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First Black African UN Secretary General Koffi Annan Dies At 80

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Koffi Annan during his days as the UN-Secretary General

Kofi Annan, the first black African to become UN secretary-general, has died aged 80 in Switzerland, his aides say. He “passed away peacefully on Saturday after a short illness”, the foundation named after him said on Saturday.

Mr. Annan served two terms as UN chief from 1997 to 2006, and was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for humanitarian work for his efforts. He later served as the UN special envoy for Syria, leading efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

In a statement announcing his death, the Kofi Annan Foundation described him as a “global statesman and deeply committed internationalist who fought throughout his life for a fairer and more peaceful world”. The diplomat, who was originally from Ghana, had been living in Geneva for several years before his death.

Kofi Annan, Diplomat Who Redefined The U.N

Kofi Annan, a soft-spoken and patrician diplomat from Ghana, who became the seventh secretary general of the United Nations, projecting himself and his organization as the world’s conscience and moral arbiter despite bloody debacles that left indelible stains on his record as a peacekeeper, died on Saturday. He was 80.

His death, after a short illness, was confirmed by his family in a statement from the Kofi Annan Foundation, which is based in Switzerland.

Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001, he was the first black African to head the United Nations, and led the organization for two successive five-year terms beginning in 1997 — a decade of turmoil that challenged the sprawling body and redefined its place in a changing world.

On his watch as what the Nobel committee called Africa’s foremost diplomat, Al Qaeda struck New York and Washington, the United States invaded Iraq, and Western policymakers turned their sights from the Cold War to globalization and the struggle with Islamic militancy

An emblem as much of the body’s most ingrained flaws as of its grandest aspirations, Mr. Annan was the first secretary general to be chosen from the international civil servants who make up the United Nations’ bureaucracy.

He was credited with revitalizing its institutions, crafting what he called a new “norm of humanitarian intervention,” particularly in places where there was no peace for traditional peacekeepers to keep, and, not least, in persuading Washington to unblock arrears withheld because of the profound misgivings about the body voiced by American conservatives.

His tenure was rarely free of debate, and he was likened in stature to Dag Hammarskjold, the second secretary general, who died in a mysterious plane crash in Africa in 1961.

In 1998, Mr. Annan traveled to Baghdad to negotiate directly with Saddam Hussein over the status of United Nations weapons inspections, winning a temporary respite in the long battle of wills with the West but raising questions about his decision to shake hands — and even smoke cigars — with the dictator.

In fact, Mr. Annan called the 2003 invasion of Iraq illegal and suffered an acute personal loss when a trusted and close associate, the Brazilian official Sérgio Vieira de Mello, his representative in Baghdad, died in a suicide truck bombing in August 2003 that struck the United Nations office there, killing many civilians.

The attack prompted complaints that Mr. Annan had not grasped the perils facing his subordinates after the ouster of Mr. Hussein. While his admirers praised his courtly, charismatic and measured approach, he was hamstrung by the inherent flaw of his position as what many people called a “secular pope” — a figure of moral authority bereft of the means other than persuasion to enforce the high standards he articulated.

As secretary general, Mr. Annan, like all his predecessor and successors, commanded no divisions of troops or independent sources of income. Ultimately, his writ extended only as far as the usually squabbling powers making up the Security Council — the highest U.N. executive body — allowed it to run.

In his time, those divisions deepened, reaching a nadir in the invasion of Iraq. Over his objections, the campaign went ahead on the American and British premise that it was meant to disarm the Iraqi regime of chemical weapons, which it did not have — or, at least, were never found.

Iraq also brought embarrassment closer to home when reports began to surface in 2004 that Mr. Annan’s son, Kojo Annan, worked for Cotecna Inspection Services, a Geneva-based company that had won a lucrative contract in a vast humanitarian program supervised by the United Nations in Iraq and known as oil for food.

A commission led by Paul A. Volcker concluded that the secretary general had not influenced the awarding of the contract, but had not investigated aggressively once questions were raised.

The secretary general said he took the commission’s findings as exoneration, but his reputation suffered, particularly in the eyes of adversaries in Washington.

In assessing his broader record, moreover, many critics singled out Mr. Annan’s personal role as head of the United Nations peacekeeping operations from 1993 to 1997 — a period that saw the killing of 18 American service personnel in Somalia in October 1993, the deaths of more than 800,000 Rwandans in the genocide of 1994, and the bloody massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims by Bosnian Serb forces at Srebrenica in 1995.

In Rwanda and Bosnia, United Nations forces drawn from across the organization’s member states were outgunned and showed little resolve. In both cases, troops from Europe were quick to abandon their missions. And in both cases, Mr. Annan was accused of failing to safeguard those who looked to United Nations soldiers for protection.

“Annan felt that the very countries that had turned their backs on the Rwandans and Bosnians were the ones making him their scapegoat,” Samantha Power, an author who later became ambassador at the United Nations during the Obama administration, wrote in 2008. “But he knew that his name would appear in the history books beside the two defining genocidal crimes of the second half of the 20th century.”

Despite the serial setbacks, Mr. Annan commanded the world stage with ease in his impeccably tailored suits, goatee beard and slight, graceful physique — attributes that made him and his second wife, Nane Lagergren, a global power couple.

He seemed to radiate an aura of probity and authority. “How do we explain Kofi Annan’s enduring moral prestige,” the Canadian author, politician and academic Michael Ignatieff wrote in a review of Mr. Annan’s 2012 memoir, “Interventions.”

“Personal charisma is only part of the story,” Mr. Ignatieff wrote. “In addition to his charm, of which there is plenty, there is the authority that comes from experience. Few people have spent so much time around negotiating tables with thugs, warlords and dictators. He has made himself the world’s emissary to the dark side.”

The desire to burnish his legacy seemed to motivate Mr. Annan long after Ban Ki-moon replaced him as secretary general, and he set up a nonprofit foundation to promote higher standards of global governance. In 2008, he headed a commission of eminent Africans that persuaded rival factions in Kenya to reconcile a year after more than 1,000 people were killed during and after disputed elections.

In February 2012, Mr. Annan was appointed as the joint envoy of the Arab League and the United Nations to seek a settlement as civil war tightened its grip on Syria. But he resigned in frustration in August of that year, citing the intransigence of both sides in a conflict that convulsed and reshaped the region and claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

Kofi Atta Annan was born on April 8, 1938, in the city of Kumasi in what was then Gold Coast and which, in 1957, became Ghana, the first African state to achieve independence from British colonialism. Born into an aristocratic family, he had three sisters, two of them older. The third, Efua, was a twin who died in the 1990s.

After a spell at the elite Mfantsipim boarding school founded by Methodists, he went on to higher education as an economist in Ghana, at Macalester College in St. Paul, in Geneva, and at the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management.

In 1965, he married Titi Alakija, a woman from a prosperous Nigerian family. The couple had two children, a daughter, Ama, and a son, Kojo. The marriage foundered in the late 1970s.

In 1984, Mr. Annan married Ms. Lagergren, a divorced lawyer working at the United Nations. She, too, was a scion of a prominent family, a niece of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who protected thousands of Hungarian Jews during World War II but disappeared after being captured by Soviet forces. Ms. Lagergren had a daughter, Nina, from her first marriage.

He is survived by Ms. Lagergren, along with Ama, Kojo and Nina.

Most of Mr. Annan’s working life was spent in the corridors and conference rooms of the United Nations, but, he told the author Philip Gourevitch in 2003, “I feel profoundly African, my roots are deeply African, and the things I was taught as a child are very important to me.”

His first appointment with a United Nations agency was in 1962, at the World Health Organization in Geneva. Mr. Annan returned briefly to Ghana to promote tourism and worked in Ethiopia with the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa before returning to the body’s European headquarters.

Later, in New York, he worked at first in senior human resources and budgetary positions, and, in the early 1990s, the former secretary general, Boutros Boutros Ghali of Egypt, appointed him first as deputy, then as head of peacekeeping operations.

The appointment plunged Mr. Annan into a maelstrom of conflicts where United Nations forces were deployed. As genocide approached Rwanda in 1994 — months after the downing of a Black Hawk helicopter in Mogadishu, Somalia, and the killing of American service personnel — the Clinton administration in Washington had little appetite for intervention.

But on the ground, the Canadian commander, Lt. Gen. Roméo Dallaire, heading a modest force of 2,500 United Nations troops, sought permission from Mr. Annan’s office to raid an arms cache that he believed would be used in massacres. Permission was refused. Only years later, after the release of a critical report in 1999, did Mr. Annan declare that “all of us must bitterly regret that we did not do more to prevent it. On behalf of the United Nations, I acknowledge this failure and express my deep remorse.”

In Bosnia, too, the United Nations was accused of being overcautious and restricted by the mandate approved by the Security Council for the establishment of so-called safe havens under United Nations protection that proved, in Srebrenica, to be illusory. European powers opposed airstrikes to halt the advancing Bosnian Serbs, who overran Srebrenica despite the presence of peacekeeping troops from the Netherlands.

Later that year, Mr. Annan seemed to adopt a tougher line, approving the NATO bombing campaign that forced Serbia to the negotiating table for the Daytona peace accords. At that time, airstrikes required a so-called dual key approval of the NATO command and the United Nations.

“When Kofi turned it,” Richard Holbrooke, the former American envoy, told Mr. Gourevitch, “he became secretary general in waiting.” With Washington pressing for the ouster of Mr. Boutros Ghali, Mr. Annan took office as secretary general with American approval on Jan. 1, 1997.

He was, Ms. Power wrote, “the primary guardian of the U.N. rule book,” which insisted on the paramountcy of the Security Council as what Mr. Annan called “the sole source of legitimacy” in approving overseas interventions. Those rules were openly flouted by NATO in March 1999, with its bombing of the former Yugoslavia, forcing Mr. Annan to seek some kind of middle ground.

 

Additional reporting from Ney York Times

 

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AFRICA FOCUS

Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza Dies Of Heart Attack….

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Burundi government statement on Twitter says outgoing President, Pierre Nkurunziza (55) has died at Karusi hospital after suffering heart attack.

In a statement posted on Twitter on Tuesday, the government announced “with great sorrow to Burundians and the international community” the passing of Nkurunziza, 55.

The outgoing president died at Karusi hospital after suffering a heart attack on June 8, the statement added.

In power since 2005, Nkurunziza was due to be replaced in August by political ally Evariste Ndayishimiye, who was declared earlier this month the winner of a May 20 presidential election.

WHO IS NKURUNZIZA:

  • Nkurunziza was born in 1963 in Burundi’s capital city of Bujumbura.
  • He was raised in the province of Ngozi in northern Burundi.
  • His father, Eustache Ngabisha, was a Catholic Hutu connected with the royal family. His mother was a Protestant Tutsi assistant nurse.
  • Ngabisha was enlisted to the ranks of the pro-independence UPRONA party and elected to the Parliament of Burundi in 1965, later becoming governor of two provinces before being killed in 1972 during the Burundian Genocide of 1972 when ethnic violence claimed the lives of between 80,000 and 210,000 Burundians.
  • Nkurunziza attended primary school in Ngozi and pursued secondary education at Athénée in Gitega.
  • He later attended the Institut d’Education Physique et des Sports (IEPS) at the University of Burundi in the late 1980s and graduated in 1990 after obtaining his degree in sports education.
  • Before the civil war broke out, he became a sports professor at Lycée de Muramvya in 1991 while still studying psychology and pedagogy. Nkurunziza became a teacher and assistant lecturer at the University of Burundi in 1992.
  • In 1995, he was threatened and joined the CNDD-FDD when hundreds of Hutu students were killed or forced to flee. After rising through the ranks, Nkurunziza was appointed deputy secretary-general of the CNDD-FDD in 1998.
  • In the late 1990s, he was condemned to death by court and trial in absentia. In 2001, he was elected chairman.
  • There was a split in the group in late 2001. He was reelected chairman in August 2004.
  • During the Burundian Civil War, Nkurunziza is said to have survived a near death experience.
  • He was wounded several times in the war and was given the nickname “Pita”.
  • Beginning in late 2003 and after the ceasefire agreement, he was appointed Minister for Good Governance in the transitional government of President Domitien Ndayizeye.
  • Following a series of CNDD-FDD victories in elections held during June and July 2005, Nkurunziza was nominated as the party’s presidential candidate.
  • He was elected president by members of parliament (acting as an electoral college) with a vote of 151 to 162 on 19 August 2005 and took office on 26 August 2005.
  • He was reelected in 2010 with more than 91% of the vote amidst an opposition boycott and sworn in for his second term on August 26, 2010.
  • In March 2014, Nkurunziza banned jogging, due to “fears it was being used as a cover for subversion.”
  • In April 2015 Nkurunziza announced that he would seek a third term in office. The opposition said that Nkurunziza’s bid to extend his term was in defiance of the constitution, as it bars the president from running for a third term.
  • On May 13, 2015, Burundi Army General Godefroid Niyombareh declared a coup via radio while Nkurunziza was abroad attending a summit in Tanzania with other African leaders. Niyombareh had been dismissed from his post as head of intelligence in February 2015.
  • However, the controversial presidential elections were held on 21 July 2015. The electoral commission under pressure announced on 24 July 2015 that Nkurunziza had won the election with 69.41% of the vote with low voter turnout, the participation rate under 30%.
  • In March 2018, Nkurunziza was named “eternal supreme guide” by the ruling party, CNDD-FDD, in the run-up to a constitutional referendum on 17 May that year. The referendum’s proposed constitutional changes would allow Nkurunziza to stay in office until 2034.
  • On 21 May the new constitution was approved, allowing Nkurunziza to extend his term limits starting in 2020.
  • On 7 June 2018, Nkurunziza announced that he will step down after the 2020 elections.
  • Nkurunziza was one of seven siblings. Two of his siblings were killed after civil war erupted in 1993, and three others died while fighting in the CNDD-FDD. Only one of his siblings, a sister, is alive today.
  • He married his wife in 1994 and is the father of two sons.
  • Nkurunziza described himself as a born again Christian, though his rule has involved severely restricting religious freedoms for evangelical Christians and other groups.
  • Nkurunziza enjoyed playing football and cycling. He began playing football at the age of five, and played in a team at secondary school and his university.
  • In September 2019, a UN committee concluded that President Pierre Nkurunziza was personally accountable for serious violations.

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COVID19 MIRACLE CURE: What Is The Problem With Our Cure, Is It Because It Comes From Africa? No Country Or Organisation Will Stop Us – Madagascar President Blasts WHO….

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President Andry Rajoelina displaying the Covid-Organics (CVO) drink (Courtesy photo)

Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina has blasted the World Health Organization (WHO) for discouraging people from using their homegrown remedy for Covid-19.

WHO has repeatedly warned that the Covid-Organics drink, which Madagascar’s Rajoelina has touted as a remedy against the deadly coronavirus, has not been clinically tested.

However, in an interview with FRANCE 24 and RFI, Rajoelina defended his promotion of a controversial homegrown remedy for Covid-19 despite an absence of clinical trials.

“What if this remedy had been discovered by a European country, instead of Madagascar? Would people doubt it so much? I don’t think so,” the president told FRANCE 24’s Marc Perelman and RFI’s Christophe Boisbouvier.

The drink is derived from artemisia – a plant with proven anti-malarial properties – and other indigenous herbs.

“What is the problem with Covid-Organics, really? Could it be that this product comes from Africa? Could it be that it’s not OK for a country like Madagascar, which is the 63rd poorest country in the world… to have come up with (this formula) that can help save the world?” asked Rajoelina, who claims the infusion cures patients within ten days.

Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Niger and Tanzania have already taken delivery of consignments of Covid-Organics, which was launched last month.

“No one will stop us from moving forward – not a country, not an organisation,” Rajoelina said in response to the WHO’s concerns.

He said the proof of the tonic’s efficacy was in the “healing” of “our patients”, calling it a “preventive and curative remedy”.

According to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, Madagascar has officially reported 186 coronavirus infections and 101 recoveries to date, with no deaths.

“The patients who have healed have taken no other product than Covid-Organics,” the president said.

Reminding viewers that Madagascar has a long history of traditional medicine, Rajoelina added that many pharmaceutical drugs authorised in the West have turned out to be harmful, such as the Mediator weight loss drug in France.

 

Source: France 24

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How The Movie “Contagion” Laid The Blueprint For The Coronavirus Outbreak And The Future Of The World After The Virus….

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Contagion is currently one of the most watched and most translated movies in Uganda.

In the midst of the coronavirus panic, the 2011 movie “Contagion” became one of the most-watched movies in Uganda and online. Here’s a look at the main themes of the movie and how they are becoming a reality in 2020.

As coronavirus spreads fear and panic across the world, streaming services have been observing a spike of interest in the 2011 movie Contagion. Starring Matt Demon, Gwyneth Paltrow and Lawrence Fishburne, the movie follows the outbreak of a deadly virus called MEV-1 and its disastrous impacts on society. Needless to say, in today’s context, Contagion is not a comforting watch. In fact, if the whole Coronavirus situation is already making you anxious, you should probably avoid Contagion. Because it will only make things worse.

In fact, the slogan of the movie is “Nothing spreads like fear” – and that is basically the goal of the movie. To scare and to educate.

In fact, there is nothing entertaining about that movie. It is an educational video. It is an “ultra-realistic” depiction of a massive pandemic outbreak that takes place in real locations and that involves real organizations. Indeed, while the movie was directed by Steven Soderbergh, its narrative was shaped with input from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and various specialists.

To put things in context, the movie came out a couple of years after the H1N1 crisis in 2008. After months of panic and a mass vaccination campaign, some studies showed that the WHO and the CDC grossly overestimated the number of actual H1N1 cases and pushed a vaccine that many deemed unnecessary. A movie like Contagion was a good remedy for this tarnished credibility.

In 2020, the world faces another major epidemic scare and Contagion becomes relevant again. Not only that, but mass media has also been casting a solid spotlight on it.

So, is Contagion accurate? Yes, more than ever. Let’s look at the main themes of the movie and how they are becoming a reality in 2020.

Contagion

The movie begins by showing the various ways a virus can spread across the world in a matter of days.

Soon after, the virus reaches the United States and all hell breaks loose.

In Contagion, the public is depicted as rather idiotic and prone to panic.

In 2020, the coronavirus outbreak causing massive lines in stores as people stockpile various items.

In Contagion, as MEV-1 spreads in the United States, the American government flees to an undisclosed location and “looks for a way of working online”. In real life, the coronavirus scare has already reached the White House as several representatives (including Trump) were reportedly in contact with disease carriers. There are also plans for “working online”.

So, in Contagion, the American government basically goes into hiding and specific organizations take over (which happen to be the organizations that helped to create the movie): The CDC (Center for Disease Control), the WHO (the UN’s World Health Organization), FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), the American Red Cross and the U.S. Army.

Soon after, the State of Minnesota is placed in quarantine.

While, in 2011, the concept of putting entire states in quarantine was a fictional (yet plausible) scenario, it became a reality in 2020. As you might know, the entire country of Italy is currently in lockdown.

In Contagion, things go way further than “containment”. The government declares Martial Law and people are directed to FEMA camps.

Mass Vaccination Campaign

After months of horror, panic, and death, a solution finally arrives: A vaccine.

In 2020, the ultimate solution to eradicate coronavirus will most likely take the form of a vaccine as well.

In Contagion, the vaccine is not only encouraged – it is mandatory.

Those who wear the bracelet are allowed to go to public places such as shopping malls. Those who do not get vaccinated cannot go anywhere and they ultimately die.

And some people refuse to get vaccinated.

As I explained back in 2012, the aim of Contagion was not to entertain but to educate. It lays a blueprint for the process that needs to take place when an epidemic arises: Fear and panic. Breakdown of social order. Control and lockdowns. Social distancing. Mandatory solution and repression of those who oppose it.

While, in 2020, things might not go as far as in Contagion (let’s hope not), the movie mentally prepares people for what could happen. And therein lies the awesome power of mass media to shape and mold society on a global level.

 

Source: Vigilant Citizen

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