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Ethiopia PM Meets AU Envoys But Bars Them From Tigray

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After more than three weeks of military conflict in Ethiopia, the country’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed has on Friday met an African Union mission in Addis Ababa to try to mediate between his government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Initially, Abiy has refused to negotiate with the TPLF and has rebuffed calls for dialogue as “interference” in Ethiopia’s internal affairs as he branded international efforts to bring the two parties to the table as “unwelcome”. After Friday’s meeting with three special AU envoys,

The prime minister, who won last year’s Nobel Peace Prize said in a statement after Friday’s meeting with three special AU envoys that his government was seeking to ensure the protection of civilians, it was opening a humanitarian corridor, and it will welcome back Ethiopian refugees who fled into Sudan.

However, the prime minister said his government would continue its efforts against what it calls the “TPLF clique”.

The government has already said the AU envoys – former presidents Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and Kgalema Motlanthe of South Africa – will not be allowed to travel to Tigray.

Abiy said he appreciated the “esteemed African elders” for their “readiness to support”, “this gesture and… the steadfast commitment this demonstrates to the principle of African solutions to African problems.”

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South Africa Expects First Vaccine Doses Next Week

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South Africa’s Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has said the country is expected to receive one million COVID-19 vaccine doses from India on Monday

Mkhize said the AstraZeneca doses would undergo technical processes on arrival, including quality assurance, adding that “these processes will take a minimum of 10 days and a maximum of 14 days to complete, upon which we will be ready to distribute the vaccines to all provinces.”

The country which remains the most infected with COVID-19 in Africa is also expecting an additional 500,000 doses in February and a further 20 million doses procured for June as it continues to battle a highly infectious new mutation of the virus that has led to a surge in new infections.

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Baby Vaccination Drops In Rwanda Amid Lockdown

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Baby vaccination rate is of concern to Rwandan authorities.  The Rwanda biomedical center says it expects to vaccinate 360,000 babies every year with their first shot, but the number has dropped in Kigali during the total lockdown.

Some mothers in Kigali city say they cannot miss their babies’ vaccination schedules despite the city currently being in total lockdown.

At a vaccination exercise in Kigali on Monday, not all who were supposed to bring their babies for the vaccination showed up, thinking the medical personnel would not be available because of the lockdown.

The Rwanda biomedical center says the government spends $10 million annually to provide babies with no cost vaccinations.

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Tunisian Protesters Marching To Parliament Blocked

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Hundreds of Tunisians have taken to the streets in renewed protests.  The demonstrations first, in the town of Sbeitla were triggered by reports that an injured young man during last week’s clashes, Haykel Rachdi, had died. The man’s family said he was hit by a tear gas canister.

He had joined nationwide protests to mark the 10th anniversary of the Tunisian revolution, which ushered in democracy and triggered the Arab spring uprisings across the region.

Soldiers were deployed to government buildings in the town after protesters tried to storm the police station.

On Tuesday, Tunisian police blocked the path of hundreds of protestors who were trying to reach the parliament building in the capital, Tunis.

It was the latest in a series of demonstrations that have been fueled by frustration at the lack of jobs and spiraling prices.

More than one thousand young protesters had been arrested during the previous protests, and many of the protesters on Tuesday were calling for their release.

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