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Haiti: Police disrupts bishops’ Mass with tear gas



Haiti: Police disrupts bishops' Mass with tear gas

A “Mass for the freedom of Haiti,” led by about Haitian 11 bishops, turned violent at the end when police fired tear gas into the church, April 14.

The Mass was part of a national strike in response to recent kidnappings of clergy and religious in Haiti and growing anarchy in the Caribbean nation. The church and other entities had called for the strike.
The Miami Herald said some members of the congregation made it out of the church, but some passed out in the pews.

“The violence has reached a high point, we see that this is the deepest point ever reached in this country and we cannot go deeper,” Fiammetta Cappellini, Haiti-based country representative for the Milan-based AVSI, told Catholic News Service by phone.

AVSI, she said, did not join the national strike due to its ongoing humanitarian work, but Cappellini said the agency supports the spirit of the strike and hopes it brings attention and assistance to Haiti’s difficulties, which she said have been in steep decline since 2018.

Ironically, the global COVID-19 pandemic has not directly impacted Haiti’s populations as feared, but secondary fallout of unemployment, has further strained the local economies at the worst possible time. Unemployment is rampant, particularly among the young, she said.

“We looked at Somalia, Venezuela and we could not have imagined seeing Haiti going down this same road (of instability),” Cappellini said. “The country needs all the international support we can have. Haiti doesn’t have the resources to face this situation alone at this point.”

Fides, news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, reported the church in Haiti asked Catholic schools, religious schools, universities and other Catholic institutions to observe an interruption of activities April 15.

The Haitian bishops’ conference asked that church bells ring at noon across Haiti and that Masses are offered for change for the better in the country following the recent kidnapping of five Catholic priests, two nuns and three laypeople.

The victims were abducted on their way to a parish near the capital of Port-au-Prince early April 11. Father Ludger Mazile, secretary of the Haitian bishops’ conference, told Agence France Presse April 12 that the kidnappers had demanded a ransom of $1 million for the group’s release.

The silence, the prayer, the interruption of activities during the strike is intended to shake up the national conscience and urge the authorities to consider and address urgently the issue of kidnappings, Fides reported.

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Man slaps French President Man slaps French President



Man slaps French President Man slaps French President

A man slapped French President Emmanuel Macron’s face on Tuesday during a tour in southern France, footage of the incident circulating on social media showed.

Mr Macron was seen in the footage stretching his hands to greet a man in a small crowd of onlookers.

Rather than receive the handshake, the man, who was dressed in a green T-shirt, glasses and a face mask, held Mr Macron’s outstretched hand before slapping the left side of the president’s face, shouting “A Bas La Macronie,” meaning “Down with Macronia.”

He could also be heard shouting “Montjoie Saint Denis”, the battle cry of the French army when the country was still a monarchy, Reuters reported.

Two of Mr Macron’s security details charged at the unnamed white man, held him to the ground as another ushered the president away. Local mayor, Xavier Angeli, told franceinfo radio that the president urged his orderly to “leave him, leave him.”

While the identity of the man or his intent remains unclear, BFM TV and RMC radio reported that two people have been arrested.

“The man who tried to slap the president and another individual are currently being questioned by the gendarmerie,” the regional ofice said in a statement, according to AFP.

“Around 1:15 p.m., the president got back into his car after visiting a high school and came back out because onlookers were calling out to him,” it said.

Dressed in his trademark white sleeved shirt, Mr Macron was on a walkabout in the village of Tain-l’Hermitage in the Drome region to meet restaurateurs and students in order to feel “the country’s pulse” before next year’s presidential election.

The incident was condemned by Prime Minister Jean Castex, saying it was an affront to democracy.

“Democracy can never be about violence, verbal aggression, and even less about physical aggression. I call for a republican awakening, we are all concerned, the foundations of our democracy are at stake,” Reuters reported Mr Castex as telling the parliament.

Far-right leader and the president’s critic Marine Le Pen, seen as Mr Macron’s main challenger in 2022, also criticized the attack

“I am Emmanuel Macron’s No. 1 opponent, but he is the president. We can fight him politically but we cannot allow the slightest violence towards him,” she wrote on Twitter.

In 2016, Mr Macron, then economy minister at the time, was pelted with eggs by hard-left trade unionists during a strike against labour reforms, according to Reuters. Two years later, anti-government “yellow vest” protesters heckled and booed him in an incident that government allies said left the president shaken.

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FG gives condition to lift Twitter Ban, begs foreign envoys for understanding



FG gives condition to lift Twitter Ban, begs foreign envoys for understanding

The Nigerian Government had a meeting with envoys of the United Kingdom, United States, Ireland, Canada and the European union in Abuja on Monday to discuss the controversial suspension of Twitter’s operations in the country.

During the meeting, the Federal government represented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama gave conditions to lift its indefinite suspension of Twitter in Nigeria.

Onyeama said the micro-blogging site will be restored in Nigeria only if the platform can be used “responsibly”.

The US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard who led the team of Envoys to the meeting remained adamant on their earlier statement condemning the action.

She said “I will say that first of all that we recognize that there are issues of responsible use of social media but we remain firm on our position that free access to the ability to express one’s self is actually very important perhaps on one part, but also at trouble times.”

She also advised the Nigeria government to identify those who commit crimes and use judicial processes to deal with offenders; adding “but to constrain, that is not the behaviour.”

The envoy also noted that they are glad to hear that Nigeria is interacting with twitter.

On the challenges confronting the country, she said, “I think we made that statement very clear that we are Nigeria’s strong partners. We recognise the daunting times in the area of security challenges that confronts Nigeria. Well they are daunting, they are not insurmountable and part of the way you surmount them is through partnership.”

Onyeama said although there is no definite timeline for when it will be restored, the micro-blogging site was suspended so as to stop it from being used as a platform for destabilisation and facilitation of criminality

“The condition would be responsible use of the social media and that really has to be it.

“We are not saying that Twitter is threatening the country or any such thing. Why we have taken this measure is to stop them to be used as platforms for destabilisation and facilitation of criminality or encouragement of criminalities” he said

At the meeting held in Abuja were the envoys of the US, UK, Canada and the European Union, all of whom had condemned the “indefinite” suspension of Twitter in Nigeria.

Onyeama told newsmen after the meeting that the meeting was called for because the Federal government takes the comments of the envoys “very seriously”, hence the decision to discuss the matter with them in the “usual friendly way.” The Minister added that the Buhari administration has to keep an eye on its “main objective and legacy” which, according to him, is the security of lives and property.

“We want to use social media for good. Differences of opinion is not a problem; everybody will not think alike.

“But lives matter; Nigerian lives matter and we have to do everything we can to preserve Nigerian lives. And when we feel our goals are threatened, actions need to be taken.” he said.

Meanwhile the Federal Government said on Wednesday that Twitter has reached it for discussion.

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Chad: Bishops call for ‘inclusive dialogue’ as President Deby is buried



Chad: Bishops call for 'inclusive dialogue' as President Deby is buried

As Chad’s president Idriss Deby was buried on Friday, Catholic bishops in the African nation urged warring parties to take part in an “inclusive national dialogue.”

Déby, who had led the country since 1990, died April 20 from injuries sustained in battle against a dissident army rebel group known as Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) in the north of the country.

Chad, a Muslim-majority nation of around 16 million people, is located in north-central Africa and bordered by Libya, Sudan, the Central African Republic, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Niger. According to report, 23% of the population is Catholic.

In an April 22 statement, the bishops said that they joined “their voices to that of all Chadian men and women to call for an inclusive national dialogue which should be a dialogue of reconciliation.”

“This inclusive national dialogue for reconciliation is today a necessity for lasting peace in our country,” they said.

“It is necessary to create the conditions for its success. This dialogue, conducted by a politically independent, credible, and neutral body, will enable all the sons and daughters of our country to lay the foundations of a new consensual political order based on respect for individuals, concern for the common good, and the promotion of social justice.”

The bishops underscored the need for a cease-fire so that the inclusive national dialogue could bear fruit.

“It is necessary that all the warring parties unilaterally declare a cease-fire without conditions and drop their weapons,” they said in the statement, signed by Archbishop Edmond Djitangar Goetbé, archbishop of N’Djaména and president of the Episcopal Conference of Chad.

Déby was reportedly killed while visiting troops on the front line. According to Reuters, he was seen by Western powers as an ally in the fight against Islamist extremist groups, including Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin and groups linked to al-Qaeda and Islamic State in the Sahel.

A transitional council of military officers appointed Deby’s 37-year-old son, Mahamat Idriss Déby, as interim president. He will oversee the Transitional Military Council (CMT), a 15-member team expected to guide Chad during a transition period of 18 months.

Following his death, the CMT announced a 14-day national mourning period. The government and National Assembly have been dissolved and a nationwide curfew imposed from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. The country’s borders have also been closed.

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