The action as expected sparked a debate on social media on Friday.
Nigerians have taken to social media to mock President Buhari after the doves, otherwise known as white pigeons, released by him at the Armed Forces Remembrance Day ceremony, refused to fly despite multiple attempts.
The President had opened the birdcage at the National Arcade, picked up one of the doves, and thrown it into the air but the bird landed atop the cage and refused to fly.
Buhari, who was eager to let the white pigeons fly, opened the roof of the cage in a bid to send them all out but the birds remained adamant and decided to sit on top of the cage’s roof.
The President, who appeared tired of trying, soon left the birds and returned to his seat. Moments after the President had left, however, some of the birds flew.
Reacting on twitter, one Odoemena sarcastically wrote “there must be sanctions, those birds were given sleeping drugs to embarrass the president”
One Oyindamola wrote “Nothing moves in this country, not economy, not even pigeons”
One Wunmi wrote “Just like the Nigerian citizens, these pigeons are very hungry and do not have the strength to fly”
The ritual of releasing doves is to commemorate the life of a departed loved one and is common at significant events like funerals or memorials. It also signifies peace.
In 2014, the doves refused to fly when former President Goodluck Jonathan freed them. The Spiritual Director of the Adoration Ministry Enugu, Rev Fr. Ejike Mbaka, described the incident at the time as a sign that God had abandoned Jonathan.
The refusal of the birds to fly on Friday, however, sparked thousands of comments on social media.
A former presidential aspirant of the All Progressives Congress, Adamu Garba, said the birds should be eaten if they cannot do what they were trained to do.
“The pigeons are tired and overtime became lazy, they don’t want to fly the spirit of The Nigerian Flag. We should roast them at Suya joint and deploy Crowwe for action,” he said.
Social media personality, Morris Monye, said the Department of State Services would have arrested the pigeons for embarrassing the President if they could.
“I guarantee you… If it was possible, the DSS would arrest the pigeons for such an affront on the President. But really, is there peace, harmony, and security in the land?” he asked.
A former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, who is a known critique of the President, also tweeted, “Hmmm. Even the pigeons in Nigeria.”
The chief justice had to interrupt hearings on Friday after he was told one of his close aides had contracted coronavirus, forcing him to self-isolate.
South Africa’s ex-president Jacob Zuma will not appear before a judicial panel probing alleged graft during his time in office, his lawyer said Friday, despite a court application seeking to compel him to testify.
Zuma, 78, has played cat-and-mouse with the commission since it was set up in 2018 to investigate looting of state coffers during his nine-year tenure.
The former leader has only testified to the panel once, in July 2019, but pulled out after a few days, saying he was being treated as an “accused” rather than as a witness.
He reappeared briefly before the commission in November to demand that the its chair, deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, recuse himself.
The exasperated panellists issued a fresh summons starting on January 18 and filed an urgent Constitutional Court application to oblige him to comply.
But Zuma’s lawyer Eric Mabuza on Friday told AFP the ex-president would not be appearing next week.
In a WhatsApp message, Mabuza explained that his client was waiting for the Constitutional Court to respond to the commission’s application.
He is also holding out for the outcome of an application to set aside Zondo’s refusal to recuse himself.
“We have informed the commission that President Zuma will not be appearing on Monday,” Mabuza confirmed.
Zondo has not yet reacted to the announcement, which was widely expected.
“Commission cannot continue today,” the judicial panel tweeted shortly after its lunch break. “DCJ (Zondo) says he has just received news that somebody who works very close to him has tested positive for Covid-19.”
It was not immediately clear whether this would impact next week’s proceedings.
Zuma, who became president in 2009, was forced to resign in 2018 over graft scandals centred around an Indian business family, the Guptas — who won lucrative contracts with state companies and were allegedly even able to choose cabinet ministers.
He was succeeded by President Cyril Ramaphosa, who has vowed to confront the “scourge” of corruption.
The so-called state capture commission was established to hear testimony from ministers, ex-ministers, government officials and business executives on alleged corruption under Zuma’s tenure.
So far at least 30 witnesses have directly and indirectly implicated the former leader.
In the latest summons, he had been called to testify from January 18 to 22 and again from February 15 to 19.
Zuma is also facing trial for allegedly receiving bribes in a multi-billion rand arms deal in 1999, when he was deputy president.
That trial is now scheduled to resume in February after postponements.
Rooney has not played a game himself since his caretaker appointment and has indeed now played his last game of professional football.
Derby County have appointed Wayne Rooney as manager on a permanent basis following a positive run of results since he took over as interim boss in November.
His move into full-time management also brings an end to a glittering playing career that began in 2002.
Rooney, who initially joined the Rams as a player-coach in January 2020, has been handed a two-and-a-half year contract until the end of the 2022/23 season.
His immediate task will be to steer Derby away from the Championship relegation zone, having already seen an upturn in results since he took temporary charge.
Rooney, now 35, was appointed head of the interim coaching team when Philipp Cocu was sacked and has since seen Derby win three, draw four and lose only twice.
The Rams have trebled their points tally since Rooney took solo charge and briefly moved out of the relegation zone.
Steve McClaren will continue his role as technical director, while coaches Liam Rosenior, Shay Given and Justin Walker will also stay on. Rosenior will be assistant manager.
“When I first arrived back in the United Kingdom I was completely blown away by the potential of Derby County Football Club.
The stadium, training ground, the quality of the playing staff and the young players coming through and of course the fan base that has remained loyal and supportive,” a grateful Rooney told NoRM‘s known Media.
“Despite other offers I knew instinctively Derby County was the place for me,” he added.
“To be given the opportunity to follow the likes of Brian Clough, Jim Smith, Frank Lampard and Phillip Cocu is such an honour and I can promise everyone in involved in the club and all our fans, my staff and I will leave no stone unturned in achieving the potential I have witnessed over the last 12 months of this historic football club.”
But Rashford is also adamant that United do not go out looking for penalties or are awarded more than they deserve.
Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford has revealed that former manager Jose Mourinho taught him to be ‘more savvy’ in the penalty area so that he is more likely to win a penalty if he is fouled by giving the referee no doubt
A player who tries to stay on their feet when fouled in the box can end up disadvantaged and not getting the decision because a foul is not always as clear.
“When you are making runs in behind or dribbling with the ball and if you see a challenge coming, you don’t want to get tackled because you are looking at an opportunity to score a goal,” he said on Thursday night as he accepted the Football Writers’ Association 2021 Tribute Award.
“There is no way you are going to let somebody take the ball off you, so for me it is a case of us wanting to score goals and the teams wanting to defend goals and penalties can happen. There have been times when we have probably not got penalties.
“When Jose [Mourinho] was manager, there were five or six times where I should have had a penalty and Jose ended up saying to me, ‘If you are not savvy about the way you do it, then you are not going to [get] it.’ After that, we started to get a few penalties.
“It was something, in terms of development, you have to learn and understand.”
Jurgen Klopp recently made a pointed jibe that United have had more penalties since 2018 than Liverpool have had in his entire time at the club.
That is true, but this season alone United have had only one more in the Premier League and both have scored five.
It is actually Leicester that have been awarded far more than anyone else – 10 so far, scoring eight.
Liverpool have also benefitted more from penalties, taken seven additional points as a direct result of scoring from the spot. United over the same period have taken six additional points.
United have also completed a clean sweep of player and manager of the month awards in the WSL, with Leah Galton and Casey Stoney respectively recognised.
Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes has been named Premier League Player of the Month for December for his performances that helped fire his team up the table.
It is the second month in a row in which Fernandes has scooped the individual prize, while he has also made history as the first player ever to win four times in a single calendar year following previous wins for February and June, as well as obviously November.
“Three goals and four assists was a complete month. Scoring and assisting your team-mates is perfect. I want to achieve other trophies and awards but I’m really happy to make history,” the Portugal international told the Premier League’s official website.
Initially rested, Fernandes was brought on at half-time in United’s opening game in December and helped the team pull off a 3-1 comeback win after trailing.
He later got two goals and an assist in a 6-2 thrashing of Leeds in the club’s final game before Christmas, a goal and assist in a 2-2 draw with Leicester on Boxing Day, plus another assist in a 1-0 win over Wolves to end the month and the calendar year.
As a team, United rose from seventh at the end of November to second by the end of December. Now, that momentum has continued into January and they are top of the table.
This weekend, Fernandes and United face second place Liverpool at Anfield in what will now be the biggest game of the 2020/21 season so far.
“It’s a long way before we can start talking about being champions. We have to keep working. We play against one of the best teams in England and we know what it means to the fans. But the main point is the same: three points,” Fernandes explained.
It is the second month in a row the league leaders have received both awards, with Tobin Heath previously winning for November.
The club are currently trying to extend the contract of some of their key players, including Ibrahimovic and goalkeeper Donnarumma, whose deals expire at the end of the current season.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic says he will decide on his future towards the end of the season and has declared AC Milan teammate Gianluigi Donnarumma as the best goalkeeper in the world.
The duo have been key parts of the Rossoneri’s squad which has taken Serie A by storm this season, topping the table with 40 points from 17 games putting them three points clear of city rivals Inter.
Ibrahimovic’s return to Milan at the start of 2020 triggered something in the side as they have gone on a tremendous run of form, with the 39-year-old earning plenty of praise for his performances.
Zlatan says he will decide his future towards the end of the campaign, while heaping praise on the Italian goalkeeper.
“He is the best goalkeeper in the world, but I never tell him. He must continue to have ambition, but it’s not normal that he’s never played in the Champions League,” Ibrahimovic told Il Corriere dello Sport, via Football Italia.
“I’ll continue playing as long as I feel well. Then we’ll see, we’ll talk about my contract. I didn’t want to put myself in a trap with no way out, that’s why I initially signed a six-month contract which I renewed afterwards. Others made different choices.”
Donnarumma has played over 225 times for Milan since making his debut for the club aged just 16 in 2015.
He is the Italy number one, taking over from the legendary Gianluigi Buffon but at the age of just 21 years old, he is yet to appear in the Champions League.
He has been linked with a move to Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain in the summer on a free transfer, but with Milan’s current performance there is growing confidence that they could convince him to re-sign.
Ibrahimovic is currently Milan’s top goalscorer this season with ten goals, despite missing a portion of the season following a positive COVID-19 test and a knee injury that kept him out for a month.
Therefore, it seemed likely that the 28-year-old would be allowed to walk away from Old Trafford this month.
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will block a January exit for midfielder Jesse Lingard as he believes the Englishman can still play a role at the club this season.
Lingard is yet to play a single minute in either the Premier League or Champions League this year and instead has been forced to settle for just three appearances across the domestic cups.
There has been plenty of interest in Lingard’s services. The likes of Sheffield United, Newcastle and Real Sociedad have all been linked, and Sky Sports News have thrown Ligue 1’s Nice into the mix as well.
However, The Telegraph specifically reject the idea of contact with Nice and instead insist that Solskjaer is not keen on pushing Lingard out the exit door this month.
It’s said that Solskjaer still sees value in Lingard as a squad player – someone to plug the holes when the first-team players need a rest or are unavailable – so he does not want to let the midfielder leave the club just yet.
Once this season comes to a close, Lingard will be encouraged to explore other options. He will enter the final year of his contract and United have already used their extension clause to stop him walking away for free this summer.
Instead of offloading Lingard, United will put their focus in clearing out other unwanted players. Timothy Fosu-Mensah has already sealed a permanent move to Bayer Leverkusen, and there are a number of fringe players who could follow suit.
United hope to sell defender Marcos Rojo and goalkeeper Sergio Romero, with the desire to sell Rojo particularly strong as his contract expires at the end of the season. Romero’s is also scheduled to expire this summer, but United have a one-year extension clause to trigger if they want.
Centre-back Phil Jones is also on the market, although United are aware that his £100,000-a-week wages may make a January move impossible and will even harm his hopes of leaving next summer.
The Red Devils may also be waiting until the summer to find permanent buyers for Diogo Dalot and Andreas Pereira, who are currently on loan with AC Milan and Lazio respectively.
Neither are expected to return to Old Trafford, and the hope is that the pair can entice some offers over the next six months.
There’s a lot of uncertainty concerning outgoings at United, but one thing which is certain is that striker Odion Ighalo, who has just nine Premier League minutes to his name this year, will leave the club once his loan expires on January 31.
There was silence when the president’s name was read out.
Ugandans have voted under heavy security and an internet blackout in an election pitting veteran leader Yoweri Museveni against a former popstar Bobi Wine after one of the bloodiest campaigns in years.
Voting in Kampala took place under heavy military and police presence on Thursday, with no reports of violent incidents making their way through the communications shutdown.
Vote-count is under way after polling stations closed as people turned out in droves to make their mark in an historic, hotly contested election in which Museveni’s reign is said to be strongly tested.
Long lines of voters snaked out of polling stations in the capital, a stronghold for an opposition galvanised by Bobi Wine despite a campaign scarred by deadly crackdowns.
There are 17.7 million registered voters and results are expected within 48 hours. Turnout looked robust, based on footage from polling stations broadcast by private TV channels.
After polls closed at 4pm local time, hundreds of Bobi Wine supporters in Kampala returned to their polling stations to heed his call to “protect the vote” by watching the count.
At the station where Bobi Wine voted, security forces chased his supporters away.
He took to Twitter shortly after voting was finished to announce his and his wife’s phone was blocked.
“I know this is to stop me from communicating to our agents and coordinators,” he added, asking his supporters to be vigilant.
Reporting from Kampala and quoting the chairman of the electoral commission, NoRM said the election process had largely been smooth.
“He said there were a few hiccups here and there delaying the delivery of the voting materials in some polling stations, identification kits in some stations failed, but all that was sorted,” she added.
“Voting at a few polling stations did not take place and will do so tomorrow.”
‘Staying to watch’ At three polling stations the Reuters news agency visited during counting, cheers rose up from throngs of young people every time an election agent raised a ballot cast for Bobi Wine.
“I know Museveni always rigs to stay in power. This time we are staying to watch each step of the process,” said Sam Ndaula, 26, a roadside vendor.
On Thursday, police arrested about 30 people at the Hotel Africana in Kampala on allegations they were creating an illegal parallel tallying centre, a police official at the scene, who declined to be named, told Reuters.
Museveni is still held in high regard by older Ugandans who remember the relative stability and security that he returned to the country.
“These young people, they want change, but they don’t know what Museveni did for us,” said 58-year-old Faith Florence Nakalembe.
But her children, also standing in line in Kamwokya to vote, desperately want change.
“For 23 years, I have never seen a different president. I want someone else,” said her son, 23-year-old student Saad Mukoone, who was throwing his vote behind Bobi Wine.
Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, says his administration guarantees stability and progress, including much-needed hydropower dams and roads.
A late ball is pinged into the box as Newcastle search for a dramatic equaliser. The ball ricochets of Eric Dier’s arm in the box and he’s penalised. Callum Wilson scores the spot kick. Two points dropped.
Fabian Bulbuena heads in, Davinson Sanchez heads past Hugo Lloris, and Manuel Lanzini sends a scorcher in off the woodwork. A 3-3 draw with West Ham. Two points dropped.
Tottenham sit off and off and off at Crystal Palace, eventually resulting in Jeffrey Schlupp scrambling in an equaliser at Selhurst Park. Two points dropped.
We could go on, and we will.
Roberto Firmino, Romain Saiss and Ivan Cavaleiro have also all scored late goals against Tottenham during the last month or so in games Jose Mourinho’s side either could or should have taken points from. That bunch and their goals took another five points off Spurs.
So, that’s 11 points in total Tottenham have let slip in the last 15 minutes in league games this season. Y’know where they would be in the Premier League had they held on in those matches? First, five points clear of Manchester United, just two games before the halfway point of the season.
Spurs make their fans feel sick numerous times during each campaign, and there are always moments of ‘what if?’, but this term it’s hitting particularly harder. To see the same performance and result time and time again this season is now bordering on infuriating, because it’s clear lessons are not being learned.
Following the 3-3 draw with West Ham, there was a clear switch to a stubborn, deep pattern of play. Tottenham had blown Southampton and Manchester United away in 5-2 and 6-1 victories respectively, highlighting the attacking force in their ranks. We’ve all seen the Harry Kane and Son Heung-min statistics and know what they can do when given free rein.
But while there were initially wins that took Spurs to the top of the Premier League, there have since been moments of predictable downfall.
During the 1-1 draw with Fulham, as Tottenham dropped deeper and deeper, there was no ignoring that nagging thought in the mind or the swirling feeling in the gut. That feeling was guided by what we’d seen before rather than the trademark pessimism the fan base owns and is renowned for.
The Cottagers grew in confidence with the more possession they enjoyed, and one moment of quality at the expense of Sanchez and Dier – one getting skinned out wide and the other losing an aerial battle – was enough to render the effort in sh*thousing an opponent meaningless.
It must be knackering for the players, as it’s certainly tiring viewing for those at home.
Since the 3-3 West Ham draw, Tottenham have scored three goals in a league game just once, that being the simple victory over Leeds. They give themselves a brief period to score in the first half of games and look to shut up shop in the second.
The problem with that is it panders to the side’s weaknesses rather than their strengths.
Is it more sensible to give Kane and Son every chance to express themselves and contribute even more than they already have this season, or rely on Dier and Sanchez to close out a 1-0 win with tonnes of pressure piled on them late on? It’s not really a contest, is it?
Mourinho hinted that the defeat involved problems with ‘individual skills, individual ability’, and he may be right. Neither of the centre back duo would be touted as among the Premier League’s best central defenders right now, even if there’s a dearth of quality options to choose from, but they’re not being given a fair chance with the style of play currently employed.
Fulham were good on Wednesday evening and deserved their point – hell, they could have nicked all three with some more precision in attack – but Tottenham need to be winning at home against teams in the relegation zone. They have to give their creative players more chances in possession and not sit off and allow themselves to be battered while defending. It’s not their strength.
Albert Einstein once said – or may not have, according to history nerds – that ‘the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’. Yet numerous times this season we’ve seen Tottenham put in the same performance, and it continues to halt any suggestion of a title push.
It’s time for a change in style, before they slip any further down the table. The gap to United can still be reduced to three points with a win at Sheffield United on Sunday, before the Red Devils’ trip to Liverpool.
Fingers crossed that Bramall Lane encounter doesn’t end in a 1-1 draw.
Garlick will work alongside Edu in the operations team at Arsenal, where he will be responsible for negotiating player contracts and dealing with agents.
Premier League director of football Richard Garlick is poised to leave his position in 2021 in order to take up the role of director of football operations at Arsenal.
The Gunners are in need of a new director of football following the departure of Huss Fahmy in November in a mass behind the scenes restructuring program.
Fahmy had been in the role since 2017, having previously worked at Team Sky, and was instrumental in bringing Mikel Arteta back to the club as manager in 2019.
According to the The Athletic, Garlick will take up the vacant position at the Emirates later in 2021, departing his role at the Premier League having been in the post since 2018. He is currently responsible for football operations, youth and coaching criteria and young player education.
A qualified solicitor, Garlick has a history of working in an administerial position at club football level, having previously held the role of director of football administration at West Brom prior to joining the Premier League.
This will take some of the responsibility off the shoulders of Edu, who has been balancing a selection of negotiating duties following the departure of Fahmy.
However, Garlick will not be in his new post in time to deal with any incomings and outgoings at the Emirates during the January transfer window.
Arsenal currently sit 11th in the Premier League having put a run of three straight wins together after an underwhelming start to the season.
The Gunners are nine points off the Champions League spots and 11 points off the drop zone, and face back-to-back home games over the course of the next seven days with the visits of Crystal Palace and Newcastle.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday that the Senate would not take action until after Biden is sworn in, however.
The US House of Representatives has impeached President Donald Trump for “incitement of insurrection” after a mob of his supporters stormed the United States Capitol last week, marking the first time in US history that a president has been impeached twice.
The House resolution, which passed by a vote of 232-197 on Wednesday afternoon, states that Trump’s actions and remarks ahead of the storming of the Capitol building in Washington, DC incited the rioters.
“Today, in a bipartisan way, the House demonstrated that no one is above the law – not even the President of the United States,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as she signed the article of impeachment after the vote.
The measure, Pelosi said, also makes clear “that Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to our country”.
Ten Republicans joined 222 Democrats in voting to impeach Trump, making the vote a bipartisan rebuke of the president’s attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
The riot at the Capitol on January 6 left five people dead and sent shockwaves across the US and the world, spurring Democratic Party legislators to launch an impeachment push against Trump in his final days in the White House.
The Capitol was stormed after Trump delivered an inflammatory speech to a crowd of his supporters that had gathered in protest against Congress’ certification of US President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory.
Trump ‘unequivocally’ condemns violence The impeachment article states that in the months before January 6, Trump repeated false claims of widespread election fraud and said the results should not be accepted.
He also “willfully made statements that, in context, encouraged – and foreseeably resulted in – lawless action at the Capitol, such as: ‘if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country any more,’” the article states.
Trump did not immediately comment on his impeachment.
But in a video posted on the White House Twitter account on Wednesday evening, he condemned the attack on the Capitol and said there was no excuse for violence.
“I want to be very clear, I unequivocally condemn the violence that we saw last week. Violence and vandalism have absolutely no place in our country and no place in our movement,” Trump said.
The president had remained defiant on Tuesday, rejecting Democrats’ impeachment effort as dangerous and “a continuation of the greatest and most vicious witch hunt in the history of our country”.
Senate trial The House named managers to prosecute the charge of insurrection against Trump in a Senate trial, which is not expected to begin until after Biden’s inauguration.
That is when Democrats are poised to take control of the Senate. At least two Senate Republicans have already called on Trump to step down, and a third has said they would consider voting for impeachment.
“Make no mistake, there will be an impeachment trial in the United States Senate,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement after the House vote.
“There will be a vote on convicting the president for high crimes and misdemeanors. And if the president is convicted, there will be a vote on barring him from running again,” Schumer said.
“It will best serve our nation if Congress and the executive branch spend the next seven days completely focused on facilitating a safe inauguration and an orderly transfer of power to the incoming Biden administration,” McConnell said.
While some Republicans have sought to distance themselves from Trump over the past few days and asked him to step down, many still defended him on Wednesday by calling the impeachment process unnecessary at a time when the US needs to heal.
“In seven days, there will be a peaceful transfer of power just like there has been every other time in our country, but Democrats are gonna impeach President Trump again. This doesn’t unite the country,” Republican Congressman Jim Jordan said.
Calls for accountability But Democrats said healing cannot begin without accountability for the attack on the Capitol.
“The constitutional crimes inspired by an out-of-control president, inspired by his hatred and the big lie that he told cannot be ignored,” said Democrat Hakeem Jeffries during the debate on Wednesday.
Speaking to NoRM‘s known Media after the vote, Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar said “to the American people and to the world it is clear why we had to make sure that [Trump’s] actions had consequences”.
She described his impeachment as an “act of accountability” that would create a pathway towards justice and unity in the US.
“This is a president who has not only been a threat to our democracy, our government – but he’s been a president who has used rhetoric to divide our nation. And once we are able to remove him we can start the process of healing,” Omar said.
Eight were launched by Armenian forces on towns and villages in Azerbaijan, killing 72 civilians, the rights group said.
Azerbaijan and Armenia violated international humanitarian law in recent fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh, Amnesty International has said, as the rights group accused both sides of indiscriminately killing civilians.
In a report published on Thursday, it said there was “clear evidence” Armenian and Azeri troops had repeatedly attacked residential areas far from the front lines in last year’s six-week-long conflict, noting weapons including cluster munitions were used.
Because of the amount of harm they can cause, more than 100 countries have banned cluster munitions, although Armenia and Azerbaijan have not.
Azerbaijan says at least 94 civilians and more than 2,800 soldiers were killed in the clashes, while Armenia says at least 60 civilians and 2,400 soldiers lost their lives.
Amnesty put the civilian death toll at 146 overall, as it called on both countries to investigate the use of “notoriously inaccurate and indiscriminate weapons”.
Armenian forces used inaccurate ballistic missiles, unguided multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS), and artillery, while Azerbaijan’s deployed unguided artillery and MLRS, the rights group said following on-ground investigations.
“By using these imprecise and deadly weapons in the vicinity of civilian areas, Armenian and Azerbaijani forces violated the laws of war and showed disregard for human life,” said Marie Struthers, Amnesty’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia director.
“Civilians were killed, families were torn apart and countless homes were destroyed. Attacks were repeatedly carried out on civilian residential areas far from front lines, and where there often did not appear to be any military targets in the vicinity.”
Amnesty said civilian casualties would “almost certainly” have been higher had people remained in the affected areas.
In Stepanakert, a central city in Nagorno-Karabakh, ethnic Armenians either fled the fighting by travelling to Armenia or went underground into bunkers for shelter.
When Azerbaijanis were targeted in civilian areas, many left their towns for safer regions.
“The Armenian and Azerbaijani authorities must launch immediate, impartial investigations into their forces’ relentless and often reckless use of heavy explosive weapons in populated civilian areas,” Struthers said.
“As the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders begin to work out security arrangements it’s crucial that those responsible for these violations are swiftly held to account and that the victims get reparations.”
But as is often the case with the two rivals, both sides denied the other’s claims of indiscriminate attacks in civilian areas during the fighting, which was brought to an end in November with a Russian-brokered peace deal.
Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces and self-appointed Armenian officials, backed by Armenia since a war in the mountainous region led to a ceasefire in 1994. That war claimed thousands of lives.
‘Our family was destroyed’ Amnesty’s researchers documented 18 attacks by Armenian and Azerbaijan forces which “unlawfully killed civilians” while visiting dozens of sites in the region.
In one attack on September 27, the day the clashes broke out, Armenian forces killed five members of the Gurbanov family and partially destroyed their house in Gashalti, near the Azerbaijani city of Naftalan, according to Amnesty’s report.
“Our family was destroyed. We had started to renovate the house before the war, now we can’t bear to be here any more,” Bakhtiar Gurbanov, who lost his parents, sister-in-law, nephew and niece, told Amnesty.
Azeri troops were meanwhile accused of nine attacks on towns and villages in Nagorno-Karabakh, in addition to one in Armenia, killing 11 civilians.
In a separate incident on September 27, Amnesty said Azeri forces carried out 12 attacks in four minutes in Martuni, in Nagorno-Karabakh, mortally wounding an eight-year-old girl, Victoria Gevorgyan.
“Victoria was our little angel. She is gone … My little boy now still wakes up saying that there are planes in the sky bombing,” Anahit Gevorgyan, Victoria’s mother, told Amnesty.
After hostilities flared up again in September, the Azerbaijani military pushed into the region and surrounding areas with heavy artillery and drones.
Moscow-mediated the truce to stop the bloodshed; the ceasefire locked in territorial gains for Azerbaijan.
Under the agreement, Russia has deployed about 2,000 peacekeepers to Nagorno-Karabakh for at least five years.
As a result, the Premier League Board has agreed to Aston Villa’s request to postpone the match on Sunday
The Premier League clash between Aston Villa and Everton on Sunday 17 January has been postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak in the Villa camp.
Villa’s Bodymoor Heath training ground was closed on Thursday 7 January following a number of positive tests among the Villans first team.
Dean Smith’s side were forced to field a starting XI of debutants from their Under-23 and Under-18 sides for the FA Cup third round clash with Liverpool the following day.
Their Premier League fixture against Tottenham that had been scheduled for Wednesday 13 January was postponed as a result of the outbreak, and the Premier League confirmed that Sunday’s clash has been too.
“Aston Villa’s home match against Everton, scheduled to be played on Sunday 17 January at 12pm, has been postponed by the Premier League Board,” the statement released by the Premier League read.
“Following the rescheduling of Villa’s game against Tottenham Hotspur, which was due to be played last night, a significant number of players and staff remain in isolation.
“Newcastle United’s postponed match at Aston Villa, which was due to be played on 4 December 2020, has been rescheduled and will now be played on Saturday 23 January at 8pm, live on Sky Sports.
“The Premier League, in consultation with its clubs, has enhanced its COVID-19 protocols, in addition to reimplementing a twice-weekly testing programme as the heath of players and staff remains the priority.
“The protocols, which strengthen key elements of the existing guidance, came into immediate effect last week.”
Public Health England guidelines state that individuals who have tested positive for Covid or anyone who has come into contact with someone who has tested positive must self-isolate for 10 days.
Nine Aston Villa first team players and five staff members tested positive – meaning the earliest the Villa squad can come out of isolation is Sunday 17 January.
Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho was left hugely frustrated after seeing his side held to a 1-1 draw by Fulham and miss the chance to climb up to third in the Premier League.
Spurs took the lead midway through the first half as Harry Kane headed home a wonderful cross from Sergio Reguilon, but some sloppy finishing (and a fantastic showing from Fulham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola) kept the visitors alive.
Spurs’ profligacy was punished late on as Ivan Cavaleiro responded with a header of his own, and Mourinho was left to field questions about Spurs’ failure to push on and see off yet another opponent.
“Not good enough, but good enough to win,” Mourinho said of Spurs’ performance (via football.london).
“Not good enough because I think we have to play better in a more consistent way, but good enough to create four or five big chances, good enough to give Hugo in a very quiet evening. Good enough to win the game but not good enough because we have to play better than we did.
“I understand that in the first half we had chances to kill the game. Some of them are Areola’s responsibility. In the second half we had the biggest chance to kill the game but when you don’t do it you cannot concede goals the way we did do it.
“This is the same story basically since the beginning of the season. We can talk about not killing the game yes, we can speak about that, and today was a clear situation where we could and should have killed the game in the first half but then you go back to the goals that we concede and it’s not also easy to assimilate that.
“I think there are things [to do with the goals Spurs have conceded] that have to be with the characteristics of players. There are things that are difficult too. There are some things they have to do with organisation of the team, but other things they have to do with individual skills, individual ability, and its as simple as that.”
It was a performance which also left midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg frustrated, with the Dane questioning Spurs’ lack of bravery yet again.
“Very disappointing,” said Hojbjerg (via the Daily Mail). “We have to do better in a couple of aspects of the game. More bravery, more focus in terms of organising the team and being solid as a team.
“That doesn’t mean you have to stand in your own box and defend, it means the team is compact, the team is close to each other. I had a chance, I had to score. There are many details we have to do better.
“I’m happy there is a game in three days again so we can show a reaction, show we are better than this. We are ready to go again, and of course heads are high.
“There’s a long way to go. We’re still very ambitious. We’re still very solid and very hungry as a team. We’ll keep going.”
On Wednesday, Trump was impeached for a historic second time and seven days before the scheduled swearing-in of Joe Biden.
Biden praised the Nancy Pelosi-led house which was able to secure the support of 10 Republican lawmakers.
“Today, the members of the House of Representatives exercised the power granted to them under our Constitution and voted to impeach and hold the president accountable,” Biden said in a statement Wednesday.
The House voted 232 against 197, accusing President Trump of inciting the deadly violence at the Capitol that claimed some lives.
“It was a bipartisan vote cast by members who followed the Constitution and their conscience,” he added.
Despite this small blot on his record, Locatelli’s passing has come on leaps and bounds this season and a few years of Guardiola’s tutelage should be enough to get him up to scratch.
After nearly a decade of effortless success, Fernandinho’s Manchester City career is finally drawing to a close.
His contract is set to expire at the end of the campaign and even if he does pen fresh terms, one more season is likely all that City can ask of the 35-year-old.
Despite his declining involvement, he remains an important member of Pep Guardiola’s squad. His absence in midfield last season was harshly felt and it was telling that he recently started in the Manchester derby.
Replacing Fernandinho is not going to be an easy task. City have already tried it once, bringing in Rodri for over £60m two summers ago, but with the Spaniard looking increasingly like a different sort of player, they may be tempted to dip into the market once again.
Recent reports suggest that they are interested in Sassuolo’s Manuel Locatelli. Aged just 23, he has already been capped multiple times for Italy – but is he really what the Citizens are looking for? NoRM analysed all the relevant stats to find out.
At his peak during the 2017/2018 season, Fernandinho was unquestionably the best defensive midfielder in the world.
Operating as City’s deepest midfielder in their famous 4-3-3, he balanced the roles of playmaker, destructive ball winner and anchor man to devastating effect.
If City want to return to their peak, discovering a player capable of doing all of this is necessary. Therefore, we are looking for a midfielder who can not only excel defensively but also possesses significant playmaking ability and positional discipline.
Does Locatelli fit the bill? Let’s take a look…
Following in a rich tradition of Italian deep lying playmakers before him, Locatelli’s is a terrific passer of the ball.
Capable of breaking the lines with short and long passes, his playmaking ability has particularly stood out this season. During the 2019/2020 campaign, he averaged a progressive passing distance of 296.7 yards per 90 minutes, ranking him 155th in Serie A.
This term, his numbers have spiked dramatically. After 17 league games this season, he was averaging over 400 yards per 90, a figure eerily close to what Fernandinho posted during City’s Centurions campaign.
Locatelli makes 50+ yards switches to Sassuolo’s wide men look ludicrously easy and his ability to drill hard, low passes through the opponent’s midfield is also worth a mention. While he prefers to pluck away in deep positions, he is often involved in the final stages of the attack as well, racking up well over two shot creating actions per 90 after 17 league matches this season.
Of course, while Guardiola has somewhat surrendered his obsession for possession this season, playing in midfield for one of he teams will not always consist of Hollywood passes. In order to move the opposition out of shape, the Citizens’ deepest midfielder is often used as a bounce board for recycling possession.
This is an area that Locatelli may require some refinement in. Last season, he successfully received 95.5% of his passes. An impressive stat – until you realise Fernandinho has averaged closer to 98% when playing in midfield during his recent career. It may seem like a marginal difference but being sloppy in possession can have significant knock-on effects for a team like City.
Few players are capable of making defending look as sexy as Locatelli. His sliding tackles, in which he contorts his legs at near impossible angles, are a highlight, though his reading of the game is equally impressive.
After his first 16 Serie A games this season, he was leading the way for tackles + interceptions, registering 71 in total.
Even more impressive, especially for a centre-midfielder, is that he tackled 50% of the dribblers that unwisely choose to take him on during this period. Locatelli also featured in the top ten for blocks at the end of gameweek 17.
Like with his progressive passing stats, his defending has dramatically improved this season, providing further evidence of his exciting potential.
If he comes close to matching the same level of performance for the rest of the campaign, Locatelli will not only match Fernadinho’s 2017/2018 numbers, he will easily surpass them.
The only area in which there might be a few question marks is his defensive discipline. At times Locatelli plays like, well, a 23-year-old out to prove himself, storming into advanced positions to try and inspire his team to victory.
The fact that he is far better than the majority of his teammates partly explains this, however, to fill Fernandinho’s shoes he will need to be develop increased defensive discipline.
What else can Locatelli bring Manchester City? Manuel Locatelli.
While it may not suit him well to an anchor man role, one of Locatelli’s other strengths is driving forward using his pace and strength.
Not only is he strong physically, he also possesses a wide array of flicks and feints, as well as lightning fast feet, which allows him to evade opposition midfielders in close quarters. This box of tricks makes him a real handful for the opposition and it little surprise that only three out-and-out midfielders had carried the ball for more yards progressive yards than him after 17 Serie A games.
He has also displayed an appetite for an eye-catching goal during his career so far, most notably when he fired an unstoppable effort past Gianluigi Buffon aged just 18.
These two traits suggest that, as well as being well primed to step into the void left by Fernandinho, Locatelli may also excel in a more advanced role at the Etihad Stadium. This makes snapping him for a reported £30m a complete no brainer for Guardiola’s side.