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Egypt’s pledge to send troops was part of discussions concerning the possible forming of a United Arab Forces as part of the “Arab National Security”, Saudi general Ahmed Al-Asiri said on Tuesday to Saudi channel Al Arabiya.
Al-Asiri said that the topic came up when it was discussed in the Arab League. “This came as part of Egypt’s stance that the security of the Arab world is the same as Egypt’s,” adding that “the issue has nothing to do with participating in Yemen.”
Egypt has previously said it is only contributing naval units in the conflict and denied that there are any Egyptian troops involved on the ground. The Egyptian presidency has previously noted “the participation of the required elements of the armed forces in an abroad mission to defend the Egyptian and Arab national security in the area of the Arabian Gulf, the Red Sea, and the Bab El-Mandeb Strait.”
Earlier, Al-Asiri said that President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi proposed sending 40,000 Egyptian troops to Yemen as part of the fight against the Houthi rebels. He added that the offer was refused as Saudi Arabia’s goal was to build a Yemeni army and not to send foreign soldiers.
Beginning in March 2015, Saudi Arabia conducted airstrikes within Yemen, targeting areas controlled by the Houthis, including Sana’a, to re-establish the “legitimacy” of the government of president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, who is the Saudi-recognised ruler of Yemen.
Since the beginning of the strikes against Houthi-held positions, more than 5,700 people have been killed, many of them civilians, and Yemen is facing a humanitarian disaster due to a naval blockade and difficulties for humanitarian organisations to supply the country with food and other necessities.
Bilateral relations between Egypt and Saudi Arabia have been strained over the past few months after Egypt’s vote in favour of the Russian draft resolution for peace in Syria at the UN Security Council.
The Saudi envoy described the voting as “painful.” Saudi Arabia criticised Egypt’s vote because of to the airstrikes Russia had carried out in the city of Aleppo. Russia supports Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad; however, Saudi Arabia and the US are backing the opposition in Syria.
Despite all this, after the Arab League Summit in Jordan last month, Al-Sisi is preparing to visit Saudi Arabia this month at the invitation of King Salman bin Abdul Aziz.
The move comes as a sign of improving relations between Cairo and Riyadh after months of tension between the two countries.
Source : Daily News Egypt
En visite de travail au Cameroun, le ministre de la Défense nationale centrafricain a été reçu en audience hier par Joseph Beti Assomo
La Compagnie d’honneur et de protection de la Brigade du Quartier général était en branle hier à l’esplanade de ministère de la Défense. Ses éléments, sous le commandement du capitaine Ibrahim El Rachdini et la Compagnie de la Musique principale des armées ont constitué la troupe d’honneur, pour recevoir le ministre de la Défense nationale de la République centrafricaine (RCA). Joseph Yakete est chaleureusement accueilli sur le perron du bâtiment principal par son homologue camerounais, Joseph Beti Assomo, ministre délégué à la présidence de la République chargé de la Défense (MINDEF). Puis, une séance de travail à huis clos dans le cabinet du MINDEF, en présence des plus proches collaborateurs des deux personnalités. Joseph Yakete, assisté de l’ambassadeur de la RCA au Cameroun, S.E Martial Beti-Marace de l’inspecteur général de l’armée centrafricaine, Jean-Pierre Dolle Waya et d’autres officiers, échangera avec le MINDEF. Aux côtés de ce dernier, le secrétaire d’Etat à la Défense chargé de la gendarmerie nationale, Jean-Baptiste Bokam, le secrétaire d’Etat chargé des Anciens combattants et Victimes de guerres, Koumpa Issa, le chef d’état-major des armées, le général de corps d’armée, René Claude Meka, entre autres.
Aucune déclaration formelle n’a été faite après cette première étape de la visite. Toutefois, si l’on s’en tient aux éclairages de la Division de la communication du MINDEF, cette visite se situe dans le cadre de l’accompagnement du gouvernement camerounais au processus de stabilisation en RCA. Par ailleurs, selon la volonté des deux chefs d’Etat, elle vise le renforcement de la coopération militaire et technique bilatérale. Ainsi, l’un des objectifs majeurs de la visite est la formation militaire au profit des Forces armées centrafricaines (FACA).
A ce titre, le ministre centrafricain de la Défense nationale a effectué une descente à l’Ecole militaire interarmées (EMIA) et l’Ecole d’état-major. En compagnie du général de division, commandant des Ecoles et centres d’instruction interarmées, Philippe Mpay, Joseph Yakete a eu droit à la présentation de la prestigieuse institution de formation des officiers de l’armée camerounaise et du renforcement permanent des capacités de ceux-ci. Ce tour dans les infrastructures de formation a également conduit l’hôte du Cameroun au Commandement des écoles et centres d’instruction de la gendarmerie nationale (CECIGN), au Camp Yeyap. Dans ce moule réputé pour la formation spécialisée de la gendarmerie nationale qui a en son sein sept établissements, le SED, Jean-Baptiste Bokam, a indiqué qu’il s’agit du creuset de l’esprit gendarme au Cameroun. Dans sa présentation détaillée, le colonel MBOGMIS, commandant du Centre, a rappelé que le CECIGN assure la formation initiale continue et le perfectionnement des gendarmes. Le développement des compétences et l’amélioration des prestations sont également des priorités majeures. Dans l’accomplissement de ses missions, le CECIGN a déjà reçu plusieurs stagiaires venus de la RCA ainsi que de 21 autres pays.
FMI estima que défice orçamental português suba de 1,9% em 2017 para 2,6% em 2022
O Fundo Monetário Internacional (FMI) melhorou ligeiramente as suas previsões para as contas públicas portuguesas, mas continua a prever défices em torno dos 2% até 2022, enquanto o Governo estima excedentes a partir de 2020.
De acordo com dados atualizados hoje depois da publicação das previsões económicas mundiais (o ‘World Economic Outlook’), o FMI estima que Portugal apresente um défice orçamental de 1,9% este ano, prevendo que suba praticamente todos os anos até atingir 2,6% em 2022, último ano do período analisado.
Embora melhore as estimativas de fevereiro, quando concluiu a quinta missão de acompanhamento pós-programa a Portugal e previa défices de 2,1% e de 2,3% este ano e no próximo, respetivamente, o FMI mostra-se mais pessimista do que o Governo no médio prazo.
Segundo o Programa de Estabilidade 2017-2021, entregue à Assembleia da República na semana passada, o executivo liderado por António Costa estima que o défice orçamental represente 1,5% do PIB este ano, descendo para 1% no próximo e para 0,3% em 2019.
O Governo estima que 2020 consiga equilibrar as contas, prevendo um saldo orçamental positivo de 0,4% do Produto Interno Bruto (PIB) nesse ano e de 1,3% em 2021, enquanto o Fundo prevê saldos negativos (e superiores) em cada um desses anos.
Também no que diz respeito à dívida pública, o FMI estima valores acima dos 123% até 2021, superior aos 109,4% previstos pelo Governo nesse ano.
O Fundo prevê que a dívida pública represente 128,6% do PIB este ano, 127,1% em 2018, 125,7% em 2019, 124,6% em 2020, 123,7% em 2021 e 122,9% em 2022.
Já o executivo, no Programa de Estabilidade, estima que a dívida pública desça para 127,9% este ano, 124,2% no próximo, para 120% em 2019, para 117,6% em 2020 e em 109,4% em 2021.
Isto significa que, apesar da perspetiva de trajetória descendente, o ritmo de redução da dívida esperado pela instituição sediada em Washington é inferior ao previsto pelo Governo.
O FMI divulgou hoje o World Economic Outlook, no qual melhora as projeções da economia portuguesa para 2017, antecipando agora um crescimento de 1,7%, acima dos 1,1% anteriormente esperados, mas ligeiramente abaixo da estimativa do Governo de 1,8%.
Diário de Notícias
By MALUM NALU
HELA Governor Francis Potape is wrong to suspend provincial administrator William Bando because only Cabinet has the power to do that, a senior public servant says.
Personnel Management Secretary John Kali said Potape did not have the power to suspend Bando.
“Governors don’t have the power to suspend (provincial administrators),” Kali said.
“Only the NEC (National Executive Council) has (the power to suspend provincial administrators).”
Potape, pictured, said he was finding it difficult, since he was appointed governor on Sept 13, 2016, to work with Bando.
Thus the provincial executive council decided to suspend him for failing to heed their directives and Potape’s.
“I have encountered many difficulties in trying to work with provincial administrator Bando, as the administrative head of the Hela provincial administration,” he said.
Potape claimed that the provincial administration was in “disarray and total mess” under Bando.
He also accused him of failing to provide acquittals for “millions of kina”.
“As a result of these and other matters, it has become necessary for the PEC (provincial executive council) to suspend William Bando as the provincial administrator, pending investigations into serious disciplinary offences and charges,” Potape said.
“I want to make it clear that the suspension has been made more necessary and urgent because the PA, as chairman of the (provincial) elections steering committee, has not held any meeting to prepare Hela for the 2017 general election.
“Hence, that is why the suspension of the PA was immediately necessary so that someone can take control of the elections’ steering committee.
“Time is a scare commodity so the committee can be convened to provide the necessary support to the Electoral Commission to prepare Hela for the elections.”
Potape said on April 7, he had served Bando the charges but there was no response.
“The grounds of suspension are based on serious disciplinary offences relating to deliberate lack of cooperation with the government of the day, failure to heed or obey PEC decisions and directions applied by me as governor,” Potape said.
He said the non-acquittal of funds was significant.
“These are some of the charges of disciplinary offences that the PA has been charged within the process for suspension,” the governor said.
Source : thenational.com.pg
By The Spinoff’s Auckland section editor, Simon Wilson
In the past five years pedestrian numbers on Queen St have doubled, to 60,000 a day. No other city in the world has seen such growth on its main street.
There are now 45,000 people living in the central city:That’s the number the planners said we’d reach in 2032. There are 22 per cent more people working in the CBD and the number of commuters arriving on public transport has risen from 13,000 to 40,000.
There are now more people living in the city centre than drive in by car.
In fact, the number of cars in the central city hasn’t grown at all, according to Spinoff.
Walk down Queen St these days and you’ll find the pavements stuffed with people. Drive down, and you’ll be the company of service vehicles and taxis. Who takes a car into Queen St anymore? Yet it is still a four-lane road from top to bottom.
As for High St, there are now so many people there it’s almost impossible to walk its length. It should be a shoppers’ haven and yet cars, and car parks on both sides, continue to get priority. Why?
The inner city is not what we thought it was going to be when the council adopted the City Centre Masterplan (CCMP) in 2012. Change has been faster and far larger than anyone predicted.
Now it’s time to revise the plan. But guess what?
Although car numbers are static and bus and walker numbers are way up, the planners are not going to change tack.
To the dismay of many councillors, no big rethink is on the cards. Auckland Transport appears to believe all we should do is delay some plans and rejig some others. The government, which controls most of the money, thinks much the same.
Meanwhile, further afield, things are arguably even worse. Did you know more than half the peak-time commuters on the Harbour Bridge now ride to work on a rapid transit bus on the dedicated busway? That’s great.
These are North Shore people, who supposedly would never get out of their cars, and yet somehow they have.
That’s rapid transit in action, proving its worth.
The reason our transport planning is a mess is that the people responsible for it are profoundly out of touch with the way the world now works.
So why, if we look west, did the widening of the northwest motorway not include a dedicated busway? That one’s on New Zealand Transport Agency, the government’s transport funding and planning agency. The word for that decision is: Incompetent.
Around the suburbs, many commuters complain on social media about the number of full buses driving past them.
Regular train commuters to Britomart know all about stopping to wait for a rail line into the terminal to come free, because there are only two. In the east, where public transport is worse than anywhere else in the city, they wait in vain for better service of any kind.
In the south, on highway 20A leading to the airport? Those roadworks cause havoc now, but things will hardly be better when they’re done.
Demand grows at a furious pace. More than 20,000 people work in and around the airport, there are 18 million airline passengers a year and both those numbers are rising fast.
So the government has confirmed there will be no rail line to the airport for another 30 years. And it dressed up this announcement to pretend it was progress. What?
Transport planning in Auckland is laughable.
At least it would be, if you weren’t stuck every day in traffic on the motorway, or taking your life in your hands on a bike, or just trying to walk along High St.
The reason for all this is both simple and appalling.
It’s not just that the politicians and transport agencies have consistently underestimated how we might grow. They have neglected to future proof their plans by allowing for growth.
They have not just refused to believe we might change our behaviour and get out of our cars. They have refused to change their plans even when confronted with the irrefutable evidence that we will do that.
The reason our transport planning is a mess is that the people responsible for it are profoundly out of touch with the way the world now works.
Worse, they lack the wit or imagination to conceive that things might be different in the future. They can’t plan, usefully, because they can’t look ahead. Instead, they focus on solutions that might tidy up the past.
Who is it doing this?
First and principally, it’s the government, because when it comes to transport they control most of the money and most of the decision-making power.
The government has badly underfunded public transport in Auckland and, adding insult to injury, has refused to allow the council to raise money for transport by other means.
It is the government that believes most strongly that the key to solving congestion on the roads is to build more roads.
Actually, favouring private vehicles by building more roads is the key to making things worse. Nobody in transport planning anywhere in the world now seriously disputes that.
Certainly the evidence for it is clear in Auckland. Yet more roads is the foundation of the government’s transport planning.
Next, NZTA, the enablers and in many cases the drivers of that government myopia.
And there is Auckland Transport itself.
Wretched, befuddled and blind.
A thousand people work at AT, and a great many of them are there because they dare to hope. They’re encouraged in that by the chairman of their own board, Lester Levy, who talks a good game about the future of transport in the city.
But the hopes and skills of the staff are betrayed by the reality. Their bosses are out of their depth. They cannot see what’s wrong and they cannot see how to fix it.
AT is a council-controlled organisation, although it also answers to government.
So what’s Auckland Council itself doing? It shares some of the blame for the mess we’re in, not for wrong-headedness, because its own future planning on transport is pretty good, but for timidity.
Why isn’t it reading the riot act to the board of Auckland Transport?
AT can’t build better public transport capacity without government support, but why doesn’t the council insist that it make fast, fundamental changes to fix the mess in the central city?
Auckland’s transport list of incompetence and shame
Ten things the planning agencies need to face up to now:
At a council Planning Committee meeting this week, Councillor Mike Lee noted the build-up of buses arriving from the northwest and clogging the inner city, and asked, shouldn’t they terminate at Karangahape Road, where passengers who want to go further could catch the City Rail Link (the underground railway now being built)?
The officials’ answer was that the CRL will be at capacity and not able to take more passengers at that point. That means this $3.4 billion transport project is being built with no capacity for growth.
Not surprisingly, Mike Lee seemed pretty angry.
Following an agreement signed last week by Auckland Transport and NZTA, we’re going to see 140-160 buses an hour in Queen St, many of them articulated or double-decker. Possibly for the next 30 years.
For this single reason, the plans set out in the 2012 City Centre Masterplan to pedestrianise parts of Queen St and to create a “linear park” along Victoria Street have been, and are still, on hold. Despite both proposals being extremely popular when the CCMP went through public consultation in 2012.
At the Planning Committee, Mayor Phil Goff asked, did the delay mean there would be “more traffic lanes and less green space”?
Daniel Newcombe from AT said no, it wasn’t about cars, just buses.
Goff: “But it still compromises the vision for greening the area?”
He was clearly pissed off, too.
“It’s a matter of timing,” said Newcombe.
Timing? He meant that the City Rail Link is so disruptive, nothing else will be done until it’s built. For downtown, that’s a couple of years off. But he also meant something else: Long-term rail planning has stuffed up shorter-term plans for the central city. See the next point.
Not the fact of it, but the timing. Under AT’s own plans, the way to get the overload of buses out of downtown Auckland is to build a light rail system: modern trams.
It would run up Queen St and then, initially, head off down Dominion Rd. AT used to say work would start in 2016.
AT also wants light rail to the airport, and that’s would probably be the same line, extended from the bottom of Dominion Rd.
But there’s the problem: The government has confirmed rail to the airport won’t be built for another 30 years and the whole light rail proposal is on hold. They’re going to secure the route, but they’re not going to build it.
Take a moment with that.
If the government gets its way, there will be people living on Mars before we have a railway line to the airport.
It would get built more quickly if we employed a couple of guys and asked them to dig out the route with a pick and shovel.
In the meantime, our inner city streets will become nose-to-tail bus yards.
And it doesn’t end there.
Rail to the North Shore is also on a slow track, so the Northern Busway will also continue to spill buses into the central city for decades to come.
When the reality of all this became clear at that Planning Committee meeting this week, councillor Chris Darby, chairing the committee, made a speech.
“That is not my vision of Queen Street,” he said. “The decisions of AT are problematic and are at odds with the City Centre Masterplan. Completely at odds.”
He was furious.
“Hear hear,” said Mike Lee.
Ludo Campbell-Reid, the city’s “design champion” and head of the council’s design office, sat there with shoulders hunched.
Pedestrianising Queen Street was “the number one project with the public,” he said, referring to the consultations they did over the CCMP in 2012.
“But,” he muttered, “doing that has not been achievable for various reasons. It’s frustrating.”
He seemed to be in despair.
“We need to address that,” said Darby.
But will they? How will they?
The government and AT want light rail to be the long-term solution for connecting to the airport. But others favour heavy rail; the electric trains we have on our suburban lines now. The council does not yet have a position.
Heavy rail will cost more, but would be less disruptive to build because it requires merely an extension of the line from Onehunga or Manukau. You don’t have to start laying a line up Queen St.
Heavy rail will also make sense if the container port shifts, as was proposed last year by the Port Future Study, a consensus working group involving all major stakeholders.
The two options are Manukau and the Firth of Thames, and both would involve new heavy rail links from port to airport and the port’s inland storage facility at Wiri.
Building an underground railway under a city is disruptive. We all get that. But does it have to be as negatively disruptive as the CRL is right now?
Essentially, Auckland Transport (AT) is acting on the principle of let’s pretend it isn’t happening.
Buses and private vehicles still flow everywhere they can, but the crosstown traffic gets held up because the flow is restricted to single lanes.
Shops still open when they can, even though pedestrians can’t easily see them and foot traffic along the edge of the construction sites is badly eroded. Retailers are in despair.
For heaven’s sake, why has AT not taken the chance to rethink inner-city traffic? Why isn’t it trialling all sorts of things, building on the ones that work and scrapping those that don’t? It could:
• Roll out a programme of street closures, aiming to leave open only those needed by buses and commercial vehicles, and some designated arterial routes.
• Convert some of the closed streets into markets for the nearby retailers. Every shop hidden behind a construction hoarding should get a new, easy-to-access market stall site to do business from.
• Closed streets could also become city gardens, malls, entertainment stages and food stall sites.
• Whip up some peripheral park-and-rides around the inner city, so people could drive only so close and then, if they don’t want to walk or hire a commuter bike, catch a bus the rest of the way. A free bus, that is.
• Convert substantial parts of the roadways to cycling use, and mount a really big campaign to encourage walking and cycling.
• Incentivise businesses to close their car parks and provide employees with HOP cards. Or penalise those that don’t.
• Exclude general traffic from many of the “shared space” streets such as Fort St, O’Connell St, Elliott St and part of Federal St. Almost none of the cars using them now has any good reason to be there: They’re just looking (unsuccessfully) for a short cut and undermining the potential of the streets.
• Reduce Queen St traffic to one lane each way. Effectively, turn it into bus lanes, but allow the few cars left after all the other changes above to share it. Do it with temporary barriers first to see if it works.
The proposed new road linking State Highway 20 with the industrial zones of Penrose and Otahuhu has no good business case.
The last publicly available assessment, which was done in 2015, suggested the economic case was weak, and that was when the route was different and the costs were much lower.
This is extraordinary.
The only reason to build this road is economic: it’s for freight trucks. But the economics aren’t good enough.
The government is avoiding this by calling it a “road of national significance” – weasel words designed merely to disguise the fact it is pandering to sections of the construction and freight industries.
There’s a new station on the rail line from Newmarket to Britomart, at Parnell. Hallelujah. But like a bizarre bad joke, some trains stop there in the evening but not the morning, or is it vice versa? You can get home from work, but you have to make your own way in.
It’s on account of “efficiency” of the overall line, but really? Is it a service or just a tease?
While all this manifest absurdity is going on, Auckland Transport is getting three new directors.
It will also, a bit later this year, say goodbye to its retiring CEO, David Warburton. And in two years’ time the board chairman, Lester Levy, will also step down.
That’s all a bit exciting, right? A chance for some new talent, new ideas, new skills?
They need it. The current board members (five men, one woman) all have a traditional business background, several of them in the vehicle-focused transport industry.
In an interview last year Levy said the new appointments would be strong in digital systems and urban transformation.
Will it happen? The recruitment process is being handled by Sheffield Consulting, which has a long tradition of putting predictable people onto boards.
But it’s not their call, or Levy’s. The council makes the decision.
For councillors concerned about transport in this city, these appointments are among the most important decisions they will make.
As for a new CEO, these days there are some exciting transport sector leaders in many cities, many of them mentored by the famous former New York Commissioner of Transportation, Janette Sadik-Khan.
Can we please, please, please have one of them?
There’s some good work happening for cycling in Auckland. More dedicated cycle lanes, more protected routes to schools, some campaigning to get people onto bikes.
But it’s far too little. Here are some things they could try:
• On all the wide roads (many of which used to be tram lines) put out cones and create temporary cycle lanes.
• At every primary and intermediate school, establish cycle routes and set up programmes with parent and whanau support for kids to use them. Start with the intermediates.
• Work with schools to establish car-free safe zones.
• Incentivise companies to promote cycling among their staff.
Ever caught a bus at the Midtown stop, or on Wellesley St, or at any of the other big mid-city stops?
At peak times the pavements get crowded, at some there’s not enough shelter when it rains, at none of them are there enough seats.
Big bus stops are merely little bus stops, designed for three people to sit down in, with everyone else hanging about and getting in the way of people walking past. That’s even true at the newly renovated stops like Customs St heading east.
Why is this? Why, especially at night, don’t they make customers feel both safer and more comfortable? Why aren’t the stops a bit of fun, with entertaining material on the walls?
If we’re meant to be using public transport instead of driving into town, why do so many bus stops carry this clear message: If you have money or brains you are not supposed to be here.
At that Planning Committee meeting, councillor Richard Hills shared the dismay of Goff, Darby and Lee.
“We can’t keep doing this,” he said, “cutting bits off and hoping for the best and then going crap, what are we going to do now?”
Hills reminded his colleagues that in New York, there were 4.5 million people living either side of the Brooklyn Bridge and yet somehow they managed to have “miles and miles of parks”.
More people doesn’t equal less quality of life, unless you give up and don’t plan for it.
Mike Lee said: “Transport should serve the city not the other way round. We want to preserve a city that is not damaged by transport.”
True that, too.
Design champion Ludo Campbell-Reid was asked what they should do.
He said: “You’re right to be worried. It’s about getting into a room with AT and working it out.”
Sadly, it’s about a great deal more than that. They’ve got a battle on their hands.
Source : New Zealand Herald