Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Ethiopian Premier Abiy’s Call Revives Pan-African Alliance: Historian

November 30, 2021

ADDIS ABABA – Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s (PhD) recent call to black people to join Ethiopia’s struggle with the West’s oppression and smash the terrorist TPLF clique would restore and enhance pan-African alliance, a well-known historian said.

History Assistant Professor at Addis Ababa University Ahmed Zekaria told local media that the Premier’s call to black people to defy Western imperialism and crush the criminal faction would also rejuvenate continental unity.

“In 1960s Ethiopia played a great role in supporting the independence movements of many African countries and it was the major driving force for the inception of the then Organization of African Unity (OAU). This trend helps African see Ethiopia as a mother and model of liberty.”

The academician further stated that Abiy’s call is timely and farsighted as the West’s interest to exploit Africa’s precious resources in the Neo-colonialism model is reached the highest in history. Black people should defend the West’s evil attempts and ensure their sovereignty and dignity.”

Cognizant of the fact that Ethiopia is fighting Africa’s war, black people have been demonstrating active involvement in the former’s #No more campaign that aims to oppose the West’s unjustified attempts of interference and pressure, Ahmed added.

“Our prime minister is employing the concept of developing together, but the U.S. and its Western associates are chasing him. Yes, much more remains to be done on the side of the black world and they should assist him.”

If Ethiopians may reflect various differences and political ideologies, they are known to stand together when the sovereignty of their country is threatened and when their common wellbeing is affected, the scholar emphasized.



Ethiopian Government Refutes Rumors of Attack on Sudanese Forces

November 30, 2021

• The Ethiopian Army takes measure on insurgents

ADDIS ABABA – The Government Communication Service (GCS) has dismissed recent media reports that the Ethiopian Army attacked and killed Sudanese soldiers during the border skirmish between the two countries.

In her press briefing yesterday, GCS State Minister Selamawit Kassa clarified that the Ethiopian government took military measures on insurgents who had infiltrated from Sudan’s border and did not attack the Sudanese Army.

The state minister further stated that media reports that “several Sudanese soldiers had been killed in an attack by armed groups and militias linked to the Ethiopian military in a disputed fertile border region” is far from reality. “Ethiopia never attacks its neighbors and that is why it has a firm belief in resolving the border dispute with Sudan in a peaceful manner.”

Noting Sudanese Army illegally seized Ethiopia’s territory following the TPLF’s treasonous attack on the Northern Command, Selamawit said the government of Ethiopia still advocates a peaceful approach to the problem.

Since the start of Campaign for Survival, infiltrators frequently tried to use the border with Sudan to attack Ethiopia and the government has been making various efforts to repel these infiltrators. The Ethiopian government will also make various measures to prevent anti-peace elements from inflicting damage, she elaborated.

“Ethiopia’s foreign policy prioritizes neighboring countries and we have a great respect for our neighbors as our destiny is correlated. So, the news [saying Ethiopian army attacked Sudanese] is arranged to dismantle the longstanding cordial relations with Sudan.”

The state minister further expressed optimism that the shared history and social cohesion between Ethiopia and Sudan would enable them to overcome the existing and emerging challenges they have encountered.



America’s Proxy War Against African Sovereignty

November 29, 2021

Graphic/Photo credit: TFI Global news

By the Alula Aba Nega Collective

A Tigrean proverb says, “Haki tezaribka ab megedi babur dekis,” pointing out, among other things, the importance of telling the truth to overcome a crisis. And the truth we would like to expose is that the TPLF war against Ethiopia is part and parcel of the hybrid war that America is waging against African sovereignty. Knowing this truth is important for resolving the present crisis in Ethiopia.

Americans know that the TPLF lost power in 2018 but refused to accept this loss. They know that it retreated to Mekele and started plotting the overthrow of the democratically elected Ethiopian government. They know that, from 2018 to 2020, the Ethiopian government used all modern and traditional peaceful approaches to persuade the TPLF to resolve peacefully the differences between the TPLF and the Federal government. To no avail. They also know that the TPLF armed forces treacherously attacked the Ethiopian Defence Forces on 3 November 2020, killed officers and soldiers, and took over the weaponry that was positioned there to defend Ethiopia’s northern borders. Americans know that the TPLF ruled Ethiopia for 27 years with an iron fist, with a total disregard for human rights. They know it looted the wealth of the country—over 30 billion US dollars (Transparency International) and funneled it into the offshore accounts of TPLF leaders and their relatives. 

Given all what Americans know about the TPLF, we Africans must ask: “Why is America committing all its diplomatic, economic, political, media, NGO, and academic resources to support the TPLF’s project to overthrow the democratically elected government of Ethiopia?” 

American newspapers’ anti-Ethiopianism appears to be inspired by the anti-Ethiopian pages of Mussolini’s Il Popolo d‘Italia. Some American academics sound increasingly like the Italian fascist scholars Ugo Rellini and Guido Landra in their anti-Ethiopian zeal. Consider Yale University’s absurd project to give life to the “big lie” of “Tigray genocide” fabricated by the TPLF and the Western media whose sources are invariably TPLF members! Yale University’s project resuscitates the “academic procedure” that the “scholars” of Fascist Italy used to paint Ethiopians as savages. To make sense of the incomprehensible American proxy war against the democratically elected government of Ethiopia, one must bring into the picture the intimate relations between the TPLF and the USA.

In the 1980s, the USA was intent on overthrowing the DERG, which it saw as a beachhead for communism in Africa. It found that the TPLF was not only happy to be the American tool for overthrowing the DERG, but it was also willing to advance America’s interests in Africa, if the US helps it to take power in Addis, which it did, with Herman Cohen orchestrating the delivery of Ethiopia into the hands of the TPLF. America thus created a puppet state in East Africa. For 27 years, the TPLF was the American Trojan horse in Africa. America reciprocated by legitimating the anti-democratic TPLF regime as a “democracy.” Thus, President Obama declared, without batting an eyelash, that the TPLF government is “democratically elected.” 

As Ethiopia goes, so goes Africa. And Americans know this. If the TPLF gets back to power, America will have in its possession one of the most historically and symbolically important countries in Africa. It could thus use it as an economic, political, cultural, and eventually, military launching pad for dominating African countries and advancing its geopolitical interests. Thus, its proxy war against the democratically elected government of Abiy Ahmed, because The US government considers the loss of its Trojan horse intolerable and finds Abiy’s decision to give primacy to the pursuit and defense of Ethiopia’s political, diplomatic, and economic interests unacceptable.

There is absolutely no doubt that Ethiopians categorically reject the return to power of the TPLF tyrants. As well, there is no doubt that Ethiopians fully support the Ethiopian government’s resistance to the TPLF’s effort to reconquer power through force. Never in the contemporary history of Ethiopia have Ethiopians within and outside the country been so united in the defense of an Ethiopian government. Historically, Ethiopians living in the West have always opposed those in power: they have demonstrated against the Imperial regime; they have demonstrated against the DERG; they have demonstrated against the TPLF regime. For the first time in the history of the Ethiopian Diaspora, Ethiopians living in the West are, like Ethiopians within the country, massively demonstrating in support of Ethiopia’s democratic government. 

We indicated earlier that America prefers to have a puppet state in Ethiopia so that it could pursue policies that serve her geopolitical, economic, and diplomatic interests. But there is also an additional issue to raise. America accepts, for example, that France is an independent state that pursues her interests. America does not wage a hybrid war to install a puppet government in France. Rather, it treats France as a sovereign state and tries to cooperate with France in ways that serve the common interests of both countries. Why doesn’t America follow a similar policy vis-à-vis the present democratic government of Ethiopia?

To answer this question, we must look at American history. Roosevelt said in a radio speech he gave on December 29, 1940: “We must be the great arsenal of democracy.” Of course, he could say this by conveniently scotomizing that America is also “the great arsenal of” racism against people of African origin. This centuries-old racism is part and parcel of the American political, economic, judicial, policing, educational, medical, and other state and social organs (Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow, 2020). Note for example that there are more college-age African Americans in prison than in college.

If America does not respect the sovereignty of Ethiopia and African countries, it is because its sentiments about Africans are saturated with contempt rooted in the racism that runs through the veins and arteries of America’s everyday life and institutions. President Donald Trump openly described African countries as “shit-hole nations.” His frankly expressed anti-African racism is the tip of the thick racism that subterraneously irrigates American life. The present American ruling elites hold the same racist belief as Trump, but silently. They articulate this deep-running racism surreptitiously in their treatment of Africans. Hence the contempt that President Biden, Anthony Blinken, Jeffrey Feltman, the American media, NGOs, some academics, and politicians show for the democratically elected government of Abiy Ahmed.

We could point out here a curious phenomenon narrated by TPLF apostates. Based on their experience as former TPLF activists, they indicate the presence of a strange bond between TPLF and American officials. This bond was palpable, they say, in the shamelessly effusive eulogies to the tyrant Meles Zenawi that Jeffrey Feltman, Gayle Smith, and Susan Rice delivered, which surprised those who knew the atrocities Meles Zenawi committed and of which Americans were aware. The bond seems to be rooted in a mutually shared world-view that stratifies human beings based on the belief that some groups are superior to others. For Americans, the stratification is based on race, with whites at the top; for the TPLF, it is based on ethnicity, with, to use Meles’s words, the “golden Tigreans” at the top. This shared supremacist belief has created a kind of libidinal bond between American officials and TPLF leaders that has led to a consensus among them that Africans should be led by the “superior” group. The TPLF treats Tigreans who do not subscribe to its supremacist ideology, and there are many, as enemies and Ethiopian stooges.

Africans defeated the racial stratification of colonialism. Now, however, racial stratification has taken a new form: “cognitive colonialism.” Its core idea was expressed by the Belgian colonialist “philosopher” of racist paternalism, Placide Tempels. He wrote in 1945, “It is up to us [Westerners] to provide them [Africans] with an accurate account of their conception of entities, in such a way that they will recognize themselves in our words and will agree, saying: “You have understood us, you know us now completely….” 

The words may be different, but the stench of anti-African racist paternalism is all around us when Biden, Blinken, Feltman, Samantha Powers reject the democratic government Ethiopians have created after 27 years of struggles against the tyranny of the TPLF. They are telling Ethiopians, “you are not mature enough to know what is good for you, but we do; so do what we tell you to do.” America has recruited a bevy of 21st century “Placide Tempels” to disguise this contempt for Africans as “knowledge” assumed to be inaccessible to Ethiopians. Hence the “cognitive colonialism” of Alex de Waal, Mark Lowcock, Martin Plaut, Nima Elbagir, William Davisson, Kjetil Tronvoll, René Lefort, Gérard Prunier, to name a few. 

However, the truth is that in their war to dismember Ethiopia, the megalomanic TPLF leaders are committing a genocide of Tigrean youth. They are using them as human shields for their soldiers and as cannon fodder, as if the lives of young Tigreans have no value. It is therefore the duty of we Tigreans to participate fully in the present resistance to the aggression of the TPLF against our homeland Ethiopia, and ensure that it will never resuscitate. The existence of a future generation of Tigreans depends on the defeat of the TPLF.

The Ethiopian resistance to the aggression of America’s Trojan horse expresses the struggle of Africans to make themselves the authors and actors of their own history. It is a struggle for the freedom and dignity of Africans and African Americans. W.E.B Du Bois, the erudite Afro-American, considered Ethiopia a “star” that shines in the firmament of Humanity as the promise of liberation of people of African descent from the night of oppression. It is this “star” that America wants to obliterate by using the TPLF as its executioner. Make no mistake. America will use other means—involving another state to internationalize the war, using CIA dirty tricks, instrumentalizing UN agencies—to bring back to power its TPLF Trojan horse. Africans and African Americans must join Ethiopians and ensure that the TPLF is fully defeated, a necessary condition for ensuring the future of Africa’s sovereignty.  

In 1935, Langston Hughes (1901-1967), the celebrated African American writer wrote the poem, “Call of Ethiopia,” for a rally to protest against the Fascist invasion of Ethiopia.  Ethiopia is confronted in 2021 with the TPLF attempt and its American masters to transform her into a puppet state in order to perpetuate America’s domination of Africa. We should then listen again to the prophetic lines from Langston Hughes’s “Call of Ethiopia”: 

“To men who die / For freedom’s sake / But in the wake of your sacrifice / May all Africa arise…

Ethiopians free / Be like me, / All of Africa, / Arise and be free! / All you black peoples / Be free! Be free!”

In 2021, the “Call of Ethiopia” is, as in 1935, a call for all Black people to stand up in unison in support of Ethiopia’s struggle for freedom and unity. The “Call of Ethiopia” is now the “Call of Africa.” It is a call to struggle against the proxy war America wages against the sovereignty of Africa. The cry “No More” forcefully voiced by Africans everywhere in the wake of America’s hybrid war on Ethiopia is an affirmation of the God-given right of Africans to be the thinkers, imaginers, and makers of their history. “No More”!

Ethiopian PM Calls TPLF Forces to Surrender

November 30, 2021


Speaking from the wilderness near the strategic location of Gashena, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday called for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) fighters to peacefully surrender to Ethiopian Forces in Afar and Amhara regions.

“Tigray Youth is shedding like leaves for nothing because of blindly TPLF’s prepared military plans,” he said. His message for the Tigrean Mothers is “ask TPLF leaders as to your children are.” Recently captured TPLF fighters in Bati and Shoa front claimed that they forced to join the war against Ethiopia. TPLF has been using child soldiers.

Abiy Ahmed added said TPLF is defeated. The next work is hunting and decimating TPLF forces.

Military plans to retake Gashena finalized, he said.

Al-Burhan Vows to Protect Fashaga Area from Ethiopian Attacks

30 NOVEMBER 2021

November 29, 2021 (GADARIF) – The Sudanese army will not give up a parcel of the Fashaga strip area, said the Chairman of the Sovereign Council, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces on Monday.

Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on Monday paid a visit to the frontlines in Barakat Noreen locality of the Fashaga area where the army lost some 23 militaries in recent clashes with the Ethiopian army and its militias that took place on November 27.

The visit comes with reports about military build-up on both sides of the border.

“Al-Fashqa is fully a Sudanese territory,” he said in a speech before the forces stationed in the area.

He pledged not to abandon any parcel of Sudanese territory, adding that they have no ambition in the Ethiopian territory.

Also, he stressed that the people stand by the army and support its soldiers in their efforts to control the entire national territory.

In November 2020, al-Burhan ordered his troop to expel the Ethiopian armed militia deployed in the Fashaga area to protect the land farmed by the Ethiopian planters as they expelled the Sudanese farmers from their lands during al-Bashir’s era.

The move coincided with the tensions over the GERD file and the eruption of civil war in the northern Ethiopia region of Tigray near the Sudanese border.

The Fashaga’s re-seizure also allowed al-Burhan to consolidate his popularity and to bring the political parties to support him.


Sudan’s FFC Forces Sharply Criticize Hamdok

30 NOVEMBER 2021

November 29, 2021 (KHARTOUM) – Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok has been sharply criticised by the groups of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) on Monday as they questioned his legitimacy and accused him of seeking to divide them.

Hamdok struck a political deal with the coup leaders on November 21, reinstating him as prime minister and mandating him with the formation of an inclusive cabinet of technocrats without requiring the approval of his former political majority.

In a press conference held days after his release and 24 hours before demonstrations against the coup of October 25, the leader of the Sudanese Congress Party (SCoP) Omer al-Diguair rejected the political agreement struck between Abdallah Hamdok and Abdel Fattah al-Burhan saying it was “not acceptable politically, and not even morally”.

“What gives the Prime Minister the right – and he is the one who had been picked by the FFC- to accept their removal and replace them?”

“The signing (of the political agreement) was nothing but an attempt to legitimize the coup,” stressed al-Diguair.

These statements of the SCoP leader actually reflect a shared view among the FFC leaders about the deal which according to the political coalition gave the military a political basis to legalize their coup.

They point that his deal authorizes amending the constitutional declaration governing the transitional so that the coup leaders can do all that the FFC had refused to them during the past two years.

Ibrahim al-Amin a leading member of the National Umma Party (NUP) who was critical for the FFC structures told Aljazeera TV that Hamdok gave his powers to the military during the first two years of the transition and now with this deal he allows them to control his action.

“Hamdok is just a secretary for the Chairman of the Sovereign Council,” he stressed.

After his release, the prime minister is consulting with political and civil society groups to create political grounds for himself. Also on November 25, he joined a protest against the military leaders in Khartoum to show his commitment to the Sudanese street.

In a statement published on Monday, Hamdok pinpointed that the deal he signed with al-Burhan provides to establish a political pact to be endorsed by all the political forces.

“This political pact is the one that defines all roles and forms the legislative council,” he said.

He added that would allow taking advantage of the lessons learnt during the two past years.

He further called to be open-minded and to move forward instead of sticking to “phrases and texts”, as he said.

NUP slams Hamdok

In a separate development, the National Umma Party (NUP), which was seen as one of the potential backers of the political agreement, issued a strongly worded statement against Hamdok, accusing him of seeking to split the party.

The NUP General-Secretariat disclosed that the Prime Minister met with some of its local leaders from some states and accused him of seeking to divide the party’s ranks.

“We will not accept the creation of a domesticated (political) incubator that will return the wheel of history to the era of the former regime,” stressed the statement before calling on the party members to take to the street to reject the coup and restore the democratic civil rule.


Tens of Thousands Protest in Anti-military Marches in Sudan


Protesters call for a civilian government during demonstrations near the presidential palace in Khartoum, Sudan, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021. Security forces have fired tear gas at anti-coup protesters in the Sudanese capital on Tuesday, in the latest demonstrations against a military takeover that took place last month. (AP Photo/Marwan Ali)

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — Security forces fired tear gas at anti-coup protesters in the Sudanese capital on Tuesday, as tens of thousands marched in the latest demonstrations against a military takeover that took place last month.

Protesters took to the streets in Khartoum and other cities around the country to demand that the armed forces stay out of government.

Deposed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was reinstated earlier this month under military oversight in a deal that many in the pro-democracy movement oppose. Since the generals seized power on Oct. 25 and rounded up more than 100 civilian government figures, protesters have repeatedly taken to the streets.

In a video streamed online from the Bahri neighborhood of Khartoum, a few protesters threw stones as security forces repeatedly fired tear gas and used sound bombs to try to disperse them. Leaders of the pro-democracy movement have consistently called on those taking part in demonstrations to remain peaceful. In a larger march not far away, demonstrators filled an entire street and waded through parked cars.

Sudanese security forces have cracked down on the rallies and have killed some 43 protesters so far, according the Sudan Doctors’ Committee, which tracks protester deaths. On Tuesday, the group announced that the latest death was that of a 26-year-old protester who died from brain hemorrhaging after he was badly beaten by security forces during a march last week.

Later in the day, demonstrators gathered in front of the government’s Republican Palace, which was surrounded by security forces.

On Saturday, Hamdok announced the replacement of top officials in the country’s police forces, according to Sudan’s state news agency, firing those who oversaw the response to earlier demonstrations.

Tuesday’s demonstrations come after Hamdok emphasized that the Sudanese people have the right to peacefully protest. In a Facebook post on Monday, he said it is a right “the Sudanese people have secured through decades of struggle.”

The military’s signing of a power-sharing deal with Hamdok coincided with his release from weeks of house arrest. Since then, a number of other officials have also been let go but many remain in detention, along with many activists and protesters.

Hamdok’s reinstatement was the biggest concession made by the military since the coup but leaves the country’s transition to democracy mired in crisis. For years he has been the civilian face of the government and one of the pro-democracy movement’s most respected figures. But Sudan’s key pro-democracy groups and political parties have said the deal that reinstalled him falls short of their demands for full civilian rule.

“The first thing I did when I took to the street was chant against Hamdok, and that was very hard,” said one protester, Amani Hussein. “Because I respect Hamdok, he’s one of us.”

Sudan has been struggling with its transition to a democratic government since the overthrow of autocrat Omar al-Bashir in 2019, following a mass uprising against three decades of his rule.

Uganda Launches Joint Strikes in Congo against ADF Rebels


DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Uganda’s army has launched joint air and artillery strikes against the Allied Democratic Forces rebel group in eastern Congo.

The attacks were carried out with Congo’s military against ADF camps, Uganda People’s Defense Forces spokeswoman Brig. Gen. Flavia Byekwaso said via Twitter. No further details were given.

The joint military action comes shortly after Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi authorized Uganda’s troops to enter into Congo to help fight the rebel group blamed for attacks in eastern Congo that have killed more than 1,000 people over the past several years. The attacks have become more frequent in recent months.

At least four civilians were killed less than two weeks ago in Uganda’s capital when suicide bombers detonated their explosives at two locations there.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the explosions, saying they were carried out by Ugandans. Ugandan authorities blamed the attacks on the Allied Democratic Forces, or ADF, an extremist group that has been allied with the IS group since 2019.

The ADF was established in the early 1990s in Uganda. The Ugandan military later forced the rebels into eastern Congo, where many rebel groups are able to operate because the central government has limited control there.

Libya: UN Following Attempts to Thwart Electoral Process

FILE - In this Feb. 25, 2011, file photo, Seif al-Islam Gadhafi speaks to the media at a press conference in a hotel in Tripoli, Libya. Libya's top electoral body said Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021, that Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, the son and one-time heir apparent of the late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi is disqualified from running in presidential elections that are supposed to take place next month. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)

CAIRO (AP) — The United Nations expressed concerns Monday over the forced closure of a Libya appeals court that is meant to decide whether the son of the late dictator Moammar Gadhafi can run for president.

The UN mission to Libya said in a statement that it is following reports that an armed group had ‘violently obstructed’ the functioning of a court in the city of Sabha in the southwest of the country.

Judges there are responsible for deciding on whether Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, the onetime heir apparent to his father, will be able to run for the country’s top office, after he filed an appeal against a decision last week that barred him from taking part. The country’s impending elections are the result of years of UN-led negotiations between the country’s warring parties.

The UN also shared alarm at the treatment of judges, who in Sabha were ‘physically prevented’ from fulfilling their duties. It voiced further worry over a growing number of accounts of judges across the country being threatened, particularly those handling election-related cases. Candidates have a window of time before the Dec. 24 vote to file appeals related to their own candidacy or against other candidates.

Libya’s top electoral body last week issued a list of candidates who did not meet conditions to run for office; among them was Seif al-Islam, the son of and once heir-apparent to the late dictator. He was barred based because of previous convictions against him. The younger Gadhafi had been sentenced to death by a Tripoli court in 2015 for using violence against protesters in a 2011 uprising against his father, but that ruling has since been called into question by Libya’s rival authorities. He is also wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity related to the uprising.

The long-awaited vote faces other challenges, including unresolved issues over laws governing the elections, and occasional infighting among armed groups. Other obstacles include the deep rift that remains between the country’s east and west and the presence of thousands of foreign fighters and troops.

Adding to the concerns surrounding the election, the U.N.’s top envoy for Libya submitted his resignation last week, though he said he will stay on through the vote if needed.

Following the 2011 overthrow and killing of Moammar Gadhafi, oil-rich Libya spent most of the last decade split between rival governments — one based in the capital, Tripoli, and the other in the eastern part of the country. Each side in the civil war has also had the support of mercenaries and foreign forces from Turkey, Russia and Syria and other regional powers.

The son of Libya’s former dictator submitted his candidacy papers in the southern town of Sabha on Nov. 14. It was the first time in years that the 49-year-old, who earned a PhD at the London School of Economics, appeared in public. He had been captured by fighters in the town of Zintan late in 2011, as the uprising ended his father’s rule after 40 years. Seif al-Islam was released in June 2017.

The announcement of his possible candidacy stirred controversy across the divided country, where a number of other high-profile candidates have also emerged in recent weeks. Among them are powerful military commander Khalifa Hifter and the country’s interim prime minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah.

Asia Shares Mixed as Investors Weigh Omicron Economic Risks


Trader Michael Milano works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Monday, Nov. 29, 2021. Stock indexes are edging higher on Wall Street Monday as markets regain their footing following a big stumble on Friday on worries about the spread of the new variant of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mixed Tuesday as investors continued to cautiously weigh how much damage the new omicron coronavirus variant may unleash on the global economy.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 1.0% to 28,577.34 in morning trading. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 1.2% to 7,325.00. South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.4% to 2,898.40. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dipped 1.1% to 23,580.13, while the Shanghai Composite added 0.3% to 3,571.91.

Some analysts think a serious economic downturn, like what happened last year, will likely be averted because more people have been vaccinated. But they also think a return to pre-pandemic levels of economic activity has been dramatically delayed, especially in sectors such as tourism. Consumption may also be hurt.

“Sentiments may ride on the positive handover from Wall Street overnight, but with the slower vaccination rate and more limited healthcare capacity in the region, uncertainty from the new omicron variant may seem to bring about higher economic risks for the region at a time where it is shifting towards further reopening,” Yeap Jun Rong, market strategist at IG in Singapore, said of the omicron’s impact on Asia.

The vaccination rollout rate varies by country in the region, at about 77% in Japan, 50% in Vietnam and 35% in Indonesia. In Asia, the omicron variant has only been officially detected in Hong Kong, but the region is bracing for its wider arrival, which generally means a setback for economic reopening. Worries also remain about how effective current vaccines may be against omicron.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose 1.3% to recover more than half of its drop from Friday, which was its worst since February. Bond yields and crude oil also recovered chunks of what they lost in traders’ knee-jerk reaction to run toward safety and away from risky investments.

With vaccines in hand — and with the benefit of a weekend to mull whether Friday’s sharp market moves were overdone — analysts said the world may be in a better position to weather this newest potential wave. Plus, Friday’s tumble for markets may have been exacerbated by many traders taking the day off following Thanksgiving.

But while the market steadied itself, uneasiness still hangs over it due to the discovery of the omicron variant. The variant appears to spread more easily, and countries around the world have put up barriers to travel in hopes of stemming it.

“There are still more questions than answers regarding the new variant,” said Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist for LPL Financial. “At the same time, we’ve been living with COVID-19 for almost 20 months now, and we’ve seen multiple variants.”

Given the uncertainty, the Dow Jones Industrial Average wavered between a loss of 3 points and a gain of 388 points through the day. It ended with a gain of 236.60 points, or 0.7%, at 35,135.94.

The most powerful lift for stocks came from those that have been able to grow strongly almost regardless of the economy’s strength or pandemic’s pall. Gains for five big tech-oriented stocks — Microsoft, Tesla, Apple, Amazon and Nvidia — alone accounted for more than a third of the S&P 500’s rise. The gains for tech-oriented stocks also helped to drive the Nasdaq composite up a market-leading 1.9%.

Moderna jumped 11.8% for the biggest gain in the S&P 500, adding to an even bigger gain from Friday, after it said it’s testing the effectiveness of its vaccine against omicron. Its CEO said in a televised interview on ABC that it could take two to three months for a vaccine developed specifically for the variant to begin manufacturing.

Travel-related stocks started the day with gains but fell back as more caution filtered into the market and as travel restrictions around the world remained in force. They ended mixed after President Joe Biden said he wasn’t considering a widespread U.S. lockdown. He said the variant was a cause for concern and “not a cause for panic.” Delta Air Lines and American Airlines closed slightly lower, while cruise line operators Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line notched gains.

All told, the S&P 500 rose 60.65 points to 4,655.27, while the Nasdaq added 291.18 points to 15,782.83. The Russell 2000 index of small companies was headed for its own rebound after climbing 1.6% in the early going, but its gains faded by late afternoon. The index slipped 3.96 points, or 0.2%, to 2,241.98.

“Because so much is still unknown about the omicron variant, it could take us a week or more to recover what we lost in a single day,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.51% from 1.49% late Friday, recovering some of its steep slide from 1.64% that day. It tends to rise and fall with expectations for the economy’s strength and for inflation.

The VIX, an index that measures how worried investors are about upcoming drops for the S&P 500, also eased significantly. But it’s not all the way back to where it was before omicron.

Besides waiting on more clues about how much economic damage omicron will ultimately do, the market has several big mileposts this week that could swing prices. The headliner is likely Friday’s jobs report, where economists expect to see an acceleration in hiring by employers during November.

Omicron adds more risk to a global economy already contending with paralyzing uncertainty. Travel bans, including recent decisions by Japan and Israel to bar foreign visitors, threaten to disrupt global business. Global supply chains already gummed up by bottlenecks could be further ensnarled if outbreaks shut down factories, ports and freight yards.

Shipping problems would risk pushing prices higher, adding to inflation pressures. In response, the world’s central banks could raise interest rates and imperil the recovery from last year’s brief but intense coronavirus recession.

“Omicron reinforces that the economy remains tethered to the pandemic,” Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said on Twitter Monday. “With each new wave of the pandemic, the economy will suffer slower growth and higher inflation.’’

The U.S. economic recovery lost significant momentum when the highly contagious delta variant hit over the summer. Economic growth slowed to an annual rate of 2.1% from July through September from 6.7% from April through June and 6.3% from January through March. The S&P 500 had its worst month of the year in September, falling 4.8%.

Still, more Americans are vaccinated now, and the economy has shown resiliency, regaining speed after the summer slowdown. Zandi tweeted that “the most likely scenario is the economy will manage through each wave better than the one before it.”

Of course, the only way to know which scenario will ultimately occur is to wait to see it through. And that uncertainty in the meantime could lead to more up-and-down swings for the stock market, which has surged more than 24% this year and set a record as recently as Nov. 18.

“We’re just going to be in the dark for several weeks here,” LPL’s Detrick said.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude surged $1.03 to $70.98 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, gained $1.02 to $74.46 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar rose to 113.66 Japanese yen from 113.61 yen. The euro cost $1.1295, inching up from $1.1293.


AP Business Writers Damian J. Troise, Stan Choe, Paul Wiseman and Alex Veiga contributed.

Ghana Orders Vaccinations for Restaurant, Stadium Access


November 29, 2021

ACCRA, Ghana (AP) — Ghana’s government is ordering access to beaches, restaurants, night clubs and stadiums be limited to people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, as part of its efforts to fight the spread of the virus.

While the omicron variant of coronavirus has not yet been identified in the West African nation, the government health service is “taking steps to protect the country towards the Christmas season,” Ghana’s health service director-general Patrick Kuma-Aboagye said.

At least 5.45 million people of Ghana’s population of 31 million have received at least one vaccine dose. Vaccines being given in Ghana include AstraZeneca, Sputnik V, Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson.

Ghana’s land borders are closed and air travelers are required to have a PCR test within 72 hours of arrival and antigen tests upon arrival.

Ghana aims to administer 20 million doses of vaccines by the end of 2021, Kuma-Aboagye said in a statement issued Sunday.

“Among COVID-19 deaths at the Ghana Infectious Diseases Center, 12.5% of the deaths were persons who had been vaccinated (they also had severe underlying medical conditions). The rest, 87.5%, hadn’t been vaccinated,” he said.

Ghana has recorded more than 1,209 deaths and 130,920 cases of COVID-19.

Omicron Brings COVID-19 Vaccine Inequity ‘Home to Roost’


FILE - A woman receives an AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine in Abuja, Nigeria, on Nov 19, 2021. The emergence of the new omicron variant and the world’s desperate and likely futile attempts to keep it at bay are reminders of what scientists have warned for months: The coronavirus will thrive as long as vast parts of the world lack vaccines. (AP Photo/Gbemiga Olamikan, File)

LONDON (AP) — The emergence of the new omicron variant and the world’s desperate and likely futile attempts to keep it at bay are reminders of what scientists have warned for months: The coronavirus will thrive as long as vast parts of the world lack vaccines.

The hoarding of limited COVID-19 shots by rich countries — creating virtual vaccine deserts in many poorer ones — doesn’t just mean risk for the parts of the world seeing shortages; it threatens the entire globe.

That’s because the more the disease spreads among unvaccinated populations, the more possibilities it has to mutate and potentially become more dangerous, prolonging the pandemic for everyone.

“The virus is a ruthless opportunist, and the inequity that has characterized the global response has now come home to roost,” said Dr. Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI, one of the groups behind the U.N.-backed COVAX shot-sharing initiative.

Perhaps nowhere is the inequality more evident than in Africa, where under 7% of the population is vaccinated. South African scientists alerted the World Health Organization to the new omicron variant last week, though it may never be clear where it first originated. Researchers are now rushing to determine whether it is more infectious or able to evade current vaccines.

COVAX was supposed to avoid such inequality — but instead the initiative is woefully short of shots and has already abandoned its initial goal of 2 billion doses.

Even to reach its scaled-back target of distributing 1.4 billion doses by the end of 2021, it must ship more than 25 million doses every day. Instead, it has averaged just over 4 million a day since the beginning of October, with some days dipping below 1 million, according to an Associated Press analysis of the shipments.

Shipments in recent days have ramped up, but nowhere near the amount needed.

Meanwhile, richer nations often have a glut of shots, and many are now offering boosters — something the WHO has discouraged because every booster is essentially a dose that is not going to someone who’s never even gotten their first shot. Despite the U.N. health agency’s appeal to countries to declare a moratorium on booster shots until the end of the year, more than 60 countries are now administering them.

“What it highlights are the continuing and fundamental risks to everyone associated with not seriously addressing the inequalities still at play globally in the fight against disease and poor health,” said Dr. Osman Dar, director of the One Health Project at the Chatham House think tank.

Anna Marriott, health policy manager for Oxfam, said COVAX was limited from the outset after being pushed to the back of the vaccine queue by rich countries.

“The COVAX team may be delivering as fast as they can, but they can’t deliver vaccines they haven’t got,” Marriott said.

Just 13% of vaccines COVAX contracted for and 12% of promised donations have actually been delivered, according to calculations by the International Monetary Fund from mid-November. About a third of the vaccines dispensed by COVAX have been donations, according to the vaccine alliance known as Gavi, and the initiative is now partly a clearinghouse for those donated doses, the very situation it was set up to avoid.

Last week, COVAX sent out a news release praising a European Union pledge to ship 100 million vaccines to Africa by the end of the year — but only 1/20 of that amount was actually on planes.

Asked about the logistical challenges of distributing the other 94 million doses in only six weeks, Aurelia Nguyen, managing director of COVAX maintained that arrangements “are in place to move a vast number of doses between now and the end of the year.”

In a statement, she said the issue was ensuring that “conditions are right on the ground for doses to be administered.”

In minutes released ahead of an executive meeting this week, Gavi fretted that the perception that rich countries are dumping older or lesser vaccines on poor countries could undermine the whole project. On Monday, in a joint statement with WHO and the African Union among others, it admonished that “the majority of the donations to date have been ad hoc, provided with little notice and short shelf lives.”

Fury over dose dumping is already very real. In Malawi and South Sudan, tens of thousands of out-of-date doses were destroyed.

But it’s not just getting the vaccines into poorer countries that’s a problem, according to some experts. COVAX is “falling short on getting vaccines from the (airport) tarmac into people’s arms,” said Dr. Angela Wakhweya, senior director for health equity and rights at CARE.

Authorities in Congo, for instance, returned their entire COVAX shipment this summer when they realized they would not be able to administer doses before they expired.

In a “risk management” report on COVAX, Gavi warned that “poor absorption” of vaccines by developing countries could lead to “wastage” of some doses. One problem is logistics — just getting the doses in the right country at the right time. But just as important is the ability of often underfunded national health systems to distribute the shots where they’re most needed, along with syringes and other necessary gear. A third issue is persuading sometimes hesitant people to get the vaccines.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, however, has disputed distribution is a problem, saying the only obstacle to immunization in poor countries is supply.

Most COVAX doses distributed so far have been AstraZeneca’s vaccine, a shot that has yet to be authorized in the U.S. and whose botched rollout in Europe helped fuel anti-vaccine sentiment when the vaccine was linked to rare blood clots. The vaccines mostly used in the U.S. and much of Europe — made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — have only been available in tiny amounts via COVAX.

The U.S., which blocked vaccine sales overseas and exports of key ingredients for months, has donated 275 million doses in all, more than any other country, but the vast majority of the Biden administration’s 1.1 billion pledge has a deadline of September 2022. The European Union, which has in general allowed vaccines manufactured in the bloc to be sold anywhere in the world, has actually delivered about a third of its 500 million promised doses.

Efforts to ramp up global production beyond a select group of manufacturers have stalled, which many activists and scientists blame on pharmaceutical companies’ opposition to waive intellectual property rights for the highly lucrative vaccines.

COVAX’s failure to deliver anywhere close to enough vaccines has led some to wonder if it’s worth the effort to fight for the shots, given that the pandemic has so far not devastated Africa as many had initially feared — and has often been the worst in richer nations. That’s a strategy few public health officials would endorse.

“I think what Africa could do to really shame the world is to stop asking for vaccines,” said Christian Happi, a Nigerian virologist who sat on the scientific advisory board of CEPI. “The vaccines have not arrived, and anyways it may turn out that we don’t need them as much as the West.”


Hinnant reported from Paris. Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed from Washington.

Brazil and Japan Report First Cases of the Omicron Variant


The arrival lobby of the international terminal is deserted at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021. Japan confirmed on Tuesday its first case of the new omicron coronavirus variant, a visitor who recently arrived from Namibia, an official said. Japan announced Monday it will suspend entry of all foreign visitors from around the world as a new coronavirus variant spreads (Shinji Kita/Kyodo News via AP)

Brazil and Japan joined the rapidly widening circle of countries to report cases of the omicron variant Tuesday, while new findings indicate the mutant coronavirus was already in Europe close to a week before South Africa sounded the alarm.

The Netherlands’ RIVM health institute disclosed that patient samples dating from Nov. 19 and 23 were found to contain the variant. It was on Nov. 24 that South African authorities reported the existence of the highly mutated virus to the World Health Organization.

That indicates omicron had a bigger head start in the Netherlands than previously believed.

Together with the cases in Japan and Brazil, the finding illustrates the difficulty in containing the virus in an age of jet travel and economic globalization. And it left the world once again whipsawed between hopes of returning to normal and fears that the worst is yet to come.

Much remains unknown about the new variant, including whether it is more contagious, as some health authorities suspect, whether it makes people more seriously ill, and whether it can thwart the vaccine.

The pandemic has shown repeatedly that the virus “travels quickly because of our globalized, interconnected world,” said Dr. Albert Ko, an infectious disease specialist at the Yale School of Public Health. Until the vaccination drive reaches every country, “we’re going to be in this situation again and again.”

Brazil, which has recorded a staggering total of more than 600,000 COVID-19 deaths, reported finding the variant in two travelers returning from South Africa — the first known omicron cases in Latin America. The travelers were tested on Nov. 25, authorities said.

Japan announced its first case, too, on the same day the country put a ban on all foreign visitors into effect. The patient was identified as a Namibian diplomat who had recently arrived from his homeland.

France likewise recorded its first case, in the far-flung island territory of Reunion in the Indian Ocean. Authorities said the patient was a man who had returned to Reunion from South Africa and Mozambique on Nov. 20.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the United States’ top infectious disease expert, said much more will be known about omicron in the next several weeks, and “we’ll have a much better picture of what the challenge is ahead of us.”

In the meantime, a WHO official warned that given the growing number of omicron cases in South Africa and neighboring Botswana, parts of southern Africa could soon see infections skyrocket.

“There is a possibility that really we’re going to be seeing a serious doubling or tripling of the cases as we move along or as the week unfolds,” said Dr. Nicksy Gumede-Moeletsi, a WHO regional virologist.

Cases began to increase rapidly in mid-November in South Africa, which is now seeing nearly 3,000 confirmed new infections per day.

Before news of the Brazil cases broke, Fauci said 226 omicron cases had been confirmed in 20 countries, adding: “I think you’re going to expect to see those numbers change rapidly.”

Those countries include Britain, 11 European Union nations, Australia, Canada and Israel. American disease trackers said omicron could already be in the U.S., too, and probably will be detected soon.

“I am expecting it any day now,” said Scott Becker of the Association of Public Health Laboratories. “We expect it is here.”

While the variant was first identified by South African researchers, it is unclear where and when it originated, information that could help shed light on how fast it spreads.

The announcement from the Dutch on Tuesday could shape that timeline.

Previously, the Netherlands said it found the variant among passengers who came from South Africa on Friday, the same day the Dutch and other EU members began imposing flight bans and other restrictions on southern Africa. But the newly identified cases predate that.

NOS, the Netherlands’ public broadcaster, said that one of the two omicron samples came from a person who had been in southern Africa.

Belgium reported a case involving a traveler who returned to the country from Egypt on Nov. 11 but did not become sick with mild symptoms until Nov. 22.

Many health officials tried to calm fears, insisting that vaccines remain the best defense and that the world must redouble its efforts to get the shots to every part of the globe.

Emer Cooke, chief of the European Medicines Agency, said that the 27-nation EU is well prepared for the variant and that the vaccine could be adapted for use against omicron within three or four months if necessary.

England reacted to the emerging threat by making face coverings mandatory again on public transportation and in stores, banks and hair salons. And one month ahead of Christmas, the head of Britain’s Health Security Agency urged people not to socialize if they don’t need to.

After COVID-19 led to a one-year postponement of the Summer Games, Olympic organizers began to worry about the February Winter Games in Beijing. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said omicron would “certainly bring some challenges in terms of prevention and control.”

World markets seesawed on every piece of medical news, whether worrisome or reassuring. Stocks fell on Wall Street over virus fears as well as concerns about the Federal Reserve’s continued efforts to shore up the markets.

Some analysts think a serious economic downturn will probably be averted because many people have been vaccinated. But they also think a return to pre-pandemic levels of economic activity, especially in tourism, has been dramatically delayed.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Sudanese Authorities Rearrest Political Detainees After Release

29 NOVEMBER 2021

November 28, 2021 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese authorities re-arrested seven former officials shortly after their release on the same day under criminal charges.

Sovereign Council Member Mohamed al-Faki, Minister of Industry Ibrahim al-Sheikh, Empowerment Removal Committee, Wajdi Saleh, FFC Spokesperson Gaafar Hassan, SPA leading member Ismail al-Taj have been rearrested after their release on Saturday.

A defence team member Iqbal Ali confirmed their detention and told the Sudan Tribune on Sunday that the lawyers submitted a request to visit the detainees.

The authorities informed the lawyers that they are held under articles 58 and 62 of the Criminal Code related to inciting the regular forces to revolt, and inciting discontent among the regular forces.

Iqbal indicated a detainee under the two charges may be released on bail.

Also, that the Public Prosecution Office informed the lawyers that they had begun the investigation with some detainees and they would consider their release once the investigation is completed.

The lawyer further added that the authorities have to prove that the lawsuits are not malicious behaviour to prolong the detention period of the four detainees who were defiant to the military component.

The head of the Sovereign Council Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan signed a political agreement with Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok including the immediate release of the political detainees arrested after the coup of October 25.

However, al-Burhan spoke about criminal charges against some of them without elaborating adding they have to face justice first.

There was no comment from the office of the prime minister.

The Sudanese Congress Party issued a statement saying they hold the Sudanese government responsible for the life and safety of the party leading member al-Sheikh and the other detainees.

A member of the Legal Committee of the Forces for Freedom and Change, Muez Hadrat, told Al-Jazeera TV on Sunday that the Sudanese army filed lawsuits against 25 leaders of the coalition immediately after their release from detention, including some ministers in the ousted government.

However, the authorities did not release any information about the number of detained persons after the coup. Some anti-coup activists say there are over a hundred pointing to detained resistance committees members.


China to Further Help Africa’s Vaccination Drive, Shielding Continent from Omicron

By Zhang Hui, Wang Wenwen and Fan Wei

Nov 29, 2021 10:47 PM

China-Africa cooperation on trade, fighting COVID-19. Graphic: Xu Zihe/GT

 China has vowed to further help African countries boost their vaccination drive, which Chinese observers said could significantly strengthen the continent's immunological barrier against the COVID-19 pandemic and tackle serious global vaccine inequality. The emergence of the new variant Omicron, which was first detected in South Africa, once again highlights the dire consequences of vaccine inequality in developing countries, especially in Africa, where only 6 percent of its population have been fully vaccinated.

China is also expected to further step up its efforts to help African countries with vaccine production, meeting the continent's core needs with cost-efficient methods for producing inactivated vaccines that are more suitable for these countries than the West's high-priced and complicated mRNA vaccines, analysts said. 

In order to help vaccinate 60 percent of the African population, a goal set by the African Union, China will provide African countries another 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine with 600 million doses offered for free and the rest offered through various means including joint production by Chinese and African enterprises, President Xi Jinping announced in a keynote speech delivered via video link at the opening ceremony of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing on Monday.

On Monday, more countries barred entry of foreigners as the WHO said Omicron is likely to spread internationally, bringing "severe consequences" in some areas. Japan said on Monday it would close its borders to foreigners from Tuesday. Two days ago, Israel announced a ban on entry of all foreigners, making it the first country to shut its borders, Reuters reported. 

Omicron, first identified in South Africa, has been found in Australia, Belgium, Botswana, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, China's Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands and Scotland, Reuters said on Monday. 

Chinese analysts said that new variant tends to emerge in regions with relatively poor epidemic response capabilities, making regions like Africa a weak link in the global COVID-19 battle, and improving vaccination rates is critical for the continent and the whole world to shake off COVID-19 as soon as possible.  

On Sunday local time, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said while meeting with the Senegalese Foreign Minister Aissata Tall Sall that China will continue to provide COVID-19 vaccines to Senegal and support its efforts to become West Africa's vaccine production center. China is willing to work with Senegal in vaccine research and development, and virus detection, Wang said. 

Observers said that the help provided by Chinese inactivated vaccine firms for Senegal to build West Africa's vaccine production center will probably come in the form of offering vaccine concentrate, so that local factories can then inject and pack the vaccine on their production lines. 

They said that with China's help in both vaccine production and techniques for localizing vaccine manufacturing, Africa is expected to see its vaccination rates greatly improved and its immunological barrier against the pandemic strengthened.  

China was the first country to provide vaccines to developing countries in need and the first country to cooperate with developing countries on vaccine production. In Africa, Egypt has become the first regional country to be able to produce vaccine with the help of Chinese vaccine producers, Xinhua News Agency reported. 

Chinese vaccine manufacturer Sinopharm told the Global Times on Monday that the company has offered more than 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to more than 40 African countries so far, and many African government leaders took the lead in receiving the Sinopharm vaccine.

Zimbabwe's Victoria Falls started to inoculate its residents with the Sinopharm vaccine in March, and has become the first city in Zimbabwe to reach herd immunity through vaccinations, according to Sinopharm.

Some African scholars also welcomed and expected China's vaccine aid to help the continent overcome the pandemic. 

Adhere Cavince, a Kenyan scholar of international relations with a focus on China-Africa relations, told the Global Times on Monday that China has been a strong partner for the continent by sending large consignments of essential commodities needed in the fight against the pandemic. 

"With a record vaccination rate at home and strong vaccine manufacturing capacity, China can help many African countries access COVID-19 vaccines. This is the only rational way out of the pandemic for Africa and the rest of the world," he said. 

Just five African countries, less than 10 percent of Africa's 54 nations, are projected to hit the year-end target of fully vaccinating 40 percent of their citizens, the WHO said.

Zhuang Shilihe, a Guangzhou-based immunologist, told the Global Times on Monday that before scientists determine the protection rate of current vaccines against the new variant, vaccines are still the most effective way to shield people from the pandemic. 

South Africa was the region where the Omicron variant was first detected, and India was where the Delta variant was first reported, indicating that new variants tend to emerge in regions with relatively weak pandemic response strategies and low vaccination rates, Jiang Chunlai, a professor from Jilin University's School of Life Sciences, told the Global Times on Monday.

Experts said if the international community fails to help Africa improve vaccination rates, the rest of the world will become as vulnerable as Africa in facing new possible variants. 

A Beijing-based immunologist told the Global Times on condition of anonymity that more dangerous variants could emerge if the virus mutates in countries with low vaccination rates.

Africa has fully vaccinated 77 million people, just 6 percent of its population. In comparison, over 70 percent of high-income countries have already vaccinated more than 40 percent of their populations, the WHO said on October 28. 

WHO said in a link it sent to the Global Times on Monday that current vaccines remain effective against severe disease and death, and it's vitally important that inequities in access to COVID-19 vaccines are urgently addressed to ensure that vulnerable groups everywhere receive their first and second doses, alongside equitable access to treatment and diagnostics.

Chinese analysts criticized US-led Western countries for hoarding vaccines that resulted in the emergence of the Omicron variant, saying it's a lesson for developed countries and they should take immediate actions to help Africa. 

More suitable for Africa 

Amid China's vaccine help for Africa, the US has also reinforced its rhetoric on helping African countries to produce vaccines locally. 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrapped up his African tour a few days ago, and stressed US' efforts to help Senegal manufacture its own vaccines during his stay in the country. 

Moderna said it will invest up to $500 million in a "state of the art facility" to produce mRNA vaccines in Africa, though the exact location has not been decided, the company said in October. 

Chinese analysts said that for African countries, localizing production of COVID-19 vaccines was their core need, and although both China and the US offered help, it's difficult for the US to promote its vaccine manufacturing techniques in Africa due to the high cost of its methods. 

"On the contrary, China's cost-effective manufacturing techniques are most suitable for Africa, and China would also help countries establish their own industrial systems," Liu Haifang, executive director of the Beijing-based Center for African Studies and associate professor at the School of International Studies of Peking University, told the Global Times. 

Inactivated vaccine techniques are more mature, and local factories could easily inject and pack the vaccine concentrate received from China, Jiang said. 

China, Africa Further Cement Ties

Xi announces additional 1 bln vaccine doses to continent; vows joint green development

By Yang Sheng, Liu Xin, Wang Wenwen and Cui Fandi

Nov 30, 2021 12:43 AM

Chinese President Xi Jinping (center) delivers a keynote speech via video link at the opening ceremony of the 8th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation on Monday. Photo: Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping said China will provide Africa with another 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine, and he said China and African countries should insist on unity in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, deepen pragmatic cooperation, promote green development and safeguard fairness and justice.

Xi made the remarks at the opening of the 8th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) via video link on Monday. Experts said China-Africa relations have been improving steadily while the US increasingly eyes the continent as a geopolitical battlefield with no substantial input, but only lip service promises.  

This year's ministerial conference of the FOCAC is expected to yield the most results on China-Africa cooperation with short-term plans focused on economic recovery and cooperation in the fight against the COVID-19, and long-term plans on digital and green economy and climate change cooperation, analysts said.

China-Africa cooperation will have more global significance in the future in post-pandemic recovery and addressing climate change, and the unprecedented achievements of the 8th ministerial conference of the FOCAC will comprehensively improve China-Africa ties and reinforce the existing shared values and mutual trust, they noted. 

To overcome challenges

A key document titled "2035 vision for China-Africa cooperation" has been formulated before the conference, and for the first three-year planning under the vision, China will work with African countries on nine projects - health, poverty alleviation and benefitting farmers, trade promotion, investment drive, digital innovation, green development, capacity building, people-to-people exchanges, and peace and security, Xi said. 

"This FOCAC conference comes at a critical time," said Adhere Cavince, a Kenyan scholar on international relations with a focus on China-Africa relations, noting that the conference is taking place amid a global health and climate crisis.

"Africa is the least vaccinated region against COVID-19 and global warming is fueling climate famine in Madagascar. 

Joint action against the pandemic and green economic reconstruction should strongly feature in the discussions," he told the Global Times. 

The next three years will be very important for China-Africa cooperation. As the only country that has successfully put the pandemic under control, China has significant capacity to assist African countries overcome economic damage, Cavince noted. 

For example, Chinese companies remain active in much of Africa, implementing development projects like the Nairobi Expressway and Lamu Port in Kenya, which has provided the much-needed jobs as well as capital into the Kenyan economy through local subcontractors, he said. 

China and Africa are also expected to work out an outlook on how to better connect China's second centennial goal with Africa's development, as many African countries, including Kenya and Ethiopia, have their own 10-year plans. 

Such an outlook between China and Africa would lay a solid foundation for cooperation in at least the next 10 years, Zhu Weidong, senior research fellow with the Institute of West Asian and African Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. 

Actions vs lip service 

China has always considered Africa the platform for international cooperation and opposed turning it into an arena for major power competition. But the US and some Western countries clearly want to compete with China and Russia in Africa, experts said. 

Zhu noted that unlike his predecessor, US President Joe Biden has attached more importance to Africa. "Promoting US-style democracy, human rights and values are the tools he is wielding to attract African countries" to compete with China's influence in the continent.  

The US is scheduled to hold a summit for democracy from December 9-10 for "leaders from government, civil society and the private sector," and some key themes include "defending against authoritarianism" and "promoting respect for human rights," according to a statement released on the website of the US State Department.  Many African countries are on the participant list. 

Aside from turmoil, conflicts, lip service and empty promises, the US has brought nothing to African countries, and those African countries know this very well, Zhu said, noting that on the contrary, China has taken concrete actions to help African countries to deal with problems in sectors crucial to their development, including infrastructure building. 

China has built more than 80 electricity infrastructure projects in Africa, more than 130 medical facilities, 45 stadiums, and more than 170 schools, and helped train more than 160,000 people in Africa. China-Africa cooperation has become a banner for South-South cooperation and international cooperation with Africa, Wu Jianghao, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, told a press conference on Friday. 

A recent report by African pollster Afrobarometer shows that China ranks first in terms of external influence in Africa, with 63 percent of Africans saying the economic and political influence of China in their country is "somewhat positive" or "very positive," and 66 percent perceive China's economic and political influence in Africa as positive. 

Cooperation or competition? 

From November 15-20, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal - the highest-ranking official from the Biden administration to visit sub-Saharan Africa - in a trip that was interpreted by global media as a move to compete with China for influence in Africa. 

Blinken said that the US plans to invest in several projects across Africa through its Build Back Better World initiative (B3W), which aims to invest $40 trillion in developing nations.

However, it requires a long and tedious process to allocate budgets and start programs, and the presidential election in the US may cause changes to the plans, Song Wei, Deputy Director of the World Economy Research Institute at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation who focuses on the study of Africa, told the Global Times. 

The US' plans on Africa are "external competition driven," which means instead of caring for Africa's development, it focuses on competing with China's influence in the region, Song said, noting that the US' "infrastructure" programs in Africa are also different from China's broader infrastructure construction.

Every China-backed infrastructure program in Africa respects local system and is suited to local development plan. The US' programs are more about promoting its values through small projects, aiming to remold one country through its assistance, Song said. 

Unshakable friendship

Xi said that in 65 years of diplomatic relations, China and African countries have set a shining example for building a new type of international relations, and China will never forget the long and profound friendship with African countries.

China and Africa have supported each other's core interests. Zhu noted that China and Africa share cultural similarities and in fighting for independence. As developing countries, China and African countries also share same stance on fighting for living and development rights, and oppose hegemony and arrogant lecturing and interference from the West.

US political elites have never truly respected African countries and their racial mindset is ingrained. For instance, former US president Donald Trump rudely said African nations are "shithole countries," so it's almost impossible for the US to build ties with Africa as friendly as China-Africa ties, analysts said.

In facing the US and Western countries' hype of human rights topics on China's Xinjiang and Hong Kong regions, African countries stood out to firmly support China and opposed external interference in China's domestic affairs. 

As one of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, China has also firmly supported African countries in boosting their voices in an international platform, and encouraged their active engagement in international affairs, Zhu noted. 

China and Africa have been good friends and will always be each other's good friends no matter what the US and the West try to do, Zhu said. 

No Project in Africa Has Been ‘Seized’ by China Due to Inability to Repay Loans: Chinese Embassy in Uganda

By Global Times

Nov 29, 2021 01:39 PM

Aerial photo taken on July 11, 2020 shows the Karuma hydropower project under construction along the River Nile in Kiryandongo.district of Uganda. Photo:Xinhua

The Chinese Embassy in Uganda on Sunday pushed back against foreign media speculations that China would "seize" control of Uganda's main international airport after the country failed to repay loans, saying that no project in Africa has been "seized" by China due to inability to replay loans.  

Malicious speculation that Uganda sacrificed core assets to raising Chinese fund has no factual basis and distort the traditional friendship between China and developing countries, including Uganda, a spokesperson for the embassy said. 

"No project in Africa has ever been 'seized' by China because it could not repay its loan. On the contrary, China firmly supports and is willing to continue to make efforts to improve Africa's capacity for independent development," the spokesperson said. 

The loan contract for Uganda's Entebbe International Airport reconstruction project was finalized in March, 2015, under which the Export-Import Bank of China offered $200 million in loan. Despite impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, the project has progressed smoothly and 75.1 percent of the work has been completed thanks to concerted efforts by Chinese firms and relevant Uganda authorities, according to the spokesperson, adding that the airport will be delivered by the end of 2022.  

The spokesperson further noted that contracts for the project is in line with international financing rules. "China-Uganda cooperation always adheres to the principles of openness, transparency, equality and mutual benefit. All loan agreements, including the Entebbe Airport reconstruction and expansion project, are voluntarily signed by both parties through dialogue and negotiation. There are no hidden terms and no political conditions are attached," the spokesperson said.

In addition to the airport project, China has also provided financial support in multiple sectors of the Ugandan economy, including agriculture, education, medical, sanitation and social infrastructure, according to the embassy.

Global Times

Taiwan Secessionists, US Meddlers to Suffer ‘Heavy Blow’ amid ‘Massive’ Turnout in Honduras Election

By Deng Xiaoci and Wan Hengyi

Nov 29, 2021 10:33 PM

Presidential candidate Xiomara Castro (Red) speaks after hearing the partial results of the elections, in Tegucigaloa, Honduras, 28 November 2021. Photo: thepaper.cn

Initial results from the Honduras presidential election showed that Xiomara Castro, the presidential candidate of the opposition is leading by 20 percentage points over the conservative ruling party contender Nasry Asfura. 

Chinese observers said that they welcome the approaching victory of Castro, who is on track to becoming the first female president of the Central American country, as she once promised that if she wins, she would immediately open diplomatic and commercial relations with China and de-emphasize "ties" with the Taiwan authorities. 

They said that such a result with a "massive turnout" showed that Hondurans are growing sick of the US-backed administration and Hondurans have realized that compared to the "dollar diplomacy" of the island of Taiwan, upholding the overriding global trend of the one-China principle could bring them more tangible benefits, even though its diplomatic policy may not be the deciding factor in the Latin American country's election. 

Commenting on the lead of Castro, Wang Wenbin, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said on Monday that China is willing to develop friendly and cooperative ties with any country on the premise of upholding the one-China principle. 

Honduras is one of the remaining 15 countries in the world that still have so-called "diplomatic ties" with Taiwan island, and if Castro's victory is officially confirmed and she keeps her promise, Honduras' new administration's change in attitude over the matter could bring an exemplary effect to the 14 other countries, Jiang Shixue, a professor and Director of Center for Latin American Studies at Shanghai University, told the Global Times on Monday.

If Honduras severs "ties with Taiwan," it will deal a heavy blow to the secessionists as well as sound the alarm for countries like Lithuania, which recently took on a wrong path over the Taiwan question by supporting Taiwan secessionists, he noted. 

Hondurans and politicians could not overlook how its neighboring country El Salvador, which cut "diplomatic ties" with Taiwan island in 2018 and established formal ties with China, has prospered ever since, observers said. It is clear that many countries in this region have chosen to establish diplomatic relations with China for the development of their own societies. In contrast to the shady political donations provided to these countries by the island of Taiwan, as the island's netizens cynically pointed out, the mainland's aid and investment bring tangible benefits to the society.

Official data showed that in 2020, trade between China and El Salvador reached $1.11 billion, and exports from El Salvador to China were worth $172 million, a 51.6 percent year-on-year increase. China has also offered to help build several major infrastructure projects in El Salvador, including a stadium and water treatment plant, inviting the country to join the Belt and Road Initiative. 

Since March, China has also provided COVID-19 vaccines to aid El Salvador's battle against the pandemic. Thanks to China's timely aid, more than 55.6 percent of El Salvador's population has been inoculated, leading the Latin American region, the Xinhua News Agency reported on October 27. 

In contrast, Honduras had attempted to get access to China-made coronavirus vaccines, when the Central American nation was experiencing a shortage several months ago. However, the nation's chief cabinet coordinator, Carlos Alberto Madero, told the Financial Times that being Taiwan's "ally" had prevented it from acquiring vaccines from China. He warned that Tegucigalpa may switch diplomatic recognition to Beijing, as access to vaccines was "much more urgent than anything else."

As of press time, the vaccinated rate in El Salvador was 62.3 percent and that for Honduras was less than 40 percent. 

However, despite the prospect of fostering formal ties with China if Castro is elected, the US will not give up interfering in the process, analysts said. 

A visiting US delegation led by Brian Nichols, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs to Honduras made clear to Honduran presidential candidates last week that the US wants Honduras to maintain its long-standing "diplomatic" relations with the island of Taiwan.  

The US also warned Central American nations of "the risks associated with China's approach to the region," Reuters reported. 

Slamming such apparent US coercion, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said on November 25 that it is not China's approach that the Latin American people should be wary of, but the US' long-standing hegemonic approach of regarding Central American countries as the US "backyard."

The US has felt a sense of losing control in its "backyard" as it fears that Honduras would follow El Salvador, Panama and the Dominican Republic and establish ties with China. It will exert pressure from all dimensions to hinder the process, which might include sanctions or a threat to pause aid, observers noted. 

GT Voice: As Nuclear Talks Resume, US Sanctions against Iran Must be Resolved

By Global Times

Nov 29, 2021 08:08 PM

The Mahshahr Petrochemical Complex is seen in the city of Mahshar in the Khuzestan province in southwestern Iran on September 28, 2011. Photo: VCG

Talks between world powers and Iran on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal is set to resume in Vienna, Austria on Monday. While global attention mainly focuses on the nuclear agreement, results from the talks may also have implications for global crude supplies in the future. As the US and other economies face high crude prices and surging inflation, there is also expectation that the talks should result in the US' lifting of unilateral sanctions against Iran.  

It is hard to predict whether the talks will reach a breakthrough, but from an economic point of view, if the US wants to curb serious inflation by driving down global crude prices, then whether the talks will allow Iran to open up its vast crude oil reserves to the rest of the world is of vital importance to the US economy.

On Monday, global oil prices rebounded, recovering ground after Friday's slump of about $10 a barrel over renewed fears about the spread of the Omicron variant. The emergence of the new variant may have altered market expectations, but it may only increase the volatility of oil prices, much to the disappointment of those who are mired in serious inflation. 

Analysts believe that although the highly contagious Omicron has caused panic across large parts of the globe, the information collected over the past weekend is far from sufficient for the market to understand the potential impact and seriousness of the variant. Some even predict that panic-selling may prove to be unfounded, and that oil prices could jump back to around $80 a barrel.

In fact, judging from the market reaction to the US-led coordinated effort to release oil from strategic reserves, the US may need a clearer estimation about its ability to influence the global energy market. After the US said it would release 50 million barrels and a number of other countries, including India, Japan, the UK, China and South Korea, were also reported to have similar plans to bring down oil prices, the market seemed take a skeptical approach over whether strategic reserves could do much for the current oil prices as both WTI and Brent oil prices jumped up on the same day.

Currently, global oil consumption is around 100 million barrels a day. The combined oil release from strategic reserves in all likelihood failed to meet a single day of market supply, which is far from affecting the entire supply and demand relationship. Even worse, many have voiced concerns that the coordinated release could prompt OPEC and its allies to delay their plan to increase monthly production. 

Therefore, given the rising global demand for energy, Iran's oil sales could be a key factor in determining the supply and demand. Iran has the world's fourth largest oil reserves. If the US eases its sanctions, Iran can ramp up its crude production from 2.1 million barrels a day to 3.8 million barrels a day, according to some estimates. Once Iran resumes exports, it could sell 40 to 50 million barrels to the rest of the world on a monthly basis, which could be much more effective in bringing down oil prices than the coordinated oil release.

While asking others to release their oil reserves, the US continues to impose sanctions on Iran. That's not the right approach, especially at a time when the US faces skyrocketing inflation. Such an approach affects not only the US but also other countries. 

As talks are underway in Vienna, the international community should come up with a new consensus toward US sanctions against Iran. Ultimately, the US needs to ease its unilateral sanctions against Iran, or it is essential for other countries to find ways to circumvent US restrictions, including settling oil trade with the Chinese yuan or other payment options.