African countries unite at UN against Trump remarks

Trump’s comments were allegedly made on Thursday at a White House meeting with lawmakers on immigration reform. (AP)
Updated 13 January 2018
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African countries unite at UN against Trump remarks

UNITED NATIONS: All African countries at the United Nations unanimously demanded Friday that US President Donald Trump retract and apologize for his reported denunciation of immigration from “****hole” nations.
The African Group of UN ambassadors is “extremely appalled at, and strongly condemns the outrageous, racist and xenophobic remarks by the president of the United States of America as widely reported by the media,” a statement said.
After an emergency session to weigh Trump’s remarks, the group said it was “concerned at the continuing and growing trend from the US administration toward Africa and people of African descent to denigrate the continent and people of color.”
While demanding a “retraction and an apology” from Trump, the 54 countries also thanked those Americans “from all walks of life who have condemned the remarks.”
The resolution was passed unanimously after four hours of discussions.
“For once, we are all on the same page,” an ambassador told AFP.
The ambassadors did not consult their governments before issuing the resolution, he said, adding that some could now expect to receive phone calls from their capitals because of the text’s strong tone.
Trump’s comments were allegedly made on Thursday at a White House meeting with lawmakers on immigration reform.
After lawmakers raised the issue of protections for immigrants from African nations, Haiti and El Salvador, the president reportedly demanded to know why the United States should accept immigrants from “shithole countries,” rather than — for instance — wealthy and overwhelmingly white Norway.
He tweeted a convoluted denial Friday in an attempt to quell outrage both at home and abroad.
Earlier, the 55-nation African Union condemned the remarks, while Botswana and Senegal hauled in the US ambassador to complain.
The comment “truly flies in the face of accepted behavior and practice,” said Ebba Kalondo, spokeswoman for AU chief Moussa Faki.
Western Sahara is not recognized as a sovereign state by the UN and thus not included in its African Group.
It is, however, part of the African Union, which Morocco left in 1984 over the body’s recognition of the disputed territory’s independence, before rejoining it last year.
 


Malaysia detains Najib ex-aide in first arrest over 1MDB scandal

Updated 32 sec ago
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Malaysia detains Najib ex-aide in first arrest over 1MDB scandal

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian authorities have made the first arrest in a renewed probe into the multibillion-dollar scandal at state fund 1MDB, remanding a former aide of ousted prime minister Najib Razak to assist in investigations, Bernama news reported on Monday.
Malaysia’s new government led by the 92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad reopened investigations into billions of dollars allegedly siphoned out of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) after Najib’s administration lost a general election in May, fueled by anger over the scandal and rising living costs.
On Monday, a magistrate’s court granted an application by anti-graft officials to remand Najib’s former aide for a week to assist in their investigations into 1MDB, according to a report by national newswire Bernama.
The 42-year-old aide, described in the report as having worked for Najib since 2009, was arrested on Sunday night after giving a statement at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) headquarters in the administrative capital of Putrajaya.
Earlier this month, Malaysia’s new attorney general said his office was studying possible criminal and civil action in the 1MDB case, after receiving investigation papers on the state fund from the anti-graft agency.
Former prime minister Najib, who founded 1MDB, is the subject of a money laundering probe. Najib has consistently denied wrongdoing.
Najib, in some of his most extensive comments yet on the 1MDB scandal, told Reuters last week that he did not know if hundreds of millions of dollars that moved through his personal account was from 1MDB, and if money from the fund was eventually laundered to acquire assets globally, including yachts, paintings, gems and prime real estate.
Transactions involving 1MDB are being investigated in half a dozen countries, including the United States, where it has become the biggest case pursued by the Department of Justice under its anti-kleptocracy program.
The US Department of Justice has alleged in lawsuits that more than $4.5 billion from 1MDB was laundered through a complex web of transactions and shell companies, of which $681 million ended in Najib’s bank account. Najib says the money in his account was donations from Saudi Arabia, most of which he returned.
According to the US justice department, assets purchased using 1MDB money include a Picasso painting, luxury real estate in South California and New York, shares in a Hollywood production company and a $265 million yacht, and more than $200 million worth of jewelry — including a 22-carat pink diamond pendant and necklace.