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Musings From Abroad

Uganda embraces Turkish firm as it severs railway deal with Chinese firm, CHEC

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East African country, Uganda has ended its deal with Chinese firm China Harbour and Engineering Company Ltd (CHEC) to build a railway to the Kenyan border.

A senior government official made the revelation and hinted that the country is now considering a deal with a Turkish company.

Uganda 2015 signed an engineering, procurement, and construction contract with CHEC to develop the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project.

The 273-kilometer railway line, estimated to cost $2.2 billion,  which will use the international standard rather than a narrower gauge sometimes used in the region.

The line is planned to link the capital Kampala and Uganda’s border with Kenya, where it is planned to link up with Kenya’s own standard gauge rail that runs to the Indian Ocean seaport of Mombasa.

According to a senior official in the ministry of works and transport project, the country is however said to be frustrated with China’s unwillingness to provide funding for the project and is now courting Turkey’s Yapi Merkezi to take up the job.

“One of the obligations under the contract with the Chinese was that they were supposed to help Uganda source financing which has really not come true,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

The source revealed that Uganda in December wrote to the Chinese firm of its intentions to terminate the deal and the Chinese had so far not indicated any objection to the decision. Officials of CHEC were not immediately reachable for comment.

The source further revealed that the ministry had now focused on Turkey’s Yapi Merkezi for the completion of the rail project.

“So now the discussions are with Yapi Merkezi which has shown interest …there’s no contract with them yet, but there’s an MoU and things are moving fast.”

Commenting on the development, he told a news conference in Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said China and Uganda had in the past jointly cooperated in railways, hydropower stations, highways, oil and gas development, and infrastructure construction.

“China and Uganda are comprehensive cooperative partners, and practical cooperation between the two countries is at the forefront of China-Africa cooperation,” Wenbin said.

Musings From Abroad

US Secretary, Anthony Blinken, reveals concern over human rights in Egypt

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The United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken has revealed that the US is concerned over human right abuses in North African country, Egypt.

Blinken made the position known During a press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, noting that the development top item on the agenda in talks with Egypt’s president and foreign minister during a visit to Cairo on Monday.

Blinken said the United States would continue to encourage Egypt to take further actions on human rights, including releasing more political prisoners and reforming pre-trial detention.

He also said holding elections in Libya this year was the only viable path to a durable solution in the country.

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Musings From Abroad

Months after truce with Tigray region, US official insists Eritrean troops still at Ethiopian borders

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Months after peace was brokered between crises involving the Ethiopian government, Eritrea, and the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front, a senior United State official has revealed Eritrean troops are still in Ethiopia although they have moved back the border.

The United State Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said at a news conference during a visit to the Kenyan capital Nairobi, that “with respect to Eritreans we understand they have moved back to the border and they have been asked to leave.”

The alleged presence of the Eritrean troops contradicts Ethiopian authorities’ position on the departure of the Eritreans who fought alongside the Ethiopian military and allied militias in the two-year conflict that pitted the Ethiopian government against rebellious forces in the northern region of Tigray.

Meanwhile, the allegation has been denied by a senior Ethiopia military officer briefing foreign officials on Saturday.

“There is no other security force in the Tigray region except the FDRE Defense Forces,” Major General Teshome Gemechu said, using an acronym for the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian government nor any of its officials have made official reactions to the allegations. The government spokesperson Legesse Tulu, Redwan Hussein, national security advisor to the prime minister, and Colonel Getnet Adane, spokesperson to Ethiopian Army also did not respond to requests for comment on claims by Thomas-Greenfield and Getachew.

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