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Burundi's Nkurunziza hails chosen successor's election victory - Al Jazeera English
Evariste Ndayishimiye declared winner of presidential vote, but main opposition pledges to contest result in court.
Burundi's longtime President Pierre Nkurunziza has congratulated the governing party's hand-picked successor on a "large victory" in the country's presidential election, though the main opposition has pledged to contest the result in court. The election commission on Monday declared Evariste Ndayishimiye, a former army general chosen by the CNDD-FDD party as heir to Nkurunziza, the winner of the May 20 poll with 68.72 percent vote. More: "I warmly congratulate the President-elect General Major Evariste Ndayishimiye for his large victory which confirms that the great majority of Burundians adhere to the projects and the values he embodies," Nkurunziza, who chose not to run after 15 years in power, posted on Twitter. "We are privileged witnesses to history. May God bless Burundi!" Agathon Rwasa, Ndayishimiye's main challenger in a race contested by seven candidates, came in a distant second with 24.19 percent of the vote. His National Freedom Council (CNL), however, has rejected the results, alleging cheating by the CNDD-FDD. CNL spokesman Therence Manirambona said on Monday his party was putting together a legal complaint to submit within days "so that the court can take a decision on the massive fraud that marked this electoral farce". The CNDD-FDD defeated the CNL by a similar margin in the legislative elections held on the same day. The polls went ahead with scant regard to the coronavirus outbreak following a tense campaign marked by violence and arbitrary arrests. They also proceeded without the presence of international observers. On May 8, 12 days to the polls and before the scheduled arrival of an East African Community mission to the country, the government said the regional bloc's observers would have to be in quarantine for 14 days, effectively ruling them out of the election process. Ndayishimiye is expected to be sworn in for a seven-year term in late August, when Nkurunziza's term ends. Nkurunziza has been in power since 2005, and his final years in office have been racked by turmoil. His controversial decision to seek a third term in the last election in 2015 sparked mass unrest, violence and an opposition boycott. Burundi is tightly controlled by the governing party and its youth wing has been linked to a forceful crackdown against the government's critics. State security forces have been accused by rights groups and the UN of crimes against humanity and abuses such as torture, disappearances, sexual violence and executions. Ndayishimiye is set to inherit a deeply isolated country, under sanctions and cut off by foreign donors, its economy and national psyche damaged by the years of unrest. It remains to be seen how much influence Nkurunziza will exert going forward, and how freely his successor can reign. Nkurunziza was this year elevated by Burundi's parliament to the rank of "supreme guide for patriotism" and he will continue to be chairman of the governing party's powerful council of elders.
Joe Biden emerges from coronavirus lockdown - Al Jazeera English
Presumptive Democratic nominee and his wife, Jill, appeared in public for the first time in two months.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden emerged from his Delaware home on Monday and made his first in-person appearance in more than two months to mark the Memorial Day holiday in the United States by laying a wreath at a veterans' park near his home. Since abruptly cancelling a March 10 rally in Cleveland at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the presumptive Democratic nominee has waged much of his campaign from his home in Wilmington, Delaware. When Biden appeared on Monday, he wore a face mask, in contrast to President Donald Trump, who has refused to cover his face in public. More: The appearance was a milestone in a presidential campaign that has largely been frozen by the coronavirus outbreak. While the feasibility of traditional events such as rallies and the presidential conventions are in doubt, Biden's emergence suggests he will not spend the nearly five months that remain until the election entirely at home. The coronavirus has upended virtually all aspects of American life and changed the terms of the election. Trump's argument that he deserves another term in office because of the strong economy has evaporated as unemployment rises to levels not seen since the Great Depression in the 1930s. Biden has adjusted to the coronavirus era by building a television studio in his home, which he has used to make appearances on news programmes, late-night shows and virtual campaign events. Some of those efforts have been marred by technical glitches and other awkward moments. Biden's advisers say they plan to return to normal campaign activities at some point, including travel to battleground states But they are in no hurry, preferring to defer to the advice of health experts and authorities' stay-at-home and social distancing recommendations. At 77, Biden is among the nation's senior population thought to be especially vulnerable to the effects of the coronavirus - though so is Trump, who turns 74 next month. "We will never make any choices that put our staff or voters in harm's way," Biden campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon said recently, adding that the campaign would resume more traditional activities "when safety allows, and we will not do that a day sooner". Trump has not resumed the large rallies that were the hallmark of his 2016 campaign and presidency but has begun travelling outside Washington in recent weeks. He visited a facility producing face masks in Arizona and a Ford plant in Michigan that has been converted to produce medical and protective equipment. The presidency is about a lot more than tweeting from your golf cart. It requires taking on the ultimate responsibility for the biggest decisions in the world. Donald Trump simply wasn't prepared for that. I promise you I will be. Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) May 24, 2020 Trump even played golf at his club in Virginia on the weekend, hoping that others will follow his lead and return to some semblance of normal life and gradually help revive an economy in free fall. It was the president's first trip to one of his money-making properties since March 8, when he visited his private golf club in West Palm Beach. The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic on March 11, and Trump followed with the national emergency declaration two days later. Trump was spending Memorial Day visiting Arlington National Cemetery and the Fort McHenry national monument in Baltimore, to be followed by a trip to Florida's coast on Wednesday to watch to US astronauts blast into orbit.
US demands investigation into African Development Bank's decision - Aljazeera.com
Akinwumi Adesina is accused of handing contracts to acquaintances and appointing relatives to powerful positions.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin rejected plans by the African Development Bank's board to end an investigation into its president, Akinwumi Adesina, and called for an independent probe into allegations against him. In a letter dated May 22 and addressed to Niale Kaba, chairwoman of the bank's board of governors, Mnuchin said the Treasury disagrees with findings by the bank's ethics committee that "totally exonerated" Adesina. Kaba confirmed receipt of the document and declined further comment. The intervention by the Treasury, the AfDB's biggest non-African shareholder, comes two weeks after the ethics committee found no evidence to support allegations of favoritism by Adesina. The 60-year-old bank chief, who has repeatedly refuted the allegations, is the only candidate up for election as president at an annual general meeting scheduled for August. "We have deep reservations about the integrity of the committee's process," Mnuchin said. "Instead, we urge you to initiate an in-depth investigation of the allegations using the services of an independent outside investigator of high professional standing." The U.S. Treasury didn't immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. Adesina was accused by a group of unidentified whistleblowers of handing contracts to acquaintances and appointing relatives to strategic positions at the Abidjan-based lender. "Considering the scope, seriousness, and detail of these allegations against the sole candidate for bank leadership over the next five years, we believe that further inquiry is necessary to ensure that the AfDB's president has broad support, confidence, and a clear mandate from shareholders," Mnuchin said. The U.S. has a 6.5% stake in the lender, the largest shareholding after Adesina's home country of Nigeria as of November 2019, according to the AfDB's website. U.S. criticism of the bank's internal processes follows comments by World Bank President David Malpass in February that multilateral lenders including the AfDB tend to provide loans too quickly, and, in the process, add to African nations' debt problems. The bank rebutted the statements as "inaccurate and not fact-based." The AfDB is Africa's biggest multilateral lender and has an AAA rating from Fitch Ratings, Moody's Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings. Its shareholders are Africa's 54 nations and 27 countries in the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Asia. In March, the lender issued a $3 billion social bond to help African countries deal with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Bids for the securities on the London money market exceeded $4.6 billion. The bank also launched a $10 billion crisis-response facility for African nations.
Bolivia's health minister held for 'ventilator corruption' - Al Jazeera English
Police arrest Navajas, a day after President Anez orders an investigation into the shady purchase of ventilators.
Bolivia's health minister was arrested on suspicion of corruption related to the overpriced purchase of ventilators to fight COVID-19 before being sacked by interim President Jeanine Anez. Marcelo Navajas was detained by police in La Paz, police Colonel Ivan Rojas said on Wednesday, a day after Anez ordered an investigation into the questionable purchase. Two other health ministry officials were also arrested. More: Anez is facing her biggest corruption scandal in her six months in power and a fierce wave of criticism over her handling of the crisis. Bolivia bought 179 ventilators for $27,683 each from a manufacturer in Spain - costing almost $5m - a purchase funded by the Inter-American Development Bank. However, it later transpired that the manufacturer was offering ventilators for approximately half that price - 9,500-11,000 euros each ($10,312-$11,941). Another Spanish company acted as an intermediary. Anez said on Twitter that Bolivia had already sent more than $2m to pay for the ventilators but "will not pay one more cent". She said she was committed to "recovering the money of Bolivians". The scandal came to light at the end of last week when intensive care doctors complained that the ventilators were not suitable for Bolivian intensive care units. Anez "decided to remove the health minister" to "avoid any interference in the work of the law," said the government's communications chief Isabel Fernandez. Bolivia has reported 4,500 COVID-19 cases and 190 deaths. On March 17, the government closed the landlocked South American country's borders and instigated a general lockdown. The socially and politically conservative Anez took office on November 12, one day after left-wing president Evo Morales resigned following days of violent unrest.
Hundreds killed in inter-communal clashes in South Sudan - Al Jazeera English
An MSF staffer and two other aid workers were also killed in the violence over the weekend in the Jonglei state.
At least 287 people, including a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) staff member and two other aid workers, have been killed in the most recent spat of inter-communal violence in the eastern state of Jonglei in South Sudan, government authorities have told Al Jazeera. At least 300 people were wounded in the violence, which broke out between the Murle and Lou Nuer ethnic communities on Saturday, according to the government. Many suffered gunshot wounds and other trauma, according to health workers. More: Meanwhile, a patrol from the UN Mission to South Sudan has been sent to the town of Pieri to interview survivors, the organisation said in a statement on Wednesday. "The team is investigating reports that many people were killed, injured and lost their homes," the statement said, adding that "many" huts were burned to the ground. The UN mission said it had not independently verified the death toll, saying, "it is difficult to verify the number of casualties given conflicting reports and claims". Government officials told Al Jazeera the figure was expected to rise. MSF confirmed that one member of its staff had been killed in the fighting. The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan said two other aid workers for other groups were also killed. "We have a primary healthcare centre in the town of Pieri that was active at the time the fighting broke out," Steve MacKay, the deputy head of the MSF mission in South Sudan said. "One of our colleagues who lives in that area was killed during that incident over the weekend." The organisation has resumed its work in the region after briefly pausing following the attack, he said. The Uror county commissioner, John Dak Gatluak, told the DPA news agency that heavily armed men from the Murle ethnic group had attacked six villages in Saturday's violence. Local authorities believe the attack was carried out in revenge for a similar incident in February, when men from the Lou Nuer ethnic group had raided cattle and abducted children from the Murle. South Sudan is emerging from a brutal six-year civil war that left 380,000 dead and millions displaced. President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar, the former rebel leader, reached a deal to form a unity government in February but remain at odds over issues including who will govern the country's 10 internal states. While political violence has calmed in the country since that agreement, the lack of state governors has created a "vacuum of power" that fosters the inter-communal violence, David Shearer, the UN Special Representative to South Sudan told Al Jazeera. "The governor is a very, very important person in the state because they bring together many of the tribes. They also have the authority to reconcile and take action where there's non-compliance," Shearer said. The tensions have also been inflamed by flooding in August that killed thousands of cattle. "These societies are very much focused in and around cattle and their survival is dependent on cattle," he said. "The fact that so many cattle have died has put real economic pressure on the societies."
Confirmed coronavirus cases close in on 5 million: Live updates - Al Jazeera English
More than 4.9 million patients diagnosed with COVID-19; more than 323,000 deaths recorded worldwide.
- The number of deaths in a single day reached a record in Brazil - the country with the world's third-biggest outbreak of coronavirus.
- World Health Organization (WHO) member states agreed on a review of the global pandemic response at a virtual meeting of the World Health Assembly.
- China has accused the United States of smearing Beijing and shirking responsibilities to the UN health agency after President Donald Trump threatened to quit the organisation.
- Globally, there have been more than 4.9 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 323,000 people have died, according to the Johns Hopkins University. More than 1.7 million people have recovered.
Niger says 75 Boko Haram fighters killed in two operations - Al Jazeera English
The defence ministry says the fighters were killed in southeast Niger and in neighbouring Nigeria.
Approximately 75 members of the Boko Haram armed group have been killed in the southeast Sahel state of Niger and in neighbouring Nigeria. Twenty-five "terrorists" were killed on Monday south of Diffa, the main city in southeast Niger, while "about 50 ... were neutralised" on the same day on Nigerian soil in the Lake Chad region in two operations by a regional force, the defence ministry said in a statement quoted by the AFP news agency on Wednesday. More: On Monday, troops from Niger's contingent in the regional force carried out "aggressive reconnaissance" on the banks of the Komadougou river and clashed with Boko Haram fighters at a locality 74km (45 miles) south of Diffa, the ministry said. "All the terrorist group" comprising 25 combatants was killed, it said, adding that two soldiers were injured. The same day, approximately 50 "enemy elements" were "neutralised" in coalition air raids and artillery bombardment of Tombon-Fulani, an island in the marshy Lake Chad region in northeastern Nigeria, the defence ministry added. "Shelters and logistical dumps" were also destroyed, it said. Fighters carried out a major attack against a Nigerien military camp outside Diffa on May 3, killing two soldiers and wounding three others, according to the government. Boko Haram has killed more than 36,000 people and caused the displacement of nearly two million from their homes in northeastern Nigeria since 2009. The violence spilled over into neighbouring Sahel countries in 2015, especially in the Lake Chad region, where the borders of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria converge. Diffa, a city of 200,000 people located near the Nigerian border, has been repeatedly attacked. The region is home to 120,000 refugees from Nigeria as well as 110,000 people internally displaced within Niger, according to UN data released in October. The countries about Lake Chad, together with Benin, have set up a combined group, the Multinational Joint Task Force, to counter the fighters.
Senegalese engineering students fight coronavirus with inventions - Al Jazeera English
Students at top Dakar school turn skills towards easing pressure on hospitals with innovations such as medical robots.
Engineering students in Senegal have joined their country's fight against the coronavirus pandemic with inventions such as automatic sanitiser dispensers and medical robots. The students attending a top engineering school in the capital, Dakar, have turned their technical skills towards easing pressure on the wards - and they are already in talks with hospitals over some of their innovations. More: One example is a small robot, dubbed "Dr Car", which will be able to measure patients' blood pressure and temperature, according to students from Dakar's Ecole Superieure Polytechnique (ESP). The university is considered one of West Africa's best for engineering and technology, and is highly selective, with 28 nationalities represented among its 4,000 students. Lamine Mouhamed Kebe, one of the students who conceived the robot, said the machine would reduce the exposure of doctors and nurses to infected patients and use of expensive protective gear. "At a certain point ... we realised that medical equipment was limited," the 23-year-old told AFP news agency. "We can do something." Guided by a mounted camera and controlled via an app, doctors will also be able to communicate with patients through the robot, Kebe said, potentially allowing them to treat people isolated in hard-to-reach rural areas.
As new coronavirus cases emerge, oil prices and stocks fall - Aljazeera.com
New outbreaks have been reported in South Korea and in China, where the health crisis started before spreading globally.
Oil prices fell on Wednesday on concerns about a possible second wave of coronavirus cases in countries easing lockdowns, which could prompt renewed movement restrictions, while industry data showed United States crude inventories are still rising. The concerns overshadowed a further call by Saudi Arabia for larger production cuts to balance the market following a virus-induced demand slump, after the Organization of the Petroleum Export Countries' (OPEC) biggest producer said earlier this week it planned to cut output again. More: Brent crude dropped 40 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $29.58 per barrel by 06:58 GMT, having risen 1.2 percent on Tuesday. West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 10 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $25.68 a barrel, after rising 6.8 percent in the previous session. "Oil prices are being undercut by fears that a resurgence of the coronavirus may prompt countries to keep lockdowns in place for longer, hurting global economic activity and energy demand," said Avtar Sandu, manager, commodities at Phillip Futures in Singapore. Share markets were also under pressure with the pan-European STOXX 600 index down by 1.1 percent by 0710 GMT. Stocks in Asia were mixed, with losses in Hong Kong and Japan but gains in South Korea and India. US infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci on Tuesday told Congress that easing coronavirus lockdowns may set off new outbreaks of the illness, which has killed 80,000 Americans and badly damaged the world's biggest economy and oil consumer. New outbreaks have been reported in South Korea and in China, where the health crisis started before spreading around the world, prompting governments to lock down billions of people, devastating economies and demand for oil. The northeastern Chinese city of Jilin imposed travel restrictions on Wednesday, closed off residential areas and banned gatherings after several coronavirus cases were confirmed there. On the supply side, Saudi Arabia's cabinet has urged OPEC+ countries to reduce oil output further to restore balance in global crude markets, the country's state news agency reported early on Wednesday. Kuwait Petroleum Corp (KPC) will export less crude oil in June by requiring customers to cut 5 percent from the volume of their cargoes in line with the so-called operational tolerance clause in their contracts, two sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Wednesday. On Monday, Saudi Arabia said it would add to planned cuts by reducing production by a further 1 million barrels per day (bpd) next month, bringing output down to 7.5 million bpd. OPEC and other producers such as Russia - a group known as OPEC+ - agreed to cut output by 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) in May and June, a record reduction, in response to a 30 percent fall in global fuel demand. In the US, inventories of crude oil rose by 7.6 million barrels last week to 526.2 million barrels, against analysts' expectations for an increase of 4.1 million barrels, the American Petroleum Institute (API) said on Tuesday. Still, stocks of crude at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub fell by 2.3 million barrels, API said, which, if confirmed by official data, would be the first drawdown since February, according to ING Economics. "Concerns over hitting storage capacity have eased, as we see demand gradually recovering, along with supply cuts hitting the market," ING said in a note, pointing to the decline in Cushing stocks. Official storage data from the US Energy Information Administration is due later on Wednesday. Vandana Hari, founder and CEO of energy research firm Vanda Insights, said in a note that both the supply and demand pictures suggest that oil prices are at a turning point, but that any future gains are likely to be slow. "The market appears sharply divided between participants confident that we are past the inflection point and ones that regard the rebound as irrational exuberance," Hari said in the note distributed by the Smartkarma platform and seen by Al Jazeera.
Oil rises as OPEC looks to deepen, extend supply cuts - Aljazeera.com
Saudi Arabia said it would add to existing cuts by reducing output another one million bpd next month.
Oil prices rose on Tuesday after OPEC's de facto leader, Saudi Arabia, said it would increase supply curbs in June. Meanwhile, other members of the oil-producing group said they want to extend the deep cuts reached in April for a longer period than originally agreed. OPEC and its allies, a group known as OPEC+, decided in April to cut output by 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) for May and June in response to the 30 percent worldwide drop in fuel demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The group was expected to curtail that reduction to eight million bpd, but sources told Reuters they instead expect OPEC to maintain the larger reduction. More: United States West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures settled at $25.78 a barrel, up $1.64, or 6.8 percent. Brent crude futures settled at $29.98 a barrel, gaining 35 cents, or 1.2 percent. On Tuesday, four sources told Reuters that OPEC and its allies want to maintain the 9.7 million bpd cut beyond June, when the OPEC group is next due to meet. "They don't want to reduce the size of the cuts," one OPEC source told Reuters. Saudi Arabia said on Monday that it would add to existing cuts by reducing output another one million bpd next month, slashing total production to 7.5 million bpd, down nearly 40 percent from April. The United Arab Emirates and Kuwait also committed to slashing an extra 180,000 bpd in total, adding to reductions the producers agreed to under a deal between OPEC and its allies. "The idea that the Saudis and Kuwaitis and the UAE said that they're going to enact deeper cuts than they initially agreed upon is helping the market find support," said Gene McGillian, vice president of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut. Kazakhstan has ordered producers in large and mid-sized oil fields to cut output by about 22 percent in May to June, while output from Russia's top oil region in western Siberia is expected to fall by 15 percent this year, in line with the OPEC deal. The US Energy Information Administration said it expects worldwide demand for oil to drop by 8.1 million bpd to 92.6 million bpd, a sharp revision from its previous report. It also cut its expectations for US supply in 2020, now seeing a drop of 540,000 bpd to 11.69 million bpd, and said total world supply would be 95.2 million bpd. US crude producing states have logged output cuts, as collapsing prices prompted independent and integrated producers to reduce operations. US crude futures have lost roughly 60 percent so far this year. US crude oil inventories rose last week while petrol stocks fell, data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute showed. Crude inventories rose by 7.6 million barrels to 526.2 million barrels, API said, a build that exceeded analysts' expectations for 4.1 million barrels. Petrol stocks fell by 1.9 million barrels, a draw that was shy of the 2.2 million barrels analysts had predicted. US Energy Information Administration storage data is due on Wednesday.