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President Kenyatta says Amina up to the task for WTO top job » Capital News

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 9- President Uhuru Kenyatta has endorsed Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed for the World Trade Organization (WTO) Director General’s post, saying she is uniquely qualified to lead the global organization.

The President reiterated that Amina understands the WTO and its processes, having chaired all its high-level decision-making bodies when she was the Council chair.

“My experience working with her over the years and watching her work with others has convinced me that she is an effective leader and without doubt, a master consensus builder. She listens to advice and works hard always to find common ground,” Kenyatta said.

“I have no doubt in my mind that her leadership at the WTO will, without doubt, be a game-changer, that will enable this important institution to meet the requirements of its Member States and to better address the evolving demands of the 21st Century, and this, led by a proven consensus-builder,” he said.

Kenyatta further pointed out that Amina’s wealth of  experience with the WTO and the multilateral trading system combined with her extensive track record in international relations and her political experience makes her fit for the position.

“Amina Mohamed has served this nation greatly across several ministerial portfolios. It should also be noted that Minister Mohamed chaired the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference that was held here in Nairobi and that was highly successful.  She is the current President of the 14th United Nations Conference on Trade and Development,” Kenyatta added.

Kenya submitted Amina’s candidature for the position of Director-General of the World Trade Organization, in which she is battling it out with 7 candidates from Egypt, Mexico, Moldova, Nigeria, South Korea, Britain and Saudi Arabia.

 The World Trade Organization promotes trade for the benefit of all countries.

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 It is the only institution that provides a unique forum for trade negotiations and for the settlement of disputes among its members. It is also the only platform for the integration of developing nations into the world economy.

Amina, 58, first ran for the post in 2013. Her candidacy this time means there are three Africans and three women in the contest.

Britain’s first post-Brexit international trade secretary Liam Fox, former Saudi economy minister Mohammed al-Tuwaijri and Amina all threw their hats in the ring in the final 24 hours before Wednesday’s deadline.

They join candidates from Egypt, Mexico, Moldova, Nigeria and South Korea, a WTO official confirmed after the close of nominations.

The WTO General Council will meet from July 15-17 to hear their presentations and quiz them on their plans for the global trade body, which was beset with mammoth challenges even before the pandemic-driven global economic crisis struck.

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“As the world seeks to recover from the shared challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of free and fair trade has never been more crucial,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in his letter to the WTO, nominating Fox.

He said the former defence minister, 58, could implement the necessary reforms “to ensure the global trading system truly delivers for all WTO members.”

– Pile of problems –

The new chief must revive stalled trade talks, lay the ground for the 2021 ministerial conference — one of the WTO’s major events — and thaw relations with the United States.

The WTO finds itself caught in the middle of rising tensions between Washington and Beijing.

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The United States, which has threatened to leave the WTO, has blocked the organisation’s dispute settlement appeal system since December, and wants China moved up from the developing economies category.

The Geneva-based organisation is staging a swift contest to replace outgoing director-general Roberto Azevedo.

In a surprise move in mid-May, the Brazilian career diplomat announced he was stepping down one year early at the end of August.

Azevedo, 62, said he was ending his second four-year term early for personal reasons, forcing the WTO’s 164 member states to come up with a successor in just three months instead of the usual nine.

Rather than an election, the selection procedure relies on finding consensus, with candidates gradually being eliminated in turn.

Besides the three late entrants, the other candidates are South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee; Mexico’s former WTO deputy director-general Jesus Seade Kuri; former Nigerian foreign and finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; Egyptian former diplomat Hamid Mamdouh; and former Moldovan foreign minister Tudor Ulianovschi.

– First African WTO boss? –

Since the WTO was created in 1995, three of its directors-general were from Europe, while one each came from Oceania, Asia and South America.

Africa fancies its chances this time, even though there is no regional rotation principle at the global trade body.

However, African nations have so far failed to convene around a single candidate.

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Mamdouh, 67, a veteran former senior WTO official who is also a Swiss national, is the only contender from the continent with any express backing from the African Union.

Nigeria’s decision to stand Okonjo-Iweala against him has triggered a legal dispute with the AU.

Nevertheless, Okonjo-Iweala, 66, “is gaining ground within Africa,” a diplomatic source said.

The former World Bank number two insisted that the WTO — which has never had a female leader — must choose is next chief “on merit”.

“And then, if it happens to be a woman or an African, that is also good,” she told reporters in Geneva at a virtual press conference in late June.

Yoo, 53, is the other female candidate.

The youngest contender is 37-year-old Ulianovschi, while Seade, at 73, is the oldest. The Mexican has held posts at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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