South Sudan’s Army Chief Dies In Egypt – Spokesman

South Sudan’s army chief Gen. James Ajongo died in Cairo on Friday after a brief illness, government spokesman Michael Makuei Lueth said.

“It is with a heavy heart that I announce the untimely death of Gen. James Ajongo Madut, SPLA army’s chief of defense force,” Lueth said.

Ajongo joined the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, the formal name of the South Sudanese military, in 1983,
when the SPLA was still a rebel group fighting for independence from Sudan.

He was appointed to the position after his predecessor Paul Malong was sacked early last year amid resignations
by some generals who alleged abuses by the military and tribal bias in the army ranks.

Malong has since formed his own organisation to challenge President Salva Kiir, accusing him of looting the
country’s resources and turning it into a failed state.

South Sudan, which obtained independence from Sudan in 2011 and is the world’s youngest nation, has been mired in civil war since 2013 when Kiir fired his deputy Riek Machar.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in war that has often been fought along ethnic lines and much of the nation has faced dire food shortages. (Reuters/NAN)

Ramaphosa Cuts UK Visit Short Over Protests

The President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa has cut short his Britain visit due to crises arising in his country’s North West province.

According to reports there has been protest in the North West province over jobs, better housing, roads and hospitals. Protesters have also frequently clashed with security operatives.

This would be the first crises Ramaphosa’a will experience since he took power in February in a country faced with weak economic growth and near-record unemployment.

The latest protests erupted on Wednesday with residents demanding that the province’s Premier Supra Mahumapelo, a member of Ramaphosa’s ruling African National Congress party, step down.

Ramaphosa called for calm, ordered police to exercise maximum restraint and urged the aggrieved parties to express their grievances without resorting to violence.

He was due to return to South Africa on Friday from London, where he is leading a delegation to a Commonwealth summit.

“The president will return to Pretoria,” the president’s office said in a statement.

South African media reported that a bus was set alight, vehicles stoned and roads blockaded by protesters calling for Mahumapelo to quit because of a failure to adequately deliver services.

Police fired teargas to disperse the crowds.

Botswana’s government said on Thursday it had closed exit points to South Africa’s North West province, where the two countries share a border.

The troubled province lies 300 km west of South Africa’s commercial hub Johannesburg.

 

Device To Assist With Suicide Displayed In Amsterdam

In an era when cases of suicide have gone to an alarmingly high percentage especially in Nigeria, this new development might raise a lot of alarm.

According to news reports, a 3D-printed euthanasia device that will assist users to kill themselves has been displayed in Amsterdam. The device, which allows people kill themselves with just the click of a button, was invented by Philip Nitschke, popularly known as “Dr Death”.

This will be the first time the device is been displayed, and it was displayed at a funeral fair on Saturday, April 14, 2018.

The euthanasia device, named Sarco, first made the news last year after prototype designs were released by its two creators, Australian euthanasia activist Dr. Philip Nitschke and Dutch engineer Alexander Bannink.

Sarco speeds up the death process by hypoxia, i.e by reducing the amount of oxygen reaching the tissues. It is designed to be portable and will come with a built-in detachable coffin.

The inventors claim that a fully-functioning version will be built this year, after which the blueprints will be made open source and published online for anyone to access and download.

Speaking about the invention, Nitschke told Agence France-Presse (AFP):

This is a situation where one person chooses to press a button rather than for instance standing in front of a train.

I believe it’s a fundamental human right [to choose when to die]. It’s not just some medical privilege for the very sick.

If you’ve got the precious gift of life, you should be able to give that gift away at the time of your choosing.

The inventor said he believes it is a more “peaceful and I would even say an elegant death”. However, pro-life groups have criticized Dr Nitschke and warn his machine could lead to a huge rise in suicides across the US.

Swaziland King Renames Country

In what appears to be a double celebration of his nation’s 50th independence anniversary and his own 50th birthday, the king of Swaziland, King Mswati III, has renamed Swaziland eSwatini.

Historically, Swaziland got her independence from South Africa on September 6, 1968, and it maintains absolute monarchy, ably aided by a 1975 constitution.

King Mswati III was born about five months earlier on April 19, 1968.

See the tweets:

Nomsa Maseko

@nomsa_maseko

King Mswati III has announced Swaziland 🇸🇿 will now be known as The Kingdom of Eswatini

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Nomsa Maseko

@nomsa_maseko

50/50 Golden Jubilee celebrations in Swaziland 🇸🇿King Mswati III celebrates his 50th birthday while the kingdom marks 50 years of independence

More Child Soldiers Released In South Sudan

Another set of child soldiers have been released by armed groups in south Sudan.

According to UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) at least 200 children have been released by armed groups. Recall that this would be the second release after about 200 were released recently.

Mahimbo Mdoe, UNICEF’s Representative in South Sudan, said: “UNICEF, UNMISS and government partners have negotiated tirelessly with parties to the conflict so as to enable this release of children,” Mdoe said.

“But the work does not stop here. The reintegration process is a delicate one and we must now ensure the children have all the support they need to make a success of their lives.”

The 207 children released – 112 boys, 95 girls – were from the ranks of the South Sudan National Liberation Movement (SSNLM).

SSNLM in 2016 signed a peace agreement with the Government and is now integrating its ranks into the national army – and from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO).

UNICEF said an upsurge of fighting in July 2016 stalled the original plans to release the children, but momentum was now building for further releases in the future.

The UN agency said: “Despite this progress, there are still around 19,000 children serving in the ranks of armed forces and groups in South Sudan.

“So long as the recruitment and use of children by armed groups continues, these groups fail on their commitment to uphold the rights of children under international law.

“As peace talks resume and the future of the transitional government is debated, UNICEF urges all parties to the conflict to end the recruitment of children and to release all children in their ranks.

“Adequate funding for UNICEF’s release programme is also essential. UNICEF South Sudan requires 45 million dollars to support release, demobilisation and reintegration of 19,000 children over the next three years”.

The first release of children took place in Yambio Town in early February, where more than 300 children were released to return to their families, or to UNICEF-supported care centres.

The latest release of 207 children took place in a rural community called Bakiwiri, about an hour’s drive from Yambio, in Western Equatorial State.

Mdoe said: “No child should ever have to pick up a weapon and fight. For every child released, today marks the start of a new life.

“UNICEF is proud to support these children as they return to their families and start to build a brighter future.”

UNICEF said during the ceremony, the children were formally disarmed and provided with civilian clothes.

Medical screenings would now be carried out, and the children would receive counselling and psychosocial support as part of the reintegration programme, which is implemented by UNICEF and partners.

Also, when the children return to their homes, their families will be provided with three months’ worth of food assistance to support their initial reintegration.

The children would also be provided with vocational training aimed at improving household income and food security as being unable to support themselves economically could be a key factor in children becoming associated with armed groups.

In addition to services related to livelihoods, UNICEF and partners would ensure the released children have access to age-specific education services in schools and accelerated learning centres.

 

Woman Who Died From The Southwest Airline’s Midair Explosion Identified

The woman who died after she was almost sucked out of her Southwest Airlines flight window following a midair explosion has been identified as 43 year old Jennifer Riordan, a mother-of-two from Albuquerque and a Wells Fargo executive.

She was returning from a business trip aboard the New York to Dallas flight when the plane’s left engine exploded sending shrapnel flying into a window next to her seat. The banking executive was left hanging half outside the shattered window as fellow passengers desperately scrambled to drag her back inside the aircraft, which was carrying 149 people.  

She was rushed to hospital immediately after hero pilot Tammie Jo Shults took the plane into a sharp descent and made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport at 11.27am.

 

Authorities confirm that she later died while seven other people were injured. Those on board said they heard a loud ‘boom’ and the Boeing 737-700 immediately dropped, they said, by what felt like 100ft. Oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling and passengers said their prayers and braced for impact.  

The National Transportation Safety Board has said a preliminary examination of the blown jet engine shows evidence of ‘metal fatigue.’

 

Zimbabwe Sacks 16,000 Striking Nurses

Zimbabwe on Wednesday sacked 16,000 striking nurses, as the new government sought to keep a lid on labour unrest in the build-up to the first elections since the fall of Robert Mugabe.

Vice President Constantino Chiwenga accused the nurses of staging a “politically motivated” walkout and said they would be replaced by retired and unemployed staff.

The nurses’ union told its members to stay calm as it considered its response.

The nurses went on strike on Monday over unpaid allowances and other issues, leaving hospitals understaffed.

The action came days after junior doctors wrapped up a month-long walkout over pay and working conditions.

Mr Chiwenga, the retired army general who led a de facto military coup against Mr Mugabe in November, said the Zimbabwe Nurses Association had rejected a 17 million dollars offer to clear wage arrears.

“Government now regards this lack of remorse as politically motivated, and thus going beyond concerns of conditions of services and workers welfare,” said Mr Chiwenga.

“Accordingly, government has decided, in the interest of patients and of saving lives, to discharge all the striking nurses with immediate effect.”

He did not say which political group he thought was behind the strike.

Mr Mugabe regularly accused opposition groups of trying to undermine his government by encouraging the public sector strikes that punctuated his time in office.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who replaced Mr Mugabe in November, will stand in elections set for July against a revitalised opposition Movement for Democratic Change party led by 40-year-old, Nelson Chamisa.

Mr Mnangagwa has promised to revitalise the economy after decades of severe mismanagement.

Cash shortages mean banks are forced to limit withdrawals, unemployment remains above 80 per cent and the government still struggles to pay workers on time.

21 Wedding Guest Die In Accident

At least 29 people have been injured while 21 members of a group travelling to a wedding in central India were killed when a small truck in which they were travelling fell off a bridge into a dry river bed.

Senior administration official Dilip Kumar revealed this saying the accident occurred late Tuesday in Madhya Pradesh state’s Sidhi district.

Kumar said the victims, mostly family and friends of the groom, were travelling to the wedding in Pamaria village when their mini-truck swerved off the Jogdaha bridge and fell about 50 to 60 feet down into the Sone river bed.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan has announced aid of 200,000 rupees (about 3,044 dollars) each for the kin of the deceased and 50,000 rupees each to the injured.

 

Kenya Embarks On Police Reforms

Fred Matiang’i, Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Interior, told a security forum in Nairobi that the Kenyan government is set to embark on reforms in the police force.

According to Matiang’i a caucus composed state and non-state actors has been put in place to identify areas of police reforms.

“The police reforms aim to improve the relationship between police and community in order to ensure overall improved national security,” Matiang’i said during the National Policing Conference.

The reforms will ensure that all security agencies work in a coordinated manner and avoid duplication of efforts, Matiang’i said.

He noted that the new constitution had enhanced the rights and responsibilities of citizens, hence the need for the police service to change the way it relates with the public.

The government has realised that crime levels will only be reduced if local communities are fully involved in security matters, Matiang’i said.

Karanja Kibicho, Principal Secretary at the Ministry of Interior, said the levels of internal and external threats faced by the country are increasing.

The government plans to improve the welfare of the police, Kibicho said.

“The working conditions of security forces will be improved by ensuring that they are better equipped to combat criminal elements in society,” he said.
Kibicho said the police reforms were being prioritised because economic development will not be possible without adequate security.

Joseph Boinnet, Inspector-General of National Police Service, said that his internal affairs department would be strengthened to deal with cases of police indiscipline.

A new framework will also be created to ensure meritocracy prevails so that junior officers can rise up the ranks of the police service, he said.

 

Over 200 Child Soldiers Released In South Sudan

The UN disclosed on Wednesday that over 200 child soldiers have been released by armed groups in South Sudan as part of an agreement that will see almost 1,000 children released over the next few months.

The UN agency said they will be given counselling and vocational training as part of the reintegration programme into civilian life.

UNICEF said the children were disarmed in a ceremony in a village in the state of Western Equatoria .

“No child should ever have to pick up a weapon and fight,” said Mahimbo Mdoe, UNICEF’s representative in South Sudan.

The child soldiers were released by two armed groups: the South Sudan National Liberation Movement and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition.

It was the second of such release, after more than 300 children were released in February.

South Sudan, founded in 2011, is the world’s youngest country.

In 2013, a split between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar triggered a civil war that has led to tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of 2.5 million people.

Several peace agreements have been signed, none of them have held. According to UNICEF, there are still 19,000 child soldiers in South Sudan.

 

Barbara Bush Dies At Age 92

Former U.S. First Lady Barbara Bush has died on Tuesday evening at the age of 92, after a series of recent hospitalization.

Barbara served as the country’s first lady from 1989 to 1993. Spokesman for the family, Jim McGrath revealed this in a statement which read ;

“A former First Lady of the United States of America and relentless proponent of family literacy, Barbara Pierce Bush passed away Tuesday, April 17, 2018 at the age of 92.

“She is survived by her husband of 73 years, President George H.W. Bush; five children and their spouses; 17 grandchildren; seven great grand children; and her brother, Scott Pierce.

“She was preceded in death by her second child, Pauline Robinson “Robin” Bush, and her siblings Martha Rafferty and James R. Pierce.

“The official funeral schedule will be announced as soon as is practical,”

On Sunday, the family said in a statement that Barbara had decided not to seek additional medical treatment and instead sought comfort care at home.

Former president George W. Bush, in a statement on Tuesday night, described his mother as a “fabulous First Lady”.

“My dear mother has passed on at age 92. Laura, Barbara, Jenna, and I are sad, but our souls are settled because we know hers was.

“Barbara Bush was a fabulous First Lady and a woman unlike any other who brought levity, love, and literacy to millions.

“To us, she was so much more. Mom kept us on our toes and kept us laughing until the end. I’m a lucky man that Barbara Bush was my mother,” he said.

Former Governor Jeb Bush, in a statement, said his mother lived a remarkable life.

“I’m exceptionally privileged to be the son of George Bush and the exceptionally gracious, gregarious, fun, funny, loving, tough, smart, graceful woman who was the force of nature known as Barbara Bush.

“Thank you for your prayers, and we look forward to celebrating and honouring her life and contributions to our family and great nation in the coming days,” he said.

George and Barbara had celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary in January, making them the longest-married couple in presidential history.

Barbara was the mother of former President George W. Bush and Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida.

George W. Bush became Texas Governor in 1994 and went on to win the presidency in 2000, and also won a second term in 2004, a feat his father did not have.

Jeb Bush became the 43rd governor of Florida in 1999 and was a Republican presidential aspirant in 2016 but lost to Donald Trump.

Her husband, the nation’s 41st president, is now 93 years old and struggling with a Parkinson’s-like disease that has confined him to a wheelchair and made it difficult for him to speak.

Jean Becker, chief of staff at George H.W. Bush office said the former president was “broken-hearted to lose his beloved Barbara, his wife of 73 years”.

“He held her hand all day today and was at her side when she left this good earth,” he said

She had been hospitalised multiple times throughout the year due to complications involving chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure.

In January 2017, Barbara and her husband were hospitalised at the same time and while she was being treated for bronchitis, her husband was being treated for pneumonia.

Barbara’s funeral is expected to be held at St. Martin’s Church in Houston, where she and the former president have been devoted members for decades.

Born in 1925 to Pauline and Marvin Pierce in New York City, Barbara met George Herbert Walker Bush at age 16, and they wedded on Jan. 6, 1945.