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Mozambique's Renamo wants election results cancelled (Sat, 19 Oct 2019)
Mozambique’s main opposition party, Renamo on Saturday accused the government of violating a recent peace agreement by using “violence” during the general elections this week and called for the election to be cancelled. “The ruling Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo) (...) has violated the cessation of hostilities agreement, which states that violence and intimidation must not be used in pursuit of political objectives,” writes the Mozambique National Resistance (Renamo) in a statement, calling for the 15 October election to be cancelled and “new elections” to be held. Mozambicans voted on Tuesday in a climate of high tension, following a violent campaign fuelled by accusations of fraud on behalf of the regime by the opposition and civil society. Renamo also claims that some of its delegates were arrested after surprising election organizers who were distributing more than one Frelimo ballot to voters. “There have been arbitrary arrests of agents (...) and voters who tried to complain about everything, about the stuffing of ballot boxes, were unable to exercise their right to vote,” Renamo continued in its statement. The Mozambican Electoral Commission (CNE) began on Friday to publish very partial results of Tuesday’s presidential and legislative elections, which not surprisingly give a large lead to the incumbent president and the ruling party. These elections were also a test case after the fragile peace agreement reached in August between the ruling party and Renamo, the former civil war rebellion (1975-1992). This agreement was supposed to put an end to their clashes, which have been recurring for more than forty years. But the election campaign rekindled tensions between the two sides.
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Riek Machar visits South Sudan to save peace deal (Sat, 19 Oct 2019)
South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar ON Saturday arrived in Juba to try and save the fragile peace agreement as the mid-November deadline for forming a government with President Salva Kiir approaches. The two men “will meet behind closed doors at the presidential palace today,” said a spokesman for Machar’s SPLM-IO party, Manawa Peter Gatkuot, after the rebel leader arrived. South Sudan plunged into civil war in December 2013, two years after its independence from Sudan, when Mr. Kiir, a Dinka, accused Machar, then his vice-president, a member of the Nuer ethnic group, of plotting a coup d‘état. The conflict, marked by atrocities and the use of rape as a weapon of war, has killed more than 380,000 people and forced more than four million South Sudanese, nearly a third of the population, to leave their homes. The peace agreement reached in September 2018 has led to a sharp drop in fighting, although it has not completely ceased. The deadline negotiated in May was intended in particular to allow the cantonment of combatants and their integration into a unified army, but little progress has been made since then. The deadline for the formation of this government, in which Machar is to assume the position of First Vice-President, has already been delayed before being set for 12 November. In addition, technical aspects of the agreement, such as those relating to the demarcation of borders between States, have not made any progress. Machar, who lives in exile in Khartoum, also seeks guarantees for his personal safety before returning permanently to Juba, which he fled under heavy fire when a previous peace agreement collapsed in July 2016. Efforts to have the warring parties confine their troops to a unified army – a crucial point of the peace agreement – have made little progress. According to observers, the only way forward, in the absence of progress on such sensitive issues, is for Machar and Kiir to reach a new political agreement that will allow them to move forward with the formation of a power-sharing government.
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Malian army repels 50 jihadists in counter-offensive (Sat, 19 Oct 2019)
Mali’s army on Friday evening “neutralized” about 50 enemies in a counter-offensive launched after the deadly attacks by jihadists earlier this month in the center of the country. The army is still looking for 27 soldiers missing since the double jihadist attack of September 30 and October 1 in Boulkessy and Mondoro. The attacks resulted in the most casualties the Malian army has suffered in years. Two civilians were killed in Mondoro, 38 soldiers died and 17 were wounded in Boulkessy, according to the army. During the subsequent field recovery and sweep operations, with “a very increased engagement” of the French Barkhane force with Malian troops, “about fifty enemies (were) neutralized, about thirty wounded, materials destroyed”, as well as a large fuel stock, the army said without explicitly saying if the “neutralized” enemies had died. No other source confirmed these figures on Friday evening. The operations confirmed the presence of women involved with the armed groups, the army noted. Even in a country that has been plagued by deadly insurgencies, Salafist and jihadist insurgencies and inter-community violence since 2012, the events in Boulkessy and Mondoro have struck people’s minds and raised even more bluntly than before the question of the absence of a solution to the conflict and the possible impotence of the authorities. The Malian army also reported on Friday the attempted theft of a large stockpile of weapons by one of its soldiers, deputy head in charge of the equipment division. The soldier had placed about 100 assault rifles in his vehicle on October 12 before they were discovered. The said soldier is still on the run.
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Rugby World Cup: Japan name squad to challenge 'scary' South Africa (Sat, 19 Oct 2019)
Japan vs South Africa, the squads South Africa have entrusted the same squad that recorded a 49-3 victory over Italy two weeks ago, with the task of getting the job done in Sunday’s quarter-final clash against hosts Japan. “We were satisfied with the performance against Italy and want to build on that,” said coach Rassie Erasmus. “Japan are a well-coached team and have deservedly climbed to seventh in the world rankings. It’ll be a good challenge but we’re definitely up for it.” Team: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Tendai Mtawarira Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Franco Mostert, 21 Francois Louw, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Frans Steyn Japan on their part made one injury-enforced change to the starting line-up for Sunday’s match, bringing Ryohei Yamanaka in at fullback in place of William Tupou. Tupou suffered a concussion in Japan’s hard-fought win over Scotland at Yokohama last weekend and drops out of the matchday 23 altogether, with livewire winger Lomano Lava Lemeki named among the replacements as cover for the back three. Coach Jamie Joseph also made two changes to the forwards on the bench with Wimpie van der Walt and Amanaki Lelei Mafi replacing fellow big men Uwe Helu and Hendrik Tui. Joseph has been praised for his detailed preparations ahead of each match so far at this World Cup, earning four wins from four to top Pool A, but the New Zealander said the players have taken over now. “It’s really a good sign, as a coach when you feel a little bit redundant,” Joseph said on Friday. “We’ve grown for last five to six weeks, and we’ve grown mentally and with those improvements, there is improvement in their confidence and the game is improving.” Japan are looking to repeat their heroics from the 2015 World Cup when they beat South Africa 34-32 in one of the biggest upsets in the sport’s history. “South Africa looks scary, but if we look at our game plan and how to destroy (theirs), we get excited and we gain more confidence to win,” said captain Michael Leitch. Team: 15-Ryohei Yamanaka, 14-Kotaro Matsushima, 13-Timothy Lafaele, 12-Ryoto Nakamura, 11-Kenki Fukuoka, 10-Yu Tamura, 9-Yutaka Nagare, 8-Kazuki Himeno, 7-Pieter Labuschagne, 6-Michael Leitch (captain), 5-James Moore, 4-Luke Thompson, 3-Jiwon Koo, 2-Shota Horie, 1-Keita Inagaki Replacements: 16-Atsushi Sakate, 17-Isileli Nakajima, 18-Asaeli Ai Valu, 19-Wimpie van der Walt, 20-Amanaki Lelei Mafi, 21-Fumiaki Tanaka 22-Rikiya Matsuda, 23-Lomano Lava Lemeki The Springboks are aiming to reach the Rugby World Cup semi-finals for the fifth time, while Japan is playing in the knockout stages of the World Cup fpr the first time in their history. The winner of Sunday’s quarter-final will play the victor in the France v Wales match which will also be played on Sunday in Yokohama. Japan plots another upset Since January this year, coach Jamie Joseph has prepared Japan’s Brave Blossoms, stressing the need for different game plans for each opponent at the Rugby World Cup. Before each match, the reserve players have been studying the tactics of their opponents’ scrum and then replicating that in practice, giving the starting pack ideal preparation. This has resulted in Japan consistently challenging their much heavier opponents at scrum time, something they will need to do on Sunday when they take on South Africa in the quarter-finals. “We make a firm strategy for a good scrum,” said scrum coach Shin Hasegawa on Wednesday. “(Hooker Takuya) Kitade and (back row Yoshitaka) Tokunaga are contributing and help us build our scrummaging strategy. “(They make us realise) what we want to do and what sort of scrum we want to have. When they are able to do this it gives us immense confidence. “When an opponent changes, our scrummaging changes and players change. “When we feel that we need to educate each player (on various way of scrummaging), non-team members help us and give us comfort.” Japan know they will need all their wits about them against the experience of two-time champions South Africa in Tokyo. Boks plot for Japan match South Africa’s assistant coach Mzwandile Stick says the Boks must find a way of stopping high speed Japanese ‘Ferraris’ if they are to prevail in the World Cup quarter-final on Sunday. Japan have electrified the World Cup with their high-tempo game plan devised by coaches Jamie Joseph and Tony Brown with wingers Kenki Fukuoka and Kotaro Matsushima the chief beneficiaries of the speed at which the team are playing. Matsushima is the tournament’s joint-top try scorer alongside Wales’ Josh Adams with five, while Fukuoka has crossed four times, twice against Scotland on Sunday, which helped the Brave Blossoms into their first quarter-final. “Jamie Joseph compared their two wings (Fukuoka and Matsushima) to Ferrari cars, so we have to not allow those Ferraris to go to fifth gear or sixth gear,” Stick told reporters in Tokyo on Tuesday. “We must make sure we are at our best with our defensive systems, because they are very skilful and have quick players.” The fact South Africa could end the host nation’s run through the tournament had not been lost on the Springboks, especially with their news conferences heavily attended by local media. “Playing against the host nation, we know they are going to be playing with a lot of passion, and the supporters are going to be behind them,” he said. “We could hear the vibe at the stadium at Yokohama (for Japan against Scotland) when watching on TV. It’s going to be a tough challenge.” Quarter-finals South Africa will take on the Brave Blossoms in a quarter-final fixture that will inevitably evoke memories of Japan’s shock 34-32 victory over the Springboks in Brighton at the 2015 World Cup. The Springboks coach, Rassie Erasmus said on Monday they had deliberately played a warm-up fixture against Japan ahead of the World Cup to try and dampen down any talk of the Brighton Miracle. “In all honesty, the reason for that warm-up game was to erase the Brighton game, so that if we do play them in play-off games, that game hopefully doesn’t get mentioned again,” Erasmus told reporters ahead of their quarter-final on Sunday. “It’s 1-1, and now we go into a quarter-final game against a really tough team. That (Brighton) game is in the past now.” South Africa comfortably won that September 6 match, 41-7, but Erasmus acknowledged that their pre-tournament clash would have absolutely no bearing on how both sides played at Tokyo Stadium on Sunday. Wales will take on France in the day’s other quarter-final. Defending champions New Zealand play against Ireland, while England take on Australia in Saturday’s quarter-final matches. Typhoon Hagibis affects matches Organisers of the Rugby World Cup deemed the risk from Typhoon Hagibis so high that they cancelled matches for the first time in the tournament’s 32-year history. With the huge storm set to potentially devastate parts of Japan, Italy’s game against New Zealand in Toyota and England’s match against France in Yokohama on Saturday have been cancelled while Japan’s game against Scotland on Sunday is also in doubt. The host nation would advance to the quarter-finals for the first time if their game in Yokohama is called off. “While making every possible effort to put in place a contingency plan that would enable all of Saturday’s matches to be played, it would be grossly irresponsible to leave teams, fans, volunteers and other tournament personnel exposed during what is predicted to be a severe typhoon,” said tournament director Alan Gilpin. “We fully appreciate that England, France, New Zealand and Italy fans will be disappointed, but we trust they will appreciate that their safety must come first.” Super Typhoon Hagibis is heading north toward Japan’s main island and could make landfall on Saturday, with torrential rain, high winds, storm surges and high waves expected. As it stands, New Zealand will finish top of Pool B with South Africa going through as runners up. South Africa vs Canada South Africa celebrated their 500th test by storming into the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals with a 66-7 victory over Canada on Tuesday. The Springboks ran in six tries in the first half hour at Kobe Misaki Stadium, and Canada’s woes deepened a couple of minutes before halftime when replacement lock Josh Larsen was shown a red card for an illegal shoulder charge at a ruck. The Boks had wrapped up the bonus-point they needed to secure their quarter-final berth by the 18th minute, with the best of those tries coming from Reinach as he picked up the ball at the base of a ruck inside the Bok 22 and scythed through a gap in the defence. The Boks will find out who they face in the quarter-finals on Sunday. Ticket target hit Rugby World Cup organisers announced on Friday they had hit their target of selling 1.8 million tickets during the tournament. Despite fears that crowds might be sparse in Japan, not a traditional rugby nation, fans have turned out in their droves, packing stadiums even for games not involving tournament heavyweights. World Rugby chief Bill Beaumont said the tournament had “captured the hearts and minds of a nation and the global rugby family” and congratulated the Japanese organised for hitting their milestone. There are now a “limited” number of tickets available on the official ticketing website, as sponsors and nations hand back some seats, organisers said. “While tickets remain available, our advice to fans is to only buy through official channels to avoid being disappointed,” said Beaumont. Ticket prices vary widely, from 100,000 yen ($936) for the best seats at the final, to 2,000 yen for the cheapest entry to the pool game between USA v Tonga. South Africa trounce Italy South Africa took a critical step towards qualification to the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup when they crushed an Italy side reduced to 14 men for most of the second half 49-3 on Friday. The win at Shizuoka Stadium took the Springboks above the Italians and New Zealand to the top of Pool B. The ever-dangerous Cheslin Kolbe scored a try in each half and Bongi Mbonambi, Lukhanyo Am, Makazole Mapimpi, RG Snyman and Malcolm Marx also crossed to comfortably earn the twice World Cup winners a bonus point. Italy’s already tricky task became nigh on impossible when they had prop Andrea Lovotti sent off for dropping Duane Vermeulen on his head in the 43rd minute and their slim hopes of progressing now rest on beating the All Blacks for the first time. “It was tough in the beginning, we knew what the challenge would be and that it would be a forward battle, so from the first scrum we wanted to give everything,” South Africa captain Siya Kolisi told reporters. “We wanted to control the set-pieces, because they are very strong in that, and we did that today. “It’s been a tough couple of weeks but we have regrouped. Our coaches and management have been backing us by giving us as much information as possible and the way we responded today was really good.” Italy had spoken before the game of how discipline would be crucial in deciding the outcome but they specatacularly failed to back their words with action as they battled to match the physicality of their fired-up opponents. “We played against a very strong side,” Italian captain Sergio Parisse said. “We tried to come back in the second half but after the red card it was very difficult. “It’s tough for us, but we must keep going forward. We are very disappointed, but we must try and finish well against the All Blacks (on Oct. 12).” Spectator from space South Africa’s clash against Italy will be watched by millions of fans across the planet, and one Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano who will be cheering on his team from space. Parmitano will be watching Friday’s Pool B match from the International Space Station as it orbits some 400 km above the earth. Italy are looking to upset the Springboks and reach the knockout stages for the first time. Parmitano, who has been in space since July, had a message for the Italian team. “You are a team and have to work all together to reach your goal, which is that of winning,” he said in a video posted by the European Space Agency and the Italian Rugby Federation. It is not the first time Parmitano has broken new ground in space. In August he became the first person to DJ in space when he played a set from the ISS for a club in Ibiza. Boks make changes ahead of Italy clash South Africa have made a few changes in their ranks ahead of the crunch Rugby World Cup Pool B clash against Italy at the Shizuoka Stadium on Friday. The Boks made three changes to their first-choice pack as they brace for a muscular forward challenge from Italy. Two of the switches are in the front row as hooker Bongi Mbonambi and experienced prop Tendai Mtawarira come in for Malcolm Marx and Steven Kitshoff respectively. Lock Lood de Jager, who did not start against New Zealand in their opening fixture, has also been preferred to Franco Mostert as coach Rassie Erasmus looks for continuity in the line-out after a six-day turn-around from the 57-3 victory over Namibia in Toyota City. “This game is going to be decided by the forwards and at the set phases and we wanted to maximise our options in those battles,” Erasmus told reporters on Tuesday. “For us this is a crunch game, it’s do-or-die. We will do what we have to do, if we have to grind it out, no matter how we do it, win with a drop-goal or something, we will do it to get out of the pool stages.” The Boks have chosen a six-two split on the bench, overloading with forwards – hooker Marx, props Kitshoff and Vincent Koch, locks RG Snyman and Franco Mostert, and loose-forward Francois Louw, another sign that Erasmus is concerned about the battle in the pack. It means the only backline cover comes from utility back Frans Steyn and scrum-half Herschel Jantjies, but Erasmus feels they have enough versatility on the pitch to cover for any eventualities. “People may think it is a gamble to have only two back replacements, but we want to have plenty of ammunition for what is likely to be a major forward battle. “It’s a 23-player game these days and the players who come on will be expected to contribute almost as much in game time as those who start among the front rowers. “Frans can cover (number) 10, 12 and 15, Damian de Allende can play at 13, Cheslin (Kolbe) can play scrumhalf or full-back and Faf (De Klerk) can even play as a flyhalf if needed. So we have a lot of options.” Centre Jesse Kriel has not been considered as he recovers from a hamstring injury picked up in the opening 23-13 loss to New Zealand. Team: 15-Willie le Roux, 14-Cheslin Kolbe, 13-Lukhanyo Am, 12-Damian de Allende, 11-Makazole Mapimpi, 10-Handre Pollard, 9-Faf de Klerk, 8-Duane Vermeulen, 7-Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6-Siya Kolisi (captain), 5-Lood de Jager, 4-Eben Etzebeth, 3-Frans Malherbe, 2-Bongi Mbonambi, 1-Tendai Mtawarira Replacements: 16-Malcolm Marx, 17-Steven Kitshoff, 18-Vincent Koch, 19-RG Snyman, 20-Franco Mostert, 21-Francois Louw, 22-Herchel Jantjies, 23-Frans Steyn. The Italians also made changes of their own with South African-born Braam Steyn shifting from number eight to the side of the scrum to accommodate the return of talismanic captain Sergio Parisse. The match is a must-win game for both sides as they seek a quarter-final berth and will have a knockout feel, with Parisse’s vast experience of 141 caps and five World Cups adding huge value for the Italians. Steyn will provide muscle, South African know-how and foraging at the breakdown for what Italy coach Conor O’Shea expects to be a brutal physical battle. “We feel this is the best squad that we could have selected based on the specific game-plan we have for South Africa, so we are very pleased to have everyone fit and available,” O’Shea told reporters in Shizuoka on Wednesday. “It’s going to be a massive physical challenge and these guys will have to front-up, otherwise we have lost the game before it has even started.” Italy have a full haul of 10 points from their two Pool B matches but must still face New Zealand after their meeting with the Boks. Team: 15-Matteo Minozzi, 14-Tommaso Benvenuti, 13-Luca Morisi, 12-Jayden Hayward, 11-Michele Campagnaro, 10-Tommaso Allan, 9-Tito Tebaldi, 8-Sergio Parisse (captain), 7-Jake Polledri, 6-Braam Steyn, 5-Dean Budd, 4-David Sisi, 3-Simone Ferrari, 2-Luca Bigi, 1-Andrea Lovotti Replacements: 16-Federico Zani, 17-Nicola Quaglio, 18-Marco Riccioni, 19-Federico Ruzza, 20-Alessandro Zanni, 21-Sebastian Negri, 22-Callum Braley, 23-Carlo Canna. Ecstatic Japan players Japan’s stunning victory over Japan victory put the host nation in pole position to qualify for the knockout stages and it will surely lead to an explosion of interest in Japan. “Thank you for today!” Japan hooker Shota Horie said to the crowd after being named man of the match. “Thanks to your cheers, I was able to run to the last centimetre, the last millimetre. “The tournament still continues, let’s fight calmly and let’s fight together. Thank you for today!” Veteran forward Luke Thompson echoed those sentiments. “I am so happy but it’s not finished yet,” he said. “We will concentrate for the Samoa game from tomorrow. We practised the breakdown a lot. Good team work today. I am happy.” Coach Jamie Joseph said the stunning victory, which matched the upset of twice world champions South Africa at the last World Cup in 2015, had been long in the planning. “We’re ecstatic about the result,” the New Zealander said. “We’re really proud of the players, we had a plan, we’ve been training for a long time. We’ve been thinking about this game for quite a long time, obviously Ireland have been thinking about it for the last six or seven days. “We’ve got another couple of games to go but we’ll enjoy tonight I reckon.” Japan next face Samoa on Oct.5. South Africa vs Namibia South Africa claimed their first victory at the Rugby World Cup, emerging 57-3 victors over Namibia at the City of Toyota Stadium on Saturday. South Africa ensured that there would be no repeat of the upset earlier in the day by Japan, who beat Ireland, as they ran in nine tries in a slick display. “All in all, a great performance from the boys…”Springboks captain Schalk Brits gives his thoughts after his side beat Namibia 57-3 at #RWC2019#RSAvNAM— Rugby World Cup (rugbyworldcup) September 28, 2019 The Springboks next face Italy on Friday in Fukuroi City in a match that should decide second place in the pool, while Namibia face the daunting prospect of meeting New Zealand in Tokyo on Oct. 6. Japan upset Ireland Hosts Japan stunned Ireland 19-12 in an extraordinary upset on Saturday to win their second match of the Rugby World Cup and give themselves a strong chance of reaching the knockout stages for the first time. The Brave Blossoms came from behind at Shizuoka Stadium to beat a side recently ranked number one in the world in a shock to match their victory over twice world champions South Africa at the 2015 World Cup. UPSET! UPSET! UPSET! Japan ?? stun world number 2 Ireland ?? 19-12 in front of their own fans. Stuff of dreams! Wow! Wow! Wear green and Japan will punish you. Ask the Springboks! Scenes in Fukuroi. ? #JPNvIRE #RWC2019— Usher Komugisha (@UsherKomugisha) September 28, 2019 #RWC2019 Congratulations Japan JRFURugby – worthy winners today with an incredible performance and amazing support. Thanks to our own fans who cheered us to the last – wonderful as always.#ShoulderToShoulder #JPNvIRE #TeamOfUs— Irish Rugby (IrishRugby) September 28, 2019 UNBELIEVABLE! On home turf, Japan have achieved an incredible win over Ireland! Shizuoka is rocking! FT: Japan 19-12 Ireland #RWC2019 #JPNvIRE— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) September 28, 2019 “It’s difficulty to put into words, just really proud of the boys…”JRFURugby captain Pieter Labuschagne gives humble interview after historic first win over Ireland at #RWC2019#JPNvIRE— Rugby World Cup (rugbyworldcup) September 28, 2019 Namibia relishing opportunity to take on Boks Minnows Namibia take on their neighbours South Africa in what they believe will be an exciting Rugby World Cup encounter. “The nerves are sky-high, it’s something that I have been dreaming of my whole life. I can’t explain the feeling, it just feels very big,” Namibia centre PJ Walters told reporters on Friday. Walters, who made his international debut off the bench against Italy in the 47-22 loss last Sunday, says his main aim is not to “try anything stupid”. He played in the fullback position against Italy, but he will line up at the City of Toyota Stadium at inside centre and will likely have a busy evening as the much more fancied Springboks batter the Namibia defensive line with their powerful runners. As for a gameplan, he said his focus is on sticking to the instructions of coach Phil Davies. “Stick to the basics… do everything that we have been training on in the last few months. And don’t try anything stupid!” There is a chance that the enthusiasm of the Namibians may get the better of them and in a World Cup where overzealous, and high tackles are already a major talking point, Walters says the players are well-aware of the consequences. “It’s on our minds (about high tackles), you know you can get cited. The low cut is the best tackle you can get, so we must just stick with that,” he said. Walters, 26, is one of many players in the Namibia squad who have been exposed to South African rugby through their schooling and studies. Born in the tiny southern Namibian town of Keetmanshoop, he was schooled across the border in Upington in South Africa’s Northern Cape. He was part of the academy of the Johannesburg-based Golden Lions, but never managed to break into the professional scene in the country. That failure makes Saturday’s clash all the more significant for Walters, giving him a chance to prove his ability, and perhaps put himself in the shop window for professional South African and European clubs. “When I got the news (of a World Cup call-up) I was having a braai (barbecue) with my cousin and just chilling. Coming from where I come from, it was a very, very big thing for me,” he said. “There will be no love lost on Saturday because it is against our neighbours, but we also represent Africa together. “I just think it will be a great clash, a great atmosphere and a big opportunity for us (as players).” New Zealand, Ireland are good: Boks South Africa’s coaching staff say New Zealand and Ireland have been the most impressive teams at the Rugby World Cup so far, adding that the Springboks emerged stronger from their 23-13 loss to the defending champions. “Apart from New Zealand they were the only other team that put in a full 80 minutes of constructive, well-planned, decisive and clinical rugby (in the opening matches),” Bok coach Rassie Erasmus said. “Physically and tactically they were really good, the same as New Zealand. Those are the two teams that I think have been really consistent in the last two years and they will both be a really tough opponents.” We are stronger: Boks The Springboks dominated large parts of their match against New Zealand on Sept. 21 but were undone by two tries in four minutes from the world champions, both coming from South African errors in fielding high balls. ‘‘I know it is a cliché that everybody says when they lose, that ‘we learnt a lot out of it’, but we did. For us it was a great match in terms of tactical, physical and getting challenged in all departments,’‘ Erasmus said. “Mentally … the build-up during the week, the enormousness of the game, the physicality and speed. You know if you play the All Blacks and you make two errors, it is 14 points (against you), so it was nice to play in a game like that where there is so much pressure.” The Boks are next in action against minnow neighbours Namibia in Toyota City on Sept. 28 and have made 13 changes to their side in what is expected to be a comfortable win. South Africa are widely expected to breeze to a bonus-point win over Namibia, which lost its opener 47-22 to Italy, but Nienaber said there are no specific targets in the game other than to put in a performance that showcases what the team has worked on in training. “We have had an unbelievable vibe at training in terms of the intensity and the things we wanted to fix. Our system will develop and New Zealand opened up something in the way they attacked and their style of play that we have to work on, so it was nice to get that (challenge).” “We are always trying to improve, so there is no points limit, or to say, ‘if we only concede three points that would be a good defensive performance’, or ‘if we concede 30 I will be disappointed’. New Zealand regains top rank Defending champions New Zealand are back to the top of the world rankings, following their Rugby World Cup victory over South Africa. The All Blacks’ decade-long reign at the world’s number one ranked team came to an end last month, first losing the mantle to 2019 Six Nations champions Wales and then to Ireland. According to the intricacies of how the standings are calculated, New Zealand would have returned to the summit with a win over their Rugby Championship rivals, regardless of how Ireland did against Scotland, World Rugby said. In the event, the world champions beat the Springboks 23-13 while Ireland cruised past the Scots 27-3. South Africa’s defeat pushed them down to fifth, below Wales who start their World Cup campaign later on Monday against Georgia. France’s dramatic victory over Argentina pushed them ahead of Scotland into seventh spot. Rugby fans react to opening weekend This try was a instant classic from Namibia at Rugby World Cup 2019. #RWC2019— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) September 23, 2019 Duck, dodge and then dive ?‍♂️. What a try #WALvGEO #RugbyWorldCup ????????— Ryan Kirby (@RyanKirby2) September 23, 2019 Can this referee on the #Springboks game come visit us in ?? for one day. We just want to see something.— Vusi Thembekwayo (@VusiThembekwayo) September 21, 2019 Our Rugby team keeps making it to the world cup, THE WORLD CUP guys?. But the support of the Namibia is dololo, but let our soccer team just win a friendly match and everyone is going crazy.?‍♀️— BubblesQueen?? (@mickykaapama) September 20, 2019 Namibia impress despite loss Namibia impressed many rugby fans and pundits, despite falling to a 47-22 loss against Italy, in their Pool B opener at the Hanazono Rugby Stadium in Osaka on Sunday. Italy scored three tries within the space of 10 minutes either side of halftime to give themselves some breathing room against a stubborn Namibia side. Namibia, who have now lost all 20 of their World Cup matches, still managed to give the crowd something to cheer with tries to scrumhalf Damian Stevens and wingers J.C. Greyling and Chad Plato. The Italians now travel to Fukuoka to meet Canada on Thursday, while Namibia face South Africa in Toyota City on Saturday. South Africa lose New Zealand clash New Zealand emerged 23-13 victors over South Africa in a clash between two World Cup favourites on Saturday that never quite lived up to its billing. Having wrestled the Rugby Championship from their rivals last month, South Africa pinned a scrappy New Zealand back for 20 minutes but, with only three points to show for it, the Springboks were left stunned by two scintillating team tries from wing George Bridge and lock Scott Barrett. The All Blacks, who have an 11-day break before their next game against Canada, should go on to top Pool B and hope for an easier quarter-final as a result. South Africa next face Namibia in Toyota City. “It was the full 80 minutes and right to the end of the test match we had to work (hard),” New Zealand captain Kieran Read said. “Good fortune sometimes happens and in those two moments we managed to take them and that made the difference in the game.” Read suggested that a greasy ball coming off the Yokohama pitch had made life difficult for the players. “We had to defend early, but when we did get opportunities we tried to speed up the play a bit but it was pretty tough out there with the conditions.” The Springboks had the physicality to match New Zealand but not the precision, with too many missed tackles, at times aimless kicking and poor hands under the high ball gifting away territory. “We didn’t start well and they did, handling our kicking game really well,” Bok captain Siya Kolisi said. “And a little bit of their physicality as well, I think we took too long to get into the game. “We stuck to our guns in the second half and we scored first, like we planned, but we couldn’t capitalise on our opportunities.” Weekend fixtures Africa’s representatives at the World Cup, South Africa and Namibia, who are both in Pool B, will be in action this weekend. South Africa’s Springboks will take on defending champions, New Zealand All-Blacks on Saturday, while Namibia take on Italy on Sunday. Japan wins World Cup opener Hosts Japan on Friday won the tournament opener against Russia, running out 30-10 winners after being given an early scare by the Russians. Kotaro Matsushima scored a hat-trick of tries, as the hosts recovered from conceding an early try. After an opening ceremony featuring a dazzling laser light show and appearances by Japan’s Crown Prince Akishino and All Blacks great Richie McCaw, there were quickly a few fireworks on the pitch. The Russians, laid on as sacrificial lambs for the opening party, stunned the noisy crowd of 48,745 into silence when they pounced on a Japanese error and scored the tournament’s first try through winger Kirill Golosnitskiy in the fourth minute. Man of the Match Matsushima replied with Japan’s first try seven minutes later but it was not until he went over for his second just before the break that the error-prone home side took the lead at 12-7. Japan looked more direct after the break and flanker Pieter Labuschagne soon extended the lead with an individual effort, stripping the ball from an opponent and then running a third of the pitch to touchdown under the posts. Russia kept coming at the home side but 12 minutes from time Matsushima again showed his pace on the outside to secure the bonus point that might be key to Japan’s hopes of advancing from Pool A, which also includes Ireland, Scotland and Samoa. “You get out there and realise just how much pressure there is on the night,” Japan coach Jamie Joseph told reporters. “Our kicking game was pretty poor tonight so we’re going to fix that up quickly,” he added, conceding that his team made a lot of unforced errors. The Russians next take on Samoa on Sept 24, while Japan go up against the number one-ranked Irish in Fukuroi City on Sept 28 in a match the hosts will be desperate to win if they wish to progress to the quarter-finals for the first time. They will need a much-improved performance to get anywhere close to what would be a stunning upset to rank with their win over South Africa at the 2015 World Cup. New Zealand focused on South Africa clash Defending champions New Zealand say they are focusing all their energy on the World Cup opener against South Africa on Saturday, which they consider to be their most challenging match. The two old rivals, who have won the World Cup five times between them, meet in Yokohama to kick-start the tournament and lay down a marker for the weeks to come. With Italy, Namibia and Canada the other teams in Pool B, regardless of Saturday’s result New Zealand and South Africa would expect to qualify for the quarter-finals. It means the All Blacks, who are chasing a third consecutive World Cup, will be holding nothing back on Saturday. “We’re actually not thinking too far ahead in this tournament right now because this weekend is a pretty big weekend, isn’t it?” assistant coach Ian Foster said on Tuesday. “And it’s kind of made it really good for us as coaches because we can just put all our energy into that first game. “Whichever way it goes then I guess we can sort out the plan that we follow after that.” South Africa come into the tournament having only lost once in their last seven matches, including a draw with New Zealand in July. The Springboks were victorious when the two sides met in Wellington this time last year. That means New Zealand are way of the threat posed by coach Rassie Erasmus’ team and are looking at the match more as a standalone contest than a World Cup tone setter. “We’re at a heightened state always when we play South Africa,” said Foster. “I know the World Cup is big but I guess our focus has been on this game for a while.” REUTERS South Africa calls for fairness South Africa’s Springboks on Monday called on the French referee Jerome Garces to treat them as equals during this weekend’s opening Pool B blockbuster clash with defending champions New Zealand. Assistant South Africa coach Mzwandile Stick said that with the gap between the All Blacks and their potential rivals for the Webb Ellis Cup closing, match officials need to be consistent in how they applied the laws to all teams. In the past, World Cup-winning All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, a wizard in the loose, was often accused of influencing referees to rule in his favour at the breakdown. “The fans are excited by this one and looking forward to it,” former South Africa sevens specialist Stick said of the Saturday’s showdown in Yokohama. “Hopefully the officials maybe will treat everything equally and respect the game and also respect the fans.” South Africa topped New Zealand in this year’s Rugby Championship and Ireland are currently ranked world number one but Stick said the All Blacks remain the team to beat. “If you look at previous history when it comes to the All Blacks, they’ve been dominating at Test level and it’s always the case that whenever they go to the World Cup they are favourites,” he said. Recent history between the Boks, who are blooming under coach Rassie Erasmus, and Steve Hansen’s All Blacks promises to make for a tight encounter on Saturday. “Things are a lot more balanced between us an New Zealand right now,” Stick said. “We can’t ask for any better build-up towards the World Cup: if you look at the last three games we played against the All Blacks, in Wellington last year we won by two points, they came to Pretoria and won by two points, and then we drew against them again this year in Wellington. “We’re looking forward to this challenge, it’s going to be a tough one… against one of the best teams in the world and given the history between the two teams.” AFP South Africa defeats Japan South Africa cruised to a comfortable 41-7 victory over Japan on Friday in their final World Cup warm-up match, thanks to a hat-trick of tries from Makazole Mapimpi. Winger Cheslin Kolbe opened the scoring with a neat finish on seven minutes, before Mapimpi ran in two easy tries from the other flank as the Springboks built a 22-0 lead at halftime in Kumagaya. Further tries from Mapimpi and Kolbe either side of Kotaro Matsushima’s consolation and a final flourish from Herschel Jantjies secured victory for South Africa and helped soothe the memory of Japan’s famous win at the 2015 World Cup. With this victory, South Africa laid down a tournament marker and gained revenge for defeat four years ago, while Japan must look for improvement in their World Cup opener against Russia on Sept. 20. Africa’s representatives South Africa and Namibia, who will be representing the African continent at this month’s Rugby World Cup, are finalising preparations that they hope will be sufficient to secure glory. Both teams are in Pool B, along with defending champions New Zealand, Italy and Canada. Hosts Japan will open the World Cup against Russia on Sept. 20 in Tokyo before South Africa face old rivals New Zealand in Yokohama. Namibia play their first match against Italy on Sunday 22. South Africa raring to go South Africa, who have won the World Cup twice, are set to play their final warm-up match against hosts, Japan. The Springboks will be wary of Japan who caused one of the biggest upsets in tournament history with their 34-32 victory over them at the 2015 World Cup in England. “You can definitely see this is a much different team, much more fitter, much more stronger. Their systems are working and they know exactly what they are about, they know their strengths and weaknesses,’‘ said Siya Kolisi, South Africa’s captain ahead of the match. Namibia seeks maiden victory Namibia will be seeking their first ever World Cup victory, 20 years after they debuted at the prestigious tournament. They are banking on the experience of their Welsh coaches to end a 19-match losing streak. Former Wales forward Phil Davies has been in charge of a team known as the Welwitschias, a sturdy desert plant, since just before the last World Cup in 2015. Davies works with compatriots Mark Jones (backs) and Dale McIntosh (forwards) as assistant coaches, while another Welshman, Wayne Proctor, is responsible for strength and conditioning. “This is not a case of jobs for the ‘boyos’,” Davies stressed. “They are used to working with full-time and part-time professionals and that is what we have in the Namibian squad.” Scrum-half Eugene Jantjies is set to play at a fourth consecutive World Cup and says the Welwitschias’ aim continues to be finding a winning formula. “This is the best squad we have had for many years and after coming so close to winning four years ago, I believe we can create history in Japan,” he said. READ MORE: South Africa names squad for 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan
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Guinea's prosecutor asks for five year jail term for protest leaders (Sat, 19 Oct 2019)
Guinea’s public prosecutor on Friday requested before a court in Conakry the maximum penalty of five years in prison for the main protest leaders against a possible third term bid of President Alpha Condé. The court will issue its judgment next Tuesday. In a court under high police protection and full of people, Prosecutor Sidy Souleymane Ndiaye requested the same five-year prison sentence against seven of the eight defendants, with a fine of two million Guinean francs each (194 euros). He requested the release of the eighth defendant. The defendants are leaders of the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution, a coalition of political parties and civil society groups behind demonstrations in Conakry and several cities in Guinea. The prosecutor likened their action as an “insurrection”. He spoke of “insidious, serious and dangerous statements to disturb public order”. The authorities claim these protests are illegal stressing police did not approve of them. From the beginning, he justified the repression of the protests on grounds of public safety. The prosecutor also noted that the FNDC had called for the paralysis of mines, banks and all economic activity. The defendants’ lawyers contested that their clients had called for the demonstrations and requested for their release. “In prison or in freedom, I will fight against Alpha Condé‘s policy for a third term, I will fight to prevent Alpha Condé from having a third term,” said one of the defendants, Ibrahima Diallo. “The Guinean Constitution is not a rag,” said one of the lawyers, Halimatou Camara, calling supporters of a third term of office “arsonists”, in a warning against the risk of escalation if Alpha Condé confirmed his plans. The protest has already resulted in ten deaths among the demonstrators and 70 gunshot wounds, and nearly 200 arrests, according to the FNDC. The authorities claim nine people have lost their lives. The FNDC intends to block President Condé‘s plan to have the Constitution revised to run for a third term in office when his second term expires in October 2020. Guinea’s current Constitution limits a president to two term limits. The NGO Human Rights Watch has called for an end to the repression, the release of those arrested and an investigation into the violence. The authorities have banned all demonstrations since July 2018, but repression has intensified in recent days. It recalls that in the past it has extensively denounced the “excessive use of lethal force” by Guinean police and gendarmes during demonstrations and acts of brutality against demonstrators. It denounces the “almost total impunity” of the security forces. “The systematic ban on all demonstrations, the arbitrary arrest of civil society leaders and the use of violence to disperse demonstrators show that the government is prepared to trample on human rights to repress the protest,” the statement noted. The international community is alarmed by the current tensions in a poor country despite its significant mineral resources, with uncertain stability and a tradition of extremely violent protests and repression.
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UN urges Egypt to release detained blogger (Sat, 19 Oct 2019)
The U.N. human rights office called on Egypt on Friday to free a prominent blogger, lawyer and journalist allegedly mistreated in custody who are among nearly 2,000 people detained since street protests began a month ago. Officials at the interior ministry were not immediately available for comment. The state prosecutor’s office said in late September that it had questioned a number not exceeding 1,000 suspects who took part in the demonstrations. “Unfortunately such arrests are continuing, and have included a number of well-known and respected civil society figures,” U.N. human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told a news briefing in Geneva. Protests against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo and other cities have followed online calls for demonstrations against alleged government corruption. Sisi, who came to power after, while army chief, leading the 2013 overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, has overseen a broad crackdown on dissent that has extended to liberal and Islamist groups, and which rights groups say is the most severe in recent memory. Journalist and activist Esraa Abdelfattah was arrested by plainclothes security officers in Cairo on Oct. 12 and was reportedly beaten after she refused to unlock her mobile phone, Shamdasani said. Abdelfattah is on a hunger strike, she added. Alaa Abdel Fattah, a blogger and software engineer, was released in March after serving a five-year sentence for protesting without permission, but was re-arrested on Sept 29, Shamdasani said. The same day, his lawyer Mohamed al-Baqer, was arrested while attending the interrogation, she added. Abdel Fattah was struck by guards on his back and neck while being forced to walk down a corridor in his underwear, while al-Baqer has been subjected to physical and verbal abuse, and denied water and medical aid, she said.
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African presidents resist term limits: Guinea, Burundi, Cameroon, Rwanda, Uganda (Sat, 19 Oct 2019)
Guinea’s president Alpha Conde has become the latest African head of state to seek an extension his legal mandate, a move that fuelled protests in the country this week. If Conde tries to run for a third term in 2020, he would be copying from an established playbook in Africa, where incumbent presidents have sought, often successfully, to remain in power by massaging, bending or outright breaking laws often meant to ensure democratic handovers of power. Below are details on how some of Africa’s longest-serving leaders have managed to stay in power, or are trying to do so, denting hopes of a dawn of democracy across the region. Guinea’s Alpha Conde Conde’s second and final five-year term expires in 2020, but the 81-year-old leader has refused to rule out running again. In September, he asked his government to look into drafting a new constitution, raising concerns he might use it as a reset button on his presidency and run again. Conde was first elected in 2010. Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza Nkurunziza, in power since 2005, announced in 2015 he would run for a third term in what his opponents saw as a breach of the constitution which only allowed leaders to rule for two terms. Since his re-election, hundreds of Burundians have been killed in clashes with security forces and half a million have fled abroad. A referendum in May 2018 overwhelmingly approved changes that extended the length of presidential terms to seven years. Under the new constitution, Nkurunziza is now able serve a further two terms, potentially extending his rule until 2034. The opposition rejected the results and the United States said the process had been marred by voter intimidation. Cameroon’s Paul Biya Biya, 86 and sub-Saharan Africa’s oldest leader, took over the presidency in 1982. The national assembly adopted a constitutional bill in April 2008, removing a two-term presidential limit to allow him to extend his rule past 2011. He has won two elections since then that opposition candidates have said were fraudulent. Chad’s Idriss Deby Deby has ruled Chad since coming to power after a 1990 coup. A 2005 referendum removed a two-term limit from the constitution. Parliament approved a new constitution in 2018 reimposing the two-term limit, but it will not be applied retroactively, meaning Deby could serve two terms after the next election in 2021, potentially ruling until 2033. Comoros’ Azali Assoumani The president, a former military officer who first seized power in a coup in 1999, won a referendum in 2018 to extend term limits and end a system of rotating power among the archipelago’s three main islands off Africa’s east coast. The vote allowed him to run for two more five year-terms. The opposition dismissed the referendum as illegal. Congo Republic’s Denis Sassou Nguesso The constitution in Congo Republic was changed by referendum in 2015, lifting term and age limits that would have excluded Nguesso from running again. He won a new five-year term in a 2016 election, although the opposition rejected the outcome, alleging fraud. He has ruled for all but five years since 1979. Djibouti’s Ismail Omar Guelleh Lawmakers in Djibouti approved a constitutional amendment in 2010 that paved the way for Guelleh, in power since 1999, to run for a third term. He has won two subsequent elections. Ivory Coast’s Alassane Ouattara Ouattara, in power since 2010, has claimed the adoption of a new constitution in 2016 would allow him to run for a third term in the 2020 presidential race because a new constitution would mean the first two terms did not count. He has not yet said if he will stand for re-election. Rwanda’s Paul Kagame In 2015, Rwandans voted to extend the constitution’s two-term limit. Under the changes, Kagame could seek another seven-year term and two five-year terms after that, potentially remaining in power until 2034. Kagame, who won a third term in 2017, has faced mounting criticism for what human rights groups say are widespread abuses, a muzzling of independent media, and suppression of political opposition. He denies wrongdoing. He first came to power in 2000. Togo’s Faure Gnassingbe Togo changed its constitution in 2019 to cap the presidential mandate at two five-year terms ostensibly in response to opposition calls for an end to a political dynasty that started when Gnassingbe’s father seized power in a 1967 coup. However it does not take into account the three terms Gnassingbe has already served since coming to power in 2005, the latest of which ends in 2020. Gnassingbe could therefore remain in power until 2030. Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni Museveni has ruled Uganda since 1986. A term-limiting clause that would have prevented him from seeking re-election was deleted from the constitution in 2005. In 2017, lawmakers voted to remove a constitutional limit on the age of presidential candidates, paving the way for 75-year-old Museveni to stand again in the 2021 election. REUTERS
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At least 28 killed in heavy rains in northeastern Ghana (Sat, 19 Oct 2019)
At least 28 people have died as a result of heavy rains that have been raining for a week in northeastern Ghana, rescue services told AFP on Friday. “We have so far counted 28 dead. About 640 people in six communities had to leave their homes, we relocated them,” said George Ayisi, spokesman for the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO). “About 286 houses collapsed as a result of the disaster, making life difficult for the population (...). Most of the displaced have lost their personal belongings – clothes, valuables, money,” he added. “It doesn’t look like the rains will stop soon. The meteorological service has informed us that the rains will last until the first week of November, so we must be prepared for everything” in this region located more than 800 km from the capital Accra, according to Mr Ayisi.  According to NADMO, a total of 46 people were killed in heavy rains and floods this year in Ghana, where these phenomena are frequent.
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Mozambique polls: opposition rejects results giving president Nyusi early lead (Sat, 19 Oct 2019)
Mozambicans took to the polls on Tuesday taking part in presidential, provincial and legislative elections, pitting the two main parties, Frelimo and Renamo against each other. In this article, we highlight the election issues, presidential candidates, electoral guidelines and the process from voting to announcement of official results. Opposition rejects results Frelimo, Nyusi gain early lead US expresses concern over credibility of polls Observer missions share initial observations Electoral body decides against provisional results Vote counting underway Polls close President, opposition leaders vote Polls open Will peace deal hold? Presidential candidates Election issues Electoral guidelines Opposition MDM party rejects results The opposition Democratic Movement of Mozambique (MDM) denounced a “shameful electoral process”. In a statement issued on Friday, the MDM expressed its “indignation” and “rejection” of the electoral process. “We claim that there has been fraud,” the party added, “these elections were neither fair, free nor transparent.’‘ The main opposition party, Renamo has refrained from making any official comments since Tuesday’s election. Preliminary results give Nyusi lead Mozambique’s electoral commision released first results of Tuesday’s presidential and legislative elections, which indicated that the incumbent president and the ruling party had taken an early lead. After counting 830,000 ballots cast, representing just over 6% of the 13.1 million registered voters, the current head of state, Filipe Nyusi, who is running for a second term, has polled nearly 75% of the votes, according to the results published by the NEC on its website on Friday. The main opposition candidate, Ossufo Momade, leader of the main opposition party Renamo, the former rebellion of the civil war (1975-1992), received 20% of the votes, according to the same results. At the last presidential election, Mr. Nyusi won with 58% of the votes in front of the historical leader of the Renamo Afonso Dhlakama (37%). In the legislative elections, Frelimo, which has led Mozambique since its independence from Portugal in 1975, is well ahead with 70% of the votes after counting 750,000 ballots, ahead of Renamo with 22% of the votes, according to initial results. The NEC is scheduled to announce the results of the provincial elections on Monday, which also took place on Tuesday. United States expresses concerns In a statement on Friday, the U.S. Embassy in Mozambique issued “serious concerns about (...) irregularities that could have consequences on the perception of the integrity of the electoral process”. The statement cited “discrepancies” between the voters’ lists and the population census in several regions, including in the provinces of Gaza (south) and Zambezia (central). The statement added that in many polling stations in Gaza, the turnout at the end of the day was “almost 100%” while it remained “low until mid-afternoon”. EU criticises ruling party The European Union observer mission deployed in Mozambique on Thursday raised an alarm, citing unfair conditions and unjustified use of state resources by the ruling party, as well as widespread violence. “An unlevel playing field was evident throughout the campaign,” the EU mission said in a statement. “The ruling party dominated the campaign in all provinces and benefited from … incumbency, including unjustified use of state resources, and more police escorts and media coverage than opponents.” Frelimo spokesman Caifadine Manasse said the EU claims were “unfounded”. “Frelimo went to these elections as a governing party, but competed on equal terms with the other parties,” Manasse said. “The European Union is acting badly in making such pronouncements …We work on the ground using our means, the means of the Frelimo party and the candidate.” Very few results have yet trickled out, although an official at the electoral commission said they may start coming out on Friday, the law allows 15 days in total after the vote. “Inter-party violence was prevalent as well as mistrust between the main political parties and a lack of confidence that the electoral administration … (was) independent,” the EU said, adding that there was also little public trust in the independence of the police. African observer missions urge caution African observer missions were more sanguine, with both the African Union team lead by former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and the Southern Africa bloc SADC praising the poll for being peaceful and well organised. “We commend (the electoral commission) and the state for conducting successful, peaceful and orderly elections,” SADC mission chief Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri told journalists. “Parties and people must be patient and remain committed to Peace as the results are being compiled for validation,” said Muchinguri-Kashiri, who is Zimbabwe’s defence minister. The former rebel movement Renamo seeks to control its traditional heartlands in central and northern provinces but it faces the waning popularity of its candidate, Ossufo Momade, and a challenge from younger opposition party, the MDM. Tensions rise over results proclamation Voters in Mozambique are wary of the possibility of post-election violence, following the decision by the electoral commission to not publish provisional results. The electoral body indicated that it will only release the final results within the mandated 15-day period following Tuesday’s vote. ‘‘The official electoral results could take a long time to come out, and so that could lead to irregularities and violence,’‘ Egidio Guambe, director of ‘Plataforma Transparencia eleitoral said. The counting of results itself has not been without incident. Watchdog Sala da Paz said police fired tear gas and warning shots in the central province of Nampula — a Renamo stronghold, after opposition supporters refused to leave polling premises to “protect their vote”. ‘‘We cannot say that the process was 100 percent free and fair but we definitely think it would be an acceptable process where we definitely believe that the political parties also can accept the outcome of these elections,’‘ said Hermenegildo Mulhovo, member of Sala da Paz. According to unconfirmed reports, police had killed a voter during the incident in circumstances that were still unclear and 73 people had been arrested for “disturbances in polling stations”. Vote counting, ballot-stuffing allegations Allegations of ballot-stuffing have persisted in Mozambique despite Tuesday’s dismissal of the same by the country’s electoral commission as ‘completely untrue’. The Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE) refuted reports by opposition parties that an unauthorised private company brought ballot boxes and voting material into Mozambique, with the intention of undermining the election. STAE says all voting material was produced by the companies Academica and Uniprint, which won the tender. It’s director Felisberto Naife added that a through investigation of these allegations would be conducted, including a process of evaluating authenticity of extra ballot papers. On social media, several observers and voters shared pictures and videos showing the ongoing process of counting and tallying votes. Ballot counting is ongoing in the Mozambican general elections? Balsu skaitīšana Mozambikas vispārējās vēlēšanās #MozambiqueElections #eleições2019 #ilovemyjob— Linda Mazure ?️ (Vinotava) (@Vinotava) October 15, 2019 #MozambiqueElections Sample from a polling station in Beira Number of voters 158 Number of ballots in the box 252— Zenaida Machado (@zenaidamz) October 15, 2019 Polls close At 6pm local time (1600 GMT), polls closed as stipulated by the law. Mozambicans will hope that authorities can announce the outcome as soon as possible. The law allows for 15 days for results to be announced. Fragile peace President Filipe Nyusi praised Mozambicans for deciding their destiny in elections and called for peace and calm to continue. “Mozambique has chosen peace,” he said after casting his ballot at a school in the capital Maputo. Outside of Mozambique’s remote north, the main security risk would come from a disgruntled opposition. “If [the vote] is manipulated, we will never accept it,” Renamo presidential candidate and party leader Ossufo Momade said after casting his ballot in Nampula, in the north. “We have to do whatever we can do, if the people want us to,” he said, without elaborating on the warning. Momade is seen by analysts as less likely to turn to violence than his predecessor, but also as less able to maintain control of the party and supporters. Both opposition parties, Renamo and younger challenger the MDM, have already made allegations of vote rigging. The run-up to the vote was marked by sporadic violence, including the killing of an election observer and attacks from a breakaway group of Renamo fighters that killed one person. Polls open On Tuesday, 20,000 polling stations welcomed Mozambicans to cast their votes. Throughout the day, nearly 13 million registered voters were expected to select a President of the republic, 250 deputies, ten governors and members of provincial assemblies. We are looking forward to a successful outcome as the good people of Mozambique visit the polling stations across the country today to perform this important civic duty. GEJ— Goodluck E. Jonathan (@GEJonathan) October 15, 2019 Will election make or break peace deal? President Filipe Nyusi is widely expected to win a second term, while the main opposition party, Renamo hopes to win more political power,following a peace deal signed between the two civil war rivals in August. Under the deal, provincial governors will now be picked by the main party in each province, rather than the government in Maputo, and Renamo is banking on traditional provincial strongholds such as Sofala to gain influence. “The biggest threat to the peace process is if Renamo does not deliver a good number of provinces,” said Alex Vines, head of the Africa programme at Chatham House. Frelimo has dominated the politics since the southern African country’s independence from Portugal in 1975. Presidential Candidates President Felipe Nyusi is the incumbent, having succeeded his mentor Armando Guebuza as head of Mozambique in 2014. The country’s first president from the Southern region, Nyusi is struggling to contain an Islamist insurgency in his home region. Ossufo Momade, took over the reigns of the National Resistance of Mozambique (Renamo) last year, when its historic leader, Afonso Dhlakama died suddenly. He signed the peace deal with government to end the decades-old conflict, but is yet to win the full support of the movement’s armed wing. David Simango, who seceded from Renamo in 2009, is contesting the presidency for the third time. Since 2003, Simango has been mayor of the Mozambican city of Beira, ravaged by Cyclone Idai six months ago. Mario Albinois the outsider of the presidential election, leading the United Movement for Integral Salvation (AMUSI), which was created by former members of Simango’s party. READ MORE: Meet Mozambique’s four Presidential candidates for the Tuesday election Election issues President Nyusi has pledged to develop the country’s gas reserves, and consequently tackle the extreme poverty that is fuelling an Islamist insurgency in regions like Cabo Delgado. Mozambique is set to become a top global gas exporter, and expects investments worth $50, more than four times its current GDP. Nyusi’s government has taken a hit in reputation by the relentless attacks on villages in the gas-rich region, a Frelimo stronghold. Attacks have increased in the run-up to the vote, making campaigning impossible in some districts, said Human Rights Watch researcher Zenaida Machado. While a peace deal was signed in August to end decades of hostilities, a breakaway faction of Renamo fighters that disputes some aspects of the accord has been staging attacks in the group’s traditional central strongholds, demanding that party leader Ossufo Momade resign and the election be postponed. Senior Frelimo politicians and associates, including a former finance minister and the ex-president’s son have been charged in a $2 billion debt scandal that has tarnished the party’s image. The discovery of previously undisclosed loans, all guaranteed by the government, prompted the International Monetary Fund and foreign donors to cut off support, triggering a currency collapse and a sovereign debt default. READ MORE: Mozambique charges 20 in connection with $2 billion hidden debt scandal Six months after two cyclones ravaged the country, killing hundreds and wreaking destruction across central and northern regions, the effects are still being felt, in the lead up to the election. Researchers say affected Mozambicans lost their voter cards or identity documents needed to cast ballots, during the storms. Opposition parties have also accused the government of not doing enough to assist affected people High-stakes election Renamo fought Frelimo for 16 years from 1977 to 1992 in a Cold War conflict that killed about one million people. It ended in a truce but sporadic violence has flared in the years since,including after Renamo challenged election results in 2014. The problem for Renamo in places such as Beira, the capital of Sofala province, is that Frelimo, as well as the smaller Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), are muscling in on its traditional turf. Nyusi’s credibility has been knocked by the insurgency and a graft scandal that sank the economy, but Frelimo holds numerous districts in Sofala following local elections last year, and dozens of people told Reuters the ruling party had their vote. Frelimo spokesman Caifadine Manasse said it had consolidated the rule of law and tackled graft. Chatham House’s Vines said if Renamo wins three or four of Mozambique’s 10 provinces in next week’s vote, that should be sufficient to placate its supporters. But any fewer and a recent bout of party infighting over the peace deal could worsen. Renamo’s leadership could lose control of sections of the party, threatening commitment to the agreement or even a return to targeted violence, he said. Renamo spokeswoman Maria Ivone Soares said the party was convinced it would win in Sofala and other provinces. “The results are unlikely to be disappointing because of the … corruption, unemployment, inequality and misery that have been promoted in this country since national independence.” Electoral system The president is elected using the two-round system, and must win an absolute majority to avoid a run-off or second round. The 250 members of the Assembly are elected by proportional representation, where the party with the most votes appoints the leaders in each region. Mozambicans in the diaspora (Africa and Europe) are also represented. Polls open at 7am local time (0500 GMT) and close at 6 p.m. (1600 GMT). The law allows 15 days for results to be announced.
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Catalan calls for international support [International Edition] (Sat, 19 Oct 2019)
The jailing of nine Catalan separatists by Spain’s Supreme Court for their part in the region’s 2017 independence bid has ignited a backlash of anger across Catalonia. Meanwhile, Britain and the European Union have a struck a new Brexit deal after days of intense back-and-forth negotiations. Also, Turkey vows to press on with an offensive in northern Syria until its mission to create a safe zone is complete. Stay tuned as we will have reports on this and other stories as we retrace the major current events covered by the Euronews editorial team presented by Elayne Wangalwa. elayneshani
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