Qatar’s foreign minister said on Friday that there had been some progress to resolve the Gulf crisis which has pitted a regional group of nations against his country.
Saudi led its allies — the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt — to cut ties with Qatar in 2017, accusing it of backing radical Islamist movements and Iran, charges Doha denies.
They subsequently forced out Qataris residing in their countries, closed their airspace to Qatari aircraft, and sealed their borders and ports, separating some mixed-nationality families.
“We have achieved certain progress at a certain point of time more than a year ago, and then things have slowed,” Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said at the Mediterranean Dialogues forum in Rome.
“Right now, there are some movements that we hope will put an end (to) this crisis,” he said without giving details.
“We believe that Gulf unity is very important for the security of the region. This needless crisis needs to end based on mutual respect.”
US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner is reported to have raised the Gulf crisis and pushed for progress towards ending the spat during a visit to Qatar Wednesday.
Few details have been made public about Kushner’s trip, which could have been his last chance to press diplomatic issues in the region that has been a focal point for the outgoing Trump administration.
Saudi Arabia’s closure of its airspace has forced Qatar Airways aircraft to fly over Iran, Riyadh’s arch-rival and long-time adversary of Washington, paying significant overflight fees to Tehran in the process.
The New York Times has reported that Qatar pays $100 million annually to fly over the Islamic republic, citing diplomatic sources.
US national security adviser Robert O’Brien said in November that allowing Qatari planes to fly over Saudi Arabia via an “air bridge” was a priority for the outgoing Trump administration.
Qatar has repeatedly said it is open to talks without preconditions, though has not signalled publicly it would compromise on the 13 demands of the boycotting countries.
Past mediation efforts led by Kuwait have yielded no results.
Beijing on Friday lashed out at a claim by the US intelligence chief that China is the “greatest threat to democracy and freedom worldwide”, calling it a “hodgepodge of lies”.
The war of words comes as relations between the two superpowers have spiralled to their lowest point in decades and as Washington unveiled travel restrictions for members of the Chinese Communist Party.
US Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece on Thursday that Chinese spies were using economic pressure to influence or undermine US legislators.
“The People’s Republic of China poses the greatest threat to America today, and the greatest threat to democracy and freedom worldwide since World War II,” he wrote.
Beijing hit back angrily on Friday.
“[Ratcliffe] only continues to repeat lies and rumours to slander and discredit China, and wantonly play up the Chinese threat,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.
“I think this is yet another hodgepodge of lies that the US government has been cooking up lately.”
Hua also accused the US of being “engaged in a Cold War mindset, advocating major power competition, and wantonly expanding its nuclear weapons arsenal”.
The world’s two biggest economies have traded blows over the coronavirus pandemic, trade and technology competition, espionage, human rights and media freedoms under US President Donald Trump’s tenure.
The US has repeatedly stressed that China is a grave threat to national security and Western democratic values, while China has accused the US of seeking to contain its rise through unlawful means.
Under the new US travel rules, visas issued to party members and their immediate family will remain valid for just one month, and for a single entry.
Previously some visas were issued that permitted unlimited entries and could remain valid for as long as 10 years.
The United States shut down the Chinese consulate in Houston in July, calling it a centre of espionage and harassment of Chinese nationals in the US.
In retaliation, Beijing ordered the US to vacate its consulate in Chengdu.
Hua on Friday called for the United States to “stop damaging US-China relations and US-China mutual trust and cooperation”
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the remand of Abdulrasheed Maina at Kuje Correctional Centre pending the conclusion of his trial.
At the resumed trial on Friday, the counsel representing Maina, Adaji Abel formally withdrew and the counsel engaged by Mr Maina asked for a short adjournment to enable him to study the facts of the case.
Justice Abang granted the application for adjournment on the ground that the defendant who is presumed innocent is entitled to legal representation.
He subsequently adjourned the case to the 8th of December for a continuation of trial.
Maina’s trial had been holding in absentia after he jumped bail and ran off to the Niger Republic. A High Court in Abuja declared him wanted and subsequently he was arrested in Niamey.
The embattled former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT) was extradited to Nigeria on Thursday to face his ongoing money laundering trial.
With the Lagos East bye-election barely 24 hours from now, the police have declared restriction of movements in the areas.
In a statement issued on Friday by the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, the restriction of movement would be between 6 am and 6 pm on Saturday.
He explained that the move is to ensure free, fair and credible poll into the Lagos East Senatorial and Kosofe 11 Constituency.
“In a bid to have free, fair and credible bye-elections into the Lagos East Senatorial and Kosofe 11 Constituency, Lagos State House of Assembly seats, the Lagos State Police Command has declared restriction of movement between 6 am and 6 pm on Saturday, 5th December 2020,” the statement partly read.
“The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, CP Hakeem Odumosu, made the declaration today Thursday 3rd December 2020 while deliberating on the strategies put in place with the election monitoring officers deployed from the Force Headquarters, Abuja, to assist and monitor the elections in Lagos State.”
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According to the police authorities, the affected Local Government Areas for the two legislative seats include Epe, Ibeju Lekki, Kosofe and Somolu.
SEE FULL STATEMENT HERE:
LAGOS EAST SENATORIAL AND KOSOFE 11 CONSTITUENCY BYE ELECTIONS: POLICE DECLARE RESTRICTION ORDER, SUE FOR PEACEFUL CONDUCT.
In a bid to have free, fair and credible bye-elections into the Lagos East Senatorial and Kosofe 11 Constituency, Lagos State House of Assembly seats, the Lagos State Police Command has declared restriction of movement between 6 am and 6 pm on Saturday, 5th December 2020.
The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, CP Hakeem Odumosu, made the declaration today Thursday 3rd December 2020 while deliberating on the strategies put in place with the election monitoring officers deployed from the Force Headquarters, Abuja, to assist and monitor the elections in Lagos State.
The election monitoring team, which comprises two Commissioners of Police, some Assistant Commissioners of Police and other officers, led by the Commissioner of Police, Community Policing, Force Headquarters, CP Kola Okunola, reported to Lagos State Command today 3rd December 2020, in preparation for the deployment and monitoring of police personnel and other security agents detailed for the election duties.
The Command has deployed a reasonable number of police personnel and other security agents to cover and provide security at the one thousand, nine hundred and twenty-eight (1,928) polling units in the areas.
The Commissioner of Police reiterated that there will not be both vehicular and pedestrian movement in and out of the affected Local Government Areas during the elections, except those on election duties, essential services and accredited domestic and foreign election observers.
The affected Local Government Areas for the two legislative seats include Epe, Ibeju Lekki, Kosofe and Somolu.
The Police Boss warned the electorate and political gladiators to play the game according to the rules and provisions of the Electoral Acts 2010. He also warned that no police aides or security agents will be allowed to escort their principals or any Very Important Personalities (VIPs) to polling units or on any movement while the elections last, noting that any security aides violating this directive will be arrested and made to face the full weight of the law.
CP Hakeem Odumosu assured the general public of safety and smooth conduct of the elections. He reaffirmed the commitment of the police to achieving free, fair, credible and acceptable elections in the affected Local Government Areas.
SP OLUMUYIWA ADEJOBI (mnipr)
POLICE PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER
COMMISSIONER OF POLICE
LAGOS STATE COMMAND
The management of Arik Air has declared 300 staff redundant amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was contained in a statement issued on Friday by the airline’s spokesman, Adebanji Ola.
“Arising from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to the constrained ability of the airline to complete heavy maintenance activities and return its planes to operations, stunted revenues against increasing operational costs, the management of Arik Air (In Receivership) has declared 300 staff members redundant to its current level of operations,” the statement partly read.
“The leadership of the impacted unions have been contacted to negotiate a redundancy package for the affected staff.”
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The statement noted that over “50 per cent of Arik Air’s workforce of over 1,600 staff” has been on an unpaid leave of absence in the past six months on a base allowance.
While noting that decisions to let go of staff are naturally a difficult one, the airline wished the impacted staff well in their future endeavours.