Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias to visit Ukraine (Sartana-Mariupol, 31.01.2022)

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Dendias, will travel tomorrow, Monday, January 31, to Ukraine, an in particular to the cities of Sartana and Mariupol, in order to hold meetings with Greek diaspora associations and local officials.

In the course of his stay in Sartana, the Minister of Foreign Affairs will lay a wreath at the Memorial to the residents of Sartana who fell in 2014.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs will visit the 8th Modern Greek Language Learning School. The event is expected to be attended, among others, by the Head of the civil-military Administration and members of the Greek diaspora from Sartana and Cermalik.

In addition, the Minister of Foreign Affairs will pay a visit to the Museum of History and Ethnography of the Greeks of the Azov Sea Region.

In the course of his visit to Mariupol, the Minister of Foreign Affairs will meet at the City Hall with the First Deputy Mayor, M. Kogut, as well as with the Chairman of Mariupol district council, S. Mahsma.

Afterwards, the Minister of Foreign Affairs will visit the Cultural Center of the Federation of Greek Communities of Ukraine (FGCU), where he will be welcomed by the President of the FGCU, Alexandra Protsenko-Pitsantzi, the Vice-Presidents of the FGCU as well as Presidents and members of Greek Associations.

The meeting is expected to be attended by the Rector of the State University of Mariupol, M. Trofymenko, Professors of the Greek Philology Faculty as well as Heads of United Territorial Communities.

Prior to his departing for Greece, the Minister of Foreign Affairs will also visit the premises of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission.

French Accuse Russia-Backed Vagner Group Fighters Of ‘Despoiling’ Mali

France’s foreign minister has accused a Russia-backed mercenary group of plundering the resources of the West African nation of Mali.
Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a newspaper interview published on January 30 that fighters from the Vagner Group, aka Wagner, which he said includes — “former Russian soldiers, armed by Russia, and accompanied by Russian logistics” — are “despoiling Mali.”
“They are already at the moment using the country’s resources in exchange for protecting the junta,” he told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper.
“Vagner uses the weakness of certain states to implant itself … to reinforce Russia’s influence in Africa,” Le Drian added.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the mercenary group does not represent the Russian state and is not paid by it. He has also said private military contractors have the right to work and pursue their interests anywhere in the world as long as they do not break Russian law.
France, Germany, Canada, and Britain have troops in Mali fighting against an Islamist insurgency in the African country.
However, the mission became endangered after Mali slid into political turmoil two years ago, culminating in a military coup in August 2020 against President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
France, Germany, Canada, and Britain and 11 other nations late last year said in a joint statement that they “firmly condemn the deployment of mercenary troops on Malian territory.”
On December 15, the United States warned Mali against deploying Vagner forces, saying a reported deal between the country and the private military contractor would divert money away from efforts to fight terrorism and could ultimately destabilize the region.
Mali’s government denied any deployment of fighters from the Vagner Group and called the personnel “Russian trainers.”
Le Drian did not say whether the presence of Vagner Group personnel could lead to the withdrawal of French troops fighting the Islamist insurgency in Mali.
French Defense Minister Florence Parly said on January 29 that European states fighting the militants there would seek ways to keep the mission going. But she added that there were limits to the price that France is prepared to pay to remain.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

Sudanese Take to the Streets in Latest Anti-Coup Protests

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Sudan’s capital and other cities across the country Sunday for the latest in a months-long string of demonstrations denouncing an October military coup that plunged the country into turmoil. At least one person was killed when security forces violently dispersed protesters, a medical group said.
Protesters, mostly young men and women, marched in the streets of Khartoum and other cities, demanding an end to the military’s takeover. They called for a fully civilian government to lead the country’s now-stalled transition to democracy.
The coup has upended Sudan’s transition to democratic rule after three decades of repression and international isolation under autocratic President Omar al-Bashir. The African nation has been on a fragile path to democracy since a popular uprising forced the military to remove al-Bashir and his Islamist government in April 2019.
The protests are called by the Sudanese Professionals Association and the Resistance Committees, which were the backbone of the uprising against al-Bashir and relentless anti-coup protests in the past three months.
Footage circulated online showed people beating drums and chanting anti-coup slogans in the streets of Khartoum and its twin city Omdurman. Protesters were also seen carrying Sudanese flags and other flags with photos of protesters reportedly slain by security forces printed on them.
They marched towards the presidential palace, an area in the capital that has seen deadly clashes between protesters and security forces in previous rounds of demonstrations.
Security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters in at least one location in the capital. At least three people suffered injuries from rubber bullets, said activist Nazim Sirag.
The Sudan Doctors Committee, a medical group tracking casualties among protesters, said a 27-year-old protester died in a Khartoum hospital after he sustained unspecified injuries to his chest during the protests. It did not elaborate.
There were protests elsewhere in the country including the eastern city of Port Sudan, western Darfur region and Madani, the capital city of Jazira province, about 135 kilometers (85 miles) southeast of Khartoum. Madani saw a massive anti-coup protest last week.
Ahead of the protests, authorities stepped up security in Khartoum and Omdurman. They deployed thousands of troops and police and sealed off central Khartoum, urging protesters to assemble only in public squares in the capital’s neighborhoods.
The United Nations mission in Sudan on Saturday warned that such restrictions could increase tensions, urging authorities to let the protests “pass without violence.”
Since the coup, at least 79 people have been killed and hundreds of others wounded in a widely condemned crackdown on protests, the doctors group said.
There were also mass arrests of activists leading the anti-coup protests and allegations of sexual violence, including rape and gang rape, in a Dec. 19 protest in Khartoum, according to the U.N.
The upheaval in Sudan worsened earlier this month following the resignation of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who was the civilian face of the transitional government over the past two years.
The prime minister, who was ousted in the October coup only to be reinstated a month later under heavy international pressure, stepped down on Jan. 2 after his efforts to reach a compromise failed.
Sunday’s protests came as the U.N. mission continued its consultations to find a way out of the ongoing crisis.
On Saturday, powerful Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy head of the ruling Sovereign Council, and commander of the feared Rapid Support Forces, said they have accepted the U.N. efforts to resolve the crisis, but that U.N. envoy Volker Perthes “should be a facilitator not a mediator.”
Dagalo did not elaborate but his comments showed the challenges the U.N. mission faces to find a common ground between rival factions in Sudan.
The pro-democracy movement has insisted on the removal of the generals from power and the establishment a fully civilian government to lead the transition.
The generals, however, said they will hand over power only to an elected administration. They say elections will take place in July 2023, as planned in a 2019 constitutional document governing the transitional period.

Source: Voice of America

Algerian, French Presidents Hold Phone Talks After Months Of Diplomatic Riffs

ALGIERS – Algerian President, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, yesterday held phone talks, with his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, after months of diplomatic tension.
According to a statement issued by the Algerian presidency, the two sides “discussed bilateral cooperation and prospects of convening the higher intergovernmental committee,” which had been scheduled last Apr, but was postponed due to the mounting diplomatic tension between the two.
According to the statement, the French president renewed the invitation for his Algerian counterpart to attend the sixth European Union – African Union summit, which will be held in Brussels on Feb 17 and 18.
The French-Algerian ties have been characterised by diplomatic riffs in recent months, since Algeria recalled its ambassador to France and closed its airspace to French military planes in Oct, 2021.
The move was a response to a Paris’ decision in Sept, 2021, to reduce the number of visas provided to Algerian officials by 50 percent, as well as Macron’s critical remarks on Algeria.


Cameroon Football Team Donates to Stadium Crush Victims

Cameroon’s national football team, the Indomitable Lions, Sunday donated $85,000 and dedicated their 2-0 victory over the Scorpions of Gambia to victims of the stampede that killed eight and injured 38 at Yaoundé’s Olembe stadium this week. The Indomitable Lions say they cannot be indifferent after people died or were injured as they turned out to support Cameroon players taking part at the ongoing Africa Football Cup of Nations tournament in Cameroon.
Members of Cameroon’s national football team, the Indomitable Lions, sing that God will bless victims of this week’s crush at Yaoundé’s Olembe stadium. The players sang on Saturday evening in Douala, Cameroon’s economic hub and coastal city, after beating the Scorpions of Gambia in a quarter-final game in the Africa Football Cup of Nations, AFCON.
A statement after the match from Serge Guiffo, the Indomitable Lions press officer, said the players had donated $85,000 and dedicated their 2-0 victory over the Scorpions of Gambia to victims of the stampede that killed eight and injured 38.
The statement did not say how the money would be distributed to the victims, but said family members of those who died in the stampede will be given a share.
Narcisse Mouelle Kombi, Cameroon’s minister of sports and physical education, addressed the players at Douala’s Japoma stadium after the match.
Kombi said Cameroonians are happy that their national football team players have helped people who died or were injured while they struggled to watch the Indomitable Lions play. He said Cameroonians are happy that the donation comes after a historic victory against the Scorpions of Gambia.
The crush occurred as crowds struggled to get access to Olembe Stadium in the capital city Yaoundé. Cameroon President Paul Biya ordered the injured to be treated free of charge.
Ndukong Edward, a family member of a stampede victim, said the president did not make a statement about any assistance to the families of dead victims. Ndukong said he hopes the government will assist the injured and family members of the dead. He said security lapses by Cameroon’s police might have caused the stampede.
“If the gate was opened as it was supposed to be, nothing would have happened because people would have had access to the field. But if the gate was closed by some overzealous security officers for whatever reasons, then they should take responsibility,” he said.
Cameroonian authorities Friday blamed the deadly stadium crush on what they said was a massive influx of ticketless fans who arrived late to the game involving the host team and tried to force their way in to avoid security checks and COVID-19 screening.
Nasseri Paul Bea, governor of Cameroon’s Centre region, where Olembe is located, said the government will assist victims of the crush after the tournament. He said people attending football matches during AFCON should stop uncivil behavior such as jumping fences to get into stadiums.
“We are calling on this population to follow and respect the institutions, to be able to cooperate to be sure that Cameroon does not represent a bad image by being very patriotic and responsible. It should never happen again. Cameroonians should put in their mind that what happened in Olembe should never happen again,” he said.
Bea said some government ministers, senior state officials and well-wishers have been giving financial assistance to the victims in solidarity with the state of Cameroon.
After the crush, the Confederation of African Football suspended AFCON matches at Olembe until further notice.
Cameroon is hosting AFCON for the first time in 50 years. The tournament, which is the continent’s main football event, was originally scheduled in 2019. The confederation stripped the event from Cameroon that year because stadiums were not ready.
The competition that ends on February 6 began January 9.

Source: Voice of America