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New Zealand Youngest-Ever Prime Minister, Jacinda Arden Resigns

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern held back tears as she announced her resignation in an emotional press conference.

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Ardern during the Labour Partys traditional January caucus meeting in Napier on Thursday said she hoped to find the energy and heart during the Christmas break to stay in the job, ‘but I have not been able to do that’, Dailymail reports.

‘Once I realised that I didn’t, I knew unfortunately there was not much alternative other than to hand over now,’ she said.

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‘I am human. Politicians are human. We give all we can for as long as we can – and then it’s time. And for me, it’s time.

‘I know what this job takes. And I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice.

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‘I am leaving because with such a privileged job comes a big responsibility. The responsibility to know when you are the right person to lead – and also when you’re not.

‘I have given my absolute all to being prime minister but it has also taken a lot out of me. You cannot and should not do the job unless you have a full tank, plus a bit in reserve for those unplanned and unexpected challenges that inevitably come along.

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‘Having reflected over summer I know I no longer have that bit extra in the tank to do the job justice. It’s that simple.’

Her resignation comes into effect on Sunday if the Labour Party can elect her replacement in a two-thirds vote on that day, or on February 7 if the process is drawn out.

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Ardern resigns at just 42 after becoming leader just over five years ago on October 26, 2017. She was New Zealand’s youngest-ever PM, and before that youngest sitting MP in 2008, elected aged 28.

During her press conference, she admitted: ‘I didn’t expect to be prime minister’.

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She insisted her party trailing in the polls to the rival National Party ahead of the upcoming election had nothing to do with her decision to step down.

‘The Labour team are incredibly well placed to contest the next election. They are the most experienced team in the country and have shown they have the skills necessary to respond to whatever comes their way,’ she said.

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‘I am not leaving because I believe we can’t win the election but because I believe we can and will. But we need a fresh set of shoulders for the challenges of both this year and the next three.

‘I know there will be much discussion in the aftermath of this decision as to what the so-called “real reason” was. I can tell you that what I’m sharing with you today is it.

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‘The only interesting angle that you will find is that going on six years of some big challenges, I am human.’

The Labour caucus was surprised when she told them of her intention to resign on Thursday morning, but Ardern said they understood and did not begrudge her stepping down.

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‘If I don’t have what it takes, I need to let someone else take on this job,’ she said.

During her resignation speech, Ms Ardern announced the next New Zealand general election will be held on October 14. She will stay Mt Albert MP until April so a byelection would not be needed.

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Ms Ardern said there wasn’t one singular moment where she realised she needed to quit, but admitted the cumulative challenges had ‘taken their toll’ and the ‘sheer weight’ of making continual tough decisions during a series of national crises was ‘taxing’.

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Foreign

Airlines cancel over 1,400 U.S. flights as ice storm hits multiple states

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Kayode Arewa Sanni

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Airlines canceled over 1,400 flights in the United States on Wednesday, after an ice storm hit states from Texas to West Virginia.
A total of 1,467 flights within, into or out of the United States were canceled, while 527 flights were delayed as of 6.48 a.m. ET, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware.
The Federal Aviation Administration, FAA, on Tuesday warned in a tweet that travelers could expect to see some snowy conditions in certain areas including Dallas, Fort Worth and Memphis, which could delay certain flights.
“The ongoing winter storm will continue to bring hazardous impacts to North and Central Texas through at least early Thursday morning,” The U.S. National Weather Service said in its Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area forecast discussion.
Low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines Co, LUV.N, led cancellations with 487 flights, while Fort Worth, Texas-based peer American Airlines Group Inc, AAL.O, closely followed, canceling nearly 480 flights.
Southwest and American did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.
The latest cancellations come nearly a month after Southwest faced U.S. government backlash for canceling 16,700 flights over the holidays, as it grappled with bad weather and outdated technology.

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USAID grants $2.1million to 40 organizations promoting conflict resolution in Northeast Nigeria

Buhari
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The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has expended the sum of $2.1 million on 40 organisations working on conflict resolution across 90 communities in North East region of Nigeria.

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The grant was for a two-year conflict mitigation activity tagged: ‘Building Community Resilience to Violent Extremism and Conflict in Northeast Nigeria’.

The programme, also known as Northeast Connection, was designed to equip participants with the skills required to counter violent conflict.

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Since 2021, Northeast Connection promoted nonviolent conflict resolution from the grassroots to state government levels in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states. The activity provided capacity building for the 40 local organizations to strengthen local civil society groups and promote local solutions to violence.

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At the closeout of the programme, Conflict Specialist USAID, Nigeria, Mukhtari Shitu said USAID was committed to enduring partnerships with the Nigerian government institutions and civil societies to mitigate violent conflict in the country.

 

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Implemented by Creative Associates, the USAID-supported conflict resolution activity in 90 communities across 15 local government areas (LGAs) in the three states.

The Northeast Connection established 181 peace platforms that supported community organizers to identify and advocate for social priorities; trained more than 22,000 people in conflict mitigation and cross-community dialogues; and provided trauma-informed psychosocial support to more than 4,300 community members.

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In Yobe State, the activity worked with the emergency management agency to launch the first-ever two-year Early Recovery Plan which equipped the agency with the ability to respond to and recover from disasters more effectively.

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It would be recalled that violent conflict has devastated social and governance structures and local markets in Northeast Nigeria. The ongoing insurgency by violent extremist groups such as Boko Haram and ISIS West Africa has killed over 35,000 and displaced 2.2 million people. The region also struggles with regular inter communal clashes between farmers, herders, and other groups over land and water resources.

The Northeast connection activity is part of USAID’s strategic effort to decrease conflict and instability and promote stability and early recovery in Nigeria.

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George Weah To Seek Re-Election As Liberian President

Weah
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Liberian President and former international football star George Weah announced on Monday he would stand for re-election later this year.

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The announcement comes amid mounting criticism of Weah, who is accused of being out of touch with the population facing rising prices and food shortages.

“My fellow citizens, I will be coming to you shortly to ask you to renew (…) for a second time the mandate that you gave me six years ago,” Weah said in his annual State of the Nation address.

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The election is slated for October 10 in the West African country.

Weah came to power in 2018 after winning an October 2017 election.

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The 56-year-old was absent from Liberia for more than a month late last year, prompting criticism.

He went abroad at the end of October for a string of political gatherings in numerous countries — and to watch his footballer son represent the United States at the World Cup in Qatar.

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The president was not until December 18 seen in his homeland, where people have been battling soaring prices and shortages of basic goods.

The day before several hundred Liberians had demonstrated peacefully at the call of the opposition to denounce the incompetence but also Weah’s indifference to the plight of ordinary Liberians.

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Fighting corruption had been one of Weah’s major campaign promises, but in September he accepted the resignations of three close allies after the United States accused them of corruption.

Weah had initially suspended the men from their roles after Washington imposed sanctions on them over allegations tied to multi-million-dollar contracts and at least $1.5 million in diverted public funds.

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Graft remains endemic, with the watchdog Transparency International ranking Liberia 136th of 180 countries in its 2021 corruption perceptions index.

Founded as a colony in 1822 by former US slaves, Liberia became a republic 25 years later — Africa’s first.

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It is still recovering from back-to-back civil wars that left 250,000 people dead.

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