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Colombian court maintains ban on aerial spraying of glyphosate

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Colombia’s Constitutional Court on Thursday maintained a judicial ban on the aerial spraying of illicit coca crops with glyphosate.

The court said that the government would first have to prove that the weed killer was not harmful to human health and the environment.

However, President Ivan Duque had asked the court to lift the ban, arguing that glyphosate, suspected of being carcinogenic, was a necessary tool in the fight against cocaine trafficking.

The government says glyphosate is the most efficient way to eradicate coca,the plant cocaine is made from.

It added that glyphosate saves lives, because it can replace manual uprooting done by soldiers who would risk stepping on mines planted by drug traffickers.

However, the court maintained the strict conditions it had set earlier, including having to provide scientific proof that glyphosate is safe and having to consult communities in areas where fumigation would take place.

The court said, the government did not need to prove the total absence of any possible harm, because that was practically impossible.

It added that the government has not provided proof of having met the conditions so far. It will be up to the National Drug Council to determine whether it does so.

Justice Minister, Margarita Cabello said the government would seek permission from the council “to use aerial spraying as one more tool in the fight against illegal crops.’’

The cocaine that can be manufactured in that area is worth 2.7 billion dollars on the local market.

The previous government suspended spraying with glyphosate in 2015 after the Constitutional Court said it could carry health risks.

Officials in the south-western department of Narino, which produces the most coca among Colombia’s 32 departments, told dpa glyphosate is not an effective means of dissuading farmers from growing the lucrative plant.

Narino Governor Camilo Romero said in an interview , about 3.8 million litres of glyphosate were sprayed in Narino between 2005 and 2014, but the surface under coca cultivation increased by 4,000 hectares during that time.

“Families that live off illegal crops, after their land is sprayed, move to another territory in order to sow coca again,’’ Romero said.

The governor also disputed claims by the government that glyphosate is cheap adding that eradication with glyphosate costs 72 million pesos (23,000 dollars) per hectare, twice as much as subsidising voluntary crop substitution.

Farmers near the port city of Tumaco told dpa that previous glyphosate sprayings had killed their food crops while coca plants survived.

“Bees died, parakeets died. Coca was the only one of our crops that resisted the glyphosate,” farmer Javier Ortega said.

Foreign

Leader of anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats stands down after losing seat

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 Jo Swinson, who led the anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats’ election campaign, is stepping down as leader after losing her seat in Britain’s general election, a party statement says.

“The Liberal Democrats have this morning confirmed that Ed Davey MP and Baroness Sal Brinton will become the joint acting leaders of the Liberal Democrats,” the statement, carried by the PA news agency and other media, said.

“A leadership election will take place in the new year.”

Brinton praised Swinson, who lost out to an SNP candidate in the Scottish constituency of East Dunbartonshire by 149 votes, for her “honest and fearless leadership.”

Britain’s anti-Brexit Liberal Democrat party named lawmaker Jo Swinson as its new leader in July, as the party looked to translate a surge in voter support for its pro-European Union agenda into influence in a deadlocked parliament.

Her nomination came a day before Britain’s governing Conservatives were expected to name Boris Johnson as leader and prime minister – a man who had pledged to take the country out of the EU on Oct. 31 “do or die”.

But, the future of Brexit hung in the balance, without a clear majority in parliament behind Johnson and deep division over how, when, and even if, Britain should follow through on its 2016 referendum decision to leave the EU.

Swinson, the party’s first female leader, had built her campaign around cementing the Liberal Democrats as the rallying point for those from across the traditional political spectrum who are opposed to Brexit.

“We believe the UK’s best future is as members of the European Union, and that’s why, as your leader, I will do whatever it takes to stop Brexit,” she said. 

YEE

Edited by: Emmanuel Yashim

(NAN)

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Foreign

Snap election delivers strong majority for Johnson’s Conservatives

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The Conservatives have won a landslide majority in the British parliament in a snap election called by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who campaigned on the promise to “get Brexit done.”

Johnson’s party has taken 362 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons, up by 47 on the 2017 election, with just four constituencies left to declare early Friday.

The main opposition Labour party has 203 seats after losing several dozen to the Conservatives in their traditional strongholds in northern and central England, where many voted to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum.

Preliminary vote shares released by the BBC placed the Conservatives at 43.6 per cent, in what would be the strongest result for any British party in decades.

Labour is thought to have garnered 32.3 per cent of Thursday’s vote.

The party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who campaigned on a socialist platform and vowed to hold a second Brexit referendum, said he does not plan to lead Labour into another general election.

Jeremy Corbyn

The Scottish National Party (SNP) boosted its presence in the national parliament with 48 winning candidates declared so far, a 13-seat gain.

It was a disappointing night for the anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats, who failed to boost their seat share following a number of defections from the Conservative party.

The Liberal Democrats currently have 11 seats declared.

Their leader, Jo Swinson, lost in the Scottish constituency of East Dunbartonshire by just 149 votes to an SNP candidate, blaming the outcome on a “wave of nationalism” in Scotland and England.

A party statement carried by the PA news agency and other media later announced that she would step down as party leader.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence, after a majority voted against it in 2014.

“I accept that Boris Johnson after this election has a mandate to take England out of the European Union, but he does not have a mandate to take Scotland out of the European Union,” she told the BBC.

“And I have a mandate, a renewed, refreshed, strengthened mandate to offer people in Scotland the choice of a different future,” Sturgeon said, adding that by Christmas she would formally request the power to hold a second vote.

This puts her on a collision course with Johnson, who has ruled out any fresh independence referendum in Scotland.

“This one-nation Conservative government has been given a powerful mandate to get Brexit done,” he said after winning re-election to his parliamentary seat in west London.

The “historic” election will allow the government to “respect the democratic will of the people,” he said, referring to the 52 per cent who voted for Brexit in 2016.

Turnout was down slightly on the previous general election in 2017 at 67.2 per cent, according to the BBC.

U.S. President Donald Trump congratulated Johnson on his “great WIN” in a tweet.

“Britain and the United States will now be free to strike a massive new Trade Deal after BREXIT. This deal has the potential to be far bigger and more lucrative than any deal that could be made with the EU.”

Johnson, who has promised that Britain will leave the EU on January 31, plans to negotiate liberal post-Brexit trade deals with the United States and other non-EU nations.

YEE

Edited by: Emmanuel Yashim

(NAN)

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UAE to partner Nigeria in strengthening wild life preservation efforts

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) says it is ready to partner Nigeria in strengthening wild preservation efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change.

Dr Fahad AL-Taffaq, United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ambassador to Nigeria, made this known in his address on sideline of his official visit to the National Park headquarters in Abuja.

The visit focused on the rehabilitation of endangered “Scimitar Oryx” breed of Antelope and discussions on ways the UAE could work in close collaboration with the National Park Service on zoo and wild life development programmes.

According to him, the event is a base that the his country will build upon for the benefit of the National Parks and the Ministry of Environment here in Nigeria.

AL-Taffaq said, “To understand the species that we would focus on and identify areas in the National Park or National Game Reserves where these species could be introduced, through discussions we can arrive at fruitful conclusions that will add value to the environment in Nigeria and that is what we hope for.

“I think climate change is a major dimension that we should focus on in Nigeria, especially around the Lake Chad Basin, where a big number of people call home.

“Through initiatives and mutual understanding of situations in the Lake Chad Basin, I believe climate change is something we can work on.

“Along with other economic and humanitarian support efforts, this could be initiated along this line.”

Speaking, Dr Ibrahim Goni, Conservator-General of National Park Services said that the discussions were the right step being taken toward tackling issues with climate change and endangered species in Nigeria.

He said that the discussions would go a long way toward mitigating the effects of climate change “because we have to meet the Nile areas of international conventional treaties on endangered species of flora and fauna that are involved.

“Once Nigeria is cleared, we can bring in certain animals in ways that we need, particularly in the Chad Basin National Park.

“Inventory shows that endangered species were once in Chad Basin National Park, it was because of human activities their populations decimate.

“So reintroducing them is a good idea, just alike we have started with UAE; they have given us launching pad which we intend to build up,” Ibrahim said.

He promised to brief the Minister of Environment on outcome of their discussion for furtherance of the goals.

He, however, appealed to the Federal Government to strengthen capacity in the area of wild life conservation services.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the event featured the presentation of a film “Back to the Wild” and the planting of trees both aimed at sensitising the public to the need to fight climate change.

Edited by: Emmanuel Yashim

(NAN)

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Israel/Nigeria knowledge-sharing on agric-technology will promote economic growth – Envoy

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Mr Shimon Ben-Shoshan, Israeli Ambassador to Nigeria said in Buja that bilateral relations between the two countries through knowledge sharing on agricultural technology and entrepreneurship would promote economic growth.

Ben-Shoshan said this in his address at the closing ceremony of the three-day Israel-Nigeria Agrinnovation seminar 2019 which held in Abuja.

The event, organised by the embassy in collaboration with the Office of the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo began on Dec. 10 and is expected to end on Dec. 13.

Theme of the seminar is “No room for small dreams”.

Ben-Shoshan said, “I am very happy we succeeded to share knowledge on agricultural technology and entrepreneurship within three days via experience of experts, who came all the way from Israel.

“The participants were all happy at the end of the seminar and they are really eager for the next edition of Agrinnovation.

“We hope to take it to a higher level.

“Luckily we chose two best start-ups that made presentations.

“They will go to Israel to participate in the forthcoming March-challenge edition at international level.

“The two start-up winners will be flown to Israel in March 2020 to participate in the second stage of the Agrinnovation globally.”

The two winners, Ms Shiaye Mesharon-Dom, who represented Crept Cash organisation and Mr Temitayo Bamidele, Blum Global Fellow told the Nigeria News Agency that the event  impacted their lives.

“It is very exciting, most especially because we have been admiring agric-technology in Israel for a while.

“We are very excited to have been selected, for this is an opportunity for us to get hands-on training on best practices so we can come and replicate such in Nigeria,” she said.

Bamidele, a co-winner, said that the event witnessed keen contest among agricultural experts.

He said he did not think he was going to win due to the serious nature of the contest in which participants came up with great ideas.

“So I am really happy to have emerged winner and for the opportunity to move on with my research.

“I will come back to Nigeria with a mindset to market products as well as to improve profit and income for small holder farmers,” Bamidele added.

Edited by: Chidinma Agu/Emmanuel Yashim

(NAN)

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U.S. threatens visa restrictions over South Sudan peace process

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The U.S. on Thursday threatened visa restrictions on anyone, who attempts to damage the peace process in South Sudan as Washington upped its pressure on the country to form a unity government and re-evaluates its relationship with the African nation.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington would implement visa restrictions barring those who “undermine or impede the peace process in South Sudan’’ from entering the U.S.

This including, those who violate a ceasefire or UN arms embargo, commit human rights abuses or engage in corruption.

“The people of South Sudan have suffered enough while their leaders delay the implementation of a sustainable peace.

The South Sudanese deserve leaders, who are committed to building consensus and willing to compromise for the greater good,” Pompeo said in a statement, adding that the visa restrictions could also apply to family members.

The announcement comes after Washington earlier this week imposed sanctions on five South Sudan officials it said are responsible for the likely murders of two human rights activists in 2017.

In November, the U.S. recalled its ambassador from South Sudan for consultations as part of a move to re-evaluate the relationship with the African country.

After a devastating five-year civil war, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar signed a peace deal in September 2018 to form the unity government by Nov. 12.

The peace deal was signed under pressure from the UN, the U.S. and regional governments.

But days before the deadline, the two leaders agreed to give themselves an extension of 100 days.

Washington said it was “gravely disappointed” by the delay.

Civil war broke out in oil-producing South Sudan in 2013, less than two years after the country gained independence from Sudan following decades of war.

The conflict has killed an estimated 400,000 people, triggered a famine and created Africa’s biggest refugee crisis since the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Edited by: Fatima Sule/Felix Ajide
(NAN)
(NAN)

 

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