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World in brief: 04/06/2014

SOUTH AFRICA: The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) warned today that a company called Flexi Four, which had acquired Blue Dot gold mine in Amelia, had decided to dismiss members of the National Union of Mineworkers.

Several unsuccessful attempts had been made by the union to engage with the company.

Cosatu said it was tantamount to union-bashing, as workers were being denied employment on the basis of their affiliation to the union and called on the Department of Mineral Resources to investigate.

 

NIGERIA: The military insisted today that there was no truth in reports that 10 generals and five other senior military officers had been found guilty at courts martial of providing arms and information to Boko Haram extremists.

Several Nigerian newspapers reported the supposed verdict on Tuesday, following months of allegations by politicians and soldiers that some senior officers were helping the Islamist group and that some rank-and-file soldiers even fight alongside them and then return to army camps.

 

SLOVAKIA: Prime Minister Robert Fico said today that he opposes any deployment of foreign soldiers in Slovakia.

Reacting to US President Barack Obama’s proposal to increase the US military presence in Europe, Mr Fico says he “can’t imagine foreign troops deployed on our territory.”

Mr Obama announced on Tuesday that he would boost US military deployments throughout Europe.

Poland welcomed the announcement, but Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said his country saw no need for it.

 

UKRAINE: The Kiev government today proposed to split state-owned gas company Naftogaz into three separate businesses to comply with European Union rules regulating competition in the energy sector.

“Naftogaz will deal exclusively with trading gas,” said Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk.

“A Ukrainian company to transport gas and a company to store gas underground will also be created.”

Reforming Naftogaz and cutting its debts were conditions of an International Monetary Fund bailout.

 

UKRAINE: Nato’s top commander claimed today that the remaining Russian troops on the Ukraine border looked like they intend to stay there.

US Air Force General Philip Breedlove said that meant Nato needed to consider having a long-term troop presence deployed in the region “for as long as required” to address a Russian threat.

Gen Breedlove said Nato needed “to have a much more responsive force to address this new threat that we see.”

 

UNITED NATIONS: The Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century said today that 144 countries had now set policies and targets for green power.

In 2013, 95 developing countries adopted policies promoting renewable energy — a dramatic increase from just 15 countries in 2005.

Renewable energy provided 19 per cent of global energy consumption in 2012 and its use continued to grow in 2013.

 

NETHERLANDS: A major fire broke out late on Tuesday at a chemical plant near the port city of Rotterdam operated by oil giant Royal Dutch Shell.

Authorities said nobody was missing in the fire in Moerdijk.

But Shell spokesman Thijs van Velzen later said that two workers had suffered minor injuries.

The blaze was close to the site of another major fire three years ago at a chemical storage facility.

 

ALBANIA: The European Commission recommended today that Albania be granted candidate status to the 28-member bloc and urged it step up reforms.

It made the recommendation “with no conditionality or any reservations.”

Albania applied for candidate status in 2009 but a tense political situation and slack measures against corruption and crime hindered its efforts.

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