Mend ways, Trump tells U.N.

UNITED NATIONS — President Donald Trump on Monday opened his first visit to the United Nations since taking office with a polite but firm call for the 72-year-old institution to overhaul itself and a veiled threat to pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement.


In a meeting with counterparts from around the world, Trump said the U.N. had grown too bureaucratic and ineffective and should reorient its approach. He complained that spending and the staff at the U.N. had grown enormously over the years but that “we are not seeing the results in line with this investment.”

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Still, he pledged U.S. support for the world body he had excoriated as a candidate, and his criticisms were more restrained than in years past.

“That’s why we commend the secretary-general and his call for the United Nations to focus more on people and less on bureaucracy,” Trump said, with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sitting beside him. “We seek a United Nations that regains the trust of the people around the world. In order to achieve this, the United Nations must hold every level of management accountable, protect whistleblowers and focus on results rather than on process.”

He added that any overhaul should ensure that no single member “shoulders a disproportionate share of the burden, and that’s militarily or financially,” a sore point for many American conservatives who bristle at the share of U.N. costs borne by the United States. Trump said nothing about whether he would pursue his proposal to cut U.S. funding for the organization.

The United States is the largest contributor to the U.N. budget, reflecting its position as the world’s largest economy. It pays 25 percent of the U.N.’s regular operating budget and over 28 percent of the separate peacekeeping budget.

The short remarks at a forum on U.N. overhauls were a precursor to today’s main event, when Trump will address the U.N. General Assembly for the first time, a speech awaited by world leaders concerned about what the president’s “America first” vision means for the future of the world body.

Trump riffed on his campaign slogan when asked to preview his central message to the General Assembly, saying: “I think the main message is ‘make the United Nations great’ — not ‘again.’ ‘Make the United Nations great.'”

“Such tremendous potential, and I think we’ll be able to do this,” he added.

But even as the president chastised the U.N., he pledged that the United States would “be partners in your work” to make the organization a more effective force for peace across the globe.

He later met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in the first of a string of sessions he will conduct with counterparts during four days in New York, and used the occasion to once again hint that he could pull out of the Iran deal negotiated by President Barack Obama, the other four permanent members of the Security Council and Germany. Netanyahu planned to press Trump to either revise the agreement or scrap it.

Asked by reporters whether he would withdraw, Trump said, “You’ll see very soon. You’ll be seeing very soon.” He added: “We’re talking about it constantly. Constantly. We’re talking about plans constantly.”

The meeting with Netanyahu was followed by another with President Emmanuel Macron of France where the two traded warm words and recalled Trump’s visit to a Bastille Day military parade in Paris in July. He mused about ordering up a military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington to rival the one he witnessed in Paris.

Trump also hosted a dinner Monday night with leaders of Brazil, Colombia, Panama and Argentina. Venezuela’s deepening economic and political crisis was under discussion.

The U.S. president also lashed out against Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro, calling his presidency “disastrous.” He said that people in Venezuela “are starving and the country is collapsing.”

The U.S. “has taken important steps to hold the regime accountable, and we’re prepared to take further action if the government of Venezuela persists on a path to imposing authoritarian rule,” Trump said. He thanked the Latin American leaders for “condemning the regime.”

Brazil’s President Michel Temer said all leaders “agreed on maintaining pressure on Venezuela’s government” but that further sanctions on the country should be “verbal.”


The president has until mid-October to certify under a U.S. law whether Iran is complying with the deal, a certification he has made twice already this year but that he has told advisers he does not want to make again. If he were to refuse to do so, it could potentially unravel the agreement.

The meeting with Netanyahu focused on Iran, although Trump also repeated his commitment to finding peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. “I think there’s a good chance that it could happen,” he said. “Most people would say there’s no chance whatsoever.” He will meet with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority on Wednesday.

Trump and Netanyahu discussed Iran’s “malign activities” in the Middle East and spoke about the need to prevent Iran from establishing any deep roots or organizing in Syria, according to a readout provided by Brian Hook of the State Department.

In a harsh message to the International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors compliance with the nuclear agreement, Trump on Monday warned that the United States could withdraw if the accord is not properly policed. “We will not accept a weakly enforced or inadequately monitored deal,” Trump said in a message read by Rick Perry, the energy secretary, at the agency’s annual meeting in Vienna, according to news reports.

The United States asserts that Iran is obligated to open its military sites to agency inspection on demand if the agency suspects unreported nuclear activities at any of them. That’s something Tehran rejects, and Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi urged the agency and its head, Yukiya Amano, to “resist such unacceptable demands.”

Iran has accused Trump of failing to comply with the deal by undercutting it and slapping sanctions on Tehran for other activities such as ballistic missile tests, an assertion it repeated in Vienna on Monday.

“The American administration’s overtly hostile attitude and actual foot-dragging policies and measures aim at undermining the nuclear deal and blocking Iran’s legitimate benefits from its full implementation,” Salehi said, according to news reports.

The U.S. stance has worried allies such as France, as well as Russia.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that tearing up the accord would be a blow to efforts to limit nuclear proliferation and “we’re trying to convince President Trump of the pertinence of this view.” All the signs are that Iran is respecting its obligations under the deal, he said at a press conference in New York.

When asked about the U.S. leader and Macron’s meeting with him, Le Drian said France would stress the value of the Iran deal for nuclear nonproliferation and international security. He suggested that France may be open to an extension of nuclear limits on Iran past 2025, one of the main demands of critics of the deal.

“I’ll try to convince President Trump,” that the deal can be rigorously enforced now, Le Drian said. Even if a follow-on deal or other changes are contemplated, “we need to acknowledge the validity of the agreement as it is.”

Russia opposes any renegotiation of the Iranian nuclear agreement, said a senior member of the Russian delegation to the U.N. meeting. “To go back on an agreement that was the result of colossal diplomatic efforts without any justification just because the new U.S. president doesn’t like it would be extremely dangerous,” Konstantin Kosachyov, head of the foreign affairs committee of the Russian upper house of parliament, told reporters in New York.


The president’s comments to the U.N. meeting on Monday morning lasted only four minutes and included none of the criticism he had directed at foreign institutions in the past. As recently as December, after winning the presidential election but before being sworn in, Trump dismissed the U.N. as “just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time.”

The tension has gone both ways. Last month, the U.N. human rights chief chastised Trump for his repeated attacks on the news media, saying that they could incite violence and set a bad example for other countries.

No mention was made during Trump’s opening appearance Monday of the global crises that the U.N. has rung alarm bells about: attacks on the Rohingya minority in Burma, climate change, the nuclear threat in North Korea, and a record 65 million people displaced from their homes.

Aides have said Trump’s address today will stress “sovereignty and accountability,” a contrast to his predecessors who used the annual occasion to rally joint action on issues like terrorism, weapons proliferation and climate change.

The cooperative relationship — at least in a few key areas — can be attributed to the relationship forged between two seasoned politicians: U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, a former South Carolina governor, and Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister who, like Trump, took office in January. While many UN officials watched with horror as the Trump administration vowed to slash spending on foreign aid, including the UN, by about one-third, Guterres and Haley found a way to target troubled peacekeeping efforts.

Those programs, in countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, had long been criticized for not protecting civilians and, in some cases, sexually exploiting the very populations they were meant to defend.

Source :  Democratic Gazette

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The only thing Igbos hate about Nigeria is Injustice, Corruption and Killings-Vice President Ezendigbo in Diaspora(South)

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Recently, the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo,  warned  that all those fanning the embers of disunity in Nigeria would be dealt with in accordance with the laws of the land. The Acting President’s statement has attracted reactions from several Nigerians cutting across ethnic divides. Eze Dr. Alex  Anozie, the Ezendigbo nala Ibadan and Oyo state, who also doubles as the Vice President, Ezendigbo in Diaspora(South) has  joined  the growing list of Nigerians who have reacted to prof Osinbajo’s statement. In this interview with Federationews2day, Eze Dr. Anozie insists that the Igbos,  who are the first among the tribes that love Nigeria most, would  be ready to live in a united Nigeria  devoid of injustice,  corruption and killings . Excerpts :

The Acting President has stated that those  found to be threatening innocent Nigerians and sponsoring disunity would be dealt with by security agencies. What is your reaction to this statement ?

It is a good initiative, the Acting President is doing very well, God has bestowed him with wisdom. This issue is very fragile, delicate and sensitive and it must be handled very cautiously.  I praise him for that courage he has, in coming out bold in making that statement. Be that as it may, I still want to say  that the truth is bitter, but let all of us be bold to say the truth. All these agitations coming up from different parts of the country, there are reasons for it, injustice, deceit, corruption and killings, here and there, lives and property are no longer secure, militancy here and there, kidnapping here and there. Igbo people think that if they are on their own,  they might be able to arrange things, the way it would be more suitable for them and they would live in peace, lives and property would be secure. The crime rate would  reduce, they are thinking that, may be, in their own separate entity,  they would be able to manage all these areas and live in peace.  They may be wrong and they may be right. Igbos are the section of the country  that love Nigeria more than every other tribal grouping in Nigeria. And that is why they are investing everywhere they find themselves. Igbos are all over the country. This is a straightforward statement, that Igbos have confidence in Nigeria and that Igbos love Nigeria. If they do not love Nigeria, if they are  not committed to one Nigeria, they would not have been investing. There is no other  tribe that is scattered all over the country, like the Igbos, there is no other tribe that is investing all over the country, like the Igbos.  In the North, Igbos’ properties are in trillions, in the South West, Igbos’ properties are in trillions. If they do not have confidence in Nigeria would they have been investing in that manner ? They would have been going to the South East to invest. So, that is the number one reason why everybody should be able to agree with the Igbos,  that they love Nigeria. The only thing Igbos hate about Nigeria is injustice, marginalization, lack of equity, corruption and killings, life has lost value completely in Nigeria. Human beings are killed like  mosquitoes everywhere and the Igbos have much value  for life.  There is no hope that there would be a  stop to these happenings, the Igbos are not happy about this.  The Igbos are desperately in need of peace and security.  If they  are assured today, that all these social vices, all over the place would stop, Igbos are very willing and ready to continue with one Nigeria.  Yes, injustice must stop, indiscriminate killings of  human being must stop. The 2014 national conference started and ended with an agreement reached  by Nigerians. Now, the Government has  refused to make use of the report  of the conference Why ? After the conference, a section of the country came out to say that they do not believe in the conference. This was exactly the same thing that happened before the civil war. It was one of the things that resulted in the civil war.  Before the civil war, agreement   was reached and signed, at Aburi in Ghana, by the representatives of both sides. But surprisingly, when they got back home,in Nigeria after 48 hours, the agreement was swept under the carpet. Had it been the Aburi agreement was implemented, we would not have fought the civil war and several lives would not have been lost on both sides. The same issue has been given another name, restructuring. Everyone is now  talking of restructuring. For how long shall we continue to deceive each other ? Is it not better we tell each other the  bitter truth ?  Had it been justice had been reigning in Nigeria, had it been fair play, truth,  equity and the fear of God had been in place in Nigeria, there would not be need for all these agitations everywhere. Nobody wants to leave Nigeria, Nigeria is a beautiful country, no doubt about that, there is strength in our diversity, no doubt about that, but the truth is that injustice with impunity is in this country, but if the Igbos are  assured that all these vices would be no more, I am sure they would have a change of mind.

UN Secretary-General’s Message for International Women’s Day


Women’s rights are human rights. But in these troubled times, as our world becomes more unpredictable and chaotic, the rights of women and girls are being reduced, restricted and reversed.

Empowering women and girls is the only way to protect their rights and make sure they can realize their full potential.

Historic imbalances in power relations between men and women, exacerbated by growing inequalities within and between societies and countries, are leading to greater discrimination against women and girls. Around the world, tradition, cultural values and religion are being misused to curtail women’s rights, to entrench sexism and defend misogynistic practices.

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Women’s legal rights, which have never been equal to men’s on any continent, are being eroded further. Women’s rights over their own bodies are questioned and undermined. Women are routinely targeted for intimidation and harassment in cyberspace and in real life. In the worst cases, extremists and terrorists build their ideologies around the subjugation of women and girls and single them out for sexual and gender-based violence, forced marriage and virtual enslavement.

Despite some improvements, leadership positions across the board are still held by men, and the economic gender gap is widening, thanks to outdated attitudes and entrenched male chauvinism. We must change this, by empowering women at all levels, enabling their voices to be heard and giving them control over their own lives and over the future of our world.

Denying the rights of women and girls is not only wrong in itself; it has a serious social and economic impact that holds us all back. Gender equality has a transformative effect that is essential to fully functioning communities, societies and economies.

Women’s access to education and health services has benefits for their families and communities that extend to future generations. An extra year in school can add up to 25 per cent to a girl’s future income.

When women participate fully in the labour force, it creates opportunities and generates growth. Closing the gender gap in employment could add $12 trillion to global GDP by 2025. Increasing the proportion of women in public institutions makes them more representative, increases innovation, improves decision-making and benefits whole societies.

Gender equality is central to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the global plan agreed by leaders of all countries to meet the challenges we face. Sustainable Development Goal 5 calls specifically for gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, and this is central to the achievement of all the 17 SDGs.

I am committed to increasing women’s participation in our peace and security work. Women negotiators increase the chances of sustainable peace, and women peacekeepers decrease the chances of sexual exploitation and abuse.

Within the UN, I am establishing a clear road map with benchmarks to achieve gender parity across the system, so that our Organization truly represents the people we serve. Previous targets have not been met. Now we must move from ambition to action.

On International Women’s Day, let us all pledge to do everything we can to overcome entrenched prejudice, support engagement and activism, and promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Source : UN Women

Africa: UN – U.S.$4.4 Billion Needed to Prevent ‘Catastrophe’ of Famine

The United Nations needs $4.4bn by the end of next month to prevent “a catastrophe” of hunger and famine in South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen, according to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

More than 20 million people face starvation in the four countries and action is needed now to avert a humanitarian disaster, Guterres told a news conference at UN headquarters on Wednesday.

“We need $4.4 billion by the end of March to avert a catastrophe,” he said.

So far, the UN has raised just $90m.

South Sudan on Monday declared a famine in northern Unity State while Fews Net, the famine early warning system, has said that some remote areas of northeast Nigeria are already affected by starvation since late last year.

The four famine alerts are unprecedented in recent decades.

There has only been one famine since 2000, in Somalia. At least 260,000 people died in that disaster – half of them children under the age of five, according to the UN World Food Program.

The UN children’s agency UNICEF this week said almost 1.4 million children acutely malnourished in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen could die from famine in the coming months.

Of the four famine alerts, only one – Somalia – is caused by drought, while the other three are the result of conflicts, also described as “man-made food crises”.

“The situation is dire,” said Guterres.

“Millions of people are barely surviving in the space between malnutrition and death, vulnerable to diseases and outbreaks, forced to kill their animals for food and eat the grain they saved for next year’s seeds.”

The appeal for international action came as humanitarian aid groups are already struggling to meet needs in Syria and cope with the global refugee crisis.

This story from Al Jazeera was supplied to AllAfrica under an agreement with the Africa Media Agency

Source : All Africa

African Leaders Should Lead By Example-Eze Dr Anozie


Political Office holders in Africa have been called upon to lead by example to make the continent a better place to live in.

This call was made by  the Ezendigbo, Oyo state and Vice President, Association  of Ezendigbo in Diaspora(South), Eze Dr. Alex Anozie, in a Press Release he personally signed, dated 16 December and titled”UN/AU/ECOWAS Leaders Have Done Well”

”I also suspect ‘I may be wrong or right’ that they are afraid to leave office because they may be having skeletons in their cupboards, which they suspect may expose them to ridicule, after they vacate office. I call on people who find themselves in whichever leadership position, to always lead by example, see leadership as sacrifice, opportunity to serve the people and not to steal people’s wealth, so that when it is time for one to leave the  stage, he or she will leave peacefully and without any fear whatsoever”, Eze Dr. Anozie stated.

He commended the African Leaders for their visit to President Yahma  Jammeh of Gambia saying ”The United Nations, African Union/ECOWAS Heads of State should be commended for the wise, quick action, they have taken by reaching out to President of the Gambia, without any delay to counsel him properly on why he should peacefully leave office at the end of his tenure, having lost in the last election, where the Gambians have spoken. They should follow up by making sure that President Yahma Jammeh does not stay in office, a day longer”.

”Let nobody come up with the argument that it is an internal affair, therefore should be left with Gambians alone to settle. A stitch in time saves nine, while prevention is always better than cure. This rubbish must be nipped in the bud, now, before we begin to see  another Ivory Coast or Liberia, God forbid !”, Eze Dr. Anozie concluded.

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New UN secretary general sworn in


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António Guterres was sworn in as the new United Nations secretary general on Monday, paving the way for him to succeed Ban Ki-moon as head of the world’s foremost international body.

Guterres, the 67-year-old former Portuguese prime minister who most recently served as head of the U.N.’s refugee agency, will formally take office for a five-year term on Jan. 1. He’ll be the ninth U.N. head. He was tapped for the post following a unanimous decision of the U.N. Security Council.

“Our duties to the people we serve is to move from fear of each other to trust in each other, trust in the values that bind us and trust in the institutions that serve and protect us,” Guterres said before the U.N.’s General Assembly, following a tribute to Ban.“My contribution to the United Nations will be aimed at inspiring that trust, as I will do my best to serve our common humanity.”

Guterres was the socialist prime minster of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, and the U.N.’s high commissioner for refugees from 2005 to 2015.

Ban, who stepped down after two five-year terms at the U.N., received a standing ovation at his farewell tribute.

He is considered a possible presidential candidate in his home country of South Korea, following the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye on the heels of a political scandal.

Source : The Hill

Gabon: Opposition Chooses Ping as Candidate for August Election

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Libreville — Gabon’s main opposition parties chose former foreign minister Jean Ping as their candidate in an election Aug. 27 against President Ali Bongo, who is standing for a second term.

Ping, age 74, is considered one of Africa’s foremost diplomats. He has served as chairman of the African Union commission and as president of the U.N. General Assembly.

“I understand the gravity of the task I have been given,” Ping told thousands of cheering supporters in Libreville. “I won’t disappoint you.”

Ping has an unusual history for an African politician. His father was a Chinese businessman who came to Gabon in the 1930s, married the daughter of a traditional chief and grew rich trading goods including timber and seafood.

Ping came to wealth and prominence as an ally and protege of Omar Bongo, the father of Ali Bongo. But he fell out with the son and resigned from the ruling party in 2014 to become a vehement government critic.

He faces an uphill task in a contest with Bongo, who came to power and won an election in 2009 when his father died in office after 42 years in power.

Bongo retains institutional advantages accrued over the decades his family has held power as well as a close connection to France, the country’s former colonial power, which plays a significant role in the country’s economic life.

The opposition says the one-round electoral system also favors the president, who is known locally as “Bongo fils,” or Bongo junior. The government denies this.

With the state machinery and entrenched patronage networks behind him, Bongo and his Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) are likely to win the election, even though a slump in global oil prices has hurt the economy and slashed revenue in Gabon, one of Africa’s leading oil-producing nations.

With a GDP per capita around $10,000 a year, Gabon is substantially richer than most sub-Saharan African countries, but frustration over wealth inequality and political rivalries could spill over into unrest in this election.

Opponents have sought to discredit Bongo, in some quarters by casting doubt on whether he is really Gabonese or an adopted child from eastern Nigeria, a charge he has vehemently denied.

Addressing a rally Saturday for the opening of Gabon’s electoral campaign, Bongo responded to the allegation, saying: “the burden of proof rests on the one who makes the accusation.”

“The truth of the matter is they are afraid … because they don’t have a good program,” he said.

Source : VOA