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Taliban name new Afghan govt., interior minister on U.S. sanctions list



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By Gistflash News

Sept 7, 2021

The Taliban named Mullah Hasan Akhund, an associate of the movement’s late founder Mullah Omar, as head of Afghanistan’s new government on Tuesday and Sirajuddin Haqqani, whose organisation is on a U.S. terrorism list, as interior minister.

Haqqani is the son of the founder of the Haqqani network, designated as a terrorist organisation by the United States.

He is one of the FBI’s most wanted men due to his involvement in suicide attacks and ties with Al Qaeda.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, head of the movement’s political office, was appointed as Akhund’s deputy, main Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told a news conference in Kabul.

Baradar’s appointment as Akhund’s deputy, rather than to the top job, came as a surprise to some as he had been responsible for negotiating the U.S. withdrawal and presenting the face of the Taliban to the world.

Baradar, also once a close friend of Mullah Omar, was a senior Taliban commander in charge of attacks on U.S. forces.

He was arrested and imprisoned in Pakistan in 2010, becoming head of the Taliban’s political office in Doha after his release in 2018.

Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, son of Mullah Omar, was named as defence minister.

All the appointments were in an acting capacity, Mujahid said.

It was not clear what role in the government would be played by Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, the Taliban supreme leader.

He has not been seen or heard in public since the collapse of the Western-backed government and the seizure of Kabul by the Islamist militant movement last month, as U.S.-led coalition forces completed their withdrawal after a 20-year war.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Air Force One, as President Joe Biden flew to New York, that there would be no recognition of the Taliban government soon.

The Taliban have repeatedly sought to reassure Afghans and foreign countries they will not return to the brutality of their last reign two decades ago, marked by violent punishments and the barring of women and girls from public life.

Akhund, the new head of government, has been close to supreme leader Akhunzada for 20 years, and is longtime chief of the Taliban’s powerful decision-making body Rehbari Shura, or leadership council.

He was foreign minister and then deputy prime minister when the Taliban were last in power from 1996-2001.

Mujahid, speaking against a backdrop of collapsing public services and economic meltdown, said an acting cabinet had been formed to respond to the Afghan’s people’s primary needs.

He said some ministries remained to be filled pending a hunt for qualified people.

The United Nations said earlier on Tuesday that basic services were unravelling in Afghanistan and food and other aid were about to run out.

More than half a million people have been displaced internally in Afghanistan this year.

An international donor conference is scheduled in Geneva on Sept. 13. Western powers say they are prepared to send humanitarian aid, but that broader economic engagement depends on the shape and actions of the Taliban government.

The appointment of a group of established figures from different elements of the Taliban gave no indication of any concession towards protests that broke out in Kabul earlier in the day, which Taliban gunmen fired in the air to disperse.

Hundreds of men and women shouting slogans such as “Long live the resistance” and “Death to Pakistan” marched in the streets to protest against the Taliban takeover.

Neighbouring Pakistan has deep ties with the Taliban and has been accused of assisting its return to power – charges Islamabad denies.

The Taliban’s rapid advance across Afghanistan last month triggered a scramble to leave by people fearing reprisals. U.S.-led foreign forces evacuated about 124,000 foreigners and at-risk Afghans, but tens of thousands were left behind.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States was in contact with about 100 Americans who were still in Afghanistan.

About 1,000 people, including Americans, have been stuck in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif for days awaiting clearance for charter flights to leave, an organiser told Reuters, blaming the delay on the U.S. State Department.

Blinken, holding talks in Qatar, a key interlocutor with the Taliban, said the problem was one of documents.

“My understanding is that the Taliban have not denied exit to anyone holding a valid document, but they have said those without valid documents, at this point, can’t leave,” he told reporters.

“Because all of these people are grouped together, that’s meant that flights have not been allowed to go.”

On Monday, the Taliban claimed victory in the Panjshir valley, the last province holding out against it.

Pictures on social media showed Taliban members standing in front of the Panjshir governor’s compound after days of fighting with the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRFA), commanded by Panjshiri leader Ahmad Massoud.

Massoud denied that his force, consisting of remnants of the Afghan army as well as local militia fighters, was beaten, and tweeted that “our resistance will continue”.



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UNGA: DRC president seeks actualisation of promises on global warming to Africa



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By Gistflash News

Sept 22, 2021

The President of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo has urged UN  Member States to “materialise all the promises made to Africa in compensation for the sacrifices agreed to protect humanity against global warming.”

Tshilombo made the appeal at the annual gathering of world leaders for the UN General Debate of the 76th session of the General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York.

“There are less than six weeks left before COP26 and nine years before 2030.

“For Africa, the year 2030 will be marked by a drop in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of up to 15 per cent reduction in agricultural yields and a sharp increase in the risk of coastal flooding and in island countries,” the president said.

He noted that in order to cope with the negative impacts of climate change, the African continent will need $30 billion dollars a year to adapt.

This amount should increase to around $50 billion dollars by 2040.

“Africa does not need charity,” but constructive win-win partnerships to make better use of its collective national wealth and improve the living conditions of its people, he stressed.

Speaking on the COVID-19 pandemic, the President said Africa had not folded its arms and does not intend to capitulate to the virus, but stressed all the difficulties the countries are facing.

He welcomed initiatives related to financing of the economies, in particular those of the G20 on the suspension of debt service and the common framework for debt restructuring, pointing at the allocation of $650 billion in special drawing rights (SDRs) from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

For him, the $33 billion dollars allocated to Africa “are insufficient in view of the immensity of its economic stimulus needs.” The African Union supports the objective of the Paris Summit, $100 billion dollars in SDR for the continent.

Regarding the withdrawal of the UN Mission (MONUSCO) in his country, he agreed to the timeline approved by the UN Security Council, with a transition period that expires in 2024.

He asked for the process to be “gradual, responsible and orderly”, saying that he expects “the United Nations and the Security Council to give all the necessary means to MONUSCO and its Rapid Intervention Brigade so that they fulfil their mandates.”

“This is to ensure that the troops deployed have the required capabilities and means, including the necessary training to meet the requirements of the reality on the ground and the asymmetric warfare currently waged by armed groups and Islamist terrorists,” Tshilombo said.

On the elections scheduled for 2023, he said, he hoped to contribute to “the organisation of a free, transparent, inclusive and credible” vote.

Speaking on peace and security, the President said: “the scourge of insecurity caused by the cohorts of terrorists, armed groups, mercenaries and criminals of all stripes is undermining the institutional stability of young democracies and destroying the efforts of many African leaders to develop their countries.”

He argued that the fight against DAESH was won in the Middle East, but in Africa “AQIM and other groups affiliated with DAESH are gaining more ground every day”, in places like Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Burkina Faso.

He said that “Islamist” fundamentalism had reached the east of his country, which is “paying a heavy price in the provinces of Ituri, North Kivu, South Kivu and Maniema.”

“Africa refuses to serve as a base for international terrorism”, he added.

Recently, political crises had erupted in a few Member States, but Tshilombo argued that “these crises cannot obscure the enormous progress made by the majority of African countries in terms of democracy and good governance.

“This is how the Congolese people continue their noble and exhilarating struggle against dictatorship, autocracy and the values ​​that still structure our actions,” he said.

In June, the DRC entered into a programme with the IMF and is currently benefitting from the assistance of the World Bank to carry out major social projects and basic infrastructure.

Tshilombo spoke of “courageous reforms” that should accelerate economic growth to over five per cent a year.

He concluded his speech by addressing the “endless problematic reform of the UN and of the representation of Africa on its Security Council.

“It is a question of the effectiveness of the United Nations and of justice to a continent, an entire section of humanity whose role continues to increase every day,” he said.

The UN correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria quoted Tshilombo as saying that his country supported the proposal that adds two additional non-permanent members for Africa and two seats as permanent members, with the same rights, including veto.



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India’s Zee Entertainment announces merger with Sony Picture Networks



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By Gistflash News

Sept 22, 2021

Indian Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited, on Wednesday announced its merger with Sony Picture Networks India, making it one of the largest entertainment networks in the country.

The board made the announcement in a statement attached to a notice on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Sony and Zee together run about 75 television channels and digital media platforms in India, some of which are beamed globally.

Sony Picture Networks India is a subsidiary of Japan’s Sony Corporation.

Zee said Sony will invest 1.57 billion dollars in the merged entity and will be the majority stakeholder with a 52.93 per cent stake.

Zee Managing Director, Punit Goenka would retain the position in the merged entity, and it would hold 47.07 per cent stake.

The statement said the two companies will combine their linear networks, digital assets, production operations and programme libraries.

It added that Zee’s expertise developed over three decades and Sony’s success in the entertainment, gaming and sports genres would give significant value to the merged entity.

The two firms plan to conduct due diligence and obtain the required regulatory approvals for the merger over the next three months.

The new entity is expected to be publicly listed in India.



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UN Chief to appoint special envoy for future generations, create UN Youth Office



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By Gistflash News

Sept 21, 2021

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday that he would appoint a special envoy for future generations and set up UN Youth Office.

Guterres said that the young people across the world needed more than support.

“We expect 10.9 billion people to be born by century’s end. We need their talents, ideas and energies, young people need more than support.

“They need a seat at the table. I will appoint a Special Envoy for Future Generations and create the United Nations Youth Office,’’ Guterres said.

He disclosed this during his address at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly in the united States on Tuesday.



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