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NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Joan Clos, executive director of the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat) poses for a picture during an interview in his office in Nairobi, Kenya, on Oct. 17, 2017. XINHUA PHOTO: LYU SHUAI
Kenya’s poll official resigns ahead of repeat presidential election

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- An official of Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), Roselyn Akombe, resigned on Wednesday, calling for a halt to next week’s presidential elections.

In a statement released from New York, Commissioner Akombe said there is need for the regulatory body to be courageous and speak out. The election slated for Oct. 26 cannot meet the basic expectations of a credible election, the statement said.

Akombe alleged a partisan approach by some of her colleagues, saying “it has become increasingly difficult to continue attending plenary meetings where commissioners come ready to vote along partisan lines and not to discuss the merit of issues before them.”

The IEBC commissioner was supposed to inspect the printing of the ballot papers in Dubai,the United Arab Emirates, but instead went to the United States.

Akombe had become the face of the IEBC by conducting virtually all media interviews on its behalf. She said she had tried her best, given the circumstances, but “it has become increasingly difficult to appear on television to defend positions I disagree with in the name of collective responsibility.”

The current political conditions did not exist when the Supreme Court issued orders on Sept. 1 to organize the presidential election within 60 days, she said.

The poll standoff between the ruling coalition led by President Uhuru Kenyatta and the opposition coalition, the National Super Alliance, occurred after the leader of the latter, Raila Odinga withdrew from the repeat polls, accusing the IEBC of failing to implement the reforms requested by them.

Akombe said next week’s presidential poll should be postponed in light of the ongoing political turmoil and disagreements among the stakeholders.

She said she had shared detailed reports from staff in the four  counties in Western Kenya most hit by the ongoing protests—Nairobi, Siaya, Kisumu, and Homa Bay, hoping it would bring sobriety to the IEBC’s decision making.

“Instead, this was met with more extremist responses from most commissioners, who are keen to have an election even if it is at the cost of the lives of our staff and voters,” she said.

The IEBC staff are getting last-minute instructions on changes in technology and electronic transmission of results. In some parts of the country, the training of presiding officers is being rushed for fear of attacks from protestors, she added.


Algerian parties monitor 19th CPC National Congress keenly

ALGIERS, (Xinhua) -- Leaders of Algeria’s ruling and opposition parties both are showing keen interest in the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), given its major role in China’s  development as an economic power.

Mekki Zoulikha, a member of the central committee of the ruling National Liberation Front, said China was a pivotal country and the CPC had contributed to the development of China’s domestic and foreign policies, transforming the country into an economic giant.

She noted that the 19th CPC National Congress, which opened Wednesday in Beijing, will analyze current international and domestic situations and set guidelines and policies in line with the trend of the times.

Noamane Laouar, a leader of the Movement of Society for Peace, Algeria’s main opposition, said his party has been closely following all CPC national congresses.

“China’s development stands at a new historical starting point, and socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new phase of development,” he commented.

The CPC national congress, held every five years, elects the party’s leadership and draws a blueprint for national development for the next five years and beyond.


Libyan court suspends presidential council decision to form military zones

Tripoli, (Xinhua) -- The Benghazi Court of Appeal on Tuesday suspended a decision of the Tripoli-based Presidential Council to form seven military zones.

The court said that it issued its ruling to the appeal filed by the Council’s Vice-President Fathi al-Majbari, along with other deputies, against the Presidential Council’s decision.

The Court formally accepted the appeal and suspended the execution of the decision, saying that the decision was taken by the President of the Council and Prime Minister Fayez Serraj individually without consulting his deputies, which is contrary to the Articles of the Political Agreement.

Serraj issued a decision earlier in June to form seven military zones throughout the country.

The decision triggered disputes with the commander of the eastern-based army, General Khalifa Haftar, who rejected the decision because of the “explicit interference in the army’s tasks.” 


News Analysis: Egypt’s fruitful mediation in Mideast
ssues enhances Cairo’s regional role: experts

By Mahmoud Fouly, Abdel-Maguid Kamal CAIRO, (Xinhua) -- Egypt’s fruitful mediation in some hot issues in the Middle East region, including the recent inter-Palestinian reconciliation, cease-fire deals in Syria and factional dialogues in Libya, has enhanced Cairo’s leading role in the turmoil-stricken region, said Egyptian political experts.

Cairo has proved effectiveness and influence in gathering conflicting parties together either for inner reconciliation as in the Palestinian case, cease-fire agreements as in the Syrian crisis, or settlement talks as in the Libyan issue.


Cairo hosted last week the signing of a reconciliation agreement between rival Palestinian movements Fatah and Hamas to end their long-time rift and enable a unity government to take over and have full control of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

On Tuesday, the Palestinian consensus government has already started restructuring its ministries and departments in Gaza as part of the Egyptian-brokered reconciliation deal.

“Signing the deal under Egyptian sponsorship signifies that Egypt is in more control than other regional powers over this issue,” said Mohamed Gomaa, researcher at the Arab and Regional Unit of Cairo-based Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.

Relations between Egypt and Hamas have been tense since the Egyptian military ousted former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, a Hamas ally, in 2013, and outlawed his Muslim Brotherhood group. Ties gradually improved after Hamas showed security cooperation with Egypt and disengaged itself from the brotherhood.

Still, Egypt is not in good terms with Turkey and Qatar, as both hosted fleeing members of the currently blacklisted brotherhood group following Morsi’s ouster.

There is positive progress signifying that Fatah and Hamas seem more earnest to achieve reconciliation. It is in the end in favor of Egypt’s national security and its anti-terror war in the restive North Sinai province when Gaza is controlled by a unity government that is not in constant confrontation with Israel.

“Relatively, the reunion deal reflects Egypt’s success until now in limiting the influence of Qatar and Turkey on Hamas movement,” Gomaa told Xinhua, adding that it also shows Egypt’s restoration of its sponsorship of the inter-Palestinian reconciliation in a better shape.

Egypt’s mediation between Palestinian factions is closely linked with the desire of the United States, whose ties with Egypt improved under the U.S. president Donald Trump after a rift at the time of Obama administration, to revive the stalemated Middle East peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

“This aspect also enhances Egypt’s role in the region as it involves a kind of coordination between Cairo and Washington despite their different visions on the core of the settlement process,” Gomaa pointed out.


On the very same day the inter-Palestinian reconciliation deal was signed in Cairo last week, Oct. 12, Egypt hosted a cease-fire agreement signed by three rebel factions holding a small pocket of a territory in southern Damascus, capital of war-torn Syria, with a guarantee from Russia.

Earlier in August, Egypt and Russia also brokered an agreement to create a “de-escalation zone” and a cease-fire between the Syrian government forces and armed rebels in the northern Homs countryside in Syria. Cairo successfully brokered an earlier deal to de-escalate conflict in Eastern Ghouta region in Damascus.

The forces of the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad are backed by Russia, Iran and Shiite militias.

“Taking part in brokering several cease-fire deals in Syria asserts that Cairo is assuming its place in the arrangement of Arab issues,” said Tarek Fahmy, a political science professor at Cairo University.

“Cairo, thus, is restoring its role in Arab open issues as a result of the good performance of the Egyptian diplomacy whether regionally or internationally,” the professor told Xinhua.

While Saudi Arabia as a regional key player seeks removal of Assad, Egypt sees that a political settlement in Syria is the best option to end the six-year conflict that claimed the lives of about half a million people and displaced and wounded over 14 million.

“There are rising players in the region like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), in addition to Qatar as well, but Cairo still has the upper hand in regional leadership. Egypt still coordinates and cooperates with Saudi Arabia and the UAE as significant regional players with successful development and political progress,” Fahmy said.

The professor expects further growth of Egypt’s regional influence as a result of its growing credibility due to addressing issues in a peaceful approach without interfering in other countries’ domestic affairs or engaging in regional conflicts.

“Egypt has credibility in keeping the same distance with all parties and powers without bias,” said the professor.


Libya has been engaged in a civil war since the 2011 ouster and death of former leader Muammar Gaddafi, which eventually divided the country into two governments, a UN-backed one in Tripoli and a parliament-backed, military-oriented one in Tobruk.

Supported by self-proclaimed Libyan national army led by Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar, the government in Tobruk refuses to recognize the Tripoli-based unity government led by Fayez al-Serraj.

Bordering eastern Libya, Egypt is concerned that the war-torn country could be a new incubator for affiliate militants of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group, particularly after the IS decline in Syria and Iraq, posing a direct threat to the Egyptian national security and that of the Arab world in general.

“Egypt is mediating dialogue between different Libyan factions and it is not only in direct contact with the internationally recognized parliament but also with some leading forces in the cities of Tripoli and Misrata,” said Mohamed Megahed al-Zayyat, adviser to the Cairo-based Regional Center for Strategic Studies.

“This shows that Egypt has started to adopt a clear regional policy and that the aspects of the Egyptian regional role has started to crystallize after years of absence,” he added.

The UAE managed in May to host a rare meeting between Haftar and Serraj, the two key rival figures in the country, which shows growing contribution of influential Gulf states in the region. France also managed in July to rarely bring face to face Haftar and Serraj for settlement talks.

The Egyptian leadership of President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi supports the self-proclaimed Libyan national army led by Haftar and the parliament-backed government in Tobruk.

“The region is influenced by several powers like Turkey, Iran and Israel whose roles expand when Egypt’s role declines and relatively decline when Egypt’s role expands with the support of Arab states, particularly Gulf ones like Saudi Arabia and the UAE,” the researcher told Xinhua.


Libyan FM under investigation over granting diplomatic passport to foreigner

TRIPOLI, (Xinhua) -- Libya’s national defense and security committee of the eastern-based parliament on Tuesday called for an urgent investigation into allegations about the Tripoli-based UN-backed Foreign Minister granting a diplomatic passport to a foreigner.

Tarek al-Jaroushi, a member of the committee, added that the defense committee called on the general intelligence agency and the attorney general to start an urgent investigation into this case, plus “officially order cancelling of passports issued to foreigners, and circulate the cancellation of passports to the ports.”

Tarek Shoaib, deputy foreign minister of the government of national accord, accused earlier foreign minister, Mohamed Sayala, of granting diplomatic passports to foreigners, including the Syrian wife of the Vice President of the Libyan-Arab bank Mohamed Abdel-Jawad.

Sayala responded, saying that the passport was renewed “because it was issued during the time of former regime by order of the previous leader (Muammar Gaddafi) ... It was also renewed by the successive governments that came after the February uprising.”

Libya remains politically divided despite signing a UN-sponsored peace agreement and appointment of a unity government.


Libya’s Tripoli airport closed over renewed clashes

TRIPOLI, (Xinhua) -- Clashes renewed in the center of the Libyan capital Tripoli on Tuesday, which led to closure of the nearby Tripoli international airport for the third time in less than two days.

“The clashes erupted again in residential neighborhoods of Ghararat area hours after security forces took control. Patrols of the Special Deterrence Force came under heavy fire,” a security source told Xinhua.

“The clashes are still continuing. Flights in the Tripoli International Airport have been stopped because clashes are too close to the airport, and ammunition could hit airplanes flying over the area,” the source added.

This closure is the third in less than two days. It was closed on Tuesday morning for a few hours before flights were resumed.

The Special Deterrence Force of the Interior Ministry earlier declared taking control of the area and considered it a “military zone.”

“Many of the criminals have been arrested in Ghararat area. The area is now being fully secured,” the Force said earlier.

Tuesday clashes killed three and injured four others, including an officer of the Deterrent Force, according to security and medical sources.

The Force warned residents against “moving in places of clashes for their safety.”

Libya suffers security vacuum and unrest since the uprising that toppled former leader Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011. The country is plagued with chaos and political division. 


147 illegal immigrants rescued off western Libyan coast

TRIPOLI, (Xinhua) -- Libyan coast guards on Tuesday rescued 147 illegal immigrants off the coast of the western city Garabulli.

“Coast Guards vessel rescued 147 illegal immigrants of different African nationalities off the coast of Garabulli,” the Coast Guards said.

“The rescued illegal immigrants were taken to Tripoli naval base. Medical assistance was provided by the International Medical Corps. After that, they were handed over to the Anti-illegal Immigration Department and transferred to Tajura reception center,” the Coast Guards added.

The Anti-illegal Immigration Department on Tuesday said that 40 Bangladeshi migrants were repatriated from Libya as part of the humanitarian repatriation program of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Libyan authorities.

IOM on Monday said that more than 8,000 illegal immigrants have been repatriated voluntarily from Libya this year so far.

Insecurity and chaos in Libya that followed the 2011 uprising led to massive flows of migrants through the Mediterranean towards European shores. Those who are rescued at sea by Libyan navy are detained in reception centers with poor living conditions.

TRIPOLI, (Xinhua) -- Illegal immigrants are seen at a naval base after they were rescued by Libyan coast guards in Tripoli, Libya, on Oct. 17, 2017. Libyan coast guards on Tuesday rescued 147 illegal immigrants off the coast of the western city Garabulli. XINHUA PHOTO: HAMZA TURKIA

Nigerian police moves to halt incessant killings in central state

ABUJA, (Xinhua) -- Nigerian police said on Tuesday it had launched an investigation into recent attacks which claimed many lives in the central state of Plateau.

The local police had deployed more armed personnel to the areas of the state where gunmen wreaked havoc, Terna Tyopev, a police spokesman, told reporters.

At least 29 people were reportedly killed and many others wounded by gunmen who attacked a village in Nkyien-Doghwro area of the state on Monday.

Earlier, six persons were killed and scores of others wounded when some attackers invaded Taagbe Village in the state on Sunday. And on Sept. 7, at least 19 people were killed in a village attack in the state.

Tyopev said three units of riot policemen had been deployed to forestall further killing in the areas, in addition to a joint aerial surveillance of the affected communities between the police and the Nigerian Air Force.

Plateau state is situated in Nigeria’s middle belt where the Muslim-dominated north and the Christian-majority south meet. 


UN Peacekeeping chief voices concern over situation in South Sudan

UNITED NATIONS, (Xinhua) -- UN Undersecretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix on Tuesday expressed concern over the dire security and humanitarian situation in South Sudan and the lack of progress in the political process.

The security and human rights situation in the country remain grave as fighting continued in various parts of the country, said Lacroix in a briefing to the UN Security Council.

The humanitarian situation continued to deteriorate as a result of fighting and an increasingly challenging operating environment for humanitarian aid delivery, he said. The government’s security institutions as well as opposition forces continue to restrict the UN mission’s freedom of movement, he noted.

“Despite a highly effective humanitarian operation that has reached millions with life-saving assistance, without a reduction in conflict and improved access, humanitarian indicators are likely to continue to deteriorate,” he warned.

More than 2 million people have fled the country since the start of the conflict in 2013 and another 1.9 million people are displaced within the country, he said, warning that further displacement can be expected and any significant return of refugees or internally displaced people remains unlikely.

With regard to the political process, Lacroix said that the conflict is a direct outcome of a prolonged disproportionate access to power and wealth. He said that all future dispensations must therefore rest on the principle of inclusiveness that leads to equitable power and wealth-sharing. He added that South Sudan has been held hostage to personality politics and conflicts and that all processes and international support must strive to build institutions so that politics shifts from ownership by individuals to those institutions that are accountable to the people of South Sudan.

He said the conflict in South Sudan is a man-made conflict for which the leaders of the country bear a direct responsibility.


Sudan condemns deadly terrorist bombing in Somalia

KHARTOUM, (Xinhua) -- Sudan’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday condemned the terrorist bombing earlier this week in the Somali capital of Mogadishu.

“Sudan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its strong condemnation of the terrorist bombing which took place at the heart of the Somali capital Mogadishu on Saturday evening,” said the ministry in a statement.

The ministry described the bombing as “a crime contradicting all humanitarian values and principles.”

It expressed condolences to the families of the victims and to the government and people of Somalia.

It also stressed Sudan’s full solidarity with the government of Somalia in facing the criminal acts, renewing its call for the international community to intensify its effort and cooperation in the face of all forms of terrorist and criminal activities.

At least 276 people were killed and more than 300 others injured in the bombing that happened on Saturday in a shopping area of Mogadishu, making it the deadliest single attack in Somalia’s history.

ANKARA, (Xinhua) -- An injured Somali is transferred to local hospitals at Ankara Airport, Turkey, Oct. 16, 2017. Some 35 Somalis injured in Saturday’s blast in capital Mogadishu arrived in Ankara for treatment late Monday. XINHUA PHOTO: MUSTAFA KAYA

Nigeria deploys warships, troops for special exercise

LAGOS, (Xinhua) -- Nigeria has deployed four warships, gunboats and troops for special training exercise, the Nigerian navy said Tuesday.

The two-day exercise, code-named “Exercise Pouncer,” is aimed at equipping troops with requisite skills while checking their combat readiness to tackle piracy and other criminality in the nation’s maritime domain, said Rear Adm. Victor Adedipe, flag officer with Eastern Naval Command.

“Four ships and one helicopter will take part in the exercise while smaller crafts (gunboats) would operate at the backwaters,” he said.

Adedipe said the exercise would hone troops’ proficiency in maritime operation and test strategies without actual combat.

He said the navy was desirous to putting an end to maritime crimes such as piracy, sea robbery, hijacking, illegal bunkering and crude oil theft.

Adedipe said the exercise would be held in the nation’s territorial waters and not be extended to the Gulf of Guinea.

The Gulf of Guinea, which is believed to hold as much as 10 percent of the world’s oil reserves, has been plagued by pirates, smugglers and other criminals.


Sudan welcomes Arab League’s support for lifting of U.S. sanctions

KHARTOUM, (Xinhua) -- Sudan on Tuesday expressed appreciation over stances of the Arab League (AL) in support of Khartoum at all regional and international forums, as well as on the lifting of U.S. sanctions.

Sudan’s Foreign Ministry said the country would continue commitment to work for the AL objectives.

It also mentioned AL’s support to adoption of Sudan’s rehabilitation project and the initiative by Sudan’s president regarding the Arab food security.

The AL issued earlier a statement welcoming the U.S. decision to lift the economic sanctions imposed on Sudan.

It said the U.S. move came in line with the positive measures taken by the Sudanese government to stop hostilities in all conflict areas, improve the delivery and access of humanitarian aid, as well as to cooperate with Washington to resolve regional conflicts and counter terrorism.

The United States has been imposing sanctions on Sudan since 1997 and listing it as one of the countries sponsoring terrorism.


High blood pressure tied to common heart valve disorder: study

WASHINGTON, (Xinhua) -- A strong link has been for the first time established between high blood pressure and the most common heart valve disorder known as mitral regurgitation, a new study said Tuesday.

The findings, published in the U.S. journal PLOS Medicine, showed that the valve disorder, which is increasingly diagnosed worldwide, particularly among older people, is not an inevitable consequence of aging, as previously assumed, but may be preventable.

“Given the large and growing burden of mitral valve disease, particularly among older people, we believe these findings are likely to have significant implications for medical policy and practice around the world,” lead author Kazem Rahimi, professor and deputy director of the University of Oxford’s George Institute for Global Health, said in a statement.

Mitral regurgitation can lead to a backflow of blood into the heart, causing symptoms such as shortness of breath, tiredness, dizziness and chest pain.

It is more common in older people, and may be associated with a greater risk of mortality.

Despite significant advances in the understanding of valve disease, mitral regurgitation has until now been largely considered a degenerative disorder, resulting from a weakening of the valve over time due to “wear and tear.”  

This has led medical practitioners to focus on treatment, namely surgery to repair or replace the valve, rather than prevention. 

In the new study, researchers used electronic health records to followed 5.5 million adults in Britain over 10 years.  

It found that higher blood pressure in early life was associated with a significantly greater future risk of mitral regurgitation.  

According to the researchers, further research is needed to test whether lowering blood pressure, through exercise, diet or blood pressure-lowering drugs, could reduce the risk of the disorder occurring.  

“With worldwide aging and population growth, we are likely to see an increasing number of cases of this condition,” said Rahimi.  

“We need to find effective and affordable measures to tackle it, and our study suggests one possible avenue for prevention, by reducing high blood pressure.” 


Interview: “Big lessons” to be shared between Africa, China: UN-Habitat chief

By Wang Xiaopeng and Peter Mutai NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Africa is in a crucial time and the successful story of China in linking urbanization and development would be a source of learning for the continent, Joan Clos, executive director of the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat), told Xinhua in an interview on Tuesday.

With an average GDP per capita of around 2,000 U.S. dollars, the current economic picture in Africa was a little bit like what China was when it initiated the opening-up process in 1978, he said.

“Africa has a huge demand for development, with a young population searching for a better future,” Clos said, adding that there were “quite big lessons to be shared between Africa and China.”

Clos said an array of measures taken by the Chinese government in pushing urbanization and development over the last five years has left him impressed.

“Addressing the question of environmental sustainability, for example, in the case of Chinese cities, has been a very important one,” he said.

“The successful history of Chinese urbanization is a linkage between urbanization and development,” Clos said, stressing that the success did come at a price, like the issue of environmental problems. 

He hailed China’s support at the United Nations conference on climate change in Paris in late 2015 and its championing of sustainability in tackling the issue within the country and beyond.

The measures and policies taken by China add to an “already successful process of linking urbanization with industrialization,” Clos said.

He is upbeat about the future of China-Africa relations, noting that the last five years has seen a very clear advance in ties between the two sides.

The Belt and Road Initiative, which was proposed by China in 2013 to connect the vibrant Asian economic circle at one end and Europe at the other, and then extend it further to other regions, is “another clear sign of added impetus to this process of China-Africa cooperation,” Clos said.

The UN-Habitat chief, who is scheduled to travel to Guangzhou, southern China, to attend the global observation of 2017 World Cities Day on Oct. 31, said he looks forward to enhanced relations between the UN agency and China.

“We have built a very positive relationship that we would like to continue in the future,” Clos said. 


Nigeria to open Africa’s first petroleum university

ABUJA, (Xinhua) -- Nigeria on Tuesday cleared the path for the opening of Africa’s first petroleum university with President Muhammadu Buhari signing a bill for its establishment.

The Federal University of Petroleum Resources will be located in the country’s Delta region, focusing on petroleum engineering and technology-related courses.

Nigeria is the largest oil producer in Africa and the sixth largest in the world.


Nigeria to pursue renewable, low-carbon energy mix: official

LAGOS, (Xinhua) -- Nigeria’s commitment to attain a 30 percent renewable and low-carbon energy mix at low cost by 2030 is clear, firm and unshaken, a top official said Tuesday.

Minister of Power, Works and Housing Babatunde Fashola reiterated the government’s commitment at the third edition of the Africa Today Summit in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

The summit is a platform designed to discuss issues relating to African economies with a view to advising governments on best policy measures to improve their economy.

Fashola said the government’s commitment to change the power outlook for Nigeria and to exploit opportunities for renewable energy at a low cost and low-carbon mix was being driven by necessity, contract and policies.

The minister recalled that available power in May 2015 was 2,690 MW, 85 percent of which generated by gas-fired plants.

This, he said, made the nation vulnerable whenever there was a gas shortage or damage to gas pipelines and assets.

This resulted in the government’s plan to diversify energy sources and optimize other assets for power production by producing an energy mix that targeted 30 percent renewable energy by 2030, the former Lagos state governor told his audience.

According to him, the government has signed 14 solar power purchase agreement with developers with the potential to deliver over 1,000 MW of solar power.

The government is in advanced stages of procurement for six small hydro dams for private sector operation.

Fashola said the government has expanded the national grid capacity for on-grid power from 5,000 MW in 2015 to 6,900 MW in September.

The approval of mini-grid regulations to guide registration and licensing for small consumers and off-grid developers has started yielding results, he said. 


Nigeria stocks 2 bln liters of petrol for year-end use

LAGOS, (Xinhua) -- The Nigerian government Tuesday said it had stocked over 2 billion liters of petrol to ensure a hitch-free end-of-year movement for motorists.

Maikanti Baru, the Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), said in a statement reaching Xinhua in Lagos that provision of adequate petroleum products would not only ease transportation but make the roads safer for motorists during the yuletide period.

Baru added that other consumers would have no need to hoard highly inflammable products in jerrycans, among others, which might pose safety challenge to them.

“As we speak, NNPC has over 2 billion liters of petrol and we want to sustain this level from now on till the end of the year and beyond,” the statement quoted him as saying.

According to him, the volume would give the country product sufficiency of about 60 days, well above the standard 30 days sufficiency threshold.

Nigeria is Africa’s largest net exporter of crude oil, but as result of poor state of its three refineries, the country had to rely on massive importation of refined petroleum products to meet its local demand.


Nigerian leader to start state visit to Turkey

ABUJA, (Xinhua) -- Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will on Wednesday embark on a state visit to Turkey to address defense cooperation, security, education and migration issues with Turkish authorities.

Buhari’s working visit to Ankara followed an invitation by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to a presidency statement on Tuesday.

The Nigerian leader is also billed to visit the Grand National Assembly of the Republic of Turkey in Ankara, where he will meet with the Speaker, Ismail Kahraman, the statement said.

The state visit coincides with the ninth D-8 Summit slated for Oct. 20 in Turkey.

The D-8, also known as Developing-8, is an organization for economic development and cooperation between Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Turkey.

Buhari, the statement noted, would also use the occasion of the summit to bolster warm and growing ties across a broad range of areas of cooperation with leaders of the D8-member countries.

The summit, which will also mark the 20th anniversary of the founding of the organization, is to focus on cooperation in the areas of agriculture, trade, transport, energy and increased private sector participation among member countries. 


Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire agree to implement tribunal ruling on maritime dispute

ACCRA, (Xinhua) -- Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire on Tuesday announced the establishment of a joint commission to implement the ruling by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) on the delimitation of their maritime boundaries.

The agreement was reached at the end of a two-day official state visit by Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara to Ghana.

Both Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo and his Ivorian counterpart expressed their commitments to ensure the smooth implementation of the ITLOS ruling and indicated that the composition of the joint committee would be decided later.

The ITLOS last month rejected Cote d’Ivoire’s claims that Ghana had infringed its sovereign boundary in oil exploration within a disputed zone.

The Hamburg-based tribunal prescribed new coordinates for the demarcation of the maritime boundary between the two countries.

Akufo-Addo and Ouattara also agreed to work closely on a win-win strategy for a sustainable cocoa industry, pledging to work together to enhance border security to curb the smuggling of cocoa.

Addressing the press after both sides signed six Memoranda of Understanding (MOU), Akufo-Addo said it was obvious that if Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire remained in harmony and were determined to work together, the benefits would inure to the wider group in West Africa, not just to both populations.

“We should, and can be and I believe that now we are making it clear to the world that we are determined to be the vehicles that make possible for the greater cooperation and integration of the people of West Africa,” he said.


Slovenia, Egypt to enhance ties and cooperation

LJUBLJANA, (Xinhua) -- Slovenian foreign minister Karl Erjavec and his visiting Egyptian counterpart Sameh Hassan Shoukry labelled their meeting here on Tuesday as a new stage in ties between the two countries at both political and business levels.

The first ever visit of Egyptian foreign minister to Slovenia will surely contribute to enhancing political, economic and other ties, Erjavec said after the two countries signed a memorandum on cooperation in sport, according to the Slovenian Press Agency (STA).

Erjavec said that bilateral talks gave many opportunities to enhance cooperation, while the two ministers also agreed that a new mixed economic commission can be beneficial to bilateral trade.

“This visit highlights and reiterates the importance that Egypt places in its relationship with Slovenia,” said Shoukry, calling for enhancing mutual investment.

The pair discussed EU-Egypt relations as well. Their talks also touched on regional and international affairs such as Syria, Libya, Iraq, migrations and terrorism, said STA.

The Egyptian foreign minister also met President Borut Pahor and Prime Minister Miro Cerar on Tuesday as part of his visit to Ljubljana. 


Introduction of tilapia to boost fish farming along Kenyan coast

By Joy Nabukewa MOMBASA, Kenya, (Xinhua) -- Kenyan maritime scientists said Tuesday the introduction of tilapia, a fresh water species, to marine waters along the Kenyan coast will help local fish farmers increase output and tap export markets.

Two experts from Kenya Marine Research Institute, James Mwaluma and David Mirera, told Xinhua during an interview in the coastal city of Mombasa that the introduction of tilapia into the coastal waters will relieve farmers of shortage of fish for seed and food.

“The practice has not been as lucrative and sustainable as was envisaged which led us to borrow best practices from China to reduce pressure on marine resources for communities living along the Indian Ocean,” Mirera said.

He said fish farming in marine waters referred to as mariculture has been going on for quite a while in the Kenyan coast but it has not been as lucrative and sustainable as was envisaged and this led to exploring of fresh ideas that would add value to fish farming.

The expert said they have followed closely the footsteps of China and other Asian countries that have diversified fish farming for local and export markets and reduce pressure on marine resources.

“Borrowing a leaf from China, a country that is miles away, we embarked on this research to introduce tilapia and after a rigorous exercise that lasted about one year, we were able to come up with these findings,” said Mirera.

The specialist said the lessons learned from the Chinese, who have an advanced fish farming sector, came to fruition after one year of rigorous implementation.

Some communities have already started harvesting tilapia, he said.

Mirera said the findings of the research, which had financial and technical backing from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, convinced them to introduce a pilot mariculture project whose results were quite fulfilling.

According to the findings, tilapia farmed in marine environment takes much less time to mature and has more value than the normal milk fish which has been farmed at the Kenyan coast.

Mirera said they have been able to develop a pure breed of marine tilapia which reproduces faster and can be ready for harvesting within four to five months.

“This means a farmer can harvest two to three times a year, earning more money because of the ready and valuable market than the other species,” he said.

The Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute has for many years been trying to help farmers get a steady supply of seed.

The experts said the biggest challenge in fish farming along the Kenyan coast has been availability of seed and that plans are underway to set up a hatchery in Kenya’s south coast to address this problem as well as that of value addition.

“The new findings with marine tilapia means that farmers are able to get fingerlings throughout the year, making fish farming a full-time engagement for the fish farmers in the area,” said Mwaluma.

Tilapia seed, he said, is easily available and does not depend on seasons like other varieties where the fingerlings can only be obtained in the month of April.

The pilot-phase findings further revealed that a fish pond measuring 1,200 square meters can accommodate over 3,000 fish with a worth of about 30,000 U.S. dollars per harvest.

The researchers said the next step will be a campaign for more people to take up fish farming.



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