Thursday, November 23, 2017

Syrian Army Supported by Russian Air Force on Offensive in Euphrates Valley
23 Nov, 2017 05:44
Rt.com

FILE PHOTO: Syrian army soldiers fire on the Islamic State (IS) positions near the city of al-Bukamal © Ammar Safarjalani / Global Look Press

Syrian troops are making steadfast advances along the west bank of the Euphrates and ousting Islamic State, the Russian Defense Ministry said. The news comes after a series of major defeats for the jihadists, close to being wiped out in eastern Syria.

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Thursday that the eastern part of Syria will soon be fully liberated by government forces. This will mean defeating the last remaining Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) units holding swaths of land west of the Euphrates.

“Syrian army units led by General Suheil al-Hassan and supported by the Russian Air Force are chasing and destroying terrorist groups in the Euphrates valley, moving forward along the river’s west bank,” the statement said.

Al-Hassan, whom the ministry called “a legendary general,” is known as a top Syrian commander in charge of troops spearheading the major offensive against terrorists in eastern Syria. Nicknamed “the Tiger,” he played crucial role in ousting IS militants from the cities of Aleppo, Deir ez-Zor, Al-Mayadeen and, lastly, Abu-Kamal.

Abu Kamal was the last major Syrian city in the hands of Islamists. Last week government forces, backed by Russian airstrikes, finally recaptured the city, clearing the militants from their last key redoubt on the Syria-Iraq border.

Life is now steadily returning to normal in Abu-Kamal, where General al-Hassan’s troops have arranged the delivery of medical, water and food supplies, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

The city had long been of paramount importance to the Islamists as they used Abu Kamal for ferrying militants from Syria into Iraq and vice versa during the previous stages of war against IS. Its liberation heralds the long-awaited demise of the terrorist group in Syria.

The Russian military command says Islamic State will be wiped out from Syria by year’s end. Meanwhile, the government’s latest victories allow Damascus and its allies to gain momentum and try to open ways for a post-war political settlement.

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Hassan Rouhani of Iran and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey at the Black Sea resort city of Sochi to discuss a roadmap for a Syrian national dialogue involving the government and rival opposition forces.

On the same day, the chiefs of general staff of Russia, Iran and Turkey met in Sochi to join efforts in fighting Islamic State and other terrorist groups in Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry said, adding that the military leaders also agreed to step up coordination in the de-escalation zone in Idlib.

In the run-up to the trilateral meeting, Putin hosted Syrian President Bashar Assad in Sochi on Monday. The Presidents, who had last met in Moscow in October 2015, said that the military stage of the conflict was coming to an end, and agreed it is now time to talk peace.

Putin also had an hour-long telephone conversation with Donald Trump, briefing him on Syrian peace efforts. “Both the parties expressed satisfaction with the phone call, which was practical and informative,” a Kremlin statement said.

The White House said in turn that Washington reaffirmed its support for the Joint Statement of the US and Russia issued at the APEC summit on November 11. “We’re talking very strongly about bringing peace to Syria, very strongly about North Korea, and about Ukraine," Trump told journalists following the phone call with Putin.
Syria, Iran Discuss Academic Cooperation and Exchange of Scholarships
23 November، 2017

Damascus, SANA – Higher Education Minister Atef Naddaf discussed on Thursday with Iranian Ambassador to Syria Jawad Turk Abadi means of developing academic cooperation between Iran and Syria and prospects of strengthening it.

The two sides focused on the situation of Syrian students dispatched to study in Iran as well as following up on the Iranian students who have scholarships for studying in Syria.

Naddaf stressed the Ministry’s keenness to enhance the academic relations with Iran through increasing the number of exchanged scholarships, carrying out joint theses between the universities of the two countries and holding Arabic language training courses for Iranian students.

For his part, Abadi lauded the strategic partnership between the two countries in combating terrorism and exchanging academic expertise, highlighting the importance of intensifying exchange of visits to develop prospects of cooperation between the Syrian and Iranian universities.

Shaza/H. Said
Syria, DPRK Discuss Cooperation in Reconstruction
22 November، 2017

Damascus, SANA – Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Rima al-Qadiri discussed on Wednesday with the Ambassador of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in Damascus Jang Myong Ho means to enhance bilateral relations, particularly in the reconstruction process.

Minister al-Qadiri said that the Syrian people highly appreciate the stances of DPRK’s people in supporting Syria, mainly during the reconstruction stage, highlighting the importance of benefiting from the highly specialized expertise of the Korean side.

In turn, the Ambassador expressed his country’s readiness to contribute to the reconstruction of Syria with its expertise and companies specialized in decor and construction.

M.al-Frieh/H. Said
Cuban Radio &Television Institute Chairman: Syria Will Triumph Over Terrorism
23 November، 2017

Havana, SANA- Chairman of the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television (ICRT) Alfonso Noya Martinez expressed his country’s full confidence that Syria will triumph over terrorism not only on the military level, but also on the media level, noting that the Cuban side is ready to cooperate and coordinate with the Syrian media institutions.

Meeting Syria’s Ambassador to Cuba Idris Mayya, on Thursday, Martinez stressed that all Cuban media institutions are closely following up the latest developments in Syria, and they have always voiced solidarity and support to the country in its war against terrorism.

For his part, Mayya affirmed that the common challenges facing the two countries entail uniting media efforts and enhancing cooperation to foil the schemes hatched against the two countries, referring to the fierce media campaigns launched against Syria since the beginning of the crisis.

Mayya added that Syrian national media with its experience and modest capabilities has been able to face the hostile media campaigns, hailing the significant role of the friendly media in this regard.

H. Zain/ R. Jazaeri
Syria Welcomes Final Statement of Sochi Summit
22 November، 2017

Damascus, SANA-Syria welcomed the final Statement of the tripartite summit held on Wednesday in the Russian city of Sochi.

“In light of the Syrian Arab Republic’s commitment to support any political step that respects the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria and contributes to sparing the blood of the Syrian people, the Syrian government welcomes the final statement of the tripartite summit held today in Sochi,” an official source at Foreign and Expatriates Ministry said.

The source added that the summit comes as a completion of the Russian-Syrian summit held on Monday and its outcomes regarding the agreement to continue the fight against terrorism, the basic principles to organize the political track for the crisis in Syria, hold a Syrian-Syrian national dialogue conference and form a committee to discuss the current constitution and later run parliamentary elections.

Manar/Mazen
Syrian-Armenian Business Council Discusses Bolstering Bilateral Cooperation
21 November، 2017

Aleppo, SANA – The Syrian-Armenian Business Council’s General Board held a meeting for the first time since several years of terrorist war on Syria.

Head of the Syrian-Armenian Business Council, Leon Zaki, highlighted the situation of economy in Armenia and its trade relations with Syria, pointing out to the facilitations and other procedures to further enhance trade exchange and cooperation agreements on investment protection and avoidance of double taxation.

Zaki reviewed the outcomes of the visit of Armenian economic delegation to Syria in October which constituted a turning point in Syrian-Armenian relations and contributed to enlisting Armenia as a partner in the reconstruction stage to rebuild terror-affected areas, highlighting exerted efforts to organize a permanent exhibition for Syrian products in Yerevan.

For his part, Aleppo Governor, Hussein Diab, hailed the Syrian-Armenian relations which are based on solid foundation of cooperation, calling for further bolstering economic relations and expanding them.

He stressed the need to activate the role of the Syrian-Armenian Business Council and encourage creative thoughts to revive bilateral relations.

A preview on the Council’s objectives and activities since its launching in 2009 and efforts exerted to enhance cooperation between the two countries was presented.

The participants stressed the importance of organizing joint activities, exchanging visits and increasing volume of trade exchange between Syria and Armenia.

R.Raslan/Mazen
“Syria Which Will Triumph” Photo Exhibition Documents Syrian-Russian Friendship
23 November، 2017

Damascus, SANA- More than 100 large photos documenting activities of the Regional and Social Fund for the Russian Spiritual Heritage Foundation of St. Paul  in all Syrian cities were displayed in an exhibition titled “Syria which will Triumph” at Damascus-based Kafr Souseh Cultural Center.

The exhibition which will last till November 26th is organized by Russian Spiritual Heritage Foundation of St. Paul in cooperation with the Culture Ministry.

The exhibited spontaneous photos shed light on the participation of the Foundation’s volunteers in the restoration of a number of archaeological buildings in Syria after liberating them from the hands of terrorists, in addition to their participation in providing humanitarian relief for those who were affected by terrorist acts in a number of cities and areas in Syria.

The exhibition also embraced screenshots showing citizens’ daily life after restoring security to their cities and villages by the Syrian Arab Army.

Assistant Culture Minister Tawfiq al-Imam told SANA in a statement that the exhibition coincides with the victories achieved by the Syrian Arb Army over terrorism and the Ministry’s festivity on occasion of its inception anniversary, indicating that the exhibition embodies the work of the Russian Foundation in a number of Syrian areas and the firm relations between the two countries on all levels.

For her part, chairwoman of the Russian delegation Valentina Valanseva said “The displayed photos aim at conveying an image about the suffering of the Syrian people to the whole world and they document our work with the Syrian citizens after liberating a number of Syrian areas from terrorism and they monitor the daily life of the Syrian people which we witnessed during our voluntary work.”

Valanseva pointed out that the exhibition also reflects a part of the Syrians’ joy after the victories over terrorism which will be fully eradicated from all Syrian areas soon, asserting that all the photos were spontaneously taken and translated the Syrian people’s love for life and showed their suffering from terrorism.

For her part, Director General of the Martyrs’ Sons and Daughters Schools Establishment Shahira Fallouh said that the exhibition documents Syria’s victory over terrorism and the deep-rooted relations of friendship and cooperation binding Syrian and Russian people.
Shaaban: Syria Ready for Dialogue With Whoever Believes in Political Solution to the Crisis
23 November، 2017

Damascus, SANA- Presidential Political and Media Advisor Dr.  Bouthaina Shaaban stressed that Syria is adopting a constructive practical approach that believes in partnership, political dialogue and the common destiny of all the segments of the Syrian people, expressing the Government’s readiness to hold dialogue with whoever believes in the political solution to the crisis in Syria.

Commenting on the upcoming Syrian National Dialogue Congress, Shaaban told Sputnik Agency that “The success of the congress is based on making the armed groups realize that it is time to stop violence, hand their arms over and engage in a national dialogue that will lead to a comprehensive settlement of all issues related to the current crisis.”

Shaaban added “We are ready to hold dialogue with those who believe in the political solution to the crisis and the responsibility of the other side,” indicating that the desire of the “opposition” or even its ability to participate in a political process has not become clear yet.

The final statement of the tripartite Russian-Iranian-Turkish Summit on Wednesday called upon “representatives of the Syrian Government and opposition which is committed to Syria’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity to participate in a constructive way in the National Dialogue Congress to be held soon in Sochi,” indicating at the same time that the three states agreed on actively working on enhancing the success of the Congress.

R. Jazaeri/ H. Zain
Mikdad: We Support UN Role in Case it Respects its Charter and States’ Sovereignty
23 November، 2017

Damascus, SANA- Deputy Foreign and Expatriates Minister Fayssal Mikdad stressed that the summit meeting between President Bashar al-Assad and President Vladimir Putin is one of the most important meetings as it came before holding the tripartite summit in Sochi city in Russia and it conveyed a message that Russia stands by Syria and consults with it on sensitive issues.

In an interview with the Syrian TV on Wednesday,  Mikdad commented on Sochi statement, saying that the language of the statement affirms the political sides which “we have dealt with over the past years, and it deals with issues of combating terrorism and the bases set to accomplish the political process.”

Answering a question on the UN role in the future political process in Syria, Mikdad said “We support the role of the UN in case it respects its Charter which embodies the sovereignty and the independence of the states and the noninterference in their internal affairs…when the UN practices its role on these bases we welcome it.”

“The committee to discuss constitution during the coming National Dialogue Congress in Sochi doesn’t have an official nature and it is a brainstorming process as the Syrian Arab Republic discusses its constitution according to the constitutional mechanisms adopted by the laws in force similar to the parliamentary elections which are conducted according to a constitutional mechanism and the ballot boxes,” Mikdad added.

He clarified that the battel against terrorism has almost reached the end and the remnants of Jabhat al-Nusra and Daesh terrorists and the groups affiliated to them will naturally decline, asserting that the battel will continue till fully eliminating terrorism.

Mikdad called upon the states which are part of the illegal US-led coalition to withdraw from it, calling upon the US at the same time to stop its operations in Syria and withdraw its forces from it, and to combat terrorism according to the recognized international mechanism.

R. Jazaeri/ H. Zain
Terrorists Target Electric Power Substation in Daraa
23 November، 2017

Daraa, SANA – In a new breach of the de-escalation zone agreement in the southern region, terrorist groups attacked the electric power substation of Khirbet Ghazaleh to the east of Daraa city.

A source at Daraa Electricity Company told SANA that the armed groups on Thursday targeted with a rocket shell the electric power substation of Khirbet Ghazaleh, causing power outage in Daraa city and to water pumping stations in al-Ashaari.

This has forced the company to stop supply through the substation and resort to an alternative reserve line and thus increasing electricity rationing hours, the source said.

The source added that the maintenance teams have immediately embarked on repair works to restore power in gradually.

Shaza/H. Said
Celebration in Hasaka After al-Boukamal’s Liberation
21 November، 2017

Hasaka, SANA – People in Hasaka city celebrated on Tuesday the victories of the Syrian Arab Army in liberating al-Boukamal city in Deir Ezzor from Daesh (ISIS) terrorists.

The celebration was held in the Hafez al-Assad Square in Hasaka city center.

The Attorney-General in Hasaka Mohammed Daoud told SANA’s reporter that victories of the Syrian Army in al-Boukamal dealt a decisive blow to terrorism and its supporters and the Zionist-US agenda in the region.

Hasaka Mufti Sheikh Abdelhameed al-Kandah called for strengthening unity among Syrians and supporting the Army, while Assistant Director of Culture Abdelrahman al-Sayed asserted that the victory of the Syrian Army in al-Boukamal frustrated the Zionist agendas in the region.
Syrian Army Regains Control Over New Areas in Deir Ezzor
22 November، 2017

Deir Ezzor, SANA – Army and Armed Forces units, in cooperation with the allied forces, reestablished control over the eastern and western parts of Mahakan village in Deir Ezzor province after fierce clashes with Daesh (ISIS) terrorists.

SANA’s reporter in Deir Ezzor said on Wednesday that the army units secured the villages and towns of Daher al-Nasrani, al-Sheikh Ali, Wadi al-Khour, Faidat Ahmad al-Haifan, Wadi Fleiteh, and Wadi al-Sail as Daesh terrorists fled these areas.

In the same context, army units regained control over the villages of al-Kashfeh, al-Salhiyeh, Wadi al-Ward point, Tal Melhim, and Sha’b Kha’ein on the road between al-Mayadeen and al-Boukamal after destroying the last of the Daesh positions in them.

H. Zain/ Hazem Sabbagh
Syrian Army Regains Control Over al-Qouriya Town in Deir Ezzor Countryside
23 November، 2017

Moscow, SANA- Army units, backed by the Russian Aerospace Forces, regained control over al-Qouriya town in southeastern countryside of Deir Ezzor, after eliminating Daesh (ISIS) last gatherings and fortifications in the town.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Thursday that the Syrian Arab Army units liberated al-Qouriya town in Deir Ezzor province from Daesh terrorists, indicating that army units, backed by the Russian Aerospace Forces are continuing successful military operations along the Euphrates River after liberating al-Boukamal city from Daesh.

The statement added that Syrian Army units, backed by the Russian Aerospace Forces are hunting down and eliminating Daesh terrorist groups in the area of the Euphrates Valley and they are expanding their operations along the western bank.

The statement expected full liberation of the Euphrates’ western bank soon which will allow the completion of military operations for eradicating remnants of Daesh terrorists to the east of Syria.

“The Syrian Army units are playing active role in clearing the liberated cities from terrorists and their tools, and they are working on restoring normal life to the liberated cities of al-Boukamal and al-Mayadeen, in addition to organizing the distribution of medicine, drinking water and food aid in the two cities and maintaining their security and safety,” the statement concluded.

H.Zain/ R. Jazaeri
New Head of Macron's Party Vows to Recapture Its Grassroots 'Soul'
Christophe Castaner, 51, was handpicked by French president, but appointment sparks criticism of ‘undemocratic’ practices

Christophe Castaner promised La REM would remain democratic and transparent. Photograph: Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

Angelique Chrisafis in Lyon
@achrisafis
Sunday 19 November 2017 17.00 EST

A fiercely loyal, self-styled “man of the people” has been appointed to lead Emmanuel Macron’s fledgling political movement, La République En Marche (The Republic on the Move, or La REM), promising to recapture the party’s“soul” after a hiatus since the recent election win.

Christophe Castaner, 51, a burly member of parliament with a southern accent, styles himself as both in touch with everyday voters and devoted to Macron’s well-oiled communications machine. He was handpicked by the French president to take over the running of La REM.

Castaner, currently a minister and government spokesman, was a Socialist mayor of a picturesque small town in Provence for more than a decade before becoming one of the first politicians to jump ship to Macron’s centrist project in its early days. He grew up in a military family in the south of France, left school before his final exams – which he retook as an adult – and has a reputation for straight-talking.

At La REM’s first party congress in Lyon this weekend, Castaner was the lone candidate for the role of party director. He was picked by Macron at a presidential palace dinner, then confirmed by a group of party members with a show of hands rather than a secret ballot, sparking criticism from the media and political observers about undemocratic internal party practices.

A small group of 100 party followers went public last week with an open resignation letter, claiming the party had no internal democracy. Others, including La REM members of parliament, responded that Castaner was “the obvious choice”.

La REM, which was created last year by Macron for his own rise to the presidency, remains ultimately driven by its founder and his small team in the Elysée palace, just like other political parties in power in recent decades.

In Lyon, Castaner promised that the movement, whose main selling point had been to do politics in a more open and inclusive way than traditional parties, would stay free, transparent and democratic. He vowed to lead a return to local committees and remain “close to the people”.

The movement was hastily founded by Macron in April last year as simply En Marche (On the Move) when he was still economy minister and considered a total outsider for the presidency. The idea was a centrist movement that was neither “left nor right”, designed to entice people from all backgrounds who were tired of the old parties and political status quo. The aim was to blow apart traditional party politics by re-engaging civil society and brainstorming ideas.

It proved a hugely effective electoral force with thousands of volunteers who knocked on doors, flocked to rallies and distributed leaflets.

After Macron won the presidency in May, the movement – now renamed La République En Marche – became the biggest force in parliament with scores of novice MPs. The traditional French parties of the right and left were left badly wounded.

But La REM, which until now has focused on Macron’s manifesto, must find fresh ideas for future local election battles. At the congress, senior party members said the immediate task was to re-engage grassroots committees and volunteers. It also now faces the challenge of offering something different from the traditional parties.

Christine Hollander, 55, an emergency room nurse who runs La REMin the Drôme as a volunteer and is a newcomer to politics, said: “What’s important now is to really take root in local areas across the country and prepare local and regional elections. Don’t forget we’re a very young party, things have to be put in place slowly.”

The movement currently has over 380,000 members – it is free to join by signing the movement’s charter – but a much smaller proportion of those are currently active. The hard-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France Insoumise has over 550,000 members, who join for free when they sign up for the party’s newsletter.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Germany’s Crisis Means Uncertainty for Europe. But It Won’t Be Fatal
The continent has been rattled at a time when it has so many unresolved issues. Macron’s plans, however, will be key – and Merkel is not finished yet

Wednesday 22 November 2017 08.01 EST
Guardian

The collapse of Germany’s coalition talks is the latest shock to hit Europe. No one saw it coming.

Of course the blow is of a different nature from the banking crisis, the war in Ukraine, the refugee crisis, Brexit, Trump, Poland and Hungary’s democratic backsliding, or Catalan secessionism.

Germany’s politics look upended but the fundamentals are still in place: the postwar democratic set-up is hardly under threat. Still, this is rattling stuff. Europe’s powerhouse is in unknown political territory at a time when so much remains unresolved across the continent. And Germany’s political uncertainty means yet more uncertainty for the EU. Yet doomsayers shouldn’t assume that this crisis has to be fatal.

Nowhere outside Germany is the political breakdown being watched more closely than in France. Emmanuel Macron had set his sights on the German election as the starting point of his plan for a European “renaissance” alongside Merkel. On Monday, Macron did not hide his concern, saying it was not in France’s interest that “things become tense” in Germany. “We must move forward,” he added. But the worries go deeper than Germany’s internal problems. If Merkel was supposed to be the leader of the free world in the era of Trump and Brexit then what might the future look like without her? Far-right websites have been humming with glee at the news that Merkel has now run into deep difficulty.

There is little doubt about which forces might seek to capitalise on these events. Merkel has been a favourite punch bag for populists and extremists, left and right alike. Germany’s clout in Europe under her tenure has been much disparaged, not least by Putin and Trump. And the EU was meant to be “catching the winds in its sails” this year, as Jean-Claude Juncker said. But now what? The German crisis may or may not be solved through new elections, but to assess what it means for Europe, how Macron plays his cards will be a key factor.

Macron’s France is on a bit of a high these days, and pulling Europe out of a difficult decade is one of the president’s biggest ambitions. He has built up a close relationship with Merkel, and together they had announced a “plan” for Europe to be implemented once Merkel had overcome her election hurdle. The trouble now is the clock is ticking. After the summer of 2018 campaigning for the 2019 European parliament elections gets under way. That’s a key political moment for Macron, who wants his République En Marche party to somehow be replicated across Europe through transnational lists which would then fill the departing UK’s 73 seats. Add to this Italy’s elections – due early 2018 – with the populist, anti-migrant Five Star Movement worryingly strong, and it becomes obvious that Europe does not need this German impasse.

Another German election could delay everything for months on end: fixing the eurozone, resolving the future relationship with Britain, dealing with the Balkans, delivering on trade deals, regulating globalisation, saving the Paris climate accord, building up European defence, solving Ukraine and the rest of it. As Britain pulls out of Europe, the dynamics of the Franco-German alliance have become absolutely paramount. Macron needs Germany if he is to succeed in at least creating the impression that he can transform France into a trailblazing European power. Germany needs France to allay continental perceptions that it has become too domineering and is acting selfishly.

But let’s keep things in perspective. Germany remains a strong democracy. Its economy is thriving. The country’s anchoring in the EU is not in doubt. Its main political parties all agree on the need to preserve the European project which, as Konrad Adenauer said in the 1950s, would be the road to Germany’s rehabilitation and its wellbeing. Merkel has repeatedly said this year: “Germany can do well only if Europe does well.” No serious politician contradicted her.

To a degree, the current trouble says more about German provincialism than it does about German might or hubris, or indeed any debate in Germany on a grand design for the country’s future or for Europe as a whole. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German president, wasn’t wrong when he warned on Monday that concern would only grow among his neighbours if the leaders of Europe’s largest nation did not rise to their responsibilities.

Against that backdrop, Macron projects self-confidence while Merkel looks jaded. Yet Macron depends on the outcome in Germany more than anything else. At home, he has contained domestic opposition to his labour market reforms and his ratings are up. It is not good news for him that Merkel is now weakened. At the same time, talk of Merkel’s political demise has been going on since the 2015 refugee crisis, and yet she is still around.

Macron is now waiting to see how he can secure the benefits of a relationship he’s so keenly invested in. These questions aren’t just central to two political careers – one just starting, the other of almost record duration. They are central to a whole continent.

• Natalie Nougayrède is a Guardian columnist
Pressure Grows on Germany’s SPD to Support Merkel
Party considers giving backing to minority centre-right government on key votes

FDP calculates the political odds with walkout

Martin Schulz, leader of the Social Democrats, has so far ruled out a repeat of the so-called ‘grand coalition’ with Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc

Tobias Buck and Guy Chazan in Berlin
Financial Times

Germany’s Social Democrats are under mounting pressure to hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel over renewing their coalition or supporting a minority government, in a bid to break the political deadlock in Berlin and avoid new elections.

Martin Schulz, the leader of the SPD, has so far ruled out a repeat of the so-called “grand coalition” with Ms Merkel’s conservative bloc. But his stance has drawn growing criticism, including from senior SPD members, since the chancellor’s attempt to form an alternative coalition deal broke down at the weekend.

On Wednesday a string of SPD lawmakers and senior officials came out in support of fresh negotiations with Ms Merkel, although most insisted that a revival of the grand coalition was unlikely.

They said a better option would be for the chancellor to form a minority government that could draw on Social Democrat support for certain key votes — for example, on the budget or EU policy.

Johannes Fechner, a SPD MP, said: “Neither new elections nor a grand coalition are ideal solutions. So we should only speak about them once it is clear that there is no chance of a minority government.”

Jens Zimmermann, another of the party’s MPs, said: “The mood in the party is that we think it is the responsibility of all sides to explore all options and try to find creative solutions.” He said a repeat of the grand coalition was “difficult and very unlikely” but stressed the SPD was ready “to explore all possibilities, including the option of tolerating a minority government” led by Ms Merkel.
 
The chancellor herself has made clear in public that she would prefer new elections to a minority government but the mood inside her Christian Democratic Union also appears to be shifting.

A minority government with SPD support “would at least put Merkel back in the driver’s seat”, said a senior CDU MP.

While attention has been focused on how smaller parties could blackmail Ms Merkel if she were leading a minority government, the MP said: “She would have leverage too. She could have a vote of confidence and so trigger new elections at any time — and that could scare the smaller parties.”

A CDU adviser said the mood had shifted in the party from a belief that new elections were inevitable to a sense that Mr Schulz would either accede to pressure to consider a grand coalition or tolerate a CDU-led government.

Mr Schulz is due to meet Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German president, on Thursday. Mr Steinmeier, a former SPD foreign minister, has made clear he wants all parties to renew talks and avoid another election.

German politics have been in a state of uncertainty since the general election on September 24, when Ms Merkel led her conservative bloc to a fourth successive election victory but with a sharply reduced majority. The SPD also lost heavily, prompting a pledge from Mr Schulz to rebuild the party in opposition.

That seemed to leave the option of a coalition government between the CDU/CSU, the pro-business Free Democrats and the leftwing Greens, but coalition talks bogged down following disagreements over issues from climate change and migration to tax policy and the future of the eurozone. Negotiators also highlighted the failure to develop trust and confidence between the teams.

On Sunday night, the FDP pulled out of the talks, ending the first ever attempt to build such a cross-party alliance at the federal level.

Analysts said the SPD’s dilemma about how to react came at a particularly difficult time for the party, which hoped to use its time in opposition to rebuild support.

“This process can no longer go ahead the way the party wanted,” said Uwe Jun, a professor of politics at the University of Trier. “They were planning to consult their members, to explore strategic options and also examine their personnel options. All that is no longer possible, especially if there is a new election.”
Imagining a Post-Merkel Europe
by Thorsten Benner
Al Jazeera

Coalition talks between German Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU and three other parties collapsed on November 20 [Reuters/Michael Dalder]

"Political uncertainty has crossed the Rhine," French academic and Emmanuel Macron adviser Jean Pisani-Ferry declared. The New York Times, which has put its bets on German Chancellor Angela Merkel as the new "leader of the free world", warned that the collapse of coalition talks in Germany "portends a period of serious uncertainty for all Europe and the West".

Indeed, Germany faces the challenge of coming to terms with a more fragmented landscape of political parties. But this is not necessarily all bad news for the rest of Europe.

This is hardly a big crisis

In the words of German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the current political limbo is "unprecedented" in post-war German history. Never before have coalition talks collapsed without a clear, alternative governing majority in sight.

But it's important to not overdramatise the situation. This is not a full-fledged political crisis. Germany has an acting government that is working just fine for the time being. And political gravity may well pull the Social Democratic Party (SPD) into another coalition with Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) without the uncertainty of new elections. Or Germany might experiment with a minority government that would be less stable, but not necessarily inherently unstable.

Merkel's ability to mediate and broker compromises within the EU has been seriously compromised.

And this it not a constitutional crisis. On the contrary: it is the built-in, corrective mechanism against parliament dissolving itself and calling snap elections, and the strong role of the president in such a situation who is guiding the drawn-out negotiations. In many ways, the current limbo is the result of Germans electing a seven-party parliament that requires parties to move into untested and unfamiliar territory, in terms of coalition configurations across traditional ideological lines.

These new coalitions are already being tested at the subnational level. At the national level, they are naturally harder because more is at stake.

Then there is the added Merkel factor: During Merkel's 12 year-reign, not a single coalition partner has emerged strengthened out of a coalition with the chancellor. So, small wonder that the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the SPD are both traumatised by dramatic electoral defeats following an alliance with Merkel, and are very hesitant to enter another coalition with her.

But this will normalise again in a post-Merkel Germany. Medium-term German politics is likely to be more volatile, but without descending into an Italy-style, rapid succession of unstable governments.

The bigger danger is that the compromises necessary to form governing coalitions, in a more fragmented party system, will not lead to the necessary reforms that Germany needs to undertake, in the face of the digital transformation of its industrial base, competition from the US and China, as well as the demographic strain on its social systems.

In the short term, domestically, Merkel may well emerge stronger and be the "solid rock" to cling to in times of political uncertainty.

A post-Merkel Europe

At the same time, the current situation gives the rest of Europe the opportunity to prepare for a post-Merkel Germany, which, in four years at the latest, is bound to become a reality. And while many foreign observers (especially those misty-eyed about Merkel's power to lead the "free world") have lacked the ability and willingness to imagine such a world, this must not all be bad news for the rest of Europe.

To be sure, Merkel's experience and stature as a crisis manager would be a big loss. During the Ukraine crisis, her political standing and her ability to bridge the divide between anti-Putin and more accommodating forces within the EU were key to managing the situation. This allowed Europe to play a crucial role in the crisis.

But Merkel's ability to mediate and broker compromises within the EU has been seriously compromised by her refugee policy stance, which has turned her into a red rag for many Eastern Europeans, and her orthodox eurozone policy, which has alienated many Southern Europeans.

In addition, with French President Emmanuel Macron, there is now a clear alternative political leader within the EU that can step in for Merkel. That is good news for Germany. The perception of German dominance, that is partly a result of Merkel's longevity as the most experienced leader, has not done Germany much good. A recalibration towards joint leadership with France is good for everyone.

There is also little reason to think that Merkel's departure will lead to very different foreign policy stances. The foreign policy priorities of a new German government are likely to be quite stable on the key issues of Brexit, European security, as well as dealing with US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The biggest foreign policy mistake a new German government could make would be to close the door on Macron's proposals for reforming the eurozone and the EU. In Germany, the only two parties clearly positioned against Macron's eurozone proposals are the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the FDP.

No other party wants to enter a coalition with the AfD. And given that the FDP triggered the collapse of the last coalition talks and is unlikely to be part of the next coalition, there is less chance of a new government opposing Macron.

That should be very good news for all those who care about the future of the eurozone and the European project. And all those panicking about a post-Merkel Germany and Europe should take a deep breath and think again.
EXCLUSIVE: ANGELA Merkel Has “No Vision” for Germany and Was Totally Unprepared for Coalition Negotiations, a Politician Involved in the Failed Talks Has Revealed
By REBECCA PINNINGTON
22:48, Wed, Nov 22, 2017

Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann has hit out at Angela Merkel over failed coalition negotiations
Germany is currently facing political turmoil as negotiations to form a government with Mrs Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) and the left-wing Greens, fell through on Sunday night.

Mrs Merkel's 12-year hold on power was shaken at the September elections, partly by the arrival of the anti-immigration AfD party in parliament.

Four weeks of talks to build a so-called Jamaica alliance collapsed at the weekend with Mrs Merkel set to remain acting Chancellor until a government is agreed.

But the German leader has come under fire for her actions during the failed talks.

Dr Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, a FDP MP who was involved in the negotiations, said the Chancellor had achieved a lot for Germany during her time in power but seemed to have run out of ideas.

Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, she said: “With all respect for her achievements, the Chancellor now seems to have no vision for the future of Germany, which should be competing not just in Europe, but with the great powers and the biggest countries in the world.

“I have the feeling that she has no vision but is now only reacting to what is already there.

“To make a country like Germany fit for the future, a few more ideas are needed. I suspect that she has run out of ideas.”

Mrs Merkel's political career could hang in the balance after she failed to put together a governmen
Dr Strack-Zimmermann’s party, the FDP, ran for election on a platform of modernising Germany, embracing a flexible jobs market and digital-focused employment.

However she said it was difficult to bring these ideas into coalition discussions, and expressed disappointment at the way negotiations had been handled.

She said: “The collapse of negotiations is not because the CDU and FDP could not come together.

“The bigger problem was that although the Chancellor had a mandate to form a government, she had no plan for it, no red lines that we could orientate ourselves around.”

Given the huge policy differences between the FDP and the Greens, Mrs Merkel’s prospective coalition partners, the Chancellor should have been leading the negotiations and trying to bring them together, Dr Strack-Zimmermann argued.

She said coalitions talks were poorly-run and lashed out at Mrs Merkel’s decisions to discuss the fine details of some policy areas when not even a broad consensus had been agreed on others.

Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) who were members of the previous government under the 'grand coalition' are under pressure to consider offering talks to Mrs Merkel's conservatives after pledging to go into opposition.

Mrs Merkel has said she would prefer to work with the SPD. If that failed, she would favour new elections over an unstable minority government.

Dr Strack-Zimmermann, who represents Düsseldorf at the Bundestag, said: “The Chancellor has really achieved a lot for Germany over many years.

“But I think she was unprepared for negotiations and thought that after a ‘grand coalition’ it would be a simple matter of swapping partners. The SPD is gone, now the little Greens and the little FDP will come in, and things will carry on.

“I think the Chancellor underestimated us. For the first time in her life, she completely miscalculated.”

Dr Strack-Zimmermann did not rule out a CDU-FDP minority government to resolve the current situation, but said she felt a CDU-Green coalition would be more likely.

She said polling for the FDP was strong even after the collapse of negotiations, and the party was confident of a good result if it came to a new round of elections.

Queen Elizabeth II meets German Chancellor Angela Merkel at Buckingham Palace on February 27, 2014 in London, England.

It comes amid speculation Mrs Merkel will not be able to remain as Chancellor for much longer.

Green Party founder Hans-Christian Ströbele said, whatever the outcome of the current political situation, be it new elections of a minority government, he does not think Mrs Merkel will be presiding over the Bundestag for long.

In an interview with Swiss website Watson, he said: "The end of the chancellorship of Angela Merkel has already been announced by the outcome of the general election.

"Now Merkel's political end can indeed come very quickly. In my opinion, Mrs Merkel will not be able to stay at the top of the government for much longer.”
Angela Merkel's German Coalition Crisis Greatly Exaggerated
Deutsche Welle

There has been a lot of talk about German democracy in crisis. But the government keeps ticking along, and politicians across nearly the whole spectrum say the situation is hardly as dire as some are making it out to be.

Politicians don't get more veteran than the president of the Bundestag, 75-year-old Wolfgang Schäuble. So it's interesting to recall what he told the German parliament on Tuesday in the wake of the breakdown in talks to form a new government coalition.

"Dear colleagues we have an extraordinary situation," the elder statesman said. "It's a test, but it's not a crisis of state."

Angela Merkel may have failed for the moment to pave the way for a new German government. But that doesn't mean that Germany is without a government. On the contrary, Merkel continues to govern from the Chancellor's Office just as she's done for the past 12 years.

Officially Merkel is now a caretaker chancellor leading a caretaker government. But the German constitution gives the current government the same powers and duties as one sanctioned by an election. There is also no time limit. The same government cabinet members who have led Germany for the past four years will continue in their posts until a new government has been formed and they can be replaced.

The situation may be uncertain, but many parliamentarians — including those from the center-right, pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), which scuppered the coalition talks last weekend — think that the opacity of the current situation opens up new possibilities.

"The hold of the big establishment parties is loosening somewhat," FDP member of the Bundestag Christoph Hoffmann told DW. "We now have more parties in parliament, and it's more difficult to arrive at a stable coalition. We have to get used to that. But it's a chance for democracy and won't weaken the parliament."

Johannes Kahrs of the left-wing Social Democrats, who together with Merkel's conservatives formed the grand coalition that still runs Germany, seconds that sentiment.

"We have a working government," Kahrs told DW. "We have a budget. We also have a debate right now about what to do with the results of the national election. But that should be part of any democracy."

Practically speaking, the only thing the caretaker government isn't able to do is make decisions that would involve major changes in policy. Two major examples from Germany's recent past, for instance, the end of compulsory military service and the phase-out of nuclear power, would be impossible right now.

The constraints of a caretaker government became evident at the COP23 Climate Conference in Bonn last week. There more than 20 countries declared that they wanted to phase out coal as a source of power. German Environment Minister Barbara Hendrix would have loved to join them, but had to defer, saying that she didn't want to preempt the next government's policies.

If the caretaker government has no choice but to take an important decision, it can still ask for the support of the new Bundestag, where conservatives and Social Democrats still have a healthy majority. Even though the SPD has ruled out a continuation of the grand coalition, Social Democrats would likely support individual measures to help the government of which they are still part.

Other options, examples from other countries

The collapse of the coalition talks has got many people in Germany talking about the possibility of a minority government. Merkel's conservatives could form a coalition with either the Greens or the FDP and then try to secure the missing votes they need ad hoc for individual initiatives.

Denmark, for instance, is quite familiar with such minority governments, although experts doubt that they could function in the long term in Germany.

"A minority government certainly wouldn't be a problem in the short term," says Volker Boehme-Nessler, a professor of law and political science at the University of Oldenburg. "But it's not a long-term solution. It's psychologically difficult to pass new laws with new partners each time."
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The non-ideological Merkel may seem like the ideal leader to cope with such a situation, although detractors sometimes say the reverse side of her pragmatism is a complete lack of political vision. But even Merkel says she prefers a new election if she can't create a coalition with a stable majority.

Whether a fresh vote will be needed or not, Germany can take heart from the examples of its neighbor the Netherlands. It took the Dutch seven months to agree on their current government after their national election in March. Chaos did not break out there, and there's no reason to expect it would in Germany either.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

President Resigns!
November 22, 2017
Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter—
Zimbabwe Herald

President Mugabe resigned from office following a week of unrelenting calls from the public and his own party Zanu-PF to step down after 37 years at the helm. Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda made the announcement during a joint sitting of the National Assembly and Senate at the Harare International Conference Centre that was debating a motion to impeach the now former President. It was during the debate that Advocate Mudenda received the former President’s correspondence announcing his resignation before he terminated business.

Reads the resignation letter: “The honourable Jacob Mudenda, notice of resignation as President of the Republic of Zimbabwe in terms of the provisions of Section 96 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe (Amendment Number 20), 2013. Following my verbal communication with the Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda at 13:53 hours, 21st November, 2017 intimating my intention to resign as the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, I Robert Gabriel Mugabe in terms of section 96 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe hereby formally tender my resignation as the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe with immediate effect.

“My decision to resign is voluntary from my heart and arises for my concern for the people of Zimbabwe and my desire for the smooth, peaceful and non violent transfer of power that underpins national security, peace and stability. Kindly give public notice of my resignation as soon as possible as required by section 96 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.”

Section 96(1) which deals with Resignation of President or Vice President says, “The President may resign his or her office by written notice to the Speaker who must give public notice of the resignation as soon as it is possible to do so and in any event within twenty-four hours.’’ Advocate Mudenda said he would make further pronouncements on the way forward today.

“In terms of the Constitution it beholds the Speaker of the National Assembly to make sure that the proper legal processes are put in place so that the country can proceed forward with a President in place and this would be done by not later than end of day tomorrow (today),” he said.

The announcement was followed by jubilation among legislators and members of the public that had come to witness the impeachment proceedings at the HICC. The joint sitting of the Houses of Parliament had been convened to discuss the President’s impeachment after he had failed to resign on Monday, as directed by Zanu-PF’s Central Committee on Sunday.

The motion was moved by Senator Cde Monica Mutsvangwa (Zanu-PF) and seconded by Mabvuku-Tafara Representative Mr James Maridadi (MDC-T). Cde Mugabe stood accused of serious misconduct inter-alia abrogating his constitutional mandate to his wife who was making utterances on business of Government and accessing classified information without constitutional authority.

The former President was also accused of causing disaffection among the Zimbabwe Defence Forces by allowing his wife to make false and reckless allegations against them. He also stood accused of ignoring corruption and inability to perform functions of his Office because of alleged physical or mental incapacity.
Speech by Republic of Zimbabwe President Robert G. Mugabe, Delivered on Sunday November 19, 2017, Two Days Before His Formal Resignation: 'Our Whole Nation At All Levels Gets Refocused'
November 21, 2017
Zimbabwe Herald

To watch this national address by Republic of Zimbabwe President Robert G. Mugabe on Sunday November 19, 2017 at State House in Harare just click on the website below:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83Xgp-icshs&t=212s

FELLOW Zimbabweans.

I address you tonight on the back of a meeting I held today with the nation’s security forces’ Command Element. This meeting, which was facilitated by a mediating team led by Father Fidelis Mukonori (S.J.) of the Catholic Church, followed an operation mounted by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces in the week that has gone by, and which was triggered by concerns arising from their reading of the state of affairs in our country and in the ruling Zanu-PF Party. Whatever the pros and cons of the way they went about registering those concerns, I, as the President of Zimbabwe, and as their Commander-in-Chief, do acknowledge the issues they have drawn my attention to, and do believe that these were raised in the spirit of honesty and out of deep and patriotic concern for the stability of our nation and for the welfare of our people.

As I address you, I am also aware of a whole range of concerns which have come from you all as citizens of our great country, and who thus deserve our untrammelled attention.

Today’s meeting with the Command Element has underscored the need for us to collectively start processes that return our nation to normalcy, so all our people can go about their business unhindered, in an environment of perfect peace and security, assured that law and order obtain and prevail as before, and endure well into the future.

If there is any one observation we have made and drawn from the events of the past week, it is the unshakeable pedestal upon which rests our state of peace, law and order, amply indicating that as Zimbabweans we are generally a peaceably disposed people, and with a given-ness to expressing our grievances and to resolving our differences by ourselves, and with a level of dignity, discipline and restraint so rare to many other nations. This is to be admired. Indeed such traits must form the pith of our national character and personality, and yes, a veritable resource we summon and draw upon in times of vicissitudes.

The operation I have alluded did not amount to a threat to our well-cherished constitutional order. Nor was it a challenge to my authority as Head of State and Government. Not even as Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces. To the man, the Command Element remained respectful, and comported with the dictates and mores of constitutionalism. True, a few incidences may have occurred here and there, but these are being corrected.

I am happy that throughout the short period, the pillars of the State remained functional. Even happier for me and arising from today’s meeting is a strong sense of collegiality and comradeship now binding the various arms of our security establishment. This should redound to a greater peace, and author an abiding sense of security in communities and our entire nation.

Among the issues discussed is that relating to our economy which, as we all know, is going through a difficult patch. Of greater concern to our Commanders are the well-founded fears that the lack of unity and commonness of purpose in both Party and Government was translating into perceptions of inattentiveness to the economy.

Open public spats between high-ranking officials in the Party and Government, exacerbated by multiple, conflicting messages from both the Party and Government, made criticisms leveled against us inescapable. Amidst all this, flagship projects already adopted by Government stood stalled or mired in needless controversies.

All this now has to stop, as we inaugurate a new work culture and pace which will show a strong sense of purpose and commitment to turning around our economy in terms of our policy, Zim-Asset. Government remains committed to improving the social and material conditions of the people. Government will soon unveil an entrepreneurial skills and business development programme which will empower and unleash gainful projects at our growth points and rural areas.

Fellow Zimbabweans, we are a nation born out of a protracted struggle for national independence. Our roots lie in that epochal struggle whose goals and ideals must guide our present and structure our future. The tradition of resistance is our collective legacy whose core tenets must be subscribed by all across generations and across times.

Indeed, this, too, was a great concern for our Commanders who themselves were makers of that revolution and often at very tender ages and at great personal peril. We still have in our various communities veterans of that founding struggle who might have found the prevailing management of national and party issues quite alienating.

This must be corrected without delay, including ensuring that these veterans continue to play central roles in the life of our nation. We must all recognise that their participation in the war of liberation exacted life-long costs which whilst hardly repayable, may still be assuaged and ameliorated.

In respect of the Party issues raised by both the Commanders and by the general membership of Zanu-PF, these, too, stand acknowledged. They have to be attended to with a great sense of urgency. However, I am aware that as a party of liberation, Zanu-PF, has over the years, written elaborate rules and procedures that guide operations of all its organs and personnel.

Indeed, the current criticism raised against it by the Command Element and some of its members have arisen from a well-founded perception that the Party was stretching or even failing its own rules and procedures. The way forward thus cannot be based on swapping vying cliques that ride roughshod over Party rules and procedures. There has to be a net return to the guiding principles of our Party, as enshrined in its constitution, which must apply fairly and equitably in all situations and before all members. The era of victimisation and arbitrary decisions must be put behind us as we all embrace a new ethos predicated on the supreme law of our Party, and nourished by an abiding sense of camaraderie.

To all this must be a general recognition that Zanu-PF is a party of traditions, and has been served by successive generations who are bound together by shared ideals and values which must continue to reign supreme in our nation. Hints of inter-generation conflict must be resolved through a harmonised melding of old, established players as they embrace and welcome new ones through a well-defined sense of hierarchy and succession.

Indeed, all these matters will be discussed and settled at the forthcoming Congress, within the framework of a clear roadmap that seeks to resolve once and for all any omissions or contradictions that have affected our Party negatively. The Congress is due in a few weeks from now. I will preside over its processes which must not be prepossessed by any acts calculated to undermine it or compromise its outcome in the eyes of the public.

As I conclude this address, I am aware that many developments have occurred in the Party, or have been championed and done by individuals in the name of the Party. Given the failings of the past and the anger these might have triggered in some quarters, such developments are quite understandable.

However, we cannot be guided by bitterness or vengefulness, both of which would not make us any better Party members, or any better Zimbabweans. Our hallowed policy of reconciliation which we pronounced in 1980, and through which we reached out to those who had occupied and oppressed us for nearly a century, and those we had to trade fire with in a bitter war, surely cannot be unavailable to our own both in the Party and in our nation. We must learn to forgive and resolve contradictions, real or perceived, in a comradely, Zimbabwean spirit.

I am confident that from tonight, our whole nation at all levels, gets refocused as we put shoulder to wheel amidst the promising agricultural season already upon us. Let us all move forward, reminding ourselves of our wartime mantra: Iwe neni tine basa!

I thank you and goodnight!

This was the address to the nation by His Excellency the President, Cde R.G. Mugabe, on the State of the Nation, November 19, 2017.
President Mugabe Resigns! . . . Announcement of a New Leader Tomorrow
November 21, 2017
Zimbabwe Herald

Watch the ZANU-PF Parliamentary Reading of Resolutions for Recall of President Robert G. Mugabe on Tuesday November 21, 2017:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_kXeeBaf7k

HOW IT HAPPENED . . . LIVE

17:46 – Hon Bonyongwe and Hon Chinamasa are back to the Speaker of Parliament and can be heard talking of terminating the debate.

Parliamentarians murmur to each other and erupt saying “Mugabe must go, Mugabe must go.”
Debate has briefly stopped here as and the Speaker announces that debate has been terminated.

He announces that President Mugabe has resigned. The house erupts in cheers and the speaker struggles to contain the gallery.

17:53 – The Speaker of Parliament now reads the resignation letter.

President Mugabe has resignation with immediate effect. Members of the public who came to the gallery chant “Kutonga Kwaro” by Jah Prayzah.

17:56 – The house has been adjourned and the speaker advises that a new President will be announced tomorrow.
.
Parliament this afternoon sits to start the process of impeaching President Mugabe.

Zimpapers Online gives you updates of this historic event.

14:30 – The Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda has acknowledged to the House receipt of the motion to impeach President Mugabe and he says the motion is admissible in terms of the rules of Parliament.

14:35- The motion was moved by Senator Monica Mutsvangwa and seconded by Mabvuku/Tafara legislator James Maridadi.

14:40- Advocate Mudenda is now outlining the procedures to be followed and outlining what the Constitution provides in moving such a motion which he described as historic since independence.

14:42- The National chamber is packed beyond its capacity which has resulted in some of the legislators to sit in the public gallery.

14:47- Advocate Mudenda said after consultation with the president of the Senate they have agreed to convene the joint sitting  of both houses at the Harare International Conference Center at 16:30 hours today.

14:48 -He has appealed for tolerance, patience and maintaining dignity during the process.

14:56-The House is now adjourning and will resume at 16:30 hours at the HICC.

PARLIAMENT RESUMES SITTING

16:53 – Joint Parliamentary sitting resumes at the HICC where the proceedings for the impeachment of President Mugabe.

16:47 – Minister of Justice, Honourable Happyton Bonyongwe kneels near the Speaker of Parliament and legislators across the house shout, “Ibva apo mutengesi! (Go away sellout!).

16:00 - Moving the motion, Senetor Mutsvangwa says President Mugabe is old and he needs to be hand held. As such, he is no longer fit for office.

17:00 - President Mugabe, according to Senetor Mutsvangwa, has not taken any meaningful steps to stem endemic corruption which has become the country’s number one enemy as evidenced in the ZESA case where his cabinet minister (Dr Samuel Undenge) approved the transfer of US$5 million without following provisions laid down in the Public Finance Management Act. She also cites the ZIMDEF case involving Higher and Tertiary Education Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo.

17:08 - Senator Monica Mutsvangwa moves the motion to impeach Pres Mugabe and Hon James Maridadi seconds.

17:09 - Senator Mutsvangwa introduces the motion and says among other reasons for impeaching President Mugabe is serious misconduct.

17:11 - The President has abrogated his constitutional mandate to his wife who makes public utterances on issues of government like the appointing and dismissal of Government Ministers and senior civil servants.
This motion is moved in terms of Section 97 (1) which provides for the removal of The President or Vice President from office.The charges are
(a) Serious misconduct;

(b) Failure to obey, uphold or defend this Constitution;

(c) Willful violation of this Constitution; or

(d) Inability to perform the functions of the office because of physical or mental incapacity.

“Itai Dzamara disappeared for calling on President Mugabe to step down and Masuku died after he was incarcerated despite the fact the court had not found him guilty.

17:18- Hon Maridadi says President Mugabe presided over a non functioning health system and unemployment. As such, he has to go and go now.

17:19 - Hon Maridadi chides Zanu PF members, who include the Speaker of Parliament saying, “Imbwa hadzisvinure musi umwechete.” He says the very motion was dismissed and described as frivolous before. He says for the past 17 years, MDC T has been arguing that President Mugabe is not fit for office but as late as last week, Zanu PF was endorsing him as their 2018 candidate.

17:24 - Hon Mandipaka thanks Commander of the Defence Forces General Constantino Guvheya Chiwenga for moving in very swiftly adding that Zanu PF cleanses itself when there is a threat in the house, to which opposition Members of Parliament grumble and tell him to go away.

17:26 - Sen Chipanga moves to debate the motion and he supports it saying President Mugabe has let the nation down by failing to act on cases of corruption, citing the case where Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko caused the release of suspects from police stations.

17:28 - Hon Jessie Majome is now debating the motion and says it’s needless to say she is in supports of it.

17:35 - Hon Majome has applauded members of the august House for putting aside their political differences to guard the constitution against President Mugabe due to dereliction of duty. Among reasons for supporting the motion, Hon Majome says President Mugabe has made Zimbabwe a laughing stock because he sleeps even at high level functions, under development, unemployment and also threatening the rule of law.

17:38 -Its now Hon Priscilla Misihairabwi move in support of the motion and says President Mugabe murdered more than 20 000 people from the year 1983 throughout the period of  Gukurahundi period.

“President Robert Mugabe is the man who presided over the killings  of opposition supporters,” says Hon Misihairabwi.

17:46 – Hon Bonyongwe and Hon Chinamasa are back to the Speaker of Parliament and can be heard talking of terminating the debate.

Parliamentarians murmur to each other and erupt saying “Mugabe must go, Mugabe must go.”
Debate has briefly stopped here as and the Speaker announces that debate has been terminated. He announces that President Mugabe has resigned.

The house erupts in cheers and the speaker struggles to contain the gallery.

17:53 – The Speaker of Parliament now reads the resignation letter.

President Mugabe has resignation with immediate effect. Members of the public who came to the gallery chant “Kutonga Kwaro” by Jah Prayzah.

17:56 - The house has been adjourned and the speaker advises that a new President will be announced tomorrow.

17:04 - Jubilant Zanu PF supporters sing Good bye Gushungo, endai munozorora  . .  .

17:10 – Multitudes of people immediately flood the streets of all cities and towns across the country.

PRESIDENT Mugabe resigned amid impeachment after 37 years in power.
Ex-freedom Fighters Seek Court Blessings
November 21, 2017
Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter—
Zimbabwe Herald

WAR veterans have approached the High Court seeking an order declaring the intervention by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces to a lawless and chaotic situation created by First Lady Dr Grace Mugabe in the country, as a lawful and justified action meant to defend constitutionalism. ZDF, according to the war veterans, realised that President Mugabe had been captured by his wife and her G40 gang to an extent that he was no longer able to exercise his functions before moving in to protect the nation by weeding out the criminal elements that had positioned themselves around the head of State.

Failure by the President to make key decisions, allowing his wife and the G40 to embark on serious purges in the ruling Zanu-PF had the effect of destabilising the country. To that end, the liberators said, ZDF rightly intervened with corrective measures in the best interest of the President and the nation at large in terms of Section 212 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) yesterday filed a court application for declaratory order saying the court should correctly interpret the law and proclaim the legitimacy of the military’s intervention to the dire situation since Tuesday last week.

In the court application, President Mugabe, Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi, ZDF Commander General Constantino Guvheya Nyikadzino Chiwenga and Attorney General Advocate Prince Machaya were listed as respondents in the official capacities. ZNLWVA also filed a separate urgent chamber application requesting the court to treat the declaration matter with urgency. The court is yet to first rule on whether or not the case should be heard on an urgent basis.

Maunga Maanda & Associates represent the freedom fighters in both matters. In his founding affidavit, ZNLWVA president Cde Christopher Mutsvangwa said the intervention was of national interest considering that First Lady Grace Mugabe had captured President Mugabe and abdicated his functions.

“As an association that brought about the liberation of the people of Zimbabwe, applicant considers the intervention measures to be matters of immense political and constitutional importance and has approached the court for a declaration upholding the validity of the actions of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces. The application is accordingly in the national interest . . .

“Recently Grace Mugabe together with a gang going about by the moniker G40 had unfortunately captured the first respondent (President Mugabe). For that reason, he has been unable to execute his functions and has completely abdicated his functions which were now being exercised by his wife and the G40 gang,” reads Cde Mutsvangwa’s affidavit.

The war veterans argued that the military had to intervene because President Mugabe was no longer in a position to make key decisions, a development that resulted in the First Lady and the G40 gang deciding on crucial Government and party matters.

They argued that the First Lady was the one who fired former Vice President Dr Joice Mujuru from party and Government with President Mugabe only rubber-stamping. The First Lady is also being accused of masterminding the dismissal of various other officials from the party and Government. “It is public knowledge that Mrs Mugabe went on a crusade against the country’s former Vice President, Dr Mujuru, telling everyone that she was to be ousted.

“The decision was clearly not of the first respondent (President Mugabe). Various office holders in the State and the ruling Zanu-PF have lost their positions simply because of her usurpation of the powers of the first respondent,” reads the affidavit. The war veterans accused the First Lady of coercing people into endorsing her as the country’s Vice President.

At one of the rallies recently, the war veterans said, the First Lady unjustifiably chided and berated President’s spokesperson Mr George Charamba as if she was his employer. The First Lady and her G40 gang also demanded the removal Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa from office on the basis of falsehoods.

“The defence forces intervened because there had been an effective coup, the President of the country was no longer able to execute his functions, but that was now being done by unelected officials around him. In fact, the unelected First Lady was now running Government business to the country’s prejudice,” reads the affidavit.

Cde Mutsvangwa said he was prepared to play video footages which show the havoc that had been caused by the President’s wife and her G40 gang. An order of the court declaring the actions of the ZDF constitutional was important under the circumstances considering a press statement that was last week issued by Cde Simon Khaya Moyo describing the intervention as treasonous.

“The Despite the necessity for such intervention, a senior Government minister, a Mr Simon Khaya Moyo announced that the actions of the ZDF could amount to treason. Those are hard words. They have the effect of destabilising the country. It is important that this court states that the action is permissible. For the comfort of the people of Zimbabwe, her neighbours and the international community, a declaration on the validity of the actions of the ZDF ought to be issued,” said Cde Mutsvangwa.
President, ED Bury the Hachet
November 21, 2017
Fidelis Munyoro Senior Reporter—
Zimbabwe Herald

PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday reconnected with former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa as he begins processes towards a final solution and roadmap for the country. Cde Mnangagwa was fired from the Vice Presidency by President Mugabe on November 6, precipitating a chain of events that culminated in the Zimbabwe Defence Forces intervening to weed out criminals who had surrounded the President and who stoodaccused of fomenting an environment that had the potential to lead to violent confrontation.

Sources close to developments said the two spoke for about 10 minutes over the phone after midday,and during the conversation President Mugabe told Cde Mnangagwa to return home immediately. Cde Mnangagwa acceded to the request.

The former VP is said to have told the President that he had left Zimbabwe for security reasons to which the President assured him he had nothing to fear as he was not involved in any threats that may have been posed.

Updating the nation on the latest developments last night, Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantino Guveya Nyikadzino Chiwenga said the ZDF were pleased with new the latest developments which included contact between President Mugabe and his former deputy. Cde Mnangagwa, he said, was expected back in Zimbabwe soon.

“As this happens, we as the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and security services urge Zimbabweans to remain calm and patient, fully observing and respecting the laws of the country for the sustenance of the precious peace we should never lose,” he said while briefing journalists at Josiah Magama Tongogara Barracks, formerly KGVI.

Gen Chiwenga also urged other political players in the country including members of the ruling Zanu-PF, war veterans, opposition parties, students and members of the public to refrain from any conduct that threatens peace, life and property. He urged students at various institutions across the country to be calm and proceed with their educational programmes as scheduled.

“Once again, as the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and security services, we pay tribute to all Zimbabweans for support shown to us during the execution of Operation Restore Legacy,” he said. We remain a people’s force and security service which is why uppermost in our mind is the conclusion of this whole operation with the minimum inconvenience and certainly without any collateral loss of life, injury or destruction of property.”

He said the ZDF would keep the nation updated on any new developments as they occur. Gen Chiwenga commended the meeting the ZDF held with President Mugabe, which he said went well in a conducive atmosphere of mutual respect saying several guarantees were made.

He said the ZDF remained seized with the operation they codenamed ‘’Operation Restore Legacy”. The media briefing was meant to update the nation on the latest developments after President Mugabe’s address to the nation on Sunday night.

In a televised State of the Nation Address at State House, President Mugabe conceded that there was a crisis in the country and concerns raised by the ZDF and citizens relating to the state of the economy were genuine. He said Zimbabwe would chart a new path aimed at restoring normalcy in the country. The address came after President Mugabe held a meeting with military commanders that focused on several issues both at Government and party levels.

He also conceded that Zanu-PF was also facing challenges that required attention. These would be dealt with at the forthcoming Extraordinary Congress scheduled for the week December 12-17 2017.
University of Zimbabwe Students Call for Prof Nyagura’s Ouster
November 21, 2017
Melisa Makoto and Audrey Rundofa
Zimbabwe Herald

University of Zimbabwe students yesterday staged a demonstration and refused to write their examinations calling for the resignation of Vice Chancellor Professor Levi Nyagura. The students said they were tired of corruption at the university, including the allegedly “dubious” award of a doctor in philosophy degree (PhD) to First Lady Dr Grace Mugabe in 2014. University of Zimbabwe former students’ council secretary-general Mr Chrispen Mahachi, who was leading the protest, said they wanted Prof Nyagura to resign because he gave Dr Mugabe a PhD within three months, saying the act devalues the standards of the institution.

“This is clearly a student’s agenda as you can see our motive as students is to send a message that we are tired. Levi Nyagura must resign for donating a PhD to (First Lady)Grace Mugabe,” he said

“Our learning standards as UZ continue to deteriorate and we have moved from number 41 on the international ranking to a three-digit number, which is totally unacceptable.” Mahachi also said UZ students no longer have job security, so there was need for President Mugabe to resign.

“Today we were supposed to start our exams, but we said we cannot because we do not have job security; we want to have job security first, we want our brothers who are unemployed who have graduated at this same institution to be employed such that when we go into the industry as well (we) will have an assurance of job security,” he said.

Tawanda Nyandoro, a student at the institution, said: “The real issue is that Levi Nyagura donated a PhD to Grace Mugabe and we are saying we want that PhD back because a student who is studying philosophy right now will feel as if that programme is worthless as it was given to (Dr) Grace Mugabe on a silver platter.”

Shepherd Raradza, another student, accused the Vice Chancellor of failing to upgrade the premier tertiary learning institution. The latest developments comes after ZANU-PF recalled President Mugabe from the position of party First Secretary on Sunday and replaced him with former Vice President Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa, whom the ruling party also reinstated as a Central Committee member.