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Frankfurter Rundschau on court ruling against Catalan separatists

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The German daily Frankfurter Rundschau criticises the Spanish Supreme Court’s decision to issue lengthy prison terms to the leaders of the 2017 Catalan independence drive.

In a Tuesday editorial, the newspaper writes that the ruling against politicians and activists is well justified and nevertheless fallible.

“Was the independence referendum on Oct. 1, 2017, a tumultuous upheaval?

“It doesn’t need to be viewed as such.

“A ruling of rebellion and misuse of public funds would have been just as appropriate, had it been met with a smaller punishment and in doing so served a peaceful society.

“A politician like Oriol Junqueras, who has been sentenced to 13 years in prison because he flouted the constitution but did not call for violence, can be nothing but a martyr in the eyes of his supporters.

“The Catalan separatists see themselves as oppressed, and now they have a symbol of oppression,’’ the newspaper wrote. (NAN)

HS/AIB

Edited by Halima Sheji/Abdulfatah Babatunde

 

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Indonesia will continue to partner with Nigeria for benefit of the two nations – Ambassador

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The Ambassador of Indonesia to Nigeria, Dr Usra Hendra Harahap, has pledged that Indonesia would continue to extend a hand of partnership to Nigeria on an equal basis for the benefit of the two nations.

Harahap made the pledge at the 74th anniversary of the Indonesian Armed Forces Day late Wednesday in Abuja.

The theme of the event is “Professional Armed Forces, Pride of the Indonesians’’.

“We will continue to extend a hand of partnership on an equal basis, with one sentence in our mind: ‘A closer relationship between Indonesia and Nigeria for the benefit and prosperity of our peoples’.

“And I believe, by materialising this partnership, it will bring common benefit for the two nations.

“May Indonesia-Nigeria friendship and cooperation intensify further in the years ahead,’’ he said.

According to him, the cooperation between Indonesian and Nigerian armed forces should be promoted.

He said that no nation could stand alone in order to gain its full potential, adding that cooperation and partnership were the best paths for nations to develop themselves.

Harahap said that Indonesia is always ready to cooperate with any country to enhance the ability and capability of her armed forces through the procurement of strategic equipment and capacity building of the personnel.

“I will work hard to make more Nigerian military personnel get their training and education in Indonesia.

“Indonesian industries is also offering its strategic products to Nigeria to fulfil the requirements of security and defence activities.’’

The ambassador said that the 74th anniversary of Indonesian Armed Forces signified continuous progress and achievements of the country’s armed forces in protecting the nation over the decades.

He said that the Indonesian Armed Forces has the role of defence to deter external military threats, eliminate threats and ensure peace and security within its national territory.

Harahap said that in a wider international context, “Indonesia continues to promote its commitment to world peace and stability’’.

He added that it was a mandate, which was written in its constitution since independence on Aug. 17, 1945.

“In this regard, as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2019 – 2020, Indonesia is actively involved in the global peace-building decision-making process.

“Indonesia is also more active in delivering the interest of developing countries in any peace process.’’

He said that Indonesian armed forces were being reformed into a better, more agile defence forces, adding that they are modernising themselves by procuring imported equipment and by developing their own defence technology capabilities.

Earlier, the Indonesian Defence Attache, Col. Bangun Marahan Tanjung said that the Indonesian Ministry of Defence has a strong willingness to collaborate and cooperate with its counterparts in West African Countries.

“The establishment of the office of defence attache in Nigeria since 1981 has shown that big interest.

“Therefore, it has always been my duty to bridge communication and bring the state of the relationship between Indonesia and Nigeria as well as other African countries, especially in defence sector closer and stronger.

“I wish that this good cooperation will be strengthened in the future and, hopefully, in the broader areas not only limited to weaponry but also education and training,’’ Tanjung said.

He said that the event was to echo the historical development of the Indonesian armed forces from time to time since the colonial era to modern ages.

According to him, Indonesian armed forces, `Indonesian National Military’ (TNI), which was born on Oct. 5, 1945, has gradually transformed into a professional entity.

He said that TNI serves, not only as of the guardian of the Indonesian national interests domestically but also as an active proponent to the peacekeeping missions around the globe.

 “The active engagement of TNI in different missions under the mandate of the UN Security Council since 1957, in Congo and Sudan is partly a demonstration of the active contribution of Indonesia to the peace and stability of the world.

“Transnational issues, from terrorism to cyber threat for example, eventually force countries to work together bilaterally and multilaterally,’’ he said.

In his remarks, the Nigerian Chief of Defence Intelligence, AVM Mohammed Usman, said that Nigeria looks forward to better cooperation between the two nations.

Usman said Nigeria has been partnering with Indonesia in the production of defence and security equipment.

Represented by Brig.-Gen. Parker Udiandeye, Usman said that all armed forces of every nation were a pride to their nation.

According to him, they secure their people, ensure the safety and security of the people to conduct their economic and social undertaking.

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Edited by Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Mustering energy, consensus and fairness to negotiate the world

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Mustering energy, consensus and fairness to negotiate the world

-Bande (the 74th President of the United Nations General Assembly)

It is difficult not to love Nigeria. The people are warm and charming. They can be critical of one another yet still bask in each other’s success.

Having held leadership roles in the country and on the African continent, I have been reminded of this time and again. Observing the enthusiasm generated in Nigeria by my emergence as President of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly reinforces my love for the country, and I am grateful to all for their best wishes.

The UN is a difficult place to get your head around. I know this only too well, having served as Nigeria’s permanent representative to the organisation. I now understand how the institution works. Yet since taking up my new role in September, I appreciate there will be many people who wonder what it actually entails.

First, the General Assembly itself: this is the main deliberative organ of the United Nations. It is like a national parliament: each member country’s single vote counts as much as any other and everybody has the chance to put their perspective across.

As President, which rotates on a yearly basis among regional groups, I chair this assembly. I mediate and moderate; I set the agenda for the year; I look at the inner plumbing of the UN, and whether it is assembled to serve the purposes of the organisation – development, human rights, and international peace.

For the 74th session, I chose the theme “Galvanizing multilateral efforts for poverty eradication, quality education, climate action and inclusion.” The UN has 17 goals to achieve by 2030 – the Sustainable Development Goals (an evolution of the Millennium Development Goals) – which the General Assembly adopted by consensus in 2015.

These goals interlink and I believe that eradicating poverty, achieving quality education, climate action and inclusion are key in reaching the other goals. Education further stands out for me given my background in academia, for it has the unique capacity to provide an opportunity for all.

The position of the General Assembly within the UN makes more sense when viewed amongst its other organs. The other two best-known bodies are the Secretariat and the Security Council.

The former is like a civil service: it performs the day-to-day running of the UN, administering the programmes and policies the rest of the organisation decides on. The Secretary-General is the head of it and is appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.

Trygve Lie, the first Secretary-General, described it as “the most difficult job in the world”, given the need to balance the competing demands of both the Secretary (administrator) and the General (moderator) functions of the role on a global scale.

The Security Council is the body charged principally with the founding mission of the UN: to safeguard world peace. Yet it is in serious need of reform because it reflects power dynamics that are almost three-quarters of a century old. It’s permanent members (as opposed to 10 non-permanent members, who each serve for two years) are China, France, Russia, the UK and the USA. Each has a “veto”, which means their vote can effectively overrule all other nations will.

This has raised questions of the democracy and legitimacy of the Council.

The reform of the Security Council is within the purview of the General Assembly but requires a two-thirds majority and – crucially – consent of each permanent member. I – as President of the General Assembly – must marshal energy and consensus to ensure more equitable representation, and ensure the council can address key issues instead of becoming deadlocked (a possibility gave the veto).

A key aspect of my position is to represent the General Assembly at international events around the world. For example, last month I attended the meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement Head of State and Government in Baku, Azerbaijan. This month I travelled to France for the Paris Peace Forum. And this week I will be returning home to Nigeria for a conference aimed at strengthening human rights for older people in Africa.

Looking ahead, I will attend events in Ireland, Spain, Kuwait and Qatar in the coming weeks. I will use those platforms to advocate for the farthest behind among us. I am committed to visiting countries in Special Situations – particularly Small Island Developing States, Least Developed Countries and nations in conflict – to draw the world’s attention to the existential issues they face. At every occasion, there is a focus on what partnerships can be created, or deepened, to address the challenges.

In a similar vein, I endeavour to increase the presence and relevance of the UN across the world.

Sometimes this global organisation has seemed too remote from those people it serves. That is something all of us who represent this organisation must labour to change. For it is only through collective action we can solve today’s greatest challenges.

I – like many previous holders of this role – am committed to the reform of the UN to reflect the realities of the 21st century, and to ensure that cynicism or apathy does not creep into the organisation.

Next year marks the 75th anniversary of the UN’s formation. In the build-up to this event, we have a chance to stand back and reflect on what this institution has done, should do and how to do it. And I want to hear from all perspectives on what the UN should be – whether that be from Azerbaijan, France or indeed Nigeria. (NANFeatures)

**If used, please credit the writer as well as Nigeria News Agency

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ECOWAS worried by Guinea Bissau, other crisis in the region

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The ECOWAS Parliament and Commission on Wednesday raised concerns over the security challenges in the region.

It called for collective efforts to restore stability in the region, especially the political crisis in Guinea Bissau.

The Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, Moustapha Cisse-Lo, said this at the Second Ordinary Session of ECOWAS Parliament held in Abuja.

He said that it was important to act collectively as a region to eradicate spiral violence and recurrent attacks.

“The recurrent terrorist attacks in Mali and Burkina Faso, where they have become more deadly, remind us of the critical need to respond appropriately to this threat.

“Terrorism and insecurity have assumed unprecedented proportions in our region, they constitute a major challenge that needs to be absolutely addressed.

“Inasmuch as we all agree that without peace and security, sustainable development is unachievable, indeed, there is a close link between security, stability, democracy, peace and development, which are all necessary and interwoven. It is necessary for us to act now and vigorously to eradicate this spiral of violence.

“In this regard, the involvement of our States and the pooling of our forces and resources seem to me very important, failing which the fight against terrorism will remain ineffective.

“We all paid particular attention to the events in Guinea-Bissau, which disrupted the political situation in the country in the run-up to the presidential election.

“It should also be noted that ECOWAS has planned to send observers, including a parliamentary delegation, to observe the presidential election, I have already given the necessary instructions to that effect.

“I want to stress that we place a great deal of hope in this presidential election, which is expected to enable Guinea Bissau to find a lasting solution to the political crisis it has been facing for many years.”

He said the forthcoming election would usher the people of Guinea-Bissau into a new era of peace and prosperity as well as contribute to political stability at regional level.

Mrs Halima Ahmed, speaking for the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Brou, said that the attacks in the region constitute a threat to stability and integration agenda.

“It is important to highlight that our region is facing some political challenges, especially in Guinea Bissau, which will be organising Presidential election in the next few days.

“The region continues to be confronted with sporadic attacks by terrorists and armed groups, particularly in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger which calls for us to redouble our collective efforts, solidarity and cohesion.”

Nigeria News Agency reports that the presidential election of Guinea Bissau will be held on Nov. 24.

Edited by Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)

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Arab League to meet over U.S. support for Israeli settlements Nov. 25

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The Cairo-based Arab League will hold an emergency ministerial-level meeting on Nov. 25 to discuss the recent U.S. recognition of Israeli settlements on Palestinian occupied territories, an official said.

The Palestinian Embassy in Cairo said this in a statement on Wednesday.

“The meeting will discuss the recent U.S. position … which no longer considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank contrary to international law,” Palestinian Ambassador to Cairo Diab al-Louh said in the statement.

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo voiced support for the establishment of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, saying they are “not, per se, inconsistent with international law.”

The Palestinian ambassador said the recent U.S. move “comes among a series of U.S. unilateral positions and decisions that violate international law and relevant resolutions of international legitimacy.”

Pompeo’s remarks were met by regional and international rejection.

On Tuesday, the League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit slammed Pompeo’s announcement as “a very negative development,” warning it would encourage Israeli settlers “to exercise more violence and brutality against the Palestinians.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict started more than 70 years ago following the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and the creation of Israel in 1948. (Xinhua/NAN)

Edited by Fatima Sule/Felix Ajide (NAN)

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Malta premier under pressure after new arrest over journalist’s murder

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A prominent Maltese businessman was arrested on Wednesday, in a potential turning point for the criminal investigation into the murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Galizia was killed by a car bomb on Oct. 17, 2017, after running a blog that accused top Maltese politicians, including Labour Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat and his close advisers, of major corruption.

Businessman Yorgen Fenech was arrested at sea shortly after he tried to leave Malta on board his luxury yacht.

Video footage uploaded by several Maltese media outlets showed Armed Forces of Malta soldiers inspecting the docked vessel at Portomaso, a luxury yacht marina owned by the Fenech family.

Speaking shortly after the arrest, Muscat told reporters that Fenech was a person of interest in the Caruana Galizia murder case, but said he could not elaborate futher.

He insisted that at this point, there was nothing pointing towards his chief of staff Keith Schembri or current tourism minister and erstwhile energy minister Konrad Mizzi of being involved in the Caruana Galizia case.

Wednesday’s arrest came just a day after Muscat revealed he had recommended a pardon for a suspected middleman in the murder if he provided legally binding evidence on who was behind the killing.

Fenech is a director of a consortium that won a tender in 2013 from the Maltese government to build a gas power station.

In 2018, he was also revealed as the owner of a secret offshore company called 17 Black, which allegedly made secret payments to Schembri and Mizzi.

Both Mizzi and Schembri have denied taking any money from 17 Black via secret offshore companies.

Suspicions arose after their names came up in the Panama Papers, a massive set of documents leaked in 2016 that exposed the dealings of shell companies.

Caruana Galizia had written about the affair months before she was assassinated.

“There’s no one left for whom it is not clear that Daphne was killed to cover up the corruption in the awarding of the Electrogas power station contract,” investigative journalist Manuel Delia wrote on his blog.

He criticised Muscat for not heeding past calls to fire Schembri and Mizzi, and appealed to parliament to dismiss the prime minister, who has been in office since 2013.

“Parliament has the duty to preserve the rule of law. Fire Joseph Muscat. Hire a new prime minister. Start a new government. Let the cleaning begin,’’ Delia wrote.

His remarks were backed by Caruana Galizia’s family.

Andrew, one of the slain journalist’s three sons, tweeted: “Joseph Muscat guaranteed the impunity for corruption of the men who contracted my mother’s murder. Now he holds the keys to justice. He should give them to someone else.’’

Delia said there would be a civil society protest outside the prime minister’s office at 6 p.m (1700 GMT) to demand parliamentarians removal of Joseph Muscat from the post of prime minister if they don’t get his resignation first.’’

Conservative former opposition leader Simon Busuttil joined the calls for Muscat’s ouster.

“The Prime Minister’s position is untenable. He must RESIGN NOW and let JUSTICE take its course,’’ he tweeted.

Until now, Maltese authorities had only managed to arrest three men accused of materially carrying out Caruana Galizia’s murder, but not the people believed to have ordered it.

Edited by Halima Sheji/Felix Ajide (NAN)

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Trump denies speaking with Sondland, knowing him ‘well’

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U.S. President Donald Trump says he does not know Gordon Sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the EU at the centre of the impeachment inquiry, well.

“I have not spoken to him much,” Trump tells reporters outside the White House. “This is not a man I know well.”

Trump spoke as Sondland testified before House impeachment investigators.

The ambassador has told Congress his dealings with Ukraine were under Trump’s direct orders and that there was a quid pro quo for the president’s benefit.

Sondland told Congress on Wednesday that his dealings with Ukraine were under the direct orders of Trump, in the fourth day of public hearings in an impeachment inquiry that has consumed Washington.

There was a “quid pro quo” in which a White House meeting for the Ukrainians was on the line in exchange for a probe linked to Trump’s rival Joe Biden, Sondland said.

Sondland told lawmakers that he came to understand that military assistance to Ukraine was being made contingent on Kiev publicly announcing a corruption probe linked to Biden, a leading Democratic contender to challenge Trump in presidential elections in 2020.

Sondland, while conducting a balancing act that seemed to be an attempt to vindicate his own behaviour, insisted that top officials above him, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, were “in the loop,” about his actions in Ukraine.

Sondland told the House committee carrying out the impeachment inquiry that he and others “played the hand we were dealt” while denying he was engaged in “rogue diplomacy.”

This included having to work through Rudy Giuliani, the president’s private lawyer.

“We all understood that if we refused to work with Mr Giuliani, we would lose an important opportunity to cement relations between the U.S. and Ukraine.

“So, we followed the president’s orders,” said Sondland, a Republican donor who was appointed as EU ambassador by Trump.

“I believed then, as I do now, that the men and women of the State Department, not the president’s personal lawyer, should take responsibility for Ukraine matters,” said Sondland.

A former hotelier, Sondland has found himself at the centre of the impeachment inquiry.

Sondland said that while he never heard directly from the president that aid was conditioned on any specific investigation, he came to believe this and maintained this conviction even after speaking directly with Trump.

“ of the August, my belief was that if Ukraine did something to demonstrate a serious intention to fight corruption, specifically addressing Burisma and 2016 server, then the hold on military aid would be lifted,” Sondland says.

Burisma is a Ukrainian energy company where Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, sat on the board.

The server refers to a conspiracy theory, apparently believed by Trump, about the 2016 election.

There is no evidence either Biden did anything illegal, though the Republicans have raised questions about the son’s role while his father was vice president and running U.S. policy on Ukraine, during the Obama administration.

“Was there a ‘quid pro quo?’ As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes,” Sondland said.

The testimony is the latest to indicate that Trump primarily was concerned with Burisma, and Biden, and not with corruption in general in Ukraine, as Republicans have tried to present as a line in the president’s defence.

Democrats in the House of Representative have set up an exhausting pace for the inquiry, amid hopes they can wrap up their side before the end of the year.

Trump insists there was nothing wrong with his interactions with Ukraine.

The inquiry in the House is the first step and could lead to impeachment.

A trial, which could lead to the president’s removal, would take place in the Senate, where Trump’s Republicans have a majority.

Edited by Fatima Sule/Felix Ajide (NAN)

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