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Democrats formally nominate Joe Biden as presidential candidate

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U.S. Democrats at their virtual national convention formally nominated Joe Biden on Tuesday as their presidential candidate in the November election.

Delegates from around the country cast votes remotely to confirm Biden as the nominee.

Biden won over 3,000 votes, surpassing the required 2,374 delegates needed to formally become the nominee.

He is expected to formally accept the nomination in a speech Thursday.

The nomination came in the wake of speeches by former U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, who argued that Joe Biden has the experience and integrity to restore a pandemic-devastated America,

The convention’s second night, under the theme “Leadership Matters,” aimed to make the case that Biden would represent a return to normalcy after the “chaos” of Republican President Donald Trump’s administration, as Clinton put it.

“At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command center,” he said in a prerecorded video.

“Instead, it’s a storm center. There’s only chaos. Just one thing never changes – his determination to deny responsibility and shift the blame.”

As they did on Monday’s opening night, Democrats featured a handful of Republicans who have crossed party lines to praise Biden, 77, over Trump, 74, ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

Jill Biden was set to deliver the headline speech later in the evening, arguing that her husband’s capacity for empathy will help him offer solace to a battered nation. Former Secretary of State John Kerry was also due to speak.

The program started by showcasing some of the party’s rising politicians. But rather than a single keynote speech that could be a star-making turn, as it was for then-state Senator Barack Obama in 2004, the program featured 17 stars in a video address, including Stacey Abrams, the one-time Georgia gubernatorial nominee whom Biden once considered for a running mate.

“America faces a triple threat: a public health catastrophe, and economic collapse and a reckoning with racial justice and inequality,” Abrams said. “So our choice is clear: a steady experienced public servant who can lead us out of this crisis just like he’s done before or a man who only knows how to deny and distract.”

Sally Yates, the former acting U.S. attorney general whom Trump fired for refusing to defend his travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries, castigated Trump as corrupt.

“From the moment President Trump took office, he’s used his position to benefit himself, rather than our country,” she said. “He’s even trying to sabotage our postal service to keep people from being able to vote.”

Biden was scheduled to give his acceptance speech on Thursday.

His vice presidential pick, Senator Kamala Harris, will headline Wednesday night’s program along with Obama.

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Mali’s ex-defense minister Ba N’Daou named transition president

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Mali’s former defence minister Ba N’Daou has been announced as president of a new transition government, the leader of the Sahel state’s ruling military junta said on national television Monday.

According to a roadmap backed by the junta, the new president is meant to lead the country for several months before staging elections and returning Mali to civilian rule.

The African Union had called on the military junta in Mali to quickly appoint civilian leaders to manage an 18-month transition towards elections after last month’s coup.

The AU’s 15-member security body late Thursday echoed the West African regional bloc ECOWAS, which imposed sanctions on landlocked Mali after the coup toppled President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

Junta leader Colonel Assimi Goita met with West African leaders this week in Ghana but failed to resolve a critical sticking point — whether soldiers or civilians will lead the transition.

ECOWAS called for a civilian-led transition government to be installed “in days” and said the bloc would lift its sanctions — which include closed borders and a ban on trade and financial flows — once the change has been made.

Smail Chergui, the AU’s peace and security commissioner, said on Twitter Thursday night that he was calling “for a return to constitutional order and early civilian-led transition in Mali”.

A separate Twitter post from the official AU Peace and Security Department account said it backed ECOWAS’ call for an 18-month civilian transition.

It also “welcomed” the putschists’ decision to release Keita — who was detained for more than a week — but said they should also free prime minister Boubou Cisse and “other dignitaries”.

The AU announced the day after the coup that it was suspending Mali “until restoration of constitutional order”, and it is unclear what additional leverage it has.

But a spokesman for the junta, Colonel Ismael Wague, said after this week’s talks in Ghana that Mali could face a “total embargo” from ECOWAS if it does not quickly appoint civilian leaders.

The sanctions could bite in the poor country already facing a severe economic downturn as well as a simmering jihadist insurgency and chronic inter-ethnic violence.

Wague nevertheless made clear the junta would prefer the transition be run by the military, and claimed that was also the preference of the majority of Malians.

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Four Cameroonian soldiers jailed 10 years for murder

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Four Cameroonian soldiers were sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison and another to two years for the execution-style killings of two women and their two children in a region where the army is fighting jihadists.

A video was broadcast on social media in July 2018 showing soldiers shooting two kneeling blindfolded women as well as a baby on one of their backs and a girl.

The government initially denied the involvement of its army, but later arrested seven suspects. Two were acquitted.

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7 killed, 4 injured in ‘massacre’ in south-western Colombia

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Seven people were killed and four others injured in an attack in south-western Colombia on Sunday, local media reported.

“Seven young people … were massacred with grenades and gunshots,” Senator Temistocles Ortega told broadcaster Caracol.

The attack happened in Munchique, in the south-western state of Cauca.

“You have no alternatives in Cauca,” Ortega said, adding that those who live there are “exposed to criminals of all types.”

Army spokesman Marco Vinicio Mayorga told the broadcaster that the crime was “preliminarily attributed” to the Jaime Martinez column, which emerged from the 2016 demobilization of the guerrilla movement FARC and operates in the area.

The country’s ombudsman for human rights condemned the Cauca events on Twitter, saying: “We urgently need to eradicate the … violence which affects rights and constantly endanger the lives of Colombians.”

More than 240 people have died in 60 massacres – defined as killings of at least three people – in the country so far this year, according to the NGO Indepaz, which monitors the violence.

According to the NGO, the Monchique attack was the eleventh this month alone.

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