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page 22 S/AFRICA Zuma ordered to pay back $500,000 of public funds South Africa’s treasury has recommended President Jacob Zuma pay back $509,000 (£385,000) to…

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S/AFRICA

Zuma ordered to pay back $500,000 of public funds

South Africa’s treasury has recommended President Jacob Zuma pay back $509,000 (£385,000) to the government for upgrades made to his private home.

This comes after the country’s highest court ruled earlier this year that Mr Zuma repay some of the $23m of public funds spent on his house in 2009.

The upgrades included an amphitheatre, pool, chicken run and cattle enclosure.

Mr Zuma must now repay the money – about 3% of the total spent – within 45 days.

The treasury says it hired two independent quantity surveyors to conduct separate investigations to come up with the figure.

The main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), one of the parties which brought the case, welcomed the treasury’s report but said it had hoped the figure would be higher.

“This sends out a clear message to those involved in corruption, especially those in the ANC, that you will be held accountable for your actions, even if you are the president,” DA spokesman Mabine Seabe was quoted as saying.

SOMALIA

AU troops not paid for six months

The allowances for African troops fighting al-Qaeda-linked militants in Somalia have not been paid for at least six months.

The 22,000-strong African Union force (Amisom) fighting the Islamist militant group al-Shabab is funded by the EU.

An European Union source said last six-month payment was being withheld over “accounting issues”.

The head of Amisom said the correct papers to account for the last tranche had now been submitted.

“These papers are on their way; the money is also on its way,” Francisco Madeira said.

The EU provides $1,028 (£700) for each Amisom soldier each month; their respective governments then deduct around $200 for administrative costs meaning the soldiers are supposed to take home about $800.

This deployment allowance is much more than the meagre salaries the soldiers receive from their governments.

RUSSIA

Erdogan apologises to Putin over downed jet

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has apologised to Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin over Ankara’s downing of a Russian military jet last year that shattered ties, the Kremlin said Monday.

“The head of the Turkish state in his message expressed his sympathy and deepest condolences to the family of the dead Russian pilot and said sorry,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

He added that Erdogan said he wanted to do “everything possible for the restoration of the traditionally friendly relations between Turkey and Russia.”

The Kremlin then released a statement citing Erdogan as saying Ankara “never had the desire and the intention” to down the Russian jet.

“I want to once again express my sympathy and deep condolences to the family of the dead Russian pilot and I say sorry,” the statement quoted Erdogan as saying.

UK

EU leaders reject informal talks with UK

The European Union will not hold informal talks with the UK until it triggers Article 50 to leave, Germany, France and Italy have insisted.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted talks with French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in Berlin.

The leaders called for a “new impulse” to strengthen the EU.

UK financial markets remain volatile in the wake of the vote, with sterling plunging to a 31-year low against the dollar, and some share trading temporarily halted.

Together with the UK, Germany, France and Italy have the largest economies in the EU.

“We are in agreement that Article 50 of the European treaties is very clear – a member state that wishes to leave the European Union has to notify the European Council,” Mrs Merkel told a joint news conference at the German chancellery.

“That means that, and we agree on this point, there will be neither informal nor formal talks on a British exit until the European Council has received the [UK’s] request for an exit from the European Union.”

SYRIA

Weapons for Syrian rebels sold on Jordan’s black market

Weapons shipped into Jordan by the Central Intelligence Agency and Saudi Arabia intended for Syrian rebels have been systematically stolen by Jordanian intelligence operatives and sold to arms merchants on the black market, according to American and Jordanian officials.

Some of the stolen weapons were used in a shooting in November that killed two Americans and three others at a police training facility in Amman, FBI officials believe after months of investigating the attack, according to people familiar with the investigation.

The existence of the weapons theft, which ended only months ago after complaints by the US and Saudi governments, is being reported for the first time following a joint investigation by Al Jazeera and The New York Times.

The theft, involving millions of dollars of weapons, highlights the messy, unplanned consequences of programmes to arm and train rebels – the kind of programme the CIA and Pentagon have conducted for decades – even after the Obama administration had hoped to keep the training programme in Jordan under tight control.

SPAIN

Election: Conservatives win, but without majority

Spain’s Socialist Party has rejected proposals to form a grand coalition with the Popular Party (PP), which won most seats in Spain’s repeat election.

The Socialists came second, left-wing Unidos Podemos were third and centre-right Ciudadanos came fourth.

The vote has failed to break six months of political deadlock since December’s inconclusive poll.

Acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of the PP has said the result gives him the right to resume office.

The PP won more votes than at the previous election, but still did not have enough to form a majority government.

Mr Rajoy said that in the absence of a stable coalition, the government would be forced to govern “day by day”.

Official results gave the PP 137 seats in the 350-seat parliament, up 15 from the 122 it won in the December ballot.

ISRAEL/TURKEY

Israel, Turkey end rift over Gaza flotilla killings

Israel and Turkey have normalised relations, ending a six-year rift over the killing by Israeli troops of 10 Turkish activists on a Gaza-bound ship.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said a deal reached on Sunday would see Israel pay $20m (£15m) in compensation.

It will also allow Turkey to send aid to Gaza and carry out infrastructure projects in the Palestinian territory.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the agreement would help bring “stability” to the Middle East.

Turkey was once Israel’s closest ally in the region, and the two countries share many strategic interests.

The Turkish and Israeli prime ministers announced the deal to restore diplomatic ties at simultaneous news conferences in Ankara and Rome.

Mr Yildirim said the two countries would appoint ambassadors as soon as possible after the agreement is signed on Tuesday.

UNITED STATES

Supreme Court strikes down restrictive Texas abortion law

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to abortion rights advocates, striking down a Texas law imposing strict regulations on abortion doctors and facilities that its critics contended were specifically designed to shut down clinics.

The 5-3 ruling held that the Republican-backed 2013 law placed an undue burden on women exercising their constitutional right to end a pregnancy established in the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. The normally nine-justice court was one member short after the Feb. 13 death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who consistently opposed abortion in past rulings.

Conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy joined liberal members of the court in ruling that both key provisions of the law violate a woman’s constitutional right to obtain an abortion.

SINGAPORE

Airlines plane catches fire after emergency landing

A Singapore Airlines plane bound for Milan caught fire shortly after making an emergency landing.

Flight SQ368, which departed at 02:05 local time on Monday (18:00 GMT Sunday), was two hours into the flight when the pilot announced there was an engine problem.

The plane turned back and landed before the right engine of the Boeing 777 burst into flames. All 222 passengers and 19 crew on board were safely evacuated.

A passenger who gave his name as Chuan said all the passengers were very calm and that he actually “went back to sleep” after the announcement was made.

Firefighters took about five to 10 minutes to extinguish the flames, he said.

EGYPT

Paris prosecutor opens EgyptAir inquiry

The Paris prosecutor has opened a manslaughter investigation into last month’s EgyptAir plane crash.

A spokeswoman told the Associated Press that it would begin as an accident inquiry because there was no evidence so far to link it to terrorism.

The authorities, she said, were “not at all” favouring the theory the Airbus A320 was brought down deliberately.

Flight MS804 from Paris to Cairo crashed in the Mediterranean Sea on 19 May, killing all 66 people on board.

Earlier on Monday, Egyptian investigators said the damaged memory chips from the plane’s cockpit voice and data recorders had been flown to France.

INDIA

Bihar ‘exam topper’ sent to jail for cheating

An Indian student has been sent to jail for cheating after she failed a retest.

Ruby Rai, 17, ranked first in the Bihar state exams – but said in a video interview that her main subject political science was about cooking.

After the video went viral, Ms Rai was made to re-sit her exams, and was arrested after she failed and had her original results cancelled.

She was produced in court on Sunday where a magistrate sent her to jail until 8 July.

Meanwhile, arrest warrants have been issued for several other students who performed well in the exams, including Saurabh Shrestha who topped the science stream, but later could not say that H2O was water.

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