Fotokol (Cameroon) (AFP) - Stray bullets regularly whizz through the courtyard of the Fotokol highschool in northern Cameroon, a terrifying reminder of the Boko Haram gunmen carrying out deadly raids just across the border with Nigeria. "We are always on the alert," school headmaster Jean Felix Nyioto told AFP, seated behind his desk in a cramped office. "At any moment gunfire crackles on the other side, but also from time to time here" in Fotokol. The other side refers to Gamboru, a Nigerian village descended upon by swarms of Boko Haram fighters in May. The extremists opened fire on residents in an attack which local sources say left at least 300 people dead.
The sudden termination of a Hungarian editor's contract sparked protests in Budapest Tuesday after allegations he was fired for publishing a story which embarrassed Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government. -- a subsidiary of German firm Deutsche Telekom AG -- said that the site's editor Gergo Saling was stepping down "by mutual consent", but were forced Tuesday to deny allegations Saling had been booted out for political reasons. An Origo journalist told AFP anonymously however that Saling was "forced out" for political reasons after the site published a story about an extravagant expenses claim made by Janos Lazar, Orban's chief-of-staff.
Homs (Syria) (AFP) - It was in Baba Amr, in Syria's Homs, that the armed uprising against Bashar al-Assad erupted, but with people turning out to vote Tuesday as the president sought re-election, the spirit of revolution seemed to have vanished. A loudspeaker outside the Hassan al-Sabet school, the district's sole polling station, blared out the words of a patriotic song: "We salute this land of Syria, its heroes and its army." "Homs may have once been the 'capital of the revolution,' but today it is clearly the city of the election," she added. At the beginning of the uprising three years ago, Homs got its nickname because of the massive anti-Assad demonstrations that were brutally crushed by the regime.
Nigeria's new central bank governor began work on Tuesday, starting a fresh chapter in Africa's biggest economy after his predecessor's tenure ended in scandal and claims of political connivance. Godwin Emefiele took over from Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who was removed in February, four months from the end of his term of office, on government charges of financial recklessness and impropriety. The nomination of former Zenith Bank chief Emefiele's came as a surprise to many market watchers and his first day at the helm was low key, although he is expected to speak later this week. From the outset, he is seen as likely to build on Sanusi's policies, which are credited with bringing relative stability to the banking industry and putting it on a sound footing.
Washington's support for a new Palestinian government backed by Israel's Islamist foe Hamas, has left the Jewish state feeling betrayed, triggering a new crisis with its closest ally. Several Israeli ministers expressed public anger on Tuesday after the US State Department said it was willing to work with the new Palestinian unity government put together by the West Bank leadership and Gaza's Hamas rulers. Technocratic in nature, the new government was sworn in on Monday in front of president Mahmud Abbas, with Washington offering its backing several hours later. Israel admitted it was "deeply disappointed."
NATO defence ministers agreed Tuesday series of steps to bolster protection in eastern Europe after the Ukraine crisis, but insisted they were acting within the limits of a key post-Cold War treaty with Moscow. NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen said ministers had agreed to develop a "readiness action plan... to respond to the changed security environment" created by the escalating conflict in Ukraine. This will include measures such as pre-positioning supplies and equipment in member states and stepping up work to improve military capabilities to help NATO speed up its reaction time to any threat. The plan will go to NATO leaders at their September summit in Britain for approval.
The leader of Crimea's pro-Kiev Tatar community on Tuesday received a Polish prize for championing democracy and human rights, before an audience of dignitaries in Warsaw. Mustafa Dzhemilev, 70, picked up the inaugural Solidarity Prize at a ceremony notably attended by Ukraine's president-elect Petro Poroshenko and US Secretary of State John Kerry.
United Nations (United States) (AFP) - Russia said Tuesday it would not shirk efforts to find a political solution in Syria during its month-long presidency of the UN Security Council, calling for a new mediator to be appointed without delay. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, under fire from Western colleagues for blocking attempts to enforce humanitarian corridors in the war-torn country, said Moscow wanted a political solution. He told a news conference it would be "fundamentally flawed" to ignore the need for a quick successor to mediator Lakhdar Brahimi, who stepped down Saturday, given the latest collapse in peace talks. Moscow has four times vetoed Western resolutions on Syria, protecting close ally Damascus and paralyzing Security Council efforts to end a war that has killed more than 160,000 people.
Spain will receive 10 million euros ($13.6 million) from the European Union to fight illegal immigration in its two north African territories of Ceuta and Melilla, the government said Tuesday. Madrid has for months appealed for more EU aid to help it contain a surge in the arrival of sub-Saharan African migrants at the two cities, which are both on Morocco's Mediterranean coastline and have Europe's only two land borders with Africa. EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said the bloc would "immediately" provide Madrid with 10 million euros during talks in Madrid with Spanish Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz, the interior ministry said in a statement.
Two OSCE monitoring teams taken prisoner by separatist gunmen in eastern Ukraine are alive, the head of the European security body said Monday. They are alive and well," said Lamberto Zannier, secretary general of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Zannier told reporters that the OSCE was working around the clock to win the captives' freedom, but declined to elaborate, citing the confidential nature of the talks. "My priority is to win their immediate freedom, without conditions," he said, after briefing diplomats at Swiss think-tank the Geneva Centre for Security Policy.
Barack Obama's decision to release five Taliban leaders from Guantanamo Bay has been attacked by some as illegal or reckless, but could bring him closer to his goal of closing the prison camp. Supporters of the president's efforts to close Guantanamo said the move showed that he is closing in on his goal. Obama has defended the decision to release the detainees, Taliban leaders caught early in the conflict and accused of some of the worst excesses of Afghanistan's pre-2001 regime.
Neither Chris McDaniel, the conservative firebrand vying for Mississippi’s U.S. Senate nomination today, nor the six-term establishment Republican incumbent he is challenging, Thad Cochran, is likely to be the future of the GOP. They’re not even great campaigners. Why, then, are so many Washington, D.C.-based Republican aides and operatives fixated on this race, a bitter fight between two gaffe-prone men with on-the-ground operations so strained they can barely keep up with a deluge of national requests pouring in their way?
An Iraqi "high-value" detainee at Guantanamo, accused of being an Al-Qaeda commander in Afghanistan and Pakistan, was referred to a military court on terror charges, the Pentagon said Tuesday. Guantanamo's highest military court authority on Monday approved the charges against Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, who was accused of directing fatal attacks against Americans and their allies in Pakistan and elsewhere between 2001 and 2006, a statement said. The 53-year-old Iraqi native, transferred to Guantanamo in April 2007, was among the last to arrive at the US prison for terror suspects in Cuba.
House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner backed calls on Tuesday for congressional hearings on the decision to swap five Taliban prisoners from the Guantanamo detention center for captured U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl. Boehner, a Republican, described how President Barack Obama's administration had consulted with Congress more than two years ago about the possibility of such an operation. "The administration has invited serious questions into how this exchange went down and the calculations the White House and relevant agencies made in moving forward without consulting Congress despite assurances it would re-engage with members on both sides of the aisle," Boehner said in a statement. Boehner said he joined all Americans in welcoming Bergdahl home, but signaled there will likely be a series of hearings at least in the Republican-led House looking into the circumstances of his release.
Saudi King Abdullah Tuesday hailed the election of Egypt's ex-army chief Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to the presidency as an "historic day," calling for a donors conference to help Egypt through its economic troubles. The king, whose oil-rich nation is a strong ally of Egypt, said Sisi's sweeping win with 96.9 percent of the vote represents a "historic day and a new stage for Egypt," in a telegram published by Saudi state news agency SPA. "To the brothers and friends of Egypt ... I invite all to a donors conference ... to help it overcome its economic crisis," he said. Riyadh pledged billions of dollars in aid to Egypt's new authorities after the overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last July.
Ramallah (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) - Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah assured foreign diplomats on Tuesday that his new unity government would respect past agreements with Israel, after chairing the cabinet's first meeting. The new 17-member cabinet was sworn in on Monday before president Mahmud Abbas, in line with a surprise reconciliation deal reached in April between Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas and the PLO, which dominates the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority. "Hamdallah stressed that the government is committed to all international agreements signed by the Palestine Liberation Organisation ... international political initiatives and peaceful solutions," his office said. Hamdallah was briefing European Union representatives to the Palestinian territories on his new government, also telling them his cabinet would focus on providing services and resolving pressing water issues in the Gaza Strip.