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Monday, January 31, 2011
Imagine African leaders tackling African Crisis at AU Summit! Who is the problem in the first place?
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This summary is prepared by the External Affairs Department of the World Bank. All material is taken directly from published and copyright wire service stories and newspaper articles. The daily summary and other news can be found on the World Bankís external website at http://www.worldbank.org/news. For inquiries call (202) 473-7660 or send a written request to the News Bureau.
African Leaders Tackle Continent's Crises At Summit. ìAfrican leaders sought consensus Sunday on a fresh strategy to resolve Ivory Coast's protracted political crisis and tackle other continental trouble spots at the African Union (AU) summit in the EthiopiaÖ.The summit is also expected to discuss the political turmoil in TunisiaÖ [and] the deadly protests in EgyptÖ.î [Agence France Presse/Factiva]
The Nation notes that ìÖthe AU has retreated from its earlier position on a possible military intervention in Ivory Coast if the incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo does not hand over to Alassane OuattaraÖ. Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the AU mediator in the Ivory Coast crisis, said they would pursue a negotiated settlementÖ.î [The Nation (Kenya)]
FT adds that ìÖthe summit decided to name a panel of five African leaders to review the causes of the crisis and find a legally binding settlement to break the deadlock within a month. Jean Ping, the AU chairman, said military force, which West African countries led by Nigeria have threatened, would be a ëlast resort.íÖî [Financial Times]
Meanwhile, Reuters reports that ìÖEquatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo replaced Malawi's leader as AU chairman on SundayÖ.Obiang told a packed hall he would work to achieve economic development in Africa.
Equatorial Guinea has emerged from relative obscurity over the past decade to become a top five sub-Saharan African oil producerÖ.But rights groups have accused the former Spanish colony of mismanaging its oil reserves, with billions of dollars benefiting the elite rather than the peopleÖ.î [Reuters/Factiva]
Egyptian Political Crisis Starts To Be Felt Economically. ìAn army tank stands guard at the port of Alexandria to make sure no one gets in. The bigger problem is that next to nothing is going out. For four days now, containers arriving on ships have been stacking up at Egyptís largest port, shipping company employees and truck drivers said. With distribution networks barely functioning and the Internet down since Thursday night, much of business in Egypt has nearly ground to a haltÖ.î [The New York Times]
The Wall Street Journal adds that ìÖthe Egyptian economy is relatively small, with total output of just about $217 billion last year. But the nation carries outsize importance as home to the Suez Canal, a key shipping route for oil and other products between the Red Sea and Mediterranean. Apart from oil, about 8 percent of the world's seaborne trade passes through the Suez canal, according to Egyptian government figuresÖ.î [The Wall Street Journal]
AFP writes that ìÖrating agency Moody's said Monday it had downgraded Egypt's debt rating by one notch to Ba2, with a further downgrade possible in the medium termÖ.The ratings agency added that it was concerned over ëdeep-seated political and socio-economic challenges. These include a chronic high rate of unemployment, elevated inflation and widespread poverty. These, together with a desire for political change, have fueled popular frustrations.íÖî [Agence France Presse/Factiva]
Meanwhile, Reuters reports that ìÖPresident Hosni Mubarak ordered his new cabinet on Sunday to preserve subsidies, control inflation and provide more jobs, state television reportedÖ.î [Reuters/Factiva]
However, Al Jazeera adds that ìÖEgyptian protesters have called for a massive demonstration on Tuesday in a bid to force out Mubarak from power. The so-called April 6 Movement said it plans to have more than a million people on the streets of the capital CairoÖ.Protesters seem unfazed by Mubarak's pledge to institute economic and political reforms.Öî [Al Jazeera]
Op-Ed: Three Lessons Arab Leaders Can't Ignore. In an opinion piece published in The Guardian, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Vice President Marwan Muasher writes, ìThe Arab world is abuzz with the lessons of the Tunisian unrest and which country is most likely to be the "next Tunisia". It's essential that Arab leaders draw the right lessonsÖ. Although the wave of protests was set off by economic complaints, it's wrong to think that it was all about the economy ñ the true threat to stability in the Arab world is poor governanceÖ.
There are three unavoidable lessons that Arab leaders can't ignore. The first is that it is easy to point the finger at high prices and unemployment as the principal reasons for the protests, but it's not that simpleÖ.Real solutions need to improve democratic and political rights, fight corruption, and defend the rule of law. The second point that everyone needs to realise is that no country is safe ñ all Arab countries are under threatÖ.And the last lesson is that old arguments
rationalising tight controls on politics to keep Islamists from gaining power are fundamentally underminedÖ.
The question now becomes whether or not the Arab world will learn from exampleÖ.The thing that ties it all together is the low quality of governance. Unless Arab leaders, who so far are reluctant to give up their absolute power and lives of privilege, take immediate steps to improve democratic and political rights, the Arab world is destined for more crises.î [The Guardian (UK)]
South Sudan Chooses To Secede: Official Results. ìClose to 99 percent of south Sudanese chose to secede from the north in a landmark January 9-15 referendum, according to the first complete preliminary results announced on Sunday. Earlier partial results had put the outcome of the vote beyond doubt but official figures were announced publicly for the first time during a ceremony attended by President Salva Kiir in the southern capital JubaÖ.î [Agence France Presse/Factiva]
Reuters adds that ìÖKiir, the head of the former southern rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), praised his former foe, Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, for agreeing to the 2005 accord. ëOmar al-Bashir took the bold decision to bring peace. Bashir is a champion and we must stand with him,í said KiirÖ.íThe project has not finished ... We cannot declare independence today,í he added. According to the terms of the accord, south Sudan will be able to declare independence on July 9, pending any legal challenges to the resultsÖ.î [Reuters/Factiva]
AP reports that ìÖUN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised the conduct of the election, but said much still needed to be done. ëWe are still very much concerned about post-referendum issues ñ border security, citizenship, wealth sharing, demarcation, popular consultations in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States, and most importantly the status of Abyei,í he saidÖ.î [Associated Press/Factiva]
Philippines Posts Record Economic Growth. ìThe Philippine economy grew at its fastest pace last year since democracy was restored more than two decades ago, expanding 7.3 percent on the back of a global upswing, the government said Monday. The growth is a fillip for President Benigno Aquino's new government as it seeks to attract more foreign investment and enable the long underperforming economy to catch up with its fast-developing Asian neighbours, analysts saidÖ.î [Agence France Presse/Factiva]
Dow Jones adds that ìÖgross domestic product expanded by 7.1 percent in the October-December quarter from the year-earlier period, the National Statistics Coordination Board reported Monday. Compared to the previous quarter, fourth-quarter growth was up 3.0 percentÖ.î [Dow Jones/Factiva]
AP writes that ìÖhead of the government's statistical board Romulo Virola said the growth surpassed official growth projections of 5 percent to 6 percent. The economy grew only 1.1 percent in 2009, hit by the global financial crisis. The government projected growth of 7 percent to 8 percent for 2011. Virola said expansion in industry supported by growth in the services sector propelled the economy in the first halfÖ.î [Associated Press/Factiva]
Also in This Edition, Briefly NotedÖFrench President Nicolas Sarkozy told singer-activist Bono Sunday that he will spearhead efforts to force companies extracting raw materials in Africa to say how much they pay local regimes. [Agence France Presse/Factiva]
Chadha Agro Plc, one of India's giant operators in agro business, is set to get hold of land twice the size of Addis Ababa to invest in what has already become a popular field for foreign investors and a priority area for the government of Ethiopia. [BBC News]
Emerging market countries such as Brazil and Argentina must take a stronger position against ëcompetitive depreciations,í Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff told Argentine newspaper Pagina 12 on Sunday. [Reuters/Factiva]
The Asian Development Bank will lend India $7.4 billion to mostly fund projects to develop the country's shabby infrastructure that is hurting growth in Asia's third-largest economy. [Dow Jones/Factiva]
India's environment ministry approved on Monday South Korean POSCO's plans for a $12 billion steel mill, a boost for the foreign investment climate after several setbacks for big ticket industrial projects. [Reuters/Factiva]
The Japan International Cooperation Agency is organizing group tours to visit its overseas activities apparently in a bid to brush up its image following a sharp rebuke from Japan's administrative reformers that its work does not reflect the needs of developing countries. [Kyodo/Factiva]
Timor-Leste's President Jose Ramos Horta said that the UN Police will hand over responsibility for security to the Timorese National Police (PNTL) in the next three months, Diario Nacional reported on Monday. [Xinhua/Factiva]
The Afghan government and the UN on Sunday agreed to stop underage recruitment by the Afghan security forces and stem a range of violations against children in the conflict. [Agence France Presse/Factiva]
The Doha round of global trade talks will perish if not completed this year, warns a new report coauthored by Peter Sutherland, the first-ever director of the World Trade Organization. [Dow Jones/Factiva]
In his third annual letter, issued Monday, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation co-chairman Bill Gates says he feels a responsibility to speak up for the world's poorest because they're likely to be hit hard as economic woes force governments to reduce contributions to foreign aid. [Associated Press/Factiva]