15 Killed In Suspected Rebel Attacks In Thailand

 

At least fifteen people were gunned down in an ambush by suspected Muslim militants in Thailand’s violence-wracked south, an army spokesman said on Wednesday, one of the bloodiest days in the 15-year insurgency.

Thailand’s three southernmost provinces have been in the grip of a conflict that has killed more than 7,000 people, as Malay-Muslim militants fight for more autonomy from the Thai state.

Despite the high death toll, the highly localised unrest garners few international headlines.

The region is heavily controlled by the police and the military, with residents and rights groups accusing them of heavy-handed tactics.

Villagers trained and armed by security forces are also enlisted to monitor remote villages, though they are rarely targeted by the rebels.

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This changed late Tuesday when militants struck two checkpoints in Yala province manned by civilian defence volunteers, opening fire on them as a group of villagers stopped to talk, southern army spokesman Pramote Prom-in told AFP.

In the largest death toll in years, “twelve were killed at the scene, two more (died) at the hospital, and one died this morning”, said Pramote, adding that five others were injured.

The attackers took M-16 rifles and shotguns from the checkpoints, he said. “These acts were by militants.”

Nails were also scattered on the roads in an apparent effort to slow the security forces, the army said in a separate statement.

A bomb squad was dispatched Wednesday morning to investigate and detonate an explosive device suspected to have been left by fleeing attackers about three kilometres (1.9 miles) from one checkpoint.

The southern army commander told reporters that the attackers were targeting “weak points”.

“This is just to gain the headlines and scare Thai people nationwide,” said Pornsak Poonsawasdi.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha said the perpetrators must “be brought to justice”, according to Defence Ministry spokesman Kongcheep Tantravanich.

– Tit-for-tat attacks –
Rebels seeking autonomy for the culturally distinct region bordering Malaysia have been fighting the Buddhist-majority Thai state, which colonised the area over a century ago.

The conflict is characterised by tit-for-tat attacks that usually target symbols of the Thai state and its security forces but civilians from both Muslim and Buddhist communities often get caught in the crossfire.

The violence has bled into tourist destinations, like in 2012 when a series of car bombs in Songkhla province’s Hat Yai killed 13 people.

The incidents have been fewer in recent years, but the hits have become “more intense”, said Don Pathan, an expert on the so-called Deep South.

Tuesday’s attack marked the largest coordinated effort “in a very long time”, he added.

It comes days after Bangkok hosted the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit, which brought head of states from all over the world — along with hundreds of foreign journalists.

“It (the attack) is a reminder that they are still here,” Pathan said.

Civilian defence volunteers rarely draw the rebels’ ire “unless if they cross the line and become part of the government security apparatus”, he added.

The rebels accuse the state of railroading their distinct culture as well as carrying out routine abuses which go unpunished.

The latest incident stoking outrage in the region was the death in August of Abdulloh Esormusor, a Muslim man who was detained by the military and left in a coma after being interrogated at a notorious Thai detention centre.

Suspects are routinely taken for interrogation and held under emergency laws in detention centres where rights groups have documented torture.

Days after Abdulloh’s detention, four people were killed in a late-night attack on a military outpost, fuelling speculation of a retaliatory operation.

A week later, several small bombs exploded in Bangkok, injuring four people as the city hosted a major summit attended by top diplomats, including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Thailand has linked the bombs to southern insurgents — though no group ever claimed responsibility for the attacks.

2032 Summer Games Bid: North, South Korea Delegates Meet IOC

File photo of North and South Korea Flag

The two Koreas on Friday agreed to hold talks with the International Olympic Committee on their joint bid for the 2032 Summer Games in February, Seoul said, as a rapid diplomatic thaw takes hold on the peninsula.

North and South Korean officials will meet with the IOC in Lausanne, Switzerland on February 15 to discuss the prospects of co-hosting the 2032 Olympics, according to a joint statement following a cross-border meeting on Friday.

Making a joint bid for the 2032 Games was part of a broader agreement made between the North’s leader Kim Jong Un and the South’s President Moon Jae-in during their third summit in Pyongyang in September.

If it materializes, it will mark the first time for the Olympics, summer or winter, to be shared by two countries.

The two sides also agreed to form unified teams at the Tokyo Summer Paralympics in 2020, in addition to their earlier deal to jointly compete at the Olympics in the same year.

They have yet to determine which Olympic sport will have North and South Koreans on the same team, but the South’s chief delegate said a decision will be reached in the next few weeks.

“We agreed to narrow down the sports to those that will see a synergy effect under cooperation between the South and North,” vice sports minister Roh Tae-kang said after the meeting, according to pool reports.

The two Koreas technically remain at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice instead of a peace treaty with military clashes often erupting along the frontier.

But ties improved markedly after Pyongyang sent athletes and top delegates — including leader Kim’s younger sister — to the 2018 Winter Games held in the South in February, for which the two rivals also formed a joint women’s ice hockey team.

Kim has made a series of reconciliatory gestures since then, including a landmark summit with US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June and three summits with Moon — a dove who advocates dialogue with the North.

AFP

Complaints Trail APGA National Assembly Primaries

APGAThe House of Representatives primary election have failed to hold for the second time in Awka North and South Federal Constituencies in Anambra State, following complaints of a fake delegate list smuggled into the venue to favour one of the aspirants out of the three in the election.

Reacting to the development, the incumbent member representing the constituency in the House of Representatives, Mr. Emeke Nwogbo, said that aside the mockery of democracy being made in the conduct of the primary election, a warrant of arrest had been placed on him by the Police for reasons not known to him.

In a similar development, another aspirant in the election, Mr. Uche Onyilofor, expressed dismay at the desperation of politicians during elections, maintaining that if the election had gone free and fair, it would have been in his favour.

The primary, however, was concluded with a sitting member of the State House of Assembly emerging the winner, winning with 104 votes.

In another development in Idemili North and South, the election was concluded around 9PM but it was very peaceful.

Despite being a lone aspirant in the Senate race for Anambra Central Senatorial District, over 400 delegates turned out at the venue in Awka for the primary election to vote for Victor Umeh, the National Chairman of APGA.

The delegates went through the process of accreditation and voting began immediately. Amongst the delegates was the Deputy Governor, Dr. Nkem Okeke, who urged the people to keep supporting the party that will cater for their future.

The National Chairman, having been declared the winner, also addressed the delegates, stressing his determination to entrench continued internal democracy in the party.

Presently, out of the eleven federal constituencies in the state, five still remained inconclusive while complaints and dissatisfaction trail the majority of the concluded ones.

However, many of the aggrieved aspirants have urged Governor Willie Obiano and the National Chairman of the party, Victor Umeh, to intervene and save the situation in the interest of the party.

Osun Election: Analysts Say APC Should Learn From Fayose’s Ekiti Tactics

Pol TodayNigerian politics and its democracy are beginning to favour the people as recent happenings have shown that the masses’ views were beginning to matter in the scheme of things.

This was a view shared by a Political Science lecturer at the University of Lagos, Dr. Kayode Eesuola on the Sunday edition of Channels Television’s Politics Today.

He made reference to the outcome of the governorship election in Ekiti and the friendly reactions that trailed the victory of Ayo Fayose over the incumbent, Governor Kayode Fayemi.

A political analyst, Chima Nnaji, who was also on the programme, referred to the move by Governor Fayemi as a good sign for the future of Nigerian politics. He noted particularly the timing of Fayemi’s concession as one that was crucial, as he was able to prevent a possible breakdown of law and order by aggrieved supporters.

With the Osun State governorship election approaching, it is expected that the opposition would be doing all possible to prevent another shocking defeat at the polls.

The APC National Vice Chairman, South, Segun Oni, had said earlier in the week that the Ekiti election was “a new dimension to rigging” and the party was not going to allow a repeat of the same outcome in Osun State.

Dr. Eesuola referred to Oni’s comments as proof that the All Progressives Congress lacked ideologies as the difference in his position with that of the defeated Governor Fayemi showed that there was no synergy of ideologies and there could be crises within the party.

On the claim that the election was rigged, he said it was a case of “the kettle calling the cooking pot black” as all the parties rely on the same strategy.

Mr Nnaji also referred to the statement as a wrong signal. He opined that at the moment “strategy should drive action”, adding that the party’s communication should have focused on moving on, and accepting what has happened in Ekiti as a way to learn lessons and prevent making same mistakes they made, as this would have been the dignified way of reacting.

“Give dignity to the electorates in Ekiti”, he said.

He cited the campaign approaches of the Ekiti State Governor-elect, Ayo Fayose, who rode very much on voter education by constantly appealing to his supporters to collect their voters’ cards and asking them to show same at his rallies. He said that he expected the APC to ask among themselves what Fayose did right that they could also do right in Osun.

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) held a rally in Lagos with thousands of supporters and party leaders, including the Ekiti victor, Fayose, during the week and the party emphasized its resolve to go ahead, spurred by the Ekiti episode, to capture the entire South-West.

Another political analyst, Dr Idoko, however, noted that while the euphoria was understandable, it did not reflect the reality of things, as the Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, was a different politician to Kayode Fayemi and therefore represents a different kind of opponent for the PDP.

He went down the history lane to relate the current situation to that of the South-West politics in the days of late MKO Abiola up till the emergence of former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu, as a political bigwig. He maintained that the people had a good idea of what they want.

While he agreed that Ekiti was a good victory, he stated that Osun State would be very dicey for the PDP, adding that their quest to take over the South-West region might not come easy in those states except Oyo State.

He posited that Fayemi’s error in Ekiti State was that he did not play the politics of poverty but rather focused on the politics of development which according to him was not a bad thing but only did not mean much to the people. “You must meet the immediate needs of the people to be able to collect something from them”, he said.

He blamed Fayemi for losing the Ekiti State, and that the PDP should not assume that there was a major shift already as Fayose’s victory did not mean that the Ekiti people had made the right choice.

ANPP Inaugurates Convention Committee

[highlight]The All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) has inaugurated a national convention committee with the governor of Zamfara State, Abdulazeez Abubakar Yari, as Chairman while Emma Eneukwu, the National Publicity secretary of the party will serve as secretary.[/highlight]

Performing the inauguration in Abuja, the National Chairman of the party,  Ogbonnaya Onu said Nigeria are yearning for change and this change can only come when votes count and the voters matter.

He aid that major opposition political parties need to come together as a single political party so that politics in Nigeria can be played with two strong political parties adding that when this happens, no one can easily pre-determine which of the two political parties can continuously win a general election.

He further said that with the planned merger by opposition parties, it is certain that the way politics is played in Nigeria will change forever.

The convention committee which is expected to deliberate on the proposed merger with other opposition parties has 20 members apart from the chairman and the secretary.