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Sponsorship pours in for India after dropping Chinese kit partner
21 June 2021, 9:44 AM

India’s cricket board (BCCI) has offered $1.35 million in financial support to the country’s National Olympic Committee, which dropped Chinese sportswear maker Li Ning as its official kit partner citing public sentiment ahead of the Tokyo Games.

Chinese companies have faced a backlash in India since 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a clash with Chinese forces in a Himalayan border dispute last year.

Earlier this month, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) ended its 60 million rupees deal with Li Ning two months before it was due to expire after the Tokyo Games. The BCCI said it hoped the “monetary gesture” would help Indian athletes bring home a record number of medals from Tokyo.

“The BCCI wishes all the athletes representing India in the Olympics all the very best and hopes that they return with more medals than ever before.”

Tokyo 2020 Olympics release a third edition playbook:

The IOA also received notice of support last week from MPL Sports Foundation, which came on board as principal sponsor in a deal worth 80 million rupees that covers the Tokyo Olympics as well as the Asian and Commonwealth Games next year.

The IOA also welcomed Indian conglomerate JSW Group and dairy product brand Amul as its Tokyo partners last week, each bringing in 10 million rupees.

“We have been negotiating with different firms not just for Tokyo but also for the future events,” IOA President Narinder Batra told Reuters by telephone.

“It’s an ongoing process, not a reaction to the departure of our earlier kit sponsor. “But we are thankful to the BCCI for their support for the Tokyo Games,” Batra added.

Ethiopians vote in what government bills as first free election
21 June 2021, 8:22 AM

Ethiopians are voting on Monday in national and regional elections that the prime minister has billed as proof of his commitment to democracy after decades of repressive rule in Africa’s second-most populous nation.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, 45, oversaw sweeping political and economic reforms after his appointment in 2018 by the ruling coalition. But some rights activists say those gains are being reversed and complain of abuses in a war in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, charges the government denies.

Abiy said last week the vote would be the “first attempt at free and fair elections” in Ethiopia, whose once rapidly growing economy has been hit by conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Results of the vote could reverberate beyond Ethiopia. The Horn of Africa nation is a diplomatic heavyweight in a volatile region, providing peacekeepers to Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan. It also is one of the world’s biggest frontier markets.

In the capital, voters began to arrive shortly before polls opened at 6 a.m.

“Our hope is those we voted for will bring development,” said security guard Sisay Kebede, 50, after he cast the first ballot at his polling station. Eight others waited in the cool morning air.

Abiy’s newly-formed Prosperity Party is the frontrunner in a crowded field of candidates mostly from smaller, ethnically-based parties. Billboards with his party’s lightbulb symbol adorn the capital.

Former political prisoner Berhanu Nega is the only other prominent candidate not running on an ethnic ticket. But his Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice party has struggled to attract support outside cities.

During the last election, the ruling coalition and its allies won all 547 seats. This time, more than 37 million of Ethiopia’s 109 million people are registered to vote, choosing from 46 parties for parliament. The electoral board says more candidates are running this time than in any previous vote.

Not all parties are taking part. In Oromiya, Ethiopia’s most populous province, the largest opposition parties are boycotting over alleged intimidation by regional security forces. Officials did not return calls seeking comment.

Problems with voting registration and simmering ethnic violence have delayed voting in a fifth of constituencies. A second round of voting will take place in September.

No date has been set for voting in Tigray, where the government has been fighting the region’s former governing party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, since November.

The United Nations says some 350 000 people face famine there:

‘Almost a democracy’ 

Drinking a beer in the capital Addis Ababa, retired civil servant Yohannes Asrat said he had seen both force and rigging during elections in his lifetime but hoped Monday’s vote would be different.

“We’re almost a democracy,” he said.

Abiy’s reforms include lifting a ban on dozens of political parties and media outlets, releasing tens of thousands of political prisoners and easing restrictions on political gatherings.

But Fisseha Tekle from rights group Amnesty International said the government was still quashing dissent using a revised anti-terrorism law and new hate speech legislation that can lead to prison terms for online content.

“The government is using these laws to arrest people and keep them in prison for a long time,” Fisseha said.

In the capital, many construction projects have paused as growth has slowed in what until recently was one of Africa’s fastest expanding economies, leaving tattered sheeting covering skeletons of unfinished buildings. Many voters are more concerned about reviving the economy than democratic reforms.

Abiy has promised to bring in foreign investment and speed up electrification by filling a giant $4 billion hydropower dam on the Blue Nile, stoking tension with Egypt and Sudan, which fear the Nile water supplies they rely on might be interrupted.

But annual inflation is now about 20% and growth is forecast at just 2% this year after topping 10% before the pandemic.

“The cost of living is increasing,” said shopkeeper Murad Merga, whose window was adorned with ruling party posters. But he remained upbeat: “Everything will be fixed step by step.”

Limpopo youth turns to photography to make a living
20 June 2021, 1:43 PM

Some young people in Limpopo have found creative ways to earn a living amid the skyrocketing unemployment rate in the country. There has been a boom in informal photography. Some snappers say the informal photography sector has been growing over the past three years. They use professional digital still cameras to take pictures, and then send them to clients for a small fee.

An informal photographer on the streets of Giyani shows a client pictures he had just taken of her as she went about her business in town. This has become a means of income for dozens of young men in Limpopo. Media Studies graduate, Bornwise Hlungwani, earns his living this way.

“I’m from section A, I have been working here like two to three years I do have a degree, and I gained a lot of experience working here. I studied Media Studies I completed four years back, so for now I can see here in South Africa there are no jobs, what we are doing we are just hustling every day,” says the 29-year-old.

Akani Chavalala, 21, is saving his earnings so he can go back to the Tshwane University of Technology to resume his Diploma in Food Technology in 2022.

“I started this year around February when I got my results and found out that NSFAS is no longer funding me I decided to come back, I’m saving so that I can pay rent next year when I go back to school,” says Chavalala.

Some of the photographers told SABC News that they would rather hustle than resort to crime.

According to Statistics South Africa, 46.3% of young South Africans are jobless.

“I want to make my life better and I want to make sure that I have I go to school but somewhere somehow things are not going my way, coming here is a way for me to say I want to stay away from crime, I want to work for myself. It is better to hustle than being a thief, or thug your life can be shortened by so doing,” said one photographer.

Some shoppers in Giyani say they always support the informal photographers to encourage them to work harder.

“Well….their business is great. I do take pictures from them and their price is affordable and their pictures look great, yes I feel motivated because they are striving for money, they don’t go around do bad things for money they only do their business,” says one shopper.

“I support this business because it keeps unemployed youth away from crime and it gives them a means to provide for their families,” adds another community member.

The proud young photographers say they are self-taught.

Libya’s Haftar closes border with Algeria
20 June 2021, 12:36 PM

Forces loyal to Libya’s eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar have closed the border with Algeria, they said on Sunday, after major deployments of his forces to the south underscored his continued role despite efforts to unify the country.

Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) last week sent troops into the southern city of Sebha, which was already allied to eastern forces, and then on Saturday to a southern border crossing with Algeria.

“The armed forces have closed the Libyan-Algerian border and declared it a military zone in which movement is prohibited”, said the Moral Guidance Department, an LNA media unit.

The nearly 1 000-kilometre (620 miles) border between Algeria and Libya cuts through mostly uninhabited desert and has few crossings.

Haftar was put onto the back foot last year after the collapse of his 14-month offensive against Tripoli, while a new unity government backed by an UN-facilitated peace process has called into question his political position.

Libya’s unity government demands withdrawal of foreign troops:

However, despite progress towards a political solution for Libya after a decade of violence and chaos, most of the country is still controlled by armed groups, corruption is rampant and the outside powers involved in the conflict have not withdrawn.

Progress is expected on Sunday in implementing the terms of a military ceasefire in place since September, with the planned reopening of the main coast road across front lines, and foreign powers will convene in Berlin this week for Libya talks.

Russian envoy to US returns to Washington with optimistic mindset: RIA
20 June 2021, 12:03 PM

Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, was in an optimistic mood ahead of his return to Washington on Sunday, expecting meetings scheduled with US colleagues next week to be constructive, the RIA news agency reported.

President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Joe Biden agreed to return their respective ambassadors to Washington and Moscow during talks in Geneva on Wednesday, a first summit between the two that they both described as pragmatic rather than friendly.

US and Russian Presidents strike a positive tone after their face-to-face meeting:

Moscow recalled Antonov for consultations after Biden said in March that he believed Putin was “a killer”. The US ambassador later returned to Washington for consultations too.

“There is a lot of work to be done. We are counting on progress,” RIA cited Antonov as saying before he boarded a flight to the United States.

Antonov said he was returning with an optimistic mindset and that meetings would begin on Monday and continue throughout the week.

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