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Violence – Sri Lanka imposes nationwide curfew as precautionary measure

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Violence – Sri Lanka imposes nationwide curfew as precautionary measure

Curfew

Police said sporadic incidents were first reported from the North Western Province where a curfew was imposed from Monday to prevent the spread of violence.

They said that by night the curfew has extended to other areas in the country.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in a statement said any ethnic violence could cost security and police resources that should be used for investigations regarding the Easter Sunday bombings.

“I have ordered the forces to strictly enforce the curfew and take action against those creating violence,” he said.

He said that the country would be destabilised if the attacks result in ethnic violence.

The tension started rising Sunday after an incident between the Muslim minority and the Sinhalese majority due to inflammatory messages on social media.

A message shared on Facebook prompted several people to surround and damage an Islamic religious centre on Sunday in the town of Chilaw, 80 kilometres north of Colombo.

Police arrested one person, identified as Abdul Hameed Mohamed, who had allegedly posted an inflammatory message on Facebook.

Some social media networks were temporarily blocked in Sri Lanka after messages shared online raised religious tensions between some Muslims and Sinhalese.

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said there were other false messages on social media, which claimed a group of terrorists was arrested close to the capital and that three people pretending to be medical students were arrested at a hospital on the city’s outskirts.

Armed forces and police increased security in the wake of reports that a terrorist group was planning to carry out attacks in several locations in the capital.

Attendance at schools and offices dropped, mostly in Colombo and larger towns.

Security has been tight in Sri Lanka since Easter Sunday, when 257 people were killed in suicide attacks in three churches, three luxury hotels and two other locations.

The bombers were identified members of an Islamist extremist group.

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena departed for China on Monday and appointed Ruwan Wijewardene as the acting defence minister in his absence.

Foreign

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
(NAN)

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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
(NAN)

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Namibia launches book honouring founding president

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Namibia launches book honouring founding president

Launch

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
(NAN)

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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
(NAN)

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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
(NAN)

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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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Some 100,000 employees in Finland’s industrial sector begin 3-day strike

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Some 100,000 Finnish employees in the industrial sector on Monday began a three-day strike to back up their salary demands.

The action comprises both workers’ and management unions.

The strike was called by the Finnish Industrial Union, the Trade Union Pro and the “white-collar” Federation of Professional and Managerial Staff YTN.

Also, workers in the building and electrical sectors had announced solidarity strikes, bringing the total number of employees embarking on industrial action to nearly 100,000.

The striking workers include employees in fuel production, pharmaceutical companies, mines, and several technology companies.

The state mediator, Vuokko Piekkala, told Finnish national radio Yle that the views on salary increase between the employee and employer unions were widely apart.

Earlier, the Finnish Industrial Union rejected a mediation proposal by the state mediator, Riku Aalto, President of the Industrial Union, said the proposal was less than the two or three per cent increase obtained by employees in Finland.

Details of mediation proposals are not public in Finland.

Meanwhile, Finnish unions have largely set the increase levels of key competitor countries, mainly Germany, as a benchmark for their demands.

According to German Economic Research Institute, the average nominal increase agreed in 2019 was over three per cent and the metal sector had exceeded that.

Aalto said that the employers were trying to worsen the terms of labour.

The Executive Director for Industrial Relations at Technology Industries of Finland, Minna Helle, said the strike affected the reputation of Finland as an export provider.

She claimed the strike would cause 400-million-euro (or 442-million-U.S.-dollar) losses, while the union said the impact of the strike would be 26 million euros only.

However, the strike would be followed by a weeklong lockout in the Forest Industries concerning mainly sawmills and plywood plants.

The lockout would commence on Dec. 12 and ends on Dec. 18. Lockout is an employer measure. However, During a lockout employees would be excluded from the workplace and would not be paid.

Edited by: Yahaya Isah./Emmanuel Yashim
(NAN)

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EU allows Gabon airlines to resume operations in safety list update

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Airlines

Brussels, Dec. 9, 2019 Airlines based in Gabon could once again fly in and out of the European Union (EU), the bloc’s executive said on Monday as it updated its air safety list.

The list, which is regularly reviewed by EU aviation safety experts, restricts air carriers from operating in Europe if they are certified by a state lacking safety oversight or if there are safety issues detected with the airlines themselves.

“All airlines certified in Gabon have been released from the list following improvements to the aviation safety situation in that country,” the European Commission said in a statement.’

The western African country had been blacklisted by the EU since 2008.

However, Armenia’s Civil Aviation Committee has been put under “heightened scrutiny” due to signs of a decrease in safety oversight, the commission added.

“Today’s decision illustrates our continuous efforts to offer the highest level of safety.

“Not only to European travellers, but to travellers worldwide, because aviation safety knows no border or nationalities,” said EU Transport Commissioner Adina Valean.

A total of 115 airlines now remain on the blacklist.

Six of them are individual carriers with safety concerns while the 109 other airlines are certified by 15 countries – including Afghanistan, Libya, and Sudan – which the EU deems as lacking sufficient aviation safety oversight.

Edited by: Fatima Sule/Emmanuel Yashim
(NAN)

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Taiwan presidential candidates seek omens in ballot lottery

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Incumbent President (Ms) Tsai Ing-wen

Candidates

Taipei, Dec. 9, 2019 Candidates in Taiwan`s upcoming presidential election looked for keys to victory on Monday in a lottery for the order in which they would appear on ballots in the Jan. 11 national elections on the self-ruled island.

More than 17.2 million citizens will be eligible to choose between three presidential and vice-presidential tickets as well as elect the next 113-seat national legislature.

The tickets include incumbent President (Ms) Tsai Ing-wen and former Premier Lai Ching-te for the governing centrist Democratic Progressive Party (DPP); Kaohsiung City Mayor Han Kuo-yu and ex-Premier Chang Shan-cheng for the right-wing Kuomintang (KMT).

Former Premier Lai Ching-te

Others are former KMT Secretary-General James Soong and United Communications Corp chairwoman Sandra Yu for the conservative People First Party (PFP)

In a ceremony at the Central Election Commission in Taipei, PFP Secretary-General Lee Hung-chun picked a paper lot marked with “1,” Han pulled out “2” and Lai chose “3.”

The PFP`s Lee told supporters outside the CEC building that “number one” meant that Soong, who is making his fourth presidential run, would stand above the other two camps and “put the people first.”

Han told boisterous backers that “the two of us will run hand in hand with one heart” and “will bring security to the nation and money to the people.”

Lai said “3” signaled to voters that they should cast “three ballots to safeguard Taiwan” by voting for the DPP presidential ticket and for DPP candidates in single-seat districts and the at-large party lists.

Officially called the Republic of China (ROC), Taiwan has had a separate government since Chinese Nationalists fled there in 1949 after losing a civil war to the Communists in China.

Beijing considers the self-governing democracy part of its territory.

Edited by: Fatima Sule/Emmanuel Yashim
(NAN)

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