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India: Why is TN government scared of investigation into Jayalalithaa’s mysterious death at Apollo hospital?

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With the announcement made by the Election Commission of the date for the bypoll in RK constituency in Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu politics takes a new twist as the ruling AIADMK government is forced to face a daunting tasks in retaining its power at Madras Fort. The opposition DMK which lost to Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK for the second time consecutively, is eagerly waiting to snatch power form AIADMK.

Sasikala and her supporters in the proxy government officially led by Palanisamy are upset and depressed over the ay thing are slowly turning against them. While Sasikala is deeply worried about her ill fate in jail, the AIADMK government is unable to justify the mysterious death of former CM and AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa. Former AIADMK CM Panneerselvam and his supporters as well as general public is feeling betrayed by the government in hiding facts about the treatment and death of Jayalalithaa and they are also unable to explain why Jayalalithaa was not flown to USA for better treatment. In order to save their skins, TN CM Edappadi Palanisamy complains that former CM Panneerselvam has developed illicit ties with DMK the foe of Jayalalithaa to pull down his government and discredit her by asking for investigation.

If he really is eager to give justice to his leader Jayalalithaa Palanisamy would have sought proper investigation and he himself would have ordered preliminary enquiry to launch a expansive investigation to bring the truth to the public. However, he thinks an investigation would expose all black deals to get power and party under Sasikala’s control. Therefore, he questions the rationale behind Panneerselvam’s refusal to order an investigation, knowing full well OPS was part of the system as the Cm and he would have harmed Sasikala’s secret agenda.

What the CM Edappadi refuses to admit is that their “business” leader Sasikala had undertaken steps to split the party and weaken it only to be defeated in the next general poll. By forcing CM Panneerselvam she has only easily created the necessary precondition to split the party. And in kidnapping many MLAs and keeping them in a hotel with all “pleasures” to MLAs, Sasikala has only divided the party of MGR and Jayalalithaa.

Sasikala wants courts get out so that she can deliver all judgments herself. Without courts, she can become CM of Tamil Nadu on her own without even being an elected MLA. She would take law into her own hands.

CM Palanisamy has two talks at hand: one to help his mentor Sasikala’s comfortable stay in Bangalore jail and to retain all MLAs and party functionaries who support him as CM under his and Sasikala’s control. People of Tamil nadu do not seem to support the government and that would be amply clear once the results of by-poll in R.K. Nagar constituency in the capital city Chennai scheduled for April 22. R.K. Nagar constituency is very important because former CM Jayalalithaa contested and won from here her twice consecutively.

CM Palanisamy does not want to order any investigation into Jayalalithaa’s death because that would directly impact upon the prospects of poll outcomes. The poll in RK Nagar would be a referendum to Sasikala/Palanisamy tactics to take power from Panneerselvam. Apparently, the Sasikala coup is not at all appreciated by the people. The ruling AIADMK’s candidate has no chance for winning the poll, not even the CM Palanisamy decided to contest the poll himself. Panneerselvam’s group also may not be able to win it; nor will Jayalalithaa’s nice Deepa be able to become MLA just like that but she might poll more votes than the ruling AIADMK candidate might. Now obviously the DMK has the opportunity to win the seat to surge ahead to capture the government.

How?

Mysooru mallige, Jayalalithaa, who single handedly had won the state assembly election against powerful DMK-Congress alliance and against PMK and BJP etc, some months ago is no more and the sympathy votes that would have easily helped the AIADMK sail through in the bypoll as well are squandered by the Sasikala’s coup effort to unseat Jayalalithaa’s favorites like Panneerselvam and take over both the government and party only to be controlled by Sasikala led mafia.

Nowadays, Sasikala family members try to win people’s appreciation by tell lies that only they had made Panneer Selvam the CM and not Jayalalithaa.

As AIADMk is baldy split, the united DMK has all the chances to win the RK constituency but also quickly come to power by defeating the government. Deepa has already announced her candidature for the RK constituency.

People seek to remove the Palanisamy government as they do not trust it. AIADMK votes are now split and another Jayalalithaa relative Deepa also would further split the votes and spoiled the chances. If, however, if CM Palanisamy goes for patch up with Panneerselvam by giving him both CM and treasurer pests that he held before he was kicked out by Sasikala and family. .

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Africa Today

‘Swift action’ needed in Tigray to save thousands at risk

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Ethiopian refugees fleeing clashes in the country's northern Tigray region, rest and cook meals near UNHCR's Hamdayet reception centre after crossing into Sudan. © UNHCR/Hazim Elhag

Two months after conflict forced humanitarian workers to withdraw from the Tigray region of Ethiopia, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), on Tuesday, stressed the need for “swift action” to restore safe access to “save thousands of lives at risk”. 

Granted one-time admittance by the Ethiopian authorities to conduct a needs assessment, UNHCR led the first humanitarian mission to Mai Aini and Adi Harush refugee camps since the start of the conflict in November and found Eritrean refugees in “desperate need” of supplies and services, agency spokesperson Babar Baloch told journalists at a regular press briefing in Geneva.  

“The assessment, which concluded last week, found help is urgently needed for the tens of thousands of Eritrean refugees in northern Ethiopia”, he said. 

Refugee plight 

Cut off from supplies and services for more than two months, Mr. Baloch explained that the refugees had run out of fuel for their water pumps, leaving them to fetch water from a nearby creek for washing, cooking and drinking – “resulting in diarrhea like illnesses”. 

While the only assistance they had received since the start of the conflict was a one-time food distribution conducted by the World Food Programme (WFP) almost a month ago, he said that “plans are underway for a second distribution”. 

Threat from ‘armed gangs’ 

The UN teams “thankfully” found that in both Mai Aini and Adi Harush camps, buildings and structures remain intact, including refugee homes, schools and clinics, “with little damage observed”, according to the UNHCR spokesperson. 

However, refugees told UNHCR staff that while they were not impacted directly by the fighting, they were threatened and harassed by various armed groups.  

“The refugees told us they continue to have safety concerns, reporting that armed gangs roam the camps at night stealing and looting”, Mr. Baloch said. 

“UNHCR is working with the Government and partners to re-establish a regular presence at the camps and launch a response based on the information collected”, he said, adding that the UN agency has also called on the Government to strengthen security in both camps. 

Still inaccessible 

Further north in Tigray, the UN refugee agency has not, since November, been able to access the Shimelba and Hitsats refugee camps.  

As highlighted in High Commissioner Filippo Grandi’s statement last week, UNHCR continues to receive a number of reports of significant damage to those camps and indications that many refugees have fled in search of safety and food.  

“We remain deeply concerned about them”, said Mr. Baloch. 

‘Restore safe access’ 

Meanwhile, some 5,000 Eritrean refugees have made their way to the town of Shire where they are living in “dire conditions”, said Mr. Baloch, painting a picture of many sleeping in an open field on the outskirts of the town, ‘with no water and no food”.  

“UNHCR reiterates the UN wide call for full and unimpeded access to all refugees in the Tigray region and remains committed to work with the Ethiopian government to seek solutions together”, he stated. 

The conflict between the Ethiopian Government and regional forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) began in early November, when the Prime Minister ordered a military offensive after rebels attacked a federal army base.  

Government forces reported that the region had been secured at the end of November, but TPLF resistance has continued amid accusations of extrajudicial killings and rights abuses.

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Human Rights

Israel: ‘Halt and reverse’ new settlement construction

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A little boy stands on the remains of his family's demolished home in the West Bank. (File) UNRWA/Lara Jonasdottir

Israel’s decision to advance plans for some 800 new settlement units, most of which are located deep inside the occupied West Bank, has sparked the concern of UN Secretary-General António Guterres. 

In a statement issued on Monday by his spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, the UN chief urged the Israeli Government to “halt and reverse such decisions”, calling them “a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution, and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace”. 

‘No legal validity’ 

Mr. Guterres reiterated that Israel’s establishing of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, “has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law”. 

“Settlement expansion increases the risk of confrontation, further undermines the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, and further erodes the possibility of ending the occupation and establishing a contiguous and viable sovereign Palestinian State, based on the pre-1967 lines”, he said. 

Pushing forward 

Israel has given the green light to 780 new homes in West Bank settlements on Sunday in a move widely seen as being influenced by the imminent transfer of power in the United States. 

Breaking with decades of US diplomacy, outgoing President Donald Trump, in 2019 unilaterally declared that the settlements no longer breached international law. 

Against that backdrop, Israel has been increasing construction and either approved or made plans for more than 12,000 homes in 2020, according to news reports.

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WHO chief warns against ‘catastrophic moral failure’ in COVID-19 vaccine access

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A “me-first approach” to COVID-19 vaccines on the part of some countries and manufacturers is putting equitable access to these lifesaving treatments at risk, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Monday. 

Addressing the agency’s Executive Board, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed fear that “even as vaccines bring hope to some, they become another brick in the wall of inequality between the world’s haves and have-nots.” 

Describing the rapid development of vaccines as a literal and figurative “shot in the arm” during the pandemic, Tedros reported that while 39 million doses have been administered in nearly 50 richer countries, only 25 have been given in one lowest income nation. 

A self-defeating approach  

“I need to be blunt: the world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure – and the price of this failure will be paid with lives and livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries”, he said, speaking from WHO headquarters in Geneva. 

Ensuring all countries will have access to any COVID-19 vaccines is the promise of a global mechanism established last April, known as the COVAX Facility. It has secured two billion doses so far, with a billion more in the pipeline, and deliveries should begin next month. 

“Even as they speak the language of equitable access, some countries and companies continue to prioritize bilateral deals, going around COVAX, driving up prices and attempting to jump to the front of the queue. This is wrong”, Tedros stated. 

Additionally, most manufacturers also have prioritized regulatory approval in rich countries, where profits are higher, rather than submitting their dossiers to WHO for prequalification. 

“This could delay COVAX deliveries and create exactly the scenario COVAX was designed to avoid, with hoarding, a chaotic market, an uncoordinated response, and continued social and economic disruption”, he said. 

“Not only does this me-first approach leave the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people at risk, it’s also self-defeating.” 

Change the rules of the game 

Underlining that vaccine equity also has economic benefits, Tedros urged countries to “work together in solidarity” to ensure inoculation of all health workers and older people at most risk worldwide is underway, within the first 100 days of the year. 

He pressed for action in three areas to “change the rules of the game”, starting with an appeal for transparency in any bilateral contracts between countries and COVAX, including on volumes, pricing and delivery dates. 

“We call on these countries to give much greater priority to COVAX’s place in the queue, and to share their own doses with COVAX, especially once they have vaccinated their own health workers and older populations, so that other countries can do the same”, he said. 

Tedros also called for vaccine producers to provide WHO with full data for regulatory review in real time, to accelerate approvals, and he urged countries to only use vaccines that have met international safety standards, and to accelerate readiness for their deployment.  

“My challenge to all Member States is to ensure that by the time World Health Day arrives on the 7th of April, COVID-19 vaccines are being administered in every country, as a symbol of hope for overcoming both the pandemic and the inequalities that lie at the root of so many global health challenges”, he said, adding, “I hope this will be realized.” 

‘Vaccinationalism’ threatens recovery: UN chief

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has again stressed that COVID-19 vaccines must be a global public good, available to everyone, everywhere. 

Speaking in New York at a ceremony for the world’s developing nations, he underlined the need for funding for medicines and diagnostics to defeat the virus. 

“We need manufacturers to step up their commitment to work with the COVAX facility and countries around the world, in particular the world’s leading economies, to ensure enough supply and fair distribution,” said Mr. Guterres. 

“‘Vaccinationalism’ is self-defeating and would delay a global recovery.” 

The Secretary-General said recovery also represents a chance to “change course”, away from the old “normal” of inequalities and injustices, and he continues to advocate for greater support from developed countries and international financial institutions. 

“With smart policies and the right investments, we can chart a path that brings health to all, revives economies and builds resilience,” he said. “But developing countries must have the necessary resources to do so.”

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