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Tito Mboweni: South Africa’s president lambasts minister over Zambia tweets

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President Ramaphosa (L) said Mr Mboweni’s (L) tweets were unfortunate and did not represent his government’s views

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has “strongly reprimanded” his finance minister for tweets criticising the sacking of a top government official in Zambia.

“Presidents in Africa must stop this nonsense of waking up in the morning and fire a central bank governor,” Tito Mboweni tweeted.

Mr Rampahosa said the comments did not reflect the views of his government.

Zambia’s information minister said the tweets were “improper” and “immature.”

Dora Siliya told Mr Mboweni to instead focus on South Africa’s “coronavirus problems”:

South Africa has the highest number of coronavirus infections and deaths in Africa.

In a statement on Monday, President Ramaphosa called Mr Mboweni’s comments “unfortunate”, adding that the issue was being addressed “so that it does not occur again”.

What did Mr Mboweni say?

In a series of tweets on Sunday, Mr Mboweni, a respected economist and an ardent Twitter user, challenged Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu to give reasons for the sacking of Denny Kalyalya as the central bank governor.

“This is not some fiefdoms of yours! Your personal property?! No!,” he tweeted, castigating President Lungu.

He threatened – in the since deleted tweets – that he would mobilise support if the governor was not reinstated.

“The governor was a good fella. Why do we do these things as Africans. The president of Zambia must give us the reasons why he dismissed the governor – or else hell is on its way. I will mobilise”.

He later tweeted:

“Looks like I am in trouble about my statement on the dismissal of the bank of Zambia governor. I stand by my statement. Central bank independence is key. Not negotiable. Let all central bankers speak out.”

But there won’t be any support coming from the South African government.

Mr Ramaphosa said the country enjoyed a strong historical relationship and his government was “committed to maintaining the deep and solid bonds of friendship” with Zambia.

Mr Mboweni retweeted the statement.

Who is Tito Mboweni?

The well respected economist is affectionately known on South African Twitter as “Uncle Tito”.

It is his love for cooking that has won the hearts of many, but he is, let’s say, not as talented in the kitchen as he is with numbers.

Apart from tweeting what he’s making for dinner, his posts have sometimes put him at loggerheads with other state officials.

He doesn’t seem to mind going against the party’s line for what he believes in.

He has also been vocal about government decisions that he disagrees with, earning the admiration of some South Africans.

Still, he is a senior government official, hand-picked by the president to handle an important portfolio, and some of his rants, like the tweets excoriating the Zambian president, have been interpreted as divisive and unhelpful.

So why was Zambia’s central bank governor sacked?

Denny Kalyalya was dismissed because of the poor disbursement of funds meant to stimulate the country’s struggling economy, according to a statement by the ruling Patriotic Front party, the local Lusaka Times news site reports.

But the Reuters news agency reported that Mr Kalyalya’s dismissal came barely three days after Zambia’s central bank cut its benchmark lending rate by 125 basis points to 8% to try to safeguard the financial sector’s stability and protect livelihoods in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Kalyalya, a respected former World Bank executive director, was appointed in 2015 and his tenure was due to end in 2023. The main opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has called his sacking “another sad development” in Zambia’s history.

The BBC’s Kennedy Gondwe in Lusaka says the governor’s appearance on local media, where he repeatedly warned about the dire state of the economy could have led to his sacking.

President Lungu is facing a tough election next year and he would want to dispel a narrative of a struggling economy, which could bolster support for the opposition, our reporter added.

Mr Mboweni has been a champion of the independence of central banks from political influence – that’s why he felt he had to speak up, he says.





Source – www.bbc.co.uk

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Sri Lanka archbishop criticises gov’t over Easter attacks probe | Sri Lanka News

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On the second anniversary of the Easter attacks, the head of Sri Lanka’s Catholic church says he was ‘deeply saddened’ by the lack of progress in the investigation.

The head of Sri Lanka’s Roman Catholic Church on Wednesday accused the government of stalling investigations into Easter Sunday bombings two years ago that killed 279 people.

Nearly 200 people were arrested within days of the attacks on hotels and churches, but no one has yet been charged.

Archbishop of Colombo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, who led commemorations on the second anniversary Wednesday, said he was “deeply saddened” by the lack of progress in the investigation.

“We have to stress that what is happening at the moment is an attitude of ‘no care’ where all factors are not properly investigated,” the cardinal said at a commemorative service in Colombo.

Catholic priests and nuns march while holding images of the victims of April 21’s Easter Sunday bomb attack in 2019, next to St. Sebastian’s Church, one of the attacked churches, during the second anniversary, in Katuwapitiya, Sri Lanka, April 21, 2021 [Dinuka Liyanawatte/REUTERS]

Al Jazeera’s Minelle Fernandez, reporting from Negombo, Sri Lanka, said Ranjith accused the government of political posturing and the need to protect alliances had hindered the probe.

“He went as far a few days ago as saying that the bombings had nothing to do with religious extremism, but rather were about politics and people who wanted to ensure essentially grabbing power,” she added.

The cardinal has previously called for former president Maithripala Sirisena to be prosecuted for failing to prevent the attacks despite advance warnings.

An investigation ordered by Sirisena soon after the bombings found that he and his intelligence officials had precise information from India about the attack 17 days earlier, but failed to act.

Sirisena, who did not offer himself for re-election in November 2019 polls, is currently a legislator with the party of his successor Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Although none of the 200 in custody have been indicted, 16 Muslim men among them were charged on Tuesday in connection with desecrating Buddhist statues in December 2018.

The authorities have said that the destruction of the statues in Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka was the forerunner to the Easter Sunday attacks four months later.

Anniversary service

Wednesday’s multi-faith remembrance service was held at the St. Anthony’s Church where 56 people died in the attacks, which came 10 years after the end of Sri Lanka’s 37-year Tamil separatist war.

Cardinal Ranjith appealed to the country’s Muslims on Wednesday to join Catholics in determining the truth behind the Easter bombings.

Two local groups that had pledged allegiance to the ISIS [ISIL] group have been blamed for the attacks.

A family member kisses the grave of one victim of April 21’s Easter Sunday bomb attack in 2019, next to St. Sebastian’s Church, one of the attacked churches, during the second anniversary [Dinuka Liyanawatte/REUTERS]

Islamic cleric Hassan Moulana, who also spoke at the service, said Muslims around the world condemn the attacks and that Islam offers no justification for the crime.

He said the Muslim community in Sri Lanka has disowned the attackers and has not allowed their bodies to be buried in its cemeteries to show their acts are not part of Islam.

Last week Sri Lanka banned 11 organisations, including the ISIL (ISIS) group and al-Qaeda.

Anyone linked to the groups – the other nine of which are local religious and social organisations – faces up to 20 years in jail, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said in a gazette notification.

Muslims, who make up nearly 10 percent of Sri Lanka’s 21 million people, have faced increased attacks from majority Sinhala Buddhist hardliners following the end of a civil war between Tamil separatists and government forces in 2009.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Bitcoin: After weekend dip, chart watchers share crypto clues | Banks News

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Bitcoin has yet to recover from its unexplained weekend swoon, and now the investing public is on edge about the notoriously volatile token’s next move. Enter the chart watchers.

Noting that “a chart is a chart is a chart,” Tallbacken Capital Advisors’s Michael Purves sent a note Wednesday with a technical analysis of the coin’s trading patterns. Bitcoin’s recent highs weren’t confirmed by its relative strength index, among other things, and its upward momentum is fading, he said.

“From purely a technical perspective, the bullish case looks highly challenged here in the near term,” after its recent rally, wrote Purves, chief executive officer at the firm.

It’s another sign that Bitcoin has become too big for Wall Street to ignore. With more firms allowing customers to dabble in the asset and more institutional money tied to its performance, no wonder chart watchers are capitulating and now lending their expertise to the growing batch of analysis.

Earlier, JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s analysts also chimed in with their take. The last few times Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou witnessed such negative price action in Bitcoin, buyers returned in time to prevent deeper slumps. This time, the strategist is worried.

If the largest cryptocurrency isn’t able to break back above $60,000 soon, momentum signals will collapse, strategists led by Panigirtzoglou wrote in a note Tuesday. It’s likely traders including Commodity Trading Advisers (CTAs) and crypto funds were at least partly behind the buildup of long Bitcoin futures in recent weeks, as well as the unwind in past days, they said.

“Over the past few days Bitcoin futures markets experienced a steep liquidation in a similar fashion to the middle of last February, middle of last January or the end of last November,” the strategists said. “Momentum signals will naturally decay from here for several months, given their still elevated level.”

In those three previous instances, the overall flow impulse was strong enough to allow Bitcoin to quickly break out above the key thresholds, yielding further buildups in position by momentum traders, JPMorgan noted.

“Whether we see a repeat of those previous episodes in the current conjuncture remains to be seen,” the strategists said. The likelihood it will happen again seems lower because momentum decay seems more advanced and thus more difficult to reverse, they added. Flows into Bitcoin funds also appear weak, they said.

Bitcoin rose as high as $64,870 around the time of the Nasdaq listing of Coinbase Global Inc., but has retreated back to $55,000. The cryptocurrency is still up about 90% year-to-date.

The coin, down five of the last six sessions, is struggling to overtake its 50-day moving average around $56,819. For many chartists, that’s a bearish indicator since it tends to determine price momentum trends. Should Bitcoin be unable to breach its short-term trend line, it could move lower and test the $50,000 level, about a 10% decline from where it’s currently trading. The next area of support would be its 100-day moving average around $49,212. That would signify a 11% retreat from Wednesday’s trading levels.

Tallbacken’s Purves, who says the coin’s 2017 breakout and subsequent decline is a useful case study, also points Bitcoin’s daily MACD signal — or the moving average convergence divergence gauge — which has turned bearish in the intermediate-term. And its performance is still correlated to Cathie Wood’s uber-popular ARK Innovation ETF.

“Trading Bitcoin on the bullish side right now does not appear to have favorable risk-reward and if you have made profits, it seems like a good time to go to the sidelines for now,” Purves wrote.

To be sure, he said, it’s difficult to conclude how much further it could decline. Key to the issue will be how strongly institutional buyers step in. “While upside momentum is clearly looking challenged here, it is inconclusive how much downside risk remains,” he wrote in a note. “It is entirely possible that Bitcoin could simply consolidate in a range for some time.”

Bitcoin fell as much as 4.3% Wednesday to $54,341 before recouping some losses. Smaller and alternative coins that had run up in recent days also suffered declines Wednesday, with Dogecoin — the poster-child for crypto risk-taking — declining roughly 15% to trade around 31 cents. That’s down from a high of 42 cents the day prior, according to CoinMarketCap.com.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Pakistan: Several killed in explosion at Quetta hotel | Pakistan News

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Blast in parking area of Serena Hotel also wounded nine people, with some in critical condition, police say.

At least three people have been killed and nine others wounded in a powerful explosion in the parking area of an upscale hotel in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, according to authorities.

Police said rescuers were transporting the victims of Wednesday’s blast at Serena Hotel to nearby hospitals. Footage on local news channels showed cars in flames.

Security forces rushed to the hotel and no one was allowed to approach the site of the explosion. Police said they had opened an investigation.

“Our officers are working to determine whether it was a bomb and what type of device it could be,” police official Nasir Malik told Reuters news agency.

According to senior police official Azhar Akram, some of the wounded were listed in critical condition. They were brought to Quetta’s main hospital.

No other information was immediately available.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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