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Saudi king praises his son, avoids mention of Khashoggi killing in annual speech – National

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Monday gave his first major speech since the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents, expressing support for his son, the crown prince, and making no mention of allegations that the young royal ordered the killing.

The annual policy speech by the king instead highlighted Saudi Arabia’s priorities for the coming year, focusing on issues such as the war in Yemen, security for Palestinians, stability in the oil market, countering rival Iran and job creation for Saudis.

READ MORE: Saudi Arabia an ally despite ‘vicious’ Jamal Khashoggi murder, Trump says

The king voiced support for his favored son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, saying that the 32-year-old heir to the throne is focused on developing the capabilities of Saudi youth. The prince oversees all major levers of power in the kingdom, ranging from security to the economy.

“The country is working tirelessly to create more jobs and training for Saudi youth,” Salman said.

“The crown prince, chairman of the Council of Economic Affairs and Development, has focused on developing human capabilities and preparing the new generation for future jobs.”

King Salman spoke in the ornate hall of the consultative Shura Council before the country’s ministers, senior officials, military officers and clerics. Prince Mohammed was in attendance and seated next to the country’s top cleric.

In the wake of Khashoggi’s Oct. 2 killing inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the 82-year-old monarch put Prince Mohammed in charge of overseeing the reorganization of intelligence services. The king’s speech made no reference to that, but he did commend Saudi Arabia’s judiciary and public prosecution for their work in seeking justice in accordance with Islamic law.

WATCH: Saudi Arabia seeking the death penalty for five suspects accused of killing Jamal Khashoggi






He said the kingdom “takes pride in the blessed efforts” of the judiciary and public prosecution, adding that Saudi Arabia affirms its commitment to the application of Islamic law.

On Thursday, Saudi prosecutors said they are seeking the death penalty against five men suspected of killing Khashoggi, who had written critically of the crown prince in columns for The Washington Post. The prosecutor’s announcement sought to quiet the global outcry over Khashoggi’s death and distance the killers and their operation from the crown prince.

U.S. intelligence officials, however, have concluded that the crown prince ordered the killing, according to a U.S. official familiar with the assessment. Others familiar with the case caution that while it’s likely that the crown prince was involved in the death, there continue to be questions about what role he played.

READ MORE: CIA reportedly concludes Saudi crown prince ordered Jamal Khashoggi’s killing

Saudi investigators say a high-ranking adviser to the crown prince, Saud al-Qahtani, and a senior intelligence official, Ahmed al-Assiri, concocted a plan to force Khashoggi to return to Saudi Arabia, deeming his presence abroad as a threat to national security.

Saudi prosecutors say the 15-man team sent to Istanbul exceeded their authority when the lead negotiator in the team decided to kill Khashoggi for refusing orders to return. The Saudis say the agents killed Khashoggi with tranquilizers and then dismembered his body, which has not been found.

Those findings came after Saudi authorities spent weeks denying Khashoggi had been killed in the embassy.

WATCH: Trump will speak to Mike Pompeo, CIA about Jamal Khashoggi






This past week, U.S. intelligence officials briefed members of the Senate and House intelligence committees on their conclusions, and the Treasury Department announced economic sanctions on 17 Saudi officials suspected of being responsible for or complicit in the killing. Among those sanctioned was al-Qahtani, who was fired from his post as the crown prince’s adviser after details of the killing emerged.

President Donald Trump has said his administration will get “a very full report,” including who was responsible for Khashoggi’s death, on Monday or Tuesday. Trump has criticized the Saudi response to the killing, but has been reluctant to say definitively if he thinks the crown prince ordered it.

Batrawy reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press writer Malak Harb contributed to this report from Dubai.



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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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