Comoros: Civilians flee strife-torn city on Anjouan island

Comoros: Civilians flee strife-torn city on Anjouan island

Government sends in more troops and cuts power and water in Mutsamudu to quell unrest against constitutional changes.

Security forces in Comoros have intensified their crackdown against anti-government protesters on the island of Anjouan, with witnesses reporting heavy gunfire and residents fleeing amid a wave of unrest against constitutional changes.

President Azali Assoumani on Thursday sent in reinforcements to quell a nascent uprising in the opposition stronghold as clashes continued for a fourth day between security forces and armed protesters.

Residents of the island are angry at Assoumani’s plans to extend term limits and end rotation of the presidency between the country’s three main islands after one term, a move disadvantaging Anjouan, which was next in line.

An official at Anjouan’s airport told the AFP news agency a significant contingent of security forces arrived on the island to quell unrest there.

Residents said the old medina quarter of Anjouan’s capital Mutsamudu, with its narrow, intersecting alleyways, has become the epicentre of the fighting.

“Those who were able to fled the old town to seek refuge in the outer suburbs… which are a safe haven,” said one witness who declined to be named.

French expatriate Anais Greusard told AFP that there were “big explosions” late on Wednesday and “a lot of shooting” in the early hours of Thursday.

Authorities also cut off water and power supplies in Mutsamudu, residents said.

“They have cut water and electricity. [But] the hooded protesters are not the ones suffering, it is the population which have been taken like hostages,” a resident of Mutsamudu told Reuters.

“If this continues, we risk starving to death. We are praying that it ends quickly,” added the woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

‘People are revolting’

Interior Minister Mohamed Daoudou said on Wednesday that the situation was back to normal in Anjouan after three people were killed in the violence. Witnesses claimed that many more people had been injured in the clashes

He blamed “terrorists, as well as drug addicts and alcoholics” for the unrest.

“The people are revolting… they won’t stop shooting,” said Ahmed Samir, an exiled leader of the opposition Union for the Development of the Comoros (UPDC) party who added that the people wanted to overthrow Assoumani.

Samir claimed that around 40 armed men were leading an armed insurrection against government forces while witnesses described masked men with automatic weapons roaming the medina.

A night-time curfew remained in place on the island.

The United Nations and African Union have called for stalled talks between rival parties to resume.

In August, Assoumani – who comes from the largest island, Grande Comore – said a July referendum had approved the extension of presidential term limits and an end to the rotating presidency. The opposition called the referendum illegal.

Assoumani plans to compete in presidential polls in early 2019. That would deny Anjouan its turn to occupy the presidency from 2021, as would have happened under the previous system that rotated the post among the country’s three main islands.

Assoumani has been in power since 2016 and would have had to step down in 2021 under the old term limits.

The former military official joins a string of leaders in African countries such as Rwanda, Uganda and Cameroon who have extended presidential term limits or otherwise amended the constitution to remain in power.

SOURCE: News agencies

The Aborted S. Africas Zuma Nuclear Power Deal

The Aborted S. Africas Zuma Nuclear Power Deal

Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana; Writing by Alexander Winning; Editing by Joe Brock
S.Africa’s Zuma tried to strike nuclear power deal with Putin in 2015 – fifinmin

JOHANNESBURG- South African Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene told a corruption inquiry on Wednesday that former president Jacob Zuma pressured him to agree to a massive nuclear power deal with Russia to be presented to President Vladimir Putin in 2015.

Zuma wanted to present the nuclear deal to Putin at the summit of the BRICS group of emerging economies in the Russian city of Ufa, Nene told the inquiry in Johannesburg.

Sources  – (Reuters) 

 

Chinese model presents many pitfalls for African states

Chinese model presents many pitfalls for African states

By KAY COLES JAMES

The recent Forum on China Africa Cooperation has ended. Held in Beijing, these annual extravaganzas are part of China’s African engagement strategy.

One key goal: to showcase China as a country worthy of emulation and support.

There is reason to admire parts of China’s recent success. Its move toward greater economic freedom, while limited, has helped millions of Chinese rise out of poverty and created what is now the world’s second largest economy.

Yet there is reason to be wary of Beijing’s claims that its developmental paradigm is best suited to bring peace and prosperity to Africa.

The Chinese model couples some economic freedom with repressive governance.

It was born of Beijing’s belief that democracy was a threat to the power of its ruling Communist Party, and would create turmoil that would slow economic growth.

DEMOCRACY

As economic models go, this one is new and relatively untested. It is a path far different from that taken by most of the world’s wealthiest countries, which achieved prosperity without sacrificing political freedoms.

Indeed, some scholars have found a strong correlation between democracy and economic growth. Rejecting democratic principles of governance would be tragic — especially for millions of young Africans who already feel voiceless.

Centuries of experience show that democratic principles provide the best foundation for building political systems that are responsive to ordinary citizens.

My country, the United States, is an excellent example. African-Americans such as myself eventually gained full rights here because our democratic system could not tolerate the contradiction of leaving a significant portion of its citizens voiceless.

When societies reject democratic principles, human suffering inevitably follows.

FREEDOM

Undemocratic systems care little for the individual’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — as tragically illustrated by China’s current imprisonment of as many as one million Uighurs (a religious and ethnic minority) in re-education camps.

Finally, ordinary citizens can do little to hold undemocratic leaders accountable, including in their dealings with foreign governments.

To achieve its potential, Africa needs investment and infrastructure. China can help with that.

Yet only in strong democracies will average citizens be able to pressure their leaders to strike fair deals that benefit more than a small elite.

Those who aspire to freedom and prosperity should urge their governments to manage relations with China carefully. Most African countries won full sovereignty only within the last 60 years, often after costly liberation struggles.

DEBT

Yet today a growing number of African countries find themselves deeply in debt to China, sometimes due to projects of dubious economic value.

There is a real possibility that some of these nations will have to surrender some of their sovereignty to Beijing to settle those debts.

It has already happened in Sri Lanka. That small South Asian nation recently had to give up rights to its Hambantota port for 99 years to China because it could not repay Beijing.

Consider as well that, despite the Chinese government’s many public commitments to the principles of non-interference and respect for sovereignty, it swiftly punishes countries that try to host Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, or that seek official diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

The lesson is clear: China will respect African countries’ sovereignty as long as doing so advances Beijing’s foreign policy goals.

WOMEN

African countries that choose a different model will find partners, including the US, eager to collaborate with them to build societies that are truly sovereign and both prosperous and free.

The US has a good record in this regard, helping countries such as Japan and South Korea that were once on a developmental par with many African countries.

I am thrilled that the First Lady of the United States will travel to the continent in October to build on the US’s warm history with many African countries.

Mrs Trump’s championing of the critical role of women, including in the building of prosperous and free societies, is an example of the sorts of values underpinning U.S. initiatives in Africa.

The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief has provided care for millions of Africans, and decreased by up to 40 percent the rate of new HIV infections among young women who are now living monuments to the benefits of US-Africa co-operation.

The writer is President of The Heritage Foundation, a Conservative think tank based in Washington DC.

Source – Daily Nation

How the political economy of agriculture holds Africa back

How the political economy of agriculture holds Africa back

By FREDRICK GOLOOBA-MUTEBI

Earlier last week, I attended perhaps the largest gathering of people who work on and think about agriculture in Africa.

Organised by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (Agra) in collaboration with several partners, the meeting was in Rwanda’s clean and secure capital, Kigali. As one would expect at this sort of gathering, a wide range of topics was discussed. It sometimes wasn’t easy to decide which sessions to attend and which ones to miss.

A highlight of the event was the launch of the 2018 Africa Agriculture Status Report.

The report makes for interesting reading. It shows the progress, albeit limited, that the continent is making, thanks in part to major continental initiatives such as the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme and other ambitious plans by the African Union and numerous development partners providing much-needed financial and technical assistance.

However, some of the chapters do not make for happy reading. They raise some very uncomfortable questions for the people in charge, the political leaders especially.

A whopping 65pc

It is over half a century since Africans started running their own affairs. Some may argue that this claim is mainly theoretical, but at least all African countries are independent.

A whopping 65 per cent of Africans, of whom the majority are poor, still depend on agriculture as their main, if not sole source of livelihood. In every country, agriculture is the backbone of the economy, a fact that politicians cite in almost every speech they make on economic matters.

Even then, agriculture in Africa is backward. The backwardness explains why the continent has been a net food importer since the 1980s.

While most of Asia transformed its agriculture long ago into an engine of economic growth, in Africa only a few countries have taken or begun to take coherent and consistent action towards achieving that goal. And now think of this: All this sloth and stagnation is despite Africa’s possession of abundant natural endowments.

Africa has more than half of the global total of uncultivated arable land. Its tropical and sub-tropical climates permit long and multiple farming seasons. Its labour force is mostly young and energetic, with large numbers unemployed or underemployed.

The backwardness of agriculture in Africa is visible in such indicators as productivity of both land and labour. Both remain low in comparison with other parts of the world. Yields are rising, but not quickly enough. In many countries, value-addition is more the stuff of politicians’ speechifying making than reality.

Perhaps most sobering is the fact that the value of agricultural imports into Africa is higher than that of exports from it. What can explain all this? Many factors. History and politics are arguably most significant.

To understand the role of these two factors, one ought first of all to agree that the entire development or social transformation endeavour is patently political.

Leaders who seek deliberately to transform their countries are invariably driven by political imperatives.

A hungry majority is an angry majority

By way of a simple illustrative example, in countries that are led by minority groups whose ability to hold on to power depends on securing acceptance by potentially hostile majorities, governments tend to focus on the imperative of pursuing prosperity, not least because the wealthier and more contented their potential adversaries are, the less they will be minded to rise up against the status quo.

Where agriculture is the source of livelihood for most people, there is no better way to ensure peace and stability in the long run than to ensure that it prospers. There are various examples of this.

In Africa, however, leaders have often sought to take shortcuts to maintaining stability, via bribery of potential opponents, or simple repression.

Elsewhere, existential threats to sitting governments have not been potentially hostile ethnic majorities, but rival political groups fronting ideologies that contain the promise of prosperity for the hungry and angry poor.

There are examples in East Asia where investment in smallholder agriculture became a priority for governments that were facing the threat of overthrow by communist movements for which poor peasants were a potentially large pool from which to recruit insurgents.

It thus became imperative to tackle poverty. Agricultural development provided the quickest route to putting money on a more or less permanent basis in the pockets of the hungry and angry masses. And as peasants became more prosperous, their prosperity provided the grounds for a systematic pursuit of industrialisation in order to supply them with the industrial goods that, thanks to rising incomes, they could now afford.

In Africa, governments have for the most part been lucky to rule over quiescent peasants who make no demands because they are usually contented with the little they have, and have political and social elites that are easy to buy off, manipulate, or intimidate into silence.

This is not to argue that agriculture in Africa will not develop until conditions similar to those that have underlain agricultural transformation elsewhere emerge. Rather, the argument here is that African leaders who do not face political imperatives forcing them to pay close attention to agriculture cannot simply be talked or financed into it by experts or donors.

Frederick Golooba-Mutebi is a Kampala- and Kigali-based researcher and writer on politics and public affairs. E-mail: fgmutebi@yahoo.com

Original Post – The East Africa

Kofi Annan gets military burial

Kofi Annan gets military burial

Daniel Mumbere with Shaban Alfa

The former United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Atta Annan has been laid to rest today (September 13) in his native Ghana, after a state funeral that will be attended by people from all walks of life including leaders from all over the world.

Annan, a Ghanaian national and Noble peace prize laureate, died in a Swiss hospital last month at the age of 80. He was surrounded in his last days by his second wife Nane and children Ama, Kojo and Nina.

The family of Kofi Annan have shared emotional and powerful tributes, describing him as a ‘special father’ and an ‘extraordinary human being’.

Opera singer Barbara Hendricks, a UN refugee council goodwill ambassador who sang at Annan’s Nobel ceremony, performed the civil rights anthem “Oh, Freedom” at the funeral of Christian prayers and song.

Among the global leaders who arrived in the Ghana capital, Accra, for the memorial ceremony and subsequent burial at a military cemetery were:

  • Ethiopian president Mulatu Teshome
  • Ivorian president Alassane Ouattara
  • Liberian president George Manneh Weah
  • Namibian president Hage Geingob
  • Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa
  • Angolan vice-president
  • Nigerien Prime Minister
  • Ex-presidents of Germany and Mauritius
  • The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
  • African Union chief Moussa Faki Mahamat
  • Royalty included Princess Beatrix, the former queen of the Netherlands, and her daughter-in-law Princess Mabel, who were close friends.
  • Highlights of the burial which took place at a military cemetery located in Burma Camp had a religious part of it that included a series of prayers from the clergy.

    After his casket was lowered into the ground, his wife and president of Ghana cast the first pieces of earth. A full military firing of gunshots followed after which a wreath laying ceremony followed.

    • President Akufo-Addo on behalf of the Government of Ghana
    • Antonio Guterres on behalf of the United Nations
    • Ambassador Kobina Annan on behalf of the family
    • Nane Annan, the widow
    • Children Ama, Kojo and Nina.

Three days of national mourning

The remains of Kofi Annan were received by the Ghanaian government led by president Nana Akufo-Addo on Monday, and a three-day national mourning started on Tuesday.

The casket of Ghana’s illustrious son, who served as the United Nations top diplomat for a decade, was laid in state at the Accra International Conference Center (AICC), for two days, where members of the public and dignitaries paid their last respects.

Wednesday’s session was dominated by customary rites for Annan, a dignitary of Ashanti lineage who was granted a royal title by the Ashanti king in 2002. The elders said the rites were necessary to clear the path for a peaceful “travel” for their royal.

“Custom demands that we see him off with the necessary clothing and water for his journey to the other world,” one of the chiefs from the Akwamu traditional area told Reuters.

Mugabe reconciles with the man who ousted him after Mnangagwa sends private jet to pick up Grace

Mugabe reconciles with the man who ousted him after Mnangagwa sends private jet to pick up Grace

Robert Mugabe has forgiven Emmerson Mnangagwa, the man who threw him out of power last year, and says that the new president is the right man to rule Zimbabwe.

Mr Mugabe, 94, on Thursday said: “There was an election. Zanu-PF was represented by Emmerson Mnangagwa and [Nelson] Chamisa represented MDC-Alliance and results came out saying the person who won was Emmerson Mnangagwa.

“We have accepted the result and we hope that we will continue respecting the will of the people. The gun does not and should not lead politics.”

He added that he was grateful Mr Mnangagwa, 75, had hired a luxury aircraft to take his wife Grace from Singapore to Harare for the funeral of her mother, Idah Marufu, who died last week.

His remarks were markedly different to those he made just six weeks ago, on the eve of the first election since he was ousted, when Mr Mugabe said he would vote for the opposition candidate and that he had not trusted Mr Mnangagwa since they began their political relationship more then 50 years ago.

He also previously complained that he was short of money since the soft coup d’etat last November put him and his family under house arrest within their vast estate in Harare’s northern suburbs.

Mr Mugabe claimed he lacked funds to repair the roof of his Chinese-style mansion and needed to move house.

Mrs Mugabe, who lead the campaign within Zanu-PF against Mr Mnangagwa to prevent him from becoming her husband’s successor, this week gushed: “He [Mnangagwa] loves us. He knows we we love him too. We pray for him because it’s God’s will that he is president. We pray that he be given the wisdom to lead the country.”

Mr Mnangagwa fled to Mozambique after he was sacked as vice president last October following months of humiliations when he was criticised at rallies by Mrs Mugabe, often when he was sitting in the front row.

Grace Mugabe | A life in controversies

Grace Mugabe married Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe in 1996, after working as his secretary. She quickly rose through the ranks of the ruling Zanu-PF party, becoming head of the Women’s League and a member of its 49-person Politburo.

Arguably the biggest scandal during her political career was her spending. Acquiring the nickname “Gucci Grace”, Mrs Mugabe became legendary for international shopping trips including to London’s Harrods, and reportedly once spent £40,000 in an afternoon in the city.

Mrs Mugabe shrugged off accusations of extravagance, saying that she went to the luxury shop to buy almonds in a bid to eat healthily.

Her overseeing of two lavish palaces being built in Zimbabwe, where 76 per cent of rural households live on less than $1.25 per day, was also derided.

Eyebrows were again raised in 2014 when Mrs Mugabe was awarded doctoral degree in sociology only two months after enrolling.

Allegations of violence have also dogged Mrs Mugabe, with The Times in 2009 reporting that she beat up a photographer with the assistance of her bodyguards when in Hong Kong.

In 2017, a young woman alleged that Mrs Mugabe beat her with an electric cable in a hotel room in Johannesburg. Mrs Mugabe denied the attack.

Months earlier the armed forces airlifted him to hospital in South Africa because he said he was poisoned at a rally he attended with the Mugabes.

In June this year, a grenade exploded at a rally addressed by Mr Mnangagwa, killing two security aides and injuring Kembo Mohadi Kembo, vice president, and Oppah Muchinguru-Kashiri, a cabinet minister.

Many of Mr Mugabe’s supporters encouraged voters to support the opposition MDC Alliance and Mr Chamisa at elections on July 30. The elections went off peacefully but the army opened fire at an anti-Mnangagwa demonstration the next day and killed six people.

Now Mr Mugabe, who was in power for 38 years, says that Mr Mnangagwa won the elections and the results were confirmed by the constitutional court two weeks ago.

Mr Mnangagwa appointed his cabinet Friday and included Olympic star, Kirsty Coventry, a white swimmer, as his sports minister, while ignoring most of those previously favoured by Mr Mugabe.

First Published by The Telegraph