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Muhammadu Buhari re-elected as Nigeria’s president

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Nigeria’s electoral commission has declared incumbent Muhammadu Buhari the winner of the country’s presidential elections.

The announcement in the early hours of Wednesday means the 76-year-old has won a second four-year term at the helm of Africa’s largest economy and most populous country.

Hours after Buhari was declared the winner, opposition leader Atiku Abubakar rejected the results and vowed a legal challenge.

Buhari, of the ruling All Progressives Congress party, secured 56 per cent, or 15.2m votes, in the February 23 polls, Mahmood Yakubu, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), said.

His main opponent, former vice president Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), received 41 per cent or 11.3m votes.

Hours after the announcement, Abubakar issued a statement rejecting the results.

“It is clear that there were manifest and premeditated malpractices in many states which negate the results announced…” he said.

“I hereby reject the result of the February 23, 2019, sham election and will be challenging it in court.”

The PDP has alleged electoral malpractice, including vote-rigging, in the polls, which were delayed by a week at the 11th hour.

Voting was marked by hours-long delays and deadly violence that observers said kept some people away from the polls.

Buhari’s party has said the opposition was trying to discredit the returns from Saturday’s election.

The accusations have ratcheted up tensions in a country whose six decades of independence have been marked by long periods of military rule, coups and secessionist wars.

‘Marred by violence’

Observers from the Economic Community of the West African States, the African Union and the United Nations appealed to all parties to await the official results, expected later this week, before filing complaints.

The candidate with the most votes nationwide is declared the winner as long as they have at least one-quarter of the vote in two-thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states and the capital, Abuja. Otherwise, there is a second-round runoff.

Buhari, 76, secured enough votes to meet both requirements.

He took office in 2015 and sought a second term with pledges to fight corruption and overhaul Nigeria’s ailing road and rail network.

Atiku, 72, had said he would aim to double the size of the economy to $900bn by 2025, privatise the state oil company, and expand the role of the private sector.

Voting took place after a week-long delay which the election commission said was due to its inability to get ballots and results sheets to all parts of the country.

The vote – Africa’s largest democratic exercise – was also marred by violence with at least 47 people killed since Saturday, according to the Situation Room, a monitoring organisation linking various civil society groups.

Some deaths resulted from clashes between groups allied to the leading parties and the police over the theft of ballot boxes and allegations of vote fraud.

Police have not yet provided official casualty figures.

More than 260 people have been killed since the start of the election campaign in October.

The toll so far is lower than in earlier elections, but the worst violence occurred previously only after results were announced.
AL JAZEERA

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INTERNATIONAL

Chris Cash: The UK Parliamentary Researcher Accused of Spying for Beijing Authorities

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In March of this year, a British parliamentary researcher was arrested on suspicion of being a Chinese spy. The researcher, Chris Cash, was revealed to be a 28-year-old history graduate with links to many Tory MPs. He had been seen associating with senior Tories such as security minister Tom Tugendhat and Foreign Affairs Committee chair Alicia Kearns. Cash was believed to have been recruited as a sleeper agent while living and working in China and sent back to the UK to infiltrate political networks critical of the Beijing regime.

Cash was the leader of the China Research Group, a body advocating for a more hawkish British policy towards China. Co-founded by Tory ministers Tom Tugendhat and Neil O’Brien in April 2020, the group focused on industrial, technological, and foreign policy issues. The group’s website claimed that it aimed to provide informed knowledge on China and promote debate and fresh thinking about how Britain should respond to the rise of China.

Chris Cash was arrested in Edinburgh and released on bail until early October, along with another suspect. It is unclear how much access Cash had to foreign affairs intelligence or what kind of influence he may have held in Westminster. While he held a parliamentary pass, he did not have security clearance.

China has denied all accusations of involvement in an espionage scheme involving Cash, calling them malicious slander.

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Pope Sends Prayers to Comfort Morocco Earthquake Victims as Death Toll Surpasses 2,000

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On Sunday, Pope Francis expressed his prayers and support for the victims of the powerful earthquake that hit Morocco, resulting in the highest number of fatalities in over 60 years. During his Angelus message, he prayed for those injured and those who lost their lives, along with their families.

The Pope also expressed his gratitude towards the rescue workers who are working tirelessly to help the victims. He concluded by saying that they stand in solidarity with the people of Morocco during this difficult time.

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African Union’s Inclusion in G20: A Significant Acknowledgment of a Continent with 1 Billion Inhabitants

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The world’s most powerful economies, the G20, have welcomed the African Union (AU) as a permanent member, recognising Africa’s more than 50 countries as important players on the global stage. US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi both expressed support for the AU’s permanent membership.

The AU has advocated for full membership for seven years and, until now, South Africa was the only African country in the G20. The AU represents a continent with a young population of 1.3 billion, which is set to double by 2050 and make up a quarter of the world’s population.

Africa’s 55 member states have long pushed for meaningful roles in global bodies, including the United Nations Security Council, and want reforms to the global financial system. The continent is increasingly attracting investment and political interest from global powers like China, Russia, Gulf nations, Turkey, Israel, and Iran. African leaders are challenging the framing of the continent as passive victim and want to be brokers instead.

They seek fairer treatment by financial institutions, delivery of rich countries’ long-promised $100 billion a year in climate financing for developing nations, and a global tax on fossil fuels. The AU’s full G20 membership will enable it to represent a continent that’s home to the world’s largest free trade area and abundant resources needed to combat climate change. The African continent has 60% of the world’s renewable energy assets and over 30% of the minerals key to renewable and low-carbon technologies.

African leaders want more industrial development closer to home to benefit their economies. Finding a common position among the AU’s member states, from economic powers to some of the world’s poorest nations, can be challenging, but Africa will need to speak with one voice to influence G20 decision-making. African leaders have shown their willingness to take collective action, as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a high-profile G20 member, Africa’s demands will be harder to ignore.

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