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Italian Senate cuts short break for critical gov’t vote 




The plan comes after the Senate party group leaders failed to agree unanimously on a date on Monday.

Most had favoured Aug. 20.

The Senate must now return from its summer break and vote on a date for the no-confidence vote in a session starting at 6 pm (1600 GMT).

The move was prompted by deputy premier and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini of the far-right League party, who says differences with their coalition partner, the populist Five Star Movement (M5S), have become too great and that snap elections are the best way forward.

The League and M5S have governed together for a little more than a year.

They have found themselves increasingly at odds, with the feuding coming to a boil last week when they voted against each other in parliament on a bill about an expensive high-speed project.

If Conte loses the confidence vote and the government formally comes to an end, the baton passes to President Sergio Mattarella, who must decide on a possible new election or whether to invite another party leader to attempt to form a government.

Salvini’s party, popular for its anti-immigration stance in Italy, came top in May’s European elections and is currently polling above 35 per cent.

That would likely allow him to form a new coalition with other right-wing factions.


(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)


Countries move to ban African elephants for zoos, circuses



Countries move to ban African elephants for zoos, circuses

Daniela Freyer, a Co-founder of the Pro Wildlife Conservation Group, on Monday welcomed the decision taken by a sub-committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

“Catching wild elephant babies from their herds traumatiSes them and is completely unacceptable,” she said on the sidelines of the meeting.

Some 183 countries have signed on to the convention.

According to the decision taken, wild elephants can only be traded to be placed in animal conservation programmes within Africa.

Zimbabwe has been especially active in selling elephant babies to Asia and other regions, according to Freyer.

The ban has yet to be formally adopted at the end of the conference, which will on Aug. 28.

Due to procedural problems, the EU was not able to cast its vote in the committee.

As the bloc opposes to the proposal, it is unclear whether the necessary two-thirds majority will be reached for the ban to be approved.

On Thursday, participants are expecting the conference to decide whether to loosen or restrict trade with elephant tusks. (dpa/NAN)


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S/Africa urges India, Pakistan to resolve differences through peaceful means




The department added that the issue of Jammu and Kashmir should be resolved bilaterally.

The country’s Spokesperson, Clayson Monyela, said South Africa is voicing concern over the escalation of tensions surrounding the developments in Jammu and Kashmir.

Monyela said Pretoria calls on both countries to exercise restraint and refrain from actions that could further exacerbate the situation and potentially destabilise the region.

He further stressed the urgent need for both parties to tone down their rhetoric.

South Africa further appeals that the freedom and rights of citizens be respected in line with international humanitarian and human rights laws.

He added that “given South Africa’s history of a peaceful and democratic transition, we strongly believe that meaningful dialogue and consultations are the only way to sustainably resolve disputes’’.

Monyela, further stressed that the future of Jammu and Kashmir should be settled by peaceful means through inclusive dialogue.

He said demonstrations had taken place in parts of South Africa in relation to Jammu and Kashmir.

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South African woman arrested with heroin worth $2.86m at Delhi airport




A local media reported that the woman, name withheld, arrived at Terminal-3 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) on Saturday from South Africa via Doha by Qatar Airlines flight.

The woman was intercepted by the Customs officers at IGIA, and after checking her personal baggage, the authorities discovered a white coloured powdery substance with granules found to be heroin.

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Oil rises after drone attack on Saudi field




London, Aug. 19, 2019 Crude oil prices rose on Monday following a weekend attack on a Saudi oil facility by Yemeni separatists and as traders looked for signs that Sino-U.S. trade tensions could ease.

Price gains were, however, capped to some degree by an unusually downbeat OPEC report that stoked concerns about growth in oil demand.

Brent crude LCOc1, the international benchmark for oil prices, was up 55 cents, or about 0.9 per cent, at $59.19 a barrel at 0820 GMT.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were up 57 cents, or one per cent, at $55.44 a barrel.

A drone attack by Yemen’s Houthi group on an oilfield in eastern Saudi Arabia on Saturday caused a fire at a gas plant, adding to Middle East tensions, but state-run Saudi Aramco said oil production was not affected.

“The oil market seems to be pricing in against a geopolitical risk premium, following the weekend drone attacks on Saudi Arabia.

“But the premium might not sustain if it does not result in any supply disruptions,’’ said Giovanni Staunovo, an oil analyst for UBS.

Concerns about a recession also limited crude price gains.

Traders were also looking for signs of progress in U.S.-China trade talks.

White House Economic Adviser, Larry Kudlow, said trade deputies from the U.S. and China would speak within 10 days and could advance negotiations over ending a trade battle between the two countries if those talks pan out.

But U.S. President Donald Trump appeared less optimistic than his aides on striking a trade deal with China, saying that while he believed Beijing was ready to come to an agreement, “I’m not ready to make a deal yet’’.

Meanwhile, China’s announcement of key interest rate reforms over the weekend has fuelled expectations of an imminent reduction in corporate borrowing costs in the struggling economy, boosting share prices on Monday.

U.S. energy firms this week increased the number of oil rigs operating for the first time in seven weeks in spite of plans by most producers to cut spending on new drilling this year.

“WTI, in recent weeks, has performed relatively better than Brent… Pipeline start-ups in the U.S. have been supportive for WTI, while the ongoing trade war has had more of an impact on Brent,’’ said Warren Patterson, Head of Commodities Strategy at Dutch bank ING.

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) cut its forecast for global oil demand growth in 2019 by 40,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 1.10 million bpd and indicated the market would be in slight surplus in 2020. (Reuters/NAN)


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Sudan’s ex-president Bashir arrives at corruption trial



Sudan’s ex-president Bashir arrives at corruption trial

Khartoum, Aug. 19, 2019 Sudan’s ousted President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on Monday arrived amid heavy security at the courthouse in the capital Khartoum where he is facing corruption charges, an official said.

Bashir is charged with illicit possession of foreign currency and accepting gifts in an unofficial manner, prosecutor Alaa al-Din Abdallah said in June.

His trial will be a test of how serious authorities are about trying to erase the legacy of his autocratic 30-year rule, marked by widespread violence, economic collapse and the secession of South Sudan.

Bashir was also charged in May with incitement and involvement in the killing of protesters, and prosecutors also want him questioned over suspected money laundering and terrorism financing.

On Saturday, Sudan’s ruling military council, which took over after Bashir was ousted in April, signed a power-sharing agreement with the main opposition coalition, paving the way for a transitional government and eventual elections.

It sets up a sovereign council as the highest authority in the country, but largely delegates’ executive powers to the cabinet of ministers.

The sovereign council was due to be sworn in on Monday.

But the spokesman for the Transitional Military Council, Lt.-Gen. Shams Kabbashi, said the formation of the new ruling body would be delayed by 48 hours on the request of the opposition coalition.

That coalition – the Forces of Freedom and Change – had chosen Aisha Mousa, Siddig Tower, Mohamed Suleiman, Hassan Idris and Taha Ishaq as its representatives on the council, a coalition source said on Sunday.

But the Sudanese Professionals Association, the main protest organiser and one of the most prominent coalition members, said on Monday that Ishaq had declined to take up his post.

According to the power-sharing deal, the opposition coalition is allowed to choose five members and the military another five, with the two sides jointly choosing a civilian as an eleventh member.

On Saturday, Kabbashi said that Military Council Head, Lt.-Gen. Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan; his Deputy, Gen. Mohamed Dagalo and Lt.-Gen. Yasser Al-Atta will serve as three of the five military members.

The military council has yet to announce the other two members, but Kabbashi said on Monday that the eleventh member had been agreed by both sides.

Stability in Sudan, which has been grappling with an economic crisis, is seen as crucial for a volatile region struggling with conflict and insurgencies from the Horn of Africa to Egypt and Libya. (Reuters/NAN)


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