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24 Hours Across Africa

Norway to end Venezuela political crisis.

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Source :Reuters

Talks taking place in Oslo with representatives of Venezuela’s government and opposition to resolve the country’s political crisis are in an “exploratory phase,” Norway’s foreign ministry said on Friday.

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The representatives of each side arrived in the Nordic country this week, signaling a fresh approach to seek an end to months of tensions that have escalated since a failed uprising last month led by opposition leader Juan Guaido, who called on the military to oust President Nicolas Maduro.

The ruling socialist party, which has long said it is open to dialogue, has endorsed the talks. But many sectors of the opposition remain skeptical, arguing that Maduro has in the past used dialogue as a stalling tactic to maintain his grip on power as living standards steadily declined in the oil-rich nation.

“Norway announces that it has had preliminary contacts with representatives of the main political actors of Venezuela, as part of an exploratory phase,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that it supported “the search for a peaceful solution for the country.”

Venezuela was thrust into a deep power struggle in January when Guaido, the leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency, arguing Maduro’s 2018 re-election was illegitimate.

The United States and many European countries have recognized Guaido as the South American country’s rightful leader, but nearly four months after their endorsement Maduro retains control of state functions and the support of the top brass, as well as allies like Russia, Cuba and China.

Norway has a tradition of conflict mediation, including assistance with Colombia’s 2016 peace deal between the government and FARC rebels.

“President Nicolas Maduro and the Bolivarian Revolution express their gratitude to Norway and its support for dialogue seeking peace and sovereignty,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza wrote on Twitter on Friday.

Guaido was more tepid, tweeting on Thursday that any “mediation initiative” should begin with the “end of the usurpation,” a reference to Maduro resigning.

He has expressed a growing openness to potential U.S. military intervention to resolve Venezuela’s crisis in recent weeks and said his envoy to Washington would meet with the U.S. military’s Southern Command next Monday.

Guaido said he would meet diplomats from European and Latin American countries who arrived in Caracas this week as part of the International Contact Group on Venezuela, an initiative which seeks to negotiate an end to the crisis.


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24 Hours Across Africa

Ten and thousands of Hong Kong protesters flood city streets in largest rally in weeks

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Source: AFP- A sea of democracy activists flooded the streets of Hong Kong Sunday in a defiant show to the city’s leaders that their movement still pulls wide public support, despite mounting violence and increasingly stark warnings from Beijing.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters carrying umbrellas poured across the heart of Hong Kong island defying torrential rain and a police order not to march from a park where they had gathered earlier for a rally.

Weeks of demonstrations have plunged the financial hub into crisis, with images of masked black-clad protesters engulfed by tear gas during street battles against riot police stunning a city once renowned for its stability.

Sunday’s action, which organisers the Civil Human Rights Front said drew more than 1.7 million in the largest rally in weeks, was billed as a return to the “peaceful” origins of the leaderless protest movement.


“It’s been a long day and we’re very tired, but to see so many people out in the rain marching for Hong Kong gives strength to everyone,” said Danny Tam, a 28-year-old graphic designer.

The unprecedented political crisis was sparked by opposition to a plan to allow extraditions to the Chinese mainland.

But protests have since morphed into a wider call for democratic rights in the semi-autonomous city.

Anger has been sharpened among protesters by the perceived heavy-handedness of the police who have used tear gas, baton charges and rubber bullets in incidents that have pinballed across social media.

“The police are doing things that are totally unacceptable,” said Yim, who like many of the protesters gave only one name.

“They are hurting citizens, they aren’t protecting us.”

AFP / Manan VATSYAYANATorrential rain failed to dampen the enthusiasm of protesters in Hong Kong

Communist Party-ruled mainland China has taken an increasingly hardline tone towards the protesters, decrying the “terrorist-like” actions of a violent hardcore minority among the demonstrators.

Despite the near-nightly clashes with police, the movement has won few concessions from Beijing or the city’s unelected leadership.

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24 Hours Across Africa

Samson Siasia ban for life by Fifa

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Former Nigeria coach Samson Siasia has been banned for life and fined $50,000 by Fifa for agreeing to ‘the manipulation of matches.’

Siasia was coach of Nigeria between 2010-2011 and for a spell in 2016 but the time period when Fifa believes he committed his infractions is unclear.

He has also served as coach of the country’s Under-20 and Under-23 sides.

In a statement, Siasia was found ‘guilty of having accepted that he would receive bribes in relation to the manipulation of matches.’

The sanction stems from an ongoing ‘large-scale investigation’ Fifa is conducting into the behaviour of Wilson Raj Perumal, a convicted match-fixer from Singapore.

He is the third African to be banned by Fifa for his links to Perumal after former Sierra Leone FA official Abu Bakarr Kabba and former Botswana FA official Mooketsi Kgotlele were suspended in July for five years and for life respectively.

A former international, Siasia won the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations with Nigeria, for whom he played over 50 times while scoring 16 goals.

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