Macron heads to Moscow on high-risk diplomatic mission
French President Emmanuel Macron flies to Moscow today in a diplomatic move seeking commitments from Russian President Vladimir Putin to tone down tensions with Ukraine. Yesterday, Macron phoned US President Joe Biden to coordinate efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis, the latest in a frenetic series of talks with Western allies, Putin and the Ukrainian leader over the past week. He will follow up on Tuesday with a visit to Kyiv. In a newspaper interview over the weekend, he said it was legitimate for Russia to raise security concerns. Russia has massed some 100,000 troops near Ukraine and demanded NATO and US security guarantees, including that NATO never admits Ukraine as a member. France 24 quotes sources close to Macron saying one aim of his visit was to buy time and freeze the situation for several months, at least until a “Super April” of elections in Europe – in Hungary, Slovenia and, crucially for Macron, in France.
Pope asks for EU agreement on migration
The Pope has urged a re-think of migration policy and asked the European Union to “come to an agreement” to avoid that the burden falls only “on some countries such as Italy and Spain”. Answering Fabio Fazio’s questions in Rai3 episode of Che Tempo Che Fa, the Pontiff also touched on the protection of the environment, caring for others, parent-children relationships and children’s sufferings. “Today, the greatest evil of the Church is spiritual worldliness, which makes clericalism grow. This is an ugly thing, a perversion of the Church, which leads to ideologically-rigid positions which takes the place of the Gospel. We must return to the centre – there is the future of the Church,” he said.
Ottawa mayor declares state of emergency
The ongoing truckers’ protest in the Canadian capital is “out of control,” Ottawa mayor Jim Watson said Sunday, announcing a state of emergency as the city centre remained blocked by opponents of anti-COVID measures. The protesters, have parked their big rigs on city streets and put up tents and temporary shacks – paralysing the capital to the consternation of officials and the mounting frustration of many residents. The mayor also highlighted the need for support from other jurisdictions and levels of government as he described the situation as “completely out of control”.
Tunisia judges turn against president
Tunisia’s top judges have turned against President Kais Saied, saying they would ignore his latest order to dissolving the country’s main legal body, the Supreme Judicial Council. They called the move illegal. The president accuses the judges of bias and corruption.
African Union condemns ‘wave’ of coups
The African Union has condemned a recent “wave” of military coups that has seen an unprecedented number of member states suspended from the bloc. Less than two weeks before the summit began Saturday, Burkina Faso became the fourth country to be suspended by the AU after disgruntled soldiers toppled President Roch Marc Christian Kabore. Guinea, Mali and Sudan are also currently suspended.
New US protests as police kill Afro-American
Over a thousand people have taken to the streets of Minneapolis to protest the death of Amir Locke, the 22-year-old Afro-American killed in cold blood by the police while he was asleep on a sofa during a house search. The protest was noisy but peaceful, with slogans like “no justice, no peace” and “Black lives matter”. There were also calls for the resignation of the chief of police.
Run-off needed in Costa Rica presidential election
The first official results of the Costa Rica presidential election show the need for a run-off to see who will succeed the outgoing Carlos Alvarado. Former president of the republic José María Figueres (1994-1998) of the Liberación Nacional party tops the 25 candidates, with 28.32%. Voters were also called upon to elect the 57 members of the unicameral Parliament for the period 2022-2026. Voter turnout was low: only 57.68%.
Peng Shuai in surprise interview with L’Equipe
Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai has resurfaced and, in an interview with L’Equipe from a hotel room in Beijing, denied she had made the allegations of sexual abuse against former Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli. Escorted by Wang Kan, head of the Chinese Olympic Committee, Peng showed gratitude to those who have expressed concern for her well-being in the past three months, even though she said, “I do not understand why”.
Football: Senegal win Africa Cup of Nations
Senegal have won the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time as Liverpool forward Sadio Mane netted the winning spot-kick to beat Egypt 4-2 on penalties, after the final ended goalless following extra time. The match was billed as a battle between Mane and fellow Liverpool forward and Egypt captain Mohamed Salah. Egypt missed out on a record-extending eighth continental crowns that would also have been a first for Salah. Egypt are hoping to avenge their defeat at the hands of Senegal when the countries meet again in a decisive two-legged World Cup play-off next month.