Laurent Gbagbo Launches New Political Party in Ivory Coast

Former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo launched a new political party Saturday, formally breaking ties with those who ran his previous party while he spent years facing war crimes charges at the International Criminal Court.


Gbagbo, 76, who returned home in June after his acquittal was upheld, announced a few months later that he would be setting up a new party in order to avoid legal battles with his former ally, Pascal Affi N’Guessan.


Gbagbo was extradited to The Hague in 2011 and his Ivorian Popular Front party splintered three years later — with one faction led by N’Guessan, while former first lady Simone Gbagbo played a prominent role in the other.


Organizers say the proposed name of Gbagbo’s new party is the African People’s Party — Ivory Coast, shortened to its French acronym, PPA-CI.


On Saturday, Gbagbo greeted a crowd of more than 1,600 delegates in Abidjan, many holding small flags bearing his image. The ex-president is expected to address his supporters on Sunday, organizers said.


The creation of Gbagbo’s new political party comes amid lingering questions about his future political aspirations. He served as president from 2000 until his arrest in 2011 after he refused to concede defeat to Alassane Ouattara. The post-election conflict left more than 3,000 people dead and brought the country back to the brink of civil war.


Ouattara ultimately prevailed and has been the president of Ivory Coast ever since.


Ouattara won a controversial third term late last year after the opposition claimed many of its candidates were disqualified, including Gbagbo.


On Saturday, the executive director of the ruling party, Adama Bictogo, was among those in attendance at the party congress.


“For us, coming to witness the birth of a new party led by President Laurent Gbagbo reinforces the existing democratic vitality and it will help with the advancement of democracy,” he said.


Notably absent, though, was the former first lady, Simone Gbagbo, who had traveled to Congo. Charles Ble Goude, Gbagbo’s former youth leader who also was acquitted at the ICC, also did not attend.


Laurent Gbagbo spent eight years awaiting trial on war crimes charges. A judge acquitted him in 2019, saying prosecutors failed to prove their case. The verdict was appealed but upheld in late March, clearing the way for Gbagbo to leave Belgium, where he had spent the past two years.


While some had feared his return could set off new unrest, Gbagbo was received by Ouattara himself and has mostly maintained a low profile. Some of Gbagbo’s opponents, though, maintain he should have been jailed in Ivory Coast upon his return and not given a statesman’s welcome.


Source: Voice of America

Eswatini Shuts Schools Amid New Wave of Protests

Eswatini, Africa’s last absolute monarchy, said Saturday it had shut its schools “indefinitely with immediate effect” as the country faces a wave of pro-democracy protests.


Students of the tiny, landlocked nation formerly known as Swaziland have been protesting for a number of weeks, boycotting lessons and calling for free schooling, as well as an end to the regime under King Mswati III.


“His Majesty’s government has taken the decision to close schools indefinitely with immediate effect,” Prime Minister Cleopas Dlamini said in a statement.


According to pro-democracy activists, the army and police have been deployed in schools this week, and several students have been arrested.


Civil society and opposition groups demonstrated in the largest cities, Manzini and Mbabane, in June, looting shops and ransacking business properties.


At least 28 people died as police clashed with protesters in some of the worst unrest in the southern African country’s history. The latest fatality came Wednesday.


On Friday, Eswatini shut down the internet for two hours as pro-democracy marchers headed to the capital.


The shutdown came as images of the protests circulated on social and traditional media, including pictures of two people who said they had been injured by gunshots fired by security forces.


The internet shutdown blocked social media and left many services running very slowly afterward.


On Saturday, the situation was calm, according to an AFP journalist.


King Mswati III has ruled Eswatini since 1986 and owns shares in the country’s telecoms.


He is criticized for living a lavish lifestyle in one of the world’s poorest countries and is accused of stifling political parties.


The king has accused demonstrators of depriving children of their education by taking part in the protests.


Source: Voice of America

Macron Condemns 1961 ‘Inexcusable’ Paris Massacre of Algerians

French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday condemned as “inexcusable” a deadly crackdown by Paris police on a 1961 protest by Algerians whose scale was covered up for decades, disappointing activists who hoped for an even stronger recognition of responsibility.


Macron told relatives of victims on the 60th anniversary of the bloodshed that crimes were committed on the night of Oct. 17, 1961, under the command of the notorious Paris police chief Maurice Papon.


He acknowledged that several dozen protesters had been killed, “their bodies thrown into the River Seine,” and he paid tribute to their memory.


The precise number of victims has never been made clear, and some activists fear several hundred could have been killed.


Macron “recognized the facts: that the crimes committed that night under Maurice Papon are inexcusable for the Republic,” the Elysee said.


“This tragedy was long hushed-up, denied or concealed,” it added in a statement.


Algerian President Abdelmadjidn Tebboune said there was “strong concern for treating issues of history and memory without complacency or compromising principles, and with a sharp sense of responsibility,” free from “the dominance of arrogant colonialist thought,” his office said in a statement.


The deadly 1961 crackdown revealed the horror of “massacres and crimes against humanity that will remain engraved in the collective memory,” the statement, released by his office, continued.


“There were bodies on all sides, I was very afraid,” recalled Bachir Ben-Aissa Saadi, who took part in the rally and was 14 years old at the time.


The rally was called in the final year of France’s increasingly violent attempt to retain Algeria as a north African colony, and in the middle of a bombing campaign targeting mainland France by pro-independence militants.


In the 1980s, Papon was revealed to have been a collaborator with the occupying Nazis in World War II and complicit in the deportation of Jews. He was convicted of crimes against humanity but later released.


Macron, the first French president to attend a memorial ceremony for those killed, observed a minute of silence in their memory at the Bezons bridge over the Seine on the outskirts of Paris where the protest started.


His comments that crimes were committed went further than predecessor Francois Hollande, who acknowledged in 2012 that the protesting Algerians had been “killed during a bloody repression.”


The president, France’s first leader born after the colonial era, has made a priority of historical reconciliation and forging a modern relationship with former colonies.


But Macron, who is expected to seek reelection next year, is wary about provoking a backlash from political opponents.


His far-right electoral opponents, nationalists Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour, are outspoken critics of efforts to acknowledge or show repentance for past crimes.


Historian Emmanuel Blanchard told AFP that Macron’s comments represented progress and had gone much further than those made by Hollande in 2012.


But he took issue with the decision to pin responsibility on Papon alone, saying that then Prime Minister Michel Debre and President Charles de Gaulle had not been held to account over the ensuing cover-up or the fact Papon would remain Paris police chief until 1967.


The statement by Macron “is progress but not complete. We hoped for more,” Mimouna Hadjam of the Africa93 anti-racism association told AFP.


“Papon did not act alone. People were tortured, massacred in the heart of Paris and those high up knew,” Hadjam added.


Domonique Sopo, the head of SOS Racism, said while the comments were welcome, Macron was showing a tendency of taking “small steps” on such issues by reducing responsibility to Papon alone.


The 1961 protests were called in response to a strict curfew imposed on Algerians to prevent the underground FLN resistance movement from collecting funds following a spate of deadly attacks on French police officers.


A report commissioned by the president from historian Benjamin Stora earlier this year urged a truth commission over the Algerian war, but Macron ruled out issuing any official apology.


Source: Voice of America

UN Chief Calls for Stronger Steps to Combat World Hunger

Marking World Food Day, the United Nations is warning the fight against world hunger is being lost and calling for action to improve food security for the world’s most vulnerable people.


In his message marking World Food Day (Oct. 16), United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for vigorous action and investments in strengthening local food systems.


His message comes as nearly a billion people globally do not have enough to eat. The United Nations warns hunger is on the rise, driven globally by conflict, displacement, climate change, and the economic impacts of COVID-19. Among those most at risk, it says, are refugees and those forcibly displaced within their countries by conflict.


The U.N. acknowledges its goal of eliminating world hunger by 2030 will likely not be met.


Guterres says almost 40% of the world’s population, 3 billion people, cannot afford a healthy diet. That, he says, is causing undernourishment, in the form of both malnutrition and obesity, to proliferate globally.


“The pandemic has left an additional 140 million people unable to access the food they need. At the same time, the way we produce, consume and waste food is taking a heavy toll on our planet. It is putting historic pressure on our natural resources, climate and natural environment—and costing us trillions of dollars a year,” Guterres said.


World Food Day marks the anniversary of the founding of the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, which was established on October 16, 1945, in Quebec, Canada. FAO Senior Program Officer in Geneva Patrick Jacqueson says more than 150 countries hold special events every year in observance of the day.


He says this year’s theme calls for the transformation of agri-food systems to provide enough affordable and nutritious food to people everywhere.


“With an ever-growing population, expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, we need to feed the world and nurture the planet. It is not just about responding to emergencies, it is about building longer-term resilience and changing how we produce and consume food,” Jacqueson said.


The FAO recommends development of diverse agricultural systems, which, it says, are more adaptable to climate change and other shocks.


Source: Voice of America

Africa Has Mechanisms to Solve Conflicts Without Foreign Interference: Gambian Minister

African countries have their own means and mechanisms that enable them to solve conflicts without foreign interference, Gambian Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Mamadou Tangara noted.


In an exclusive interview with Ethiopian News Agency (ENA), Tangara said Africans have the traditional means to solve conflicts.

Therefore, it is important to find African solutions for African problems without foreign interference, the minister underscored.


According to him, African has very capable and dedicated leaders who are committed to the well-being of their country and people.


He stressed that Africans need to work cooperatively in resolving conflict because what affects one could affects all of us.


He also indicated the need for African countries to further strengthen their ability of addressing their problems by themselves.


“Foreign actors might support the efforts made by African Countries. However, they cannot tell us about us by placing themselves above us,”  he underlined.


Ethiopia which has great people could also solve its current problems by itself, Tangara stated.


“We have seen Ethiopia solve issues with Eritrea. So there is no obstacle that prevents Ethiopia form solving its other problems,” he underscored.


The foreign minister also expressed his hope that Ethiopia would solve the current situation through dialogue.


Ethiopia, which is the capital of Africa, is the second home of all Africans, Tangara said, further pointing out his wish to see a prosperous and stable Ethiopia.


The African Union should provide the necessary support to member states in order enable them resolve their problems by own, he urged.


According to the Foreign Minister, the bilateral relations of Ethiopia and Gambia are excellent recalling that they had several agreements aimed at enhancing their cooperation.


Expressing his hope that the existing bilateral relations would be expanded to a higher level, he indicated that activities are underway to implement the agreements.


Source: Ethiopia News Agency

Food Experts in Uganda Say They Want Farmers’ Opinions Before Introducing Innovations

As climate change continues to hit farmers because of erratic weather conditions, researchers believe there is a need to not only improve agricultural innovation but seek farmers’ opinions before introducing new farming methods.


Hadijah Naigaga has been a banana farmer for over 10 years. With Uganda experiencing erratic rainfall in some parts of the country and prolonged dry seasons, Naigaga says her garden was not spared.


She says there used to be huge banana plantations but they have collapsed. First, we had a prolonged dry spell and the plantation dried up, she says. Then, the rain was so heavy and the trees fell down. I had calculated that I would make a profit of between $3 and $6. But you realize that where you calculated $6, you have nothing. The trees are gone, she says.


Antonio Querido, the Food and Agriculture Organization representative in Uganda, says in order to have better production, nutrition, environment and life, there’s a need to transform agri-food systems. That would ensure that everyone has access to enough affordable, safe and nutritious food to lead an active and healthy life. According to the FAO, 690 million people suffer from hunger worldwide and that number has increased due to the coronavirus pandemic.


However, Querido said the agri-food systems are also contributing to climate change and that calls for better ways in the long term to produce safe and nutritious food.


“We need to invest more in research and development, to make farming more technology-advanced. We need innovation in digital agriculture to improve literacy rates among women. Because these can only go a long way in reducing hunger,” Querido said.


Ambrose Agona, the director general of the National Agricultural and Research Organization, says that while Uganda is considered a food basket for the Eastern African region, the question now is on the quality of food.


He says to ensure farmers grow quality of food, researchers need to talk with farmers, who often apply indigenous methods to raising crops.


“So, for instance, you’re talking about adaptation maybe to climate change. They have, for instance, certain crops, sorghum, finger millet, ground nuts, pigeon peas. They have been actually drought tolerant. But now, the farmers will be saying, if this newly improved variety is actually tolerant to climate change, how does it compare to ours,” Agona said.


According to the FAO, $40 to $50 billion must be invested worldwide to end hunger by 2030.


In Uganda, efforts are focused on training farmers and improving methods to produce information that leads to early warning systems to help them plan and anticipate the impacts of climate change.


That would be in addition to supporting post-harvest management and collective marketing to drive economic success and reduce poverty among farmers.


Source: Voice of America

Bread, Flour Factory Built by First Lady’s Office in Capital Inaugurated

A bread factory built in Addis Ababa by the First Lady’s Office was inaugurated today.

The bread factory that rests on 6,000 Meter Squares of land consumed 217 million Birr for the construction.


The factory, located at Lemi Kura Sub City in the outskirts of Addis Ababa, has a capacity of baking one million loaves of bread and produces 72 tons of flour every day.


The factory is expected to create jobs to more than 450 people, it was indicated.


It was disclosed during the occasion that Office of the First Lady is working to construct similar bread and flour factories in ten major cities across the country.


These factories will have capacity to produce 400 quintal of flour and 300,000 loaves of bread per day.


The objective of the factories is to help the residents overcome the cost of living.


It is to be recalled that First Lady’s Office has been constructing schools across the country.


Source: Ethiopia News Agency