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African leaders okay sanctions for inefficient AU members

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Several African leaders on Sunday approved proposals to make the African Union more efficient and financially independent, including through the implementation of an import levy by member states.

Heads of state and ministers had gathered at the body’s headquarters in Addis Ababa for what was seen as a last-ditch attempt to push through reforms that have been mulled for nearly two years.

The AU in 2016 charged its chairman and Rwandan President Paul Kagame with getting reforms passed, but observers have said time is running out because Egypt, which is set to assume the chairmanship, is thought to oppose aspects of the agenda.



However members backed moves to streamline the body while bringing in revenue from member states and sanctioning those who don’t pay their dues.

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The AU currently depends on foreign donors, who in 2019 will pay for 54 percent of a total budget of $681.5 million (596 million euros).

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On Saturday the AU launched a fund dedicated to paying for responses to crises on the continent before they evolve into full-blown conflicts.

The US mission to the AU issued a statement saying it supports the AU’s self-funding goals but opposed “trade measures” to achieve them.

“We are proud of our partnership with the AU and will continue to work with the AU… to find impactful ways to bring peace and security to the continent, they said.

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24 Hours Across Africa

Hong Kong Activities face crucial weekend test after airport setback

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Source: AFP- Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement faces a major test this weekend as it tries to muster another huge crowd following criticism over a recent violent airport protest and as concerns mount over Beijing’s next move.

Ten weeks of protests have plunged the international finance hub into crisis with the communist mainland taking an increasingly hardline tone, including labelling the more violent protester actions “terrorist-like”.

Chinese state media have put out images of military personnel and armoured personnel carriers across the border in Shenzhen, while the United States has warned Beijing against sending in troops, a move many analysts say would be a reputational and economic disaster for China.

The nationalistic Global Times newspaper said there would not be a repeat of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, in which hundreds — or even thousands — are believed to have been killed, if Beijing moves to quash the protests.

“The incident in Hong Kong won’t be a repeat of the June 4th political incident in 1989,” it said, insisting the country now had more sophisticated approaches.

It was a rare reference to the bloody events, which are taboo in China.

Hong Kong’s protests were sparked by opposition to a plan to allow extraditions to the mainland, but have since morphed into a wider call for democratic rights in the semi-autonomous city.

Millions of people have hit the streets while clashes have broken out between police and small groups of hardcore protesters for 10 consecutive weekends.

For most of that time, US President Donald Trump has taken a hands-off approach to the unrest but began speaking up this week, suggesting any potential trade deal with Beijing could be upended by a violent response from the mainland.

Speaking on Thursday, Trump urged his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to meet protesters and solve the crisis “humanely”.

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24 Hours Across Africa

Italy’s League faces threat over new Government crisis

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Source: Rueters, Italy’s ruling League party could end up in opposition and risks looking stupid over its bid to bring down the coalition and trigger an early election, a senior League official said.

Renewed political turmoil in the euro zone’s third largest economy threatens to derail preparations for the 2020 budget in the autumn, as Italy attempts to rein in its huge public debt, the highest in the 19-nation bloc after Greece.

The League’s far-right leader Matteo Salvini said last week its alliance with the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement was no longer workable and tabled a motion of no-confidence in the government.

The 46-year-old tough-talking Salvini’s gambit appeared to be an effort to capitalize on his popularity and bring on an election that could see him crowned as prime minister.

However, 5-Star and the opposition Democratic Party (PD) have stalled any debate of the motion and many of their politicians are now openly discussing forming a coalition among themselves to sideline Salvini.

League Cabinet Undersecretary Giancarlo Giorgetti, Salvini’s closest aide, acknowledged in an interview in La Repubblica daily on Thursday that the party could now end up in opposition, but said it would do so “with our heads high.”

“We could have held on to our government posts and now we risk looking stupid, but we posed a political issue,” Giorgetti said, referring to the policy gridlock which had bogged down the government amid constant bickering between the two parties.

With the prospect of a 5-Star/PD government looking increasingly plausible, the League’s Agriculture Minister Gian Marco Centinaio said on Wednesday he did not rule out trying to patch things up with 5-Star.

“I would never close the door completely,” he said in a radio interview.

Salvini said in Genoa on Wednesday the League “will do whatever we can to prevent a trickster’s deal between 5-Star and the PD.”

Francesco Galietti, founder of political risk consultancy Policy Sonar, said in a note that the possibility of the government continuing with a cabinet reshuffle was “more than just plausible.”

However, many 5-Star politicians now seem more tempted by a deal with the PD. Lower house deputy Giuseppe Brescia told La Repubblica on Thursday it would be “absurd” to try to resurrect the coalition after the League had unilaterally tried to sink it.

The 5-Star Movement has been hurt by its tie-up with the League, halving its voter support since the two parties joined forces in June last year, according to opinion polls. The League has overtaken it to become Italy’s most popular party.

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