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Nigeria election 2019: Poll halted in last-minute drama

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Nigerian Elections 2019

Nigeria has delayed its presidential and parliamentary elections for a week, in a dramatic night-time move.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) made the announcement just five hours before the polls were due to open on Saturday.

“Proceeding with the election as scheduled is no longer feasible,” commission chairman Mahmood Yakubu said, citing logistical issues.

The two main candidates have asked people to remain calm and be patient.

Mr. Yakubu said the difficult decision to postpone was needed to ensure a free and fair vote.

The presidential and parliamentary votes have been rescheduled for Saturday 23 February.

Governorship, state assembly, and federal area council elections have been rescheduled until Saturday 9 March.
The announcement came after an emergency meeting at the Inec headquarters in the capital, Abuja.

What’s the reaction?

Nigeria’s two main political parties, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), swiftly condemned the move and accused each other of trying to manipulate the vote.

President Muhammadu Buhari, of the APC party, urged calm and appealed to Nigerians to “refrain from civil disorder and remain peaceful, patriotic and united to ensure that no force or conspiracy derail our democratic development”.

His main rival Atiku Abubakar has called for calm over the next seven days saying: “I’m appealing to Nigerians to please come out and vote and I’m asking them to be patient about it.”

Voters have reacted with a mixture of anger, frustration, and resignation.

Responses to Inec’s tweet about the postponement were brutal with one man calling it “the height of incompetence”.

Many had made long journeys to vote. In the northern town of Daura, Musa Abubakar, who had traveled 550km (342 miles) from Abuja to take part in the election, told the BBC that he “couldn’t believe” what had happened.

Hajiya Sa’adatu said she was “greatly disappointed” to learn of the delay when she came out to cast her vote in the northern city of Kano.
But others have been saying that the postponement should mean that everything goes smoothly next week.

Michael Momodu, in Delta state south-east Nigeria, said that he still believed that “the right things will take place” and that “God will deliver”.

Why have elections been postponed?

Election chief Mahmood Yakubu said the decision was made following a “careful review” of the election “operational plan”, adding that there was a “determination to conduct free, fair and credible elections”.

He said the delay was necessary to give the commission time to address vital issues and “maintain the quality of our elections”, but did not provide further details.

In the past two weeks, several Inec offices have been set alight, with thousands of electronic smart card readers and voter cards destroyed.

There have also been claims of shortages of election material in some of the country’s 36 states.
BBC

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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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INTERNATIONAL

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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BUSINESS

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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