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Angolan oil will peak in 2016, IMF says – International | IOL Business | IOL.co.za

Angolan oil will peak in 2016, IMF says – International | IOL Business | IOL.co.za.

March 25 2014 at 08:00am
By Colin McClelland


br angolaBloomberg

A construction crane stands above a building site near the shoreline in Luanda. Angola’s crude oil output will decline from 2017 unless new fields are found, so it must make stronger efforts to diversify its sources of revenue, the International Monetary Fund advises. Photo: Bloomberg

Luanda – Economic growth in Angola will slow in 2017 as oil output declines, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The economy is forecast to expand by 5.3 percent this year, and by 5.5 percent and 5.9 percent in the following two years before the rate slows to 3.3 percent in 2017, IMF figures show.

Crude oil production in Africa’s second-largest producer is set to decline to 1.77 million barrels a day in 2017 from 1.9 million barrels a day in 2016.

“This reflects the expectation that oil production from currently known reserves will peak and then start to fall,” Nicholas Staines, the IMF representative in Angola, said last week.

“The timing of this turnaround could well be pushed back as new reserves are discovered.”

Angola produced 1.69 million barrels of oil a day last month. The country is attempting to diversify its economy away from oil, which accounts for about 80 percent of tax revenue and 45 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

The government is targeting $4 billion (R43.5bn) a year in foreign investment in areas including mining, agriculture, transport and hotels, but so far it has attracted about half of that amount.

The IMF forecasts economic growth of 6.4 percent this year in non-oil industries as the country boosts spending on infrastructure.

Growth excluding crude oil may reach 6.7 percent next year, followed by 7.1 percent in 2016 and 7.7 percent the year after, IMF data show.

The diversification effort “is behind expectations and a stronger effort is clearly needed”, Staines said.

“This is particularly important in the context of higher government spending, softening oil revenue projections and, now, fiscal deficits.”

IMF forecasts for non-oil growth were lower than the government’s because the bank saw potential difficulties in large capital projects and was more cautious about their spillover effects, Staines said.

For 2015 to 2017, the government forecasts 10.3 percent non-oil growth in GDP, while the IMF projects 7.2 percent.

The government had a budget deficit of 1.5 percent of GDP last year – the first since 2009, when the IMF began a $1.4bn loan programme to help Angola weather an oil price drop. This year’s budget deficit is expected to reach 2 percent and the fiscal balance will not be in surplus until 2019, the IMF believes.

The IMF expressed disappointment over the government’s inaccurate reporting of data on domestic arrears during 2010 and accounts payable the following year, which breached the terms of the loan agreement. The fund said it also regretted continued weaknesses in public financial management and called for decisive efforts to address arrears.

Angola “is very committed to address these difficulties” and passed legislation last year to improve arrears accounting and to give more oversight to the finance ministry, Staines said.

Domestic arrears should not have an effect on plans by the government to issue a $1.5bn eurobond in the third quarter.

“The international financial environment is currently difficult and perhaps not the best of times for Angola to consider a eurobond issue,” Staines said. “The government will presumably seek the advice of its capital market advisers to get a sense of the right timing.”

Economic growth probably slowed to 4.1 percent last year from 5.2 percent in 2012 as a drought slowed agricultural expansion, the IMF said.

“Addressing capital infrastructure constraints in transport, water and electricity will go a long way and should have positive spillover effects on the economy,” Staines said. “But the full benefits will require a much stronger effort to address the structural constraints summarised in Angola’s very low ranking in the World Bank’s cost of doing business index.”

The index ranks Angola 179th of 189 countries benchmarked to June last year.

Angola is estimated to have recoverable oil reserves of 12.7 billion barrels, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy published in June.

Drillers including Statoil and ConocoPhillips are testing the Atlantic mirror theory and plan to spend $3bn on more than 32 wells this year in Angola’s largest exploration campaign.

They are searching for structures similar to those off Brazil, where Petrobras is developing the western hemisphere’s largest oil find in three decades, estimated at 20 billion barrels. – Bloomberg

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Ebola Virus Outbreak Spreads To Canada | Zero Hedge

Ebola Virus Outbreak Spreads To Canada | Zero Hedge.

The last few days has seen a sudden jump in the news headlines about one of the deadliest viruses known to man. Ebola haemorrhagic fever has prung up in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone but now, as BBC reports, a man is in hospital in Canada with symptoms of a haemorrhagic fever resembling the Ebola virus, a health official has said.

“Ebola” is in the news again…

  • *GUINEA CONFIRMS EBOLA AS SOURCE OF EPIDEMIC, AFP REPORTS
  • *LIBERIA SAYS FIVE DIE OF EBOLA IN NORTH OF COUNTRY
  • *TWO SUSPECTED CASES OF EBOLA IN SIERRA LEONE, AFP SAYS

 

 

And that is definitley not a good thing…

As The BBC reports, Canada is now the latest nation to have a potential case…

The man had recently returned from Liberia in the west African region, currently suffering a deadly outbreak of an unidentified haemorrhagic fever.

He is in isolation in critical condition in Saskatoon, the largest city in Saskatchewan province.

Dr Denise Werker, the province’s deputy chief medical officer, declined to say how long the man had been in Africa but said he only fell ill after returning to Canada.

She said that was in line with the profile of common deadly haemorrhagic fever viruses Lassa fever and Ebola, which have an incubation period of up to 21 days.

She said the people most at risk were healthcare workers who do not protect themselves from contact with the patient’s bodily secretions.

“There is no risk to the general public,” she said. “We recognise that there is going to be a fair amount of concern and that is why we wanted to go public with this as soon as possible.”

A virus resembling Ebola has struck in Guinea, with cases also reported in Liberia.

As many as 61 people have died of the disease in the remote forests of southern Guinea.

Navy Seals Take Over North-Korea-Flagged Oil Tanker In Libya | Zero Hedge

Navy Seals Take Over North-Korea-Flagged Oil Tanker In Libya | Zero Hedge.

Tensions around the North-Korea-flagged tanker that “illegally” obtained oil from rebels who hold a Libyan port have been escalating for the last week. However, The BBC reports that overnight US forces, at the request of both the Libyan and Cypriot governments, boarded and took control of the commercial tanker Morning Glory. The raid by Navy Seals took place in international waters south of Cyprus, said spokesman Rear Adm John Kirby. The US Seals operated from the USS Roosevelt, a guided missile destroyer, which “provided helicopter support and served as a command and control and support platform” and are now in “full control” of the vessell carrying 234,000 barrels of illicity-obtained oil. The message is clear – don’t mess with the Petrodollar.

Via AFP,

US Navy Seals boarded and took control of an oil tanker that had loaded crude at a rebel-held port in eastern Libya and escaped to sea, the Pentagon said Monday.

No one was hurt “when US forces, at the request of both the Libyan and Cypriot governments, boarded and took control of the commercial tanker Morning Glory, a stateless vessel seized earlier this month by three armed Libyans,” Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement.

The operation was approved by President Barack Obama and was conducted in the early hours of Monday (just after 0200 GMT) “in international waters southeast of Cyprus”.

The Morning Glory’s evasion of a naval blockade at the eastern port of Sidra prompted Libya’s parliament to sack Prime Minister Ali Zeidan last week.

Adm Kirby said the operation had been authorised by President Barack Obama and that no-one had been hurt.

“The Morning Glory is carrying a cargo of oil owned by the Libyan government National Oil Company. The ship and its cargo were illicitly obtained,” he said, adding that it would now be returned to a Libyan port.

North Korean?

The Morning Glory originally was a North Korean-flagged ship, but Pyongyang on Wednesday denied any responsibility.

The ship was operated by an Egypt-based company that was allowed to temporarily use the North Korean flag under a contract with Pyongyang, North Korean state news agency KCNA said.

Pyongyang had “cancelled and deleted” the ship’s North Korean registry, as it violated its law “on the registry of ships and the contract that prohibited it from transporting contraband cargo”.

Next Steps..

The loading of the Morning Glory and its escape to sea marked a major escalation in the struggle between Tripoli and the rebels, and triggered the ouster Tuesday of liberal-backed premier Ali Zeidan, who fled the country

the US move is likely to act as a deterrent to any further attempts to illicitly buy oil from the rebel-controlled ports.

Don’t mess with the Petrodollar…

Navy Seals Take Over North-Korea-Flagged Oil Tanker In Libya | Zero Hedge

Navy Seals Take Over North-Korea-Flagged Oil Tanker In Libya | Zero Hedge.

Tensions around the North-Korea-flagged tanker that “illegally” obtained oil from rebels who hold a Libyan port have been escalating for the last week. However, The BBC reports that overnight US forces, at the request of both the Libyan and Cypriot governments, boarded and took control of the commercial tanker Morning Glory. The raid by Navy Seals took place in international waters south of Cyprus, said spokesman Rear Adm John Kirby. The US Seals operated from the USS Roosevelt, a guided missile destroyer, which “provided helicopter support and served as a command and control and support platform” and are now in “full control” of the vessell carrying 234,000 barrels of illicity-obtained oil. The message is clear – don’t mess with the Petrodollar.

Via AFP,

US Navy Seals boarded and took control of an oil tanker that had loaded crude at a rebel-held port in eastern Libya and escaped to sea, the Pentagon said Monday.

No one was hurt “when US forces, at the request of both the Libyan and Cypriot governments, boarded and took control of the commercial tanker Morning Glory, a stateless vessel seized earlier this month by three armed Libyans,” Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement.

The operation was approved by President Barack Obama and was conducted in the early hours of Monday (just after 0200 GMT) “in international waters southeast of Cyprus”.

The Morning Glory’s evasion of a naval blockade at the eastern port of Sidra prompted Libya’s parliament to sack Prime Minister Ali Zeidan last week.

Adm Kirby said the operation had been authorised by President Barack Obama and that no-one had been hurt.

“The Morning Glory is carrying a cargo of oil owned by the Libyan government National Oil Company. The ship and its cargo were illicitly obtained,” he said, adding that it would now be returned to a Libyan port.

North Korean?

The Morning Glory originally was a North Korean-flagged ship, but Pyongyang on Wednesday denied any responsibility.

The ship was operated by an Egypt-based company that was allowed to temporarily use the North Korean flag under a contract with Pyongyang, North Korean state news agency KCNA said.

Pyongyang had “cancelled and deleted” the ship’s North Korean registry, as it violated its law “on the registry of ships and the contract that prohibited it from transporting contraband cargo”.

Next Steps..

The loading of the Morning Glory and its escape to sea marked a major escalation in the struggle between Tripoli and the rebels, and triggered the ouster Tuesday of liberal-backed premier Ali Zeidan, who fled the country

the US move is likely to act as a deterrent to any further attempts to illicitly buy oil from the rebel-controlled ports.

Don’t mess with the Petrodollar…

North Korean Tanker Burning In Libya After Navy Opens Fire | Zero Hedge

North Korean Tanker Burning In Libya After Navy Opens Fire | Zero Hedge.

The Libyan defense minister took over duties as prime minister this morning as the Libyan parliament voted “no confidence” in the current prime minister after a North-Korea-flagged tanker broke the “blockade” from a rebel-held port. The ouster of the PM appears to have bolstered confidence in the anti-rebel oil-stealing that we discussed yesterday, and resulted in

  • *LIBYA NAVY FIRE HIT TANKER AS IT FLED TO INTL WATERS: SKYNEWS

The oil tanker – The Morning Glory – had at least 234,000 barrels of oil aboard but is now “under complete control” of Libyan government authorities. However, as Bloomberg reports, the North Korean tanker is said to be on fire after being hit by a missile.

It’s been a busy morning for Libya:

The rebels started it..

  • *EAST LIBYA REBELS ANNOUNCE START OF OIL EXPORTS, NABAA TV SAYS
  • *LIBYA REBELS SEEK TO SELL OIL FROM ALL PORTS THEY CONTROL: TV

And for a while they were right…

  • *OIL TANKER ESCAPES LIBYA NAVY INTO INTERNATIONAL WATERS:JAZEERA
  • *LIBYAN MP HUWAILI SAYS TANKER ESCAPED TO INTL WATERS: NABAA TV
  • *LIBYA’S HUWAILI SAYS GOVT TO ASK INTERPOL TO TRACK TANKER

Which led to:

  • *LIBYAN PARLIAMENT OUSTS PRIME MINISTER, AP SAYS
  • *LIBYAN DEFENSE MINISTER WILL ASSUME ROLE OF PM FOR 15 DAYS

 

Via BBC,

Libya’s parliament has dismissed PM Ali Zeidan after a tanker laden with oil from a rebel-held port reportedly broke through a naval blockade.

 

MPs called a vote of confidence in Mr Zeidan amid reports that the North Korean-flagged ship had escaped to sea.

 

Defence Minister Abdullah al-Thinni was named interim prime minister.

 

Earlier, Libyan officials had said they had “complete control” of the tanker as it tried to leave Sidra port. However, rebel fighters rejected the assertion.

 

Separatist militants have occupied three major eastern ports since August.

 

They are seeking a greater share of the country’s oil revenues, as well as autonomy for eastern Libya.

 

The oil tanker – named Morning Glory – was reported to have taken on at least 234,000 barrels of crude oil at the Sidra terminal.

 

It was the first vessel to have loaded oil from a rebel-held port since the separatist revolt against the authorities in Tripoli erupted in July.

which resulted in:

  • *LIBYA NAVY FIRE HIT TANKER AS IT FLED TO INTL WATERS: SKYNEWS

And, as the Libya Herald reports,

The North Korean-flagged oil tanker that left Libya this morning after loading an illegal shipment of oil is said to be on fire after being hit by a missile.

 

Part of the ship is burning because it was shot at,” General National Congress (GNC) member Abdullah El-Kabier told the Libya Herald. He was unable to give more details or identify who had fired on the tanker.

We suspect Mr. Kim will be displeased (or is this a way to distract from Ukraine and get the North Koreans to rattle some sabres?)

North Korean Tanker Burning In Libya After Navy Opens Fire | Zero Hedge

North Korean Tanker Burning In Libya After Navy Opens Fire | Zero Hedge.

The Libyan defense minister took over duties as prime minister this morning as the Libyan parliament voted “no confidence” in the current prime minister after a North-Korea-flagged tanker broke the “blockade” from a rebel-held port. The ouster of the PM appears to have bolstered confidence in the anti-rebel oil-stealing that we discussed yesterday, and resulted in

  • *LIBYA NAVY FIRE HIT TANKER AS IT FLED TO INTL WATERS: SKYNEWS

The oil tanker – The Morning Glory – had at least 234,000 barrels of oil aboard but is now “under complete control” of Libyan government authorities. However, as Bloomberg reports, the North Korean tanker is said to be on fire after being hit by a missile.

It’s been a busy morning for Libya:

The rebels started it..

  • *EAST LIBYA REBELS ANNOUNCE START OF OIL EXPORTS, NABAA TV SAYS
  • *LIBYA REBELS SEEK TO SELL OIL FROM ALL PORTS THEY CONTROL: TV

And for a while they were right…

  • *OIL TANKER ESCAPES LIBYA NAVY INTO INTERNATIONAL WATERS:JAZEERA
  • *LIBYAN MP HUWAILI SAYS TANKER ESCAPED TO INTL WATERS: NABAA TV
  • *LIBYA’S HUWAILI SAYS GOVT TO ASK INTERPOL TO TRACK TANKER

Which led to:

  • *LIBYAN PARLIAMENT OUSTS PRIME MINISTER, AP SAYS
  • *LIBYAN DEFENSE MINISTER WILL ASSUME ROLE OF PM FOR 15 DAYS

 

Via BBC,

Libya’s parliament has dismissed PM Ali Zeidan after a tanker laden with oil from a rebel-held port reportedly broke through a naval blockade.

 

MPs called a vote of confidence in Mr Zeidan amid reports that the North Korean-flagged ship had escaped to sea.

 

Defence Minister Abdullah al-Thinni was named interim prime minister.

 

Earlier, Libyan officials had said they had “complete control” of the tanker as it tried to leave Sidra port. However, rebel fighters rejected the assertion.

 

Separatist militants have occupied three major eastern ports since August.

 

They are seeking a greater share of the country’s oil revenues, as well as autonomy for eastern Libya.

 

The oil tanker – named Morning Glory – was reported to have taken on at least 234,000 barrels of crude oil at the Sidra terminal.

 

It was the first vessel to have loaded oil from a rebel-held port since the separatist revolt against the authorities in Tripoli erupted in July.

which resulted in:

  • *LIBYA NAVY FIRE HIT TANKER AS IT FLED TO INTL WATERS: SKYNEWS

And, as the Libya Herald reports,

The North Korean-flagged oil tanker that left Libya this morning after loading an illegal shipment of oil is said to be on fire after being hit by a missile.

 

Part of the ship is burning because it was shot at,” General National Congress (GNC) member Abdullah El-Kabier told the Libya Herald. He was unable to give more details or identify who had fired on the tanker.

We suspect Mr. Kim will be displeased (or is this a way to distract from Ukraine and get the North Koreans to rattle some sabres?)

Meanwhile In The “Democratic” Republic Of Congo… | Zero Hedge

Meanwhile In The “Democratic” Republic Of Congo… | Zero Hedge.

It seems the Democratic Republic of Congo has been learning its diplomacy from other nations…

  • *DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO POLICE FIRE ON OPPOSITION RALLY
  • *CONGO POLICE FIRED TEAR GAS, BULLETS AT RALLY IN BUKAVU
  • *CONGO POLICE BLOCKED OPPOSITION LEADER KAMERHE AT RALLY
  • *CONGO OPPOSITION SAY SEVERAL WOUNDED AFTER SHOTS FIRED

Of course, we will have to see if China (who has been building interest in Africa), Russia, the US, or France (who seem to like to stir things up in Africa) get involved?

UAE, Egypt plotting coup in Libya, say Libyan RoR rebels | StratRisks

UAE, Egypt plotting coup in Libya, say Libyan RoR rebels | StratRisks.

Source: WB

Libya Shield

The Libyan “Revolutionaries Operations Room” (ROR) said that it acquired “documented information” regarding plots by the UAE and Egyptian military-led authorities to meddle in Libyan affairs and to abort the Libyan revolution.

According to the Middle East Monitor, in a Facebook statement the ROR claimed that UAE’s security agencies has recently formed two “cells” to circumvent the Libyan revolution and to stop Libyan oil exports.

The statement read: “We received information that UAE’s security apparatus has formed two high level cells. The first aims at overthrowing the new Libyan regime, the Libyan National Congress, and confronting the rise of Islamists. The second cell is a specialized media one based in Amman, Jordan.”

According to the statement, the “media cell” is primarily tasked with disseminating news that would serve the agenda of the “security cell”. Part of its agenda is to distort the image of Islamists, particularly with their rising popularity in Libya, the statement claims.

The ROR claimed that it obtained all information related to the “security cell” in Libya, and that it is led and funded by the UAE. It claimed that the cell has been operating in Libya since January 26, 2013.

“A high level Libyan source told ROR that a group affiliated with Mahmoud Gebril abducted Abu Anas Al-Libi based on a request from the UAE which immediately handed him over to the American CIA.”

The statement claimed that Sheikh Tahnoun Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan leads the security cell, while the members of the cell are counter-revolutionary figures in Libya, including Al-Saadi Al-Ghadhafi who managed to escape from the rebels, and a Libyan close to the Egyptian coup leader Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi.

The ROR affirmed that the “security cell” is based in Abu Dhabi, and convenes regularly with the protection of UAE security.

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Putin backs Sisi to be president of Egypt – Europe – Al Jazeera English

Putin backs Sisi to be president of Egypt – Europe – Al Jazeera English.

Sisi’s Russia visit is seen as a move to reduce Egypt’s reliance on the US [EPA]
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he would support a presidential bid from Egyptian army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, wishing him luck after holding talks in Moscow.”I know that you, Mr defence minister, have decided to run for president  of Egypt,” Putin said, according to Russian news reports.

“It’s a very responsible decision… I wish you luck  both from myself personally and from the Russian people.”

Sisi, who is widely expected to run for Egypt’s top job, has not yet officially declared his candidacy and there was no announcement from the Egyptian government.

We believe your efforts to establish stability in the country are being effective.Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu

Sis and Nabil Fahmy, Egypt’s foreign minister, also held separate talks with Sergei Shoigu and Sergei Lavrov, the Russian defence and foreign ministers.

“We are closely watching the situation in your country. We are interested in Egypt being a strong and stable country,” Shoigu said in his opening remarks at the meeting with Sisi, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.

“In the current situation, it is good to adopt a new Egyptian Constitution in a national referendum … We believe your efforts to establish stability in the country are being effective.”

Shoigu also said Moscow supported Cairo’s efforts to “fight against terrorism”.

“In this regard, we will discuss in some important issues of military and military-technical cooperation, the terms of that and future prospects… We are interested in the development of such cooperation. Cooperation between our countries has deep historical roots,” he said.

Arms deal speculation

Al Jazeera’s Paul Brennan, reporting from Moscow, said that well-informed sources have said a major weapons deal will be signed during the trip.

Russian and Egyptian media carried reports of a $2bn Gulf-funded arms agreement in the making between the countries. The reports said the deal is to be funded mainly by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

If signed, it will underscore the Gulf states’ support for Egypt’s military-backed government.

The visit is also seen as a move to reduce Egypt’s reliance on the United States after relations cooled following the coup against former president Mohamed Morsi and Cairo’s harsh response to protests that followed it.

According to Brennan, Egyptian authorities have said they are not seeking to move away from their relationship with the US, but are instead working to diversify and add to their list of international allies.

Civilian clothes

Sisi made a rare appearance in civilian clothes on his way to Moscow, fuelling speculation he was trying to appear more presidential before announcing a bid for top office. The country’s top military body  recently endorsed his candidacy .

He has become hugely popular among a large segment of Egyptians who see him as the nation’s saviour for ending the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, who many accused of dominating power under Morsi.

Still, a deadly security crackdown on supporters that has left hundreds dead and a subsequent campaign of intimidation and arrests of secular-leaning critics have raised concerns about Sisi’s tolerance for dissent.

The government says it is in a war against terrorism, citing a wave of bombings and suicide attacks that have targeted police and the military, leaving scores dead and wounded.

Fighting Egypt’s crackdown on press freedom – Features – Al Jazeera English

Fighting Egypt’s crackdown on press freedom – Features – Al Jazeera English.

International journalists make a stand in solidarity with imprisoned Al Jazeera staff.

 Last updated: 04 Feb 2014 19:31

Gagged by the flag: East Africa journalists protest against Egypt’s crackdown on journalists [Phil Moore]

Nairobi, Kenya –
 “Journalists are never supposed to become the story,” wrote Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste in a letter that was smuggled out of Tora Prison in Cairo, where he is currently being detained. “Apart from the print reporter’s byline or the broadcaster’s sign-off, we are supposed to remain in the background as witnesses to, or agents for, the news; never as its subject.”

At 10am on February 4 in Greste’s home city, Nairobi, co-workers, rival broadcasters, photographers and journalists made no apology for breaking this rule by staging a peaceful protest in solidarity with him.

Almost a hundred people, many wearing Greste’s face on T-shirts and carrying banners and placards, marched to the Egyptian embassy and planted themselves outside its gates. They stayed there for three hours, overlooked by the baking sun and several divisions of the Kenyan police. Meanwhile, a parallel social media campaign went viraland reached millions. “What if all journalists were gagged?”tweeted Channel Four News’ International Editor, Lindsey Hilsum. Like many, Hilsum posted an accompanyingpicture of her with her mouth taped up.

“The whole worldwide campaign has gone beyond what we had imagined,” said Peter’s brother, Andrew Greste. “Our view is that we have to keep going to continue to build pressure on the Egyptian government until they release them. This is what Peter also wants.”

Egypt’s secret police arrested the award-winning Australian journalist Greste and two of his Egyptian colleagues, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, in Cairo on December 29.

Journalists protest outside Egypt’s embassy in Nairobi

 

“It’s almost 40 days now since their incarceration began,” said Al Jazeera correspondent Mohamed Adow, addressing the media outside the Egyptian embassy in Nairobi. “We believe they’ve done no wrong. They’ve just been doing their work in the best way they could.” The United Nations, international rights bodies, and media personalities have all called on the Egyptian government to release the journalists, Adow said.

Journalism does not equal terrorism

At the embassy gates, broadcaster and head of the regional Foreign Correspondents’ Association, Robyn Kriel, read aloud from an open letter to Greste: “Those of us who are journalists stand as you. ‘We are all Peter Greste’ is one of the slogans we are bearing aloft. Others among us stand here today for the tenets of truth, freedom of the press, and democracy. Journalism does not equal terrorism; you have committed no crime… We respect and applaud your honesty and bravery, and we say, as one, that this is our battle, too.”

Al Jazeera presenters, including Dareen
Abu Ghaida, and journalists around the
world, have taken part in the
#freeAJstaff campaign

The Committee to Protect Journalists confirms that at least ten journalists are currently incarcerated in Egypt. “There’s more likely around twenty to twenty-five actually in prison at the moment, one of the largest crackdowns on journalists we have seen in a long time,” said Tom Rhodes, the organisation’s East Africa representative. Rhodes said that press freedom in Egypt today is in some ways no better, and in some maybe worse, than under longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak, ousted in the 2011 uprising.

Last week, Egyptian prosecutors announced their intention to place criminal charges on 20 people working for the Al Jazeera network. Rhodes said that the CPJ fears that a crackdown on an international media organisation at such an unprecedented level bodes even worse for the treatment of local journalists.

“It’s so tragic, especially when you consider the struggle and the blood, sweat and tears that the Egyptian people undertook to develop these freedoms – such as press freedom,” said Rhodes. “And now that space is being diminished once again. When we’re sitting here fighting for the release of our friend Peter Greste, we’re really sitting here trying to fight for the freedom of the country as well.”

Boniface Mwangi, an award-winning documentary photographer and one of Kenya’s most prolific young activists, turned out in support of his friend and fellow journalist. But like most of the protesters here, he also has a vested interest in fighting for a free press. “So far, this has happened in Egypt. But who knows where Kenya’s going to go? I’m not just here for Peter, I’m here for myself.”

While the inexperienced yet determined picket waited in the driveway of the Egyptian embassy, two representatives from the protest group went inside to meet the deputy ambassador and deliver their open letter to Greste. The deputy ambassador said that the embassy would notify the Egyptian state of their concerns but emphasised that the state cannot intervene in the Egyptian courts – as is the case around the world. Robyn Kriel, chairperson of the Foreign Correspondents’ Association of East Africa, relayed the consulate’s message to the waiting crowds. “We mean business,” she said.

Photographer Phil Moore is shooting a series of photographs depicting members of the press and public gagged by an Egyptian flag. “As journalists, it’s imperative that we have the right to work freely and so when our colleagues are detained, it’s essential that we remind the world what that detention means. In this case, the flag represents the silencing of journalists in Egypt, and I hope that by documenting people’s disdain, these images will in some way help to maintain a spotlight on the Egyptian crackdown.”

According to Al Jazeera’s Mohamed Adow, the network has not yet been supplied with any information by the Egyptian government, and nor have they been formally notified of any charges against Greste and his colleagues.

“If he’s not released, we’ll be back,” was the message left behind by protesters after they packed up their placards. A determined Robyn Kriel concluded: “We are not going to rest until we see Greste.”

Follow Jessica Hatcher on Twitter: @jessiehatcher

Editor’s note: The Egyptian prosecutor has accused Al Jazeera of producing “false news” in the country. We have collated all of the TV reports produced by Al Jazeera teams from the field between July 2013 and the arrest of our journalists. We make no apologies for telling all sides of the story, and we stand by our journalism. Judge for yourself on our special coverage page: Journalism under fire: Where is the “false news”?

To take part in the viral social media campaign, tweet a photo of yourself using the hashtag: #freeAJstaff

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