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Archive for March 11th, 2014

Somali National Army and AMISOM forces reclaim five strategic towns in the bay region of Somalia

Posted by African Press International on March 11, 2014

MOGADISHU, Somalia, March 10, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/– In renewed joint operations between the Somali National Army (SNA) and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces, five strategic towns in the Bay region of Somalia have been reclaimed from the control of the Al Shabaab terrorist group.

In the last couple of days, SNA and AMISOM forces have regained control of Rabdhure Ted, and Hudur towns in joint operations that saw the terrorists defeated and driven out of these towns. Today, the SNA and AMISOM forces continued their march and secured the town of Wajid and Buudhubow in the Gedo region.

The African Union Special Representative for Somalia and Head of AMISOM, Ambassador Mahamat Saleh Annadif thanked the Somali population of the newly recovered towns for their cooperation and seized the opportunity to once again appeal to the youth enrolled in Al Shabaab to lay down their arms and join their brothers and sisters in the Government controlled areas where they are welcomed.??

The SNA and AMISOM joint operations signal the beginning of the renewed efforts by the Somali government forces working more closely with AMISOM forces to dislodge Al Shabaab from many of its strongholds across the country.??

This will facilitate the extension of the Somali government’s control over its territory as well as enable the people of Somalia to live their lives free from Al Shabaab’s tyranny.??

These joint operations were carried out with due diligence and strict observance of International Human Rights standards in line with the trainings received by both SNA and AMISOM forces.

 

SOURCE

African Union Commission (AUC)

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IMF Executive Board Concludes 2014 Article IV Consultation with Nigeria

Posted by African Press International on March 11, 2014

ABUJA, Nigeria, March 7, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ – On February 21, 2014, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded the Article IV consultation1 with Nigeria.

Real GDP is projected to grow at 6.4 percent in 2013 owing to continued strong performance in the non-oil sector. Inflation declined to 7.9 percent at year end, supported by lower food price, fiscal consolidation, and a tight monetary policy stance. The external current account surplus fell to 3.1 percent of GDP from 7.8 percent at end-2012, but reserves remained at a comfortable 5.6 months of next year’s imports, despite uncertainties about the timing of the tapering of unconventional monetary policies. The non-oil primary deficit of the consolidated government is projected to narrow from expenditure restraint, but a shortfall in oil revenues resulted in a drawdown of the Excess Crude Account (ECA), a key fiscal buffer. Despite significant job creation, unemployment and poverty are high and social indicators lag those of peers. Continued weaknesses in labor markets, access to electricity, cost of doing business, and small and medium enterprises’ access to finance have prevented a transition to a more robust and inclusive growth path.

Economic growth is expected to improve further in 2014, driven by agriculture, trade, and services. Inflation should continue to decline, with lower food prices from higher rice and wheat production and supported by a tight monetary policy and a budget execution that maintains medium-term consolidation objectives. The current account is also expected to improve. Key risks to be managed include: (i) uncertainty about the pace of global recovery; (ii) unwinding of UMP; (iii) persistently lower oil prices; (iv) persistent oil production losses; (v) continuation of insurgency in the North; and (vi) slow implementation of reforms.

Sound and balanced economic policies over the medium term are critical. Policies should focus on rebuilding external and fiscal buffers, avoiding spending pressures from the political cycle, strengthening the transparency and governance of the oil sector, and enhancing financial stability, while promoting the availability of and access to finance. Over the medium term, it will be vital to ensure the steady implementation of the wide-range of structural reforms necessary to improve competitiveness and productivity, boost growth and job creation, strengthen governance, and build social cohesion.

Executive Board Assessment2

Executive Directors welcomed Nigeria’s continued strong macroeconomic performance, underpinned particularly by sustained high growth in the non oil sector. Inflation has continued to decline and the reserves position is adequate. While the economic outlook remains favorable, key risks include continued lower oil revenues from oil production losses and lower oil prices, the impact from the unwinding of unconventional monetary policy in advanced economies, and domestic political and security uncertainties. Directors underscored that steadfast implementation of prudent macroeconomic policies and reforms will be essential to address the risks and vulnerabilities, generate more inclusive and balanced growth, and reduce unemployment.

Directors welcomed the authorities’ continued commitment to fiscal consolidation and noted the improvements made to the fiscal framework. However, to ensure macroeconomic stability, they emphasized the need to rebuild fiscal buffers and to strengthen the framework further. Efforts should be geared towards boosting non oil revenue by broadening the tax base, improving tax administration and curtailing exemptions, and further reducing oil subsidies. Directors underscored that adopting a rule based reference oil price in fiscal projections and further strengthening public financial management should help the authorities achieve their consolidation objectives. They also highlighted the need for improving oil revenue management, including by completing the transition from the Excess Crude Account to the Sovereign Wealth Fund. These measures should be supported by full implementation of the Treasury Single Account and the integrated information management systems. Maintaining fiscal discipline in the run up to the elections is also important.

Directors called for strong action to address oil theft and production losses. They advised the authorities to strengthen the regulatory framework by passing a sound Petroleum Industry Bill with enhanced oversight and transparency provisions. The framework for anti money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism could support these efforts.

Directors commended the authorities for lowering inflation and considered the current tight monetary policy stance to be appropriate, given the risks associated with potential capital flow reversals. To better manage liquidity, they generally encouraged more reliance on open market operations to guide short term interest rates. With regard to exchange rate policy, Directors noted that greater exchange rate flexibility could serve as an important buffer against external shocks.

Directors noted that the financial system is well capitalized with low nonperforming loans. They recommended continued improvements in the supervisory framework, especially with regard to increased exposure from cross border financial activities. Directors encouraged the authorities to build on the progress made in strengthening prudential policies, including by further enhancing the framework for anti money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism, and implementing the remaining Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP) recommendations. They welcomed the plan to wind down the operations of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria.

Directors emphasized that structural reforms remain critical to improve competitiveness and productivity, and reduce poverty and inequality. They encouraged the authorities to persevere with their Transformation Agenda with continued focus on education and health reforms, the improvement of power supply, and broadening agricultural production. Reform efforts should also aim at enhancing the business environment, improving productivity, boosting financial access to small and medium sized enterprises, and strengthening governance and institutional capacity. The upcoming release of re based GDP data and further improvements in statistical data collection should strengthen the basis for policy and private sector decision making in Nigeria.

Nigeria: Selected Economic and Financial Indicators, 2010–2014

Nominal GDP (2012, billion U.S. dollars) 262.6 Quota (million SDR) 1,753.2

GNI per capita, Atlas method (2012, US$) 2,450

Population (2012, million) 168.8

Poverty headcount ratio (adult equivalent, 2009-10) 46.0

GINI index (2010) 48.8

Life expectancy at birth (2011, years) 52             2010    2011    2012    2013    2014     Act.    Act.    Act.    Proj.    Proj.

National income and prices (Annual percentage change, unless otherwise specified)

Real GDP (at 1990 factor cost)1 8.0    7.4    6.6    6.4    7.3

Oil and Gas GDP  5.2    -0.6    -0.2    -1.8    6.8

Non-oil GDP  8.5    8.9    7.8    7.7    7.4

Production of crude oil (million barrels per day)

2.46    2.37    2.34    2.30    2.39

Consumer price index (end of period) 11.7    10.3    12.0    7.9    7.0

Consolidated government operations2 (Percent of GDP)

Total revenues and grants 20.0    29.9    25.3    20.0    21.1

Of which: oil and gas revenue 14.0    23.4    18.5    12.9    13.8

Total expenditure and net lending 26.9    29.4    25.4    24.6    24.0

Overall balance  -6.9    0.5    -0.4    -4.7    -2.9

Non-oil primary balance (percent of non-oil GDP) -34.3    -36.0    -27.5    -24.0    -22.0

Excess Crude Account / SWF (billions of US$) 2.7    4.6    11.0    3.0    6.3

Money and credit (Contribution to broad money growth, unless otherwise specified)

Broad money (percentage change; end of period) 6.9    15.4    16.4    -5.2    14.3

Net foreign assets -10.3    5.5    14.3    -3.4    1.3

Net domestic assets 17.2    9.9    2.1    -1.7    13.0

Treasury bill rate (percent; end of period) 7.5    14.3    13.3    10.9    …

External sector

(Annual percentage change, unless otherwise specified)

Exports of goods and services 36.5    20.1    1.8    -2.1    2.4

Imports of goods and services 36.6    27.2    -10.6    13.8    4.6

Current account balance (percent of GDP)3 5.9    3.6    7.8    3.1    3.7

Terms of trade 10.0    9.1    1.4    -0.1    -0.4

Price of Nigerian oil (US$ per barrel) 79.0    109.0    110.0    109.0    104.0

Nominal effective exchange rate (end of period) 84.6    79.2    81.4    83.1    …

Real effective exchange rate (end of period) 117.9    119.8    135.6    150.1    …

Gross international reserves (US$ billions) 32.3    32.6    44.2    43.6    44.5

(Equivalent months of next year’s imports) 4.5    5.0    6.0    5.7    5.5

Sources: Nigerian authorities; World Bank; and IMF staff estimates and projections.

1 GDP is now being rebased to a base year of 2010.

2 Consists of federal, state, and local governments.

3 Large errors and omissions in the balance of payments suggest that the current account surplus is overestimated by a significant (but unknown) amount.

1 Under Article IV of the IMF’s Articles of Agreement, the IMF holds bilateral discussions with members, usually every year. A staff team visits the country, collects economic and financial information, and discusses with officials the country’s economic developments and policies. On return to headquarters, the staff prepares a report, which forms the basis for discussion by the Executive Board.

2 At the conclusion of the discussion, the Managing Director, as Chairman of the Board, summarizes the views of Executive Directors, and this summary is transmitted to the country’s authorities. An explanation of any qualifiers used in summing up can be found here:http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/misc/qualifiers.htm

 

SOURCE

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

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Burundi: Pillay denounces increasing restrictions on political and civil rights ahead of 2015 elections

Posted by African Press International on March 11, 2014

GENEVA, Switzerland, March 7, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Friday expressed concern at the increasing restrictions on civil and political rights in Burundi, following a series of violent acts by the ruling party’s youth wing and the disruption of public meetings organised by opposition parties.

“I am concerned that restrictions have increasingly been imposed on freedom of assembly and on the press over the past few months in Burundi,” Pillay said.

Recent attacks by the ruling party’s youth wing, including the reported killing of an opposition youth leader on 19 February, were also hugely worrying, especially in the lead up to the 2015 elections, she added.

At least 19 violent incidents involving members of the youth wing, known as Imbonerakure, have been documented since the beginning of the year. These included beatings, acts of extortion and intimidation of political opponents, and the prohibition and disruption of political meetings.

The latest incident occurred on 28 February, when Imbonerakure members reportedly beat up members of an opposition party’s youth wing in the village of Busoni, in the Kirundo province.

“These violent acts threaten to have a negative impact on the exercise of political rights and freedoms in Burundi, and there is real risk that opposition youth groups may start to retaliate, creating a dangerous downward spiral of violence,” Pillay said.

“I call on the Government to publicly condemn these violent acts to ensure that those responsible for acts of violence are held accountable. This is essential if the rising political tensions in the country are to be defused,” she said.

The High Commissioner also expressed concern that the police, acting on instructions from administrative authorities, disrupted meetings organised by an opposition party on February 18 and 19. A workshop organized by the Bujumbura Bar Association in conformity with the new Law on Public Gatherings was also prohibited by the authorities on 18 February.

“The increasing restriction of public gatherings could severely narrow the democratic space ahead of the elections,” Pillay said.

The High Commissioner also expressed concern at legislation introduced over the past year, including the Law on Public Gatherings adopted on December 5.

“The prohibition of spontaneous gatherings by this new law may amount to a disproportionate restriction on peaceful assembly and freedom of expression,” said Pillay.

“I am also concerned that attributing civil and criminal responsibility to organisers of public gatherings, for any unlawful act committed by anyone attending such gatherings, could deter the holding of demonstrations and protests that are legitimate under international law,” she said.

The High Commissioner also drew attention to the potentially negative impact of the new Media Law, promulgated last June, on press freedom. The law requires journalists to reveal their sources of information when they report on a number of issues ranging from state security to public order.

“This legislation could all too easily lead to infringements of freedom of expression, thereby violating the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” Pillay said. “The protection of a journalist’s sources is essential to ensure that media can play an active and vibrant role in a properly functioning democracy,” Pillay said.

“Next year’s elections will be a key test for Burundi. Continued political violence is a threat to the democratic process in a country which is still slowly recovering from a devastating protracted civil war,” the High Commissioner said.

 

SOURCE

United Nations – Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

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NUSOJ condemns harsh sentence for Somali journalist in Ethiopia

Posted by African Press International on March 11, 2014

MOGADISHU, Somalia, March 10, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/– The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) today condemned guilty verdict and prison sentence against veteran Somali journalist Mohamed Aweys Mudey as “outrageous and unacceptable”, and urged Ethiopian authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally.

According to the family of Mohamed Aweys Mudey, the journalist was sentenced to 27 years in prison in the last week of February 2014, using Ethiopia’s Anti-terror law. He did not have a lawyer or family member with him during his trial. At least three people detained with Mudey at Ethiopia’s Crimes Investigations Sector (CIS), widely known Makalawi, saw him badly tortured and having difficulties to walk. He was later moved to secret place. Ethiopian prosecutors reportedly accused Mudey of having information of Al-Shabaab operations in Ethiopia and charged him of participating in terror activities.

“This is a very severe ruling because Mohamed Aweys Mudey is not guilty of anything. The charges against him are ludicrous. We firmly condemn the continued detention of Mudey, and call for his immediate release,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General

Mohamed Aweys Mudey, who is also known Boqorka Bartamaha, fled to Ethiopia for safety reasons after he was wounded at an Al-Shabaab suicide bombing at Shamo Hotel in Mogadishu on 3 December 2009. The bombing killed at least 25 people, including three journalists. Mudey, 48, was among some 100 Somalis arrested in November 2013 under the suspicion of terror attack in Addis Ababa.

Filing reports for different media houses from Addis Ababa when there are important events concerning Somalia, Mudey used to work for number of media houses in Mogadishu namely Radio Shabelle and Radio Banadir.

 

SOURCE

National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ)

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