Main Menu

Friday, January 10th, 2020

 

Irlande du Nord: un accord met fin à trois ans de paralysie politique

Publié le 11.01.2020 à 01h50 par AFP

Unionistes et républicains sont parvenus vendredi in extremis à un accord mettant fin à trois ans de paralysie politique en Irlande du Nord, province britannique en première ligne du Brexit, sans gouvernement ni Parlement depuis 2017.

Le DUP et le Sinn Fein, principaux partis en Irlande du Nord, ont validé le projet d’accord publié jeudi soir par le gouvernement britannique, qui offre pour la première fois une reconnaissance officielle à la langue irlandaise.

Faute de consensus d’ici lundi, Londres avait prévu de convoquer des élections locales.

« Le Sinn Fein a décidé de réintégrer le système de partage de la gouvernance de la province », tel qu’il est prévu par l’accord de paix du Vendredi Saint de 1998, « et de nommer des ministres dans un gouvernement fondé sur le partage du pouvoir », a déclaré Mary Lou McDonald, la cheffe de ce parti républicain.

« Nous sommes prêts à retourner aux affaires », a-t-elle ajouté devant la presse, saluant « un jour historique ».

La nouvelle Assemblée de Stormont, à Belfast, siégera dès samedi en début d’après-midi en vue de la désignation d’un gouvernement, dont le Premier ministre et le vice-Premier ministre.

Arlene Foster, la cheffe du parti unioniste DUP, devrait reprendre ses fonctions à la tête du gouvernement, d’après le quotidien local Belfast Telegraph. Elle serait secondée par Michelle O’Neill, du Sinn Fein, vice-Première ministre au sein d’un exécutif qui comprendrait de nombreuses femmes, a également avancé le même journal.

– Dispositions douanières –

Avant le feu vert du Sinn Fein, Arlene Foster, leader d’un parti en perte de vitesse depuis les élections législatives britanniques de décembre, avait déjà salué un compromis « juste et équilibré ».

« C’est un accord qui reconnaît que nous vivons dans une société partagée, c’est un accord qui reconnaît qu’aucune identité ne devrait prendre le dessus sur une autre », a-t-elle développé sur la BBC.

Les sociaux-démocrates du SDLP ont également apporté leur soutien à l’accord.

Le DUP et le Sinn Fein doivent se partager la gouvernance de la province britannique, en vertu de l’accord de paix du Vendredi Saint de 1998, qui a mis un terme aux « Troubles » entre républicains (majoritairement catholiques) et unionistes (surtout protestants). Ces violences ont fait près de 3.500 morts en 30 ans.

Un scandale politico-financier avait fait tomber la précédente coalition gouvernementale en janvier 2017 et plusieurs séries de négociations n’avaient pas permis de lever le blocage. De nouvelles discussions avaient repris mi-décembre, après la victoire des conservateurs de Boris Johnson aux législatives.

« Le défi le plus grand et le plus important est d’assurer que nous ayons un véritable partage du pouvoir fondé sur l’égalité, le respect et l’intégrité », a commenté Mary Lou McDonald.

L’enjeu est d’autant plus crucial que l’assemblée locale, actuellement paralysée, est censée avoir son mot à dire dans les dispositions douanières controversées visant à éviter le retour d’une frontière physique avec la République d’Irlande (membre de l’Union européenne) après la sortie du Royaume-Uni de l’UE le 31 janvier.

– « Identité irlandaise » –

L’accord offre une reconnaissance légale à la langue irlandaise et prévoit d’accélérer le fonctionnement de la justice ou encore des mécanismes pour lutter contre la corruption.

C’est « un jour très, très important et historique, pas seulement pour ceux qui parlent l’irlandais, mais pour la reconnaissance de l’identité irlandaise », a salué Mary Lou McDonald.

Le gouvernement britannique a aussi promis des investissements pour les services publics de la région, la plus défavorisée économiquement du Royaume-Uni, conditionnés au rétablissement des institutions locales.

Un porte-parole du Premier ministre avait dit que le montant de l’enveloppe ne serait communiqué qu’une fois l’accord conclu.

La République d’Irlande avait publié conjointement avec le Royaume-Uni le projet d’accord, reflétant ainsi leur rôle de « cogarant » dans l’accord de paix.

Ces ultimes discussions avaient pour cadre un paysage politique en mouvement sous l’effet du Brexit, contre lequel ont voté la majorité de la province britannique frontalière de la République d’Irlande.

Aux législatives britanniques de décembre, la province a élu pour la toute première fois à Westminster plus de députés républicains (9, dont 7 pour le Sinn Fein et 2 pour le SDLP), partisans d’une réunification avec l’Irlande, que d’unionistes du DUP, favorables à un maintien dans la Couronne britannique.


Tunisie: le Parlement refuse sa confiance au nouveau gouvernement

Publié le 11.01.2020 à 00h50 par AFP

Le Parlement tunisien n’a pas accordé sa confiance au gouvernement proposé par le parti d’inspiration islamiste Ennahdha, relançant les négociations laborieuses pour trouver un cabinet, trois mois après les élections.

Au terme d’une longue journée de débats, et de négociations jusqu’à la dernière minute dans les couloirs du Parlement, seuls 72 députés sur 219 ont approuvé le gouvernement, très loin de la majorité de 109 requise.

Il revient désormais au président Kaïs Saied, un universitaire farouchement indépendant et très critique du système parlementaire, de désigner un autre futur Premier ministre susceptible de convaincre les députés.

Selon la Constitution, M. Saied a un délai de 10 jours pour engager des consultations afin de trouver « la personnalité jugée la plus apte de former un gouvernement dans un délai maximum d’un mois ».

Ce vote est un constat d’échec pour Ennahdha, qui a été directement ou indirectement au pouvoir une bonne partie des neuf dernières années, et ce rebondissement risque de retarder les réformes attendues pour relancer une économie en berne.

Le Parlement issu du scrutin législatif du 6 octobre, est composé d’une multitude de partis antagonistes. Ennahdha ne détient que 54 sièges sur 217, bien qu’il en soit le principal parti, et les négociations laborieuses entre les partis pour former une coalition gouvernementale avaient échoué.

Habib Jemli, choisi le 15 novembre par Ennahdha pour former le gouvernement, avait donc décidé de constituer un cabinet de personnalités « indépendantes », choisies « sur la base de la compétence, l’intégrité (…) et leur capacité à la concrétisation ».

Mais le gouvernement fourni et disparate qu’il a dévoilé le 2 janvier a rapidement été critiqué comme n’étant ni clairement partisan, ni réellement indépendant.

– « Réserves » –

Illustrant les difficultés pour la classe politique divisée à constituer un gouvernement fort et consensuel, Ennahdha avait admis jeudi soir avoir des « réserves » concernant l’équipe présentée par son candidat.

L’élue anti-islamiste Abir Moussi avait de son côté asséné: « Nous n’allons pas accorder notre confiance à un gouvernement d’Ennahdha et des Frères musulmans ». Et d’autres députés mettaient en cause la compétence de certains ministres.

Qalb Tounes, deuxième force au Parlement avec 38 sièges et parti du patron de télévision Nabil Karoui – candidat battu à l’élection présidentielle – a déploré le manque d’indépendance et de programme du cabinet proposé.

Des observateurs et membres de la société civile avaient fustigé la nomination de magistrats considérés comme pro-Ennahdha à la tête des ministères régaliens, tels que la Justice et l’Intérieur.

Le président Saied, très largement élu en octobre, n’a pas d’allié naturel dans l’hémicycle, et peu de choses laissent imaginer les alliances envisageables pour constituer une nouvelle coalition gouvernementale.

Peu après le vote, des députés assurant représenter plusieurs blocs importants, dont Qalb Tounes, ont annoncé avoir constitué un front qu’ils présenteraient au président dans l’espoir que ce dernier leur confie la tâche de constituer le prochain exécutif.

Si le candidat choisi par M. Saied échouait à son tour à former un gouvernement, l’heure serait alors à la dissolution de l’Assemblée, au risque de retarder encore les mesures nécessaires pour juguler l’inflation et le chômage pesant sur les ménages tunisiens.

Tunis a contracté en 2016 auprès du Fonds monétaire international (FMI) un programme prévoyant 2,6 milliards d’euros en contrepartie de vastes réformes, dont certaines sont contestées. Mais en raison de retards accumulés, le pays n’a touché jusque là que 1,4 milliards d’euros sur ces prêts, alors que le programme s’achève en avril et que les premiers remboursements sont dus en novembre cette année.

A l’approche du neuvième anniversaire mardi de la chute du régime de Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, des mobilisations ont eu lieu notamment dans des zones marginalisées de l’intérieur du pays. Et la puissante centrale syndicale UGTT prévoit une manifestation mardi à Tunis.


Prof Kezilahabi: 'Rebel' who pushed boundaries of Kiswahili literature

Euphrase Kezilahabi is arguably the foremost Kiswahili existentialist novelist and poet. He has had a rich and fruitful life in creative writing and academia.

EXTREMELY HUMOROUS

Extremely humorous and playful, Prof Kezilahabi was deeply reflective as he disrupted the Kiswahili literary scene by drawing on Western philosophy and the oral tradition in the Lake Victoria region.

His literary contribution is a consequence of his life experiences and encounters.

Born on April 13, 1944 in Namagondo village, Ukerewe Island, Tanzania, Prof Kezilahabi passed away on January 9, 2020. In 1957, he joined the Catholic Seminary at Nyegezi, where he studied until 1966. A year later, he joined the University of Dar es Salaam to study literature and education. After graduating in 1970, he became a high schoolteacher in Mzumbe, Morogoro, and later in Mkwawa, Iringa, in southern Tanzania. In 1971, he rejoined the University of Dar es Salaam for a Master’s degree in literature.

It is during those early days of graduate studies and teaching Kiswahili literature that his literary philosophy started emerging. In his creative and critical works, he started questioning the essence of life and of ‘being’. These reflections were further sharpened during his PhD studies at the University of Wisconsin, in the United States, where he wrote a thesis on African philosophy and the problem of literary interpretation. His last position was that of professor of African literature at the University of Botswana.

Advertisement

SEXUAL ABUSE

Reflecting on Kezilahabi, Professor Alamin Mazrui says, “ … if Shaaban Robert was the greatest inspirational figure in the emergence of Swahili prose fiction, it was his national compatriot Euphrase Kezilahabi who raised it to greater heights of artistic achievement.” It is, indeed, Kezilahabi who introduced existentialism in Kiswahili literature. He was also critical in debates around form and content in Kiswahili poetry.

My first encounter with his ideas was through his first realist and readable novel Rosa Mistika (Mystique Rose, 1971) which addresses the sexual abuse of schoolgirls by their teachers. The issues he raised about the educational system in East Africa over three decades ago are as relevant now as they were then. His other works shift the boundaries of cultural and artistic censorship, raising big questions about humanity. They are grounded in existential philosophy, a critique of religion and the disillusionment with the Ujamaa ideology espoused by Mwalimu Julius Nyerere in the 1970s. Quite often, he would draw on his Catholicism to provide a critique of society and its interpretation of morality.

POETIC FIXITY

This critical perspective is quite evident in Kichwa Maji (The Hypdrocephalic, 1974), Dunia Uwanja wa Fujo (The World is a Stage of Chaos, 1975), Gamba la Nyoka (The Skin of a Snake, 1979), Nagona (The Insight, 1987) and Mzingile (The Labyrinth, 1991). He is also the author of the controversial books of poetry Kichomi (Sharp Pain, 1974), Karibu Ndani (Welcome) and Dhifa (The Banquet), written in free verse. He also wrote the play Kaputula la Marx, a critique of Marxism as a political and economic ideology. Nagona and Mzingile specifically are a deep reflection on the effects of globalisation, imperialism and individualism and their destruction of humanity. 

In the collection of poetry, he employs ushairi huru (free verse) and imbues it with content that looks internally into the Kiswahili poetic tradition. He questions its fixation with rhyme and meter arguing, controversially, that it ‘limits’ the poet’s imagination by emphasising form over content. He seeks to break the chains of ‘poetic fixity’. 

DIALECTICAL VARIANTS

The publication of Kichomi in the early 1970s created a fiery debate in Tanzania and Kenya on poetry as ‘conservationists’ and ‘liberalists’ argued over whether or not free verse poetry is ‘Swahili poetry’. Among some conservationists, Kiswahili poetry needed to follow the classical tradition of Muyaka wa Haji and earlier poets such as Mwana Kupona Binti Mshamu whose influence could be seen in the compositions of Kaluta Amri Abedi, Mwalimu Hassan Mwalimu Mbega, Ahmed Sheikh Nabhany, Abdilatif Abdalla and Ahmed Nassir.

It was expected that Kiswahili poetry would be replete with archaisms, dialectal variants, coastal symbolism, allegory and imagery. It would have to be derived from Swahili culture as experienced on the coastal strip. According to Tigiti Sengo, for example, Kiswahili poetry is that derived from the Waswahili community. He argued that free verse cannot be accepted as Swahili poetry. These are the views that Kezilahabi, as a member of the liberalist poets, alongside Mugybuso Mulokozi and Kuliyokela Kahigi, sought to disrupt through ushairi huru. In the liberalists’ view, art and culture are responsive to economic relations of production and a rupture with forms that appear to be aesthetically tied to feudalism was necessary if Kiswahili literature was to be freed. 

UJAMAA PHILOSOPHY

The assumption by the liberalist school is that the prosodic tradition as received from the Waswahili was ill-equipped to address complex thematic concerns. In reality, however, the imaginative terrain need not be constrained by form. It is free to wander as it will. Abdilatif Abdalla, Gora Haji Gora and Ahmed Nassir writing within the Swahili poetic tradition, are philosophically engaged as poets composing in free verse, if not more. 

Creative writers located in upcountry East Africa will write while drawing from their immediate cultural, artistic, economic and political environment. Equally, coastal writers will be inspired by the influences of their past and present encounters. Indeed, it may be claimed that it is the exposure to free verse in English literature at the University of Dar es Salaam and the liberative thrust of the Ujamaa philosophy that injected the perspective so strongly expressed by the liberal school against the Kiswahili poetic tradition of rhyme and meter. 

ESSENCE OF LIFE

While his contemporaries, such as Said Ahmed Mohamed, have been inspired by critical and socialist realism, Kezilahabi has looked to German philosophers, notably Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger, for inspiration. He has blended their questioning of the Western worldview and its intersection with freedom and morality with his own disillusionment with the constraints of artistic and cultural containment on individual choice and imagination. His hermeneutics is a dialogic rewriting and reinterpretation of Heidegger on ‘Being’ and Nietzsche on the linearity and circularity of ‘Time,’ through the lens of the Wakerewe in the Lake Victoria region. 

Drawing on these philosophies, Kezilahabi questions the essence of life, social tensions and the challenges faced by individuals as they seek integration in a society characterised by sharp social and political contradictions. His creative writings revolve around pain, death, life, existence, silence, and time. Viewed by many critics as a pessimist, Kezilahabi will be credited for pushing the boundaries of the Kiswahili literary scene not only through his thematic interests and utilisation of orature and allegory but also his choice of style and treatment of characterisation. 

Prof Kimani Njogu is a Kiswahili and cultural scholar based at Twaweza Communications; [email protected]


In the spotlight: Sossion’s gamble pays off big time

MBUGUA NGUNJIRIBy MBUGUA NGUNJIRI
More by this Author

A gamble that Simon Sossion took 10 years ago, amid much cynicism from detractors, has paid off handsomely. His firm, Spotlight Publishers (EA) Ltd, is now at the apex of book publishing in Kenya and the region.

Publishing in Kenya is notoriously tricky. The soft-spoken chief executive recalls that back then, he took a leap of faith. “We were confident that we would play a role in the market,” he says. “It has taken faith, hard work and doing the right thing, ethically and professionally, to reach where we are today. We also invested in the right people to work with us.”

Sossion stresses the importance of remaining faithful to the contract a publisher enters with the author. “It is extremely important to be honest with your authors, pay them their royalties and keep clear records,” he says.

It is little wonder that Spotlight has managed to attract and retain reputable authors in the region. They include Ken Walibora, whose book Kidagaa Kimemwozea was a secondary school set book from 2013 to 2017, and Wallah Bin Wallah, author of Taswira ya KCPE Kiswahili.

FIND SPACE

Advertisement

Saturday Nation columnist Austin Bukenya, who, incidentally, was Sossion’s lecturer at Kenyatta University, is another of Spotlight’s star authors. So is Prof Evan Mwangi, another regular Saturday and Sunday Nation contributor. Then there is Said Ahmed Mohammed, East Africa’s leading Kiswahili novelist, poet and playwright, author of Utengano, Mashetani Wamerudi and Wenye Meno.

These authors and many others recently gathered at Sarit Centre, in Westlands, to mark Spotlight’s 10th anniversary.

The Saturday Nation sat down with Sossion to reflect on a variety of issues in the publishing industry.

By the time he was setting up his own outfit, then known as Target Publications, the textbook market — the mainstay of local publishers — was somewhat saturated. If he had to survive, he had to find space. His research had indicated that the field of revision books held some potential.

Sossion, who was born 53 years ago in Bomet County, says their entry into revision books was not by chance. “We had done an extensive market survey,” he explains.

CURRICULUM

Though reluctant to reveal how big his outfit has grown over the years, he is now one of the heavy hitters in the industry. Today, if your child is in a private primary school, chances are that they use one or two Spotlight books in class. There are about 16,500 private schools in the country, as opposed to about 23,500 public schools.

Before the launch of the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC), Spotlight only dealt with revision books. “The ushering in of CBC in 2017 gave us a perfect opportunity to enter the course book market with publications for Pre-Primary 1 and 2 and Grades 1 to 3,” says Sossion, who is also the vice-chairperson of the Kenya Publishers Association (KPA).

Speaking of CBC, Sossion, an alumni of Kangaru School, says this is the right way to go for Kenya’s educational system. “With CBC, the full potential of the learner is identified and nurtured as opposed to the accumulation of knowledge and reproduction of the same during exams,” he says. “A key distinctive feature of CBC is the emphasis on practical learning activities which strengthen teamwork, collaboration and communication among the learners.”

In developing the curriculum books, Sossion explains that publishers look for the best teachers and train them to become authors. “The Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), which assesses and approves books to be used in schools, has been working very closely with publishers in training our authors, editors, designers and production staff on how to produce CBC-compliant course books,” says Sossion, who also chairs the training committee at KPA.

“Besides, Kenyan publishers now have the requisite experience, having participated in developing CBC materials in both Uganda and Rwanda,” he says. “Uganda rolled out its CBC in 2012, while Rwanda launched theirs in 2015.”

Sossion, however, insists that the whole process of producing CBC books must be driven by locals. “Authors, editors, designers and illustrators must be Kenyan,” he says. “They understand our cultural and moral landscape better than any outsider. The conceptualisation, writing, production and distribution of CBC learning materials to our Kenyan schools is a very delicate moral and national responsibility that is best executed by Kenyans. It should never be surrendered to foreign interests.”

The biggest nightmare for local publishers, says Sossion, remains piracy. “Pirates target any book as long as it can move a few thousand copies,” he explains. “They are wreaking.”

What is the remedy?

“Unless and until we declare piracy an economic crime, pirates will continue tormenting us,” says Sossion, who is a past chairman of the anti-piracy committee at KPA. “We need to stiffen penalties handed down to these offenders.”

This, he argues, can only be done by amending the Copyright Act 2001 (Revised 2009), which governs counterfeiting and illegal reproduction of intellectual property. The existing law, he insists, is too lenient on offenders. The law only provides for a maximum fine of Sh800,000 or a jail term of 10 years, or both. 

INNOVATION

“Assuming that one has pirated books worth more than Sh10 million, which they regularly do, and they are only fined Sh800,000, how is that person deterred from getting right back into the vice?” asks Sossion. The fine, he adds, needs to be adjusted upwards to, say, Sh10 million.

Sossion believes that the local publishing industry will only survive in the future by embracing innovation and technology. “The future is digital,” he says. “If we fail to embrace modern technology, we risk becoming extinct.”

He says that Spotlight Publishers is firming up local and global linkages. He cites their partnership with HarperCollins.

“We also have a fruitful partnership with Penguin Random House, which gave us the rights to locally produce The Caucasian Chalk Circle,” he adds.

Apart from Rwanda and Uganda, Spotlight books are also used in South Sudan and Somalia.​


Of crafty 'fundis' and the many promises they fail to keep

BETT KINYATTIBy BETT KINYATTI
More by this Author

I broke up with my fundi. It had been a long time coming. Anyone who had witnessed he and I engage would have noticed how he was playing me for a fool. It was unrequited love, the type of love that makes a jackass of the person on one end. (The jackass here is me, of course.)

A RENEGADE

Let us call my fundi Sam. Like all love stories, it begins with a mindless introduction from someone you love and trust. My sister introduced Sam to me. Who was introduced to her by the man she was seeing at the time. Who was introduced to him by his own mother. It was a family affair. I am certain that if I traced the tree down its root, I may have discovered their parents fought side by side in the white man’s war.

My first ever job for Sam was an ironing board. In 2010. I was 25 and still living at home with my parents. Asking Sam to make me that ironing board was an indulgence of my curiosity for his craftsmanship. I don’t recall how long he took to complete it but I was out-of-my-pants elated when he delivered it.

Sam — my goodness — Sam was a skilled and experienced rule-breaker. A renegade. The bad boy of craftsmanship. The ironing board was to the standard height of 2.5ft but everything else about it was non-standard. The legs were matte black iron (this was back when no one had appreciated how chic iron mixes with other materials). The top was wider than standard. So was the padding. The entire ensemble was cocksure sturdy. Just like my love for Sam was.

HE CALLED ME FLO

Advertisement

Many harvests came and went, Sam and I fell out of contact. One December in 2014, GB tells me he has friends flying in for Christmas from the States. They would stay at his place. He needed a bed for the spare bedroom. I told him, “Say no more — I know an excellent fundi.”

I reached out to Sam. I blushed that he remembered me. He called me ‘Flo’, short for my government name Florence. I hate being called Flo, but hey, I was in love, Sam could call me anything he wanted. I told him I wanted a bed: four by six, mahogany, with a tall headboard. The design was from Houzz. I printed the picture. GB made deposit. Sam promised it would be ready to collect in two weeks.

It took him four weeks. Four weeks! GB’s pals had by this time landed from the States, hung around drunk for weeks and boarded their return flight. GB had done the sensible thing a man pushed to the corner would — he bought a ready-made bed off the side of the road. I hated it.

IN LOVE AGAIN

I didn’t hear from Sam all of that December. I was hurt, to be honest. Quite deeply. Next time we spoke was in early February, he said he had waited for my call but because I had not reached out, he had sold the bed. “I don’t have much space in my workshop,” he said flatly.

I was defeated. The thing about Sam is that he is soft-spoken and mild. You end up looking like the idiot when you raise your voice at him for his shortcomings in delivery discipline. It was twisted, alright. I asked him to send our deposit back. He said, “I’ll make another bed for you, Flo. Please. Give me a few weeks. I will.”

Sam eventually delivered the bed. It was beautiful! It had a tall 5ft headboard in a rich stain of matt mahogany, joints bolted with steel washers and lines clean and simple. It was beautiful, it was perfect! Ogling that work of art in our spare bedroom had me forget the hassle. I fell in love with Sam all over again.

TWISTED SCRIPT

This twisted script of a fool in love repeated itself for each item I asked Sam to make me over the years: the contemporary A-line shoe rack; the mid-century nightstands; the redesign of the TV console. One time he went off the radar for about a year with some teak shelves he was to deliver. When I called to ask him what was up, he deadpanned, “My workshop caught fire. We lost everything. We are only just getting back on our feet.”

I needed a new bed for our daughter, Muna. She was turning four and had outgrown her large cot. It was late October 2019. Guess what I did? I called Sam. I shared the designs on WhatsApp and sent a deposit. He said it would be ready in two weeks.

Two weeks turned to three, which turned to four. I hung in there because … sigh … because he and I have history. I almost collapsed when he finally delivered the bed. It was horrible: the mahogany had been ruined with the wrong stain, the design was off, joint work was flimsy. He had handed my work over to his apprentices. Unbelievable! Did he even love me back?

I got into bed to tell Muna a bedtime story and it creaked under my weight. That creak was the sound of me falling out of love with Sam.​


Security Council beats midnight deadline, approves Syria cross-border aid in contentious vote

SC/14074

SECURITY COUNCIL
8700TH MEETING (NIGHT)

Several Speakers Upset about Reduced Access from Four to Two Crossing Points

After protracted negotiations, the Security Council adopted a resolution today extending until 10 July authorization for the United Nations and its partners to deliver humanitarian aid across borders into Syria — avoiding a midnight expiration of its mandate and a scenario in which millions of Syrians would be left with no alternative.

Adopting resolution 2504 (2020) by a vote of 11 in favour, to none against, with 4 abstentions (China, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States), the Council decided that aid will continue to be delivered through Bab al-Salam and Bab al-Hawa crossings in Turkey only — excluding Al Yarubiyah and Al-Ramtha on Syria’s borders with Iraq and Jordan, through which deliveries have moved since 2014. Its passage comes after two failed attempts in December 2019 to reauthorize the mechanism. (For more information, please see Press Release SC/14066).

Before its adoption, the Council rejected an oral amendment proposed by the Russian Federation’s delegate to include a reference to General Assembly resolution 46/182 — with 7 voting against that measure (Belgium, Dominican Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, United Kingdom, United States), 3 in favour (China, Russian Federation, Viet Nam) and 5 abstaining (Indonesia, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa, Tunisia).

Belgium’s delegate, who negotiated the resolution together with Germany, said that the fate of 4 million Syrians who receive the aid were the exclusive motivation. Three crossings were at the heart of the mandate — “the bottom line” in terms of a humanitarian perspective — and he deeply deplored that the Council could not agree to keep the Al Yarubiyah checkpoint open, as it allows for medical aid to reach 1.4 million people.

France’s delegate expressed regret that the resolution reduced the mechanism’s scope from four to two crossing points, and duration from 12 to 6 months. Syria is sparingly granting authorizations and diverting aid for political ends, while the World Health Organization finds it impossible to deliver 8 to 10 lorries projected for the coming weeks. The Russian Federation has given into the demands of a criminal regime, she said, calling its intransigence morally and humanly incomprehensible.

The United Kingdom’s delegate said she abstained from the vote as the resolution reduces the provision of aid to populations at risk. She accused the Russian Federation of “playing dice” with the people in north-east Syria, emphasizing that four border crossings were requested.

Highlighting the heated divisions within the Council, the speaker for the Russian Federation said that it is unclear why some members had refused to negotiate on the alternative draft submitted earlier by his delegation. He abstained in today’s vote in order to not block aid deliveries, stressing that border crossings in Jordan and Iraq have not been used often over the past year and that Syria must approve all aid deliveries.

On that point, the United States delegate disputed that Syria’s consent is required for aid to be delivered through the crossings. The United States abstained from voting on a “watered‑down” resolution, as it is inadequate to meet people’s needs, having sought to renew all four crossings authorized by resolution 2449 (2018), she explained.

Offering the national perspective, Syria’s delegate expressed regret that the commitment to Assembly resolution 46/182 has fallen victim to a political agenda since the adoption of resolution 2165 (2014). The Government has been unrelenting in ensuring that aid is delivered to all its citizens, without discrimination.

On 19 and 20 December 2019, Syria clearly expressed its legal and ethical motivations for rejecting the renewal of the cross-border mechanism, he said, as the contrived circumstances in which it was established no longer exist. Further, the mechanism has failed to ensure that aid does not fall into the hands of terrorist groups, which have been stealing it to fund their activities — a scenario playing out in Idlib, which is controlled by Jabhat al-Nusra, supported by Turkey’s rogue regime.

Also speaking today were representatives of Tunisia, Dominican Republic, Estonia, China, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Indonesia, Germany and Viet Nam.

The meeting began at 6:05 p.m. and ended at 7:16 p.m.

Action

VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) proposed an oral amendment to operative paragraph 6 of the draft resolution, replacing the words “and in accordance with the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence;” with “and in accordance with the guiding principles of humanitarian emergency assistance, as contained in General Assembly resolution 46/182”.

MARC PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE (Belgium), speaking also for Germany, said that 11 million Syrians need humanitarian assistance — food, water, shelter, medical assistance and care — and since 2014, cross-border operations have offered a lifeline to them. The mechanism allows the United Nations and its implementing partners to ensure life-saving assistance to 4 million people. Since 14 November 2019, the co-penholders have done their utmost to find agreement on renewing the mechanism, in an inclusive, transparent and thorough manner, also consulting neighbouring countries. “We followed a clear humanitarian imperative,” he said, with the fate of the 4 million people being the exclusive motivation. While divisions within the Council have run deep, the co-penholders continued to engage, aiming to keep the bar high. Three crossings were at the heart of the mandate — “the bottom line” in terms of a humanitarian perspective. Yet, over and over, it was made clear that the mandate for all three crossings was not acceptable for all Council members.

Recalling that the Al Yarubiyah border crossing has allowed medical aid to reach 1.4 million people — and that there is no viable alternative to it — he deeply deplored that the Council could not agree to keep that checkpoint open, as humanitarian partners deemed it essential. He requested the Secretary-General to examine alternatives by the end of February to ensure aid can continue to be provided, including to the north-east. In the north-west, 2.7 million people completely depend on the mechanism, amid increased fighting. The orally proposed amendment is unacceptable, as it contradicts the system of the cross-border mechanism, which itself is an exception to the principles referenced by the Russian Federation. “This system is needed more than ever,” he insisted, adding: “We need to preserve it.” He requested the Council to approve the draft as written.

The Council then rejected the proposed amendment by a vote of 7 against (Belgium, Dominican Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, United Kingdom, United States), to 3 in favour (China, Russian Federation, Viet Nam), with 5 abstentions (Indonesia, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa, Tunisia).

The Council then adopted resolution 2504 (2020) by a vote of 11 in favour, to none against, with 4 abstentions (China, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States).

ANNE GUEGUEN (France) said that it is essential that the mechanism be renewed today, expressing regret that the resolution reduced its scope from four to two crossing points, and duration from 12 to 6 months, especially as the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Secretary-General and others had repeatedly said there is no alternative to it, as 4 million people depend on it. Stressing that Syria uses the assistance for political ends, disrespecting international humanitarian law, by sparingly granting authorizations and diverting aid, she recalled that daily aid is essential for 2.7 million people in Syria’s north-west and 1.3 million in the north-east who would otherwise depend entirely on Syria’s regime, at its mercy.

France committed to negotiations led by the co-penholders and was in constant dialogue with all stakeholders to preserve the mechanism, she said. She deplored that the crucial Al Yarubiyah crossing point was not retained, as it allows 40 per cent of medicines delivered to the north-east. She expressed regret that the World Health Organization (WHO) finds it impossible to deliver 8 to 10 lorries projected over the coming weeks. The Russian Federation has given into the demands of a criminal regime, showing great disregard for the principles of neutrality, humanity, independence and impartiality of humanitarian aid, she said, calling its intransigence morally and humanly incomprehensible. As the Secretary‑General is requested to present aid delivery options by the end of February, she called on all parties to act responsibly and take a decision which draws on the analysis of the options to be tabled by the Secretary-General. She likewise expressed regret that the mechanism was renewed for only six months, as such operations require stability, and called for an end to the instrumentalization of humanitarian assistance.

Mr. PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE (Belgium) said that the text represents a compromise, allowing for continued assistance in Syria’s north-west, where there is no other alternative. This system functions based on a simple notification to Syria’s authorities, he said, sending an important signal to the Syrian people. With Germany and others, Belgium worked extremely hard to achieve a more far‑reaching result: a mandate for all people depending on the mechanism — and he expressed extreme disappointment that the Council was unable to achieve that result on a resolution which is purely humanitarian in nature. He called on Syria’s authorities to respect international humanitarian law, protect citizens and allow aid to be delivered in a neutral manner.

MONCEF BAATI (Tunisia) commended those guiding the consultations that led up to the draft’s adoption, which saw the Council overcome an impasse. A united front is essential with a view to ending the suffering in Syria, and while the adoption was not unanimous, the draft will reach many in need.

JOSÉ SINGER WEISINGER (Dominican Republic) said that Al Yarubiyah and Al‑Ramtha are critical aid delivery crossings. While not ideal, adoption of the draft resolution will still result in aid reaching millions of Syrians.

SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia) said that the draft is a leap into the unknown. The Russian Federation did not engage in constructive discussions addressing populations in need in several areas of Syria. Instead, it blackmailed and presented other parties with ultimatums, he said, adding that delivering aid does not need the approval of the Government of Syria.

ZHANG JUN (China), expressing support for the international community’s efforts to provide humanitarian aid to those in need, said his delegation remained steadfast in the principle that a country’s territorial integrity must be respected. The Government of Syria remains the responsible party for providing aid, and cross-border operations should strictly follow United Nations principles and international law, he said, welcoming the compromise found on the issue of extending border crossings.

INGA RHONDA KING (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) said that there are no perfect solutions, but only acute judgment and decision-making. Diplomacy is in action today, as common ground has been found on this issue, she said, commending Germany and Belgium in encouraging discussions on the matter.

MUHSIN SYIHAB (Indonesia) said the complex and lengthy process of adopting the draft was the result of finding a compromise. After all, civilian lives are at stake and the Council must urgently address this issue, he said, adding that: “We are all equally unhappy, but congratulations are in order. It is not about the happiness or unhappiness here in the Council, but about saving human lives.” He anticipated the Secretary-General’s forthcoming report, noting that the Al Yarubiyah crossing point was a route to reach more than 1 million Syrians in need.

Mr. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said his delegation abstained for the purpose of not blocking aid deliveries. It is still not clear why several delegations refused to negotiate on the Russian Federation’s alternative draft resolution. Regretting to note the political purposes some colleagues are pursuing, he pointed out that border crossings in Jordan and Iraq have not been used often over the course of the past year. To his counterpart from Estonia, he said that the Government of Syria must approve all aid deliveries. Raising a concern about the unsuccessful monitoring of deliveries until the United Nations has full access to relevant areas, he said that some delegates did not discuss this issue, which should indeed be addressed. Establishing effective efforts in a country requires coordination and cooperation with authorities, he said, expressing hope that the trend of failing to find solutions to these and other challenges would be resolved in the future, when the Council considers the matter in a few months.

KAREN PIERCE (United Kingdom) said that her delegation abstained because the draft reduces the provision of aid to populations at risk. Since the conflict began, the United Kingdom has committed more than $3.5 billion to the humanitarian crisis in Syria, including food deliveries and more than 12 million vaccines. Of all the sad days during the conflict, today is potentially one of the saddest because certain States chose to play politics, with the Russian Federation “playing dice” with the people in north-east Syria. The urgent need for cross‑border assistance continues and should not be based on bargaining, but on humanitarian need. Four crossings were requested, but the draft ended up excluding crossings, which will put the lives of thousands at risk. The Syrian authorities’ approval is not required for aid shipments for those most in need. Indeed, the Council should be prepared to take action, including restoring cross‑border access in the north-east if the Secretary-General’s report indicates a need to do so. In addition, the closure of the Al Yarubiyah crossing requires close monitoring of the authorities controlling the area, she said, calling on Syria and the Russian Federation to confirm that any aid will be distributed to those most in need and that organizations based in Damascus will be granted permission and access to deliver life-saving humanitarian assistance.

CHRISTOPH HEUSGEN (Germany) said that people in Idlib went to bed last night not knowing if they would continue to receive aid. Border crossings are essential. “We did everything to keep that alive so 2.7 million people could continue to receive that aid,” he said. The decision comes at a very heavy price: 1.4 million people in the north-east will wake up not knowing if they will receive medical aid that they desperately need. Contrary to the Russian Federation’s statement, there is no possibility to receive assistance through different means, he said, recalling that there are 8 to 10 trucks waiting outside the Al Yarubiyah crossing to deliver medical aid and appealing to the Russian Federation to ensure that they reach people in need. Germany voted against the amendment, as Al Yarubiyah is not under Syria’s control.

KELLY CRAFT (United States) abstained from the vote because, after months of negotiations, the text was the only path forward to allow any aid delivery to Syrians. The United States could not veto such a measure. In abstaining, it lends a voice to 4 million people whose welfare has been overlooked for far too long. Today, the Russian Federation revealed its shocking indifference to human suffering. The watered-down resolution is inadequate to meet people’s needs and the Russian Federation placed the lives of more than 1 million Syrians in jeopardy. The existing cross-border mechanism is working. The Council is in the current situation because the Russian Federation decided to use deprivation against the Syrian people. “This is a crisis of Russia’s making,” she said, adding: “It is theirs to own.” The United States is not willing to play politics with the lives of innocent Syrians. The humanitarian situation is worsening, which is why the United States sought to renew all four of the crossings authorized by resolution 2449 (2018) and why it did not obstruct a measure to provide some aid to Syrians. Consent by Syria is not required for aid to be delivered through crossings. She expressed bitter disappointment at the Council’s inability to deliver what Syrians so clearly need. “Yet, we’ve handed down this fate to 1 million people,” she said, levelling a blow to the Council’s credibility and moral authority. The United States will do its utmost to recover the Council’s moral authority.

DANG DINH QUY (Viet Nam), Council President for January, speaking in his national capacity, said his delegation supported the resolution, bearing in mind that the mechanism is an essential part of the overall humanitarian response. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs will continue its work in an effective and accountable way. He shared concerns about the complicated humanitarian situation, recalling that Syria’s Government bears the primary responsibility to address it with international assistance. It must ensure that aid will be delivered timely and adequately to hundreds of thousands of people, and not diverted or subjected to manipulation.

BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria) expressed regret that the commitment to Assembly resolution 46/182 has been a victim of a political agenda since the adoption of resolution 2165 (2014). Since the outbreak of a terrorist war against Syria, his country’s Government has been unrelenting in ensuring that aid is delivered to all its citizens, without discrimination, throughout the country, despite the blockade imposed against it. Syria — along with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and authorized non-governmental organizations — has cooperated with the United Nations, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and 27 foreign non‑governmental organizations — all while upholding its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, and the guiding humanitarian principles outlined in resolution 46/182. It is reprehensible that the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has taken the side of Western countries in being hostile to Syria’s Government.

Through that hostile approach, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs overlooked Syria’s sincere efforts and the crucial role of the Government in facilitating humanitarian aid delivery, he said, notably with its misleading assessments and rhetoric. On 19 and 20 December 2019, Syria clearly expressed its legal and ethical motivations for rejecting the renewal of the mechanism; the resolution was adopted in contrived circumstances that no longer exist. In addition, the co-penholders have no legal status and any such claim that they care for Syrians is a lie, refuted by the practices of Governments that wage war and impose unilateral coercive measures against Syria. The penholders likewise ignored that the centre of humanitarian action is Damascus. While Belgium’s delegate said that the co-penholders consulted with neighbouring countries, he forgot the need to consult with Syria, in line with Assembly resolution 46/182. Estonia, United Kingdom and the United States all repeated the same unilateral interpretation that cross-border humanitarian access does not require consultation with Syria’s Government, contravening the positions of China and Russian Federation. They are not committed to resolution 46/182, which underscores the need for respecting the sovereignty of States concerned.

Stressing that the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the mechanism have been unable to ensure that aid does not fall into the hands of terrorist organizations, which have been stealing it to fund their activities, he said that scenario applies in Idlib, which is controlled by Jabhat al-Nusra, supported by Turkey’s rogue regime. The Office provides food and humanitarian assistance to Idlib terrorists bound for Tripoli through Turkey. It is similarly unable to verify the nature of its so-called partners and third-party actors. It is high time for parties to support Syria’s efforts and stop levelling accusations.

For information media. Not an official record.


Security Council, beats midnight deadline, approves Syria cross-border aid in contentious vote

The Security Council on Friday evening renewed a UN operation delivering humanitarian aid across the Syrian border to millions of civilians, but some of the body’s members expressed disappointment that the ‘watered down’ measure cut in half the number of crossing points and duration of the authorization.

Failing last month to extend the cross-border authorization after permanent member Russia vetoed one draft resolution and failed to gain enough support for its own rival measure, the Council faced a midnight deadline Friday for the expiration of its six-year-long mandate along with the possibility of yet another “no” vote from Russia.

Negotiating cross-border humanitarian aid

An upsurge in hostilities in north-west Syria, has displaced some 300,000 people since 12 December.

Meanwhile, against the backdrop of new Council members joining the peace and security body in the New Year, negotiations have been ongoing with Permament Members the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom and France meeting four times since last week, without reaching a compromise.

The main point of contention, according to news reports, has revolved around the Al Yarubiyah crossing.

Resolution sponsors Germany, Belgium and Kuwait have pushed for the continued delivery of aid through two crossing points in Turkey and one in Iraq.

But the competing resolution from Russia, Syria’s closest ally on the Council, advocates the closure of the Al Yarubiyah crossing in Iraq.

The UN cross-border aid delivery mechanism was first established in 2014 through resolution 2165. Its mandate was most recently renewed in resolution 2449 of 2018, to expire in a matter of hours.

Secretary-General António Guterres has stressed that if the authorization is not agreed to on Friday, the UN border operation in Syria will immediately cease.

In that case, a new resolution providing authorization for the mechanism would be needed for it to operate again.

‘An immediate end of aid’

Last Friday, Mark Lowcock, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, and Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, briefed the Council in closed consultations on developments in Idlib.

During the meeting, several members cited the province’s deteriorating humanitarian situation to illustrate the urgent need to renew the cross-border aid mechanism before it expires.

And in November, Mr. Lowcock had told the Chamber that four million people across northern Syria were supported by UN cross-border humanitarian assistance.

“Without the cross-border operation, we would see an immediate end of aid supporting millions of civilians”, he had said.

Unacceptable status quo

Prior to the meeting, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia expressed his hope that a solution could be found, saying “we are close, but not there yet”.

“I must tell you that all these cries about the imminent catastrophe, disaster which North-East faces if we close one cross-border point are totally irrelevant because humanitarian assistance to that region is coming from within Syria – for a long time, by the way. And it will continue to come”, he stated.

He maintained that as the situation on the ground has changed dramatically, “the status quo is inacceptable”.

“We have to close those cross-border points that are not relevant anymore”, upheld Mr. Nebenzia.


Syria cross-border aid under threat as deadline nears

A six-year-long UN operation that delivers aid across the Syrian border will expire at midnight unless the divided UN Security Council can agree later on Friday to extend it.

As Council members met to consider re-authorizing cross-border humanitarian aid at the meeting on Friday afternoon, the UN noted earlier that more than three million Syrians depended on aid trucked in from Turkey, Iraq and Jordan.

“To put it very simply, there is no alternative to reaching the people we need to reach in the northwest and northeast [of Syria] without the cross-border” operation, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters on Thursday at UN Headquarters.

And as humanitarian needs continue to intensify in north-west Idlib province, the aid deliveries across the Turkish border are particularly crucial.

A Council meeting was due to begin in the chamber at 3.30pm, but delegates and officials left the room an hour later.

Negotiating cross-border humanitarian aid   

An upsurge in hostilities in north-west Syria, has displaced some 300,000 people since 12 December.

Meanwhile, against the backdrop of new Council members joining the peace and security body in the New Year, negotiations have been ongoing with Permament Members the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom and France meeting four times since last week, without reaching a compromise.

The main point of contention, according to news reports, has revolved around the Al Yarubiyah crossing.

Resolution sponsors Germany, Belgium and Kuwait have pushed for the continued delivery of aid through two crossing points in Turkey and one in Iraq.

But the competing resolution from Russia, Syria’s closest ally on the Council, advocates the closure of the Al Yarubiyah crossing in Iraq.

The UN cross-border aid delivery mechanism was first established in 2014 through resolution 2165. Its mandate was most recently renewed in resolution 2449 of 2018, to expire in a matter of hours.

Secretary-General António Guterres has stressed that if the authorization is not agreed to on Friday, the UN border operation in Syria will immediately cease.

In that case, a new resolution providing authorization for the mechanism would be needed for it to operate again.

‘An immediate end of aid’

Last Friday, Mark Lowcock, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, and Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, briefed the Council in closed consultations on developments in Idlib.

During the meeting, several members cited the province’s deteriorating humanitarian situation to illustrate the urgent need to renew the cross-border aid mechanism before it expires.

And in November, Mr. Lowcock had told the Chamber that four million people across northern Syria were supported by UN cross-border humanitarian assistance.

“Without the cross-border operation, we would see an immediate end of aid supporting millions of civilians”, he had said.


Malte: les adieux du Premier ministre Muscat, « désolé » du meurtre de Daphne Caruana

Publié le 10.01.2020 à 23h50 par AFP

Joseph Muscat, le chef du gouvernement maltais, a fait ses adieux au pouvoir vendredi se disant « désolé » pour le meurtre de la journaliste Daphne Caruana Galizia, à l’origine de son départ, mais assurant « avoir payé le prix fort » pour cette affaire.

Accusé d’avoir interféré et protégé ses collaborateurs dans l’enquête sur le meurtre de la blogueuse maltaise, Joseph Muscat avait dû se résoudre le 1er décembre à annoncer son départ.

« Je suis désolé pour le meurtre de (Daphne) Caruana Galizia, une mère qui a été tuée à cause de ce en quoi elle croyait et de ce qu’elle a écrit », a déclaré Joseph Muscat lors d’une cérémonie organisée par le Parti travailliste, sa formation de centre-gauche, avant l’élection de son successeur prévue ce week-end.

« Elle m’a fait du mal aussi, mais j’ai payé le prix fort pour que cette affaire soit résolue sous mon autorité », a-t-il ajouté devant quelques milliers de supporteurs.

Daphne Caruana qui tenait un blog très suivi où elle dénonçait la corruption des élites du petit archipel d’un demi-million d’habitants, a péri le 16 octobre 2017 dans l’explosion de sa voiture piégée, un assassinat qui avait choqué toute l’Europe.

Moins d’une heure avant sa mort, elle écrivait encore sur son blog: « il y a des escrocs partout où l’on regarde, la situation est désespérée ».

« Malgré le soutien de mon groupe parlementaire et de la majorité absolue de la population, j’ai pris une décision dans l’intérêt du pays. J’ai consacré ma vie à ce pays et je ne le regrette pas », a déclaré Joseph Muscat en retenant ses larmes.

– Succès économiques –

Il a égrené les succès économiques et sociaux obtenus sous son gouvernement, assurant que la croissance maltaise devrait être cette année supérieure à celle de tout autre pays de l’UE.

A l’annonce de son départ, fixé au 12 janvier une fois son successeur élu, la famille de Daphne Caruana et le parlement européen avaient appelé M. Muscat à démissionner immédiatement mais, grâce au soutien de son parti et à une forte popularité liée à de spectaculaires performances économiques (+6,6% de croissance en 2018), il a réussi à se maintenir en poste.

Il s’est même payé le luxe d’aller à Rome rencontrer le pape le 7 décembre, à Bethléem pour la messe de Noël, à Dubaï et à Londres où, selon des médias maltais, il aurait rencontré un fameux avocat.

Pour le moment, suite aux investigations menées en collaboration avec Interpol et l’agence américaine FBI, trois hommes considérés comme de simples exécutants sont en procès, et un homme d’affaires en vue, Jorge Fenech, a été inculpé de complicité alors qu’il tentait de fuir sur son yacht.

Son arrestation a entraîné la démission du ministre du Tourisme (et précédemment de l’Energie), Konrad Mizzi, et du chef de cabinet de M. Muscat, Keith Schembri.

En creusant le volet maltais des fameux Panama Papers, Daphne Caruana avait révélé qu’une société de Dubai, la 17 Black, aurait versé 2 millions d’euros à MM. Schembri et Mizzi pour des services non précisés. Le consortium de journalistes Daphne Project, qui a repris ses enquêtes, a révélé que la 17 Black appartenait à Jorge Fenech.

– « Mentalité malade » –

M. Fenech accuse M. Schembri d’avoir été le « vrai commanditaire » du meurtre de Mme Caruana. Interpellé brièvement, il avait été libéré sans poursuites fin novembre, alimentant de nouvelles manifestations pour dénoncer une collusion entre le gouvernement et la police.

Pour la première fois de son histoire, le Parti travailliste a convoqué une élection d’un nouveau chef pendant que sa formation est au pouvoir. Dans le système parlementaire maltais, le nouveau leader sera automatiquement Premier ministre pour les deux ans et demi restants de mandat.

Environ 17.500 membres du Labour maltais doivent voter samedi de 8H00 à 20H00 locales (19H00 GMT) dans treize centres dont l’un sur l’île touristique de Gozo.

Deux candidats se disputent le fauteuil de M. Muscat: le vice-Premier ministre sortant et ministre de la Santé, Chris Fearne, un chirurgien de 56 ans, considéré comme le favori, et un avocat d’affaires, Robert Abela, 42 ans.


Au Mexique, un élève tue sa professeure et se suicide

Publié le 10.01.2020 à 23h50 par AFP

Un élève de onze ans a tué une enseignante et blessé six personnes avant de se suicider vendredi dans une école au Mexique, choquant un pays plus habitué à ce genre de drame aux États-Unis.

Le garçon a ouvert le feu dans l’enceinte de son école à Torreon, une ville de l’État de Coahuila, dans le nord du Mexique, connu pour être le théâtre de violences liés au trafic de drogues.

Aucun mobile n’a encore été avancé par les autorités. Cependant, le gouverneur de Coahuila, Miguel Angel Riquelme a fait mention d’un jeu vidéo sur le marché depuis 2002, fondé notamment sur le tir à vue.

– Un jeu vidéo ? –

« Le garçon a pu être influencé par un jeu vidéo appelé Natural Selection. Il portait un T-Shirt qui le mentionnait », a fait valoir le gouverneur.

« Il a pu tenter de recréer (ce jeu vidéo) et a dit à ses camarades de classe +Aujourd’hui c’est le jour+ », a-t-il ajouté en indiquant que le jeu « simulait la manipulation d’armes de gros calibre ».

Plusieurs médias mexicains ont rappelé que les adolescents auteurs de la fusillade dans l’école Columbine, aux Etats-Unis, en 1999, où deux lycées en avaient tué 13 autres, arboraient un T-shirt blanc avec la légende « Natural Selection », bien que ce jeu vidéo ait été mis sur le marché trois ans plus tard et n’a donc aucun rapport avec Columbine.

Selon les premiers éléments de l’enquête de la police locale, l’élève de l’école Cervantès était porteur de deux pistolets avec lesquels il a abattu son enseignante âgée de 50 ans.

Au début de la matinée, à 08:20 locales (14:20 GMT), « il a demandé la permission d’aller aux toilettes. Voyant qu’il ne revenait pas au bout de 15 minutes, sa professeure a été le chercher », a expliqué le gouverneur lors d’une conférence de presse.

« Elle a alors vu dans le couloir l’élève qui avait changé de vêtements, armé de deux pistolets, un dans chaque main, et il s’est mis à tirer », a-t-il ajouté.

Dans la fusillade qui a suivi, il a blessé cinq autres élèves de l’établissement et un professeur d’éducation physique. Tous les blessés ont été transférés dans un hôpital voisin. Deux seraient dans un état sérieux, selon le maire de Torreon, Jorge Zermeno.

« Le garçon vivait avec sa grand-mère. Il souffrait très certainement de problèmes (psychologiques), même s’il avait de très bonnes notes », a déclaré le maire à la chaîne de télévision locale Televisa.

Il avait perdu sa mère « il y a quelques années », a précisé de son côté M. Riquelme.

– Bon comportement à l’école –

« Il était connu pour bien se comporter à l’école », a déclaré le gouverneur en se disant « consterné ».

« Nous regrettons beaucoup ce qui s’est passé. C’est choquant pour nous tous. Je veux réitérer que ce genre de choses ne constitue pas la norme dans nos écoles », a-t-il dit.

Cette fusillade n’est cependant pas sans précédent au Mexique. En 2014, un élève de 15 ans a tué par balle un camarade de classe dans le centre de l’Etat de Mexico et en 2017 un autre élève du même âge en a blessé quatre autres dans un lycée de Monterey, dans le nord du pays.