AU satisfied with state of preparedness for Kigali Summit

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The Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, has expressed complete satisfaction with the level of preparedness for the 27th Assembly of Heads of State and Government taking place this year in Kigali, Rwanda, from 10 to 18 July 2016. Following a two-day visit, the AU Commission Chairperson thanked and congratulated President Paul Kagame and the people of Rwanda for their commitment and dedication towards ensuring a successful AU Summit this July.

While in Rwanda, the AU Commission Chairperson also with met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Republic of Rwanda, Louise Mushikiwabo, with who whom she participated in a televised discussion on the topic, “The Africa we want”. The panel conversation, broadcast live on Rwandan television and streamed live on the internet, was intended as an avenue through which to capture the voices and views of the youth on issues relating to youth empowerment, particularly in light of the upcoming AU Summit in July.

Dr. Dlamini Zuma urged the youth push the boundaries by becoming more engaged in matters of concern to the continent and to contribute more actively towards shaping their own destinies. She emphasized that Africa and Africa’s Agenda 2063 belong to the youth and the political will to achieve it must come from all strata of society, including the youth, who “must feel a greater sense of responsibility in delivering Agenda 2063.”

The AU Commission Chairperson also took the opportunity to announce the launch of African passport – to be unveiled at the Summit in Kigali and which she said, “is another tool that will get us closer to the Africa we want.” She further encouraged the youth to seek and share knowledge and information and to utilize the various AU monitoring and reporting tools, such as the Gender Scorecard.

“The Africa we want belongs to now and we must all take part in shaping its future,” the AU Commission Chairperson stated.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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AU satisfied with state of preparedness for Kigali Summit

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The Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, has expressed complete satisfaction with the level of preparedness for the 27th Assembly of Heads of State and Government taking place this year in Kigali, Rwanda, from 10 to 18 July 2016. Following a two-day visit, the AU Commission Chairperson thanked and congratulated President Paul Kagame and the people of Rwanda for their commitment and dedication towards ensuring a successful AU Summit this July.

While in Rwanda, the AU Commission Chairperson also with met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Republic of Rwanda, Louise Mushikiwabo, with who whom she participated in a televised discussion on the topic, “The Africa we want”. The panel conversation, broadcast live on Rwandan television and streamed live on the internet, was intended as an avenue through which to capture the voices and views of the youth on issues relating to youth empowerment, particularly in light of the upcoming AU Summit in July.

Dr. Dlamini Zuma urged the youth push the boundaries by becoming more engaged in matters of concern to the continent and to contribute more actively towards shaping their own destinies. She emphasized that Africa and Africa’s Agenda 2063 belong to the youth and the political will to achieve it must come from all strata of society, including the youth, who “must feel a greater sense of responsibility in delivering Agenda 2063.”

The AU Commission Chairperson also took the opportunity to announce the launch of African passport – to be unveiled at the Summit in Kigali and which she said, “is another tool that will get us closer to the Africa we want.” She further encouraged the youth to seek and share knowledge and information and to utilize the various AU monitoring and reporting tools, such as the Gender Scorecard.

“The Africa we want belongs to now and we must all take part in shaping its future,” the AU Commission Chairperson stated.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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AU satisfied with state of preparedness for Kigali Summit

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The Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, has expressed complete satisfaction with the level of preparedness for the 27th Assembly of Heads of State and Government taking place this year in Kigali, Rwanda, from 10 to 18 July 2016. Following a two-day visit, the AU Commission Chairperson thanked and congratulated President Paul Kagame and the people of Rwanda for their commitment and dedication towards ensuring a successful AU Summit this July.

While in Rwanda, the AU Commission Chairperson also with met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Republic of Rwanda, Louise Mushikiwabo, with who whom she participated in a televised discussion on the topic, “The Africa we want”. The panel conversation, broadcast live on Rwandan television and streamed live on the internet, was intended as an avenue through which to capture the voices and views of the youth on issues relating to youth empowerment, particularly in light of the upcoming AU Summit in July.

Dr. Dlamini Zuma urged the youth push the boundaries by becoming more engaged in matters of concern to the continent and to contribute more actively towards shaping their own destinies. She emphasized that Africa and Africa’s Agenda 2063 belong to the youth and the political will to achieve it must come from all strata of society, including the youth, who “must feel a greater sense of responsibility in delivering Agenda 2063.”

The AU Commission Chairperson also took the opportunity to announce the launch of African passport – to be unveiled at the Summit in Kigali and which she said, “is another tool that will get us closer to the Africa we want.” She further encouraged the youth to seek and share knowledge and information and to utilize the various AU monitoring and reporting tools, such as the Gender Scorecard.

“The Africa we want belongs to now and we must all take part in shaping its future,” the AU Commission Chairperson stated.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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The Islamic Republic of The Gambia Launches the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa

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The Government of the Islamic Republic of The Gambia declared the month of June 2016, as the month on Ending child marriage. Under the leadership of the First lady of The Gambia, Her Excellency, Mrs. Zineb Yahya Jammeh, a nation wide sensitization campaign was launched, leading to the organization of school awareness campaigns and town hall meetings, with various community stakeholders joining forces in saying ‘no to child marriages’. These social mobilization caravan was climaxed with the official national launch of the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in the Islamic Republic of The Gambia on 16 June 2016; being the ‘Day of the African Child’.

The launch, which held at the Sheraton Hotel, Banjul, was attended by Her Excellency, the Vice President and Minister of Women Affairs, Her Excellency the First Lady of the of The Islamic Republic of The Gambia, the AU Goodwill Ambassador on Ending Child Marriage in Africa, the Members of the National Assembly, the Chief Justice of The Gambia, Cabinet Ministers, Mayors and Governors of the different provinces and regions, Heads of UN and partner organizations, traditional and religious leaders, the youth and school children.

In her welcome remarks, Madam Fanta Bai Secka, the Director of Social Welfare informed that the Government, through a survey conducted in 2010 with the support of UNICEF, realized that child marriage was a big problem and it was the driver of many other problems like maternal and neonatal mortality in the country. The data from this survey revealed that 8.5 per-cent of girls of 15 years and below were being married off as child brides and another 46.5 per-cent of The Gambian girls were being married off before their 18th birthday.

On behalf of the children of the Islamic Republic of The Gambia, a member of the children’s parliament, took the podium by asking all stakeholders present, “why do we still hold on o customs, traditions and beliefs that do more harm than good? It is sad that young children are meant to take up responsibilities greater than their age”. She then called on the government to hasten the adoption of a law that criminalizes child marriages and sets the legal age of marriage at 18 years.

All traditional leaders and their spouses attending the campaign launch ceremony, through their Paramount Chief, denounced the practice of child marriage and committed their support to working with the government in eradicating child marriages by ensuring that it ceases to continue in their communities.

The UNFPA Regional Director for West and Central Africa applauded the initiative by the government in making education for both primary and secondary levels free for all – nationwide; noting that this step ensures that all children are enrolled and girls in particular can stay in school longer. He called on all parents to support this effort by the government by ‘allowing children live through their childhood, before motherhood’.

Building on the heart-wrenching testimonies of survivors of child marriage, the UNICEF country representative for The Gambia, called on all stakeholders to take advantage of this unique opportunity in reversing the trend and employing effective strategies to raise awareness on the harmful effects of child marriage while providing better opportunities for girls and women.

On behalf of the AU Commissioner for Social Affairs, the Au Goodwill Ambassador on Ending Child Marriage, Ms. Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda congratulated the government of the Islamic Republic of The Gambia for taking the bold step of showing that its children really matter and by launching the campaign to end child marriage. She called on the government to ensure that the launch translates into active movements and campaigns, which should trickle down to communities and villages where child marriages continue to persist.

Declaring the campaign officially launched, the First Lady of the Islamic Republic of The Gambia, Her Excellency, Mrs. Zineb Yahya Jammeh affirmed her commitment to continue working with families and communities as the success of the campaign would rely more on the full commitment, participation and cooperation of families and communities.

The Islamic Republic of The Gambia is the 13th African Nation to launch the AU Campaign, following from the launches in Ethiopia, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, DRC, Madagascar, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Mali, Sudan, Ghana and Eritrea.

About the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa:

The AU Campaign to End Child Marriage was launched at the continental level in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 29 May, 2014, during the Conference of Ministers of Social Development. The Campaign is aimed at ending child marriage by means of supporting and advocating legal and policy actions in the protection and promotion of human rights; mobilizing continental awareness of the adverse socio-economic impact of child marriage; fostering social movement and social mobilization at the grassroots and national levels; and amplifying the capacity of non-state actors to undertake evidence based policy advocacy including the role of youth leadership through new media technology, monitoring and evaluation – amongst others.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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The Islamic Republic of The Gambia Launches the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa

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The Government of the Islamic Republic of The Gambia declared the month of June 2016, as the month on Ending child marriage. Under the leadership of the First lady of The Gambia, Her Excellency, Mrs. Zineb Yahya Jammeh, a nation wide sensitization campaign was launched, leading to the organization of school awareness campaigns and town hall meetings, with various community stakeholders joining forces in saying ‘no to child marriages’. These social mobilization caravan was climaxed with the official national launch of the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in the Islamic Republic of The Gambia on 16 June 2016; being the ‘Day of the African Child’.

The launch, which held at the Sheraton Hotel, Banjul, was attended by Her Excellency, the Vice President and Minister of Women Affairs, Her Excellency the First Lady of the of The Islamic Republic of The Gambia, the AU Goodwill Ambassador on Ending Child Marriage in Africa, the Members of the National Assembly, the Chief Justice of The Gambia, Cabinet Ministers, Mayors and Governors of the different provinces and regions, Heads of UN and partner organizations, traditional and religious leaders, the youth and school children.

In her welcome remarks, Madam Fanta Bai Secka, the Director of Social Welfare informed that the Government, through a survey conducted in 2010 with the support of UNICEF, realized that child marriage was a big problem and it was the driver of many other problems like maternal and neonatal mortality in the country. The data from this survey revealed that 8.5 per-cent of girls of 15 years and below were being married off as child brides and another 46.5 per-cent of The Gambian girls were being married off before their 18th birthday.

On behalf of the children of the Islamic Republic of The Gambia, a member of the children’s parliament, took the podium by asking all stakeholders present, “why do we still hold on o customs, traditions and beliefs that do more harm than good? It is sad that young children are meant to take up responsibilities greater than their age”. She then called on the government to hasten the adoption of a law that criminalizes child marriages and sets the legal age of marriage at 18 years.

All traditional leaders and their spouses attending the campaign launch ceremony, through their Paramount Chief, denounced the practice of child marriage and committed their support to working with the government in eradicating child marriages by ensuring that it ceases to continue in their communities.

The UNFPA Regional Director for West and Central Africa applauded the initiative by the government in making education for both primary and secondary levels free for all – nationwide; noting that this step ensures that all children are enrolled and girls in particular can stay in school longer. He called on all parents to support this effort by the government by ‘allowing children live through their childhood, before motherhood’.

Building on the heart-wrenching testimonies of survivors of child marriage, the UNICEF country representative for The Gambia, called on all stakeholders to take advantage of this unique opportunity in reversing the trend and employing effective strategies to raise awareness on the harmful effects of child marriage while providing better opportunities for girls and women.

On behalf of the AU Commissioner for Social Affairs, the Au Goodwill Ambassador on Ending Child Marriage, Ms. Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda congratulated the government of the Islamic Republic of The Gambia for taking the bold step of showing that its children really matter and by launching the campaign to end child marriage. She called on the government to ensure that the launch translates into active movements and campaigns, which should trickle down to communities and villages where child marriages continue to persist.

Declaring the campaign officially launched, the First Lady of the Islamic Republic of The Gambia, Her Excellency, Mrs. Zineb Yahya Jammeh affirmed her commitment to continue working with families and communities as the success of the campaign would rely more on the full commitment, participation and cooperation of families and communities.

The Islamic Republic of The Gambia is the 13th African Nation to launch the AU Campaign, following from the launches in Ethiopia, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, DRC, Madagascar, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Mali, Sudan, Ghana and Eritrea.

About the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa:

The AU Campaign to End Child Marriage was launched at the continental level in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 29 May, 2014, during the Conference of Ministers of Social Development. The Campaign is aimed at ending child marriage by means of supporting and advocating legal and policy actions in the protection and promotion of human rights; mobilizing continental awareness of the adverse socio-economic impact of child marriage; fostering social movement and social mobilization at the grassroots and national levels; and amplifying the capacity of non-state actors to undertake evidence based policy advocacy including the role of youth leadership through new media technology, monitoring and evaluation – amongst others.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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Source:: The Islamic Republic of The Gambia Launches the AU Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa

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AU Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security Commemorates the Day of the African Child, with the Refugee Community in Gambella, Ethiopia

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Yesterday 16 June 2016, The African Union (AU) Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security (WPS), H.E. Mme Bineta Diop, joined the refugee community at the Jewi Refugee Camp in Gambella, Ethiopia, to commemorate the twenty-sixth (26th) edition of the Day of the African Child, under the theme, “Conflict and Crisis in Africa: Protecting all Children’s Rights”, and to show support to refugees, trapped in circumstances they neither understand nor contributed to create.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Mme Diop noted that, “No Child should have to grow up in a refugee camp” and that “Children have a right to life, education, health and family”. She added that children and youths are the hope of Africa and reassured them and authorities in attendance that the African Union is, “committed to ensure the protection of children in situations where their rights are violated. Indeed, as the Special Envoy states on various occasions, the protection of children and the promotion of their rights is not an optional but a central tenet for peace, stability and development in Africa”.

The Special Envoy participated at the Intergenerational Dialogue with young girls and boys between the ages of ten (10) and eighteen (18) years, living in the refugee camps and in the city of Gambella. The children who probed on the AU’s and member-states’ engagement to guarantee a better life for youths in Africa had a message for all African leaders. They said: “Listen to us; we also have a voice.” And specifically to heads of states they said, “Create jobs”.

This historic event also witnessed a young girl and boy read the ‘Children’s Declaration’ which they handed to H.E. Mme Bineta Diop, to deliver on their behalf, to the AUC Chairperson, H.E. Mme Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. The Amharic version was given to the President of the Gambella Peoples’ National Regional State, H.E. Ato Gatluak tut Khot.

It must be recalled that The Day of the African Child has been celebrated on June 16 every year since 1991, when it was first initiated by the then Organization of African Unity (OAU). It honors those who participated in the Soweto Uprising in 1976 on that day.

The event which was organized by the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC), saw fruitful collaboration between the AUC Departments of Social Affairs, Peace and Security, Political Affairs, other development partners, the Federal Government of Ethiopia and the State of Gambella.

It was attended by the President of the Regional State of Gambella, the Special Advisor to the EFDR Minister of Women and Children Affairs, state authorities, young boys and girls, and their parents living in refugee camps.

The Special Envoy on behalf of the AUC Chairperson thanked the government and people of Gambella for the warm welcome, and all partners for working together to support refugees, “our children, sisters and brothers trapped in difficult circumstances for no fault of theirs”.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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AU Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security Commemorates the Day of the African Child, with the Refugee Community in Gambella, Ethiopia

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Yesterday 16 June 2016, The African Union (AU) Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security (WPS), H.E. Mme Bineta Diop, joined the refugee community at the Jewi Refugee Camp in Gambella, Ethiopia, to commemorate the twenty-sixth (26th) edition of the Day of the African Child, under the theme, “Conflict and Crisis in Africa: Protecting all Children’s Rights”, and to show support to refugees, trapped in circumstances they neither understand nor contributed to create.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Mme Diop noted that, “No Child should have to grow up in a refugee camp” and that “Children have a right to life, education, health and family”. She added that children and youths are the hope of Africa and reassured them and authorities in attendance that the African Union is, “committed to ensure the protection of children in situations where their rights are violated. Indeed, as the Special Envoy states on various occasions, the protection of children and the promotion of their rights is not an optional but a central tenet for peace, stability and development in Africa”.

The Special Envoy participated at the Intergenerational Dialogue with young girls and boys between the ages of ten (10) and eighteen (18) years, living in the refugee camps and in the city of Gambella. The children who probed on the AU’s and member-states’ engagement to guarantee a better life for youths in Africa had a message for all African leaders. They said: “Listen to us; we also have a voice.” And specifically to heads of states they said, “Create jobs”.

This historic event also witnessed a young girl and boy read the ‘Children’s Declaration’ which they handed to H.E. Mme Bineta Diop, to deliver on their behalf, to the AUC Chairperson, H.E. Mme Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. The Amharic version was given to the President of the Gambella Peoples’ National Regional State, H.E. Ato Gatluak tut Khot.

It must be recalled that The Day of the African Child has been celebrated on June 16 every year since 1991, when it was first initiated by the then Organization of African Unity (OAU). It honors those who participated in the Soweto Uprising in 1976 on that day.

The event which was organized by the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC), saw fruitful collaboration between the AUC Departments of Social Affairs, Peace and Security, Political Affairs, other development partners, the Federal Government of Ethiopia and the State of Gambella.

It was attended by the President of the Regional State of Gambella, the Special Advisor to the EFDR Minister of Women and Children Affairs, state authorities, young boys and girls, and their parents living in refugee camps.

The Special Envoy on behalf of the AUC Chairperson thanked the government and people of Gambella for the warm welcome, and all partners for working together to support refugees, “our children, sisters and brothers trapped in difficult circumstances for no fault of theirs”.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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2nd Specialized Technical Committee Meeting on Youth, Culture, Sports

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The five day meeting of the 2nd Specialized Technical Committee Meeting on Youth, Culture, Sports commenced today with the experts meeting at the African Union Commission (AUC) under the theme “African Year of Human Rights: “Promoting Ethics and Cultural Diversity as an Essential Right for the people of Africa” The theme of the STC-YCS2 is in line with the overall theme of the Union for 2016 which is: “African Year of Human Rights, with Particular Focus on the Rights of Women.”

The purpose of the STC-YCS2 is to provide a common platform for Ministers of Youth, Culture and Sport and Senior Officials to review progress on the implementation of decisions of the STC-YCS1 and to deliberate on the theme of the conference as well as on specific issues pertaining to the three (3) sectors. The STC –YCS2 will also enhance the establishment of synergies between the three sectors as highlighted in the first STCYCS1 which was held under the theme: “Building the Interface between Youth, Culture and Sport”

During the opening ceremony, Director of the Department of Social Affairs of the African Union Commission Dr. Olawale Maiyegun expressed his sincere gratitude to the delegates and partners for participating at this very important meeting. He added that the 2nd Specialized Technical Committee on Youth, Culture and Sport is being held a month after the celebration marking the 10th Anniversary of the African Union Youth Charter (the Banjul+10) and was an opportunity to advance the agenda for youth empowerment and development in all member states by ensuring mutual accountability on the obligations of African Youth Charter and re-affirming commitments in the Decade of Youth 2009 – 2018 and its Plan of Action.

Director Olawale Maiyegun underscored that the Youth development policy at the continental level has rapidly evolved since the adoption of the African Youth Charter, which to date remains the premier continental youth policy document. On Culture, the African Union Agenda 2063 being a framework for Africa’s development for the next fifty (50) years presents itself as a crucial source to guide and inform initiatives by Member States to provide their contribution from the culture and heritage sectors to the sustainable development of the Continent. Aspiration five (05) of the AU Agenda 2063 addresses cultural issues and it states: “ An Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, values and ethics; inculcating the spirit of Pan-Africanism; tapping Africa’s rich heritage and culture to ensure that the creative arts are major contributors to Africa’s growth and transformation.

He further reinstated that the AU Policy Framework for the Sustainable Development of Sport in Africa (2008-2018) is an instrument designed to provide a common policy on the use of sport as a tool for development by Member States. In an effort to implement the Policy Framework for the Sustainable Development of Sport in Africa the Member States adopted the new Architecture for Sport in Africa, a framework aimed at re-positioning sport to contribute to the broader government and African Union development agenda.

The 2nd Specialized Technical Committee on Youth, Culture and Sport will provide an opportunity to consider efforts made by the Commission to engage member states in the hosting of the 2019 and 2023 African Games and endorse the offer by the Republic of Equatorial Guinea to host 2019 African Games. This is an opportunity for the Senior Officials to review progress on the implementation of decisions of the STC-YCS1 and to deliberate on the theme of the conference as well as on specific issues pertaining to Youth, Culture and Sport.

Speaking at the meeting Representative of Outgoing chair of Youth Ngournde Blaise stated that on behalf of the Congolese Delegation he expresses the honor to chair the STC at this 2nd STC. He elaborated that prospective reflection is required which is the promotion of the people of Africa and it is crucial with regards to the ambition of Africa. He added that the federating elements Culture and Sport the two elements of the theme to build on Africa. He further wished for fruitful elaborations and hoped for success.

The meeting is set to conclude on the 17th of June 2016

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on the First Anniversary of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali

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On the occasion of the first anniversary of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, the Secretary-General welcomes the renewed commitment to peace expressed by the President of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, and his Government. He notes with satisfaction the decision of the President to appoint Mr. Mahamadou Diagouraga as his High Representative to follow-up on the Agreement, as well as the signing by the Government and signatory armed groups of the Protocole d’Entente on the interim authorities and other related arrangements. These are important steps forward.

The Secretary-General trusts that the signatory parties will ensure the swift and full implementation of the agreement, bearing in mind the many challenges that lie ahead. The Secretary-General commends the members of the international mediation, particularly Algeria as Chair of the Comité de Suivi de l’Accord, for their support to peace in Mali. He encourages them to remain steadfast in their efforts.

The Secretary-General reiterates the United Nations’ full support to the peace agreement. Strengthening MINUSMA’s posture and capabilities, as well as the fulfillment by the parties of their commitments will enable the Mission to effectively support the Government of Mali and the Malian people in achieving lasting peace, stability and development in the country.

New York, 20 June 2016

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

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Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on the First Anniversary of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali

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On the occasion of the first anniversary of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, the Secretary-General welcomes the renewed commitment to peace expressed by the President of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, and his Government. He notes with satisfaction the decision of the President to appoint Mr. Mahamadou Diagouraga as his High Representative to follow-up on the Agreement, as well as the signing by the Government and signatory armed groups of the Protocole d’Entente on the interim authorities and other related arrangements. These are important steps forward.

The Secretary-General trusts that the signatory parties will ensure the swift and full implementation of the agreement, bearing in mind the many challenges that lie ahead. The Secretary-General commends the members of the international mediation, particularly Algeria as Chair of the Comité de Suivi de l’Accord, for their support to peace in Mali. He encourages them to remain steadfast in their efforts.

The Secretary-General reiterates the United Nations’ full support to the peace agreement. Strengthening MINUSMA’s posture and capabilities, as well as the fulfillment by the parties of their commitments will enable the Mission to effectively support the Government of Mali and the Malian people in achieving lasting peace, stability and development in the country.

New York, 20 June 2016

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

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Kenya: Police Killings During Protests

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At least 5 people died and 60 were wounded by gunfire as police tried to obstruct two recent protests in Nyanza region, Human Rights Watch said today. Kenyan authorities should promptly investigate police use of excessive force during the demonstrations, on May 23 and June 6, 2016, in the Nyanza region of Western Kenya, and bring anyone responsible to account.

Police officers shot live ammunition at and near those participating in the largely peaceful protests on both days. Human Rights Watch found that uninvolved bystanders, students in school or on their way home, and people at work or in their homes were seriously injured or killed in situations where lethal force was unnecessary. One witness said police shot a man coming out of a bank and apparently took his money. The shootings appear to have violated Kenyan law and international guidelines on the use of force by law enforcement officials.

“People were killed in their homes and schools, people were killed in the streets during largely peaceful protests, and the authorities need to find out why,” said Otsieno Namwaya, Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Given the failure to investigate similar past incidents and with elections expected in 2017, it’s crucial for the government to make its findings public and to see that justice is done.”

In early May, Kenya’s main opposition party, the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD), called for countrywide demonstrations every Monday against the national elections management body, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). Opposition parties and nongovernmental groups have been calling for the resignation of the commission’s top officials, some of whom have been implicated in bribery and corruption by a UK court. CORD, which lost the 2013 election, also accuses the commissioners of bias and says they should not be allowed to oversee the 2017 general election. Members of the ruling Jubilee party have defended the commissioners.

Human Rights Watch interviewed 35 people in Kisumu, Siaya, Migori, and Homabay counties in the Nyanza region, including 10 who were shot, human rights activists, witnesses to the protests and shootings, family members of those killed, two doctors and a nurse who treated those who had been shot, journalists, politicians who participated in the demonstrations, and a police spokesman.

Human Rights Watch found that during the May 23 demonstrations, at least three people died – one in Kisumu and two in Siaya – and more than 20 were admitted to county hospitals in Siaya, Kisumu, Homabay and Migori with bullet wounds. Many of those injured were not participating in the protests and posed no lethal threat to security officials, according to numerous witnesses.

In Homabay county, police stormed Shauri Yako neighborhood and shot people at their homes, allegedly while looking for protesters who were burning debris on the road in town. Dorothy Anyango, 37, told Human Rights Watch she stepped out of her house when she heard noise outside. “Something hit me on the shoulder from behind,” she said. “I fell down and heard people say I had been shot.”

On May 24, senior opposition party officials announced a 10-day suspension of the demonstrations “to give dialogue a chance”, but demonstrations resumed after the government and opposition failed to agree on a way forward.

During demonstrations on June 6 in the Nyanza region, police shot at least two people dead. Twenty-one people were admitted to Jaramogi Oginga Odinga hospital with gunshot wounds and two had deep cuts on the head, back, chest, thighs, and arms, said Dr. Juliana Otieno, the head of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital in Kisumu. Another 24 were admitted at the Kisumu Sub-County Hospital with gunshot wounds that day, according to a hospital official.

The deputy national police spokesman, Jared Ojuok, said that the police use of lethal force was justified. “The law allows demonstrations, but this is supposed to be peaceful,” he told Human Rights Watch. “When demonstrators carry stones, light tires on roads and throw stones at motorists or, as in the case of Kisumu, at police stations, then the demonstration ceases to be peaceful.”

Earlier, the national police spokesman, Charles Owino, had told the media that police shot the demonstrators in self-defense and had no apologies to make. “Do not threaten the life of a police officer,” he said. “We have a responsibility to protect ourselves first as we protect the public and other police officers.”

But Human Rights Watch is not aware of any arrests of protesters for committing crimes during the demonstrations in Nyanza. Contrary to police assertions, numerous witnesses told Human Rights Watch that the demonstrations in all four counties remained largely peaceful until police started throwing teargas and shooting live ammunition at the demonstrators. In turn, protesters threw stones at police, most of whom where in protective riot gear. Some protesters set debris alight, but Human Rights Watch found no evidence that demonstrators were armed or presented an imminent lethal threat. In Siaya, for instance, numerous witnesses told Human Rights Watch that Administration Police (AP) officers guarding the District Commissioner’s office opened fire just as demonstrators were beginning to disperse, slightly before noon.

Protests have occurred in the capital Nairobi, the coast region, Rift Valley, Nyanza, and other parts of the country. After the media photographed uniformed police officers savagely beating people, including one man who appeared unconscious, during protests in Nairobi on May 16, the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights and Kenya’s development partners condemned the violence and called for accountability. In response, Inspector General Joseph Boinett told the media that he had ordered investigations into allegations of police brutality.

The United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms say that law enforcement officials, including military units responding to national emergencies, should apply nonviolent means before resorting to the use of force, use force only in proportion to the seriousness of the offense, and to use lethal force only when strictly unavoidable to protect life. In cases of death or serious injury, appropriate agencies are to conduct a review and a detailed report is to be sent promptly to the competent administrative or prosecutorial authorities. The principles also say that governments should ensure that arbitrary or abusive use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials is punished as a criminal offense. Superior officers should be held responsible if they knew, or should have known, that personnel under their command resorted to the unlawful use of force and firearms but did not take all measures in their power to prevent, suppress, or report such use.

The government of Kenya should publicly acknowledge and condemn recent killings and shootings of unarmed people by members of the security forces. The government should initiate credible investigations into the actions of police alleged to have ordered or carried out human rights abuses during the May 23 and June 6 protests in the Nyanza region.

Donors to the Kenyan government should support police accountability mechanisms, particularly the Independent Policing Oversight Authority, in carrying out investigations into the recent violence in Nyanza and urge the release of their findings to the public.

“Police have a responsibility to protect the public and to ensure accountability,” Namwaya said. “The real tragedy is that people have been seriously injured and families have lost loved ones due to unnecessary police violence. They deserve to see justice done.”

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Human Rights Watch (HRW).

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Source:: Kenya: Police Killings During Protests

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IMF Executive Board Completes Seventh and Eighth Reviews under Malawi’s ECF Arrangement and Approves US$ 76.8 Million Disbursement

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IMF Executive Board Completes Seventh and Eighth Reviews under Malawi’s ECF Arrangement and Approves US$ 76.8 Million Disbursement

The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) today completed the seventh and eighth reviews of Malawi’s economic performance under the program supported by an Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement1. The Board’s decision enables the immediate disbursement of the equivalent of SDR 54.22 million (about US$ 76.8 million), bringing total disbursements under the arrangement to the equivalent of SDR 119.3 million (about US$ 169.1 million).

In completing the reviews, the Board also approved the authorities’ request for an extension of the current ECF arrangement to end December 20162 and an augmentation of access by the equivalent of SDR 34.7 million (about US$ 49.2 million or 25 percent of quota). The requested extension would give the authorities more time to achieve the original objectives of the program while the additional financing will help to strengthen the country’s response to the El Niño induced drought which has caused a humanitarian crisis. The Board also approved the authorities’ request for waivers of non-observance of performance criteria related to net domestic borrowing by the government and net international reserves.

The three-year ECF arrangement for Malawi in the total amount of SDR 104.1 million (about US$ 144.4 million) was approved on July 23, 2012 (see Press Release No. 12/273).

At the conclusion of the Executive Board’s discussion, Mr. Min Zhu, Acting Chair and Deputy Managing Director, issued the following statement:

“The authorities have strengthened macroeconomic policies and stepped up the implementation of structural reforms over the last year to bring the program back on track. Nevertheless, Malawi’s macroeconomic situation remains difficult, reflecting weather-related shocks and past policy slippages, which contributed to persistently high inflation. Real GDP growth declined sharply due to floods and drought in 2015 and is expected to drop further this year owing to the region-wide El Niño-induced drought. A poor maize harvest for a second consecutive year has placed half of the population at risk of food insecurity. Short-term risks that could arise from adverse weather conditions, lower global demand for Malawi’s exports, and policy slippages continue to weigh on the outlook.

“The near-term policy mix should center on reducing inflation by combining tight monetary and fiscal policies. To this end, expenditures will have to be limited to available resources and monetary policy should aim at maintaining positive short-term real money market interest rates.

“Accelerating the implementation of public financial management reforms is indispensable to building trust and confidence in the budget process and ensuring control over fiscal operations. Strong commitment controls, routine bank reconciliations, and regular fiscal reporting remain critical to preventing potential misappropriation of public funds and reviving donor re-engagement.

“The pursuit of prudent fiscal policy is critical to safeguarding medium-term fiscal and debt sustainability. Improved revenue mobilization and expenditure efficiency will reduce aid dependency and create fiscal space for social spending in pursuit of Malawi’s sustainable development goals.

“Important steps have been taken over the last two years to safeguard and strengthen financial sector stability. Given recent weather-related shocks and the prevalence of credit concentration risks, the authorities are encouraged to consider additional measures, including higher capital requirements, improved credit assessments, higher provisioning, and bank mergers to mitigate risks.”

1 The ECF is a lending arrangement that provides sustained program engagement over the medium to long term in case of protracted balance of payments problems.

2 A short extension of the arrangement from May 22, 2016 to June 30, 2016 was approved by the Board on May 13, 2016 to give to the authorities time to implement two prior actions for completing the seventh and eighth reviews. See Press Release No. 16/222.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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Source:: IMF Executive Board Completes Seventh and Eighth Reviews under Malawi’s ECF Arrangement and Approves US$ 76.8 Million Disbursement

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