Image from a video released by the Amaq news agency purporting to show Ramadi after Islamic State took control
Shia militias are assembling east of the Iraqi city of Ramadi to prepare for a counter-attack against Islamic State militants who captured it on Sunday.
Iraqi state TV described tanks and other military vehicles entering al-Habbaniyah military camp. IS fighters are reportedly moving towards the base.
The Iraqi government called for help from the Iran-backed militias after the military was routed and fled.
About 500 people died in the city – only 70 miles (112km) west of Baghdad.
Shia forces at Habbaniya, about 20km (12 miles) from Ramadi, were "now on standby," the head of the Anbar provincial council, Sabah Karhout, was quoted by Reuters as saying.
In a statement, the council said about 3,000 Shia fighters had arrived in Anbar to take part in "the liberation of all Ramadi areas in which IS militants took positions".
But IS militants had also advanced from Ramadi to the outskirts of the town of al-Khalidiyah, near the Habbaniyah base, an IS statement and witnesses said.
The fall of Ramadi is a disaster for the Iraqi army and government, and especially its Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi.
After the recapture of another provincial capital, Tikrit, at the end of March, he announced the start of a similar campaign to "liberate" Anbar province (the country's biggest) and flew to Ramadi to kick it off.
Now Ramadi has gone, and along with it the military command centre for the whole province. A few days before the final collapse on Sunday, Mr Abadi said he would not allow it to fall.
Now he and the largely Sunni provincial council have had to do what they didn't want – to call in the Iranian-backed Shia militias who were instrumental on the ground in recapturing Tikrit.
They will play the lead role if Ramadi is to be recaptured. Will the Americans bomb to support them, and help spread Iranian penetration and control in Iraq?
The US has said it is confident the capture of Ramadi can be reversed.
Speaking in South Korea, Secretary of State John Kerry said: "I am convinced that as the forces are redeployed and as the days flow in the weeks ahead, that's going to change."
The Shia militias, known as the Popular Mobilisation (Hashid Shaabi), were key to the recapture from IS of another city, Tikrit, north of Baghdad, in April.
But their use has raised concern in the US and elsewhere that it could provoke sectarian tension in Sunni areas such as Ramadi.
The militias pulled out of Tikrit following reports of widespread violence and looting.
In another move, the Iranian Defence Minister, Hossein Dehghan, has arrived in Baghdad on a visit arranged before the latest developments in Ramadi.
The police and military made a chaotic retreat from Ramadi, which has been contested for months, after days of intense fighting.
A statement purportedly from IS said its fighters had "purged the entire city". It said IS had taken the 8th Brigade army base, along with tanks and missile launchers left behind by troops.
An Iraqi army officer told the BBC that most troops had retreated to a military base in the city of Khalidiya, east of Ramadi, despite an order from Prime Minister Abadi for them to stand firm.
The US-led coalition says it has carried out 19 air strikes in Iraq since early on Sunday, including attacks around Ramadi.
However, they appear to have failed to hinder the IS advance there.
Reports said Iraqi forces had fled following a series of suicide car bomb attacks on Sunday.
Four almost simultaneous explosions hit police defending the Malaab district in southern Ramadi. Later, three more suicide bombers drove explosives-laden cars into the gate of the provincial military headquarters, the Anbar Operation Command, officials said.
Anbar province covers a vast stretch of the country west from Baghdad to the Syrian border, and contains key roads that link Iraq to both Syria and Jordan. Ramadi's loss is seen as a severe setback for the government.
IS reportedly controls more than half of Anbar's territory.
Some 8,000 people have been displaced by the latest bout of fighting in Ramadi, according to the International Organisation for Migration.
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.
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.
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.