BERLIN – German Social Democrat leader (SPD) Martin Schulz stepped down with immediate effect on Tuesday, hoping to put an end to the turbulence that has rocked the center-left party since it agreed a coalition deal with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives.
Schulz’s deputy Olaf Scholz – the Hamburg mayor who is slated to become finance minister in the new government – said he would become caretaker SPD leader, and the party confirmed that it had recommended parliamentary floor leader Andrea Nahles as Schulz’s longer-term successor.
Deeply divided over the coalition deal and the distribution of ministerial posts, and facing a slump in opinion polls, SPD leaders are trying to convince 464,000 party members to back the accord with Merkel in a ballot on which her fourth term depends.
With many SPD rank-and-file members harboring misgivings about sharing power with Merkel again, the result of the vote, due on March 4, is wide open. If members reject the coalition deal, a new German election looks the most likely option.
Schulz said an extraordinary party congress would be held in the western city of Wiesbaden on April 22 to pick the SPD’s new leader.
Nahles, a plain-speaking 47-year-old former labor minister with a left-wing slant and strong oratory skills, is frontrunner and would become the first female leader in the party’s 154-year history.
Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Martin Schulz makes a statement at the party headquarters in Berlin, Germany, February 13, 2018. REUTERS/Fabrizio BenschSchulz said last week he would quit to allow the party to regroup and he recommended Nahles as leader but expectations that she would take over with immediate effect on a caretaker basis until a party conference triggered resistance as it breaches party procedure.
FOREIGN MINISTER POST
Slideshow (3 Images)In a cartoon on Tuesday, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily showed Nahles with a whip riding an SPD snail.
Schulz ditched plans to take the post of foreign minister after fierce criticism from some former allies, not least because he had vowed not to serve in a cabinet with Merkel.
That leaves open who from within the SPD may take up that post. Media have speculated that one option might be Katarina Barley, a former SPD general secretary and family minister, or SPD veteran Thomas Oppermann.
Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, has been without a formal government since the Sept. 24 election and investors are worried about a delay in policymaking, both at home and in Europe.
The turmoil in the SPD can only distract from criticism of Merkel from within her own party after she handed the foreign and finance ministries to the SPD to secure the coalition deal.
An INSA poll published on Tuesday showed the SPD at a record low of 16.5 percent, only 1.5 percentage points ahead of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). Merkel’s conservative bloc was also down 1 point at 29.5 percent.
Reporting by Madeline Chambers and Michelle Martin;
Mexican Oil Shake-up Likely If Frontrunner Wins Presidency Top Adviser
MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s presidential frontrunner is not opposed to foreign investment in the country’s oil, a top adviser said, but his government would make dramatic changes to energy strategy, including a new focus on refining rather than crude exports.
In perhaps the most significant change envisioned by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the favorite to win the July 1 election, Mexico would seek to end decades of exporting crude in three years, a lawmaker who Lopez Obrador has tapped to be his future energy minister said in an interview.
Instead, Mexico should turn its focus to producing value-added fuels, processing crude domestically to produce more gasoline and diesel at refineries owned by state oil company Pemex, Rocio Nahle told Reuters late on Wednesday.
Reporting by David Alire Garcia,
Haiti Suspends Oxfam Gbs Operating Right Amid Misconduct Probe
PORT-AU-PRINCE – Haiti has temporarily revoked Oxfam Great Britain’s right to operate in the Caribbean country after allegations of sexual misconduct by some of the charity’s staff there, Planning and External Cooperation Minister Aviol Fleurant said on Thursday.
The British aid organization has been rocked by allegations that staff, including a former Haiti country director, used prostitutes during a relief mission after a devastating earthquake hit the island nation in 2010.
Fleurant said the suspension was ordered due to “serious failings” by Oxfam Great Britain between 2010 and 2011, and that a definitive decision on its ability to operate in Haiti would be made in two months following a review of the evidence.
“If during the two month-long investigation I find out there is a link between the aid funds that Oxfam received on behalf of Haiti and the crime that has been committed, we will … declare Oxfam Great Britain persona non grata and they would have to leave the country without further delay,” Fleurant said.
Haiti’s Minister of Planning and External Cooperation Aviol Fleurant shows a document after a meeting with Oxfam International Regional Director for Latin America, Simon Ticehurst, and Oxfam Intermon Executive Affiliate Unit head, Margalida Massot, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, February 22, 2018. REUTERS/Andres Martinez CasaresAlain Lemithe, a lawyer representing Oxfam Great Britain, called the decision to suspend the charity “hasty and political”, saying that it was not based on clear evidence of wrongdoing.
“For example, they accused the organization of sexual abuse and use of minors,” Lemithe said. “Those are very serious allegations which until now have never been proven.”
Slideshow (3 Images)In a separate statement, Fleurant accused Oxfam staff of committing acts of “sexual abuse” and exploitation.
The minister said Oxfam Great Britain had “deliberately omitted” to alert Haitian authorities about the alleged misconduct, thereby allowing perpetrators to escape justice.
Allegations of misconduct surfaced through media investigations and an internal Oxfam report. Fleurant said the revelations had besmirched the “honor and dignity” of Haiti’s people.
The suspension of the charity’s right to operate did not apply to Oxfam Canada, he said.
Brit Newlywed Jon Udall Dies 12 Days After Grand Canyon Helicopter Crash That Killed Three Other Brits And Left His Bride ‘critical’
A NEWLYWED has become the fourth Brit to die in a horrifying Grand Canyon helicopter crash.
Jon Udall has died 12 days after the shocking accident – his new wife, Ellie Milward, is still in a critical condition in hospital.
Jon Udall and his wife Ellie – the pair were on their honeymoon in America
The pair were on their honeymoon in Las Vegas when they took the helicopter tour.
Pictures of the happy couple celebrating their marriage just months before emerged in the days that followed.
Six passengers and a pilot were on board the Papillon Airways EC-130 when it crashed into the Arizona landmark.
A family friend wrote a heartbroken post confirming Jon’s death on a Just Giving page set up to help pay for their medical costs after the accident.
Jon had been in hospital for 12 days but died from his injuries
Jon and Ellie on their wedding day just months before the horrifying crash
AP:Associated Press A survivor was pitched miraculously walking away from the burning helicopter
He said: “It is with a very heavy heart that I must type this. Our Good friend Jon Udall has succumbed to his injuries.
“He was strong, brave and I will never forget him. I will update this page when possible.
“Ellie is critical and is continuing to fight.”
Stuart Hill, celebrating his 30th birthday, his girlfriend Becky Dobson, 27, and his brother Jason, 32, were killed.
Caters They were in America as part of their honeymoon after having got married months before
He had got married just months before the accident Three British tourists killed in a helicopter crash in the Grand Canyon have been named by US police
Pals Jennifer Barham, 39, and honeymooning couple Ellie, 29, and Jon, 32, were fighting for their lives in hospital last night – tragically Jon has since died.
Witnesses described scenes of chaos after spotting the sight-seeing aircraft engulfed in flames approximately 600ft inside the ravine.
Jon was trapped in the wreckage for eight hours before being rescued after Ellie staggered free.
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