Zimbabwe Government Calls on Opposition to Stop Protests

Opposition supporters marched in Zimbabwe’s capital on Thursday, demanding that the government do more to fix the sinking economy. The marchers, among other things, want employers to pay them in the same U.S. dollars that government institutions demand for payment. The government said marches would only derail progress. Columbus Mavhunga reports from Harare.

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Zimbabwe Government Calls on Opposition to Stop Protests

Opposition supporters marched in Zimbabwe’s capital on Thursday, demanding that the government do more to fix the sinking economy. The marchers, among other things, want employers to pay them in the same U.S. dollars that government institutions demand for payment. The government said marches would only derail progress. Columbus Mavhunga reports from Harare.

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Uganda Testing Injectable HIV Prevention Drug

Ahead of World AIDS Day, Uganda is recruiting women to participate in a trial of an injectable antiretroviral drug to replace Truvada, a daily pill that has low adherence by users. The trial will assess if the new drug – Cabotegravir – can further reduce the risk of acquiring HIV. Halima Athumani has more from Kampala.

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Uganda Testing Injectable HIV Prevention Drug

Ahead of World AIDS Day, Uganda is recruiting women to participate in a trial of an injectable antiretroviral drug to replace Truvada, a daily pill that has low adherence by users. The trial will assess if the new drug – Cabotegravir – can further reduce the risk of acquiring HIV. Halima Athumani has more from Kampala.

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UN experts: South Sudan Beset by `Alarming’ Sexual Violence

South Sudan is beset by “alarming levels” of sexual and gender-based violence and a desperate humanitarian situation, including severe food shortages, as it attempts to implement the latest peace agreement in a climate of “deep distrust,” U.N. experts said.

The panel of experts said in a report to the Security Council that the world’s newest nation must deal with the fragmentation of armed groups “and grave human rights abuses, including against children,” in addition to the “profound deficit of trust” among almost all signatories to the September peace deal.

But most important, they said, is whether implementing the peace agreement improves the lives of the civilians, many of whom expressed to the experts “profound cynicism and distrust of a high-level political process that appears increasingly removed from their suffering.”

The report, which was circulated Thursday and covers a 45-day period in September and October, stressed that competition for South Sudan’s natural resources including oil, gold, teak wood and charcoal remains “central to the conflict” both locally and nationally.

There were high hopes that South Sudan would have peace and stability after its independence from neighboring Sudan in 2011. But it plunged into ethnic violence in December 2013 when forces loyal to President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, started battling those loyal to Riek Machar, his former vice president who is a Nuer.

A peace deal signed in August 2015 didn’t stop the fighting, and neither did cessation of hostilities agreement in December 2017 and a declaration on June 27.

The Sept. 12 power-sharing agreement signed in neighboring Sudan has so far been fraught with delays, missed deadlines and continued fighting in parts of the country. The government and opposition have said they are committed to implementing it but both sides blame each other for abuses and for violating the deal.

The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and forced over 4 million to flee their homes — more than 1.8 million of them leaving the country in what has become one of the world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis.

In July, the Security Council narrowly approved a U.S.-sponsored resolution imposing an arms embargo on the entire territory of South Sudan. It has also imposed sanctions on key figures in the conflict.

The experts said that while it’s too early to adequately assess the impact and enforcement of the arms embargo, “a number of violations have been noted by the panel.”

The panel said it also noted “repeated violations of the travel ban” against some South Sudanese on the sanctions blacklist.

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Canada, Mexico, US Sign Trade Deal

The leaders of Canada, Mexico and the United States signed a new North American trade deal Friday. Justin Trudeau, Enrique Pena Nieto and Donald Trump inked the deal in Argentina, ahead of the opening of the G-20 summit.

It will, however, take a while for the agreement to take effect as lawmakers from all three countries have to approve the scheme, officially known as the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA.

The pact underpins $1.2 billion in annual trade among the three countries.

It replaces NAFTA, a pact that Trump had roundly criticized in his 2016 presidential campaign, terming it the worst trade deal in history and blaming NAFTA for the loss of American manufacturing jobs since it went into effect in 1994. 

Trump called the deal a “model agreement that changes the trade landscape forever” at a news conference with his North American counterparts in Buenos Aires, Argentina, ahead of the G-20 conference.

When the three countries agreed on the USMCA deal earlier this year, the U.S. leader said, “This landmark agreement will send cash and jobs pouring into the United States and into North America.” 

Joshua Meltzer, a senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, told VOA at that time that the deal was not that much different from NAFTA.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a vastly different deal at all.” Meltzer said. “It’s an agreement that’s over 20 years old and so it clearly needed to be updated.I think certainly it reduces a level of anxiety about how the administration was going to square its rhetoric on trade with an actual trade deal. We certainly see some increased protectionism in some areas, particularly in the auto sector.But overall it’s an update of a trade agreement, it’s comprehensive, and it’s largely good for improving integration between the three economies.” 

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