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Iran is Furious As U.N. Suspends Voting Rights for Delinquent Dues

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Iran is Furious As U.N. Suspends Voting Rights for Delinquent Dues
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The United Nations said Thursday that it had suspended the voting rights of Iran and four smaller countries for delinquent dues. The move provoked a furious reaction from Iran, which called it “astonishingly absurd” and blamed the country’s arrears on U.S. sanctions that had frozen Iranian funds in banks worldwide.

The episode threatened to inject another irritant into the estranged U.S.-Iranian relationship, entangling the United Nations just as diplomats are seeking to advance negotiations aimed at restoring American and Iranian compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and the major powers.

President Trump repudiated that accord three years ago, restoring economic sanctions that the agreement had lifted. Iran responded by re-engaging in uranium enrichment and other actions that had been curtailed under the accord’s provisions. President Biden has said he wants to rejoin the nuclear agreement, but Iran has said the United States must drop its sanctions in verifiable ways before Iran will return to compliance.

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Secretary General António Guterres said in a letter to the president of the General Assembly that Iran and four African countries — the Central African Republic, Comoros, Sao Tome and Principe, and Somalia — had all breached the delinquency threshold under Article 19 of the U.N. Charter. The article states that any member owing the previous two years of assessments may not vote in the General Assembly.

Mr. Guterres’s spokesman, Stéphane Dujarric, said such letters are routinely transmitted when any member reaches the two-year threshold. The assessments are calculated under a complex formula based partly on a country’s economic size.

In early 2020, for example, Venezuela, Yemen and Lebanon were among the countries that temporarily lost voting rights.

The General Assembly can make exceptions to the rule, determining that some countries face such extenuating circumstances they cannot pay and should not be penalized.

But that has not happened — at least not yet — in the case of Iran, which owes more than $16.2 million, by far the most of the five delinquent countries identified in Mr. Guterres’s latest letter, dated May 28.

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Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif of Iran, a former U.N. ambassador who knows his way around the organization, expressed outrage in a Twitter posting at the loss of voting rights, and attached a copy of his response to Mr. Guterres.

“This decision is fundamentally flawed, entirely unacceptable and completely unjustified,” Mr. Zarif’s letter stated.

“It is astonishingly absurd that Iranian people, who have been forcibly blocked from transferring their own money and resources to buy food and medicine — let alone pay U.N. contributions arrears — by a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, are now being punished for not being allowed to pay budget arrears by the secretariat of the same Organization,” it stated.

Mr. Dujarric defended the issuance of the letter, describing it as a “mechanical procedure” dictated by the U.N. charter’s rules.

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“We have been in very intense discussions with the Islamic Republic of Iran on finding a way for them to pay their dues,” Mr. Dujarric told reporters at a daily briefing. “It is not from lack of trying from either our side or from their side, but as you know, the country falls under a number of bilateral sanctions, which makes it a bit challenging. So those discussions are continuing in good faith on all sides.”

In Tehran on Thursday, a spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, Saeed Khatibzadeh, said the Office of Foreign Assets Control, part of the U.S. Treasury Department, had granted a license for Iran to transfer the owed money to the United Nations from a bank in South Korea, one of several around the world where Iranian funds are impounded.

“This payment will be made soon,” Mr. Khatibzadeh said.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control, which manages the sanctions imposed on Iran, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Why We Don’t Associate With IPOB – Ambazonia Interim Govt

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Why We Don’t Associate With IPOB – Ambazonia Interim Govt

“It is political suicide and a very wrong calculation for us to take any position that jeopardises the lives of 120,000 of our people who are enjoying the hospitality of Nigeria right now under the eyes of the government and security forces.”

The leadership of the Ambazonia Interim Government, a separatist group in Cameroon, has insisted that its agitations for a separate country has no similarities with that of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

Samuel Sako, the leader of the group, said during a virtual press conference Sunday that they would not want to jeopardise their relationship with the Nigerian government because thousands of Southern Cameroonian refugees have benefitted from the country’s benevolence.

“It is political suicide and a very wrong calculation for us to take any position that jeopardises the lives of 120,000 of our people who are enjoying the hospitality of Nigeria right now under the eyes of the government and security forces,” said Mr Sako.

The IPOB, led by Nnamdi Kanu, who is facing charges of treasonable felony and terrorism before a Nigerian court, is a group in the country’s southeast agitating for a secession.

In August, Mr Sako had stated that the activists agitating for an independent Ambazonia have no alliance with IPOB, drawing harsh criticism from the Ambazonia Governing Council, another separatist group led by Ayaba Cho Lucas.

At Sunday’s press meeting, Mr Sako said the response from Mr Lucas does not carry any weight because he only represents a handful of Ambazonians.

“The weight of any statement depends on who made the statement, not the content of the words,” he said.

“So if I say that Ambazonia doesn’t have an alliance with IPOB, the weight of that statement depends on who I represent when I said so. This is the interim government, representing more than 90 per cent of the people of the Southern Cameroons.

Why We Don’t Associate With IPOB – Ambazonia Interim Govt

“The opposition in any nation can say anything but what matters is what the government says. And we say we don’t have an alliance and we don’t intend to have one because our fights are not the same. We don’t want to be misunderstood.”

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‘No form of similarity’
Mr Sako said that unlike the IPOB, the Ambazonian activists are not trying to break an existing country.

“We don’t want to go into those arguments, we don’t even want to create any form of similarity because there is none.

“A nation that was granted independence with internationally demarcated boundaries by the United Nations system went into a union with another country that has failed and we are restoring our independence.

“We don’t want to be misunderstood or compared to a false equivalent. So it does not work for us by any means to create an alliance that continues to perpetrate that misunderstanding which Paul Biya is building on.

“Because all the nations of the world don’t like the idea of secession, they just hate it from face value. But ours is not and we want to make that difference, so this is what it is.

“Secondly, at the level that we are right now, we need nations that can recognise us because we are not trying to be independent, we have restored our independence. What we are looking for is recognition. If Biafra or IPOB recognises us, what is that going to change?

“We need nations of the world to recognise us. Nigeria voted yes for our independence in 1961, in that Resolution 1608 of our independence.

“So we would rather have Nigeria endorse our position to restore our independence than to have a group of activists or movement that is fighting to secede to recognise us. Politically, what’s the calculation?”

Since 2017, the southern part of Cameroon has been locked in a battle with the central government in Yaounde over its quest to have an independent nation. The southerners – who are mostly English-speakers – had a protest of their alleged marginalisation by the government in the majority-French country.

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In response, President Paul Biya ordered a violent crackdown of the protesters.

Mr Sako said the southern Cameroonians voluntarily elected to join French Cameroon in 1961, but after the “failed experiment,” the latter began a forceful annexation of their territory.

“Our problem is not one of secession, which is why we keep correcting the call of secession. Secession means to cut off something from a whole. We have never been one. We attempted to join in a flawed process that even failed before it started,” he said.

“And the union has not been a good one by every commonsense. Therefore, we are just restoring that which we had. We came into this failed union with our internationally-demarcated boundaries by the United Nations, the same body that grants independence to nations granted us independence and said we should join following a process which has not been followed by the same international community.

“So we are restoring, from the time we came out to restore, I want to say all hell broke loose. We are being slaughtered like rats, they have called us rats, they have called us dogs and roaches in French Cameroon. They are killing us.”

Humanitarian crisis

Mr Sako said many inhabitants of southern Cameroon are now living in exile as a result of the crackdown by the central government.

“Let me give you the statistics: 500 of our villages have been burnt down, I’m not talking about those villages now that have been abandoned since 2017, I mean burnt down to ashes, it’s happening right now as we speak,” he said.

“120,000 of our people are in Nigeria as refugees right now, and some are in Ghana, more than 2,000, and in other countries. Some of them have been able to cross the Mediterranean, we don’t know where they are, in Cyprus, Mexico, many are dying in the process.

Why We Don’t Associate With IPOB – Ambazonia Interim Govt

“About 1.5 million of our people are hiding somewhere in the French Cameroon and about 10,000 of our people have disappeared. We don’t know, it is likely they have been killed by the French Cameroon thugs and buried in mass graves.

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“We have had many massacres and any time we have these massacres there will be outcry here and there, few human rights organisations will say something, because these French Cameroon and their French masters are spending so much money to lobby in the continent, the United States, everywhere. We have had several massacres. They have burnt down more than 100 of our people in houses, in the process of burning the houses they burn our own people in there. Our lives don’t matter to these people.”

The Ambazonian leader narrated a story of how security officials shot dead a five-year-old child at a checkpoint in southern Cameroon.

“They just shot the child, going to school, dressed in uniform, execution-style. This is what is going on and the world is indifferent.

“Why this problem is persisting is because of impunity. These people feel like they can kill us. They have killed more than 30,000 of our people since 2017, those are armchair statistics, the reality is more than that because they have also blocked the way for any international community to come and carry out a fact-finding mission, any international organisation including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

“How many more people have to be killed before the world wakes up? This is what was happening in Rwanda and the world was living in denial. After the genocide of the Tutsis, they came out with figures, 800,000 killed, maybe almost a million. Why did the world have to wait?

“Why should Africa wait until we become a piece of statistics? Why should Africa not wake up while it is happening? This is not costing the nations of Africa anything, it’s just to speak out, for example, take this matter to the ICJ, oblige Cameroon for arbitration, because this matter is backed by United Nations resolutions, that is our plea to the continent.”

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Many North-easterners are still chased away from their houses – EU envoy

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Many North-easterners are still chased away from their houses - EU envoy
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Many North-easterners are still chased away from their houses – EU envoy

The new Head of Delegation for the European Union (EU) and the ECOWAS, Ms Samuela Isopi, has said that over two million people remained displaced from their homes in the northeast of the country.

The new Head of Delegation for the European Union (EU) and the ECOWAS, Ms Samuela Isopi, has said that over two million people remained displaced from their homes in the northeast of the country.

Newsmen in Abuja reports that the envoy said this on Monday at the premiere of ”HOPE”, a documentary film, sponsored by the EU.

Created by Factstory, a subsidiary agency of the global French newswire service, Agence France-Presse (AFP), and also a production company specialising in audio-visual, online and editorial content present in 150 countries.

The documentary ”HOPE” was based on the ravaging effects of insurgency on displaced populations in Northern Nigeria.

It tracks the steps of an 11-year-old girl, Mariam Ibrahim, from Bama, whose father was killed when the town was overrun by the insurgents in 2014.

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In addition, it also features Muhammad Bello, a former fisherman from Baga, who fled with his family to Zabarmari, a dozen kilometres north of Maiduguri, due to heavy fighting in his hometown in 2015.

Many North-easterners are still chased away from their houses – EU envoy

Isoptin said she was happy and proud of the premiere since it was her first official public event, after presenting her Letters of Credence to President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday morning.

“Am proud that this premiere presents my very first official and public event as Ambassador of the EU to Nigeria after presenting this morning my Letter of Credence to President Buhari, this morning.

“The film HOPE tells us about the challenges that the residents of the northeast faced in their daily lives of which their sources of income were destroyed by the insurgency.

“A decade after the start of the insurgency in the northeast of Nigeria, the region is still suffering from the loss of lives and property, food insecurity and a very poor standard of living.

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“More than two million remain displaced from their homes, while hundreds of thousands are living in overcrowded displacement sites, without proper access to sanitation and clean water.

“More than 3 million people have food insecurity and an equally high number of children are suffering from acute malnutrition. The number of out of school children has also increased exponentially,” she said.

She added that the EU, as Nigeria’s partner in development, has committed about 130 million euros over the past four years to assist the Nigerian government in rebuilding, rehabilitation and peace efforts.

“This support has contributed to the restoration of basic services, such as health and nutrition, agriculture, sanitation, social protection education, conflict management, among others.

“Thanks to this support we are happy to see people are gradually returning to their communities with hope for a better future,” she said.

Also speaking, the Humanitarian Affairs Minister, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, agreed with the EU envoy about the importance of food security saying that the ministry, through the Northeast Development Commission was seriously addressing this issue.

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Farouq, who was represented by the Executive Director, Disaster Management, Dr Suleiman Abubakar, added that President Buhari had similarly shown commitment to address the issues of food insecurity and malnutrition.

“By initiating the national poverty reduction with a bold strategy, which specifically aims to address hunger, malnutrition and poverty through economic growth and social protection programmes.

“Furthermore, the government’s focus on promoting local production, providing loans to farmers and skills acquisition to others to enhance the social-economic capacities of the people.

“It is, therefore, worthy to know that the EU had been a key partner of the ministry in addressing some of the humanitarian challenges in the northeast.

“So, we further call on the EU to continue to support our efforts towards addressing the issues of food insecurity, particularly in the Northeast,” he said.

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Capital Of Sudan Locked Down Over Coup, Deadly Unrest

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Capital Of Sudan Locked Down Over Coup, Deadly Unrest
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Capital Of Sudan Locked Down Over Coup, Deadly Unrest

A child gestures in front of a burning road barricade during what the information ministry calls a military coup in Khartoum, Sudan, October 25, 2021. REUTERS-El Tayeb Siddig

Roads were blocked, shops were shut, phones were down and people queued for bread in Sudan on Tuesday, a day after the army seized power in a coup that triggered unrest in which at least seven people were killed.

Life came to a halt in the capital Khartoum and its twin city Omdurman across the Nile, with roads blocked either by soldiers or by barricades erected by protesters. Calls for a general strike could be heard blaring from mosque loudspeakers.

The night appeared to have passed comparatively quietly after Monday’s unrest when protesters took to the streets after soldiers arrested Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and other civilians in the cabinet. A health ministry official said seven people had been killed in clashes between protesters and the security forces.

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The leader of the takeover, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, dissolved the military-civilian Sovereign Council set up to guide Sudan to democracy following the overthrow of long-ruling autocrat Omar al-Bashir in a popular uprising two years ago.

Capital Of Sudan Locked Down Over Coup, Deadly Unrest

Burhan announced a state of emergency, saying the armed forces needed to protect safety and security. He promised to hold elections in July 2023 and hand over to an elected civilian government then. On Tuesday he dissolved committees that govern trade unions, Arabic news channels reported.

The Sudan information ministry, still loyal to Hamdok, said on its Facebook page the transitional constitution gave only the prime minister the right to declare an emergency and the military’s actions were a crime. Hamdok was still the legitimate transitional authority, it said.

The main roads and bridge between Khartoum and Omdurman were closed to vehicles by the military. Banks and cash machines were shut, and mobile phone apps widely used for money transfers could not be accessed. Some bakeries were open in Omdurman but people were queuing for several hours, longer than usual.

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“We are paying the price for this crisis,” a man in his 50s looking for medicine at one of the pharmacies where stocks have been running low said angrily. “We can’t work, we can’t find bread, there are no services, no money.”

The Sudanese Professionals Association, an activist coalition that played a major role in the uprising that toppled Bashir, has called for a strike.

Hamdok, an economist and former senior U.N. official, was detained and taken to an undisclosed location on Monday after refusing to issue a statement in support of the takeover, the information ministry said. Troops also arrested other civilian government figures and members of the Sovereign Council.

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Western governments have condemned the coup, called for the release of the detained civilian leaders and threatened to cut off aid, which Sudan needs to recover from an economic crisis.

The United States has said it was immediately pausing delivery of $700 million in emergency support.

Sudan has been ruled for most of its post-colonial history by military leaders who seized power in coups. It had become a pariah to the West and was on a U.S. terrorism blacklist under Bashir, who hosted Osama bin Laden in the 1990s and is wanted by the International Criminal Court in the Hague for war crimes.

Since Bashir was toppled, the military shared power uneasily with civilians under a transition meant to lead to elections in 2023. The country had been on edge since last month when a failed coup plot, blamed on Bashir supporters, unleashed recriminations between the military and civilians.

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