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US woos Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan to sign Nile dam deal, promises assistance2 minutes read

The Sudanese Foreign Ministry announced in the statement that the three countries’ delegations will return to Washington, in a period to be determined later.

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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (L) meets U.S. President Donald Trump (R) at White House during his official visit in Washington DC, United States on April 10, 2019. Presidency of Egypt / Handout / Anadolu Agency

U.S. President Donald Trump has promised to provide technical assistance for Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia if they reached a deal regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), a statement by Sudan’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said.

Trump urged all parties to speed up reaching a comprehensive agreement on the GERD during his meeting with delegations of the three countries after which he promised to organize a signing ceremony for the agreement in Washington, the statement said.

The Sudanese Foreign Ministry announced in the statement that the three countries’ delegations will return to Washington, in a period to be determined later, to take part in a final round of talks to finalize the comprehensive agreement.

Washington is hosting talks between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia on the GERD under the patronage of the U.S. Secretary of Treasury and presence of the World Bank president, a Xinxua news agency report said.

The difference between Egypt and Ethiopia focuses on the duration of filling and operation of the GERD.

Egypt demands that the filling period be 10 years considering the drought years, while Ethiopia adheres to a period between four and seven years.

In early August 2019, Egypt proposed that, to avoid drought, Ethiopia must not begin filling the dam without Egypt’s consent, which was rejected by Ethiopia.

In March 2015, leaders of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia signed a declaration of principles committed to reaching an agreement regarding the GERD through cooperation. But differences are still standing despite the deal.

Ethiopia started building the GERD in 2011, while Egypt, a downstream Nile Basin country that relies on the river for its fresh water, is concerned that the dam might affect its 55.5-billion-cubic-meter annual share of the water resources of the river.

The GERD, extending on an area of 1,800 square km, is scheduled to be completed in three years at a cost of 4.7 billion U.S. dollars.

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Italian diagnosed with coronavirus in Nigeria, health condition ‘stable’

“The patient is clinically stable, with no serious symptoms, and is being managed at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos,” a Nigerian health official in Lagos said.

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Nigeria's Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, being addressed by the Director General of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu (middle) and the laboratory team during his visit to the NCDC National Reference Laboratory in Gaduwa, Abuja on Jan. 12./The Guardian Nigeria

Nigerian health authorities have announced the country’s first case of the dreaded Corona virus or COVID-19 after a visiting Italian businessman got diagnosed and was isolated for treatment and currently “stable with no serious symptoms”.

The COVID-19 patient was detected in the commercial city of Lagos and is the first case recorded in sub-Saharan Africa so ce the disease broke out in China in January.
  
“The case is an Italian citizen who entered Nigeria on the 25th of Feburary from Milan, Italy for a brief business visit. He fell ill on the 26th February and was transfered to Lagos State Biosecurity Facilities for isolation and testing,” Akin Abayomi, Lagos health commissioner said in a statement early Friday.

Abayomi, a Professor of Medicine, said the COVID-19 infection was confirmed by the Virology Laboratory of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, part of the Laboratory Network of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

“The patient is clinically stable, with no serious symptoms, and is being managed at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos,” the Nigerian health official said.
 
Health authorities in the West African country have been strengthening measures to ensure that any outbreak in major cities like Lagos or elsewhere is controlled and contained quickly through the multi-sectoral Coronavirus Preparedness Group, led by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

“We have immediately activated the State Emergency Operations Centre to respond to this case and implement firm control measures,” Lagos city authorities said.
  
Officials announced that they were “working to identify all the contacts of the patient, since he arrived in Nigeria” for diagnosis and isolation, if the need arises.

“Everywhere is vulnerable to Coronavirus. Nigeria is even more prepared than some countries. We are doing our best. There is no change in what we are doing to contain a possible outbreak of Coronavirus in the country,” Health minister, Dr. Emmanuel Ehanire had said in a previous media briefing.

“The Chinese have given us clinical criteria. We suspect and address anything that looks like Coronavirus because the cost of testing is very high.” The Nigerian health minister concluded.

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Guinea referendum, legislative polls must be ‘transparent’: UN rights chief

Months of protests against the referendum have resulted in “dozens of deaths,” Michelle Bachelet told the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday.

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Guinean President Alpha Conde on a campaign. The referendum on constitutional changes is seen by critics as a ploy by President Conde, 81, to stay in power for a third term, after a decade in power./AFP

The United Nations on Thursday called on Guinean authorities to ensure that this weekend’s referendum and legislative votes are transparent and inclusive, warning that any escalation in the country’s crisis would be “profoundly harmful”.

Guinea, a country with a long tradition of political turmoil, is to vote on Sunday in a referendum and in a legislative election.

The referendum on constitutional changes is seen by critics as a ploy by President Alpha Conde, 81, to stay in power for a third term, after a decade in power, an AFP report said.

Months of protests against the referendum have resulted in “dozens of deaths,” Michelle Bachelet told the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday.

“Reports also indicate that ethnic divisions are deepening, with increasing incitement to hatred and violence on social media and at political rallies,” she said.

“Any further escalation of this crisis could be profoundly harmful.”

Bachelet highlighted a warning about  “serious irregularities in the voters’ register” from the international association of French-speaking countries, OIF, earlier this week.

“I urge the authorities to avert greater turmoil and ensure that the electoral process is transparent and inclusive,” she said.

Guinea has suffered serious unrest over the plans for constitutional reform. At least 30 people and a gendarme, have lost their lives, according to an AFP tally.

Jailed under previous hardline regimes, Conde became Guinea’s first democratically elected president in 2010.

He was returned to office by voters in 2015 for his second and final five-year term under the current constitution, but critics say he has become authoritarian.

Earlier this month he left the door open to running for a third term, saying there was “nothing more democratic” than the referendum on constitutional change.

The National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC) has called for a boycott of the vote.

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‘Africa will not succumb to gay rights pressure’, AU chairman tells European Union

“African countries will not want to be lectured on governance and human rights.”

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African leaders ready to sign AfCTA
Chairman of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat. /AFP

Chairman of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat on Thursday told the European Union leaders that the continent will not succumb to pressure for the recognition of gay rights in various countries.

Mahamat at a press conference kicking off a meeting between AU and EU leaders highlighted “differences” over topics like international justice and gay rights at a meeting with the European Union intended to deepen the partnership between their continents.

“Certainly, we have our differences. International criminal justice, sexual orientation and identity, the death penalty, the centrality of the African Union in certain crises, etcetera,” Mahamat said.

Calling these differences “normal”, Faki said they could be overcome only with “recognition and acceptance”, an AFP report quoted him as saying.

Thursday’s talks mark the second visit by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to AU headquarters in less than three months. 

In December she chose to visit the AU on her first trip outside Europe after taking her post, a decision she said at the time was intended to send a “strong political message” about Europe’s partnership with Africa.

Von der Leyen is in the process of preparing a new “Africa Strategy” for the EU, due to be unveiled in early March. 

In her own remarks Thursday, she said the two continents were “natural partners” and stressed areas of cooperation like trade and the fight against climate change.

Later at a press conference she said she believed the two blocs could work through the disagreements Faki had pointed out.

“This is what the essence of a good partnership and a good friendship is. You build on a solid foundation with common projects you can work on, and you’re able to mark very clearly where differences are,” she said. “We try to convince but we acknowledge that there are different positions.”

“We should not follow the notion of expecting the African Union to adapt to the European Union,” she added. 

The majority of African countries criminalise same-sex sexual acts.

Various African countries have resisted efforts to try African leaders at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. In 2017, Burundi became the first country to pull out of the court altogether. 

Europe will try to use Thursday’s talks to promote trade and economic cooperation in response to “the flood of Chinese investment in the continent”, said Mikaela Gavas, senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development, an international non-profit foundation.

But the question of human rights remains a major potential barrier to deeper cooperation, Gavas said.

“African countries will not want to be lectured on governance and human rights,” she said. 

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