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Zambia’s Hichilema meets Macron, Xuexiang at COP28

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Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema engaged in bilateral discussions with President Emmanuel Macron of France and Ding Xuexiang, the Executive Vice Premier of the People’s Republic of China, on the sidelines of the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28).

Hichilema commended Macron for his country’s continued support and underscored the importance of nurturing the growing ties between the two nations.

“We appreciate the support that France has provided to Zambia over the years, and we look forward to strengthening our partnership for the benefit of our countries and peoples,” President Hichilema stated.

In a separate meeting with Chinese Vice Premier, Ding Xuexiang, Hichilema acknowledged and appreciated President Xi Jinping’s warm reception during his recent state visit to China.

The leaders stressed through the discussions how Zambia and China had it had an “all-weather friendship” since Zambia gained its independence in 1964. The conversations also revolved around developing this friendship even more and looking into new opportunities for collaboration.

“We are committed to building on the solid foundation of our bilateral relations with China for the benefit of both our nations. The talks with Vice Premier Ding Xuexiang were productive and reflect our mutual desire for continued growth and collaboration,” President Hichilema stated.

Hichilema’s meeting with Macron and Xuexiang is symbolic, as his country remains at the centre of a debt-restructuring effort, with France and China being co-chairs of its creditor committee. Meanwhile, it is not clear if discussions between the leaders included the debt situation.

In terms of debt restructuring, Zambia has had a busy year. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) authorised a staff-level agreement with the country on the second review of its Extended Credit Facility last month, subject to IMF board approval, following the rejection of its bond deal with foreign holders by its official creditors. This opened up an additional $184 million.

Musings From Abroad

Rwanda to receive at least $470m from Britain for asylum deal

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As part of the arrangement to have asylum seekers in the UK relocate there, Rwanda will receive at least $470 million from the United Kingdom.

The National Audit Office (NAO), the UK government’s spending watchdog, disclosed on Friday that up to $190,000 would also be paid for each individual sent to the East African nation over five years.

The NAO report was released in response to MPs’ demands for increased clarity regarding the scheme’s cost. However, Labour has criticised the figures, labelling them a “national scandal.”.

Paul Kagame, the president of Rwanda, stated in January that the United Kingdom’s attempts to establish an asylum agreement with his nation are proceeding too slowly, following opposition to the proposal that resulted in demonstrations, legal actions, and decisions that put a stop to it. In November, the Supreme Court declared the plan to be “illegal.”

The UK Supreme Court declared in November that Rwanda could not be considered a safe third country, making the government’s plan to send thousands of migrants there illegal.

As a result, the Prime Minister proposed emergency legislation that would supersede both domestic and international human rights laws and halt deportations, and Sunak and Rwanda signed a new treaty. In December, there will be a first vote on the legislation in Parliament.

Britain and Rwanda first signed the deal in April 2022. The UK Supreme Court declared in November that Rwanda could not be considered a safe third country, making the government’s plan to send thousands of migrants there illegal.

The five-year agreement would allow the UK to deport people who enter the nation illegally and allow them to apply for asylum in Rwanda.

As a result, the Prime Minister proposed emergency legislation that would supersede both domestic and international human rights laws and halt deportations, and Sunak and Rwanda signed a new treaty. In December, there will be a first vote on the legislation in Parliament.

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Musings From Abroad

US urges UN Security Council action in Sudan conflict

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The United States has asked the United Nations Security Council to intervene in the nearly year-long conflict in Sudan between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the Sudanese army.

The RSF and its allies are accused by the US of committing crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing, in addition to the war crimes committed by the fighting parties.

According to the UN, about 8 million people have fled their homes, hunger is on the rise, and nearly 25 million people—or half of Sudan’s population—need aid.

“It is clear that this is an urgent matter of peace and security that demands greater attention from the Security Council,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield told Reuters in a statement.

“The council must act urgently to alleviate human suffering, hold perpetrators to account, and bring the conflict in Sudan to an end. Time is running out,” she said, without specifying what action the 15-member council should take.

The council has only released three press releases denouncing and expressing concern about the war since it broke out on April 15, 2023. It was similar to the wording used in a resolution passed in December that closed a political mission of the United Nations at the request of Sudan’s acting foreign minister.

According to a UN sanctions monitoring report seen by Reuters last month, between 10,000 and 15,000 people were killed in one city alone in Sudan’s West Darfur region last year in ethnic violence committed by the RSF and allied Arab militia.

Visiting a refugee camp in Chad close to the border with Sudan’s Darfur in September, Thomas-Greenfield expressed her disappointment, saying, “I am deeply disappointed that the allegations detailed in this report have received such little attention, both inside the U.N. Security Council and outside the United Nations.”

Recently, the Sudanese government banned aid supplies from entering Chad, thereby blocking a vital supply route to the vast region of Darfur, which is under the control of the rival RSF. The action was deemed “unacceptable” by Thomas-Greenfield because it jeopardised a “critical lifeline.”

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