Thursday, September 29, 2022

Ethiopia Reported Intense Fighting in North Wollo

September 29, 2022


There was intensive fighting between Ethiopian Forces and TPLF rebels in the North Wollo area of the Amhara region. It was in the Gobiye area – which is about 20 kilometers north of Wolida, the seat of the North Wollo zone administration, the battle was fought. 

The VOA Amharic service report on Wednesday cited what it called eyewitnesses from the Gobiye area who confirmed that the war is raging in the area. 

“The war was with heavy weaponry which is not the case today. Today it seems that the war is at a close distance as we have been hearing intense fighting with AK 47 and Bren machine guns,” one of the witnesses told VOA Amharic. 

Another eyewitness from the Alawuha area- which is only about 10 kilometers north of Woldia – who preferred to remain anonymous said that he heard intense fighting with heavy weaponry. But he said that the enemy is retreating to Gobiye. 

We are witnessing situations that civilians could not withstand, the witness added. 

The report is not verified by other sources. The Ethiopian government has been silent about the war. 

What is clear is that the TPLF, despite a false report by Aljazeera about one month ago of regional rebel forces in control of Woldia, is unable to make further advances to even control Gobiye. 

The fighting is underway on other fronts in Westm, from the Waghumra area and from Afar regions close to the Tigray area.  

On Wednesday, TPLF spokesperson Getachew Reda made claims, in a Twitter message, that Eritrean troops were attempting to engage what it calls Tigray’s defense Force from Berhale direction in the Afar region but it lost the battle. 

He even made claims that his forces annihilated five divisions of the army and that they had killed top Eritrean commanders – something with which Eritrean activists were laughing. Many Eritrean, and Ethiopian activists, were bluffing Getachew Reda’s claims. 

It was not too long ago when he was making complaints that the Eritrean forces were shelling Adigrat city with heavy artillery. 

As always, the Eritrean government did not even bother to respond to Getachew Reda’s claim. 

Much of the information about the state of the war comes from Getachew Reda when he tweets about it or when he has a presser with Tigray TV journalists. 

Mainstream media in the west seem to be abandoning the habit of glorifying TPLF “military victory” too. 

Not much is definitively known about the war but there are indications that the TPLF is slowly losing military and political ground. Some even predict its demise as a designated terrorist group. 

 In a holiday message for Meskel, the Prime Minister said that “the hand stretched for peace is not yielding results.”

Senegal Town Remembers 1,863 Victims of Ferry Disaster

Wound that never heals


Sep 27, 2022 08:23 PM

Family members pray at a grave on the anniversary of the capsizing of Le Joola at Kantene cemetery in Ziguinchor, Senegal, on September 26, 2022. Photo: AFP

Twenty years after Le Joola ferry sank, the Senegalese town where half of the nearly 1,900 dead lived paid tribute on Monday to those killed in the disaster described as a "wound that never heals."

When news spread that the vessel had capsized on the night of September 26, 2002, no one in the southern town could believe it.

"It was unthinkable," said Nouha Cisse, who was head teacher at a secondary school in Ziguinchor that lost 150 pupils to the tragedy.

A hundred relatives and officials took part on Monday morning in two religious commemorative ceremonies - Catholic and Muslim - next to around 50 graves in Kantene cemetery on the outskirts of Ziguinchor.

An official delegation laid wreaths, before women in long traditional dresses and their families visited the graves.

"It's very important for us to be here, to pay tribute to our mother and our nephew who we lost," said Ndeye Astou Diba, 38.

Le Joola was one of the worst civilian maritime disasters in history.

A total of 1,863 people drowned or were lost - surpassing the Titanic toll of more than 1,500 in 1912.

Le Joola sailed into a storm off the coast of The Gambia on the way from Ziguinchor to the capital Dakar.

Calls to raise wreck

At another larger ceremony with several hundred people close to the Casamance river from where Le Joola had departed, the head of victims' associations repeated a call for the wreck to be raised.

Le Joola, which sunk to a depth of 20 meters, is thought to hold many bodies.

The ferry had played a major role in Ziguinchor in the isolated Casamance enclave, providing a lifeline to Dakar and transporting agricultural produce as well as tourists.

The Casamance, almost separated from the rest of Senegal by the tiny state of The Gambia, had since 1982 been wracked by a separatist rebellion. September 2002 saw a surge in attacks.

On September 26, 2002, more than 1,928 people officially crowded on to the ferry, which had a capacity for 536 passengers. Victims' associations say more than 2,000 passengers from more than a dozen countries died, and only 65 survived.

'Unbearable' news

With crowds gathering at the port the morning after, the prime minister announced Le Joola had capsized.

"After that it was unbearable in Ziguinchor," recalled Ibrahima Gassama, a journalist who covered the disaster for Sud FM radio.

"No one could console anyone. The gendarmes cordoned off the area because some people were threatening to throw themselves into the sea.

"They had lost everything," Gassama said.

"It really was a catastrophe," said 65-year-old Khadidiatou Diop, who lost her mother. "In this house one person died, in that house another death, across the road one dead. It was like that all over Ziguinchor."

Questions remain

Two decades on, many questions remain unanswered.

The causes of the incident have never been fully established, despite a Senegalese government inquiry and a French probe launched because of the deaths of 18 French citizens. 

Engine failure, a navigational error, bad weather, poor maintenance and overcrowding - or a combination - were likely to blame.

Senegal closed the case in 2003 after concluding an investigation that blamed the captain, lost in the catastrophe.

French courts also dismissed a years-long probe, which found evidence against seven Senegalese officials, concluding that Paris did not have jurisdiction.

Senegalese and French victims' associations have called for a memorial to be erected. One was promised for five years ago but the site was still nowhere near ready in Ziguinchor on Monday.

Senegalese President Macky Sall later on Monday tweeted the country was in "solidarity" with the victims, adding, "We must ensure that such a tragedy never happens again."

Don’t Let Nord Stream Leaks Precipitate Russia-Ukraine Conflict: Global Times Editorial

By Global Times

Sep 29, 2022 12:21 AM

A picture released by the Danish Defence Command shows the gas leak at the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline seen from the Danish F-16 interceptor on Bornholm, Denmark on September 27, 2022. The two Nord Stream gas pipelines linking Russia and Europe have been hit by unexplained leaks, raising suspicions of sabotage. Photo: AFP

A total of three leaks have been detected on Russia's Nord Stream pipelines, which transport natural gas to Europe, on the same day, and were accompanied by "powerful underwater explosions," thus widely considered to be a "deliberate act.'' One obvious result is that Europe's hope of receiving Russian gas through the Nord Stream pipelines this winter has completely vanished into thin air. The already complicated and intertwined knot between Russia and the West has also been made more difficult by this "accident."

Analysts generally believe that this is a special manifestation of the destructive spillover effect of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Who did it? No one claimed responsibility. There have been various speculations on international social media, but all have no credible evidence, which, however, has further escalated tensions among all parties concerned and increased mutual strategic suspicion among major powers, causing more problems under the secondary disaster.

In any case, the attack on major transnational infrastructure for civilian use is very odious in nature. It has also created a dangerous precedent since the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Such a trend cannot be indulged. Both the European Union and Russia have demanded that relevant agencies conduct a comprehensive investigation and publicize the findings. Since the incident occurred within the exclusive economic zones of Denmark and Sweden, at the moment, Germany, Denmark and Sweden are investigating on the cause of the accident. However, as this incident involves many countries, it is necessary to ask relevant international bodies to set up a joint investigation team so as to restore the truth, find out the perpetrators and make them punished accordingly as soon as possible. The incident should be prevented from becoming a Rashomon-style one. 

Although the truth is unknown for now, one thing is certain: No matter which side pressed the button to damage the Nord Stream pipelines, it has dealt a heavy blow to Russia-Europe energy cooperation. The EU made great efforts to stabilize energy prices previously, but the Nord Stream leaks are likely to offset these all. High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell issued a statement on Wednesday saying that "any deliberate disruption of European energy infrastructure is utterly unacceptable." As the "coldest winter'' has followed the "summer of discontent,'' a larger wave of corporate bankruptcies and economic recession have come to the door of Europe.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines would be "in no-one's interest." But why have incidents that are "in no-one's interest" happened again and again? This deserves serious consideration by the international community.

The ill-fated destiny of Nord Stream 2 pipeline itself explains quite a few issues. The major, mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation program between Russia and the EU, has met firm opposition from the US since day one. From repeated verbal threats to many rounds of sanctions, the US has shown its firm stance - it won't stop until it messes up the Nord Stream 2. 

After the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Nord Stream 2, a cooperation project that is actually beneficial to European people's livelihood, was on the verge of bankruptcy under the multiple pressure of hegemonism, geopolitical calculations, and security dilemmas. This deliberate sabotage has snuffed out the possibility of its revival. 

It is not difficult to feel that there is an invisible scissors cutting the ties of interests between Russia and Europe. Those who control the scissors are playing politics. When the ties of interests are cut off, Russia and Europe will be left with a tragic confrontation, and the lives of a large number of ordinary people will turn out to be the biggest victim.

The Nord Stream incident again shows that the impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict is not limited to the military battlefield, but has spilt over to energy, economy, food, and even public opinion warfare. The Bucha incident in April this year cast a heavy shadow on the truce negotiation, which was at a critical moment. Now, the pipeline accident has once again compressed the room for parties involved in the conflict to reach a political settlement. 

More worryingly, no one knows whether the planning of the next Bucha incident or Nord Stream incident is already underway. This uncertainty will be the sword of Damocles hanging over Europe and even the entire world. 

For the moment, what all parties should do is to weave a safety net as possible as they can to make the conflict reach a soft landing as soon as possible. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said on Wednesday that Russia is ready to consider requests from EU countries for a joint investigation into recent incidents on the Nord Stream offshore gas pipelines, if there are requests from European countries. 

If Russia and European countries can cooperate in accident investigation, even if such cooperation is extremely limited, it will be a green olive branch in the black storm, which will help ease the confrontation and avoid the spiral of contradictions.

It also needs to be pointed out that, from the Bucha incident to the North Stream incident, war and chaos are the main culprit behind all these tragedies. It is hoped that the sound of the explosion on the North Stream pipelines can awaken more people to join in the pursuit of peace, so as to turn the North Stream incident into an opportunity to stop the war and promote peace, rather than a fuse that worsens the situation.

Truss Faces Calls to Sack Kwarteng as the Damage of His Neoliberal Zealotry Spreads

NEW prime ministers normally enjoy a bounce in the opinion polls. Not Liz Truss.

Rather, her ascent has only led to a polling descent, like a bungee jump with no rebound.

So bad is it that, less than a month into her premiership, speculation about an early end to her tenancy in Downing Street has already started. At very least, Tory MPs are telling her to sack manic Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng as the price of saving her leadership.

It may seem incredible that the dysfunctional Conservative Party should be contemplating another leadership election so soon after the torment of the last one.

But it is no less incredible than the economic strategy Truss and Kwarteng are attempting to force on the country.

For a Budget, mini or otherwise, to — within a few days — paralyse the housing market, bring the pensions industry to the point of collapse and take the pound to a historic low, is a mark not just of the ineptitude of the Tory right but of the crippling weaknesses of British capitalism.

So much for Singapore-on-the-Thames, the low-wage, low-tax, deregulated neoliberal nirvana which a faction of Conservatives saw as the realisation of the promise of Brexit, although it only animated a small minority of those who voted to leave the European Union.

Truss’s central mistake, at least as far as her critics in the Bank of England and the City are concerned, is that she forgets that Britain is not the US.

The latter can run huge deficits without short-term damage because of the strength of the dollar as a global reserve currency. The de-dollarisation of the world economy will surely occur, but that time is not now.

British capitalism, on the other hand, is evidently broken and international speculators are going to run a mile from a currency at the mercy of incompetent ideologues.

Much as speculators may like tax cuts, they dislike ballooning deficits still more. Truss is the victim of her unwillingness to make the rich or corporations pay for resolving the crisis.

Had she met at least part of the bill for curbing fuel prices with a windfall tax on energy companies, it would have reassured the bankers. But business profits came first.

Stopping sterling’s death spiral risks aggravating other problems. The Bank of England’s emergency bond-buying programme to stop mass pensions insolvency could stoke inflation, leading in turn to wage-cutting and inevitable resistance from organised workers, which the Tories propose to meet with renewed anti-union repression.

And Kwarteng will now move to balance the books through spending cuts, armaments aside, which will plunge much of austerity-ravaged Britain deeper into social immiseration.

Underlying this is 12 years of stagnation and slumping productivity. Investment in infrastructure, public services and skills are the immediate answer to that, not tax cuts and the wild political zigzagging which has become a Tory speciality.

With the bond market on one side and militant trade unionism on the other, Truss and Kwarteng are on a “charge of the lightweight brigade.”

Experience shows that the loss of a reputation for economic competence tends to be politically terminal.

Keir Starmer is the undeserved beneficiary of this. He has the Tory Party membership to thank for Labour’s 17 per cent poll lead. It was their decision to hand government over to the candidate Labour wanted, a sub-Thatcherite fanatic, rather than any initiative on his part that has provided the boost.

He is opposed to the sort of radicalism that could address the crisis in working people’s interests. So, he may be the next leader to find out that British capitalism doesn’t do bounces any more.

UK PM Truss Defends ‘Controversial’ Tax Cuts Despite Market Turmoil


Sep 30, 2022 12:11 AM

UK Prime Minister Liz Truss on ­Thursday defended her tax cuts policy, despite it triggering market turmoil and forcing a Bank of England intervention to prevent "material risk" to the economy.

"We had to take urgent action to get our economy growing, get Britain moving, and also deal with inflation," she told local station BBC Radio Leeds in her first comments since Friday's mini-budget.

"And of course, that means taking controversial and difficult decisions, but I'm prepared to do that as prime minister." 

"It's important the United Kingdom's on the front foot, that we are pulling all the levers we can to drive economic growth. That is what we are pushing ahead with," she later told BBC Radio Lancashire.

Despite being in power for less than a month, Truss is already under severe pressure after the markets reacted to her government's tax cuts by sending the pound to an all-time low against the ­dollar.

UK markets remain highly volatile, with the Bank of England intervening on Wednesday to buy government bonds in order to prevent a "material risk" to stability.

After sterling hit its dollar low on ­early Monday, the bank said it would "not hesitate to change interest rates by as much as needed" to curb high inflation.

But it also signaled that it would wait until its next policy meeting on November 3 before fully assessing the impact of the government's contentious plans.

Opposition leaders have demanded that Truss cancel her party's conference that starts on Sunday and recall parliament over the crisis.

50 Years on, China and Japan Aspire to Overcome Rifts, Bring Relations Forward

By Yang Sheng

Sep 29, 2022 09:41 PM

From left to right, Chinese Ambassador to Japan Kong Xuanyou, Keidanren Chairman Masakazu Tokura, former prime minister Yasuo Fukuda, former speaker of the lower house Yohei Kono, former secretary-general of the Leberal Democratic Party Toshihiro Nikai and Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi make a toast at the reception commemorating the 50th anniversary of the normalization of Japan-China diplomatic relations in Tokyo on September 29, 2022.

Chinese leaders on Thursday exchanged congratulatory messages with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida over the 50th anniversary of the normalization of China-Japan diplomatic relations, with analysts saying China and Japan show great sincerity to each other to keep developing the ties in a world with increasing uncertainties, despite the two sides have differences on many issues.

The China-Japan relations are not only significant for the two countries, but also important for the whole Asia, said experts. Based on the experiences in the past 50 years, it's clear that the cooperation will benefit both sides, while confrontation will only serve the interest of external forces that are more than happy to bring chaos to the region and to contain the two major Asian economies' development. 

Therefore, both sides, especially the Japanese side, need "political courage and strategic thinking," to withstand the impact from the external forces, especially the US, and make more pragmatic and independent decisions to fix and develop ties with China, which could mutually benefit both sides and add more certainty to this uncertain world, said experts.     

Exchange messages

In his message to Kishida, Chinese President Xi Jinping pointed out that 50 years ago, the then Chinese and Japanese leaders grasped the situation with foresight and made a major political decision to normalize China-Japan diplomatic relations, which opened a new chapter in bilateral relations, the Xinhua News Agency reported. 

Xi stressed that he attaches great importance to the development of China-Japan relations, and stands ready to work with Kishida to lead both sides to jointly build a China-Japan relationship that meets the demands of the new era by taking the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic ties as an opportunity and following the trend of the times.

In his message, Kishida said 50 years ago, the then Chinese and Japanese leaders, with strategic thinking and political courage, opened a new historic course in Japan-China relations.

During the past 50 years, Japan-China cooperation in a wide range of fields such as economy, culture and personnel exchanges, has made remarkable progress, Kishida said, adding that it is of great significance for the two sides to jointly create a new future for Japan-China relations.

Da Zhigang, director of the Institute of Northeast Asian Studies at the Heilongjiang Provincial Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Thursday that "Although China and Japan still have many divergences on issues including the sovereignty dispute in the East China Sea, the Taiwan Straits situation, the historical problem, and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the leaders of the both sides still use the chance to exchange congratulatory messages, and this just proves that the two countries have a strong desire to improve and develop the relations."

The Japanese side stands ready to join hands with the Chinese side to focus on promoting the development of constructive and stable Japan-China relations as well as peace and prosperity of the two countries, the region and the world in the next 50 years, Kishida said.

On the same day, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Kishida also exchanged congratulations. Li said China and Japan are geographically close to each other and culturally connected, and are both important countries in the region and the international community. Li expected the two sides to push for a healthy and stable development of China-Japan relations with the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic ties as a new starting point. Da said China and Japan are the second and third largest economies of the world, and the two major powers with great potentials in Asia, so the bilateral ties do not just concern the development of the two countries, but will also have great influence on the future of Asia and even the world.

The obstacles for the two sides to develop ties include some long-standing problems like the historical issue and sovereignty dispute, and also some new ones like the pandemic and the intensifying China-US tension, "so we hope Kishida can remember what he said to the Chinese leader, to inherit the 'strategic thinking and political courage' of his predecessors since 1972, to also open a new era for the bilateral ties together with the Chinese side," said a Beijing-based expert on international relations who asked for anonymity.

Desire for improved ties  

Some Western media said the "low key celebration" shows "rift" between two Asian major powers, but in fact many events have been held by the two countries in recent days to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic ties among the business circle, diplomats, scholars and the media. 

Chinese analysts said without the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, there would have been more exchanges between the two countries, because the bilateral ties are still highly complementary and mutually needed, and the latest exchange of congratulatory messages between the leaders of the two countries signaled that the two sides have strong desire and will to push for better bilateral relations. 

The congratulatory messages from both Chinese and Japanese leaders were read out at an event hosted in the afternoon of Thursday by the Japan Business Federation, the country's most powerful business lobby better known as Keidanren, the Kyodo News reported. Chinese Ambassador to Japan Kong Xuanyou also attended the event in Tokyo.

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, who attended the Keidanren event in Tokyo, said in a speech that Japan and China are two major powers that have a responsibility for peace and prosperity in the region. 

"Eyes on next 50 years, we should keep candid dialogue and march forward to the goal, which set by the leaders of the two countries, of building constructive and stable Japan-China relations with our own efforts," said the Japanese foreign minister. 

Former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, who also attended the event, said that in the future 50 or even 100 years, there is no other way for the two countries but to safeguard and develop the Japan-China relations with friendship and cooperation with all efforts. 

Masakazu Tokura, chairman of Keidanren, said at the beginning of the event, "For Japan, the relationship with China is one of the most important bilateral relationships."

"The flow of people between Japan and China has stalled against a backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic and international affairs have been getting more complex and opaque," he said.

Chen Yang, an expert from the Institute of Japan Studies at Liaoning University, told the Global Times that the celebrations in both countries are mainly conducted by civil groups, including the circles of academics, media and business. In the history of China-Japan relations, the civil groups normally play significant roles to connect the two countries, especially during the time of China-Japan tensions, because they are much more flexible.

"When the exchanges dominated by non-governmental sectors are more than the official ones, it proves that the intergovernmental ties are not very optimistic at the moment, but even under such circumstance, the top leaders of the both sides still exchange their good wishes and this brings confidence to the two sides on managing differences and improving cooperation," Chen noted. 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Japanese former prime minister Shinzo Abe once had a plan to invite the Chinese top leader to visit Japan in 2020 and to open a new page for the bilateral ties, so if one day in the future, obstacles like the pandemic have been removed, the warming people-to-people exchanges will come back again, said some analysts. 

"But in order to jointly build a China-Japan relationship that meets the demands of the new era, there are some more efforts that both sides need to pay. At least, both sides don't need to see each other as a threat. Tokyo needs to ensure that it won't be used by the US to contain China, and stay away from the sensitive Taiwan question, which is China's internal affair and a core interest of China," said Da.

Chen noted that Japan as a sovereign country has the right to develop ties with the US, but the Japan-US ties should not target any third party. "At present, Japan is taking the US side. From China's perspective, it needs to increase mutual trust and cooperation with Japan on the one hand, but on the other hand, it also needs to respond to the provocations launched by the US and Japan against China's core interests in the region."

The China-Japan relations have experienced tensions many times in the past 50 years, but as long as the cooperation is healthy, both sides will enjoy concrete economic benefits, and today, the world is full of uncertainties and turbulences, there is nothing more important than the certainty that could bring joint development and keep the region away from chaos and conflict, and hopefully, the Japanese leaders can understand this, said Chinese experts.  

China Expands Global Partnerships Under True Multilateralism Over Decade

Distinctive style of diplomacy developed by drawing on fine traditions while adapting to changing times

By GT staff reporters

Sep 29, 2022 02:15 PM

China's diplomacy work in the past decade. Editor: Yang Ruoyu/GT Graphic: Xu Zihe/GT

Over the decade, China has blazed a new path of major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics, expanded global partnerships by pursuing a broad-based diplomatic agenda, upheld national sovereignty, security and development with China's core interests as a red line, developed a distinctive Chinese style of diplomacy by both drawing on fine traditions and adapting to changing times.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu stressed China's position on the diplomatic front at Thursday's press conference themed around what Chinese diplomacy has achieved in the past decade.

Ma said we fight against the rhetoric and actions that undermine China's national interests and dignity, we safeguard our own legitimate rights and interests and dignity, oppose hegemonic, domineering and bullying acts, and stand firm for international fairness and justice.

We firmly safeguard national interests and national dignity, have a clear-cut position on critical issues, and won't yield one inch, Ma stressed.

Ma stressed that China has also advanced its diplomatic agenda in a comprehensive, multilevel and multifaceted way. To date, China has established diplomatic relations with 181 countries and entered into partnerships with more than 110 countries and regional organizations, thus making more and more friends and forming a network of partnerships covering the entire world, said the vice foreign minister.

With unprecedented breadth, depth and intensity, China has taken part in the system of global governance, contributed China's wisdom and offered China's proposals and embraced China's responsibilities, winning acclaim from the international community, Ma noted.

Over the past decade, China has evolved from a participant, beneficiary and contributor to a leader in global governance. China believes the world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century, a perception that China never had a decade ago, Wang Yiwei, director of the Institute of International Affairs at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Given these growing uncertainties, China found challenges and opportunities equally unprecedented in a century. Holding the belief of being an important force in driving global economic growth and maintaining world peace, China has taken the initiative to provide more public products and set up models for multilateralism over recent years with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) being a classic example, The Global Development Initiative, Global Security Initiative, setting up Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and calling for BRICS plus and SCO expansion, Wang said. 

China has promoted BRI and signed more than 200 such cooperation documents with 149 countries and 32 international organizations. Cooperation under the BRI has brought expressways to East Africa and a cross-sea bridge to the Maldives, turned Laos from a land-locked to a land-linked country, and made the China-Europe Railway Express an important lifeline in keeping global logistics stable and smooth, the Global Times learnt from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Over the last decade the BRICS grouping of major emerging economies - China, Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa - has become one of the most fundamental forces in the international geo-economic landscape. Since its first formal summit in 2009, through continued diplomatic activity, economic cooperation and strategic dialogue, the group has consolidated shared views on the role of emerging economies in the global system, especially regarding the reform of global governance and multilateral institutions.

As power politics and unilateral hegemony severely undermine multilateralism, various forms of "pseudo-multilateralism" become increasingly confusing, and China is labeled as a "systemic rival" of the US, China still insists on non-alliance, non-confrontation and not targeting any third party, and adheres to true multilateralism and stresses its role as the biggest developing country, Wang said. 

The international order should only be based on the widely recognized international law, not on the so-called rules set by a few countries, let alone impose family rules of themselves on others, Ma noted. "Our efforts to push forward the reform of the global governance system are not to reinvent the wheel, rather, they are to make the system fairer and more reasonable," Ma stressed.

Ma said that since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), with greater resolve, more concrete actions and stronger measures, we have built a firm line of defense for national interests and dignity, and maintained the initiative of safeguarding national development and security firmly in our own hands.

Through actions, we tell the world that the era of the Chinese nation being undermined by others is long gone, and no force can stop China's development and progress, Ma said. We will never sit idly by and watch the national interest suffer, and no one should expect China to swallow the bitter fruit of harming its own interests, the vice foreign minister noted.

He continued that over the years, China has categorically defended the one-China principle, established or restored diplomatic ties with nine countries, and resolutely responded to provocations on the Taiwan question, thus consolidating the consensus of the one-China principle across the international community.

On Hong Kong affairs, China forcefully curbed external interferences and sustained the good momentum of Hong Kong's shift from turbulence to law and order. On issues related to Xinjiang, China has debunked disinformation with facts and defeated the political scheme to use Xinjiang region to contain China, and we have also steadily pushed forward consultations on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea and safeguarded the overall stability in the region, Ma noted.

China has stood up against politicalizing and stigmatizing COVID-19, and was joined by over 80 countries who wrote letters or issued statements against the politicization of tracing the origins of the virus. China has thwarted anti-China moves in the name of human rights at the Human Rights Council and the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly seven times in a row. Nearly 100 countries expressed support for China's just stance and opposed using human rights as a pretext for foreign interference. Through unremitting efforts, Meng Wanzhou returned home safely after over 1,000 days in illegal detention, Ma said. 

Britain’s Gamble on Tax Cuts Has Economists Warning of Past Mistakes

Liz Truss, Britain’s new prime minister, defended her plan in the face of stiff criticism from the International Monetary Fund and others.

Liz Truss, Britain’s new prime minister, has staked her fledgling government on a once-in-a-generation package of tax cuts and deregulation meant to energize the economy.

By Jim Tankersley

Sept. 29, 2022 6:22 p.m. ET

A stunning rebuke from the International Monetary Fund this week underscored one of the biggest risks of the new British government’s plan to slash taxes on high earners: It could exacerbate rapid inflation and destabilize markets at a precarious economic moment.

The alarm from economists, central bankers, investors and top U.S. officials centered on the likelihood that the tax cuts could stoke consumer demand by giving people more money to spend, pushing crushingly high prices even higher. That would put the British government in direct conflict with aggressive efforts of the central banks around the globe — and in the United Kingdom — that are raising interest rates in a bid to bring inflation under control.

Many economists say British officials are also ignoring the lessons of the most recent bout of tax cuts — those engineered in the United States by former President Donald J. Trump. Empirical research on the early results of those cuts suggests that they mostly helped the economy by temporarily increasing consumer demand, an outcome that could prove particularly damaging in the high-inflation environment that Britain and much of the world are experiencing.

Liz Truss, Britain’s new prime minister, has staked her fledgling government on a generationally large package of tax cuts and deregulation meant to energize the economy. It includes a cut in rates for the country’s lowest income tax bracket — and, in what was a surprise move, a five-percentage-point cut in the country’s top income tax rate, which applies to those earning more than 150,000 pounds, or about $164,000, a year.

In a series of interviews with BBC stations on Thursday, Ms. Truss defended her plan, insisting that it was the right course of action despite the severe blowback.

“We had to take urgent action to get our economy growing, get Britain moving and also deal with inflation,” Ms. Truss said during the conversations. “We won’t see the growth come through overnight, but what’s important is that we’re putting this country on a better trajectory in the long term.”

Investors, who have recoiled from the plan, continued to express deep concern on Thursday. In the United States, the S&P 500 fell 2.1 percent, its sharpest daily drop in over two weeks, as fears of a global recession grew. Shares in Europe, government bonds and oil prices were all down. While the pound regained some of the value it lost over the last week, bond yields rose further.

The International Monetary Fund responded to Britain’s proposals with the sort of pointed criticism it typically reserves for an emerging-market economy, not for the economy of one of the wealthiest nations in the world.

“Given elevated inflation pressures in many countries, including the U.K., we do not recommend large and untargeted fiscal packages at this juncture, as it is important that fiscal policy does not work at cross purposes to monetary policy,” the I.M.F. said in a news release on Tuesday.

The statement noted that the tax cuts would most likely increase economic inequality, and it urged the British government to “provide support that is more targeted and re-evaluate the tax measures, especially those that benefit high income earners.”

Rising Inflation in Britain

Inflation Slows Slightly: Consumer prices are still rising at about the fastest pace in 40 years, despite a small drop to 9.9 percent in August.

Interest Rates: On Sept. 22, the Bank of England raised its key rate by another half a percentage point, to 2.25 percent, as it tries to keep high inflation from becoming embedded in the nation’s economy.

Energy Bills to Soar: Gas and electric charges for most British households are set to rise 80 percent this fall, further squeezing consumers and stoking inflation.

Investor Worries: The financial markets have been grumbling with unease about Britain’s economic outlook. The government plan to freeze energy bills and cut taxes is not easing concerns.

Ms. Truss is not the first conservative politician in recent years to come into office promising to slash taxes. Mr. Trump also campaigned on — and ultimately delivered — “massive tax cuts” in 2017, a package that only Republican lawmakers backed. Decades ago, President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of Britain both pursued tax-cutting agendas that cemented their legacies in office.

Ms. Truss has been cheered on by conservative champions of supply-side economics in the United States, including many of the chief backers of Mr. Trump’s tax cuts. Stephen Moore, who served as an outside economic adviser to the former president, praised Ms. Truss for her willingness “to challenge the reigning orthodoxy by sharply cutting taxes to boost growth,” calling the package “a gutsy and sound policy decision.”

“By far the most important change is the reduction in the top income tax rate from 45 percent to 40 percent,” Mr. Moore wrote. “This will bring jobs, capital and businesses back to the U.K.”

A host of critics, though, have lined up to denounce the tax package, warning it will provoke economic war with the Bank of England and risk a damaging combination of economic contraction and soaring prices, which could in turn hurt the global recovery.

The impact of previous tax cuts, including those signed into law by Mr. Trump in 2017, provides fodder for those critiques.

Much as Ms. Truss has proposed to do, Mr. Trump reduced tax rates for income earners across the spectrum, including those in the highest bracket. He also cut a variety of business tax rates — a contrast with the British plan, which cancels a planned increase in corporate taxes. Mr. Trump said his full package of cuts would jump-start economic activity by encouraging businesses to invest, hire and raise wages.

Yet initial evidence, which includes studies from I.M.F. economists, suggests Mr. Trump’s cuts did not deliver the steep gains in investment and productivity that conservatives had promised. If such gains came to pass in Britain, they could help counter inflation there.

Instead, the cuts increased consumer spending, an outcome that helped temporarily expand growth in the United States, the I.M.F. found, but which could be dangerous in a high-inflation environment.

“The record through 2019 from the Trump tax cuts is not encouraging for the U.K.,” said William G. Gale, a co-director of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center in Washington.

Last year, Mr. Gale and a colleague, Claire Haldeman, published a study on the effects of Mr. Trump’s tax cuts up until the start of the pandemic recession. They looked for supply-side effects — whether the cuts increased investment incentives and other means of stimulating sustained economic growth — and found little evidence of such results.

Instead, they found that the cuts did little to promote job growth or investment outside the oil and gas sector, which is highly correlated with the global price of fossil fuels. And they found that the cuts significantly reduced federal tax revenues, contrary to Republicans’ promises that the cuts would pay for themselves by inciting additional economic growth.

Broader research suggests that Ms. Truss’s cuts for top earners are unlikely to drive significant gains in economic growth. In a recent study of decades of tax changes, Owen Zidar, an economist at Princeton, found that cuts for the top 10 percent of earners did little to prompt job gains.

The hope that cuts in Britain’s top rate will supercharge the economy, Mr. Zidar said in an interview, “is completely at odds with the empirical record of the United States since 1950.”

Mr. Gale, Mr. Zidar and other economists joined the I.M.F. in noting a particular challenge for the British tax cuts: the likelihood that they will be offset by interest rate increases from the Bank of England, as it seeks to bring down price growth.

Other rounds of tax cuts, like those under Mr. Reagan, helped to increase growth by working in tandem with interest rate cuts taken by the Federal Reserve, according to economists who specialize in tax policy. In Britain’s case, the opposite appears to be true: The Bank of England has already been raising rates, and it appears ready to push them even higher to offset the effects of Ms. Truss’s policies. Those rate increases would negate a major goal of the tax cuts — to make it cheaper for companies to invest — by raising the costs of borrowing across the economy.

Economists say faster rate increases also heighten the risk of recession in Britain.

Supporters of the British tax cuts are already accusing the central bank of crippling them — much as Mr. Trump accused the Fed of undermining his tax cuts when it raised interest rates repeatedly after they were enacted.

“It hasn’t helped that the Bank of England has launched a public campaign to sabotage the Truss agenda,” Mr. Moore wrote this week, echoing comments he made about the Fed in 2019.

The actions of the British government could reverberate far beyond that country’s borders given the flows of international trade and the potential for a far-flung financial crisis. In recent days, President Biden has grown more concerned with the situation in Britain. On Wednesday, he met with members of his economic team to discuss developments in global financial markets, instructing them to brief him regularly on the situation.

“We’re watching this very closely,” Jared Bernstein, a member of the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers, said on Wednesday at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “The president’s being kept up on all the developments.”

When asked about the cuts this week, the White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, said the administration would leave British policy to Ms. Truss’s government. But other administration officials have criticized the plan.

Speaking at an event at the Brookings Institution on Wednesday, Gina Raimondo, the secretary of commerce, said Britain’s combination of cutting taxes and increasing spending would neither help the country fight inflation in the short term nor send it in the direction of long-term growth.

“Investors, businesspeople want to see world leaders taking inflation very seriously, and it’s hard to see that out of this new government,” she said, adding, “We’re pursuing a different strategy.”

Ana Swanson contributed reporting.

Jim Tankersley is a White House correspondent with a focus on economic policy. He has written for more than a decade in Washington about the decline of opportunity for American workers, and is the author of "The Riches of This Land: The Untold, True Story of America's Middle Class." @jimtankersley

To Calm Markets, Bank of England Will Buy Bonds on ‘Whatever Scale Is Necessary’

The purchases are designed “to restore orderly market conditions,” the central bank said, after days of turmoil that followed the government’s plan for sweeping tax cuts and higher borrowing.

The Bank of England is taking steps to intervene in the financial markets after the announcement of an economic growth plan spooked investors.

By Eshe Nelson Reporting from London.

Sept. 28, 2022

The Bank of England intervened forcefully on Wednesday to relieve days of market turmoil after the new government’s fiscal plans sent borrowing costs soaring and the British pound sinking to record lows.

In an extraordinary intervention, the bank said it would undertake large-scale purchases of British government bonds in the coming weeks. In addition to bringing down interest rates, the move helped buoy the pound, whose weakening has added to the nation’s inflation worries.

“The purpose of these purchases will be to restore orderly market conditions,” the central bank, which is independent of the government, said in a statement. “The purchases will be carried out on whatever scale is necessary to effect this outcome.”

After the announcement, stocks on Wall Street registered their first gain in more than a week. British stocks closed up slightly.

Bond and currency trading has been roiled since the new Conservative government of Prime Minister Liz Truss announced last week that it would seek to bolster economic growth by cutting taxes, especially for high earners, while spending heavily to protect households from rising energy costs.

The program has drawn criticism from political rivals and many economists, partly because of the extensive borrowing it will require at a time of rising interest rates and high inflation.

The International Monetary Fund, which works to foster global financial stability and monetary cooperation, signaled its alarm on Tuesday when it urged the government to reconsider its plans. It characterized the program as “large and untargeted” and said it was likely to worsen inequality.

Rising Inflation in Britain

Inflation Slows Slightly: Consumer prices are still rising at about the fastest pace in 40 years, despite a small drop to 9.9 percent in August.

Interest Rates: On Sept. 22, the Bank of England raised its key rate by another half a percentage point, to 2.25 percent, as it tries to keep high inflation from becoming embedded in the nation’s economy.

Energy Bills to Soar: Gas and electric charges for most British households are set to rise 80 percent this fall, further squeezing consumers and stoking inflation.

Investor Worries: The financial markets have been grumbling with unease about Britain’s economic outlook. The government plan to freeze energy bills and cut taxes is not easing concerns.

But Treasury officials have given no indication that the government will reverse course, deflecting responsibility for the disruption in markets onto Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The Ukraine war and inflation have created challenges for governments and central bankers around the world this year, but the pound has performed particularly badly. Its recent declines make it one of the worst performers against the dollar.

Since the start of the year, the pound has declined about 20 percent against the dollar and about 6 percent against the euro.

Compounding the situation, the government’s sweeping fiscal plan — presented without an independent fiscal and economic assessment — sent investors fleeing from British assets. Traders inferred that the central bank would be forced to raise interest rates quickly, which pushed up short- and long-term borrowing costs, because the economic plans seemed likely to stoke economic demand and add to inflationary pressures.

The sell-off in British assets since Friday, when the government’s plan was announced, has particularly affected bonds with long maturities, the Bank of England said.

“Were dysfunction in this market to continue or worsen, there would be a material risk to U.K. financial stability,” it said in a statement. This would lead to a reduction of the flow of credit to businesses and households, it added.

It said bond auctions would take place from Wednesday until Oct. 14. The intervention has also forced the central bank to pivot off its intended course of selling bonds next week, after it bought them to support the economy through the pandemic.

The yield on 10-year British government bonds on Wednesday climbed as high as 4.59 percent — the highest since 2008 — before the central bank’s statement. This week, 30-year yields exceeded 5 percent for the first time since 2002.

After the announcement, bond yields dropped sharply, with the 30-year yield falling by more than a percentage point to just below 4 percent.

“We’ve seen a dramatic reversal, but this is hardly a well-functioning market,” said Richard McGuire, a strategist at Rabobank. “There’s very thin liquidity,” making trading difficult, he added.

Mr. McGuire, who has been a fixed-income strategist for nearly two decades, said he had not seen anything resembling the recent moves in British debt outside of “something phenomenal” like the eurozone debt crisis a decade ago.

The central bank’s statement on Wednesday had echoes of a promise in 2012 by Mario Draghi, then head of the European Central Bank, to do “whatever it takes” to save the euro, which had come under severe pressure in the markets.

The intervention in Britain came after a central bank committee had warned of the risks to Britain’s financial stability from disruption in the government bond market. There had been concern about how the sharp rise in bond yields would affect pension funds, which tend to be large holders of long-dated government bonds.

At issue was a strategy used by liability-driven investment funds, which manage some pensions and have £1.5 trillion in assets. As bond prices plummeted, the investment funds needed to provide more collateral and were forced to sell bonds to raise cash, cementing losses. With so many funds trying to sell bonds into an illiquid market, there was the risk of a downward spiral in prices of government bonds — leaving funds that used this investment strategy potentially insolvent.

The bank said it would buy bonds with maturities of 20 years or more and be willing to buy up to £5 billion per auction. On Wednesday, it bought just over £1 billion worth of bonds.

“The Bank of England stands ready to restore market functioning and reduce any risks from contagion to credit conditions for U.K. households and businesses,” the bank’s statement said.

The speed of the rise in bond yields had also disrupted Britain’s mortgage market, with some lenders pulling offers on new mortgages because they had become too difficult to price.

“A decision by the government to scrap some of the tax cuts, or to cut spending sharply, would help to alleviate the stress in” currency and bond markets, Samuel Tombs, an economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, wrote in a research note. “But its actions to date have eroded confidence among global investors, which cannot be easily restored. Accordingly, a painful recession driven by surging borrowing costs lies ahead.”

The market turmoil and the central bank’s intervention reveal the extent to which the government’s plans are at odds with the bank’s monetary policy goals. The government is trying to quickly generate economic demand, while the bank is trying to cool it to lower inflation. Consumer prices rose nearly 10 percent in August from a year earlier, putting the inflation rate at levels unseen since 1982.

On Tuesday, Huw Pill, the chief economist of the Bank of England, said the government’s fiscal plans would be met with a “significant” response by officials at the Bank of England, who are scheduled to meet again in early November. Markets are betting that interest rates will rise above 5 percent early next year, from 2.25 percent.

Just last Thursday, the central bank said it would initiate its plan to sell bonds back to the market — a process called quantitative tightening — as it tried to end the long era of easy money in its fight against inflation. It had insisted there would be a “high bar” for the bank to deviate from the plan, which would over the next year reduce its holdings of bonds by £80 billion through sales and redemptions, to £758 billion. On Wednesday, the bank said it was postponing the start of sales until the end of October.

Even as the bank tried to differentiate between Wednesday’s effort to ensure financial stability and the bank’s monetary policy stance, the intervention risks worsening the confusion in markets about the central bank’s goals, Mr. McGuire said.

Among the questions, he said, are: “Are we trying to contain inflation? Are we pushing back against a fiscally expansive government? Are we undertaking quantitative tightening?” Or, alternatively: “Are we doing the opposite? Are we adding to the inflationary pressure? Are we simply going to keep buying more bonds?”

The lack of clarity, he said, “doesn’t seem to be a positive in terms of the outlook for U.K. assets.”

Eshe Nelson is a reporter in London, where she writes about companies, the British economy and finance. @eshelouise

Truss Faces Growing Tory Pressure as Labour Opens 33-point Poll Lead

UK prime minister vows to stick to tax-cutting plans despite gilt sell-off resuming

Liz Truss did a round of stilted radio and television interviews on Thursday marked by prolonged silences and a struggle to give answers © AFP via Getty Images

Liz Truss is under mounting pressure to change course on her tax and borrowing plans after a new opinion poll gave Labour a historic lead over the Conservatives.

The prime minister was rocked by a YouGov poll which found that Labour had a 33-point lead over the Tories, the biggest gap since the 1990s.

The survey for The Times was published after Truss vowed to stick by the government’s “mini” Budget of last Friday, including £45bn of debt funded tax cuts, which sparked turmoil in financial markets.

The survey also followed Wednesday’s intervention by the Bank of England, when it launched a £65bn emergency bond-buying programme to stem a crisis in the pensions system caused by sharply rising gilt yields.

Banks have pulled mortgage products following Kwasi Kwarteng’s “mini” Budget last week while the IMF strongly criticised it. Some Tory MPs believe Truss will fire Kwarteng, but her allies dismissed that as “absolute nonsense”.

In an attempt to reassure markets that she is serious about controlling debt, Truss and Kwarteng will on Friday hold talks with Richard Hughes, chair of the Office for Budget Responsibility, which provides forecasts based on government plans.

Kwarteng says he will publish OBR forecasts alongside a new medium-term fiscal plan on November 23. Mel Stride, Tory chair of the Commons treasury committee, said the crucial assessment should be published before the end of October.

Sterling fell sharply on Monday but rallied on Thursday, climbing 1.7 per cent against the dollar to $1.107.

The YouGov poll found that almost three times as many voters said Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer would make a better prime minister than Truss, who only entered Downing Street this month.

In her first public comments since the chancellor’s statement, Truss on Thursday did a round of stilted radio and television interviews in which she defended the mini Budget.

“We are cutting taxes across the board because we were facing the highest tax burden on Britain in 70 years, and that was causing a lack of economic growth,” Truss told BBC Radio Tees.

The prime minister said a cut in corporation tax and abolition of the 45p upper rate of income tax would generate economic growth. She also said her energy package would cut inflation and blamed the turmoil on global factors caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

But her interviews prompted strong criticism from Conservative MPs. George Freeman, a former Tory science minister who backed former chancellor Rishi Sunak to be party leader, said there was a “serious crisis” and urged a change of tack on Kwarteng’s fiscal statement.

“The economic package of borrowing and tax cuts announced last week clearly can’t command market or voter confidence,” he added.

Julian Smith, a former Tory chief whip and another Sunak supporter, also said Truss must change course.

Other Tory MPs, including some Truss supporters, expressed dismay at her broadcast interviews, which were marked by prolonged silences from the prime minister as she struggled to give answers.

Some ministers are uneasy about the government’s willingness to cut public spending to try to restore fiscal credibility. “That will go down like a lead balloon with the public,” said one.

Kwarteng sent a message to Tory MPs to rally behind Truss. “We need your support,” he told them. Insisting that the “mini” Budget measures were “sound”, he said: “The only people who will win if we divide is the Labour party.”

In gilt trading that began just as Truss’s round of interviews was broadcast, selling pressure nudged up borrowing costs, with the yield on the 30-year bond rising 0.03 percentage points to 3.96 per cent, after having posted its steepest drop on record on Wednesday.

Selling pressure was more acute for shorter-dated UK bonds, with the yield on the policy-sensitive two-year gilt rising 0.11 percentage points on Thursday to 4.35 per cent. The benchmark 10-year yield added 0.2 percentage points to 4.21 per cent.

The pound rose to its highest level since the “mini” Budget.

Mark Carney, former BoE governor, tore into the government’s fiscal plans for exacerbating financial instability and working at cross-purposes with the central bank.

Carney accused Kwarteng of “undercutting” institutions such as the Office for Budget Responsibility, the UK fiscal watchdog.

Meanwhile, Kwarteng on Thursday interviewed four Whitehall mandarins to succeed Sir Tom Scholar, the former Treasury permanent secretary whom he sacked on his first day at the Treasury.

Four candidates are Treasury veterans: Tamara Finkelstein, James Bowler, Peter Schofield and Jeremy Pocklington, while Antonia Romeo has never worked there. Truss has previously railed against Treasury “orthodoxy”.

Ethiopia, Somalia Agree to Work Together on Regional Issues

September 28, 2022

Somali president Hassan Sheik Mohamud (left) chats with PM Abiy Ahmed (right) in Addis Ababa on September 28, 2022 (Photo: Public Domain)


Ethiopia and Somalia on Wednesday reached an agreement to enhance bilateral relations and cooperation on regional issues of mutual interest. 

Somali President Hassan Sheik Mohamud is in Ethiopia for an official state visit.  Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed led a delegation to Mogadishu when Hassan Sheik was sworn in, for the second time, as president of Somalia in June 2022. 

In his speech during the ceremony, Abiy Ahmed spoke about Ethiopia’s determination to work with the new Somali government on regional security and economic development issues.  He passionately spoke about regional economic integration. 

He reiterated it today when he met with Hassan Sheik Mohamud. The Ethiopian PM tends to think that Ethiopian development could happen when its neighbors are developing. 

The visiting Somali president reportedly recognized the contributions of the Ethiopian peace-keeping force in Somalia and expressed gratitude to the people and government of Ethiopia. 

The Ethiopian Peace Keeping Force under AMISOM has been in Somalia since 2007. 

ENA, state media, cited  Ambassador Tesfaye Yilma, State Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, to report that the leaders from the two countries have discussed issues of cooperation on regional levels. 

Security has been one of the areas of cooperation. And the leaders vowed to work together to ensure peace in the Horn of Africa. 

Fighting terrorism in the region has been one of the shared goals of the two countries.  Somalia has been facing security challenges from the militant Al-Shabab forces for decades now. 

In July and August of this year, Al-Shabab made repeated attempts to penetrate Ethiopia, with the aim to coordinate an attack with the radical ethnic Oromo nationalist force – “Shane,” from the South Eastern part of the country. 

However, Al-Shabab’s crusade against Ethiopia ended in fiasco as Ethiopian forces killed more than 800 militants. Several dozens were captured and considerable weaponry and vehicles that the militant group deployed for the operation were destroyed. 

Ethiopia and Somalia do have also a trade relationship. Somalia is one of the destinations for Ethiopia’s Khat export, among other things. 

There were reports of unease in the relationship between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and  Hassan Sheik Mohamud’s administrations due to the appointment of a former Al-Shabaab top man to a cabinet position in Somalia. 

However, that does not seem to be the case as the Ethiopian government has disowned the reportage, it was aired in the state media, and later the content was deleted from the state media youtube channel.

Signs of United Nations Involvement in Ethiopia’s National Dialogue

September 28, 2022 

National Dialogue Commission, UNDP representative and Ministry of Finance representative signing the MoU


The United Nations Development Program has signed a memorandum of understanding with Ethiopia’s National Dialogue Commission. 

Ethiopia’s Ministry of Finance is part of the agreement too. It is said that the aim is to support the National Dialogue Process financially.  

The Agreement was signed in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. 

According to a report by Ethiopian State Media, it is a three years program. UNDP has committed itself to raising funds from development partners. It has also committed itself to spend $US 2.2 million from the UNDP coffer. 

UNDP is to administer the funds as a trust fund. 

Signatories seem to believe that the establishment of the trust fund will contribute in terms of helping the Commission in the effort to kick off an inclusive dialogue so as to get recommendations to resolve critical differences. 

Months after it was formed, the commission appeared before the Ethiopian Parliament in April 2022 to report its performance. It said internal and external interventions were among the major challenges it has faced. 

Radical ethnic Oromo nationalist groups, including the Oromo Federalist Congress under the leadership of Merera Gudina, have rejected the commission. These groups claim the process of establishing the commission was not inclusive. 

Satellite Images Show Eritrea Military Buildup Near Tigray Province of Ethiopia


This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies claims to show M-46 towed field guns and military vehicles positioned in the village of Serha in Eritrea, across the border from the town of Zalambessa in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia on Monday, Sept. 19, 2022. New satellite imagery of one of the world's most reclusive nations shows military positions inside Eritrea near the border with Ethiopia's northern Tigray region, backing up witness accounts of a new, large-scale offensive. (Maxar Technologies via AP)

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — New satellite imagery of one of the world’s most reclusive nations shows a military buildup inside Eritrea near the border with Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, backing up witness accounts of a new, large-scale offensive.

Eritrea has fought alongside Ethiopia against Tigray forces. It rejects allegations that its soldiers committed some of the worst atrocities in the conflict that began in late 2020. Witnesses in Eritrea this month told The Associated Press that people including students and public servants are being rounded up across the nation and sent to fight in the new offensive.

The satellite imagery provided by Maxar Technologies shows what Maxar described as battle tanks, self-propelled howitzers and a M-46 field gun battery in the Eritrean town of Serha, near the border, on Sept. 19. The town is across the border from the Tigray town of Zalambessa, one of the first communities overrun in the war.

Eritrea is one of the world’s most closed countries to independent journalists, and images from there related to the war in Ethiopia are rare.

Last week, Tigray forces accused Eritrea of launching a full-scale offensive along the border in what appeared to be an escalation of fighting that renewed in August after months of relative calm.

Other satellite imagery captured on Monday and shared by Maxar shows military mobilization in the Tigray town of Sheraro, which a humanitarian worker this month described to the AP as being targeted by deadly shelling that caused tens of thousands of people to flee. The worker, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

The U.S. envoy to the Horn of Africa, who has been pressing the Ethiopian and Tigray sides to stop fighting and hold peace talks, told reporters last week that Washington has been tracking Eritrean troop movements across the border.

“They are extremely concerning, and we condemn it,” Mike Hammer said. “All external foreign actors should respect Ethiopia’s territorial integrity and avoid fueling the conflict.”

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, the only leader the country has had since independence three decades ago, remains a foe of the Tigray authorities despite Ethiopia and Eritrea restoring ties in 2018 following a bloody border war. Tigray authorities have bristled at the suggestion made by an African Union special envoy that Eritrea be part of talks to end the current conflict.

The war in Tigray is estimated to have killed tens of thousands of people and left millions in the region without basic services like phone, electricity and banking for well over a year. Independent journalists and human rights researchers are barred from the region.

11 Soldiers Killed, 50 Missing After Jihadist Attack, Burkina Faso Says

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Violence has raged in the landlocked west African country after Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba seized power in a January coup.



Eleven soldiers died and around 50 civilians were missing after a suspected jihadist attack in Burkina Faso's north, the government said late Tuesday.

Violence has raged in the landlocked west African country after Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba seized power in a January coup, ousting Burkina's elected leader and promising to rein in jihadists.

As in neighbouring countries, insurgents affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group have stoked the unrest, even after Damiba earlier this month sacked his defence minister and assumed the role himself.

"A convoy carrying supplies to Djibo town was the target of a cowardly and barbaric attack," government spokesman Lionel Bilgo said.

"The provisional toll is that 11 bodies of soldiers have been found... About 50 civilians are missing and searches are ongoing."

A security source said the toll could be as high as 60 dead.

The convoy was ambushed Monday near Gaskinde in the province of Soum, part of the Sahel region.

Such convoys, escorted by the army, carry essential goods to towns in the north, particularly Djibo, which are under blockade by jihadists who have dynamited bridges on main roads.

"Practically the entire convoy was burnt," a source said Monday. Videos received by AFP showed charred vehicles.

On Sunday an improvised explosive device that targeted another army-escorted resupply convoy in the Sahel wounded four people, security sources said, but the convoy was able to reach its destination on Monday.

In early September an IED strike on a convoy left at least 35 civilians dead, the governor of the Sahel region said at the time.

More than 40 percent of Burkina Faso, a former French colony, is outside government control.

Thousands have died and about two million have been displaced by the fighting since 2015 when the insurgency spread into Burkina Faso.

Much of the Sahel region is now battling the insurgency, which also spread to Niger. In recent years, the violence has begun to spill over into coastal states Ivory Coast and Togo.

"The deteriorating security situation in Burkina Faso and Mali has made the north of the coastal countries the new front line against armed groups operating in the Sahel," the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, a German think tank, said in a report in April.

French forces supported Mali against insurgents for nearly a decade, but President Emmanuel Macron decided to pull out after France and the Malian junta fell out in the wake of a military takeover. The last French troops from France's operation Barkhane left last month.

DRC Prepares Ground for EAC Troops as Kenya Set to Enter

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Kenya Defence Forces soldiers under Africa Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) patrol Kismayo town on November 22, 2015. The presence of Kenyan troops in Somalia requires the goodwill of the Somali people to effectively execute their mandate.

File | Nation Media Group


What you need to know:

The Kenyan contingent will enter the DRC by tackling a hot zone in Bunagana, near the border with Uganda. The area has been under the M23 rebels since June 14 in the group’s renewed fighting after a long lull.

Congolese Defence Minister Gilbert Kabanda said that the “East African regional force has been deploying materials through Uganda since September 19 via the Kasindi border.”

The Democratic Republic of Congo says it is ready to welcome regional troops to start a planned operation against rebels who have caused civilians untold suffering.

The first contingent to arrive under this arrangement will be the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), who have since last week been deploying their logistical support systems.

DRC President Félix Tshisekedi says Kenyan soldiers will "soon" arrive in the DRC as part of the East African Community regional force that will help DR Congo fight insecurity in North and South Kivu, and Ituri provinces.

“I told you that the force is being deployed. The Burundians are already there in South Kivu,” he said in New York, on Monday, where he has been attending the 77th UN General Assembly.

“For the Kenyans, in my opinion, it is a matter of days. They are going to enter via Bunagana, for your information. So, it's being deployed little by little, depending on the means. That is why we were here and why we made contacts; it was to sensitise donors to support this regional force.”

The Kenyan contingent will enter the DRC by tackling a hot zone in Bunagana, near the border with Uganda. The area has been under the M23 rebels since June 14 in the group’s renewed fighting after a long lull.

Congolese Defence Minister Gilbert Kabanda said that the “East African regional force has been deploying materials through Uganda since September 19 via the Kasindi border.”

The regional forces are expected to be made up of contingents from Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan and Tanzania. Burundian forces have already been deployed in Congo, in the province of South Kivu, since August 15, under an earlier bilateral arrangement that has since been accommodated in the EAC Concept of Operations (Conops).

Eastern DRC is infested with hundreds of local and foreign armed groups. The DRC, which joined the East African Community in May, hopes to defeat insecurity and terrorism in its eastern provinces. Only Rwanda will not deploy its troops due to a simmering diplomatic row in which Kinshasa has accused Kigali of supporting M23 rebels, allegations that Rwanda denies.

The troops will initially be deployed for six months but their task will also involve marketing their presence to be accepted by local civilians who recently protested against peacekeepers from the UN (Monusco) for failing to tame rebel massacres.

Monusco is supposed to start departing the country as African countries ask for more focus to be turned on rebuilding the Congolese army and other national institutions.

At the UN General Assembly, Félix Tshisekedi again accused Rwanda of supporting rebels, but his counterpart Paul Kagame said: “It is no use casting aspersions on anyone. These challenges are not insurmountable. We can find solutions. These solutions would be much less costly in financial and human terms. The international community can help us solve this problem.”

“It has been proven that regional or bilateral initiatives make a big difference, whether in the Central African Republic or in the successful engagement of Rwanda and the Southern African Development Community to contain violent extremism in northern Mozambique. If this approach were properly tested in the DRC, as proposed by the Nairobi process (peace talks between the Congolese government and armed groups), it would make a difference,” added the Rwandan head of state.

For Bertrand Bisimwa, chairman of the M23, the Congolese president has chosen war over dialogue.

“When President Tshisekedi ignores the easy dialogue with his own citizens to embrace the meanderings of war, which is costly in every way and whose outcome is unknown, is this responsible? Are his objectives really pacifist or populist or electoral?”

New IFC Podcast Promotes Women in Africa’s Renewable Energy Sector

Sponsored by International Finance Corporation (IFC)

With renewable energy forecast to play a growing role in Africa's energy future, IFC has launched a new podcast series to promote the role of women in the sector as senior executives, engineers and thought leaders.  

In the She Powers Africa podcast, host Terryanne Chebet, an entrepreneur and media specialist, speaks with leading women in Africa's renewable energy space to light the path for the next generation of African women leaders into the dynamic sector.

The first three episodes feature Jennifer Boca, Head of Environmental, Social and Governance at Lekela Power; Olaedo Osoka, CEO of Daystar Power in West Africa; and Carol Koech, the Country President for Schneider East Africa.

“This engaging podcast is ideal for women interested in working in the renewable energy sector and also for anyone concerned about climate change in Africa and curious about the practical solutions. Renewable energy is Africa's energy future – and ensuring more women are part of that future will enhance the sector’s success," said Anne Kabugi, IFC's Regional Gender Lead for Africa.

By 2040, renewable energy could account for more than 60 percent of new electricity generation in sub-Saharan Africa, excluding South Africa, according to the Africa Energy Outlook 2019 from the International Energy Agency.

But, despite the sector's importance, women lag behind men in leadership and technical jobs in the renewable energy sector and represent just one third of the renewable energy workforce in Africa, according to research conducted by IFC on women’s participation in Africa.s renewable energy sector.

The podcast is produced by IFC's Energy2Equal programme and its Women in Renewable Energy in Africa Network (W-REA), which both aim to enhance women's participation in the renewable energy sector. 

Uganda Rules Out Ebola Lockdown

Thursday, September 29, 2022

An outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus was announced by Uganda’s ministry of health on September 21, 2022. 


Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni on Wednesday ruled out imposing a lockdown to contain the highly contagious Ebola virus, saying the country had the capacity to contain the outbreak. 

Authorities in the East African nation declared an outbreak in the central district of Mubende last week after the country reported its first fatality from the virus since 2019. 

Health workers prepare for an Ebola vaccination drive in Mbandaka, DR Congo.

The caseload stood at 24 with five confirmed deaths, Museveni told a televised press briefing. 

Some 19 people classified as probable cases had also died, he added, explaining that they were buried before they could be tested for infection. 

But the 78-year-old leader vowed not to cordon off the affected regions, saying the country was well-equipped to contain the virus. 

"We decided that we shall not have lockdowns. It is not necessary," Museveni said. 

"Government has capacity to control this outbreak as we have done before. There is no need for anxiety, no restrictions of movements, closure of schools places of worships, markets as of now."

Ebola is an often-fatal viral haemorrhagic fever. The disease is named after a river in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where it was discovered in 1976.

Human transmission is through body fluids, with the main symptoms being fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhoea.

Outbreaks are difficult to contain, especially in urban environments.

People who are infected do not become contagious until symptoms appear, which is after an incubation period of between two and 21 days.

Six health workers were receiving treatment after testing positive for Ebola following exposure to the first victim, Museveni said. 

At present there is no licensed medication to prevent or treat Ebola, although a range of experimental drugs are in development. 

Uganda, which shares a porous border with the DRC, has experienced several Ebola outbreaks, most recently in 2019 when at least five people died.

The DRC on Tuesday declared an end to an Ebola virus outbreak that emerged in eastern North Kivu province six weeks ago.

Only one case of the virus had been confirmed, according to the World Health Organization, making the DRC's Ebola outbreak its "least catastrophic". 

The worst epidemic in West Africa between 2013 and 2016 killed more than 11,300 alone. The DRC has had more than a dozen epidemics, the deadliest killing 2,280 people in 2020.

Kenya Heightens Ebola Surveillance at Border with Uganda

Ebola control at Uganda-Kenya border

Africa News with AFP

Following an outbreak of Ebola in the Ugandan town of Mubende, health authorities in the Kenyan frontier town of Busia have heightened surveillance in a bid to prevent the virus from spreading across the border.

Everyone passing through the border from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, South Sudan, and Uganda into Kenya now have to undergo screening at the border crossing.

‘So, what is happening is the taking of temperature after which the clients fill in a surveillance form. Basically they fill in their personal details like their name and contact details and where they started their journey from so that we can detect whether they are from any areas near the Mubende division of Uganda,’ said Dr Melsa Lutomia, Acting Chief Officer of Health Sanitation in the Busia County Government.

Precautionary measures

If a person’s body temperature were to exceed 37.8 celsius, they would be directed to a holding room at the border. If their temperature remained high, they would then be taken to an Ebola isolation centre at the local hospital.

But border officials say that despite having screened over 5,000 people since the first case of Ebola was reported in Uganda about two weeks ago, no one has had to go to the centre yet.

Truck driver, George Mwangi, was travelling from Kenya to Uganda.

‘I am afraid because I am heading to Uganda leaving my family back at home. If I get Ebola my family will suffer and I will not be able to see them. Because if I go to them, I will infect them. I will be put in quarantine and they will suffer,’ he said.

Local residents worried

There is heavy traffic at this border post, with many travelers and truck drivers passing through from neighbouring countries, and local residents in Busia are nervous

‘Many people cross through this border. People from Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania. I want to plead with the government to put strict measures in place. If they don't take serious measures here, we will be greatly affected. If we catch the disease we can spread it to other cities and many people will die,’ said Lucas Odongo.

So far, the screening seems to be working. Kenyan health officials said that there have been no cases of Ebola reported in the country, and the spread of the disease appears to be contained within Uganda.