Daily Archives: April 7, 2019

African Billionaire Rebuts Idea of Migration Flood in Europe

JOHANNESBURG The migration of Africans to Europe and North America should be viewed as a positive phenomenon, not a threat, Sudan-born billionaire Mo Ibrahim said Sunday.

Experts said at a weekend conference hosted by Ibrahim’s foundation in Abidjan, Ivory Coast that Africans make up about 14% of the global migrant population, a much smaller share than the 41% from Asia and 23% from Europe.

Migration is healthy. It’s not a disease, Ibrahim told The Associated Press in an interview. Migration is about aspirations, not desperation. People who migrate are mostly capable, ambitious young people who are migrating to work and to build successful lives. They add wealth to the countries they go to.

Ibrahim also cited statistics to rebut anti-migration politicians who say Africans have inundated Europe.

Europe is not being flooded by Africans, Ibrahim said, citing statistics that show 70% of African migrants relocate within Africa.

The 72-year-old philanthropist earned his fortune by establishing the Celtel mobile phone network across Africa.

Now living in Britain, he says African countries should have better education and employment opportunities for their young.

Farming should be sexy. It should be seen as profitable and productive, not a backward thing, said Ibrahim. Yes, IT and technology are important, but agriculture is a way of the future for Africa.

Ibrahim’s foundation publishes an annual index and awards a leadership prize to encourage good governance in Africa.

Source: Voice of America

As Israelis Head to Polls, It’s All about Netanyahu

JERUSALEM Israel’s election campaign has been a three-month roller coaster of mudslinging, scandals and more scandals. But when voters head to the polls on Tuesday, one name will be predominantly on their minds: Benjamin Netanyahu.

At its core, the vote boils down to a referendum on Netanyahu, the man who has dominated Israeli politics for the better part of three decades. A victory will propel him into the record books later this year as the longest-serving Israeli prime minister, surpassing founding father David Ben-Gurion.

A loss would likely end his career just as he is enjoying the limelight at the vanguard of a rising global movement of tough-talking, nationalist world leaders led by his close friend, President Donald Trump.

“Israel’s standing internationally has never been as solid as it is right now. International leaders are lining up to visit Israel and meet with the prime minister,” said Yechiel Leiter, a former Netanyahu chief of staff who is now a senior fellow at the Kohelet Policy Forum, a conservative Jerusalem think tank. “Everyone knows Bibi wherever you go.”

Netanyahu’s impassioned supporters revere him as larger-than-life “King Bibi,” friend of powerful world leaders and guarantor of Israel’s security in a tough neighborhood. His opponents revile him as a corrupt hedonist who has divided the country by inciting against Arabs and whose policies toward the Palestinians are leading Israel off a cliff.

In the final days of the campaign, the race appears too close to call as Netanyahu faces a strong challenge from Benny Gantz, a popular former army chief. Polls show Netanyahu’s Likud party and Gantz’s new Blue and White party neck and neck. The surveys give Likud a slight advantage in being able to put together a governing coalition with smaller, likeminded parties.

The son of a Jewish historian and scarred by the loss of his brother in a 1976 Israeli commando raid on a hijacked airline at Uganda’s Entebbe airport, Netanyahu, 69, often portrays himself – and the country – in historical terms.

He laces his speeches with references to Jewish history, tales of Jewish heroism and warnings that Israel’s most sinister enemies lurk around every corner. The main target of his diatribes, Iran, is often compared to biblical enemies and even the Nazis.

Though he is an MIT-educated millionaire who speaks flawless American-accented English, Netanyahu has managed to portray himself as an outsider and underdog. He claims to be persecuted by journalists, judges and other hostile “elites” in a message that endears him to his religious, working class political base.

“He’s unprecedentedly gifted. He’s a competent political maneuverer and the most effective political communicator in Israel’s history,” said Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank. “And his personal motivation to continue to hold onto power is infinite.”

Netanyahu’s campaign has focused heavily on smearing opponents as weak “leftists,” routinely claiming they are conspiring with the country’s Arab parties against him. Opponents accuse him of incitement and demonizing Israel’s Arab minority, which makes up roughly 20 percent of the population.

“Netanyahu incites against us more than anyone, and each time he breaks his own record,” wrote Ayman Odeh, a prominent Arab lawmaker, on Twitter.

It’s a formula that has worked before – and this time, he has an added Trump card.

Since taking office, Trump has given Netanyahu gift after gift, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians.

All but endorsing Netanyahu, Trump hosted him at the White House late last month and recognized Israel’s annexation of the occupied Golan Heights.

Over the weekend, Netanyahu announced in a television interview that if re-elected, he would move to annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank, a step that would likely erase the last hopes of a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

Anshel Pfeffer, author of “Bibi: The Turbulent Life and Times of Benjamin Netanyahu,” said the Israeli leader has managed to leverage every major geopolitical event in recent years to his advantage. Israel’s economy is flourishing, it is expanding diplomatic ties around the world, and there has been no punishment for ignoring the ticking time bomb of the Palestinian issue.

While turning the Palestinians into a “sideshow,” Netanyahu has even managed to cultivate behind-the-scenes ties with Gulf Arab countries. “It’s not that Israelis are drifting to the right. It’s that Netanyahu has won the argument,” Pfeffer said.

Netanyahu’s campaign videos show him hobnobbing with Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin and leaders of China, India, Africa and Latin America. Massive political billboards show him standing alongside Trump.

Following up his White House visit, Netanyahu traveled last week to Moscow to meet with Putin, where the Russian leader acknowledged helping return the remains of an Israeli soldier who went missing in action in Lebanon 37 years ago. It was another election-related gift to Netanyahu, reinforcing his business-as-usual message that the country is secure and in good hands.

But this campaign is anything but usual. Gantz, with two other former military chiefs on his ticket, is a rare candidate who has the credentials to challenge Netanyahu on security, always a central issue to voters. He has derided Netanyahu’s failure to halt rocket fire from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Yet Gantz’s main focus has been on Netanyahu himself, taking aim at the raft of corruption allegations against the prime minister. Israel’s attorney general has recommended indicting Netanyahu on bribery and breach of trust charges. Rivals have also begun to question a deal in which Netanyahu reportedly earned $4 million on a German submarine sale to Egypt by owning shares in one of the German manufacturer’s suppliers.

“Enough already Bibi,” say Gantz’s campaign videos.

The election campaign has been especially nasty. Netanyahu has branded his opponent a weak “leftist” and tried to seize on the discovery that Gantz’s mobile phone was infiltrated by Iranian hackers. Likud attack ads paint Gantz as stuttering and mentally unstable.

Gantz, 59, accuses Netanyahu of leading the country to “low and bad places. Israeli researchers’ recent discovery of a network of social media bots that promoted Likud messages and smeared Gantz has deepened the animosity.

Netanyahu’s confident rhetorical style has served him well during a three-decade career that has included time at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, a stint as ambassador to the United Nations and an earlier term as prime minister in the 1990s. The scandals seem to have had no effect on his supporters.

But if the attorney general files formal charges after the election, the walls may finally close in on a newly re-elected Netanyahu.

Pfeffer, the Netanyahu biographer, predicted a “major showdown” with the legal branch and said Netanyahu will search for a way to dismiss the charges or pass a law granting him immunity.

“We’re facing a constitutional crisis in the next few months in Israel,” he said.

Source: Voice of America

Rwanda’s President Leads Ceremonies Marking Genocide Anniversary

KIGALI Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has led commemorations marking the 25 anniversary of the genocide that killed hundreds of thousands of people with a stern warning to those with plans to destabilize the country.

For those from here or from outside who think our country has not seen enough of a mess and want to mess with us, in defense of those children you saw and our nation, I want to say, we will mess up with them big time, Kagame told thousands of people gathered to remember those killed in 1994. We claim no special place, but we have a place to claim. The fighting spirit is alive in us. What happened here will never happen again.

In the lead up to 25th genocide commemoration, tensions have been mounting between Rwanda and Uganda.

Rwanda accused Uganda of supporting groups opposed to the government in Kigali. Uganda rejects those accusations.

A frequent guest to commemoration events, Uganda President Yoweli Museveni was absent this time. He was represented by his foreign affairs minister Sam Kuteesa.

We are the last people in the world who should succumb to complacency. The suffering we have endured should be enough to keep our fighting spirit alive, said Kagame.

The commemoration began with lighting of the flame and laying of wreaths at the Kigali Genocide memorial where close to 250,000 remains were buried. In all, about 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered by ethnic Hutu extremists.

Honore Gatera, coordinator of Kigali memorial center said the flame they were lighting was a symbol of courage and resilience that Rwanda has shown for the past quarter of a century.

Young Rwandans, aged 25 years and representing the new generation of Rwanda, handed over the flame that will burn for the next 100 days to Kagame. One of them said This is a light of remembrance, the light of life.

President Kagame thanked countries who have been with Rwanda through its journey of reconstruction.

On a day like this, when language fails, the first words that come, are words of gratitude. To you, the friends by our side on this heavy day, including the different leaders present, we say thank you, he said. In 1994, there was no hope, only darkness. Today, light radiates from this place.

President Paul Kagame also paid tribute to foreigners who helped survivors and later died too.

Joining us today are families from other countries, whose husbands, fathers, sisters, and aunts were claimed by the same deadly ideology, said Kagame. The only comfort we can offer is the commonality of sorrow, and the respect owed to those who had the courage to do the right thing.

A notable absentee at the commemoration was French President Emmanuel Macron, whose country stands accused of aiding the genocide. Macron proposed an annual day of commemoration for the Rwanda genocide on Sunday, according to AFP.

A Rwandan-born Member of Parliament Herve Berville who was orphaned in the 1993 violence led the French delegation.

Belgium, which colonized Rwanda. was represented by Prime Minister Charles Michel, who admitted part of responsibility of Belgium in the 1994 genocide.

Michel said genocide was a failure of the international community. He said he was moved by the courage, resilience and empathy of the Rwandan people.

In a tweet, British Prime Minister Theresa May wrote, Today I am reflecting on the thousands of lives lost in the Rwandan genocide 25 years ago. This was a tragedy and it remains as important as ever to make sure such atrocities are not repeated.

Sunday’s ceremonies marked the beginning of 100 days commemoration.

Source: Voice of America

Malawi Plans Arrest of Former President Over Cashgate Scandal

BLANTYRE Malawi’s government says former President Joyce Banda risks facing arrest over a corruption case known as Cashgate. Banda is also accused of misusing money for the presidential jet she sold during her administration.

Government authorities said Friday an arrest warrant for Banda issued in 2017 is still valid and it is a matter of time before authorities act on it. But Banda says she is not fazed by the threat she describes as a political witchhunt.

Joyce Banda became the country’s first female president in 2012 when then-president Bingu wa Mutharika died from cardiac arrest.

However, her term was marred by a corruption scandal known as Cashgate in which more than $32 million was siphoned out of government coffers.

More than 60 suspects, including business people and government officials were arrested in connection to the scandal.

Government spokesperson Henry Muss says court testimonies by those who have been convicted and are serving jail sentences clearly point to Joyce Banda as the initiator of Cashgate.

One Oswald Lutepo, now serving [11 years] sentence in jail, stated that the looted money was delivered to Joyce Banda,” he said. “Government believes that in the fullest of time, professionally determined by the law enforcement agencies, Joyce Banda will be called to account for her part in this Cashgate case.

In 2017 police issued an arrest warrant for Banda, who was then in self-imposed exile in the United States. But no arrest was made when Banda returned to Malawi last year.

Mussa also says Banda will be held accountable for money from the sale of the presidential jet in 2013, which her administration said was used to buy relief maize.

In fact, for records, the plane was sold; the word is undervalued for $15 million. Out of the $15 million what is showing is 10 percent of that about $1.5 million dollars have gone towards purchase of maize. But 90 percent simply vanished. we can not trace it, he said.

The threat of arrest comes weeks after Banda’s People’s Party (PP) made a political alliance with the main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) led by Lazarus Chakwera, one of the challengers of incumbent president Peter Mutharika in the coming May elections.

People’s Party spokesperson Ackson Kalaile told VOA the threat is a political ploy to intimidate Banda so that she cannot successfully campaign for the PP/MCP alliance in the May elections.

They are doing that just to intimidate our principal so that we should not campaign freely for the Malawi Congress Party and there is not any direct link [to Cashgate]. In 2018, 13th January, the director of Anti-Corruption Bureau said they had tried to find out here and there, but there is no direct link to her excellency Dr. Joyce Banda.

Political analyst Vincent Kondowe says Banda should be brought to justice if there is evidence of wrong doing, but he questions the involvement of government politicians in the matter.

Why did not the state institutions themselves be allowed to arrest Joyce Banda. Because the press conference is some kind of dramatization of the whole case against Joyce Banda,” he said. “So for me, they are trying to dramatize and create political hyperbole, which would unnecessarily bring in tensions, as we are drawing closer to the 21st May elections, so that she should not campaign as much as possible for Malawi Congress Party.

Speaking Saturday at a political rally in northern Malawi, Banda said she will not be intimidated by the government statement because she knows she is innocent.

Source: Voice of America

Activists: 5 Killed in Protests Against Sudan’s President

CAIRO Security forces killed at least five protesters in fresh anti-government marches on Saturday in Sudan, in what organizers said was among the largest turnouts in three months.

The demonstrations began in December over price hikes and food shortages, and quickly escalated into calls for President Omar al-Bashir’s resignation, posing one of the biggest challenges yet to his nearly 30-year rule.

Security forces have responded to the protest movement with a fierce crackdown, killing at least 60 people according to Physicians for Human Rights, a New York-based rights group. The latest deaths raised the tally to at least 65 since protests began.

The government has said that 32 people have been killed, but hasn’t updated its tally in weeks.

The rallies are being led by the Sudanese Professionals Association, an umbrella group of independent professional unions.

Sarah Abdel-Jaleel, a spokeswoman for the SPA, told The Associated Press that four people were killed in the capital city of Khartoum and another protester was killed in the neighboring city of Omdurman.

Stone-throwing protesters clashed with security forces using tear gas, live ammunition and batons to disperse tens of thousands of people gathered outside the military’s headquarters and a presidential residence in Khartoum, according to the organizers.

The Sudan Doctors Committee, an SPA affiliate, said that dozens had been wounded in rallies across the country, many of them by live ammunition.

The state-run SUNA news agency on Saturday quoted police spokesman General Hashim Abdel-Rahim as saying that one person was killed “during disturbances in Omdurman.” He called the protests “illegal gatherings.”

Al-Bashir has offered little in the way of concessions, beyond calling for a national dialogue and asking parliament to postpone constitutional amendments that would allow him to seek a new term in next year’s elections.

Source: Voice of America