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Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir steps down from power: Sources

Government sources and a provincial minister have told the Reuters news agency that Sudan President Omar al-Bashir has stepped down from power and consultations are under way to form a transitional council.

Adel Mahjoub Hussein, the minister of production and economic resources in North Darfur,  told Dubai-based al-Hadath TV that “there are consultations to form a military council to take over power after President Bashir stepped down”.

Sudan’s armed forces will make an important announcement soon, state television said on Thursday as troops were deployed in Khartoum after months of protests against the president.

“The armed forces will present an important statement shortly. Be ready for it,” the announcement on state television read, without giving further details.

A Sudanese source also told Middle East Eye that Bashir had resigned.

A source told Reuters that Bashir was under house arrest with a number of aides at the presidential palace.

Earlier, the army and security services deployed troops around the palace, defence ministry and on major roads and bridges in Khartoum as thousands of people flocked to an anti-government protest outside the ministry, a witness said.

Khartoum international airport has also reportedly been shut down.

Protesters outside the defence ministry chanted: “It has fallen, we won.”

Why are Sudanese protesting against their government?

Hundreds of people have been taking to the streets of a series of towns and cities in Sudan since 19 December 2018 to protest a government decision to remove subsidies on wheat and electricity.

Sudan’s economy has been struggling over the past decade with inflation spiking to around 70 percent over the past year alone.

This has caused the price of bread to double, cash shortages and salaries left unpaid. The austerity measures adopted by the government are part of larger economic reforms proposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The mobilisation on the ground against the price hikes – organised by a group known as the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) – found almost immediate resonance among opposition leaders, youth and women movements and rapidly turned into a larger show of discontent with 75-year-old President Omar al-Bashir.

Protesters have been reportedly chanting “freedom, peace, justice” and “revolution is the people’s choice” as they march through the streets of the capital, Khartoum.

Sudan’s armed forces have responded to protesters with tear gas and at times, live ammunition, mowing down at least 30 people, according to government figures.

Human Rights Watch, the international rights watchdog, says the death toll is closer to 51.

The protests have energised the Sudanese diaspora culminating in the biggest ever challenge to Bashir’s rule since he took over the country in 1989.

Saudi Arabia’s Al Arabiya TV also reported that Bashir had resigned and several officials were arrested, including the defence minister.

State television and radio played patriotic music, reminding older Sudanese of how military takeovers unfolded during previous episodes of civil unrest.

Divisive figure

Bashir, a former paratrooper who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1989, has been a divisive figure who has managed his way through one internal crisis after another while withstanding attempts by the West to weaken him.

Sudan has suffered prolonged periods of isolation since 1993, when the United States added Bashir’s government to its list of terrorism sponsors for harbouring Islamist militants.

Washington followed up with sanctions four years later.

Bashir has also been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague over allegations of genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region during an insurgency that began in 2003.

The latest crisis has escalated since the weekend, when thousands of demonstrators began camping out outside the Defence Ministry compound in central Khartoum, where Bashir’s residence is located.

Clashes erupted on Tuesday between soldiers trying to protect the protesters and intelligence and security personnel trying to disperse them.

At least 11 people died in the clashes, including six members of the armed forces, the information minister said citing a police report.

Since 19 December, Sudan has been rocked by persistent protests sparked by the government’s attempt to raise the price of bread, and an economic crisis that has led to fuel and cash shortages

Opposition figures have called for the military to help negotiate an end to Bashir’s nearly three decades in power and a transition to democracy.

The demonstrators at the Defence Ministry had said that they wanted to submit a petition for the armed forces to take their side in their attempt to remove Bashir and his administration.

Source : MEE and Agencies
Feature Image : Reuters

IEC makes arrangements for Muslim voters ahead of elections

The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) will soon be going into overdrive as it prepares for the 8 May polls.

It’s under a month until South Africans cast their ballots and the IEC says “so far, so good”. The commission has had to think of numerous scenarios and eventualities to ensure that all goes off smoothly.

The elections will be held during Ramadan and the IEC has made arrangements for Muslim electoral officials.

The commission’s Courtney Sampson said that Muslim voters can apply for a special vote.

“Muslim voters must decide when they want to vote; either on 8 May or they can apply for a special vote and vote on 6 or 7 May.”

 

Source : EWN

Broad support for South Africa’s downgrade of relations with Israel

Cosatu has accused the Jewish Board of Deputies of attempting to divide the ruling party and the South African government in its decision to downgrade relations with Israel by trying to isolate Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.
“This is the decision of the ANC and we do not believe there have been any contradictions between the President and the Minister in this regard; we condemn this attempt to confuse everyone. South Africa is not a confused state,” Cosatu has said.
 
Following Minister of International Relations Lindiwe Sisulu’s announcement last week that South Africa would not be replacing its ambassador in Tel Aviv, and that the South African mission would remain at the level of a liaison office with no political, trade, or development mandate, the SAJBD accused Sisulu of contradicting President Cyril Ramaphosa’s statements on the matter. 
The ANC has hit back at the SAJBD’s statement saying, “The ANC lauds the decision by the Minister of International Relations Lindiwe Sisulu to downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel. The ANC resolved to downgrade its embassy, and these conference resolutions are binding on all of its members including those deployed to Cabinet. Both the President and Minister are ANC deployees who are bound by the decisions of its highest organ which is the conference.” 
 
The Chair of the ANC’s NEC Sub-committee on International Relations Lindiwe Zulu has welcomed the implementation of the resolution to downgrade South Africa’s diplomatic presence, on behalf of the entire ANC NEC. 
 
Special Advisor to the Minister for International Relations Zane Dangor has responded to the SAJBD allegations saying, “The SAJBD statement erroneously seeks to suggest that there are different approaches within government to downgrading South Africa’s diplomatic relations with the state of Israel. Both President Ramaphosa and Minister Sisulu are committed to implementing a resolution pertaining to this issue that was passed unanimously by the governing party, the African National Congress (ANC).” 
 
Dangor has referred to the President’s response to a question posed to him in the National Assembly on March 7th on progress in implementing the ANC resolution to downgrade relations with Israel.
 
“Government is in the process of giving effect to a resolution of the governing party that South Africa should downgrade its embassy in Israel. Our approach is informed by our concern at the ongoing violation of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and the refusal of the government of Israel to enter into meaningful negotiations to find a just and peaceful resolution to this conflict,” Ramaphosa said, “The South African government remains seized with the modalities of downgrading the South African Embassy in Israel.” 
 
Dangor maintains that the essence of the ANC’s resolution was that South Africa was to downgrade diplomatic relations with the Government of Israel until it complies with international law.  
 
“Since the passing of the resolution in December 2017, instead of seeking to comply with international law, the Government of Israel has continued to act contrary to international human rights law and various UN Resolutions including UN Security Council resolutions. This includes disregarding international injunctions against increased settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, contravening the responsibilities of an occupying power in relation to humanitarian services in the territories under its occupation, and illegal use of force in the occupied Palestinian territories,” Dangor has said. 
 
The ANC’s alliance partners and numerous civil society formations have voiced their support for the actions to downgrade South Africa’s diplomatic presence in Israel. On Monday the SACP issued a statement saying, “The SACP Salutes the South African Government for downgrading the status of the South African embassy in Israel to a liaison office. The decision was officially communicated during #IsraelApartheidWeek. Although the decision was long overdue, we appreciate the message sent by our ANC-led government to the rest of the world that South Africa cannot have normal relations with an apartheid state.” 
 
The SACP went further saying it strongly condemns the statement of intent made a few days ago by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that if re-elected he will annex the whole of the West Bank and never recognise the state of Palestine. 
 
The SAJBD has responded robustly to the recent developments calling on the South African Government to “reject politically biased and discriminatory calls to break off ties with Israel and instead find ways to re-engage in the region through maintaining open channels of communication with all parties.”
 
“The SAJBD remains strongly of the view that an embassy downgrade would not achieve anything in terms of advancing Middle East peace prospects, but would run counter to South Africa’s own objective interests, particularly in terms of stimulating Foreign Investment,” the SAJBD has said.
 
Cosatu has shot back saying, “We cannot be held at ransom in the name of investment and trade, this is a matter of principle, and South Africa must no longer be complacent on the matter.”
 
While there has been no official Israeli reaction, following Sisulu’s statement that plans to downgrade the South African embassy had already started, according to the Middle East Monitor Israeli radio reported that Israel is planning to withdraw its ambassador to South Africa. Israeli radio also allegedly reported that the Israeli embassy in South Africa will be downgraded to a representative office which would deal with consulate issues.
 
Civil society has upped the pressure on Israel to adhere to international law with over 700 British artists from the worlds of literature, film, stage and music, having pledged to boycott Israel “as long as the state continues to deny basic Palestinian rights.” Former British PEN President and writer Gillian Slovo have said, “As a South African I witnessed the way the cultural boycott of South Africa helped apply pressure on the apartheid government and its supporters. This Artists Pledge for Palestine has drawn lessons from that boycott to produce an even more nuanced, non-violent way for us to call for change and justice for all.”
 
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) has welcomed the downgrading of relations with Tel Aviv. “We applaud this significant move to break relations with Israel, an arrogant and racist colonial state that denies equal rights to all citizens through apartheid laws. The measures announced by Minister Sisulu demonstrate that our government can take practical actions in line with political and moral imperatives that will put us on the right side of history.” 
 
The PSC has also pointed to a UN Human Rights Commission report published last month which found that Israel’s use of lethal force against protesters warrants criminal investigation and prosecution and may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Source : IOL
Feature Image : Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

Mom of three ‘bashes’ alleged rapist to death

Hundreds of community members turned up at the local magistrate’s court in Mount Fletcher, Eastern Cape, on Monday in support of a woman charged with murdering a suspected intruder.

DispatchLIVE reports the 46-year-old man was killed, allegedly by a 33-year-old mother of three, at her home on Sunday.

On Monday, Legal Aid attorney Hlanga Mondliwa said in an affidavit the woman would plead not guilty to murder. She had no previous convictions and worked as a cashier at a national chain store.

Prosecutor Tshepo Sekhosana said the state would not oppose bail and that the accused was co-operating. The court granted her R1,000 bail and postponed the matter to May 7 for further investigation.

In a press statement, Saps Capt Raphael Motloung said it was alleged the woman had been asleep when a man entered her house at about midnight. There had been a knock and the door was opened by force.

“Someone came into the house and it was dark inside. It is alleged the woman jumped out of bed and went straight to the door and pushed the figure/person outside.

“She took a stone/facebrick and hit him hard in the face with it in self-defence.

“At the same time, the [intruder] tried to assault her as well and later [the intruder] fell down and became unconscious in front of the house, where he had fallen.”

The man was rushed in a private vehicle to a hospital, where he died, said Motloung.

Men and women, many in ANC regalia, travelled from all areas of Joe Gqabi district to court for the woman’s appearance. Placards held aloft read: “Free Bail”, “You are a women’s hero”, and “[She] is the victim”.

Joe Gqabi ANC Women’s League district chairperson Nomvuyo Mphoselwa and regional Sanco co-ordinator Lubabalo Mantame led the march to the court.

The pair said while they did not support taking the law into your own hands, victims had “split seconds to decide either to succumb to the demands of the attacker or wage an attack in self-defence”.

They said: ”What would you do if someone came into your home at night, and demanded that you take off your clothes, and you have young children around too? If you have the strength, you use everything at your disposal to defend yourself.

“She (the accused) is a woman of prayer; we thank God for having given her the strength to fight off her assailant, but it is unfortunate that [the alleged intruder] died. We come here to give her support,” the alliance representatives said.

NPA spokesperson Luxolo Tyali said police would have to ascertain whether the killing was intentional, provoked or in self-defence, and the circumstances around it.

“Even if there are allegations of self-defence and attempted rape we cannot simply act on rumours and decline to prosecute without facts,” said Tyali.

Source : DispatchLIVE, TimesLive

Israeli elections: Netanyahu faces challenge from Gantz at polls

Israelis are voting on Tuesday to choose the next party to lead the 21st Knesset in an election that pits incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against Benny Gantz, former army chief of staff, with 37 other parties in the running.

Polls are open from 7am (04:00 GMT) to 10pm (19:00 GMT) at 10,720 polling stations.

Israeli citizens aged 18 and over, including those living in illegal settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and West Bank are eligible to vote. Israeli law excludes expats currently abroad from voting.

The 4.8 million Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation in East Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza do not have voting rights.

According to the polls, Netanyahu of the right-wing Likud party and Gantz of the centrist Blue and White party are running in a close race for prime minister. The position is chosen by the Israeli president, on the recommendations of Knesset Members (MK).

The final poll published by Israel’s Channel 13 before the election showed the Likud and Blue and White in a dead heat with each gaining 28 seats.

The poll also predicted that Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc would win 66 Knesset seats with Israel’s centre-left parties winning 54, as reported by Israeli Haaretz.

On Thursday Israel’s Channel 12 released a poll in which respondents were asked who they would prefer to see as prime minister: 37 percent answered Netanyahu and 35 percent said Gantz.

Last minute plea

Asked who they believe would form a governing coalition, 58 percent of respondents answered Netanyahu.

However, Netanyahu has been urging voters to head to the polls in a last-minute plea, warning that Likud was trailing behind the Blue and White party, according to Hebrew media.

“People think that we’re going to win, so they’re not coming to vote,” Netanyahu reportedly said at a meeting late Monday night with MKs and Likud members.

“Wake them up everywhere and tell them to bring their family and friends and get out and vote. Our mission is to quickly close the gap as much as possible,” Netanyahu said, according to the Times of Israel.

Sixty-one of the 120-seat Knesset seats are needed to form the government. As no single party has ever won a majority of 61 seats on its own, coalition governments are the norm.

After the final votes are counted, President Reuven Rivlin decides which party leader has the best chance of forming a coalition government relying on recommendations from MKs.

Netanyahu told settler leaders in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, that he did not think his Likud party be able to put together a bloc to have the 61 recommendations that would prompt the president to choose him to form a government.

That’s in part because the Zehut party, led by Moshe Feiglin, said it would ally with whichever party won the most seats.

“In a situation in which there is no bloc, then [Blue and White party heads Yair] Lapid and Gantz are the biggest parties. That is according to the polls in the media and that is according to our polling,” Netanyahu reportedly said according to Israel Hayom.

Undecided voters

Israeli newspaper Maariv reported a day before the election that half a million Israelis amounting to nine Knesset seats remain undecided as to who to vote for between the two frontrunners.

The election is largely seen as a referendum on Netanyahu who is mired in corruption charges.

Israel’s attorney general announced in February 2019 that he intends to indict Netanyahu for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three corruption cases.

Gantz formed the Blue and White party in February to unseat Netanyahu.

Akiva Eldar, a senior columnist for Al-Monitor told Al Jazeera that Gantz provides an appealing alternative for those who don’t want to vote for Netanyahu, but are not excited for voting for the left-wing Labor party either.

“This was a way to vote in between the two of them for something new, for something that may succeed,” Eldar said.

“They don’t believe that Labor has the power to get rid of Netanyahu and win the elections, while people believe Gantz can.

“Gantz is not corrupt. He’s managed to put together a nice group of people from different parties and it seems that he is a good manager to form [a party] in less than two months [from elections], to be able to bring together three former chiefs of staff and to convince Lapid to give up his ambition,” Eldar said.

Source : Al Jazeera
Feature Image : Baz Ratner/Reuters

Palestine Flag

Palestinian issue nowhere to be found in Israel’s election

What impact does Israel elections have on the people of Palestine?
By Elphas Nkosi

Hamas’ aspiration is to free the Palestinian people and pave the way for their self-determination, a member of the group’s Office of International Relations speaking to Markaz Sahaba Online Radio.

In response to repeated questions about the movement’s views on the Israeli elections which are due to be held on April 9, Basem Naim said Hamas does not comment on them because “there is no difference between the Israeli right and left”.

“Many international media asking us about our opinion towards the #IsraelElections, or who we prefer to win the #IsraelElections? Our response was always “. Our choice is the #Freedom & Self determination of our people, and not to change the prison guards”. #Elections2019,” he said.

 

In the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, Netanyahu has engaged in frequent rounds of fighting, but is also conducting behind-the-scenes negotiations with his bitter enemy in hopes of maintaining calm.

 

He added that the “#Palestinian issue wasn’t entirely part of the debate” during the election, “& if it was only to show how they would deny Palestinian rights & show their brutality in dealing with the #Palestinians.”

Ultimately, the election shows that Israel’s is “a racist democracy, that conceals the true face of a racist & fascist occupation, subjugate another people, occupies its land, and deprives it of its right 2 freedom, independence and a decent life.”

Bassem Naim says they do not expect any change especially in Gaza Strip saying in a charged election campaign that has been heavy on insults and short on substance, Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians has been notably absent from the discourse”.

The Hamas official has called upon all other countries in the world to follow on South African steps to a total boycott of Israel. “I hoped that the downgrading would eventually escalate to a complete boycott of Israel.

“We thank South Africa for the steps it has taken to express its anger at the apartheid policy of the Israeli occupation state.” Said Bassem.

Any party which receives 3.25% or more of the vote is represented in the Knesset. Given historical trends of voter turnout, it is expected that some 4.4 million or so Israelis will take part in this year’s election, meaning that a party must win about 144,000 votes to pass the electoral threshold.

Israel to close its embassy in South Africa

Israel is planning to withdraw its ambassador to South Africa after Pretoria began steps to downgrade its relations with Tel Aviv, Israeli radio reported yesterday.

According to the station, the Israeli embassy in South Africa will be downgraded to a representative office which would deal with consulate issues.

According to Quds Press, Israeli radio reported that that South African Foreign Minister Lindiwe Sisulu had told journalists in Johannesburg that plans to downgrade the South African embassy in Israel had already started.

South Africa has downgraded its embassy in Tel Aviv, the foreign minister said Sunday, following a decision taken by the ruling party more than a year ago.

International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu told journalists in Johannesburg that plans to downgrade the embassy in Israel were well underway.

“We will not be putting up a nomination for a representative at the level of an ambassador in Israel,” Sisulu said.

“The office will remain at the level of a liaison and that is how it will operate,” she added.

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) resolved to downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel to liaison office level 16 months ago.

The ANC has in the past voiced its solidarity with the Palestinian struggle, which many South Africans see as similar to the struggle against white minority rule in South Africa which was ended in 1994.

Last May South Africa recalled its ambassador to Israel after at least 52 Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli forces during protests over the United States moving its embassy to Jerusalem.

Addressing delegates at the South African Institute of International Affairs on Wednesday, Sisulu said the liaison office in Tel Aviv “will have no political mandate, no trade mandate, and no development cooperation mandate. It will not be responsible for trade and commercial activities”.

She added that the office would focus on consular and “people-to-people relations”.

Source : MEMO, AFP, ENCA
Feature Image : RAJESH JANTILAL/AFP/Getty Images

State capture started under Mandela: Helen Zille

Western Cape premier Helen Zille says state capture in South Africa started under former president Nelson Mandela.

Addressing a DA meeting in Kempton Park on Thursday night, Zille said Mandela had a blind eye on cadre deployment, which she believes paved the way for state capture.

“From when Nelson Mandela was still a president and from the negotiations in 1996 which saw … change in the mandate of the Public Service Commission. From 1994 to 1996, from being a body of independent people who would choose senior public servants on the basis of fitness to do the job,” said Zille.

She said the change to give power to the governing party to pick senior public servants was the basis for cadre deployment, which let to state capture.

“One area that he [Mandela] had a blind spot to was the danger of cadre deployment … that set the tone and the trajectory that was inevitable,” said Zille.

She said the change brought to the centre power cronyism, cadre deployment, corruption and criminal capture of the state.

Zille said the critics on this view label her as a racist who does not want to see change in the country, but that those had done very little to fight racism and apartheid as she did.

She said based on the ANC’s list to parliament, it was clear that President Cyril Ramaphosa had lost the internal battle to Ace Magashule and deputy president David Mabuza.

“[The ANC] is totally irredeemable and can not be reformed,” said Zille.

She said those who think they would be voting for Ramaphosa were naive, because they were actually voting for the ANC list.

Zille said the ANC did not understand the distinction between the party and the state and had created a system where it chose who gets tenders.

She called it an ANC economy, which was run by connections to those in power.

Source: TimesLIVE
Feature Image : © David Longstreth/AP Images

Arab states face water emergency, urgent action needed: UN

Arab states are facing a water supply emergency they need to coordinate an urgent response to, with per capita resources expected to fall by 50 percent by 2050, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned.

The Middle East and North Africa have suffered more than any other region from water scarcity and desertification, problems being complicated by climate change, FAO director-general Jose Graziano da Silva told a meeting of Arab states in Cairo on Thursday.

In response, they needed to modernise irrigation techniques and coordinate water management strategies as a matter of urgency.

The per capita share of fresh water availability in the region is already just 10 percent of the world average, according to the FAO. Agriculture consumes more than 85 percent of available resources.

“This is really an emergency problem now,” Graziano da Silva told the Reuters news agency in an interview on the sidelines of the conference.

The meeting, attended by around 20 states, was the first of its kind at which ministers of both water and agriculture were present, an effort to improve coordination between different branches of government that have often failed to work together.

Egypt criticised

“It’s unbelievable that this region does not have good governance on water management and land management,” said Graziano da Silva.

“[In Egypt] they have 32 ministers. Most probably of those 32 ministers, 30 ministers deal with water – water is a problem for them. And they don’t have ways to coordinate very efficiently.”

Egypt says it has already started working to improve ministerial coordination, for example by reducing rice cultivation to conserve water.

Graziano da Silva said he visited agricultural areas in Egypt’s Nile Delta where farmers were still employing inundation techniques used for centuries to irrigate their land.

“This is a waste of water. We need to move urgently to drip irrigation and other techniques that save water,” he added.

Water scarcity was also displacing rural populations and increasing the region’s dependence on cheap, highly processed food imports that were contributing to rising rates of obesity, he told the conference.

Source : MEE and agencies
Feature Image : AFP

PSA1

Israel Apartheid Week kicks off in South Africa

The 15th annual Israeli Apartheid Week ,the largest global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) mobilization for Palestinian rights kicks off.
By Elphas Nkosi

Israel Apartheid Week kicked off in Northern Cape, South Africa, yesterday in participation with civil society organisations including the Boycott, Divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement and political and trade union leaders.

This year`s theme is, Africa United For Palestine. South Africa visited Lesotho as part of #IsraeliApartheidWeek. They met with the Foreign Minister, leaders of political parties and the University Of Lesotho.

The week, which includes lectures, political seminars, documentaries and artistic performances, aim to raise awareness of the Palestinian cause and the Israeli violations against Palestinian rights.

Speaking to Markaz Sahaba Online Radio,Rashaad Yusuf Dadoo, chairperson of the Palestine Solidarity says (IAW) is to give unwavering support for the Palestinian cause, it looks to play a strategic role with Palestine and the importance of standing with the Palestinian people against the Israeli occupation’s racist policies and its continuous violations of human rights.

Member of the Communist Party, Chris Matlhako, also stressed the importance of standing against Israeli apartheid and supporting the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights.

Provincial Secretary of the South African Communist Party, Norman Shushu, said the world should not remain silent about the US pressure including announcing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and recognising Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights.

For his part, Ambassador of the State of Palestine, Hashim Dajani, stressed the importance of exposing the repressive Israeli practices against the Palestinian people, noting that the Israeli practices will not undermine the Palestinian people’s determination to achieve their aspirations for freedom, dignity, independence and the establishment of an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.

 

Iran’s Rouhani: US blocking of aid to flood victims ‘unprecedented crime’

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says US harming of humanitarian work in flood-hit areas constitutes “an unprecedented crime.”

“The US move to block international humanitarian aid to those affected by flood is an unprecedented crime,” Rouhani said on Wednesday.

Rouhani called on the Iranian Foreign Ministry and the country’s legal bodies to pursue the issue through legal channels.

He said even Iranians living abroad were not able to send their aid to their fellow people due to Washington’s sanctions.

Scores of people have been killed and hundreds more injured in the past days from flash floods after severe rains swept through large parts of Iran.

Iran has announced a state of emergency in several provinces threatened by flooding and ordered tens of thousands to evacuate their homes.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Tuesday that the US had frozen the accounts of the Iranian Red Crescent Society as part of its sanctions against the Iranian people, thus preventing other countries from sending humanitarian aid to people in Iran’s flood-stricken areas.

“Given that the accounts of the Iranian Red Crescent Society have been blocked [due to the US sanctions], no foreign citizen or Iranian national living abroad is able to send any relief aid to flood-hit people,” Qassemi told IRNA.

This measure exposes the American officials’ hostile approach towards the Iranian nation and counters all their “ridiculous” claims that the sanctions do not target the people of Iran, he added.

On Monday, Iran’s foreign minister said the US was waging “economic terrorism” against the country by employing restrictive measures that are troubling the relief efforts targeting flood-stricken people across the country.

In a tweet, Mohammad Javad Zarif said the US sanctions were “impeding aid efforts by Iranian Red Crescent to all communities devastated by unprecedented floods. Blocked equipment includes relief choppers.”

The US re-imposed the sanctions against Iran that had been lifted as part of a 2015 multilateral nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers, weeks after Washington left the international agreement in May 2018.

Back in October 2018, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered the US to halt the unilateral sanctions it had re-imposed on “humanitarian” supplies to Iran.

Washington has refused to relieve its bans.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Rouhani praised efforts by Iranian officials and relief workers to render assistance to the flood-hit people and pledged that his administration would stand by the people.

“What warms the cockles of our heart as we make efforts to deliver aid to [those affected by flood] and counter the massive flood crisis in the country’s provinces is the moral of people,” he said.

“The government will be serving those affected and hit by flooding with its full force and we well do our utmost to compensate for the damage caused,” he added.

Iran’s Army and the so called Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) have also stepped up ongoing relief efforts in several provinces hit by the flooding.

The military forces have mobilized efforts to help people trapped in the flood-affected areas. They have also helped evacuate residents in the regions with an emergency situation.

Iran’s petroleum minister urges oil firms to assist flood relief

Meanwhile, Iran’s Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh urged local oil and gas firms to do more to help with providing aid to the flood victims.

The pain and damage caused to people in the flood-hit areas require that all forces and equipment in the oil industry have the active presence in full coordination with the country’s crisis management headquarters in order to assist and provide services to the people, Zangeneh said in a letter to the subsidiary companies of his ministry on Wednesday.

He also hailed Iranian drilling companies and other energy firms for using their pumps to remove water in flooded areas.

Source : PressTV
Feature Image : IRNA

Mother ‘burnt children because they ate her KFC’

A Randfontein mother has spent the night behind bars for allegedly burning her two children, aged five and seven, with an iron, West Rand police said on Wednesday.

“We found that this was all because the children ate her KFC. She had looked for it and the kids said they ate it and she burnt them on the hands and thighs with the iron,” said Sgt Carmen Hendricks.

The horrific incident was first uncovered by the teacher of the children as they returned to school on the first day of the new term on Tuesday.

She noticed the children’s burnt hands and called their stepfather to the school.

He arrived and clarified that he had separated from the children’s 27-year-old mother.

“Upon his arrival [the stepfather] spoke to the teacher who informed him that the children do not cope at school and are very scared. It was said that the mother burnt the children with an iron during the school holidays. The children, who were staying with the mother at that time, could not talk to anyone until they got to school,” Hendricks said.

The children were handed over to social workers while their mother was taken in for questioning.

Hendricks said while the woman was yet to be charged, she would most likely face a charge of child abuse and assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

The teacher revealed that this was unfortunately not the first time she had noticed injuries on the children.

“They said they had previously spoken to the mother about this,” said Hendricks.

Source : Timeslive

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