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AU calls on world powers to respect Syria’s territorial integrity

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Addis Ababa, April 16: The African Union Commission (AUC) has called on world powers to undertake international efforts to solve the Syrian civil war that respects the territorial integrity of Syria.

The statement by the AUC chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat on Sunday said while he condemns the use of chemical weapons, primacy should be given to international efforts to find lasting political situation for Syrian civil war solely based on the interests of Syrian people, Xinhua reported.

“Africa expects the United Nations Security Council members (UNSC), especially those that are permanent, to put aside their differences and spare no efforts in the pursuit of global peace and humanity’s common good, in line with the responsibilities conferred upon them by the United Nations Charter,” said the AU statement.

“AU is strongly committed to multilateralism, underlines that any response to such acts ought to be based on incontrovertible evidence gathered by a competent, independent and credible entity and comply strictly with international law, including the primacy of the UNSC for any recourse to force,” further said the statement.

On Saturday morning, the US, France and UK conducted airstrikes on Syrian government targets following reports of alleged chemical weapons use in Douma, near the capital city Damascus on April 7.

The Syrian government has strongly denied the allegation, calling for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to send a fact-finding mission for investigations. However, the three nations carried out the strike on the day the mission just arrived in Damascus.

Key Syrian government allies Iran and Russia have condemned the strikes calling it a flagrant aggression of international law.

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Malaysian who threatened to kill King among seven suspected militants arrested

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Bangkok, July 19 :Police in Malaysia have arrested seven people for alleged links with the Islamic State (IS) terror organisation, including a man who threatened to assassinate the Malaysian King and the Prime Minister, police said on Thursday.

Four Malaysians, including one woman, and three Indonesians were arrested during operations between March 12 and March 17, said Inspector General of Royal Malaysia Police, Mohamad Fuzi Harun.

One of the Malaysians used his Facebook account to threaten to assassinate the Sultan of Johor, who is the current head of state, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, and Minister of Religious Affairs, Mujahid Yusof Rawa, saying they do not govern the country in accordance with Sharia law.

The other three Malaysians allegedly contacted or sent money to Malaysian IS militants in Syria and Iraq, or showed their intention to join the extremist groups in the Middle East.

Two of the three Indonesians admitted having links with extremist organizations in Indonesia, while one, declaring himself a follower of the IS, admitted his plan of travelling to Syria to join them.

Around 300 people with links to IS have been arrested in Malaysia in recent years, while about 100 Malaysians are fighting in Iraq and Syria with militant groups.

Malaysia has a population of nearly 30 million, 61 percent of which belong to the Muslim community.

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No direct role of Pakistan Army in July 25 elections: Asif Ghafoor

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Islamabad, July 19 : Pakistani Army will have no direct role in the country’s July 25 general elections and will work on the Election Commission’s directives to conduct peaceful polls, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said on Thursday.

Asif Ghafoor, Director General of the Army’s media wing ISPR, rejected reports that the Army will work independently during the elections and clarified that its personnel will follow the poll body’s instructions.

“There were some rumours that Army personnel had been issued ‘different’ orders — this is completely baseless,” he said at the special session of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior.

“We do not have any link with the elections… we are only working on the Election Commission’s directives to improve the law and order situation. We do not have a direct role in polls.”

Ghafoor then elaborated on the election duty assigned to Army personnel, saying: “The armed forces have always lent support to civil institutions. The security situation is being improved in the entire country to hold elections, Dawn online reported.

“Three hundred and seventy one thousand Army soldiers will be deployed at the countrywide polling stations. The Army is also performing its duty at the printing press (for ballots).”

However, he said that the Army’s role in providing security for elections did not mean that it would also take direct responsibility for the well being of politicians.

Stressing on complying with the Election Commission of Pakistan’s code of conduct, Ghafoor said the troops also have to perform the police’s duties until the latter’s capabilities improve.

“We took extraordinary measures when polls were held in Afghanistan. Now the Afghan President has assured the Prime Minister and Army chief, over the phone, of cooperation.”

ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob said that the Army personnel deployed across the country on the polling day will work under presiding officers. He further stated that a written code of conduct was in place to this effect.

He said that Army personnel will be liable to inform the presiding officer and returning officer if anyone attempts to fill ballot boxes, after which the prescribed method will be followed. “Troops will only aid in holding peaceful polls,” he said.

The Senate session was presided over by the Committee Chairperson Senator Rehman Malik. Federal Interior and Defence Secretaries, ECP secretary and several other government officials were also present in the meeting.

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Turkey’s emergency rule ends after two years

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Ankara, July 19 :The Turkish government has ended the nationwide state of emergency that was imposed two years ago after a failed coup attempt.

The decision comes weeks after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won re-election.

Under the state of emergency, tens of thousands of people were arrested or dismissed from their jobs.

However, the government has decided against extending it again after seven three-month renewals.

During the campaign, opposition candidates said the first thing they would do if they won would be to end the state of emergency.

More than 107,000 people have been removed from public sector jobs by emergency decree since the state of emergency began and more than 50,000 people have been imprisoned pending trial, according to official statistics and NGOs.

Many of those dismissed are alleged to be supporters of the exiled Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in the US and is a former ally of Erdogan.

Turkey accuses Gulen and his followers of organising the coup, but he denies it.

The 2016 coup attempt saw Parliament bombed by military aircraft and more than 250 people killed.

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