Funeral held for Norwegian student slain in Morocco

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Moroccans living in the High Atlas mountains show their solidarity with Louisa Vesterager Jespersen and Maren Ueland who were killed by extremists last month. (Reuters)
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Students and staff of the University of Southeastern Norway observe two minutes silence for Maren Ueland and Louisa Vesterager Jespersen. (AFP)
Updated 21 January 2019
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Funeral held for Norwegian student slain in Morocco

  • Moroccan ambassador Lamia Radi joined the mourners for 28-year-old Maren Ueland
  • Moroccan authorities have said that Ueland was killed together with 24-year-old Louisa Vesterager Jespersen of Denmark in a terrorist act

OSLO: The Moroccan ambassador attended the funeral Monday of the Norwegian woman hiker murdered last December in Morocco along with her Danish friend, reading messages of sympathy from her country’s citizens.
Ambassador Lamia Radi joined the mourners for 28-year-old Maren Ueland, including Norway’s health minister and several dozen students from the University of Southeastern Norway, where the two women studied.
The church service took place in the southeast town of Time.
During the service, Radi denounced the “barbary” and “ignominy” of the killings, and read aloud messages from Moroccan people expressing their sadness.
“Morocco wanted to be present today to express first its solidarity, to share the sorrow of the family,” she told Norway’s TV2 ahead of the ceremony.
“At the same time, (we want) to make it very clear that we strongly condemn the horrible murders of those innocent girls,” she said.
Moroccan authorities have said that Ueland was killed together with 24-year-old Louisa Vesterager Jespersen of Denmark in a “terrorist act.”
They were attacked as they camped overnight Dec 16-17 at an isolated hiking spot in the High Atlas mountains. Their bodies were found the following day, beheaded.
Moroccan authorities have arrested a total of 22 people in connection with the murders.
They include four main suspects and a Spanish-Swiss man who had links to some of the suspects and who subscribed to “extremist ideology,” Moroccan officials say.
The main suspects belonged to a cell inspired by Daesh group ideology, but none of the four had contact with Daesh members in Syria or Iraq, Morocco’s counter-terror chief Abdelhak Khiam told AFP.
Jespersen’s funeral was held on January 12 in Denmark.


Aung San Suu Kyi’s bid to reform charter sparks rival protests in Myanmar

Updated 29 min 47 sec ago
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Aung San Suu Kyi’s bid to reform charter sparks rival protests in Myanmar

  • Aung San Suu Kyi’s ruling National League for Democracy party is pushing for change despite objections from military lawmakers
  • Military lawmakers hold a veto over amendments

YANGON: Hundreds of people demonstrated in Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, on Wednesday in support of proposed constitutional amendments that would reduce the power of the military.
A separate protest against the reforms was planned for later in the day.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party is pushing for change despite objections from military lawmakers, who hold a veto over amendments.
The demonstrators, led by activists not aligned to the party, wore red headbands printed with the words “Amend the 2008 Constitution.”
“The current government is trying to move forward, but they can’t because of the 2008 constitution,” said protest organizer Pyae Phyo Zaw, who also called for elected leaders to be given oversight of the security forces.
After decades of military rule, Nobel laureate Suu Kyi took the reins in 2016 after an electoral landslide, but is forced to share power with the generals.
Under the constitution drafted by the former junta, the military chief nominates a quarter of lawmakers and the ministers of defense, home affairs and border affairs.
It also blocks Suu Kyi from becoming president, with a prohibition on presidential candidates with foreign spouses or children. Suu Kyi had two sons with her late husband, Michael Aris, a British academic.
A flyer for Wednesday’s separate counter protest called on “those who love their race and religion” to turn out to help preserve that clause.
A nationalist movement led by Buddhist monks is critical of Suu Kyi and casts the military as protector of the Buddhist-majority nation.
A report containing thousands of amendments proposed by various political parties was submitted on Monday for debate at the parliament in the capital, Naypyitaw, but has not been made public.
Nay Phone Latt, an NLD lawmaker in Yangon’s regional parliament, told Reuters one of the party’s key proposals was to set a timeline for the gradual reduction of military seats in parliament, beginning with a move from 25 percent to 15 percent in 2021.
The NLD holds most seats in parliament, but the military lawmakers mean it lacks the 75 percent majority needed to amend the constitution.
“We need military men’s support, so it depends on the stance of the military,” Nay Phone Latt said. “But we hope that it can be accepted by the military as it would reduce bit by bit over time.”
Kyaw Khine Win, another demonstrator, said he rallied in favor of amending the charter because it was written to bar Suu Kyi from leading the country and imposed “forcefully.”
“We want a country which is commanded by the people,” he said.