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A new immigration policy is preventing foreign students from using their skills in the US

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Unemployment is down, the economy is growing and companies have a need for recently graduated skilled workers. Some of those recent hires are foreign students who have applied for H-1B visas. But now, thanks to a change in Trump’s immigration policy, they can’t start working. That’s bad for the economy, bad for the workers, and a terrible policy for the country.

Previously, recent graduates who had applied for an H1-B visa could stay in the country and start working. The new policy changes mean that those individuals can stay, but they can’t work — if they do, they could be barred from the U.S. long-term.

The problem with this is that staying in the U.S. without a job is really, really expensive.

It didn’t have to be this way. These workers had already applied for the visa, and those with expired student visas or recent tech graduates had been given an extension until Oct. 1 that meant they could keep working.

That deadline has passed without those applications being processed. Adding to the pain is the fact that the option of paying a little more for expedited processing has also been also been suspended by the Trump administration.

Instead, companies are shorthanded, willing workers are left without jobs, and the only option seems to be to wait while U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services tries to process applications.

This might seem like a small problem. It’s not.

For one thing, it means that U.S. companies lose out on already-hired talent as their employees wait around for authorization. For another, it means that foreign students who want to work and contribute to the growth and profit of U.S. businesses and the economy cannot do so. That may push them to look elsewhere. Additionally, a failure to process visas in a timely fashion likely discourages students who expect employment after graduation from attending U.S. schools, which have come to depend on international students for their tuition dollars.

These are serious consequences and should be easily avoided. Trump’s crackdown on immigration shouldn’t come at the expense of students, companies, and the economy.

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Brexit: Theresa May to join EU summit after surviving vote

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Theresa May is heading to Brussels for an EU summit, the morning after surviving a vote of confidence.
The prime minister is seeking legally binding pledges from EU leaders on the “backstop” – the plan to avoid a return to a manned Northern Ireland border.
Critics say the plan will keep the UK tied to EU rules indefinitely and curb its ability to strike trade deals.
The EU says it will not renegotiate the backstop but may agree to greater assurances on its temporary nature.
It seems unlikely that would win over enough support for her Brexit plan to have a realistic chance of getting through the House of Commons, with tensions heightened in the Conservative Party in the wake of Wednesday evening’s vote.
Theresa May did win the ballot of Conservative MPs, on whether she should remain their party leader, by 200 votes to 117. But in a last-minute pre-vote move, she offered a promise to her MPs that she would step down before the next election.

Speaking in Downing Street after the vote, Mrs May vowed to deliver the Brexit “people voted for” but said she had heard the concerns of MPs who voted against her.
But Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said, despite the “high drama” of Wednesday, “nothing has really changed”.
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said it was now up to Mrs May to listen to her party and “push the EU to resolve the backstop”.
What will happen at the EU summit?
Earlier this week, the prime minister travelled to meet EU leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, to raise the issues surrounding the withdrawal agreement at Westminster one-on-one.
But a trip to meet the Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar had to be cancelled because of the leadership vote.
At Thursday’s summit, Mrs May will have an opportunity to spell out face-to-face the problems to leaders of all the other 27 member states.
The EU leaders will then consider what could be done – without Mrs May in the room.

 

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High-speed train crash in Turkey leaves at least nine dead and dozens injured

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Nine people were killed and nearly 50 injured after a high-speed train crashed into a locomotive in the Turkish capital on Thursday, officials said.

Transport Minister Cahit Turhan told reporters in televised remarks that three of those killed were operators of the train.
One of the victims died in hospital, he added.
Turhan added that 47 people were injured and were in hospital for treatment.
The fast train had been on its way from Ankara’s main station to the central province of Konya and according to Hurriyet daily, there were 206 passengers on board.
Earlier, the Ankara governor’s office said three out of a total of 46 people had been seriously injured.

The death toll was rising fast. Ankara governor Vasip Sahin said earlier on Thursday morning that four people had been killed.

“This morning there was an accident after the 6.30 high-speed train to Konya hit a locomotive tasked with checking rails on the same route,” Sahin told reporters in televised remarks.

Turhan said the accident took place six minutes after the train left Ankara as it entered the Marsandiz station.

The governor said search and rescue efforts continued as “technical investigations” were underway to find out exactly what caused the crash in Yenimahalle district.
He said information about the cause of the crash would be shared with the public when it is known.

Images published by Turkish media showed some wagons had derailed and debris from the train scattered on the rail track, which was covered in snow.
The windows of one wagon were completely broken while another wagon had been smashed after hitting the footbridge, which also collapsed, an AFP correspondent at the scene said.
The Ankara public prosecutor launched an investigation into the crash, state news agency Anadolu reported.

The Ankara to Konya high-speed route was launched in 2011 and was followed in 2014 with a high-speed link between Ankara and Istanbul.
The accident comes after another rail disaster in July this year when 24 people were killed and hundreds more injured after a train derailed in Tekirdag province, northwest Turkey, due to ground erosion following heavy rains.
Turkey’s rail network has been hit by several fatal accidents in recent years.
In March 2014, a commuter train smashed into a minibus on a railway track in the southern Turkish province of Mersin, which left 10 dead.
In January 2008, nine people were killed when a train derailed in the Kutahya region south of Istanbul because of faulty tracks.

Turkey’s worst rail disaster in recent history was in July 2004 when 41 people were killed and 80 injured after a high-speed train derailed in the northwestern province of Sakarya.

 

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Gabon president makes his first appearance after long medical absence

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Gabon President Ali Bongo on Monday made his first appearance since falling ill nearly six weeks ago, in a video shared by the presidency from his medical leave in Morocco.
Bongo suffered a stroke while at a conference in Saudi Arabia on Oct. 24, sources told Reuters.
The presidency initially said he was struggling with severe fatigue and later said he had some “bleeding” that required medical attention.

Bongo’s wife last week said he was travelling to Morocco to continue his recovery.
No one, however, has shared specific details on Bongo’s condition. With his exact condition and whereabouts unknown, unsubstantiated rumours have swirled that he was incapacitated or dead.
Gabon’s top court ruled last month that the vice president would chair the cabinet in Bongo’s absence.

In the short video clip shared with journalists, Bongo appears sitting down in a blue and white robe alongside his old friend, Moroccan King Mohammed VI. The two men are seen chatting briefly, though the video has no sound.
At one point, Bongo, who is seated at a right angle to the camera, the right side of his face obscured, sips on what appears to be a glass of milk.
The Bongo family has ruled the oil-producing West African country for nearly half a century. Bongo has been president since succeeding his father, Omar, who died in 2009. His re-election in 2016 was marred by violent protests amid claims of fraud.

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The G20’s Africa problem

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This has not been an easy year for the G20. The 2018 summit of the leaders of the world’s largest economies is being held in Buenos Aires, a city still reeling from a currency collapse. More broadly, the summit is taking place amid a fracturing of the multilateral order. Everything from NATO to the consensus on climate change appears to be coming apart at the seams.

Still, the G20 has long positioned itself as a global problem solver, having been conceived after the 1997 Asian financial crisis and then emerging as the primary global forum for addressing the crash of 2008. A decade later, a global crisis is on the agenda once again, only this time it has assumed the form of a mounting trade war between the United States and China.
Unlike in 2008, however, the world’s capacity for multilateral decision-making is deteriorating. The European Union remains preoccupied with its own internal disputes, and the United States, under President Donald Trump, has abandoned multilateralism and weakened the institutions needed to solve complex challenges such as the threat of technological unemployment from automation. And the effects of the Trump administration’s protectionism are already being felt. The World Trade Organization recently reported that in response to US tariffs, G20 countries have imposed around 40 new import restrictions, affecting $481 billion in global trade – a sixfold increase from the year before.
But while the world’s economic giants have been withdrawing from multilateralism, Africa has been quietly moving in the opposite direction. Earlier this year, the continent’s countries agreed on a new African Continental Free Trade Agreement, and committed to pursuing deeper cross-border economic and infrastructure integration within the framework of the African Union, as outlined in the AU’s Agenda 2063.
But, despite its embrace of multilateralism, Africa has struggled to get the G20’s attention. South Africa is the only African country in the G20, and it must constantly walk the fine line of speaking for the continent’s interests without imposing its voice on its neighbors. True, representatives from the AU and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development do attend G20 summits. But the countries occupying each institution’s rotating leadership do not always have the capacity to advocate forcefully on the continent’s behalf.
Moreover, this problem is compounded by the limited scope of the G20’s interactions with Africa. Rather than including Africa in wider discussions about global trade architecture, climate change, and the future of work, the G20 has largely limited its engagement with the continent to addressing narrower development issues.
To be sure, Africa’s large infrastructure gap, slow regional integration, and high levels of unemployment all stem from underdevelopment. No one is saying that development should be ignored; but nor should it be the only focus. When international engagement with Africa is confined to the silo of development, the continent is effectively reduced to a set of problems for external actors to solve. This tendency prevents Africa from participating as a legitimate and coequal member of the global community. If one lacks a seat at the table, then one is probably on the menu.
As matters stand, most of the G20’s engagement with Africa happens through its Development Working Group, which focuses on the basic building blocks of development, like poverty eradication. This means that Africa has no say in a host of other issues relating to development, including infrastructure, the shape of the digital economy, and the global banking system. As a result, key problems such as Africa’s structural exclusion from global markets – which is due in large part to G20 member states’ own domestic agricultural subsidies – go unexamined.
This isn’t just unfair to Africa; it also poses risks for the G20. Africa represents the world’s demographic future, and its development trajectory will increasingly affect the global economy. By 2050, Nigeria will have the world’s third-largest population, and by 2100, one-third of all people will be African. Clearly, any plan that the G20 makes for the future will have to put Africa at the forefront. Diminishing the region to a set of development challenges will no longer do.
To its credit, the G20 has started paying more attention to Africa in recent years. Under the Chinese presidency in 2016, the body made industrialization in Africa a high priority. And this was followed by the Compact with Africa under the German presidency in 2017. For its part, Argentina has not launched an Africa initiative of its own; but it has devoted attention to improving cooperation with the continent via people-to-people diplomacy.
The Compact with Africa is designed to facilitate economic reforms across the continent, and to attract investment from pools of private-sector funds in the global North. But though it has been well received among African leaders, the compact nonetheless perpetuates the trend of restricting African engagement to development issues.
Looking ahead, Africa must be afforded a greater role in setting the G20’s agenda. The continent will be disproportionally affected by climate change and transnational migration. Yet it will not be able to meet those challenges if its development is being hindered by an unequal global trade system.
These issues were on the agenda in Buenos Aires last week, but discussion of them was largely deprived of an African perspective. This must change. It is time for creative solutions to make the G20 more representative and more effective in its engagement with the world. Our collective future depends on it.


Cobus van Staden is a senior foreign policy researcher at the South African Institute of International Affairs.

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Africa Economic Conference 2018 focusses on Africa Visa Openness and integration

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For millions of ordinary travellers, inter-African travel is still too often a nightmare. Be it border hassles, lack of road or air routes linking key cities, or the frustrations of being refused entry to a country because of visas, the end result is to curtail the free movement of people, viewed by the African Development Bank (AfDB.org) as one of the pillars of regional integration.

Ahunna Eziakonwa, UN Development, African Development Bank Group and ONU Développement

That freedom of movement is inextricably tied to the Bank’s vision to create the next global market in Africa. As the Africa Economic Conference opens in the Rwandan capital Kigali, the theme this year: Regional and Continental Integration for Africa’s development,” also aligns with another major Bank priority – placing infrastructure development at the centre of Africa’s regional integration efforts.
Host nation Rwanda has taken bold leadership steps to champion regional integration, announcing at the beginning of this year an entry visa on arrival for travelers from all African countries.
The third edition of the Bank’s Visa Openess Index, to be launched on day two of the meeting, will be an important opportunity to measure which countries are making improvements that support free movement of people across Africa.
“The Index has helped raise awareness and drive visa policy reforms across the continent to ease movement of people, unlocking opportunities for intra-African tourism, trade and investment. In so doing, the Bank is directly contributing to the objectives of the AU initiative for a Single African passport,” Gabriel Negatu, Bank Director General, East Africa Regional Development and Business Delivery Office said in his remarks during the opening plenary.
Speaking on behalf of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Hon. Claudine Uwera, Minister of State in charge of Economic Planning said the conference addressed a theme “close to our hearts.” “This conference is important to charting the way for inclusive integration…that would benefit all,” Uwera said.
“Governance will determine the development path for our countries,” Uwera added, noting the equally important role of political will and commitment from African leaders.
The annual Africa Economic Conference is the continent’s leading forum fostering dialogue and knowledge exchange in the search for solutions to the development challenges of Africa. It brings together leading academics, high ranking government representatives and development practitioners from across the globe.

AEC 2018 will highlight “transformative initiatives for accelerating progress in infrastructure integration that are inclusive and promote equity, including the removal of barriers for movement of people, goods, and services across borders.”
Other convening partners to the Conference, the United Nations Development Programme UNDP) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), commended Rwanda’s role as a front-runner for integration efforts in Africa and spoke on the urgent need to build on the momentum for an inclusive and equitable integration.
“The government of Rwanda is walking the talk and continues to set the pace,” Ahunna Eziakonwa, Assistant Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Bureau for Africa, said.
Also speaking at the plenary, Giovanie Biha, Deputy Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), said while there were still major steps ahead, “we are moving in the right direction.”
Highlighting the Bank’s emphasis on research and knowledge management as important drivers of policy dialogue, good policy planning and implementation, participation this year’s AEC is being organized under the leadership of the Bank’s Research Department and Regional Integration Complex.
Sessions over the three-day meeting will examine the social, cultural and political frameworks for successful integration, building on the landmark signing this year of the Africa Free Trade Agreement the world’s potentially biggest free trade agreement, which aims to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments across Africa.
Participants will also look at the role of the private sector and civil society institutions.
Given the urgency of regional integration – “no longer a choice,” according to its organizers, this year’s meeting is a must attend for those interested in Africa’s Development agenda.
“Important pages of our continent’s development history are being written,” Uwera said. “Let’s take this opportunity to move the continent ahead.”
The 2018 Africa Economic Conference is taking place at the Marriot Hotel in Kigali, from 3-5 December.

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British citizenship registration :Campaigners challenge children’s citizenship fee

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The High Court has granted permission for a judicial review into the £1,012 cost to register a child as a British citizen

THE HIGH Court has agreed to hear a challenge brought by the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens (PRCBC) in relation to the fee the Home Office charges for children’s British citizenship registration.
PRCBC has asked the High Court to review whether the £1,012 fee required for children to register as British citizens is lawful.
The substantial fee has prevented many children born in the UK and those with settled status from obtaining citizenship. According to PRCBC, there are around 120,000 children in the UK who have been raised in Britain who are subject to the fee.
In a statement PRCBC said: “The consequences for a child of being unable to register as British are many and potentially severe; and mirror what has so recently been exposed as appalling treatment of so many people of the Windrush generation.
“Without citizenship, a child may be subject to immigration powers, including powers to remove them from the country, or blocked from work, education, health and other services and opportunities available to their British peers. They may also be unable to pass on citizenship to their children meaning the exclusionary impact of the fee extends across generations.”
In August, more than 100 education leaders called on Javid to reduce the fees, which are almost 10 times the cost of those in France and a number of other European countries.
Earlier this year, The Independent reported that the Home Office makes almost £100 million in profit from the fees of children’s British citizenship registration.
“These fees have a hugely negative impact – we know that. Thousands of children who can’t afford to pay for their entitlement to British citizenship are left in severe limbo, with some being removed from the UK,” The Independent reported Solange Valdez-Symonds, the project’s director, said.
Amnesty International UK’s children’s human rights network are also supporting the campaign.

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Russian bank ‘mistakenly’ loans $12bn to Central African Republic

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The impoverished state of Central African Republic landed a windfall on Tuesday, at least on paper, when Russian state bank VTB reported it had lent the country $12 billion — but the bank then said it was a clerical error and there was no such loan.
The loan was mentioned in a quarterly VTB financial report published by the Russian central bank. The report included a table listing the outstanding financial claims that VTB group had on dozens of countries as of Oct. 1 this year.
In the table next to Central African Republic was the sum of 801,933,814,000 roubles ($12 billion) — more than six times the country’s annual economic output.

When asked about the data by Reuters, the bank said the loan to the former French colony did not, in reality, exist.
“VTB bank has no exposure of this size to any foreign country. Most likely, this is a case of an operational mistake in the system when the countries were being coded,” the lender said in a statement sent to Reuters.
VTB did not say who was responsible for the mistake or how such a large figure could have been published without being spotted.
CAR government spokesman Ange Maxime Kazagui, when asked about the Russian data, said: “I don’t have that information. But it doesn’t sound credible because $11 billion is beyond the debt capacity of CAR.”
“We are members of the IMF (International Monetary Fund). When a member of the IMF wants to take on debt … it has to discuss that with the IMF.”
There was no indication in the data published by the Russian central bank of who was the recipient of the loan, the purpose of the loan, or when it was issued and on what terms.
CAR is a nation of 5 million people emerging from sectarian conflict, with a gross domestic product of $1.95 billion, according to the World Bank.
Russia has built up security and business ties with CAR in the past few years.
Muscling aside former colonial power France, Moscow has provided arms and contractors to the Central African Republic military, and a Russian national is security advisor to President Faustin-Archange Touadera.


Reuters

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Citizenship : Australia plans to relax rules

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Australia has revealed plans to increase government powers to strip citizenship from extremists and to control the movements of Australian fighters who return home from the battlefields of Syria and Iraq.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday outlined the contentious bills, some of which he wants passed by parliament this year.
He also wants passed this year cybersecurity laws that would force global technology companies to help police unscramble encrypted messages sent by criminals.
The extremist threat to Australia was highlighted two weeks ago when a Somali-born Australian fatally stabbed one man and injured two others before police shot the assailant dead in a downtown Melbourne street.
This week, three Australian men of Turkish descent were charged with planning an Islamic State group-inspired mass-casualty attack in Melbourne.

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Man to spend life in jail for killing pregnant wife, 2 daughters

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A man who strangled his pregnant wife and suffocated their two young daughters wanted to escape his marriage and growing family, prosecutors said Monday as a judge imposed a sentence of life without parole after a plea deal kept the killer from facing the death penalty.
Christopher Watts, who pleaded guilty two weeks ago, did not speak during the hearing. One of his attorneys said Watts was “sincerely sorry.”
As Watts listened with his head down, Shanann Watts’ parents detailed their ongoing struggle to understand how he could murder the three people who considered him a hero — Shanann, 34, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3.

Frank Rzucek said he was disgusted by the way his son-in-law took his wife and two daughters “out like the trash” and dubbed him an “evil monster.”

“Prison is too good for you.
“This is hard to say, but may God have mercy on your soul,” Rzucek said.
Prosecutors have said Shanann Watts’ relatives, who live in North Carolina, asked them not to seek the death penalty when defense attorneys made the proposal.
Watts, 33, was formally sentenced to consecutive life sentences for the murders.
He also received a 48-year sentence for unlawful termination of a pregnancy and 12 years each for tampering with a corpse, totaling 84 years.
The girls’ bodies were found submerged in separate oil tank on property owned by the company Watts worked for.
His wife’s body was found in a shallow grave nearby.
As a prosecutor detailed the injuries found on the bodies, Rzucek leaned forward, gasping.
Michael Rourke said Shanann Watts was strangled, but her lack of significant injuries suggested that her death came slowly.
The girls were smothered, and Rourke said there were signs Bella “fought for her life.” Celeste had no visible injuries, he said.
Christopher Watts’ parents, Cindy and Ronnie Watts, were permitted to speak as the girls’ grandparents.
“We love you,” Cindy Watts said into a microphone before turning to look directly at her son. “And we forgive you, son.”
Watts wiped away a tear with his shirt after his parents left the podium. He kept his head down for much of the hearing, speaking only once to confirm that he did not want to make a statement before Judge Marcelo Kopcow imposed his sentence.
Friends of Shanann Watts lined up inside the courthouse Monday morning. More people filed into an overflow room to watch a video stream.
The killings captured national media attention and became the focus of true crime blogs and online video channels, which showed dozens of family photos and videos that Shanann Watts shared on social media showing the smiling family.
Prosecutors said the images belied a hidden truth, that Christopher Watts was having an affair.
A friend asked police to check on Shanann Watts on Aug. 13 after not being able to reach her and growing concerned that the expectant mother had missed a doctor’s appointment.
Rourke said police later found that Watts spoke to a real estate agent about selling the family’s home and called the girls’ school to report that they could not be present when fall classes began.
Investigators quickly became suspicious of him after he was unable to square his claims that his family had disappeared from a tightly secured home in a busy subdivision.
Meanwhile, Watts spoke to local television reporters from the front porch of the family’s home in Frederick, a small town on the plains north of Denver where drilling rigs and oil wells surround booming subdivisions.
He pleaded for his family’s safe return, telling reporters their house felt empty without Bella and Celeste watching cartoons or running to greet him at the door.
Within days he was in custody, charged with killing his family.
Rourke said Watts has never discussed a motive for the killings with police, but investigators could find no explanation other than his ongoing affair with a co-worker.
“I can’t speak as to why anyone would take the steps that he did … we couldn’t find anything else that was a significant enough motive to annihilate your family,” he said.

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African leaders approve sanctions for non-paying AU members

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Several African leaders on Sunday approved proposals to make the African Union more efficient and financially independent, including through the implementation of an import levy by member states.
Heads of state and ministers had gathered at the body’s headquarters in Addis Ababa for what was seen as a last-ditch attempt to push through reforms that have been mulled for nearly two years.
The AU in 2016 charged its chairman and Rwandan President Paul Kagame with getting reforms passed, but observers have said time is running out because Egypt, which is set to assume the chairmanship, is thought to oppose aspects of the agenda.

Kagame’s vision
In proposals unveiled last year, Kagame envisioned a more narrowly focused AU headed by a powerful commission whose bills were covered by its 55 member states rather than foreign donors.
Although not all his reforms were passed, Kagame welcomed the progress made at the two-day summit.
Their effect would be “felt for decades” to come, he said.
“We have done our part to continue the journey, and I expect the coming… chairperson of the African Union to continue with the same momentum and the same progress,” he added.

A powerful commission?
The majority of the bloc’s 55 member states rejected Kagame’s plan to give the head of the AU commission, the body’s executive branch, the power to appoint their own deputy and commissioners.
This was seen as a move to make the administration more accountable to their leader.

Financing the AU
However members backed moves to streamline the body while bringing in revenue from member states and sanctioning those who don’t pay their dues.
The AU currently depends on foreign donors, who in 2019 will pay for 54 percent of a total budget of $681.5 million (596 million euros).
But the US has opposed the duty, arguing it violates World Trade Organisation rules.
The AU also agreed to reduce the number of commissions to six from eight, with peace and security merged with political affairs and trade and industry merged with economic affairs, AU commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat told journalists.

AU’s peace fund
On Saturday the AU launched a fund dedicated to paying for responses to crises on the continent before they evolve into full-blown conflicts.
The Peace Fund is part of the AU’s proposals to wean itself off donor money, the centrepiece of which is a 0.2 percent import levy meant to finance the body which 24 countries are in the process of implementing.
The US mission to the AU issued a statement saying it supports the AU’s self-funding goals but opposed “trade measures” to achieve them.
“We are proud of our partnership with the AU and will continue to work with the AU… to find impactful ways to bring peace and security to the continent,” the statement sent to AFP said.

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