30 Killed As Dorian Storms Bahamas

This satellite image obtained from NOAA/RAMMB, shows Tropical Storm Dorian as it approaching the Bahamas and Florida at 13:430UTC on August 31, 2019. HO / NOAA/RAMMB / AFP

 

The death toll from Hurricane Dorian has risen to 30 in the Bahamas, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis told American network CNN on Thursday.

Authorities had previously reported 20 dead, but have warned that the final figure is sure to be far higher.

Minnis has said that the storm caused “generational devastation.”

READ ALSO: 33 Bodies Recovered After California Dive Boat Disaster

The United Nations said 70,000 people in the Bahamas were in “immediate need” of aid.

Dorian, currently a Category 2 storm, was pounding the US states of North and South Carolina Thursday night with strong winds and driving rain, bringing dangerous storm surge.

 

Court Bids Launched To Stop Johnson Suspending UK Parliament

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s suspension of parliament just weeks before Britain’s EU departure date faced legal challenges on Thursday following a furious outcry from pro-Europeans and MPs opposed to a no-deal Brexit.

Johnson announced the surprise decision Wednesday to dismiss parliament — known as proroguing — for nearly five weeks next month, claiming it was necessary to allow him to pursue a “bold and ambitious” new domestic agenda.

But the move sent shockwaves through the British political system, which relies on centuries of precedents and conventions instead of a codified constitution.

In a blow for Johnson, popular Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said she was stepping down after eight years during which she has turned around her party’s fortunes.

Davidson, who supported staying in the EU, urged Johnson to clinch a deal with Brussels and mentioned the “conflict I have felt over Brexit” in her resignation letter.

Johnson’s opponents have labelled the suspension of parliament a “coup” and a “constitutional outrage” and it prompted immediate court bids in London and Edinburgh to halt the process.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, has also written to request an audience with Queen Elizabeth II to voice his opposition to the suspension, as has Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson.

Labour’s finance spokesman John McDonnell said his party would not allow Johnson to behave like a “dictator”.

 ‘Candyfloss of outrage’

At least two legal challenges have also been announced.

Gina Miller, a businesswoman and leading anti-Brexit campaigner, said she had applied for an urgent judicial review challenging “the effect and the intention” of the suspension.

“We think that this request is illegal,” said Miller, who in 2017 successfully won MPs the right to vote on formally starting to leave the EU in a court challenge.

Scottish National Party (SNP) politician Joanna Cherry said lawyers had applied for an urgent interim hearing at Scotland’s highest civil court which they hoped would take place as early as Thursday.

However, arch-Brexiteer minister Jacob Rees-Mogg defended the suspension and insisted MPs would still have time to debate Brexit ahead of Britain’s October 31 EU departure date.

“The candyfloss of outrage, which is almost entirely confected, is from people who never wanted to leave the European Union,” he told BBC radio.

 ‘Stop the coup’

Thousands of people protested in London, Manchester, Edinburgh and other cities, while an online petition seeking to block the decision had garnered more than 1.3 million signatures by early Thursday.

At the biggest rally, crowds gathered near parliament in London chanting “stop the coup” and waving EU flags.

Queen Elizabeth approved the request to end what has been the longest session of parliament in nearly 400 years in the second week of September and reopen it on October 14 — just over two weeks before Brexit.

The House of Commons typically goes into recess around the annual party conference season, which kicks off on September 14 and ends on October 2, but critics slammed this more lengthy break.

Corbyn has said he may call a no-confidence vote in Johnson’s government, which commands a majority of just one seat.

The pound remained under pressure Thursday after sliding on news of the suspension.

Backstop or bust

In the seismic 2016 referendum on Britain’s EU membership, 52 percent voted in favour of leaving the bloc, a result that has left parliament and the country bitterly divided.

Johnson insists Britain must leave by the October 31 deadline — already twice-delayed — with or without a divorce deal from Brussels.

Parliament has rejected three times the withdrawal agreement struck between Brussels and the government of Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May.

Eurosceptics objected to a so-called “backstop” provision to keep the Irish border open for people and goods, which would keep Britain closely aligned with the EU.

Johnson, who took office barely a month ago, wants the EU to drop the backstop measure entirely — something Brussels has repeatedly ruled out.

An EU summit on October 17-18 will likely determine whether there is any scope for compromise.

If not, Britain will end its four decades of membership without a deal governing key issues such as  future trade relations and citizens’ rights.

AFP

‘We Believe In Africa,’ Prime Minster Abe Says At TICAD Opening Ceremony

The seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in Yokohama, Japan has officially been declared open by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The Japanese Prime Minister at the ceremony describes TICAD as a conference that believes in Africa and one that will continue to guide Africa and Japan.

Abe also listed  Japanese interventions in Africa.

READ ALSO: U.S Imposes New Visa Charges On Nigerians, Blames FG For Decision

Some of the interventions listed by Abe include clearing of land mines, health care, water supply, building infrastructure and capacity building in Africa.

Leaders who also gave opening speeches at the conference include Al Fatah Elsisi of Egypt; UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres and the Africa Union Chairperson, Musa Faki Mohammed among others.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is also at the conference. He is accompanied by Minister for Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum; Kwara State governor AbdulRaham AbdulRazaq and Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and other top government officials.

President Buhari is expected to deliver Nigeria’s Statement during Plenary Session Three in which he would appraise Nigeria-Japan relations and takeaways from TICAD6.

Johnson ‘Marginally’ More Optimistic On Brexit Deal After G7

 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday that he was “marginally more optimistic” on the chances of clinching a deal for Britain’s exit from the EU after talks at the G7 this weekend, but acknowledged it would be difficult.

“I am marginally more optimistic,” he said after intense contacts on Brexit at the G7 with fellow leaders.

But he added: “It will be difficult… there is a substantial disagreement” between Britain and the EU.

Johnson insisted that it was up to the EU to improve the chances of a deal but needed to negotiate a new agreement on leaving without the so-called “backstop” for Ireland.

The backstop provision, strongly opposed by Johnson’s government and Brexit supporters, is meant to guarantee that border checks will not return between Ireland, an EU member, and Britain’s Northern Ireland.

The EU has so far rejected negotiating a new deal, which was approved by the government under Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May but repeatedly rejected by the British parliament.

“All the statistical estimates I give for a deal… they all depend exclusively on the willingness of our friends and partners (in the EU) to compromise on that crucial point and get rid of the backstop and the current withdrawal agreement.”

Addressing concerns he is prepared to ignore parliament so that Britain leaves the EU on October 31, Johnson said British people were tired of reading about Brexit on the front pages of their newspapers.

“I think that this is a matter for parliamentarians to get right themselves,” he said, adding that it was up to lawmakers to implement the outcome of the 2016 referendum that called for the EU exit.

“People have just about had enough of this conversation and they are yearning for a moment when Brexit comes off the front pages. But that can only happen when we come out of the EU on October 31,” he said.

Johnson also reaffirmed that if Britain left the EU without a deal it would not pay all of the £39 billion ($47 billion, 43 billion euro) divorce bill that has already been negotiated.

He did not specify how much, if any, would be paid.

“Under any circumstances, if there is a no-deal outcome, very substantial sums will be available from the 39 billion for the UK to spend on our priorities, including managing that no-deal scenario,” he said.

The EU insists Britain must pay the bill even if it crashes out of the bloc without a deal.

British Pound Rises As Johnson Takes Office

 

 

The British pound rose Wednesday as arch-Brexiteer Boris Johnson prepared to take over as prime minister, while European stocks mostly fell on the weak mining sector.

Sterling gained versus the euro and dollar as traders readied for Johnson — a leading Leave campaigner in Britain’s shock Brexit referendum three years ago — to take the reins from outgoing premier Theresa May.

He is to be appointed later Wednesday by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.

Sterling had briefly rallied Tuesday in reaction to Johnson’s election as Conservative Party leader, with investors keen to see whether he pushes ahead with a no-deal divorce from the European Union at the end of October.

Brexit scepticism ‘priced in’ 

“The pound is beginning to stabilise, proving that a lot of the scepticism about Boris Johnson’s Brexit policy was already built into the price,” said City Index analyst Fiona Cincotta.

“Sterling is trading a touch higher this morning,” she noted.

May was forced out after failing to get parliamentary support for a Brexit deal she had struck with EU leaders.

Meanwhile, Europe’s major stock markets mostly fell, with miners weighed down by sliding iron ore prices, dealers said.

In afternoon trading, London’s FTSE 100 was down by 0.8 percent.

In the eurozone, Paris CAC 40 shed 0.3 percent but Frankfurt’s DAX 30 won 0.4 percent in value.

“The FTSE 100 is firmly in the red as mining stocks are weighing on the index,” said CMC Markets analyst David Madden.

“A sell-off in iron ore prices in China has prompted a decline in major mining stocks like Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, and Glencore.

“Brazil’s Vale won approval to restart iron ore production, and that triggered the drop in iron ore prices.”

  Tech under threat 

Most Asian markets enjoyed another day of gains, with support coming from more healthy earnings results and renewed hopes for a resolution of the China-US trade war.

The latest big-name firms to post positive results were Coca-Cola, toymaker Hasbro and Harley-Davidson, helping all three main indexes on Wall Street end with sharp gains overnight.

Adding to the upbeat mood were reports that US President Donald Trump’s Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will lead a delegation to China next week to resume trade talks.

The meeting would be the first head-to-head talks since negotiations were cut short in May by Trump’s surprise decision to hit China with more tariffs for what he called Beijing’s backsliding.

However, US markets opened lower Thursday as investors turned their attention to a US government investigation into top tech firms, with the Dow sliding 0.5 percent.

The Justice Department announced it would begin an antitrust review of major online platforms to determine if they have “stifled” innovation or reduced competition, and while it did not name specific firms, it appears Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple are in the crosshairs.

“In other words, it will focus on some of the biggest, most successful, and widely-held, stocks in the land,” said market analyst Patrick O’Hare at Briefing.com.

“They are all trading lower in pre-market action — nothing major, but indications nonetheless that are a dragnet for the broader market,” he added.

Key figures around 1330 GMT 

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2489 from $1.2440 at 2050 GMT

Euro/pound: DOWN at 89.29 pence from 89.64 pence

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1150 from $1.1152

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 108.05 yen from 108.23 yen

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.8 percent at 7,496.88 points

Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.3 percent at 5,600.48

Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 0.4 percent at 12,535.63

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN less than 0.1 percent at 3,530.80

New York – Dow: DOWN 0.5 percent at 27,225.14

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.4 percent at 21,709.57 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.2 percent at 28,524.04 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.8 percent at 2,923.28 (close)

Brent North Sea crude: UP less than 0.1 percent at $63.87 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.3 percent at $56.92

UK PM Race: World Reacts To Johnson’s Victory

Conservative MP Boris Johnson gestures as he answers questions from journalist Iain Dale as he takes part in a Conservative Party leadership hustings event in Birmingham, central England on June 22, 2019.  Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Britain’s main allies congratulated Boris Johnson on Tuesday after he won a party leadership vote that will see him become Britain’s next prime minister, but the EU warned of challenging times ahead over Brexit.

Here are some of the initial reactions from home and abroad to Johnson’s victory:

 ‘He will be great’ 

“Congratulations to Boris Johnson on becoming the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He will be great!” US President Donald Trump tweeted.

Trump has declared himself a big fan of Johnson.

Last week he predicted Johnson would fix what Trump called the “disaster” that outgoing Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May had triggered in trying to lead Britain out of the European Union.

READ ALSO: Boris Johnson Wins Race To Become Britain’s Next PM

“He’s a different kind of a guy, but they say I’m a different kind of a guy too. We get along well. I think we’ll have a very good relationship,” Trump told reporters.

 ‘Challenging times ahead’ 

“Congratulations to Boris Johnson for being nominated as prime minister,” the incoming head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen said in Paris. “I am looking forward to having a good working relationship with him.

“There are many different and difficult issues to tackle together. We have challenging times ahead of us.”

“We look forward to working constructively with PM Boris Johnson when he takes office, to facilitate the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement and achieve an orderly Brexit,” EU negotiator Michel Barnier tweeted.

“We are ready also to rework the agreed declaration on a new partnership in line with EUCO guidelines,” Barnier said, referring to the non-binding political plan for future EU-UK ties that May signed in November.

Outgoing European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also sent his congratulations to Johnson, according to a spokeswoman.

“The president wants to work with the prime minister in the best way possible and beyond this, I’m going to reserve my comments as the news has just freshly broken.”

 Iran ‘not seeking confrontation’ 

“I congratulate my former counterpart, @BorisJohnson on becoming UK PM,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted amid a standoff between the two countries over the seizure of oil tankers.

“Iran does not seek confrontation. But we have 1500 miles of Persian Gulf coastline. These are our waters & we will protect them,” he said.

 ‘Coordinate closely ‘ 

“I congratulate Boris Johnson and I will call him when he is officially prime minister,” French President Macron said.

“I want very much to work with him as quickly as possible and not just on European subjects and the continuation of negotiations linked to Brexit, but also on international issues on which we coordinate closely with Britain and Germany… like the situation in Iran.”

 ‘The bankers’ friend’ 

Boris Johnson has won the support of fewer than 100,000 unrepresentative Conservative Party members by promising tax cuts for the richest, presenting himself as the bankers’ friend, and pushing for a damaging No Deal Brexit,” said Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour Party.

“But he hasn’t won the support of our country,” he said on Twitter.

“Johnson’s No Deal Brexit would mean job cuts, higher prices in the shops, and risk our NHS being sold off to US corporations in a sweetheart deal with Donald Trump.

“The people of our country should decide who becomes the Prime Minister in a General Election.”

 ‘Do or die ‘

“I wish Boris Johnson well as prime minister with his ‘do or die’ pledge to deliver Brexit on October 31,” said Britain’s Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage.

“It is ‘do or die’ not just for Brexit but for the future of the Conservative party too. Does he have the courage to deliver for the country?” he wrote on Twitter.

AFP

Mali Prime Minister Visits Site Of Village Massacre

Officials and residents stand near freshly dug graves on June 11, 2019, in the Dogon village of Sobane-Kou, near Sangha, after an attack that killed over 100 ethnic Dogon on June 9, 2019 evening. PHOTO: STRINGER / AFP

 

The prime minister of Mali visited the site of one of the country’s worst massacres on Tuesday, seeking to reassure terrified residents after an attack that left scores of dead and stoked fears for the fragile Sahel country.

The assault, targeting avillage in largely ethnicDogon enclave in central Mali,bore the hallmarks of a cycle ofinter-community violence that has pitted farmers against herders, claiming hundreds of lives.

Ninety-five people were killed, according to an early toll that remained unconfirmed on Tuesday.

Premier Boubou Cissevisit sought to “convey the support of the nationand check that security measures have been strengthened,” his office told AFP.

The attack on the village of Sobane Da — also called Sobane-Kou — began on Sunday evening and continued well into the night, according to witnesses.

Survivorsdescribed attackers arriving on motorbikes and in trucks and surrounding the village, slaughtering anyone who tried to escape.

Aprovisional death tollof95was given by the government on Monday, although this could be revised, with different officials giving varying figures.

On Monday a security source said the Dogon village had been “virtually wiped out”.

The killing came less than three months after nearly 160 members of the Fulani ethnic group were slaughtered by a group identified as Dogon.

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita cut short a visit to Switzerland and was expected to return to Bamako Tuesday.

“This country cannot be run by a cycle of revenge and vendetta,” he told ORTM public television in Geneva on Monday.

He called on Malians to unite to “allow our nation to survive because this is a question of survival.”

Ethnic tensions

A brutal cycle of violence in central Mali, an ethnic mosaic, began after a predominantly Fulani jihadist group led by preacher Amadou Koufa emerged in 2015.

Jihadists recruited mainly from Fulanis. As a result, Fulanis became associated with Islamist violence, which fuelled tensions with other ethnic groups such as Bambara and Dogon.

The Fulani are primarily cattle breeders and traders, while the Bambara and Dogon are traditionally sedentary farmers.

Aly Dolo, the mayor of Sangha, the district where the massacre occurred, described the attackers as “jihadists”.

“When they arrived, we initially thought of cattle thieves. The residents hid in their huts. The assailants attacked these huts and set them on fire,” he said.

Malian researcher Ousmane Diallo, a specialist on the region, said the details of the attack suggested “jihadist methods.”

But he cautioned that the reality might be more complex and that the attackers’ motivations remained unclear.

On May 16, the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA, announced it had recorded “at least 488 deaths” in attacks on Fulanis in the central regions of Mopti and Segou since January 2018.

In the bloodiest raid, about 160 Fulani villagers were slaughtered on March 23 at Ogossagou, near the border with Burkina Faso, by suspected Dogon hunters.

According to MINUSMA, armed Fulanis had “caused 63 deaths” among civilians in the Mopti region, also since January 2018.

There are currently about 14,700 troops and police deployed in Mali, which ranks as the most dangerous UN mission, with 125 peacekeepers killed in attacks since deployment in 2013.

AFP

PHOTOS: Theresa May Fights Back Tears As She Announces Resignation

 

British Prime Minister Theresa May announced her resignation in an emotional address on Friday, ending a three-year tenure of near-constant crisis over Brexit.

“It is and will always remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit,” May, her voice breaking, said outside her Downing Street office.

See photos below…

Macron Urges ‘Rapid Clarification’ On Brexit As May Steps Down

FILE PHOTO OF PRESIDENT MACRON/ FRANCE TELEVISIONS / AFP

 

President Emmanuel Macron wants to see a “rapid clarification” over Britain’s departure from the European Union after Prime Minister Theresa May announced she would step down next month, the French presidency said Friday.

Macron hailed May for “courageous work” in seeking to implement Brexit in the interests of her country while showing respect for Britain’s European partners, the Elysee said in a statement.

But it added: “The principles of the EU will continue to apply, with the priority on the smooth functioning of the EU, and this requires a rapid clarification.”

READ ALSO: Theresa May: Britain’s Outgoing PM In Dates

Macron has taken a hard line on Brexit over the last months which has sometimes put him at odds with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has pushed for a more flexible stance.

Paris fears that repeated delays to Brexit — which is now scheduled to take place by October 31 — are interfering with the smooth running of the EU and Macron’s own plans for reforming the bloc.

The statement said that while France was ready to work with Britain’s new prime minister, “it is too early to speculate over the consequences of this decision” by May to step down.

May said she would quit as Conservative Party leader on June 7 and would remain as prime minister in a caretaker role until a replacement is elected by the party.

The leader of the party automatically becomes prime minister. Her plan to leave the European Union with a deal she thrashed out with Brussels had been repeatedly rejected by parliament.

A crowded field is expected to contest for the leadership, with hardline Brexit supporter and former foreign secretary Boris Johnson making no secret of his ambitions.

The Elysee warned: “At a time of an important choice, votes of rejection that do not offer an alternative project will lead to an impasse.”

Johnson has repeatedly said Britain should not fear a so-called no-deal Brexit.

AFP

May Implores Parliament To Back Her Brexit Plan

A handout photograph taken and released by the UK Parliament on April 3, 2019 shows Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May attending the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) question and answer session in the House of Commons in London. PHOTO: MARK DUFFY / UK PARLIAMENT / AFP

 

Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday implored British MPs to back her reworked EU divorce deal but saw pro-Brexit Conservatives and opposition parties savage her bid for a compromise to end months of political crisis.

On the eve of European elections Britain had not expected to hold three years after the Brexit referendum, May urged lawmakers who have repeatedly rejected her plan to vote for it in early June so that the country can finally leave the bloc later in the summer.

“The opportunity of Brexit is too large and the consequences of failure too grave to risk further delay,” the prime minister, who has vowed to stand down following the crunch parliamentary vote, told the House of Commons.

“Reject it and all we have before us is division and deadlock.”

May outlined a package of “compromise measures” aimed at securing the support of MPs from the main opposition Labour Party, which included giving parliament a vote on holding a referendum on her divorce deal.

But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who last week pulled out of weeks of cross-party Brexit talks citing the government’s unwillingness to compromise, said it was “little more than a repackaged version of her three-times rejected deal”.

“The rhetoric may have changed but the deal has not,” he added.

Amid strong opposition from May’s Conservative colleagues to the new move, Ian Blackford, leader of the Scottish National Party in Westminster, said the embattled prime minister was “fooling no one but herself.”

“Her own party doesn’t want her deal… Her time is up.”

In a sign of the scale of the apparent internal backlash, Environment Secretary and Brexiteer Michael Gove hinted that the vote in the week of June 3 may not even go ahead.

“We will reflect over the course of the next few days on how people look at the proposition,” he told BBC radio.

‘A question of democracy’

May‘s offer comes as Britain votes in EU elections Thursday with the two main parties trailing behind the Brexit Party and the pro-EU Liberal Democrats, according to polls.

The latest YouGov survey showed eurosceptic populist Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party claiming 37 per cent of votes, with the Lib Dems second on 19 per cent, followed by Labour on 13 per cent and the Tories lagging in fifth place with just seven per cent.

“If we win big on Thursday, we will kill off any prospect of parliament forcing a second referendum upon us because they know they would lose!” Farage told supporters at a final rally Tuesday.

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable, whose party is set to come second in the polls, told a party gathering on Tuesday that a vote for his party was “a vote to stop Brexit”.

The pro-EU party’s outright rejection of Brexit appears to be resonating with Remain voters who would normally back Labour or the Conservatives.

‘Last chance’

May has pitched her “new Brexit deal” as MPs’ “last chance” to end the political gridlock that has already delayed Britain’s departure from the bloc past its original March deadline and prompted public anger.

The government is aiming for the law to be approved by the time parliament’s summer recess begins on July 20, which would let the country leave at the end of that month — as long as lawmakers reject a second referendum.

Otherwise the process could be delayed until October 31 — the deadline set by the EU — or even later if its leaders grant Britain another postponement.

May’s proposals threaten to further infuriate restive eurosceptics in her own Conservative Party.

British media reported party power-brokers may make a fresh attempt later Wednesday to change internal rules to allow an immediate leadership challenge to May.

Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, the favourite to replace her as leader, said on Twitter he would not support her new package, having backed it last time it was put to parliament.

“We can and must do better — and deliver what the people voted for,” he said, rejecting the idea of any customs union or second referendum.

Analysts and British newspapers gave May little-to-no chance of winning on this occasion, with the eurosceptic Daily Telegraph calling her move: “Desperate, deluded, doomed.”

AFP

Netanyahu Battles To Save Weakened Ruling Coalition

FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was battling to keep his government afloat on Friday after Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman quit over a ceasefire deal for Gaza.

Left with a single seat majority in parliament after the walkout by Lieberman and his hawkish Yisrael Beitenu party, most media saw little way for Netanyahu to avoid calling a snap general election.

The veteran prime minister was expected to hold crunch talks later on Friday with his other main right-wing rival, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, whose religious nationalist Jewish Home party has threatened to quit unless he is given Lieberman’s job.

The Gaza ceasefire, which ended the worst flare-up between Israel and the territory’s Islamist rulers Hamas since a 2014 war, faced its first major test later on Friday as Palestinian demonstrators were expected to gather along the border for mass protests that have triggered deadly violence in previous weeks.

The deal has already drawn heavy criticism, however, in Israeli communities near the border that faced barrages of rockets earlier this week.

Hundreds joined a demonstration in Tel Aviv on Thursday despite a promise from Netanyahu of more public money for emergency services.

Pro-Netanyahu freesheet Yisrael Hayom daily predicted that the prime minister would do all he could to avoid a general election while his hard-won security credentials were at issue.

“Holding elections with the fiasco in Gaza in the background cracks the image of the ultimate leader that he has built over the course of years,” it said.

“The chances of stopping this speeding train appear impossible, but Netanyahu is still trying.”

The eight lawmakers of Bennett’s far-right Jewish Home party are not the only threat to Netaynahu’s razor-thin parliamentary majority.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, whose centre-right Kulanu party hold 10 seats, has reportedly told Netanyahu that a snap election is necessary to provide a stable government to keep the economy on track.

But Yisrael Hayom said Bennett was key to efforts to avoid an early election and could yet prove Netanyahu’s political salvation.

“Naftali Bennett as defence minister and Netanyahu as prime minister could together project stability and embark on a coordinated offensive against anyone who gets in the way,” it said.

In a speech on Thursday, Bennett did not reiterate the resignation threat but made his case for why he should get the defence post.

“The most dangerous thing for the state of Israel is that we begin to think that there is no solution to terrorism, to terrorists, to missiles,” he said.

“There is a solution. When Israel wants to win, we will win.”

There were no official details of when or where Bennett would meet Netanyahu on Friday or what public statements if any would be made.

Hundreds of people demonstrated in Tel Aviv on Thursday evening calling for tougher action against Hamas which has portrayed the ceasefire and Lieberman’s resignation as a victory.

Netanyahu — flanked by Kahlon, Interior Minister Arie Deri and army top brass — met with the leaders of Israeli border communities.

He briefed them on military efforts to quell Hamas attacks and also announced a 500 million shekel ($139 million, 119 million euro) two-year package to improve emergency medical and social services, a government statement said.

With a major domestic political battle on his hands, Netanyahu cancelled a planned two-day visit to Austria next week for a conference on anti-semitism and anti-Zionism.

There has long been speculation that Netanyahu would call a general election before its scheduled date of November 2019.

Police have recommended he be charged in two separate corruption cases and the attorney general is expected to announce in the coming months whether to put him on trial.

Analysts say the prime minister would be better positioned to fight any charges with a fresh mandate from the voters.

But he would not have chosen to go the polls with voters’ attention focused on the Gaza ceasefire and his rivals’ efforts to outbid his security credentials.

AFP

Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed Fills Half Of Cabinet With Women

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed

 

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday unveiled a downsized cabinet where, in a first, half the members are women, a top official said.

Women occupy key positions in the 20-member cabinet that includes a newly created Ministry of Peace to oversee the federal police and intelligence agencies, Abiy’s Chief of Staff Fitsum Arega said.

“Women are assigned to run key ministerial portfolios including ministries of Peace, Trade and Industry, and Defence,” he tweeted.

The new Minister of National Defence, Aisha Mohammed, is the first woman to hold the post. Minister of Peace Muferiat Kamil is the former speaker of parliament.

The previous cabinet had 28 ministers, of which only five were women.

The shakeup is the latest in a series of dramatic reforms implemented by Abiy since he took office in April after more than two years of anti-government unrest that contributed to his predecessor’s sudden resignation.

The prime minister’s measures have included ending two decades of conflict with neighboring Eritrea, releasing jailed dissidents, welcoming formerly banned groups back into the country and announcing plans to privatize major state-owned industries.

Abiy, 42, took office after anti-government protests began in late 2015 by Ethiopia’s two largest ethnic groups against the heavy-handed rule of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), which controls every seat in parliament together with its allies.

But since taking power, his government has been rocked by successive ethnic clashes in the countryside including violence in southern Ethiopia that has displaced nearly one million people.

AFP