British leader Rishi Sunak on Monday sacked controversial interior minister Suella Braverman, as he reshuffles his top team ahead of a general election expected next year.
Sunak had come under growing pressure to axe Braverman, an outspoken right-winger, after critics accused her of heightening tensions during weeks of contentious pro-Palestinian demonstrations and counter-protests in Britain.
It was not immediately clear who will replace Braverman, who was appointed to the post when Sunak became prime minister just over a year ago.
Following her dismissal, Braverman said “it has been the greatest privilege of my life to serve as home secretary”.
“I will have more to say in due course,” she added.
The firing comes as the ruling Conservatives confirmed a major reshuffle of Sunak’s top ministers was underway — his first since becoming the country’s leader on October 25, 2022.
“Here we go,” the party said on X, formerly Twitter.
“Today @RishiSunak strengthens his team in government to deliver long-term decisions for a brighter future. Stay tuned for the latest.”
The changes, set to be announced through the morning, are expected to reward loyalists and younger emerging MPs, after nearly 14 years in power takes its toll on the Tories’ popularity.
The party has trailed the main Labour opposition by double-digit margins throughout Sunak’s time in power, and is widely tipped to lose the next election due next year.
Braverman had stoked controversy throughout her tenure, taking a hardline stance on immigration in particular and regularly wading into so-called culture wars issues which are seen as dividing the electorate.
The right-winger attacked her critics as liberal “tofu-eating wokerati” while saying shortly after she was appointed that sending asylum seekers to Rwanda was her “dream” and “obsession”.
But her position became increasingly untenable after she last week wrote an explosive newspaper article, apparently without Sunak’s approval, accusing police of bias towards left-wing causes.
It was blamed for stoking tensions ahead of a weekend of protests over Israel’s war in Gaza, which coincided with Armistice Day events, and prompted calls for her to be sacked.
20 Killed In Cameroon Separatist Attack
Separatist rebels on Monday killed around 20 people, including women and children, in an attack on a village in one of Cameroon’s restive anglophone regions, the government said.
The overnight assault occurred at Egbekaw village, western Cameroon, the scene of deadly clashes between rebels and government forces for seven years.
“There were men, women and children, more than 20 killed,” minister at the presidency Mengot Victor Arrey-Nkongho told public radio. “It’s intolerable.”
Cameroon’s primarily English-speaking Northwest and Southwest regions have been gripped by conflict since separatists declared independence in 2017.
That followed decades of grievances over perceived discrimination by the francophone majority.
In the middle of the night “terrorists” opened fire with guns and used “traditional arms”, Manyu department prefect Viang Mekala said on the radio.
“There are about 20 dead and seven seriously wounded, a dozen houses burnt,” he added.
President Paul Biya, 90, who has ruled the central African nation with an iron fist for 41 years to the day, has resisted calls for wider autonomy and responded with a crackdown.
The conflict has claimed more than 6,000 lives and forced more than a million people to flee their homes, according to the International Crisis Group.
“It happened at 4:00 am. Armed young people came and fired on sleeping residents in their houses and set a whole block of houses on fire,” a resident told AFP by telephone requesting not to be identified out of security concerns.
“Twenty-three people have already been removed from the debris, some of whom are not even recognisable because of the fire.”
He said there was reason to believe it was connected to the November 6 anniversary of Biya assuming power as president in 1982.
A meeting of the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (RDPC) was planned in the area, he added.
Both the separatists and government forces have been accused of atrocities in the fighting.
There had been no claim of responsibility over the attack on Egbekaw.
Israel Gives Condition For Ceasefire, Deaths Hit 11,000
The health ministry in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip said Sunday that at least 9,770 people had been killed in the Palestinian territory since the war with Israel erupted last month.
The ministry said at least 4,800 children were among those killed since Israel began striking the Gaza Strip in retaliation to the October 7 attacks carried out by Hamas militants in southern Israel, which Israeli officials said killed over 1,400, most of them civilians, AFP reports.
The latest information brings the death toll on both sides to 11,187.
Meanwhile, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday gave a condition for a ceasefire.
Israel won’t agree to any ceasefire activity in the Gaza war without the return of the hostages, Netanyahu said during a visit to the Ramon Air Force base in southern Israel, as he explained that he was delivering this message both to the country’s allies and enemies.
“I also want you to know that there is one thing that we will not do – there will be no ceasefire without the return of the captives,” Netanyahu told the pilots according to The Jerusalem Post. “The very idea of doing that has to be removed from the conversation,” he added.
“We (are saying) this to both our enemies and our friends. We will continue (the battle) until we have defeated them (our enemy). We have no alternative. I think today everyone understands that “The Jerusalem Post quoted him as saying.
Also, Pope Francis said on Sunday that he “begs” in God’s name for a ceasefire in the Israeli-Hamas war.
“I continue to think about the serious situation in Palestine and in Israel where many, many people have lost their lives. In God’s name, I beg you to stop; cease using weapons!” the pope said on X, formerly Twitter, via @Pontifex.
“I hope that avenues will be pursued so that an escalation of the conflict might be absolutely avoided,” Francis said, adding “Let the hostages be freed immediately. Let’s think of the children, of all the children affected by this war, as well as in Ukraine and by other conflicts: this is how their future is being killed. Let us pray that there might be the strength to say, ‘enough.’
More than 300 Americans, United States residents and their families have been evacuated from the Gaza Strip, the White House said on Sunday.
The evacuation, carried out in recent days, was the result of “pretty intensive negotiations with all sides relevant to this conflict,” White House Deputy National Security Advisor Jonathan Finer told CBS News.
Despite these efforts, the US believes there are still “a number” of Americans inside Gaza, he added.
“This is obviously a major priority and one that we’re going to continue to work out until every American who wants to leave is able to do so,” Finer said.
AFP reports that the Rafah border crossing from Gaza to Egypt opened up Wednesday after weeks of war, allowing a trickle of wounded Palestinians and people with dual nationality to leave, all desperate to escape Israel’s bombardment.
Egypt has said it would help evacuate 7,000 foreigners through the crossing, but Hamas said late Saturday that the evacuation of dual nationals and foreigners was being suspended until Israel lets some wounded Palestinians reach Rafah so they can cross the border for hospital treatment.
Hamas Not Terrorist Group -Erdogan
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, in his strongest comments yet on the Gaza conflict, said on Wednesday that the Palestinian militant group Hamas was not a terrorist organisation.
Mr Erdogan, however, described Hamas as a liberation group fighting to protect Palestinian lands and people.
NATO member, Turkey, condemned the civilian deaths caused by Hamas’ October 7 rampage in southern Israel but also urged Israeli forces to act with restraint.
As the violence and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza have worsened, Ankara has strongly criticised Israel’s bombardment of the territory.
Mr Erdogan made the proclamation while speaking with lawmakers from his ruling AK Party, using an Arabic word denoting those who fight for their faith.
“Hamas is not a terrorist organisation, it is a liberation group,’mujahideen’, waging a battle to protect its lands and people.’’
Unlike many of its NATO allies and the European Union, Turkey does not consider Hamas a terrorist organisation and hosts members of the group on its territory.
Ankara backs a two-state solution to the decades-old Israel-Palestinian conflict.
Mr Erdogan also slammed Western powers for supporting Israel’s bombing of Gaza and called for an immediate ceasefire, the unhindered entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza, and for Muslim countries to work together to stop the violence.
“The perpetrators of the massacre and the destruction taking place in Gaza are those providing unlimited support for Israel,” Mr Erdogan said.
“Israel’s attacks on Gaza, for both itself and those supporting them, amount to murder and mental illness.’’
Mr Erdogan’s comments drew a swift rebuke from Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, who said they were “grave and disgusting and did not help with de-escalation.’’
He urged Italy’s foreign minister to lodge a formal protest with Ankara.