Congo’s Martin Fayulu declares himself president, top court sides with Felix Tshisekedi; The runner-up in the presidential election in DR Congo, Martin Fayulu, had said he was the real winner in the contest and called for protests. But a high court ruling said the challenge was “unfounded.” The Constitutional Court of the Democratic Republic of Congo rejected a challenge to last month’s presidential election results. The high court said early Sunday that runner-up Martin Fayulu’s challenge to Felix Tshisekedi’s win was “inadmissible.” In the verdict, the court also rejected a request to carry out a recount and declared Tshisekedi “President of the Democratic Republic of Congo by simple majority.”The ruling comes shortly after the African Union had asked Congo to delay announcing the final election results, casting “serious doubts” about the vote. On January 10, DR Congo’s Electoral Commission said Tshisekedi had provisionally won with 38.57 percent of the vote against Fayulu’s 34.8 percent.
Northern Ireland: Suspected car bomb explodes in Londonderry; Northern Irish police posted a picture of what appeared to be a burning car in front of a courthouse. Irish politicians have condemned what they called a terrorist attack. No one was injured by the explosion. A suspected car bomb exploded in the Northern Irish city of Londonderry late on Saturday, police have said. “As far as we know no one injured,” police wrote on Facebook. A photo posted by the police’s Twitter account showed what appeared to be a car in flames outside of a courthouse near the city center.
Angela Merkel sees Germany-France as drivers of European unity; With Brexit looming on the horizon and populist parties calling for further EU exits, European unity has been shaken. In a video message, Merkel explained why she thinks a new friendship treaty with Paris will help. German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed the importance and significance of German-French ties in a video message posted on Saturday. After centuries of war between the two countries, the friendship that now exists between Berlin and Paris was “anything but self-evident,” she said. Her remarks come just days before she and French President Emmanuel Macron are due to sign a new friendship treaty in the city of Aachen.
US airstrike in Somalia kills 52 Al Shabaab extremists, military says; According to the statement, the airstrike was “in response to an attack by a large group of Al Shabaab militants against Somali National Army Forces” near Jilib, 370 km southwest of Somalian capital Mogadishu. “We currently assess this airstrike killed fifty-two militants,” read the statement. Military officials from this East-African country and local elders said heavily-armed Al Shabaab militants had launched a dawn raid on a military camp on Saturday morning, followed by a heavy exchange of gunfire which lasted hours. “The terrorists attacked Bulogagdud military base using heavy weaponry and explosives. The Somali military and Jubaland forces resisted the enemy before later retreating back from the base,” Mohamed Abdikarin, a Somali military official told AFP by phone.
Lebanon urges Arab League to readmit Syria ahead of regional summit; The Arab Economic and Social Development Summit, or AESD, is being held in Lebanon for the first time amid sharp divisions in the country and among Arab countries.
Syria was not invited despite demands by allies of Damascus in Lebanon. “Syria is the most notable absentee at our conference, and we feel the weight of its absence,” Gibran Bassil said.
Toyota, Panasonic to set up EV battery company; apanese firms Toyota Motor and Panasonic plan to set up a joint venture to make batteries for electric vehicles, or EVs. They want to increase their production capacity and competitive edge as EVs become more popular. The two companies have been holding talks since 2017 on how to work together in the field of EV batteries, which are key to extending the range of the vehicles. Toyota will own 51 percent of the firm. Panasonic will hold the rest of the company’s stock. The joint venture will be formally established next year at the earliest. Panasonic will shift most of its battery production facilities in Japan and China to the new firm. A plant in Nevada that it operates with US electric vehicle maker Tesla will not be involved. Toyota hopes that by around 2030 it will sell 5.5 million electric vehicles a year, or half its total projected sales. News of the planned joint venture comes as Chinese companies increase their battery production. Toyota and Panasonic are also working together to develop next-generation all solid-state batteries.
Ministers speak after TPP meeting; Ministers of the 11-member Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement held a news conference after their first meeting in Tokyo. Canada’s Minister of International Trade Diversification, Jim Carr, said his country has become the first G7 nation to sign free trade agreements with all the other members. He said free trade agreements build bridges that are “crossed by investment, goods and services” which “produce growth, wealth and jobs.” Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry, Chan Chun Sing, said he was encouraged that all the members were united, despite many facing protectionist pressure. He said the members are committed to seeing the rules evolve to suit the times, and that it is in their common interest to embrace more countries within the agreement. Of the 4 countries that have yet to ratify the deal, the representatives from Peru and Chile said they hope to complete the process within a few months while the representative from Brunei said it would be as soon as possible. Malaysia’s administration led by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad who took office last May is showing caution toward the TPP. The country’s representative said in the news conference that the country is still evaluating the trade pact.