Daily Archives: March 11, 2019

As China Prevails, France’s Macron Shuffles His Cards in Djibouti

DJIBOUTI/ADDIS ABABA French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday sought to reassert the importance of France in its former colony Djibouti with Paris increasingly fearing China’s muscular role in Africa as it expands economic and military influence across the continent.

Djibouti, strategically located at the southern entrance to the Red Sea on the route to the Suez Canal, hosts France’s largest naval base on the continent and is home to some 1,400 personnel used to train African troops as well as to monitor the Horn of Africa and Yemen.

While it was seen as a vital outpost in the past, French administrations have disregarded it in recent years with Macron only the second French leader to visit the East African country in the last 20 years.

“France considered Djibouti for too long to be a territory that was won,” said a senior French diplomat based in the region. “But now the competition from China is fierce.”

Those comments echoed President Ismail Omar Guelleh’s public criticism in 2015 accusing France – from which it gained independence in 1977 – of abandoning Djibouti and investing very little.

Djibouti also hosts a U.S. military base used as a launch pad for operations in Yemen and Somalia, but in 2013, China opened its largest overseas military base in the country rivaling Paris and Washington directly.

In recent years, Beijing has provided economic aid, developed industrial production in the country and invested massively in high-profile public infrastructure projects, including restoring a French-made railway from 1917 linking Djibouti to Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

With a population of less than a million, it also handles 95 percent of the goods imported by Ethiopia, its landlocked neighbor with 100 million people.

“Strategically we need to strengthen the French presence threefold: economically, culturally and militarily,” Marielle de Sarnez, the head of France’s parliamentary foreign affairs committee, said after being dispatched by Macron last May. “It’s urgent. Otherwise we will lose ground.”

The unexpected peace accord between Ethiopia and Eritrea in 2018 has also reshuffled the cards for Djibouti.

The lifting of the United Nations Security Council’s arms embargo on Eritrea and other sanctions in November sparked Djibouti’s ire. It accuses Eritrea of occupying part of its territory and holding 13 Djiboutian soldiers.

French officials say they have raised this at the U.N. and see it as a way for Paris to assert its diplomatic influence in the region.

“What the Djiboutian authorities are expecting from us is that we remain active so that Djibouti fully has its place in the recomposition of the region,” a French presidential source said.

Source: Voice of America

Free State Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs celebrates World Consumer Rights Day, 15 Mar

The Free State Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs through its Consumer Protection Office will be celebrating the World Consumer Rights Day which is observed annually on the 15th of March.

World Consumer Rights Day promote the basic rights of all consumers. All citizens are mobilized to demand that those rights are respected and protected, and to protest the market abuses and social injustices which undermine them.

The theme for this years celebration is Trusted Smart Products. Issues that are of concern to consumers that will be discussed are:

Online shopping

Electronic payments

Online auctions

Internet banking

Online ticketing

As part of the programme for the day, there will be testimonies by happy consumers who were assisted by the Free State Consumer Protection Office, Presentation by Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) and Presentation by Motor Industry Ombudsman of SA (MIOSA).

There will also be a launch of e-Complaint System which is a new electronic system that consumers can use to lodge complaints.

Source: Government of South Africa

Family Remembers Crash Victim as ‘Loved, Generous’

His sister described him as “open, sociable and likable.”

Siraje Hussein Abdi, 32, was on his way to meet his sister and brother in Nairobi Sunday when the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 jet in which he was flying crashed six minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport.

Abdi had been in Morocco for three months visiting his wife and decided to travel to Nairobi to meet his siblings, whom he had not seen in years.

“He called my sister from Addis Ababa. He told them what time his plane is arriving, and said he needs to be picked up from the airport,” Abdi’s sister Ardo told VOA Somali.

Abdi, also known as Mu’ad, was among eight U.S. citizens who died in the crash.

His family of 13 siblings is now gathering in Addis Ababa to console each other, waiting for their brother’s body to be recovered.

Abdi arrived in the United States in 2002, where he lived with his brother Hassan and attended South High School in Denver, Colorado.

“He was brainy,” Hassan said.

Abdi completed high school in 2005. The following year, he moved to St. Cloud, Minnesota, where many Somalis were being resettled through a U.S. government program. He became a U.S. citizen in 2007.

He briefly attended college but left to find work to support himself and his large family, including his mother who still lives in Gurra’a, the Somali region of Ethiopia where he was born.

Three years ago, Ardo said, he bought a truck and became a driver, transporting goods between cities.

“He was social, generous. People loved him, Ardo said. “May Allah give him mercy.”

Source: Voice of America

Minister Ayanda Dlodlo accepts ethics committee outcome

Minister for Public Service and Administration, Ms Ayanda Dlodlo has today, Monday, 11 March 2019, noted the outcome of the ethics committee regarding her non-disclosure of details pertaining to a 2016 trip.

“As the record will show, I have been fully transparent and truthful about my trip and the fact that Mr Hlongwane paid for my accommodation”. Says the Minister.

“It was my own admission that served as the basis from which Honourable Van Damme submitted a request to the ethics committee to investigate.

I fully respect the decision of the ethics committee which found that my interpretation of family members fell short of the committee’s own definition of a family member in terms of the executive ethics code.

I respect the Parliamentary legal codes and do not wish to act contrary to any of them.

I therefore appreciate and welcome the fact that as part of the sanction, I will be counseled on all aspects of the code”. She added

Source: Government of South Africa

State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development FY 2020 Budget Request

The President’s FY 2020 budget request proposes $40 billion for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The FY 2020 budget request provides the necessary resources to protect United States citizens, increase American prosperity by utilizing foreign assistance to create the conditions that will expand opportunities for U.S. businesses, support our allies while asking other nations to do more, and advance a secure, prosperous world by assisting countries to become self-reliant economic and security partners.

This budget request focuses resources on providing better results for the American people. It supports effective American diplomacy, prioritizes embassy security and the protection of diplomats and staff, and provides support for strategic partners and diplomatic progress. It also makes programs more effective while increasing burden sharing in order to lessen the burden on American taxpayers and maximize global outcomes.

With the funds included in the FY 2020 budget request, U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance will focus on:

Protecting America’s Security at Home and Abroad:

Providing Critical Support to Our Allies in the Middle East: Supporting the 10-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the U.S. and Israel by providing $3.3 billion in Foreign Military Financing for Israel. The budget request recognizes the critical U.S. strategic partnership with and support for Jordan by providing $1.3 billion in economic and security assistance, consistent with our most recent MOU with Jordan.

Protecting U.S. Overseas Personnel and Facilities: Providing $5.4 billion for the protection of our U.S. government personnel and facilities overseas.

Promoting a Free, Open, and Secure Indo-Pacific: Providing $1.8 billion to support the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy to strengthen the international rules-based system; help protect the political and economic sovereignty of all Indo-Pacific nations; support embassy operations abroad; and engage foreign audiences to strengthen alliances.

Countering Russian Malign Influence and Misinformation: Investing $661 million in efforts to counter Russian malign influence in Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia.

Supporting Transition in Venezuela: Continuing democracy assistance for Venezuela and including flexibility to provide additional funds to support a democratic transition or respond to the crisis there, including authority to transfer up to $500 million between foreign assistance accounts.

Supporting U.S. Border Security: Providing $1.2 billion to target illicit pathways used by transnational criminal organizations to traffic humans, drugs, money, and weapons from the Western Hemisphere while improving governance and boosting local economies to discourage illegal immigration. In addition, $3.9 billion in consular programs will secure our borders through enhanced visa vetting, preventing fraud, improving visa processes, and enabling the conduct of international business by facilitating legitimate foreign travel to and from the United States.

Prioritizing Programs that Counter Critical National Security Threats: Leading international efforts with $707 million to combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, reinforce counterterrorism efforts, and support demining and other weapons destruction. This includes preventing North Korea, Iran, and other states and terrorist actors from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

Supporting Religious and Ethnic Minorities: Providing $150 million to support persecuted religious and ethnic minorities, recovering from the devastation caused by ISIS, al Qa’ida, and other terrorist organizations in the Middle East and other regions.

Strengthening U.S. Allies and Bilateral Security Relationships: Providing up to $8 billion in Foreign Military Financing loans to make U.S. defense equipment a more competitive and more affordable option, increasing opportunities for allies and partners to build their militaries around U.S. innovation and quality.

Renewing America’s Competitive Advantage for Sustained Economic Growth and Job Creation:

Leveraging the new U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC): Engaging the private sector, including through $50 million in investments and transfers of economic growth funding from State Department and USAID posts, missions, and regional bureaus to the new Development Finance Corporation (DFC), building on their use of USAID Development Credit Authority today. This will serve to encourage private sector financing for allies and partners to grow their economies; engage the private sector in developing nations to advance U.S. national-security interests; and support U.S. companies, jobs, and exports while advancing development outcomes.

Improving Investment Opportunities, including for U.S. Businesses: Providing $50 million for a new Presidential initiative, Prosper Africa, to increase two-way trade and investment between the U.S. and African partners, advancing mutual prosperity and building on the State Department and USAID’s focus on private sector engagement. The request also includes $70 million for Power Africa to facilitate private investment in power generation and create new opportunities for economic partnerships.

Promoting American Leadership through Balanced Engagement:

International Organizations: Reprioritizing investments in international programs and organizations. At the request of $2.1 billion, the Budget fully funds those organizations critical to our national security but makes cuts or reductions to those whose results are unclear, whose work does not directly affect our national security interests, or for which the funding burden is not fairly shared among members. The Department will continue to work with the international organizations including the UN to reduce costs, improve effectiveness, and more fairly share the funding burden.

Leading in Global Health Programs: Providing $6.3 billion to support U.S. leadership in advancing global health, including through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR); the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; the President’s Malaria Initiative; and global health security activities while simultaneously supporting efforts to help partner nations build their own capacity. The budget fully funds the Administration’s PEPFAR Strategy for Accelerating HIV/AIDS Epidemic Control (2017-2020), which will maintain all current patients on treatment and continue the United States’ position as the world’s top HIV/AIDS donor. In addition, the budget emphasizes burden sharing with other donors, including through a new matching pledge for the Global Fund’s upcoming sixth replenishment. The budget request proposes to match $1 for every $3 pledged by other donors, encouraging other donors to increase their commitment and allowing for a larger replenishment.

Providing Leadership in Response to Humanitarian Crises: Requesting $6.3 billion for humanitarian assistance (including resettlement) will allow the U.S. to remain the largest single donor. Combined with carryover resources, the average program levels for 2019 and 2020 would maintain the highest annual U.S. humanitarian assistance programming ever.

Addressing Causes of Recurrent Food Crises: Providing $492 million for food security programs that advance agricultural development to improve economic growth, reduce malnutrition, including $123 million to strengthen resilience to recurrent crises, leveraging private investment, donor, and host-country contributions.

Informing Foreign Opinion and Engaging Foreign Audiences: Furthering U.S. foreign policy goals by providing $511 million for Public Diplomacy (PD) programs to inform foreign opinion. PD programs assist in countering misinformation about the U.S. and its foreign policy and strengthen relationships between Americans and foreign publics.

Ensuring Effectiveness and Accountability to the American Taxpayer:

Optimizing Humanitarian Assistance Outcomes: Consolidating implementation of all overseas humanitarian assistance at USAID and through a new, more flexible appropriations account, to respond most effectively and seamlessly to evolving humanitarian needs, achieve optimal UN reforms, induce other donors to do their fair share, and resolve ongoing crises. This restructuring builds on the State Department’s and USAID’s comparative strengths, under new senior, dual-hatted State Department and USAID leadership structure under the authority of the Secretary of State. The State Department will continue to implement the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program in its existing account.

Modernizing Information Technology: Investing $311 million for modernizing the State Department’s information technology, including wireless and cloud-based services, including new digital capabilities, to provide our employees with greater mobility.

Promoting Self Reliance through Expanded Domestic Resource Mobilization: Equipping and challenging countries to mobilize and manage their domestic public and private resources more effectively, leveraging other available financing sources, and sustainably leading their own development.

Reinforcing Global Women’s Economic Empowerment: Empowering women to participate fully in the formal economy in partner nations around the world by providing $100 million in support of the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative.

Diversifying our U.S. Partnership Base: Dedicating $20 million for a New Partnerships Initiative that will increase impact and country progress through adaptive partnering for foreign assistance.

Advancing Implementation of U.S. Government Reforms for Better Diplomacy and Development Results: Supporting a major structural reorganization of USAID to strengthen core capabilities, increase efficiency, and reduce costs.

Source: U.S Department of State