Leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have adopted the recommendations of its mediator in Mali and Nigeria’s former President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, concerning the lifting of economic sanctions on the country.
in a document obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Abuja, Jonathan’s six-point recommendations was adopted after his presentation to ECOWAS leaders at the 61st Ordinary Summit in Accra Ghana on Monday.
Jonathan’s recommendations were expected to pave the way for the implementation of a new 24 month transition period and the final resolution of Mali’s protracted sociopolitical crisis.
Jonathan had in a briefing last weekend recommended to the authority of Heads of State and Government to lift the economic and financial sanctions imposed on Mali.
This came after Mali’s military rulers proposed a 24-month transition to democracy to terminate in March 2024 and enacted a new law for its implementation.
In adopting the mediator’s six-point recommendations on the way forward in Mali the ECOWAS leaders in the communique issued in Accra after the 61st Ordinary Summit pronounced that the sanctions would be lifted immediately.
The outgoing ECOWAS Commission President Jean Claude Kassi Brou told a news conference in Accra that following the directive for the lifting of the sanctions, borders with Mali would be reopened and regional diplomats would return to Bamako.
Brou, however, stated that the heads of state decided to maintain individual sanctions, which targeted members of the ruling junta and the transitional council as well as the suspension of Mali from ECOWAS institutions, until the return to constitutional rule.
According to Brou, Malian authorities have taken steps in passing the electoral accord and in setting up a monitoring mechanism for transition.
He said that the authorities had also taken steps to prepare a new constitution for the country.
Jonathan who was appointment in 2020 as mediator in Mali has made frequent trips to Bamako to engage the military authorities and encourage them to initiate and successfully complete a programme of transition to democratic rule.
Just before the summit Jonathan visited the country to hold further consultations with the authorities and assess the measures already taken and their commitment to resolutely advance the process of returning the country to constitutional rule.
Some of the mediator’s six recommendations which were adopted by the leaders include recognising the steps taken by Mali towards the restoration of constitutional rule and lifting the financial and economic sanctions reimposed in January 2022.
Others include working with the international community and Mali’s development partners to extend technical, material and financial support necessary for the successful completion of the electoral process as well as welcome the steps
Johnathan, speaking at the ECOWAS 61ST ordinary summit of the authority of heads of state and government Accra, GHANA on Monday, recalled that after ECOWAS Extraordinary Summit held on 4 June, said there were clearly reflective of Mali’s commitment to decisively move forward the process of returning the country to constitutional rule with the support of ECOWAS and other partners.
Jonathan, who said that he had remained in close contact with the ECOWAS-mandated Transition Local Follow-up Committee, said that the Mali authorities briefed him on the steps they had taken since the Summit to pave the way for the organization of elections.
This according to him followed the proposal and plea that the Transition would be brought to an end by March 2024, at the latest.
“Subsequent to these consultations, additional measures were taken that consolidated the progress made.
“In this respect, I would like to highlight the adoption of the draft electoral law by the National Transitional Council (CNT) on June 17 and its promulgation on 24 June.
“It establishes the Independent Authority for the Management of Elections (AIGE), whose membership will also include representatives of political parties and civil society.
“The process for the appointment of members and operationalization of its structures at national and local levels is expected to be completed by early August.”
Jonathan disclosed that the electoral law, which is a central piece of legislation for holding elections, was widely welcomed by both the political class and the signatory movements to the 2015 Peace and Reconciliation Agreement.
“This is significant given the level of polarization that has characterized Mali’s political landscape in recent months,” Jonathan said.
He added that further legal work was planned, including on the country’s administrative reorganization, the political parties’ charter, and on equal access to the media and on the redistribution of the seats at the National Assembly.
Jonathan said that throughout the discussions, both the Transition President and the Ministers emphasized their commitment to ensure full return to constitutional rule by March 2024.
“They also expressed their expectation that, once an agreement is reached with ECOWAS, the sanctions imposed on Jan. 9, 2022 will be lifted,” Jonathan said.
He, therefore, recommended that the Summit: welcome the steps taken by Mali towards the restoration of constitutional rule and urge the Transition authorities to stay the course, keeping in mind that the Transition shall in no way extend beyond March 2024;
He also recommended the Summit agree with the proposed robust monitoring mechanism as supplemented by regular visits of the Mediator and the reactivation of the Transition Monitoring and Support Group;
“Consider lifting the financial and economic sanctions imposed on 9 January 2022, while the subsequent lifting of Mali’s suspension from ECOWAS and of the individual sanctions would be contingent upon further progress against the electoral chronogram;
“Urge the Malian authorities, building on initial steps taken, to promote consensus and inclusivity throughout the electoral and reform process and create conditions conducive to credible and transparent elections;
“Call on all of Mali’s Development Partners to extend the technical, material and financial support necessary for the successful completion of the electoral process, and request African countries from within and outside the region to contribute to the funding of the electoral process in the spirit of African solidarity;” among others(NAN)
UNICEF Awards $170m Malaria Vaccine Contract to GSK
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has awarded a contract for the first ever supply of a malaria vaccine to GSK with a value of up to 170 million dollars.
Newsmen report that GSK plc, formerly GlaxoSmithKline plc, is a British multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company with global headquarters in London, England. Established in 2000 by a merger of Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham.
UNICEF in a statement issued from New York on Tuesday said the landmark award would lead to 18 million doses of RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) being available over the next three years, potentially saving thousands of lives every year.
In 2020, nearly half a million children died from malaria in Africa alone, a rate of one child death per minute.
Etleva Kadilli, Director of UNICEF’s Supply Division said the vaccine rollout would give a clear message to malaria vaccine developers to continue their work because malaria vaccines are needed and wanted.
“We hope this is just the beginning. Continued innovation is needed to develop new and next-generation vaccines to increase available supply, and enable a healthier vaccine market.
“This is a giant step forward in our collective efforts to save children’s lives and reduce the burden of malaria as part of wider malaria prevention and control programmes.”
According to WHO data, more than 30 countries have areas with moderate to high malaria transmission, where the vaccine could provide added protection against malaria to over 25 million children each year once supply scales up.
The RTS,S malaria vaccine is the result of 35 years of research and development and is the first-ever vaccine against a parasitic disease. The vaccine acts against Plasmodium falciparum, the most deadly malaria parasite globally and the most prevalent in Africa.
In 2019, pilot routine vaccine use was launched in three countries – Ghana, Kenya and Malawi – as part of the Malaria Vaccine Implementation Programme coordinated by WHO.
The experience and evidence generated by the pilots informed WHO’s recommendation in October 2021 for widespread use of the first malaria vaccine in countries with moderate to high P. falciparum malaria transmission.
Soon after, in December 2021, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance’s decision to provide funding for malaria vaccine programmes in eligible countries opened the pathway for broader roll-out of the vaccine.
“We recently opened the first application window for Gavi support in rolling out the malaria vaccine.
“Thanks to UNICEF’s procurement work, we now have more certainty on supply and can move a step further towards getting this life-saving vaccine to the people who need it the most.
“As manufacturing ramps up over time, we hope that increasing volumes will also lead to more sustainable, lower prices,” Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said.
Dr Kate O’Brien, WHO Director of the Department of Immunisation, Vaccines and Biologicals said lives are at stake, every day.
“WHO welcomes the progress to secure supply and timely access to vaccine so that more countries can begin to introduce this additional malaria prevention tool as rapidly as possible.
“Given the initial limited supply, it is crucial that children living in areas where the risk of disease and need is highest are prioritised first.”
This award is the culmination of 18 months of intensive preparation and consultation with industry and partners.
As the largest buyer of vaccines in the world, UNICEF accelerated action to conclude procurement negotiations, to ensure there are no delays in securing available supplies of the malaria vaccine to help protect vulnerable children.
Demand for the malaria vaccine is expected to be high among affected countries. As with any new vaccine, supply will be limited at first and will increase over time as manufacturing capacity ramps up to the level required.
As volumes increase, costs per dose should decrease. Plans are already underway to boost production, including through technology transfer, so that every child at risk will one day have the opportunity to be immunized against this killer disease.
“We must not lose sight of the need to accelerate access to this and future malaria vaccines, and to make the necessary investments in malaria control and immunization services, as well as in research and development.
“Effective malaria and immunization programs are both key to the successful delivery of a malaria vaccine and contribute to stronger health systems overall,” Dr Ashley Birkett, Global Head of Malaria Vaccines and Biologics at PATH, said.
UNICEF supports the regional diversification of vaccine production and encourages GSK and other pipeline manufacturers to consider partnering with companies in Africa as part of this effort. (NAN)
Senior Kenyan Election Officials Disown Results of Presidential Election
The planned announcement of the Kenyan presidential election results on Monday descended into chaotic scenes after the deputy chairperson of the election commission and three other commissioners disowned the presidential election results.
“We are not able to take ownership of the results that will be announced,’’ Juliana Cherera, the deputy chairperson of the electoral commission told a media briefing at a different venue from where the announcement was to be made.
Diplomats and international election observers were whisked out of the tallying hall where the chairman of the electoral commission was preparing to announce the presidential results.
Meanwhile, Deputy President, William Ruto, appears to be leading a tight presidential race against opposition leader, Raila Odinga, on Monday as Kenyans awaited final results of the election held nearly a week ago.
However, Kenya has a history of post-poll violence and slow progress by the electoral commission in tallying Tuesday’s vote has fed fears that the election will be disputed, leading to bloody scenes like those that followed presidential polls in 2007 and 2017. (NAN)
Severe Drought Displaces More Than 1m Somalis – UN
The number of drought-related displacements has surpassed one million to hit 1,002,796 people in Somalia since January 2021, the United Nations (UN) humanitarian agency said.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said some 83,518 people were displaced in July by drought, a 26 per cent decrease compared to the previous month.
The UN agency on June 24 appealed for 993.
The OCHA said the impact of the drought and increasing economic pressures are deepening the severity of needs and driving the country to the brink of famine. (Xinhua/NAN)
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