Connect with us

24 Hours Across Africa

EU election outcome to re-address differences.

Published

on

Source: Reuters

Parties committed to closer European Union integration began bargaining over jobs and policy on Monday after an election to the EU parliament which fragmented the center but gave only limited gains to nationalists.

DOWNLOAD ANTTENTION FRESH NEWS ON THE GO APP

National leaders of the bloc, many of whom hailed the vote as a vindication, will meet to chart the next steps on Tuesday.

Matteo Salvini, Italian deputy prime minister, leader of the anti-immigration League and potential builder of a far-right alliance across Europe, said his 34% of the Italian national vote was a mandate to rip up euro zone budget austerity rules.

But despite other wins for eurosceptics in big countries, including France, Poland and would-be ex-member Britain, the result was taken as a vote of confidence by mainstream leaders after turnout surged and nationalists advanced only modestly.

“The European elections were tangible proof that European democracy is alive and well,” Margaritis Schinas, chief spokesman of the executive European Commission, told reporters.

“The populists didn’t win this election.”

Facing a more hostile Russia, China’s growing economic might and an unpredictable U.S. President Donald Trump, many Europeans appeared to heed a message that the EU needed to stick together to protect workers’ rights, free speech and democracy. Turnout rose to 51% from just 43% in the last election in 2014.

Salvini, calling the shots in Rome and who now emerges as leader of a potential new European Parliament group hostile to the Brussels establishment, told a news conference: “The time has come to totally re-discuss old and outdated rules that have hurt Europe. Otherwise a vote like this cannot be explained.”

But the far-right and other nationalists, including Nigel Farage’s triumphant new Brexit Party, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, which edged President Emmanuel Macron’s liberals in France, and the ruling parties of Poland and Hungary may find it hard to overcome long-standing differences and turn what may be about a quarter of Parliament’s seats into a united force.

Italian Deputy Prime Minister and leader of far-right League party Matteo Salvini kisses a crucifix as he speaks during his European Parliament election night event in Milan, Italy, May 27, 2019. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

LEADERS TO MEET

The 28 EU national leaders, including outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May, will meet over dinner in Brussels on Tuesday to discuss the succession to Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and other key jobs, including the head of the European Central Bank, in the light of the election results.

Hard bargaining, playing off national interest, party lines and gender issues, will last at least until a key summit on June 20-21. A standoff is likely with parliament, where EU party chiefs want the national leaders to back down from a refusal to replace Juncker with a lawmaker from among their winning ranks.

The vote saw the center-right EPP, dented by losses for the likes of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, and center-left S&D lose a joint majority in the legislature.

But gains for liberals, like those of French President Emmanuel Macron’s new movement, and for the Greens, second in Germany, third in France and fourth Britain, means a four-party alliance is already in the works. These four pro-Union groups lost fewer than 20 seats to retain 503 in the 751-seat chamber.

PARLIAMENT NEGOTIATIONS

Leaders of those groups met on Monday, although building a common platform, let alone agreeing on who to back for top EU jobs, is unlikely to be smooth. Sources in three parties said a planned dinner on Monday to thrash out a position to put to national leaders seemed by late afternoon unlikely to go ahead.

At the expense of Merkel, long Europe’s key power-broker but now in her final term, there has been leftward shift in the balance of power, with the Greens, Macron and Spain’s newly re-elected socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez flexing muscles

“We are going to build a social Europe, a Europe that protects,” Sanchez said before he flew to Paris for talks with Macron to coordinate ahead of the wider Brussels summit.

That could mean a bigger push to tax multinational companies and tighten environmental rules on industry, as well as a more protectionist bent in trade negotiations, with a greater stress put on pressing commercial partners to combat climate change.

The battle for top jobs may also be divisive for parliament.

Manfred Weber, the first-placed EPP’s German lead candidate, is pushing hard to be nominated as Juncker’s successor. But the Socialists have a claim with Dutchman Frans Timmermans, Junker’s current deputy. Macron and his liberal allies may push for one of the few women in the race, Danish EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager, or French Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.

The euro made early gains on relief at the limited success of eurosceptics but settled back as investors pondered the fragmentation of the pro-EU middle ground of European politics.

Provisional results published by the European Parliament at 1305 GMT showed the EPP on 180 seats, S&D on 145, liberals on 109 and Greens on 69 for a total of 503. Two far-right groups shared 112 seats, rising to 171 with a third eurosceptic bloc.

Farage’s party won 29 seats, matching Merkel’s conservatives as the biggest in the chamber, one ahead of Salvini’s League.


@ Anttention Fresh,                
We work hard to ensure that any news brought to you is legitimate and valuable so we leave out the noise. This material, and other digital content on this website, may be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part BUT give us credit as your source. 

JOIN AN ONLINE LEARNING COMMUNITY CLICK IMAGEonline training

Continue Reading
Advertisement

24 Hours Across Africa

Ghana draws African-American tourists with ‘Year of Return

Published

on

US preacher Roxanne Caleb blinked away the tears as she emerged from a pitch-dark dungeon where African slaves were once held before being shipped across the Atlantic to America.

“I wasn’t prepared for this. I’m heartbroken,” she told AFP as she toured the Cape Coast slave fort on Ghana’s ocean shore.

“My mind still can’t wrap around the fact that a human being can treat another worse than a rat.”

Caleb is among the African-American visitors flocking to Ghana as it marks the “Year of Return” to remember the 400th anniversary of the first slave ship landing in Virginia.

The West African nation is banking on the commemorations to give a major boost to the number of tourist arrivals as it encourages the descendants of slaves to “come home”.

Cape Coast Castle, 150 kilometres (90 miles) from the capital Accra, is a major magnet for those visiting

The white-washed fort lined with cannons was one of dozens of prisons studding the Atlantic coast where slaves were held before their journey to the New World.

A string of prominent African-Americans have headed to the site this year to mark the anniversary since the first slave landing in 1619.

Among them was a delegation of Congressional Black Caucus led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that toured last month.

– ‘Can’t forget history’ –

For those visiting it is an emotional rite of passage.

“This has been understanding my history and my roots where I came from,” Caleb said.

“I am very thankful I came here as part of the Year of Return.”

Sampson Nii Addy, a corrections officer with the Montgomery police department in Alabama, said he and his family had found the tour an “education”.

“I think every black person needs to come around to learn history; how people were treated,” the 52-year-old told AFP.

“We can’t forget history but we can always learn something from it.”

Ghana, one of the continent’s most stable democracies, has long pitched itself as a destination for African-Americans to explore their heritage and even settle permanently.

In 2009 President Barack Obama visited with his family and paid homage at the Cape Coast Castle.

The “Year of Return” has added fresh impetus and the country is hoping it will increase visitor numbers from 350,000 in 2018 to 500,000 this year, including 45,000 African-Americans.

Kojo Keelson has spent nine years guiding tour groups around the Cape Coast Castle and says 2019 has seen a surge in interest as Ghana looks to rake in tourism revenue of $925 million (830 million euros).

“It’s like a pilgrimage. This year we’ve a lot more African-Americans coming through than the previous year,” he told AFP.

“I’m urging all of them to come home and experience and reconnect to the motherland.”

– ‘Love to come again’ –

Akwasi Awua Ababio, the official coordinating “Year of Return” events, pointed to high hotel occupancy rates as he said “enthusiasm is very high and we’ve got huge numbers coming from the US and Caribbean”.

He insisted that beyond the major economic boost, Ghana was also looking to use the new connections it is forging to convince the descendants of slaves to resettle for good and help the country develop.

“Human resource is always an asset and we need to see how we can welcome them home to utilise their expertise and networks,” the director for diaspora affairs at the presidency said.

The African American Association of Ghana brings together those who have moved to West Africa and offers help to integrate them into their new surroundings.

President Gail Nikoi praised the “Year of Return” initiative by Ghanaian leader Nana Akufo-Addo and said the country was “setting the stage for future engagements and involvement of African-Americans and other Africans from the diaspora in the development of this country.”

But she said the authorities could still be doing more to help attract arrivals and convince them to stay.

“Dialogue and engagement is the first step,” she said.

While most of those visiting Cape Coast were not thinking about settling back permanently — they said the trip had opened their eyes to both their own history and what Ghana has to offer.

“It has broadened my horizons about how we came to be here and what our ancestors went through,” said William Shaw, 57, from Montgomery.

“I would love to come again. There is a lot more to see here in Ghana… at least once in a year I’d advise African-Americans to come back to their native land and learn about their history.”

Continue Reading

24 Hours Across Africa

Frontline protesters make case for violence in Hong Kong protests

Published

on

Reuters – Pun sees himself as a peaceful, middle-class Hong Kong student. Yet since the beginning of June, he has been building barricades and throwing bricks at police, risking his own liberty to fight, as he sees it, for the city’s freedoms.

In one of the world’s safest cities, the idea of violence as a legitimate form of political expression – hand-in-hand with peaceful protest – is becoming increasingly mainstream in the evolving tactics of a decentralized pro-democracy movement that has disrupted Chinese-ruled Hong Kong for 11 weeks.

“I know violence cannot fight violence, but sometimes aggression is needed to attract the attention of the government and others,” 22-year-old Pun said last week, speaking at the city’s airport after overnight clashes with police.

“I have thrown rocks, I have acted as a shield with umbrellas for others, I have been helping to build barricades, to bring supplies, to take injured people to a safe zone. I have also been hit by police with batons. We’re all slowly getting used to this. We have to.”

Protests in the former British colony erupted in early June over a now-suspended bill that would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China for trial.

But the unrest has been fueled by broader worries about what many say has been an erosion of freedoms guaranteed under the “one country, two systems” formula put in place when Hong Kong returned to China in 1997.

Unlike the Umbrella movement in 2014, when a largely peaceful 79-day occupation of Hong Kong’s financial area failed to achieve its aim of universal suffrage, a more confrontational stance from some of the protesters was evident from the start.

They came equipped with helmets, masks and goggles, and well-studied plans for supplying the protest frontlines with gear and mitigating the effects of tear gas.

And it seemed to yield some results. Within days, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, while not formally withdrawing the extradition bill, as protesters demanded, suspended the measure and declared it “dead”, a word she repeated on Tuesday.

Emboldened, the protest movement has since morphed into a broader, increasingly creative and sophisticated push for greater democracy, posing the biggest political challenge yet for Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Protesters escalated their aggressiveness, playing cat-and-mouse with the police all over the territory. While a giant march on Sunday was peaceful, activists have not ruled out further violence.

“We learned a lot from our mistakes in the Umbrella revolution,” said Pun, wearing a new set of clothes after ditching in an airport washroom the all-black protest attire he had worn the night before.

“Definitely more people accept there will be some violence now. They may not like it, they may not want to be a part of it, but they don’t condemn us. We are joined together as a force.”

@ Anttention Fresh,                
We work hard to ensure that any news brought to you is legitimate and valuable so we leave out the noise. This material, and other digital content on this website, may be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part BUT give us credit as your source. 

DOWNLOAD ANTTENTION FRESH NEWS ON THE GO APP
JOIN AN ONLINE LEARNING COMMUNITY CLICK IMAGEonline training

Continue Reading

Facebook

Advertisement
Flag Counter
Advertisement

Trending

Copyright © 2018 Anttention Media. All rights reserved