AFP Plans Job Cuts To Strengthen Finances – CEO

In this file photo of The CEO of Agence France-Presse, Fabrice Fries announced, on October 4, 2018, during the administrative board, a plan to cut 125 jobs over five years, without forced departures, as part of a ‘transformation plan’.Photo: JOEL SAGET / AFP

Agence France-Presse’s chief executive announced plans on Thursday to cut 125 jobs over five years, saying the measure was necessary in order to stabilise the agency’s finances.

The cuts would affect some five percent of overall staff positions in the Paris-based world news agency.

Chief executive Fabrice Fries announced the plan at a meeting of the agency’s governing board.

He said the measures would not include compulsory layoffs.

Instead, 160 retiring staff will not be replaced, while the number of new employees over the period will be limited to 35.

The cuts will be spread over the editorial, technical and administrative departments.

The measures are part of what Fries called a “transformation plan” which aims to balance the agency’s books by 2021.

AFP management says that if it does not rein in costs, the agency’s operating deficit will swell to 90 million euros ($104 million) over the next five years.

It aims to cut costs by 16.5 million euros in 2023, mostly by reducing staff numbers.

Fries took over as chief executive in April after his predecessor resigned.

He has vowed to boost sales by 30 million euros over five years, chiefly by investing in video and photo production.

AFP employs nearly 2,300 people in 151 countries.

AFP

US Condemns Arrests Of AFP Reporter, Others At Sudan Demo

The United States condemned Sudan’s arbitrary detention of journalists Friday after an AFP reporter and two colleagues were arrested covering a street protest.

Abdelmoneim Abu Idris Ali of Agence France-Presse and at least two more journalists were taken away by authorities on Wednesday as they reported on a demonstration against rising food prices.

They have not been allowed contact with their families or employers and authorities say they are being held “for investigation” by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).

“We are aware of the detentions and are closely following the reports,” US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told AFP.

“We condemn the harassment, arbitrary detention and attacks on journalists in Sudan who are doing their jobs and exercising their fundamental right to freedom of expression.”

The United States has had difficult relations with Sudan, on which it once imposed several economic sanctions regimes over its alleged support for terrorism and brutality against the people of Darfur.

But last year US officials removed the last of the sanctions as part of a deliberate diplomatic engagement process.

Concerns remain, however, about the regime of Omar al-Bashir, who is under indictment by the International Criminal Court accused of ordering mass killings, rape and torture in the Darfur region.

“We remain deeply concerned about freedom of expression, including for members of the media, the closing of political space for all Sudanese, and Sudan’s poor overall human rights record,” Nauert said.

“We continue to press Sudan to improve its performance in these areas, and to ensure that those detained are treated humanely and fairly… and that they are allowed access to legal counsel and their families.”

Idris Ali, a 51-year-old who has worked for AFP for nearly a decade, was covering protests Wednesday in the city of Omdurman, where riot police fired tear gas at some 200 protesters.

He was unreachable after the protest and authorities informed AFP the next day that he had been arrested along with two other journalists.

Authorities initially said Idris Ali would be released within hours but as of late Friday, more than 48 hours after he was detained, he was still being held.

“AFP management strongly condemns the arrest of Mr. Idris Ali and asks Sudanese authorities for his immediate release,” the agency said.

Food shortages 

Several protesters were also reported to have been detained at the demonstration.

Sporadic protests have erupted across Sudan after prices of food, notably bread, surged following a jump in the cost of flour due to a shortage of wheat.

Wednesday’s rally was called by the main opposition Umma Party, a day after a similar demonstration organized by the Communist Party in Khartoum was broken up by police.

Authorities cracked down on similar protests in 2016, and rights groups say dozens were killed by security forces in 2013 protests.

Critics have long accused Khartoum of persecuting the media, with watchdog Reporters Without Borders ranking the country 174th out of 180 countries in its 2017 World Press Freedom Index.

AFP

AFP, Reuters Journalists Detained For Covering Sudan Protests

FILE PHOTO

Journalists working for Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Reuters were among three reporters being held by Sudanese authorities on Thursday a day after they were arrested covering demonstrations against rising food prices that were dispersed by police.

Abdelmoneim Abu Idris Ali, a 51-year-old who has worked for AFP in Khartoum for nearly a decade, was covering the protests on Wednesday in the Sudanese capital’s twin city of Omdurman, where riot police fired tear gas on some 200 protesters.

Idris Ali was unreachable after the protest and authorities informed AFP on Thursday that he had been arrested along with two other journalists, including one working for Reuters, and was being held at a detention centre run by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).

Authorities initially said Idris Ali would be released within hours but as of late Thursday, more than 24 hours after he was detained, he was still being held.

Authorities said the three journalists “are being investigated” but provided no further details.

“AFP management strongly condemns the arrest of Mr. Idris Ali and asks Sudanese authorities for his immediate release,” the agency said.

Reuters did not name their detained reporter who they said was a stringer — a term used to describe people who work for media outlets part time or on short term assignments when news breaks.

The agency said they had last heard from their reporter just before they left to cover the protests.

“We do not know the circumstances of the detention and are actively seeking additional information about the situation,” a Reuters spokesperson said in their dispatch on the arrests.

Several protesters were also reported to have been detained at the demonstration.

Sporadic protests have erupted across Sudan after prices of food items, but mainly bread, surged following a jump in the cost of flour due to a shortage of wheat supplies.

Wednesday’s rally was called by the main opposition Umma Party, a day after a similar demonstration was held near the presidential palace in Khartoum following a call issued by the Communist Party. Tuesday’s protest was also broken up by police.

Similar protests were held in late 2016 after the government cut fuel subsidies.

The authorities cracked down on those protests to prevent a repeat of deadly unrest that followed an earlier round of subsidy cuts in 2013.

Rights groups said dozens of people were killed when security forces crushed the 2013 demonstrations, drawing international condemnation.

Critics have repeatedly accused President Omar al-Bashir’s regime of cracking down on the media in Sudan, with watchdog Reporters Without Borders ranking the country 174th out of 180 countries in its 2017 World Press Freedom Index.

AFP

Angolan President Denies Tensions With Predecessor Despite Clean-Up Campaign

Angolan President Joao Lourenco gives his first press conference after his election on January 8, 2018, to mark his first 100 days in office at the Presidential Palace in Luanda. AMPE ROGERIO / AFP

 

Angolan President Joao Lourenco on Monday denied “any tension” with his long-serving predecessor Jose Eduardo dos Santos, many of whose relatives and friends he has sacked from public office in a fight against corruption in the oil-rich southern African nation.

In November, within three months of taking control of Angola, Lourenco sacked dos Santos’s daughter — Africa’s richest woman — as head of the state-run oil company Sonangol. In recent weeks, he has fired a string of other business figures closely associated with his predecessor.

A long-standing pillar of the regime, the new president had promised to distance himself from the dos Santos clan during his successful campaign ahead of the August 23 poll.

Dos Santos, 75, finally quit power in August after ruling the country for 38 years. He is still head of the ruling MPLA party and has publicly deplored his successor’s “radical” decisions.

“I don’t see any tension in our relations,” Lourenco told a press conference marking 100 days in power.

“The president of the party is guided by the statutes of the party and I as president seek to respect and obey the constitution,” he said, adding that he had “normal working relations” with dos Santos.

Before retiring, dos Santos took care to freeze by law the hierarchy of the security forces for several years. But Lourenco replaced the heads of the police and military intelligence anyway.

Angola, along with Nigeria, is one of Africa’s biggest oil producers, pumping out 1.7 million barrels per day. But the oil wealth has bypassed the overwhelming majority of citizens who live in grinding poverty.

Sonangol has ordered a probe into “possible misappropriation” of funds by Isabel dos Santos, and Lourenco on Monday said the sacking was not politically motivated.

“The person who was replaced isn’t a member of the opposition,” he noted.

He also hinted that dos Santos’s son, Jose Filomeno dos Santos, could be axed as the head of the country’s sovereign investment fund.

“I am not saying I’m going to sack him but it is possible that it could happen,” he said.

Lourenco refused comment on dos Santos’ future as head of the MPLA. In 2016, dos Santos pledged to retire from politics in 2018.

“It’s up to him to say if he will do that, if he upholds his promise,” he said.

AFP

Boko Haram Leader, Shekau Reappears In Video

Boko Haram Leader, Shekau Reappears In VideoBoko Haram Leader, Abubakar Shekau, has reportedly reappeared in a new video in which he dismisses claims that many of his members have been killed.

According to the AFP, Shekau released a 27-minute video in which he spoke for about 20 minutes in Hausa and Kanuri, criticising the countries in the Lake Chad area fighting the group under the Multinational Joint Task Force.

He is said to have singled out Cameroon which reportedly announced on Wednesday that its soldiers killed about 60 Boko Haram fighters and arrested scores of others, while freeing about 5000 hostages.

Speaking in the video, Shekau reportedly described the claim as a lie, insisting that his so-called caliphate was ‘running smoothly’.

The militant leader also claimed responsibility for the suicide bombings recorded in Northeast Nigeria in recent time, including the last attack in Maiduguri on Wednesday, which killed the four suicide bombers and two other people.

In December 2016, he released a video in which he also denounced the announcement by the Nigerian Military that troops had flushed out his fighters from their stronghold in Sambisa forest in northern Borno State.

Wike Assures Investors Of Land And Tax Relief In Rivers State

Wike Assures Investors Of Land And Tax Relief In Rivers StateThe Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has invited foreign and local investors to take advantage of the rapid developmental strides of his administration, to invest in all sectors of the state’s economy, in order to create jobs.

Governor Wike stated that first-time investors in sectors such as tourism and hospitality, housing and property development, as well as agriculture and ICT skills development, would receive attractive tax incentives and easy access to land in the state.

Addressing a group of foreign journalists in Lagos on Wednesday, the State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Dr Austin Tam-George who spoke of the government’s tax plan, also dismissed security concerns about the state, saying that Rivers state is among the safest destinations for investment in the country.

“The narrative that Rivers state is unsafe is an ugly slander against the state by a disgruntled political opposition”, the commissioner said, adding that as the oil and gas hub in the country, Rivers state has offered the highest return on investment in Nigeria since 1958.

Dr Tam-George said that activities marking the Golden Jubilee celebrations in Rivers state in May would showcase the different opportunities for investment in the state.

Present at the media briefing were correspondents from the BBC, AFP, Duetch Welle, VOA, Xinhua, CCTV, the publishers of The Trent, among others.

Syria Conflict: Blast Follows As Food Aid Reaches Darayya

Syria-food-aidThe residents of the besieged Damascus suburb of Darayya have welcomed the first deliveries of food aid to reach the city since 2012.

The latest delivery to Darayya was made by teams from the Syrian Red Crescent and the United Nations’ humanitarian body.

The UN’s special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said on Thursday that the Syrian government had given permission for aid to be delivered to 19 besieged areas, where an estimated 600,000 people live.

Trucks carrying medicine, food and flour entered the town that was among the first to report protests against President Bashar Al-assad’s Government.

The operations director of the Syrian Red Crescent, Tamam Mehrez, also told AFP that the goods would be enough for residents for one month.

An official with the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) said that he had met some beneficiaries of the food aid and community leaders.

“The supply of the very basic commodities is very challenging, so as a consequence the prices of the commodities themselves are very high whenever they are available,” he said.

The delivery of food supplies came a week after a joint convoy of the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross and SARC reached Daraya and delivered medicine, vaccines, baby formula, and “nutritional items for children” but no food.

However, violence was reported on Friday in the rebel-held area as crude barrel bombs have been dropped on the suburb, according to the Local Council of Daraya.

This came just hours after the food aid was delivered to its residents

Daraya has been under siege since November 2012 and has witnessed some of the worst bombardment during Syria’s civil war, now in its sixth year.

Al-Shabab Takes Over Somalia Port City, Merca

Al-Shabab-in-SomaliaIslamist militant group al-Shabab has taken control of Somalia’s port city, Merca, residents say.

With the reported development, the city, some 70km (45 miles) south-west of Mogadishu, is now the biggest town under al-Shabab control.

African Union forces who had held the port city for three-and-a-half years withdrew earlier on Friday morning.

The loss is a major setback for the African Union force (Amisom) in its decade-long battle against al-Shabab, the BBC reports.

The governor of Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region, Ibrahim Adam, told the AFP news agency that al-Shabab secured control without fighting.

“Amisom forces moved out at midday and the local administration and all other Somali security forces left a few minutes later – and then heavily armed al-Shabab militants entered the town,” local resident Ibrahim Mumin told AFP.

“They have been addressing residents at the district headquarters,” he added.

Another resident, Mohamed Sabriye, told AP news agency that al-Shabab fighters had hoisted their flag over the city’s police station and administrative headquarters.

Cameroonian Troops Kill 100 Suspected Terrorists, Rescue Hostages

CameroonReport indicates that 100 members of the Boko Haram sect have been killed in Cameroon, with 900 people it had held hostage rescued by the country’s military.

According to the AFP, Cameroon army’s spokesman, Colonel Didier Badjeck, said troops had conducted a sweep operation between November 26 and 28 along Cameroon’s long border with Nigeria.

He said large supplies of arms and munitions as well as black-and-white Islamic State flags were seized in the operations.

The Nigerian military has however not confirmed the incident.

Cameroon has contributed troops to the 8,700-strong regional Multi-National Joint Task Force also comprising troops from Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Benin Republic with the goal of destroying Boko Haram, which has carried out a campaign of violence in the region.

The group, seeking to establish an Islamic state and end Western education in region,  had in March 2015 pledge allegiance to the Islamic State.

Australian Teens Attempting To Join ISIS

 australianTwo Australian brothers intercepted at Sydney airport are suspected of attempting to join the Islamic State (IS).

The boys, aged 16 and 17, raised suspicions as they attempted to pass through customs, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said on Sunday.

The pair had been radicalised online and were headed for an unidentified “conflict zone”, Mr Dutton said.

Australia estimates that 90 of its citizens are fighting with IS in Syria and Iraq.

The boys, who had not been named because of their age, were arrested by Australian Federal Police officers on Friday.

They were released into the custody of their parents.

“These two young men aged 16 and 17 are kids, not killers, and they shouldn’t be allowed to go to a foreign land to fight then come back to our land eventually more radicalised,” Mr Dutton said.

The immigration minister said the boys were issued with court notices, implying they had been charged.

But a spokesperson for the Australian Federal Police (AFP) said on Monday that, while there was an ongoing investigation into the incident, no charges had been brought against the boys.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the boys had “succumbed to the lure” of IS.

“These were two misguided young Australians, Australian born and bred, who went to school here, grew up here, imbibed our values, and yet it seems they had succumbed to the lure of the death cult and they were on the verge of doing something terrible and dangerous,” he said.

“I’m pleased that they’ve been stopped and my message to anyone who is listening to the death cult is block your ears. Don’t even begin to think you can leave Australia,” he added.

Gunmen Kill, Abduct German Nationals In Shagamu

TerroristsOne German national has been killed and another kidnapped after unknown gunmen opened fire on two vehicles taking them to work in Shagamu in Ogun State, south-west Nigeria.

The attack that happened on Friday morning, construction firm Julius Berger said.

“About four armed men emerged from the bush near Sagamu (in Ogun State) on Friday morning and attacked,” police spokesman, Abimbola Oyeyemi told AFP.

“A bullet hit one German and he was confirmed dead on arrival at the hospital, while the hoodlums abducted another German.”

A Julius Berger spokeswoman in Nigeria reportedly disclosed that the two Germans were travelling in two separate vehicles, without their security escort.

She said that the man who died was a subcontractor, while the hostage was one of its staff

The group were moving “in separate vehicles without their escorts, to their place of work”, a quarry in Ogun state, a statement from the company added.

The attack occurred just as the German Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, visited the Nigerian capital Abuja

Germany’s ministry said Steinmeier was “aware of the matter”.

The police are investigating the incident.

 

 

 

 

Network Africa: S.Sudan, CAR Search For Funds As Nigeria Searches For Missing Girls

Network AfricaNetwork Africa looks at how far things have gone concerning bringing back the missing schoolgirls in Nigeria, amidst claims by the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, that the military had located the girls.

Demonstrators in the Bring Back Our Girls campaign, however, have vowed to carry on with their protests.

South Sudan is relying heavily on the international community as more funds are also needed to save the people of Central African Republic.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says more assistance is needed in an overcrowded and flooded South Sudanese Refugee Camp where almost 100,000 people are sheltered in tents.

Illegal immigration is also on the rise, as migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa penetrate the United Kingdom in search of greener pastures at all cost.

We bring you interviews and reports.