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Indonesia arrests ex-rebel turned governor in Aceh over graft

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Jakarta: Indonesia’s anti-corruption agency has arrested the governor of Aceh province over accusations that he took illegal fees for projects funded from more than $500 million of state funds, the latest high-profile target in a battle on graft.

 

Irawandi Yusuf, a former separatist rebel, became the first directly elected governor of the northwestern province after a peace deal to end years of conflict was signed with Jakarta in the wake of the devastating 2004 tsunami.

Yusuf, who escaped from a jail where he had been serving a sentence for treason after it flooded during the tsunami, was reelected in 2017 for a second term as governor.

The province has a high level of autonomy and is the only Indonesian area to use Islamic law.

The governor had been named a suspect, along with two businessmen and another official, said agency official Basaria Panjaitan.

“There was an alleged corruption offence for receiving gifts or promises by Aceh’s governor, related to the allocation and distribution of Aceh’s special autonomy budget,” Panjaitan said in a statement late on Wednesday.

“This is really costing the people of Aceh,” she added, saying that a budget of 8 trillion rupiah ($555.17 million) had been allocated for projects such as road building, poverty eradication, education and health.

Nine people were initially detained in Aceh before the four suspects were flown to Jakarta, Febri Diansyah, a spokesman for Indonesia’s corruption eradication commission (KPK), said in a text message.

Reuters could not immediately reach Yusuf, who is being held in a KPK detention centre, or his lawyer, to seek comment.

The Antara state news agency cited Yusuf as denying he had received any illegal fees for infrastructure projects.

The KPK has jailed a string of high-ranking officials in the past decade, but Indonesians still have to contend with high levels of graft in many areas of their lives.

The southeast Asian nation placed 96th among 180 countries in Transparency International’s annual corruption perceptions index last year, on par with neighbouring Thailand and Colombia.

The KPK will prosecute Yusuf under Indonesian law, rather than Islamic law, media quoted Panjaitan as saying.

Under Islamic law, Aceh has imposed public caning for crimes such as theft, gambling and adultery.

 

 


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International

Trump will suffer same fate as Saddam: Iran’s Rouhani

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Tehran :President Hassan Rouhani says Iranians will defeat US President Donald Trump like what they did to former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
He made the remarks in a military parade in Tehran on Saturday to mark the beginning of the week that commemorates Iran’s eight-year resistance against Iraq’s 1980-88 invasion.
About 600 vessels took part in the Persian Gulf naval drill, a day after Iran held aerial exercises in the waterway, vowing that a “pounding reply” awaited the country’s enemies.
Trump withdrew from a landmark multilateral nuclear deal in May and reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic last month.
“The same will happen to Trump. America will suffer the same fate as Saddam Hussein,” Rouhani said.
The president also said Iran will not abandon its defensive weapons, including its missiles “that make America so angry”.

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Guterres to make first India visit as UN chief on Oct 1, to open UN House

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United Nations:UN chief Antonio Guterres will travel to India early next month, his first trip to the country as head of the world body that coincides with the commencement of events marking the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
The Secretary-General will arrive in New Delhi on October 1. His visit coincides with the beginning of events to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on October 2 next year, Deputy Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General Farhan Haq told reporters here on Friday.
On October 1, Guterres will formally open the new UN House in New Delhi and on October 2, the Secretary-General will participate in the closing session of the Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention.
During the visit, he will meet President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on October 3.
He will also meet with Speaker of the Lok Sabha Sumitra Mahajan before giving a lecture at the India Habitat Centre on Global Affairs on the theme ‘Global challenges, global solutions’.
The Secretary-General will also take part in the General Assembly of the International Solar Alliance. In the afternoon of October 3, he will visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar and will return to New York on October 4.
Guterres had visited India in July 2016, just months ahead of the election for Secretary General. During his visit then, he had met Swaraj.
Replying to a question on Guterres’ trip to the Golden Temple, Haq said that the visit is essentially a personal one as the UN chief wanted to see the holy Sikh pilgrimage site.
When asked if Guterres will be asked questions about the 1984 Sikh riots, Haq said it was a bit “premature” to mention the topics he will bring up.
Haq also expressed the world body’s gratitude to the Indian government for its contribution of $1 million to install solar panels and a green roof on the Conference Building of the United Nations Secretariat.
The contribution was received by Under-Secretary-General for Management Jan Beagle, who said that “India’s generous contribution sends a strong message promoting innovation for action on climate change, and to enable greater efficiencies”.
The initiative will help the Secretariat reduce its carbon footprint and promote sustainable energy, Haq added.

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Rouhani vows to boost Iran missiles despite western concerns

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Tehran: President Hassan Rouhani vowed on Saturday to boost Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities despite Western concerns that were cited by his US counterpart Donald Trump in May when he abandoned a landmark nuclear deal with Tehran.
“We will never decrease our defensive capabilities… we will increase them day by day,” Rouhani said at a military parade.
“The fact that the missiles anger you shows they are our most effective weapons,” he said, referring to the West. Iran has ballistic missiles with a range of up to 3,500 kilometres (2,200 miles), enough to reach both Israel and US bases in the Middle East.

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