Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr Sunday Dare has questioned the competence of Super Eagles Manager Gernot Rohr.

Dare made this known via his social media handle on Wednesday, reacting to the outcome of Nigeria’s African Cup of Nations qualifying matches against Sierra Leone.

 

The Super Eagles failed to beat the Leone Stars over the two meetings in Benin or Freetown, and the Minister described the results as “unacceptable”, even suggesting a decision will be taken regarding the future of the coach.

 

“The performance of the Super Eagles from their last two matches calls to question the suitability and competence of Technical Adviser, Rohr. Nigerian football deserves better. The needful will be done. Apologies to all football lovers.” He tweeted.

 

Gernot Rohr was employed in 2016 and qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. He also led the team to a third place finish at the 2019 African Cup of Nations in Egypt.

 

The three times African champions also sit top of their 2022 African Cup of Nations qualifying Group on eight points with two games left to play.

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Former Super Eagles goalkeeper Peter Rufai says Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr is ‘not getting it right’ with the irregular invitation of new players to the team, adding that ‘the national team is not a place where you keep changing players’.

Rufai in a chat with brila.net stated that Rohr has struggled to present a familiar first team since taking charge in August 2016 and has often invited new players especially those born and bred abroad to the team, which many sports (football analyst) also suggested is the problem of him (Rohr) not having a comprehensive first team till date for Nigeria.
Ahead of last month’s friendly matches against African champions Algeria and Tunisia in Austria, the former Gabon, and Burkina Faso coach handed fresh invitations to eight new players including Matthew Yakubu, Kevin Akpoguma, Chidera Ejuke, Zaidu Sanusi, and Frank Onyeka. Lugano goalkeeper Sebastian Osigwe was also a fresh invitee as Nigeria drew two matches against Sierra Leone in a recently-concluded 2021 AFCON qualifying double-header.
But the 57-year-old ex-Eagles captain, who was in goal for Nigeria at the 1994 and 1998 World Cups, says Rohr is following a wrong path.
“At this point, we are really not getting it right when it comes to players that ought to be called to the national team,” the former Deportivo de La Coruna goalkeeper said.
“The national team is not a place where you keep changing players; one match, another player, next match, another player after two months, another player after three months. No.
“National team positions are positions given to the best players in such positions, and those players can be substituted only when there are needs. And before these needs arise, the coaches and technical team must have screened round the country to find alternatives and communicate with the coach who trains these players and collect a report of assessment from these coaches about these players, not about what he (the national team coach) is seeing.”

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Nigeria’s minister of youth and sports development Hon. Sunday Dare says Super Eagles’ performance in the last two games calls to question Gernot Rohr’s suitability and “competence”.

In a post on his Twitter page on Wednesday, the minister also revealed that “the needful will be done”.

 

Dare was reacting to the under-par performance of the Nigerian team in the double-header against Sierra Leone in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers.

 

The three-time African champion threw away a four-goal lead to draw 4-4 in the first encounter at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium on Friday, before recording another draw (0-0) in Freetown on Tuesday.

 

The outcome of the encounter made Dare tender an apology to Nigerians and he also assured that Rohr’s ability as the technical adviser will be questioned.

 

Nigeria remains at the top of Group L despite the draw with eight points after four matches.

 

 

They are a point above second-placed Benin while Sierra Leone is placed third with three points and Lesotho are at the bottom with two points.

 

 

 

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Amos Adamu Faces Two-Year FIFA Ban  

FIFA plans to introduce a series of measures to protect pregnant footballers including mandatory maternity leave “of at least 14 weeks”, the sport’s world governing body announced on Thursday.

“We want to see more women play football but in the same time have a family,” Sarai Bareman, FIFA’s chief women’s football officer, explained to journalists.

The body said it would put a series of reforms forward for approval by the FIFA Council next month, making them immediately applicable across all of its 211 member federations.

The mandatory 14-week maternity leave would see players guaranteed a minimum two-thirds of their contracted salary, while FIFA indicated a wish to make it harder for clubs to part company with pregnant players, saying “no female player should ever suffer a disadvantage as a result of becoming pregnant”.

“The idea is to protect female players before, during and after child birth,” said Emilio Garcia, FIFA’s chief legal and compliance officer.

Under the proposals, if a player is laid off after becoming pregnant, clubs responsible face financial as well as “sporting” punishments.

Clubs must also reintegrate female players and provide “adequate medical and physical support” after they have given birth.

In a statement, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said the reforms were necessary at a time when women’s football is growing, insisting the sport needed to “adopt a regulatory framework that is appropriate and suitable to the needs of the women’s game.”

Previously, cases of female players returning to competition at the top level after giving birth have been rare, although US World Cup-winning star Alex Morgan, 31, had a baby in May this year and has since returned to the sport, signing for English club Tottenham Hotspur.

AFP

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo walks with Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi (L) following a security briefing on Mount Bental in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights, near Merom Golan on the border with Syria, on November 19, 2020.  Patrick Semansky / POOL / AFP

 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday became the first top American diplomat to visit a West Bank Jewish settlement and the disputed Golan Heights, cementing Donald Trump’s strongly pro-Israel legacy.

On a farewell tour of the Middle East, Pompeo also said exports from the settlements could now be labelled as “Made in Israel” and called a boycott movement against the Jewish state a “cancer”.

Pompeo held no meetings with Palestinians, who protested his actions and dismissed them as the latest sign of the outgoing Trump administration’s strong bias against them.

Accompanied by Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, Pompeo travelled aboard a Blackhawk helicopter to the Golan Heights, a strategic territory the Jewish state seized from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War.

“You can’t stand here and stare out at what’s across the border and deny the central thing that President Donald Trump recognised… This is a part of Israel,” Pompeo said.

Last year, Trump’s administration controversially recognised Israeli sovereignty in the Golan, and Pompeo on Thursday condemned what he described as calls from “the salons in Europe and in the elite institutions in America” for Israel to return the Golan to Syria.

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi (L) speaks alongside US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo following a security briefing on Mount Bental in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights, near Merom Golan on the border with Syria, on November 19, 2020.  Patrick Semansky / POOL / AFP

 

“Imagine with (Syrian President Bashar) al-Assad in control of this place, the risk of the harm to the West and to Israel,” Pompeo said.

Syria’s foreign ministry called Pompeo’s visit a “provocative step”, warning that “such criminal visits encourage (Israel) to continue its dangerous hostile approach.”

– Anti-Semitic ‘cancer’ – Pompeo also said that Washington would designate as “anti-Semitic” the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which calls for a wide-ranging embargo against Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians.

“We will immediately take steps to identify organisations that engage in hateful BDS conduct and withdraw US government support for such groups,” he said after meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“We want to stand with all other nations that recognise the BDS movement for the cancer that it is.”

Israel sees BDS as a strategic threat and has long accused it of anti-Semitism, and a law passed in 2017 allows it to ban foreigners with links to the movement.

Activists strongly deny the charge, comparing it to the economic isolation that helped bring down apartheid in South Africa.

Condemning Pompeo’s announcement, Human Rights Watch said “the Trump administration has no business trying to tar groups because they back boycotts”, which it said had been used to advance social justice throughout American history.

Amnesty International called BDS a “form of non-violent advocacy and of free expression that must be protected”.

– West Bank visit – Pompeo — who has so far backed Trump in refusing to concede defeat to President-elect Joe Biden — is on what was likely his final major Europe and Middle East tour in the post.

Netanyahu, who has congratulated Biden, thanked Pompeo for his “unwavering support” of Israel, first as CIA director and later secretary of state.

On Thursday, Pompeo also became the first US top diplomat to visit a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, where the Psagot winery has named one of its red blends after him.

Winemaker Yaakov Berg, creator of the “Pompeo” wine, told AFP that the secretary of state’s support will ensure he is remembered by Jews “100 years from now”.

On the way there, Pompeo stopped at Qasr el-Yahud, revered as the site of the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan Valley.

Pompeo said a year ago that the US no longer considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank to be contrary to international law.

– Made in Israel’ – He took a further step Thursday, announcing that the US would now consider exports from much of the West Bank as “Made in Israel”.

The new guidelines, he said, apply especially to Area C, the large part of the West Bank where Israel retains full civil and military control and where much of the settler population lives.

Area C also includes the strategic Jordan Valley and many Palestinian communities, areas that Israel considers to be disputed.

Pompeo’s announcement seemed to imply that even Palestinian exports from Area C should be tagged as Israeli products — as should the wine he sampled at Psagot.

Regarding products from areas under Palestinian control, they must now be marked as coming from the West Bank or Gaza, the coastal enclave controlled by the Hamas Islamist group.

That decision effectively means that, at least through Trump’s remaining days in office, the US will not recognise exports as coming from the Palestinian Territories.

The decision on labelling “blatantly violates international law,” said Nabil Abu Rudeinah, a spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, dismissing it as yet another biased move by Trump’s administration.

AFP

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says its strength in Ebonyi State and the South East has remained intact.

PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus, stated this in his remarks at the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting held on Thursday in Abuja.

He made the statement in reaction to the defection of Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Secondus, who noted that the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) swiftly took necessary steps to protect and guard its strength in the state and the region, stressed that the real reason that informed the governor’s defection would be exposed soon.

He condemned what he described as the provocative reason of allegation of injustice against the South East by the party, given by the governor for his action.

The PDP national chairman stated that while the party would not join issues with Governor Umahi in any way, it would not bow to any blackmail.

He also briefed the meeting about the outcome of some of the decisions reached during the last NEC which was held in February, as well as the efforts of the PDP in the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States.

According to Secondus, one great lesson the party must learn from those elections is that it needs unity in order to be able to win future polls.

Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, speaks about his defection at a press conference on November 17, 2020.

 

He stated that the party, drawing from past experiences, would leave no stone unturned in its quest to return to Aso Villa in 2023.

Before he began his speech, the gathering observed a minute’s silence in honour of those who lost their lives to the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent #EndSARS protest.

Read the full text of the PDP National Chairman’s speech at the meeting below:

ADDRESS BY THE NATIONAL CHAIRMAN OF THE PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC PARTY, PDP, PRINCE UCHE SECONDUS ON THE OCCASION OF THE 90TH NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE (NEC) MEETING OF THE PARTY AT PDP NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS, WADATA PLAZA, ABUJA, 19th NOVEMBER, 2020

Protocols

Preamble

With utmost humility and gratitude to God I welcome you all to this very important meeting of our great party. I welcome you specially because this meeting is coming after a COVID-19 pandemic that shook and still shaking the global community.

According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC as at November 2020, the disease had caused the death of over 1,154 Nigerians out of over 63,000 confirmed cases from 700,000 persons tested. Nearly 3,000 persons are still officially infected in the country.

This meeting is also coming in the aftermath of the #ENDSARS peaceful protests by the youths against police brutality and bad governance and the subsequent looting and destruction by hoodlums that hijacked the process.

At this juncture may I crave the indulgence of NEC of our party to stand for a minute silence in honour of all those who died from COVID-19, as well as in the recent national youth protest ..(may their souls and those of the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen).

We are also praying for the quick recovery and God’s healing hands on those still suffering from the virus and the injured.

State of the Nation

Your Excellences, great leaders of our party, before the COVID-19 lockdown our country was already going through some socio-political and economic challenges all arising from the poor governance delivery by the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.

The security problem of the country has refused to abate, instead, it has multiplied with no clear solution in sight.

President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC government, under whose watch the situation got worsened and complicated has remained clearly helpless and incapable of providing the needed leadership.

#Endsars Protest And Its Fallout

Your Excellences, leaders of our party, a number of times both in NEC and other platforms PDP has had cause to cry out that the APC administration was doing nothing to improve the lives of the people.

That the youth unemployment situation in the country was growing at an alarming rate. We had also expressed deep concern at the growing human rights abuses in the system all due to the glaring indifference of the APC administration.

The consequences of all these came to the fore when the youths, last month poured out their anger on the country through a nationwide protest.

Even though the protest was triggered off by accumulated police brutality, particularly by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, it developed into a wider rebellion against injustice and poor leadership in the country.

Your Excellences, one significant fallout from the protest was the exposition of the poor management of the COVID-19 palliatives. Recall that our party had earlier cried out that the COVID-19 was becoming a huge window of corruption by federal government operatives.

Perhaps the most annoying aspect of the protest was that the causalities recorded, including the Tuesday 20th October night shooting of protesting youths at Lekki tollgate killing and injuring many, would have been averted if the government was responsive.

Instead, it took President Muhammadu Buhari almost two weeks of persuasion and cajoling from many Nigerians, including the Senate, before he agreed to address the nation on the issue after the damage was already done, youths killed by security agencies and property destroyed.

The protest opened a fresh dimension in the government-citizen relationship and underscored the fact that some fundamental actions are needed to get our polity going on the right track.

The Federal Government should address the fundamental issues raised by the youths rather than the counterproductive strategy of seeking to hound and intimidate perceived leaders of the peaceful protest by seizing their travel documents, freezing their accounts and arrests.

It must be emphasised that peaceful protest is a right in every democracy and guaranteed by the country’s constitution.

Party Affairs

When the current National Working Committee, NWC, under my watch came into office nearly three years ago, we based our programmes on 3Rs, to Reposition, Rebuild and to Regain.

I can confidently report to NEC that the programme is on course. We were able to reform the party ahead of 2019 general election enough to take us to victory if the APC regime had allowed the will of the people to prevail.

Number of PDP governors increased from 11 to 16 and would have been more if not for APC’s Electoral abracadabra in Osun, Kano, Kogi States and climaxed in Imo State with the shocking Supreme Court ruling.

At the National Assembly, as an opposition we were able to attract into our fold the Senate President and 16 senators, the Speaker and more than 34 House of Representatives members ahead of the 2019 elections, in addition to three seating state governors, Rt. Hon. Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto state, Dr Sam Ortom of Benue and Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State.

All these are as a result of our repositioning of the party that made it a huge brand. We restored integrity to our primaries.

On the off-season elections, we won the governorship in Bayelsa and Edo. The Party also prevailed in several bye-elections in Sokoto, Cross River, Taraba and Rivers States.

In our last NEC meeting in February, some far reaching decisions were taken including the rationalisation of the party workforce to bring it to a realistic level as an opposition party.

I wish to report to NEC that this was successfully carried out by the committee headed by His Excellency, Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State who did a good job and deserve commendation.

In our last NEC meeting, also a special committee to review and appraise the 2019 general election was set up. The Committee which is also headed by Governor Mohammed is already operational despite the delay caused by the COVID-19 lockdown.

Party Congresses

It was the reformed status of the party that saw us conduct the best ever presidential congress in this country where our candidate emerged transparently and all the other contestants congratulated the winner and resolved to support him.

It is also necessary to bring to the attention of NEC that despite the disruptions from the COVID-19 lockdown, we have been able to conduct congresses in most of the outstanding states and frantic efforts are also on ground to resolve some disputes arising from them in few states.

I must place on record, at this juncture, the cooperation we received from elders of our party in this regard particularly the members of the BOT.

Edo and Ondo States

Your Excellences, leaders, I have decided to isolate these two states because of their unique features.

The party was able to attract his Excellency Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State after he was shabbily treated by his party, the APC. He was able to get his second term for the September 19, 2020 governorship election flying our flag.

I must mention for appreciation the cooperation of party leaders across the country, particularly the Edo State members of our party for this success.

Also for commendation are the PDP Governors forum under the leadership of Hon. Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, the Chairman of Edo State National Campaign Council, His Excellency Nysom Wike of Rivers State and his team, as well as the governors of the South-South states.

Also for special commendations is the Chairman of the Ondo State National Campaign Council and Governor Seyi Makinde and his team. In Ondo State, we had similar circumstance but were undone in the October 10 governorship election.

We, however, have some lessons to draw from what happened in both Edo Ondo states.

Looking Ahead

Before I conclude, your excellences, leaders of our party, may I declare to you that the party is also being futuristic drawing experience from the past. We know as a fact that transparent election under the watch of APC is not feasible with the current Electoral Act.

We are liaising with our very reliable members in the National Assembly to ensure that a fraud-free law is put in place ahead of 2023.

Within our family also, we are putting all hands on deck to ensure we enter the next election stronger as one united and harmonious family and to achieve this, I solicit the full and undiluted cooperation of NEC.

On your behalf also, we are continuing in our extensive consultations with critical stakeholders to ensure that no stone is left unturned for our return to Aso Rock.

Gov. Umahi’s Defection Issue

Your Excellencies, you must have read the eventual defection of PDP Governor in Ebonyi State, His Excellency Dave Umahi to the ruling APC on Tuesday and his provocative reason of allegation injustice against South East by the party.

We have refused to join issues with him in any way, but we cannot bow to any blackmail. What I can report to NEC is that the strength of our party in Ebonyi State and South East is intact and the NWC has taken necessary steps to protect and guard it. The real season that informed this decision will soon be exposed.

Conclusion

As I conclude this address Your Excellences, leaders of our great party, may I report to you that our beloved country is in a very bad shape, the populace are groaning in pains and the government response to this is heaping further pains on them.

This country is sliding into bankruptcy, but the government is instead embarking in endless borrowing with no accountability on the already borrowed ones.

Federal Government themselves just reported last week that 428 agencies would not be able to pay salaries this November because of underfunding.

NEC may, therefore, wish to join other voices in charging the APC Federal Government to (show the cards).

#Stop borrowing,

#Stop mortgaging our future,

#Account for borrowed Funds

#Stop the Persecution of #Endsars Youth Protesters

#Respect Nigeria Youths

#Give Nigeria Youths a Voice.

#No to censoring of Social media

Indeed, this APC administration has not treated our youths fairly. This APC government branded them lazy, use them and then victimise them.

Issues that have to do with the development of our youths have been relegated to the background. The gains achieved by our youthful population in every sector of the life under PDP have all been destroyed by the APC which is doing everything to frustrate youthful attainments.

We must as a party therefore, work hard to ensure that the Nigerian youths are once again, given a voice in our country.

Our party will as a matter of policy restore the hope of our youths. We hereby invite the Nigeria youths to avail themselves of the ample opportunity in our party to participate in the political process ahead of 2023 election.

At the last count Nigeria debt profile is showing over 31 trillion naira a lot of it misappropriated.

While borrowing in economics is not bad, it depends on what the borrowed resources is being channeled for. With the unprecedented corruption in the system under APC watch, it would be difficult to see these borrowed funds properly deployed.

Amidst the frightening insecurity in the country accompanied by mass killings that has set fears on the people, what you get from government is multiple tariffs- Electricity, VAT, fuel hike and more, with its operatives indulging in lies and propaganda.

The worrisome situation here is that Nigerians do not really know who is in charge in the country today. It appears that governance in our country today is in autopilot with agencies and operatives in a free world harassing and intimidating perceived enemies.

Your Excellences, the situation generally is frightening and disheartening, but we must not despair because God is not finished with this country and with strong faith in him, we shall prevail.

Thanks for listening and God bless.

Prince Uche Secondus

National Chairman

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This combination of file pictures created on October 22, 2020 shows US President Donald Trump (L) and former Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020. JIM WATSON, Morry GASH / AFP
This combination of file pictures created on October 22, 2020 shows US President Donald Trump (L) and former Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020. JIM WATSON, Morry GASH / AFP

 

US President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday held his first talks since his victory with the prime ministers of Israel and India, allies of Donald Trump who has not conceded defeat.

Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had a notoriously rocky relationship with the last Democratic president, Barack Obama, that he was determined “to ensure that the US-Israel relationship is strengthened and enjoys strong bipartisan support.”

Biden “reiterated his steadfast support for Israel’s security and its future as a Jewish and democratic state,” the president-elect’s office said in a statement.

The office of Netanyahu, who had vigorously challenged the 2009-2017 Obama-Biden administration over its diplomacy with Iran and push for Palestinian rights, said he had a “warm” conversation with the president-elect.

Biden also spoke to President Reuven Rivlin, whose position is largely ceremonial.

“I said that as an old friend of Israel he knows our friendship is based on values beyond partisan politics,” Rivlin wrote on Twitter.

Biden separately voiced optimism about working with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had heaped praise on Trump in two giant joint rallies in Texas and Gujarat.

India enjoys support across party lines in Washington but Democratic lawmakers have increasingly voiced concern about human rights under the Hindu nationalist Modi, including his championing of a controversial citizenship law and revocation of autonomy in Muslim-majority Kashmir.

Biden said he hoped to cooperate with Modi on common challenges including the Covid pandemic, regional security, climate change and, in a delicate choice of words, on “strengthening democracy at home and abroad.”

The Indian foreign ministry said Modi for his part called for cooperation on promoting access to affordable vaccines and also conveyed greetings to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, whose mother was born in India.

Trump has refused to concede defeat two weeks after the election but the leaders of virtually all countries have congratulated Biden except Russia, Mexico, Brazil, North Korea and Slovenia.

Biden’s first calls took place with US allies who had tense ties with Trump including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

AFP

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Troops Take Selfies With Trump, Melania In Unannounced Iraq Visit
File photo: US President Donald Trump takes a photo as he greets members of the US military during an unannounced trip to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq on December 26, 2018. SAUL LOEB / AFP

 

The US Middle East commander said Thursday that troops in Iraq will be cut to 2,500 on President Donald Trump’s order, but that Baghdad wants a continued US presence to fight the Islamic State group.

Central Command Commander General Kenneth McKenzie told a conference that the continuing US presence has successfully limited the activities of Iran and the Islamic State.

Iran has recently curtailed attacks, McKenzie said, “based on the hope that we would be asked to leave Iraq through the government of Iraq’s political processes.”

However, he said, “the government of Iraq has clearly indicated it wants to maintain its partnership with the United States and coalition forces as we continue to finish the fight against ISIS.”

Speaking to an online conference held by the National Council on US-Arab Relations, McKenzie cited estimates that the Islamic State still has a body of 10,000 supporters in the Iraq-Syria region and remains a real threat.

“The progress of the Iraqi Security Forces has allowed has allowed the United States to reduce force posture in Iraq,” he said.

But US and coalition forces have to be there to help prevent Islamic State from reconstituting as a cohesive group able to plot major attacks, he said.

“When you’re running for your life up and down the Euphrates River Valley, listening to the noise of an armed MQ-9 drone overhead, it’s hard to think about conducting attack planning against Detroit.”

McKenzie said the US presence and measured retaliations had also successfully deterred Iran from persisting in attacks on Gulf shipping and limited its proxy attacks in Iraq.

“Today I believe Iran has been largely deterred because the regime now understands we possess both the capability and the will to respond,” he said.

AFP

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In this file photo taken on March 11, 2020, shows the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attending a press briefing on COVID-19 at the WHO headquarters in Geneva.  Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

 

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the world’s highest-profile Tigrayan, on Thursday denied accusations by Ethiopia’s army chief that he was lobbying for and seeking to arm leaders in the conflict-torn dissident region.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed unleashed a military campaign in the northern region on November 4 with the declared aim of unseating its ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which he accuses of defying his government and seeking to destabilise it.

Army chief Berhanu Jula told a press conference that Tedros, who served as health minister under TPLF leader Meles Zenawi, was “a part of that team”, referring to the party.

“He has worked in neighbouring countries to condemn the war. He has worked for them to get weapons,” said Berhanu, without offering evidence to support the claims.

He added that Tedros had “left no stone unturned” to help the TPLF.

Redwan Hussein, spokesman for an Ethiopian crisis committee handling the conflict, admitted “the government is not happy” with Tedros.

“The government is aware that he has been hustling and bustling, calling leaders and… institutions and asking them to… compel the government to sit and negotiate,” he told a press conference.

Tedros said that he saw the destructive nature of war as a child, and has “used that first-hand experience to always work for peace”.

“There have been reports suggesting I am taking sides in this situation. This is not true,” Tedros, 55, wrote on Twitter.

“I want to say that I am on only one side and that is the side of peace.”

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres gave his support to the WHO chief.

“We have all seen the work that he has been doing leading WHO,” he said, calling Tedros “an exemplary international civil servant”.

Tedros was appointed as the first African head of the WHO in 2017 and has become a household name as he grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic. He has been ranked as one of Time magazine’s most influential people.

Abiy’s government insists its target is the “reactionary and rogue” members of the TPLF and not average civilians in Tigray.

But observers have voiced concern about Tigrayans losing their jobs or being arrested for their ethnicity.

– ‘Closing in on Mekele’ – The TPLF led the overthrow of Mengistu Hailemariam, head of Ethiopia’s military Derg regime, in 1991 and dominated politics for three decades until the arrival of Abiy who was appointed in 2018.

The party has complained about being sidelined under Abiy, and scapegoated for the country’s woes. The bitter feud with the central government this year led the TPLF to hold their own elections in defiance of a postponement due to the pandemic.

On November 4, Abiy said the TPLF had attacked two federal military camps in the region, crossing a “red line”.

His controversial campaign has seen warplanes bombing Tigray and heavy fighting, while Amnesty International has documented a gruesome massacre.

A communications blackout in Tigray has made claims difficult to verify, but the overall death toll is believed to be in the hundreds.

Abiy this week insisted the military operation was in its final phase.

Redwan said that “our defence forces are moving forward and closing in on Mekele,” the regional capital.

He added that the northern town of Shire, where heavy fighting has been reported in recent days, was already in government hands.

A senior Tigrayan official, Wondimu Asamnew, said that Tigrayan forces “have adopted a defensive posture on all fronts”.

A statement from Tigray president Debretsion Gebremichael on Thursday said the army had “called upon assistance from an outside force, with drones starting to be used in the battle.”

– Humanitarian crisis – Meanwhile the UN says a “full-scale humanitarian crisis” is unfolding, with 36,000 people having streamed into neighbouring Sudan, according to that country’s refugee commission.

Redwan said that the government was planning to “convince and bring back our compatriots from Sudan and preparations are underway here.”

Since the start of fighting, hundreds of people have been arrested for allegedly conspiring with the TPLF, while 34 businesses had their bank accounts suspended for alleged links to the TPLF.

The federal police late Wednesday announced arrest warrants for 76 army officers, some retired, accused of conspiring with the TPLF and “committing treason”.

“We continue to receive credible reports of job suspensions of Tigrayan residents elsewhere in the country as fighting escalates in Tigray,” Laetitia Bader of Human Rights Watch told AFP last week.

“Given the incredibly tense and volatile context in the country, Ethiopian authorities should push back against language and measures that fuel intolerance and risk alienating Tigrayans from all walks of life.”

AFP

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Caption: Last Season’s Division 1 encounter between Kada Kings and Delta Force In Ilorin.

 

The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development has approved Top 8 National Volleyball Championship for males and females tagged the Super Cup.

The championship is scheduled to take place at the University of Ilorin Sports Complex in Kwara State, from November 19 to 29.

In a statement by Samuel Aduda, the acting Director of Federal Elite Athletes Development (FEAD), the ministry urged the Nigeria Volleyball Federation to ensure COVID-19 sports codes and protocols were observed.

“I am directed to convey to you that the honourable minister has given approval for the Federation to organise the 2020 Top 8 National Volleyball Championship.

“You are to ensure strict compliance with all COVID-19 sports codes and protocols during the Championship,” the statement said.

In his reaction, the President of the Federation, Musa Nimrod, commended the ministry’s decision to approve the championship and asked the League Management Committee to respect the protocols.

He said, “I must commend the minister for giving express approval of the Top 8 in Ilorin. The minister has shown his love and passion for sports in the country.

“I urge the League Management Committee to follow all laid down rules of the COVID-19 protocols by the Ministry of Sports”

The Super Cup will produce the champions of the volleyball league.

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