Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ramaphosa Urgently Deployed to Lesotho
2015-06-30 06:03

Johannesburg - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has been urgently sent to Lesotho to consult with Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili following fears of more political instability in the country.

The decision was taken by President Jacob Zuma, who is the chairperson of the SADC organ on politics, defence and security co-operation, the Southern Development Community (SADC) said in a statement on Tuesday.

Ramaphosa is the SADC facilitator on Lesotho.

The decision to deploy him was taken after three opposition party leaders fled the country and the killing of former Lesotho Defence Force commander Brigadier Maarparankoe Mahao, SADC said.

Mahao was allegedly shot dead by soldiers in his home on the outskirts of Maseru on Thursday.

'Explosive security situation in Lesotho'

Zuma, in his SADC capacity, sent a ministerial organ fact finding mission to Lesotho from Friday, June 26 to Monday, June 29, to assess the latest political and security developments in the country.

"After receiving the report of the fact finding mission, President Zuma has become more concerned about the apparent explosive security situation in Lesotho," SADC said.

This informed his decision to urgently send Ramaphosa to Lesotho.

"Further, President Zuma is sending a special envoy to the chair of SADC, HE Robert Mugabe, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe to share his deep concerns about the security situation in Lesotho as contained in the ministerial fact finding mission."

Zuma condemned the killing of Mahao, which he said was an unfortunate and tragic incident which undermined Lesotho's efforts towards a peaceful transition following elections in February.

He sent his condolences to the Mahao family, King Lestsie III, the government and the people of Lesotho.
Mali Calls for Calm After Jihadist Attack
TVC NEWS [BAMAKO] - Malian government appealed for calm on Monday after jihadists ransacked a town near the Ivory Coast border in the second attack in the south in less than three weeks.

TVC NEWS reliably gathered that fighters carrying an Islamist flag took control of part of the town of Fakola on Sunday, attacking security forces and damaging a number of public buildings, including the town hall and police station, according to locals.

According to a government statement posted on Facebook on Monday, the army had been deployed to the area to hunt down the jihadists, who escaped after ending their brief occupation.

"The government of the republic of Mali strongly condemns these barbaric attacks aimed at sabotaging the actions for peace and stability in
Mali," it said.

"The government... asks the population to remain calm and cooperate with the defence and security forces in their fight against terrorism."

Despite the recent signing of a peace accord between the government and a coalition of rebel groups, Mali remains deeply divided among rival armed factions and is battling an ongoing Islamist insurgency.

A local politician and residents said the attackers, who chanted verses from the Koran, were members of the jihadist militia Ansar Dine, which normally operates in Mali's northern desert.

Incursions in the south remain extremely rare, although the group was said to have been behind an ambush less than three weeks ago in the nearby town of Misseni, when jihadists killed a policeman and hoisted their flag at a military base. No deaths were reported in Sunday's
attack.

Ansar Dine took control of northern Mali in 2012 alongside other jihadist factions linked to Al-Qaeda, before being ousted by a French-led international military intervention.

- See more at: http://www.tvcnews.tv/?q=article/mali-calls-calm-after-jihadist-attack#sthash.nCyje8Hw.dpuf
Voting in Burundi 'Slow' in Several Districts
2015-06-30 07:34

Bujumbura - Burundians voted for a new parliament on Monday after a night of sporadic blasts and gunshots and weeks of violent protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza's attempt to win a third term in office.

Voting appeared slow in several districts for an election boycotted by the opposition and condemned by the international community as lacking the conditions to ensure it was fair.

"We don't see many people," one diplomat said.

The European Union, a major donor to the aid-reliant country, threatened on Monday to withhold more funds after Burundi ignored the UN and African calls for a postponement of the parliamentary vote and a presidential election on July 15.

In Washington, State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner said there were "woefully inadequate conditons for free and fair elections" in Burundi and said the United States was "deeply disappointed" in the decision to go ahead with the vote.

Political crisis

The government has pressed on with the election schedule despite going through its worst political crisis since an ethnically-charged civil war ended in 2005. But opponents say the president's bid to stand again violates the constitution.

Aimable Niyonkuru, 20, once a supporter of Nkurunziza's CNDD-FDD party, said he would not vote because the president had not improved the economy or delivered on other promises.

"I am really disappointed about what all politicians are doing," he said.

Dozens of people queued at a polling station in one district in the capital Bujumbura, but in areas that have seen the most unrest against the president, there was little sign of any election.

Nkurunziza, a rebel commander-turned-president who has built a powerbase mostly in rural areas with a down-to-earth style, cycled from his village in north Burundi to vote at a nearby polling station, one witness said.

Almost 140,000 people, or more than 1 percent of the population of 10 million, have fled across the country's borders, stoking concern in a region with a history of ethnic conflict, particularly in neighbouring Rwanda which saw genocide in 1994.

A presidential spokesman said voting was proceeding smoothly and African and European states could not judge the process before it was completed. He also said any further delay in the votes was "out of the question".

The president cites a court ruling saying he is permitted to run for a third term and has refused to back down. Dozens have died in the unrest since April when he said he would run again.

Blasts

Sounds of shooting and at least two explosions were heard overnight in Bujumbura. A witness reported another blast in Bujumbura's Musaga district on Monday morning.

The private Iwacu newspaper website cited police as saying two grenades exploded in Mayuyu district about 25km southeast of the capital. A police spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

A spate of such attacks in recent days has killed four people and wounded dozens.

The European Union said Burundi's decision to ignore the UN and other international demands to delay voting further was a "serious matter" and could lead to more aid being withheld.

The EU, European nations and the United States have already halted some funds, including support for the elections. European states together fund about half of Burundi's annual budget.

"The organization of legislative elections on June 29 without establishing the minimum requirements to ensure their credibility, transparency and inclusiveness, can only exacerbate the deep crisis in Burundi," the European Union said.

The African Union said on Sunday it would not send observers as it did not believe voting would be fair. The European Union also said it was withdrawing its observers.

"Not being there means they are playing the game of the radical opposition who have boycotted the process," presidential spokespersonGervais Abayeho said, adding the UN observers were still monitoring the vote.

Critics have said basic requirements for a fair poll mean ensuring the media operates freely and that the ruling party's Imbonerakure youth wing and other groups are disarmed. The CNDD-FDD dismisses charges its youths are armed.


Burundi votes in boycott-hit poll; blasts, gunfire heard

BUJUMBURA
BY CLEMENT MANIRABARUSHA

Burundians voted for a new parliament on Monday after a night of sporadic blasts and gunshots and weeks of violent protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza's attempt to win a third term in office.

Voting appeared slow in several districts for an election boycotted by the opposition and condemned by the international community as lacking the conditions to ensure it was fair.

"We don't see many people," one diplomat said.

The European Union, a major donor to the aid-reliant country, threatened on Monday to withhold more funds after Burundi ignored U.N. and African calls for a postponement of the parliamentary vote and a presidential election on July 15.

In Washington, State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said there were "woefully inadequate conditions for free and fair elections" in Burundi and said the United States was "deeply disappointed" in the decision to go ahead with the vote.

The government has pressed on with the election schedule despite going through its worst political crisis since an ethnically-charged civil war ended in 2005. But opponents say the president's bid to stand again violates the constitution.

Aimable Niyonkuru, 20, once a supporter of Nkurunziza's CNDD-FDD party, said he would not vote because the president had not improved the economy or delivered on other promises.

"I am really disappointed about what all politicians are doing," he said.

Dozens of people queued at a polling station in one district in the capital Bujumbura, but in areas that have seen the most unrest against the president, there was little sign of any election.

Nkurunziza, a rebel commander-turned-president who has built a powerbase mostly in rural areas with a down-to-earth style, cycled from his village in north Burundi to vote at a nearby polling station, one witness said.

Almost 140,000 people, or more than 1 percent of the population of 10 million, have fled across the country's borders, stoking concern in a region with a history of ethnic conflict, particularly in neighboring Rwanda which saw genocide in 1994.

A presidential spokesman said voting was proceeding smoothly and African and European states could not judge the process before it was completed. He also said any further delay in the votes was "out of the question".

The president cites a court ruling saying he is permitted to run for a third term and has refused to back down. Dozens have died in the unrest since April when he said he would run again.

BLASTS

Sounds of shooting and at least two explosions were heard overnight in Bujumbura. A witness reported another blast in Bujumbura's Musaga district on Monday morning.

The private Iwacu newspaper website cited police as saying two grenades exploded in Mayuyu district about 25 km (15 miles) southeast of the capital. A police spokesman could not be reached for comment.

A spate of such attacks in recent days has killed four people and wounded dozens.

The European Union said Burundi's decision to ignore U.N. and other international demands to delay voting further was a "serious matter" and could lead to more aid being withheld.

The EU, European nations and the United States have already halted some funds, including support for the elections. European states together fund about half of Burundi's annual budget.

"The organization of legislative elections on June 29 without establishing the minimum requirements to ensure their credibility, transparency and inclusiveness, can only exacerbate the deep crisis in Burundi," the European Union said.

The African Union said on Sunday it would not send observers as it did not believe voting would be fair. The European Union also said it was withdrawing its observers.

"Not being there means they are playing the game of the radical opposition who have boycotted the process," presidential spokesman Gervais Abayeho said, adding U.N. observers were still monitoring the vote.

Critics have said basic requirements for a fair poll mean ensuring the media operates freely and that the ruling party's Imbonerakure youth wing and other groups are disarmed. The CNDD-FDD dismisses charges its youths are armed.

(Additional reporting by Adrian Croft in Brussels and Tom Miles in Geneva; writing by Edmund Blair; editing by Andrew Roche and G Crosse)
Tunisia Sees Losses of $515 Million for Tourism This Year After Beach Attack
TUNIS | BY TAREK AMARA

A tourist reads messages left at a makeshift memorial at the beach near the Imperial Marhaba resort, which was attacked by a gunman in Sousse, Tunisia, June 29, 2015. (REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra)

Tunisia expects to lose at least $515 million this year, or about a quarter of its estimated annual tourism earnings, following last Friday's attack on a beach hotel that killed 39 people, mostly British holidaymakers.

The attack by a gunman on the Imperial Marhaba beach hotel in the popular resort town of Sousse came just months after militants attacked the Bardo museum in Tunis, killing 21 people, and delivering a blow to the country's vital tourism industry.

"The attack had a great impact on the economy, the losses will be large," Tourism Minister Salma Loumi told reporters late on Monday, giving a preliminary estimate from the Sousse attack.

The North African country earned $1.95 billion in revenues from tourism last year. The sector makes up seven percent of its gross domestic product and is a major source of foreign currency and employment for Tunisia.

Loumi said the government planned to end a visitors' tax and also to review debt relief for hotel operators as ways to help sustain the industry.

The government has said 1,000 more armed tourism police will patrol hotels and tourism sites and the army reserves will also be drafted in to beef up protection.

Authorities have arrested suspects tied to the attacker, but have given few details.

Investigators are also verifying whether the attacker, a student, Saif Rezgui, spent time training in jihadist camps in neighboring Libya. He gave few clues about his radicalisation to family and friends in his hometown.

Praised for its mostly peaceful transition to democracy after a 2011 uprising to oust autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia has also struggled with the rise of fundamentalist Islamist movements which flourished in the early turmoil.

Some of those groups turned to violence and Tunisia's armed forces have been fighting occasional skirmishes with local Islamist militants near the border with Algeria.

But more than 3,000 Tunisians have also left to fight for militant Islamist groups in Syria, Iraq and Libya, and some have threatened to return to carry out attacks in their homeland.

(writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Gareth Jones)
3 Killed, 13 Injured Following a Bomb Attack in North Sinai
Ahram Online
Monday 29 Jun 2015

The dead and injured were transferred to Al Arish public hospital

Three people were killed and 13 others were injured on Monday in the North Sinai village El Kharouba, following a bomb attack on a vehicle belonging to the roads and bridges authority, as they conducted work in the area.

The dead and injured were workers from the roads and bridges authority.

The incident took placeon the road between Al Arish and Sheikh Zowaid where Al Kharouba is located.

Both the dead and injured bodies were transferred to Al Arish's public hospital while the prosecution began carrying out investigations into the incident.

Deputy-governor of North Sinai, Sameh Eissa, visited the injured people in the hospital and ordered the supply of all required medical treatments, as well as facilitating the transfer of cases requiring treatment to any other governorate.

Hundreds of police and soldiers, as well as civilians, have been killed in militant attacks in recent months, mostly in North Sinai.

Sinai-based militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State militant group late last year, claim most attacks against the army and police personnel in the peninsula.

Egypt's army has been fighting a decade-long militant Islamist insurgency that has increased since the ouster of Egypt's first elected president, Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi, in the summer of 2013 following nationwide mass protests against his rule.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/134062.aspx
Cairo Court Continues to Examine Evidence in Morsi's Qatar Espionage Trial
Ahram Online
Monday 29 Jun 2015

Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted in July 2013, faces charges of using his post as president to leak classified documents to Qatar

Cairo Criminal Court resumes on Monday the trial of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and ten others in the Qatar espionage case.

Morsi, who was ousted in July 2013, faces charges of using his post to leak classified documents to Qatar, with the help of aides and Muslim Brotherhood figures.

The court is expected to continue examining evidence and documents on Monday.

The prosecution charged Morsi and the head of his office, Ahmed Abdel-Ati, with leaking secret information on general and military intelligence, the armed forces, its armaments and other state policy secrets to harm the country's vital institutions and state security.

The two are accused of using their positions to pass the files from the presidency offices to Amin El-Serafy, a presidential secretary, who then passed the documents to his daughter Karima.

Karima then handed the documents to a third party that orchestrated a final delivery operation to the Qataris.

The rest of the defendants, who include Ahmed Afify, a documentary producer; Mohamed Kilany, a flight attendant; Ahmed Ismaiel, a teaching assistant; along with Khaled Radwan and Asmaa El-Khatib – both journalists at pro-Brotherhood TV channels – are charged with turning over copies of the classified documents to two individuals on the staff of the Qatari-based Al-Jazeera, and an unknown Qatari intelligence officer.

Three of the defendants are being tried in absentia.

Some of the defendants allegedly asked for a million dollars from the Al-Jazeera editor and the Qatari officer, in return for the information which they gave them along with an offer of more money.

Other charges include leading and joining an outlawed group – the Brotherhood – which aims at changing the regime by force, and attacking army and police posts and public property.

Morsi has been standing in four other trials.

He was recently sentenced to death on charges of murder and attempted murder during a prison break from the Wadi Natroun prison in 2011 which explains why he appears wearing the red uniform reserved for prisoners to be executed.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/134012.aspx
Cairo Court to Issue Al-Jazeera Journalists Verdict on 30 July
El-Sayed Gamal El-Din
Monday 29 Jun 2015

The journalists together with five other defendants were initially sentenced to between six and ten years in jail

Cairo Criminal Court said on Monday it would issue its verdict in the retrial of two Al-Jazeera journalists on 30 July.

The prosecution accused the journalists, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, of joining a terrorist group, the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, and "spreading false news harmful to national security."

The defendants retain the right to appeal the verdict before a cassation court.

Both Fahmy and Mohamed were released on bail in February after over a year in prison. A third Al-Jazeera journalist charged in the case, Peter Greste, was deported to Australia in February.

They were initially arrested in December 2013 and sentenced to between six and ten years in jail.

Five other defendants, other than the three Al-Jazeera journalists, were also charged in this case and are also facing retrial.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/134038.aspx
Egypt's Top Prosecutor Dies From Injuries Sustained in Bomb Attack
Ahram Online
Monday 29 Jun 2015

This is the first successful assassination attempt against a state official since an upswing in violence following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013

Egypt's top prosecutor Hisham Barakat died from injuries sustained in a Cairo bomb attack on Monday, the first successful assassination attempt against a state official since an upswing in violence following the 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Barakat suffered internal bleeding in the lungs and stomach and fractures to the nose and left shoulder, health ministry spokesperson Hossam Abdel-Ghaffar told Ahram Online. He was taken to the operating room at Al-Nozha hospital in Heliopolis, where he succumbed to his injuries hours after the attack.

Nine people, including two drivers and five members of the security forces, were injured when a bomb hit the prosecutor's convoy near the military academy in the upscale district of Heliopolis, Abdel-Ghaffar said. The blast damaged the fronts of nine houses and destroyed 31 vehicles, four of which were torched, a security source told state news agency MENA.

A car bomb had parked in a street near Barakat's house, through which his convoy would pass every day on his way to work, the justice ministry said. When it went off, Barakat's vehicle, along with others, were swept away and quickly caught fire.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.

A judicial source said that Zakaria Abd El-Aziz has been appointed as Egypt's acting prosecutor-general following the assassination of Barakat, the Ahram Arabic news website has reported. Abd El-Aziz, who was a judge at the Cairo Court of Appeal, had served as assistant prosecutor-general since April.

Egypt's state TV has reported that a military funeral will take place for Barakat Tuesday noon in El-Moshir Tantawy Mosque in Cairo's upper class Fifth Settlement.

"Egypt has lost a great judicial figure who has shown dedication to work and commitment to the ethics of the noble judicial profession," Egypt's presidency said in a statement, describing the attack as an "act of terrorism".

The presidency also announced the cancelation of celebrations commemorating the second anniversary of the 30 June events, in which Morsi was ousted from power.

The US embassy in Cairo issued a short statement describing the incident as a "heinous terrorist attack", part of worldwide condemnation of Barakat's killing.

President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi met with Interior Minister Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar right after the attack. El-Sisi urged the ministry to tighten security measures and find the perpetrators.

Foreign Affairs Minister Sameh Shoukry mourned the loss of Barakat and renewed calls for the international community to rise up to the level of terrorist threat worldwide in order to eliminate it.

Egypt's political parties from across the political spectrum, including the ultra-conservative Salafist Nour Party and left-of-center Constitution Party, also condemned the attack and mourned the loss of Barakat. "All Egyptians should unite now to face the terrorism," said Essam Khalil, secretary general of the liberal Free Egyptians Party.

Egyptian stocks fell following the assassination of Barakat. Benchmark index, EGX30, usually drops after major militant attacks.

Earlier on Monday, the Islamic State-affiliated jihadist group Sinai Province, previously known as Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis before proclaiming allegiance to IS, released a video that shows their attack on judges in North Sinai's Al-Arish in May. A title at the bottom of the screen reads "Assassination of five of the tyrant's judges."

The IS-affiliated Sinai Province claimed responsibility for a number of large-scale militant attacks across Egypt, including the previous assassination attempt against a state official, which former Egypt interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim escaped unscathed in September 2013. The bomb attack on Ibrahim in Cairo left one civilian dead and 21 injured, including six policemen and a child.

Islamist militants, who have primarily targeted security forces since the removal of Morsi over the past two years, have more recently targeted several judges amid the conviction of many Morsi supporters in terror-related cases. In January, a bomb attack targeting judge Khaled Mahgoub, who is representing the general prosecution in Morsi's jailbreak trial, caused damage to the windows and walls of his house.

In March, a small bomb was left in front of the house of judge Fathi Bayoumi, who investigated the corruption charges against Mubarak-era interior minister Habib El-Adly. The words "a gift for El-Adly's acquittal" were scribbled on a wall near the attack.

Ahmed Ban, a researcher specialised in Islamist groups, told Ahram Online that the attack on Barakat's convoy was "expected”, especially within the current context of "inciting" religious preachers supporting "terrorist groups", and the previous targeting of judges and judicial figures. "All these indicators allowed us to predict a major attack against the judiciary," he said.

Barakat took over as Egypt's chief prosecutor following the reign of a "private" prosecution chosen by the Muslim Brotherhood under Morsi, Ban added, and so it is understandable that he would top a hit list.

Sixty-five-year-old Barakat was sworn in as Egypt's top prosecutor under the rule of interim president Adly Mansour in July 2013. He was due to keep his position until 2020.

Supporters of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood accuse Egypt's judiciary of issuing politicised sentences, including against the group's supreme guide Mohamed Badie and Morsi, who also hails from the Brotherhood. Both are among dozens of the nowbanned group's members who have been sentenced to death.

After the assassination of Barakat, the Brotherhood, on the website of its now-defunct political wing the Freedom and Justice Party, said "murder is unacceptable" but added that "there is no way to stop bloodshed except by crushing the military coup and empowering the revolution”, saying only "justice can stop the violence".

Ban says the authorities should show wisdom and professionalism in keeping up with "the current challenges", and should carefully review their current strategy to combat militant groups, especially as these groups show advanced organisational and combat skills. Ban said he expects more attacks and assassination attempts targeting government figures.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/134017.aspx
Yemen Capital Sanaa Hit by Car Bomb Attack
BBC World Service

The wreckage of a car is seen at the site of a car bomb attack in the capital Sanaa on 29 June 2015.

A car bomb has exploded in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, causing an unknown number of casualties, officials say.

There are conflicting reports over who was the target of the attack.

AP says it was targeting the homes of several Shia Houthi rebel leaders, but Reuters reports that a group of mourners were hit, wounding 28 people.

Shia Houthi rebel fighters have been fighting forces loyal to Yemen's exiled President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi for several months.

Saudi-led air strikes targeting Houthi positions, which launched in March, have had a devastating impact on civilians.

In a separate development on Monday, the rebels said in a statement they had launched a Scud missile across the border at a Saudi military base "in response to the crimes of the brutal Saudi aggression".

If confirmed, it would be the second such attack since fighting began.
An attempt to send a Scud missile earlier this month was intercepted and shot down by Saudi Arabia before causing any damage.

Yemeni civilians have bore the brunt of the fighting and air strikes in recent months
Monday's attack took place behind a military hospital in Sanaa.

The AP news agency quoted officials close to the Houthi rebels, who said the blast targeted the homes of several Houthi leaders.

But Reuters quoted a medical official who said the blast "injured 28 people including 12 women in a building where victims of a previous attack were being mourned".

The Islamic State (IS) militant group has reportedly posted a statement online saying its affiliate group based in Sanaa was behind the attack. IS has carried out a number of attacks in the capital in recent weeks.

Separately on Monday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for a full investigation after a Saudi-led coalition air strike hit a UN compound in the southern city of Aden on Sunday, injuring one guard.

Yemen has been in turmoil since Houthi rebels overran Sanaa last September, forcing the government of President Mansour Abdrabbuh Hadi to flee.

Three months ago, a coalition led by Saudi Arabia began targeting the rebels with air strikes. Since then, more than 2,000 people have been killed in the conflict, including at least 1,400 civilians, according to the UN.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Supreme Court Upholds Lethal Injection Procedure
By Robert Barnes
June 29 at 11:25 AM

A divided Supreme Court on Monday turned aside claims by death-row inmates that a drug to be used in their executions would lead to an unconstitutional level of suffering, a narrow but unequivocal ruling that made clear that states have leeway in carrying out the death penalty.

The justices ruled 5 to 4 against inmates in Oklahoma, who alleged that the use of a sedative called midazolam has resulted in troubling executions that violate the Constitution’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. Executions in Oklahoma and elsewhere have generated national headlines about inmates writhing in pain or taking hours to die when the drug was involved.

The relatively limited issue in Glossip v. Gross gave way to a broader dispute among the court’s nine members, one that reflects the debate in society: Can the ultimate punishment for the most horrendous acts be equitably and humanely applied and confined to the truly guilty?

Two justices who have been on the Supreme Court bench for decades wrote a long dissent saying it was time for the court to take another look at whether the death penalty could ever be carried out in accordance with the Constitution.

“I believe it highly likely that the death penalty violates the Eighth Amendment,” Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “At the very least, the court should call for full briefing on the basic question.”

Two other justices with even longer tenures dismissed Breyer’s 41 pages of argument and five pages of charts and maps as “gobbledy-gook.” Justice Antonin Scalia, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, said the Constitution leaves to the people the decision of whether there should be capital punishment.

“By arrogating to himself the power to overturn that decision, Justice Breyer does not just reject the death penalty, he rejects the Enlightenment,” Scalia wrote.

The lethal-injection decision and two others were the final rulings in cases the court considered this term. As is often the case at the end, there were signs of raw nerves. Thomas and Scalia, in dissents and comments from the bench in unrelated cases, both spoke ruefully of last week’s landmark decision recognizing a constitutional right for gay couples to marry.

In the death penalty case, four justices summarized their views from the bench, a sign of the importance it carried for them and the vehemence of their disagreement.

In rejecting the challenge to midazolam, the majority opinion was somewhat dry and straightforward.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote for the majority that the death row inmates’ challenge failed because they did not meet their burden of identifying a “known and available alternative method of execution” that would carry a lesser risk of pain. He said that was required under the court’s previous ruling upholding lethal injection.

Additionally, he said that the plaintiffs had not proven that a massive dose of midazolam “entails a substantial risk of severe pain.”

Alito was joined in the opinion by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, as well as Scalia and Thomas.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a scathing dissent. She said the court’s determination that midazolam does not cause an intolerable risk of severe pain “is factually wrong.” She said the court’s conclusion that the prisoners must identify an “available alternative means by which the state may kill them is legally indefensible.”

“Petitioners contend that Oklahoma’s current protocol is a barbarous method of punishment — the chemical equivalent of being burned alive,” she wrote. “But under the court’s new rule, it would not matter whether the state intended to use midazolam, or instead to have petitioners drawn and quartered, slowly tortured to death, or actually burned at the stake.”

Alito’s response to that was the most emotional part of his opinion. The dissent’s “resort to this outlandish rhetoric reveals the weakness of its legal arguments,” he concluded.

Dale Baich, one of the attorneys for the death-row prisoners, said in a statement: “Because the court declined to require that states follow scientific guidelines in determining their lethal injection procedures, states will be allowed to conduct additional human experimentation when they carry out executions by lethal injection.”

Douglas Berman, a law professor at Ohio State University and an expert on criminal sentencing, said the decision was a “big win” for states trying to carry out executions. (A dwindling number of states carry out the death penalty.)

And he found it significant that only two justices called for another look at the constitutionality of the death penalty. “Seven current justices apparently do not question the death penalty’s essential constitutionality, including the five youngest justices,” Berman said in a statement. That “suggests to me that abolitionists still have a lot more work to do.”

Breyer made the case for starting that conversation with his lengthy dissent.

He noted that for nine years, the court did not allow executions. “In 1976, the court thought that the constitutional infirmities in the death penalty could be healed,” Breyer wrote, adding, “Almost 40 years of studies, surveys and experience strongly indicate, however, that this effort has failed.”

He said there were three fundamental defects: “serious unreliability, arbitrariness in application and unconscionably long delays that undermine the death penalty’s penological purpose.”

As a result, he said, 30 states have either abolished the death penalty or have not carried out an execution in eight years. Only about a third of the country’s residents live in states where executions occur at least occasionally.

Scalia said the ills that Breyer described are the results of “abolitionists” who contest every death sentence beyond reason. He said Breyer’s “invocation of the resultant delay as grounds for abolishing the death penalty calls to mind the man sentenced to death for killing his parents, who pleads for mercy on the ground that he is an orphan.”

The justices were revisiting the issue of lethal injection for the first time since 2008, when they upheld a three-drug combination and said it did not violate the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. At the time, these drugs were used across the country.

But an ongoing shortage of lethal injection drugs, arising largely from European objections to capital punishment, has stopped the production of those drugs and caused states to find new ones, create different protocols and seek other methods.

When Oklahoma officials could no longer obtain the drug they used, they turned to midazolam. It was used in three problematic executions last year, turning the drug into a focal point for debates about lethal injections.

The most high-profile of these was Oklahoma’s bungled attempt to execute convicted murderer Clayton Lockett. He kicked, grimaced and survived for 43 minutes after the execution began. He eventually died after officials had already halted the process, and a state investigation blamed the error on the manner in which the execution team inserted the needle.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) released a statement Monday saying the ruling “upholds the letter and the spirit of the law as it is written.” Authorities in that state vowed to resume executions, which have been on hold since the court agreed to hear this case in January.

The three surviving inmates named in the case were convicted of murder and sentenced to death, while the fourth was executed in January, shortly before the justices took the case.

In its court filings, Oklahoma laid out the crimes for which each man was convicted: Richard Glossip hired someone to kill his employer; John Grant stabbed a prison food service supervisor while in jail; and Benjamin Cole snapped his 9-month-old daughter’s spine.

In addition to Oklahoma, the attorneys general in Florida and Alabama said that they also believed their paths were cleared to resume executions.

Experts said Monday that they had not heard so far of states scrambling to adopt midazolam, which even before the questionable executions was not used widely by states.

“This is a narrow decision involving one drug in one state,” said Deborah W. Denno, a law professor at Fordham University in New York, who has been critical of the lethal injection process. The ruling involves “a drug that’s used in a handful of states, and hasn’t been used all that much,” she said. “Is it going to increase? It’s unclear.”


Midazolam was also used last year in the execution of an Arizona inmate who gasped and snorted and took nearly two hours to die, as well as the lethal injection of an Ohio inmate who gasped and choked for nearly half an hour before dying.

Sandhya Somashekhar and Mark Berman contributed to this report.
Unifying the Alliance: ANC, SACP, COSATU in 3-day Meeting
Sunday 28 June 2015 - 7:28am

PRETORIA - The tripartite alliance summit continues in Pretoria on Sunday.

Forging unity in the alliance and in particular Cosatu took centre stage at the group's meeting yesterday.

The summit is closed to the media, but sources confirm that up for discussion will be:

·    Inherent organisational weaknesses driven by factionalism

·    Corruption and self-enrichment among members

·    Complacency in government and not working for the betterment of society

It's also apparent that central to the unity of the alliance will be harmony within Cosatu.

The labour federation has been beset by infighting, manifested in the expulsion of General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and  Numsa.

“We are dealing with constructive criticism here and Cosatu is the very first organisation to agree up front that we are faced with challenges," said Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini.

"And we are coming to our allies to listen to how they see us and to listen how we are going to be helping each other to strengthen Cosatu – but also to strengthen the allies themselves.

"Because we need each other – allies need one another – we can’t do without one another.”

"Sorry for having supported Zuma"

Meanwhile, The SACP has been at pains to reject a story that party regions have turned their backs on President Jacob Zuma.

The Mail & Guardian on Friday reported the party was sorry for supporting him at the ANC’s elective conference in 2007.

The allegations are said to be contained in a discussion document, released before the party’s special congress.

But the SACP slammed the newspaper report, ahead of this weekend's special summit.

“We must make sure that we deepen our unity and expose all those forces that are trying to cause division within the alliance," said SACP General Secretary, Blade Nzimande.

- eNCA
European and U.S. Stock Markets Plunge as Greek Crisis Deepens
By DEAN STARKMAN
Alexis Tsipras

U.S. stocks dropped sharply Monday and global markets plummeted even more as the crisis between Greece and its Eurozone creditors edged toward a financial cliff for the nation.

Major U.S. indexes lost more than 2% and European markets fell more than 3% as investors shifted into safer assets, mainly U.S. and German bonds, until the Greek debt drama resolves itself with a default, a deal or an extension.

Without an extension, the Greek government is expected to default on a $1.8-billion payment Tuesday on its bailout from European creditors and the International Monetary Fund.

U.S. officials warily watched the crisis unfold, but analysts said the risk that Greece's problems would spread to other weak economies on Europe's southern periphery was probably contained and that even a Greek default and exit from the Eurozone posed little threat to the U.S. recovery.

An earlier version of this article said the Down Jones and S&P 500 indexes were up for the year. In fact, both are down year to date.

"For us as a country, it's relatively minor," said Alan Whitman, an analyst with Morgan Stanley. "We don't see the Greek situation as being overly detrimental" to the broader markets.

Still, the uncertainly took a toll. Both the blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average and the broader Standard & Poor's 500 index suffered their biggest one-day percentage drops of the year.

The Dow fell 350.33, or 1.9%, to 17,596.35, and the S&P sank 43.85, or 2.1%, to 2,057.64. Both gave back most of the gains made this spring on signs of a strengthening U.S. job market and other economic improvement. Both indexes are down for the year.

At the same time, investors snapped up U.S. government debt, pushing down the already low yield on the 10-year Treasury note by about a sixth of a percentage point to 2.33%, an amount consistent with what analysts said was a calibrated retreat to safety, not a panic.

Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew and senior department officials are closely monitoring the situation with Greece. On Sunday, Lew told Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that it was in the best interests of Greece, Europe and the global economy to resolve the debt problems.

A balanced compromise needs to be forged that will keep Greece in the Eurozone and put it on a path to recovery, senior Treasury officials said. The Greeks must agree to continue economic reforms while its lenders need to provide some debt relief, the officials said.

The U.S. economy has strengthened over the last few years and has limited direct exposure to Greece. But, the senior Treasury officials said, Greece's problems could spill into the European economy, and that would create problems for the U.S.

Tsipras decided to hold a voter referendum on whether to accept additional government spending cuts in exchange for a new bailout deal. He set the vote for Sunday — five days after the deadline for averting default.

On Monday, meanwhile, S&P Ratings Services downgraded Greece's long-term rating to CCC-minus from CCC, saying the country was likely to default on its commercial debt in the next six months. The ratings company also said there was a 50% chance Greece would exit the Eurozone.

S&P, like many Wall Street institutions and analysts, lined up with European creditors in affixing blame for the current impasse on the struggling Greek government.

"In our view, the Greek government's decision to hold a national referendum on official creditors' loan proposals indicates that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will prioritize domestic politics over the country's financial and economic stability, commercial debt service and membership of the Eurozone," S&P said.

Though stock markets were jittery, the much-larger bond market offered signs that any contagion throughout Europe had yet to take hold.

Analysts' biggest fear is that other Eurozone countries struggling with relatively high debt loads and slow growth — especially Italy, Spain, and Portugal — would see their own borrowing costs jump as investors fled for the relative safety of U.S. or German debt.

Analysts are worried about the possibility of a downward spiral of higher debt costs leading to slower growth.

Investors hammered the Greek debt Monday, the first trading day after the call for a referendum. The yield, or interest rate, on its 10-year bond rose more than four full percentage points to 14.68%.

Meanwhile, the yield on the German 10-year bond, a haven for European investors, dropped about a tenth of percentage point, to 0.8%. That makes the spread, the difference between the two nation's bonds, more than 13 percentage points, a reflection of the extreme nature of the Greek crisis.

Analysts cited the relative resilience of Italy's and Spain's government debts as evidence that contagion beyond Greece is being contained, at least for the moment.

The 10-year treasury notes for both countries rose more than 10% Monday, but the actual jumps were modest: 0.22 point to 2.38% for Italy's debt and 0.21 point to 2.32% for Spain's debt. About three years ago, when the Greek debt crisis shook world markets, both Italy's and Spain's debt rates peaked at more than 6.5%.

"The fallout for the rest of Europe and the global economy will be small," said Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Analytics. "Financial markets are being roiled by the unseemly turn of events, but this will be short-lived as it becomes clear there will be little impact outside of Greece."

dean.starkman@latimes.com

Times staff writer Jim Puzzanghera in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.
Egypt's Top Prosecutor, Six Others Injured in Bomb Attack Bomb Targeted Convoy of Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat
Ahram Online
Monday 29 Jun 2015

Egypt's Prosecutor General, Hisham Barakat, and six others were injured in a bomb attack in Cairo on Monday, a health ministry spokesperson told Ahram Online.

Barakat, one civilian, and five members of the security forces were injured when a bomb hit the prosecutor's convoy near the military academy in Heliopolis, the spokesperson said.

"Barakat's condition is still being investigated," he added.

He is being treated at Al-Nozha hospital in Heliopolis.

Islamist militants, who have primarily targeted security forces since the removal of president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, have also attacked several judges.

In May, three judges and their driver were killed when gunmen opened fire on their vehicle in the North Sinai city of Al-Arish.

In March, a small bomb was left in front of the house of judge Fathi Bayoumi, who investigated the corruption charges against Mubarak-era interior minister Habib El-Adly. The words "a gift for El-Adly’s acquittal" were scribbled on a wall near the attack.

In January, a bomb attack targeting judge Khaled Mahgoub, who is acting for the general prosecution in Morsi's jailbreak trial, caused damage to the windows and walls of his house.

Supporters of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood accuse Egypt's judiciary of issuing politicised sentences, including against the group's supreme guide Mohamed Badie and former president Mohamed Morsi. Both were among tens of the now banned group's members who have been sentenced to death during the past year.

Barakat was appointed Egypt's top prosecutor in July 2013 following the resignation of Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud.
Egypt's State Prosecutor Injured in Bomb Blast Near Cairo
Los Angeles Times

A powerful bomb detonated Monday as a convoy carrying Egypt’s prosecutor general was passing by, witnesses said, and Egyptian media reports said he had been rushed to the hospital and undergone surgery for his injuries.

Militant groups have waged a months-long campaign against the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi, who nearly two years ago led the popularly supported coup that forced out Islamist Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first freely elected president.  

A previously unknown group calling itself the Giza Popular Resistance made a claim of responsibility on its Facebook page, but Egyptian authorities had no immediate comment on its veracity. Islamic militant groups, some of them shadowy, have previously targeted judges and others associated with the judicial establishment.

Egypt’s courts are described by human rights groups as highly politicized and commonly used as a tool of enforcement against anti-government dissenters of all stripes.

The blast, in the upscale neighborhood of Heliopolis, left half a dozen vehicles twisted and charred, and scattered burning debris over a wide area. Egyptian news reports said no body of a suicide attacker had been found, leading authorities to surmise that the explosion was set off by remote control.

In the initial hours following the attack, Egyptian authorities provided no official statement detailing the circumstances of the explosion or the injuries to the prosecutor, Hisham Barakat, and others in his entourage.

Egyptian media said at least five others were wounded in the blast, which took place not far from the prosecutor’s home. The official MENA news agency described Barakat’s injuries as “light,” but other reports said his condition was considerably more serious.

As prosecutor general, Barakat has presided over a concerted judicial campaign against not only members of Morsi’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood but secular opponents of the government as well, though their numbers are smaller. Morsi himself has been sentenced to death in one of the several criminal cases against him, and hundreds of other Brotherhood figures have been condemned in mass tribunals.

Although the capital verdict against him is being appealed, Morsi has made recent court appearances in the red prison jumpsuit designated for those who are condemned to die. If the sentence were carried out, it would be the first execution of a former sitting Egyptian president.

Egypt’s security forces have been battling an insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula that has left hundreds of police and soldiers dead in the 23 months since Morsi’s ouster. Sinai militants mainly strike at army and police targets in the rugged peninsula, but have mounted a few major bombings in heartland cities including Cairo.

A series of smaller-scale attacks this year have hit primarily economic targets, including famed tourist sites such as the Pyramids and Luxor’s Karnak Temple. The tourist sector in recent months had shown signs of recovery -- one of the few bright spots in Egypt’s economy, which has struggled in the wake of the 2011 popular uprising that toppled longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak.

Staff writer King reported from Cairo and special correspondent Hassan from Berlin. 
Greece in Shock as Banks Shut After Snap Referendum Call
BY KAROLINA TAGARIS AND MICHELE KAMBAS
 
ATHENS (Reuters) - Greeks struggled to adjust to shuttered banks, closed cash machines and a climate of rumours and conspiracy theories on Monday as a breakdown in talks between Athens and its creditors plunged the country deep into crisis.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who blindsided creditors by calling a referendum on the austerity cuts in the aid package proposed by the creditors, appeared on television on Sunday night to announce capital controls to prevent banks from collapsing.

Their imposition capped a dramatic weekend for Greece that has pushed the country towards a likely default on 1.6 billion euros ($1.77 billion) of International Monetary Fund loans on Tuesday and closer to an exit from the euro currency bloc.

French President Francois Hollande appealed to Tsipras to return to the negotiating table and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was willing to talk to the 40-year-old Greek leader if he wanted.

"There are a few hours before the negotiation is closed for good," Hollande said after a cabinet meeting on Greece.

But with Greece's bailout programme expiring in less than 48 hours, hopes of a last-minute breakthrough were fading fast. Greeks - used to lengthy talks with creditors before a eleventh-hour deal materializes - were left stunned.

"I can't believe it," said Athens resident Evgenia Gekou, 50, on her way to work. "I keep thinking we will wake up tomorrow and everything will be OK. I'm trying hard not to worry."

European officials sent confusing signals about their next move. A spokesman for the European Commission told French radio that Brussels would not make any new proposals on Monday, appearing to contradict comments by EU Economics Commissioner Pierre Moscovici. He said a new offer was forthcoming and that the two sides were "only a few centimetres" away from a deal.

European bank shares fell sharply on Monday. Top banks in Spain, France and Germany were down more than 6 percent as the risk of a spillover to banks in other peripheral euro zone countries spooked investors.

The Greek government will keep banks shut at least until after July 5, the date of the referendum, and withdrawals from automated teller machines were limited to 60 euros a day when they reopened at midday. The stock exchange will also stay shut.

After months of talks, Greece's exasperated European partners have put the blame for the crisis squarely on Tsipras's shoulders.

The creditors wanted Greece to cut pensions and raise taxes in ways that Tsipras has long argued would deepen one of the worst economic crises of modern times in a country where a quarter of the workforce is already unemployed.

As Tsipras announced the emergency measures late on Sunday, there were long queues outside ATMs and petrol stations as people raced to take out cash before it was too late. Lines of over a dozen people formed at ATMs when they reopened on Monday.

"I've got five euros in my pocket, I thought I would try my luck here for some money. The queues in my neighbourhood were too long yesterday," said plumber Yannis Kalaizakis, 58, outside an empty cash machine in central Athens on Monday.

"I don't know what else to say. It's a mess."

"DRAMATIC HOURS"

Newspapers splashed pictures of long lines outside cash machines on their front page. The Nafetemporiki daily headlined Monday's edition "Dramatic hours" while the Ta Nea daily simply said: "When will the banks open".

The conservative-leaning Eleftheros Typos newspaper accused Tsipras of announcing the referendum as a ruse to tip the country into early elections in the hopes of winning them.

"Mr Tsipras's decision to call a referendum and a possible euro exit constitutes a premeditated crime," it said in an editorial. "It is clear that Mr Tsipras has lost the trust of citizens. That's obvious from the queues at ATMs and petrol stations, and it will become obvious at next Sunday's ballot."

As rumours flew about, dozens of pensioners queued outside at least two offices of the National Bank of Greece on Monday after hearing they could withdraw pensions from some branches. They were turned away, Reuters photographers said.

"I've worked all my life, only to wake up one morning to a disaster like this," said one shop owner, who was there to collect his wife's pension.

Despite the financial shock, parts of daily life went on as normal, with shops, pharmacies and supermarkets in the city opening and Greeks meeting to discuss their country's fate at cafes and restaurants. Tourists gathered as usual to watch the changing of the presidential guard outside parliament.

A rally called by Tsipras's Syriza party to protest against austerity measures and urge voters to say "No" in the referendum on bailout terms is expected later on Monday.

Officials around Europe and the United States made a frantic round of calls and organised meetings to try to salvage the situation.

U.S. President Barack Obama called Merkel, and senior U.S. officials including Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, who spoke to Tsipras, urged Europe and the IMF to come up with a plan to hold the single currency together and keep Greece in the euro zone.

"While the programme is active until Tuesday, they aren't providing the necessary liquidity for Greek banks just to blackmail and to terrorize us," Administrative Reforms Minister George Katrougalos told Antenna television.

"If we vote a yes, they will demolish pensions, you will have to pay for medicare in public hospitals. When your kids can't go to school you will say 'thanks' and they will say 'you asked for it'.

"But if you say no you have the ability to fight for a better future."

(Additional reporting by Deepa Babington, Lefteris Karagiannopoulos, Yannis Behrakis and Alkis Konstantinidis; Writing by Matthias Williams and Deepa Babington; Editing by Anna Willard)
Greece’s Debt Crisis Sends Stocks Falling Around Globe
By DAVID JOLLY and KEITH BRADSHER
New York Times
JUNE 29, 2015

PARIS — Stocks fell sharply in Europe and Asia on Monday, and markets in New York appeared headed for a slump at the opening, as Greece’s financial difficulties spread worries about possible broader harm to the global financial system, and Chinese investors endured another topsy-turvy session.

The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone blue chips were down 3.9 percent in afternoon trading, having fallen about 5 percent at the opening. The FTSE 100 index in London was down 1.8 percent.

In Greece, banks and markets are closed until July 6, after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras interrupted last-ditch debt negotiations early Saturday with the announcement that he was calling a referendum for July 5 on whether to accept the tough terms offered by international creditors.

Investors have been concerned by the probability that Athens will be unable to meet a 1.6 billion euro, or roughly $1.8 billion, loan repayment to the International Monetary Fund that is due on Tuesday, with uncertain consequences for Greece’s future in the eurozone and even in the European Union.

While investors were clearly concerned about the events of the weekend, there was no sign on Monday of widespread panic. Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank in London, wrote in a note that the current situation was “a tragedy for Greece,” but that it was “not a ‘black swan’ moment.”

The European Central Bank and other eurozone authorities have had four years to prepare for this moment, Mr. Schmieding wrote, and “we expect contagion control to work, by and large.”

The euro also dropped, falling 0.5 percent against the dollar, to $1.1111, as investors feared that Greece’s troubles would have a spillover effect and would make European assets less attractive.

Bonds of the most exposed European governments, including Italy and Spain, fell sharply, while their yields — or interest rates, which move in the opposite direction of prices — rose. The prices of bonds sold by countries considered safe investments, like Britain, Germany and the United States, all rose.

Greek two-year bond prices were down sharply, with yields rising to more than 32 percent. Comparable German bonds were trading to yield less than 1 percent.

With the Athens exchange closed, Greek equities in the form of American depositary receipts fell sharply in premarket trading in the United States. Those equities for the National Bank of Greece, the country’s biggest lender in terms of assets, fell more than 30 percent early Monday.

Greece has been struggling to find a solution to its debt troubles for years. But the speed with which its government called a referendum on the bailout terms and shut its banks appears to have caught at least some investors off guard.

“Most people’s consensus forecast was for them to muddle through with some kind of a deal,” said Kymberly Martin, the senior market strategist at the Bank of New Zealand, “so it has taken people a little bit by surprise.”

Standard & Poor’s 500 index futures were down more than 1 percent in the European morning, suggesting that Wall Street would open lower.

In Asia, an interest-rate cut by Beijing on Saturday failed to stem the fall in Chinese stock markets beyond the first hour of trading. The Shanghai composite index closed the day 3.3 percent lower, having been down as much as 7.6 percent and after plunging more than 7 percent on Friday. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng fell 2.7 percent.

The Tokyo benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average fell 2.9 percent, and the Australian market barometer S&P/ASX 200 fell 2.2 percent in Sydney.

The price of gold, which tends to become more popular during times of financial or political instability, climbed 0.6 percent, to $1,180.30 per ounce.

The People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, reduced one-year lending and deposit rates by a quarter percentage point, effective on Sunday, and reduced the reserves that some banks are required to hold, allowing them to lend more money.

The central bank had previously refrained from acting so quickly after a market downturn, so its action over the weekend was interpreted as a clear sign that the government was reluctant to see the Chinese stock markets lose their gains after doubling in the past 12 months.

“It marks a slight departure from the previous P.B.O.C. moves, because this time it looks to be directly timed as support for the equity markets,” said Erwin Sanft, the head of China strategy in Hong Kong at Macquarie Capital Securities, referring to the Chinese central bank.

Rajiv Biswas, chief economist for Asia at IHS Global Insight, said that if Greece defaulted and left the eurozone, the effects on Europe’s economy and on exporters in Asia would depend on whether European leaders could prevent financial troubles from spreading to Portugal, Spain and possibly Italy. If the damage is not contained, economic output in Asia could drop 0.3 percent next year on lower exports to Europe, Mr. Biswas said.

Ms. Martin of the Bank of New Zealand said such calculations were not at the front of investors’ minds. “I think people are still more concerned about the immediate impact, not the longer-term effects on eurozone growth,” she said.

David Jolly reported from Paris, and Keith Bradsher from Hong Kong.
‘President is Cleaning the Rot Left by PDP’
By Mohammed Abubakar and Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, Abuja on June 29, 2015
Nigerian Guardian

• Metuh urges prayers for Buhari , APC to deliver

THE Presidency has described the allegation by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against the administration of Muhammadu Buhari of lack of direction as baseless and lacking in substance.

Instead, it said the administration is taking time to clean the rot left behind by the PDP last month.

Reacting to the statement credited to the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Olisa Metuh urging Nigerians to pray for the ruling APC and Buhari because one month after its take off, the Buhari administration had shown all motion but no movement, the Presidency said the development was attributable to the quantum of problems left behind by the PDP government, including high level of corruption.

A statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina in Abuja yesterday, said it was amusing that the same people that created the problem being faced by the country were the same people crying out saying the prayers that Metuh sought from Nigerians amounted to sheer hypocrisy, noting that Nigerians had already done their as demonstrated by the March 28 polls

Titled, “ Cleaning PDP’s Augean Stable”, Adesina said: “It is amusing to read what the National Publicity Secretary of the defeated Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, considers a 30 days appraisal of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

“He wants Nigerians to join hands in prayers for the government, so that things would begin to move. What he does not know is that Nigerians had long formed such coalition. They are hands in hands, and that was what gave victory to President Buhari in the March 28, 2015 poll.

“Nigerians had teamed up to uproot an administration that had brought the country to her knees, and was about to tip her off the precipice. And Nigerians have resolved that never would they allow any government to divide them along regional, religious and ethnic fault lines again.”

The statement went further, “The Buhari administration is naturally contemplative because there was absolutely no rhyme or reason to the way PDP ran the country, particularly in the immediate past dispensation. That is why the Augean Stable is being cleaned now, and it requires scrupulous and painstaking planning.

“Across all sectors, our national life was devalued, and it takes meticulousness and sure-footedness to repair all the breaches. This, the Buhari administration will deliver. Metuh talks of people round the President conniving with bureaucrats to syphon money from the treasury. This must be deja vu, as it was the pastime of the immediate past administration, and the enormity of the sleaze will be evident when stolen money, to the tune of billions of dollars, is recovered, and returned to the national treasury soon.

“In the process of time, after all that is being planned by the current administration has matured, and bearing fruits, Nigerians will be able to determine who is serving them acceptably, and who has taken them for a ride. It is just a matter of time.

“Meanwhile, Metuh and his masters can only rue the missed opportunities to make salutary impact on the lives of Nigerians. They have a long road of regrets to travel.”

The PDP spokesman had said in his statement on Sunday that the enormity of the confusion surrounding the government and party in the last one month makes it imperative for Nigerians to pray as the success or failure of the Buhari administration will not only affect the President and his party but also the entire nation.

“We are deeply worried that the President who promised to unveil his cabinet two weeks after his inauguration, has not been able to decide on key appointments such as ministers, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), a Chief of Staff and advisers in key sectors of the economy.

“This is more so as the delay has brought government business in ministries, departments and agencies to a dangerous standstill with coordination of important policies vested on ministers and the SGF now in tatters while the system drifts.

“The situation is taking its toll on the economy, which has in the last 30 days,witnessed unprecedented decline with a terrifying crippling of foreign and domestic investments including activities in the money and capital market sectors.

Under President Buhari, the stock market has lost over N238 billion while the All-Share Index fell by 849.87 basis points as at June 19.

“In security, apart from the directive to relocate the counter terrorism command center to Borno state and seeking assistance from foreigners, no other concrete step has been taken in the fight against insurgency which the President in his April 22, 2015 CNN interview promised to end within his first two months in office.

“Instead, the anti-terrorism effort has completely lost steam in the last 30 days, with insurgents, who had already been pushed to the verge of surrender in the Sambisa forest by the Goodluck Jonathan administration, now surging back and spreading into the country.

“In this regard, we urge the President to confront insurgency and issues of national security with all the vigour they deserve while calling for restrain from actions capable of destroying the fabrics of security intelligence.

We also urge for adequate respect for all organs of internal security such as the Directorate of State Security (DSS), which is answerable to the Nigerian state and as such should not be publicly ridiculed by an aide of the President.

“In the same vein, we are disturbed by the ominous signals emanating from the atrocious attempt by the APC to undermine and appropriate the federal legislature resulting in the disruption of lawful proceedings and forced closure of the National Assembly, the symbol of our collective national identity as a democratic state.

In this regard, we urge the Presidency and the APC to imbibe democratic tenets and respect the independence of that arm of government.

“Finally, while we remind the President and the APC that their campaign promises are bonds which must be fulfilled; we urge him to use the next 10 days to set up his government by naming  his ministers, the SGF and advisers in critical sectors as Nigerians did not vote for a sole administrator but for a democratic government” Metuh’s statement had concluded.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Why President Buhari’s Cabinet Will Be Delayed Beyond July
By Our Special Correspondent
Nigerian Guardian
June 29, 2015

DESPITE scathing criticism that President Muhammadu Buhari has unduly delayed naming his cabinet, indications emerged at the weekend that he is not in a haste to bow to pressure on the issue.

Specifically, it was confirmed at the weekend that the President may not be appointing any cabinet members within the next two months, at least.

Speaking in an off-the-record chat with a set of journalists in Abuja, a source close to the President who is not authorised to speak publicly regarding the issue, said that Buhari was not in a haste to build on a “rotten foundation,” he claimed he inherited from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration.

“You cannot even begin to imagine the situation we have met on the ground,” he said.
“Almost everything is in a state of decay. There is absolutely no way the new government can hope to achieve anything long-lasting without first building a new foundation.”

The source likened Buhari’s plan of action to that of a doctor who first has to break a poorly set bone afresh, before resetting it to allow for smooth and proper growth.

Over the past week, the President who was sworn in on May 29, 2015, has come under fire from various sources in the media that he has had more than three months since his election, including a month since his inauguration, yet no cabinet appointments have been made. Only his media and protocol officers have been named.

Even the 15 Special Advisers the last Senate approved for the President have not been unveiled.

Responding to the criticism, the source pointed out that it would be impossible to appoint ministers to portfolios, without first knowing which portfolios exist and which will be abolished.

His words: “The President plans to cut down the number of ministries and parastatals. He wants to cut down the cost of running government. He wants to make sure that all the loopholes that enable corruption to thrive are blocked. All these are procedures that require time and careful planning. You cannot do it in a rush.”

The presidential source added that Buhari could not have begun this process without first receiving the full report of the transition committee and ascertaining exactly the situation his government faced.

“This is the thing. Remember that he has to make sure that all this is done without any job losses or mass retrenchment. All this is not a day’s or one-month job.”

The source also denied reports which stated that Buhari’s delayed cabinet appointments had brought government to a halt, insisting that civil servants have been supervising the day-to-day running of ministries and that Permanent Secretaries of the various ministries all have full access to the President.

“All these reports and agitations are being fuelled by politicians who want to put pressure on the President. They have tried doing it other ways and those haven’t worked. Now, they are trying to use the media. They only want their cronies appointed to ministerial posts and they are fuelling the agitation through newspapers.”

He advised the Nigerian media not to fall for the old tricks and shenanigans of politicians who worship only the gods of their bellies.

“This is a serious matter and it is business unusual,” the source insisted.

The presidency source concluded by referring to the current crisis in the National Assembly, listing it as yet one more excuse, why forming a cabinet will be impossible until further notice.

His words: “Look at how they are fighting among themselves .The Senate has now adjourned till July 21. That means there would be no one to scrutinise or approve any ministerial list until the end of July.”

Reminded that the Senate has agreed to reconvene to consider the President’s ministerial nominees as soon as such list was ready, the source asked the reporters to await the President’s long-awaited intervention in the crisis between the party and the National Assembly.

“The President wants to walk his talk on stable politics and being a leader for all. He has a plan for the National Assembly.”

Contacted on this issue, Buhari’s spokesmen, Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu, said they had spoken on the same issues in a similar manner.

In separate conversations, they said the source was not far from the reality check at the moment.

In a page three comment entitled, PMB, Make key appointments now, an Abuja-based newspaper Daily Trust on Sunday yesterday urged the President to name his ministers as it is risky to allow the civil service to function without political leadership and direction.

The newspaper said the President “should not look for saints because there are none to be found anywhere”.
Outgoing Nigerian Finance Minister Interviewed by Daily Trust
Friday, 12 June 2015 04:00
Written by William Wallis

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s arrival is announced by the rattling of a suitcase over London cobblestones. She is accompanied by her loyal assistant, the appropriately named Constance, and is trailing something heavy. Unfinished business, I’m guessing.

We are meeting during her last days as minister in charge of Nigeria’s economy, the biggest in Africa. For much of the past three decades Okonjo-Iweala has championed her country’s - and continent’s - interests, earning her place on the global stage as one of the best-known African officials of her time.

You wouldn’t know it from the slating she has had in recent weeks at the hands of the Nigerian press, where she has been pilloried for her role in a government that has bequeathed a legacy of dwindling revenues, rising debt, corruption scandals and gaping income inequalities. One commentator accused her of having “joined the bandwagon of soiled hands in attacking whistleblowers.” Nigerians can be ruthless at taking down their own.

Weary from an all-night flight, she is nonetheless in defiant form. The original plan was to have lunch in Lagos: cowtail pepper soup, insisted Okonjo-Iweala, who was planning to administer a fiery dose according to how much she wanted me to sweat for my own (often unflattering) accounts of the government she served for the past four years. But events took over - notably Nigeria’s tumultuous election season, and the delicate transition to a new government, which concluded with the inauguration of Muhammadu Buhari <http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/667e70a2-05ee-11e5-b676-00144feabdc0.html?siteedition=intl> as president.

So we meet in London, where she is in transit, and head for Momo, a Moroccan restaurant that has become a hang-out at the heart of the capital for Arabs and Africans. The venue also has the advantage of being part run by a big-hearted Algerian called Meriem Talbi Fall, who administers to staff and clientele with authority and empathy, as she might the cast of a family soap opera.

The two women, formidable in their own ways, hit it off instantly on the terrace, where a gaggle of young Gulf Arabs are smoking shishas. It is a sunny day but chilly, so we are shown to a corner inside. Surrounded by north African artefacts, latticed woodwork, and with Moroccan music playing in the background, we could almost be in Marrakech.

Okonjo-Iweala flops down on red cushions. She will be 61 this month and is looking forward to a break after 30 years of working non-stop and, in the past few years, not more than five hours sleep a night. “Every finance minister feels the same pressure,” she says.

African finance ministers are rarely celebrated. But Okonjo-­Iweala, at different times, has been an exception. As part of Olusegun Obasanjo’s government between 2003 and 2006, she played a lead role in rehabilitating Nigeria’s image, persuading western creditor nations that an oil-rich part of Africa, notorious for its wasteful ways, was sufficiently on the mend to justify an $18bn debt write-off.

In 2007, she returned to the World Bank, her long-time employer, where she was appointed managing director. She subsequently ran to become the first president of the bank from the developing world but lost out to America’s candidate, Jim Yong Kim.

Her most recent spell in Nigeria, in the government of Goodluck Jonathan, proved more controversial. The country’s economy has achieved much in the past decade, and last year, after a revision of the data, made the statistical leap to become Africa’s largest with a GDP of $510bn. Right now, with the collapse in the price of oil on which state finances and national export earnings still depend, it is in a mess. From the outset, there were jibes about her willingness to lend her reformist credentials to a lacklustre administration. Allies worried that she had put a hard-won reputation at risk. Their concern seemed justified when, in March, the electorate voted en masse to oust Jonathan, Okonjo-Iweala’s boss.

When he returned quietly to a palatial new residence in his remote village in the Niger delta, Jonathan, a former zoology lecturer who rose serendipitously to the top after the death of his predecessor in office, concluded the first constitutional transfer of power in Nigeria’s history. It is this acceptance of defeat which may help redeem him - at least partially - in the history books.

“Everyone was waiting for something to erupt. And it could have,” she says of the run-up to the March elections, when plots to curtail or defraud the electoral process abounded, and Nigeria’s future as one nation appeared at stake.

In the event, millions of Nigerians queued up to vote, for the most part peacefully, in one of the most poignant affirmations of democracy on the continent to date. By a margin of 2.3m votes, they put their faith in Buhari, an ascetic former military ruler who has pledged to stamp out corruption, spread wealth more evenly and restore order to a nation at risk of splitting at the seams.

Although Okonjo-Iweala was on the losing side, she appears genuinely delighted at how these recent events are helping to restore her country’s image, tarnished by the kidnapping of schoolgirls by Boko Haram insurgents and mismanagement in the oil industry.

We agree, as we peruse the menu, that this peaceful political evolution is all the more remarkable because it was not inevitable. She confirms the veracity of an account in the Nigerian media of divisions in the incumbent’s camp on the day results came in. Alleging foul play, government hawks were pushing Jonathan to resist the verdict - which could have tipped Nigeria into a violent confrontation along ethnic and regional lines. In the same room, another group, including Okonjo-Iweala, pressed him to call his opponent and concede defeat.

“The thing is, the president was finally able to show the kind of person he really is - that he really puts the country first,” Okonjo-Iweala says. “He had said before that his ambitions were not important enough for anyone to lose their life and so he did the right thing and went and made the call.”

It is precarious moments like this - when they go the right way - that help to establish the primacy of ballots over bullets in countries such as Nigeria, which have a long tradition of authoritarian rule.

Nigerians now know that if they vote for a government that disappoints, they can vote it out four years later, I suggest. With studied loyalty, she flips my supposition on its head.

“People also know that if a person loses on a large scale, they can gracefully walk off with their head held high and support the new team, that it need not be all about antagonism.” She cites the inclusion of Buhari’s advisers in her own team at the recent spring meetings of the IMF and World Bank as an example of the goodwill that helped ease tensions in the interim period since the election. “We have a new lease of life,” she says.

By now the arrival of two glasses of chilled Sauvignon Blanc, sparkling water and an array of starters has helped her shake off the effects of her flight. I dip a crispy prawn into an avocado salsa while Okonjo-Iweala works her way through a soup, nibbling occasionally at the spread of cheese briouat, mackerel and merguez on the brass table.

It is hard to reconcile the warm, generous-spirited and intelligent woman at the table with the delusional, hubristic force recently depicted in the Nigerian media. But she has grown accustomed to relentless attacks and springs quickly into defensive posture when we turn to the subject of corruption.

She wants to talk about everything but this - and gets exasperated when outsiders like me dwell on the issue at the expense of other aspects of Nigerian life.

“I feel so alive in my country”, she says, “and I get so sad that the image people have is not of the 99.9 per cent, but of this venal, kleptocratic, power-hungry elite that have colonised the country and refused to let go.”

But industrial-scale corruption was a big factor in the downfall of the administration she served.

Report after report showed how billions of dollars were misappropriated in the allocation of fuel subsidies and shaved off revenues from crude oil sales <http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/e337c7a4-f4a2-11e4-8a42-00144feab7de.html>, depriving the country of savings against an eventual fall in prices.

Okonjo-Iweala’s allies believe things would have been far worse were it not for her stewardship and for her battles with criminalised vested interests. She has been on the receiving end of death threats and, in 2012, saw her octogenarian mother kidnapped at the behest of fraudulent fuel marketers, whose initial ransom demand was, she says, for her resignation.

At the moment, however, her detractors from the new government and parts of the business community are noisier. They argue that she was at best ineffectual; at worst, by sticking with a government that was rotten, she went to the dark side herself. “Which dark side?” she says, laughing.

“They [her detractors] are the ones on the dark side and I will frustrate them from morning till night . . . I am the same simple person with the same simple tastes,” she adds, now tucking into a simple chicken tagine.

The most insidious thing a corrupt person can do to someone who is fighting corruption, she continues, is to paint that person as corrupt. “It is unimaginable to most of these people looking for power that you would actually want to serve your government for reasons other than grabbing money. Because that is what they themselves want. But there are many dedicated Nigerians serving day in, day out, unsung heroes, including in our armed forces. Those are the people that make me tick.”

She adds: “I am a misfit and a happy misfit. Nigeria needs more misfits.”

Nevertheless, I weigh in, there is a perception at home and abroad that last year she sat on the fence over the “missing billions”, a fiasco that helped seal Jonathan’s fate. Lamido Sanusi, governor of the central bank at the time, had exposed gaping holes, allegedly worth more than $1bn a month, in revenues remitted to the federal accounts by the NNPC, the state oil company. He was suspended from his position.

“I was on top of this thing,” Okonjo-Iweala says, insisting the only disagreement between her and Sanusi was over the scale of the discrepancies and the approach he took to exposing these without first consulting her. “Month after month, we were recording the amounts . . . that fell short. We have the records. So we didn’t disagree that amounts were missing - not missing but unaccounted for,” she says, adding that she spearheaded moves to subject the allegations to an external audit.

At this point, the son of the restaurant owner stops by to check all is well. Inadvertently, he delivers a reminder of how dimly perceived Nigeria’s outgoing president was abroad. “I am very happy for you guys that you got rid of Goodluck Jonathan,” he says, with a beaming smile. As I explain that my guest is one of Jonathan’s top cabinet members, Okonjo-Iweala steps in: “Really? Hold on so I can hear him out,” she says, laughing, and launching another spirited defence.

Women tend to have more of a life outside the office. They move on rapidly. They have other lives. That is the same way I feel. I can move on and I have a life.

In 2003, when Okonjo-Iweala first left her job as vice-president at the World Bank in Washington to take up a post in Obasanjo’s government, she says it was overwhelming how much there was to do. Nigeria had been run down for generations and every institution needed to be rebuilt.

“I said to myself the first day I sat in my office, ‘My God, this is crazy, you made the worst mistake.’ And I had to get a hold of myself, and say, ‘If you have all these problems, the best way to solve them is not to give in, you have to prioritise which ones to solve and which will have the biggest impact.’ ”

Lifting the debt overhang gave Nigeria new life, as did setting up a savings account to manage swings in the price of oil. Even so, she says, “I never planned to go back because my experience the [first] time was not a bed of roses.”

That she did so, in 2011, was out of a sense of duty and love of country - something she says her father “dinged into her head”. She says she grew up being told that education was a privilege. Her own - in Nigeria, then in the US at Harvard, and later with a doctorate in economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology - placed her in a position to help her country.

She believes she has. The way Nigeria manages its oil - an area she had little power over - remains in need of major structural overhaul, she says. But in other areas - mortgage financing, cleaning up payrolls, reforming the pension system and setting up a Nigerian development bank - she is adamant that there has been progress. “Even those attacking me from the new government will find these are things that are good for Nigeria and they should not for personal reasons try to destroy them.”

The attacks have made her thin-skinned at times. But Okonjo-Iweala’s character was also partly forged in conflict. As mint tea arrives for her and Arabic coffee for me, she reminisces about growing up in the late 1960s during the Biafran civil war. Her father was an officer in Chukwuemeka Ojukwu’s separatist Igbo forces and the family had to move from town to town as federal soldiers closed in. “Those were some of the most difficult years,” she says. “I learnt how to eat one meal a day or no meals. We didn’t have meat. I saw children dying around me.”

In subsequent battles, her family has always supported her, she says, particularly at the World Bank, when she had to juggle a fast-developing career with the demands of motherhood. “You have just come home from some high-level meeting with G20 finance ministers, or from chairing some big meeting on some weighty project at the World Bank, and all your children want to know is, ‘Mummy, is there any food in this house? Have you cooked?’”

As for her future, she plays her cards close to her chest but believes women find it easier to move on to new things than men. When she was at the World Bank, she says, male colleagues who had left repeatedly came back to wander the corridors, in search of consulting jobs. “Their whole identity and everything is tied up with the institution.”

Women tend to have more of a life outside the office, she says. “They move on rapidly. They have other lives. That is the same way I feel. I can move on and I have a life. A rather interesting one and I am looking forward to it so much.”

Wallis writes on African affairs for London’s Financial Times