intelligence Chief Abbas Kamel on Tuesday. Should the prime minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, join the FOCAC summit as expected, the government official said, El-Sisi would have a chance to follow up with him personally.

Enhanced bilateral relations

According to Ahmed Kandil, an expert on international relations and Asian affairs at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, Egypt and China have been in the process of enhancing bilateral cooperation for a few years already and “it has been working well – even if it has not been as fast as both Cairo and Beijing would want.”

China, Kandil reminded, was among the first world powers to recognise the political change that Egypt went through in 2013 and “it did lend a great deal of support for Egypt during that very intense summer – not just on the bilateral front but also within the context of the UN.”

“The fact of the matter is that China is a strong believer in the central state; it actually did take exception to the January Revolution and all but voiced measured scepticism over the abrupt way in which the West turned its back on Hosni Mubarak. In 2013, Beijing was confident that it was again having a solid and serious interlocutor in Cairo, and more so after the election of El-Sisi as president,” Kandil said.

“We are talking here about two leaders who share the same concept of a solid and powerful state institution; two leaders who see eye to eye on most regional issues, including Syria and Libya – as well of course as the Palestinian issue; we are talking about two leaders who dread Western intervention in the internal affairs of sovereign states and who would not accept the call of human rights as a basis for any such intervention,” Kandil said.

Meanwhile, he added, El-Sisi and Xi are equally keen to enhance cooperation with Africa. Of course, he added, China “given its resources has been able to make big leaps.”

Kandil is not willing to confuse the priorities of China in Africa with the path of the bilateral relations between Cairo and Beijing.

“I know that some people say that China has not been helping Egypt in relation to GERD and it had not put any serious pressure on Addis Ababa to accommodate Egyptian concerns over the impact of the mega-dam on its already limited water resources, but the fact of the matter is that China is eyeing Africa essentially through the economic lens – if it has an economic interest it will go for it; the Chinese have a very pragmatic approach when it comes to business,” he said.

What Egypt should expect from China at the political front, Kandil argued, relates more to the regional strategic issues rather than to any disputes or disagreements that Cairo might have with any African state. In the meantime, he added, Egypt should also relate its bilateral expectations from China to the ability of Egyptian bureaucracy and legislations to accommodate Chinese business expectations.

“If our bureaucracy is slow and our legislation is not attractive than we will not benefit as much as we could from bilateral cooperation with China,” Kandil said.

According to Kandil, the prime focus of Egypt now should be on fixing the “huge trade imbalance” between the two countries. “We need to export more to China and I guess we could because they have such a huge market,” he argued.

According to the government official, the talks that the Egyptian delegation is expected to hold with the Chinese official in the coming few days would certainly explore the avenues to upscale and diversify Egyptian exports to China as much as it would aim to attract more Chinese investments to Egypt.

Apart from business and trade, Kandil argued that Egypt and China could expand their culture and military cooperation.

“We have an established military cooperation with China that has been there for years and actually it was in 2016 that Egypt was the only African country to take part in an expanded military parade that China hosted; I guess on this front we are stable and might even be moving forward,” he said.

Meanwhile, on 28 August, ahead of El-Sisi’s visit to Beijing, Egyptian and Chinese officials signed agreements to expand media and cultural cooperation.

“I guess things are moving in the right direction both in terms of enhancing bilateral cooperation and diversifying Egyptian political and diplomatic alliances – the latter especially being a target that El-Sisi had committed to since he came to office; of course this has to be done within a carefully measured fashion to avoid getting into unnecessary confrontations with old and essential allies like the US, but I think we are making decent progress,” Kandil argued.

China is important

According to political science professor at the American University in Cairo Moustafa Kamel El-Sayyed, China is important to Egypt in many ways.

“There is so much that we can learn from the Chinese experience; they have an extremely impressive experience in enhancing the use of savings for investment and this was a real booster to the Chinese economy; they also have a very impressive experience in upgrading the quality of their education; and their advances in scientific research are no less impressive,” he said.

It is important for Egypt to try to attract more investments from China, El-Sayyed agreed. “But what is more crucial I think with a country like China is to learn from their successes on many fronts,” he added.

China, El-Sayyed added, is a leading trade partner to Egypt and “of course there is a large vista to improve these relations.”

Meanwhile, El-Sayyed stressed that the Chinese interest in Africa is allowing Beijing the opportunity to move forward with its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative that starts in East Asia, through South Asia into the Arab Gulf, East Africa, the Red Sea, the Suez Canal and onto Europe.

This, he said, is only part of a larger interest that China has in Africa, which allows an incredible venue for Chinese business. Egypt and other African states, he added, should make sure that they too get their interests out of their partnership with China “in terms of development and not just business”.
Sisi's Visit to China Gives Strong Thrust to Strategic Ties Between the Two Countries, Chinese Ambassador Tells MENA
Thursday 30 Aug 2018

China's Ambassador to Cairo Song Aiguo said on Thursday that the upcoming visit of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to China will give a strong thrust to strategic ties between the two countries in all fields.

In an interview with the Middle East News Agency Editor-in-Chief and Board Chairman Ali Hassan on Thursday, the Chinese diplomat hailed great achievements made in Egypt during the past four years, especially with regard to preserving the country's security and stability, as well as establishing several mega projects in a short period of time to achieve development.

China looks forward to President Sisi's visit, which is the fifth to be paid by the Egyptian leader to the Asian state, Song said.

He further underlined that Sisi's visits to China had contributed greatly to pushing forward bilateral ties.

Egyptian President El-Sisi left to Bahrain on Thursday on the first leg of a three-nation tour that includes China and Uzbekistan.

After Bahrain, the president will head to Beijing where he will take part in the Forum on Chinese-African Cooperation (FOCAC) along with 30 other African leaders the country will host for the September 3-4 event.

The once-every-three-years event has seen China offer large loan packages for countries on the continent.

During the visit, El-Sisi is due to meet with China's President Xi Jinping and Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang.

The two presidents are planned to sign a number of cooperation deals and memoranda of understanding in a variety of industries, according to the Egyptian presidency spokesman added.

El-Sisi will also sit with top Chinese business executives to discuss boosting their investments in Egypt.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Is Tunisia the Next Emerging Market to Implode?
By John Rubino
Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Seems like every few days a new developing country discovers that it can’t pay back the dollars and/or euros it borrowed back when “external foreign currency debt” seemed like a good thing.

AL ATAYA, Tunisia—More than seven years after Tunisians overthrew their country’s dictatorship in a revolution that spawned the Arab Spring, the country’s economy is in crisis and thousands of people are sneaking into Europe, as part of a new wave of clandestine migration from what had been a North African success story.

The recent Tunisian exodus began in 2017 as economic pressures mounted on the country’s working and middle classes. Tunisians have enjoyed greater political freedoms since the Arab Spring uprising and Mr. Ben Ali’s fall, but a series of post-revolutionary governments have failed to revive the economy and create jobs. Today, more than 35% of Tunisian young people are unemployed, and many don’t see a future in their own country.

“The state isn’t giving us anything,” a 24-year-old mechanic in Al Ataya said, adding he had considered leaving on a smuggler’s boat until a shipwreck killed more than 100 people offshore in June.

In recent years, Tunisia’s government has tried to correct course. The government chose to cut budgets at the urging of the International Monetary Fund, which extended Tunisia a $2.9 billion loan in 2016.

But the IMF-led overhaul has failed to trigger a turnaround. The economy is currently growing at 2.8%, a slower rate than in 2010 before the uprising. Tunisia’s currency, the dinar, shed 21% of its value against the euro in 2017. When the cuts the IMF had urged took effect in January, a wave of protests shook the country, raising questions about the future of its democratic transition.

A series of terrorist attacks in 2015 also devastated Tunisia’s tourism industry. The country is also still righting itself after the economic shock of the 2010-2011 uprising.

The lack of new jobs has driven a powerful undercurrent of pessimism among young Tunisians. Young people on this island who fail to make a living in fishing often while away their days in cafes. Others join the smugglers.

Sounds pretty grim, especially the part about IMF-imposed austerity. Let’s see if the numbers paint the same picture. First, government debt should be souring — and it is:

And external debt — that is, debt denominated in other currencies that becomes harder to manage as the dinar falls against those other currencies — should be rising. And it is. Since 2008 it’s risen from less than 50% of GDP to more than 80%.

Tunisia external debt

80% of GDP is high enough to be potentially destabilizing if the dinar keeps falling. European banks who lent money to the former French colony now wish they hadn’t and will soon be lining up for an ECB bail-out that, when combined with those of all the other emerging market creditor banks, might break the trillion-euro mark.

Meanwhile, the ease with which Tunisians cross over into Europe will add to the social crisis of mass immigration, with all the attendant costs and political disruptions. Italy’s new populist government, for instance, will absolutely not take a million Tunisians, which will will put it at odds with the EU, which might spark a euro crisis, and so on.

Is this systemically threatening? Maybe. In any event it certainly deserves to be on the list of straws waiting to break the camel’s back.
Tunisia’s Ennahda Rejects Proposal to Enshrine Secular Inheritance Into Law
Protesters demand equal inheritance rights for women at a rally in Tunis on 13 August (Reuters)

Monday 27 August 2018 13:57 UTC

The Ennahda political party has rejected a proposal by Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi backing inheritance equality between men and women for contradicting existing Islamic laws.

On Sunday, the Ennahda movement - which identifies itself as a Muslim democratic party and has 68 MPs in the 217-member assembly - announced it rejected the initiative and would vote against any bill that proposed the imposition of secular laws in this regard.

The chairman of Ennahda's shura council, Abdel Karim al-Harouni, said his party would “oppose any law that goes against the Quran and the constitution”.

Tunisia is a “civil state for Muslim people, committed to the constitution and the teachings of Islam”, he said following a party conference on Sunday.

He added that Ennahda would defend the rights of women with regards to inheritance, but “within the bills and laws that respect the identity of the country”.

The statement also stressed that Ennahda would continue to seek consensus with its partner in government, the liberal Nidaa Tounes party.

Tunisia has been ruled by an elected secular-Islamist alliance since the 2011 revolution that toppled long-time ruler Zine el Abidine Ben Ali. It has been hailed for approving a progressive constitution and for having the highest female parliamentary representation in the region - nearly 35 percent of seats.

Essebsi announced earlier this month his backing of the implementation of secular laws enshrining inheritance equality between men and women - breaking with Islamic jurisprudence that treats men and women differently, in some cases stipulating that men inherit double what women receive.

He suggested, however, to give those who prefer Islamic laws the choice to refer to them.

His call came after thousands of protesters demonstrated in front of the assembly and in several Tunisian cities against the proposed bill.

Nofal Al-Gammaly, a Tunisian MP affiliated with Ennahda, said in media statements on Sunday that his party would vote against the proposal if turned into a bill, citing the fact that public opinion polls on the subject have shown a vast majority in favour of Islamic inheritance laws.

“In our reading of the constitution, we believe that the proposition totally contradicts the constitution,” he told France 24's Arabic channel. He added that his party had nonetheless approved most of the other recommendations made by the Individual Freedoms and Equality Committee established by Essebsi in 2017.

Demonstrations have also taken place this year across Tunisia calling for inheritance equality, under the slogan "inheritance equality is a right not a privilege".

A report published by the committee in June recommended legislation that enshrines inheritance equality. Other recommendations included repealing the death penalty and decriminalising homosexuality.

The recommendations were rejected by conservative Tunisians, including former minister of religious affairs Nour al-Din al-Khadimi, who told the BBC that some of the recommendations “contradicted Tunisian identity".

An Ennahda spokesperson did not immediately reply to a Middle East Eye request for comment.
Tunisia Central Bank Maintains Rate as Inflationary Pressures Persist
by Central Bank News
August 30, 2018 4:26 PM

Tunisia's central bank left its key interest rate steady at 6.75 percent, noting the persistence of inflationary pressures despite a slight decline in July and underscoring the need to closely monitor financial and monetary data.

The Central Bank of Tunisia (BCT), which has raised its rate twice this year by a total of 175 basis points, also noted a continued widening of the trade deficit as higher energy imports outpaced the increase in tourism receipts and revenue from workers abroad.

The central bank's board stressed the need for further coordination with affected parties to help counteract these developments that are having a negative impact on the exchange rate of the dinar.

Tunisia's inflation rate has been rising steadily since October last year though it eased in July to 7.5 percent from 7.8 percent in June, when the BCT raised its rate by 100 basis points.

In its statement following the board meeting on Aug. 29, the central bank repeated its warning from June that persistent inflation would have a negative effect on the country's economic growth.

Tunisia's economy grew by an annual 2.8 percent in the second quarter of this year, up from 2.5 percent in the first quarter for first half growth of around. 2.6 percent, up from 1.9 percent a year earlier.

Tunisia's dinar has depreciated against both the euro and U.S. dollar this year although it has bounced back against the dollar in the last two weeks as the greenback has retreated.

The dinar was trading at 2.76 to the dollar today, down almost 11 percent this year.
Tanzania's Business Capital Launches Vaccination Against Bilharzia
2018-08-31 01:17:10|Editor: yan

DAR ES SALAAM, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- More than 600,000 pupils in 708 public and private primary schools in Tanzania's business capital Dar es Salaam were set to receive vaccine against bilharzia in a massive campaign launched on Thursday.

Grace Magembe, Dar es Salaam city health officer, said the campaign will target primary school pupils aged between 5 and 14 years.

Magembe said the vaccination will be administered both in schools and health centers in the East African nation's commercial capital.

Paul Makonda, Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner who launched the campaign, said the initiative was aimed at ensuring that children can properly pursue education without interference of sicknesses.

He urged parents, teachers and guardians to support the campaign for the wellbeing of the children.

Bilharzia, a parasitical disease which is usually spread by swimming in contaminated water, is widespread in Tanzania among children, and transmission tends to coincide with the rainy season.

Mass drug administration using praziquantel, currently used as a key intervention measure, has not been successful in decreasing prevalence of infection.
Mozambique: Counting Attacks and Arrests Diverts Quest for Stability and Development in Cabo Delgado
By Jasmine Opperman
27 August 2018

 EN1 road bridge over Rio Lúrio, border between Nampula and Cabo Delgado provinces, Mozambique – Wikimedia Commons – Photo by F Mira  Less

In an area where access to information is limited, perceptions count, fear is heightened and trust is eroded. The only actors to benefit from such an environment are the al-Shabaab cells.

The abduction of a South African businessman at a hotel in Palma in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province on 1 August 2018 was mired in confusion as to who the perpetrators were and what their motives could be. Rumours were that he was abducted following suspicion of his involvement in support of Shabaab cells responsible for attacks in the area. He was eventually found in a hospital under military guard, creating suspicion that the Mozambique military or police could have been involved in the kidnapping. The facts will, most likely, never be known, but the incident says a lot about the prevailing conditions of the people residing in Cabo Delgado. Most recent attacks in August 2018 at Pundanhar and Quiterajo respectively are indicative of cell structure activities creating fear and community vulnerability.

Villages are abandoned at night for fear of attacks by sects referred to as Shabaab and linked to Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jamo/Ansar al-Sunna, an extremist religious sect responsible for initial attacks in October 2017 in the area of Mocimboa da Praia in the Cabo Delgado region. Locals seek refuge at night in surrounding bush areas of villages or in towns whereas petroleum companies, lodges and guest houses go into lockdown at night with some using private guards armed with shotguns. Irrespective of the actual motives for attacks, capacity and strength, those responsible for brutal attacks have gained a mythical reputation among the local population, a reputation that instils fear.

This stands in contrast to Mozambique media statements on the current security environment in Cabo Delgado. On 15 August 2018, Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi praised the Mozambique Defence and Security Forces (FDS) for their actions against al-Shabaab Cult cell structures in regaining “order, social and economic stability” in the nation. He added that security forces should remain unyielding “to ruthlessly carry out operations against evildoers”. The success was attributed to the identification of six al-Shabaab Cult ringleaders.

However, little is known about these individuals, even by communities in Cabo Delgado. Contacts indicated that all six individuals listed have already fled to Tanzania and/ or Kenya, escaping arrest and prosecution.

In a situation of stress, statistics fail to tell the whole story of Cabo Delgado; the fact that actual exposure to violent attacks is not a prerequisite for the psychological agony currently observed among individuals. Their day-to-day lives have been disrupted and current militarised interventions will have little bearing on the long-term implications for communities in Cabo Delgado, inevitably leading to a feeling of alienation. Disconcertingly, accompanying such feelings is a mythical character assigned to Shabaab cells, a character that will outlive increased or decreased levels of attacks.

The mythical character of Shabaab cell

Initial attacks in October 2017 introduced al Sunnah as a group embedded in a geographical confined space seeking an alternative in religious custom and culture in Cabo Delgado. However, since the initial attacks, Shabaab cells remain blurred by the lack of a centrifugal ideology, structure and leadership. An extremist ideology as commonality between the cells cannot be discarded, but the lack of precise information implies that a motivation for attacks remains speculative.

That Shabaab is comprised of cells with a detailed knowledge of areas of attacks, footpaths being used by locals and knowledge of security force deployments at villages provide some explanations on the threat. Foreign influence from Tanzania in some of these cells is a probability. However, equating this with an extremist motive remains speculative in an environment known for organised crime syndicates involved in drug, weapon and poaching activities.

Continual attacks illustrate that Cabo Delgado is certainly not an area where the local population is experiencing calmness and a return to a life without attacks. This is attributed to persistent fears of attacks as well as high levels of frustration with how security forces treat the locals and a fear of persecution.

Muslims have expressed concerns on unwarranted prosecution in Cabo Delgado. Coupled with this are the family members of those arrested and accused of involvement or abetting Shabaab cell structures. Consequently, the identification of culprits is reliant on rumour rather than evidence.

Reports on the Armed Forces for the Defence of Mozambique (FADM) regularly targeting and harassing Muslim members of the population will result in an ever-increasing divide between government and the local population. Hearsay leads to accusations, and without a factual informed understanding, these accusations create suspicions and ultimately a self-survival instinct. Communities tend to search for security in isolating themselves, talking only to those they trust and are suspicious of any person, institute or a person in uniform.

Noticeable is the Mozambique government releasing statements on law and order “successes”, setting up of military basis and deployment of soldiers. The need for such actions is not disputed, but what is clearly lacking is an effective communication strategy enabling an informed community on the actual state of affairs. Finger-pointing and fear within communities inevitably lead to increased aggressive behaviour, the creation of self-defence units and kangaroo courts. Those targeted will be based on religion, nationality or suspected family connections.

Clearly the Mozambique government currently lacks such a capacity or is blinded by the importance of “fact talking” as a centrifugal part of its current counteractions in Cabo Delgado. Communities left to their own devices will have a low level of tolerance to those viewed as outsiders, be it culprits, NGOs or humanitarian organisations.

Panic-stricken communities cannot be left to their own devices in comprehending developments surrounding them. The situation is too fluid and moves in too diverse directions to expect local communities to deal with such changes if left in the dark.

Word of mouth accounts

A lack of verified and detailed information on Cabo Delgado is a result of the security sector releasing blurred statements coupled with media outlets lacking access and resources. This results in the proliferation of unverified or fake information which has a tendency to inflate attacks, beheadings and casualties.

Besides the difficulty of reaching the remote regions that Shabaab cells operate in, the situation is further compounded by limiting a free media to report on attacks. The Mozambique government has restricted access to some of the affected villages in the districts of Palma, Nangade, Mocimboa da Praia, Macomia and Quissanga. Linked to this is a media clampdown where measures were implemented to control information. According to Amnesty International, the Council of Ministers approved new regulations on media accreditation fees, known as Decree No 40/2018, on 23 July 2018. The decree was signed into law by Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho de Rosário. It is expected to come into effect during August 2018.

The new laws propose an increase in licensing fees for media outlets and journalists. These regulations include compulsory payments of about $35,000 for radio stations to get broadcast licences. Fees for a community station will cost $830. Independent local publications will have to pay $3,300 in fees while operating media companies will have to pay between $34,500 and $69,000 for licences. Registration fees for new television stations will amount to about $52,000. Foreign correspondents will also not escape the proposed regulations, with a payment of $8,600 required.

The regulations mean that media freedom in Mozambique will become an expensive commodity, resulting in reporting being more controlled and not necessarily a shared and survival stream to those who need it the most: the people of Cabo Delgado.

The relatively scant reporting and coverage of the current hostilities in regional and international media is also responsible for the lukewarm response to the crisis by the regional and international community at large. The Mozambican government does not want much international focus on the current instability, for fear of scaring off potential investors.

Schism between the local population and the Mozambique government

Concerns by local communities relate to FADM use of unwarranted force feeding feelings of anger and mistrust.

Complaints of unlawful arrests of approximately 400 residents, detention of innocent civilians and absence of due legal processes are prevalent. There are concerning but unverified references to incidents of rape by both the militants and the security forces. According to the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office in Pemba a total of 249 individuals have officially been charged, 46 of whom are Tanzanian nationals and 18 of the detainees being female.

Excessive use of force could lead to the affected families joining cell structures, refraining from sharing information on cell presence and planned attacks or food and shelter to cell members. Sheikh Saide Habibe, quoted in Mail & Guardian, warned:

“These young people begin to feel marginalised and seek to gain space, but this space is occupied by traditional leaders, and they find in al-Shabaab an opportunity to be realised. For many of these young people, the group also represents an opportunity to challenge local authorities, an opportunity to build a new social and political order.”

By its own admission, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) in Mozambique’s recent report could not make available exact numbers of communities in Cabo Delgado in need of socio-economic support programmes (food, medicine, shelter). Furthermore, definite impact on internally displaced people as a consequence of violent attacks remains unverified, with the IDMC estimating a conservative number of 2,000. During January 2018, approximately 1,100 families were displaced due to heavy rains. The IDMC report concludes that caution must be applied in attributing IDPs only to attacks by al-Shabaab cells. The need for humanitarian support cannot be ignored with NGOs and aid organisations gaining access to Cabo Delgado to access the actual impact of attacks.

Since my previous article in June 2018, Mozambique: Shadow violence that requires level-headed intervention, dissecting push and pull factors, attacks might have declined, but the need for hard and soft power interventions remains an undeniable reality. In an area where access to information is limited, perceptions count, fear is heightened and trust is eroded. The only actors to benefit from such an environment are the al-Shabaab cells.

People living in fear and in need of socio-economic support have a message to the Mozambique government: the Cabo Delgado region is still in urgent need of sustainable security and development. If left unattended, the psychological scars have their own detrimental consequences DM

Jasmine Opperman is Director, Africa Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC)
Cahora Bassa Dam in Mozambique is Operating Below Capacity Due to Lack of Water
30 August 2018

Cahora Bassa Hydroelectric (HCB), a company that operates the Cahora Bassa dam on the Zambezi River in Tete, Mozambique, made a profit of 7.2 billion meticais (about US$118 million) in 2017, despite the facility being unable to operate at its full capacity due to the low water level in the reservoir, Mozambican state news agency AIM reported.

Speaking in Maputo at an annual meeting on the performance of HCB, Moisés Machava, the company’s technical director, explained that a ‘cyclical drought’ recorded in 2016 reduced the amount of water in the reservoir to 41.8% of the ideal level.

In December 2016, the water level at the Cahora Bassa reservoir reached a minimum of 312.22 metres, or 8 metres below the guide curve (ideal level).vThis was the lowest level since the construction of the dam.

Based on measures taken by the Board of Directors and the above-average precipitation levels throughout the Zambezi Basin, 2017 saw a significant recovery in the reservoir level compared to 2016.

HCB’s management concluded that the level was not sufficient to keep the dam operating at full capacity and therefore decided to deactivate one of its five giant turbines (with an individual capacity to generate 415 megawatts of power).

HCB expects the recovery of the level of the Zambezi to continue through 2018, and that by the end of the year the water level will reach 320.12 metres. However, the company has revealed that it intends to operate only four of the five turbines throughout the year.

HCB generated 13,778 gigawatt-hours of electricity in 2017, more than the initial target of 12,906 gigawatt-hours, but less than the amount generated in the previous four years (reaching a peak of 16,978 gigawatt-hours in 2015).

South African electricity company Eskom is HCB’s largest customer, taking almost 71% of the energy produced. Mozambican public power company Electricidade de Moçambique (EDM), absorbs 24.5%, and Zimbabwean company ZESA takes 4.7%.

In total, HCB paid the Mozambican state about US$130 million in 2017 in the form of taxes, fees and dividends.

HCB’s finances were eased by the early repayment of the debt the Mozambican government incurred with a Franco-Portuguese banking consortium when it bought a majority stake in HCB from the Portuguese state in 2007.

The US$700 million loan, which should have been repaid with HCB’s profits by December 2017, was fully settled in June 2016, i.e. 18 months before the deadline agreed between the parties. (macauhub)
Tense Local Polls in Mozambique Could Signal Major Political Shift
August 27, 2018 1:50 PM
Anita Powell

FILE - Fishing boats sit beneath the skyline of Mozambique's capital Maputo, Apr. 15, 2016.

JOHANNESBURG — The tension and complexity of Mozambique’s upcoming municipal elections — which may signal a major political shift in the Southern African nation — can be seen by looking at the poll’s highest-profile contest: the mayoral race in the capital.

Last week, the electoral commission kicked the two top candidates for mayor of Maputo off the ballot. They include the top candidate for the opposition Renamo Party, Venancio Mondlane, and the man who many thought would be a natural choice for the ruling party, Samora Machel Jr.

Machel is a son of Samora Machel, Mozambique’s first president and co-founder of the powerful Frelimo Party, which has ruled the nation since 1975.

But to many people's surprise, Frelimo passed over Machel Jr. for the mayor post. He is now trying to run as an independent — if the electoral commission allows him on the ballot. That could set up an intrafamily conflict, as Machel’s father-in-law, former tourism minister Fernando Sumbana, made the ruling party shortlist for the mayoral race.

Mozambique's Constitutional Court has the power to put both Mondlane and Machel Jr. back on the ballot. But journalist and commentator Fernando Lima says he has doubts it will be resolved in their favor.

“Having our legal bodies being strongly controlled by the political powers, I have very strong doubts that the constitutional council will rule in favor of the Renamo candidate and Samora Machel, Jr.," he told VOA.

Nervousness ahead of 2019 polls

Alex Vines, head of the Africa Program for think tank Chatham House, said the October 10 local polls, which encompass 53 municipalities, could set the stage for contentious national elections in 2019.

Ahead of the polls, parliament has introduced fees starting at $2,500 for foreign journalists seeking to report in Mozambique. Journalists and rights groups have condemned the proposed fees, saying they amount to censorship.

In addition, “we can already see that there are some splits within Frelimo in the runup to the municipal elections,” Vines said. “Look at Samora Machel Jr., for example, contending for being mayor of Maputo, that against the official Frelimo candidate. So, this is interesting political times in Mozambique, for sure.”

The elections, Vines believes, are going to be extremely close, "and therefore, the authorities are nervous about this,” he said.

But this is no mere political contest, said journalist and commentator Fernando Lima. Renamo fought Frelimo in a brutal 16-year civil war. Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama resumed hostilities in 2014. Dhlakama died suddenly in May, as he was negotiating a peace deal with the government.

“We cannot forget that along with the election process, we have the peace process, which has not been concluded yet,” Lima said. "Renamo still have their armed forces in position, and if you do not manage politically the whole electoral process, yes, you can have a lot of trouble, especially coming from the Renamo side.”
Joint Statement on UK, SACU and Mozambique EPA
Joint meeting of the United Kingdom (UK), the Southern African Customs Union member states (SACU) and Mozambique trade ministers on a future UK, SACU and Mozambique Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).

29 August 2018
From: Department for International Trade and George Hollingbery

The Honourable Ministers responsible for Trade in the UK, G Hollingbery and in SACU and Mozambique, herein represented by B. J. Kenewendo of Botswana, met in Cape Town, Republic of South Africa, today, 28th August 2018.

We welcomed the significant progress made on a future UK, SACU, and Mozambique EPA that will ensure that the parties maintain the current market access and replicate the effects of the existing EU-SADC EPA, which will ensure continuity of trade relations between the UK, SACU and Mozambique once the EU-SADC EPA no longer applies to the UK. In this regard therefore:

We set out today our shared understanding that inclusive trade is essential for poverty eradication and sustained growth. We agreed that the UK-SACU and Mozambique EPA must promote development and support the integration efforts of the African Continent.

The 2 sides commit to continue to work together towards the conclusion of a future UK, SACU and Mozambique EPA that ensures continuity in the trade relationship once the EU-SADC EPA no longer applies to the UK.

We recalled our roundtable discussions on trade relations post-Brexit on the 19th July 2017, wherein we agreed to explore ways to ensure that the existing trade arrangement between the UK, SACU and Mozambique currently governed by the EU-SADC EPA, will not be disrupted by the UK’s departure from the EU. The UK re-affirmed its commitment to ensuring continuity of the effects of the EU-SADC EPA following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, in particular maintaining the current market access for SACU and Mozambique into the UK.

We welcome the significant progress our officials have made since then in the discussions on a future UK, SACU, and Mozambique EPA, that will replicate the effects of the existing EU-SADC EPA which has strong aspects of reciprocity. During this process, we recognise the UK’s continuing obligations while it remains an EU Member State.

We have today confirmed that we will be in a position to ensure that an Agreement can be in place between the UK, SACU, and Mozambique, as soon as the EU-SADC EPA no longer applies to the UK. This confirmation, and the future UK, SACU and Mozambique EPA, are without prejudice to the terms of the EU-SADC EPA.

We take note of the progress achieved regarding the UK and EU’s agreement on a time-limited implementation period between the EU and UK following the UK’s departure from the EU, and in particular the intention for the UK to be treated, for the purposes of EU international agreements, as an EU Member State for the duration of the implementation period between the EU and UK. The SACU and Mozambique Trade Ministers indicated that they look forward to receiving formal confirmation of the same via the proposed notification, and to continuing to receive regular updates on progress from the UK on the EU-UK negotiations under Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. SACU and Mozambique emphasise the importance of continued cumulation between all the parties in promoting continuity and to avoid disruption in trade, and urge both the UK and the EU to recognise the importance of cumulation in the discussions on a post-Brexit EU-UK arrangement.

Nevertheless, we recognise that it is responsible to prepare for all potential outcomes. We confirm that we are therefore taking steps to ensure that our replicated agreement can be in place, if required, immediately upon the UK’s withdrawal from the EU in March 2019, in the event that no agreement is reached between the UK and EU.

We re-affirm that we share a strong ambition to further strengthen our partnership in the future, in order to further benefit both parties. Our EPA will form the core basis of our future economic and development relationship. We recognised that some issues have been identified that will require consideration after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU in March 2019 and therefore direct our officials to prepare a built-in agenda on those outstanding issues for expeditious conclusion. We also acknowledge a range of potential issues which could help us further strengthen our partnership, and look forward to discussing those at the most appropriate time.

We re-affirm our intention to cooperate closely in order to ensure that the mutual benefits of a UK, SACU and Mozambique EPA are fully realised.

In addition, we reiterate support for a rules-based multilateral trading system, with the World Trade Organization (WTO) at its core, reaffirm the centrality of development in the WTO’s work and the need to continue to fight WTO non-compliant measures that lead to protectionism and unilateralism. We remain committed to a rules-based, transparent, non-discriminatory, open and inclusive multilateral trading system and are determined to work together to further strengthen the WTO and ensure that it facilitates effective participation of all countries in the multilateral trading system.

Finally, we recognise that the affirmations set forth in this political understanding are not intended to be legally binding and remain ‘without prejudice’ to the technical discussions currently underway.
Mozambique: AU Donates $100,000 Towards Disaster Relief
APA News

The African Union has donated $100,000 to support the efforts of the Mozambican government in preventing natural disasters and in providing relief for their victims, APA can report on Thursday.Jacques Ndoumbe, the head of an AU mission visiting Mozambique to gather experience about natural disaster management, delivered the donation to the Minister of State Administration, Carmelita Namashalua.

“I am returning to AU headquarters with a god impression and I believe that Mozambique is one of the African countries with the best record in managing disasters, and hoped that its experiences could be replicated elsewhere”, Ndoumbe said on Thursday in the capital Maputo.

Thanking Ndoumbe for the gesture, Namashalua said it indicated that the AU is following the successes and constraints in Mozambique’s efforts to prevent and manage disasters.

“We have the Disaster Fund, approved in 2017, to which the government allocates $4 million annually and this sum will be deposited in that fund” she said.

The official told the AU delegation that the government is currently analysing the expected behavior of the main river basins in the region, as the 2018-2019 rainy season approaches.

The rainy season runs from October through to March.

Mozambique, which is vulnerable to natural disaster, is cyclically pelted with torrential rains resulting in deaths in which rivers burst their banks and drive thousands of villagers to flee flooded homes.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Fans Pay Their Respects to Aretha Franklin
August 28, 2018, 4:59 PM

Crowds of fans mourn Aretha Franklin at public viewing in Detroit

DETROIT — Even at her public viewing, late diva Aretha Franklin was dressed to the nines. The regal presence the singer exuded in life was captured at her viewing on Tuesday, with the late Queen of Soul in a gold-plated casket dressed completely in red, including high-heeled pumps, proving, as one person put it, that she was a "diva to the end."

As Franklin's powerful vocals from classic gospel performances were piped through the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer looked as if she was preparing for one more performance. She wore earrings, red lipstick and red nail polish, and her hair was cut short. Her dress — with its ornamental elements and sheer netting fabric — was reminiscent of an outfit she would wear onstage and "something she would have selected for herself," her niece, Sabrina Owens, told The Associated Press.

Mourners poured into the museum to pay their final respects to Franklin, who died Aug. 16 of pancreatic cancer at the age of 76. The two-day viewing was part of a week of commemorations for the legend, who will be laid to rest Friday.

The Wright Museum is a cultural landmark in Detroit, where Franklin grew up and spent most of her life. Museum board member Kelly Major Green said the goal was to create a dignified and respectful environment akin to a church, the place where Franklin got her start.

"What we wanted to do is be reflective of the Queen," Green said. "It's beautiful. She's beautiful."

Green said Franklin's attire and pose communicated both power and comfort, as she did in life. The shoes, in particular, show "The Queen of Soul is diva to the end," Green said.

Fans strolled by the casket, some in tears; one woman blew a kiss to Franklin, who was surrounded by massive arrangements of roses of different hues.

Tammy Gibson, 49, of Chicago said she arrived about 5:30 a.m. She came alone but made fast friends with others who sang and reminisced.

Growing up, Gibson said she heard Franklin's music "playing all the time" by her parents, who "told me to go to bed — it's an adult party."

Outside the museum, she said: "I know people are sad, but it's just celebrating — people dancing and singing her music." Indeed, a group of women were singing her hit "Freeway of Love."

Aretha Franklin remembered for her role in the civil rights movement
Franklin had been a constant in Gibson's life.

"I saw the gold-plated casket — it dawned on me: She's gone, but her legacy and her music will live on forever."

Another fan, LaToya McIntyre, told CBS News she came all the way from Las Vegas to pay her respects, and didn't mind waiting in line.

"They do it for iPhones, for Jordans, why not the Queen of Soul," she said.

Sir Diego Brazil flew from Miami to be here. He says Franklin's music gave him hope at a difficult time in his life.

"Her music saved my life in 1997 when I was contemplating suicide," he said.

Denice Johnson said she respected the way Franklin stayed in touch with her roots. "She didn't forget where she came from. I loved her for that."

A send-off to match her legacy

Owens said she began planning for this week's festivities earlier this year.

"After all she gave to the world, I felt we needed to give her an appropriate send-off that would match her legacy," she said. "She loved the city of Detroit and the city of Detroit loved her."

The roses that surround the casket, Owens said, reflected her love for the flower and her propensity to send arrangements "in grand fashion."

Franklin was dressed in red symbolic of her membership in the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. The service organization of predominantly black women planned a private ceremony Tuesday night in the museum in honor of Franklin.

The setting for the viewings could not be more fitting, according to Paula Marie Seniors, an associate professor of Africana studies at Virginia Tech.

"I think it's incredibly significant — she is being honored almost like a queen at one of the most important black museums in the United States," said Seniors.

The Queen of Soul, Seniors said, was "a singer of the universe." Yet she added that Franklin also was "so unapologetically black — she was so proud of being a black woman."

Owens said the museum has held services for many dignitaries, most famously Rosa Parks: "It was important that Aretha take her place next to them and lie in state there."

For all the formality, however, Owens said the viewings are intended to be welcoming and accessible for her legions of fans.

"She respected them — she understood that if it were not for them, she wouldn't be who she is," she said.

The museum also plans to stage an exhibition honoring Franklin. "Think" is billed as "a tribute to the Queen of Soul," and is scheduled to run from Sept. 21 to Jan. 21, 2019.

Franklin had strong loyalty to her family and fans to her last days.

"What you see with her is what you get," Owens said. "She was a fighter — she fought this disease hard, all the way to the end."

One of those fans, Cheryl Matthews, never met Franklin but felt close — and hurt by the loss.

"She feels like she could be a sister or an aunt to me," said Matthews, a 64-year-old Detroiter who attended the viewing. "She's always been here."

Linda Swanson, whose funeral home is handling services for Franklin, said the singer had covered the funeral expenses of many needy families over the years.

"It was nothing for Miss Franklin to call us," she said. "She would take care of the expenses — and usually in full without being asked or prompted to do so. Many of the people you see are here because they were blessed by her big heart and her desire to reach beyond the boundaries of her own success and touch others."

Owens stressed that the viewing and other events could not happen without a group she calls "Aretha's angels." Franklin never spoke about her wishes, Owens said, but she hopes the services are what "she would have wanted and that she would have been proud of."
UN Envoy Calls for Dialogue Ahead of December Elections in DRC
2018/8/28 9:49:04

The special representative and head of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), Leila Zerrougui, on Monday called for dialogue ahead of the December elections in the country.

Zerrougui told members of the Security Council that "tangible progress has been made" on the ongoing electoral process. However, she said that despite this progress, the coming period before the elections take place on Dec. 23 "will be marked by disputes and intense political consultations."

She encouraged all parties to continue to engage in dialogue.

Zerrougui also said that the perceived credibility of the electoral process "remains a key concern" and that this could heighten tensions in the country.

She added that "more meaningful inclusion of women" in the electoral process is a priority, as well as ensuring that there is "no intimidation of political activists and human rights defenders."

Zerrougui also called for the lifting of the general ban on public demonstrations and upholding the freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, which are crucial to making meaningful progress as the holding of elections draws nearer.

A number of Security Council members said that the UN is willing to offer logistical aid for the coming elections in the DRC, which has rejected all offers of help.

The DRC's ambassador to the UN, Ignace Gata Mavita, defended the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), his country's electoral committee.

"The results achieved so far by CENI should allow us to trust in the institution and allow it to carry out its mission without interference in its work based on considerations which owe more to speculation than reality," he said.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has said that the humanitarian situation "remains worrying" in Uvira territory, South Kivu, one of the 26 provinces of the DRC, where more than 14,000 people have been displaced following an attack by a coalition of the Mai Mai militia on Aug. 18. Many people who were displaced were forced to flee again.

In addition, earlier this month, some 3,900 people were reportedly displaced in northern Shabunda and some 3,200 people in the southeast of the province of Maniema, due to clashes between armed groups and the armed forces.

Since June, the UN and its partners have been assisting more than 600,000 people in need, including internally displaced people and refugees.

According to an agreement reached between President Joseph Kabila and the opposition on Dec. 31, 2016, elections were to be held by the end of 2017, and Kabila was not to run for a third term or initiate amendments to the constitution.

Citing logistical difficulties that prevented the elections from being held on Nov. 5, 2017, CENI published a new electoral calendar for combined presidential, legislative and provincial elections to take place on Dec. 23, 2018.

Following the end of the voter registration period, between July 25 and Aug. 8, Kabila's party, the Peoples' Party for Reconciliation and Democracy, announced that its candidate for president will be former Interior Minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, thus putting an end to speculation as to Kabila's intentions.