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Ukraine Ceasefire Largely Holding

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A ceasefire in eastern Ukraine is largely holding, although both pro-Russian separatists and government forces claim there have been night-time violations.

The cities of Donetsk and Mariupol, where the fighting had been most intense over the past week, were quiet, city authorities and local media said.

However, reports said that fighting continued during the night at Donetsk airport, which has been held by government forces since May.

Separatist commanders said on Saturday that the ceasefire took hold only at 8pm on Friday, two hours after it came into force, the Interfax news agency reported.

The ceasefire is part of a 12-point agreement signed by separatist leaders and the Ukrainian government in the Belarusian capital Minsk.

The agreement also envisages the exchange of about 1000 prisoners that are being held by both sides.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said that the exchange could start as early as Saturday.

A Russian shipment of humanitarian aid is expected to head to eastern Ukraine by railway on Saturday.

US President Barack Obama said he was hopeful the ceasefire would hold but unsure the rebels would follow through and that Russia would stop violating Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“It has to be tested,” Obama said on Friday at the closing of a two-day NATO summit in Wales.

Both the US and the European Union have prepared even tougher sanctions on Moscow, and Obama stressed that the most effective way to ensure the ceasefire’s success was to move ahead with those measures and maintain pressure on Russia.

According to an EU diplomat, these new measures would target Russia’s access to capital markets and trade in arms and defence technology, dual-use goods and sensitive technologies.

The new sanctions were given preliminary approval on Friday night and could be implemented as early as Tuesday.

“If certain processes get underway, we are prepared to suspend sanctions” against Russia, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

In a statement published online on Saturday, Russia’s foreign ministry condemned further EU sanctions and promised that “there will undoubtedly be a reaction from our side” to any new measures.

In August, Russia passed a sweeping ban on meat, fruit, vegetables and dairy product imports from the EU, the US, Australia, Canada and Norway who imposed sanctions on Russia.

Moscow criticised the European Union for drawing up the tougher sanctions despite the truce agreed in Minsk.

But by announcing new sanctions, the EU’s leadership “is practically sending a signal of direct support to the ‘party of war’ in Kiev, which is not happy with the results of the Minsk meeting,” Russia’s foreign ministry said.

“Instead of feverishly searching for ways to hurt the economies of its own countries and Russia, the European Union would do better to work on supporting the economic revival of the Donbass region” of eastern Ukraine, it added.

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JUST IN: ECOWAS Lifts Sanctions On Mali

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ECOWAS countries
ECOWAS Countries

ECOWAS Countries

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US President, Donald Trump, Wife Test Positive For Covid-19

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Donald Trump and Melania
Donald Trump and Melania

Donald Trump and wife, Melania Trump

President of the United States, Donald Trump, and his wife, Melania Trump have both tested positive for COVID-19.

The President took to his official Twitter handle on Friday to make this announcement.

Trump was last seen in public on Thursday afternoon, returning to the White House after a fundraising trip to New Jersey.

Also Read: What I Told Trump When He Accused Me Of Killing Christians – Buhari

On Thursday, he announced that his aide, Hope Hicks tested positive for the virus which has killed over 1 million people around the world.

He further revealed that he and the first lady had taken the test and waiting for the results before announcing the outcome on Friday.

 

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Mali: N’Daw, Coup Leader Goita Sworn In As President, VP

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President of Mali, N'Daw, coup leader, Goita
President of Mali, N'Daw, coup leader, Goita

President of Mali, N’Daw, coup leader, Goita

Retired Army Colonel, Bah N’Daw has been sworn in on Friday as the interim president of Mali and he is to head a transitional government following last month’s military coup in the country.

The swearing-in ceremony held in the country’s capital city of Bamako, where Colonel Assimi Goita, who led the military junta, was also sworn in as interim vice president.

This administration is to lead the government for a maximum of 18 months before organising national elections.

Also Read: Buhari Attends Virtual ECOWAS Extraordinary Summit Over Mali Crisis

It will be recalled that the country’s military executed a coup last month (August 18) which successfully removed the nation’s president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita from office.

Former President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, attended the ceremony alongside other members of the ECOWAS mediation team.

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