Thursday, July 25, 2024

TPLF asserts ‘erosion of trust’ with federal gov’t amid inadequate implementation of Pretoria deal

In the aftermath of the First Strategic Review Meeting on the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA), the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) voiced concerns over trust erosion with the federal government, citing inadequate implementation of crucial agreement provisions. Held on 11 March, 2024, at the African Union premises in Addis Abeba, the meeting aimed to review the achievements regarding the Pretoria Peace Agreement.

TPLF’s statement on 13 March, 2024, highlighted challenges since the Pretoria Peace Agreement signing, emphasizing the detrimental effects of unresolved issues on public well-being. While acknowledging positive strides like halted hostilities and restored services, TPLF noted unaddressed components such as the withdrawal of Amhara and Eritrean forces and road re-openings.

Particularly worrying was the non-disbursement of budgets, affecting government employees and pensioners. Despite allegiance to the Pretoria Peace Agreement, TPLF stressed collective efforts to honor stipulations for lasting peace.

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Somalia secures 99% debt cancellation from Paris Club creditor nations

Somalia secured the cancellation of 99% of the debt it owed to members of the Paris Club of creditor nations, the Paris Club said thata milestone in the war-scarred country’s efforts to rejoin the international financial system.

Countries including the United States, Japan and Russia cancelled more than $2 billion of Somalia’s debt, the Paris Club, a French finance ministry body that acts as a secretariat for many creditor countries, said in a statement.

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The Horn of Africa country was eligible for more than $4.5 billion of debt relief from all creditors after in December reaching the end of a debt forgiveness initiative overseen by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank.

Somalia reached the “Completion Point” of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC), having been exiled from the international financial system for more than 30 years marked by instability and civil war.

“Paris Club creditors welcomed the Federal Republic of Somalia’s determination to continue to implement a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy and an ambitious economic reform program to create the foundations for sustainable, inclusive economic growth,” the Paris Club said.

Somalia’s $5.3 billion external debt would be reduced to less than 6% of gross domestic product by the end of 2023, from 64% at the end of 2018, the IMF and World Bank said in December.


Over 50 million people may be food insecure in eastern Africa, warns WFP

Food insecurity in eastern Africa is rising swiftly, World Food Programme (WFP), the world’s largest humanitarian organisation, has warned. The number of people affected may be as high as 54 million, a new WFP analysis has suggested, with Sudan (17.7 million), Ethiopia (15.8 million people) and South Sudan (5.7 million were identified as the most concerning countries.

Sudan’s food assistance needs are rapidly increasing as fighting between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) spreads into the southeast.

Ethiopia is one of the countries most vulnerable to climatic shocks, primarily drought and flooding, due to erratic rainfall patterns. The frequency and severity of these events are increasing, wreaking havoc on the lives and livelihoods of millions. Drought has returned to Tigray, Afar, Amhara, and parts of Oromia, Southern, and Southwest regions, causing severe suffering. 

By the end of February, nearly 600,000 South Sudanese returnees and refugees from Sudan, as well as 100,000 from Ethiopia, had arrived, exacerbating acute food insecurity in South Sudan’s northern and eastern counties.

Conflict, inflation, disease outbreaks and a lack of access to nutritious diets and safe water were identified as key factors influencing food security and nutrition in Eastern Africa by WFP.

Climate change has resulted in violent conflicts among smallholder farmers, which have contributed to food insecurity in East Africa.

According to the WFP, approximately 23.4 million people are internally or internationally displaced, including 5 million refugees and asylum seekers and 18.4 million internally displaced persons. Since the conflict began in Sudan, more than 6 million people have been internally displaced, with 1.7 million forced to flee across borders.

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(Down To Earth)

Al-Shabab attacks hotel in Somali capital

Militants from the al-Shabab group have attacked a hotel near the presidential palace in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, security sources and witnesses say.The Islamist group has attacked the Syl Hotel before, which is popular with government officials.

Witnesses reported blasts and gunfire coming from the hotel, telling Reuters news agency fighters were inside.

Media affiliated with the group say four Somali MPs were wounded. The government has not commented.

Al-Shabab said earlier that fighters were in control of the hotel and were shooting “workers and officers of the… government”.

Resident Farah Ali, who lives near the president’s office, told Reuters: “We first heard a huge blast, and then gunfire followed. We understand the fighters are inside [the hotel] for we hear exchange of gunfire.”

“Several gunmen forced their way into the building after destroying the perimeter wall with a heavy explosion,” a security officer told AFP.

Hassan Nur, who escaped by scaling a wall, said: “I don’t know about the casualties but there were many people inside when the attack started.”

Other witnesses reported seeing police arriving within minutes of the attack, which triggered a gun battle with militants.

The Calamada website, which is linked to al-Shabab, said at least four lawmakers and a government spokesperson had been injured in the attack.

Attacks had reduced in recent weeks amid heightened security after the government intensified its military offensive against the Islamist group.

Al-Shabab controls large parts of southern and central Somalia.

Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on Thursday met defense officials to plan how to reclaim lost territory, Somalia’s national news agency Sonna reported.


Ethiopia Releases Former Head of Somali Region

The former president of Ethiopia’s southeastern Somali region was released from prison after five years, state media reported on Thursday.

Abdi Mohamed Omar, commonly known as Abdi Iley, was arrested in August 2018 and charged with inciting violence in his volatile region.

The charges followed fighting in the regional capital Jijiga and nearby towns that left dozens dead.

On Thursday, the justice ministry announced that Abdi’s charges have been terminated “for the sake of people’s interest,” Ethiopia’s official press agency ENA said.

The restive Somali region is Ethiopia’s second-largest but also one of its most unstable.

Clashes in 2018 began in early August when the Ethiopian military moved into Jijiga, sparking looting and mob attacks on non-Somali residents.

The violence was the most serious in Somali region since 2017, when clashes between Somalis and the neighbouring Oromo people along the borders of their ethnically demarcated states forced 1.1 million people from their homes and left hundreds dead.

It was unclear what sparked the military’s intervention.

Abdi—who was accused by rights groups of sanctioning abuses — was arrested later that month after stepping down as the region’s president.

Thursday’s pardon also saw KinfeDagnew, a former head of the military-run Metals and Engineering Corporation (METEC), released, ENA said.

Kinfe was also arrested in 2018 on accusations of corruption and human rights abuses.




Sudan army general rules out Ramadan truce unless RSF leaves civilian sites

Sudan general rejects truce after UNSC calls for cessation of hostilities during the Islamic holy month.

Senior Sudanese Armed Forces General Yasser al-Atta has said there will be no truce in Sudan during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan unless the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group leaves the homes and sites of civilians.

The statement follows an appeal by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for a truce during Ramadan, which begins this week. The RSF said it welcomed the truce call.

Al-Atta’s statement, issued on the army’s official Telegram channel on Sunday, cited recent military advances by the army in Omdurman, part of Sudan’s wider capital.

It said there could be no Ramadan truce unless the RSF complied with a commitment made in May last year at Saudi and US-mediated talks in Jeddah to withdraw from civilian homes and public facilities.

It also said Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the RSF leader commonly known as Hemedti, should not play a role in Sudan’s future politics or military.

The statement follows the UNSC’s appeal for a respite from the 11-month-old conflict during Ramadan, which is expected to begin on Monday or Tuesday, depending on the sighting of the crescent moon.

Fourteen countries on the 15-member council on Friday backed the resolution proposed by the United Kingdom, with only Russia abstaining from the vote.

The resolution called on “all parties to the conflict to seek a sustainable resolution to the conflict through dialogue”.

Fighting between the army, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the RSF erupted in mid-April 2023.

The army has been on the back foot militarily for much of the conflict. In the first days of fighting, the RSF occupied large parts of the capital, Khartoum.


Kagame endorses Raila for AU top job

Rwandan President Paul Kagame has thrown his weight behind Raila Odinga as he eyes the African Union Commission (AUC) chairperson job.

Speaking to NTV, Kagame acknowledged that Odinga exhibited a stellar performance record as the AU High Representative for Infrastructure Development and is well qualified for the chairperson position.

“I respect Raila Odinga I respect his struggles he did a good job of that, [and had] full grasp of it. We will give him our support and wish him well,” Kagame said.

“And not only the support to be there but even when he is there, we’ll give him support for Africa to succeed.”

The endorsement came after Odinga visited Rwanda on March 8, 2024, where he had a tete-a-tete with President Kagame on regional and Pan-African matters.

Kagame now becomes the 7th Head of State to endorse Odinga’s bid after Kenya’s President William Ruto and Kaguta Museveni (Uganda) who have already assured Odinga of their votes.

Other leaders, according to Odinga as he said during a past address include “Mama Suluhu has said she will support me, Salva Kiir has accepted. When I was with Ramaphosa, he said yes.”

Odinga seeks to replace the current seat’s holder Moussa Faki of Chad who will be finishing his two-term tenure by next year. Faki was first appointed in 2017 and won a second term in 2021.

Election of the next AUC chairperson who will replace Moussa Faki, will be conducted in February 2025.


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