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AU Drops AstraZeneca Vaccine Plan

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The African Union says it has dropped plans to secure coronavirus vaccines from the Serum Institute of India because of supply concerns and is instead exploring options with the US Drugmaker, Johnson & Johnson.

The head of Africa’s Centres for Disease Control, John Nkengasong said the AU’s decision had nothing to do with the possible link to blood clots in rare cases involving the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine which will still be supplied to Africa through the UN’s Covax scheme.

Nkengasong said reliable supplies of vaccines were vital – and that Indian restrictions on exports had complicated things for Africa.  He also said the AU had already signed a deal for up to 400 million single dose jabs from Johnson & Johnson.

India’s serum institute is licensed to make global supplies of AstraZeneca, but Delhi has halted overseas stocks to deal with India surging infections.

Meanwhile, Botswana has adjusted he eligible age for COVID vaccine in the country citing vaccines shortage. The health ministry says only those 75 years and older will now be given the vaccine because of dwindling stock.

Health ministry director Malebogo Kebabonye was quoted by local media as saying young persons were advantaged because of online booking but now priority will be on the elderly.

Botswana has vaccinated nearly fourteen thousand of its citizens, with only 24 reporting side effects like flu, headache and fever.

The country received 24,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in late March.  The shipment was the first batch of 100,000 doses expected in the country through the World Health Organization Covax global vaccine initiative.

 

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White People And Dogs ‘Rescued First’ In Mozambique – Amnesty

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White People And Dogs 'Rescued First' In Mozambique

Amnesty International has alleged that rescuers in Mozambique gave priority to white people in an evacuation during an attack by jihadists in March.

The human rights body citing survivors’ accounts said two dogs were also airlifted to safety, leaving people behind in a hotel where they had sought refuge.

Amnesty International’s regional director Deprose Muchena said  “these are alarming allegations that the rescue plan was racially segregated, with white contractors obviously receiving preferential treatment.”

One survivor told the rights group “we were about 220 people trapped there in the hotel – we [local black people] were the majority, and the whites were supposed to be about 20. After the rescue and escape, we were about 170 people still alive. Most of the whites were rescued by helicopters, before we left the hotel by car.”

According to BBC report, Amnesty said it spoke to 11 survivors out of the 220 who had been in the hotel, including five who survived an attack as they attempted to flee.

Muchena said “abandoning people during an armed assault simply because of the colour of their skin is racism, and violates the obligation to protect civilians. This cannot go unanswered.”

Meanwhile, the private company which was involved in the rescue operation, Dyck Advisory Group told the AFP news agency that it would issue a statement later but emphasized that the allegations were “not at all accurate.”

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Zambia Dissolves Parliament Ahead Of Elections

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As Zambians prepare to head to the polls on August 21, the country’s parliament has been dissolved exactly 90 days before the upcoming general election as required by the constitution.

On Wednesday, the house held its last sitting and the clerk announced that it would formally dissolve on Friday.

Zambian President Edgar Lungu is seeking re-election and has in the past assured international partners of a free and fair election.

Ahead of the elections, the United Kingdom has contributed £500,000 ($703,000) to a democracy programme managed by the United Nations Development Programme.

It will support a democratic election while ensuring legitimacy and fairness during the electoral process.

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Kenyan Court Slams Brakes On President’s Constitutional Changes

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Kenya Teachers Ordered To Get COVID-19 Vaccine

A Kenya high court has annulled a plan to amend the nation`s constitution and ruled that president Uhuru Kenyatta had violated the constitution by initiating a process which ought to be driven by the ordinary citizen.

The government-sponsored constitution amendment bill, popularly referred to as the building bridges initiative, would have expanded the executive and parliament.

The court declared the bill was irregular, illegal and unconstitutional.

The five-judge bench unanimously declared that the president had failed the leadership and integrity test and that the constitution amendment process was illegal.

The proposed changes under the bill reintroduced the office of the prime minister, the creation of 70 new constituencies, and an affirmative action clause that could have created at least 300 new unelected MPs.

President Kenyatta and Odinga, who have been pushing for the reforms, say the proposed constitutional changes will end the winner-take-all structure of current Kenyan politics, which is often followed by deadly violence.

Critics have said the bbi is a selfish initiative to reward political dynasties, and that it will lead to a bloated parliament and executive which Kenya – a country already burdened by debt – cannot afford.

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