African Development Bank Says ‘No Decision’ Yet Over Demands For Probe

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) on Thursday said “no decision” had been taken regarding a US push for an outside probe into its chief, accused by whistleblowers of ethics breaches.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says Washington is dissatisfied with the outcome of an internal inquiry that has exonerated AfDB chief Akinwumi Adesina.

The chair of the AfDB board, Niale Kaba, who is also Ivory Coast’s minister of development, said the panel met on Tuesday “to examine the issue emerging from a whistleblowers’ complaint” against Adesina.

“No decision has been taken,” she said in a statement in French, countering what she said was information “falsely conveyed by certain media.”

On Wednesday, some press reports said the board had accepted Mnuchin’s request that it appoint “an independent outside investigator of high professional standing” to take an in-depth look at the complaint.

In a 15-page document, the whistleblowers earlier this year charged that ethics breaches including personal enrichment and favouritism had spread under Adesina’s tenure.

The AfDB’s ethics panel completely cleared Adesina after conducting its own investigation, saying the accusations “rested on no objective, solid facts.”

Adesina is the first Nigerian to be in charge of the 56-year-old AfDB, one of the

US Declares Hong Kong No Longer Enjoying Autonomy

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared Wednesday that Hong Kong no longer enjoys the autonomy promised by Beijing, stripping the financial hub of its special status under US law.

Hours before Beijing will hold a key vote on a controversial new security law on Hong Kong, Pompeo sent a notice to Congress that China was not living up to obligations from before it regained control of the territory from Britain in 1997.

“I certified to Congress today that Hong Kong does not continue to warrant treatment under United States laws in the same manner as US laws were applied to Hong Kong before July 1997,” Pompeo said in a statement.

“No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground.”

Under a law passed last year by Congress aimed at supporting Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, the administration has to certify that the territory is still autonomous to enjoy its separate status with the US for trading purposes.

Pompeo had initially delayed the report, saying the United States was waiting to see the session of China’s rubber-stamp parliament, the National People’s Congress.

The legislature is expected on Thursday

French Airport Buzzes With Activity As Others Fall Silent

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Most airports have become ghost towns since measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic drastically reduced air traffic, but one in central France is buzzing with activity.

The closure of borders around the world prompted airline companies to seek out a place to park their fleets.

Chateauroux airport, outside the town of the same name in central France, rapidly became a popular destination for these immobile planes, as it inherited large amounts of space from its military history and is cheaper for airlines than airports near Paris.

Grounded planes require extensive maintenance, spurring a flurry of activity at Marcel-Dassault airport despite the lack of passengers.

In total, 40 aeroplanes lie dormant at Chateauroux, belonging to British Airways, Hong Kong Airlines, Air Caraibes, Egyptair, Brazilian company Azul and Chinese company Loong Air, amongst others.

Usually, the airport is a quiet departure point for a handful charter flights mainly to summer holiday destinations.

“We will be welcoming another fifteen planes in the coming days. We have space for a dozen more,” said airport head Didier Lefresne.





Many international airlines have parked their planes here
 AFP / GUILLAUME SOUVANT

The airport was built in 1936 by the engineer and politician Marcel Dassault, known for

US Urges Probe Into Alleged Ethics Breach At African Development Bank

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The US Department of the Treasury has called on the African Development Bank (AfDB) to carry out an independent probe into alleged ethics breaches by its president, Akinwumi Adesina.

In a letter obtained by AFP on Monday, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin expressed “deep reservations” about the outcome of an internal inquiry clearing Adesina, and urged the appointment of an independent outside investigator.

The letter, dated May 22, was sent to the chair of the AfDB’s board, Ivorian Planning and Development Minister Niale Kaba.

Adesina is seeking a second five-year term at the helm of the AfDB, one of the world’s five largest multilateral development banks.

Whistleblowers last month submitted a 15-page report to bank governors detailing alleged embezzlement, preferential treatment for fellow Nigerians in senior appointments and the promotion of people suspected or convicted of fraud and corruption.

The bank’s ethics committee totally exonerated Adesina, saying the complaint “rested on no objective, solid facts”.

Adesina himself has dismissed the allegations as “spurious and unfounded” and “blatantly false.”

A former Nigerian agriculture minister, Adesina, 60, is the only candidate in an election which was set for late May but which has been postponed to August because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Thousands Protest In Hong Kong Over China Security Law Proposal

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Police fired tear gas and water cannon at thousands of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters who gathered Sunday against a controversial security law proposed by China, in the most intense clashes for months.

As the demonstrators and police were facing off in the semi-autonomous financial hub, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi insisted in Beijing that the proposed law must be imposed “without the slightest delay”.

The planned legislation — expected to ban treason, subversion and sedition — comes after Hong Kong was shaken last year by months of massive, often-violent protests, and repeated warnings from Beijing that it would not tolerate dissent.





Campaigners fear the proposed new law could spell the end of Hong Kong’s cherised freedoms
 AFP / Anthony WALLACE

With campaigners warning the proposal could spell the end of the city’s treasured freedoms, thousands gathered and chanted slogans in the busy Causeway Bay and Wan Chai districts, while some masked protesters set up makeshift barricades to stop police vehicles.

“People may be criminalised only for words they say or publish opposing the government,” 25-year-old protester Vincent told AFP.



Pro-democracy protesters and police clashed in Hong Kong after a controversial security law proposal by China sparked outrage


Pro-democracy protesters and police clashed in Hong Kong after a controversial security law proposal by China sparked outrage
 AFP / Anthony

Trump Heads To Golf Course, Says Will Attend Space Launch

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Donald Trump on Saturday underlined his push for a return to normal life in the US by making his first visit to a golf course in two months and confirming he would attend a space launch next week.

Trump took a 35-minute drive from the White House to the Trump National club in Sterling, Virginia, in reportedly his first visit to a golf property since March 8.

It was not confirmed whether the president would play golf, but he was a regular weekend player before the coronavirus lockdown.

The White House on Saturday also confirmed the president would attend the May 27 launch in Florida of two astronauts on a SpaceX mission — the first crewed space flight from US soil in nine years.

“Our destiny, beyond the Earth, is not only a matter of national identity, but a matter of national security,” Trump said in a statement.

Astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley are scheduled to blast off from Kennedy Space Center at 4:33 pm (2033 GMT) on Wednesday for the International Space Station, arriving the next day.

The mission is seen as a crucial step towards ending American dependence on Russian rockets.

Asked about going ahead with the

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