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Winter Olympics Kicks Off With Landmark Handshake

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The opening ceremony of the 23rd Winter Olympic Games has officially kicked off in the South Korean city of Pyeongchang.

Welcoming athletes, spectators, and officials to the ceremony was the ringing of bells titled ”Peace in Motion” in the 35,000 capacity stadium at the Pyeongchang Olympic village.

Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister to the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was spotted shaking hands with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea during the opening ceremony. She has earlier flown into the country through Incheon airport on Friday.

Athletes from both North and South Koreas will march together under a ”unification flag” in an unorthodox display of unity between the two countries.

A total of 92 countries with an estimated 2952 athletes will be competing for Olympic medals in 102 sporting events across 15 different disciplines for the next 17 days.

Sporting events such as curling and ski jumping started earlier on Thursday.  Residents around the city of Pyeongchang have signaled their excitement for hosting the Winter Olympic games.

South Korea is hosting the Winter Olympics for the first time but it’s the second time for which the country is organizing an Olympic event after the Seoul Summer Olympics of 1988.

There has been a rapprochement between North and South Korea in the buildup of Games in recent weeks. The two neighbours resumed cross-border discussions in January.

When the North announced it will be sending athletes and performers to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea, it was welcome as a major diplomatic accomplishment.

Meanwhile, North Korea stage an impromptu military parade to mark its 70th anniversary of the nation’s armed forces in the capital Pyongyang on Thursday.

The Winter Olympic Games is estimated to cost some US$12.5 billion, will run from February 9 through 25.

 

 

Neba Benson,

BaretaNews Foreign Correspondent/Analyst

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Foreign

Six Years After, South Africans Seek Justice for Victims of the Marikana Massacre

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The commemoration of the 6th anniversary of the Marikana massacre in which security officers fired at and killed 34 mining workers involved in a strike action demanding better pay, has been preoccupied with politics.

What is being considered as the bloodiest security incident since the end of the apartheid era in South Africa, with an additional 10 people killed in during clashed leading to the shooting of August 15, 2012.  Two police officers also died as a result of the violence.

On social media platforms, South Africans have frowned on the total lack of accountability and the government’s inability to show empathy to the victims’ families, six years after the bloody incident.

In an effort to save face, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party put out a statement, indicating the urgent need to implement recommendations made by the Farlam Commission. The statement reads ”There is no doubt about our commitment in ensuring that never again should such a tragedy befall our nation, and no stone will be left unturned in ensuring that measures are in place to achieve this.”

An inquiry launched into the deadly violence, led by retired judge, Ian Farlam, faulted the Lonmin mining company, the workers’ unions and the police for what it called a ”horrendous tragedy” and went further to make a series of recommendations to rein in various parties it identified as culpable for the tragic incident.

The Farlam Commission came up with the following;

-Public order policing policies be revised, including benchmarking ”best practices” for crowd control.

-Opening a criminal investigation of the police officers involved in the incident.

-Found out Lonmin mining company did not use its best endeavors to resolve wage dispute with workers despite being the world’s fourth largest producer of platinum by market value.

Thus far, six police officers have been charged with murder and attempted murder in connection to the Marikana massacre, they were granted bail in March.

South African frustrated by the delay to administer justice for the victims of the Marikana massacre, took to social media to express their discontentment in the slow process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neba Benson,

BaretaNews Foreign Correspondent/Analyst

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Foreign

Burundi Sets 2020 Deadline for Plastic Ban Enforcement

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Joining other East African nations, the government of Burundi has entered the list of countries that use of plastics has been outlawed.  The move will officially begin in 2020.

A decree signed by President Pierre Nkurunziza on August 13, 2018, the country will begin the prohibition and the ”manufacture, import, storage, sale and use of all plastic bags and other plastic packaging.”

The ban’s enforcement will commence in eighteen months- precisely February 2020. The leeway period is to ensure there is enough time for the proper disposal of current stokes and orders already made, according to the authorities.

However, the decree further went ahead to stipulate there could be certain exemptions, especially ”for biodegradable bags, bags and plastic materials used in medical services, and in industrial and pharmaceutical packaging.”

As of now, just a handful of African countries are enforcing any kind of ban on plastics, among them are; Eritrea, Kenya, Morocco, and Rwanda.  On a global scale, over 40 countries worldwide have placed a ban on the usage of plastics.

A UN report in 2018 indicates that the drive to combat plastic waste has produced mixed reviews.  In Ghana, for instance, successive governments over the last few years have promised to deal with the growing menace of plastic waste and their disposals but have wholly failed in implementing an effective ban. Most countries across West Africa have a similar experience.

There’s a widespread ban of plastics in the Republic of Congo, but not properly enforced.  Products are mostly sold wrapped in paper envelopes, foils and old newspapers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neba Benson,

BaretaNews Foreign Correspondent/Analyst

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Foreign

FIFA Threatens Ghana Ban as Government Continues Interference on Football Activities

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World’s football governing body, FIFA, has threatened the Ghanaian government over its plans to liquidate Ghana Football Association following the revelation of a video showing corruption by the investigative journalist, Anas Aremeymaw Anas.

The Secretary-General of FIFA, Fatma  Samoura in a signed and released statement on August 13, 2018. said the football governing body was particularly concerned about the undue influence exerted by the government over the affairs of the GFA, in clear violation of FIFA statutes.

Part of the statement reads, ”Under these circumstances, the Bureau based on article 16 paragraph 1 of the FIFA statutes decided on 11 August 2018 that if the petition to start the liquidation process of the GFA is not withdrawn by Monday, 27 August 2018 at 12h00 (CET), the GFA will be suspended with immediate effect.

It went further to say ”The suspension would be lifted only once the above-mentioned petition is withdrawn and FIFA is given proof thereof”.

Tasked with the responsibilities to hold discussions with FIFA in order to avert the ban, the head of the government liaison team was addressed directly in the letter. All local football activities have been canceled by the Ghanaian government.

A High Court in Accra placed an injunction on the activities of the GRA on June 12, 2018, in response to an application from the nation’s Attorney General.

After the release of the investigative hit piece exposing corruption on the part of match officials by the journalist Anas, all football-related activities have been suspended since June.

The GFA president, Kwesi Nyantakyi who was caught in a video for allegedly receiving kickbacks. He was a member of the CAF and FIFA committees. As an investigation continues on those allegations, he has been suspended from all football activities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neba Benson,

BaretaNews Foreign Correspondent/Analyst

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