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Congo PM threatens to resign over minister’s arrest

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Sylvestre Ilunga, the Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo protested on Sunday over the brief arrest of Justice Minister Celestin Tunda.

Ilunga said that the coalition government could resign over the issue, calling on President Felix Tshisekedi to guarantee the protection of the cabinet members.

Earlier on Saturday, the justice minister was detained by police and released following several hours of questioning by prosecutors at the court of cassation, triggering a political storm within the ruling coalition.

“This serious and unprecedented incident is likely to weaken the stability and the harmonious functioning of institutions, and to cause the resignation of the government,”  the prime minister said in a statement.

Tunda had a clash with President Tshisekedi over judicial changes proposed by Tunda’s party that would give the justice ministry more control over criminal prosecutions.

Opponents of the change say it would undermine the independence of the judiciary.

The disagreement has highlighted strains in the ruling coalition between Tshisekedi and allies of his long-serving predecessor, Joseph Kabila.

“No member of the government can be prosecuted for opinions expressed during deliberations of the council of ministers,” Ilunga said referring to Friday’s meeting where Tshisekedi and Tunda reportedly quarrelled over the judicial changes.

Ilunga said the magistrates responsible for what he called Tunda’s “brutal and arbitrary arrest” should face disciplinary action.

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WORLD NEWS

U.S air-force jet crashes in New Mexico

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US Air Force F-16C Viper, assigned to the 49th Wing, crashed on Monday when conducting a landing at Holloman Air Force Base.

According to the statement made by base officials, the incident took place at around 6 p.m. local time.

This marks the fifth jet crash since May, and the second time an F-16 has crashed in the past two weeks.

The Air Force said that the pilot ejected successfully and is currently being treated for minor injuries. Emergency services were confirmed to be operating on the scene.

Meanwhile, an investigation of the incident is ongoing.

​Earlier in June, an F-16 pilot was killed when his plane crashed during a “routine training mission” in South Carolina.

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Ivory Coast vice president resigns, days after PM’s death

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Ivory Coast’s Vice President Daniel Kablan Duncan has resigned, President Alassane Ouattara’s office said on Monday.

Patrick Achi, the secretary-general of the presidency, told newsmen that Kablan Duncan, who previously served as Ouattara’s prime minister, was leaving for personal reasons.

His resignation came days after the sudden death last week of Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, who was also the ruling party’s candidate for October’s presidential election.

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Russia completes clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccine

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Sechenov University in Moscow said it has completed clinical trials using human volunteers for COVID-19 vaccine, Russian news agency TASS reports.

According to Sechenov University Center for Clinical Research on Medications head and chief researcher Elena Smolyarchuk, study data showed the vaccine candidate’s effectiveness.

“The research has been completed and it proved that the vaccine is safe. The volunteers will be discharged on 15 July and 20 July,” Smolyarchuk was quoted by the news agency.

Having spent 28 days in isolation, the 38 paid trial candidates will be placed under observation for six months after being discharged.

Last month, Russia granted authorisation for clinical trials of two formulations of the Covid-19 vaccine candidate, which was developed by the Gamaleya National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology.

An intramuscular solution of the vaccine was tested at the Burdenko Military Hospital while Sechenov University assessed the vaccine in the form a powder for the preparation of an intramuscular solution.

The first stage of testing at the university commenced on 18 June in a group of 18 participants. The second group of the study involved 20 volunteers who were vaccinated on 23 June.

Institute for Translational Medicine and Biotechnology director Vadim Tarasov also told Russian news agency Sputnik that Sechenov University in a pandemic situation acted not only as an educational institution but also as a scientific and technological research center that is able to participate in the creation of such important and complex products as drugs.

“We worked with this vaccine, starting with preclinical studies and protocol development, and clinical trials are currently underway,” Tarasov stated.

Prior to the human trials, the vaccine was tested for its toxicity, safety, immunogenicity and effectiveness in large and small animals at the Russian Defence Ministry’s 48th Central research institute.

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