ROSEN, A LEADING LAW FIRM, Encourages Lucid Group, Inc. Investors with Losses to Secure Counsel Before Important Deadline in Securities Class Action – LCID

NEW YORK, May 04, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — WHY: Rosen Law Firm, a global investor rights law firm, reminds purchasers of the securities of Lucid Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: LCID) between November 15, 2021 and February 28, 2022, inclusive (the "Class Period"), of the important May 31, 2022 lead plaintiff deadline.

SO WHAT: If you purchased Lucid securities during the Class Period you may be entitled to compensation without payment of any out of pocket fees or costs through a contingency fee arrangement.

WHAT TO DO NEXT: To join the Lucid class action, go to https://rosenlegal.com/submit–form/?case_id=4992 or call Phillip Kim, Esq. toll–free at 866–767–3653 or email pkim@rosenlegal.com or cases@rosenlegal.com for information on the class action. A class action lawsuit has already been filed. If you wish to serve as lead plaintiff, you must move the Court no later than May 31, 2022. A lead plaintiff is a representative party acting on behalf of other class members in directing the litigation.

WHY ROSEN LAW: We encourage investors to select qualified counsel with a track record of success in leadership roles. Often, firms issuing notices do not have comparable experience, resources or any meaningful peer recognition. Many of these firms do not actually handle securities class actions, but are merely middlemen that refer clients or partner with law firms that actually litigate the cases. Be wise in selecting counsel. The Rosen Law Firm represents investors throughout the globe, concentrating its practice in securities class actions and shareholder derivative litigation. Rosen Law Firm has achieved the largest ever securities class action settlement against a Chinese Company. Rosen Law Firm was Ranked No. 1 by ISS Securities Class Action Services for number of securities class action settlements in 2017. The firm has been ranked in the top 4 each year since 2013 and has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for investors. In 2019 alone the firm secured over $438 million for investors. In 2020, founding partner Laurence Rosen was named by law360 as a Titan of Plaintiffs' Bar. Many of the firm's attorneys have been recognized by Lawdragon and Super Lawyers.

DETAILS OF THE CASE: According to the lawsuit, defendants throughout the Class Period made false and/or misleading statements and/or failed to disclose material adverse facts about the Company's business and operations. Specifically, Defendants overstated Lucid's production capabilities while concealing that "extraordinary supply chain and logistics challenges" were already significantly hampering the Company's operations. When the true details entered the market, the lawsuit claims that investors suffered damages.

To join the Lucid class action, go to https://rosenlegal.com/submit–form/?case_id=4992 or call Phillip Kim, Esq. toll–free at 866–767–3653 or email pkim@rosenlegal.com or cases@rosenlegal.com for information on the class action.

No Class Has Been Certified. Until a class is certified, you are not represented by counsel unless you retain one. You may select counsel of your choice. You may also remain an absent class member and do nothing at this point. An investor's ability to share in any potential future recovery is not dependent upon serving as lead plaintiff.

Follow us for updates on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/the–rosen–law–firm, on Twitter: https://twitter.com/rosen_firm or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rosenlawfirm/.

Attorney Advertising. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

———————————————–

Contact Information:

Laurence Rosen, Esq.
Phillip Kim, Esq.
The Rosen Law Firm, P.A.
275 Madison Avenue, 40th Floor
New York, NY 10016
Tel: (212) 686–1060
Toll Free: (866) 767–3653
Fax: (212) 202–3827
lrosen@rosenlegal.com
pkim@rosenlegal.com
cases@rosenlegal.com
www.rosenlegal.com


ROSEN, A LEADING LAW FIRM, Encourages Everbridge, Inc. Investors with Losses to Secure Counsel Before Important Deadline in Securities Class Action – EVBG

NEW YORK, May 04, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — WHY: Rosen Law Firm, a global investor rights law firm, reminds purchasers of the securities of Everbridge, Inc. (NASDAQ: EVBG) between November 4, 2019 and February 24, 2022, inclusive (the "Class Period") of the important June 3, 2022 lead plaintiff deadline.

SO WHAT: If you purchased Everbridge securities during the Class Period you may be entitled to compensation without payment of any out of pocket fees or costs through a contingency fee arrangement.

WHAT TO DO NEXT: To join the Everbridge class action, go to https://rosenlegal.com/submit–form/?case_id=3095 or call Phillip Kim, Esq. toll–free at 866–767–3653 or email pkim@rosenlegal.com or cases@rosenlegal.com for information on the class action. A class action lawsuit has already been filed. If you wish to serve as lead plaintiff, you must move the Court no later than June 3, 2022. A lead plaintiff is a representative party acting on behalf of other class members in directing the litigation.

WHY ROSEN LAW: We encourage investors to select qualified counsel with a track record of success in leadership roles. Often, firms issuing notices do not have comparable experience, resources or any meaningful peer recognition. Many of these firms do not actually handle securities class actions, but are merely middlemen that refer clients or partner with law firms that actually litigate the cases. Be wise in selecting counsel. The Rosen Law Firm represents investors throughout the globe, concentrating its practice in securities class actions and shareholder derivative litigation. Rosen Law Firm has achieved the largest ever securities class action settlement against a Chinese Company. Rosen Law Firm was Ranked No. 1 by ISS Securities Class Action Services for number of securities class action settlements in 2017. The firm has been ranked in the top 4 each year since 2013 and has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for investors. In 2019 alone the firm secured over $438 million for investors. In 2020, founding partner Laurence Rosen was named by law360 as a Titan of Plaintiffs' Bar. Many of the firm's attorneys have been recognized by Lawdragon and Super Lawyers.

DETAILS OF THE CASE: According to the lawsuit, defendants throughout the Class Period made false and/or misleading statements and/or failed to disclose that: (1) Everbridge was experiencing integration problems with respect to its acquiring nine separate companies; (2) Everbridge was using the revenues from these acquisitions to mask increasingly stagnant organic growth; and (3) Everbridge was failing to disclose that the COVID–19 pandemic was having a material impact on the size of the deals that Everbridge was able to obtain, with a negative effect on the Company's revenue growth. When the true details entered the market, the lawsuit claims that investors suffered damages.

To join the Everbridge class action, go to https://rosenlegal.com/submit–form/?case_id=3095 or call Phillip Kim, Esq. toll–free at 866–767–3653 or email pkim@rosenlegal.com or cases@rosenlegal.com for information on the class action.

No Class Has Been Certified. Until a class is certified, you are not represented by counsel unless you retain one. You may select counsel of your choice. You may also remain an absent class member and do nothing at this point. An investor's ability to share in any potential future recovery is not dependent upon serving as lead plaintiff.

Follow us for updates on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/the–rosen–law–firm, on Twitter: https://twitter.com/rosen_firm or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rosenlawfirm/.

Attorney Advertising. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

———————————————–

Contact Information:

Laurence Rosen, Esq.
Phillip Kim, Esq.
The Rosen Law Firm, P.A.
275 Madison Avenue, 40th Floor
New York, NY 10016
Tel: (212) 686–1060
Toll Free: (866) 767–3653
Fax: (212) 202–3827
lrosen@rosenlegal.com
pkim@rosenlegal.com
cases@rosenlegal.com
www.rosenlegal.com


ROSEN, GLOBAL INVESTOR COUNSEL, Encourages Grab Holdings Limited f/k/a Altimeter Growth Corp. Investors with Losses to Secure Counsel Before Important Deadline in Securities Class Action – GRAB, GRABW

NEW YORK, May 04, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — WHY: Rosen Law Firm, a global investor rights law firm, reminds purchasers of the securities of Grab Holdings Limited f/k/a Altimeter Growth Corp. (NASDAQ: GRAB, GRABW) between November 12, 2021 and March 3, 2022, inclusive (the "Class Period"), of the important May 16, 2022 lead plaintiff deadline.

SO WHAT: If you purchased Grab securities during the Class Period you may be entitled to compensation without payment of any out of pocket fees or costs through a contingency fee arrangement.

WHAT TO DO NEXT: To join the Grab class action, go to https://rosenlegal.com/submit–form/?case_id=3876 or call Phillip Kim, Esq. toll–free at 866–767–3653 or email pkim@rosenlegal.com or cases@rosenlegal.com for information on the class action. A class action lawsuit has already been filed. If you wish to serve as lead plaintiff, you must move the Court no later than May 16, 2022. A lead plaintiff is a representative party acting on behalf of other class members in directing the litigation.

WHY ROSEN LAW: We encourage investors to select qualified counsel with a track record of success in leadership roles. Often, firms issuing notices do not have comparable experience, resources or any meaningful peer recognition. Many of these firms do not actually handle securities class actions, but are merely middlemen that refer clients or partner with law firms that actually litigate the cases. Be wise in selecting counsel. The Rosen Law Firm represents investors throughout the globe, concentrating its practice in securities class actions and shareholder derivative litigation. Rosen Law Firm has achieved the largest ever securities class action settlement against a Chinese Company. Rosen Law Firm was Ranked No. 1 by ISS Securities Class Action Services for number of securities class action settlements in 2017. The firm has been ranked in the top 4 each year since 2013 and has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for investors. In 2019 alone the firm secured over $438 million for investors. In 2020, founding partner Laurence Rosen was named by law360 as a Titan of Plaintiffs' Bar. Many of the firm's attorneys have been recognized by Lawdragon and Super Lawyers.

DETAILS OF THE CASE: According to the lawsuit, defendants throughout the Class Period made false and/or misleading statements and/or failed to disclose that: (1) Grab's driver supply declined during the third quarter; (2) as a result, Grab continued to invest heavily in driver and consumer incentives to "preemptively recalibrate driver supply"; (3) as a result, Grab's financial results would be adversely impacted, including, among other things, a significant decline in revenue; and (4) as a result of the foregoing, defendants' positive statements about Grab's business, operations, and prospects were materially misleading and/or lacked a reasonable basis. When the true details entered the market, the lawsuit claims that investors suffered damages.

To join the Grab class action, go to https://rosenlegal.com/submit–form/?case_id=3876 or call Phillip Kim, Esq. toll–free at 866–767–3653 or email pkim@rosenlegal.com or cases@rosenlegal.com for information on the class action.

No Class Has Been Certified. Until a class is certified, you are not represented by counsel unless you retain one. You may select counsel of your choice. You may also remain an absent class member and do nothing at this point. An investor's ability to share in any potential future recovery is not dependent upon serving as lead plaintiff.

Follow us for updates on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/the–rosen–law–firm, on Twitter: https://twitter.com/rosen_firm or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rosenlawfirm/.

Attorney Advertising. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

———————————————–

Contact Information:

Laurence Rosen, Esq.
Phillip Kim, Esq.
The Rosen Law Firm, P.A.
275 Madison Avenue, 40th Floor
New York, NY 10016
Tel: (212) 686–1060
Toll Free: (866) 767–3653
Fax: (212) 202–3827
lrosen@rosenlegal.com
pkim@rosenlegal.com
cases@rosenlegal.com
www.rosenlegal.com


Six Ways Rwanda Is Building Resilient and Sustainable Transport Systems

By Okechukwu Daniel Ogbonnaya and David Toovey
KIGALI, Rwanda, May 4 2022 – Over the last decade, Rwanda has invested in building efficient and resilient transport systems. Guided by the country’s Green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy (GGCRS), the Government of Rwanda has carried out numerous initiatives to promote sustainable mobility and the green economy at large.

Road transport accounts for 13% of total greenhouse gas emissions in Rwanda and this is expected to continue to rise. That is why developing efficient and resilient transport systems is one of 14 programmes of action under the GGCRS. This specific programme of action has four key components that include:

    ● Improving the efficiency of the internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles measured by reduction in emissions per kilometre
    ● Awareness of new technology
    ● Investments in infrastructure
    ● Developing efficient operational systems measured by reduction in emissions per km.

The 2018 Inventory of Air Pollution found high levels of air pollution across Kigali, mainly due to the burning of biomass and traditional cooking methods in rural and peri-urban areas and vehicular emissions in urban centers. The study found that from 2012 and 2015, the number of hospital admissions for acute respiratory infections doubled to more than 3.3 million. A major contributing factor to air pollution identified by the study was that 95.2% of cars in operation in Rwanda are currently more than ten years old with less stringent emissions standards than newer models. The Government of Rwanda is working to address the pollution levels and GGGI support is vital to ensure that the country can achieve its goal of reducing air pollution.

The Global Green Growth Institute has been supporting the Government of Rwanda to achieve low-carbon development. Part of the GGGI work has been supporting the transition to green cities and sustainable urban development, introduction of non-motorized transport, introduction of car free zones and adoption of e-mobility as a key elements to ensuring that cities are more livable, less polluting, and contribute to improved public health outcomes.

Over the past years, GGGI has supported a range of initiatives across the transport sector to emphasize green cities components of access to sustainable services through an emphasis on walking and cycling and recently in the area of e-mobility. GGGI Rwanda completed assessments in secondary cities and conducted stakeholder consultations on sustainable mobility. The work of GGGI has led to the introduction of cycling and pedestrian lanes on the roads in Kigali and across the six secondary cities as well as the introduction of public bycicle sharing scheme in Kigali and Musanze, and plans to introduce it in Huye and Rubavu cities.

From 2019, GGGI Rwanda has made headway into e-mobility and GGGI is providing technical support and awareness creation support. GGGI Rwanda also worked on a collaborative project on non-motorized transport o contribute towards the pedestrianization of car-free zones in the City of Kigali and the prioritization of walking and cycling infrastructure in urban centres. The aim of all these interventions is to reduce vehicular emissions through several means to support a multi-modal transport system with an emphasis on low-carbon options for residents and commuters.

Here are six ways Rwanda is building resilient and efficient transport systems at both the national and local levels.

    1. Developing a national sustainable mobility policy

Rwanda is developing a national sustainable mobility policy to facilitate the transition to e-mobility as the country continues strives for low carbon economic growth. The policy will strengthen collaboration between the private sector and the Government of Rwanda, attract investment in electric mobility solutions, foster new transport innovations and enhance the usage of non-motorised transport as a part of a wider transit oriented development policy.

Rwanda’s transport sector is highly dominated by internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles (mostly old vehicles imported from abroad) , with each of the over 264 500 car registered in Rwanda powered by gasoline or diesel. The transport sector is rapidly growing, with an annual vehicle growth rate of about 12% according to Rwanda’s Ministry of Infrastructure. These fuel-powered vehicles are the biggest contributor to poor air quality along busy roads in Rwanda, according to a 2017 study on air pollution carried by REMA, Rwanda’s environment watchdog.

Among key proposed actions is to transition to electric vehicles, with the country aiming to have 20% of all buses transition to electric by 2030 and introduction of incentives for the adotpion of electric vehicles.

GGGI is supporting the transition to electric vehicles through supporting strategy and policy formulation, awareness creation and conducting assessments and research to support informed decision making. Specifically, GGGI Rwanda Sustainable Mobility Program supports the government of Rwanda to (i) provide strategic advice on the development of Rwanda’s e-mobility transition, specifically in the adoption of electric vehicles (including electric buses), (ii) Support in the formulation of the Transport Policy, Transport Master Plan, and regulatory framework governing the adoption of e-mobility, (iii) Strengthening of non-motorised infrastructure prioritization and engagement of vulnerable groups and (iv) resource mobilization.

Investing in sustainable mobility is expected to reduce levels of pollution and emissions from the transport sector and improve the overall commute experience across the country.

    2. Attracting e-mobility investments

Rwanda has seen an increase in major e-mobility investments thanks to the country’s friendly doing business environment. For example, VW Mobility Solutions, Victoria Autofast Rwanda, Ampersand, Rwanda Electric Motorcycle Ltd and Safi/Gura Ride have all significantly invested in electric cars and motorbikes. Rwanda welcomes investments that support the transition to clean and green mobility.

    3. Introducing e-mobility incentives

The estimated cost of transitioning to e-mobility and the adoption of electric vehicles in Rwanda is US $900 million. However, transitioning to electric motorcycles alone would save the Rwandan economy Rwf 23 billion (US $22 million) in fuel imports every year.

That’s why the Government of Rwanda has introduced numerous fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to fast-track the electric mobility transition and attract additional investments in the growing industry. These incentives include:

    ● Low Charging Costs: Costs for charging stations will be priced at the lowest industrial tariff, which is significantly lower than the residential tariff. Electric vehicle owners will also benefit from reduced tariffs when charging during off peak hours – from 11pm to 8am.

    ● Tax Breaks: Electric vehicles (including Battery- electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles), spare parts, batteries and charging station equipment are now exempted from import and excise duties, zero rated Value Added Tax and spare parts, batteries and other equipment will also be exempted from withholding tax.Ordinarily, vehicle imports have to settle a bill of 25 per cent import duty, 18 per cent VAT, five per cent to 15 per cent excise duty, depending on the size of the engine, five per cent withholding tax, plus other levies.

    ● Provision of land: Companies setting up charging stations across the country can now access government owned land on a rent-free basis.

    ● Promoting Local Production: Companies manufacturing and assembling electric vehicles in Rwanda can now enjoy a 15 percent Corporate Income Tax rate and tax holiday.

These incentives will make it easier for Rwandans to be part of the country’s efforts to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

    4. Expanding and enhancing public transport networks

Rwanda has been working to improve public transport infrastructure. In 2012, the government approved the Public Transport Policy and Strategy and the Ministry of Infrastructure ensures the national road network is expanded, rehabilitated, upgraded, and maintained. The same direction was reiterated in the overall National Transport Policy and Strategy for Rwanda adopted by Cabinet in April 2021, where the infrastructure development aims to ensure public transport connects different areas of the country, thus contributing to sustainable economic growth.

The City of Kigali is also working to increase the number of bus stations in Kigali and upgrade existing infrastructure to build the capacity of the city’s public transport network. A long-held plan to build a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) that is expected to comprise of a 160 km road network around Kigali, that will be plied exclusively by buses with capacity of more than 100 passengers is also still on the table. In Addition, in May 2021, Rwanda entered a partnership with a private investment company to jointly work on introducing aerial cable cars in Kigali.

    5. Improving the quality of public transport systems

The Government of Rwanda, through the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority, recently introduced the Public Transport Generation 2. The new system aims to improve public transport by increasing the use of technology, improving route planning, fostering a better vehicle mix and introducing a scheduled service.

To improve public transport, buses in Kigali are equipped with free internet for passengers and make public transport more attractive to users, thus discouraging usage of private cars. The provision of the internet is part of the Smart Kigali Initiative launched in 2013 to provide free wireless connection in buses and taxis, airports, hotels and restaurants among other places. Apart from expanding public transport facilities, the country also plans to introduce high quality, high frequency Dedicated Bus Lanes (DBL) for public transport in Kigali to further encourage the use of public transport instead of private cars.

In line with electrification of mobility, Rwanda aims to have 20% of all buses electric by 2030, which will result in an estimated reduction of 72,000 tCO2eq.

According to Rwanda’s Vision 2050, Rwanda will develop a modern and efficient transport system where median time taken to commute to work is 45 minutes by 2035 and 25 minutes by 2050. The percentage of population using public transportation will grow to reach 90% or more and convenient public transport will be accessible at least within 500metre radius or less from commuters homes.

    6. Partnering to achieve sustainable mobility

The Government of Rwanda is working with a range of partners to achieve sustainable mobility and an efficient and resilient transport system. Key partners are the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), UNEP, KfW, International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the World Bank (WB). These partners are working with the Ministry of Infrastructure and other government institutions on the following activities:

    ● Background and feasibility study on introduction of electric vehicles in Rwanda: In partnership with UNEP and KfW, a study was conducted to assess the feasibility of introduction of electric vehicles in Rwanda. This study sheds light on benefits in terms of emissions reduction, impacts on energy consumption, and other cross cutting issues associated with the new technology namely job creation, poverty reduction and gender dimensions.
    ● E-mobility Showcase: In collaboration with Rwanda Environment Management Authority, Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Infrastructure, GGGI hosted an e-mobility showcase on current and emerging technologies in Rwanda and connected companies with potential investors in the region and internationally.
    ● Electric Buses: GGGI has been providing support to the Government of Rwanda to prepare a conducive environment and bridging the knowledge gap for the uptake of electric buses – first within the City of Kigali, and eventually to other urban centers in the country. The team has supported by promoting investment, helping to produce an Electric Bus Charging Infrastructure Report and training government staff on e-Bus System Planning and Optimisation.
    ● Electric Buses: IFC has initiated a study to assess the feasibility of e-buses in Kigali and inform the Government of Rwanda on potential PPP model for deploying e-buses in Kigali for start up and with a possibility to replicate a model for larger scale deployment in the rest of Rwanda. This work is to be complemented by concurrent work conducted by IFC to develop a diagnostic framework to prioritize and evaluate selected Sub-Saharan African cities’ potential for adoption of e-mobility solutions.

Through a partnership with the United Nations Development Programme, the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) has also joined the effort to promote electric vehicles, including the following initiatives:

    ● Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle: REMA recently launched its first ever plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) that will support the institution to fulfill its mandate of environmental protection and showcase that electric vehicle usage is possible in Rwanda.
    ● Converting ICE motorbikes to e-bikes: The United Nations Development Programme is also supporting REMA to retrofit 80 internal combustion engine motorbikes to electric motorbikes through a local company, Rwanda Electric Mobility. The initiative will support efforts to phase out polluting internal combustion engine motorcycles, particularly the motorcycle taxi fleet, which accounts for more than 80% of motorcycles in Rwanda. At least 40% of motorcycles, especially moto-taxis, will be eligible for the programme. Rwanda Electric Mobility aims to retrofit up to 30,000 motorcycles over the next five years.

Okechukwu Daniel Ogbonnaya is GGGI Country Representative and David Toovey is Communications Consultant at Spruik based in Rwanda.

IPS UN Bureau

 


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In Sri Lanka, Things Fall Apart

The protestors’ main rallying slogan is ‘GotaGoHome’

By Neville de Silva
LONDON, May 4 2022 – When I ended last month’s column hoping that April would not prove to be hapless Sri Lanka’s ‘cruellest month’ (in the words TS Eliot), I hardly anticipated the current turn of events.

In April, the country was to celebrate several ethno-religious festivals. The biggest among them was the Sinhala and Tamil New Year, celebrated by Sri Lanka’s majority community and its main minority. It was also the Muslim month of Ramadan and Easter, commemorated by the Christians.

For over one-and-a-half years Sri Lanka had been grappling with a fast-failing economy. The dwindling of foreign reserves and the consequent shortages of food, medicines, fuel, gas and kerosene for cooking were more recently compounded by power cuts, at times as long as 12hoursper day, bringing manufacturing industries to a standstill and forcing businesses to close down early.

With the country struggling to avert bankruptcy and an unprecedented rise in inflation and spiralling commodity prices, many working-class families, daily wage earners and farmers were facing penury and starvation.

Against this dire background Sri Lanka’s 22 million people were anxiously preparing for the April festivities, wondering whether there would be anything to celebrate.

Then it happened.

On March 31 the residents of Mirihana, a middle- class town on the outskirts of Colombo, held a candle-light protest to highlight the daily power cuts that disrupted their family activities. The protest, initially by women, attracted passers-by and huge crowds from neighbourhood towns and residential areas as President Gotabaya Rajapaksa lived in Mirihana in his private residence.

Swelling crowds shouting slogans later clashed with police firing tear gas and water cannons to break up the demonstration, but many of the protestors held their ground till the next day.

The Mirihana protest has sparked the island-wide conflagration that now has the once all-powerful Rajapaksa family-run government teetering on the wall like Humpty Dumpty awaiting a splintering fall. It will remain an important landmark in this uprising, which some have called, rather erroneously, Sri Lanka’s ‘Arab Spring’.

Mirihana began the assault against the Rajapaksa fiefdom that once seemed impregnable. Gotabaya Rajapaksa is president. Brother Mahinda, who served two terms as president, is currently prime minister. Another brother, Basil, a dual citizen with US citizenship and a home in Los Angeles, was until last month finance minister, and the eldest brother Chamal holds the post ofirrigation minister and state minister of security. Mahinda’s eldest son Namal, whom his father sees as heir apparent, was sports and youth affairs minister, among other portfolios.

It appears that the prime minister suspects he is going to be sacrificed on the altar of expediency

Together, the family reportedly controlled 72 per cent of government resources, free to use as they deemed fit, even to farm off to their acolytes and business friends in the way of government contracts and import monopolies, even during the Covid pandemic.

Today, however, that fortress of power and privilege appears as exposed as France’s Maginot Line, set to crumble against a German Blitzkrieg.

All the Rajapaksas, except Prime Minister Mahinda, lost their positions last month when President Gotabaya suddenly dissolved the cabinet in a desperate attempt to quell the mounting outrage against him. It seemed a weak moral sidestep, for the protesters’ cry was not only against the president but against the entire Rajapaksa family, which they claimed had dipped their hands into the country’s assets for personal gain.

Mirihana lit the fuse for the enormous protest that flared up at Colombo’s beach-front Galle Face Green, right opposite the Presidential Secretariat from where political power radiated. It was this that breached the Rajapaksa citadel.

Economists urged the government seek IMF assistance

At the time of writing, this protest – which shows signs of unifying the country’s multiracial, multi-religious society and has drawn crowds of all ages and a wide cross-section of the Sri Lankan community, including the professional classes – has entered its 17thcontinuous day, with hundreds of protesters camped there day and night despite the heat and rain.

Yet it is no Arab Spring. It is an orderly, non-violent protest, mainly of youth of all shades, with an inventive genius to keep themselves and their cause alive.

Never in Sri Lanka’s 74 years of post-independence history has the country seen anything like this, even though anti-government protests are nothing new to the country, which has seen Leftist political parties and associated trade unions functioning even under British colonial rule.

The main rallying slogan is ‘GotaGoHome’, telling Gotabaya to return to his home – also in Los Angeles –though he relinquished his US citizenship to be eligible to contest the presidential election in November 2019.

Built round that slogan are a myriad other satirical comments in song, verse, caricatures, cartoons and videos, the creative work of the protesters deriding the Rajapaksas, some demanding they return the country’s supposedly stolen assets and otherwise accumulated wealth in tax havens.

Although the protesters are now demanding that the whole Rajapaksa family pack their bags and quit, the main target quite rightly is President Gotabaya. It was his military arrogance – having played a role in the defeat of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE) in 2009, under the leadership of his president brother Mahinda – and his ignorance of politics and governance, and over-reliance on incompetent advisers that started the economic rot.

With a group of retired and serving military men appointed to key civilian positions and a coterie of so-called intellectuals and businessmen as advisers, he plunged head-first into economic policy decisions.

Within a few days of assuming office, he had slashed VAT from 15 per cent to 8per cent and abolished some other taxes that cost the state a whopping 28 per cent in revenue. It led the Central Bank to print money feverishly to meet budgetary commitments, causing inflation.

Also disastrous was the overnight decision to ban chemical fertilisers that drove farmers to burn effigies of ministers and demonstrate on the streets, demanding restitution of their fertiliser needs or face food insecurity in the months ahead, forcing a once adamant president to retract.

While economists had foreseen the impending danger in depleting foreign reserves and international debt repayments this year, and hence urged the government seek IMF assistance, the president clung steadfastly to the advice of the Central Bank Governor and the Treasury Secretary, among others, who dismissed the idea for more than one year even ignoring cabinet support for IMF help.

In a belated gesture, President Gotabaya sacked the two officials immediately after replacing his cabinet with younger, untested MPs. He sent his new finance minister to Washington to plead with the IMF for immediate relief.

The president is hoping for political concessions he has agreed to – including returning to parliament and the prime minister powers that he usurped on coming to office through the 20thconstitutional amendment. He has now agreed to form an interim All Party government.

But one sees a growing rift in the once close-knit family. Names proposed by Prime Minister Mahinda for the new cabinet were ignored by his brother, causing the prime minister to boycott the swearing-in of the new ministers.

If the president opts for an interim government, it means he has decided to stay put but call for the prime minister’s resignation. It would appear that the prime minister suspects he is going to be sacrificed on the altar of expediency.

In an interview the other day, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa insisted that he will not resign and any reconstituted government must be under his leadership. In the meantime, he has been trying to whip up support against his ouster by canvassing MPs to muster the required 113 votes.

How the protesting public will react to all these political manipulations will depend on what is on offer. Right now, they are determined to continue until President Gotabaya surrenders, which seems unlikely.

Source: Asian Affairs, London

Neville de Silva is a veteran Sri Lankan journalist who held senior roles in Hong Kong at The Standard and worked in London for Gemini News Service. He has been a correspondent for foreign media including the New York Times and Le Monde. More recently he was Sri Lanka’s Deputy High Commissioner in London.

IPS UN Bureau

 


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UN Continues Financial Ties with a Vilified Russia Isolated by the International Community

Credit: United Nations

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, May 4 2022 – The Russian Federation, which invaded Ukraine last February killing scores of civilians and destroying entire cities, has been condemned, vilified and ostracized by the international community.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was emphatic last month when he remarked: “The use of force by one country against another is the repudiation of the principles that every country has committed to uphold. This applies to the present military offensive. It is wrong. It is against the Charter. It is unacceptable”.

And while the US and Western European nations have cut off all commercial and financial ties with Russia— treating Moscow as an international pariah– the UN Secretariat is continuing its multi-million-dollar contracts with a blacklisted Russia.

Metaphorically speaking, it triggers the question: does the UN’s right hand know what its left foot is up to?

The goods and services from Russia are primarily air transportation, mostly helicopters, including maintenance and servicing; information and communication technologies (ICT); and food catering, largely for the UN’s 12 peacekeeping missions.

Asked if the UN had received a letter from the Ukrainian Mission urging the Secretariat to end its procurements from Russia, UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters last month: “We did receive, earlier in March, a petition by the Permanent Mission of Ukraine to us, to quote, “immediately suspend all non essential procurement cooperation of the UN with the Russian Federation.”

“We responded to the Permanent Mission of Ukraine a few days later that the procuring of goods and services and works by the UN Secretariat, is in accordance with the mandate given to us by the General Assembly and in [conformity] with the Financial Regulations of the UN, which requires such procurement actions to be done on the basis of best value for money, fairness, integrity and transparency, and effective international competition.”

He also pointed out that “it’s no secret that a lot of our aviation procurement for peacekeeping and just logistics comes from the Russian Federation, with also quite a bit from Ukraine.”

“The rules are set by the General Assembly, and we follow those rules. So, our position is set by the rules… the financial rules that we have… that we follow… The rules say procurement actions are done on the basis of best value for money, fairness, integrity and transparency, and effective international competition”.

But the 193-member General Assembly, the UN’s highest policy-making body, is missing in action (MIA) — or perhaps planning to pass the buck to the UN’s Administrative and Budgetary Committee.

Asked for a response to comments from the UN Spokesperson‘s office, Christian Saunders, Assistant Secretary General for Supply Chain Management at the Department of Operational Support, told IPS: “The information provided during the briefing by the UN spokesperson remains valid.”

According to the latest available figures, the UN’s purchases from Russia amounted to about $115.6 million in 2021, with Moscow listed as the 5th largest supplier behind the US, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kenya and Switzerland.

The breakdown is as follows: US ($456.2 million), UAE ($329.3 million), Kenya ($192.4 million), Switzerland ($182.3 million) and Russia ($115.6 million).

The UN also has trade links with Russia’s largest helicopter operator, UTair – Helicopter Services, described as a leading provider of aviation services to companies in the fuel and energy industries, plus the United Nations.

Last year, the UN Procurement Division (UNPD) called for tenders for the following contracts in aviation procurement, where Russia has remained a front-runner.

One Medium Fixed Wing Turboprop Passenger Aircraft Support of UNISFA for a period of one year Plus two optional extension periods of one year each.

An Air Ambulance Aircraft Service with Guaranteed Availability based in Europe in support of UN Operations, for a period of three months, plus three optional extension periods of three months each.

A second Air Ambulance Aircraft Service with Guaranteed Availability based in Accra, Ghana in support of UN Operations, for a period of three months plus three optional extension periods of three months each.

Meanwhile, the approved budget for UN Peacekeeping operations for the fiscal year 1 July 2021 – 30 June 2022 is a staggering $6.38 billion. (A/C.5/75/25)—and payments to Russian contractors will flow largely from this budget.

But one question cries out for an answer: how will the UN pay for these purchases and services when Russians have been barred from most of the international banking system?

Speaking of Russia’s isolation at the UN, US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told reporters May 3: “We have been successful in isolating Russia in the Security Council, and that’s a significant success. We have been successful in unifying the voices condemning Russia in the General Assembly, but it came about because there was so much support for it in the Security Council. And getting 141 votes to support that effort was a significant success for all of us””.

“And we have been successful in unifying the UN in suspending Russia from the Human Rights Council. Russia is isolated in the Security Council, and every time we have a discussion in the Security Council as it relates to Russia, they are on the defensive and we will continue to keep them on the defensive until they end their brutal attack on the Ukrainian people”.

Last week Russia was suspended from the UN World Tourism Organization (UNETO), shortly after Moscow announced it had decided to quit in anticipation of the suspension.

Ian Williams, President of the Foreign Press Association, told IPS it is difficult within the rule, but the UN can be notoriously slow in paying its bills which might be appropriate in this case.

“But they do need an official body to bar contracts for Russian companies to protect staff involved and to ward off breach of contract. It is hard to leave it to the courage, or caprice, of UN bureaucrats”.

The UN had no compunction in hiring a CIA founded company to run UN missions along the Iraq-Kuwait border despite Iraqi protests at the UN, said Williams, author of ‘Untold: The Real Story of the United Nations in Peace and War.’

IPS UN Bureau Report

 


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