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Meet Croatia’s President Who Taught The World a Lesson in Leadership

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At Sunday’s final between France and Croatia, Croatian president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović was a literal bright spot in the crowd. You couldn’t miss her. A combination of brains, beauty and power. Could it get any more potent than that?
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Dressed in a red-and-white team jersey, Grabar-Kitarović spent most of the game on her feet, cheering in support of a squad that ultimately lost the 4-2 final. Before being invited into the VIP box as a guest of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Grabar-Kitarović watched every single one of her team’s appearances from the stands with fellow Croatia fans.
Being a visible booster for a winning team is one of the fun parts of being a leader. Croatia has never advanced to a world cup final before and the team, led by captain (and former refugee) Luka Modric, were national heroes.



But when it was over and Croatia was left to reckon with the deeply disappointing defeat, Grabar-Kitarović was as present and supportive as she’d been during their ascent. She embraced a shattered Modric after he was presented with the Golden Ball, the tournament’s most valuable player award. A hard rain started to fall during the final award ceremony. As handlers rushed to put umbrellas up over the heads of Putin and other dignitaries, Grabar-Kitarović stood in the rain to shake the hand of every player on both teams.
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Being willing to stand up and project a steady and positive presence in times of disappointment is one of a leader’s most important tasks. The late South African president Nelson Mandela was an advocate of this view. “It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur,” goes one quote widely attributed to the late leader. “You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.”



Consoling a losing soccer team hardly counts as danger, nor is it the most challenging part of Grabar-Kitarović’s office. But projecting a sense of unity and unwavering commitment is a necessary and important part of the job. (Grabar-Kitarović is Croatia’s head of state, not its head of government, a role currently filled by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.)
A former Fulbright scholar, ambassador to the US, and assistant secretary to NATO, Grabar-Kitarović is leading an emerging eastern European economy at a tremendously precarious time for the postwar global order, and only a few decades removed from the region’s bloody civil war. Standing by the team during its moment of public disappointment is as powerful a statement as celebrating in the good times.

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The value of leadership above partisanship in fact written it into Croatia’s constitution. Prior to her election in 2015, Grabar-Kitarovićwas a member of the center-right Croatian Democratic Union, but resigned immediately from the group upon election. Presidents in Croatia can’t hold any party affiliations in office. As leaders they must represent an entire nation, and there can’t be any question of whose team they are on.
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Mali: Apex court upheld Keita’s re election

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Mali’s constitutional court on Monday confirmed President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s re-election in a run-off ballot, rejecting fraud accusations by the opposition candidate.

The decision clears the way for Keita to be inaugurated next month for a second five-year term, at a time when Malian authorities are contending with rising violence by jihadist groups and ethnic militia.

Challenger Soumaila Cisse had contested the electoral commission result of the Aug. 12 vote, which showed Keita winning 67 percent.

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The election was tainted by armed attacks in the centre and north, where hundreds of polling stations remained closed, and a turnout of only 34 percent reflected fears of violence as well as voter apathy.

Cisse says he would have won 51 percent of the vote but for ballot box stuffing and other cheating by Keita’s camp. Keita rejected the allegations.

The European Union observer mission and other local and international monitors said that, despite a number of irregularities and disruptions, they saw no evidence of fraud.

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Nigeria: More bodies discovered from collapsed building in Abuja

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About four more bodies have been recovered from the rubble of the four-storey building which collapsed in Jabi, Abuja on Friday.
 
The bodies were recovered during the ongoing evacuation of debris from the site on Monday.
 
The Federal Capital Territory Administration and the National Emergency Management Agency had on Saturday ended the rescue operation at the site after six persons and one dead body were evacuated from the building on Friday.

But relatives of the victims had protested the decision of the government, insisting that about 18 workers were still trapped under the rubble.

They were dispersed by policemen who fired tear gas and shots into the air.

The rescue team consisting of officials of FCT Emergency Management Agency, National Emergency Management Agency, firefighters and Julius Berger Plc ended the rescue operations around 8am after they failed to find victims.

But the youths who were annoyed by the removal of the payloaders and other equipment attempted to take over the site, insisting that many victims were still trapped under the debris and should be rescued.

The Coordinator, Abuja Municipal Metropolitan Council, Umar Shuaibu, had explained that the rescue workers could not find any signs of life or body, adding that they deployed the necessary equipment for the job.

He disclosed that only one died out of the seven victims that were rescued, insisting that no other casualty was discovered during the overnight rescue operation.

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