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Trump rejects censure idea as House panel readies impeachment report vote

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President Donald Trump on Tuesday rejected the possibility of U.S. lawmakers censuring him over accusations he improperly pressured Ukraine to probe a political rival, as a congressional committee prepared to layout Democrats’ case for impeachment.

Trump, speaking at a wide-ranging, nearly hour-long news conference at the NATO summit in London, lashed out at Democrats in the House of Representatives leading the impeachment inquiry into the Ukraine matter.

Trump also denounced the censure idea raised by some members of Congress as “unacceptable”.

The Democratic-controlled House Intelligence Committee is scheduled to vote on its findings later on Tuesday.

The matter will then go to the House Judiciary Committee, which will launch its proceedings on Wednesday.

The full House would then vote on the formal impeachment charges, setting up a trial in the Republican-led U.S. Senate if it passes the lower chamber.

So far, analysts doubt Trump’s fellow Republicans would convict and remove him from power, although some lawmakers have raised the idea of censure in recent days as a way to rebuke the president’s actions without the risk of removal from office.

“I did nothing wrong. You don’t censure somebody when they did nothing wrong,” Trump said in London.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff on Monday said the panel was finalising its report for a public release on Tuesday, with panel members expected to vote on it Tuesday night.

Republicans, in a prebuttal report released on Monday, said that Democrats had not established that Trump had committed an impeachable offense.

At issue is whether the Republican president misused the power of his office to pressure Kiev to investigate former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who is seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Lawmakers and the public have heard testimony from current and former officials that military aid was withheld from Ukraine.

A White House meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was conditioned on Kiev probing Biden and his son Hunter as well as a debunked conspiracy theory about Ukraine interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

(Edited & Vetted By: Fatima Sule/Emmanuel Yashim)
(NAN)

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Democrats expected to announce impeachment articles on Tuesday

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 Democrats in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee are expected to announce articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Tuesday, a lawmaker told multiple U.S. media outlets.

Elliot Engel, the House Foreign Affairs Chairman, told reporters that the articles of impeachment were likely be unveiled at a news conference on Tuesday morning.

It is unclear how many articles will be introduced and on what charges the articles will be based.

Democrats say that Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine as part of a pressure campaign to get Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Trump’s domestic political rival Joe Biden and conspiracy theories related to the 2016 presidential election.

According to the Democrats, Trump abused power and committed bribery, accusations which Trump denies.

Once the Democrats’ articles of impeachment are formally introduced, they are likely to go through changes before leaving the House Judiciary Committee and are put up for a general vote.

If the Democrat-controlled House votes in favour of the impeachment articles, then the process moves to the Republican-controlled Senate, where Trump’s supporters have promised to defend the president.

On Monday Democrats held a public hearing summing up their case against the president.

House Judiciary Committee staff lawyers for majority Democrats laid out evidence for impeachment over Trump’s dealings with Ukraine earlier this year, while a committee lawyer for minority Republicans rebutted the claims in sometimes heated exchanges.

We are here today because Donald J Trump, the 45th president of the United States, abused the power of his office, the American presidency, for his political and personal benefit,” Daniel Goldman, a lawyer for Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, said in his opening statement.

Democrats say a back-and-forth during a July 25 call between Trump and Zelensky showed a “quid pro quo” that put Trump’s own personal political interests over U.S. national security.

Trump has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, and on Monday he tweeted about the hearing, citing a comment from Zelensky that Trump did nothing wrong.

If the Radical Left Democrats were sane, which they are not, it would be case over!” he tweeted.

Republicans on the committee said that the evidence presented since the inquiry was announced in September, based on a whistleblower’s report, was thin and the process used by the Democrats unfair.

But the Democrats’ lawyer for the Judiciary Committee told lawmakers that the evidence against Trump was “overwhelming” and revealed a “brazen” scheme.

Barry Berke said that impeaching him was an urgent matter because he could potentially repeat the behaviour.

This is a big deal. President Trump did what a president of our nation is not allowed to do,” Berke said.

In addition to Goldman and Berke the committee heard testimony from Stephen Castor, a lawyer for Republicans on both committees.

He said that the process was “not warranted” based on the evidence and that a “compelling argument” to take a decision “out of the hands of the voters” was lacking.

The full House could vote on articles of impeachment as early as Friday.

The inquiry’s leaders have not yet named the specific impeachable offences they may vote on.

Once articles of impeachment are passed – as expected in the Democrats-dominated House – the articles would then move to the Republican-controlled Senate, where Democrats appear unlikely to rally enough Republicans to vote to remove Trump from office.

Democrats in the House appear undeterred by that reality.

Democrats have said that the matter is too important, citing it as an example of what the framers of the U.S. Constitution intended to stop when they gave Congress the ability to remove a president through impeachment.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said in his opening statement that Trump “put himself before country” as monarchs of the past had done.

Nadler was forced to pound his gavel several times and warn Republican members not to interrupt as they bickered over procedural matters.

He also was forced to order a number of roll call votes to satisfy Republican demands, even once over a question of whether the committee should take a break.

Republicans complained bitterly about the timing of the impeachment process just a year before the next presidential election and said that the evidence didn’t show that impeachable offences had been committed.

Representative Douglas Collins complained that the Democrats had put the House in danger by abusing its power, saying that the hearings had been “all military,” and adding, “It’s a show”.

YEE

Edited by: Emmanuel Yashim
(NAN)

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Namibia to deport 53 refugees back to S. Africa

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A police commissioner, David Indongo said on Monday that Namibia would deport 53 foreign nationals who fled neighbouring South Africa following a recent wave of xenophobic attacks.

The commissioner said that the 53 foreign nationals who had camped at the Osire refugee camp, were transported on Saturday morning by immigration officials to the southern border settlement of Noordoewer in preparation for their deportation.

The refugees, who include 14 men, 13 women and 26 children, are being accommodated at the EHW Baard Primary School hostel in Noordoewer,’’ he said.

According to the Namibian police, the majority of the refugees are Congolese and Angolan nationals who have South African-issued asylum permits.

The 53 formed part of more than 600 refugees and asylum seekers who had camped at the UN’s High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) offices in Cape Town and Pretoria while demanding to be taken to safer countries abroad.

Edited by: Hadiza Mohammed/Emmanuel Yashim
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Japan to pay additional $13.8bn for 2011 quake reconstruction

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 Government officials on Monday said that Japan would be expected to pay an additional reconstruction cost of 1.5 trillion yen (13.8 billion U.S. dollars) for the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis in northeastern Japan.

According to the government, the additional costs will be generated in the fiscal period between 2021 and 2025.

The officials said that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet would likely adopt a draft reconstruction policy drawn up by a government committee by the end of the year, while related bills are expected to be submitted during 2020 ordinary Diet session.

According to the government, the total expenditure for reconstruction work through 2020 is estimated at slightly more than 31 trillion yen (285.2 billion dollars).

According to the draft, the government will use tax revenue including an increase in income tax 2020 to fund the reconstruction works from fiscal 2021 to 2025.

The Japanese government also plans to extend the work of the Reconstruction Agency for an extra 10 years, compared to its closure originally planned to take place in March 2021 so that it can continue aiding reconstruction of areas contaminated by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster.

Established in February 2012, the agency has been working as the central control point for efforts to reconstruct disaster-stricken areas.

Edited by: Emmanuel Yashim
(NAN)

Edited by: Hadiza Mohammed
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U.S. indicts 40 public officials for corruption

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The United States Government says it has indicted “almost 40 public officials” and their immediate family members around the world for corruption this year.

U.S. Secretary of State, Mr Mike Pompeo, disclosed this in a statement on the occasion of the 2019 International Anti-Corruption Day on Monday.

He said the indictment was pursuant to Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2019.

Pompeo said the U.S. would continue to use of the instrument “to prevent corrupt officials of foreign governments and their immediate family members from traveling to and spending their ill-gotten gains in the United States”.

“On this day, we renew our call to all countries to address the scourge of corruption.

“They should effectively implement their international anticorruption commitments, including those under the UN Convention against Corruption,” he said.

The Secretary of State also urged them to support civil society and the media journalists; “and take measures to promote open and accountable governance”.

Edited by: Sadiya Hamza
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Youth empowerment, mobilisation key in anti-graft war — UNGA president

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 The President of the UN General Assembly (PGA), Amb. Tijani Muhammad-Bande, has called for  active engagement of young people in the fight against corruption.

The way we engage young people today will determine the prospects for sustainable development and peace.

Mobilising and empowering Youth for Justice is key to ensuring sustainable solutions to combating corruption,” he said in a message to mark the 2019 International Anti-Corruption Day.

Referencing findings that an estimated 2.6 trillion dollars is stolen through corruption globally every year, Muhammad-Bande urged stronger international collaboration to check the menace.

He said: “The International Anti-Corruption Day is an opportunity to acknowledge and promote the efforts against corruption and bribery worldwide.

According to the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development’, we need to fully address corruption to have any hope of achieving the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.

 

Corruption diverts resources away from poverty-eradication efforts. It fuels conflict and disharmony in society.

I have set poverty eradication and quality education as key priorities for the 74th Session of the General Assembly.

Corruption also hinders the achievement of quality education at the same time, education is a crucial element to effectively address the phenomenon of corruption.

It fosters attitudes that do not tolerate corruption.

The PGA described corruption as a serious global challenge to which no country is immune.

He, therefore, called on stakeholders to use the day to rededicate themselves to fight against corruption, including through cooperation and partnerships. 

Edited by: Chukwudi Ekezie
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Namibia launches book honouring founding president

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Namibia launches book honouring founding president

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Windhoek, Dec. 9, 2019 Namibia on Monday launched a book “teaching and leading by example’’ in honour of their founding president, Sam Nujoma.

The book depicts him as a pragmatic and visionary leader who led Namibia in pursuit of justice, rule of law, gender equality and self-determination.

Speaking at the launch, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said Nujoma led with distinction and example.

“It is only a humble and dignified leader who after having defeated a bitter enemy, can hold out an olive branch in the spirit of peace and reconciliation to forgive past wrongs and move towards building a nation.

“Because of his humility, Nujoma laid a solid foundation of peace in a country torn apart by war.’’

The nine-chapter book summarises leadership attributes of Nujoma, who was also described as a man full of humility.

The book is published by the Sam Nujoma foundation, with contributions from local and international scholars.

Edited by: Hadiza Mohammed/Donald Ugwu
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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
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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
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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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