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World News: Kofi Annan quits due to the Syrian Govt’s intransigence

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World News: Kofi Annan quits due to the Syrian Govt’s intransigence | The Thaiger
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Kofi Annan to quit as UN-Arab League special envoy for Syria
Phuket Gazette / News Wires

PHUKET: Kofi Annan informed the United Nations (UN) and the Arab League on Thursday that he will resign as their special envoy for the Syrian crisis at the end of this month, saying he is powerless to compel the Syrian government and the opposition to begin a political process.

Annan, who previously served as the UN’s Secretary-General, was appointed in late February to serve as the high-level representative of the UN and the League of Arab States, with the aim of bringing an end to violence and human rights violations in Syria and promoting a peaceful solution.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Annan informed him and Arab League Secretary-General Nabil El Araby of his intention not to renew his mandate when it expires on August 31. “I wish to express my deepest gratitude to Mr. Annan for the determined and courageous efforts he has made as the Joint Special Envoy for Syria,” Ban said.

Speaking to journalists in Geneva, Annan said he saw it as a “sacred duty” to do whatever possible to help the Syrian people find a peaceful solution to the conflict. Some had called his efforts “mission impossible”, but Annan said the grave situation justified any attempt to find a peaceful solution, however daunting the challenge.

“Yet the bloodshed continues, most of all because of the Syrian government’s intransigence, and continuing refusal to implement the six-point plan, and also because of the escalating military campaign of the opposition – all of which is compounded by the disunity of the international community,” he said.

The six-point plan for Syria as proposed by Annan calls for an end to violence, access for humanitarian agencies to provide relief to those in need, the release of detainees, the start of inclusive political dialogue, and unrestricted access to the country for the international media. Despite initial signs of acceptance of the plan by both the Syrian government and the opposition, it was not implemented, with each side blaming the other.

During his remarks, Annan blamed the UN Security Council for continued finger-pointing and name-calling at a time when the Syrian people need action. “Without serious, purposeful and united international pressure, including from the powers of the region, it is impossible for me, or anyone, to compel the Syrian government in the first place, and also the opposition, to take the steps necessary to begin a political process,” he said.

The international community, including Russia and China, voiced their regret over Annan’s resignation. White House spokesman Jay Carney said U.S. President Barack Obama was grateful for Annan’s willingness to serve as the UN-Arab League joint special envoy for the Syrian crisis.

“I think that Kofi Annan’s resignation highlights two things – one, the fact that (Syrian) President Assad, despite his promise to abide by Kofi Annan’s plan, continues to brutally murder his own people, to use heavy weapons in assaults on civilian population centers, to call on his military leaders to kill the Syrian people in his name,” Carney said aboard Air Force One. “It is disgusting and only highlights the absolute requirement that, for the future of the Syrian people, Assad must step aside.”

He added: “Secondly, Annan’s resignation highlights the failure at the UN Security Council of Russia and China to support resolutions – meaningful resolutions against Assad that would have held Assad accountable for his failure to abide by his commitments under the Annan plan. Those vetoes, as we’ve said repeatedly, were highly regrettable, and place both Russia and China on the wrong side of history and on the wrong side of the Syrian people. Very unfortunate.”

In Damascus, the Syrian Foreign Ministry also expressed its regret over Annan’s resignation but accused other countries of not wanting Syria to overcome the ongoing crisis. “Syria has always declared and proved its full commitment to implementing the plan of Annan with its 6-points, and cooperated with the observers’ team in achieving the hoped-for mission,” a ministry statement said.

The ministry’s statement also said the Syrian government is still committed to “combating terrorism in light of the Syrian laws and the relevant UN Security Council decisions in order to restore security and stability to the country and protect the Syrian innocent citizens.” The Syrian government usually refers to opposition members as rebels or terrorists.

The UN estimates that more than 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria and tens of thousands displaced since the uprising against President al-Assad began nearly 18 months ago. The opposition believes the number of deaths has already surpassed 20,000.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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World

Argentine football legend Diego Maradona dies at age 60

Caitlin Ashworth

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Argentine football legend Diego Maradona dies at age 60 | The Thaiger
PHOTO: FIFA

Argentine football legend Diego Maradona died yesterday at 60 years old. Maradona, known as one of the greatest football players of all time, suffered from a heart attack.

Maradona scored the famous “Hand of God” goal and the “Goal of the Century” in the World Cup 1986 quarter-finals, defeating England 2-1. Maradona, then captain, was known for inspiring to win the World Cup in 1986. He represented Argentina in 4 World Cups, scoring 34 goals in 91 appearances.

President of Argentina Alberto Fernandez declared 3 days of national mourning following Maradona’s death.

“You took us to the top of the world. You made us immensely happy. You were the greatest of them all… Thank you for having existed, Diego. We’re going to miss you all our lives.”

Many in the football community across the world posted photos and statements on social media following Maradona’s death. The Argentina national football team posted a photo on Twitter of Maradona holding the World Cup and said “You are eternal in every heart in world football.”

Argentine football player Lionel Messi posted a photo of himself and Maradona on Instagram.

“A very sad day for all Argentines and football… He leaves us, but does not leave, because Diego is eternal… I keep all the beautiful moments lived with him and I send my condolences to all his family and friends.”

Former football player Gary Lineker, who scored a goal for England in the World Cup 1986 quarter-finals game against Argentina, said Maradona is the greatest player of all time.

“By some distance the best player of my generation and arguably the greatest of all time… After a blessed, but troubled life, hopefully he’ll finally find some comfort in the hands of God.”

SOURCES: BBC | AFP

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Thailand

BBC names Thai protest leader Panusaya in global list of 100 most inspiring women

Maya Taylor

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BBC names Thai protest leader Panusaya in global list of 100 most inspiring women | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS World

The BBC has named prominent Thai pro-democracy activist, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, aka, “Rung”, as one of the world’s 100 most inspiring and influential women of 2020. The BBC’s “100 Women of 2020” list singles out women around the world who are driving change in challenging times. Panusaya is one of 3 Thai women to be listed.

As the leader of protest group, the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration, she came to international attention at a Bangkok rally in August, when she read out the group’s controversial 10 point manifesto calling for reform of the Monarchy – a taboo topic never publicly discussed. Her nomination follows the news that a Grammy Music executive has filed a charge of lèse-majesté against her.

The other 2 Thai women to make the list are Kotchakorn Voraakhom and Cindy Sirinya Bishop. Kotchakorn is an urban landscape architect, who promotes the importance of green and public spaces in urban environments. Her aim is to transform vast, sprawling cities into more liveable spaces, while protecting them from the impact of climate change. The BBC describes her as someone who started by prising apart the “cracked pavement” of Bangkok’s cityscape to let new ideas come through.

BBC names Thai protest leader Panusaya in global list of 100 most inspiring women | News by The Thaiger

Cindy Sirinya Bishop is the UN Women Regional Goodwill Ambassador for Gender Equality through Education, Communities and Governments. She is a TV host, actress, and model, known for her campaigns to end violence against women. She came to prominence in 2018, when she created the movement #DontTellMeHowToDress. The campaign was a response to authorities in Thailand telling women they shouldn’t dress provocatively during the Songkran period if they wanted to avoid being sexually assaulted.

Other women shortlisted by the BBC for the 2020 list include Sarah Gilbert, who is leading the research into the Covid-19 vaccine at Oxford University, Sanna Marin, the leader of Finland’s all-female coalition government, and Michelle Yeoh, a Malaysian actress, who the BBC notes is one of very few Asian actresses to enjoy a successful career in the US.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Tourism

No vaccine, no flight – Qantas will require international travellers to be vaccinated

The Thaiger

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No vaccine, no flight – Qantas will require international travellers to be vaccinated | The Thaiger

Qantas, Australia’s national airline, is announcing a new requirement that all international travellers will need to have a vaccination against Covid-19 in a move that could become the norm for the world’s airline industry. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says the Australian flag carrier would implement the measure once a coronavirus vaccine was made available to the public.

“We are looking at changing our terms and conditions to say for international travellers that we will ask people to have a vaccination before they can get on the aircraft.”

“Whether you need that domestically, we will have to see what happens with Covid-19 in the market but certainly, for international visitors coming out (to Australia) and people leaving the country, we think that is a necessity.”

Joyce says the new rule is likely to become a standard practice by all airlines worldwide as many governments are now working to introduce electronic vaccination passports. Vaccination requirements are already widely used around the world for those wishing to enter certain countries, with many countries wanting travellers show they have been inoculated against yellow fever if they are coming from regions where that disease could be acquired.

The International Air Transport Association has also announced it is in the “final stages” of developing a digital health pass that it says can be used to record Covid-19 tests or vaccinations and will “support the safe reopening of borders.”

“We are bringing this to market in the coming months to also meet the needs of the various travel bubbles and public health corridors that are starting operation.”

Australia’s borders have been closed since March to help stop the spread of the virus, which has taken the lives of more than 1 million people worldwide. The country has even limited its own citizens arrivals from abroad by implementing a weekly quota that has left thousands stranded overseas. Qantas has grounded more than 200 planes and let go 8,500 staff members as it attempts to offset a US 1.9 billion loss.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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