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South Africa to take over rotational chair of AU in 2020 | News | Africa

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South Africa will take over the rotational chair of the African Union (AU) in 2020, following on Egypt, which took over the chair of the continental organ on Sunday.

African heads of state formally elected South Africa during a closed session on Sunday morning, ahead of the opening ceremony of the 32nd African Union heads of state summit.

Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi will chair the continental body in 2019, in a move that follows efforts by this country to position itself closer to the rest of Africa.

Egypt was suspended from the continental body in 2013 following a coup d’etat in the country, but accepted back the next year after it held elections.

He takes over from Rwandan president Paul Kagame, who during his year at the helm focused strongly on African Union reforms and free trade by encouraging ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.

South Africa’s election to this position will put President Cyril Ramaphosa — in the likely event that he would still be in place after the May 8 general elections — in an important role on the international stage, as South Africa is also a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the next two years.

Ramaphosa has been lobbied by some groups to push for a more human rights-based approach, especially to issues in Africa.

As incoming chair, Ramaphosa will be working closely with Al-Sisi to smooth the transition to next year.

South Africa last chaired the African Union in 2002, when Thabo Mbeki was president, and the last time the Southern African Development Community had a turn at the helm of the AU, Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe was in the chair.

Eswatini, which was also a strong contender within the southern African bloc for the AU chair, and which has recently spent billions of rands in upgrading its conferencing facilities – is expected to host the AU’s 2020 mid-year gathering. — News24

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African News

Trump allows attorney general to declassify information about origins of Russia probe

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FILE PHOTO – U.S. Attroney General William Barr passes President Donald Trump as he heads to the podium to speak during the presentation of Public Safety Medals of Valor to officers in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 22, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday issued an order allowing Attorney General William Barr to declassify any information Barr sees fit during his review of the events that prompted the FBI to open an investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The order also directed leaders of the U.S. intelligence community and other departments and agencies to cooperate with Barr during his review.

Reporting by Steve Holland and Makini Brice; Editing by David Alexander

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Botswana To Resume The Hunting Of Elephants : NPR

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Elephants eat foliage at Botswana’s Mashatu game reserve in 2010.

Cameron Spencer/Getty Images


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Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Elephants eat foliage at Botswana’s Mashatu game reserve in 2010.

Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Botswana’s government is lifting a ban that protected its elephants from being hunted, part of a series of decisions that could have lasting impacts on the country’s conservation efforts.

In a letter to reporters, the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism referred to elephants as predators and said their numbers “appear to have increased.” It said a subcommittee found that conflicts between humans and elephants had risen, harming livestock and the livelihoods of Botswana’s people.

The announcement marked a sharp departure from the policies of former President Ian Khama, who suspended elephant hunting after data showed the population in decline. The ban took effect in 2014 but did not stop hunting in registered game ranches.

In May, Botswana’s newly elected president, Mokgweetsi Masisi, made international headlines for giving three African leaders stools made of elephant feet.

In June, he requested a review of the ban on hunting elephants.

His study group recommended “regular but limited elephant culling,” in addition to establishing elephant meat canning for pet food and other products. Among other conclusions, it recommended the government expand Botswana’s safari hunting industry.

Authorities said Thursday that the government accepted all recommendations except the regular culling of elephants and the establishment of meat canning. “This was rejected because culling is not considered acceptable given the overall continental status of elephants. Rather, a more sustainable method such as selective cropping should be employed,” the government said.

Conservationists around the world took to social media to denounce the government’s reversal on elephant hunting.

“Horrific beyond imagination,” said Paula Kahumbu, CEO of the Kenya-based WildlifeDirect. She said hunting was an archaic way to address the problems of living with mega fauna. “Africa, we are better than this,” she tweeted.

German organization Pro Wildlife wrote that hunting was a bloody sport, “#cruel, outdated, unethical and often undermining” conservation.

Other groups celebrated Botswana’s announcement, including Safari Club International, a U.S.-based organization that supports regulated trophy hunting.

President Paul Babaz called it “heartening” in a statement. “These findings clearly show that hunting bans actually hurt wildlife conservation; hunting is the key to providing the necessary revenue to fund anti-poaching efforts and on-the-ground conservation research,” he said.

Fewer than 400 elephant licenses will be granted annually, the government of Botswana announced on Twitter Thursday. It said it was planning for “strategically placed human wildlife conflict fences” and compensation for damage caused by wildlife. All migratory routes for animals that are not considered “beneficial” to Botswana’s conservation efforts will be closed, including an antelope route to South Africa.

Northern Botswana is home to Africa’s largest elephant population, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The population grew steadily from 80,000 in 1996 to 129,000 in 2014.

It happened as habitat loss and poaching devastated elephant populations across Africa. Between 2010 and 2012 alone, poachers slaughtered 100,000 African elephants, National Geographic reported.

Last September, the carcasses of 87 elephants were found close to a protected sanctuary in Botswana. They had been killed for their tusks.

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With both Houses of Parliament in place, it’s all eye…

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