Zimbabwe’s New President Urges Public Unity As Cabinet Sworn In

Zimbabwe’s incoming president Emmerson Mnangagwa gestures as he speaks to supporters at Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party headquarters in Harare on November 22. MARCO LONGARI / AFP

Zimbabwe’s new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, called for public unity to revive the country’s sickly economy as his new cabinet took office on Monday.

“I have sworn in a new cabinet just to finish the term of the former president, which is a period of six to seven months,” Mnangagwa said after the new ministers took the oath of office at state house.

“I believe with my team we will stand up to the challenge.”

“I want them (Zimbabweans) to be united, we must grow our economy,” he added.

Mnangagwa was seen as favourite to succeed long-time ruler Robert Mugabe but then fell out with his boss.

Mugabe dismissed him after the then first lady, Grace Mugabe, accused him of plotting to topple her husband.

He briefly went into exile, returning after the army stepped in and the ruling party expelled Mugabe and a coterie of allies. The veteran ruler resigned on November 21 after 37 years in power.

Mnangagwa, chosen by the ruling party to replace Mugabe, appointed a new cabinet on Thursday.

He drew criticism for retaining the majority of ministers who served under 93-year-old Mugabe and appointing officers from the military which played a key role in the events leading to his ascent to power.

The 22-member cabinet includes Air Marshal Perrance Shiri, who was appointed agriculture and lands minister, and Major General Sibusiso Moyo, who is now in charge of foreign affairs.

Both officials had to relinquish their army positions, as they are not permitted to hold two posts.

“When I was in the military I was under (the) ministry of defence, which is part of government and who says military should never be politicians,” Shiri told reporters after he was sworn-in.

“I am Zimbabwean, I have got every right to participate in the country’s politics,” he said.

The new president also reinstated prosecutor general, Ray Goba, who was named under Mugabe in September but whose appointment was rescinded the following month.

Mnangagwa has issued a three-month ultimatum for the return of funds siphoned out of the country by individuals and corporates.

AFP

Pochettino Says Spurs Will Learn From Poor Run

Tottenham Hotspur’s Argentinian head coach Mauricio Pochettino reacts on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Watford and Tottenham Hotspur at Vicarage Road Stadium in Watford, north of London on December 2, 2017. OLLY GREENWOOD / AFP

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino says his struggling side can thrive on criticism over their patchy form, admitting the team have not yet learned the winning habit of teams such as Real Madrid.

Spurs laboured to a 1-1 draw at Watford on Saturday, their fourth Premier League match in a row without a victory, and are a whopping 18 points off top spot.

But despite just two points from a possible 12, Pochettino remains adamant Spurs will emerge stronger for their struggles.

“We want to avoid bad moments and periods but we are not still this type of team like Barcelona, Real Madrid that can maybe keep winning and winning for long periods.

“We’re completely different, we’re not in the last stage (of our development). So we need to use these experiences to improve, to learn, to get more experience.”

In contrast to their struggles in the Premier League, Spurs have topped their Champions League group, finishing ahead of European Champions Real Madrid with one match still to play.

“When people criticise us, my staff and my team, that always makes you stronger, and sometimes that’s good,” he added.

“We have maybe three points less than this time last season, and we’ve finished top of our Champions League group.

“Manchester City have created a gap, but I’m sure the team will improve and take many lessons from this run.”

AFP

Wenger Refuses To Give Up On Premier League Title

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is refusing to concede defeat in the Premier League title race even though his team are now 15 points adrift of Manchester City in a top spot.

Mauricio Pochettino has ruled Tottenham out of contention but Wenger is refusing to throw in the towel despite Saturday’s painful 3-1 loss to Manchester United.

The Gunners, who last won the trophy in 2003-04 and have three more points than rivals Spurs, are lagging in fifth spot after five defeats in their first 15 games.

“I am not Pochettino, I am Arsene Wenger,” the Frenchman said. “I am here to fight as long as I can. As long as mathematically it’s possible, you have to fight. You cannot give any other message out.”

Wenger believes the performance in the loss to United, who capitalised on two defensive howlers, has revived belief within his squad.

“I believe from the game, it has to make us angry and even more determined,” added Wenger, whose side dominated possession and produced a succession of chances but were thwarted by United goalkeeper David De Gea.

“If I am a player, and I think with what we produced, we have a huge potential, and we lose the game. We cannot accept that.

“That’s what you want, the players have produced a quality performance.

“What makes you angry is that you produce that performance and in the end you have nothing to show for it. That’s very difficult to accept.”

Wenger welcomed the positive reaction of the Emirates Stadium crowd to Arsenal’s performance.

“The crowd sees as well that the team produced what is expected from them. The crowd was outstanding. And the team was outstanding. But we were not efficient. I cannot deny that. They have scored three, we have scored one.”

AFP

Cathay Flight Crew ‘Saw’ N. Korea Missile From Plane

Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific said Monday that one of its aircrews spotted what they believed to be the missile fired by North Korea last week, as they flew between the southern Chinese city and the United States.

The North fired an intercontinental ballistic missile believed capable of hitting the US mainland last Wednesday.

A statement from Cathay said a flight crew had that day sighted “what is suspected to be the re-entry of the recent DPRK test missile”.

Cathay did not give the location of the flight at the time of the sighting, but said the crew of the CX893 flight between Hong Kong and San Francisco had notified Japanese air traffic control “according to procedures”.

Operations had continued as normal, the statement added.

Pyongyang said the missile reached an altitude of 4,475 kilometres (2,800 miles) and splashed down 950 kilometres from its launch site.

It also claimed the Hwasong-15 missile fired Wednesday can be tipped with a “super-large heavy warhead” capable of striking the whole US mainland.

Cathay said there is no current plan to change air routes, describing the flight as being “far from the event location”.

“We remain alert and review the situation as it evolves,” the statement said.

In a message shared with staff, Cathay general manager Mark Hoey said the crew had described seeing the missile “blow up and fall apart”, the South China Morning Post reported.

Hoey said that another plane, CX096 which is a freight service between Hong Kong and Mexico, was only a few hundred miles away and could have been closer than the San Francisco flight, according to the report.

Analysts remain unconvinced that North Korea has mastered the advanced technology to allow the rocket to survive re-entry to the Earth’s atmosphere.

The months-long nuclear standoff between North Korea leader Kim Jong-Un and US president Donald Trump has fuelled concerns of another conflict, after the 1950-53 Korean War left much of the peninsula in ruin.

AFP

Yemen Govt Offers Amnesty To Those Who Cut Ties With Rebels – PM

Houthi Shiite Yemenis hold their weapons during a rally to show support for their comrades in Sanaa, Yemen, Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

Yemen’s internationally-recognised government said Monday it would grant amnesty to anyone who cuts ties with Huthi rebels, after a key rebel ally turned his back on the Iran-backed insurgents.

“The president will soon announce a general amnesty for all those who collaborated with the Huthis in recent months and who have retracted that allegiance,” Prime Minister Ahmad Obaid bin Daghr said.

AFP

Malta Arrests Eight In Probe Into Journalist’s Killing

journalist and blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia arriving at the Law Court in Malta. Capuana Galizia was killed today on October 16, 2017 in a car bomb close to her home in Bidnija, Malta. The force of the blast broke her car into several pieces and catapulted the journalist’s body into a nearby field, witnesses said. She leaves a husband and three sons. Caruana Galizia’s death comes four months after Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s Labour Party won a resounding victory in a general election he called early as a result of scandals to which Caruana Galizia’s allegations were central.
Matthew Mirabelli / AFP

Maltese authorities have arrested eight people in connection with the murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said in a statement Monday.

Blogger Caruana Galizia, who was 53 when she was killed in a car bomb attack on October 16, had made repeated and detailed corruption allegations against both Muscat’s inner circle and the opposition.

Muscat said police and the military were involved in an operation following a weeks-long investigation into the high-profile murder.

“During this operation, 8 persons were arrested” the statement said, adding that they faced “reasonable suspicion in connection with involvement in the murder” of Caruana Galizia.

All the suspects were Maltese nationals, Muscat’s statement added.

AFP

Herdsmen Attacks: Security Expert Blames NOA For Failure To Create Security Consciousness

A security consultant, Captain Umar Aliyu (retired) has said that the war against terror can only be won if the government engages the local residents using their indigenous languages.

He stated this on Monday, December 4, when he appeared on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily where he spoke on the war against terrorism.

This is in reaction to an attack in Numan area of Adamawa State that claimed the lives of four policemen and injured several others.

READ ALSO: Residents Flee Adamawa Communities Over Rumoured Herdsmen Attacks

The former Army Captain said the National Orientation Agency (NOA) has failed in creating the needed security consciousness in the hearts and minds of the locals who cannot understand the English language.

“Are the law enforcement agencies, in particular, the National Orientation Agency, the greatest of all offenders (in my own opinion the NOA speaks English on their media jingles), you think the man in Biu speaks English?

“Do you think he has light to watch television? The campaign against terrorism should be broken down into languages to that local village man. We should be able to seek to flock that we protect, comply with the things we do,” he said.

Although the retired military personnel praised the efforts of the military in degrading Boko Haram members from the forefront, he, however, said that the locals should be effectively engaged.

In doing this, he suggested requires blocking the loopholes that the insurgents might want to capitalise on regarding carrying out renewed attacks.

He further explained that law enforcement agencies should equip an ordinary man in a remote village with the requisite indigenous language well understood so as to feed the military with information.

“The flock right now is still a tyrant. Having decimated them (Boko Haram) militarily and degraded them, you have to come back to the flock and get them to become security conscious by imbibing security threat awareness.

“I heard the Minister of Information (Mr Lai Mohammed) talking about security consciousness. How do people become security conscious? It is a state of being and the moment you security quotient is in place, security consciousness dawns on you,” he said.

Ancelotti Snubs Italy Job

This file photo taken on April 29, 2017 shows Bayern Munich’s Italian head coach Carlo Ancelotti arriving on the pitch prior to the German first division Bundesliga football match between VfL Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich in Wolfsburg, northern Germany. John MACDOUGALL / AFP

Italian Carlo Ancelotti has revealed that he turned down the role of Italy coach preferring to stay in club management.

Ancelotti, 58, was the favourite to take over after Giampiero Ventura was fired following Italy’s shock failure to reach the World Cup final for the first time in 60 years.

“Yes the federation contacted me, I spoke to them. I told them what I am telling you now, that I am honoured by so many people wanting me to be the coach of the national side,” Ancelotti told La Domenica Sportiva television show.

“However, that would be like a whole other job. Being a national coach is different to being a club coach, as I still enjoy training and working every day. Italian football also has some problems that need to be resolved,” said Ancelotti, who is free since being sacked by Bayern Munich at the end of September.

Former Chelsea, Real Madrid, Juventus and AC Milan coach Ancelotti — a three-time Champions League winner — had been the choice of Italian football federation president Carlo Tavecchio who was forced to resign last month.

“Italian football has serious problems and I don’t think I’m capable of resolving them all alone. As usual the coach is blamed but that’s not how it works. There is a structural problem. For example, why are we the only country in Europe where the stadiums aren’t up to scratch and half empty? That isn’t the fault of Ventura.”

He added: “I realise there is a conflict of interests between clubs and federations, as there is in Germany, France and England, but right now Italian football needs the Federation to impose its power over the clubs and impose new rules to improve the situation.

“For example, I think Serie A would benefit greatly by being reduced from 20 teams to 18 and I know there are clubs who are ready to vote for that.”

AFP

Judge Keeps Catalan Ex-Vice President, Three Other Leaders In Jail

Catalan pro-independence center-right grouping Junts per Catalunya – JUNTSXCAT (All for Catalonia) candidate for the upcoming regional election in Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, speaks via video-conference to present their electoral program at the party’s headquarters in Barcelona on December 3, 2017. PAU BARRENA / AFP

Catalonia’s sacked vice president and three other separatist leaders will remain in prison pending a probe over their role in the region’s independence drive, a Supreme Court judge decided Monday.

Oriol Junqueras, who was sacked as vice-president when the Catalan parliament declared independence on October 27, Joaquim Forn, who used to be in charge of interior matters in Catalonia, and the leaders of two pro-independence associations will stay in prison, the court said in a statement. Six other former ministers who were also remanded in custody will be released on bail.

AFP

Catalan Leader Puigdemont Faces Belgian Extradition Hearing

Catalan regional government president Carles Puigdemont delivers a speech on the sidelines of a wreath-laying ceremony commemorating the 77th anniversary of the death of Catalan leader Lluis Companys at the Montjuic Cemetery in Barcelona on October 15, 2017. Companys had proclaimed a “Catalan state in the Spanish federal republic” in 1934 to oppose the conservatives who governed in Madrid. Exiled in France, Companys was denounced by the Nazis in 1940 and handed over to Spain where he was executed.
PAU BARRENA / AFP

Axed Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont arrived Monday for an extradition hearing in Belgium as Spain seeks to have him sent back to face sedition charges over his region’s independence drive.

A judge sitting behind closed doors in Brussels will hear from lawyers for Puigdemont and four of his former ministers, who all fled to Belgium in October despite a summons to appear in court in Spain, claiming they would not get a fair trial.

Prosecutors last month asked the judge to approve the European arrest warrant issued by Madrid for the five in the opening round of what could become a protracted courtroom battle.

A police source said Puigdemont and the others had arrived for the hearing, which comes on the eve of the official start of campaigning for December 21 elections in Catalonia.

Madrid wants the polls to “restore normality” to the wealthy northeastern region, which declared independence unilaterally following a hotly disputed October 1 referendum.

Puigdemont’s lawyer said at the weekend he will remain in Belgium until after the elections.

“No matter what, they will be (in Brussels) till at least December 21 and according to my calculations this could go on till mid-January,” lawyer Jaume Alonso Cuevillas told Catalan radio Rac1, referring to Puigdemont and the four former ministers.

“I am convinced that no matter what happens they will have recourse to an appeal,” the lawyer said.

– Legal tangle? –

Spanish prosecutors want to prosecute Puigdemont and his former ministers for rebellion — which carries a maximum 30-year jail sentence — and sedition for their role in the independence drive, as well as for misusing public funds.

Meanwhile a Spanish Supreme Court judge is set to decide whether or not to free 10 other separatist leaders who were jailed pending a probe into their role in the Catalan independence drive.

Any release on bail would mark a turn in the election campaign, particularly for separatist parties who have repeatedly accused Madrid of taking “political prisoners” and “repression” after their attempt to declare unilateral independence fell flat.

Puigdemont and his cadres say the charges against them are politically motivated and as both sides are likely to appeal if the judge rules against them in the extradition hearing, the case could drag on for months, according to the Belgian justice minister.

Christophe Marchand, lawyer for two of Puigdemont’s ex-ministers, told AFP that “the facts as written in the arrest warrant are not punishable under Belgian law”, saying the case was an attempt to punish a “political process that passed off peacefully”.

After Monday’s hearing the court is expected to make its ruling in eight to 10 days, according to the Brussels prosecutor’s office.

A spokesman for Puigdemont said Friday he would “respect the schedule” of the Belgian legal process.

AFP

Four Injured As Pedestrian Bridge Collapses In Prague

(File Copy)

Four people were injured, two of them seriously, when a pedestrian bridge collapsed near Prague zoo on Saturday, rescuers said.

“A 60-year-old man was put in an artificial coma and a 63-year-old woman was also taken to hospital with multiple injuries,” Prague ambulance spokeswoman Jana Postova told AFP.

“We also treated men aged 34 and 43 on the spot with less serious injuries, and we took them to hospital too,” she said, adding that all four had fallen with the bridge as it collapsed around 1:00 pm (1200 GMT).

Built in 1984, the concrete bridge across the Vltava river, in the north of the Czech capital, was 260 metres (850 feet) long and used by pedestrians and cyclists.

Czech media said a city company in charge of Prague’s bridges had complained some time ago that the bridge’s 156 steel ropes were corroded.

AFP

Hamas Accuses Palestinian Authority Of Blocking Reconciliation

(FILES) This file photo taken on October 12, 2017 shows Fatah’s Azzam al-Ahmad (R) and Saleh al-Aruri (L) of Hamas shaking hands after signing a reconciliation deal in Cairo. Hamas, the Islamist movement that has run the Gaza Strip for a decade, has been seeking to end its long feud with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah, but its powerful armed wing may prove to be a dealbreaker. KHALED DESOUKI / AFP

The Islamist movement Hamas on Saturday accused the Palestinian Authority of blocking a landmark unity deal and called for a lifting of its sanctions on the Gaza Strip.

“We demand that the government of (prime minister) Rami Hamdallah assume its responsibilities in full and lift the unjust sanctions imposed on our people in Gaza,” said Hamas, the faction which controls the coastal enclave.

The Gaza Strip has been blockaded by Israel for a decade, while its only other land border — with Egypt — has also been largely sealed in recent years.

In addition, Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmud Abbas has imposed a string of punitive measures against Gaza, where basic infrastructure for its two million residents is severely lacking.

Residents receive only a few hours of electricity per day, and UN officials have said the densely-populated and impoverished territory is becoming rapidly unliveable.

The PA, dominated by Fatah, was scheduled to take over control of Gaza by December 1 under a landmark unity deal signed in October, but the deadline passed with the two factions accusing each other of not respecting the accord.

In its statement Saturday, Hamas charged that the Palestinian government based in the West Bank had “made no effort to lift the sanctions and ease the sufferings of the people of Gaza”.

The PA, in a statement of its own, dismissed the charges as “irresponsible”.

Abbas’s PA, seeking to squeeze Hamas, has in recent months reduced the amount it pays Israel for electricity to be piped to Gaza.

The Hamas statement referred to the electricity shortages and the fate of tens of thousands of civil servants hired by Hamas, which seized the enclave in 2007 in a near civil war with Fatah.

On Wednesday, PA employees were prevented from returning to work at a number of ministries in Gaza, and the handover of power in Gaza has been delayed by at least 10 days.

It is now expected to take place on December 10, following talks later Saturday in Cairo between Hamas and Fatah, sources closes to both factions have said.

AFP