Greece Debt Crisis: Voters Made ‘Brave Choice’ – Tsipras

greece tsiprasThe ballots have been counted, the final results are out as Greece voters have rejected the terms of an international bailout, with thousands celebrating in the streets after hearing the result was 61% “no”, against 38% “yes”.

Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, said Greeks made a “brave choice” in voting to reject the terms, but European officials have warned that it could see the country ejected from the eurozone.

Meanwhile, Greece’s Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis, who often clashed with creditors has resigned.

He said: ”I was made aware of a certain ‘preference’ by some Eurogroup participants, and assorted ‘partners’, for my ‘absence’ from its meetings; an idea that the Prime Minister judged to be potentially helpful to him in reaching an agreement”.

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, will meet French President, Francois Hollande, in Paris later on Monday before a summit of eurozone leaders on Tuesday.

Greece’s governing Syriza party had campaigned for a ‘no’, saying the bailout terms were humiliating.

Mr Tsipras also said that the Greeks had proved that ”democracy won’t be blackmailed.”

Last month, the European leaders gathered for an emergency summit in Brussels where talks on how to break the deadlock were held.

Pope Francis Warns Against Religious Provocation

Pope-FrancisPope Francis has cautioned people on the possible consequences of insulting other people’s faith, noting that there was a limit to freedom of expression.

Weighing in on last week’s terror in Paris, France and the resulting debate over freedom of expression, Pope Francis said en route to Manila, Philippines, that “one cannot kill in the name of God”, adding that  “one cannot provoke or  insult other people’s faith.”

Terror first struck when two Islamic extremists gained entrance into the Charlie Hebdo magazine company and killed several people.

However the Pope did not mention Charlie Hebdo specifically, or its cartoon depictions of Mohammed, which many Muslims have regarded as offensive.

A previous cartoon was one reason the Paris magazine was targeted, after which its post-attack cover showed Mohammed again, crying and holding a sign with the rallying cry “Je suis Charlie,” French for “I am Charlie.”

In his speech, Pope Francis – referring to his friend Alberto Gasbarri – said if a friend “says a swear word against my mother, then a punch awaits him”.

CCTV Footage Shows Paris Attack Suspect In Turkey

Suspects Wanted In Connection With Paris Terrorist Attacks French police have gotten hold of CCTV footage, purportedly showing the partner of the supermarket attacker in Paris, Amedy Coulibaly, in Turkey.

Hayat Boumeddiene was seen passing through passport control at the airport.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said she had arrived on January 2, before continuing to Syria six days later.

Boumeddiene’s partner, Coulibaly, had killed four people at a Kosher supermarket in eastern Paris on Friday before police stormed the building.

He is also believed to have shot dead a policewoman the day before.

Turkey said it had not been asked to deny her access, as they need to receive intelligence first before tracking people.

Turkish Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, said; “Is it Turkey’s fault that it has borders with Syria?”

This comes as France announced on Monday that it would be deploying 10,000 policemen to protect synagogues and mosques, and other sensitive areas, to boost security following last week’s attacks.

Hollande, World Leaders March Against Extremism

World leadersFrench President, Francois Hollande, flanked by other French and world leaders, on Sunday led thousands of citizens on a solidarity march in honour of the victims who died in terror attacks on Paris.

Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, Mali’s President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, European Council President, Donald Tusk, Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, Italy’s Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi and Switzerland’s President Simonetta Sommaruga who were all at the forefront of the procession linked arms as they marched.

Commentators said the last time a huge crowd of such size filled the streets of the capital was at the Liberation of Paris from Nazi Germany in 1944.

Tight security measures were in place with some 2,200 police and soldiers on patrol in Paris to protect marchers from would-be attackers, with police snipers on rooftops and plain-clothes detectives mingling with the crowd.

Thousands of people showed their solidarity waving flags of France as well as several other countries, throughout the march which kicked off at central Place de la Republique.

After world leaders left the march, Hollande stayed to greet survivors of the Charlie Hebdo attack and their families, while hundreds of thousands of people marched slowly and in near-total silence through Paris streets.

Charlie Hebdo: French Police Kill Suspects

Charlie Hebdo
FRENCH POLICE / AFP

Two brothers suspected of a bloody attack on the offices of French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, were killed when police stormed their hideout on Friday, while a second siege ended with the deaths of four hostages.

The violent end to the simultaneous stand-offs followed a police operation of unprecedented scale as France tackled one of the worst threats to its internal security in decades. The heavy loss of life over three consecutive days also risked fuelling anti-immigrant voices in the country and elsewhere in the West.

Officials said Cherif Kouachi and his brother Said, both in their 30s, died when anti-terrorist forces moved in on a print shop in the small town of Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris, where the chief suspects in Wednesday’s attack had been holed up.

The hostage they had taken was safe, an official said.

Automatic gunfire rang out, followed by blasts and then silence as smoke could be seen billowing from the roof of the print shop.

Amid thick fog, a helicopter landed on the building’s roof, signalling the end of the assault. A government source said the brothers had emerged from the building and opened fire on police before they were killed.

Minutes later, police broke the second siege at a Jewish supermarket in eastern Paris.

A police union source said four hostages had died there along with a gunman, believed to have had links to the same Islamist group as the Kouachi brothers, who was holding them.

President Jonathan Condemns Terrorist Attack On French Magazine

Jonathan
French President Francois Hollande (L) poses with Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan (R), during an African security summit to discuss the Boko Haram threat to regional stability, at the Elysee palace in Paris, on May 17, 2014. AFP PHOTO / ALAIN JOCARD

The Nigerian President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, has joined the rest of the civilized world in condemning the heinous, senseless and totally unjustifiable killing of journalists and other persons during the attack on the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo.

In a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, the Federal Government and people of Nigeria extended heartfelt condolences to President Francois Hollande and the people of France as they mourn the victims of Wednesday’s dastardly terrorist attack.

“The President believes that the cowardly and ignoble attack by violent extremists is a monstrous assault on the right to freedom of expression.

“President Jonathan also sees the attack on Charlie Hebdo as another manifestation of the depravity and brutality which the world has to contend with in what must become a truly collective effort by lovers of peace, progress and freedom across the globe to rout the agents of darkness and retrogression,” the statement read.

President Jonathan assured President Hollande and the people of France that Nigeria stands in full solidarity with them on their day of national mourning for those who lost their lives at the hands of terrorists in Paris.

“Noting that France has been a strong ally and dependable partner in strengthening regional cooperation in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria, West Africa and Africa as a whole, President Jonathan pledges that his administration will continue to work with the French government and other friendly governments in all continents to end the scourge of global terrorism,” he said.

President Jonathan urged media practitioners worldwide not to be discouraged or disheartened by the brutal murder of their colleagues in Paris but to remain strong and fearless in pursuit of truth and the defence of human rights and freedom of expression.

The President prayed that God almighty would comfort the people of France, especially the bereaved families and grant speedy recovery to all those who were injured in Wednesday’s attack.

Charlie Hebdo Update:Two Main Suspects Rob Service Station In Northern France

Charlie Hebdo
FRENCH POLICE / AFP

The two main suspects in the Islamist attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris are said to have robbed a service station in the north of France.

They stole food and petrol, firing shots as they struck at the roadside stop near Villers-Cotterets in the Aisne region, French media report.

Police have made seven arrests in the hunt for two brothers, the main suspects. A third 18-year-old Hamyd Mourad has surrendered after hearing his name on the news .
Arrest warrants were issued for Cherif and Said Kouachi, said to be “armed and dangerous”.

A policewoman was also killed in a shootout in southern Paris on Thursday, triggering searches in the area as the manhunt widened for two brothers suspected of killing 12 people at a satirical magazine in an apparent Islamist militant strike.

A second person was seriously injured in the attack in the southern suburb of Montrouge, after which the gunman fled.

It is unclear if the incident is related to the Charlie Hebdo massacre, which traumatised France.

Montrouge mayor Pierre Brossollette said the policewoman and a colleague went to the site to deal with a traffic accident. A car stopped and a man got out and shot at them before fleeing.

Witnesses said the shooter fled in a Renault Clio car. Police sources said he had been wearing a bullet-proof vest and had a handgun and assault rifle. However, one police officer at the scene told Reuters the man did not appear to fit the bill of the Charlie Hebdo shooters.

A minute’s silence was observed at midday (11:00 GMT) across the country as France observed national mourning for the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack. The bells of Notre Dame cathedral in the capital tolled in mourning.

The attack has raised questions of security in countries throughout the Western world and beyond. Muslim community leaders have condemned the attack, but some have expressed fears of a rise in anti-islamic feeling in a country with a large Muslim population.

Beverly Naya Learning More About God Through New TV series

Beverly NayaFast rising actor, Beverly Naya, is learning more about God and developing her spiritual life and it’s all happening because of Paris, her character in Zik Zulu’s new TV series, Oasis.

The award winning actor admits that playing the character, Paris, is very challenging but notes that it has helped her learn more about God.

“What I like about Paris is that – through playing the character, I learned more about the Bible. I learned more about how to be closer to God because she (Paris) is extremely God-fearing,” she said, while granting an exclusive interview to Channels Television’s Entertainment News, on the set of Oasis.

Producer of popular TV series, Heaven’s Gate, Zik Zulu Okafor, who is producing the new series,talked about the cast.

“We tried to bring some semblance of reality, you know, to be true to life”. He also said that “casting took quite some time because we are very meticulous about it”, he said.

Beverly Naya will feature alongside Sean Faqua in the series directed by Abiodun Esho.

In an interview, Esho, the one calling the shots, said “the script is unique” adding that the entire production, is an “unusual package”.

Nigerians Should Not Expect Insurgency To Disappear Overnight – Labaran Maku

Labaran MakuNigeria’s Information Minister, Labaran Maku, has asked Nigerians not to expect the Boko Haram insurgency to disappear overnight, despite the foreign assistance the country is receiving.

Over the weekend, the President of Nigeria alongside his Benin Republic, Niger, Chad and Cameroon counterparts were hosted by French President, Francois Hollande at the Africa Security Summit, in Paris.

“There is no warranty that because this cooperation has come, terror will disappear overnight,” he said, while on Sunrise Daily.

The minister further stated that a lot of information in fighting terror will come from Nigerians and that only a united front will win the war.

He called for cooperation between the State governments and the Federal Government, between all members of the different political groups and between Nigerians, in order to ensure early victory against the Boko Haram insurgents.

“Whatever differences there may be, our country must come first,” he said.

While shedding light on the importance of the meeting, Maku said the cooperation by all the countries signified international coordination against the terrorists, who had become a threat to both West and Central Africa.

“Boko Haram is an international network; fighting it needs international cooperation” he said, insisting that the Nigerian Armed Forces is well equipped to fight the war but needed help as terrorism is an international war.

“There are no better trained Armed Forces in Africa than Nigeria’s Army,” he said.

He also stated that the meeting was necessary to reduce the restriction placed by boundaries as the Nigerian Army cannot chase the insurgents across any border, where they (insurgents) retreat to.

On the alleged lack of cooperation by the Cameroonian government, Maku explained that the International Task Force set up by Nigeria with Niger and Chad did not include Cameroon, because Cameroon is not a part of ECOWAS.

Member countries of ECOWAS had formed regional alliance on security but since Cameroon was not a part of ECOWAS, it was not included as part of the International Task Force.

This perhaps explains why “cooperation has been coming from Cameroon but not as much as that from Niger and Chad.”

Terrorism is now an international movement, it flows from country to country, he said, adding that cooperation by 5 African countries would break boundaries to allow their Forces chase terrorists across borders.

On the level of information sharing, Maku said discussions were on-going with the Defence Headquarters to integrate journalists in missions but raised concerns over their safety.

My Visit To Chibok Will Not Bring Back Our Girls- Jonathan

Goodluck-JonathanPresident Goodluck Jonathan has put aside visiting Chibok community, where over 200 female students of a state-owned secondary school were abducted over a month ago, at the moment, insisting that the visit will not “solve the problem”.

Responding to a journalist during the Africa Security Summit in Paris, President Jonathan said “if the president goes to Chibok today, it does not solve any problem; may be (it solves) psychological problem or for media relevance. But you have not solved the problem” insisting that “the problem facing the president and indeed the Nigerian government is how to get this girls from where they are” he said.

President Jonathan, who noted that “these girls are from a particular school, but there are a lot of misconceptions; these girls have been removed from the school” insisted that “visiting the school per se does not solve the problem”.

“They (girls) are not from one family, they are scattered from a particular local government area, which is made up of so many communities. So there is no one family that you will go and visit” he said.

Though a state owned school, President Jonathan maintained that it remains the “commitment of the federal government to rebuild that school and provide facilities to protect it since it is a school that predominantly takes care of school education so that the girls will be protected”.

He however noted that he will visit Chibok “no doubt about that” but noted that it is unlike some bomb blast situations where he visited the scenes, insisting that “our interest now is to locate the girls; to know where they are. These girls are not held in Chibok”

There had been widespread criticism over the cancellation of the president’s visit to Chibok one month after the girls were abducted.

President Jonathan also dismissed allegations that Cameroon have not been helpful in the fight against Boko Haram insurgents, insisting that “Nigeria has a robust relationship with Cameroon”.

He further stated that Cameroon has intercepted some weapons targeted at Nigerians. He maintained that Nigeria has been unable to pursue the insurgents, who mostly attack communities that are close to the Cameroonian border, because of existing international laws which demands that permission be sought from the country.

Africa To Form Stand By Force by 2015

AU Stand-By ForceAfrican countries at the Élysées Summit on Peace And Security in Africa, spearheaded by the president of France are to form an African Stand-By Force to respond to any security challenge within the African continent.

Nigeria, one of Africa’s highest contributors to peacekeeping, can draw from the force that will become operational by 2015.

The countries believe that the Stand-By Force will be more efficient than the ad-hoc arrangement where France and other countries like Nigeria have have to pass through so much pressure in an effort to raise intervention forces to tackle insecurity in the continent.

The summit also looked at putting an end to the internal problems especially the infiltration of small arms and light weapons into the continent.

Nigeria’s President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, believes that proliferation of small arms into Africa is responsible for the upsurge in terrorism.

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Nurudeen Mohammed, explained that the Stand-By Force would reduce the pressure and demand from Nigeria for military intervention.

“President Jonathan tasked the meeting to also look at the source of funding for the agency,” he said.

The 2-day summit in French capital, Paris, attended by over 50 heads of governments had the growing concern of insecurity in the continent as top of its agenda.
Countries like France and Nigeria have been over stretched as they are the ones that are easily called upon to assist when wars and terror attacks break up.

The Élysées summit has exposed the visiting presidents to how peace, environment and development are interrelated and world leaders are expecting them to put the lesson from the meeting into action to eradicate wars in the African continent.

 

60 tons of Eiffel Tower trinkets seized in Paris

Paris police have seized 60 tons of miniature Eiffel Towers that black-market vendors were hoping to sell to tourists.

Paris is one of the world’s top destinations, visited by about 29 million tourists a year, but with the holidaymakers comes an influx of bootleg souvenirs, from replica towers to fake Hermes scarves.

Police play a cat and mouse game with the mostly immigrant sellers who flood the top tourist sites, taking business from the authorized vendors and paying no taxes.

Police said on Thursday the tin trinkets, brightly colored and barely 8cm high, were seized on Tuesday from a warehouse near Le Bourget airport north of Paris. A woman of Chinese nationality was in police custody.

Authorities say Chinese gangs, many based in the east of Paris, import the trinkets from China before selling them to other groups who control the sellers.

Up to 300-400 black-market sellers hawk their wares around the Eiffel Tower at the height of the summer season, say police, who circulate flyers to tourists encouraging them not to buy from street sellers.

Police said in a statement they had also raided an office in Paris’ Marais district where some 100 black-market sellers per day would buy replica Eiffel Towers to sell on, seizing thousands more models and over 150,000 euros in cash.

However, police are hindered by the inability of over-stretched courts to prosecute the waves of illegal sellers, many of whom come from Senegal and India.

When sellers are caught, their goods confiscated but they are released because most are unable to pay a maximum fine of 3,750 euros ($5,000). Few are sent back to their home country – a bureaucratic process plagued by delays, authorities say. ($1 = 0.7555 euros)