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Vietnam promises to protect territory amid South China Sea tension

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Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong made a promise to voters on Tuesday to never give up the country’s independence or any national territory amid tensions with Beijing over the South China Sea.

Oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea is a highly fraught issue in both Vietnam and China, igniting a series of violent conflicts between 1974 and 1988 over control of the Spratly and Paracel Islands.

Trong’s statement came after the country’s leadership was criticised online for appearing to react weakly to what is seen in Vietnam as provocation from China.

“We will resolutely and persistently maintain independence while fighting for the protection of our sovereignty, but we must maintain a peaceful environment for development,’’

Trong told voters in Hanoi before the upcoming National Assembly meeting, which is scheduled to begin on Oct. 21.

“What belongs to our independence and national sovereignty we will never give up.

“ We are determined to fight and win,’’ he added, although also admitted the issue is complex and requires a smart and flexible response.

In 2014, anti-Chinese sentiment boiled over in Vietnam and sparked deadly attacks against Chinese-owned factories and businesses, after a Chinese drilling rig entered the disputed waters.

Most recently, tensions have soared between China and Vietnam as Chinese survey ship Haiyang Dizhi 8 has repeatedly violated Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone while searching for oil and gas reserves.

The boat and its vessels are currently operating around 70 nautical miles off the coast of Nha Trang in Vietnam’s south. (NAN)

HS/EEE

Edited by Halima ShejI/Ese E. Ekama

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Nigeria urges Gulf of Guinea Commission member states to collaborate, combat region’s security challenges

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Nigeria has urged member states of the Gulf of Guinea Commission to work closely and come up with measures to combat the insecurity in the region.

Nigeria also urged the member states to show commitment to their financial obligation toward the commission.

Amb. Zubairu Dada, Nigeria’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs made the call on Wednesday in Abuja during the 11th Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers of the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC).

Dada said that the collective quest to address the security challenges in the region required member countries to endeavour to put in place measures to check the violation of domestic and international treaties in the region.

“Nigeria’s resolve to address the security problems in the region led to the recent signing into law of the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences Act by the Country, which gives a comprehensive framework to tackling the issue of piracy and other maritime crimes on Nigerian waters.

“I commend efforts of member states of the Gulf of Guinea Commission who through strengthening the capacities and capabilities of their Navy and other institutions are fighting the insecurity in the region.

“On our part, Nigeria will continue to intensify efforts, in collaboration with relevant countries, partners, and institutions within the sub-region to address the current security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea.

“This 11th Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers of the Gulf of Guinea Commission once again provides an opportunity for all of us, the member states to redouble our efforts to revitalise the orgnisation as approved by the 4th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of States, to enable the GGC achieve its mandates,” Dada said.

He recalled that in Nov. 2017, while taking the mantle of leadership of the organisation, Nigeria called for renewed commitments on the part of member states to make the Gulf of Guinea Region a zone of peace and security.

He added that Nigeria also tasked member countries on sustainable development for the benefit of individual countries, the people, and stakeholders in the region.

The minister of state, however, noted that the GGC was faced with challenges, which have threatened its smooth operations.

He said that the challenges could be traced to lack of member states’ commitment to holding regular meetings.

He said that another challenge could be traced to the continued unwillingness of the majority of the states to pay their annual statutory contributions to enable the organisation to finance its numerous activities.

Dada said that the commission was in a dire financial situation and that unless urgent action was taken in the meeting to address the concerns, the situation might put the smooth functioning of the organisation at greater risk.

Also speaking, Amb. Florentina Ukonga, Executive Secretary, Gulf of Guinea Commission said that the experts had worked very hard to come up with recommendations to encourage participation of member states is GGC’s activities.

Ukonga said that the recommendations included timely contribution and liquidation of arrears of contributions and appropriate participation in GGC’s activities to enable the organisation to achieve its objectives.

She said that the Gulf of Guinea Region also needed to take full control of the security apparatuses that would ensure security in its maritime domain.

“Assistance from outside the region is good and desirable but this should not be substituted for our own action to be at the vanguard of solving our problems.

“Our institutions must function with or without assistance from our partners. Wwe must be fully committed to the principles of helping ourselves first before calling on others to help us.

“This is the only way our institutions an grow and solve the problems they were established to solve.

“We must never forget that our interest as States in the region are not necessarily the interest of other stakeholders operating in the region”, Ukonga said.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the Gulf of Guinea Commission was established in 2001 with set objectives which includes combating maritime crimes- piracy, sea robbery, illegal bunkering.

The commission also aims to combat environmental pollution, drugs and arms trafficking, as well as illegal unreported and unregulated fishing.

Member countries of the Gulf of Guinea Commission includes: Nigeria, Angola, Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sao Tome and Principe, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and Congo Brazzaville.

(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim (NAN))

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AU urges South Sudan to utilise extension period to address outstanding matters

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The AU on Wednesday called on South Sudan’s parties to agree on a systematic approach to address remaining outstanding matters within the agreed 100-days extension period.

The statement was made by the Peace and Security Council of the 55-member pan-African bloc in a statement issued on Wednesday, which followed the council’s latest meeting that dwelt upon the current situation in South Sudan.

The council underscores the need for the parties to agree on a systematic approach for addressing outstanding matters, with a view to effectively and efficiently utilise the coming 100 days to complete the remaining crucial tasks.

The outstanding matters include notable security arrangements and the number of states and internal boundaries of South Sudan, according to the statement.

The council, which welcomed the extension of the Pre-Transitional Period, also noted that the outcome creates a conducive environment for the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to decisively give impetus to the implementation of the Revitalised Agreement.

It also commended IGAD “for its continued efforts to address the situation in South Sudan.”

The council called on “all regional and international stakeholders to further enhance their coordination and to harmonise their efforts, under the leadership of IGAD for the promotion of peace, security and development in South Sudan.”

The AU Peace and Security Council made the call weeks after South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and the country’s main opposition leader Machar agreed to postpone the formation of a transitional government of national unity by 100 days.

On Nov. 7, Kiir and Machar agreed to postpone the formation of a transitional government of national unity by 100 days in a bid to iron out contentious issues like security arrangements, number and boundaries of states alongside constitutional amendment. (Xinhua/NAN)

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

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Tanzania launches campaign to protect lions from extinction

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The Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) and its partners on Wednesday launched a campaign aimed at protecting the East African nation’s 40 per cent of the world’s remaining wild lions.

TTB in collaboration with the Lion Recovery Fund and WildAid, an international environmental organisation that focuses on reducing the demand for wildlife products, said lions were vital to the country’s economy, environment and cultural identity.

“If we do not protect our lions and make sure they have secure, safe areas in which to live, then we risk losing a vital part of our nation’s heritage and a key driver of our wildlife tourism industry,” said Devota Mdachi, TTB Managing Director.

“As a nation, we need to ensure that our lions thrive for generations to come,” she said.

The campaign urges Tanzanians to ask their local and national leaders to draft policies that will safeguard both lions and the people living alongside them.

“Tanzania might be one of the few places where coexistence is possible, where a number of community-driven organisations are pioneering systems that ensure people and wildlife are seeing benefits from keeping lions alive,” said Mdachi.

Across Africa, the number of wild lions has halved in just the last 20 years to about 20,000, according to TTB statistics.

“In spite of the positive steps that Tanzania has taken to protect its lion populations, much work has yet to be done in safeguarding the future of this species, which scientists consider vulnerable to extinction,” said Mdachi.

“When tourists come on safari to Tanzania, they always expect to see a lion.

“And they usually do because today our parks hold nearly half of the continent’s population of wild lions,” she said.

Peter Lindsey, the Director of Lion Recovery Fund, said lions and other wildlife were almost certainly declining in number and distribution as elsewhere, and were extremely vulnerable to a wide range of human threats.

Lion Recovery Fund is an organisation that invests in the most innovative and effective projects across Africa that can recover lions and restore their landscapes.

“Tanzania’s lions and wildlife landscapes need support now to help shield them from the human pressures and threats facing them,” said Lindsey.

Tanzania is home to 40 per cent of the world’s remaining wild lions; however, the lion’s survival is threatened by a number of factors.

Lindsey said 60 per cent of lions live outside of protected areas, where they are vulnerable to habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict and the bush meat trade.(Xinhua/NAN)

Edited by Fatima Sule/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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S. African auditor-general urges action to restore gov’t accountability

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South Africa’s Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu on Wednesday called for “immediate action” to restore the government’s accountability.

Makwetu said this after the release of audit results that were described as revealing disappointing mismanagement of public funds.

Political leaders, accounting officers, and authorities, as well as oversight structures “must take immediate action” to halt the trend of disappointing audit results, restore accountability and prevent mismanagement of public funds, Makwetu said.

“This could be done by acting on the outcomes of the recent audits, dealing effectively with material irregularities that have been identified, and implementing preventative controls to turn the tide of undesirable stewardship over public funds,” Makewetu said.

According to the report, fruitless and wasteful expenditure by governments at all levels continued to rise, with 223 auditees losing 849 million rand (about 57 million dollars) in the current year.

Also 4.16 billion rand (about 281 million dollars) of expenditure was fruitless and wasteful over a five-year period.

The report also finds that irregular expenditure this year increased to 62.6 billion rand (about 4.22 billion dollars), up from the 51 billion rand (about 3.44 billion dollars) reported in 2018.

A total of 184 auditees incurred fruitless and wasteful expenditure in both the current and the previous year, 158 of which had incurred such expenditure for the past three years, the report says.

The report indicates that the results of the audited state-owned entities (SOEs) continued to regress from the previous year.

None of the SOEs managed to obtain a clean audit opinion, with the South African Post Office slipping back to a qualified audit opinion and the Development Bank of Southern Africa regressing from a clean audit in 2017-18 to a financially unqualified opinion with findings in the year under review, the report says.

The report raises significant doubt about whether some of the SOEs can continue with their operations in future without financial assistance.

Makewetu said executive authorities and oversight structures did not lead by example in setting the correct tone “that would enable accountability, transparency and good governance.” (Xinhua/NAN)

(Edited by Fatima Sule/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN))

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Canadian-Somali human rights activist killed in Mogadishu

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Police on Wednesday said unknown gunmen killed a well-known human rights activist in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu.

Almaas Elman, who is a Somali and Canadian citizen, was killed while travelling by car towards the airport, police officer Ahmed Bashane told dpa.

The exact circumstances of Elman’s death were unclear.

Elman was running the Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre in Mogadishu together with her sister, Ilwad Elman, who was nominated for the 2019 Nobel peace prize, and her mother Fatuun.

The foundation supports vulnerable women and former child soldiers in the volatile East African nation.

The centre is named after her father, Elman Ali Ahmed, a peace activist, who was killed in Mogadishu in 1996.

(Edited by Halima Sheji/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN))

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Alleged attacker of German ex-president’s son in psychiatric hospital

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Attacker

Berlin, Nov. 20, 2019   German prosecutors say they want the alleged assailant of Fritz von Weizsaecker, son of former German president, who was stabbed to death while giving a lecture, confined in a psychiatric hospital as investigations proceed.

The prosecutors referred to acute psychological illness, in releasing the information. They have begun a murder investigation.

Von Weizsaecker, 59, the son of Richard von Weizsaecker, who was president from 1984 to 1994, was stabbed late Tuesday while giving a public lecture at Schlosspark Hospital in Berlin, where he was a senior doctor.

His 57-year-old alleged assailant has not been identified but has been reported by police to come from the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate. The motive for the killing is not known.

Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her condolences to the family.

“This is a terrible blow to the von Weizsaecker family, and the condolences of myself as chancellor and from the government as a whole go to the widow and the entire family,” Merkel said via her spokesman Steffen Seibert.

A 33-year-old off-duty police officer who was in the auditorium was also seriously injured in the attack after going to the victim’s aid.

Police reported that he had undergone an operation but that his injuries were not life-threatening.

No fewer than  20 people attended the lecture in a room in the psychiatric wing of the hospital. Several people helped to hold the suspect and handed him over to the police.

The private hospital, where von Weizsaecker was a senior doctor, held regular events where members of the public could come along out of their own interest and learn about illnesses, diagnoses and therapy opportunities, according to the hospital’s website.

Von Weizsacker had a long medical career and was an internal medicine specialist, according to the hospital website.

His lecture was about fatty liver disease, the site said.

His father Richard von Weizsaecker was mayor of Berlin from 1981 to 1984, before serving as president. He died in 2015.

The head of Germany’s FDP political party, Christian Lindner, paid tribute to von Weizsaecker on Twitter, saying: “My friend Fritz von Weizsaecker was stabbed this evening in Berlin.

“A passionate doctor and fine man. He was recently at our home for a barbecue.

“I am speechless and need to share my grief.

“This begs the question once again of what kind of world we live in.’’

(Edited by Halima Sheji/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN))

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