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Mmusi Maimane
Maimane believes in a non-racial coalition govt
16 April 2019, 10:23 PM

DA leader, Mmusi Maimane, believes that a non-racial coalition government would bring change to South Africa.

He was speaking in Nelson Mandela Bay townships of Motherwell and Bethelsdorp in the Eastern Cape.

Maimane was accompanied by the DA’s spokesperson for corruption, Phumzile van Damme and Eastern Cape premier candidate Nqaba Banga on the party’s Kasi-to-Kasi election campaign trail.

Maimane also addressed the DA students’ wing DASO at the Iqhayiya TVET College and told them that a one party was a recipe for state capture.

“Not a commission that is committed to stealing, which is what is happening here in Nelson Mandela bay. They sponsored Mongameli Bobani with the UDM coalesce around corruption. We have proven around the country when you coalesce to prove agenda for change, a plan that delivers for people, a coalition that is non racial and say here is the South Africa we want, a coalition that will bring a capable state and hire people because they are connected to a political party.”

Uganda says would ‘consider’ granting Bashir asylum
16 April 2019, 8:13 PM

Uganda would consider granting asylum to ousted Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court, a state minister said Tuesday.

“If Uganda is approached to grant asylum to Bashir it is an issue that can be considered at the highest level of our leadership,” state minister for foreign affairs Henry Okello Oryem told AFP.

He said that as a result of Bashir’s key role in mediating a peace deal in neighbouring South Sudan, “his asylum in Uganda is what the government of Uganda can consider.”

In the meantime, “Uganda is keenly following the developments in Sudan and we ask the new leadership there to respect the aspirations of the Sudanese people among them peaceful transfer of power to the civilian rule”.

Bashir’s three-decade reign was toppled last week by top commanders after four months of nationwide demonstrations.

Protest leaders say Bashir must face justice, however the transitional military council currently leading the country has said it will not extradite the ousted leader.

The council says Bashir remains in custody, but has not specified his whereabouts or that of other senior regime leaders.

Uganda is one of several African nations which have hosted Bashir in the past without handing him over to the ICC, despite being signatories of the tribunal.

Bashir faces charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity relating to the conflict in Darfur.

The war in Darfur broke out when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against Bashir’s Arab-dominated government, which launched a brutal counter-insurgency.

The UN Security Council asked the ICC in 2005 to investigate the crimes in Darfur, where the UN estimates at least 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced.

France’s Macron to address nation on Notre-Dame fire
16 April 2019, 8:07 PM

French President Emmanuel Macron will address the nation on Tuesday evening over the fire that ripped through Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, the presidency said.

The televised address at 8:00 pm (1800 GMT) will concern Monday’s fire at the cathedral which caused serious damage to the 850-year-old landmark, the presidency said, without giving further details.

On Monday night, after the blaze erupted, Macron had cancelled a speech expected to outline key measures in response to months of anti-governments protests.

That speech had been keenly awaited after Macron toured France in nationwide debates aimed at hearing the concerns of ordinary French people.

But the presidency indicated that now was not the time to deal with this question and that a cabinet meeting on Wednesday would be “entirely devoted” to handling the aftermath of the fire.

Macron would make his address on social issues “at the right moment… as there needs to be a time of contemplation and have the necessary responsibility at a time of great national emotion,” a presidential official said.

A press conference planned by Macron on Wednesday to address the issues raised in the debates has also been cancelled.

Counting the losses: what we know about Notre-Dame’s treasures

Firefighters were praised Tuesday for helping save many of the most celebrated treasures of Notre-Dame by dashing inside the burning cathedral, but officials warned that others were in a precarious state or entirely lost in the flames.

While the Notre-Dame cathedral is venerated as a masterpiece of medieval architecture, it also houses outstanding examples of Western art as well as holy relics.

Rescuers and church officials formed a human chain on Monday night to whisk away as many of the treasures as possible.

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted a picture during the evening of candlestick holders and dozens of other artefacts in safekeeping at a room at the town hall.

Here is what we know:

The steeple and spire of the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral collapses as the cathedral is engulfed in flames in central Paris.

– Relics –

The Holy Crown of Thorns, believed by Catholics to have been worn by Jesus Christ at his crucifixion so Roman soldiers could mock him, was spirited out of the building and is being kept safe at Paris town hall.

It is about 21 centimetres (eight inches) in diameter and made up of rushes braided together and bound by gold wire.

Firefighters were also directed to the tunic thought to have been worn by 13th-century French crusader king, Louis IX, who was made a saint.

Culture Minister Franck Riester said both objects, which were housed in the Cathedral’s treasury, had been saved “thanks to the great courage of firefighters”.

There were three holy items in the spire that collapsed in flames on Monday: a fragment of the Crown of Thorns and relics from Saint Denis and Saint Genevieve, two of the city’s most cherished saints.

– The Great Organ –

Of the cathedral’s three organs, the most impressive is the Great Organ with five keyboards, 109 stops and close to 8,000 pipes.

Built in the 15th century, the organ was progressively added to over the centuries to become one of the largest in France.

It survived the 18th century French Revolution unscathed, even though the building was vandalised, “thanks no doubt to its use in playing patriotic music,” the cathedral website says.

Philippe Lefebvre, one of three official organists at the cathedral, said while the organ “has not been burned” its structure could have suffered from other damage.

The instrument has been preserved but has been partly covered in rubble, dust and water, said Lefebvre who has been playing for 35 years at the cathedral.

“In the months to come, that is going to dry and risk provoking structural problems,” he told AFP. Riester said that organ was “quite affected” by the fire.

– Stained glass –

The cathedral’s three exquisite stained glass circular rose windows were built in the 13th century and renovated several times.

They show prophets, saints, angels, kings and scenes of the daily lives of holy figures. At the centre of each is an image of either the Virgin Mary, Christ as a baby or Christ as king reigning over heaven.

The one on the south was intact on Tuesday, as was another on the western facade which lies between the two stone towers.

Riester said that the windows “had apparently not suffered catastrophic damage”.

– 37 figures of Virgin Mary –

A mid-14th-century statue of the Virgin with Child, placed in the sanctuary, is the most famous of the 37 images of the Virgin Mary contained in the cathedral.

Another depicts Mary holding the body of her son descended from the cross, created by French sculptor Nicolas Coustou between 1712 and 1728 and positioned behind the choir altar.

Riester said more information on the state of all the treasures would be available when it was safe to fully inspect the interior of the cathedral whose structure is being reinforced to prevent it from falling.

– Paintings –

Between 1630 and 1707 the Paris goldsmith guild presented the cathedral with a painting on every May 1. Of these 76 works called “The Mays”, 13 were displayed in various chapels in the cathedral.

On the west wall of the Chapel of Saint-Guillaume is the one considered to be the most beautiful paintings called the “Visitation” by Jean-Baptiste Jouvenet (1716).

Riester said paintings had been damaged by the smoke and water and would from Friday be transported to the Louvre museum for restoration and dehumidifying.

“The fire did not touch the pictures, but in these cases the damage is due to water,” he said.

– 13-tonne bell –

The largest and oldest of the cathedral’s bells is known as the Bourdon Emmanuel. Cast 300 years ago, it weighs 13 tonnes, its clapper alone being 500 kilogrammes (1,102 pounds).

The tenor bell, considered one of the finest examples in Europe, is chimed only on special occasions and important Catholic events, and was joined in 2013 by nine new bells. They are believed to have survived the fire.

Sisi, Egypt’s undisputed leader
16 April 2019, 7:43 PM

Egypt’s general-turned-president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi who could stay in power until 2030 is an autocrat for some and symbol of stability for others.

The 596-member parliament stacked with Sisi’s supporters on Tuesday approved amendments allowing the president to extend his current term by two years and stand for another six-year mandate.

He could as a result remain president until 2030, and has also been granted greater control over the judiciary under the amendments.

The amendments are expected to be put to a public referendum later this month. Critics have slammed the amendments as “unconstitutional”.

The sweeping constitutional changes in Egypt where demonstrations have effectively been banned under Sisi come as months-long protests in neighbouring Sudan brought down veteran ruler Omar al-Bashir.

In Algeria, president Abdelaziz Bouteflika was forced to resign earlier this month after mass protests.

Sisi, as a champion of stability, commands the support of Western powers.

US President Donald Trump regularly lavishes him with praise, hailing him for doing a “great job” during his latest visit to the White House on April 9.

A former army chief, Sisi stormed to the presidency at 2014 polls winning 96.9 percent of the vote, a year after having led the military in ousting Egypt’s first freely-elected president, the Islamist Mohamed Morsi.

Whether people love or loathe Sisi, regard him as a bulwark of stability or as an autocrat, Sisi is the undisputed political force in Egypt.

Under Sisi, authorities have silenced all forms of political opposition in a sweeping crackdown on Islamists as well as secular and liberal activists.

Even prominent novelists, actors and singers who express the slightest criticism of Sisi’s rule have not been spared.

In the run-up to his 2018 re-election, he swept aside all token opposition parties, leaving him as the only real choice on the ballot paper.

The sole challenger was little-known Moussa Mostafa Moussa, himself a supporter of the president, who registered at the 11th hour, saving the election from being a one-horse race.

Sisi swept the poll with 97 percent of the ballots, according to official results.

– Father of the nation image –

Sisi, a former career army officer, was born in November 1954 in El-Gamaleya neighbourhood in the heart of Islamic Cairo.

He graduated from Egypt’s military academy in 1977, later studied in Britain and the United States, and became military intelligence chief under president Hosni Mubarak who was toppled in a 2011 uprising.

As Egypt’s leader, Sisi is often seen microphone in hand, presiding over public ceremonies.

Speaking in Egypt’s Arabic dialect, sometimes laughing in the middle of his own lengthy speeches, he projects an image of father of the nation.

He is fond of telling Egyptians that they are the apple of his eye, stressing he is there only to serve the people.

Sisi, regularly invoking stability as cornerstone to achieving prosperity, has made the fight against terrorism a priority.

He is seen by many Egyptians as the right man to lead the country after years of political, security and economic turmoil that followed the ouster of Mubarak.

A father of four whose wife wears a headscarf, Sisi is described by those close to him as a pious Muslim who does not miss any of the five daily prayers.

But he is also reported to have a strong sense of his own importance, with audio recordings leaked by Islamic-leaning media pointing to a big ego.

In one leak, Sisi recalls a dream about the late president Anwar Sadat, which he saw as an omen that he would one day become powerful himself.

In another, he tells of a dream in which he held a red sword inscribed with the Muslim declaration of faith.

Ironically, it was now-jailed Morsi who appointed Sisi defence minister and commander-in-chief of the armed forces in 2012.

– Security problems –

A year later, Sisi ended Morsi’s turbulent year in power and cracked down on the Islamist’s supporters, with hundreds of people killed in weeks.

On one bloody day — August 14, 2013 — security forces killed more than 700 people in Cairo when they dispersed sit-ins by pro-Morsi protesters.

At the time, Human Rights Watch said the “mass killings of protesters” that day amounted to “probable crimes against humanity”.

Since Morsi’s removal, tens of thousands of his followers have been jailed, and hundreds sentenced in rapid mass trials condemned by the United Nations.

Sisi has also launched a military campaign against Islamic State group fighters based in the restive north of the Sinai Peninsula.

But so far he has been unable to quash the insurgency.

On the economic front, he has launched an IMF-mandated programme of drastic reforms that include cutting energy subsidies, introducing value-added tax and floating the pound.

Many secular and left-wing activists initially supported Sisi, but he has repeatedly been accused by international human rights groups of committing serious violations to silence dissent.

During his first presidential campaign in 2014, he said that “talking about freedoms” should not take precedence over “national security”.

Egypt needed “20 to 25 years to establish a true democracy”, he said.

Djokovic survives Kohlschreiber scare in Monte Carlo
16 April 2019, 7:12 PM

Novak Djokovic was severely tested before securing a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 win over Philipp Kohlschreiber to survive his opening match at the Monte Carlo Masters on Tuesday.

The winner of the last three Grand Slams made eight double faults, dropped serve four times and smashed a racquet after losing the second set to his German opponent in the second-round encounter.

The world number one was relieved to avoid defeat in his first match of the clay season.

“It was a difficult match, there were lots of breaks (a run of eight straight during the second and third sets),” Djokovic said.

“There were lots of ups and downs. It was not the prettiest of matches.

“He played well, but a win is a win. This was a tough first match of the clay season.

“I had to figure out how I needed to move, this kind of match can be expected. It was probably good for me to spend so long on the court.”

Djokovic was able to avoid a second straight loss to Kohlschreiber after the 35-year-old beat him last month in the Indian Wells third  round.

Djokovic, who lives in the Principality, is playing his ‘home’ event for the 13th time in 14 years, winning it in 2013 and 2015 and losing in the final on two other occasions.

Kohlschreiber lost his 12th match from 13 played against top-ranked opponents, but gave as good as he got against an out-of-sorts Djokovic, who needed five match points to go through.

– Pella pounds Cilic –

Argentine Guido Pella dealt a second-round blow to seventh seed Marin Cilic, beating the Croatian 6-3, 5-7, 6-1.

Defeat in just over two hours left 2014 US Open winner Cilic with just one win from six matches since January’s Australian Open, where he went out in the fourth round.

Pella, who won his first career match at the event in the first round on Sunday, emerged a winner as he played on the idyllic centre court for the first time.

“This is my best surface, I knew I had chances,” the world number 35 said. “But I had to play well.

“I was a bit nervous at the start, it was my first time on this court. But playing here is a dream — it’s unreal.”

Cilic was playing here for the 11th straight year, with quarter-final showings in three of the previous four editions.

Left-hander Pella came to the European clay with a title this season in Sao Paulo. He now stands 13-3 on the surface in 2019.

Pella moved into a winning position as he broke Cilic for the eighth time of the afternoon, winning a six-minute game before serving out the upset, saving a break point in the final game and wrapping up victory as Cilic fired wide.

In the first round, Briton Cameron Norrie advanced in his debut match at the event, with the 23-year-old defeating Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 6-3.

The 56th-ranked Norrie was impressed with the dramatic setting of the iconic Monte Carlo Country Club venue which overlooks the Mediterranean from a cliff.

“I like the conditions here. Everything is kind of on top of each other,” he said.

“It’s pretty sick kind of playing tennis on the side of a mountain with a water view.”

Canadian revelation Felix Auger-Aliassime advanced into a second-round contest with third seed Alexander Zverev after beating Argentine qualifier Juan Ignacio Londero 7-5, 7-6 (7/5).

The 18-year-old Auger-Aliassime, who reached last month’s Miami semi-finals as a qualifier, now boasts a ranking of 33rd — up from 175th when he played here a year ago.

“I’m very happy to win my first match after Miami, because I didn’t know what to expect,” he said.

Italian qualifier Lorenzo Sonego beat Russian eighth seed Karen Khachanov 7-6 (7/4), 6-4.

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