Friday, March 31, 2023

Philadelphia Judge Denies Latest Appeal for the Release of Mumia Abu-Jamal

Dear Friends, 

"Mumia is the community, Mumia is the world movement, Mumia is the heartbeat  when we talk about revolutionary thinkers, and you know, Mumia represents all that are in prison. Mumia's story as a political prisoner is the story of your family members and your friends who are being held behind bars from a racist system. So we're not stopping , we're not stopping at all." - Jamal Jr. on Black Power Media

Today at 4:08 pm, March 31, 2023, Common Pleas court Judge Lucretia Clemons denied Mumia Abu-Jamal’s request for a new trial. 

This is simply devastating news.

After 43 years in prison, Mumia Abu-Jamal has exhausted nearly all of his avenues for relief.   

Make no mistake: Justice required that Mumia Abu-Jamal be given a new trial.  

The enemy now is time. At 68 years old Mumia is suffering from cardiac disease and has had a double bypass, and nearly died from lack of treatment for acute Hepatitis C.

If you put thick blinders on that block out all reality and rely on procedural minutia for cover, honestly, it is still impossible to avoid the scorchingly blatant racism of trial Judge Albert Sabo, Assistant District Attorney Joseph McGill, Mayor and former police chief Frank Rizzo, District Attorney during Mumia’s trial Ed Rendell, and Ron Castille, DA and former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice.

Striking Blacks from the Jury

Judge Clemons stated that she was dismissing the claim of striking Black jurors on procedural grounds, dismissing Mumia's claim about the prosecutor excluding Black people from the jury, without addressing the merits of the claim.  One only has to look at the McMann training tapes that were made by the Philadelphia DA’s office which instructed prosecutors how to strike Black jurors. The tapes were made after Mumia’s trial, but they document the practice which was the norm in the office.   

Suborning Perjury: Paying Witnesses

Additionally, there's the note from supposed “eye witness” Robert Chobert that asked prosecutor McGill after the trial “where is the money that is owed to me?” This note was scrubbed from any filings and buried by the prosecution for 40 years. This dramatic “Brady evidence” previously unavailable to the defense, was dismissed by the Judge in her written opinion as not “being material.” Meaning it would not have affected the jury’s verdict!  Underlying this is the wholesale adoption of the credibility determinations of the original trial court Judge Albert “I am going to help them fry the n---word” Sabo.  It allows his racist tainted rulings to stand.

Judge Clemons also dismissed records from prosecutor McGill that extensively track and monitor another key witness, Cynthia White, who’s pending criminal cases were ALL were dropped by the prosecution following her testimony.

"It’s heartbreaking... Mumia is a scholar, he is a good dude who is being framed up by Philadelphia for a murder he didn't commit … the Judge knows this, the prosecution knows this, and it really saddens me that they won’t give my grandfather the freedom that he deserves" - Jamal Jr. on Black Power Media

There will be rallies in Philly and several other locations around the country.

Cuando luchamos ganamos,

When We Fight, We Win

Noelle Hanrahan, Esq. P.I.

Prison Radio Legal Director

China’s Global Influence Looms Over Harris Trip to Africa


U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, left, is greeted by Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema in Lusaka, Zambia, Friday March 31, 2023. Harris is on the last leg of a a seven-day African visit that took her to Ghana and Tanzania. (AP Photo/Salim Dawood)

LUSAKA, Zambia (AP) — When Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in Zambia on Friday for the final stop of her weeklong trip across Africa, she touched down at an airport that’s doubled in size and features glittering new terminals.

Rather than a symbol of promising local development, it’s a reminder of China’s deep influence. Beijing financed the project, one of many that has expanded its footprint on a booming continent that’s rich in natural resources, often generating goodwill among its citizens.

The global rivalry between the United States and China has been a recurring backdrop for Harris’ journey, and nowhere has that been more apparent than Zambia and her previous stop in Tanzania.

Besides the airport, China built a 60,000-seat stadium in Lusaka, plus roads and bridges around the country. Zambia is on the hook for all of the development with billions of dollars in debt. Tanzania is a major trading partner with China, and it has a new political leadership school funded by the Chinese Communist Party.

The developments have alarmed Washington, and President Joe Biden’s administration is worried that Africa is slipping further into Beijing’s sphere of influence.

Harris has played down the issue on her trip, preferring to focus on building partnerships independent of geopolitical competition. However, she has acknowledged there’s limited time for the U.S. to make inroads on the continent, telling reporters earlier in the trip that there is a “window” that is “definitely open now” for American investments.

At a news conference with Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema on Friday, Harris reiterated her call for “all bilateral official creditors to provide a meaningful debt reduction for Zambia” — an oblique reference to China — but she stressed that “our presence here is not about China.”

Hichilema said it would be “completely wrong” to view Zambia’s interests in terms of a rivalry between the U.S. and China.

“When I’m in Washington, I’m not against Beijing. When I’m in Beijing, I’m not against Washington,” he said, adding that “none of these relationships are about working against someone or a group of countries.”

China’s roots in both Tanzania and Zambia run deep. In the 1970s, Beijing built the Tazara Railway from landlocked Zambia to Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam port, allowing copper exports to circumvent white-minority-ruled Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa.

Today, China is Africa’s largest two-way trading partner, with $254 billion of business in 2021, according to the United States Institute of Peace. That’s four times the amount of trade between the U.S. and Africa. In addition, dealing with Beijing features less admonishments about democracy than with Washington.

“Most African countries are rightly unapologetic about their close ties to China,” Nigeria’s vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, tweeted on Thursday. “China shows up where and when the West will not and/or are reluctant.”

Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat who has worked on Africa issues in Congress, expressed frustration over China’s growing influence on the continent.

“We switched from being the No. 1 trade partner or the No. 1 investment partner in two dozen countries, to China being the No. 1 trade and investment partner,” he told reporters aboard Air Force Two on the flight to Ghana at the beginning of Harris’ trip. “I think our challenge for this decade is to address that.”

Biden has been taking steps toward that, such as hosting a summit for African leaders in December, when he announced that he wants to commit $55 billion to the continent in the coming years.

Harris has made announcements as well during her trip, including more than $1 billion in public and private money for economic development, $100 million for security assistance in West Africa and $500 million to facilitate trade with Tanzania.

However, there’s skepticism about whether the U.S. will follow through on its promises, and Harris has been faced with not-so-subtle hints that Africa expects more. For example, the presidents of Ghana and Tanzania bluntly said they hope Biden chooses to visit their countries during his expected trip to Africa later this year, which would be his first to the continent as president.

By comparison, Tanzania was among the first countries that Chinese President Xi Jinping visited after becoming president in 2013. And after Xi secured a third term, Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan was the first African head of state to visit Beijing.

“Kamala faces Chinese dominance in Tanzania,” the Tanzania Business Insight publication tweeted Wednesday.

Ian Johnson, a former China-based journalist who works at the U.S.-based Council on Foreign Relations, said Beijing presents a powerful narrative in the developing world as a country that rapidly built its economy and pulled much of its population out of poverty.

African leaders think “let’s see what we can learn from China,” he said, adding that “there’s a certain fascination in how they did it.”

Johnson also said China views Africa differently than the U.S.

“We have a tendency to see Africa as a series of problems — wars, famines, something like that,” he said. “But in China’s eyes, Africa is much more of an opportunity.”

Edem Selormey, who conducts public opinion research at the Ghana Center for Democratic Development, said the feeling is often mutual.

“China’s influence in Africa is largely seen as positive,” she said. “And the U.S. trails China in that regard.”

The difference, she said, is often about “what citizens see on the ground,” such as infrastructure projects, and “the U.S. has been missing from this picture for a while.”

John Kirby, a White House national security spokesman, said the debt that comes from China’s involvement is ultimately corrosive. He said African leaders are “beginning to realize that China is not really their friend.”

“China’s interests in the region are purely selfish, as opposed to the United States,” he said.

It’s a sentiment that draws scoffs in some corners of Africa.

“America is like playing the role of a big Uncle Sam in trying to defend African countries against what they think is the encroachment of China into the liberty of African countries through these loans,” said Tanzania-based analyst Mohamed Issa Hemed.

However, he added, “China is ahead of the U.S. in many, many ways.”

Daniel Russel, a former State Department official who is now at the Asia Society Policy Institute, summed up the African perspective as “enough with the lectures” about China. “They’ve got something we want. And they’ve got it right here.”

When it comes to U.S. hopes for Africa, he said, ”you can’t beat something with nothing.”

___ Anna reported from Nairobi, Kenya, and Meldrum from Johannesburg. Associated Press writer Evelyne Musambi in Nairobi, Kenya, contributed to this report.

Lukashenko Calls for Negotiations on Settling Ukraine Crisis

As the Belarusian president stressed, in a situation that "the West again tries to use the pause for strengthening its positions by deceit, Russia must employ the entire power of its defense industry and army to prevent the conflict escalation"

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko BelTA/TASS

MINSK, March 31. /TASS/. Negotiations on settling the Ukraine crisis should start as soon as possible, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said in his address to the nation and the parliament on Friday.

"It is necessary to start the negotiations today, not tomorrow. Today, while it is possible. It is necessary to stop now until an escalation begins," the Belarusian leader stressed.

Lukashenko suggested halting the hostilities in Ukraine "without the right of troop movement and regrouping by both sides, without the right to move weapons and ammunition, manpower and equipment."

As the Belarusian president stressed, in a situation that "the West again tries to use the pause for strengthening its positions by deceit, Russia must employ the entire power of its defense industry and army to prevent the conflict escalation."

West's desire to subjugate world triggered conflicts of past decades — Lukashenko

The Belarusian leader added that Washington’s policies had placed "self-sufficient, in some respects very strong and truly independent states under external administration"

MINSK, March 31. /TASS/. The hot conflicts of the past few decades began with the West's irrepressible desire to subjugate the world, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said in an address to the Belarusian people and parliament on Friday.

"What started the hot conflicts of recent decades? It was the irrepressible desire of the West to subjugate the whole world. And not even of the West - of just one country," said Lukashenko.

He added that Washington’s policies had placed "self-sufficient, in some respects very strong and truly independent states under external administration." According to the Belarusian leader, the American influence "penetrated into the political life of this or that country like a virus either through the incumbent authorities or through the opposition."

"As a rule, through the elites, bogged down in rampant corruption," said Lukashenko.

People of Ukraine need peace, but West does not care — Lukashenko

The Belarusian president recalled that at a certain point he "tried to turn the president of Ukraine, Vladimir Zelensky the right way"

MINSK, March 31. /TASS/. The people of Ukraine need peace, but no one in the West cares a bit, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said in his address to the Belarusian people and parliament on Friday.

"Don’t the people of Ukraine need peace? But no one cares about the opinion of the people," said Lukashenko.

The Belarusian president recalled that at a certain point he "tried to turn the president of Ukraine, Vladimir Zelensky the right way."

"I told Zelensky: a war is underway on your territory. In due time, the people will ask you why you didn't stop the war," Lukashenko added.

World War III with nuclear fires looms on horizon — Belarus' Lukashenko

The president warned that if the West once again tried to use a pause in hostilities to gain a stronger foothold by deception, as it had already happened before, Russia would be obliged to use all the strength of its military-industrial complex and army to prevent an escalation of the Ukrainian conflict

MINSK, March 31. /TASS/. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has said that a third world war with nuclear fires is looming on the horizon and negotiations are the sole means of avoiding it.

"Through the efforts of the U.S. and its satellites, a full-scale war has been unleashed in a neighboring country to the last Ukrainian. <...> World War III with nuclear fires is looming on the horizon," he said in his address to the Belarusian people and parliament on Friday. It can be avoided only by means of negotiations, he said.

"You all understand and know: there is only one way - through negotiations. Talks without preconditions," Lukashenko, stressed.

He warned that if the West once again tried to use a pause in hostilities to gain a stronger foothold by deception, as it had already happened before, Russia would be obliged to use all the strength of its military-industrial complex and army to prevent an escalation of the Ukrainian conflict.

Belarus to manage all weapons deployed in the country, Lukashenko says

According to the president, a storage facility for tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus will be complete by July 1

MINSK, March 31. /TASS/. Minsk will control all weapons, deployed on Belarusian territory, President Alexander Lukashenko said Friday.

"You have asked a question that is not being discussed publicly," the president said, answering a reporter’s question on use of nuclear weapons. "This is a totally classified topic - how we will use it. As for management, control and so on of nuclear weapons… […] There are no unsupervised weapons in Belarus, and there cannot be any. So everything that is present in Belarus will be managed by us here."

On March 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia will deploy its tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus under the republic’s request, like the US do on their allies’ territory. Moscow has already handed over the Iskander system, which can launch missiles with nuclear payload. According to the president, a storage facility for tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus will be complete by July 1.

Poll Reveals Level of Russian Public’s Confidence in Putin

The level of approval of the Russian president's work over this time has grown by 0.9 percentage points and is at 77.9%, according to a survey by the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center

MOSCOW, March 31. /TASS/. The level of Russian citizens' confidence in President Vladimir Putin has increased by 1.2 percentage points in one week, reaching 80.5%, according to a survey by the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center published on Friday.

The survey was conducted from March 20 to 26 among 1,600 respondents aged over 18.

"When asked about [their] confidence in Vladimir Putin, 80.5% of those polled answered positively (+1.2 percentage points over one week). The level of approval of the Russian president's work over this time has grown by 0.9 percentage points and is at 77.9%," the report noted.

The Russian government’s work was approved by 52.8% of the respondents (+0.5 percentage points), while Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin’s endeavors were approved by 54.5% of those polled (+1 percentage point over one week). The report specified that the prime minister is trusted by 63.4% of the respondents (+0.3 percentage points over the week).

Those surveyed also expressed their opinions about the leadership of Russia’s parliamentary factions. Thus, 32.5% trust CPRF leader Gennady Zyuganov (-0.7 percentage points per week), Sergey Mironov, the leader of A Just Russia - For Truth, gained 31.9% (+0.5 percentage points over one week), the leader of The New People party Alexey Nechaev received 7.6% (-0.1 percentage points over the week), while LDPR leader Leonid Slutsky got 16.7% (-0.8 percentage points per week).

The level of support for the United Russia party stood at 38.8% (-0.5 percentage points over one week), with the CPRF supported by 10.5% (-0.2 percentage points over the week). The New People party’s figures came to 4.4% (no changes over one week), while the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) got 8.8% (-0.2 percentage points over one week), and A Just Russia - For Truth was supported by 5.6% (+0.1 percentage points over the week).

US Has Small Stockpile of Long-range Missiles to Hand Them Over to Ukraine — Pentagon

There's a policy decision to date not to, so far, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said

Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib

WASHINGTON, April 1. /TASS/. The United States has an small stockpile of long-range missiles, which limits the possibility of handing them over to Ukraine, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said in an online interview with the Defense One media outlet.

Asked whether Washington was planning to supply Ukraine with ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System) missiles with a strike range of up to 300 kilometers, Milley replied "Well, there's a policy decision to date not to, so far. And I would never predict anything on the table, off the table, for the future."

"But from a military standpoint, we have relatively few ATACMS, we do have to make sure that we maintain our own munitions inventories, as well," he continued. "And the range of the weapon - I think there's a little bit of overstating of what an ATACMS can do and can't do."

"You're looking at a single shot, so think of a musket versus a repeating rifle. Whereas the GMLRS fires six shots, and ATACMs fires one. Now the range of the ATACMS is longer, but there's other systems they can get you that range," the high-ranking military official said.

"There’s UAVs, for example, that could do it, and the Brits have a couple of systems. So, those are some things that we're looking at to give them a little bit more legs. But right now, we're not providing the ATACMS," Milley added.

Ukraine repeatedly asked the United States to provide it with ATACMS missiles, but was refused.

Pentagon reviews weapons stockpile needed by US for possible future conflicts

General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States Armed Forces, estimated that it would take the US defense industry “probably several years” to replenish stocks

WASHINGTON, April 1. /TASS/. The US Department of Defense reviews weapons and ammunition stockpile in the country that it may need to engage in case of possible future conflicts, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said in an online interview with the Defense One media outlet.

"We're going back and we're reviewing all of our estimates for logistical estimates, for all of the key ammunitions or munitions that are required for the various contingency plans," Milley said.

According to him, the US defense industry would need "probably several years" to replenish inventory and ramp up production to meet the Pentagon's needs.

"We have some indications, and that will probably have to increase over time, it's not going to be done by magic overnight," Milley continued. "But this is something that's going to be very expensive. And it's going to have to be a deliberate program. It'll take probably several years to do it."

The general also said that the US Department of Defense has "sufficient ammunition in our inventory today to do what we need to do."

"But if you're involved in a significant great-power war, it's best not to underestimate how much munitions you're going to need," Milley added.

Pirates Hold Hostage Some Crew of Oil Tanker Off West Africa


COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Six members of the 16-man crew on a Liberia-flagged tanker are being held hostage by pirates who boarded the ship in West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea last week, the Danish shipper that owns the vessel and the French Navy said Friday.

Pirates boarded the Monjasa Reformer southwest of Port Pointe-Noire, Congo, on March 25 and five days later, the French Navy that was patrolling the area, found the ship off the small island nation of Sao Tomé and Principe north of where it had been attacked.

In a statement, company spokesman Thorstein Andreasen said that “the pirates had abandoned the vessel and brought a part of the crew members with them.” It did not say how many had been kidnapped or how they were taken.

After the pirates had boarded the tanker, the crew sought refuge in a citadel — a safe area on the ship — in line with the onboard anti-piracy emergency protocol. However, the pirates somehow managed to take some of them hostage. The nationalities of the crew members has not been announced, nor were details given as to where they are being held.

The pirates later left the Monjasa Reformer, and a French Navy vessel, Premier Maître L’Her, received a message from the remaining crew that six people had been kidnapped. The French vessel rushed to scene and treated three people for minor injuries.

The company spokesman said the crew members not taken hostage “are all in good health and safely located in a secure environment and receiving proper attention following these dreadful events.”

No damage to the ship or its cargo has been reported, said Andreasen. He did not give further details.

After attack, the Monjasa Reformer was escorted toward Lome, the capital of Togo, by a Nigerian ship, according to the French Navy.

The Gulf of Guinea is one of the world’s most dangerous spot for attacks on ships. In June, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution strongly condemning piracy, armed robbery and hostage-taking in the area. This hijacking took place further south in an area that is not typically attacked by pirates.

The Monjasa Reformer is used in West Africa as part of Monjasa’s global marine fuels operations and was carrying marine gas oil, very low sulphur fuel oil and high sulphur fuel oil products on board, the shipper said.

UN Food Chief: Billions Needed to Avert Unrest, Starvation


FILE - World Food Program chief David Beasley speaks to The Associated Press in the village of Wagalla in northern Kenya Aug. 19, 2022. Beasley is warning that without billions of dollars more to feed millions of hungry people, the world will see mass migration, destabilized countries, and starving children and adults in the next 12 to 18 months. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga, File)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Without billions of dollars more to feed millions of hungry people, the world will see mass migration, destabilized countries, and starving children and adults in the next 12 to 18 months, the head of the Nobel prize-winning U.N. World Food Program warned Friday.

David Beasley praised increased funding from the United States and Germany last year, and urged China, Gulf nations, billionaires and other countries “to step up big time.”

In an interview before he hands the reins of the world’s largest humanitarian organization to U.S. ambassador Cindy McCain next week, the former South Carolina governor said he’s “extremely worried” that WFP won’t raise about $23 billion it needs this year to help an estimated 350 million people in 49 countries who desperately need food,

“Right at this stage, I’ll be surprised if we get 40% of it, quite frankly,” he said.

WFP was in a similar crisis last year, he said, but fortunately he was able to convince the United States to increase its funding from about $3.5 billion to $7.4 billion and Germany to raise its contribution from $350 million a few years ago to $1.7 billion, but he doesn’t think they’ll do it again this year.

Other countries need to step up now, he said, starting with China, the world’s second-largest economy which gave WFP just $11 million last year.

Beasley applauded China for its success in substantially reducing hunger and poverty at home, but said it gave less than one cent per person last year compared to the United States, the world’s leading economy, which gave about $22 per person.

China needs “to engage in the multilateral world” and be willing to provide help that is critical, he said. “They have a moral obligation to do so.”

Beasley said they’ve done “an incredible job of feeding their people,” and “now we need their help in other parts of the world” on how they did it, particularly in poorer countries including in Africa.

With high oil prices Gulf countries can also do more, especially Muslim nations that have relations with countries in east Africa, the Sahara and elsewhere in the Middle East, he said, expressing hope they will increase contributions.

Beasley said the wealthiest billionaires made unprecedented profits during the COVID-19 pandemic, and “it’s not too much to ask some of the multibillionaires to step up and help us in the short-term crisis,” even though charity isn’t a long-term solution to the food crisis.

In the long-term, he said what he’d really like to see is billionaires using their experience and success to engage “in the world’s greatest need – and that is food on the planet to feed 8 billion people.”

“The world has to understand that the next 12 to 18 months is critical, and if we back off the funding, you will have mass migration, and you will have destabilization nations and that will all be on top of starvation among children and people around the world,” he warned.

Beasley said WFP was just forced to cut rations by 50% to 4 million people in Afghanistan, and “these are people who are knocking on famine’s door now.”

“We don’t have enough money just to reach the most vulnerable people now,” he said. “So we are in a crisis over the cliff stage right now, where we literally could have hell on earth if we’re not very careful.”

Beasley said he’s been telling leaders in the West and Europe that while they’re focusing everything on Ukraine and Russia, “you better well not forget about what’s south and southeast of you because I can assure you it is coming your way if you don’t pay attention and get on top of it.”

With $400 trillion worth of wealth on the planet, he said, there’s no reason for any child to die of starvation.

The WFP executive director said leaders have to prioritize the humanitarian needs that are going to have the greatest impact on stability in societies around the world.

He singled out several priority places -- Africa’s Sahel region as well as the east including Somalia, northern Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia; Syria which is having an impact on Jordan and Lebanon; and Central and South America where the number of people migrating to the United States is now five times what it was a year-and-a-half ago.

Climate, Coups Risk African Goal of Silencing Guns by 2030


FILE - Executive Secretary of the West African countries Mohamed Ibn Chambas attends a media conference at the EU Foreign Ministers meeting in Valkenburg, the Netherlands, Sept. 4, 2004. The goal of silencing the guns in Africa this decade is being challenged by climate change, terrorism, coups and the continent’s history, the head of the African Union initiative told the U.N. Security Council on Thursday, March 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe, File)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The goal of silencing the guns in Africa this decade is being challenged by climate change, terrorism, coups and the continent’s history, the head of the African Union initiative told the U.N. Security Council on Thursday.

Attaining the goal is at risk even after the date was pushed back once to 2030, Mohamed Ibn Chambas said. He pointed to constitutional, institutional and cultural challenges as well as “Africa’s vulnerability to global economic shocks” — and weak implementation of international, national and regional decisions on peace, security and development.

Silencing the guns was a key initiative in the vision for “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa” adopted by AU leaders in May 2013. Called Agenda 2063, it originally stated that all guns would be silenced in 2023, but in December 2020 the AU decided to extend the date to 2030.

That’s the same year the United Nations set to achieve its 17 major development goals that are also lagging, including ending poverty, ensuring secondary education for all children, achieving gender equality, and providing affordable and clean energy.

Chambas told the Security Council that when AU leaders adopted the silencing the guns initiative “they were motivated by the desire to bequeath future generations of Africans a continent free of wars and conflicts.”

The objective was to work toward “an Africa at peace with itself and with the rest of the world,” he said, but today multiple challenges have put that goal at risk, starting with the widening gap between rich and poorer nations, and between elites and marginalized people and communities within countries.

For example, Chambas said, the COVID-19 pandemic “pushed 55 million Africans into poverty in 2020 and reversed more than two decades of progress in poverty reduction on the continent.” He said “equally alarming is the fact that 15 African countries are reportedly at risk of debt distress,” and today the continent’s debt is more than $600 billion.

Chambas urged stepped up efforts to reduce inequalities and make new investments in education, technology and health while ensuring Africa’s young population could attain decent jobs. He also urged a crackdown on illegal financial flows that deprive the continent of approximately $90 billion annually.

He said Africa should shift from exporting raw materials to exporting manufactured goods and processed agricutural products, which would require investment in cross-border infrastruture. Chambas said Africa should produce its own food, calling it “untenable,” that a continent with 60% of the world’s remaining arable lands and many rivers and freshwater bodies is dependent on grain imports.

The AU high representative for implementing the silencing the guns initiative said achieving the goal also depends on addressing recent coups and unconstitutional changes in government and countering the scourge of terrorism, and the internal and external factors causing conflict and instability in Africa.

Armed conflict looms large across the continent. Jihadi insurgencies plague Somalia, Nigeria, Mozambique, Burkina Faso which had two coups last year, and Mali whose leader seized power in a 2020 coup. The extremist violence threatened to spread to even more countries while militias continue fighting in mineral-rich eastern Congo.

Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi, who chaired the council meeting, told members on Tuesday that the global terrorism threat “remains more critical” in Africa. He pointed to one global terrorism index that showed 40% of victims last year were African and called the Sahel region “the new epicenter of terrorist attacks.”

Chambas said he believes Mozambique’s successful peace process with former rebel movement Renamo “could be a model for lesson sharing on our continent” – a view echoed by Mirko Manzoni, the personal envoy of U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to Mozambique.

Nyusi urged all African leaders on Thursday to resolve the causes that lead to feelings of injustice, social inequality and exclusion that fuel conflicts, and “to fast track the silencing of the guns once and for all.”

Prosecutors in Senegal Appeal Opposition Leader’s Sentence


FILE - Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko addresses journalists following his release from police custody in Dakar, Senegal, Monday, March 8, 2021. Prosecutors in Senegal who had sought two years in prison for opposition leader Ousmane Sonko have filed an appeal after he was given a two-month suspended sentence for his conviction on libel charges in a case his supporters say was politically motivated. (AP Photo/Sylvain Cherkaoui, File)

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Prosecutors in Senegal who had sought two years in prison for opposition leader Ousmane Sonko have filed an appeal after he was given a much lighter, two-month suspended sentence for his conviction on libel charges in a case his supporters say was politically motivated.

The outcome of Thursday’s verdict allows Sonko to run for president next year though he still faces unrelated criminal charges in a pending rape case that would disqualify him if he is convicted. Sonko is widely viewed as the top opposition candidate in Senegal’s elections next year.

Sonko has not yet decided whether to appeal the sentence in the libel case, his lawyer Bamba Cisse told The Associated Press.

Sonko was also ordered to pay about $330,000 to Tourism Minister Mame Mbaye Niang, who accused the politician of defamation and public insults.

Neither Sonko nor his lawyers were present on Thursday when the verdict and sentence were delivered.

Each of Sonko’s previous court appearances led to protests in the streets of Dakar, the capital, and Sonko himself was forcibly removed from his vehicle by police on two occasions. Demonstrations have taken place not only in Dakar but in cities throughout the country.

Sonko’s supporters see the charges against him as the latest attempt to cut short his political career. Sonko finished third in Senegal’s 2019 presidential election and has called on President Macky Sall to declare publicly that he won’t seek a third term.

The ruling party says Sall should be allowed to run after a constitutional change in 2016 — made while Sall was president — which changed presidential terms to five years.

Sonko also faces rape charges based on accusations from a female employee of a massage salon who said she was assaulted by him. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison and would be barred from running for president. No date has been set yet for the that trial.

Senegal’s Top Opposition Leader Found Guilty of Libel


March 30, 2023

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Senegal’s top opposition leader has been given a two-month suspended sentence after being found guilty of libel.

Ousmane Sonko on Thursday was convicted of spreading false statements and will also have to pay about $330,000 to Minister of Tourism Mame Mbaye Niang, who accused the politician of defamation and public insults.

“This is a historic day for Senegal. Many had said that the trial would not take place, but it did. This is a victory,” the Cabinet minister’s lawyer El-hadji Diouf told reporters in Senegal’s capital, Dakar.

The case stems from accusations that Sonko, 48, made against the tourism minister during a news conference late last year. He had alleged the minister stole $47 million from a government agency.

Security was tight around the courtroom Thursday, as small groups of people gathered in support of Sonko. Sonko was not present at the hearing. His lawyers had requested to postpone the trial, saying that Sonko was sick from tear gas fired earlier this month.

Sonko’s party called the verdict unjust.

“The verdict is abnormal ... they decided to force it but they know that it’s not normal,” El Malick Ndiaye, national secretary in charge of communication for Sonko’s Pastef Les Patriotes party, told The Associated Press. Ndiaye said he was not sure if Sonko would appeal the verdict and said that Sonko was meeting with his lawyers to discuss options.

Sonko’s supporters see the charges against him as the latest attempt to cut short his political career, including his likely presidential candidacy in 2024. Sonko finished third in Senegal’s 2019 presidential election and has called on President Macky Sall to declare publicly that he won’t seek a third term.

The ruling party says Sall should be allowed to run after a constitutional change in 2016 — made while Sall was president — which changed presidential terms to five years.

Along with the defamation trial, Sonko also faces rape charges based on accusations from a female employee who said she was assaulted by him at a massage salon. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison and would be barred from running for president. No date is set for the that trial.

Thursday’s conviction won’t impact Sonko’s ability to run for president, as defamation is not included in the electoral code as one of the reasons that would bar someone from running.

China Refutes Groundless US Accusations of Debt Problem of Developing Countries: FM

By Global Times

Mar 30, 2023 11:33 PM

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

China does not accept the groundless accusations of the US saying that China's lending to developing countries is causing them to run into debt problems, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday. 

"We do not attach any political conditions or seek any political self-interest. China has been helping developing countries ease their debt burdens and has made the biggest contribution to implementing the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative," Mao Ning, a spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Thursday during a regular press conference.

China has always followed international rules and carried out investment and financing cooperation with other developing countries on the basis of openness and transparency, Mao said.

Her comment was a response to the remarks of US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who said on Wednesday that the US is working hard to counter China's influence in international institutions and in lending to developing countries.

 "I'm very, very concerned about some of the activities that China engages in globally, engaging in countries in ways that leave them trapped in debt and don't promote economic development," said Yellen. 

Since 2022, the US has raised interest rates at an unprecedented rate, which has worsened the debt problems of relevant countries. The US should take concrete actions to help developing countries instead of pointing fingers at others, Mao noted.

World Bank statistics show that multilateral financial institutions and commercial creditors account for more than 80 percent of the sovereign debt of developing countries, which is their biggest source of debt pressure. 

Meanwhile, China has offered help to developing countries struggling with debt problems. For instance, China has already provided Sri Lanka with a letter supporting the sustainability of Sri Lanka's debt, expressing its willingness to extend the debt due in 2022 and 2023.

In 2021, China took action to re-channel $10 billion of its Special Drawing Rights to Africa through the IMF and waived 23 interest-free loans for 17 African countries that had matured by the end of 2021.

Global Times

Russian, Chinese, Iranian Drills Contribute to Regional Security — China’s Top Brass

According to Tan Kefei, the exercise was held from March 15 to 19

© Lev Fedoseev/TASS, archive

BEIJING, March 30. /TASS/. The Maritime Security Belt 2023 naval exercise held by Russia, China and Iran in the Gulf of Oman contributed to bolstering security in the region, Chinese Defense Ministry Spokesman Tan Kefei said on Thursday.

"These drills enhanced the capabilities of the naval forces of China, Iran and Russia to jointly fulfill various military tasks at sea, further strengthened traditional friendship and cooperation, contributed to the protection of maritime security as well as peace and stability in the region," the Defense Ministry’s statement on the WeChat social network quoted him as saying.

According to the spokesman, the exercise was held from March 15 to 19. In all, 12 ships participated in training in aerial search operations, sea rescue, naval parade order as well as performing a number of other tasks as part of the drills.

Beijing Demands that US Stop Provoking China

"The Chinese People’s Liberation Army will take all necessary measures to protect national sovereignty and security and will resolutely defend peace and stability in the South China Sea," Tan Kefei assured

Chinese Defense Ministry Spokesman Tan Kefei AP Photo/Heng Sinith, File

BEIJING, March 30. /TASS/. The US Armed Forces must stop provoking China in the South China Sea, otherwise they will bear responsibility for any potential incidents, Chinese Defense Ministry Spokesman Tan Kefei warned on Thursday.

The comment was Tan’s response to a US Navy vessel that allegedly sailed near the China-controlled Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.

"We sternly demand that the United States immediately stop such provocations, otherwise it will bear full responsibility for all the serious consequences of their causing a potential incident," the Chinese Defense Ministry quoted him as saying on WeChat.

"The Chinese People’s Liberation Army will take all necessary measures to protect national sovereignty and security and will resolutely defend peace and stability in the South China Sea," Tan assured.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Milius passed near the Paracel Islands last Friday. China’s top brass claimed that the US warship did this without the Chinese government’s permission and had violated China’s sovereignty. The US 7th Fleet replied by saying in a news release that the US destroyer had acted in line with international law, while conducting a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP).

Beijing has disputed the territorial jurisdiction of some islands in the South China Sea where large hydrocarbon reserves were found with Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia. The most disputed territories are the Xisha Islands, also known as the Paracel Islands, the Nansha or Spratly Islands and Huangyan Island (Scarborough Reef).

Uganda's 'First Son' Muhoozi Kainerugaba Vows to Send Troops to Defend Moscow

Friday, March 31, 2023

Muhoozi Kainerugaba

In this file photo taken on May 25, 2016 The son of Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, Major General Muhoozi Kainerugaba attends a ceremony in which he was promoted from Brigadier to Major General at the country's military headquarters in Kampala on May 25, 2016.

Peter Busomoke and Ronald Kabuubi | AFP


What you need to know:

As a serving military officer, Kainerugaba is banned under Uganda's constitution from making unauthorised statements about sovereign states or foreign policy.

Observers have long believed that Kainerugaba was being groomed to succeed his 78-year-old father, who has ruled Uganda since 1986.


Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's mercurial son declared on Thursday that his country would send troops to defend Moscow if it came under threat.

"Call me a 'Putinist' if you will, but we, Uganda shall send soldiers to defend Moscow if it's ever threatened by the Imperialists!" Muhoozi Kainerugaba said on Twitter.

"The West is wasting its time with its useless pro-Ukraine propaganda," added the outspoken general, a fervent supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Kainerugaba, who is notorious for his often erratic Twitter outbursts on all manner of issues, earlier this month announced that he plans to run for president in 2026 elections. 

He also announced Thursday the creation of a television and radio station under his MK brand, headed by a former special forces spokesman, and said one of the first places it would visit would be Russia.

As a serving military officer, Kainerugaba is banned under Uganda's constitution from making unauthorised statements about sovereign states or foreign policy.

Uganda has abstained during UN votes on the conflict, including one last month marking the one-anniversary of the war that called for Moscow to immediately and unconditionally withdraw its troops.

Museveni has also in the past defended his country's ties with the Kremlin.

"How can we be against somebody who has never harmed us," he said during a tour of Africa by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in July last year to drum up support for Moscow over the war.

Russia has traditionally strong ties with Africa after lending support to independence movements on the continent that fought to oust colonial rulers.

Observers have long believed that Kainerugaba was being groomed to succeed his 78-year-old father, who has ruled Uganda since 1986.

Some of his Twitter tirades have however caused foreign policy problems for Uganda.

Following a row last year over a tweet threatening to invade Kenya, Museveni had sought to rein in his wayward son by telling him to stay off Twitter when it comes to affairs of state.

Kamala Harris Tour Bares Africa’s Diplomatic Vortex

Tuesday, March 28, 2023


What you need to know:

US Vice President Kamala Harris's weeklong trip to Africa highlights the continent's rising strategic profile - and begs the question: can a united Africa play a bigger role in world affairs?

Africa finds itself in the middle of a growing diplomatic vortex as the United States and its Western allies ramp up efforts to counterbalance the expanding clout of China and Russia. India, Turkey and Middle Eastern countries are also in the mix as US vice president Kamala Harris embarks on a week-long tour of Africa, with  U.S. President Joe Biden planning to visit Africa later this year.

Regional analysts suggest the increased visibility of the US in Africa is part of a strategic pushback against Beijing and Moscow.

Aly-Khan Satchu, Economist and CEO of the investment advisory firm Rich Management Ltd is of the opinion that the West and the U.S. (especially under President Trump) had neglected Africa outside of the security, counter-terrorism and immigration lens.

He asserted, however, that "the war in Ukraine and Africa's evident sympathy for Russia was a wake-up call and the West is trying to push back geo-strategically speaking. It's an uphill task. The ground has shifted." 

Rekindling alliances

According to US broadcaster, National Public Radio, officials said Harris' trip is part of Biden's commitment to go "all-in on Africa" and confirmed that Biden is also expected to visit the continent this year.

As high-ranking officials from the US and its allies descend upon Africa, the message is clear: rekindling alliances on the continent is a top priority.

Biden's presence was particularly noticeable at COP27 in Egypt in November 2022,  all the more so because the event coincided with U.S. mid-term elections. Following the summit, marketed as the "African COP", Biden met with African leaders at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in December, announcing US support for the idea that the African Union join the G-20, permanently, and pledging to visit the continent.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken was in Ethiopia and Niger earlier in 2023, after touring South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Rwanda in August 2022.

Blinken's 2022 trip came just days after Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov's visit to Uganda, the Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Egypt.

In January 2023, Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen also completed a 10-day trip, marking the start of a year of high-level US engagement.

The same month, a cabinet member visited Somalia with US Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield. The trip to Mogadishu was the first for a U.S. cabinet member in nearly eight years.

And in February, US First Lady Jill Biden visited Namibia and Kenya to strengthen areas of corporations between Washington and African states. 

Diplomatic engagements

Meanwhile, the US's European allies have also been noticeably engaging with the continent.

In January, Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni met Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune in Algiers, while in March, French President Emmanuel Macron visited Angola, the Republic of the Congo, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, in a high-profile trip that went viral on social media, after an earlier trip to Gabon. Soon afterwards, Italian President Sergio Mattarella made a four-day official visit to Kenya.

In May 2022, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz travelled to Senegal, Niger, and South Africa.

Turkey has also grown its strategic presence on the continent, hosting regular Türkiye-Africa Partnership Summits and its companies have invested heavily in Africa, as well as becoming a major provider of infrastructure capacity, even rivalling China in some markets. A Turkish presence has been very noticeable in Somalia, after initially rebuilding the country's main airport and a Turkish company, Karpowership, has offered three of its mobile power stations to help with South Africa's power crisis. In February 2022, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Central and West Africa.

These diplomatic engagements reflect the growing geo-strategic importance of Africa as global powers recognise the need to secure their alliances in the region.

Recent reports have shown that the continent's vast resources, including minerals critical for the green energy transition and green hydrogen production, make it an attractive prospect for investment and collaboration. This was particularly evident soon after Russia invaded Ukraine in March, 2022, sparking a whirlwind of Africa tours by panicked European energy ministers and companies seeking new sources of gas.

But Africa also now represents another opportunity. With a rapidly growing population, and now a free-trade agreement on the continent, Africa presents a significant market opportunity for world trade and economic growth.

And as global powers vie for influence, the continent has the potential to benefit from increased investment, security cooperation, and development partnerships.

African states, arguably for the first time, are putting their geo-strategic interests first, as witnessed by Africa's ambivalent responses to the Ukraine war. While Russia was a cold war ally to many African states and was seen as a direct ally in various wars for independence, the U.S.'s immediate post-cold-war influence was virtually uncontested. In the 21st Century, after witnessing the rise of China's "soft-power" (and in some cases feeling the pain after taking China's easy loans) African countries have by and large grown more cautious in managing their relationships with external actors. Increasingly, African governments are keen to ensure their partnerships align with long-term development goals and serve the best national interests.

Folashade Soule, in an analysis in The Conversation, urges the continent avoid a 'zero-sum game', especially when dealing with the US-China rivalry.

"They should adopt measures that strategically play rivals against each other. They should also implement long-term strategies and domestic policies for dealing with strategic partners like China," the senior research associate at the University of Oxford said.

To win over Africa, Satchu believes, the West should seek out the opportunities offered by the continent's challenges. This may not always be easy.

"Africa is in a debt crisis. The West needs to offer a Brady Plan. I don't think it has the bandwidth. It looks as if the BRICS+ constellation will beat the West to the punch," he asserted, referring to a U.S. plan to assist a debt crisis amongst Latin American countries in the 1980s.

"Europe is playing the green economy card and is keen to restrict access to its garden and therefore, realistically speaking, needs to think about a Marshall Plan for Africa to create jobs for Africans in Africa. It's not clear that they have the focus. So debt, food and fuel are Africa's challenges. On food and fuel, the West faces a formidable adversary in Putin's Russia who made promises recently on both scores."

But as a rivalry between the West, China and now Russia, grows, other countries are seizing the opportunity to expand their business interests in Africa too.

In addition to Turkey, both India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have ramped their investments and partnerships with African nations in recent years, positioning themselves as strong contenders for China's dominance.

Recent economic and political challenges have led China to rethink its approach to Africa. The Asian giant's infrastructure development strategy investments in the region saw a 55% reduction, to US$7.5 billion, last year, as disclosed by a recent report from Shanghai's Fudan University Green Finance and Development Center. Some experts believe this trend may continue.

India meanwhile has been steadily increasing its presence in Africa in recent years, with investments in agriculture, healthcare, and renewable energy sectors.

This shifting ground of international politics, the increasing reliance on both African commodities and its fast-growing market now, as Soule says, offers the continent a remarkable opportunity. The question is, will the continent capitalise on the moment?

Harris Hails Tanzanian President Suluhu as 'Champion' of Democracy

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan speaks during a press conference during her state visit to South Africa at the Union buildings in Pretoria on March 16, 2023. 

Phill Magakoe | AFP

Dar es Salaam,

US Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday hailed Tanzania's leader Samia Suluhu Hassan as a "champion" of democracy, on the latest leg of her landmark trip to Africa.

Harris, the first Black person and first woman to be elected US vice president, spoke alongside Hassan -- Tanzania's first female president who has been rolling back the authoritarian policies of her late predecessor John Magufuli.

Harris said the two would discuss democracy, good governance, long term economic growth and the climate crisis during her visit to the East African country.

"On the subject of economic growth, good governance delivers predictability, stability and rules which businesses need to invest," Harris said, describing Hassan as a "champion" of democracy.

"There is so much potential for growth here."

Harris is on a three-nation trip to Africa, the latest push by the United States to deepen its engagement with the continent to counter the growing influence of China and Russia.

Hassan, who marked her second year in office on March 19, has sought to turn the page on Magufuli's hardline rule, which had tarnished Tanzania's reputation as a stable country in a troubled region.

Earlier this month, she vowed to restore competitive politics and jumpstart a stalled process to review the constitution, a long-held opposition demand.

In January, Hassan announced the lifting of a ban on political rallies, paving the way for the return later that month of opposition stalwart Tundu Lissu after spending most of the past five years in exile.

On Thursday, Harris also laid a wreath at a memorial commemorating the August 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's economic hub.

The almost simultaneous attacks by Al-Qaeda in Tanzania and the US embassy in Kenya's capital Nairobi left more than 200 people dead and more than 5,000 wounded.

As she wrapped up the first leg of her trip in Ghana on Wednesday, Harris announced an initiative of more than $1 billion to improve women's empowerment in Africa.

In a speech in Ghana's capital Accra on Tuesday, she had noted three areas of focus Washington believes could benefit from more investments: women's empowerment, the digital economy and good governance and democracy.

"We are 'all in' on Africa," she added, repeating US President Joe Biden's declaration at a US-Africa leaders' summit last year.

From Tanzania, Harris heads to Zambia on Friday.

AU Expresses ‘Deep Concern’ Over Violence in Kenya Protests

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Anti-riot police officers confront demonstrators in Mathare in the Kenyan capital Nairobi on March 27, 2023 during protests called opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

By Aggrey Mutambo Senior Diplomatic Writer

The African Union is calling for calm and restraint in Kenya following deadly protests by the opposition groups that saw deaths and rival gangs loot and destroy property.

AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat expressed “deep concern” at violence that led to deaths and what he called interruption of certain economic activities in Nairobi and other cities in the country where supporters of opposition Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Coalition led by their leader Raila Odinga were protesting.

“The Chairperson urges all stakeholders to exercise calm and engage in dialogue to address any differences that may exist in the supreme interest of national unity and reconciliation,” Faki said.

Mr Odinga’s supporters poured into the streets for the second week, protesting against the high cost of living and what they say is inherent opaqueness of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, which Mr Odinga accuses of rigging him out of last year’s presidential poll in favour of eventual winner William Ruto. Dr Ruto’s victory was, however, confirmed by the Supreme Court in September after describing Odinga’s evidence as “hot air”.

Total support

The AU boss called for dialogue but also expressed total support for the Kenyan government. The AU observers had endorsed the election outcome last year.

“In this regard, the Chairperson wishes to recall the successful conduct of General Elections in August 2022 in Kenya and the subsequent unanimous confirmation of the election outcome by the Supreme Court.”

The protests turned deadly after two people were shot dead in Kisumu while goons attacked the property of Mr Odinga and his ally, former president Uhuru Kenyatta. Kenyatta’s farm was torched as goons looted his livestock and cut down trees.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

More Than 20 DR Congo Political Party Activists Killed

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Nation Media Group


More than 20 political activists have been killed in the city of Lubumbashi in southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, their party and a civil group said Wednesday, accusing unknown assailants in military fatigues.

"Some commandos... killed more than 25 people, some by bullets and others by drowning,"said Bertin Tchoz, lead of a peace and security civil organisation in Haut-Katanga district, of which Lubumbashi is the capital,

The victims were members of the National Union of Congolese Federalists (UNAFEC).

The party's national president Jean Umba Lungange said the attack happened last Friday when "people in military uniforms, guided by a civilian, found our young people at the place where they regularly hold their meetings and started shooting".

"Some of them were shot and others drowned in the Naviundu River as they fled," he told the party's executive in the presence of journalists.

"We are left with 21 bodies at the moment," he said, adding that there were also "missing persons". 

An army spokesman in the region said that he was not aware of this event, especially since "this political party did not refer the matter to the army".

After the discovery on Monday of five dead bodies in the Naviundu river, the mayor Martin Kazembe, had announced the opening of an investigation to "determine those responsible". 

UNAFEC, a member of the "Sacred Union of the Nation" platform set up by President Felix Tshisekedi, has been riven by infighting since its founder Gabriel Kyungu wa Kumwanza died in 2021. 

A surge in attacks in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo has claimed more than 700 lives at the hands of militia fighters since December, the United Nations said Monday.

Rebel militias have plagued the eastern DRC for decades, many of them a legacy of regional wars that flared during the 1990s and early 2000s.     

My Govt Will Respect Independence of Institutions, Ruto Tells Global Leaders

Thursday, March 30, 2023

President William Ruto. The President said he promised world leaders at a democracy summit that Kenya Kwanza will respect the independence of public institutions.

By Peter Mburu

Nation Media Group

President William Ruto has committed to global leaders that he will operate within the constitution and the rule of law even as opposition leader Raila Odinga remains persistent on his public protests, which marked their third day today Thursday, March 30.

Dr Ruto on Thursday also said he had promised US President Joe Biden among other world leaders, that his government will respect the independence of public institutions.

“Just yesterday [Wednesday], we had a virtual meeting with US President Joe Biden and other world leaders at the Democracy Summit where I underscored our commitment to constitutionalism and the rule of law and respect for institutions,” President Ruto said during a government summit with the US Chamber of Commerce, in Nairobi.

President Ruto promised this even as his government made key tax concessions, backsliding from a hardline position the previous regime held with regard to taxation of multinationals operating within the digital space in the country that have been attempting to pay more taxes in their home countries but less in other countries where they operate.

While announcing several tax reforms including the launch of a new Tax Policy effective June, President Ruto said Kenya was shifting its position on the imposition of Digital Service Tax (DST) on multinationals, to stop taxing them directly and instead abiding by the guidelines by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Due to OECD guidelines,  Kenya collects fewer taxes from the companies such as Amazon, Meta, Microsoft, Google, and others that operate in the country, but are based in the US.

“Following discussions with players in this sector, we have made a commitment to review this tax regime and align it with the two-pillar solution currently being developed by the OECD, which is an inclusive framework,” the President said.

He said the OECD framework would guide the taxation of the multinationals, once negotiations were complete.

“We have made this policy shift because we consulted, we listened and we want to create a win-win partnership,” he said.

Dr Ruto also announced that after much wait for an operational tax policy that would assure businesses of stability and predictability of taxation regime, his government was finalizing one.

“This (tax) policy that will enhance transparency in our tax regime will take effect by June 2023 and it will be in place for a minimum of three years. We are doing this so that you can make your investment decisions knowing exactly how the tax regime will look for the next three years,” the President said.

The President also announced that starting July, VAT on exported services would be eliminated, blaming the tax for being a challenge to businesses and an impediment to investors.

“This tax not only renders us uncompetitive as a country, but it also inhibits investors seeking to make Kenya their regional global services hub. Many companies are already operating out of Kenya and servicing regional markets,” the President said.

In new changes, the President also directed that going forward, businesses will be allowed to offset any unsettled tax refunds from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) that go beyond six months from their tax liabilities.

“If, for whatever reason, a refund is not made by KRA within this period (six months), the taxpayer can offset their claim against future tax liability without further application to the KRA. If it’s okay for you to pay your tax in time, it must be okay for you to get your tax refund in time,” he said.

The government also says that it is exempting startup companies from employee benefits tax starting July.

“It’s only fair that we give these startups a chance to be, by not imposing unnecessary restrictions, especially when initially they are not able to pay as much for their employees and instead they want to allocate some shares,” said Dr Ruto.

The government has also finalized a deal with US pharmaceutical firm, Moderna, to build a $500 million mRNA vaccine facility in Nairobi, following plans that started last year.

“This will be the only such facility on the African continent and, for Moderna, their first factory outside the US,” Dr Ruto said, noting that the investment would catalyze the medical and pharmaceutical industry in Africa.

The President also indicated that during his tour in Germany, the government signed a deal that will see the investment of Sh350 million into the ongoing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), which has been under implementation for several years now.

“I just came back this morning from signing an agreement that will give us about Sh350 million to do our BRT that will be working on e-mobility,” he said.

How Ruto is Eating Raila's Lunch in Kisii

Thursday, March 30, 2023

President William Ruto (left) and his Deputy Rigathi Gachagua unveil the plaque during the launch of construction works of Ogamba-Kegogi road in Kegogi, Kisii on March 24, 2023.

By Ruth Mbula

President William Ruto is slowly eating into the huge support hitherto enjoyed by the  Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition leader, Raila Odinga, in Gusii.

Dr Ruto was largely unpopular in the Gusii region, especially during periods preceding the last elections and soon thereafter.

However, the political tide in the region seems to be shifting toward the President’s ruling party.

Dr Ruto’s charm offensive into the region seems to have been received well by local leaders, especially those in the opposition, who eschewed the Maandamano calls by Mr Odinga.

President Ruto’s promise for massive infrastructural projects for Gusii seems to be doing the trick.

That not even a single elected leader from Kisii and Nyamira has identified with Mr Odinga’s nationwide protests has sent a message that the opposition chief could be losing grip of the community’s support.

Additionally, the leaders from Gusii under Azimio did not join the former Prime Minister in his visit to Kisii, on the same day Dr Ruto was in the backyard.

Both President Ruto and Mr Odinga were in Kisii on Friday, but in different functions that were only 30 kilometers apart.

Dr Ruto was at Getacho Primary School grounds in Nyaribari Masaba Constituency, where the thanksgiving ceremony of Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu was taking place.

On the other side of the Nyaribari hills was Mr Odinga who was attending the burial of Truphena Moraa Ontegi at Nyanturubo village in Nyaribari Chache Constituency.

Moraa is the mother of former councilor and Nyaribari Chache ODM Chairman Jackson Ontegi.

Kisii and Nyamira Counties had more leaders elected under Mr Odinga’s Azimio coalition compared to the ruling alliance, Kenya Kwanza.

All throughout President Ruto’s visit, Kisii Governor Simba Arati told the Head-of-State that he will work with him for the sake of the county’s development.

Mr Arati went ahead to say that the country can only have one President.

His party leader, Mr Odinga, does not recognise Dr Ruto as the country’s top leader.

The governor noted that he will talk to his party leader over demonstrations.

Speaking during the homecoming ceremony of Education CS Ezekiel Machogu in Kisii, Mr Arati said the talk will be purely to enhance peace and develop the country.

"I will talk to Mr Odinga about the planned demos, we need to build our country and have a peaceful nation,” he said.

The governor said that in a football match, Kenya Kwanza and Azimio were in a game in which he said Dr Ruto won with a controversial goal.

“Your Excellency, we were in a match and even if you scored by the hand, it is a goal and you are the President," said Mr Arati.

Nyamira Governor and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Party Leader Amos Nyaribo also joined President Ruto in his tour of Gusii.

UPA is one of the parties in the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition.

Mr Nyaribo said he will not participate in the mass action called by Mr Odinga or any of his plans to pressure the government.

The Party, which has its roots in Gusii, has instead pledged to work with President Ruto and his Kenya Kwanza administration.

Raila Promises Mother of All Protests on Monday

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Raila Odinga and Martha Karua

By David Mwere

Nation Media Group

The opposition has vowed not to relent in its push to have the Kenya Kwanza administration address the current high cost of living in the country even as it plans to continue its anti-government demonstrations across the country.

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition leader, Raila Odinga, said the Monday protests will take place, speaking after the coalition marked its third day and second week of protests in the country on Thursday, March 30.

Mr Odinga and a host of Azimio leaders engaged Nairobi residents on Thursday as they held stopovers in the city’s Eastland areas of Imara Daima, Mukuru Kwa Njenga and Kware.

The Azimio entourage snaked through the Nairobi Eastlands areas as it headed to the Outer Ring Road for a rally at the Jacaranda Grounds.

However, trouble started after they left Kware area to join the Outer Ring Road at the Kware stage. Police vehicles including water cannons blocked the way forcing the motorcade to stop briefly before changing course.

“This is the third time the police are disrupting our meetings without any provocation. As we do this, we are within the Constitution and one day those in charge will be held to account,” said Mr Odinga as he maintained that the Monday and Thursday demonstrations are still on.

“They have called us anarchists and that we want to destroy public property - the reason they are sending us the police but we will not retreat. We don’t fear the police even if they hurl teargas, spray us with water cannons or jail us.”

Those in the motorcade included Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, George Wanjakoya, and former Kakamega governor Wycliffe Oparanya. Others were Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna and a host of MPs among them Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja), Millie Odhiambo (Suba North), and Babu Owino (Embakasi East).

Mr Odinga said that Kenya Kwanza administration should not use force on peaceful demonstrators, noting that the police intimidation against a public course will not stop “what we have started to liberate this country.”

“We are not fools. We are not mad people. We want Kenya to be redeemed and we will ensure that this happens," Mr Odinga said.

Ms Karua said that Kenya Kwanza should be ready to be held to account for what “they promised Kenyans.”

“This government has no feelings for the people, that is why they are harassing us as we agitate for good governance. Kenya must change. People must live dignified lives. But criminals must face the law,” said Ms Karua.

Mr Odinga also noted that he will continue the push to have the IEBC servers opened.

“We want them to open the servers and nothing short of that will make us go slow.”  

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Fires in the Streets of France Illustrates Anger over Pension Reforms

Demonstrations turned violent for several days before sanitation workers returned to their jobs

By Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Wednesday March 29, 2023


Discontent with President Emmanuel Macron is mounting in the aftermath of his executive enactment of a controversial pension reform bill that would make substantial changes to the retirement system for millions of workers.

On March 22, Macron sat down for an interview with a French television station where he attempted to justify his actions which by-passed a vote within the National Assembly.

Macron maintained that it was necessary to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 while requiring 43 years of service to qualify for full pension benefits. He continued the same argument that without these reforms the retirement system would become insolvent in a matter of a few years.

Such statements by the president further enflamed the public prompting even larger and more militant demonstrations between March 23-26. Hundreds of people were reportedly arrested and complaints of police brutality against demonstrators have gained international attention.

Various human rights organizations have accused the police of utilizing preemptive arrests of activists as well as excessive physical force against demonstrators. 

The newly crowned King Charles III of the United Kingdom had been invited to make a state visit to France beginning on March 26. However, the general strike and subsequent rebellions in several cities including the capital of Paris made it impossible for the monarch to enter the country. 

It was announced by the French government that Charles III would postpone his visit until the summer months. The inability to host a head-of-state was a further blow to the stature of Macron among other imperialist states. Several political parties commented that this diplomatic embarrassment highlighted the political weakness of Macron. Recent opinion polls show the president as having less than a 30 percent approval rating among the electorate. 70 percent of respondents indicated that the government was responsible for the strikes and violent unrest and that the situation could worsen in the coming days and weeks. (

In an effort to appear unphased by the unrest in France, Macron attended a European Union (EU) Summit in Brussels, Belgium on March 24 where he reiterated his position on the pension reforms. Before the legislation is fully implemented, it must be reviewed by the Constitutional Council, the highest legal authority in France. 

On March 25, unions estimated that 3.5 million workers and youth took to the streets demanding the withdrawal of the legislation by Macron. As police attempted to control the crowds in Paris and other cities, clashes erupted resulting in broken windows and arson attacks.

In an article published by France24 on the previous week, it said of the developing situation that: 

“First an epic tussle with the unions, then a bitter standoff in parliament, and now a full-blown crisis in the streets. France’s festering pension dispute took a turn for the worse this week, with protests against Macron’s deeply unpopular plans hardening and escalating amid scenes of chaos in Paris and other cities. The unrest – which began last Thursday after Macron used special executive powers to ram his pension reform through parliament – has seen security forces fight running battles with protesters late into the night even as firefighters race to extinguish hundreds of blazes.” (

In addition to the escalating tensions between the government and the unions, yet another conflict erupted over environmental and economic concerns stemming from the construction of a reservoir in the western rural district of Sainte-Soline. Opponents to the plan say that it is designed to benefit large-scale agricultural corporations while disempowering smaller farmers. 

A scheduled demonstration in Sainte-Soline on March 25 attracted thousands of activists. In response to the large protests which are prohibited in the area, police initiated violent attacks against those opposing the reservoir.

A Guardian news report emphasized: 

“Several people have been injured after clashes between French police and protesters opposed to a large water reservoir for farm irrigation, despite a ban on gatherings in the area. Police fired teargas to repel some protesters who threw fireworks and other projectiles as they crossed fields to approach the construction area in the western rural district of Sainte-Soline. At least three police vehicles were set alight, television footage showed. Two protesters were seriously hurt, including one who is in a critical condition after suffering a head injury, as well as 16 police officers, the local prefecture said. One officer was evacuated by helicopter. Thousands of protesters had converged on the site of the planned reservoir, where a similar protest last October also turned violent.” (

10th Day of Mass Action Held

Another day of strikes and protests occurred on March 28 as the unions estimated participation at over 2 million. People continued their demonstrations against the Macron pension reforms and what they perceived as the dictatorial posture of the government. Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne offered on the same day to hold talks during the first full week of April with the eight major unions behind the mass demonstrations and strikes. Pledging to maintain their strike actions, there was an announcement of an 11th day of protest on April 6.  

Reuters News Agency described the day as follows: 

“Black-clad groups set fire to garbage cans and threw projectiles at police in Paris, who charged at them and threw teargas in confrontations on the fringes of a march against President Emmanuel Macron and his deeply unpopular pension bill. Clashes also erupted on Tuesday (March 28) at similar rallies in other cities including Rennes, Bordeaux and Toulouse, with a bank branch and cars set ablaze in Nantes. However, while public frustration has evolved into broader anti-Macron sentiment, there was less violence than last week, and rallies were otherwise largely peaceful.” (

One major announcement came on March 29 when the sanitation union suspended their work stoppage. Thousands of tons of garbage remained piled up in the streets of Paris prompting an infestation of rats. 

An Associated Press report on the sanitation workers said: 

“In a decision that sent waves of relief among many Paris residents, the powerful CGT union representing sanitation workers announced that the three-week-long strike would be ‘suspended’ as of Wednesday (March 29). Crews will join others who were legally requisitioned over the last week to help with the daunting clean-up process. A statement by the CGT claimed that requisitions of trucks, incinerators and personnel, ordered by the Paris police prefect, had bled the movement, leading to its suspension. But added that ‘the combat isn’t over.’ ‘It’s good that the trash is collected. It’s very unsanitary, and some residents already have trouble with rats and mice. It can be dangerous if it’s left too long,’ said artist Gil Franco, 73.” (

Struggles Involving Workers Not Confined to France

The outcome of these industrial actions will ultimately depend upon the consistency and strength of the unions and their allies among the youth. These attacks on pensions are part and parcel of the austerity measures being enacted by capitalist governments in Europe and North America. 

In Germany on March 27, transport unions staged a one-day strike which shutdown most rail lines, buses and airplanes. A payment dispute involving two unions and their employers has resulted in the most widespread industrial action in the country in recent years.

The EVG union reported to the media that in excess of 30,000 railway workers participated in the strike. Transport of cargo on the rail networks and at the German ports were also impacted as dock workers joined those on strike.

Meanwhile in Britain, unions continued their battles against austerity and the failure of the Conservative government to address the declining standards of living due to inflation. Workers in the education, healthcare, transport, passport and railway sectors have participated in strikes for months. 

In the education sector, the National Union of Head Teachers (NUHT), among other unions, held periodic strikes over the last several months demanding higher pay and improved conditions of employment. Recently the government has made an offer to the education, healthcare and other unions aimed at ending the strikes, yet no decisions have been made.

According to the National Education Union (NEU), real wages for experienced teachers have declined by 20 percent since 2010. Many within the profession are leaving to seek higher pay in other sectors. The unions are demanding salary increases commensurate with the rate of inflation.  

Unions have announced that on April 28, 133,00 workers will strike in various public sectors in Britain. The Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has pursued a draconian policy of wage cuts despite the inability of the government to curb inflation.

These developments portend much for the future of the capitalist states amid a rash of bank failures in the United States and Switzerland. Central banks in the U.S. and Europe are continuing to raise interest rates while the cost of living increases for working families. 

Silvergate, Silicon Valley, Signature and Credit Suisse financial institutions have been the focus of multi-billion-dollar bailouts by central banks and larger firms which agreed to provide the necessary liquidity to prevent further economic instability.  However, these rescue operations will become more difficult if there are additional bank failures reminiscent of the Great Recession of 2007-2008.

Trade unions, Left parties and mass organizations within capitalist countries must begin to think beyond the acquisition of wage increases and improved working conditions. A different system of ownership and wealth distribution could very well be the only real solution to the overall malaise plaguing the working class and oppressed around the globe.