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Ship sinks in Red Sea after attack by Houthis

The Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have launched dozens of missile and drone attacks targeting ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since Israel launched an invasion of Gaza…reports Asian Lite News

A Greek-owned ship sank in the Red Sea after being attacked by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels on Wednesday, reported CBS News citing the UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO).

The ship, a Liberian-flagged bulk carrier, also known as MV Tutor, is believed to be the second ship sunk by Houthis since March when the British registered vessel Rubymar was downed after being struck by ballistic missiles fired from Houthi territory in Yemen.

The Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have launched dozens of missile and drone attacks targeting ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since Israel launched an invasion of Gaza following the Hamas’ attack on Southern Israel in October last year.

Following the attacks by the Hamas terror group, tensions have boiled in the Middle East, with key regional actors condemning the humanitarian crises caused by the war, as reported by CNN.

However, the Tutor was first hit on June 12 by a smaller boat before being struck a second time by “an unknown airborne projectile,” the UKMTO stated.

Meanwhile, one crew member has been reportedly missing after the attack, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said last week.

After the ship’s entire crew were evacuated from the vessel, it began to drift before reportedly sinking on Tuesday, according to the UKMTO, reported CNN.

Earlier, a Houthi spokesperson said that the ship had been attacked by a sea drone, ballistic missiles and other drones for violating their so-called “ban to the occupied Palestinian ports.”

However, the CENTCOM shared on X that these ongoing threats to international commerce caused by the Houthis make it harder to deliver assistance to the Gaza and Yemeni people.

“The Houthis claim to be acting on behalf of Palestinians in Gaza and yet they are targeting and threatening the lives of third-country nationals who have nothing to do with the conflict in Gaza. The ongoing threat to international commerce caused by the Houthis in fact makes it harder to deliver badly needed assistance to the people of Yemen as well as Gaza,” the CENTCOM stated.

Earlier this month, CENTCOM launched attacks on Houthi radars which helped to facilitate the group’s ongoing assaults on ships in the Red Sea, the US Central Command said.

Notably, Israel launched its military offensive in October after the Hamas-terror group killed at least 1,200 people and abducted more than 250 others. (ANI)

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PM Modi Congratulates Ramaphosa on Re-election

PM Modi has indicated the need for further collaboration between the two countries…reports Asian Lite News

Ramaphosa, leader of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress, was elected during the First Sitting of the National Assembly of the 7th Parliament in Cape Town on June 15.

He will be sworn in by the country’s Chief Justice during the Presidential Inauguration scheduled to be held on June 19 at the Union Buildings in Tshwane under the theme ’30 years of Democracy; Partnership and Growth’.

“Warm congratulations, Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa on your re-election as the President of the Republic of South Africa. I look forward to working with you to further strengthen the India-South Africa strategic partnership,” PM Modi said in his congratulatory message to Ramaphosa on X.

The Presidential Inauguration follows the first sitting of the National Assembly of the Parliament and marks the beginning of the seventh administration and the President’s term of office.

India’s G20 Presidency last year had the largest-ever representation from Africa, including from South Africa (G20 member), Mauritius, Egypt, Nigeria, African Union (AU) Chair – Comoros, and African Union Development Agency-New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD).

Both India and South Africa are also key members of the BRICS grouping.

PM Modi has indicated the need for further collaboration between the two countries in various areas, including the gems and jewelry sector citing that both countries could explore avenues for direct procurement of diamonds.

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Ramaphosa re-elected South African president

The 71-year-old Ramaphosa secured his second term with the help of lawmakers from the country’s second biggest party, the Democratic Alliance, and some smaller parties…reports Asian Lite News

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was reelected by lawmakers for a second term on Friday, after his party struck a dramatic late coalition deal with a former political foe just hours before the vote.

Ramaphosa, the leader of the African National Congress, won convincingly in Parliament against a surprise candidate who was also nominated — Julius Malema of the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters. Ramaphosa received 283 votes to Malema’s 44 in the 400-member house.

The 71-year-old Ramaphosa secured his second term with the help of lawmakers from the country’s second biggest party, the Democratic Alliance, and some smaller parties. They backed him in the vote and got him over the finish line following the ANC’s loss of its long-held majority in a landmark election two weeks ago that reduced it to 159 seats in Parliament.

During a break in what turned out to be a marathon parliamentary session, the ANC signed the last-minute agreement with the DA, effectively ensuring Ramaphosa stays on as the leader of Africa’s most industrialized economy. The parties will now co-govern South Africa in its first national coalition where no party has a majority in Parliament.

The deal, referred to as a government of national unity, brings the ANC together with the DA, a white-led party that had for years been the main opposition and the fiercest critic of the ANC. At least two other smaller parties also joined the agreement.

Ramaphose called the deal — which sent South Africa into uncharted waters — a “new birth, a new era for our country” and said it was time for parties “to overcome their differences and to work together.”

“This is what we shall do and this is what I am committed to achieve as the president,” he said.

The ANC — the famed party of Nelson Mandela — had ruled South Africa with a comfortable majority since the end of the apartheid system of white minority rule in 1994.

But it lost its 30-year majority in the humbling national election on May 29, a turning point for the country. The vote was held against the backdrop of widespread discontent from South Africans over high levels of poverty, inequality and unemployment.

Analysts warn there might be complications ahead, though, given the starkly different ideologies of the ANC, a former liberation movement, and the centrist, business-friendly DA, which won 21% of the vote in the national election, the second largest share behind the ANC’s 40%.

For one, the DA disagreed with the ANC government’s move to accuse Israel of genocide in Gaza in a highly sensitive case at the United Nations’ top court.

The DA leader John Steenhuisen was the first to confirm the agreement.

“From today, the DA will co-govern the Republic of South Africa in a spirit of unity and collaboration,” he said as he stepped away from Friday’s proceedings for a speech carried live on television in which he said a deal was signed and that the DA lawmakers would vote for Ramaphosa for president.

The Parliament session started at 10 a.m. in the unusual setting of a conference center near Cape Town’s waterfront, after the city’s historic National Assembly building was gutted in a fire in 2022. The house first went through the hourslong swearing-in of hundreds of new lawmakers and electing a speaker and a deputy speaker.

The vote for president started late at night, with the results announced well after 10 p.m. Ramaphosa finished his acceptance speech as the clock ticked past midnight and into Saturday.

Former President Jacob Zuma’s MK Party boycotted the session but that did not affect the voting as only a third of the house is needed for a quorum.

ANC Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula said the party was open to talking with anyone else who wanted to join the unity government. There are 18 political parties represented in Parliament and he said the multi-party agreement would “prioritize the country across the political and ideological divide.”

Some parties, including Malema’s EFF, refused to join.

The two other parties that joined the coalition deal were the Inkatha Freedom Party and the Patriotic Alliance, which has drawn attention partly because its leader, Gayton McKenzie, served a prison sentence for bank robbery.

McKenzie said he had been given a second chance in life and that South Africa also had one now, a chance to solve its deep socioeconomic problems.

The ANC had faced a deadline to strike a coalition agreement as Parliament had to vote for the president within 14 days after election results were declared on June 2. The ANC had been trying to strike a coalition agreement for two weeks and the final negotiations went on overnight Thursday to Friday, party officials said.

South Africa has not faced that level of political uncertainty since the ANC swept to power in the 1994 first all-race election that ended nearly a half-century of racial segregation. Since then, every South African leader has come from the ANC, starting with Mandela.

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UNSC demands halt to siege of Sudan city of 1.8 mn people

UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Martin Griffiths, has called on G7 leaders to prevent manmade famine on the eve of the G7 summit in Italy…reports Asian Lite News

The United Nations Security Council on Thursday demanded a halt to the siege of Al-Fashir — a city of 1.8 million people in Sudan’s North Dafur region — by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and an immediate end to fighting in the area.

The 15-member council adopted a British-drafted resolution that also calls for the withdrawal of all fighters that threaten the safety and security of civilians in Al-Fashir, the last big city in the vast, western Darfur region not under RSF control.

War erupted in Sudan in April last year between the Sudanese army (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), creating the world’s largest displacement crisis. Top UN officials have warned that the worsening violence around Al-Fashir threatens to “unleash bloody intercommunal strife throughout Darfur.”

Earlier, UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Martin Griffiths, has called on G7 leaders to prevent manmade famine on the eve of the G7 summit in Italy.

“Famine in the 21st century is a preventable scourge. G7 leaders can and must wield their influence to help stop it. Waiting for an official declaration of famine before acting would be a death sentence for hundreds of thousands of people and a moral outrage,” said Griffiths on Wednesday in a statement.

Conflict is fueling hunger in too many corners of the world. But nowhere is the choice between inaction and oblivion so clear as in Gaza and Sudan, he added as quoted by Xinhua news agency report.

In Gaza, half of the population, or more than one million people, is expected to face death and starvation by mid-July; in Sudan, at least five million people are also teetering on the brink of starvation; in both Gaza and Sudan, intense fighting, unacceptable restrictions and meagre funding are preventing aid workers from delivering assistance necessary to prevent mass starvation, he said.

Griffiths asked G7 countries to immediately use their substantial political leverage and financial resources so that aid organisations can reach all people in need.

“But more than anything, the world must stop feeding the war machines that are starving the civilians of Gaza and Sudan. It is time instead to prioritise the diplomacy that will give people back their futures. And tomorrow, the G7 is at the helm,” he said.

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DR Congo weighs legal move against Apple in mining dispute

The DRC is rich in tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold — known as 3T or 3TG — that are used in producing smartphones and other electronic devices…reports Asian Lite News

The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo is studying legal action against Apple in France and the United States, after accusing the US tech giant of using “illegally exploited” minerals, its lawyers said Thursday.

In April, the DRC’s Paris-based lawyers said Apple had purchased key minerals smuggled from the DRC into neighboring Rwanda, where they were laundered and “integrated into the global supply chain.”

On Thursday, lawyer William Bourdon said that after receiving a formal notice, Apple had given only a “terse” response that could be considered “a form of contempt, cynicism and arrogance.”

The government’s lawyers were meeting in Kinshasa to discuss strategic options for the case, and held talks with President Felix Tshisekedi.

“The legal options are on the table” for both France and the United States, Bourdon said, adding that other challenges could be lodged in countries “on all the continents.”

The DRC is rich in tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold — known as 3T or 3TG — that are used in producing smartphones and other electronic devices.

The country’s mineral-rich Great Lakes region has been wracked by violence since regional wars in the 1990s.

Tensions resurged in late 2021 when rebels from the March 23 Movement (M23) began recapturing swathes of territory.

The DRC, the United Nations and Western countries accuse Rwanda of supporting rebel groups including M23 in a bid to control the region’s vast mineral resources, an allegation Kigali denies.

Apple said in April: “Based on our due diligence efforts… we found no reasonable basis for concluding that any of the smelters or refiners of 3TG determined to be in our supply chain as of December 31, 2023, directly or indirectly financed or benefited armed groups in the DRC or an adjoining country.”

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AI, energy, Africa to be in focus of PM’s G7 visit

The prime minister is likely to hold a number of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit…reports Asian Lite News

During the outreach session at the G7 summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi would focus be on artificial intelligence, energy, Africa, and the Mediterranean.

Modi said issues crucial for the Global South will also be deliberated upon at the Outreach session. The G7 summit, to be held in the luxury resort of Borgo Egnazia in Italy’s Apulia region from June 13 to 15, is expected to be dominated by the raging war in Ukraine and the conflict in Gaza.

“At the invitation of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, I am travelling to Apulia region in Italy to participate in the G7 Outreach summit on June 14,” Modi said. The prime minister said he was glad that his first visit in the third consecutive term is to Italy for the G-7 Summit.

“During the discussions at the Outreach session, the focus will be on artificial intelligence, energy, Africa, and the Mediterranean. It will be an opportunity to bring greater synergy between the outcomes of the G20 Summit held under India’s Presidency and the forthcoming G7 Summit, and deliberate on issues which are crucial for the Global South,” Modi said.

Modi will have a bilateral meeting with Italian Prime Minister Meloni.

“Prime Minister Meloni’s two visits to India last year were instrumental in infusing momentum and depth in our bilateral agenda. We remain committed to consolidating the India-Italy strategic partnership, and bolstering cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and the Mediterranean regions,” he said.

The prime minister is likely to hold a number of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit.

“I am also looking forward to meeting other leaders participating in the Summit,” he said.

The G7 comprises the US, the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Canada and Japan.

Italy is holding the current presidency of the G7 (Group of Seven) and is hosting the summit in that capacity. A key focus of the Italian presidency has been to defend the rules-based international system. According to Italy, Russia’s war of aggression on Ukraine has undermined its principles and triggered growing instability, with multiple crises unfolding worldwide.

The G7 will give equal importance to Israel’s war in Gaza, with its consequences for the global agenda, it says. The bloc expanded into the G8 between 1997 and 2013, with the inclusion of Russia.

However, Russia’s participation was suspended in 2014 following its annexation of Crimea. In line with the grouping’s tradition, representatives of a number of countries and international organisations are invited to the summit by the host nation that holds the chair.

Besides India, Italy has invited leaders from 11 developing countries in Africa, South America and the Indo-Pacific region to attend the summit. Though the European Union is not a member of the G7, it attends the annual summit.

“PM @narendramodi touches down at Brindisi airport in Apulia, Italy. Agenda includes participation in the Outreach session of the G7 Summit & substantive interactions with the global leaders on the sidelines. An action-packed day awaits!” the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, Randhir Jaiswal, wrote in a post on X.

Giving an overview of PM Modi’s day-long visit to Italy, Jaiswal posted another video, as he sketched out the details of the Prime Minister’s engagements with the world leaders on June 14.

“Namaste! The Prime Minister of India has arrived at Brindisi Airport in Italy to participate in the G7 Summit. Tomorrow is a packed day for him. We have several bilateral meetings with the world leaders lined up,” Jaiswal said in the video.

“He will also be addressing the outreach session of the G7 Summit,” he added.

The G7 summit is taking place at the luxurious Borgo Egnazia resort in Italy’s Apulia region from June 13-15. PM Modi is attending the summit at the invitation of Italian PM Giorgia Meloni.

Earlier, Modi, in his departure statement, said that he is glad that his first state visit in the third consecutive term is to Italy for the G7 Summit. He recalled his previous visit to Italy and Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s visits to India which have contributed significantly to enhancing bilateral ties.

“I am glad that my first visit in the third consecutive term is to Italy for the G-7 Summit. I warmly recall my visit to Italy for the G20 Summit in 2021. Prime Minister Meloni’s two visits to India last year were instrumental in infusing momentum and depth in our bilateral agenda. We remain committed to consolidate the India-Italy strategic partnership, and bolster cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and the Mediterranean regions,” Modi had said.

ALSO READ-Korea-Africa Summit kicks off to boost economic ties 

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Korea-Africa Summit kicks off to boost economic ties 

The Korea-Africa Summit brought together delegations from 48 African nations, including 25 heads of state…reports Asian Lite News

The inaugural summit between Korea and African nations kicked off Tuesday to discuss expanding economic ties and cooperation in supply chain and development with the resource-rich countries.

The Korea-Africa Summit brought together delegations from 48 African nations, including 25 heads of state. The main session will be held on the first day, followed by a business summit focused on trade and investment Wednesday.

The gathering, the largest multilateral summit hosted by the administration of President Yoon Suk Yeol, takes place as Korea is exploring ways to bolster economic ties with Africa, a massive consumer market with a population of 1.4 billion and a GDP of $3.4 trillion.

Currently, Korea’s trade with Africa only accounts for 1.9 percent of the nation’s total trade.

Africa’s mass consumer market and abundant resources have drawn attention from Korea, a major energy importer and home to the world’s leading chipmakers and battery producers.

On the occasion of the summit, a memorandum of understanding on the “Key Minerals Cooperation Partnership” will be signed to strengthen related cooperation, according to the presidential office.

Yoon and Mauritania President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, the chair of the African Union, will issue a joint statement at the end of the summit.

On the sidelines of the main session, Yoon plans to separately hold bilateral meetings with the leaders of Kenya, Madagascar, Liberia and Ghana.

Since Friday, Yoon has met 13 African leaders to sign a slew of agreements to pave the way for expanding trade and investment and cooperation in critical minerals, technology collaboration and joint exploration.

The countries include Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Ivory Coast, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, Togo, Rwanda, Mozambique, Sao Tome and Principe, Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde.

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‘Efforts underway to restore internet in East Africa’

Mugonyi directed the service providers to take proactive steps to secure alternative routes for their traffic…reports Asian Lite News

Kenya’s telecommunications industry regulator said on Monday that efforts are underway to restore internet services that have been disrupted across East Africa.

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) confirmed that a deep-sea fiber cut occurred on Sunday at South Africa’s Mtunzini teleport station, affecting a number of fiber cables serving Kenya, including the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy) and the Seacom cables, Xinhua news agency reported.

“We wish to inform individual and corporate consumers that the recovery process has since commenced, but internet intermittency and slow speeds may remain in the coming few days before services are fully recovered,” CA Director General David Mugonyi said in a statement issued in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.

Mugonyi directed the service providers to take proactive steps to secure alternative routes for their traffic and is monitoring the situation closely to ensure that incoming and outbound internet connectivity is available.

According to Ben Roberts, group chief technology and innovation officer at Liquid Intelligent Technologies, a pan-African internet services provider, the outages on the two submarine fiber cables that connect Kenya and South Africa severely impacted internet services in nations in East Africa.

Ben added that three crucial submarine cables in the Red Sea, Seacom, Europe India Gateway (EIG), and Asia-Africa-Europe 1 (AAE-1), have also suffered cuts and remain unrepaired, leading to the widespread outage.

The immediate cause of the faults, which are reportedly affecting the Eassy and Seacom cable systems that run along Africa’s east coast, could not be established.

However, according to West Indian Ocean Cable Company operating (Wiocc), an investor in the Eassy cable system, Eassy has experienced a cut between South Africa and Mozambique.

Kenyan operator Safaricom, which confirmed the outage on Sunday, said they were working on restoring a stable internet connection.

“We have experienced an outage on one of the undersea cables that deliver internet traffic in and out of the country. We have since activated redundancy measures to minimise service interruption and keep you connected as we await the full restoration of the cable,” Safaricom said in a notice.

“You may, however, experience reduced internet speeds,” it added.

Mugonyi said the East African Marine Systems (TEAMS) cable, which has not been affected by the fiber cut, is currently being utilized for local traffic flow while redundancy on the South Africa route has been activated to minimize the impact.

This is the second time Africa has experienced a major fiber cut this year.

In March, a suspected underwater rock slid off the coast of Cote d’Ivoire, causing several submarine cables to go offline.

The outage impacted 13 African countries located on the West African seaboard, resulting in either degraded services or near-total internet outages.

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Somalia to expel Ethiopian troops  

At least 3,000 Ethiopian soldiers are stationed in the Horn of Africa country…reports Asian Lite News

Somalia will expel thousands of Ethiopian troops stationed in the country to help with security by the end of the year unless Addis Ababa scraps a disputed port deal with the breakaway region of Somaliland, a senior Somali official said.

Security experts and foreign diplomats said the move risks further destabilizing Somalia as local forces would be unable to fill the security vacuum, which would likely be exploited by fighters from Al-Shabab — an affiliate of Al-Qaeda.

At least 3,000 Ethiopian soldiers are stationed in the Horn of Africa country as part of an African Union peacekeeping mission fighting Al-Shabab, which controls large portions of Somalia, while an estimated 5,000-7,000 are stationed in several regions under a bilateral agreement.

Relations between Mogadishu and Addis Ababa nosedived earlier this year after landlocked Ethiopia agreed to lease 20 km of coastline from Somaliland — a part of Somalia which claims independence and has had effective autonomy since 1991, but has failed to win international recognition.

Ethiopia offered Somaliland possible recognition in exchange for being allowed to set up a naval base and commercial port — a move Mogadishu has called illegal.

“If they do not repeal the (agreement) before the end of June, or when the new mandate of the mission is decided, all Ethiopian troops, ATMIS and bilateral, will have to go,” Somalia’s National Security Adviser Hussein Sheikh-Ali told Reuters by phone.

“Ethiopia cannot be an ally and at the same time an aggressor.”

Spokespeople for the Ethiopian government and the Ethiopian National Defense Forces did not respond to requests for comment.

The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia, which is mandated by the UN Security Council, is due to fully withdraw and hand over security responsibilities to the Somali state by the end of 2024.

But the Somali government has requested several times for the withdrawal of troops to be slowed down, citing setbacks on the battlefield.

The troops come from Burundi, Djibouti, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia.

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South Africa’s ANC Calls for Unity Government

The proposed government of national unity would be a type of coalition government that included all parties that had won seats in the parliament during the election….reports Asian Lite News

Dakar, June 7 (IANS/DPA) South Africa’s governing African National Congress (ANC) party has announced it will seek a national unity government after the historic loss of its absolute majority.

“We agreed to invite political parties to form a government of national unity as the best option to move our country forward,” South Africa’s President and ANC party leader Cyril Ramaphosa told reporters, following a meeting of the party’s leadership on Thursday evening.

The ANC, the party of former anti-apartheid fighter Nelson Mandela, won 159 of the 400 seats in the parliamentary elections on May 29 and failed to secure an absolute majority for the first time in 30 years.

The proposed government of national unity would be a type of coalition government that included all parties that had won seats in the parliament during the election.

According to an ANC spokesperson, it would represent the interests of all voters.

However, some analysts are concerned that a government of national unity could struggle to maintain stability and reach agreements.

The proposed approach would help the ANC avoid partnering with just one party, like the liberal Democratic Alliance (DA).

The potential collaboration between the ANC and DA poses the risk of causing dissatisfaction among many ANC supporters.

The newly elected members of parliament must form a government and elect a president by the end of next week.

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