A political milestone has just been marked in Guinea: the campaign for the first round of the presidential election was launched yesterday, the first free and open competition for the country’s top leadership post since independence in 1958. The first round of the election is scheduled for June 27, with a potential second round slated to occur 2 weeks later, should no absolute majority emerge from the first round of voting.
The elected president of Nigeria, Umaru Yar’Adua, passed away last night. Yar’Adua had not been seen in public since he fell ill last November and was subsequently transfered to Saudia Arabia for medical treatment.
Last week, the board of the Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) decided to remove Equatorial Guinea – still merely a candidate for full membership – from the group for failing to meet the deadline to have audits of their industries independently verified. The EITI, launched in 2003, is a joint effort by companies, governments and civil society to instill transparency and promote good governance in the extractive industries sector.
Middle East: During the last 48 hours of the continued ceasefire, humanitarian workers have delivered food to hundreds of thousands of people, repaired water and sanitation infrastructure, re-stocked medical supplies, and some of the 520,000 displaced Palestinians have returned to their homes. However, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator remarked the scale of needs remains “unprecedented in the Gaza Strip.”
Middle East: At today’s informal session of the General Assembly on Gaza the SG remarked that the most recent ceasefire has held since yesterday at 8 a.m. local time. He noted that a durable ceasefire is necessary and UN shelters must continue to remain safe zones. The SG thanked UN staff in Gaza and will fly the UN flag at half-mast tomorrow in memory of those who died in the conflict.
Middle East: The SG commended Israeli and Palestinian parties for committing to a 72-hour ceasefire that took place at 8 a.m. local time today. He urges all parties to abide by the ceasefire and commence peace talks in Cairo to address underlying issues and agree on a durable ceasefire to sustainably stop the violence. The UN lends its full support toward these efforts.
Middle East: The SG condemned yesterday’s shelling outside of an UNRWA school in Rafah that killed at least 10 Palestinian civilians. The SG stated that the attack violated international humanitarian law and UN shelters must continue to be safe zones and not combat zones.
SG: Last night the SG spoke at a joint press conference with the Foreign Minister of Costa Rica where he repeated his call for an unconditional and extendable humanitarian ceasefire. Speaking about yesterday’s shelling of a UN shelter he said: “Nothing – nothing – justifies such horror” and demanded “that all parties immediately respect UN premises”.
SG: The SG met with President Ortega yesterday in Nicaragua where he visited a wind farm and praised the country’s commitment to renewable energy. The SG arrived in Costa Rica today where he is expected to lecture about “Costa Rica and the United Nations: Challenges and Opportunities in the 21st Century”.