For the al-Kasaesbeh family in Jordan, the wait for news of their son held hostage by Islamic State militants must feel interminable, as efforts to secure his release deadlock. Mana Rabiee reports.
A fire in Moscow destroys a building of the library of the Institute of Scientific Information on Social Sciences, but local media says no unique books and manuscripts were damaged. Nathan Frandino reports.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has welcomed the statement by the Presidency and the PDP that they are not behind the campaign for the February general elections to be shifted.
In a statement issued in Ilorin on Saturday by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the APC said that both the Presidency and the Peoples Democratic Party must now “back up their words with action by cutting off the funding for the surreptitious campaign” immediately.
The party said that it believed the Presidency and the PDP wisely backed away from the election-shift campaign having seen that the idea has been rejected by Nigerians.
However, it called on all Nigerians, as well as local and international observers who have started arriving for the elections, to closely monitor developments as the elections approach, because “the Presidency and the PDP have proven time and again that their words are not their bond.
“Election is a process, not a one-day affair. That is why we are delighted that some foreign observers have already arrived for the Feb. 14th and 28th polls.
“Now they must pay a very close attention to the preparations for the elections, the relentless campaign to shift the polls, including through the use of pseudo analysts and the sponsorship of a rash of court cases seeking to stop the presidential candidate of the APC, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, at all cost.
“We know their last joker is the court, amid the unpleasant rumours that a pliable Judge has been procured with millions of dollars to disqualify our candidate. But we strongly believe that the judiciary
will do all that is possible to keep its integrity intact and not be a party to desperate efforts to scuttle the elections and trigger a constitutional crisis,” the APC said.
The party also called on local and international observers to take note of the …read more
Residents of some districts of Donetsk struggle to live with no running water or electricity as fighting in Ukraine’s east intensifies. Nathan Frandino reports.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says its Presidential flagbearer, President Goodluck Jonathan will beat the APC candidate, retired Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, fair and square in the north, come February 14, 2015.
The party also said with President Jonathan’s soaring popularity among the voting population across the country, it would win more than two-third of the total votes cast as well as the required 25 percent in all the states of the federation.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, in a statement on Saturday, said that President Jonathan would beat Buhari in the north not only because the PDP controls 12 out of the 19 states of the region but also because the citizens are pleased with the numerous development projects he executed in the region.
The party said that the various projects and appointments in the north have placed President Jonathan ahead of Buhari especially following the fact that the APC presidential candidate never executed any in the region when he was Head of State and has so far failed to articulate an acceptable blue-print for development.
“Indeed, Nigerians in the north are eager to re-elect President Goodluck Jonathan come February 14, 2015. Voters in the region appreciate the direct positive impact of the numerous development projects executed by the Jonathan administration in all sectors of life.
“They appreciate the fact that recognizing that agriculture is the mainstay of the northern economy, President Jonathan ensured that out of the 2.7 million direct farm jobs achieved by his administration, over 2 million are in the north.
“They appreciate the fact that President Jonathan established the e-wallet system, which eliminated the corruption in the distribution of fertilizer and other farm-puts, making the products directly accessible to millions of farmers in the region thereby boosting their productivity. They appreciate the fact that silos are brimming and food pyramids are …read more
Kenyans face their politicians and tell them what they really think …read more
Islamic State insurgents on Saturday seized a small crude oil station near the northern Iraqi city Kirkuk where 15 employees were working, and explosions in and around the capital Baghdad killed at least nine people.
Two officials from the state-run North Oil Co confirmed the militants seized a crude oil separation unit in Khabbaz and said 15 oil workers were missing after the company lost contact with them.
“We received a call from one of the workers saying dozens of Daesh fighters were surrounding the facility and asking workers to leave the premises. We lost contact and now the workers might be taken hostage,” an engineer from the North Oil Co told Reuters, using a derogatory acronym for Islamic State.
The radical jihadist movement seized at least four small oilfields when it overran large areas of northern Iraq last summer, and began selling crude oil and gasoline to finance their operations.
Islamic State insurgents attacked regional Kurdish forces southwest of Kirkuk on Friday, seizing some areas including parts of the Khabbaz oilfields.
Kurdish peshmerga forces sought to push back Islamic State in further fighting near Khabbaz on Saturday, Kurdish military sources said.
Khabbaz is a small oilfield 20 km (12 miles) southwest of Kirkuk with a maximum production capacity of 15,000 barrels per day. It was producing around 10,000 bpd before the attack.
Further south in Baghdad, two bombs in a central neighborhood and a farming district south of the capital killed at least seven civilians on Saturday, medics and police said.
Two soldiers were killed when a bomb exploded close to an army patrol near Taji, a predominantly Sunni Muslim rural district north of Baghdad.
At least 24 others were wounded in the explosions.
In Falluja in the western province of Anbar, hospital sources said five people, including two children, were killed during Iraqi army shelling of Islamic State …read more
An unmanned Delta 2 rocket lifts off from California carrying a NASA satellite to measure how much water is in Earth’s soil, information that will help track climate change. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
A new round of peace talks got under way involving Ukraine and separatists on Saturday, even as fighting between Kiev government forces and the Russian-backed rebels raged in Ukraine’s east, claiming civilian and military lives.
The main members of the so-called ‘contact group’ — Ukrainian former president Leonid Kuchma, a Russian diplomat and an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe official – met at a state residence in the Belarussian capital Minsk, where they were joined by two separatist officials.
The sides have held only one inconclusive meeting since agreeing a ceasefire last September as part of a 12-point blueprint for peace. Much-violated from the start, that truce collapsed completely with a new rebel advance last week.
Both sides have accused each other of deadly artillery and mortar strikes on civilian targets in the past two weeks, including on a cultural center in the main regional city of Donetsk on Friday which killed at least five people waiting for humanitarian hand-outs.
The September Minsk peace plan also called for tighter control of the joint Russia-Ukraine border, through which Kiev says Moscow is funneling fighters and equipment, and the freeing of prisoners held by the sides.
Much has changed on the ground, however, since September.
The separatists have set up self-proclaimed ‘people’s republics’ while their forces, which Kiev says are supported by 9,000 Russian regular troops, have seized more than 500 square km (193 square miles) of territory beyond that agreed in the Minsk talks and threaten to seize control of the east’s two main regions entirely.
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United Nations support for a planned military operation against Rwandan rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo could be in doubt because Congo named a general accused of rights abuses to head the offensive, diplomats and officials said on Friday.
General Bruno Mandevu was appointed on Sunday to head a Congolese army (FARDC) operation against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), which had been jointly planned with the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo (MONUSCO).
Western diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Mandevu had been placed by MONUSCO on a so-called red list over accusations of 121 rights violations, including summary executions and rapes.
“If, because of the past record of units or their commanders, there are substantial grounds to believe there is a real risk that they commit grave human rights violations, support to those units will be withheld unless adequate mitigating measures can be put in place,” a senior MONUSCO official told Reuters.
“In this particular case, this process has brought to light some concerns that have been brought to the attention of the DRC government. Discussions are underway at the highest level to address them,” the official said.
During a U.N.-backed offensive against the FDLR in 2009, Congolese soldiers were accused by rights groups of massacring hundreds of civilians and committing wide-ranging abuses. The Congolese army denied the scale of the alleged abuses.
The FARDC and the Congolese government were not immediately available for comment.
A U.N. peacekeeping official in New York said that under the United Nations human rights due diligence policy, the world body has to “ensure that its support to non-U.N. security forces will not contribute to grave human rights violations.”
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