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A picture taken on June 26, 2022, shows a military vehicle of the Moroccan security forces on the border fence separating Morocco from Spain’s North African Melilla enclave, near Nador in Morocco.  FADEL SENNA / AFP

Madrid will offer “total collaboration” with the Spanish and Moroccan investigations into the deaths of 23 migrants during a mass attempt to enter Spain’s Melilla enclave, Pedro Sanchez said Wednesday. 

The Spanish premier’s remarks came a day after the United Nations denounced authorities on the border between Morocco and Spain for using “excessive force”, describing it as “unacceptable”.

The tragedy happened at dawn on Friday, when around 2,000 migrants, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, tried to break through the fence from Morocco into Melilla, one of Spain’s two tiny North African enclaves.

“I regret the loss of human life and express my solidarity with the families of the migrants who died,” Sanchez told Cadena Ser radio, pledging his government would work with investigators to understand what happened.

Sanchez stressed that three investigations had been opened, one by Moroccan prosecutors, one by Spain’s public prosecutor and a third by the Spanish rights ombudsman.

“We have to trust these institutions and I pledge the government’s total collaboration with their efforts to clarify what happened,” he said.

Moroccan authorities said some of the victims had fallen while trying to scramble over the fence, giving an initial toll of 18 dead, but later raising it to 23 after another five migrants died of their injuries.

Few details about the incident were available, but Spanish media showed footage of people on the ground, some with bloodied hands and torn clothes.

The death toll was by far the worst recorded in years of attempts by migrants to cross into Spain’s Ceuta and Melilla enclaves, which have the EU’s only land borders with Africa, making them a magnet for those desperate to escape grinding poverty and hunger.

In Morocco, prosecutors are pressing charges against 65 migrants, mostly Sudanese, for trying to storm the border, a defence lawyer in Rabat said.

Spain’s public prosecutor on Tuesday opened its own investigation “to clarify what happened”, citing the “seriousness and gravity” of the incident.

– ‘Excessive force’ –

Images of the violence provoked an unusually strong response from the United Nations, which hit out at the border authorities.

“We saw the use of excessive force by the authorities, which needs to be investigated because it is unacceptable,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric on Tuesday.

“People who are on the move have human rights and those need to be respected and we’re seeing them all too often disrespected. We’ve seen it on both sides of the border,” he added.

Sanchez had on Friday blamed “human trafficking mafias” for what he said was “a well-organised violent assault” and defended the actions of the border police, saying the incident was “well-handled by the security forces of both Spain and Morocco”.

Asked about his initial defence of the security forces’ actions, Sanchez said that when he spoke, he was “not aware of the reports and images” of the victims.

And on Wednesday he reiterated concern for the border security agents, giving a figure of 40 injured Spanish police and 100 on the Moroccan side.

“I also ask that we put ourselves into the shoes of the injured police and security forces, in both Morocco and in Ceuta and Melilla, who have the right to an orderly flow of migrants and not be at the mercy of violent attacks,” he said.

AFP
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South Africa: police attend the scene after msyterious deaths of 21 teens in bar - STR/AFP

Police continue to comb a township tavern for evidence after the mysterious death of 21 teenagers after a night out. 

Most of the victims, some as young as 13 years old, were found dead inside a popular bar in the southern city of East London. Some died later in hospital. 

With the victims bearing no visible signs of injury, and those admitted to hospital complaining of symptoms such as chest pains and backache there remains much speculation among local officials and politicians as to what caused the deaths

Family members of the 21 adolescents who died under mysterious circumstances in a bar in East London in South Africa gather alongside community leaders to hold a prayer session. 

One mother is overcome by emotion as she addresses the room, a priest and a representative from the department of special development also spoke at the service. 

The exact cause of death remains unconfirmed but some witnesses have reported a strong and suffocating smell which spread through the building on the night of the tragedy. Some of the 31 people who were admitted to hospital, complained of symptons including backache, vomiting and tight chests. 

***Agencies***
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FILE - Cameroonian police officers patrol the market in the predominantly... - MARCO LONGARI/AFP

A rival ethnic group has killed at least 30 villagers including women and children in western Cameroon in an attack. Some were burnt while others were beheaded.

The massacre was carried out on Saturday and Sunday in the village of Bakinjaw in the Akwaya commune, a few kilometres from the Nigerian border, Reverend Fonki Samuel Forba, spokesman for the Presbyterian Church of Cameroon, told AFP by telephone. "More than 30 people were killed," he added.

The tragedy, between the Oliti and Messaga Ekol ethnic groups, took place in the South West region, one of Cameroon's two English-speaking regions where a deadly conflict has been raging for more than five years between armed separatist groups and the police, with civilians being the main victims.

Land dispute

"It all started with a land dispute between the Oliti and the Messaga Ekol of Akwaya on 29 April, the Oliti attacked and killed several Messaga Ekol on their farms. The Oliti then mobilised and received the support of armed men they had hired and launched very violent, inhumane and destructive attacks against the Messaga Ekol," Reverend Forba said in a statement sent to AFP.

Five Nigerians were killed in the attacks on Saturday and Sunday, the statement said, including photos of the bodies of a dozen victims, including children, lying on the dirt floor of a village, some charred or mutilated.

"Armed men launched an attack on the Messaga community, young men, women, children and even elderly people were killed. Some were killed in their homes, others on their way to the fields," the army officer told AFP.

Inter-communal war

"There is an inter-communal war that has been going on for years in Akwaya. The Oliti, who live in the centre (of the district) of Akwaya, are regularly victims of attacks by neighbouring populations. They rebelled and this is what led to the bloodshed," said the head of the local NGO.

At the end of December 2021, at least 44 people had been killed and 111 wounded in a fortnight in the Far North region, which is landlocked between Nigeria, Chad and Niger, an area where such clashes are relatively frequent on both sides of the borders.

The North-West and South-West regions have been the scene of a deadly conflict for more than five years between armed groups calling for the independence of a state they call "Ambazonia" and security forces massively deployed by the power of President Paul Biya, 89, who has ruled Cameroon with an iron fist for nearly 40 years.

Exactions

Part of the English-speaking minority in this French-dominated country feels ostracised and marginalised. The conflict has left more than 6,000 people dead since the end of 2016 and forced more than a million people to move, according to the NGO International Crisis Group (ICG).

AFP
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Taher Saadoun, Brahim Saadoun's father - AFP

The father of a Moroccan man facing possible execution by Russia-backed separatists in Ukraine appealled on Monday to Russian President Vladimir Putin to intervene "as a father" to spare his son from the firing squad.

"I want my son back, just like any other father would," Taher Saadoun told reporters in the Moroccan capital Rabat.

Saadoun also called on Morocco's government to pursue negotiations on behalf of his son, Brahim, who was sentenced on June 9 to the death penalty alongside two Britons, Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner.

A court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic convicted all three of terrorism and trying to overturn constitutional order.

They were given a month to appeal, and could be executed as soon as early July if they don't.

Saadoun's father insisted that Brahim was not a mercenary, as the court claims, but was enlisted in Ukraine's regular army.

The republic's "foreign minister," Nataliya Nikonorova, told Russian state TV on Monday that none of the three death-sentenced men have filed yet for pardons.

The father said Brahim's local lawyer will submit the appeal as soon as things have calmed down a bit, without providing a date.
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Egypt’s finance minister said on Monday the government could no longer depend on foreign purchases of treasuries to finance its budget, but must work to boost foreign direct investment (FDI) instead.

“The lesson we have learned (is that) you cannot depend on this type of investment. It is coming just to get high yields, and once there is a shock it leaves the country,” Maait told the American Chamber of Commerce.

“In four years I have worked (through) three shocks from this hot money,” Maait said.

Some $15 billion left the country during the 2018 emerging market crisis and close to $20 billion left at the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, he said.

Egypt faced a similar crisis this year when Russia invaded Ukraine and the United States began to hike interest rates. That sparked a portfolio investment outflow estimated at $20 billion.

“We have to depend on FDI,” said Maait. “We have to depend on improving our environment for investment. We have to depend on increasing private sector participation.”

Egypt has long had some of the highest real interest rates globally but held rates steady last week. Maait said a surge in inflation to 13.5 per cent had turned real rates negative.

Higher global interest rates, a weak currency and investor wariness of emerging markets suggest Egypt will struggle to finance a projected $30 billion budget deficit for the financial year starting July 1.

“We have a plan. Number one, we are in talks with many investors in the Gulf and others, and we have assets. The second is concessional borrowing, maybe from international banks, European, World Bank, African Development Bank,” Maait said.

Although a sharp drop in Ukrainian and Russian visitors has dealt Egypt a blow, Maait said tourism was rebounding and gas exports were more profitable. Egypt would also look to non-traditional funding such as a repeat of samurai bonds it sold in Japan in March, he said.

“I can go again. Now I’m talking with the Chinese to issue a panda (bond). It’s very cheap.”

REUTERS
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A Malawi court on Monday sentenced a Catholic priest to 30 years and several other people to life in prison over the gruesome 2018 murder of a man with albinism.

Judge Dorothy NyaKaunda Kamanga said Thomas Muhosha had planned to traffic 22-year-old MacDonald Masambuka's tissue.

"The offence was motivated by the disability of the deceased, that of albinism," she said in a ruling handed down in the city of Blantyre.

She said the priest, who led a parish in Machinga, 100 kilometres (60 miles) northeast of Blantyre, had breached the trust many had placed in him.

Five other suspects were handed life sentences.

The killing occurred at the height of a spree that saw over 40 people with albinism murdered and scores of others assaulted.

One of the five convicted was the victim's brother.

"The convicts took advantage of the deceased's psychological need for love," the judge said.

"They lured him into believing that they had found a prospective wife for him and that they should go and meet her -- that ended up being his death trap."

A total of 12 people were handed various sentences over the killing.

From 2014 Malawi suffered a wave of assaults against albinos, whose body parts were used in witchcraft rituals in the superstitious belief that they brought wealth and luck.
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General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of Sudan's ruling Sovereign Council

General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of Sudan's ruling Sovereign Council, visited Al Fashaqa in the east of Sudan on Monday after Ethiopia killed seven Sudanese soldiers and a civilian in the border area.

The incident was the latest sign of deteriorating ties between the east African nations.

A Sudanese military statement late Sunday described the killings as a “cowardly act” and said Khartoum would retaliate.

The killings violated “all laws and customs of war and international humanitarian law,” the statement said. It said Ethiopia displayed the bodies out in the open. It did not provide further details including how a civilian farmer was involved.

Sudanese media outlet Monte Carro posted a graphic photo online purportedly showing the bodies of seven dead in military uniforms lying motionless as a group of people looked on. It said the bodies were of the dead soldiers.

Sudan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Monday the eight had been taken into Ethiopia after the soldiers were held captive in an area inside Sudan on June 22.

The ministry said it was recalling the Sudanese ambassador from the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa and summoned the Ethiopian envoy in Khartoum to protest the killings. It also said it would complain to the United Nations.

Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry confirmed the killings in what it described as “a tragic incident." It said in a statement that a Sudanese military unit crossed into Ethiopia with the support of rebels from the Tigray region and suggested that's when they were killed.

“The Government of Ethiopia, therefore, hopes that the Sudanese Government would restrain itself from any escalation of the incident and would take measures that could de-escalate the situation," the statement said without elaborating.

Ties between the two neighbors have deteriorated in recent years amid a long-running border dispute over large swaths of agricultural land in the al-Fashaqa area. Sudan insists the lands are within its borders, according to an agreement that demarcated the boundary between their territories in the early 1900s.

Sporadic clashes have erupted over the past two years there, after Sudan said it reclaimed most of its territory and called on Ethiopia to withdraw troops from at least two points it says are inside Sudan.

In November, Sudan said six of its troops were killed in an attack by Ethiopian military and militia forces in the area. The two nations have held talks, most recently in Khartoum in December 2020, to settle the dispute over al-Fashaqa, but have not made progress.

Ethiopia, in turn, says Sudan took advantage of the deadly conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region to enter Ethiopian territory. It has called for Sudanese troops to return to positions they held before the Tigray fighting erupted in November 2020, pitting Ethiopia’s federal forces against regional fighters.

A controversial dam Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile, the main tributary of the Nile River, is another point of dispute between Ethiopia and Sudan as well as between Ethiopia and Egypt. Both Sudan and Egypt are downstream.

The years long dispute now centers on how quickly Ethiopia should fill and replenish the reservoir and how much water it should release downstream in case of a multi-year drought.

Egypt, which relies on the Nile for more than 90% of its water, fears a devastating impact if the dam is operated without taking its needs into account. Ethiopia says the $5 billion dam on the Blue Nile is essential, arguing that the vast majority of its people lack electricity.

Sudan wants Ethiopia to coordinate and share data on the dam’s operation to avoid flooding and protect its own power-generating dams on the Blue Nile.

Egypt and Sudan say they want a legally binding agreement to regulate the filling and operation of the dam, but the three nations have failed to reach a compromise in their years long negotiations.
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FILE - Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the head of Sudan's ruling military council, - AFP

Sudan on Monday said it would recall its ambassador to Addis Ababa, accusing the Ethiopian army of "executing" seven of its soldiers and a civilian taken prisoner and vowing to retaliate for the "cowardly act".

"In an act that contravenes all conventions of war and international law, the Ethiopian army executed seven Sudanese soldiers and a citizen," the Sudanese army accused on Sunday night.

The men had been "abducted on 22 June in Sudanese territory and taken to Ethiopia", the Sudanese Foreign Ministry accused on Monday.

The army warned that "this perfidious act will not pass" and Sudanese diplomat said it would "immediately recall its ambassador to Ethiopia and summon the Ethiopian ambassador to Khartoum to convey Sudan's condemnation of this inhuman act.

Border conflict

Sudan also said it would file a complaint with the UN Security Council and regional organisations. Ethiopia did not immediately comment on the accusations.

According to a Sudanese military official, the soldiers were captured in a border area near Al-Fashaga, an area of fertile land in the eastern Sudanese state of Gedaref that is the subject of a border dispute between Sudan and Ethiopia.

Clashes, sometimes fatal, occur regularly in this area. They intensified in 2020 with the war between the Ethiopian federal government and the regional authorities of Tigray, a region neighbouring Sudan, which caused tens of thousands of Ethiopians to flee to eastern Sudan.

Great Renaissance Dam

Although Ethiopian farmers have been settling in the El-Fashaga area for decades, Sudanese troops only deployed there after the outbreak of conflict in Tigray.

This border dispute is fuelling tensions between the two countries, which despite numerous rounds of negotiations have never yet managed to reach an agreement on the delineation of their border.

Khartoum and Addis Ababa have also been at odds for more than a decade over the issue of the Grand Renaissance Dam (GDR) built by Ethiopia on the Nile.

AFP
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Egypt has strategic reserves of wheat sufficient for 5.7 months, Supply Minister Aly Moselhy said in a news conference on Sunday, adding that the country has procured 3.9 million tonnes of wheat in the local harvest so far.

Egypt is often the world’s biggest wheat importer.

He added that the strategic reserves for sugar were sufficient for more than six months and those for vegetable oils are sufficient for 6.2 months, while the country is self-sufficient for rice for 3.3 months.
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File Photo: South African police

South African authorities are investigating the deaths of at least 22 young people found inside a popular tavern in the coastal town of East London, provincial health officials and the presidency said on Sunday.

State broadcaster SABC reported the deaths resulted from a possible stampede, but was scant on details as the exact cause of death remained unknown.

The bodies will be transported to state mortuaries where relatives are expected to help identify both male and female victims, said Siyanda Manana, a spokesperson for the Eastern Cape provincial health department.

“We are going to immediately be embarking on autopsies so we can know the probable cause of death,” he told Reuters as forensic personnel continued their work at the cordoned-off crime site at Enyobeni Tavern.

“We are talking 22 bodies right now,” Manana said, adding that toxicology tests were part of the examination.

Expressing his condolences to affected families, President Cyril Ramaphosa said he was worried about the circumstances under which young people, potentially under the age of 18 years, were allowed to gather at the tavern. Ramaphosa said in a statement the law must take its course once investigations conclude.

“The call is on the parents to see that their kids are kept well, the call is on the community to say we can’t allow our kids to die,” Bheki Cele, the national police minister, told a large crowd in Scenery Park during an impromptu visit broadcast live on television.

A 17-year-old girl, who only gave her name as “Lolly” and lived close to the tavern, told Reuters the venue was a popular hangout with teenagers, but the community wanted it shut down after the tragedy.

“Everyone wants it closed down because they sell alcohol to under-age children. Everyone is angry, everyone is sad because of what happened,” she said.

Earlier Brigadier Tembinkosi Kinana said police were alerted by members of the public to the incident in Scenery Park, about three kms (1.9 miles) from the city centre.

“What has happened can be equated to a massacre,” East London mayor, Xola Pakati said in a statement.

REUTERS
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Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame listens to questions from journalists during the end of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), at the Intare arena conference on June 25, 2022 in Kigali. Simon MAINA / AFP

President Paul Kagame on Saturday fiercely defended Rwanda’s record on human rights and political freedoms as the curtains closed on a Commonwealth summit where his country came under intense scrutiny.

The Commonwealth also welcomed two new members into the fold at its summit in Kigali — the French-speaking West African states of Togo and Gabon that have no historic ties to Britain.

The decision to hold the gathering in Rwanda was heavily criticised by rights watchdogs, which accused Commonwealth leaders of turning a blind eye to repression and the jailing of opponents in the host country.

Kagame, who has been de facto ruler since the end of the genocide in 1994, told reporters Rwanda was proud of its record and would not be lectured by outsiders.

“As far as values are concerned, we don’t need any lessons from BBC or from anyone,” Kagame said in an impassioned statement that lasted nearly 30 minutes.

“I want to assure you there is nobody… who (is) beholding values better than we do here in Rwanda,” he told the summit’s closing press conference.

Ahead of the meeting attended by Prince Charles and around 30 leaders, rights groups warned that Kigali’s sparkling streets had been cleared of the homeless and street kids to maintain a glossy image for visitors.

In an open letter, 23 civil society organisations said there was a “climate of fear” in Rwanda and urged Commonwealth leaders not to risk the body’s integrity by letting Kagame off the hook.

His government had presided over a crackdown on rights of assembly, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, torture and extrajudicial executions, they said.

Kagame rejected any suggestion his government detained opponents, saying some of his most vocal critics had been freed from prison by presidential pardon.

“There is nobody in Rwanda who is in prison that should not be there, because we have a justice system that is actually functional, and fair,” he said.

‘Historic moment’

Kagame also announced that Gabon and Togo had been admitted into the Commonwealth, the first new members since Rwanda in 2009.

“This is a historic moment! A new important page in the history of Gabon is opening 62 years after its independence,” Gabonese President Ali Bongo said in a statement.

Togo’s Foreign Minister Robert Dussey said membership opened the door to 2.5 billion consumers in the Commonwealth realm, offered new education opportunities, and tapped a “craze” for English among his countrymen.

Francophone states have also sought to join the Commonwealth in recent years to pivot away from former colonial ruler France, analysts said.

The admission of Gabon and Togo takes membership to 56 nations, and is a boon for the Commonwealth at a time of renewed discussion over its future relevance and modern profile.

Republican movements are taking root in a number of Commonwealth nations and some are seeking reparations for colonial-era injustices.

On Friday, Prince Charles told Commonwealth leaders the choice to become a republic or abandon Queen Elizabeth II as head of state was theirs alone and expressed “personal sorrow” at Britain’s legacy of slavery.

And British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the interest from new members proved the organisation was alive and well.

‘Better together’

But the admission of Gabon and Togo could raise questions about the Commonwealth’s espoused commitment to good governance, respect of rights and democracy as fundamental values of its charter.

Both countries have been ruled by single families for over half a century, and elections have been marred by irregularities and violence.

“We are much better together than we ever will be apart,” said Patricia Scotland, who was re-elected in Kigali for another two years as Commonwealth secretary-general after a bruising and divisive campaign.

Delegates at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) addressed issues including climate change, violence against women, mental health, vaccine equity, and urbanisation — to name a few.

A much-criticised deal to deport asylum-seekers from the UK to Rwanda dogged the meeting, however, with Johnson vigorously defending his policy.

Ahead of the summit it was reported that Charles — who takes over the Commonwealth when he becomes king — strongly opposed the migrant scheme.

The first transfer of asylum seekers scheduled this month was blocked in a European court, but Johnson insists the deal is not unlawful and he will pursue it.

Born out of the British Empire, the Commonwealth represents one-third of humanity in nations across Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas.

The next Commonwealth meet will be in Samoa in 2024.

AFP
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In this file photo taken on July 04, 2021 Former South African president Jacob Zuma addresses the media in his home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal. South Africa’s ex-president Jacob Zuma handed himself in to police late on July 7, 2021 to begin serving a 15-month sentence for contempt of court, his foundation said. Emmanuel Croset / AFP

South Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma, fingered to be a graft enabler, on Saturday rubbished as “unlawful” and “full of gossip” a judicial report detailing how rampant corruption gutted state coffers during his nine-year-tenure.

Known as state capture, the web of corruption hollowed out state companies in the continent’s most advanced economy, to the benefit of a few wealthy individuals and companies.

Zuma’s foundation spokesman Mzwanele Manyi told a media conference Zuma regarded the report as “unlawful and highly irrational”

“It is predictably full of gossip, innuendo and conjecture. It is very short on concrete evidence,” said Manyi.

“The report is therefore a classical case of the fruits of a poisoned tree”.

Zuma himself had been billed to attend the press conference, but his lawyers said they had advised him at the last minute to not attend to avoid violating his parole conditions.

He set up the special probe panel himself, after a damning report by the national ombudswoman about corruption at state enterprises forced his hand.

The report which accuses Zuma of being “a critical player” in the plan to pillage state firms through the Gupta family of business tycoons.

Two of the three Indian migrant brothers who fled the country the same year the corruption probe started four years ago, were arrested earlier this month in Dubai pending extradition to South Africa.

Zuma briefly appeared before the investigators, but walked out and refused to return to answer questions.

His refusal to testify prompted a showdown at the Constitutional Court, which ordered his imprisonment in July 2021 for contempt.

His incarceration sparked riots in which more than 350 people lost their lives — the deadliest unrest of the democratic era in South Africa. He was released after two months on medical parole.
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African migrants sit on top of a border fence during an attempt to cross from Morocco into Spain's north African enclave of Melilla

Morocco said 18 migrants died trying to cross into Spain’s North African enclave of Melilla on Friday, after a violent two-hour skirmish between migrants and border officers that also led to scores of injuries

About 2,000 migrants stormed a high fence that seals off the enclave. This led to clashes with security forces as more than 100 migrants managed to cross from Morocco into Melilla, Moroccan and Spanish authorities said.

Morocco’s Interior Ministry initially said five migrants had died in the border raid, some after falling from the fence surrounding Melilla and others in a crush, and that 76 migrants were injured. It later said another 13 had died.

Some 140 Members of Moroccan security forces were also injured, it added, five seriously, though none of them died.

Over the past decade, Melilla and Ceuta, a second Spanish enclave also on Africa’s northern coast, have become a magnet for mostly sub-Saharan migrants trying to get into Europe.

Friday’s attempt began around 6:40 a.m. in the face of resistance from Moroccan security forces.

At around 8:40 a.m., more than 500 migrants began to enter Melilla, jumping over the roof of a border checkpoint after cutting through fencing with a bolt cutter, the Madrid government’s representative body there said in a statement.

Most were forced back but around 130 men managed to reach the enclave and were being processed at its reception centre for immigrants, it added.

Footage posted on social media showed large groups of African youths walking along roads around the border, celebrating entering Melilla and the firing of what appeared to be tear gas by the authorities.

Spanish authorities said the border incursion led to 57 migrants and 49 Spanish police sustaining injuries.

‘HUMAN TRAFFICKING MAFIAS’

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez paid tribute to officers on both side of the border for fighting off “a well-organised, violent assault” which he suggested was organised by “human trafficking mafias”.

He underscored the improvement in relations between Madrid and Rabat. In March, Spain recognised the position of Morocco towards the Western Sahara, a territory the North African nation claims as its own but where an Algeria-backed independence movement is demanding establishment of an autonomous state.

“I would like to thank the extraordinary cooperation we are having with the Kingdom of Morocco which demonstrates the need to have the best of relations,” he said.

AMDH Nador, a Moroccan human rights watchdog, said the incursion came a day after migrants clashed with Moroccan security personnel attempting to clear camps they had set up in a forest near Melilla.

The watchdog’s head, Omar Naji, told Reuters that clash was part of an “intense crackdown” on migrants since Spanish and Moroccan forces resumed joint patrols and reinforced security measures in the area around the enclave.

The incursion was the first significant one since Spain adopted its more pro-Rabat stance over Western Sahara.

In the weeks of 2022 prior to that shift, migrant entries into the two enclaves had more than trebled compared with the same period of 2021.

In mid-2021, as many as 8,000 people swam into Ceuta or clambered over its fence over a couple of days, taking advantage of the apparent lifting of a security net on the Moroccan side of the border following a bilateral diplomatic spat.

REUTERS
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This photo combination shows stolen cars which were recovered from Niger Republic, according to the police on June 24, 2022.

The police on Friday said it has recovered three stolen vehicles from Niger Republic.

The vehicles, which were stolen from Nigeria, were recovered through the help of International Criminal Police (INTERPOL) operatives in Niamey, a statement signed by police spokesperson, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said.

“The investigation which lasted for several days led to the recovery of a Toyota Camry with Chassis No: 4T1BE46K47U673141, Mercedes Benz 2012 550GL with Chassis No. 4JGBF8GE8CA762560 and a Hyundai vehicle with Chassis No: KMHDH41EBDU54686,” the statement said.

According to the statement, the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, commended the “unrelenting efforts” of police operatives and the INTERPOL Niamey for their cooperation.

“The Inspector-General of Police enjoined Nigerians to take advantage of the cooperation to recover their stolen items, particularly vehicles,” the statement said.

The IGP also “urged the owners of the aforementioned vehicles to approach the Nigeria Police Force Criminal Investigations Department, INTERPOL Section, at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, for the recovery and claims of their vehicles, with valid proofs of ownership and proper means of identification.”
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Refugess try to enter Spain/file photo

About 2,000 migrants on Friday stormed a high fence that seals off Spain’s North African enclave of Melilla in a violent-two hour skirmish with border officers during which five migrants were killed, Spanish and Moroccan authorities said.

Scores more on both sides were injured, while more than 100 migrants managed to cross from Morocco in Melilla, they said.

Melilla and Ceuta, a second Spanish enclave also on Africa’s northern coast, have over the past decade become a magnet for mostly sub-Saharan migrants trying to get into Europe.

Friday’s attempt began around 6:40 a.m. in the face of resistance from Moroccan security forces.

At around 8:40 a.m., more than 500 migrants began to enter Melilla, jumping over the roof of a border checkpoint after cutting through fencing with a bolt cutter, the Madrid government’s representative body there said in a statement.

Most were forced back but around 130 men managed to reach the enclave and were being processed at its reception centre for immigrants, it added.

Footage posted on social media showed large groups of African youths walking along roads around the border, celebrating entering Melilla and the firing of what appeared to be tear gas by the authorities.

Spanish authorities said the border incursion led to 57 migrants and 49 Spanish police sustaining injuries.

Morocco’s Interior Ministry said five migrants died in the border raid, some after falling from the fence surrounding Melilla, and that 76 migrants were injured, including 13 seriously. 140 Members of Moroccan security forces were also injured, it added, including five seriously.

‘HUMAN TRAFFICKING MAFIAS’

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez paid tribute to officers on both side of the border for fighting off “a well-organised, violent assault” which he suggested was organised by “human trafficking mafias”.

He underscored the improvement in relations between Madrid and Rabat, which came after Spain in March recognised the position of Morocco towards the Western Sahara, a territory the North African nation claims as its own but where an Algeria-backed independence movement is demanding the establishment of an autonomous state.

“I would like to thank the extraordinary cooperation we are having with the Kingdom of Morocco which demonstrates the need to have the best of relations,” he said.

AMDH Nador, a Moroccan human rights watchdog, said the incursion came a day after migrants clashed with Moroccan security personnel attempting to clear camps they had set up in a forest near Melilla.

The watchdog’s head, Omar Naji, told Reuters that clash was part of an “intense crackdown” on migrants since Spanish and Moroccan forces resumed joint patrols and reinforced security measures in the area around the enclave.

The Moroccan border control did not respond to a request comment.

The incursion was the first significant one since Spain adopted its more pro-Rabat stance over Western Sahara.

In the weeks of 2022 prior to that shift, migrant entries into the two enclaves had more than trebled compared with the same period of 2021.

In mid-2021, as many as 8,000 people swam into Ceuta or clambered over its fence over a couple of days, taking advantage of the apparent lifting of a security net on the Moroccan side of the border following a bilateral diplomatic spat.

REUTERS
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Britain’s Prince Charles 

Britain’s Prince Charles expressed deep sorrow over slavery in a speech to Commonwealth leaders in Rwanda on Friday and acknowledged that the roots of the organisation lay in a painful period of history.

The Commonwealth, a club of 54 countries that evolved from the British Empire, encompasses about a third of humanity and presents itself as a network of equal partners, but some member states have been calling for a reckoning with the colonial past.

“I want to acknowledge that the roots of our contemporary association run deep into the most painful period of our history,” Charles told assembled Commonwealth leaders at the opening ceremony of a two-day summit in Kigali.

“I cannot describe the depths of my personal sorrow at the suffering of so many as I continue to deepen my own understanding of slavery’s enduring impact.”

Britain and other European nations enslaved more than 10 million Africans between the 15th and 19th centuries and transported them across the Atlantic to toil on plantations in the Caribbean and the Americas. Many died on the way.

Commonwealth members include West African nations such as Nigeria and Ghana, where slaves were captured, and 12 Caribbean nations where they spent the rest of their lives.

The Commonwealth has not previously grappled publicly with the legacy of slavery. Some Caribbean ministers have called for it to be discussed, including the issue of reparations, which Charles did not mention.

“If we are to forge a common future that benefits all our citizens, we too must find new ways to acknowledge our past. Quite simply, this is a conversation whose time has come,” Charles said.

Several delegates said Charles’ remarks were a welcome acknowledgement of past suffering, but added that the focus should be on the future.

“We are not here to get into the dark history. We want to see how we move forward,” said Liberata Mulamula, foreign minister of Tanzania.

NEW ENTRANTS

Rwandan President Paul Kagame, whose country joined the Commonwealth in 2009, offered a different perspective in his own address to the assembled leaders, before Charles spoke.

“The fact of holding this meeting in Rwanda, a new member with no historical connection to the British Empire, expresses our choice to continue reimagining the Commonwealth for a changing world,” he said.

The summit will consider applications by former French colonies Togo and Gabon to join the Commonwealth, a sign of disenchantment within France’s sphere of influence in Africa and of the attractions of an English-speaking club.

The summit is being attended by 29 heads of state and government. The other 25 member states, including South Africa, India, Pakistan, Australia and New Zealand, sent delegations led by ministers or diplomats.

Member states voted to keep Patricia Scotland as secretary-general after some countries including Britain tried to replace her with Kamina Johnson Smith, the Jamaican foreign minister. Scotland, who has weathered multiple scandals since taking office in 2016, will serve another two years.

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In this file photo taken on November 08, 2011 the Nordstream gas pipeline terminal is pictured prior to an inaugural ceremony for the first of Nord Stream’s twin 1,224 kilometre gas pipeline through the baltic sea, in Lubmin November 8, 2011. John MACDOUGALL / AFP

The French government said Thursday it aims to have its natural gas reserves at full capacity by autumn as European countries brace for supply cuts from major supplier Russia with the Ukraine war draging on.

“We are ensuring the complete filling of our storage capacities, aiming to be close to 100 percent by early autumn,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said.

She added that France will also build a new floating terminal to receive more gas supplies by ship.

“We can do without Russian gas,” French Energy Transition Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher said later on BFM Business TV.

That depends on the floating terminals beginning operating as planned and France filling its strategic reserve, she added.

AFP
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President Buhari visits Kigali Genocide Memorial, Lays Wreath in Kigali, Rwanda on 23rd June 2022

After visiting the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda on Thursday, President Muhammadu Buhari made a passionate appeal to Nigerians to be tolerant of one another and embrace peace.

The President toured the permanent exhibitions at the Memorial and laid a wreath at the mass graves where more than 250,000 victims of the genocide were buried.

He also paid tribute to the memory of the victims and prayed for healing for the survivors.

After the historic visit, the President told journalists that the lessons from his visit were the need for Nigerians to continue to be tolerant of one another, and for the nation to also preserve its own historical antecedents from the Nigeria Civil War (1967-1970).  

‘‘I went through all the experiences from 15 January 1966 to date. I was a Governor, Minister, and Head of State and went through detention. I returned to partisan politics and will finish my two-terms as constitutionally allowed.

‘‘We fought a 30-month bitter civil war and we killed about a million of each other. Nigeria went through this kind of terrible development process,’’ he said.      

Before departing, the President also wrote in the visitors’ book:

‘‘Remembering the victims of this dark history of the Rwanda Genocide, we pray that humanity will never experience this kind of hatred, wickedness and violence toward others because of their ethnic background, religion, and beliefs.

‘‘Nigeria is strongly committed to the prevention of mass atrocity anywhere in the world and believes that perpetrators of such crimes; and their enablers, anywhere in the world must be held accountable.’’

President Buhari is in Kigali, Rwanda to participate in the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

He will hold bilateral talks with the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson on Thursday and attend the official opening of CHOGM on Friday, followed by high-level meetings of Heads of State and Government.

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Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers a speech during a press conference with Denmark’s and Spain’s Prime Ministers in Kyiv on April 21, 2022.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday that Africa was “a hostage” of Russia’s war on Ukraine which has spurred global food shortages and famine fears across the African continent.

But he said Kyiv was engaged in “complex negotiations” to unblock the grain trapped at its Black Sea ports by Russia’s naval blockade.

“Africa is actually a hostage… of those who unleashed war against our state,” Zelensky said in an address to the African Union.

Russia’s invasion and its blockade of Ukraine’s ports has paralysed grain exports from one of the world’s largest producers, sparked dramatic grain and fertiliser shortages and put hundreds of millions of people at risk of hunger.

“This war may seem very distant to you and your countries. But the food prices that are catastrophically rising have already brought (the war) to the homes of millions of African families,” he said.

“The unjust level of food prices, which has been provoked by the Russian war, is being painfully felt on all continents. Unfortunately, this can be a particular problem for your countries.”

Although the global grain crisis would last as long as Russia pressed its “colonial war”, he said Ukraine was trying everything to free up its ports while also trying “to build a new logistical supply chain” for the 25 million tonnes of grain blocked inside its borders.

“We are conducting complex multilevel negotiations to unblock our Ukrainian ports. But there is no progress yet because no real tool has yet been found to ensure Russia does not attack them again,” he admitted.

So far, global organisations had not yet found a way to convince Russia to end its invasion.

“That is why the food crisis in the world will continue as long as this colonial war continues.”

He said Kyiv wanted to “intensify” dialogue with African Union member states and would soon appoint a special representative for Africa.

And he also proposed opening discussion on a “major political and economic conference” on ties between Ukraine and Africa.

Senegalese President and African Union chair Macky Sall thanked Zelensky on Twitter and said Africa “remains committed to respecting the rules of international law, the peaceful resolution of conflict and the freedom of trade”.

African Union Commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat also reiterated “the urgent need for dialogue to end the conflict to allow peace to return to the region and to restore global stability” in a posting on Twitter.
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The United Arab Emirates will build a new Red Sea port in Sudan as part of a $6 billion investment package, DAL group chairman Osama Daoud Abdellatif, a partner in the deal, told Reuters.

Abdellatif said the package includes a free trade zone, a large agricultural project and an imminent $300 million deposit to Sudan’s central bank, which would be the first such deposit since an October military takeover.

Western donors suspended billions in aid and investment to Sudan after the coup, plunging an economy that was already struggling into further turmoil and depriving the government of much needed foreign currency.

Ibrahim told Reuters on Wednesday that a memorandum of understanding had been signed with the UAE for a port and agricultural project, but the details have not previously been reported.

The finance ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on details of the deal.

The $4 billion port, a joint project between DAL group and Abu Dhabi Ports, owned by Abu Dhabi’s holding company ADQ, would be able to handle all kinds of commodities and compete with the country’s main national port, Port Sudan, Abdellatif said.

Located about 200 km (124 miles) north of Port Sudan, it would also include a free trade and industrial zone modelled after Dubai’s Jebel Ali, as well as a small international airport, he said. The project is in “advanced stages,” with studies and designs complete, he said.

Rumours of Gulf investments in Port Sudan, and in agricultural projects elsewhere in the country, have in the past stirred opposition and sometimes protests.

Port Sudan has long been plagued with infrastructure challenges and was shut by a political blockade for six weeks late last year, losing business from major international shippers.

The UAE deal also includes the $1.6 billion expansion and development of an agricultural project by Abu Dhabi conglomerate IHC and DAL Agriculture in the town of Abu Hamad in northern Sudan, Abdellatif said.

Alfalfa, wheat, cotton, sesame, and other crops would be grown and processed on the 400,000 acres of leased land, he said. A $450 million, 500 km (310 mile) toll road connecting the project to the port would be built as well, financed by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development.

Under the agreement, the Fund would also make a deposit of $300 million to the Central Bank of Sudan, Abdellatif said.

Abdellatif said the agreement was reached initially in July 2021, under a civilian-led transitional government.

Two sources from the former cabinet, who asked not to be named, said a different version of the deal had been reviewed last year but ultimately did not move to a vote due to reservations.

Two high-level current Sudanese officials told Reuters the outlines of the new deal had been agreed between Sudanese leader General Abdelfattah al-Burhan and UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed during a recent visit to the Gulf state.

A representative for Abu Dhabi Ports said the company had no comment, while representatives for ADQ, the Abu Dhabi Fund, IHC, and the Abu Dhabi and UAE governments did not immediately respond to requests.

“Ourselves and our partners in the UAE, we have already invested in a bank, a hotel, mining,” said Abdellatif, whose conglomerate has also bid for control of one of Sudan’s largest telecom companies, Zain Sudan.

“The UAE wants a stable Sudan so they can do more and more of these investments, but we are not waiting for everything to be perfect,” he added.

After the military ousted Omar al-Bashir in 2019 following popular protests, the UAE and Saudi Arabia pledged a combined $3 billion in grants and in-kind aid to Sudan, which military and civilian leaders say was not delivered in full.

REUTERS