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Brexit deal possible in next 48 hours, Theresa May’s deputy says – National

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Britain and the European Union are on the cusp of a Brexit deal which could be clinched in the next 24 to 48 hours, Prime Minister Theresa May’s de facto deputy said on Tuesday.

While officials choreograph the biggest divorce deal in EU history, it remains unclear whether May can get a deal through parliament, where opponents have said she is betraying Brexit by signing up the United Kingdom to EU subjugation.


READ MORE:
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“We’re not quite there yet,” Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington told BBC radio. “We are almost within touching distance now.”

Asked if he was saying it was possible there could be a deal in the next 24 or 48 hours, he said: “Still possible but not at all definite, I think pretty much sums it up. Cautiously optimistic.”

Sterling jumped half a percent to as high as $1.2917 on Lidington’s comments.

The EU wants to get agreement on a draft deal by the end of Wednesday at the latest if there is to be a summit this month to approve it, although few in Brussels seemed to hold out much hope that a breakthrough could come this week.

WATCH: Dutch PM discusses role Netherland and Canada must play post-Brexit






Brussels diplomatic sources said the bloc was trying to cajole May into sealing a deal this week and rubber-stamping it later this month, fearing that any delay would increase the chances of rejection by her ministers or parliament.

Leaving approval until the next scheduled EU summit on Dec. 13-14 would mean British lawmakers would not vote on a deal until after Jan. 7 when they return from holiday.

“That’s giving the opponents of the deal a lot of time to pull together a campaign to vote it down. That’s why everyone on our side is pushing so hard for November,” one source said.

The EU and the United Kingdom need an agreement to keep trade flowing between the world’s biggest trading bloc and the fifth largest national economy.

But May has struggled to untangle nearly 46 years of membership without damaging trade or upsetting the lawmakers who will ultimately decide the fate of any deal she can secure.

WATCH: Tens of thousands rally on streets of London, U.K. demanding second Brexit vote






‘Temporary and not indefinite’

With under five months until Britain leaves the EU, the so-called Northern Irish backstop is the main outstanding issue.

It is an insurance policy to avoid a return to controls on the border between the British province of Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland if a future trading relationship is not agreed in time.

Asked if the UK could be trapped in a backstop against its will, Lidington said: “The prime minister has said again and again, if the backstop were ever to be used – we don’t want it to be used – … it’s clearly got to be something that would be temporary and not indefinite.”


READ MORE:
Theresa May admits that leadership talk during Brexit is ‘irritating’

But the intricacies of any deal, hammered out in late-night sessions at the European Commission’s modernist Berlaymont building in Brussels, are unlikely to change the growing opposition to May.

By seeking to leave the EU while preserving the closest possible ties, May’s compromise plan has upset Brexiteers, pro-Europeans, Scottish nationalists, the Northern Irish party that props up her government, and some of her own ministers.

“No one is fooled by this theater. Delay after staged-managed delay,” former foreign secretary Boris Johnson said. “A deal will be reached and it will mean surrender by the UK.”

Johnson, a prominent Brexit campaigner who resigned from May’s government in July over her strategy, said the deal would turn Britain into a colony of the EU.

WATCH: Boris Johnson slams Theresa May for ‘miserable’ Brexit deal in resignation speech






Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab said he was confident of progress in talks, though he gave no further details.

Lidington, who voted to stay in the EU in the 2016 referendum, declined to say whether the proposed deal would make the United Kingdom wealthier or poorer, saying that the people had decided to leave the EU.

Asked whether Britain would have to start preparing in earnest for a “no-deal” Brexit if an agreement were not clinched by the end of Wednesday, as newspapers have reported, he said: “I’m not going to ascribe days to particular actions.”



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FOREIGN NEWS

Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

Contrary to the expectations of the people, the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) has termed the Tuesday, August 18 military coup in the West African nation as “regrettable” and “a big failure for our democracy” and called for a change of mentality if the country has to put an end to coups.

In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, August 19, made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA, the President of CEM, Bishop Jonas Dembélé said that the governance challenges the country is facing can be managed through dialogue.

“The military coup that led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is regrettable because we are in a state of law and democracy. This is the second time that Mali has had a military coup as a result of the way in which the country is governed. It is a big failure for our democracy even if there were reasons for it,” Bishop Dembélé told ACI Africa.

“It is true that our country has serious challenges including bad governance, the poor management of the economy, corruption, insecurity and so on,” Bishop Dembélé said and probed, “Why is it that we Malians have not managed to engage in dialogue to be able to discuss these problems and face up to these challenges responsibly?”

“Our leaders, our people lack transparency, they hate those who speak the truth and advocate for good governance. This mentality must change for our country to move on,” the Prelate told ACI Africa August 19.

Bishop Dembélé who is a frontline member of RECOWA-CERAO urged the military officials “to ensure a return to democracy as promised but most especially ensuring the new leadership of the country put the people first and tackle the security challenges facing the nation.”

Asked about the role of the Church in the current crisis, the 57-year-old Prelate noted, “For us the Catholic Church in Mali, our role is to preach peace; our role is to preach dialogue. We shall continue in this path of dialogue for peace just like Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some religious leaders initiated.”

“In a state of law, power is not in the hands of certain individuals but to the people. The anger of our people led to this crisis, but we must work for peace and reconciliation in Mali,” Bishop Dembélé said.

He continued in recollections, “The Bishops in Mali have always issued messages before every election in our country sounding the alert and inviting the government to organize transparent elections, ensure good governance and better management of resources.”
“But it seems our messages are never taken into consideration that is why we find ourselves in this situation today,” the Local Ordinary of Kayes Diocese told ACI Africa and added, “If the opinion of the Episcopal Conference of Mali is needed to mediate in bringing back stability and peace in the country, then we are ready.”

As a way forward, the Bishop urged the people of God in Mali to “seek the path to conversion” and to accept dialogue in the spirit of truth and honesty.
“We all want change in our

country, but this change can only be possible if individually we seek the path to conversion. It is for Malians be they Muslims or Christians or members of traditional religion, to do an examination of conscience and accept personal and community conversion in order to engage in sincere dialogue,” he said.

The Malian Prelate added, “Now there is this coup d’état to demand change we really wonder where change should come from. As long as we don’t change our behavior, our mentality, we will always have a repeat of the current situation.”

On Tuesday, August 18, President Keita announced his resignation and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, Aljazeera reported.
“For seven years, I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country on its feet. If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I do not want any blood to be shed,” President Keita said August 18 during the televised address to the nation.

Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu
RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA

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Harris accepts VP nomination

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Harris accepts VP nomination

Senator Kamala Harris formally accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday following a scathing speech by former President Barack Obama, who said the fate of the nation” depends entirely on the outcome of this election.”

Both Mr. Obama and Harris stressed the importance of voting, with Harris saying “we’re all in this fight together.” Harris sounded an optimistic note by highlighting her personal history and the promise of America, saying she was “so inspired by a new generation.”

“Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy,” she said. “We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.” She called Mr. Trump a “predator” in a speech that came after Mr. Obama issued his most forceful rebuke of his successor to date, saying Mr. Trump “hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”

“This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Mr. Obama said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.

That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”

Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier in the night, both said they had hoped Mr. Trump would rise to the occasion. But they both stressed what they called his failures while in office, with Mr. Obama saying Mr. Trump has shown “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

The Malian soldiers who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organize new elections after their takeover was swiftly condemned by the international community.

In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Colonel Major Ismael Wagué.

“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m

The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France and other allies and foreign nations.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday August 19, 2020 afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission. Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term.

But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.

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