Zuma calls for end to ANC infighting

Mon, 2017-01-09

JOHANNESBURG: South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) needs to end infighting and focus on winning back public support, President Jacob Zuma said on Sunday as he tries to unite an increasingly
divided party.
Zuma denounced corruption within the ruling ANC party and admitted that mistakes had cost the party at the ballot box after a year of damaging scandals.
Zuma is set to step down as leader of the African National Congress in December, before he completes the maximum two terms in office as national president in 2019.
He and other senior ANC figures have been embroiled in a series of graft allegations, as South Africa has struggled with a slowing economy, high unemployment and regular violent protests.
In August, the ANC — which came to power in 1994 under Nelson Mandela after the end of apartheid — recorded its worst-ever election results at local polls.
“The ANC has heard the message that the people delivered in August. We accept that we have made mistakes,” Zuma, 74, said in a speech marking the ANC’s 105th anniversary.
“When leaders and members of the ANC are corrupt and steal they are betraying the values of the ANC, the people and our country. We will not allow this.”
Among Zuma’s possible successors are his ex-wife, African Union chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize.
On Saturday, the ANC’s influential women’s league pledged its support for Dlamini-Zuma.
“The ANC will elect a new national leadership toward the end of the year,” Zuma said.
“Too often, comrades fight for leadership positions as they see leadership as the route to material and personal gain.”
As attacks on his presidency grew last year, Zuma survived an attempt by ANC rivals to oust him in November, shrugging off criticism of his conduct by the official anti-graft watchdog and the Constitutional Court.
The watchdog probe uncovered evidence of possible criminal activity in his relationship with the Guptas, a business family accused of wielding undue political influence.
Zuma, who took power in 2009, retains strong loyalty among many rank-and-file ANC party members, as well as its lawmakers.
He struck a humble note at the ANC celebrations in a sports stadium in Soweto, a hotbed of the struggle that ended white-majority rule more than 20 years ago.
“The people have told us that we are too busy fighting each other and we do not pay sufficient attention to their needs,” he said.
“The ANC must unite so that we are able to unite the people against our common enemies — unemployment, poverty and inequality.”
Zuma gave a shortened version of his published speech as heavy rain lashed the venue.
Ramaphosa, who was once touted as a successor to Nelson Mandela, would be the first choice for many investors because his background in commerce suggests he will support more pro-business policies than many in the ANC.
He will, however, face criticism from opponents for his role at platinum producer Lonmin where he was a director and shareholder when violence led to police shooting dead 34 striking miners in 2012. An investigation has cleared him of wrongdoing.
The Women’s League has a block of votes at the party conference and are a critical lobbying group for the ANC, particularly in galvanizing support among female voters.
“After careful consideration and opening our eyes as wide as possible, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is the only suitable candidate,” the Women’s League said in a statement.
“Her legacy and influence is known and well documented throughout the history pages of the republic and beyond.”
Many South Africans believe it is time the ANC had a female leader, a rarity on a continent with strong patriarchal heritage.
Zuma has previously said that South Afric a is ready for a female president.

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Streets of Ivory Coast cities calm after soldier mutiny

Mon, 2017-01-09

ABIDJAN: The streets of Ivory Coast’s second-largest city Bouake were calm and the military presence was gone, residents said on Sunday, after a two-day soldiers’ mutiny took over the city before spreading across the country.
The mutiny began early on Friday when rogue soldiers demanding bonus pay seized Bouake. Soldiers at military camps in cities and towns across Ivory Coast, including the commercial capital Abidjan, joined the rebellion.
A deal was reached between the government and the soldiers late on Saturday. A mutineer close to the negotiations said soldiers had returned to barracks.
“We have cleared the corridors everywhere as promised and we have been in barracks since last night,” said Sergeant Mamadou Kone.
“All over the country all our men have returned to barracks and wait for their money. The mutiny is over for us.”
He said the soldiers expect to be paid on Monday under the deal brokered by Defense Minister Alain-Richard Donwahi, raising pressure on a government that faces further unrest if demands are not met. In a sign of tensions, renegade troops on Saturday opened fire outside the house in Bouake where the negotiations took place, temporarily trapping Donwahi, witnesses said.
The terms of the final deal were not made public, but sources said that the soldiers demanded 5 million CFA francs ($8,000) each, which for more than 8,000 soldiers could cost tens of billions of CFA francs.
Ivory Coast — which has French-speaking West Africa’s largest economy — has emerged from a 2002-2011 political crisis as one of the continent’s rising economic stars.
But years of conflict and a failure to reform its army, made up of former rebel fighters and government soldiers, have left it hobbled by division.
The revolt comes two years after a near identical uprising which ended when the government offered mutineers amnesty from punishment and a financial settlement. A repeat of the solution raises the risk soldiers will be encouraged to do it again.
Traffic in Bouake, snarled since Friday by roadblocks and barricades, was clear on Sunday, residents said. The gunfire of recent days had stopped.
Other cities were also calm, residents said, including Abidjan, where a day earlier loyalist troops were deployed at strategic locations and residents rushed to buy bottled water and other provisions.
There was no military on the streets on Sunday.
People were seen walking to church, shops were open and traffic moved as normal, a Reuters reporter said.

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Seychelles’ founding president Mancham dies

Mon, 2017-01-09

VICTORIA: Seychelles’ founding president James Mancham, who spent only a year in office before being ousted in a coup, died Sunday aged 77, his nephew and staff said.
The former politician and lawyer, who spent his years in retirement writing several books and promoting his island nation, was found dead at home.
“His wife informed us that Mancham was not moving and we did the necessary to get him transported to hospital,” said one of his security guards Philippe Figaro.
“Doctors confirmed he was dead,” said the former president’s nephew Derick Pothin.
Mancham, who initially opposed the Indian Ocean archipelago’s breakaway from British rule, won the country’s first election by a small margin in 1976.
A year later he was overthrown in a bloodless coup by his prime minister, France-Albert Rene, while he was attending a Commonwealth conference in London. Rene set up a one-party socialist state.
In 1981, South African mercenaries led by notorious British soldier-for-hire in Africa Col. “Mad Mike” Hoare planned a coup to return the pro-Western Mancham to power.
The group entered the country disguised as a tourist party called “The Ancient Order of Froth-Blowers.”
Their plan, however, came undone when an airport inspector found a weapon in their luggage and a gunfight broke out.
The men then hijacked an Air India flight and forced the pilot to take them to Durban in South Africa to escape.
South Africa’s post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission later found the apartheid government — keen to do away with leftist powers on the continent — had been involved in planning the attack.
After his ouster, Mancham fled into exile until 1993, when multi-party democracy was restored in the islands.
Mancham again vied for the presidency in 1998 but lost to Rene.
The Seychelles comprise some 115 islands scattered off the east coast of Africa, whose white sandy beaches and turquoise waters have made it a magnet for wealthy foreigners, some of whom also enjoy the country’s reputation as a tax haven.

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‘Foreigner’ in pro-Daesh group slain in Philippines

Mon, 2017-01-09

MANILA: Police have killed a foreign militant during a skirmish with a pro-Daesh group in the southern Philippines, an official said Sunday.
The firefight erupted as police were hunting down members of the Ansarul Khilafa Philippines (AKP) group on the restive southern island of Mindanao on Saturday, local police spokesman Superintendent Romeo Galgo said.
“A foreign national initially identified as Abu Naila and one female member identified only as a certain Kadija… resisted arrest by attempting to lob a grenade against the arresting personnel,” he said in a statement.
The police responded by opening fire, killing the two, he added.
Authorities did not disclose the nationality of Abu Naila although they have previously said the AKP has worked with foreign militants.
Extremists from other Southeast Asian nations have been known to come to the Philippines to train local insurgents especially in the use of explosives.
The AKP is one of several violent militant groups on Mindanao.
The government has been hunting down other members of the group after its founder and leader, Mohammad Jaafar Maguid, was tracked down and shot dead last week at a beach resort in Mindanao while three “cohorts” were arrested.
The group has been known to fly the black flag of Daesh and Maguid appeared in a video circulated on social media last year with the leaders of other local militant groups pledging allegiance to the terrorists.
The authorities are looking into Ansarul Khilafa’s role in a bombing in Davao, Mindanao’s largest city in September last year that killed 15 people and injured dozens of others.

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Winter storm heads toward northeastern US

Mon, 2017-01-09

DURHAM, North Carolina: A winter storm that left a glaze of ice and snow across portions of the south and is being blamed for at least three deaths has turned its attention to New England, where travel conditions have already become treacherous and a chain-reaction accident on a Connecticut road involved nearly two dozen cars.
Before the storm churned north along the Atlantic coast, it left icy conditions in Alabama and Mississippi, where a former governor was hospitalized after he slipped and fell on his icy driveway. At least seven locations in North Carolina reported 10 inches of snow as the storm entered the state, and blizzard conditions occurred in southeast Virginia.
The three deaths related to the storm occurred in Virginia, Georgia and Kentucky, and officials said they were the result of cars traveling on roads made slick by ice. Other traffic deaths are being investigated to determine if weather played a factor.
North Carolina power outages peaked around 25,000, according to Gov. Roy Cooper, but power company figures indicate the number had dropped to several thousand.
Forecasters in New England were expecting up to a foot of snow in Boston, but Cape Cod and other parts of the south Massachusetts coast were in line for up to 2 feet of wind-driven snow and police implored residents to stay home and off the roads.
Officials at Boston’s Logan International Airport urged travelers to check with their airlines since numerous flights were canceled or delayed, many because of weather conditions elsewhere in the US.
Long lines were reported at many supermarkets and hardware stores where residents were scooping up snow blowers and supplies such as ice melt and windshield wiper fluid.

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Mass murderer Breivik in human rights appeal case

Mon, 2017-01-09

HELSINKI: Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in a bombing and shooting rampage in 2011, is returning to court this week as the government appeals a ruling that his isolation in prison breaches the European Convention on Human Rights.
The 37-year-old right-wing extremist, who admitted to the killings that Prime Minister Erna Solberg has called “one of the darkest days in Norwegian history,” was convicted of mass murder and terrorism in 2012 and given a 21-year prison sentence that can be extended for as long as he is deemed dangerous to society. Legal experts say he will likely be locked up for life.
Breivik has often complained about his treatment and prison conditions.
Last year, he sued the government, saying his solitary confinement, frequent strip searches and the fact that he was often handcuffed during the early part of his incarceration violated his human rights.
He is held in isolation in a three-cell complex where he can play video games, watch TV and exercise. He has also complained about the quality of the prison food, having to eat with plastic utensils and not being able to communicate with sympathizers.
The government has rejected his complaints, saying he is treated humanely despite the severity of his crimes and that he must be separated from other inmates for safety reasons.
But, in a surprise ruling in April, the Oslo District Court said “the prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment represents a fundamental value in a democratic society. This applies no matter what — also in the treatment of terrorists and killers.” It also ordered the government to pay Breivik’s legal costs of 331,000 kroner ($41,000).
However, it dismissed Breivik’s claim that his right to respect for private and family life was violated by restrictions on contacts with other right-wing extremists.
Breivik had meticulously planned the July 22, 2011, attacks, setting off a car bomb outside the government headquarters in Oslo, killing eight people and wounding dozens. He then drove to the island of Utoya, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) away, where he opened fire on the annual summer camp of the left-wing Labour Party’s youth wing. Sixty-nine people there were killed, most of them teenagers, before Breivik surrendered to police.
At the time of the attacks, Breivik claimed to be the commander of a secret Christian military order plotting an anti-Muslim revolution in Europe.

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4 die in new Brazil jail riots

Mon, 2017-01-09

SAO PAULO: A prison uprising early on Sunday left four dead, adding to chaos in Brazil’s penitentiary system that has seen almost 100 inmates killed in the past week in a gang war.
The latest violence took place at the Desembargador Raimundo Vidal Pessoa jail in the center of the Amazonian city of Manaus, according to a report in the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper, citing the state’s top security official, Sergio Fontes.
Calls and e-mails to the Amazonas state government, where Manaus is located, were not answered.
In the last week, at least 64 inmates have been killed in prisons in or near Manaus. A prison uprising in the neighboring state of Roraima left at least 33 dead.
Behind the bloodletting is an escalating feud between Brazil’s biggest drug gangs, who ended two decades of an uneasy working relationship about six months ago.
Brazil’s most powerful gang, the Sao Paulo-based First Capital Command (PCC) split with the Rio de Janeiro-based Red Command gang when the PCC took over lucrative drug trading routes in Brazil’s southeast.
Previously, the two groups worked together to ensure a heavy flow of drugs and arms over Brazil’s borders.
Members of the PCC were targeted last Sunday in the first massive slaughter, which left 56 dead, many decapitated and butchered. It was Brazil’s deadliest uprising in more than two decades.
It was the North Family gang — allied with the Red Command — who carried out the killings in that riot, authorities said.
Five days later, PCC members killed at least 33 people at a prison in Roraima state, brutal scenes captured on a cellphone video spread widely on social media, in which the inmates are seen hacking away at bodies as they say it was an act of revenge.
Authorities originally said 31 prisoners died in the Roraima uprising — but revised that figure to 33 after finding two buried bodies on the prison grounds on Saturday.
It was not immediately clear what drug faction — if any — was behind the most recent killing in jail in Manaus.
Experts say the PCC is moving to infiltrate areas in the Red Command’s home base of Rio and is infiltrating Brazil’s Amazon region in efforts to control cocaine-smuggling river routes.
Since it split with the PCC, the Red Command has allied itself with smaller regional gangs — like the North Family — to confront PCC.

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Dutch police seize MH17 debris from reporter

Mon, 2017-01-09

THE HAGUE: Dutch police have taken from a journalist items, including possible human remains, which he found at the crash site of flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine, prosecutors said Sunday.
Freelancer Michel Spekkers was met by police as he returned to Schiphol airport late Saturday after visiting the region and writing an article about his discovery at the site.
The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 passenger jet was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur killing all 298 on board, most of them Dutch citizens.
A Dutch-led criminal investigation concluded in September that a BUK missile, transported from Russia, slammed into the plane after being fired from a field in a part of war-torn Ukraine then controlled by pro-Russian rebels. But it stopped short of saying who pulled the trigger.
Prosecutors said in a statement Sunday that Spekkers had “refused to hand over photographic and film material from the crash site” when he arrived at the airport near Amsterdam.
The material including “various bags with metal parts and an object which may be human remains” would now “be examined as soon as possible.”
Spekkers said in a Tweet late Saturday he had arranged to “voluntarily” hand over the items, but in the end there was “a total seizure” of his possessions including his camera, telephone and laptop.
He wrote in the daily Noordhollands Dagblat he decided to visit the crash site during a trip to Donetsk for a documentary about daily life there, after being told that debris was still strewn around the area.
He described seeing things lying in the snow — including a piece of bone — saying he had videoed everything, labelled some of it and placed it into sealed ziplock bags.
Writing in the Dutch provincial daily, he said he had “an uncomfortable feeling of helplessness,” wondering why such items were still there, and whether Dutch authorities would have left the site like that had the crash happened on Dutch soil.
He decided to bring back “a small number” of things in the hope that “there may be some answers to outstanding questions.”

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Florida shooting suspect could face death penalty

Sun, 2017-01-08

MIAMI, United States: The US authorities have charged the Iraq war vet accused of fatally shooting five people and wounding six at a Florida airport with federal crimes that could carry the death penalty.
The Justice Department on Saturday charged Esteban Santiago, 26, with firearms offenses and carrying out an act of violence when he opened fire at the busy Fort Lauderdale airport.
Santiago, who had earlier shown signs of “erratic behavior,” arrived Friday on a flight from Alaska.
At baggage claim, he retrieved a 9mm semi-automatic handgun and ammunition that he had declared and stowed inside his checked luggage, then allegedly loaded the weapon in a bathroom and opened fire in the crowded baggage claim area of Terminal 2.
Once his ammunition was exhausted Santiago lay on the floor with his arms and legs spread out and peacefully surrendered when a sheriff deputy approached him, witnesses quoted in US media said.
The hail of bullets sent thousands scrambling for safety and shut down the airport, a major gateway to the Caribbean and Latin America, for about 16 hours.
If convicted of the charges Santiago could face the death penalty or life in prison, US Attorney Wifredo Ferrer said in a statement.
“Santiago started shooting, aiming at his victims’ heads until he was out of ammunition,” the statement said.
Santiago, who traveled to Fort Lauderdale on a one-way ticket, walked around while firing approximately 10 to 15 rounds “in a methodical manner,” FBI agent Michael Ferlazzo wrote in court records, according to US media.
FBI special agent George Piro said agents were looking into the motives for the attack, including “continuing to look at the terrorism angle.”
Piro said Santiago appeared to be acting alone and that “every indication” is that he followed rules in flying with the weapon.
Santiago is scheduled to make an initial court appearance on Monday.

‘Erratic behavior’

A former member of the Puerto Rico and Alaska National Guard, Santiago served in Iraq from April 2010 to February 2011. He ended his service in August.
On November 7, Santiago walked into the FBI’s office in Anchorage, Alaska and complained that his mind was being controlled by national intelligence agencies, which were forcing him to watch Islamic State jihadist videos, the authorities said.
This “erratic behavior” led agents to contact local police, who took him for a mental health evaluation, Piro said.
Anchorage police chief Christopher Tolley said Santiago came to the FBI office with a loaded magazine, but left his gun and newborn child in his car.
Police took Santiago’s weapon for safekeeping at the time, but he was able to reclaim it on December 8.
Tolley said it was unclear if Santiago used that gun in the airport rampage.
Santiago’s brother, Bryan, criticized the way the authorities have handled his case.
“They had him hospitalized for four days and they let him go. How are you going to let someone leave a psychological center after four days when he said he hears voices that the CIA is telling him to join certain groups?” he told CNN in a Spanish-language interview the network translated into English.
“Not everyone has the same reaction when they return from war,” he added. “Some are better, and some, not so much.”
The authorities have not identified any victims, but three named in media reports were all getting ready to set off on cruises.
They included British-born 84-year-old grandmother Olga Woltering, who was embarking on a family cruise with her 90-year-old husband, the Sun Sentinel reported.
Terry Andres, 62, was going on vacation with his wife of nearly four decades, Ann, the Palm Beach Post reported.
Other victims included Michael and Kari Oehme, a couple in their 50s. Michael was killed and his wife wounded in the shoulder, the Miami Herald reported.

‘Political cowardice’
The shooting renewed anxieties about security at US airports.
The Transportation Security Administration — the agency responsible for airport security — lets passengers travel with unloaded firearms and ammunition as checked baggage.
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who represents the Florida district that includes the airport, said the rules need to be reexamined.
The incident should prompt a review of “whether or not you should be allowed to check a firearm at all” — as well as how passengers should be able to retrieve checked weapons after landing, she told CNN.
Democratic Senator Chris Murphy rebuked the Republican-controlled Congress for not tightening gun laws.
“Political cowardice is the accomplice of every mass shooter,” he wrote on Twitter. “The utter silence of Congress in the face of this carnage has become consent.”
The Fort Lauderdale airport re-opened Saturday morning, and staff struggled to return nearly 20,000 pieces of luggage and other personal items abandoned by passengers who fled the shooting.

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Travelers lose 25,000 items in Florida airport rampage

Associated Press
Sun, 2017-01-08

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida: Dan and Janice Kovacs and their two children were passing through airport security when the gunfire erupted. They were shoeless — with wallets, passports and carry-on items chugging along a conveyer belt — when they sprang into the mass of people running to safety.
Now they’re among stranded travelers at Fort Lauderdale trying to recover what the airport director says are 25,000 pieces of luggage, cellphones and other belongings separated from their owners during Friday’s shooting rampage.
“We have no IDs, we have no passports, no money,” Janice, 39, said Saturday afternoon, wearing sandals borrowed from a brother-in-law. “We just had to leave our stuff and run.”
“All our stuff is being processed. We might not even get that until Monday. I have an 11-year-old who is freaking out. This has been traumatic for her,” she said.
The shooting Friday afternoon, which killed five people and wounded six, also stranded about 12,000 outgoing and incoming travelers, many returning from cruises or arriving ahead of the usual Saturday departures of the massive ships based in the tourism hub’s Port Everglades terminal.
Some travelers were kept on planes for more than seven hours while police put the airport on lockdown; others scrambled to protected corners or were hustled out onto the tarmac. The Kovacs, on the way back from a Caribbean cruise, went out onto that rough surface barefoot.
The Florida Highway Patrol sent computer-equipped buses to the airport Saturday afternoon to issue temporary ID cards to help travelers get out of state and even abroad. “We are doing what we can to help,” Sgt. Mark Wysocki said.
Sydney Rivera, a 21-year-old Purdue University student, received a temporary Florida identification card that is nearly identical to the state’s driver’s license. On Friday, she had been about to board a flight home to Indianapolis in another terminal when people scattered over false fears of a second shooter.
“This will make it a lot easier to get through security,” Rivera said as she rushed to finally catch a flight.
Gov. Rick Scott said cruise ship companies were asked to accept travelers with provisional IDs. Once authorities began allowing travelers to depart the airport Friday evening, buses took thousands of them to the cruise terminal.
Airport spokesman Greg Meyer said most bags won’t be available until Monday. The airport hired an outside firm to collect discarded bags and sort them by where they were found so they can be identified by their owners. Those with lost luggage were told to call a toll-free number.
Richard Lanbry, his wife and 15-year-old daughter were about to board a plane home for Montreal when the shooting began. Amid the commotion, he was separated from the other two and frantically searched for them for about an hour.
“I was pushed down, my wife was pushed down too. It was violent … people screaming, people crying, old and young. It was very scary,” said the 61-year-old, who was vacationing in Pompano Beach.
On top of that, they now have no luggage, no keys to their home and no coats or sweaters to wear once they arrive in chilly Montreal, only the T-shirts they we wearing the day before.
Larry and Joy Edwards were about to board their flight home to Columbus, Ohio, after a Caribbean cruise. They ran out the skyway and down stairs onto the tarmac, where they were told to drop their carry-on bags and dash out to the runway. They eventually were taken to a hangar and bused to Port Everglades. That’s where they spent most of the night.
“The Red Cross came. They gave us food and blankets and pillows. Everybody did what they could,” Joy Edwards said.
At 4:30 a.m., they were bused to a Miami motel. They had come back to the airport in an unsuccessful attempt to retrieve their luggage, which contained their passports, medicine and other essentials.
Larry Edwards, a retired electric lineman, said they won’t be able to get home until Monday and pointed to the clothes they had put on Friday morning.
“All we have is this and our smelly selves,” he said.

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