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TB Joshua Awarded Paraguay’s Highest Honour

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The National Parliament of Paraguay has concurred to grant the “Comuneros” National Order of Merit to controversial Nigerian Prophet TB Joshua.

This was decided on August 9th 2017, at the sitting of the Parliament in Asuncion, according to 970 AM Radio journalist, Nativida Romero.

Member of Parliament Bernardo Villalba (ANR) proposed that the spiritual leader, Temitope Balogun Joshua, receive the highest distinction the Parliament can bestow. The legislator’s proposal was fully approved.

Avanza País MP, Rocío Casco, did however oppose it on grounds that the distinction had previously only been awarded to citizens of the country. For his part, the legislator Villalba maintained his position.

Villalba put forward his arguments, in full session, where he expressed that Joshua, compelled to visit Paraguay, “will bring peace and blessings to the population.”

“I do not just want to welcome him to our country. We pray that his stay be as fruitful as possible and that it will be a blessing to our nation. For the first time ever, I propose the National Order to be awarded to a personality and I am proposing that he be awarded this distinction by the Members of Parliament,” said Villalba.

Villalba solicited the preacher be presented the national honour at the Defensores del Chaco Stadium, where he will host the crusade.

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Raila Odinga inauguration coverage shut down

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-Kenyan authorities shut down TV stations to prevent live coverage of a swearing-in event by opposition leader Raila Odinga, who boycotted last year’s disputed presidential election.

He declared himself the “people’s president” in front of thousands of his supporters in the capital, Nairobi.The result of the August general election was annulled following allegations of irregularities.Uhuru Kenyatta won a re-run in October, but Mr Odinga did not take part.

President Kenyatta was sworn in for a second term last November.He warned the media not to cover Tuesday’s event and the attorney general said holding such a ceremony amounted to treason.

However, the main TV stations streamed the event on their websites and on YouTube and Facebook.

Holding a bible in his right hand at a park in Nairobi, Mr Odinga declared that he was answering to a “high[er] calling to assume the office of the people’s president of the Republic of Kenya”.

People had had enough of election rigging and the event was a step towards establishing a proper democracy in the East African state, Mr Odinga told a cheering crowd.His deputy, Kalonzo Musyoka was not as the event. Mr Odinga said he would be sworn in at a later date.

Speaking earlier to Kenyan broadcaster KTN, Mr Odinga said the media ban “confirms we have descended to the level of Uganda”, which stopped media coverage during elections in 2016.

His “swearing-in” was intended to “show the world that what we are doing is legal, constitutional and not something you can remotely describe as a coup”, he added

Three privately owned television stations – NTV, KTN and Citizen TV – went off air from around 09:10 (06:10 GMT), BBC Monitoring reports.

Citizen TV told the BBC the government authorities had forced them off the air over plans to cover the gathering.

KTN viewers watched their screens fade to black as the news presenter read a statement confirming that the national communications authority was switching off transmission.

Switching off the broadcasting signals of media organisations is unusual in Kenya, the BBC’s Anne Soy reports from Nairobi.

Threats have been made in the past and some media groups have been raided but none have had their signal deliberately disrupted, our correspondent says.

Kenyan journalists have denounced the move as outrageous, in a statement calling for “respect of the constitution” and an end to the “unprecedented intimidation of journalists”.

There was tension in Kenya on Tuesday as some schools closed in the Kenyan capital because of the event, and people did not know what to expect, our correspondent says.Police initially cordoned off the park, but then withdrew, she adds.

One of them, Larry Oyugi, said there was nothing illegal about Tuesday’s event: “We have warned the police enough and we are also going as per the constitution. The constitution of Kenya, article one, allows all Kenyans to exercise their power directly.

“This is why we are here to exercise our powers by gathering here and also article 37 allows peaceful assembly. We are citizens of this country, we are allowed to peacefully assemble here and elect our president as per the constitution.”

Mr Kenyatta was officially re-elected with 98% of the vote on 26 October but just under 39% of voters turned out. He was inaugurated in November.

His victory is not recognised by Mr Odinga, who argues he was elected by a small section of the country.

Mr Kenyatta also won the original election on 8 August but that result was annulled by the Supreme Court, which described it as “neither transparent nor verifiable”.

When the repeat vote was called, Mr Odinga urged his supporters to shun it because he said no reforms had been made to the electoral commission.

Correspondents say the election dispute has left Kenya deeply divided. About 50 people are reported to have been killed in violence since the August ballot.

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Irish government set to hold referendum on Abortion

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-The Irish government has agreed to hold a referendum at the end of May on whether to reform the country’s near-total ban on abortion.

The vote will decide whether to repeal a constitutional amendment that effectively bans terminations.Currently abortion is only when a woman’s life is at risk, but not in cases of rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormality.Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has said that he will campaign for reform.

The ballot will not be on specific terms of any new law, but on whether to retain or repeal article 40.3.3 of the constitution, known as the Eighth Amendment.

The amendment, which was approved by a 1983 referendum, “acknowledges the right to life of the unborn” – meaning the life of the woman and her unborn child are seen as equal.

Before the vote, the country’s health minister will draft legislation proposing unrestricted abortion access be made available to women up to 12 weeks, and in exceptional circumstances after.An exact date for the referendum will be decided after it is debated in the Irish parliament.

Campaigners have long called for the laws to be changed, and last year a special cross-party parliamentary committee and citizens assembly both recommended repealing the amendment.

“I know it is a very personal and private issue and for most of us it is not a black-and-white issue, it is one that is grey – the balance between the rights of a pregnant woman and the foetus or unborn.”

Mr Varadkar, the country’s former health minister, acknowledged that thousands of women in the country travelled every year for terminations or took pills ordered online at home.

He said the current law meant that abortions in Ireland were “unsafe, unregulated and illegal”.”These journeys do not have to happen, and that can change, and that’s now in our hands,” he said.

In 2016, 3,265 women and girls gave Republic of Ireland addresses when accessing abortion services at clinics in England and Wales, according to UK Department of Health statistics.

 

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China dismisses allegation of spying at African Union

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-China has dismissed reports it bugged the African Union (AU) headquarters as “preposterous”.

Kuang Weilin, the Chinese ambassador to the AU, told reporters in Ethiopia the “absurd” claim in France’s Le Monde was “very difficult to understand”.

He spoke out three days after the newspaper published an article claiming data from the Chinese-built AU building was being copied to Shanghai.

The article said the discovery resulted in all the AU servers being switched.

Le Monde spoke to a number of anonymous sources, who claimed the alleged transfer was taking place late at night [link in French], and was only spotted in January 2017 due to the spike in activity between midnight and 02:00, despite no-one being in the building.

It was suggested the alleged data transfer had been taking place since 2012, when the building, in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, was opened.

Officials also brought in security experts from Algeria to sweep the entire headquarters for potential bugs, the newspaper said, leading to the discovery of microphones in desks.

But Mr Kuang – who hailed the headquarters as a “monument” to his country’s relationship with the continent – said it was entirely untrue.

“I really question its intention,” he told reporters on Monday. “I think it will undermine and send a very negative message to people. I think it is not good for the image of the newspaper itself.”Certainly, it will create problems for China-Africa relations.”

 

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