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Greece debt crisis: Eurozone summit strikes deal

Greeks had an anxious wait as talks in Brussels dragged on

Eurozone leaders have agreed to offer Greece a third bailout, after marathon talks in Brussels.

Amid one of the worst crises in the EU's history, the head of the European Commission said the risk of Greece leaving the eurozone had been averted.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that after a "tough battle", Greece had secured debt restructuring and a "growth package".

The bailout is conditional on Greece passing agreed reforms by Wednesday.

These include measures to streamline pensions, raise tax revenue and liberalise the labour market.

An EU statement spoke of up to €86bn (£61bn) of financing for Greece over three years.

Though it included an offer to reschedule Greek debt repayments "if necessary", there was no provision for the reduction in Greek debt – or so-called "haircut" – that the Greek government had sought.

Parliaments in several eurozone states also have to approve any new bailout.

"There will not be a 'Grexit'," said European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, referring to the fear that if there had been no deal, Greece could have crashed out of the euro.

Mr Tsipras also said he had the "belief and the hope that… the possibility of 'Grexit' is in the past".

"The deal is difficult but we averted the pursuit to move state assets abroad," he said. "We averted the plan for a financial strangulation and for the collapse of the banking system."

The Greek PM returned to Athens after the talks and went straight into a meeting with Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos and other party officials.

Mr Tsipras must get several unpopular measures through the Greek parliament in the next two days, including sales tax increases and pension reforms, to continue the third bailout process.

Athens has been offered a third bailout. Bankruptcy – the spectre of a failed state – has been avoided, and Greece will stay inside the euro. But the deal has left many Greeks humiliated. It is not just the ranks of the left that are using the word "surrender".

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will have to rush key measures on pension reforms, tax increases and a debt repayment fund through parliament. It will be a bruising process. Only then will bridging loans be released that will enable Greece to meet a payment to the European Central Bank next Monday.

As it is, the deal will almost certainly lead to snap elections. Mr Tsipras will reshuffle his cabinet and discard those cabinet ministers who opposed his latest proposal.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the head of the eurozone group of finance ministers, said the agreement included a €50bn Greece-based fund that will privatise or manage Greek assets. Out of that €50bn, €25bn would be used to recapitalise Greek banks, he said.

Greek banks have been closed for two weeks, with withdrawals at cash machines limited to €60 per day. The economy has been put under increasing strain, with some businesses closing and others struggling to pay suppliers.

Monday saw the European Central Bank maintain its cap on emergency funds being provided to Greek banks, meaning they will stay shut for now to prevent them running out of funds.

Eurozone finance ministers meeting in Brussels have discussed providing "bridge financing" that would cover Greece's short-term needs, but have made no final decisions.

"The road will be long, and judging by the negotiations tonight, difficult," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday morning.

French President Francois Hollande said the agreement had allowed Europe to "preserve integrity and solidarity".

"We also had to show that Europe is capable of solving a crisis that has menaced the eurozone for several years," he said.

Mr Juncker said: "In this compromise, there are no winners and no losers.

"I don't think the Greek people have been humiliated, nor that the other Europeans have lost face. It is a typical European arrangement."

However, many Greeks and others who thought that unduly harsh terms were being imposed on Greece have expressed their widespread anger online using the hashtag #ThisIsACoup.

Mr Tsipras came to power after his left-wing Syriza party won elections in January on a promise to end austerity. Greece has already received two bailouts totalling €240bn since 2010.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.

Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021
LAWRENCE-OOKEDITSE

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.

Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.

Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”

“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.

He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.

He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.

According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.

There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.

Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.

“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication.
The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.

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