Trump Moves Against Venezuela’s Maduro, Freezes Country’s Assets
US President, Donald Trump, has ordered the immediate frozen of assets of the Venezuelan government due to the “continued usurpation of power” by the country’s leader, Nicolas Maduro.
Trump, in an Executive signed in Washington on Monday said the sanctions took effect immediately and present the latest bid by US to force out of office Maduro who claimed his country’s top kob last year in a hotly disputed ballot.
The U.S. has already used sanctions to target Venezuelan government officials, the central bank and its state-run oil and gas sector, from which the country derives the vast majority of its export earnings.
The Venezuelan economy has collapsed under Maduro, with inflation reaching 130,060 per cent last year and shortages of food and medicines driving millions of people abroad.
The leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, Juan Guaido, declared himself interim president in January but despite immediately winning the support of dozens of countries has failed to dislodge Maduro.
On Monday however, Trump accused Maduro’s government of “human rights abuses, arbitrary arrest and detention of Venezuelan citizens, curtailment of free press, and ongoing attempts to undermine Interim President Juan Guaido of Venezuela and the democratically-elected Venezuelan National Assembly.”
The announcement came a day ahead of the International Conference for Democracy in Venezuela in the Peruvian capital Lima, a meeting of representatives from than 50 countries seeking to find a peaceful solution to the crisis in Venezuela.
Trump’s hawkish National Security Advisor John Bolton is to represent the U.S. at the meeting.
In a tweet published around the same time as the executive order, Bolton said he was looking forward to a “productive day”. (dpa/NAN)
Agba Leads Govt Delegation to South Korea on Bilateral Cooperation
By Tony Obiechina, Abuja
Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, is at the head of a Nigerian government’s delegation to Seoul, South Korea, for a week-long mission for strategic dialogues with the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and Korea-Africa Foundation (KAF).
The visit is intended to, among other purposes, forge new frontiers of mutual cooperation between the countries and deepen existing bilateral ties.
As a prelude to the series of meetings and dialogue sessions, Agba met with the Nigerian Ambassador to South Korea, Ali Mohammed Magashi, with top officials in the Embassy, and discussed cross-cutting issues bordering on the status of the bilateral relations between Nigeria and South Korea.
Issues that featured during the discussions included outstanding Agreements such as the Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement; Labour; Avoidance of Double Taxation to be concluded to further boost the investment climate and the volume of trade of USD 2 billion in 2021 and the way forward.
The Minister took the opportunity of the meeting to shed light on the Nigeria’s National Development Plan 2021- 2025 and the investment opportunities for the South Korean private investors in key sectors such as Agriculture, Manufacturing, ICT, Oil and Gas (midstream) to accelerate the country’s economic growth that is already diversified.
He urged the ambassador to canvass for investments in the identified sectors in pursuance of Nigeria’s unwavering effort at ensuring and consolidating its concentric diversification of the national economy.
At the meeting with the President of the 5-year-old Korea-Africa Foundation, Mr Lyeo Woon-Ki, the minister applauded the purpose of establishing the Foundation as an affiliate of the South Korean’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is to, among other things, foster business and cultural cooperation between the country and African continent as well as promote genuine partnership in political and academic spheres.
He noted that South Korea had a vibrant private sector and gave insight into the plan envisaged for the sector in the NDP 2021-2025 for investment in Nigeria.
The minister allayed the fears expressed by the Foundation President regarding doing business in Nigeria and apprised him of the immigration and customs reforms in place and the country’s upward leap, by 20 points, in the ease of doing business ranking.
He also paid a courtesy visit to the Acting President of Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), Mr. Youn-Young Lee.
As a grant aid provider under the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the minister lauded the “excellent cordial relationship” between the Federal Government of Nigeria and KOICA since it began operations in 2008.
He thanked the President of the Republic of South Korea, His Excellency, Yoon Suk Yeol, the Government and people of South Korea for the prestigious National Award of Diplomatic Service Merit (Heungin Medal) recently awarded to him in Abuja as first recipient in Africa.
Agba said the several grant aids and technical cooperation projects implemented by the Agency had been impactful.
He acknowledged the various KOICA-supported capacity-building training extended to the Nigerian government officials in several fields of human endeavours as well as technical cooperation.
The training, according to him, “covers short-term, long-term, Masters and Postgraduate scholarship programmes and in-country training programme.”
The minister noted the future areas of cooperation mentioned by the KOICA President and confirmed their alignment with Nigeria’s priorities as encapsulated in the NDP 2021-2025.
Meanwhile, the Minister, consequent upon receiving a report about a Nigerian family who lost four children in domestic fire that razed their apartment in Ansan Danwon, on the outskirts of Seoul, decided to pay the family and the Nigerian community in Ansan Danwon a condolence visit.
The visit happened on Monday, March 27, 2023, in company with the Nigerian Ambassador to South Korea.
They condoled with the Nigerian family of seven, Mr. Felix Nwafor, who lost four children (2 boys and 2 girls) to an inferno that occurred in the early hours of that day. The couple and a two-year old daughter who survived are receiving medical attention at a Korean Hospital in the area.
Thuggery, Intimidation, Attacks, Abductions Characterise Recent Polls – EU Mission
The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU-EOM), has said that there were at least 21 reported deaths in the just concluded general election.
The election monitoring group said the fatalities were recorded on election day.
In its second preliminary report released yesterday, the EU-EOM said there were “multiple incidents of thuggery and intimidation” that interrupted polls in several voting units across the country on election day.
The EU-EOM said, “obstruction and organised violence limited the free expression of the will of the voters, despite efforts by civil society to promote democratic standards”.
It also said vote-buying was recorded in the election, affecting the proper conduct of the exercise.
“The 25 February post-election environment was largely peaceful, with parties appealing to supporters for calm. However, a few days before the 18 March elections, violence abruptly increased with more than a dozen attacks and abductions of candidates by thugs and unidentified gunmen, some of which resulted in fatalities. Violence shortly before and on election day appeared to strategically suppress voter participation,” the report reads.
“Overall, on election day, multiple incidents of thuggery and intimidation interrupted polling in various locations, primarily across the south but also in states in the central and northern areas. There were reportedly some 21 fatalities. In polling units in several states, violent incidents targeted voters, INEC personnel, citizen observers, and journalists.
“Most polling units opened with materials and personnel deployed on time, although a dismal level of voter participation meant less pressure on INEC operations throughout the day. Vote-buying, also observed by EU EOM observers, further detracted from the appropriate conduct of the elections.”
The election observers said journalists were attacked while carrying out their duty and that security operatives turned blind eyes instead of prosecuting the attackers.
“Law enforcement agencies failed to prosecute persons who attacked, intimidated or harassed journalists during or after the presidential polls in at least five southern states with fiercely contested state-level races,” the EU-EOM said.
“In two further states, police arrested two journalists on bogus charges. EU EOM observers confirmed 10 incidents involving media; only in one instance, police opened a case.
“Impunity encouraged by police inaction is detrimental to freedom of expression, particularly as independent and trusted outlets are targeted. This does not accord with Nigeria’s regional and international commitments to the protection of the media.”
AU commends Aisha Buhari over Peace Mission
The First Lady, Dr. Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, has commended the African Union (AU) Commission for its efforts to strengthen the African First Ladies Peace Mission (AFLPM). She was speaking while receiving a 6-man delegation from the Commission, on Friday, March 17, 2023, at the State House, Abuja.
Mrs.Buhari, who is the elected president of the African First Ladies Peace Mission, recognized the contributions of the Commission, especially in the area of peacebuilding and conflict resolution on the African continent, harping on the need for more women’s involvement.
“Africa has many present and past First Ladies who are willing and ready to provide their services to this cause and all they need is a platform like the Africa First Ladies Peace Mission.” She said.
She said the building of the headquarters of the Mission was conceived by Nigeria to provide such a platform that will also serve as a secure environment for women of all shades and ages to connect. The building, which she said is 90% complete, is to be commissioned in May 2023.
She thanked the President of the Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat for his positive contributions in the area of conflict prevention, management, and resolution in Africa.
Earlier, the Head of the AU delegation, Ambassador Adeoye Bankole, Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, conveyed the message of appreciation to the First Lady, expressing the full support and commitment of the Commission to her initiatives as President of AFLPM and noted that the construction of a Secretariat for the Mission is an expression of her zeal and commitment, and her work exemplified what visionary first ladies everywhere should be doing.
He said the support of the AU Commission to the Mission is in line with Agenda 2063 of the AU and UN Security Council Resolution 1325, both of which provide for the involvement of women in peace and security.
Earlier, the team had inspected the construction work at the headquarters building of the AFLPM.
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