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Senior Israeli diplomat ejected from AU summit as row escalates



A senior Israeli diplomat on Saturday was removed from the African Union’s annual summit in Ethiopia, as a dispute over Israel’s accreditation to the bloc escalated.

Images posted online showed AU security personnel confronting the diplomat during the opening ceremony of the summit, before she left the auditorium.

“Israel looks harshly upon the incident in which the deputy director for Africa, Ambassador Sharon Bar-Li, was removed from the African Union hall despite her status as an accredited observer with entrance badges,” the foreign ministry said.

Ebba Kalondo, the spokesperson for the African Union’s commission chairman, said the diplomat had been removed because she was not the duly accredited Israeli ambassador to Ethiopia, the official who was expected.

But Israel blamed the incident on South Africa and Algeria, two key nations in the 55-country bloc, saying they were holding the AU hostage and were driven by “hate”.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said the charge d’affaires at South Africa’s embassy would be summoned for a reprimand.

“The attempt to cancel Israel’s observer status has no basis in the organization’s laws,” the ministry said.

South Africa rejected the claim, saying Israel’s application for observer status at the AU has not been decided upon by the bloc.

“Until the AU takes a decision on whether to grant Israel observer status, you cannot have the country sitting and observing,” Clayson Monyela, head of public diplomacy in South Africa’s department of international relations, told Reuters.

“So, it’s not about South Africa or Algeria, it’s an issue of principle.”

South Africa’s ruling party has historically been a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause.

The Algerian delegation at the summit was not immediately available for a comment.

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Stevie Wonder Granted Ghanaian Citizenship, Embracing His Heritage



Stevie Wonder is officially making good on a promise to make the West African country his permanent home.

“I Steveland Morris swear solemnly, sincerely, and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful, and bear true allegiance to the Republic of Ghana,” the music icon stated during his swearing ceremony.

He was wearing what appeared to be traditional Ghanaian garb and his signature leather hat. President H.E Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo conferred Wonder’s citizenship during a ceremony at the Jubilee House in Accra.

As we previously reported, Ghana has been on Wonder’s mind over the last few decades. During an interview with Oprah Winfrey, the songwriter said he desires to live in a place where he is valued. Wonder has been vocal about growing weary of “America’s unwillingness” to accept all its citizens equally.

“I don’t want to see my children’s children’s children have to say, ‘Oh, please like me. Please respect me, please know that I’m important, please value me,’” he replied to Winfrey when asked why he planned to relocate to Ghana.

Wonder’s citizenship marks a significant achievement for Ghana, where country leaders have worked to attract diasporan Africans to invest, live and work there.

Ghanaian leaders invited African diasporans to “come home” during what is now known as the country’s iconic “Year of Return” campaign. In 2019, Country leaders invited those of African descent on a “major landmark spiritual and birth-right journey.” 2019 marked 400 years since enslaved Africans first arrived in the United States.

“‘The Year of Return, Ghana 2019’ celebrated the cumulative resilience of all the victims of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade who were scattered and displaced through the world in North America, South America, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia,” leaders said in a news release about the campaign.

Over 1 million people visited Ghana during the campaign, including Cardi B., Idris Elba, Naomi Campbell, Steve Harvey and more.  Visitors invested more than $3.3 billion in Ghana’s local economy. Following that successful campaign, country leaders set their sights on getting diasporans to invest and live in Ghana, prompting them to launch the “Beyond the Return” campaign.

As more Black American families consider relocating amid racial tensions, many people are considering Ghana. In 2019, country leaders granted 126 African diasporans citizenship. Ghana is one of a handful of African countries that have stepped forward in offering citizenship based on ancestry. Under its “Right of Abode” section, Ghana grants people of African descent to stay indefinitely with a path to apply for citizenship. In Sierra Leone, those who can prove lineage through ancestry can also obtain full citizenship. Idris Elba notably obtained citizenship in Sierra Leone, his father’s native country. Nigeria has the same policy for diasporans, while South Africa offers free citizenship to African Americans without proof of lineage.

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Donors raise more than 2 billion euros for Sudan aid a year into war



PARIS/CAIRO, April 15 (Reuters) – Donors pledged more than 2 billion euros ($2.13 billion) for war-torn Sudan at a conference in Paris on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron said, on the first anniversary of what aid workers describe as a neglected but devastating conflict.
Efforts to help millions of people driven to the verge of famine by the war have been held up by continued fighting between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), restrictions imposed by the warring sides, and demands on donors from other global crises including in Gaza and Ukraine.
Conflict in Sudan is threatening to expand, with fighting heating up in and around al-Fashir, a besieged aid hub and the last city in the western Darfur region not taken over by the RSF. Hundreds of thousands of displaced people have sought refuge in the area.
“The world is busy with other countries,” Bashir Awad, a resident of Omdurman, part of the wider capital and a key battleground, told Reuters last week. “We had to help ourselves, share food with each other, and depend on God.”
In Paris, the EU pledged 350 million euros, while France and Germany, the co-sponsors, committed 110 million euros and 244 million euros respectively. The United States pledged $147 million and Britain $110 million.
Speaking at the end of the conference, which included Sudanese civilian actors, Macron emphasized the need to coordinate overlapping and so far unsuccessful international efforts to resolve the conflict and to stop foreign support for the warring parties.
“Unfortunately the amount that we mobilised today is still probably less than was mobilised by several powers since the start of the war to help one or the other side kill each other,” he said.
As regional powers compete for influence in Sudan, U.N. experts say allegations that the United Arab Emirates helped arm the RSF are credible, while sources say the army has received weapons from Iran. Both sides have rejected the reports.
The war, which broke out between the Sudanese army and the RSF as they vied for power ahead of a planned transition, has crippled infrastructure, displaced more than 8.5 million people, and cut many off from food supplies and basic services.
“We can manage together to avoid a terrible famine catastrophe, but only if we get active together now,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said, adding that, in the worst-case scenario, 1 million people could die of hunger this year.
The United Nations is seeking $2.7 billion this year for aid inside Sudan, where 25 million people need assistance, an appeal that was just 6% funded before the Paris meeting. It is seeking another $1.4 billion for assistance in neighbouring countries that have housed hundreds of thousands of refugees.
The international aid effort faces obstacles to gaining access on the ground.
The army has said it would not allow aid into the wide swathes of the country controlled by its foes from the RSF. Aid agencies have accused the RSF of looting aid. Both sides have denied holding up relief.
“I hope the money raised today is translated into aid that reaches people in need,” said Abdullah Al Rabeeah, head of Saudi Arabia’s KSRelief.
On Friday, Sudan’s army-aligned foreign ministry protested that it had not been invited to the conference. “We must remind the organisers that the international guardianship system has been abolished for decades,” it said in a statement.

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SA users of Starlink will be cut off at the end of the month



Starlink users in South Africa are facing a major setback as the satellite internet service provider has issued a warning that their services will be terminated by the end of the month.

In an email sent to many South African users, Starlink stated that their internet access will cease on April 30 due to violation of its terms and conditions.

The email emphasized that using Starlink kits outside of designated areas, as indicated on the Starlink Availability Map, is against their terms. Consequently, users will only be able to access their Starlink account for updates after the termination.

Starlink, a company owned by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, operates a fleet of low earth orbit satellites that offer high-speed internet globally. Despite its potential to revolutionize connectivity, Starlink has been unable to obtain a license to operate in South Africa from the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa).

Icasa’s requirements mandate that any applicant must have 30% ownership from historically disadvantaged groups to be considered for a license. However, many in South Africa resorted to creative methods to access Starlink services, including purchasing roaming packages from countries where Starlink is licensed.

However, Icasa clarified in a government gazette last November that using Starlink in this manner is illegal. Additionally, Starlink itself stated in the recent email to users that the ‘Mobile – Regional’ plans are meant for temporary travel and transit, not permanent use in a location. Continuous use of these plans outside the country where service was ordered will result in service restriction.

Starlink advised those interested in making its services available in their region to contact local authorities.

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