Palestine: Abbas appoints new prime minister

RAMALLAH, Palestine (AA) – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday appointed senior Fatah official Mohammad Shtayeh as a new prime minister, according to the official Wafa news agency.

Shtayeh, a member of Fatah's Central Committee, will replace Rami Hamdallah, who tendered his resignation in January upon "recommendations" from Fatah group.

Fatah argued that the move was taken over "intransigence" of its rival group Hamas and "its refusal to deal with the national reconciliation government."

Hamas and Fatah have been at odds since the former seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 from Fatah after street fighting.

Born in 1958 in a village near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, Shtayeh is a Palestinian politician and economic expert.

He served as a minister of public works and housing between 2005-2006 and 2008-2010 and head of the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction.

Shtayeh holds a doctorate in economic development from the University of Sussex, UK, and worked as a professor and dean at Birzeit University.

Kazakhstan: President appoints Mamin as prime minister

             ASTANA, Kazakhstan (AA) - Kazakhstan’s president on Monday appointed Askar Mamin as the prime minister of the country.</p>    <p>In a written statement, the Kazakh Presidency said President Nursultan Nazarbayev presented Mamin, 53, as the candidate for the post to the approval of the lawmakers at a parliamentary session.</p>    <p>After the parliament ratified Mamin's candidacy, Nazarbayev signed the decree announcing Mamin as the premier of Kazakhstan.</p>      <p>On Thursday, Nazarbayev dismissed the government citing a lack of economic growth. </p>  <p>It marked the end of Bakytzhan Sagintayev, former Kazakh premier, government which began in 2016.</p>    <p>Mamin, who was the former deputy prime minister, was appointed as the interim premier, filling the gap for the post.

Ramallah cuts stipends for Palestine martyrs, detainees

            By Nour Abu Aisha <br>

GAZA CITY, Palestine (AA) – The Ramallah-based Palestinian government has reduced monthly stipends paid to the families of Palestinians martyred or imprisoned by Israel, according to local sources.

Daoud Shihab, a spokesman for the Islamic Jihad movement, said: "Cutting stipends for the families of martyrs, prisoners, former prisoners, and civil servants [in Gaza] is a crime against the Palestinian homeland and cause."

At a joint press conference organized by several Palestinian factions (and held near the Gaza City home of President Mahmoud Abbas), Shihab asserted: “Our prisoners [in Israeli jails] should not be exploited for political point-scoring.”

Ramallah’s decision to reduce stipends for the families of prisoners and martyrs, he added, “specifically targets the Palestinian people and their struggle against occupation”.

Leaders of other factions who attended Thursday’s press conference demanded that the move be reversed "as it contradicts the most basic principles and ethics of the Palestinian people”.

In a related development, the Al-Dameer Association for Human Rights, a Palestinian NGO, reported Thursday that Ramallah had also cut the salaries of more than 5,000 civil servants in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

According to the NGO, the move was predicated on the “political affiliations” of the targeted civil servants — a reference to the link many of them have with Hamas.

Ramallah, for its part, has yet to issue a statement on the reported stipend and salary cuts.

Turkey welcomes formation of new government in Lebanon

            By Fatih Hafiz Mehmet</p>  <p>ANKARA (AA) - Turkey welcomes the formation of a new government in Lebanon, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement late Friday.</p>  <p>Following an eight-month deadlock, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced Thursday that the country has a new cabinet. </p>  <p>&quot;This development will definitely contribute to the social peace and stability of Lebanon,&quot; the ministry said.</p>  <p>It said Turkey hopes Lebanon's traditional understanding of consensus and comprehensiveness will continue during the period of the new government.</p>  <p>The statement added that Turkey has always placed &quot;great importance&quot; on the sovereignty, independence, security and stability of Lebanon and will continue to support the &quot;friendly and brotherly Lebanese people and government&quot;.

Lebanese premier announces birth of long-waited Cabinet

             By Ali Abo Rezeg </p>  <p>ANKARA (AA) - Following an eight-month deadlock, Lebanon’s prime minister on Thursday officially announced the country has a new Cabinet. </p>  <p>Following a meeting with the country’s president, Saad Hariri told reporters at the Baabda presidential palace in the capital Beirut that a Cabinet had finally been formed.</p>  <p>&quot;We apologize to the Lebanese people about the delay of the Cabinet formation,&quot; Hariri said. </p>  <p>Ever since Lebanon held parliamentary polls last May, Hariri has struggled to draw up a new government.</p>  <p>&quot;Solving the country's problems and overcoming the economic crisis can be achieved only by [national] consensus,&quot; he added. </p>  <p>A well-informed source who asked not to be named told Anadolu Agency earlier Thursday that Hariri had already gone to the presidential palace to submit the proposed government lineup.

According to the same source, the new lineup includes 30 Cabinet ministers from all of the country’s main political factions.

Earlier Thursday Hariri said in televised remarks that "the incoming government will have to make difficult choices, not least of which will be how to reduce the state budget."

The process of forming a cabinet has faced repeated delays amid mutual recriminations between leading political forces and demands by certain parties for greater representation.

New Lebanon gov’t on verge of being unveiled: Acting PM

            BEIRUT (AA) - Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri has said that he plans to present his new cabinet lineup to President Michel Aoun late Thursday evening.</p>  <p>A well-informed source who preferred anonymity told Anadolu Agency that Hariri had already gone to the Baabda presidential palace in Beirut to submit his proposed government lineup.<br>

According to the same source, the new lineup — which will finally be unveiled after an eight-month political stalemate — includes 30 cabinet ministers from all of the country’s main political forces.

"The incoming government will have to make difficult choices, not least of which will be how to reduce the state budget," Hariri said in televised remarks earlier Thursday.

Ever since Lebanon held parliamentary polls in May of last year, Hariri has struggled to draw up a new government.

The process has faced repeated delays amid mutual recriminations between leading political forces and demands by certain parties for greater representation.

Palestinian president accepts Cabinet’s resignation

                <p>By Aysar al-Ais </p>    <p>RAMALLAH, Palestine (AA) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and his Cabinet, according to the official news agency Wafa.</p>    <p>Abbas has now appointed Hamdallah the caretaker prime minister until a new Cabinet is formed.</p>    <p>Earlier Tuesday, Hamdallah announced submitting the resignation of his Cabinet, following a recommendation by the Central Committee of Fatah group in order to form a new government.</p>    <p>On Sunday, Fatah recommended formation of a new government from the factions of the Palestine Liberation Organization and independent figures.</p>  <p> </p>  <p>Fatah justified the move with the &quot;intransigence of Hamas and its refusal to deal with the government of national reconciliation.”</p>    <p>Hamas and Fatah have been at odds since the former seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 from Fatah after street fighting.</p>    <p>Since September 2013, Hamdallah chaired the government, commissioned by Abbas, and in February 2014 the former formed the government of national reconciliation with understanding between all Palestinian factions.</p> 

Fatah leads talks to form new Palestinian gov't

By Qays Abu Samra

RAMALLAH, Palestine (AA) – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah group on Monday began consultations with other Palestinian factions and figures to form a new government, according to a leading group member.

The consultations are being held with members of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and independent figures amid crippling reconciliation efforts with Hamas.

"Fatah is the largest faction of the PLO and has the right to propose a [new] head of the government," Majed al-Fatiani, Secretary-General of Fatah's Central Committee, said in a statement.

He said "the intransigence of Hamas and its refusal to deal with the government of national reconciliation" prompted the Palestinian leadership to think about forming a new government.

Hamas and Fatah have been at odds since the former seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 from Fatah after street fighting.

Nigerian govt asks chief justice to step down

By Rafiu Ajakaye

LAGOS, Nigeria (AA) – The Nigerian government on Tuesday asked the country's chief justice to step down from office while he faces charges on six counts of failing to declare his assets and operating unlawful offshore accounts.

The government had last week filed charges before the country's code of conduct tribunal accusing Walter Onnoghen of violating the country's laws for public servants. Onnoghen did not appear at the tribunal to take his plea as demanded in criminal trial, saying instead that the panel lacks jurisdiction.

“We have an application that the tribunal should direct the Honorable Chief Justice to step aside pending the determination of the case,” Aliu Umar, counsel to the government, told the tribunal on Tuesday at the resumption of the hearing.

Onnoghen did not appear at the hearing for the second time, relying on injunctions by two federal courts which asked the tribunal to stay action until cases on the matter have been decided.

Umar said the government may also seek the arrest of the top judge if he continues to ignore summons.

Onnoghen has gone down in history as Nigeria’s first head of the judiciary to be docked for corruption.

The tribunal has slated Feb 4. for the continuation of the trial.

Burkina Faso’s PM, government resign

            By Alahattin Dogru</p>  <p>DAKAR (AA) – Burkina Faso’s government and Prime Minister Paul Kaba Thieba resigned Friday, Thieba announced on his social media account. </p>  <p>President Roch Marc Christian accepted the resignations, Thieba said in a post on Twitter. </p>  <p>He did not give any explanation, but a rising wave of terrorist attacks in the country is thought to be behind the move. </p>  <p>The West African country has been battling terrorist attacks since 2015, which have taken 300 lives so far, according to official figures. </p>  <p>A state of emergency has been in effect since Jan. 1 in several provinces near the borders with Mali and Niger.