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France to sustain partnership with Nigeria on climate change, environmental protection

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France has pledged to sustain partnership with Nigeria on climate change and environmental protection in line with Paris agreement.

Mr Helois Ellien, Cooperation Attache, Embassy of France to Nigeria, made this known while briefing Journalists at the documentary film screening to commemorate the 2019 World Environment Day (WED) in Abuja.

The documentary entitled: “Once Upon a Forest” was organised by the French Embassy to highlight the importance of an ecosystem which currently exists in the southern part of Nigeria.

Ellien said that the day had always been marked globally since 1972, therefore the documentary about the earth forest to showcase challenges of environment and chat the way forward.

“Environmental challenge is huge not only in Nigeria but all over the world; we need to tackle issues about climate change and preservation of flora and fauna all around the world.

“There are lots of hot spots on biodiversity in Nigeria; France is only trying to give a hand at every level to support environmental protection, following Paris agreement.

“For few years now we dwelt on tackling climate change and efforts to fight the climate change, France is also looking for partnership civil society organisations on protection of the environment.

“We have several agreement and partnership with civil society in Nigeria; we are working in Yankari Game Reserves and also in Cross River State to preserve nature there.

“In all conservation programmes we are supporting there is a cross transversal way in tackling environmental issues that everyone is facing, particularly in Nigeria,” he said.

He further said that plans were ongoing to partner with relevant civil society organisations towards designing projects that would ensure that environmental issues were taken into consideration.

He also promised to renew partnership with Yankari Game Reserve, Bauchi and also establish video programme on the French Embassy’s website to create more awareness on issues affecting environment.

According to him, there is a lot of cooperation between France and Nigeria in awareness creation to enhance people’s knowledge about global issues on environment.

“It is a step-by-step, balancing and sustaining awareness is key for preserving nature and environment.

“We have to preserve this treasure which not everybody has, it is so important not only for the future, but also to develop respect for what we have,” Ellien added.

The WED on the theme, “Beat Air Pollution” is often celebrated on June 5, of every year as the United Nations vehicle for encouraging awareness and action for protection of environment.

Edited by Julius Toba-Jegede

Foreign

Rights group urges Myanmar, Bangladesh to stop Rohingya repatriation

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Repatriation

“Myanmar has yet to address the systematic persecution and violence against the Rohingya, so refugees have every reason to fear for their safety if they return,’’ Meenakshi Ganguly, the group’s South Asia director, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Rohingya have long been denied citizenship and freedom of movement in Myanmar and starting in 2017, more than 740,000 were expelled by the military in a campaign that UN investigators have said was genocidal.

More than 100,000 Rohingya, who remain in Myanmar, are confined to open-air detention camps.

The HRW statement quotes one refugee as saying: “We do not want to go back to Myanmar, where so many of our loved ones did not even get a funeral and ended up in mass graves after they were killed’’.

Dozens of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh held a protest on Tuesday demanding to return only with guarantees of safety and citizenship.

The current repatriation plan follows an earlier attempt by Myanmar and Bangladesh to repatriate more than 2,000 Rohingya refugees in November 2018.

Repatriation failed after the two governments neglected to consult with the UN and refugees themselves.

Many of the refugees on the list went into hiding.

“Bangladesh has been generous with the Rohingya – though conditions in the camps have been difficult – no refugee should feel compelled to return to a place that isn’t safe,’’ Ganguly said. (Reuters/NAN)

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China threatens sanctions over U.S. arms sales to Taiwan

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Sanctions

China “resolutely opposes” the arms sales and has lodged “solemn protests” to the U.S., said a statement on the Foreign Ministry’s WeChat account.

”China will take all necessary measures to safeguard its own interests including imposing sanctions against U.S. companies involved in the arms sales to Taiwan,” the ministry said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, urged the U.S. to stop the arms sales and end military contact with Taiwan.

The U.S. government has approved the possible eight billion dollars (6.6 billion euros) deal involving 66 aircraft, the biggest in decades.

The potential sale comes amid ongoing tensions between Washington and Beijing, notably over trade.

China regards Taiwan as part of its territory which should be reunited with the mainland, by force if necessary.

It has regularly criticised U.S. arms deals with Taiwan including the current one, which has been widely discussed.

The U.S. Defence Security Cooperation Agency announced the deal on Tuesday in an official notification to Congress.

In a statement, it said that the deal was for 66 F-16 fighter aircraft, 75 General Electric engines and other systems.

The sale was in U.S. national interests and would help improve Taiwan’s security, it added.

Quoted by Chinese state media, Mr Geng said the sale was a violation of international law and international relations, as well as the One China policy – under which the U.S. recognises and has only formal ties with China and not Taiwan. (dpa/NAN)

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Veteran general Burhan sworn in as Sudan’s new leader

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Veteran general Burhan sworn in as Sudan’s new leader

Sudan

Khartoum, Aug. 21, 2019 (dpa/NAN) Military Lt.-Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan has been sworn in as Sudan’s new leader, state news agency SUNA said on Wednesday.

The swearing-in came hours after the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the country’s pro-democracy opposition movement formed an 11-member sovereign council to lead the country through a three-year transitional period towards civilian rule.

Burhan, who chaired the TMC after former president Omar al-Bashir was ousted in an April military coup, has a long-standing military career, with positions as former commander of Sudan’s ground forces and inspector general of the army.

Born in 1960, Burhan will lead the Sovereign Council, made up of six civilians and five TMC officers, for the next 21 months.

A civilian will take over from Burhan for the remaining 18 months until 2022, when democratic elections are due.

A prime minister and the remaining members of the Sovereign Council are expected to be sworn in later in the day.

A spokesman for the TMC announced the names of the members of the council in a televised address late Tuesday.

The council was formed after a power-sharing deal was signed between the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) and the military on Aug. 17, regulating how power is divided.

The deal gives the pro-democracy movement two-thirds of the seats in Sudan’s Legislative Council and the power to select the prime minister.

The military council will have the power to choose the interior and defence ministers.

The interim government follows months of massive pro-democracy demonstrations in Sudan.

The protests initially led to the ousting of al-Bashir, who had ruled the country in north-eastern Africa for three decades with an iron fist.

Protesters continued to call for civilian rule in the wake of his replacement by the TMC. (dpa/NAN)

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Displaying apartheid flag constitutes hate speech, says South African court

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The old flag, which was replaced in 1994, when South Africa became a democracy with Nelson Mandela as its president, can now only be displayed for historical, educational or artistic purposes, Judge Phineas Mojapelo said in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg.

Mojapelo was granting an application from the Nelson Mandela Foundation, which had argued the gratuitous display of the orange, white and blue apartheid flag was an indicator of racial superiority and oppression.

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(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)

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Taiwan says U.S. arms sale a vote of confidence in bilateral relations

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Arms

“The $8 billion deal is a vote of confidence in Taiwan-U.S. relations and will help us maintain cross-strait peace and defend our democracy,’’ Taiwan’s Foreign Minister, Joseph Wu, said on Twitter.

“The decision made by the Trump Administration means a lot to regional stability,’’ Presidential Office spokesman, Ting Yun-Kung, said on Wednesday, citing recent frequent military exercises carried out by China in areas near Taiwan.

The planned U.S. arms sale to Taiwan could anger China, adding to the tensions between the world’s two largest economies.

On Monday, a day after U.S. President Donald Trump confirmed the proposed sale, Ma Xiaoguang, the spokesperson for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, denounced the deal, urging the U.S. government to cancel it.

Taiwan on Wednesday said the planned sale helps improve the self-governing democracy’s air defence capabilities.

“This major arms sale will significantly boost Taiwan’s confidence to pursue the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,’’ Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Joanne Ou, said in a statement.

According to U.S. Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), the State Department on Tuesday notified the Congress of the proposed deal, which includes the sale of 66 F-16 fighter jets and related equipment.

“This proposed sale will contribute to the recipient’s capability to provide for the defence of its airspace, regional security and interoperability with the U.S.,’’ the DSCA statement said. (dpa/NAN)

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