French foreign minister quits ‘ailing Socialists’

French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced on March 8, 2018 that he is leaving the French socialist party. (AFP / LUDOVIC MARIN)
Updated 09 March 2018
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French foreign minister quits ‘ailing Socialists’

PARIS: France’s ailing Socialist Party lost another heavyweight on Thursday after Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced he was quitting the party which was chased from power last year by centrist President Emmanuel Macron.
Le Drian’s membership of the party had come into question in recent days.
A number of senior Socialists had called on the 70-year-old political veteran to choose between the opposition benches and the government.
Le Drian, who served as defense minister under former Socialist President Francois Hollande before switching his loyalties to Macron, told Cnews television he had heard their calls.
“I am leaving the Socialist Party with a great deal of emotion, as a member for 44 years, and also with a lot of pride, having been involved in the campaigns of (former president) Francois Mitterrand, (former premier) Lionel Jospin and Francois Hollande with whom I am still close friends,” he said.
Le Drian’s departure is another blow to one of France’s oldest parties which voters deserted en masse last year after five years of lacklustre rule by the unpopular Hollande.
Le Drian faulted the party for what he called a “sectarian, sterile” approach in failing to back Macron for president over the Socialists’ own leftist candidate, contrasting their stance with that of Germany’s Social Democrats who have agreed to form another coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives.
He however ruled out joining Macron’s Republic on the Move (LREM) party, which has attracted a slew of defectors from both the Socialists and right-wing Republicans.
His announcement came a day after four candidates for the leadership of the Socialists faced off in a TV debate.


US airstrike kills 18 Al-Shabab after US attacked in Somalia

Updated 22 September 2018
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US airstrike kills 18 Al-Shabab after US attacked in Somalia

  • No US or Somali forces were killed or injured in the attack
  • The confrontation occurred about 50 kilometers (31 miles) northwest of the port city of Kismayo

JOHANNESBURG: A US military airstrike has killed 18 Al-Shabab extremists after US and local forces on the ground came under attack in southern Somalia, the US Africa Command said Saturday.
No US or Somali forces were killed or injured in the attack, an AFRICOM spokesman, Nate Herring, told The Associated Press. The airstrike was carried out Friday in self-defense after extremists were “observed maneuvering on a combined patrol,” while the US also responded with “indirect fire,” the spokesman said.
The confrontation occurred about 50 kilometers (31 miles) northwest of the port city of Kismayo, the US Africa Command statement said. Two other Al-Shabab extremists were killed by Somali forces “with small arms fire during the engagement,” it said.
The operation was Somali-led, the AFRICOM spokesman said. There was no immediate comment from Somali authorities.
The US has carried out more than 20 airstrikes this year against the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab, the deadliest Islamic extremist group in sub-Saharan Africa.
US military involvement in Somalia has grown since President Donald Trump early in his term approved expanded operations against Al-Shabab. Dozens of drone strikes followed. Late last year the military also carried out its first airstrike against a small presence of fighters linked to the Islamic State in northern Somalia.
Since the expanded operations, two US military personnel have been killed in Somalia.
A service member was killed in May 2017 during an operation about 40 miles (64 kilometers) west of Mogadishu. And in June, one US special operations soldier was killed and four US service members wounded in an “enemy attack” as troops with Somali and Kenyan forces came under mortar and small-arms fire in Jubaland.
The US currently has about 500 military personnel in the Horn of Africa nation.
Al-Shabab, which seeks to establish an Islamic state in Somalia, was pushed out of Mogadishu in recent years but continues to control rural areas in the south and central regions. Its fighters continue to attack the bases of a multinational African Union force that remains largely responsible for security as Somalia’s fragile central government tries to recover from decades of chaos.
In the next few years Somali forces are expected to take over responsibility for the country’s security as the AU force withdraws. Concerns about their readiness remain high, and the UN Security Council recently voted to delay the handover’s target date to December 2021.