In Summary

•On April 3, the IMF approved a Sh255 billion loan for Kenya which the Treasury says would be used to support the next phase of the Covid-19 response and address the urgent need to reduce debt vulnerabilities.

•Kenyans have consistently protested the loan citing lack of transparency in government spending.


International Monetary Fund IMF

Kenyans on Tuesday flocked to the comments section during a live streaming by the International Monetary Fund demanding immediate termination of loans facilities to the country.

With a common hashtag, #stoploaningKenya, Kenyans urged the international lender  to "stop fueling corruption through loans".

On April 3, the IMF approved a Sh255 billion loan facility for Kenya which the Treasury says would be used to support the next phase of the Covid-19 response and address the urgent need to reduce debt vulnerabilities. 

An initial disbursement of Sh79 billion is expected, of which Sh34 billion will be released immediately and Sh44.2 billion by June 30.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani said said the country pursued the facility as the early measures announced by the government to the effect of tax reliefs, expanded health spending, and social interventions such as Kazi Mtaani set forth the need for additional cash.

Majority of Kenyans wondered why the IMF approved the loan request at a time the country is already burdened with debt.

It was on Thursday, just a day before the loan was approved that the latest study by Infotrak suggested that most regions are opposed to the government appetite for foreign loans, the President Uhuru Kenyatta's backyard being the most resentful.

The survey said 81 per cent of Kenyans feel anxious, fearful or angry because of the debt burden.

According to the 2021 Budget Policy Statement, Kenya's public debt as of June 2020 stood at Sh7. 6 trillion, equivalent to 65 per cent of GDP.

According to the report on Ethical Development released last Wednesday, most Kenyans are concerned that future generations will be saddled with the debt and will have to repay it for a long time. 

Others feel the country will not be able to pay back and hence be embarrassed for years or worse, lose National resources , facilities and installations.

Former Mukurweini MP Kabando wa Kabando said the country had gone back to the days of Kanu when the government was dependent on loans. By Sharon Maombo, The Star

Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro leads a mass in Juba, South Sudan on Dec. 15, 2014. Photo AFP

 

JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN - The retired Catholic archbishop of South Sudan, Paulino Lukudu Loro, died Monday in Nairobi at the age of 80. The archbishop served for 30 years and was hailed by many in South Sudan for his efforts to promote peace during the country's long civil war.

The Reverend Father Samuel Abe, spokesperson for the Catholic Archdiocese of Juba, said Archbishop Loro was rushed to Kenya’s capital last month when his condition started deteriorating.

“First of all, last Saturday he had a very severe stroke which affected his dying and so it escalated into instability of his blood pressure and today the pressure just went down, and it is the cause of the death; primarily it is the stroke on his head,” Abe said.

Abe said Loro’s death has left a great void, because he was a key player in advising political leaders on how to achieve peace in South Sudan.

“It’s very clear as a peacemaker, a man of peace, he always advises people to take the interest of the country above our personal and our individual interests," Abe said. "And so, his words are still I think in our minds, his words are still with us and it’s up to us to put all his endeavors (and) his initiatives into practice, especially the political leaders, (and) the religious leaders of this country.”

Abe said he wished Loro had witnessed peace in South Sudan before his death but noted that people are still fighting and still dying.

Eli Joseph, youth chairperson at St. Kizito Parish, said Loro played a significant peacemaking role among various factions during the years when South Sudan was fighting for its independence from Sudan.

During South Sudan’s more recent civil war, Simon Gore, youth coordinator at St. Theresa Cathedral, said he remembers Bishop Loro for his boldness in telling the truth to the warring leaders.

“The peace process, he was not favoring any side, when he feels that there is slowness in implementation, he approached both of the partners and aired out his voice, and the right thing that they should be doing in order for his flocks not to suffer,” Gore said.

Loro was appointed archbishop of Juba on February 19, 1983, and served in this office until his retirement last year.

Archbishop Stephen Ameyu announced a four-day mourning period due to Loro’s death. It is not clear when Loro will be buried. - Winnie Cirino, Voice of America

Senegalese soldiers of the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali MINUSMA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali) in Gao, Mali. (AFP)

BAMAKO--More than 40 jihadists, including a senior commander, were killed last week after they attacked United Nations peacekeepers in northern Mali, the UN force MINUSMA said on Monday.

A UN source previously said about 20 of around 100 assailants were killed in a three-hour counter-attack after they raided a camp of Chadian peacekeepers, leaving four troops dead.

But on Monday, MINUSMA chief Mahamat Saleh Annadif said a search of the battlefield on Sunday and Monday showed that the death toll among the attackers was roughly twice this number.

“As of today, we have counted more than 40 dead terrorists, including a right-hand man to Iyad Ag Ghaly, by the name of Abdallaye Ag Albaka,” Annadif told AFP.

Ag Ghaly, a veteran jihadist, is leader of the shadowy Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) in the Sahel, affiliated with Al-Qaeda.

Ag Albaka, a former mayor of the town of Tessalit, has long been seen as being one of Ag Ghaly’s lieutenants, entrusted with a senior military role in northern Mali, the cradle of a 2012 insurgency that has since spread to Niger and Burkina Faso.

A UN security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Ag Albaka was Number Three in the GSIM organisation.

The attack targeted a Chadian contingent of MINUSMA at Aguelhok in northern Mali, around 200 kilometres (120 miles) from the border with Algeria.

The dawn raid was carried out by a mobile force on motorbikes and in vehicles.

“The peacekeepers have inflicted a serious setback on the terrorists, that’s for sure, even though we are mourning the death of four peacekeepers”, said Annadif, who is also the secretary general’s special representative for Mali.

Four jihadists were captured on Friday and handed over to Malian forces, the security source said.

The UN also said 34 of its troops had been injured. The number of wounded had earlier been put at 19.

MINUSMA, whose deployment to Mali began in 2013, is a 15,000 strong mission, of which 12,000 are troops.

It has lost more than 140 members to hostile acts, the highest death toll of any UN peacekeeping mission. Ten fatalities have occurred this year alone.

The force has been criticised in some quarters for failing to respond aggressively to the insurgency. The Arab Weekly

Photo Radio Tamazuj

 

Ugandan truck drivers destined for South Sudan have parked their trucks at the Elegu border town in protest of the recent highway killings, as they demanded security guarantees from the South Sudanese government.

This followed shortly after South Sudanese authorities handed over the bodies of four Ugandan drivers who were killed in Lainya County along the Yei-Juba road last week. In another incident, two people were killed and trucks burned along the Juba-Nimule road late last week. 

Zansa Moses, the chairperson of the Ugandan community in Eastern Equatoria State told Radio Tamazuj that the Ugandan traders demand security escorts for them to resume their businesses.

“It has been like three days or four days back when the drivers were attacked along the Juba Nimule highway. It is a strike that they want the government of South Sudan to provide them with security such that they move comfortably, give them maybe the patrol, security to escort them from Nimule up to Juba, that is the fear they have," he said.

Moses announced the strike will continue until authorities address the security concerns along the major highway. 

Captain David Khasmiro, the Inspector of Police in Nimule town confirmed that the strike has been ongoing since Saturday. 

“They are striking due to the recent incident along the highway that is why they say they now have no security in the country. But the vehicles that carry perishable goods like tomatoes are moving one by one. The strike has gone on for three days from Saturday up to now,” Khasmiro confirmed. 

The Juba-Nimule road is the main import route for goods and services from Uganda and Kenya into landlocked South Sudan. 

“There will be a huge impact from this strike. Some traders will hike the prices of goods for things like building items and flour. There is a negotiation at the national level and it will be addressed soon,” he added. 

Meanwhile, the Deputy spokesperson for South Sudan National Police James Dak said the striking drivers also demand justice.

“The best way forward is to establish an escort convoy from Juba to Nimule when the trucks take off and then when they return from Nimule to Juba as well as in the Yei road," he said. "I think this will be the strategic measures that will be taken as you know our land is landlocked and we are depending on Mombasa and those of Uganda for our daily sustainability. So it is a serious issue and it is being addressed,” he assured. 

South Sudan Inspector General of Police General Majak Akech said the issue is being handled and the standoff will soon be resolved.

In a statement last Friday, the South Sudan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation condemned the attacks. 

“We believe that pockets of rebel groups who are opposed to the implementation of the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan are behind these unnecessary deadly attacks. South Sudan is always indebted to Uganda and \Kenya for their un-wavering demonstration of solidarity with the people of South Sudan," the statement read in part.

The government further said it would work with Uganda and Kenya to address the atrocities.

But the holdout opposition group, the National Salvation Front, has distanced itself from the attacks and instead blamed government soldiers. - Radio Tamazuj

Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan said Tuesday it was “not proper to ignore” the coronavirus pandemic, in comments suggesting a shift from her Covid-sceptic predecessor who downplayed the disease.

In another sign of change, Hassan also ordered an easing of restrictions on media that had been banned before she took office last month.

Hassan announced she would create an expert Covid taskforce to advise her government, saying they would canvass global opinion on the pandemic and make recommendations about “remedies” and policies.

“It is not proper to ignore it. We cannot reject or accept it without any evidence from research,” Hassan told her newly-appointed permanent secretaries at a swearing-in ceremony in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday.

“They (experts) will tell us more about the pandemic, and advise us about what the world is proposing. We cannot accept everything as it comes, but we also cannot isolate ourselves as an island while the world is moving in a different direction.”

Hassan became Tanzania’s first female president last month following the death of John Magufuli, a Covid-sceptic who spent the better part of the pandemic denying coronavirus existed in his country before his sudden death at 61.

Authorities said Magufuli, nicknamed the “Bulldozer” for his uncompromising leadership style, died of a heart condition on March 17 after a mysterious three-week absence but his political opponents insisted he had coronavirus. 

Hassan has vowed to “start where Magufuli ended” and all eyes have been on potential changes to the country’s policies and openness regarding Covid-19. 

Tanzania has not reported any Covid-19 data since April 2020 and few measures have been taken to curb the spread of the virus, which Magufuli said had been fended off by prayer, insisting face masks were not needed.

“We cannot be reading about Covid in the world and when you reach sections about Tanzania, one find gaps. I think we need to be clearer whether we accept or not,” she said.

In another policy announcement, Hassan ordered that officials “free” media outlets banned by her predecessor, whose administration was criticised for a heavy-handed crackdown on the press.

“We should not give any room to say that we are suppressing media freedom,” she said.

“Our regulations should also be clear for every offence and their punishment. We should not use force to ban media platforms.”

No media outlets were mentioned by name, but last year Tanzania’s Daima newspaper was indefinitely banned while broadcaster Wasafi TV, and online network Kwanza TV, were handed suspensions.

Tanzania was long seen as a haven of stability and democracy in an otherwise volatile neighbourhood, but alarm grew over a slide into autocracy under Magufuli’s rule.

Most foreign media were not allowed into Tanzania to cover the 2020 presidential election in which Magufuli and Hassan, then his deputy, won a second term in a disputed vote. Capital News

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