With preparations underway for the United Nations to take over from an African Union-led peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (CAR), the Security Council today requested Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to review what was done and how it could be done better in future transitions.
The request was made during the Council's open debate on regional partnership and its evolution in UN peacekeeping, which focused on the Organization's relevant cooperation with African regional groups, as well as with entities under the auspices of the European Union (EU).
The Council expressed its determination "to take effective steps to further enhance the relationship between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations, in particular the African Union," according to a resolution adopted by the body's 15 members.
The meeting, the second held this year on this topic, comes about one year after the African Union-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) was transitioned to the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
In the resolution, the Council highlighted the need to develop regional and subregional organizations' abilities to deploy peacekeeping forces rapidly to support UN 'blue helmets'. In this context, Council members asked the UN chief to initiate, in cooperation with the AU, a lessons learned exercise and to produce specific recommendations by 31 December.
The Council also called for the development of a list of needed capacities and recommendations that would help the AU develop its military, police, technical, logistical and administrative capacities.
Addressing the Council, Mr. Ban said the UN is "in a race against time for the re-hatting" of the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic, known as MISCA, to create the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission, known as MINUSCA.
The new UN Mission will initially comprise up to 10,000 military personnel, including 240 military observers and 200 staff officers, as well as 1,800 police personnel. The CAR has been embroiled in fighting currently fuelled by inter-communal retaliatory attacks between anti-balaka and Séléka rebels, after the latter were ousted from power in January 2014. An estimated 2.2 million people are in need of humanitarian aid as a result.
Given the great need and the slower than expected support for the Mission, Mr. Ban underscored that "we - the UN, the AU and the EU, together with other key partners - need to do better."
He stressed that the international community must use existing mechanisms and capacity more effectively and predictably, and to stop looking at different tools in isolation and only through the lens of the relevant organizations.
"Instead, we should see how we can bring them together in a way that will finally allow the international community to respond much more quickly," Mr. Ban added.
Source: All Africa
In a guest column for AllAfrica, E. Gyimah Boadi of Ghana's Center for Democratic Development says the vast majority of Africans who prefer democracy over authoritarian regimes deserve to be heard at the forthcoming U.S.-Africa Summit convened by President Barack Obama.
The child kidnappings by Boko Haram have done a great deal for Africa's critics and its strongmen. Legitimate concerns about security in some areas - Nigeria's northern villages, South Sudan and the Central African Republic - can lead to the assertion that Africa is not ready for democracy.
The notion that strong authoritarian governments create the best protection against perceived African instability, both political and economic, will likely be expressed once again at the United States-Africa Summit, to be convened on August 5 and 6.
But that is not what African people say. Majorities endorse freedom, not authoritarian governments - and those majorities deserve to be heard as their leaders and the President Obama shape America's evolving African engagement.
Seven out of ten Africans prefer democracy to other political regimes, and the proportion of deeply committed democrats - those who also reject authoritarian alternatives - has risen steadily over the past decade, according to Afrobarometer, a network of researchers who have surveyed African opinion since 1999.
Of course, the state of democracy shows great variety across Africa. Fewer than half of all adults profess to prefer democracy in Madagascar (38 percent) and Swaziland (46 percent), where open elections have been repeatedly disputed, postponed, or never held at all. By contrast, almost everyone expresses support for democracy in Senegal (88 percent) and Zambia (90 percent), where recent elections have led to peaceful turnovers of national leaders.
In countries like Ghana, Senegal, Zambia and Mauritius, citizens' endorsements of democracy as the best kind of government are matched by high levels of satisfaction with their own governments' performances. These consolidated democracies deserve high levels of American aid, trade and investment.
The United States should also encourage such countries to continue improving the accountability of leaders to their people, in order to sustain people's beliefs that they can influence their own development by voting in fair elections and campaigning for the services and rights they need.
Several other countries, including Cote d'Ivoire, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Togo, and Cameroon show severe "democratic deficits". People in these countries share democratic aspirations with their more liberal neighbors, but their judgment of the state of governance is far lower: they demand more democracy than they are getting.
This makes it likely that ruling elites in these countries will continue to face popular pressures for improved democratic governance. Failure to meet these popular demands can produce social discontent that more radical forces can exploit, as we have seen most recently in Mali and Nigeria.
The implications for Western policies towards Africa are clear. Helping to strengthen democratic institutions is consistent with popular aspirations, and d emocracy is an essential part of African aspirations and the continent's future development.
Capitulating to the continent's dictators and strongmen - whether justified as a needed concession to security, or a pragmatic emphasis on "development first" - may create the deep dissatisfaction with governments experienced in Mali and in North African countries such as Egypt and Tunisia during the Arab Spring.
The accountability of leaders in such countries would be further undermined if strategic U.S. interventions are too narrowly focused on short-term geo-political and economic considerations, and ultimately supportive of autocratic regimes. Such moves would be contrary to the popular desire for democratic governance.
The forthcoming summit offers a unique opportunity for dialogue, engagement, and consensus on Africa's development and relations with the U.S. While economic and strategic issues are certainly important, this is not a moment when democratic change should be relegated to a lesser status. The opinions of average Africans sharply emphasize the importance of governments accountable to the people on the continent.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recently said: "This is a moment of great opportunity for Africans. It is also a moment of decision." Let U.S. policy support governments and aid spending that increase citizens' participation in the most important decisions of their future.
E. Gyimah-Boadi is the executive director of Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), in Accra, Ghana, and of Afrobarometer, a survey project tracking public opinion on democratic and economic reforms in 34 African countries. He is also a professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Ghana, Legon. He received his PhD from the University of California, Davis.
Source: All Africa
Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, recent set out why he is optimistic for Africa’s future, stating that “the rise of this continent will depend on whether leaders – here in Ethiopia and all across Africa – are open to learning from each other, and from their own people.”
Addressing students at Addis Ababa University, where he was presented with an honorary degree, Gates said: “Africa is now in an incredible position to shape its own destiny for the better for one very simple and powerful reason: the countries of Africa are learning from each other.”
In his remarks, Gates acknowledged the development gains made through foreign governments, international aid, and non-profits, such as the foundation, but asserted that “the real fuel for development will be the resources of African nations themselves – whether that’s in the form of government funding, private-sector investment, or just plain human creativity at all levels of society.”
“This is where the idea of ‘African countries learning from each other’ becomes so important. If you want to spend your national budgets as effectively as possible, there is now a clear path for doing exactly that – and Africans themselves are defining that path, for others to follow if they choose,” he said.
During his visit to Ethiopia, Gates emphasized the importance of health and agriculture, commending the government of Ethiopia for its Health Extension Program and the establishment of its Agricultural Transformation Agency. “If you get health and agricultural development right, the gains are exceptional, and they reverberate through the rest of your economy for decades to come,” he added.
He also praised other nations, such as Liberia, Malawi, and Tanzania, for the great progress made in cutting child mortality rates, but acknowledged that there is still a long way to go before Africa reaches its full potential. “There is no path to lasting growth within Africa that is not widespread growth. It’s not possible. If Africa seeks prosperity, it must provide for the health and nutrition of all – including the poorest.”
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works with partners in Africa to make smart investments so that together we can achieve real and lasting impact for those with the greatest challenges. The foundation’s investments range from cutting edge research in health and agriculture in the world’s most high-tech laboratories, to innovative approaches to delivering basic public goods and services to families and communities. The foundation’s efforts cover nearly all of its key program areas such as agriculture, family planning, financial services for the poor, HIV, malaria, polio, and vaccines delivery.
Source: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
KADUNA - At least 82 persons were killed recent, and several others injured in two bomb blasts in Kaduna, targeted at former head of state, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) and an Islamic cleric, Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi. Both men, however, escaped unhurt.
In a statement he issued immediately after the incident, General Buhari declared that it was an assassination attempt and narrated how the suicide bomber tried to carry out the deadly assignment.
Kaduna State Governor, Alhaji Mukhtar Ramalan Yero, in response imposed a 24-hour curfew on Kaduna town after the blasts.
In his reaction, President Goodluck Jonathan thanked God for sparing the lives of General Buhari and Sheikh Bauchi, and extended condolences to families of the dead, while commiserating with the injured.
The first bomb attack took place on Isa Kaita Road, off Ali Akilu road around 12:30pm, yesterday, when the convoy of Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi was returning home after he gave a Ramadan Tafsir sermon to thousands of Muslims of the Tijaniyya sect. The Police said 25 people were killed, but those who spoke to newsmen at the scene said about 40 died in the blasts.
Bauchi had escaped a bomb attack about three weeks ago near his home in Eskolia quarters of Kaduna.
By Luka Binniyat
Source: All Africa
Determined to decisively tackle the menace of insurgency in the country, President Goodluck Jonathan in an urgent letter to the National Assembly has sought the approval of the lawmakers to borrow $1bn (about N169bn), in order to launch an all-out war against the terrorist sect, Boko Haram, which has wasted many lives and properties in the country.
The President who made his decision known yesterday in a letter he addressed both to the Senate President, David Mark and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, explained that the money would also enable the government to engage in what he described as government to government arrangement for equipment upgrade.
THISDAY had also reported that the Nigerian Army has started taking delivery of some critical assets amongst, which are two sophisticated helicopter gunships with inbuilt night vision technology capable of neutralising the nocturnal manoeuvres of the deadly terrorist group.
Both moves, as well as the others that have been taken in recent times, reaffirm the government's determination not to treat the terrorist group with kid gloves any longer.
In part, the president's letter reads: "You are no doubt aware of the ongoing and serious security challenges which the nation is facing as typified by the Boko-Haram terrorist threat. I would like to bring to your attention the urgent need to upgrade the equipment, training and logistic of our Armed Forces and security services to enable them to more forcefully confront this serious threat. "For this reason, I seek the concurrence of the National Assembly for external borrowing of not more than $1 billion including government to government arrangement for this upgrade. While counting on the steadfast support of the distinguished members of the Senate as always, please accept my assurances of highest consideration."
The latest request is coming on the heels of the 2014 appropriation, which gave the lion share of the nation's N4.964 trillion budget to defence.
The Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, recently hinted that the military had already accessed N130.7 billion between January and April, 2014 while another N3.8 billion already approved by President Goodluck Jonathan was being processed and would soon be released to the military.
She explained that of the disbursed N130.7 billion, N85.9 billion was for personnel cost. According to her, "Defence spending is top in everything. You know that military establishments need new things to assist them in their work and ours will not be different. No budget will be enough to meet their demands but for now. I think the sector takes almost a trillion of the budget."
Inaugurates Victims' Support Funds Committee
To demonstrate his concern for the victims of the terrorist attacks, especially in terms of financial assistance, President Jonathan yesterday at the Presidential Villa inaugurated Victims Support Funds Committee in emotion-laden ceremony. The Committee is chaired by Theophilus Danjuma President Jonathan Wednesday said terrorists who take delight in killing and maiming innocent people have no hiding place, noting that they are enemies of humanity and must be fished out and brought to justice.
According to him, 2009 appeared to be a tragic turning point as Boko Haram, which he described an assemblage of heartless individuals, took it upon itself to bring evil on the country. The president added that the violent Islamist sect had in their mission, turned women to widows and reduced children to orphans.
"They have killed and maimed and struck fear into law-abiding citizens. They have destroyed villages, attacked property and terminated people's livelihoods without a care in the world. "They have engaged our security agencies in a meaningless warfare that has wasted unimaginable human and material resources.
By Mohammed Bello, Senator Iroegbu and Jaiyeola Andrews
Source: This Day