TEMPO AFRIC TV @ 612 224 2020

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  • E.U. united on African migration curbs, divided over hosting refugees

    European Union leaders will discuss how to further curb immigration from across the Mediterranean over dinner on Thursday, but are as divided as ever on how to take care of refugees who still make it to Europe.

    Their chairman, Donald Tusk, proposed creating a new financing tool in the bloc’s next multi-year budget from 2021 to “stem illegal migration”, replacing the ad hoc calls for money that EU states have seen since arrivals peaked in 2015.

    Despite heavy criticism by human rights groups that it is aggravating the suffering of refugees and migrants on the southern shore of the Mediterranean, the EU is sticking to its policy of providing various kinds of assistance to the governments and U.N. agencies in the Middle East and Africa in order to prevent people making the trek north.

    While implementing these plans in some places, notably the lawless Libya, is proving difficult, all EU states and institutions in Brussels agree on the approach.

    However, the question of how to handle refugees who have made it to the EU is as divisive now as it was two years ago.

    Italy, Greece and other frontline states on the Mediterranean, as well as the rich destination countries such as Germany, want all member states to be obliged to take in a set allocation of asylum-seekers.

    But several eastern ex-communist EU members reject mandatory quotas, saying accepting Muslim refugees would undermine their sovereignty and security, and the homogeneous makeup of their societies.

    They want to help instead with money, equipment and personnel for controlling the bloc’s frontiers.

    The Commission is already suing Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic for failing to take in their allotment of asylum-seekers from the peak of the EU’s migrant crisis in 2015.

    DIVISIONS

    Recent proposals for future solutions go in opposite directions, giving little hope of a deal by the target date of June.

    The bloc’s current chair Estonia suggested sticking to the obligatory scheme when immigration is extremely high, but adding some flexibility by legislating that the receiving and sending states must agree on any relocation.

    That plan has been quickly dismissed as a non-starter by diplomats from several EU states.

    The bloc’s executive, the European Commission, proposed that the bloc approve compulsory and automatic relocation for times of mass immigration, but rely on voluntary help in normal circumstances. The European Parliament wants mandatory relocation at all times, regardless of migratory pressures.

    But now Tusk himself has also come out against quotas, telling EU leaders in a note that they had proven “highly divisive” and “ineffective”.

    The Commission’s migration chief, Dimitris Avramopoulos, told a news conference on Tuesday that Tusk’s paper was “undermining one of the main pillars of the European project – the principle of solidarity”.

    For now, immigration figures remain so low compared to the peak of 2015-2016 that the public pressure on EU leaders to come up with a quick fix has eased.

    That could yet change, however, with Italy’s parliamentary election next spring, coinciding with the start of a new migration season.

    Germany, currently consumed with trying to form a new government, has long suggested that if no consensus can be reached, an asylum reform could be passed by majority vote – something that would inevitably deepen the divisions and mistrust between member states.

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  • Mugabe and Jammeh: The African presidential throw outs of 2017

    The big question that came up in the wake of Mugabe’s ouster at home and abroad was ‘whoever thought that such a day will come.’ Most Zimbabweans admitted that even Mugabe could not have predicted the events of November 15 till 21 when he finally agreed to let go after 37 years.

    In early December 2016, the same question was on the minds of many citizens and foreigners as The Gambia headed into presidential polls. Incumbent Yahya Jammeh conceded an unexpected electoral loss much to the shock of Gambians and the admiration of people around the world.

    It did not take long before he unilaterally announced a cancellation of the polls over irregularities. The elections chief had reviewed results from the December 1 polls but that in Jammeh’s view was a sign that something had gone wrong.

    Presidential politics on the continent has undoubtedly recorded two throw outs, knockouts if you like that were highly unlikely till they happened. 2017 has been an interesting one for Mugabe’s Zimbabwe and for Jammeh’s Gambia.

    As part of our 2017 review, we look back at the circumstances that led to the ‘democratic’ ousting of two leaders who had chalked a combined reign of 59 years.

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  • Libya and Italy to set up joint operations to tackle migrant smuggling

    Libya’s UN-backed government has entered into an agreement with Italy to establish a joint operations room for tackling migrant smugglers and traffickers.

    The agreement was announced after a meeting in Tripoli between the head of the Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez Seraj, Libyan Interior Minister Aref Khodja, and his Italian counterpart Marco Minniti.

    While no details were given as to where the center would be located and how it would work, Seraj’s office said the center would consist of representatives from the coastguard, the illegal migration department, the Libyan attorney general, and the intelligence services, along with their Italian counterparts.

    Libya is the main gateway for migrants trying to cross to Europe by sea, though numbers have dropped sharply since July as Libyan factions and authorities have begun to block departures under Italian pressure. More than 600,000 migrants have made the journey over the past four years.

    More pressure mounted on the Libyan authorities when CNN released footage that appeared to show African migrants being sold as slaves in Libya. Protests in Europe and Africa caused the UN backed Libyan government to promise action including investigating reports of slavery and bringing the perpetrators to justice.

    The United Nations migration agency IOM is currently repatriating migrants back to their home countries, helping up to 13,000 to return voluntarily to Nigeria, Guinea and other countries from Libya this year. It provides them with transport and pocket money and documents their often harrowing testimonies.

    The agency recently blasted social media giants Facebook for not doing enough to prevent use of their platforms by the people smugglers.

    The Italian navy already has a presence in Tripoli port, providing “technical” assistance to Libya’s coastguard, according to Italian and Libyan officials.

    The coastguard, which is receiving funding and training from the European Union, has become more assertive in recent months in intercepting migrants and bringing them back to Libya.

    According to Saturday’s statement, Seraj told Minniti that “despite the successes achieved in the migration file, the number of illegal immigrants outside shelters remains large and we need more cooperation, especially in securing the borders of southern Libya through which these migrants flow”.

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  • Zimbabwe president names new head of state intelligence outfit

    Zimbabwe has named a former diplomat as the head of its intelligence agency, state-owned newspaper The Herald said on Saturday.

    Isaac Moyo, who was serving as an ambassador to neighbouring South Africa and Lesotho, replaces retired army general Happyton Bonyongwe, the paper quoted chief secretary to the president, Misheck Sibanda, as saying.

    No one was immediately available to comment in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s office. The Herald is a mouthpiece for the government.

    Moyo takes over a domestic spy network, the Central Intelligence Organisation, that permeates every institution and section of society and has been used by former President Robert Mugabe to stay in power.

    He has served as a member of the African Union’s Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA), intelligence provider to the union’s 55 states.

    Mnangagwa, who was sworn in two weeks ago in the wake of the de facto military coup that ended Mugabe’s 37-year rule, has been ringing in changes in his administration including appointing leading military officials to top posts in his cabinet.

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  • Togo frees detained Imams critical of government

    Authorities in Togo have released two religious leaders detained for their critical views on the regime of President Faure Gnassingbe.

    One of the two Imams, Alpha Alhassane, a revered spiritual leader in the second largest city of Sokode is also a known adviser of a leading opposition Pan-African National Party leader Tikpi Atchadam.

    His arrest in October this year led to violent protests in Sokode with public buildings reportedly torched by angry protesters. The gendarmerie, post office, parts of the Togo Telecoms building among others were targeted by the protesters who clashed with the security forces, reports said.

    Even though the reason for his arrest at the time was unknown, it was reported to be linked to the series of anti-government protests organised by the opposition.

    A video making the rounds on social media, showed the Imam with well wishers supposedly after his release from detention.

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