Washington reportedly has frozen the assets of the Venezuelan government due to the “continued usurpation of power” by President Nicolas Maduro, according to an executive order issued by President Donald Trump.
The sanctions, which came into effect on Monday, represent a significant escalation of U.S. attempts to force Maduro, who won a second term in a disputed election last year, from office.
The U.S. has already used sanctions to target Venezuelan government officials, the central bank and its state-run oil and gas sector, from which the country derives the vast majority of its export earnings.
The Venezuelan economy has collapsed under Mr Maduro, with inflation reaching 130,060 per cent last year and shortages of food and medicines driving millions of people abroad.
The leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, Juan Guaido, declared himself interim president in January but despite immediately winning the support of dozens of countries has failed to dislodge Mr Maduro.
On Monday, Trump accused Maduro’s government of “human rights abuses, arbitrary arrest and detention of Venezuelan citizens, curtailment of free press, and ongoing attempts to undermine Interim President Juan Guaido of Venezuela and the democratically-elected Venezuelan National Assembly.”
The announcement came a day ahead of the International Conference for Democracy in Venezuela in the Peruvian capital Lima, a meeting of representatives from than 50 countries seeking to find a peaceful solution to the crisis in Venezuela.
Trump’s hawkish National Security Advisor, John Bolton is to represent the U.S. at the meeting.
In a tweet published around the same time as the executive order, Mr Bolton said he was looking forward to a “productive day”.
China threatens sanctions against U.S. arms sales to Taiwan
China threatened to sanction U.S. companies involved in arms, F-16 fighter planes sales to Taiwan, the Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.
China “resolutely opposes” the arms sales and has lodged “solemn protests” to the U.S., said a statement on the Foreign Ministry’s WeChat account.
”China will take all necessary measures to safeguard its own interests including imposing sanctions against U.S. companies involved in the arms sales to Taiwan,” the ministry said.
Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, urged the U.S. to stop the arms sales and end military contact with Taiwan.
The U.S. government has approved the possible $8 billion (6.6 billion euros) deal involving 66 aircraft, the biggest in decades.
The potential sale comes amid ongoing tensions between Washington and Beijing, notably over trade.
China regards Taiwan as part of its territory which should be reunited with the mainland, by force if necessary.
It has regularly criticised U.S. arms deals with Taiwan including the current one, which has been widely discussed.
The U.S. Defence Security Cooperation Agency announced the deal on Tuesday in an official notification to Congress.
In a statement, it said that the deal was for 66 F-16 fighter aircraft, 75 General Electric engines and other systems.
The sale was in U.S. national interests and would help improve Taiwan’s security, it added.
Quoted by Chinese state media, Mr Geng said the sale was a violation of international law and international relations, as well as the One China policy – under which the U.S. recognises and has only formal ties with China and not Taiwan.
Embassy demands probe into killing of Nigerian in Ukraine
The Nigerian Embassy in Ukraine has petitioned the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the police department in Kharkiv demanding full investigations into the circumstances surrounding the alleged stabbing to death of a Nigerian, Gbolade Ejemai.
Ejemai, a medical doctor, was allegedly stabbed to death by one Victoria Popravko, with the connivance of her father in Ukraine.
The Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM ), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, who had been in touch with the family of the deceased and Nigerian Embassy in Ukraine, confirmed the petition in a statement on Tuesday.
The statement signed by NIDCOM’s Head of Media, Abdur-Rahman Balogun was made available to reporters in Abuja.
Mrs Dabiri-Erewa said the petition was delivered to the Ukrainian authorities on behalf of the Federal Government.
She confirmed that the Nigerian Embassy in Ukraine had engaged with both the host Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Police department in Kharkiv, informing them of the concern of the Federal government over the death of Ejemai.
“We have requested for a full and thorough investigation into the circumstance surrounding his demise, with a view to ensuring that justice is carried out,” Mrs Dabiri-Erewa said.
The NIDCOM Chairman added that the Nigerian Embassy in Ukraine had called a meeting aimed at having further discussions on the matter with the affected stakeholders.
She also confirmed that she had got in touch with the deceased’s family assuring them of federal government’s commitment to ensuring that justice is done.
She described the killing of Mr Ejemai as a sad one and prayed for God to give his family the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.
It would be recalled that a family friend of the deceased, Dr Ajayi, had reportedly said that Ms Popravko and Mr Ejemai were in a relationship.
He said the duo got into a heated argument on August 8 in the suspect’s house.
Ms Popravko allegedly stabbed Mr Ejemai in his abdomen, which led him in to a state of prolonged unconsciousness and he was taken in for surgery on the said date.
The deceased was said to have told his side of the story when he came out of coma almost 24 hours after the incidence.
He alleged that when Ms Popravko’s father discovered that he was still alive after the stabbing, he hit him on the head with a hammer. (NAN
Ebola spreads, kill in remote militia-run Congo village
Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo have confirmed a new case of Ebola in the remote, militia-controlled territory of Walikale, the Health Ministry said.
Walikale is hundreds of kilometres away from where previous cases near the border with Uganda and Rwanda occurred.
Pinga, the village where the case was reported, lies about 150 km (95 miles) northwest of Goma, one of the towns affected by the Ebola epidemic, and much further away from the epicentre of the epidemic in Butembo and Beni.
The ministry data also showed a third case confirmed in South Kivu region, which on Friday reported its first cases, more than 700 km (430 miles) south of where the first case was detected.
The widening geographic spread of the virus, and its presence in yet another zone under the sway of armed groups raises the risk of it spreading out of control, even while the technical tools to rein it in are better than ever.
Walikale is controlled almost entirely by a Mai Mai ethnic militia, surrounded by forest and difficult to access because of poor roads.
Ebola has killed at least 1,900 people in Congo over the past year, the second biggest toll in the disease’s history, after 2014, when 16 outbreaks in West Africa killed 11,300 people.
Unlike during that outbreak, there are now major medical advances that have helped fight the disease, including two trial vaccines.
Both vaccines were being deployed and mobile treatment units and experimental treatments had shown the promise of a 90 per cent survival rate.
But public mistrust and rampant insecurity in parts of eastern Congo where there are a plethora of armed groups and criminal gangs left over from two major wars in the late 1990s have hampered the response.
The hemorrhagic fever, first discovered in Congo in 1976, spreads through direct contact with body fluids and typically kills roughly half of those it infects.
The mortality rate is closer to two thirds during the current outbreak because so many victims have failed to seek treatment.
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