Johannesburg, Aug 1 (AP/UNB) — The office of Somalia's president says he is giving up his United States citizenship but it is not immediately clear why.
A statement posted on Twitter on Thursday says President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed made the decision voluntarily, with lawyers involved. It says Somalia's constitution allows for dual citizenship. Many in Somalia's diaspora have it after fleeing the country long gripped by conflict.
Mohamed lived for many years in the United States, working as a New York state transportation department official in Buffalo before being elected Somalia's president in February 2017.
During his time in office the U.S. has dramatically increased airstrikes against the Somali-based al-Shabab extremist group, re-established its diplomatic presence in Somalia and even presented Mohamed with a trucker cap that said "Make Somalia Great Again."
Gorongosa National Park, Aug 1 (AP/UNB) — Mozambique's president and the leader of the Renamo opposition signed a peace accord on Thursday to end years of hostilities that followed a 15-year civil war.
The former rebel group's remaining fighters are disarming just weeks before a visit by Pope Francis and a national election that will test the now-political rivals' new resolve.
The permanent cease-fire is the culmination of years of negotiations to end fighting that has flared several times in the more than 25 years since the end of the civil war in which an estimated 1 million people died.
Pope Francis has said he is coming to promote reconciliation in the southern African country of some 30 million people. The Catholic church's Sant'Egidio community helped to negotiate the war's end in 1992 and the church has encouraged peace since then.
President Filipe Nyusi and Renamo leader Ossufo Momade signed, shook hands and embraced at Gorongosa National Park, near the Renamo headquarters where the group has maintained an armed base for more than 40 years. Of the more than 5,200 fighters who are disarming, some 800 are coming down from their camp on Mount Gorongosa and register for employment at the wildlife park.
The accord will be followed by another agreement to be signed in Mozambique's capital, Maputo, on Aug. 6 pledging peace in the Oct. 15 national elections. Previous elections have been marked by violence and Renamo allegations that the ruling Frelimo party rigged the results.
Renamo, which is the Portuguese acronym for National Resistance of Mozambique, became an opposition party after the civil war but had never fully disarmed until now.
"This agreement has historic significance because up 'til now Mozambique has had an opposition party in parliament that also has armed fighters in the countryside. Now there can be peace," said Neha Sanghrajka, a negotiator of the deal. Unlike in previous peace efforts the important issues have been implemented before the signing, she said.
The issues include an amnesty for rebel fighters that Nyusi signed earlier this week and a constitutional amendment that stipulates provincial governors will be elected rather than appointed by the central government.
There is "tremendous symbolic value" in having the signing at Gorongosa, said fellow negotiator Swiss Ambassador Mirko Manzoni, who is also an envoy of the United Nations secretary-general.
"Gorongosa was where the war started and now it is where it ends," Manzoni said, pointing out that the mountain is in a strategic location in the center of Mozambique. "This agreement gives people hope that there will be lasting peace."
Renamo's longtime leader Afonso Dhlakama died in Gorongosa in 2018. Momade succeeded him and is responsible for concluding the peace agreements.
"We will no longer commit the mistakes of the past," Momade said this week as Renamo fighters turned in their arms. "We are for a humanized and dignified reintegration and we want the international community to help make that a reality."
Momade also said he hoped Gorongosa Park would help Renamo's ex-combatants and their families re-enter society.
In recognition of its pivotal role, Mozambique's president declared Gorogosa to be a peace park.
After falling into neglect during the civil war, the park that sprawls over 4,067 square kilometers (1,570 square miles) has been re-invigorated with help from American philanthropist Greg Carr. He has said he was inspired after former South African president Nelson Mandela told him that wildlife parks should be places of national reconciliation and development.
The park also has helped surrounding communities recover after Cyclone Idai devastated large parts of central Mozambique in March and killed more than 600 people. More than 80,000 people are receiving food aid and help in planting crops, while aid groups warn that many others in the region face a hunger crisis in the months ahead.
"I'm excited at what the park can do in the next five years and beyond to help keep the peace," Carr said. "We need the park to deliver opportunities and benefits to the demobilized fighters to sustain the peace. Now it's go, go, go for us to build on the achievement of this peace agreement."
Kinshasa, Aug 1 (AP/UNB) — Rwanda closed its border with Congo over the deadly Ebola outbreak on Thursday, while a Congolese official said a person who had contact with the second confirmed Ebola case in the border city of Goma was receiving treatment after showing signs of the disease.
The Ebola coordinator for North Kivu province, Dr. Aruna Abedi, told The Associated Press that the person in treatment is a suspected case. It was not immediately clear whether the person is a family member of the man who died on Wednesday. He had spent several days at home with his family while showing symptoms.
If this suspected case is confirmed, it could be the first transmission of Ebola in this outbreak inside Goma, a city of more than 2 million people on the Rwandan border.
The developments came as the outbreak that has killed more than 1,800 people entered its second year. It is now the second-deadliest Ebola outbreak in history and last month the World Health Organization declared it a rare global emergency.
WHO has recommended against travel restrictions amid the outbreak but says the risk of regional spread is "very high."
Rwanda's state minister for foreign affairs Olivier Nduhungirehe confirmed the border closure to The Associated Press on Thursday, a day after WHO officials had praised African nations for keeping their borders open. Last week Saudi Arabia stopped issuing visas to people from Congo while citing the Ebola outbreak, shortly before the annual hajj pilgrimage there this month.
Cairo, Jul 31 (AP/UNB) ) — One in three Egyptians is living in poverty, the official statistics agency reported Monday, following years of austerity measures aimed at reforming the economy.
The report said 32.5% of Egyptians lived below the poverty line in 2018, up from 27.8% in 2015 and 16.7% in 2000. It said 6.2% of Egyptians live in extreme poverty. It set the poverty line at around $1.45 per day and the extreme poverty line at less than a dollar a day.
Egypt has been struggling to rebuild its economy following years of unrest since the 2011 uprising. President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has repeatedly urged Egyptians to be patient with the economic reforms as authorities have waged a sweeping crackdown on dissent.
The new report from the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics was the first official look at poverty and income since the government secured a $12 billion bailout package from the International Monetary Fund in 2016. As part of the reform program, the government floated the currency, slashed subsidies on fuel, services and utilities, and imposed a value-added tax.
The IMF said in May that those efforts "have been successful in achieving macroeconomic stabilization, a recovery in growth, and an improvement in the business climate."
But they have also caused widespread price hikes that have taken a heavy toll on poor and middle-class Egyptians. The austerity measures have stoked discontent but there are few public signs of unrest. Authorities have severely restricted any criticism of the government, with thousands jailed and all unauthorized protests banned. Independent polling in Egypt is prohibited.
In televised comments on Tuesday, el-Sissi said "any government, when it deals with such very important issues, takes into consideration the people's reactions."
"We trust in you, your awareness and the will for change. Your patience was my honor," he said.
The IMF is set to deliver the final round of the bailout in the coming weeks.
Kinshasa, Jul 31 (AP/UNB) — Officials in Congo on Tuesday said a second Ebola case had been confirmed in Goma, the city of more than 2 million people whose first confirmed case in this yearlong outbreak was reported earlier this month.
There appeared to be no link between the man's case and the previous one in Goma, Jean-Jacques Muyembe, a local Ebola response coordinator, told reporters. He arrived on July 13 from a mining area in northeastern Congo's Ituri province and started showing symptoms on July 22. He is now isolated at an Ebola treatment center. Ebola symptoms can start to occur between two and 21 days from infection, health experts say.
Goma is on Congo's heavily traveled border with Rwanda and has an international airport. For months health officials had feared that an Ebola case would be confirmed there. Days after the first Goma case was announced, the World Health Organization declared the Ebola outbreak a rare global emergency.
This has become the second-deadliest Ebola outbreak in history, with more than 1,700 people killed despite the widespread use of an experimental but effective Ebola vaccine. Containing the outbreak faces unprecedented challenges amid attacks by rebel groups and resistance by wary community residents in a region of Congo that had never experienced an Ebola outbreak before.
Muyembe and other officials on Tuesday sought to reassure both Goma residents and neighboring countries that measures were being taken to strengthen surveillance for Ebola at border posts and elsewhere. Neighboring Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan began vaccinating health workers weeks or months ago. WHO says the risk of regional spread remains "very high."
The declaration of a global health emergency — the fifth in history — brought a surge of millions of dollars in new pledges by international donors but some health workers say a new approach is needed to combat misunderstandings in the community. Far too many people in this outbreak are still dying at home, they say.
There is no licensed treatment for Ebola and survival can depend on seeking treatment as quickly as possible. And yet many people in the region don't believe that Ebola is real, health workers have said.
The first confirmed Ebola case in Goma was a 46-year-old preacher who managed to pass through three health checkpoints on the way from Butembo. The city is one of the communities hardest hit by this outbreak, which is second only to the 2014-16 Ebola epidemic in West Africa that left more than 11,300 people dead.