After ‘nap-gate’, Duterte skips APEC summit dinner

Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte attends the retreat session of the APEC Summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea November 18, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 18 November 2018
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After ‘nap-gate’, Duterte skips APEC summit dinner

  • In Port Moresby, Duterte met with Filipinos on Friday night where he sought to explain his absence from summit meetings

PORT MORESBY: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte passed on a gala dinner at a regional summit in Papua New Guinea, days after skipping key meetings in another gathering of world leaders for a “power nap.”
Duterte, who has a well-known disdain for stiff diplomatic gatherings, was a no-show Saturday night, sending his trade minister instead to pose with heads of state donning bright yellow and red Papua New Guinean shirts.
His office had initially announced that the mercurial leader was cutting short his trip to Port Moresby even before the main meetings began but on Sunday he did show up at the convention center.
“This after I loudly and naggingly insisted he stay just one day. ONE DAY, I stressed,” Philippine foreign minister Teodoro Locsin tweeted on Sunday.
The absence of the 73-year-old Duterte at diplomatic gatherings has sparked criticism and speculation of ill health, which his spokesman denied, saying the president merely lacked sleep.
Duterte has said previously that he suffers from daily migraines and ailments including Buerger’s disease, an illness that affects the veins and the arteries of the limbs, and is usually due to smoking.
On Wednesday, the Philippine leader missed four of the 11 meetings he was slated to attend and a gala dinner in Singapore, which hosted a meeting of Southeast Asian leaders.
Observers have compared him unfavorably with Malaysia’s 93-year-old Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who has consistently attended summit meetings saying it was his “duty” to do so.
Commenting on his absence, Duterte said on Thursday: “What’s wrong with my nap?“
Asked about the Papua New Guinea dinner, a Philippine official told AFP Duterte “feels constrained by formalities and finds them unproductive and a slight waste of time.”
After hosting a regional meeting in the Philippines last year, an exhausted Duterte joked about canceling another Manila summit saying, “It’s true. It’s all the same. Nothing changes.”
In Port Moresby, Duterte met with Filipinos on Friday night where he sought to explain his absence from summit meetings.
He cited an invitation from Australia to have an “informal breakfast” in Singapore.
“I told my soldiers why would I attend when first of all, I do not eat breakfast. Second, it was informal,” Duterte said.
“What will they feed us there, kangaroo?“


Morocco tourist murder trial to open on May 2

Updated 13 min 9 sec ago
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Morocco tourist murder trial to open on May 2

  • The bodies of the victims were found on High Atlas mountains
  • Official said four of the prosecuted appeared in videos pledging allegiance to Daesh

RABAT: Suspected extremist sympathizers will face trial on May 2 for the murder of two Scandinavian women in Morocco, a defense lawyer told AFP on Tuesday.
The killing of Danish student Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, and 28-year-old Norwegian Maren Ueland in December was deemed a “terrorist” act by Moroccan authorities.
Twenty-four defendants will face trial — for charges including promoting terrorism, forming a terrorist cell or causing premeditated harm to persons — in Sale, a city neighboring the capital Rabat, according to defense lawyer Saad Sahli.
A Spanish-Swiss man who authorities allege subscribed to “extremist ideology” stands accused of helping the four main suspects in the murder, charges he denies.
The decapitated bodies of the two victims were found in the High Atlas mountains, where they had been hiking in an area popular with tourists.
A video circulated on social media allegedly showed the murder of one of the women, while Rabat’s prosecutor has said the four main suspects appeared in separate footage pledging allegiance to the Daesh group.
The accused however had no contact with the extremist group in conflict zones, according to Morocco’s anti-terror chief.
The North African country relies heavily on tourism.
Foreign visitors were previously targeted in a 2011 bomb blast in Marrakesh which killed 17 people.
An attack in 2003 on the financial capital Casablanca left 33 people dead.