Diane is a perfectionist. She enjoys searching the internet for the hottest events from around the world and writing an article about it. The details matter to her, so she makes sure the information is easy to read and understand. She likes traveling and history, especially ancient history. Being a very sociable person she has a blast having barbeque with family and friends.
According to unconfirmed South Korean reports, North Korea’s military chief of staff, General Ri Yong-gil, has been executed.
However, senior officials in North Korea have previously been absent from view for long periods only to reappear.
Ri Yong-gil would be the latest of several high-ranking North Korea officials to be purged under leader Kim Jong-un.
South Korean media reported that Gen. Ri Yong-gil had been executed earlier this month for corruption and “factional conspiracy”.
Last week, a meeting of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party attended by Kim Jong-un discussed how to deal with corruption.
While no individuals were mentioned, state news agency KCNA reported at the time that those at the meeting criticized “the practices of seeking privileges, misuse of authority… and bureaucratism manifested in the party”.
According to analysts, Gen. Ri Yong-gil had fallen from favor first surfaced late last year.
If this is the case, Ri Yong-gil will be the fourth chief of staff since Kim Jong-un took over in 2011, as opposed to three during his father Kim Jong-il’s 17 years in power.
The reports of Ri Yong-gil’s execution come days after North Korea launched a long-range rocket, which critics say is a test of banned missile technology.
On January 6, North Korea carried out its fourth nuclear test.
Some observers say the regime’s recent behavior may be linked to Kim Jong-un wanting to shore up his position ahead of a rare congress of the Workers’ Party due in May.
In May 2015, South Korea’s spy agency told parliament that North Korea’s Defense Minister Hyon Yong-chol had been executed for showing disloyalty to Kim Jong-un.
The agency said Hyon Yong-chol was killed by anti-aircraft fire in front of an audience of hundreds – it later said it was yet to verify the information. That news came weeks after the reported execution of 15 senior officials.
Also on February 10, South Korea announced it was suspending operations at the jointly-run Kaesong industrial park in North Korea following the North’s recent rocket launch and nuclear test.
Seoul said all operations at the Kaesong complex would halt, to stop North Korea using its investment “to fund its nuclear and missile development”.
The suspension will mean North Korea will lose the income it currently gains from the site, which comes to $100 million a year.
The Supreme Court has blocked President Barack Obama’s plans to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide from US power plants.
The court ruled that Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan could not go forward until all legal challenges were heard.
Designed to cut US emissions by 32% by 2030, the scheme put huge emphasis on a shift to renewable energy.
It formed the key element of the US pledge at UN climate negotiations held in Paris in December 2015.
Introduced by Barack Obama in August 2015, the plan set carbon reduction goals for each state and it was up to the states themselves to come up with proposals to meet those goals.
A group of 27 states, utilities and coal miners sought to block the proposal in the courts. They argued that the plan was an infringement on states’ rights.
An initial attempt to halt the implementation of the plan until legal challenges were heard was thrown out by a US appeals court in Washington in January.
However, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to halt the plan pending the outcome of the litigation.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest put out a statement following the decision: “We disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision to stay the Clean Power Plan while litigation proceeds.
“The Clean Power Plan is based on a strong legal and technical foundation, gives states the time and flexibility they need to develop tailored, cost-effective plans to reduce their emissions, and will deliver better air quality, improved public health, clean energy investment and jobs across the country, and major progress in our efforts to confront the risks posed by climate change.
“We remain confident that we will prevail on the merits.”
The Supreme Court’s ruling could have significant implications for Barack Obama’s attempt to cut down on carbon.
Under the Clean Power Plan, individual states were due to submit their proposals on how to meet the CO2 restrictions by September 2016. That date will be missed.
It is unlikely that all the legal questions over the future of the Clean Power Plan will be resolved before President Obama leaves office in January 2017.
West Virginia’s Attorney General Patrick Morrisey called the high court’s action a “great victory”.
“We are thrilled that the Supreme Court realized the rule’s immediate impact and froze its implementation, protecting workers and saving countless dollars as our fight against its legality continues,” he said in a statement.
Supporters of the Clean Power Plan were confident that the courts would ultimately upheld its legality.
“The electricity sector has embarked on an unstoppable shift from its high-pollution, dirty-fuelled past to a safer, cleaner-powered future, and the stay cannot reverse that trend,” said David Doniger, from the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“Nor can it dampen the overwhelming public support for action on climate change and clean energy.”
The Supreme Court’s ruling will be seen as a major embarrassment for President Barack Obama, who helped craft a new global agreement on climate change at UN sponsored talks in Paris in December.
What will worry the White House more is the division of the court along ideological lines, with conservative justices all supporting the stay while the liberal justices opposed.
If these divisions hold, the Clean Power Plan may suffer further setbacks in the Supreme Court which may ultimately render it useless.
If that was to happen, the ability of the US to live up to its commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement would be in serious doubt.
Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have won the presidential race in the New Hampshire primary.
Republican Donald Trump is likely to get more than twice the number of votes of the next Republican candidate.
Democrat Bernie Sanders, who beat rival Hillary Clinton by a huge margin, said his victory showed people wanted “real change”.
Both candidates are riding on a wave of discontent with mainstream politics.
Ohio Governor John Kasich came second in the Republican vote, with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Florida Senator Marco Rubio all vying for third place.
New Hampshire is the second state to choose delegates in the long nomination battle following last week’s Iowa caucuses, which were won by Ted Cruz for the Republicans and Hillary Clinton for the Democrats.
The result gives momentum to the winners ahead of the next contests in South Carolina and Nevada.
Donald Trump’s lead in New Hampshire is the first time the New York billionaire – who has never held elected office – has translated his widespread support in opinion polls into a victory at the polls.
In his victory speech, Donald Trump congratulated Democratic winner Bernie Sanders but sideswiped that “he wants to give away our country, folks!”.
Donald Trump, 69, has pledged to deport millions of migrants who are living in the US illegally; build a wall along the border with Mexico; and impose a temporary ban on all Muslims entering the country.
With close to 90% of the votes counted, Senator Bernie Sanders has a lead of more than 20 percentage points over Hilton Clinton in the two-horse race for the Democratic nomination. He had topped polls in New Hampshire in recent months, but it is still a significant victory for the self-described Democratic socialist candidate.
“What the people here have said is that given the enormous crises facing our country, it is just too late for the same old, same old establishment politics and establishment economics,” Bernie Sanders said in speech to his supporters late on February 9.
Bernie Sanders, 74, has vowed to eradicate income inequality, provide free university education and break up big banks.
Hillary Clinton congratulated Bernie Sanders, but said in a speech she would continue to fight for every vote in the campaign. Despite the setback, she still remains the frontrunner for the nomination.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, said in a memo that they expected the race for the Democratic nomination “very likely” to be decided in March.
The former secretary of state acknowledged before the polls that Bernie Sanders had a natural advantage in New Hampshire because he represents the neighboring state of Vermont as senator.
Hillary Clinton, who has more support from the Democratic establishment, narrowly won in Iowa.
Most polls in New Hampshire closed at 19:00 local time, with state officials forecasting a historic turnout in the vote.
They are the first contests in the US presidential race in which states decide who becomes each party’s official candidate.
The White House has released the final budget proposal of Barack Obama’s presidency, a $4.1 trillion program that includes a $10.25 per barrel tax on oil.
The Republican-controlled Congress is expected to reject it.
The leaders of the House and Senate budget committees jointly announced they would not invite Barack Obama’s budget director to testify before them.
Despite the setbacks, the White House has said the budget sticks to a bipartisan agenda reached last autumn.
Barack Obama’s last budget is for the 2017 fiscal year and would not take effect until October 1, 2016.
The tax on oil would raise $319 billion over 10 years. The US Treasury said that the tax would apply to both imported and domestically-produced oil, but would not be collected on US oil shipped overseas.
The plan would also temporarily exempt home-heating oil from the tax.
The White House said the tax “creates a clear incentive for private-sector innovation to reduce America’s reliance on oil and invest in clean energy technologies that will power our future”.
The tax would be paid by oil companies in order to boost spending on transportation infrastructure, including mass transit and high-speed rail, and autonomous vehicles.
President Barack Obama’s budget includes $11 billion to fight ISIS, plus money for early childhood education, and research and development.
The budget includes $19 billion in spending on cyber security that would allow for a overhaul of the federal government’s internal computing systems.
In 2015, systems at the Office of Personnel Management were hacked, exposing the personal information of government employees and job applicants.
The proposed budget envisions a deficit of $503 billion in the 2017 fiscal year after a $616 billion budget gap in the current fiscal year, which ends on September 30.
It seeks to cut deficits by $2.9 trillion over 10 years, largely through smaller tax breaks for wealthy earners, new savings in Medicare healthcare, and assumptions that adoption of its policies would boost economic growth.
Over 10 years, deficits would average 2.5% of US economic output, compared with about 4% in the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate, which is based on current laws.
“That [budget] document… will be President Obama’s final vision of how he lays out the fiscal future for the country,” said Joel Friedman, vice president for federal fiscal policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
“I don’t think anyone expects it to be enacted this year. Republicans aren’t going to embrace it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to be a useful document.”
Congress can advance elements of the budget without endorsing the entire proposal.
South African President Jacob Zuma has made a U-turn in court over his refusal to repay some of the $23 million of state money used to upgrade his Nkandla home.
Jacob Zuma’s lawyer admitted the president was wrong to ignore an anti-corruption watchdog’s report to pay back money spent on features such as a swimming pool.
The opposition brought the case, hoping it will open the way for impeachment proceedings against Jacob Zuma.
Thousands of people protested outside court, shouting “Zuma must fall”.
Police put up a strong show of force, as the protesters, led by Julius Malema’s left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), marched to the court in Johannesburg.
The protest was against “corruption and cronyism” in government, the EFF said.
The main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) also organized its own demonstration.
The governing African National Congress (ANC) denounced the marches as a “political exercise”.
The opposition parties want the Constitutional Court to rule that Jacob Zuma flouted the constitution by ignoring a 2014 report by the anti-corruption watchdog, known as the Public Protector, that he should repay the money, as he had “unduly benefited” from the upgrade.
At the time, the police minister defended the expenditure as necessary security upgrades, saying the swimming pool was, in fact, a fire pool that could be used in the event a fire broke out at the residence in Jacob Zuma’s home village of Nkandla.
An amphitheatre, cattle enclosure and chicken run were also built.
Jacob Zuma’s lawyer, Jeremy Gauntlett, conceded in court that the report was “binding” on the president, and he was prepared to repay the money within 90 days.
However, Jeremy Gauntlett denied that Jacob Zuma had violated the constitution.
The hashtag #PayBackTheMoney, mirroring the slogan used by EFF members to taunt the president, has been trending in South Africa.
The case comes at a difficult time for Jacob Zuma, who has also been under fire over his handling of the finance ministry, after he sacked two ministers in a week in 2015.
Many South Africans also accuse Jacob Zuma’s government of not doing enough to tackle corruption and poverty.
At least nine people have died and more than 100 are injured after two passenger trains have collided in the German state of Bavaria, police say.
The head-on crash happened near Bad Aibling, a spa town about 37 miles south-east of Munich.
One of the trains was derailed in the crash and several carriages were overturned, German media reported.
Police said rescue teams were trying to free people still trapped in the wreckage.
Regional police said in a tweet that four people were dead and about 100 injured, of whom 15 were in a critical condition and 40 seriously hurt.
“This is the biggest accident we have had in years in this region and we have many emergency doctors, ambulances and helicopters on the scene,” another police spokesman, Stefan Sonntag, told the Associated Press news agency.
Regional train company Meridian said in a statement that “a tragic accident” had occurred on a single-track route between Rosenheim and Holzkirchen at about 07:00 local time.
Bernd Rosenbach, managing director of Bayerische Oberlandbahn which operates Meridian trains, told reporters: “The accident is a huge shock for us. We are doing everything we can to help the travelers, relatives and workers.”
Technical manager Fabian Amini added: “Our thanks go to the emergency services and workers who gave their help so quickly.”
The scene of the crash is close to the Mangfall River in a hilly and densely wooded region.
Although the trains were carrying commuters, local carnival holidays meant no schoolchildren were on board, according to reports.
The cause of the collision is not yet known.
Roads around the scene have been closed and the railway line between Holzkirchen and Rosenheim is blocked, local media reported.
German Justice Minister Heiko Maas tweeted: “Really awful news from #badaibling – our thoughts are with the victims and injured. Thanks to the rescue workers.”
The North Korean satellite launched on February 7 is in orbit but it is not yet clear whether it is working, South Korea’s defense ministry has said.
North Korea has said the Kwangmyongsong-4 is a communications satellite and that February 7 launch was a complete success.
However, the move was internationally condemned as North Korea is banned under UN sanctions from using any ballistic missile technology.
The UN has vowed to impose further sanctions as punishment.
The US said on February 8 that this could include “a range of economic sanctions that would further isolate North Korea” and send a clear signal “that the resolve of the international community here is firm”.
The US has also said it will help South Korea deploy an advanced missile defense system as soon as possible, officials from the Pentagon have said.
South Korea’s defense ministry said the launch indicated North Korea now has long-range missiles with a 7,500-mile range, the Yonhap news agency reports.
It remains unclear whether it has developed the technology to make a missile re-enter the atmosphere, critical if it is to use the missile as weapon.
North Korea insists its space program is purely scientific in nature but the US, South Korea and even Pyongyang’s ally China say the rocket launches are aimed at developing inter-continental ballistic missiles.
Venezuela’s stores will halve their work hours to four a day in order to comply with the government’s energy rationing rules.
According to ministers, a severe drought caused by El Nino has brought 18 of Venezuela’s hydro-electric dams to critically low water levels.
A spokesman for Venezuela’s retail association said the drop in working hours would have an impact on jobs.
The state energy corporation (Corpoelec) had wanted cuts twice a day, between 1PM and 3PM and then again between 7PM and 9PM.
The retail association, The Chamber of Venezuelan Commercial Centers (Cavececo), said it had made an alternative proposal: that stores should open late at 12:00 and close at 19:00 saving five hours of energy use daily.
However, they had not received a response to this suggestion, the organization said.
Cavececo said opening and closing twice in a day would be disastrous for banking operations, health centers, servicing companies, pharmacies, supermarkets and particularly restaurants that depended on electrical energy to preserve and refrigerate their products.
However, the reduction to only four hours a day would also have an impact on businesses that ran two work shifts which represents around 75% of employees in shopping centers.
The Venezuelan government has also asked private residences to start saving energy and has been rationing domestic water supplies since January.
North Korea has launched a long-range rocket, which critics say is a test of banned missile technology.
But according to local media, North Korea had successfully placed a satellite in orbit.
The launch was condemned by Japan, South Korea and the US, who have requested an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on February 7.
South Korea says it is to begin discussing with the US the deployment of a missile defense system.
Ryu Je-Seung, a senior defense official, said if the THAAD missile system – considered one of the most advanced in the world – were deployed it would be only to counter the threat from the North.
In a statement, the North Korean National Aerospace Development Administration said earth observation satellite Kwangmyongsong-4 had entered orbit about 10 minutes after lift-off from the Sohae space centre in North Phyongan province.
Announcing the launch on state TV, a newsreader said it had been ordered by North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un and said the country planned to launch more satellites in the future.
“The fascinating vapor of Juche satellite trailing in the clear and blue sky in spring of February on the threshold of the Day of the Shining Star,” was how the launch was described.
South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Moon Sang Gyun said a warship had detected the launch at 09:31.
The rocket launch was roundly condemned by the international community. US Secretary of State John Kerry called it a “flagrant violation” of UN resolutions and warned of “significant measures to hold the DPRK [North Korea] to account.”
China said it “regrets” North Korea’s actions but urged “the relevant parties” to “refrain from taking actions that may further escalate tensions on the Korean peninsula”.
Contenders for the Republican ticket in the US presidential election this year were asked for their reaction during a debate in New Hampshire.
Donald Trump said China was the key.
“I would get on with China. Let China solve that problem.”
UN Security Council resolutions ban North Korea from carrying out any nuclear or ballistic missile tests.
South Korean analysts had speculated that North Korea might carry out the launch ahead of February 16, the birthday of the late North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il.
Pope Francis will meet the head of Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, in Cuba next week.
The Russian Orthodox Church said the “persecution of Christians” would be the central theme of the historic meeting.
Pope Francis will stop over in Cuba on his way to Mexico.
It is the first papal meeting with a Russian Church head since the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity split in the 11th Century.
The meeting is due to take place at Havana airport, where Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill will sign a joint declaration.
Patriarch Kirill is due in Cuba for an official visit at the same time as Pope Francis’ stopover in Havana.
In a joint statement, the two churches said the meeting would “mark an important stage in relations between the two churches”.
They invited “all Christians to pray fervently for God to bless this meeting, that it may bear good fruits.”‘
Since becoming Pope in 2013, Francis has called for better relations between the different branches of Christianity.
The foreign policy chief of the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Illarion, told reporters that there were still differences between the two churches, but that international events had pushed the leaders to meet.
Metropolitan Illarion said: “The situation in the Middle East, in northern and central Africa and in other regions where extremists are perpetrating a genocide of Christians, requires immediate action and an even closer cooperation between Christian churches.
“In this tragic situation, we need to put aside internal disagreements and pool efforts to save Christianity in the regions where it is subject to most severe persecution.”
Patriarch Kirill has been the head of the Russian Orthodox Church since February 2009, while Pope Francis took up his role in March 2013.
The Roman Catholic Church has more than a billion members worldwide, while the Russian Orthodox Church numbers about 165 million.
The Orthodox Church is made up of more than 10 separate churches. The Vatican has existing ties with the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I, but this will be the first meeting between the Pope and the patriarch of the Russian Church, which is the largest and most powerful Church in Orthodoxy.
Former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli refused to answer questions at a congressional hearing on the company’s drug pricing policy.
Martin Shkreli invoked his constitutional right against self-incrimination, but sniggered through questions from representatives.
Congress is investigating Turing’s 5,000% price increase of Daraprim, a drug used by many AIDS patients.
Martin Shkreli asked Congress for immunity last month in return for his testimony.
The Federal Trade Commission is also investigating whether Turing violated anti-trust laws when it raised the price of Daraprim.
Turing purchased the patent to Daraprim for $50 million in July 2015, but the company and its former CEO rose to public attention in August when price of a single dose jumped from $13.50 to $750.
Politicians, including Democratic presidential candidate Hilary Clinton criticized Turing for the increase. Hillary Clinton called Turing’s move “outrageous” and called it “price gouging”.
In response, Martin Shkreli said the media and politicians did not understand the pharmaceutical industry.
The industry’s main lobbying group, PhRMA, also spoke out against Turing’s actions. In a statement PhRMA said that Turing “does not represent the values of PhRMA member companies”.
Other members of the pharmaceutical industry, including the head of Valeant Pharmaceuticals, were also asked to testify.
Valeant increased the price of Isuprel, a drug used to treat slow heart rate by 500% and Nitropress used to treat hypertension by 200%.
After the hearing Martin Shkreli’s attorney told reporters that his client, a former hedge fund manager, was a “brilliant scientist who had saved many lives.”
Martin Shkreli who is active on social media had already tweeted he would not answer questions.
Before the hearing, Maryland Representative Elijah Cummings called Martin Shkreli’s decision to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination a “juvenile tactic”.
At the hearing, Representative Elijah Cummings said: “You can go down as the poster boy for greedy drug company executives, or you can change the system.”
After the hearing, Martin Shkreli returned to Twitter to call the members of Congress “imbeciles”.
Turing’s chief commercial officer Nancy Retzlaff did answer Congress’s questions.
Nancy Retzlaff told the House hearing that Turing acquired Daraprim because it was “priced far below its market value” and that the company planned to invest the profits from the price hike into research and development of new treatments.
Martin Shkreli stepped down as Turing CEO in December 2015 following his arrest on separate charges.
The Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission have charged Martin Sjkreli with defrauding investors at a company he previously ran and a hedge fund he managed.
South Korea’s defense ministry and Japanese media say North Korea appears to be preparing to launch a long-range missile.
Activity has been spotted at a launch station on the North Korea’west coast of the isolated nation.
Earlier this week Pyongyang announced it was planning to launch a satellite at some point in February.
North Korea’s announcement was internationally condemned – critics saying it is a cover to test banned missile technology.
The isolated country also conducted its fourth nuclear bomb test on January 6.
UN sanctions against North Korea prohibit it from carrying out any nuclear or ballistic missile tests.
South Korean state news agency Yonhap quoted defense ministry officials on February 4 as saying activity had been spotted at a site in Dongchang-ri, where the Sohae launching station is located.
Defense Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun also said South Korea’s military was ramping up its air defense readiness so it was ready to intercept any missile or debris falling in its territory. The South has already ordered certain commercial flights to divert their routes.
Japan’s national broadcaster NHK, citing unnamed officials, also reported similar news about activity at Dongchang-ri, and added that a mobile launcher carrying a ballistic missile had also been seen moving near the east coast.
Separately, South Korean President Park Geun-hye said in a statement reported by Yonhap that any long-range missile launch by the North “should never be condoned as it poses a threat to peace on the Korean Peninsula and the world”.
Park Geun-hye said the move was “a desperate measure” by the North to maintain its regime, and showed Pyongyang was not afraid of UN sanctions.
The US-based North Korean analysis website 38 North said recent satellite images show recent activity at Sohae suggesting launch preparations.
These include heightened activity at a building used to receive rocket stages, and a complex that appears ready to conduct engine tests.
North Korean state news agency KCNA reported on February 4 that the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea was holding a meeting among central and army committee members where they discussed how to “further strengthen” the party ahead of a rare political meeting scheduled for May.
Analysts say North Korea’s recent nuclear and missile activity could be a build-up to the upcoming seventh party congress – the first to be held since 1980 – where leader Kim Jong-un is expected to show off the nuclear program.
Rand Paul has decided to drop out of the White House race after a disappointing fifth place finish in the Iowa caucuses.
The Kentucky senator often clashed with his Republican rivals over their hawkish views on foreign policy and their support of government surveillance.
Rand Paul ended his bid in part to focus on his re-election to the Senate.
He is seen as representing the Libertarian wing of the party, which promotes individual rights and privacy.
“Across the country thousands upon thousands of people flocked to our message of limited government, privacy, criminal justice reform and a reasonable foreign policy,” he said.
“Although, today I will suspend my campaign for president, the fight is far from over.”
Rand Paul, an ophthalmologist, represents Kentucky in the Senate and is the son of former Congressman Ron Paul, who ran for president several times.
He has said in the past he is the right candidate to “stand up to both the right and the left”.
In 2015, a Time magazine cover labeled Rand Paul “the most interesting man in politics”.
There are now 10 Republicans left in the White House race, down from the original 17.
Rand Paul, 52, hoped to gain the attention of young people hoping for change but was ultimately overshadowed by billionaire businessman Donald Trump.
He is known for holding up the Senate floor for nearly 13 hours to delay the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director because of his opposition to the Obama administration’s use of drone strikes against terrorists.
He also was criticized last year when he said vaccines could give children “profound mental disorders”. He later said his children are immunized.
Rand Paul was passionate about criminal justice reform, saying the US needs to “break the cycle of incarceration for non-violent ex-offenders”.
He was praised for level-headed debate performances, but ultimately was hurt by his non-interventionist polices after terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, California and Paris.
Rand Paul had trouble raising money for his campaign, as well, not attracting wealthy donors flocking to candidates like Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz.
With such a large field of candidates, underperforming Republican candidates are under increasing pressure to drop out of the race.
Former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee dropped out on February 2 as votes were being cast in Iowa.
South African President Jacob Zuma will repay some of the $23 million the government controversially spent on upgrading his private rural home in Nkandla.
In 2014, a report by the public protector said Jacob Zuma had “benefited unduly” from the upgrades.
President Jacob Zuma said the auditor-general and finance minister should determine how much he should repay to end the dispute.
The announcement comes a week before a constitutional hearing on the matter.
The refurbishment of the residence in the village of Nkandla, in Jacob Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal, has turned into a major political controversy in South Africa.
Some of the money was spent on building an amphitheatre, swimming pool, and cattle enclosure.
The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) and Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), who have called for a corruption investigation, say they are pressing ahead with their court case regardless of the president’s latest offer.
Following Jacob Zuma’s announcement #PayBackThemoney is trending in South Africa – this was the phrase EFF lawmakers chanted at the president in parliament in 2015.
Many commentators seem skeptical.
Jacob Zuma’s delayed willingness to pay back the money spent on the upgrades to his Nkandla residence could be a calculated move to avoid embarrassment at the Constitutional Court hearing expected next week.
It could also be linked to the forthcoming local government election.
The Nkandla scandal has been a sore point for the governing African National Congress (ANC) which president Jacob Zuma leads, especially as the party faithful go out to campaign for votes.