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Malaysia Expels North Korea Ambassador Over Kim Murder

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Malaysian police
  • Malaysia Expels North Korea Ambassador Over Kim Murder

Malaysia has expelled North Korea’s ambassador, giving him 48 hours to leave the country in a major break in diplomatic relations over the airport assassination of the half-brother of Pyongyang’s leader.

Kim Jong-Nam, 45, was poisoned February 13 with deadly nerve agent VX. North Korea has not acknowledged the dead man’s identity but has repeatedly disparaged the murder investigation, accusing Malaysia of conniving with its enemies.

“The ambassador has been declared persona non grata” after Malaysia demanded but did not receive an apology for Pyongyang’s attacks on the investigation, Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Anifah Haji Aman said.

“Malaysia will react strongly against any insults made against it or any attempt to tarnish its reputation,” he said in a statement released late Saturday.

Ambassador Kang Chol failed to present himself at the ministry when summoned and “is expected to leave Malaysia within 48 hours,” the statement added.

On Sunday morning, media besieged Pyongyang’s embassy, from where Kang is expected to depart before the expulsion deadline expires 6pm on Monday.

Arch-rival South Korea has blamed the North for the murder, citing what they say was a standing order from leader Kim Jong-Un to kill his exiled half-brother who may have been seen as a potential rival.

The expulsion is “part of the process by the Malaysian government to review its relations” with the North Korea, which before Kim’s assassination were unusually cosy, the foreign ministry said.

— ‘Diplomatically rude’ —

The diplomatic spat erupted last month when Malaysian police rejected North Korean diplomats’ demands to hand over Kim’s body.

Kang then claimed the investigation was politically motivated and said Kuala Lumpur was conspiring with “hostile forces”.

Malaysia summoned Kang for a dressing-down, with Prime Minister Najib Razak saying the ambassador’s statement was “diplomatically rude”.

Malaysia issued a February 28 deadline for an apology, but “no such apology has been made, neither has there been any indication that one is forthcoming.”

Malaysia has also recalled its envoy to Pyongyang and cancelled a rare visa-free travel deal with North Korea.

Police are seeking seven North Korean suspects in their probe but on Friday released the only North Korean arrested for lack of evidence.

After Ri Jong-Chol was deported, he claimed police offered him a comfortable life in Malaysia for a false confession, saying the investigation was “a conspiracy to impair the dignity of the Republic (North Korea)”.

Two women — one Vietnamese and one Indonesian — have been charged with murdering Kim Jong-Nam, with airport CCTV footage showing them approaching the heavyset 45-year-old and apparently smearing his face with a cloth.

Police say he suffered a seizure and died less than 20 minutes later. Swabs of the dead man’s face revealed traces of VX nerve agent.

— End of cosy ties —

North Korea had few friends even before the assassination, but the fallout from the killing looks set to further isolate the nuclear-armed state.

Malaysia formally established diplomatic relations with North Korea in 1973 and opened an embassy in Pyongyang in 2003.

It has provided a conduit between Pyongyang and the wider world in recent years, with Kuala Lumpur serving as a discreet meeting place for talks between the regime and the United States.

A recently released report by a UN Panel of Experts reviewing compliance with sanctions against Pyongyang, identified a front company run by North Korean intelligence out of Malaysia, selling military communications equipment to Eritrea, with suppliers in China and an office in Singapore.

Up to 1,000 North Koreans currently work in Malaysia and their remittances are a valuable source of foreign currency for the isolated regime.

North Korea imports refined oil, natural rubber and palm oil from Malaysia, which buys electrical and electronic items, chemicals as well as iron and steel products from North Korea.

Last week Malaysia’s trade minister Mustapa Mohamed said that the spat had no impact on Kuala Lumpur as the trade with the reclusive country is “too small” and “insignificant”.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

Buhari Declares Oct 1 Public Holiday

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Muhammadu Buhari

The Federal Government has declared Thursday, October 1, 2020, as a public holiday to commemorate Nigeria’s 60th Independence Anniversary.

The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, who made the declaration, congratulated all Nigerians on the celebration of the country’s Diamond Jubilee while stressing the government’s commitment to the socio-economic transformation of the country.

This was contained in a statement titled, ‘FG Declares Thursday, October 1, 2020, Public Holiday To Mark Nigeria’s 60th Independence Anniversary’ and signed by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior, Georgina Ehuriah.

According to the statement, the minister praised Nigerians for the feats in economy, education, the creative sector, amongst others.

The statement also quoted Aregbesola as saying, “Though celebrating sixty years of independence really calls for pomp and pageantry, but with the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced all nations in the world to think and act cautiously, we cannot avoid the imperative of a low-keyed celebration at this time.”

It added, “While wishing Nigerians a fruitful independence celebration, he reminded them of the fact that our founding fathers, in spite of the differences in faith, tribe and tongue came together for Nigeria’s independence.”

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INEC To Introduce E-voting, Talking to Machine Manufacturers

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INEC Commences Process of Introducing E-voting, Discussing With Manufacturers

The Independent National Electoral Commission on Monday said it has commenced plans to replace manual voting with an electronic voting system.

According to Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who disclosed this during the demonstration of electronic voting machines, the commission has invited manufacturers of electronic voting machines around the world to demonstrate how the machines work and preparatory to the full migration.

He said, “Over the years, the commission has been automating the critical pillars of the process. The biometric register of voters has been updated continuously. At the moment, the INEC register of voters is the largest database of citizens in Nigeria.

“In addition, the combination of biometric voter cards commonly known as the Permanent Voter Card and the Smart Card Reader have revolutionised the accreditation of voters during elections.

“More recently, the introduction of a number of portals has facilitated the seamless nomination of candidates for elective offices by political parties as well as the accreditation of observers and the media.

“Most significantly, the commission now uploads polling unit level results in real-time on Election Day to a portal for public view. These are significant innovations that have deepened the transparency and credibility of elections and the electoral process in Nigeria.

“The commission developed the specifications of the functions required of the machine. After extensive discussion and review, the commission took the decision to invite original manufacturers of electronic voting machines around the world for a virtual or practical demonstration of the machines.”

Yakubu explained that more than 40 companies have indicated interest and would be demonstrating to the commission how the IT solutions meet its specifications.

“The commission is aware that Nigerians want us to deepen the use of technology in elections. Let me reassure Nigerians that the commission is committed to expediting the process leading to the deployment of the EVMs in elections in earnest,” the INEC chairman said.

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Mali Sworn In Bah Ndaw as Transition President

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Malian Mutinying Soldiers

Mali’s interim president, Bah Ndaw, chosen to head a transitional government following a coup last month, was sworn in during ceremonies in the capital Bamako on Friday, AFP journalists witnessed.

A committee appointed by the junta which seized power on August 18, toppling President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, selected Ndaw, a 70-year-old retired colonel, as interim president.

Ndaw is due to lead a transition government for a maximum of 18 months before organising national elections.

Colonel Assimi Goita, who led the military junta, was also sworn in as interim vice president.

The ceremony on Friday took place in a theatre filled with officials dressed in military fatigues, senior judges, and foreign diplomats.

During the ceremony, Supreme Court Chief Prosecutor Boya Dembele said the challenges facing both men were “enormous”.

“It will truly require a reformulation of the state,” said the judge, dressed in red fur-lined robes.

The swearing-in comes as the fragile Sahel state’s neighbours have leaned on the military junta to appoint civilians as interim president and prime minister.

The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) slapped sanctions on the poor country on August 20 to push for a swift return to civilian rule.

A decision by the bloc on whether to ease the measure is possible on Friday, according to former Nigerian president and ECOWAS mediator Goodluck Jonathan.

“We are optimistic that this event will signal the beginning of the return to normalcy in Mali,” he said on Twitter on Thursday night, referring to the swearing in of interim-government leaders.

Last month’s coup followed weeks of mass protests against Keita, spurred by frustrations over a brutal jihadist conflict, perceived corruption and the country’s slumping economy.

Mali has struggled to quell an eight-year-old Islamist insurgency which has claimed thousands of military and civilian lives.

AFP

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