Friday, September 22, 2023

Kwame Nkrumah Should Be the Standard of Good Governance – CPP


September 21, 2023

Tourists visit the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park in Accra, capital of Ghana, July 4, 2023. Ghana on Tuesday reopened the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park, a major cultural heritage in the capital city of Accra to memorize the country's first president, in the hope of boosting tourism. The park, first opened in 1992, has just completed its refurbishment under the Ghanaian government's five-year project to boost tourism and hospitality as critical drivers of socio-economic development. (Photo by Seth/Xinhua)

The Convention People’s Party (CPP) has urged the citizenry to reflect on the developmental agenda of Dr Kwame Nkrumah and use his records as basis to hold the government to account.

The Party said Dr Nkrumah’s strategic investments in critical sectors of the economy and industrialisation drive put the country on the path of economic independence until his “painful” overthrow in 1966.

In an interview with the Ghana News Agency ahead of the commemoration of the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day on Thursday, Nana Yaa Akyempim Jantuah, the General Secretary of the CPP, said Dr Nkrumah should be the “yardstick of good governance.”

She urged the citizenry to reflect on the current state of Ghana’s economy and juxtapose it with the achievements of Dr Nkrumah, who made a determined effort to make the country a great nation after gaining her independence in 1957.

“Ghana was on the road of gaining economic independence, but Nkrumah was painfully taken out of power.

“Kwame Nkrumah developed and industrialised this nation. He created a good healthcare system for the nation and was very prudent with the resources that we had and used it to build a lot of infrastructure, including the Akosombo Dam and the Harbour,” she said.

Nana Yaa Jantuah said the present state of the Ghanaian economy, which was characterised by higher inflation, weak local currency, and unattainable debts, reflected the extent to which the dream to achieve total economic independence had fallen apart.

“It is time for us to arise to make our government accountable. Ghanaians should let governments who come into power understand that they cannot do what they like, and that the yardstick should be what Kwame Nkrumah did,” she said.

Ghanaians will on Thursday, September 21, 2023, mark the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day, with a Statutory Public Holiday.

The Day is set aside to remember and honour Ghana’s first President, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, who earlier was Prime Minister and Africa’s foremost champion of continental unity and liberation of the black race.

On March 6, 1957, Ghana gained independence after 83 years of British colonial rule – becoming the first sub-Saharan African country to achieve independence from Britain.

Dr Kwame Nkrumah declared Ghana as “free forever” from colonial rule, marking a historic turning point in the governance of the country.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Capitalism Not Panacea to Africa’s Economic Woes – Professor Britwum


September 21, 2023

Professor Akua Opokua Britwum, Associate Professor of Gender and Labour Studies at the University of Cape Coast, has called for dialogue on measures to wean Africa off the international capitalist system to set the continent on the path of economic independence.

She argued that the capitalist system “is not the solution to Africa’s problems” and cautioned that the current development model implemented by African countries “is going to collapse” and worsen the living conditions of the people.

Prof. Britwum made the call in an interview with the Ghana News Agency at the launch of an African Development Journal titled: “Lessons to Africa from Africa.”

The Journal is a collection which recovers insights from the revolutionary governments of early post-independence Africa to confront today’s development challenges.

It encompasses case studies from across the continent, which details African development alternatives in areas across development planning, finance, industrialisation, among others.

Prof. Britwum said the unification of Africa should be possible because no African country would be able to succeed on its own.

She said failure on the part of African countries to break away from western economic paradigm and build its own systems would spell doom for the millions of educated young people who continue to wallow in unemployment.

“We should begin a discussion about how we leave this international capital system. There is no way this capitalist system is going to change and get the benefits.

“We need to be talking about how we connect around the continent and provide a viable alternative to today’s multinationals and even trading among ourselves. We don’t have our sovereignty if the dollar continues to be our standard,” she said.

Prof. Britwum’s contribution to the Journal focused on Post- Independence Development Planning in Ghana and Tanzania.

She said in spite of the global and financial setbacks that sought to derail the economic emancipation of Ghana and Tanzania, the post-colonial governments at the time laid robust foundation to transform their countries.

She disagreed with suggestions that the development plans initiated by the governments at the time failed to materialise, and blamed lack of continuity of the plans for the inability of the countries to realise their full benefits.

“Even though we did not realise the full benefits, it laid a certain foundation that grounds Ghana in a certain space. Even the cloud that Ghanaians have, the integrity and leadership is also because of what Nkrumah represented on the continent.

“In Tanzania, the internal cohesion, the Swahili language that has become the common language in East Africa now is something Nyerere pushed so we cannot say that the foundation they laid failed,” Prof. Britwum said.

Mr. Tetteh Hormeku-Ajei, the Head of Programmes at the Third World Network-Africa, and co-editor of the Africa Development Journal, blamed the challenges confronting the continent on “genuine crisis of leadership.”

“We have to produce our leadership for our time to the combination of the movements, the people who rise from them, and the demands we make to leadership,” he said.

Kim Jong Un’s Visit to Russia Changes Global Political Situation — Official

The visit brought Korean-Russian relations to a new strategic height in accordance with the requirements of new times, Voice of Korea radio reported

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un Vladimir Smirnov/TASS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

© Vladimir Smirnov/TASS

TOKYO, September 22. /TASS/. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s successful visit to Russia has brought the relations between the two countries to "new strategic heights," meeting "the demands of the new time" and "changed the world’s political environment fundamentally," according to the assessment given by department head of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) Kim Song Nam at a meeting of the Political Bureau at the instruction of its Presidium, which was held on September 20.

"He noted that the visit brought the Korean-Russian relations to new strategic heights in accordance with the requirements of the new time and changed the global political environment fundamentally," North Korea’s state radio Voice of Korea reported. The report analyzed the importance of the North Korean leader’s visit to Russia and focused on "promising plans to develop the relations," the radio said, adding that the visit to Russia "reached the desired results."

North Korean leader visited Russia on September 12-17. During his trip, he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Vostochny Spaceport and visited a number of facilities in Russia’s Far East. In Komsomolsk-on-Amur, he visited the production site for Su-35 and Su-57 aircraft and familiarized himself with the Superjet -100 (SJ 100) project. Later, Russia’s defense chief Sergey Shoigu showed Kim the country’s latest warplanes and the Kinzhal hypersonic missile system, including the MiG-31I missile carrier. While in Vladivostok, Kim also inspected the Marshal Shaposhnikov frigate, attended a performance of Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s ballet the Sleeping Beauty, visited Far Eastern Federal University, an aquarium and an Arnika Group factory that specializes in the production of feed components.

Lavrov Says US Engineered Crisis in Ukraine

"Since the collapse of the USSR and the emergence of independent states in its place, the US and its allies have blatantly and openly interfered in Ukraine's internal affairs," the Russian foreign minister pointed out

© Valery Sharifulin/TASS

UNITED NATIONS, September 20. /TASS/. The US and its allies have openly meddled in Ukrainian affairs since the Soviet breakup and there’s evidence they engineered the crisis in that country, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said at a UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine.

"Since the collapse of the USSR and the emergence of independent states in its place, the US and its allies have blatantly and openly interfered in Ukraine's internal affairs. As US Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland publicly, and even proudly, admitted at the end of 2013, Washington spent $5 billion to nurture politicians in Kiev who are amenable to the West. All the facts of how the Ukrainian crisis has been engineered have long been public, but attempts are being made to downplay them by all means, to undo the entire history leading up to 2014," the minister said.

Russia Introduces Restrictions on Exports of Gasoline, Diesel Fuel

According to the government decree, the restrictions are temporary and begin on September 21 "from the date of its official publication"

© Alexander Ryumin/TASS

MOSCOW, September 21. /TASS/. Russia has introduced restrictions on the export of gasoline and diesel fuel from September 21, the press service of the government reported on Thursday.

According to the government decree to that effect, the restrictions are temporary and begin on September 21 "from the date of its official publication," but the document does not specify the expiration date of the restrictions.

"The Russian government rules to establish, from the date of entry into force of this resolution, a temporary ban on the export of commercial gasoline <…> and diesel fuel <…>, from the Russian Federation including purchases made via exchange trading," the document says.

About exceptions

The ban applies mainly to gasoline and diesel fuel, but the government has introduced a number of exceptions. In particular, restrictions do not apply to supplies from Russia to the EAEU as part of indicative balances or protocols under intergovernmental agreements, export of fuel under intergovernmental agreements or as part of humanitarian assistance by government decision, transit of fuel, supplies to Russia’s military outside the country, as well as fuel to support the activities of Baikonur and Spitsbergen.

The restrictions do not apply to the transportation of fuel by individuals for personal use, gasoline and diesel in storage containers for use on the road, deliveries to South Ossetia and Abkhazia, as well as fuel already undergoing customs procedures.

Restrictions on the export of gasoline and diesel will help curb "gray" exports, saturate the domestic market, and may also lead to an additional reduction in prices, an official from the Energy Ministry told reporters on Thursday. The ministry also stressed that the restrictions are temporary.

Situation with fuel prices

In recent months, gasoline and diesel fuel have been trading at record levels, but began to decline this week. Last week, a source told TASS that the Russian government is considering two options for stabilizing fuel prices: a complete ban on the export of petroleum products for a certain period to saturate the market, as well as increasing the export duty to $250 per ton on petroleum products. First Deputy Energy Minister Pavel Sorokin said that a protective duty on fuel exports from Russia was being considered as a potential measure to stabilize the market, but how to compensate refineries was not yet resolved.

Earlier, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak attributed the hike in wholesale fuel prices to an increase in prices for petroleum products on global markets, as well as to depreciation of the ruble against the dollar.

As of Thursday, stock prices for gasoline in Russia decreased by 4-5.7% and prices for diesel fuel dropped by more than 2%.

Export duty on fertilizers will increase from 7% to 10% at dollar rate above 80 rubles

Fees are calculated based on the dollar exchange rate for the month ending on the 25th of the previous calendar month

MOSCOW, September 21. /TASS/. Export duties on fertilizers will increase from the current 7% to 10% if the dollar exchange rate is above 80 rubles, according to the Cabinet resolution.

According to the document, from October 1, 2023 to December 31, 2024, the duty rate will be 7% if the average dollar exchange rate is less than 80 rubles and 10% if the exchange rate is above 80 rubles. Moreover, the minimum rate in both cases will be 1,100 rubles ($11.4) per ton for nitrogen fertilizers, 2,100 rubles ($21.8) per ton for phosphorus and 1,800 rubles ($18.7) per ton for potash.

Fees are calculated based on the dollar exchange rate for the month ending on the 25th of the previous calendar month.

Earlier, the Russian government announced that from October 1, flexible export duties will be applied to a wide range of goods and these duties will be tied to the ruble exchange rate. The measure is temporary and aimed at protecting the domestic market. The duty will range from 4% to 7% depending on the exchange rate of the national currency. At 80 rubles per dollar and below, the duty will be zero.

From January 1, Russia introduced export duties on mineral fertilizers in the amount of 23.5% for a year, which were in effect if the price of fertilizers exceeded $450 per ton. Deliveries below this price were not subject to duty. However, the Finance Ministry said in June that since the Russian budget received only about 5% of the export duty payments planned for this year, the government was studying the possibility of replacing this mechanism. As a result, from September 1, Russia began to apply export duties on fertilizers in the amount of 7% of the customs value, with the establishment of a minimum duty rate depending on the type of fertilizer.

Russia to introduce flexible export duties on alcohol, tobacco, fish, dairy products

The list also includes coffee, tea, cereals, prepared meat

MOSCOW, September 21. /TASS/. The Russian government has introduced flexible export duties on live animals, fish, dairy products, vegetables, fruits and a number of other goods in the amount of 4% to 7% at an exchange rate above 80 rubles per dollar, according to the relevant Cabinet resolution.

The list also includes coffee, tea, cereals, prepared meat and fish products, sugar and confectionery, cocoa, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, tobacco products, and animal feed. There are exceptions for some items.

Earlier, the Russian government announced that from October 1, flexible export duties will be applied to a wide range of goods and these duties will be tied to the ruble exchange rate. The measure is temporary and aimed at protecting the domestic market. The duty will range from 4% to 7% depending on the exchange rate of the national currency. At 80 rubles per dollar and below, the duty will be zero.

Warsaw Not to Transfer to Kiev New Weapons Purchased for Polish Army

According to Andrzej Duda, Poland has signed contracts with Ukraine, in particular for the supply of self-propelled Krab howitzers

Polish President Andrzej Duda AP Photo/Mary Alt

© AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

MOSCOW, September 21. /TASS/. The Polish authorities do not intend to hand over to Ukraine the modern weaponry they purchase for their army, Polish President Andrzej Duda told the TVN24 channel.

"We cannot transfer our new arms, which we are now buying spending billions for the Polish army to strengthen it, to strengthen the security of Poland, to someone else. Whoever," he said. "We will not transfer these weapons because we are buying them in order to modernize the Polish army," Duda continued.

"I personally will be the first to stand against the transfer of these new weapons that we are now receiving from South Korea or the United States, such as new Abrams, Patriot or HIMARS systems," the president added.

According to him, Poland has signed contracts with Ukraine, in particular for the supply of self-propelled Krab howitzers. "It is necessary to honor this contract, and we are constantly fulfilling it," he pointed out.

Duda did not rule out that as new weapons are received from South Korea and the US, Poland will be able to hand over some old ones to Ukraine.

On Wednesday, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that Warsaw was no longer supplying Kiev with any weapons. He said that his country was now acquiring state-of-the-art weapons for its army and had already placed large orders. Later, Polish government spokesman Piotr Muller explained Morawiecki's words, pointing out that the Polish authorities were only supplying Ukraine with previously agreed weapons.

Earlier, Poland handed over to Ukraine’s armed forces MiG-29 airplanes, T-72 and 14 Leopard 2 tanks, artillery shells and other munitions, portable surface-to-air missile systems, unmanned aerial vehicles worth about $3 billion.

US to Supply Most Dangerous Weapons to Ukraine for Counteroffensive — Russian Embassy

Earlier, the US administration announced a decision to send Ukraine a package of military assistance worth $325 million, containing air defense systems and cluster munitions

© Egor Aleev/TASS

WASHINGTON, September 22. /TASS/. The US Administration is ready to supply the most dangerous weapons to Ukraine to "keep the failed ‘counter-offensive’ afloat," according to a statement released by the Russian embassy in Washington via its Telegram channel on Thursday.

"We have noted yet another US aid package to Ukraine. Washington's constant pumping of weapons and money into its clients in Kiev has long surprised no one. The US Administration could not bring home its ward, destroying his own people and obediently waging a proxy war against our country, without consolation prizes. The United States is ready to supply Ukrainians with anything, any, the most dangerous materiel just to give them an opportunity to somehow keep the failed ‘counter-offensive’ afloat," Russian diplomats said.

"The Ukrainian armed forces have not achieved their objectives, having suffered huge losses in manpower and equipment," which is acknowledged by most local experts, they added.

"We urge Washington to realize the futility of the non-stop transfer of aid packages to the Kiev regime. The West’s efforts cannot change the situation on the ground. Instead, they will lead to a further prolongation of the conflict as well as to new casualties and destruction. The special military operation will continue until the stated objectives have been fully achieved," the embassy noted.

Earlier, the US Administration announced its decision to send a military assistance package worth $325 mln containing air defense and cluster munitions to Ukraine. Washington has provided over $43.9 bln worth of military assistance to Kiev since the onset of Russia’s special military operation.

US Sending $325 Million Military Assistance Package to Ukraine

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted that the weapons and equipment “will come from the Department of Defense stockpiles” of his country

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken AP Photo/Seth Wenig, Pool

© AP Photo/Seth Wenig, Pool

WASHINGTON, September 22. /TASS/. The US’ administration is sending a military assistance package worth $325 mln containing air defense and cluster munitions to Ukraine, according to a statement by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken released on Thursday.

"I am authorizing additional security assistance for Ukraine, which will provide $128 million worth of US arms and equipment from Department of Defense stocks. The Department of Defense will also be providing $197 million in arms and equipment under previously directed drawdowns," the statement reads.

"The arms and equipment include additional air defense munitions to help strengthen Ukraine’s air defenses," "artillery ammunition and anti-armor capabilities, as well as cluster munitions," according to Blinken.

The capabilities in this package include AIM-9M missiles for air defense, additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), Avenger air defense systems, machine guns to counter Unmanned Aerial Systems, 105mm and 155mm artillery rounds, Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) missiles, Javelin and AT-4 anti-armor systems, over 3 million rounds of small arms ammunition, spare parts, maintenance, and other field equipment, the Pentagon said in a statement.

Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh Agree to Cease Fire and Putin to Visit China

Top stories from the Russian press on Thursday, September 21st

© oldhike/TASS

MOSCOW, September 21. /TASS/. Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh announce ceasefire; Vladimir Putin to visit China for Belt and Road Forum; and Ukrainian president visits US amid tensions with allies. These stories topped Thursday’s newspaper headlines across Russia.

Media: Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh announce ceasefire

Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh managed to reach a full ceasefire agreement through the mediation of Russia's peacekeeping mission a day after the start of Baku’s military operation. The deal stipulates the withdrawal of Armenian forces from Azerbaijani territory and the disbandment of the Karabakh army. It was also decided that Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians and Baku will hold talks on reintegration, with the first round set for September 21, Izvestia writes.

IN BRIEF: Ceasefire, plans for talks and other latest developments around Nagorno-Karabakh

Less than a year ago, the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan held a meeting in Prague, which also involved the European Council chief and the French president. Back then, Baku and Yerevan recognized each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. "By signing a four-party agreement in Prague, Armenia put down on paper that it recognized Nagorno-Karabakh as being part of Azerbaijan. That said, the current Armenian leader, Nikol Pashinyan, who is seen as a man of the people and a champion in the fight against corruption, is the one to blame for this latest tragedy for the Armenian people," said Igor Polyachenko, head of the Office of International Cooperation at the State University of Management.

"On September 19-20, 2023, we saw the end of the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War, which was previously suspended in November 2020, an outcome which satisfied neither Armenia nor Azerbaijan," Vadim Mukhanov, head of the Caucasus Sector of the Center for Post-Soviet Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of World Economy and International Relations, told Vedomosti. Baku could have taken victory in the fall of 2020; the Armenians had lost control of all the important strategic points and this time around, Armenian volunteer fighters were unable to resist for long, Mukhanov explained. In such a situation, the Karabakh Armenians would have had to accept the victor’s terms.

Pashinyan distanced himself from the situation in Karabakh by saying that Armenia did not plan to go to battle and did not have troops deployed in the region, while Karabakh forces had no chance of beating back the Azerbaijani army by themselves, said Artur Atayev, head of Caucasus Studies at the Russian Institution for Strategic Studies. Russia turned out to be the only actor capable of preventing the threat to civilians in Karabakh, which is why it was its peacekeepers’ command that brokered ceasefire talks between Stepanakert and Baku, talks that did not involve Yerevan, Atayev emphasized.

Izvestia: Vladimir Putin to visit China for Belt and Road Forum

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accepted Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s invitation to visit the country in October for the Belt and Road Forum, as the Russian head of state said himself at a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on September 20, Izvestia writes.

The agenda of the negotiations was not limited to bilateral relations as the Nagorno-Karabakh issue was an unavoidable topic given how it was unfolding before everyone's eyes. The parties also discussed the Ukrainian crisis, which is not surprising given that China presented its peace plan to resolve the conflict earlier in the year. However, the parties refrained from going into detail during the part of their meeting that was open to the media, leaving the issue for closed-door talks.

Still, Wang Yi expressed Beijing’s unequivocal support for Moscow on the international stage, saying that the world was currently going through radical changes and the trend towards anti-globalization was already clear.

Today, it’s important for Russia to square its position on resolving the Ukrainian crisis with China, Dmitry Belik, a member of the Russian State Duma (the lower house of parliament) Committee on International Affairs, explained. On the whole, Russia has already taken China’s view of the issue into account, and there are no fundamental contradictions between Moscow and Beijing on the matter.

"Russia and China share a desire to resist the hegemony that the United States seeks to build across the world. For China, it’s important that Beijing and Moscow are capable of providing assistance to each other in a number of fields," Belik pointed out. Especially important is maintaining security in the Asia-Pacific region.

There is plenty of common ground for Moscow and Beijing, from strategic cooperation to the creation of a Eurasian space, Belik noted. He did not rule out that the meeting had also addressed some details about Putin’s upcoming visit to China.

Media: Ukrainian president visits US amid tensions with allies

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky took the opportunity to address the United General Assembly in New York to promote his military peace formula. His trip comes amid tensions with Poland over a grain export ban and grievances about the Ukrainian armed forces’ failed counteroffensive. Even in the West, there is a growing contingent that thinks continuing to support Kiev might not be worth it, Nezavisimaya Gazeta notes.

The atmosphere around Zelensky’s visit to the US and his participation in UNGA events can hardly be described as positive, said Oleg Nemensky, leading expert at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies. Kiev is getting a lot of pushback about its failed counteroffensive, while its problems with certain countries, particularly in Eastern Europe, are getting worse. Even in the United States, many people capable of exerting significant influence on the general attitude toward Ukraine have come to think that their investment in Kiev may turn out to be a failure. This doesn’t mean that the West plans to scale back its support for Kiev but it seems that the tone of its conversation with Ukrainian officials has grown tougher, Nemensky maintained.

On the day Zelensky arrived in the US, the New York Times published an article about a missile strike that killed 16 people in the town of Konstantinovka in early September. The newspaper came to the conclusion that the missile had been launched by the Ukrainian army. The NYT article could not have been published without "a go-ahead from senior officials," political scientist Dmitry Rodionov told Izvestia. "Washington and Brussels are increasingly saying that the Ukrainian armed forces’ counteroffensive has failed and Ukraine fatigue is growing. It’s quite possible that attempts are being made to create grounds for potentially dumping Ukraine," he said.

Denis Denisov, an expert at the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, points out that the Western media's rose-colored glasses about the Ukrainian leadership are coming off. "I believe that Washington and Brussels will gradually reduce their support for Ukraine. They will not completely remove it from their balance sheet as it remains a valuable asset and an important tool to weaken Russia. There are going to be enough funds and weapons to keep Ukraine afloat but no more than that. There will be less talk about Ukraine’s total victory," the analyst stressed.

Vedomosti: New York hosts first ever summit between US, Central Asian nations

The first ever C5+1 summit, which brought together the leaders of the United States and five Central Asian nations, took place on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. US President Joe Biden thanked his Central Asian counterparts for their partnership approach to resolving regional security issues. The leaders discussed ways to create a better business environment for trade and investment. Biden also suggested getting the ball rolling on attracting investments to launch the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route connecting China with European countries, which would bypass Russia, Vedomosti writes.

The importance of the C5+1 platform has increased in terms of political dialogue because earlier, its meetings usually involved foreign ministers, said Stanislav Pritchin, an expert at the Center for Post-Soviet Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of World Economy and International Relations According to him, the Americans seek to use this dialogue platform to restrict Central Asian countries’ economic cooperation with Russia and potentially, China. "Although the United States’ trade and investment activities in the region have remained at a low level, the region is still a promising area for Washington’s foreign policy amid rising global tensions," Pritchin pointed out.

According to Kyrgyz political scientist Mars Sariyev, Washington is willing to fund alternate trade routes from Central Asia to Europe and is even mulling the possibility of bringing its military bases back to the region. However, in Sariyev’s words, the countries of the region will try to maneuver and won’t turn their back on either Moscow or Beijing.

The current escalation of tensions in the South Caucasus is contributing to US plans concerning Central Asia, Sariyev went on to say. Azerbaijan's victory and a possible launch of the Zangezur Corridor in Armenia will help create a stable trade route between Europe and the region through the Caspian Sea. "The US is ready to fund this project in order to eventually be able to use it to weaken China’s Belt and Road initiative," the expert concluded.

Izvestia: Russia’s gold holdings reach 21-year high

Russia’s gold assets amounted to 2,332 tons last year, a 21-year high, according to statistics from the World Gold Council. Russia remains in the top five in the world in gold reserves. This trend is due to the country’s rejection of toxic reserve currencies, Izvestia writes.

All of Russia’s gold assets are kept at the Central Bank’s vaults inside the country, the regulator said last March. In late February 2022, the United States and the European Union froze some of the Russian Central Bank’s international assets in response to the launch of Moscow’s special military operation in Ukraine. The Central Bank estimated the value of those assets at about $300 bln.

Rising geopolitical tensions driven by the conflict between Russia and Western countries have made many national regulators review currency risks, said Finam analyst Alexander Potavin. Using various defensive assets, including gold, reduces the likelihood of their depreciation, seizure and other problems, he noted.

Another reason why Russia’s gold reserves have grown is that the BRICS group is expected to launch a single currency that would be backed by gold, Freedom Finance Global analyst Vladimir Chernov pointed out.

As a major gold producer, Russia has always held a significant part of its assets in gold, said Anton Tabakh, chief economist at the Expert RA rating agency. For Russia, the dollar and the euro have become "toxic," so the country is now holding its reserves in gold and the yuan. "Sanctions are unlikely to be lifted in the foreseeable future so the upward trend in gold assets should persist. Gold is not the best investment tool but certainly not the worst," he said.

TASS is not responsible for the material quoted in these press reviews

Health and Fitness Walk In Memory Of Ghana’s First President Kwame Nkrumah

By Sammy Heywood Okine 

September 20, 2023

Aspiring Member of Parliament for Ablekuma West, Rev. Kweku Addo is organizing a Health Walk on Thursday, September 21, 2023 from the Dr. Kwame Nkrumah Circle to Accra Academy.

The Walk starts at exactly 6am from the Obra Spot Area to Accra Aca where there would be aerobics, health talk and socializing as well as refreshments.

Rev. Addo who is an Educationist as well as a Real Estate Developer and Proprietor of Oddarene Christian School, at Dansoman said the aim of the Heath Walk is to sustain the programme he has been organizing annually to create awareness of living health lifestyles.

He said health is wealth and the people of Ghana need to be healthy and wealthy.

He expressed that the Walk is open to all who want to be fit, “They can just join us from anywhere as we walk to our destination, our goal is to create the awareness and participation.”

He said the youth should be guided to know about the history of the nation and contribute positively to the socioeconomic development of the nation.

He added that as Ghanaians celebrate the Day in memory of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of the country, they should remember to be patriotic and nationalistic.

Zambia Foils Ploy to Smuggle Lithium Ore

By Xinhua 

September 21, 2023

Zambian authorities have impounded and seized a truck for attempting to smuggle lithiu

The Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) said on Wednesday that its officials, working with officials from the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development, intercepted the truck at a border entry in the southern part of the country following investigations against a cartel of exporters misclassifying the export of valuable mineral products.

Oliver Nzala, ZRA corporate communications manager, said the truck was intercepted after the exporter declared that it was carrying silica sand, which was found to be lithium ore after verification.

“The interception is a result of enhanced vigilance in the monitoring of various mineral products that are exiting the country’s borders.

The authority would like to send a strong warning to all would-be perpetrators of such crimes to desist as several measures have been put in place to identify such acts, and will ensure that the offenders are brought to book,” Nzala said in a statement.

He said the ZRA, working with the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development, has intensified its mineral quality and mineral valuation verification activities at the borders after noting that a number of minerals have been presenting false samples when applying for mineral export permits.

Nzala added that the ZRA is in support of the decision by the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development to put in place a minerals regulator. “It will go a long way to address the existing gaps in the mineral value chain monitoring and enforcement.”

UNHCR Calls for More Funding for Refugees

By Xinhua 

September 21, 2023

Sudanese refugees wait to be registered after crossing the border into the Central African Republic. © UNHCR/Xavier Bourgois

More than 400,000 Sudanese refugees have arrived in neighboring Chad since the start of a conflict in Sudan about five months ago, said an official from the UN Refugee Agency, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

“As of Sept. 11, 2023, 418,126 new Sudanese refugees have been registered in Chad. Daily arrivals from Sudan continue … the Chadian government estimates that up to 600,000 refugees and returnees could arrive in Chad by the end of 2023,” UNHCR Chad Representative Laura Lo Castro told Xinhua in a recent interview.

She said that the UNHCR, in collaboration with the Chadian government, is working to ensure the reception, protection, and response to the most urgent humanitarian needs of the refugees.

Despite these efforts, the needs in the camps remain enormous, and resources are running out, she added.

“Additional resources are sorely needed to meet the needs of the refugees. As of Sept. 9, 2023, out of the 388 million U.S. dollars requested for Chad under the PRRP (Regional Refugee Response Plan) for the Sudanese situation, the humanitarian community has been financed at 20 percent, or 79 million dollars. 80 percent of the plan remains unfunded, representing a gap of 309 million dollars,” Lo Castro said.

Sudan has been witnessing deadly armed clashes in the capital Khartoum and other areas since April 15, resulting in over 3,000 deaths and more than 6,000 injuries, according to the Sudanese Health Ministry.

South Africa’s Inflation Leveling Out

By Xinhua 

September 21, 2023

The annual consumer inflation in South Africa increased slightly to 4.8 percent in August from 4.7 percent in July after falling for four straight months, with the consumer price index (CPI) going up 0.3 percent month on month in August, according to the statistics released Wednesday by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA).

The latest statistics show that food and non-alcoholic beverage (NAB) inflation remained low, easing some of the pressure on the headline rate.

The annual inflation for food and NAB fell for the fifth consecutive month in August, easing from 9.9 percent in July to 8.0 percent. The annual rate for bread and cereals was 9.9 percent as compared with 13.1 percent in July, according to Stats SA.

Jannie Rossouw, a professor at Wits University, said that food inflation going down is good as many lower-income households spend the bulk of their income on food.

President Cyril Ramaphosa: 78th Session of United Nations General Assembly United Nations

19 Sep 2023

Statement by President Cyril Ramaphosa to the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly United Nations, New York

President of the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly, Mr Dennis Francis, 

United Nations Secretary-General Mr António Guterres,

Excellencies Heads of State and Government,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Seventy-eight years ago, in the aftermath of the Second World War, the nations of the world made a solemn commitment to save future generations from the horror and the suffering of war.

Through the United Nations Charter these nations accepted a shared mandate to foster peace and to promote fundamental human rights, social progress and a better standard of life for all. 

And yet, as we gather here, much of humanity is confronted by war and conflict, by want and hunger, by disease and environmental disaster.

Solidarity and trust between states is being eroded. 

Inequality, poverty and unemployment are deepening.

In these conditions and in the wake of a devastating global pandemic, the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals seem increasingly remote.

At the moment when every human effort should be directed towards the realisation of Agenda 2030, our attention and our energies have once again been diverted by the scourge of war.

But these woes, these divisions, these seemingly intractable troubles, can and must be overcome.

Over millennia, the human race has demonstrated an enormous capacity for resilience, adaptation, innovation, compassion and solidarity.

At this moment, we are all called upon to reaffirm these essential qualities that define our common humanity.

These qualities must be evident in how we work together as a global community and as nations to end war and conflict.

Democratic South Africa has consistently advocated for dialogue, negotiation and diplomacy to prevent and end conflict and achieve lasting peace. 

It has committed itself to the promotion of human rights, human dignity, justice, democracy and adherence to international law. 

From the experience of our own journey from apartheid to democracy, we value the importance of engaging all parties to conflicts to achieve peaceful, just and enduring resolutions. 

It is these principles that inform South Africa’s participation in the African Peace Initiative, which seeks a peaceful resolution of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. 

In this conflict, as in all conflicts, we have insisted that the UN Charter’s principle of respect for the territorial integrity of every country should be upheld.

Our participation in the African Peace Initiative is informed by a desire to see an end to the suffering of those most directly affected by the conflict and the millions on our continent and across the world who, as a result of the conflict, are now vulnerable to worsening hunger and deprivation.

As the international community, we must do everything within our means to enable meaningful dialogue, just as we should refrain from any actions that fuel the conflict.

As we confront other conflicts in several parts of the world, including on our continent Africa, we need to be investing in prevention and peacebuilding. 

We support the call by the UN Secretary-General in the New Agenda for Peace for Member States to provide more sustainable and predictable financing to peacebuilding efforts. 

As a global community, we should be concerned by recent incidents of unconstitutional changes of government in some parts of Africa.

The global community needs to work alongside the African Union to support peace efforts in the eastern DRC, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Mali, Central African Republic, South Sudan, northern Mozambique, the Great Lakes Region, the Sahel, Niger and the Horn of Africa.

The African Union Peace and Security Council has declared that it stands ready to deepen its cooperation with the UN Security Council to silence the guns on the African continent and to achieve peace, stability and development.

We are called upon to remain true to the founding principles of the United Nations, by recognising the inalienable right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination in line with the relevant UN General Assembly resolutions. 

We must work for peace in the Middle East. For as long as the land of the Palestinians remains occupied, for as long as their rights are ignored and their dignity denied, such peace will remain elusive. 

The actions of the Government of Israel have imperiled the possibility of a viable two state solution. 

The principles of the UN Charter on territorial integrity and on the prohibition on the annexation of land through the use of force must be applied in this situation.

South Africa continues to call for the lifting of the economic embargo against Cuba, which has caused untold damage to the country’s economy and people.

Sanctions against Zimbabwe should also be lifted as they are imposing untold suffering on ordinary Zimbabweans.

As many people around the world are confronted by hunger and want the essential human qualities of cooperation and solidarity must be evident in the actions we take to bridge the divide between wealthy and poor. 

We must summon the necessary will and resolve to regain the momentum towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. 

This means that we must address the fundamental development challenges that have long characterised our unequal world. 

To address the developmental challenges that face many people in the world we required targeted investment, technology transfer and capacity building support, especially in key areas such as industrialisation, infrastructure, agriculture, water, energy, education and health. 

This also requires predictable and sustained financial support, including supportive trade policies, from the international community.

We call on our partners from wealthier countries to meet the financial commitments they have made.

It is a great concern that these wealthier countries have failed to meet their undertakings to mobilise 100 billion dollars a year for developing economies to take climate action.

We support the proposals outlined in the Secretary-General’s Sustainable Development Goals Stimulus. 

In particular, we support the call to tackle debt and debt distress, to massively scale up affordable long-term financing to 500 billion dollars a year, and to expand contingency financing to countries in need. 

It is a grave indictment of this international community that we can spend so much on war, but we cannot support action that needs to be taken to meet the most basic needs of billions of people.

The achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals depends fundamentally on the empowerment of women in all spheres of life.

Social and economic progress will not be possible unless we end gender discrimination. We must ensure that there is equal access for women to health care, education and economic opportunities.

We must pay particular attention to the provision of adequate health services to every woman, child and adolescent. By doing so, we will fundamentally improve the health and well-being of all.

The empowerment of women must be central to the actions we now take towards the realisation of Agenda 2030.

The essential human qualities of innovation and adaptation must be evident in the actions we take to prevent the destruction of our planet.

Africa is warming faster than the rest of the world. 

We are told that of the 20 climate hotspots in the world, 17 are in Africa. 

Centuries after the end of the slave trade, decades after the end of the colonial exploitation of Africa’s resources, the people of our continent are once again bearing the cost of the industrialisation and development of the wealthy nations of the world.

This is a price that the people of Africa are no longer prepared to pay.

We urge global leaders to accelerate global decarbonisation while pursuing equality and shared prosperity.

We need to advance all three pillars of the Paris Agreement – mitigation, adaptation and support – with equal ambition and urgency. 

African countries, alongside other developing economy countries, need increased financial support to both implement the 2030 Agenda and achieve their climate change goals in a comprehensive and integrated manner.

We need to operationalise the Loss and Damage Fund for vulnerable countries hit hard by climate disasters, as agreed at COP27.

Africa has embraced this challenge.

Africa is determined to deploy smart, digital and efficient green technologies to expand industrial production, boost agricultural yields, drive growth and create sustained employment for Africa’s people.

As the global community, we must ensure the essential qualities that define our humanity are evident in the institutions that manage the conduct of international relations. 

We require institutions that are inclusive, representative, democratic and advance the interests of all nations.

We require a renewed commitment to multilateralism, based on clear rules and supported by effective institutions.

This is the moment to proceed with the reform of the United Nations Security Council, to give meaning to the principle of the sovereign equality of nations and to enable the council to respond more effectively to current geopolitical realities. 

We are pleased that the Common African Position on the reform of the Security Council is increasingly enjoying wide support. 

This process must move to text-based negotiations, creating an opportunity for convergence between Member States. 

We must ensure that the voice of the African continent and the global South is strengthened in the United Nations and broader multilateral system.

All the peoples represented here in this United Nations had their origins in Africa. 

In Africa, they developed the tools and capabilities to spread across the world and achievable remarkable feats of development and progress.

Despite its history, despite the legacy of exploitation and subjugation, despite the ongoing challenge of conflict and instability, Africa is determined to regain its position as a site of human progress.

Through the African Continental Free Trade Area, which is creating a wider seamless trading area of low tariffs and accelerated interconnectivity, African countries are mobilising their collective means and resources to achieve shared prosperity. 

Through the African Continental Free Trade Area, African countries are establishing the foundation for a massive increase in trade, accelerated infrastructure development, regional integration and sustainable industrialisation. 

As the global community, we have the means and we have the desire to confront and overcome the enormous challenges that face humanity today.

As the nations gathered here in this General Assembly, let us demonstrate that we have both the will and the resolve to secure a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable future for our world and for the generations that will follow.

I thank you.

Money Spent on War is 'Indictment' of World, Ramaphosa Says


South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the 78th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City, US on September 19, 2023. PHOTO | TIMOTHY A. CLARY | AFP


South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday denounced the billions of dollars spent on war instead of development as he renewed his call for diplomacy in Ukraine.

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly, Ramaphosa said it was time to "massively scale up" aid on development as the world falls short on ambitious UN-backed goals to end extreme poverty by 2030.

"It is a grave indictment of this international community that we can spend so much on war, but we cannot support action that needs to be taken to meet the most basic needs of billions of people," he said.

Ramaphosa said he spoke at the summit in New York to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about a peace initiative by African nations.

"As the international community, we must do everything within our means to enable meaningful dialogue, just as we should refrain from any actions that fuel the conflict," he said.

South Africa, along with other developing nations, considers itself neutral in the Ukraine war and has refused to isolate Moscow, recalling the former Soviet Union's support for ending apartheid.

But the US ambassador in South Africa has aired allegations that the country allowed arms shipments to Russia; a claim denied by Ramaphosa after an investigation.

In his speech, Ramaphosa stressed South Africa's democratic credentials and urged diplomacy after a string of military takeovers on the continent including in Niger.

"As a global community, we should be concerned by recent incidents of unconstitutional changes of government in some parts of Africa," he said.

Aid Groups Sounding Alarm in Libya as Hopes Faded for Flood Survivors


Rescuers gather in front of buildings that collapsed during floods after the Mediterranean storm "Daniel" hit Libya's eastern city of Derna, on September 14, 2023. PHOTO | AFP


Aid groups warned of growing risk posed by the spread of disease that could compound the humanitarian crisis in Libya, as hopes dwindled Saturday of finding more survivors days after deadly flooding.

Sunday's flash floods submerged the port city of Derna, washing thousands of people and homes out to sea after two upstream dams burst under the pressure of torrential rains triggered by the hurricane-strength storm.

Conflicting death tolls have been reported, with the latest issued on Saturday by the health minister of the eastern-based administration, Othman Abdeljalil, putting the number of lives lost at 3,166.

In Al-Bayda, 100 kilometres (60 miles) west of Derna, locals worked to clear roads and homes of the mounds of mud left behind by the deluge.

Aid organisations like Islamic Relief and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) have meanwhile warned the upcoming period could see the spread of disease as well as grave difficulties in delivering aid to those most in need.

Islamic Relief warned of a "second humanitarian crisis" after the flood, pointing to the "growing risk of water-borne diseases and shortages of food, shelter and medicine".

"Thousands of people don't have anywhere to sleep and don't have food," said Salah Aboulgasem, the organisation's deputy director of partner development.

"In conditions like this, diseases can quickly spread as water systems are contaminated," he added. "The city smells like death. Almost everyone has lost someone they know."

MSF meanwhile said it was deploying teams to the east to assess water and sanitation.

"With this type of event we can really worry about water-related disease," said Manoelle Carton, MSF's medical coordinator in Derna, who described efforts to coordinate aid as "chaotic".

But the Red Cross and the World Health Organization pointed out that contrary to widespread belief, the bodies of victims of natural disasters rarely pose a health threat.

An AFP journalist in Derna said central neighbourhoods on either side of the river, which normally dries up at this time of year, looked as if a steam roller had passed through, uprooting trees and buildings and hurling vehicles onto the port's breakwaters.

The spokesman for the eastern-based Libyan National Army, Ahmed al-Mesmari, on Friday night said the flood had affected "over 1.2 million people".

"Everything was washed away... the waters have completely cut off the roads in these regions," he said.

Stephanie Williams, a US diplomat and former UN envoy to Libya, urged global mobilisation to coordinate aid efforts in the wake of the flood in a social media post.

She warned of the "predilection of Libya's predatory ruling class to use the pretext of 'sovereignty' and 'national ownership' to steer such a process on their own and in a self-interested manner".

The United Nations launched an appeal for more than $71 million to assist hundreds of thousands in need.

"We don't know the extent of the problem," UN aid chief Martin Griffiths said Friday in Geneva, as he called for coordination between Libya's two rival administrations -- the UN-backed, internationally recognised government in Tripoli, and one based in the disaster-hit east.

The head of the eastern-based government, Oussama Hamad, said that "from Saturday, new measures will be applied in the disaster zone" to search for bodies and any survivors.

The area would be closed off to civilians and security services, he said, adding that "only Libyan and foreign search teams and investigators will have access".

The scale of the devastation has given way to shows of solidarity, as volunteers in Tripoli gathered aid for the flood victims in the east.

"Everyone in Tripoli is mobilised, and they're bringing us goods. Tomorrow, we hope that aid will be sent to Derna," said Mohamed Omar Benour, one of the volunteers. "We hope everything goes well, and may God help everyone."

Teams from the Libyan Red Crescent were "still searching for possible survivors and clearing bodies from the rubble in the most damaged areas" of Derna, its spokesman Tawfik Shoukri told AFP on Friday.

Other teams were trying to deliver much-needed aid to families in the eastern part of the city, which had been spared the worst of the flooding but was cut off by road, he added.

He pointed to the "very high" level of destruction in the city but refused to give figures for the number of victims.

The International Organization for Migration meanwhile said "over 38,640" people had been left homeless in eastern Libya, 30,000 of them in Derna alone.

Mali Rebels Claim to Have Captured Several Soldiers


Soldiers patrolling a desert in Mali. PHOTO | AFP



An alliance of armed groups in northern Mali said it has taken several soldiers prisoner and killed a dozen others, while losing eight of its own fighters in a recent operation.

The alliance -- which includes the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), a coalition of separatist groups dominated by ethnic Tuaregs -- also claimed it shot down two planes during the attack Sunday on two military camps.

Its account of events, which took place in the town of Lere in the Timbuktu region, diverged from that of the Malian army.

The army said five soldiers were killed and 11 others were missing. It admitted to having lost a plane, but said it had "neutralised" more than 30 assailants.

In a statement seen on social networks on Wednesday, the rebel groups reported that eight of their fighters had died and 12 were wounded, following three hours of fighting.

They said 35 soldiers were killed and dozens more injured. The pilot of one of the downed fighter jets had died, they added, while the second was not found.

"Six soldiers (were) taken prisoner, some of whom could soon be handed over to independent structures for health reasons," the statement, signed by the Permanent Strategic Framework (CSP), said.

It claimed they had taken "total control of the camps" Sunday before leaving them on Monday.

Information provided by both camps is difficult to verify in the remote area.

Sunday's operation was the latest attack against army positions in northern Mali, which, in addition to suffering frequent extremists' operations, has seen a resurgence of activity by separatist armed groups in recent weeks.

The CMA resumed its operations against the Malian army earlier this month, after months of tensions with the government. 

It had signed a peace agreement with the central state in 2015 intended to put an end to hostilities triggered by a 2012 rebel insurrection, which paved the way for armed groups linked to Al Qaeda to conquer most of the north.

The insurgencies triggered a military intervention by France and plunged the Sahel into conflict that has left thousands dead.

The militia groups have never stopped fighting the Malian state.

In recent weeks, the Al Qaeda-affiliated alliance Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM) has claimed several attacks on the army.

Ruto Blows Hot-cold on Regional Integration, a Year On


William Ruto, President of Kenya (C) and Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (R) at an Intergovernmental Authority on Development meeting for the resolution of the crisis in Sudan in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on July 10, 2023. PHOTO | FILE | NMG


Ruto became the first Kenyan President to visit Asmara, Eritrea, pushing for the re-admission of Eritrea back into Igad.

In June this year, Kenya signed the Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU, which aims to liberalise trade between the two parties.

Ruto in July signed into law a finance bill expected to generate more than $2.1 billion for the government’s depleted coffers.


Kenya’s President William Ruto is receiving a fair rating on his first year in office as far as regional integration is concerned, even though analysts point to domestic economic woes as a potential banana skin.

Since he was sworn into office on September 13 last year, Ruto has met all leaders in the wider eastern Africa. It fulfils a tradition set by his predecessors who also valued good neighbourliness and regional stability as an anchor point.

But while his charm offensive has also endeared him to the Western leaders, his tongue has created enemies back home and beyond.

His role in the Sudanese peace effort has been the notorious bump after the Sudan Armed Forces, one of the warring factions in Sudan questioned his sincerity and neutrality on the matter.

In April 2023, Ruto offered to mediate between warring sides in Sudan but Sudan's military government under Abdel Fattah al-Burhan rejected his offer. The beef is that Burhan thinks Ruto is an old pal of his rival, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, Burhan’s former deputy and now leader of the rival rebel group Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

Khartoum hasn’t provided proof yet, but has stuck on that point for the past three months, stalling any Ruto-led peace bids under the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad).

Dr Ruto’s year in office has seen him display loyalty to his friends at home and abroad, even though it has raised controversy in some quarters. His friends have come from places such as Sudan, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville and Sierra Leone.

“From his image perspective he is trying to hack an image of a Pan-African if you look from the optics, his Kaunda suits outfits, I think he has appeared to project himself as a Pan-Africanist. And remember the comments he has made on regional trade on how we need to trade in local currencies and increase intra trade,” said Ken Gichinga, chief economist at Mentoria Economics.

Sudan aside

“The posture has been for pan-African trade but the question one would ask is if the policies on taxation have complemented that. There is always what we call the narrative as opposed to the production side of things.”

President Ruto’s Cabinet Secretary for EAC Affairs Rebecca Miano says her boss has been consistent on integration and that the issue of Sudan should not be used against him.

“The president is sending a very strong message that he supports the integration,” Ms Miano told The EastAfrican on Thursday.

“I think he is the only president over the past one year that visited each and every country of East Africa. Within the EAC, President Ruto has played a major role in expansion plans for the regional bloc by continued support to peace efforts in Somalia, Ethiopia and in the Democratic Republic of Congo, insisting regional peace and stability is key to Kenya’s own stability,” she said.

Ruto became the first Kenyan President to visit Asmara, Eritrea, pushing for the re-admission of Eritrea back into Igad. Asmara had imposed a suspension on itself, protesting against Ethiopia’s alleged use of Igad to punish Eritrea. Ethiopia was then under Meles Zenawi when Eritrea under Isaias Afwerki stopped attending Igad meetings.

Now the two countries have warmer ties.

Miano, downplayed the issue of Sudan saying it was not a member of the EAC and his pro-peace efforts should be applauded instead of being frowned upon.

“Apart from promoting and deepening the integration, I think he is sending a message that Kenya is ready to take leadership in terms of policy and directing of the integration. That is why you see even the process of negotiating with Somalia to join the Community, that agenda in the last EAC summit was proposed by our president and the status of the EAC Regional Force. These efforts show his intention and focus on the EAC integration process.”

Ruto sustained bits of his predecessors’ policies, however. In November 2022, he sent 900 troops to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to join a regional force tasked with trying to calm deadly tensions fuelled by armed groups. The discussions had begun during Uhuru Kenyatta’s regime.

He recently hosted the EAC extraordinary summit to get an update of the peace process in the DRC where the mandate of the EAC Regional Force was extended for three months following a decision by the UN to withdraw the Monusco forces by year-end.

Dr Ruto has raised a profile as dependable ally to Western nations, taking a strong stand against Russia’s war in Ukraine and being openly critical of Vladimir Putin's withdrawal from a grain deal that let Ukrainian grain pass through the Black Sea, known as the Black Sea Grain Initiative. During the Uhuru Kenyatta days, when Kenya served on the UN Security Council, Kenya criticised the war but abstained on votes to reprimand Russia.

Under Ruto, Kenya has offered to dispatch police officers to Haiti to help fight escalating gang warfare. The US will be paying the cost.

On the international trade scene, President Ruto is pursuing a trade deal with the US after signing others with both the United Kingdom and the European Union.

In June this year, Kenya signed the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the EU, which aims to liberalise trade between the two parties, notably by offering Kenyan products duty-free access to the European market.

In return, Nairobi will gradually open its market to a greater number of European products.

However, the deal came under criticism from a section of civil society which argued that it flies against the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement ideals.

“Together with other relevant actors, we continue to call for urgent need to rethink the EPAs in order to make them address Africa’s longstanding challenges and aspirations for structural transformation, especially in line with the AfCFTA,” said Jane Nalunga Executive Director, the Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute.

She also argues that the negotiations for an EPA began before the admission of two EAC partner states namely South Sudan and the DRC and therefore Kenya should have not gone ahead to sign it without the input of her two new brothers.

Even though President Ruto has played a major role in expansion plans for the regional bloc, his economic policies back home have come under scrutiny from the EAC region.

There are those who argue that Kenya’s tax regime is not conducive for business within the EAC.

Ruto in July signed into law a finance bill expected to generate more than $2.1 billion for the government’s depleted coffers.

“If you look at changes in average retail prices of selected commodities in the last one year as captured in the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, this will tell you that our economy is not on the right track as some people want us to believe,” said Ndiritu Mureithi, an economist and former Governor Laikipia County.

The Kenya Association of Manufacturers last week moved to court to block sections of the Finance Act 2023 especially on the exports and investment levy, which kicked in on September 1.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Kenya DP Urges Sudan, DRC Leaders to Prioritize Peace


Kenya’s Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua. PHOTO | BILLY OGADA | NMG


Kenya's Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has called on African leaders in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to prioritise peaceful resolution of conflicts as a means to entice warring factions to end Violence.

Gachagua spoke to an audience at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Society's 10th Pan-African Conference Gala Dinner in Nairobi on Monday and argued for an urgent need to also address both natural and man-made disasters that have plagued Africa. 

Sudan and DRC are among the African countries with hottest conflicts today, killing thousands and displacing millions of people from their homes.

He argued the problem is mostly political and could be solved if both sides sat at a table for peacefully negotiations.

The Red Cross is among humanitarian organisations that are often involved in rescue work and relief supplies. One of the most consistent crises in the Horn of Africa has been drought. In Somalia, Red Cross officials say insecurity has made it difficult to provide life-saving humanitarian work.

In Sudan, they say new violence has displaced more people, but overall climate change has made it difficult to provide food.

"Dealing with man-made disasters is not fair. We deal with two problems on this continent, and it is not fair," Gachagua said.

"We face natural calamities like famine, drought, floods, and all, but we also deal with man-made disasters out of armed conflict in Africa," he added.

He acknowledged the profound impact of armed conflicts on neighbouring countries and urged African leaders to prioritise peace and diplomacy over territorial disputes and resource conflicts.

Kenya has been heavily involved mediation in South Sudan, Sudan, Ethiopia, DRC and across the entire African continent where it has sent peacekeeping missions.

“The armed conflicts in Sudan have immensely affected our tea export and have affected our people who were working there and have come back home, I call upon our brothers in Sudan, the generals, to lay down their arms, enter into peaceful negotiations, and find a peaceful solution to whatever problems they have in Sudan,” he said.

However, Sudan has been criticising the role of President Ruto claiming, without evidence, that he sides with rebels Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

In April, the RSF clashed with the Sudan Armed Forces (Saf), ending an alliance that had seen them topple a transitional government two years earlier.

Since then, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) created a Quartet led by Kenya and includes South Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti. Khartoum, however, rejected Nairobi's role.

In Nairobi, Gachagua extended the same plea to the leaders and armed factions in DRC, where Kenya had deployed soldiers to help maintain peace. Gachagua also stressed the importance of dialogue and negotiations for the sake of citizens and regional stability.

“We call upon the people of DRC to maintain peace and for all the armed leaders to give dialogue a chance for the sake of their citizens and for the sake of peace, not just in their country but in the region,” he urged.

Emphasizing the shared responsibility of African nations to foster an environment of peace, stability, and cooperation for the greater good of the continent.

Ali Bongo's Son Valentin Charged with High Treason, Graft


Noureddin Bongo Valentin, the eldest son of ousted president Ali Bongo Ondimba, attends the Gabon Marathon in Libreville, Gabon on December 1, 2019. PHOTO | AFP



The son of Gabon's deposed president Ali Bongo Ondimba and several of his allies have been charged with high treason and corruption and placed in custody, the state prosecutor told AFP on Wednesday.

'Bongo's eldest son Noureddin Bongo Valentin and former presidential spokesman Jessye Ella Ekogha, as well as four others close to the deposed leader, have been charged and placed in provisional detention," said Libreville prosecutor Andre-Patrick Roponat.

Bongo, 64, who had ruled the oil-rich country since 2009, was ousted by military leaders on August 30, moments after being proclaimed the winner in a presidential election.

The result was branded a fraud by the opposition and the military coup leaders, who have also accused his regime of widespread corruption and bad governance.

On the same day as the coup, soldiers arrested one of Bongo's sons, five senior cabinet officials and his wife Sylvia Bongo Valentin.

Botswana’s Annual Inflation Rate Drops to 1.2 Percent in August

By Xinhua 

September 20, 2023

Despite uncertainties in the micro- and macroeconomic environment, Botswana’s annual inflation rate performance continues to decline, Statistics Botswana, the country’s data authority, announced Monday.

According to Statistics Botswana, the annual inflation rate stood at 1.2 percent in August, registering a decrease of 0.3 percentage points from 1.5 percent in July.

“The main contributors to the annual inflation rate in August were the following groups: transport, food and non-alcoholic beverages, and miscellaneous goods and services,” said Statistician General Burton Mguni, adding that the group indices generally moved at a stable pace between July and August.

Botswanan Finance Minister Peggy Serame recently highlighted that Botswana’s monetary policy framework focuses on maintaining price stability by ensuring that inflation is kept within the Bank of Botswana’s target range of 3 to 6 percent, adding that the inflation is forecast to remain within the target range during the next few months.

Terrorist Attacks in Mali Claims Five Lives

By Xinhua 

September 20, 2023

Five Malian soldiers, together with about 40 terrorists, were killed in the attack on Malian Armed Forces in northern Mali, a statement from the Malian army said Tuesday.

On Sunday afternoon, the terrorists in vehicles and motorcycles stormed the camps of the National Guard Group and the Army in Lere, in northern Mali, said the statement, adding that 20 wounded and 11 missing were recorded on the army side.

Since 2012, Mali has been engulfed in a deep multi-faceted crisis at the security, political and economic levels. Independence insurgencies, jihadist incursions, and inter-communal violence have left thousands of people dead and hundreds of thousands more displaced in the West African nation.

Humanitarian Needs Remain High Across East Africa

By Xinhua 

September 20, 2023

Humanitarian needs remain high across the East Africa region, driven by conflict, poor macroeconomic conditions and the lasting impacts of weather shocks, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) has warned.

The FEWS NET, a provider of early warning and analysis on acute food insecurity, said in its latest East Africa Food Security Outlook issued late Monday that widespread crisis and emergency outcomes persist in the region, with a risk of more extreme outcomes in Ethiopia and South Sudan.

While improved rainfall during the March-to-May rainfall season is supporting slow recovery from the impacts of the 2020-2023 drought in the eastern Horn of Africa, it warned that humanitarian needs remain elevated among displaced populations and pastoral populations that became destitute during the drought.

“Very high concern exists for severe acute food security outcomes in the northern conflict-affected Tigray region and southern and southeastern drought-affected regions of Ethiopia amid the ongoing pause in humanitarian assistance,” the FEWS NET said.

It further warned that a credible risk of famine exists in South Sudan should a large-scale increase in conflict and extensive flooding in the rest of the season cut households off from food for a prolonged period.

The FEWS NET said humanitarian food assistance is mitigating more severe outcomes in many areas of East Africa and Yemen.

It, however, stressed serious concern remains for the inability of populations to meet their minimum food needs in areas where food assistance has been severely interrupted, such as in Sudan, or paused, such as in Ethiopia.

Russia to Hit Back Hard if Ukraine Attacks Crimea — Diplomat

"I would like to remind all Kiev extremists that the Crimea chapter was closed when its residents made their choice back in 2014, knowing what awaited them, that they would be 'smoked out' as Danilov put it, in different ways over all these years, economically, socially, in the humanitarian sense, based precisely on this nationalistic logic," Maria Zakharova noted

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova Alexander Ryumin/TASS

© Alexander Ryumin/TASS

MOSCOW, September 19. /TASS/. Any attempt by Ukrainian troops to infringe on Crimea with the use of force will be met with Russia’s immediate and tough response, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing.

"Any attempts to assault the peninsula will be met with an immediate and harsh response as before," she said, commenting on a statement by Alexey Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, who threatened to "smoke Russians out of Crimea" with weapons.

"I would like to remind all Kiev extremists that the Crimea chapter was closed when its residents made their choice back in 2014, knowing what awaited them, that they would be ‘smoked out’ as Danilov put it, in different ways over all these years, economically, socially, in the humanitarian sense, based precisely on this nationalistic logic," the diplomat added.

Brazilian President Calls BRICS Strategic Alternative to IMF, World Bank

"The recent decision taken by BRICS to invite new members to cooperate after the Johannesburg summit helps "strengthen efforts for the order that would reflect economic, geographical and political pluralism of the 21th century," Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva noted

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva AP Photo/Richard Drew

© AP Photo/Richard Drew

UNITED NATIONS, September 19. /TASS/. BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) is an alternative strategic platform for boosting cooperation between developing countries as traditional institutions of international economy management lose credibility, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Tuesday.

"The lack of equality and imbalances in the IMF’s and the World Bank’s management are unacceptable. <…> Amid this inertia there emerged BRICS, which is a strategic platform for promoting cooperation between developing countries," he said at the 78th session of the UN General Assembly.

The recent decision taken by the group of five countries to invite new members to cooperate in the BRICS format after the Johannesburg summit in August helps "strengthen efforts for the order that would reflect economic, geographical and political pluralism of the 21th century," the politician noted. "We are a power that works on establishing fairer global trade in the light of severe crisis of multisided institutions," he pointed out.

The decision on Argentina, Egypt, Iran, the UAE, Saudi Arabi and Ethiopia becoming full members of BRICS was taken at the BRICS summit that took place in Johannesburg under South Africa’s chairmanship in late August. The membership will take effect from January 1, 2024.