The African Union chief on Thursday highlighted “differences” over topics such as international justice and gay rights at a meeting with the European Union intended to deepen the partnership between the two continents.
Thursday’s talks marked the second visit by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to AU headquarters in the Ethiopian capital in less than three months.
“Certainly, we have our differences. International criminal justice, sexual orientation and identity, the death penalty, the centrality of the African Union in certain crises, etcetera,” Moussa Faki Mahamat, chair of the African Union Commission, said in remarks opening a meeting between AU and EU leaders.
Calling these differences “normal”, Faki said they could be overcome only with “recognition and acceptance”.
In December von der Leyen chose to visit the AU on her first trip outside Europe after taking her post, a decision she said at the time was intended to send a “strong political message” about Europe’s partnership with Africa.
Von der Leyen is in the process of preparing a new “Africa Strategy” for the EU, due to be unveiled in early March.
In her own remarks Thursday, she said the two continents were “natural partners” and stressed areas of cooperation like trade and the fight against climate change.
Later at a press conference she said she believed the two blocs could work through the disagreements Faki had pointed out.
“This is what the essence of a good partnership and a good friendship is. You build on a solid foundation with common projects you can work on, and you’re able to mark very clearly where differences are,” she said. “We try to convince but we acknowledge that there are different positions.”
“We should not follow the notion of expecting the African Union to adapt to the European Union,” she added.
The majority of African countries criminalise same-sex sexual acts.
Various African countries have resisted efforts to try African leaders at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. In 2017, Burundi became the first country to pull out of the court altogether.
-Contrasts with China-
Europe was expected to use Thursday’s talks to promote trade and economic cooperation in response to “the flood of Chinese investment in the continent”, said Mikaela Gavas, senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development, an international non-profit foundation.
But the question of human rights remains a major potential barrier to deeper cooperation, Gavas said.
“African countries will not want to be lectured on governance and human rights,” she said.
Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign affairs minister, drew a distinction between European and Chinese engagement in Africa, saying that China “gives nothing” while Europe is “a big donor”.
“We have a development vision that’s different from the Chinese vision,” he told AFP, adding that EU leaders stressed political freedoms, human rights and other topics to which the Chinese are “not as attentive”.
Borrell was set to stay on in Ethiopia Friday to meet with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who is trying to steer the country toward landmark elections in August.
He will then head to Sudan, which is going through its own transition after longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir was toppled last year.
“Ethiopia and Sudan are two big lights of hope” for Europe, Borrell said. “We have a great interest that the Ethiopian and Sudanese experiences do not shatter.”
FIFA on Monday slapped a lifetime ban on the disgraced former boss of Brazilian football, Jose Maria Marin after a US court convicted him of massive corruption.
The 86-year-old Marin was one of the key figures swept up in the graft scandal that began with a series of stunning arrests in 2015 and subsequently upended world football.
He had already been sentenced to four years in a US prison after a court in New York found him guilty in connection with nearly $6.6 million in bribes from sports marketing companies in exchange for contracts to broadcast major tournaments.
But the decision from FIFA’s independent ethics judges definitively confirms that Marin is finished in football.
FIFA’s ethics committee said in a statement that Marin had participated in various bribery schemes.
Judges “banned him for life from all football-related activities (administrative, sports or any other) at both national and international level”, a FIFA statement said.
Novak Djokovic insisted Sunday no decision had been taken about ousting ATP Tour chief Chris Kermode after reports of a player revolt against the way the sport was being run.
Britain’s Daily Telegraph said a move was underway to topple the Briton, citing a strongly worded email sent by ATP player council member Vasek Pospisil to players ranked between 50 and 100.
It reportedly called for the workforce to “start acting and running like a business, not like a bunch of scared kids … we need a CEO that first and foremost represents OUR interests”.
The email added that “the governance structure of the ATP favours the interests of the tournaments and its (their) owners … It’s time for a change and it can be achieved by staying unified and demanding what we deserve for our hard work”.
The newspaper said the ATP board — comprised of three tournament representatives and three player representatives — would vote on a possible renewal of Kermode’s contract this month.
He needs two of the three board members from each side of the ATP to support him.
The ATP players council, headed by Djokovic, met in Melbourne on Saturday and reportedly voted 5-4 against Kermode continuing in his role.
Asked for clarity in a press conference Sunday, Djokovic said: “I don’t know where you got that information, a 5-4.
“That information is completely confidential, so I can’t speak about anything that we spoke about in that room.”
The world number one added: “The decision hasn’t been made on the president. He’s still president. He’ll remain president till the end of his term.
“Whether there’s a renewal or not, it’s going to be decided in the next period.”
One man who has been touted as a potential replacement is Tennis Australia and Australian Open boss Craig Tiley.
Roger Federer said he wanted to speak with his colleagues about what was going on.
“We’ve had a good five, six years now under Chris’s leadership. Obviously, it’s an important role,” he said.
“We need to look at it very thoroughly. I need to speak with Novak, Rafa (Nadal), and Andy (Murray) a little bit just to get their take on it all.”
In recent days Stan Wawrinka and Nick Kyrgios have expressed support for Kermode, illustrating the divided nature of the men’s game.
Top Australian coach Darren Cahill, who until recently was working with world number one Simona Halep, said he would be stunned if Kermode was removed.
“Big increases in prize money, pension plan, new events, doubles initiative supporter, new progressive rules for injured players & LL’s (lucky losers), challenger increases, facility upgrades ++,” he tweeted.
“I’d be stunned if Chris Kermode is removed. ATP needs stability right now.”
Adding to the ATP board woes was member Justin Gimelstob pleading not guilty last month to a felony battery charge in a Los Angeles court.
The two-time Grand Slam mixed doubles champion was accused of attacking one-time friend Randall Kaplan. He pleaded not guilty.
“With the board member (Gimelstob), we know the situation. It’s pending,” said Federer.
“But it’s definitely interesting times, I’d like to call it, not bad times in our sport,” he added.
“I think it’s maybe also a bit of a transition time. So it will be interesting to see what’s going to happen.”
Djokovic said the players’ council was “comfortable” with Gimelstob remaining a board member despite the charges against him.
“If he is not proven guilty, he stays innocent, or he’s proven guilty, that’s a completely different situation for us and we have to address it,” he said.
Egypt has appointed Major General Khaled Megawer to serve as the head of the country’s military intelligence service, replacing Mohamed al-Shahat, two security sources told Reuters on Sunday.
Egypt’s military and intelligence services play a leading role in top-level decision making, taking a more public role since current president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi led the 2013 military overthrow of Egypt’s first freely-elected president, Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The sources did not give a reason for al-Shahat’s dismissal, but Sisi has replaced several high-ranking security officials in the military, interior ministry and the general intelligence service over the last couple of years.
Sisi appointed close ally Major General Abbas Kamel to serve as chief of the country’s General Intelligence Service in June, two weeks after replacing the defence and interior ministers.
Megawer previously served as deputy head of the military intelligence body, Commander of the Second Field Army and Defense Attaché at the Egyptian embassy in Washington.
Japanese prosecutors on Monday formally charged Carlos Ghosn with financial misconduct for under-reporting his salary and also served a fresh warrant on separate allegations, meaning the tycoon will likely spend Christmas in a cell.
It represents a stunning turnaround for the 64-year-old Franco-Lebanese-Brazilian executive, a once-revered colossus of the auto sector who won broad acclaim in Japan for saving car giant Nissan.
In a move that sent shockwaves through the business world, the former Nissan chairman was arrested on November 19 on suspicion of under-declaring his income by some five billion yen ($44 million) between 2010 and 2015.
Prosecutors on Monday pressed formal charges on Ghosn — and key aide Greg Kelly — over this allegation, which both men are said to deny.
The pair were also immediately re-arrested over fresh allegations that they conspired to under-declare Ghosn’s income by a further four billion yen over the past three years.
Under Japanese law, suspects can be re-arrested several times for different allegations, allowing prosecutors to question them for prolonged periods — a system that has drawn criticism internationally.
Monday was the final day prosecutors could hold Ghosn and Kelly, 62, before either charging or re-arresting them, and the fresh arrest gives them up to another 22 days of questioning.
In addition to charges against Ghosn and Kelly, prosecutors also indicted Nissan itself, as the company submitted the official documents that under-reported the income.
Nissan shares dropped 2.90 percent to 945 yen in Monday trading.
The car baron Ghosn is in a “combative” frame of mind, according to sources at Renault, the company he still formally leads — even if the French car giant has appointed an interim chairman.
The Japanese firms in the three-way alliance with Renault — Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors — have both sacked Ghosn as chairman.
But amid reports of tension within the tie-up, which outsold all rival groups last year, the three companies last month said they were “fully committed” to the alliance.
The millionaire auto sector star, who attracted some criticism for a perceived lavish lifestyle, is now alone in a spartan cell in a Tokyo detention center, in a tiny room measuring just three tatami mats — around five square meters.
He has reportedly told embassy visitors he is being well treated but has complained of the cold, with Monday’s temperature in the Japanese capital hovering around five degrees Celsius.
He spends his time reading books and news reports and is said to be unhappy about the rice-based food.
According to local news agency Kyodo, he has admitted signing documents to defer part of his salary until after retirement but said this amount did not need to be declared as it has not yet been definitively fixed.
A source close to the investigation has said Ghosn and Kelly allegedly put the system in place after a new law came in obliging the highest-paid members of the firm to declare their salary.
Ghosn is suspected of deferring part of his pay to avoid criticism from staff and shareholders that his salary was too generous.
Nissan is appealing to a court in Rio de Janeiro to block access by Ghosn’s representatives to a luxury apartment on Copacabana Beach.
“We are closely watching if he is actually indicted and then found guilty,” said Satoru Takada, an analyst at TIW, a Tokyo-based research and consulting firm.
“If he is exempted from prosecution or found innocent, it is going to create huge confusion in Nissan’s management,” Takada told AFP.
It is unclear if Ghosn will be bailed before a potential trial.
In Japan, prosecutors and defendants begin a trial at a district court and can appeal to a high court and the Supreme Court. It may take several years before reaching a final judgment.
If found guilty, Ghosn could face a 10-year prison sentence.
The affair represents a staggering fall from grace for a figure celebrated for saving Nissan from the brink of bankruptcy and rebuilding it as a money-making subsidiary of Renault.
Nissan has begun the process of choosing Ghosn’s successor, with the final decision expected on December 17.
His arrest has sparked incredulity at Renault, which now owns 43 percent of Nissan and says it has not seen a detailed account of the charges against Ghosn.
It has also fuelled anger in Lebanon, with digital billboards around Beirut proclaiming “We are all Carlos Ghosn” under a picture of the magnate.
“A Lebanese Phoenix will not be scorched by a Japanese sun,” Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk has declared.
The head of the Russian military intelligence agency linked to a series of notorious operations abroad has died after a long illness, the defense ministry said on Thursday.
Igor Korobov, 62, had headed the military’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) since 2016 and was the target of US sanctions.
He died on Wednesday from a “long and serious illness,” the ministry said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies.
“The dear memory of this great man, a faithful Russian son and a patriot of the Motherland… will remain forever in our hearts,” the ministry said.
His successor has yet to be announced.
The West has accused the powerful agency of a number of attacks on foreign soil including the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with a nerve agent in Britain last March.
Washington has said the GRU was directly involved in interfering in the 2016 US election through “cyber-enabled activities” and the Treasury Department included Korobov on a sanctions list.
Korobov did not participate in a gala marking the centenary of the service in early November when Russian President Vladimir Putin heaped praise on the GRU.
Korobov’s first deputy Igor Kostyukov reportedly presided over the ceremony.
Korobov, who joined military intelligence in 1985, was made a Hero of Russia for his service.
His predecessor, Igor Sergun, died unexpectedly in early January 2016.
The GRU is one of Moscow’s three spy agencies, along with the SVR foreign intelligence agency and the FSB security service.
It has an extensive spy network abroad and its highly trained “Spetsnaz” special forces have fought in various conflicts, including in Afghanistan and Chechnya.
The agency’s structure, staff number, and finances are a state secret. Its emblem is a black bat flying above a globe.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, was on Tuesday crowned the “Nwanne Di Na Mba” of Mmaku Kingdom in Enugu State by Cyprian Nevobasi, the Igwe Omeluenyi 1 of Aguneese, Ezeani III of Nmaku Kingdom in Enugu.
In attendance were the state governor, Mr Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, wife of the SA, Adenike Adesina and other government officials.