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Saudi-led coalition renews air strikes on Yemen’s Hodeidah port – National

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ADEN — The Saudi-led coalition resumed air strikes on Yemen‘s main port city of Hodeidah after a lull on Monday as Western allies pressed Riyadh to end a war that has left the impoverished country on the verge of starvation.

Air strikes against the Iran-aligned Houthis’ fortifications were halted for more than 12 hours on Monday, and street battles that had been raging for a week on the outskirts of the Red Sea city, trapping civilians and endangering hospitals, died down, residents said.

Air strikes started again later on several areas in Hodeidah province, according to residents and aid groups. The coalition’s warplanes bombed the entrance of Hodeidah port two hours before sunset, killing three guards, a witness and Houthi media said.

The short lull coincided with a visit by British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt to Saudi Arabia to press for an end to the nearly four-year war that has killed more than 10,000 people.

READ MORE: 7-year-old girl whose haunting picture put spotlight on Yemen famine dies: NYT

Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Malki said the offensive on the Houthi-held city was still on.

“The operation is still ongoing. It’s not true that there is a ceasefire in Hodeidah,” Al-Malki told reporters in Riyadh.

The Sunni Muslim coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates has renewed its offensive on Hodeidah, a lifeline for millions of Yemenis, as the U.S. and the U.K. called for a ceasefire amid renewed U.N.-led peace efforts.

Western governments that support the coalition with arms and intelligence have toughened their stance on Yemen after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on Oct. 2 sparked a global outcry and opened Riyadh to possible sanctions.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said there could be no winner in the war and it was time to cut losses.

“It’s a dirty war. The international community needs to say that’s enough. That’s what the U.S. says, we’re saying and the British, too,” he told France 2 television.

The conflict is seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and its arch foe, Iran, a primarily Shiite Muslim country.

CIVILIANS DESPERATE

The U.N. humanitarian co-ordinator in Yemen, Lise Grande, told BBC radio she welcomed the easing in battles as a positive sign, especially for trapped civilians who are “absolutely desperate.”

Another U.N. official told Reuters there are some positive signs that the warring parties are moving toward de-escalation as the United Nations tries to resume peace talks that collapsed in September when the Houthis failed to show up.

The fighting has already disrupted services in May 22 Hospital in the eastern suburbs and forced medical staff and patients in Al-Thawra Hospital, the region’s main medical facility, to flee the complex on Sunday.

“Hundreds of medical workers and patients, including a malnourished woman carrying her daughter in a surgical robe and a man still hooked up to a catheter, fled in terror as a series of large explosions rocked a hospital (al-Thawra) in central Hodeidah,” Amnesty International said, quoting a witness.

Another medical worker who was inside the hospital at the time told Amnesty International that hundreds of patients and staff dodged a “hail of shrapnel” as they fled in panic.

READ MORE: U.S. calls for cease-fire in Yemen within 30 days

International medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said it has treated 134 wounded from the fighting in Hodeidah, including 14 women and 24 children, since Nov. 1.

Hodeidah is an entry point for 80 per cent of the impoverished country’s food imports and relief supplies. The United Nations has warned that any disruption to the port risks triggering a famine.

The coalition intervened in the war in 2015 to restore the internationally recognized government ousted by the Houthis, who control populous areas of Yemen, including the capital, Sanaa.

Riyadh and Abu Dhabi say wresting control of Hodeidah, the Houthis’ main supply line, would force the group to negotiate.

The coalition had abandoned an earlier offensive on the city in June to give peace efforts a chance amid international concern about a humanitarian catastrophe.



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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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