PARIS, August 14, 2018 (AFP) - European countries faced pressure on Tuesday to resolve a fresh standoff with the operators of the migrant rescue ship Aquarius which is stranded for the second time in the Mediterranean carrying 141 people.
France said it was in touch with other EU nations to "rapidly" find a port where the Aquarius could dock after it was refused entry by Italy and Malta, the two countries closest to its current location.
The Aquarius, which was left stranded with 630 migrants on board in June after being turned away by Rome and Valletta, resumed rescue operations off the Libyan coast last week.
In a statement late on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron's office voiced disapproval of Italy's "very tough political stance" -- milder language than two months ago when he accused the populist government of "cynicism and irresponsibility".
The 141 migrants on board the Aquarius were picked up on Friday in two separate operations and are in a stable condition, the French charity that operates the Aquarius, SOS Mediterranee, said.
In the first rescue, 25 people were plucked from a wooden boat bobbing on the seas off the Libyan coast, while another 116 were rescued from another larger vessel later in the day.
The second boat was overloaded and more than half of the passengers were unaccompanied children, mostly from Somalia and Eritrea. They had no food or water supplies at the time of their rescue, SOS Mediterranee said.
"We're asking all European countries to find a solution. We're asking them to be responsible and find a safe port in the Mediterranean," Sophie Beau, head of charity, told AFP on Monday.
NAIROBI, August 14, 2018 (News Wires) - An Ethiopian court has freed 11 police officers on bail after they were detained on suspicion of negligence in a grenade attack on a rally in June attended by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, state-affiliated media said on Tuesday.
The attack in the capital Addis Ababa on June 23 injured more than 150 and raised fears that a group or individual may want to use violence against Abiy, who has presided over a series of reforms and a rapprochement with Eritrea since taking power in April.
Among those freed on bail is the former deputy commissioner of Addis Ababa police commission Girma Kassa, Fana Broadcasting Corporation said. None of the police have been charged.
Earlier this month, Ethiopian federal prosecutors said they had charged five suspects with involvement in the incident, including a man released from prison under a government amnesty, but did not elaborate on the motive for the attack.
BRUSSELS, August 7, 2018 (News Wires) - The European Union and United States on Tuesday condemned violent attacks targeting the Zimbabwe opposition since elections last week, as 27 supporters of the MDC party were released on bail.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, declared winner of the country's first ballot since the downfall of Robert Mugabe, again vowed to protect rights, but the government has been accused of overseeing a brutal post-vote crackdown.
Last week's poll, which was marred by soldiers opening fire at a protest killing six people, was meant to re-launch Zimbabwe on the international stage and attract foreign aid and investment after the repression of the Mugabe era.
Mnangagwa won the presidential vote by a narrow margin, and the opposition Movement for Democratic (MDC) has accused him of rigging the result.
"The eruption of violence... stand(s) in sharp contrast to the high hopes and expectations for a peaceful, inclusive, transparent and credible election," said a joint statement from the EU, US, Canada and Switzerland.
It called for the government "to ensure that the Zimbabwean Defence Forces act with restraint, in full respect of international human rights norms".
The MDC has accused security forces of abducting and beating opposition activists and their families since the election result was declared early Friday.
"I've just finished going thru the evidence... We WON this election emphatically," MDC leader Chamisa tweeted, alleging election authorities used falsified figures to ensure Mnangagwa retained power.
Mnangagwa, who says any fraud allegations should be raised through the courts, said on Twitter that "transparency and accountability remain paramount. And despite the naysayers, in this new Zimbabwe, freedom will reign."
LONDON, August 5, 2018 (News Wires) - Britain is now likely leave the European Union without a deal due to the "intransigence" of the European Union, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox told the Sunday Times.
The pro-Brexit minister said that the chances of a no-deal Brexit were now "60-40", laying the blame on EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier.
"I think the intransigence of the commission is pushing us towards no deal," he said in an interview with the Sunday Times.
"If the EU decides that the theological obsession of the unelected is to take priority over the economic wellbeing of the people of Europe then it's a bureaucrats' Brexit -- not a people's Brexit -- then there is only going to be one outcome."
He said that Barnier had rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's latest plan, agreed by her cabinet, on the grounds that "we have never done it before".
It was therefore up to the EU to "show us one that they can suggest that would be acceptable to us," said Fox.
"It's up to the EU27 to determine whether they want the EU Commission's ideological purity to be maintained at the expense of their real economies."
May met with French President Emmanuel Macron on the Mediterranean coast on Friday to lobby for her Brexit plan, which has divided her government and so far failed to win over EU negotiators.
The prime minister has just a few months before an agreement on Britain's divorce from the European Union -- set for March 29, 2019 -- must be forged in principle ahead of a EU summit in mid-October.
SINGAPORE, August 3, 2018 (News Wires) - Southeast Asia and Europe stressed the importance of pushing back against protectionism and the threat of global trade wars Friday, as their ministers work towards the eventual goal of a region-to-region free trade pact.
The US is embroiled in trade spats with China and close allies including the European Union, imposing tit-for-tat tariffs on billions of dollars worth of goods and heightening fears of economic pain that could spread worldwide.
At a meeting in Singapore, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini assured her Southeast Asian counterparts that they could count on Europe as a free trade partner.
"We stand on the side of a free and fair trade that benefits all, instead of damaging trade wars," she told reporters at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) forum.
Mogherini voiced hope that bilateral trade accords the EU is negotiating with several ASEAN states "will be the stepping stone towards a future region-to-region deal".
Washington escalated the trade row this week by saying it was considering more than doubling threatened tariffs on a range of Chinese imports worth $200 billion.
The US has already imposed 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese goods, with another $16 billion to be targeted in coming weeks.
"There's been unanimity of concern over looming trade wars because as we know in a war there's no winners," Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano told reporters on Friday.
"And worse, sometimes you're not in the war but you're gravely affected. And when we talk about trade war, we're talking about actual jobs of real people."
ASEAN, a 10-nation region of 650 million people with some of the world's fastest growing emerging economies, has been keenly forging free-trade pacts among its members and regional trading partners.
LONDON, August 3, 2018 (News Wires) - The value of the pound has plunged after Bank of England governor Mark Carney said the risk of Britain leaving the European Union without a deal is "uncomfortably high."
Divorce talks between Britain and the EU have stalled amid feuding within Prime Minister Theresa May's government about how close an economic relationship to seek with the bloc after Brexit. Officials say there is a growing chance no deal will be struck before the UK leaves in March.
Carney said Friday that "the possibility of a 'no deal' is uncomfortably high at this point." He told the BBC that a no-deal Brexit would mean disrupted trade and higher prices and was "highly undesirable."
The pound fell about 0.2 per cent to below $1.30 just after the comments.