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Raila all set for a grand return aboard luxury flight

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By Allan Olingo

By JUSTUS OCHIENG’

The Orange Democratic Movement party is preparing for a possible Sunday return of its leader, Raila Odinga, who underwent surgery at a Dubai hospital.

Party deputy leader Hassan Joho and director of elections Junet Mohamed left the country yesterday for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) aboard a luxury Constellation Aviation Airline Private Jet Airbus A318-112 (CJ) Elite A6-CAS, MS4211. Also accompanying the duo was Mombasa County Assembly Speaker Aharub Ebrahim Khatri.

Mr Khatri on Thursday confirmed that together with Governor Joho, they will meet Mr Odinga after his successful surgery at the Saudi German Hospital Dubai.

“Off to Dubai with Governor Hassan Joho to see Baba,” Mr Mohamed tweeted yesterday.

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The 10-year-old UAE-registered aircraft, which seats 19 passengers, landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on Thursday at 11.23am, according to flight tracking site FlightRadar24, from Lusaka in Zambia. It then took off for Dubai at 12.45pm. It had previously flown to South Africa, Tanzania, Angola and Ghana in the past one week.

MAHOGANY INTERIOR

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Oozing opulence, the Airbus A318 private jet boasts a mahogany interior, an entourage lounge, VIP dining and lounge area, a private office and a VIP bedroom “designed to make our clients feel right at home during long flights”, the operator said of the aircraft on its website.

The smallest airliner in the Airbus A320 family, the A318, carries up to 132 passengers for most commercial airlines that use it, but this one has been customised for less than 20 passengers.

Constellation Aviation Airline, the aircraft’s operator, which offers “premium VIP private jet charter service” is based in the United Arab Emirates and operates a modern, a state-of-the-art medium and long-range fleet of privately owned aircraft.

On Thursday, a source within the party told the Nation that as at last Sunday, Mr Odinga had been given a clean bill of health by the medics in Dubai and was ready “for a grand return”.

“He was advised by the family to take another week before travelling back to the country. He is likely to return this weekend or early next week,” the source revealed.

After being discharged, the ODM leader promised a quick return to the political scene.

Speaking in a video clip posted on Twitter by his daughter Winnie on July 1, he said he felt “very strong and rejuvenated”.

OUT OF HOSPITAL

“I feel really great to be out of hospital and I’ll be doing my usual jigs very soon,” he added.

Mr Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta are expected to receive the final report of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and embark on its implementation.

The ODM leader had asked Kenyans to brace themselves for a referendum as the way to ensure full implementation of the recommendations of the report.

Mr Odinga’s hospitalisation was first confirmed by his elder brother, Dr Oburu Oginga, ending days of speculation on his whereabouts last month.

“Jakom (Raila) is out of the country for a minor surgical operation on his back. It is not a serious health issue, but just a minor one. So, he’s okay,” Dr Oginga said.

The East African Legislative Assembly member revealed that Mr Odinga, 75, had been admitted to a German hospital in Dubai.

Without disclosing the name of the facility, Dr Oginga said: “The Germans have a good hospital facility in the Arabian country where he’s being monitored.”

PROGRESSING WELL

Later, Mr Joho also revealed that he had spoken to Mr Odinga and that he was progressing well after the procedure.

“…So far as a people, and more importantly the fraternity of the Orange Democratic Movement, we continue to pray for him as our leader. I have no doubt that within the shortest time possible Baba will be back in Kenya,” the Mombasa governor said.

The International Patient Relations Supervisor at the Saudi German Hospital Dubai, Ms Semira Dikbas did not, however, reveal when the surgery was conducted on Mr Odinga or when he was discharged from hospital.

“Due to high confidentiality, we cannot give any reply to this,” Ms Dikbas told the Nation.

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Europe beckons for South African rugby after Kiwi snub

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Jul 20World Cup-winning Springbok Schalk Brits believes the future of South African rugby lies in Europe after New Zealand said there was no room for sides from the republic in Super Rugby.

“All of this jet lag and flying across different time zones just does not work,” said the hooker who retired after the triumphant 2019 World Cup campaign.

“We have got so many South Africans playing in Europe and it would be awesome to see them in action here for European clubs.”

With New Zealand favouring a trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition, South Africa Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux will address the media Tuesday about the way forward.

There has been no rugby in South Africa since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, which claimed 5,033 lives by late Sunday, the most in an African country.

Here, AFP Sport looks at the possibilities for the world champions Springboks and Super Rugby teams the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers.

Rugby Championship

There has been speculation that the six-round annual tournament will be cut to four matches with New Zealand and Australia playing in South Africa only every second year.

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That would be a huge blow for SA Rugby coffers as the century-old rivalry with the All Blacks makes them a huge drawcard.

South Africa might consider abandoning the Championship and pursuing a suggestion by former All Blacks Justin Marshall and Jeff Wilson for three-Test tours between the great rivals.

“British and Irish Lions tours are so successful because we look forward to them,” noted another ex-All Black, John Kirwan. The same could be said of an All Blacks-Springboks series.

‘Seven Nations’

Should South African franchises move north, would the Springboks follow suit and apply to join England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales in a ‘Seven Nations’ championship?

Having the world champions on board would surely excite the organisers and costs would be greatly reduced if the Springboks played their three away matches on consecutive weekends.

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England, Ireland, France and Wales, in particular, would bring freshness for rugby followers, who have not rushed to the turnstiles for Championship visits by Australia and Argentina.

Ask the SA Rugby treasurer for his ‘dream’ line-up and he would surely say a multi-Test tour by the All Blacks and participation in the ‘Seven Nations’.

Super Rugby

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Although not official yet, the reality is that New Zealand want to play some Australian sides and the Pacific Islands in a new competition while excluding South Africa and Argentina.

The original version, a Super 10 between 1993 and 1995, was a superb competition, but constant tinkering and expansion has led to waning interest in a difficult-to-follow event.

Even those supporting the Golden Lions of South Africa could not have derived too much satisfaction from a 94-7 thrashing of Japanese visitors the Sunwolves three years ago.

South Africa sides often battled with time differences in Australasia — New Zealand is 11 hours ahead of the republic — and were weary after four-match tours.

‘Pro16’

Pro14 chief executive Martin Anayi says he would welcome Super Rugby ‘rejects’ the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers into an expanded edition.

“The tournament works well but could be even better if we added some South African teams,” he said, referring to a competition that also includes Irish, Italian, Scottish and Welsh teams.

But there may be no room for the two current South African Pro14 participants, the Cheetahs and Kings, who have experienced very different fortunes.

While the Cheetahs have been competitive, the Kings won just four of 55 matches in three seasons with some of the losing margins embarrassing.

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Currie Cup

The domestic competition has survived constant format changes to remain the vital ‘nursery’ from which Springboks emerge.

First staged in 1892, it was the bedrock of South African rugby until the dawn of professionalism after the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

As Test and Super Rugby fixtures took up an increasing amount of the season, the Currie Cup often battled for calendar space.

But it survived and this year could feature the four Super Rugby sides plus the Cheetahs, Kings, Griquas and Pumas, if play is possible amid the coronavirus.

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Kenya records highest number of deaths from Covid-19

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Kenya records highest number of deaths from Covid-19

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Kenya’s coronavirus cases rise to 13,771 after 418 more infections

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By NATION REPORTER

Kenya on Monday reported 418 more Covid-19 infections, raising the country’s tally to 13,771 since the virus was first confirmed on March 13.

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Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Rashid Aman also reported four more deaths, raising the toll to 238. He rectified an earlier report about 19 deaths in a single day, which would have been the highest number ever recorded in Kenya.

The 418 new patients were found following the testing of 2,474 samples in the last 24 hours.

Four hundred and eight of them were Kenyans and 10 foreigners while male patients numbered 263 and female patients 155.

Dr Aman also announced that 494 patients had been discharged, raising the country’s total number of recoveries to 5,616.

Of the recovered patients, 465 were under home care and the rest in hospitals.

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