The United Nations has welcomed the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), congratulating the leaders upon creating one of the world’s largest trading blocs with over 50 countries.
In a statement issued by the global body’s secretary general, Antonio Guterres, the United Nations said the move is important towards achieving the sustainable development goals and delivering the African agenda on peace and prosperity.
‘‘With the joint African Union – United Nations Agreement for the implementation of Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, as our common framework, the entire United Nations family stands ready to support the continent as it forges forward the entry into force of the Continental Free Trade Area in the coming months,’‘ read part of the statement.
The entire United Nations family stands ready to support the continent as it forges forward the entry into force of the Continental Free Trade Area in the coming months.
On their part, The European Union (E.U.) Commission has lauded the African Union (A.U.) over the historic March 21 continental trade pact that was signed by over forty countries in the Rwandan capital, Kigali.
According to the E.U., the move was a very big step towards deepening continental integration and building on successes at the sub-regional levels.
This was contained in a March 22, 2018 joint statement signed by Vice President Federica Mogherini and two other E.U. Commissioners. It emphasized that they were also ready to support the implementation of the deal within the framework of existing A.U.-E.U. agreements signed last year.
The adoption and signing of the AfCFTA legal instruments and the signing of the Protocol on free movement of persons are concrete commitments to liberalisation and to building on what has already been achieved at the regional level.
frican leaders on Wednesday signed three major economic agreements during the African Union (AU) Extraordinary Session of Heads of State and Government in Kigali, Rwanda.
44 countries signed the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area, while 43 heads of state signed the Kigali declaration for the launch of AfCFTA and 27 signed protocols relating to Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment.
Reluctance over ‘Free Movement of Persons’?
The AU Protocol on the Free Movement of Person paved the way for citizens of different member states to be issued with African passports in future and establish businesses anywhere in Africa.
The AU has set a 2018 deadline for the removal of visa requirements for all African citizens in all African countries.
Rwanda eased its travel restrictions starting January this year by allowing travellers from across the world to get a visa-on-arrival, a move adopted in Kenya for Africans.
Governments now have the next six months, by September this year, to ratify the protocol. Those that did not sign can also do so during the window.
Under the protocol, member states are required to remove visa requirements for Africans, allow 90-day stay, and right of residence for any African in a territory other than his or her country of origin.
The protocol also calls for issuance of African passport in corroboration with the AU
Aliko Dangote, ex-Emir of Kano test negative for coronavirus-Africanews
Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote on Sunday (March 29) revealed that he had tested negative for COVID-19. According to him, he took the test as a global citizen and business leader.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted modern society, affecting our collective health and well-being,” he said in a tweet.
After an initial 200 million naira donation to the federal government for the efforts to combat the pandemic, the Dangote Foundation convened a private-sector led initiative to support ongoing government efforts.
“CACOVID (Coalition Against COVID-19) is an initiative that I am leading with other private sector leaders and our common goal is to support ongoing Government initiatives with our resources in the fight against Covid-19. We are in this together & I am optimistic we will overcome,” he said in another tweet.
Meanwhile, a test result for Nigeria’s former Emir of Kano also came out negative. The Emir’s close ally and friend governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai, reported testing positive on Saturday.
The two had met earlier this month after the Emir was dethroned by the state government and banished to exile in neighbouring Nasarawa State. el-Rufai visited the Emir and escorted him to Lagos after a court ordered his release.
South Sudanese President appoints five Vice Presidents
South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir on Friday appointed rebel leader Riek Machar as vice president, paving way for the formation of a unity government that seeks to end six years of war.
“I President Salva Kiir Mayardit, president of South Sudan, do hereby issue a decree for the appointment of Dr. Riek Machar Teny as first vice president of South Sudan with immediate effect,” said a statement read on state television.
The presidential decree also dissolved all institutions at national and state levels,” Information Minister Michael Makuei told AFP.
The decree was read on state television, the South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation, appointing Machar as the first of five vice-presidents in a bloated cabinet to accommodate various warring parties.
But consensus has only been reached on three of the four others, including current first vice president Taban Deng Gai, a former Machar ally who defected.
James Wani Igga from Kiir’s ruling party, and Rebecca Nyandeng, a former minister and Kiir ally-turned-critic are the other named vice-presidents as part of the long-awaited unity government..
The swearing-in ceremony will take place on Saturday, Makuei said. Kiir had initially said his longtime rival would be sworn-in on Friday, after they had reached the unity deal
“The vice presidents will take oath tomorrow and thereafter we will continue to process the appointments of the cabinet and appointment of the governors of the 10 states and three chief administrators of the three administrative areas,” Makuei told AFP.
Meeting the deadline
Saturday is the third deadline for the formation of the unity government which was agreed upon in a September 2018 peace deal, but pushed back as crucial issues remained unresolved.
Key among these were the delineation of state boundaries, formation of a unified national army and security arrangements for Machar, who has been living in exile since 2016.
A last-minute deal on the number of states was achieved, although little progress has been made on the other issues.
The leaders have come under increased pressure in recent weeks both from regional heads of state and main donor, the United States, to form the government.
A compromise by Kiir to cut to 10 the number of states, which he increased unilaterally to 32 after independence, was seen as key in moving towards the creation of the government.
However the opposition remains reticent about an additional three “administrative areas” pushed through by Kiir.
Machar spokesman Manawa Peter Gatkuoth said the two men would “continue to solve the problem” after the government is formed.
Dare to hope?
“This is a major step forward, if indeed they form the government as they say,” Alan Boswell, a South Sudan expert with the International Crisis Group (ICG) told AFP.
“Kiir’s compromise on the states issue paved the way for the two sides to finally move forward, even if the parties have much more to work through in the coming weeks, months, and years.”
Machar was sacked as vice-president in 2013 and later accused of plotting a coup against Kiir, kickstarting a civil war characterised by violence, rape and UN warnings of ethnic cleansing.
A 2015 peace deal brought Machar back as vice-president and he returned to Juba with heavy security.
When that deal fell apart in July 2016, the capital was plunged into a brutal battle between their rival armies and Machar was forced to flee on foot.
The ensuing war drew in new parts of the country and other local grievances and disputes came to the fore.
Several heads of state are expected to attend Saturday’s inauguration, although no names have been confirmed.
DRC warlord nicknamed terminator slammed 30 years sentence by ICC
A former Congolese rebel leader has been sentenced to 30 years for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Fighters loyal to Bosco Ntaganda carried out gruesome massacres of civilians, judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) said in July.
Ntaganda, nicknamed “Terminator”, was convicted on 18 counts including murder, rape, sexual slavery and using child soldiers.
The sentence is the longest that the ICC has handed down.
Ntaganda was the first person to be convicted of sexual slavery by the ICC and overall the fourth person the court has convicted since its creation in 2002.
The Rwanda-born 46-year-old former rebel has been involved in numerous armed conflicts in both Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
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