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India, China hold talks amid ‘volatile’ border situation | India News

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Indian and Chinese military commanders have held talks for a second day as rival soldiers confront each other at their contested Himalayan border in Ladakh, bringing fears of a military escalation.

Both of the Asian giants have accused the other of fresh provocations, including allegations of soldiers crossing into each other’s territory, months after their deadliest standoff in decades.

Details of the talks which resumed on Tuesday morning weren’t immediately disclosed.

China and India have been holding dialogue to negotiate a Chinese withdrawal from the border since May when the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) troops transgressed into the Indian side of the de facto border known as Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Tens of thousands of troops from the rivals sides have amassed across the disputed border since then. The border conflagration escalated on June 15 when 20 Indian soldiers were killed in clashes in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley.

An Indian army convoy moves on the Srinagar-Ladakh highway in Indian-administered Kashmir [Mukhtar Khan/AP]

“Both armies are now confronting each other at the border, it’s an extremely volatile and dangerous situation out there,” Ajai Shukla, defence analyst, told Al Jazeera.

“India has been trying to sort of arrange a mutual de-escalation, a disengagement and a pullback to their respective sides of the border.

But by all accounts, China is not willing to do that, it is willing to talk, but at the same time, it’s continuing its hostile and aggressive stance – and that is what is causing the Indian side to build up and to be prepared for any further escalation of the situation by China.”

On Monday, India said its soldiers had thwarted “provocative” movements by China’s military on Saturday night. In turn, China’s defence ministry accused Indian troops of crossing established lines of control and creating provocations along the disputed border on Monday.

Both India and China have provided little information, but media in the two countries have given extensive coverage to the escalating tensions.

Al Jazeera’s Katrina Yu reporting from Beijing, said: “We have had a more aggressive response from Chinese state media. The Global Times which had a quite aggressive editorial saying that India should be under no illusion that the Chinese are not willing and ready to take on India.”

The official newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party blamed India for the latest standoff.

According to the Global Times, Al Jazeera’s Katrina said they have also undertaken a survey with their readers, vast majority of whom say they are tired of what it calls “hostile behaviour” from the Indian side and that 90 percent would support military action.

“But there has also been an acknowledgement from China that India is also an important neighbour – a lot of trade is done with India and they would like to maintain peace,” Katrina Yu said.

The standoff is over disputed portions of a pristine landscape high in the Karakoram mountains that boasts the world’s highest landing strip, a glacier that feeds one of the largest irrigation systems in the world, and is a critical link in China’s enormous “Belt and Road” infrastructure project.

India unilaterally declared Ladakh a federal territory and separated it from Indian-administered Kashmir in August 2019, ending its semi-autonomous status and straining the already prickly relationship between New Delhi and Beijing.

China was among the countries to strongly condemn the move, raising it at international forums including the UN Security Council.

According to some Indian and Chinese strategic experts, India’s move exacerbated existing tensions with China, leading to the deadly June border clash.

The disputed and undemarcated 3,500-kilometre (2,175-mile) border between India and China stretches from the Ladakh region in the north to the Indian state of Sikkim.

The two nations fought a border war in 1962 that also spilled into Ladakh and ended in an uneasy truce. Since then, troops from opposing sides have guarded the undefined mountain border area, occasionally brawling. They have agreed not to attack each other with firearms.

Rival soldiers brawled bitterly in May, and in June, fought with clubs, stones and their fists, leaving 20 Indian soldiers dead. China did not report any casualties.

Accusing each other of instigating the violence, both sides have pledged to safeguard their territory but also try to end the standoff, which has dramatically changed the India-China relationship.

India has banned dozens of Chinese apps, including popular video-sharing app TikTok, and has placed restrictions on Chinese investments amid the backlash against Beijing following the deadly border clashes in June.

Several rounds of military and diplomatic talks on ending the crisis have been unsuccessful.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Opposition sidelined as Benin votes in presidential election | Elections News

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With most rivals in exile or sidelined, Benin’s President Patrice Talon looks set to win a second term in office.

Voters in Benin are set to cast their ballots in a presidential election on Sunday, days after deadly protests against President Patrice Talon, who is heavily favoured to win a second term.

Talon, a cotton magnate first elected in 2016, faces off against two little-known rivals, Alassane Soumanou and Corentin Kohoue.

Opponents accuse the 62-year-old Talon of undermining Benin’s vibrant multi-party democracy by sidelining most of his main opponents.

Protests in several cities last week turned violent. At least two people died in the central city of Save when troops on Thursday fired tear gas and live rounds to break up protesters who had blocked a major highway. Five others were wounded.

In the commercial capital Cotonou, several people said they feared violence on election day.

“The events of these last days scare me,” said Christophe Dossou, a student. “I prefer to remain cautious.”

Benin’s President Patrice Talon denies targeting his opponents [File: Philippe Wojazer/Reuters]

Among the protesters’ complaints are Talon’s U-turn on a pledge he made as a candidate in 2016 to serve only one term, and changes he pushed through to election laws that he said were aimed at streamlining unwieldy government institutions. In practice, those reforms resulted in total control of parliament by Talon’s supporters and the exclusion of leading opponents from the presidential race.

One opposition leader Reckya Madougou was detained last month on accusations of plotting to disrupt the election, a charge her lawyer says is fabricated.

A judge from a special economic crimes court created by Talon also fled the country last week after denouncing political pressure to make rulings against the president’s critics, including the decision to detain Madougou.

Meanwhile, businessman Sebastien Ajavon, who came third in the 2016 presidential poll, was convicted of drug trafficking in 2018 and sentenced to 20 years in prison, while another potential rival, ex-finance minister Komi Koutche, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for embezzlement. Ajavon lives in exile in France, while Koutche lives in Washington, DC.

Talon denies targeting his opponents.

He has campaigned on his economic record, which includes improvements to key infrastructure such as roads, water and energy supplies.

Soldiers stand in line to block supporters of the incumbent president during an electoral campaign rally at Abomey-Calavi, on April 9, 2021 [Pius Utomi Ekpei/ AFP]

Benin, a country of about 12 million people, became Africa’s top cotton exporter in 2018 and recorded average annual gross domestic product growth of over 5 percent before the global economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“What we did was not easy,” Talon said at one of his final campaign rallies on Friday. “We are strong and we know how to get it done.”

He said he expects a “knock-out victory” for which there would be no need for a runoff vote.

The United States, German, French and Dutch embassies as well as the European Union delegation in Benin all called on Friday for calm and for the vote to go ahead in a free and transparent manner.

“We urge all parties to express their perspectives peacefully,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters. “We urge the electoral institutions and courts overseeing these processes and verifying these results to ensure these elections are conducted freely, fairly, and transparently.”

Results are expected to be announced on Monday or Tuesday.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Trucks Traveling to Juba Get Military Escort

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Government of Southern Sudan has agreed to provide full military security and safety to all road users including Ugandan cargo truck drivers plying Juba – Nimule highway starting this week.

This was reached during a meeting between South Sudan government and Ugandan authorities on Friday at Elegu One-stop Border point in Amuru district, Northern Uganda.

High level security officials from both countries met to deliberate on the deteriorating security along major highways in South Sudan in which eight Ugandan truck drivers have been shot dead by armed men in the past weeks.

The Sudanese high-level delegation was led by the country’s Chief of Defense Forces, Gen. Johnson Juma, Inspector General of Police, Gen. Majak Akech, and Director-General of Internal Security, Gen. Akol Khor.

The Deputy Commissioner General of the National Revenue Authority, Hon. Africano Mande was also present and four East African Ambassadors.

On the other side, Uganda’s delegation was led by Police Operations Director AIGP Edward Ochom, Director Crime Intelligence Col. Damulira among others high ranking officers.

“We have successively concluded our two days meetings with Ugandan authorities including the drivers who later agreed to resume the normal operation,” said South Sudan authorities.

“And as government, we assure them of full security on the major highways in the Republic of South Sudan and removal of the illegal road blocks and check-points for easy movement of trucks to Juba and others towns within the country.”

Last week, truck drivers from across the East African region protested the increasing insecurity in South Sudan, illegal taxes and also demanded for compensation of their deceased colleagues.

They parked their trucks at Elegu border and demanded for both governments to intervene before the situation deteriorates further.

In regards to compensation, Sudanese authorities agreed to pay for the victims but said that the process will be discussed through the foreign ministries of the two countries.

Although traders had also requested Ugandan authorities and in this case the UPDF to escort their goods to South Sudan, Lt.Col Deo Akiki said that “this can’t be a decision of UPDF. South Sudan is a sovereign State, therefore anything done on its territory at the moment has to be a bilateral matter beyond the two forces. It’s a government to government affair.”

ChimpReports understands that some trucks on Saturday left Elegu border for Juba under full security escort.

The post Trucks Traveling to Juba Get Military Escort first appeared on ChimpReports.



Source – chimpreports.com

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21 workers trapped in flooded mine in China’s Xinjiang | China News

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CCTV says rescuers have located 12 of the 21 trapped miners.

Eight miners have been rescued and 21 remain trapped in a coal mine in China’s Xinjiang region after flooding cut power underground and disrupted communications, according to state media.

The accident happened in Fengyuan coal mine in Hutubi County on Saturday evening, when staff were upgrading the site, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Rescuers had located 12 of the 21 trapped miners, broadcaster CCTV said, but it was unclear if they were all together.

Rescue personnel were trying to pump water from the flooded shaft and have been piping air into the mine.

Pipes were being laid but the pumping operation was going to be challenging, CCTV said.

Mining accidents are common in China, where the industry has a poor safety record and enforcement of regulations is often lax.

In January, 22 workers were trapped in a mine in east China’s Shandong province after an explosion damaged the entrance, leaving workers stuck underground for about two weeks.

Eleven men were pulled out alive, 10 died and one miner remained unaccounted for.

In December, 23 miners died after being trapped underground in the southwest city of Chongqing – just months after 16 others died from carbon monoxide poisoning at another coal mine in the city.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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