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Osinbajo Leads Commonwealth Observer Group to Sierra Leone

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Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has accepted to lead the Commonwealth Observer Group (COG) constituted by Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, to observe the Sierra Leone 2023 general elections.
Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice-President, said this in a statement on Friday in Abuja.


The secretary-general constituted the observer group, a team of distinguished experts upon the invitation from the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone for the June poll in the West African nation.

As the COG Chair, Osinbajo would be the leader and spokesperson of the group of distinguished experts drawn from around the world, interfacing between the group, the media and the authorities of the host country.

In a statement on Thursday, Scotland expressed gratitude to Osinbajo for accepting the invitation in spite of his busy schedule.
“As a senior statesman from the region, Osinbajo understands in depth, the challenges across West Africa and I am confident he will lead a brilliant team,” Scotland said.
Responding, Osinbajo welcomed the opportunity to lead the election observers in Sierra Leone on June 24.
“I’m highly honoured by the unique opportunity to continue to bring my expertise and experience in contributing to deepening democracy especially in Africa and the Commonwealth by extension,” he said.
According to the Commonwealth Secretariat, Osinbajo will be joined by recognised dignitaries from various fields including politicians, legal, media, gender and election administration professionals from across the Commonwealth to carry out the task in June.
The mandate of the Osinbajo-led Commonwealth Observer Group in Sierra Leone would be to observe the electoral process and provide an independent assessment of whether the election has been conducted in a credible manner.
The group will then report on the conduct of the elections in accordance with the standards to which Sierra Leone has committed itself, including its own laws.
“In line with Commonwealth methodology, the group will consider, among other things, whether conditions exist for credible and inclusive elections, including a fair election environment; whether public media has been impartial; the transparency of the entire process; and whether voters are free to express their will.
“The group, upon completion of its assignment, will submit its recommendations in a report to the Commonwealth secretary-general, who will subsequently share it with the Government of Sierra Leone, the Electoral Commission, political parties and all Commonwealth governments,” the Secretariat said.
The vice-president, on behalf of the Nigerian government, had been at the forefront of championing democratic governments especially in the West African sub-region, under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
On several occasions, Osinbajo had represented President Muhammadu Buhari and Nigeria at different sessions of the Authority of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government.(NAN)

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Putin Demands Ukrainian Troop Withdrawal in Exchange for Peace

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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday said the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from the territories annexed by his country is a prerequisite for any settlement of the ongoing war.

Putin said this during a visit to the Foreign Ministry in Moscow ahead of the Ukraine peace summit in Switzerland at the weekend.

If Ukraine also renounces membership of NATO, Russia would be prepared to cease fire and enter negotiations immediately.

His speech was clearly aimed at the current G7 summit in Italy and the Ukraine event opening on Saturday in the Swiss mountain hotel resort of Bürgenstock.

The affiliation of the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhya and Kherson to Russia is no longer in question, Putin said.

Ukraine should withdraw its army from the parts of these regions that it still controls, he added.

The Kremlin leader said he was stating Russia’s minimum demands in order not to freeze the conflict but to resolve it once and for all.

At the same time, Putin repeated the demands he made when he ordered the invasion of the neighbouring country in February 2022: The creation of a neutral, non-aligned and nuclear-free Ukraine.

The country should also be disarmed and “denazified,” said Putin, using a term widely interpreted in the West as meaning the instalment of a Russia-approved leadership in Kiev.

Russia currently occupies around a fifth of Ukraine’s territory, including the Crimean peninsula, which it illegally annexed in 2014.

Ukraine has so far adhered to its stated goal of retaking the occupied territory, including Crimea.

President Volodymyr Zelensky is also calling for the prosecution of Russian war crimes and Russian reparations for the destruction caused. (dpa/NAN) 

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Biden Accuses Trump of Using ‘Hitler’s Language in Newspaper Mock-up

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U.S. President Joe Biden has accused his predecessor and likely election opponent Donald Trump of using Nazi rhetoric following the publication of a video referencing a “unified Reich.’’

Trump is using “Hitler’s language’’.

That’s not America’s, Biden said in a campaign video released.

In the short clip, the Democrat held a phone in his hand and said, referencing the video, is this on his official account? Wow.

Earlier, on Monday, Trump had shared a video which was later deleted on his social media site Truth Social, showing mocks of newspaper articles that would be written if Trump won the presidential election in November.

Among the bits of text featured was a subheading referring to the creation of a unified Reich.

The term, empire in German, is often associated with the Third Reich under Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime from 1933 to 1945.

The word Reich in the video presumably refers to the founding of the German Reich in 1871, with the text being taken from a Wikipedia entry on World War I, according to U.S. media.

The video was created using a ready-made newspaper article mask.

According to the reports, it has also been used in other clips circulating online,.

Other newspaper headlines in the video published on Trump’s platform also make reference to World War I.

Trump’s team later confirmed that the clip had been removed from his account.

A spokeswoman for his campaign team said that “it was not a campaign video, it was created by a random account online and reposted by a staffer who clearly did not see the word.’’

Biden also attacked the Republican, who is hoping to return to the White House, at a campaign event in Boston on Tuesday.

The 81-year-old said that “the threat that Trump poses is greater in the second term than it was in the first,’’ according to reporters travelling with him.

He called Trump a little unhinged and accused him of seeking revenge after losing the 2020 presidential election.

Biden and Trump were all but guaranteed to face off on Nov. 5 in a rematch of the 2020 vote.

They both achieved the required number of delegates to be nominated as candidates of the Democratic and Republican parties respectively.

Trump has been using radical rhetoric in his election campaign, including hateful and dehumanising language, as well as making racist statements and inciting hatred against minorities.

The 77-year-old also compared Biden’s government to the Gestapo, the official secret police of Nazi Germany. (dpa/NAN)

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France Rejects Recognising Palestinian state at Present

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France’s Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné has rejected the idea of recognising Palestine as a state at the moment.

“Our position is clear:  recognition of Palestine is not taboo for France,” the minister said on Wednesday after a meeting with his Israeli counterpart Israel Katz in Paris.

The minister, however, said that  decision in favour of the recognition must be beneficial and would be made at the right time.

He said that such a decision should  enable decisive progress at the political level.

“It is not just a symbolic question or a question of political positioning, but a diplomatic instrument in the service of a solution with two states living side-by-side in peace and security.

“France does not believe that the conditions have been met to date for this decision to have a real impact on this process,” Séjourné said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Norway, Ireland and Spain said they would recognise Palestine as a state on May 28.

Katz’s visit to Paris followed France’s position in favour of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which chief prosecutor applied for arrest warrants on Monday against Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant.

The Paris Foreign Ministry stated that it supported the ICC, its independence and the fight against impunity in all situations.

After the meeting with Katz, Séjourné wrote on X: “I reaffirmed France’s priorities: immediate release of the hostages, ceasefire, massive humanitarian aid and two states living in peace and security.”

(dpa/NAN)

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