August news in brief

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Kiir bans singing the anthem in his absence

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has banned anyone from singing the national anthem unless he is present, a minister said last month.

Information Minister Michael Makuei said different leaders and institutions were playing the anthem “at whim”, which was an abuse of the national tune, according to the Presidency.

“We are seeing now even a minister, undersecretary, even governor or state minister, whenever there is a function the national anthem is sung. For the information of everybody, the national anthem is only meant for the president, in a function only attended by the president,” Makuei said.

He said Kiir’s order was passed during a cabinet meeting.

Makuei said that with the exception of South Sudan’s embassies, which represent the president, and schools where children are taught the anthem, no one was allowed to sing the song in the President’s absence.

Military leaders have also been banned from addressing the public when in uniform. He did not give details on what the punishment would be if the orders are not followed, but that offenders will “carry your own cross.”

Botswana to endorse Kenya for UN seat 

Botswana will endorsing Kenya’s bid for a seat at the UN Security Council when a position becomes vacant later this year.

Visiting Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi said last month his country would back Kenya out of “trust” that Kenya would support it, too, in other international bids.

“Botswana will vote before Kenya votes itself in. This is out of a desire to further nourish our friendship because we trust you with your willingness to engage with our issues that need broad discussions at the United Nations,” he said during a briefing with President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Masisi’s visit, a first in Nairobi since he took power in 2018, comes against a backdrop of an unimplemented Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in 2016 when Botswana was then led by President Ian Khama – who wasn’t the biggest supporter of Kenyan leadership.

The two leaders, at a State House meeting, witnessed the signing of agreements which cover bilateral trade, air transport and ICT. 

The leaders witnessed the signing of the non-double taxation agreement which was signed by Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma and Internal Affairs and Co-operation Minister Unity Dow for Kenya and Botswana, respectively.

President Kenyatta said they had sought to strengthen co-operation in mineral exploration, livestock breeding, trade, tourism promotion, agribusiness and manufacturing.

IMF downgrades world growth, warns of ‘precarious’ 2020

Global trade tensions, continued uncertainty and rising prospects for a no-deal Brexit are sapping the strength of the world economy, which faces a “precarious” 2020, the International Monetary Fund has warned.

Trade conflicts are undercutting investment and weakening manufacturing, and the IMF urged countries to avoid using tariffs to resolve their differences.

In the quarterly update of its World Economic Outlook, the IMF trimmed the global forecast issued in April by 0.1 percentage point this year and next, with growth expected to hit 3.2 percent in 2019 and 3.5 percent in 2020. But the report sounded the alarm, saying things could easily go wrong.

“Global growth is sluggish and precarious, but it does not have to be this way, because some of this is self-inflicted,” IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath said.

Gopinath warned that the recovery seen next year “is precarious” because “close to 70 percent of the increase relies on an improvement in the growth performance in stressed emerging market and developing economies and is therefore subject to high uncertainty.”

However, the US, which is at the centre of most of the trade tensions, saw one of the rare upgrades in the report, as it got a short-term boost from strong economic growth in the early part of the year.

The IMF raised the US GDP forecast by three-tenths of a percentage point to 2.6 percent for 2019, but weakening demand, in part due to the trade conflicts and tariffs, points to “slowing momentum over the rest of the year.”

China, which is the main target of US trade actions, was already experiencing a slowdown. 

But “the negative effects of escalating tariffs and weakening external demand have added pressure,” the report said. A sudden slowdown in China is a key risk to the world economy.

The IMF cautioned that there is an abundance of “potential triggers” for the situation to turn negative quickly, including the possibility of more US tariffs on China or on European autos, as well as a no-deal Brexit and high debt levels in many countries.

The latest forecast was once again full of downgrades, with small downward revisions for Germany and Japan, but much larger cuts for Brazil, Mexico, Russia, India and South Africa – countries that were the engine for global growth in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. (

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