Turkey accuses the Dutch of Nazism over rally ban

His comments came after the Netherlands said it would refuse Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu permission to land for a rally to gather support for a referendum on boosting Erdogan’s powers.


The Dutch decision to ban Cavusoglu from visiting and holding a rally in the port city of Rotterdam came after Germany and other European nations also blocked similar campaign events.

Unlike in Germany, where a string of planned rallies were barred by local authorities, in the Netherlands it was the government that stepped in to block Cavusoglu’s visit.

“They are the vestiges of the Nazis, they are fascists,” Erdogan told an Istanbul rally Saturday, days after he angrily compared moves to block rallies in Germany to “Nazi practices”.

“Ban our foreign minister from flying however much you like, but from now on let’s see how your flights will land in Turkey,” Erdogan said.

Around 1,000 people waving Turkish flags protested outside the consulate in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam on Saturday evening, watched by a large police presence.

Turkey’s Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya appeared at the scene after reportedly travelling overland from Germany, but Turkish TV said she was stopped by Dutch police some 30 metres (yards) short of the consulate.

“We’ve been here for about four hours. We were not even offered water,” she told the NTV television channel. “(Dutch) police are not allowing me to enter the consulate. “

“I was told to leave the country and return to Germany as soon as possible,” she added. “I will not leave unless I am allowed to meet even for five minutes with our citizens.”

The Dutch public broadcaster NOS said police were planning to escort Kaya back to the border with Germany. Police would not confirm anything to AFP.

Cavusoglu flies to France

Cavusoglu flew to France where he is expected to address a rally Sunday in the eastern city of Metz. A French official said the visit had been cleared by the foreign ministry in Paris.

As the row raged, Turkish foreign ministry sources said the Dutch embassy in Ankara and consulate in Istanbul had both been sealed off for “security reasons”.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Erdogan’s criticism was “crazy.”

“I understand that they are angry but this is way out of line,” he said. “I really think we made the right decision here.”

Cavusoglu, speaking in Istanbul, said the ban was “unacceptable”.

“Why are you taking sides in the referendum?” he said, adding: “Is the foreign minister of Turkey a terrorist?” 

The Turkish foreign ministry said the Dutch charge d’affaires in Ankara was summoned and told that Turkey did not want the Dutch ambassador — currently on holiday — to return “for a while”.

The Netherlands is home to some 400,000 people of Turkish origin, and Ankara is keen to harness votes of the diaspora in Europe ahead of the April 16 referendum on creating an executive presidency.

The Turkish government argues the changes would ensure stability and create more efficient governance but opponents say it would lead to one-man rule and further inflame tensions in its diverse society. 

Backlash threat 

Erdogan accused the Netherlands of working against the “Yes” campaign and said: “Pressure however much you like. Abet terrorists in your country however much you like.

“It will backlash, and there’s no doubt that we’ll start retaliating after April 16… We are patient. Whoever is patient will reach victory.”

Dutch far-right anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders celebrated the government’s ban, attributing it to “heavy PVV pressure”, in a reference to his party, which appears set to emerge as one of the largest in elections to the Dutch parliament on Wednesday.

The latest row came after NATO allies Turkey and Germany sparred over the cancellation of a series of referendum campaign events there.

Germany is home to 1.4 million people eligible to vote in Turkey — the fourth-largest electoral base after Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir.

Although Berlin insisted that the string of cancellations by local authorities were down to logistical reasons, Turkish officials repeatedly hit back, leading to Erdogan’s angry “Nazi” remark.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said such rhetoric was “depressing”, belittled Holocaust victims and was “so out of place as to be unworthy of serious comment”.

Berlin has emerged as a strident critic of Ankara’s crackdown after an attempted coup last July, which has seen more than 100,000 people arrested, suspended from their jobs or sacked for alleged links to the plotters or to Kurdish militants.

Trump tried to call Bharara before sacking

Two days before US Attorney Preet Bharara was fired, the high-profile New York prosecutor declined to take a call from President Donald Trump, a US law enforcement official has said.


Bharara contacted Justice Department headquarters for authorisation to speak to the president on Thursday, according to detailed account from the law enforcement source. When he apparently did not receive it, he called back the woman who had contacted him to say he did not want to talk to Trump without the approval of his superiors.

Bharara oversaw several notable corruption and white-collar criminal cases and prosecutions of terrorism suspects. He was one of 46 Obama administration holdovers who were asked to resign by the Justice Department on Friday.

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He said on Saturday he had been fired after he defied the request to resign. The move was a surprise because Bharara told reporters in November that Trump had asked him to remain in the job.

While it is expected for political appointees including prosecutors to be replaced after an election, the mass firing of so many US attorneys was unusual and abrupt.

The Justice Department would not comment on reports of Bharara’s contacts with Trump representatives and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ office in the days before his firing.

The White House had no comment on Sunday on any contacts with Bharara.

The office in the southern district of New York handles some of the most critical business and criminal cases that pass through the federal judicial system. Bharara had been overseeing a probe into New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s fundraising.

Bharara said his deputy, Joon Kim, would serve as his temporary replacement.

The law enforcement source declined comment on whether or not the office had any active investigations related to Trump.

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Why Europe’s most tolerant country is surging right

The Netherlands is often considered one of the most liberal and tolerant countries on the planet.


It’s not just tourists flocking to Amsterdam for recreational drugs and legalised prostitution – the country was also the first in the world to legislate for same-sex marriage and takes a progressive approach to euthanasia.

But for most of the past 18 months – the leading party in the polls has been the stridently anti-immigrant, anti-Islam, anti-EU Party for Freedom (the PVV).

The party’s leader, international provocateur Geert Wilders, saw his popularity surge in December, when he was found guilty of inciting racial discrimination against Moroccan immigrants.

Similar to rhetoric from Donald Trump and One Nation, Wilders’ policies include a ban on headscarves, the Quran and Muslim immigration, the closure of Islamic schools and mosques, and withdrawal from the European Union.

Pulling support between 15 per cent and 20 per cent, the Party for Freedom has been the most popular among a crowded field for much of the campaign.

Wilders has only recently fallen behind the Prime Minister’s center-right party, itself only polling at 16 per cent.

Polling from the last 12 months shows Wilders’ PVV has narrowly fallen behind Prime Minister Rutte’s VVD, while the PvdA labour party remains stuck at 8%.Peilingwijzer

But while Prime Minister Mark Rutte is hoping to stay ahead and win the chance to form a coalition government, the race could be even closer than it looks says Carolien van Ham, a UNSW politics lecturer and a Dutch voter herself.

“Recent polling experiences with Brexit and in the US seem to indicate that support for populist right tends to be under-estimated,” expert in political representation said.

“I think it’s because there might still be a group of people who are polite, or don’t dare to say they intend to vote for those parties.”


Polls show that concern about the preservation Dutch culture is one of the most dominant political issues – but Dr van Ham pins the surge in far-right sentiment on voter dissatisfaction, and a failure of mainstream parties to represent their interests.

“People that vote PVV tend to be white, lower educated, with lower incomes, and are more often jobless,” she said, “his supporters live mostly in more rural areas and in semi-urban areas around the big cities.”

Those voters don’t feel represented by centrist parties, Dr van Ham says, and they haven’t been big winners from globalisation or the Netherlands’ economic recovery.

Geert Wilders takes a photo with a supporter on the campaign trail in March 2017 (AP).EPA

Cultural decay

Dutch political researcher and Loughborough University lecturer Stijn van Kessel says voters are anxious about cultural decay and the social consequences of immigration.

With the European migration crisis and a rise in terror attacks, the Netherlands is just one of numerous countries witnessing a growth in anti-immigrant, anti-Islam sentiment.

“The last election was largely about dealing with the economic crisis. Now that the economy has recovered, there is more room for cultural issues again,” he said.

The focus on Dutch culture has sparked a debate on what Dutch values actually are. 

On the right parties have referred to the country’s Judeo Christian heritage and national iconography, while on the left leaders have emphasised tolerance and empathy. Both sides have stressed the importance of Freedom. 


But Dr van Ham says the underlying issues driving voting behaviour are not confined to the Netherlands.

“Europe and America are seeing a rise of the far-right – and it will come to Australia I’m sure,” she said.

“There are several clear causes of that – First there’s a rise in economic inequality and the impact of globalisation, that’s led to voters feeling as if their national politicians can’t properly represent their interests.”

“Then, there’s the failure of the Labour parties on the left to represent the interests of those voters – they’ve shifted to the centre and embraced neoliberalism, letting go of the welfare state a little bit.”

“There’s a feeling among some citizens that national politicians are losing control to multinational corporations and to the European Union.”

A multitude of party leaders vie for support in a televised election debate.EPA/Remko de Waal

Matt Sherwood –  lead strategist at Perpetual Investments and one of the few to correctly predict Trump’s victory – says the rise of the far-right is becoming a global phenomenon in established democracies.

“All around the world governments are struggling to find jobs for lower skilled workers – but it’s not an economic problem, it’s a social problem,” he said.

Voters bitter about globalisation and immigration are misdirecting their frustration, Sherwood says, and the prescription of closing borders isn’t going to help.

“The jobs Trump and others talk about were lost to technology, so they won’t be coming back,” he said.

It’s a challenge that wedges progressive labour parties, Dr van Ham says.

“They feel they can’t go hard against immigration, even if they are strong on labour and pay issues.”

The Dutch Labour Party is facing a wipeout – they’re currently projected to lose just over half of their 35 seats.

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The rise of the Dutch right

Dr van Kessel says it’s debatable whether the Netherlands truly ever was a country properly characterised by liberal tolerance and acceptance, where multiculturalism was truly celebrated.

“It was long considered politically incorrect to identify perceived problems concerning the cultural integration of immigrants,” he said.

“But since the rise of [anti-Islam leader] Pim Fortuyn in 2002, issues related to immigration and integration have been placed firmly on the political agenda.”

Dr van Ham agrees.

“There was this less tolerant side – which was there all the time, but was suppressed,” she said.

“They were told their opinions were racist and that it wasn’t okay to be anti-Islam or anti-immigrant – but then we had Fortuyn, who said that actually we needed to talk about these things and to call it out, and so that brought it all out into the open.”

Wilders has taken Fortuyn’s place in the Netherlands – Fortuyn was assassinated in the 2002 election campaign by a far-left activist.

Pallbearers carry the coffin of Dutch right-wing politician Pim Fortuyn out of the Laurentius and Elisabeth Cathedral in Rotterdam.AP Photo/Bas Czerwinski

Under siege from their right, more centrist parties have been attempting to woo voters by co-opting Wilders style rhetoric.

“Mark Rutte urged people with a migrant background to accept Dutch values – to ‘act normal’ – or to leave the country,” he said.

“The Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) leader Sybrand Buma proposed to teach immigrants the national anthem and to make schoolchildren sing it every morning in class.


“They have arguably legitimised the concerns expressed by the PVV, which is still the ‘issue owner’ regarding immigration and multiculturalism.”

It’s debatable whether that approach has worked – while the PVV has fallen from its peak of 21 per cent support to 15 per cent currently – Rutte’s party hasn’t been a major beneficiary.

Support for the left-of-centre Green Left and D66 have risen in line with the PVV’s most recent decline, as has the Christian Democratic Appeal.

As has been the case in Australia – major parties are losing ground as minor parties are surging.

As demonstrated to the left of the graph, in 2012 the mainstream centre-right VVD and centre-left PvdA plummeted. They have struggled to regain support as Wilders PVV and the Green Left have surged.Peilingwijzer

Dr van Ham says Rutte’s centre-right party will struggle to regain appeal from those who have fled to the far-right.

“These people are not only going for anti-immigration, they’re also against multinational corporations, against rich people getting richer, and there’s an anti-EU sentiment as well,” she said.

“Rutte and his party just can’t represent that, because they represent business interests and the governing elite.”

The centre-left will also have to undergo a change. The minor Green Left party has seen a sustained increase in support – the Labour party has flatlined.

“For the left, they have to re-engage with those lower-income, lower educated voters and see how they can better represent those voters,” Dr van Ham said.

Dutch PM Mark Rutte is struggling to maintain a narrow lead over Wilders in the final days of the election.EPA/REMKO DE WAAL

Dr van Ham says the reason voter are angry is because of their lived experiences, which makes them difficult to woo back to the establishment centre.  it’s their reality and that can’t be ignored.

“It’s their reality and that can’t be ignored,” she said.

“In the last 30 years, globalisation has improved trade flows and developing countries have become richer – and the rich have done well in developed countries – but for the lower middle-class it hasn’t done much for them at all,” she said.


“Globalisation just doesn’t have equally good effects for everyone.”

While Rutte has sworn not to include Wilders in a governing coalition – he was burned by Wilders after doing so in a previous government – Wilders’ inclusion may be unavoidable if he gains a sizable swathe of seats in a minority dominated parliament.

Dr van Ham puts little stock in his pre-election promise.

“Yeah, he goes back on his word pretty often,” she said.

After the assassination of Pim Fortuyn in 2002 and Theo van Gogh in 2004, Wilders has been sourrounded by tight security.Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Implications for Europe

The Netherlands will be the first of three major European elections to be held this year, with France and Germany to follow.

All three countries have seen a rise in support for far-right parties.

But Dr van Kessel is cautious about reading too much into the Dutch results when it comes to figuring out the broader implications for Europe.

He says the decline of the major parties and the rise of minor parties is likely a result of domestic politics.


The centre-left Labour party has been governing in coalition with Mark Rutte’s centre-right party – and it hasn’t been popular.

“Both are seen to have watered down their agenda, they are traditionally polar opposites on the class cleavage,” he said.

“The parties seem unable to benefit from the economic recovery, and their ability to pass many reforms.”

Dr van Ham puts it in starker terms.

“It would be a bit like Turnbull going together with Shorten now – that would make a lot of people very angry right?” she said.

Dr van Kessel, who lives in the UK, says that while the rise of euro-skeptic minor-parties is problematic for the European Union, he doesn’t see it as evidence of Brexit contagion.

“I’m not a big believer in other countries rapidly following the path of the UK, which has an exceptionally Eurosceptic electorate,” he said.  

“A victory of Marine Le Pen still looks unlikely – though I don’t dare to rule it out anymore after Brexit and Trump.”

He describes support for the far-right ‘Alternative for Germany’ party as “rather modest”.

Dutch PM Mark Rutte greets British PM Theresa May during an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday, March 9, 2017.Olivier Hoslet, Pool Photo via AP

Dealing with Wilders

It’s Dutch custom that the party with the largest number of seats is given the first opportunity to form government, normally one or two other parties.

This year, it looks like it’s down to Wilders or Rutte – and negotiations are likely to be more complex than ever.

“Up until the 1990s, there would generally be three parties which would get 80 per cent of the vote between them so you only had to form a coalition with one or two other parties at most,” Dr van Ham said.

“Now it looks like only two parties are likely to get more than 20 per cent of the vote and many other parties might get 10 per cent to 15 per cent.”

Indeed, according to the latest polls, no party is pulling higher than 17 per cent.

That likely means cobbling together a majority of 75 seats could take weeks or months of protracted negotiations after the dust of the campaign settles.

Wilders shakes hands with Rutte at a newspaper forum, leaders from the Socialist Party, D66 and the Labour party look on.AP Photo/Peter Dejong

Forming a coalition which excludes Wilders and his projected 23 seats will require some complex triangulation between parties which may have little ideologically in common.

Forming a coalition with Wilders at the helm, or in second place, will also prove challenging.

“If the PVV is included, it’s going to take a long time, because the ideological differences are just so large,” Dr van Ham said.  

“Wilders wants things like banning Islamic headscarves and shutting down Islamic schools, which goes against our constitution, so if they have to be included there will be a lot of parties strongly pushing back against that.”

But Dr van Ham says the best outcome may be for Wilders to be included in the government, although she’s no fan of the party herself.

“What we know from experience elsewhere is that when you govern you inevitably make mistakes, and they will have to compromise and moderate to get things done,” she said.

“Right now all his support is based on promises, and not on what he can deliver.”

The Netherlands heads to the polls on Wednesday, March 15.


Turkey minister lashes out at ‘ugly’ Dutch treatment

Turkey’s Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya was back in Istanbul on Sunday after being expelled from the Netherlands and escorted back to Germany by Dutch police, condemning The Hague’s “ugly” treatment.


“We were subjected to rude and tough treatment… Treating a female minister this way is very ugly,” Kaya told reporters at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, where she was welcomed by a crowd waving Turkish flags.


“As a minister holding a diplomatic passport, I don’t have to get permission to come together with our citizens at our consulate, which is considered Turkish territory,” said Kaya, who wears the Islamic headscarf.

The minister was expelled after being prevented from addressing a rally in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam.

The Dutch government said it had told Turkey it could not compromise on public order and security.

“We were stopped 30 metres (yards) from the consulate building and were not allowed to access it. And our chief consul was not allowed to exit the consulate building to meet us… We were held for hours,” Kaya said. 

“We were subjected to inhumane, immoral treatment. We had a bitter night in Holland.”

The Netherlands is home to some 400,000 people of Turkish origin, and Ankara is keen to harness votes of the diaspora in Europe ahead of an April 16 referendum on boosting presidential powers.

Also on Sunday, The Hague refused to allow Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s plane to land ahead of a planned rally, with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan likening the ban to Nazism.

Protesters angry at the treatment of Turkey’s Family Minister rally at the Dutch Embassy in Ankara.AAP

Swans AFL forwards looking lively

Sam Reid’s return to fitness and a roaming Lance Franklin are set to create plenty of headaches for opposing AFL defences, judging by their form for Sydney in the final AFL pre-season game on Sunday.


The trio of Reid, Franklin and Kurt Tippett snaffled 21 marks between them in Sydney’s three-point win over St Kilda in Albury..

Reid notched nine, Franklin, seven and Tippett five.

With Reid holding down centre half forward, Tippett alternating between the ruck and deep forward, a lively Franklin had licence to roam and made his presence felt.

He racked up 22 possessions, several outside the forward 50 and frequently found his teammates with pinpoint kicks.

“It’s always nice getting out of the forward 50 and getting some touches,” Franklin told Fox Footy.

“I think that will be part of my play this year again, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Reid didn’t play any senior games last season due to injuries, but looks sharp after thee good hit-outs..

“Obviously missing a lot of footy, we wanted him to play big minutes during the pre-season games,” Sydney coach John Longmire said.

‘We’ve played him a lot during the last three weeks and he’s been getting better every week, so it’s good to see him in that sort of form and good for his confidence.”

Another player catching the eye in Albury was Zak Jones.

Used primarily at half back in his breakout season last year, Jones is expected to get a good portion of midfield minutes in the coming campaign.

He impressed with his speed and distribution against the Saints, gathering a team-high 20 kicks and challenging the opposition with his running.

“He’s’ playing quite well, he’s still learning and improving, particularly in that midfield group,” Longmire said.

“But he gives us some really quality outside run and he’s been really good over the pre-season.”

Longmire said Isaac Heeney, who has also been earmarked for more midfield time this year, would likely take things easy for another week as he recovers from glandular fever.

“I’d rather be a little bit later with his return to training than pushing him and be a bit too early.” Longmire said.

Swans’ medical staff told him Heath Grundy was okay after getting a head knock on Sunday and Longmire said Callum Mills was rested for the latter part of the game after suffering a cork at training, but could have played more.

Semi gives Eels best NRL start since ’99

Semi Radradra scored his first four-try haul on Sunday night as Parramatta made their best start to a NRL season since 1999, trouncing St George Illawarra 34-16 in Wollongong.


Radradra crossed for two tries in each half, scoring three on his left wing before coming in-field for his fourth to finish the match.

“He turned up well in the right areas,” coach Brad Arthur said.

Michael Jennings also provided an outstanding try-assist when he flicked a ball one-handed between his legs to put the winger over for his second.

It marks the first time in 18 years the Eels have gone two from two, after defeating Manly last week, 20-12.

Clint Gutherson and Corey Norman again looked dangerous in the halves as the Eels ran away with the match in the first half.

The pair combined for Gutherson’s opening try after 40 seconds, while Norman put in a perfectly weighted grubber for Brad Takairangi to score before halftime.

It marked the second time in as many weeks that Norman controlled a match with poise as the Eels again dominated territory and possession.

“He still hasn’t hit his straps in gaining full match fitness,” Arthur said of Norman.

“On the back of what our forwards have provided for him at the moment he is getting the ball in good situations and he’s just shown a real level of patience and maturity.”

Norman then threw a long pass while being held in the 58th minute to give Radradra his third.

The game is just the second Norman and Gutherson have played together in the halves but, along with fullback Bevan French, the Eels look as threatening as they have for a long time.

French scored one himself, dummying three times as he bamboozled the Dragons’ defence in the second half in front of 16,023 fans.

He then laid on a brilliant inside ball for Radradra to score his fourth to seal the win.

The Dragons looked more like the side tipped at the start of the season to be wooden-spoon contenders, than the one who beat Penrith last weekend, 42-10.

Gareth Widdop, Josh Dugan and Paul Vaughan all scored for the Dragons, but they were rarely in the contest.

Prop Russell Packer dropped the first pass of the match to help Parramatta to their first try, while they turned it over on their next set when Josh McCrone fumbled a ball on the last.

“That was the tone of the game, every time we turned the ball over they scored,” coach Paul McGregor said.

“Six of their tries came directly off our errors. We kicked the ball dead four times. We beat ourselves up a bit tonight.”

Landslide at Ethiopia garbage dump kills dozens

Saturday’s landslide flattened dozens of homes of people living in the Koshe dump when part of the largest pile of rubbish collapsed, an AFP journalist said.


Dagmawit Moges, head of the city communications bureau, said 46 people had died – 32 female and 14 male, including some children.  

Many of the victims were squatters who scavenged for a living in the 30-hectare dump, she said.

Musa Suleiman Abdulah, who lost his wooden shack topped with plastic sheeting in the disaster, said when it happened, he heard “a big sound”.

“When we came out, something like a tornado is rushing to us. We started to collect family members” and escape, he said. “People helped. My child and family left before the destruction happened.”

The streets in the neighbourhood below were filled with women sobbing and wailing.

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Bystanders said there were still people trapped under collapsed mounds of rubbish, but police were preventing locals from getting close to the site.

Just six people were seen digging through the rubbish on Sunday looking for survivors and bodies.

Ibrahim Mohammed, a day labourer living at the landfill whose house was narrowly spared destruction, said the disaster happened in “three minutes”.

He estimated that more than 300 people live on the landfill.

Construction materials, wooden sticks and plastic sheeting could be seen in the wreckage, the AFP journalist said.

Rampant poverty

For more than 40 years the Koshe site has been the main garbage dump for Addis Ababa, a rapidly growing city of some four million people.

According to local residents, some 50 houses with about seven people living in each of them were built on the trash.

People had built the houses about two to three years ago, said Berhanu Degefe, a rubbish collector who lives at the dump but whose home was not destroyed.

“Their livelihood depends on the trash. They collect from here and they live here,” Degefe said, referring to the victims and other squatters.

“This part, all of it went down,” he said, gesturing at a huge chunk of the hill that suddenly slid. “A lot of people died last night.”

Degefe blamed the collapse on a new biogas plant being constructed on top of the hill.

The AFP journalist saw bulldozers on top of the hill pushing piles of rubbish around.

Degefe said they were levelling ground for the plant, increasing pressure on the hillside and causing the collapse.

Mohammed also blamed the biogas plant  construction for the tragedy, saying trash had been compressed and the landslide happened “because a lot of garbage is dumped on the top level” and “pressed… down”.

The journalist also saw cracks in the ground at the top of the hill, suggesting that more of the pile could slide.

Koshe, whose name means “dirt” in local slang, was closed last year by city authorities who asked people to move to a new dump site outside Addis Ababa.

But the community there did not want the landfill, and so the garbage collectors moved back.

Poverty and food insecurity are sensitive issues in Ethiopia, which was hit by a famine in 1984-85 after extreme drought.

In recent years, the country has been one of Africa’s top-performing economies and a magnet for foreign investment, with growth in near-double digits and huge infrastructure investment.

Still, nearly 20 million Ethiopians live below the poverty line set by the World Bank.

Critics have hit out at the government’s economic policies saying they have a limited trickle-down effect from the elite down to the majority of the people.

Ousted Park leaves Blue House in disgrace

Disgraced South Korean leader Park Geun-hye has left the presidential Blue House, two days after a court dismissed her over a corruption scandal, bound for her private home and facing possible prosecution and jail.


Park left the compound on Sunday in a motorcade of fast-driving black cars, flanked by police motorbikes, after bidding farewell to staff, an official said.

She was heading for her home in the Gangnam district of the capital, Seoul, where hundreds of flag-waving supporters waited.

“President Park Geun-hye has just now departed the Blue House and headed for her private home,” a Blue House official said by text message.

The Constitutional Court ruled on Friday to uphold a parliamentary vote to impeach Park, dismissing her from office over an influence-peddling scandal that has shaken the country’s political and business elite.

A snap presidential election will be held by May 9.

Park, 65, is South Korea’s first democratically elected leader to be forced from office.

Her dismissal followed months of political paralysis and turmoil over the graft scandal that also landed the head of the Samsung conglomerate in jail and facing trial.

The crisis has coincided with rising tension with North Korea and anger from China over the deployment in South Korea of a US missile-defence system.

Park did not appear in court on Friday and she has not made any comment since. She remained in the Blue House, prompting some grumbling from critics keen to see her stripped of the privileges of power.

Her dismissal marked a dramatic fall from grace of South Korea’s first woman president and daughter of Cold War military dictator Park Chung-hee.

It was not the first time she has had to leave the Blue House compound of traditional-style buildings at the foot of a hill in central Seoul.

In 1979, after a nine-day funeral following the assassination of her father, the young Park left the Blue House with her siblings for a family home. She had been acting first lady after her mother was shot and killed in an earlier failed assassination attempt on her father.

Now, having lost presidential immunity, she could face criminal charges over bribery, extortion and abuse of power in connection with allegations of conspiring with her friend, Choi Soon-sil.

Both women deny wrongdoing.

Earlier on Sunday, media outside her private home said renovators were at work inside. Television later showed a moving van outside the house and men unloading boxes and furniture.

The liberal politician likely to become the next president, Moon Jae-in, promised to work for justice and common sense.

“We still have a long way to go. We have to make this a country of justice, of common sense through regime change,” Moon, who advocates reconciliation with North Korea, told a news conference.

Moon is leading in opinion polls which show South Koreans are likely to throw out the conservatives after nearly a decade in power and turn to a liberal leader.

Thousands of Park’s opponents celebrated in Seoul on Saturday, where they have been gathering every weekend for months, and demanded that she be arrested.

Woodward warns of Irish ambush for grand slam chasing England

England can also set a tier-one record of successive wins with victory in Dublin, after Saturday’s triumph drew them level with New Zealand on 18.


“That performance, and in particular a ruthlessly efficient and effective first half, has been brewing for a while. In fact it was overdue…,” Woodward wrote in his column in the Daily Mail on Sunday.

“You don’t win 18 tests in a row by being anything other than quite exceptional… This is still early days for a developing team, they are one year in to a four-year plan, and their potential is positively scary.”

Ireland are joint second with France, eight points behind England, and Woodward said no longer being in the hunt for the title would ease the pressure on the home side when England visit on March 18.

“I would have much preferred Ireland to have beaten Wales on Friday which would seen the Irish chasing the Championship themselves in front of their own fans” he added. “That would have brought its own pressure.

“Now the Irish are free to make mischief and life as difficult as possible for England as Eddie Jones’ team also look to make it a world record 19 test wins on the trot.

“For the second time in five months the Irish can go against national stereotype and act as party poopers.”

Ireland stunned New Zealand 40-29 in November, bringing an end to the All Blacks’ record 18-match winning streak, which England tied with their victory over Scotland.

The same opponents now stand in England’s way of edging ahead of New Zealand in the record books.

“The Irish will have an ambush planned, they have 80 minutes to resurrect their season and I can guarantee you Eddie will not consider this a successful season unless they get the job done in Dublin,” he said.

“Great sides win big matches on the road.”

(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

IS fighters ‘trapped’ in Mosul after last road cut

They recaptured east Mosul earlier this year, and are now battling to retake its western side from the jihadist group, which seized the country’s second city along with swathes of other territory in 2014.


But IS has seen a stark reversal of its fortunes since then.

IS “is trapped. Just last night, the 9th Iraqi army division, up near Badush, just northwest of Mosul, cut off the last road out of Mosul,” Brett McGurk told journalists in Baghdad.

Iraqi soldiers and pro-government paramilitaries are fighting IS west of Mosul, while two special forces units and the federal police battle the jihadists inside it.


[email protected] @CENTCOM @FORSCOM @brett_mcgurk tells @AP: “#ISIS is trapped” in W #Mosul. pic.twitter苏州美甲培训学校按摩论坛,/bCUT0dWdds

— Danger 6 (@Danger6_1ID) March 12, 2017

“Any of the fighters who are left in Mosul, they’re going to die there, because they’re trapped. So we are very committed to not just defeating them in Mosul, but making sure these guys cannot escape,” McGurk said.

In practice, IS fighters may still be able to sneak in and out of the city in small numbers, but the lack of access to roads makes larger-scale movement and resupply more difficult, if not impossible.

IS has lost “over 60 percent of the territory it once held here in Iraq, and is losing more every day,” and is losing fighters faster than it can replace them, McGurk said.

Nearly 90,000 trained personnel

“We now believe that we are killing so many of their fighters that they are not able to replace them. That was not the case even a year ago,” said McGurk, putting the toll for IS leaders at 180 dead.

In addition to carrying out strikes targeting IS, the US-led coalition has trained nearly 90,000 members of the Iraqi security forces, the US envoy said.

Washington had spent billions of dollars training and equipping Iraqi forces prior to its military withdrawal in 2011, but that effort did not translate into long-term competence, with Baghdad’s forces performing dismally in the early days of the 2014 IS offensive.

The US envoy says the US-led coalition has trained nearly 90,000 members of the Iraqi security forces.AP

Iraqi forces have since made a major turnaround, dealing IS a string of defeats and launching a massive operation in October to recapture Mosul.

While the noose is tightening around the jihadists still in Mosul, the city’s recapture would not spell the end of IS.

It also holds areas in western Iraq as well as across the border in Syria, including Raqa, the only city aside from Mosul in which IS still holds significant territory.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, an umbrella group for Kurdish and Arab fighters, are closing in on Raqa, with McGurk saying that they were some 10 kilometres (six miles) from the city.

“Raqa remains their administrative capital, it’s where we think a lot of their leaders are located, it’s where we think they are planning a lot of attacks around the world,” he said.