Former US secretary of state John Kerry, who lost to George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election, endorsed Joe Biden on Thursday as the Democratic candidate for next year’s White House race.
Kerry, 75, said the former vice president to Barack Obama and longtime senator from Delaware “is the president our country desperately needs right now.”
“I’ve never before seen the world more in need of someone who on day one can begin the incredibly hard work of putting back together the world Donald Trump has smashed apart,” Kerry said in a statement.
Kerry, a former senator from Massachusetts, served as secretary of state during Obama’s second term in office. Kerry and Biden also served for more than two decades together in the US Senate.
Biden, 77, is the current frontrunner in the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, according to an average of national polls by RealClearPolitics.com.
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg are the only other candidates in the crowded field with double-digit support.
“I don’t endorse lightly,” Kerry said. “Joe and I both got into public service to make our country fairer for people and make the world safer.
“I’ve watched Joe do exactly that as a senator, statesman, and vice president,” he said.
“Joe will defeat Donald Trump next November,” Kerry continued. “He’s the candidate with the wisdom and standing to fix what Trump has broken, to restore our place in the world, and improve the lives of working people here at home.”
Kerry said he would join Biden on Friday in Iowa, which holds the first vote in February of the Democratic primary season, and travel with him to New Hampshire, another early-voting state, on Sunday.
Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has accused Barack Obama of pushing for his defeat in the 2015 Presidential election.
Mr Jonathan who lost the election to President Muhammadu Buhari blasted the then United States President of taking an unusual step by “prodding the electorate to vote for the opposition” in the election.
The claim was part of several made by the former Nigerian leader in his new book, ‘My Transition Hours’, launched in Nigeria’s capital Abuja on Tuesday.
“On March 23, 2015, President Obama himself took the unusual step of releasing a video message directly to Nigerians all but telling them how to vote,” Mr Jonathan wrote.
“In that video, Obama urged Nigerians to open the “next chapter” by their votes. Those who understood subliminal language deciphered that he was prodding the electorate to vote for the opposition to form a new government.”
For Mr Jonathan, the message undermined Nigerians and smacked of hypocrisy. “The message was so condescending, it was as if Nigerians did not know what to do and needed an Obama to direct them,” he said.
The former Nigerian leader added that although Obama, in his message, said “all Nigerians must be able to cast their votes without intimidation or fear,” his government was vehemently and publicly against the postponement of the elections to enable the military defeat Boko Haram and prevent them from intimidating voters.
“This was the height of hypocrisy!” Jonathan declared.
Jonathan’s grouse with Obama went beyond the video. He narrated in the book that the actions of the then U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, especially his visit to Nigeria after the elections were rescheduled from February 2015 to March belied a plot to humiliate him.
This, he explained, was because even though the decision to postpone the elections was taken by INEC after a meeting of the Council of State, Kerry refused to accept that it was in the interest of the country and the electorate.
“In fact, John Kerry did not accept our reasons for the rescheduling,” he said. This did not sit well with Mr Jonathan and he stated as much in the book.
He wrote, “How can the U.S. Secretary of State know what is more important for Nigeria than Nigeria’s own government?
“How could they have expected us to conduct elections when Boko Haram controlled part of the North East and was killing and maiming Nigerians? Not even the assurance of the sanctity of May 29, 2015 handover date could calm them down. In Nigeria, the Constitution is very clear. No President can extend his tenure by one day.”
Despite the criticism that followed the decision to reschedule the election, Jonathan insisted that the decision was the right one and it paid off.
He said, “Anyhow, the six weeks served us well. We received the military equipment we were expecting within that period and our Armed Forces commendably dealt a deserving blow on the terrorists and repossessed all territorial areas of Nigeria previously occupied by the terrorists. Boko Haram was deflated up to the point I handed over to my successor on May 29, 2015.
“We conducted the elections peacefully, even if there were issues raised about its fairness. At least, the nation was relieved that the election held peacefully and that there was no post-election violence.”
Read an excerpt from the book about how the elections were postponed and the pressure that followed below:
“The decision and announcement to postpone the elections were eventually made by the only body which could do so under the Constitution. I should talk briefly about the INEC here because of the insinuations that my administration muscled INEC to make the pronouncement. Of course, nothing could be farther from the truth as people came to realise. Yes, the posture of INEC could appear edgy, but it knew it was not ready and that the election was too important to mess up.
“The PVC shortage was everywhere. The lopsided collection of PVC caused an uproar that grew into a national din. The suspected housing of PVCs in the custody of non-INEC personnel was an issue. There were also issues with card readers. All of these happening despite years of preparation and substantial funds made available. It was all building up to a perfect storm, but those were INEC’s problems which we were willing to help resolve.
“Even then, the security of our country was our job and the military advised as they deemed fit. Before the election was eventually rescheduled by INEC, I summoned all the Service Chiefs, the NSA, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Director General of State Security (DG DSS), among others to get further information. Then I called a meeting of the Council of State and requested the heads of security services and the INEC chairman to attend. These were not apolitical, but at least they could rise above politics and represent the interest of the entire country. At the end of deliberations, it was agreed that the elections should be postponed for six weeks in order to create a safer environment for voters and officials on Election Day.
“Let me add that the Council of State comprises all former Presidents and Heads of State, all former chief justices of the federation, and all 36 serving State Governors who are from different political parties.
“The INEC was then directed to hold meetings with political parties while the NSA was to brief them on the security angle to the rescheduling. The vote in favour of the rescheduling was overwhelming. INEC thereafter announced the rescheduling of the election to the nation. I must add that beyond security concerns, one finds it difficult to understand how INEC or the political parties would want elections held at a time when more than 30% of the Nigerian electorate were yet to get their PVCs. This would have disenfranchised a significant portion of the electorate.
“The foreign pressure on the issue of election rescheduling was intense. They maintained the curious posture of one who had been deceived before and therefore had every reason to cede no credence to our position. But there was no reason to have such a posture.
“The United States and the United Kingdom were especially agitated. David Cameron, then the U.K. Prime Minister, called to express his concern about the election rescheduling, just as John Kerry came from the United States to express further worry. It was at best unusual and sobering. In fact, John Kerry did not accept our reasons for the rescheduling.
“It was unbelievable because at the back of our minds we knew why the agitation was beyond what meets the eye. There were deeper political interests.
“In attendance at the meeting of the Council of State where the decision to reschedule the election was taken were almost all the living former Heads of State of this country. That should have convinced John Kerry of the good intentions of the government. He cannot claim to love and defend Nigeria more than all our former heads of state present at the meeting. I have stated earlier how Kerry’s visit was designed to humiliate a sitting Nigerian President and clearly take sides in the country’s election.
“Anyhow, the six weeks served us well. We received the military equipment we were expecting within that period and our Armed Forces commendably dealt a deserving blow on the terrorists and repossessed all territorial areas of Nigeria previously occupied by the terrorists. Boko Haram was deflated up to the point I handed over to my successor on May 29, 2015.
“We conducted the elections peacefully, even if there were issues raised about its fairness. At least, the nation was relieved that the election held peacefully and that there was no post-election violence.”
President Donald Trump lashed out at former Secretary of State John Kerry for his meetings with Iran’s foreign minister after the Obama-appointee had left office.
“John Kerry had illegal meetings with the very hostile Iranian Regime which can only serve to undercut our great work to the detriment of the American people,” Trump said on Twitter late Thursday.
“He told them to wait out the Trump Administration!” he said, ending his Tweet with the word “BAD!”
Kerry, who negotiated the 2015 Iran nuclear deal which Trump scrapped this year, said during a tour to promote his new book “Every Day is Extra” that he had met Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif “three or four times” since he left office and Trump had entered the White House.
Asked by conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Wednesday if he had offered Zarif advice on how to deal with Trump’s decision to withdraw from the pact, he replied: “No, that’s not my job.
“What I have done is tried to elicit from him what Iran might be willing to do in order to change the dynamic in the Middle East for the better.
“I’ve been very blunt to Foreign Minister Zarif, and told him look, you guys need to recognize that the world does not appreciate what’s happening with missiles, what’s happening with Hezbollah, what’s happening with Yemen,” he added, echoing the current administration’s denunciation of Tehran’s “malign” influence.
Conservative commentators immediately leapt on the act as evidence of “treason,” with some calling for Kerry to go to “prison.”
Asked by a Republican lawmaker during a congressional hearing about the so-called shadow diplomacy, Manisha Singh, an assistant secretary of state, said Thursday: “It’s unfortunate if people from a past administration would try to compromise the progress we’re trying to make in this administration.”
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert added: “I’ve seen him brag about the meetings that he has had with the Iranian government and Iranian government officials. I’ve also seen reports that he is apparently providing, according to reports, advice to the Iranian government.
“The best advise that he should be giving the Iranian government is stop supporting terror groups around the world.”
Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, heading the U.S. election observation mission, urged Kenyans on Monday to ensure free and fair vote amid fears that it could descend into violence.
Kerry heads a 67-strong U.S. observer mission and, along with former Prime Minister of Senegal Aminata Toure co-leads the Carter Centre, a non-profit organisation working to advance democracy and human rights which has deployed 80 observers.
Opposition leader, Raila Odinga, 72, who lost elections in 2007 and 2013, has already said President Uhuru Kenyatta, 55, can only win if his ruling Jubilee party rigs the vote, a stance that increases the chances of a disputed result and unrest.
Opinion polls before Tuesday’s presidential election put the pair neck-and-neck.
Kenyans will also be voting for members of parliament and local representatives.
In 2007, Odinga’s call for street protests after problems with the vote count triggered a widespread campaign of ethnic violence in which 1,200 people were killed and 600,000 displaced.
He said that the situation has made his administration’s ongoing anti-corruption war “tough and grueling.”
A statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, says the President told the United States Secretary Of State that corruption was fighting vigorously back, but assured Kerry that the anti-graft war would be won.
President Buhari said corrupt people had accumulated a formidable arsenal of illicit wealth, which they were now deploying against the government on diverse fronts.
Syrian government and allied forces are pushing toward Aleppo, pursuing their week-old offensive to take the rebel-held part of the city after dozens of overnight air strikes.
The Syrian army told the insurgents to leave their positions, offering safe passage and aid supplies.
Syrian forces supported by Iranian-backed militias and Russian air power began their push to take the whole of the divided city after a ceasefire collapsed last month.
An air campaign by the Syrian government and its allies has been reinforced by a ground offensive against the besieged eastern half of Aleppo, where insurgents have been holding out. Hospitals have been badly hit in the assault, medics say.
Reuters reports that while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, spoke by phone to discuss normalisation of the situation, Britain said the bombing of hospitals by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al Assad made it impossible to talk about peace.
“It is the continuing savagery of the Assad regime against the people of Aleppo and the complicity of the Russians in committing what are patently war crimes – bombing hospitals, when they know they are hospitals and nothing but hospitals – that is making it impossible for peace negotiations to resume,” British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Syrian military said on Sunday that the army and its allies had advanced south from the Handarat refugee camp north of the city, taking the Kindi hospital and parts of the Shuqaif industrial area.
Zakaria Malahifji, of the Aleppo-based rebel group Fastaqim, told Reuters there were clashes in this area on Sunday.
The Observatory said air strikes and shelling continued on Sunday and there was fierce fighting all along the front line which cuts the city in two.
The Syrian army said that rebel fighters should vacate east Aleppo in return for safe passage and aid supplies. “The army high command calls on all armed fighters in the eastern neighborhood of Aleppo to leave these neighborhoods and let civilian residents live their normal lives,” a statement carried by state news agency SANA said.
East Aleppo came under siege in early July after its main supply route, the Castello Road, fell under government control.
International attempts to establish ceasefires to allow in United Nations humanitarian aid have failed, although other aid groups have brought in limited supplies.
The United Nations has said that at least nine million people are in urgent need of aid in Nigeria’s northeast and neighbouring countries.
The UN Regional Humanitarian Coordinator, Toby Lanzer, said at least $559 million would be needed in the next four months to ease the crisis in Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad.
He said more than six million people were “severely food insecure” with 568,000 children acutely malnourished adding that the UN has appealed to Britain and other western governments for help.
Mr Lanzer said at the Chatham House in London: “With population growth of speed and nature, in an area where everyone is already poor, the environment is incredibly stressed.
“There is a never-ending stream of heavier violence, it is only natural to conclude that more people will migrate,” he said.
The Heads of State of the Lake Chad Basin and donor countries would meet on the margins of the annual United Nations General Assembly holding next week.
Meanwhile, the US President, Barack Obama, would meet with President Muhammadu Buhari on the sidelines of the Assembly.
US Deputy National Security Adviser, Ben Rhodes, disclosed that President Obama would hold separate sessions with the Nigerian President, Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider Al-Abadi and Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos.
The President of the United States, Barack Obama, will meet with Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, the leaders of Iraq and Colombia on the sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly holding next week.
The White House Deputy National Security Adviser, Ben Rhodes, explained that President Obama would hold separate sessions with the Nigerian President, Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider Al-Abadi and Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos.
President Buhari would participate in the five-day, 71st session of the General Assembly where he would deliver Nigeria’s statement at the opening of the general debate.
The theme of this year’s debate is “The Sustainable Development Goals: A Universal Push To Transform Our World”.
Mr Duterte was responding to the US President’s promise to raise the issue of drug-related and extra-judicial killings in the Philippines at their meeting.
US aides later confirmed Mr Obama would meet South Korea’s President instead.
In reply, Mr Duterte issued a statement saying he regretted that the comment came across as a personal attack on the US President.
This is not the first time President Duterte has made inflammatory statements against prominent figures as he had attacked Pope Francis, the US Secretary of State, John Kerry and the US Ambassador to the Philippines in recent times.
A diplomatic row seems to be brewing between the US and the Philippines As President Barack Obama has cancelled a meeting with controversial Philippine President, Rodrigo Duterte, who earlier called him a “son of a whore”.
Mr Duterte was responding to the US President’s promise to raise the issue of drug-related extra-judicial killings in the Philippines at their meeting.
US aides later confirmed Mr Obama would meet South Korea’s president instead.
In reply, Mr Duterte issued a statement saying he regrets that the comment came across as a personal attack on the US President.
This is not the first time the Filippino President Duterte has employed inflammatory language against such prominent figures as he has attacked Pope Francis, the US Secretary of State, John Kerry and the US Ambassador to the Philippines in recent times.
“America does not usually send top officers for such visits if they have not used certain parameters to gauge the country’s performance,” he stated.
President Buhari had told Mr Kerry at a meeting that his administration would institutionalise the anti-corruption war to ensure it would last beyond his current tenure in office.
On the outcome of the Thursday meeting, Oba Adeyemi decried what he called huge resources that were lost to the activities of the Niger Delta Avengers and commended the Federal Government for stopping them from the invasion of the south-west, especially Lagos State.
He expressed joy that the Federal Government responded immediately to wipe out the threat.
The Alafin further told reporters that normalcy had since returned to Ikorodu and Arepo areas of Lagos State and Ogun State where militants’ criminal activities were beginning to surge.
Nigeria’s crude oil output had dropped by 700,000 barrels per day to 1.56 million bpd, as a result of attacks on oil installations largely carried out by the Niger Delta Avengers.
The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has urged Nigeria to pace up girl child education to foreclose the risk of turning down growth and development resulting from segregation of an important segment of the population.
Mr Kerry, who said the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is presently committing $10 million to help women in Nigeria make the right choices, said no nation can be lifted to its full potential without engaging its entire population.
At a meeting with Non-Government Organisations in charge of girl child education and protection at the US Embassy in Abuja, he said too many young women in Nigeria are out of school and forced into different kinds of circumstances which must be changed through a gradual but steady progress.
Country Representative of UNFPA in Nigeria, Ratidzai Ndhlovu, gave the advice at the official launch of the Adolescent Girls Initiative organised by UNFPA in collaboration with the Kaduna State government, where she noted that providing women and girls with equal access to education, is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a prosperous and sustainable nation.
The Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan, said the ministry will soon launch a campaign against early child marriage and child abuse to sensitize traditional and religious rulers across the country on the dangers of giving out their girls out early in marriage without giving them the necessary education or skills.
According to a report released by UNFPA, the northern region has the highest rate of female illiteracy in Nigeria, and also accounts for negative health outcomes which include the highest maternal mortality and infant mortality ratio. For instance, the number of girls without education in Sokoto State stands at 78.5 per cent followed by Kebbi State with 75 per cent, while that of Kaduna is 40.3 percent.