Information round to clock
- Friday 28 September
Afghan election campaigning kicks off amid violence, fraud claims- 13h49
Campaigning for Afghanistan’s long-delayed parliamentary elections kicks off Friday, as a crescendo of deadly violence and claims of widespread fraud fuel debate over whether the vote will go ahead.
More than 2,500 candidates will contest the October 20 poll, which is seen as a test run for next year’s presidential vote and a key milestone ahead of a UN meeting in Geneva where Afghanistan is under pressure to show progress on “democratic processes”.
But preparations for the ballot, which is more than three years late, have been in turmoil for months, despite UN-led efforts to keep Afghan organisers on track.
China restates win-win strategy with Africa- 12h55
China will uphold a win-win strategy through the creation of new frontiers in all fronts to Africa, the Charge d’ Affairs of the Embassy of China in Nigeria, has said.The Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Lin Jing, said in his address in Abuja at the 69th anniversary ceremony of the founding of the People’s Republic of China that significant success had so far been recorded in 2018 that marked the 40th anniversary of the reform which benefitted every Chinese and the world at large.
He noted that since the past four decades, there had been remarkable improvement in the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
- Thursday 27 September
Italy’s populists in first EU budget test- 11h49
Italy’s populist government is set to unveil the outlines of its first budget Thursday, as fears deepen that it could breach EU fiscal rules and worsen the country’s already mammoth debt burden.
All eyes will be on Western Europe’s first anti-establishment leadership to see whether it will defy Brussels — potentially sparking panic on the financial markets — or toe the line.
The coalition, expected to present a revised budget for 2018 and its plans for 2019, has been struggling to find a way to both uphold its electoral promises and reassure investors worried about the health of the eurozone’s third largest economy.
Land discussion document not meant to attack S/Africa’s ruling party – Mbeki- 11h47
South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki Foundation’s internal discussion document on the current land debate in which it accuses the ruling African National Congress of abandoning its historical values of non-racialism must not be misconstrued as an attack on the ANC or its leadership‚ foundation chief executive Max Boqwana has said.The 30-page document‚ leaked from the foundation to the media‚ questioned the ANC’s approach to the land issue‚ saying it marked a shift from the party’s values expressed throughout its 106-year history.
Boqwana said in a statement on Wednesday that the document was an internal discussion document of the foundation‚ which resulted from discussions involving various stakeholders‚ “including the mass democratic movement at home and progressive forces abroad.”
- Wednesday 26 September
DRC: Kabila confirms DRC to hold elections December 23- 17h33
President Joseph Kabila in his address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday confirmed that presidential, legislative and provincial elections will take place on December 23, 2018. To this end, the activities planned in the timetable drawn up by the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) have been respected, and everything would be done to ensure “credible and peaceful” elections, he declared.Kabila also stated his government’s determination to finance the entire electoral process alone, denouncing “the blatant interference of certain governments in matters that are undoubtedly part of the domestic politics of states.”
Kabila also reiterated his government’s demand for the “effective and substantial departure” of UN forces from the DR Congo because of their largely mitigated operational results,” 20 years after their deployment.
He also denounced “the fact that the fauna and flora of countries holding large forest areas only serve as ornaments under the pretext of constituting the lungs of humanity, if not as repairers of the environmental damage caused by northern industries, while at the same time there appears to be no real desire to allocate significant compensation to the populations of the countries concerned despite the commitments made many times, but never kept.”
South Sudan civil war toll estimated at 382,900: study- 17h32
South Sudan’s civil war has caused the deaths of at least 382,900 people — far higher than previous estimates and more than the conflict in Syria, according to a new study.
The statistical research carried out by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine was published Tuesday after being commissioned by the US Institute for Peace in partnership with the US State Department.
Researchers measured both the number of deaths that were a direct result of the violence as well as deaths caused by the increased risk of disease and reduced access to healthcare.
Previous estimates have put the toll in the tens of thousands.
Trump pledges new Middle East peace plan within months- 17h30
US President Donald Trump said Wednesday he would present a two-state peace plan for the Middle East in the coming months, voicing confidence the Palestinians would return to talks despite his unwavering support for Israel.
Speaking before entering talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York, Trump said that it was a “dream” of his to bring about a peaceful solution to a conflict that has eluded several of his predecessors.
“I would say over the next two to three to four months,” Trump said, referring to his prospective timetable for presenting a plan as he met Netanyahu on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
Trump for the first time said explicitly that he backed a two-state solution that would create an independent Palestine, saying: “That’s what I think works best, that’s my feeling.”
Corbyn makes pitch for power despite Brexit divisions- 17h29
Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Wednesday presented himself as the man to steer Britain through perilous Brexit negotiations as he pushed his case for a general election.
Wrapping up the party’s annual conference in Liverpool, Corbyn sought to play down his own party’s divisions over Brexit and presented a “radical plan” for government.
Corbyn said Labour would support any “sensible deal” for Brexit that Prime Minister Theresa May’s government brings back from Brussels but warned that “if you can’t negotiate that deal then you need to make a way for a party that can”.
Television icon Bill Cosby indicted for sexual assault- 11h08
Television icon Bill Cosby was handcuffed and taken into custody Tuesday to begin a minimum three-year prison sentence for sexually assaulting a woman at his Philadelphia mansion 14 years ago.
The 81-year-old, once beloved by millions as “America’s Dad,” is the first celebrity convicted and sentenced for a sex crime since the downfall of Harvey Weinstein ushered in the #MeToo movement and America’s reckoning with sexual harassment.
Found guilty on April 26 of drugging and molesting Andrea Constand, a former university basketball administrator, Cosby was impassive when Judge Steven O’Neill handed down the sentence Tuesday in Norristown, Pennsylvania.
After the judge rejected a defense request to release Cosby on bail pending an appeal, he was slapped in handcuffs, and led out of the courtroom in his shirt and braces, his tie and blazer removed.
It makes him one of the famous Americans ever sent to prison in a country where fame, wealth and expensive lawyers have tended to help celebrities avoid the full arm of the law in the past.
- Monday 24 September
Back at UN, Trump eyes new N.Korea summit ‘quite soon’- 17h19
President Donald Trump said Monday he expects a second summit with Kim Jong Un to take place “quite soon” as he returned to the United Nations to trumpet a turnaround in ties with the North Korean leader.
Trump used his debut address to the UN General Assembly last year to threaten to “totally destroy” North Korea and belittled Kim as “rocket man”, prompting Kim to respond by calling the US president “mentally deranged”.
But speaking as he arrived at UN headquarters in New York for this year’s gathering, Trump hailed “tremendous progress” to halt Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile tests and said that a year later it was a “much different time.”
“It looks like we’ll have a second summit quite soon,” he told reporters.
Former Botswana leader linked to new party- 17h14
Former Botswana president Ian Khama has been linked to a new party that is allegedly being formed by some disgruntled members of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).Asked to comment on the allegations, Khama on Monday distanced himself from the new party but did not rule out the possibility of joining it should BDP leadership continue to frustrate him.
He told his audience in his home village of Serowe in central Botswana that indeed he was aware of reports that there is a new party in the offing.
Playing his cards to his chest, Khama said while he has heard about the new party, he was not aware who are the real persons behind it, except that they are alleged disgruntled members of the BDP.
Ghana: Black Queens embark on host, win 2018 AWCON- 17h12
The Black Queens of Ghana have intensified efforts to “host and win” the African Women’s Championship (AWCON) in line with its slogan, APA learns here on Monday.The team will be joined by seven other teams from the continent to battle for the coveted African Women’s Championship (AWCON) trophy at stake from November 17, 2018 to December 1, 2018.
The hosts have recently embarked on a local playing tour to the regions as part of preparations for the tournament.
The Daily Graphic on Monday reports that general captain of the Queens, Leticia Zikpi, said that any country that hosts a tournament would dream of winning it.
Kavanaugh sex assault allegations ‘totally political:’ Trump- 17h07
US President Donald Trump on Monday branded sexual assault allegations that threaten to bring down his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh “totally political,” hardening his position ahead of an explosive Senate showdown.
Trump, speaking in New York where he was attending the United Nations annual assembly, threw his full weight behind Kavanaugh whose once straightforward progress to the nation’s highest court has been hit by two bombshell accusations of sexual misconduct from his school and university days.
The scandal is set for a showdown in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday when Kavanaugh, who denies all the allegations, will try to clear his name and Christine Blasey Ford will testify that he sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers.
World Food Programme tackles hunger with innovative ad- 17h05
The UN World Food Programme on Monday took its campaign to fight world hunger to a global cinema audience with an innovative, interactive advertisement.
Billed as a world first, the advertisement that will appear in cinemas in more than 30 countries will feature an on-screen code that movie-goers can scan with their smartphones to interact on Facebook Messenger.
On Messenger, the user can then interact with the character from the advertisement who shares her story and offers a way to donate meals to hungry children through the UN agency’s ShareTheMeal app.
In the short clip, a woman appears at a packed news conference said to be about a breakthrough medical advance.
- Wednesday 19 September
S/Africa moves up human development rankings – UN- 10h34
Brand South Africa has welcomed South Africa’s improvement in the 2018 Human Development Report (HDR), which ranks the country at 113 out of 189 countries on the list, the United Nations has said.The UN Development Programme (UNDP) report, made available to APA on Tuesday, indicates that South Africa’s 2018 ranking is 113 out of 189 countries, with an overall human development score increased to 0.699.
As in previous years, South Africa has seen a steady increase in its Human Development Index (HDI) value since 1990, moving up 7.2% from 0.621 in 1990, to 0.666 in 2014.
EU summit to defuse migrant tension, set Brexit countdown- 10h32
European leaders will gather Wednesday for a summit to put summer tensions over migration behind them and to set up the last stretch of talks for a Brexit deal.
The European Union’s top officials face intense pressure in the coming weeks to seal a divorce deal and a plan for future ties with Britain to avert a chaotic exit in March.
In effect, the Salzburg gathering has become the first in an expected series of three summits in successive months to finalise London and Brussels’ break-up.
Hotspots, not trouble spots: Africa seeks tourism boom- 10h31
Africa draws just five percent of the world’s tourists despite boasting attractions ranging from the Pyramids and Victoria Falls to wildlife safaris and endless strips of pristine beach.
But the continent’s huge potential can be unlocked by eco tourism, cultural experiences, domestic travel and political stability, said experts at an African tourism conference hosted by Airbnb in Cape Town last week.
“When you look at the success stories, it’s those countries who’ve embraced trends,” said the African Tourism Association’s (ATA) managing director Naledi Khabo who spoke at the summit.
Kavanaugh accuser demands FBI probe before testifying- 10h30
President Donald Trump doubled down Tuesday on backing his Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh, as his accuser demanded an FBI probe into her allegations of sexual assault before testifying.
“A full investigation by law enforcement officials will ensure that the crucial facts and witnesses in this matter are assessed in a non-partisan manner, and that the committee is fully informed before conducting any hearing or making any decisions,” lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford said in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Republican-dominated panel had invited both Kavanaugh, 53, and Ford, 51, to testify publicly about her claims he pinned her down while he was drunk when they were teenagers.
Although Ford’s letter does not indicate whether she would attend the hearing without a probe by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, it said that she has faced “vicious harassment and even death threats” since going public with her allegations on Sunday.
Iran film for Oscars stirs debate on home front- 10h29
The Iranian film for next year’s Oscars has stirred controversy at home both over the choice of a downbeat movie and for taking part in the Hollywood spectacle at a time of tense Tehran-Washington ties.
The Farabi Cinema Foundation tasked with selecting Iran’s contestant for the best foreign-language film category has announced its choice of “No Date, No Signature”, which won best director and best actor at the 2017 Venice Film Festival.
- Monday 17 September
DR Congo former warlord says he would back opposition candidate- 15h56
Former warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba said Monday he would be willing to support an opposition candidate in DR Congo’s much-delayed presidential election, which he is banned from standing in.
Bemba, one of six hopefuls excluded by the election commission from the December 23 vote, told magazine Jeune Afrique the country is still “very far” from holding a democratic election.
“But if the elections take place under (democratic) conditions, and if the opposition unites behind one candidate, then yes… I will support that person and I will make them win,” he said.
EU has ‘too many tensions’ ahead of summit, says Austria- 15h52
The European Union is riven with “too many tensions”, Austria’s chancellor said on Monday before hosting EU leaders later this week to try and close a major rift on immigration policy.
Sebastian Kurz, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, said during a trip to Paris that Austria aimed to “support all those that want to be bridge-builders.
Belgium refuses extradition of fugitive Spanish rapper- 15h50
A Belgian court on Monday rejected a Spanish extradition request for rapper Valtonyc, who has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years for allegedly praising terrorism in his songs.
Jose Miguel Arenas Beltran — better known as “Valtonyc” — is one of several Twitter users and rappers who have recently been tried in Spain for glorifying terror or for insulting the king.
“The judge has decided there will be no extradition,” one of the musician’s lawyers, Simon Bekaert, said after a court hearing in the Belgian city Ghent.
7 civilians killed in Yemen air strike: official- 15h46
At least seven civilians have been killed in an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen, an official and rebel media reported Monday.
The strike hit a house in the Huran district of central Yemen’s Bayda province on Sunday, leaving one man, four women and two children dead, an official said.
- Friday 14 September
Serena cartoon fuels debate about ‘racist’ Australia- 12h22
Australia is by most measures one of the world’s most successful multicultural societies, but a controversial cartoon of Serena Williams has rekindled accusations it is also inveterately racist.
Australia should be a poster-child for diversity: One-in-two Australians has a parent born abroad. The economy has been growing for 27 straight years. Crime is barely a worry. Melbourne and Sydney dominate rankings of the best places in the world to live.
Visit any medium-size human habitation on the mind-bendingly large continent and it’s obvious that Australia is the proverbial melting pot — Kiwis, Chinese, Irish, Filipinos, Brits, Vietnamese, Italians, Indians, Greeks and Lebanese at every turn.
Two Koreas open joint liaison office in North- 12h19
North and South Korea opened a joint liaison office in the Northern city of Kaesong on Friday as they knit closer ties ahead of President Moon Jae-in’s visit to Pyongyang next week.
“A new chapter in history is open here today,” South Korean unification minister Cho Myoung-gyon told a ceremony, calling the office “another symbol of peace jointly created by the South and the North”.
The nuclear-armed North’s chief delegate Ri Son Gwon responded in kind, calling it a “substantial fruit nourished by the people of the north and south”.
The two Koreas have sought to pursue joint projects in multiple fields since the April summit between Moon and the North’s leader Kim Jong Un in the Demilitarized Zone that divides the peninsula, even as US efforts to secure concrete progress towards Pyongyang’s denuclearisation have stalled.
Sierra Leone: FA President, Secretary given marching orders- 12h17
Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has ordered for the suspension of the head of the country’s FA, Isha Johansen and her Secretary General, Christopher Kamara, in a move that has provoked a potential fall out with world football governing boy, Fifa.The ACC wants the two officials to cease operation with immediate effect pending the outcome of an ongoing case against them in the high court of Sierra Leone.
A letter dated September 12, which was addressed to the Minister of Sports and a copy of which was seen by APA on Thursday, ordered the ministry to take action as requested. The letter signed by the head of the ACC, Francis Ben Kaifala, said after 7 days if action is not taken by the ministry the ACC would institute abuse of office investigation against her.
Colombian zoo celebrates birth of endangered spider monkey- 12h16
A zoo in Colombia is celebrating the birth of a baby spider monkey, a rare species in danger of extinction.
The monkey was born on Sunday at the San Fe zoological park in Colombia’s second city, Medellin, but so far staff know little about it, Carolina Diaz, the flora and fauna coordinator, told AFP.
“We still don’t know if it’s female or male because we try to leave the baby with its mother in the most natural way possible,” said Diaz.
“Right now, the baby is completely dependent on its mother.”
- Thursday 13 September
Israel army moves in on Palestinian village earmaked for demolition- 11h45
Israeli border police removed caravans on Thursday from near a Bedouin village in the occupied West Bank, which they have orders to demolish despite international criticism, officials said.
The pre-dawn operation on the outskirts of Khan al-Ahmar raised fears among the village’s 200 residents that its demolition would occur soon.
The border police took away five caravans which had been pitched by activists campaigning against the village’s demolition.
- Wednesday 12 September
Cancer in Europe: more cases but fewer deaths- 10h42
The number of cancer cases has continued to rise across Europe, however mortality rates from the disease have fallen, according to the World Health Organization’s “European Health Report”, published Wednesday.
Some 2.4 percent of people living in the 53 countries constituting the WHO’s “Europe region” had cancer in 2014, a 50 percent increase since 2000, although the figure conceals significant disparities in cancer type and region.
In the Nordic countries of Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland, the prevalence of cancer is twice as high at five percent, while it is only 1.8 percent in the 10 post-Soviet states that comprise the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States), which includes Belarus, Georgia and Russia.
The 2013 figure in the European Union was 2.8 percent, with a slightly higher prevalence for women (2.9 percent) than for men (2.7 percent).
Corruption caused collapses in Mexico quake: activists- 10h36
Nearly a year after a 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck Mexico, killing 369 people, activists said Tuesday that corruption and negligence caused the collapse of dozens of buildings.
Cost-cutting by construction companies, combined with graft or incompetence by the authorities responsible for regulating them, amplified the tragedy of the September 19, 2017 quake, said the group Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity.
“Earthquakes don’t kill people. Corruption, official negligence and the gluttony of real estate and construction companies… make the damage caused by earthquakes much greater than it should be,” said Salvador Camarena, research director at the organization.