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UN council runs the clock on Lebanon peacekeeping renewal | News



Beirut, Lebanon – Tough negotiations on the scope and scale of a 42-year-old UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon are set to run all the way up to a Friday United Nations Security Council (UNSC) session to renew its mandate.

The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has been stationed at Lebanon’s southern border since 1978, during the country’s civil war, and was beefed up following the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah. 

The force’s one-year mandate expires on August 31.

US President Donald Trump’s administration has for years been pushing for changes to the mission’s mandate that would increase the number of troops, now at roughly 10,000, and allow the forces to have more freedom of movement in the border area that is largely controlled by Hezbollah.

Along with Israel, the US has argued that UNIFIL is ineffective at implementing UNSC Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war and called for the removal of all armed groups in the south other than the Lebanese army.

Hezbollah maintains its heavily armed presence.

Lebanese officials and Hezbollah have meanwhile criticised UNIFIL for failing to stop near-daily Israeli infringements on Lebanese sovereignty via air, sea and land and point to Israel’s continued occupation of slivers of Lebanese territory as a reason for sustaining an armed struggle.

“Last year renewal negotiations were difficult. This year, it’s doubly so,” a diplomatic source told Al Jazeera. “It’s an election year so Trump wants to show he’s on top, and Israel is trying to get whatever they can get from this administration. 

“There is a chance it may not get renewed – you never know with this administration,” the source said. 

‘Red lines’

Lebanon has approved the renewal of the mandate without any changes, and is working with allies at the UNSC, chiefly France, to maintain UNIFIL’s mandate as is.

At least two drafts of the mandate renewal have been rejected in the past week. France on Wednesday submitted another one for a vote.

This year, critics of the mandate have pointed to a number of security incidents at the border that UNIFIL has been powerless to stop or meaningfully evaluate afterwards.

In the past month alone, Israel twice shelled southern border areas in response to alleged Hezbollah activity – once an infiltration attempt, and the second time, on Tuesday night, live-fire towards an Israeli patrol. 

Hezbollah denied the first incident in late July but has not denied the second. 

After the July incident, UNIFIL pledged to undertake an investigation into what happened. But the diplomatic source said “there were no conclusive findings and nothing really happened”.

UNIFIL spokesperson Andrea Tenenti did not respond to a request for comment on the investigation into last month’s conflagration.

‘Powder keg’

UNIFIL’s work is also often impeded by farmers and villagers who do not let them enter parts of the south, as well as by private property belonging to citizens or Hezbollah-aligned NGO Green Without Borders, which Israel bombed on Tuesday. 

Former US Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman said in a June opinion piece these activities are “all undoubtedly connected to Hezbollah”. 

If its demands are not met, the US has threatened to either veto the renewal, refuse to fund the force, or shorten its mandate to six months. 

But an official Lebanese source told Al Jazeera UNIFIL does important work, despite the “red lines” that were set around “private property in the south, which is an issue of our sovereignty”.

The source said regular tripartite meetings between the Lebanese and Israeli militaries, facilitated by the UN at the southern border, help to defuse tensions.

The source also said while the mandate was imperfect, it had brought fragile calm to a region that was formerly synonymous with instability. 

“Many people don’t remember this now but before 1978 the south was like the wild wild west. Anyone with a missile or bomb could go to the border and do what ever they want,” the official source said.

“In their [UNIFIL’s] absence, it becomes a powder keg where anything could happen, and that’s not in anyone’s interest – neither Lebanon nor Israel nor America.”

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million



Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe




A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News




Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.

Source –

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