ECOWAS Court Orders Immediate Release and Reinstatement of Niger’s Deposed President

Ecowas Court Orders Immediate Release And Reinstatement Of Niger's Deposed President

In a significant ruling, the ECOWAS Court of Justice has called for the “immediate and unconditional release” of Mohamed Bazoum, the deposed President of Niger, and ordered his reinstatement. The court’s judgment, delivered in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, declared that Bazoum represented the state of Niger and remained the President of the republic.

Following a military coup that overthrew Bazoum, Niger was suspended from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Bazoum and his family were detained, with the former President being held in his presidential residence. The court ruling highlighted the violation of constitutional rights and emphasized the need for Bazoum’s release.

Niger’s military rulers have yet to respond to the court’s decision. It is worth noting that some member states have previously disregarded rulings from the ECOWAS court. In mid-September, Bazoum appealed to the court to secure his release and the restoration of constitutional order in the country. The ruling from the ECOWAS Court of Justice is considered final and not subject to appeal.

Bazoum’s collective of lawyers welcomed the court’s decision, emphasizing that it was the first time military authorities involved in a coup d’état were convicted for violating ECOWAS constitutional principles. The lawyers stressed that ECOWAS and its member states had a responsibility to ensure the effective implementation of the court’s ruling.

ECOWAS has already suspended Niger from all decision-making bodies until constitutional order is restored. The regional organization had imposed economic and financial sanctions against Niger following the coup but has since resumed dialogue with the military regime. Togolese Foreign Minister Robert Dussey, who mediated discussions in Niamey, announced that an agreement on the transition back to civilian rule had been reached with Niger’s Prime Minister, Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine.

Details of the transition, including its duration and specific steps, have yet to be disclosed. Dussey stated that the agreed-upon content and timing of the transition would be presented to the mediating heads of state and the ECOWAS Commission. The diplomatic efforts are aimed at facilitating a short transition period leading to the return of civilian rule in Niger.

An ECOWAS summit held in Abuja earlier this year paved the way for potential relaxation of sanctions against Niger, conditional on a swift transition back to civilian governance. A heads-of-state committee comprising representatives from Benin, Togo, and Sierra Leone will engage in negotiations with the Nigerien military regime to determine the necessary steps for the potential easing of sanctions.

General Abdourahamane Tiani, the head of the military regime, previously stated that the transition would not exceed three years and would be determined through an inclusive national dialogue. The outcome of ongoing negotiations and the subsequent transition will shape the future trajectory of Niger’s political landscape.


Source: France24

Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire Residents to Enjoy Free Weekend Bus Travel in January

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In a move aimed at boosting city centre footfall and providing relief during a typically tight financial period, First Bus and Stagecoach have announced that all residents of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire will be offered free weekend bus travel throughout the month of January. The bus companies attribute this initiative to the positive impact of the controversial city bus gates, which have generated savings for the firms.

Earlier this year, the introduction of bus gates on Bridge Street, Guild Street, and Market Street sparked outrage and a petition signed by thousands of individuals. Critics argued that the bus gates hindered drivers’ access to the struggling city centre, limiting support for local businesses by cutting off various driving routes. However, First Bus and Stagecoach have asserted that these measures have already accelerated journey times for over 600,000 people each month in the city centre.

In a joint statement, the bus companies expressed their commitment to reinvesting the savings derived from the bus priority measures into customer benefits. They also emphasized the goal of encouraging more people to utilize buses, particularly in January when financial constraints are commonly felt. The offer of free travel in Aberdeen throughout the month is intended to alleviate some of these pressures.

Graeme Macfarlan, commercial director for First Bus Scotland, expressed delight at providing free travel and highlighted the positive implications for individuals navigating the city. Macfarlan emphasized the importance of sustainable, reliable, and affordable transport in ensuring the success of any city centre. He also mentioned the companies’ efforts toward zero-emission transportation, with nearly 50 such vehicles currently operating in the city on a daily basis.

David Beaton, managing director for Stagecoach North Scotland, emphasized the collaborative approach between local public transport providers to secure a prosperous future for Aberdeen. Beaton stated that the initiative aimed to provide a boost to the city centre during a challenging time of the year for both customers and local businesses. Moreover, the promotion seeks to encourage a shift toward more sustainable forms of transportation.

Residents will be able to enjoy free bus travel on the specified dates in January, which include the 6th, 7th, 13th, 14th, 20th, 21st, 27th, and 28th. Concession card holders will still be required to scan their cards during the promotional period. This initiative represents a joint effort by First Bus and Stagecoach to support the community, promote sustainable transport, and stimulate the local economy during the winter season.


Source: Aberdeen Live

Venezuela and Guyana Agree to Peaceful Resolution in Long-standing Border Dispute

Venezuela And Guyana Agree To Peaceful Resolution In Long Standing Border Dispute

In a significant development aimed at deescalating tensions, Venezuela and Guyana have reached an agreement to avoid the use of force and threats in their ongoing dispute over the resource-rich territory of Essequibo. The region, known for its enormous oil reserves, has been at the centre of contention since Venezuela revived its claim to the land following the discovery of oil off its coast in 2015.

The Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro, and his Guyanese counterpart, Mohamed Irfaan Ali, reaffirmed their commitment to “good neighbourliness” and “peaceful coexistence” during a tense meeting held in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Thursday. They jointly declared that neither country would resort to force or threats against each other, even in relation to existing controversies between them.

To address matters concerning Essequibo, both leaders agreed to establish a joint commission comprising foreign ministers and officials from both countries. This commission will serve as a platform for dialogue and negotiation in resolving the long-standing dispute. Furthermore, Maduro and Ali announced their intention to meet again in Brazil within the next three months to continue discussions and seek comprehensive solutions.

Expressing his satisfaction with the meeting, President Maduro thanked President Ali for his candidness and willingness to engage in broad dialogue. Through Bolivarian Peace Diplomacy, Maduro emphasized the importance of raising historical reasons, seeking understanding, and finding a peaceful resolution to the controversy over Essequibo.

The dispute over Essequibo dates back over a century, but tensions have escalated recently, particularly after Venezuela claimed sovereignty over the region following a disputed referendum. On December 4, Venezuelan voters approved the referendum, leading to outcry in Guyana. The territory of Essequibo was awarded to Britain in 1899 by an international arbitral tribunal when Guyana was still under colonial rule. However, Venezuela has persistently disputed this decision, with President Maduro accusing Guyana, the United States, and oil firms of engaging in “legal colonialism” and robbing Venezuela of its rightful territory.

Guyana, on the other hand, maintains that the arbitral award is legally binding and sought the intervention of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2018 to settle the matter definitively. Just recently, on December 1, the ICJ ordered Venezuela to refrain from taking any actions that would alter Guyana’s control over Essequibo.

With this recent agreement and commitment to peaceful dialogue, Venezuela and Guyana have taken a significant step towards resolving their long-standing border dispute. The establishment of a joint commission and the planned future meetings demonstrate a willingness to find a mutually acceptable solution and promote regional stability in South America.


Source: CNBC

Kuwait and Seychelles Discuss Visa Waiver Agreement and Air Link to Boost Travel

Kuwait And Seychelles Discuss Visa Waiver Agreement And Air Link To Boost Travel

In a meeting held at State House on Thursday, Mubarak Mohammad Alsehaijan, the Ambassador of Kuwait to Seychelles, paid a courtesy call on President Wavel Ramkalawan to discuss various areas of cooperation between the two countries. One of the key topics on the agenda was the possibility of implementing a visa waiver agreement and establishing an air link to facilitate increased travel between Kuwait and Seychelles.

The proposed visa waiver agreement aims to allow visa-free travel for citizens of both countries, promoting easier and more seamless movement between the two nations. Ambassador Alsehaijan expressed optimism that this agreement could be realized within the next two years, which would significantly enhance travel and tourism opportunities.

During the meeting, both sides acknowledged the importance of fostering stronger ties between Kuwait and Seychelles. The establishment of an air link was seen as a crucial step in realizing this goal, as it would facilitate the movement of travellers and promote economic growth in sectors such as trade and tourism.

Seychelles, an archipelago located in the western Indian Ocean, established diplomatic relations with Kuwait on July 11, 1988. Over the years, the cooperation between the two countries has primarily cantered around the Kuwait Fund, which has provided financial assistance to support Seychelles’ development projects. Projects related to fisheries, sewage, and infrastructure have received funding totalling $12 million, with an additional $1.5 million in grants.

In a separate meeting earlier this week, Ambassador Alsehaijan met with Seychelles’ Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sylvestre Radegonde. Discussions focused on the potential signing of a general cooperation agreement, which would establish a framework for collaboration in various mutually beneficial areas. The ambassador highlighted the potential for Kuwaiti investors to contribute to Seychelles’ trade and tourism sectors, suggesting the organization of a visit by representatives from the private sector in both countries, facilitated by the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce.

The field of tourism, a key contributor to the Seychelles economy, was also a topic of discussion during the meetings. Both sides recognized the importance of strengthening cooperation in this sector to further enhance the tourism offerings and attract visitors from Kuwait to Seychelles and vice versa.

As the discussions progress, the governments of Kuwait and Seychelles are hopeful that the proposed visa waiver agreement and air link will pave the way for increased bilateral cooperation and foster closer ties between the two nations.


Source: Seychelles News Agency