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Musings From Abroad

New British PM Starmer declares Rwanda migration deal ‘dead and buried’

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Keir Starmer, the newly appointed prime minister of Britain, announced on Saturday that he would abandon the contentious plan to transport thousands of asylum seekers from Britain to Rwanda. This is Starmer’s first significant policy declaration following his overwhelming election victory.

The plan to return undocumented migrants to the nation of East Africa was first announced by the previous Conservative government in 2022, with the stated goal of ending the influx of asylum seekers in small boats.

However, the proposal never saw any people transferred to Rwanda due to years of legal battles. In his first press conference as prime minister, Merkel declared that the Rwanda policy would be abandoned since it would not have served as a deterrence and that just 1% of asylum applicants would have been expelled.

“The Rwanda scheme was dead and buried before it started. It’s never been a deterrent,” Starmer said. “I’m not prepared to continue with gimmicks that don’t act as a deterrent.”

As the most powerful British leader since former Prime Minister Tony Blair, Starmer gained one of the biggest parliamentary majorities in modern British history on Friday. However, he still has several obstacles to overcome, including bolstering the flagging public services and the economy.

During the Downing Street news conference, Starmer fielded roughly a dozen questions and was frequently questioned about how and when he would begin implementing his promised solutions to the country’s problems. However, he provided few details about his plans.

When asked if his government would recognize issues and take action in areas like addressing an overburdened prison system and cutting lengthy wait times to access the state-run health care, Starmer responded that his government would be willing to make difficult decisions and raise taxes if needed.

“We’re going to have to take the tough decisions and take them early, and we will. We will do that with a raw honesty,” he said. “But that is not a sort of prelude to saying there’s some tax decision that we didn’t speak about before.”

As part of an agreement worth 120 million pounds ($148 million), the British government, under the immediate Prime Minister Richie Sunak, disclosed last year that it intended to send thousands of migrants to the nation in East Africa to discourage asylum seekers from using tiny boats to cross the English Channel from France.

In recent times, Europe has become increasingly concerned about illegal immigrants originating from Africa and the Middle East. A record 45,000 people had flown over the English Channel in small boats as of June 2023.

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Musings From Abroad

IMF lowers Botswana’s growth projection for 2024

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In a statement, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reduced its earlier April estimate of 3.6% growth for Botswana to 1%, primarily because of decreased diamond production.

In addition, the IMF warned that a decline in mineral income would cause the budget deficit to balloon to 6% from 3.45% and urged the diamond-rich nation in southern Africa to think twice before embarking on new infrastructure projects to support the economy.

“The continued (economic) slowdown is mainly due to a fall in diamond production,” said IMF said in a statement released late on Friday.

“Some fiscal relaxation is warranted this year given the fall in mineral revenues, but the execution of the ambitious capital budget should be slowed down to contain the deterioration of the deficit and prioritize projects with the highest returns,” the IMF said.

 

The demand prognosis for diamonds, which are typically regarded as luxury goods, has decreased due to weaker consumer demand and a weakening in the global economy.

Finance Minister Peggy Serame predicted in February that the economy would expand by 4.2%, but a few months later the central bank issued a warning, stating that the ongoing challenges in the world diamond market made it doubtful that this goal would be met.

Diamond sales account for 30–40% of Botswana’s total revenue and 75% of its foreign exchange profits.

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Musings From Abroad

Russian state company, Malian junta negotiate nuclear deal

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According to Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear business and the ruling military junta in Mali have signed three cooperation agreements and discussed several projects, including the construction of a low-power nuclear power plant with Russian design, on Wednesday.

For years, Rosatom has been pursuing a charm offensive in Africa in an attempt to secure business through the signing of cooperation agreements with nations all over the continent. As part of that effort, closer ties have been made with juntas in the Sahel region of West Africa, who have retreated from conventional Western allies after seizing power in coups before 2020.

Junta-led administrations in the West African states of Burkina Faso, Guinea, Niger Republic, and Mali have all tilted towards Russia for military ties, severing relations with former colony France and its international ally, the United States.

In a statement, Rosatom claimed that it had met with Assimi Goita, the head of Mali’s junta, on July 2 and 3. It has talks with junta authorities in charge of energy, education, and economics.

The statement added that in addition to talking about a “strategic project to build a Russian-designed low-power nuclear power plant in Mali,” junta leaders and Rosatom also discussed geological exploration projects and solar power generating.

Regarding the projected low-power nuclear power station that might be constructed in Mali, Rosatom withheld information.

“The parties agreed to continue maintaining close contacts and periodically coordinate positions as joint work progresses,” it said.

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