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MADRID Authentic Josh Malone Jersey , Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- FC Barcelona issued a communique on Wednesday following the detention of 13 government officials by Spanish Civil Guards for their suspected role in helping organize the Catalan independence referendum scheduled for Oct. 1.

This vote has been declared illegal by the Spanish Constitutional Court, which has instructed both Spanish and Catalan regional police to do everything possible to stop it being held.

Wednesday saw Civil Guardss raid several offices pertaining to the Catalan regional authority, including those of the Catalan economy department, while it has also been confirmed that the Spanish central government will take over the payment of the wages of Catalan civil servants from the regional authority.

Speaking in the Congress building in Madrid, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the actions were "in order to ensure the law was complied with."

FC Barcelona has long been a symbol of Catalan nationalism. But perhaps because it has supporters all over Spain, it has so far avoided taking sides in the conflict. However, Wednesday's communique was a show of support, if not for the independence movement, then at least for the right to vote.

"In the wake of the events that have transpired in recent days and, especially, today, with regard to the current political situation in Catalonia, FC Barcelona, in remaining faithful to its historic commitment to the defense of the nation, to democracy, to freedom of speech, and to self-determination, condemns any act that may impede the free exercise of these rights," said the club.

"Therefore, FC Barcelona publicly expresses its support for all people, entities, and institutions that work to guarantee these rights," reads the statement, adding that the club has the "utmost respect for its diverse body of members" and "will continue to support the will of the majority of Catalan people, and will do so in a civil, peaceful, and exemplary way."

Spanish Football League President Javier Tebas has commented on several occasions that if the Catalan region became independent from Spain, then FC Barcelona and other Catalan clubs, such as Espanyol, Girona, Gimnastic Tarragona and Reus, would no longer be able to compete in the Spanish league and would consequently lose both income and status.

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NAIROBI, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) -- African countries have pledged to tame illegal trade in timber and other forest products by ensuring that the sub-sector makes a meaningful contribution to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a conservationist said on Tuesday.

Kenya's Chief Conservator of Forest Emilio Mugo said representatives from Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique, Madagascar, Tanzania and Zanzibar (Tanzania) who met in Nairobi on Tuesday agreed to take stern action against those caught in the illegal trade of the products.

"Illegal trade in timber and forest products is not only degrading the rich forests assets of the region but also represents an enormous loss in economic values and livelihood opportunities to the countries," Mugo said at the end of a two-day meeting.

He noted that the meeting marks a significant step forward in efforts to ensure timber trade in Eastern Africa is managed in a way that brings equitable benefits to all.

Mugo said that the meeting agreed to assist people with timber products to benefit from the products by ensuring that they reap maximum profit from the consumers.

The meeting followed the Zanzibar Declaration meeting that was signed in September 2015 during the XIV World Forestry Congress in South Africa.

Since signing the declaration, the countries have seen huge progress in addressing rampant illegal trade in the member countries.

They agreed develop a mechanism to collaborate on implementation of trade governed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

"We have jointly agreed to pursue the Global Environmental Facility funding opportunity to help improve our forest cover and also fight climate change effects," Mugo added.

The members also agreed to deal with produce seized from illegal trade and raise fund to help improve the state of environment in the region.

The Kenya Forest Service is partnering with the Timber Manufacturers Association in establishing tree seedlings to help achieve and surpass her set goal of 10 percent tree cover.

The tree nurseries in the country currently produce 2.5 million indigenous seedlings and are set to increase to 4.5 million.

"This will immensely boost the rehabilitation program throughout the country," TMA chairman Benson Gitau said.

He noted that trees will be planted especially in arid and semi arid regions to help reduce land degradation.

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Scene from the film New Golden Lotus starring Gong Yuefei Photo: CFP

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