MCC Drops the Hammer

The US government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation just booted Tanzania. The agency’s board said Tanzania has ‘engaged in a pattern of actions inconsistent with MCC’s eligibility criteria’, and it had voted to suspend its partnership with the government. A Tanzanian government official said the cancelled U.S. funding was marginal and would not have a direct impact on the government’s upcoming 2016/17 budget. Tanzania won a five-year package of grants in 2008 worth $698 million from MCC, an independent U.S. government foreign aid agency, but the award of a second round of grants has now been shelved. The first round funded water, roads and power projects. The cancelled aid, worth $472.8 million, was largely intended for the energy sector.” (Reuters

Libya’s UN-Backed Government Moves To…Libya…”The Libyans who lead a United Nations-backed unity government traveled by sea early Wednesday to Libya’s capital, Tripoli, as part of a bold if risky effort to break the country’s two-year political stalemate. Prime Minister Fayez Serraj and six other members of the presidency council, which is supposed to pave the way for a new government, arrived from Tunisia by boat at a naval base in central Tripoli. The landing defied an air blockade led by rival groups that had restricted the city’s airspace over the weekend. The blockade also drew strong criticism from the United States.” (NYT

Jailed for Reading a Book About Non-Violence...“A court in Angola has jailed 17 young activists, some for more than eight years, for rebelling against the government of José Eduardo dos Santos, after they organised a reading of a US academic’s book. The activists were arrested in the capital, Luanda, last June after organising the reading of From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation, by Gene Sharp. The book’s blurb describes it as “a blueprint for non-violent resistance to repressive regimes”.(Guardian


France will end its military intervention in the Central African Republic this year as it has achieved its objectives of restoring security to the country after three years of communal violence, the French defence minister said Wednesday. (AFP

Burundi’s Attorney General has called on families of victims of alleged extrajudicial executions to provide evidence for investigations, warning them not to submit it to the International Criminal Court. (AFP

South Africa’s Constitutional Court will rule on Thursday on whether President Jacob Zuma should pay back some of the $15.6 million spent by the state on renovating his private home, domestic media reported. (Reuters

Production of tobacco, Zimbabwe’s biggest export earner, is expected to fall 15 percent to 160 million kilograms this season following a drought that has left millions facing hunger, an industry survey showed on Wednesday. (Reuters

South Africa’s justice minister Michael Masutha will appeal a court decision to free the killer of anti-apartheid leader Chris Hani, his department said on Wednesday. (Reuters



U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on countries on Wednesday to re-settle nearly half a million Syrian refugees in the next three years, though only Italy, Sweden and the United States immediately announced concrete plans to play a part. (Reuters

President Bashar al-Assad said it would not be difficult to agree on a new Syrian government including opposition figures, but his opponents responded on Wednesday that no administration would be legitimate while he remained in office. (Reuters

The head of a U.N.-brokered Libyan unity government arrived in the capital by sea Wednesday with six deputies and set up a temporary seat of power in a naval base despite threats from rival factions. (AP

The conflict in Syria has cost the country more than $200 billion, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview with Russia’s RIA news agency published on Wednesday. (Reuters

Child labor has risen sharply in Gaza, where youngsters toiling in garages and on construction sites have become breadwinners for families feeling the brunt of the Palestinian enclave’s 43 percent unemployment rate. (VOA


Myanmar’s slow transition to democracy took a momentous step Wednesday as a trusted aide to ruling-party leader Aung Suu Kyi took over as the country’s president, officially ending more than 50 years of the military’s control over government. (AP

A Washington DC judge has ruled that the World Bank cannot be sued in a case brought by Indian fishermen and farmers who said that an investment by the Bank’s private sector arm in a giant coal-fired power plant had “destroyed their livelihoods”. (Guardian

Human rights and refugee civil society organizations say Thailand’s policies towards asylum seekers and refugees has hardened in recent years amid increasing arrests and deportations, even prior to the military taking power in 2014. (VOA

A rare public protest in Mongolia’s capital on Wednesday drew thousands of demonstrators who criticized foreign mining concessions and demanded action to prop up the tottering economy. (AP

The Americas

An international panel of experts that picked apart the Mexican government’s account of what happened to 43 students who disappeared in 2014 will cease work in the country by late April, a senior government official said on Tuesday. (Reuters

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff’s popularity remains close to historic lows, according to a poll on Wednesday, amid a mounting political crisis following the loss of her main coalition partner this week that increased the risk of her impeachment. (Reuters

Venezuela’s opposition-controlled congress has passed legislation aimed at freeing dozens of imprisoned activists, setting up a fight with the socialist administration. (AP

Days after President Barack Obama’s historic visit, the leaders of Cuba’s Communist Party are under highly unusual public criticism from their own ranks for imposing new levels of secrecy on the future of social and economic reforms. (AP

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump refused to back any nominee but himself, another flip-flop in his position since the start of the race. (AFP

This Guatemalan rapper thinks hip-hop can unite all women (GlobalPost

…and the rest

Paris authorities on Wednesday evacuated 985 migrants from a large camp that mushroomed this month in the east of the French capital. (AFP

Poland’s foreign minister says the government stands by its commitment to take in 7,000 refugees, on condition they are checked for security and are willing to settle in Poland. (AP

Germany and the European Union rejected protests by Turkey over a satirical German television show that mocked President Tayyip Erdogan, saying press freedom was sacrosanct, just as the EU is banking on Ankara’s help in solving its migrant crisis. (Reuters

In Kosovo, Serbia and Bosnia, NGOs are collecting hate crime data and leveraging the countries’ EU ambitions to push for rights. (Guardian

A Romanian court has sentenced a former prison commander to 20 years in prison for the deaths of 103 political prisoners while he was commander of a communist-era labor camp. (AP

Edinburgh university is to cut the use of so-called conflict minerals in goods it buys, with a promise to search out alternatives if a product has raw materials directly linked to wars in the developing world. (Guardian


Now that Palmyra Has Been Liberated, A Pathway to Stop ISIS? (UN Dispatch

Six reasons taxpayers can be proud of UK aid (Guardian

Why Turkey is still refugees unwelcome (IRIN

When Should Governments Keep Stolen Assets? (Global Anticorruption Blog

UK aid – in the national interest? (WhyDev

Podcast – Where drought is the new normal: El Niño worsens food shortages in Malawi and Zimbabwe (Guardian

Recasting Myanmar’s foreign policy (The Interpreter

The right to education is a right to learning (Roving Bandit

Israel ramps up home demolitions (IRIN

Can Tanzania get its MCC suspension lifted? (Devex

Rio Olympics: view from the favelas – ‘I’ve seen six people infected with Zika. I am one of them’ (Guardian

Is Decentralization Good for Development? (From Poverty Power