Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Overthrow of CPP Truncated Ghana’s National Development – CPP Chairperson

By Ghana News Agency -Feb 24, 2021

Nana Akosua Sarpong Kumakuma, Chairperson, Convention People’s Party (CPP), says the overthrow of Dr Kwame Nkrumah and the CPP government on February 24, 1966 truncated Ghana’s national development.

She said 55 years down the line, the Ghanaian economy was just moving in circles “not able to achieve much as compared to achievements chalked under the CPP government”.

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency, she said the CPP government had a clear plan to ensure development through the creation of jobs, factories, provision of good roads and the motivation and education of Ghanaians to solve their own problems, which were still evident to all.

She said the 1966 shameful act was not a fight just against the Nkrumaist political party but against national development and human progress which had led to challenges and untold suffering of Ghanaians.

She said to commemorate the day, party members and executives held a ceremony at Saltpond in the Central Region, where Dr Nkrumah planted a tree on the founding of the CPP as a symbolic representation of the Party, saying, “the tree is here standing strong”.

She urged politicians to rededicate themselves to national development and the dignity of the Ghanaian.

On February 24, 1966, while Dr Nkrumah was on a state visit to North Vietnam and China, his government was overthrown in a violent coup d’état led by members of the national military and the police, with backing from destabilizing and exploitative foreign interests.

The conspirators, led by General Joseph Arthur Ankrah, named themselves the National Liberation Council and ruled as a military junta for three years.

Dr Nkrumah did not learn of the coup until he arrived in China. He stayed in Beijing for four days and Premier Zhou Enlai treated him with courtesy.

He never returned to Ghana, but he continued to push for his vision of African unity and projection of the African personality, and lived in exile in Conakry, Guinea, as the guest of President Ahmed Sékou Touré, who made him honorary co-president of that country until his demise in 1972.

Ghana First to Receive Covax Covid-19 Vaccines

By Ghana News Agency- Feb 25, 2021

dpa/GNA – The West African nation of Ghana on Wednesday became the first country to receive Covid-19 vaccines from the humanitarian vaccine distribution mechanism Covax.

The arrival represents the start of a massive Covid-19 vaccination campaign encompassing 20 African countries.

“This is a momentous occasion, as the arrival of the Covid-19 vaccines into Ghana is critical in bringing the pandemic to an end,” World Health Organization (WHO) Ghana representative Francis Kasolo and UNICEF Ghana representative Anne-Claire Dufay said in a joint statement.

The 600,000 Covax-sponsored vaccines are part of an initial tranche of deliveries of the AstraZeneca vaccine coming from the Serum Institute of India, according to the statement.

The Covax initiative aims to deliver almost 2 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines this year.

“The shipments also represent the beginning of what should be the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history,” Kasolo and Dufay said.

“As health workers and other front-line staff are vaccinated, we will be able to gradually see a return to normalcy,” the two representatives added.

Ghana is planning to begin its vaccination campaign on March 2, said information minister designate Kojo Oppong Nkrumah.

Health workers, people older than 60 years, people with underlying health conditions as well as essential workers and teachers will be first to be immunized, according to Nkrumah.

So far, less than two dozen African countries have started Covid-19 vaccination, according to the WHO.

Africa has recorded more than 3.8 million Covid-19 cases, 3.5 per cent of all reported cases worldwide, and more than 102,000 deaths, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control.

Impact of COVID-19 Reinforces Gender Inequality-World Bank

By Ghana News Agency -Feb 24, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic is creating new challenges to women’s economic security, health, and safety as around the world women continue to face laws and relations that restrict their economic opportunity, a new World Bank report has revealed.

The report from the “Women, Business and the Law 2021” made available to the Ghana News Agency at Tema said economic and social impact of the pandemic had reinforced gender inequalities as laws still restricted women’s economic opportunities despite progress.

The Women, Business, and the Law 2021, measures the laws and regulations across eight areas that affected women’s economic opportunities in 190 countries, from September 2019 to October 2020.

The data, offered objective and measurable benchmarks for global progress toward gender equality, adding that following the outbreak of the pandemic, the report also looked at government responses to the COVID-19 crisis and how the pandemic had impacted women at work and at home, focusing on childcare, access to justice, health and safety.

The pandemic, the report revealed contributed to a rise in both the severity and frequency of gender-based violence with preliminary research showing that since early 2020, governments introduced about 120 new measures including; hotlines, psychological assistance, and shelters to protect women from violence.

According to the report, some governments also took steps to provide access to justice in several ways, including; declaring family cases urgent during lockdown and allowing remote court proceedings for family matters, noting however that, governments still had room to enact measures and policies aimed at addressing the root causes of this violence.

The report stated that despite the pandemic, 27 economies in all regions and income groups enacted reforms across all areas and increased good practices in legislation in 45 cases during the year covered.

The greatest number of reforms introduced or amended laws affecting pay and parenthood.

However, parenthood is also the area that leaves the most room for improvement globally, including; paid parental leave, whether benefits are administered by the government, and whether the dismissal of pregnant women is prohibited.

It said reforms were also needed to address the restrictions women faced in the type of jobs, tasks, and hours they can work, segregating them into lower paid jobs. And in 100 economies, laws do not mandate that men and women be paid the same for equally valued jobs.

According to the report to achieve legal gender equality required a concerted effort must be put in place by governments, civil society, and international organizations, among others.

It also observed that legal and regulatory reforms could serve as an important catalyst to improve the lives of women and their families and communities.

The report quoted Mr David Malpass, World Bank Group President who said; “despite progress in many countries, there have been troubling reversals in a few, including; restricting women’s travel without the permission of a male guardian.

“This pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities that disadvantage girls and women, including; barriers to attend school and maintain jobs.

“Women are also facing a rise in domestic violence and health and safety challenges. Women should have the same access to finance and the same rights to inheritance as men and must be at the centre of our efforts toward an inclusive and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic”.

The report found that many governments had put in place measures to address some of the impacts of the pandemic on working women. “For example, less than a quarter of all economies surveyed in the report legally guaranteed employed parents any time off for childcare before the pandemic.

“Since then, in light of school closures, nearly an additional 40 economies around the world have introduced leave or benefit policies to help parents with childcare. Even so, these measures are likely insufficient to address the challenges many working mothers already face, or the childcare crisis”.

“While it is encouraging that many countries have proactively taken steps to help women navigate the pandemic, it’s clear that more work is needed, especially in improving parental leave and equalizing pay,” the report quoted Mari Pangestu, WB Managing Director of Development Policy and Partnerships.

“Countries need to create a legal environment that enhances women’s economic inclusion, so that they can make the best choices for themselves and their families,” the director stated.

Tema and Kpone Residents Express Mixed Reactions to COVID-19 Vaccine

By Ghana News Agency -Feb 24, 2021

Some traders at Tema Community One market as well as residents of Kpone-Katamanso Municipality on Wednesday expressed mixed reactions on the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccination exercise.

Mr Kwaku Aggeman-Manu, the Minster of Health-designate, at 0700 hours today, February, 24th, 2021 on behalf of the Government of Ghana received the nation’s first batch of the COVID-19 vaccine.

In a random interview with residents in Tema and Kpone-Katamanso by the Ghana News Agency Tema team, some school of thought admitted that the coronavirus had retarded the progress of the country and it was good to receive the vaccine, which would help to improve the health condition of the citizens.

According to the school of thought, they are ready to take the vaccine because according to them government have invested more funds to secure the medication to protect citizen, “so we must be prepared to partake in the COVID-19 vaccination exercise”.

Most of the traders who said they were ready to partake in the vaccination stressed that even though it might not be compulsory to take the vaccine, it may be a requirement for traveling outside the country very soon.

“The same applies to the yellow fever vaccine, many people refused to go for the vaccination at the Tema Harbour, but now whenever you want to travel outside the country, you are required to present a yellow fever card as part of your particulars that shows that you have been vaccinated,” some of the traders stated.

The other school of thought who kicked against participation in the COVID-19 vaccination based their argument on the ‘wrong foundation’ that COVID-19 was for the affluent people especially those who had air condition at the work places, the homes, cars hence the government will be making money out of it.

They also pressed the panic button and questioned whether there would be any side effects after taking the vaccination stressing that if the vaccine could not entirely protect them from contracting COVID-19 then they would prefer adhering to the protocols.

Scores of others also proffered that Ghana was endowed with natural herbs, which when invested in could have fought against the disease, boost people’s immune systems and served as COVID-19 cure.

“I am not taking the medicine until I see the authorities and their family members taking it, after that I will investigate whether the vaccine given to them would be the same as what would be offered the public,” Francis Nuertey Tetteh of Kpone stated.

“I will wait for a month and if nothing happens to those who have taken it, then I will, because I don’t know how it will react with my immune system,” Madam Sheila Korkor Nartey also of Kpone stated.

“I will take it because the rate at which people are dying is scary, although there has been a lot of misconceptions about the vaccine, Ghana is not the first country to use it,” Mr Andy Sackitey another resident stated.

GNA observed during the survey that, those who kicked against partaking in the COVID-19 vaccination exercise were afraid of the after effect, did not trust the health authorities, and lack understanding of the whole issues.

Scores therefore appealed to the National Commission for Civic Education, Information Services Department and the media to assist in educating the public to reduce the fear syndrome as well as the misconception about COVID-19 pandemic it is a disease for the affluent.

Reflections on Some Challenging Questions About the Current Situation in Ethiopia

February 19, 2021

Editor’s note : The article was first shared on “People to People” forum.

By Messay Kebede

On the Support of some Western Circles to the TPLF 

One thing that is as surprising as the swift military defeat of the TPLF is the support that it gets from some Western circles. In light of the TPLF’s abysmal record of human right abuses and the recent numerous atrocities it committed in the wake of its defeat, one would expect that the Western opinion would welcome the victory of federal forces with a sigh of relief.  But alas, the expectation waned when officials from some Western governments started to echo the lies of the most ardent supporters of the TPLF of Tigrean and Western origins. Not only did the support ignore the recent extensive destructions and crimes committed by the organization, but it also attributed them to the federal government, even as it is beyond doubt that the TPLF started the confrontation and that no evidence taken on the ground corroborates the charge. 

Ethiopians have been grappling to find some explanation for the positions that Western governments took. The prevailing opinion is that the federal government did not do enough both to inform the West about the origin and purpose of the war and to counter the lies and propaganda of Tigrean activists and their Western allies. To this explanation is added a second one, which is that the TPLF is using the complex and extended network of Western partnerships, mostly based on buyoffs, which network it was able to establish during its dictatorial rule over Ethiopia. The third reason has to do with a defining characteristics of the TPLF since its inception, namely, the culture of lies and deceptions, together with the cynical dictum that any means is good to achieve one’s end. Where a whole governing party and its numerous supporters have cultivated the art of lying with great skill and raised it to the level of most preferred political weapon, a point is reached when those who have lived in this bubble of lies for such a long time lose sight of reality. As a result, the lies can be told shamelessly and convincingly to the point that they can fool anybody. In the presence of such trained liars, the customary suspicion of the West can easily give way to downright gullibility. 

I add a fourth explanation, which is that the TPLF, in presenting itself as a victim of an unprovoked aggression, has triggered the usual racist reactions of the West whenever crises occur in Africa. The hidden but entrenched stereotypes of barbarism and savagery quickly surface blocking all possibility of impartial assessment of the situation. All the more reason for the stereotypes to reappear is that the case involves a government and its citizens, which by definition means in Africa that the government is brutalizing innocent victims. Even though Nazi and Fascist regimes appeared and grew in the European soil, the long-held belief that barbarism is in the DNA of Africans takes over the interpretation of occurring events. It follows that violent stories about African governments need not be verified: such stories must have happened, as the contrary is unthinkable as a matter of sheer consistency. When similar stories occur in the West, they need to be investigated as they exhibit a deviance from the normal behavior. Not so in Africa, such stories are in the realm of what is to be expected. 

The Politics of Leverage

Sudan’s incursion into and occupation of Ethiopian territories is the other event that took most Ethiopians by surprise. Various explanations were and are still advanced in an attempt to make sense of this sudden military aggression, even as negotiations over border demarcation were still underway and that no side indicated that the talks had broken off. 

The first explanation that jumps to mind refers to the ongoing military operation in Tigray. Seeing that Ethiopian federal forces are quite busy defeating the TPLF’s numerous and well-equipped militia forces and pacifying Tigray, and perhaps even drawing the implication that Ethiopian military capability has been weakened as a result, the Sudanese government concluded that the opportunity to recover claimed lands is too good to pass up. The second explanation points to the internal turmoil that is shaking Sudan. What better opportunity to appease the protests and the divisions within the political elite than to stir up the nationalist sentiment under the guise of recovering territories illegally appropriated by Ethiopia? Unsurprisingly, the higher echelon of the Sudanese military apparatus took the initiative of the invasion, with the obvious hope that it will reinstate the lost hegemony of the military over their civilian partners. 

The third reason involves Egypt and the dispute over the Nile dam. It is argued that the Sudanese military leadership has always had close relationships with the Egyptian military leaders. So that, Egypt’s opposition to the dam offers the good opportunity to renew the much sought-after ties. Putting enough pressure on the Ethiopian government could either delay the construction of the dam or make Ethiopia more accommodating to Egypt’s demands. The payoff for siding with Egypt will be all the more rewarding for both countries the more the negotiations over the dam turn into a match of two against one. All things considered, Sudan’s interest is best served when it sides with Egypt.

I have no doubt that all these reasons have contributed to the decision to invade the Ethiopian territory. Still, they seem to take one thing for granted, namely, that Sudan is indeed ready to wage war against Ethiopia and has come to the conclusion that it can prevail militarily. All the reasons enumerated to account for the Sudanese decision are also reasons liable to infuriate the Ethiopian people and government, with the consequence that war becomes inevitable. I believe that neither side really wants this outcome. Then what on earth did the Sudanese government expect to gain by invading Ethiopia?

Without dismissing the option of military confrontation, the Ethiopian government has consistently made the resumption of talks conditional on the Sudanese withdrawal to its previous official borders. It is understandable that it does not want to jeopardize its victory over the TPLF by moving quickly its troops out of Tigray. Equally reasonable is the thinking that, if war is inevitable, it must be waged with the full capacity of the Ethiopian military if one is to avoid the perpetuation of indecisive skirmishes that will only weaken it. In short, the best option for the Ethiopian government is to buy time. Hence my question: is time on the side of Ethiopia?

My thinking is that the Sudanese military leadership decided to invade the territories by betting on the unwillingness of the Ethiopian government to respond militarily to the invasion. Its guiding idea is that Ethiopia is in dire need of the good will of the Sudanese government. Neither the situation in Tigray will stabilize nor will the negotiations on the Nile dam go in its direction if Ethiopia does not have the support of the Sudan. Some such leverage must translate into a payoff for Sudan, which is that Ethiopia, however reluctantly, must accept the colonial demarcation of the two countries, the very one drawn in 1903 by the British surveyor, Major Gwynn, without the consent of the then government of Ethiopia. In other words, the Sudanese government is not asking for a military confrontation with Ethiopia; rather, it is blackmailing Ethiopia for its assistance in pacifying Tigray and solving its problems with Egypt in terms favoring its wishes.

Since the main purpose of the invasion is to provide Sudanese military elite with a nationalist aura so as to give it an edge in its competition with its civilian counterpart for the control of power, I have difficulty believing that the threat of war or diplomatic pressures can be effective in obtaining a withdrawal to previous positions. The decision to back off would constitute a heavy blow to the political ambition of the military. Unless there is a major political shakeup in Sudan or the Ethiopian government secretly surrenders to the blackmail––a possibility I personally discard––war seems, therefore, inevitable. Such an outcome would be little surprising: as reconfirmed by what happened in Tigray, wrong calculations of the possible reactions of the other side have triggered most wars. 

I contend that Ethiopia and Sudan find themselves in a similar situation: the flawed calculations of one side leads to a war that neither side really wants. As Friedrich Engels said speaking of the manner history unfolds, “there are innumerable intersecting forces, an infinite series of parallelograms of forces which give rise to one resultant — the historical event.” So that, “what each individual wills is obstructed by everyone else, and what emerges is something that no one willed.”

In sum, the above analyses call attention to the fact that the case of Tigray and that of Sudan are closely connected. The Sudanese invasion would not have occurred without the TPLF’s insurrection in Tigray. The final pacification of Tigray also depends in some measures on the friendly or unfriendly attitude of the Sudanese government. And if we involve here Egypt, as we should do, it becomes clear that war against Sudan would just be an extension of the war in Tigray. History repeats itself: internal disputes have always been a gateway to external foes. 

Messay Kebede

University of Dayton

15 Members of Ethiopia’s Peace-keeping Force in South Sudan Desert

February 23, 2021

Maj. Gen. Mohammed Tessema, ENDF head of indoctrination (Photo credit : ENDF)


Fifteen Ethiopian peace-keeping of ethnic-Tigrai origin in South Sudan on Monday refused to return to Ethiopia. They did so on alleged ground that they fear for their safety if they return to Ethiopia.

According to a report by The Associated Press, the soldiers were part of 169 personnel who were scheduled to return.  The cited U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric to report that the soldiers who refused to board a plane “… are receiving support from the South Sudanese Ministry of Refugee Affairs.” It is also said that UNHCR is in touch with Sudanese authorities regarding their situations. 

On  Sunday, Tigray Media House claimed in a “breaking news coverage” that passports of ethnic Tigreans were confiscated. 

The Ethiopian Defense Force confirmed the news saying that 15 Tigrigna speaking members of Ethiopian Defense force caused altercation at Juba airport and refused to return home.

Head of Indoctrination of the Ethiopian Defense Force, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Tessema, is cited as saying some ethnic Tigrean working for different agencies of the United Nations facilitated the situation. He also said that the issue was coordinated in a way to be at the limelight in the international media tarnishing the image of Ethiopia.  

He demanded an apology from the UNHCR for biased media coverage over the matter. 

Sudan Attempts to Ethicize Border Conflict with Ethiopia

February 23, 2021

Sudan related the border conflict with Ethiopia to the ethnicity of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Demeke Mekonnen

Ambassador Dina Mufti, Spokesperson of MFAE (Photo credit: MFAE)


It is evident that ethnic politics, which has a constitutional basis with a support administrative structure, made Ethiopia weaker in terms of dealing with domestic political and security issues, and also in the face of external aggression.  It is not secret some state actors were funding radical ethnic nationalists movements against the state of Ethiopia. 

The task of ensuring security in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, among other areas, seems to be getting murkier despite the Ethiopian Defense Force giving a blow to Tigray People’s Liberation Front’s project of restoration to power. 

The development in the region provided Sudan with the opportunity to invade Ethiopian territories from which Ethiopian forces withdrew to respond to the TPLF forces. 

Ardent ethnic Tigray activists are busy trying to give the story of TPLF’s irresponsible and badly planned attack on the Ethiopian Defense Force a twist to make it sound as a war declared on ethnic Tigreans. The organization’s spokesperson Getachew Reda said, after TPLF lost the war, that it does not matter if the Ethiopian Forces took control of Mekelle and all the cities in the region. He said Tigray will be ungovernable. And pro-TPLF activists seem to be doing that through their advocacy works for which they are spending left, right and center to have media personalities and non-state actors on board. 

Sudan playing ethnic politics 

Perhaps Sudan is the first state actor to play the ethnic-politics card, for purposes of international politics, in the post TPLF Ethiopia. 

The Foreign Ministry on Sunday published a statement regarding the border issue. But it rather tried to frame it as a matter relevant to Amhara, not Ethiopia. 

The gist of the statement is cited by the Sudan Tribune : “The Sudanese foreign ministry issued a virulent response to this statement, hinting that Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Ethiopia, Demeke Mekonnen who is an Amhara seeks through this conflict to defend the interests of the Amhara Region and jeopardizes the interests of Ethiopia.” 

For Sudanese Foreign Ministry, the border came to be a source of conflict after Demeke Mekonen became Foreign Affairs Minister. 

“The Sudanese-Ethiopian borders were never a source of conflict (between the two countries) until the coming to the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs of someone who uses it to serve interests and purposes of a specific ethnic group. To achieve it, he is ready to gamble with the great interests of the Ethiopian people, their security and stability (…),” Sudan Tribune quoted the statement from the Ministry. 

Indeed, there was no border conflict between the two countries. It happened after Sudanese forces took control of Ethiopian territories following a TPLF attack on Ethiopian Defense Force. 

The statement from Sudan was supposedly a response to the Ethiopian position that ” the conflict being trumpeted by the Sudanese government’s military wing could only serve the interests of a third party at the expense of the Sudanese people.” 

Egypt Backs Sudanese Proposal to Form International Quartet Committee to Mediate GERD Negotiations: FM

Ahram Online

Wednesday 24 Feb 2021

The proposed committee would include the US, the EU, the UN, and the African Union

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told a Congolese official on Wednesday that Cairo supports a Sudanese proposal to form an international quartet committee to mediate the stalled negotiations on the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

The proposed committee would include the US, the European Union (EU), the United Nations (UN), and the African Union (AU), and would be under the auspices of Félix Tshisekedi, the president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the current head of the AU.

In a meeting in the Egyptian capital, Shoukry discussed with Alphonse Ntumba, the coordinator of the panel concerned with the DRC's presidency of the African Union (AU), the latest developments on the GERD.

Minister Shoukry expressed hope that the proposed methodology would push the negotiations forward and assist the three countries in reaching the desired agreement as soon as possible, foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez said in a statement following the meeting.

The minister also expressed Egypt's appreciation for the Congolese endeavours in following up on the latest development in the GERD issue.

According to Hafez, Shoukry told the Congolese official that Egypt hopes the DRC can play a "key role" to help reach a legally binding agreement on the rules of filling and operating the Ethiopian dam.

Since last year, the AU has been mediating the talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia over the dispute caused by GERD.

The last round of AU negotiations, mediated by South Africa, the former president of the AU, stalled in January due to Khartoum's withdrawal from the latest meetings in objection to the methodology upon which the talks had been held.

Sudan called for granting a bigger role to the experts involved in the talks instead of holding direct discussions between the three nations. Ethiopia, as well as Egypt, rejects Sudan's demand.

The US and the EU have been participating in the AU-sponsored talks as observers.

Before the AU stepped in to mediate the long-standing dispute, the US Treasury Department hosted more than one round of tripartite talks from November 2019 until February 2020, but Ethiopia withdrew from the last session of talks and refused to sign any binding deal.

Egypt fears the project will significantly cut its crucial water supplies from the River Nile, while Sudan has concerns over how the reservoir will be managed.

Ethiopia says the massive project, which it hopes will make it Africa’s largest power exporter, is key to its development efforts.

Egypt has stressed on multiple occasions that it supports Ethiopia's development goals, but has insisted that a legally binding agreement between the three sides is the only acceptable way to end the dispute and safeguard its water rights.

However, Ethiopia completed the first filling of the dam last summer and announced plans to complete the second filling in July without waiting for a deal to be signed.

Egypt Insists on Securing its Water Rights While Preserving Interests of All Parties in Any GERD Accord: Minister

Ahram Online

Wednesday 24 Feb 2021

Egypt's irrigation minister and a Congolese official discussed Sudan’s proposal to form an international quartet committee to mediate the stalled negotiations on the dam

Egypt insists that any accord over the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) must preserve its water rights as well as serve the interest of all parties, Irrigation and Water Resources Minister Mohamed Abdel-Aty told Congolese official Alphonse Ntumba, according to an official statement.

In a meeting in Cairo with Ntumba, the coordinator of the panel concerned with the DRC's presidency of the AU, Abdel-Aty stressed Egypt’s keenness on reaching a fair and binding legal agreement that takes into account the interests of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.

The two officials discussed Sudan’s proposal, which Cairo backs, to form an international quartet committee to mediate the stalled negotiations on the dam.

Abdel-Aty stressed that Egypt supports its African counterparts in Nile Basin countries in providing drinking water for its citizens and implementing rainwater harvesting and other projects.

Their meeting comes hours after Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told the Congolese official that Cairo backs Khartoum’s proposal on forming the quartet committee comprising of the US, the EU, the UN and the AU to mediate the GERD negotiations.

The mediation talks will be sponsored by Félix Tshisekedi, the president of the DRC, the current head of the AU.

Shoukry expressed hope that the proposed methodology would push the negotiations forward and assist the three countries in reaching the desired agreement as soon as possible.

Since last year, the AU has been mediating the talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia over the decade-long dispute caused by the GERD.

The last round of AU negotiations, mediated by South Africa, the former president of the AU, stalled in January due to Khartoum's withdrawal from the latest meetings in objection to the methodology upon which the talks had been held.

Sudan called for granting a bigger role to the experts involved in the talks instead of holding direct discussions between the three nations. Ethiopia, as well as Egypt, rejected Sudan's demand.

The efforts to resolve the crisis come amid worries over controversial plans by Addis Ababa to complete the second filling in July without an accord with Cairo and Khartoum.

Egypt fears the project will significantly cut its crucial water supplies from the River Nile, while Sudan has concerns over how the reservoir will be managed.

Ethiopia says the massive project, which it hopes will make it Africa’s largest power exporter, is key to its development efforts.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Three Speeches in Detroit (1963-1965): Malcolm X from the Grassroots to the African Revolution

Lessons delivered then have implications for the 21st century

By Abayomi Azikiwe Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Tuesday February 23, 2021

African American History Month Series No. 4

Note: These remarks were delivered at an African American History Month virtual webinar hosted by the Moratorium NOW! Coalition on Monday February 22, 2021. The event was held in honor of Malcolm X, El Hajj Malik Shabazz, on the 56th anniversary of his martyrdom. Other speakers and performers at the meeting included Detroit educator and poet, Wanda Olugbala; Sara Torres, musician and member of Moratorium NOW! Coalition; Julie Hurwitz, Vice President of the Michigan Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild; Sammie Lewis, a leading organizer for Detroit Will Breathe; Derek Grigsby, an organizer for Moratorium NOW! Coalition; Kenya Fentress, organizer for Racial Profiling Across 8 Mile; Anthony Ali of Detroit Will Breathe served as moderator; and David Sole of Moratorium NOW! Coalition delivered a proclamation honoring organizational member Walter Knall for his years of service to the African American struggle and the peoples’ movement as a whole; finally musician Ben Will screened a video in honor of African American History Month.   


February 21 marked the 56th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X, also known as El Hajj Malik Shabazz. 

With this annual commemoration coinciding with African American History Month, it provides opportunities to continue the study of the significance of his life and the times in which he lived.

Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925, during a period of awakening and renewal among the African American people. The Harlem Renaissance was well underway while the Universal Negro Improvement Association, African Communities League (UNIA-ACL) was struggling against the United States government over the fate of its founder the Hon. Marcus Garvey.

Garvey had been indicted and convicted on federal mail fraud charges and began to serve a sentence in 1925. He would spend two years in prison before being deported to the Caribbean island-nation of Jamaica where he was born in 1887. 

Both of the parents of Malcolm X, Earl and Louise Little, were members of the UNIA. The couple had met at a UNIA convention in 1919 held in Montreal, Quebec (Canada). Earl Little was a Baptist preacher and Louise was a writer for the Negro World newspaper published by the UNIA. 

This was a pan-African marriage with Earl being from the southern state of Georgia and Louise was born in the Caribbean island-nation of Grenada. The ideology of Garveyism brought them together in the cause of the emancipation of African people worldwide.

Malcolm was born in Omaha, Nebraska and would leave the city with his family after their home was burned down by the Ku Klux Klan. They later moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and then to Lansing and Mason, Michigan. Racist violence would follow the family due to the character of national oppression in the U.S. and the militancy of the family.

In 1931, during the Great Depression, Earl Little was killed by a racist vigilante organization in Michigan. Malcolm X in later years said the group responsible was the Black Legion, a violent right-wing organization which was funded heavily by industrialists to suppress labor organizers, African Americans and other peoples. 

Eventually, after the death of Earl Little, Louise was committed to a mental hospital while the family was broken up, young Malcolm was sent to foster care. He excelled in school in Michigan and later went to live with an older sister Ella Collins in Boston in 1941. Malcolm had already left school after the eighth grade due to racism and in Boston he worked menial jobs. Later he became involved in petty criminality and was sentenced to prison in 1946. 

By 1952, Malcolm had joined the Nation of Islam (NOI) prior to him being paroled from prison in Massachusetts. Immediately after leaving prison he came to live in the Detroit metropolitan area. He was appointed as Assistant Minister of the Detroit Temple of Islam and began to work in retail and in automobile factories.

Malcolm rapidly accelerated in the NOI and was assigned to several temples on the east coast before landing in New York City to head the NOI’s operations in Harlem. The Hon. Elijah Muhammad eventually designated Malcolm X and the national representative of the organization. He appeared regularly on radio and television along with being written about in print media, speaking on behalf of the NOI. 

By 1959, the NOI had gained national exposure through a number television reports and newspaper articles. The organization was often portrayed negatively in the press as a hate group at odds with the views of “mainstream” African Americans. Yet, the NOI continued to gain grassroots support while the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and local police agencies monitored their activities through infiltration, wire taps and attempted intimidation of members.

Three Speeches in Detroit (1963-1965) 

Number One: Message to the Grassroots, November 10, 1963

The life of Malcolm X, his wife Betty Shabazz, who was from Detroit, and their six children, cannot be fully covered in the time frame allotted for this presentation. Since this meeting is being held in Detroit, I want to focus on three major addresses within the public career of Malcolm X which were delivered in the city between November 1963 and February 1965.

Just weeks prior to his suspension and later departure from the NOI, Malcolm X visited Detroit to participate in a Northern Negro Grassroots Leadership Conference held at King Solomon Baptist Church on the westside. Malcolm would deliver an historic speech at the gathering, dubbed “Message to the Grassroots.” The speech was recorded by the Afro American Broadcasting Corporation owned by Attorney Milton Henry. Malcolm would also speak at Wayne State University (WSU) during this trip. 

The purpose of the November conference was to extend the African American struggle beyond the acquisition of Civil Rights with a more militant character. 1963 had been a monumental year with the outbreak of mass demonstrations and civil unrest in numerous cities in the South and other regions of the U.S. Birmingham had exploded with mass youth demonstrations and one of the first urban rebellions of the period in April and May. 

Medgar Evers, the NAACP Field Secretary in Mississippi, was gunned down outside his home in Jackson. In Detroit, the largest civil rights demonstration in the history of the U.S. was organized on June 23, twenty years after the deadly race riot of 1943. The Detroit Walk to Freedom attracted an estimated 125,000 to 250,000 people. The event had been spearheaded by progressive clergy and community organizations with figures such as Rev. C.L. Franklin of New Bethel Baptist Church, educator and businessman James Del Rio, the Rev. Albert Cleage of Central United Church of Christ, among others. 

Nonetheless, the alliance which led the march on June 23 had begun to fracture in the subsequent weeks and months. Differences between Rev. Franklin, who was a leading member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and Rev. Cleage gained public attention through the news media. The Northern Negro Grassroots Leadership Conference competed with another gathering at Cobo Hall that same weekend which attracted U.S. Congressman Adam Clayton Powell of Harlem. 

The speech delivered by Malcolm X proved to be a signature ideological statement related to the emerging struggle within African American communities. Detroit, with its extensive history of resistance to African enslavement, labor recognition and Black Nationalism, became a focal point for the radical and revolutionary thinking which was rising in evidence during the period.

In the early minutes of the Message to the Grassroots address, Malcolm X says: “What you and I need to do is learn to forget our differences. When we come together, we don’t come together as Baptists or Methodists. You don’t catch hell ’cause you’re a Baptist, and you don’t catch hell ’cause you’re a Methodist. You don’t catch hell ’cause you’re a Methodist or Baptist. You don’t catch hell because you’re a Democrat or a Republican. You don’t catch hell because you’re a Mason or an Elk. And you sure don’t catch hell ’cause you’re an American; ’cause if you was an American, you wouldn’t catch no hell. You catch hell ’cause you’re a black man. You catch hell, all of us catch hell, for the same reason. So we are all black people, so-called Negroes, second-class citizens, ex-slaves. You are nothing but a [sic] ex-slave. You don’t like to be told that. But what else are you? You are ex-slaves. You didn’t come here on the Mayflower. You came here on a slave ship — in chains, like a horse, or a cow, or a chicken. And you were brought here by the people who came here on the Mayflower. You were brought here by the so-called Pilgrims, or Founding Fathers. They were the ones who brought you here.”  

Such a public statement in 1963 was a call for unity within the African American community. A broad-based united front would be essential in any revolutionary activism seeking long term solutions.

Later Malcolm would challenge the use of the term Revolution in regard to the tactics being employed by many Civil Rights organizations. The NOI leader believed that the emphasis on nonviolence as a principle within the movement should be rejected. He emphasized self-defense against racist violence being carried out against African Americans whether being perpetuated by the police or vigilantes. 

According to Malcolm in the same speech: “I would like to make a few comments concerning the difference between the Black revolution and the Negro revolution. There’s a difference. Are they both the same? And if they’re not, what is the difference? What is the difference between a Black revolution and a Negro revolution? First, what is a revolution? Sometimes I’m inclined to believe that many of our people are using this word ‘revolution’ loosely, without taking careful consideration [of] what this word actually means, and what its historic characteristics are. When you study the historic nature of revolutions, the motive of a revolution, the objective of a revolution, and the result of a revolution, and the methods used in a revolution, you may change words. You may devise another program. You may change your goal and you may change your mind.”

These words are designed to challenge activists to think deeper in regard to the actual meaning of social transformation. Malcolm X had concluded that many people claiming to be leaders of the African American struggle were not genuinely committed to making the adequate sacrifices needed for a real revolution. 

He then goes on to cite historical occurrences involving revolutionary change. Of course, as an organizer, Malcolm X knew that in order to win people over to a position they must be convinced of some reasonable certainty of the possibility of achieving the objectives of a movement. 

Malcolm goes on to direct the listeners and later readers to: “Look at the American Revolution in 1776. That revolution was for what? For land. Why did they want land? Independence. How was it carried out? Bloodshed. Number one, it was based on land, the basis of independence. And the only way they could get it was bloodshed. The French Revolution — what was it based on? The land-less against the landlord. What was it for? Land. How did they get it? Bloodshed. Was no love lost; was no compromise; was no negotiation. I’m telling you, you don’t know what a revolution is. ’Cause when you find out what it is, you’ll get back in the alley; you’ll get out of the way. The Russian Revolution — what was it based on? Land. The land-less against the landlord. How did they bring it about? Bloodshed. You haven’t got a revolution that doesn’t involve bloodshed. And you’re afraid to bleed. I said, you’re afraid to bleed. [As] long as the white man sent you to Korea, you bled. He sent you to Germany, you bled. He sent you to the South Pacific to fight the Japanese, you bled. You bleed for white people. But when it comes time to seeing your own churches being bombed and little black girls being murdered, you haven’t got no blood. You bleed when the white man says bleed; you bite when the white man says bite; and you bark when the white man says bark. I hate to say this about us, but it’s true. How are you going to be nonviolent in Mississippi, as violent as you were in Korea? How can you justify being nonviolent in Mississippi and Alabama, when your churches are being bombed, and your little girls are being murdered, and at the same time you’re going to violent with Hitler, and Tojo, and somebody else that you don’t even know?”

Although these are references which do not require much detailed knowledge of historical processes, the tone is properly suited for grassroots activists, many of whom were youth living in an urban environment. Malcolm X, through his travels across the U.S. and his readings related to current events in 1963, that the general psychological make-up of the African American people was shifting at a rapid pace. The eruption of the mass Civil Rights Movement during the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955-56, ushered in a new era of consciousness. 

Yet he felt strongly that there was a need for more militant action and organizational activity. By the conclusion of 1963, the intransigence of the racist system of national oppression was intensifying. Many were outraged at the brutality utilized by the police and racist groups to intimidate and halt the forward trajectory of the African American people. On September 15, 1963, four Black girls died from a bomb explosion set off by the Ku Klux Klan at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. Two other children died the same day due to racist attacks. These developments would portend much for the coming years where urban rebellion and self-defense formations came into the broader existence.

Second Speech: The Ballot or the Bullet, April 12, 1964

On December 1, 1963, Malcolm X addressed a crowd at the Manhattan Center in New York City. The theme of the address was centered on what he described as “God’s Judgment of White America”. Elijah Muhammad had directed all ministers for the NOI to refrain from comments on the November 22 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. 

Malcolm X had been a staunch critic of the Kennedy administration for its failure to uphold the rights of the African American people and to apprehend and prosecute incidents of racist violence. Over two months had passed and yet nothing had been done to punish those responsible for the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. Hundreds of activists were still being beaten and jailed even in the aftermath of the upsurge in demonstrations in Birmingham and other cities during 1963.

A question-and-answer period after the speech at the Manhattan Center brought up the issue of the assassination of JFK. In his response, Malcolm seemed to suggest that the assassination was the product of the atmosphere of violence carried out inside and outside the country by the U.S. government. Consequently, the death of Kennedy was a case of the “Chickens Coming Home to Roost.” Noting that there were many Africans who had been assassinated at the aegis of the U.S. while no corrective punitive legal actions were taken.

Four days later it was announced by John Ali of the Chicago headquarters of the NOI, that when Malcolm X made those statements, he was speaking for himself and not Elijah Muhammad. Ali then said that Malcolm X had been suspended for 90 days from speaking and organizing on behalf of the NOI. 

Malcolm X said he had written to Elijah Muhammad several times during the suspension however no response was received. After the 90 days were over, Malcolm X was notified that his suspension would be extended indefinitely. The time was early March 1964 when the Civil Rights Movement prepared for another summer of demonstrations and other political work. The NOI has remained aloof from the direct action, marches and legal challenges carried out by the SCLC, NAACP, the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), among others. 

Ferment was being generated in the northern and western urban areas demanding quality education, open housing, decent jobs, and the eradication of legalized and de facto segregation. This was no time to remain silent about the burning questions of the period. Therefore, Malcolm X made a decision to break publicly with the NOI. 

On March 8, 1964, Malcolm held a press conference in New York City to announce that he was leaving the NOI permanently and establishing an alternative mosque in Harlem. The organization was called the Muslim Mosque, Inc. and was a precursor to the founding of a political group known as the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) by late June. 

Just one month later Malcolm would return to Detroit for a public address again at the King Solomon Baptist Church. This speech became known as “The Ballot or the Bullet.” In the address Malcolm warns the rulers of the U.S. that if complete freedom, justice and equality was not granted to the African American people, no one would have freedom inside the country.

1964 was an election year with the then President Lyndon B. Johnson seeking to win a full term after inheriting the position in the wake of the Kennedy assassination. SNCC and allied organizations were recruiting hundreds of students to enter the South in Mississippi and other areas to engage in a Freedom Summer project. Malcolm X was determined to enter the popular struggles of the period while authenticating himself as an orthodox Muslim with political connections throughout Africa and the world.

During the second speech in Detroit during this period entitled “The Ballot or the Bullet”, Malcolm said: “Just as it took nationalism to remove colonialism from Asia and Africa, it'll take Black nationalism today to remove colonialism from the backs and the minds of twenty-two million Afro-Americans here in this country. And 1964 looks like it might be the year of the ballot or the bullet. [applause] Why does it look like it might be the year of the ballot or the bullet? Because Negroes have listened to the trickery and the lies and the false promises of the white man now for too long, and they're fed up. They've become disenchanted. They've become disillusioned. They've become dissatisfied. And all of this has built up frustrations in the Black community that makes the Black community throughout America today more explosive than all of the atomic bombs the Russians can ever invent. Whenever you got a racial powder keg sitting in your lap, you're in more trouble than if you had an atomic powder keg sitting in your lap. When a racial powder keg goes off, it doesn't care who it knocks out the way. Understand this, it's dangerous.”

These words foresaw the urban rebellions which would erupt later that summer in 1964 in New York, cities within New Jersey, Philadelphia, etc. In the years to come, hundreds of urban rebellions would take place in cities from the west to the east of the country. Malcolm X suggested in the Ballot or the Bullet that the numerical odds within the U.S. would not determine the outcome of a revolutionary struggle for political power. He noted the victories of the revolutionary forces in China, Korea and what was unfolding in Vietnam, first against the French and then, at that time in 1964, the U.S. 

During the address, Malcolm went on to illustrate that: “This is why I say it's the ballot or the bullet. It's liberty or it's death. It's freedom for everybody or freedom for nobody. [applause] America today finds herself in a unique situation. Historically, revolutions are bloody, oh yes they are. They have never had a bloodless revolution. Or a non-violent revolution. That don't happen even in Hollywood. [laughter] You don't have a revolution in which you love your enemy. And you don't have a revolution in which you are begging the system of exploitation to integrate you into it. Revolutions overturn systems. Revolutions destroy systems. A revolution is bloody, but America is in a unique position. She's the only country in history, in the position actually to become involved in a bloodless revolution. The Russian Revolution was bloody, Chinese Revolution was bloody, French Revolution was bloody, Cuban Revolution was bloody. And there was nothing more bloody than the American Revolution. But today, this country can become involved in a revolution that won't take bloodshed. All she's got to do is give the Black man in this country everything that's due him, everything. [applause]

Just days after delivering this address in Detroit, Malcolm flew out of the U.S. to Mecca in Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj. It is important to recognize that this was not the first time Malcolm X had visited West Asia and Africa. In 1959, he had accompanied Elijah Muhammad to several countries. Malcolm himself traveled to Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Ghana and Sudan. 

Nonetheless, the first trip he took during 1964 represented an entire new horizon for Malcolm. He was able to speak his mind fully while totally embracing Pan-Africanism and anti-imperialism. After his religious pilgrimage to Mecca, Malcolm visited several other countries including Egypt, Nigeria and Ghana. After being abroad for six weeks, he returned to much media fanfare in May 1964.

At the returning press conference in New York, Malcolm was questioned about his efforts to have the U.S. brought before the world court for violations of the human rights of African Americans. Malcolm noted that other oppressed peoples had sought similar remedies and that the people of African descent in the U.S. were no different.

On June 28, 1964, Malcolm X announced the formation of the OAAU at the Audubon Ballroom in New York. The aims of the organization were to unite African people in the U.S. with their counterparts on the continent and around the globe. The objective was full total freedom to be achieved by any means necessary.

In a matter of weeks during July, Malcolm had again left the U.S. for Africa and Asia. He spent considerable time in Egypt where he attended the second annual summit of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). While in Cairo he strengthened communications and contacts with the national liberation movements and anti-imperialist governments on the continent. 

On behalf of the OAAU, Malcolm circulated an eight-page memorandum to the heads-of-state, requesting solidarity with the African American struggle. As a direct result of his work and the support of anti-imperialist and Pan-African governments, a resolution was passed condemning racial discrimination in the U.S. This same resolution was utilized during the summer of 2020, when people throughout the U.S. were demonstrating and rebelling in the aftermath of the brutal police execution of George Floyd in Minneapolis. As a result, the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland held hearings on the racial unrest in the U.S. The brother of George Floyd addressed the UN hearing where he implored the international body to take action in support of the African American people.

The Last Message Towards the African Revolution: February 14, 1965

Malcolm X would spend nearly five months abroad between July and November of 1964. He studied Islam and politics in Egypt at the invitation of then President Gamal Abdel Nassar. He traveled to Ghana for the second time that year to meet with African Americans living and working there as part of the First Republic of President Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. In addition, Malcolm visited Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Saudi Arabia and other countries, seeking to build alliances with Islamic and progressive forces.

Yet a major impediment to the realization of his organizational objectives was the ongoing feud with his former organization. The leadership of the NOI had been concerned when Malcolm departed the organization only to begin another one. Several attempts had been made on Malcolm’s life and his followers. When he arrived back in New York City during late November 1964, he was prepared to move forward with the OAAU and other projects. 

Malcolm maintained a rigorous schedule of speaking engagements, OAAU meetings, Islamic classes taught by the MMI, along with traveling to cities around the U.S. In early February, he traveled to Britain to speak at the London School of Economics and meet with Black organizations. He was also invited to speak in Paris before a number of African organizations residing in France. Nonetheless, the French customs officials denied him admission to the country. He was turned around and went back to England where he addressed the meeting by telephone.

After returning to New York City on February 13, Malcolm was preparing for yet another speaking engagement in Detroit. However, during the early morning hours of February 14, his home was firebombed. The entire family was able to exit the home without injury. The bombing of the house, which was owned by the NOI and the subject of an eviction order, was an ominous sign of worse things to come.

However, Malcolm was determined to honor his speaking engagement in Detroit on the afternoon of February 14. After securing his family, he took a plane to Detroit and checked into the Statler-Hilton Hotel downtown. He was seen by a physician and would later address a meeting at Ford Auditorium on the riverfront. 

His comments during the final visit to Detroit at Ford Auditorium focused on the interrelationship between the struggles of people of African descent in the U.S. and around the world. He discussed his travels in Africa and the Middle East while pointing to the necessity of global unity.

Some of his remarks included this passage: “So we saw that the first thing to do was to unite our people, not only unite us internally, but we have to be united with our brothers and sisters abroad. It was for that purpose that I spent five months in the Middle East and Africa during the summer. The trip was very enlightening, inspiring, and fruitful. I didn't go into any African country, or any country in the Middle East for that matter, and run into any closed door, closed mind, or closed heart. I found a warm reception and an amazingly deep interest and sympathy for the Black man in this country in regards to our struggle for human rights. While I was traveling, I had a chance to speak in Cairo, or rather Alexandria, with President [Gamal Abdel] Nasser for about an hour and a half. He's a very brilliant man. And I can see why they're so afraid of him, and they are afraid of him — they know he can cut off their oil [laughter and applause]. And actually, the only thing power respects is power. Whenever you find a man who's in a position to show power against power then that man is respected. But you can take a man who has power and love him all the rest of your life, nonviolently and forgivingly and all the rest of those oft-time things, and you won't get anything out of it.”

Malcolm would deliver three other speeches in that coming week. He would address a public meeting and press conference on February 15 at the Audubon Ballroom where he discussed the bombing of his house and various political issues. On the following day he would speak at an African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) in Rochester, New York. Two days after, February 18, he would speak at Barnard College in New York. 

A public meeting of the OAAU was scheduled for Sunday February 21, 1965 at the Audubon Ballroom. After being introduced by one of his assistants, several men emerged from the audience and shot Malcolm X to death. His death has been commemorated every year since 1965 in the U.S. and around the planet. 

Lessons from the Life, Times and Contributions of Malcolm X

The strength of Malcolm X’s message remains with us today some 56 years since his assassination. African Americans remain under national oppression, economic exploitation and institutional racism. They are still subjected to U.S. military service in order to carry out the political and economic imperatives of imperialism.

A resurgence in Black Consciousness and anti-racism is a healthy development in the U.S. The national response to the police and vigilante killings of African Americans has alerted the international community that racism remains alive and well in the U.S. despite its claims of being a defender of human rights and social justice.

Malcolm X was hated and feared by the ruling class in the U.S. and the entire imperialist system. Consequently, his assassination was carried out in a failed attempt to arrest the African American liberation movement. 

In recent days, news related to the assassination of Malcolm X and the involvement of the New York police and the FBI, has been raised again. Ray Wood, a former undercover New York City police officer, from the BOSS division (intelligence unit), claimed in a death bed confession letter that he was sent to infiltrate the OAAU. 

An article published recently in News One says of the latest revelation: “The recent accusations echo theories raised in the 2020 Netflix documentary, ‘Who Killed Malcolm X?’ The series followed Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, an activist and self-trained investigator who dedicated his life work to solving the civil rights icon’s murder. In the documentary Muhammad interviews several important figures involved in the investigation, explores different conspiracy theories including possible federal and state law enforcement involvement. Muhammad also attempts to explore an accusation that Malcolm X’s alleged killer was a Newark community leader who worshipped at a local Mosque. After the documentary aired, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office announced it would review the case, with the possibility to reopen if leads proved sufficient.”

Of course, this is not the first time that confessions have been offered in regard to culpability and involvement in the assassination. These claims should be thoroughly investigated independently. Any reliance on the police and FBI, who are the accused parties, will bear no fruitful results.

What is important to understand is that the only real tribute to Malcolm X will be administered by those who believe in his message and objectives. Justice will be achieved when the systems of exploitation and oppression are completely eradicated, and a new society is built on the basis of freedom, self-determination and social emancipation. 

Senegal Kicks off COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign With China's Sinopharm Vaccines

By Xinhua

Feb 24, 2021 08:19 AM

Former Senegalese Prime Minister Souleymane Ndene Ndiaye is being vaccinated with China's Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine on Feb. 23, 2021, in Dakar, Senegal.(Photo: Xinhua)

Senegal on Tuesday officially began the first phase of COVID-19 vaccination, taking a new step in the crusade against the pandemic.

Senegalese Minister of Health and Social Action Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine in front of the press at his ministry, which symbolized the starting point of Senegal's vaccination campaign.

Politicians, such as former Prime Minister Souleymane Ndene Ndiaye, Foreign Minister Aissata Tall Sall, Minister of National Education Mamadou Talla, and members of the health workers were also vaccinated Tuesday morning.

The Senegalese health minister said after vaccination that Senegalese President Macky Sall had instructed him to respect two things, "fairness and transparency."

According to him, the 200,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine are already distributed in all 14 regions of the country.

Sarr invited his compatriots to continue the fight against COVID-19 with respecting barrier gestures, wearing protective masks, washing hands regularly and avoiding gatherings.

He also revealed that President Sall is negotiating with Russia for having Sputnik V vaccine.

"During the month of March, Senegal will receive its first batch of vaccine from the COVAX initiative. We will continue, so that all Senegalese who must be vaccinated shall be," he added.

For the first phase of the nation-wide COVID-19 vaccination campaign, Senegalese health authorities aim to vaccinate 20 percent of the Senegalese population. This phase targets frontline health workers, people over the age of 60 and people with underlying health conditions.

The Senegalese health minister also took this opportunity to announce that his country, in order to show "African solidarity," will offer The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau, a total of 20,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, which is 10 percent of its first batch of 200,000 doses, acquired from the Chinese firm Sinopharm.

Senegal plans to vaccinate all those who wish to receive COVID-19 jabs by 2022.

This Tuesday morning, in an interview with an international radio, Senegalese President Macky Sall pleaded for a massive vaccination which would make it possible to immunize the populations and "reduce the risk of infection" against the spread of coronavirus.

Senegal, which reported its first confirmed case of COVID-19 on March 2, 2020, has so far recorded 33,242 positive cases, including 27,694 recoveries and 832 deaths.

Sudan Devalues Currency to Meet Key Condition for Debt Relief

By Reuters

Feb 22, 2021 07:18 PM

Sudan's central bank sharply devalued the currency on Sunday, announcing a new regime to "unify" official and black-market exchange rates in an effort to overcome a crippling economic crisis and access debt relief.

A picture taken in the South Darfur village of Hamada, north of the region's capital town Nyala on February 3, 2021, shows children at a school as residents return to the village. Photo: VCG

The change is a key reform demanded by foreign donors and the International Monetary Fund, but was delayed for months as shortages of basic goods and rapid inflation complicated a fragile political transition. The central bank set the indicative rate at 375  Sudanese pounds to the dollar, several commercial banking sources said, from a previous official rate of 55  Sudanese pounds. Recently, the dollar traded at between 350 and 400 Sudanese pounds on the black market. 

The central bank will set a daily indicative rate in a "flexible managed float," a circular sent to banks said. Banks and exchange bureaus are required to trade within 5 percent above or below that rate.

The circular also set a profit margin between buy and sell prices of no more than 0.5 percent. Authorities would not control the rate, the central bank governor told reporters, though Finance Minister Jibril Ibrahim said unspecified foreign funds were on their way to Sudan and the central bank could intervene if needed.

"The decision is not a float, but a policy of flexible management," said central bank Governor Mohamed al-Fatih Zainelabidine. Steps had been taken to streamline imports of strategic commodities and limit imports of nonessential goods ahead of the devaluation, officials said. Ibrahim said Sudan's customs exchange rate was not included in the devaluation.

Israel, Egypt Agree to Build New Gas Pipeline


Feb 22, 2021 05:08 PM

Israel and Egypt's energy ministers agreed Sunday to build a gas pipeline from the offshore eastern Mediterranean Leviathan field to Egypt, aimed at boosting exports to Europe, an Israeli source said.

Yuval Steinitz and his Egyptian counterpart Tarek El Molla "agreed on the construction of offshore gas pipeline from the Leviathan gas field to the liquefaction facilities in Egypt," the official said, asking not to be named.

The goal was "to increase the gas exports to Europe through the liquefaction facilities in Egypt, in light of the growing demand in Europe for natural gas," he added.

The deal was announced as Molla visited Israel, where he also met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi as well as Steinitz. 

The energy ministers and their teams met "in order to enlarge and to increase the cooperation in energy," Molla said.

Leviathan, discovered 130 kilometers west of the Mediterranean port city Haifa in 2010, is estimated to hold 535 billion cubic meters of natural gas, along with 34.1 million barrels of condensate.

US-based Noble and Israel's Delek, the consortium leading the development of the Leviathan and the smaller Tamar field, struck a $15 billion 10-year deal in 2020 with Egypt's Dolphinus to supply 64 billion cubic meters.

Israel began pumping gas from Leviathan in December 2019 and exporting to Egypt the following month.


Five Eyes Today’s Axis of White Supremacy: Global Times Editorial

By Global Times

Feb 23, 2021 10:13 PM

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses party members at the Liberal Party campaign headquarters in Montreal, Canada, Oct. 21, 2019.Photo:Xinhua

Canada's House of Commons on Monday approved a non-binding motion accusing China of committing genocide against Uygurs in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The motion also calls on the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Winter Olympic Games from Beijing. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Cabinet abstained from the vote and the motion is sure to meet the objection of the International Olympic Committee.  

Canada, the UK and Australia, three members of the Five Eyes alliance, have recently taken action to put pressure on China. They have formed a US-centered, racist, and mafia-styled community, willfully and arrogantly provoking China and trying to consolidate their hegemony as all gangsters do. They are becoming a racist axis aimed at stifling the development rights of 1.4 billion Chinese. 

Five Eyes alliance members are all English-speaking countries. The formation of four states, except the UK, is the result of British colonization. Those countries share the Anglo-Saxon civilization. The Five Eyes countries have been brought together by the US to become the "center of the West." They have a strong sense of civilization superiority. The bloc, which was initially aimed at intelligence sharing, has now become an organization targeting China and Russia. The evil idea of racism has been fermenting consciously or unconsciously in their clashes with the two countries.

Except for New Zealand, the smallest of the five countries and unwilling to get too involved in international conflicts, the other four are increasingly coordinating their attacks against China and have rapidly transformed from the intelligence-sharing mechanism into a political clique. With a common language, a common historical background, and a coordinated attack target, such an axis is destined to erode international relations and allow hooliganism to rise to the diplomatic stage in the 21st century.

Since the Five Eyes countries are spread across continents, they have the hubris of being the world in their own right. Media organizations in the US and the UK are particularly developed and capable of dominating global public opinion in English, which increases their insolence to represent the international community and world public opinion. The total population of the Five Eyes countries is only a third of China's. After all, they are only a tiny fraction of the inhabitants on this planet.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned on Monday that white supremacy and neo-Nazi movements are becoming a "transnational threat" and have exploited the coronavirus pandemic to boost their support. Unfortunately, the most serious white supremacy threat occurred in the Five Eyes countries. Hostility towards immigrant groups and non-Western countries became the realistic carrier of this white supremacy, and even neo-Nazi movements. If Tom Cotton, a US senator, who clamored for 90 million Chinese Communists to be consigned "to the ash heap of history," is not a neo-Nazi and extreme racist, then who else is in this world?

The Trump administration is an extremely typical white supremacy government, which is defined by American public opinion. The domestic and foreign policies of the Trump administration are connected to each other, and the activities of the Five Eyes alliance are also driven by them. Trump's team has gone, but their core diplomatic legacy of suppressing China has been largely preserved. The mechanism of the Five Eyes alliance to jointly suppress China has not only solidified, but also accelerated its operations.

Global diplomacy in the 21st century must not be hijacked by a fake international community with an axis of white supremacy. We cannot allow their selfishness to masquerade as the common morality of the world, and they cannot set the agenda of mankind. What they want is sham multilateralism, and what they actually pursue is hooliganism in their own interest circle. By resisting them, China is not only defending its own interests, we are also defending the diversity of the modern world, which is based on the free choices of people and paths taken by different countries. 

Young Chinese Ardently Support the CPC Out of Understanding of its Role to Nation

By Huang Lanlan, Lin Xiaoyi and Cui Fandi

Feb 23, 2021 08:53 PM

When the gallant deeds of PLA martyr Xiao Siyuan were reported by the media, after the 24-year-old soldier sacrificed his life to safeguard the Chinese territory in the Galwan Valley skirmish with India in June 2020, a lot of people were moved, especially when they found out that Xiao had been using an image from patriotic cartoon Year Hare Affair as his WeChat profile photo.

"I'm so touched and inspired to see that this hero may have gotten some spiritual comfort from [my] anime," cartoonist Lin Chao, author of the top patriotic animation, wrote on Sina Weibo. The anime, unmistakably patriotic for the country and the Communist Party of China (CPC), has been widely circulated online and hugely popular among the younger generation.

There are increasing numbers of ordinary young people, in Xiao's age, who have become "fans" of the Party.

Kang Yu, an ardent supporter of the CPC and also an enthusiast of popular American TV series House of Cards, is one of many young Chinese nationals who have grown up in an era of cultural fusion and have learned about facets of Western culture and ideology, but harbor a great love for China and strong recognition for the CPC.

"I like Western TV dramas, and I'm also a big fan of Wuheqilin's illustrations," Kang told the Global Times. 

Cartoonist Wuheqilin is one of the young Chinese opinion leaders on social media who takes pride and openly call themselves patriots. This 2010 university graduate, having gained 1 million followers on Weibo as of February, has created many cartoons revealing the wrongdoings and hypocrisy of some Western politicians and media, garnering overwhelming praise from Chinese youths.

Wuheqilin said he likes the title "Wolf Worrier artist" as he has been lovingly dubbed by netizens. "This country is worth loving and needs every one of us to safeguard it," he told the Global Times in a previous interview.

Lin said China's current young generation, compared with their predecessors, is more confident about a CPC-governed China. "Many of them - like my audience and readers - believe today's China is not inferior to any others, and that the Party is capable of fully developing China," Lin told the Global Times.

Natural admiration 

Chinese youths' support for the country and the CPC usually comes from their personal experiences, many of the young people told the Global Times.

"In China, being a member of the CPC means more responsibility," said Wei Shuxin, a CPC member and a PhD candidate majoring in the history of the CPC at Tsinghua University. "At any given time, should there arise any problem or any hardship, we Party members usually rush to the front."

In 2003, when Wei was a child, the Yellow River burst its banks in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province. Numerous local Party members and officials including Wei's parents spent three months fighting floods on the front line and rarely returned home. At that time, little Wei would often complain about being "abandoned" by her parents.

After Wei herself became a CPC member and grew familiar with the history of the Party years later, she realized that "it was the selfless dedication of these countless Party members like my parents that made it possible for China to achieve its present-day development and progress," Wei told the Global Times, saying that now she and her parents are currently busy with the COVID-19 prevention work at their residential compound as volunteers.

"The reason why Chinese youths identify so strongly with the CPC is because of the great progress and development their beloved motherland continues to enjoy under the leadership of the CPC," Zhang Yiwu, a professor at Peking University, told the Global Times.

Zhang noted the fact that China's rapid development stemmed from the commitment and dedication of the CPC, especially from its grassroot members, has allowed young people in China to fully understand that the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation is closely linked to CPC.

"In particular, faced with these unprecedented changes around the world and this once-in-a-century COVID-19 pandemic, China's party system has demonstrated an amazing capacity for organization and mobilization," Zhang added.

Lei Dan, an assistant cardiologist working at the Peking Union Medical College Hospital, told the Global Times that he was moved by the CPC's care about people's difficulties. The government keeps lowering drug prices and expanding health insurance coverage to make doctors' consultations and surgeries more affordable, Lei said.

"The price of a heart stent has dropped from an average 13,000 yuan ($2,014) in the past to around 700 Yuan ($108) now," Lei told the Global Times, saying she is gratified to see smiles appear on the faces of many patients and their families because of the markedly lowered prices.

At school, Wei helped build a CPC history study club among students where she learned and discussed the ups and downs of the Party through the decades with many like-minded young people. 

These people called themselves "fans" of the Party and believe that it is the spirit of "continuing introspection, progress and vitality" that makes the CPC an attractive organization, according to Wei.

A rabbit representing China in patriotic animation Year Hare Affair. Photo: Courtesy of Lin Chao

Red popularity 

Patriotic films, dramas, animations, and related cultural activities are gaining popularity among young Chinese, who are willing to know the development history of their motherland and its ruling party.

Lin Chao, whose Year Hare Affair is one of the most popular patriotic animations in China, said Chinese youths embrace patriotic themes because they "feel proud of today's China."

Year Hare Affair tells parts of the history of modern China, the CPC, and the People's Liberation Army in a vivid and compelling way. The anime depicts China as "rabbit" and other countries as other animals such as "hawk," "rooster" and "ox," presenting serious military and diplomatic issues in a riveting way. 

Watching Year Hare Affair is one of the main leisure activities at Wei's CPC history study club. "The story is not complicated, and the buzzwords that appear from time to time make us laugh," Wei said. "But when I see the prototypes of the story presented at the end of the animation, the real historical photos, I can't help but shed a tear."

She mentioned a catchphrase from this anime that its audience usually talks about: "Although we have [beaten the aggressors and] become masters of our country, we must not forget the original agreement - using our own hands to create a large family that is well fed, well clothed and not looked down upon by others."

Year Hare Affair's audience, including Wei and her peers, are mainly teenagers and college students in their 20's, according to Lin. This group is a microcosm of China's young generation that is witnessing the country's growth in strength, Lin said.

"Unlike some from the preceding generation who worship all things foreign, today's Chinese youth have more opportunities to study or travel abroad to see in person exactly what the outside world looks like, and when they do so, they can see that developed Western countries are far from perfect; they all have their own problems," Lin told the Global Times.

One of Lin's readers, an overseas student in the UK, once complained to Lin of the messy and highly inefficient governance there. "He said that the local authority spent five years repairing a kilometer of bad road near his house," Lin recalled. "That would be unimaginable in China."

Market data shows that Chinese youngsters are simultaneously welcoming patriotic-themed artworks and products. One of China's largest travel agencies, Ctrip, said that more than half of its clients who participated in red tourism in 2020 were born after the 1980s. Lin's Year Hare Affair has gotten more than 800 million views on main domestic video sites as of 2020, according to statistics provided by his assistant to the Global Times.

Zhang pointed out that because of China's state of backwardness and isolation in the 1970s and 1980s, young people at that time had a lot of romantic ideas about the West and aspired to their social structures and social management systems.

"But at present, Chinese young people have a broader international perspective. Compared to their parents and grandparents, they have a deeper understanding in terms of the comparison between China and the Western society, which has also given them a more thought-out and rational perception of their country and the CPC," Zhang said.

Think freely

However, some Western media outlets and pundits continue to maliciously brand the love and support of young Chinese for the Party as "ignorant loyalty" caused by "mind control" of the young.

For instance, the VOA claimed in January that "the ideological and political education" that Chinese students receive from primary school to college is "part of the CPC's brainwashing of the next generation to shore up its power." "The purpose is to make everyone's mind fixed, becoming a firm CPC supporter from an early age." 

Kang pointed out that these attempts of slander from Western media were baseless and malicious. "Every country provides a general education of its own history and political structures to cultivate an informed citizenry," he said.

"In this land in which we are, it is normal and necessary for our youngsters to learn the history of the CPC, which reorganized China from a state of virtual disintegration," Kang noted.

Wei noted that the Chinese youth have been thinking freely, and politics and history classes in schools portray the CPC objectively and dialectically, and analyze the Party's past gains and losses, succinctly summarizing how to promote the progress of this society.

Wei gave the example of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) that is clearly defined in China's history textbooks as a movement that violated democracy and the rule of law, and a major setback for the CPC in its quest for socialist modernization.

The youngsters reached by the Global Times said they are not - as Western media would like to depict - "ordered" or "controlled" to love the Party. It is a series of big events at home and abroad that they have seen or experienced in recent years - such as the fight against the latest COVID-19 pandemic, the malpractices in Western political regimes and their blustering politicians - that have made them believe in the relative superiority of the CPC's governance. 

A New York University (NYU) graduate and a CPC member surnamed Zhang, who majored in international politics, said the chaotic situation that's plagued the US administration in the past few years contrasts sharply with the situation in China.

"The Party has proven the effectiveness of its institutions in the fight against COVID-19," he said. "It is not necessary to regard the virus prevention and control measures as some kind of proof of the Party's achievements, but the contrast becomes clear when we look at the chaos that some Western countries including the US have suffered through amid the pandemic." 

West Warned to Refrain from 'Big Lie' Diplomacy on China's Xinjiang Affairs, Beijing Winter Olympic Games

Hyping 'genocide' rumor to politicize Winter Olympics a nasty trick: experts

By Yang Sheng and Cao Siqi

Feb 23, 2021 10:32 PM

Officially authorized jade and gold seals for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games are launched in Beijing. Photo: Li Hao/GT

As some anti-China politicians in Western countries are trying to hype the "genocide" rumors about China's Xinjiang to obstruct the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games, Chinese experts said if these attempts become the official stance of these Western countries, there will be serious consequences.

Western leaders should stop politicizing global sports event with a "big lie," they noted.

Canada's parliament passed a non-binding motion on Monday saying that China's treatment of the Uygur people in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region "constitutes genocide," putting pressure on the government of liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to follow suit, according to Reuters on Tuesday.

In fact, Trudeau and his Cabinet have abstained from the vote, AP reported.

The motion was also amended just before the vote to call on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to move the 2022 Winter Olympics from Beijing if "the treatment" continues.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a routine press conference on Tuesday that China firmly opposes and has lodged serious representations to Canada against its motion.

"Facts have proven that there has never been genocide in Xinjiang. This is a pure lie concocted by anti-China forces, a ridiculous farce to smear China. Some Canadian politicians' blatant politicization of sport violates the spirit of the Olympic Movement and harms the interests of their athletes," Wang said.

There have been similar attempts or calls from politicians and "human rights groups" in some other Western countries to boycott or relocate the 2022 Winter Olympics, mostly members of the Five Eyes Alliance, such as the US and the UK.

However, in early February, Canadian Olympic Committee chief executive officer David Shoemaker said that a boycott would be the wrong approach, according to Reuters. 

The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee echoed a similar position on Wednesday, saying they oppose boycotts because "they have been shown to negatively impact athletes while not effectively addressing global issues." 

Chinese experts said that those attempts made by some politicians in parliament or congress in their countries are yet to become the official government stance of Western countries, as decision-makers in the West understand how serious the consequence would be if they boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics. Those calls are an old trick that some Western politicians had frequently played in the past, especially when China or Russia held the Olympics. It is a political stunt to specifically attack countries who pursue different paths from the West.

Experts on Olympic issues pointed out that it is useless and ignorant for some Canadian politicians to call for a removal of the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics from Beijing as a possible replacement of the host city is decided only by the IOC and the city it would entrust, and apparently the IOC  would never accept such a "ridiculous appeal."

"Neither the IOC nor the national Olympic committees from any country would allow sports to be manipulated by politics. Such calls for a boycott or relocation of the Games will not be a global trend, as we saw by what happened to Russia's Sochi Winter Olympics [in 2014]," Ding Bocheng, who participated in organizing the Summer Games in 2004 and 2008 and is part of the team for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

A boycott "cannot win the hearts of the public, sponsors, and athletes who see the Games as a chance to appreciate global competition, to expand brand reputation and to achieve professional achievements," Ding noted.

No doubt, the absence of top-notch athletes from winter sports powerhouses, especially from the US and Canada, would impair the glamour of the Winter Olympic Games, which in turn will hurt these athletes, Ding said.

Don't overestimate yourself

Lü Xiang, an expert on international relations at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times on Tuesday, "Anti-China conservative Western politicians need to understand that they have no right to decide where to hold the Olympics. They just arrogantly believe they can represent the international community."

The motion passed by the Canadian parliament is non-binding, so the Trudeau administration needs to avoid being stupid. Canada's anti-China politicians just played the same trick as Mike Pompeo (former US secretary of state in the Trump administration). It is "big lie" diplomacy, Lü said.

To groundlessly accuse China of "genocide" will never become a legitimate excuse for the boycott and would only make those who support the boycott more isolated, Lü said.

David Lampton, professor and director of China Studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, expressed similar opinions in his recent article in the Newsweek headlined "Don't Boycott Beijing's 2022 Winter Olympics."

The US was unable to get every ally to support its boycott of the Soviet Union's Moscow Olympics in 1980. "Given the modern realities of Chinese global economic integration, today we can expect much more resistance to the boycott idea. Washington could well find itself the majorette for a marching band that is going in an entirely different direction," Lampton said.

In 2008, anti-China forces like some Western politicians and Tibet separatists tried to play the same trick to boycott the Beijing Olympics, but eventually, they had all failed.

"Most major states will participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics… One key difference between now and 2008 is that today's China feels much stronger diplomatically and economically than it did more than a decade ago," Lampton said in his article which was published on the Newsweek website on February 16. 

Lü said that in 2008, Western countries, especially the US, needed China's help to overcome the challenge of the financial crisis, and now, the problems they have to face are have created many more headaches than in 2008, such as fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and pushing economic recovery, so the West, which is in a big mess, has no reason and no strength to seriously offend China by boycotting the 2022 Games.

When Western anti-China forces use rumors about Xinjiang as a weapon to harm China's interests, there is no effective way for China to stop them from telling lies, so retaliation is the only language that those liars can understand, Lü said, adding that pragmatic and wise Western leaders know how serious the retaliation would be if they use the lie of "genocide" to boycott the 2022 Games. "It would be like cutting off almost all ties."

Never about Xinjiang

Some mainstream Western media like CNN cannot even correctly locate where Xinjiang is on the map, so the calls for a boycott are never about the human rights or the Uygur people. Chinese analysts said some Western countries are likely to use the calls as a bargaining chip to negotiate with China for compromises on other issues.  

It is not a matter of human rights in Xinjiang, but more about not giving China a chance to stand out in the international arena, Peking University professor Zhang Yiwu told the Global Times on Tuesday. Zhang noted that "the Olympic Games is just a way out for the West to contain China by waving its flags of human rights and ethnic issues."  

Zhang said that the prosperous, stable and harmonious Xinjiang has debunked their smears, but China should continue spreading true stories about the autonomous region to the outside world and invite more politicians and journalists from other countries to visit Xinjiang so they can see for themselves. 

Looking back at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, China and the Olympics had made each other better. The 2008 Games presents a democratic, open, civilized, friendly, and confident China to the world and China had emerged as a key player in international affairs, and particularly as a major presence on the global market.

Meanwhile, China hosted a "truly exceptional" Olympic Games, boosting exchanges and mutual understanding between the Chinese and other civilizations of the world. It encourages more than 1.3 billion Chinese to engage in sports with interest and passion, and give them an opportunity to help advance the Olympic Movement and promote the Olympic spirit.

"We believe that the IOC will make specific moves against the calls for a boycott or relocation and carry out its rules against any acts for political or ideological purposes; otherwise, the Olympic Movement may face an unprecedented crisis," Zhang said.