World Newsletter

10 March 2020


Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was sworn in for a second term on Monday as
his rival Abdullah Abdullah held a parallel inauguration that could plunge
the country deeper into crisis ahead of peace talks with the Taliban.
"I swear by the name of God that I shall obey and protect the holy religion
of Islam, respect and supervise the implementation of the constitution", Mr.
Ghani said at an oath-taking ceremony attended by hundreds of people,
including visiting foreign dignitaries, diplomats and senior political
Afghan challenger Abdullah Abdullah inaugurated himself as President,
minutes after the incumbent Mr. Ghani was sworn into office for a second
term, deepening a political crisis that has stoked fears for upcoming peace
talks with a strong Taliban.
Mr. Ghani was declared as the winner of the election held last September,
but Mr. Abdullah, who disputed the vote, held a parallel ceremony surrounded
by hundreds of supporters during which he vowed to "safeguard the
independence, national sovereignty, territorial integrity" of Afghanistan.
Two blasts were heard as Afghanistan's two rival leaders held parallel
presidential inaugurations in Kabul on Monday, underscoring the country's
woeful security ahead of talks with a resurgent Taliban. Hundreds of people
had assembled at two venues inside the presidential palace complex to watch
the swearing-in ceremonies for President Ashraf Ghani and challenger
Abdullah Abdullah, when the blasts were heard, prompting some to flee. "I
have no bulletproof vest on, only my shirt, I will stay even if I have to
sacrifice my head," Ghani told the remaining crowd, as sirens sounded
overhead. The IS claimed the attack. "Caliphate soldiers targeted the
inauguration of the tyrant Ashraf Ghani", firing 10 rockets near the
presidential palace in Kabul, the jihadist group said in a statement
released via its usual social media channels.


The European Union is considering taking in up to 1,500 migrant children who
are currently housed in Greek camps, the German government said Monday.
"A humanitarian solution is being negotiated at the European level for a
'coalition of the willing' to take in these children," said the government
in a statement, adding that Berlin was ready to take in an "appropriate"
EU executive tells Turkey to take migrants back from Greek border Brussels:
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said ahead of talks with
President Tayyip Erdogan that Turkey must move refugees and migrants away
from the Greek border. "Finding a solution to this situation will require
relieving the pressure that is put on the border," von der Leyen told a news
conference on Monday
She said ensuring the right to asylum, support for both Turkey and Greece,
as well as moving people - especially minors - stranded on the Greek islands
to mainland Europe were immediately needed too.


Iran continues to provide international inspectors access to its active
nuclear facilities, even after its announcement it was no longer bound by
"any restrictions" of the landmark 2015 deal with world powers designed to
prevent the country from producing a nuclear weapon, the head of the United
Nation's atomic watchdog agency said on Monday.
Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency,
also told board members in Vienna that since Tehran's Jan. 5 announcement it
appears that Iran hasn't escalated its violations of the nuclear pact, known
as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
"The agency has not observed any changes to Iran's implementation of its
nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA in connection with this
announcement, or in the level of cooperation by Iran in relation to agency
verification and monitoring activities under the JCPOA," Grossi said in
prepared remarks.
Last week, the agency said in a report to member nations that its inspectors
had confirmed that Iran had nearly tripled its stockpile of enriched uranium
since November in violation of the nuclear deal.
In a separate report to members last week, the IAEA said it had identified
three locations in Iran where the country possibly stored undeclared nuclear
material or undertook nuclear-related activities without declaring it to
international observers.


Britain's senior royals will come together on Monday for what is expected to
be the last family gathering before Prince Harry and his wife Meghan set off
eron a new care path.
The Commonwealth Service at London's Westminster Abbey is an annual event
that this year brings together Harry and Meghan with Queen Elizabeth, his
elder brother William and wife Kate, and father Prince Charles and his wife
Camilla, for the first time in public since the couple thrashed out an exit
deal from their royal roles in January.
"It will be fascinating to see how it plays out," said royal biographer
Penny Junor. "I imagine everybody will be on absolutely best behaviour. But
goodness knows what they will all be thinking privately."
The January agreement, which comes into action at the end of the month, will
see the couple - the Duke and Duchess of Sussex - seek to carve out "a
progressive new role", mainly based in North America, that they aim to
finance themselves.
Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, will stop using their HRH titles - His or Her
Royal Highness, will not use "royal" in their branding and Harry, who will
remain a prince, will relinquish his military titles.
Monday's event to mark Commonwealth Day is expected to be their last
official appearance, with no certainty about when the royal family will next
be seen together.
"Our hope was to continue serving the queen, the Commonwealth and my
military associations without public funding. Sadly that wasn't possible,"
the prince, the sixth-in-line to the throne, said in a speech in January.


Sudan's prime minister survived an assassination attempt on Monday after a
blast in the capital, Khartoum, Sudanese state media said.
Abdalla Hamdok's family confined he was safe following the explosion, which
targeted his convoy.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
Hamdok was appointed prime minister last August, after pro-democracy
protests forced the military to remove the autocratic President Omar
al-Bashir and replace it with a civilian-led government.
Military generals remain the de facto rulers of the country and have shown
little willingness to hand over power to the civilian-led administration.
Nearly a year after al-Bashir's ouster, the country faces a dire economic
crisis. Inflation stands at a staggering 60% and the unemployment rate was
22.1% in 2019, according to the International Monetary Fund. The government
has said that 30% of Sudan's young people, who make up more than half of the
over 42 million population, are without jobs.

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