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Austrian far right, conservatives spat over campaign slogan

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Kickl’s Freedom Party (FPOe) apparent supporters voiced their resentment on social media on Thursday, as the advertising campaigns for both politicians feature the sentence `one who speaks our language’.

“It’s shameful to use an old Kickl slogan,’’ a user named Sophia Bauer wrote on the Facebook page of People’s Party (OeVP) chief Kurz.

The coalition between FPOe and OeVP collapsed in May, when a covert video appeared in which leading FPOe politicians talked about potential media and infrastructure deals with a woman posing as a wealthy Russian donor.

Kurz had won the previous parliamentary election in 2017 with anti-immigration policies that were originally the hallmark of the FPOe.

“After copying FPOe themes, Sebastian Kurz’s advertisers have taken to borrowing FPOe slogans,’’ the OeVP’s far-right rival said in a statement.

Kickl came up with the very similar “the only one who speaks our language’’ already in 2015 for the Vienna city election campaign, the FPOe said.

OeVP party manager Karl Nehammer accused the FPOe of gleaning Kurz’s slogan at a printing company that makes campaign posters.

“Apparently the FPOe liked the slogan so much that they wanted to adopt it,’’ he said.

Ahead of the Sept. 29 election, Kurz leads in polls while the far right and social democrats vie for second place. (dpa/)

HLM/IS

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Erdogan says Turkey ready to help Afghanistan eliminate IS

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 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Turkey would give all the necessary support for the eradication of the Islamic State (IS) from Afghanistan.

The outbreak of Daesh virus in Afghanistan must be prevented,” Erdogan said at the eighth ministerial conference of Heart of Asia Istanbul Process in Istanbul, using the Arabic name of the IS.

The Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process was established to provide a platform to discuss regional issues, particularly encouraging security, political, and economic cooperation among Afghanistan and its neighbours.

The process began with the Istanbul conference in Afghanistan in 2011 upon the initiative of Turkey.

To prevent terrorist organisations from finding a favorable environment in the region, the international community needs to boost material and moral investments in Afghanistan, the president said.

Neglecting Afghanistan by focusing on some of the gains achieved in recent years will result in irreparable damage,” he stressed.

In his view, the private sector and regional projects should play a major role in the economic and social development of Afghanistan.

Edited by: Hadiza Mohammed/Emmanuel Yashim
(NAN)

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UN urges Somalia to step up fight against graft

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The UN senior envoy in Somalia on Monday called on the government to strengthen the fight against corruption which is an obstacle to development and public trust.

James Swan, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia acknowledged the country’s progress in strengthening the rule of law and building accountable and transparent institutions.

Corruption is a major obstacle to development,” he said.

It undermines efforts toward state-building, peace and reconciliation. It erodes public trust and weakens state institutions’ ability to deliver to their people,”

Swan said the UN was very encouraged by the recent signing into law of the Bill on the establishment of the anti-corruption commission by President Mohamed Farmajo, and the elaboration of the national anti-corruption strategy.

These are commendable steps forward for Somalia,” he said.

He said a key instrument to sustain, manage and track countries’ fight against corruption was the UN Convention against Corruption, the world’s only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument.

According to Swan, though Somalia is yet to sign and ratify the Convention, the UN welcomes steps that are being taken toward the goal, such as the progress with the anti-corruption commission and the anti-corruption strategy.

He said that the UN system had since established an anti-corruption platform with international financial institutions and other development partners to provide technical and advisory services to Somalia in its efforts to curb corruption.

Swan said that other UN programmes that mobilised resources to support the country’s anti-corruption efforts across the country, centered on institutions and awareness-raising and on the judicial aspects of anti-corruption.

Edited by: Yahaya Isah/Emmanuel Yashim
(NAN)

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Protests erupt as India pushes for religion-based citizenship bill

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Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in India on Monday as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government presented to parliament a controversial bill that would give citizenship to non-Muslim minorities from three neighboring countries.

Home Minister Amit Shah introduced Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in India’s lower house amid raucous debate.

Opposition parties stood against the proposed law that would, for the first time, create a legal pathway to grant Indian nationality on the basis of religion.

The bill was originally introduced in 2016 during the Modi government’s first term but lapsed after protests and an alliance partner’s withdrawal. It proposes to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslims who came to India from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan before 2015.

Oppositions politicians inside parliament, and protesters in several Indian cities, said the bill discriminated against Muslims and violated India’s secular constitution.

Shah and Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which had included the CAB as part of its manifesto in the last general election, insist that it is necessary.

In these three countries, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians, followers of these six religions have been tormented,” Shah said, before the bill was tabled after a vote.

But protesters returned to the streets in Assam – one of India’s remote northeastern states that had previously opposed the bill – and blocked roads, burnt tyres and painted walls with slogans against the new proposal.

Student groups called for dawn-to-dusk shutdown in four districts of the state. Shops, businesses, educational and financial institutions remained shut and public transport stayed off the roads.

We will fight and oppose the bill till the last drop of our blood,” All Assam Students’ Union adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya told Reuters, underlining the region’s resistance against migrants amid fears that tens of thousands of settlers from neighboring Bangladesh would gain citizenship.

In Modi’s home state of Gujarat and the eastern city of Kolkata, hundreds of people staged protests and marched against the proposed law.

In a statement issued on Monday, a group of more than 1,000 Indian scientists and scholars also called for the immediate withdrawal of the bill.

We fear, in particular, that the careful exclusion of Muslims from the ambit of the bill will greatly strain the pluralistic fabric of the country,” the group said.

After going through the lower house of parliament, where BJP has a majority, the bill has to be passed by the upper house, where the ruling party enough votes. Any bill needs to be ratified by both houses of India’s parliament to become law.

“Please save this country from this law and save the home minister,” Asaduddin Owaisi, an opposition MP from the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen party, told parliament.

Edited by: Abdullahi Mohammed/Emmanuel Yashim
(NAN)

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Some 100,000 employees in Finland’s industrial sector begin 3-day strike

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Some 100,000 Finnish employees in the industrial sector on Monday began a three-day strike to back up their salary demands.

The action comprises both workers’ and management unions.

The strike was called by the Finnish Industrial Union, the Trade Union Pro and the “white-collar” Federation of Professional and Managerial Staff YTN.

Also, workers in the building and electrical sectors had announced solidarity strikes, bringing the total number of employees embarking on industrial action to nearly 100,000.

The striking workers include employees in fuel production, pharmaceutical companies, mines, and several technology companies.

The state mediator, Vuokko Piekkala, told Finnish national radio Yle that the views on salary increase between the employee and employer unions were widely apart.

Earlier, the Finnish Industrial Union rejected a mediation proposal by the state mediator, Riku Aalto, President of the Industrial Union, said the proposal was less than the two or three per cent increase obtained by employees in Finland.

Details of mediation proposals are not public in Finland.

Meanwhile, Finnish unions have largely set the increase levels of key competitor countries, mainly Germany, as a benchmark for their demands.

According to German Economic Research Institute, the average nominal increase agreed in 2019 was over three per cent and the metal sector had exceeded that.

Aalto said that the employers were trying to worsen the terms of labour.

The Executive Director for Industrial Relations at Technology Industries of Finland, Minna Helle, said the strike affected the reputation of Finland as an export provider.

She claimed the strike would cause 400-million-euro (or 442-million-U.S.-dollar) losses, while the union said the impact of the strike would be 26 million euros only.

However, the strike would be followed by a weeklong lockout in the Forest Industries concerning mainly sawmills and plywood plants.

The lockout would commence on Dec. 12 and ends on Dec. 18. Lockout is an employer measure. However, During a lockout employees would be excluded from the workplace and would not be paid.

Edited by: Yahaya Isah./Emmanuel Yashim
(NAN)

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EU allows Gabon airlines to resume operations in safety list update

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Airlines

Brussels, Dec. 9, 2019 Airlines based in Gabon could once again fly in and out of the European Union (EU), the bloc’s executive said on Monday as it updated its air safety list.

The list, which is regularly reviewed by EU aviation safety experts, restricts air carriers from operating in Europe if they are certified by a state lacking safety oversight or if there are safety issues detected with the airlines themselves.

“All airlines certified in Gabon have been released from the list following improvements to the aviation safety situation in that country,” the European Commission said in a statement.’

The western African country had been blacklisted by the EU since 2008.

However, Armenia’s Civil Aviation Committee has been put under “heightened scrutiny” due to signs of a decrease in safety oversight, the commission added.

“Today’s decision illustrates our continuous efforts to offer the highest level of safety.

“Not only to European travellers, but to travellers worldwide, because aviation safety knows no border or nationalities,” said EU Transport Commissioner Adina Valean.

A total of 115 airlines now remain on the blacklist.

Six of them are individual carriers with safety concerns while the 109 other airlines are certified by 15 countries – including Afghanistan, Libya, and Sudan – which the EU deems as lacking sufficient aviation safety oversight.

Edited by: Fatima Sule/Emmanuel Yashim
(NAN)

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Taiwan presidential candidates seek omens in ballot lottery

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Incumbent President (Ms) Tsai Ing-wen

Candidates

Taipei, Dec. 9, 2019 Candidates in Taiwan`s upcoming presidential election looked for keys to victory on Monday in a lottery for the order in which they would appear on ballots in the Jan. 11 national elections on the self-ruled island.

More than 17.2 million citizens will be eligible to choose between three presidential and vice-presidential tickets as well as elect the next 113-seat national legislature.

The tickets include incumbent President (Ms) Tsai Ing-wen and former Premier Lai Ching-te for the governing centrist Democratic Progressive Party (DPP); Kaohsiung City Mayor Han Kuo-yu and ex-Premier Chang Shan-cheng for the right-wing Kuomintang (KMT).

Former Premier Lai Ching-te

Others are former KMT Secretary-General James Soong and United Communications Corp chairwoman Sandra Yu for the conservative People First Party (PFP)

In a ceremony at the Central Election Commission in Taipei, PFP Secretary-General Lee Hung-chun picked a paper lot marked with “1,” Han pulled out “2” and Lai chose “3.”

The PFP`s Lee told supporters outside the CEC building that “number one” meant that Soong, who is making his fourth presidential run, would stand above the other two camps and “put the people first.”

Han told boisterous backers that “the two of us will run hand in hand with one heart” and “will bring security to the nation and money to the people.”

Lai said “3” signaled to voters that they should cast “three ballots to safeguard Taiwan” by voting for the DPP presidential ticket and for DPP candidates in single-seat districts and the at-large party lists.

Officially called the Republic of China (ROC), Taiwan has had a separate government since Chinese Nationalists fled there in 1949 after losing a civil war to the Communists in China.

Beijing considers the self-governing democracy part of its territory.

Edited by: Fatima Sule/Emmanuel Yashim
(NAN)

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EU Commission probes German casinos’ special tax treatment

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Tax

Brussels, Dec. 9, 2019 The European Commission has opened an investigation into special tax rules that apply to German casino operators, it said on Monday, after receiving complaints from competitors arguing that these constitute an unfair benefit.

German public casino operators do not have to pay regular taxes such as corporate, income and trade taxes, but are instead subject to a special tax regime, according to the commission.

It said it has received “several complaints” from companies in the gambling sector relating to aspects of this special tax regime, as well as an alleged guarantee ensuring that public casino operators remain profitable.

The investigation aims at clarifying whether public casinos are receiving an unjustified economic advantage, the commission added.

It acts as the EU competition watchdog.

In a separate inquiry, the commission will also follow up on complaints relating to public casino operators in the German state of North Rhine Westphalia, it said.

According to the complaints, the casino operators in question benefited from annual loss compensation payments as well as a capital injection in 2015 by the state of North Rhine Westphalia, giving them an undue advantage.

Edited by: Fatima Sule/Ali Baba-Inuwa
(NAN)

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Russia gives citizenship to 125,000 people from Ukraine

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Russia has given citizenship to 125,000 people from rebel-held parts of eastern Ukraine over the past seven months, Russia’s interior minister on Monday said.

More than 160,000 applications have been received by centres in the Rostov region (which borders Ukraine),” Vladimir Kolokoltsev said in comments released by his office.

Citizenship has already been granted to 125,000 applicants,” he said as Russian President Vladimir Putin was set to meet Ukraine’s leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, for peace talks in Paris.

Putin signed a law in April to expedite procedures to grant citizenship to residents of war-torn eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

Edited by: Fatima Sule/Donald Ugwu
(NAN)

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S. Africa calls for robust multilateral response to climate change

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Climate

Cape Town, Dec. 9, 2019 South Africa on Monday called for a robust multilateral response to climate change in a way that would assist African and other developing countries to adapt to the associated loss and damage.

The Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy said this before leaving for Madrid, Spain to attend the ongoing Climate Change Conference under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Developing countries must secure the finance, technology and other support they require to combat climate change and to transition their economies to more sustainable development pathways, Creecy said.

She recently assumed the Presidency of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) and, in this capacity, has a mandate to advance Africa’s shared priorities.

For Africa and all UN member states, the impacts of climate change are real and most felt by the poor and vulnerable groups in society, the minister said.

According to Creecy, over the past year, every sub-region of Africa has experienced weather events that have caused considerable loss of life and destruction.

South Africa, for example, is experiencing unprecedented increases in the frequency and intensity of heatwaves, bush fires, and droughts, which are placing a tremendous burden on its stressed water resources, said Creecy.

“Given this reality, it is imperative for South Africa to contribute to securing a robust multilateral response to climate change,” the minister said.

The Madrid conference’s priority task is to finalise the implementation guidelines for the Paris Agreement, which becomes fully operational in 2020.

This includes, in particular, reaching an agreement on a market mechanism to replace the current Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol.

Creecy said market mechanisms need to incentivize climate action to achieve the global goal of the Paris Agreement.

“The new market must benefit Africa and help finance our adaptation efforts,” Creecy said.

Africa also requires the Madrid conference to recognise the special needs and circumstances of African countries and to advance work towards achieving the Paris Agreement’s global goal on adaptation, review the work of the Warsaw Mechanism on Loss and Damage and the Gender Action Plan, Creecy said.

The conference comes at a pivotal moment where science is sending a clear message that the world faces a climate emergency and that everybody needs to act with a renewed sense of urgency, said the minister.

South Africa is fully committed to contributing to the success of the conference, she said.

The Climate Change Conference started on Dec. 2 in Spain and will end on Dec. 13.

Edited by: Fatima Sule/Emmanuel Yashim
(NAN)

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