Head of Libya’s parliament-approved gov’t calls for peaceful handover of power

TRIPOLI— Fathi Bashagha, prime minister-designate of Libya’s parliament-approved government, called on the Tripoli-based Prime Minister Abdul-Hamed Dbeibah to peacefully hand over power.

Bashagha called on Dbeibah to “resort to peace and avoid war.” In a letter addressed to Dbeibah on Wednesday, Bashagha said: “This is a sincere and patriotic call, and we look forward to your highly patriotic response to respect the interest of the country.”

Dbeibah rejected Bashagha’s call to hand over power and called on Bashagha to resort to elections “instead of a military coup.”

Libya is currently at a political impasse. The eastern-based House of Representatives, the parliament, withdrew confidence from Dbeibah’s Government of National Unity in Tripoli and voted in March to install a new government led by Bashagha.

Dbeibah rejected the March vote and said he would only transfer power to an elected government.

On Tuesday, the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) expressed concern about the military mobilization and increasing tension in Libya.

“The United Nations Support Mission in Libya is following with deep concern the ongoing mobilization of forces and threats to resort to force to resolve legitimacy claims in Libya,” UNSMIL said in a statement.

The statement urged the Libyan parties to resort to elections to resolve issues.

“The Mission calls for immediate de-escalation and reiterates that the use of force by any party is not acceptable and will not lead to an outcome that secures recognition by the international community,” UNSMIL said.

Libya has suffered political instability and chaos since Muammar Gaddafi’s fall in 2011. —

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

Guinea junta makes interim prime minister’s appointment permanent

CONAKRY— Guinea’s ruling military junta on Saturday appointed acting Prime Minister Bernard Gomou to fill the position on a permanent basis, replacing Mohamed Beavogui, who has been absent since last month.

The junta named Gomou to serve as acting prime minister on July 17. Officials said Beavogui, who was appointed by the junta a month after it seized power in a coup in September, was receiving medical treatment.

Gomou previously served as commerce and industry minister in the transitional government. His appointment as prime minister was announced in a statement read on national television.

The junta has faced deadly protests in recent weeks over its plans to stay in power for the next three years and is in negotiations with West African neighbours over a possible shortening of that timeline.

Source: Nam News Network

DR Congo investigates suspected Ebola case

KINSHASA— The Democratic Republic of Congo is investigating a suspected case of Ebola in its violence-wracked east, the World Health Organization said, just weeks after the end of a previous epidemic.

The DRC early last month declared its latest Ebola outbreak over, more than two months after the virus re-emerged in the northwestern Equateur province.

There were four confirmed cases and one probable case — all of whom died — in what WHO said was the country’s 14th outbreak since the disease was discovered there in 1976.

Now the authorities fear that a 46-year-old woman who died on Monday in the eastern province of North Kivu could have contracted it too.

She was treated in hospital in the town of Beni “initially for other ailments, but subsequently, exhibited symptoms consistent with Ebola virus disease”, WHO said in a statement.

Samples have been sent to a lab for testing.

“WHO is already on the ground supporting health officials to investigate the case and prepare for a possible outbreak,” WHO’s regional director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti said in a statement.

The government on Saturday urged caution and said a “stock of vaccines” was available in North Kivu.

Ebola is an often fatal viral haemorrhagic fever. The disease was named after a river in Zaire, as the country was known when it was discovered.

Human transmission is through body fluids, with the main symptoms being fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhoea.

The DRC’s deadliest epidemic killed 2,280 people in 2020.

WHO said Friday that two existing treatments dramatically reduce deaths from Ebola.

Over 120 militias roam the DRC’s mineral-rich but volatile east, where attacks on civilians are routine.

Source: Nam News Network

Kenya election result: William Ruto wins presidential poll

NAIROBI— Deputy President William Ruto has been declared the winner of Kenya’s presidential election amid dramatic scenes.

He narrowly beat his rival, Raila Odinga, taking 50.5% of the vote, according to the official results.

The announcement was delayed amid scuffles and allegations of vote-rigging by Odinga’s campaign.

Four of the seven members of the electoral commission refused to endorse the result, saying it was “opaque”.

“We cannot take ownership of the result that is going to be announced because of the opaque nature of this last phase of the general election,” said Juliana Cherera, the vice-chairperson of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

“We are going to give a comprehensive statement… and again we urge Kenyans to keep calm,” she added.

Odinga’s party agent earlier alleged that there were “irregularities” and “mismanagement” in the election.

This was the first time Ruto, 55, had run for president. He has served as deputy president for 10 years, but fell out with President Uhuru Kenyatta, who backed Odinga to succeed him.

The 77-year-old former prime minister, who got 48.8% of the vote, was running for president for the fifth time.

Electoral commission chairman Wafula Chebukati said he had done his duty despite receiving threats.

“We have walked the journey of ensuring that Kenyans get a free, fair and credible election. It has not been an easy journey – right now two of my commissioners and the CEO are injured,” he said.

In his speech, President-elect Ruto thanked the electoral commission for overseeing the election.

“It is a wonderful evening… all sovereign power belongs to the people of Kenya,” Ruto said, calling Chebukati a “hero” and dismissing the other commissioners’ dissent of his win as “a side show”.

Ruto said he wanted to be a president of all, and for the country to focus on the future.

“To those who have done many things against us, I want to tell them there’s nothing to fear. There will be no vengeance. We do not have the luxury to look back,” he added.

Celebrations have broken out in several parts of the country, including in Ruto’s strongholds of the Rift Valley, and that of his deputy Rigathi Gachagua, in the Central region.

Supporters of Odinga have staged protests in the western city of Kisumu and some parts of Nairobi.

But generally there’s a sense of relief that the result has finally been declared because the country had ground into a halt since election day on Aug 9, economic activities had stalled and schools remain closed.

Kenya’s history of disputed elections in the past have led to violence or the whole process election being cancelled.

Following the 2007 vote, at least 1,200 people were killed and 600,000 fled their homes following claims of a stolen election.

The leaders of Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Somalia have congratulated Ruto.

Analysts believe that Odinga is likely to challenge the result.

The Kenyan Supreme Court annulled the last election – it might have to make another big decision in a few weeks.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

WFP: First Ukrainian humanitarian grain shipment leaves for Horn of Africa

The first vessel transporting Ukrainian wheat grain to support humanitarian operations run by the World Food Programme (WFP) has left the port of Yuzhny, also known as Pivdennyi, the UN agency reported on Tuesday.

The MV Brave Commander departed with 23,000 metric tonnes of wheat grain for WFP’s response in the Horn of Africa, where the threat of famine is looming due to severe drought.

This is the first shipment of humanitarian food assistance under the Black Sea Grain Initiative signed by Ukraine, Russia, Türkiye and the UN in July.

Feeding the world’s hungry

It marks another important milestone in efforts to get much-needed Ukrainian grain out of the war-torn country and back into global markets, to reach people worst affected by the global food crisis.

“Getting the Black Sea Ports open is the single most important thing we can do right now to help the world’s hungry,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley.

“It will take more than grain ships out of Ukraine to stop world hunger, but with Ukrainian grain back on global markets we have a chance to stop this global food crisis from spiraling even further.”

WFP will use the wheat grain shipment to scale-up its efforts in southern and south-eastern Ethiopia, supporting more than 1.5 million people affected by drought.

Globally, a record 345 million people in more than 80 countries are currently facing acute food insecurity, while up to 50 million people in 45 countries are at risk of being pushed into famine without humanitarian support.

The current hunger crisis is being driven by several factors including conflict, climate impacts, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The war in Ukraine is another catalyst as the country is a major grain exporter. Ukraine was exporting up to six million tonnes of grain a month prior to the start of the conflict in February, but volumes now are at an average of one million tonnes per month.

More action needed

WFP said that with commercial and humanitarian maritime traffic now resuming in and out of Ukraine’s Black Sea Port, some global supply disruptions will ease, which will bring relief to countries facing the worst of the global food crisis.

Crucially, Ukraine will also be able to empty its grain storage silos ahead of the summer season harvest, the agency added.

However, despite these developments, the unprecedented food crisis continues.

WFP stressed the need for immediate action that brings together the humanitarian community, governments, and the private sector to save lives and invest in long term solutions, warning that “failure will see people around the world slip into devastating famines with destabilizing impacts felt by us all.”

Source: World Food Programme

PUTIN LASHES OUT AT US OVER UKRAINE, TAIWAN

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday accused Washington of seeking to prolong the conflict in Ukraine and of fuelling conflicts elsewhere in the world, including with the visit of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan.

“The situation in Ukraine shows that the U.S. is trying to prolong this conflict. And they act in exactly the same way, fuelling the potential for conflict in Asia, Africa and Latin America,” Putin said in televised remarks, addressing the opening ceremony of a security conference in Moscow via videolink.

“The American adventure in relation to Taiwan is not just a trip of an individual irresponsible politician, but part of a purposeful, conscious U.S. strategy to destabilize and make chaotic the situation in the region and the world,” he added.

He said the visit was a “brazen demonstration of disrespect for the sovereignty of other countries and for its (Washington’s) international obligations”.

“We see this as a carefully planned provocation,” Putin said.

Relations between Moscow and Washington have been in tatters since Russia in late February launched a military intervention in pro-Western Ukraine.

Pummeled by a barrage of unprecedented Western sanctions, Putin has sought to bolster ties with countries in Africa and Asia, especially with China.

Moscow was in full solidarity with key ally Beijing during Pelosi’s August visit to self-ruled, democratic Taiwan, which China considers its territory.

Source: National News Agency

Two police officers killed in Sierra Leone as economic protests turned violent

FREETOWN— – Two police officers were killed in Sierra Leone after a protest against “economic hardship” descended into clashes between security forces and youth demanding the president resign, the police said.

“Two police officers, a male and female, were mobbed to death by protesters at the east end of Freetown this Wednesday morning,” police spokesman Brima Kamara said.

Vice President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh announced a nationwide curfew and said “innocent Sierra Leoneans including some security personnel” had been killed.

Dozens of protestors had been arrested, police said.

A health worker at a hospital in Freetown said dozens of people had been injured.

In the Kissy neighbourhood in the east of the capital, demonstrators threw rocks and sticks at security forces, who fired tear gas towards the demonstrators.

Several protesters said the security forces had also fired live bullets.

Demonstrators were heard chanting “Bio must go”, referring to President Julius Maada Bio, who is currently in the United Kingdom on a private visit.

The internet was temporarily blocked in Freetown on Wednesday afternoon, according to NetBlocks, a web monitoring group.

Demonstrations were also held in the city of Makeni and the town of Magburuka in the country’s Northern Province.

The Grassroots Women of Sierra Leone, a group of market traders, had called a “peaceful assembly” to “draw attention to the economic hardship and many issues that affect the women of Sierra Leone”, according a letter to the inspector general of the police.

Source: Nam News Network

Greece: Dozens Still Missing After Migrant Boat Sinks

Greek authorities say a search and rescue operation is ongoing for a second day for dozens of migrants missing after the boat they were on sank in rough seas off a southeastern Greek island.

A Greek navy vessel and three nearby merchant ships were still searching Thursday for between around 30 to 50 people believed missing after the boat that had been carrying them from the Turkish coast of Antalya to Italy capsized in the early hours of Wednesday.

No further survivors had been located since 29 men from Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq were rescued shortly after the boat sank about 33 nautical miles (38 miles; 61 kilometers) southeast of the island of Karpathos, the Greek coast guard said. The survivors had told authorities there had been a total of between 60 and 80 people on board the boat.

Greek authorities said the capsizing occurred in international waters, but within Greece’s search and rescue responsibility area.

Two of the survivors were plucked from the sea by an air force helicopter and flown to Karpathos, while the remaining 27 were picked up by a merchant vessel and transported to the island of Kos, where they arrived Wednesday afternoon.

Video released by the coast guard showed the men being transferred from the merchant ship to a coast guard boat which then transported them to Kos. There, dressed in white coveralls and wearing masks, they disembarked, many of them limping but all walking unassisted, and headed to a waiting bus.

It wasn’t immediately clear why the boat sank, but weather conditions in the area were rough, with strong winds and choppy seas, authorities said.

The most common sea route for asylum-seekers from the Middle East, Asia and Africa has been from Turkey to the nearby Greek islands in the Aegean Sea.

But with Greek authorities increasing patrols in the area and facing persistent reports of summarily deporting new arrivals to Turkey without allowing them to apply for asylum, many are now attempting the much longer, and more dangerous, route directly to Italy. Greek authorities deny they carry out illegal summary deportations of asylum-seekers.

Source: Voice of America

US Sec of State Blinken in Rwanda on final leg of Africa trip

KIGALI— US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is due to hold talks with Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Thursday, facing calls from campaigners to pressure Kigali over its human rights record and alleged support of rebels in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.

Blinken arrived late Wednesday in Rwanda, the final stop of a three-nation trip to Africa, hot on the heels of a visit to the continent by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The US diplomat has sought to woo African nations, which have largely steered clear of backing Washington against Moscow in the Ukraine war, by calling for an “equal” partnership with the continent.

His visit comes after an unpublished independent investigation for the UN, said Rwandan troops had attacked soldiers inside the DRC and aided M23 rebels, a primarily Tutsi rebel group.

The M23 has captured swathes of territory in eastern DRC in recent months, causing tensions to spike between Kigali and Kinshasa, which has repeatedly accused Kagame’s government of backing the notorious militia.

In the DRC on Tuesday, Blinken said the United States was “very concerned by credible reports that Rwanda has supported the M23,” adding that he would discuss the issue with Kagame, whose government has consistently denied the claims.

In a statement released Monday, Human Rights Watch called on Blinken to “urgently signal that there will be consequences for the government’s repression and abuse in Rwanda and beyond its borders.”

“Failing to address Rwanda’s abysmal human rights record has emboldened its officials to continue to commit abuse, even beyond its borders,” said Lewis Mudge, HRW’s Central Africa director.

The rights watchdog urged Blinken “to highlight systematic human rights violations, including crackdowns on opponents and civil society, both within and across Rwanda’s borders.”

Opposition leader Victoire Ingabire echoed HRW’s calls, saying that Blinken “should raise the issue of journalists and politicians who are in prison” for challenging Kagame’s government.

“Blinken has to ask our government to open up political space to everyone who wants to be active in politics,” said Ingabire, who spent six years in jail on terrorism charges.

Blinken is also facing calls to press for the release of Paul Rusesabagina, the “Hotel Rwanda” hero who is credited with saving hundreds of lives during the 1994 genocide.

A US permanent resident, Rusesabagina is a fierce critic of Kagame and was sentenced to a 25-year prison term last year on terrorism charges after a plane he believed was bound for Burundi landed in Kigali in August 2020.

Source: Nam News Network