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China’s Xi handed historic third term as president



Xi Jinping was handed a third term as Chinese president on Friday, capping a rise that has seen him become the country’s most powerful leader in generations.

His appointment by China’s rubber-stamp parliament comes after Xi locked in another five years as head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in October.

Since then, the 69-year-old has weathered widespread protests over his zero-Covid policy and the deaths of countless people after its abandonment.

But those issues have been avoided at this week’s National People’s Congress (NPC), a carefully choreographed event that is also set to appoint Xi ally Li Qiang as the new premier.

On Friday, delegates handed Xi a third term as president and re-appointed him head of the country’s Central Military Commission in a unanimous vote.

Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, a cavernous state building on the edge of Tiananmen Square, was adorned with crimson carpets and banners for the landmark vote, with a military band providing background music.

A digital monitor on the edge of the stage proclaimed the final tally — all 2,952 votes had been cast in favour of giving Xi another term in office.

The announcement was followed by delegates’ fervent declarations of allegiance to the Chinese constitution, in a demonstration of loyalty and unanimity.

Xi held up his right fist and placed his left hand on a red, leather-bound copy of China’s constitution.

In an oath beamed live on state television, he vowed to “build a prosperous, strong, democratic, civilised, harmonious and great modern socialist country.”

China’s close ally Russia swiftly offered Xi its “sincere congratulations” on his re-election.

“Russia highly values your personal contribution toward the strengthening of ties… and strategic cooperation between our nations,” President Vladimir Putin said in a letter to his “dear friend” Xi.

– Remarkable rise –

Xi’s re-election is the culmination of a remarkable rise in which he has gone from being a little-known party apparatchik to the leader of a rising global power.

His coronation sets him up to become communist China’s longest-serving president, and means Xi could rule well into his seventies if no challenger emerges.

Xi’s bold ambitions for the country have translated into a domineering leadership style, with decisions reinforced by loyalists that have risen to top government positions during his decade at the helm.

And having taken power during a time when the CCP’s sway seemed to be wavering, he has worked hard to reverse trends that had threatened to weaken its centrality to Chinese society.

“The relentless Xi Jinping agenda of asserting party control over everything that moves is alive and well,” said Kevin Rudd, a former Australian prime minister and an expert on China, during a recent Asia Society forum.

“They’ve got two sets of really conflicting tensions: how to reenergise growth in the economy, and how to maintain ideological control over the private sector,” he added.

– Tearing up the rule book –

For decades, China — scarred by the dictatorial reign and cult of personality of founding leader Mao Zedong — eschewed one-man rule in favour of a more consensus-based, but still autocratic, leadership.

That model imposed term limits on the presidency, with Xi’s predecessors Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao relinquishing power after 10 years in office.

Xi has torn up that rule book, abolishing term limits in 2018 and allowing a cult of personality to foster his all-powerful leadership.

But the beginning of his unprecedented third term comes as the world’s second-largest economy faces major headwinds, from slowing growth and a troubled real estate sector to a declining birth rate.

To confront these challenges, Beijing needs to implement structural reforms, one analyst told AFP.

“That can’t happen without political change. The NPC confirms that there is no change,” J Capital Research co-founder and expert on the Chinese economy Anne Stevenson-Yang told AFP.

Relations with the United States are also at a low not seen in decades, with the powers sparring over everything from human rights to trade and technology.

“We will see a China more assertive on the global stage, insisting its narrative be accepted,” Steve Tsang, director of the  SOAS China Institute, told AFP.

“But it is also one that will focus on domestically making it less dependent on the rest of the world, and making the Communist Party the centrepiece of governance, rather than the Chinese government,” he said.

“It is not a return to the Maoist era, but one that Maoists will feel comfortable in,” Tsang added.

“Not a direction of travel that is good for the rest of the world.”


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Reuters’ report: NHRC seeks stakeholders support to investigate panel



The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has called on all relevant stakeholders to lend their support to the Special Independent Investigative Panel on Human Rights Violations in the Counter Insurgency Operations in the North East (SIIP NORTH EAST) .

To enable the NHRC to determine the veracity or otherwise of Reuters’ report of human rights infractions against the military.

The Commission recalls that in December 2022, the international news agency, Reuters published a three-part report alleging abortion of 10,000 pregnancies, infanticide and other forms of Sexual and Gender Based Violence against the Nigeria military.

The Executive Secretary of the Commission, Chief Tony Ojukwu OFR, SAN who made this call during his opening statement at the Stakeholders briefing on the activities of the (SIIP North East) noted that the Panel and the Commission need the support of all relevant stakeholders both at International, National and state levels.

“All arms of the UN Systems, International NGOS, Civil society Organizations, and interest groups such as Nigerian Bar Associations, FIDA, NMA and others are needed to enable this panel to record huge success in its investigation and fact finding. And we are calling on all the stakeholders to avail the panel of this much needed support”, Ojukwu added.

According to the Chief Human Rights Officer of Nigeria, this inquiry into the alleged human rights violations is critical despite denial by the Nigerian military which has openly submitted to an independent investigation of the report amidst increasing concerns raised by the international community.

The gravity of the allegation, the Executive Secretary noted, necessitated the National Human Rights Commission to establish and inaugurate this investigative panel in line with her mandate under the National Human Rights Commission Act, 1995(As amended).

“We can all recall that the Commission had previously setup various investigative panels such as the panel of enquiry on the Apo killings, the Baga killings, the first and second independent investigative panels on human rights violations by SARS and other arms of the Nigeria Police Force, the Special Investigative panel on SGBV, Investigative panel on oil spillage in the Niger Delta, just to mention a few”, he stated..

These panels, the NHRC Boss said, executed their mandate without bias by carrying out investigations into all the allegations that were brought before them.

“They came up with their findings and made recommendations which were forwarded to the Federal Government on various punishments to be meted out on those violators who were found culpable, recommendations for compensation from the Government and in some cases paid compensations Suo motto to victims who had legitimate cases. This panel will not be any different from that”, he stated.

In his speech at the occasion, the Chairman of the Panel, Justice Abdu Aboki (rtd) said the consultation will afford the panel an opportunity to brief stakeholders on the progress of the investigation so far as well as the challenges the panel has experienced while embarking on this important fact-finding mission.

According to the former Justice of the Supreme Court this consultation is also an occasion to give a progress report on the investigation to our partners in the media, who are no doubt very eager to get to the bottom of the allegations made by Reuters.

The eminent Jurist said the panel would need the support and cooperation of the stakeholders gathered, “Especially those of you who have been extensively involved in humanitarian efforts in the North-East part of Nigeria”.

“It is well known that the success or otherwise of similar fact-finding undertakings in other parts of the World are hugely determinant on the co-operation received by relevant stakeholders, parties and partners. It is our sincere hope that your attendance at this briefing is evidence of your desire to support the important work of this panel”, he added.

Thereafter, the Secretary of the Panel, Mr Hilary Ogbonna in his “general briefing note”, listed the various military formations and Borno state government institutions already visited by the panel, which include 7 Division of the Nigeria Army Hospital, Maimalari Barracks, Medical Centres of the Joint Investigation Centre (JIC), Giwa Barracks, State Specialist Hospital and Umaru Shehu Hospital.

Besides, he mentioned some of the challenges of the panel which included finance, need for extensive investigations, operational logistics, security situation and travel restrictions, availability of military witnesses considering the length and coverage of Reuters’ report, access to direct victims and non-cooperation by some international agencies etc.

On the next step, he revealed that there will be holding public hearing in Yobe and Adamawa states, and continuation of public hearing in Maiduguri for field offices of UN Agencies and International organisations and visits to civilian camps among others.

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Lagos: Five Governorship Candidates step down for Sanwo-Olu



Ahead of the Saturday, March 18 gubernatorial polls, nine political parties under the Alliance of Registered Political Parties (ARPP) have declared support for the reelection of the incumbent governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat in Lagos state.Governorship candidates of five of the political parties in the ARPP also stepped down for Mr Sanwo-Olu ahead of Saturday’s gubernatorial election.The political parties are the Young Progressives Party (YPP), Action Democratic Party (ADP), Action Peoples Party (APP), Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) and Allied Peoples Movement (APM). Others are the National Rescue Movement (NRM), the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP).The five governorship candidates that stepped down for Mr Sanwo-Olu are Adeyemi Abiola of APP, Adenipebi Mode-Adekunle of ZLP, and Funmi Kupoluyi of APM. Others are Ishola Bamidele of ADP and Ajayi Adebayo of the YPP.Addressing a news conference on Monday in Ikeja, Mr Adebayo, leader of ARPP, said, “We reached this decision sequel to our thorough analysis of all the good works and rapid development in Lagos state. We cannot sacrifice the various landmark achievements of the present administration scattered all over the state on the altar of bitter politicking.”The event was attended by the governorship candidates and representatives of the nine political parties in the ARPP.He said that Sanwo-Olu had delivered on his social contract with the people of Lagos through the THEMES mantra.The ARPP leader mentioned that the group concluded that it has in Mr Sanwo-Olu a governor committed to taking Lagos to greater heights in the years ahead.“Lagos state at a time like this is better entrusted in the hands of experienced and patriotic leaders. A vote for Sanwo-Olu will indeed be an endorsement for continuity and greater development,” noted Mr Adebayo. “This support is born out of love and desire for a greater Lagos state, which Sanwo-Olu has set the pace and deserves to drive it to fruition.”The ARPP leader added, “We seize this opportunity to inform and urge all our supporters to vote massively on Saturday, March 18 for Babajide Sanwo-Olu as governor and his deputy, Quadri Obafemi Hamzat.”(NAN)

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Serious Panic as Middle-aged man gets killed in Ibadan while on his way to mechanic workshop



Babalola Oladeji, a middle-aged Nigerian man, has been murdered.The man was allegedly killed yesterday, in Onireke area of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.A source who doesn’t want his name mentioned, told Sunday Vanguard that the said incident occurred late yesterday evening.The source said the victim was said to be on his way to his mechanic workshop when the incident happened.He explained that no one could explain the reason for the killing as they just heard a gunshot which made everyone run for cover.He said further that by the time they got back to the scene, the man was already dead.Another source said the perpetrators had initially fired a gun at the victim, but the bullet could not penetrate his body.This, action according to the source, made the assailants strangulate the victim until he gave up the ghost.Confirming the incident in a telephone conversation, the Oyo State Police Public Relations Officer, SP Adwwale Osifeso, said the investigation has commenced on the incident and it will be made available soon.“Full-scale investigation has commenced and it will be made public as soon as events unfold,” he stated.

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