Friday 20 April 2018

In the world

(AFP )

The Democratic Party filed a lawsuit Friday alleging that Russia, WikiLeaks and top officials from Donald Trump's campaign conspired to tilt the 2016 US presidential election in the Republican's favor.

The civil complaint filed in federal district court in Manhattan by the Democratic National Committee alleges that Russia informed Trump's campaign that it had conducted a cyber-attack on the DNC, leading to the release of information damaging to Trump's rival Hillary Clinton.

(AFP )

A row erupted Friday between Romania's government and President Klaus Iohannis over a proposal to move the country's embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The foreign ministry announced that "a process of analysis and evaluation with the aim of transferring the embassy has been launched".

Prime Minister Viorica Dancila of the left-wing Social Democratic Party confirmed Friday the government had adopted a memorandum on moving the embassy but added that other steps needed to be taken before a final decision.

(AFP )

France, the United States and Britain have amended a draft resolution on Syria, seeking UN Security Council support for a political and humanitarian response to the conflict that has so far met resistance from Russia.

The original draft, which failed to get the support of Russia, expressed outrage and condemnation of the April 7 chemical attack in the town of Douma, where more than 40 people were killed.

The latest version, which was obtained by AFP, also condemns the attack but was amended to read "the reported use of chemical weapons."

(AFP )

The is no current risk to Spain's solid economic growth from the separatist crisis in the country's Catalonia province, a senior International Monetary Fund official said Friday.

The Catalan dispute "is a political issue," which could potentially create a drag on growth, but there are none currently apparent, said Poul Thomsen, head of the IMF's European Department.

"I am not concerned about risks being on the downside in the near term," he told reporters during the IMF spring meetings, which go through Saturday.

(AFP )

The United States branded strategic rivals China and Russia "forces of instability" on Friday, grouping them with Iran and North Korea as countries whose rights abuses amount to a global threat.

The charge was made by acting secretary of state John Sullivan as he launched Washington's annual global human rights report, which this year is focused on destabilizing abuses by state actors.

(AFP )

Equatorial Guinea's opposition on Friday criticised the oil rich country for hosting a rights conference, claiming institutional killings, torture and imprisonment were "common currency" at home.

A small state of 1.2 million people, awash with oil but mired in poverty and a reputation for corruption, Equatorial Guinea has been ruled with an iron fist by Teodoro Obiang Nguema since 1979.

"Human rights violations are common currency and used by those who wield power in Equatorial Guinea," said the main opposition Citizens for Innovation (CI) party.

(AFP )

France is set to back Morocco in the north African country's bid to host the 2026 World Cup, the president of the French Football Association said on Friday.

"FIFA are visiting Morocco this week to check if the pitches are ready and whether, on a technical level, Morocco can be a candidate. If Morocco is retained (as a candidate), the French Football Federation will support it," Noel Le Graet said at a sponsorship event on Friday.

Morocco is the only alternative to a united bid from the United States, Canada and Mexico to host the 2026 tournament.

(AFP )

France on Friday deported an influential Islamic preacher whose mosque in the southern city of Marseille was shut down last year over accusations of hate speech.

The expulsion of Algeria-born El Hadi Doudi back to his home country came after his appeal with the European Court of Human Rights was rejected earlier this week.

Doudi, 63, had long been on the radar of Marseille police, who considered him an "authority" on Salafist interpretations of Islam, a Sunni branch which demands a strict conservative lifestyle.

(AFP )

Thousands protested along the Gaza Strip's border with Israel in a fourth straight Friday of mass demonstrations and clashes, with four Palestinians shot dead by Israeli forces.

Gazans also flew dozens of kites near the border fence, in some cases carrying Molotov cocktails and one with a swastika painted on it, in a new tactic that sparked at least two small fires in Israeli territory this week.

(AFP )

Cuba's president may no longer be named Castro, but the communist system that Fidel and Raul cemented over the course of decades is not going anywhere, at least not soon.

Raul Castro, 86, and his new successor as president, Miguel Diaz-Canel, 57, will ensure that it survives even if more pro-market reforms are badly needed.

Indeed, his relinquishing the presidency after 60 years of Castro rule, while important, is not expected to shake up Cuba in any major way, at least over the short term.

(AFP )

Residents of the tiny African kingdom of Swaziland on Friday weighed up their country's new official name after the king unexpectedly announced it would now be known as "eSwatini".

King Mswati III, one of the world's few absolute monarchs, declared the name change at celebrations on Thursday marking 50 years since independence from British colonial rule.

Meaning "place of the Swazi", eSwatini is the local Swazi language name for the nation landlocked between South Africa and Mozambique.

(AFP )

Commonwealth leaders agreed Friday that Prince Charles should follow his mother Queen Elizabeth II as the next head of the group, the BBC and other media reported.

Queen Elizabeth on Thursday told leaders from the 53 member states that she wanted her eldest son to succeed her in the symbolic figurehead role.

Leaders, gathered at Windsor Castle for private talks, agreed that Charles, heir to the thrones of 16 Commonwealth nations, should follow the monarch in the non-hereditary position, the BBC, Sky News television and the domestic Press Association news agency reported.

(AFP )

Riot police raided a university in Paris on Friday to evict students who staged a three-week sit-in over new education policies, the latest flashpoint in protests against President Emmanuel Macron's sweeping reforms.

Around 100 officers took part in the dawn raid on the 22-storey tower block dominating the Tolbiac campus, one of several French faculties occupied in an echo of the momentous student-led protests of May 1968.

(AFP )

US President Donald Trump criticized the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Friday for what he said were artificially high oil prices, adding they "will not be accepted."

His comments on Twitter came as ministers from some top global crude producers met in Saudi Arabia to discuss maintaining limits on oil production.

"Looks like OPEC is at it again," Trump tweeted. "With record amounts of Oil all over the place, including the fully loaded ships at sea, Oil prices are artificially Very High! No good and will not be accepted!"

(AFP )

Police arrested some 230 people as opposition supporters staged sit-ins and attempted to block traffic in Armenia's capital Friday, the latest protests at what they brand a power-grab by ex-president Serzh Sarkisian.

For the past week, thousands of opposition supporters have held rallies to denounce Sarkisian's efforts to remain in power as prime minister after a decade serving as president.

On Friday, demonstrators waved national flags and held up placards reading "Sarkisian is a dictator" as protests in the impoverished former Soviet country went into their eighth day.

(AFP )

Saudi Energy Minister Khaled al-Faleh said Friday the global market has the capacity to absorb higher oil prices, drawing a swift reaction from US President Donald Trump who accused OPEC of inflating prices.

Faleh's statement at a meeting of oil producers in Saudi Arabia came as crude hit the highest level in more than three years.

"Looks like OPEC is at it again," Trump tweeted.

"With record amounts of Oil all over the place, including the fully loaded ships at sea, Oil prices are artificially Very High! No good and will not be accepted!"

(AFP )

Britain would "strongly support" Zimbabwe's return to the Commonwealth, the foreign ministry said on Friday after talks between British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and his Zimbabwean counterpart in London.

Sibusiso Moyo was in London for talks on the margins of the 2018 Commonwealth summit aimed at resetting the isolated country's relations with the world after the downfall of president Robert Mugabe.

(AFP )

About 80 Rohingya in a wooden boat arrived in Indonesia Friday, officials said, the latest batch of the vulnerable minority to come ashore in the world's biggest Muslim majority nation.

The group landed in Aceh province on Sumatra island, just weeks after dozens of the persecuted Muslim minority from Myanmar came ashore in neighbouring Malaysia.

All appeared to be in good condition, according to local police chief Riza Yulianto, who added that it was not clear how long they had been at sea.

(AFP )

A Myanmar police chief ordered officers to set up a Reuters reporter by handing over sensitive documents to him in a sting operation that also ensnared his colleague, a police official told a court Friday.

Reporters Wa Lone, 32 and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28 were detained in December after meeting police for dinner in Yangon and accused of violating the country's Official Secrets Act for possessing material relating to operations in conflict-hit Rakhine state.

(AFP )

Basque separatist group ETA asked forgiveness from its victims for the first time Friday for the "pain" caused by its decades-long campaign of violence, in a penultimate step towards disbandment.

It was the most comprehensive apology yet by the group, which a mediator says is set to announce its dissolution in a historic declaration within days.

ETA waged a nearly four-decade campaign of bombings and shootings for an independent Basque state in northern Spain and southern France.

(AFP )

German police have detained a Porsche manager in a probe into the diesel emissions cheating scandal that the luxury car brand's parent company Volkswagen has struggled to shed.

Porsche chief Oliver "Blume informed the workforce that the prosecutor of Stuttgart has taken a manager into custody", a spokesman for Porsche told AFP on Friday.

(AFP )

German police have detained a Porsche manager in a probe into the diesel emissions cheating scandal hanging over the luxury car brand's parent company Volkswagen.

Porsche chief Oliver "Blume informed the workforce that the prosecutor of Stuttgart has taken a manager into custody", a spokesman for Porsche told AFP on Friday.

(AFP )

Dozens were arrested as hundreds of opposition supporters staged sit-ins and attempted to block road traffic in Armenia's capital Friday to protest ex-president Serzh Sarkisian's election as prime minister.

Many of the demonstrators waved national flags and held up placards reading "Sarkisian is a dictator".

Some attempted to block roads in response to repeated calls by the leader of the protests, opposition MP Nikol Pashinyan to paralyse traffic.

Police said dozens of people were detained.

(AFP )

Russian president Vladimir Putin is "ready for a meeting" with his US counterpart Donald Trump, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday.

Moscow's chief diplomat added that such a summit was not currently being discussed but the Kremlin hopes that a meeting at the White House would materialise.

"President Putin is ready for such a meeting," Lavrov said in an interview with state news agency RIA Novosti.

(AFP )

Palestinians protesting along the Gaza border have begun attaching Molotov cocktails to kites to fly over the fence into Israel in a new tactic as demonstrations enter their fourth week.

For protests set for Friday, Gazans were hoping to send dozens of kites over the fence, including some carrying notes telling Israelis "there is no place for you in Palestine."

On the eve of Friday's protests, a group of young people worked with coloured paper and empty coke bottles under a tree in an olive orchard hundreds of metres from the Israeli border east of Gaza City.

(AFP )

Sri Lanka announced Friday it would establish new police posts and step up patrols at popular resorts after a spate of sexual attacks and violence targeting foreign tourists.

Police chief Pujith Jayasundara said 20 new stations would be established at holiday hotspots to protect visitors from touts and criminals, despite concerns his force was already overstretched.

"I wish we had more men and resources for this job, but we are making adjustments to our deployments to ensure better productivity," Jayasundara said.

(AFP )

An Indian court Friday acquitted an ally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was the most senior figure convicted over the deadly 2002 Gujarat religious riots.

Maya Kodnani, who served as a minister in the Gujarat state government then led by Modi, was sentenced to 28 years in jail in 2012 over the killing of 97 Muslims in the worst massacre during the riots.

Kodnani, 63, appealed to the Gujarat High Court which gave her the benefit of the doubt but upheld the convictions of 12 other accused, including Babu Bajrangi, a firebrand leader of a Hindu right-wing outfit.

(AFP )

The two Koreas opened a hotline between their leaders Friday, a week before a summit between North Korea's Kim Jong Un and the South's President Moon Jae-in in the Demilitarized Zone.

The line links the presidential Blue House in Seoul with the Pyongyang office of the nuclear-armed North's State Affairs Commission, which Kim chairs - one of his most important titles.

(AFP )

The newly named top police commander of the Philippines pledged Friday to keep up President Rodrigo Duterte's bloody anti-drug war despite fresh international condemnation over the killings.

Director General Oscar Albayalde, who was sworn in Thursday, will now lead the narcotics crackdown that has killed thousands since Duterte came to power just under two years ago.

"How to sustain the drug war? In order to sustain it, we will not change anything," Albayalde told reporters at his first press conference as commander.

(AFP )

Hundreds of neo-Nazis were expected to gather on Adolf Hitler's birthday Friday for a two-day festival in a small eastern German town where anti-fascist groups have vowed counter-protests.

A major police deployment aims to prevent violence during the "Schild und Schwert" (Shield and Sword, or SS) festival near the Polish and Czech borders that is expected to also attract eastern European extremists.

Some 1,100 police are backed by water cannon and boats patrolling the Neisse border river, on the bank of which the festival is held, reported the local Saechsische Zeitung.

(AFP )

French riot police raided a university in Paris Friday to force out dozens of students who shut down the campus for a month in protest over President Emmanuel Macron's higher education reforms.

Around a hundred officers poured into the 22-storey tower dominating the Tolbiac campus on the Left Bank of the Seine, one of several French campuses that students have occupied in an echo of the momentous student revolt of May 1968.

Some of the students tried to flee while others threw bottles and other objects at the police, an AFP journalist at the scene said.

(AFP )

German police began evacuating thousands of people around Berlin's central railway station on Friday, as bomb disposal experts prepare to move in to defuse an unexploded World War II explosive unearthed on a building site.

Trains, trams and buses were halted or rerouted as police using a van-mounted loud-hailer announced the operation to dispose of the British 500-kilogramme (1,100-pound) bomb found more than 70 years after the war.

(AFP )

The Basque separatist group ETA apologised Friday for the "pain" and "harm" it caused during its decades-long campaign of violence, and appealed to its victims for forgiveness.

"We have caused a lot of pain, and irreparable harm. We want to show our respect to the dead, to the wounded and to the victims of the actions of ETA... We sincerely regret it," it said in a statement released in the Basque newspaper Gara.

The statement came just days before ETA is expected to announce its dissolution.

(AFP )

A group of amorous couples and alleged sex workers were publicly whipped for breaking Islamic law in Indonesia's Aceh Friday, just a week after the province pledged to move the widely condemned practice indoors.

More than a thousand people, including dozens of tourists from neighbouring Malaysia, jeered and screamed abuse at the group as they were flogged outside a mosque in the capital Banda Aceh.

(AFP )

Visitors to a zoo in southeastern China killed one kangaroo and injured another by throwing bricks at them in an attempt to get a reaction from the big marsupials, state media reported.

A 12-year-old female kangaroo suffered a severely injured foot when it was struck by bricks and concrete chunks on February 28 at the Fuzhou Zoo in Fujian province, China Central Television reported.

The kangaroo died days later and an examination by a veterinarian revealed that the cause of death was likely a ruptured kidney caused by being struck by the projectiles.