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Putin ready to work with any US leader, wants formalities settled
23 November 2020, 5:00 AM

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday he was ready to work with any United States (US) leader and would congratulate whoever emerges the winner of the US presidential election once all the legal formalities are settled, Russian news agencies reported.

Putin has withheld comment, while President Donald Trump has been taking legal action to try to overturn his November 3 election defeat to Democratic President-elect Joe Biden.

“We will work with anyone who has the trust of the American people,” Putin was quoted as saying on state television.

But the winner must be named either by the opposing party, which should acknowledge the victory of their opponents, or after the final results of the election are confirmed in a legitimate, legal way, Putin said.

That follows previous Kremlin comment that it would wait for the official results of the US presidential election before commenting on its outcome.

In the video below, US President-elect Joe Biden delivers his victory speech:


Late in October Kremlin said that Joe Biden’s assessment of Russia as the biggest threat to US national security was wrong and encouraged hatred of Russia.

The comments came just over a week before Biden faces Donald Trump in the NovemberUS  presidential election.

“We absolutely do not agree,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call, when asked to comment on Biden’s assessment.

“We can only regret that absolute hatred of the Russian Federation is spread in this way.”

Moscow’s ties with Washington sank to post-Cold War lows in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine. Biden was serving as vice president under President Barack Obama at the time.

Relations were further soured after US intelligence agencies concluded that Russia tried to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election to tilt the contest in Trump’s favour, an allegation Moscow has denied.

Russia dismissed accusations by US intelligence agencies of trying to interfere with this year’s election.

Biden named Russia as Washington’s most serious global threat in an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes on Sunday, while calling China the biggest competitor.

“Well, I think the biggest threat to America right now in terms of breaking up our security and our alliances is Russia,” said Biden.

Medvedev storms back to beat Thiem, claim ATP Finals title
23 November 2020, 4:00 AM

Daniil Medvedev barged to the head of the queue of young pretenders as the Russian captured the biggest title of his career by storming back to beat Dominic Thiem 4-6 7-6(2) 6-4 in an absorbing climax to London’s last ATP Finals on Sunday.

Thiem looked on course to become the first Austrian to win the title, following on from his recent U.S. Open triumph, but the relentless Medvedev turned the tide in superb fashion to cap a stunning week for the 24-year-old.

There was no big celebration as he fired an unreturnable first serve on match point to end the two-hour-and-42-minute scrap and bring the curtain down on 12 memorable years for the event at the O2 Arena before it relocates to Turin.

Fittingly, Medvedev became the first Russian to win the title since Nikolay Davydenko, who won London’s first edition in 2009.

Sadly for an event that attracted 2.8 million fans to the Thames-side arena in its first 11 editions, this year’s tournament, a vintage edition, was staged in a silent arena because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It perhaps explained Medvedev’s muted reaction to claiming the title and becoming only the fourth player in ATP history to beat the world’s top three at the same tournament, joining David Nalbandian (Madrid 2007), Novak Djokovic (Montreal 2007) and Boris Becker (Stockholm 1994).

“First of all what a match. I mean, one of my best victories, three sets against an amazing player,” Medvedev, who avenged his U.S. Open semi-final defeat by Thiem, said on court.

Medvedev’s imaginative game, a blend of sledgehammer power, cunning angles and unreadable serving, had proved beyond Djokovic in the group phase in which he went 100% and then second-ranked Rafael Nadal in Saturday’s semi-final.

The 27-year-old Thiem appeared to have mastered it but ultimately was overwhelmed.

Medvedev’s triumph came a year after a chastening debut at the event when he lost all three group matches. The only other player to achieve such a drastic turnaround is Djokovic in 2008.

After such a hot streak, including claiming this month’s Paris Masters, the Moscovite was perhaps due a dip and it arrived in the first set as he threw away a 40-0 lead on serve at 2-2, gifting Thiem a break with a double-fault.

Burkina Faso holds election under looming threat of violence
23 November 2020, 3:37 AM

Polls closed in Burkina Faso on Sunday after a presidential and parliamentary election dominated by the threat of Islamist violence that prevented voting in hundreds of villages.

Polling stations were closed across swathes of the north and east where groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State operate. Some that had planned to open were shut because of threats, the electoral commission said.

“People were threatened. They told them: ‘Those who put their fingers in the ink can say goodbye to their finger’,” the commission’s head, Newton Ahmed Barry, told a news conference, referring to the ink marks people are given to show they have voted.

Before election day, official data indicated that at least 400 000 people – nearly 7% of the electorate – were likely to be unable to vote due to polling stations staying shut for fear of violence.

That number could be far higher as many of the 1 million people displaced by unrest in the arid West African country have also found themselves unable to cast ballots.

The expected low turnout puts added strain on the young democracy in the former French colony, where leaders seem “unable to properly address the deteriorating security situation or … the country’s socio-economic woes”, said Alexandre Raymakers, analyst at the London-based risk firm Verisk Maplecroft.

President Roch Kabore is seeking a second five-year term, campaigning on achievements such as free healthcare for children under the age of five and paving some of the red dirt roads that snake across the landlocked country of 21 million.

But the surge in jihadist attacks has eclipsed everything: more than 2,000 people have died in violence this year alone.

“I call on all Burkinabe to vote, whatever their leaning. It’s about the democracy of Burkina Faso, it’s about development, it’s about peace,” Kabore told reporters after voting.

G20 to extend debt relief to mid-2021, pushes private sector to help
23 November 2020, 2:15 AM

Leaders of the world’s 20 biggest economies on Sunday endorsed a plan to extend a freeze in official debt service payments by the poorest countries to mid-2021 and backed a common approach for dealing with their debt problems.

In a joint statement, Group of 20 leaders also strongly encouraged private creditors to take part in the initiative on comparable terms and said they were keeping an eye on the special challenges facing African and small island states.

The G20 debt relief initiative – launched shortly after the start of the pandemic in the spring – has helped 46 of 73 eligible countries defer $5.7 billion in 2020 debt service payments, freeing up funds for countries to fight the pandemic and shore up their economies.

But lack of private-sector participation and countries’ concerns about marring future access to capital markets have limited the success of the debt freeze, which was initially projected to generate some $12 billion in extra liquidity.

Some big creditor countries, including China, also failed to include all state-owned institutions, such as the China Development Bank, in responding to requests for debt relief.

The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated concerns about high debt levels affecting not just low-income countries, but some middle-income states as well.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva called for prompt and effective implementation of the debt treatment framework to provide permanent debt relief to the poorest countries, but said other countries also needed help.

“Going forward, we must also help those countries not covered by the framework to address debt vulnerabilities so that their economies can become more resilient,” Georgieva said in a statement after addressing G20 leaders.

President Ramaphosa urges nations to address debt in developing countries amid COVID-19:

GCIS accuses Sunday Independent of publishing false claims on Bushiri’s escape
23 November 2020, 1:02 AM

The Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) has accused the Sunday Independent of publishing false claims from unnamed sources regarding the escape to Malawi of Shepherd Bushiri and his wife, Mary – who had been granted bail in South Africa.

They are facing charges of theft, fraud and money laundering involving a 100 million rand investment scheme.

The newspaper report quotes unnamed sources as saying the Bushiris were issued bogus diplomatic passports and fled the country aboard a jet hired by Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera – with the assistance of South African government officials and politicians.

The Bushiris’ escape to Malawi sighting safety concerns:

GCIS says the story in the newspaper seeks to implicate International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor and other Ministers in crimes and conspiracy without providing any evidence.

Earlier Pandor, called on the Sunday Independent to retract the allegations that the South African and Malawi governments helped Sheperd Bushiri flee to his home country of Malawi.

The Minister said failure to do this will force the department to seek legal advice.

In a statement, Pandor said such matters should be subject to full investigation by relevant authorities and not subject to speculation bordering along the lines of irresponsible journalism.

She said the publication did not afford her department a chance to respond to the allegations.

“Officials in DIRCO work diligently and are entitled to do so without having their reputations tarnished by unnamed sources that hide in the shadows. It is concerning that DIRCO was not afforded an opportunity to respond to these serious allegations by the newspaper concerned.”

Pandor said the matter remains under investigation.

“Government continues to investigate this matter and is working closely with the Government of the Republic of Malawi to achieve a resolution aimed at ensuring that the law of the Republic of South Africa is upheld.”

Attempt to embarrass ministers

GCIS Director-General, Phumla Williams, says the article sought to embarrass Pandor and other ministers.

In a statement, Williams says the publication has no proof to substantiate its claims.

She says if the publication wanted to serve national interest, it should have reported the claims at the nearest police station.

Williams has urged people to treat news on this matter with caution.

SA government says the Bushiris did not leave with Malawian president:

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