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NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping’s special envoy Wang Jiarui (3rd R), who is also vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, meets with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 29, 2017. XINHUA PHOTO
President Xi’s envoy meets Kenyan president Kenyatta

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping’s special envoy Wang Jiarui met with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday, after attending the inauguration ceremony of the Kenyan president in Nairobi on Tuesday.

Wang, vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, said the friendship between China and Kenya enjoys a long history, stressing that the political mutual trust has been increasingly enhanced in recent years.

He went on to say that the bilateral relations are at their best in history, with economic and trade cooperation becoming increasingly close and people-to-people exchange displaying many highlights.

Wang said China is willing to work with Kenya in implementing the fruits of the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, furthering cooperation on the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, and continuously advancing the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership.

On his part, Kenyatta expressed thanks for China’s abundant support and assistance for Kenya in developing its society and economy over the years, saying that Kenya is willing to work with China in advancing the major cooperation projects between the two nations, deepening cooperation on infrastructure construction, poverty reduction and improvement of people’s livelihoods, and increasing exchanges on party and national governance.


Somali forces recapture town in southern Somalia

MOGADISHU, (Xinhua) -- Somali forces on Wednesday recaptured a town in the Lower Shabelle region as the military intensified attacks against the militant group Al-Shabaab.

Gen. Omar Adan Hassan, the April 12 Somalia National Army Brigade commander, told the media the forces launched a major offensive against the militants, capturing Baladul Amin location in Lower Shabelle region.

Hassan added his forces inflicted casualties on the militants who fled the town after the attack.

“Somali forces conducted a morning raid and captured Baladul Amin location this morning which is located in Wanla Weyn in Lower Shabelle region,” Hassan said. “We also killed several militants but I cannot give you more information.”

The latest attack came amid increased military operations in the southern regions of the country, conducted jointly by African Union forces and the Somali National Army.

The allied forces hope to force out the militants ahead of the United Nations Security Council-mandated withdrawal of 1,000 troops next month.

The military operations have forced the militants to flee to central and northern regions.

U.S. forces said on Monday it killed one Islamic State (IS) fighter in Bari region in northeastern Somalia, the second of such attacks on the Abdulqadir Mumin-led faction.

Mumin, a formerly UK-based preacher, declared leadership of IS in Somalia in 2015.


Tunisian troops kill explosive specialist in anti-terror operation

TUNIS, (Xinhua) -- Tunisian troops killed one terrorist and wounded another in the ongoing military operation in west-central region, the Tunisian Ministry of Defense said Wednesday.

The operation in the heights of Kasserine governorate killed Yahya Argoubi, explosive specialist and member of an extremist religious movement in Jendouba governorate in northwestern Tunisia, said the ministry’s spokesman Colonel Belhassen Oueslati.

The wounded terrorist is still on the loose, he added, saying that his blood sample is taken and being examined for his identity.

So far, units of the Tunisian army have been able to seize a Kalashnikov weapon, a landmine ready to explode in addition to a quantity of ammunition.

The last two weeks have been marked by the appearance of a number of armed suspects, who entrenched in the heights of this region and attacked homes of citizens to obtain supplies by force.

According to the spokesperson of the ministry of defense, this operation is a part of a careful security strategy which will protect civilians, their property, and also eradicate this scourge.


Algerian troops bust bunker containing massive weapons

ALGIERS, (Xinhua) -- A bunker full of war weapons has been discovered by Algerian army troops near the border with Mali, the Defense Ministry said in statement on Wednesday.

The bunker was discovered by counterterrorism troops deployed in the southernmost locality of Bordj Badji Mokhtar, on the border strip with Mali, after a routine patrol in the area.

The bunker contained an RPG-7 rocket launcher with two shells and magazines, two 12.7 mm heavy machine guns with a barrel, a firing base, three magazines and five ammunition belts, one PKT heavy machine gun, five Kalashnikov machine guns, 11 ammunition magazines and two Simonov rifles, in addition to a load of explosives and bullets of different calibers.

This operation shows the determination Algerian army to secure the border and thwart any attempt targeting the integrity and security of the national territory, notes the statement.

Located in a region plagued by unprecedented security and political instability, Algeria faces ongoing terrorist threats, as tens of thousands of troops are deployed on eastern and southern border to thwart potential intrusion of militants and arms, amid instability reigning in Mali and civil war hitting Libya. 


5 terrorist suspects arrested in eastern Algeria

ALGIERS, (Xinhua) -- Algerian counter-terrorism troops have arrested 5 terrorist suspects in the province of Jijel, 320 km east of Algiers, defense ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

The 5 individuals were arrested following efficient exploitation of intelligence, the source indicated, adding that they are charged of providing support to terror groups.

The source further added that counterterrorism troops in Boumerdes province, near Algiers, retrieved a Kalashnikov machine gun and ammunition, without providing further details.

Algerian army troops have been conducting wide scale dragging operation in the eastern region of the country, as several terrorists were killed, and many others were captured.

Located in a region plagued by unprecedented security and political instability, Algeria faces ongoing terrorist threats, as tens of thousands of troops are deployed on eastern and southern border to thwart potential intrusion of militants and arms, amid instability reigning in Mali and civil war hitting Libya.   


Tanzanian PM orders arrest of businessmen for using his name to evade tax

DAR ES SALAAM, (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa on Wednesday ordered the east African country’s police chief to arrest two businessmen for allegedly using his name to clear cargo from the Dar es Salaam port without paying taxes.

“You shouldn’t allow someone to come here and tell you that he has been directed by the President or the Vice President or even me to clear his cargo. You should always stick to the laws and procedures,” Majaliwa told port authorities when he paid a surprise visit.

The Prime Minister said two businessmen, owners of NAS Company and Wallmark, reportedly tried to use his name to clear 44 trucks with trailers from the Dar es Salaam port, a move that was aimed at evading paying taxes.

Majaliwa ordered the Inspector General Police Simon Sirro to arrest the duo who imported the trucks from Turkey.

Majaliwa directed the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) to strictly work in accordance with the laws and procedures instead of listening to traders, who sometimes used names of top government officials to try and clear their consignments without paying due taxes.

The prime minister said the traders tried to con port authorities to clear the trucks, which were imported in 2015 from Turkey.

“The owners of the trailers had only paid 30 percent of the bill of lading and they tried to use my name to get exempted,” he said. 


Zambia records slight decrease in crime levels in 2017: police

LUSAKA, (Xinhua) -- Zambia managed to reduce incidences of crime in the first three quarters of the year, the police said on Wednesday.

Kakoma Kanganja, the Inspector-General of the Zambia Police said incidences of crime reduced from 44,771 cases recorded during the same period last year to 44,555, representing a reduction by 216 or 0.48 percent.

The police chief attributed this to continued support from members of the public as the police could not prevent crime on their own.

“For us to sustain this status quo there is need for continued collaboration between the police and the general public as it is not disputable that crime affects everyone irrespective of status in society,” the police chief said in his end of year message.

He urged members of the public to be vigilant as the country approaches the festive season.

The police, he said, have put in place stringent and adequate security measures to ensure that people celebrate their festivities in a more favorable and crime free environment. 


23 killed in clashes in Sudan’s Darfur

KHARTOUM, (Xinhua) -- At least 23 people have been killed in the clashes in Sudan’s Darfur region early this week, a senior Sudanese official announced Wednesday.

On Sunday, armed clashes took place at Mistariha area in North Darfur State between the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), an affiliate of the Sudanese army, and fighters of the Awakening Revolutionary Council (ARC), a tribal body, led by the prominent tribal leader Musa Hilal.

“23 people were killed in the clashes, 14 from the RSF and 9 from the ARC,” Sudan’s State Minister for Defense Ali Mohamed Salem said before the Sudanese parliament Wednesday.

“The rapid support forces have detained 50 ARC members,” the minister added.

On Sunday, the RSF arrested Musa Hilal along with a number of his family members, where they were transported to Khartoum on Monday amid tight security measures.

The minister further noted that Hilal would be presented to a military court after investigations are completed.

Hilal has strongly opposed the recent government campaign for the collection of arms in Darfur despite the fact that he was an ally of the government until very recently.

Hilal refused to surrender ARC’s weapons to the government and opposed the assignment of the arms collection to the rapid support forces.

The government insisted on collecting the arms from all militias and tribes in Darfur so that the weapons would be in the hands of the regular forces only.

Hilal has allied with the Khartoum government to fight rebels in the region since the outbreak of war in 2003.

The West and human rights organization Human Rights Watch blamed Hilal for forming the Janjaweed militias which are accused of committing war crimes in Darfur.

The UN Security Council decided in 2006 to impose sanctions on Musa Hilal and three others, including travel ban and freeze of funds. 


UN agencies condemn attacks on civilians, aid workers in South Sudan

JUBA, (Xinhua) -- The United Nations agencies on Wednesday condemned the killing of 45 civilians including six people working with two NGOs in South Sudan’s northeastern Jonglei State by tribal militia group.

The UN Mission in South Sudan and the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in separate statements described the killings of the civilians from the Dinka tribe by raiders from the rival Murle tribe as horrific.

“I utterly condemn these killings and the abduction of some 60 women and children which accompanied these attacks,” said David Shearer, head of UNMISS who also urged both sides to restrain from further attacks.

“The perpetrators of this violence have undermined the ongoing peace and reconciliation efforts that the UN Mission in South Sudan, UNMISS, has supported in Jonglei,” Shearer added.

The latest attack on the villages of Duk Panyang and Duk Payuel on Monday, came after the two rival pastoral communities signed a peace agreement in May brokered by the First Vice President Taban Deng Gai and UNMISS to end conflict that tend to include child abduction and cattle raids on each other.

“I urge the leaders of both communities to reign in the youth, show restraint and to put an end to the cycle of revenge killings. It is crucial that the national and local authorities support the community leaders and work to bring the perpetrators of all attacks to account,” Shearer added.

During the attack, houses were burnt, and civilian properties looted and destroyed. A health facility managed by an NGO was also looted and vandalized.

There are reports of civilians displaced to the neighboring villages due to the inter-communal fighting, and some children were allegedly abducted by the attackers.

Alain Noudehou, UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, said it’s outrageous that civilians and humanitarians providing assistance continue to be targeted.

“I call on all armed elements to respect civilians and aid workers, wherever they are in the country,” he said in a statement issued in Juba.

Noudehou said the staff killed included health workers and a driver who was delivering material for the hospital. The three critically injured staff members have been evacuated to Juba for further treatment.

“At a time when humanitarian needs have reached unprecedented levels, it is unacceptable that those who are trying to help are being attacked and killed,” Noudehou said.

“For us to continue to provide life-saving relief to the civilians’ suffering, the safety and security of aid workers must be respected, perpetrators must be held to account and senseless cycles of violence must stop,” he added.

The UN relief official said the latest attack brings the number of aid workers killed in South Sudan to 92  since the beginning of the December 2013 crisis, including at least 25 killed in 2017.

South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013 after political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy turned rebel chief Riek Machar led to split within the SPLA, leaving soldiers to fight alongside ethnic lines.

The 2015 peace agreement to end the conflict was weakened after the outbreak of renewed fighting in July 2016 caused the SPLA-in opposition rebel leader Machar to flee the capital. 


Violence against women in South Sudan among highest in the world: survey

By Julius Gale JUBA, (Xinhua) -- Violence perpetrated against women and girls in war-torn South Sudan is among the highest in the world and twice the global average, a new report released on Wednesday reveals.

According to a survey conducted by the International Rescue Committee charity and the George Washington University’s Global Women’s Institute, armed conflict and displacement has intensified violence against women and girls in South Sudan.

The report says up to 65 percent of those interviewed in three regions in the east African nation had experienced either sexual or physical violence in their lifetime.

It says the most common form of violence reported was abuse within the home, committed by husbands or partners.

According to the report, about 33 percent of the women surveyed in Rumbek, a rural town away from the capital, Juba, and those living in UN protection of civilian sites (POCs) in Bentiue and Juba said they had experienced sexual violence from a non-partner, with many incidents directly related to a raid, displacement or abduction.

In the three sites where the household survey was conducted, a total of 2,728 individuals were interviewed: 2,244 women and 481 men. Overall household response rats were 87 percent for women and 86 percent for men. Individual response rate was 89 percent for women and 86 percent for men, according to a summary of the report.

David Miliband, CEO of the International Rescue Committee, said the finding reveals the shocking scale of violence against women and girls in South Sudan, with abuse starting early and continuing throughout much of women’s adult lives.

“This important research shows that we need to rethink the threats that women and girls face in conflict zones. Not only are they at risk of attack from armed men and gangs but, tragically, they are at risk within their own homes, from partners and family members,” Miliband said.

According to the United Nations, gender-based violence (GBV) is persistent and a serious problem in South Sudan as 98 percent of GBV incidents reported in South Sudan in 2016 affected women and girls.

The UN said gender-based violence includes acts such as rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, forced and early marriage that affect women, girls, boys and men.

It said GBV has been fueled by decades of armed conflict, social, cultural and economic factors.

South Sudan has been embroiled in more than three years of conflict that has taken a devastating toll on the people, and creating one of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world.

A peace deal signed in August 2015 between the rival leaders under UN pressure led to the establishment of a transitional unity government in April, but was shattered by renewed fighting in July 2016.

The UN estimates that about 4 million people have been displaced both internally and externally.


Zambian gov’t to consult citizens on abolishing death penalty: official

LUSAKA, (Xinhua) -- The Zambian government said on Wednesday that it will next year consult citizens on whether the death penalty should be left in the country’s statute books or removed.

Minister of Justice Given Lubinda said his ministry’s agenda for next year will also include sensitizing citizens on the need to abolish the death penalty as well as refinement of the country’s constitution.

The Zambian minister was speaking when he held a bilateral meeting with Italian Minister of Justice Andrea Orlando on the sidelines of the 10th International Congress of Justice Ministers in Rome organized by the Italian government whose theme is “A World Without the Death Penalty.”

While acknowledging that the death penalty has remained in the country’s statute books for years, the Zambian minister said no death warrants have been signed by successive presidents since 1997, according to a statement released by the Zambian embassy in Rome.

According to him, successive presidents have relied on the constitutional provisions to grant the prerogative of mercy to convicts on death-row and commuting death sentences to life imprisonments.

“Death penalty in Zambia which is enshrined in the constitution is very topical and Zambia has been for all intents and purposes a de facto abolitionist state,” he said.

On his part, the Italian minister commended the Zambian leaders on its efforts toward abolishing the death penalty.

He said the Italian government was happy that Zambia was making strides in engaging its people in seeing to it that the death penalty was abolished.

Human rights campaigners in Zambia have been calling for the death penalty to be removed from the statute books.

In July 2015, Zambian President Edgar Lungu commuted the sentences of 332 death-row prisoners to life imprisonment. 


Six criminals lynched to death in Mozambique over rape, assault

MAPUTO, (Xinhua) -- Six intruders who broke into homes to rape and assault people were lynched to death by local residents on Wednesday morning in the municipality of Matola, Maputo province in Mozambique.

According to Fernando Manhica, provincial spokesman for the Police of Republic of Mozambique, there were a total of eight gangsters with guns.

“The criminals entered a residence to assault, coincidentally the residents of the neighborhood were patrolling and came across them,” said the spokesman.

The spokesman added that the criminals tried to flee, but the patrollers chased them down and six members of the group were lynched. The other two are still at large.

“The population used sticks, irons and stones to immobilize the gang,” the spokesman said, adding that “the corporation is diligently seeking other members of the group.”

Manhica explained that during the identification of the victims, it was verified that they are criminals that have previously invaded residences in Matola at night.

“Two weeks ago, we had a record of a residence that was assaulted, a 27-year-old householder was shot and died on the way to the hospital,” he said.

Cases of criminals who break homes to steal, rape and kill are frequent on the outskirts of Maputo city.

The population complains that the police have not done enough patrols to reduce crime, so when they catch a criminal they execute lynch by themselves.

The spokesman said that the corporation condemns the attitude of doing justice for its own sake, and urges people to turn over the criminal to the authorities for accountability.

“The capture of the suspects alive is always better because it leads us to other members of the gang,” he concluded.

Cases of lynching are frequent in Mozambique, with a higher incidence in the province of Sofala in central Mozambique.

According to the statistics released in October this year by the National Human Rights Commission of Mozambique, 27 deaths of lynching were recorded in 2016.

“The numbers show that on average there are two lynchings per week in Mozambique. Unfortunately it is a practice of the Mozambican reality,” said the Attorney General of the Republic, Beatriz Buchili, when the data was released.


UN mission facilitates elections in Libya by end of 2018

TRIPOLI, (Xinhua) -- Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) Ghassan Salame said Wednesday that the mission is working on holding elections in Libya before the end of 2018.

Salame made his remarks in a meeting with representatives of tribes, civil society, academics and activists in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.

“We’re working hard to secure right conditions for elections, such as voter registration and bolstering High National Election Commission capacity, in addition to legal, political, security requirements to enable holding the elections, God willing, before end of September 2018,” Salame said.

“The day for solid and final institutions to emerge in Libya is not far; it is a matter of months. We’re close to a stage underpinned by a permanent constitution, general elections and comprehensive reconciliation, which are the three pillars upon which Libya’s future will be built,” Salame explained.

Salame said that the mission is working on bringing Libyans together and achieve reconciliation in Libya through a national conference sponsored by the UN.

“UNSMIL’s groundwork, which many fail to appreciate, is working to overcome fragmentation of the Libyan society, restore cohesion among Libyans through local reconciliation,” he said.

“Now is the time to repair the social fabric. People’s past is theirs alone, but the country’s future owned by your offspring and we’re here to help your children build a bright future,” he added.

Salame proposed an action plan for Libya in September that includes amendment of the current UN-sponsored political agreement, holding a UN-sponsored national conference for all of Libya’s political factions, adopting a constitution, and finally election of a president and a parliament.

Representatives of Libya’s eastern-based House of Representatives and the Tripoli-based Higher Council of State have recently held UN-sponsored negotiation meetings in Tunisia to amend the agreement.

The House of Representatives last week approved a UN-proposed amendment. However, the rival Higher Council of State rejected the amendment, announcing possibility of holding elections within six months to appoint a government of technocrats.

Libya has been struggling to make a democratic transition ever since the uprising of 2011 that toppled former leader Gaddafi’s regime. The country is plagued with political division and unrest.


Libya’s new transit facility for vulnerable refugees welcomed by UN

GENEVA, (Xinhua) -- The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, on Wednesday welcomed the decision by authorities in Libya to set up a “transit and departure facility” in Tripoli for people in need of international protection.

The refugee agency said in a statement from Geneva that the initiative is supported by the Italian government and will facilitate the transfer of thousands of vulnerable refugees to third countries.

“We hope that thousands of the most vulnerable refugees currently in Libya will benefit from this forward-looking initiative,” Roberto Mignone, UNHCR representative to Libya was quoted as saying.

The statement came after UN agency chiefs told the UN Security Council that they are stepping up work to stop grave abuses perpetrated against refugees and migrants along the Central Mediterranean routes, including alleged slave trade in Libya.

Mignone noted that the main objective is to speed up the process of securing solutions in third countries, particularly for unaccompanied and separated children and women at risk.

These solutions will include resettlement, family reunification, evacuation to UNHCR-run emergency facilities in other countries, or voluntary return, as appropriate.

At the facility, UNHCR staff and partners will provide registration and life-saving assistance such as accommodation, food, medical care and psychosocial support.

The initiative is one of a range of measures needed to offer viable alternatives to the dangerous journeys undertaken by refugees and migrants along the Central Mediterranean route.

In September, UNHCR called for an additional 40,000 resettlement places to be made available for refugees located in 15 countries along this route.

So far, only 10,500 pledges have been made and the UN said it would like to see European Union member states and others step up with offers of resettlement places and other solutions, including family reunification slots.


10 defendants referred to Egypt court on IS-linked terror charges

CAIRO, (Xinhua) -- Egyptian Prosecutor General Nabil Ahmed Sadeq referred on Wednesday 10 defendants to the Higher Emergency State Security Court on charges of founding and joining Islamic State (IS) terrorist group, state-run MENA news agency reported.

The defendants also face charges of receiving military exercises at the group’s headquarters outside Egypt and killing a Christian citizen, according to MENA.

They are also charged with attempted murder of citizens, robbing a store owned by a Christian and possessing firearms.

Egypt has been fighting against a wave of terror activities that killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers since the military toppled former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 in response to mass protests against his one-year rule and his currently outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group.

Terror attacks in Egypt used to be centered in North Sinai before spreading nationwide and killing hundreds of policemen and soldiers over the past few years.

On Friday, a terrorist attack against a mosque in North Sinai killed at least 305 Muslim worshippers, including children, and wounded over 120 others.

Although no group has yet claimed responsibility for the mosque attack, fingers are pointed at a Sinai-based group loyal to IS, which has claimed most of the terrorist operations in Egypt over the past few years.

On Wednesday, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi ordered the army’s chief of staff to restore security and stability in the restive part of the Sinai Peninsula within three months.


UN lauds Somaliland elections, urges inclusive politics

MOGADISHU, (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) on Wednesday congratulated Muse Bihi Abdi on his election as president of the breakaway republic of Somaliland after confirmation by Supreme Court on Tuesday.

The UN mission said in a statement issued in Mogadishu commended the political and traditional leaders in Somaliland for resolving the elections-related disputes that emerged.

“UNSOM urges the incoming administration to continue to advance inclusive politics and consolidate democracy, peace and stability among Somalilanders,” it said.

Abdi, from the ruling Kulmiye party, garnered 350,909 votes or 55.1 percent of the total votes cast.

Both international and domestic observers have indicated that the electoral process and the voting itself were conducted in a generally peaceful manner and yielded a credible outcome.

UNSOM said it looked forward to building on the existing relationship with Somaliland based on the agreed roadmap for United Nations support to Somaliland and Somaliland’s Development Plan II.

“UNSOM also stands ready to support the resumption of dialogue between Somalia and Somaliland,” it said. 


125 African migrants arrested in Libya

TRIPOLI, (Xinhua) -- Libya’s Joint Security Chamber of the city of Zliten, some 150 km east of the capital Tripoli, on Wednesday arrested 125 illegal African immigrants before they crossed the sea to Europe, Libyan news agency reported.

“The arrested migrants include 104 men and 21 women from Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and Comoros,” the agency quoted a source as saying.

“The arrested migrants were fully ready to depart. The location where they were staying was raided on Tuesday evening. We transferred all of them to the Zliten illegal immigration center to take necessary legal measures,” the source added.

Due to the insecurity and chaos that followed the 2011 uprising, Libya became a hotspot for migrants wanting to cross the Mediterranean towards European shores, many of whom drown on the way.

Libyan navy announced earlier this week that 31 migrants drowned off western Libyan coast while attempting to reach Europe. 


South Sudan sees progress in curbing maternal deaths amid challenges

JUBA, (Xinhua) -- South Sudan maternal death rates have declined despite ongoing challenges stemming from the more than three years of violence, officials said on Wednesday.

Esperance Fundira, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Country Representative, said South Sudan’s maternal mortality death ratio have decreased from 2,059 since 2006 to 789 per 100,000 live births, which is an improvement following sustained donor support that has seen the number of nurses and midwives rise from 10 to more than 400.

Fundira said in 2012, UNFPA started working with the Ministry of Health (MOH) to implement the Strengthening Midwifery Services Project through the support of the governments of Canada and Sweden.

“South Sudan had less than 10 qualified midwives serving a population of about 10 million. Through the Strengthening Midwifery Services Project, that number has grown to more than 400 today,” she said at the opening of the second annual Nurses and Midwifery conference in Juba.

In 2015, Fundira said the World Bank and the UN came up with new estimates for maternal mortality ratio, which showed maternal deaths have decreased to 789 per 100,000 live births for South Sudan which is an improvement.

She disclosed that there is an ongoing effort now from MOH and other organizations, including UNFPA to conduct a national maternal mortality survey in order to come up with more accurate data to ensure targeted and effective programming to bring maternal and new born deaths down to zero and empower women and girls.

Fundira however acknowledged that there is more work that needs to be done to invest in health professionals, including health facilities improvement, training and education.

UNFPA will continue investing in midwifery and nursing in South Sudan in order to ensure that there is a midwife at every birth and nursing services are brought closer to the people, she added.

The Jubek State Minister of Health Felix Lado, said the ongoing conference will come out with specific objectives for the improvement of service delivery and urged more support toward training of more nurses and midwives at local and national level.

“Training is currently being undertaken at local levels. I appeal to all States to at least open up nurses and midwifery schools because this training in Juba will not be enough. You cannot reach primary health centers in rural areas because the number (of nurses) is very small,” he said.

Janet Michael, Director of Nurses and Midwifery at MOH, said the ongoing conflict has exacerbated health conditions in the war-torn country as the majority of people cannot afford proper health care and meals due to economic hardship.

She blamed the rising number of fistula cases now as high as 89,000 among girls aged between 13-18 years on early marriage as only 680 cases of these have been successfully treated.


Nigerian leader moves to curtail citizens’ illegal migration

ABUJA, (Xinhua) -- Nigerian leader Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday said all necessary steps would be taken by his government to stem the tide of illegal migration by Nigerians.

Buhari, in a statement, vowed to reduce, especially, the number of Nigerians heading for Europe illegally through the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea.

He said the government would do more by providing basic social amenities such as education, healthcare, and food security at home to make those attempting the perilous journey across the Mediterranean Sea change their minds.

On the recent deaths of 26 Nigerians who reportedly died while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea, he said it was very difficult to know the origin of the people who died because of lack of documentation.

“Anybody who died in the desert and Mediterranean without documents; to prove that he is a Nigerian, there is absolutely nothing we can do,” he said. “We are not doing too badly in trying to secure the country, improve the economy and deal with corruption.” 


Kenya, UN seek to eradicate Guinea worm

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Kenya and the UN World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday launched an evaluation process aimed at eradicating Guinea worm disease in the country.

Joel Breman of U.S. department of Health and Human services, who is leading the process, said his team will assess the adequacy of the surveillance system and review records of investigations regarding reported cases of the disease and subsequent actions taken.

“We intend to visit refugee camps, border areas and northwestern Kenya that had the last reported case,” Breman told journalists during launch of the exercise in Nairobi.

Guinea-worm disease is a parasitic disease that is transmitted through drinking stagnant water that has been contaminated with a tiny parasite-infected flea.

Once inside the body, the larvae can mature into worms that grow up to one meter in length and people may develop a fever, swelling and pain in the area where the adult worm is ready to come out.

Cabinet Secretary for Health Cleopa Mailu revealed that Kenya’s first case was reported in 1994 and exotic case in 2005.

He said that Kenya’s certification is long overdue and that the government will accord the team all the necessary support to complete their work successfully.

“The two cases were reported in northwestern part of the country while the rest of the country has no experience of the disease,” Mailu added.

Mailu said that Kenya started guinea worm eradication program in 1989 and has since continued creating awareness and surveillance to detect and contain any imported case.

WHO Country Representative Rudi Eggers said that it will be a significant and historical public health achievement in Kenya and the world if the country is declared free from the disease.

“Guinea worm will be the second human disease ever to have been declared eradicated in Kenya after smallpox and the first human parasitic disease wiped off in the country,” he added.

Eggers cautioned that due to the fact that some of Kenya’s neighbors are still endemic, the country should continue with its effort even after certification until the whole world is declared free from the diseases.

From 3.5 million persons infected with Guinea worm every year in the world in mid 1980s, the number has since reduced to 25 in 2016 and 24 people in 2017. Chad and Ethiopia reported 14 and 10 infections this year.

According to WHO, 186 out of 194 WHO member countries are already certified guinea worm free and only eight countries in the world including Kenya remain to be certified.

Ghana was certified in January 2015 becoming the latest country to be certified while South Sudan, Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are on the pre-certification stage.

To be declared free of guinea worm, a country needs to have reported zero instances of transmission and maintained active surveillance for at least three years afterwards.


Kenya shilling stable amid rising inflows to debt, stock markets

By Bedah Mengo NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- The Kenya shilling was largely stable against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday amid rise in inflows to the debt and stock markets.

The local currency traded at an average of 103.34 against the dollar during the session, similar to the level of Monday.

Tuesday was declared a public holiday, when President Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in for a second term.

The Central Bank of Kenya placed the shilling in the Wednesday trading at 103.35, a slight decline from the previous session’s 103.34.

On the other hand, however, commercial banks quoted the currency Wednesday at a new high of 103.15-103.35, from 103.25-103.45 at the close of Monday.

Forex traders in the financial institutions attributed the stability of the shilling against the greenback to rising inflows from foreigners seeking to invest in the debt and stock markets as the political climate stabilizes.

Against the British pound, the shilling weakened to close at 138.23, down from 137.83 at the end of Monday trading.

Analysts have noted that the shilling should remain relatively stable against the dollar in the short term, supported by calmness in the political front following the conclusion of the presidential elections and the apex bank’s activities in the market, as there are sufficient forex reserves, currently at 7.1 billion dollars or an equivalent to 4.7 months of import. 


Kenya blames air pollution for rise in respiratory diseases

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Air pollution is a major contributor to respiratory diseases in Kenya, a government official disclosed on Wednesday.

Charles Sunkuli, the Principal Secretary Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, said that over eight million Kenyans living in major cities are falling victim due to exposure from harmful emissions from vehicles, industries, use of traditional fuels and kerosene used for cooking and heating.

“Respiratory disease is the leading cause of morbidity in the country currently,” he said during the Second Air Quality annual conference in Nairobi.

Sunkuli said statistics show that diseases of the respiratory system affected 19.9 million people, accounting for 39 percent of the 50.8 million cases of facility based incidence of diseases reported in 2016.

He said 14,300 Kenyans die annually due to conditions attributed to air pollution while plants and agricultural yields are also affected by pollution.

The number of diseases of the respiratory system reported increased by 63 percent over a four year period from 12.2 million in 2012 to 19.9 million in 2016, Sunkuli said.

Sunkuli said the government has initiated a process of developing a National Air Quality Management Strategy (NAQMS) and Action Plan by putting in place an inter-agency committee with different roles and responsibilities in air quality management.

“Kenya may not achieve a clean, secure and sustainable environment by 2030 if the problem of air pollution is not collectively tackled,” Sunkuli said.

Stacey Noel, Africa Center Director, Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) urged air quality experts to explore linkages to policy actions to help reduce respiratory diseases in Kenya.

“It is unfortunate that emissions from Nairobi city are far above the World Health Organization (WHO),” Noel added.

She revealed that the organization intends to support policy makers in Africa to apply air quality research findings that has been generated by different scholars.

Kenya’s economy is highly dependent on its natural resource base and climate-sensitive sectors including agriculture, energy transport, tourism and water, making it highly vulnerable to climate variability and change.

Participants at the conference called for an integrated approach whereby air quality issues are addressed together with climate change mitigation and adaptation actions across all development sectors.

The integrated approach to air quality and climate change will also enable Kenya to meets her international obligations, including the SDGs, the Paris Agreement, and the Stockholm Convention, among others.

The conference is expected to identify priority actions to be carried out in 2018 on data and research, policy and stakeholder engagement, education and public awareness. 


Kenya to begin privatizing ailing state-owned sugar firms

By Ronald Njoroge NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Kenya plans to begin privatizing five ailing state-owned sugar firms to boost the agricultural sector, officials said on Wednesday.

Jacqueline Muindi, acting CEO of the Privatization Commission, told journalists in Nairobi that the government plans to sell a 51 percent stake of South Nyanza Sugar Company, Chemelil, Miwani, Muhoroni, Nzoia sugar factories to strategic investors.

“The qualified firms will come in as strategic investors and bring in the much-needed financial, operational and technical expertise in order to revive the sugar industry,” Muindi said.

She said a strategic partner that has a majority shareholding has every incentive to ensure that they get a return on their investment and in so doing safeguard the interests of other shareholders, including farmers, employees and the government.

“We have... started reaching out to all the stakeholder parties and hope to conclude the engagement process by end of January 2018,” Muindi said.

She said prospective bidders must demonstrate that they have operated in the sugar industry for not less than 10 years and have managed profitable operations for at least five years.

Shortlisted pre-qualified firms will then be given time to undertake their own due diligence before they submit their bids.

According to a study by the Privatization Commission, 645 million U.S. dollars is required to rehabilitate and modernize the sugar factories.

Muindi noted that the commission plans to complete the respective transactions in the next seven to nine months.


China vows to deepen bilateral ties with new Zimbabwe gov’t

HARARE, (Xinhua) -- China on Wednesday voiced its support to the new government in Zimbabwe and vowed to deepen traditional bilateral ties with the southern African country.

Speaking to the media after meeting Zimbabwe’s new President Emmerson Mnangagwa, visiting special envoy of the Chinese government and assistant foreign minister Chen Xiaodong said he delivered a congratulatory message from Chinese President Xi Jinping to Mnangagwa following his assumption of office.

Chen said China would continue to support Zimbabwe’s development path suitable to its conditions and would enhance mutual cooperation, including in the international arena.

He hailed the long standing relations between the two countries, which had stood the test of time and evolving situations in the world.

“China will continue to assist Zimbabwe to the best of its ability in pursuit of economic and social development,” said the special envoy.

“In his message, President Xi emphasized that China is willing to work with the new government in Zimbabwe to move forward bilateral ties and deepen cooperation in various fields for the benefit of the two countries,” Chen added.

President Xi invited Mnangagwa to visit China at a time convenient to both sides while Mnangagwa said China will be the first country he will visit outside Africa, he said.

The Chinese assistant foreign minister said Mnangagwa thanked President Xi for the best wishes on his assumption of duty and conveyed heartfelt thanks to China for its support to Zimbabwe over the years.

“Going forward, the two sides agreed that they are going to develop strategies to ensure cooperation is broadened and deepened to inject more impetus to the development and improvement of livelihoods of the people of Zimbabwe,” Chen said.


West African nations inches closer to regional power market launch

ACCRA, (Xinhua) -- Electricity experts and regulators in West Africa are meeting in Ghana from Wednesday to finalize documents towards the launch of the regional electricity market.

Members the consultative committees of regulators and operators of the sub-region’s Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERERA) are reviewing the draft bloc’s rules on sanctions and enforcement rules for the regional power market.

The phase one of the regional electricity market which is aimed at addressing the twin problems of energy access and energy security in the region was set for launch at the end of 2016 but has been shifted to the first quarter of next year.

When approved and endorsed, both documents will form part of the body of instruments critical to the effective take-off and launch of the first phase of the market in 2018.

The West African region is well-endowed with diverse energy resources to support domestic, industrial and commercial uses.

These resources are, however, unevenly distributed and experts believe it is through regional cooperation and integration of the regional electricity network that the benefits of electricity can be made available to a broad majority of West Africans.

The chairman of the regional electricity regulatory authority, Honore Bogler, said the effective take-off of the market would ensure that West African nations integrated their electricity network and facilitated its trade for the region’s development.

Participants at the meeting believe the regional power market will give true meaning to regional integration.

Angelique Weeks, acting chairperson of the Liberia Electricity Regulatory Commission, said dialogue on the regional electricity market was a means of achieving West African integration.

“To be a true economic community, you need inter-connection of electricity because electricity is at the core of economic development anywhere in the world. And so we are glad to be here to be a part of this regional effort.”


Feature: Egyptian Muslims mark birthday of Islam’s
Prophet Muhammad with special candies

By Emad al-Azrak, Ahmed Shafiq CAIRO, (Xinhua) -- Commemorating the birthday of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad has a special taste is Egypt as Muslims flock to buy special candies and sweets.

The special sweets have been a major feature of Egyptian celebrations of the Prophet’s birthday ever since the Fatimid dynasty launched the tradition in 973 of the Hijri calendar.

Prophet Mohamed’s birthday is observed by Sunni Muslims on the 12th of Rabi’ Al-Awwal, the third month in the Islamic lunar calendar, or on the 17th of the same month by Shiite Muslims.

In Egypt, it falls this year on Friday, December 1st.

Welcoming the occasion, Egyptians decorate streets and homes with colorful lamps and silk cloths and set up tents for Sufi chants and praise the Muslims prophet.

Rich people hold large free banquets for the poor, while thousands gather in mosques for prayers, reciting Quran (Muslims’ Holy Book).

As the anniversary gets closer, shops and streets across Egypt get crowded with distinctive sweets, with customers wondering around to buy the feast’s candies.

Bab al-Bahr Street in Cairo is considered one of the most important and most specialized streets in selling and making this type of candies.

Nowadays, the street is crowded with thousands of Egyptian seeking to get high quality and low-priced candies.

“There is a wide turnout on various types of candy,” Mohammed Ramadan, owner of a candy shop in Bab al-Bahr Street told Xinhua.

“The most popular varieties this year are the beans, sesame and chickpeas candies since their prices are affordable.”

He added that his shop introduces new varieties every year to attract customers. “I want to satisfy all tastes and levels... This season I also have hazelnut, cashew nuts, pistachios and other items.”

He pointed out that the high prices have had a significant impact on sales rates, compared to last year or previous years.

“The turnout has not changed but the quantities purchased are much less than in previous years,” he complained as his eyes rolled in search of customers.

Ramadan noted that the high prices of sweets came as a result of the rise in prices of raw materials, pointing out that this rise is not limited to candies.

During Islam’s early days, the Prophet’s birthday, or Mawlid al-Nabi, wasn’t celebrated.

However, it is currently an official holiday in 47 Muslim countries, spanning from the Middle Eastern to Africa and Malaysia.

Still, the celebrations in Egypt are the largest in the Middle East with Sufi Muslims the biggest devotees of this Holy day.

Some Muslim sects, however, do not observe the Mawlid al-Nabi occasion, such as the Salafis and Wahabis, believing that it must not be celebrated since the Prophet did not celebrate his own birthday during his lifetime.

Not far away from Ramadan’s shop, Mohsen Abu Habbaba, another candy seller, was busy arranging his shop front with his best goods to attract more shoppers.

“I’m keen to provide a variety of different candies to suit all tastes and levels,” he said.

The man added that the price of one kilo of candies starts from 40 Egyptian pounds (1 U.S. dollars=17.70 pounds), while the price of a kilo of jams starts from 65 pounds.

“This year’s turnout is modest compared to last year,” Abu Habbaba told Xinhua. “Some of those who used to buy large quantities to distribute to the poor reduced their request.”

Prices of the festivity’s candies vary according to the geographical area, income and shops. Price of one kilo at shops ranges from 40 to 680 pounds.

“The quality of sweets this year very good, but prices are extremely high,” said 60-year-old Abdel Nasser Abdullah while buying some candies with his 20-year-old daughter.

“In recent years, I used to buy some five to seven kg of candies, but this year I will not buy more than three to four kg due to high prices,” Abdullah told Xinhua.

Egypt, the most populous Arab country, has been suffering economic recession due to political instability and relevant security challenges following two uprisings that toppled two heads of state since 2011.

The turmoil led to a decline in the country’s foreign currency reserves, foreign investments, tourism revenues and others.

Egypt’s current leadership led by President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi is working hard to attract foreign investments despite its ongoing anti-terror war that killed hundreds of policemen, soldiers and civilians over the past few years.

Besides floating its local currency’s exchange rate to face dollar shortage, Egypt started last year a strict three-year economic reform program including austerity measures, fuel subsidy cuts and tax increase.

The program is encouraged by a 12-billion-dollar loan from the International Monetary Fund.



CAIRO, (Xinhua) -- People buy special candies and sweets for the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday celebration at a market in Cairo, Egypt, on Nov. 22, 2017. In Egypt, the birthday of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad falls this year on Dec. 1. As the anniversary gets closer, shops and streets across Egypt get crowded with distinctive sweets, with customers wondering around to buy the feast’s candies. XINHUA PHOTO: AHMED GOMAA

Feature: Dance drama about China’s Grand Canal stuns Egyptian audience

By Marwa Yahya CAIRO, (Xinhua) -- “My eyes and feelings were completely attached to the show, which took me on a magic carpet to taste the beauty of both history and modern life about China’s Grand Canal,” said Yaldiz Gamal, a lady in her 50th, as she watched the Chinese dance drama “To Meet the Grand Canal” in the Opera House of Cairo.

“I’m a big fan of the ballet and drama dance shows, and the main common theme was always focusing on the men and women love stories or the struggle between good and bad in a direct way, but this is the first time for me to watch a very elegant performance, with highly professional dancers to defend a canal and tackle a tough environmental issue,” Yaldiz told Xinhua.

“To Meet the Grand Canal,” which is also scheduled to be performed at Alexandria Opera house on Thursday, is a synthetic presentation and expression of the cultural heritage of the Grand Canal of China.

The canal is the main artery that keeps Chinese nations prosperous. It links five major rivers system of China together, the Haihe River, the Yellow River, the Huaihe River, the Yangtze River and the Qiantang River.

“It is the most complicated and difficult piece I have ever created,” said, Cui Wei, director of the dance drama show.

The toughest part was “no one can display the canal of thousands-year history in one hour and a half,” the director wrote in the booklet distributed before the show has begun.

The Grand Canal, spanning over 2,000 kilometers between Beijing and Hangzhou was listed as a world heritage site in 2014.

The canal was a pillar of the economy, social stability and government function in ancient China, helping the evolution of Chinese culture by enhancing communication between the south and the north.

“For its length and historic importance, the canal was unlike scenery of Jiang Nan’s stream and little bridge; It was a huge project. Therefore, we need collective work of creative artists and cultural preservers from different social regions and cultural identities to make a dance show as an homage to the canal and other world heritages,” the director told Xinhua.

“Based on the common Grand Canal culture of the two countries, the tour to Egypt strengthened humanity exchanges and let both peoples feel proud of their splendid civilization. At the same time, they will allow young people of both countries to write a brand new future,” Cui Wei told Xhinua.

Egypt’s Suez Canal likewise the Chinese Grand Canal locates in the important areas along the line of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

The show will be performed at Corinth canal of Greece as its second leg, then Erie of the United States, Panama Canal, Don-River Canal in Russia.

The Director added that “Meet the Grand Canal” will be in continuous conversation with the world canals to build a culture bridge for exchange with other countries.

“The story expresses love and respect for history and nature,” said Mona, an 18-year-old student in the Cairo-Based Ballet Institute.

“When I saw the excavation work and the digging of the Grand Canal by the dancers, I remembered the pains that my grandfathers have experienced in building the Suez Canal,” Mona added that mingling the history with love, dance and music was unbelievable and signaled how passionate and professional the director is.

The music, customs, colors, backgrounds of the canal, and movements of the dancers were a model for all ballet dancers to watch, learn from and enjoy, Mona added.

The show shed light on the hard work of excavating the canal, passing through prosperous years, then came the pollution which threatened the life of all beauty inside, or surrounding the canal. The last scene of the show brought back hope and happiness after the man-made waterway was cleaned and purified.

“Such a piece of particular significance should be more a cultural event rather than such a dance drama,” said Menna, another ballet dancer, after watching the performance.

The young ballerina told Xinhua “it was my first time to watch Chinese show. I was confused at the beginning because I don’t understand the language, but then the idea was crystal clear through dancing.”

Despite the fact that the show was mainly about environment and pollution, she still saw it as an unforgettable piece of art at all levels.

“I learned today that the value of cultural heritage lies in its essence of being accomplished by people and nature together,” she pointed out.

The music composition and the balanced synchronization of the dancers made her part of the history despite she belongs to modernity, Menna said.

“Combing tradition and modernity, history and future, nature and the big love, everyone can feel that the show is not merely meant to depict a canal but it mirrored development and integrity of the people for building and advancing their societies,” the young girl expressed her feelings while making some simple ballet movements.


Sisi says Egypt keen to enhance ties with Russia

CAIRO, (Xinhua) -- Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi said Wednesday Egypt is keen on enhancing relations with Russia at all levels, especially in the military domain, official MENA news agency reported.

Sisi’s comments came during his meeting with visiting Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu.

The Middle East is confronting different challenges, atop of which comes terrorism, Sisi said.

The Egyptian President also noted that the current situation requires enhancing joint cooperation to overcome these challenges and restore stability in the region.

For his part, Shoigu said that his country backs Egypt in its fight against terrorism.

Egypt has been fighting against a wave of terror activities that killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers since the military toppled former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 in response to mass protests against his one-year rule and his currently outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group.

Terror attacks in Egypt used to be centered in North Sinai before spreading nationwide and killing hundreds of policemen and soldiers over the past few years.

On Friday, a terrorist attack against a mosque in North Sinai killed at least 305 Muslim worshippers, including children, and wounded over 120 others.

Although no group has yet claimed responsibility for the mosque attack, fingers are pointed at a Sinai-based group loyal to IS group, which has claimed most of the terrorist operations in Egypt over the past few years. 


Interview: Arab films promising, steps away
from world top level: Hollywood filmmaker

By Mahmoud Fouly CAIRO, (Xinhua) -- The Arab cinema is promising but it needs hark work and self-development to reach a better world status, said filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad, director of 2017 Hollywood movie “The Mountain Between Us,” in an interview with Xinhua in Cairo.

The Golden Globe award winning, Palestinian-born director has been chosen as member of the jury panel of the ongoing 39th Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) and his movie starring Kate Winslet and Idris Elba has been selected as the festival’s opening film.

“The CIFF is very important internationally and locally,” said Abu-Assad, lamenting that a technical problem on the part of the festival made him withdraw his movie from the first few minutes of its display in the opening night, amid apologies from CIFF officials.

“There was a technical problem when my film was screened in the opening night, which I believe is a minor issue. The next day, those in charge of the festival corrected the issue and I was happy with that. So, it’s all good now and everyone is happy,” said the Arab filmmaker.

He continued that the Arab cinema should reach to the Arab audience first before it reaches to the world, noting that Arabs generally like to watch entertainment movies rather than those with intellectual, social or cultural effects.

“But I am very optimistic, as there are really new thoughtful self-connected Arab moviemakers who can make constructive films that reach broad audience, which is something promising,” he told Xinhua.

Abu Assad, famous for his “Paradise Now,” added that there are creative Egyptian filmmakers who could take the Egyptian cinema to a higher level, expressing admiration of the works of Amr Salama who directed “Sheikh Jackson” and Mohamed Diab who is known for his directorial debut “Cairo 678.”

With regards to “The Mountain Between Us,” where Winslet and Elba play two strangers who survive a plane crash that unfortunately happens atop a mountain, Abu-Assad said the choice of the stars was done after a lot of discussions and meetings with the production company and that he recommended Winslet and Elba after he saw them side by side at a ceremony of the British Academy Film Awards.

“The film is a unique experience for me, because it is so difficult for any filmmaker, not only an Arab, to convince a large studio that he is a good director who can run large crews, large budgets and movie stars,” he told Xinhua, adding “it requires long experience as a director in the cinema industry, so I feel it is an accomplishment in my career.”

He noted that the plane crash was a very difficult scene as it was done in one continuous shot, “but it was very well done and I am very happy with it. I also like the shot after the crash when the man got out of the plane and first saw the surroundings.”

Abu-Assad pointed out that his name started to ring a bell in Hollywood not only because of “Paradise Now” but also “Omar” and even those less popular movies like “The Idol.”

“A Hollywood studio reviews all the filmmaker’s past films for assessment to make sure their work with him will turn out good. They decide to choose the filmmaker after a thorough study, not by judging one or two films,” he told Xinhua.

The renowned Arab director explained that dealing with actors like Winslet and Elba was difficult in the beginning, because superstars have their own privacies and special ways of treatment, “but I could easily overcome that and brake the ice so we could communicate on an equal footing, and our cooperation was really so fruitful.”

As for the Chinese cinema, Abu-Assad said it has greatly developed over the past four decades to secure a better place in the world cinema industry, adding that some Chinese directors managed to raise the Chinese cinema to an international level.

“Filmmakers play a very important role in featuring their world to the other world, and some Chinese directors even influenced us as non-Chinese filmmakers. One of those creative Chinese filmmakers is Zhang Yimou of the ‘Rise of the Red Lantern,’” the Arab, Hollywood director told Xinhua. 

CAIRO, (Xinhua) -- Filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad, director of 2017 Hollywood movie “The Mountain Between Us,” receives an interview with Xinhua in Cairo, Egypt, on Nov. 28, 2017. The Arab cinema is promising but it needs hark work and self-development to reach a better world status, said Hany Abu-Assad on Tuesday. XINHUA PHOTO: AHMED GOMAA

Morocco king holds historic talks with South African president in Abidjan

RABAT, (Xinhua) -- Morocco’s King Mohammed VI met Wednesday in Abidjan for the first time with President of South Africa Jacob Zuma on the sidelines of of the 5th African Union-European Union Summit.

“During this warm and open meeting, the two heads of state agreed to work together for a promising future, especially as Morocco and Africa South are two important poles of political stability and economic development, respectively in the extreme north and the extreme south of the continent,” MAP news agency said in a report.

“They also agreed to maintain direct contact and to launch a fruitful economic and political partnership in order to build strong, lasting and stable relations and to go beyond the situation that had characterized bilateral relations for decades,” the report said.

In this regard, the king and President Zuma have decided to raise the level of diplomatic representation through the appointment of high-level ambassadors in Rabat and in Pretoria, it noted.

The relationships between the two countries have been tense for decades over conflicting views on many issues, on top of which Western Sahara issue.

The move comes as part of Morocco’s new policy of opening on other African nations since its decision to rejoin the African Union after 33 year of absence. 

ABIDJAN, (Xinhua) -- Guinean President Alpha Conde (R, front) and President of Cote d’Ivoire Alassane Ouattara (L, front) attend the opening ceremony of the 5th African Union-European Union Summit in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, on Nov. 29, 2017. The 5th African Union-European Union Summit started on Wednesday in Abidjan, economic capital of Cote d’Ivoire, with “investing in youth for a sustainable future” as its theme. XINHUA PHOTO: LYU SHUAI

Roundup: Experts say China’s foreign policy provides opportunities for Africa

KAMPALA, (Xinhua) -- As China pursues in its foreign policy the notion of “building a community with a shared future for mankind,” analysts said this provides a catalyst for African development.

“It is not a monopoly of the haves, but is a shared vision for the have nots,” Fredrick Gume, Uganda’s minister of trade, industry and cooperatives told Xinhua on Tuesday.

Zheng Zhuqiang, Chinese ambassador to Uganda, said that the new foreign policy seeks deeper cooperation between China and other countries.

“We will widen the spheres of cooperation and this means more opportunities for African countries,” he said.

He said the Seventh Forum for China-Africa Cooperation will be held next year and is expected to discuss foreign policies in relation to African development.

“We hope African countries can grow together with us to realize different dreams. China has Chinese dreams, Africa has African dreams. No one in this world can realize dreams individually,” he said.

Basil Ajer, an official at Uganda Investment Authority, a Ugandan state-run organization in charge of attracting investment, said Africa should utilize China’s redefinition of internationalism to boost its development.

African countries need to learn from China by having consistent policies backed by research, Ajer said. Through research and planning, China moved away from a controlled economy to a free economy which has accelated its development.

Ajer noted that similarly Africa should have plans that span a period of over 50 years. He said these plans backed by research must be followed and implemented.

Gume said now that China is willing to help other countries grow with it, there should be a mechanism for setting up industries in Africa.

He said what Africa now needs is to add value to its products. This can be achieved by building factories on the continent.

“We want investors to come here and add value to what is produced,” the minister said, noting that Africa should not continue exporting raw materials.

He said setting up factories in Africa means more jobs created and foreign exchange earned from exports of finished products.


Zimbabwe pull out of Cecafa tournament

KAMPALA, (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe pulled out of the Council for East and Central African Football Associations (Cecafa) Senior Challenge Cup, a top official said on Wednesday.

Nicholas Musonye, Secretary General of Cecafa said they received communication from the Zimbabwe FA that they have pulled out the team.

Zimbabwe together with Libya had been invited as guests for the event that will also attract defending champions Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Zanzibar, Burundi, Ethiopia and South Sudan.

Libya also pulled out of the tournament.

Musonye said they will adjust the fixture accordingly and go ahead with the tournament. 




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