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Musings From Abroad

French President, Emmanuel Macron, calls out Russia over propaganda against it in Africa

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Amidst the recent diplomatic rifts between France and some African countries, the French President, Emmanuel Macron has accused Russia of feeding anti-French propaganda in the continent.

Macron insisted that Russia’s African posture serves “predatory” ambitions in troubled African nations.

He made the position while responding to critics who say France exploits historic economic and political ties in its former colonies to serve its own interests.

Macron said “this perception is fed by others, it’s a political project,” Macron told TV5 Monde in an interview. “I’m no fool, many influencers, sometimes speaking on your programmes, are paid by the Russians. We know them,” he said.

“A number of powers, who want to spread their influence in Africa, are doing this to hurt France, hurt its language, sow doubts, but above all pursue certain interests.”

“You only have to look at what’s going on in the Central African Republic or elsewhere to see that the Russian project underway there, when France has pushed aside, is a project of predation,” Macron said.

“It’s done with the complicity of a Russian military junta,” he said.

There have been recent anti-French protests in some African countries. The government in Gabon was forced to stop the planned protests in May. There were also pockets of “anti-French” protests in South Africa.

In March, protesters also disrupted an auction right before a 19th-century carved mask.

Meanwhile, the French in July hinted at plans to implement an operational overhaul of the country’s army, a decision that is likely to affect its relations in the Sahel region.

Russia has been accused of aiding extra judicial killings in the fight against terrorism in Africa, particularly with the. involvement of mercenaries – the Wagner Group in Mali.

The EU and the US have both also condemned Mali’s alleged use of Russian-based mercenaries the (Wagner Group) to fight terrorists and alleged attacks on civilians. But Russia has consistently denied foul play in its role in Africa.

Musings From Abroad

Indonesia passes law that bans sex outside marriage, protest, others

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Sex outside marriage is now an offence with a punishment of up to one year in jail in Indonesia, according to new laws passed by the country’s parliament.

Indonesia’s parliament dared worries about scaring away tourists from its shores and harming investment as the legislature banned premarital sex in the Asian country.

The law applies to both locals and foreigners alike and also prohibits cohabitation between unmarried couples.

It also bans insulting the president or state institutions, spreading views counter to the state ideology and staging protests without notification.

Stakeholders in the tourism sector of the country have criticized the new law. Deputy chief of Indonesia’s tourism industry board, Maulana Yusran, remarked that the new code was “totally counter-productive” at a time when the economy and tourism were starting to recover from the pandemic.

“We deeply regret the government has closed its eyes. We have already expressed our concern to the ministry of tourism about how harmful this law is,” he said.

The new law has also drawn a reaction from United States Ambassador to Indonesia, Sung Kim who claimed that the development could result in less foreign investment, tourism, and travel to the Southeast Asian nation.

“Criminalising the personal decisions of individuals would loom large within the decision matrix of many companies determining whether to invest in Indonesia,” he said.

Despite its notable diplomatic ties with African countries, Indonesia has a poor history of human rights.

In 2021, Amnesty International reported that at least 158 physical assaults, digital attacks, threats, and other forms of attack against 367 human rights defenders were reported during the year.

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Musings From Abroad

US President, Joe Biden, signs legislation against planned rail workers’ strike

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The United States President, Joe Biden has signed legislation to block a national railroad strike that could have devastated the American economy.

Senate voted 80 to 15 on Thursday to impose a tentative contract deal reached in September on a dozen unions representing 115,000 workers, who could have gone on strike on December 9.

“It was tough for me but it was the right thing to do at the moment — save jobs, to protect millions of working families from harm and disruption, and to keep supply chains stable around the holidays,” Biden said, adding the deal avoided “an economic catastrophe.”

“That fight isn’t over,” Biden said of the push for sick leave.

Reacting to the president’s assent, American Association of Railroads CEO Ian Jefferies said “none of the parties achieved everything they advocated for” but added, “without a doubt, there is more to be done to further address our employees’ work-life balance concerns.”

The attempt to slash labour and other costs to bolster profits in recent years has been fiercely opposed to adding paid sick time that would require them to hire more staff.

The strike could have left millions stranded and frozen almost 30% of U.S. cargo shipments by weight, stoked already surging inflation, and cost the American economy as much as $2 billion a day.

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