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Saturday, 28th January 2023
1:03:51pm

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Latest news articles hot off the press.

A US general nominated to lead American military’s Africa Command has called for a 15-fold surge in US spying missions in Africa amid reports of Pentagon’s plans to further expand its growing military presence in the continent.


Army General David Rodriguez estimated in a written statement submitted to the US Senate Arms Services Committee during his confirmation hearing on Thursday that the American military needs to boost its “intelligence-gathering and spying missions in Africa by nearly 15-fold,” The Washington Post reports Friday.

“I believe additional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities are necessary to protect American interests and assist our close allies and partners,” said the four-star general who has previously commanded US-led intervention forces in Panama, Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The recent crises in North Africa demonstrate the volatility of the African security environment,” he added.

Rodrigues further emphasized during the hearing that Africa Command requires additional drones, other spying aircraft and more satellite imagery, adding that the US command currently gets only half of its “stated need” for North Africa and just seven percent of its total “requirements” for the entire continent, the report says.


The surging US military involvement in Africa has emerged despite earlier instructions by the Obama administration for the Pentagon to “pivot its forces and reorient its strategy toward fast-growing Asia,” the daily underlines.

The development comes as the American military has intervened over the past two years in internal conflicts in African nations of Somalia, Libya and Mali, as well as central Africa.

This is while the US Air Force is building its fourth assassination and spying drone base in the poor African state of Niger as American Navy warships are expanding their missions along the coastlines of East and West Africa, according to the report.

Despite insistence by US military authorities that they did not have plans to establish bases or move troops to Africa when they created the Africa Command in 2007, the Pentagon has since built a network of “staging bases,” including assassination drone facilities in Ethiopia and the Seychelles, and “a forward operating base for special operations forces in Kenya,” the report notes.

It further adds that the Pentagon has also expanded its military operations and construction at “the only permanent US base on the continent, Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, which serves as a hub for 'counterterrorism missions' in Somalia and Yemen.”

Now, the daily emphasizes, there is a growing pressure to add even more bases in North and West Africa as the US military is set to build an assassination drone base in the West African country of Niger, which borders Mali, Libya and Nigeria, all nations that the Obama administration claims are threatened by an increasing influx of al-Qaeda-linked Muslim militants.


The US Africa Command has been based in Stuttgart, Germany since it was established in 2007. Efforts to move the headquarters to an African country faced hurdles as numerous nations “expressed concern that the Pentagon was seeking to militarize US policy or infringe on their sovereignty,” according to the report.

-Press TV

Shifting population trends mean that one in three children born by 2050 will be African, the UN Children's Fund said on Tuesday.

Unicef's new study also says the United States is the only high-income country projected to have an increasing proportion of children by 2025.

The demographic shifts will present policy makers and planners with "major challenges" in the decades following the 2015 deadline for achieving the UN's anti-poverty goals, Unicef said in a press release.

The study drew its findings from the UN Population Division projections.

"Though China and India will continue to have a major share of the world's population, in absolute terms, Nigeria will see the highest increase in its under-18 population of any country, adding 31 million children, a rise of 41%, between 2010 and 2025," the study says.

The study adds that the deaths of children under age 5 will increasingly occur in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in pockets of poverty and marginalization in heavily populated, low-income countries.

Co-author Danzhen You highlighted the need to safeguard children's rights, especially as the aging global population increases pressure to shift resources away from children.

"Children do not vote," You said. "Their voices are often not heard when governments make decisions about funding."

According to projections, the 49 UN-designated Least Developed Countries will account for around 455 million of the two billion global births between 2010 and 2025. Five populous middle-income countries — China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Nigeria — will account for about 859 million births between 2010 and 2025.

In a thinly veiled swipe at China's investments in Africa, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday urged African leaders to embrace democracy and partnerships with responsible foreign powers if they want to improve the living standards of their people, and address the root causes of extremism that threaten security on the continent.

In a speech in Senegal's capital, Clinton challenged Africa's elite to fully respect human rights and she warned of the consequences of rampant abuses, corruption and intolerance that breed contempt and contribute to instability.

She said America would stand by African reformers and she indirectly took on China. Beijing has been criticised for ignoring human rights concerns, local laws and environmental regulations as it boosts investment in Africa in search of energy and resources to fuel its exploding economy.

"There are still too many places in the region and across the continent where democracy is threatened, where human rights are abused, and the rule of law is undermined," Clinton said.

Committed

"Too many Africans still live under autocratic rulers who care more about preserving their grip on power than promoting the welfare of their citizens. Violent extremism, transnational crime and rampant corruption all threaten democracy."

The United States, she said, is committed to "a model of sustainable partnership that adds value, rather than extracts it" from Africa. "The days of having outsiders come and extract the wealth of Africa for themselves leaving nothing or very little behind should be over in the 21st century," she said.

Without mentioning China by name, she maintained that unlike other countries, "America will stand up for democracy and universal human rights even when it might be easier or more profitable to look the other way, to keep the resources flowing."

"Not every partner makes that choice, but we do and we will," she said, calling support for democracy and human rights the "heart of the American model of partnership".

Tour

Clinton was in Dakar on the first leg of an 11-day African tour that will take her to at least six other nations, including South Africa, Uganda, South Sudan, Kenya, Malawi, and Ghana. In Ghana, she will attend the state funeral for the late president, John Atta Mills, who died last week.

Her speech coincided with the first major storm of the rainy season, a positive sign in a place where drought is responsible for a food crisis.

Clinton praised Senegal, the only mainland West African country never to have experienced a coup, for its democratic history and recent elections in which a long-time incumbent lost and handed over power to the victor, Macky Sall, whom she met before delivering the speech.

But she noted that such trends were not necessarily the norm in the region, such as in Mali or Guinea-Bissau where militaries ousted elected presidents.

"Leaders who hold on to power at all costs, who suppress dissent, who enrich themselves, their families and their supporters at the expense of their own people - who define democracy as one election, one time - are on the wrong side of history," Clinton said.

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The Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership - the world's biggest individual prize - was not awarded for a third time in four years as no suitable candidates were found, it was announced Monday.

At a press conference in London, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation said it was not going to compromise on its standard of excellence in a leader.

The award, set up by Sudan-born telecoms tycoon Mo Ibrahim in 2006, carries a $5m prize paid over 10 years and $200 000 annually for life from then on, with a further $200 000 per year available for 10 years for good causes backed by the winner.

The award goes to a democratically-elected African leader who has served their mandated term and left office in the last three years.

"You make your bed, you have to lie on it. If we said we're going to have a prize for exceptional leadership, we have to stick to that. We are not going to compromise," Ibrahim said.

"We are not just in the business of positive messages - we would lose our credibility."

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation has awarded the annual prize only three times since it was established, plus two special awards given to South Africa's Nelson Mandela and South African former archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The prize committee said they reviewed a number of eligible candidates "but none met the criteria needed to win this award".

Inaugural prize

"The award is about excellence in leadership. In the first six years the prize committee has selected three very worthy laureates who continue to be an inspiration and whose examples, we hope, will be emulated."

The inaugural prize went to former president Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique in 2007 and Botswana's ex-president Festus Mogae won in 2008.

The prize was not awarded in the following two years. Former Cape Verde president Pedro Pires won the 2011 prize.

The London-based foundation also publishes the Ibrahim Index, ranking 52 African countries according to 88 indicators grouped under safety and the rule of law, participation and human rights, sustainable economic opportunity and human development.

There has been no change in its top five this year - with Mauritius topping the index with a score of 83 out of 100, ahead of Cape Verde (78), Botswana (77), Seychelles (73) and South Africa (71).

Somalia remained at the bottom with a score of seven, behind Democratic Republic of Congo (33), Chad (33), Eritrea (33) and the Central African Republic (34).

Ibrahim said that while there had been major improvements in some sectors, the continent's main players were lagging behind.

"Between 2000 and 2011 there is a marked improvement in governance across Africa," he said.

Highest improvement

"The major improvements were in health, the rural sector, the economy. The interesting development was in gender. Gender has improved amazingly over the last 10-11 years. The highest improvement in any category in the index."

However across the data, "the four main powerhouses in Africa - Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya - appear to be really stuttering. They are not showing really convincing progress.

"East Africa is not doing that well. It has been over taken by west Africa in the category of sustainable economic development.

"In general, we see positive development in Africa. The economy is moving forward relentlessly. Education and health is improving, there is great development there. Gender issues are improving.

"We see, unfortunately, a little bit of decline in the issues of human rights and participation. Economic development does not give us a reason to be complacent about that."

-SAPA

An independent, global medical and humanitarian organization says African nations are not receiving adequate international funding to fight HIV/Aids, leaving them to face catastrophic consequences without enough medication.

Experts at Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders, on Thursday said Congo is only able to supply anti-retroviral drugs to 15% of the people needing them and "patients are literally dying on our doorstep".

In a statement released in Johannesburg ahead of the United Nations world Aids conference in Washington starting on 22 July, the organisation said countries worst affected by the pandemic were the least able to provide "the best science" available to fight it.

The group says that while world data by the UN has pointed to gains over the disease, donors have scaled back on earlier funding commitments to Africa.

-AP

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