Statement by International Monetary Fund (IMF) Deputy Managing Director Mitsuhiro Furusawa at the Conclusion of a Visit to Mauritania

Mr. Mitsuhiro Furusawa, Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), issued the following statement today in Nouakchott at the end of his visit to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, which followed the approval on December 6, 2017 by the IMF Executive Board of a three-year arrangement under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) for an amount of about US$163.9 million:

“I would like thank Prime Minister Yahya Ould Hademine, Governor Abdel Aziz Ould Dahi, Minister of Economy and Finance El Moktar Ould Djay, as well as the other ministers and senior officials for their warm hospitality and for the productive meetings during my stay in Mauritania. I would also like to thank all the other authorities and civil society and private sector representatives for very constructive meetings.”

“During our meetings, we discussed recent economic developments in Mauritania, which have been positive, and the favorable international environment. We agreed that the time is right—given the global recovery and sustained metal prices—to undertake broad-based structural reforms to accelerate inclusive growth, transform the Mauritanian economy, and create the jobs needed to durably lift living standards and generate a more prosperous future.”

“Our discussions took place in the wake of last month’s regional conference which called on Arab governments to take decisive action to promote accountability, competition, and technology and trade, while pursuing fairer fiscal policies, ensuring strong social safety nets, and investing in people and education reforms.”

“I welcomed the launch of the IMF-supported economic program, and the authorities’ commitment to its implementation, following the considerable adjustment already achieved over the past two years. The Extended Credit Facility (ECF) approved by the IMF last December, for an amount of $163.9 million over three years, will support the inclusive growth strategy and encourage continued reform efforts.”

“We discussed the authorities’ new growth strategy based on the three pillars of inclusive economic growth, human capital development, and improving governance.”

“I emphasized the need to develop a prudent, disciplined investment strategy to increase infrastructure and create jobs while preserving public debt sustainability. Given the significant financing needs and already high debt, non-concessional loans must be avoided and debt management improved.”

“I underscored the importance of strengthening the fight against corruption and improving the business environment to promote private sector development, investment, and job creation.”

“Lastly, I very much appreciate the excellent, long-standing relations between Mauritania and the IMF, and look forward to our continued partnership through the ECF-supported economic program.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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Lord Ahmad congratulates The Gambia on Commonwealth re-entry

Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister for the Commonwealth, visited The Gambia on 15 and 16 February to offer congratulations on the country’s re-entry to the Commonwealth.

The Minister met with senior government ministers, including President Adama Barrow, Minister of Foreign Affairs Ousainou Darboe, and Vice-President Fatoumata Tambajang, where he discussed the Government’s commitments to reforms in keeping with the Commonwealth’s principles of democracy, equality for all citizens, and good governance.

Lord Ahmad said:

“The UK warmly congratulates the people of The Gambia on this country’s re-entry to the Commonwealth family of nations. When the Foreign Secretary visited last year, he met many Gambians who share the common values of the Commonwealth and wanted to re-join – and who felt as if they had never truly left.”

“We have welcomed the Government’s progress on human rights and governance over the past year. It is important now that there is continued, concerted commitment and tangible action: human rights, freedom of expression, equality for all, and strengthening rule of law are critical building blocks for a sustainable, successful democracy.”

“I am delighted to have formally invited, on behalf of the Prime Minister, President Barrow to the UK for the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April, and we look forward to working with The Gambia as a Commonwealth partner once more.”

Lord Ahmad also met with civil society organisations, human rights groups, and members of the international community, including to hear about the challenges facing many women and girls, from lack of access to quality education, to FGM, early marriage and inequality.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

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Troika statement on South Sudan forum

UK, US and Norway statement on Phase 2 of the High Level Revitalization Forum for South Sudan:

The members of the Troika (Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States) welcome the parties’ constructive efforts toward compromise for the benefit of the people of South Sudan at the High Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) over the last two weeks in Addis Ababa. The Troika expresses its appreciation for and fully supports the continuing effort by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to restore peace through the HLRF, and commends the tireless efforts of the IGAD Special Envoy Ambassador Ismail Wais and the mediation team.

The Troika underscores the critical importance of the parties creating a conducive environment for peacemaking: fighting while talking is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated. The parties must make good on their promises to implement the Agreement on a Cessation of Hostilities (ACOH) signed in December 2017. We take note and support the intention by IGAD and the African Union to identify and impose consequences on those undermining peace as soon as possible and we stand ready to support them in their efforts. Implementation of the ACOH must also include the release of political prisoners and prisoners of war, the end to the use of child soldiers and sexual and gender-based violence as a weapon. The parties must also allow unfettered access for Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM) monitors and for humanitarian assistance and aid workers responding to Africa’s worst humanitarian crisis.

While useful dialogue has taken place over the past two weeks, there is much more for the parties to do if the HLRF is to make meaningful and sustainable progress towards peace. The Troika calls on all parties to reconvene as soon as possible, without preconditions, to address the important security and governance arrangements that are essential for peace. We urge all parties to take steps to maintain the momentum of the process and refrain from comments or actions that could make returning to dialogue more difficult. We urge the parties to agree that a negotiated arrangement for an inclusive transitional government that reflects South Sudan’s diversity is needed. We encourage the parties to set as priorities the separation of powers, dispute resolution and reconciliation mechanisms, service delivery, and accountability. Arrangements must not advantage any political, armed, or ethnic group. We call on the parties to develop practical security arrangements that end violence and build confidence, and set out a realistic path to broader security sector reform. We urge the parties to support financial reforms that address corruption and build confidence in public institutions.

The Troika renews its firm view that elections in 2018 are not viable given the continuing conflict, lack of security, displacement of one third of the population, and severe food insecurity affecting half the population. It calls on all parties to reject any unilateral effort to extend power though the ballot box, the legislature, or military means. A negotiated path to elections also means the protection of fundamental political freedoms, and significant improvements in security and humanitarian conditions. The Troika continues to stand with the people of South Sudan and urges their leaders to move expeditiously to achieve the peace their people deserve.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

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Ghana Rugby appoints Ernest Hanson as Board Member

The Ghana Rugby Football Union (GRFU) (http://GhanaRugby.org) Board approved the appointment of Mr. Ernest Hanson as Board Member on Monday 19 February 2018.

Hanson comes with over 20 years Rugby playing experience. He played schoolboy rugby at Clifton College in the UK and another three years at Gloucester Rugby Academy until the age of 21.

Mr. Herbert Mensah, President and Board Chairman of Ghana Rugby, spearheaded the appointment of Hanson who previously served on the Board of the GRFU.

According to Mensah, Ghana Rugby adopted a new Constitution in 2017 that for the first time in 17 years allowed the Board to appoint Directors in addition to those elected by the Union’s General Meeting.

“The appointment of Ernest Hanson is the first step in a vision I had since taking over as President in 2014,” Mensah said.

Mensah continued to say, “Rugby, as most sporting disciplines, is a business that requires exceptional challenges regarding governance and it is essential to bring resources with a business background into the fold to assist with biggest challenge we face, namely to place the Union on a sustainable funding platform.”

Hanson is currently the MD of Beaufort Properties, a Ghana-based real estate firm. He is passionate about the growth of the game in Ghana and wants others to experience the personal growth and development that comes from playing the sport.

He is also a Level 1 World Rugby Coach and has also played senior rugby for London Nigerians RFC.

Ghana Rugby has a challenging year ahead with three international tournaments planned for May, September and October.

The international circuit kicks off in May when Ghana will be hosting the Rugby Africa Bronze Cup against Lesotho, Mauritius and Rwanda. A win in this competition will see Ghana’s promotion to the Silver Cup and a step closer to Mensah’s mission to take Ghana Rugby to the World Cup.

In September Ghana Rugby plans to organise a Ghana International Sevens tournament against seven other Rugby playing Unions in preparation of the scheduled Rugby Africa Men’s Sevens Tournament in October.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Ghana Rugby Football Union.

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