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Brazilian ex-president Lula faces new money laundering charge

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Brazil’s former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva faces a new charge of money laundering as part of the investigations into the largest corruption scandal in Latin America.

According to a Monday statement from prosecutors in the Brazilian state of Curitiba, the former president, known as Lula, is accused of accepting 4 million reais (759,000 dollars) worth of bribes disguised as donations.

Prosecutors say four transfers were made to the “Instituto Lula” from construction giant Odebrecht between 2013 and 2014.

Lula’s defence rejected the charge as an attempt to criminalise four legitimate donations.

This is the fourth charge Lula has faced in the so-called “Lava Jato” or “Car Wash” corruption investigations.

After a previous conviction he was jailed, but allowed to leave prison early in November.

Lula’s conviction and imprisonment prevented him from contesting the October 2018 presidential election and paved the way for the victory of right-winger Jair Bolsonaro, who appointed Lava Jato case judge Sergio Moro his justice minister.

A working-class president, Lula oversaw strong economic growth and falling inequality during his 2003-2011 rule.

His social policies earned him soaring popularity ratings, even as concern grew about corruption in his government.

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Former Mali dictator Moussa Traore laid to rest

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Mali held a state funeral for ex-dictator Moussa Traore on Friday, attended by the head of the ruling military junta and other former leaders of the Sahel state.

Traore, who ruled Mali for 22 years before being deposed in a 1991 coup, died at age 83 in the capital Bamako on September 15.

The former autocrat was buried at a Bamako military camp on Friday, where a funeral band played at the arrival of his coffin, which was draped in the Malian flag.

Soldiers dressed in full regalia stood at attention, according to AFP journalists, while two planes performed a flypast overhead.

As a young lieutenant in 1968, Traore was the main instigator of a coup that overthrew Modibo Keita, the country’s first president after independence from France in 1960.

Traore became president the following year and ruled with an iron fist, before he himself was ousted in a military coup in 1991.

In recent years, the ex-dictator was increasingly seen as an elder statesman in the notoriously unstable country, with politicians soliciting his advice.

In attendance on Friday was the head of Mali’s ruling military junta Colonel Assimi Goita, part of a group of young officers who launched a coup ousting president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on August 18.

Former President Amadou Toumani Toure — who deposed Traore in the 1991 coup — was also among the mourners, alongside other ex-leaders.

Russian diplomats attended the ceremony on Friday, according to AFP journalists, but no French or European Union diplomats were present.

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US to ban TikTok downloads, WeChat use from Sunday

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The United States on Friday ordered a ban on downloads of popular Chinese-owned video app TikTok and use of the messaging and payment platform WeChat, saying they threaten national security.

The move, to be implemented Sunday, comes amid rising US-China tensions and efforts by the Trump administration to engineering a sale of TikTok to American investors.

“The Chinese Communist Party has demonstrated the means and motives to use these apps to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and the economy of the US,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement.

The initiative would ban WeChat, an app with massive use among Chinese speakers, and TikTok from the online marketplaces operated by Apple and Google.

But while WeChat will effectively be shut down from Sunday in the US, existing TikTok user will be able to continue using the app until November 12 — when it would also face a full ban on its US operations.

But the Commerce Department said if national security concerns over TikTok were resolved before then, the order may be lifted.

TikTok’s brand of brief, quirky videos made on users’ cellphones has become hugely popular, especially among young people.

The plan follows through on a threat by President Donald Trump, who has claimed Chinese tech operations may be used for spying, and it ramps up the pressure on TikTok parent ByteDance to conclude a deal to sell all or part of TikTok to allay US security concerns.

A deal which appeared to be taking shape would allow Silicon Valley giant Oracle to become the tech partner for TikTok, but some US lawmakers have objected to allowing ByteDance to keep a stake.

The ban on WeChat, owned by Chinese giant Tencent, has the potential for disrupting the widely used social media and financial application.

US officials said in a recent court filing they would not target those using WeChat for ordinary personal.

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Somali leader names new prime minister

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Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has named Mohamed Hussein Roble as prime minister.

The president said Mr Roble was selected on the basis of “his knowledge, experience and ability to move forward with state-building efforts and the development of national plans”.

If Mr. Roble wins the confidence of parliament, he will replace Hassan Ali Khaire, who was ousted in a no-confidence vote by parliament on 25 July.

President Farmajo, in a statement, urged the prime minister-designate to “immediately form a capable government that will lead the country to elections and makes significant efforts to consolidate security gains, rebuild the armed forces, develop infrastructure, expand basic services”.

Mr Roble is a relative newcomer to Somali’s politics.

His predecessor fell out with President Farmajo over differing views on the election due early next year. Mr Khaire had insisted that “elections should be held on time… to avoid a political, security and constitutional crisis”.

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