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Matasi excited with big money move to Ethiopia

By VINCENT OPIYO
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Harambee Stars goalkeeper Patrick Matasi on Thursday completed a move to Ethiopian giants St George Sports Club.

Matasi, who joined Tusker from Posta Rangers in June, left the country Thursday morning for Addis Ababa, where he penned a three-year deal worth Sh4 million in one of the most expensive transfers from the SportPesa Premier League in the recent past.

Nation Sport understands that Tusker will pocket Sh4 million out of the deal barely four months after acquiring the 30-year-old on a free transfer from Posta Rangers.

He is reportedly going to earn Sh400,000 in monthly salaries, Sh2.5 million in signing on fee and the club will provide him with a fully furnished house.

“I knew the right time will come for me to make such a professional move. This is just a reward of the hard work I’ve been putting in back home,” Matasi told Nation Sport moments after signing the deal at the club offices in Addis Ababa last evening.

The deal was arrived at after the 29-time Ethiopian Premier League champions scouted him during the two matches of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers against Walya Antelopes last week.

The club, who’ve been monitoring the player since his exploits at the 2017 Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup, completed the paperwork with Tusker on Wednesday night.

Matasi, who has 21 caps for Harambee Stars, has not conceded in the three Afcon qualifiers that he has started, including back-to-back clean sheets against Ethiopia last week.

“It was part of the agreement when we signed him in June that we won’t stand in his way should a deal arise from across the borders,” Tusker Chief Executive Officer Charles Obiny said.

This will be the second multi-million deal the 11-time Kenyan champions has done in recent times, following the exit of Ugandan left back Shaffik Batambuze to Tanzania’s Singida United in the 2017 midseason transfer where the brewers reportedly bagged Sh2 million in transfer fee.

Batambuze has since joined Tusker’s rivals Gor Mahia.

St George, founded in 1935, hosts its matches at 35,000-seater Addis Ababa stadium and will represent the country in next year’s Caf Champions League after clinching their 29th title last year.

The Ethiopian season begins on October 27 with St George away to Bahar Dar Kenema.

Matasi joins compatriots Eric Muranda and Sunday Mutuku who ply their trade with premier league sides Debub Police and Sidama Coffee respectively.

Name: Patrick Musotsi Matasi

Date of Birth: December 11, 1987

Current team: Tusker FC

Previous teams: West Kenya Sugar, AFC Leopards, Posta Rangers


ONEYA: Saying Yes to saying No

By FAITH ONEYA
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I was five years old when I said my first big ‘No’.

It was during a music practical test that was being conducted by Madam Rosaline, a very strict teacher.

One by one, we walked up to her.

“Sing the National Anthem,” she ordered each of us. A similar “exam” was being conducted in the classroom next door too and the air must have been riddled with the innocent voices of ridiculous-sounding children.

My mother tells me that I hated singing, so I devised the perfect reason not to sing when it was my turn.

“I am not going to sing; my mother is also a teacher!” I confidently told the rather bewildered teacher, folding my hands behind my back in defiance.

As a child, I had always imagined that being the child of a teacher earned me a certain immunity — from doing tasks that did not please me, for example.

‘RESPECT’

The other pupils must have looked at me with “respect” but this quickly turned to sympathy when Madam Rosaline asked me to sit alone in the corner (so as not to contaminate the other pupils with rebellion ideas, I imagine) and summoned my mother, who worked in a neighbouring school.

A fuming Mother took me home because I was “suspended”, and spanked my bottom.

She narrated to me a horror story that I remember to date about how the sun was actually God’s eye and that it would come down and melt me in my sleep if I did not sing as required in school.

That night I cried myself to sleep and did not need to be woken up to go to school the next day to atone for my sins.

Later, Mother would show me my grades. I scored the lowest in my class because of kichwa ngumu.

Needless to say that my No’s became fewer and fewer after that. I wanted to be a good girl. I was socialised to be a good girl and the fewer No’s I said, the more difficult they became to say when I needed to say them.

In retrospect, there are some jobs, friendships and romantic relationships I should have said No to immediately they came up. I could have saved myself from a lot of heartache.

AFFECTS WOMEN WORLD OVER

Saying No is a difficult thing for women the world over regardless of race, religion, economic or cultural background. I first came across the phrase ‘Saying yes to saying no’ in the book Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes.

Shonda Rhimes is an extremely successful TV producer, screenwriter, and author. She is the force behind shows such as “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Private Practice”, and “Scandal”.

One would imagine that such a successful, powerful woman would have no trouble saying no. To the contrary, it was only after she embarked on a whole year of saying yes to herself and to opportunities, and to saying no to things that were toxic to her life (including toxic friendships) that she was able to admit that she had trouble saying No.

HURLED INSULTS

In the book, she recounts an incident where an ex-friend hurled insults at her when she (Shonda) said No to lending her money.

It reminded me too of the number of times I said yes to people asking for loans they knew they would never refund.

In an article posted on the Psychology Today website, titled“Why Women Have a Hard Time Saying No”, Dr Kathryn Lively writes that women have trouble saying No because we often play to get along whereas men often play to win. She adds that women will often choose not to say No when someone’s feelings are at stake. It is just how we are socialised but it can be unlearned.

In the ongoing murder case against journalist Jacque Maribe and her fiancé Joseph Irungu aka Joe Jowi, her father is quoted as saying that his daughter is only guilty of love. That may very well be the case, but from reading articles about the gruesome murder, I believe behind the “love victim” label is the inability to just say NO.

I know that there are many No’s that I should have said too in my life. It would certainly mean fewer mediocrities and heartaches.

I think back of myself as a tough five-year-old and wonder what kind of person I would have become if my mother and my teachers had allowed me to say No more often. Would I have been a more assertive and confident person? Would I have made better choices in life?

The “nice girl” rhetoric they fed us on ingrained in us a disturbing desire to be liked and the resultant weakened NO muscle.

Now that I’m raising a daughter, I am letting more No’s leave her mouth than my mother ever did. I try to remember that I’m not raising a robot every time she is rebellious.

But I am also learning to tame her No’s because I’m not raising a little monster either. And who knows? Maybe as she grows older, she will say more and more YESes to saying No.


FEATURE-Go fish! Minnow 'nutrient bombs' deployed to end malnutrition

OU KRALANH, Cambodia/TOLAKCHUIN, India, Oct 18 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – P hally Chhiv placed a pot of simmering soup filled with fish and greens on a wooden platform outside her one-room home in northwestern Cambodia – using nutrient-packed minnows that experts hope can help to end global hunger.

Three children watched their grandmother prepare their lunch with tiny fish from a backyard pond – one of thousands of families across Asia and Africa being given fish by experts as part of a new project aiming to reduce malnutrition and poverty.

“It will help my grandchildren,” Phally Chhiv, 53, dressed in paisley and jungle print blouse with khaki slacks, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in Ou Kralanh, a village about an hour’s drive from Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple complexes.

“They won’t get diseases so often.”

The NutriFish1000 campaign, launched on Wednesday, aims to improve family nutrition in the first 1,000 days of life by getting pregnant women and children to eat small fish – dubbed “nutrient bombs” – grown in ponds and rice paddies.

Global hunger has been on the rise for three years, according to the United Nations (U.N.), which says that one in nine people worldwide do not have enough to eat, and 151 million children under five are stunted by malnutrition.

While almost all rural families in Cambodia eat fish from flooded rice fields during the wet season, stocks have been hit by overfishing and malnutrition remains high because of poverty, disease and a tradition of not feeding fish to young children.

With financing from the World Bank and the U.N., NutriFish1000 projects have been rolled out in six countries, including India and Bangladesh, with plans to expand to Ivory Coast, Malawi and Ghana next year.

NutriFish1000 experts have identified 33 species of locally available small fish, up to 10 cm (4 inches) long, that they intend to promote in countries with high malnutrition rates, said Pawan Patil, a World Bank economist.

“In developed countries, there’s already the knowledge that eating certain kinds of fish is good,” he said.

“We’re now translating that into something that is accessible for the poorest of the poor, especially women and children in rural settings, … to produce these fish in a safe, available, accessible and affordable manner.”

HEALTHY

Cambodians receive 75 percent of their animal protein from fish, according to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization.

However, they tend to eat larger varieties – which are under threat from overfishing and environmental degradation – and ignore small fish, said Bun Chantrea, a project coordinator with Malaysia-based WorldFish, part of the NutriFish1000 initiative.

“About seven years ago, fish in the stream in my village started decreasing,” he said. “Many fishers stopped fishing.”

WorldFish has provided 180 families in Cambodia with tiny fish to breed in ponds on their properties, as well as stocking community ponds, which often overflow into rice paddies in the rainy season, allowing fish to breed there too.

Villagers lay nets in the rice paddies, using tall poles to push canoes through a sea of vivid green rice stalks to harvest their catch.

By eating tiny fish, packed with fats, vitamins and minerals like iron, calcium and zinc, pregnant women and children can get the nutrients they need to be healthy.

“(With) small fish, you can even eat the bones, which have lots of micronutrients,” said Shenggen Fan, head of the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute. “It’s a perception thing. Somehow we think small fish is waste.”

If the trend of breeding small fish for food catches on, minnows could help reduce malnutrition in Cambodia, where one in four children under five are underweight and one in three are stunted, according to government data.

“These small fish are like nutrient bombs,” said Arun Padiyar, a project manager for WorldFish in India’s eastern Odisha state, where 500 households are using fish farms.

WorldFish has entered into a five-year partnership with the government of Odisha with the aim of growing its fisheries sector and attracting private sector investment.

“The catch we get now is much bigger. It has helped me support my four children,” said Parboti Sri, a 45-year-old widow who fishes at a community pond in the village of Tolakchuin.

“There is also more to eat, which is always good,” said Sri, whose earnings have risen by a quarter to about 4,000 Indian rupees ($54) a month since WorldFish stocked a pond earlier this year. ($1 = 73.5200 Indian rupees) (Additional reporting by Thin Lei Win; Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian issues, conflicts, land and property rights, modern slavery and human trafficking, gender equality, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories)


Unidentified gas erupts at borehole site in Nyeri

By GRACE GITAU
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A water agency has discovered an unidentified gas as it was drilling a borehole in the expansive Kieni constituency, Nyeri county.

The National Water Conservation and Pipeline Corporation, who had been contracted by the Nyeri county government to drill the borehole, encountered the gas after reaching 250 feet (76 metres).

“We had reached the maximum distance when water started gushing but there was also some gas. We immediately informed the county and other agencies,” said a worker at the site.

The workers have been forced to halt activities at the site in Mwereri village.

Deputy Governor Caroline Karugu accompanied exploration officers from the Geothermal Development Company and the Department of Mining and Geology to the site and collected samples.

The gas is producing a hissing sound as it escapes into the air. It can be heard from over 50 metres away.

The officers suspect that it could be carbon dioxide, butane or methane. They have however ruled out hydrogen sulphide, which is poisonous and corrosive.

Other agencies that have collected samples at the site include the National Oil Corporation and
and the Department of Mining and Geology.

The samples will be taken to a government laboratory for chemical analysis. The officers also visited three other boreholes in the area and collected water samples for testing.

The borehole is just one of many the county is drilling across the expansive Kieni constituency to address water shortage.

Mr Evans Kago, an officer from the Geothermal Development Company said that the gas is not poisonous.

“We have been here for two days and none of us have been affected by the gas. That should reassure residents that they are safe,” he said.

The results which will be ready in three days will be submitted to the county government for release to the public.

The tests which will also be conducted by the local water provider Nyeri Water and Sanitation Company (Nyewasco) to ascertain if the water is safe for consumption.

The place has been sealed off even as curious residents flocked the farm since the discovery was made on Monday.


Basketball play-offs back at Nyayo

By CAXTON APOLLO
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This year’s Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) men and women’s Premier League play-offs quarter final matches will be played at the Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium Gymnasium starting November 3.

KBF Fixtures Secretary, Joseph Amoko said the federation is negotiating with stadium management to allow the play-offs matches to revert back to their traditional venue, which had been closed for renovation for the last one year.

“Men and women’s Premier League matches including women’s Division One league play-offs will be played at Nyayo Stadium Gymnasium leaving the other lower tier fixtures to remain at USIU-A outdoor courts,” said Amoko.

Amoko said the federation will take responsibility to provide water in the washrooms at the gymnasium to ensure that the play-off matches are hosted without any other hitches.

Last year’s play-offs were played at Africa Nazarene University, restricting a number of fans from attending because of the location.

Play-offs best-of-five finals were held at KPA Makande hall, Mombasa, where KPA men and women’s teams defeated rivals Strathmore Blades and Equity Hawks to be declared the 2017 champions of the two titles for the first time.

He added that USIU-A venue, which has been hosting the regular season matches since March is far, keeping away fans to turn up to cheer their favourite teams.

Amoko said teams, which will scoop the first four top positions on the final regular season league table standings, will enjoy home court advantage in the play-offs.

Champions KPA men and women’s teams, Nakuru Club, Nebulas Kakamega and Eldonet will host their opponents in Mombasa, Nakuru, Kakamega and Eldoret as they are assured of finishing in the top four positions.

Teams expected to grab the top four positions in the men’s Premier League are KPA with 36 points, Ulinzi Warriors (35), KCA-U (31) and Thunder (30).

Women are Equity Bank, who have finished the second leg matches and are on 39 points, KPA (34), Storms (30) and Strathmore University Swords (29).

Men’s Division one teams include Zetech University (35 points), Emyba (32), KDF Morans (30) and Barclays Bank (29).

Amoko said the regular season will conclude on October 28 as teams will be engaged in make-or-break matches to battle for the eight top positions to qualify for the play-offs.

Kenyatta University Oryx, with eight matches to go, will be forced to play four matches this weekend so as to end the second leg in good time.

So far, Ulinzi Warriors and KCA-U have completed their men’s Premier League matches.


TSC, union headed for clash as talks postponed

By VITALIS KIMUTAI
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The seemingly unending spat between the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) took a new twist when the commission deferred a meeting scheduled for Friday.

Ms Nancy Macharia, the commission’s CEO, on Wednesday evening informed Knut Secretary-General Wilson Sossion that the meeting had been put off. “Due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the commission’s control, we regret to inform you that the meeting will not proceed as earlier planned,” said Ms Macharia in the letter in reference to the meeting that was to be conducted at the TSC headquarters.

STOP STRIKE

She further stated, “Accordingly, the commission wishes to therefore seek your indulgence so that the meeting may be rescheduled to a further date that is convenient to both parties. We regret any inconveniences caused. Please accept our apologies.”

Mr Hezbon Otieno, the Knut deputy secretary-general, said in a brief statement: “We are back to the drawing board. A statement on the matter will be issued later by Mr Sossion.” 

The meeting was called by TSC in what was seen as a move to forestall a strike called by Knut to protest a raft of outstanding issues with the commission affecting teachers. The strike was meant to coincide with the commencement of KCSE and KCPE examinations. KCSE candidates are set to start practical subjects on Monday.

Mr Malel Langat, Bomet’s Knut branch executive secretary, called for the overhaul of the TSC management and the removal of Ms Macharia, saying she was “running the commission as a private business entity”.

“The guerrilla tactics being deployed by Ms Macharia and her team at the TSC headquarters must be resisted by all means. It is clear that she had no interest in resolving the row between the teachers’ employer and Knut,” said Mr Langat.

HARD LINE STANCE

TSC had agreed to release 111 Knut branch secretaries to work full time for the union as it declined to reverse the transfer of 85 headteachers who double up as union officials in various branches across the country.

Early this month, a meeting between Knut and TSC ended prematurely in Naivasha after the parties took hard line stance on the issues in dispute.

Knut is demanding a clear career progression for teachers who should be promoted across board and withdrawal of policies they term lopsided as they were allegedly implemented without consultation.

“Delocalisation has negatively impacted on families and should be withdrawn as a matter of urgency. In a situation where both parents are headteachers and have been delocalised, the import is that they have had to abandon their children leading to trauma,” said Mr Sossion in an interview with Nation at the weekend in Bomet.

He added: “Delocalisation, appraisal and development, promotion of teachers, filling of the vacancies in the teaching profession, teacher professional development programmes among others are the issues we want addressed  by TSC which must withdraw skewed policies.”


How Bob Marley's daughter helped Jamaica qualify for World Cup

By BBC SPORT
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Bob Marley is one of Jamaica’s favourite sons, but it is the late musician’s daughter who is hitting the headlines for her part in the nation’s latest sporting success.

Jamaica have become the first Caribbean team to qualify for a women’s football World Cup and it’s Cedella Marley – the first-born daughter of Bob – who the Reggae Girlz have to thank.

In 2010, their team ceased to exist, only for Marley to come on board four years later as an ambassador and sponsor with the Bob Marley Foundation and help turn their fortunes around.

That turnaround was completed in Texas on Wednesday evening, when Jamaica defeated Panama on penalties in the Concacaf Women’s Championship third-place play-off – a feat that has been described in the Jamaican press as “almost super-human”.

Twice Jamaica took the lead over Panama and twice the Central Americans equalised, before Dominique Bond-Flasza scored the winning spot-kick to send the ‘Reggae Girlz’ to next year’s World Cup in France.

“Big up to Cedella Marley for putting her neck on the line for us,” head coach Hue Menzie said after the game.

As fate would have it, their qualification comes on the 20th anniversary of the men’s team reaching their first World Cup, in 1998 – also held in France.

Previously a singer in the family band ‘Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers’, Marley, 51, is now the chief executive officer of her late father’s record label as well as a fashion designer – creating Jamaica’s kit for the London 2012 Olympics.

Eight years ago, the Jamaican Football Federation (JFF) cut funding to its women’s football team, totally disbanding it, leaving the team unranked in the Fifa world rankings due to three years of inactivity.

But in 2014, Marley became the team’s official ambassador and has been working with the Reggae Girlz ever since, while co-lead sponsor Alacran Foundation has also provided what the JFF called “substantial funding” to support the Girlz in their World Cup campaign.

She recently told BBC World Service how she thought the team would become “a very dominant presence” in women’s football, should they ever receive the same amount of investment the nation’s track and field stars receive.

“The Reggae Girlz have held their own against some of the best, mainly on raw talent and passion for the sport,” Marley said.

They will bring that passion to English soil later this month as they play Nottingham Forest Ladies in a friendly on October 28.

The Reggae Girlz will then turn their attention to next year’s French adventure – but not before plenty of celebrations back home.


Prosecution suffers setback in Ojaamong's graft case

By RICHARD MUNGUTI
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Prosecutors in a fraud case against Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong suffered a blow Thursday when a key witness renounced a statement he had allegedly signed.

Busia County Secretary Nicodemus Mulako told the anti-corruption court that he did not record the statement that was shown to him by the prosecutor.

Mr Mulako denied ever recording the statement to implicate the governor and other senior ministers in his local government.

As a consequence the witness was stood down.

Mr Mulako informed Chief Magistrate Douglas Ogoti that when the statement was recorded he had not yet joined the county government as an employee.

“I cannot testify on the strength of a statement which I did not record. By May 7, 2014 I had not joined the county,” Mr Mulako said.

Defence lawyers James Orengo and Dunstan Omari said the witness could not be allowed to testify about matters that he did not know about.

Mr Orengo questioned the validity of the statement and asked the prosecution to produce the original document as it strives to prove the case against the suspects.

Prosecutors admitted that the statement in court was not signed and they did not have the original handwritten statement.

Mr Mulako had been summoned to testify against Mr Ojaamong, who was charged alongside county ministers with conspiracy to defraud the county by engaging in a project without observing due procurement process.

Mr Ojaamong was charged together with county executive officer Bernard Yaite, finance chief officer Allan Ekweny and treasury head Samuel Ombui.

They denied charges of conspiracy to commit an economic crime, abuse of office and engaging in a project without proper planning.

The deal was entered in 2014 for a feasibility study on solid waste management.


UN report urges release of hundreds of abducted civilians in South Sudan

UN report urges release of hundreds of abducted civilians

GENEVA / JUBA (18 October 2018) – A UN report has documented the immense suffering of civilians in the Western Equatoria region of South Sudan where 900 people were abducted and 24,000 forced to flee their homes during a surge in violence between April and August.

In April 2018, after several months of relative calm, the pro-Riek Machar Sudan People’s Liberation Army in-Opposition (SPLA-IO (RM)) intensified attacks against villages and targeted civilians in Gbudue and Tambura. The Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA)’s offensives to dislodge SPLA-IO (RM) forces also resulted in harm to civilians, as these operations failed to distinguish between civilians and combatants, the report by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the UN Human Rights Office says.

Corroborated victim and witness accounts indicate that women and girls as young as 12, abducted by opposition forces, were paraded and lined up for commanders to choose as “wives”. Those who were not chosen were left for other fighters who subjected them to repeated rapes. Abducted young men and boys were forced to be fighters or used as porters.

“Most of the abducted civilians are, as far as we know, still being held captive. The SPLA-IO (RM) must immediately release them, first and foremost the children,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet. “As part of the revitalised peace process, it is also essential that the Government of South Sudan acts to hold the perpetrators of the abuses and violations detailed in this report to account.”

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMISS, David Shearer, said it was disappointing that the spike in violence took place while warring parties were negotiating a new peace agreement and despite positive reconciliation efforts in the affected community at the time.

“A new peace agreement has been signed which puts the onus and responsibility on the warring parties to ensure that no atrocities are committed in future. UNMISS will be closely monitoring any potential violations and abuses,” said David Shearer.

The report documented SPLA-IO (RM) attacks on at least 28 villages, a settlement of internally displaced persons and a refugee camp, in Gbudue and Tambura. Serious abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law occurred during these attacks, including unlawful killings, abduction, rape, sexual slavery, forced recruitment, and destruction of property.

UNMISS Human Rights Division has identified three SPLA-IO (RM) commanders who allegedly had effective command and control of the forces committing these abuses, which may amount to war crimes.

SPLA forces also carried out military operations that were characterized by serious violations, including unlawful killings and destruction of civilian property, particularly around Nagero in May 2018.

Among its recommendations, the report calls for accountability and for the reinforcement of existing recovery and resilience programmes to re-establish access to basic services, particularly medical and psychosocial support for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence, and for the provision of economic alternatives for young fighters.

ENDS
Infographics on the report.
Video footage and interview with the Head of the Human Rights Division of UNMISS.
Interactive map of the area covered in the report.

For more information and media requests, please contact:
In Geneva: Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9711 / rcolville@ohchr.org)
or Liz Throssell (+4122 917 9466 / ethrossell@ohchr.org)
or Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169/ rshamdasani@ohchr.org )

In Juba: Francesca Mold (+211 91 217 0273 / mold2@un.org)

2018 is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70thanniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere toStand Up for Human Rights: www.standup4humanrights.org.


May mulls longer Brexit transition amid EU demands

By AFP
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BRUSSELS,

European leaders insisted Thursday that Prime Minister Theresa May must do more to avoid Britain crashing out of the EU without a deal, even after she indicated she was open to extending a Brexit transition period if it helped unblock negotiations.
At a summit in Brussels, May confirmed that she is considering the extension idea floated by the EU as a possible way to break the deadlock over how to keep Britain’s border with Ireland open after Brexit.
But other EU nations warned this may not resolve the impasse, which has raised fears of the potentially catastrophic scenario of Britain crashing out in March without any agreement.
May’s own officials also admitted that an extension, which has sparked outrage among eurosceptics at home, would not affect London’s position on the Irish border.

FRONTIER CHECKS
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel repeated an earlier call from EU Council President Donald Tusk for the prime minister to act, saying: “More than ever, the ball is in Britain’s court.”
This week’s Brussels summit had been set as the deadline for a draft deal, but the other 27 EU leaders were left once again demanding more progress from London.
Arriving for the second day on Thursday, May noted that both sides remained at odds over a “backstop” plan to avoid frontier checks between Britain and Ireland if and until a new trade deal to resolve the issue can be signed. “A further idea that has emerged – and it is an idea at this stage – is to create an option to extend the implementation period for a matter of months,” she told reporters.
Currently a transition phase is planned from Brexit next March until the end of December 2020, to allow time to sign a new EU-UK trade deal. Extending this could reduce the likelihood of having to use any “backstop” plan, thus taking the heat out of the most contested Brexit issue.
The EU suggests that the British province of Northern Ireland stay aligned to its single market and customs union until a new trade deal is agreed.
But Britain has rejected this, proposing instead that the whole United Kingdom temporarily follow EU customs rules – something Brussels in turn has said is not possible.

IDEAL SOLUTION
A senior British official confirmed on Thursday that even if the transition were extended, Britain remained opposed to the EU’s backstop plan. EU nations also questioned whether the idea would change the situation.
A source in the French presidency warned that an extension “could be part of the discussion but is not an ideal solution”.
Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel added that Britain’s general approach remained a problem. “It’s not possible that the UK keeps all the advantages from the common market, but only under its own conditions,” he told reporters.
Even if May’s suggestion of an extension to the transition is unlikely to break the deadlock in Brussels, it energised her critics in London.
The Conservative leader has been struggling since the 2016 vote for Brexit to find a compromise divorce deal that is acceptable to both the EU and her own MPs, who could block the final accord in the House of Commons.

Boris Johnson and David Davis, two former ministers who quit in July over her approach to Brexit, signed a joint letter demanding Britain avoid the “purgatory of perpetual membership of the EU’s customs union”.

PERSONAL PLEA
On the other side of the political divide, the anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats said extending the transition was another “embarrassing climbdown” for May.
May did little to deflect their anger by suggesting that she did not expect any extension to be used, because she expected a trade deal before December 2020.
The prime minister had made a personal plea to fellow EU leaders on Wednesday to recognise the progress made so far and keep negotiating.
Over dinner afterwards, they agreed to keep talking, but upped the pressure by refusing to sign off on a planned special summit next month to seal the divorce.
Failure to meet in November could see a draft Brexit deal pushed back to a December summit, leaving little time for its ratification by the British and European parliaments.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said EU leaders had asked the bloc’s executive “to work with even more vigour on a no-deal scenario”.