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  • Chesnot/Getty Images(CAPE TOWN, South Africa) -- South African President Jacob Zuma is refusing to resign after being recalled by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) on Tuesday amid allegations of fraud and misuse of taxpayer funds.If parliament votes against him in a motion of "no confidence" set for Thursday, the embattled president said, "I will be out."Zuma's comment in a live interview on state broadcaster SABC suggested that he will not obey the ruling party's order to leave office by the end of Wednesday.The ANC said it will move to oust Zuma in the parliamentary vote of "no confidence" if he does not resign voluntarily.Zuma told the SABC that he disagrees with his party’s efforts to remove him and claimed that he has been "victimized." He has said he is willing to resign, but wanted to stay in office for a few more months.He said he plans to make a statement later.The ANC recalled Zuma on Tuesday, but did not give him a firm deadline. On Wednesday, Paul Mashatile, the party’s treasurer general, clarified that he has to leave office or face a motion of "no confidence" in parliament on Thursday.The ANC parliamentary caucus met earlier Wednesday and agreed to table a motion of "no confidence" against Zuma on Thursday. Mashatile addressed the group."I have now reported to the caucus that the [National Executive Committee of ANC] has decided to recall President Zuma and the deadline [for Zuma to resign] is today," Mashatile told journalists after addressing the caucus in Parliament."We have now asked the chief whip to proceed with the motion of 'no confidence' tomorrow," he continued, "so that President Zuma is then removed, so that we can then proceed to elect President [Cyril] Ramaphosa."The ANC has applied for an amendment of an opposition party’s motion of "no confidence," which effectively means that the party will now "own" the motion.The party's chief whip, Jackson Mthembu, added that the ANC hoped to elect party leader Cyril Ramaphosa as president of the country on Thursday after the "no confidence" vote or on Friday.Zuma stands accused of more than 780 charges of fraud, money laundering and racketeering related to an arms-deal scandal. Although he has consistently denied these charges, prosecutors are gearing up to reinstate them. The beleaguered president was also found by the highest court in South Africa to have failed in his duty to uphold, defend and respect the country’s constitution after improvements to his private homestead were made with taxpayers’ money.Mashatile said the issues did not come up during the caucus meeting.According to the ANC, the State of the Nation Address (SONA), which was postponed indefinitely last week, could take place on Feb. 16, the debate on the SONA on Feb. 19 and the budget speech will go ahead as planned on Feb. 21.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(PYEONGCHANG, South Korea) -- South Korea approved $2.64 million from the government to foot the bill for North Korea’s participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics on Wednesday, according to the Unification Ministry.The South and North Exchange and Cooperation Promotion Council approved the funds that will cover costs spent on tickets to the Olympic Games, accommodations, food and transportation.Eligible beneficiaries include the 424 North Koreans comprising its cheering squad, taekwondo performers, orchestra and journalists.The final number for the total payment will be released after the games.For the two visits by North Korea’s site survey inspectors last month before the Olympics, an additional $27,000 had been approved and spent to cover the expenses.Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said the North Korean delegation's participation “in various forms is serving as a pretty good opportunity” to achieve “Seoul's goal to hold an Olympics of peace and becoming an important chance for harmony that improves the inter-Korean relationship and opens up the door for peace on the Korean Peninsula.”He also stressed that South Korea has kept United Nations sanctions and other international restrictions as it hosts the North Korean members.The arrangement was part of the deal struck between North and South Korea to promote inter-Korean cooperation last month after South Korean President Moon Jae-in had invited the North to the Olympics in an attempt to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.The funds approved Wednesday do not include costs for hosting the high-level delegation, including North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s younger sister Kim Yo Jong and its ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong Nam. Still, those expenses will be paid by the South and North Talks funds, a different department within the same Unification Ministry.The International Olympics Committee will bankroll expenses for the 22 North Korean athletes competing in Pyeongchang.Additional expenses are expected to occur due to the 150-person North Korean delegation that will be sent to the Paralympic Winter Games next month. Those costs will be handled by the Unification Ministry in the near future.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Woohae Cho/Getty Images(PYEONGCHANG, South Korea) -- North Korea's taekwondo team finished its four-show tour in South Korea on Wednesday. In each display, performers from both nations jointly demonstrated skills that led Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon to call them a "sensation."The team from North Korea performed before the Olympic opening ceremony in Pyeongchang, later at a career and education center also in Gangwon Province and then twice in Seoul. Each time, the North Koreans shared the stage with their South Korean counterparts for part of the hourlong show that otherwise let each team showcase its talents separately."The joint taekwondo performance is creating a sensation and sending a message of hope -- not only in the Korean peninsula, but also worldwide," Park Won-soon told local newspaper Segye Ilbo after watching a performance on Monday.The North Korean taekwondo performers arrived Feb. 7 along with that nation's Olympic committee officials, cheerleaders, art troupes and media representatives. They stayed at a hotel in Inje, about 90 miles from Seoul. They are expected to return home on Thursday.The elaborate martial arts performances, which at times received less media attention than those of the cheerleaders and artists, included smashing wood and impressive self-defense techniques, the final display of which concluded at Munwha Broadcasting Corp.'s concert hall.Sharing performance time with neighbors with whom they share a border was widely considered a hint toward an improving relationship between the two nations.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Pingtung County(PINGTUNG COUNTY, Taiwan) -- Pingtung County Mayor Pan Men-an probably doesn't get 30,000 views on every video he posts to Facebook -- but he did for one featuring a newlywed couple celebrating a brand-new regional landmark.On the eve of Valentine's Day, the stick figure normally seen on a pedestrian walking signal was joined by a female companion. This was "a first in Taiwan," the mayor said.Pingtung County, a southern county with a population of about 840,000 and known for tourism, unveiled the new signal in time for the holiday, and there will be 25 installed before the Lunar New Year, the mayor told Taiwan News, a local English-language website.For 18 years, the signals featured just a man, but now he walks with a woman and drops to a knee to propose as the light goes red.On his Facebook page, the mayor wrote, "We hope everybody smiles, no longer bored, while waiting for the red lights."Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(PYEONGYANG, South Korea) -- Athletes from both Koreas on Friday marched into the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics under a shared unification flag as host President Moon Jae-in of South Korea; the North’s ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong-nam; and leader Kim Jong Un’s influential younger sister overcame a plethora of obstacles to stand together in the VIP box at the main stadium.The historical moment resulted from tense negotiations among the two Koreas, United States and the United Nations in a remarkably short period of just a little over a month.South Korea’s efforts to facilitate the North’s participation in the Olympic Games have been a tough one, given the sanctions at every turn. Indeed, they were not even sure North Korea’s high-level delegation would be able to attend until early Friday morning when a U.N. committee finally lifted sanctions against North Koreans temporarily.The exemption directly applies to Choe Hwi, who has been slapped with restrictions on travel and an asset freeze since last June. Choe is identified on the U.N. sanctions list as "First Vice Director of the Workers' Party of Korea Propaganda and Agitation Department,” which controls all Democratic People's Republic of Korea media and is used by the government to control the public, according to official reports.Sanctions also ban North Koreans from taking home luxury goods, because importing such items into the North is strictly banned by the U.N. Security Council’s sanctions committee on North Korea. So North Koreans could not receive the Samsung cellphones distributed to all athletes and International Olympic Committee officials at the Olympics.South Korea’s Pyeongchang Organizing Committee had sought an exemption for the phones, offering the Galaxy Note 8 phones to the North Koreans after an endorsement by the International Olympic Committee, but only if the phones were returned after the games. Galaxy Note 8 Samsung phones sell for about $1,000 and are among the most expensive mobile phones in the market.But the North Korean delegation flatly refused the offer, saying they wouldn’t receive the phones with strings attached.As for Kim Jong Un’s younger sister Kim Yo-jong, she is blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury Department because of her position as vice director of the South’s ruling Workers’ Party’s Propaganda and Agitation Department.Meanwhile, South Korean aircraft sent to Kalma Airport in the North 10 days ago to pick up North Korean athletes were also at risk because of U.S. sanctions banning vessels and aircraft that have visited North Korea from traveling to the United States within 180 days. A series of airliners, fearing sanctions, refused to charter flights.The government was only able to secure a small Asiana Airlines-run Airbus, instead of a larger Boeing jet, that is used for domestic or short-distance flights. Seoul and Washington came to an agreement to exempt that flight just an hour before the scheduled Jan. 31 departure. The aircraft arrived the next day with a 32-member North Korean delegation onboard.Another bump in the road has been the nonchalant public reaction to the North’s participation in the games. The media frenzy over North’s participation is not set off warning bells on the ground as in the past. South Koreans, especially the younger generation, are no longer as much excited or welcoming the North with open arms.Such sentiment was displayed when the government announced that a 9,700-ton North Korean ship, Mangyongbong-92, would be allowed into South Korean waters to bring 114 members of an art troupe to perform in Gangneung, South Korea, last Thursday and in Seoul this Sunday.The North has even requested that Seoul provide fuel to the ferry needed to sail back to the North next week. Seoul is reportedly under negotiation with Washington to resolve the request.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio
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