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US calls for ‘thorough’ investigation into death of Egyptian researcher, Ayman Hadhoud

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The US States Department has called for a “thorough, transparent, and credible” investigation into the death of Egyptian economic researcher Ayman Hadhoud.

Ayman Hadhoud was a well-known liberal economist in Egypt, who was researching some politically delicate topics in Egypt before he disappeared into the custody of the country’s security forces in early February.

According to official records, Ayman Mohamed Ali Hadhoud died on 5 March, but his body was not handed over to relatives till 9 April

The State Department spokesperson Ned Price made the call in a briefing on Monday while also stressing that the US is disturbed over Hadboud’s death.

“We are deeply disturbed by reports surrounding the death and custody of Egyptian researcher Ayman Hadhoud and allegations of his torture while in detention,”

“The circumstances of his detention and his treatment and of his death we think require a thorough, transparent and credible investigation without delay,” he said.

Politically motivated arrests are common in the North African country. Last month, the state released 41 political prisoners from pre-trial detention, according to a politician-turned-negotiator, in a country where many more remain behind bars.

Rights groups say tens of thousands of Islamists and liberal dissidents have been detained over recent years and many have been denied due process or been subjected to abuse or poor prison conditions.

The United States under the Biden administration has been friends with Egypt but the US in January withheld $130 million of military aid over human rights concerns. It is therefore not unlikely that Hadhoud’s death could provoke actions from Washington.

 

Musings From Abroad

World Bank supports Kenyan central bank’s interest rate hike

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The World Bank has noted that the decision of the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) to raise interest rates, and the partial payment of its Eurobond have contributed to the recent stability of the Kenyan Shilling.

 

Bank of Kenya’s (CBK) Monetary Policy Committee raised the policy rate by 50 basis points to 13.00% at its first meeting of 2024 on February 6, 2024. The policy rate then rose to its highest level in more than ten years. It was a big surprise to most market experts that the rate went up after being raised by 200 basis points in December.

 

The Central Bank Rate (CBR) was raised twice in a row by CBK in December and February, bringing it up from 10.5% to 13%. The main goal was to support the shilling by getting foreign investors to put their money into local investments like government bonds.

 

 

The international lender says that the Central Bank of Kenya’s move to raise the benchmark lending rate has helped protect the local currency. They also say that the demand for shilling has grown because Eurobond notes that mature in June are being partially repaid.

 

So far this year, the shilling has gained the most value compared to other currencies in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Zambian Kwacha has also gained some value, but not as much.

 

“The Kenyan shilling is the best-performing currency in the sub-continent, and it recorded an appreciation of 16% so far this year. After strengthening by 14% in mid-February, the Zambian Kwacha has lost some ground and recorded a year-to-date appreciation of 2.4% as of mid-March. In both cases, the monetary authority hiked interest rates to defend their currencies,” the World Bank notes in a new regional outlook report.

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Musings From Abroad

WHO says Nigeria is the first country to use new meningitis vaccine

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The World Health Organization (WHO) says that Nigeria is the first country in the world to give out the “revolutionary” new vaccine— Men5CV.

Nigeria is one of the places in Africa where the sickness is doing the most damage. The WHO says that the number of yearly cases rose by 50% in 26 African countries that are considered to have a high risk of meningitis.

Nigeria reported 1686 possible cases of meningitis between October 1, 2022, and April 16, 2023. Of these, 124 people died, giving the country a case fatality rate (CFR) of 7%.

Meningitis is a very bad illness of the meninges, which are the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. It is a terrible disease that poses a big threat to public health.

“Nigeria’s rollout brings us one step closer to our goal to eliminate meningitis by 2030,” Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, was quoted as saying in a statement.

The WHO says that from October of last year to the middle of March of this year, there were 1,742 probable cases and 153 deaths in seven states in Nigeria.

The WHO said that the new vaccine will protect against all five major types of the disease that are common in Nigeria. This is different from the first vaccine, which only protected against one strain.

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