Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on Mali

NEW YORK, April 30, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Secretary-General calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities in northern Mali.

The Secretary-General is deeply concerned by the serious ceasefire violations that have occurred in Mali in recent days, at a critical moment in the peace process and as efforts are underway to bring all Malian parties to sign the draft peace agreement.

On 27 April, Groupe Auto-défense Touareg Imghad et Alliés (GATIA) and Mouvement Arabe de l’Azawad – Plateforme (MAA-Platform) elements entered the town of Ménaka (Gao region) which, under ceasefire arrangements, is under the control of the Mouvement National de Libération de l’Azawad (MNLA). Fighting continued in the vicinity of Ménaka on 28 April.

On 29 April, Coordination des Mouvements de l’Azawad (CMA) elements attacked Malian National Guard quarters in Goundam (Timbuktu region) killing two National Guards and one child.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Mali, Mongi Hamdi, and the UN Stabilization Mission in Mali, MINUSMA, are engaging with all parties to de-escalate tensions and encourage continued dialogue.

The Secretary-General urges the parties to demonstrate their commitment to the peace process and adhere to their obligations under the cease fire agreement of 23 May 2014, and the declarations of cessation of hostilities of 24 July 2014 and 19 February 2015.

New York, 29 April 2015

Source:: Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on Mali

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PRE-ELECTION VIOLENCE ENDANGERS BURUNDI’S YOUNG DEMOCRACY, UNITED NATIONS RIGHTS EXPERTS WARN

GENEVA, Switzerland, April 30, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — A group of United Nations experts* today condemned the violence in Burundi and urged the authorities to uphold human rights, including freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly. They also called for a thorough and independent investigation into the human rights violations so that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

Over the past days, Burundi has suffered a wave of killings, arbitrary arrests, intimidation, the closure of media outlets, and the targeting of human rights defenders. This has taken place in the context of peaceful protests against the decision of the ruling party to have incumbent President Nkurunziza run for a third presidential term. In response, security forces violently cracked down on the protesters with live ammunition, grenades and tear gas. Most recent reports indicate that the internet is now being blocked throughout the country.

“We urge all parties to resolve differences through dialogue, avoid using inflammatory language or hate speech, and to refrain from violence. This call is also made to various parts of the country’s security sector, which should fulfil their role in a non-partisan manner,” they said.

The international experts emphasised that the troubling events of the past days should also be seen against the increasingly important role that youth militias have played for more than a year. “Authorities must urgently intervene to stop these activities and youth militias of all sides should be immediately disarmed,” they said, warning that “the actions of harassment, intimidation and violence of one militia – the Imbonerakure – are openly condoned by the ruling party.”

“An electoral process that lacks credibility – not to speak about one that triggers outright violence – is a huge setback for Burundi”, the human rights experts highlighted.

Burundi has taken important steps to preserve peace with the Arusha Agreement in 2000, and in particular the adoption of the 2005 Constitution which institutionalizes a power-sharing arrangement between ethnic groups. This has significantly contributed to the transformation of relations between different communities in Burundi.

Massive demobilisation and reintegration efforts, combined with agreed ethnic representation in all official institutions, including across the security sector, have further enabled the country to ensure a degree of stability since 2009.

“These significant achievements made over the past 15 years will be put in jeopardy if the authorities fail to take measures to prevent further violations,” the experts warned. “Burundi must also break with its ‘tradition of impunity’ that has reigned for much too long.”

“In a society, which has witnessed cycles of recurring violence on a massive scale for close to 50 years, and in which victims have seen no redress for the violations suffered, no one can afford another conflict,” they concluded.

(*) The experts: Mads Andenas, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Pablo de Greiff, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence; Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Christof Heynes, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Maina Kiai, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.

Source:: PRE-ELECTION VIOLENCE ENDANGERS BURUNDI’S YOUNG DEMOCRACY, UNITED NATIONS RIGHTS EXPERTS WARN

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Equatorial Guinea scores multiple investment agreements with Chinese companies at Economic Forum in Dalian

DALIAN, China, April 30, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — During a historic visit to China the Government of Equatorial Guinea, represented by the Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy (http://www.equatorialoil.com), has announced the signing of multiple memoranda of understanding on April 30 with Chinese companies covering large areas of cooperation in the electricity and industrial sectors. The agreements were made during the Equatorial Guinea-Asia Economic Forum, hosted by the Government of Equatorial Guinea at the Shangri-La Hotel, in Dalian. The economic forum was organized in Dalian to introduce investment opportunities in Equatorial Guinea to Chinese companies.

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The Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy was represented by H.E. the Minister, Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima. China Dalian International Cooperation Group (CDIG) was represented by the company’s president, Mr. Zhu Mingyi.

H.E. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the President of Equatorial Guinea, said: “We are aware that maximum security is needed to ensure investment. In this regard, we can confirm 45 years of experience in the cooperation between China and Equatorial Guinea; cooperation which in many ways has been possible thanks to the peace and stability that prevails in the country.”

The memoranda of understanding with Chinese companies comprise the following:

• A memorandum of understanding between CDIG and the Government of Equatorial Guinea, represented by the Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy, for the execution of a study for the development of the Industrial City of Mbini. Within the agreement, CDIG will undertake preliminary technical studies and will explore key areas to promote the Industrial City of Mbini to international investors. The Industrial City of Mbini is planned to be a key reference point for investment in West Africa and an important component in Equatorial Guinea’s plans to diversify its economy.

• A memorandum of understanding between the China State Construction Engineering Corporation and the Government of Equatorial Guinea, represented by the Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy, for the planning and development of the Petroleum Industrial City of Luba.

• A memorandum of understanding between Sinohydro Corporation and the Government of Equatorial Guinea, represented by the Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy, for a feasibility study on the development of a new hydroelectric plant on the Wele River, in Equatorial Guinea. Sinohydro had previously been involved in the construction of the 120 MW Djibloho hydroelectric plant, as well as electrification projects in Mongomeyen and the mainland city of Bata.

• A memorandum of understanding between the China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) and the Government of Equatorial Guinea, represented by the Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy, for a technical and financial viability study to build a new combined cycle 100 MW power plant in the city of Kogo.

• A memorandum of understanding between the CMEC and the Government of Equatorial Guinea, represented by the Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy, for a technical and financial viability study for the establishment of an interconnection electricity grid in the CEMAC region.

• A memorandum of understanding between the CMEC and the Government of Equatorial Guinea, represented by the Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy for a technical and financial viability study to build street lamps and related public lighting infrastructure in the Industrial City of Mbini.

The agreements with the Chinese companies came just days following an official state visit from H.E. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the President of Equatorial Guinea, in which the Government of Equatorial Guinea reached multiple agreements with China to strengthen economic and political ties.

On April 30, the Government of Equatorial Guinea hosted the Equatorial Guinea-Asia Economic Forum in Dalian, China, where national leaders presented investment opportunities to an audience of 500 potential Chinese investors. The large turnout for the event was seen as a confirmation of strong investor interest in Equatorial Guinea as the country carries out ambitious plans to diversify and industrialize its economy.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of the Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy of Equatorial Guinea.

Contact:

Cesar Hinestrosa

chinestrosa@mmie.gob.gq

+86 15842619287

Source:: Equatorial Guinea scores multiple investment agreements with Chinese companies at Economic Forum in Dalian

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Statement from Brand South Africa on the progress made by South Africa in response to the violent crimes committed in the country

JOHANNESBURG, South-Africa, April 30, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Brand South Africa (http://www.brandsouthafrica.com) has participated in a number of platforms aimed at condemning the violent crimes committed in the past few weeks and implementation of interventions to quell the violence.

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True to the spirit and letter of the South African constitution (which puts emphasis on the rule of law), all hands were on deck in the past week in acts of condemnation to the crimes committed against fellow human beings that led to the death offour nationals from various countries in our beloved continentand three South Africans.

President Jacob Zuma visited various camps, where foreign national are temporarily sheltered, to assure them that the government and the people of South Africa will do everything to ensure their safety in the country. As such the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) was deployed to the hotspots to reinforce the efforts of the South African Police Service (SAPS).

A multi stakeholder session was held with the President wherein all sectors of the South African society pledged their support to Play their Part in ensuring that South Africa is rid of all acts of criminality. The President announced the establishment of the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Immigration to provide a long term solution to the challenges in the area of immigration in South Africa.

The President also met with representatives of foreign nationals from our continent wherein they shared with him their perspective on these crimes and possible interventions. The African Heads of Mission in South Africa will be updated on all developments with regards to immigration related matters.

Brand South Africa calls on all African Nation Brands to Play a Part in building Africa’s Competitiveness and support each other’s efforts in order for Africa to prosper collectively.

We reiterate our commitment to a better Africa and a better world.

ISSUED BY

Ms. Alice Puoane

ACTING CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Brand South Africa.

Source:: Statement from Brand South Africa on the progress made by South Africa in response to the violent crimes committed in the country

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Ireland / Egypt / New Ambassadors present Credentials

DUBLIN, Ireland, April 30, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Their Excellencies, the Ambassadors of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Chile and St. Vincent and the Grenadines presented their Letters of Credence to the President at Áras an Uachtaráin today.

H.E. Ms. Soha Gendi, Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt, was accompanied by Mr. Ahmed Mostafa Mohamed, Minister Plenipotentiary and Deputy Head of Mission.

H.E. Mr. Manuel Hinojosa Muñoz, Ambassador of Chile, was accompanied by his wife, Mrs. Monserrat Perez, and by Mr. Renato Gomez, Deputy Head of Mission.

H.E. Mr. Cenio Elwin Lewis, Ambassador of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, was accompanied by his wife, Mrs. Ita Lewis.

Mr. Tom Hayes, T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, represented the Government at the ceremony.

The following were also present: Mr. Conor Ó Raghallaigh, Deputy Secretary-General to the President; Mr. Barrie Robinson, Political Director, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Mr. Joe Brennan, Ms. Mary Cusack and Mr. Shane Stephens, Protocol, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The Ambassadors were escorted to and from Áras an Uachtaráin by an Escort of Honour consisting of a motorcycle detachment drawn from the 2nd Cavalry Squadron, Cathal Brugha Barracks, Dublin, under the command of Second Lieutenant Stephen Bunney.

A Guard of Honour was provided at Áras an Uachtaráin by the 12th Infantry Battalion, Sarsfields Barracks, Limerick, under the command of Lieutenant Conor Kirwan.

Captain Fergal Carroll conducted the Army No. 1 Band.

Source:: Ireland / Egypt / New Ambassadors present Credentials

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Polio vaccination as a doorway to adequate health care

GENEVA, Switzerland, April 30, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The eradication of polio remains one of the most pressing health challenges in Africa, stresses an advocacy report released today by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) at the closing of the World Immunization Week.

Although Africa has gone eight months without any new cases of wild polio for the first time, the continent has witnessed the majority of global polio cases in 2013, and is home to one of the three last countries in the world where polio is still endemic, Nigeria. In 2013, sub-Saharan Africa showed the worst polio immunization record of any region. Central African Republic had the world’s lowest polio vaccination rate, with just 23 per cent of children immunized against the disease, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Increasing vaccine uptake in Africa, specifically for polio, is such a huge task. We are faced with communities living in very remote areas or nomadic, fragile and conflict situations. The issue of access is exacerbated by suspicion and socio cultural barriers,” says Dr Adinoyi Ben Adeiza, health and care coordinator, IFRC Africa. “We have seen first-hand how our Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers, who are trusted by their communities, can substantially increase vaccine uptake”.

In Burkina Faso, for example, the number of children who were not vaccinated and still susceptible to contract polio, was significantly lower in areas where the Burkinabe Red Cross Society had conducted social mobilization activities.

Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers, like the ones in Burkina, have reached more than 10 million children and more than 1 million households in 17 sub-Saharan African countries between 2009 and 2013. They are trusted leaders in their communities and can ensure greater access to a combination of essential life-saving, culturally acceptable health care services to stop the spread of infectious diseases like polio.

Polio is highly contagious and one of the most difficult diseases to eradicate. About 90 per cent of all children in any given community must receive multiple immunizations to wipe out the virus. No other global health effort in history has posed such a logistical challenge.

Violence and high levels of insecurity continue to pose a significant barrier to access to health care in general, and vaccination against polio specifically. In fragile states where health professionals are particularly scarce, harnessing community resources and strengthening community involvement in health service delivery is vital.

“We believe every child can be reached but only if we invest seriously in the capacity and sustained engagement of local organizations and our local community health workforce,” says Alasan Senghore, Director, IFRC Africa. “In order to achieve success, and prove once and for all that all children deserve the same life-saving vaccines and access to the same health services, no matter who they are or where they live, we must act quickly and in partnership with each other to dramatically increase vaccination coverage.”

Source:: Polio vaccination as a doorway to adequate health care

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