UN approves ‘final’ extension of Sudan peace mission

Members of the Tanzania military peacekeeping mission in Southern Sudan on patrol. (Shutterstock image)
Updated 12 October 2018
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UN approves ‘final’ extension of Sudan peace mission

  • The Security Council extended for six months the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei
  • Abyei is an area of about 10,500 square kilometers contested since Sudan split into two countries in 2011
NEW YOR: The UN Security Council on Thursday approved a final extension of its peacekeeping mission in the disputed Abyei region between Sudan and South Sudan — unless the two sides make progress on border demarcation and other benchmarks.
In its unanimous decision, the Security Council extended for six months the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei but said “this shall be the final such extension unless the parties take the specific measures.”
It repeated a previous warning that the situation in Abyei and along the Sudan-South Sudan border “continues to constitute a serious threat to international peace,” and called on the two countries to show concrete progress on border demarcation and monitoring, as well as other benchmarks.
Abyei is an area of about 4,000 square miles (10,500 square kilometers) contested since Sudan split into two countries in 2011.
There have been tensions between the Arab Misseriya and Ngok Dinka peoples of the region.
Sudan and South Sudan years ago agreed to take steps for setting up an administrative structure for Abyei but the Security Council in May, when it last renewed UNISFA’s mandate, expressed disappointment that “few steps” had been taken in that direction.
In November 2015, shelling in Abyei killed a four-year-old girl and a UNISFA peacekeeper.
Almost the entire UNISFA contingent of several thousand troops comes from Ethiopia.


Duterte skips summit meetings but is in ‘top shape’

Updated 14 November 2018
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Duterte skips summit meetings but is in ‘top shape’

  • An official named four scheduled events that Duterte had not attended on Wednesday, during which the president “took power naps” to catch up on sleep
  • Duterte’s health has been a constant source of speculation since he disappeared from public view for a week last year

SINGAPORE: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte skipped several meetings at an Asia-Pacific summit in Singapore on Wednesday, prompting the 73-year-old’s office to issue a statement scotching speculation that it was due to ill health.
“We assure the nation that his aforementioned absence has nothing to do with his physical health and wellbeing which have been the subject of speculation,” spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
“The president’s constantly punishing work schedule is proof that he is in top physical shape.”
Panelo named four scheduled events that Duterte had not attended on Wednesday, during which the president “took power naps” to catch up on sleep, and said he would also skip a gala dinner with the leaders of nine Southeast Asian nations, US Vice President Mike Pence and several others.
Duterte’s health has been a constant source of speculation since he disappeared from public view for a week last year, and he has said openly that he is tired and would like to step down before the end of his term ends in 2022.
Last month Duterte’s office revealed that he had undergone a colonoscopy and he told reporters that a biopsy had shown he did not have cancer.
The constitution provides for the public to be told of the state of health of an incumbent president, if serious.
If a sitting president dies, is permanently disabled or removed through impeachment, the vice president succeeds to serve the remaining years in a six-year, single term.
Vice President Leni Robredo, a leader of the opposition, was elected separately in 2016. Speculation about Duterte’s health last month prompted concern that the Philippines could be headed for uncertainty given the highly polarized political climate.
Duterte has cited Robredo’s “incompetence” as a reason for his inability to quit as president.
Duterte has a record of skipping summit sessions, though he did not miss any as host when the Philippines held the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) last year.
Panelo said it was “amusing that some quarters are making a big fuss” of Duterte’s absences, noting that he had attended ASEAN meetings with leaders from China, Japan and Russia.
“Last night, the president worked late and had only less than three hours of sleep,” he said. “It is unfortunate that the first event scheduled today was at 8:30a.m.”
Duterte is known for having an unorthodox working schedule that typically starts mid-afternoon and includes cabinet meetings that can go on beyond midnight.