Minister Flanagan in Riga to discuss Libya and Ukraine with EU Foreign Ministers

DUBLIN, Ireland, March 6, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, TD, is today meeting EU Foreign Ministers in Latvia to discuss the situation in Libya and Ukraine.

Speaking ahead of the two- day meeting in Riga, Minister Flanagan said:

“I remain extremely concerned by the situation in Libya, and I welcome the opportunity to discuss how the EU can best respond to this evolving crisis on its borders.

“The convening of UN-brokered talks on Libya, under the leadership of UN Special Envoy Bernardino León, is an important development. My hope is that this process will soon lead to a political agreement on the formation of a national unity government along with a cessation of hostilities.”

The meeting will also discuss the latest developments in Ukraine. Minister Flanagan added:

“I strongly support and welcome the diplomatic efforts made by Germany and France to end the spiral of violence and offer renewed hope for a political solution to the crisis. Though the situation in eastern Ukraine clearly remains very fragile and there are continued violations, the 14 February ceasefire appears to have taken hold after a troubled beginning.

“It is important now that all sides demonstrate their commitment to the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements by deeds as well as words.”

Foreign Ministers will also discuss preparations for the forthcoming Eastern Partnership Summit in May, between the EU and six Eastern neighbouring countries; Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.

“The Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga will map a way ahead for the EU’s Partnership with six Eastern neighbours including Ukraine. It will be an opportunity to show that the Partnership is advancing and that it provides an appropriate framework for EU relations with each of our Eastern partners. The EU is seeking to build closer relations with its Eastern neighbours; the Eastern Partnership is part of this process. It is not seeking to create dividing lines in Europe”, Minister Flanagan said.

This 6-monthly informal meeting of EU Foreign Ministers is known as the ‘Gymnich’.

Source:: Minister Flanagan in Riga to discuss Libya and Ukraine with EU Foreign Ministers

Categories: African Press Organization

Ask your questions LIVE to the Chief Executive of The Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB)

PORT-LOUIS, Mauritius, March 6, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Chief Executive of MCB (http://www.mcb.mu), the largest bank in East Africa, will host an online press conference Wednesday 11th March 2015 at 11 a.m. GMT to provide updates on the strategy of the Mauritius Commercial Bank into Africa and positioning at Africa CEO Forum.

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/mcb-logo.png

The Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB) is fast expanding into continental Africa, positioning itself as a choice partner for businesses and other banks.

MCB is the Diamond Sponsor of the Africa CEO Forum, the must-attend event for the promotion and development of the African private sector, to be held in Geneva on 16th and 17th March. Our aim is to engage in constructive dialogue to shape Africa’s future with the champions of economic growth expected to attend, namely:

• 500 African CEOs

• 100 influential bankers and financiers

• 200 African and international personalities

Journalists interested in attending this online press conference will be able to ASK QUESTIONS LIVE VIA THE INTERNET.

Who: Antony Withers, Chief Executive and Raoul Gufflet, Head of International Division

Date: Wednesday 11th March 2015

Time: 11:00 GMT (Time Converter: http://goo.gl/TyJt6S)

Languages: English

How it works: This service is FREE and only requires a computer connected to the internet.

REGISTER: http://www.apo-opa.com/application.php?L=E&vc=MCB

Technical Contact: +41 22 534 96 97, sec.sg@apo-opa.org

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of The Mauritius Commercial Bank Ltd (MCB).

MCB and Africa

Established in 1838, The Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB) (http://www.mcb.mu) is the largest bank in East Africa. It is fast expanding into continental Africa, positioning itself as a choice partner for businesses and other banks.

Over the past six years, MCB has serviced more than 100 financial institutions and corporates spanning over 28 countries in Africa. Its main services are project and commodities financing, trade finance, corporate finance advisory, private equity, investment management, structured solutions, syndication, cards services, custody, private banking, wealth management and consulting.

• Market capitalisation of US$ 1.6 billion

• Balance sheet of US$ 7 billion

• Investment grade rated

• 18,000 local and foreign shareholders

• 1 million individual and corporate customers

• Physical presence in nine countries including Mozambique, Kenya and South Africa

• Over 3,000 employees

• Number one bank in East Africa (The Banker, July 2014)

• 1,600 corresponding banks around the world

Mauritius as a hub for financial services

MCB is a vital part of the transformation of Mauritius into an international hub for financial services. Internationally recognised as a proven and trusted financial services platform, Mauritius was among the first jurisdictions to be included in the OECD White List. It has 19 Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements and 17 Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements with African countries, offers a fiscal platform with individual and corporate tax rate at 15% with global businesses taxed at a rate of 0 to 3% and is a secure jurisdiction for structuring and managing African investments.

Source:: Ask your questions LIVE to the Chief Executive of The Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB)

Categories: African Press Organization

Communiqué of the 489th PSC meeting on Boko Haram terrorist group

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, 6 march 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 489th meeting held on 3 March 2015, adopted the following decision on the regional and international efforts to combat the Boko Haram terrorist group and on the way forward:

Council,

1. Takes note of the report of the Chairperson of the Commission on the implementation of communiqué PSC/AHG/COMM.2(CDLXXXIV) on the Boko Haram terrorist group and on other related international efforts [PSC/PR/2(CDLXXXIX)]. Council further takes note of the statements made by the representatives of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria, as members of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), as well as by those of the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) and by the representatives of France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, as permanent members of the UN Security Council;

2. Recalls its earlier pronouncements on the threat posed by the Boko Haram terrorist group and efforts to address it, including communiqués PSC/PR/COMM.(CDLXIX) and PSC/AHG/COMM. 2(CDLXXXIV) adopted at its 469th and 484th meetings held on 25 November 2014 and 29 January 2015, respectively;

3. Further recalls the powers entrusted to the Peace and Security Council, as provided for by article 7 of the Protocol relating to the establishment of Council, particularly the power, in conjunction with the Chairperson of the Commission, to authorize the mounting and deployment of peace support missions and to lay down general guidelines for the conduct of such missions, including the mandates thereof, and undertake periodic reviews of these guidelines, as well as the provisions of article 16 of the Protocol stating that the Union has primary responsibility for promoting peace, security and stability in Africa;

4. Reiterates AU’s strong condemnation of all acts of terrorism committed on the continent by whomever, wherever and for whatever purposes. Council stresses, once again, the AU’s determination to rid the continent of the scourge of terrorism and violent extremism, which cannot be justified under any circumstances;

5. Strongly condemns the atrocities being perpetrated by the Boko Haram terrorist group. Council notes with deep concern the continuation by Boko Haram of its attacks in Nigeria and Cameroon, as well as the expansion of the group’s activities to other countries of the region, as demonstrated by the attacks carried out recently in Niger and Chad, resulting in further killings, displacement of populations, and destruction of property and infrastructure. Council stresses that the Boko Haram terrorist group is a threat not only to Nigeria and the neighboring countries, but also to the entire African continent and, as such, the situation calls for a collective African action in line with the relevant provisions of the Common African Defense and Security Policy, as contained in the Solemn Declaration adopted by the 2nd Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union, held in Sirte, Libya, on 27 and 28 February 2004, and those of the Non-Aggression and Common Defense Pact, adopted by the 4th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union, held in Abuja, Nigeria, from 30 to 31 January 2005 [Assembly/AU/Dec.71(IV)];

6. Renews AU’s full solidarity with the Governments and people of Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, and expresses its condolences to the families of the victims of the Boko Haram terrorist attacks and its sympathy to all those injured;

7. Commends, once again, the LCBC Member States and Benin for their continued commitment and sustained efforts towards a coordinated and effective regional response to the threat posed by the Boko Haram terrorist group. Council reiterates its appreciation to Chad for its swift assistance in the fight against the Boko Haram terrorist group, pays tribute to the soldiers from Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria who fell on the line of duty, expresses AU’s condolences to their families and wishes speedy recovery to all those injured;

8. Welcomes the recent successes recorded on the ground, with the recovery, in the course of February 2015, of several localities by the armed forces of the countries of the region, including Gamboru Ngala, Mongunu Baga and Dikwa, in the Borno State (Nigeria), as well as the operation conducted in the Sambisa Forest (Borno State) and in other areas where the Boko Haram terrorist group is active;

9. Welcomes the follow-up steps taken by the Commission in pursuance of the relevant provisions of communiqué PSC/AHG/COMM.2(CDLXXXIV), notably the meeting of experts held in Yaoundé, Cameroon, from 5 to 7 February 2015, to finalize the strategic Concept of Operations (CONOPS) for the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), and the planning meeting held in Ndjamena, Chad, from 23 to 27 February 2015, to develop the operational-level CONOPS for the MNJTF;

10. Endorses the CONOPS agreed upon at the Yaoundé meeting of experts, with a view to facilitating the effective implementation of the mandate and tasks of the MNJTF, as defined in paragraphs 11 (i, ii & iii) and 12 of communiqué PSC/AHG/COMM.2(CDLXXXIV). In this respect, Council notes that the CONOPS provides that:

(i) the MNJTF contingents shall operate freely within the Area of Operation (AoO) as defined, on the understanding that the AoO can be extended by the LCBC Member States and Benin, upon request by the MNJTF Commander;

(ii) coordination among all relevant stakeholders shall be ensured through: (a) the Support and Follow-up Group, with the involvement of international partners, acting as a consultative body, to support the implementation of the LCBC Strategy against Boko Haram, and (b) the Joint Coordination Mechanism (JCM), as a political forum composed of the relevant Ministers of the LCBC Member States and Benin and mandated, under the chairmanship of the Political Representative for the MNJTF, to harmonize the efforts of the AU, the LCBC Member States and Benin, as well as those of the partners;

(iii) command and control shall be ensured by: (a) the Political Representative for the MNJTF, who shall be appointed by the LCBC Member States and Benin, in consultation with the AU, and (b) the MNJTF Commander, designated on a rotational basis by the Troop Contributing Countries, who shall exercise authority over the forces pledged for the MNJTF;

(iv) the LCBC Secretariat shall act as the strategic headquarters, in close coordination with the AU Commission;

(v) the operational headquarters for the MNJTF shall be established in N’Djamena, and it shall be staffed by personnel from the LCBC Member States and Benin, and include liaison officers from relevant bilateral and international partners, as may be required;

(vi) the LCBC Member States and Benin, supported by the AU, other regional organizations and partners, shall extend the necessary support to the MNJTF through a Mission Support Team (MST) deployed at the headquarters of the MNJTF, while the AU Commission and the LCBC Member States and Benin shall establish a Strategic Cell responsible for the coordination and management of any additional support to the MNJTF;

(vii) the MNJTF shall include a limited number of civilian and police personnel, to undertake liaison and advisory functions to the MNJTF Commander and other relevant stakeholders, in order to contribute to a close civil-military coordination and facilitate the early stabilization of the situation on the ground; and

(viii) all operations shall be conducted in strict compliance with international humanitarian law, including the UN Human Rights Due Diligence Policy (HRDDP), in line with the relevant provisions of communiqué PSC/AHG/COMM.2(CDLXXXIV);

11. Request the LCBC Member States and Benin to take the necessary steps for the formal appointments of the Political Representative and the MNJTF Commander, as provided for in the CONOPS, and to formally notify the Commission;

12. Further requests the Commission to take all necessary steps in support of the full operationalization of the MNJTF, in line with relevant provisions of the CONOPS, including activating the strategic headquarters, designating liaison officers to the MNJTF operational headquarters in Ndjamena, and operationalizing the Strategic Cell, in line with paragraph 10 (iv, v, and vi) above, as well as to establish a dedicated AU Support Team (AUST), comprising the personnel and expertise needed under the authority of a Senior Coordinator, to facilitate the provision of an effective and coordinated support to the MNJTF. In this respect, Council calls on the Commission to conclude a Memorandum of Understanding with the LCBC Secretariat that would clearly outline the respective responsibilities and roles of the AU Commission and the LCBC Secretariat in the implementation of the CONOPS, in line with the relevant communiqués of Council;

13. Requests the LCBC Secretariat to submit to the Commission monthly reports on the implementation of the mandate of the MNJTF, as determined in communiqué PSC/AHG/COMM.2 (CDLXXXIV), to enable the Commission to regularly update Council in line with the reporting requirements contained in paragraph 19 of communiqué PSC/AHG/COMM.2(CDLXXXIV), as well as to the UN Security Council, as it may require in the resolution that would endorse the deployment of the MNJTF;

14. Notes that, during the Yaoundé meeting of experts, the LCBC Member States and Benin pledged up to 8,700 military and other personnel, taking into account the operational requirements on the ground. Council further notes the need to mobilize adequate enablers and force multipliers to enable the MNJTF to successfully neutralize the Boko Haram terrorist group, in line with its mandate. Accordingly, and based on the recommendations contained in the report of the Chairperson of the Commission, Council authorizes an increase in the strength of the MNJTF from the initial figure of 7,500 to up to 10,000 military and other personnel to be generated by the LCBC Member States and Benin, in strict compliance with the requirements contained in the operational-level CONOPS;

15. Takes note with satisfaction of the development by the Ndjamena expert’s meeting of the operational-level CONOPS, including the delineation of the operational sectors boundaries, the definition of the structure of the MNJTF headquarters, the location of sector headquarters, the sequencing of operations, the development of courses of action and the detailed definition of the composition of the pledged capabilities, as well as of additional documents, such as the Mission Support Plan, the Rules of Engagement, the Standing Operating Procedures for the Handling of Detainees and the Guidelines on the Protection of Civilians;

16. Requests the LCBC Member States and Benin, with the support of the Commission, to convene a meeting of Ministers of Defense, to be preceded by a meeting of experts, to validate the operational-level CONOPS and other related documents, as developed in Ndjamena;

17. Welcomes the convening of the Extraordinary Session of the Heads of State and Government of the Peace and Security Council of the Economic Community of Central African States –ECCAS (COPAX), in Yaoundé on 16 February 2015. Council notes with satisfaction the decisions reached on that occasion, in particular the provision, to Cameroon and Chad, of a financial assistance amounting to 50 billion CFA and logistical support. Council stresses that this support is a further testimony to the commitment of the ECCAS leaders to the spirit of Pan-African solidarity;

18. Further welcomes the decision of the COPAX Extraordinary Session to promote close cooperation between ECCAS and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), including the holding of a joint Summit to develop a common strategy to combat Boko Haram, as well as to undertake consultations with Nigeria. In this respect, Council notes with satisfaction the visits undertaken by the Presidents of the Republic of Congo and Equatorial Guinea to Nigeria, Ghana and Chad, on 24 and 25 February 2015. Council requests the Commission to support, as appropriate, coordination between ECOWAS and ECCAS;

19. Recalls the adoption by the UN Security Council, on 19 January 2015, of a presidential statement, calling, inter-alia, for an increased international support to enhance the operational capacity of the MNJTF, and commends the Security Council for its continued concern and expression of support to, and solidarity with, the affected countries, as demonstrated by the adoption of press statements on 2, 5 and 13 February 2015;

20. Urges the UN Security Council, following the endorsement of the MNJTF Strategic CONOPS referred to in paragraph 10 above, to urgently adopt, under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, a resolution that would: (i) endorse the deployment of the MNJTF; (ii) enable the provision of sustainable, flexible and predictable support to the MNJTF, including through innovative support mechanisms, drawing lessons from previous and present experiences regarding AU-led operations, bearing in mind that support by the UN to the AU in matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security is an integral part of collective security as provided for in the United Nations Charter; and (iii) call for the provision of additional bilateral and multilateral voluntary support to the MNJTF and other related efforts, including quick impact projects, rehabilitation of affected communities and areas, early recovery, socio-economic development and peace building;

21. Agrees to use the opportunity of its 9th annual consultative meeting with the members of the UN Security Council, in Addis Ababa, on 12 March 2015, to engage them on the need and urgency for the adoption of a resolution authorizing the deployment of the MNJTF and the establishment of the required support mechanisms. Council further agrees to pursue this engagement through an interaction with the representatives of all the members of the Security Council in Addis Ababa. Council requests the Commission to pursue and intensify its efforts aimed at mobilizing the required support from the relevant international stakeholders;

22. Commends, once again, the bilateral and multilateral partners extending support to the countries of the region and encourages them to enhance their support, and calls on AU Member States and other members of the international community to extend all necessary support to the MNJTF, including financial and logistical assistance, equipment, as well as enhanced and timely intelligence sharing, in order to facilitate the early and full operationalization of the MNJTF. Council requests the Commission to expedite its consultations with the EU towards the provision of financial support through the Africa Peace Facility (APF). Council takes note of the plans by the Commission to organize in April 2015, with the support of the UN, the Donors’ Conference that was initially scheduled to take place by mid-March 2015, and encourages it to take all the necessary steps for the success of the Conference;

23. Calls for the urgent provision of humanitarian assistance to the affected populations and the countries hosting Nigerian refugees. Council looks forward to the early visit to the region of the Sub-Committee of the Permanent Representative’s Committee on Refugees, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and Humanitarian Affairs, in order to assess the situation and make necessary recommendations on the best means and ways of mobilizing, from within the continent, additional support to complement the assistance being provided by international partners;

24. Stresses, once again, that, in addition to the much-needed military and security operations against Boko Haram and other terrorist groups, sustained national, regional and international efforts should also be deployed towards the improvement of livelihoods, education and job creation, as well as towards the protection of human rights, including those of women and girls, and the promotion of justice and reconciliation. In this respect, Council appeals for the mobilization of the required financial and technical support to the countries of the region;

25. Requests the Chairperson of the Commission to formally transmit the present communiqué and the Strategic CONOPS of the MNJTF to the UN Secretary-General and, through him, to the UN Security Council, as well as to other relevant partners, for their information and action as appropriate;

26. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

Source:: Communiqué of the 489th PSC meeting on Boko Haram terrorist group

Categories: African Press Organization

Rob Nicholson Condemns Latest Boko Haram Attack in Nigeria

OTTAWA, Canada, March 6, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Following reports of the killing of dozens of civilians in northeastern Nigeria by the terrorist group Boko Haram, the Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement:

“Canada condemns the killings in the town of Njaba in Borno state. On behalf of all Canadians, I offer my condolences to the families and friends of the victims and wish a speedy recovery to the injured.

“We are appalled by the ongoing violence by Boko Haram, which has killed thousands of people.”

Source:: Rob Nicholson Condemns Latest Boko Haram Attack in Nigeria

Categories: African Press Organization

Liberia releases last Ebola patient – flash quote from MSF

MONROVIA, Liberia, March 5, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Commenting on the news that Liberia has released its last Ebola patient, Vickie Hawkins, Director of MSF UK, said:

“This is an encouraging sign for Liberia. However, there is no room for complacency as the number of new Ebola cases in the region has risen this week.

“From the outset, this outbreak has been characterised by its unpredictability and geographic spread. People move easily over the porous borders that separate Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, so until 42 days pass without a new case in any of the three worst affected countries we need to remain vigilant.

“There are serious gaps that persist in the response. Significant improvements need to be made in contact tracing and surveillance, and we still need to improve regional coordination. Practical collaboration between surveillance teams based in each country need to be implemented as soon as possible to avoid importing new cases into areas considered Ebola-free.”

Source:: Liberia releases last Ebola patient – flash quote from MSF

Categories: African Press Organization

Visionary New African Network for Women Leaders on Environment Launched at African Ministerial Conference

CAIRO, Egypt, March 5, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Women ministers and leaders from Africa meeting at the Africa Ministerial Conference of the Environment (AMCEN) launched a new network, Thursday, that aims at enhancing representation and involvement of women in decision-making in areas related to the environment and sustainable development continent wide.

The newly established African Network of Women Ministers and Leaders for the Environment will lead the development of an AMCEN policy on gender and the environment designed to mainstream gender and environment considerations into development planning, legislation, and financial policies at the regional, national and community levels.

The network is co-chaired by Madame Zanou Armande, Director of Environmental Law, Ministry of Environment, Benin and Madame Hadijatou Jallow, Executive Director, Environment Protection Agency, Sierra Leone.

UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNEP Achim Steiner, said “It is time that gender considerations take centre-stage in the design and implementation of environment and sustainable development policies in Africa and around the world. Lead by prominent African visionaries, I am confident the Network will enhance the delivery of sound policies at the national and community levels.”

“This comes at a critical moment as the world prepares to adopt a new a Post-2015 Development Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals and just months ahead of the UN Conference on Climate Change. Implementing such agreements will only be made possible with the meaningful streamlining of gender policies across international frameworks and national development plans,“ he added.

The African Network is a chapter of the Global Network of Women Ministers and Leaders for the Environment, established in Helsinki in March 2002.

Executive Director, Office of the President for the Environmental Protection Agency, Sierra Leone, Haddijatou Jallow said, “The Network of African Women Ministers and Leaders for the Environment provides an essential platform to advocate for enhanced support for women, as they comprise the majority of users of our natural capital and are more vulnerable to adverse impacts on our environment”.

Director General for the Environment, Ministry of Environment and Protection of Nature, Benin, Zanou Aivohozin Armande said, “One key role that the Network African Women Ministers and Leaders for the Environment will play is to apply a multidimensional approach in addressing emerging gender issues in environmental management. In doing so the Network will bring together women and men from different walks of life, be it academia or farming- without any bias – to develop strategies or solutions to address environmental degradation. As the UNCCD focal point for Benin, I also feel its important to empower women to be key players of sustainable management of the environment and not only as victims of degradation.”

The Global Network (NWMLE) was created to address the critical need for visionary and concrete policies toward sustainable development worldwide. The overall objective of this network is to improve the representation and involvement of women in decision-making regarding environmental issues based on the belief that women, who have primary responsibility for raising children and securing sufficient resources to meet their families’ nutrition and health needs are the ones most affected be environmental degradation.

The Africa Network will develop recommendations for practical solutions to environmental problems at the national and regional levels; build network partnerships with appropriate civil society, non-governmental and intergovernmental agencies; exchange best practices and experiences in order to implement more effective policies and create a critical mass of leadership to influence international and national policy.

Source:: Visionary New African Network for Women Leaders on Environment Launched at African Ministerial Conference

Categories: African Press Organization