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Air strikes on Syria will heighten anti-West sentiment: Morocco

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Syrian Strike

Rabat, April 16: Morocco has deplored the deterioration of the situation in the Middle East, including last week’s military escalation in Syria, and has said that “military options” will not only make quest for political solutions difficult but will deepen civilian suffering and “heighten anti-West sentiment”.

Morocco, which has always respected international law, can only condemn the use of chemical weapons, particularly against innocent civilian populations, an official source told the official MAP news agency, adding that “past experiences have taught us that military options, including air strikes — no matter how justified or proportionate they can be — only make it more difficult to find a political solution, deepen the suffering of civilian victims and heighten their anti-West sentiment”.

The timing chosen for this escalation, on the eve of important Arab events, and the absence of the usual appropriate consultations, may raise questions, misunderstanding and indignation, the source said.

Similarly, the different standards adopted in the management of international conflicts, in some cases resorting quickly to military options and, in other cases, imposing international legality, would only fuel international tensions.

The Kingdom of Morocco considers that the solution to the Syrian crisis can only be political and hopes that reason will prevail with a view to finding a solution to the crisis that preserves the national unity of this country and the dignity of these populations and secures an effective fight against intolerance, extremism and terrorism, the source, familiar with the thinking of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said.

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Yellow vest protests : Macron to address nation

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Emmanuel Macron

Paris, Dec 10:Ahead of his televised address to the nation Monday evening, French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday met key trade union leaders, businessmen, senior ministers , employers’ organizations and local elected officials to address rising discontent in the country amid the violent “yellow vests” protests that have challenged his grip on power.

The French President is facing criticism with demonstrators marching against the rise of living costs, the scrapping of the “fortune tax” and accusations that the former banker has done little to address the inequality in French society.

The emergency meeting took place at the Élysée Palace in the morning and saw Macron, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe and trade union leaders to attempt to come up with solutions to growing social unrest.É

We are ready to make any gesture” that works, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told RTL radio on Monday. “What is important now is to put an end to the crisis and find peace and unity in the country again.”

The General Confederation of Labour’s (CGT) Director Phillipe Martínez, who attended the meeting, said in a statement that he would not be used by the government to project an image of dialogue when it wasn’t acknowledging the plight of the people, Efe news reported.

The CGT went on to say that it expected a proposal of specific measures that could be put into place immediately, in particular, a 20 per cent rise of the minimum wage bringing it up to 1,800 euros ($2,052) per annum, a hike in pensions and a “social justice” reform to re-establish a wealth tax.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Mair said that the government rejected a 1.8 per cent minimum wage.

The “gilet jaunes” (“yellow vests”) demonstrations started as a protest against plans to hike of fuel taxes but grew into broader anti-government protests over time.

Macron put the fuel increases on hold but the protests were not abated. About 1,723 people were taken in for questioning and 1,220 were taken into custody during last weekend, said the Interior Ministry.

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Theresa May likely to delay vote on Brexit deal

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Theresa May

London, Dec 10 UK Prime Minister Theresa May is likely to postpone Tuesday’s key parliamentary vote on her Brexit plan, the media reported on Monday, amid predictions that she would suffer a “significant” defeat that could threaten to end her premiership and topple the government.

British media reports cited government sources as saying that May would inform MPs in the House of Commons about the delay in a statement later in the day. However, Downing Street insisted that the vote would go ahead.

The pound fell sharply following the reports, shedding 0.5 per cent versus the US dollar to stand at $1.26. Against the euro, the pound was 0.8 per cent down at 1.10 euros, the BBC reported.

May’s Commons address will be followed by a statement from the leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom. Later, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay will also make a statement on Article 50 — the legal mechanism taking the UK out of the EU on March 29.

According to the Guardian, a vote could take place next week or even be delayed till early January. The ultimate deadline for the vote is January 21.

The deal has been agreed with the EU, but it needs to be backed by the UK Parliament if it is to become law ahead of the UK’s departure.

The news followed the European Court of Justice’s ruling earlier in the day that the UK could cancel Brexit without the permission of the other 27 bloc members.

The court in a statement said: “When a member state has notified the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the EU, as the UK has done, that member state is free to revoke unilaterally that notification.”

“That possibility exists for as long as a withdrawal agreement concluded between the EU and that member state has not entered into force or, if no such agreement has been concluded, for as the two-year period from the date of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU, and any possible extension, has not expired,” stated the ruling tweeted by the court.

The judges ruled that this could be done without altering the terms of Britain’s membership. The court rejected arguments from both the UK government and the European Commission that Article 50, the two-year-long process that triggers a member state’s departure from the EU, could not be revoked unilaterally.

The case was brought to the European Court of Justice by a cross-party group of Scottish lawmakers.

The court ruling matched legal advice given to the court last week by its Advocate General Manuel Campos Sánchez-Bordona, who said as a sovereign country Britain could reverse its decision even at this stage.

This legal decision was significant because it meant Britain can prevent a no-deal Brexit from happening if it wanted, even if May’s deal was voted down by MPs.

May, whose Conservative Party executive wields a minority in the Commons, enacted Article 50 on March 29, 2017, meaning the UK is due to withdraw from the EU on March 29, 2019, with or without a deal.

She is due to attend a meeting of European leaders on Saturday, at which the parliamentary impasse over Brexit is likely to be top of the agenda.

European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday ruled out the possibility of further negotiations with London, saying that the draft deal has already been unanimously adopted by member states.

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London’s Westminster Court orders extradition of Vijay Mallya to India

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Vijay Mallya

London, Dec 10: London’s Westminster Magistrates Court on Monday ordered the extradition of fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya to India.

Chief Magistrate Judge Emma Arbuthnot has found prima facie a case against Mallya for fraud, conspiracy and money laundering.

The matter of extradition of Vijay Mallya to India has been referred to the Secretary of State.

The Central Bureau of Investigation welcomed the UK court orders.

Reacting to the verdict, the CBI spokesperson said that “We hope to bring him soon and conclude the case. CBI has its own inherent strengths. We worked hard on this case. We are strong on Law and facts and we were confident while pursuing extradition process”.

The Court announced the verdict following a prolonged litigation involving Mallya, who fled India in March 2016.

The development took place came six days after British national and alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal, Christian Michael, was extradited to India from Dubai.

Mallya has repeatedly denied fleeing from India and said he was ready to pay back the money he owed to Indian banks.

Proceedings are on in the Mumbai Special Court against the businessman under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act.

Last year, India filed extradition proceedings against Mallya which he has contested. He is currently on bail in London.

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