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Ethiopian Airlines reopens Moscow route after 27 years

Ethiopian Airlines on Monday resumed flights to Moscow after a gap of 27 years stretching back to the demise of the Soviet Union, which saw relations with Moscow dive. «Moscow is a vital addition to our European service, a very important region. It's g
Seychelles News Agency

Ethiopian Airlines reopens Moscow route after 27 years

Ethiopian Airlines on Monday resumed flights to Moscow after a gap of 27 years stretching back to the demise of the Soviet Union, which saw relations with Moscow dive. «Moscow is a vital addition to our European service, a very important region. It's going to take our total number of weekly flights to European destinations to reach 54 passenger flights a week,» said the carrier's executive director Tewolde Gebremariam as the first flight took off from Addis Ababa. Russian ambassador to Ethiopia Vsevolod I. Tkachenko welcomed the move. «I’m happy Ethiopian Airlines made a bold decision to re-start such flights because it will not only provide passenger flow, but also connect Russians with Ethiopian Airlines air services' global network» he told AFP. The carrier will fly three times a week to the Russian capital. Ethiopian Airlines which is 100 percent state-owned, is Africa's largest carrier. Addis Ababa airport has recently undergone a large-scale revamp as a major continental aviation hub in a country run until 1991 by a communist military junta -- a regime which received substantial Soviet support in the 1970s and 80s. Earlier this year saw a wing of a new $345 million passenger terminal at the airport, which is one of Africa's busiest. After the fall of the Soviet Union, ties between the two nations slid. But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited Ethiopia last March and cooperation in several sectors, nuclear power included, have been discussed. © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles presses case for small island states at global environmental meeting

Seychelles has urged countries to work together to prevent and mitigate any adverse impacts against the developmental aspirations and survival of small islands states at the UN conference on climate change (COP24). The statement was made by the Seychelles
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles presses case for small island states at global environmental meeting

Seychelles has urged countries to work together to prevent and mitigate any adverse impacts against the developmental aspirations and survival of small islands states at the UN conference on climate change (COP24). The statement was made by the Seychelles’ Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, Wallace Cosgrow, at the high-level segment of the conference which was held from December 2-15 in Katowice, Poland. A press release from the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change said that after these two weeks of intense negotiations, “parties had reached a decision on most parts of the Paris Agreement Rulebook, paving the way for the pioneering treaty to come into force in 2020 as planned.” According to the BBC news service, “The summit accord, reached by 196 states, outlines plans for a common rulebook for all countries - regulations that will govern the nuts and bolts of how countries cut carbon, provide finance to poorer nations and ensure that everyone is doing what they say they are doing.” The principal secretary for climate change, Wills Agricole, who attended the conference said, “The outcome reflects the efforts Seychelles together with the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS) made to find a balance, and though Seychelles and all the members of AOSIS are not fully satisfied in the outcome, however, we recognise compromises needed to be made to move forward.” Scheduled to end December 14, the conference was prolonged for an additional day to enable negotiators to finally come up with the 'Katowice Climate Change Deal. The delay was caused by a dispute on a report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on the impacts of a temperature rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius. The adoption of the report at the COP24 was blocked by the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait. The Katowice agreement aims to deliver the Paris goals of limiting global temperature rises to well below 2 degrees Celsius. The Seychelles’ delegation and all the members of AOSIS were disappointed that Parties were unable to welcome and accept the report and its findings.  Seychelles urged Parties to increase their efforts in light of the IPCC stark warning. On the Talanoa Dialogue which seeks to galvanise increased ambitions from countries and share climate change experiences, Seychelles and all AOSIS members urge leaders to build on this progress by exploring how existing solutions can provide avenues for them to immediately ramp up climate action. After the two weeks of negotiations, parties had reached a decision on most parts of the Paris Agreement Rulebook which are the guidelines that will define how climate action is implemented and accounted for over the coming decades. The Rulebook is paving the way for the pioneering treaty to come into force in 2020 as planned. The next Conference of the Parties 25 (COP25) will be hosted by Chile in partnership with Costa Rica. Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, hopes the two countries will bring new energy and new urgency to these talks. 

UK ministers meet to step up no-deal Brexit plans

British ministers met on Tuesday to intensify plans for leaving the European Union without a deal -- a prospect that is becoming more likely as Prime Minister Theresa May plays for time with just 101 days to go until Brexit. The opposition Labour Party meanw
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UK ministers meet to step up no-deal Brexit plans

British ministers met on Tuesday to intensify plans for leaving the European Union without a deal -- a prospect that is becoming more likely as Prime Minister Theresa May plays for time with just 101 days to go until Brexit. The opposition Labour Party meanwhile faced refusal over its request for a no-confidence motion in May and growing pressure to table a binding vote against the government. May on Monday said the government was preparing for a no-deal Brexit and «the cabinet will be discussing the next phase in ensuring we are ready for that scenario». She will be refereeing between ministers who want the government to step up preparations for a no-deal scenario and those that want parliament to have a final say in a series of votes on potential options for Brexit. One option is the prime minister's own Brexit deal, but that is hanging by a thread after she was forced to pull a vote on it last week in the face of huge opposition from within her Conservative Party. Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn on Monday tabled a non-binding no-confidence vote in May after she told MPs they will get another chance to vote on her deal in the week beginning January 14. «This house has no confidence in the prime minister due to her failure to allow the House of Commons to have a meaningful vote,» Corbyn told lawmakers ahead of tabling the motion in parliament. But Downing Street was reported on Tuesday to be blocking the motion from being debated. «We won't allow time for what is a stunt,» Britain's Press Association quoted Downing Street as saying. Labour had the option of tabling a binding motion but faced defeat after Conservative Brexit hardliners and the Democratic Unionist Party, which props up her government, both said they would back May. Leading eurosceptic Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Tuesday that he «will always support the Conservative government, I will not vote a Conservative government out of office.» Rees-Mogg led a party confidence vote against May last week, which she survived, but only after a third of her parliamentary party voted to oust her. - 'Running down the clock' - Even a non-binding vote of no-confidence from a majority in the House of Commons could leave May's authority further weakened -- and potentially prompt another vote in her entire government and a general election. Britain is set to leave the European Union on March 29 next year, but after 18 months of tortuous negotiations appears no closer to formalising a divorce deal. If parliament fails to approve the text of her deal, Britain could crash out of the EU with no deal -- a prospect that experts warn could lead to serious trade disruption and trigger a financial crisis. May insisted Monday that she was continuing to seek «assurances» from the EU over elements of her plan, although EU officials said no meetings were planned. The delay on the vote has angered members of her own party and Labour opposition politicians, who accused her of trying to «run down the clock» ahead of Britain's withdrawal to increase pressure on them to back the deal. «The prime minister has cynically run down the clock, trying to manoeuvre parliament into a choice between two unacceptable outcomes» -- her deal or no deal, Corbyn said. May is also facing calls for a second referendum to resolve the impasse, with dozens of MPs from all sides now supporting another poll and reports that May's officials are considering the possibility. But the prime minister argued that this would betray the 2016 result and undermine public confidence in politics. «Let us not break faith with the British people by trying to stage another referendum,» she told parliament on Monday. «Another vote... would do irreparable damage to the integrity of our politics,» May said, adding that a second vote «would likely leave us no further forward». © Agence France-Presse

Voters on reclaimed island in Seychelles can register in January

An exercise to have a new voter register for the district of Ile Perseverance will begin early January 2019, said the Seychelles' Electoral Commission on Tuesday. The chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Seychelles, Luciana Lagrenade, told the press th
Seychelles News Agency

Voters on reclaimed island in Seychelles can register in January

An exercise to have a new voter register for the district of Ile Perseverance will begin early January 2019, said the Seychelles' Electoral Commission on Tuesday. The chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Seychelles, Luciana Lagrenade, told the press that since the “district is a manmade island inhabiting people formerly residing in different districts, the eligible voters need to transfer their names on the new register.” Ile Perseverance is a reclaimed island with the nation's largest social housing project. It is the 26th electoral district in Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean.  According to the commission, 2,729 people are eligible to vote in that district. Lagrenade said that this will not apply to young voters who had just turned 18 or eligible voters who do not appear on the register as they only have to do a new application in order to be able to vote in the next election.  In the Seychelles’ last presidential elections in 2015 and the legislative elections in 2016, voters from Ile Perseverance had to vote in the districts where they were formerly residing. The voters from that district will be able to cast their ballots in their own districts in the next presidential election in 2020 and elect their own parliamentary representative in 2021. Presidential and Parliamentary elections in Seychelles are held every five years. The Electoral Commission’s chairperson on Tuesday talked about the change in name of the Parti Lepep to United Seychelles, which was announced in the party’s congress in November. Lagrenade said that the commission has officially accepted the party’s application put forth on November 26 to change their name. “Since there was an objection by one political party for the name change, we have consulted the Attorney General’s Office and a private lawyer’s firm and they pointed out that the objection does not stand and the name can be changed,” said Lagrenade. This was the fourth time the party who has led the executive branch of Seychelles since 1977 changed its name. Established by former president France Albert Rene in 1964, the party’s name was the Seychelles People’s United Party (SPUP). In June 1978, SPUP became the Seychelles People’s Progressive Front’ (SPPF) until June 2009 when it changed to Parti Lepep

North Korea warns on US sanctions

Nuclear-armed North Korea condemned the United States over its latest sanctions measures, warning Washington's approach could «block the path to denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula forever». After a rapid diplomatic rapprochement this year t
Seychelles News Agency

North Korea warns on US sanctions

Nuclear-armed North Korea condemned the United States over its latest sanctions measures, warning Washington's approach could «block the path to denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula forever». After a rapid diplomatic rapprochement this year that culminated in the Singapore summit in June between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump, progress has stalled in talks on Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal. In Singapore the two men signed a vaguely-worded statement on denuclearisation, but have since disagreed on what it means. Now Pyongyang is demanding sanctions relief and condemning US insistence on its nuclear disarmament as «gangster-like», while Washington is pushing to maintain the measures against the North until its «final, fully verified denuclearisation». Washington last week added three senior North Korean officials to those subject to sanctions over human rights abuses, including Choe Ryong Hae, who has been considered a right-hand man to Kim. In a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency, the North said Trump had repeatedly expressed his desire to improve relations with Pyongyang, but the US State Department was «bent on bringing the DPRK-US relations back to the status of last year which was marked by exchanges of fire». DPRK is the acronym for the North's official name. In recent months high-ranking US politicians including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had «almost every day slandered the DPRK out of sheer malice», added the Sunday statement by the policy research director of the foreign ministry's Institute for American Studies. Using sanctions and pressure «to drive us into giving up nuclear weapons» would be the «greatest miscalculation», it added, and would «block the path to denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula forever». A second summit between Trump and Kim -- who exchanged personal insults and threats of war throughout 2017 -- is expected to be held next year, with the US leader facing criticism over the planned talks since North Korea has taken few concrete steps to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. - Death anniversary - Pyongyang has long said it needs the weapons to deter a possible US invasion, and has spent decades developing them, at a heavy cost in both resources and the imposition of multiple sets of UN, US, EU and other sanctions. But on Monday its nuclear assets were conspicuous by their explicit absence from coverage of the seventh anniversary of the death of Kim's father and predecessor Kim Jong Il, on whose watch Pyongyang carried out its first two nuclear tests. Alongside extensive coverage of commemorative events across the country, the Rodong Sinmun newspaper, the mouthpiece of the ruling Workers' Party, published a lengthy editorial lauding Kim Jong Il's efforts to secure a «firm military assurance for peace and prosperity». A year earlier, the same newspaper praised his «immortal feat» in building a «Juche nuclear power state». Its front page was dominated by a large picture of soldiers and officials including Kim paying their respects at his father's mausoleum, a sprawling palace on the outskirts of the capital. It was the leader's first public activity in two weeks after visiting a shoe factory in Wonsan earlier this month. Trump played down hopes Friday for any imminent deal to persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear arsenal but he also expressed optimism, saying North Korea's economy has «wonderful potential» and that Kim «sees it better than anyone and will fully take advantage of it for his people». In actions required by Congress, his administration said last week it would seize any US assets of the three officials for suppressing freedom of speech. Such restrictions may have little effect on individuals in one of the world's most closed countries but have symbolic impact as North Korea seeks greater acceptance by the United States. © Agence France-Presse

Hospital in India interested in Seychelles' Ministry of Health partnership for patient treatment

The Jubilee Mission Medical College and Research Institute from Kerala, India, is looking to partner with the Seychelles’ Ministry of Health in the areas of health care, education, and research. In a conference last week, the chief executive of the hospita
Seychelles News Agency

Hospital in India interested in Seychelles' Ministry of Health partnership for patient treatment

The Jubilee Mission Medical College and Research Institute from Kerala, India, is looking to partner with the Seychelles’ Ministry of Health in the areas of health care, education, and research. In a conference last week, the chief executive of the hospital, Benny Joseph, said, “We are going to hold discussions with the minister to see if there are specific areas where we can offer our help.” The hospital “is willing to offer its facilities for Seychellois patients sent by the government for overseas treatment,” said Joseph. He added that a partnership could also be made whereby the Jubilee Mission Medical College can make arrangements to send its specialist doctors whenever the government of Seychelles requires. Speaking to SNA via email on Friday, the Seychelles’ Minister of Health, Jean-Paul Adam said, “As part of our strategy, we are still talking and in negotiations with other hospitals abroad to send our patients for overseas treatment.” Set up as a dispensary in 1952, the Jubilee Mission Medical College is considered to be a pioneering institution in health care and education in South India and its motto is ‘Service with Love.’ It offers a range of medical services and treatments, including anesthesiology, dentistry, orthopaedics, psychiatry, dermatology, general surgery, general medicine and unique services such as snake bite treatment and burns treatment. It also provides single and deluxe category of inpatient rooms to offer you a comfortable stay with amenities including multi-cuisine menu, room service, and laundry service. During hospital admission, one attendant is permitted to stay along with the patient in the room. The hospital can also facilitate hotel accommodation in close proximity of the hospital for larger families.   Joseph said that the college section of the hospital is renowned to be one of the best in South India which can offer training for Seychellois nurses, doctors and other health professionals. The management team of the college at the press conference last recent. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY  Training of nurses is an area that the health ministry said it will explore. “Since the hospital has a special and credible facility to train nurses the ministry will be looking into how the hospital can benefit in that area.” Adam added that “cost-wise the hospital price for treatment is very affordable compared to some foreign hospitals that we are dealing with” but that “before an agreement is signed with the Jubilee Hospital, we need to visit the facilities to ensure that it meets all the criteria we are looking for as a country.”  Although there is an increase in specialised treatment in Seychelles, there remain certain procedures by specialists that are not available locally. The island nation is currently sending over 200 patients per year for specialised overseas treatment, mainly in countries such as India and Sri Lanka.  The visit of the hospital management to Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, was encouraged by the professor and head of the department of surgical oncology at the hospital, Sreekumar Pillai. Pillai said that followed an encounter and treatment of two Seychellois patients, who introduced the island to him. He then thought that it would be a great potential partner. The total outpatient of the college per day is 1800-2300 and the total staff strength is 3,000.  Speaking to SNA, Gerry Souris, who accompanied one of the two patients that were treated at the hospital, said that the cost for treatment is very cheap and the service has been number one since day one. Souris said that the hospital has all the facilities that one could require. He said that the patients he went with has fully recovered and she will be going back soon for a checkup. While in Seychelles, the hospital's team will also meet with the Roman Catholic Bishop and the vice-chancellor of the University of Seychelles. 

New Maldives leader secures $1.4bn from 'closest friend' India

The new Maldives president, seen as closer to the West and India than his predecessor, secured $1.4 billion from New Delhi on Monday in his first visit abroad to his country's «closest friend». Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said after talks with Prime Mi
Seychelles News Agency

New Maldives leader secures $1.4bn from 'closest friend' India

The new Maldives president, seen as closer to the West and India than his predecessor, secured $1.4 billion from New Delhi on Monday in his first visit abroad to his country's «closest friend». Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said after talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi that they would also «strengthen maritime security» through patrols, aerial surveillance and exchanging information. «India is our closest neighbour and our people are bound by ties of friendship and cultural affinity,» Solih told reporters. «Within those close links, trade and commerce have flourished. India is not only our closest friend, it's also one of our largest trading partners,» Solih said. The package of financial assistance is in the form of budgetary support, currency swap agreements and credit lines, Modi said, after what he called «successful talks» to build upon the two countries' «deep-rooted» friendship. «We want greater trade ties with Maldives. There are increasing opportunities for Indian companies in the island nation. This is beneficial for both the countries,» Modi said. «Our security interests are interlinked. We will not allow our countries to be used for harmful activities against each other,» he said. Solih, 54, unexpectedly beat his predecessor Abdulla Yameen to the presidency of the Indian Ocean archipelago and upmarket honeymoon destination in elections in September. Besides being accused by critics of corruption and muzzling the media, Yameen was seen as close to China, borrowing from Beijing for infrastructure projects including a new bridge and an airport expansion. China has also loaned billions to other countries around the Indian Ocean and beyond, stoking fears of a debt trap and riling both India -- which has traditionally held sway in the region -- and the United States. Solih's party has called for a review of the projects bankrolled by China in the strategically placed Indian Ocean country. Former president Mohamed Nasheed, now Solih's mentor, has accused China of a land grab and condemned a free-trade agreement signed by Beijing and Yameen as one-sided. Nasheed told AFP in a recent interview that it would be «very difficult» for the Maldives to repay its Chinese debt, which he said was estimated to be at least $3 billion. But China's ambassador told the local Avas.mv website last month that only about half of the Maldives' external debt pile of $1.2 billion was owed to Beijing. Zhang Lizhong said the loans carried just a two-percent interest rate and a five-year grace period. «We have nothing to gain if a friendly country falls into debt,» he said. «There is no single (piece of) evidence to support the so-called debt trap claim.» © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles sets up new National Intelligence Agency to fight crime

The Seychelles’ National Assembly has approved the setting up of an intelligence agency to coordinate the gathering of information with the aim of addressing the level of crime in the island nation. A proposed bill was presented to the Assembly -- the isla
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles sets up new National Intelligence Agency to fight crime

The Seychelles’ National Assembly has approved the setting up of an intelligence agency to coordinate the gathering of information with the aim of addressing the level of crime in the island nation. A proposed bill was presented to the Assembly -- the island nation’s legislative body -- last week by the Jean-Paul Adam on behalf of the government.  “It is essential to reinforce the national capacity to use intelligence to break the network that has both national and international aspects and it is important that we put all our effort to address it,” said Adam in his presentation. Work on the proposed bill was carried out by the Bills Committee in the National Assembly in collaboration with other local partners in June. The Seychelles’ Intelligence Agency, once set up, is expected to be the coordinating body between all local agencies collecting information and ensure that there will be appropriate actions in a systematic way. It was the President of Seychelles, Danny Faure, who announced the setting up of a National Intelligence Agency in his State of the Nation address last year. “We must accelerate the efficiency of prevention, detection and prosecution system and relook at the level of support they get. In this context, I am reviewing the mandate of the FIU (Financial Intelligence Unit). A new bill on the creation of a National Intelligence Agency on security will also be presented to the National Assembly in May this year,” Faure said. Adam said that the intelligence agency will help address several of the population’s concerns such as the ability of the country to address the drug scourge. He added that this will also help address the issue of ill-gotten gains, maritime risks including illegal fishing and other illegal activities. The service will also facilitate the sharing of information with international partners. “This is because we have to remember always that in the criminal network in today’s world, the local network can sometimes have global aspects,” said Adam. The proposed intelligence service will emphasize the protection of the citizens of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. “It provides a clear cadre for circumstances where appropriate measures can be used to get information and where necessary intercept communication or take similar actions to address any risks or threats with activities that a citizen can do under the new section 17 and 18 of the proposed service,” said Adam. The law will further make provision for the creation of a National Council for Intelligence that will be headed by President Danny Faure and will include the Attorney General, Commissioner of Police, and representatives from the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). 

Nations agree milestone rulebook for Paris climate treaty

Nations on Sunday struck a deal to breathe life into the landmark 2015 Paris climate treaty after marathon UN talks that failed to match the ambition the world's most vulnerable countries need to avert dangerous global warming. Delegates from nearly 200 stat
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Nations agree milestone rulebook for Paris climate treaty

Nations on Sunday struck a deal to breathe life into the landmark 2015 Paris climate treaty after marathon UN talks that failed to match the ambition the world's most vulnerable countries need to avert dangerous global warming. Delegates from nearly 200 states finalised a common rule book designed to deliver the Paris goals of limiting global temperature rises to well below two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit). «Putting together the Paris agreement work programme is a big responsibility,» said COP24 president Michal Kurtyka as he gavelled through the deal after talks in Poland that ran deep into overtime. «It has been a long road. We did our best to leave no one behind.» But states already dealing with devastating floods, droughts and extreme weather made worse by climate change said the package agreed in the mining city of Katowice lacked the bold ambition to cut emissions the world needed. Egyptian ambassador Wael Aboulmagd, chair of the developing nations G77 plus China negotiating bloc, said the rule book saw the «urgent adaptation needs of developing countries relegated to a second-class status.» Executive director of Greenpeace Jennifer Morgan said: «We continue to witness an irresponsible divide between the vulnerable island states and impoverished countries pitted against those who would block climate action or who are immorally failing to act fast enough.» The final decision text was repeatedly delayed as negotiators sought guidelines that could ward off the worst threats posed by the heating planet while protecting the economies of rich and poor nations alike. «Without a clear rulebook, we won't see how countries are tracking, whether they are actually doing what they say they are doing,» Canada's Environment Minister Catherine McKenna told AFP. At their heart, negotiations were about how each nation funds action to mitigate and adapt to climate change, as well as how those actions are reported. - Report controversy - French President Emmanuel Macron, who has recently backed down on anti-pollution fuel tax hikes in the face of country-wide «yellow vest» protests, said France must «show the way» as he welcomed the progress made at the talks. «The international community remains committed to the fight against climate change,» he tweeted on Sunday. «Congratulations to the UN, scientists, NGOs and all negotiators. France and Europe must show the way. The fight goes on.» Developing nations had wanted more clarity from richer ones over how the future climate fight will be funded and pushed for so-called «loss and damage» measures. This would see richer countries giving money now to help deal with the effects of climate change many vulnerable states are already experiencing. Another contentious issue was the integrity of carbon markets, looking ahead to the day when the patchwork of distinct exchanges -- in China, the Europe Union, parts of the United States -- may be joined up in a global system. The Paris Agreement calls for setting up a mechanism to guard against practices, such as double counting emissions savings, that could undermine such a market. A major sticking point, delegates eventually agreed Saturday to kick the issue down the road until next year. One veteran observer told AFP that Poland's presidency at COP24 had left many countries out of the process and presented at-risk nations with a «take it or leave it» deal. Progress had «been held up by Brazil, when it should have been held up by the small islands. It's tragic.» One of the largest disappointments for countries of all wealths and sizes was the lack of ambition to reduce emissions shown in the final COP24 text. Most nations wanted the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to form a key part of future planning. - 'The system must change' - It highlighted the need to slash carbon pollution by nearly half before 2030 in order to hit the 1.5C target. But the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait objected, leading to watered-down wording. The final statement from the Polish COP24 presidency welcomed «the timely conclusion» of the report and invited «parties to make use of it» -- hardly the ringing endorsement many nations had called for. «There's been a shocking lack of response to the 1.5 report,» Greenpeace's Morgan, told AFP. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who made three trips to Katowice over the course of the talks, said the world's climate fight was just beginning. «From now on my five priorities will be: Ambition, ambition, ambition, ambition, ambition,» he said in a message read out by UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa. With the political climate process sputtering on well into its third decade as emissions rise remorselessly, activists have stepped up grassroots campaigns of civil disobedience to speed up action. «We are not a one-off protest, we are a rebellion,» a spokesman for the Extinction Rebellion movement, which disrupted at least one ministerial event at the COP, told AFP. «We are organising for repeated disruption, and we are targeting our governments, calling for the system change needed to deal with the crisis that we are facing.» © Agence France-Presse

New book launched in Seychelles chronicles Indian Ocean sea voyages

A new book has been written by a Seychellois that chronicles sea voyages in the Indian Ocean. Written by well-known historian Julien Durup, ‘Seafaring Adventures and Conflicts in the Indian Ocean 3500BCE-1811CE’ will be of use to anyone learning about t
Seychelles News Agency

New book launched in Seychelles chronicles Indian Ocean sea voyages

A new book has been written by a Seychellois that chronicles sea voyages in the Indian Ocean. Written by well-known historian Julien Durup, ‘Seafaring Adventures and Conflicts in the Indian Ocean 3500BCE-1811CE’ will be of use to anyone learning about the history of the country. In introducing his book Durup mentioned that “there is a lack of books on seafaring in the Indian Ocean.” Durup hopes to add to the library of books that will help researches, teachers and students on the topic.  The book was officially launched at the Giraffe bookstore on Eden Island on December 10. During the ceremony, the principal secretary for culture, Cecile Kalebi, said that the book will be a valuable tool for future generations. She added that it provides a glimpse into the past and hence should be integrated into history lessons taught about Seychelles. ‘Seafaring Adventures and Conflicts in the Indian Ocean 3500BCE-1811CE’ can be purchased in Victoria at Antigone or Chanterelle or at the international airport for $18.3 (SCR250). Seafaring Adventures and Conflicts in the Indian Ocean 3500BCE-1811CE’ will be of use to anyone learning about the history of the country. (Salifa Karapetyan, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY The book chronicles the main ethnicities that travelled to the Indian Ocean. Chapter one talks about the overall geographical and historical background of the early Indian Ocean and the second chapter covers the travels made. Talking about the chosen timeframe documented in the book, Durup said that his interest was sparked after reading the Bible, given to him as a gift by a close friend. “We have used the convention of BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era.) They correspond to the same dates as BC and AD but without alluding to the birth or death of an alleged Christ,” Durup wrote in the introduction of the book. Durup’s love for books started at a young age. His first place of employment was at the government printing office as a bookbinder in 1962. Ten years later Durup undertook his studies in bookbinding and print finishing at the London College of Printing. It took Durup about five years to complete the book and he said that he takes this length of time as he conducts researches on other topics as he writes a particular book.  The publication of the new book comes two years after «The Seychelles Islands and its First Landowners» also written by Durup in which he traced the history of the archipelago from 1786 to1833. 

Oceans of garbage prompt war on plastics

Faced with images of turtles smothered by plastic bags, beaches carpeted with garbage and islands of trash floating in the oceans, environmentalists say the world is waking up to the need to tackle plastic pollution at the source. Stories on social media of
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Oceans of garbage prompt war on plastics

Faced with images of turtles smothered by plastic bags, beaches carpeted with garbage and islands of trash floating in the oceans, environmentalists say the world is waking up to the need to tackle plastic pollution at the source. Stories on social media of giant seas of floating waste or a beached whale found in Indonesia with six kilos (13 pounds) of plastic in its stomach are bringing plastic pollution into the spotlight. «There is no question plastic is having a moment,» said George Leonard, chief scientist at Ocean Conservancy. «We are in a moment in time where we are starting to stare the problem in the face, and we're quite optimistic and hopeful that we can solve it.» Leonard and other environmental experts are optimistic the exposure will make the problem of plastics hard to ignore and focus attention on how best to deal with such waste. Eight million tonnes of plastic is dumped into the oceans each year, according to a study in the Science journal. But that is only what comes from the land, said Francois Galgani, researcher with the French institute Ifremer, estimating another two million tonnes could come from ships especially fishing vessels. As a consequence more than 700 species are impacted, including turtles who confuse plastic bags with the jellyfish they eat, Galgani said. More than 5 billion plastic bags are used every year, and a ban step by step, country by country is underway, the first phase towards a possible general ban. Bags could be followed by bans on plastic straws and cotton swabs. The European Union wants to ban certain single-use plastics by the end of 2021. For Galgani, that would be good news, as it would represent around 30 to 40 percent of the plastic that ends up in the oceans. «Everyone is working for the good cause, even industries,» he said. - Cleaning up? - But according to a study in Science Advances review, from the 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic produced between 1950 and 2015, 6.3 billion tonnes became garbage that was not very biodegradable material and only 9 percent was recycled. For Greenpeace's Mirjam Kopp, though, recycling is not enough. «We cannot continue this business as usual, we need to change the throw-away culture we have developed,» Kopp said. «We need to tackle the problem at the source. »Industries are putting the blame on the consumers, saying they should recycle more, but we don't think it will help. They are responsible for the single-use plastics they put on the market.« The UN Environment agency has already declared war on plastics in the oceans and made it the environmental theme of 2018. »We need stop treating plastic as something that we can just throw away after we have used it, and start treating it as a material that has real value,« said Petter Malvik, campaign manager for the Clean Seas campaign launched by UN-Environment in 2017. Already around 60 countries have joined in the campaign started in 2017 to ban non-reusable plastics. »Although bans alone won't solve the problem, they are definitely more than just a drop in the bucket,« Malvik said. Another problem is so called »ghost nets« - fishing nets lost at sea or left intentionally and which continue to catch fish for months after. When it comes to cleaning the oceans, though, experts say the task may be far more complex. Scientists, for example, have doubts for over a giant floating clean-up device proposed by Ocean Cleanup foundation, which aims to clear half of a huge waste deposit floating in the Pacific in the next five years. Dubbed the »Great Pacific garbage patch«, the abnormal mass of floating debris caused by marine turbulence has now reached 80,000 tonnes spread over an area three times the size of France, according to a study in Scientific Reports. And if you want to clean up the ocean, Leonard says, then the surface is not the place to start. What floats on the surface -- particles of micro-plastics and larger objects -- is nothing compared to what ends up on the ocean floor, experts say. So what is the solution? »Degradation,« says Galgani of France's Iremer institute, referring to the breakdown of plastics. But for some plastics that means a process that may take »hundreds of years". © Agence France-Presse

Eyeing new tourism and trade, Seychelles signs air agreements with 8 countries

With an eye on furthering tourism and trade, Seychelles has signed eight air service agreements with eight countries at the annual Air Services Negotiation conference in Nairobi, Kenya. The Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) said Friday that the serv
Seychelles News Agency

Eyeing new tourism and trade, Seychelles signs air agreements with 8 countries

With an eye on furthering tourism and trade, Seychelles has signed eight air service agreements with eight countries at the annual Air Services Negotiation conference in Nairobi, Kenya. The Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) said Friday that the service agreements were signed with Kenya, Bahamas, Greece, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Turkey, Rwanda and Jamaica by the Seychelles ambassador to Kenya, David Pierre. Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, marked seven years of participation in the conference which was held this year from December 10-14.  “Seychelles as a small Island State needs to ensure that it remains well connected with the rest of the world; this is in fact vital to our economic development, which relies heavily on tourism and trade. These agreements provide an important framework that would allow for strategic planning and continued development and growth in air services and the tourism industry in Seychelles,” said Pierre. The Kenyan minister responsible for transport, infrastructure, housing and urban development, James Macharia, noted the excellent relations that exist with Seychelles. He said that “Seychelles and Kenya has a strong bond of friendship based on trust and mutual understanding; this agreement that we signed today attest to this.” Macharia spoke about the recent visit of the Seychelles’ President Danny Faure to Kenya for the sustainable Blue Economy Conference and the commitment made by the two leaders to support one another in realizing the full potential of the blue economy. “This is very positive as we both see the benefits of our continued collaborations in a myriad of fields, but most importantly in aviation,” he said. The Kenyan minister added that “today’s signature is an important stepping stone in our bilateral relations and an important step in our cooperation as developmental partners in the region.” A delegation from Seychelles has been attending the Air Services Negotiation conferences since 2012 when it was held in Saudi Arabia headed by the chief executive of the SCAA, Gilbert Faure. “It is truly a historic moment. We are very proud that after many years of robust engagement and negotiations we have managed to sign these agreements this week,” said Faure. During the one week conference Seychelles also met with several other countries to negotiate and conclude new air services framework namely Chile, Mali, Poland, Ghana, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Luxembourg and Mozambique. Faure said that the participation of Seychelles in this year’s conference was a success for the African region overall, “particularly in spearheading the global aviation agenda to meet the goals of Agenda 2063 of the African Union and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.” Faure who will be retiring at the end of the year after more than 40 years of service added that “I am very proud of what we have accomplished thus far for Seychelles. Going forward, we have a lot of work to do to ensure that air transport continues to grow on an upward trajectory.” The air services agreements will now be submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers and the National Assembly for ratification. 

Yemen's warring parties agree ceasefire for key port at UN talks

Yemen's warring parties on Thursday agreed to a ceasefire on a vital port in a series of breakthroughs in UN-brokered peace talks that could mark a major turning point after four years of devastating conflict. If implemented, the deal on the Hodeida port, a
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Yemen's warring parties agree ceasefire for key port at UN talks

Yemen's warring parties on Thursday agreed to a ceasefire on a vital port in a series of breakthroughs in UN-brokered peace talks that could mark a major turning point after four years of devastating conflict. If implemented, the deal on the Hodeida port, a key gateway for aid and food imports, could bring relief to a country where 14 million people stand on the brink of famine. In a highly symbolic gesture on the seventh and final day of the peace talks in Sweden, Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani and rebel negotiator Mohammed Abdelsalam shook hands to loud applause -- although both later voiced scepticism. The two leaders gave contradictory readings of the Hodeida deal shortly after the announcement by UN chief Antonio Guterres. The week-long talks left a number of key issues unresolved. A new round of talks is scheduled for the end of January, with analysts predicting the US will continue to up the pressure on ally Saudi Arabia, a key backer of the Yemeni government, to end the conflict. Impoverished Yemen has been mired in fighting between Iran-backed Huthi rebels and troops loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi since 2014. But the war escalated in 2015 when a Saudi-led military coalition stepped in on the government's side. - Withdrawal 'within days' - Under the Hodeida agreement, released on Thursday evening, an «immediate ceasefire» should come into effect in Hodeida and its three ports upon signing, followed by a «mutual redeployment of forces... to agreed upon locations outside the city and the ports». The UN will play a «leading role» in management and inspections at the ports, for four years under rebel control. The port will eventually be under the control of «local security forces» -- a term the rival parties disagree on. Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani, who agreed to the deal in Sweden, declined to specify whether the forces would be solely state security forces but told AFP they would report to the «central authority» -- the government. But the head rebel negotiator told AFP the phrase referred to the «security forces currently present in Hodeida» -- the rebels. Saudi Arabia and its allies accuse the rebels of arms smuggling from Iran through Hodeida and the capital Sanaa, charges Iran has denied. The Saudi led-military coalition currently controls Yemen's maritime borders and airspace. UN chief Guterres said the rivals had also reached a «mutual understanding» on Yemen's third city of Taiz, the scene of some of the most intense battles in the conflict, to facilitate the delivery of aid. No further details were given. - 'More than expected' - No deal has been reached on the future of the airport in the capital Sanaa or on economic measures needed to spare the population from further hunger. Sanaa airport has been closed to commercial flights for nearly three years. The airport will be discussed at the next round of talks, UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths said. Foreign Minister Yamani said the deal was the biggest step forward since the outbreak of the war but remained «hypothetical». «We will wait and see,» he told AFP. The rebels' Abdelsalam told AFP his group was «bound by an agreement». US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was upbeat, saying «peace is possible». «The work ahead will not be easy, but we have seen what many considered improbable begin to take shape,» he said in a statement. «The end of these consultations can be the beginning of a new chapter for Yemen.» Analysts said the Rimbo talks progressed better than anticipated, two years after the last negotiations hosted by Kuwait in 2016 collapsed with no breakthrough after three months. «The Sweden talks have achieved more than anyone expected,» the International Crisis Group told AFP. «We have heard a different tone from the government of Yemen in these talks, and US pressure has clearly focused minds in the Gulf.» - US Senate vote - The case of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, along with the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, were the turning point for the US. The US, Britain and France are still the biggest arms suppliers to Saudi Arabia. Both the rebels and government alliance are accused of failing to protect civilians. The UN last year blacklisted the Saudi-led coalition for the killing and maiming of children in air raids. The US Senate on Thursday approved a resolution to end American backing for the Saudi-led intervention. The largely symbolic resolution cannot be debated in the House of Representatives before January, and would likely be vetoed in any case by US President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly signalled his backing for the Saudi regime. Saudi Arabia and its Arab coalition partners «strongly support» the agreement, Riyadh's US ambassador Khalid bin Salman said, while Iran hailed the breakthroughs as «promising». © Agence France-Presse

New hearing for Chagossian community in Seychelles has opened in UK

The hearing in the case of the Seychelles-based Chagossian community against the government of the United Kingdom is taking place in the UK from December 10-15, the Chagossian committee said in a communique on Tuesday.  The claimant in the case representin
Seychelles News Agency

New hearing for Chagossian community in Seychelles has opened in UK

The hearing in the case of the Seychelles-based Chagossian community against the government of the United Kingdom is taking place in the UK from December 10-15, the Chagossian committee said in a communique on Tuesday.  The claimant in the case representing the community in Seychelles, Solange Hoareau, is arguing that the November 2016 decision taken by the British government was unlawful on a numerous ground and is asking for a judicial review. The British government carried out a review of their policy on resettlement of the Chagos Islands between 2012 – 2016 to investigate the feasibility of resettlement and concluded, contrary to earlier assumptions, that resettlement was feasible. A consultation with Chagossians found that 98 percent of them wanted to move homeland. However, on November 16, 2016, the UK Government announced that it would not support the resettlement of Chagossians and would instead allocate 40 million British pounds towards a 10-year support package to improve the lives of Chagossians in their current communities.  The current legislation prohibiting the Chagossians from enjoying any right of abode in the BIOT remains in effect. According to the communique, “the Chagossians were not given any replacement houses on Mauritius or the Seychelles and many have since lived in abject poverty, with a deep sadness and longing for their homeland.” It further states that “although the UK government has repeatedly stated that the exile of the Chagossians was wrong the government has only ever paid compensation to the Mauritian Chagossians. No compensation was ever paid to the Chagossians who were exiled to the Seychelles." Chagossians were forcibly evicted from the Chagos archipelago in 1960 when the UK leased the main island, Diego Garcia, to the United States to use as a military base. (Pierre Prosper) Photo License: CC-BY In her argument, Hoareau said the decision was irrational and amounted to a disproportionate interference with the fundamental rights of the Chagossians. She added that the British government “acted irrationally and unfairly by failing to undertake any assessment of the needs to which the £40m support package was directed and breached a legitimate expectation of consultation in relation to the scope and value of the support package.” Rosa Curling, a solicitor at Leigh Day -- a leading human rights and personal injury claimant firm based in London representing Hoareau -- said, “Our clients believe the latest decision taken by the government about the Chagossians is unlawful. It is time for our government to end the ongoing injustice face by the Chagossians. Our client’s right to abode must be recognised and Mrs Hoareau and her fellow Chagossians must be allowed to return home.” Around 2,000 Chagossians were forcibly evicted from the Chagos archipelago in the central Indian Ocean in 1960 after the UK leased the main island, Diego Garcia, to the United States to use as a military base. More than 200 were deported to Mahe, the main island of Seychelles, between 1967 and 1973, when the country was still a British colony. Pierre Prosper, the chair of the Seychelles Chagossians Committee, said, “The British Government must understand we will never give up the fight for the right to return to our homeland and to right the wrongs they have done to our community. Our elders are dying out every year, exiled from their homes, their ancestors’ land and their families’ graves. We fear the British Government is relying on this; that they are buying time and hoping we will lose interest or the will to fight on. But we will not.” Prosper added that “we hope the UK courts will now ensure the British Government has to reconsider their decision and request a resolution be found recognizing and finally respecting the needs and rights of our community.” Last year on June 22, Seychelles became one of the 94 countries which voted for the UN resolution requesting an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice in the Hague, Netherlands, on the legal status of the Chagos island. 

South Africa bid to host 2019 Africa Cup of Nations

South Africa has formally bid to replace Cameroon as hosts of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, a senior football official told AFP Thursday. «We have submitted our bid documents,» South African Football Association spokesman Dominic Chimhavi said
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South Africa bid to host 2019 Africa Cup of Nations

South Africa has formally bid to replace Cameroon as hosts of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, a senior football official told AFP Thursday. «We have submitted our bid documents,» South African Football Association spokesman Dominic Chimhavi said in reply to emailed questions from AFP. «(It) is now up to CAF to decide (who hosts the 2019 Cup of Nations).» Earlier Thursday, Egypt said it was willing to stage the biennial African football showpiece after Morocco surprisingly announced it would not bid. Morocco had been strong a media favourite to host the tournament for the first time since 1988. Last week, Cameroon was stripped of the right to stage the tournament with African football body CAF citing behind-schedule preparations and security concerns. The deadline for bids is 2200GMT Friday with a decision on who replaces Cameroon to be made in Senegal on January 9. South Africa last week «expressed an interest» in staging the Cup of Nations for the second time in six years, but stopped short of formally applying to be hosts. If South Africa is chosen, it will be third time it has replaced another country as hosts of a tournament first staged in Sudan 61 years ago. It took over from Kenya in 1996, going on to win the tournament just four years after returning to international football from apartheid-induced isolation. Post Moamer Kadhafi-era violence prevented Libya hosting the 2013 edition and South Africa stepped in three years after becoming the first African country to stage the World Cup. Record seven-time champions Egypt were hosts in 1959, 1974, 1986 and 2006 and won three of those four tournaments. The 2019 Cup of Nations will be the first to feature 24 teams, up from 16 in Gabon last year when Cameroon were surprise winners. There will also be a change of dates with the tournament moving from January/February to June/July to avoid club-versus-country clashes. Cameroon won in 2017 despite a number of stars, including Liverpool defender Joel Matip, opting to stay with their clubs in the middle of the season. © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles hosts major international golf tournament for first time

Seychelles is hosting its first major international golf tournament from December 14 to 16 at the golf course at Constance Lemuria Resort on Praslin, the second-most populated island. The event is the second stage of the Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB) Stays
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles hosts major international golf tournament for first time

Seychelles is hosting its first major international golf tournament from December 14 to 16 at the golf course at Constance Lemuria Resort on Praslin, the second-most populated island. The event is the second stage of the Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB) Staysure Tour Indian Ocean Swing, which started at the Constance Belle Mare Plage in Mauritius. Around 32 of the world’s best golfers of the 2018 season are participating.  The celebrity golf players landed in Seychelles on Tuesday after an intense three-day competition in Mauritius that ended on Sunday. Speaking at the reception ceremony at the airport, the chief executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board, Sherin Francis said, “It is an immense pleasure for me to see that all the efforts put in have concretised to such a beautiful moment. STB keeps marketing Seychelles as a polyvalent destination and having another international event on our calendar of events gives us that extra visibility. The event is going to be seen on very many sports channel and this is valuable publicity.” The celebrity golf players landed in Seychelles on Tuesday. (Vanessa Lucas, Seychelles Tourism Board) Photo License: CC-BY The first tour of the Indian Ocean Swing in Mauritius culminated with the American professional golfer Dennis Clark finishing on top of the podium for now followed closely by Atlevi Magnus of Sweden. The Seychelles segment of the tour is taking place at the 18-hole golf course of the Constance Lémuria Resort. The course built in 2002 by architect Rodney Wright has also won multiple World Travel Awards as Seychelles Leading Golf Resort and the Indian Ocean leading Golf Resort since its opening. With the course covering about three-quarters of Constance Lémuria’s property, the resort has 18 staff, whose job is to maintain the par-70, 18-hole golf course. Bruno Le Gac, the resort’s general manager, said that the staff responsible for the golf club “has been working extremely hard to ensure that we are ready for this prestigious international event, and they can be proud of what has been achieved so far.” Leading up to the final tour of the MCB-Staysure 2018 Tour Season, which starts on Friday, Gary Pouponneau, the golf director, said that security would tighten within the resort during the tournament. “Badges will be provided to people with a classification of access areas for people attending and participating,” said Pouponneau. Constance Lémuria is offering participants in the MCB-Staysure tournament a ‘Hole in One’ prize in the 15th tee for any pro achieving a hole in one during the competition. Mauritius Commercial Bank  Group – the sponsor of the Staysure Tour Indian Ocean -- has signed a three-year agreement incorporating a new two-stage Final Series which will draw a close to the Staysure Tour season until 2020. At the first stage of the tour in Mauritius, Raoul Gufflet, the Deputy CEO of MCB, said, “The addition of Seychelles as the climax of the season, and the creation of the Indian Ocean Swing, makes us not only proud but really excited to have our clients, those of Staysure and the regular clients of Constance Hotels & Resorts, discover the incredible landscapes of the golf courses and resorts of Mauritius and Seychelles.” In Mauritius, the top 50 players on the Staysure Tour Order of Merit competed for a prize fund of $508,000 from December 7-9. The field has now been reduced to 32 for the Second Stage in Seychelles, playing for a prize fund of $300,000 as the race for the John Jacobs Trophy goes down to the wire from December 14-16. The Staysure Tour, formerly known as the European Senior Tour, is the men’s professional golf tour for members aged 50 and older.

Ex-lawyer blames Trump 'dirty deeds' as he gets 3 years

Donald Trump's former lawyer apologized Wednesday for covering up the «dirty deeds» of his ex-boss as he was sentenced to three years for multiple crimes including hush money payments implicating the US president. Pleading for leniency in a packe
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Ex-lawyer blames Trump 'dirty deeds' as he gets 3 years

Donald Trump's former lawyer apologized Wednesday for covering up the «dirty deeds» of his ex-boss as he was sentenced to three years for multiple crimes including hush money payments implicating the US president. Pleading for leniency in a packed Manhattan courtroom before US District Court Judge William H. Pauley III, Michael Cohen said he had been led astray by misplaced admiration for Trump. An emotional Cohen, 52, Trump's longtime «fixer,» told the court he accepted responsibility for his personal crimes and «those involving the President of the United States of America.» Cohen's lawyers had argued for no jail time after he admitted charges brought by federal prosecutors in New York of tax evasion, providing false statements to a bank and illegal campaign contributions. Cohen also pleaded guilty to making false statements to Congress -- a charge stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into whether Trump's 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Russia to get him elected. But Pauley said Cohen -- as a lawyer -- «should have known better» and sentenced him to three years in federal prison, ordering him to surrender to custody by March 6. He was also ordered to pay $2 million in fines and restitution. «Each of these crimes standing alone warrant considerable punishment,» Pauley said, adding that Cohen was «motivated by personal greed and ambition.» «A significant term of imprisonment is fully justified in this highly publicized case to send a message,» the judge said. Before Pauley passed sentence, Cohen addressed the court, saying it was his devotion to Trump that caused him to choose «a path of darkness over light.» «Today is the day that I am getting my freedom back,» he said. «I have been living in a personal and mental incarceration ever since the day that I accepted the offer to work for a real estate mogul whose business acumen I deeply admired,» Cohen said. «I now realize there was little to admire,» he said. - 'Dirty deeds' - Cohen referred to a recent tweet from Trump calling him «weak,» saying his only weakness had been «blind loyalty» to his former boss. «Time and time again I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds rather than to listen to my own inner voice and my moral compass,» he said. Among the charges against Cohen was making secret payments to silence two women threatening to go public during the election campaign with claims they had affairs with Trump. Cohen told prosecutors the payments totaling $280,000 to porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal were made «in coordination with and at the direction» of Trump -- referred to by prosecutors as «Individual-1.» Both women have claimed to have had sexual encounters with Trump before he was the Republican candidate for president and prosecutors have characterized the payments as illegal campaign contributions intended to influence the election. «Cohen deceived the voting public by hiding alleged facts that he believed would have had a substantial effect on the election,» prosecutors said. The payment to McDougal was funnelled through American Media Inc, publisher of the National Enquirer, and prosecutors announced following Cohen's sentencing that AMI had been granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for its cooperation. Trump this week sought to minimize the importance of the payments to the two women saying they were a «simple private transaction» and were «wrongly» being called campaign contributions. «Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced,» Trump tweeted. «WITCH HUNT!» There was no immediate reaction from Trump to Cohen's sentencing. - Lied to Congress - While federal prosecutors said Cohen's cooperation was limited and selective, the Special Counsel's office said Cohen had «gone to significant lengths» to assist their investigation. Last month, Cohen acknowledged that he had lied to Congress about his contacts with Russia during the election campaign about building a Trump Tower in Moscow and the extent of Trump's own involvement in the negotiations. Cohen, wearing a dark suit with a light blue tie, arrived for the sentencing with his wife, son and daughter, who was walking with a crutch. Other family members were also in the audience including his 83-year-old wheelchair-bound father. For 12 years, Cohen was vice president of The Trump Organization, the umbrella company for Trump's real estate businesses, and one of the principal confidants of the New York billionaire. Investigators raided Cohen's offices and New York home in April, seizing stacks of documents and electronic devices. © Agence France-Presse

Nature Seychelles creates toolkit for coral restoration ahead of global meeting in Florida

A new toolkit to provide guidelines on how to complete a successful coral restoration project has been launched by Nature Seychelles, a not-for-profit environmental organisation. The launch coincides with the Reef Futures Symposium being held in Key Largo, F
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Nature Seychelles creates toolkit for coral restoration ahead of global meeting in Florida

A new toolkit to provide guidelines on how to complete a successful coral restoration project has been launched by Nature Seychelles, a not-for-profit environmental organisation. The launch coincides with the Reef Futures Symposium being held in Key Largo, Florida, in the United States from December 10-14.  The toolkit is based on a ground-breaking large-scale coral reef restoration project carried out by Nature Seychelles in the 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. The chief executive of Nature Seychelles, Nirmal Shah, said, “This is an opportune moment to showcase our efforts in Seychelles to the global coral reef restoration community. We want to share best practices, techniques, and tools, as well as challenges and lessons learnt to help others who might want to carry out similar work. Scientists who worked on the toolkit are attending the conference and will be on hand to discuss these efforts.«  The toolkit describes how to complete a coral reef restoration project using the ‘coral gardening’ concept.' It further illustrates the protocol used in the restoration, as well as guidance on appropriate design, logistics, and execution of the project based on experience and field-tested methods. The toolkit provides guidelines on how to complete a successful coral restoration project. (Nature Seychelles) Photo License: CC-BY In 2010 Nature Seychelles -- a leading environmental conservation organisation -- embarked on the first large-scale coral restoration project in Seychelles following the mass coral bleaching as a result of the El Niño phenomenon of 1998. The Reef Rescuers project was funded through a grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to combat climate change-induced coral bleaching in Seychelles. Choosing the coral fragments that had survived the destructive effects of the disruptive weather patterns brought about by the phenomenon, a group of marine ecologists embarked on creating an underwater nursery where nine different types of juvenile corals were planted and raised on ropes for almost a year, known as ‘the coral gardening’ method. »We explain the methods used in our coral reef restoration project and how we solved the problems encountered, using low-cost solutions with the limited resources found in a small island developing nation,” said Shah. In the Reef Rescuers project, the first to be done in the world, raised over 40,000 corals fragments in underwater nurseries and transplanted over 24,000 onto a 5,225-square metre of degraded reef -- the size of a football pitch -- at Cousin Island Special Reserve. The reserve is a 50-year old Marine Protected Area managed by the Nature Seychelles. A total of 23 staff and over 40 volunteer scientific divers from around the world helped to deliver the project. The toolkit was tested during the NGOs' first restoration training program. Participants contributed suggestions to the toolkit and have helped to cascade these field-tested methodologies, tools, and trained personnel to other areas across the globe. The new toolkit aims to be a companion for scientists, managers, practitioners and local communities who are facing a coral reef restoration challenge and require guidance.

7 steps that won the hotel L'Archipel an eco award in Seychelles

A tourism accommodation on the second-most populated island of Praslin, L’Archipel, has received for the first time the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label for integrating sustainability in its operations. L’Archipel -- located in the north-east region
Seychelles News Agency

7 steps that won the hotel L'Archipel an eco award in Seychelles

A tourism accommodation on the second-most populated island of Praslin, L’Archipel, has received for the first time the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label for integrating sustainability in its operations. L’Archipel -- located in the north-east region of Praslin at the end of the Côte d'Or Bay -- has 18 deluxe rooms, five superior rooms, seven senior suites and two family suites nestled in a colourful and exotically scented tropical hillside garden. SNA presents the sustainable tourism projects the hotel has embarked on.   Energy Management Systems (EMS) All refurbished rooms in the hotel have been installed with EMS Systems with intelligent occupancy detection to control the rooms’ energy consumption. Guest comfort has been improved, condensation and humidity dramatically reduced while achieving a 30 percent saving of the in-room air-conditioning energy consumption. 88,000 kilowatt-hours are saved per year thus reducing the hotel's carbon footprint. (Hotel L'Archipel) Photo License: CC-BY   Solar Photovoltaic Panels  The hotel currently has 244 Solar PV Panels with an annual production of over 108,000 kilowatt hours which saves about 28,850 litres of diesel fuel annually.  Not burning this fuel saves 76.8 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide every year, the same effect as removing 16 cars from the road permanently. (Hotel L'Archipel) Photo License: CC-BY   LED Lighting  All refurbished rooms have been installed with efficient LED lighting reducing the rooms lighting energy demand by 80 percent.  (Hotel L'Archipel) Photo License: CC-BY   Innu-Science Biotechnology Cleaning - Green Cleaning The hotel has successfully implemented bio-technology cleaning in the restaurant and kitchen operations ensuring a hygienic and safe environment for guests and staff. The hotel has removed over 43,000 litres of toxic chemicals per year from their operation ensuring a sustainable future for the groundwater and ocean surrounding the property. (Hotel L'Archipel) Photo License: CC-BY   Ozone Wash Cleaning   The hotel effectively uses ozone cold water cleaning on their dishwashing machines to reduce their energy consumption per year.    The Last Straw Policy  In line with the national effort to 'save our seas', the hotel is no longer giving straws with drinks. (Hotel L'Archipel) Photo License: CC-BY   Food Waste programme “Don’t Waste, Eat” L’Archipel has embarked on the programme to reduce the amount of food being wasted. In doing, it is able to make savings and also reduce the amount of garbage pickup. This practice reduces carbon emissions related to transportation and decomposition at the landfill.  

Ankara train crash leaves nine dead, 86 injured

Nine people were killed and nearly 90 injured after a high-speed train crashed into a locomotive in the Turkish capital on Thursday, officials said, becoming the latest rail disaster to hit the country. The accident comes less than six months after 24 peopl
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Ankara train crash leaves nine dead, 86 injured

Nine people were killed and nearly 90 injured after a high-speed train crashed into a locomotive in the Turkish capital on Thursday, officials said, becoming the latest rail disaster to hit the country. The accident comes less than six months after 24 people were killed in a train crash in northwestern Turkey in a series of several fatal accidents in recent years. Transport Minister Cahit Turhan told reporters that three of those killed were operators of the train. One of the victims died in hospital, he added. Amomg those killed was a German citizen, a source in the Ankara governor's office told AFP, confirming reports in German media. The Ankara public prosecutor said 86 people were injured. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca earlier said 34 of those injured were still in hospital for treatment. Two were in a serious condition, Koca added on Twitter. The fast train had been on its way from Ankara's main station to the central province of Konya. According to Hurriyet daily, there were 206 passengers on board. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said three people had been detained. In a speech in Ankara, he vowed those responsible would be held to account. The three were employees of the Turkish state railways agency who were detained over suspected negligence, according to state news agency Anadolu. Ankara governor Vasip Sahin said the accident happened «after the 6.30 high-speed train to Konya hit a locomotive tasked with checking rails on the same route.» - Debris scattered on tracks - Turhan said the accident took place six minutes after the train left Ankara as it entered the Marsandiz station. The governor said «technical investigations» were under way to find out exactly what caused the crash in Yenimahalle district. The capital's chief prosecutor launched an investigation into the crash, Anadolu said. Images published by Turkish media showed some wagons had derailed and debris from the train scattered on the track, which was covered in snow. The windows of one wagon were completely broken while another wagon had been smashed after hitting the footbridge, which also collapsed, an AFP correspondent at the scene said. The correspondent saw at least seven bodies taken away as rescue workers searched the blue and white wagons covered with debris. Turkish Red Crescent relief workers distributed blankets and tea to the survivors, who were gathered on a road near the scene that had been blocked to traffic. A female witness whose name was not given told NTV broadcaster that the passenger train had not yet increased its speed when the crash happened. A relative of one of those aboard the train told the channel that some passengers had broken windows and then safely exited the wagons. One of those killed was Berahitdin Albayrak, a science lecturer and former vice-chancellor at Ankara University, the institution said on Twitter. Later trains from Konya to Ankara and vice versa were cancelled. - Recent rail disasters - The Ankara to Konya high-speed route was launched in 2011 and was followed in 2014 with a high-speed link between Ankara and Istanbul. In July 24 people were killed and hundreds more injured after a train derailed in Tekirdag province, northwest Turkey, due to ground erosion following heavy rains. In March 2014, a commuter train smashed into a minibus on a railway track in the southern Turkish province of Mersin, which left 10 dead. In January 2008, nine people were killed when a train derailed in the Kutahya region south of Istanbul because of faulty tracks. Turkey's worst rail disaster in recent history was in July 2004 when 41 people were killed and 80 injured after a high-speed train derailed in the northwestern province of Sakarya. © Agence France-Presse

International Monetary Fund says Seychelles' economic development is on track

The Seychelles' economic development programme is on track and authorities remain committed to safeguarding the hard-won economic stability, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Monday. The statement was made after the completion of the IMF's second re
Seychelles News Agency

International Monetary Fund says Seychelles' economic development is on track

The Seychelles' economic development programme is on track and authorities remain committed to safeguarding the hard-won economic stability, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Monday. The statement was made after the completion of the IMF's second review under the Policy Coordination Instrument (PCI) for Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, on December 7, 2018. The review was conducted earlier this year and was led by an IMF delegation led by deputy chief Amadou Sy. The IMF executive board welcomes Seychelles’ assurance that the large infrastructure and climate change related projects planned in the coming years would be implemented within the fiscal targets set in the PCI. “Seychelles’ macroeconomic performance continued to be robust in 2018. Real GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth is estimated to reach around 3½ percent, reflecting strong output in the fishery industry and the information and communications sector,” said Tao Zhang, deputy managing director following the board’s discussion. Zhang said that the Seychelles’ authorities are committed to the programme’s fiscal anchor of reducing public debt below 50 percent of GDP by the end of 2021. “The authorities’ 2019 budget submitted to the National Assembly is in line with the program objectives. The authorities intend to implement large infrastructure projects in coming years within the envelope of the program’s primary surplus target of 2½ percent of GDP,” he added. A proposed national budget of nearly SCR8.5 billion ($625 million) for 2019 was presented last month to the National Assembly by Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, the Minister of Finance, Trade, Investment and Economic Planning. It represents an increase of 6.6 percent compared to the 2018 budget. IMF welcomed the prudent monetary policy of the Central Bank which has helped contain inflationary pressures but said the bank should stay vigilant and maintain the flexible exchange rate policy. Following a meeting with the IMF delegation in October, the governor of the Central Bank of Seychelles,  Caroline Abel, said that inflation is occurring because  "since the last two years although revenue is going up, we are seeing that the expenses of the country are rising. This is why the pressure in prices is not going down. Our exchange rate is still depreciating because we are still demanding for foreign exchange.” The Central Bank had announced in September that it is maintaining the tight monetary policy stance.  IMF also commented on the steps Seychelles has taken to strengthen the anti-money laundering and countering of financing terrorism framework. The local Financial Investigation Unit announced in October that a proposed law to counter money laundering in Seychelles will be presented to the National Assembly early next year.  The bill has already been approved by the Cabinet of Ministers. The new law will make it mandatory for all transactions valued above $14,000 (SCR20, 000) to go through the banking system IMF said that strong tourism earnings have helped narrowed the island nation’s external current account and that targets on the primary fiscal surplus and net international reserves up to end-June 2018 were met by a comfortable margin. “While rising international fuel prices could adversely affect inflation and external balance, the economic outlook continues to be favourable. Downside risks to the outlook are largely stemming from external shocks, including from possible weaknesses in the key tourism markets and global banks’ withdrawal of correspondent banking relationships,” said IMF. Seychelles is the first IMF member country to request a PCI which was approved by the executive board last December to support efforts to reinforce macroeconomic stability and foster growth.  

May faces angry MPs with Brexit deal in limbo

Prime Minister Theresa May faces an angry parliament Wednesday after delaying a key vote on her Brexit deal in a desperate move that leaves the agreement and her own future in limbo. The British leader toured European capitals on Tuesday in an attempt to sal
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May faces angry MPs with Brexit deal in limbo

Prime Minister Theresa May faces an angry parliament Wednesday after delaying a key vote on her Brexit deal in a desperate move that leaves the agreement and her own future in limbo. The British leader toured European capitals on Tuesday in an attempt to salvage the deal, after MPs savaged its provisions on the issue of the Irish border. May said she wanted «assurances» from EU leaders that if Britain ever entered the so-called «backstop» arrangement for the border, this would only be «temporary». But she also said it was «the best deal available», adding: «There's no deal available that doesn't have a backstop». She received sympathy from EU partners but firm rejections of any attempt to reopen the agreement, which was approved by EU leaders last month following tortuous negotiations. «There is no room whatsoever for renegotiation but of course there is room, if used intelligently, to give further clarification,» European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said ahead of talks with May on Tuesday. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there was «no way to change» the deal after meeting May. Meanwhile EU President Donald Tusk said bloc leaders wanted to help the prime minister but added: «The question is how». - 'Down to the wire' - May on Monday told MPs she was postponing a critical vote on the deal scheduled for Tuesday, admitting that it faced rejection and promising to consult EU leaders in an effort to get additional reassurances on the backstop. She has said the vote will now be held before January 21. On her whistlestop tour, she also met Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and is headed to Dublin on Wednesday for talks with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar before an EU summit on Thursday. «I doubt if she really knows what she's going to achieve,» said Pippa Catterall, professor of history and policy at the University of Westminster. Catterall said that May could be trying «to take it down to the wire... so in the end parliament is faced with the choice: my deal or no deal». After her weekly Prime Minister's Questions at 1200 GMT, May will chair her first cabinet meeting since she announced the vote delay where ministers will discuss stepping up preparations for a no-deal Brexit. If no deal is approved by parliament, Britain will crash out of the European Union on March 29 -- a prospect that could trigger economic chaos. - Government in 'disarray' - The main opposition Labour Party has said the government is in «disarray» but is so far holding off on pushing ahead with a no confidence vote to attempt to topple May. The Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats, which are both anti-Brexit, have urged Labour to do so and are hoping this could lead to a second referendum. A few EU supporters within May's own Conservative Party are also calling for another popular vote, while Brexit hardliners are urging fellow Conservative to oust her. A lot will hinge on what the Democratic Unionist Party, whose 10 MPs prop up the government, will do. The DUP have indicated they will not vote against May on a confidence motion for now but have demanded that she jettison the backstop. © Agence France-Presse

Maldives applies to rejoin Commonwealth: president's office

The Maldives has applied to rejoin the Commonwealth, reversing a policy of isolation under autocratic leader Abdulla Yameen who suffered a shock defeat in September. His successor, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, wrote to the 53-member bloc on Friday seeking readmiss
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Maldives applies to rejoin Commonwealth: president's office

The Maldives has applied to rejoin the Commonwealth, reversing a policy of isolation under autocratic leader Abdulla Yameen who suffered a shock defeat in September. His successor, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, wrote to the 53-member bloc on Friday seeking readmission two years after Yameen pulled the atoll nation out of it, the president's office said Sunday. Yameen withdrew the Maldives, an archipelago of 340,000 Sunni Muslims, from the Commonwealth after it mounted pressure on him to protect human rights and ensure the rule of law amid a ferocious crackdown on dissent. Solih's office said the new president's administration believed in the values of the bloc, which consists mainly of former territories and colonies of the British empire. «The Maldives' interest in re-joining the Commonwealth stems from a deep conviction that the values and principles enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter are more vital than ever,» the president's office said in a statement. The 54-year-old took office last month after winning a landslide election victory despite Yameen waging a crackdown on his political rivals and jailing most of the opposition. The former British protectorate faced persistent international pressure during Yameen's iron-fisted tenure. The strongman accused the London-based Commonwealth Secretariat of interfering in the nation's affairs. During Yameen's reign, the United States had repeatedly warned democracy was under serious threat in the strategically-located archipelago sitting on key international shipping lanes. Since Solih's election, political prisoners have been freed and opposition figures in exile have returned home. Solih has warned of a «dire» economic crisis in the Maldives and asked regional power India for help. Yameen had drifted closer to China and the Maldives saw its foreign debt balloon under his leadership. © Agence France-Presse

New lounge with island flair opens at airport in Seychelles

AVANI Seychelles Barbarons Resort and Spa aims to enhance the experience of travellers going through the Seychelles International Airport after the recent opening of a new lounge.  The chairman of the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority, David Savy, said th
Seychelles News Agency

New lounge with island flair opens at airport in Seychelles

AVANI Seychelles Barbarons Resort and Spa aims to enhance the experience of travellers going through the Seychelles International Airport after the recent opening of a new lounge.  The chairman of the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority, David Savy, said that on average one million passengers pass through the airport of Seychelles each year on both domestic and international flights. “The demand for this facility is beginning to be felt and the AVANI’s lounge is among the largest in the airport, giving passengers even more choice in terms of lounge,” said Savy. The newly opened CIP lounge -- Commercial Important Person lounge -- is one of four at the airport and has the capacity to welcome 250 persons standing and 120 sitting. Called the CIP Payanke Lounge, after the Creole name of the white-tailed tropicbird, the lounge was officially opened on December 6. The tourism minister, Didier Dogley, said that he is pleased that such a name was chosen as it reflects the uniqueness of Seychelles. “It's a name that ties us to our history and even the carpet is shaped like a coco de mer. I'm sure this new facility will improve the airport in general,” said Dogley. The General Manager of AVANI Seychelles Resort Barbarons & Spa, Stephane Vilar, said the decoration of the lounge was meticulously chosen to incorporate different components of Seychelles. “We contacted local artists through the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry for products that are on sale in the lounge,” said Vilar. Located above the current domestic terminal at the airport, the CIP Payanke Lounge is open to all travellers. In the first phase of the project, visitors have access to a playing area for children, showers and a restaurant which offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast is from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. at a cost of almost $40 for adults and $20 for children aged five to eleven. For lunch and dinner, guests can be served an array of salads, cold and hot dishes at $108 for adults and $54 for children aged five to eleven. A selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are also available. All meals are free for children under five. The lounge operates daily from 6 a.m. to 11.30 p.m. The second phase in the development of the CIP lounge will include a spa due to be operational in 2019. Savy said that once renovations which are currently being carried out at the airport are completed, the Seychelles International Airport will change completely and the domestic and international terminal will be merged into one. 

Seychelles expected to recruit more teachers from Zambia to address shortage

The Seychelles’ Ministry of Education is expected to recruit more teachers from Zambia to compensate for the shortage of teachers in state schools, said a top official on Monday.  The recruitment will be done through a memorandum of understanding that wi
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles expected to recruit more teachers from Zambia to address shortage

The Seychelles’ Ministry of Education is expected to recruit more teachers from Zambia to compensate for the shortage of teachers in state schools, said a top official on Monday.  The recruitment will be done through a memorandum of understanding that will be signed with the Zambian Ministry of Education. The principal secretary for early childhood, primary and secondary, Odile De Commarmond, told the press that this move will help the ministry in addressing a shortage of teachers. “For the time being, we have 46 vacancies available at the secondary level. However, it doesn’t mean that we are going to fill all these vacancies with teachers from Zambia only,” she said. De Commarmond added that “this is because there are some specific subjects such as religion, French and physical education which we do not require or cannot be taught by Zambians.” There are 35 primary and secondary state schools in Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean. Presently, there are 1,050 teachers, including 173 foreigners, working in state schools on the three main islands of Mahe, Praslin, and La Digue.  Early this year, the Ministry of Education took in a group of Zambian teachers to work in the educational sector, mainly at the secondary level.  “For these teachers, we are still looking at the pace of their adaptation to the system to see if there are any setbacks and how we can move forward,” said the principal secretary.   De Commarmond explained that for the Zambian teachers the first thing that the Zambian needs to adapt to “is the school curriculum as in their country they have their own examination system and they do not train students for International Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE).” The Zambian teachers will be teaching science, maths, geography, information communication and technology (ICT), and design and technology which are subjects in Zambia’s educational system. De Commarmond said Zambia has offered to help because it has a surplus of professional teachers.   Apart from Zambia, the Ministry of Education is also recruiting teachers from Mauritius and is exploring possibilities with Fiji, Madagascar and Philippines.  

Somalia in crisis as president faces impeachment motion

Somalia was plunged into fresh political problems on Monday after a motion to impeach President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed for alleged abuse of office cleared a key hurdle. Parliament speaker Mohamed Mursal agreed late Sunday to accept the motion, signed by 9
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Somalia in crisis as president faces impeachment motion

Somalia was plunged into fresh political problems on Monday after a motion to impeach President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed for alleged abuse of office cleared a key hurdle. Parliament speaker Mohamed Mursal agreed late Sunday to accept the motion, signed by 92 out of 275 legislators. The document accuses the president, commonly known as Farmajo, of violating the constitution «by engaging (in a) secret memorandum of understanding with foreign countries.» It specifies control over Somalia's ports «and uniting the country with Ethiopia and Eritrea.» The motion was filed a month after Farmajo met Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki for talks on cementing economic ties between their once-rival nations. The tri-nation diplomatic breakthrough was made possibly by a rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea, engineered by Abiy. The impeachment motion will succeed if its sponsors muster support from at least two-thirds of the 275 legislators in the federal parliament. Observers say the target will be hard to reach, given the entrenched factionalism of Somali politics. A date for the vote has yet to be set. The two deputy speakers held a press conference to distance themselves from involvement in the impeachment motion. “The speaker rushed to receive this document, which gives us the feeling that he was angry with something,« said the first deputy speaker, Abdiweli Ibrahim Mudey. »We want to inform the public that our friend Mohamed Mursal will take responsibility for any consequences." Mudey added that, under the constitution, any impeachment motion should be scrutinised by a Constitutional Court, but the long-troubled country does not currently have such a tribunal. Farmajo was elected by parliament in February 2017 in a vote seen as a major step forward for a country devastated by years of civil war. Political life has been relatively calm since then, punctuated by a spell of turmoil earlier this year when Speaker Mursal's predecessor, Mohamed Jawari, quit in a power struggle with the government. Outside politics, regional conflict still grips the north of the country and al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadists are pursuing a bloody campaign to overthrow the government. © Agence France-Presse

Seychellois basketball teams in the lead at regional club championship

Two teams from Seychelles are leading the Indian Ocean basketball club championship taking place in the island nation from December 5-11. Premium Cobras is first in the men’s category after winning all five matches. On the women’s side, Mont Fleuri is le
Seychelles News Agency

Seychellois basketball teams in the lead at regional club championship

Two teams from Seychelles are leading the Indian Ocean basketball club championship taking place in the island nation from December 5-11. Premium Cobras is first in the men’s category after winning all five matches. On the women’s side, Mont Fleuri is leading with victories in all three matches. The 14th edition of the Indian Ocean Club championship, which will end on Tuesday, serves as the qualifiers for the African Club Championships of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA).   There are three foreign teams from the region participating in the event. On the Mauritian side are Mahebourg Flippers and Malagasy club COSPN in the men’s category and UCM from Comoros on the women’s side. Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, is being represented by the men’s league champion Premium Cobras and runner-up Beau Vallon Heat and Mont Fleuri -- the women’s champion -- and runner-up B Challenge.   Due to the low turnout, the tournament’s technical committee decided to have the competition played on the FIBA league format. Tony Juliette, the spokesperson of the Seychelles Basketball Federation, told SNA on Monday that usually the competition was played on a knock-out basis and ended in a final. “This year the format was changed and is being played like the Euro league format which each team playing against each other twice and the team with the most points in each of the two categories at the end wins the title,” said Juliette. Three matches are on the programme for Tuesday at the Palais de sports at Roche Caiman. In the men’s category, at 3 p.m. Mauritian Mahebourg Flippers will face Beau Vallon Heat and at 7 p.m. Premium Cobras will meet COSPN Madagascar. In the women's category, only one match is left and that will be played at 5 p.m. between the two Seychelles sides B Challenge and Mont Fleuri.   

Heavy screen time appears to impact childrens' brains: study

Researchers have found «different patterns» in brain scans among children who record heavy smart device and video game use, according to initial data from a major ongoing US study. The first wave of information from the $300 million National Inst
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Heavy screen time appears to impact childrens' brains: study

Researchers have found «different patterns» in brain scans among children who record heavy smart device and video game use, according to initial data from a major ongoing US study. The first wave of information from the $300 million National Institute of Health (NIH) study is showing that those nine and 10-year-old kids spending more than seven hours a day using such devices show signs of premature thinning of the cortex, the brain's outermost layer that processes sensory information. «We don't know if it's being caused by the screen time. We don't know yet if it's a bad thing,» said Gaya Dowling, an NIH doctor working on the project, explaining the preliminary findings in an interview with the CBS news program 60 Minutes. «What we can say is that this is what the brains look like of kids who spend a lot of time on screens. And it's not just one pattern,» Dowling said. The NIH data reported on CBS also showed that kids who spend more than two hours a day on screens score worse on language and reasoning tests. The study -- which involves scanning the brains of 4,500 children -- eventually aims to show whether screen time is addictive, but researchers need several years to understand such long-term outcomes. «In many ways, the concern that investigators like I have is, that we're sort of in the midst of a natural kind of uncontrolled experiment on the next generation of children,» Dimitri Christakis, a lead author of the American Academy of Pediatrics' most recent guidelines on screen time, told 60 Minutes. Initial data from the study will begin to be released in early 2019. The academy now recommends parents «avoid digital media use -- except video chatting -- in children younger than 18 to 24 months.» © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles exploring waste-to-energy strategy to reduce dependence on limited landfills

The Seychelles’ environment ministry is looking into the possibility of building a waste-to-energy plant and having a more sustainable waste management strategy, a top official said on Monday.  A waste-to-energy plant is a facility that produces clean an
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles exploring waste-to-energy strategy to reduce dependence on limited landfills

The Seychelles’ environment ministry is looking into the possibility of building a waste-to-energy plant and having a more sustainable waste management strategy, a top official said on Monday.  A waste-to-energy plant is a facility that produces clean and renewable energy through the combustion of municipal waste; it can reduce the amount of waste by up to 90 percent, the remaining of which is disposed of in landfills. “By the end of the month or early next year we will make it possible for the private sector, both local and international, or even jointly, for any interested party to submit their expression of interest to invest in a waste-to-energy plant or facility in the country,” said Alain Decommarmond, the principal secretary of environment. Decommarmond added that an area has already been identified for the potential plant at Providence, where the two landfills are located. With land being scarce in Seychelles -- a 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean -- the government has been looking at ways to reduce waste.  The waste-to-energy plant is one of the strategies the Ministry of Environment is looking into under the newly endorsed National Waste Policy for the next five years -- 2018 to 2023.  The main goal of the policy is to manage waste in a sustainable manner in order to protect the environment and improve the quality of life in Seychelles. “Waste management is a top priority for the Ministry of Environment as it touches all aspects in the country, including economic, social and the protection of the environment,” said Decommarmond. Approved by the Cabinet of Ministers last week, the policy also addresses the handling and disposal of all waste including hazardous and electronic waste. One strategy to help reduce the amount of waste generated in the country is to restrict certain products from coming into the country, especially when importers have the option to bring in more environmentally friendly alternatives. “We have clearly outlined that the responsibility to deal with waste is not solely the responsibility of the government or the authority. The importer bringing in the commodity has to also think of how to contribute towards getting rid of the waste,” said Decommarmond. He added that this will be facilitated and guided through strategies that the government will put in place. The waste can either be managed locally or a system can be put in place where the waste will be collected and exported. “The policy also looks at opportunities to recycle or redeem some waste and it is important to work with the private sectors to export them,” added Decommarmond. According to the Seychelles Sustainable Development Strategy (2012-2020), the 95,000 inhabitants of the island nation generates about 48,000 tonnes of waste per year.

China summons US ambassador over Huawei arrest

China summoned the US ambassador on Sunday to protest the arrest of a top executive from telecom giant Huawei in Canada, as Washington's top trade negotiator rejected suggestions that the case could affect talks aimed at settling a trade war. The arrest of H
Seychelles News Agency

China summons US ambassador over Huawei arrest

China summoned the US ambassador on Sunday to protest the arrest of a top executive from telecom giant Huawei in Canada, as Washington's top trade negotiator rejected suggestions that the case could affect talks aimed at settling a trade war. The arrest of Huawei's chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou has infuriated Beijing, which demanded Washington drop its extradition request, and stoked tensions during the trade war truce between China and the United States. Meng faces US fraud charges related to alleged sanctions-breaking dealings with Iran. But with negotiations underway against a «hard deadline» of March 1 to settle the tariff dispute between the world's two biggest economies, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said he did not expect the arrest to disrupt the talks. Meng, the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, is in custody awaiting a Canadian court's decision on bail on Monday. Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng summoned US ambassador Terry Branstad one day after he called in Canadian envoy John McCallum to voice China's displeasure. «Le Yucheng pointed out that the US side has seriously violated the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens, and the nature of the violation is extremely bad,» the foreign ministry said in a statement. «The Chinese side firmly opposes this and strongly urges the United States to attach great importance to China's solemn and just position,» it said. China also urged the United States to «take immediate measures to correct wrong practices, and revoke the arrest warrant against the Chinese citizen.» The statement warned that Beijing would make an unspecified «further response» in light of the US actions. - Lengthy extradition process - In a case which shook investors and rattled the markets, Meng was arrested in Vancouver while changing planes on December 1, the same day that US President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping agreed to a truce in their trade battle and gave negotiators three months to find a compromise. Although Trump last week tweeted that the talks would end after 90 days «unless extended,» Lighthizer said on Sunday that March 1 is a firm deadline. «When I talked to the president of the United States he's not talking about going beyond March,» Lighthizer said on CBS's «Face the Nation.» «If there is a deal to be gotten, we want to get it in the next 90 days.» He also said that Meng's arrest «shouldn't really have much of an impact» on the talks, although he conceded that the Chinese might see it that way. «For us, it's unrelated» to trade policy matters. «It's criminal justice.» Separately, White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow denied reports that Trump was «livid» that the arrest of Meng occurred while Trump dined with Xi. «He didn't know,» Kudlow told «Fox News Sunday.» «He learned way later.» The world's top two economies have exchanged steep tariffs on more than $300 billion in total two-way trade, locking them in a conflict that has begun to eat into profits. Since taking office, Trump has waged an often-fierce offensive against Chinese trade practices, which he regularly brands as «unfair.» He sees the US trade deficit with China as a particular sore point, and the imbalance ballooned to a record $35.6 billion in November, official data showed on Saturday. Analysts say Meng could become a bargaining chip in the negotiations. In a bail hearing that was adjourned on Friday, Canadian Crown prosecutor John Gibb-Carsley asked for bail to be denied, saying Meng has been accused of «conspiracy to defraud multiple financial institutions.» He said if convicted, she faces more than 30 years in prison. The extradition process could take months, even years, if appeals are made in the case. Canada has a long-standing extradition treaty with the United States, requiring it to cooperate with US Department of Justice requests to hand over suspects. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said politics played no part in the decision to arrest Meng. Huawei said Friday that it would «continue to follow the bail hearing», expressing «every confidence that the Canadian and US legal systems will reach the right conclusion.» Huawei has denied any ties to the Chinese government, but many in Washington and other Western capitals are sceptical and have raised security concerns. US federal law already bans military and government use of devices made by Huawei and fellow Chinese firm ZTE. Influential Republican Senator Marco Rubio told «Face the Nation» that he plans to reintroduce legislation that would ban companies like Huawei from doing business in the US because they «pose a threat to our national interests.» © Agence France-Presse

Hearing impaired community in Seychelles to have a new centre next year

People with hearing impairment in Seychelles will have adequate space to conduct their activities in a new centre that will be established next year, said a member of the local association. The setting up of the centre, which is being spearheaded by a non-go
Seychelles News Agency

Hearing impaired community in Seychelles to have a new centre next year

People with hearing impairment in Seychelles will have adequate space to conduct their activities in a new centre that will be established next year, said a member of the local association. The setting up of the centre, which is being spearheaded by a non-government organisation -- Association of People with Hearing Impairment (APHI) -- will be located at the former maritime school in the central district of Mont Fleuri.  Anita Gardner, the chairperson of APHI, said that for too long the deaf community in Seychelles has been operating without a proper centre.   “As the association, we are operating in a small office and the students with hearing impairment are currently using a classroom at Au Cap School for learning. In general, we are dealing with more than 1,000 deaf people in Seychelles. We need a larger space where we can meet for educational purposes and conduct our activities” said Gardner. The centre will be funded through a Japanese grant of $76,000 (SCR1 million) for assisting grassroots human security Project. At the signing ceremony earlier this year, Shana David, a young deaf girl with hearing impairment, thanked the Japanese embassy on behalf of the deaf community. She said with the centre’s access to services and programmes it will be easier as everything will be under the same roof. David called on all deaf people including those on Praslin and La Digue to make use of the services once the centre is ready. Once renovation is completed on the building, the new centre will be the first of its kind in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, and equipped with modern facilities for people with hearing impairment. Gardner said, “The centre will be a one-stop hub for deaf people to receive a different kind of services. Therefore it is very important.” The centre is expected to provide educational services up to the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) level. The curriculum will be similar to that of state schools but teachers will be trained in sign language to facilitate teaching. “The aim is to also have qualified graduates coming from the deaf community in Seychelles. These people are deaf, but their brains are functioning very well. They should also be occupying key positions in employment,” said that Gardner. She added that “after completing their studies, the students will be able to acquire effective communication skills to integrate into employment, but in return, the government needs to be well prepared to accommodate these people.” The facilities at the centre will also be used by older people with hearing impairment as it will be equipped with trained interpreters which can help them with different things. 

In Mauritius, sugar cane means money, renewable energy

Far out into the Indian Ocean where it is forced to be self-reliant, the island nation of Mauritius is weaning itself off fossil fuels by turning to its main cash-crop sugar cane, for electricity. The leftover, crushed sugar cane stalks and tips -- dry fibro
Seychelles News Agency

In Mauritius, sugar cane means money, renewable energy

Far out into the Indian Ocean where it is forced to be self-reliant, the island nation of Mauritius is weaning itself off fossil fuels by turning to its main cash-crop sugar cane, for electricity. The leftover, crushed sugar cane stalks and tips -- dry fibrous material known as «bagasse» -- is burned to help power Mauritius and reduce its reliance on coal and oil. Electricity from sugar cane now accounts for 14 percent of the island's needs and, when combined with other renewable sources such as solar, wind and hydro, provides nearly a quarter of daily consumption. «The government's goal is to increase the share of renewable energy in the energy mix to 35 percent by 2025,» said deputy prime minister Ivan Collendavelloo who is also energy minister. «The 35 percent is not far off; we will have 11 solar parks by next year and at least two wind farms,» he said. «Independent producers in the sugar industry will continue to provide the largest share of renewable electricity from bagasse,» he added. In Mauritius, around 60 percent of the island's electricity is generated by four sugar companies, each running its own thermal power station. The plants run on coal for part of the year then switch to sugar cane byproducts when harvest season comes. - Power 24/7 - At the end of November, the harvest is in full swing in the fields surrounding the Omnicane company, in the south of the island. Heavy trucks pulling huge trailers are lined up next to an immense warehouse to unload their cargo of fresh-cut sugarcane. During the harvest, 8,500 tonnes are sent daily to this facility -- a total of around 900,000 tonnes for the year. The cane stalks are crushed to extract juice for sugar production. They are then soaked to extract the last juice and then heated to dry. Finally, squashed and dried, the stalks are fed into a thermal power station where they burn at 500 degrees Celsius, fuelling turbines that produce electricity for the plant and the national grid. «Electricity is available 24 hours a day, on demand, without having to wait for the wind or the sun, since we can store bagasse as we would oil and coal,» said Jacques D'Unienville, Omnicane's manager. And the carbon dioxide greenhouse gas produced by the burning? It is captured, according to D'Unienville, and used to add the fizz to soft drinks. - Cloud on horizon - However there are clouds on the horizon in the form of a drop in sugar prices since the European Union ended quotas in 2017, and increases in production in Thailand, Brazil and India, which together have put pressure on the island's farmers. Jacqueline Sauzier, secretary general of the Mauritius Chamber of Agriculture said falling sugar prices were «a fatal blow to the local sugar industry.» «The number of small farmers has fallen from 26,000 in 2010 to 13,000 in 2018,» said Agriculture Minister Mahen Kumar Seeruttun. The question is whether Mauritius will be able to produce enough sugar cane to meet its target for renewable, bagasse-based electricity. Some sugar producers are hoping that preferential treatment might provide an answer. «Mauritius is a small, vulnerable island. We do not have the capacity of Thailand, Brazil and India, but we are an efficient producer because we value the entire sugar production chain,» said D'Unienville. «We need protected access to preferential markets. Small countries should have quotas as a priority because we are very vulnerable,» he said. © Agence France-Presse

Downloads to support artists: Big Vibes is Seychelles' first online music store

In an effort to reduce music piracy and allow musicians to make more of a profit for their work, two artists in Seychelles earlier this week launched ‘Big Vibes,’ the island nation's first online music store. Big Vibes was initiated and developed by two
Seychelles News Agency

Downloads to support artists: Big Vibes is Seychelles' first online music store

In an effort to reduce music piracy and allow musicians to make more of a profit for their work, two artists in Seychelles earlier this week launched ‘Big Vibes,’ the island nation's first online music store. Big Vibes was initiated and developed by two Seychellois artists, Martin Lebon - known as Master Emel from popular local group Dezil - and Herrance Etienne, known as Xtra Big. Speaking to SNA, Lebon said that as artists, both he and Etienne understand the difficulties that artists face. “We are trying to find solutions to our own problems. One of our biggest problems is piracy. Until now, artists did not have an option to give clients a digital form of their songs. As fans could not buy specific songs they liked from an album, they saw it easier to make copies to send to families overseas. Now we are giving them an option,” he said. Lebon and Etienne wanted to create an opportunity for their fellow Seychellois artists to reduce their cost of production and marketing of their albums or singles and perhaps gain more. The online music store is a self-financed project that took the two artists over a year to complete. Lebon told SNA that presently artists rely mostly on the duplicating of CDs for the sales of their albums. “They spend over R45,000 ($3,200) to record, duplicate and market an album, but the return does not even cover costs because the price for an album has remained the same for many years. Artists fear raising the price as it may lower their sales,” he said. The online music store offers artists the chance to reduce such costs by duplicating less CD’s or make direct uploads after recording their songs. The founders are offering a rate of $9.50 per album and $1.50 per song downloaded. The artist will get 70 percent of the sales and the rest will go to ‘Big Vibes’ as a commission. The founders are offering a rate of $9.50 per album and $1.50 per song downloaded.(Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY Since it was launched earlier this week, three artists have uploaded their music and 20 more are in the process of enrolling. Lebon said that “in the long run artist can get access to factual statistics to compare to now that they are relying on word of mouth. Clients can comment, they can chat with artists. It offers more interaction.” The site also has a ‘Big Vibes TV’, whereby artists can upload their video clips, and Lebon said that soon a monetised system will be introduced like YouTube “but one that takes into consideration the Seychelles population that is small. This will help artist earn a little bit more but we are still working on the rates for that.” The site is well protected with MacAfee virus protector with 24 hours monitoring for any illegal transactions. It also has a merchandise store where they can order promotional items such as t-shirts, caps, mugs among others. Seychellois veteran artist Thomas Knowles said, “It’s a new market and new frontier for my music because the local market is dead. The online store is a new opportunity and I just uploaded my new album called ‘Sesel nou paradi’ on it.” Customers can get access to the online store on www.big-vibes.com and they can now benefit from a 5 percent discount on their purchases.

Hotel L'Archipel is 18th in Seychelles to earn sustainability label

A tourism accommodation on the second-most populated island of Praslin has received for the first time the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label for integrating sustainability in its operations. Hotel L’Archipel, represented by general manager Lucas d’Off
Seychelles News Agency

Hotel L'Archipel is 18th in Seychelles to earn sustainability label

A tourism accommodation on the second-most populated island of Praslin has received for the first time the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label for integrating sustainability in its operations. Hotel L’Archipel, represented by general manager Lucas d’Offay, received the certificate in a short ceremony at the headquarters of the Ministry of Tourism at the Botanical House in the central district of Mont Fleuri.  Speaking to SNA on Tuesday, d’Offay said, “This award represents a great achievement for all of us. Not only to the Hotel L’Archipel family but to all the people of Seychelles, especially the younger generations and to our future guests visiting our Islands.” The general manager said that getting the award has not been easy but thanks to the tireless work of the management and staff, the Hotel L’Archipel was able to fulfil all the criteria needed. “Over the past five years, Hotel L’Archipel has been looking at many ways of reducing our carbon footprint and ways in reducing our operational costs. It was not easy as we had to make sure that our guest satisfaction and comfort remains the same or better,” he said. L’Archipel is located in the north-east region of Praslin at the end of the Côte d'Or Bay. The hotel has 18 deluxe rooms, five superior rooms, seven senior suites and two family suites nestled in a colourful and exotically scented tropical hillside garden. Among the sustainable initiatives, the hotel has undertaken are installing energy management systems in refurbished rooms saving by 30 percent the air-conditioning energy consumption. The hotel has installed 244 solar panels with an annual production of 108,000 kilowatts and implemented bio-technology cleaning in the restaurant and kitchen operations ensuring a hygienic and safe environment for guests and staff.  In an effort to save the seas of Seychelles, Hotel L’Archipel is No longer giving straws with drinks in line with the country's initiative to ban single-use plastic straws. (Hotel L'Archipel) Photo License: CC-BY The Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label certificates are awarded to tourism accommodation only after they are found to be integrating sustainability practices in their business operations. The aim of the award is to encourage hotels of all sizes in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, to mainstream sustainability practices into their business operations to safeguard the biodiversity and culture of the island nation. During the ceremony, the certification of three other hotels was renewed -- Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa, Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay Resort & Casino and Constance Ephelia Resort. The certification to the three establishments was awarded two years ago. In a statement to the press on Wednesday, Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa located on Silhouette Island said various eco-projects were launched by the hotel this year. These include a ban on plastic at the resort which has been replaced by glass bottles filled with filtered water from the island’s own waterfall. In a short address, the Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, Didier Dogley, expressed his satisfaction at seeing the increasing interest of various hotels towards the sustainable tourism initiative. To date, the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label has been awarded to 18 hotel establishments in the island nation.  “Sustainability is the talk of the day. These past few months I have had a chance to engage in various debates regarding sustainability as a whole. From my past experiences and my recent encounters I am glad to say that Seychelles is one of the few countries with a robust national label, which lives up to the green reputation Seychelles has worldwide, said Dogley.

Cuba finally rolls out mobile 3G, though too costly for most

Cuba became one of the last countries in the world to get 3G mobile internet services on Thursday, though most citizens on the communist-run island won't be able to afford it. Cuba's internet provider Etecsa rolled out its 3G service from 8:00 am to answer p
Seychelles News Agency

Cuba finally rolls out mobile 3G, though too costly for most

Cuba became one of the last countries in the world to get 3G mobile internet services on Thursday, though most citizens on the communist-run island won't be able to afford it. Cuba's internet provider Etecsa rolled out its 3G service from 8:00 am to answer pent-up demand, though initially only for clients with numbers beginning with a 52 or 53 prefix. Others will have to cool their heels for a few more days before they can connect to the 21st Century. At $30 dollars for 4 gigabytes per month -- an average monthly wage -- the convenience will be too costly for most. The roll-out left Idalmist Mendoza a little frustrated on a Havana street. «The prices are a little bit high. But well, maybe with time, if there are a lot of people signing up, prices will go down,» said the bureau de change employee. According to government figures, some 5.3 million people on the island use mobile phones, a little under half the population of 11.2 million. Cubans have relied for years on WiFi zones in public parks and squares. There, it's common to see hundreds of people talking, laughing and crying into their phone screens, keeping in touch with some of the two million Cubans in exile. Etecsa's home internet service, Nauta Hogar, only has 60,000 clients. Their connections costs are often paid by family members aboard, as a means of keeping in touch. - 'People with money'- «Mobile internet in Cuba, it's for people with money, because those that don't have it won't be able to connect much,» said Hector David, 28. However, he was happy with the connection speed on his phone: «Fast, very fast. I talked and used up a few megabytes, I think, but then I switched to WhatsApp and it consumed much less.» Apart from 1,200 public WiFi zones, the government says there are 670 internet cafes around the Caribbean country, where connection charges are a dollar an hour. «We are continuing to advance on the computerization of our country,» President Miguel Diaz-Canel said in a congratulatory message on a Twitter account that he only opened in August. His example has since been followed by several ministers as his government tentatively embraces social media. Cuba, which has been under US embargo since 1962, signed an agreement with Google in late 2016 to ensure a faster connection to its content. «Mobile internet is a good option, but Etecsa really has to have the technical capacity to provide a stable service, not that this is what happened during the tests, when the servers were overwhelmed,» computer engineer Enrique Rivero told AFP. «Our internet service is probably the most expensive in the world,» when set against the standard of living of its clients, Rivero said. - Test of progress - Etecsa carried out several tests of its fledgling 3G service in recent months, but by its own admission they were disrupted by «connection problems and significant congestion of voice and data services due to the instability of part of the network.» Diaz-Canel, who took over from Raul Castro in April, visited the United States in September and held meetings with tech giants Google, AirBnB and Twitter on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting. For now, Cubans like Aguilera -- a homemaker from Havana -- will take this small, uncertain step towards progress. «It's not the same as connecting in a park, when you have the possibility to connect directly on your phone from anywhere,» she says. «It's very good for Cubans because it gives us one more chance to connect.» © Agence France-Presse

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