USA : President Trump Suspends Aid to WHO

United States President Donald Trump has ordered the suspension of his country’s funding to the World Health Organization (WHO), over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic while his administration reviews its response to the global crisis. Speaking during a White House news conference on Tuesday, April 14, 2020, President Trump said, « Had the WHO done its job to get medical experts into China to objectively assess the situation on the ground and to call out China’s lack of transparency, the outbreak could have been contained with very little death ». He added that the WHO promoted China’s « disinformation » about the virus that led to a wider outbreak.

The United States is the biggest overall donor to the Geneva-based WHO, contributing more than $400 million in 2019, roughly 15% of its budget. A decision on whether the US resumes funding will be made after the review, which Mr Trump said would last 60 to 90 days.

Hours after the US President made the declaration, the UN scribe and some medical experts reacted to the decision. According to the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, it is « not the time » to cut funding to the WHO, « Now is the time for unity and for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences, » Guterres said. 

Dr Patrice Harris, President of the American Medical Association called it « a dangerous step in the wrong direction that will not make defeating COVID-19 easier ». Dr Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security said, « It’s not at the middle of a pandemic that you do this type of thing ». Prior to the freezing of funds by the United States, the WHO had launched an appeal in March for $675m to help fight the coronavirus pandemic and is reported to be planning a fresh appeal for at least $1bn. 

Meanwhile, during a strategy update meeting on Wednesday, April 15, 2020, the WHO cautioned countries that ease restrictions imposed to fight the spread of the coronavirus to wait for at least two weeks to evaluate the impact of such changes before easing again. The UN agency said, “To reduce the risk of new outbreaks, measures should be lifted in a phased, step-wise manner based on an assessment of the epidemiological risks and socio-economic benefits of lifting restrictions on different workplaces, educational institutions, and social activities…,” the body reiterated.

Centrafrique: le huitième accord signé

Après dix jours de négociations à Khartoum au Soudan, le gouvernement et les quatorze mouvements armés ont signé mercredi au palais présidentiel à Bangui un accord de paix. Sous l’égide de l’Union africaine (UA) et de l’Organisation des Nations unies (ONU), les parties sont parvenues à un consensus même si jusqu’ici l’on ignore toujours le contenu du texte final. Mais, l’on se félicite tout de même de ce nouvel accord, le huitième du genre depuis 2012. « Le premier effet de cet accord est la cessation de toute violence contre les civils», s’est réjoui le président centrafricain.

Faustin Archange Touadéra poursuivra: « Ce jour est pour nous un moment historique qui consacre l’aboutissement de presque trois années d’efforts». Il affirmera par la suite avoir tendu la main aux groupes armés » en vue d’une « nouvelle gouvernance inclusive à tous les niveaux ». « Sans attendre, nous allons nous atteler à la mise en place d’une commission inclusive qui sera le dispositif approprié pour offrir à nos compatriotes les instruments d’une justice qui promet la vérité, la réhabilitation des victimes et la réconciliation nationale. Ses conclusions alimenteront le travail de la Commission vérité, justice, réparation et réconciliation qui sera opérationnelle à la fin du premier trimestre 2019 », a-t-il promis.

Bien qu’absents à Bangui mercredi au moment de la signature du texte final, Ali Darassa chef de l’Unité pour la paix en Centrafrique (UPC) et Noureddine Adam, leader du Front populaire pour la renaissance de la Centrafrique (FPRC), les deux principaux groupes rebelles, avaient paraphé le document la veille dans la capitale soudanaise. Dans le camp des antiBalaka, un groupe d’autodéfense à dominance chrétienne, l’on voit en l’«Accord de Khartoum » un signe d’espoir. « C’est la paix qu’on a ramenée du Soudan, la concorde, l’unité nationale. Et la réconciliation nationale, elle est aujourd’hui effective.», a souligné Igor Lamaka, porte-parole des anti-Balaka, fidèles à Patrice Ngaïssona, transféré à la Cour pénale internationale CPI.

Du côté de la médiation, l’on appelle vivement au respect de cet accord dit «historique». «Le véritable défi sera le suivi de cet accord. Il ne faut pas qu’il soit un énième accord sans suite comme disent les cyniques (…) Nous serons très regardants sur l’application effective de cet accord », a promis Moussa Faki Mahamat, président de la Commission de l’UA. Pour sa part, Parfait Onanga Anyanga, représentant du secrétaire général de l’ONU pour la Centrafrique, a exhorté « à rester sourds au tumulte de tous ceux qui, hors contexte, et dans le confort des réseaux sociaux, travestissent les faits et tentent de manipuler la réalité ».

Election In Nigeria: Hitch Free Vote Tomorrow

Over eighty-four million Nigerians are set to cast their votes tomorrow in Presidential and Parliamentary elections. Slated to take place a week earlier, polling was delayed due to problems connected with the transportation of electoral materials to some parts of the country. Addressing a cross-section of the diplomatic community last Wednesday in Abuja, INEC Chairman Professor Mahmood Yakubu said, as at yesterday Thursday February 21, all electoral material have been distributed to all the seven hundred and seventy-four Local Government Areas of Nigeria. He stressed the commitment of the electoral commission to surpass the achievements of previous polls in the country. In the same vein, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, urged the international community to respect the sovereignty of Nigeria and allow the country solve her internal challenges without undue interference. At the official level therefore and judging from ongoing activities, all hands appear to be on deck to ensure a fair and free from fear electoral process.

Collective Resolve

A man’s country, we are told is not just a certain area of land. It is a principle and, patriotism appears to be loyalty to that principle. Watching the Nigerian political scene a few hours to balloting in one of the most highly contested Presidential election in its history, indices of a collective resolve for a peaceful, free, and fair elections emerge. The two principle contenders have been urging followers to respect the national resolve for a peaceful balloting. President Mohammadu Buhari of the APC Party appealed to Nigerians to “refrain from civil disorder and remain peaceful, patriotic and united to ensure that no force or conspiracy derail our democratic development’’. The PDP flag bearer, Atiku Abubakar called for calm “appealing to Nigerians to come out and vote and be patient about it.” Although the electoral history of Nigeria is riddled with rampant rumour mongering and a pre-disposition to suspect the worst, all indications point to a hitch-free outcome. The penchant for fears that a fix is being organized is taking a nose dive, giving room to voter enthusiasm and growing confidence in the electoral process. The daily press briefing at the Abuja International Conference Centre by the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Pro fessor Mahmood Yakubu has contributed in building trust in the entire electoral process. The consistent efforts of the INEC Chair to distance his organisation from the contenders have been highly applauded by international observers of the Nigerian electoral process. Professor Mahmood Yakubu’s position on the ‘’ shoot-on-sight’’ order of incumbent President Buhari is one of many examples of the Electoral Commission’s resolve to play the card of a neutral umpire.

Incentives

On the eve of elections tomorrow, the civil society in the economic capital, Lagos and throughout the entire country, has been taking measures to encourage voters to perform their civic rights. The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria has reduced the price of hydrocarbon products by five naira. Fares on land and air travel are also seeing a reduction for the next forty-eight hours by the Transporter Union to incite voters to flood the polling booths tomorrow. The Federal and State Go vernments started paying salaries as early as last Tuesday in a calculated attempt to enable voters prepare for tomorrow. Many other incentives by other civil society outfits geared towards encouraging millions of Nigerians to contribute in the choice of leaders in a democratic dispensation are highly applauded. At the level of security, all has been put in place to ensure a crime free environment. Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai held strategic meetings with field commanders in Abuja last Wednesday. Clear and precise orders were given to Military Commanders to deal decisively with ballot box snatching, thuggery and other electoral crimes. The Army High Command insist that “ all must be done to avoid creating deliberate avenues for post electoral mayhem”. Injecting democratic values into the genetic components of the world’s most populous Black Country is a sterling indication that Africa has come of age. The reading of the current electoral pulse in Nigeria appears to be in the positive zone.

Nigerian Government Apologises For Airstrike Error

Over 50 civilians were killed on January 17, 2017 after a fighter pilot mistook them for Boko Haram terrorists.

 

People in northeastern Nigeria are in mourning mood after tragedy struck on Tuesday, January 17, 2017, resulting in the death of 52 innocent people and the wounding of about 200 others. Thisday newspaper reported yesterday, January 18, 2017 that a Nigerian Air Force fighter jet mistakenly dropped bombs on settlements near the border with Cameroon harbouring Internally-displaced People. The incident happened in Rann, Kala Balge Local Government Area of Borno State.

Helicopters were immediately dispatched to the scene to evacuate the critically wounded. Amongst those killed were workers of the International Committee of Red Cross, ICRC and Medicins Sans Frontiers, MSF. Major General Lucky Irabor, the Theatre Commander of “Operation Lafiya Dole,” told the News Agency of Nigeria that he gave the order for the operation. “We received a report on the gathering of Boko Haram terrorists around Kala Balge. I coordinated and directed that the air component of our operation should go and address the problem. Unfortunately, civilians around the area were affected,’’ Irabor explained.

The Nigerian Air Force described the incident as unfortunate and highly regrettable.

The Director of Public Relations and Information, Group Captain Ayodele Famuyiwa, promised that the public will be kept updated as soon as investigations were concluded. President Muhammadu Buhari expressed regrets and appealed for calm over the “unfortunate accidental bombing,” explaining that it happened while the Nigerian Air Force engaged in the final phase of mopping up Boko Haram terrorists in the northeast. He pledged Federal help for Borno State Government in attending to the “regrettable operational mistake.”

MSF said many of the casualties were believed to be displaced people who fled from areas Boko Haram had attacked. MSF Director of Operations, Jean-Clement Cabrol, described the accident as “shocking and unacceptable,” urging the authorities to facilitate the evacuation of the injured. He stated the readiness of their medical teams to attend to the wounded.

USA: Trump Son-in-law to Lead US Federal Overhaul

President Donald Trump is expected to unveil a new unit aimed at overhauling the US federal bureaucracy, and headed by his son-in-law Jared Kushner.The Washington Post, which has reported the move, describes the Office of Innovation as a « Swat team » of former private-sector executives.It will have sweeping powers to reform government procedures, the report says.For Mr Kushner the « government should be run like a great American company ». »Our hope is that we can achieve successes and efficiencies for our customers, who are the citizens, » he added.