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Niger crisis: ECOWAS Heads say all options still on table



Niger crisis: ECOWAS Heads say all options still on table

The ECOWAS Heads of State and Government have agreed to continue the dialogue option while not dismantling the existing sanctions taken at the last summit.

President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Touray, disclosed this at the end of the second extraordinary summit on the political situation in the Niger Republic on Thursday in Abuja.

He said that the military chiefs of the region have also been given further directive to activate the standby force to serve as a last option in restoring constitutional government of President Mohammed Bazoum.

‘’Direct the President of the Commission to monitor the implementation of the sanctions.

‘’Direct the Committee of the chief of defense staff to activate the ECOWAS standby force with all its elements immediately.

‘’Order the deployment of the ECOWAS standby force to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger.

‘’Underscore its continued commitment for the restoration of constitutional order through peaceful means,’’ he said.

He said that the ECOWAS would need the support of partner countries and institutions including the United Nation on the restoration of peace and stability in the sub-region.

Earlier in his opening speech, President Bola Tinubu, who is the Chair ECOWAS Heads of States and Government, said that the body was still optimistic of achieving a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

He said that the ECOWAS Heads were desirous of reaching a consensus on the crisis as a way of setting exemplary precedence in the region against undemocratic change of government.

‘’As you may recall, we called on the junta to rescind its decision of toppling a legitimate government. We proceeded to impose sanctions with the hope that this resolute measure would serve as a catalyst for the restoration of the constitutional order in Niger.

‘’Regrettably, the seven-day ultimatum we issued during the first Summit has not yielded the desired outcome. Only through this comprehensive assessment can we collectively chart a sustainable path towards lasting peace, stability, and prosperity in Niger.

‘’More so, in reaffirming our relentless commitment to democracy, human rights, and the well-being of the people of Niger, it is crucial that we prioritize diplomatic negotiations and dialogue as the bedrock of our approach.

‘’We must engage all parties involved, including the coup leaders, in earnest discussions to convince them to relinquish power and reinstate President Bazoum.’’

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that some of the resolutions at the last summit include the closure of all land and air borders between 15-member ECOWAS nations and Niger.

The Niger military and anybody backing the coup will no longer enjoy any financial transaction within the region either as government or individuals, he said.

Similarly, travel ban was placed on the junta, its officials and families until the restoration of democratic institutions.


Putin Registers As Candidate For Russia’s Next Presidential Election



Russia on Monday officially recognised Vladimir Putin as a candidate for the presidential elections in March, a vote that he is all but certain to win.

The 71-year-old has led Russia since the turn of the century, winning four presidential ballots and briefly serving as prime minister in a system where opposition has become virtually non-existent.

The Central Election Commission said it had registered Putin, who nominated himself, as well as right-wing firebrand and Putin-loyalist Leonid Slutsky as candidates for the vote.

The election will be held over a three-day period from March 15 to 17, a move that Kremlin critics have argued makes guaranteeing transparency more difficult.

Following a controversial constitutional reform in 2020, Putin could stay in power until at least 2036.

Rights groups say that previous elections have been marred by irregularities and that independent observers are likely to be barred from monitoring the vote.

While Putin is not expected to face any real competition, liberal challenger Boris Nadezhdin has passed the threshold of signatures to be registered as a candidate.

However, it is still unclear if he will be allowed to run, and the Kremlin has said it does not consider him to be a serious rival.

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Hong Kong court grants Chinese real estate giant reorganisation postponement



Hong Kong’s Supreme Court has once again granted the highly indebted Chinese real estate giant Evergrande a postponement for its reorganisation plan.

Judge Linda Chan surprisingly postponed the decision until Jan. 29, the South China Morning Post reported on Monday.

The property developer, which has liabilities estimated at more than 300 billion dollars, is threatened with liquidation.

However, creditors from abroad had taken the company to court because of its missing several payments.

Chan had already said at the previous hearing that this would be the last postponement and that she would very likely agree to liquidation if China Evergrande did not find a plan for restructuring with its creditors.

According to reports, however, the lawyers of the Hong Kong-listed group had now held out the prospect of being able to reach an agreement with the lenders in the coming weeks.

In the case of liquidation, an insolvency administrator would monetise the company and pay out the creditors.

Meanwhile, some experts were of the opinion that liquidation would return less money to creditors than a reorganisation, China Evergrande argued the same in court, according to reports.

The group had been trying to submit a restructuring plan since 2022, without success. Its founder and once China’s richest man, Hui Ka Yan, is being investigated by the Chinese authorities.

Like many other property groups, the company had been in a serious crisis for some time because it is earning significantly less on the slumping property market.

The company is finding it more difficult to obtain state support and is no longer able to service its loans.

“The Evergrande case also shows that the era of large private property developers in China is coming to an end,’’ says Max Zenglein from the Merics China Institute in Berlin.

If Chan decides to wind up China Evergrande, this could also have an impact on other companies.

“One challenge for the government will be to prevent domino effects in the economy caused by major bankruptcies,’’ says Zenglein.

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