Tag Archives: coronavirus;

COVID19: EU aid to Central African Republic

Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management, is travelling today to Bangui on the first flight and will meet H.E. Faustin-Archange Touadéra, President of the Central African Republic, as well as humanitarian organisations.

The European Commission has set up an EU Humanitarian Air Bridge to transport humanitarian workers and emergency supplies for the coronavirus response to some of most critical areas around the world.

Leaving any area of the world unprotected today leaves us all unprotected tomorrow. As part of our global response, the EU will open a dedicated Humanitarian Air Bridge to get aid into areas which lack supplies due to the difficulties of global transit. This can be a lifeline for some of the most vulnerable communities worldwide” Commissioner Janez Lenarčič said.

The first EU flight, operated in cooperation with France, is departing from Lyon airport and will transport around 60 humanitarian workers from various NGOs and 13 tonnes of humanitarian cargo. Two subsequent humanitarian cargo flights will follow in the coming days to transport a further 27 tonnes of humanitarian supplies in total. On their return leg, the Air Bridge flights will also bring back EU citizens and other passengers from the Central African Republic in a repatriation effort.

More EU humanitarian flights are being scheduled for the coming weeks, prioritising African countries where the pandemic has the potential to worsen many existing humanitarian crises.

Tigray region elections controversy

Ethiopia’s Tigray region plans to hold elections, its leading party announced, setting it on a collision course with the federal government in Addis Ababa and imposing strain on the country’s fragile unity.

On May 4 the Executive Committee of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has passed a decision to hold the upcoming elections at the regional level after the decision of the election board to postpone the elections “indefinitely” the context of the pandemic.

The end of March Ethiopian electoral board postponed parliamentary and regional elections scheduled for August 29 due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. A new date has yet to be set but the opposition has already questioned the move.

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front, the region’s governing party, split acrimoniously from the national Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition last year when its three other parties merged to form the new Prosperity Party.

The TPLF said it would proceed with elections in Tigray region despite the nationwide postponement of voting due to COVID-19.

We are making preparations including the holding of a regional election in order to safeguard the rights of our people from chaos,” a TPLF statement said. It did not mention a date for the vote.

Addis Alem Balema, an expert and a prominent Tigray politician has criticised Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government in connection with the change of the election schedule.

Government was working half-heartedly on the next election. Now the Coronavirus complicated it,” the expert said.  Moreover, he criticized Prime minister’s administration pointing that the rule of law in the country is “messy“.

Concerning the strategy to address the situation, Alem Balema added the measures to be taken need to ensure the “rights of nations and nationalities, and foster the federal system.” 

Consultation has to continue and the upcoming election has to be free, fair, and credible” he added.

COVID19: Cote d’Ivoire PM evacuated to France

Cote d’Ivoire Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly (61), the candidate in October’s presidential election from the ruling party, was evacuated on May 2 to France for medical examinations, the presidency informed.

The brief statement from the presidency on May 3 provided no further details about Gon Coulibaly’s condition. Gon Coulibaly self-isolated in late March because of possible exposure to the coronavirus, but the COVID-19 test was negative.

Defence Minister Hamed Bakayoko, who recovered from the coronavirus last month, will serve as interim Prime minister in Gon Coulibaly’s absence, the statement said.

Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara designated Gon Coulibaly in March as the ruling RHDP party’s candidate for the presidential election after excluding a third term himself.

Ivory Coast has recorded more than 1,300 cases of the coronavirus, one of the highest totals in West Africa, and 15 deaths.

South Soudan elections as key to stability

European Council today adopted conclusions stating the EU’s determination to stand by the people of South Sudan in their quest for peace and prosperity, and in facing the consequences of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which risks having far-reaching humanitarian and economic consequences on the newfound stability of the country.

In its conclusions the Council states that the EU welcomes the formation of the Revitalised Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU) in South Sudan as a key step towards a long lasting peace and inclusive and sustainable development in the country, and that full respect of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement of December 2017 is imperative. In this context, the EU underlines the importance of the fulfilment of the security arrangements with the demobilisation of former combatants to ensure the safety and security of all citizens and calls on the UN Security Council to renew the arms embargo.

The Council conclusions stress that the holding of free and credible general elections at the end of the transitional period will be another step towards stability, and that journalists, civil society and human rights defenders must be enabled to operate freely.

At the same time the Council deplores widespread violations of human rights and the culture of impunity. The EU stands ready to adopt further restrictive measures if such violations continue or the peace process is undermined.

EU diplomacy supports CAR electoral calendar

Only a peaceful, inclusive and transparent electoral process, conducted in accordance with the electoral calendar will guarantee credible and legitimate elections, awaited by the population” said the European External Action Service (EEAS) spokesperson, reacting upon various hypothetical scenarios of postponement of the presidential elections in Central African Republic, originally foreseen the end of December 2020.

The poisson of the European Union diplomacy vis-à-vis elections has been announced after the Minusca (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic) raised concerns about the consequences of the constitutional reform project launched by the Central African Republic president Faustin Archange Touadéra, which would allow him to secure his own interim if the December presidential election is postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic.

While the President Touadéra is preparing to validate a constitutional amendment that would allow him to ensure his own interim in the situation of the postponement of the presidential election in December 2020, the project raises the most serious concerns within the UN.

Reportedly the international experts are warning about the destabilising consequences of such a sifnificant legal project, changing the Constitution of the country, in spite of a considerable political opposition to the initiative.

However validated on April 22 by the President’s office, it will be presented to the Council of Ministers in the nearest future.

COVID19: Ghana eased restrictions

In Ghana, President Nana Akufo-Addo lifted a three-week lockdown in its two main cities, where non-essential businesses reopened. Akufo-Addo said the decision was made based on improved tracing of the disease, and to “protect the economy”.

THe move to lift some coronavirus lockdown restrictions this week is aimed to test the possibility of a return to normality after weeks of shutdowns that have damaged economy, and left without source of income a considerable part of population.
Many experts raised concerns of hunger if economy standstill continues for more weeks.

One of Africa’s fastest growing economies, Ghana last month cut its 2020 GDP growth forecast from 6.8% to 1.5% due to the coronavirus pandemic, a rate that would represent its worst performance in nearly four decades.

COVID19: SA faces Lesotho unrest

South Africa will engage in talks to restore calm in Lesotho on April 20 after Prime Minister Thomas Thabane sent soldiers and armoured vehicles onto the streets of Maresu on April 18 to restore order against “rogue national elements”.

The latest upheaval follows Thabane’s decision to suspend parliament without consultation over the COVID-19 pandemic. Last month’s move was challenged in the constitutional court by coalition partners and couple of dozens of rivals within his own party.

The judges ruled against Thabane’s decision on April 17, calling it “irrational”, paving the way for a vote of no-confidence against Thabane once parliament reconvenes.

A parliamentary caucus meeting scheduled on April 19 by the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) was postponed because of the visit by South African envoys, a senior Member of the Parliament said.

Internal divisions persist between Thabane loyalists and opponents. While no date has been set, Lesotho’s assembly is expected to meet as soon as this week.

“ABC is divided and we can no longer pretend,” said Lepota Sekola, adding that some members refused to honour Thabane’s call for the meeting as a show of dissatisfaction.

Lesotho supplies residents and farmers in South Africa’s Gauteng region with vital water supplies and Africa’s most developed country has helped broker peace talks in its smaller neighbour during previous bouts of political instability.

The South African envoys, who were urgently dispatched to help defuse weeks of political tension in the mountain kingdom of 2 million people, would continue talks for a second day on April 20, Thabane’s spokesman said.

Thabane, who is fighting for his political survival as he faces calls to quit and a possible criminal trial, said he had deployed the army in the capital to deal with forces he said wanted to destabilise Lesotho.

The Kingdom of Lesotho has lived thourgh a several coups since gaining independence from Britain in 1966. In 1998 more than 50 people and eight South African soldiers died and parts of Maseru were damaged during a political stand-off and following fighting.

Thabane, 80, had been scheduled to address the people of Lesotho at 1530 GMT on April 19 Sunday, but this was postponed until Monday, his spokesman Relebohile Moyeye said.

“We are not sure when the statement will be tomorrow because the PM is meeting the (South African) envoy again tomorrow at 8am,” Moyeye added.

#COVID19: Zimbabwe mines to continue extractions

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa extended a lockdown from 19 april by two weeks to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, but the measure does not concern mining companies, which are going to contintue their activities.

Mnangagwa said the lockdown would continue because Zimbabwe had not yet met conditions imposed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to lift the measures.

Three people have died from the virus out of the 25 confirmed cases of infection, but health experts expect the figures to rise once authorities starts to apply tests.

“It has been a very hard decision that my government has had to take reluctantly,” Mnangagwa said in a live television broadcast.

Mnangagwa said the government would allow mining companies, which generate the most foreign currency, to resume full operations while manufacturers would work at limited capacity. Mining companies operating in Zimbabwe include local operations of Impala Platinum Holdings and Anglo American Platinum.

Zimbabwe began a 21-day lockdown on March 30, which has confined most people to their homes. But in poor townships, people are venturing out in search of staples like maize meal, leading to long queues at the shops.

COVID19: Nigeria Abba Kyari died

“The Presidency regrets to announce the passage of the Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari,” spokesman Garba Shehu said on Twitter. Kyari had been hospitalized in the Nigeria commercial capital, Lagos, after testing positive for the coronavirus upon his return from a trip to Germany on March 15.

Mallam Abba Kyari, chief of staff to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and an ardent supporter of state intervention in the economy, has died as a result of coronavirus illness. His age wasn’t disclosed. Born in the northeastern state of Borno, Kyari obtained degrees in sociology and law and attended the International Institute for Management Development in Switzerland. He became chief executive officer of the United Bank for Africa Plc and served on the boards of both Unilever Nigeria Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp.’s Nigerian unit. He never disclosed his age or date of birth. However Nigerians in social media claim that he was 82 years old, the life releavnt to his long and impressive career.

Buhari, 77, tested negative for the coronavirus last month after Kyari symptons emerged. The number of infections in Nigeria have doubled to 493, with April 17 recording the highest number of confirmed cases in a day following an increase in testing. Africa’s most populous country has so far recorded 17 deaths from the illness.

Kyari, who was appointed to the position in 2015, was widely regarded as Buhari’s most trusted ally, he ravelled to London last year to get Buhari to sign new oil legislation into law, bypassing Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and acting as de facto Prime minister of Africa’s biggest oil producer.

COVID19: Nigeria security kills imposing restricitons

Security personnel in Nigeria have killed at least 18 people enforcing restrictions introduced to stop the spread of coronavirus, ThisDay reported, citing a report by the National Human Rights Commission. (Image: illustration)

Nigerian security agents have killed people in their enforcement of measures to curb coronavirus, a figure higher than the documented toll inflicted by the disease, the country’s human rights group said.

Africa’s most populous nation (200M) has imposed a total lockdown in city Lagos and the capital Abuja and set restrictions in other regions in a bid to contain the virus.

According to official figures, in Nigeria 407 infection cases have been established, and among them 12 resulted in deaths of the patients.

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