Aug 20, 2017 Last Updated 2:22 PM, Aug 18, 2017
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A representative of the United Nations in Malawi Mia Seppo is expressing shock over continued reports of racial abuse and discrimination against minorities in the ongoing National Identity Registration Exercise.

According to Seppo the country’s constitution is very strong on prohibiting discrimination of any form, it does not matter whether they are citizens through birth or marriage or even registration.

Asian, Caucasian and mixed race Malawians and other minority groups are still having their nationality questioned when registering for IDs, despite having the required supporting documents.

One of the most notable incidences is on local artist Theo Thomson who recorded a video of what he encountered at one centre in the commercial capital Blantyre.

In the video the artist is questioned on his nationality and threatened of what may come if he does not stop recording the video.

Uploaded on his facebook page, the video has hundreds of comments many of which are against what Thomson was subjected to with others narrating the hurdles they had to endure during the process of getting registered.

Some of the comments state that the people responsible should be ‘held accountable’ and that facing discrimination because of skin colour is ‘disgusting’ and ‘appalling’.

There has been an outrage on Social Media over the matter, as victims of discrimination have been naming and shaming centres where they faced abuse from Registration officials.

Fears are also being raised that minority groups will not be represented in the 2019 Election, as they are currently being frustrated by some Registration officials.

According to Media sources, the ID will be a crucial document in the identification of eligible voter registrants.

The National ID cards are being issued to all Malawian citizens aged 16 and above, while children under the age of 16 can be registered by their parents or legal guardians.

The Government of Malawi through the National Registration Bureau-NRB is conducting the exercise with funding and technical expertise from the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP).

Ethiopians were still unable to surf the web via mobile networks on Tuesday, despite government claims the nationwide internet shutdown, which began a week ago, had been lifted.

Africa's second-most-populous country turned off its internet access without warning or explanation last week, briefly depriving even diplomatic buildings, like the UN's Economic Commission for Africa and the headquarters of the African Union, of internet access.

While service to those two institutions was restored and subscribers to broadband internet say they are now able to get online, access via mobile data -- which is most used by businesses and individuals -- was still unavailable.

This is despite government assurances that the blockage had been lifted.

In a press conference on Monday, Communications Minister Negeri Lencho said the internet had been "partly" shut down for three days last week and that social media sites were the only services that remained blocked.

Negeri said the shutdown was a measure necessary to keep students taking annual exams away from distractions on social media.

"The only reason is to help our students to concentrate on the exams because we know we are fighting poverty," Negeri said.

Ethiopia's sole telecommunications provider has blocked social media websites like Facebook and Twitter since anti-government protests broke out last year.

The country is among the least-connected in Africa, with only about 12 percent of people online, the International Telecommunications Union reported in 2015.

The Brookings Institution think tank released a report last October saying the country only lost around $8.5 million (7.5 million euros) when internet access was cut off for weeks during last year's unrest.

"People invest a lot of money in China, where the internet is already very difficult," John Ashbourne, Africa economist a London-based Capital Economics told AFP. "These are not insurmountable problems, but they're frustrations."

The internet cafe where Abiy Tesfaye works in Addis Ababa's busy Piazza neighbourhood runs off mobile data  and only one customer was using one of his 14 computers.

The business has been suffering for years as more and more people browse the internet with smartphones, Abiy said, and the internet shutdown was the latest blow.

"We lose money, we don't have the customers. It's a shame," he said.

Around the corner, Dereje Alemayehu Nida's cafe was doing a brisk business in people filling out visa applications and surfing Facebook, but that's only because his broadband internet access came back online over the weekend after days without connectivity.

"It would have been better if they used another means to control the exams rather than shut down the internet," Dereje said. 

There has been widespread international condemnation of President Trump's announcement that the US is withdrawing from the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

UN chief Antonio Guterres's spokesman called it "a major disappointment" while the European Union said it was "a sad day for the world".

However, senior Republicans and the US coal industry backed the move.

Mr Trump said the accord "punished" the US and would cost millions of American jobs.

In an address at the White House, he said he was prepared to negotiate a new agreement or re-enter the accord on improved terms.

"I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris," he said.

The Paris agreement commits the US and 187 other countries to keeping rising global temperatures "well below" 2C above pre-industrial levels and "endeavour to limit" them even more, to 1.5C.

Only Syria and Nicaragua did not sign up to the deal.

Mr Trump characterised the Paris agreement as a deal that aimed to hobble, disadvantage and impoverish the US.

He claimed the agreement would cost the US $3tn (£2.3tn) in lost GDP and 6.5 million jobs - while rival economies like China and India were treated more favourably.

Mr Trump said he was fulfilling his "solemn duty to protect America and its citizens".

He added: "We don't want other leaders and other countries laughing at us anymore - and they won't be."

Mr Trump did not give a timescale for US withdrawal, but White House sources had earlier suggested it could take up to four years.

US payments to the UN Green Climate Fund, which helps developing countries cope with the effects of climate change, will stop.

Former US President Barack Obama, who agreed to the Paris deal, immediately criticised the move, accusing the Trump administration of "rejecting the future".

Disney's chief executive Robert Igerand the entrepreneur Elon Musk both resigned from White House advisory councils.

"Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world," said Mr Musk, the head of tech giant Tesla.

However, Republican congressional leaders and the US coal industry backed the move, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell supporting Mr Trump "for dealing yet another significant blow to the Obama administration's assault on domestic energy production and jobs".

Peabody Energy America's biggest coal mining firm said the agreement would have badly affected the US economy.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumercalled the decision "one of the worst policy moves made in the 21st Century because of the huge damage to our economy, our environment and our geopolitical standing".

The United Nations has declared a famine in parts of South Sudan, the first to be announced anywhere in the world in six years. There have also been warnings of famine in north-east Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen. Why are there still famines and what can be done about it?

Taxpayers continue to exert pressure on the government of Malawi to reveal the delegation and amount that was spent on President Mutharika’s trip to the US.

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