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EU has received no alternative Brexit proposals, says top official

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 The British government has not made any new Brexit proposals to Brussels, according to the head of the European Parliament, David Sassoli.

“The UK has not proposed any alternatives, anything that is legally credible and workable,” Sassoli said, referring to Britain’s insistence on abandoning the so-called Irish backstop.

Sassoli was speaking after a meeting with the leaders of the European Parliament’s political groups and chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier,

The EU is prepared to postpone the Brexit date again if Britain gives a good reason, he says – such as avoiding a no-deal Brexit, having a general election or extending article 50.

“Unfortunately the signals we are getting aren’t indicating that there is any initiative that could reopen the negotiations.

“That is not the way we see it. And we are unhappy about that,” he added.

YEE

(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)

Foreign

UNGA President to pay first official visit to Nigeria

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President of the United Nations General Assembly (PGA), Amb. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, will on Wednesday begin a five-day official visit to Nigeria.

His spokesperson, Ms Reem Abaza, said in a statement on Monday that the PGA was travelling to his home country to participate in a meeting of the Stakeholder Group on Ageing Africa (SGA Africa).

SGA Africa is a coalition of civil society organisations on ageing, human right institutes and Institutes on ageing in the continent.

It is a platform for stakeholders to work “on multi-levels as members of the UN ECA African Regional Civil Society Engagement Mechanism group to achieve SDGs Agenda 2030 and AU Agenda 2063’’.

The meeting, according to Abaza, is the region’s expert conference on the human rights situation of older persons for the purpose of strengthening the protection of their rights.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that this would be Muhammad-Bande’s first official visit to Nigeria since assumption of office as President of the 74th Session of the GA on Sept. 17.

During the visit, he is expected to “highlight his priorities for the 74th Session’’, according to the spokesperson.

Muhammad-Bande will also mobilise support for multilateralism and rule-based systems “as the most potent avenues for fostering dialogue and proffering solution to global problems’’.

He also expected to underscore the importance of international cooperation in sensitising national governments on the human rights situation of older persons in Africa.

“The PGA will also seize the opportunity of his visit to thank the government and people of Nigeria for their support prior to and after his election and inauguration as President of the 74th Session of the GA.

“The President will also interact with women’s groups and members of civil society organisations.

“During his visit, Muhammad-Bande will meet with H.E. Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria and other senior government officials including H.E. Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister of Foreign Affairs and H.E. Pauline Talen, Minister of Women Affairs.

“The President of the General Assembly will also visit the recently reconstructed UN house,’’ Abaza said, adding that he will depart Nigeria on Nov. 25.

Edited by Wale Ojetimi

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Jumia suspends its e-commerce business in Cameroon

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Online retailer Jumia Technologies, often called “the Amazon of Africa”, said it had suspended its e-commerce platform activities in Cameroon on Monday because it was not suitable for the country.

Its shares have tumbled from its Wall Street initial public offering price of 14.50 dollars in April, hitting a record low of 5.10 dollars on Monday after third-quarter results missed revenue estimates for the second time in three quarters.

“Based on our review, we came to the conclusion that our transaction portal as it is run today is not suitable to the current context in Cameroon,” the company said in a statement.

The company added that its e-commerce operations there had been suspended.

Founded in 2012 by two French former McKinsey consultants, Jumia has grown quickly to become Africa’s leading e-commerce firm, operating in more than a dozen countries across Africa.

With an e-commerce business similar to Amazon and a classified portal like Alibaba, it sells from its own stock and takes a cut of third-party transactions on its website.

Jumia said it would continue supporting buyers and vendors in Cameroon using its classified portal, known as Jumia Deals.

Edited by Fatima Sule/Felix Ajide

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ADB, India sign $91m loan for irrigation farming project

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India on Monday signed a 91 million dollars loan to modernise an irrigation system in the country, official sources said.

The loan would help t in southern state of Karnataka in preparing river basin management plans in the ‘Krishna River Basin’.

The project will help improve irrigation water use efficiency and contribute to improving sustainable water security in Karnataka.

After the signing, a top official in Ministry of Finance Sameer Khare said that the investment programme would help the state government in strengthening its institutions involved in integrated water resource management.

Khare said that modernising the irrigation system infrastructure would improve water use efficiency in the state.

ADB’s Country Director Kenichi Yokoyama said that the project loan would continue to strengthen state and basin institutions for the “Integrated and Sustainable Water Resources Management Investment Programme (IWRM).”

This will also finance the modernisation of Vijayanagara Channels by upgrading headworks and about 442 kilometers of main, distributaries and minor canals.

The project interventions are also tackling inefficient water use in agriculture that accounts for over 84 per cent of the state’s total water use.

This will improve water availability to meet the rising demand from other users in the state.

About 30 water user cooperative societies will also be established and strengthened for improving their farmer irrigation canals under the second project. (Xinhua/NAN)

Edited by Fatima Sule/Emmanuel Yashim

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23 arrested in Europe-wide operation against smuggling of artefacts

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A large-scale operation against smugglers in Europe has led to the arrest of 23 people and the seizure of some 10,000 archaeological artefacts, Europol and Eurojust said in a statement on Monday.

According to Europol and Eurojust, as part of the operation conducted by the European Union’s (EU) police and justice agencies, 103 searches were conducted, with the same number of seizures made.

The artefacts came from the southern Italian region of Calabria.

Two Calabrians from Crotone province were in charge of the criminal network, with middlemen in France, Germany, Britain, and Serbia.

Police forces from all countries involved helped to bust the ring, Italy’s Cultural Ministry said.

Culture Minister Dario Franceschini thanked everyone, who had helped take part in the investigations.

In the southern German city of Munich, historical coins had been confiscated during the action after the apartment and workspace of a 31-year-old Italian woman and her 37-year-old brother were searched.

(Edited by Fatima Sule/Emmanuel Yashim)

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S. Africa’s parliament warns against attempt to sabotage national carrier

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South Africa’s Parliament on Monday warned against any “restless” attempt to satotage South African Airways (SAA) being gripped by a strike.

Recent reports in the public domain urging South Africans not to fly with SAA “are restless” and would sabotage the national carrier, said Khaya Magaxa, chairperson of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises.

Magaxa said that parliament noted with concern the utterances made by trade unions currently engaged in the SAA strike.

The South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), which organised the strike, had urged South Africans to avoid SAA as its flights would be operated by short-term contracted personnel without the requisite experience.

The unions made the appeal after SAA announced on Sunday that its international flights would be resumed from Sunday night after being suspended since Friday when SAA employees began an indefinite strike.

The airline said in a statement that it had taken the decision to reinstate international service on its route network after assessment of its personnel numbers who are available and willing to operate the flights.

The airline said that while some employees are on strike and have elected to do so in exercising their rights, the airline has a duty to render services to its customers where it has employees who have elected to report for work.

Magaxa said his committee acknowledges the challenges facing SAA, which are a direct result of malfeasance and corruption.

“Workers are not responsible for the situation at the national carrier,” said Magaxa.

He urged SAA management and unions to negotiate to find a solution to resolve the strike, as it has serious ramifications for SAA’s financial situation and other unintended consequences in the economy and the tourism sector.

“The committee would like to appeal to workers not to damage and destroy SAA’s credibility.

“If the employees continue down the path of destruction, this will lead to the destruction of jobs that we seek to protect and increase,” Magaxa said.

According to him, the SAA brand is important in ensuring improvement and profitability.

The work stoppage came after the national flag carrier rejected demands for an eight-percent wage increase and planned to go ahead with its retrenchment of 944 jobs — almost a fifth of its employees, as part of its turnaround strategy.

Cash-strapped SAA has relied on government bailouts for continued operation mainly due to poor management.

Over the past 13 years, the flag carrier has incurred over 28 billion rand (about 1.9 billion U.S. dollars) in cumulative losses.

This loss in revenue is compounded by the fact that the airline is already technically insolvent, without sufficient capital to fund its daily operations. (Xinhua/NAN)

YEE

(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)

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4 Tunisian women arrested in Morocco over cannabis smuggling

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Morocco’s police at Marrakech Menara Airport, on Monday arrested four Tunisian women over alleged involvement in cannabis smuggling.

The suspects, aged between 19 and 45, including the mother of a five-year-old child, were arrested with 6.485 kg of cannabis hidden in their personal belts, the Moroccan Police, said in a statement.

They were nabbed while preparing to leave the Moroccan tourist resort of Marrakech on a flight bound for Tunis, the statement added.

In spite of efforts to crack down on cannabis cultivation in the past decade, Morocco remains one of the world’s largest producers of the narcotic plant, according to the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime.

The Moroccan security authorities seized 112 tons and 138 kg of cannabis and its derivatives from Jan. 1 to Sept. 15, 2019, according to official statistics.

Edited by Fatima Sule/Nyisom Fiyigon Dore

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