Ghana President Self-Isolates Despite Negative COVID-19 Test

 

Ghana’s president has gone into self-isolation for two weeks as a precautionary measure despite testing negative for coronavirus, the government said, after one of his contacts was confirmed to have the illness.

President Nana Akufo-Addo began his quarantine on Saturday and will be working from the presidential villa in Accra, capital of the West African country, the information minister said in a statement.

“The president has elected to do so after at least one person within his close circle tested positive for COVID-19,” the minister said.

“(The president) has, as (of) today, tested negative, but has elected to take this measure out of the abundance of caution.”

Ghana has reported more than 19,300 cases of the new respiratory disease and 117 deaths, and has lifted its strict lockdown although social-distancing measures remain in place.

The announcement came a day after the presidency said a junior minister had resigned for failing to self-isolate after testing positive.

There was no official indication the events were linked.

Since the pandemic erupted, a number of senior political figures worldwide have caught the disease, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was hospitalised and has now recovered.

Senegal’s President Macky Sall also went into a preventative quarantine last month, despite testing negative, after coming into contact with a coronavirus case.

AFP

Argentine Ex-President Menem Back In Hospital With Breathing Difficulties

Argentina Foreign Minister Malcorra Resigns

 

Former Argentina president Carlos Menem was admitted to hospital again in the early hours of Thursday suffering from breathing difficulties, family sources told the local press.

It is only three days since Menem, who was president from 1989-99, was discharged after two weeks in hospital receiving treatment for a severe pneumonia.

He is in intensive care at the Los Arcos private clinic in the capital Buenos Aires.

The senator, who turned 90 on Thursday, was first taken to hospital on June 13 where he also received intensive care.

He was tested for coronavirus but that came back negative.

“We’ve reached 90 old man!!! I start this day paraphrasing you ‘We’re feeling bad but doing well.’ Today is your birthday, but God gave me the gift of having you on this day. I love you with my soul. Stay strong dad,” Menem’s daughter Zulema wrote on Twitter.

Since entering the Senate in 2005, Menem has kept a much lower profile than during his presidency when he pursued an aggressive privatization policy.

AFP

Burundi Changes Tack As President Declares COVID-19 ‘Biggest Enemy’

Evariste Ndayishimiye, Burundi’s elected President from the ruling party, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy – Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), signs the book of condolences at the state house in Bujumbura on June 13, 2020. Tchandrou NITANGA / AFP.

 

Burundi’s new President Evariste Ndayishimiye has declared the coronavirus the country’s “biggest enemy”, in a major about-turn for a nation which has largely ignored the dangers of the virus.

Former president Pierre Nkurunziza, who died suddenly last month, and even Ndayishimiye himself, had until now downplayed the gravity of the pandemic, saying God had spared Burundi from its ravages.

Burundi held a full-blown campaign ahead of a May election, and unlike its neighbours which have imposed lockdowns and curfews, has taken few measures to combat the spread of the virus.

Officially the country has reported only 170 cases and one death in two months.

Ndayishimiye was speaking late Tuesday after the swearing in of his new government in parliament.

“From tomorrow (Wednesday), I declare the COVID-19 pandemic the biggest enemy of Burundians, because it is clear it is becoming their biggest concern,” he said.

“We firmly commit ourselves to fight this pandemic.”

– ‘Treated as a sorcerer’ –

He called for “the strict respect for preventative measures which the health ministry will from now on display across the country”.

He reminded citizens that coronavirus tests were free, as was treatment, warning those who did not get tested when they had symptoms.

“If in future someone does not go and get tested in such a case, it means he wants to contaminate others voluntarily… and he will be considered a sorcerer and treated as severely as one would be,” he said.

Burundi only has a single testing centre, with fewer than 10 technicians capable of carrying out tests for the virus.

Ndayishimiye promised testing centres would be installed and testing campaigns launched across the country.

“An enemy must be hunted wherever he hides and even when his presence is suspected.

“Everyone must know the coronavirus is a pandemic which transmits easily, and which kills if you take it lightly.”

A high-ranking health ministry official told AFP on condition of anonymity that the turnaround comes after the World Bank donated $5 million (4,4 million euros) last month to help Burundi fight the virus.

In May, Burundi — which has increasingly isolated itself in recent years — expelled a team of World Health Organization experts who were supporting the country’s response to the pandemic.

Nkurunziza, who ruled the East Africa nation for 15 often tumultuous years, died suddenly in June aged 55 of what authorities said was heart failure.

However he became ill less than two weeks after his wife had been flown to a Nairobi hospital for treatment for coronavirus, according to a medical document seen by AFP, and speculation is rife he may have caught the virus.

A medical source told AFP he had suffered “respiratory distress” before dying.

AFP

Malawi’s New President Calls For Unity After Disputed Vote Re-Run

Malawi’s main opposition Malawi Congress Party, MCP, Leader Lazarus Chakwera who is leading the Tonse Alliance in the fresh Presidential elections due on June 23, next week, addresses supporters at Mtandire locations in the suburb of the capital Lilongwe where he held his final rally, June 20, 2020. AMOS GUMULIRA / AFP.

 

Malawi’s newly elected President Lazarus Chakwera vowed Sunday to maintain unity in the southern African country after quashing the incumbent’s bid for a second term in the re-run of a hotly contested election.

It was a dramatic twist of fortune for outgoing president Peter Mutharika, whose victory in a May 2019 ballot was overturned by the Constitutional Court over fraud allegations.

Chakwera, a former evangelist preacher, was declared the winner of the election replay with almost 59 percent of the vote, according to results announced late Saturday.

Malawi is only the second sub-Saharan African country to have presidential poll results overturned in court, after Kenya in 2017.

It is also the first time in the region that a vote re-run has led to the defeat of an incumbent leader, and the election was hailed by a number of African politicians.

Chakwera said it was “an honour” to be president after taking his oath of office in the capital Lilongwe.

READ ALSO: Civilians Among Over 100 Victims Of Libya Mines – UN

“It is an honour forged in the furnace of your desire and your demand for change.”

Addressing thousands of supporters in Lilongwe’s Freedom Square, 65-year-old Chakwera vowed to restore “faith in the possibility of having a government that serves” and “fights for you”.

He appealed to those who did not vote for him, saying: “Malawi is home to you too… so long as I am its president, you too will prosper.”

– ‘We have waited too long’ –

Chakwera leads Malawi’s oldest party, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), which previously ruled from 1964 to 1994 under Hastings Banda’s one-party rule.

Some 6.8 million Malawians returned to the polls on Tuesday after the country’s top court found the first election had been marred by “grave” and “widespread irregularities” — including the use of correction fluid to tamper with result sheets.

Chakwera was pronounced the winner with 2.6 million votes, while Mutharika took 1.75 million and underdog Peter Dominico Kuwani over 32,400.

Voter turnout was just under 65 percent.

In power since 2014, Mutharika won 38 percent of the discredited vote last year, ahead of Chakwera’s 35 percent.

Saulos Chilima of the opposition United Transformation Movement (UTM) was sworn in as vice-president on Sunday.

“Today is unbelievable because this feat seemed impossible just a month ago,” said UTM supporter Christina Nkosi.

“We have waited too long for this dawn,” echoed 70-year-old Mary Kaponda, a retired nurse sporting MCP garb.

IT expert Daud Suleman, a key witness in the election court case, told AFP: “We have made history and demonstrated how much we can achieve as a people.

“Now the challenge will be to challenge this energy into moving the country forward.”

Around half of landlocked Malawi’s 18 million people live below the poverty line. Many rely on subsistence farming.

The country is also grappling with a coronavirus outbreak that has infected over 1,000 people and killed at least 13 — although numbers are widely thought to be underestimated due to lack of testing.
– All complaints ‘resolved’ –

Mutharika, 79, has not yet commented on his defeat.

On Saturday, he had argued the re-run was flawed — citing violence and intimidation against monitors allegedly “beaten, hacked and abducted”, and describingg the vote as the “worst in Malawi’s history”.

The Malawi Electoral Commission dismissed the accusations and said all complaints had been “resolved”.

But Mutharika’s Democratic Progressive Party has reiterated calls for the commission to annul the results of the second vote and declare a third poll, something political analysts doubted would happen.

Mutharika supporter Tay Grin was accepting of the outcome.

“Our political choices might be different but we remain united knowing that friendship means much more.”

– ‘Very clear’ lesson –

Several African politicians congratulated Chakwera.

“The mandate our Malawi brothers and sisters have given you… is a confirmation of their desire for progressive leadership,” Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said.

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa hailed Malawians for “turning up in large numbers” to exercise their democratic right in the midst of a coronavirus outbreak.

Kenya’s former prime minister Raila Odinga — who lost to the incumbent in the 2017 re-run — commended Mutharika for facilitating a “peaceful and orderly transfer of power”.

“The election was followed keenly beyond Malawi and is a symbol of hope for those who support democracy in Africa and around the world,” he tweeted.

Tanzania’s opposition Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT Wazalendo) said Malawi had given a “very clear” lesson ahead of the east African country’s own elections in October.

“Authoritarian and repressive governments can be beaten when the opposition unites,” its leader Zitto Kabwe said.

“President-elect Chakwera’s election victory is an important moment for democracy in the African continent.”

AFP

Iceland President Re-Elected With 92 Percent Of Vote

Sitting President of Iceland, Gudni Th Johannesson gives an interview after he casted his vote at the polling station ‘Altanesskoli’ in Gardabaer, Iceland on June 27, 2020. Halldor KOLBEINS / AFP.

 

Iceland’s President Gudni Johannesson has been re-elected with a whopping 92 percent of the vote, according to final results released on Sunday.

The former history professor won his second four-year term in the largely symbolic position in Saturday’s vote, the second election held by a European country after coronavirus lockdowns were lifted.

Since suffering spectacular bank failures in 2008, the volcanic North Atlantic island of 365,000 inhabitants has recovered some economic and political stability, which worked in the 52-year-old independent’s favour.

The final results showed he took 92.2 percent of the 168,821 votes cast, crushing rightwing challenger Gudmundur Franklin Jonsson.

“I am honoured and proud,” the president told AFP in Reykjavik on election night.

“This result of this election is, to me, proof of the fact that my fellow Icelanders… have approved of how I have approached this office.”

The dominant win had been predicted by opinion polls, which had shown the president winning between 90 to 94 percent.

Voter Hjalmtyr Heiddal told AFP on Sunday that he “very happy” with the winning margin because “it means that 92 percent of Icelanders want this type of president who does not take sides and is simply neutral.”

It is the second-highest margin of victory in the history of Iceland’s presidential elections.

READ ALSO: Civilians Among Over 100 Victims Of Libya Mines – UN

Vigdis Finnbogadottir, the first woman in the world to be democratically elected as head of state, holds the record, winning re-election in 1988 with 94.6 percent of the vote.

In this parliamentary republic, the president is largely symbolic, but he or she does have the power to veto legislation or submit it to a referendum.

There are no term limits — Johannesson’s predecessor Olafur Ragnar Grimsson served for five terms.

However Johannesson has said he would limit himself to two or three terms at the most.

Turnout for Saturday’s vote was 66.9 percent, dropping from 75.7 percent during Johannesson’s first election victory in 2016, when he became the country’s youngest president since independence in 1944.

The coronavirus pandemic had not been expected to affect voting, as the country has been only mildly infected. It has reported 10 deaths, and currently has around 11 active cases.

Challenger Jonsson is a former Wall Street broker close to Icelandic nationalists and a vocal fan of US President Donald Trump.

He campaigned on wanting Iceland’s president to play a more active role by exercising the right to veto legislation campaigns, but struggled to gain traction with voters.

“I send my congratulations to Gudni and his family,” Jonsson told public broadcaster RUV.

AFP

Zambia Opens Airports As Tourism Sector ‘Resumes Operations’

Zambian President Edgar Lungu gives a press briefing on July 6, 2017 at the Zambian State House in Lusaka. Zambian President Edgar Lungu on Thursday justified invoking a state of emergency by alleging that opposition parties were behind a string of arson attacks intended “to create terror and panic”. DAWOOD SALIM / AFP

 

Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu on Thursday announced the immediate reopening of all three of the landlocked country’s international airports to help revitalise the tourism sector hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Lungu said decreased economic activity since the start of April caused a loss in revenues of 20.8 billion kwachas ($1.1 billion).

He announced the reopening of the three international airports with “immediate” effect to help boost earnings, adding: “In the tourism sector… we have also got to get back to work.”

Zambia’s tourism industry — with the stunning Victoria Falls as its flagship attraction — contributed $1.8 billion to the national economy in 2018, according to data by the World Travel and Tourism Council.

Lungu directed the ministers of communication, finance, home affairs and tourism to work together to devise stringent health guidelines for arriving tourists.

READ ALSO: UN Urges ‘Moratorium’ On Facial Recognition Tech Use In Protests

Over the last 24 hours, Zambia recorded eight new coronavirus cases, for a total of 1,497 with 18 deaths. The number of recoveries now stands at 1,223.

The president urged Zambia’s more than 17 million citizens to observe high standards of hygiene as the winter season peaks in the southern hemisphere, warning that the numbers of coronavirus cases in Zambia could soar.

However, bars and nightclubs remain closed.

AFP

Putin Hails Russian War Dead At Giant New Army Cathedral

Russian President Vladimir Putin looks at military aircrafts flying over the Kremlin and Red Square to mark the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, Moscow, May 9, 2020. Alexey DRUZHININ / SPUTNIK / AFP.

 

President Vladimir Putin paid homage to Russia’s World War II dead on Monday as he visited an enormous new Orthodox cathedral built to honour the military.

Nearly 100 metres (330 feet) high and crowned by six golden domes, the Cathedral of the Armed Forces in a military theme park outside Moscow is now Russia’s third-largest Orthodox Christian church.

It sparked controversy earlier this year when it was revealed that it would include mosaics featuring Putin and Soviet-era dictator Joseph Stalin. The mosaics were eventually removed at Putin’s request.

“For us Russians, the memory of all those who fought, those who died, who with their strength brought us closer to victory in the Great Patriotic War, is sacred,” Putin said in a televised ceremony, using the Russian name for the war.

“We are improving the armed forces, we are equipping them with new material, their combat capacity is increasing,” Putin said alongside the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill.

The ceremony was held on the 79th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union and ahead of a huge military parade planned on Wednesday to mark 75 years since victory in the war.

Putin was forced to reschedule the parade from May 9 because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen Russia record the world’s third-highest number of cases.

He has also rescheduled a public vote on constitutional reforms, initially planned for April, for July 1. Among other changes, the reforms will reset presidential term limits, allowing Putin to potentially stay in the Kremlin until 2036.

In power for 20 years, Putin often vaunts the country’s military power and Orthodox Christian values to boost his support among Russians.

AFP

Ramaphosa Warns Of ‘Tough Times Ahead’

Cyril Ramaphosa delivers a speech during his inauguration as South African President, at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria, on May 25, 2019.
Cyril Ramaphosa delivers a speech during his inauguration as South African President, at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria, on May 25, 2019.

 

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday warned “tough times” lie ahead as the continent’s most industrialised country braces for the economic fallout from Its anti-coronavirus measures.

Ramaphosa imposed a strict lockdown on March 27 to try to limit the spread of COVID-19 and prepare hospitals for an expected surge in cases.

But the move has cost the economy dearly. South Africa was already in recession and the unemployment rate heading towards 30 percent when the virus arrived.

Since last month the government has started loosening the lockdown to enable business activity to gradually resume.

“For a country such as ours, which was already facing an unemployment crisis and weak economic growth, difficult decisions and difficult days lie ahead,” Ramaphosa said in his weekly newsletter.

“There are tough times ahead. There are no quick-fixes and we have to be realistic about our prospects,” he said.

“We would urge that the difficult decisions to be taken are taken with care and with due regard to balancing the sustainability of companies and the livelihoods of workers,” he urged as companies have in recent days started announcing layoff plans.

The national statistics agency releases the first-quarter unemployment figures on Tuesday.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni on Wednesday is due to present a revised budget after government announced an unscheduled 500-billion-rand ($29.7-billion, 26-billion-euro) economic stimulus and social relief package, including 100 billion rand for job protection.

AFP

Macron Marks De Gaulle’s Wartime Appeal With Britain Visit

Macron Signs Controversial French 'Anti-Rioters' Bill Into Law
France’s President Emmanuel Macron talks to journalists after a European Council meeting on Brexit at The Europa Building at The European Parliament in Brussels on April 11, 2019. KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP.

 

French President Emmanuel Macron travels to Britain on Thursday to commemorate Charles de Gaulle’s call for resistance in World War II, against the very modern backdrop of grappling with Brexit and the coronavirus crisis.

Macron will hold talks with Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a hugely symbolic visit that is his first foreign trip since the coronavirus pandemic began.

The visit marks 80 years since de Gaulle, the exiled wartime resistance leader, made his famous call on June 18, 1940, from BBC studios to a defeated France from London not to give into the Nazis.

Johnson has announced honorary British MBE awards to four surviving French resistance fighters — one aged 100 and three in their late 90s.

READ ALSO: EU Hopes US Pullout Of Digital Tax Talks Not ‘Definitive’

“The struggles we face today are different to those we confronted together 80 years ago,” Johnson said.

“But I have no doubt that -– working side by side -– the UK and France will continue to rise to every new challenge and seize every opportunity that lies ahead.”

– ‘Need to be careful’ –

But beyond the historic symbolism, Macron’s meeting with Johnson at 10 Downing Street will also focus on the grinding search for an agreement on Britain’s exit from the EU.

Britain, which left the EU in January, is negotiating a trade deal to govern relations after December 31, when it stops abiding by EU rules. Macron has on occasion expressed impatience with the drawn-out Brexit process.

Macron’s status as a visiting foreign dignitary will spare him the controversial two-week virus quarantine now demanded by the British authorities of all visitors from abroad.

France, where unlike in Britain cafes and restaurants are now fully open after the virus lockdown, had expected French travellers to be exempt from the rule.

“We just want to be very careful — yes, to open up, but to do so when it’s safe and responsible. So we’ll work through all of that with our French friends,” foreign minister Dominic Raab told BBC TV.

– ‘Proud of your courage’ –

Before heading to Britain, Macron met in Paris with Hubert Germain, 99, one of the four surviving Resistance heroes.

“Our country is proud of your courage and it still inspires us. We will make sure every young person knows what they owe you,” he told the veteran.

After arriving in Britain by air with a scaled-down delegation, Macron will meet heir to the throne Prince Charles in London, with both set to pay their respects to de Gaulle and make speeches.

A statue of Churchill that was controversially boxed up after anti-racism protests will be uncovered for Macron’s visit, the London mayor’s office said.

Macron will award the Legion of Honour to London, making it the seventh city to be decorated with France’s highest order of merit.

He will then head to Downing Street for the talks with Johnson, himself an avowed fan of Britain’s wartime leader Winston Churchill, who allowed de Gaulle to broadcast from the BBC.

The day will be given added poignancy by news of the death of British singer Vera Lynn, who famously who helped keep up morale during World War II. She was 103.

– ‘Nothing lost’ –

Macron, who displays de Gaulle’s war memoirs on his desk in his official photograph, is making much of 2020 as an anniversary year for the French resistance leader who would later become president of post-occupation France.

The general’s iconic stature and his defiant wartime spirit are being tapped into even more during the unprecedented challenges posed by the epidemic.

In a telling reflection of his status, the vandalisation of a de Gaulle bust in northern France this week was met with a torrent of outrage.

In his radio broadcast from London, de Gaulle urged all those who could to carry on fighting for France, words that laid the foundation of the resistance movement and helped keep alive hope that France would be liberated, as it finally was in 1944.

“Has the last word been said? Should hope disappear? Is the defeat final? No! Believe me, I… tell you that nothing is lost for France,” he said.

AFP

London Churchill Statue To Be Uncovered Before Macron Visit

The statue of former British prime minister Winston Churchill is cleaned in Parliament Square, central London on June 8, 2020, after being defaced, with the words (Churchill) “was a racist” written on it’s base by protesters at a demonstration on June 7, 2020, organised to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. – Most marches at the weekend were peaceful but there were flashes of violence, including in London, where the statue of World War II leader Winston Churchill in Parliament Square was defaced. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP.

 

The London statue of British wartime leader Winston Churchill that was controversially boxed up after anti-racism protests will be uncovered for a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron, the mayor’s office said Wednesday.

“The covering around the Winston Churchill statue will be removed for the visit of President Macron to London,” said a spokesman for mayor Sadiq Khan.

Other monuments to Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi, and the Cenotaph war memorial were covered up in the wake of protests at the death of George Floyd during a police arrest in the United States.

The protection was put in place before a counter-demonstration last weekend, which saw far-right protesters fight running battles with the police.

Churchill’s statue became a target when it was daubed with graffiti branding him a racist because of his policies at the time of a 1943 famine in the Indian state of Bengal that left millions dead.

The Cenotaph was also targeted.

The boards around the Cenotaph were taken down on Monday but the coverings around the statues of Mandela and Gandhi will stay in place “under review”, said Khan’s office.

Macron’s visit coincides with the 80th anniversary of General Charles de Gaulle’s appeal to the French people, calling on them to resist the German World War II occupation of France.

A statue of the wartime French resistance leader was also recently targeted in the northern French town of Hautmont.

The defacing of Churchill’s statue and subsequent covering up sparked outrage in Britain, particularly from Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has written a biography of his predecessor.

Johnson has said he “will resist with every breath in my body any attempt to remove that statue from Parliament Square, and the sooner his protective shielding comes off the better.”

He told parliament on Wednesday that “we are looking at new ways in which we may legislate against vandalism of war memorials”.

Reports have suggested long prison terms for the worst offenders.

AFP

Macron To Mark De Gaulle Wartime Speech With UK Trip

France To Extend Lockdown As Virus Deaths Soar In Europe, US
French president Emmanuel Macron takes part in a video conference with World Health Organization (WHO) general director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the Elysee Palace on april 8, 2020 in Paris. Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP

 

French President Emmanuel Macron will visit Britain on Thursday to mark 80 years since exiled wartime resistance leader Charles de Gaulle called on France not to give in to the Nazis.

Macron will look to underline the enduring importance of Anglo-French relations even after Brexit by looking back to de Gaulle’s dramatic appeal on June 18, 1940, made from BBC studios in London shortly after his evacuation from a defeated France.

But Macron, who is due to hold talks with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson as well as meeting Prince Charles, will be unable to escape the shadow of Brexit as talks on the terms of Britain’s exit enter a tricky phase.

The trip will be Macron’s first outside France since the coronavirus crisis erupted in earnest. The French leader has been criticised in some quarters for his bellicose rhetoric on the virus, declaring that France was “at war” with COVID-19.

The situation has improved sufficiently for Macron to say that France could claim its “first victory”.

READ ALSO: Africa Urges UN Probe Of US ‘Systemic Racism’, Police Violence

But the challenges remain unparalleled since World War II, with Macron along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel spearheading a 500 billion euro ($566 billion) rescue plan for Europe.

– Spared quarantine –

Macron, who displays de Gaulle’s war memoirs on his desk in his official photograph, is making much of 2020 as an anniversary year for the French resistance leader who would later become president of post-occupation France.

In May, he paid tribute to de Gaulle at the site of the 1940 Battle of Montcornet, one of few effective counter-attacks by French soldiers against the Nazis and where de Gaulle made his name as a military commander.

On November 9, Macron is to mark the 50th anniversary of the general’s death by visiting his final resting place in Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises in eastern France.

Before heading to Britain, Macron will take part in the traditional annual ceremony at Mont Valerien outside Paris, a memorial for the French who fought against the Nazis and those who were killed by the occupying forces.

He will then travel to London, where his status as a visiting foreign dignitary will spare him the controversial two-week virus quarantine now demanded by the British authorities of all visitors from abroad, a move that has irritated Paris.

He will award the Legion of Honour to London, making it the seventh city to be decorated with France’s highest order of merit, after Algiers, Belgrade, Brazzaville, Liege, Luxembourg and Volgograd.

Britain, which left the EU in January, is negotiating a trade deal to govern relations after December 31, when it stops abiding by EU rules. Macron has on occasion expressed impatience with the drawn-out Brexit process.

– ‘Legendary hero’ –

In his radio broadcast from London, de Gaulle urged all those who could to carry on fighting for France, words that laid the foundation of the resistance movement and helped keep alive hope that France would be liberated, as it finally was in 1944.

“Has the last word been said? Should hope disappear? Is the defeat final? No! Believe me, I… tell you that nothing is lost for France,” he said.

De Gaulle’s iconic stature and his defiant wartime spirit are being tapped into even more during the unprecedented challenges posed by the epidemic.

In a telling reflection of his status, the vandalisation of a bust of the general in northern France this week was met with a torrent of outrage. The statue in Hautmont was daubed in orange paint and with the slogan “slaver”.

“De Gaulle was neither on the left nor on the right… He was above the parties,” said French historian Michel Winock, author of a book on de Gaulle.

But he was also simply “a legendary hero, the man of June 18, the defiant fighter who embodies an epic, glorious France, an incorruptible man who never mixed up public money and his own account”, Winock said.

AFP

Burundi’s New President Ndayishimiye To Be Sworn In Thursday

Evariste Ndayishimiye, Burundi’s elected President from the ruling party, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy – Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), addresses the nation after signing the book of condolences at the state house in Bujumbura on June 13, 2020. – Burundi’s constitutional court ruled that the country’s newly elected leader Evariste Ndayishimiye be rapidly sworn in following the sudden death of President Pierre Nkurunziza earlier this week. Nkurunziza’s death on Monday, aged 55, came after the May election of his successor Ndayishimiye, who was meant to be inaugurated in August. (Photo by Tchandrou NITANGA / AFP)

 

Burundi’s newly-elected president Evariste Ndayishimiye will be sworn in on Thursday, the foreign ministry announced, in a ceremony fast-tracked by the sudden death of the incumbent, Pierre Nkurunziza.

Nkurunziza died on June 8 aged 55, of what authorities said was heart failure.

His death came less than two weeks after his wife had been flown to a Nairobi hospital for treatment for coronavirus, according to a medical document seen by AFP.

The foreign ministry invited diplomats and foreign organisations to “take part in the inauguration ceremony” in the capital Gitega, in a letter sent out on Monday.

Ndayishimiye, 52, a former army general and Hutu rebel like his predecessor, had been handpicked by the powerful ruling CNDD-FDD to run in a May 20 presidential election.

He won the vote with 68.7 percent, and an opposition bid to have the results overturned due to alleged fraud was overturned just days before Nkurunziza’s death.

Normally, following the death of a president, the speaker of Burundi’s parliament would step in as head of state.

But as the country already had a president-elect, the constitutional court ruled last week he should be sworn in immediately, instead of in August as planned.

Nkurunziza, a devout evangelical who believed he was chosen by God to lead Burundi, leaves behind a deeply isolated country in political and economic turmoil after his divisive 15-year rule.

READ ALSO: Court Orders Swearing-In Of President-Elect Days After Nkurunziza’s Death

His 2015 run for a third term in office sparked protests and a failed coup, with violence leaving at least 1,200 dead while some 400,000 fled the country.

United Nations human rights investigators have said the period since 2015 has been marked by likely crimes against humanity committed by state forces, citing extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests, disappearances, torture and sexual violence.

Nkurunziza’s decision not to run in the May 20 election stunned many, as it came after the constitution was changed to allow him to do so.

The government has yet to announce a date for Nkurunziza’s funeral.

Suspicions are high that the president had contracted the new coronavirus, after months of assuring Burundi it was being protected by God from the pandemic, and taking few measures to combat it.

Officially the country has recorded only 104 cases and one death.

Nkurunziza’s wife Denise Bucumi was hospitalised at the end of May with the virus. A medical document seen by AFP said she had tested positive for the virus and suffered “respiratory distress”.

A medical source at the Karusi hospital where Nkurunziza died, told AFP he had also been in “respiratory distress” before his death.

A medical source at the Kamenge university hospital in Bujumbura told AFP that the head of the institute of public health “came to requisition our hospital’s only ventilator” last Monday.

Both were flown to the hospital in Karusi, but it was “too late, president Nkurunziza was already dead,” a medical source in Karusi said.

AFP