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Mali’s youngest and first female minister is on a quest to rebuild her country

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Kamissa Camara was named Mali’s foreign minister in September, joining a 33 member cabinet tasked with restoring peace and rebuilding the economy in President Keita’s second and final term.

35-year Camara previously served as Keita’s foreign policy adviser, a position she was appointed to in July this year.

Camara, who is the first woman to hold the position of foreign affairs minister in Mali’s history is the founder of the Sahel Strategy Forum, a platform that promotes peace, security and development across the Sahel.

Kamissa Camara is an expert in African politics with a concentration on the Sahel/West Africa region. She has been extensively featured in the press and conferences on various issues affecting the Sahel region including governance, conflict, democracy and security.

She is one of 11 women —  out of 32 ministers total — in Mali’s new cabinet. Camara says she aims to build political bridges with Africa. “My mantra is to enrich foreign policy with African accents. As an American woman who was born and raised in France by West African parents, I strive to provide analyses that highlight religious and cultural specificities. Politics, democracy, security and good governance is the essence of my work, reflections and publications”, she declares on her website

As the diplomatic advisor to the president, Kamissa Camara has been vocal about the need for strategic partnerships between Mali and other countries, including China.

Speaking about herself, Kamissa Camara revealed that her mission is to help the West make sense of African politics by building intellectual bridges between sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and the United States.

Her mantra is to enrich foreign policy with African accents. As an American woman who was born and raised in France by West African parents, she strives to provide analyses that highlight religious and cultural specificities.

On how peace can be achieved in the war-torned region Camara notes that “There is a terrorist issue in the Sahel region and also in the world,” It’s really difficult, or I would say even inaccurate, to take the significant issues of Mali out of the issues of the Sahel region. The terrorist issue is not a Malian issue. We have been experiencing it all over the world.”

While she confirms that there’s inter-communal violence, Camara says the situation “cannot be simply described as a terrorist situation … It’s a pastoralist issue between Fulani herders that are against Bozo herders torn  It’s a complex security situation that has been exacerbated by terrorist groups, that has been utilised by terrorist groups so now it is being perceived as an ethnic conflict, which is not necessarily the root of it.” 

Among other factors, Camara says, “there’s definitely a lack of funding for the joint force to be fully operational. We currently have need of over 400 million euros per year [roughly $458m]. For now it’s our job to make sure that the international community understands that this joint force is the only sustainable solution we currently have in order to curtail the fragile security situation that we have in the Sahel region.

“We are trying to find solutions to our own problems, and this is what the international community has been pushing African countries to do … What we are trying to do is for five Sahel countries that are facing the same security issues, to work together in order to curtail a growing terrorist threat.”

Mali’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth is stable at around 6% and there’s been a rise in agricultural productivity. The IMF and World Bank continue to support Mali financially.

“Mali is a very resilient country,” says Camara. “Mali has gone through a lot since 2011. We have … gone through a military coup, an insurgency, but we also have had a lot of successes. We organised two peaceful presidential elections. We have a peace process that is ongoing. We have the DDR [disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programme] that just started. We have a full ministry in charge of the peace process. We have a six percent growth rate …”

“Despite the security challenges that we currently have, we’re a country that is ready for investments and, we are ready to take charge of all of the issues that we’re currently having, we’re finding solutions to them,” says Camara, who wants to ensure that “the international community understands that the issues of Mali are not necessarily focused on the security aspect of it, that we have potential. That we have things to offer.”

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Nigerian ambassador to UN elected as its 74th general assembly president

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Members of the United Nations General Assembly have chosen the Nigerian ambassador to the world body as its next president.

Tijjani Muhammad-Bande

They elected Tijjani Muhammad-Bande by acclamation Tuesday to preside over the 74th U.N. session for one year, starting in September.

He’s the second Nigerian president of the 193-member General Assembly. Joseph Nanven Garba was president during the 1989-1990 session.

Muhammad-Bande succeeds Maria Fernanda Espinosa of Ecuador.

He told General Assembly members that when they convene in September, priorities will include climate change, universal health coverage, gender equality and the eradication of poverty and hunger.

The 61-year-old diplomat was born in Zagga, in northwest Nigeria, and has a master’s degree in political science from Boston University and a Ph.D. in the same field from the University of Toronto.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has applauded the emergence of Prof. Tijjani Muhammad – Bande, as the President of the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly.

The ministry’s Acting Spokesperson, Mr Friday Akpan, in a statement in Abuja said the election is a positive development and demonstrates the confidence in Nigeria’s ability to pilot the affairs of the revered global institution.

Muhammad-Bande, the sole candidate for the position, was elected through acclamation at the 87th plenary meeting of the Assembly in New York.

”Prof. Muhammad-Bande is the second Nigerian to occupy the position.

”Maj.- Gen. Joseph Garba (Rtd) was the President of the 44th session of the United Nations General Assembly between 1989 and 1990,” he said.

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Trump turns his radar on Mexico

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President Donald Trump said he would impose a 5% tariff on Mexican goods until that country stops immigrants from entering the U.S. illegally – brandishing a weapon used against a widening group of countries and perhaps jeopardizing a new North American trade agreement.

TOPSHOT – US President Donald Trump speaks to the press before departing the White House for the G7 summit in Washington, DC, on June 8, 2018. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

The tariff would take effect June 10, “until such time as illegal migrants coming through Mexico, and into our country, STOP,” Trump said in a Twitter post-Thursday night.

He warned the levy “would gradually increase until the illegal immigration problem is remedied at which time the tariff will be removed.”

The tariffs could rise as high as 25% on Oct. 1, Trump said in a statement released by the White House.
The move, which has major implications for American automakers and other companies with production south of the border and the U.S. economy as a whole, represents Trump’s latest expansion of his trade wars.
It comes just days after he removed steel tariffs on Mexico that had caused retaliation against U.S. farm products.

Jesus Seade, Mexico’s undersecretary of foreign relations for North America, told reporters in Mexico City on Thursday at a previously scheduled event that the country won’t retaliate before discussing the matter with the U.S.

But the tariff threat, he added, “if turned into reality, would be extremely serious.”

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Theresa May set to resign as Britain’s Prime Minister

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British Prime Minister Theresa May announced her resignation in an emotional address on Friday, ending a dramatic three-year tenure of near-constant crisis over Brexit.

“It is and will always remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit,” May, her voice breaking, said outside her Downing Street office.

May, 62, said she would step down as Conservative Party leader on June 7.

She would remain as prime minister in a caretaker role until a replacement is elected by the party.

May, who took charge in the aftermath of the 2016 EU referendum, was forced to make way following a mutiny in her cabinet and Conservative Party over her ill-fated strategy to take Britain out of the European Union.

She will become one of Britain’s shortest-serving post-WWII prime ministers, remembered for presiding over one of the most chaotic periods in the country’s modern political history and for her inability to deliver Brexit.

“I will shortly leave the job that it has been the honour of my life to hold — the second female prime minister but certainly not the last,” May said.

“I do so with no ill-will, but with enormous and enduring gratitude to have had the opportunity to serve the country I love,” she said, appearing close to tears as she turned back abruptly and walked back into her office.

Brexit in limbo
May was pushed into the humiliating spectacle of announcing her departure from office following a meeting with the head of the Conservative Party committee in charge of leadership elections.

She had previously said she would step aside once her unpopular EU divorce deal had been passed by parliament, and this week launched a short-lived bid for lawmakers to approve it in early June, that has now been postponed.

MPs have overwhelmingly rejected the withdrawal agreement she struck with European Union leaders last year three times, brutally weakening May on each occasion.

With her resignation, the manner of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union appears more uncertain than ever.

She had been under growing pressure to quit following months of political paralysis over Brexit, which have intensified in recent weeks following disastrous results in the May 2 English local elections.

The Conservatives are expected to fare similarly badly in this week’s European Parliament elections when the results are announced late Sunday.

‘One last roll of the dice’
May’s latest effort to force through her despised Brexit deal, which included giving MPs the option of holding a referendum on the agreement, proved her final undoing.

The move prompted a furious reaction from Conservatives — including cabinet members.

“I thought she deserved one last roll of the dice. But she took those dice and threw them off the table,” a senior minister told The Times.

The clamour for her to stand down reached fever pitch after Andrea Leadsom — one of cabinet’s strongest Brexit backers — resigned on Wednesday from her post as the government’s representative in parliament.

She became the 36th minister to quit May’s dismally dysfunctional government — a modern record.

In her resignation letter Leadsom told the prime minister she no longer believed her approach to Brexit would deliver on the 2016 referendum result to leave the EU.

Several senior cabinet ministers reportedly then held “frank” talks with May on Thursday.

No deal?
May’s departure will kickstart a Conservative Party leadership contest — already unofficially underway — that is expected to encompass more than a dozen candidates and favour a Brexiteer.

That could lead to Britain, which has already twice delayed its departure from the European Union, opting to leave the bloc without a deal on October 31, the extended deadline agreed with Brussels last month.

Tory MPs will hold a series of votes to whittle the contenders down to a final two that will be put to the party’s more than 100,000 members.

Former foreign secretary and gaffe-prone Brexit cheerleader Boris Johnson is the membership’s favourite, but a considerable number of Conservative MPs are thought to hold serious reservations about his suitability for the top job.

He has repeatedly said Britain should not fear a so-called no-deal Brexit.

‘No legacy’
May was the surprising victor in a 2016 leadership contest to replace predecessor David Cameron after he resigned in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum

Despite having campaigned to stay in the EU, she embraced the cause with the mantra “Brexit means Brexit”.

However the decision to hold a disastrous snap election in June 2017, when she lost her parliamentary majority, left her stymied.

May will leave office without any significant achievements to her name — other than the bungled handling of Brexit, according to political analysts.

“She doesn’t really have a legacy that she can call her own other than just having to manage what is a very difficult issue,” said Simon Usherwood, from the University of Surrey’s politics department.

“I think anybody in her position would have had great difficulty.”

Others were more brutal in their assessment.

“It was only an impossible job because she made it one,” said Tim Bale of Queen Mary University of London.

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British Prime Minister to resign

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British Prime Minister Theresa May has said she will quit as Conservative leader on 7 June, paving the way for a contest to decide a new prime minister. In an emotional statement in Downing Street, Mrs. May said she had “done my best” to honor the 2016 EU referendum result.

It would remain a matter of “deep regret” that she had been unable to deliver Brexit, she added.
May will not leave office immediately. She will step aside as leader of the Conservative Party on June 7, which will trigger a leadership contest to replace her on June 10. But she will stay on as prime minister until her successor is selected.

A new prime minister was “in the best interests of the country,” May said in a statement in front of London’s 10 Downing Street. “It is and always will remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit.”

The countdown to May’s departure began the moment she brought back the Brexit deal negotiated with the EU late last year, which both her party and the opposition Labour Party hated. When she put the deal before Parliament in January, MPs defeated it by a stunning margin of 230 votes — the largest defeat for a prime minister in modern British history.

May failed again on the second attempt in March. Before making her third attempt, she tried a new tactic to get her deal passed: promising to resign if it succeeded. Conservatives who disliked her more than they disliked her deal went along with it, but May still couldn’t muster the votes to pass the plan that would take the UK out of the EU.

The political stalemate forced her to twice seek an extension of the original March 29 Brexit deadline to avoid a no-deal Brexit. That new deadline is now set for October 31, 2019, months after the original departure date.

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