Category Archives: Africa – International

IMF cuts global growth forecast – falls for South Africa and Nigeria


IMF cuts forecast for global growth

Worker on an oil platform in Niger DeltaAFP Oil exporters such as Nigeria have been hit by the fall in commodity prices

The International Monetary Fund has downgraded its forecast for global economic growth this year.

It has reduced its figure to 3.1% from the 3.3% it predicted in July. The 2016 forecast is down to 3.6% from 3.8%.

“A return to robust and synchronized global expansion remains elusive,” the IMF says.

The report also warns that the risks of an outcome worse than its forecasts are more pronounced than they were just a few months ago.

The sharpest downgrades are for emerging economies, especially Brazil, Nigeria, South Africa and Russia.

So the IMF is still predicting growth, but it is distinctly lacklustre growth, especially for the current year.

Modest recovery

The developed economies are expected to manage slightly stronger growth than before, reflecting the modest recovery in the eurozone and the return of growth in Japan, though that looks tentative at best.

Receding legacies from the financial crisis are elements in that story, as is the long-lasting support from central bank policies – low and zero interest rates and also quantitative easing, which continues in the eurozone and Japan.

The emerging and developing economies still account for what the IMF calls the lion’s share of global growth, but they are slowing, in 2015 for the fifth consecutive year.

One important factor is China’s economic transition – from very rapid growth driven by investment and industrial exports to moderate expansion based to a greater extent on Chinese consumer spending increasingly on services.

The IMF mentions that shift as one direct factor behind the emerging world slowdown. But China is also a key element behind other forces,

Commodity prices

Oil producers have been hit by the decline in the price of their exports. Nigeria and Russia are striking examples. China’s slowdown is one of the underlying forces, along with abundant supplies of crude oil.

The report also mentions the declines of other commodity prices as a factor, especially in Latin America. Some countries also have domestic political issues that have encroached onto economic performance; Brazil for example.

The other downbeat element in this report is the view of risks – how the global economy might perform differently from this forecast.

Financial market volatility is a possible danger, if interest rate rises in the US encourage investors to move funds out of emerging economies more rapidly than they have done already.

Increased debt in the emerging economies, lower commodity prices and slower growth could undermine their financial stability, which could in turn hit wider economic performance.

China’s slowdown is another possible trouble spot, if it does not manage its economic transition reasonably smoothly.

There is also the possibility of lower potential growth – that’s a wide-ranging term for factors that govern the maximum capacity of an economy to grow if nothing much goes wrong. Weak investment (though not in China) and the effect of longer-term unemployment on workers’ skills are examples of forces that could do further damage.

And there’s one more risk we have heard about before: Greece. In terms of the international economic impact the situation has calmed greatly. But the IMF warns there is the potential for renewed financial stress in Europe if there is fresh political uncertainty there.

Still, the IMF’s main forecast is for growth to pick up somewhat next year – globally and in the emerging economies. It’s just that it is still not all that convincing a recovery.

Nigeria – Fayola, Fashemi and Amaechi make Buhari ministerial list


Fashola, Fayemi, Amaechi

Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on Tuesday announced the 21 ministerial nominees contained in the list sent to him by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday,  September 30.

Saraki, who read the list around 10:45am  after opening the sealed envelope, said the list contained the first batch of nominees and that the subsequent names, according to the president, would come shortly.

The nominees include Abubakar Malami (SAN),  Abdurahman Bello Dambazzau, Aisha Jumai Al Hassan,  Alhaji Lai Mohammed,  Babatunde Raji Fashola, Adebayo Shittu,  Solomon Dalong, Senator Chris Ngige,  Rotimi Amaechi, and  Chief Audu Ogbeh.

Others are Mrs. Amina Ibrahim, Dr. Osagie  Ehaneri, Emmanuel Kachukwu,  Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Eng. Suleiman Adamu, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun,  Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu,  Hon. Ahmed Musa Bello, Ibrahim Usman Jubrin, Senator Hadi Serika and Senator Udo Udoma.

Saraki said the screening of the nominees would start on Tuesday, October 13.

Premium Times

Buhari appoints Lai Mohammed, Fashola, Amaechi, others, ministers


President Muhammadu Buhari has named the spokesperson of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Lai Mohammed, former governors Chibuike Amaechi and Babatunde Fashola, as ministers, the Senate announced Tuesday.

The Senate president, Bukola Saraki, read out 21 names on the list of nominees sent to the senate by the president last Wednesday.

The list also has Abubakar Malami, former defence chief Abdurahman Dambazzau, former governorship candidate in Taraba state, Aisha Alhassan, Adebayo Shittu, former senator, Udo Udoma and Ibrahim Jibril.

Others are Suleiman Adamu, former senator, Chris Nigige, Kemi Adeosun, Ahmed Ibeto and Hadi Sirika, former PDP chairman, Audu Ogbeh.

The list also has former Anambra governor, Ogbonnaya Onu, NNPC group managing director, Ibeh kachikwu, Amina Mohammed, Solomon Dalong, Suleaiman Adamu, and former Ekiti governor, Kayode Fayemi.

The screening of the 21 ministerial nominees will begin next Tuesday when the Senate would have received the resumes and other documentations of the nominees, Mr. Saraki said.

The Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, commended Mr. Buhari for ensuring the list did not exceed September 30 as promised.

He however asked “when should we be expecting the remaining list”.

Responding, Mr. Saraki said, the President in his letter had said he would forward the remaining names shortly.

Sierra Leone – ebola and the rise in newborn and maternal deaths


DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Maternal and newborn deaths in Sierra Leone have soared since the Ebola outbreak in West Africa as fear of being infected and mistrust of health workers deter pregnant women from giving birth in health facilities, researchers said on Tuesday.

Deaths of women during or just after childbirth rose by almost a third and those of newborns by a quarter between May 2014 and April 2015 compared with the previous year, a study by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) found.

The number of women giving birth at health centres fell by 11 percent, and those receiving care before or after birth fell by around a fifth, despite most facilities across Sierra Leone being functional and adequately staffed, the study said.

The world’s worst recorded Ebola outbreak, which has killed 11,300 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since it began in December 2013, has set back progress on maternal health in the country, the report’s lead researcher Susan Jones said.

Maternal death rates halved in Sierra Leone between 1990 and 2013, yet it is still has one of the highest rates in the world – more than one in 100 women dies in childbirth – according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Now we can rebuild public confidence through education campaigns for both women and their partners, so they understand how Ebola is and isn’t spread,” Jones said.

“Also, it’s important… to encourage women who do use services to encourage others to do the same,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Despite a persistent shortage of health workers, facilities across Sierra Leone had similar numbers of doctors, midwives and nurses during the Ebola outbreak as in the previous year, and were ready to provide maternal care, according to the study.

Nurses interviewed for the study said that many pregnant women refused to go to health centres because they were afraid of being diagnosed with Ebola, while others chose to visit traditional healers and herbalists instead.

Sierra Leone released its last two known Ebola patients 10 days ago and began a new 42-day countdown to being officially declared free of the virus.

The study called for stronger referral systems, a postgraduate medical training programme and initiatives to inform the public about the importance of antenatal and postnatal care and assisted childbirth.

It was commissioned by the international development charity Voluntary Service Overseas and carried out in partnership with WaterAid and Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health and Sanitation.

Kenya – Raila says Moses Kuria coached witness against Ruto in ICC case

Daily Nation

Raila claims Uhuru used Moses Kuria to fix Ruto at the ICC

Mr Odinga claimed Mr Kenyatta used Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria to obtain and coach witnesses.

Cord leader Raila Odinga, who on Tuesday claimed that President Uhuru Kenyatta procured and coached witnesses to fix Deputy President William Ruto. PHOTO | ROBERT NGUGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

In Summary

  • Mr Odinga claimed that Mr Kenyatta used Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria to obtain and coach witnesses who were to testify against Mr Ruto at the ICC.
  • Mr Kuria, the Cord leader stated, was an employee and political assistant to Mr Kenyatta at the time.
  • Mr Kuria has stirred controversy following his claims that it is Mr Odinga, Narc-Kenya leader Martha Karua and Kisumu Senator Anyang’ Nyong’o who conspired to send Mr Ruto to the ICC.
  • President Kenyatta’s spokesman Manoah Esipisu could not be reached for a comment on the allegations.

Cord leader Raila Odinga on Tuesday claimed that President Uhuru Kenyatta procured and coached witnesses to fix Deputy President William Ruto at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Mr Odinga claimed Mr Kenyatta used Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria to obtain and coach witnesses who were to testify against Mr Ruto at the ICC.

Mr Kuria, the Cord leader stated, was an employee and political assistant to Mr Kenyatta at the time.

“Moses Kuria was an employee and a political assistant to Mr Uhuru Kenyatta when he arranged the procuring of witnesses to fix Deputy President William Ruto,” Mr Odinga stated.

He added that Mr Kuria worked for Mr Kenyatta as a political assistant between 2008 and 2014 and was based at the UK Centre at Baden Powell House in Nairobi.

“This is the period when, by Kuria’s own admission, witnesses were being procured against Mr Ruto. The work Kuria did during the course of his employment must be presumed to have been done for and on behalf of his principal, Uhuru Kenyatta,” he went on.

“Uhuru and the Jubilee team cannot claim to be ignorant of what was being done by his own employee Moses Kuria. It is safe to assume that these things were done under his direction. If not, Uhuru must tell the country,” he noted.

President Kenyatta’s spokesman Manoah Esipisu could not be reached for a comment on the allegations.


The latest allegations are likely to escalate the war of words between Jubilee coalition politicians, led by Mr Kuria and National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale, and Mr Odinga over Mr Ruto’s cases at the ICC.

Mr Kuria has stirred controversy following his claims that it is Mr Odinga, Narc-Kenya leader Martha Karua and Kisumu Senator Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o who conspired to send Mr Ruto to the ICC.

The Jubilee leadership has picked up the claims, with Mr Duale challenging Mr Odinga to tell Kenyans his role in the case facing the deputy president at the ICC.

Mr Odinga and Prof Nyong’o have, however, laughed off the claims but Ms Karua has obtained court orders barring Mr Kuria from linking her to Mr Ruto’s cases.
The claims have also attracted the interest of ICC officials, who have written to Mr Kuria requesting a meeting with him this Friday to interview him on the matter. It is not clear whether Mr Kuria will appear before the ICC officials as a witness or a suspect.

“The time has come for Uhuru to come out and tell Kenyans what his role was in the fixing of his deputy Mr Ruto,” Mr Odinga stated.

“These other machinations disguised as prayers and attempts to drag other people’s names into the witness procuring scheme that was known only to Kuria are only meant to lull Mr Ruto’s supporters and create a false sense of security for them. Uhuru owes Kenyans and his deputy the truth,” he added.

Mr Odinga said it was hypocritical for Mr Kuria to allege that the ODM leadership “fixed” Mr Ruto, whom he described as a “comrade” who represented the party in the negotiations that ended the post-election violence and gave birth to the grand coalition government.


“Mr Ruto was, at that time, a prime target of those who stole the elections. Facts as narrated above make claims by Jubilee a most preposterous proposal and one of the biggest lies ever peddled in our country,” Mr Odinga stated.

He maintained that he firmly supported the formation of a local tribunal to try those who sponsored and unleashed the post-election violence but his efforts failed due to strong opposition from MPs who insisted that those who bore the greatest responsibility for the chaos be tried at the ICC.

“Eventually Kofi Anan handed over the famous (envelope) to the ICC. This was the origin of the ICC cases,” he stated.

He further said that Mr Ruto’s Eldoret backyard bore the brunt of the violence, which he said was sponsored by the State to suppress opposition protests that followed the disputed 2007 elections. Mr Ruto had just been re-elected the Eldoret North MP on an ODM ticket.

Zimbabwe – Mugabe supporters fearing replacing him would sideline them, so they keep him in power

Mail and Guardian

Mugabe’s allies fear ousting him could see them sidelined, so they help the 91-old veteran hang on

A group of Young Turks, the G-40, have urged party supporters at rallies to chant “back mother” – for president – a reference to Grace Mugabe.

President Mugabe takes some precious time out during a public event: Despite doubts about his competence, dynamics inside the ruling party still give him a strong hand to play. (Photo/Newsday).
President Mugabe takes some precious time out during a public event: Despite doubts about his competence, dynamics inside the ruling party still give him a strong hand to play. (Photo/Newsday).

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s oldest allies favour letting the 91-year-old remain in office indefinitely rather than trying to oust him even as Zimbabwe’s economy collapses, members of the decision-making body of the ruling party said.

While frustrated by his resistance to changes needed to rescue the economy, they’re concerned that if pushed out of office he would place allies, including his wife and younger politicians, at the head of government, sidelining them, three members of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front’s politburo said.

They asked not to be identified because the discussions aren’t public.

Doubts about Mugabe’s competence surfaced last month when he read the wrong speech at the opening of parliament without realising he had delivered the same address a few weeks earlier.

While Zimbabwe’s economy is stagnating, with slumping consumer demand pushing the country into deflation and 83% of government expenditure going on civil servant wages, Mugabe this year reversed decisions by his ministers to cancel state worker bonuses and trim the capital’s workforce by 5,000 people.

“Given the level of factionalism in ZANU-PF, there is no force strong enough to oust him,” Mark Rosenberg, Africa director at New York-based Eurasia Group, said by phone from Johannesburg. “If he doesn’t die in office and he steps down beforehand, he will try to control the process as much as possible and will probably succeed.”

The southern African nation faces its worst economic crisis since its virtual collapse in 2008, when inflation soared to 500 billion percent, prompting the government to abandon its currency in favour of the use of foreign exchange including the U.S. dollar in early 2009.

City residents are now subjected to power cuts between 4 a.m. and 10 p.m. on an almost daily basis and revenue of companies ranging from fast food outlet operators to beer-makers and sausage producers has slumped, deepening deflation which has now persisted for 10 consecutive months.

Prices fell 2.8% in August.

“We’re being taken to a very, very low point,” Harare-based economist John Robertson said in an interview. “No one seems able to announce policies that may provide at least partial relief for fear of being contradicted by the president.”

Liberation war

While Mugabe promoted one liberation-war era colleague Emmerson Mnangagwa, 69, to the post of vice president at a December conference, he sidelined another, ousting former vice president Joice Mujuru, 60, from the party along with some of his oldest allies such as Didymus Mutasa, 80, a former speaker of parliament and cabinet minister.

Mujuru fought in the war against white-minority Rhodesia and served in Mugabe’s first cabinet in 1980 at the age of 24. She was married to Solomon Mujuru, the one-time Zimbabwean military commander who died in a fire in 2011.

At the same congress Mugabe’s wife Grace, 41 years younger than her husband, was given the post of head of the party’s women’s league, entitling her to a politburo seat, while members of a group known as Generation-40, cemented their positions. Among the most notable G-40 members are Local Government Minister Saviour Kasukuwere and Youth, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Patrick Zhuwao. The group derives its name from the fact that most of its members are in their 40s and played no role in the war.

Zanu-PF and Mugabe have dealt with, and manipulated, power struggles since he unilaterally took control of the party in 1975 after the assassination of Herbert Chitepo in Zambia.

The latest, though, worries the old guard because Mugabe is increasingly frail, often needing help to walk. Should he realize his frailty, they say, he may decide to empower his wife’s G-40 allies.

G-40 members including Kasukuwere have urged party supporters at rallies to chant, in the Shona language “Munhu wese kuna amai,” which translates as everyone back mother, a reference to Grace.

A failure to suppress the G-40 could hinder an economic recovery and prompt the defection of voters to a new party planned by Mujuru or the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, the people said.

The lifestyles of the group, which include mansions and sports cars, make them unpopular in a nation where about 72.3% of the people live on less than $1.25 a day, according to the United Nations Development Program.

For her part, Grace must win over the military, a task complicated by the fact that she has no struggle credentials. Both Mnangagwa and Joice Mujuru have the credentials and support in the army and air force. Should Mugabe die in office, generals are likely to stick with what they know, the politburo officials said.

Should Mugabe promote his wife to a more powerful position than head of the party’s Women’s League, Mnangagwa and Joice Mujuru would face a greater threat. The military won’t readily contradict Mugabe while he’s alive, the officials said. Such a move might give Grace Mugabe and the G-40 a chance to oust Mnangagwa in a similar manner to the exit of Mujuru from the party, they said. Mujuru was accused of plotting to assassinate Mugabe, an allegation she denies.

South Afgrica – former apartheid minister Vlok seeks redemption

Mail and Guardian

Twice a week, the former minister of law and order drives a battered pick-up truck to deliver free food around the township of Olievenhoutbosch.

Adriaan Vlok, former South African apartheid minister and born-again Christian, walking from the home of a recipient of his weekly charity run in Olievenhoutbosch township in Centurion. (All pictures: John Wessels, AFP)

Few would guess that Adriaan Vlok was once a much-feared figure in South Africa’s apartheid regime.

The former law and order minister oversaw brutal police policies that suppressed public anger against racist white-minority rule, which was eventually overthrown with Nelson Mandela’s election in 1994.

Now a 77-year-old widower, Vlok seeks redemption from his past by opening his house as a refuge for the vulnerable and distributing food to poor black families.

In the late 1980s, he was responsible for covert bombing operations that targeted church buildings and trade union headquarters, and he even tried to kill an anti-apartheid priest by poisoning his underwear.

“It was our job to make people fear us, because … they were fighting and coming for us,” Vlok said as he prepared his next food delivery.

“We had the emergency regulations to lock up people without taking them to court, so people were afraid of the police. I believed that apartheid was right.”

Today, Vlok lives in the suburbs of Pretoria in a modest house that he shares with a black man who repairs furniture in the garage, a former convict who killed his own wife, and a white family which was homeless.

Vlok comforts Angelina Mamaleki after news that her son had passed away in Olievenhoutbosch Township.

Hungry families
Without any escort or protection, he drives a few miles to the township of Olievenhoutbosch with his car loaded with trays of food donated by local supermarkets and bakeries.

There, the man who once sent in the riot police distributes pies, sandwiches and cakes to hungry families, a children’s daycare centre and a disabled charity.

Vlok never served time in prison for his self-confessed crimes and many black South Africans believe that apartheid leaders evaded real justice while the country’s poor were left to live in tin shacks.

For Vlok, a born-again Christian, it will be a lifetime’s work to try to atone for his sins – and he knows that many of those who suffered do not forgive him.

“I feel ashamed of many things I have done. I was hard, I was heartless towards people, I locked people up,” he said.

“I supported apartheid, I maintained apartheid, therefore I believe I have to say I am sorry.”

In a symbolic act of contrition, in 2006 Vlok washed the feet of Frank Chikane, the priest whom he tried to kill when police operatives rubbed poison into clothes in Chikane’s luggage at Johannesburg airport.

Chikane nearly died in the bizarre assassination attempt, for which Vlok eventually received a 10-year suspended sentence.

His critics dismissed the feet-washing as a stunt that avoided disclosing the scale of police abuse, but Vlok’s sincerity is beyond question for those whom he has helped directly.

Chance to make amends
“In my youth days, we used to watch the news and everything you heard about this man was negative,” said Rudi Hudson, a former convict who now lives in Vlok’s house.

“There were very few South Africans who didn’t know him because he was so prominent.”

Hudson, a reformed drug addict who was jailed for killing his wife in a botched suicide attempt, first met Vlok during a prison visit.

“We talked a lot about our pasts and how I was in prison and he was free outside,” he said.

“He told me he had done a lot of things that could have put him in prison.

“When I was released, he was one of the first people to come and visit me. I came [to live] here, and he helped me to get back on my feet.”

Vlok, who has two sons living in Australia and a daughter in South Africa, does not charge his lodgers rent, but they chip in money to help pay for bills.

Moses Nemakonde (32) runs a small upholstery business renovating old sofas and armchairs in a workshop in the garage.

“I told my clients this place is Adriaan Vlok’s. And then that’s when I realised he was the minister of police. But before, I didn’t know anything,” he said with a smile.

Vlok also passes unrecognised through the dirt alleys of Olievenhoutbosch as he unloads his regular deliveries.

For those who rely on the food, the help he provides now is more important than how he once loomed over their lives.

“I was a domestic [cleaner] under apartheid, and I was always afraid of the police,” said Angelina Mamaleki (74) who now runs a daycare centre for 20 children.

“What happened at that time is all gone.” – AFP

South Africa – Verashni Pillay appointed Mail and Guardian editor-in-chief

Mail and Guardian

The Mail & Guardian is proud to announce Verashni Pillay as its new editor-in-chief.

Verashni Pillay. (Madelene Cronjé, Mail & Guardian)

Joining her as acting deputy editor is the M&G‘s Phillip de Wet.

Verashni cut her teeth on digital journalism with Media24 for several years before joining the M&G in 2009.

She went on to work at many levels within the publication, beginning with the revamping of the online editorial division, which saw a period of strong growth and innovation under her leadership.

The digital storytelling techniques that the team developed led to a 200% increase in traffic, passing two million monthly users for the first time in its history, and won the M&G a number of awards.

Verashni also worked closely with the events and sales teams, conceptualising and launching new products such as the Voices of Africa blogging site and Women Leader, and co-leading the M&G‘s award-winning Nelson Mandela tribute site.

In 2013, Verashni was appointed associate editor and took on the responsibilities of a senior reporter, gaining a firm understanding of the print side of M&G journalism and covering key political and current affairs stories for the newspaper.

In December last year she left the M&G to work as a media consultant and trainer in various newsrooms, including within the Independent Group and at City Press, specialising in digital journalism, social media and convergence.

Her energy, digital knowledge and passion for media management and good journalism makes her the ideal candidate for the role of editor at the M&G, as does her institutional knowledge of its newsroom, its people and the challenges – and opportunities – facing the publication.


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‘Hard-hitting journalism’
Verashni’s appointment signifies a shift in direction for the M&G – while also going back to its roots.

“Since its incarnation as the Weekly Mail this publication has been known for its hard-hitting investigative journalism and compelling and sometimes audacious storytelling,” said Verashni.

“I believe we need to rekindle that boldness and character, while advancing the complex debates at the centre of our national conversation – which often begin on social media and beg for deeper engagement in the pages of our national titles.”

It has been a tough few months for the publication following retrenchments. In addition there are many challenges facing the M&G in an increasingly uncertain media environment.

The newspaper has experienced a dip in its circulation while shrinking advertising revenues and the rapid movement of audiences to digital platforms without the concomitant advertising and subscription income is an ongoing concern. But as print revenues decline the opportunities within the digital space are constantly multiplying.

The M&G has always set the standard in digital innovation among print titles in the country, and is looking forward to returning to its full prowess within the digital space under Verashni, while positioning itself better for the future and improving circulation.

The M&G‘s chief executive Hoosain Karjieker said he was delighted with Verashni’s appointment. “Verashni has a talent for energizing a team and creating a strong editorial vision,” he said, adding that he was looking forward to the paper asserting a new identity with her input and was excited about her energy being translated onto the pages of the publication.

De Wet’s strong digital background
Phillip also has a strong digital background and has been a journalist for going on two decades. Before joining theM&G in 2012 he was deputy editor of the Daily Maverick news and analysis website, the same title he held at its predecessor magazine Maverick, both of which he also helped create.

He was previously a business writer at the short-lived This Day South Africa newspaper and at the specialist technology website ITWeb. Over the years he has contributed to a wide range of publications during stints as a freelance journalist, and authored a digital book about Nkandla.

Verashni is a recipient of the CNN African Journalism Award, a Standard Bank Sikuvile Award and an Open Society Foundation journalism fellowship. She was selected as one of The Media magazine’s top 40 under 40s in media in 2013 and co-founded a successful social media training company after leaving the M&G.

She has worked closely with and been mentored by several previous editors at the M&G including Ferial Haffajee, Nic Dawes, Chris Roper, Angela Quintal and Moshoeshoe Monare, and looks forward to continuing the rich legacy these editors have bequeathed.

Verashni and Phillip will officially begin in their new roles on October 19 2015. The M&G‘s Shaun de Waal will act as caretaker editor until then.


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