Daily Archives: November 15, 2019

Regional Aviation & China-made Aircraft Development Forum 2019 Successfully Held in Xi’an

XI’AN, China, Nov. 15, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — A report from CARNOC.COM:

The Regional Aviation & China-made Aircraft Development Forum 2019 was successfully held in Yanliang, Xi’an on November 14.

Featuring the theme of “Discussing and Sharing Ideas to Promote the In-depth Cooperation of OBOR Civil Aviation”, nearly 200 guests from CAAC, Pacific-China Friendship Association, local governments, airport groups, airlines, financial institutions, AVIC and news media as well as civil aviation officials of ten countries attended the event and conducted extensive discussions on topics including the development and cooperation of aviation industries in OBOR countries, building of regional aviation environment in the region, regional aviation and airport operation, and development of China-made regional aircraft. At the event, the Aviation Industry Development Research Center of China also issued a Market Forecast Report for Civil Aircraft in China 2019-2038.

As a regional aircraft manufacturer, AVIC and its subsidiary Xi’an Aircraft use the “Modern Ark” series aircraft as a platform and have always been committed to building a civil aircraft industry chain and ecosystem while providing products for the market. So far, a total of 109 MA series aircraft have been delivered to customers in 19 countries across four continents, operating 268 air routes.

In addition, MA Series Aircraft Customer Conference 2019 and Operating Authorities Partner Conference for Modern Ark Aircraft were also held during the event.

Somalia to Push for Voter Registration Ahead of 2021 Elections

Somalia’s National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC) has announced plans to register millions of Somalis to participate in what would be the country’s first popular elections in more than a half-century.

NIEC Chairperson Halima Ismail Ibrahim told VOA that the commission would start registering voters in March 2020 in a campaign that could last months to reach voters in Mogadishu and the regions.

She said hundreds of registration centers would be open to biometrically register voters.

“At minimum, we want to register 2 [million] to 3 million Somalis,” Ibrahim said in an interview this week.

The Somali population is estimated at 12 million, but realistically only half can be reached and registered, according to Ibrahim.

“Many people are living outside the country. Many are in refugee camps. Somaliland is separate. There are areas where [militant group] al-Shabab is present where significant number of people live,” she said.

Registering voters to directly elect their parliament representatives would be a major departure from recent elections in the country. In the 2017 election, 14,000 electoral delegates chose the current parliament, while in the 2012 election only 135 clan elders were given the power to select the MPs.

Remaining challenges

Ibrahim said foreign companies would come to Somalia early next year to meet election officials and discuss how the registration process can be technically achieved.

Ibrahim noted that before any registration began, however, parliament should approve the draft election bill now being considered. She also said the federal government and regions needed to resolve ongoing differences.

For more than two years, the federal government has been in conflict with federal member states over the distribution of powers and the role of government in regional elections.

The federal government recently imposed air travel restrictions on one of the main regional administrations, Jubbaland, after its leader, Ahmed Mohamed Islam, rejected government efforts to play a prominent role in the region’s August leadership elections, in which he was re-elected.

The federal government has argued it is constitutionally mandated to “facilitate” regional elections. In Southwest state last year, the government did not just facilitate � it prevented one candidate, former al-Shabab deputy leader Mukhtar Robow, from running.

Constitutional contradictions

The draft election bill would give the public, for the first time in over 50 years, the chance to directly elect representatives. The bill endorses the proportional representation system, which empowers the majority party or largest coalition in parliament to choose the president.

Even if the parliament approves the election bill as written, though, it would violate the provisional constitution, said the deputy speaker of the upper house of parliament, Abshir Mohamed Ahmed. He said the constitution holds that the two houses of parliament � Lower (275 seats) and Upper (54) � choose the president.

The constitution also does not recognize the proportional representation system.

Former Chief Justice Ibrahim Idle Suleiman said the parliament first must amend the constitution before approving the election bill, which will mean a delay.

“Every bill must not contradict the constitution,” he said. “They [lawmakers] have to first make changes to the constitution and especially in articles governing the election of the president.”

Another contentious article in the bill relates to the delay of elections if serious circumstances arise � including widespread insecurity, natural disasters, diseases, droughts and “technical problems.” That term could be interpreted in different and competing ways, Somali law experts said.

Ibrahim said the maximum time that an election could be delayed is six months. An election is expected to take place in early 2021 before the president’s term expires on Feb. 8.

“The commission is the one that can propose to the parliament a delay for technical issues for two months, and again for an additional four months,” she said.

Feuds and bribery

Experts believe the biggest challenges to elections taking place on time are the ongoing political differences between the stakeholders, in particular the feud between federal and regional leaders.

Deputy Speaker Ahmed said the two sides needed to take confidence-building steps. He said both sides needed to follow the constitution on their respective responsibilities and work together on issues that are not well-defined in the constitution.

“They need to adopt an intergovernmental relationship act that defines their discussions and cooperation,” he said.

The bill also fails to address one of the key challenges that marred past elections � bribery and payment of large sums to regional lawmakers in return for votes.

A report by the U.N. Somalia Panel of Experts alleged that 82 Southwest MPs were transported to Mogadishu in early November 2018 to receive an initial payment of approximately $5,000 each.

Interviews conducted by the panel also confirmed the MPs were offered a further $20,000 to $30,000 to support specific candidates, the report said.

Suleiman said either the election bill or the political parities law must criminalize dirty money and bribery.

Source: Voice of America

Somalia Tries to Keep Rival Gulf States at Bay

NAIROBI – Somalia’s president says his government is under constant pressure to choose from among three rival Persian Gulf countries – Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar. The Somali government has tried to remain neutral, despite having a good working relationship with Qatar. Analysts warns that the rivalry and competing security interests are having a negative impact on Somalia’s politics and stability.

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed – also known as Farmaajo – wrapped up a four-day visit to Kenya Friday. While there, he addressed members of Nairobi’s large Somali community, and spoke about the challenges his administration is facing, especially from some Arab countries.

These days the Gulf states have joined the happenings in Somalia with its challenges. We are trying to keep them at bay so that at least the government can work and do something that people can touch in the short period it has got, Farmaajo said.

The Gulf crisis began in 2017 when Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates cut diplomatic ties with Qatar. Their political and security rivalries have spilled over into the Horn of Africa.

Zakaria Yusuf, a Somali analyst with the International Crisis Group, says the Gulf split is hurting Somalia.

“The problem caused by the Gulf states has brought disunity and affected the sovereignty of the Somali state. The disunity has made some Somalis take sides on the Gulf crisis and that has widened the rift between Somali people. Without seeking permission, the United Arab Emirates is constructing the port of Berbera and Bosaso. It’s also ignoring the central government in Mogadishu, Yusuf said.

The UAE’s construction of a military and commercial base in Berbera has become a source of tension between Farmaajo’s government and authorities in the self-declared independent state of Somaliland.

In 2017, the United Nations Monitoring Group for Somalia and Eritrea said construction of the base may constitute a violation of the long-standing international arms embargo on Somalia.

Farmaajo also addressed the poor relationships between his government in Mogadishu and Somalia’s federal regions. He said some regional presidents and foreign countries are competing with his government for power.

The federal states have got presidents, they are looking powers like the one of the central government, they want to form their military and constitution. If you don’t get along with them, they can be used by other states to fight the government, Farmaajo said.

Mumo Nzau, a governance and security expert, says Somalia and its neighbors need stability to prosper.

“That country has been in war for a long time. It’s slowly stabilizing, and everyone in future would want to be involved in working together with such countries. It’s not just the Gulf countries alone; the rest of the world is very much interested in a more stable Somalia,” Nzau said.

Somalia is just 15 months away from its next national poll, when the government is planning to conduct a one person-one vote election for the first time.

Source: Voice of America

US May Remove Sudan From List of State Sponsors of Terrorism, Official Says

The United States no longer has an adversarial relationship with the Sudanese government and is working with its counterparts on the possibility of removing it from a list of state sponsors of terrorism, a senior State Department official said Friday.

But Tibor Nagy, assistant secretary for African affairs, cautioned that doing so was a process with conditions.

“It’s not an event, it’s not flipping a light switch. It’s a process and we are heavily, continuously engaged with our Sudanese interlocutors on how we can go about doing that,” he told reporters in a briefing.

Asked if the United States was committing to lifting sanctions, Nagy said “No” but added: “There are conditions to such an event. Everybody is hoping that it will happen, everybody is hoping that it happens as quickly as possible, we all understand the hardships that it is causing,” he said.

The U.S. government added Sudan to its list of state sponsors of terrorism in 1993 over allegations that then-President Omar al-Bashir’s Islamist government was supporting terrorist groups. The designation makes Sudan technically ineligible for debt relief and financing from the IMF and World Bank. Congress needs to approve a removal.

Months of demonstrations over price hikes for fuel and bread and cash shortages led to an uprising against Bashir, who was toppled by the military in April. A civilian transitional government was formed in August and it agreed with the United States that it could start engaging with international institutions while still on a list of countries deemed sponsors of terrorism.

Source: Voice of America