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Libya’s Hifter tells Macron no cease-fire without negotiator

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PARIS, France (AP) — Libyan commander Khalifa Hifter said in a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron yesterday that he cannot work toward a cease-fire because he has no one with whom to negotiate.

Hifter opened a military offensive on the Libyan capital of Tripoli in early April despite commitments to move toward elections in the North African country.

Libya is divided between Hifter, whose self-styled Libyan National Army controls the east and much of the south, and Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj, who runs the UN-supported but weak government in Tripoli.

During a more than hour-long closed door meeting, Macron asked Hifter to work toward a cease-fire and a return to the political process, according to a statement from Macron’s office.

“When the question of a cease-fire is put on the table, “the reaction of … Hifter is ‘with whom can I negotiate a ceasefire today?’” an official of the presidential lyse Palace said. Hifter considers the Sarraj government is being eaten from within by armed militias and considers “it’s not for him (Hifter) to negotiate with representatives of these militias”, the official said. The official wasn’t authorised to speak publicly about the delicate talks and asked to remain anonymous.

The closed-door meeting came two weeks after Macron hosted Libya’s struggling UN-backed prime minister, who has denounced Hifter’s offensive as an attempted coup. Macron’s office has expressed support for Sarraj.

The official rejected claims that France is secretly backing Hifter, saying that France is trying “to create a dynamic” between the two.

“Sarraj is the legitimate prime minister of Libya and Hifter … is an essential actor in the Libyan crisis,” the official said.

Paris hosted the two men in 2017 in a bold bid to launch a peace process and organise elections. The statement from the president’s office said the meeting was “to facilitate dialogue between the two Libyans, in the context of military operations on the outskirts of Tripoli”.

The statement noted commitments by the Libyans in Paris, Italy and the United Arab Emirates: creating a transitional government, unifying Libyan institutions and preparing elections.

Hifter used the meeting to justify his offensive on Tripoli, the official said, but added that the Paris meeting was able to advance the situation.

“At the end of the meeting, Hifter recognised that inclusive political discussions are necessary, and he agreed that, when conditions are right, to the relaunching of political dialogue,” the official said.

“He didn’t say he would make a political (gesture) tonight or tomorrow, but was convinced at the end of the meeting of the need” for it, the official said.

The fighting over Tripoli erupted on April 4, with the LNA led by Hifter and aligned with a rival government in the east, launching a push on the country’s capital, located in the west, and militias loosely allied with the UN-supported government in Tripoli.

The death toll from the fighting stood at 510 on Sunday, according to the World Health Organization, mainly combatants but also including civilians. Tens of thousands have been displaced or trapped by Hifter’s offensive.

The UN envoy for Libya warned on on Tuesday that the oil-rich nation was “on the verge of descending into a civil war” that could imperil its neighbours. Ghassan Salame told the UN Security Council that extremists from the Islamic State group and al-Qaida are already exploiting the security vacuum.

Libya has been split between rival authorities in east and west since 2014, with each side backed by various militias. Hifter’s forces have battled Islamic extremists and other rival factions across eastern Libya, and recently made inroads in the south.

Hifter presents himself as a strong hand that can restore stability after years of chaos that transformed Libya into a haven for armed groups and a major conduit for migrants bound for Europe. His opponents, however, view him as an aspiring autocrat and fear the country could return to one-man rule as under longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, who was ousted and killed in 2011.

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Jamaicans help mark 230th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, French National Day

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Jamaicans help mark 230th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, French National Day

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

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WAY back in 1789 France, an angry crowd stormed the Bastille, a state prison in Paris known for housing anti-government prisoners. The crowd wanted ammunition to support their cause.

But their action has come to symbolise the French Revolution, and is celebrated worldwide every July 14, including in Jamaica ,where fine French wine wet the palates of a loyal group of expats, French language and culture lovers and diplomats, commemorating one of the most significant events of world history.

The Jamaica Observer was there this year, to bring you, even if belatedly, the joyous celebrations on the immaculately manicured lawns of the French Embassy at Hillcrest Avenue in Kingston, under the gracious host, Ambassador Denys Wibaux:

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Electronic Business Registration Form (eBRF) aiding public sector reform

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Electronic Business Registration Form (eBRF) aiding public sector reform

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

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Principal director of the Public Sector Transformation and Modernisation (PSTM) Programme, Office of the Cabinet, Wayne Robertson says the recently launched Electronic Business Registration Form (eBRF) will help Jamaica to improve its ranking on the World Bank’s Doing Business report index.

The island is ranked at 75 among 190 economies, according to the 2018 Doing Business report.

Robertson said the PSTM programme at its core focuses on improving efficiencies within the public sector, in terms of operational activities.

“We want to make processes simple, so we carried out business process re-engineering and worked with the ministries, departments and agencies to build capacities generally, training workers — looking at their operations, and making recommendations,” he explained.

“We cannot frustrate the persons who do business with the Government; we must make it easier to do business. We have to look at the data and ensure that we are listening to our clients, because we also have feedback mechanisms that guide us accordingly,” he said.

Robertson noted that information and communications technology (ICT), which is another PSTM objective, has been critical to all of the project’s operations, including eBRF.

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To Prof With Love

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To Prof With Love

Wednesday Social

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

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Sybil Waller Friday, last, hosted a celebratory dinner in honour of her son Professor Lloyd Waller’s promotion to Professor of Digital Transformation Policy and Governance, The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Campus.

Family, friends and colleagues gathered inside the Pavillion at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel and awaited the man of the hour who arrived dressed in a green and white Bill Edwards shirt. The light blush-fabric, which draped the suite, added easy charm to the dcor and mimicked the cool atmosphere on the outside.

Waller’s BFF, Professor Donna Hope, officially started the evening’s proceedings with a playful game of tattletale. Shortly after, Andrew Holness, prime minister of Jamaica, along with a few members of his Cabinet, joined the evening’s festivities.

PM Holness — who was first introduced to Waller’s work when he used one of his texts as a reference whilst completing a master’s programme and later used said text as part of a presentation to Parliament — described Waller as “representative of the new breed of academics”. “Academics should not be kept in the university, it is very important that the new breed of academics take their knowledge and use it to support the development of the country,” said Holness. “I think what Lloyd has done is worthy of praise and commendation,” He also took the opportunity to thank Waller for assisting the Government with its review and subsequent reimaging in 2012 after taking a loss at the polls a year prior, a courtesy he admited was seven years late but right on time. Holness dubbed Waller “our leading academic mind on issues to do with e-governance” and said Waller’s work will be very important in guiding Jamaica in the decades to come.

Prayer from Waller’s cousin, Yolande Whitely, preceded an emotional tribute from his mother, Sybil, who spoke to his early struggles with education and highlighted his many achievements over the years.

Tributes continued, with heartfelt expressions from Professor Anthony Harriot and Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett. Minister of Energy, Science and Technology Fayval Williams spoke on behalf of the eGov family, where Prof Waller is board chairman.

Recording artiste Nadine Sutherland — who met Professor Waller while earning her Master’s degree in cultural studies at UWI — serenaded guests with her rendition of Etta James’ At Last prior to delivering her Billboard hit, Action.

More tributes followed from Professor Ian Boxill; Minister of Transport and Mining Robert Montague and Professor Densil Williams, as guests enjoyed dinner in-between sips of Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc.

In his own remarks, Waller spotlighted his struggles during his formative years and his ‘aha’ moment when his mother — in tears said, “I stop being a mother when I stop believing in you and I will never stop being that.” He’s not looked back! “Every dollar I get, I give back 50 per cent to the universe because someone always needs some help,” he said.

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