Merkel To Seek Fourth Term As German Chancellor

Angela MerkelAngela Merkel told top members of her party on Sunday that she wants to run for a fourth term as German chancellor in next year’s election.

Reuters reports that senior party sources gave a hint of her plan after months of speculation about one of the world’s most powerful women.

Despite a voter backlash over her open-door migrant policy, the conservative is seen as a stabilising force in Europe amid uncertainty caused by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and the election of Donald Trump as the next U.S. president.

Merkel told leading figures in her Christian Democrat (CDU) party about her intentions at a meeting to prepare for the September election, several participants said.

Colleagues welcomed the long-awaited decision, which she is expected to announce at a news conference at 18:00 GMT.
“Angela Merkel stands for stability, reliability and thoughtfulness,” senior CDU politician, Julia Kloeckner, said.

“With her straightforward and calm nature she had led us safely through the financial and economic crises,” she told the Rheinische Post newspaper.

Merkel, 62, has steered Europe’s biggest economy through the euro zone debt crisis and has won respect internationally, for example with her efforts to help solve the Ukraine crisis. U.S. President Barack Obama last week described her as an “outstanding” ally.

With Trump’s victory in the United States and the rise in support for right-wing parties in Europe, some commentators see Merkel as a bastion of Western liberal values.

Stakeholders Meet In Rivers Over Niger Delta Security

niger delta, stakeholders, rivers, securityEfforts towards achieving stability in the Niger Delta seem to have begun, following a meeting of key stakeholders in Port-Harcourt the Rivers state capital.

The meeting had in attendance, members of the Niger Delta Contact Group made up of traditional rulers from Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom And Delta states, as well as representatives of the Pan Niger Delta group.

They met with development partners from the European Union, the United States and the UK, as well as the Federal Government team, led by the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs.

In addition to forging a common front for dialogue, the NDCG also canvassed that the forthcoming Niger Delta summit should be held in the region.

Similarly, a meeting was held recently in Delta State, involving all stakeholders, as part of measures towards finding lasting solutions to the crisis in the region which had crippled oil production.

A militant group known as Niger Delta Avengers has claimed responsibility for the recent attacks on oil-producing facilities causing the shutdown of oil terminals and a fall in Nigeria’s oil production to its lowest level.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday also assured U.S. President Barack Obama, during the U.N General Assembly that Nigeria is making steady progress towards resolving the problems in the Niger Delta region.









Obama Prods Vietnam On Political Freedom

Barack-Obama-on-Buhari-VisitU.S. President Barack Obama chided Vietnam on political freedoms on Tuesday after critics of the communist-run government were prevented from meeting him in Hanoi, a discordant note on a trip otherwise steeped in words of amity between the former foes.

Tens of thousands turned out to welcome Obama on the second leg of his visit, to Ho Chi Minh City, which was called Saigon until North Vietnamese tanks rolled into the city in April 1975 to bring U.S.-backed South Vietnam under communist rule.

Many in the crowd that lined the streets chanted “Obama, Obama” as his motorcade arrived to visit the century-old Jade Emperor Pagoda. Some held handwritten signs reading, “Obama, we love you”, and one woman held a boy dressed in a Captain America costume, complete with shield.

Underlining the importance of the growing economic ties between the two former foes, Obama held an open forum with young entrepreneurs and laid out the benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact between 12 Pacific Rim countries.

But the high point of his visit was on Monday, with his announcement that Washington is scrapping its embargo on the sale of lethal arms to Vietnam. That clears the biggest hurdle remaining between two countries drawn together by concern over China’s military build-up.

Critics said that by removing the ban, a vestige of the Vietnam War, Washington had put concerns about Beijing’s assertiveness in the South China Sea first and given up a critical lever to press Hanoi for improvements in human rights.

Freedoms Still A Concern

One prominent intellectual, Nguyen Quang A, told Reuters that about 10 policemen had come to his house at 6:30 a.m. and put him in a car that was driven out of the capital until Obama was about to leave.

An outspoken lawyer, Ha Huy Son, said he was also stopped from joining a meeting Obama held with six other civil society leaders. Human Rights Watch said a journalist who was also invited had been arrested on Monday.

“The Vietnam government has demonstrated today that it doesn’t deserve the closer ties the U.S. is offering,” said John Sifton, the group’s Asia advocacy director.

Obama commented later that several activists had been blocked from attending and said this was an indication that, despite some “modest” legal reforms “there are still folks who find it very difficult to assemble and organise peacefully around issues that they care deeply about”.

“There are still areas of significant concern in terms of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, accountability with respect to government,” he said.

Quang A, a former IT entrepreneur, was one of more than 100 Vietnamese who tried to run as independents for last weekend’s election to the parliament, which is tightly controlled by the Communist Party. Almost all failed to get on the ballot.

Before he was taken away, Quang A posted on Facebook a photograph of himself dressing for the meeting with Obama, with the message: “Before going. May be intercepted, arrested. Advising so people know.”

Vietnam’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

U.S. Will Act Against Islamic State In Libya If Needed -White House

white houseU.S. President Barack Obama will continue to be updated on the risks of the spread of Islamic State to Libya, and the United States will take action in the North African country to counter that threat if necessary, the White House said on Wednesday.

“If there is a need for the United States to take unilateral action to protect the American people, the president won’t hesitate to do that,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.

Earnest declined to comment on whether Obama had made any decisions on the possibility of sending ground troops into Libya, but said the president has “demonstrated a willingness to take decisive action,” even in Libya.

Islamic State forces have attacked Libya’s oil infrastructure and established a foothold in the city of Sirte, exploiting a power vacuum in the country where two rival governments have been battling for supremacy.

Libya’s two warring administrations are expected to form a unity government.

Earnest said the United States would support the unity government on a range of national security measures, but it was too early to say what form that assistance would take.

“The more that we can bolster the capacity of the national unity government to govern that country, the better off we will be,” he said.