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World leaders congratulate Nigerian, Muhammad-Bande after his election as 74th UNGA President

Muhammad-Bande becomes second Nigerian to serve as UNGA President after Joseph Garba, 44th President between 1989 and 1990

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Ambassador Tijjani Mohammad Bande, newly-elected President of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Professor Tijjani Muhammad-Bande has been elected as the 74th President of the United Nations General Assembly with top bureaucrats of the world body extolling him as a scholar and diplomat who “bring(s) many important and admirable qualifications to the job.”

His election followed an affirmative vote in New York on Tuesday by member-nations as Muhammad-Bande was the only candidate who stood for the elective position. This was announced by outgoing and 73rd UNGA President, Ambassador Maria Espinosa Garcés.

Also elected were Vice-Presidents and Main Committee Bureau members of the UN General Assembly. The new executives will assume powers in September when the current president’s tenure comes to an end.

“My sincere congratulations to HE Mr Tijjani Muhammad-Bande #Nigeria, for his election as 74th #UNGA President. Amba. Tijjani brings with him an outstanding career both as a scholar & diplomat. My team & I will be at your disposal to ensure the smoothest transition possible #UN4ALL,” Garcés later said in a tweet on her official Twitter handle.

“Professor Bande, you bring many important and admirable qualifications to the job. From your years as Permanent Representative of Nigeria, you know the United Nations well. From your wide-ranging academic pursuits, you are an expert in political science and public administration,” UN Secretary-General, António Guterres said in a speech after the election.

“And as a Nigerian and an African, you have invaluable insights into the continent’s challenges – such as the Sahel and Lake Chad basin – and more broadly into the challenges our world faces across the three pillars of our work, peace, sustainable development and human rights. We wish you well in your preparations for this role in the months ahead.” Guterres concluded.

Garcés had earlier visited the Nigerian capital, Abuja last month where she met behind closed-doors with President Muhammadu Buhari and top officials of the government. The Buhari administration had used its weight and network to lobby other countries and it culminated in a unanimous, affirmative vote for Muhammad-Bande on Tuesday.

“I am honoured by the trust placed in me. We have to assume collective responsibility to make the world a better and safer one,” president-elect, Muhamad-Bande said during his acceptance speech.

The African Union, Rwanda, France, Germany, Netherlands, Argentina, Austria and several countries have sent in their congratulatory messages promising to support the Nigerian-led assembly when it begins work in the last quarter of the year.

Second Nigerian to head UNGA presidency

Muhammad-Bande becomes the second Nigerian to be elected President of UNGA after Major General Joseph Nanven Garba who held the position as the 44th President of the United Nations General Assembly between 1989 and 1990.

He was born at Zagga in Kebbi state, northwest Nigeria and attended Ahmadu Bello University for undergraduate studies where he received a Bachelor of Science in Political Science in 1979 before proceeding to Boston University, Massachusetts, USA where he earned an M.A in Political Science in 1981. He later got a PhD in Political Science from the University of Toronto, Canada in 1987.

Professor Bande was, from January 2000 to February 2004, the Director-General of the Centre African de Formation et de Recherche Administrative pour le Development (CAFRAD) in Tangier, Morocco. It is Africa’s premier institution with responsibility for training and research in public administration and management.

He was the Vice-Chancellor Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto between 2004 and 2009. He also served as former Director-General of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Nigeria from 2010 till March 2016. It is Nigeria’s premier policy training institution.

Muhammad-Bande will be assuming office at a time that the United Nations is gearing up to commemorate its 75th anniversary next year. “I hope we can use (the anniversary) to reaffirm the value of international cooperation and the vision of the Charter.” Guterres also said at the gathering.

When the new president takes office in September, it will be coming at a crucial time that the world body is focusing on a series of meetings such as the Climate Action Summit, Sustainable Development Goals Summit, high-level meetings on universal health coverage, including small island developing states and financing for sustainable development.

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East Africa News & Stories

Internet blackout hits cities in Ethiopia

An investigation found that with the exception of the capital Addis Ababa, most of the country’s cities had no internet.

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Internet blackout hits cities in Ethiopia

Most of Ethiopia was without internet access on Tuesday on the eighth consecutive day of an unexplained break.

An investigation found that with the exception of the capital Addis Ababa, most of the country’s cities had no internet.

Cherer Aklilu, executive director of the state monopoly Ethio Telecom, declined to give any details to explain the break.

“We expect to release an official statement on the internet blackout before the end of this week and we urge our users to be patient until that time,” she told AFP.

Internet access was cut on June 11, briefly restored and then severed again. It was restored for the Addis area on Friday.

The cut is the longest since reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to office in April last year in the Horn of Africa country.

The current break coincides with annual school-leaving exams, which end on Friday. In 2017, the authorities defended a similar blackout by saying they wanted to limit cheating for the important tests.

However, the internet was also repeatedly cut between 2015 and 2017 when the government at the time faced waves of protests.

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Africa News & Updates

Church attacked and burnt down over imam arrest in Niger

Witnesses said that late Saturday youths set up roadblocks and burned tyres in the streets of Niger’s third largest city

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Protesters torched a church overnight in the southern Niger city of Maradi after the arrest of a prominent imam who was subsequently freed Sunday, religious and security sources said. Sheikh Rayadoune, the imam of the Zaria mosque in Maradi, was detained Saturday after criticising a proposed law on religious worship as “anti-Islam” a day earlier.

He has appealed to his supporters to end the unrest. The group behind the church attack also burned the pastor’s car, a church official said in a WhatsApp message to parishioners that were sent to journalists.

A local security source confirmed the incident in Maradi’s working-class district of Zaria. Witnesses said that late Saturday youths set up roadblocks and burned tyres in the streets of Niger’s third largest city as news of the imam’s arrest spread.

A police source said that Sheikh Rayadoune had been released Sunday afternoon, adding: “He has acknowledged his mistake and has apologised.” Shortly before his release, the imam published a statement appealing for calm.

“All my supporters must stop burning things and making trouble in town: Islam does not recommend that I have in no way been mistreated by police,” the message said. The imam said he had read a bad translation of the draft law, which had been transcribed from French into Hausa, Niger’s main language.

He added that he would rectify his position at Friday prayers.

Law not ‘anti-Islam

A top interior ministry official said the legislation, designed to lay down official guidelines on worship, was “the fruit of many consultations…There’s nothing anti-Islam in the text.”He said it was aimed at preventing “anarchy and the distortions promoted by obscurantist terrorist groups to gain ground in our country.”

The government adopted a draft bill in late April, saying there was a “total absence of norms” regarding worship in Niger while fundamentalist and extremist tendencies were on the rise.

“To head off risks of abuse seen in other countries … it is vital the state gives itself the means to control practices in the religious sphere,” the statement added. Parliament still has to vote through the text before it becomes law. Niger has experienced several bouts of religious strife in recent years.

Following the publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed in French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in 2015 ten people were killed in anti-Christian riots in Niamey. Several churches were destroyed in the capital and second city Zinder.

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Africa News & Updates

Health minister issues Ebola threat alert in Tanzania

Tanzania’s northwestern Kagera, Mwanza and Kigoma regions are most at risk.

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Health workers stand at a non-gazetted crossing point in the Mirami village, near the Mpondwe border as Tanzania issues Ebola threat alert

Tanzania’s health minister issued an Ebola ‘alert’ Sunday after the disease, which has killed over 1,400 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo, appeared in their shared neighbour, Uganda. “I want to alert the public that there is the threat of an Ebola epidemic in our country,” Ummy Mwalimu tweeted days after officials confirmed that members of a family who had travelled to the DRC had died in western Uganda.

The minister said the alert was necessary given the frequent interactions between Tanzanian and Ugandan people “via the official borders or by other, unofficial channels.” Tanzania’s northwestern Kagera, Mwanza and Kigoma regions were most at risk, said Mwalimu. But “given that this disease transmits very easily and very quickly from one person to another, nearly the entire country is in danger.”

The minister began a tour of the frontier regions on Saturday to assess the measures in place at ports and border posts to deal with potential incoming Ebola cases. The country has not yet been touched by the often fatal viral disease that causes violent vomiting and diarrhoea, impairs kidney and liver function, and sometimes internal and external bleeding.

Ebola spreads among humans through close contact with the blood, body fluids, secretions or organs of an infected person, or objects contaminated by such fluids. The current outbreak in the DRC is the worst on record after an epidemic that struck mainly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone between 2014-2016, killing more than 11,300 people.

On Friday, the World Health Organization said the outbreak does not yet warrant being declared a “public health emergency of international concern”, meaning it would require a “coordinated international response”.The UN body declares public health emergencies when a disease outbreak in a country risks spreading beyond its borders.

Two members of a Ugandan family, a woman and her five-year-old grandson died of Ebola this week after travelling to the DRC to take care of a dying family member and attend the funeral. The boy’s brother, aged three, is also infected, and several family members are in isolation. To date, no locally-acquired Ebola cases have been reported in Uganda.

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