“Jasmine Revolution”
Symbol of peace: Flowers placed on the barrel of a tank
in very much calmer protests than in recent days in Tunisia

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011
Mannoubia Bouazizi, the mother of Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi. "Mohammed suffered a lot. He worked hard. but when he set fire to himself, it wasn’t about his scales being confiscated. It was about his dignity." (Peter Hapak for TIME)

1 - TUNISIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

How eyepatches became a symbol of Egypt's revolution - Graffiti depicting a high ranking army officer with an eye patch Photograph: Nasser Nasser/ASSOCIATED PRESS

2 - EGYPT Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

''17 February Revolution"

3 - LIBYA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

5 - SYRIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

"25 January Youth Revolution"
Muslim and Christian shoulder-to-shoulder in Tahrir Square
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
(Subjects: Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" (without a manager hierarchy) managed Businesses, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)
"The End of History" – Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)
(Subjects:Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Muhammad, Jesus, God, Jews, Arabs, EU, US, Israel, Iran, Russia, Africa, South America, Global Unity,..... etc.) (Text version)

"If an Arab and a Jew can look at one another and see the Akashic lineage and see the one family, there is hope. If they can see that their differences no longer require that they kill one another, then there is a beginning of a change in history. And that's what is happening now. All of humanity, no matter what the spiritual belief, has been guilty of falling into the historic trap of separating instead of unifying. Now it's starting to change. There's a shift happening."

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."

African Union (AU)

African Union (AU)
African Heads of State pose for a group photo ahead of the start of the 28th African Union summit in Addis Ababa on January 30, 2017 (AFP Photo/ Zacharias ABUBEKER)

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Few words can describe Nelson Mandela, so we let him speak for himself. Happy birthday, Madiba.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Britain should give up Chagos Islands: UN court

Yahoo – AFP, Danny KEMP, Jan HENNOP, February 25, 2019

Britain allowed a few of the evicted Chagossian islanders back for a brief visit in 
2006 (AFP Photo/STRINGER)

The Hague (AFP) - Britain should give up control of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean "as rapidly as possible", the UN's top court said Monday in a decades-old row with Mauritius over an archipelago that is home to a huge US airbase.

The International Court of Justice said in a legal opinion that Britain had illegally split the islands from Mauritius before independence in 1968, after which the entire population of islanders was evicted.

Mauritius and the exiled Chagossians reacted with delight to the "historic" opinion delivered by judges in The Hague, which is non-binding but will carry heavy symbolic and political weight.

Britain however defended its hold on the islands, saying the Diego Garcia military base, which has been used to bomb Iraq and Afghanistan, protected people around the world.

"The United Kingdom's continued administration of the Chagos Archipelago constitutes a wrongful act," chief judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf said.

"The United Kingdom is under an obligation to bring an end to its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible, thereby allowing Mauritius to complete the decolonisation of its territory."

The UN General Assembly in 2017 adopted a resolution presented by Mauritius and backed by African countries asking the ICJ to offer legal advice on the island chain's fate and the legality of the deportations.

'So happy'

Colonial power Britain split off the islands from Mauritius -- which lies around 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) away -- three years before Port Louis gained independence in 1968. It also paid Mauritius three million pounds.

Between 1968 and 1973 around 2,000 Chagos islanders were evicted, to Britain, Mauritius and the Seychelles, to make way for a military base on Diego Garcia, the largest of the islands. The evictions were described in a British diplomatic cable at the time as the removal of "some few Tarzans and Man Fridays".

The Chagos Islanders have already taken their battle through the courts in Britain, 
where their supporters include the current leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn 
(second from the right in this 2007 photo) (AFP Photo/ADRIAN DENNIS)

Diego Garcia is now under lease to the United States and played a key strategic role in the Cold War before being used as a staging ground for US bombing campaigns against Afghanistan and Iraq in the 2000s.

Olivier Bancoult, chairman of the Mauritius-based Chagos Refugees Group, told reporters outside court that he was "so happy".

"It is a big victory against an injustice done by the British government for many years. We people have been suffering for many years -- I am so lucky today," he said.

Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth hailed it as a " historic moment for Mauritius and all its people".

"Our territorial integrity will now be made complete, and when that occurs, the Chagossians and their descendants will finally be able to return home," he said in a statement.

The ICJ opinion comes as a stunning blow to London in a case that goes to the heart of historic issues of decolonisation and current questions about Britain's place in the world as it prepares to leave the European Union.

Mauritius' lawyer Philippe Sands said there was "no wiggle room" in the judges' view and that Britain would resist pressure to comply.

"I suspect the United Kingdom will say to itself, what resistance can we put up to moving forward -- and particularly in the context of Brexit, as the United Kingdom finds itself a little bit isolated in the world," he told reporters outside court.

Britain's foreign ministry rejected the court's opinion.

"The defence facilities on the British Indian Ocean Territory help to protect people here in Britain and around the world from terrorist threats, organised crime and piracy," the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in a statement.

'Shameful' evictions

When judges heard the case in September, Mauritius argued that it was illegal for Britain to have broken up its territory while it was still the colonial power.

Britain, while apologising for the "shameful" way it evicted thousands of islanders, insisted Mauritius was wrong to have brought the case to the ICJ.

The United States meanwhile said the court had a "duty" not to take a position on the row.

The Chagos Islanders have already taken their battle through the courts in Britain, where their supporters included the current Labour opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

The legal opinion is only the 28th since the ICJ was set up in 1946 in the wake of World War II to provide a tribunal to resolve disputes between UN member states.

Previously such opinions include one on Israel's West Bank barrier in 2004, which judges said was illegal, and declaring legal Kosovo's declaration of independence in 2010.c

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Botswana mulls proposal to lift hunting ban

Yahoo – AFP, February 21, 2019

The proposed legislation would overturn a 2014 ban on hunting which was introduced
 to protect Botswana's wildlife and reverse a decline in the elephant population (AFP

Gaborone (Botswana) (AFP) - Botswana's government on Thursday proposed ending a strict ban on hunting, which was introduced to protect wildlife in this game-rich southern African country, prompting conservationists to warn it could harm tourism.

The controversial proposals, which must be debated by cabinet before becoming law, would overturn a hunting ban that was introduced in 2014 to reverse a decline in the population of elephants and other wildlife.

"If needs be, we will give the opportunity to parliament to also interrogate it," said President Mokgweetsi Masisi after receiving the report.

The ban was one of the flagship policies of his predecessor, former president Ian Khama, who was an ardent conservationist.

The ruling Botswana Democratic party has been lobbying to overturn the ban, especially on elephant hunting, saying populations have become unmanageably large in parts -- placing the animals on a collision course with humans.

The proposals also include the introduction of elephant culling to manage numbers.

But conservationists laid into the proposed legislation, describing it as "a disaster".

Botswana is home to the largest elephant population in Africa, with more than 
135,000 of them living in what has long been known as one of the safest places
for them (AFP Photo/MONIRUL BHUIYAN)

"Botswana has got two million residents and the economy thrives on diamonds and tourism," said Dex Kotze, an independent conservation expert.

"This can do major brand damage to Botswana's tourism industry. It's crazy."

Masisi took over as president in April last year and the review began five months later, just days after a wildlife charity said some 90 elephants had been slaughtered for their tusks, suggesting a sudden spike in poaching.

But the government quickly sought to debunk the claims by Elephants Without Borders (EWB).

According to a report put together by Rural Development Minister Frans Van Der Westhuizen, overturning the hunting ban would "promote conservationism".

And rural communities, he wrote, would no longer be "concentrating on the negative aspects of property destruction and loss of human lives caused by wildlife".

Landlocked Botswana has the largest elephant population in Africa, with more than 135,000 of them roaming freely in its unfenced parks and wide open spaces.

Over the past decade, the number of elephants on the continent has fallen by around 111,000 to 415,000, according to figures from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Seeking influence, Egypt's Sisi to chair African Union

Yahoo – AFP, Aziz El Massassi, February 9, 2019

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (C) and Rwanda's President Paul Kagame (R)
-- the outgoing and incoming AU chairs (AFP Photo/KHALED DESOUKI)

Cairo (AFP) - Nearly six years after the African Union shut it out in the cold, Egypt will take the organisation's helm -- and strengthening multilateral powers is unlikely to be on the agenda.

Cairo's tenure "will probably concentrate on security and peacekeeping", said Ashraf Swelam, who heads a think tank linked to the country's foreign ministry.

Incoming AU chair President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will likely focus less on "financial and administrative reform" than his predecessor, Swelam added.

Such reform was the cornerstone of outgoing AU chairman Paul Kagame's year in the role.

The Rwandan president has pushed for a continent-wide import tax to fund the AU and reduce its dependence on external donors, who still pay for more than half the institution's annual budget.

An African diplomat told AFP that Egypt -- along with fellow heavyweights South Africa and Nigeria -- does not want a powerful AU.

This diplomat, who has been tracking AU affairs for over a decade, said Cairo has "never forgotten" its suspension in 2013.

The near year-long lock out from the AU came after Egypt's army deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who in 2012 had become the country's first democratically elected president.

Sisi is due to take the helm at the AU's biannual heads of state assembly, which takes place on February 10 and 11 at the AU's gleaming headquarters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa.

As usual, the continent's multiple security crises will be high on the VIPs' agenda.

Cairo was suspended from the AU after its army deposed Islamist president 
Mohamed Morsi, who in 2012 had become the country's first democratically 
elected president (AFP Photo/Simon MAINA)

Rwanda's ambitious funding proposal will also likely be on the table.

But it has met resistance not only from Egypt, but other member states, so may fail to pass.

Reform of the AU Commission is an even more sensitive topic. In November 2018, most states rejected a proposal to give the head of the AU's executive organ the power to name deputies and commissioners.

Egypt backs free trade zone

But the Egyptians are "fully engaged" in pushing other AU reforms, according to an AU official.

One key initiative backed by Cairo is the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), an initiative agreed by 44 of 55 member states in March 2018.

The single market is a flagship of the AU's "Agenda 2063" programme, conceived as a strategic framework for socioeconomic transformation.

However, the trade pact has met resistance from South Africa.

Sisi will therefore need to push hard for ratification of this accord, if it is to come into effect.

For Elissa Jobson, head of Africa advocacy at the International Crisis Group, Sisi can be expected to "use the presidency to increase his country's standing among other African states".

"This is not a departure from previous administrations", particularly that of the outgoing chairman, she added.

Delegates at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (AFP 
Photo/Zacharias ABUBEKER)

"Kagame showed that the presidency -- for a long time considered to be merely a figurehead -- can be used to promote national interests and boost a leader's international profile," Jobson said.

The AU official -- who requested anonymity -- said Rwanda's president will remain a point person for the organisation's broad reform agenda, despite handing over the chair.

Limited power

But there are major limits to the power wielded by the post of AU chairman.

Kagame suffered a crushing disavowal by the AU after expressing "serious doubts" about the results of Democratic Republic of Congo's recent presidential election, which was officially won by Felix Tshisekedi.

While also disputed by the Catholic church, the results were validated by DRC's constitutional court and saluted by continental heavyweights South Africa, Kenya and Egypt.

For Liesl Louw-Vaudran at the Institute of Security Studies, Sisi wants Egypt to be considered part of Africa, not just the Arab world -- but that will require work.

"North African countries have a reputation of looking in a different direction than Africa, and Egypt will have to overcome that stereotype," she said.

The AU's theme for this summit is "Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons" presented within a security context.

Cairo is casting itself as a champion in the battle against illegal immigration -- and as a model for hosting refugees on its soil.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

C. Africa reaches peace deal with rebels: government

Yahoo – AFP, Charles Bouessel in Bangui with Stephane Barbier in Libreville, February 2, 2019

"A peace agreement has been reached..." the government of President Faustin
Archange Touadera (pictured) announced on Twitter (AFP Photo/Florent VERGNES)

Bangui (Gabon) (AFP) - The Central African Republic government and 14 armed groups struck a deal Saturday to end years of fighting that has killed thousands, the parties and a mediator said.

The deal, the seventh since 2012, was announced on Twitter by the government of President Faustin-Archange Touadera just a day after the African Union and UN-sponsored talks in Khartoum were suspended amid disagreements over amnesty.

"A peace agreement has been reached," said the tweet.

"This agreement should be initialled tomorrow (Sunday) and its signing will take place in Bangui in a few days," the Tweet added.

Also on Twitter, African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security Smail Chergui confirmed the breakthrough, adding some details of the pact still had to be ironed out.

"I am humbled to announce that with the exemplary cooperation I received from both the Government of the CAR and the 14 armed groups, we have secured a peace agreement today in the interest of the people of CAR."

Aboubakar Sidik, spokesman for one of the main armed factions, the Popular Front for the Rebirth of Central African Republic (FPRC) said: "We are happy a consensus has been reached on sticking points which were an amnesty (for militia fighters) and an inclusive government."

The talks, which started on January 24, were suspended repeatedly over several issues including rebel demands for an amnesty.

The armed groups also wanted the dissolution of the present government in favour of an interim regime led by someone from their side, according to a document obtained by AFP.

Under Western pressure, Bangui has always refused pardons for warlords, several of whom are under UN sanctions or cited for human rights violations in UN reports.

A Special Criminal Court (CPS) has been set up in Bangui to judge people accused of crimes in the country since 2003, but has so far done little.

And despite the peace initiative, the violence has continued.

Since the talks started, the mainly Muslim Union for Peace (UPC) has notably carried out several attacks on the central prefecture of Ouaka.

None of the six earlier accords struck between the parties have managed to restore stability.

The former French colony has more than 12,000 UN peacekeepers (MINUSCA) in the country.

But rights group Amnesty International has criticised their failure to stop a rebel attack that killed scores of civilians at a displacement camp in the central town of Alindao last November.

Central African Republic is rich in mineral resources but remains one of the world's poorest nations.

It has struggled to recover from a 2013 civil war that erupted when President Francois Bozize, a Christian, was overthrown by mainly Muslim Seleka rebels.

In response, Christians, who account for about 80 percent of the population, organised vigilante units dubbed "anti-Balaka" in reference to the balaka machetes used by Seleka rebels.

Thousands of people have died in the violence, 700,000 have been internally displaced, and another 570,000 have fled abroad.