• Aid groups condemn Hungary’s ‘alarming’ migrant crackdown

    16/Sep/2015 // 195 Viewers

    AFP / Elvis Barukcic | Migrants and refugees walk near razor-wire along a 3-metre-high fence at the official border crossing between Serbia and Hungary, near the northern Serbian town of Horgos on September 15, 2015

    Aid groups on Tuesday condemned Hungary’s crackdown on migrants attempting to cross into the country through its border with Serbia, warning that its approach could have a damaging knock-on effect across Europe.

    Hungary effectively sealed its southern border with Serbia – a key land route for migrants and refugees attempting to reach the EU – by sealing a gap in a razor-wire barrier on Tuesday as well as closing two official border checkpoints.

    The country also enacted tough new anti-migrant legislation, including making “illegal border-crossing" a crime punishable by several years in prison.

    Hungary has said the measures are necessary to stem the tide of migrants and refugees arriving in the EU nation in recent months. But a number of aid groups and refugee agencies have been alarmed by the increasingly tough approach the country’s right-wing government is taking to tackling the migrant crisis facing Europe.

    Aurélie Ponthieu, humanitarian adviser for Doctors Without Borders, warned the move to close the border with Serbia could lead to chaos in other countries, particularly at Greece’s border with Macedonia, if other European states follow Hungary’s example in a “domino effect”.

    Macedonian border guards were overwhelmed last month when hundreds of migrants forced their way across from Greece.

    Ponthieu said MSF is calling “urgently for safe and legal channels to be created” so that people can cross Europe without putting their lives at risk.

    The United Nations refugee agency, the UNHCR, meanwhile, said Hungary’s actions could limit the rights of those seeking asylum.

    “We recognise the right of each country to protect its borders with the tools and methods it deems necessary,” UNHCR spokesman Erno Simon said.

    However, he added it was “very important” that no barriers are imposed on people fleeing war and persecution.

    Speaking to Reuters, Simon said Hungary’s new migrant legislation in particular was “really alarming”.

    Hungarian police said they arrested 174 people for breaching the fence on Tuesday, saying they would face criminal prosecution.

    Asylum claims rejected

    Simon said that migrants who had filed for asylum at the border with Serbia had seen their claims rejected in a matter of hours – a “very small period of time" for such complex cases.

    Hungarian authorities said they had processed 16 asylum requests Tuesday, all of which had been rejected.

    Amnesty International has said Hungary is "showing the ugly face of Europe's shambolic response" to the migration crisis, while the International Organization for Migration said the crackdown looks like a contravention of Hungary's obligations under UN and EU rules.

    But despite international criticism, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, one of Europe's most vociferous opponents of immigration, has showed no signs of backing down and the country's Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said Tuesday the country is now also planning to erect a fence along its border with Romania.

    “The measure is necessary as people-smugglers may change their routes because of the existing fence on the Hungary-Serbia border, hence a part of the immigration pressure may get directed towards Romania," he said, according to state news agency MTI

    Romania criticised the announcement, branding it "out of step with the spirit of Europe".

    At least 200,000 migrants have crossed into Hungary so far this year, streaming north through the Balkan peninsula having hit Greek shores by boat or dinghy from Turkey.

    Reuters


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  • Hungary declares state of emergency at Serbia border

    16/Sep/2015 // 224 Viewers

    Hungary on Tuesday declared a state of emergency at its southern border with Serbia and detained migrants trying to enter the country illegally in a bid to shut down the mass influx of refugees.

    A day after two decades of frontier-free travel across Europe unravelled in the face of an unprecedented influx of people seeking refuge from war and poverty, ex-communist Hungary effectively sealed entrance to the EU in scenes carrying echoes of the Cold War.

    Having spent the night out in the open, families with small children sat in fields beneath a new 3.5-metre-high fence running almost the length of the EU’s external border with Serbia, halted by a right-wing government that hailed a “new era”.

    Others pressed against the gates, confused and demanding passage. More still sat on the main highway from Serbia to Hungary.

    “I will sit here until they open the border. I cannot go back to Syria. Life in Syria is finished,” said a Kurd from Syria who gave his name as Bower.

    Serbia’s foreign minister expressed outrage at a state of emergency declared in Hungary’s two southern border counties, saying it was “unacceptable” that migrants were being sent back from Hungary while more and more were arriving in Serbia from Macedonia and Greece.

    “[Serbia] wants to be part of the solution, not collateral damage. There will have to be talks in the coming days with Brussels and other countries,” Ivica Dacic said in Prague.

    The government said it was aiming to deal with asylum requests within a matter of hours, exercising the right to reject them almost immediately on the grounds that Hungary -- as of July -- considers Serbia a "safe" country for refugees.

    Hungarian police said they had arrested 174 people for trying to make their way through the razor-wire fence on Tuesday. Under harsh new laws, which came into force Monday night to punish “illegal border-crossing”, those arrested face prison terms of several years.

    Long queues in no-man's land

    Long queues formed in a no-man’s land at metal containers built into the fence, where migrants were expected to register, stranded in what the government has dubbed a "transit zone" and denied official entrance into Hungary.

    “Once their data is entered into the computer system, the decision can be issued very fast, saying, ‘You came through Serbia, Hungary considers Serbia safe, so your asylum claim is inadmissible,’” said Marta Pardavi of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee rights body.

    “[Language] Interpretation will be over the phone,” she said. “Those who apply for legal remedy will have to wait in this transit zone, or no-man’s land.”

    The United Nations refugee agency, the UNHCR, expressed alarm at Hungary’s new border rules and the fast processing of asylum requests.

    “There are many details of the new law, the new legislation, which are really alarming,” Erno Simon, a spokesman for UNHCR in Hungary, told Reuters.

    Recriminations

    The influx of hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees from the Middle East, Africa and Asia has triggered discord and recrimination in Europe.

    EU interior ministers on Monday failed to break a deadlock over sharing responsibility for some of those seeking asylum. On Tuesday, Luxembourg, which currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency, said a new meeting will be held on September 22 following calls for an urgent summit from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

    “Time is running out,” she warned Tuesday, as she defended Berlin's shock decision over the weekend to reinstate border controls on security grounds.

    Berlin's move has had a domino effect, with Austria, Slovakia and Hungary also reimposing identity checks.

    At least 200,000 migrants have crossed Hungary so far this year, streaming north through the Balkan peninsula having hit Greek shores by boat or dinghy from Turkey.

    More than 9,000 entered on Monday, a record day for the year, and the flow continued unabated over Greece’s northern border into Macedonia on Tuesday, threatening to create a dangerous bottleneck in the impoverished and volatile Balkans.

    Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, one of Europe’s most vociferous opponents of immigration, has vowed to stop the flow.

    The prospect of a long wait at the Hungarian border, possible imprisonment or expulsion back to Serbia may force many to seek alternative routes.

    They could go west into Serbia’s fellow former Yugoslav republic Croatia, or east into Romania, both members of the EU but not of Europe’s Schengen zone of border-free travel.

    “Maybe we’ll try Croatia, then Slovenia and from there to Vienna and Germany,” said Emad, a refugee from the Syrian capital Damascus as he entered Macedonia from Greece. “I don’t know if it’s a good plan, but we have to try.”

    Others may bide their time at the fence, where the razor-wire and soldiers resembled the borders of Eastern Europe during the Communist era.

    “I don’t know what I will do,” said 40-year-old Riad from Aleppo, once Syria’s commercial hub but reduced in many parts to rubble since war broke out in 2011. “I will wait to see. We have lost everything to reach this point.”

    Bottleneck

    Serbia, an impoverished ex-Yugoslav republic still years away from joining the EU, says it is readying more temporary accommodation, but warned it would not accept anyone turned back from Hungarian territory.

    “That’s no longer our responsibility,” Aleksandar Vulin, the minister in charge of policy on migrants, told the Tanjug state news agency. “They are on Hungarian territory and I expect the Hungarian state to behave accordingly towards them.”

    The UNHCR reiterated on Tuesday that it advised against sending refugees back to Serbia. “Safe third-country” status implies refugees have a fair chance of being granted asylum and would receive the necessary protections and support.

    Rights groups say Serbia meets none of those criteria and is still finding homes for thousands of its own refugees from the collapse of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, the last time Europe confronted the displacement of people on such a scale.

    “We’re on the street now,” said Mouz, a 22-year-old Syrian, who slept on the border. Asked if he might consider another route, he replied: “I don’t know. I’m from Syria. I cannot go back.”

    Reuters


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  • Austria Deploys Army To Impose Border Controls

    16/Sep/2015 // 141 Viewers

    Austria announced on Monday it would dispatch the armed forces to guard its eastern frontier, following Germany’s lead in reimposing Europe’s internal border controls after thousands of migrants streamed across its frontier from Hungary on foot.

    Austrian officials said they were left with no choice after Germany’s decision on Sunday, which effectively suspends Europe’s two-decade old Schengen regime allowing border-free travel across the continent.

    “If Germany carries out border controls, Austria must put strengthened border controls in place,” Vice Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner told a joint news conference with Chancellor Werner Faymann. “We are doing that now.”

    He and Faymann said the army would be deployed in a supporting role.

    “The focus of the support is on humanitarian help,” Faymann said. “But it is also, and I would like to emphasise this, on supporting border controls where it is necessary.”

    Before the announcement, migrants were walking across the border from Hungary at the fastest rate yet. Police said they were running out of emergency accommodation, including tented camps near the border and the car parks of railway stations.

    An Austrian police spokesman said that by mid-morning, 6,000 to 7,000 people had arrived since midnight, after 14,000 on Sunday.

    The European Union has been struggling to cope with the unprecedented arrival of hundreds of thousands of migrants, many refugees fleeing war in the Middle East. Nearly all arrive at the bloc’s southern and eastern edges and head over land to seek asylum in richer states further north and west.

    The Schengen system, established in 1995, removes all border checks between 26 European states, but the rules still bar undocumented migrants from travelling. Countries are permitted to reimpose border checks temporarily in emergencies.

    Illegal travel across internal Schengen borders by migrants has become a major issue in recent weeks, especially after Berlin suspended normal EU asylum policy to announce it would take Syrian refugees who arrive elsewhere in the European Union.

    Austria has served as the main conduit for refugees heading to Germany from the EU’s land border in Hungary. It suspended its rail link to Hungary last week because of what the national rail company called a “massive overburdening” of its network.

    Germany and Austria acted in unison more than a week ago to lift restrictions on the entrance of migrants from Hungary. But Berlin’s decision on Sunday to reverse course appeared to catch the Austrian government by surprise. At a hastily convened news conference on Sunday night, Faymann and Mitterlehner had given no clear indication as to whether Austria would reintroduce checks.

    “The accommodation centres in Nickelsdorf, Parndorf, and in the near surroundings are all full,” the police spokesman said, referring to the area near the border crossing where almost all migrants have arrived from Hungary recently.

    “At the moment, no buses are running,” he said. “The only buses that are running are taking people to the station until a special train leaves, but otherwise we have no accommodation at the moment.”

    A train service was running to Vienna, and buses had taken people to other parts of the country overnight, the police spokesman said, adding that the number of people entering south of the main crossing point was growing.

    At Heiligenkreuz, where until recently only dozens of migrants had crossed each day, arrivals had reached 1,000 to 2,000 on Sunday, in addition to those counted at the main crossing, he said. More were expected on Monday.

    (REUTERS)


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  • Hungary PM plans new migrant wall along Croatia border

    16/Sep/2015 // 209 Viewers

    PARIS (AFP) - 
    Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban hopes to build a new wall along his country's border with Croatia to keep migrants out, he told French newspaper Le Figaro in an interview to be published Thursday.

    After Hungary fenced off its border with Serbia in a bid to shut off a massive influx of refugees and migrants, Orban said people smugglers would simply change their routes and find new ways into the European Union.

    "Since they can no longer pass through Hungary, they will change route and go through Romania, probably," Orban told Le Figaro.

    "That's why we also decided to build a fence at the Romanian border, along the Mures River. And we will probably build another along the Croatian border. We are following their trail," he said.

    "The fact is the migrants keep coming. We managed to stop them at the Hungarian border, but this did not stop the influx itself."

    The Hungarian leader reiterated his staunch opposition to any bid to make EU members accept set quotas of refugees, vowing to do "everything I can to oppose it".

    Riot police in Hungary -- which has received over 200,000 migrants this year, almost all of them heading to other EU countries -- fired tear gas and sprayed water cannon on Wednesday at huge crowds of migrants desperate to cross the border from Serbia.

    Also on Wednesday, the Romanian foreign ministry said it had summoned the Hungarian ambassador to express concern over Budapest's unilateral decision to erect a fence on their shared frontier.

    ? 2015 AFP


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  • Thousands protest in London against Cameron, austerity

    17/Apr/2016 // 517 Viewers

     

    AFP - Tens of thousands of people marched through London on Saturday in protest against government spending cuts, with some activists demanding Prime Minister David Cameron's resignation over his family's offshore finances.

     
    Demonstrators converged on Trafalgar Square calling for more investment in the health service, housing, education and public sector pay, while some held up banners saying "Ditch Dodgy Dave" and "Cameron Must Go -- Tories Out!"
     
    The protest, which also included demands to protect Britain's troubled steel industry, was planned long before Cameron's admission last week that he once held shares in his late father's offshore investment fund.
     
    But The People's Assembly, which helped organise the trade union-backed march, said the revelations sparked by the so-called Panama Papers "prove that this is a government for the privileged few".
     
    Cameron took the unprecedented step of releasing a summary of his tax returns for the past six years, but a new poll published late Saturday found 52 percent of voters believe he has not been "honest and open" about his finances.
     
    A further 44 percent said his handling of his financial affairs was "morally repugnant", according to the ComRes survey for the Independent and the Sunday Mirror newspaper.
     
    "For somebody in that position, you have a duty of care to the people of the country to be very open, very transparent," demonstrator Sarah Henney told AFP.
     
    "Just because something is legal doesn't always make it right."
     
    Opposition Labour finance spokesman John McDonnell was among a number of political figures who addressed the protesters, and he called for an end to the spending cuts introduced after the global financial crisis.
     
    He later told the Press Association news agency: "I think Cameron should go, but I think he should take his party with him.
     
    "His government is now bankrupt in terms of political ideas, and bankrupt in terms of what they have done with the economy as well."
     
    Cameron, who was re-elected last year with a parliamentary majority, said he sold his shares in his late father's offshore investment fund before taking office, and denied the fund had been established to avoid tax.
     
    But the row put the premier under pressure at a difficult time, as he seeks to manage an increasingly bitter fight within his Conservative party over the upcoming referendum on EU membership.
     
    Some 128 of the 330 Conservative lawmakers in parliament and several of Cameron's own ministers are campaigning against him in favour of leaving the European Union ahead of the June 23 vote.
     
    Veteran Tory MP Ken Clarke warned Saturday that if Cameron loses the referendum, he will be forced out of office.


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  • Russia intercepts US Air Force jet over Baltic

    17/Apr/2016 // 388 Viewers

     

    AFP - A US Air Force reconnaissance plane was intercepted by a Russian SU-27 jet in an "unsafe and unprofessional" manner while in international airspace over the Baltic Sea, the Pentagon said Saturday.

    "The US aircraft was operating in international airspace and at no time crossed into Russian territory," Laura Seal, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said of Thursday's incident.

    It came shortly after Russian aircraft repeatedly buzzed the USS Donald Cook this past week, including an incident Tuesday in which a Russian Su-24 flew 30 feet (nine meters) above the warship in a "simulated attack profile," according to the US military's European Command.

    Russia has denied the actions were reckless or provocative but they have been seen as exacerbating tensions between the rival powers.

    "This unsafe and unprofessional air intercept has the potential to cause serious harm and injury to all aircrews involved," Seal said of the latest incident in a statement.

    "More importantly, the unsafe and unprofessional actions of a single pilot have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries."

    The US aircraft in question was an RC-135 and the Pentagon said it had been flying a routine route.

    "There have been repeated incidents over the last year where Russian military aircraft have come close enough to other air and sea traffic to raise serious safety concerns, and we are very concerned with any such behavior," the Pentagon said.

    On Thursday, US Secretary of State John Kerry had strong words about the recent warship flyby.

    "We condemn this kind of behavior. It is reckless. It is provocative. It is dangerous. And under the rules of engagement that could have been a shoot-down," Kerry told CNN Español in Miami.

    Kerry added: "People need to understand that this is serious business and the United States is not going to be intimidated on the high seas."

    "We are communicating to the Russians how dangerous this is and our hope is that this will never be repeated," he said.

    The Russian maneuvers began Monday while the destroyer was located about 70 nautical miles from the Russian base in Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave on the Baltic Sea.

    One US defense official called the actions of the Russian planes "more aggressive than anything we've seen in some time."

    The destroyer's commanding officer Charles Hampton told journalists in Lithuania that "very low, very fast" flybys were "inconsistent with the professional norms of militaries in international waters or international airspace."

    But Russia countered the criticism, insisting it had observed all safety regulations.

    The US military's European Command (EUCOM) released video showing warplanes zooming so close past the Cook that one sailor can be heard saying: "He is below the bridge wing," meaning the plane was flying lower than the highest point of the ship.

    Ties between Russia and the West have plunged to their lowest point since the Cold War over Moscow's 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Kiev and its support for separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.


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  • French court orders IMF chief Lagarde to face trial over 'Tapie affair'

    17/Dec/2015 // 222 Viewers

              photo of Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF

     

    A French court has ordered International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde to face trial over her role in the payment of some €400 million ($434 million) to French tycoon Bernard Tapie, legal sources said Thursday.

    A statement from Lagarde said that she plans to fight the trial order.

    France’s main prosecutor recommended in September that magistrates drop their investigation into Lagarde.

    The case revolves around a controversial €400 million state payout ordered by an arbitration panel in 2008 for Bernard Tapie, a former politician and businessman, over his sale of sportswear company Adidas. The arbitration panel upheld Tapie's claim that the Crédit Lyonnais bank had defrauded him by intentionally undervaluing Adidas at the time of the sale and that the state – as the bank's principal shareholder – should compensate him.

    It was Lagarde who, in her role as French finance minister at the time, ordered the case to be heard by an arbitration panel instead of proceeding through the regular courts.

    Preferential treatment?

    Critics argue that the state should not have paid compensation to a convicted criminal who was bankrupt at the time and would not have been able to pursue the case in court. Tapie spent six months in prison in 1997 for match-fixing during his time as president of popular French football club, Olympique Marseille.

    Critics also say that Lagarde ensured Tapie received preferential treatment by referring the matter to arbitration due to his financial support for former French president Nicolas Sarkozy – Lagarde’s boss at the time – in his 2007 presidential bid.

    Lagarde has always protested her innocence, denying any wrong doing in the arbitration process, which she says was independent and in the best interests of taxpayers.

    Tapie was placed under formal investigation for committing fraud in late June of 2013. He was ordered to pay back the money starting this month.

    Long-running scandal

    The 'Tapie affair' has entangled several other high-profile figures, including Sarkozy’s ex-chief of staff Claude Guéant, and Stéphane Richard, Lagarde’s former chief of staff at the finance ministry and now chief executive of Orange.

    Lagarde was appointed Managing Director of the IMF in July 2011. Lagarde served as French finance minister from June 2007, and also served as minister for foreign trade for two years. Before entering politics, Lagarde worked as an anti-trust and labour lawyer, serving as a partner with the international law firm of Baker & McKenzie.

    Lagarde’s predecessor at the IMF, French socialist politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was forced to resign in 2011 following accusations he sexually assaulted a hotel maid in New York.

     

     

    SOURCE: FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS


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  • Greece intercepts speedboat taking migrants to Italy as crackdown on dangerous sea-crossing continues

    17/Dec/2016 // 2665 Viewers

     

    BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on Europe's response to the large numbers of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers who have made their way to the continent (all times local):

    Greek authorities say they have stopped a speedboat off the country's western coast carrying 33 migrants to Italy and arrested a suspected smuggler. Another 19 migrants and three smugglers were stopped in other parts of the country.

    A coast guard statement says the arrests at sea were made late Wednesday following a chase off the western islet of Antipaxos. The detainees' nationalities were not made public.

    Also Thursday, police in northern Greece said they arrested three Bulgarians allegedly carrying 12 Pakistani and Afghan nationals in a small van and a car. The migrants had been picked up near Greece's northeastern border with Turkey.

    Further south, police detained six Pakistanis and an Afghan who were dumped by a highway when smugglers driving them to Athens saw a roadblock ahead.

    The European Union has earmarked hundreds of millions of euros for the northern African nation of Niger as part of its efforts to stop migrants from reaching Europe.

    Niger is a main transit route for people moving from Western Africa to Libya, where many board unseaworthy boats to cross the Mediterranean to Italy in search of better lives.

    The EU's executive Commission announced Thursday that it would provide Niger with 610 million euros ($640 million) in development aid, and a further 140 million euros ($147 million) for nine projects under the bloc's fund for Africa.

    The EU is developing other deals to manage migration with Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal.

    Debate has swirled about setting up similar arrangements with Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Egypt and Pakistan but the deals are extremely expensive.


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  • Turkey Coup: More heads to row, over 6000 detained over failed coup

    17/Jul/2016 // 557 Viewers

     


    AFP - Turkish authorities on Sunday pressed on with a ruthless crackdown against suspects in the failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with 6,000 people including generals detained in action that has sparked international concern.

    World leaders including US President Barack Obama have strongly condemned the attempted putsch but also urged Turkey to respect the rule of law in its aftermath, especially after pictures emerged showing the rough treatment of some coup plotters when arrested.

    Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said on Sunday that around 6,000 people had been detained and the number would rise.

    “The clean-up operations are continuing,” he was quoted as saying by the state-run Anadolu news agency.


     
    According to the government, 161 civilians and regular troops lost their lives when a group within the army sought to overthrow the authorities by seizing key strategic points in Istanbul and Ankara late Friday.

    Over 100 coup plotters were also killed, the military has said.

    The botched coup bid was the biggest challenge to Erdogan’s rule in his 13 years as prime minister and now president. But he successfully mobilised supporters into the streets to face down the plotters.

    Thousands responded late on Saturday to a new call by the president to pour into the squares to celebrate the “victory of democracy” with mass rallies of flag-waving Turks reported in cities including Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir.

    Europe Minister Omer Celik urged people to stay on the streets, writing on Twitter that the “vigil for democracy” continues.

    ‘Respect rule of law’

    The Turkish authorities have made clear they will show no mercy in the wake of the coup, accusing the plotters of acting on behalf of Erdogan’s arch enemy, the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen.

    Turkish television has shown images of captured suspects forced to lie face down on the tarmac after their arrest while AFP photographers have seen suspects roughly led away pursued by angry mobs.

    NTV television said 34 generals of various grades had been detained so far. They include senior figures like Erdal Ozturk, commander of the third army and the commander of the Malatya-based second army, Adem Huduti.

    In an operation early Sunday, authorities detained the commander of the garrison in the western town of Denizli, Ozhan Ozbakir, along with 51 other soldiers.

    Turkey also detained a senior air force general and other officers accused of backing the failed coup at a key air base used by US forces for raids in Syria.

    Brigadier air force general Bekir Ercan Van was detained along with over a dozen lower ranking officers on Saturday at the Incirlik air force base in southern Turkey.

    Former chief of staff Ilker Basbug told Dogan news agency that Turkey should make a distinction between the coup planners and young soldiers “of 20 years old who may have been mistaken”.

    The crackdown is however not restricted to the military and Anadolu said prosecutors have issued arrest warrants for a total of 2,745 judges and prosecutors across Turkey.

    The entire investigation is being led by Ankara prosecutors and those arrested are suspected of belonging to Gulen’s group, which Turkey dubs the “Fethullahci Terror Organisation”.

    Gulen’s supporters say their group which they call Hizmet (Service) is entirely peaceful.

    Obama has warned Turkey there is a “vital need” for all parties to “act within the rule of law” in the aftermath of the coup.

    French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault warned Erdogan against using the failed putsch as a “blank cheque” to silence his opponents.

    However there was no such concern from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who called Erdogan to wish for a “speedy restoration of strong constitutional order”.

    Erdogan and Putin, who were feuding over the shooting down of a Russian jet until last month, will meet in the first week of August, Anadolu said.

    ‘Extradite Gulen’

    Friday’s putsch bid began with rebel F-16 jets screaming low over rooftops in Ankara, soldiers and tanks taking to the streets. Rebel troops also moved to block the two bridges across the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul.

    Turks have not seen such scenes since 1980 when the military led by general Kenan Evren ousted the government and many had no desire to revive these memories.

    Erdogan has pinned the blame on Gulen, an erstwhile ally he accuses of running a “parallel state”, and called on Obama to extradite the reclusive preacher to face justice.

    “Mr President, I told you myself, either deport or hand over to us this person who lives in 400 acres of land in Pennsylvania,” he told a triumphant rally in Istanbul late Saturday, carefully not referring to Gulen by name.

    In an interview with Haberturk television, Labour Minister Suleyman Soylu went even further, saying, “The United States is behind the coup” and adding it had now to handover Gulen.

    But Gulen has categorically denied any involvement in the plot and suggested it could have been staged by Erdogan himself.

    Meanwhile, Turkey has demanded the extradition of eight people thought to have been involved in the putsch who landed in a Black Hawk military helicopter in Greece.

    The suspects are still in Greece, but the chopper itself is now been flown back to Turkey, a Turkish official said.

    Istanbul authorities have sought to get life back to normal but Washington on Saturday warned citizens against travel to the country due to uncertainty after the coup bid.


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  • Appointments: Buhari does not care more about northerners than southerners - Sani

    17/Jul/2016 // 791 Viewers

     

    PARIS, JULY,17, 2016: (DGW) FORMER National Publicity Secretary of Arewa Consultative Forum and the spokesperson for the northern delegates to the 2014 National Conference Anthony Sani has risen to Buhari's defence over the recent  religion-inspired killings in the country adding that Buhari does not care more about northerners than southerners.

    He said this while reacting to allegations by the Christian Association of Nigeria that Buhari should be blamed for the unprovoked killing of Christians in the northern part of Nigeria the very recent one being the cold-blooded murder of Christian women preacher in Abuja suburbs.

    He said, “The blame is misplaced. My advice to CAN is not to help promote cleavages of the nation along religious lines.

    “Please read the import of what President Obama said about the recent killings in Orlando, Charleston Church and that of Dallas, as well as the condemnation of Trump by Americans for being divisive.

    “I noticed northern CAN was the one which complained, but does it make sense to posit that Mr. President would make appointments without consulting the Secretary to the Government of Federation and the Speaker of the House of Representatives who are northern Christians and seminal members of the government?”

    Sani however, noted that he was not bothered about how appointments were made, adding that it didn’t really matter to him which region one was appointed from in as much the person performed credibly.

    “But my response still stands. I have not bothered to analyse the appointments by religion because of my attitude that it does not matter the colour of the cat provided it can catch the rats.

    “But I read the submission by one Senator Adeyeye who said there are 18 Christian ministers and 18 Muslim ministers.

    “He also said while it is true that the appointments for security heads favour the North, since only the Chief of Defence Staff and Chief of Naval Staff are from the South, in the case of portfolios for development it favours the South; considering only agriculture and education ministers are northerners.

    “He also said there were more Christian senators.

    “In any case, when the time for accountability comes, Nigerians would rate the regime on issues of real concern to ordinary Nigerians and not how the regime was able to balance appointments by religion, by ethnicity, by region, by gender and by age.”

     


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