Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Nigeria’s Bola Tinubu Declared Winner of Presidential Vote


Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress, center, celebrates with supporters at the party's campaign headquarters after winning the presidential elections in Abuja, Nigeria, Wednesday, March 1, 2023. Election officials declared ruling party candidate Tinubu the winner of Nigeria's presidential election with the two leading opposition candidates already demanding a re-vote in Africa's most populous nation. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Ruling party candidate Bola Tinubu was declared winner of Nigeria’s presidential election early Wednesday, with the two leading opposition candidates already demanding a revote in Africa’s most populous nation.

Election officials’ overnight announcement was likely to lead to a court challenge by his main opponents Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi. Abubakar also finished second in the last vote in 2019, then appealed those results before his lawsuit ultimately was dismissed.

On Tuesday, the two leading opposition parties had demanded a revote, saying that delays in uploading election results had made room for irregularities. The ruling All Progressives Congress party urged the opposition to accept defeat and not cause trouble.

Tinubu received 37% of the vote, or nearly 8.8 million, while main opposition candidate Abubakar won 29% with almost 7 million. Third-place finisher Obi took 25% with about 6.1 million, according to the results announced on live television by the Independent National Electoral Commission.

Tinubu “having satisfied the requirements of the law, is hereby declared the winner and is returned elected,” said the country’s election chief, Mahmood Yakubu.

The announcement came after 4 a.m., but celebrations already had started late Tuesday at the ruling party’s national secretariat where Tinubu’s supporters had gathered in anticipation of his victory.

“None of the others matches his record!” said Babafemi Akin as he chatted excitedly about the prospects of a Tinubu administration. “I am sure he will do well.”

Tinubu, 70, is the former governor of Lagos state, home to Nigeria’s megacity of the same name. However, he lost the state in Saturday’s election to Obi, who drew a strong following among younger voters eager for change.

The parties now have three weeks to appeal results, but an election can be invalidated only if it’s proven the national electoral body largely didn’t follow the law and acted in ways that could have changed the result.

The Supreme Court of Nigeria has never overturned a presidential election, though court challenges are common, including by outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari, who doggedly fought his past election losses for months in vain.

Nigeria’s presidential election has been closely watched as the country is not only the continent’s largest economy but it is also one of the continent’s top oil producers.

Observers have said Saturday’s election was mostly peaceful, though delays caused some voters to wait until the following day to cast their ballots. Many Nigerians had difficulties getting to their polling stations because of a currency redesign that resulted in a shortage of bank notes.


Associated Press journalists Taiwo Ajayi in Abuja, Nigeria; Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal; and Sam Mednick in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso contributed.

Ugandan, South African Leaders Urge Greater Trade in Africa


Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, centre, wearing a mask, inspects a guard of honour during a welcoming ceremony in Pretoria, South Africa, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023. Museveni's visit is directed at consolidating bilateral relations between the two countries, with discussions between the two Heads of State encompassing political, economic, regional, continental and international issues. (AP Photo)

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has called for stronger trade relations among African countries and lamented the high cost of buying products and services outside the continent.

Museveni on Tuesday began a state visit to South Africa in a bid to encourage better economic ties between Uganda and Africa’s most developed economy.

He met with President Cyril Ramaphosa accompanied by members of his cabinet who were scheduled to meet with their South African counterparts and sign various trade and bilateral agreements.

Making brief remarks ahead of the meeting with Ramaphosa, Museveni emphasized the importance of intracontinental trade, while highlighting some of the challenges that were making this difficult to achieve.

Among some of his priorities were the procurement of coal from South Africa to be used to transform Uganda’s high-grade iron ore into steel, Museveni said.

“Our part of the world, as you can see, is very far from the ocean, 1,000 miles,” he said.

“Bringing steel products from China, India and Ukraine, in the past, is very expensive, the freight alone is bigger than even the cost of the product itself,” said Museveni. “So it is very important that we develop an inland steel industry for Uganda and those areas around there. We need coal from South Africa.”

Museveni said it is important for the continent to be peaceful in order for intracontinental trade to be successful.

“This will be a free trade area only if it is peaceful. But now the whole place is in chaos,” he said.

Ramaphosa said South Africa sees Uganda as an important partner in East Africa and lauded its contribution to “regional economic and political integration as well as regional peace and stability.”

The South African leader said that “as a continent we need to continue to work towards the peaceful resolution of conflict and emphasize dialogue over military confrontation. ... South Africa remains deeply concerned about recent developments in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. We strongly condemn the upsurge of conflict, being fuelled by armed groups.”

South Africa and Ugandan ministers signed bilateral and economic agreements in various sectors including tourism, transport and agriculture.

Museveni and Ramaphosa were scheduled to address a South Africa-Uganda business forum later on Tuesday.

Uganda is South Africa’s 15th-largest trading partner in Africa and the second largest in East Africa, according to South African government figures.

Between 2017 and 2021 total trade between the two countries reached a peak of $162 million.

South Africa’s exports to the Republic of Uganda amounted to $169 million in 2018, while its imports from Uganda increased from $6.8 million in 2017 to $17.5 million in 2020.

Protestant Council of Rwanda Bars Abortions in its Clinics


FILE - A mother reaches out to hold the hand of her young daughter, as they walk home after a church service in the village of Rwinkwavu, near to Akagera National Park, in Rwanda on Sept. 6, 2015. The Protestant Council of Rwanda in Feb. 2023 has directed all health facilities run by its members to stop carrying out all abortions, further limiting access to the procedure in the largely Christian nation of 13 million people. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)

KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) — The Protestant Council of Rwanda has directed all health facilities run by its members to stop carrying out all abortions, further limiting access to the procedure in the largely Christian nation of 13 million people.

The council’s decision earlier this month described abortion as a sin, echoing the stance of Rwanda’s more widely followed Catholic Church but conflicting with the East African country’s law which permits abortions for specific reasons.

The statement signed by 26 Protestant religious organizations instead called on parents to “guide” their daughters to seek abstinence until marriage.

Abortion previously was illegal in Rwanda, with a prison sentence for anyone who had an abortion or helped in terminating a pregnancy. But the law was changed in 2018 to say abortion is allowed in cases such as rape, forced marriage, incest or cases where pregnancy poses a health risk. The law requires that abortions be carried out only after consultations with a doctor.

“For us, we have our belief, and our belief cannot be taken away by the law. We are not opposing the law, but our belief does not allow us to support abortion,” Laurent Mbanda, the head of the Anglican Church in Rwanda, told The Associated Press.

He said the best way the council’s member health facilities can handle abortion cases is to make referrals to other hospitals.

The decision affects about 10% of Rwanda’s largest health facilities. The Catholic church owns 30% of the country’s health centers, most of them in rural areas, Cardinal Antoine Kambanda, the head of the church in Rwanda, told the AP.

Rwanda’s government views the Protestant Council’s decision on the sensitive matter as “undesirable,” an official from Rwanda’s health ministry told the AP. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Some human rights groups urged the Protestant Council to reconsider.

“The Protestant church stance is likely to alienate their followers and (make them) seek other alternatives like unsafe abortions that can risk the woman and can cause death. It is better to allow women to seek these services in their hospitals to save life,” said Aflodis Kagaba, executive director of Health Development Initiative.

Sylvie Nsanga, a prominent women’s rights advocate, condemned the religious stance, describing it as “a disappointment.”

Issues of sexual and reproductive health often face debate in the largely conservative country.

Last year, parliament rejected a bill proposed by some members of civil society that would have allowed girls aged 15 to 18 access to contraceptive services in the interest of curbing teenage pregnancies. Some Rwandan lawmakers, however, argued that the bill instead might give teenage girls a “green light” to be promiscuous.

Court Dismisses Case Against TotalEnergies’ Africa Projects


FILE - The logo of TotalEnergies is pictured in La Defense business district outside Paris, Tuesday, Sept.7, 2021. A Paris court is to rule on Tuesday Feb.28, 2023 on a case opposing French and Ugandan activist groups to oil giant TotalEnergies over a major oil field and pipeline projects in east Africa. The lawsuit has been filed in 2019 by six French and Ugandan rights and environmental groups, who accused TotalEnergies of failing to prevent human rights violations and risks of environmental damage.(AP Photo/Rafael Yaghobzadeh, File)

PARIS (AP) — A French court on Tuesday dismissed a case brought against TotalEnergies by activists contending that the energy company’s major oil projects in east Africa violated the human rights of the region’s inhabitants and posed environmental risks.

The court said the groups deviated from proceedings by presenting claims during a December court hearing that were “substantially different” those made in 2019 when they initially filed their lawsuit.

The six Ugandan and French groups said the company’s oil extraction and pipeline projects completely or partially adversely impacted the lands of approximately 118,000 people in Uganda and Tanzania and that tens of thousands are still awaiting compensation.

TotalEnergies has argued that its planning “has been implemented effectively” and that its Ugandan and Tanzanian affiliates “have applied the appropriate action plans to respect the rights of local communities and ensure respect for biodiversity.”

The company said about 8,500 households are affected in Uganda, most of which have received compensation. It added that most of about 9,500 households have signed a compensation deal in Tanzania, where the project is less advanced.

In a joint statement, the activist groups said they “strongly deplored” the ruling.

“It’s a very unfortunate decision,” Dickens Kamugisha, head of one of the groups, the Uganda-based African Institute for Energy Governance, told the Associated Press. He regretted the court’s ruling was based on procedural grounds and not on the merits of the case.

Juliette Renaud, from the Friends of the Earth France association, said the ruling is yet another opportunity missed by French justice “to put and end to multiple ongoing violations in Uganda and Tanzania.”

Pauline Tétillon, co-president of the French-based Survie group, said the ruling sidesteps the substance of the case which is the projects’ consequences on people, the environment and the climate.

Tuesday’s ruling was the first based on 2017 “duty of vigilance” legislation that makes big companies liable for risks to human rights and the environment — even if any infractions are committed by foreign affiliates and subcontractors.

Oil drilling has recently begun in Uganda in a field operated by China National Offshore Oil Corporation, CNOOC, as part of the joint deal with TotalEnergies. Production is expected to start by 2025. Both groups said last year that the total investment would be more than $10 billion.

Construction is to start this year on the 897-mile (1,443-kilometer) East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline, planned by TotalEnergies and CNOOC, between Uganda and the Indian Ocean port of Tanga in Tanzania. Authorities have described it as the world’s longest heated oil pipeline.

Uganda is estimated to have recoverable oil reserves of at least 1.4 billion barrels.

Some oil wells are to be drilled within western Uganda’s Murchison Falls National Park, where the Nile plummets 130 feet (40 meters) through a gap just 20 feet (6 meters) wide and the surrounding wilderness is home to hippos, egrets, giraffes and antelopes. The pipeline would then pass through seven forest reserves and two game parks, running alongside Lake Victoria, a source of fresh water for 40 million people.

That ecological fragility is one reason why some activists oppose the project despite assurances from TotalEnergies that the pipeline’s state-of-the-art-design will ensure safety for decades.

Ugandan authorities see the oil drilling project and the pipeline as key to economic development, saying oil wealth could help lift millions out of poverty. Some see condemnation of the pipeline as an assault on the country’s sovereignty.

President Yoweri Museveni vowed in September that the project would proceed, with or without TotalEnergies. Uganda would “find someone else to work with” if necessary, he said.

At the time, European Union lawmakers had passed a non-binding resolution urging the international community “to exert maximum pressure on Ugandan and Tanzanian authorities, as well as the project promoters and stakeholders” to stop oil activities in the region.

That resolution cited human rights concerns focusing on fair compensation for affected communities as well as environmental fears. _____

Rodney Muhumuza in Kampala, Uganda, contributed to the story.

Moroccan Jailed for Beheading European Hikers Kills Himself

RABAT, Morocco (AP) — A Moroccan convicted of belonging to an Islamic State-affiliated ring and sentenced to death for the beheadings of two Scandinavian tourists has killed himself in prison, Moroccan officials said.

The facility where he was held in the eastern city of Oujda said in a statement that staff found his body early Tuesday.

The prisoner was among convicted ring members jailed in 2019 over the gruesome killings of two young Scandinavian women, Louisa Vesterager Jespersen from Denmark and Maren Ueland from Norway. They were killed in December 2018 while on a backpacking trip in the Atlas Mountains, near the city of Marrakech.

The killings were recorded on video and posted online. They sent shockwaves through Morocco and raised concerns about the growing threat of Islamist extremism in North Africa and beyond.

A Moroccan court convicted three men of terrorism and sentenced them to death, and a fourth suspect who fled the scene was given life in prison. The court also handed jail terms to 19 people convicted as accomplices.

Somalia Drought ‘Extremely Critical’ But no Famine Projected


NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Food security experts say life remains “extremely critical” for more than 6 million hungry people in Somalia’s historic drought, but they no longer project famine for the worst-hit population of nearly a quarter-million people between April and June.

The latest assessment released Tuesday by United Nations and partner organizations notes “very high mortality rates” in the worst-affected populations which include people who have fled to the capital, Mogadishu, and the southwestern city of Baidoa. It did not give details, and officials didn’t immediately respond.

The assessment only slightly eases the warnings of acute food insecurity as the Horn of Africa faces the possibility of a sixth straight failed rainy season in the weeks ahead. Some humanitarian and climate officials in recent weeks have warned that trends are worse than in the 2011 famine in Somalia in which a quarter-million people died.

Millions of livestock have died in the current crisis compounded by climate change and insecurity as Somalia battles thousands of fighters with al-Qaida’s East Africa affiliate, al-Shabab. The U.N. migration agency says 3.8 million people are displaced, a record high.

The new food security assessment says nearly a half-million children in Somalia are likely to be severely malnourished this year.

The previous assessment released in December had projected famine for the people displaced to Mogadishu and Baidoa along with rural communities in Baidoa and Burhakaba districts. But the new assessment says more humanitarian aid and slightly better forecasts for the rainy season ahead “will likely contribute to a slight alleviation of the food insecurity and acute malnutrition conditions, including improved access to water.”

That depends, however, on the rainfall and whether aid can reach the most vulnerable people, the assessment says.

Famine is the extreme lack of food and a significant death rate from outright starvation or malnutrition combined with diseases like cholera. A formal famine declaration means data shows more than a fifth of households have extreme food gaps, more than 30% of children are acutely malnourished and over two people out of 10,000 are dying every day.

Doctor: Hospital in Disputed Somaliland City Shelled, 1 Dead


MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — At least one person was killed and several were injured when the main hospital in a disputed city in East Africa’s Somaliland region came under mortar fire during an upsurge of violence Tuesday, a doctor said.

Dr. Ahmed Abdi told The Associated Press by phone from Las-Anod that four shells struck the hospital. He said some of the eight people wounded were in critical condition. Two of the hospital’s three ambulances were destroyed.

Among the wounded were patients recovering from earlier fighting that has killed dozens of people. The hospital faces a shortage of drugs, the doctor said.

Diplomats and humanitarian groups have raised the alarm about the fighting in Las-Anod between security forces of Somaliland, which separated from Somalia three decades ago and seeks international recognition as an independent country, and clan militia who wish to be part of Somalia. More than 185,000 people have been displaced and tens of thousands have fled into Ethiopia, the United Nations says.

In a statement, Somaliland’s defense ministry denied that the army shelled the hospital and described such reports as “fake news” intended to damage the army’s reputation. Somaliland’s government has blamed the unrest on fighters with “anti-peace groups and terrorism” and alleged that the al-Shabab extremist group has supported some attacks.

On Sunday, the medical charity Doctors Without Borders, also known by its French acronym MSF, said at least 35 dead people and more than 60 wounded had arrived at the hospital it supports in Las-Anod as “fierce fighting” resumed in the area after attempts at a cease-fire and talks.

“Unfortunately, we learnt of the tragic killing of a colleague today as a result of the indiscriminate violence,” MSF said, and warned that the hospital was approaching its capacity.

“Indiscriminate shelling of civilians is unacceptable and must stop,” the U.N. and international partners said earlier this month. Last week, Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi met with the visiting U.S. deputy chief of mission about the crisis.

Somaliland and the Somali state of Puntland have disputed Las-Anod for years, but the eastern city has been under Somaliland’s control.

Moldova: Anti-government Protest Stirs Fears of More Unrest


Marina Tauber the vice-president of Moldova's Russia-friendly Shor Party speaks during a protest initiated by the Movement for the People and members of Moldova's Russia-friendly Shor Party, against the pro-Western government and low living standards, in Chisinau, Moldova, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023. Thousands of protesters returned to Moldova's capital Tuesday to demand that the country'snew pro-Western government fully subsidize citizens' winter energy bills amid skyrocketing inflation. (AP Photo/Aurel Obreja)

CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — A new anti-government protest in Moldova’s capital Tuesday stirred fears of more unrest after thousands of demonstrators took to the streets to demand that the country’s new pro-Western government fully subsidize citizens’ winter energy bills and to “not involve the country in war.”

The protest in Chisinau was organized by a group calling itself Movement for the People and supported by members of Moldova’s Russia-friendly Shor Party, which holds six seats in the country’s 101-seat legislature.

Demonstrators waved Moldovan flags and honked horns, with many calling for the country’s president to step down. “Down with Maia Sandu!” they chanted, “Down with the dictatorship!”

Dozens of coaches had bussed in protesters from around the country, temporarily causing traffic jams as hundreds of police deployed to bolster security checked vehicles entering the capital. Shor Party leader, the exiled Moldovan oligarch Ilan Shor, accused police of trying to “thwart the peaceful rally.”

“Fighting one’s own people is the last refuge of tyrants and the beginning of their downfall,” Shor, who is named on a U.S. State Department sanctions list as working for Russian interests, said in a statement Tuesday.

It is the second anti-government rally held in Chisinau in two weeks and comes amid growing concerns of attempts to destabilize Moldova, Ukraine’s neighbor.

On Feb. 13, President Sandu outlined what she claimed was an alleged plot by Moscow to overthrow the government in order to put the nation “at the disposal of Russia,” and to derail it from its course to one day join the 27-nation E.U. Russia strongly rejected her claims.

In carrying out the plan, she said, the culprits would “rely on several internal forces, but especially on criminal groups such as the Shor formation and all of its derivatives.”

The Shor Party also initiated a series of anti-government protests which last fall rocked Moldova — a European Union-candidate member since last June — as it struggled to manage an acute energy crisis after Moscow dramatically reduced natural gas supplies.

Around the same time, Moldova’s government asked the country’s Constitutional Court to declare the Shor Party illegal. The country’s anti-corruption prosecutors’ office alleged the protests were partly financed with Russian money.

The protest also comes a day after Moldova’s Intelligence and Security Service, SIS, said it had expelled two foreign nationals who were caught carrying out “subversive actions” to destabilize Moldova.

The SIS said that the pair were actively monitoring and documenting social and political processes in Moldova, including protests it said were “organized in the capital by certain political forces.”


McGrath reported from Sighisoara, Romania.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Nigeria Opposition Rejects Early Vote Lead for Ruling Party


A man arranges local newspapers with preliminary presidential election results on a street in Lagos, Nigeria, Monday, Feb. 27, 2023. Each of the three frontrunners in Nigeria's hotly contested presidential election claimed they were on the path to victory Monday, as preliminary results trickled in two days after Africa's most populous nation went to the polls. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Tensions rose Monday during the counting of Nigeria’s hotly contested presidential election when representatives from the parties of the two main opposition candidates walked out in anger from the center where state-by-state results were being announced.

With 11 of Nigeria’s 36 states having reported as of Monday evening, ruling party candidate Bola Tinubu was leading with 46% of the 6.7 million counted votes so far. He was followed by the main opposition party candidate, Atiku Abubakar, who had 29%, and third party candidate Peter Obi, who had 20%.

In order to win, the candidate who leads the popular vote must also win at least a quarter of the votes in two-thirds of the states and the capital, Abuja.

Tempers flared Monday in Abuja where representatives of all the parties awaited the results. The two leading opposition parties claimed there were disparities between the results announced by the election commission and what their representatives learned at the polling stations.

“We are Nigerians and must defend our rights,” said Dino Melaye, a representative of the main opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party, led by Abubakar. Nigeria’s electoral law allows party representatives or agents to raise concerns about results while they are being announced by the election commission.

The country’s election chief, Mahmood Yakubu, dismissed claims of irregularities and said the results were authenticated by electoral officials.

Representatives for Nigeria’s ruling party accused the opposition parties of inciting violence and called on security forces to restrain them.

“If they don’t, a situation may well arise that none of us want, whereby people actually act on this incitement and begin to kill other people,” said Femi Fani-Kayode, former minister and part of the ruling party’s presidential campaign council. “And if that happens, I assure you it will be very difficult to restrain those on our own side not to retaliate.”

The ruling party pointed to Obi’s victory in the heavily coveted Lagos state, which is home to Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos, as proof that the vote was free and fair. It was a particularly hard loss for ruling party candidate Tinubu, who was once the governor of the state.

It was not immediately known how many ballots were cast in the other 25 states or which candidates stood to gain the most votes from those results.

After the last presidential election in 2019, it took four days for a victor to be declared. A runoff election will be held if no candidate secures at least a quarter of the votes from two-thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states and the capital city, in addition to receiving the highest number of votes.

On Monday, the African Union observer mission said voting had been delayed in more than 80% of polling units mainly because of logistical challenges caused by Nigeria’s currency swap program. The redesign of the Nigerian bank note, the naira, caused cash shortages nationwide, and voters and poll workers had difficulties getting to polling stations Saturday. Voters in some states had to wait until late in the evening to cast ballots, while in other states the election continued Sunday.

Observers from the missions of the African Union and the West African regional bloc known as ECOWAS said the election was generally “encouraging” except for isolated cases of violence that disrupted voting in some states.

Isolated cases of violence on election day led to the deaths of nine civilians, according to the Lagos-based SBM Intelligence company, pointing to a far more peaceful election than in previous years, when there were more deaths.

“Going by this trajectory, we are likely to have fewer deaths” during the election period compared to 2019,” said Confidence MacHarry, a security analyst with SBM Intelligence.


Associated Press journalists Taiwo Ajayi in Abuja, Nigeria and Sam Mednick in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso contributed.

Macron: ‘New Era’ in Economic, Military Strategy in Africa


French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech ahead of his visit in Central Africa, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Monday, Feb. 27, 2023. French President Emmanuel Macron unveiled his country's changing economic and military strategy in Africa for the coming years, as France's influence substantially declines on the continent. Macron begins an ambitious Africa trip on Wednesday to Gabon, Angola, the Republic of Congo and Congo.( Stefano Rellandini, Pool via AP)

PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to reduce the number of French troops in Africa under a “new security partnership” with the concerned nations and to roll out more ambitious economic policies, in a bid to boost France’s waning influence in the continent.

Macron called for opening a “new era” in a speech at the Elysee presidential palace, ahead of an ambitious trip on Wednesday to Gabon, Angola, the Republic of Congo and Congo.

He said France must move away from interfering in parts of Africa that it once ruled as a colonial power, saying the continent is no longer its “back yard.”

“There’s another path,” he said: “Addressing African countries as partners with whom we share interests and balanced, reciprocal, accountable responsibilities.”

He promised a “new security partnership” with reduced numbers of French troops on the continent.

Macron said French military bases won’t be closed, but will be transformed based on needs expressed by African partners.

“Our model must not be anymore military bases like those we have now,” he said. “Tomorrow, our (military) presence will go through bases, schools, academies, which will be jointly managed” by French and African staff.

“And I say it very clearly: France’s role is not to fix all problems in Africa,” he added.

Monday’s speech came at a time when France’s influence on the continent is facing its biggest challenges in decades. Growing anti-French sentiment has led to street protests in several West and North African countries.

In addition, historical economic ties that France had with the region are under pressure from the growing commercial presence of Russia, China and Turkey.

Macron acknowledged that Africa now is a “field of competition” and urged French businesses to “wake up” and get involved in the fight.

In the past year, French troops had to withdraw from Mali, which turned instead to private Russian military contractors of the Wagner group, and most recently from Burkina Faso, which also appears to increasingly look towards Moscow.

Macron denounced Wagner as “criminal mercenaries” whose role is to “protect faltering and putschist regimes.” He accused them of “predating” on natural resources and “committing violence against (local) populations” including rapes.

Last year, Macron announced the formal end of the so-called Barkhane military force after France withdrew its troops from Mali. French operations to help fight Islamic extremists in the Sahel region are now focusing mostly on Niger and Chad, where the country still has about 3,000 troops.

In Burkina Faso, Boubacari Dicko, the emir — or traditional chief — of the northern city of Djibo near the Malian border, said a renewed relationship between France and African countries could be based on a win-win partnership.

“Change is good” and “necessary” because French policies in recent years have been criticized for failing to restore security in the region, he said, adding: “The French army was here, but that didn’t prevent the jihadists from entering the country and expanding in the country every day.”

Macron, 45, is the first French president born after the end of colonial era. He has previously sought to extend France’s cooperation with English-speaking countries, such as Ghana and Kenya, and increase French investments in Africa’s private sector.

During this week’s tour, he will also visit Portuguese-speaking Angola, with an aim to develop links especially in agriculture and food industry, and energy, including oil and gas.

Yet Macron’s trip to central Africa already faces questions.

Some opposition activists in Gabon have denounced his visit, which they perceive as offering support to President Ali Bongo Ondimba — whose family has ruled since the 1960s — ahead of a presidential election later this year.

Similar questions have been raised in Congo, which faces a December presidential election.

Macron’s office said all French officials will remain neutral regarding these elections.

The Elysee stressed that Macron is traveling to Gabon mainly to attend a major climate-related summit on the preservation of forests.

He will also seek to show France’s commitment to improving economic and cultural relations with two French-speaking countries — neighbors Republic of Congo and Congo — through talks with authorities as well as with ordinary citizens, entrepreneurs, artists and activists, according to the Elysee.

Macron denounced Monday the offensive in east Congo by the M23 rebel group linked with neighboring Rwanda as an “unacceptable regression.” Fighting intensified in recent days, with “terrible consequences” for the population, Macron said. “The unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Congo cannot be called into question,” he said.


AP Writer Sam Mednick in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, contributed to this story.

U.N. Suspends Flights in East DR Congo After Helicopter Fired On


GOMA, Congo (AP) — A United Nations helicopter came under heavy fire in eastern Congo, bringing the organization to suspend flights in the conflict-riddled region, the U.N. said Monday.

A helicopter returning from Walikale to the regional capital, Goma in North Kivu province, came under attack for 10 minutes last week but was able to land safely in Goma with all three crew and 10 passengers unharmed, said a statement by the U.N.’s World Food Program.

Flights have been suspended on specific routes in the region until the security situation can be reassessed, said the U.N. The helicopter delivers assistance to some of Congo’s most remote areas which would otherwise be inaccessible because of poor roads or insecurity.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but this is the second time this month that a U.N. helicopter came under fire in North Kivu province. The previous incident was a helicopter with the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Congo, known as MONUSCO, and killed a South African peacekeeper and injured another. The United Nations Security Council said the deliberate targeting of peacekeepers could constitute war crimes.

Fighting in eastern Congo has been simmering for decades as more than 120 groups fight for power, land and valuable mineral resources — while others try to defend their communities. The violence spiked in late 2021 when M23 rebels, which had been largely dormant for nearly a decade, resurfaced and started capturing territory.

The fighting has internally displaced more than 5 million people, threatening many civilians with starvation, according to several aid groups.

“For armed groups seeking to force civilians under their control, firing at aircraft may prove an easy way to suspend aid deliveries and influence food supplies into an area,” said Benjamin Hunter, Africa analyst at Verisk Maplecroft, a risk intelligence firm.

President Points to Need to React to Aggression Amid Attempts to Stir Things Up in Belarus

Alexander Lukashenko stressed that "given the current domestic developments and, most importantly, the external situation, I would like to hear your assessments of the internal political and military situation around Belarus"

Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko  Peter Kovalev/TASS

Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko

© Peter Kovalev/TASS

MINSK, February 27. /TASS/. Attempts are being made to stir up the situation in Belarus so the country’s law enforcement agencies should react to the slightest aggression, President Alexander Lukahsneko said on Monday.

"We are talking about discipline and doing your duty. Particularly on the border,"he noted at a meeting with senior law enforcement officials, according to the BelTA news agency. "This concerns the police, the KGB and military officers, as all of us should be able to detect the slightest aggression on the border against our country in order to take the necessary retaliatory measures,"Lukashenko added.

"They will use any opportunity to stir up the situation in Belarus. And they will continue to do that. I ask and demand that you comply with these instructions,"the Belarusian president said.

He stressed that "given the current domestic developments and, most importantly, the external situation, I would like to hear your assessments of the internal political and military situation around Belarus.""I would like to reiterate and demand that you maintain the strictest discipline in the units of the Interior Ministry and the KGB,"the head of state emphasized. According to him, there are a lot of military service members in Belarus. "They are all armed. These are people who are focused on defending their Fatherland. We need to take advantage of that,"Lukashenko said.

Ahead of a three-day visit to China, the president held a closed-door meeting with senior law enforcement officials, including the state secretary of the country’s Security Council, the interior and defense ministers, as well as the chairmen of the KGB and the State Border Committee.

Minsk, Beijing to sign papers on cooperation in politics, economy — envoy

According to Xie Xiaoyong, the sides will have an in-depth exchange of opinions on bilateral relations, as well as main international and regional issues

MINSK, February 27. /TASS/. Minsk and Beijing will sign a number of documents on cooperation, including in politics, economy and trade, during Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s visit to China, Chinese envoy to the republic Xie Xiaoyong said Monday.

"A number of papers will be signed in such areas as politics, economy, trade, finances, industry, agriculture, science and technology, sports, tourism, healthcare, inter-regional cooperation, mass media and others," he said in an interview for BelTA.

According to the envoy, the sides will have an in-depth exchange of opinions on bilateral relations, as well as main international and regional issues.

"Every visit of Alexander Lukashenko to China brings the bilateral relations further and becomes a milestone event in the history of the Chinese-Belarusian relations," the diplomat added.

Lukashenko will make a state visit to the People’s Republic of China on February 28 and March 2. He will have negotiations with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in both narrow and expanded attendance.

Putin, Lukashenko always in touch, not every interaction reported — Kremlin

Earlier, the Belarusian leader said that he had a lengthy conversation with Putin on February 24

MOSCOW, February 27. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko maintain constant contact while the Kremlin does not report every interaction between them, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a conversation with journalists on Monday.

"The presidents interact rather frequently and we do not report their every contact by far. They are indeed constantly maintaining very intensive, close dialogue," he said.

Earlier, Lukashenko said that he had a lengthy conversation with Putin on February 24.

Before that, the presidents interacted in person in Novo-Ogaryovo on February 17.

Putin to Approve New Foreign Policy Concept Soon — Lavrov

Lavrov arrives on working visit in Azerbaijan

The top diplomat's visit is timed to the first anniversary of the bilateral declaration on allied cooperation, which was signed on February 22, 2022

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Valery Sharifulin/TASS

© Valery Sharifulin/TASS

BAKU, February 27. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has arrived on a working visit to Azerbaijan, a TASS correspondent reported on Monday.

The Russian top diplomat is expected to be received by President Ilham Aliyev and to have talks with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Jeyhun Bayramov.

Lavrov’s visit is timed to the first anniversary of the bilateral declaration on allied cooperation, which was signed on February 22, 2022. During his stay in Azerbaijan, Lavrov will address the entire spectrum of bilateral issues, current international and regional problems. Special attention will be focused on the implementation of the trilateral agreements between the Russian, Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders.

The top diplomat emphasized that Russia would continue implementing its independent foreign policy

MOSCOW, February 27. /TASS/. An updated version of Russia’s foreign policy concept should be approved by the president in the near future, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said opening a meeting with the heads of the Foreign Ministry’s branches in Russian regions on Monday.

"The changes that are underway worldwide have been reflected in the draft of the foreign policy concept, it should be approved by the president in the very near future, we are hoping for this," the Russian top diplomat said.

He emphasized that Russia would continue implementing its independent foreign policy. "It is directed on all fronts and we are ready for equitable, mutually beneficial relations with all those displaying reciprocal readiness. Only on equitable and mutually beneficial terms. The West’s attempts to impose its will on all others, to impose its so-called rules based on which it wants to retain a pro-Western order are futile and absolutely hopeless," Lavrov said.

According to him, at this point, the Russian Foreign Ministry will be working with redoubled vigor in the country’s interests, ensuring favorable external conditions for its development and bolstering the well-being of Russians as well as the country’s security.

Kremlin points to West’s reluctance to hear Russia’s concerns

The press secretary of the President of the Russian Federation assessed the reaction of Western countries to Moscow's decision to suspend participation in the START Treaty

MOSCOW, February 28. /TASS/. The West’s reaction to Moscow’s move to halt New START shows that it is reluctant to hear Russia’s concerns, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov believes.

In an interview with Izvestia released on Tuesday, he said, "Judging from the fact that within an hour after the world heard [Russian] President [Vladimir Putin]’s decision [to suspend New START] we could witness the official statements by NATO General Secretary [Jens Stoltenberg], the [US] Department of State, and the White House, the information was certainly sensitive for them."

"In the statements, we could hear them condemn Russia uncompromisingly, while being reluctant to take heed of Russia’s concerns. They stubbornly prefer not to hear Putin’s arguments," Peskov lamented.

Russian Forces Strike Ukrainian Army’s Electronic Intelligence Center in Kiev Region

It is reported that Russian forces eliminated roughly 60 Ukrainian troops and two enemy howitzers in the Kherson area over the past day

© Vladimir Gerdo/TASS

MOSCOW, February 27. /TASS/. Russian forces struck the Ukrainian army’s electronic intelligence center in the Kiev Region over the past day during the special military operation in Ukraine, Defense Ministry Spokesman Lieutenant-General Igor Konashenkov reported on Monday.

"In the area of the settlement of Brovary in the Kiev Region, the Ukrainian army’s radio-electronic intelligence center was struck," the spokesman said.

Russian forces struck Ukrainian manpower and equipment in the Kupyansk area, eliminating roughly 70 enemy troops in the past day, Konashenkov reported.

"In the Kupyansk area, units of the western battlegroup inflicted damage on the enemy manpower and equipment in areas near the settlements of Novosyolovskoye in the Lugansk People’s Republic, Dvurechnaya, Gryanikovka, Masyutovka, Olshana, Liman Perviy and Sinkovka in the Kharkov Region," the spokesman said.

Russian forces eliminated enemy personnel and equipment during the battles, the general said.

"As many as 70 Ukrainian troops, three armored combat vehicles and two motor vehicles were destroyed in that area in the past 24 hours," Konashenkov reported.

Russian forces struck Ukrainian army units in the Krasny Liman area, killing and wounding roughly 140 enemy troops over the past day, he said.

"Forces of the battlegroup Center supported by operational/tactical aircraft, artillery and heavy flamethrower systems inflicted damage on the Ukrainian army units in areas near the settlements of Yampolovka and Torskoye in the Donetsk People’s Republic, Chervonopopovka and Chervonaya Dibrova in the Lugansk People’s Republic as a result of their active operations in the Krasny Liman direction," the spokesman said.

The enemy lost about 140 troops killed and wounded, three armored combat vehicles, three motor vehicles, a Gvozdika self-propelled howitzer and a D-20 howitzer in that area in the past 24 hours, the general specified.

Russian forces supported by combat aircraft, artillery and heavy flamethrower systems destroyed over 250 Ukrainian troops in the Donetsk area over the past day, Konashenkov reported.

"In the Donetsk area, over 250 Ukrainian troops, two tanks, four armored combat vehicles, five motor vehicles and a D-20 howitzer were destroyed in the past 24 hours as a result of the continued advance by units of the southern battlegroup supported by air strikes, artillery and heavy flamethrower fire," the spokesman said.

In the area of Artyomovsk in the Donetsk People’s Republic, Russian forces obliterated an ammunition depot of the Ukrainian army’s 72nd mechanized brigade, the general added.

"Also, in the area of the settlement of Novomarkovo in the Donetsk People’s Republic, a US-made AN/TPQ-37 counter-battery radar was destroyed," Konashenkov reported.

Russian forces delivered massive strikes on Ukrainian troops in the southern Donetsk and Zaporozhye areas over the past day, he said.

"In the southern Donetsk and Zaporozhye areas, units of the battlegroup East inflicted damage by combined firepower on the Ukrainian army units in areas near the settlements of Ugledar, Nikolskoye and Prechistovka in the Donetsk People’s Republic and Zelyony Gai in the Zaporozhye Region," the spokesman said.

The Ukrainian army’s losses in that area in the past 24 hours amounted to "95 Ukrainian personnel, one tank, three armored combat vehicles, a motor vehicle, three pickup trucks and a D-20 howitzer," the general specified.

In the area of the settlement of Chervonoye in the Zaporozhye Region, Russian forces obliterated a Ukrainian ammunition depot, he added.

Russian forces eliminated roughly 60 Ukrainian troops and two enemy howitzers in the Kherson area over the past day, Konashenkov reported.

"In the Kherson area, as many as 60 Ukrainian troops, four motor vehicles and two D-30 howitzers were destroyed in the past 24 hours as a result of damage inflicted by firepower," the spokesman said.

In addition, Russian forces wiped out an ammunition depot of the Ukrainian army’s 63rd mechanized brigade near the community of Snigiryovka in the Nikolayev Region, the general added.

Russian forces destroyed a Ukrainian Buk-M1 anti-aircraft missile system and an air defense radar over the past day, Konashenkov reported.

"A Ukrainian Buk-M1 self-propelled anti-aircraft missile system was destroyed near the community of Andreyevka and a 36D6 low-altitude target detection radar was obliterated near the settlement of Dobropolye in the Donetsk People’s Republic," the spokesman said.

Russian forces delivered a strike on the Ukrainian army’s special operations center in Khmelnitsky over the past day, Konashenkov reported.

"In the past 24 hours, operational/tactical and army aviation, missile troops and artillery of the Russian group of forces struck 98 Ukrainian artillery units at firing positions, manpower and military equipment in 173 areas. In the area of the city of Khmelnitsky, the special operations center West was struck," the spokesman said.

Russian air defense forces shot down four HIMARS rockets and destroyed five Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles over the past day, Konashenkov reported.

"In the past 24 hours, air defense capabilities shot down four rockets of the HIMARS multiple launch rocket system. In addition, they destroyed five Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles in areas near the settlements of Kremennaya and Stelmakhovka in the Lugansk People’s Republic, Kremenets and Novoandreyevka in the Donetsk People’s Republic and Krynki in the Kherson Region," the spokesman said.

In all, the Russian Armed Forces have destroyed 390 Ukrainian combat aircraft, 211 helicopters, 3,248 unmanned aerial vehicles, 406 surface-to-air missile systems, 8,058 tanks and other armored combat vehicles, 1,045 multiple rocket launchers, 4,228 field artillery guns and mortars and 8,574 special military motor vehicles since the beginning of the special military operation in Ukraine, Konashenkov reported.

Russia to Continue Special Op Until it Attains its Goal, Kremlin Spokesman Insists

The press secretary of the President of the Russian Federation commented on the plan presented by China to resolve the situation in Ukraine

MOSCOW, February 28. /TASS/. It is currently impossible to discuss ways out in Ukraine, and the special military operation will continue until the goals are attained, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in an interview with Izvestia.

Commenting on the Ukraine peace plan put forward by China, Peskov said, "The current developments, primarily, of course, in Kiev, have so far prevented us from expecting that the environment will be ripe for us to discuss the nuances. Therefore, the special military operation will continue until the goal is attained."

According to the Russian presidential spokesman, around half of the Chinese peace plan "echoes the initiatives which Moscow had put forward to the West and which were ignored."

"China is a huge and powerful country whose interests cannot be ignored by any international player," Peskov emphasized. "China is a country whose voice can somehow be heard in all international affairs and issues. Certainly, that voice should have made itself heard to outline their attitude to the Ukrainian crisis. And so this happened. China did voice its stance," he concluded.

On Friday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry published a 12-point peace plan for Ukraine, among other things calling for a ceasefire, prisoner exchanges between Moscow and Kiev, and steps to stop unilateral sanctions. Beijing stressed that dialogue and negotiations were "the only viable solution to the Ukraine crisis" and called on all sides to support Moscow and Kiev in "working in the same direction" and in resuming direct dialogue as soon as possible.

`A bit to early’ to discuss Putin’s running for presidency in 2024 – Kremlin spokesman

The press secretary of the President of Russia said that the prospects for their holding were called into question in the context of a special military operation

MOSCOW, February 28. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has not yet said whether he will be running for president in 2024, and it is too early to discuss such a possibility, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Izvestia.

When asked if Putin has already decided to run for reelection, Peskov said, "So far, there are no election campaign moods - Putin has much work to do. <…> We haven’t heard any announcements from him as to whether he would or would not run for the presidency. Hence, it is a bit too early yet. We just have to be patient."

However, Peskov said, "a decision has been made to hold the election anyway," even though the possibility of holding polls - the [regional] ones in September to be followed by the presidential election - was questioned" amid the special op.

"By the end or the middle of the second half of the year, we will somehow be entering the electoral season," Peskov announced.

West’s Crackdown on Sovereign States is 'New Colonialism' — Russian Security Council

Nikolay Patrushev recalled that recently there was another anniversary of the first French nuclear tests on Algerian soil (held in February 1960)

Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolay Patrushev Alexander Shcherbak/TASS

© Alexander Shcherbak/TASS

MOSCOW, February 27. /TASS/. The strategy of strangling sovereign states that the West is now resorting to is essentially a revival of the old methods of colonialism, the Secretary of Russia’s Security Council Nikolay Patrushev told the Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily during a visit to Algeria.

"The West’s strategy of strangling sovereign states is nothing but the revival of the old methods of colonialism, which collapsed in the middle of the 20th century, largely thanks to the efforts of the Soviet Union. The Algerian people were one of the first to rid themselves of the colonial yoke and set a successful example of the struggle for their freedom. The Algerians know better than anybody else: whatever disguise colonialism may use, it always brings evil," Patrushev said.

He recalled that recently there was another anniversary of the first French nuclear tests on Algerian soil (held in February 1960).

"Hundreds of thousands of Algerians are still suffering from the effects of dozens of nuclear explosions. I believe that we jointly need to urge the world community to remember these and other similar events, because there is no statute of limitations for such crimes," Patrushev emphasized.

He believes that it is the policy of the West that has made Africa and the Middle East one of the most unstable "hot" spots on the globe.

"We see the consequences of the West’s gross interference in the affairs of the region even today. In North Africa and the Middle East, there remain the hotbeds of tension they created, such as, for example, those in Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Syria and other countries. Which, in turn, contributes to the spread of terrorism and weapon and drug trafficking," he stated.

Hungary Afraid that Some EU Countries May Send its Troops to Ukraine — PM

Viktor Orban stressed that his government insists on settling the Ukrainian conflict by peaceful means and called on lawmakers to advocate this position

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban Alexei Nikolsky/TASS

© Alexei Nikolsky/TASS

BUDAPEST, February 27. /TASS/. Hungary’s government is worried to see weapons supplies to Ukraine and is afraid that some of the EU countries may send its troops there, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Monday.

He expressed serious concern that "entire Europe is sliding into a war step by step" as EU countries are sending tanks to Ukraine and are looking at supplying it with fighter jets. "If things continue this way, there will be those who may want to send troops to Ukraine," he said at the opening of the Hungarian parliament’s spring session.

He stressed that his government insists on settling the Ukrainian conflict by peaceful means and called on lawmakers to advocate this position. "They want to drag us into this war, but I am calling on you not to yield to provocations," Orban said.

"We need a ceasefire, we need peace talks. That is why Hungary insists on peace at all international forums," he said, adding that for these reason Hungary supports China’s peace plan for Ukraine.

He reiterated that he continues to be against the European Union’s anti-Russian sanctions, especially in the energy sector. He recalled that restrictions on fuel supplies had provoked a dramatic price rise and Hungary’s spending on energy sources had increased by ten billion euro in 2022. "Brussels has taken this money from the pockets of Hungarians with the use of sanctions," he added.

Relief Aid Delivered to Quake-hit Syria by Nearly 200 Planes from Foreign Countries

Of these, 70 landed and were unloaded at the Russian Khmeimim air base

© Пресс-служба Минобороны РФ/ТАСС

MOSCOW, February 27. /TASS/. Nearly 200 planes with humanitarian assistance have arrived in earthquake-ravaged Syria since February 7, with more than 70 of them landing and being unloaded at the Russian Hmeymim airbase, Oleg Gurinov, deputy chief of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Opposing Parties in Syria (a division of the Russian defense ministry), said on Monday.

"Humanitarian assistance from other countries continues to arrive with the help of the Russian group of forces as part of international cooperation. Thus, six freight planes arrived in Syria from the United Arab Emirates yesterday, with three of them landing at the Hmeymim airbase. Since February 7, as many as 198 planes with humanitarian assistance have arrived in Syria from 19 foreign countries. Seventy-three of them landed and were unloaded at the Russian airbase," he said, adding that more than 283 tons of humanitarian aid have been distributed among people.

According to Gurinov, Russian and Belarusian medics continue to offer medical services to Syrians hurt in the devastating earthquake in the field hospital. More than 1,400 people have received medical assistance since February 17.

Two powerful 7.7-magnitude and 7.6-magnitude earthquakes rocked Turkey’s Kahramanmaras province, located in the country’s southeast, on February 6. The tremors, followed by hundreds of aftershocks, were felt in ten provinces as well as in neighboring countries, including Syria.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Building Unity Against Imperialism in the 21st Century—Lessons from African American History and the Necessity of Ending Permanent Wars of Aggression and Conquest

United States wars of genocidal oppression have never benefitted oppressed nations and peoples across the globe

By Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Sunday February 26, 2023

African American History Month Series No. 8

Note: These remarks were prepared for and delivered in part at a panel discussion sponsored by the Michigan Peace Council. The event was held at the Swords into Plowshares Art Gallery located in downtown Detroit. In addition to Abayomi Azikiwe, other presenters were Steve Boyce of the U.S.-China Peoples Friendship Association in Ann Arbor; Dr. Catherine Wilkerson, an activist from Ann Arbor; and Mixx H., a member of Anakbayan USA Detroit chapter, a Filipino mass youth organization. The event was moderated by Bill Meyer, Chair of the MPC and Linda Rayburn, Vice-Chair. 


Since this is African American History Month in the United States, I will utilize this fact to illustrate the necessity of building unity against imperialism. 

Many African Americans historians such as Dr. Carter G. Woodson, who founded this commemorative month as Negro History Week in 1926; Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois and Shirley Graham Du Bois, pioneers in African and world scholarship and culture; Ms. Ida B. Wells-Barnett, the woman journalist, sociologist and organizer against lynching and for women’s suffrage; among many others, based their philosophical approaches on the critical importance of deconstructing the ideological falsehoods under which the U.S. has projected itself domestically and internationally.

Since the Civil War between 1861-65, the U.S. has been consistently exposed around the world for its failure to create a genuinely democratic society. Even with the decisive defeat of the Confederacy along with the passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution, the concepts of full equality and self-determination have remained unfulfilled. During the period of Reconstruction and its abandonment on a federal level in the decades after 1876 to the 20th Century, African Americans were subjected to racial terror through legal and extralegal means while at the same time being compelled to serve in wars which only benefited the capitalist class. 

Prior to the Civil War, people of African descent and indigenous people were not citizens of the country. The majority of Africans prior to 1860 lived in the Southern slave-owning states of the South. In many ways over the last 160 years, the actual status of African Americans has not fundamentally changed in a manner beneficial to the majority of the Black population.

If we look back on the so-called Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Libya, Syria and now Ukraine, none of these conflagrations have enhanced the social status of the African American people. In fact, the situation is quite to the contrary, when in the post-war periods within U.S. history there has been a wave of repression aimed further solidifying the yoke of oppression by the ruling interests.   

After the conclusion of the Spanish-American War where African Americans participated, there was an upsurge in lynching and other forms of racial persecution. Although African Americans were drafted in great numbers into World War I, they were forced to undergo humiliating forms of segregation while stationed in France on behalf of Washington and its allies, while at the same time Black soldiers were attacked at Camp Logan, near Houston, Texas in 1917, and later executed in great numbers by the military. Two years later the advent of racial terror in post-war events of 1919, popularly known as the Red Summer, resulted in further deaths of African Americans. During the summer of 1919, African Americans were attacked by white mobs, law-enforcement and military personnel in many municipalities including Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Knoxville, Tennessee.

Many African Americans died as a direct result of racial terror from 1919 until the Great Depression of 1929-1941, when the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt directly entered the Second World War in the Asia-Pacific and later North Africa and Europe. Over one million African Americans served in segregated military units during World War II where they were denied the same rights as their white counterparts.

After WWII, when the African American people demanded their rights as human beings living within a state which is purportedly based upon merit and equal opportunity, again on an institutional level, were met with a sharp rise in lynchings, police killings and a further intransigence on the part of municipalities, state and federal governments. We only need to point to the work of William Patterson, Paul Robeson, the Du Bois’, etc. when they presented a petition to the United Nations entitled “We Charge Genocide” in 1951. 

The U.S. invasion of the Korean Peninsula in June 1950 coincided with the Cold War which targeted many African Americans for their commitment to peace, civil rights and the abolition of Jim Crow domestically along with colonialism in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The struggle for fair treatment, equal access and universal suffrage became synonymous with communism by the federal government. 

By the early and mid-1960s, the U.S. government under two successive Democratic presidents, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, often hailed for their contributions to Civil Rights legislation, deployed hundreds of thousands of troops to Southeast Asia. After the assassination of Kennedy nearly 60 years ago, in the spring of 1965, a massive intervention in Vietnam had horrendous social consequences for African Americans. Black soldiers were disproportionately sent to the frontlines in Vietnam to die on the battlefield all the while their people were being denied the right to enter private businesses, public schools, neighborhoods and job categories in the U.S.

After the defeat of U.S. imperialism in Southeast Asia in 1975, the urban areas where African Americans had migrated during the course of the 20th century from the Rural South, were well into a spiral of structural and economic decline. The areas of the South where African Americans had toiled and struggled since the conclusion of the Civil War forced millions off the land they had worked for generations extending back into the antebellum era of enslavement.

Since 1975, there have been several genocidal wars in which the U.S. has participated as instigators and underwriters directly and indirectly. The Angolan war of liberation was opposed by the U.S. between 1961-1975. The post-independence war in Angola from 1975-89, was largely fueled by Washington and Wall Street in order to preserve their interests in Southern Africa. It was the Republic of Cuba, Soviet Union and other socialist states which supported the revolutionary movements against colonialism, settler-colonialism and apartheid at a time where the U.S. sided with the forces of reaction.

For these reasons alone, we must today oppose the U.S. proxy war in Ukraine. As the people of the U.S. and Western Europe continue to live under conditions of impoverishment and uncertainty caused by the ongoing class exploitation and national oppression, the administration of President Joe Biden has pledged over $100 billion to continue the war. The corporate and government-controlled media has played its traditional role of providing the propaganda and psychological warfare aimed at confusing the U.S. population in regard to the real reasons behind the war. 

Our Position in Opposition to the Ukraine War

Since the beginning of the Russian special military operation in neighboring Ukraine on February 24, 2022, there has been an array of talking points enunciated by the Biden administration and the Pentagon as to why it is necessary to send massive amounts of arms, material aid along with continuing diplomatic cover provided to the Zelensky regime. The first point is to portray the Russian Federation as the aggressors in the war which attacked Ukraine without provocation.

It is important to note that this conflict did not begin on February 24, 2022. The war has been developing since  February 2014 when the U.S. engineered the overthrow of the Ukrainian government of  Viktor Yanukovych forcing him to flee the country. After a brief interim period there was the election of Petro Poroshenko. However, the character of the so-called “Revolution of Dignity” was in fact a counter-revolution aimed at the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) including Ukraine and other states into this imperialist alliance established in 1949 during the Cold War.

The government of Yanukovych was overthrown utilizing billions of dollars from taxpayers in the U.S. while at the same time gravely misinforming the public about the situation in Ukraine, the Russian Federation and the entire region of Eastern Europe. Amazingly enough, many people in the U.S. who wanted to argue against Russia and in favor of U.S. and NATO assistance to continue the war, are not even aware of the events of 2014 and the role of the then administration of former President Barack Obama. Victoria Nuland, a State Department functionary, made it explicit that the U.S. would determine the future political trajectory of Ukraine even without the European Union and other NATO members.

The coup of February 20, 2014 could not have been carried out without the direct leadership of neo-fascist elements in Ukraine. These extreme rightist parties and militias claim their political heritage to those same forces that fought alongside the German Nazis during World War II. 

When the special military operation began in February of last year, there was the open and obvious presence of neo-fascist militias which made it clear that they were the first line in the defense of NATO and its imperialist backers. African students studying in Ukraine were attacked by racist mobs, denied admission to public transportation in efforts to flee the country and excluded from any form of humanitarian assistance being delivered by the West.

As early as 2014, monuments to the Red Army which fought and defeated Nazi Germany during WWII, were vandalized and removed by the Ukrainian fascists. Russian speaking Ukrainians, who constitute at least one-third of the population were immediately disenfranchised. The Russian language was banned on an official level while the Ukrainian military bombardments of the Donbass region proceeded leaving thousands dead and displaced.

These facts are necessary to recount when decisions are being made over which approach to take in relations to the Ukraine situation. What has happened in Ukraine represents the ongoing efforts by Washington and Wall Street to expand NATO while encircling the Russian Federation. 

Therefore, our position is quite similar to that of the African Union (AU), the 55 member-states organization based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia which represents the 1.3 billion people on the continent. We want to see an immediate cessation of hostilities and the negotiation of a peaceful resolution to the war. This position has been bitterly opposed by the Biden administration which has no Ukraine policy beyond the sending of weapons, the propagation of a rationalization for the expansion of NATO, while creating the conditions for a wider war with Russia and the People’s Republic of China.

Moreover, we say what the AU cannot mention at this time for diplomatic reasons. However, the masses of African people on the continent and within the nations of the Asia-Pacific and Latin America are articulating and expressing solidarity with Russia and China. In countries such as Mali and Burkina Faso in West Africa there have been demonstrations in solidarity with Russia in the war. Recently, the Republic of South Africa held joint naval exercises with their counterparts from Moscow and Beijing in defiance of the Biden administration and other imperialist states.

Billions around the world represented by the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) Summit, which represents far more people than exist in the U.S. and the NATO states combined, have not condemned the Russian Federation and its government. This holds true for other multilateral organizations such as the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which as Fidel Castro once said over four decades ago that “we represent the immense majority of humanity.” 

Any genuine anti-imperialist, antiwar, peace and social justice organization can in no way welcome the expansion of NATO based upon the historical legacy of imperialism over the last century-and-a-half. We must move from a world of unipolarity to multipolarity, where the majority of the world’s population can take center stage in determining the future of our planet and its people.   

Pan-African Journal: Special Worldwide Radio Broadcast Hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, PANW Editor, for Sun. Feb. 26, 2023

Listen to the Sun. Feb. 26, 2023 special edition of the Pan-African Journal: Worldwide Radio Broadcast hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire. 

To hear the podcast of this program just click on the following URL: Pan-African Journal: Special Worldwide Radio Broadcast 02/26 by Pan African Radio Network | Politics (blogtalkradio.com)

This episode features our regular PANW report with dispatches on the national elections in the Federal Republic of Nigeria where voting continued well into a second day; the government of Belarus has announced that President Alexander Lukashenko will be visiting the People's Republic of China this coming week; there is growing opposition within the European Union member-states to the massive arms shipments to Ukraine aimed at bolstering the pro-United States forces; and China is escalating its defenses in light of the hostile maneuvers by the Pentagon near the South-China Sea. 

In the second and third hours we conclude our focus on African American History Month with segments reviewing the contributions of Lorraine Hansberry, Mike Hamlin and Walter Rodney.

Voting Continues in Nigeria, a Day After Polls Due to Close


People discuss Saturday's election as they look at newspapers from a street vendor at an intersection in Lagos, Nigeria on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2023. Nigerians voted Saturday to choose a new president, following the second and final term of incumbent Muhammadu Buhari. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — More people in Nigeria cast ballots Sunday morning even though voting in the presidential and parliamentary elections of Africa’s most populous nation was supposed to end Saturday.

Votes were cast in Benue, Adamawa and Bayelsa states even as the counting of ballots ballots was underway Sunday in places where polls had closed, election observers said. Preliminary results were expected as early as Sunday evening.

Logistical and security challenges caused widespread delays across the country Saturday, leading to frustration among voters, some of whom waited overnight and still hadn’t voted by the following morning.

“No sacrifice is too great to elect a credible leader of your choice,” Glory Edewor, who stood in line all night to vote in Delta state, said.

Election officials blamed the delays on logistical issues, though other observers pointed to the upheaval created by a redesigned currency that has left many residents unable to obtain bank notes.

The cash shortage affected transportation not only for voters but also for election workers and police officers providing security. The challenges also likely resulted in low voter turnout, said Yiaga Africa, the country’s largest election monitoring body.

While Saturday’s election was largely peaceful, observers said there were at least 135 critical incidents, including eight reports of ballot-snatching, that undermined the legitimacy of the country’s democracy,

“It is unacceptable that Nigerians who have the constitutional rights to participate in an election go out to cast their vote and you have thugs who make it difficult for them,” said Samson Itodo, the head of Yiaga Africa. “The nation needs to really rise and condemn these acts of voter suppression that we observed yesterday,” he said.

Associated Press journalists saw armed men pull up to a voting station in a minibus Saturday, fire shots in the air and grab the presidential ballot box. The shots sent voters screaming and scattering, and ballots strewn across the floor.

In the capital, Abuja, some voters said they were barred from voting at all.

“They employed various strategies to make sure that we do not continue to vote,” said Emmanuel Ogbu. The 45-year-old trader waited with more than 100 people to vote Sunday but was told by election officials they didn’t have enough supplies, such as ink, and needed to wait for the supervisor who had yet to arrive.

The elections were being carefully watched as Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy. By 2050, the U.N. estimates that Nigeria will tie with the United States as the third most populous nation in the world after India and China.

President Muhammadu Buhari is stepping down after two four-year terms. His tenure was marked by concerns about his ailing health and frequent trips abroad for medical treatment. Out of the field of 18 presidential candidates, three front-runners emerged in recent weeks: the candidate from Buhari’s ruling party, the main opposition party candidate and a third-party challenger who drew strong support from younger voters.

As voting continued, officials need to ensure there is adequate security at polling stations, monitor the process for vote-rigging and manipulation, and control misinformation, said Dr. Akinola Olojo, project manager for the Lake Chad Basin team at the Institute for Security Studies.

“(These) points of attention are critical for the successful conclusion of what can be regarded as the most tense election in Nigeria’s recent history., The last election cycle in 2019 witnessed slightly over 600 fatalities, and it is important that Nigeria avoids such a situation while ensuring that the voice of citizens through the current election is secured,” he said.


Associated Press reporters Taiwo Ajayi in Abuja, Nigeria, and Sam Mednick in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, contributed.