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‘We’ll restore civilian rule within 3 years’ — Niger junta tells ECOWAS

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Abdourahmane Tiani, Niger Republic’s self-declared head of state, says the country will return to civilian rule within three years.

Tiani spoke late Saturday night in a televised address.

The coup leader gave no details on the plan, saying only that the principles for the transition would be decided within 30 days at a dialogue to be hosted by the junta.

“Our ambition is not to confiscate power. Transition period will not exceed three years; meanwhile, political parties are urged to submit their vision for the transition within 30 days,” Tiani said.

In his 12-minute speech, the former head of the country’s presidency guards said ECOWAS was “getting ready to attack Niger by setting up an occupying army in collaboration with a foreign army”.

Tiani denounced what he called “illegal” and “inhuman” sanctions imposed by the regional bloc.

He said the country is not looking for war but is ready to defend itself if compelled to.

“There’s availability for any dialogue, provided that it takes into account the aspirations of the people of Niger. However, any intervention will open a Pandora’s Box and will not be the walk in the park some people seem to think,” he said.

While Niger’s coup leaders had previously rebuffed the delegation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), on Saturday, Ali Lamine Zeine, the country’s prime minister, received Abdulsalami Abubakar, former Nigerian head of state; Muhammad Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto; and Omar Touray, ECOWAS commission president.

After the meeting, the delegation met with toppled President Mohamed Bazoum, who has been held hostage since the July 26 military takeover.

“We met Bazoum, we heard from him what was done to him. He told us about the problems he’s facing. We’ll take it to the leaders who sent us here,” Abdulsalami had said.

“Without doubt, the meeting has opened discussions to lead to a way to resolve this crisis.”

While ECOWAS defence chiefs said they had finalised plans to intervene in Niger, the security council maintained that the bloc still favours diplomacy.

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EU court fines Hungary €200m for flouting asylum law

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The European Union’s (EU) top court has fined Hungary €200 million over the country’s failure to comply with the union’s asylum policies.

According to the EU law, everyone fleeing persecution in their home countries has the right to ask for international protection, and cannot be evicted if there is a serious risk of death or torture.

In a statement on Thursday, the court said Hungary “deliberately” avoided applying EU policy and its failure “constitutes a serious infringement of EU law”.

The court added that the country violated EU laws by forcing asylum seekers to travel to Belgrade or Kyiv to apply for a travel permit to enter Hungary.

The court also issued a penalty of €1 million daily until Hungary changes its policy.

Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s prime minister, on Thursday, in a post on X, described the decision as “outrageous and unacceptable”.

“The EU Court of Justice’ decision to fine Hungary with 200M euros plus 1M euros daily for defending the borders of the European Union is outrageous and unacceptable,” the prime minister said.

“It seems that illegal migrants are more important to the Brussels bureaucrats than their own European citizens.”

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Missing plane carrying Malawi’s VP found with no survivors

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The wreck of a plane carrying Saulos Chilima, Malawi’s vice-president, has been found with no survivors.

President Lazarus Chakwera made the grim announcement in a press briefing on Tuesday.

The aircraft which had the 51-year-old vice-president and nine others aboard went missing after it failed to land at the Mzuzu International Airport in Lilongwe, the capital.

Chilima was on his way to represent the government at the burial of Ralph Kasambara, former minister, who died four days ago.

Shanil Dzimbiri, former first lady, was also on the flight.

The plane, which flew in bad weather, was turned back from landing at the airport because of poor visibility.

After receiving the news of the missing plane on Monday, Chakwera cancelled a trip to the Bahamas and ordered national and local authorities to “conduct an immediate search and rescue operation to locate the whereabouts of the aircraft”.

“The search and rescue operation I ordered to find the missing plane that carried our vice president and nine others has been completed,” the president said while providing an update.

“The plane has been found. I am deeply saddened and sorry to inform you that it has turned out to be a terrible tragedy.”

The president said the rescue team found the aircraft completely destroyed.

Chilima had been vice-president of Malawi since 2014.

Despite coming from two different political parties, the vice-president and president teamed up to form an alliance during the 2020 elections.

The vice-president left behind a wife and two children.

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Woman killed and swallowed whole by 16-foot python in Indonesia

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A woman has been found dead inside the belly of a snake after it swallowed her whole in central Indonesia, a local official said Saturday.

The husband of 45-year-old Farida and residents of Kalempang village in South Sulawesi province discovered her on Friday inside the reticulated python, which measured around five metres (16 feet).

The mother-of-four had gone missing Thursday night and failed to return home, forcing a search effort, village head Suardi Rosi told AFP.

Her husband “found her belongings… which made him suspicious. The villagers then searched the area. They soon spotted a python with a large belly,” said Suardi.

“They agreed to cut open the python’s stomach. As soon as they did, Farida’s head was immediately visible.”

Farida was found fully clothed inside the snake.

Such incidents are considered extremely rare but several people have died in Indonesia in recent years after being swallowed whole by pythons.

Last year, residents in Southeast Sulawesi’s Tinanggea district killed an eight-metre python, which was found strangling and eating one of the farmers in a village.

In 2018, a 54-year-old woman was found dead inside a seven-metre python in Southeast Sulawesi’s Muna town.

And the year before, a farmer in West Sulawesi went missing before being found eaten alive by a four-metre python at a palm oil plantation.

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Bodex F. Hungbo, SPMIIM is a multiple award-winning Nigerian Digital Media Practitioner, Digital Strategist, PR consultant, Brand and Event Expert, Tv Presenter, Tier-A Blogger/Influencer, and a top cobbler in Nigeria.

She has widespread experiences across different professions and skills, which includes experiences in; Marketing, Media, Broadcasting, Brand and Event Management, Administration and Management with prior stints at MTN, NAPIMS-NNPC, GLOBAL FLEET OIL AND GAS, LTV, Silverbird and a host of others

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