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Senegal’s Diouf signs new three-year deal at Stoke

Senegalese international and Stoke City forward Mame Diouf has signed a new three-year contract and is looking forward to helping the Premier League club push for a top-10 finish and a trophy.

Senegal’s Diouf, who joined Stoke from Germany’s Hannover three years ago, has made 90 league appearances for the Staffordshire-based club scoring 17 league goals.

Diouf helped Stoke finish ninth in the league standings in his first two seasons at the club until that run was broken last term when they finished 13th.

“Another top 10 finish this season is the immediate ambition but we should be targeting the next step, an even higher finish, and success in one of the cup competitions,” Diouf told the club’s website (www.stokecityfc.com) on Thursday.

“There’s no reason why we can’t win a cup; it’s a long time since Stoke City won a trophy and I’d love to be part of the team that did so again.”

Stoke have five points from four matches in the Premier League this season and visit 10th-placed Newcastle United, who have six points, on Saturday.

Kenya cuts 2017 growth forecast due to drought and political uncertainty

Kenya lowered its 2017 economic growth forecast to 5.5 percent due to drought and political uncertainty, a top official said on Friday, as the government cut non-essential spending to free up funds for a repeat presidential election.

The drought earlier this year hurt agriculture, which accounts for 30 percent of output, said Kamau Thugge, the principal secretary in the ministry finance.

He said some investors are also delaying decisions after the Supreme Court nullified the results of an Aug. 8 presidential election citing irregularities in the tallying process.

A repeat poll pitting President Uhuru Kenyatta against opposition leader Raila Odinga is scheduled for Oct. 17. Odinga says he will not participate unless demands are met, including the resignation of some staff from the electoral board.

Kenya has the highest per capita income in the region and is known for its capitalist tradition, stability and role as a Western ally. It hosts the regional headquarters of several global firms.

The government had initially projected a 5.9 percent growth for this year but the economy expanded 4.7 percent in the first quarter, mainly due to poor agricultural performance.

Thugge said growth would rise to 6.5 percent per year in the medium term.

“This is contingent on having good weather,” he told a meeting convened to discuss budget preparations.

The government’s revenue collection for the fiscal year starting July was behind target by 29 billion shillings ($282 million), he said. The revenue target is 1,549.4 billion shillings for the fiscal year.

“There is a shortfall in customs. There may be people waiting before they import things,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of the meeting.

Adding to the squeeze, the electoral board has requested 12 billion shillings for the presidential re-run.

“That is only the direct cost. There is the need to provide for security and so those costs could be much higher than the 12 billion. This was not budgeted for,” Thugge said, adding they will cut non-essential expenditure to fund the poll.

Government officials will no longer be allowed to travel outside the country without clearance from the president and domestic travel will also be reviewed, he said.

EU: Spot checks show no evidence of rigging in Kenyan election

Observers found some technical problems but no evidence of vote-rigging in Kenya’s presidential election last month, the European Union said on Thursday, based on random checks of tallies from polling stations.

The finding was announced as Kenya gears up for a re-run of the contest between President Uhuru Kenyatta and challenger Raila Odinga on Oct. 17, after the Supreme Court nullified Kenyatta’s victory citing irregularities in the tallying process.

Credible elections would boost Kenya’s role as East Africa’s richest economy and a stable Western ally in a region roiled by conflict. But problems with the vote could spark unrest: 1,200 people died in violence after a disputed 2007 election.

Bolstering the Supreme Court’s findings of technical irregularities, the EU said in a statement it had examined 1,558 randomly selected scanned polling station results forms from 82 constituencies. A small percentage were unreadable, others had mathematical mistakes, and others were missing data or signatures.

The country had nearly 41,000 polling stations and 290 constituencies.

BOYCOTT THREAT

Odinga alleged that the original vote was marred by fraud and is threatening to boycott the re-run unless some demands are met, including the resignation of key election board officials.

But the EU said it did not find anything indicating deliberate manipulation of the vote in the forms it examined. “There was little variation in the patterns of anomalies … and no obvious advantage to one camp or another.”

However, the observers noted that more than a quarter of polling stations were severely late in posting their manually completed tallying sheets online. In some cases they only did so after the legal deadline for the opposition to mount court challenges to the results had passed, they noted.

The EU urged the election commission to use standardised forms with security features like serial numbers to reduce the opportunities for confusion in the upcoming polls.

It said the electoral board must do a better job of publicly explaining the processes it would follow in tallying the vote.

In a separate development on Thursday, ruling party lawmaker Ngunjiri Wambugu filed a court petition seeking to have Chief Justice David Maraga removed for gross misconduct in connection with the annulment of the election.

“Chief Justice Maraga needs to be censured, I believe he has participated in gross misconduct, which is unprofessional. I believe that gross misconduct is trying to influence a presidential election,” Wambugu told reporters.

KPMG’s South Africa bosses purged over Gupta scandal

Global auditor KPMG cleared out its South African leadership en masse on Friday after damning findings from an internal investigation into work done for businessmen friends of President Jacob Zuma.

KPMG’s investigation into its work for the Guptas, accused by a public watchdog of improperly influencing government contracts, identified no evidence of crimes or corruption, but found that work done for Gupta family firms “fell considerably short of KPMG’s standards”, the auditor said in a statement.

In particular, it acknowledged “flaws” in a report that it compiled for South Africa’s tax service, which implied that former finance minister Pravin Gordhan had helped set up a “rogue spy unit” when he was head of the service.

Gordhan, subsequently sacked as finance minister by Zuma, said the report had damaged South Africa’s young democracy, and that he was considering legal steps.

KPMG became the third global firm to be damaged by work carried out for the Indian-born brothers after the business consultancy McKinsey and the public relations agency Bell Pottinger, whose British business collapsed this week.

Both Zuma and the Guptas deny wrongdoing and say they are victims of a politically motivated witch-hunt. The Guptas and their companies have not been charged with any crime, but the scandal is one of many that have dogged the Zuma presidency.

“FAILINGS”

“I want to apologise to the public, our people and clients for the failings that have been identified by the investigation,” said KPMG’s new South African CEO, Nhlamu Dlomu.

KPMG said it would donate 40 million rand ($3 million) earned in fees from Gupta-controlled firms to education and anti-corruption groups, and refund 23 million rand it had received for the tax service report.

The chief executive of KPMG South Africa, Trevor Hoole, its chairman, Ahmed Jaffer, chief operating officer Steven Louw and five senior partners all resigned.

“I absolutely understand that ultimate responsibility lies with me,” Hoole said in a statement.

KPMG also plans to dismiss Jacques Wessels, the lead partner on audits of Gupta-linked firms, it said. Wessels did not answer a call to his mobile phone seeking comment.

Andrew Cranston, former CEO of KPMG Russia, has been appointed as interim chief operating officer.

The announcement stunned hundreds of KPMG staff crammed into an auditorium in its Johannesburg head offices and others listening in via video link from Cape Town and Pretoria.

“Everybody is just dumbfounded,” said one employee, who asked not to be named. “They’re obviously trying to show that responsibility stretches to the top. But right now I don’t think anybody knows what to think.”

Gordhan, one of the Guptas’ harshest critics, lamented the damage done to the credibility of the tax service, an institution that has been vital to South Africa’s stability and economic growth in the two decades since apartheid.

“Whilst there have been personal consequences, the real issue that confronts us is the significant damage to our hard-won democracy, to our state institutions and ultimately to the South African people,” he said in a statement.

CALL FOR INVESTIGATION

Mmusi Maimane, leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance, called for a criminal probe into “state capture”, a term used to refer to the Guptas’ alleged undue influence over government decision-making.

“KPMG must be subject to a full investigation both locally and internationally,” he told Reuters.

The firm is under investigation by the IRBA, a South African regulatory body, and could be removed from the auditors’ register, an outcome that would have a devastating impact on its African business.

The three Gupta brothers, Atul, Ajay and Rajesh, came to South Africa in the early 1990s and built a commercial empire stretching from computers to mining and media.

The family has employed Zuma’s son Duduzane as a director of one of its subsidiaries. The brothers have rejected the public watchdog’s accusations of corruptly influencing Zuma.

On Tuesday, the British arm of Bell Pottinger folded after clients deserted it because of a backlash over a racially charged political campaign it had run for the Guptas.

McKinsey is also being investigated by South Africa’s parliament over whether it knowingly let funds from the state power utility Eskom be diverted to a Gupta company as a way of securing a $78 million contract to advise Eskom.

McKinsey is carrying out its own investigation, but has denied wrongdoing.

The Gupta scandals have piled pressure on Zuma and opened rifts in the African National Congress, the party that has ruled since the end of apartheid in 1994. It is due to elect a new party leader in December.

Kenya: Fears on election date as IEBC faces fresh hurdles

Kenya’s electoral body, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) could have trouble meeting its own deadlines following fears that the technology to be used in the October 17 repeat polls may not be ready.

It has emerged that the technology used to identify voters and transmit results, the Kenya Integrated Elections Management System (KIEMS), will have to be upgraded for the repeat elections to ensure a credible process, reports a local daily The Standard.

The paper further reports that on Friday, IEBC commissioners were holed up in a meeting with suppliers of the kit — Safran Morpho — to discuss the upgrade of KIEMS. Sources at the meeting said the experts from Safran, a French firm, were worried that the reconfigured kits may not be ready on time for the elections which must be held within 60 days from the time the Supreme Court nullified the presidential elections due to illegalities during the tallying of votes.

The IEBC, which then settled on October 17 as the elections date, is now grappling with how to handle the servers so that it does not interfere with information from the August 8 polls, given that the law requires the preservation of electoral materials for purposes of election petitions.

“Safran sent a letter on Thursday saying they will not be able to meet the deadline for reconfiguration and upgrading the system ahead of Election Day,” the source added, saying this had cast doubts on polls being held on October 17.

Safran, according to sources, also has raised concerns about accusations by political players, especially those in NASA, which accused the IT firm of being complicit in the bungling of elections. This is one of the issues that its CEO Anne Bouverot, who jetted into the country on Thursday with a delegation of six officials, came to Nairobi to discuss.

The Safran team was determined that users of the system should get it right this time, otherwise their businesses across the world may suffer from the adverse publicity. “They told us that they don’t want to rush their work and risk a total failure of the system as this will affect their reputation,” the source added.

Wau former governor says his removal was a normal measure

September 15, 2017 (WAU) – The former Governor of South Sudan's Wau state Andrea Mayar Acho who was sacked from his position on Thursday has accepted his removal, describing it as a government's normal routine.
“This is a normal government procedure, our president is the appointing authority, he can appoint the governors and he can relief them at any time, if you happen to be at the secretariat general of Wau state, you can see a lot of names (of former governors) on the board, so they were (...)

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South Sudan president vows personal commitment to ending war

September 15, 2017 (JUBA)- South Sudan President Salva Kiir on Friday pledged personal commitment to ending the war in the country, saying initiatives aimed at resolving the root causes of the conflict have been launched.
Kiir made his pledge during a meeting with the head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) David Shearer ahead of the annual United Nations General Assembly to held in New York from 18 to 25 September.
Speaking at a news briefing after the meeting, (...)

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Position Statement of Diaspora Aweil Communities on Gen. Paul Malong’s Detention

Dear Mr. President; We the undersigned, on behalf of our respective communities in Diaspora, extend to you our warmest greetings and best wishes as you endeavor to propel our country forward, endeavoring to achieve the ideals indelibly etched on South Sudan’s Coat of Arms. We have been reflecting lately, Mr. President, on the unflattering situation […]

Somalia, Comoros are new African members of the UN world tourism body

Somalia and Comoros have gained entry into the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) as the 157th and 158th Member States and the 50th and 51st African countries to be admitted.

Their admission was announced on Thursday during the 22nd UNWTO General Assembly in Chengdu, China after securing a two-thirds majority vote.

The UNWTO membership was made up of 157 countries until the recent withdrawal of Australia. There are six territories and over 500 affiliate members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.

Somalia’s membership follows a meeting in June between the Information, Culture & Tourism Minister Abdirahman Omar Osman and the outgoing UNWTO Secretary General Taleb D. Refai in Spain on the progress Somalia has made in terms of tourism.

I had fruitful meeting in Madrid with the SG of World Tourism Organization UNWTO Taleb Refai & agreed plans to revive Tourism in #Somalia pic.twitter.com/BHTpmYFPwa— Abdirahman O. Osman (engyarisow) June 16, 2017

This was followed by Somalia’s formal request to be admitted in August in order to develop and promote its tourism on a larger scale and benefit from expertise.

Comoros applied to join earlier in April this year and their vice president Djaffar Ahmed Said was present at the Assembly on Thursday for the occasion.

A third country – the State of Palestine – also applied to be admitted to the organisation but later pulled out.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi, and former minister of tourism of Seychelles, Alain St Ange missed the Secretary General position which went to Zurab Pololikashvili from Georgia.

His appointment came with a lot of controversy after his recommendation by the Executive Council to the General Assembly in May by a simple majority of the members of the Council present who voted.

Walter Mzembi had won the first round of the vote before losing the final round to the Georgian candidate which he described as fraudulent.

Mzembi requested for a ballot vote on Thursday but was rejected in favour of the required consensus vote that confirmed the selection of Zurab Pololikashvili who will take over from Jordanian Taleb D. Refai and serve from 2018 to 2021.

AU, EU and others deploy election observer missions to Liberia

The African Union (AU), European Union (EU), Carter Center and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) have deployed election observer missions to Liberia ahead of the October 10 presidential and legislative elections.

African Union

So far, the AU has sent 13 long-term observers to the country who are currently observing the election preparatory process to ensure transparency during the polls.

Three members of the AU observer mission met with the National Elections Commission (NEC) Chairman Jerome George Korkoya this week and raised issues including the availability of the final voter register.

The team included Coordinator Francis Kissinger Kakai, Election Gender Analyst Ellen Dingani and Political and Media Analyst Dr. Maximillina Kolbe Domapielle.

Korkoya said the final voter register has been made available to the registered political parties after their release on September 10.

He also noted the difficulty they are facing including difficulty in reaching some parts of the country including Gbarpolu, Lofa and Nimba counties which have deplorable roads.

He said they are in discussions with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to help in airlifting some of the voting materials to these areas during the election period.

The AU Ambassador to Liberia Ibrahim Karama said the observer team will extend its mission in the country until the results are released.

European Union

The EU Election Observation Mission also deployed 20 long-term observers from 20 different Member States of the European Union to the regions in Liberia on Friday.

They are supported by 34 short-term observers who will be deployed throughout the country together with locally recruited short-term observers.

They will stay in Liberia beyond election day as they monitor the process without interfering or supervising, said Deputy Chief Observer Alessandro Parziale.

“The EU EOM will assess the elections according to Liberia’s national law and the international commitments it has made regarding elections. It will focus on the entire electoral process, including the legal framework, electoral administration, voter registration, nominations, campaigning, the conduct of the media, voting and the counting, the tally of results and dispute resolution mechanisms,” he said.

“I hope that our team of analysts and observers will contribute with impartial and objective assessments to a democratic transition in Liberia,” he added.

A Core Team of 8 analysts arrived in the capital Monrovia in August consisting of election, political, legal, human rights and gender, finance, media and data analysts.

They will publish initial findings in a preliminary statement to be presented shortly after election day, and a final report with recommendations to be presented at a later stage.

Carter Center

The U.S.-based Carter Center delegation led by Director Meaghan Fitzgerald met with the electoral commission on the preaparation towards the election.

They also raised issues about code of conduct which the NEC Chairman Jerome George Korkoya said the challenge they are facing is the declaration of assets by candidates and parties as stipulated by Article 83 D of the Liberian Constitution.

He said the candidates and parties have 30 days from September 1 to do the declaration or face the law. Per the NEC’s records, 9 registered parties have submitted the requirement, he added.

National Democratic Institute (NDI)

The NDI led by its head Ambassador Johnnie Carson, former Assistant United States Secretary of State for African Affairs, also raised issues about the NEC’s election dispute resolution mechanisms.

Korkoya said they are prepared to deal with any dispute as 19 magistrates and 4 regional coordinators have been trained to handle cases at the county level, while extra lawyers have been hired to handle appeals.

He reminded the political parties that the electoral commission is where to channel grievances before seeking final redress at the Supreme Court.

20 candidates are vying for president while 986 candidates are standing for 73 seats in the House of Representatives.

2,183,683 million people out of the country’s 4.6 million population have registered to vote. There are 5,390 voting centers across the country in 2080 voting precincts.

Tunisian women free to marry non-Muslim men after lifting of ban

Tunisia has lifted a ban on Muslim women marrying non-Muslim men after years of campaign against the marriage law imposed in 1973.

President Beji Caid Essebsi had promised a month ago that the ban will be lifted in respect of the 2014 constitution that guarantees women’s freedom.

Spokesperson of the presidency, Saida Garrach is reported to have confirmed the lifting of the ban in a Facebook post congratulating Tunisian women for regaining their “right to the freedom to choose one’s spouse”.

Before the new legislation, a non-Muslim man had to convert to Islam and show a certificate as proof before he is allowed to marry a Muslim woman. This is not the same for Tunisian men who can marry a non-Muslim woman.

The legislation has been condemned by Muslim clerics who have pushed against its adoption.

It sets aside Tunisia from the rest of the Arab world where Islamic laws are strictly practiced.

Tunisia in 1956 banned polygamy and in July this year, introduced a law abolishing the clause that allowed rapists to escape punishment if they marry their victims.

UN urges Myanmar to end Rohingya violence, N.Korea launches another missile escalating crisis [International Edition]

United Nations chief and Security Council call on authorities to halt military action against Muslim-minority in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

At least 400 people have been killed, and thousands of homes and villages have been torched, since the military launched a counter-offensive against Rohingya insurgents in late August.

Meanwhile, North Korea has threatened to sink Japan and reduce the US to “ashes and darkness” for leading the latest UN Security Council sanctions imposed on the country.

We have these and more stories in the International Edition, a programme that highlights stories packaged by the Editorial team of Euronews presented by Elayne Wangalwa.

UN agencies announce a rise in global hunger levels

UN agencies have announced a rise in global hunger levels for the first time in more than a decade.

The situation has affected about 11 percent of the world’s population, as conflict, climate change and economic woes reach uncontrollable levels.

Last year, 815 million people were hungry – 38 million more than in 2015.

The number of those living in hunger stricken regions began rising in 2014, but this is the first time in more than a decade that the proportion of the global population affected by food crisis has risen.

About 489 million affected by hunger are living in the conflict-ridden countries.

Famine struck parts of South Sudan earlier this year, and there is a high risk that the situation might be worse – and spread to other countries affected by conflict like northeast Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen.

SPLM-N Agar claims repulsing fresh government attack in Blue Nile

September 15, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudan People's Liberation Movement/North led by Malik Agar (SPLM-N Agar) said its fighters have repulsed a government attack against the Movement positions in the Blue Nile state.
In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, SPLM-N Agar spokesperson Mubarak Ardol said the attack occurred on Thursday afternoon at Taga area in the Ingessana Hills.
He said the Movement fighters commanded by Farid al-Fahal managed to defeat and disperse the government force, (...)

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10 people killed by gunmen in South Darfur

September 15, 2017 (NYALA) - Ten people have been killed and eleven others injured by gunmen in Timbay village, Al-Salam locality, 100 kilometres south of Nyala, South Darfur capital, said, traditional leader.
In press statements on Wednesday, native administrator, Ali Mahmoud said gunmen in military uniform commanded by a Colonel attacked Timbasy village, killing 2 residents and injuring several others before fleeing.
He added the residents chased the perpetrators due to the late arrival (...)

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Ex- SPLA chief says confinement negatively impacts his family’s life

September 15, 2017 (JUBA) - The former South Sudanese chief of army staff said Friday that the death of his daughter and refusal by the government to allow him to attend burial service at home in his village has put the family in real tragedy.
“You saw the faces of the people, the mother, the brothers, sisters of Alakiir and other family members who knew her. They were all down. Some of them did not eat for days. It is a real tragedy and this is why I had hoped to attend the burial and (...)

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Nigeria’s inflation slows to 16.01%

Nigeria’s National Bureau of statistics has announced a slow down in annual inflation in the West African country for a seventh month in August, easing to 16.01 percent.

Statistics from the bureau say the highest increases were recorded in clothing materials, passenger transport by air, motorcycles, shoes and other footwear.

A separate food price index showed inflation at 20.25 percent in August, compared with 20.28 percent in July.

Last week the statistics office said Nigeria emerged from recession in the second quarter of this year with Africa’s biggest economy expanding 0.55 percent year-on-year.

The Nigerian economy slipped into recession in early 2016 after contracting for two consecutive quarters.

Zambia: Edgar Lungu prescribes unity ahead of reconciliation talks

President Edgar Lungu of Zambia has called for unity among political groups ahead of reconciliation talks between the government and the opposition.

The leader of the opposition United Party for National Development, Hakainde Hichilema, was arrested with five others in April and charged with plotting to overthrow the government after his convoy failed to make way for Lungu’s motorcade.

Hichilema was freed from prison in August after the state dropped the charges, to pave the way for dialogue between the two sides following mediation by Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland.

Opposition UPND members of parliament, who boycotted Lungu’s last address, attended Friday’s session, saying their attendance would give confidence to the dialogue process.

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