Saturday, November 18

Saturday, November 18

RISING TIDE Biafran nationalism underpins local elections in Nigeria Voters in Anambra State will elect their next governor today. Once

RISING TIDE

Biafran nationalism underpins local elections in Nigeria

Anambra governor election

Photo: The Guardian NG

Voters in Anambra State will elect their next governor today. Once part of the short-lived secessionist state of Biafra, independence advocates have urged a boycott of today’s election.

With both the military and the government controlled by Muslim-dominated northern states, the independence movement is resisting the marginalisation of the predominantly Christian Igbo people.

To prevent another civil conflict, Igbo elders have called on the federal government to restructure Nigeria’s geopolitical boundaries to more fairly represent the Igbo people. In Anambra, the elders have endorsed Osita Chidoka to champion this message as governor.

An advocate of a united Nigeria, Chidoka mirrors the leaders’ position on a restructuring of power, framing his governorship as a bridge between secessionist movements and the Federal Government. While the incumbent Chief Willie Obiano has a high performance rating, Chidoka has performed well in debates and stands a good chance of taking office.

Despite pressure from activists, voter turnout is expected to be strong. Importantly, today’s vote will send a message that political reform is a keystone issue for the Igbo heading into 2019 general elections.

ELECTION IN EXILE

Catalan leader stands for election in exile

Catalan political parties

Photo: AP

Today is the deadline for candidates to register for Catalonia’s December 21 snap elections. Former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont has announced that he will stand.

Puigdemont fled to Belgium after leading the October 1 Catalan independence referendum, and Spanish authorities have issued warrants calling for his arrest on charges of “rebellion”. In the aftermath of sometimes violent confrontations between Spanish police and pro-independence activists at polling stations, Madrid invoked Article 155 of the Spanish constitution to dissolve the Catalan parliament and assert direct control over the region.

Although they are not yet extraditing him, the Belgian government has required Puigdemont to stay in the country, making the logistics of his leading a campaign extremely difficult.

Expect a poor showing from Puigdemont’s pro-independence coalition in the new elections. Pre-referendum opinion poll showed a slim majority of Catalans preferring Spanish unity, and the instability of the past month has potentially disillusioned many supporters of independence.

Delve deeper: The Catalan independence vote: statehood or autonomy?

EURO VIRUS ALERT

Brussels pushes awareness about antibiotic-resistant bugs

EU antibiotic resistant disease

Photo: Vanguardia

The EU marks Antibiotic Awareness Day today amid concern over the growing rate of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The over-the-counter use of antibiotics is normal for medicating common ailments. It is also used during surgeries and in animal husbandry. However, over-use allows bacteria to adapt antibiotic-resistant forms. The high and uncontrolled use of antibiotics is generally noticeable in Southern and Eastern Europe. The long-term risk, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, is that routine surgery, childbirth, pneumonia and possibly skin infections would become life threatening once again. An EU Action Plan is fighting this by placing restrictions and controls on antibiotic use across the region.

Recent data reveals that increasing rates of antibiotic-resistant bacteria accounted for 25,000 deaths per annum and $1.8 billion in public health spending. This includes E-coli resistance rates, which jumped 50% from 2013 to 2016.

A key problem is the lack of measurable targets in the EU Action Plan. Similarly, further restrictions from Brussels may meet resistance from newly elected EU governments, which bristle at EU overreach.

HAPPENING ELSEWHERE…

Lebanon’s former premier heads to France

Emmanuel-Macron_Saad-Hariri_841489228

Photo: Ludovic Marin/AP

Former Lebanese PM Saad Hariri will arrive in Paris today at the invitation of Emmanuel Macron. The French president says the visit is not designed to give Hariri political safe haven, but rather will demonstrate that the former Lebanese leader is not being detained in Saudi Arabia. Such sentiments were echoed by Saudi officials on Thursday after Iranian-leaning Lebanese President Michel Aoun accused Saudi authorities of holding Mr Hariri. The former PM resigned last week while on a visit to Riyadh, prompting speculation that Saudi officials were behind the move.