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24 Hours Across Africa

EU leaders in dispute over the next E.C cheif.

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French president Emmanuel Macron speaks during a press conference after the European Council on December 14 2018, in Brussels. - Macron says EU can 'clarify' not renegotiate Brexit deal, AFP reports on December 14, 2018. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)        (Photo credit should read LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images)

 

Source: Reuters

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron disagreed on Tuesday over who should be the next chief of the European Commission as EU leaders met to begin bargaining over candidates for the bloc’s top jobs in the next five years.

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French President Emmanuel Macron arrives at a European Union leaders summit after European Parliament elections to discuss who should run the EU executive for the next five years, in Brussels, Belgium May 28, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman

An EU-wide election last week returned a European Parliament with a splintered center and gains by pro-EU liberals and Greens as well as eurosceptic nationalists and the far right, making agreeing a coherent agenda for the bloc more tricky.

“We won’t choose Mr. or Ms. Europe today, but just draw a balance after the European election,” Luxembourg’s liberal prime minister, Xavier Bettel, said ahead of the meeting of 28 national leaders in Brussels.

Held once every five years, the EU election means the heads of major EU institutions will now be replaced.

Merkel said on arrival at the gathering that she backed center-right German lawmaker Manfred Weber to be the next head of the EU’s powerful executive, the European Commission, after Luxembourg’s Jean-Claude Juncker steps down on Oct. 31.

Macron pushed back minutes later, listing the EU competition commissioner, Denmark’s Margrethe Vestager, the bloc’s Brexit negotiator, center-right Frenchman Michel Barnier, and Dutch Social Democrat Frans Timmermans – but not Weber – as appropriate candidates.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, also mooted as a possible contender in the obscure recruitment process, said Tuesday’s meeting was about “content rather than people”. It was also, he said, about agreeing policy priorities for the coming years, including climate change, economy and migration.

The center-right European People’s Party (EPP) and the center-left Socialists & Democrats (S&D) group were reduced to 326 seats together in the new, 751-strong chamber in Sunday’s vote, 50 short of the majority needed to determine by themselves who should head the Commission, as they had in years past.

Other big roles up for grabs later this year include the head of the European Parliament and the European Central Bank, the bloc’s foreign policy chief and the head of the European Council who represents leaders of the 28 EU member states and helps broker compromises among them.

The EU would risk an institutional logjam if talks drag on, leaving it unable to make pivotal policy decisions at a time when it faces a more assertive Russia, China’s growing economic might and an unpredictable U.S. president.

Names in the running for Commission chief from eastern Europe include outgoing Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, the Bulgarian World Bank head Kristalina Georgieva and the Czech Republic’s justice commissioner, Vera Jourova.


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24 Hours Across Africa

India doctors embark on strike aimed better security

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Source: Reuters

Thousands of doctors across India went on strike on Friday to demand better security at hospitals days after junior doctors in the city of Kolkata were attacked, leaving services in many government-run health facilities paralyzed.

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The state of West Bengal, of which Kolkata is capital, has been the worst hit by the strike with at least 13 big government hospitals affected.

The protests were sparked by an attack at the NRS Medical College in Kolkata on June 10 that left three junior doctors seriously injured after a dispute with a family whose relative had died.

Doctors demanding better security began a strike but their action was confined to the state until West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee condemned them on Thursday, saying police did not strike when one of their colleagues was killed.

Banerjee’s remarks, which included a warning that junior doctors would be evicted from their college hostels if they did not go back to work, triggered a nationwide reaction.

The Indian Medical Association said the “barbaric” attack at the NRS reflected a national problem, and called for a countrywide protest. It also demanded legislation to safeguard doctors.

Nearly 30,000 doctors were on a one-day strike on Friday, most in West Bengal, New Delhi and the western state of Maharashtra, according to figures proved by medical associations.

The federal health minister, Harsh Vardhan, tried to calm the furor, promising better security at hospitals and calling on Banerjee to withdraw her ultimatum.

“I urge doctors to end their strike in the larger interest of society. I will take all possible measures to ensure a safe environment for them at hospitals across the country,” Vardhan said on Twitter.

India spent an estimated 1.4% of its gross domestic product on healthcare in 2017/18, among the lowest proportions in the world. Many millions of Indians depend on the cheap but inadequate public health system.

Saradamani Ray, whose 77-year old father is a patient at the NRS Medical College, said she would have to move him because of the strike.

“I will have to take my father somewhere else for his dialysis, maybe a private hospital,” she told Reuters.

“It will cause a lot of financial strain, but there’s nothing I can do. I will have to pay.”


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24 Hours Across Africa

Cazorla pen New deal for Villarreal

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Villarreal veteran Santi Cazorla re-signed with the La Liga club, it was confirmed on Thursday.

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Spain international midfielder Cazorla, 34, renewed for the 2019-20 season after impressing last term following his return to the Yellow Submarine.

The club announced the news on Thursday at a season ticket campaign presentation in the newly opened Plaza Pascual Font de Mora.

Cazorla was not at the event, but appeared in a video revealing that he had signed on for another season

“My only goal was to stay here and I appreciate the support of the club and coaching staff,” Cazorla said.

After re-joining Villarreal – where he left for Malaga in 2011 – from Arsenal, Cazorla scored seven goals and tallied 11 assists in 46 matches across all.


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