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Challenge to Swaziland name change

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A pro-democracy activist in Swaziland has challenged the king’s decision to change the country’s name.
In April, King Mswati III, one of the world’s last-remaining absolute monarchs, unexpectedly announced he was changing the country’s official name to the Kingdom of eSwatini.
The activist, Thulani Maseko, argued in papers submitted to the High Court that the decision was invalid because there had been no prior public consultation.
He said the decision was whimsical and a waste of money in a country with serious health problems.
The government has not yet responded to the challenge.

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U.S Shutdown: Trump Walks Out On Democrats

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President Donald Trump has walked out of a meeting with democratic leaders as negotiations broke down on the partial U.S government shutdown.

Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer’s refusal to fund his US-Mexico border wall, prompted trump to call the meeting “a total waste of time”.
Democrats again accused the president of throwing a “Temper Tantrum”.

The first payday since the shutdown began is due on Friday for 800,000 federal workers, who will go unpaid.
Trump has demanded $5.7bn to build a steel barrier, which would deliver on a key campaign pledge. But democrats – who control the House of Representatives – have refused to back the funding.
The president met with the Democratic Party leaders in the situation room, the conference centre in the west wing basement.
Mr trump posed a direct question to house speaker Nancy Pelosi about whether she would fund the wall. And she said no.
Trump just got up and said, ‘then we have nothing to discuss,’ and he just walked out.

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Opposition Candidate Tshisekedi Declared Winner Of D.R. Congo Election

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Mr Tshisekedi of the opposition has won the D.R Congo presidential election even with the final result yet to be announced.

The announcement however sparked accusations of an “electoral coup” from runner-up martin Fayulu.
France said the figures did not match results collated on the ground by monitors from the Catholic Church.

The ruling party, whose candidate finished third, is yet to contest the result, raising accusations of a power sharing deal with Mr Tshisekedi.
Tshisekedi team has denied the allegation.
If confirmed, Mr Tshisekedi will be the first opposition challenger to win since the DR Congo gained independence in 1960.
Current president joseph Kabila is stepping down after 18 years in office.
The capital Kinshasa and other key cities appeared calm on Thursday, but fears remain that the announcement of the result could trigger unrest. UN chief Antonio Guterres appealed for all parties to refrain from violence.

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UN calls for peaceful elections in Nigeria

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for peaceful, inclusive and credible elections in Nigeria.
Guterres made the call in a report to the Security Council on the activities of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS).
Appeal for Peace
The UN chief also appealed for peace in other countries in the West African sub-region holding elections in 2019.
He noted that there had been incremental improvement in the conduct of elections in the region.
“However, the pre-and post-electoral periods have often been characterised by antagonistic contestations and disputes.
“I call upon authorities and national stakeholders to work together to ensure a level playing field and to create an environment conducive to the holding of peaceful, inclusive and credible elections in 2019 in Benin, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Nigeria and Senegal.
“In Nigeria, tensions have been rising ahead of the presidential and parliamentary elections of Feb. 16, and of the gubernatorial and state assembly elections of March 2,″ Guterres said.
According to him, concerns were raised by the alleged instrumentalisation of security forces in recent gubernatorial elections”.
Vote Buying
The UN scribe said there were also concerns in the surge in alleged vote buying.
He said the challenges related to the ability of internally displaced persons to participate in the polls amid ongoing terrorism and violence between farmers and herders, is also a concern.
The UN chief also noted what he termed “a series of high-profile defections” from one political party to the other in the country.

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Vatican Spokesman, Deputy Resign

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The spokesman for the Vatican and his deputy resigned suddenly on Monday.

It gave no reason for the resignation of Greg Burke, an American, and Paloma Garcia Ovejero, a Spaniard, but they quit several weeks after Pope Francis appointed an Italian journalist and personal friend, Andrea Tornielli, to become editorial director of Vatican communications.

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Cambodia Community Where Girls Are Encouraged To Sleep With Multiple Men To Find “The One”

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In the deep region of Ratanakiri in northeastern Cambodia lie the Kreung people. A people invested in agriculture, electricity is a strange occurrence. Food, shelter and love are the principal needs of these people.
Unlike cultures where smoking and drinking is not allowed, teenage boys and girls have free will to. Also, in the areas of love, there is the belief that finding the right man requires a deep search through sex in the “love huts”.

Once a girl clocks 13, her father builds a hut where a girl can sexually experiment with any boy she likes.
Boys in Kreung are taught to be respectful towards girls. Because their respect for girls will determine if they will continue to maintain the number of livestock they have, they are at the liberty of responding politely to sleeping with her or just talking when they get invited to the hut.

Owing to this cultural uniqueness, the Kreung people forbid divorce. The community encourages girls to have as many boyfriends as she wants and can invite them at the same time into the hut. Jealousy and rape are unheard of.
Once she no longer finds him attractive, she can leave him for another. Despite these relations, they cannot be seen in the public with their lover unless they are engaged or married.
On the cases of pregnancy, the girl chooses who she opines will be best to raise the unborn child.
Despite the existence of this culture, HIV/AIDS was not detected in the country until 1991. From then until 2003, Cambodia had one of the highest HIV/AIDS occurrences in Asia.
However, because of modernisation and the rigorous attempt by the Royal Government of Cambodia, this culture is no longer as rampant as before.

 

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Arrest warrant issued for Grace Mugabe

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The wife of former Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe was accused of assaulting a woman in 2017

AN ARREST warrant for former Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe has been issued in South Africa.
The arrest is the result of a 2017 altercation between Mrs Mugabe and South African model Gabriella Engels, who accused the Zimbabwean of assaulting her at a hotel in Sandton in August 2017, allegedly with an electrical extension cord.
Pictures shared by Engels on social media show a large gash on her forehead due to the alleged encounter. However, Mrs Mugabe said at the time that she had acted in self-defence after the “intoxicated and unhinged” model attacked her in the room where her two sons lived.

Mugabe was granted diplomatic immunity by the South African government at the time, which led to her departure from the country after the incident, which was heavily criticised.
On Wednesday (Dec 19) Police spokesman Vishnu Naidoo told BBC: “I can confirm that a warrant for the arrest of Grace Mugabe was issued last Thursday.”
He said police were seeking the assistance of Interpol to enforce the warrant.
Lobby group AfriForum, which has been pursuing the case, welcomed the arrest warrant. According to South Africa’s Times Live website, AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel said: “It seems that justice is going to take place and we are looking forward to this matter going forward.”

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Trump accuses Facebook, Twitter, Google of bias

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US President Donald Trump took a swipe on Tuesday at America’s tech giants, accusing them of having a liberal bias, and claiming Twitter was making it more difficult to follow his account.
“Facebook, Twitter and Google are so biased toward the Dems it is ridiculous!” Trump tweeted.
“Twitter, in fact, has made it much more difficult for people to join @realDonaldTrump. They have removed many names & greatly slowed the level and speed of increase. They have acknowledged-done NOTHING!”
Trump is a regular critic of social media and his criticism echoed another attack on Twitter as recently as October, when he again accused the platform of stifling the growth of his account.
Trump at the moment has 56.3m followers on Twitter, his favourite platform. He may be angry that his predecessor Barack Obama has 104million followers.
The internet firms have consistently denied charges of political bias and many analysts have pointed to large social media followings of conservatives including Trump.
Twitter said in a statement it has been working to weed out accounts that hide a user’s true identity or seek to manipulate the platform.
“Our focus is on the health of the service, and that includes work to remove fake accounts to prevent malicious behaviour,” Twitter said in an emailed statement.
“Many prominent accounts have seen follower counts drop, but the result is higher confidence that the followers they have are real, engaged people.”
The criticism came a day after a report for the Senate revealed Russian agents had used social media in an attempt to sway the 2016 election in Trump’s favour.
An analysis for the Senate Intelligence Committee described an organised campaign by the St Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) to hurt Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee.
Troll accounts marshalled by the organisation had inflamed right-wing conspiracy theories and suppressed the vote of traditionally liberal-leaning groups such as African Americans, the report said.
The IRA-created “Blacktivist” account sent out messages such as: “No lives matter to Hillary Clinton. Only votes matter to Hillary Clinton.”
Separately, a portion of the 3,841 IRA accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube studied by the researchers sought to provoke Republican-leaning white Americans to get out and vote.
The study showed the IRA US campaign began in 2015, aiming to mobilize conservative voters, with no specific backing for Trump at the time.
But as the then-candidate gained support, and especially when he drove his anti-immigrant message, the IRA posts turned in his favor.
While the study did not draw any lines between the IRA propaganda and the election results — Republican Donald Trump stunned Clinton to take the White House — post-election data suggests some impact.
According to the Pew Research Center, white voter turnout surged in 2016 while black turnout sank by five percentage points, to 59.6 percent, from four years earlier.

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Brexit: Theresa May to join EU summit after surviving vote

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Theresa May is heading to Brussels for an EU summit, the morning after surviving a vote of confidence.
The prime minister is seeking legally binding pledges from EU leaders on the “backstop” – the plan to avoid a return to a manned Northern Ireland border.
Critics say the plan will keep the UK tied to EU rules indefinitely and curb its ability to strike trade deals.
The EU says it will not renegotiate the backstop but may agree to greater assurances on its temporary nature.
It seems unlikely that would win over enough support for her Brexit plan to have a realistic chance of getting through the House of Commons, with tensions heightened in the Conservative Party in the wake of Wednesday evening’s vote.
Theresa May did win the ballot of Conservative MPs, on whether she should remain their party leader, by 200 votes to 117. But in a last-minute pre-vote move, she offered a promise to her MPs that she would step down before the next election.

Speaking in Downing Street after the vote, Mrs May vowed to deliver the Brexit “people voted for” but said she had heard the concerns of MPs who voted against her.
But Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said, despite the “high drama” of Wednesday, “nothing has really changed”.
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said it was now up to Mrs May to listen to her party and “push the EU to resolve the backstop”.
What will happen at the EU summit?
Earlier this week, the prime minister travelled to meet EU leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, to raise the issues surrounding the withdrawal agreement at Westminster one-on-one.
But a trip to meet the Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar had to be cancelled because of the leadership vote.
At Thursday’s summit, Mrs May will have an opportunity to spell out face-to-face the problems to leaders of all the other 27 member states.
The EU leaders will then consider what could be done – without Mrs May in the room.

 

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High-speed train crash in Turkey leaves at least nine dead and dozens injured

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Nine people were killed and nearly 50 injured after a high-speed train crashed into a locomotive in the Turkish capital on Thursday, officials said.

Transport Minister Cahit Turhan told reporters in televised remarks that three of those killed were operators of the train.
One of the victims died in hospital, he added.
Turhan added that 47 people were injured and were in hospital for treatment.
The fast train had been on its way from Ankara’s main station to the central province of Konya and according to Hurriyet daily, there were 206 passengers on board.
Earlier, the Ankara governor’s office said three out of a total of 46 people had been seriously injured.

The death toll was rising fast. Ankara governor Vasip Sahin said earlier on Thursday morning that four people had been killed.

“This morning there was an accident after the 6.30 high-speed train to Konya hit a locomotive tasked with checking rails on the same route,” Sahin told reporters in televised remarks.

Turhan said the accident took place six minutes after the train left Ankara as it entered the Marsandiz station.

The governor said search and rescue efforts continued as “technical investigations” were underway to find out exactly what caused the crash in Yenimahalle district.
He said information about the cause of the crash would be shared with the public when it is known.

Images published by Turkish media showed some wagons had derailed and debris from the train scattered on the rail track, which was covered in snow.
The windows of one wagon were completely broken while another wagon had been smashed after hitting the footbridge, which also collapsed, an AFP correspondent at the scene said.
The Ankara public prosecutor launched an investigation into the crash, state news agency Anadolu reported.

The Ankara to Konya high-speed route was launched in 2011 and was followed in 2014 with a high-speed link between Ankara and Istanbul.
The accident comes after another rail disaster in July this year when 24 people were killed and hundreds more injured after a train derailed in Tekirdag province, northwest Turkey, due to ground erosion following heavy rains.
Turkey’s rail network has been hit by several fatal accidents in recent years.
In March 2014, a commuter train smashed into a minibus on a railway track in the southern Turkish province of Mersin, which left 10 dead.
In January 2008, nine people were killed when a train derailed in the Kutahya region south of Istanbul because of faulty tracks.

Turkey’s worst rail disaster in recent history was in July 2004 when 41 people were killed and 80 injured after a high-speed train derailed in the northwestern province of Sakarya.

 

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Gabon president makes his first appearance after long medical absence

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Gabon President Ali Bongo on Monday made his first appearance since falling ill nearly six weeks ago, in a video shared by the presidency from his medical leave in Morocco.
Bongo suffered a stroke while at a conference in Saudi Arabia on Oct. 24, sources told Reuters.
The presidency initially said he was struggling with severe fatigue and later said he had some “bleeding” that required medical attention.

Bongo’s wife last week said he was travelling to Morocco to continue his recovery.
No one, however, has shared specific details on Bongo’s condition. With his exact condition and whereabouts unknown, unsubstantiated rumours have swirled that he was incapacitated or dead.
Gabon’s top court ruled last month that the vice president would chair the cabinet in Bongo’s absence.

In the short video clip shared with journalists, Bongo appears sitting down in a blue and white robe alongside his old friend, Moroccan King Mohammed VI. The two men are seen chatting briefly, though the video has no sound.
At one point, Bongo, who is seated at a right angle to the camera, the right side of his face obscured, sips on what appears to be a glass of milk.
The Bongo family has ruled the oil-producing West African country for nearly half a century. Bongo has been president since succeeding his father, Omar, who died in 2009. His re-election in 2016 was marred by violent protests amid claims of fraud.

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