Why Using Phones At Checkpoint Is Wrong – Military Chief

Major-General Mohammed was a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily

 

The use of phones when approaching a military checkpoint is wrong because it is a security loophole, Chief of Civil-Military Affairs, Major-General Usman Mohammed said on Monday.

Major-General Mohammed was a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily when he was asked why the military frowns on motorists using their phones while approaching a checkpoint.

“It is a security measure for when you are approaching a checkpoint,” he said, “you don’t make phone calls. Because the tendency is that if you are making a phone call, you might be communicating with some bad guys. Or you may use that particular device to set up some certain devices. 

“It is a general convention; it is not peculiar to Nigeria, it is everywhere; people who have travelled abroad know that you don’t make phone calls when approaching a checkpoint.”

Meanwhile, the Major-General stressed that relations between the military and civilians were improving.

He also noted that while human rights violations have not been eliminated, the military is working assiduously to limit such crimes.

“We soldiers are part of the society,” he said. “We didn’t fall from the sky. We are a product of the society in which we are operating. Where you have one or two individuals behaving differently from what the military stands for, you don’t say everybody is abusing human rights.

“Where those occur, we identify those individuals, investigate and sanctions are applied.

“But generally, we are doing a lot in terms of educating our personnel, and also we are instituting measures to ensure that human rights violations are reduced to the barest minimum.”

‘Military Is Recruiting Young Nigerians To Innovate’

Major-General Ezugwu was a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.

 

The Nigerian military is heavily investing in young Nigerians to build innovative solutions to the country’s national security challenges, the Director-General of the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), Major-General Victor Ezugwu, said on Monday.

Major-General Ezugwu was a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.

He said the investment was initiated by President Muhammdu Buhari’s decision to upscale the military’s ability to build its own technology. 

“The President ordered us to look into local content for developing strategies and equipment for military solutions to our national security challenges,” he said. “And DICOM is the hub of that solution to our national defence equipment production.”

On December 3, President Muhammadu Buhari unveiled Made-in-Nigeria Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles and Major-General Ezugwu noted that the production of the vehicles was mostly done by Nigerians.

“We are using local content up to 70 percent in the production of the armoured fighting vehicles that was recently commissioned by the President.

“And we have gathered some Nigerians who I know are blessed with a lot of human resources. We have gathered engineers. All of them are Nigerians, no foreign advisers or consultant that produced the Ezegwu MRAPs that Mr President has commissioned. The oldest among them is 31 years old.”

DICON has produced ten MRAP units for the army and have signed a contract to produce another 28 units. 

“We still need a kind of production line that will enable us to increase the number we can churn out within a given amount of time. The Minister of Defence is helping us with that.”

According to the Major-General, the ten MRAPs were produced within a period of seven months. “We outsourced some parts to our collaborators,” he said. “The Chief of Army Staff has said his joy will be when we reduce foreign content to 10 percent. 

Major-General Ezugwu added that DICON was also looking to solve other technical challenges for the military.

“Apart from the MRAP, we have looked into the problems in the north-east and we have begun to address the issues. We have developed a mines-sweeper and mines-roller that is going to address the issues of landmines. We are producing ballistics and helmet for the military and other equipment, all locally.”

 

Saving Foreign Exchange

Major-General Ezugwu said the focus on local innovation is already saving the country some foreign exchange.

“We are saving a lot of money that would have been used by contractors to import these things abroad,” he said.

“The MRAP we produce here locally is about a unit cost of N70m; those we import from abroad cost us in the neighborhood of between $500,000 to $1,000,000. So we are trying to reduce capital flight in Nigeria. 

“We need homegrown solutions for our problems. Let us, DICON and Command Engineering Depot in Kaduna, which is a Nigerian army establishment, to go into production of these MRAPs. We looked at all other MRAPs that other countries in Europe have produced, so we now designed one that can address the terrain in the north-east. Because when you get a MRAP from abroad, the issue of our weather and environment may not be so much captured in production.”

 

A Starting Point

The Major-General went on to stress that the MRAP production was a starting point.

“In the next five years, if this feat is sustained, I can assure you that we might not have any need to import any vehicle into this country for military purposes.”

Although DICON has been in existence since the 1960s, the Major-General noted that its operation is being ramped up by the current administration. 

“This is the time that we have a strategic leader who thinks ahead, who is desirous to ensure that Nigeria’s defence capacities are enhanced. Also, I must thank the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, for having the courage to assist the DICON and Command Engineering Depot to achieve this project.

“The funding of the (MRAP) project, which is valued at well over a billion naira was drawn from the support of the army’s headquarters. 

“The fact that we have not made an inroad into defence production in the past is because the environment, the strategic guidance, was not actually there. But now we have leaders both at the military and political levels that support defence industry production. And that is why things are going the way they are going.”

My Party Originated Hate Speech – APC Chieftain

 

A human rights advocate and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Joshua Alobo, on Monday, insinuated that his party originated activities that can now be interpreted as hate speech in the current administration.

Mr Alobo was responding to a question on Sunrise Daily, about the Department of State Services’ treatment of founder of RevolutionNow, Omoyele Sowore.

He said he was “seriously embarrassed” by the situation as Sowore was “among those who canvassed for the ‘change’ mantra.”

“APC, in which I am a chieftain, originates hate speech,” Mr Alobo, who is the President of the International Human Rights and Development Centre, continued.

“Look at what happened at . . . even Lai Muhammed and the rest, nobody was arrested. Look at the fuel subsidy protest at the freedom square. If not that Jonathan was proactive to deploy soldiers . . . I was in Abuja; even though I wasn’t in the general protest, I was using my vehicle to monitor the whole situation. 

“So a lot of showbiz was going on during the Jonathan administration, they don’t look at it as a threat to the government. What is Sowore? They are just making the guy to be too popular, I don’t know him as a person. But they have been reading Sahara Reporters right from Jonathan era, a lot of information has been disclosed and all those things. 

 

Mr. Joshua Alobo was a guest on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily on Monday

 

“So if a media practitioner cannot express his opinion, then what will he do? And this is a man that has the pedigree of activism right from University. So the DSS for goodness sake should not bring another terrorist group. It is the suppression of Yusuf Muhammed that escalated into what we have now as Boko Haram.”

Sowore was re-arrested by the DSS on Friday less than 24 hours after he was released from the agency’s custody. The move has drawn condemnation from several quarters, including Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka and the US government.

However, the DSS has said Sowore was re-arrested because he resorted to “acts inimical to security” shortly after being released from its custody.

World Bank Now Reducing Lending To China After Trump Outburst

The bank, which is led by former US Treasury official David Malpass, defended its approach in a brief statement.

 

The World Bank said Saturday its lending to China has fallen sharply and will continue to be pared back, after US President Donald Trump demanded it stop altogether.

“Why is the World Bank loaning money to China? Can this be possible? China has plenty of money, and if they don’t, they create it. STOP!” Trump wrote on Twitter Friday.

The bank, which is led by former US Treasury official David Malpass, defended its approach in a brief statement.

“World Bank lending to China has fallen sharply and will continue to reduce as part of our agreement with all our shareholders including the United States.

“We eliminate lending as countries get richer,” it said.

Trump was reiterating a position long held by his administration, including Malpass prior to his election as the current head of the World Bank.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told US lawmakers Thursday that the United States “has objected” to the institution’s multi-year program of loans and projects in China.

That program, which includes plans to reduce lending to China, was adopted on Thursday.

The program “reflects the evolution of our relationship with China,” Martin Raiser, World Bank Country Director for China, said on Thursday. “Our engagement will be increasingly selective.”

Trump’s very public stance comes amid negotiations between Washington and Beijing seeking to end the US president’s 18-month-long trade war, which is aimed at forcing China to make concessions on protecting American businesses and reducing its trade surplus.

There is a great deal of uncertainty about the date of a possible partial agreement, which Trump said was imminent in October.

 

AFP

Russian-Linked Air Strikes Kill 19 In Northwestern Syria

A Syrian man comforts another on the rubble of a building after a reported Russian airstrike on a popular market in the village of Balyun in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province, on December 7, 2019.

 

Syrian regime and Russian air strikes on Saturday killed 19 civilians, eight of them children, in the country’s last major opposition bastion, a war monitor said.

The air raids in the jihadist-run northwestern region of Idlib also wounded several others, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Air strikes by regime ally Russia killed four civilians including a child in the village of Al-Bara in the south of the region, the Observatory said.

An AFP correspondent at the scene saw rescue workers pick through the rubble of a two-storey home whose concrete roof had collapsed.

Rescuers carried away the body of a victim wrapped in a blanket on a stretcher.

Russian raids also killed nine civilians including three children in the nearby village of Balyun, the Observatory said.

Crude barrel bombs dropped by government helicopters killed five civilians including three children in the village of Abadeeta, also in the same area.

In the southeast of the embattled region, a raid by a regime aircraft killed another child in the village of Bajghas, the Observatory said.

The Britain-based monitor, which relies on a network of sources inside Syria, says it determines the provenance of an air strike by looking at flight patterns and the aircraft and munitions involved.

The Idlib region, which is home to some three million people including many displaced by Syria’s civil war, is controlled by the country’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate.

The Damascus regime has repeatedly vowed to take back control of Idlib.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces launched a blistering military campaign against the region in April, killing around 1,000 civilians and displacing more than 400,000 people from their homes.

A ceasefire announced by Moscow has largely held since late August.

But the Observatory says deadly bombardment and skirmishes have persisted, with more than 200 civilians killed in the region since the deal.

Syria’s war has killed over 370,000 people and displaced millions from their homes since beginning in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-Assad protests.

 

AFP

New EU Chief Pledges ‘Strong’ Support For Africa

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a briefing to the press during her visit to the African Union in Addis Ababa, on December 7, 2019. EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP

 

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen assured Africa of the EU’s strong support during a visit to Ethiopia on Saturday, her first trip outside Europe since assuming her post.

The former German defence minister, who took office on December 1, landed in the capital Addis Ababa in the morning and headed to the African Union headquarters for talks with AU chief Moussa Faki Mahamat.

“I hope my presence at the African Union can send a strong political message because the African continent and the African Union matter to the European Union and to the European Commission,” she said after the meeting.

“For us, for the European Union, you are more than just a neighbour.”

Von der Leyen, who has prioritised the fight against climate chang, said the EU and AU could collaborate on the issue.

“You here on the African continent understand climate change better than anyone else,” she said.

She and Faki also discussed migration and security issues.

“Honestly I don’t have all the answers to these challenges but I am convinced that together we can find answers,” she said.

Faki for his part called for greater international mobilisation to counter security threats, including terrorism.

‘We are at your side’

Von der Leyen also met with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, congratulating him on winning this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

“I think that Ethiopia has given hope to the whole continent,” she said, adding that “I want you to know that we are at your side”.

Abiy thanked her for the EU’s support but said he hoped for more funding to spur economic reforms.

“We’re still demanding more financial support because we are ambitious. As Madam President mentioned, when you are a young prime minister you are also more ambitious and you want to deliver more,” said Abiy, who will receive his Nobel in Oslo on Tuesday.

The EU and Ethiopia also signed agreements worth 170 million euros ($188 million) on Saturday.

Of that sum, 100 million euros will go towards transport and infrastructure in the East African country, 50 million for the health sector, 10 million for job creation and 10 million for elections ahead of landmark polls next year.

Saturday’s agenda also included a sit-down between von der Leyen, the commission’s first woman president, and Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde, the first woman to hold that title.

Speaking to journalists after her meetings, von der Leyen said it was “important” for the EU to continue to support Abiy’s ambitious reform agenda.

“They have started but we need a long breath to see the effects that these reforms are bringing along,” she said.

Migration and security

The EU is Africa’s largest trading partner and biggest source of foreign investment and development aid.

But the two blocs have struggled in recent years to find ways to curb the number of African migrants heading north to Europe using perilous sea routes.

Just this week at least 62 migrants died when a boat capsized off the coast of Mauritania.

Both African and European officials are keen to address the root causes of migration like poverty.

The EU has also been a strong supporter of the AU’s peace and security efforts.

Its African Peace Facility, a mechanism established in 2004, has allocated more than 2.7 billion euros for peace and security operations, targeting 14 African-led operations in 18 countries.

Yet European officials have signalled they want to shift away from providing stipends for troops in places such as Somalia, where the EU is a main backer of the regional peacekeeping force known as AMISOM.

The AU has struggled to get member states to impose a 0.2 percent levy on eligible imports so the body can provide more of its own financing — an initiative the EU supports.

So far just 17 African countries have followed through on that commitment.

 

AFP

Flood Kills 12 People In Western Uganda – Red Cross

At least 20 people have been killed as a result of floods and mudslides in the last week in Uganda.

 

Twelve people have been swept to their deaths by floods in western Uganda, the Red Cross said on Saturday, as the East African country is battered by torrential rain.

“We have recovered 12 bodies from the water and one person has been rushed to hospital with serious injuries,” said Diana Tumuhimbise, Red Cross branch manager in the Bundibugyo district.

“The rain started last night and continued until 9:00 am (0600 GMT),” she told AFP on Saturday.

“Several houses have been swept away, roads have been blocked and some washed away completely.”

The Red Cross has launched a search and rescue operation with the police, military and community members in 12 affected areas but it is not yet clear how many people are missing.

Rain is hampering communication in the remote location, on the border with DR Congo and separated from the rest of Uganda by the Rwenzori mountains.

At least 20 people have been killed as a result of floods and mudslides in the last week in Uganda.

The extreme weather has been blamed on the Indian Ocean Dipole — a climate system defined by the difference in sea surface temperature between western and eastern areas of the ocean.

At the moment, the ocean around East Africa is far warmer than usual, resulting in higher evaporation and moist air flowing inwards over the continent as rain: the hallmarks of a “positive” dipole.

Scientists warn that as ocean temperatures rise because of climate change, Indian Ocean dipoles will become more frequent and severe.

 

AFP

Rwandan Cycling Boss Resigns Over Corruption, Sexual Harassment Allegations

Cycling is a much-loved sport in the country, and President Kagame once considered making it the national sport.

 

The president of the Rwanda Cycling Federation, Aimable Bayingana, has resigned following multiple allegations of corruption and sexually abusing female riders.

Bayingana stood down together with his entire executive committee including two vice-presidents, advisors, secretary general and treasurer.

He is also the spokesperson of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), which has ruled Rwanda since 1994 under strongman President Paul Kagame.

The federation authorities declined to comment on the development.

The Rwanda Investigative Bureau announced that they had received “the case and it is under investigation” and were not willing to comment further.

The sports ministry is also investigating the allegations.

“The resignations by the cycling federation officials happened last evening and we are also investigating the allegations. But since these are crimes, we cannot comment any further; we will leave it to Rwanda Investigative Bureau to do its work,” Shema Maboko, Permanent Secretary at the sports ministry, told AFP.

Following the scandal, the ministry of sports is now planning to introduce a policy against sexual abuse that will govern all sports federations and activities in the country.

The scandal rocking the federation unfolded after the former national team coach Jonathan ‘Jock’ Boyer and Kimberly Coats, also founders of the Africa Rising Cycling Centre in Rwanda’s Northern Province, fell out with Bayingana and exposed the goings-on in the cycling federation.

The duo, credited for the success of the national team, left Rwanda after disagreeing with Bayingana on several issues affecting cycling.

In an open letter addressed to Bayingana, published by a local publication, American Boyer accused the cycling federation boss of frustrating efforts to develop the sport, arrogance, having excessive power, mistreating cyclists and sexual harassment among other accusations.

“We are aware that sexual assault and corruption happens and it is our prerogative to fight it. We are strong on it. We have been using the national policies against sexual exploitation,” Maboko added.

Investigations into Bayingana began shortly after local media reported that he was allegedly sexually exploiting female riders –- most of whom are poor and uneducated.

Cycling is a much loved sport in the country, and President Kagame once considered making it the national sport.

 

AFP

Broke Hong Kong Airline Handed Lifeline

The Hong Kong airline is owned by struggling Chinese conglomerate HNA Group

 

Cash-strapped carrier Hong Kong Airlines was handed a lifeline by regulators on Saturday after they decided not to punish it for delaying salary payments amid an ongoing financial crisis.

The international finance hub has seen six months of protests which has dealt a massive blow to the tourism sector and airline operators.

Hong Kong Airlines is owned by struggling Chinese conglomerate HNA Group, which has been looking to lower its debt burden.

Last month the carrier announced it would delay salary payments to some staff as it struggled to find cash, triggering a warning from regulators that their license might be at risk.

But earlier this week, the company announced it had found a last minute injection of funds.

“The Civil Aviation Department has been satisfied that Hong Kong Airlines is able to continue to operate properly and safely,” a spokesman for the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department said on Saturday.

The city’s Air Transport Licensing Authority (ATLA) said on the same day that the airline has met the conditions for raising and maintaining its cash level.

The authority added that it will continue to monitor the carrier’s operation closely.

In late November, the carrier said its business was “severely affected” by the social unrest in the city and a sustained weak travel demand, which also impacted its payroll.

The licensing authority later required the airline to raise a significant amount of funds within a deadline in order to prevent its financial situation from deteriorating and to protect public interests.

Earlier this year, HNA unloaded budget carrier HK Express to rival Cathay Pacific and cut some operations.

On Wednesday, in a letter to staff and colleagues, the carrier’s chairman Hou Wei said “an initial cash injection plan has been drawn up.”

Although the amount of cash was not disclosed, the chairman said the company would pay outstanding salaries to staff on Thursday and the airline’s services will gradually return to normal as soon as the funds arrive.

The tourism industry in Hong Kong has been battered by nearly six months of pro-democracy protests that have become increasingly violent.

Visitor arrivals have tanked with arrivals from the Chinese mainland plummeting, hammering retail sales and helping to tip the city into recession.

 

AFP

Premier League Recap: United Win Manchester Bragging Rights

Manchester United’s English striker Marcus Rashford (C) celebrates scoring the opening goal from the penalty spot during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on December 7, 2019. Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

Manchester United delivered a potentially fatal blow to Manchester City’s Premier League title hopes on Saturday after leaders Liverpool secured the Christmas number one spot with victory against Bournemouth.

City came into the match at the Etihad knowing they had to win after Jurgen Klopp’s men coasted to a 3-0 victory on England’s south coast but succumbed to United’s lightning-quick attacks, losing 2-1.

Earlier, Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham blitzed Burnley 5-0, with Son Heung-min scoring a sensational individual goal, to close to within six points of fourth-placed Chelsea, who went down 3-1 to Everton at Goodison Park.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United side started the evening match at the Etihad buoyed by their victory against Spurs in midweek and were immediately on the front foot, sprinting forward at every opportunity.

Marcus Rashford opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the 23rd minute and Anthony Martial doubled the visitors’ lead six minutes later.

City came back strongly, dominating possession, but could not force a breakthrough and the visitors continued to look dangerous on the break.

Eventually City’s pressure paid off, with Nicolas Otamendi’s late header sparking a frantic wave of City attacks but they failed to find an equaliser and are now 14 points behind Liverpool. United are up to fifth.

Klopp’s team took advantage of playing before their closest rivals to widen the gulf at the top of the table to 11 points, with Leicester not in action until Sunday, meaning Liverpool cannot be caught by December 25.

Klopp, mindful of a fixture pile-up for his side, made seven changes from the 5-2 midweek victory against Everton, with Sadio Mane dropping to the bench and Alisson Becker back in goal following suspension.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain opened the scoring for the European champions in the 35th minute and Liverpool made it 2-0 just before the break when Naby Keita played a fine one-two with Mohamed Salah and finished from close range, with Keita turning provider for Salah in the 54th minute.

It was Liverpool’s first clean sheet in any match since late September.

“Yes, it was (perfect), 100 percent,” said the manager.

“We scored wonderful goals, we had more chances and did really well and we were really uncomfortable to play against.

“From 3-0 on we controlled the game absolutely. The players didn’t like it too much, they wanted to be really loud in these moments but I didn’t want to see any unnecessary risk. It was maybe not the most exciting but necessary.”

Son stunner for Spurs

Spurs flew out of the blocks at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Harry Kane scored twice and there were also goals for Lucas Moura and Moussa Sissoko but it was Son Heung-min’s goal that caught the eye.

With Spurs already 2-0 up, Son stole the show just after the half hour, running from deep inside his own half past a host of Burnley defenders and capped the astonishing burst with an ice-cool finish.

Spurs are still six points behind fourth-placed Chelsea but will fancy their chances of closing the gap on their London rivals, who are stumbling after a six-game winning run earlier in the season.

“A perfect day,” Mourinho told the BBC. “No injuries, a clean sheet, goals, perfect football, kids coming on for first Premier League football.”

Everton made it a miserable day for Frank Lampard’s Chelsea thanks to an early strike from Brazil forward Richarlison and two goals from England under-21 international Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Former Everton player Duncan Ferguson, in charge for the first time of the Toffees after the sacking of Marco Silva, refused to talk up his chances of getting the coaching job full-time, telling BT Sport: “I’m sure they’re out there looking for other candidates, and rightly so. We want the best guys in the world managing our football club.”

Watford, who appointed former Leicester boss Nigel Pearson as their new manager on Friday, were unable to force their second win of the season, drawing 0-0 with Crystal Palace.

 

AFP

Gambia Vows To Crackdown On Traffickers After Death Of 60 Migrants

This image grab taken from an AFP video shows boats in the water at a beach, in Barra on December 5, 2019, after at least 62 people died on December 4, 2019 when their makeshift vessel capsized off the coast of Mauritania, including migrants from Gambia. Romain CHANSON / AFPTV / AFP

 

Gambian President Adama Barrow on Saturday vowed to punish people traffickers as he mourned the deaths of 60 Europe-bound migrants who drowned off Mauritania when their boat capsized.

“To lose 60 young lives at sea is a national tragedy and a matter of grave concern to my government,” he said on national television.

“A full police investigation has been launched to get to the bottom of this serious national disaster. The culprits will be prosecuted according to law”, he added.

Barrow said 60 people were confirmed dead in Wednesday’s tragedy.

He said funds had been sent to Mauritania to cater to the immediate needs of the survivors admitted to hospital and to finance their repatriation.

The boat was attempting to reach Spain’s Canary Islands — a perilous and poorly monitored route along West Africa’s coast — when their boat hit a rock.

Barrow pledged to “fast track prosecution of cases involving human trafficking.

“Law enforcement officials are also instructed to increase surveillance and arrest… criminals involved in human trafficking”, he said.

“Also, I have been informed that 189 people have been intercepted by the Mauritanian authorities. Arrangements have been made to transport them back to Banjul,” the Gambia capital, he added.

On Friday, Mauritanian authorities intercepted a vessel carrying 192 Gambian migrants headed for Spain, a Mauritanian security source told AFP.

The boat left Banjul on Monday and was intercepted in the high seas off Mauritania. The passengers were brought back to Nouamghar, about 150 kilometres (95 miles) north of the capital Nouakchott and were given food and blankets.

The sinking off Mauritania is the largest known loss of life along the so-called western migration route this year, and the sixth deadliest migrant capsize globally, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Mauritanian authorities said the boat had been carrying between 150 and 180 people when it sank.

Eight-three people survived the disaster by swimming ashore.

Migrant passages along the route from West African countries to the Canary Islands have increased recently as authorities clamp down on crossings to Europe from Libya.

Some 158 people are known to have died trying to reach the Canary Islands so far this year, according to the IOM, against 43 last year.

 

AFP

Lebanon Protest: Man Sets Himself On Fire

Lebanon is on the verge of economic collapse amid political paralysis and an ongoing protest movement.

 

A man in Lebanon tried to self-immolate during a protest in Beirut on Saturday, the Lebanese Red Cross said, before protesters extinguished the flames.

Protesters in Riad al-Solh Square smothered the flames with jackets and blankets, an AFP photographer said.

The man, who did not lose consciousness, was evacuated in a Red Cross ambulance.

“A man set fire to himself, a Lebanese Red Cross team intervened,” the organisation wrote on Twitter.

The official ANI news agency reported that a man in his forties had doused himself in petrol before setting himself alight.

While the reason for his action was not known, Lebanon is on the verge of economic collapse amid political paralysis and an ongoing protest movement.

On Saturday, dozens gathered in the central Riad al-Solh Square for another demonstration against the country’s ruling elite.

Protests began on October 17, mobilising hundreds of thousands of Lebanese demanding an end to corruption and incompetent leadership.

Lebanon’s financial situation, already precarious before the protests, has deteriorated markedly since. In recent weeks, thousands of people have lost their jobs or had their salaries slashed.

Several cases of suicide have been reported in recent days, with financial difficulties believed to be a motivating factor.

In February, a Lebanese man died from severe burns after setting himself on fire at his daughter’s school over a fee dispute with the management.

The World Bank has warned of an impending recession that may see the proportion of people living in poverty climb from a third to half the population.

Unemployment, already above 30 per cent for young people, would also increase, it has said.

Outgoing Prime Minister Saad Hariri asked Arab and Western allies for financial help on Friday.

An $11 billion (10 billion euro) aid package pledged at a conference dubbed CEDRE in Paris in April 2018 has not been unlocked by donors for lack of reform.

 

AFP