Tunisia calls for immediate halt to Turkish military operations in northeast Syria
Somalia: Mogadishu Mayor Seeks Help from UN in Rebuilding City
Congratulations to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali
Zimbabwe Joint HIV Programs Review - Partnership in Action
Cameroon-France - Bilateral Cooperation Reinforced
Ethiopia PM Abiy wins Nobel Peace Prize for mending ties with Eritrea
FAO reiterates reinforcement of agribusiness promotion strategy
Germany Keen to Support Ethiopia’s Natural Resource Dev’t amidst Growing Climate Concerns
The New Times – Rwanda
Today is the International Day of the Girl Child and there are many reasons why the day should not go unnoticed.
Adolescence, especially for girls, is a dangerous stage of life in many countries. It is common to find girls as young as 12 being married off because parents regard them as unnecessary burdens or commodities to be exchanged.
A girl-child needs all the protection that society can give her as they are very vulnerable, psychologically easily confused. In some societies they are rebellious and prone to make rash decisions.
A few weeks ago, Kenyan media reported about a 14-year-old girl who committed suicide after being period-shamed at school by her teacher. The incident caused uproar even well beyond the country’s borders, especially by gender activists.
But that is just a drop in the ocean of what young girls go through, and not only in countries where women are discriminated against. Those are practices mainly based on culture and can be tolerated to some extent. But when a young girl is deprived of education – like in the case where today 130 million girls are out of school – or young girls are trafficked as sex slaves, it should be treated as an epidemic.
The world cannot afford to sit back as if it is none of its business; it has the responsibility to protect. In Rwanda we are fortunate that gender protection is a serious matter; there are no two ways about it. But there should be no complacency; keeping a clean gender protection record needs constant valiance and swift interventions where something falls short.
Those are the only guarantees that will make our young girls feel safe.
The Nobel Foundation (Oslo)
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019 to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea. The prize is also meant to recognise all the stakeholders working for peace and reconciliation in Ethiopia and in the East and Northeast African regions.
When Abiy Ahmed became Prime Minister in April 2018, he made it clear that he wished to resume peace talks with Eritrea. In close cooperation with Isaias Afwerki, the President of Eritrea, Abiy Ahmed quickly worked out the principles of a peace agreement to end the long “no peace, no war” stalemate between the two countries. These principles are set out in the declarations that Prime Minister Abiy and President Afwerki signed in Asmara and Jeddah last July and September. An important premise for the breakthrough was Abiy Ahmed’s unconditional willingness to accept the arbitration ruling of an international boundary commission in 2002.
Peace does not arise from the actions of one party alone. When Prime Minister Abiy reached out his hand, President Afwerki grasped it, and helped to formalise the peace process between the two countries. The Norwegian Nobel Committee hopes the peace agreement will help to bring about positive change for the entire populations of Ethiopia and Eritrea.
In Ethiopia, even if much work remains, Abiy Ahmed has initiated important reforms that give many citizens hope for a better life and a brighter future. He spent his first 100 days as Prime Minister lifting the country’s state of emergency, granting amnesty to thousands of political prisoners, discontinuing media censorship, legalising outlawed opposition groups, dismissing military and civilian leaders who were suspected of corruption, and significantly increasing the influence of women in Ethiopian political and community life. He has also pledged to strengthen democracy by holding free and fair elections.
In the wake of the peace process with Eritrea, Prime Minister Abiy has engaged in other peace and reconciliation processes in East and Northeast Africa. In September 2018 he and his government contributed actively to the normalisation of diplomatic relations between Eritrea and Djibouti after many years of political hostility. Additionally, Abiy Ahmed has sought to mediate between Kenya and Somalia in their protracted conflict over rights to a disputed marine area. There is now hope for a resolution to this conflict. In Sudan, the military regime and the opposition have returned to the negotiating table. On the 17th of August, they released a joint draft of a new constitution intended to secure a peaceful transition to civil rule in the country. Prime Minister Abiy played a key role in the process that led to the agreement.
Ethiopia is a country of many different languages and peoples. Lately, old ethnic rivalries have flared up. According to international observers, up to three million Ethiopians may be internally displaced. That is in addition to the million or so refugees and asylum seekers from neighbouring countries. As Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed has sought to promote reconciliation, solidarity and social justice. However, many challenges remain unresolved. Ethnic strife continues to escalate, and we have seen troubling examples of this in recent weeks and months. No doubt some people will think this year’s prize is being awarded too early. The Norwegian Nobel Committee believes it is now that Abiy Ahmed’s efforts deserve recognition and need encouragement.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee hopes that the Nobel Peace Prize will strengthen Prime Minister Abiy in his important work for peace and reconciliation. Ethiopia is Africa’s second most populous country and has East Africa’s largest economy. A peaceful, stable and successful Ethiopia will have many positive side-effects, and will help to strengthen fraternity among nations and peoples in the region. With the provisions of Alfred Nobel’s will firmly in mind, the Norwegian Nobel Committee sees Abiy Ahmed as the person who in the preceding year has done the most to deserve the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019.
The Conversation (Johannesburg)
By Mohammed Girma
Abiy Ahmed, the Ethiopian Prime Minister, has won the Nobel Peace Prize. He becomes the 100th Nobel Peace Prize winner, and the first Ethiopian to receive the accolade.
Abiy is the 12th winner from Africa to be awarded the prize. Last year it was won by medical doctor Denis Mukwege from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Other African winners have included Albert Luthuli, Anwar al-Sadat, Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk, Kofi Annan, Wangari Maathai, Mohamed ElBaradei, Leymah Gbowee and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Tunisia's National Dialogue Quartet won it in 2015.
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes established in 1895 under the instructions of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel in his will. The Peace Prize is awarded to the person who, in the preceding year, has:
done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.
The formal announcement by the Nobel Prize said that Abiy was awarded the prize for:
his important work to promote reconciliation, solidarity and social justice. The prize is also meant to recognise all the stakeholders working for peace and reconciliation in Ethiopia and in the East and Northeast African regions... efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.
But who is Abiy Ahmed? Does he deserve an international accolade? And what of the challenges still facing the country he leads?
Berit Reiss-Andersen, the Chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, commented in her announcement speech that:
... many challenges remain unresolved. Ethnic strife continues to escalate, and we have seen troubling examples of this in recent weeks and months.
Unexpected rise to power
Barely two years ago Abiy Ahmed was largely an unknown figure. In early 2017 a couple of YouTube clips started to circulate on social media that showed him gathered with veteran leaders at a party meeting. He came onto the scene with a simple, but powerful, message of togetherness.
At the time he was a political leader at regional and cabinet levels. But he didn't sound like one. He comes across as remarkably authentic and his approach was distinct. At a time of elevated fear that the nation might head into disintegration, his message soared above the popular anxiety of possible conflict.
Unlike Ethiopian politicians of the past four decades his rhetoric mimicked neither Albanian Marxism nor Maoism. He has anchored his story on local cultural and religious sensibilities.
Abiy's extraordinary rise to power, as well as his ability to steer a more peaceful political course in Ethiopia, is remarkable given the tensions and complexities of the country's politics.
He has distanced himself, at least in his political outlook, from his party's maligned old guard. He has had to steer a delicate course to keep various factions of the political coalition that has ruled Ethiopia for almost three decades - the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) - on board. The ruling elites from this party have never tolerated dissent. There have been numerous accusations levelled against them of human rights abuses and the imprisonment of journalists who criticised the regime.
Instead of dismantling the existing system, Abiy opted for internal transformation.
It has taken tremendous courage to break away from a powerful political machine while remaining within the system. But he has stuck to his beliefs, even promoting the notion of "Medemer" - synergy and togetherness - while remaining within the party.
Abiy is a member of the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front, which is part of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, and the group that has tight control over country's political and economic apparatuses. But it is ailing and losing its legitimacy to rule.
Abiy inherited a nation that was in political disarray. Hundreds of people had died in three years of anti-government protests.
But shortly after taking office from Hailemariam Desalegn in April 2018, Abiy began to move ahead rapidly with political reforms. He released political prisoners, unfairly incarcerated journalists and activists. He opened the door for political dissidents.
His message was that the country needed to win through bold ideas, not through the barrel of a gun.
He also showed his intention to build institutions. One example was the appointment of the well-known political dissident Birtukan Mideksa as the head the electoral board.
He has also championed the role of women, including in politics. He appointed women in the positions of president, chief justice and press secretary. He also brought their share in his cabinet to 50%.
But arguably his biggest achievements have been in international diplomacy. Ethiopia and neighbouring Eritrea share a common culture, language and ways of life. But a decades-long conflict between the two nations has brought immense misery to people who live on the border, and to families split by the fighting.
Abiy brought the conflict with Eritrea to an end. A treaty ended the state of war between Eritrea and Ethiopia and declared a new era of peace, friendship and comprehensive cooperation. A lot remains to be done, though.
He also played a crucial role in regional politics. He was key to bringing leaders of Sudan and South Sudan to the negotiating table and helped mediate between Kenya and Somalia in a maritime territory dispute.
His popularity in the region and further abroad is evident when he's travelling. He's often greeted more like a rock star than a head of state. But maintaining the same image at home has been more complicated.
The Nobel Prize is an acknowledgement of Abiy's achievements over the past two years. But it doesn't guarantee his future success.
A case in point is Myanmar's Aung San Suu kyi. After surviving house arrest, and attacks on her life by the ruling junta, she won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1991. But her fortunes turned after her party won a national election. It now stands accused of carrying out what the United Nations high commissioner for human rights has called "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing" against the Rohingya Muslims.
There are a great many troubling issues still unresolved in Ethiopia and tense times ahead with an election due next year. Abiy also has many enemies. These include agitators who try to use ethnic fault-lines for their own political ends, powerful ethno-nationalist activists who thrive on division and political entrepreneurs who only see politics as a means of personal enrichment. All are relentlessly working to exploit a fragile situation. Securing the safety of the citizens is the bare minimum he needs to do.
In my view he needs to accept the Nobel Peace Prize as acknowledgement of what he's achieved, as well as a mandate to champion equality, justice and lasting unity in Ethiopia.
The Herald – Zimbabwe
Four countries in Southern Africa will hold national elections in October and November — Mozambique, Botswana, Mauritius and Namibia.
Mozambique will hold general elections on October 15, followed by Botswana with parliamentary and local government elections on October 23, while Mauritius and Namibia will go to the polls on November 7 and 27 November, respectively.
The elections will be observed by a number of local, regional and international organisations, including the SADC Electoral Observation Missions (SEOMs), which are expected to issue statements on the conduct of each of the polls.
These elections come a few months after successful polls were held in the Union of Comoros, Madagascar, Malawi and South Africa, as well as the smooth transfer of power in the Democratic Republic of Congo during the year.
President Nyusi seeks re-election
Mozambique will elect a president, parliamentarians and provincial governors, in the fifth multi-party national elections and the first time there will be the direct election of governors.
A total of four candidates will contest for the presidency.
These include the incumbent, Filipe Nyusi of the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo), who has been president since 2014 and is seeking re-election for a second and last term as stipulated by the Mozambican Constitution.
Frelimo, as the national liberation movement, has won all elections since Mozambique gained independence in 1975 and has a strong support base throughout the country.
Nyusi’s main campaign message has been peace and stability.
One of his achievements has been the signing of a peace deal with the main opposition, Mozambique National Resistance (Renamo) in August, which signalled an end to a long-running internal conflict that has affected socio-economic development.
However, the Renamo presidential candidate, Ossufo Momade, has argued that the peace deal has not been fully honoured since his supporters allegedly continue to be subjected to violence.
Momade took over the Renamo leadership in May 2018 following the death of Afonso Dhlakama, and the October 15 elections will be his first.
The other two presidential candidates are Daviz Simango of the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), and Mario Albino of the Action Party of the United Movement for Integral Salvation (Amusi).
The president is directly elected for a five-year term and the winning candidate is required to win 50 percent plus one of the valid votes cast.
If no candidate wins more than half of the votes cast in the first round, then a second round of voting will be conducted and contested by the top two candidates. The candidate who receives the majority votes in the second round will be elected president.
In the last election held in 2014, Nyusi gained 57 percent of the ballots cast compared to 36.6 percent by the late Dhlakama.
A total of 26 political parties have registered to take part in the elections and, for the first time, parties will appoint the governors for the provinces in which they get the most votes.
The House of Assembly in Mozambique is made of 250 members who are elected through a system of party-list proportional representation based on the country’s provinces.
According to the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE) of Mozambique, more than 16 million people have registered to vote on October 15. The country has a population of about 29 million.
The SADC Electoral Observation Mission for Mozambique is headed by Zimbabwe as the current chair of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, represented by Hon. Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, the Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs.
Botswana polls: A test for the ruling party
Election fever has gripped Botswana in polls whose outcome many say is likely to prove whether an individual is more influential than the party or that the party is supreme to any individual.
This follows the resignation of former president Ian Khama from the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to back a newly established opposition party, the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF), led by former minister Biggie Butale.
Khama, who was president from 2008 to 2018, broke away from the BDP following a fall-out with his successor and incumbent President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who did not want to continue “taking orders” from Khama.
Khama’s father — Sir Seretse Khama — was the founding president of Botswana and the BDP. The party has won all elections since independence in 1966.
According to a list cleared by the High Court of Botswana, Masisi and Butale will contest against two other candidates for the presidency — Duma Boko of the main opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), and Ndaba Gaolathe of the Alliance for Progressives.
However, there are reports that the opposition parties have formed a coalition under the UDC led by Boko to challenge the BDP.
Botswana uses a single constituency electoral system of first-past-the-post for the election of Members of Parliament (MPs). Elected MPs then act as an electoral college to choose the President.
The Botswana Parliament has 63 seats, of which 57 are filled through direct votes. There are four seats reserved for the majority party in Parliament, while the president and Attorney-General are ex-officio members.
In the last elections held in 2014, the BDP won 37 of the 57 elected seats, while the UDC won 17 and the Botswana Congress Party had three.
According to the Independent Electoral Commission of Botswana, a total of 791,568 Batswana had registered to vote by March 31. The final number will be released before the elections.
Mauritius prepares for parliamentary elections
Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth has set November 7 as Election Day when Mauritians will elect new MPs to serve in the 70-member unicameral Assembly for the next five years.
A total of 62 MPs are elected directly by popular vote in a system of block voting where each voter casts three ballots for three candidates from each of the 21 constituencies, including the offshore island of Rodrigues. The remaining eight MPs are selected from a list of “best losers”.
Jugnauth, who is also the Finance Minister, came to power in 2017 after the resignation of his father, Pravind Jugnauth, who was the then leader of the Alliance Lepep coalition.
Continuing the Mauritian tradition of forming coalitions, political parties are already in talks to form alliances ahead of the polls. Since 1991 no political party has obtained a second term after an election nor won a majority to form a government.
According to media reports, two of the main parties are expected to announce an alliance to challenge the Alliance Lepep coalition. These are the Labour Party led by former prime minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam and the Xavier-Luc-Duval-led Mauritian Social Democratic Party.
Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean with a population of about 1,3 million, gained independence from Britain in 1968.
Namibia to once again use electronic voting
Namibia will be the last SADC member states to hold elections in 2019 when voters go to the polls on November 27. The country will once again use electronic voting after it became the first country in Africa to use electronic voting in 2014.
The South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) has nominated incumbent President Hage Geingob as its presidential candidate. Other parties are yet to submit names to the Electoral Commission of Namibia. According to the Namibian Constitution, such submission must be made by October 18.
Namibia uses a majority system for presidential elections, in which the candidate with more than 50 percent of the votes is declared the winner, and Proportional Representation (PR) is used for legislative elections.
Under the PR system, each political party submits a list of candidates and then the parties receive seats proportional to their overall share of the national vote.
In the last election held in 2014, SWAPO won 80 percent of the vote for Parliament, while President Geingob won 87 percent of the vote. SWAPO has won all elections since independence from South African apartheid occupation in March 1990.
Geingob is seeking his second and last term in office as per the Namibian Constitution.
The Namibian Electoral Commission said in September that more than 1,2 million voters had by then registered to cast their votes on November 27.
The Herald – Zimbabwe
By: Roselyne Sachiti Features, Health and Society Editor
Today, Zimbabwe joins the world in celebrating the International Day of the Girl Child.
Celebrated every October 11, since 2012, the day aims to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.
This year’s global theme is; “GirlForce: Unscripted and Unstoppable”.
Under this year’s theme, girls will celebrate achievements by, with and for girls since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) in nearly 25 years, more girls move from dreaming to achieving. More girls today are attending and completing school, fewer are getting married or becoming mothers while still children, and more are gaining the skills they need to excel in the future world of work.
Unicef also says girls are breaking boundaries and barriers posed by stereotypes and exclusion, including those directed at children with disabilities and those living in marginalised communities.
As entrepreneurs, innovators and initiators of global movements, girls are creating a world that is relevant for them and future generations.
However, despite the achievements, the day also comes at a time some marginalised girls and young women face challenges that include access to sanitary pads as a result of high prices.
Some girls and young women also face challenges in accessing sexual and reproductive and health and rights.
In some societies, girls still carry the burden of early and forced marriages, meaning they drop out of school and may never have a chance to return if no reintegration opportunities are put before them.
According to Zimbabwe’s Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) 2014, among women aged 15-49 years, about one in 20 (five percent) were married before age 15 and among women aged 20-49 years, about three (32,8 percent) were married before age 18.
Other girls are forced by their families to drop out of school to become tokens of appeasing avenging spirits, entering into early marriages and falling pregnant as young as 15.
Other causes of adolescent pregnancies include sexual exploitation and abuse, rape, lack of information about sexuality and reproduction, and lack of access to family planning services and modern contraception.
Despite the work by Government and its development partners, the list of challenges is long and the media, and society can also contribute to put an end to them.
This year’s International Day of the Girl Child also comes at a time Plan International released a State of the World Report called #RewriteHerStory challenging stereotypes, beliefs and attitudes reinforced by media and entertainment so that girls get equal and rewrite their stories.
The report by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media at Mount Saint Mary’s University and Plan International, is the second phase of a two-part research project commissioned as an in-depth and ambitious look at female leadership.
In several ways, the research makes sad reading as it spells out clearly that girls and women, as citizens and certainly as leaders, are still not seen as equal to boys and men.
The key research component, and the backbone of this report, is an analysis by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media of the 56 top-grossing films from across 20 countries, Zimbabwe included.
Key findings show that girls and young women are influenced by what they see on screen.
The research found out how the underlying messages of the films analysed have changed little for decades: male characters dominate the storylines; women leaders, where they do exist, may be portrayed as intelligent, likeable and effective, but they are also sexualised and objectified; female leadership is rare and at national level women leaders are not up to the job.
The overall make-up of the characters in the 2018 top-grossing films analysed reflect the films’ producers rather than their audience: they are white, male and middle-class.
Three overarching objectives emerged from the research.
To be it, they must see it.
The first call to action is to make stories about female leadership visible and normal. The report points out that stories need to encourage young women’s aspirations and ambitions, not undermine them.
Stop the sexualisation and objectification of women and girls on screen and ensure that content doesn’t discriminate or reinforce negative stereotypes and behaviour
The research suggests funding female filmmakers, programme makers and content producers and investment of more time and money in women and girls as storytellers while addressing harassment and discrimination in the workplace to encourage girls and women into key positions in the media industry.
Governments are also urged to partner with media bodies and civil society to run public campaigns that promote and increase the number of women leaders and the visibility of women’s leadership in the media industries, sending the clear message that women and girls belong in all spaces and places of power.
Furthermore, the research calls for the need to reaffirm and accelerate action on existing commitments pertaining to girls and women, the media and equal representation as outlined in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 1995.
“There is much more work to be done: ending the use of degrading and inferior portrayals of women and girls; promoting gender equality and women’s leadership, and increasing the participation of women in decision-making spaces within media industries,” the research further points out.
It also calls for the introduction, monitoring and enforcement of legislation around anti-gender discrimination, harassment and diversity in the workplace, to address why it is often a hostile environment for women.
In the report, governments are also called upon to encourage content creators to depict the workplace as a positive place for women and female leadership. One such way, the report suggests, is to make funding to public and private media bodies dependent on the uptake of diversity standards, as with the British Film Institute in the UK, and encourage more funding be earmarked for the creation of content that celebrates diversity, promotes gender equality and encourages younger voices in storytelling.
Most important, according to the report, is for governments to understand the role of education in preparing girls and young women to have future careers as leaders and storytellers in media industries.
This can be done by ensuring subjects such as the creative arts and media literacy are part of national curricula in schools and in non-formal settings.
If anything, investments in educational materials that do not promote gender stereotypes, but show girls and women in positions of authority can bring positive change.
Governments can also work with media bodies to drive increased and diverse representation within production teams including apprenticeship and mentoring schemes, as the report further explains.
Media bodies are encouraged to set diversity and inclusion targets and key actions that drive increased and diverse representation both on screen and behind it, including apprenticeship and mentoring schemes for younger women.
They should, according to the report, endorse and support champions within the media industry, especially those who are seen as role models by girls, young women and other marginalised groups, to influence wider recognition of representation issues in the industry and public arena.
It is also important for media organisations to take up self-regulatory measures such as gender audits and codes of conduct on all productions in order to: address discrimination and harassment in the workplace; the lack of diversity in crew, cast and script; the negative portrayals of women leaders and the sexual objectification of women and girls, within scripts and other media content.
The media should also create awards and other incentives to share best practice in fostering women’s leadership in the media industries and celebrate women storytellers from a diversity of backgrounds.
The report further suggests that the media should regularly consult with girls and young women as consumers in order to produce the different stories they are asking to see on platforms that are accessible and favoured by them.
“Ensure that films and other entertainment content produced and directed by women have production and marketing budgets equal to those of male filmmakers and creators.”
The International Day of the Girl Child also comes just one month before Zimbabwe participates at the 25th International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD25). At the 1994 Cairo meeting, Zimbabwe was one of the 179 governments that adopted a revolutionary Programme of Action (POA) and called for women’s reproductive health and rights to take centre stage in national and global development efforts.
The Cairo meeting also brought out the link between reproductive health and women’s empowerment and how the two are necessary for the advancement of society.