White House press secretary Sean Spicer resigns

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has quit, reportedly in protest at a shake-up of the communications team.

Mr Spicer stepped down because he was unhappy with President Donald Trump's appointment of a new communications director, reports the New York Times.

Combative Wall Street financier Anthony Scaramucci has been picked for the role that Mr Spicer partially filled.

Mr Spicer's press briefings were a cable news hit, but he withdrew from camera in recent weeks.

Profile: Who is Anthony Scaramucci?

The shake-up comes as the White House faces inquiries into alleged Russian meddling in last year's US presidential election and whether Mr Trump's campaign team colluded with Moscow.

The New York Times reports that 45-year-old Mr Spicer "vehemently" disagreed with the appointment of Mr Scaramucci, which he believed to be a "major mistake".


Spicer's low points

  • inflating crowd sizes at Trump inauguration at first briefing
  • his appearance, particularly his suits, reportedly criticised by Trump
  • saying Hitler never used chemical weapons and referring to Holocaust "centres"
  • butt of text message joke by adviser Steve Bannon about his weight
  • defending Trump "covfefe" tweet by saying it had hidden meaning
  • frozen out of meeting with the Pope in Rome, despite being devout Catholic
  • not invited to Paris for Trump visit

The search for a new appointment began after Mike Dubke resigned from the communications director job in May.

Mr Spicer has been serving as both press secretary and communications director since Mr Dubke's exit.

On day one in January, Mr Spicer set the tone of his relationship with the press by bursting into the briefing room to berate journalists for their reporting of crowd numbers at President Trump's inauguration.

His proclivity for gaffes and garbling of his words, as well as making debatable assertions, soon saw Mr Spicer's name trending on Twitter.

He was mercilessly lampooned on the topical comedy show Saturday Night Live, where Melissa McCarthy played him as a gum-chewing, loud-mouthed thug who brandished his lectern at reporters.

Mr Spicer became something of a punchline when he reportedly sought refuge by a hedgerow on the White House grounds to evade reporters' questions on the night Mr Trump fired the FBI director in May.

Mr Scaramucci, who has no previous experience in communications roles, is currently senior vice-president of the Export-Import Bank, a US government agency which guarantees loans for foreign buyers of American exports.

Source: bbc.com

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21/Jul/2017

Robert Harward turns down Trump's national security adviser offer

US President Donald Trump's choice for national security adviser has turned down the job offer.

Retired Vice-Admiral Robert Harward was widely tipped for the post after Mr. Trump fired Michael Flynn on Monday.

A White House official said Mr. Harward cited family and financial commitments, but US media said the sticking point was he wanted to bring in his own team.

Mr. Flynn had misled US Vice-President Mike Pence over his conversations with Russia's ambassador to the US.

The latest setback emerged hours after Mr. Trump robustly denied media reports of White House disarray, insisting in a news conference that his administration was running like a "fine-tuned machine".

The White House is expected to name its new communications director on Friday, and US media say the job will go to Mike Dubke, the founder of Republican media group Crossroads Media.

Mr. Harward told the Associated Press the Trump administration was "very accommodating to my needs, both professionally and personally".

"It's purely a personal issue," added the 60-year-old former Navy Seal who is currently based in Abu Dhabi as an executive for US defense contractor Lockheed Martin.

Asked about reports that he had asked to bring in his own staff at the National Security Council, Mr. Harward said: "I think that's for the president to address."

Mr. Flynn, a retired army lieutenant-general, was ousted amid claims that before he was even appointed as national security adviser he had discussed sanctions with a Russian envoy.

This would have potentially breached a law banning private citizens from engaging in diplomacy.

Mr. Flynn initially denied having discussed sanctions with Sergei Kislyak, Moscow's ambassador to Washington.

But on Monday, Mr. Trump asked for his resignation following revelations that Mr. Flynn had misled the vice-president about his conversations with the diplomat.

Leading Republicans have called for an investigation into intelligence leaks that led to Mr. Flynn's resignation.

Source: bbc.com

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17/Feb/2017

Noncitizen in Texas Sentenced to 8 Years for Illegal Voting

A Texas woman was sentenced Thursday to eight years in prison for illegal voting, The Dallas Morning News reported. A Tarrant County jury found Rosa Maria Ortega guilty of voting in the November 2012 general election and the May 2014 Republican primary runoff in Dallas County “when she knew she was not a United States citizen.” Ortega, 37, was arrested in 2015. She is a legal U.S. resident, but is not a citizen and therefore, not qualified to vote.


'So Profoundly Wrong': Judge Nap Slams Court's Ruling on Immigration Order

Trump Tweets Reply to Immigration Order Ruling: 'See You in Court'


She testified that at the time she voted she did not understand the differences between the rights granted to a citizen and a legal resident.

"If I knew, everything would have been done the correct way," Ortega testified. "All my life I was taught I was a U.S. citizen."

Attorneys for the state showed the jury that she checked a box on her driver's license form indicating she was not a citizen, despite her testimony to the contrary.

Ortega was sentenced to eight years and a $5,000 fine on each count.

Source: foxnews.com

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12/Feb/2017

The village where Muslims and gays are unwelcome

A village in Hungary has banned the wearing of Muslim dress and the call to prayer. By leading what it calls "the war against Muslim culture", it hopes to attract other Christian Europeans who object to multiculturalism in their own countries. The village of Asotthalom is close to the Hungary-Serbia border.

"We primarily welcome people from western Europe - people who wouldn't like to live in a multicultural society," Laszlo Toroczkai tells the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme. "We wouldn't like to attract Muslims to the village."

Mr Toroczkai is mayor of Asotthalom, a remote village in the southern Hungarian plains, situated around two hours from the capital Budapest.

"It's very important for the village to preserve its traditions. If large numbers of Muslims arrived here, they would not be able to integrate into the Christian community.

"We can see large Muslim communities in western Europe that haven't been able to integrate - and we don't want to have the same experience here," he says. "I'd like Europe to belong to Europeans, Asia to belong to Asians and Africa to belong to Africans. Simple as that."

Asotthalom

The refugee crisis has contributed to a rise in anti-immigrant sentiment across large parts of Europe and Hungary is no exception.

At the height of the migrant crisis, as many as 10,000 people crossed the border - just minutes from Asotthalom - from Serbia into Hungary each day.

The mayor has capitalised on the anxiety about such an influx and introduced by-laws of questionable legality.

The new local legislation bans the wearing of Muslim dress like the hijab and the call to prayer and also outlaws public displays of affection by gay people. Changes are also being brought in to prevent the building of mosques, despite there being only two Muslims living there currently.

Many lawyers think the laws contravene the Hungarian constitution and, as part of a general review of new local legislation, the government will rule on them in mid-February.

The laws, however, have support among many members of the community.

One resident, Eniko Undreiner, said it was "really scary" to see "masses of migrants walking through the village" last year as they crossed into the country.

"I spend a lot of time at home alone with my young kids - yes, there were times when I was scared," she says.

The two Muslims living in the village did not want to speak to the BBC for fear of attracting attention to themselves.

However, one member of the village said they were "fully integrated" within the community.

"They don't provoke anyone. They don't wear the niqab, they don't harass people... I know them personally. We get on just fine."

Migrants enter Hungary in October 2016, at the height of the migrant crisis

Migrants enter Hungary in October 2016, at the height of the migrant crisis

The mayor hopes the village can be at the forefront of what he calls "the war against Muslim culture".

He has employed round-the-clock border patrols, which he thinks will attract white Europeans to live there.

The Knights Templar International has been advertising homes in Asotthalom on its Facebook page.

Its members include Nick Griffin, former leader of the British National Party, and the party's former treasurer Jim Dowson.

"I have been contacted by Jim Dowson," Mr Toroczkai explains. "He came to Asotthalom a few times as a private individual, just to have a look. Nick Griffin also came with him."

Mr Griffin has previously described Hungary as "a place to get away from the hell that is about to break loose in western Europe".

"When it all goes terribly wrong in the West, more will move to Hungary and Hungary needs those people."

We have asked Knights Templar International and Nick Griffin for an interview, but neither responded.

Mayor Laszlo Toroczkai

Mayor Laszlo Toroczkai says Muslims "would not be able to integrate" into the village's Christian community

Mr Toroczkai says he would be happy to welcome people from England.

Asked if he is trying to establish a white supremacist village, Mr Toroczkai replies: "I didn't use the word white. But because we are a white, European, Christian population, we want to stay [like] this.

"If we were black we'd want to stay a black village.

"But this is a fact and we want to preserve this fact."

Source: bbc.com

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07/Feb/2017

Brexit: MPs to begin formal process with two-day debate

MPs are to begin two days of debate over the government's parliamentary bill to get the formal process of Brexit under way.

Discussions on the European Union Bill have been extended to midnight on Tuesday to accommodate more speakers, with a vote to take place on Wednesday.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has ordered his MPs to vote with the government, but some are expected to defy him.

Ministers want to get the bill passed in time to trigger Brexit by 31 March.

The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill would allow Prime Minister Theresa May to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, getting official talks between the UK and the EU started.

The Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Party are to vote against it, but Labour's leadership is backing it, meaning the government is expected to win.

The size of the Labour rebellion will be closely scrutinised, with several of his MPs indicating they plan to defy Mr Corbyn.

Two shadow ministers have quit, saying they want to vote against it.

Former Conservative Chancellor Ken Clarke has also said he will vote against the bill.

If the vote goes the government's way, the bill will return to the Commons next week for the committee stage when opposition parties will try to push through a series of amendments.

Speaking in Dublin on Monday, Mrs May said MPs would face a very clear choice when they came to vote on the bill.

"The people of the United Kingdom voted on June 23 last year. They voted in a referendum that was given to them overwhelmingly by Parliament," she said.

"The people spoke in that vote. The majority voted to leave the European Union. I think it is now the job of the Government to put that into practice. I hope that when people come to look at the Article 50 Bill they will recognise it is a very simple decision: do they support the will of the British people or not?"

The bill was published last week, after the Supreme Court decided Parliament must have a say.

The government had argued that this was not necessary, and that Mrs May had the power to get Brexit started without consulting MPs and peers.

But in his judgement, Supreme Court President Lord Neuberger said: "By a majority of eight to three, the Supreme Court today rules that the government cannot trigger Article 50 without an act of Parliament authorising it to do so.

"Withdrawal effects a fundamental change by cutting off the source of EU law, as well as changing legal rights. The UK's constitutional arrangements require such changes to be clearly authorised by Parliament."

Guy Verhofstadt, the EU parliament's Brexit negotiator, told the BBC's Newsnight programme that Mrs May would not be allowed to "pick and choose" those benefits of EU membership she might want the UK to retain.

"We need a fair partnership," he said. "You cannot create a status for countries outside the European Union where it is even more favourable than for the countries that are members. No taxpayer in Europe will accept such an outcome."

But he said Europe needed to be "generous" not just to the UK as a country, but, in his opinion, to those UK citizens who wanted to remain in Europe.

"Maybe some advantages of the European Union could be kept for those people in the UK who want to have them in the future and that is a generous offer, I think."

Source: bbc.com

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30/Jan/2017

Yahya Jammeh declares state of emergency

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has declared a 90-day state of emergency a day before his official mandate ends.

He decried "extraordinary" foreign interference in his country's affairs and December's election.

Regional leaders have been unsuccessfully trying to persuade Mr Jammeh to hand over power to Adama Barrow, who won the polls.

The move comes after Nigeria deployed a warship to put further pressure on Mr Jammeh to step down.

Regional bloc Ecowas, the Economic Community of West African States, has prepared a Senegal-led force but maintains that military intervention would be a last resort.

In his televised announcement, Mr Jammeh said "any acts of disobedience to the laws The Gambia, incitement of violence and acts intended to disturb public order and peace" are banned under the state of emergency.

He said security forces were instructed to "maintain absolute peace, law and order".

Earlier, the National Assembly passed a motion condemning what it called the "unlawful and malicious interference" of the African Union and the country's neighbour, Senegal, in The Gambia's affairs.

Ministerial resignations

Mr Barrow, a property developer, is meant to be inaugurated as the new president on Thursday. His spokesperson expressed shock and sadness at the declaration, says the BBC's Umaru Fofana in Banjul, the capital.

It is remains unclear if a curfew is being imposed, our correspondent says.

Mr Jammeh initially accepted the election results but then decided he wanted them annulled after the electoral commission admitted some errors, although it insists this did not affect the final outcome.

The Supreme Court is unable to hear the challenge until May because of a shortage of judges, and Mr Jammeh has said he will not step down until then.

Adama Barrow: From estate agent to president

Gambians flee ahead of 'inauguration'

At least three Gambian ministers, including the foreign minister, have resigned in recent days. Thousands of Gambians have also fled to Senegal, and further afield to Guinea-Bissau, amid fears of violence.

Map of The Gambia

BBC Africa security correspondent Tomi Oladipo says the Nigerian warship is being deployed to put on a show of strength rather than to launch an attack.

A military source says that the vessel - the NNS Unity - is currently sailing off the coast of Ghana.

Senegal is leading Ecowas' standby regional force and is also preparing its ground troops ahead of Thursday's deadline.

The Gambia's small army is not expected to put up a fight in the event of an intervention, but even if it did, its forces would be quickly overrun, our security correspondent says.

In the December polls, Mr Barrow won 43.3% of the vote compared with Mr Jammeh's 39.6%. A third candidate, Mama Kandeh, got 17.1%.

Yahya Jammeh seized power in the tiny West African country in 1994 and has been accused of human rights abuses, although he has held regular elections.

The African Union has said it will no longer recognise Mr Jammeh's authority after his term ends. Mr Barrow is currently in Senegal.

Source: bbc.com

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17/Jan/2017

US election hacking: Putin 'sought to help' Trump

Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to help Donald Trump win the presidential election, a US intelligence report says.

The unclassified report says the Russian leader "ordered" a campaign aimed at influencing the election.

Moscow has not commented, but Russia has previously denied the claims.

After being briefed on the findings, Mr Trump stopped short of accusing Russia of interfering, saying only that the election outcome was not affected.

The 25-page report says that the Kremlin developed a "clear preference" for Mr Trump.

Russia's goals, the document added, were to "undermine public faith" in the US democratic process and "denigrate" Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, harming her electability and potential presidency.

"We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election," it said.

The unclassified version contained no detailed evidence of Mr Putin's alleged role, but it said Russia's actions included:

  • Hacking into the email accounts of the Democratic National Committee and top Democrats;
  • Using intermediaries such as WikiLeaks, DCLeaks.com and Guccifer 2.0 persona to release the information acquired from the hackings;
  • Using state-funded propaganda and paying social media users or "trolls" to make nasty comments

Source: bbc.com

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06/Jan/2017

Ghana: 6th Parliament ends! New Speakers, MPs take oath

The life of the sixth Parliament of the 4th Republic has ended. President John Mahama's tenure as president has effectively ended too even though he had an eventful afternoon commissioning another project, the new WAEC hall. It was his last commissioning ceremony. The MPs of the old Parliament are also no more, except those who managed to retain their seats. The new MPs have been sworn into office to begin a new life in Parliament, a new journey in the legislature, one heavily tilted towards the New Patriotic Party majority. New Speaker  Prof Mike Ocquaye was also sworn in.

There was drama in Parliament as Ex-president Rawlings in a conciliatory gesture walks to former Accra Mayor Oko Vanderpuije, now MP, to have a chit-chat or maybe apologize for an earlier stunt which went viral.

Some two days ago, the ex-president in a hey! don't- come-near- me-posture, twice left Alfred Oko Vanderpuije embarrassed as he climbed the staircase to the House of Parliament. Vanderpuije, with his usual long beard attempted a Buddhist bow in reverence to Mr Rawlings but got snubbed in the process. The video went viral.

But tonight the ex-president has reconciled at least with a walk of grace to the man he despised.

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06/Jan/2017

Ghana: Akufo-Addo is President-Elect

Certified presidential results show that Nana Akufo-Addo of NPP is the president-elect of the Republic of Ghana. He had 53.85% of the total votes cast and the incumbent, President John Dramani Mahama of NDC having 44.40%. The result was declared by, Mrs. Charllotte Osei, the chairman of the Electoral Commission of Ghana.

More to follow.

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09/Dec/2016

Akufo-Addo third time lucky?

Provisional presidential results based on 216 Constituencies out of 275 puts Nana Akufo-Addo of NPP as the projected winner of Ghana’s elections. According to the multi-media group of companies, Nana Akufo-Addo is leading with 4,526,046 votes representing 53% of valid votes cast while his close contender and the incumbent, President John Dramani Mahama of NDC having 3,856,129 votes representing 45.15%. It is almost statistically impossible for President John Mahama to obtain the 50% plus one required by the Constitution of Ghana to win the presidential ballot. Out of an estimated 10million votes, the winner of the elections will need 5,272,633 votes to be declared the winner.

The presidential candidate of the NPP, Akufo-Addo, has 4,213,710 and need just 1,117,663 votes to cross that mark. On the contrary, the incumbent John Mahama has garnered 3,856,129 votes from 206 constituencies provisionally declared by the multimedia group. With only 69 constituencies left out of the 275, of which 21 are in the NPP stronghold (Ashanti and Eastern regions), the incumbent is unlikely to garner 1,561,931 votes to overturn the result as collated by the group.

More to follow.

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08/Dec/2016

Ghana: National Results For Elections 2016

We bring you the up-to-date results of polls.

 

Presidential Results        Parliamentary Results

Source: ghanaweb.com

 
 
Region Total Votes Winning Party
Ashanti 0  
Brong Ahafo 0  
Central 0  
Eastern 0  
Greater Accra 0  
Northern 0  
Upper East 0  
Upper West 0  
Volta 0  
Western 0
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06/Dec/2016

Special Voting: 65,001 to vote on Dec 1

The Electoral Commission (EC) has explained that a total of 65,001 voters would be voting under special voting on December 1, 2016.

They are made up of 871 media personnel, 23,567 security services officials and 40,563 election officials.

The Head of Communications at the EC, Mr Eric Kofi Dzakpasu made this known in a radio interview on Accra based Asempa FM Monday afternoon.

He was providing explanations on the special voting, proxy voting, election materials which the commission has started transporting to the regions on the political talk show programme Ekosii Sen, hosted by Kwadwo Asare Baffour Acheampong (KABA).

Special voting is a special dispensation under the electoral laws that allows registered voters who will not be able to present themselves at their polling stations on voting day as a result of the roles they will play in the elections to vote on a date before the rest of the electorate vote on the date set for the elections.

The category of people who are allowed to do special voting are security personnel, officials of the EC and journalists.

After voting, the ballot boxes are sealed, kept at police stations and sent to constituency collation centres on Election Day (Dec 7) to be opened, counted and added to other polling stations to get a constituency total.

Read also Proxy voters: 534 on the list - EC explains

Source: graphic.com.gh

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14/Nov/2016

Supreme Court throws out special voting suit

The Supreme Court in a unanimous decision has thrown out the suit on special voting saying it would be prejudicial to make the results known before Election Day.

According to the court, declaring the special votes before the main elections could influence the public in their voting pattern.

The Supreme Court explained that declaring the results of the special voting as plaintiffs had wanted will be unconstitutional.

This is because, Article 49 of the constitution called for the declaration of results at the end of polls which in the wisdom of the court will be closed on Election Day, December 7, reports Graphic Online's Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson.

Special voting

Special voting is a special dispensation under the electoral laws that allows registered voters who will not be able to present themselves at their polling stations on voting day as a result of the roles they will play in the elections to vote on a date before the rest of the electorate vote on the date set for the elections.

The category of people who are allowed to do special voting are security personnel, officials of the EC and journalists.

The suit was initiated by Dr Kwame Amoako Tuffour, a retired lecturer; Benjamin Arthur, an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) practitioner, and Adreba Abrefa Damoa, a pensioner. They were challenging the constitutionality of the rules governing the exercise.

They argued that Constitutional Instrument (C.I.) 94, which states that special voting ballot boxes will be sealed to be opened on close of voting on Election Day for counting, was unconstitutional.

They, accordingly, were invoking the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to declare that upon a true and proper interpretation of Article 49 of the 1992 Constitution, ‘special voting’, as provided for by Regulation 23 of the Public Elections Regulations, 2016, C.I. 94, was a part of public elections.

They therefore sought a declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of Article 49 of the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, 1992, and Section 13 of the Representation of the People Law, 1992, PNDCL 284, the ballots to be cast pursuant to Regulation 23 (1), (2), (3)(,(4),(5),(6),(7),(8),(9) and (10) of the Public Elections Regulations, 2016, C.I. 94 by special voters in the December 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections ought to be counted and announced there and then on the date(s) of the special voting by the presiding officers before communicating same to the returning officer. 

The plaintiffs were further seeking an order striking down Regulation 23 (11) of the Public Elections Regulations, 2016, C.I. 94, as being inconsistent with Article 49 (2), (3) (a) and (b) of the Constitution and Section 13 of the Representation of the People Law, 1992, PNDCL 284. 

 
 

Practicality

Counsel for the plaintiffs, Mr Egbert Faibille Jnr, in his submission, stated that the law that made room for special voting was not in accordance with Article 49 of the 1992 Constitution, which states that votes ought to be counted and declared immediately after the polls.

EC’s argument

Counsel for the EC, Mr Poku, in his submission, was of the view that counting the votes and declaring the results on the day that the special voting was conducted would erode confidence in the elections and have a negative impact on the polls.

That, he said, was because those allowed to vote during special voting were EC officials, security personnel, journalists and other identifiable groups who helped in the organisation of the elections.

Source: graphic.com.gh

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14/Nov/2016

Trump and Putin 'will try to mend ties', Kremlin says

US President-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will try to "normalise US-Russia ties", the Kremlin has said, following a phone conversation between the two.

Mr Putin wished Mr Trump "success in implementing the election programme".

Mr Trump, who had praised Mr Putin in the election campaign, said he wanted an "enduring relationship with Russia".

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama said Mr Trump had told him he remained "committed to a strong Nato".

'Pragmatic'

The Kremlin revealed Mr Trump and Mr Putin had discussed Syria and agreed that current Russian-US relations were "extremely unsatisfactory".

Meet President Trump's possible cabinet

Who is Trump's chief strategist?

Obama urges Trump to reach out

Trump's promises: Before and after

They also talked about the fact that 2017 marked 210 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the countries "which in itself should stimulate a return to pragmatic, mutually beneficial co-operation".

Mr Putin and Mr Trump had agreed to stay in touch by phone and arrange to meet in person at a later date, the Kremlin added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, speaks with U.S. President Barack Obama

Relations between Mr Putin and President Barack Obama have been frosty

The Kremlin did not make it clear who had initiated the phone call.

But Mr Trump's office said the Kremlin had called and that issues such as mutual threats and challenges, and strategic economic affairs, were discussed.

It said: "President-elect Trump noted to President Putin that he is very much looking forward to having a strong and enduring relationship with Russia and the people of Russia."

Mr Trump's election has seen a change in tone from Russia towards the US, with state TV channels quickly switching from claims of electoral fraud to hailing the triumph of the "man of the people".

The BBC's Steve Rosenberg in Moscow says that Russia views America's new president as a pragmatist - a brash businessman that Russians can do business with.

Relations between the two countries have soured in recent years, despite President Obama starting his eight years in office by calling for a "reset" with one of the US' long-term rivals.

While Russia and the US have managed to work together on issues like North Korea and Iran, they have openly clashed on Syria.

Mr Obama has also condemned Russia's intervention on the side of pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, while Russia's decision to grant whistleblower Edward Snowden asylum infuriated Washington.

Mr Trump's rival for the presidency was no better liked in Moscow. Hillary Clinton was sharply critical of Russia's 2011 parliamentary elections, leading President Putin to accuse her of fomenting the mass protests against him that followed.

'Beacon of hope'

Mr Obama met Mr Trump last week and, at a press conference on Monday, said the new president had "expressed a great interest in maintaining our core strategic relationships", including "strong and robust Nato" partnerships.

During the election campaign, Mr Trump had openly criticised those Nato members who he believed were not doing enough work within the organisation and had relied too heavily on the US.

Mr Obama was speaking ahead of a trip that takes in Germany, Greece and Peru.

He said he hoped Mr Trump would "look at the facts" of the nuclear deal agreed with Iran, an accord the president-elect has to this point resolutely opposed.

Mr Obama said he "absolutely" still had concerns about a Trump presidency and that there would be "certain elements of [Mr Trump's] temperament that will not serve him well unless he recognises them".

But he said there was "enormous continuity" in the US presidency and he believed the US would remain a "pillar of strength and a beacon of hope to peoples around the globe".

Mr Trump will succeed Mr Obama in the White House on 20 January.

Source: bbc.com

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14/Nov/2016

Trump election: Up to three million migrants 'to be targeted'

US President-elect Donald Trump has said he will deport or jail up to three million illegal migrants initially.

Those targeted would be migrants with criminal records, such as gang members and drug dealers, he told US broadcaster CBS in an interview.

He also confirmed that another election promise, to build a wall with Mexico, still stood but could include fencing.

The Republican defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in Tuesday's presidential vote.

His victory shocked many who had expected Mrs Clinton to win following favourable opinion polls.

Mr Trump is due to take over at the White House on 20 January, when Barack Obama steps down after two terms in office.

Both houses of Congress are also under Republican control.


Reality check: Analysis by Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

For the first time since winning the US presidency, Donald Trump has put a number on how many people he plans to deport from US soil and it's a big one - two to three million.

Although he says this group is comprised of violent criminals, drug-dealers and gang members, to hit such a high mark would involve either casting a very wide net that covers even the smallest infractions or also deporting legal alien residents of the US with criminal convictions.

To pull this off, an expanded "deportation force" would almost certainly be necessary, but Mr Trump's advisers have spent the past few days downplaying the prospect of such an organisation.

Meanwhile, Mr Trump also has curtailed the scope of his "big, beautiful" border wall, acknowledging that it could be a fence in some areas. All of this is evidence that Mr Trump is grappling with exactly how to make his controversial immigration promises a reality.

Proposing a multi-billion-dollar wall and mass deportations is easy. Delivering, in the face of fiscal realities and opposition within one's own party, is a different matter entirely.


'The people that are criminal'

There are around 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US, many of them from Mexico.

Mr Trump pledged during the election campaign to overturn amnesties introduced by President Obama, and strictly enforce immigration laws, deporting those without correct documents.

In his first major interview to a US broadcaster since the election, Mr Trump told CBS: "What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, where a lot of these people, probably two million, it could be even three million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate."

Asked about his plans for the Mexican border, he said "a wall is more appropriate" in some parts but "there could be some fencing",

Other undocumented migrants would be assessed once the border was secured, Mr Trump added.

However, another top Republican, House Speaker Paul Ryan, said on Sunday that border security was a greater priority than mass deportation.

"We are not planning on erecting a deportation force,'' he told CNN's State of the Union programme. "I think we should put people's minds at ease."

Forcing Mexico to pay for a border wall became a rallying cry among Trump supporters during the campaign.

Their candidate caused outrage by suggesting Mexicans were exporting "their rapists" to the US, along with drugs and other crime.


Walling off Mexico

  • The US-Mexico border is about 1,900 miles (3,100 km) long and traverses all sorts of terrain from empty, dusty desert to the lush and rugged surroundings of the Rio Grande.
  • It is one of the busiest borders in the world, with at least one million people using it each day, as well as 400,000 cars and 15,000 lorries, according to Mexico's El Universal newspaper.
  • Some 650 miles are covered already by a non-continuous series of fences, concrete slabs and other structures.
  • Mr Trump has previously said his wall would cover 1,000 miles and natural obstacles would take care of the rest.

How realistic is Donald Trump's Mexico wall?


In another development, Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned Mr Trump that "going it alone" was not an option for Europe or the US.

He said the West faced its greatest security challenge in a generation.

Source: bbc.com

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13/Nov/2016

President Trump

Donald Trump will become the 45th president of the United States, CNN projects, a historic victory for outsiders that represents a stunning repudiation of Washington's political establishment.

The billionaire real estate magnate and former reality star needed an almost perfect run through the swing states -- and he got it, winning Ohio, North Carolina and Florida.
The Republican swept to victory over Hillary Clinton in the ultimate triumph for a campaign that repeatedly shattered the conventions of politics to pull off a remarkable upset. Clinton conceded to Trump in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Speaking at a victory party in New York, Trump was gracious toward Clinton and called for unity.
"We owe (Clinton) a very major debt of gratitude to her for her service to our country," Trump said. "I say it is time for us to come together as one united people."
He added: "I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans."
Trump won with 288 electoral votes compared to 215 for Clinton, according to CNN projections.
 
Trump's supporters embraced his plainspoken style, assault on political correctness and vow to crush what he portrayed in the final days of his campaign as a corrupt, globalized elite -- epitomized by the Clintons -- that he claimed conspired to keep hard-working Americans down.
 
His winning coalition of largely white, working-class voters suggests a populace desperate for change and disillusioned with an entire generation of political leaders and the economic and political system itself.
Now, Trump faces the task of uniting a nation traumatized by the ugliest campaign in modern history and ripped apart by political divides exacerbated by his own explosive rhetoric -- often along the most tender national fault lines such as race and gender.

Trump is sure to follow his own playbook

Trump will be the first president to enter the White House with no political, diplomatic or military executive experience. His victory will send shockwaves around the world, given his sparse foreign policy knowledge, haziness over nuclear doctrine, vow to curtail Muslim immigration and disdain for US alliances that have been the bedrock of the post-World War II foreign policy.
His promises to renegotiate or dump trade deals such as NAFTA and to brand China a currency manipulator risk triggering immediate economic shocks around the globe.
Global markets already began tumbling late Tuesday.
 
Trump, 70, will be the oldest president ever sworn in for a first term and will take the helm of a nation left deeply divided by his scorched-earth campaign. His victory was built on fierce anger at the Washington establishment and political elites among his grass-roots voters, many of whom feel they are the victims of a globalized economy that has resulted in the loss of millions of jobs.
His victory ends Clinton's crusade to become the first woman to ever rise to the nation's highest office. It's a humiliating chapter in the long political career of Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
 
Trump's win also deals a painful rebuke to President Barack Obama, whom he pursued for years with his birtherism campaign built on the false premise that Obama was born outside the United States. Now Trump will have the power to eviscerate Obama's political legacy -- including the Affordable Care Act, the latter's proudest domestic achievement.
But there are deeper, more fundamental questions about Trump's presidency that will be key to his capacity to unify a deeply divided country and appeal to Americans who will feel outraged and disgusted by his victory.
 

He's got the attention of the whole world

Trump's campaign was built on rage, falsehoods and singling out culprits for the ills of modern America, including undocumented migrants, foreign nations such as China and Muslim immigrants.
He mocked a disabled New York Times reporter, vowed to use the power of the presidency to put Clinton in jail and pledged to sue women who accused him of sexual assault.
Trump has promised to build a wall on the southern border and make Mexico pay for it, and to deport undocumented migrants. He has vowed to reintroduce interrogation methods for terror suspects that are more extreme than waterboarding.
So the demeanor that Trump will adopt as president and the manner in which he will behave will be closely watched -- not just in the United States, but among nervous leaders abroad.
One of the many uncertainties about Trump's coming presidency is how his White House will interact with Republicans in Congress — and whether he and GOP leaders will heal their rift from the campaign.
Republicans appeared on track to repel a Democratic bid to recapture the Senate. That would give the GOP control over Capitol Hill and the White House.
That means it would fall to the GOP either to rubber stamp policies likely to mark a break from conservative orthodoxy or to provide a check on the power of Trump, who has shown every sign he will use executive power aggressively.
House Speaker Paul Ryan will face intense pressure from pro-Trump members of his own coalition to cooperate with the new president.
Senate Republicans, meanwhile, are likely to hold Trump's feet to the fire to ensure he lives up to his promise to appoint justices who could ensure a generational conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court.
 
Clinton apparently failed to reassemble the diverse coalition that helped Obama win the presidency in 2008 and 2012.
The events of Clinton's terrible final week on the campaign -- the revival of her email controversy by FBI Chief James Comey and a damaging drip, drip, drip of revelations by WikiLeaks which her campaign says was orchestrated by Russian intelligence -- could have helped consign her to defeat.
There also is the question of Trump's temperament. Clinton repeatedly warned that he was unfit to control the nuclear codes because he could be baited with a tweet.
Obama passionately denounced Trump as intellectually and temperamentally unfit to succeed him in the Oval Office.
But now, he will be forced to greet his successor on the morning of Inauguration Day in January, and look on while he is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.
 
Source: cnn.com
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09/Nov/2016

Hillary Clinton concedes

Donald Trump is on the verge of winning the presidency, after capturing the Democratic bastion of Wisconsin and moving within two electoral votes of the White House.

Hillary Clinton called Trump to concede the race, according to sources
A Trump win would be a historic victory for outsiders and represent a stunning repudiation of Washington's political establishment. The GOP nominee picked up crucial battleground states earlier including Florida, North Carolina and Ohio.
Trump has 268 electoral votes compared to 215 electoral votes for Clinton, according to CNN projections.
The victories are stunning for a candidate long seen as unlikely to win the presidency. Hillary Clinton's campaign was confident it was competitive in places like Florida and North Carolina and even sought to expand the map with recent visits to traditionally Republican states such as Arizona.
Clinton pulled out desperately needed wins in Virginia, Nevada and Colorado. Still, ran into a much stronger than expected challenge from Trump in the Midwest.
 
Source: cnnc.om
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09/Nov/2016

Trump surges in battleground states

Donald Trump took a dramatic step toward the White House Tuesday with crucial battleground victories in Florida, North Carolina and Ohio.
The victories are stunning for a candidate long seen as unlikely to win the presidency. Hillary Clinton's campaign was confident it was competitive in places like Florida and North Carolina and even sought to expand the map with recent visits to traditionally Republican states such as Arizona.
An election season that has defied expectations from the very beginning is staying true to form to the very end. Trump has an increasingly viable path to the 270 electoral votes needed to win. And even if Clinton were to win, it would likely be by the slimmest of margins.
The Ohio victory is especially important for Trump as no Republican has won the White House without taking the Buckeye State. North Carolina is a serious blow to Clinton, who fought hard for the state and held the final rally of her campaign there in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Clinton pulled out desperately needed wins in Virginia, Nevada and Colorado. Still, she faces a much stronger than expected challenge from Trump in Michigan and Wisconsin. Those Midwestern states form the bedrock of her Democratic firewall.
 
But the race is so close across the country that Maine and Nebraska, which split their electoral votes by congressional districts, could become important in deciding the outcome of the election.
The prospect of a Trump win quickly sent global markets tumbling, amid fears his vow to ditch global trade deals and brand China a currency manipulator would spark global economic shocks. Dow futures plummeted Tuesday night. Major indexes in Asia are also down.
 
So far, Trump has won 25 states, including Texas. Clinton has come out on top in New York and 16 other states along with the District of Columbia. Trump has 244 electoral votes compared to 215 electoral votes for Clinton.
Regardless of who prevails, history will be made as Americans elect either their first woman president or side with the ultimate political outsider.
 
Source: cnn.com
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09/Nov/2016

US election 2016: 'Vote Trump' church arson 'a hate crime'

The mayor of a town where a black church was daubed with "Vote Trump" and set on fire says the incident is being "investigated as a hate crime".

The fire was, which badly damaged the 111-year-old church in Greenville, Mississippi, was set on Tuesday night.

Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons described it as a "hateful and cowardly act" and "a direct assault on people's right to freely worship".

Police have not named any suspects, but the FBI have joined the investigation.

A GoFundMe page set up to rebuild the church has already raised more than double its initial goal.

Mayor Simmons said: "We consider it a hate crime because of the political message which we believe was intended to interfere with worship and intimidate voters.

"It happened in the '50s, it happened in the '60s. It shouldn't happen in 2016."

The FBI and Mississippi Bureau of Investigation are assisting the investigation.

Police Chief Delando Wilson said: "We don't have any suspect at time, but we are possibly talking to a person of interest."

Surce: bbc.com

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02/Nov/2016

US election 2016: Obama warns fate of world at stake

President Barack Obama has urged Democrats of all ethnic backgrounds to get out and vote for Hillary Clinton, warning that the fate of the US republic - and the world - is at stake.

He said her Republican opponent Donald Trump was a threat to hard-earned civil rights, the country and the world.

President Obama was speaking at a rally in North Carolina.

Mr Trump said Mr Obama should stop campaigning for Mrs Clinton and focus on running the country.

"The bottom line is, no-one wants four more years of Obama," he told supporters in Pensacola, Florida.

He said Mrs Clinton had become "unhinged" in recent days.

"The fate of the republic rests on your shoulders," President Obama told supporters in the key battleground state of North Carolina.

"The fate of the world is teetering and you, North Carolina, are going to have to make sure that we push it in the right direction.

"I am not on the ballot, but I tell you what - fairness is on the ballot; decency is on the ballot; justice is on the ballot; progress is on the ballot; our democracy is on the ballot."

The FBI is now investigating new emails that may be linked to its probe into Mrs Clinton's private email server.

The agency's director, James Comey, has faced a fierce backlash for announcing the move just 11 days before the presidential election.

Earlier, Mr Obama implicitly criticised him over the new inquiry into Mrs Clinton's email use.

In an interview with website NowThisNew, published on Wednesday, Mr Obama said US investigations should not operate on the basis of "innuendo" or "incomplete information".

A composite of James Comey and Hillary Clinton

Mr Comey has come under fire from Democrats over the move

Mr Obama's remarks were his first public comments since Mr Comey's announcement on Friday that the FBI had discovered a new batch of emails that might or might not be relevant to an earlier, closed investigation into Mrs Clinton's handling of classified information.

"I do think that there is a norm that when there are investigations we don't operate on innuendo, we don't operate on incomplete information, we don't operate on leaks. We operate based on concrete decisions that are made," said Mr Obama.

"When this was investigated thoroughly the last time, the conclusion of the FBI, the conclusion of the justice department, the conclusion of repeated congressional investigations was that she had made some mistakes but that there wasn't anything there that was prosecutable."

It emerged in March 2015 that Mrs Clinton had been breaking federal rules by operating a private email server while she was secretary of state from 2009-13.

Her lawyers combed through the server and provided the state department with 30,000 work-related emails, but her campaign deleted another 33,000 messages, saying they were personal in nature.

Mr Comey concluded in July that Mrs Clinton had been "extremely careless" in handling classified information, but there were no grounds for any charges.



The latest emails were found in a separate investigation into allegations that former congressman Anthony Weiner sent illicit text messages to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina. Mr Weiner is married to one of Mrs Clinton's closest aides, Huma Abedin.

Source: bbc.com

The FBI has reportedly obtained a warrant to search the cache of emails belonging to Ms Abedin, which are believed to have been found on her estranged husband's laptop.

There are reportedly 650,000 emails to search through on the laptop, but it is unclear who sent or received the emails or what they were about.

Democrats have angrily demanded that the embattled Mr Comey rapidly make public what the agency knows about the new email trove.

 

Read more
02/Nov/2016

Clinton emails: Officials advised FBI not to reveal inquiry

The FBI was advised by the US justice department not to inform Congress of a new inquiry into Hillary Clinton's email use, officials say.

Justice department officials said the move would be inconsistent with rules designed to avoid the appearance of interference in an election.

FBI Director James Comey acted independently when he briefed lawmakers in a letter on Friday.

Mrs Clinton said the move was "unprecedented" and "deeply troubling".

Leading Democratic senators have written to Mr Comey and to Attorney General Loretta Lynch urging them to provide more details about the investigation by Monday.

They argue that Mr Comey's decision to reveal the reopening of the case, less than two weeks before the 8 November election, is being used for political purposes.

But Republican opponent Donald Trump has praised the FBI's decision.

Speaking at a rally in Phoenix on Saturday, Mr Trump accused the justice department of protecting the Democratic presidential candidate in a "rigged system".

"The Department of Justice is trying their hardest to protect the criminal activity of Hillary Clinton," Mr Trump said, offering no evidence for the assertion.

In his letter to Congress, Mr Comey said the FBI had learned of fresh emails which might be "pertinent" to its previous inquiry into Mrs Clinton's use of a private server when she was secretary of state in the Obama administration.

Mr Comey, who has served in government under both Democratic and Republican presidents, has insisted that not making the inquiry public would be "misleading".

It is not clear what the emails contain or how significant they are to the investigation.

Speaking to supporters in Florida on Saturday, Mrs Clinton said: "It's not just strange, it's unprecedented. And it is deeply troubling because voters deserve to get full and complete facts.

"So we've called on Director Comey to explain everything right away, put it all out on the table."

Mrs Clinton has said she is confident the investigation into the emails will not change the FBI's original finding in July, which criticised her but cleared her of any illegal acts.

Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta said the Mr Comey's handling of the matter was "inappropriate" and the information provided was "long on innuendo" and "short on facts".

There was, he said, "no evidence of wrongdoing. No charge of wrongdoing. No indication this is even about Hillary."

Mrs Clinton's running mate Tim Kaine told NBC's Meet the Press the FBI director owed it to the public to be more forthcoming about the emails.

"We don't know whether they're to or from Hillary at all," the Virginia senator said. "[If he] hasn't seen the emails, I mean they need to make that completely plain. Then they should work to see the emails and release the circumstances of those once they have done that analysis."

But Mr Trump's running mate Mike Pence praised Mr Comey's decision, saying the emails showed Mrs Clinton was a "risky choice" and the Clinton campaign was practising the "old playbook of the politics of personal destruction" by "targeting the director of the FBI and questioning his personal integrity".

Mr Trump's campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told CNN that Mr Comey would have been accused of interfering in the election if he had not disclosed the newly discovered emails were under investigation.


How has the FBI probe affected the polls?

The bad news for Hillary Clinton is that the polls had already begun to tighten both nationally and in key battleground states before the FBI announcement on Friday.

A new New York Times poll in Florida, which was carried out earlier last week, has Mr Trump ahead of Mrs Clinton by 46% to 42%, while the RealClearPolitics polling average has the candidates tied on 44%.

Nationally, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll suggests Mrs Clinton is leading her rival by just one percentage point, down from a 12-point lead in the same poll a week ago. About a third of likely voters polled said they were less likely to support the Democrat after Mr Comey's disclosure.

But there is little evidence yet that the news will derail the former secretary of state's bid for the presidency.

In a new CBS poll of 13 battleground states, 52 percent of voters said they expected the emails to contain "more of what we already know" and most of those who said they were less likely to vote for Mrs Clinton were Republicans.

Source: bbc.com

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30/Oct/2016

US election 2016: We are behind, says Trump campaign

The Donald Trump campaign has admitted the Republican lags behind Hillary Clinton with just over two weeks to go before Americans cast their votes.

"We are behind. She has some advantages," said his campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, who added: "We're not giving up. We know we can win this."

On Friday, Mr Trump made a rare admission that he could lose.

New polls suggest Mrs Clinton remains well ahead nationally and in several battleground states.

Her campaign has predicted this is going to be "the biggest election in American history".

Campaign manager Robbie Mook told Fox News Sunday: "More people are going to turn out than ever before."

Polling in Republican strongholds like Utah and Arizona suggest these states could back a Democrat for the first time in decades.


If Arizona swings - Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Phoenix

Clinton supporters in Arizon

The polls may be wrong in Arizona but if they are correct, it may be the start of a Democratic trend that doesn't just put the state in play in a Clinton 2016 rout scenario, it makes Arizona a legitimate swing state in coming elections.

"The demographics in the state are continuing to change," says Arizona State University political science professor Richard Herrera. "If there is another increase in Latino voters, which there almost certainly will be, followed with an increase in party registrants, this could become a real battleground in future elections."

For Democrats, that's a dream scenario, giving them new and plentiful paths to electoral success.

For Republicans, it could mean the start of a long-term political nightmare.

That apparent change to the electoral map has prompted a shift in strategy for the Clinton camp, which is spending money on helping Democrats running in close House or Senate races.

Mrs Clinton said she didn't even bother responding to Trump anymore and would instead spend time "emphasising the importance of electing Democrats down the ballot".

Mr Trump's campaign manager said the Clinton team had a huge financial advantage in how much they could spend on negative ads against Mr Trump, and high-profile campaigners.

"She has a former president, who happens to be her husband, campaigning for her. The current president and first lady, vice president, all much more popular than she can hope to be," said Kellyanne Conway.

But this election does not feel over when you realise the depth of support Mr Trump has on the campaign trail, she said.

However, Mr Trump reflected on defeat for the first time on Friday when he said that - win, lose or draw - he would be happy with himself.

A day later, he announced a raft of measures for his first 100 days in office, that include used curbs on lobbying and new trade and climate change negotiations.

With just 16 days until the election, much of the recent focus has been on controversies linked to his campaign.

On Saturday, he promised to sue every woman who had accused him of sexual misconduct.

He also repeated his claims that the election is rigged, because of voter fraud at polling booths and media bias.

On Sunday, Eric Trump, Mr Trump's son, said his father would accept the outcome but only if it was a "fair" election.


What happens next?

  • The two candidates will spend the remaining 16 days before the election criss-crossing the country in their bid to persuade undecided voters. Expect to see lots of appearances in battleground states such as Ohio, North Carolina, Florida and Pennsylvania
  • Voters will go to the polls on Tuesday 8 November to decide who becomes the 45th president of the US
  • The new president will be inaugurated on 20 January 2017

Who is ahead in the polls?

51% - Hillary Clinton

41% - Donald Trump

 

Source: bbc.com

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23/Oct/2016

Sao Tome and Principe president boycotts own run-off vote

In an unusual move, the president of the west African state of Sao Tome and Principe has boycotted his own run-off election, handing victory to his rival.

Manuel Pinto da Costa withdrew from Sunday's poll, alleging fraud in the first round held on 17 July.

His rival Evaristo Carvalho, a former prime minister, is now certain to win the race.

He had won the first round with 49.8% of the vote while Mr Pinto da Costa had taken 24.8%.

Supporters of Evaristo Carvalho wearing T-shirts and holding placards picturing the politician celebrate in Sao Tome, 18 July

Posters of Evaristo Carvalho are seen here being brandished by supporters

Ahead of Sunday's run-off, he had called on his supporters not to vote, and later reports said many of them had stayed away.

Mr Pinto da Costa ruled Sao Tome with an iron fist for the first 15 years after independence from Portugal in 1975.

He lost the presidency after introducing reforms in 1990, including multi-party democracy, but in 2011, he was re-elected to office.

Sao Tome and Principe, a former Portuguese colony, consists of two islands of volcanic origin and a number of smaller islets lying off the western coast of Africa.

map

Source: bbc.com

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07/Aug/2016

Tunisia parliament votes to sack PM Habib Essid

Tunisia's parliament has passed a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Habib Essid, effectively dismissing the government of the US-trained economist.

A total of 188 MPs voted to sack Mr Essid, with only three supporting him.

Mr Essid, who has been in office less than two years, has faced criticism for what his opponents say is his failure to push through economic reforms.

President Beji Caid Essebsi last month called for a national unity government to break months of economic turmoil.

Unemployment has worsened since the 2011 revolution, when President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was ousted. More than a third of young people in Tunisia are without work.

Tunisia's uprising was the first of the Arab Spring, and often hailed as the most successful with the country now functioning as a parliamentary democracy.


Analysis: BBC's Rana Jawad in Tunis

The confidence vote came after a month of wrangling over the fate of the prime minister, following pressure on him from the country's president to resign. Mr Essid refused to step down, citing respect for the constitutional process and instead called on the Tunisian parliament to decide his fate.

In the end, an overwhelming majority of MPs voted to oust him from office. Most lawmakers accused him of failing to deliver on economic reforms needed to ease the country's high unemployment rates.

In June, the Tunisian president proposed the formation of a new unity government, arguing that the country needed a leadership that could carry out bold reforms.

But some observers believe that the vote is also a consequence of the prime minister's detachment from party politics. Mr Essid recently accused leading parties of trying to pressure him into making changes to the cabinet, which he says he refused to comply with. It is not clear who will succeed him at this time, but parliament will start negotiations over the matter on Monday.

Source: bbc.com

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31/Jul/2016

US election: Obama endorses Clinton as political heir

US President Barack Obama has delivered a stirring speech at the Democratic convention, hailing Hillary Clinton as his political heir and rounding on "home-grown demagogue" Donald Trump.

"There has never been a man or woman, not me, not Bill, nobody more qualified than Hillary" to be president, he said.

When boos rang out at the name of the Republican candidate, Mr Obama simply said: "Don't boo. Vote."

Mr Trump responded by rejecting the president's portrayal of optimism.

"Our country does not feel 'great already' to the millions of wonderful people living in poverty, violence and despair," he said on Twitter.

Mr Obama extolled Mrs Clinton's character, calling her a "leader with real plans to break down barriers, blast through glass ceilings and widen the circle of opportunity to every single American".

"She's been there for us, even if we haven't always noticed," he said.

Mr Obama described his nation as "full of courage", "decent and generous", but also concerned about racial divisions and "frustrated with political gridlock".

He said: "Tonight, I ask you to do for Hillary Clinton what you did for me. I ask you to carry her the same way you carried me."


The optimistic high ground - BBC's Anthony Zurcher

President Obama is good at this. He's really, really good at this.

For all his flaws - and conservatives will be quick to point them out - he's always been able to deliver a pitch-perfect speech on the biggest stages, and this was no exception.

It was the kind of speech that had some conservatives shaking their heads, wondering how their party ceded the optimistic high ground to their opponents. Mr Obama even quoted Ronald Reagan's "shining city on a hill" line, if only to make the political shift all the more clear.

Read more from Anthony


But he also reserved fierce words for Mr Trump, challenging the Republican's view of the US as "a divided crime scene".

Mr Obama said the US he knew was not a "country where we turn against each other, and turn away from the rest of the world".

He added: "Our power doesn't come from some self-declared saviour promising that he alone can restore order as long as we do things his way."

Turning to Mr Trump's business acumen, he said: "I know plenty of businessmen and women who have achieved remarkable success without leaving a trail of lawsuits and unpaid workers and people feeling like they got cheated."

Mr Obama added: "Does anyone really believe that a guy who spent his 70 years on this Earth showing no regard for working people is suddenly going to be your champion, your voice? No."

The former secretary of state joined him on stage for a hug after he finished speaking.


Role reversals and political divides - US media react

Writing in the Washington Post, EJ Dionne Jr says that Mr Obama's mission in his speech was to try "to safeguard his legacy by ensuring his time in the White House would not be seen by history as having culminated in the election of Donald Trump. And so he went to work, combining rational argument with evangelical exhortation in the classic Obama fashion".

Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Michael Shear in the New York Times recall Mr Obama's speech at the 2004 convention that thrust him into the national spotlight, in which he rejected the "politics of cynicism". His challenge now, they say, is "to find a way to acknowledge that the political divides he promised to bridge have only grown deeper and more acrimonious while arguing persuasively that the way to rise above them is to elect Mrs Clinton".

On the Politico website, Michael Hirsh says Wednesday's speeches confirmed "a dramatic shift, perhaps even a reversal, of the roles the two major parties have been identified with for several decades. For the first time, perhaps, since Vietnam, the Democratic Party is now the party of national security expertise."


In his response, Mr Trump said in a statement that the Democrats had described a vision of America that did not exist for most people.

Seventy percent of Americans thought the country was on the wrong track, said the property developer, who defied all predictions to win the Republican primary contest.

"Never has a party been so disconnected from what is happening in our world."

'Not one word'

Vice-President Joe Biden earlier delivered his own spirited address, saying Mr Trump "backs torture", "religious intolerance" and "betrays our values".

"He has no clue about what makes America great," Mr Biden said, before the crowd started chanting, "Not a clue!"

Virginia Senator Tim Kaine took the stage to "humbly" accept his party's nomination for vice-president and then also went on the attack.

"Folks, you cannot believe one word that comes out of Donald Trump's mouth," he said.

The crowd then erupted into chants of "Not one word!"

In other highlights from Wednesday night:

  • Former Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords, critically injured in a 2011 shooting, described Mrs Clinton as a president who would "stand up to the gun lobby"
  • Former CIA director Leon Panetta was greeted with chants of "no more war!" as he tried to warn of dangerous foreign policy under a Trump presidency
  • Ex-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg attacked fellow billionaire Donald Trump, saying: "The richest thing about him is his hypocrisy"
  • Christine Leinonen, mother of one of the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting, made an emotional plea for gun control

Mrs Clinton will officially accept the nomination on Thursday, setting up an election fight with Mr Trump that will take them to the presidential election in November.

Source: bbc.com

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28/Jul/2016

Hillary Clinton selects Tim Kaine as her running mate

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has selected Tim Kaine, a moderate senator from Virginia, as her running mate.

Mrs Clinton broke the news in a tweet to her supporters. She plans a formal announcement on Saturday.

Mrs Clinton passed over more left-leaning candidates in favour of the 58-year-old senator who opposes abortion and supports free-trade agreements.

His home state of Virginia is a major battleground in the coming election.

Who is Tim Kaine?

Hillary Clinton's Twitter announcement about Tim Kaine

Tim Kaine's tweet after being chosen as Hillary Clinton's running mate

Mr Kaine also speaks fluent Spanish and could help the Clinton campaign maintain its support among Hispanic Americans - a growing voting bloc.

An experienced politician who has been toughly vetted, he is considered a "safe" choice for the vice-president slot.

Mr Kaine was a finalist to be Barack Obama's running mate in 2008 and served as Virginia governor before his time in the Senate.

Mrs Clinton also reportedly interviewed liberal firebrand Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Senator Cory Booker, an African-American senator from New Jersey.

Source: bbc.com

 

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22/Jul/2016

US election: Hillary Clinton poised to announce running mate

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton could reveal her running mate as early as Friday, according to US media.

Her announcement would come ahead of the Democratic National Convention, which is due to begin on Monday in Philadelphia.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, a favourite choice among Democrats, has said she was "probably not" the choice.

Virginia Senator Tim Kaine has emerged as a leading contender for the role.

The former secretary of state may reveal her vice-presidential pick on the campaign trail in the key battleground state of Florida.

Mrs Clinton is expected to attend a rally at Florida International University on Saturday, where her newly minted running mate could also make an appearance.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Labour Secretary Tom Perez and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker were also reportedly on the short list for the job.

However, the Clinton campaign has cautioned that the likely nominee has not yet made a final decision.

Mrs Clinton's announcement would come on the heels of Republican rival Donald Trump's address at the party's convention.

Mr Trump formally accepted the nomination while speaking for more than an hour on Thursday, vowing to fight the multiple threats facing the US, including crime, immigration and global terrorism.

Mrs Clinton was swift to respond to the billionaire's remarks, pushing back on his claims that crime was on the rise as well as blasting his play on her slogan.

Hillary Clinton on Twitter:

The Democratic candidate's campaign has frequently used the line "I'm With Her."

Mr Trump told delegates in Cleveland that he chose to recite a different pledge: "I'm With You."

"I am your voice," Mr Trump said. "I'm With You, and I will fight for you, and I will win for you."

Mrs Clinton quickly fired back on Twitter to describe what she believed the phrase really meant.

The announcement of a vice-presidential pick could help build anticipation for the Democratic National Convention, where Mrs Clinton will formally accept the party's nomination.

However, the Clinton campaign has remained tight-lipped about its search for a vice-president.

US Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and US Senator Tim Kaine during a campaign rally in Virginia.

Senator Kaine has emerged as a favourite pick for the job

Senator Kaine, the former governor of Virginia, could be a boon to Mrs Clinton among white male voters and independents.

The 58-year-old was elected to the Senate in 2012 after serving as the governor of Virginia from 2006 to 2010.

Mr Kaine is fluent in Spanish and a proponent of free trade, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), which Mr Trump has railed against throughout his campaign.

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack is also considered a top contender for the number two spot.

Mr Vilsack, 65, is a former governor of Iowa and has been President Barack Obama's agriculture secretary since 2009.

Senator Booker, the former mayor of Newark, New Jersey, would be the first African-American vice presidential nominee.

The New Jersey senator, who boasts a massive online following, appeared with other Democrats in Cleveland after the Republican National Convention ended.

"I'm happy to do what the coach asks me to do," said Booker, referring to Mrs Clinton.

Labour Secretary Perez has also supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership but also has criticised Nafta.

He would become the first Hispanic candidate to take on the role for the Democratic party.

Source: bbc.com

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22/Jul/2016

US Election 2016: Trump seals Republican nomination

Donald Trump has officially clinched the Republican nomination for US president as speakers hammered Democrat Hillary Clinton on day two of the Republican National Convention.

Mr Trump is expected to accept the nomination on Thursday after state delegates formally selected him.

The theme of Tuesday in Cleveland was "Make America Work Again".

However, the speakers focused almost exclusively on attacking Mrs Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a former prosecutor, held a mock trial for Mrs Clinton as the crowd chanted "lock her up".

Mr Christie and others criticised Mrs Clinton's use of a private email account while she was serving as secretary of state.

An FBI investigation said she was "extremely careless" but found her actions didn't warrant criminal prosecution.

But Mr Christie and and the crowd disagreed as Mr Christie repeatedly yelled "guilty".

He said she has "selfish, awful judgement" and was to blame for various foreign policy problems in Libya, Syria and elsewhere.

Mr Trump's children also played a prominent role on Tuesday, standing with the New York delegation as he was declared winner and delivering remarks.

As it happened: Clinton dominates day two

Under the skin of Trump country

Why the Melania plagiarism row matters

Republicans react to Melania 'distraction'


At the scene - Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Cleveland

The result hasn't really been in doubt for months, but now it's a reality. The Republican Party's nomination for president of the United States is Donald Trump's to accept when he takes the stage on Thursday night.

Thanks to a bit of procedural manoeuvring, it was New York that gave him the winning margin in the state-by-state roll call vote. His oldest son, Donald Trump Jr, voice wavering with emotion, made it official.

"Congratulations, Dad, we love you," he said.

As a band blared the song New York, New York, the jumbo screens in this converted basketball arena proclaimed "Over the Top" with exploding gold fireworks.

Perhaps there was no more fitting way to announce the elevation of the latest Republican standard-bearer, the real-estate mogul who confesses to being a bit "braggadocious" and whose rise has roiled the party establishment and turned conventional wisdom on its head.

A tough general election fight against Hillary Clinton awaits. Conventional wisdom is the odds are long, but they aren't any more remote than what Mr Trump has already overcome to get to this point.


Mr Trump youngest daughter Tiffany Trump, whose mother is former model and dancer Marla Maples told some personal stories about her father.

She recalled scribbling notes in her school report cards and how excited she becomes when introducing him to her friends.

Her father is a "natural-born encourager" who has motivated her to work hard, she said.

His son Donald Trump Jr described him as his best friend and role model.

"When people tell him it can't be done, that guarantees it will get done," he said of his father.

He said Mrs Clinton was a risk the US cannot afford to take and that "if she were elected, she would be the first president who can't pass a background check".

Mr Trump addressed the audience via a live-stream and said the nomination was an honour.

"This is a movement, but we have to go all the way," he said. "This is going to be a leadership that puts American people first."


A convention - all you need to know

1. What's the point? Each party formally nominates its candidates for president and vice president, and the party unveils its party platform, or manifesto.

2. Who is going? There are 2,472 delegates attending, selected at state and congressional district conventions, and representing each US state and territory. Plus 15,000 journalists and thousands of other party grandees, lawmakers and guests.

3. Who isn't going? Some senior figures who don't like Donald Trump have stayed away, including two ex-presidents named Bush, former nominee Mitt Romney and Ohio Governor John Kasich.

4. What's the schedule?

  • Wednesday - VP nominee Mike Pence
  • Thursday - Donald Trump, introduced by daughter Ivanka

Source: bbc.com

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20/Jul/2016

US election: Anti-Trump floor vote fails at convention

Anti-Trump delegates have failed in their final push to block Donald Trump's nomination at the party's convention in Cleveland.

A vote that would allow delegates to back a candidate of their choice was quashed when three states reportedly backed out.

Some said the RNC sabotaged their efforts on purpose.

The push was the last gasp for those who hope to see a different Republican candidate get the nomination.

The nomination of Mr Trump has been a source of conflict in the party.


A rebellion quashed - Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Cleveland

It may have been a last gasp. It may have been a death rattle. But the #NeverTrump forces demonstrated on Monday afternoon that there was still some life left in them.

While it's clear that the eventual adoption of the pro-Trump rules was never really in doubt, a roll-call vote would have been an embarrassing show of dissent from the delegates - something Trump's team wanted to avoid at all costs.

Despite their best efforts, however, cracks in the Republican foundation were quite visible at the start of a week in which the party is desperate to put its best foot forward.

Read more: Republican unity frays as convention opens

Pro-Trump supporters

Trump supporters clashed with opponents outside

The long-simmering tensions between Trump and anti-Trump factions in the party broke into open warfare earlier on Monday.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told ABC News "the Republican party has been awfully good to the Bushes and they're showing remarkably little gratitude".

The two former presidents, George HW Bush and George W Bush, have refused to endorse Mr Trump.

Mr Trump has criticised the younger Bush over the Iraq War and the 9/11 attacks, and constantly mocked Florida Governor Jeb Bush during his unsuccessful candidacy.

His top aide Paul Manafort launched a stinging attack on the governor of the state hosting the convention, the popular John Kasich, describing his decision to stay away as an "embarrassment".

Former nominee Mitt Romney has also refused to attend, voicing concerns over Mr Trump's tone and extreme stance on immigration.

Among the speakers due to appear on Monday evening are Mr Trump's wife Melania and Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, on a theme of Make America Safe Again.

The convention begins amid high tensions, a day after a man killed three police officers in Baton Rouge, prompting Mr Trump to say the country was falling apart - a claim strongly disputed by President Barack Obama.

People are not allowed to take guns into Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena, which is hosting the four-day event, or within a secure zone outside.

But some people were photographed openly wearing guns nearby.

Second Amendment supporter Steve Thacker carries an AR-15-style weapon as he talks to the media during a protest

Police want to temporarily ban a law that allows licensed gun owners to carry their weapons in public

Protesters in Cleveland a day before the Republican National Convention is set to begin

Protesters rally outside the Republican National Convention

Cleveland police have asked Ohio's governor to suspend open-carry gun rights during the convention but he said he did not have the power to.

Thousands of federal and state law enforcement officers have descended on the city over the past week in preparation for the convention, ramping up security protocols as delegates, attendees and demonstrators pour into Cleveland.

About 50,000 people are expected to travel to Cleveland during the four-day event, with protests and rallies expected to take place throughout the week.


A convention - all you need to know

1. What's the point? Each party formally nominates its candidates for president and vice president, and the party unveils its party platform, or manifesto.

2. Who is going? There are 2,472 delegates attending, selected at state and congressional district conventions, and representing each US state and territory. Plus 15,000 journalists and thousands of other party grandees, lawmakers and guests.

3. Who isn't going? Some senior figures who don't like Donald Trump have stayed away, including two ex-presidents named Bush, former nominee Mitt Romney and Ohio Governor John Kasich.

4. What's the schedule?

  • Monday speakers - Melania Trump, Senator Joni Ernst, former NYC Mayor Rudi Giuliani
  • Tuesday - House Speaker Paul Ryan, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
  • Wednesday - VP nominee Mike Pence
  • Thursday - Donald Trump, introduced by daughter Ivanka

Source: bbc.com

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18/Jul/2016

Turkey coup arrests hit 6,000 as Erdogan roots out 'virus'

Turkey has arrested 6,000 people after a failed coup, with President Erdogan vowing to purge state bodies of the "virus" that caused the revolt.

Mr Erdogan's top military aide Col Ali Yazici is among those now in custody.

The overall death toll for the weekend violence has risen to 290, the foreign ministry said. More than 100 of those were participating in the coup.

Security forces are reported to have met resistance from some coup plotters who were being arrested.

Warning shots were fired at Istanbul's second largest airport, and also at a military base in central Konya province, unnamed officials said.

"We will continue to cleanse the virus from all state institutions, because this virus has spread. Unfortunately like a cancer, this virus has enveloped the state," Recep Tayyip Erdogan told mourners at a funeral in Istanbul for victims of the coup.

Mr Erdogan broke down in tears while speaking at the funeral of a close political ally, his campaign manager Erol Olcak, and his teenage son. He said he would take the country forward in "unity and solidarity".

The president repeated an accusation that cleric Fethullah Gulen was behind the plot, and called for him to be extradited from the US. Mr Gulen strongly denies any involvement.

Drama not quite over yet - BBC's Selin Gerit in Istanbul

Emotions are running high as funerals for those killed during the coup plot are held. President Erdogan was among those mourning in Istanbul for the brother of one of his closest advisers.

"My glorious nation has given the best response to the coup plotters," Mr Erdogan said in a televised speech frequently interrupted by chants of "God is Great!" Whenever he made a reference to Fethullah Gulen, the roar of boos would come from the crowd.

Turkey has been through a dramatic 48 hours, on a scale even this country - with a turbulent past of three previous coups and a further two military interventions - had never seen before. And it is not totally over yet.

As more than 6,000 have been detained and the expectation that numbers could rise further, one Twitter user commented "this is an opportunity for the governing party to cleanse out all opposition to the presidential system".

Mr Erdogan's critics wonder if he could he make use of the latest events as leverage to push harder for a constitutional change that would further enhance his powers.


People are rallying in cities including Istanbul and Ankara, to show support for the government.

Mr Erdogan told a crowd that Turkey would consider reinstating the death penalty. He said: "In democracies, decisions are made based on what the people say. I think our government will speak with the opposition and come to a decision.

"We cannot delay this anymore because in this country, those who launch a coup will have to pay the price for it."

Capital punishment was abolished in 2004 as part of Turkey's bid to join the European Union. Nobody has been executed in the country since 1984.

Among the latest arrests to be reported was the commander of Incirlik air base in the south used by US-led coalition jets for raids against the so-called Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. Unnamed officials said Gen Bekir Ercan Van and 10 other soldiers had been detained for their role in the coup.

Also on Sunday, more than 50 senior soldiers were detained in the western province of Denizli, including the garrison commander.

Those arrested on Saturday were reported to include Gen Erdal Ozturk, commander of the Third Army; Gen Adem Huduti, commander of the Second Army; and Akin Ozturk, the former Chief of Air Staff.

One of Turkey's most senior judges, Alparslan Altan, has also been taken into custody.

President Erdogan has called on the US to extradite Fethullah Gulen, 75, who heads the popular Hizmet movement and is said to count military chiefs and mid-level bureaucrats among his followers.

Once allies, Mr Erdogan has long accused Mr Gulen and his supporters of plotting against him.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said of any extradition, that Turkey should "present us with any legitimate evidence that withstands scrutiny".

Mr Gulen has denied any involvement in the coup. He has been in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania for the past 15 years, and said: "I don't even know who my followers [in Turkey] are." He suggested Mr Erdogan may have staged the attempted coup himself in an attempt to tighten his grip on power.

Mr Kerry strongly rebuked a Turkish minister who suggested Washington was behind the coup. He said "utterly false" insinuations were "harmful to our bilateral relations".

US President Barack Obama has joined other world leaders in calling for all parties in Turkey to "act within the rule of law".

Source: bbc.com

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17/Jul/2016

Turkey army group announces takeover on TV

An army group in Turkey says it has taken over the country, with soldiers at strategic points in Istanbul and jets flying low in the capital, Ankara.

A statement read on TV said a "peace council" now ran the country and there was a curfew and martial law.

It is unclear who the group is or its level of support. Some top army officials are said to be detained.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would overcome what he called an uprising by a minority.

Read the latest live updates

He told CNN Turk by mobile phone the action was by a "parallel structure" that would bring the necessary response. He has used this term in the past to refer to Fethullah Gulen, a US-based Muslim cleric he accuses of fomenting unrest.

Mr Erdogan called on people to take to the streets to oppose the uprising.

He said: "I urge the Turkish people to convene at public squares and airports. I never believed in a power higher than the power of the people."

Mr Erdogan said he was on his way to Ankara and those involved in the action would pay a heavy price. His office said he was in a secure location.

Supporters of Mr Erodgan turned out on Istanbul's central Taksim Square as reports of the attempted coup emerged.

There have since been reports of clashes there, with some on Twitter saying that gunfire has been heard near the square.

PM Binali Yildirim had earlier denounced an "illegal action" by a military "group", stressing it was not a coup. He said that the government remained in charge.

The military group's statement on national broadcaster TRT, read by an announcer, said that democratic and secular rule of law had been eroded by the current government. There would be new constitution, it said.

A Turkish presidential source told Reuters news agency that the statement was not authorised by the army's command.

There are reports Turkey's top general, General Hulusi Akar, is among those taken hostage at the military HQ.

Mr Yildirim told NTV by telephone: "There was an illegal act by a group within the military that was acting out of the chain of military command. Our people should know that we will not allow any activity that would harm democracy."

Traffic has been stopped from crossing both the Bosphorus and Fatih Sultan Mehmet bridges in Istanbul.

There are reports of gunshots and at least one loud explosion in the capital Ankara. Other reports said soldiers were inside buildings of the Turkish state broadcaster in Ankara.

Gunfire was also heard outside Istanbul police HQ and tanks are said to be stationed outside Istanbul airport. All flights are cancelled, reports say.

One European Union source told Reuters that the military action "looks like a relatively well-orchestrated coup by a substantial body of the military, not just a few colonels".

Visiting Moscow, US Secretary of State John Kerry said he hoped for peace and "continuity" in Turkey.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he was "very concerned" by events.


Turkey's military coups

  • 1993 - Claims of a "covert coup" intended to prevent a peace settlement with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)
  • 1980 - Military coup following armed conflict between right-wing and left-wing groups in the 1970s
  • 1971 - Military coup known as the "coup by memorandum", which the military delivered instead of sending out tanks
  • 1960 - Coup by group of young military officer outside chain of command, against the democratically-elected Democrat Party

Source: bbc.com

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15/Jul/2016

Donald Trump chooses Mike Pence as his running mate

Republican Donald Trump has selected Indiana governor Mike Pence to be his vice-presidential running mate, according to US media reports.

Mr Trump's campaign planned to announce his selection on Friday, but cancelled the event because of the attack in Nice, France.

Sources close to campaign told ABC News that Mr Pence accepted the offer.

However, Mr Trump told Fox News on Thursday evening: "I haven't made my final, final decision."

Mr Trump hopes Mr Pence can help him appeal to the party's conservatives.

Other candidates reportedly in the running were former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.


Analysis: Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, North America Reporter

Mr Pence is the governor of Indiana

Mr Pence is the governor of Indiana

If there's anything resembling a "safe" vice-presidential pick for Donald Trump, Mike Pence is it. He has executive experience as Indiana's governor and a strong legislative resume from his 12 years as a member of the US House of Representatives.

While in Washington, he chaired the Republican Study Group, a coalition of hard-core conservatives, which gives him solid bona fides among the grass-roots Tea Party wing of the party that has occasional doubts about Mr Trump's ideological purity.

Mr Pence also hails from the mid-west, which Mr Trump's team has identified as perhaps the key battleground in his quest for the White House.

In Republican circles Mr Pence's record isn't entirely clean, however. Some on the right have criticised the governor for backing down when the state's "religious liberty" law was challenged by LGBT activists and local businesses last year.

Mr Pence's decision to expand government health-care coverage for Indiana's poor is also considered ideological heresy by some.

The real question, however, is whether Mr Pence has the rhetorical dexterity to both fulfil the traditional running-mate role of political attack dog on the stump and the nominee's most ardent defender.

Read more: Trump opts for safe choice in picking Pence

Profile: Who is Indiana Governor Mike Pence?


Before his current job, Mr Pence, 57, spent 12 years in Washington as a congressman.

His legislative experience and position of governor of a Midwestern state could give Mr Trump advantages in the general election.

The Indiana governor is strongly anti-abortion and signed a religious freedom bill, which some saw as anti-gay, into law.

The campaign hopes that Mr Pence will help boost Mr Trump's image with social conservatives who have been unsettled by Mr Trump's brash persona.

Mr Trump - a New York real estate tycoon who has never held elected office - has said he wants a running mate who could help him work with Congress.

However, Mr Trump and the Indiana governor differ on some key issues including the billionaire businessman's call to ban Muslim from entering the US.

Last year, Mr Pence tweeted that Mr Trump's plan was "offensive and unconstitutional".

He has also expressed support for free trade agreements and was in favour of the war in Iraq, which Mr Trump says he was not.

Mr Pence also criticised Mr Trump for his attacks on Hispanic judge Gonzalo Curiel, who was born in Indiana.

Mr Trump had said Mr Curiel could not possibly rule fairly in a case against him became of his Hispanic heritage.

Source: bbc.com

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14/Jul/2016

Brexit: UK votes to leave EU in historic referendum

The UK has voted to leave the European Union after 43 years in a historic referendum.

Leave won by 52% to 48% with England and Wales voting strongly for Brexit, while London, Scotland and Northern Ireland backed staying in the EU.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage hailed it as the UK's "independence day" but the Remain camp called it a "catastrophe".

The pound fell to its lowest level against the dollar since 1985 as the markets reacted to the results.

The referendum turnout was 71.8% - with more than 30 million people voting - the highest turnout at a UK election since 1992.

Wales and the majority of England outside London voted in large numbers for Brexit.

Labour's Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the Bank of England may have to intervene to shore up the pound, which lost 3% within moments of the first result showing a strong result for Leave in Sunderland and fell as much as 6.5% against the euro.

'Independence day'

UKIP leader Nigel Farage - who has campaigned for the past 20 years for Britain to leave the EU - told cheering supporters "this will be a victory for ordinary people, for decent people".

Mr Farage - who predicted a Remain win at the start of the night after polls suggested that would happen - said Thursday 23 June would "go down in history as our independence day".

He called on Prime Minister David Cameron, who called the referendum but campaigned passionately for a Remain vote, to quit "immediately".

A Labour source said: "If we vote to leave, Cameron should seriously consider his position."

But pro-Leave Conservatives including Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have signed a letter to Mr Cameron urging him to stay on whatever the result.

Labour former Europe Minister Keith Vaz told the BBC the British people had voted with their "emotions" and rejected the advice of experts who had warned about the economic impact of leaving the EU.

He said the EU should call an emergency summit to deal with the aftermath of the vote, which he described as "catastrophic for our country, for the rest of Europe and for the rest of the world".

Germany's foreign minister Frank Walter Steinmeier described the referendum result as as "a sad day for Europe and Great Britain".

But Leave supporting Tory MP Liam Fox said voters had shown great "courage" by deciding to "change the course of history" for the UK and, he hoped, the rest of Europe.

And he called for a "period of calm, a period of reflection, to let it all sink in and to work through what the actual technicalities are," insisting that Mr Cameron must stay on as PM.

Exit process

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that the EU vote "makes clear that the people of Scotland see their future as part of the European Union" after all 32 local authority areas returned majorities for Remain.


Analysis by Prof John Curtice

Remain campaigners

London has voted to stay in the EU by around 60% to 40%.

However, no other region of England has voted in favour of remaining.

The referendum has underlined the social and cultural gap between London and provincial England.

Remain's defeat seems to have been primarily the product of the decisions made by voters living north of the M4.

Throughout the Midlands and the North of England the level of support for Remain was well below what was required for it to win at least 50% of the vote across the UK as a whole.


Britain would be the first country to leave the EU since its formation - but a leave vote will not immediately mean Britain ceases to be a member of the 28-nation bloc.

That process could take a minimum of two years, with Leave campaigners suggesting during the referendum campaign that it should not be completed until 2020 - the date of the next scheduled general election.

Foreign exchange in Tokyo

Traders in Tokyo monitor exchange rates

The prime minister will have to decide when to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which would give the UK two years to negotiate its withdrawal.

Once Article 50 has been triggered a country can not rejoin without the consent of all member states.

Mr Cameron has previously said he would trigger Article 50 as soon as possible after a leave vote but Boris Johnson and Michael Gove who led the campaign to get Britain out of the EU have said he should not rush into it.

But they also said they want to make immediate changes before the UK actually leaves the EU, such as curbing the power of EU judges and limiting the free movement of workers, potentially in breach the UK's treaty obligations.

The government will also have to negotiate its future trading relationship with the EU and fix trade deals with non-EU countries.

In Whitehall and Westminster, there will now begin the massive task of unstitching the UK from more than 40 years of EU law, deciding which directives and regulations to keep, amend or ditch.

The Leave campaign argued during a bitter four-month referendum campaign that the only way Britain could "take back control" of its own affairs would be to leave the EU.

Leave dismissed warnings from economists and international bodies about the economic impact of Brexit as "scaremongering" by a self-serving elite.

Source: bbc.com

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24/Jun/2016

US election: Arrested Briton 'wanted to shoot Donald Trump'

A Briton who tried to grab a police officer's gun at a Donald Trump rally in Las Vegas said he wanted to shoot the US candidate, court papers say.

Michael Steven Sandford, 20, did not enter a plea when he appeared before a judge in Nevada and was remanded in custody until a hearing on 5 July.

He is charged with an act of violence "on restricted grounds".

He had reportedly tried to seize the gun after saying he was seeking Mr Trump's autograph at Saturday's rally.

He said he had been planning to try and shoot Mr Trump for about a year but had decided to act now because he finally felt confident enough to do so, court papers say.

A federal judge found Mr Sandford, who reportedly appeared in court in shackles, to be a danger and risk of non-appearance, and he was ordered detained pending his preliminary hearing.

When asked about the arrest of Michael Sandford, a Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are providing assistance following an arrest of a British national in Las Vegas."

Earlier on Monday, Mr Trump fired his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who oversaw his triumph in the primary contests.

The US presidential election campaign of 2016 has been fringed with violence. Almost everywhere Donald Trump goes he attracts protests.

The tycoon often mocks the demonstrators and there have been clashes with his supporters, both inside and outside of his packed, emotionally charged rallies. For some, the violence has stirred dark memories of 1968 when Democratic presidential contender Robert Kennedy was assassinated and riots broke out at the party's convention in Chicago.

This year events have not descended to those awful depths but still, the country feels edgy and the Secret Service, which guards candidates as well as presidents, has been on high alert.

In March in Ohio agents swarmed around Mr Trump after a man apparently attempted to climb on to the stage where he was speaking. Other events have been cancelled because of security concerns. With five months to go, many Americans are worried about where this election is heading.


'Expected to be killed'

According to the court papers, Mr Sandford said he had never fired a gun before but went to a range in Las Vegas on 17 June to learn how to shoot.

At Saturday's rally at the Treasure Island Casino, he allegedly tried to grab the officer's weapon because it was in an unlocked position and therefore, he said, the easiest way to get a gun to shoot Mr Trump.

Court Documents say Mr Sandford acknowledged he knew he would only be able to fire one or two rounds, and expected to be killed during an attempt on Mr Trump's life.

He told police if he had not tried to kill Mr Trump at this rally he would have tried again at a rally in Phoenix, for which he had already booked tickets, the papers say.

He told investigators he had been in the US for one and a half years, the court papers say.

Court research showed he was unemployed, living out of his car and in the US illegally, the Associated Press news agency reports.

A federal public defender said he had autism and had attempted suicide, the agency adds.

Recent opinion polls suggest Mr Trump is trailing his Democrat opponent Hillary Clinton.

There were reports over the weekend that Mrs Clinton's campaign was ahead in spending in key swing states.

Chart of US polls

Mr Trump's former campaign manager says he still supports his candidacy, despite being sacked.

Corey Lewandowski said the billionaire businessman had changed the way American politics was viewed for the better.

Reports in American media say he clashed with the more traditional strategists Mr Trump has hired recently to try and reshape his operation for the November election.

Mr Trump is facing strong resistance from senior members of his own party over his strident tone, hard-line immigration policy and falling poll numbers.

Americans go to the polls on 8 November to elect a president to succeed Democrat Barack Obama, who is stepping down after two terms in office, which have seen the Republicans gain control of both houses of Congress.

Source: bbc.com

 

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21/Jun/2016

Italy elections: Big wins for Five Star protest party

The anti-establishment Five Star Movement has made big gains in Italy, winning mayoral races in Rome and Turin, early results show.

Virginia Raggi will become Rome's first female leader, in a victory seen as a blow to Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his centre-left Democratic Party (PD).

PD has secured Italy's financial capital, Milan, and Bologna.

The results could give anti-globalist Five Star a platform for parliamentary elections due in 2018, observers say.

Italy local elections were held in two stages, with a first round a fortnight ago and the second round on Sunday.

Ms Raggi, a 37-year-old lawyer who was little known just a few months ago, was on course to win two-thirds of the vote, defeating the PD candidate, Roberto Giachetti.

"I will be a mayor for all Romans. I will restore legality and transparency to the city's institutions after 20 years of poor governance. With us a new era is opening," she said.

Ms Raggi will find a city mired in debts of more than €13bn (£10bn; $15bn) - twice its annual budget.

Romans are frustrated by potholes, piles of rubbish and serious deficiencies in public transport and housing, the BBC's James Reynolds reports from the Italian capital.

When in Rome shake up the politics

Italian anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) Turin mayoral candidate Chiara Appendino on 19 June

Ms Appendino has been elected Turin mayor, early results show

In Turin, another Five Star woman, Chiara Appendino, inflicted an additional blow on the Democratic Party, whose candidate had come out on top in the first round of voting two weeks ago.

Founded by comedian Beppe Grillo in 2009, Five Star has been campaigning against the corruption that has plagued Italian politics for years.

PD's Ignazio Marino resigned as mayor of Rome in October over an expenses scandal. The city has been without a mayor since then.

A much bigger scandal, involving alleged Mafia influence in Rome city hall, has fuelled Five Star's rise.

It is looking to establish itself as the main opposition party in the 2018 general election.

In Naples, Italy's third city, former prosecutor Luigi de Magistris, a centrist, was likely to win a second term.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi during a meeting on 5 May

Prime Minister Renzi has staked his political future on an October referendum in which he wants Italians to back far-reaching constitutional reforms.

Mr Renzi's image has been affected by the struggling economy after years of austerity measures.

The plan is to end Italy's tradition of "revolving-door" governments and inject stability after years of party infighting and legislative logjams.

Source: bbc.com

 

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20/Jun/2016

Jo Cox MP death: Man charged with murder

A man has been charged with murder in connection with the shooting and stabbing of Labour MP Jo Cox.

West Yorkshire Police said Thomas Mair, 52, has been charged with the murder of the 41-year-old.

She was fatally injured outside her constituency surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire, on Thursday.

Mr Mair will appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court later and faces a number of other charges, including grievous bodily harm.

He is further charged with possession of a firearm with intent and possession of an offensive weapon, the force said.

Speaking on Friday, temporary Chief Constable Dee Collins said a 77-year-old man remains in a stable condition in hospital after he was injured when he "bravely intervened" in an effort to help the mother of two.

Vigils were held across the country on Friday evening as members of the public and politicians came together to lay flowers, light candles and stand in silence in memory of Mrs Cox.

Vigil in George Square

Tributes to Jo Cox MP were placed on a memorial in Glasgow's George Square

David cameron and Jeremy Corbyn

David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn laid flowers in tribute to Jo Cox in her constituency of Batley and Spen

The Prime Minister said the whole nation was "rightly shocked" at her death and called for people to "value, and see as precious, the democracy we have on these islands".

Politics is about public service and MPs want to "make the world a better place", he said.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described the former aid worker as "an exceptional, wonderful, very talented woman.... [who] had so much to give and so much of her life ahead of her", during a joint visit to her hometown.

Meanwhile, Downing Street has responded to a Daily Telegraph report that an unnamed female Conservative MP wrote to Mr Cameron last year raising concerns about the safety of her colleagues and attacks on her personally.

'Inadequate protection'

A statement from Number 10 said: "The Prime Minister replied to the letter and voiced deep concern about the attacks she had suffered."

It said "action was taken at the highest levels of government" in response, and the Home Secretary had met the MP and the chief constable of the MP's police force. A new security package for MPs had also been unveiled in January, it added.

Chris Bryant, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, told BBC Newsnight he had warned Westminster authorities about "inadequate protection in their constituencies".

"I've said in terms an MP will be shot. This will happen. And the truth is we all know we can't guarantee that something like this won't happen again but we need to make sure that we've taken all the proper precautions," he said.

"I don't think the system is right to be able to deliver real security... for constituents when they come to a surgery, for staff in MPs offices, for MPs. There needs to be a regular risk assessment."

Tributes have flooded in from across the world to the "humanitarian with political nous".

President Barack Obama offered his condolences and phoned Mrs Cox's husband from Air Force One.

'Zest and energy'

A White House statement said: "The president noted that the world is a better place because of her selfless service to others and that there can be no justification for this heinous crime, which robbed a family, a community, and a nation of a dedicated wife, mother and public servant."

Canadian MP Nathan Cullen, who was a friend of Mrs Cox, broke down with emotion as he paid tribute to the late MP in Canada's House of Commons.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Twitter the killing was an attack on the democratic ideal.

The Remain and Vote Leave sides have suspended national campaigning in light of Mrs Cox's death, while the Prime Minster confirmed Parliament would be recalled on Monday. The House of Lords has also been recalled to pay tribute to Mrs Cox.

Mrs Cox is the first sitting MP to be killed since 1990 when Ian Gow was the last in a string of politicians to die at the hands of Northern Irish terror groups.

She entered Parliament as MP for Batley and Spen in last year's general election.

Labour MP Jo Cox

Jo Cox was elected as Labour MP for Batley and Spen in 2015

She was married to campaigner Brendan Cox and had two young children, with the family dividing its time between its constituency home and a river boat on the Thames.

In a statement, he said: "Jo would have no regrets about her life, she lived every day of it to the full.

"Jo believed in a better world and she fought for it every day of her life with an energy and a zest for life that would exhaust most people."

A fund set up in her memory has raised more than £218,000 for three causes which her family and friends said were close to her heart.

The charities are:

  • The Royal Voluntary Service, to support volunteers helping combat loneliness in Mrs Cox's constituency
  • HOPE not hate, who seek to challenge and defeat the politics of hate and extremism within local communities across Britain
  • The White Helmets who are volunteer search and rescue workers in Syria

Source: bbc.com

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18/Jun/2016

German minister criticises 'warmongering' Nato exercises

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has criticised Nato military exercises in Eastern Europe, accusing the organisation of "warmongering".

Mr Steinmeier said that extensive Nato manoeuvres launched this month were counterproductive to regional security and could enflame tensions with Russia.

He urged the Nato military alliance to replace the exercises with more dialogue and co-operation with Russia.

Nato launched a simulated Russian attack on Poland on 7 June.

The two-week-long drill involves about 31,000 troops, including 14,000 from the US, 12,000 from Poland and 1,000 from the UK.

It will also feature dozens of fighter jets and ships, along with 3,000 vehicles.

"What we shouldn't do now is inflame the situation further through sabre-rattling and warmongering," Mr Steinmeier said in an interview to be published in Germany's Bild am Sontag newspaper.

"Whoever believes that a symbolic tank parade on the alliance's eastern border will bring security, is mistaken.

"We are well-advised to not create pretexts to renew an old confrontation," he said.

The exercises are intended to test Nato's ability to respond to threats, and take place every two years.

But Russia has repeatedly said that Nato troops close to its borders are a threat to its security.

Soldiers take part in Nato military exercises in Ustka, northern Poland, on 16 June, 2016

Troops from Poland, the US, 17 other Nato member nations and from five partner nations are taking part

Source: bbc.com

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18/Jun/2016

Venezuela recall referendum: Voters told to confirm identities

Venezuela's National Electoral Council (CNE) has ruled that 1.3 million people who signed a petition for a referendum to oust President Nicolas Maduro will need to turn up at regional electoral offices to confirm their identity. Venezuela's Electoral Council President Tibisay Lucena said there were many irregularities in the petition.

Voters will have five days from 20 June to have their signatures checked.

The opposition says the CNE is working in tandem with government to slow down the process.

It blames the government for the country's serious economic crisis.

The petition was handed over to the electoral authorities on 2 May.

The opposition said it had the signatures of 1.85 million voters backing a recall referendum, many more than the 197,000 needed at this initial stage. The CNE said there were 1.97 million signatures.

Mr Maduro's government said there was widespread fraud in the process.

It said the names of thousands of dead voters and children were on the petition, which has been confirmed by CNE President Tibisay Lucena.

More than 600,000 signatures have been invalidated by the electoral bodies.

The other voters who signed the petition will need to have their identities checked between 20 and 24 June.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles urged voters to get ready to comply with the CNE demand and go to government offices to have their identities checked later this month.

Ms Lucena warned that the process would be immediately suspended until order was restored if there was "any act of violence, trouble or aggression".

A woman holding her ID cards waits in line to sign a petition to initiate a recall referendum against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in San Cristobal, Venezuela, Wednesday, April 27, 2016.

For the recall referendum to be successful, almost 7.6 million people will have to vote to oust Mr Maduro

  • 1% of voters on the electoral roll have to sign a petition within 30 days to kick-start the process
  • 20% of voters (almost four million) have to sign a second petition in order to trigger the referendum
  • For the referendum to be successful, an equal or greater number of voters than those who elected Mr Maduro would have to cast their vote in favour of the recall - he won the 2013 election with 7,587,579 votes

Source: bbc.com

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11/Jun/2016

Peru election: Kuczynski wins, but Fujimori has yet to concede

With all votes counted, the economist Pedro Pablo Kuczynski appears to have won the majority of votes in Peru's cliff-hanger presidential election.

The electoral commission said he received 50.12% of votes, against 49.88% for his rival, Keiko Fujimori.

About 50,000 ballots must first be settled by an electoral court before a winner can be officially declared.

Ms Fujimori has yet to concede, but Mr Kuczynski tweeted his thanks to the Peruvian people.

"It's time to work together for the future of our country," he told his followers on Twitter

This has been the tightest fought election in Peru in five decades.

As the last few votes were counted, the candidates remained neck-and-neck, with Mr Kuczynski leading by a tiny margin.

Peruvian presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori gestures to followers in Lima, Peru, June 5, 2016.

Keiko Fujimori had led opinion polls for months

The closeness of the result came as a surprise after polls in the run-up to the election had suggested Ms Fujimori had a comfortable lead.

Analysts said corruption scandals in Ms Fujimori's Popular Force Party may have dented her support since April, when she comfortably won the first round of voting.

She is the daughter of Peru's former President, Alberto Fujimori, who is in jail for crimes against humanity.

'Promoting economic growth'

Mr Kuczynski, who is an ex-Wall Street financier, said he would use his international financial experience to promote economic growth.

He has the support of prominent figures such as Nobel-Prize-winning novelist Mario Vargas Llosa and left-wing candidate Veronika Mendoza, who came third in the first round of voting.

But he has faced scrutiny over his close relationship to Peru's business elite.

Source: bbc.com

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09/Jun/2016

Obama officially endorses Hillary Clinton

President Obama has officially endorsed Hillary Clinton as the Democratic Party presidential nominee.

His endorsement came after meeting Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders who has been battling Mrs Clinton for the nomination.

Speaking in a video tweeted out by Mrs Clinton, Mr Obama said she may be the most qualified person "ever" for the role of president.

The two are set to start campaigning together soon.

"I want those of you who've been with me from the beginning of this incredible journey to be the first to know that 'I'm with Her.' I am fired up and cannot wait to get out there and campaign for Hillary," Mr Obama said in the video.

"Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders may have been rivals during this primary, but they're both patriots who love this country and they share a vision for the America that we all believe in."

Tweet by Hillary Clinton

The two ran against one another for the Democratic nomination in 2008 and Mr Obama later made Mrs Clinton secretary of state.

Speaking to Reuters following the endorsement, Mrs Clinton said Mr Obama's endorsement "means the world".

"It is absolutely a joy and an honour that President Obama and I, over the years, have gone from fierce competitors to true friends," she said.

Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump tweeted that Mr Obama's endorsement means he wants "four more years of Obama" and "nobody else does".


Analysis - Anthony Zurcher, BBC News North America reporter

Barack Obama is now in the game. In a slickly produced video endorsement, the president has thrown his support behind Hillary Clinton's bid to keep the White House in Democratic hands.

Given the high production value of the video, the announcement had obviously been in the works for some time. In fact, astute observers have noted that Mr Obama is sporting the tie he wore on Tuesday.

Bernie Sanders has said he will continue to campaign in Washington DC, leading up to the capital city's primary next week - but expect most Democrats to close ranks quickly. The Vermont senator even struck a more conciliatory tone after a meeting at the White House, saying he looks forward to "working together" with the former secretary of state to defeat Donald Trump.

Mr Obama and Mrs Clinton will make their first joint appearance together in Wisconsin next week. Before that she's visiting Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The Democrats clearly view the general election battleground as the industrial Rust Belt states. And for the first time since 1998 there is a popular, scandal-free second-term incumbent president working hard on the campaign trail to preserve his legacy.

What an Obama endorsement will mean for Hillary

Source: bbc.com

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09/Jun/2016

US election 2016: Clinton hails historic moment for women

Hillary Clinton has thanked her supporters for helping her reach a historic moment for women - the Democratic nomination for president.

"Thanks to you, we've reached a milestone," she told cheering crowds at a rally in New York.

She hailed "the first time in our nation's history that a woman will be a major party's nominee".

Earlier Mrs Clinton won the Democratic primary in New Jersey, cementing her hold on her party's nomination.

The AP news agency reported on Monday that Mrs Clinton had enough delegates to qualify as the Democratic nominee.

Six states have been voting in primaries on Tuesday but the race in California will count the most.

Her rival, Bernie Sanders, is hoping for a win in the state, where polls show the race is close.

He aims to sway super delegates to support him instead of Mrs Clinton at the party's convention in July, but commentators say the Vermont Senator is unlikely to succeed in his bid for the nomination.

State graphic

"To every little girl who dreams big: Yes, you can be anything you want—even president. Tonight is for you," Mrs Clinton tweeted following her win in New Jersey.

Speaking in Brooklyn, New York, she said Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump was "temperamentally unfit" to be president.

"My mother… taught me to never back down to a bully. Which turned out to be pretty good advice," she said.


Analysis - Anthony Zurcher, BBC News North America Reporter

In what amounted to a Democratic nomination contest victory speech, Hillary Clinton took some time to acknowledge the historic nature of her achievement. She made reference to the metaphorical glass ceiling that she has now shattered. She referenced the long struggles of the women's rights movement. And she tipped her hat to her Democratic rival, Bernie Sanders.

Then it was on to the work at hand - wrapping Donald Trump's recent controversies around his neck and pitching him into the Hudson River.

If Mrs Clinton has run a joyless primary campaign, it has been in part because she's spent much of it nurturing her built-in advantages within the Democratic Party and playing not to lose. Last week, in a foreign policy speech in San Diego, she went on the attack. And Tuesday night, she continued the broadsides. It's a role that allows her to show considerably more energy and passion.

Earlier in the evening, Mr Trump, speaking from a Teleprompter, focused almost exclusively on economic issues. Gone were references to Muslim immigration bans or border walls. Instead he made an explicit pitch to Bernie Sanders supporters and other Americans disaffected by the current state of the US political system.

It was the kind of primary night speech that will be well received by Republicans politicians who have spent the last week in a cave or a coma. The rest of the party faithful will likely be more inclined to wait and see.


While Mrs Clinton won in New Jersey, South Dakota and New Mexico, Mr Sanders found victory in the North Dakota caucuses.

Meanwhile Mr Trump won in his party's vote in New Jersey, South Dakota, New Mexico, California and Montana.

The billionaire turned his attention to the election in November in his remarks at Trump National Golf Club in Briarcliff Manor, New York.

"We're only getting started and it's gonna be beautiful," he said.

Source: bbc.com

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07/Jun/2016

Donald Trump: Illegals treated better than US veterans

Illegal immigrants in the US often get better care than the nation's military veterans, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has said.

"We're not going to allow that to happen any longer," he told a bikers' rally in Washington DC.

Mr Trump did not provide any evidence for his assertion.

Last year, the billionaire sparked anger by attacking the military record of Senator John McCain, a former prisoner of war.

Mr Trump said Sen McCain was only considered a hero because he was a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War.

He then added: "I like people who weren't captured."

Since then Mr Trump, who never served in the military, has tried to repair the damage by frequently honouring veterans at his rallies and holding fundraising events for them.

His latest comments came at the annual Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally on Sunday, which was dedicated to remembering POWs and those missing in action.

Despite previous criticism, many in the crowd cheered Mr Trump.

"What I like about Trump is that he is one of us. He's not a politician," 52-year-old Louis Naymik was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.

Mr Trump - who has made controversial comments on a number of issues - was speaking ahead of the 7 June California primary.

He is running unopposed in California after his Republican rivals pulled out and he reached the number of delegates needed to secure the nomination. It has yet to be formalised.

The Associated Press says Congress and many states have written an assortment of laws and policies designed to restrict government services to people in the country illegally.

Source: bbc.com

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29/May/2016

The Democrats' election nightmare

Some Democrats have a nightmare that takes them back to Florida 16 years ago, and the time of the 'hanging chads'.

It was the presidential election decided in that state by 537 votes after weeks of counting, amid arguments over the ragged fragments of ballots not punched free in the voting machines. Those pesky chads.

The villain of the nightmare is the old consumer and green crusader Ralph Nader.

He persisted in his third party campaign through to November, impervious to Democrat accusations of selfish egocentricity, and got nearly 100,000 votes in Florida.

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Election workers look over a ballot in Florida during the 2000 presidential election

With less than one per cent of votes for Nader, cast overwhelmingly by liberal-left voters, Al Gore would have won the state for the Democrats, and vote in the state-by-state electoral college.

President George W Bush would never have been.

The figure who hovers in this dream as a white-haired ghost is of course, Bernie Sanders.

Might he be the spoiler for Hillary Clinton which gives Donald Trump the White House?

'Defeat Trump by defeating Clinton'

The fear of senior Democrats is not that he makes a Nader-style independent run - it would make no sense at all - but simply that he poisons the well, and has the same effect in the end.

He's not giving up, although mathematically his chance of the nomination has gone.

He tells his huge rallies that the only way to defeat Trump is to defeat Clinton, and many of his followers believe him. I walked with a few hundred of them through San Diego.

'Feel the Bern'

They were a mixture of hardcore liberals, students, cragged hippies (wearing jeans that look as though they have seen service in '68), a man selling socialist pamphlets, and Aztec dancers who were asked to bless the march, which they did to a drumbeat that gave our microphone a few problems.

'Feel the Bern!' they cried.

It's a movement, without doubt. Fired by the spirit of the Occupy Wall Street campaign, and a belief that Hillary Clinton is the child of a rotten establishment, they sing the Sanders songs.

Hillary Clinton says race against Bernie Sanders is 'done'

US election: Sanders vows to fight on 'until the last vote is cast'

Bernie Sanders: 'We must defeat Donald Trump'

US election: What will Clinton v Trump look like?

They are happy because, exactly like the Trump army on the other side, they are an insurgency which has surprised everyone.

But it perplexes Democrats who know how tough it will be when the campaign against Trump is truly joined.

Vice-chair of the California Democrats Eric Bauman told me that on 95% of the important questions, Clinton and Sanders held views that were nearly indistinguishable.

So why fight so hard and in increasingly fractious language?

California Senator and party elder Diane Feinstein has warned that they "can't afford a disruptive convention like 1968" (when anti war protestors were tear gassed in the streets of Chicago).

She was speaking after a state convention in Nevada where there was chair throwing in the course of a row about delegate selection.

I spoke to Stephanie Miller, the liberal talk-show host and comedienne who broadcasts from her home in the Hollywood hills.

She said that Karl Rove, the master Republican strategist had not bothered to turn his attention to Sanders yet.

"Imagine what he would do to a 73-year-old socialist Jew from Vermont!" she tells me, in the midst of a passionate assault on Trump, whom she described as "a racist, bigot and misogynist" and someone who reminded her of Hitler.

'Fight goes on'

Yet Bernie soldiers on. He addresses vast rallies and he is tramping the valleys of California, scene of the last primary, in the hope of inflicting a final, embarrassing (though unlikely) defeat on Clinton, who's having to fight him with millions of dollars that she had hoped to keep for the campaign proper against Trump.

The nomination is all but locked up, but the internal party fight goes on.

Now, let's be clear that most of the Sanders voters in the primaries are bound to vote Democrat in November, whatever their feelings about candidate Clinton.

But how many won't?

And in supporting an increasingly sour Sanders attack on her, how far will they help to fuel the feelings of undecided voters who, for one reason or another stretching back 25 years, have never warmed to her?

'Honk for Bernie'

His persistence is doing her damage, and some of it will last.

Such concerns seem far away to his supporters on the streets of San Diego. They continue to ask drivers to 'Honk for Bernie.'

Some of them said cheerfully that they could never vote for her. They would stay away on 1 November.

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Donald Trump has already turned his attention to Hillary Clinton

And who knows, the polls may tighten as Republicans rally behind Trump, however reluctantly.

He's already beginning to tailor his message to try to pull in disaffected Democrats.

And if it works as it has done so far this year, some Sanders supporters will find themselves in November with walk-on parts in the Democrats' nightmare.

Source: bbc.com

 

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26/May/2016

Austria to vote in run-off between far-right and independent

The European Union could see its first far-right president if Norbert Hofer wins the second, run-off round of the Austrian election.

The Freedom Party candidate faces an independent, Alexander Van der Bellen, who has the backing of the Greens.

Mr Hofer topped the first vote but fell well short of an outright majority.

For the first time since World War Two, both the main centrist parties were knocked out in the first round, amid concerns over the migrant crisis.

Ninety-thousand people claimed asylum in Austria last year, equivalent to about 1% of the Austrian population, and the Freedom Party has run a campaign against immigration.

While the presidency is a largely ceremonial post, the president has powers to dismiss the government.


Europe will be watching: Bethany Bell, BBC News, Vienna

Austria is faced with a stark choice for its head of state: a Green Party professor, Alexander Van der Bellen, or Norbert Hofer of the far-right Freedom Party - a soft-spoken, charismatic gun enthusiast who won a decisive victory in the first round of voting in April.

For the first time since the Second World War, the traditional parties of the centre left and centre right were knocked out of the race.

Support for the Freedom Party has risen because of deep frustration with the established parties and, more recently, because of fears about the migrant crisis.

Rightwing parties are gaining strength in a number of EU countries. European leaders will be watching the result closely.

Read more from Bethany

Country profile


In the first round, Mr Hofer secured 35% of the votes, while Mr Van der Bellen, polled 21%.

At his final election rally on Friday in Vienna, Mr Hofer, 45, sought to hammer home his message that immigrants needed to integrate.

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Norbert Hofer mingled with supporters in Vienna on Friday

"Those people who respect and love Austria and have found a new home here are warmly welcome," he said to applause.

"But those, it has to be said, those who do not value our country, who fight for Islamic State, or who rape women, I say to these people: this is not your homeland. You cannot stay in Austria."

The presidents of the European Commission and the European Parliament, Jean-Claude Juncker and Martin Schulz, have both expressed concern that Mr Hofer could win.

http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/624/cpsprodpb/673A/production/_89762462_033046674-1.jpg

Alexander Van der Bellen held his last rally in Vienna

"I say to them very politely but firmly: we don't take orders from Brussels or Berlin," Mr Hofer said at the rally.

Mr Van der Bellen, 72, told his final rally in Vienna that it was likely to be a close race.

"I think it could be on a knife edge - fifty-fifty who will win, so this time, as with previous votes, but more than ever for this important election, every vote will count," he said.

At a news conference, he reflected: "As you know, I am 72 years old and I've experienced how Austria rose from the ruins of World War Two, caused by the madness of nationalism."

The two rivals had engaged in an angry TV debate earlier in the week, described as "political mud-wrestling" by commentators.

First round shock

Such was the political shock at the far right's first-round win that the Chancellor (prime minister), Werner Faymann, resigned after losing the support of his Social Democratic party colleagues.

The Social Democrats and the People's Party have governed Austria for decades, either alone or in coalition.

At the last general election in 2013, they together won just enough votes to govern in a "grand coalition".

Incumbent President Heinz Fischer, 77, could not run again after two terms in office.

Source: bbc.com

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21/May/2016

Taiwan's Tsai Ing-wen sworn in as first female president

Tsai Ing-wen has been sworn in as the new president of Taiwan, becoming its first female leader and calling for "positive dialogue" with Beijing.

Ms Tsai, seen as an unassuming but determined leader, led the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to a landslide win in elections in January.

The DPP has traditionally leaned towards independence from China, which sees Taiwan as a breakaway province.

In the past, it has threatened to take the island by force if necessary.

It still has hundreds of missiles pointing towards the island.

Taiwan, the place to be a woman in politics

Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan's shy but steely leader

Cats, K-pop and trolls: Tsai's strange first week

China and economy among Tsai's challenges

What's behind the China-Taiwan divide?

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Chen Chien-jen was sworn in as vice-president, in front of a portrait of Sun Yat-sen, the founder of the Republic of China

Ms Tsai, 59, swore the presidential oath in front of the national flag, before being presented with the official seal.

She and outgoing President Ma Ying-jeou then came out to wave at the crowds watching on screens outside the presidential building.

In her inaugural speech, she said Taiwanese people had shown they were "committed to the defence of our freedom and democracy as a way of life".

The "stable and peaceful development of the cross-Strait relationship must be continuously promoted", she said, calling on both sides to "set aside the baggage of history, and engage in positive dialogue, for the benefit of the people on both sides".


Speech likely to irk China: Cindy Sui, BBC News, Taipei

What Ms Tsai said in her speech is unlikely to satisfy Beijing. It sees eventual unification with the island as non-negotiable.

With tensions rising in the South China Sea, Beijing is also keen for Taiwan to be its ally rather than be aligned with rival claimants to the disputed islets in the sea.

What may also irk China is her focus on Taiwan's democracy and freedom - saying it's every Taiwanese person's responsibility to safeguard this.

This is a clear message to Beijing that Taiwanese people cherish these characteristics of their society and their self-rule more than economic ties with China, even if the mainland is the island's biggest trade partner and export market.

Democracy and freedom to Beijing mean pro-independence, so China will likely continue to distrust Ms Tsai.

Ms Tsai's election win was only the second ever for the DPP - the Kuomintang (KMT) has been in power for most of the past 70 years.

But Mr Ma lost public support over his handling of the economy, the widening wealth gap, as well as what many say was too friendly an approach to Beijing.

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Ms Tsai and her predecessor Ma Ying-jeou then came out together to greet the public

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A military parade and a display of Taiwanese history are being held in the capital in celebration

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The event involves thousands of military personnel as well as schoolchildren and artistic performances

Source: bbc.com

 

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20/May/2016

9/11 bill passes US Senate despite Saudi 'warning'

A bill that would allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi government has passed a key hurdle in the US Senate.

The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) now moves to the House of Representatives.

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister warned that the move could cause his government to withdraw US investments.

President Barack Obama said he will veto the bill, but a Democratic senator is "confident" he'd be overruled.

If it became law the legislation would allow victims' families to sue any member of the government of Saudi Arabia thought to have played a role in any element of the attack.

Saudi Arabia denies any involvement in the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, which killed nearly 3,000 people.

Fifteen out of the nineteen hijackers in 2001 were Saudi citizens.

In 2004 the 9/11 Commission Report found "no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organisation".

A White House spokesman said President Obama had serious concerns about the bill, and it was difficult to imagine he would sign it into law.

It was sponsored by Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer of New York and Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas and is expected to be passed by the House of Representatives as well.


Analysis - Barbara Plett Usher, BBC News, Washington

The 9/11 bill puts Congress on a collision course with the Obama administration, which has lobbied intensely against it.

The White House argues the legislation would remove the sovereign immunity that prevents lawsuits against governments, and could expose Americans to a legal backlash overseas.

For Congress, however, this is about fighting terrorism and pursuing justice for victims, and there is unusual bipartisan support for the bill. Some of its most outspoken supporters are Democrats who are confident that Congress has the necessary two-thirds vote to override a presidential veto.

There is no evidence to support claims that Saudi officials provided financial support to the hijackers, although some believe a classified section of the report into the 9/11 attacks might show otherwise.

But Congress is also playing to the strong emotions triggered by this dispute - the relative of a victim recently told the New York Times it was "stunning" to think the government would back the Saudis over its citizens. One suspects many Americans might agree.


Senator Schumer said: "Today the Senate has spoken loudly and unanimously that the families of the victims of terror attacks should be able to hold the perpetrators even if it's a country a nation accountable.

"It will serve as a deterrent and warning to any other nation who assists in terror attacks against American."

He said he was confident the bill would be passed by a large margin in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia denied it had threatened to sell its US bonds, which would pull billions of dollars from the US economy.

"We said that a law like this is going to cause investor confidence to shrink," Foreign Minister Ahmed Al-Jubeir said while attending a conference in Geneva. "Not just for Saudi Arabia, but for everybody".

Last year an inmate in US custody, Zacarias Moussaoui, claimed that a Saudi prince had helped finance the attack that flew passenger planes into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Virginia.

A fourth plane crashed into an empty field in western Pennsylvania.

Saudi Arabia had rejected the accusation from a "deranged criminal" with no credibility.

Source: bbc.com

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17/May/2016

Four more ways the CIA has meddled in Africa

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has a long history of involvement in African affairs, so Sunday's reports that the 1962 arrest of Nelson Mandela came following a CIA tip-off don't come as a huge surprise. Nelson Mandela was imprisoned in 1962 and later convicted of trying to violently overthrow the government.

Most incidents came during the Cold War, when the US and the Soviet Union battled for influence across the continent.

CIA covert operations are by their very nature hard to prove definitively. But research into the agency's work, as well as revelations by former CIA employees, has thrown up several cases where the agency tried to influence events.

Here are four examples:


1) 1961 - Patrice Lumumba's assassination in Congo

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Patrice Lumumba became the first prime minister of the newly-independent Congo in 1960, but he lasted just a few months in the job before he was overthrown and assassinated in January 1961.

In 2002, former colonial power Belgium admitted responsibility for its role in the killing, however, the US has never explained its role despite long-held suspicions.

US President Dwight D Eisenhower, concerned about communism, was worried about Congo following a similar path to Cuba.

According to a source quoted in Death in the Congo, a book about the assassination, President Eisenhower gave "an order for the assassination of Lumumba. There was no discussion; the [National Security Council] meeting simply moved on".

However, a CIA plan to lace Lumumba's toothpaste with poison was never carried out, Lawrence Devlin, who was a station chief in Congo at the time, told the BBC in 2000.

A survey of declassified US government documents from the era notes that the CIA "initially focussed on removing Lumumba, not only through assassination if necessary but also with an array of non-lethal undertakings".

While there is no doubt the CIA wanted him dead, the survey does not indicate direct US involvement in his eventual killing.


2) 1965 - Overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana

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Ghana's first President Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown in a military coup in 1966 while he was out of the country.

He later suspected that the US had a role in his downfall and in a 1978 book, former CIA intelligence officer John Stockwell backed this theory up.

In In Search of Enemies he writes that an official sanction for the coup does not appear in CIA documents, but he writes "the Accra station was nevertheless encouraged by headquarters to maintain contact with dissidents.

"It was given a generous budget, and maintained intimate contact with the plotters as a coup was hatched."

He says that the CIA in Ghana got more involved and its operatives were given "unofficial credit for the eventual coup".

A declassified US government document does show awareness of a plot to overthrow the president, but does not indicate any official backing.

Another declassified document written after the coup describes Nkrumah's fall as a "fortuitous windfall. Nkrumah was doing more to undermine our interests than any other black African".


3) 1970s - Opposition to the MPLA in Angola

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In Angola three competing groups fought for control after independence from Portugal in 1975, with the MPLA under Agostinho Neto taking over the capital Luanda.

Mr Stockwell, chief of CIA's covert operations in Angola in 1975, writes that Washington decided to oppose the MPLA, as it was seen as closer to the Soviet Union, and support the FNLA and Unita instead, even though all three had help from communist countries.

The CIA then helped secretly import weapons, including 30,000 rifles, through Kinshasa in neighbouring Zaire, now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mr Stockwell says in a video documentary.

He adds that CIA officers also trained fighters for armed combat.

A declassified US government document detailing a discussion between the head of the CIA, the secretary of state and others indicates the support the CIA gave to the forces fighting the MPLA.

The US continued to support Unita through much of the civil war as Cuba was backing the MPLA.


4) 1982 - Supporting Hissene Habre in Chad

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Hissene Habre failed in his attempt to take power by force in Chad in 1980.

But his efforts led President Goukouni Oueddei to call on help from the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, whose soldiers successfully beat back Habre's challenge and forced him into exile.

A proposed alliance between Libya and Chad began to unsettle the US especially as Gaddafi began to be seen as a supporter of anti-US activities.

In Foreign Policy magazine Michael Bronner writes that the CIA director, with the secretary of state, "coalesced around the idea of launching a covert war in partnership with Habre".

It is alleged that the US then backed Habre's overthrow of the president in 1982 and then supported him throughout his brutal rule.

Source: bbc.com

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17/May/2016

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton vie for Kentucky and Oregon

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is hoping to keep his campaign alive with strong showings in the Kentucky and Oregon primaries.

Front-runner Hillary Clinton is almost certain to secure the nomination in July, with a significant delegate lead.

She has been campaigning in Kentucky, saying husband and former President Bill Clinton would take charge of revitalising the economy.

Both races could be fairly competitive, national polls predict.

Mrs Clinton has won 94% of delegates needed to win the nomination, a total of 24 states to Mr Sanders' 19.

Republicans will vote in Oregon on Tuesday, but that race is all but decided, with front-runner Donald Trump having pushed out all of his competitors.

The Kentucky Democratic primary will award 60 delegates to go to the party's convention in Philadelphia while Oregon's primary will award 74.

Kentucky's primary is closed, meaning only registered Democratic voters can participate.

In Oregon, voters cast ballots entirely by mail.

Pressure is rising on Mr Sanders, a senator from Vermont who has historically been an independent, not a Democrat, to drop out of the race.

Some Democrats worry that his presence is hurting their chances of beating Mr Trump, a billionaire businessman with no political experience, in the general election in the autumn.

Mr Sanders recently won primaries in Indiana and West Virginia, but that did not help him cut into Mrs Clinton's delegate lead.

"I don't think they think of the downside of this," said Senator Dianne Feinstein, who supports Mrs Clinton.

"It's actually harmful because she can't make that general election pivot the way she should. Trump has made that pivot."

Vice President Joe Biden has said he is confident Mrs Clinton will be the nominee.

Mr Sanders has argued that he still has a path to the Democratic nomination.

On the Republican side, Mr Trump is slowly gaining support among the GOP establishment.

He met House Speaker Paul Ryan last week and the two had a "productive" conversation but Mr Ryan has yet to formally support him.

Mr Trump is only 103 delegates short of the 1,237 needed to clinch the Republican nomination and Mrs Clinton is 143 short of the 2,383 Democratic delegates she needs.

Source: bbc.com

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17/May/2016

Hezbollah killing: Thousands mourn Badreddine at Beirut funeral

Thousands of people have attended the funeral in Lebanon's capital, Beirut, of top Hezbollah military commander Mustafa Amine Badreddine.

He died in an explosion near Damascus airport, the Lebanon-based group said, adding it would announce "within hours" its report into the killing.

Hezbollah has sent thousands of troops to support Syria's President Assad.

In 2015, the US said that Badreddine was behind all Hezbollah's military operations in Syria since 2011.

He was also charged with leading the assassination of former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri in Beirut in 2005.

Obituary: Mustafa Badreddine

Profile: Lebanon's Hezbollah

Who stands accused of Hariri killing?

Images from the funeral showed the coffin being carried among a mass of supporters in the southern suburbs of Beirut, some of them chanting "Death to America" and Shia slogans.

The BBC's Quentin Sommerville, in the capital, says some at the funeral blamed Israel for the killing, with one mourner saying: "Hezbollah has many spies."

Another said that without Badreddine, "Daesh [another name for so-called Islamic State] would be here".


A thousand conspiracy theories: Quentin Sommerville, BBC News, Beirut

The crowd at the funeral pointed the finger at the usual suspect. Who carried out the attack, I asked three young women in black abayas: "Israel!" they replied in unison.

But the circumstances around Mustafa Badreddine's death are unclear, and have already sparked a thousand conspiracy theories.

It appears he was the militant group's top commander in Syria. Hezbollah is already stretched thin there, more than 1,600 of its fighters have been killed, and the pictures of its fresh "martyrs" increasingly show very young, or older men, rather than fighters in their prime. The group has promised to retaliate, but that will be difficult. It is already preoccupied in Syria.

And despite a pledge to avenge the death of its previous military commander, Imad Mughniyeh, killed in Damascus in 2008, it failed to do so. Mughniyeh was Badreddine's brother-in-law, the two men are now buried side by side in the same cemetery in Beirut's southern suburbs.


What do we know of the killing?

An initial report by Lebanon's al-Mayadeen TV said that Badreddine, 55, had died in an Israeli air strike. But a later statement by Hezbollah on al-Manar's website did not mention Israel.

Israel's government traditionally refuses to comment on such deaths and has done so again.

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Hezbollah deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem spoke at the funeral, flanked on his right by leader Hassan Nasrallah

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Hezbollah says it will soon report on who it believed killed Badreddine

But Israel has been accused by Hezbollah of killing a number of its fighters in Syria since the conflict began.

The group was established in the wake of the Israeli occupation of Lebanon in the early 1980s, and has called for the "obliteration" of Israel.

Asked who might have carried out the attack, Hezbollah deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem said that, within hours "we will announce in detail the cause of the explosion and the party responsible for it", adding there were clear indications of those responsible.

One Hezbollah MP in Lebanon, Nawar al-Saheli, said: "This is an open war and we should not pre-empt the investigation but certainly Israel is behind this. The resistance will carry out its duties at the appropriate time."

Yaakov Amidror, a former national security adviser to Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said: "We don't know if Israel is responsible for this. Remember that those operating in Syria today have a lot of haters without Israel.

"But from Israel's view, the more people with experience, like Badreddine, who disappear from the wanted list, the better."

However, any of the armed groups seeking to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad might have have sought to kill the man co-ordinating Hezbollah military activities.

What is Badreddine's background?

Born in 1961, Badreddine is believed to have been a senior figure in Hezbollah's military wing. He was a cousin and brother-in-law of Imad Mughniyeh, who was the military wing's chief until his assassination by car bomb in Damascus in 2008.

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Badreddine was on a US sanctions list

According to one report, a Hezbollah member interrogated by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), described Badreddine as "more dangerous" than Mughniyeh, who was "his teacher in terrorism".

They are alleged to have worked together on the October 1983 bombing of the US Marine Corps barracks in Beirut that killed 241 personnel.

Badreddine is reported to have sat on Hezbollah's Shura Council and served as an adviser to the group's overall leader Hassan Nasrallah.

An indictment from the ongoing Special Tribunal for Lebanon in The Hague details Badreddine's role in bombings in Kuwait in 1983, that targeted the French and US embassies and other facilities, and killed six people.

He was sentenced to death over the attacks, but later escaped from prison.

Was he involved in the killing of Hariri?

Badreddine was tried in absentia by the Hague tribunal over the killing of Rafik Hariri.

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Former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri was killed in a huge explosion in Beirut in February 2005

He was indicted on four charges and was said by the tribunal to be "the overall controller of the operation" to kill Mr Hariri.

Three other Hezbollah members also stand accused of their role in the assassination.

One mourner at the funeral asked about Badreddine's involvement said simply "lies".

What is Hezbollah doing in Syria?

The Lebanese Shia Islamist movement has played a major role in helping Iran, its main military and financial backer, to prop up the government of President Assad since the uprising erupted in 2011.

Thousands of Hezbollah fighters are assisting government forces on battlefields across Syria, particularly those near the Lebanese border, and hundreds are believed to have been killed.

 Source: bbc.com

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13/May/2016

US election: Trump and Ryan 'totally committed' to party unity

Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan have said they are "totally committed" to party unity in a statement following their meeting.

The two are trying to find common ground after Mr Ryan said he could not endorse the presumptive Republican nominee.

He has said the businessman lacked conservative principles.

"We had a great conversation this morning," the two wrote in a joint statement.

"While we were honest about our few differences, we recognise that there are also many important areas of common ground."

They said they would be having "additional discussions" but think they can unify the party and win the election.

At a press conference following the meeting, Mr Ryan said he was "very encouraged" by what he heard from Mr Trump.

Trump v Paul Ryan - the split explained

How Trump captures the White House

Trump softens stance on Muslim ban

Mr Trump arrived for the meeting at the Republican National Committee (RNC) headquarters in Washington amid protesters brandishing placards.


Analysis - Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

Paul Ryan sounds like a man trying to make peace with his shotgun marriage. Sure, the circumstances are unfortunate, but maybe life together won't be that bad.

The House speaker, who once condemned Trump's proposed Muslim ban as "not conservatism", now says there are "core principles" of conservatism that tie them together. They both love the Constitution, it seems, and they're all about the separation of powers between the branches of government.

Beyond that? Who knows. Mr Ryan declined to go into details during his Thursday press conference, instead talking about the processes being started, seeds being planted and differences being bridged.

It was not the endorsement, full-throated or otherwise, that Mr Trump desires, but it was a first step toward the reconciliation of a party that desperately wants to win back the White House in November.

If Mr Ryan eventually makes peace with what he called a "whole new wing" of the Republican Party that Mr Trump represents, this desire for power - for a prize that has been denied Republicans for two straight presidential elections - will be the driving force behind it.


Afterwards, RNC chairman Reince Priebus, who mediated the talks in his office, said it was a success.

Reince Priebus tweet

In December 2015, Mr Ryan harshly criticised Mr Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from entering the US.

He said it was "not what this party stands for and more importantly it's not what this country stands for".

But on Wednesday, Mr Trump appeared to soften, saying it was "just a suggestion".

Mr Ryan, who ran as 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's vice president, clashes with Mr Trump on many issues, including religious freedom and trade.

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Mr Trump has said he would be fine without Mr Ryan's support

He has remained popular on Capitol Hill, after being urged to take over as Speaker of the House of Representatives in the autumn.

Many who view him as a more electable figure than Mr Trump have urged him - in vain - to run for president.

But more Republicans are throwing their support behind Mr Trump, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The New Yorker is one of the least politically experienced nominees in US history, having never held elected office.

That outsider status has appealed to voters who feel let down by Washington.

A recent Gallup Poll shows that two in three Republican-leaning voters view Mr Trump favourably.

But protests have plagued his campaign, with particular focus on his plan to build a wall on the Mexican border and deport 11 million undocumented immigrants.


Top Republicans divided over Trump

Supporting:

  • New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte
  • Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson
  • New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
  • Former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal
  • Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
  • Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval
  • Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker
  • Former Texas Governor Rick Perry
  • Florida Senator Marco Rubio

Not supporting:

  • House Speaker Paul Ryan
  • Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush
  • Former President George H W Bush
  • Former President George W Bush
  • Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney
  • Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse

Yet to comment:

  • Texas Senator Ted Cruz
  • Ohio Governor John Kasich

Source: bbc.com

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12/May/2016

How Donald Trump captures the White House

In the week since Donald Trump effectively secured the Republican presidential nomination, a great deal of ink and airtime have been devoted to explaining why he will have a difficult time winning the presidency in the autumn.

The Republican Party is too badly divided. His rhetoric is too incendiary. Republican voters may be "idiots", but the general public is wiser. The US electoral map, which places a premium on winning key high-population "swing" states, is tilted against the Republican Party.

About that last point. On Tuesday a survey of three key swing states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - revealed a virtual dead heat between the two likely standard-bearers.

Those states - which account for 67 electoral votes - all went for Democrat Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. Add them to the states Republican Mitt Romney carried in 2012, and it delivers 273 electoral votes - three more than the 270 necessary to win the presidency.

Throw in a national tracking poll released on Wednesday that has Donald Trump surging to within striking distance of Hillary Clinton, and it's a recipe for acute hyperventilation on the part of Democrats.

But… but… but… cooler-heads respond.

The Reuters/Ipsos national poll, which has Mrs Clinton ahead 41% to Mr Trump's 40% and 19% undecided, was conducted online.

That Quinnipiac swing-state poll oversampled white voters - a demographic group that is more inclined to Republicans. In addition, it doesn't represent that big a shift from the group's battleground-state poll from last autumn, which undermines the theory that Mr Trump's support is growing.

The news caused election guru Nate Silver to go on a Twitter tirade, asserting that it's way too early to start gaming out the state-by-state electoral map based on opinion polls.

"The election will go through a lot of twists and turns, and polls are noisy," he writes. "Don't sweat individual polls or short-term fluctuations."

Sweating polls is what US pundits and commentators do, however. And at the very least, signs that Mr Trump is within reach of Mrs Clinton should cast doubts on the early predictions that the Democrats will win in the autumn by historic, Goldwater-esque margins. Mr Trump has a pathway to the presidency.

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Several recent polls show Hillary Clinton may be in for a tight general election race against Donald Trump

He may not get there. It is not the most likely outcome. But it's real.

That linchpin of a Trump victory centres on the so-called Rust Belt - states like the aforementioned Pennsylvania and Ohio, as well as Michigan and Wisconsin. Even if Florida, due to its rapidly growing Hispanic population, goes to Mrs Clinton, Mr Trump could still win if he sweeps those states.

It's a strategy that Mr Trump already appears to understand.

"We'll win places that a lot of people say you're not going to win, that as a Republican you can't win," Mr Trump said at an April rally in Indiana. "Michigan is a great example; nobody else will go to Michigan. We're going to be encamped in Michigan because I think I can win it."

The challenge for Mr Trump is that the mid-west, particularly, Wisconsin and Michigan, have served as a Democratic firewall that Republicans have been unable to penetrate since 1988.

"These states constantly intrigue Republican presidential strategists because the Democratic advantage in them depends largely on an act of political levitation: the ability to consistently win a slightly greater share of working-class white voters here than almost anywhere else," writes the Atlantic's Ronald Brownstein.

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Disaffected white voters could be the key to unlocking the mid-west for Mr Trump

If Mr Trump is to find success, then, he likely will have to finally win over this stubborn portion of the mid-western electorate or, perhaps, energise what Sean Trende of RealClear Politics has called the "missing white voters".

Trende points to a national drop-off more than 3.5 million white voters from the elections of 2008 to 2012, when population growth should have resulted in an increase of 1.5 million.

These voters, he theorised, were largely working-class whites who had previously supported iconoclasts like Ross Perot, the 1992 anti-free-trade independent candidate.

It's the type of voter that Mr Trump, with his populist economic pitch, has been turning out in the Republican primaries.

In 2012 Mr Obama beat Mr Romney by roughly 5 million votes. If Mr Trump can bring those disaffected white voters back to the polls in 2016, it would cut into that margin. If Mrs Clinton is unable to produce the record-setting turnout among young and minority voters that Mr Obama achieved, the gap shrinks further still.

That's a lot of "if's", of course. Young and minority voters - particularly Hispanics - may yet turn out to the polls in high numbers, if only to cast ballots against Mr Trump. There are already indications of record-setting Hispanic voter registration in places like California.

There's also the risk that Mr Trump's reliance on populist rhetoric and controversial views on immigration could lead white-collar voters to favour Mrs Clinton. For every disaffected member of the working-class he brings in, he could lose a suburban mum or college-educated businessman.

Even giving Mr Trump the benefit of the doubt, and viewing the recent polls as a trend and not a blip, there are still more electoral scenarios that end up with Mrs Clinton in the White House come 2017.

For Mr Trump, the political stars have to re-align in his favour. For Mrs Clinton, a general-election status quo likely means victory.

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Mr Trump could win the presidency if he takes key states in the industrial mid-west

Source: bbc.com

 

 

 

 

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12/May/2016

Brazil impeachment: New leader Temer calls for trust

Brazil's new interim President Michel Temer has addressed the nation after the Senate voted to back the impeachment trial of Dilma Rousseff.

"Trust in the values of our people and in our ability to rebuild the economy," Mr Temer said.

He has named a business-friendly cabinet that includes respected former central bank chief Henrique Meirelles as finance minster.

Ms Rousseff denounced her removal as a "farce" and "sabotage".

Mr Temer was the leftist Ms Rousseff's vice-president before withdrawing his party's support in March. She has accused him of involvement in a "coup".

After Wednesday's all-night session that lasted more than 20 hours, senators voted by 55 votes to 22 to suspend her and put her on trial for budgetary violations.

In her final speech on Thursday afternoon, she again denied the allegations and vowed to fight what she called an "injustice" by all legal means.

Mr Temer, 75, has now taken over as president for up to 180 days - the maximum time allowed for the impeachment trial of Ms Rousseff, 68.

He said: "It is urgent to restore peace and unite Brazil. We must form a government that will save the nation."

Stressing that "economic vitality" was his key task, he added: "It is essential to rebuild the credibility of the country at home and abroad to attract new investments and get the economy growing again."

But he also said Brazil was still a poor nation and that he would protect and expand social programmes.

"Let's stop talking about crisis. Let's work instead," he said.


Who is stand-in President Michel Temer?

Michel Temer became interim president as soon as Ms Rousseff was suspended.

  • The 75-year-old law professor of Lebanese origin was Ms Rousseff's vice-president and was a key figure in the recent upheaval
  • Up until now, he's been the kingmaker, but never the king, having helped form coalitions with every president in the past two decades
  • He is president of Brazil's largest party, the PMDB, which abandoned the coalition in March
  • In recent months, his role has become even more influential; in a WhatsApp recording leaked in April, he outlined how Brazil needed a "government to save the country".

Michel Temer also said he would support the sweeping investigation into corruption at state oil company Petrobras that has embroiled many politicians and officials.

Mr Temer has nominated a 22-strong cabinet.

There are no women, although two more names are expected to be added to the cabinet. Ms Rousseff had earlier suggested that sexism in the male-dominated Congress had played a key part in the impeachment process.

Mr Meirelles, the new finance minister, built a reputation for calming nerves in the markets when heading the central bank, and helped tame inflation to create one of the country's biggest economic booms.

But analysts say Mr Temer's popularity ratings are as bad as Ms Rousseff's and he faces many challenges.

During the overnight debate, Senator Jose Serra, who has been named the new foreign minister, said the impeachment process was "a bitter though necessary medicine".

"Having the Rousseff government continue would be a bigger tragedy," he said.

Brazil is suffering from its worst recession in 10 years, unemployment reached 9% in 2015 and inflation is at a 12-year high.

'Fraudulent'

In her TV speech, flanked by ministers at the presidential palace, Ms Rousseff said that she may have made mistakes but had committed no crimes, adding: "I did not violate budgetary laws."

She said: "What is at stake is respect for the ballot box, the sovereign will of the Brazilian people and the constitution."

Branding the process "fraudulent" and saying her government was "undergoing sabotage", she vowed to fight the charges against her and said she was confident she would be found innocent.

Her removal ends 13 years of leftist rule.


What happens next?

The 180 days allocated for the trial to take place expire on 8 November.

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Source: bbc.com

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12/May/2016

India Hindu group prays for Donald Trump win

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has gained some unlikely fans - including a right-wing Hindu group in India.

Members of the Hindu Sena held a prayer in support of Mr Trump winning the US presidential election.

The little-known group said they supported Mr Trump "because he is hope for humanity against Islamic terror".

Mr Trump has proposed a ban on Muslims entering the US - drawing widespread criticism at home and abroad.

He has also advocated killing the families of terrorists and invading Syria to eradicate the so-called Islamic State group and appropriate its oil.

Around a dozen members of Hindu Sena lit a ritual fire and prayers in a park in Delhi on Wednesday, and hung a banner declaring their support for Mr Trump.

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Surrounded by statues of Hindu gods, they threw offerings such as seeds, grass and ghee (clarified butter) into a small ritual fire.

"Only Donald Trump can save humanity," Vishnu Gupta, founder of the group, told the Associated Press news agency.

He also told The Indian Express newspaper that the group had planned "several events to express its wholehearted support for Mr Trump".

The nationalist group has previously been known for vandalism and assault, attacking the office of a political party in 2014, and spraying a legislator who protested against a ban on eating beef.

Source: bbc.com

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12/May/2016

US Election 2016: Donald Trump softens stance on Muslim ban

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump appears to have softened his stance on temporarily barring Muslims from travelling to the US.

Responding to remarks by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Mr Trump told Fox News Radio the ban was "just a suggestion".

Mr Khan has expressed concern that he would not be able to travel to the US under a Trump administration because of his Muslim faith.

Mr Trump had offered to make an "exception" for Mr Khan.

Mr Khan refused Mr Trump's offer, saying the New York businessman's views were "ignorant" and would make the UK and the US "less safe".

Mr Trump proposed a ban on Muslims entering the US after attacks in Paris killed 130 people last year.

The suggested ban has been widely criticised in the US and abroad but Mr Trump until now has stood by the proposal, saying it was needed to ensure US security.

"It's a temporary ban. It hasn't been called for yet," Mr Trump said on Wednesday. "This is just a suggestion until we find out what's going on."

Mr Trump has shifted positions in the past on a variety of issues only to change his stance days later.

Analysis: Anthony Zurcher, BBC North America reporter

Donald Trump and Paul Ryan

House Speaker Paul Ryan (right) says he is not ready to support Donald Trump's bid for presidency

It's likely no coincidence that Donald Trump has softened the rhetoric surrounding his call for a sweeping ban on Muslim immigration into the US on the eve of his closely watched Washington meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan.

When Mr Trump first unveiled his proposal, Mr Ryan's response was short and sharp.

"This is not conservatism," he said.

At the time Mr Ryan's voice was just one of many in the Republican establishment condemning what seemed an extremely controversial proposal from the New York businessman.

Now Mr Trump is the presumptive nominee, and that Republican establishment has been moving - grudgingly - toward backing their new standard-bearer. Mr Ryan has been a holdout, however, saying he wants evidence that Mr Trump shares conservative values and principles.

Mr Trump's latest rhetorical swivel could be an olive branch to the speaker - and, perhaps, a fig leaf allowing Mr Ryan to eventually offer his support.

He has often given conflicting accounts on issues including his tax plan, abortion and transgender people accessing public toilets.

This flexibility has led to concerns among Republican Party leaders about his candidacy.

Top Republicans including House Speaker Paul Ryan have said they are not ready to support Mr Trump in the general election.

Mr Trump will meet Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Mr Ryan and others on Thursday in an attempt to resolve differences.

Also on Wednesday, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney - who ran against President Barack Obama in 2012 - separately raised questions about Mr Trump's tax returns.

Mr Trump has so far refused to release his tax records - a common practice among presidential nominees. Mrs Clinton has posted her past eight tax returns on her website.

"It is disqualifying for a modern-day presidential nominee to refuse to release tax returns to the voters, especially one who has not been subject to public scrutiny in either military or public service," Mr Romney said.

Source: bbc.com

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12/May/2016

Supreme court orders cleaning of register before November polls

A seven-member Supreme Court panel chaired by the Chief Justice, Georgina Wood, has ordered the Electoral Commission to clean the voters register before the 2016 elections.

The ruling follows a suit filed by former PNC youth organiser Abu Ramada challenging the credibility of the 2012 voters’ register as a valid database for the November general polls.

The Supreme court ordered the EC to delete names of deceased persons, persons who registered using the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) cards as well as ineligible persons whose names are on the register, but also asked the commission to make provisions for those affected to register again under the law.

Abu Ramadan in the suit claims the voters’ register contains the names of persons who have not established qualification to be registered and therefore inconsistent with Article 45(a) of the Constitution thereby making same unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect.

Abu Ramadan in the suit was seeking the following reliefs:

1. A declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of Article 45(a) of the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, 1992 (hereinafter, the “Constitution”) the mandate of the Electoral Commission of Ghana to compile the register of voters implies a duty to compile, fair and transparent register.

2. A declaration that the 2012 Voters Register which contains the names of persons who have not established qualification to be registered is inconsistent with Article 42 and 45 (a) and therefore unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect.

3. An order setting aside the 2012 Voters Register and compelling the Electoral Commission to compile fresh Voters Register before any new public election or referendum is conducted in this country.

The Supreme Court a year ago ruled that the National Health Insurance card (NHIS) does not qualify anyone to be registered as a voter. That suit was filed by Abu Ramadan.

Source: kasapafmonline.com

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05/May/2016

US election: How Trump defied all predictions

America tonight stands on the doorstep of greatness, or the precipice of doom.

Under a candidate this divisive, there's not much room for feeling anything in between, as the realisation dawns that Donald Trump now has a plausible shot at being America's next president.

There has never been a candidate for the White House quite like this. He came into the race something of a joke, he conducted his campaign in ways that sometimes seemed like a joke (remember the steaks) but he won the nomination with totally serious conviction, demolishing his large field of competitors.

One by one, the primary wins stacked up and the other candidates fell. It was extraordinary to watch. The man almost no-one in the American political world took seriously defied all the predictions.

How did he do it?

Trump tapped into something we all should have seen, but failed to. For years, working class Americans have suffered from low employment and stagnant wages. They've watched the spread of globalisation, immigration and free trade and they felt left behind.

The US economy appeared to boom, but their lives didn't reflect that triumph. They had got a bad deal. Add to that an America that seemed to have faltered on the global stage and a president congenitally averse to nationalistic chest-thumping and Donald Trump was a gift.

From the billionaire's New York penthouse, he somehow understood the concerns of less educated Americans, particularly less educated American men.

Coal miners in Pennsylvania

The coal industry in places like Pennsylvania has been drawn to Trump's message

He appeared to have an intuitive understanding of their loves and hates. He even said at one point in this absurdly long campaign that he loved the poorly educated. He knew they felt shackled by political correctness, and he gave them freedom to rail against it.

He knew they were afraid that their country was changing around them, increasingly populated by people whose first language was Spanish not English. When he suggested that Mexico was sending rapists across the border, he vindicated those fears. When he proposed to ban all Muslims from America, he gave voice to the anti-Islamic sentiment that's simmered in the US since 9/11.

It has been a remarkable display of political instinct from a man who's never been in politics. His supporters are so devoted to him that he could do no wrong. When he said Vietnam torture victim and war vet Senator John McCain wasn't a war hero, his approval ratings went up.

When he suggested a female reporter posed a tough question because she was menstruating, his numbers improved again.

Mexico, Muslims, Lyin' Ted... they all just fuelled the Trump train. And they love him most because he doesn't sound like all the politicians who have promised much and delivered little.

Families crossing from Mexico to US

The southern border has become a key Trump issue

And yet, at the risk of being churlish on the night Mr Trump celebrates a stunning victory, it is worth noting how he has also alienated millions of Americans in a way we have not seen here in modern history.

Never has a candidate for the presidency been this reviled and rejected by some members of their own party. There is a long list (literally, you can find it on the website of The Hill newspaper) of Republican politicians and strategists who have said they will never vote for Trump.

In private there are many more who have said they will vote for Hillary rather than Donald.

These are the people - and I have spoken to many of them - who say their party's candidate is a "bigot", "racist", "misogynist". They call him "crass", "rude", "a bully".

Some of these people may now fall in line with the party leadership, hold their nose and tick the Trump box, but they don't like him.

If you broaden the surveys out to all Americans, Trump breaks records with his unfavourability ratings.

Protest against Trump

Protests against Trump are common in California

Which is why two groups are cheering tonight, team Trump and team Clinton.

The Clinton campaign remains convinced that this is the perfect race for them. They see Trump's negatives and they believe he is the best candidate they could have hoped for as their Republican opponent.

Moreover, the demographics of America would suggest that whoever is the Democratic nominee stands an odds-on chance of winning the White House - there are just more Democratic than Republican voters in the country.

But this is a curious year, the political rule book has been shredded and Donald Trump hates losing almost more than he loves winning.

The Clinton camp would be wrong to get too confident too soon. If we have learned one thing in this crazy campaign, it is that predictions are foolish.

Call me a fool, but I'm prepared to make just one more - the Clinton-Trump match-up is going to be brutal.

You thought the last 24 hours was ugly. You haven't seen anything yet.

Source: bbc.com

 

Read more
05/May/2016

John Kasich, last Republican Trump rival, quits race

Ohio Governor John Kasich has dropped out of the presidential race after struggling to gain traction against Republican front-runner Donald Trump.

"As I suspend my campaign today I have renewed faith, deeper faith that the Lord will show me the way forward," he told supporters in Columbus.

Mr Kasich only won his home state but had hoped to lobby for his candidacy at July's Republican convention.

Mr Trump holds a commanding lead and is closing in on the nomination.

His likely opponent will be Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, who lost the Indiana primary to Bernie Sanders.

It was a surprise win for the Vermont senator who continues to attract huge crowds to his rallies, but his opponent has an almost insurmountable lead in votes and delegates.

Speaking to CNN about taking on Mr Trump, Mrs Clinton said he was a "loose cannon" who had run a "negative, bullying" campaign.

The New York businessman has made a series of controversial remarks ever since he launched his White House bid by labelling Mexicans as rapists and criminals.

Several senior Republicans said on Wednesday they would not back him, with some saying they would prefer to vote for Mrs Clinton.

Trump nomination divides Republicans

The race for the Republican presidential nomination has taken more than a year to unfold, but in a flash it is over.

Ted Cruz's withdrawal from the race Tuesday night meant John Kasich's long-shot path to the nomination - deadlocked delegates in a contested convention turning to him as a compromise candidate - was definitively closed.

The Ohio governor, once thought to be the saviour of the moderate, establishment wing of the Republican Party, could have soldiered on, but with little money and no hope of winning, such a course bordered on the absurd.

Although Mr Trump had effectively sewn up the nomination regardless of what Mr Kasich decided to do, his withdrawal does have one benefit. Now the New York businessman will not have to make even pro forma campaign stops in California, which holds its primary on 6 June.

Just last week the front-runner faced massive protests while attending the state's Republican convention. California looked to be a powder keg for Mr Trump in the coming weeks. Thanks to Mr Kasich, it has been defused.


Texas Senator Ted Cruz dropped out of the race on Tuesday after losing heavily to Mr Trump in the Indiana primary.

It is now certain Mr Trump will have the 1,237 delegates needed to become the nominee before the July convention in Cleveland, Ohio.

Mr Kasich had been widely seen as the most moderate and electable Republican candidate but this did not garner him enough support among Republican primary voters.

Republicans are now divided over whether to support Mr Trump as the Republican nominee.

"If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed... and we will deserve it," South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham said on Tuesday.

Mr Kasich's named has been floated as a possible vice presidential pick but he has denied that he would accept it.

Source: bbc.com

Read more
05/May/2016

US election: Trump closes in on Republican nomination

Donald Trump has become the US Republican presidential nominee in all but name after victory in Indiana forced rival Ted Cruz from the race.

Mr Trump, unpopular with many in his own party, now has a clear path to the 1,237 delegates needed to claim his party's crown.

That would mark a stunning victory for a businessman few took seriously when he launched his campaign last year.

Bernie Sanders has defeated Hillary Clinton in Indiana's Democratic race.

He trails Mrs Clinton in the all-important delegate count but after this victory he said the contest was still alive.

"Clinton campaign thinks this campaign is over. They're wrong," he said.

What will Clinton v Trump look like?

As it happened - reaction to Cruz quitting

Indiana results as they come in

Mr Cruz's advisers had targeted Indiana as the Texas senator's best hope of halting Mr Trump's march to the nomination.

"We gave it everything we've got, but the voters chose another path," he told supporters in Indiana.

His departure means Mr Trump is now the presumptive Republican nominee, with plenty of state contests this month and next to reach the 1,237 delegates required to win.

The New York businessman is the first nominee since Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 to lack any previous experience of elected office.

Ohio Governor John Kasich has vowed to remain in the Republican race, but trails far behind Mr Trump in terms of delegates.

The Cruz party is over - Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Indianapolis

Turn out the lights, the party's over. Ted Cruz and the #NeverTrump movement threw everything they had at Donald Trump in Indiana, and it wasn't enough. It wasn't even close to enough.

They outspent him by more than a million dollars. Mr Cruz practically took up residence in the state for the past two weeks. He named Carly Fiorina as his running mate. Nothing worked.

If there was a defining moment of the Indiana campaign, it was Mr Cruz's fruitless attempt to reason with a group of pro-Trump supporters on Sunday.

Every argument he advanced was rebuffed. Every bit of evidence of Trump malfeasance was denied. Mr Cruz was shouting in the wind.

In the coming days there will be a great reckoning, as the party comes to terms with the prospect of Mr Trump as their standard bearer in the autumn. Some will make peace. Some will despair. Others will say "I'm with her" and reluctantly move to Hillary Clinton's side.

It will be an unprecedented spectacle in modern US political history.

"It is a beautiful thing to watch, and a beautiful thing to behold," Trump said during a victory speech. "We are going to make America great again."

He praised Mr Cruz as a "tough, smart competitor", which marked a sharp reversal in tone after a day when the two men slung mud at each other from close quarters.

The verbal attacks reached a new level of intensity when Mr Cruz attacked the billionaire businessman as a "pathological liar" and "serial philanderer".

That was provoked by a bizarre claim from Mr Trump that Mr Cruz's father was linked to one of the most traumatic episodes in US history, the assassination of President John F Kennedy.

Trump links Cruz's father to JFK death

It is now increasingly likely that Mr Trump will face Mrs Clinton in the autumn in the battle to succeed President Barack Obama, who will be leaving the White House after two terms.

But Republicans have expressed reservations about Mr Trump's outspoken remarks, which have offended women and Hispanics.

There are also concerns about some of his policies on immigration and national security, like building a wall on the southern US border paid for by Mexico, a ban on Muslims coming to the US and the killing of the families of terrorists.

Source: bbc.com

Read more
04/May/2016

Trump accuses China of 'raping' US with unfair trade policy

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has accused China of "raping" the US, in renewed criticism of China's trade policy.

He told a rally in Indiana that China was responsible for "the greatest theft in the history of the world".

Mr Trump, a billionaire businessman, has long accused China of manipulating its currency to make its exports more competitive globally.

This, he says, has badly damaged US businesses and workers.

"We can't continue to allow China to rape our country, and that's what we're doing," he told the campaign rally on Sunday.

"We're going to turn it around, and we have the cards, don't forget it," he added. "We have a lot of power with China."

Donald Trump's deal diplomacy

Trump's foreign policy - still no details

Newspapers react to Trump's foreign policy

Trump's foreign policy: So crazy it might just work?

Trump favours high tariffs on China exports


What China thinks of Trump

Premier Li Keqiang has said the US election "has been lively and has caught the eye", but many in China see it as more than that.

They consider the flamboyant New York billionaire an inspiration rather than an antagonist.

Read more: China's complex relationship with Donald Trump


In his campaign manifesto, Mr Trump pledges to "cut a better deal with China that helps American businesses and workers compete".

He sets out four goals that include immediately declaring China "a currency manipulator" and putting "an end to China's illegal export subsidies and lax labour and environmental standards".

Latest figures from the US government show the trade deficit with China reached an all-time high of $365.7bn (£250.1bn) last year. By February this year it had already reached $57bn.

Protesters

This is the first time Mr Trump has used the word "rape" in the context of China and trade, but his campaign has been punctuated by inflammatory comments.

He was confronted by hundreds of protesters in California on Friday before giving a speech to the state's Republican convention. Mr Trump was forced to enter the building by the back entrance.

Protesters were angry at his views on immigration: he has advocated building a border wall with Mexico, and has also referred to Mexicans as "rapists" and criminals responsible for bringing illegal drugs into the US.

Anti-Trump protesters were also out in force during the annual May Day rallies in California.

Protestors display giant effigy of Trump at demonstrations in California on 1 May 2016

Donald Trump was the focus of anger for some at the May Day protest in Los Angeles on Sunday

The Trump campaign had to cancel several rallies in March after hundreds of protesters threatened to disrupt events in Chicago and St Louis.

Mr Trump has called himself the Republican "presumptive nominee" after a string of primary wins.

In terms of delegate support, the property tycoon is far ahead of his nearest rivals, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and John Kasich, the governor of Ohio.

On the other side of the race, Hillary Clinton is expected to beat Bernie Sanders to the Democratic nomination and fight for the presidency in November's general election.

Source: bbc.com

 

 

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02/May/2016

Liberia ex-footballer George Weah to run for president again

The former international footballer George Weah will run for president of Liberia for a second time.

He said he had the "vision" to transform the country.

Mr Weah, who played for teams including Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan and Chelsea, was the highest-ranking African footballer in Fifa's list of greatest players of the 20th century.

His previous presidential bid, in 2005, was defeated by current president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Her second term in office will end in 2017 and under the country's constitution she cannot run again.

During his football career, Mr Weah became a UN goodwill ambassador.

Later he turned to politics. He is currently a senator for the western province of Montserrado, which includes the capital Monrovia.

In 2011 he ran for vice-president under Winston Tubman but did not win.

Mr Weah belongs to the opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) party.

Announcing his presidential bid in Monrovia, he said he had been a "victim of poverty" like many of his supporters, and said he would boost vocational education.


Anthem and portraits - Jonathan Paye-Layleh, BBC News, Monrovia

Liberia's national anthem was played before Mr Weah took to the stage.

First, he held a moment of silence in memory of the thousands of people who died of Ebola.

He told his crowd of supporters: "Our gathering here today is about the future of our country and our people.

"In the last ten years our people have continued to live in abject poverty, education a mess, health delivery system a disaster, electricity and pipe-borne water elusive."

"Like many of you, I have been a victim of poverty," he said. "There were times I didn't have school fees."

A leading research organization has recently rated Mr Weah's performance in the Senate as low.

Party members from across Liberia presented a petition asking him to run, saying they believed he was the man "to solve Liberia's numerous problems".

Some party members paraded up and down the sandy party headquarters, beneath giant portraits of Mr Weah.

They sang: "George Weah is the man we want, George Weah is the man we want."

Mr Weah pledged to increase the national budget, work towards religious harmony, and support vocational education.

To wild applause, he said: "God is with us, and hope is alive."

a crowd of faces, and one sign that reads

Thousands of CDC supporters turned out to petition George Weah to contest the presidential elections

Source: bbc.com

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29/Apr/2016

US election 2016: Former House Speaker Boehner calls Ted Cruz 'Lucifer'

US presidential hopeful Ted Cruz has been called "Lucifer in the flesh" by the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner.

Mr Boehner, a fellow Republican, has also reportedly said he will not vote for Mr Cruz if he becomes the nominee.

Their rift dates back to when Mr Cruz led a group of hard-core conservatives to force a government shutdown in 2013, against his party's leadership.

Meanwhile, Mr Boehner has described Donald Trump as a "texting buddy".

He also said they have played golf together for years and that he would vote for the billionaire if he were the Republican nominee, the Stanford Daily reported.

The billionaire is the front-runner on the race for the Republican nomination, ahead of Mr Cruz.

The Texas senator is seen by many Republicans as the only option to prevent Mr Trump from being the party's candidate. Others, however, dispute this, saying he is a divisive figure.

Mr Boehner, who was the most powerful Republican in US politics for a time until he resigned last October, used strong language when he spoke about Mr Cruz during a talk at Stanford University.

"I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life," he said.


Inside divisions, by Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

Former Speaker of the US House of Representatives John Boehner

Mr Boehner had once called Mr Cruz a "jackass"

John Boehner tells us how he really feels.

At a time when Ted Cruz is struggling to save his presidential campaign, having a former high-ranking member of the Republican Party compare him to Beelzebub is, shall we say, unhelpful. It further reinforces the perception - hammered time and time again by Donald Trump - that Mr Cruz is too divisive, too abrasive, too unliked to be a successful leader.

The Texas senator likely would counter that he has made the right kind of enemies and the ire of the party establishment is a badge he will proudly wear. Unfortunately for him, however, the party establishment is just about the only thing left keeping his candidacy afloat. He has become the vessel for the #NeverTrump efforts - the last realistic candidate between Mr Trump on the nomination - and that movement is populated by insiders who, in any other situation, would not hesitate to stick a knife in Mr Cruz's back.

It seems Mr Boehner, happy in his retirement from politics, had no such reservations.

More about their rift


Mr Cruz is credited with having a large role in the federal government shutdown in 2013, when Mr Boehner was Speaker of the House.

The Texas senator is seen as having an aggressive posture and considers himself as an anti-establishment politician.

He reacted to Mr Boehner's remarks on Twitter, saying: "Tell me again who will stand up to Washington? Trump, who's Boehner's "texting and golfing buddy," or Carly & me?", he wrote, referring to Carly Fiorina, his pick for vice-president in an eventual candidacy."

When asked about the Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, Mr Boehner reportedly impersonated her saying "Oh I'm a woman, vote for me," which received a negative reaction from the crowd.

He later said they had known each other for 25 years and that he finds the former secretary of state to be very accomplished and smart.

Source: bbc.com

Read more
29/Apr/2016

US election 2016: Trump details his foreign policy goals

Donald Trump has detailed his foreign policy in a speech, a day after sweeping to a win in five US primaries.

Mr Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican candidacy in the 2016 presidential race, said he would pursue an "America First" policy.

He called the foreign policy of President Obama's administration "a complete and total disaster".

On Tuesday, Mr Trump called himself the Republican "presumptive nominee" after his primary wins.

He claimed victories in Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

What has Trump said so far on foreign policy?

While he has used his campaign to outline some of his foreign policy goals, this is the first time he has detailed them in a speech. He used a teleprompter, having previously said no candidate for the presidency should do so.

Earlier, he said the speech would not be a "Trump doctrine", and that he would retain some flexibility to make changes if elected.

Here are some of the main points he has made so far:

An Islamic State fighter fires a weapon in this still image taken from a video said to be taken on the outskirts of Palmyra and uploaded on March 21, 2016

Mr Trump supports stronger interrogation of IS suspects

He says that no other candidate would be tougher on the so-called Islamic State (IS) and he would weaken the militants by cutting off their access to oil.

He has also said he supports waterboarding and other strong interrogation methods against IS. And while he says he would stay within the law, he would like laws on interrogation techniques expanded.

Read more: 26 things Trump believes

On nuclear weapons

The nuclear threat, and the risk of proliferation, is "the biggest problem the world has", Mr Trump told the New York Times last month. Using a nuclear weapon first would be "an absolute last step", he said.

On US allies

Mr Trump has decried what he calls the United States' position of "the world's policeman", and calls it a weakness. He has called for a reassessment of ties with some of Washington's closest allies.

Speaking to the New York Times about the US-Japan relationship, he said: "If we're attacked, they do not have to come to our defence, if they're attacked, we have to come totally to their defence. And that is a, that's a real problem."

Trump's foreign policy: So crazy it just might work?

On trade

On China, for example, he says it should be taken to task on a number of issues in order to make trade with the US more equitable. If elected, he says he will make China stop undervaluing its currency.

Who are his advisers?

Mr Trump once said he was his own best foreign policy adviser, but, in recent months, has expanded his back-room team. Some of his appointments had proved controversial.

The team is led by Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama who has helped shape Mr Trump's policies.

Another member, retired Gen Joseph Schmitz, resigned from the military in 2005 amid accusations of misconduct. However, Mr Schmitz was never charged with wrongdoing.

Another adviser, Walid Phares, was criticised when he was named as part of Mitt Romney's foreign policy team in 2011.

Muslim advocacy groups took issue with Mr Phares's close ties to right-wing Christian militia groups during the Lebanese civil war.

Read more: Trump names foreign policy advisers

What have others said?

  • "It's a perfect storm of isolationism, muscular nationalism, with a dash of pragmatism and realism" - Aaron David Miller, former adviser to Republican and Democratic administrations between 1978 and 2003
  • "He needs to show that he has the substance, the depth of knowledge and the vision to be the American commander-in-chief" - Steve Schmidt, former campaign manager to 2008 Republican candidate John McCain, to Reuters

Unorthodox foreign policy views?

What happened on Tuesday?

After his sweep of the five mid-Atlantic states, Mr Trump said of the battle for the Republican nomination: "It's over. As far as I'm concerned, it's over."

He told supporters in New York he would not moderate his policies if elected president.

For the Democrats, Hillary Clinton was denied a clean sweep by Bernie Sanders, after he won in Rhode Island.

The story of the night

Full results state by state

After their victories, Mr Trump and Mrs Clinton turned their fire on each other.

Mr Trump said his Democratic rival's only advantage in the presidential race was being a woman.

"Frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don't think she'd get 5% of the vote," he said.

Mrs Clinton hit back at his accusation that she was playing the "woman card".

"Well, if fighting for women's healthcare and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card, then deal me in," she told cheering supporters in Philadelphia.

Playing 'the woman card': How would a female Trump do?

Source: bbc

 

Read more
27/Apr/2016

US election 2016: Trump sweeps all five US states

Donald Trump has won presidential primaries in all five US states that voted on Tuesday, while Hillary Clinton took four out of five.

Mr Trump called himself the Republican "presumptive nominee" after victories in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

The results bring him closer to the number of delegates he needs before the party's national convention in July.

For the Democrats, Mrs Clinton was denied a clean sweep by Bernie Sanders.

Mr Sanders won the vote in Rhode Island, and vowed to fight to the end of the primaries process.

Speaking at Philadelphia Convention Center after securing the four other states, Mrs Clinton said her campaign was setting "bold, progressive goals" to improve lives in the US.

"We believe in the goodness of our people and the greatness of our nation," she said.

The story of the night

Full results state by state

Chart of results from US primaries on 26 April 2016

Meanwhile Mr Trump told supporters in New York he would not moderate his policies if elected president.

"I'm not changing," he said. "You know I went to the best schools. I'm like a very smart person. I'm going to represent our country with dignity and very well.

"But I don't really want to change my personality. You know, it got me here."

His rivals, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, have already shifted their attention to upcoming states, teaming up to help each other in the Indiana, Oregon and New Mexico primaries.

Mr Trump has condemned their pact as a sign of weakness and desperation, and another sign of the Republican party colluding against him. "The Republican party needs something much better than that," he said after his latest victories were announced on Tuesday.

Neither Mr Kasich nor Mr Cruz has a chance of securing the Republican nomination outright. The hope of a contested convention this July in Cleveland is keeping them in the race.

This scenario would see party delegates - Republican officials and activists - choose the nominee. However Mr Trump is edging closer to securing 1,237 delegates, which would mean he could secure the nomination before the convention.


Analysis: Anthony Zurcher, BBC North America reporter

There's winning, and then there's WINNING.

Donald Trump's night is shaping up to be the latter, as he steamrolls his opposition in all five of mid-Atlantic states voting on Tuesday.

This campaign season has been punctuated with a series of theories about how and why Mr Trump's presidential ambitions would eventually be thwarted. The latest was that he'd never be able to win more than 50% of the vote as the field narrows. It appears likely that he'll easily surpass that mark across the board and claim the lion's share of the delegates at stake.

During a primary night speech that took place before the polls even closed, Texas Senator Ted Cruz promised that his campaign was now heading to "more favourable terrain". He's setting up a firewall in Indiana, but there's a Trump-fuelled conflagration heading his way.

The New Yorker still has work to do to clinch the Republican nomination, but after his latest performance such a prospect seems increasingly likely.

Read more on the US election:

Can the Cruz-Kasich tag-team beat Trump?

Can Trump really change his image?

Is Wall Street a problem for Hillary Clinton?


Speaking in Huntington, West Virginia, after the vote, Bernie Sanders vowed to fight to the end of the nomination process, saying he would attract broad support in November's election.

"The reason that we are generating this enthusiasm is because we are doing something very unusual in contemporary politics. We are telling the truth," he said.

Despite some success, it is unlikely Mr Sanders will be able to overcome Mrs Clinton's lead to become the Democratic nominee for president.

Bernie Sanders addresses supporters in West Virginia on 26 April

Bernie Sanders has vowed to remain in the Democratic contest until the end

The pact between Mr Kasich and Mr Cruz got off to a rocky start on Tuesday. The Ohio governor is to give Mr Cruz a "clear path" by not campaigning in Indiana and Mr Cruz will reciprocate in New Mexico and Oregon. But neither has endorsed tactical voting among their supporters.

Speaking in Indiana on Tuesday night, Mr Cruz said his supporters could look forward to some success as the race moved on to more conservative states.

His event was held at a basketball court where some scenes were filmed for the 1986 film Hoosiers, about a small-town high school basketball team that wins the state championship.

The Texas senator attempted to recreate a scene from the film but was mocked on social media for referring to a basketball "ring" rather than a "hoop".

Source: bbc.com

 

Read more
26/Apr/2016

US election 2016: Trump and Clinton 'score early wins'

Donald Trump has won the presidential primaries in Connecticut, Maryland and Pennsylvania while Hillary Clinton is top in Maryland, US media project.

The two front-runners in the race for the White House are hoping to cement their leads after voters in five north-eastern states went to the polls.

Mr Trump's rivals have already shifted focus away from the north-east.

Ted Cruz and John Kasich have teamed up to help each other in the Indiana, Oregon and New Mexico primaries.

Mr Trump has condemned their pact as a sign of weakness and desperation. More to follow.

Source: bbc.com

Read more
26/Apr/2016

Kenya's former first lady Lucy Kibaki dies in London

Kenya's controversial former first lady, Lucy Kibaki, has died in a London hospital of an undisclosed illness.

She gained notoriety for slapping a cameraman in 2005 when she stormed the offices of a private media group in anger at the way a story about her had been reported.

In a tribute to Mrs Kibaki, President Uhuru Kenyatta praised her for her role in fighting HIV/Aids in Kenya.

Mr Kenyatta succeeded her husband Mwai Kibaki, who governed from 2002 to 2013.

Mrs Kibaki, who was born in 1940, had withdrawn from public life during the latter part of her husband's rule.

She was last seen at a public function in August 2010, when she seemed excited about the adoption of a new constitution, dancing to a famous gospel song, Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper reports.

Mr Kenyatta said she had been unwell for the last month, receiving treatment in both Kenya and the UK.

Mrs Kibaki trained as a teacher, leaving her job not long after her marriage in 1962 to raise her four children.

"Her Excellency will be remembered for her immense contribution in the development of country," Mr Kenyatta said in a statement.

According to the Daily Nation, she organised the First International Aids Run in 2003.

But correspondents say she also provoked condemnation when she said unmarried young people had "no business" using condoms, calling on students to abstain from sex in order to avoid infection with HIV.

'Disturbing the peace'

Mrs Kibaki was the most controversial of Kenya's first ladies, crossing swords with politicians, diplomats, journalists and policemen she believed had not treated her with sufficient respect.

Just months after her husband became president, she is reported to have shut down a bar inside State House that was a watering hole for ministers and close allies of Mr Kibaki.

Laura Bush (R) with her Kenyan counterpart, Lucy Kibaki acknowledges the applause of the Kenyan delegation during official arrival ceremonies on the South Lawn of the White House 06 October, 2003 in Washington, DC

Former US First Lady Laura Bush hosted Mrs Kibaki at the White House in 2003

In 2005, she stormed into the house of her neighbour, the World Bank's then-country director Makhtar Diop, in a tracksuit at midnight and demanded he turn his music down at a private party to mark the end of his posting in Kenya.

She also went to the local police station in shorts to demand that Mr Diop and his guests be arrested for disturbing the peace.

Later, she burst into the offices of the influential Nation Media Group with her bodyguards and demanded that the reporter who had written about her confrontation with Mr Diop be arrested.

She slapped cameraman Clifford Derrick who was filming her and refused to leave the offices until 0530 the next day.

He tried to sue for assault, but the case was thrown out of court.

In 2007, Mrs Kibaki was filmed by Nation TV slapping an official during an independence day celebration at State House.

Security officials seized the video images and erased the slapping incident, before returning them.

Source: bbc.com

Read more
26/Apr/2016

US election: Cruz-Kasich pact 'desperate' says Trump

Donald Trump says a pact formed by his two rivals for the Republican presidential crown is a desperate act.

He lambasted Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich over the alliance they announced late on Sunday.

Under their plan, Mr Cruz and Mr Kasich will give each other a free run in state primary votes next month.

Before then, five US states go to the polls on Tuesday, when Mr Trump is expected to tighten his grip on the nomination.

He has a clear lead in party delegates but may still fall short of the 1,237 needed to win outright.

If he does not reach that figure, the vote will go to a contested convention - where delegates are free to back another candidate. A different nominee like Mr Cruz or Mr Kasich may emerge.

On Monday, Mr Cruz defended the deal, saying it was "great for Indiana and great for the country".


Can the pact work? - Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

This announcement comes just days before Mr Cruz and Mr Kasich are likely to receive a thorough drubbing in a handful of states in the mid-Atlantic, including delegate-rich Pennsylvania.

By Wednesday morning Mr Trump could have put considerably more distance between himself and his two opponents.

So this accord may be an early effort to push the focus past the next round of voting and on to more friendly contests.

Indiana is shaping up to be a pivotal battleground. A recent poll shows Mr Trump with a comfortable lead in a three-way race that narrows considerably if Mr Kasich is taken out of the equation.

Given the rules in Indiana - 30 delegates to the candidate who wins a statewide plurality and three delegates to the top finisher in each of the state's nine congressional districts - every bit of help Mr Cruz can get to edge past Mr Trump will be invaluable.

Read Anthony's piece in full


Speaking in Indiana, the Texas senator said Mr Trump winning the nomination would hand the White House to Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in November's election.

But in a series of tweets on Monday, Mr Trump, a New York businessman with no experience of elected office, said this was collusion from two weak candidates.

Shows how weak and desperate Lyin'Ted is when he teams up with a guy who can't openly stand him and is only 1 win and 38 losses - Trump

And in a statement, he said: "It is sad that two grown politicians have to collude against one person who has only been a politician for ten months in order to try and stop that person from getting the Republican nomination."

Mr Trump has waged war on the Republican National Committee over the process by which delegates are allocated, saying the system is "rigged" against him.


Read more on the US election

Can Trump really change his image?

Trump v Cruz v Kasich

Ted Cruz, the Texan Tea Partier

John Kasich, the governor of positivity


Five states go to the polls on Tuesday - Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

Under the Cruz-Kasich plan, Mr Cruz will cut campaigning in the Oregon and New Mexico primaries and Mr Kasich will give Mr Cruz a "clear path" in Indiana.

Indiana and Oregon vote next month, with New Mexico to follow in June.

In the Democratic race, Mrs Clinton will be looking to tighten her grip on the nomination after her big New York win, but Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders says he still has a path to victory.

Source: bbc.com

Read more
25/Apr/2016

US election 2016: Trump and Clinton win New York primaries

Donald Trump has won the Republican presidential primary in New York while Hillary Clinton has triumphed in the Democratic race.

With the majority of votes counted, Mr Trump looks set to extend his lead over rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich.

Meanwhile Democratic hopeful Mrs Clinton, a former senator for New York, is on course for a resounding victory over Brooklyn-born Bernie Sanders.

Wins will put Mrs Clinton and Mr Trump closer to securing their nominations.

With almost 95% of the results in, Mr Trump is leading with just over 60% of the vote while Mrs Clinton has just under 58%.

As it happened: Trump and Clinton win in New York

New York primary results

US networks projected that Mr Trump had won in his home state barely seconds after the polls closed at 21:00 EDT (01:00 GMT).

Speaking at Trump Tower in Manhattan, he said: "I have to say to the people that know me the best - the people of New York - when they give us this kind of a vote it's just incredible."

He said he was going to get more delegates than "anyone projected even in their wildest imaginations".

The big question is whether the billionaire businessman will make a clean sweep of all 95 Republican delegates at stake in New York by earning the majority of votes.

This would reduce the chances of a contested nomination at the Republican party convention in July.

A new-look Trump has a chance - by Anthony Zurcher, BBC North America reporter

Donald Trump needed a commanding victory, and he got it. Although the results in the state's 29 congressional districts - which allocate three convention delegates apiece - have yet to be finalised, it appears likely that Mr Trump will claim the lion's share of the 95 delegates at play.

Perhaps even more importantly, however, is the new, restrained Donald Trump on the campaign trail in the past few days. Gone are the incendiary tweets bashing his opponents (and their spouses). Instead on Tuesday night the candidate gave a short speech hammering home his economic message, emphasising his delegate and vote lead, and laying the groundwork to argue that he should be the party's nominee even if he doesn't win the 1,237 delegates necessary to claim the nomination outright.

Mr Trump recently brought in several experienced political hands to manage his campaign after a turbulent few weeks. If this new demeanour is part of the change they have inspired, Mr Trump could prove to be a more formidable opponent not just at the ballot box in upcoming primaries but in the contest to win over those in the party still deeply suspicious of his candidacy.

"Tomorrow, we go back to work," Mr Trump said during his victory speech. It was a very un-Trump-like line - and something that should have his opponents very concerned.

Read more: Trump's surprising new style and other New York lessons

Claiming her win, Mrs Clinton told supporters her campaign for the nomination was "in the home stretch and victory is in sight".

"New Yorkers, you've always had my back and I've always tried to have yours," she said. "Today together we did it again and I am deeply, deeply grateful."

It has been a fierce campaign in the state, with the leading candidates using their local ties to attract voters.

The Democratic campaign has turned increasingly negative, with Mrs Clinton and Mr Sanders trading barbs about their qualifications.

But following the latest result in the race for the Democratic nomination, Mrs Clinton said there was "much more that unites us than divides us".

New York presidential primaries

Has New York shaped the Trump campaign? - It's the place where he built both his personal brand and his politics

What's New York's state of mind? - The issues that matter to voters from Buffalo to Brooklyn

Is Wall Street a problem for Hillary Clinton? - The 2016 presidential election is proving a trying time for this longstanding relationship

Full US election coverage from the BBC

The two front-runners for both parties cast their own votes in New York on Tuesday. Mr Trump cast his ballot at Central Synagogue in Manhattan in the morning, while Mrs Clinton voted with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, near their home in the suburb of Chappaqua.

They are the last presidential candidates to vote in the primary contest. Mr Sanders voted in his home state of Vermont in March, while Republican challengers Mr Cruz and Mr Kasich went to the polls in Texas and Ohio.

The voting in New York was marred by widespread complaints of irregularities, including more than 125,000 people missing from New York City voter rolls. The city's chief auditing officer, Scott Stringer, ordered a review of the city's Board of Elections (BOE) over what he called "chaotic and inefficient" organisation.

Although Mr Trump was sweeping to victory across most of the state, Ohio Governor Mr Kasich, otherwise in a distant second place, was leading in his home borough of Manhattan.

Meanwhile Mr Sanders, who has vowed to fight on in the nomination process, spent Tuesday in Pennsylvania before heading home to Vermont for a day off the campaign trail.

Republican hopeful Mr Cruz, whose criticism of "New York values" attracted scorn in the state, had also moved onto Pennsylvania and dismissed the New York result as nothing more than "a politician winning his home state", according to the Associated Press.

Pennsylvania is the most important of five states holding both Republican and Democratic primaries on 26 April, and then candidates will look to score successes in Indiana on 3 May.

Source: bbc.com

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20/Apr/2016

Germany Turkey: Merkel allows inquiry into comic's Erdogan insult

Germany will allow the potential prosecution of a top comedian after the Turkish president filed a complaint.

Jan Boehmermann had recited a satirical poem on television which made sexual references to Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Under German law, Chancellor Angela Merkel's government had to approve a criminal inquiry.

Mrs Merkel stressed that the courts would have the final word, and it was now up to prosecutors to decide whether to press charges.

The chancellor added that her government would move to repeal the controversial and little-used Article 103 of the penal code, which concerns insults against foreign heads of state, by 2018.

Boehmermann is a satirist and television presenter well-known for pushing the boundaries of German humour. He was given police protection earlier this week.

Some experts say he has a strong defence against potential charges, because his poem could be seen as part of a wider piece of satire about free speech, rather than a deliberate insult, the BBC's Damien McGuinness reports from Berlin.

An earlier remark by Mrs Merkel that the poem was "deliberately offensive" had led to accusations in Germany that she was not standing up for free speech.

The poem was broadcast on ZDF television two weeks ago. The public TV channel has decided not to broadcast Boehmermann's weekly satire programme this week because of the furore surrounding him.

Turkish row stirs German free speech fears


A rarely used article of the criminal code

Paragraph 103 of Germany's penal code, on defamation of organs and representatives of foreign states, has the following to say:

(1) Whosoever insults a foreign head of state, or, with respect to his position, a member of a foreign government who is in Germany in his official capacity, or a head of a foreign diplomatic mission who is accredited in the Federal territory shall be liable to imprisonment not exceeding three years or a fine, in case of a slanderous insult to imprisonment from three months to five years.

The article dates back to the penal code drafted when the German Empire was formed in 1871, although at that time it just applied to monarchs.

It has been little used in recent years and is colloquially known as the "Shah law" among German lawyers after the Shah of Persia successfully brought a case against a Cologne newspaper in 1964.

A Swiss man living in Bavaria was also prosecuted under the article in 2007, after he posted offensive comments about the then-Swiss President, Micheline Calmy-Rey, on the internet, according to German and Swiss media.

Criminal code in full (in English)


Before announcing that Boehmermann could be prosecuted, Mrs Merkel stressed her government expected Turkey to comply with EU democratic norms in the areas of free speech and judicial independence.

"In a state under the rule of law, it is not a matter for the government but rather for state prosecutors and courts to weigh personal rights issues and other concerns affecting press and artistic freedom," she said.

"The presumption of innocence applies," she added, explaining that she was not making any prejudgement about Boehmermann.

In her statement in Berlin, Mrs Merkel said that the approval of the federal government was a legal precondition for the prosecution of this specific offence.

"The foreign office, the justice ministry, the interior ministry and the chancellery took part in this review," she said.

"There were diverging opinions between the coalition partners... The result is that in the present case the federal government will grant its approval."

Mr Erdogan has drawn much criticism in Turkey and internationally for attacking opponents, including harassment of journalists. Many accuse him of authoritarian methods, stifling legitimate dissent and promoting an Islamist agenda.

Some Germans worry that Mrs Merkel is compromising on freedom of expression in order to ensure Turkey's continued co-operation to stem the influx of migrants into the EU.

Thomas Oppermann, head of the Social Democrat (SPD) group in the German parliament, tweeted: "Prosecution of satire due to 'lese majesty' does not fit with modern democracy."

Source: bbc.com

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15/Apr/2016

US Election 2016: Top UN official condemns Trump

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has condemned the policies of US Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, equating them to bigotry.

Zeid Raad al-Hussein did not mention Mr Trump by name, but he singled out the businessman's support of torture and his policies towards Muslims.

"Bigotry is not proof of strong leadership," Mr Hussein said.

The commissioner also criticised a plan by rival candidate Ted Cruz to conduct surveillance on Muslim neighbourhoods.

"Hate speech, incitement and marginalisation of the 'other' are not a tittering form of entertainment, or a respectable vehicle for political profit," Mr Hussein told an audience in Cleveland, Ohio.

He added: "A front-running candidate to be president of this country declared, just a few months ago, his enthusiastic support for torture (...) inflicting intolerable pain on people, in order to force them to deliver or invent information that they may not have."

During the campaign, Mr Trump has said that "torture works" and promised to bring back "a lot worse than waterboarding".

Waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques previously used by US forces on terror suspects have been banned by the Obama administration.

Mr Trump's controversial statements have been criticised by world leaders including UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Pope Francis.

Mr Cameron called Mr Trump's plan to ban Muslims from travelling to the US "divisive, stupid and wrong".

Both Pena Neito and the Pope have taken issue with Mr Trump's call for a border wall between the US and Mexico.

Correspondents say Mr Hussein's tough talk is unlikely to sway Mr Trump. The New York billionaire has been a harsh critic of the UN on the campaign trail.

"The United Nations is not a friend of democracy," Mr Trump told Israeli activists in March. "It's not a friend even to the United States of America, where as all know, it has its home. And it surely isn't a friend to Israel."

Source: bbc.com

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15/Apr/2016

Kerry: Shooting down Russia jets 'would have been justified'

The US military would have been within its rights to shoot down Russian aircraft that flew close to one of its warships in the Baltic Sea, Secretary of State John Kerry says.

Two Russian jets flew within metres of the ship on Monday, US officials said.

Russia's defence ministry said the Su-24 fighter jets "turned away in observance of all safety measures" after observing the USS Donald Cook.

Mr Kerry criticised the gesture and said contact had been made with Moscow.

"We condemn this kind of behaviour," he told the Miami Herald and CNN Espanol in a joint interview.

"It is reckless. It is provocative. It is dangerous. And under the rules of engagement, that could have been a shoot-down."

He added that the US "is not going to be intimidated on the high seas" and that a message had been conveyed to Russia over the danger of such a gesture.

The chill between Putin & Obama

Individual Nato members' rules of engagement should clearly outline what are defined as "actions that might be construed as provocative", according to the organisation's own guidelines.

Applying those rules of engagement "requires commanders at all levels to exercise considerable judgment", Nato says.

Mr Kerry did not specify why the US Navy did not fire at the jets.

The two Russian jets flew over the US destroyer almost a dozen times, American officials said.

At one point the jets were so close, about 9m (30ft), that they created wakes in the water around the ship.

The ship was sailing close to a Russian navy base, Russia's defence ministry said.

"After spotting the ship, Russian pilots turned away from it in full compliance with safety measures.

"All flights of the Russian aircraft are in strict compliance with international rules of the use of air space above neutral waters."

The commander of the Donald Cook described the flights as a "simulated attack".

The passes were "unsafe, potentially provocative" and "could have caused an accident," officials said in a release.

The actions of the Russian jets may have violated a 1970s agreement meant to prevent dangerous incidents at sea, but it is not clear whether the US is going to protest.

A Russian helicopter taking pictures also passed by the ship seven times.

The Donald Cook was conducting deck landing drills with an allied military helicopter when the jets made their passes, according to a statement from the United States European Command.

The US suspended flight operations from the ship until the Russian jets left the area.

The next day, a Russian KA-27 helicopter flew circles at low altitude around the ship, followed by more jet passes.

The aircraft did not respond to safety warnings in English or Russian.

Source: bbc.com

Read more
15/Apr/2016

North Korea missile test fails, says South

North Korea conducted a missile test off its east coast on Friday morning, but the launch appears to have failed, say US and South Korean officials.

The rocket has not yet been identified but is suspected to have been a previously untested "Musudan" medium-range ballistic missile.

The launch coincided with the birthday of North Korea's founding leader, Kim Il-sung.

It also comes amid particularly high tension on the Korean peninsula.

This satellite image released by DigitalGlobe shows the Musudan-ri launch pad, centre right, and assembly building, left, in blue, in at the North Korean missile facility at Musudan-Ri, in southern North Hamgyong Province, North Korea on Sunday 29 March 2009.

The missile is named after the Musudan village in the northeast, where a launchpad is sited

South Korea's Yonhap national news agency quoted government sources as saying that the missile was a type of intermediate-range ballistic missile known as a Musudan, also called the BM-25.

North Korean forces were seen recently moving two such missiles.

The report said it would be the North's first Musudan test, and that it may have at least 50 more.

The Musudan is named after the village in North Korea's northeast where a launch pad is sited.

It has a range of about 3,000 km (1,800 miles), which extends to the US Army base on the Pacific island of Guam, but not as far as the mainland US.

The US said it had tracked the latest launch, but could also not confirm details,

"We call again on North Korea to refrain from actions and rhetoric that further raise tensions in the region and focus instead on taking concrete steps toward fulfilling its international commitments and obligations," a State Department official said.

China also criticised what it called "the latest in a string of sabre-rattling that, if unchecked, will lead the country to nowhere," according to the official Xinhua news agency.

The BBC's Stephen Evans in Seoul says that even though it failed, the test illustrates the determination of current leader Kim Jong-un to get the ability to strike the United States, but also the North's technological limitations.

The North has made a series of threats against the South and the US since the UN imposed some of its toughest ever sanctions on the country.

The move was a response to the North's fourth nuclear test in January and its launching of a satellite in February, both of which broke existing sanctions.

In March, North Korea said it had developed nuclear warheads small enough to fit on ballistic missiles. However, experts cast doubt on the claims.

The birthday of North Korea's founder - Mr Kim's grandfather - is significant. Four years ago, the North tried to celebrate it with a similar missile launch, but that, too failed.

Source: bbc.com

 

Read more
15/Apr/2016

US Election 2016: Clinton and Sanders raise the volume in feisty debate

Presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders ratcheted up their attacks in a bruising, final debate before next Tuesday's New York primary.

The Democratic race has turned increasingly negative in recent days as the candidates traded barbs about their qualifications for the presidency.

They also clashed on Wall Street banks, gun controls and the minimum wage.

Mr Sanders has won seven of the past eight contests, but Mrs Clinton holds a clear lead in race for the nomination.

The Democrats have largely avoided the personal attacks that have dominated the Republicans' debates.

But with so much at stake that changed in Thursday's debate.

"Does Secretary Clinton have the experience and intelligence to be president? Of course she does," Mr Sanders said at the debate. "But I do question her judgement."

Analysis by Anthony Zurcher, BBC North America Reporter

New York has a reputation for brashness and bellicosity, and it seemed that attitude may have rubbed off on the two participants in the Democratic debate in Brooklyn.

Practically from the opening bell, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders went after each other's policy positions and records with a vigour that stood in stark contrast to the polite exchanges of past debates. Sure, they were both qualified to be president, they admitted, but both questioned their opponent's "judgment".

The former secretary of state knocked Mr Sanders off balance on gun control, quipping when he let out a chuckle during her response that 30,000 people dying a year is "not a laughing matter". Meanwhile, the Vermont senator once again bashed Mrs Clinton for her support of the 2003 Iraq War - tying it to the same kind of "mentality" that led to an ill-fated US intervention in Libya.

At one point moderator Wolf Blitzer tried to break up a heated exchange by warning that "if you're both screaming at each other, the viewers won't be able to hear either of you".

They kept talking. At this point in the marathon Democratic campaign, neither side can afford to let an attack go unanswered.

Mr Sanders repeatedly criticised Mrs Clinton for her financial ties to Wall Street, particularly her paid speeches to an investment bank. He also faulted her for supporting the Iraq War.

Meanwhile, Mrs Clinton has questioned whether Mr Sanders has adequately thought out his policy proposals after he struggled to provide specifics during an interview with the New York Daily News.

"It's easy to diagnose the problem. It's another thing to do something about it," Mrs Clinton said.

The candidates' recent tensions were on display on stage. Mr Sanders mocked Mrs Clinton's responses at times while Mrs Clinton occasionally talked over her opponent.

Other highlights included:

  • Mr Sanders promised to release his past tax returns on Friday. but Mrs Clinton said she would not release transcripts of her paid speeches
  • Mrs Clinton said she would support a $15 federal minimum wage if it was passed by a Democratic Congress
  • Mrs Clinton aggressively criticised Mr Sanders' record on gun control, pointing out he voted to shield gun makers from legal liabilities
  • Mr Sanders spoke passionately about the threat of climate change. "Those little steps are not enough," he said of the policies of the Obama administration
  • Mrs Clinton defended her role in the US intervention in Libya; Mr Sanders faulted her for the breakdown in security in that country
  • Mr Sanders called for European allies to contribute more financial support to Nato, echoing sentiments from Republican front-runner Donald Trump
  • "We can't continue to be one sided," Mr Sanders said of America's role in solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
  • Mrs Clinton offered a full-throated defence of abortion rights, eliciting cheers from the crowd

More on the 2016 campaign

Ideological spectrum showing Democratic candidates' positions on healthcare

Mr Sanders is one of the most left-leaning candidates in recent history

The Democrats on the issues - How do Mr Sanders and Mrs Clinton compare to past Democrats?

#BernieMadeMeWhite: Minority supporters of Sanders speak out - Supporters push back against "all-white" narrative

Is Wall Street a problem for Hillary Clinton? - Support from the financial sector is an asset and liability

Full US election coverage from the BBC


A resurgent Mr Sanders has won seven of the last eight contests, sparking a groundswell of enthusiasm from his supporters.

The Sanders campaign drew more than 25,000 people to a rally on Wednesday in Washington Square in Manhattan.

However, buoyed by earlier wins across the southern US, Mrs Clinton holds a sizeable lead in the number delegates needed to secure the nomination.

Many analysts believe that Mr Sanders needs to pull off an upset in New York to remain viable in the race.

Mrs Clinton, who represented the state in US Senate for two terms, holds a commanding lead in New York, according to recent polls.

Source: bbc.com

 

Read more
15/Apr/2016

US election: Trump accuses Republican leaders of conspiracy

Republican Donald Trump has said the party's leaders do not want him to win the presidential nomination.

The system was "stacked" against him, he said in New York, accusing the Republican National Committee (RNC) of conspiring against him.

His comments come after his rival Ted Cruz was awarded all the delegates in Colorado without a state-wide vote.

Mr Trump leads the race but may fall short of getting enough delegates to get the nomination outright.

That would lead to a contested convention in July, where delegates are free after the first ballot to back whom they want, opening the door for Texas Senator Mr Cruz or even the third candidate in the race, John Kasich.

The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that Mr Cruz is likely to win on a second vote, because he has persuaded so many delegates to vote for him when they are "unbound" to vote as pledged.

But Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus rejected Mr Trump's charge that the rules in states like Colorado had been changed in response to his rise in the polls.

Mr Priebus tweeted that the nomination process had been well known for more than a year.

"It's the responsibility of the campaigns to understand it. Complaints now? Give us all a break."

Asked at a town hall event in New York whether the RNC wanted him to win, Mr Trump said: "No, I don't think so. I really don't."

He has been criticised for not campaigning hard enough on the ground in states like Colorado.

But Mr Trump said delegates who wanted to support him were being pushed out by the RNC.

"They don't like when I put up my own money because it means they don't have any control of me because I'm working for the people," he said.


Analysis - Anthony Zurcher, BBC North America reporter

Donald Trump's insurgent presidential candidacy has proven to be extremely successful in besting a fractured Republican field at the ballot box, propelling him to a commanding lead in the race for the nomination.

What his campaign has not been built to do is engage in the gruelling, behind-the-scenes political combat that comes in the weeks and months after the headline-generating nominating contests. Although Mr Trump has received almost 2 million more votes than Ted Cruz, it's the Texas senator who is prevailing in the unglamorous race to ensure that the Republican National Convention floor is packed with loyalists who, in a nominating free-for-all, will stand by their candidate.

Before Mr Trump complains too loudly about the undemocratic nature of the process, however, it should be noted that at least so far he's won a larger share of pledged convention delegates (45%) than he has of the raw vote in nomination contests (37%).

In this close, contentious primary season, the veneer of accountability is rubbing off, exposing the sometimes unsightly gears that still power the US political system. It isn't a pretty sight - and it's difficult for anyone to claim the moral high ground.

Is the US presidential race 'rigged'?


Most states have opted to hold state-wide primaries or caucuses to determine the number of delegates pledged to a particular candidate.

But Colorado decided last summer to select its delegates in a different way, at its own state convention.

The state-by-state primary contests come to New York next week where a high number of delegates will be up for grabs.

Several senior Republicans have expressed opposition to Mr Trump winning, doubting his ability to win a general election and disagreeing with his hard line on immigration.

Mr Trump has broken an earlier pledge he made to support whoever the Republicans nominate, therefore refusing to rule out a third-party run.

He has said there will be "riots" if he is not chosen as the party's nominee, having headed to the convention with the most delegates.

Source: bbc.com

Read more
13/Apr/2016

Minister John Whittingdale admits relationship with escort

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale has admitted he had a relationship with an escort but said he did not know her real occupation.

He said he ended the relationship as soon as he found out, in February 2014.

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said it raises questions about his role in press regulation, given some papers had the story but did not publish it.

Mr Whittingdale insisted it had not compromised his job as culture, media and sport secretary, from May 2015.

Downing Street said Mr Whittingdale "is a single man entitled to a private life" and had the full confidence of Prime Minister David Cameron.

'Bit embarrassing'

Mr Whittingdale told BBC Newsnight: "Between August 2013 and February 2014, I had a relationship with someone who I first met through Match.com.

"She was a similar age and lived close to me. At no time did she give me any indication of of her real occupation and I only discovered this when I was made aware that someone was trying to sell a story about me to tabloid newspapers. As soon as I discovered, I ended the relationship.

"This is an old story which was a bit embarrassing at the time. The events occurred long before I took up my present position and it has never had any influence on the decisions I have made as culture secretary."

Labour shadow cabinet minister Chris Bryant, who was shadow culture secretary until September last year, said: "It seems the press were quite deliberately holding a sword of Damocles over John Whittingdale.

"He has a perfect right to a private life but as soon as he knew this he should have withdrawn from all regulation of the press.

Mr Bryant added that the prime minister had promised to fully implement the recommendation of the Leveson Inquiry into press standards, adding: "That's what he should deliver."

Public interest

Before taking up the cabinet post Mr Whittingdale served as chairman of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee for a decade.

Earlier this month the journalism website Byline reported that Mr Whittingdale had had a relationship with a professional dominatrix and fetish escort.

BBC political correspondent Ben Wright says the fact the story stayed out of the press has raised questions about a potential conflict of interest involving the man in charge of media regulation and the motivation of newspapers and broadcasters not to report it.

A number of newspapers told Newsnight they did not run the story because it was not in the public interest.

However, Brian Cathcart, co-founder of campaign group Hacked Off which wants tougher press regulation, said Mr Whittingdale's credibility had been damaged.

Source: bbc.com

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12/Apr/2016

Paul Ryan rules out 2016 presidential bid

US House Speaker Paul Ryan has officially ruled out making a late attempt to become the Republican presidential nominee.

"I do not want, nor will I accept the Republican nomination," he said.

Mr Ryan's name was floated as a late contender if there is a contested convention in July, as doubts persist over the strength of the candidates.

If Donald Trump, John Kasich nor Ted Cruz is able to win 1,237 delegates, the convention will be contested.

The state-by-state primary contests, which come to New York next week, determine the number of delegates pledged to a particular candidate.

Mr Trump is still well ahead in the number of delegates accumulated but may fall short of the magic number required.


Only two men left - Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

In 1886 former civil war general William Sherman set the gold standard for disavowing interest in serving as US president. "I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected," he bluntly stated.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan may not reach Shermanesque levels of certainty with Tuesday's statement, but the move should put the latest round of rampant speculation and rumour-mongering to rest.

The Ryan presidential boomlet was largely a result of growing desperation among Republicans who see a presidential ticket headed by the epically unpopular Donald Trump as an unmitigated disaster and by absolutist Ted Cruz as only a slightly mitigated disaster.

Mr Ryan won't be their establishment-friendly "white knight", however, and there are few others out there with the stature to pull off such an unlikely convention coup.

Former candidate Mitt Romney? Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker? At this point, anyone other than Mr Cruz or Mr Trump - the two men who have slogged through the presidential season and won the votes and delegates - appears to be pure fantasy.

How does a contested convention work?

Five ways Republican bloodbath could end

Profile: House Speaker Paul Ryan


At a contested convention, the delegates are free after the first ballot to back whom they want, opening the door for Texas Senator Mr Cruz or even the third candidate in the race, Mr Kasich.

Some in the party had hoped Mr Ryan would emerge as a candidate at that stage, believing he would be a more effective and less divisive figure than Mr Trump or Mr Cruz.

Speaking at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, Mr Ryan - who ran as Mitt Romney's running mate in the 2012 presidential election - ruled himself out unequivocally.

But some commentators were quick to point out that he said he did not want to run for Speaker of the House last year before eventually accepting the job.

Source: bbc.com

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12/Apr/2016

President Obama: Libya aftermath 'worst mistake' of presidency

US President Barack Obama has said failing to prepare for the aftermath of the ousting of Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi was the worst mistake of his presidency.

Mr Obama was answering a series of questions on the highs and lows of his time in office on Fox News.

He said, however, that intervening in Libya had been "the right thing to do".

The US and other countries carried out strikes designed to protect civilians during the 2011 uprising.

But after the former Libyan leader was killed, Libya plunged into chaos with militias taking over and two rival parliaments and governments forming.

How Obama learned the limits of US power

So-called Islamic State (IS) gained a foothold, and Libya became a major departure point for migrants trying to reach Europe.

A UN-backed national unity government arrived in the capital Tripoli earlier this month but is waiting to take charge.

The leader of the faction ruling western Libya has threatened to prosecute any of his ministers who co-operate with the UN-backed administration, contradicting an earlier announcement the ministers would stand down.


President Obama gave the brief but revealing answer speaking to Chris Wallace:

CW: Worst mistake?

Obama: Probably failing to plan for the day after, what I think was the right thing to do, in intervening in Libya.


It is not the first time President Obama has expressed regret over Libya. He told the Atlantic magazine last month the operation went as well as he had hoped, but Libya was now "a mess".

In that interview, he also criticised France and the UK, in particular saying British Prime Minister David Cameron became "distracted" after the intervention.

It was a rare rebuke for a close ally and one which BBC correspondents at the time said angered Downing Street.

President Obama told Fox that his biggest accomplishment in office was "saving the economy from the great depression".

He said the best day of his presidency was when he passed the healthcare reforms. The worst, he said, was responding to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school.

Mr Obama discussed his legacy in a BBC interview last year, saying his failure to pass tighter gun control laws was the biggest frustration of his presidency.


Libya timeline

February 2011: Protests against Colonel Gaddafi's regime erupt in Libya

March 2011: UN Security Council authorises a no-fly zone over Libya and air strikes to protect civilians

October 2011: Gaddafi is captured and killed by rebel fighters

2012: Splits emerge as the transitional government struggle to rein in local militias

September 2012: The US ambassador and three other Americans are killed when Islamist militants storm the consulate in eastern Benghazi

June 2014: Disputed elections are held. Two governments are formed: one in the capital Tripoli, the other UN-backed administration in eastern Torbruk

January 2015: The UN announces a new interim government but it is yet to take charge

Source: bbc.com

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12/Apr/2016

Venezuela's Supreme Court overturns amnesty bill

Venezuela's Supreme Court has overturned an amnesty for jailed opposition leaders approved by the opposition-controlled parliament.

About 70 activists opposed to President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government had been due for release under the law approved last month.

But the court declared the amnesty law unconstitutional.

President Maduro had condemned the law as an attempt to destabilise his leadership of the country.

The Supreme Court has consistently backed the Venezuelan government since the opposition triumphed in congressional elections in December.

In a statement, the court said the amnesty law was unconstitutional because it covered offences "that are acts of organised crime, which are not related to crimes of a political nature".

Leopoldo Lopez: Venezuela's maverick opposition leader

Venezuela opposition pushed for Maduro's exit

What changes will the new Congress bring?

The opposition won parliamentary elections largely on a promise to work towards the release of dozens of what it considers political prisoners.

Among the detainees is Leopoldo Lopez, a prominent opposition leader who was sentenced to 13 years and nine months in prison last year for inciting violence during mass protests.

The prosecutor in the case later fled Venezuela and told media abroad that Mr Lopez's conviction had been a political show trial.

Government officials maintain that Mr Lopez is responsible for violence that erupted during protests in which 43 people were killed in 2014.

Other political leaders who were set to be freed include the former Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, who is under house arrest, and the former mayor of San Cristobal, Daniel Ceballos.

Members of the governing PSUV party had said the amnesty was a carte blanche for "murderers".

President Maduro had the choice of signing the law, sending it back to the National Assembly or challenging it before the Supreme Court.

Last week, he told supporters that he had decided to ask the court to invalidate the "criminal" bill.

After the Supreme Court's ruling, he said he would set up a truth commission to deal with jailed opposition activists' cases and that opposition members would be invited to join.

Critics of the government say the top court is stacked with supporters of the president.

Venezuela is deeply divided into those who support the socialist government of Nicolas Maduro and those who oppose it.

In February, the opposition announced it would try to drive President Maduro from power by means of a recall referendum or a constitutional amendment to shorten his term.

The government denounced the plans as an attempted coup.

Source: bbc.com

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12/Apr/2016

Brazil impeachment: Vote deals new blow to Rousseff

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff has suffered a blow to her hopes of staving off impeachment proceedings, after a committee voted they should go ahead.

The 65-member congressional committee voted 38 to 27 to recommend impeachment over claims she manipulated government accounts to hide a growing deficit.

All eyes will now be on a full vote in the lower house on 17 or 18 April.

The issue has divided Brazil, with police preparing for mass protests in the capital, Brasilia.

The vote took place amid chaotic scenes with supporters and opponents of President Rousseff shouting slogans and waving placards.

The committee's vote, while largely symbolic, was being watched as a measure of how much support there is for the impeachment process ahead of the crucial vote in the full lower house of Congress.

There, 342 votes in favour are needed to send the matter on to the Senate. The latest opinion poll by the Estadao daily suggests 292 are in favour, 115 against and 106 undecided.

Analysis by Wyre Davies, BBC South America Correspondent

President Rousseff, whose popularity has dived in recent months, has been hit by a faltering economy and a damaging corruption scandal focused on the state-controlled oil giant Petrobras which has implicated several senior politicians and business leaders.

Although opinion polls regularly indicate that a majority of Brazilians support the impeachment process, President Rousseff and her supporters in the ruling Workers Party say the proceedings in Congress amount to a parliamentary coup against a democratically elected government.

They point out that, unlike many of the Congressmen sitting in judgment against her, Ms Rousseff has not been formally accused in the Petrobras corruption probe but is being "tried" on lesser charges of manipulating government accounts to conceal a growing deficit.

During a bad-tempered debate leading up to the vote, Attorney General Jose Eduardo Cordozo, speaking for the president, said the impeachment process was "flawed".

"It is absurd to dismiss a president who has not committed crimes, nor stolen a penny. And such a process without crime or fraud, would be a coup," he said.

Opposition lawmaker Vanderlei Macris said an impeachment would be important to Brazilian society and would bring change.

Rousseff under pressure

The Brazilian president faces a battle to stay in power

  • 513 members of the lower house of Congress

  • 342 votes needed for her suspension

  • 172 votes needed to block her impeachment

  • 180 days she would be suspended for while the Senate debates her impeachment

Read more
12/Apr/2016

US election: Tensions escalate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders

Hillary Clinton has dismissed as "ridiculous" a charge by Bernie Sanders that she is "unqualified" to be president, as tensions rise in the Democratic race.

The Vermont senator stood by his comments, pointing to her Wall Street links and her vote for the war in Iraq.

He said she started the latest war of words by attacking him first.

The two candidates will do battle in a New York showdown in two weeks, a state where both have strong links.

There is much at stake, as the former secretary of state tries to stem the momentum of the self-described democratic socialist, who has a string of wins behind him.

Mr Sanders beat Mrs Clinton in the Wisconsin primary contest on Tuesday, and could pick up more delegates in Wyoming on Saturday before the greater prize of New York is up for grabs.


Analysis - Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

Is it a sign of desperation from a losing campaign or a proportional response to an earlier unfair attack? Whatever the reason, Bernie Sanders's recent criticisms of Hillary Clinton as "unqualified" for the presidency represent a marked escalation in the war of words between the two candidates.

Mrs Clinton's supporters are bristling at the remarks, which they consider both sexist and patently untrue, given the former secretary of state's weighty political biography.

The Vermont senator's point, however, is that Mrs Clinton's lengthy experience within the establishment isn't a mark in her favour, it's a flaw that makes her beholden to the special interests he has spent his campaign denouncing.

With what could be a decisive New York primary less than two weeks away, the battle lines are clearly forming and the rhetoric is only just starting to heat up.

Democrats often boast of the substantiveness of their presidential nomination contest, particularly compared to the ongoing Republican slugfest.

This relatively genteel atmosphere may not persist through a rough-and-tumble contest in the Empire State, however, with its tabloid media culture that trumpets every squawk and squabble. In the political pressure cooker that is New York politics, things may be about to take an ugly turn.


The latest row began on Wednesday when Mrs Clinton was asked if Mr Sanders was qualified to be president, after he gave a newspaper interview in which he appeared to struggle to answer some questions.

"I think he hadn't done his homework and he'd been talking for more than a year about doing things that he obviously hasn't really studied or understood, and that does raise a lot of questions," she told MSNBC's Morning Joe.

On Wednesday night, Bernie Sanders told a crowd of supporters at Temple University that Mrs Clinton had accused him of being unqualified.

"Well let me, let me just say in response to Secretary Clinton, I don't believe that she is qualified if she is, through her super PAC [fundraising committee], taking tens of millions of dollars in special interest funds," he said.

"I don't think you are qualified if you get $15 million from Wall Street through your super PAC."

He went on to list her backing of the Iraq War and her support of trade agreements as other disqualifications. On Thursday, he repeated his comments.

The Clinton campaign hit back, with spokesman Brian Fallon tweeting: "Hillary Clinton did not say Bernie Sanders was 'not qualified.' But he has now, absurdly, said it about her. This is a new low."

One of her senior aides, Christina Reynolds, said it was "a ridiculous and irresponsible attack for someone to make" against one of the most qualified candidates ever to run.

On the campaign trail, Mrs Clinton told Politico she explains things in a way more "open and truthful than my opponent," and said she explains what she would do as president rather than "lots of arm-waving and hot rhetoric".

In the Republican race, the two front-runners Ted Cruz and Donald Trump also traded insults on the campaign trail in New York.

Mr Trump, a businessman with no experience of elected office, accused the Texas senator of "hating" the city when he accused Mr Trump of having "New York values".

Source: bbc.com

Read more
08/Apr/2016

Panama Papers: Iceland PM Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson resigns

Iceland's prime minister has resigned - the first major casualty of the leaked Panama Papers that have shone a spotlight on offshore finance.

The leaks, from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, showed Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson owned an offshore company with his wife but had not declared it when he entered parliament

He is accused of concealing millions of dollars' worth of family assets.

Mr Gunnlaugsson says he sold his shares to his wife, and denies any wrongdoing.

He is one of dozens of high-profile global figures mentioned in the 11.5 million leaked financial and legal records, which were first published on Sunday.

Pressure on Mr Gunnlaugsson to quit had been building since then, with thousands of people protesting outside the parliament building in the capital Reykjavik on Monday and opposition parties tabling a confidence motion.

Earlier on Tuesday, the prime minister had asked President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson to dissolve parliament and call an early election.

But Mr Grimsson said he first wanted to consult leaders of the Independence Party, which has been in the ruling coalition with Mr Gunnlaugsson's Progressive Party since 2013.

Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson, the chairman of the Independence Party, said the prime minister's request had come as a "total surprise" and was not "the rational thing to do".

Later, ahead of the proposed confidence vote, Mr Gunnlaugsson announced he was stepping down.

The Progressive Party's deputy leader, Agriculture Minister Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson, told reporters after a meeting that the party planned to name him as the new leader and propose that he become prime minister.

Despite the resignation, Katrín Jakobsdottir, head of the Left-Green Movement, told the Reuters news agency that opposition parties still wanted early elections.


Other Panama Papers reaction

  • Fifa president Gianni Infantino signed off on a TV rights contract with businessmen subsequently accused of bribery, leaked documents show
  • France returns Panama to a list of countries which fail to co-operate over tax evasion
  • Panama says it is considering retaliatory measures against France, but reiterates that is ready to co-operate with any investigations stemming from the leaks
  • Chile: the country head of the anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International, Gonzalo Delaveau, steps down after his name emerges in the documents
  • US President Barack Obama says tax avoidance is a global problem and governments should not make it easy for illegal funds to move around the world
  • Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif orders judicial investigation into allegations of family links with offshore companies

Panama Papers: Q&A

Watergate to Wikileaks: Leaks that shook the world


The documents leaked from Mossack Fonseca show that Mr Gunnlaugsson and his wife bought the company Wintris in 2007.

He did not declare an interest in the company when entering parliament in 2009. He sold his 50% of Wintris to his wife, Anna Sigurlaug Palsdottir, for $1 (£0.70) eight months later.

Mr Gunnlaugsson maintains no rules were broken and his wife did not benefit financially.

The offshore company was used to invest millions of dollars of inherited money, according to a document signed by Mrs Palsdottir in 2015.

Court records show that Wintris had significant investments in the bonds of three major Icelandic banks that collapsed during the financial crisis which began in 2008.

Some of Icelanders' anger is believed to stem from the perceived conflict of interest.

The prime minister was involved in negotiations about the banks' future and had characterised foreign creditors who wanted their money back as "vultures", while Wintris itself was a creditor.

Mr Gunnlaugsson had kept his wife's interest in the outcome a secret.

In a resignation statement, Mr Gunnlaugsson said he had no wish to stand in the way of further government work, such as reform of the financial system.

Addressing the issue of his wife's assets, the statement says the couple have "never sought to hide these assets from Icelandic tax authorities and these holdings in Wintris have been reported as an asset on the prime minister's wife's income tax returns since 2008 and taxes have been paid accordingly in Iceland.

"No parliamentary rules on disclosure have been broken. Even the Guardian and other media covering the story have confirmed that they have not seen any evidence to suggest that the prime minister, his wife, or Wintris engaged in any actions involving tax avoidance, tax evasion, or any dishonest financial gain."


Panama Papers - tax havens of the rich and powerful exposed

  • Eleven million documents held by the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca have been passed to German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, which then shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. BBC Panorama is among 107 media organisations - including UK newspaper the Guardian - in 76 countries which have been analysing the documents. The BBC does not know the identity of the source
  • They show how the company has helped clients launder money, dodge sanctions and evade tax
  • Mossack Fonseca says it has operated beyond reproach for 40 years and never been accused or charged with criminal wrong-doing
  • Tricks of the trade: How assets are hidden and taxes evaded
  • Panama Papers: Full coverage; follow reaction on Twitter using #PanamaPapers; in the BBC News app, follow the tag "Panama Papers"
  • Watch Panorama on the BBC iPlayer (UK viewers only)

Source: bbc.com

 

Read more
05/Apr/2016

For Bernie Sanders, it's momentum versus math

Bernie Sanders can now boast four wins in a row and victories in six of the last seven contests for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Despite all the talk about the challenges he faces in trying to catch Hillary Clinton, it's still a remarkable achievement given how far back he started from the former secretary of state when the race began last year.

The Vermont senator wasn't in Wisconsin to relish the win, however. He chose to spend primary night instead at a rally in Wyoming, which holds its Democratic caucus on Saturday.

For Mr Sanders every delegate counts if he wants to catch Mrs Clinton - a formidable task given the sizable lead she built up by routing the Vermont senator in contests across the South last month.

But even if it doesn't give him much of a delegate boost, this Wisconsin result does offer Mr Sanders that most precious of political commodities - momentum.

He'll likely post another victory in Wyoming, and then all eyes turn to New York in two weeks - where Mr Sanders grew up and Mrs Clinton served as a senator for six years.

Mr Sanders, if his recent string of victories is to be anything more than a political footnote, will need to attract black and Hispanic votes in numbers he has yet achieve. If he can do that, then the narrative in this race stops being Mrs Clinton's inevitability and becomes a question of whether the front-runner can hang on.

If New York is the key, however, Mr Sanders's campaign there may be stumbling out of the gate. Today he received a raft of negative press for an interview he gave with the editorial board of the Daily News, a New York City newspaper, that critics say exposes his thin grasp on the issues - and foreign policy in particular.

When asked about Israeli-relations, the senator said he didn't know the answer to some questions and wasn't qualified to respond to others. He said he hasn't thought much about where so-called Islamic State leaders captured by the US should be held and didn't know whether President Barack Obama has the right policy to deal with IS.

He even demurred on questions about whether the US government has the authority to order the breakup of banks that the president determines are too powerful.

"If a bank is too big to fail, it is too big to exist," he said. "And then you have the secretary of treasury and some people who know a lot about this, making that determination."

Gloves come off for Clinton and Sanders - It's crunch time in the Democratic race and nerves are starting to fray

#BernieMadeMeWhite: Minority supporters of Sanders speak out - Supporters push back against "all-white" narrative

Trump, Clinton and the 'None of the Above' era - Rarely have those running for high office been held in such low esteem

Full US election coverage from the BBC


The headlines following the interview were scathing. "This New York Daily News interview was pretty close to a disaster for Bernie Sanders," read the Washington Post.

"Even on bread-and-butter matters like breaking up the big banks, the Democratic presidential hopeful came across as tentative, unprepared or unaware," wrote the Atlantic's David Graham.

It didn't take long for the Clinton camp to pounce, either.

"We've said for a long time that this primary is about who's really going to be able to get things done," the campaign said in a news release on Tuesday night. "And from reading this interview, you get the impression Senator Sanders hasn't thought very much about that."

New York politics can be rough and tumble. The tabloid culture in the New York City tends to reward politicians who are both aggressive and thick-skinned.

The Wisconsin win was sweet for Mr Sanders, but he is about to face the biggest test of his campaign. In two weeks he could be on his way back in the race - or left licking his wounds.

Source: bbc.com

Read more
05/Apr/2016

US Election 2016: Cruz wins Wisconsin in blow to Trump

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has decisively won the Wisconsin primary, complicating front-runner Donald Trump's path to the nomination.

In the Democratic race, Bernie Sanders scored a strong victory over Hillary Clinton in the Midwestern state.

Mr Trump leads the Republican race, but there are concerns that he could fall short of the number of delegates needed to secure the party's nomination.

Mr Trump's rivals have pinned their hopes on a contested convention.

At a contested convention, party leaders, not voters, would choose the nominee.

"Tonight is a turning point, it is a rallying cry to the people of America," Mr Cruz told supporters in Milwaukee on Tuesday. "We are winning because we are uniting the Republican Party."

Mr Cruz is unlikely to earn enough delegates to win the nomination outright, but Republican Party leaders have rallied around the Texas senator in hopes of wounding Mr Trump.


Analysis: Jon Sopel, BBC News North America Editor

Who knew it? Newton was right; there is such a thing as gravity after all.

I'm not much of a scientist, but I had, well, started to doubt him. I thought maybe he hadn't got it right with the whole thing about the apple falling. After nine months of the most improbable act of levitation ever seen outside of a circus or a weightlessness laboratory, the blond sorcerer has come down to earth.

No, he didn't reach terminal velocity. And as falls go, it wasn't that serious. He's got a few scrapes, and maybe that over-inflated ego has had some of the air knocked out. You could hear the hissing sound from miles away. But a fall it has been.

And that is remarkable and worthy of note. Because for nine months now it has seemed that Donald Trump could say and do whatever he liked without there being consequences.

But then he took on women. And so Wisconsin is lost. And Mr Trump has shown he is mortal.

Read more from Jon


Mr Trump said on Tuesday he would prevail despite the loss and took aim at his rival.

"Ted Cruz is worse than a puppet - he is a Trojan horse, being used by the party bosses attempting to steal the nomination," the Trump campaign said in a statement.

Party leaders are concerned that Mr Trump would be a weak candidate in the general election and could harm other Republicans lawmakers on the ballot.

Polls show that the real estate tycoon is extremely unpopular among key voting blocs including women, Latinos and young people.

Marlow Mittelstaedt holds a sign and cheers while waiting for the arrival of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.,

New York will be a key test for the Sanders campaign

On the Democratic side, Wisconsin adds to a recent spate of wins by the Sanders campaign, giving the Vermont senator a boost before key races in New York and Pennsylvania.

Addressing supporters in Wyoming, Mr Sanders stressed momentum was on his side and that his outsider candidacy could change the status quo.

"Real change never takes place from the top down; it always takes place from the bottom up," Mr Sanders told supporters.

Mrs Clinton still holds a sizeable lead and most analysts say she will eventually become the Democratic nominee despite her recent losses.

While Tuesday's loss was a setback for Mr Trump, his campaign has time to rebound.


More on the 2016 campaign

US election 2016: Wisconsin Primary - Complete results as votes are counted

For Bernie Sanders, it's momentum versus math - The Sanders campaign is on a winning streak

Trump's disastrous women voter problem - This voting bloc could doom in chances in the general election

Full US election coverage from the BBC


The campaign now moves to large north-eastern states, where polls show Mr Trump holds significant leads.

Mr Trump's loss in Wisconsin comes after a rocky week for the campaign, particularly with female voters.

The New York businessman repeatedly struggled to articulate his position on abortion. At one point, he called for women to be punished for having abortions, then quickly changed his mind.

His campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was also arrested, accused of manhandling a female journalist. Mr Trump has vehemently defended Mr Lewandowski and rebuffed calls to fire him.

Meanwhile, outside groups opposed to Mr Trump's nomination stepped up their efforts in Wisconsin, running negative television adverts.

Popular state leaders such as Governor Scott Walker and influential talk radio programme hosts also opposed the Trump campaign and threw their support behind Mr Cruz.

Source: bbc.com

 

Read more
05/Apr/2016

Donald Trump urges John Kasich to quit White House race

Republican front-runner Donald Trump has said he would easily win the Republican nomination if John Kasich drops out of the contest.

He said the Ohio governor should not stay in the contest because he cannot collect enough delegates to win.

His comments came just ahead of Tuesday's Wisconsin vote which could reshape the Republican race.

"If I didn't have Kasich, I automatically win," Mr Trump said at a rally in Wisconsin.

If Mr Trump loses the primary contest on Tuesday, as the polls suggest, it is far less likely he will have the all-important 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination.

Delegates represent their states at the party's convention and are accumulated by the votes in each state.

Currently, Mr Trump has 735 delegates, Texas Senator Ted Cruz 461 and Ohio Governor Mr Kasich 143.

If no-one hits 1,237 after all 50 states have voted, the Republican convention in July is contested, meaning the delegates vote for a nominee, and Mr Trump, who is unpopular among sections of the party, could lose the nomination.

The New York businessman has had a very difficult seven days, sparking outcry over comments he made about abortion, standing by his campaign manager after he was charged with assaulting a reporter and raising eyebrows with remarks about US foreign policy.

"Was this my best week? I guess not," Mr Trump told "Fox News Sunday".


More on the Trump campaign

Femme fatale- How Trump's women problem could doom his chances

Nukes in Asia - Is Trump's foreign policy so crazy it might just work?

What might happen - Five ways Republican bloodbath could end

None of the Above - Rarely have those running for high office been held in such low esteem

How it all works - It's complicated, but here's a handy guide


A loss in Wisconsin, which is the kind of state he has done well in up to now, then questions will be raised about whether his campaign is running out of steam.

He met the Republican National Committee (RNC) in Washington to review delegate and party rules, days after breaking a promise made to them that he would back the eventual nominee.

In response to Mr Trump's comments that Mr Kasich should follow former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Florida Senator Marco Rubio and quit the race, the Ohio Governor said he will stay because no-one will get the required number to win outright.

"Since he thinks it's such a good idea, we look forward to Trump dropping out before the convention," Kasich spokesman Chris Schrimpf said.

Mr Kasich has recognised that he will not be able to gain enough delegates before the convention.

Reince Priebus, president of the RNC, has said the nominee will be someone who is running, but acknowledged that a brokered convention is a possibility.

The Democrats are campaigning ahead of Wisconsin's primary as well, where Hillary Clinton is hoping to hold off a resurgent Bernie Sanders.

What is a brokered convention?

  • no candidate has 1,237 delegates needed to secure nomination
  • someone who was not previously running can be elected by delegates at the party convention
  • delegates can decide not to back their original candidate
  • there can be a "floor fight" in which delegates urge one another to come to their side, with multiple rounds of voting

Source: bbc.com

Read more
04/Apr/2016

Libya's unity government leaders in Tripoli power bid

Leaders of Libya's new unity government have arrived in the capital, Tripoli, by boat in an attempt to take control.

Over recent days, Tripoli's airspace has been intermittently closed to stop the Presidency Council, which has been based in Tunisia, from arriving by air.

Libya's UN envoy called for "a peaceful and orderly handover".

But hardliners in the coalition that controls Tripoli are opposed to the UN-brokered deal aimed at reconciling a nation split by five years of conflict.

In a televised address, the head of the Tripoli authorities, Khalifa Ghweil, said he regarded the politicians as interlopers and said they were not welcome.

He urged "the illegitimate outsiders to surrender and be safe in our custody or to return to where they came from".

Late on Wednesday, journalists from a television channel supportive of authorities in Tripoli said it was taken off air after gunmen stormed its offices. It was not clear to whom the gunmen were affiliated.

Libya has been in chaos since the 2011 overthrow of long-serving ruler Muammar Gaddafi by Nato-backed forces.

From 2014 it has had two competing administrations, one in Tripoli backed by powerful militias and the other about 1,000km (620 miles) away in the port city of Tobruk.


Militias in charge, says BBC's North Africa correspondent Rana Jawad

map

In the first hours after the politicians' arrival at the navy base, militias on armed pick-up trucks were seen securing most parts of the capital. But by early evening, gunfire from rival groups started ringing out.

It is not clear what their plan is, but things are now tense.

Many of the brigades in western Libya have fallen in line behind the Presidency Council. However, the reality is that these are the very same militias who led and facilitated the existence of the rival authorities in Tripoli since 2014.

Their continued prominent role means their status will not change - it simply puts any new government at their mercy. Ultimately they are Libya's rulers.

Militia allegiances often shift out of convenience and with the need to survive.

Key to any progress and long-term transformation of Libya will be having a government that can control these brigades.


In December, some rival lawmakers signed up to the UN agreement to form a unity government, but the deal has not yet been backed by all the country's many militia brigades that formed after the uprising.

The deal saw the formation of a nine-member Presidency Council, which includes the unity Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj who arrived with some of his deputies at a naval base in Tripoli on Wednesday.

Mr Sarraj said it was time to turn a new page and reconcile, saying he intended to build state institutions and implement a ceasefire.

"Revenge, alienation, antipathy, and hatred don't build a state," the AP news agency quoted him as saying.

The BBC's North Africa correspondent Rana Jawad says the Presidency Council has faced numerous challenges since its formation, chief of which has been its inability to establish a presence in Tripoli.

UN envoy Martin Kobler said the politicians' arrival in Tripoli - after at least two failed attempts to fly in - marked "an important step in Libya's democratic transition and path to peace, security and prosperity".

In a statement, he "urged all public bodies, including official financial institutions, to facilitate an immediate, orderly and peaceful handover of power".

US Secretary of State John Kerry said it was "not the time for obstructionists to hold back progress".

But our reporter says it is not clear how Mr Sarraj and his colleagues will be able to take over state institutions in Tripoli, given the stiff rivalry they face and the fact that members of his proposed cabinet are based all over the country.

The political and security vacuum in Libya has helped the so-called Islamic State group to establish a foothold in the north African country, carrying out attacks on cities and against oil installations.

Source: bbc.com

Read more
31/Mar/2016

Trump says punish women for illegal abortions, then back-tracks

Presidential candidate Donald Trump briefly called for "some form of punishment" for women who have abortions, if abortion became illegal.

His initial comments made during a town hall event with cable network MSNBC sparked a wave of criticism.

However, Mr Trump quickly reversed his position, saying only the person who performed the abortion should be punished.

But he maintained: "My position has not changed."

The front-runner supports a ban on abortions, with certain exceptions.

Abortion has been legal in the United States since 1973 after a landmark Supreme Court ruling.

Only the Supreme Court or a constitutional amendment has the power to overturn Roe v Wade and make abortion illegal.

Once a Democrat, Mr Trump has been criticised for supporting abortion rights in the past.


Analysis: Anthony Zurcher, BBC News North America reporter

Police keep watch as protesters demonstrate in front of the US Supreme Court

The Republican party's official position is that abortion should be illegal. Conservative politicians and anti-abortion activists who view abortion as akin to murder, however, tend to avoid outlining any criminal punishment for women who undergo the procedure, instead targeting the doctors responsible.

The reason for this is simple - to make abortion bans more acceptable to a general public that does not want to see possibly distraught women grappling with unwanted pregnancies sent to prison.

Donald Trump, as he is wont to do, just trampled through this carefully constructed conservative political dance with all the grace of a rhinoceros at a tea party. Thanks to his assertion, after prodding, that women should face "some form of punishment" for having an illegal abortion, the conservative pro-life movement is going to be forced to defend their beliefs on uncomfortable ground. Republican candidates will be asked, again and again, to defend or denounce Mr Trump's comments.

This is exactly the kind of scenario that terrifies Republican politicians about Mr Trump as their party's nominee. His ill-considered remarks and shoot-from-the-hip approach to media interviews could be a political minefield for their candidates in the autumn.

In all likelihood it's just a taste of things to come.


However, some anti-abortion groups criticised Mr Trump's initial comments as extreme.

"Mr Trump's comment today is completely out of touch with the pro-life movement and even more with women who have chosen such a sad thing as abortion," said Jeanne Mancini, President of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund.

"No pro-lifer would ever want to punish a woman who has chosen abortion."

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton has been an outspoken critic of Mr Trump's stance on women's issues.

"Just when you thought it couldn't get worse. Horrific and telling," said Mrs Clinton after his latest comments.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Mr Trump's closest rival in the Republican race, also condemned the billionaire.

"Once again Donald Trump has demonstrated that he hasn't seriously thought through the issues, and he'll say anything just to get attention," Mr Cruz said.

His spokesman Brian Phillips added on Twitter: "Don't overthink it: Trump doesn't understand the pro-life position because he's not pro-life."


More on the Trump campaign

The 40-year hurt - How Bruce Springsteen articulated the forces that underpin the rise of Trump

Trumpisms - 22 things that Trump believes

A civil war - Lifelong Republicans turned off by Trump


Republican leaders have expressed concern about Mr Trump's prospects in the general election because polls show that the New York businessman is extremely unpopular with female voters.

Mr Trump has come under fire for disparaging women including former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina and TV presenter Megyn Kelly.

"If Trump's words about women - calling us 'disgusting', 'slobs' and 'fat pigs' - didn't scare us, this should," said Kate Black of Emily's List, a group committed to electing female Democrats who support abortion rights.

His campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was arrested on Tuesday, accused of a minor assault on a female reporter. Mr Trump has vehemently defended Mr Lewandowski.

Anti-abortion activists traditionally have avoided placing blame on women who undergo abortions, but have focused on those who perform the procedure.

In recent years, conservatives have sought to tighten restrictions on abortion clinics and doctors rather than seek an outright ban.

Abortion rights advocates say these measures are meant to restrict women's access to abortion.

The new laws are particularly widespread in conservative southern states.

Source: bbc.com

Read more
31/Mar/2016

Mozambique police raid Renamo's offices and Dhlakama's home

Police in Mozambique say they have seized 47 weapons from the headquarters of the main opposition party, and the home of its leader, Afonso Dhlakama.

The weapons, which included AK-47 rifles, were used in violent crimes in the capital, Maputo, police alleged.

Mr Dhlakama's Renamo party condemned the raids as an "invasion".

Renamo fighters and government forces have been involved in clashes since disputed elections in 2014, raising fears that a civil war could resume.

The 17-year conflict ended in 1992 with a peace deal which led to the former rebel group turning into an opposition party.

Mr Dhlakama was not at his Maputo home during the police raid, reports the BBC's Jose Tembe from the city.

Fighters of former Mozambican rebel movement 'Renamo' receive military training on November 8, 2012 in Gorongosa's mountains, Mozambique

Some Renamo fighters remain armed, despite a peace deal

He is based in the remote Gorongosa mountains in central Mozambique, which was his headquarters when he was a rebel leader.

Police commander Julio Jane said military uniforms and communication equipment had also been seized during the raids.

"At Mr Dhlakama's house, we found 38 AK-47 rifles and seven pistols," he said.

For its part, Renamo accused police of "stealing" about $4,000 (£2,800) from its properties during the operation.

Mr Dhlakama would respond "politically" to the raids, it added.

Renamo has carried out a spate of attacks on civilians and government targets since the disputed election, as it insists on the right to govern six of Mozambique's 10 provinces.

Source: bbc.com

 

Read more
28/Mar/2016

US Election 2016: Cruz blames Trump for 'tabloid smear'

he feud between Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Donald Trump is becoming increasingly personal, with Mr Cruz accusing "sleazy Donald" of spreading rumours.

Mr Cruz told reporters that Mr Trump was behind a story in the National Enquirer that alleged Mr Cruz has had extramarital affairs.

Mr Cruz called the story "garbage, complete and utter lies".

"It is a tabloid smear and it has come from Donald Trump and his henchmen."

As evidence that Mr Trump planted the story, Mr Cruz pointed out that the only person quoted by name in the Enquirer story was Roger Stone, a former top adviser to the Trump campaign.

He also noted that Mr Trump and National Enquirer CEO David Pecker are close friends.


Rats, dirty tricks and politics: Tim Swift, BBC News, Washington

Roger Stone is one of the more colourful characters in Republican politics

Roger Stone is one of the more colourful characters in Republican politics

Ted Cruz came out swinging on Friday, condemning the Trump campaign in the strongest possible terms. Some of those terms may require additional explanation.

"He is a man for whom a term was coined for copulating with a rodent," Mr Cruz said of Roger Stone, a former Trump adviser. "Well let me be clear, Donald Trump may be a rat, but I have no desire to copulate with him."

What?

Mr Cruz is referring to an obscene rat-themed euphemism for political dirty tricks. Mr Stone is credited with coining the phrase.

Mr Stone got his start in politics working for President Richard Nixon. He later lost a position with Senator Bob Dole after a newspaper columnist named him as one of Nixon's "dirty tricksters". Such tricks included ordering hundreds of pizzas to be delivered to rival campaigns, cancelling opponents' rallies, and engaging in deplorable behaviour while pretending to represent other candidates.

Through the years, Mr Stone worked for various Republican politicians including Ronald Reagan. And he's never shed his reputation for hardball attacks.

In a 2007 profile in the Weekly Standard, Mr Stone was dubbed the "boastful black prince of Republican sleaze".


Asked whether he would still support Mr Trump, the current front-runner, if he won the Republican nomination, Mr Cruz did not answer directly.

But the Texas senator said: "I'm not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and my family."

"I had absolutely nothing to do with it," Mr Trump said in a statement.

On Tuesday, the candidates, who had been on good terms earlier in the campaign, began trading insults on Twitter.

http://ichef-1.bbci.co.uk/news/624/cpsprodpb/752A/production/_88949992_trumptweet.jpg

Mistakenly believing the Cruz campaign had produced an attack advert about his wife Melania, Mr Trump on Twitter threatened to "spill the beans" on Mr Cruz's wife, Heidi.

Mr Cruz responded saying his campaign did not produce the advert, calling Mr Trump "classless" and a "coward".

The next day, Mr Trump continued, posting an unflattering photo of Mrs Cruz on Twitter.

Mr Cruz responded, calling Mr Trump a "snivelling coward" and told him to "leave Heidi the hell alone".

Source: bbc.com

 

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25/Mar/2016

US Election 2016: Clinton condemns Trump's plans for Nato

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton rebuked Republicans and defended Nato in a counter-terrorism speech after deadly attacks in Brussels.

Her comments contrasted sharply with her Republican counterparts, namely Donald Trump, who has suggested scaling back US commitments to Nato.

Mrs Clinton said the US should consult more deeply with Arab partners and stand with Europe in its time of need.

"Our European allies stood with us on 9/11. It's time to return the favour."

America should not turn its back on its allies, she said during remarks at Stanford University in California, and insulting them is not a good way to fight terrorism.

She addressed Mr Trump's calls to reinstate the use of torture and water boarding to glean information from those accused of terrorism.

"I am proud to have been part of an administration that outlawed torture," the former secretary of state said.

The deadly attacks in Brussels that killed more than 30 people are the "latest brutal reminder" that more must be one to defeat to so-called Islamic State (IS) militant group, she said.

The US and Europe should take a "harder look" at airport security protocols, and other "soft targets" that IS may attack.

Mrs Clinton also said proposal in Congress to make a national commission on encryption could help fight online radicalisation.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz has suggested in the wake of the attacks that police patrol Muslim neighbourhoods to fight terrorism, and has also suggested "carpet-bombing" IS in Syria.

Mrs Clinton called his suggestion "wrong, counterproductive and dangerous," and that it would be similar to "treating American Muslims like criminals".

Mr Trump has said it is acceptable to kill terrorists' families and that the US should not admit any Muslims into its borders.

"If Mr Trump gets his way, it will be like Christmas in the Kremlin," she said of Mr Trump's foreign policy views.

Source: bbc.com

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23/Mar/2016

US Election 2016: Donald Trump struggles to win over Mormons

US presidential candidate Donald Trump has won over large blocs of religious voters, but one group of faithful conservatives has resisted - Mormons.

He lost contests in Idaho and Wyoming, which have large Mormon populations, and polls show him a distant second in Utah, where the church is based.

Tuesday's Republican caucuses in Utah could signal a weakness for Mr Trump.

Some early polls show that if Mr Trump advances to the general election, Utah voters would choose a Democrat.

The last time the state voted for a Democrat in a presidential election was 1964.

A win in Utah by Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders - the two battle in the state's Democratic caucuses on Tuesday - would represent a major shift in the typically static electoral map.

Also on Tuesday, Democrats will vote in Idaho while both parties are holding a primary races in Arizona.

One of the most prominent Mormons in the US, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, has recently led the charge against the Republican front-runner.

Mr Romney, who was the last Republican presidential nominee, has condemned the New York businessman, saying Mr Trump's campaign has become associated with "racism, misogyny, bigotry, xenophobia, vulgarity and, most recently, threats and violence".

Other religious groups have criticised Mr Trump's campaign rhetoric. This week a group of rabbis protested his speech to an American-Israeli lobbying group in Washington.

In February, Pope Francis expressed concerns about Mr Trump's plans to build a wall between the US and Mexico.

But these condemnations of have done little to halt the Trump campaign's momentum.

Election results and polling data have shown the candidate is extremely popular with working-class Catholics and evangelical Christians.

Founded in 1830, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the fourth largest religious group in the US and has throughout much of its history been associated with the Republican Party.

In recent years the church's membership has grown globally with 8 million of its 15 million followers living outside US.


More on the US presidential race

Jorge Ramos on Donald Trump's rise - Meet the Republican front-runner's nemesis

Who is funding the US election? - Money is a big issue in the 2016 US presidential race

Could Hillary Clinton face jail time? - The case of David Petraeus may signal how she will fare


It has a growing presence in Mexico, which Mr Trump has accused of sending criminals into the US and encouraging illegal immigration.

Unlike Mr Trump, the church has generally been supportive of immigration and the rights of immigrants.

Also, Mormons, once persecuted as a religious minority, have been unsettled by his plan to ban Muslims from entering the US.

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is neutral in regard to party politics and election campaigns," the church said in a statement after Mr Trump first proposed the ban in December. "However, it is not neutral in relation to religious freedom."

The statement went on to cite the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, who preached respect for other religions.

While other US governors sought to block Syrian refugees from their states in late 2015, Utah Governor Gary Herbert welcomed them.

McKay Coppins, a reporter for BuzzFeed who is Mormon, has written extensively about Mr Trump's problems with Mormon voters.

"His blatant religious illiteracy, his penchant for onstage cursing, his habit of flinging crude insults at women, his less-than-virtuous personal life and widely chronicled marital failures — all of this is anathema to the wholesome, family-first lifestyle that Mormonism promotes," Mr Coppins wrote.

Source: bbc.com

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22/Mar/2016

Rob Ford, Toronto ex-mayor, dies aged 46 from cancer

Former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has died at the age of 46 after fighting cancer, his family has said.

Mr Ford, who battled drug and alcohol addiction, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 2014.

He gained international notoriety after admitting smoking crack cocaine in 2013, but he was loved by supporters.

"A dedicated man of the people, Councillor Ford spent his life serving the citizens of Toronto," his family said in a statement.

He could not run for re-election as mayor in 2014 due to his cancer diagnosis, but won a city council seat in a landslide result.

His image contrasted sharply with Canada's usual calm, buttoned-up politics.

Profile: Former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford

Toronto ex-mayor: Everyone makes mistakes

Reacting to his death, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted: "Rob Ford fought cancer with courage and determination. My condolences and best wishes to the Ford family today."

The current mayor of Toronto, John Tory, said in a statement that "the city is reeling with this news".

"He was a man who spoke his mind and who ran for office because of the deeply felt convictions that he had.

"I know there are many who were affected by his gregarious nature and approach to public service.''

Scandal

While serving as Toronto mayor, Mr Ford was videotaped and photographed intoxicated in public areas.

"Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine," Mr Ford told reporters. "But... do I? Am I addict? No. Have I tried it? Probably in one of my drunken stupors, probably approximately about a year ago."

Despite the crack-smoking scandal, his popularity remained high with fans lining up to take photo with him.

He appealed to conservative, working-class people with his populist message. Many of his supporters in the 2010 Toronto mayoral election came from the outer suburbs of the city.

One of his key campaign promises was to "stop the gravy train" of government spending and he pledged to end "the war on the car".

During Canada's national election last year, Mr Ford threw his support behind former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who lost to Justin Trudeau, a liberal.

Mr Harper tweeted on Tuesday: "Rob was a fighter throughout life & dedicated public servant who will be remembered for his courage, love for Toronto & his family."

New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair tweeted also his condolences to Mr Ford's family, saying "46 is far too young to lose a loved one".

Mr Ford grew up in Etobicoke, a suburb of Toronto, dropping out of university after one year to work in his family business.

He is survived by his wife Renata and his two children, Stephanie and Doug.

Source: bbc.com

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22/Mar/2016

Mitt Romney: Vote for Ted Cruz over 'Trumpism'

Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney will vote for Texas Senator Ted Cruz, saying he is "repulsed" by Republican front-runner Donald Trump.

Mr Romney said in a Facebook post that the only way to nominate a Republican is to have an open convention, in which party officials choose the nominee.

He campaigned with Governor John Kasich in Ohio but said voting for Mr Cruz is the only way to stop "Trumpism".

He joins other Republican leaders coalescing around Mr Cruz.

Mr Trump has won the most state contests and holds 678 delegates - 1,237 are needed to win the nomination.

"Mitt Romney is a mixed up man who doesn't have a clue. No wonder he lost!" Mr Trump said on Twitter.

However Republican leaders are concerned that his controversial comments about immigrants, women and Muslims would make him a weak candidate in the general election in November.

Some also feel that the onetime Democrat cannot be trusted to implement conservative policies.

"Today, there is a contest between Trumpism and Republicanism," Mr Romney said. "Through the calculated statements of its leader, Trumpism has become associated with racism, misogyny, bigotry, xenophobia, vulgarity and, most recently, threats and violence. I am repulsed by each and every one of these."


Analysis: Anthony Zurcher, BBC North America Reporter

It turns out Mitt Romney's speech roundly condemning Donald Trump two weeks ago was just an opening salvo in what could be a long war against the New York businessman.

With the Utah primary days away, the 2012 Republican nominee, still highly respected among the state's large Mormon population, is casting his lot with - and personal ballot for - Ted Cruz in a last-ditch attempt to stop "Trumpism" from taking over his party.

Mr Romney and the Texas senator are certainly strange political bedfellows. One is the face of the party's genteel establishment; the other a bomb-throwing backbencher who has spent more time condemning his party's leadership than courting it.

The goal for Mr Romney continues to be a political street fight at an open Republican convention. The former Massachusetts governor has apparently concluded that this necessitated sticking the knife in Mr Trump's other opponent, Ohio Governor John Kasich, and going all-in with Mr Cruz.

His efforts prior to the last round of voting did little to slow Mr Trump's momentum. It remains to be seen if his latest moves will be any different.


Earlier, he gave a speech outlining why he was against Donald Trump, a billionaire businessman with no political experience, calling him a "phoney" and a "fraud".

Mr Romney's home state of Utah holds its presidential contest on Tuesday.

A group of conservatives including well-known talk radio host Erick Erickson met on Thursday to discuss ways to defeat Donald Trump, including launching a third party campaign to challenge the New York businessman.

"We encourage all former Republican candidates not currently supporting Trump to unite against him and encourage all candidates to hold their delegates on the first ballot," he said in a statement, put out on behalf of the group.

"We believe that the issue of Donald Trump is greater than an issue of party. It is an issue of morals and character that all Americans, not just those of us in the conservative movement, must confront."


More on the US presidential race

Where did Marco Rubio go wrong? - Tuesday was a bruising night for the establishment hope, and other takeaways from our US correspondents

Jorge Ramos on Donald Trump's rise - Meet the Republican front-runner's nemesis

Who is funding the US election? - Money is a big issue in the 2016 US presidential race


Many party members have also misgiving about Mr Cruz because he has repeatedly and publicly denounced Republican leaders.

However, more prominent Republicans are throwing their support behind Mr Cruz in a last-ditch effort to stop Mr Trump.

Popular South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and senators Mike Lee of Utah and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have recently endorsed Mr Cruz.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who left the Republican race on Tuesday, said this week would not be endorsing any of his former rivals.

He also said he had no interest in becoming a vice-presidential nominee.

Mr Trump won four out five primaries on Tuesday, but the race in Missouri has not been called for the Republicans yet.

Democrat Hillary Clinton narrowly won the state's Democratic primary after her opponent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders decline to pursue a recount.

Source: bbc.com

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19/Mar/2016

North Korea fires ballistic missile into sea

North Korea has fired a ballistic missile into the sea, South Korean and US officials say.

They say the missile, launched off the east coast, flew about 800km (500 miles) and fell into the water. North Korea has not commented on the report.

A US defence spokesperson later said a second missile was launched.

US President Barack Obama earlier imposed new sanctions on Pyongyang, after its recent "illicit" nuclear test and satellite launch.

His executive order freezes North Korean government property in the United States. It bans US exports to - or investment in - North Korea and also greatly expands powers to blacklist anyone, including non-Americans, dealing with North Korea.

The 6 January nuclear test and 7 February satellite launch were violations of existing UN sanctions.

'Pre-emptive nuclear strike'

South Korea's Yonhap news agency also cited unnamed sources saying a second missile was detected but it may have disintegrated in mid-air.

They appeared to be medium-range Rodong missiles fired from road-mobile launch vehicles.

With a maximum range of 1,300km, the Rodong would have the capability to reach all of South Korea and parts of Japan.

Lt Col Michelle Baldanza, from the US defence press office said after the latest launch: "We call on North Korea to refrain from actions that further raise tensions in the region."

Amid the heightened tensions, the North sentenced a US student to 15 years hard labour on Wednesday for "severe crimes" against the state.

The US demanded North Korea immediately release Otto Warmbier, 21, who was arrested for trying to steal a propaganda sign from a hotel while on a visit in January.

The US and South Korea are also holding their biggest annual military drills this month, which routinely generate tension.

But this year North Korea threatened to launch a "pre-emptive nuclear strike of justice" against the US and South Korea.

Source: bbc.com

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17/Mar/2016

Brazil judge blocks Lula appointment to government

A Brazilian judge has blocked the appointment of ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as chief of staff to his successor, Dilma Rousseff, shortly after he was sworn in.

The judge's injunction said there was a risk a federal investigation could be derailed if Lula was a minister.

In Brazil, cabinet members can only be investigated by the Supreme Court, not by federal courts.

Lula is under investigation in connection with a corruption scandal.

The government has appealed against the decision.

Legal battle

Prosecutors filed charges against Lula last week accusing him of money laundering and fraud, which he has denied.

Brazilians get that sinking feeling as crisis deepens

Brazil tumbling like 'House of Cards'

Lula: Most hated and loved man in Brazil

Why is Lula caught up in scandal?

Lula's nomination as chief of staff has divided Brazilians.

Some said it was a move to shield him from prosecution while others welcomed his return to active politics.

Ahead of his swearing-in ceremony, groups of supporters and opponents of the government clashed outside the presidential palace.

The ceremony itself was interrupted by a protester who cried "Shame!".

The protester was drowned out by supporters of the governing Workers' Party, who shouted pro-government slogans and Lula's name.

During the ceremony, President Rousseff praised Lula, who she said was "not just a great politician, but a great friend and comrade of many battles".

"We've always stood side by side," she said.

A visibly angry Ms Rousseff then criticised federal Judge Sergio Moro, who is leading the investigation into a massive corruption scandal at state-oil giant Petrobras.

On Wednesday, Judge Moro made public a taped phone conversation between President Rousseff and Lula which has been interpreted by some to show that Lula was given the post of chief of staff to shield him from prosecution.

In the conversation, Ms Rousseff told Lula she would send him the official decree naming him as minister "just to use in case it's necessary".

President Rousseff said Judge Moro had violated the law and the constitution by releasing the tape and that she would order an investigation.

President under fire

President Rousseff herself is under considerable political pressure.

Rousseff facing a perfect storm

Her critics want to impeach her over allegations she manipulated Brazil's account books to hide a growing deficit.

On Thursday, members of the lower house of Congress approved the creation of a 65-member committee to look into the ongoing impeachment.

It will examine the issue over the next few weeks and make a recommendation on whether Ms Rousseff should or not be impeached.

The final decision on her political future will be taken by the Senate.

Brazil's former president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva hugs Brazil President Dilma Rousseff as he is sworn in as the new chief of staff in the Planalto Palace on March 17, 2016 in Brasilia, Brazil.

President Rousseff showed her support for her mentor at his swearing-in ceremony

Analysts say she named Lula chief of staff so he could use his influence with members of Congress to convince them to vote against her impeachment.

As more and more members of her Workers' Party are being investigated over corruption at Petrobras, she is also facing increased questions about what she may have known.

Ms Rousseff was head of the board at Petrobras from 2003 to 2010 and has always denied any wrongdoing.

On Sunday, a record number of people took part in anti-government marches across Brazil.

An estimated three million people called for an end to corruption and for Ms Rousseff's impeachment.

There have also been rallies in support of the government, but they have been smaller than those opposing the administration.

The political upheaval comes at a time of economic problems, with Brazil going through its worst recession in more than three decades.

Source: bbc.com

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17/Mar/2016

Brazil's Lula to be President Rousseff's chief of staff

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff has appointed her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as her new chief of staff.

The move shields Lula from possible prosecution by a federal judge investigating a massive corruption scandal named Operation Car Wash.

The move sparked protests in several cities by those angry at the decision.

But Ms Rousseff said that protecting Lula from prosecution was not the motivation for the appointment.

"Lula's arrival in my government strengthens it and there are people who don't want it to be stronger."

Under Brazilian law, cabinet members can only be tried by the Supreme Court.

On 4 March, Lula was briefly detained and questioned over allegations of money laundering connected to Operation Car Wash, a massive investigation into corruption at the state oil giant, Petrobras.

He denies the allegations and says they are aimed at preventing him from running for president again in 2018.

In a taped telephone conversation released by the judge overseeing the investigation, Ms Rousseff offered to send Lula a copy of his appointment "in case of necessity" - interpreted by some as meaning in case he needed it to avoid arrest.

Hours after the announcement of Lula's appointment, protesters gathered outside the Presidential Palace in Brasilia and in at least three other cities.

"I'm tired. I'm not the police; I'm a Brazilian who is tired of so much corruption," one protester in Brasilia told Reuters.

In Congress, opposition politicians gathered around a microphone during a chaotic session and chanted "resignation".

Protesters outside the Planalto Presidential Palace in Brasilia

Some 2,000 protesters gathered outside the Presidential Palace in Brasilia on Wednesday evening

Demonstrators protest against Lula's appointment in Sao Paulo

Protesters also turned out in Sao Paulo

Brazil President Dilma Rousseff, presser, Brasilia

President Rousseff dismissed claims that Lula's appointment was aimed at shielding him from a corruption investigation

Ms Rousseff says the appointment is due to Lula being a "skilful political negotiator" and experienced leader who will help kick off economic recovery.

During his time in office, the Brazilian economy experienced unprecedented economic growth and wealth redistribution.

"I believe [former] President Lula, who was in charge of the country for eight years, cannot have his reputation destroyed in this manner," added Ms Rousseff.

Lula in the spotlight

Fight against impeachment

Lula and other ministers appointed on Wednesday are expected to be sworn in at 10:00 local time (13:00 GMT) on Thursday.

As chief of staff, Lula is expected to lead the fight against moves in Congress to impeach President Rousseff over allegations she manipulated Brazil's account books to hide a growing deficit.

Analysts say President Rousseff is hoping that Lula will use his political nous and influence with members of Congress to block impeachment proceedings.

The two politicians have been close for decades. Lula was Ms Rousseff's political mentor and she is his hand-picked successor.

Lula: 'Man of the people'

Lula at a campaign rally for President Dilma Rousseff in October 2014

  • Born 27 October 1945 into a poor, illiterate family in Pernambuco state
  • Worked in Sao Paulo's car industry
  • Achieved national fame leading strikes during Brazil's dictatorship
  • In 1980 he founded the Workers' Party (PT), the first major socialist party in Brazil's history
  • Elected president in 2002 at the fourth attempt and went on to serve two terms
  • Pumped billions of dollars into social programmes such as Bolsa Familia that benefited tens of millions of Brazilians
  • When he left office in 2010 he said: "I am leaving government to live life on the streets. Man of the people that I always was, I will be more of the people than ever before"
  • Currently under investigation over his deals with construction firms

Source: bbc.com

 

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17/Mar/2016

Trump predicts 'riots' if Republicans deny him the nomination

Presidential hopeful Donald Trump has said his supporters would "riot" if he was denied the Republican nomination despite winning the popular vote.

Some Republicans have signalled that they would be open to a brokered convention, where party officials, not voters, would chose the nominee.

That would only take place if Mr Trump fell short of the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination.

It is unclear if he can hit that threshold before the convention.

"I'm representing a tremendous - many, many millions of people, in many cases first-time voters," Mr Trump, the front-runner, told CNN. "If you disenfranchise those people ... I think you would have problems like you've never seen before," he said.

Delegate maths

Mr Trump has at least 646 delegates and is favoured to win many coming contests, but challenges from opponents Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich have blunted his momentum.

On Tuesday, Mr Trump won primaries in four states - Florida, Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina. Yet a win by Mr Kasich in Ohio raised the possibly that Trump's delegate count could fall short.

Mr Cruz, who is currently in second place in the race, is also opposed to a brokered convention.

Where did Marco Rubio go wrong? - A bruising night for the establishment hope, and other takeaways from our US correspondents

Winners and losers on Super Tuesday II - John Kasich and Hillary Clinton have big nights

Clinton 'shouting' comments spark sexism row - Mrs Clinton gets some unsolicited advice and Twitter responds


Mr Cruz currently has 397 delegates and Mr Kasich has 142.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio, once thought to be a promising Republican choice for nominee, dropped out of the race on Tuesday after a poor showing in state primaries.

Mr Trump also said he would not be participating in a Fox News Republican debate set for 21 March in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Mr Kasich's campaign said they would not participate if Mr Trump did not, so the network then cancelled the debate.

The billionaire businessman with no prior political experience has come under fire by his fellow Republican candidates, along with Democrats, for encouraging a culture of violence at his campaign rallies.

Criticism over violent Trump rallies

He called off a rally to be held in Chicago after clashes between protesters and supporters.

He has said no one gets hurt at his "love-fest" rallies and that he denies responsibility for any violence.

Source: bbc.com

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17/Mar/2016

US election 2016: Sanders beats Clinton in Maine caucuses

Bernie Sanders has beaten Hillary Clinton in the Maine caucuses, the latest contest in the battle to be the Democratic presidential candidate.

With 91% of the vote counted, Vermont Senator Mr Sanders is polling 64%, while former Secretary of State Mrs Clinton has 36%.

In the Republican race, Marco Rubio easily won Puerto Rico's primary, beating billionaire Donald Trump.

Mrs Clinton and Mr Trump remain overall leaders in the nomination campaigns.

Sunday night saw Mrs Clinton and Mr Sanders clash on a number of issues in a CNN-hosted debate in Flint, Michigan.

They traded accusations on economy and trade, with Mrs Clinton saying her rival voted against a bailout of the US car industry in 2009.

Results as they come in

Clinton v Sanders: The progressive battle

Trump and Cruz seek "one-on-one" battle

How radical are Trump and Cruz?

"I went with them. You did not. If everybody had voted the way he [Sanders] did, I believe the auto industry would have collapsed, taking four million jobs with it," Mrs Clinton said.

Mr Sanders countered by saying: "I will be damned if it was the working people of this country who have to bail out the crooks on Wall Street."

He described the measures taken at the time as "the Wall Street bailout where some of your [Clinton's] friends destroyed this economy".

In Saturday's round of voting, Mr Sanders took two states - Kansas and Nebraska - but Mrs Clinton maintained her Democratic front-runner status after a big victory in Louisiana.

'One on one' call

While the win in Puerto Rico - a US territory - will boost Florida Senator Mr Rubio's campaign, it sends just 23 delegates to the Republican convention which nominates a presidential candidate.

Republican hopefuls need the votes of 1,237 delegates to get the nod for the presidential race proper.

Mr Rubio still trails well behind Mr Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

Speaking after wins in the Republican Kentucky caucuses and Louisiana primary election on Saturday, Mr Trump told a news conference: "I would love to take on Ted Cruz one on one."

"Marco Rubio had a very very bad night and personally I call for him to drop out of the race. I think it's time now that he dropped out of the race. I really think so."

Meanwhile, Texas Senator Mr Cruz - who won Republican caucuses in Kansas and Maine - said he believed that "as long as the field remains divided, it gives Donald an advantage".


Election calendar: Next races

  • 8 March: Michigan and Mississippi primaries: Democratic and Republican; Hawaii and Idaho caucuses: Republican
  • 15 March: Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio primaries: all Democratic and Republican

The full primary calendar

Source: bbc.com

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06/Mar/2016

If you love NPP, accept the result – Addison to Nii Noi

The newly-elected Parliamentary candidate for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the Klottey Korle constituency, has called on Nii Noi Nortey to put aside his personal interests and join his campaign to reclaim the seat from the NDC.

According to Addison, no one’s personal ambition should supersede the overall interest of the party.

Nii Noi lost out to Addison in a re-run of the August 2 primary, the outcome of which the latter had contested in court.

Reports from his camp indicate that Nii Noi is considering taking legal action to have the results from Saturday’s primary overturned.

However, Addison believes that despite excessive the media ‘hype’ built around Nii Nortey, the delegates chose him instead to represent the party in the November polls.

“He had free reign on the media and was being hyped and talked about as a grassroots boy, well it’s been decided,” he said.

“It’s always inevitable that when you lose an election of this nature, people feel hurt. It takes time to bring them around.”

Addison added that only a united NPP can prevail in the elections, and called on Nii Noi to join him to ensure that is made possible.

“Before this election, I had pledged that whoever emerged victorious, I would work with that person so that the party will take the seat. I expect that he [Nii Noi] will reciprocate that pledge and also come together so that we work for the party.

“We can only hope that they will come together, if they love the party. At the end of the day. it is the party that is Supreme and we want to take the seat from the NDC. We can only do so if we are united.”

Source: ghanaweb.com

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02/Mar/2016

Minority Describes Prez Mahama’s Address As "Theatrical"

Hon Isaac Osei, Member of Parliament for Subin Constituency in the Ashanti Region has bemoaned the number of hours the President spent in delivering his "theatrical" State of the Nation’s Address (SoNA).

According to him, “the last time I was in the UK, the Queen’s speech lasted 25 minutes; what do we have here that we are talking so much.”

President John Mahama on Thursday addressed Parliament in his last SoNA in his First Term. He touched on a number of issues including education, health, finance, sports, energy and the upcoming November polls.

Speaking to MetroTV moments after the president's address, Hon Isaac Osei, who is also the Ranking Member on Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee said he could not identify the ‘"running theme in the President’s message".

“Three hours plus; a lot of theatre. At the end of the day, I don’t know one running theme in it…if you ask me what was the running theme in the President’s message, I don’t think I can tell you. It was theatre; a lot of theater; three hours State of the Nation’s Address?" he asked in a voice filled with disbelief.

Mahama Was Modest

However, Hon Kofi Buah, Minister of Energy and Member of Parliament for Ellembelle constituency in the Western Region had a vastly contrary view.

To him, the level of development and improvement occurring in the lives of Ghanaians cannot be considered as theatrical.

“Even though he (Prez Mahama) should have hit his chest with what he has done, he was so modest…tell those communities that have 35,000 kilometres of good road that it is theatre…what the NPP is running away from is that when we were working hard; led by His Excellency President Mahama; so determined, working, focused addressing the energy sector, road, health, educational infrastructure, all they did was making noise…now they are running for cover,” he fired back.

Source: peacefmonline.com

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25/Feb/2016

Adams Mahama’s murder: Some NPP members will soon be tried – Afoko reveals

The suspended National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Paul Afoko has revealed that some members of the NPP will soon be hauled before court to be tried over their involvement in the killing of the Upper East Regional Chairman, Adams Mahama.

According to him, he has empirical evidence that some party members, who have not yet been fingered in the ongoing trial, were rather behind the murder of the former hardworking chairman.

Mr Afoko’s brother Gregory Afoko has been standing trial for close to one year, after police suspected him to be the main suspect of the acid bath on the late Adams Mahama, who died from severe bodily burns after the unfortunate incident.

The state claims it has enough evidence and has established Gregory Afoko’s complicity in the murder case which came as a big blow to the party’s Upper East Regional branch.

However speaking to Bola Ray on Starr Chat on Starr FM, Mr Paul Afoko stated that his brother is innocent of the crime he’s alleged to have committed, adding that the real truth in the case will be out soon.

“I’m happy that finally the Attorney General’s Department after keeping my brother in custody for close to one year has finally gotten their acts together and say they are now ready for the trial because they have evidence. There are things that will come out at the trial and I have evidence which I have handed to the police. Some members of my party should be prepared, they will enter the dock …I didn’t force them to write letters to me as the National Chairman six months before Adams died, making certain allegations. As I speak they know themselves…we are ready for the trial”.

Source: kasapafmonline.com

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25/Feb/2016

I have stopped financing NPP – Paul Afoko

The suspended National Chairman of the NPP, Paul Afoko says he will not contribute to the funding of the party’s campaign activities in the upcoming November general elections.

According to him, he is returning vehicles he has already purchased for the party’s campaigns activities because the NPP has unfairly treated him.

As has been the tradition, the various political parties marshal resources to fund their campaign activities during elections from several sources including their own wealthy members.

Mr Afoko, an astute businessman who is known to have funded the party in previous elections was expected to be as generous to the party as he has over the years been, but the embattled former Chairman says he is not going to make such favours anymore.

He was last year suspended indefinitely by the National Executive Council of the party based on recommendation from the NPP’s disciplinary committee for acts of misconduct.

However speaking to Bola Ray on Starr Chat on Starr FM, Paul Afoko stated that the pickup vehicles he purchased was part of his plan for a solid campaign activities for 2016 elections but that plan could only materialize if he was fully at post as the Chairman of the party.

“I’m not buying anymore cars. It was all part of a plan; you just don’t throw money at things… you plan. The plan included tooling the party up and if that plan is thrown out of sync or out of gear then…. . Some of them have already been branded in party colours, I’m not saying I will debrand the vehicles; the jury is out and going forward we’ll see what will happen. I have halted the process of ordering for more.”

Source: kasapafmonline.com

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25/Feb/2016

I hold no grudge against Akufo Addo – Nii Noi Nortey

The stripped winner of the New Patriotic Party(NPP) Klottey Korle elections held August 2 2015, Nii Noi Nortey has dismissed reports that he has problems with the party’s Flagbearer Nana Akufo Addo.

According to him, his detractors who are bent on scuttling his chances in the upcoming election re-run are responsible for the propagation of such false claims.

There have been reports that Nana Akufo Addo, whose lawyer and friend Philip Addison was defeated by Nii Noi Nortey in the constituency primary, once traveled with Nii Noi Nortey but refused to mention his name when doing the introduction.

Some political watchers held the view that Nana Akufo Addo’s move went to confirm his dislike for Nii Noi Nortey.

However speaking to Kweku Owusu Adjei on Si Me So on Kasapa 102.3 FM, Nii Noi Nortey explained that Nana Addo during the said incident acknowledged all present, except that he as the leader of the NPP couldn’t have taken sides at the time because there was still dispute about the elections.

“When we went to Tema, Nana Addo mentioned the names of us all the three contestants, and asked us to try and solve the problems concerning the election and the tension in the constituency. I have worked with Nana Addo before as the constituency chairman and I know he’ll not hold anything against me”.

The party is holding a rerun of the election on Saturday 27 February after the earlier one held in 2015 which was won by Nii Noi Nortey had its results challenged in court.

Nii Noi Nortey expressed confidence of winning the elections to deliver the Klottey Korle seat for the NPP come the November Parliamentary elections.

Source: kasapafmonline.com

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25/Feb/2016

We have overcome dumsor but … – Prez Mahama

President John Dramani Mahama has cautioned that although the erratic power supply, known in the local language as ‘dumsor’ has improved tremendously over the last two months, a lot more work needed to be done to ensure stability.

He said about 800MW has within the last few months been added onto the national grid from power generating firms such as KTPP (220MW), TICO (110MW), Karpower (220MW), and AMERI (250MW).

However, he said additional power generation onto the national grid will ensure that the country meets the ever growing annual demand of about 12% ad ensure that it does not experience prolong power rationing again.

“Mr. Speaker, I pledged to Ghanaians that I will continue to work to ensure that we never find ourselves in such a dreadful situation ever again. To end up never being there again, we must add even more generation to keep ahead of a robust growth of almost 12% increase in demand every year”.

“A lot of work still needs to be done to give us the comfort of sustainable generation going forward”, he said.

A huge deficit in power generation resulted in prolonged power rationing in the history of the former British Colony.

For four years, businesses had spent huge amount of money in procuring generators and fuel to power their firms.

Many businesses that couldn’t cope with the situation had to fold up with a lot more cutting down employment to make ends meet.

President John Dramani Mahama delivering the State of the Nation Address, Thursday, said those were trying time and expressed the hope that the country does not go through such experience again.

“This was a time of considerable national anxiety. A huge deficit in power generation had resulted in prolonged power rationing. I was painfully aware of the difficulties this situation was posing to Ghanaians”.

“Ghanaians had to put out with long hours of darkness or spend huge sums of money on generators. Businesses face serious disruption or cost went up because of the generation”.

“I took full responsibility as President and Commander in Chief on this nation. It has never been easy. It has been a year of hard work that has made us achieve the fastest mobilization of emergency power in the history of Ghana”.

But going forward, he said a lot more measures needed to be put in place to ensure that there is sustainable energy for all.

He said a planned a power-base on MoU and Power Purchase Agreement that the country has signed unto projects that an additional power generation of about 3,500 MW “can be achieved by the year 2020”.

“If we do this, this will ensure Ghana’s power security and will position Ghana as the power hub of West Africa”

“In this term and my next term, I intend to work hard to achieve this objective. Additional power into the national grid will aim at diversifying fuel sources – from gas to crude oil, LPG and LNG. Additionally, there will be an injection of renewable energy”.

Source: kasapafmonline.com

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25/Feb/2016

First Citizens Complaint Centre established in Accra – Mahama

President John Mahama has announced the setting up of the first of series of Citizens complaint centres in Accra.

According to him, the centre is located in room 209 of the second floor of the Public Services Commission building in the ministries area.

President John Mahama who made the disclosure while presenting the State of the Nation address in Parliament Thursday said reports by this Centre is expected to help to promote the fight against corruption, as well as improve service delivery in the public sector.

He noted that the centre apart from walk-ins also receives and processes voice complaints using hot-lines and via its website www.ghanacitizens.org.

“The Citizens Complaint Unit will collate data and will produce quarterly reports based on the type, nature and source of the complaints received. This report will also include recommended actions, resolution of complaints as well as trend analysis”.

President Mahama added that if this centre proves successful, it will be replicated in all the regional capitals across the country, with the various district assemblies being encouraged to establish their own units in the district capitals.

Source: kasapafmonline.com

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25/Feb/2016

Ghana's elections now first Monday in November

This year's crucial presidential and parliamentary elections and subsequent ones will now be held on the first Monday in November every four years if the constitution is duly amended.

The change in the traditional December 7 date, to the first Monday in November is to smoothen the transition process from one elected government to another, even if it is the same party that wins an election.

Given the December 7 date, it will take barely a month for a newly elected president to be sworn into office, something political pundits have raised issues about.

After three rounds of elections in 2008, including the crucial Tain Constituency run off, outgoing president John Kufuor had barely a week to hand over power to the late president John Mills.

A process to amend Article 112 clause 4 which sets out the procedure for the presidential elections is already underway to change the December 7 date.

On Wednesday, an elections committee made up of the Electoral Commission, Representatives from the Attorney General and the Legal and Constitutional Committee of Parliament agreed to the first Monday in November arrangement but must go through a number of processes to make it the law.

The Attorney General and government will make their input after which the instrument will then be laid in Parliament to mature.

Speaking to Joy News on the matter, the  Vice Chairman of the Legal and Constitutional Committee of Parliament, George Loh dismissed media reports that November 7 has been confirmed as the new date for future elections.

On the contrary, he said the committee settled on the first Monday in November as the most convenient day for  elections.

Why Mondays and not weekends?

George Loh explained that weekends were deemed as inappropriate because a lot of people will be going for funerals and weddings for which reason Mondays were adopted.

"Mondays are the best option," he said. He could not however say the length of time it will take for the processes to be concluded for the November date to be adopted as the new election date.

Meanwhile the Director of Communications of the NPP Nana Akomea says he would rather the Elections Committee had chosen a Saturday instead of a Monday.

One would have thought a weekend which are "natural holidays" would have been considered, he said.


Source: myjoyonline.com

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24/Feb/2016

STATEMENT: Gov't Hits Back Dr Bawumia....

Government has strongly refuted claims Dr Mahamadu Bawumia that it has wasted and cannot account for most of the loans it has contracted.

In a statement signed by Communications Minister, Dr Edward Omane Boamah, in response to calls by the running mate to Nana Akufo-Addo that Ghanaians must reject the NDC’s attempt to hoodwink the public on claims of massive investments in projects as the reality points to the contrary, governent accused the economic guru of deliberately discrediting the achievements of the current administration for “partisan gains”.

It is instructive that after years of living in denial that these projects exist, he has finally acknowledged their existence, except that he wants to tread down the path of discrediting them for partisan gain.

“Dr Bawumia’s latest untruth is only a last effort to create doubt about the unprecedented investment made in all sphere of our national life by President John Mahama’s government,” the statement said.


Read government's response to Dr Bawumia's claims below


GOVERNMENT SETS THE RECORDS STRAIGHT ON DR BAWUMIA’S FALSE AND OR MISLEADING CLAIMS

Government has noted a number of false and or misleading claims attributed to Dr Mahamadu Bawumia, the third time running mate to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) flagbearer.

At a party event in Wa, Dr Bawumia among other falsehoods claimed that;

1. The NDC government had borrowed US$ 37 billion out of which it accounts for only US$ 7 billion

2. That there are six reasons why Ghanaians should reject what is contained in the “Accounting to the People” book.

We are constrained to respond as follows;

1. It is instructive that after years of living in denial that these projects exist, he has finally acknowledged their existence except that he wants to tread down the path of discrediting them for partisan gain.

Dr. Bawumia’s latest untruths is only a last-gasp effort to create doubts about the unprecedented investments made in all spheres of our national life by President John Dramani Mahama’s Government. It is borne out of a morbid fear that the overwhelming evidence provided in the 210-page book, shatters the many unsustainable falsehoods churned out by him, the NPP and their allies about the performance of President Mahama.

On the specific claim, without source, that this government has borrowed US$37 billion since 2009, we wish to put on record that this is false and a desperate attempt to find basis for the flawed conclusions he churned out at the event.

At paragraph 127 on page 36 of the 2016 Budget presented to Parliament in November,2015, the Minister for Finance clearly indicated that our total National Debt stood at GH¢92,161.84 million or US$24,285.07. This was made up of GH¢54,488.26 million (US$14,357.91million) for external debt and GH¢37,673.58 million ($9,927.16 million) for domestic debt.

This represents our entire national debt since independence and includes US$8.1 billion bequeathed President Atta Mills’ Government by Dr Bawumia’s NPP in January 2009.

Given that his claims on our debt which forms the basis of his accusations are false, it stands to reason that his weak inferences with regards to how much has been spent on the projects highlighted in the book “Accounting to the People” are problematic and unacademic. In deed Dr Bawumia cannot feign ignorance of the use to which loans contracted are put. Every external loan contracted by Government is subject to Parliamentary approval and the use to which it is put is clearly stated in the documents presented to Parliament. By constantly pretending not to know this, Dr Bawumia is casting aspersions on the competence and diligence of his NPP MPs who help to approve these loans.

2. Regarding his claim that his phantom total loan amount could have been supposedly used for six things he itemised, we wish to state as follows:

a. Claim 1: The money could have been used to develop the Rail network from Accra to Paga and Transformed many parts of our country by this Investment.

Response: A review of the NPP’s 2000 and 2004 manifestos reveals the basis for this claim.

The NPP promised at page 15 of their 2000 manifesto to ensure a “Modernization and extension of railway network and Connection to the Northern Regions”.

At page 25 of their 2004 manifesto, the NPP also promised to ensure “Preparatory work towards the expansion project to link Ghana by rail to its northern neighbours of Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali.”

The records show that Dr Bawumia and his NPP failed spectacularly to fulfil their promise. The records also show that the railway sector collapsed under the NPP and in some instances they sold existing rail tracks as scrap.

We entreat Dr Bawumia to peruse pages 94, 95 and 98 of “Accounting to the People” where irrefutable proof our superior performance in the Railway sector has been provided.

b) Claim 2: The money could have solved the water problems in Ghana.

Response: Once again, Dr Bawumia inadvertently sets his party up for mockery. The NPP holds the most abysmal record in the provision of water by any government in this fourth Republic. In all their 8 years in office, they increased water coverage by a paltry 2%.

We invite him again to turn to pages 58 to 65 to learn about the unmatched record of President Mahama with regards to the provision of water. The facts as presented in the book show that since the NDC came to office, water coverage has increased from 58.5% in 2009 to 76% in 2015.This is set to increase to 85% by close of this year when an additional 20 water projects are completed around the country. In absolute terms we have provided 77.5 million gallons of water per(MGD) day for 4.2 million Ghanaians as of the end of 2015. By the end of 2016 this will increase to 110million (MGD) for a total of 7 million Ghanaians. In all 52 years preceding the NDC in 2009, available water capacity could only serve 14 million people.

c) Claim 3: Solve the energy problem

Response: Between pages 69 and 78 in “Accounting to the People”, incontrovertible proof is provided on work done to increase our generation capacity which has not only ended load shedding but, made available for the first time in our history reserve capacity to take care of eventualities.

d) Claim 4: Put in place at least 1000 kilometres of asphalted roads in each region. There will be no major road problem left in any region after this.

Response: Pages 100 to 111 of the book provides pictorial proof of massive first-class road investments across the country. A regional breakdown is also provided for some of the road projects being undertaken in the country. Unlike Dr Bawumia’s dubious claims of expanding the road network by 8 times of what we have done, we have provided proof. We challenge him to list all, and we mean all, these roads and show where they are.

e) Claim 5: Put in place one world class hospital in each region.

Response: Dr Bawumia’s NPP also has the worst record in the provision of health infrastructure. The NPP has the dubious distinction of being the only party that failed to build a single Regional hospital in all 8 years of their tenure under the fourth republic. The President Rawlings Government built the Cape Coast, Ho and Sunyani Regional Hospitals. President Mahama is currently providing world-class Regional hospitals at Ridge in Accra, Sewua in Kumasi, Bolgatanga in the Upper East and Wa in the Upper West Region. In addition to this he is providing two world-class teaching hospitals and 15 District Hospitals. He has already provided 5 polyclinics with another 15 about to start, over forty health centres and hundreds of CHPS compounds. Together these hospitals will deliver over 6,000 additional beds representing the biggest investment ever by any Government in health infrastructure in Ghana’s history.

It is also a fact that every Region in Ghana has benefitted or is benefiting from the provision of a world-class hospital equipment under President Mahama. Regarding the provision of equipment, President John Mahama also holds the record for best performance. In the last four years, US$ 267 million has been invested in the provision of critical diagnostic and treatment equipment for over 150 health facilities nation-wide. This also represents the biggest ever investment in health equipment by any Government. Unshakable evidence of these and facts on the robust performance of the NHIS are set out from page 22 to 39 of “Accounting to the People”.

f) Claim 6: These investments have not translated into improved services for the people.

Response: It is obvious from this claim that Dr Bawumia and the NPP are not in tune with developments in our communities. The tens of thousands of school children who now sit in comfortable classrooms after almost half of the 4,321 schools under trees the NPP bequeathed know otherwise. The millions of Ghanaians in whose taps water had not flowed for decades but who now enjoy supply of treated water know better and cannot be deceived. The many Ghanaians who can now receive quality health diagnostic care know better.

Indeed, we urge Dr Bawumia to check page 25 of “Accounting to the People” for evidence of massive improvements in critical human development and health indicators as culled from the Ghana Health and Demographic Survey of 2014. It shows that Infant, Child and under-five mortalities which were alarmingly high under the NPP have reduced significantly under President Mahama.

3. Contrary to Dr Bawumia’s claims, capital expenditures as a ratio of GDP averaged 5.6% from 2001 to 2008 and not 11% as claimed by Dr Bawumia. It is currently within the same band. The resort to “Capex/GDP” ratios is only an attempt to mask his party’s horrendously appalling record with regards to the delivery of critical infrastructure like schools, hospitals, water, housing, roads, communications, energy among others.

Dr Bawumia is fully aware that a thorough analysis of the actual amounts pumped into these projects vis-à-vis the outcomes will expose the staggering mediocrity exhibited by his party when in Government between 2001 and 2008.

4. On Job creation, Dr Bawumia is encouraged to read pages 137 and 138 of “Accounting to the People” where evidence of job creation arising from several interventions is given. We wish to assure that Government will continue to do more to ensure that more jobs are created for our youth. It would be recalled however that the NPP is bereft of a sustainable track record when it comes to job creation save for the ignominious tag of deceiving Ghanaians at page 5 of their 2000 manifesto that they will “Create jobs for all persons able and willing to work and to reward each of them appropriately”.

Let Dr Bawumia disprove this horrible deception by pointing us to which jobs they created for ALL Ghanaians.

5. Dr Bawumia also repeated the discredited mantra of “inflated cost” of projects as means of chipping away at their positive impact on the lives of our people. In doing so he has placed himself firmly in the ranks of the Political Quantity Surveyors whose modus operandi is to claim without basis, logic or fact that the cost of every project is inflated. This is done for the sole purpose of undermining the projects in question for political gain. But the Danquah-Busiah tradition will no longer be allowed to undermine the interest of Ghanaians for their parochial gains- not anymore!

No amount of falsehoods however will distract Government from investing further in all sectors of the economy to enhance the wellbeing of Ghanaians.

Finally, the public is respectfully encouraged to download copies of the book, “Accounting to the People” from www.moc.gov.gh,www.ghana.gov.gh,www.presidency.gov.gh and www.greenbookghana.com

This will further shred Dr Bawumia and the NPP’S campaign of deceit which has failed on two occasions and will fail again because the people of Ghana cannot be neutral between truth and deceit.


Edward K. Omane Boamah (Dr)
(Communications Minister)

Source: Peacefmonline.com

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24/Feb/2016

Museveni rival Kizza Besigye arrested over protest march

Uganda's main opposition leader Kizza Besigye has been taken into police custody after vowing to lead a protest march against President Yoweri Museveni's election victory.

Mr Besigye was bundled into a police van when he tried to leave his home, where he had been under house arrest.

His wife Winnie Byanyima said it was like a "military barracks" outside their home in the capital, Kampala.

Mr Museveni won Thursday's poll by a landslide to extend his 30-year rule.

Mr Besigye said the result had been rigged, while foreign observers said the poll had been marred by fear and intimidation.

In a BBC interview, Mr Museveni rejected allegations of vote rigging, and accused Mr Besigye of planning to incite violence.

Responding to criticism from European Union observers that the electoral commission "lacked independence and transparency", Mr Museveni told the BBC's Zuhura Yunus that "those Europeans are not serious".

"Transparency is what we've been voting for," he added.

Mr Besigye had vowed to march to the headquarters of the Electoral Commission to ask for a copy of the official declaration of results.

Official results gave Mr Museveni nearly 61% of the votes, with Mr Besigye taking 35%.

It was the fourth time Mr Besigye, candidate for the opposition Forum for Democratic Change party, had lost to Mr Museveni.

The two men were once allies, with Mr Besigye serving as Mr Museveni's personal doctor when they were guerrilla fighters.

Mr Museveni, a key ally of the West in the campaign against militant Islamists in the region, seized power in 1986 and is credited with restoring stability to Uganda.

However, critics say he has become increasingly authoritarian.

On Friday, the US said Mr Museveni should "rein in" his security forces after they briefly arrested Mr Besigye, and fired tear gas to disperse his supporters in Kampala.

Source: bbc.com

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22/Feb/2016

“Try me too” – Nana Addo begs settler communities

The flagbearer of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has appealed to settler communities in the Tano South constituency of the Brong Ahafo Region, to give him a chance to lead the country in this year’s general election.

He says Ghanaians can kick him out if he fails to turn around the fortunes of the country in four years.

Nana Addo made the appeal in an address to Muslim clerics and Chiefs of settler communities in Derma, a community in the Tano South Constituency.

The NPP flagbearer, who was accompanied by national and regional party stalwarts, appealed to the communities to consider him for at least one term and promised them he would not disappoint.

“This year, try me too. Give me the chance to show you what I can do. Four years is not so far away. If I come and I don’t succeed, kick me out. God knows my heart and I can assure you that I won’t disappoint you. Progress and prosperity are what I am offering the people of Ghana.”

He explained that the NPP, traditionally, had not done well electorally in settler communities across the country, largely because of the deliberate tagging of the NPP as an “anti-Northern” party by political opponents.

Thus, the NPP, according to Nana Akufo-Addo, has now decided to aggressively campaign in all settler communities across the country, so as to dispel this false notion, with barely 8 months to the November elections.

“This talk of the NPP being anti-Northerners is simply not true. When you go into the history books, all the leaders of the tradition, from which the NPP emerged from, are Northerners. The tradition we belong to is called the Danquah-Dombo-Busia tradition. Dombo hailed from the North. Jato Kaleo, Abaayifa Karbo, Yakubu Tali, B.K Adama, Imoro Salifu, C.K. Tedam, were all Northerners who started our party,” he said.

Nana Akufo-Addo told the Chiefs that “this type of anti-NPP sentiments only surfaced during elections,” adding that “when there are no elections, we live in this country peacefully and harmoniously. These are done purely for electoral advantage.”

He therefore urged them to ignore this type of politicking, but rather vote for candidates and political parties whose sole aim in office will be to better the lives of Ghanaians, through the institution of effective policies.

To the people of Derma, who are predominantly cocoa and vegetable farmers, Nana Akufo-Addo urged them to consider the NPP’s track record in the run-up to the November elections.

“When given the choice of NPP and NDC, there is no way that you, as a cocoa farmer, should choose the NDC over the NPP. The NPP is the party that has looked after the welfare of cocoa farmers. It is the NPP, under President Kufuor, that raised cocoa production to levels never witnessed in Ghana’s history. ”

To this end, he urged the electorate to consider the welfare of the nation and of their families, and their conditions of living before casting their ballots on November 7.

“Would you prefer a ‘family member’ who has nothing but suffering for you, or would you prefer a ‘stranger’ who will bring you prosperity? The NPP is the party that will bring prosperity to the people of Ghana… We in the NPP, under my leadership, are going to put the country back on the road to prosperity,” he added.

Nana Akufo-Addo also made brief stops at Techimantia and Dwomo, all in the Tano South constituency, urging the electorate to vote for him as President and Benjamin Yeboah Sekyere, the NPP’s parliamentary candidate for the constituency.

 

Source: citifmonline.com

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22/Feb/2016

Bawumia rubbishes NDC’s records

Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, running mate to New Patriotic Party’s 2016 Presidential Candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo, has rubbished claims by the incumbent National Democratic Congress (NDC), that it has transformed the country by undertaking a number of projects.

He outlined six reasons why Ghanaians must reject the NDC’s attempt to hoodwink the public on claims of massive investments in projects as the reality points to the contrary.

Dr. Bawumia outlined these in a lecture on the topic “The Role of Financial Discipline and Investment In National Development”, at a National Financial Literacy and Investment Summit organised by the University Students Association of Ghana (USAG), at the University for Development Studies, Wa Campus.

Where is the rest of the money and what could it have done? Bawumia asks and answers

Dr. Bawumia pointed out that the NDC had increased Ghana’s debt in seven years by GHC90 billion, from GHC9.5 billion at the end of 2009 to some GHC99 billion currently; an equivalent of some 37 billion dollars at the time of borrowing.

“First, If you sum the cost of all the loan financed projects listed in the green book (even including those with artistic impressions, it is less than $7 billion. Meanwhile, the government has borrowed the equivalent of $37 billion so where is the rest of the money? Indeed, given the resources at its disposal one should expect at least four times the quantum of investment that the NDC claims to have undertaken”, Dr. Bawumia said, as he began listing the six reasons.

He proceeded to list a number of things the over 30 billion dollars from borrowing the NDC cannot account for, could have done, which proves that contrary to the claims, the NDC has done a bad job at giving Ghanaians their due after undertaking unprecedented borrowing in the last seven years.

“The close to $30 billion of borrowing that was not used for projects could have inter alia:

  •     Developed the Rail network from Accra to Paga and transformed many parts of the country just by this investment.
  • Solved the water problems in Ghana
  • Solved the energy problem and not put the country through 4 years of dumsor at the cost of human lives and collapsing businesses and unemployment
  • Put in place at least 1000 kilometres of asphalted roads in each region. There will be no major road problem left in any region after this.
  • Transformed Agriculture in the Northern regions, Afram Plains and Ghana through investment in machinery, irrigation and dams
  • Put in place one world class hospital in each region
  • Buy at least 1000 ambulances for the Ghana Ambulance service
  • Set up factories with the private sector across the country to add value to our raw materials and create jobs. On the issue of jobs, the question is, if the government has taken a whole 4 years to solve a basic problem like Dumsor, how long will it take to address unemployment? At this pace, many of the unemployed youths will be over the pension age before the NDC finds a solution to the unemployment problem.
  • Equip our existing health and education institutions with state of the art facilities.
  • Build an additional 600 of the Senior High Schools the government is currently trying to build”, he said.

Fact: Investment to GDP has declined and affected Economic Growth

The second reason, according to Dr Bawumia, is the fact that the data shows that contrary to all the claims of the NDC, infrastructure spending as a proportion of GDP has declined from an average of 11% between 2001 and 2008, when Ghana had no oil, to 5.7% between 2009 and 2015.

“To explain this point, if a person tells you they have invested GHC 1000 in the education of their children and another tells you they have invested GHC 2000, you cannot conclude that the second person has invested more in his or her children if you do not compare it against the number of children in the family. If the first person has one child and the second has 10 children, then the investment of the person with one child will be higher (i.e. GHC1000 per child compared to GHC200 per child for the second person).

“It is in this context that when we measure the impact of investment, we look at it relative to the GDP of a country. If as a country, your investment in infrastructure relative to GDP is declining, then your growth is likely to decline. This background is very important to understand what is happening in Ghana today,” he said

Overpricing of projects and resort to mediocrity

“The third reason why I say the NDC is attempting to hoodwink Ghanaians with claims of massive infrastructural investments is that most of these projects are over-priced as a result of the single source procurement method, which has become the procurement method of choice for this government, as we saw in the SADA, GYEEDA, KARPOWER, SMARTYS bus branding etc.. I would like to see for example the government explanation from the government quantity surveyors of the costing on the Kumasi airport runway for $23.8 million. However, you and I know that they would not explain because they cannot explain”, Dr. Bawumia noted.

For the fourth point, he stated that since all governments undertake infrastructural products, it is disingenuous for the NDC to claim that as unprecedented, especially when compared to resources accrued, the NDC has done far less investments in infrastructure compared to the NPP government under former President John AgyekumKufuor for example, which had less than ten times the resources the NDC has had in seven years.

“The nation’s road network increased by 18,736 km and 29,970 km during the four (4) and eight (8) years of NPP-led administration respectively. At the end of year 2008, the network size met as at the end of December 2000 had been increased about 80%. In contrast, the NDC government has thus far added only 3,772 km to Ghana’s road network.  This means that the NPP constructed 8 times more roads (km) than the NDC even though they had 10 times more money. Yet when you listen to Government propaganda, they will tell you of the massive road investments they are making. Unfortunately for them the facts completely disprove their attempt to hoodwink Ghanaians.

“Indeed, it was His Excellency President Mahama who told us that any government touting projects as achievements is conducting an exercise in mediocrity, So what has changed? The real fact is that the NDC has no real achievements to point to outside the undertaking of some projects hence their resort to mediocrity”, he said.

So-called massive investments have not translated into job creation & production

“The fifth reason why I say the NDC is attempting to hoodwink Ghanaians with claims of massive infrastructural investments is that infrastructural investment is not supposed to be for its own sake but to increase productivity and production in the economy. The proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating. If you have indeed undertaken massive and unprecedented infrastructural investment, then why is the economy collapsing?  –      Why is the NHIS in trouble?Why is unemployment on the increase? Why are businesses collapsing? Why is agricultural growth stagnant? Why is manufacturing growth negative? Why is the government having difficulty meeting statutory payments?” he queried.

“The facts therefore show that the impact of the NDC infrastructure investments have not translated into increased output, job creation and better living conditions for the people of Ghana”, Dr. Bawumia added.

Ghanaians can relate to a worsening in social services and conditions

The sixth and final reason why the NDC’s claims of projects should be rejected, according to Dr. Bawumia, was the fact that the so called massive investments being claimed by the NDC have not translated into an improvement in social services.

Dr. Bawumia touched on vital areas like Water, Health and Education to explain that despite the huge claims of the NDC, the ordinary Ghanaian cannot relate to an improvement in services and relief.

“The NDC claims to have put in over a billion dollars in the area of water infrastructure. Yet, today many places across the country are seeing the worst shortages of water in decades. So what is the essence of the claims being made by the NDC with respect to investments in water when after seven years, the people are rather seeing worse shortages than they were before these so-called investments?” he asked

Touching on Health, Dr. Bawumia pointed out that despite the claims of huge investments, the reality for many Ghanaians was the fact that the NHIS is failing. He also noted that despite the claims of massive investments, many existing hospitals are crying for basic equipment to deliver health care to the people.

“What Ghanaians can relate to is the many illnesses and drugs which have been taken out of the NHIS care lists, the Capitation policy and the situation where patients seeking to be treated on the basis of possession of the NHIS Card are turned away in favor of patients with money. For many Ghanaians, the sad reality is that the killer Cash and Carry program, which the NPP worked to cancel, has been technically introduced back as a result of the failure of the NHIA.

“Again, despite these huge claims of investment, our Hospitals across the country, keep crying over very essential equipment and facilities. I had this sad reality hit home when a close relative passed away last year as a result of the lack of oxygen at Tamale Teaching Hospital. The recent closure of certain departments in Korle-Bu also re-emphasizes this point”, he noted

Dr. Bawumia cited the recent gory Kintampo accident as another example of how despite the huge claims of investments in Health, the Ghanaian people cannot relate to an improvement in healthcare.

“So again, what is the point in the claims of massive investment in the Health Sector when after seven years and with over 200 billion in Resources, we cannot sustain the Health Insurance Scheme which was functional when Ghana had less than 10 times the resources this government has had; and cannot provide vital logistics for our existing Hospitals and service our Ambulances to save the lives of our countrymen?”, he probed.

Is every investment necessary or prudent?

Ending his dissection of the NDC claims of massive investment, Dr. Bawumia stressed that investments must be assessed critically on the impact it makes to productivity and lives and not just on the basis of numbers that are bandied around.

“It is therefore clear that despite the huge claims of investment, the reality for many Ghanaians is that livelihoods have worsened and social services are not functioning.


Source: citifmonline.com

 

 

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22/Feb/2016

Afari Gyan much better than Charlotte Osei – NPP

Despite accusing him on several occasions of bias and dragging him to the Supreme Court in the historic 2012 election petition, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) says Dr. Afari Gyan as Electoral Commission (EC) Chairman, was far better than the  incumbent Chairperson, Charlotte Osei.

Former EC Boss Dr. Afari Gyan, retired in June 2015, having spent 22 years in office in which he oversaw 5 elections. He was replaced by Charlotte Osei, who was picked from the National Commission for Education Education (NCCE) as the first female to head the electoral body.

Madam Osei’s relationship with the political parties has got off to a rocky start, particularly with the NPP, whose petition for a new voters’ register to be created, was rejected by her.

On Saturday, the EC announced that the 18-member Steering Committee created ahead of the polls had not been suspended despite reports on Friday indicating that it had done so after an Inter Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meeting.

The EC’s latest announcement has not gone down well with the NPP, who have questioned its relevance and composition of members.

The party had initially indicated their support for Madam Osei when she first assumed her role, where they called on her to “resolve the many challenges she is inheriting from Dr. Kwadwo Afari Gyan, her predecessor”

However, according to them, the recent decisions made by the EC Chairperson shows that she is still a long way from her much-maligned predecessor.

This conclusion on Charlotte Osei comes at a time when she is yet to conduct her first major election after only overseeing two by-elections.

“As for the present EC boss, she is a pale shadow of Dr. Afari Gyan; comparatively, Dr Afari Gyan was better,” Deputy General Secretary of the NPP, Nana Obiri Boahene told Citi News.

Nana Obiri Boahene said some of the EC staff have outlived their usefulness.

“As the Electoral Commission of Ghana, if you consider the utterances and comments of some of the members, you will know that they have outlived their usefulness.”

A frustrated Boahene said the Commission can decide to handover its entire mandate to the steering committee.

“They can decide to, as it were, hand over all functions of the EC as spelt out in the constitution to the Steering Committee. Who cares?”

The General Secretary of the People’s National Convention (PNC), Atik Mohammed, in commenting on the EC’s U-turn said the Commission is needlessly complicating the issues at stake.

“Having conceded that they’ve erred, it will be difficult for the Commission to say the committee should continue with its work whilst. I would like to understand what they [EC] meant by saying return to the drawing board.”


Source: citifmonline.com

Nana Obiri Boahene said some of the EC staff have outlived their usefulness.

“As the Electoral Commission of Ghana, if you consider the utterances and comments of some of the members, you will know that they have outlived their usefulness.”

A frustrated Boahene said the Commission can decide to handover its entire mandate to the steering committee.

“They can decide to, as it were, hand over all functions of the EC as spelt out in the constitution to the Steering Committee. Who cares?”

The General Secretary of the People’s National Convention (PNC), Atik Mohammed, in commenting on the EC’s U-turn said the Commission is needlessly complicating the issues at stake.

“Having conceded that they’ve erred, it will be difficult for the Commission to say the committee should continue with its work whilst. I would like to understand what they [EC] meant by saying return to the drawing board.”

- See more at: http://citifmonline.com/2016/02/22/afari-gyan-much-better-than-charlotte-osei-npp/#sthash.G2nwdq6R.dpuf

 

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22/Feb/2016

EC’s actions must deepen public trust – Gyampo

A Senior Lecturer at the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), Dr. Ransford Gyampoh is questioning the rationale behind the Electoral Commission’s formation of an Election Steering Committee without broad consultations.

According to him, the distrust that political parties and some Ghanaians have for the Electoral Commission will only be deepened by such actions and decisions which are not based on consensus from key political actors in the country.

Speaking on the Citi Breakfast Show, Dr. Gyampo said the Electoral Commission must be seen to be actively implementing the reforms that were agreed upon in the aftermath of the 2012 elections rather than creating bodies such as the Steering Committee.

“My own issue is that, why do we need that committee? In my view, the EC may mean well in putting in place that committee, but given the feeling of distrust that many Ghanaians and political parties have in the EC and the current legitimacy deficit that the EC faces in view of the post 2012 election, it seems that everything good or initiative that the EC will put in place to an extent, brings some distrust among its key stakeholders and it is not the best. There can be no meaningful discussion of building a strong institution without public confidence in such institutions.”

He noted that, “one way to restore public confidence in the EC is for it to be proactively and publicly be seen to be implementing proposals for electoral reforms which have been submitted to it. This is the only way out, otherwise anything they do maybe seeing as the EC majoring on minor issues.”

Dr. Ransford Gyampo is also advising the Electoral Commission not to succumb to all the demands of political parties but to strike a balance in dealing with them.

“The EC is an independent organisation and it must not necessarily pander to the whims and caprices of political parties. Bu the point must also be made that over the years, if IPAC wasn’t useful then it should have been disbanded by now. Over the years the EC has executed its mandate well because it has worked with the IPAC; so it has been a good relationship between the two without the EC necessarily lording its independence over the IPAC. So there has to be a balance,” he said.

Mandate of the steering committee

The National Election Steering Committee is to ensure a smooth and peaceful 2016 elections. Apart from the 10 members, the seven Commissioners of the EC are also members with Mrs Charlotte Osei, Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, being the Chairperson of the Committee, while the Director of Elections will serve as a Secretary to the Committee.

The Committee is to share ideas and harmonize activities of the Commission to ensure that there is adequate security before, during and after the 2016 election.

“…Of the 18 members, eight are from the commission and the remaining ten come from institutions that the commission decided should have representation on the committee”, Mr Owusu Parry, Public Affairs Director of the EC, recently told Citi News.


Source: citifmonline.com

“The EC is an independent organisation and it must not necessarily pander to the whims and caprices of political parties. Bu the point must also be made that over the years, if IPAC wasn’t useful then it should have been disbanded by now. Over the years the EC has executed its mandate well because it has worked with the IPAC; so it has been a good relationship between the two without the EC necessarily lording its independence over the IPAC. So there has to be a balance,” he said.

Mandate of the steering committee

The National Election Steering Committee is to ensure a smooth and peaceful 2016 elections. Apart from the 10 members, the seven Commissioners of the EC are also members with Mrs Charlotte Osei, Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, being the Chairperson of the Committee, while the Director of Elections will serve as a Secretary to the Committee.

The Committee is to share ideas and harmonize activities of the Commission to ensure that there is adequate security before, during and after the 2016 election.

“…Of the 18 members, eight are from the commission and the remaining ten come from institutions that the commission decided should have representation on the committee”, Mr Owusu Parry, Public Affairs Director of the EC, recently told Citi News.

- See more at: http://citifmonline.com/2016/02/22/ecs-actions-must-deepen-public-trust-gyampo/#sthash.q3UNEV02.dpuf

“The EC is an independent organisation and it must not necessarily pander to the whims and caprices of political parties. Bu the point must also be made that over the years, if IPAC wasn’t useful then it should have been disbanded by now. Over the years the EC has executed its mandate well because it has worked with the IPAC; so it has been a good relationship between the two without the EC necessarily lording its independence over the IPAC. So there has to be a balance,” he said.

Mandate of the steering committee

The National Election Steering Committee is to ensure a smooth and peaceful 2016 elections. Apart from the 10 members, the seven Commissioners of the EC are also members with Mrs Charlotte Osei, Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, being the Chairperson of the Committee, while the Director of Elections will serve as a Secretary to the Committee.

The Committee is to share ideas and harmonize activities of the Commission to ensure that there is adequate security before, during and after the 2016 election.

“…Of the 18 members, eight are from the commission and the remaining ten come from institutions that the commission decided should have representation on the committee”, Mr Owusu Parry, Public Affairs Director of the EC, recently told Citi News.

- See more at: http://citifmonline.com/2016/02/22/ecs-actions-must-deepen-public-trust-gyampo/#sthash.q3UNEV02.dpuf

“The EC is an independent organisation and it must not necessarily pander to the whims and caprices of political parties. Bu the point must also be made that over the years, if IPAC wasn’t useful then it should have been disbanded by now. Over the years the EC has executed its mandate well because it has worked with the IPAC; so it has been a good relationship between the two without the EC necessarily lording its independence over the IPAC. So there has to be a balance,” he said.

Mandate of the steering committee

The National Election Steering Committee is to ensure a smooth and peaceful 2016 elections. Apart from the 10 members, the seven Commissioners of the EC are also members with Mrs Charlotte Osei, Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, being the Chairperson of the Committee, while the Director of Elections will serve as a Secretary to the Committee.

The Committee is to share ideas and harmonize activities of the Commission to ensure that there is adequate security before, during and after the 2016 election.

“…Of the 18 members, eight are from the commission and the remaining ten come from institutions that the commission decided should have representation on the committee”, Mr Owusu Parry, Public Affairs Director of the EC, recently told Citi News.

- See more at: http://citifmonline.com/2016/02/22/ecs-actions-must-deepen-public-trust-gyampo/#sthash.q3UNEV02.dpuf

 

 

A Senior Lecturer at the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), Dr. Ransford Gyampoh is questioning the rationale behind the Electoral Commission’s formation of an Election Steering Committee without broad consultations.

According to him, the distrust that political parties and some Ghanaians have for the Electoral Commission will only be deepened by such actions and decisions which are not based on consensus from key political actors in the country.

Speaking on the Citi Breakfast Show, Dr. Gyampo said the Electoral Commission must be seen to be actively implementing the reforms that were agreed upon in the aftermath of the 2012 elections rather than creating bodies such as the Steering Committee.

- See more at: http://citifmonline.com/2016/02/22/ecs-actions-must-deepen-public-trust-gyampo/#sthash.q3UNEV02.dpuf
Read more
22/Feb/2016

Hannah Tetteh briefs Parliament on GTMO detainees

Foreign Affairs Minister, Hannah Tetteh, is currently on the floor of Parliament briefing Members in a closed door meeting over the circumstances that led to Ghana accepting the two Yemeni ex GITMO detainees into its fold.

Her invitation to the August House was spurred by concerns from Members from both sides of the legislature over the Gitmo detainees’ acceptance into the country without their knowledge.

Snippets of information picked from the meeting indicates that Madam Tetteh is not prepared to open up.

She came into the House with a prepared document and has restricted herself to that note all along.

Hannah Tetteh, kasapafmonline.com understands, has admitted that there is an agreement between Ghana and the US Government over the ex GTMO detainees but declined to give details of the said agreement.

According to her, she was and is still not privy to the discussions that have gone on between President Mahama and the US Government.

She said the matter was even not discussed at the national security level and therefore information regarding the circumstances that led to the two ex GTMO detainees are scanty.

On Wednesday, January 6, 2016, the Foreign Affairs Minister announced that Ghana has accepted a plea from the International Criminal Tribunal to provide shelter for two cleared terrorist suspects of Yemeni origin who were detained in Guantanamo Bay prison by US authorities.

The two were Khalid Mohammed Salih al-Dhuby and Mahmmoud Omar Mohammed Bin Atef.

According to Madam Hannah Tetteh, the two Gitmo detainees were unable to “return to Yemen at the moment and we have indicated our readiness to accept them for a period of two years after which they may leave the country”.

That aside, the Ministry said it had also agreed to provide humanitarian assistance and refuge to some persons from Rwanda, Yemen and Syria.

Ever since the announcement, a cross section of the Ghanaian populace has criticized the government for putting the country’s security into jeopardy.

Concerns have also been raised as to the actual number of detainees the country has admitted into its fold.

“I have received a paper indicating that fifteen (15) more of the detainees will be following. That means Ghana is going to host 17 of these detainees. So, it is important that we get to know whether their arrival will benefit Ghana. In the context of good governance, information is very vital. We call it answerability – people need to be accountable”, argued Dr. Nana Ato Arthur, MP for Komenda-Edina-Eguafo.

Madam Hannah Tetteh is therefore expected to brief Members about what actually went into the discussions with the US Government before accepting the Gitmo detainees.

Source: Kasapafmonline.com

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19/Feb/2016

Uganda polls: Museveni's main rival, Besigye, arrested. Ghana is blessed

Police in Uganda say they have arrested the main opposition presidential candidate to prevent him from announcing his own election results.

Kizza Besigye was detained during a raid on his party's headquarters in the capital, Kampala, following Thursday's tightly contested elections.

Police also fired tear gas to disperse his supporters.

The US urged President Yoweri Museveni, who is seeking to extend his 30-year-rule, to "rein in his police".

With official results for nearly half of the polling stations declared, Mr Museveni is leading with 62% of the vote, while Mr Besigye has 33%.

Mr Besigye's supporters say the result is being rigged to rob him of victory.

This is the third time in the space of a week that the opposition candidate has been detained.

He was released on the two previous occasions without being charged.

There is a heavy deployment of soldiers and police in parts of Kampala, says the BBC's Catherine Byaruhanga in the city.

There have also been reports of some clashes between the security forces and opposition supporters, she adds.

Mr Besigye was arrested because he planned to announce "purportedly final results" in breach of electoral laws, police said in a statement.

His action would have amounted to "disturbing public order", police said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry telephoned Mr Museveni, and told him that the arrest "calls into question Uganda's commitment to a transparent and credible election process free from intimidation", the state department said in a statement.

The US embassy in Uganda condemned the crackdown in a post on its Twitter account.

tweet from us mission condemning raid

The US also criticised the shutdown of social media, chat apps and mobile money services in Uganda on Thursday.

President Museveni said the decision had been taken for security reasons, and to prevent people from "telling lies".

Voting was extended to a second day at a few polling stations, where election material arrived up to five hours late on Thursday.

The Commonwealth election observer mission head, Nigeria's former President Olusegun Obasanjo, said the lengthy delay in opening polling stations was "absolutely inexcusable and will not inspire trust and confidence in the system and the process".

Ugandans also voted in parliamentary and local elections.

Final results are expected on Saturday.

Major presidential contenders:

Posters of Uganda's three main presidential candidates

  • Kizza Besigye, 59, veteran opposition leader and once personal doctor to incumbent President Museveni. He has lost the last three elections
  • Amama Mbabazi, 67, former ally of President Museveni and once prime minister and also served as defence, security and justice ministers
  • Yoweri Museveni, 71, in power since winning a five-year guerrilla war in 1986 and he is one of Africa's longest-serving leaders. His final term was meant to end in 2006, but in 2005 he won a campaign to lift the constitutional term limits.

Uganda election: Issues, candidates and the poll

Uganda election: Old guard tries new tactics

Source: bbc.com

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19/Feb/2016

Uganda election: Facebook and Whatsapp blocked

Social media has been blocked in Uganda on the day of presidential elections to stop people "telling lies", President Yoweri Museveni has said.

Mr Museveni, 71, is seeking to extend his 30-year rule, in a race widely seen as the tightest in the East African state's history.

His main rival Kizza Besigye was briefly detained by police.

A foreign observer group condemned the blockage of social media and lengthy delays in opening voting booths.

Uganda decides: Live updates

Uganda's election explained

Interviewed on TV about social media, Mr Museveni said: "Some people misuse those pathways. You know how they misuse them - telling lies.

"If you want a right then use it properly."

Many people found a way around the controversial restrictions, including opposition candidate Amama Mbabazi who tweeted advice on how to do it:

Amama Mbabazi tweet

A VPN - a Virtual Private Network - gets round government censorship by redirecting your internet activity to a computer in a different country.

Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and mobile money services were blocked.

Despite this, #UgandaDecides was trending on Twitter.

Commonwealth election observer mission head Olusegun Obasanjo said: "It is ill advised if anyone has blocked social media."

Condemning the failure of voting stations to open on time, he said: "Delays of three, four, five and even six hours, especially in Kampala, are absolutely inexcusable and will not inspire trust and confidence in the system and the process".

The electoral commission said difficulties in transporting electoral materials caused the delays.

The BBC's Catherine Byaruhanga in the capital, Kampala, reports that crowds were angry after waiting several hours to vote and police fired tear gas to disperse them.

Voting was cancelled at at least two polling stations in the city after clashes with police and accusations of fake ballots being distributed.

Some voters in Kampala, traditionally an opposition stronghold, accused the authorities of deliberately stalling the vote, AFP news agency reports.

"People are quite angry and everybody is believing that there is something wrong behind this because of the way they are delaying things," Moses Omony, a motorbike taxi driver, is quoted as saying.

Mr Besigye was arrested for demanding access to a house in Kampala where he believed vote rigging was taking place following the closure of polling stations, said Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda, spokesman for his FDC party.

He is among seven opposition candidates hoping to end Mr Museveni's 30-year rule.

A candidate needs to secure more than 50% of the vote to avoid a run-off with the second-ranked contender.

Ugandans also voted in parliamentary and local elections.

Official results are expected by Saturday.

Major presidential contenders:

Posters of Uganda's three main presidential candidates

  • Kizza Besigye, 59, veteran opposition leader and once personal doctor to incumbent President Museveni. He has lost the last three elections
  • Amama Mbabazi, 67, former ally of President Museveni and once prime minister and also served as defence, security and justice ministers
  • Yoweri Museveni, 71, in power since winning a five-year guerrilla war in 1986 and he is one of Africa's longest-serving leaders. His final term was meant to end in 2006, but in 2005 he won a campaign to lift the constitutional term limits.

Uganda election: Issues, candidates and the poll

Uganda election: Old guard tries new tactics

Source: bbc.com

Read more
18/Feb/2016

Burundi crisis: US concerned over 'Rwanda's destabilising activities'

The US has raised concerns with Rwandan officials over reports suggesting it is involved in "destabilising activities" in neighbouring Burundi, officials have said.

Rwanda is reported to have armed and trained refugees to fight on behalf of the Burundian opposition.

The Rwandan government has denied the allegations.

Burundi has been hit by civil conflict since President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to stand for a third term.

Has African Union let down Burundi?

Burundi on the brink

Tit-for-tat killings spread fear

In a hearing in the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, two top diplomats cited reports from colleagues in the field that they said pointed to Rwandan involvement in the Burundi crisis.

Thomas Perriello, US envoy for the Great Lakes region of Africa, said the reports suggested that Burundian refugees, including children, were being recruited from camps in Rwanda to participate in armed attacks against the Burundian government.

Turmoil erupted in Burundi after Mr Nkurunziza announced plans last April to run for a third term, which he went on to win.

More than 400 people have died in the violence and at least 240,000 have fled the country.

map

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US assistant secretary of African affairs, said that US officials had encouraged Rwandan authorities "to play a productive role and not to do anything that might further destabilise Burundi".

The governments of Rwanda and Burundi are from rival ethnic groups and there is growing international concern that another ethnic conflict could take root in the region.

Last week, a UN panel reported that Burundian refugees had been recruited at a refugee camp in eastern Rwanda in May and June 2015, and given two months of military training.


Burundi's deepening crisis:

  • April 2015: Protests erupt after President Pierre Nkurunziza announces he will seek a third term in office.
  • May 2015: Constitutional court rules in favour of Mr Nkurunziza, amid reports of judges being intimidated. Tens of thousands flee violence amid protests.
  • May 2015: Army officers launch a coup attempt, which fails.
  • July 2015: Elections are held, with Mr Nkurunziza re-elected. The polls are disputed, with opposition leader Agathon Rwasa describing them as "a joke"
  • November 2015: Burundi government gives those opposing President Nkurunziza's third term five days to surrender their weapons ahead of a promised crackdown.
  • November 2015: UN warns it is less equipped to deal with violence in Burundi than it was for the Rwandan genocide.
  • December 2015: 87 people killed on one day as soldiers respond to an attack on military sites in Bujumbura.
  • January 2016: Amnesty International publishes satellite images it says are believed to be mass graves close to where December's killings took place

Burundi's football-playing president

Find out more about Burundi

Source: bbc.com

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10/Feb/2016

US Election 2016: Chris Christie ends bid for Republican nomination

Republican Chris Christie has dropped out of the US presidential race after a disappointing finish in New Hampshire.

The New Jersey governor spent heavily and campaigned the longest in the state but still finished in sixth place.

Mr Christie joins former tech executive Carly Fiorina, who also left the race after struggling in Iowa and New Hampshire.

He was praised for his debate performances and was credited with blunting the momentum of Marco Rubio.

During the campaign, Mr Christie promoted his law-and-order credentials, saying his experience as a federal prosecutor after the 9/11 attacks uniquely prepared him to protect the country against terrorists.

Also as the Republican leader of traditionally Democratic state, Mr Christie said his experience showed he could work with both parties to get things done in Washington.

However, as a candidate his positions on issues such as climate change, immigration and gay rights shifted to the right, putting him in line with his more conservative rivals.

Mr Rubio had surged in the polls after a strong showing in Iowa. But Mr Christie effectively painted the Florida senator as the "boy in the bubble" who was overly cautious and scripted.

However, Mr Christie's moderate rivals - Ohio Governor John Kasich and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush - seemed to have reaped the benefits.

"While running for president I tried to reinforce what I have always believed - that speaking your mind matters, that experience matters, that competence matters and that it will always matter in leading our nation," Mr Christie said in a statement on Wednesday, making an indirect reference to front-runner Donald Trump.

A former prosecutor, Mr Christie is known for his blunt and aggressive speaking style. His campaign slogan was: "Telling it like it is."

However, he was quickly eclipsed by Mr Trump, who drew headlines and massive crowds with his brash persona and controversial statements about immigrants and trade.

In 2012, Republican leaders had urged Mr Christie, who was then a rising star in the party, to run for president, but he rebuffed their appeals, saying he wasn't ready yet.

Yet by 2015, when Mr Christie launched his presidential campaign, his stock had fallen. His popularity faltered after his staff was accused of intentionally creating a traffic jam to punish a political enemy.

His approval ratings in New Jersey also suffered as some residents said Mr Christie was more concerned about his presidential ambitions than his current job.

After flooding hit coastal towns in New Jersey in January, Mr Christie had to apologise after he sarcastically dismissed calls for him to do more to help.

"I don't know what you want me to do, you want me to go down there with a mop?" he told a man who questioned why he was in New Hampshire and not New Jersey.

Ms Fiorina decided to end her campaign on Wednesday after months struggling to regain traction.

"While I suspend my candidacy today, I will continue to travel this country and fight for those Americans who refuse to settle for the way things are and a status quo that no longer works for them," she said in a statement.

The former chief executive of Hewlett Packard had shot to the top of the Republican field after a series of strong debate performances.

Her campaign sought to capitalise on Republican voters' apparent appetite for candidates outside the political establishment, but her poll numbers quickly faded and she was never able to recover.

Mr Christie and Mrs Fiorina's departures leave seven Republicans remaining in the race for president.

More than dozen candidates had entered the race over the summer, but the field has narrowed after voters cast the first ballots in Iowa and New Hampshire.

20 February - South Carolina primary (Republican); Nevada caucus (Democrat)

23 February - Nevada caucus (R)

27 February - South Carolina primary (D)

1 March - 'Super Tuesday' - 15 states or territories decide

18-21 July - Republican convention, nominee picked

25-28 July - Democratic convention, nominee picked

8 November - US presidential elections

In depth: Primary calendar

Source: bbc.com

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10/Feb/2016

PNC Will Revolutionalise Agriculture – Dr. Edward Mahama

Dr. Edward Nasigrie Mahama, Presidential Candidate of the People’s National Convention (PNC) has said the Party would revolutionalise agriculture and make Ghana an exporter of rice and maize if voted to power in the 2016 elections.

He said Ghana is endowed with arable land and suitable vegetation for the reproduction of all kinds of food crops and that the only thing lacking is a visionary leader to spearhead the forefront of farmers with good policies and programmes to make farming business venture to enhance production. 

Dr. Mahama was providing policies and programmes that the PNC government would implement if voted to power in the 2016 general election during an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Wa. 

The Presidential Candidate gave the assurance that a PNC Government would provide credit support and the needed farm equipment and machinery as well as inputs such as fertilizers and make them available at the appropriate time and at affordable prices to farmers to increase food production.

“I will lead Ghanaian farmers to produce rice and maize to feed the nation and for exporting,” Dr Mahama said and stressed that Ghana will stop the importation of rice during PNC administration.

 Dr. Mahama said agriculture was a force to reckon with, as it has the potential of scaling Ghana out of poverty and unemployment if the necessary attention was given to the sector.

He reminded Ghanaians about the early 70s when the Fumbisi Valleys and Nasia Rice Farms in the northern regions turned the fortunes of farmers to prosperity, and wondered why those valleys were still available but government was unable to make good use of them to benefit farmers.

Dr. Mahama said the three regions in the north alone have the potential of producing rice and maize for export, to earn foreign exchange and appealed to Ghanaians to consider the PNC in the 2016 elections as a stopgap to bring prosperity and progress to the country.

Source: GNA

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10/Feb/2016

Parliament Approves Withdrawal Of 1% Interest Tax

Parliament on Wednesday February 6, 2016, approved the Income Tax Amendment Bill. The new Act, when signed by the President into law, will remove a recently imposed 1 percent tax on interests earned by investors, and also cut withholding tax from 15 percent to 7.5 percent.

A blistering wave of sustained public anger forced the Mahama-government to rush to Parliament with the bill after a law passed last year, imposed what critics have called killer taxes, sparking fears that investments in Ghana could plummet and also suffocate businesses. 

It is not clear as to when Parliament will communicate it’s decision on the new act to the President for action, but insiders say the “House is likely to act with extreme urgency in notifying the President on the matter” given the “huge public, business and investor interest in the provisions of the new legislation.” 

Stop charging 1% interest tax – GRA

The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) on January 13 2016, directed all financial institutions to stop charging the 1% withholding tax on interest earned by individuals.

However, the move by the GRA generated angered some members of parliament since in their view, the GRA could not carry out such an action without recourse to Parliament.

A member of Parliament’s Finance Committee, Dr. Mark Asibey Yeboah argued this point out  out in an interview with Citi News.

“If Parliament passes a law, the president assents to it, and that is the position of the law. Even the President in his press conference was not able to send a message to Ghanaians that nobody should pay that tax; the Minister of Finance cannot say same. Now the GRA sends a directive to financial institutions to stop collecting the tax. I think it’s a not right, they shouldn’t have done that and as the law stands, they should go ahead and collect the taxes because it is only Parliament that can reverse the decision,” he insisted.
 

Source: citifmonline.com

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10/Feb/2016

MMDAs Must Have Offices For Independent Governance Institutions - Ahwoi

All Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) must have functional offices for Independent Governance Institutions (IGIs) in their jurisdiction, in order to ensure good governance, transparency and accountability.

Professor Kwamena Ahwoi, Lecturer, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, said as far as practicable, MMDAs must ensure that independent constitutional bodies such as Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, Ghana Audit Service, and Electoral Commission, among others have office and staff accommodation, vehicles logistics and equipment to make them functional in their dominion.

He said under the new decentralization programme 60 per cent of the national budgetary allocation is for the MMDAs; hence the need for the IGIs to be in every administrative district to ensure transparency and accountability.

Prof Ahwoi, who is also a local government expert and a former Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, was speaking on Tuesday in Accra at a day’s workshop on “Inter-Service and Sectoral Collaboration and Co-operation System (ISCCS)”.

The workshop was organised by the Local Government Service (LGS) for participants from the IGIs, decentralized and deconcentrated/non-decentralised sectors and departments.

Prof Ahwoi cautioned that without functional IGIs in place at each MMDAs, central government’s budgetary allocations to them could easily be mismanaged.

He said the purpose of the ISCCS is to facilitate unity of effort, achieve common objectives; provide common understanding and development of an effective local platform to work.

On the new Consolidated Local Government Draft Bill, Prof Ahwoi said it would soon be placed before cabinet for endorsement and subsequent submission to Parliament for approval.

He said under the Bill, the District Assemblies Common Fund of 1994, the Local Government Act of 1993, the Local Government Service Act of 2003, the Internal Audit Agency Act of 2003, the Public Procurement Act of 2003 and LI 1964 of 2009 are being considered for a review.

He said Ghana needs a binding decentralisation policy which cannot be altered by any successive governments in the future.

Mr F. N. Andan, the Chairman of the LGS Council, said the development and implementation of an ISCCS would enhance holistic planning and judicious use of resources for efficient and effective service delivery.

Dr Callistus Mahama, the Head of the LGS, said as an effective system for integrated service delivery, the ISCCS takes various forms such as inter institutional engagement, networking and communication, coordination of functions, resource and service sharing, capacity development, definition of reporting relationship, conflict resolution and joint service delivery.

Nana Kwesi Agyekum Dwamena, the Head of Civil Service, said decentralization is all about service delivery and the people of Ghana.

He pledged the Civil Service’s full support for the implementation of the decentralisation programme; further declaring that “we need to collaborate to avoid duplication of functions”.

Source: GNA

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10/Feb/2016

Ex-Prez Kufuor: Social Media Affecting Ghana Negatively

A former president of Ghana, John Agyekum Kufour, has cautioned the public to be wary of the negative influence of television and social media.

Mr Kufuor said some alien vices prevalent in developed countries have found their way into Ghana, in recent times, and could be partly responsible for the increased decay in Ghanaian society.

“Even though technology has come to play good roles in the lives of Ghanaians, it is now having negative implications in the society especially with the youth, who have their own way of accessing every  information through  various social medias , of which are not good for human consumption” he told Nana Yaw Kesse on Peace FM’s 6PM News Bulletin on Tuesday February 9 while mourning Abuakwa North MP J B Danwuah Adu, who was killed Tuesday dawn at his Shiashie residence in the national capital, Accra.

The former president also pointed out that “life has become too fast and so advanced, so, our security systems should develop fast to catch up with modern trends, else things will be dangerous”.

He noted that “government should work at the unemployment rate which is also causing the evil one to find jobs for the idle hands, creating problems all over the country.”

According to him if a youth after school has nothing doing he would be lured by friends to engage in bad ways which can earn them income since they are not engaged in anything profitable.

In Mr Kufuor’s view, there have been too many strange deaths and killings in recent times, saying: “I just don’t understand. The killings and deaths are becoming one too many. Both children and adults are dying. It’s not normal,” he lamented.

“We are praying that the police and security agencies will be vigilant and proactive because this is uncharacteristic of Ghanaians, it is too much,” he underscored.

Source: peacefmonline.com

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09/Feb/2016

This Is 'Not Good News At All'...'I’m So Disturbed' – Kufuor

Former President John Agyekum Kufour says he still cannot come to terms with the unfortunate news of the death of the Member of Parliament for Abuakwa North, Joseph Boakye Danquah, who was stabbed to death in his house in the wee hours of Tuesday.

Speaking in an interview on PeaceFM during the station's 6pm Bulletin, the former president said,; “I’m so disturbed that I don’t even understand it.” 

The former President, who made the late MP a Deputy Minister for Women and Children during his tenure, also lamented the bizarre cases of murder being recorded lately saying "something strange" is happening in Ghana

It’s not good news. It’s not good news at all...I just don't understand. The killings and deaths are becoming one too many. Both children and adults are dying. It's not normal...I don’t get it….we plead with the securities to really look into it, it's becoming one too many,” he added.

He emphatically stated that he can never attribute the recent killings to a particular individual, party or society because it can never be the cause.

The former president therefore urged government to focus on providing security agencies with the required gadgets needed to track issues above human imagination, to keep them in tune with the digital ways of getting information.

This he said need to corrected as soon as possible to prevent the security agencies from always being blamed for not providing accurate and correct information on criminal cases when the actual problem is because they do not have the necessary equipment needed to investigate crimes.

Source: peacefmonline.com

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09/Feb/2016

$7bn ENI-Sankofa Deal...Gov't Responds To NPP's Concerns

Government has described as needless, the appeal by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to the Italian Prime Minster, Mateo Renzi, to review the terms of the ENI-Sankofa gas deal because the opposition party's claims are misleading.

The NPP, on Tuesday, called on the Italian Prime Minister, during his two-day visit to Ghana, to review some of the terms in the ENI-Sankofa deal to maximize mutual benefits from the project.

According to the NPP, the deal disadvantages Ghana in that even the negotiated gas price of $9.8/MMBtu is higher than the price of gas sold to Ghana from Nigeria.

It is even more expensive than our own Atuabo Gas price of $8.8/MMBtu delivered at Takoradi...At the negotiated gas price of $9.8/MMBtu, it puts to great risk Ghana’s potential of becoming the Petrochemical hub of the region to Nigeria, due to that country’s lower gas prices.,” a statement issued by the party on Tuesday, February 2 and signed by Nana Akomea, the Communications Director of NPP said.

He further stated that since the contractual agreement between the government of Ghana and ENI, a state-owned Italian oil conglomerate, "is potentially the largest single investment in Ghana, which will bind the Ghanaian people for the next 20 years, it is, therefore, important that the benefits of this project are not so one-sided as they seem today."

But the Minister of Energy and Petroleum, Emmanuel Amarh Buah, in a statement issued today, said the NPP is seeking "to create some confusion in the minds of well-meaning Ghanaians since the issues raised are not factual."


Read below Government’s full response to the NPP concerns.


RESPONSE TO THE NEW PATROTIC PARTY’S STATEMENT ON THE ENI-SANKOFA DEAL

Accra, February 4, 2016. – The Ministry of Petroleum’s attention has been drawn to a statement issued and signed by the Director of Communications for the New Patriotic Party, Nana Akomea on the OCTP gas project. The statement which was captioned: “NPP WELCOMES ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER, RAISES QUESTIONS ABOUT ENI-SANKOFA DEAL” sought to create some confusion in the minds of well-meaning Ghanaians particularly as the issues raised are not factual and therefore misleading.

The Ministry therefore wishes to set the records straight by responding to the issues as raised in the statement.

NPP: The Government of Ghana’s provision of financial terms to ENI and its partners of 20% return on investment, instead of the normal 12.5%, is an unusually high rate for commercial transactions of this nature, especially as GNPC assumes all the risk in the project.

RESPONSE: The Government did not provide a guaranteed 20% to the partners. The rate of return on investment for this project is less than 12.5%.

Usually individual partners use different criteria for deciding whether or not to proceed with a project. In doing so, they normally discount past cost on investment. In the pricing negotiations for this project the parties considered the full cycle economics which includes past costs, future costs and potential returns. Under this approach the rate of return was less than 12.5% within an environment of high oil prices. So given significant reductions in oil prices today the return to the investor will even be lower on a full project life cycle basis.

It is also not true that GNPC is assuming all the risk in the project. The partners took a significant portion of the exploration risk amounting to about a billion dollars and are expected to spend about 95% of the development cost for 50% of the overall benefits.

NPP: The negotiated gas price of $9.8/MMBtu for gas from the Sankofa fields is too high by world standards, of between $5-7/MMBtu. It is even higher than the price of gas sold to Ghana from Nigeria, which stands at $8.3/MMBtu, delivered at Takoradi. It is even more expensive than our own Atuabo Gas price of $8.8/MMBtu delivered at Takoradi. At the negotiated gas price of $9.8/MMBtu, it puts to great risk Ghana’s potential of becoming the Petrochemical hub of the region to Nigeria, due to that country’s lower gas prices.

RESPONSE: The price of gas in the Sankofa Gas Sales Agreement is determined by a number of factors. This includes:

The headline price, which is US$9.8 per million British thermal unit.

The cost of developing the field and operating it for 20 years.

Interventions by the GNPC to reduce financing costs, which would reduce the gas price by as much as US$1.65 per million British thermal unit (MMBtu).

The concept of world average price for gas as a comparator is erroneous since we are dealing with the price of delivered gas at a particular delivery point. For example, if gas is produced in the US, by the time it arrives in Ghana in the form of LNG, would have been priced at more than US$15 /MMBtu. Even at today’s oil price (say, US$30), LNG landed price in Ghana would be more than US$8/MMBtu.

In addition, comparing Atuabo gas to the Sankofa gas is misleading. Atuabo gas is associated gas, which was priced at zero. The zero price was negotiated for a foundation volume of 200 Bcf. This was possible because the associated gas was a bye product of a very lucrative oil project. Beyond 2020, when the foundation volume would have been exhausted, the price of Jubilee gas would cease to be zero. Another key feature of the Sankofa gas price is the fact that about 50% of the proceeds would accrue to the State in various forms, including taxes, royalties, as well as GNPC’s 20% stake in the project.

NPP: This agreement compels GNPC to buy up to 90% of ENI produced gas at a higher negotiated price of $9.8/MMBtu for 20 solid years. This gas sales same agreement is further guaranteed against default by three guarantees – the government of Ghana, the World Bank and GNPC – amounting to some $750 million. Furthermore, GNPC, after buying the gas from ENI at a guaranteed price stands the risk of losing its market (VRA, IPPs, petrochemical industries) to other cheap gas suppliers.

RESPONSE: The Agreement reached contains a take-or-pay volume of 90%. Such requirements are standard terms in gas sales agreements in our part of the world where the gas market is not developed. In return we are assured of 90% availability of gas from the ENI field, which compares favourably with other less reliable supply sources whose effective prices are higher if we factor in the cost of short term alternatives.

It should also be noted that the 90% is also a commitment by the Contractor to supply same volumes, failure of which attracts penalties in the form of lower price for the gas.

The price of Jubilee and WAGP should be adjusted for the costs of other, more expensive, alternatives as Jubilee and WAGP are highly erratic. It must be stated that to date, Ghana has not been able to implement the terms of contract with WAGP. This has been a major contributor to the prolonged energy challenges that have bedeviled the country. In addition, interruptible supply of gas affects the operational efficiency of power plants, thereby leading to higher cost of power.

The issue of security for the project – from the World Bank, Government and the GNPC – is standard industry practice and is typical in gas commercialization projects in countries where the gas market is not developed. This explains why the World Bank supports this arrangement. It is important to emphasize that the Government’s portion of the security is only the last resort which only kicks in when the value chain ceases to work. That is why Government is implementing the bold reforms within the energy sector to forestall such occurrences. In essence if the value chain works, and SOEs in the chain are viable, there would be no need for this level of security.

NPP: Ghana also guarantees additional free cash flows to the company by allowing them to write-off 7% interest on all commercial loans from project revenues, when the normal provision is between 2-3%. This also reduces Ghana’s potential tax revenues from this project by over $160 million. No other companies, whether from Jubilee or TEN, have been given this same rate of 7%.

RESPONSE: It is equally not true that Ghana guarantees additional cash flow through write off of 7% interest on commercial loans exclusively to this project. There is evidence that other companies in the Petroleum sector have borrowed at near or higher rates than the 7% referred to and have benefitted from tax deductions as provided under the law governing petroleum operations.

NPP: The cost of the development of the Jubilee Fields, with more reserves of oil equivalence and with a water depth of 3,630 ft., came to $4 billion. The cost of development of the TEN oil fields, also with more oil reserves of oil equivalence, came to $4.9 billion. The cost of development of ENI’s Sankofa is $7 billion, with less reserves of oil equivalence and at relatively lower water depths of 2,706 ft. We wonder the quality of due diligence done, if any.

RESPONSE: Comparing the development costs of Ghana’s three leading fields – Jubilee, TEN and Sankofa, is completely out of context. Jubilee and TEN are essentially oil fields, whereas Sankofa is principally a gas project. The investment requirement for any field depends not only on reserves and water depth, but also the complexity of the sub-sea infrastructure, proximity to existing infrastructure (in the case of gas, pipeline network).

Additionally, the statement compares only one phase of Jubilee development to the total ENI project. Jubilee in fact is a phased development project. The full cycle Jubilee development project cost is not USD4billion as indicated in the statement. It is rather expected to be around USD8billion whereas the ENI full cycle development cost is estimated at USD7.9billion. As already stated we are already seeing significant reductions in the cost of the ENI project which will have a positive impact on the final gas price.


Signed: Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah (MP) MINISTER FOR ENERGY AND PETROLEUM

Source: peacefmonline.com

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09/Feb/2016

We Aren’t Safe Under President Mahama - Wontumi Sadly Breaks Down

After carefully studying and analyzing the trend of murder cases being recorded in Ghana lately, the Ashanti Regional Chairman for the New Patriotic Party has observed the nation has reached this frightening point because President Mahama hasn’t made security his top most priority.

Mr. Bernard Antwi Boasiako believes the lack of commitment on the side of President Mahama to ensure Ghanaians are soundly protected by our security agencies, has motivated murderers to take advantage of the situation.

In a statement copied to Peacefmonline.com, the Ashanti Regional Chairman for the NPP charged the president to equip the police and other security agencies with the necessary gadgets and items needed to make them efficient when it comes to tracking down murderers.


Below is a copy of his statement:

As a country, we have witnessed series of assassination attacks under the leadership of President Mahama and it's about time we come out strongly to ask these few questions as Ghanaians!

President Mahama and his NDC and everybody admits that the country has been engulfed with gross corruption, hardships, poor governance and couples of misfortunes but, the least we expected to add up: is the country's security threats and his poor commitment to protect the citizenry.

As the commander in chief of our security forces, we think it's prudent to question the president on matters of our safety when we feel unsafe.

We can't just sit down with our arms folded to allow these forms of misfortunes to continually happen all because the commander in chief of our security forces is not actively performing his roles.

Who knows who is next?

Amongst all these unfortunate happenings under your watch as a president, what measures have you put in place to abate a possible reoccurrence considering the under listed unfortunate assassinations attacks on innocent Ghanaians?

Feb 09, 2016 ~ The MP for Abuakwa North gunned down by unknown assailants.

Jun 21, 2014 ~ The Paramount Chief of the Nanumba Traditional Area, Naa Dasana Andani, killed.

20 Nov, 2014 ~ Nana Adusa Gyapong, the chief of Atwima Koforidua in the Ashanti Region gunned down by unknown assailants.

Mar 12, 2014 ~ Nii Ayittey Noyatse, the Joma Mantse, was shot and killed by unidentified assailants.

Nov 5, 2013 ~ Paramount Chief of Seikwa, Nana Kwaku Dwumah Ankoana II, assassinated

March 13, 2014 ~ Fennec Okyere, manager of controversial hiplife artiste, Kwaw Kese, shot dead.

Nov 12, 2015 ~ Vodafone Marketing Officer shot dead in his home at Sakumono

Dec 5, 2014 ~ The Branch Manager of Ecobank Ghana at Abrepo in Kumasi in the Ashanti region has been shot dead.

12 Dec, 2013 ~ Stanbic Bank worker murdered in mysterious circumstances.


Ghana deserves a leader who cares and for once we ask you to care about us as you prepare to exit power.

I believe you must leave a legacy before exiting power and I think you can do that by strengthening, investigating and protecting the citizenry for once in your few months stay in office.

I further extent my condolence to the family of J.B Dankwah and the people of Abuakwa North and as well all families who have lost their relatives due to President Mahama's failure to ensure his constitutional mandate of care to the citizenry. I share with you all


Signed...
Bernard Antwi Boasiako
(Chairman Wontumi)
Ashanti Regional chairman, NPP

Source: peacefmonline.com

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09/Feb/2016

Ghanaians Will Not Vote To Change Gov't Just For Changing Sake - Fred Agbenyo

Deputy Communications Director of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Fred Agbenyo strongly believes that Ghanaians will give the Mahama administration a second term on November 7, 2016.

Contributing to Peace FM's 'Kokrokoo', Fred Agbenyo noted that the electorates will definitely make the 'right decision' at the appropriate time.

To him, contrary to the beliefs of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) that Ghanaians are going to vote for their Presidential candidate Nana Addo, the 2016 general elections will see a change that is significant.

“Ghanaians will not vote to change government just for changing sake. Ghanaians will not vote to change government for changing sake…I can assure you that the people of this country are watching. They’re listening. And they will take the right decision at the right time.”

Fred Agbenyo also expressed his condolences to the family of the deceased Member of Parliament for Abuakwa North Joseph Boakye Danquah.

He appealed to the Police Service to hold a manhunt for the unknown assailants that crept into the room of the late MP on Tuesday.

Source: peacefmonline.com

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09/Feb/2016

Tragic...NPP MP Murdered!

Information available to Peacefmonline.com indicates that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Abuakwa North in the Eastern Region, Joseph Boakye Danquah, has been stabbed to death.

He was stabbed at his residence at Shiashi in Accra by some unknown assailants on Tuesday dawn.

According to reports his wife, Ivy Heward-Mills was there when the incident occurred. It is however not clear whether the legislator was killed by armed robbers or hired assassins. 

Hon Danquah was 50 years old, a professional accountant and a member of the Special Budget Committee in Parliament. He was also part of the Trade Industry and Tourism Committee and was the grandson of late Ghanaian statesman J.B Danquah.

Meanwhile the Greater Accra Region Police Commander COP George Dampare has confirmed the killing of the MP and indicated that investigations have already started in earnest.

Source: peacefmonline.com

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09/Feb/2016

Make The Right Choice In Nov Elections – Rawlings

Former President Jerry John Rawlings has called on Ghanaians to vote for their preferred political parties during the forthcoming general elections.

He said Ghanaians should not allow themselves to be coerced by any political party or its leadership to vote for him or her during the elections.

Make sure that as we go for the polls in November, you vote based on your own conviction.

Mr. Rawlings said this when he went to pay homage to the late Paramount Chief of the Osudoku Traditional Area.

He urged Ghanaians to ensure that they make the right choice when it comes to electing political leaders in November.

I am not here to campaign but it is important I entreat you to make the right choice based on what you think is right.

Mr. Rawlings was in the company of his wife, Mrs Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings.

The Chiefs and people of Osudoku as part of one week long activities to bid farewell to their King, held a grand durbar for their late Paramount Chief Nene Klagbordjor Animle V on Friday.

Nene Klagbordjor Animle V, was the Paramount Chief of the Osudoku Traditional Area from 1944 to 2014 when he passed on in the United Kingdom.

He is succeeded by Nene Adegbor Ngmogmowuyaa Animle VI.

Source: Citifmonline.com

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07/Feb/2016

Ghanaian Christians & Muslims Must Continue To Co-Exist Peacefully - Bawumia

Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, Vice-Presidential Candidate of the NPP, has cautioned Ghanaian Muslims to be on guard against extremists and their influence and appealed to the Muslim Community to shun all divisions and continue to coexist peacefully with the majority Christian population as it is the only way to guarantee the stability of the Nation.

These comments were contained in a Lecture titled “Islam In The 21st Century: The Role of Muslim Youth in Combating Extremism and Radicalism for Political Stability” delivered at the 9th Annual Congress of the Ghana Muslim Students Association (GMSA) of the University of Development Studies (UDS) on Friday.

“As young people we ought to guard against the evils of exclusivism. It is important that we realise that if Allah so desired He would have made all of us one people. But as He states in the Qur’an, He allows us to wallow in our differences, which He shall settle on the Day of Judgment.

“There shall be no compulsion in religion” so states the Qur’an. Let us therefore respect one another’s views on matters of religion. Intolerance in matters of religion is what breeds extremism and radicalism, which triggers political instability,” he said.

Touching on the relationship between faiths, Alhaji Dr. Bawumia explained that radicalism and extremism are the products of exclusivism and intolerance.

“In Ghana especially, the majority of the people live by the Christian faith. There cannot be peace and stability in Ghana except us, as Muslims co-exist peacefully with our Christian brothers and sisters. What feeds extremism and radicalism is the idea that there is only one way to God. While we are entitled to believe in the rightness of our way, we cannot seek to annihilate views that are opposite to ours. Radicalism and extremism are the product of exclusivism and intolerance.”

The NPP Running Mate delivering what was subsequently described as a well-researched scholarly Islamic piece by other speakers, explained that Islam itself is very tolerant of Christianity and pointed to various examples in the Qu’ran to make this point.

“Islam itself is very tolerant of Christianity. The first wave of Muslim migration to escape the persecution of the Makkans who opposed the nascent religion of Islam, was to Abyssinia (modern day Ethiopia). At that time the Prophet advised his followers to migrate to Abyssinia because “a Christian King rules.” Indeed the Qur’an affirms the Islamic affinity to Christianity when it states that “you will find nearest to the believers those who say ‘we are Christians…because amongst them are men who are devoted to learning and monks and because they are not arrogant” (Q: 5:82). The Prophet is also reported to have stated that “both in this world and in the hereafter, I am the nearest of all the people to Jesus, the son of Mary…” (Bukhari: Vol 4: 434),” he stated.

Continuing, Alhaji Dr. Bawumia mentioned the recognition given to Jesus and Mary in the Qu’ran.

“When the Makkans sent a delegation to appeal to the Negus of Abyssinia to extradite the Muslims and when the Muslims were called upon to say why they should not be extradited, their Spokesperson, Jafar bin Abu Talib, quoted copiously from the 19th chapter of the Qur’an as his defense. The 19th chapter of the Qur’an is called the chapter of Mary (Suratul Maryam). Indeed Mary is the only woman mentioned by name in the Qur’an and the chapter acknowledges the prophet-hood of Jesus, his special relationship with God, including the fact that he spoke from his cradle in defense of his mother when sections of her people thought that she had engaged in adultery; an incident that is not even mentioned in the Bible. The Prophet himself was to marry a Coptic Christian by name Maria and Allah subsequently made marriage between a Muslim man and a Christian woman lawful,” he added.

Dr. Bawumia urged Ghanaian Muslims to follow the good example of the National Chief Imam and to continue to work to sustain the peace and co-existence between the two faiths.

“In Ghana, unlike our neighbours in Nigeria, we have largely lived at peace with our Christian brothers and sisters. We have a National Chief Imam who even opened the doors of our Central Mosque in Accra to Christians to renovate for us as a symbol of the co-existence that ought to be between us. The youth should emulate this example by the National Chief Imam who is an embodiment of both Qur’anic and Prophetic wisdom.”

Source: peacefmonline.com

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07/Feb/2016

Appiah-Ofori : NPP Should Deal With Ken Agyapong

Former Member of Parliament for Asikuma Odoben Brakwa, P.C. Appiah-Ofori has urged Ghanaians to forgive Assin Central New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP, Kennedy Ohene Agyapong, for his foul-mouthed outbursts in recent times as he urges the party's hierarchy to call him to order.

The ex-legislator said the vitriol from the MP had left him so “sad” he was lost for words and would not be able to comment at that moment in time but urged Ghanaians to forgive him nevertheless.

“I am pleading with Ghanaians to forgive Kennedy Agyapong... They shouldn’t judge all NPP members by his comments,” Mr. Appiah-Ofori told Accra News on Friday, February 5.

He urged the party’s disciplinary wing to take action to curtail the lawmaker’s public rants to give the party a good image, saying: “I am very sad. I think the party’s Disciplinary Committee should summon him before it; otherwise, it will continue unabated. It’s unfortunate. So they should call him and whip him into line.”

Source: peacefmonline.com

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07/Feb/2016

NPP Re-Run: ‘I Won’t Take Part In Sham Election’

The stripped winner of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Korle Klottey parliamentary primary, Nii Noi Nortey, has vowed not to participate in a re-run of the election as ordered by the party’s national executive.

The fuming victor declared, “I am not going to be part of any sham re-run”.

Re-run of primary

The steering committee of the party ordered a re-run of the parliamentary primary in the Korle Klottey constituency following months of controversy over its fairness.
The party’s decision comes after it agreed with the parties to withdraw the case from court. Announcing the decision, Ag General Secretary, John Boadu, told anxious party supporters the re-run was necessary if peace was to prevail in the constituency.

Philip Addison, who went to court after losing to Nii Noi last August, will now have the opportunity to re-launch his parliamentary bid.

He has maintained that the results of the August 2 primary were cooked to favour the former constituency chairman, Nii Nortey.

Addison who polled 22 votes as against 393 votes for Nii Noi boycotted the elections and accused the constituency executive and the Electoral Commission (EC) of staging the polls.

Decision irks supporters

The party’s decision has irked Nii Nortey’s supporters who accused the acting National Chairman, Freddie Blay, of backing Nii Noi's contender, Phillip Addison.

But speaking on Joy FM’s Top Story, Nii Noi said he was disappointed that  the delegates were being made to pay for inconsistency in party decisions.

He said he was "confused” that the party that took the decision to hold the polls on August 2, 2015 should do a u-turn .

He said the party failed to defend its decision in court after Addison dragged the party there.

“It is not my grandfather who organised the election. It is the party which did.” Nii Noi criticised the party for chickening out of the legal tussle.

Ag Gen Secretary

But the acting General Secretary, John Boadu, explained that the confusion that erupted in the constituency following the poll was because of the arbitrary decision of the then General Secretary to change the date.

“The change of date from August 8 to August 2,” he said, was not the decision of the national executive.

This change, Addison has maintained caused his defeat as it took his supporters by surprise.

Mr Boadu was reluctant to revisit the controversy or explain why the party ordered the re-run.

But he assured the supporters that the decision was arrived at after extensive consultations.

His deputy General Secretary, Nana Obiri Boahen, also stressed that even polling station executives were consulted by the party.

Nonetheless, Nana Boahen expressed reservations about the final decision.

He said the reaction from the ground meant the party might have to review its decision.

“Sincerely …I think we should go back and take a second look at it”

Take your party

He said the “unfolding drama” after the decision was announced could not be underestimated because politics was a numbers game.

Nii Noi’s supporters have vowed to leave the party.

"Take your party! God will punish you people one by one" a woman fumed at the decision as Nii Noi's supporters left the party’s office.

Nii Noi has signalled dragging the party to court as an option open to him.

“I will be consulting my lawyers. I have been quiet from day one [but] it doesn’t mean I am stupid”

Nii Noi explained that as a former constituency chairman, he had sacrificed to make the party attractive and was being robbed of the fruits of his hardwork. 

Source: peacefmonline.com

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07/Feb/2016

NPP orders re-run in Korle Klottey constituency

The Steering Committee of the opposition NPP has ordered a re-run of parliamentary primaries in the Korle Klottey constituency following months of controversy over its fairness.

The party’s decision comes after it agreed with the parties to withdraw the case from court. Announcing the decision, ag. General Secretary John Boadu told anxious party supporters, the re-run was necessary if peace was to prevail in the constituency.

John Boadu said too much litigation has surrounded the results and only a re-run can resolve the factionalism in the constituency.
Philip Addison who went to court after losing to Nii Noi Nortey last August will now have the opportunity to re-launch his parliamentary bid.

He has maintained the results of the August 2 primaries were cooked to favour the former constituency chairman, Nii Noi Nortey.

Addison who polled 22 votes as against 393 votes for Nii Nortey boycotted the elections and accused constituency executives and the Electoral Commission of staging the polls.

“The Electoral Commission was very much into this thing, people were given double ballots and so on ...they [EC] were in on it. Everything has been cooked", he said.

Trouble started after then General Secretary Kwabena Agyepong in a letter directed that elections be held on Sunday 2nd August. There was an agreement to hold it on 8th August.

Addison’s camp felt shortchanged and withdrew from the process along with another contender, Nii Adjei Tawiah.

They argued their supporters would be in church on Sunday and other delegates were not adequately informed of the change of date. He went to court where he obtained a default judgement for a re-run.

But the party asked for out-of-court settlement. The latest decision by the party irked some of Nii Noi Nortey's supporters.

"Take your party! God will punish you people one by one" a woman fumed at the decision as Nii Noi's supporters left the party office.

Source: ghanaweb.com

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04/Feb/2016

There are lunatics in Parliament – Koku Anyidoho

Deputy General Secretary of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) Koku Anyidoho has called on the security agencies to be decisive in dealing with criminals who clothe themselves with political colours.

According to him, the police and other security agencies must be able to single out individuals and punish them for their crimes rather than lumping them together with their perceived political associations.

Speaking at Starr 103.5FM’s ‘Thought Leadership Summit” on security titled : “Securing Ghana 2016: Fending off threats and safeguarding the peace,” at the Alisa Hotel Thursday, the former presidential spokesperson said politicians who make inflammatory statements must be arrested regardless of their status in society.

“There are so many lunatics and outright idiots around, and they believe that so long as they hide under political colours, they can say anything and go free. In this Agogo issue, people are playing politics with it. People think it is an election year so they must blow that matter up.

“...There are lunatics everywhere, they are not just in the asylum houses or mad houses; they are everywhere even in parliament, they are there.

“People who make inflammatory comments should be dealt with regardless of their political coloration,” Koku fumed.

Other thematic areas including the state of Ghana’s preparedness to respond to emerging national and sub-regional security threats in a globalized world, understanding Government’s position, media, and religious leaders: what role can they play in emerging security environment and is the security ready for emerging threats, were also discussed at the summit.

Source: starrfmonline.com

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04/Feb/2016

US election: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in first showdown

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are preparing to go head-to-head for the first time, as they vie to be the Democratic presidential pick.

The TV debate in New Hampshire is their first since the Democratic race was whittled down to two this week.

The first state-by-state contest, in Iowa on Monday, was won narrowly by Mrs Clinton ahead of Mr Sanders.

Since that vote, they have been exchanging barbs over who boasts the stronger liberal credentials.

Their arguments centre on who can best deliver on policies dear to the left-wing of the party, such as providing universal healthcare access, improving income equality and protecting worker rights.

At a town hall event on Wednesday in which they appeared on stage separately, Vermont Senator Mr Sanders accused his rival of being a part-time liberal.


Analysis - Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, New Hampshire

Just days before the New Hampshire primary, Hillary Clinton finds herself in a new role - that of the underdog. She's trailed Bernie Sanders, senator from neighbouring Vermont, by double-digits in the state's polls for more than a month.

Now, thanks to former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley's withdrawal from the Democratic race for president, she's alone on the debate stage with the upstart rival who came fractions of a percentage point from beating her earlier this week in the Iowa caucuses.

Eight years ago, Hillary Clinton was reeling after a sound beating in Iowa at the hands of Barack Obama, and a surprise win in New Hampshire gave her new life - at least temporarily. It was the start of what would be a drawn-out battle for the nomination that lasted for months.

Although Mrs Clinton's nationwide standing is stronger than it was in 2008, a defeat in New Hampshire could mark the start of another long nomination fight.

Consequently the former secretary of state is committing time and resources in New Hampshire to stave off such an embarrassment. Will the Granite State give her yet another boost? A strong performance in tonight's debate could be her best chance for a last-minute reversal of fortune.


He pointed to her vote as a senator to authorise the war in Iraq and the money her campaign receives from Wall Street as evidence.

But she hit back by saying she was a progressive politician who delivered results, and argued she had been fighting liberal causes for decades.

"Good ideas on paper are important, but you've got to be able to translate them into action," she declared.

The debate will be their first without the presence of the former governor of Maryland, Martin O'Malley, who quit the race on Monday night.

And it is the last before Tuesday's New Hampshire primary vote, the second state to make its choice.

Mr Sanders holds a big lead in polls in the state - one on Thursday put him 20 percentage points ahead.

Both Republican and Democratic parties will formally name their presidential candidates at conventions in July.

Americans will finally go to the polls to choose the new occupant of the White House in November.

Source: bbc.com

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04/Feb/2016

US election: Winners and losers after Iowa vote

The races for the Republican and Democratic presidential nominations are taking shape now that Iowans have had their say.

In some cases, the results confirmed conventional wisdom.

In others, it totally reshaped it.

Here are five things we learned after a remarkable evening in America's heartland.

1. Donald Trump isn't untouchable

Donald Trump

For the past few months it seemed as though the New York real estate mogul had become an unrivalled political savant. Every move he made, no matter how questionable, only strengthened his standing among conservative voters.

That bubble, however, has burst. Despite leading in the Iowa polls for the past several weeks, Mr Trump was bested by rival Ted Cruz on caucus night. In the end Mr Trump's much-heralded cadre of new voters didn't show up in the predicted numbers and Mr Cruz's formidable ground game, backed by strong evangelical support, carried the day.

This hardly means it's the end for Mr Trump. He may well hold onto his large lead in New Hampshire, a state where the conservative voters often embrace the renegade outsider, and find success in the Southern primaries that follow. The notion that the New Yorker could steamroll his way to the Republican nomination, however, has now been firmly dispelled.


2. Marco Rubio has given the establishment hope

Marco Rubio with his family

Florida Senator Marco Rubio's speech in Iowa on Monday night sounded more like a victory celebration than the concession speech of a third-place finisher. By finishing with 23% of the vote, however - a hair's breadth from second-place Trump - Mr Rubio shattered pre-caucus expectations.

Now he's well positioned to gain new support in New Hampshire, as voters looking to stop outsider candidates Cruz and Trump rally to his side.

This is the kind of Iowa result that candidates like New Jersey's Chris Christie, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Ohio Governor John Kasich were dreading. They have placed all their hopes in New Hampshire, and now they'll have to face off against a man who has the political wind at his back.

The polls for Mr Rubio in the coming states haven't looked particularly encouraging, but that could quickly change. And even if he suffers setbacks in the Southern states that follow New Hampshire, he likely will have the resources to wage a long fight for the nomination.


3. The Democrats are in a dogfight

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton

At this point it comes as little surprise that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton finished in a virtual tie in Iowa - polls had been indicating such a result was likely.

Nevertheless, the outcome marks a significant achievement for Mr Sanders, who was polling in single digits in Iowa six months ago.

Mrs Clinton is simply not going to be able to deliver the knockout punch to her rival the way she once had hoped. Instead, she faces a likely defeat in New Hampshire - where the Vermonter is strong - and then a protracted fight across the country that could last at least through March.

She still has the greater financial resources and a much more developed campaign infrastructure, but she had those advantages in Iowa as well. The electorate will change, however - becoming more moderate and more ethnically diverse. There is more hospitable ground ahead for Mrs Clinton - but a nomination victory, if it comes, will take time to realise.


4. Ted Cruz is built to last

Ted Cruz kissing his wife

If Mr Cruz had been defeated in Iowa it would have been a devastating blow to his campaign. He had raised expectations of a victory in the caucuses and heralded it as proof that he could build a coalition of evangelical, grass-roots Tea Party and libertarian voters.

As it turns out, that coalition exists - and it will likely re-emerge after New Hampshire, as South Carolina and other Southern states hold their primary contests.

Mr Cruz has nearly $20m in campaign cash on hand and supporting political committees with even greater resources. He's built a political machine that can operate through the entire primary calendar and, if necessary, wage a two-front battle with Mr Trump and an establishment-backed candidate like Mr Rubio.

In his victory speech on Monday night, Mr Cruz credited his grass-roots organisation - as he should - but he also gave Republicans a look at a more moderate, general-election version of himself. He'll need to convince his party that he is a candidate who can beat the Democrats in November. This was his first step toward making that pitch.


5. The field is about to thin dramatically

Martin O'Malley

Democrat Martin O'Malley is gone, as is Republican Mike Huckabee and - in all likelihood, Rick Santorum.

On Monday night rumours abounded that Ben Carson was poised to exit. Although his camp quickly denied this, the retired surgeon's 9% performance in a state that once viewed him as a front-runner likely means the end is near.

Carly Fiorina's bid is on life support, and Rand Paul - at one point thought to be a contender for the nomination - garnered less than 5%, a far cry from his father's 21% in Iowa just four years ago.

New Hampshire will likely cull the herd even further, threatening the future of candidates like Mr Bush, Mr Christie and Mr Kasich if they can't slow Mr Rubio's momentum.

The Republican race for the nomination isn't likely to end anytime soon, but there are about to be a lot fewer candidates on the debate stage in the coming weeks.

Source: bbc.com

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02/Feb/2016

Monies from external forces caused my defeat – Samia

The defeated Flag bearer aspirant of the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) Samia Yaaba Nkrumah is blaming monies from external forces that were pumped into the party’s recent Flag bearer contest as the cause of her defeat.

According to her, the unprecedented huge amount of monies that exchanged hands at the congress grounds was mind boggling and changed certain dynamics that saw her losing the elections.

Samia, the party’s immediate past chairperson who was tipped by political watchers as the favourite among the contestants lost to Ivor Kobina Greenstreet who is the former General Secretary of the party.

Greenstreet garnered 1288 votes as against closest contender Samia Nkrumah 579.

The two other contenders Bright Akwetey and Joseph Agyapong polled 42 and 83 votes respectively.

Speaking to Fiifi Banson on Anopa Kasapa on Kasapa 102.3 FM, Samia was emphatic that the victory of Mr Greenstreet couldn’t have come if the electorates were influenced monetarily.

“There was clear vote buying, the heavy money that obviously came from external forces into the system that day changed the dynamics. GHC 1,000 per delegate has never happened in the history of our party’s internal elections. Forces against the independence of the CPP came together to ensure my defeat. It is important that we are discussing this issue because it affects our national politics”

She has nonetheless expressed her desire to serve the CPP in any capacity to ensure that the party becomes more stronger to and wins the 2016 election.

Source: kasapafmonline.com

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02/Feb/2016

Laurent Gbagbo: Ivory Coast ex-leader denies war crimes

Ivory Coast's ex-President Laurent Gbagbo has denied charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, as his landmark trial began at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The charges relate to the country's civil conflict that erupted after Mr Gbagbo lost elections in 2010.

Prosecutors accuse him of orchestrating a "campaign of violence".

Mr Gbagbo, 70, and ex-militia leader Charles Ble Goude, 44, deny murder, rape, attempted murder and persecution.

The trial at the court in The Hague, in the Netherlands, could last three or four years.


Day one at the ICC: By Anna Holligan, BBC News, The Hague

Inside the courtroom, Laurent Gbagbo seemed unsteady, leaning on his desk as he pleaded not guilty. His co-accused, Charles Ble Goude, gave a more defiant response, telling the judges: "I do not recognise the charges."

Prosecutors said Mr Ble Goude had acted as a spin doctor. He called himself the "street general". Archive footage played in court showed him comparing himself to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's media adviser Alastair Campbell.

Chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda used her opening statement to focus on the victims. She spoke of one woman who was arrested during a peaceful march in Abidjan and detained for three days. During that time, Ms Bensouda said, the woman was gang-raped by police officers - the very people who were supposed to protect her.

Outside protesters playing on bongo drums complained of "victor's justice". To date none of President Alassane Ouattara's supporters have been charged by the ICC.


Mr Gbagbo sparked a crisis in Ivory Coast after he refused to step down following his loss to Alassane Ouattara in the 2010 presidential vote.

There were bloody clashes between rival forces over five months in 2010 and 2011.

Some 3,000 people were killed, with Mr Gbagbo basing himself in the presidential palace.

Gbagbo supporters at the ICC to back the former president, 28 Jan

Gbagbo supporters arrive at the ICC to back the former president at the start of the trial

Supporters of former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo watch his trial in Abidjan

He also continues to have support in Ivory Coast, like here in Abidjan

A composite image showing former Ivory Coast militia leader Charles Ble Goude and ex-President Laurent Gbagbo

Former militia leader Charles Ble Goude (L) is being tried alongside Mr Gbagbo on the same charges

He was arrested in April 2011 by forces loyal to President Ouattara, backed by troops from former colonial power France, and later that year was extradited to The Hague.

It will be the highest-profile trial yet for the ICC, which has only convicted two Congolese warlords since its establishment in 2002.

Reading out the charges, prosecutors cited cases including the alleged rape of 38 women at a pro-Ouattara rally and alleged killing of 10 people by shelling at a market.

The prosecution said it currently planned to bring forward 138 witnesses.

Chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said that when Mr Gbagbo "understood that the presidency was going to escape him... he began a campaign of violence orchestrated against those considered opponents".

"Nothing would be allowed to defeat Mr Gbagbo, and if politics failed, violence was seen as politics by other means," she said.

Presiding Judge Cuno Tarfusser said neither Ivory Coast nor its people were on trial, and that he would not allow the court to be used as a "political instrument".

Dozens of Gbagbo supporters gathered outside the ICC on Thursday to back the ex-president, sparking some scuffles with police.

"Our dream to see our president walk free starts today," said one supporter, Marius Boue. "He is truly a man of the Ivorian people."

Gbagbo: From professor to president

  • Born in 1945, Mr Gbagbo's first career was in academia as a history professor
  • He was jailed for two years in 1971 for "subversive" teaching
  • By the 1980s, he was heavily involved in trade union activities
  • After years in exile, he returned to Ivory Coast to attend the founding congress of the Ivorian Popular Front in 1988
  • Mr Gbagbo was one of the first to challenge Ivory Coast's founding President Felix Houphouet-Boigny, after multi-party politics were permitted
  • Became president with the Ivorian Popular Front in 2000

Campaign group Human Rights Watch warned that by only prosecuting one side of Ivory Coast's conflict the ICC gave a "perception of victor's justice".

But ahead of the trial Ms Bensouda said investigations into the pro-Ouattara camp had been "intensified".

Mr Gbagbo is the first ex-head of state to appear at the ICC, although Liberia's former President Charles Taylor also stood trial at The Hague.

Mr Taylor appeared before the Special Court for Sierra Leone and was given a 50-year jail sentence in 2012 on charges of aiding and abetting war crimes during the civil war in Sierra Leone, which neighbours Liberia.

The ICC has been accused by some in Africa of unfairly targeting the continent.

An attempt to prosecute Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta over post-election violence failed amid allegations witnesses had been intimidated.

Why did Ivory Coast descend into civil war?

The country had been divided since 2002, with rebels in control of the mainly Muslim north. They mostly supported Alassane Ouattara, a Muslim whose family originate in neighbouring Burkina Faso. So when Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept defeat to Mr Ouattara in the 2010 election, fighting soon broke out.

Was the conflict about religion?

Not really - more about identity. Mr Gbagbo and other southern, Christian politicians portrayed themselves as "true Ivorians", in contrast to northern Muslims, many of whom had foreign origins. Under Mr Gbagbo, many northerners were not allowed to vote, while Mr Ouattara was banned from standing for election until 2010. In western Ivory Coast, the conflict also took on ethnic lines.

What happened during the conflict?

In the worst cases, Ivorian security forces loyal to Mr Gbagbo shelled areas of the main city Abidjan, where many northerners lived. The ICC also accuses pro-Gbagbo militias of attacking members of ethnic groups believed to support Mr Ouattara. But pro-Ouattara forces were also accused of similar atrocities and these have not been prosecuted.


Source: bbc.com

 

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28/Jan/2016

Sudan's Bashir orders border with South Sudan to reopen

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir has ordered the opening of his country's border with South Sudan for the first time since the latter seceded in 2011.

The move comes days after reports that South Sudan had ordered its troops to withdraw a short way from the border.

Disputes over the border remain unresolved and the two countries fought over the Heglig oilfield in 2012.

South Sudan gained independence as the outcome of a 2005 agreement that ended a 22-year civil war.

A shattered dream

The city that vanished

Men of dishonour

Why does South Sudan matter to the US?

Mr Bashir has asked the Sudanese authorities to "take all measures" for the reopening, state news agency Suna reported.

Last week Mr Bashir also agreed to consider lowering the fees paid by South Sudan for the use of Sudanese infrastructure to export oil.

South Sudan contains most of the oilfields that belonged to Sudan before 2011.

The new country descended into civil war in 2013 when fighting broke out between forces loyal to Mr Kiir and his then deputy Riek Machar, splitting the country down ethnic lines.

Hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese have fled to neighbouring countries including Sudan.

Source: bbc.com

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28/Jan/2016

Laurent Gbagbo: Former Ivory Coast leader's trial to begin

The trial of former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo for crimes against humanity is set to begin at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

He faces charges relating to the country's civil conflict that erupted after he lost elections in 2010.

The trial aims to "uncover the truth", ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told reporters at The Hague.

Both Mr Gbagbo and his co-accused, former militia leader Charles Ble Goude, say they are innocent.

"The trial is an opportunity for reconciliation," Mr Gbagbo's lawyer Emmanuel Altit said. "It is for this reason that he awaits it with confidence."

A lawyer for Mr Ble Goude, who is accused of organising attacks on opposition supporters, described his client as a "man of peace".


A key test, by Anna Holligan, BBC News, the Hague

This may prove to be the most important trial in the ICC's history. The international court was established to end impunity and bring the most powerful leaders to justice. The first appearance of a former head of state is testament to the prosecutor's reach. And yet, despite casualties on both sides, not one of President Alassane Ouattara's supporters has been charged, leading to accusations of victor's justice.

During the pre-trial press briefing the victims' representative was asked how she could represent the victims when only half of those who suffered would have their voices heard.

This high-profile trial will test the ability of the ICC to obtain reliable evidence from a country in which the government has a political interest in securing a guilty verdict.

Can the suspects expect a fair trial if much of the evidence comes from their enemy?


Mr Gbagbo sparked a crisis in Ivory Coast after he refused to step down following his loss to Alassane Ouattara in the 2010 presidential vote.

Some 3,000 people were killed in the civil conflict that ensued, with Mr Gbagbo holing up in the presidential palace.

He was arrested in April 2011, by forces loyal to President Ouattara backed by French troops, and later in that year extradited to The Hague.

It will be the highest-profile trial yet for the ICC, which has only convicted two Congolese warlords since its establishment in 2002.

Mr Gbagbo is accused of four charges - murder, rape, attempted murder and persecution.

His supporters accuse the ICC of overlooking alleged crimes by Mr Gbagbo's opponents, many of whom are now in power.

But this was rejected by Ms Bensouda, who said investigations into the pro-Ouattara camp had been "intensified".

Gbagbo: From professor to president

  • Born in 1945, Mr Gbagbo's first career was in academia as a history professor
  • He was jailed for two years in 1971 for "subversive" teaching
  • By the 1980s, he was heavily involved in trade union activities
  • After years in exile, he returned to Ivory Coast to attend the founding congress of the Ivorian Popular Front in 1988
  • Mr Gbagbo was one of the first to challenge Ivory Coast's founding President Felix Houphouet-Boigny, after multi-party politics were permitted
  • Became president with the Ivorian Popular Front in 2000

Profile: Laurent Gbagbo


The ICC has been accused by some in Africa of unfairly targeting the continent.

An attempt to prosecute Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta over post-election violence failed amid allegations witnesses had been intimidated.

This week however the ICC authorised an investigation into possible war crimes committed during the 2008 conflict between Russia and Georgia - the first inquiry into a conflict outside Africa.

Source: bbc.com

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28/Jan/2016

MPs will soon improve using the tablets – Majority Chief whip

Majority Chief Whip in Parliament, Muntaka Mubarak has said despite the difficulty of the Members of Parliament using a newly installed digitised system for proceedings in the house, the MPs are likely to improve handling the device in the coming days.

There were scathing reports of major difficulties as the MPs tried their hands on the tablet computers fixed for usage in the chamber when parliament reconvened Tuesday, January 26.

Many have argued that this could frustrate the efforts being made to make the house paperless, as parliament complains the cost of stationery and printing is high offlate.

In an interaction with Accra-based Citi FM, the Asawase lawmaker said “ it’s not easy for the MPs to easily adopt the use of the device” the house nonetheless is pursuing it vigorously until they can be comfortable using it.

According to him, close to 80% were following it after most of them initially struggled to follow through the proceedings, which were conducted by the Speaker, Edward Doe Adjaho.

“Since the installation, I’ve been one of those who has been pushing for us to use these gadgets and I’m happy the speaker has accepted and is pursuing it vigorously. Our expectation is that out of the 275, we should be able to get about 150 having to use it the first day…but believe me by the time we got to public business, I could say close to 80% of the members in the chamber were following easily from the tab in front of us.”

Source: kasapafmonline.com

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27/Jan/2016

Ghanaian MPs fumble with tablet usage in Parliament

Some members of Ghana’s Parliament who clearly seemed handicapped in their ability to handle modern electronic gadgets, fumbled  helplessly on Tuesday in their attempt to access legislative materials which were installed on tablets for them.

Parliament in 2014 fixed digital devices on the desk of each MP to be used effectively this year.

The Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho while welcoming the MPs to the house after they resumed sittings on Tuesday from the Christmas and new year break, explained that the devices will enable Parliament to reduce the cost of printing parliamentary materials which usually takes a toll on their budget.

"You will recall that at the end of the last meeting last year, I informed you that in order to make optimum use of the legislative software installed in the computer rooms on your respective tables which enables you access to parliamentary papers, the table office will from today produce and circulate only limited copies of the Order Paper and votes and proceedings of the house. This measure is aimed at reducing to the barest minimum the cost of stationery and printing items,” he added.

After his welcome address, the MP for Sekondi, Papa Owusu Ankomah, drew the attention of the speaker to the challenges they encountered in operating the gadgets.

“I believe today being the first day, we are experiencing some challenges, I’ve tried and they say webpage is not available,” he said.

Speaking on Eyewitness News, Mubarak Mohammed Muntaka, Majority Chief Whip of Parliament, admitted MPs clearly needed to be schooled on the usage of the devices to help the work of parliament.


Source: citifmonline.com

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27/Jan/2016

NPP fundraising: We never donated cash – Kayayei Association

The National Association of Head Potters popularly known as Kayayei, has denied making a cash donation to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) during its recent fund–raising event at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi – Ashanti Region.

According to the association’s Ashanti Regional Secretary Dauda Ibrahim, the group is apolitical; hence finds it mischievous for anybody to use its name for political gains.

The largest opposition NPP, held its first national fundraising programme a fortnight ago where an undisclosed amount of money was realized. It was attended by the party’s flagbearer, Nana Akufo-Addo and his running mate, Dr. Bawumia.

Among the highlights of activities that caught the attention of the media and raised eyebrows among section of the public was the announcement that some “kayayes” in the Ashanti Region; the stronghold of the opposition group, contributed GHc5, 000 to support the NPP’s campaign to unseat the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC).

A lady known Adiza Zongo Pioneer, who claims to be the National President of the National Association of Head Potters aka Kayayei made the donation on behalf of the group.

Speaking to Fiiifi Banson on Kasapa FM Monday, the Ashanti Regional Secretary Dauda Ibrahim denied that Adiza Zongo Pioneer and further stated that the association could not have donated that huge amount of money as the group is not that resourceful.

He noted that this claim of a donation by the Kayayei Association to a political party has the tendency of negatively affecting the financial assistance the group gets from donor institutions.

“We don’t have that kind of money that is being reported we donated to the NPP. It is well known that we Kayayes are vulnerable and poor. We are sometimes funded by NGO’s and other faith based organizations; and now our benefactors will hear that a whopping amount of GHC 5,000 has been donated to a political party. We are neutral…not affiliated to any political party. What signals are we sending to the public, will we continue to have such financial support after this false news out there” He asked?

But Adiza Zongo Pioneer insisted that she was the President of the National Association of Head Potters and that the group willingly donated that amount to the NPP because the current government had taken them for a ride for far too long a time.

She claimed that Dauda Ibrahim, has come up to discredit her because he was being motivated by some bigwigs in the ruling party to muddy the waters.

Source: kasapafmonline.com

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27/Jan/2016

NDC to suspend Klottey Korle MP Nii Armah Ashietey

Kasapafmonline.com is reliably informed that the National Council of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) is set to suspend the party’s Member of Parliament for Klottey Korle Nii Armah Ashietey for engaging in acts that are causing tension and division in the constituency.

The NDC is of the view that the veteran politician’s conduct if not immediately checked, could cause the party’s defeat in the upcoming November Parliamentary elections.

Nii Armah Ashietey who is a two term MP, and another member Nii John Coleman have filed a joint suit at an Accra High Court against the Electoral Commission and the Parliamentary Candidate for the area, Dr Zanetor Agyeman Rawlings, challenging the latter’s legitimacy to contest for a parliamentary seat under the 1992 constitution.

The two who contested the NDC’s constituency Parliamentary election and lost to Dr Zanetor on November 21, 2015, are of view that her election was unlawful as she is not a registered voter in the National Voters register.

The case is expected to be heard on Friday January 29.

An Accra High Court had earlier on Friday January 15 dismissed a similar suit against Dr Zanetor Agyeman Rawlings clearing her to contest the upcoming November Parliamentary election.

Some aggrieved members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and supporters of Nii Armah Ashietey had sued Zanetor challenging her election.

They prayed the court to nullify her election as she was not qualified to be elected as Parliamentary Candidate of the party because she is not a registered voter in Ghana.However the court dismissed the case.

When the party thought Klottey Korle was eventually going to see peace as finality had been brought to the case, the incumbent MP has quickly ran to court also challenging Dr Zanetor’s eligibility.

The NDC hierarchy Kasapafmonline.com understands has taken a serious view of Nii Armah Ashietey’s conduct which is causing disunity among party members in the area, and has considered taking punitive measures against the ‘troublesome’ MP.

The Party is also not happy that the MP failed to exhaust the party’s laid down internal mechanism to address such issues before he proceeded to court.

The ruling party post its Parliamentary primaries in November 21, has warned that it will not hesitate to punish any member whose waywardness has a tendency of causing the NDC’s electoral defeat.

Source: kasapafmonline.com

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27/Jan/2016

No one should be complacent – British High Commissioner on Gitmo saga

The British High Commissioner to Ghana, Jon Benjamin has cautioned that even though Ghana’s resolve in sheltering the two former detainees from Guantanamo bay is purely based on bilateral relations with its counterpart, the Ghanaian government should not be complacent on the security threats to its decision.

“…It only takes very few people to create complete carnage…so  no one should be complacent

“… We should be very vigilant because it’s a real threat to us all,” Benjamin told Jay Foley and Jeremie on the LBC Morning Show on Live 91.9 FM Thursday.

He said lessons should be drawn from the incident in Burkina Faso that led to the killing of some 29 people, insisting that austere measures must be taken by the Ghanaian government to forestall any untoward event in relation to the two Yemeni guests.

The opposition party’s leader, Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo Tuesday told a large crowd of party faithful in Wa that President Mahama acted in breach of Section 35 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2008, (Act 762).

That aside, he said the President’s decision not to consult the relevant stakeholders concerning the stay of the two in Ghana, has resulted in heightened levels of fear amongst the citizenry.

A lot of Civil Society Organizations and Faith Based Organisations in Ghana have waded into the unpopular conversation demanding that government return the ex-Gitmo detainees to their home country, as this they fear could threaten the security of the country.

However, speaking on Live 91.9 FM Thursday ,the British High Commissioner said the British government will remain completely neutral on the issue, saying he won’t be allowed to be tricked into making arguments that could have dire consequences on the volatile issue on the ground.

“This is essentially a bilateral issue between US, and Ghana. Here we are in January, the election here is 7th November , we are already in election season in some sense. What I won’t be doing is allowing anyone to drag us to make party political points on either side.”

Source: kasapafmonline.com

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21/Jan/2016

Akufo-Addo not fit to talk about Guantanamo detainees – Gov’t

The Government of the Republic of Ghana has rebuffed claims by the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) that its acceptance of the Guantanamo Bay cleared terrorists who are currently residing in Ghana is a “sad example of Mahama’s failure of leadership”.

The opposition party’s leader, Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo Tuesday told a large crowd of party faithful in Wa that President Mahama acted in breach of Section 35 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2008, (Act 762).

That aside, he said the President’s decision not to consult the relevant stakeholders in the country to assuage the fears of Ghanaians, has resulted in heightened levels of fear amongst the citizenry.

“Had President Mahama done the needed consultations the Ghanaian people may well have been spared the disquieting anxiety, in this time of justifiably heightened fear of global terrorism that we are being led by a President who, ostensibly in the name of compassion, prefers to ignore laws designed to defend the most sensitive area of all, our nation’s security.”

The NPP Presidential candidate was delivering a tribute in honour of the late Alhaji Alhassan Bin Salih.

But the Minister of Communications, Edward K. Omane Boamah in a statement released in Accra Wednesday said the opposition leader’s claims lacked basis and is even not fit to talk about the issue at stake.

Besides, he said the Anti-Terrorism Act the opposition leader quoted to buttress his argument in criticizing President Mahama for accepting the Gitmo cleared terrorists who are undergoing rehabilitation in Ghana is a complete misrepresentation of the facts.

“For the avoidance of doubt, Government wishes to place on record that at all times it has acted strictly within the law. Any claims, therefore, by Mr Akufo-Addo and his assigns to the contrary are false and a complete misinterpretation of the Anti-Terrorism Act (Act 762).”

“By section 35(1) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2008 (Act 762), the Director of Immigration or an officer authorised by him shall not grant a person entry into the country if there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the person: a) Is involved in the commission of a terrorist act, b) Will be involved in a terrorist act, or, c) Has been involved in a terrorist act”.

“We note that Mr Akufo Addo did not provide any proof of the “reasonable grounds” on which he claims the two ex-detainees should have been denied entry into Ghana. It would appear that he merely channelled claims in sections of the media- that an allegedly leaked 2007 report classifies the two detainees as “terrorists”,” the statement in part read.

It added “Furthermore, we wish to draw attention to a 2010 report of an Executive Order Task Force (EOTF) prepared on the basis of a unanimous agreement of six US government agencies which repudiates claims made in earlier reports.”

“We wish to stress that the EOTF’s 2010 interagency assessment supersedes any prior assessment and reflects the US Government’s most comprehensive and authoritative view of each Guantanamo detainee and does not classify the two individuals as “terrorists”.”

“It is also a matter of fact that no formal process(es) has/have been used to bring charges of terrorism against the two individuals. Neither have they been found guilty of any terrorism-related offences by any court of competent jurisdiction.”

It said Akufo-Addo’s stance on the Gitmo detainees defeats his defence of human rights, a track record of which the opposition leader is well known of.

Source: kasapafmonline.com

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21/Jan/2016

Court orders NPP Klottey Korle Parliamentary primary re-run

The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) is expected to soon hold a re-run of Parliamentary primary for the Klottey Korle constituency, after an Accra High Court on Tuesday dismissed an application filed by the disputed Parliamentary Candidate, Nii Noi Nortey, which sought to set aside a default judgment.

Counsel for the petitioners in the 2012 Presidential petition, Phillip Addison, who was a defeated aspirant in the primary, sued the NPP at the High Court, demanding annulment of the results.

Mr. Addison and another, Nii Adjei Tawiah insisted the election on August 2 which was won by Valentino Nii Noi Nortey was illegal.

According to them, more than half of the delegates were disenfranchised, and that the organization of the election was in violation of the tenets of democratic principles that are supposed to govern the elections.

They also claimed there was no accreditation and that the register that was used was not certified.

The elections they said violated article 55 of the New Patriotic Party’s constitution. consequently they asked the court to declare that the election was an illegality.

The NPP’s late entry of appearance in the case resulted in the court awarding default judgment against the party late last year. But Noi Noi Nortey later filed to join the case and wanted the judgment set aside.

The party however then took steps to settle the matter when the NPP through its counsel Dr Opoku Adusei asked for the impasse to be settled using the parties internal mechanisms. The court subsequently granted the request.

However in an attempt to settle the matter at a National Executive Council (NEC) meeting, the party proposed a re-run of the election, which Valentino Nii Noi Nortey strongly objected to, a development which left the party with no option than to wash its hands from the case and allow the court to determine which way to go.

When the case was called today (Tuesday) the Presiding Judge Patience Mills Tetteh in ruling on the matter dismissed Nii Noi Nortey application of setting the judgment aside, paving the way for a re-run of the election which promises to be keenly contested.

Source: kasapafmonline.com

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21/Jan/2016

Sammy Crabbe sues NPP for wrongfully suspending him

The suspended 2nd National Vice-Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Sammy Crabbe, has filed a suit against the elephant family at the High Court, seeking among other things a relief that the court overturns the decision and reinstate him.

The aggrieved party stalwart has described his suspension by the Disciplinary Committee of the Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition as illegal since the action infringes on the party’s constitution.

He therefore, wants the Human Rights Division of the High Court to annul the decision of the party which was taken on December 10, 2015, after receiving petitions from two party faithful over his conduct.

The suit, which was filed by Counsel of the Plaintiff, Ekow S. Ampah Korsah argued that the entire process leading to the suspension of Mr. Crabbe was fraught with illegalities and therefore wants the court to intervene in the matter.

Counsel Korsah buttressed his claim with Article 10 of the NPP Constitution which sets the tone for the removal and suspension of officers from the level of constituency, regional and national officers.

Article 10 of the NPP constitution states that: 1 (a) Whenever forty percent (40%) of the delegates that elect Constituency, Regional or National Officers as the case may be, give written notice to the Constituency, Regional or National Executives as the case may be, of the demand for the removal of any elected officer the Executive Committee which receives such notice shall within one (1) week of receipt of the notice circulate such notice to all delegates affected.

(b) The petition for the removal of an officer shall be on stated grounds, a copy of which shall be given to the affected officer who shall be given the opportunity to be heard by a body constituted by the Executive Committee.

2. Within one (1) month of the circulation of such notice referred to in clause (1), the said Executive Committee shall summon an Extraordinary Delegates Conference to deliberate and decide on the matter.

3. In the case of the demand for the removal of any Member of the Constituency Executive Committee, the written notice shall be given to the Regional Executive Committee. With respect to the removal of Regional Officers, the written notice shall be submitted to the National Executive Committee while in the case of the removal of National Executive Officers, the written notice shall be to the National Council.

4. Upon receipt of the written notice, the Constituency, Regional, National Executive Committee or National Council as the case may be, may suspend the officer from acting in his or her office pending the holding of the Emergency Delegates Conference.

According to the statement of claim, it is based on the above stated provision that the Plaintiff feels that he had been handed a raw deal, hence, the court action for a review.

Counsel further argued that since there was no written notice for the suspension of Mr. Crabbe from office, in consonance with Article 10(4) of the NPP Constitution, the DC lacked jurisdiction to have taken a decision over the matter.

It added that the National Executive Committee (NEC) also lacked the jurisdiction to have upheld the indefinite suspension decision by the Disciplinary Committee.

The motion for hearing, Kasapafmonine.com learnt, will be moved on January 27, 2016.

Source: Kasapafmonine.com

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21/Jan/2016

Gitmo Saga: A sad example of Mahama’s failure of leadership – Akufo-Addo

The 2016 presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has described the ongoing saga involving the arrival into Ghana of two Guantanamo Bay detainees as yet another example of the failure of leadership on the part of President Mahama.

According to Nana Akufo-Addo, the law, as contained in Section 35 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2008, (Act 762), prohibits the transaction into which President Mahama has entered with the United States government. In addition to this, the President’s decision not to consult the relevant stakeholders in the country, so as to assuage the fears of Ghanaians, has resulted in heightened levels of fear amongst Ghanaians.

Had President Mahama done the needed consultations, Nana Akufo-Addo noted that the “Ghanaian people may well have been spared the disquieting anxiety, in this time of justifiably heightened fear of global terrorism, that we are being led by a President who, ostensibly in the name of compassion, prefers to ignore laws designed to defend the most sensitive area of all, our nation’s security.”

The NPP flagbearer made this known when he delivered a tribute in honour of the late Alhaji Alhassan Bin Salih in Wa, at an event of homage held on Tuesday, January 19, 2016.

According to the NPP flagbearer, President Mahama’s failure in showing leadership in this matter “is a sad example of his belief that he is answerable to no one, not even to the laws of the Republic, like s.35 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (Act 760), which, as President, he is sworn to uphold.”

Section 35 (1) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2008, (Act 762), states that “The Director of Immigration or an officer authorised by the Director shall not grant an endorsement or authority to permit a person to enter this country if there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the person is, will or has been involved in the commission of a terrorist act.”

“Since he claims that only Presidents Rawlings and Kufuor have the right to criticize him, I would have wished that he had found it worthy to consult both of our two former national leaders before he took this grave decision that has consequences for us all,” he said.

To this end, Nana Akufo-Addo admonished all Ghanaians, regardless of their political or religious affiliations, to “refrain from introducing religious divisions into the debate, for the issue at stake is not a religious one.”

Source: kasapafmonline.com

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19/Jan/2016

Mahama sacks Ajet-Nasam, two others as High Court Judges

Flamboyant Judge, Ajet-Nasam, together with Justice Ernest Obimpeh, have been sacked by President John Mahama as Justices of the High Court on grounds of stated misbehaviour.

The President has also directed His Lordship Justice Ringo Cass Akurugu Azumah to vacate his post on grounds of stated incompetence and misbehaviour.

A statement signed by the Judicial Secretary, Justice Alex B. Poku-Acheampong and released in Accra Tuesday said the decision by the President follows his acceptance of the recommendations of a Five-Member Impeachment Committee that investigated their conduct in accordance with Article 146 of the 1992 Constitution.

The Committee was chaired by a Justice of the Supreme Court.

The two Justices are among the High Court Judges against whom Tiger Eye PI submitted a petition for their removal from office on grounds of stated misbehaviour.

In August last year, the Chief Justice, Her Ladyship Justice Georgina Theodora Wood received two petitions from Tiger Eye PI, an investigative firm led by ace journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas – one was in respect of twelve (12) High Court Judges while the other was on the twenty-two (22) Circuit Court Judges and Magistrates.

The petition against the High Court Judges requested the President to initiate impeachment proceedings against them in accordance with Article 146 of the Constitution.

In the case of Justice Ringo Cass Akurugu Azumah, the statement in part said several complaints of absenteeism were filed against him by users of the court and a leading legal firm.

Further to that, a formal petition was submitted to the Chief Justice on January 8, 2015, complaining that the Judge persistently absented himself from court.

According to the Judicial Secretary, the Chief Justice on receiving the complaints asked Justice R. C. Azumah to appear before a Disciplinary Committee of the Judicial Council for Superior Court Judges.

“The Committee found his conduct to be in breach of his Judicial Oath and office, in continuously failing to sit without permission or stated reason. On receipt of the report of the Disciplinary Committee, the Judicial Council decided that Justice Azumah should be impeached. The Council, therefore, submitted a petition to His Excellency the President to that effect”, the statement in part read.

According to the Statement, President Mahama on receiving the petition and in line with Article 146 (3) requested the Chief Justice to set up a Committee to investigate the matter pursuant to Article 146 (4) of the constitution.

“The Committee’s recommendations have been accepted by the President in accordance with Article 146 (9) of the constitution, thus the removal from office as a Justice of the High Court”.

Justice Azumah, has therefore, been directed to hand over his bungalow and all official properties in his possession including the official Government vehicle, Dockets and Record Books to the Judicial Secretary forthwith.

Source: kasapafmonline.com

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19/Jan/2016

Nana Addo would’ve rejected ex-Gitmo detainees – Akomea

Communications Director of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Akomea, says the party’s flagbearer, Nana Akufo-Addo, would have turned down a request by the United States government for Ghana to host two former detainees of Guantanamo Bay in the country if he were in power. According to Akomea, former president Kufuor would also have done same in the same position. “The government of Kufuor wouldn’t have taken these people in at all in the first place.

Government of Nana Akufo-Addo would not have taken them in. His reason will be the same reason that Ghanaians have given. If America won’t, why do we want to take the things America doesn’t want. Are we a dumping ground?” he said on the Point Blank segment on Eyewitness News. A decision by the Mahama-led government to host two supposed terrorists from America, has been widely criticized despite assurances by the US government that the two pose no risk to Ghana. 

The NPP subsequently issued a statement to condemn the decision. When the sit-in host of Eyewitness News, Umaru Sanda, probed further and questioned why Nana Addo has been silent on the matter, Nana Akomea  said the flagbearer is solidly behind the statement issued by the party. He insisted that “do you think the NPP would issue a statement if the flagbearer disagrees with it? It’s not going to happen. How can the party issue a statement that he doesn’t agree with.? We will not issue a statement that he is against it. He may still speak but essentially what the party has said is what he stands by. The party has spoken,” he added. 

Source: citifmonline.com

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16/Jan/2016

Give Mahama 90% in corruption fight; he’s better than Kufuor – Agalga

Deputy Minister of Interior, James Agalga, says President John Mahama must be commended for his commitment towards the fight against corruption in Ghana. President Mahama  has been heavily criticized following the numerous corruption scandals recorded in his administration. His critics say he has been lackadaisical in his approach in dealing with the culprits.

These include alleged corruption deals in the GYEEDA contract, Subah Contract, embezzlement at the National Service Secretariat, the Woyome Judgement debt payment among others, and the recent use of Ghc 3.6 million of Ghana’s oil revenue to brand buses. Arguing his point on Citi FM’s news analysis and current affairs programme, ‘The Big Issue’, the Deputy Minister said President Mahama’s fight against the canker cannot be compared to what was done under the erstwhile Kufuor administration. “I think we should score the President high marks, maybe 90 percent. I have stated before that when it comes to President Mahama’s resolve to fight corruption, it is not comparable to what we saw under the eight years administration of Kufuor.”

“You have a President [Mahama] who appears before journalists of this country and says that I have assumed the mantle of leadership in this country and I have said that we will not shield anybody from corrupt practices. He gives you numerous examples of how he has tackled the issue of corruption. Besides, with the issue of the National Service Secretariat scandal, he personally authorized the BNI to commence investigations; hey have concluded with their investigations and the outcome is that the Boss and a lot of his lieutenants were sacked and are now facing trial. How else could a President fight corruption,” he argued.

Citing examples to support his claim that former President Kufuor’s fight against corruption was weak, Agalga  said Kufuor’s response to questions at a similar press conference on his resolve to fight corruption during his tenure, was nothing to write home about. “You have the same President Kufuor who spoke on corruption at a similar conference, we all saw how President Kufuor responded to the issues. It was at the castle gardens or so where he said that corruption was as old as Adam and Eve and that if he President Kufuor was to face the issue head-on his government will collapse.”

Source: citifmonline.com

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16/Jan/2016

Ex Gitmo saga: Nana Addo likely to speak on it – Nana Akomea

The Flagbearer of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is likely to wade into the unpopular conversations regarding the resettlement of the two ex-Gitmo detainees in Ghana shortly.

The ruling National Democratic Congress(NDC) has challenged the largest opposition Leader,Nana Akufo Addo, to make his position known to Ghanaians on the decision by government.

According to Communications Director of the party, Solomon Nkansah, it is important that Nana Addo who wants to become President is heard on what decision he would have taken if he were to be confronted with the situation upon assuming power.

However, the Communications Director of the NPP, Nana Akomea in an interview with Accra-based Citi FM said “it’s an evolving issue; he may still speak but what the party has spoken has his consent.”

“Do you think the NPP will issue a statement if the flagbearer disagrees with it. How can the party issue a statement that he’s against?” he questioned.

He said the general citizenry are unhappy about what he described as the reckless decision taken by the government without recourse to rigorous consultations on the security implications of such move.

He argued that even some notable elements in the NDC-fold have come out very hard on the government for agreeing to the plea by the US government, when they themselves could not accept them on their own soil.

Meanwhile, the  United States Embassy in Accra has said there are no options for  Ghana to return the two back to them , insisting that it’s a done deal for the Yemeni nationals staying at least two years in Ghana.

Source: Kasapafmonline.com

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16/Jan/2016

I attract votes; let me lead you – Samia to CPP members

A flagbearer aspirant of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), Samia Yaba Nkrumah, is urging members of the party to choose her to lead the party in the November elections.

According to Samia, her track record of leadership in the party sets her apart from her competitors.

She is in the race with a former General Secretary of the party, Ivor Greenstreet, private legal practitioner and one-time presidential aspirant hopeful, Bright Akwetey and Joseph Agyapong.

Speaking to Citi News after her vetting at the party’s headquarters in Accra, the former Chairperson said she is the CPP’s best bet for victory in the coming election.

“I’ve led successful campaigns, on two occasions. I was central to the campaign for us to win our seat, first in Jomoro and then in Kumbumgu and even in Talensi I demonstrated that we can work on the ground very well smoothly with the PNC. So I think my track record as somebody who is capable of attracting votes is there for everyone to see.”

Meanwhile, another aspirant for the flagbearership slot, Joseph Agyepong, who is not very well known, believes he has the right vision to change the fortunes of the party

“Everybody is looking for a leader that has a vision and direction, a leader that is taking the party and nation into its destination. We have destination to go, Ghana has it and the party CPP also has it. So the question here is which candidate is ready to take this party into its destination of winning election? It’s only Joseph Agyepong who can do that. That is why the delegates are going to choose me to lead this party,” he added.

 

Source: citifmonline.com

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16/Jan/2016

Government’s ‘mistakes’ excite me – Nana Akomea

The New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) Director of Communications, Nana Akomea, says he is excited by what he calls the numerous mistakes being committed by the incumbent National Democratic Congress (NDC) government.

Speaking in an interview on Eyewitness News, he said, “I am excited that the government is committing mistakes. Politically, I know that the government is going to commit so many mistakes and when I see that the government is committing these mistakes, it excites me,” he added.

He however expressed regret that the mistakes on the part of government ultimately affects the citizens saying, “I am sad that the mistakes affect Ghanaians adversely.”

Mr .Akomea in mentioning one of the government’s perceived mistakes, cited the decision to accept two Yemeni former detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison.

According to him, “Nobody is happy, even the NDC.”

He noted that some senior members in the NDC have disagreed with aspects of the process with Fritz Baffour, the NDC MP for Ablekuma South, coming out to criticize government for the unprofessional manner in which it broke the news to Ghanaians.

“Recently you heard a very senior member of the NDC… come out very hard on the government. But that’s just a tip of the iceberg. What it means is that, there are several other senior members of the NDC who cannot speak out so even the NDC is not happy.”


Source: citifmonline.com

The New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) Director of Communications, Nana Akomea, says he is excited by what he calls the numerous mistakes being committed by the incumbent National Democratic Congress (NDC) government.

Speaking in an interview on Eyewitness News, he said, “I am excited that the government is committing mistakes. Politically, I know that the government is going to commit so many mistakes and when I see that the government is committing these mistakes, it excites me,” he added.

- See more at: http://citifmonline.com/2016/01/16/governments-mistakes-excite-me-nana-akomea/#sthash.2GRLTGYM.jSBqqZDA.dpuf
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16/Jan/2016

Republican debate winners and losers

With just over two weeks before the Iowa caucuses, the campaign for the Republican nomination is reaching its climax. If Thursday night's debate is any indication, it's going to become a brawl.

One candidate - Ohio Governor John Kasich - tried to stay above the fray and focus on the economy. Another - retired surgeon Ben Carson - joked about his sleepy reputation and then did nothing to dispel it.

The rest, however, engaged in a raucous scrum that most closely resembled a wrestling battle royale, with a crowded ring and fights breaking out at every turn.

And if there's one big-takeaway from this sixth Republican contest, it's that Donald Trump is improving as a debater - and that should be a big concern for the Republican establishment.

Here are the five most noteworthy face-offs - and who ended up on top.

Cruz's Canadian birth

Those sweet summer days of the Cruz-Trump "bromance" seem like so long ago. Instead, the exchanges between the New York frontrunner and the man who has supplanted him in Iowa polls were the marquee matchup of the debate.

Cruz opened by defending himself against Trump's recent insinuations that his Canadian birthplace disqualified him from seeking the presidency, noting that Trump himself had said there was "no issue there". Now, he said, Trump was changing his tune because he feels threatened.

"I recognise that Donald is dismayed that his poll numbers are falling in Iowa," he said. "But the facts and the law here are really quite clear. Under longstanding US law, the child of a US citizen born abroad is a natural-born citizen." He added that there are plenty of "birther" conspiracy theories - and some might even think Trump can't run for president because his mother was born in Scotland.

"There is a big overhang," Trump shot back. "There's a big question mark on your head. And you can't do that to the party."

Left unstated was the irony of Trump, the iconoclast, worrying about the fate of a Republican Party that he has turned on its head.

Advantage: Marco Rubio. "I hate to interrupt this episode of Court TV," the Florida senator said to laughs as he interjected himself into the back-and-forth between Cruz and Trump. Cruz likely won this fight with Trump on points, but any time he spends explaining his Canadian birth is a loss for him.

Could a Canadian be US president?

Trump's 'New York values'

Round two of the Trump-Cruz battle came over Cruz's allegation that Trump embodied the liberal values of his New York City home.

"Everyone understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal or pro-abortion or pro-gay-marriage [and] focus around money and the media," Cruz said, concluding that "not a lot of conservatives come out of Manhattan".

After telling Cruz that noted conservative thinker William F Buckley was from Manhattan, Trump then launched into a passionate defence of his home town, citing its recovery from the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.

"We rebuilt downtown Manhattan, and everybody in the world watched and everybody in the world loved New York and loved New Yorkers," Trump said. "And I have to tell you, that was a very insulting statement that Ted made."

Advantage: Trump. The New York real-estate mogul may not be a polished politician, but he can play the 9/11 card with the best of them. As he spoke of the bravery following the attacks, the audience cheered - and Cruz was left applauding along with them.

Christie as Obama-lite

Republican presidential candidate, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks during the Fox Business Network Republican presidential debate at the North Charleston Coliseum, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016

One of the more interesting side battles of the night came when Rubio went after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for being too liberal and backing Obama's appointment of left-leaning judge Sonia Sotomayor to the US Supreme Court.

"Unfortunately, Governor Christie has endorsed many of the ideas that Barack Obama supports, whether it is Common Core [education reform] or gun control or the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor or the donation he made to Planned Parenthood," he said. "Our next president, and our Republican nominee cannot be someone who supports those positions."

Since Rubio's team has been airing television adverts attacking Christie along similar lines, he was clearly ready with a response, repeating a line Rubio used in an earlier debate when former Florida Governor Jeb Bush attacked him.

"I stood on the stage and watched Marco rather indignantly look at Governor Bush and say, someone told you that, because we're running for the same office, that criticising me will get you to that office," he said. "It appears that the same someone who has been whispering in old Marco's ear too."

He went on to deny all the accusations and pivot to attacking Rubio for being a senator who is all talk with no accountability.

Advantage: Christie - for now. He successfully parried Rubio's attack, but fact-checkers are already noting that the New Jersey governor did, in fact, support Ms Sotomayor's nomination and signed into law some tighter gun restrictions.

Trump's Muslim ban

Republican presidential candidate and former Governor Jeb Bush speaks at the Fox Business Network Republican presidential candidates debate in North Charleston, South Carolina, January 14, 2016.

Just as in December's debate in Las Vegas, Trump stood by his call to close the US borders to all Muslims.

"We have a serious problem," he said. "And we can't be the stupid country any more. We're laughed at all over the world."

Bush chimed in with what can only be called a tepid rebuke. "I hope you reconsider this, because this policy is a policy that makes it impossible to build the coalition necessary to take out [the so-called Islamic State]," he said.

Advantage: Trump. Bush was the only candidate to challenge Trump at all on his proposal. The rest offered varying degrees of understanding while offering less sweeping alternatives. If Trump is going to be confronted on the topic, it will take more than Bush's calls to "reconsider".

Rubio's immigration reform

Marco Rubio

While the Cruz-Trump showdowns will likely steal the headlines tomorrow, one of the fiercest fights took place at the tail end of the debate on the issue of immigration reform.

In 2013 Rubio was part of a bipartisan team of senators who attempted to pass a law that would streamline US immigration policy and address the large number of undocumented workers already in the country. The effort has since become largely unpopular in the grass-roots conservative circles, and Rubio was asked by debate moderator Neil Cavuto why he was "so interested in opening up borders to foreigners".

Rubio replied that he had changed his position because, thanks to "a radical jihadist group", immigration had become a national security issue.

"The entire system of legal immigration must now be re-examined for security first and foremost," he said.

Cruz, who has repeatedly blasted Rubio on the issue, went on the attack, noting that "radical Islamic terrorism was not invented 24 months ago".

Rubio shot back that Cruz had supported expanding the number of US visas in the past and that he has a history of changing his positions on immigration as well as trade, defence spending and ethanol subsidies - an issue closely followed by many in corn-growing Iowa.

"I appreciate you're dumping your opposition research folder on the debate stage," Cruz replied, and then tried to tear into Rubio on immigration reform again before being cut off by the moderator.

Advantage: Cruz. Rubio launched a fierce counterattack, but he can't cover the fact that he his position on immigration just a few years ago is now decidedly out of step with where his party currently is.

Source: bbc.com

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15/Jan/2016

Court Throws Out Case Against Zanetor Rawlings

An Accra High Court has dismissed a case brought by some members of the NDC in Klottey Korle constituency seeking to annul the results of the parliamentary primaries of the NDC in the area.

The three; Joseph Narku Botchway, Jacob Amin and Reverend Michael Kwabena Nii Adjei Sowah went to court to challenge the eligibility of the Parliamentary candidate, Zanetor Rawlings who they allege is not a registered voter.

According to the court, the plaintiff did not demonstrate in any way how their rights had been violated or will be violated.

The court also indicated in the ruling that the action of the plaintiffs were an abuse of the court.

The ruling of the court followed an application by Lawyers of Dr. Zanetor Rawlings praying the court to strike out the case brought by the disgruntled members.

The plaintiffs were praying the court to compel the EC to provide the following answers:

1. Whether or not Dr. Zanetor Agyemang Rawlings is a registered voter.

2. If so, when was the name entered on the National Biometric Voters’ Register.

3. The name of the Registration Officer.

4. The date of registration.

5. The time on which the name was entered on the roll as shown on the printout.

6. The registration centre name.

7. The registration code.

8. The constituency within which the registration took place.

9. The Voter’s Identify Card number of Dr. Zanetor Agyemang Rawlings.

10. Biometric fingerprint.

11. The type of identification document used in the registration process.

12. Copies of Form 1C that captured the data.

13. Copies of Voter Register Form 1A

14. Whether Dr. Zanetor Agyemang Rawlings’ name has been publicly exhibited on any provisional Voters’ Register.

15. If so, when?

16. Please furnish the Court with the said Voters’ Register.

17. If the registration was during the limited registration period in 2014, a copy of the voter registration identification guarantee form.

18. Copies of the registration team details Form 2A.

19. Please furnish the Court with the final Biometric Voters’ Register showing Dr. Zanetor Agyemang Rawlings’ name.

Source: citifmonline.com

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15/Jan/2016

It would be a travesty if suit against me wasn't dismissed- Zanetor Rawlings

An Accra Fast Track High Court has dismissed a case against NDC parliamentary candidate in the Korle Klottey constituency, Zanetor Rawlings.
The court said the NDC members, Reverend Michael Kwabena Nii Adjei Sowah, Joseph Narku Botchway, Jacob Amin were not convincing in their claim that their rights had been violated or will be violated if she represents the ruling party.


They had gone to court to remove the daughter of former President arguing she was not a registered voter and therefore cannot be voted for. They also sued her, the NDC and the Electoral Commission on 13 December 2015 for looking on while she emerged winner of the parliamentary primaries.

In the opinion of the petitioners, Dr Zanetor Rawlings is not a registered voter because her name is neither in the national biometric register compiled in 2012, nor is her name in the biometric register of the governing National Democratic Congress.


The judge Patience Mills Tetteh said the suit was an 'afterthought" because the disgruntled NDC members had all the opportunity to challenge her candidature before the elections. She also described the suit a "waste of resources" because the party has internal mechanisms to address grievances. An option which the court believes was not maximised. The latest ruling clears the hurdle for a parliamentary contest in November with main rivals the NPP candidate, Nii Noi Nortey whose candidature is also being internally challenged.

"It would have been a travesty of justice" if the plaintifs had had their way in court, a jubilant NDC candidate told the media. Zanetor announced her second victory on facebook, saying 'nothing can stop forward march'.

 

Source: myjoyonline.com

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15/Jan/2016

Stop disturbing the EC and go back to work – Political Scientist tells NPP

The NPP must stop disturbing the Electoral Commission and its Chairperson and go back to work, a Political Scientist at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Dr Samuel Adu Gyamfi has advised.

According to him, it is totally unnecessary for the party to persist in attacking the integrity of the EC and its Boss, but must rather focus its attention and energies at improving its electoral fortunes as the NPP is likely to win this year’s elections, however without a Parliamentary majority.

The largest opposition Party has in the past several months led the campaign for a new voters register after it claimed that the party’s investigations had established over 76,000 Togolese registered on the electoral roll making it not credible.

Their persistent calls and claims led to the Electoral Commission establishing a panel of eminent persons to assess the NPP’s assertions.

But the five-member panel set up by the EC to assess the demand for new voters’ register said the NPP’s evidence was not reliable data. The EC in conclusion said the NPP’s claims were unconvincing hence it cannot proceed to create a new register, but would rather ensure an audit to present a credible electoral roll for the polls.

However the NPP at a news conference on Thursday to respond to the EC’s position defended the evidence it [provided to the EC, and said the EC’s response was rather unfortunate.

The Dankwa-Busia-Dombo tradition accused the EC of bowing to the propaganda of the NDC government.

But speaking to Kwaku Owusu Adjei on Si Me So on Kasapa FM, Dr Samuel Adu Gyamfi urged the NPP to desist from its seeming calculated attempt to paint the EC black in the eyes of Ghanaians.

“You cannot tarnish the image of the EC and its Boss and make it look as if the Commission is in bed with the government and further suggest that majority of Ghanaians want the voters register changed. The NPP is not the majority of Ghana and neither are the rest of the political parties. It is all Ghanaians that form the majority of the voice in Ghana. So if the NPP makes a proposition to the EC, it knows the Commission has the competence and legal right to assess the proposal and make pronouncement on it. If it looks into the matter and the party disagrees with the verdict it is well and good that the outcome is respected, and even if we beg to differ it is essential that we don’t make comments like the EC is in bed with the government, because that is dangerous for our democracy.”

He added: When you denigrate the EC, and you eventually win the election it will amount to the same thing. Because what you are saying is that you used a bloated register to win the elections.

Source: Kasapafmonline.com

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15/Jan/2016

Consult us before you clean voters register – NPP tells EC

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) has served notice to the Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana, cautioning it to immediately halt all the processes involved in the internal cleaning of the voters’ register until approval is sought from all the political parties to do so.

According to the elephant family, it is completely dissatisfied with the response of the electoral body to its request for a new voters’ register for the conduct the November 7 Presidential and Parliamentary polls and subsequent elections in the country.

In August, 2015, the NPP led by Dr. Bawumia, described the country’s electoral roll as terminally faulty and which cannot be relied on for the 2016 Presidential and Parliamentary elections.

He revealed that the NPP had identified 76,286 persons with the same data in both Ghana and Togo’s voters’, a figure he said represents 10% of the work in progress.

Some other African nationals from Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso, according to Dr. Bawumia, were also on the country’s electoral register.

Worried about the flawed document, the Vice-Presidential Candidate of the NPP then called for a new register ahead of the November 7, 2016 polls.

But the Electoral Commission under the tutelage of its Chairperson, Charlotte Osei, on the eve of the New Year, shot down the call for a new voters’ register.

It said the argument for the call for the new voters’ roll was not convincing and therefore, does not recommend the replacement of the current register.

Instead, the Commission said it “will continue to engage stakeholders to ensure that a clean and credible voters’ register is in place for the 2016 general elections through an inclusive and collaborative audit process.”

In a recent interview on Accra-based Joy FM, Madam Charlotte Osei, disclosed that the EC was currently undertaking a cleaning of the Register.

She told listeners that the EC has so far identified in Ashanti Region, 200,000 names in the current register that are on the Multiple Registration list which they were going to clear.

However, at a press conference to react to the response of the EC, Campaign Manager of the NPP, Peter Mac Manu, told journalists that the claims by the EC of identifying 200,000 names in the Ashanti Region was contrary to the 150,000 names it mentioned as those identified nationwide.

He said it would therefore, be suicidal for the EC to go ahead with its plans towards cleaning the alleged bloated voters’ register if it does seek clearance from the political parties.

“This disclosure is very strange. The EC in its response to the NPP claimed in page 23 that 150,000 names had been identified as multiples nationwide. How is it possible therefore for the EC to identify as much as 200,000 names in the Ashanti Region alone?”

“The NPP is by this response calling for an immediate stop to all processes involved in the so-called internal cleaning of the Register until all parties can satisfy themselves of the modalities and means by which this so called internal cleaning is being done”, he said.

Source: kasapafmonline.com

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15/Jan/2016

Obama makes the case for his legacy

Forget the fanfare, forget the ritual and forget the policy announcements, because let's face it - this was not an eat-all-you-can legislative meal.

How could it be?

The president has less than a year to go, so a protein-rich legislative programme would be a waste of time because there aren't the hours and there aren't the votes.

Instead this occasion was about symbols and messages. Variously attributed to Walter Benjamin, George Orwell and Winston Churchill it is said that "history is written by the victors". And like all good politicians Barack Obama in his final State of the Union address was trying to give his narrative on his term of office.

Without the verbal dexterity or phrase-making elan that have been his oratorical hallmark - I could sum it up crudely as: "It was a pile of steaming ordure when I got here, but it's really pretty good now."

And so the tone was optimistic: "The future we want - opportunity and security for our families; a rising standard of living and a sustainable, peaceful planet for our kids - all that is within our reach."

But that message also served another political purpose. With the election coming up in November the none too subtle sub-text of that is: All this is within your reach providing you don't change course. In other words, don't embrace a Republican candidate.

President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill

"Democracy does require basic bonds of trust between its citizens," Mr Obama said

And of what he found when he got to the White House, he spoke of the American spirit to innovate and discover.

"It's that spirit that made the progress of these past seven years possible. It's how we reformed our health care system, and reinvented our energy sector; how we delivered more care for our troops and veterans and how we secured the freedom in every state to marry the person we love."

I told you he would do it more eloquently.

But if part of his legacy depends on seeing a Democrat returned to the White House, there was one Republican the president didn't want to see embraced.

That was the billionaire businessman Donald Trump. Although he did not mention Mr Trump by name it was clear who his target was.

"When politicians insult Muslims ... that doesn't make us safer. That's not telling it like it is. It's just wrong. It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals. And it betrays who we are as a country."

Indeed calling for a different kind of political dialogue was one of the central themes of this speech.

One of the great frustrations of his presidency has been the toxic relations between Capitol Hill and the White House.

And so he called for a more tolerant, open and respectful political discourse.

"Our Founders distributed power between states and branches of government, and expected us to argue, just as they did, over the size and shape of government, over commerce and foreign relations, over the meaning of liberty and imperatives of security.

But democracy does require basic bonds of trust between its citizens."

That goal will probably have to be filed in the "mission not accomplished" intray. But he said he would keep on trying.

On policy there is a determination to get to mission accomplished on a whole pile of things from reform of the criminal justice system to prescription drug abuse; from getting more students to write computer code to concluding the normalisation of relations with Cuba; from the Pacific trade deal to immigration reform.

US First Lady Michelle Obama sits beside an empty chair (L) as her husband US President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address before a Joint Session of Congress

First Lady Michelle Obama sits next to empty seat set aside for victims of gun violence

And of course, closest to his heart - making progress on tackling the scourge of gun violence. One seat in the First Lady's box was symbolically kept empty to remember those who've been killed and whose voice is no longer heard.

But this was not a State of the Union that will be remembered for the shopping list.

This is about a vision for America for the next four or five years, when President Obama will be long gone and pruning the roses and digging up the weeds in his back yard (why do I struggle with that as a credible image?). It was optimistic, upbeat, hopeful.

Winning everyone in Congress with this address was never going to be possible.

No the target is the American people. As he enters the final lap of his presidency latest polls suggest that around two thirds of the American people think America is going in the wrong direction; only 27% think the country is doing well.

Switch those numbers around and the Obama legacy is secure; if those numbers don't budge then history might not be written by the president, but by the verdict of "we the people".

Source: bbc.com

 

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13/Jan/2016

Obama expected to frame election issues in optimistic State of the Union address

President Barack Obama is set to strike an optimistic and hopeful tone in his final State of the Union address.

The president will focus on cementing his legacy rather than unveiling new policies, officials have said.

Mr Obama is expected to frame some of the key issues in a way that fellow Democrats can embrace during campaigning for the upcoming election.

However, recent polls suggest that seven in 10 people in the US do not share their leader's optimism.

A response by the Republican party will be delivered by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.

In excepts from the speech released in advance, Mr Obama urges Americans to make world changes work for them and overcome fears.

He will say the future the US wants is only possible if the country "fixes its politics" and works together.

"A better politics doesn't mean we have to agree on everything... But democracy does require basic bonds of trust between its citizens," the speech reads.

Hours before the event, 10 US sailors were held by Iran after their boat had mechanical issues and sailed into Iranian waters. They are expected to be released on Wednesday.

Mr Obama's aides have avoided characterising the speech as a victory lap, but say it will highlight his accomplishments over the past seven years.

They say that it will present an optimistic alternative to the dire narratives put forward by Republican presidential candidates.

A man in Havana watches President Obama announce a restoration of diplomatic ties between Cuba and the US as a photo of Fidel Castro hangs on the wall, in July

Mr Obama, seen on TV in Cuba announcing the restoration of diplomatic ties, is expected to cheer the rapprochement

Among the events and developments that he will tout as successes are:

He will also continue his public messaging campaign aimed at improving the image of his strategy against the so-called Islamic State.

Keeping with tradition, the president will speak about what he would like to see Congress work on and his vision for the US beyond his last year in office.

While he is not expected to offer a large list of policy proposals, he could urge action on a number of items he feels have been left undone or could be accomplished with bipartisan support during his remaining year in office.

Among the items that could be on his to-do list:

Also keeping with tradition, First Lady Michelle Obama will host several gueststhat reflect the president's vision for US society.

This year, an empty chair will be featured in remembrance of gun violence victims.

Among the many guests:

  • Syrian refugee Refaai Hamo
  • Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella
  • first female US Army Ranger Lisa Jaster
  • Supreme Court plaintiff Jim Obergefell
  • Muslim US Army Veteran Naveed Shah
  • Mexican immigrant and science proponent Oscar Vazquez

The speech is expected to begin around 21:00 local time (02:00 GMT), and has - in the past - had a duration of about an hour.

Mr Obama's remarks mark the fulfilment of a constitutional mandate that requires the president to "from time to time give the Congress information on the State of the Union".

Historically, the update has usually been given annually, in January, as a speech to a joint session of Congress.

Source: bbc.com

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12/Jan/2016

Ghana's leader Mahama defends accepting Guantanamo detainees

Ghana's president has strongly defended the government's decision to allow two Yemenis freed from Guantanamo Bay to live in the West African state.

Opposition and church groups had condemned the decision, saying the men were a security threat.

However, Mr Mahama said a Ghanaian was more likely to die in a road accident than at the hands of the Yemenis.

The men said they looked forward to living in Ghana, and had followed the national football team in prison.

Khalid al-Dhuby and Mahmoud Omar Bin Atef were held at the US prison in Cuba for more than a decade without being charged.

They are the first Guantanamo detainees that Ghana has accepted, at the request of the US.

The jail was set up following the 11 September 2001 attacks in the US to detain what Washington called "enemy combatants".

US President Barack Obama has said he wants to close the jail down before he leaves office in 2017.

Speaking at a press conference in the capital, Accra, Mr Mahama said that Guantanamo Bay was a "blot on the human rights record of the world".

Ghana's striker Asamoah Gyan (L) scores against the USA during extra time of their 2010 World Cup round of 16 football match at Royal Bafokeng stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa, on June 26, 2010

The ex-detainees say they were happy when Ghana beat the US in the 2010 football World Cup

 

"They [the men] just want to pick up the pieces of their lives and live normally. We don't have anything to fear," Mr Mahama said, adding that Mr al-Dhuby and Mr Atef were living in a security compound.

He dismissed as "absolutely untrue" allegations that Ghana had received money from the US to take the detainees.

Earlier, the influential Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference called the Yemenis "time bombs" who should be "sent back to wherever they came from".

The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) said that official US documents showed the men had "violent and dangerous profiles".

"Why is government straining to paint a picture of the two detainees as harmless, misunderstood and wrongly detained persons?" it asked.

'Celebrating the Black Stars'

The two men were captured in Afghanistan, following the US-led invasion to overthrow the Taleban government in 2011.

Mr al-Dhuby and Mr Atef have denied belonging to militant groups.

"We have been wrongly arrested for 14 years without any charge against us," Mr Atef told Ghana's public radio station Uniiq FM.

"We have suffered but we are not looking for revenge," he said.

Map of where Guantanamo bay is

Mr Atef said they were huge fans of Ghana footballer Asamoah Gyan, and many of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay supported the Black Stars at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

"When Ghana beat America, we were very happy. We made some celebrations. We also told the guards that we've won," Mr Atef said.

Ghana beat the US 2-1, with Gyan scoring the winning goal in extra-time, which sent the Black Stars through to the quarter-finals.

Dozens of countries have received former Guantanamo Bay detainees, including other African states such as Uganda and Cape Verde.

A total of 780 men have been held at Guantanamo Bay since 2002, the vast majority without charge or criminal trial.

The US navy base now has 105 detainees, nearly 50 of whom have been cleared for release.

Source: bbc.com

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12/Jan/2016

Court Orders Arrest Of Suspect In NPP Hq. Raid

An Accra Circuit Court yesterday issued a bench warrant for the arrest of one of the 11 accused in the raiding of the headquarters of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), for failing to appear before court.

Michael Agoha, was one of the 11 other accused who raided the headquarters of the opposition NPP on MondayNovember, 23, last year

This was after the prosecutor Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Abraham Annor prayed the court for a bench warrant for the arrest of the two of the accused who were absent, thus, Michael Agoha and Abdulai Wudu for failing to appear before the court.

Counsel for the accused Abdul Aziz Mohammed, told the court that he had received information that Abdulai, had lost his mother and as a result, he was unable to make it to court.

However, concevning Michael Agoha, the counsel said, he was not too sure of his whereabout, but heard his been visiting the Psychiatric Hospital for treatment.

Consequently, the Court presided over by Rubby Naa Adjeley granted the prosecution’s application for bench warrant for the arrest of Michael Agoha and charged the counsel for the accused to ensure Abdullai Wudu comes to court on the next adjourned date.

Following this, the first prosecution witness, Robert Essumang a caretaker of the NPP Headquarters testified in the matter and was later cross-examined by the counsel for the accused.

The witness said, he was at the headquarters of the party together with other three people of which two were security men and the other also a caretaker, when they heard a knock at the main entrance.

Mr. Essumang said, a security man rushed to the entrance to attend to the people and two in military uniform entered and asked everyone in the premises to come around.

He said they were later locked in a room and after some minutes released and that upon their release, they saw the military men with a fertilizer sack which contained four guns and cutlasses.

The prosecution witness, revealed that they asked them to carry it and later said, they had arrested them for possessing those ammunitions.

He said after some time, they brought in more people wearing red T-shirts to ransack all the offices.

The Prosecution witness cross-examined and after, the court adjourned the case to today, January 12, 2016.

At a court sitting on December 8, the court which issued a bench warrant in the morning for the arrest of five people accused of raiding the New Patriotic Party (NPP) headquarters, withdrew the warrant in the afternoon after the accused rushed to the court for the case to be recalled.

Nii Teiko Ayi-Bontey, Michael Agoha, Shamzu Dinni and Obed Yawson are among the 11 people charged with the offence but were absent in court in the morning.

They rushed to the court in the afternoon after the warrant was issued with the excuse that they were hungry and decided to comb around for food.

Following this, the court, withdrew the bench warrant issued at the request of the prosecution and adjourned the case to December 22.


 

Source: The Ghanaian Times

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12/Jan/2016

2016 polls: Chartered accountants to collate results

The chairperson of the electoral commission Charlotte Osei has revealed that the EC is considering a proposal of assistance that has been extended to it by the association of chartered accountants in the country.

According to her, the EC will need the expertise of the accountants at the collation centers.

The move forms part of the EC's attempt at getting recognizable professional institutions to help in the management of the November polls.

Already, the Ghana Bar Association has offered to play a role in protecting the credibility of the polls.

Speaking to Samson Lardy Anyenini on Newsfile on Joy FM Saturday, Mrs Osei said the commission is willing to engage the services of all relevant professionals to ensure a credible polls.

“The Chartered accountants have written to us and they are willing to do voluntary work...and we think that we will need them at the collation centers”.

She added that about 275 professional will be needed to help with the polls in the various constituencies.

Source: StarrFMonline.com

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12/Jan/2016

We’ll ensure credible, transparent elections – EC

The Electoral Commission has reiterated its commitment to ensure a credible, transparent and peaceful election in November.

Ghanaians go to the polls on November 7 to elect a new President and Members of Parliament.

The credibility of the EC to hold a credible election has been questioned by the opposition New Patriotic Party after its calls for a new voters’ register were rejected.

But speaking on Morning Starr Monday, the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission Mrs. Charlotte Osei called on all stakeholders in this year’s election to play an active role to ensure that the polls are successful.

“I am totally certain that we are going to have elections that are peaceful, that are transparent, inclusive and credible but we need the support and the active involvement of all Ghanaians.

“Elections belong to the people and not just the political parties, we need everyone to work with us to ensure that we deliver a credible elections,” Mrs. Osei told host Nii Arday Clegg.

Source: Starrfmonline.com

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12/Jan/2016

Gitmo ex-convicts: Gov’t “ignored” anti-terrorism laws – NPP

The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) is accusing government of breaching the ant-terrorism act of Ghana in accepting the two ex-Guantanamo bay prisoners in the country.

“Why has Government chosen to ignore the relevant provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act (Act762) which clearly frowns on the admission of suspected terrorists into Ghana? Section 35(1) of Act 762 states as follows:

"The director of immigration or an officer authorised by the director shall not grant an endorsement or authority to permit a person to enter this country if there is reasonable ground to suspect that the person IS, WILL OR HAS BEEN INVOLVED IN THE COMMISSION OF A TERRORIST ACT!" the party noted in a statement.

The party is also demanding government to make a full disclosure of the terms and considerations involved in the deal.




Below are details of the statement


The New Patriotic Party (NPP) shares the deep anxiety and fears of the Ghanaian people over the resettlement of the two former Guantanamo terrorist detainees - Mahmud Umar Muhammed Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammed Salih Al-Dhuby-in Ghana. We are concerned that the decision was made without any consultation whatsoever with Parliament, political parties and other stakeholders.

The conduct of the Government raises a number of important questions and we join the Ghanaian people in demanding answers to the following pertinent questions in the spirit of full disclosure.

1. What foreign policy considerations went into the decision to resettle the detainees?

2. Why was the agreement to resettle the detainees in Ghana shrouded in secrecy?

3. Why was Parliament not informed, especially since the issue touches on and concerns terrorism and national security?
4. Why has Government chosen to ignore the relevant provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act (Act 762) which clearly frowns on the admission of suspected terrorists into Ghana? Section 35(1) of Act 762 states as follows:

"The director of immigration or an officer authorised by the director shall not grant an endorsement or authority to permit a person to enter this country if there is reasonable ground to suspect that the person IS, WILL OR HAS BEEN INVOLVED IN THE COMMISSION OF A
TERRORIST ACT!"

5. Why has the Government not disclosed the terms of agreement, nature and full extent of the consideration received in exchange for resettling the detainees?

6. Why is the Government hiding the true violent and dangerous profiles of the two detainees, as disclosed in official US Government information portals, from the Ghanaian people?

7. Why is Government straining to paint a picture of the two detainees as harmless misunderstood and wrongly detained persons?


8. Why did Government smuggle the detainees into Ghana only to give the impression that they were yet to arrive?

It cannot be in the interest of good governance that such critical matters should be agreed to by Government on the blind side of the people in whose midst these former terrorist detainees are supposed to live. The proverbial Ghanaian hospitality should not be put at such risk.
 

Source: StarrFMonline.com

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12/Jan/2016

We’ll soon “overcome” dumsor – Mahama

President John Mahama has assured that the power crisis that has afflicted the country for the past three years will soon be over.

According to him, his government is closer to providing a permanent solution to the crisis that has seen the power minister resign his post.

Power minister Dr. Kwabena Donkor relinquished his office on January 1, this year, after failing to fix the crisis as promised upon his assumption of office.

Addressing the media at the Flagstaff House Tuesday, Mr. Mahama who fell short of giving timelines said the end to the power rationing is very close.

“...We need to forecast our demand and plan generation to be in tune with our growth...one of the major sectors that take my time and attention is the power sector... we have made a great effort and as close as we are at solving dumsor, we still have a gab.

“...In a short while, we will be able to overcome dumsor, ..I have learnt to leave (timelines) to the technical people to talk about ...but we now, as a result of the work that we did, have sufficient generation; the problem now is the fuel... we are fortifying the power sector to make it more robust and lasting,” he stated.

Source: StarrFMonline.com

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12/Jan/2016

NPP playing propaganda with teacher trainee allowance – Mahama

President John Mahama has said the opposition New Patriotic Party’s promise to restore allowances of teacher trainees if they win the 2016 election is mere propaganda.

According to him, the upgrade of teacher training institutions to tertiary institutions made it difficult for them to continue enjoying the benefit of allowances.

“...We raised them to tertiary institution and brought them to the same level as the University of Education, Winneba, and the University of Cape Coast is also training teachers”

“So If these ones (tertiary institutions) we don’t pay teacher trainee allowances; we say go for student loans, but then if these ones that are also are tertiary institution and degree awarding, we say we will pay you teacher training allowances, then there is no sense of equity,” Mr. Mahama told the media at the flagstaff House Tuesday .

The 2016 running mate of the main opposition NPP flagbearer Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and his flagbearer Nana Akufo-Addo have promised to restore the allowance should they win the November polls.

In the view of Dr. Bawumia, the basis for the suspension of the allowance by the NDC government is untenable.

But the President believes such utterances are unhealthy for policy development in the country.

“It is not necessary for us to inject politics into policy making...We must allow policy to work so they can be reliable and predictable”.

Source: StarrFMonline.com

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12/Jan/2016

Let’s be compassionate towards ex-Gitmo inmates – Mahama

President John Mahama has urged Ghanaians to be compassionate towards the ex-inmates of the Guantanamo prison who have been transferred to Ghana by the United States of America.

The two, Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby who arrived in Ghana last week after 14 years at the hardcore prison in a radio interview said they are thirsty for peace and want to live a normal life in Ghana.

Ghanaians have generally called for their relocation. The Christian Council of Ghana and the opposition New Patriotic Party have also kicked against their presence in the country, saying they pose a major security threat to the oil-producing nation.

Speaking to Journalists Tuesday, President Mahama said the inmates pose no threat to the country since they would be strictly monitored.

“They were put in the lowest risk in Guantanamo…they were never tried, they were never charged and they were never convicted.

“As Commander-in-Chief of this country I will not take any decision that would jeopardize the safety of any Ghanaian...we must look at the side of compassion, I am a Christian and the Bible teaches us to be compassionate to prisoners and these people were not even convicted and so where is our Christian compassion for people,” President Mahama added.

President Mahama added Ghana decided to accept the inmates of Guantanamo after extensive security checks by national security operatives.

No Monetary considerations

The President also strongly dismissed widespread claims that his government received money in exchange for the transfer of the ex-inmates of Guantanamo.

“There is no monetary considerations…so what they are saying on social media that I collected 300 million is absolutely untrue.”

According to him, the decision to accept them was purely based on the relationship between Ghana and the United States.

Source: Starrfmonline.com

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12/Jan/2016

Mahama opens up to the Ghanaian press

President John Dramani Mahama opened up to the Ghanaian media on Tuesday and spoke on a wide range of issues from the ex-Guantanamo Bay detainees staying in Ghana to the economy.

Listen to the full question and answer session below:

Source: starrfmonline.com

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12/Jan/2016

I wasn’t elected to take "popular decisions" – Mahama

President John Mahama has said he was not elected to take “popular decisions” that would make Ghanaians happy.

According to him, he was elected to take tough decisions that would benefit majority of Ghanaians in the long term.

Responding to questions on the recent hikes in Petroleum products by the media at the Flagstaff House Tuesday, President Mahama said “it is not every decision that would be popular, but what was I elected for... If I took popular decisions to make you happy with me this country would be in the ground.

“They are tough decisions... I don’t take pleasure in imposing taxes on people... I don’t, but the alternative is worse so I must take decisions that are in the national interest... that benefit might not be seen immediately but in future people would see what benefits we have accrued”.

January 1, 2016, began with increases in prices of petroleum products by one of its biggest margins in recent times.

The increase became necessary because of the recent Energy Sector Levy put on most of the products.

If government had not introduced the recent levy fuel would have rather gone down by 10 percent due to the continuous fall of crude oil on the world market.

But President Mahama has asked Ghanaians to bear with him, saying the measures he is putting in place would eventually benefit the nation.

Source: starrfmonline.com

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12/Jan/2016

Gitmo duo: 'No need to panic' – Hanna Tetteh

Foreign Affairs Minister, Hanna Tetteh, has said Ghanaians must not panic about the relocation of two Guantanamo Bay ex-convicts to Ghana, since, according to her, they posed no threat to the security of the country.

Speaking on Accra-based Radio XYZ Monday, January 11, 2016, Ms. Tetteh said: “We indicated to them that we will be ready to take two. These are the ones that are known and can be managed. There is no need to panic.”

“Our security forces and agencies are capable of handling it. These people are not going to be a threat to the people of Ghana.

“They asked us for assistance. This assistance is not beyond our capacity to give. It is not putting Ghanaians at risk.

“It is not going to create a situation where we are attracting hordes of terrorists that these people don’t even know into the country.

“Throughout the period they are here, they are going to be continuously under surveillance.

“They know that they being able to leave after two years is dependent on their good behaviour.

“They were not compelled to come to Ghana. They understand the terms of their arrest. We understand our responsibility. We have the capacity to manage,” Ms. Tetteh added.

There has been public outcry about the government of Ghana’s decision to accommodate the two terror suspects who have ties to terrorist groups Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

The National Chairman of the People’s National Convention (PNC), Bernard Mornah, has said government’s decision to accept the suspected terrorists is a continuation of the injustice the United States of America is perpetrating across the world.

International relations expert Dr Vladimir Antwi-Danso has also said it could open up the country to security threats.

Also, a former presidential advisor in the Kufuor administration, Vicky Bright, has said Ghana, by accepting the detainees, was importing trouble to its shores.

Former Deputy Minister for the Interior, K.T. Hammond has said the two should be sent back to Guantanamo Bay.

The Minority in Parliament has also raised concerns about the failure of the presidency to consult the House on the matter.

The Christian Council of Ghana (CCG) has also expressed similar concerns. The Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council has also kicked against the move.

Source: ghanaweb.com

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12/Jan/2016

I will accept Gitmo detainees in my constituency

Member of Parliament for Amenfi Central in the Western region is offering to accommodate the two former Guantanamo Bay detainees as refugees in his constituency.

According to George Kofi Arthur, there is nothing wrong with government’s decision to accept the Yemeni nationals in Ghana.

Ghana is expected to provide shelter for the two Yemini terror suspects Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby.

The two have been in detention for 14 years after being picked up in Afghanistan and suspected to have been linked to the terrorist group Al-Qaeda.

Government's decision to accommodate the former Guantanamo Bay detainees has generated a lot of public uproar with political parties and the Christian Council of Ghana demanding the two suspects be sent out of the country.

But the Amenfi Central MP on Adom FM’s Dwaso Nsem says that the noise being made is much ado about nothing.

In his view, the security agencies have done due diligence thus the two terror suspects don’t pose any threat to Ghana.

“We don’t have to make a lot of noise about these people. If Ghana was not to be a peaceful country, America would not have brought their people here,” he said.

Kofi Arthur could not fathom why people were making a lot of noise about the issue when in fact most Chinese nationals in Ghana are ex-convicts.

He blamed the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) for creating fear and panic on the issue just for cheap political points.

“The NPP is making a mountain out of a molehill because they have nothing to say. I’m willing to accept them at my house in my constituency and we will live peacefully” he stressed.

Kofi Arthur urged Ghanaians to ignore the ugly noises by the NPP and trust the government.


Source: myjoyonline.com

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11/Jan/2016

EC not a detective institution – Prof. Oquaye

Chairman of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye, is not happy about the path that was chosen by the Electoral Commission to investigate the over bloated electoral register petition Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia submitted to it.

In his view, it was diplomatically incorrect for the EC to have written to its counterpart institution in Togo to verify if the claims submitted to its outfit by the NPP were authentic or not.

According to him, the best thing the Electoral Commission could have done to assuage the fears of Ghanaians since it is not a detective institution was to have sought the assistance of Interpol, Ghana Office, to use their advance forensic equipment to authenticate the claims of the NPP.

“There are certain things that you will need the Police to help investigate. The Electoral Commission is not detective institution. They don’t have forensic equipment to authenticate finger prints and pictures among other things. They just don’t have them because that is not their work”.

“So, on matters of such nature, you have to go to the Police CID for assistance. They have the forensic department to deal with issues of such magnitude”, he said in an interview on Accra-based Okay FM Monday.

In August, 2015, Dr. Bawumia, described the country’s electoral roll as terminally faulty and which cannot be relied on for the 2016 Presidential and Parliamentary elections.

“The current voters’ register is incurably flawed, and cannot be relied on for the 2016 elections, and as a matter of urgency, we have submitted a petition to the Electoral Commission (EC), to register our displeasure”, he told journalists at a press conference held in Accra.

He revealed that the NPP had identified 76,286 persons with the same data in both Ghana and Togo’s voters’, a figure he said represents 10% of the work in progress.

The affected persons, he argued, were mostly found in the Volta Region, with Ketu South as one of the constituencies where the anomalies took place.

Some other African nationals from Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso, according to Dr. Bawumia, were also on the country’s electoral register.

Worried about the flawed document, the Vice-Presidential Candidate of the NPP then called for a new register ahead of the November 7, 2016 polls.

EC shoots down call for a new voters’ register

But the Electoral Commission under the tutelage from its Chairperson, Charlotte Osei, on the eve of the New Year, shot down the call for a new voters’ register.

It said the argument for the call for the new voters’ roll was not convincing and therefore, does not recommend the replacement of the current register.

Instead, the Commission said it “will continue to engage stakeholders to ensure that a clean and credible voters’ register is in place for the 2016 general elections through an inclusive and collaborative audit process.”

Arrest Dr. Bawumia

Following the EC’s pronouncement, the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) has called for the arrest of Dr. Bawumia for allegedly presenting falsified documents to the EC to deceive them.

General Secretary of the NDC, Johnson Asiedu Nketiah said the EC’s preliminary report on calls for new voters’ register suggests that the NPP Vice-Presidential candidate peddled falsehood that had the potential to destabilize the country, hence, the need to arrest him for questioning.

Interpol

But Prof. Oquaye commenting further said the report by the EC and the calls for the arrest of Dr. Bawumia lacked merit.

He said since the matter that was presented to the EC had an international dimension, the electoral body ought to have sought the assistance of Interpol to deal with it.

“Because the matter has that international dimension, there was the need to have invited Interpol. Togo is a signatory to the International Convention on Interpol likewise Ghana. So, the Interpol office in Ghana would have written to the Interpol office in Togo to assist in investigating the forensic aspect of the case brought before them (EC). Being a signatory to Interpol, Togo would then be obliged to make inquiry to the matter whether you like it or not.”
“They (EC) knew all these but wanted Asiedu Nketiah to do the propaganda for them but it won’t work”.

Source: kasapafmonline.com

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11/Jan/2016

Togo's opposition leader: 'I did not comment on Ghana's register'

The President of Togo’s opposition political party, Alliance Nationale pour le Changement (ANC), Mr Jean-Pierre Fabre has denied making any statements about a refusal by the Togolese Electoral Commission to provide its counterpart in Ghana with a copy of its voters register.

Last week Mr Masseme Esse, claiming to be an Advisor to Mr Fabre granted an interview to some Ghanaian radio stations and purporting to be speaking for the leader of the largest opposition political party in Togo, he said the ANC was “bemused” by reports that the Togolese Electoral Commission declined to provide its counterpart in Ghana with a copy of its register for verification of the soft copy of the register used by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in its analysis to back calls for a new voters register.

In a communique signed by Jean-Pierre Fabre and issued in Lome on January 7, 2016, the ANC said Mr Masseme’s presentation in the Ghanaian media as an Advisor and speaking in their leader’s name was false.

Rather, the party said it was aware Mr Masseme lives and works in Germany and even though he was a supporter of the party, he was not an Advisor and does not occupy any position or place in the ANC.

It said Mr Masseme, therefore, does not have any right to speak on behalf of the ANC, as a party, let alone in the name of the President on any subject whatsoever.

It said whatever he has said was therefore only his personal opinion.

Below is a copy of  the statement from the ANC

 

Below is a copy of  the statement from the ANC
Below is a copy of  the statement from the ANC

Togo ANC letter

source: ghanaweb.com

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11/Jan/2016

Egypt holds first parliament in three years

Egypt's parliament has opened for the first time in more than three years, packed with supporters of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

The previous Islamist-dominated legislature was dissolved by a court ruling in 2012.

The following year, the then General Sisi ousted President Mohammed Morsi following massive protests against him and his Muslim Brotherhood party.

Egypt's new parliament has just 15 days to ratify over 300 new laws issued.

Newly elected MPs were sworn in on the first day. They were then due to elect a speaker and two deputies.

Parliament comprises 568 elected members and is dominated by an alliance loyal to President Sisi.

Sunday's session was supposed to be mostly procedural but it was disrupted by one outspoken member.

Murtada Mansour, a President Sisi supporter, at first refused to read the official text of the MPs' oath, before relenting and "hurriedly and casually" reciting it, the Associated Press reported.

Mr Mansour was angry at parts of the text endorsing the ousting of former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, which some pro-government figures now see as a mistake, according to the agency.

Source: bbc.com

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11/Jan/2016

I'm not sure of NPP victory in November – Afoko

The suspended chairman of the New Patriotic Party Paul Afoko has said he is not certain the party can win the November polls.

According to him, the strategies needed to annex victory for the party appear to have been lost on them.

In an interview with renowned journalist Kwesi Pratt Junior in a yet to be broadcast television interview, the business magnate said the party is watching potential victory slip away from it hands.

“All that we need to do is already there, it is starring us in the face. Let’s go back to the Supreme Court and we get told by Afari Gyan; the message he was giving us at the time, we didn’t want to hear; polling stations, that is where victory lies…in those polling stations that is where we win or lose.

“…It (victory) is still there, it is possible but for me to say that; based on the confidence with which I walked off that stadium in Tamale after my victory telling everybody that by March, end of first quarter of 2016 even NDC would have hands up and say it’s gone; we don’t have it any longer, that certainty is gone,” he lamented.

Afoko leads a group of three key executives of the elephant family, including its general secretary who have been suspended indefinitely for various acts of misconduct. The party says their actions were inimical to the electoral fortunes of the Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition. The NPP faces off with the ruling National Democratic Congress on November 7.

Source: StarrFMonline.com

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11/Jan/2016

NPP gags party communicators over Afoko comments

The New Patriotic Party has warned all its communicators to avoid commenting on issues raised by suspended National Chairman Paul Afoko.

Mr. Afoko in an interview on TV3’s Hot Issues on Saturday rejected allegations of gross disrespect against the party Council of Elders.

He also stated that he is not certain NPP can win the November polls.

“[victory] is still there, it is possible but for me to say that; based on the confidence with which I walked off that stadium in Tamale after my victory telling everybody that by March, end of first quarter of 2016 even NDC would have hands up and say it’s gone; we don’t have it any longer, that certainty is gone,” he lamented”.

But a statement signed by NPP Deputy Communications Director, Perry Okudzeto, stated that Mr. Afoko’s comments are only a distraction and party members should resist the temptation of responding to him.

Read the full statement below.

NO COMMENT ON MR PAUL AFOKO

The communication Directorate has taken note of the desire of many communicators to respond forcefully to comments made by Mr. Paul Afoko in a television interview on Saturday.

The directorate however cautions all communicator not to be distracted by Mr Afoko’s comments, Mr. Afoko himself has taken his grievances to court. The party will respond to him in court.

In the meantime, NO COMMENT, on the matters he has raised, there are grave issues of national importance including the relocation of suspected terrorists into Ghana, the imposition of crippling utility and petroleum tariffs and prices, corruption within the NDC government, Electoral Commission and the voters register among others, that should engage our attention.

Communicators and party members should focus on these and not allow themselves to be distracted, no matter how contentious.
Thank you and happy new year to all

More importantly, NO COMMENT.

Signed by Curtis Perry Kwabla Okudzeto (Deputy Communications Director)

Source: Starrfmonline.com

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11/Jan/2016

EC rejects legalization of IPAC

The electoral commission of Ghana has objected to suggestions to give legal backing to the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC).

The chairperson of the electoral management body (EMB) Charlotte Osei said giving legal backing to IPAC will give political parties the powers to dictate to the EC, which will be inimical to the functions of the independent establishment.

“Consensus doesn’t mean sitting on top and taking decisions. EMBs should never be controlled by political parties because political parties have their own agenda; legitimately so and that is why they are organized,” the first woman chairperson of the EC told Accra-based Joy FM on their News File programme, Saturday.

“EMBs have their constitutional duties to the people. So we should never have a situation where the authority of the EMB or the decision making powers of the EMB can be overruled by political parties.”

However, the former boss of the National Commission on Civic Education said political parties can be involved in decision making of the EC as it pertains “in other jurisdictions” but they should never “take decisions above the EMB.”

IPAC was formed in March 1994 to bring together representatives of the political parties on a monthly basis with members of EC to discuss and try to build a consensus on electoral issues.

Representatives of the international donor community that have assisted the electoral process are also invited to observe proceedings at IPAC. However, IPAC is not open to the general public or the media.

Ghana will be heading to the polls on November 7 to elect a president and parliamentarians.

Source: starrfmonline.com

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11/Jan/2016

We’re not taking Ghanaians for granted – EC

The chairperson of the Electoral Commission Charlotte Osei has dismissed claims that the electoral body is taking Ghanaians for granted ahead of this year’s general elections.

The claims were first made by the General Secretary of the Christian Council, Rev. Dr. Kwabena Opuni-Frimpong who cautioned the EC not to take an entrenched position on its decision not to change the voters' register ahead of the polls.

The decision to keep the current register is consistent with a report by a five-member committee the EC set up to deliberate proposals for a new voters' register.

The committee among other things said it "finds the arguments for a new register unconvincing and, therefore, does not recommend the replacement of the current voters register."

But the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) and other pressure groups have expressed grave displeasure in the Commission’s position.

Pro-NPP group, Let My Vote Count Alliance (LMVCA) is threatening court action if the EC decides to go ahead with its decision.

Speaking on Newsfile Saturday, Mrs. Osei stated categorically that the EC would only take decisions that are in the best interest of Ghanaians and would not kowtow to the whims of a political party or a pressure group.

According to her, the EC is undertaking several reforms to improve the current register ahead of the polls scheduled to take place in November

Starrfmonline.com

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11/Jan/2016

Voters' register: EC boss slams Christian Council chair

The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission Charlotte Osei has taken a swipe at the chairman of the Christian Council of Ghana Reverend Dr. Kwabena Opuni-Frempong over his comments on the voters register.

Dr. Opuni-Frempong in a recent media interview asked the EC not to take Ghanaians for granted following its rejection of calls for a new voters register for the November polls.

“EC should not take us for granted because Ghanaians are perceived to be timid; it must reconsider its decision,” he told Accra-based Asempa FM.

But responding to the charge, Mrs. Osei said the Commission is not taking Ghanaians for granted, adding its basis for rejecting proposals for a fresh register is rooted on solid grounds.

“I do not believe for a minute the EC is taking Ghanaians for ride and I do not also believe that Ghanaians are timid- I should think that as a people especially our leaders like Dr Opuni should help us show respect for the law.

“The panel took their time to listen to all the views; they called the political parties one after the other and had quiet engagement with them .They did a thorough job.

“But when people say we are taking Ghanaians for a ride and we must heed the calls for a new register, we should all remember that every action that we take should be in the ambit of the law,” she noted.

Source: StarrFMonline.com

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11/Jan/2016

Charlotte Osei: If we listened to NPP, we may have an elitist voters’ register

Chairperson of the Electoral Commission Mrs Charlotte Osei says Ghana will end up with a “very elitist” voter’s register if the Commission gave in to the methods suggested by the opposition New Patriotic Party.
She explained the commission has resolved to audit the voters' register instead of giving in to the demand by the NPP for a new register.
The NPP says the register is bloated and therefore cannot confer credibility on the winner of the 2016 general elections. For months, the opposition NPP and others had been pushing for the compilation of a new electoral roll.

They insisted the current register is so fundamentally flawed it cannot be relied on for credible elections in November this year. It claimed that there were at least 76,000 Togolese on the country’s electoral roll.
But a five-member committee set up by the EC to look into the calls for a new voters’ register said the evidence provided by the NPP was not convincing.
Speaking to the issue again, Ms. Charlotte Osei said the NPP’s method for compiling a new voters register requires that Ghanaians show proof of citizenship using either a passport, a driver’s license or a National ID card.
“How many Ghanaians do you think have these? five million, six million?...I doubt if you can get even 10million” Charlotte argued.
“…for those who do not have a passport, driver’s license or a National ID card how are they going to be identified as a Ghanaian?” she wondered.
Old voter ID cards would be unacceptable and the Supreme Court has already barred the use of and National Health Insurance card as proof of citizenship.
Charlotte Osei also explained the commission can also not use the accepted practice of two Ghanaians testifying to the citizenship of a person who does not have any of the three IDs.
This is because the citizenship of the two can also not be proven with their old voter ID cards, Charlotte Osei said, explaining the limitations imposed by the NPP method.
 “We are going to end up with a register that is very elitist and excludes the large majority of citizens. That is not our idea of inclusive democracy and that is not where we think we should be going”, she insisted.

The Electoral Commission has maintained that the absence of a National Identification System is forcing Ghanaians to get a voter’s ID card because it is the easiest method of identification.

In countries such as Kenya and South Africa, citizens have a National ID and therefore do not need a voter ID card to determine citizenship.

This is not the case in Ghana.

A new voter’s ID will worsen fears expressed by political parities that there are minors and foreigners on the electoral roll because everybody will rush to obtain one even if they are not eligible to vote, the Electoral Commissioner stressed.

In effect “we are going to bring all the Togoleses and minors in”, she feared.

Listen to the audio link at the beginning of the news for her exact message.

Source: myjoyonline.com

 

 

 

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09/Jan/2016

Newsfile exclusive with EC boss Charlotte Osei

Award winning current affairs show, Newsfile, broadcast on Joy FM and JOY News on Multi TV had an exclusive interview with chairperson of the Electoral Commission Charlotte Osei on Saturday January 9, 2016.

Hosted by Samson Lardy Anyenini, the EC boss opened up on a number of issues ranging from the Commission’s rejection of NPP’s call for a new voter’s register to using professionals such as lawyers and chartered accountants. Madam Charlotte Osei also spoke on her relationship with Ghana Reinsurance Company.
 

Watch video below for her interview with Samson

Source: myjoyonline.com

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09/Jan/2016

I will vote for NPP – Paul Afoko

Suspended National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Paul Afoko, has said he will still vote for Nana Akufo-Addo come November 2016, despite his suspension from the party.

Paul Afoko, who is still challenging his suspension from the party, spoke on TV3’s Hot Issue programme which will be aired tomorrow [ Saturday] claiming he still remains loyal to the NPP.

“I will vote for the New Patriotic Party, it is my party” he stated.

According to him, many still accept him in the party since only a minority group approved his suspension.

“A group of 70 plus people say they’ve suspended me. Those seventy plus people never voted for me in the first place. They campaigned against me. They told lies about me,” he said.

The NPP’s National Executive Committee (NEC) unanimously voted to suspend Mr. Afoko indefinitely on October 23, 2015.

The NEC upheld the overwhelming decision by the Disciplinary Committee which decided that Mr. Afoko be suspended following a petition that alleged misconduct on his impact.


Source:citifmonline.com

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08/Jan/2016

‘I feel proud’ of NDC achievements; We will win 2016 elections – President Mahama

President John Mahama has predicted a resounding victory for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the November general elections.

According to him, government’s efforts at improving the lives of the citizenry will give it more advantage in the upcoming polls than the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP).

He made the comments while addressing government officials in Ho on Friday at a retreat.

“We have done sufficient… There are things that we have delivered. I feel very proud, sometimes I don’t know we did it. You go to a community and the Chief is praising you to high heaven for some school or some clinic I didn’t even know had been put there. But everywhere you go they say we see the development, we have a good road, we have enough water.

“In Brong Ahafo alone, there is water for more than 300,000 households in about 27 communities … There is a lot that has been done in every sector…There is a track record, there is a strong performance when it comes to development and infrastructure that we can defend. We will this election. I’m confident that we will win this election,” said the President.

The President also charged his appointees to prepare for the heavy schedule ahead in the last year of his first term and also emphasized the need for a  carefully considered SWOT analysis to determine the way forward.

“What we must do and what I am thinking must come out of here is to have an analysis of what our strengths are and what are weaknesses are and to also look at what our opportunities and what the threats are and once we do that we come up with a road map on how we can all work together to ensure that we win 2016.”

Click on the audio link at the beginning of the news to listen to the President.

Source: citifmonline.com

 

President Mahama also made reference to President Kwame Nkrumah’s situation when he was accused by elements within the UP tradition of wasting resources.

“Nkrumah had done so phenomenally when it comes to infrastructure. He had just finished the Akosombo Dam. It was months after he had switched on Akosombo and the same opposition at the time said he had run Ghana into debt and that he had borrowed so much. Exactly the same accusations we are facing now …”

The retreat which is being attended by Vice President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, Ministers and Deputy Ministers of State, Presidential Advisers and Staffers will offer government an opportunity to review strategies for the implementation of key policies earmarked in the 2016 Budget and other initiatives outlined for outdooring in the State of the Nation.

- See more at: http://citifmonline.com/2016/01/08/i-feel-proud-of-ndc-achievements-we-will-win-2016-elections-mahama/#sthash.Duh7U4eO.dpuf

 

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08/Jan/2016

IGP plans to disband vigilante groups ahead of 2016 elections

Acting Inspector General of Police John Kudalor has hinted of plans to disband vigilante groups aligned to some political parties ahead of the general elections this year.

According to him, the Police service has engaged the Attorney General's Office to determine the locus of these groups.

“She told us in plain language they are unlawful and illegal,” Mr. Kudalor told Joy News.

Activities of vigilante groups like Azorka Boys, Bolga Bulldogs led to aggressive clashes during a bye-election in Talensi in the Upper East region last July.

Various interest groups have expressed concern about the existence of such vigilante groups, particularly their tendency to engage in electoral violence.

Police and Military were in Talensi to keep the peace

Mr. John Kudalor told  JOYNEWS the police will be meeting with the political parties to fashion out how to ban these groups.

The Ghana Police Service last July warned it would prosecute political vigilante groups such as the Azorka Boys, Invincible Forces and Bolga Bull Dogs.

The police said they would also prosecute the leadership of such groups that have gained notoriety for engaging in acts of lawlessness during political activities.

But the Interior Minister Mark Woyongo when asked whether Azorka boys (aligned with the governing NDC) was registered security companies, the Minister responded in the affirmative, saying “of course they belong to security companies. For some time now, they have been operating as security companies.”

He announced the Ministry will soon legalise the activities of vigilante groups, Azorka boys and Bolga Bulldogs.

“From now onwards we are going to ensure that those who operate have value or credible documents to operate as security agencies. These security companies will have to be licensed.”


Source: myjoyonline.com

Acting Inspector General of Police John Kudalor has hinted of plans to disband vigilante groups aligned to some political parties ahead of the general elections this year.

According to him, the Police service has engaged the Attorney General's Office to determine the locus of these groups.

“She told us in plain language they are unlawful and illegal,” Mr. Kudalor told Joy News.

Activities of vigilante groups like Azorka Boys, Bolga Bulldogs led to aggressive clashes during a bye-election in Talensi in the Upper East region last July.

Various interest groups have expressed concern about the existence of such vigilante groups, particularly their tendency to engage in electoral violence.

- See more at: http://www.myjoyonline.com/politics/2016/January-8th/igp-plans-to-disband-vigilante-groups-ahead-of-2016-elections.php#sthash.jUMipJJh.dpuf
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08/Jan/2016

EC will not be stampeded into taking decision on voters’ register

Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Charlotte Osei has said the Commission will not be pushed into taking any decision on the creation or not of a new voters’ register by any political party.

The election regulatory body recently announced it will not be reviewing the voters’ register meant for the 2016 election.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) had pushed for the creation of a new voter’s register after the party alleged that there were over 76,000 foreign names on it.

Although the NPP was vehement with its demands, coupled with series of demonstrations by pressure groups including the Let My Vote Count Alliance, the EC has been resolute in saying there will not be a new register.

The governing National Democratic Congress has also rejected the NPP calls for a new register, preferring rather for the EC to audit the existing register.

A committee of experts set up by the EC to deliberate on their concerns also rejected the calls.

The NPP has described the panel’s decision as disappointing, accusing the EC of leading Ghanaians into a ditch.

However, speaking at a press briefing in Accra Thursday, Mrs Osei said she will not allow the independence of her outfit to be toyed with.

“An electoral management body should never be stampeded into taking a decision by a political party. That is why the constitution gives you independence. People may try to stampede but you have to stand your ground and do what is right.

She added that although the EC is willing to listen and examine views from various quarters, take it on board when it has to but the right and legal thing must always be done and “in accordance with the law.”


Source: myjoyonline.com

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08/Jan/2016

Parliament to summon ministers over Gitmo detainees

A Member of Parliament’s Committee on Defence and Interior, Major Derek Oduro (retired) has called for the House to summon the Ministers of Interior, Defence and Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration to brief it on the arrival of two detainees from Guantanano Bay In Ghana.

According to Major Oduro Parliament needs to be provided with answers from government over what he described as a sensitive issue.

He said Ghanaians were not ready for the possible implications of hosting terror suspects and therefore Parliament must intervene.

“Government should have prepared the minds of Ghanaians, now every Ghanaian is going through some mental torture, panic, fear.”

“These people what would be the security implications, should Al Qaeda, the group that they belong to attack an interest outside Ghana and within the country Ghana, what are we going to do when that thing happens,” he asked.

He argued that government should have conscientised the minds of people before bringing them in.

“So people want to know, what will be the security implications. the Minister must appear before Parliament and brief us,” he said.

Source: ghanaweb.com

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08/Jan/2016

Voter roll: LMVCA to picket EC

Pressure group Let My Vote Count Alliance (LMVCA) is set to go on another demonstration to mount pressure on the Electoral Commission (EC) to compile a new register of voters.

The group has scheduled a meeting on Friday, January 8, 2016, to fix a date for what its leaders say will be “sustained picketing of the Electoral Commission to demand the compilation of a new register."

The EC, in a statement, rejected calls by the opposition New Patriotic Party and the LMVCA for a new electoral roll, saying their arguments were not convincing.

LMVCA’s convener, David Asante, speaking to Class News, said: “The Electoral Commission says the arguments were not convincing enough, we will stage a more convincing demonstration, and they will change their minds.”

“The LMVCA is meeting, and we are fixing the date for our demonstration. We shall stage 1001 demonstrations until the EC sees wisdom.”

“We will convince the EC to change the register. They are looking for convincing reasons to change the register, we will go to the premises of the EC, we shall convince them, and they will change the register.”

Quizzed about the police having said the EC premises was a security zone, which cannot be picketed, Mr. Asante said: “It does not lie in the mouth of the police to demarcate what a security zone is in the country.”

“It is the Interior Minister, who has the mandate, per the constitution, to determine what a security zone is. Under the current dispensation, the EC is one of the public offices,” Mr. Asante added.

“We will write to the police officially and tell them we are picketing the Electoral Commission. They want a convincing argument, we shall go there and stage one, and they will change the register,” Mr. Asante emphasised.

Meanwhile, EC boss Charlotte Osei has said the electoral body, under her tenure, would not dance to the tune of any political party or do any politician’s bidding, as far as elections were concerned.

Source: ghanaweb.com

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08/Jan/2016

Okyehene: Support Mahama to transform Ghana

The Okyehene, Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin has urged Ghanaians to back President John Mahama's drive to transform the Ghanaian economy.

According to Osagyefo, the situation where some Ghanaians discredit government through the casting of aspersions and insinuations is inappropriate.

"We are all Ghanaians and one people, we should be law-abiding and ensure that we do away with issues that will divide the country.

“We must all support President Mahama's quest of transforming Ghana from its state to a better one,” he stated.

Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin was speaking at 5th anniversary of the installation of Effiduasehene, Okoawia Dwumoh Baabu IV in Koforidua in the Eastern region.

The Akyem-Abuakwa king advised Ghanaians to desist from attacking leadership with the use of insults when debating state and economic issues.

"The respect we don't have for our leadership is very worrying. People wake up to insult the president, chiefs, MPs have with impunity. It is just unacceptable, and the Lord will not bless us for that,” he lamented.

Okyehene further saw the need for power in the country to be decentralized. He explained that decentralization leads to massive development in all spheres of a country's economy.

The programme was attended by high profile government officials including Communications Minister Dr. Edward Omane Boamah, who is also an indigenes of the area, and the Eastern Regional Minister.

The Regional Minister, Antwi Bosiako Sekyere bemoaned chieftaincy disputes in some areas in the region and called on traditional authorities to preach unity and lead in resolving chieftaincy disputes in the region.

Source: ghanaweb.com

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08/Jan/2016

Dologuele and Touadera to contest CAR run-off

Two ex-prime ministers in the Central African Republic will contest a run-off after no candidate gained 50% in the first round of presidential elections, officials have said.

Anicet Georges Dologuele, who came first with 24%, will face Faustin Touadera, who got 19%, on 31 January.

Last week, more than a million people took part in the first presidential election since a coup in March 2013.

The country has since been wracked by conflict along religious lines.

Twenty of the 30 candidates vying to replace interim leader Catherine Samba-Panza had earlier this week complained of irregularities and called for the count to be halted.

But many of them were persuaded by the transitional government to withdraw their complaints, and the constitutional court will have to look into the remaining grievances.

  • Anicet Georges Dologuele 23.8% - 281,420 votes
  • Faustin Touadera 19.4% - 229,564 votes
  • Desire Kolingba 12.6% - 149,134 votes
  • Martin Ziguele - 10.8% - 121,009 votes

1,181,115 votes were cast and there was a 79% turnout

Source: CAR electoral commission


Mr Dologuele was prime minister between 1999 and 2001, and has also served as the country's finance minister.

Mr Touadera was prime minister in the government of ex-President Francois Bozize, who was overthrown in 2013.

CAR has been torn by sectarian violence since the Seleka rebels seized power in March 2013.

A band of mostly Christian militias, called the anti-Balaka, then took up arms against the Seleka.

More about the Central African Republic

The interim government and international donors pushed for the poll, believing that an elected president and parliament would help CAR recover from years of unrest.

CAR is one of the world's poorest countries - yet it is rich in natural resources.

Elections also took place for the 149-seat National Assembly.

After seizing power, the Seleka rebels installed Michel Djotodia as the first Muslim leader of the majority Christian country.

But under pressure from regional leaders and former colonial power France, Mr Djotodia stood down and was succeeded by Ms Samba-Panza.

About 1.8 million people were registered to vote, out of a population of roughly five million.

More than one million people fled their homes during the communal fighting.

Source: bbc.com

 

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07/Jan/2016

Iran accuses Saudis of hitting Yemen embassy

Iran has accused Saudi-led coalition warplanes of damaging its embassy and injuring staff in an air strike on Yemen's capital, Sanaa.

State media quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying planes had deliberately targeted the site.

But some later reports in Iran said missiles had struck only in the vicinity of the embassy.

Residents and witnesses in Sanaa reported there was no damage to the main embassy building.

Although the incident may turn out to be less serious than initially feared, the BBC's Arab Affairs Editor Sebastian Usher says the growing row between Saudi Arabia and Iran could derail peace efforts in Syria and Iraq, as well as in Yemen.

More on Saudi-Iran tensions

The row began after Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia executed a Shia cleric, Nimr al-Nimr.

Iranian protesters in Tehran, angry at the execution, then attacked the Saudi embassy, leading Saudi Arabia to cut off diplomatic relations.

A number of Saudi allies have followed suit in taking diplomatic action against Iran.

Meanwhile on Thursday Iran banned the import of all Saudi goods, according to a statement read on Iranian state TV.


Analysis: BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner

Ever since the Saudi-led air campaign began against Yemen's Houthi rebels last March, there was always a risk that the cold war between the region's two big rivals, Saudi Arabia and Iran, could ignite into something more serious.

The Saudis accuse Iran of smuggling in arms by sea to equip the Shia Houthis, who retain control over the capital and much of the country. Saudi officials have even claimed that Iranian military commanders are on the ground there, helping to direct the Houthis.

Both Iran and the Houthis deny this. The reality is that the Houthis owe most of their military gains to support from renegade Yemeni army units loyal to ousted ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Saudi Arabia's military spokesman says its coalition has asked for precise co-ordinates of foreign embassies in the Yemeni capital so it can avoid hitting them. Angry as the Saudis are about the ransacking of their embassy in Tehran, it would have been a major escalation if they had carried out a deliberate, direct hit on Iran's embassy in retaliation.


'Deliberate action'

The Saudis accuse Iran of supporting the Houthis in Yemen militarily - a charge it denies.

It is not clear whether the Iranian embassy was fully functioning, but a number of countries have withdrawn their staff or relocated missions to the port city of Aden in the past year.

A coalition spokesman said the air strikes had targeted Houthi rebel missile launchers, and that the rebels had used abandoned embassies for operations.

Hossein Jaber Ansari, a spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry, earlier said the raid had injured "a number of the building's guards", according to the Iranian news agency Ilna.

He called the incident a "deliberate action by Saudi Arabia".

A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, Gen Ahmed Asseri, said Iran's claims would be investigated.

At least 2,795 civilians have been killed in Yemen since March, when the Saudi-led coalition began a military campaign to restore the government and drive back the Houthis and allied security personnel loyal to ex-President Saleh.

In the past six months, coalition and pro-government forces have retaken Aden, but the rebels still control the capital.

The already dire humanitarian situation has also deteriorated, with more than 21 million people - four-fifths of the population - now requiring aid.

Source: bbc.com

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07/Jan/2016

Group pressures EC boss to resign for holding 2 positions

The Progressive Nationalist Forum (PNF) has mounted pressure on the chairperson of the Electoral Commission to resign for holding two positions concurrently.

According to the PNF, the action by the EC chair Charlotte Osei breaches  article 44 clause 4 of the 1992 republican constitution which states that ‘’the chairman and the two deputy chairmen of the commission shall not, while they hold office on the commission, hold any other public office.”

The group claims that Mrs Charlotte Osei, as well as being the chairman of the electoral commission, is also a board member of the Ghana Reinsurance Company Limited.

The group in a statement signed by its convenor, Richard Nyamah said “evidence we possess shows that Mrs, Osei before her appointment as EC chair and since her appointment has remained a member of the board of the company.”

They further demanded “that Madam Commissioner resigns her post as member of the board of directors of Ghana Reinsurance Company or as the Chairman of the electoral commission with immediate effect.”

They also want Charlotte Osei to refund all allowances she received as board member from January 30, 2015 “or her salary and entitlements as chairman of the commission, which ever option she chooses to exercise from 1st July, 2015 till date.”

“Failure to do any of the above, PNF will exercise all legal rights we have to ensure the right thing is done. We wish to use this opportunity to admonish all Ghanaians, especially those holding public office to refrain from breaking the law and shun corruption in whatever shape or form it comes in 2016 and beyond.”

PNF was the pressure group that petitioned President John to sack the Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Madam Lauretta Lamptey.


Source: citifmonline.com

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07/Jan/2016

EC Boss no longer on our Board – Ghana Reinsurance Company

The Ghana Reinsurance Company has denied claims from pressure group, the Progressive Nationalist Forum (PNF) that the current chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Charlotte Osei concurrently serves as a Director on the board of the company.

The group had earlier called for the EC Boss to step down from the positions as per the country’s constitution, the Electoral Commissioner is not permitted to hold another public office.

The Secretary of the Company, Jessica Allotey,  clarified the situation and expressed dismay that checks had not been made before the claims against the EC boss were made.

“I can confirm that as at today January 7, she is no longer a member of the Ghana Reinsurance Board. She’s not a director of Ghana Re. I’m so sorry that nobody called me to check with me what the situation is and unfortunately the story has already been aired,” she told Accra-based radio station Asempa FM.

“As at the end of December, she was not the Director of Ghana Re. I can assure that the transformation that she has brought to the company while serving on the board is immeasrable.”

Earlier checks had revealed that Charlotte Osei name was listed as a Director of the Company on their

However Jessica Allotey attributed this to the break for the Christmas holidays, adding that the companies technicians were working hard to ‘update the website.’

“We have just returned from the holidays and we are currently updating the website. The IT manager is currently working on that. Some of these things are not easily corrected but I can tell you categorically that she is no longer the Director of the company,” she explained.

PNF wants EC Boss out

The PNF in a statement signed by its convenor, Richard Nyamah said “evidence we possess shows that Mrs, Osei before her appointment as EC chair and since her appointment has remained a member of the board of the company.”

They further demanded “that Madam Commissioner resigns her post as member of the board of directors of Ghana Reinsurance Company or as the Chairman of the Electoral Commission with immediate effect.”

They also want Charlotte Osei to refund all allowances she received as board member from January 30, 2015 “or her salary and entitlements as chairman of the commission, which ever option she chooses to exercise from 1st July, 2015 till date.”


Source: citifmonline.com

The Ghana Reinsurance Company has denied claims from pressure group, the Progressive Nationalist Forum (PNF) that the current chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Charlotte Osei concurrently serves as a Director on the board of the company.

The group had earlier called for the EC Boss to step down from the positions as per the country’s constitution, the Electoral Commissioner is not permitted to hold another public office.

- See more at: http://citifmonline.com/2016/01/07/ec-boss-is-not-longer-on-our-board-ghana-reinsurance-company/#sthash.h1nLM5Rl.dpuf
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07/Jan/2016

Let's Work Together To Audit The Voters' Register - Atik Mohammed Urges Politicians

Atik Mohammed, General Secretary of the People's National Convention (PNC) has called for collective efforts between political parties in the country to ensure that the current voters' register is cleaned.

Speaking on 'Kokrokoo' on Peace FM, Atik Mohammed advised politicians to lay aside their political differences and cooperate with the Electoral Commission to audit the register.

According to him, the collective work by the parties involved is an antidote against any act of election malpractice or violence.

Atik Mohammed also called on the Electoral Commission to ensure transparency in the register in order to gain the confidence of the electorates.

“To inspire confidence in the register, transparency is key. We therefore plead that it must be all inclusive. It must be transparent."

He noted that the EC should make it possible for the stakeholders in Ghana's electoral processes to employ the services of their technical team to assess the impact of the software(s) that will be used for the biometric verification system.

"There must be the presence of technical persons from the various stakeholders on whichever Committee or body in charge of the work so that we can even suggest regarding the software they will be using. It should be a cooperative enterprise.”

Source: peacefmonline.com

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07/Jan/2016

I bit NDC man in self defense - NPP communicator

NPP communicator Fredrick Tahiru says he acted in self-defense when he bit NDC communicator during a heated radio discussion at North Star FM in Tamale, Thursday morning.

The two were discussing a call by NDC General Secretary to have Dr. Bawumia arrested for allegedly falsifying documents to the Electoral Commission to back the case for a new voters' register.

Fredrick told myjoyonline.com, the NDC communicator who was a panelist described NPP Vice-Presidential candidate Mahamudu Bawumia as a ‘ruffian’.

The NPP panelist demanded that the comment be retracted. Fredrick says after Zakaria retracted “sarcastically” he used condescending language describing him as a ‘small boy in politics’.

He reported the NDC man as saying, “if I don’t change my ways of doing things, I will suffer like Dr Bawumia who is struggling to become just a vice president”.

“I also replied him off air that, his entire generation can never boast of someone like me and Dr Bawumia”

Fredrick Tahiru maintained the NDC panelist was the first to throw a punch which resulted in a physical exchange.

The NPP man also said, he fought back in self-defence.

He said he visited Zakaria Mahama after the incident and they both have apologized to each other and made peace.


Source: myjoyonline.com

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07/Jan/2016

Listen up! "No politician deserves your life", Muntaka urges the youth

The Member of Parliament for Asawasi in Kumasi is urging the youth to desist from electoral violence as no politician is worth more than the life of any Ghanaian.

Alhaji Mubarak Muntaka says the best a politician can do for a party supporter who dies in political misunderstanding is to contribute towards their funeral.

Speaking at a ceremony to inaugurate a six-classroom block for Nurul Ameen Islamic School at Asawasi sponsored by GETFUND, he told the gathering politicians have short memories of their dead followers.

According to the Asawasi legislator, politicians are noted for paying attention to current developments or happenings, a situation which he says influence them to forget easily about their past.

He advised the youth no politician, not even himself deserve the life of a supporter.

Alhaji Muntaka who is also the Majority Chief Whip in Parliament also asked the youth to respect the views of political opponents as political campaigning gets to its peak of electioneering campaign ahead of the 2016 polls.

Meanwhile Alhaji Muntaka is unhappy at the conduct of the contractor who first worked on the project.

According to him, the cost of school project shot up from Gh 130,000 to GH 200, 000 after the contractor abandoned the project.

On his part, Municipal Chief Executive for Asokore Mampong, Alhaji Nurudeen Hamidan is happy because education has seen drastic improvement over the years with improved infrastructure, teaching and learning.


Source: myjoyonline.com

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07/Jan/2016

Senseless: No harm will come to Ghanaians by accommodating terror suspects – Gov’t

The government is assuring Ghanaians that it has taken all the necessary security measures to ensure the safety of citizens and security of the nation despite accommodating two former terror suspects.

Deputy Communications Minister, Felix Ofosu Kwakye gave the assurance after concerns raised by Ghanaians about the propriety of the country’s decision to accept two former Guantanamo Bay detainees of Yemeni origins.

On Wednesday, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs & Regional Integration in a statement signed by the sector minister, Hanna Tetteh said Ghana has accepted a request by the US government to accommodate the former detainees.

The statement said: “At the request of the US Government we have also agreed to accept two detainees of Yemeni origin who were detained in Guantanamo but who have been cleared of any involvement in any terrorist activities and are being released. They are unable to return to Yemen at the moment and we have indicated our readiness to accept them for a period of two years after which they may leave the country.”

“The United States is grateful to the government of Ghana for its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing U.S. efforts to close the Guantánamo Bay detention facility,” the New York Times quotes a Pentagon spokesman, Cmdr. Gary Ross, as saying in a statement.

The two Yemeni men transferred to Ghana are Khalid Mohammed Salih al-Dhuby and Mahmmoud Omar Mohammed Bin Atef. Both were born in Saudi Arabia but are considered citizens of Yemen based on their family and tribal ties, according to military dossiers leaked by Pvt. Chelsea Manning.

Speaking on the issue in an interview on the Super Morning Show with Kojo Yankson Thursday, Mr Ofosu Kwakye said, “I can assure you, enough has been done to ensure that they don’t pose a threat.”

According to him, no harm will come to Ghanaians by the decision and, “We are confident that the number of arrangements we have put in place; we will be able to handle the situation.”

He said the detainees should be in Ghana by now.

United States government, he noted, will bear the cost of the upkeep of the two former Guantanamo detainees.

The Deputy Communications Minister noted that, although the US itself has refused to accommodate the detainees, Ghana took the decision to welcome them on humanitarian grounds.

“We are [only] helping the United States,” he said.


Source: myjoyonline.com

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07/Jan/2016

'Open-carry' in Texas causing confusion for law enforcement

Gun-rights advocates in Texas had a lot to celebrate with the start of 2016. On Jan. 1, the state’s “open-carry” law went into effect allowing licensed gun owners to visibly carry a handgun in most public places.

“It feels great,” said Christopher Carmen Sr., among the first to take advantage of the new law -- enjoying a cup of coffee outside Austin on New Year’s Day with a pistol strapped to his side for all to see. “I want to say that I have more freedom. I just feel safer.”

But the law also is causing some confusion in the law enforcement community, where officers are unclear how far they can go to check licenses.

“What authority [do] the officers have?” asked Kevin Lawrence, executive director of the Texas Municipal Police Association. “We need to get that clarified as much as possible so the officers know what’s expected of them going into any given situation.”

Texas is the 45th state to allow open-carry in some form. Thirty states do not require the carrier to have a license, but Texas is among the 15 states that require a permit. Existing gun owners -- those who previously had concealed-carry permits -- are not required to do anything different. New applicants will have to go through updated training, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Lawrence said his organization isn’t an opponent of the law itself, but is concerned about how it’s enforced. He said the wording of the law when it comes to checking licenses is very vague and leaves officers exposed.

“If a citizen calls in, a business calls in, and says there is someone here carrying a firearm that we’re concerned about -- the question then becomes exactly how much authority does that officer have to approach that individual and investigate whether or not they have a license to carry that gun?” Lawrence said.

In other words, Lawrence told Fox News, if an officer can’t legally ask to see a person’s permit then there’s no way of knowing who is carrying legally. TMPA is the largest law enforcement union in Texas, representing more than 23,000 peace officers around the state.

“Ultimately, we’re going to have to get some rulings out of the courts before we know exactly what the rules are,” Lawrence added.

There are some exceptions to the state’s open-carry law as well. People still may not openly carry handguns at schools, sporting events, bars, voting locations, correctional facilities and secure areas of airports. For private businesses, it’s up to the individual owner.

That leaves business owners with a difficult decision.

“It’s pretty tough. As a business owner, you alienate one group and they stop shopping with you. You alienate another group and they stop shopping with you, and it’s a lose-lose,” said Shane Peterson, who works for a hardware store in Grand Prairie, near Dallas, and attended a question-and-answer session with local police to make an informed decision.

If business owners do not want their customers packing heat, they must put up proper signage on the front door.

Source: foxnews.com

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06/Jan/2016

Clinton's private email account exploits FOIA loophole, report says

EXCLUSIVE: Hillary Clinton’s unorthodox use of a private email account and personal server for government business exploited a loophole in the State Department's FOIA, or Freedom of Information Act, process, according to the findings of the first Inspector General report to stem from her email scandal. 

Congress asked the Office of Inspector General, the State Department's independent watchdog, to investigate the issue following the revelation that Mrs. Clinton did not use a government email account while secretary of state.

Fox News reviewed the 25-page report and its findings before they were made publicly available.

The report reads in part:

"FOIA neither authorizes nor requires agencies to search for Federal records in personal email accounts maintained on private servers or through commercial providers (for example Gmail, Yahoo, and Hotmail.)  Furthermore, the FOIA Analyst has no way to independently locate Federal records from such accounts unless employees take steps to preserve official emails in Department record keeping systems.”

The report strongly suggests that it relies on employees at all levels to follow the regulations, and when personal email is used, to forward copies to a State Department account so that it can be captured.

"Under current law and Department policy, employees who use personal email to conduct official business are required to forward or copy email from a personal account to their respective Department accounts within 20 Days.”  

Clinton did not have a State Department email address to which she could forward message traffic from her personal account, and it remains unclear whether she provided all her State Department business emails to the State Department or federal courts, where FOIA lawsuits have been filed.

The report also found that the State Department wait time for Freedom of Information Act Requests far exceeds that of other departments. For example, FOIA requires agencies to respond to requests within 20 working days, and "some requests involving the Office of the Secretary have taken more than 500 days to process."

The State Department is also criticized for practices that "do not consistently meet statutory and regulatory requirements for completeness and rarely meet requirements for timeliness."

Given Clinton's use of a private account, where more than 1,000 classified emails have been identified, including at least two at the Top Secret level, it appeared ironic that the report states employees had not been reminded of their FOIA responsibilities "...since March 2009, when former Secretary Clinton sent a message commemorating Freedom of Information Day."

The OIG report makes four recommendations, including that the Office of the Secretary should fully comply with FOIA requirements. The department said it agreed with the recommendations and changes had been made.

State Department spokesperson John Kirby said in response late Wednesday, ‎”The Department is committed to transparency, and the issues addressed in this report have the full attention of Secretary Kerry and the Department’s senior staff. While the volume of State Freedom of Information Act requests has tripled since 2008, our resources to respond have not kept pace.

“That said, we know we must continue to improve our FOIA responsiveness and are taking additional steps to do so. That’s why Secretary Kerry asked the State Inspector General to undertake this review in March, and it’s why he appointed a Transparency Coordinator this Fall.”

Source: foxnews.com

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06/Jan/2016

NDC gov’t has lost its way – Akomfrah

General Secretary of the Convention People’s Party (CPP) Nii Armah Akomfrah says the incumbent National Democratic Congress (NDC) government has lost its way in the management of the country.

According to him, it is unclear how the economy of the country, for instance, is being managed.

Speaking on TV3’s News @10 on Monday, January 4 regarding the withdrawal of the 1 per cent withholding tax by government, Nii Akomfrah said the government appears to be lost in pursuing its own strategy.

The CPP General Secretary mentioned foreign direct investment (FDI) and value-addition in the agricultural sector as two of the many strategies trumpeted by the John Mahama-led government. However, Nii Akomfrah insists, “you begin to tax the very process in adding value to agriculture”.

The former CPP Communications Director recommended to the government to rather tax mining, telecommunication and utility companies, which, he claims, have usurped the country’s wealth.

“We have gone too far in selling our wealth.”

He said the recent taxes introduced by government wil rather serve as a disincentive to many especially those who want to save at the banks.

Source: tv3network.com

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06/Jan/2016

Abu Sakara to contest 2016 election as independent candidate

2012 Presidential Candidate of the Convention People’s Party (CPP) Dr Michael Abu Sakara Foster has announced his intention to contest this year’s presidential elections as an independent candidate.

This was contained in a statement issued from his office.

Dated 6th January, 2016, the statement said the agricultural economist wants to give Ghanaians an alternative to the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

“For the moment the traditional route of political parties will only produce more of the same, lone and weak voices in the wilderness of self righteousness,” the statement emphasised.

Dr Sakara indicated in the statement that his decision comes “after months of contemplation and consultation with my close advisors, supporters and other well meaning Ghanaians from all walks of life”.

It is unclear what might have triggered this move as Dr Sakara was expected to contest the likes of Samia Yaba Nkrumah in the Convention People’s Party (CPP) primaries.

The decision by Dr Sakara is the second fate to befall the CPP regarding a former presidential candidate after its 2008 presidential candidate, Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom, seceded from the party to form the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) in 2012.

Dr Sakara, who run as Dr Nduom’s mate in 2008, may have had similar reasons for his decision.

“During this period I also sought the best cause of action to help build the party to which I belonged around the core principles and values that drew me to it,” he explains.

“Alas the attitudes, conduct and misplaced priorities that still dominate decision making in the party has left me convinced that my resources, energy and talent can be put to more productive purpose as an independent Presidential Candidate.”

He, however, wished the CPP well.

Dr Sakara is expected in the coming days to make known his plans towards the elections.

Source: tv3network.com

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06/Jan/2016

NPP calls for immediate reverse of petroleum prices

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) has described as “unjustified” the recent hike in petroleum prices, calling for a reverse of the decision.

Following the passing of the Energy Sector Levy bill, petroleum prices saw increases between 18 per cent and 27 per cent from January 1, 2016.

The opposition party in a statement signed by Nana Akomea, the Communications Director, said the move by government is “callous, wicked, insensitive and lazy”.

Find the full unedited statement below:

NPP CALLS FOR URGENT AND IMMEDIATE REVIEW OF THE PETROLEUM PRICE

The New Patriotic  Party  (NPP)  urges the government  to immediately  reverse  or review the imposition of  a 27% hike on petroleum products which has seen the price of petrol increase from ghc 12  to over ghc15 a gallon, effective  January  1st 2016. The 27% increase is completely unjustified.  

There are two main determinants of petrol prices: the cedi exchange rate and the price of crude oil. The price of the  cedi exchange rate has been relatively stable, at Ghc3.85, in the  last few months. The price of crude oil  HAS ACTUALLY FALLEN STEEPLY,  from $110 in mid 2014 to $37 today. 

By operation of the automatic petrol price adjustment formula, petrol should  be  selling  at about ghc9 a gallon. Indeed the trend all over the world, including  in the rich countries) has been drastic falls in petrol prices. It is therefore totally baffling that in Ghana, the ndc government has not seen it fit to reduce the price of petroleum products to bring  much needed  relief to  the Ghanaian consumer,  but has ACTUALLY increased the price of petrol by a whopping  27%,  from Ghc 12 a gallon to  nearly ghc16  a gallon.

In effect, the poor consumer does not get the well deserved relief in petrol price, but is actually punished by the government  of ndc by imposition  of higher prices for petrol.

Furthermore, over the  last month  or so, the NDC government has imposed at once,  a  60% increase in tariffs for electricity,  a 67% rise in water tariffs and a 27% rise in petrol price, on the long suffering Ghanaian. 

All these unbearable increases have come on the  back of only a 10% provision  for increment in workers' wages and salaries.

The increases therefore show a callous, wicked,  insensitive and lazy government which quickly, time and again, resorts to using state power to  financially squeeze the poor  Ghanaian consumer. 
Apart from the poor Ghanaian having to eke out to  pay directly the 60%, 67% and 27% increases, the poor taxpayer will still be confronted to eke out further to pay increases in trotro fares, bus fares, school fees, sachet  water,  kenkey,  rent, and for food etc. Businesses  are going to suffer from increases in operating costs, losses in profit and further limiting their ability to expand and create jobs for the  teeming unemployed youth. 

It must be noted that the ndc government has removed all subsidies on petrol prices  by  its operation of  the automatic petrol pricing formula. So when the prices of oil or the dollar increase,  the effect of petrol price  increase has been passed on without  any cushion to the Ghanaian consumer.  But when the price of oil has fallen to its lowest  level in 7 years , the ndc govt has not allowed  the automatic reduction in petrol  price, as per the formula, but has rather imposed new and increased taxes to rather raise the  price of petrol by this whooping 27%.

These taxes, imposed under a certificate of urgency,  include taxes on Ghanaians for a so called " legacy debt"( or Energy Debt Recovery Levy), another Energy Fund Levy, a Price Stabilisation and Recovery Levy, a National  Electrification  Scheme Levy , dramatic increases in the  Road Fund  Levy and the Public Lighting Levy !

The preponderance of these taxes and  levies at this time,  in the face of the steep increases in water and electricity tariffs, portray a very uncaring and wicked government,  whose main policy is to impose higher and new taxes on the  long suffering  Ghanaian,  even in  the  face of poor growth in the economy. These government imposed hardships are unfortunate.  

The NPP urges the govt to revisit this issue,  and review the taxes urgently to relieve  the  poor Ghanaian.  The suffering of the people is too much!

Signed

Nana Akomea

Communications Director

Source: tv3network.com

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06/Jan/2016

Ghana’s Parliament is ‘useless’ – law expert

A constitutional law expert, Professor Henry Kwesi Prempeh has taken a swipe at the country’s legislature over its inability to seek the interest of the people in its work.

Commenting on the latest astronomical fuel price increase in the wake of falling crude oil prices, Prof. Prempeh suggested the country’s parliament has become an appendage of the Executive because it has been reduced to merely approving what is presented to it by the government.

“We don't have a parliament; we have two branches of the executive, one for proposing laws and taxes and loans; the other for dutifully approving them,” he stated in a Facebook post.

Prof. Prempeh was equally not happy about comments made by the Chairman of the Finance committee of Parliament, James Klutse Avedzi, to the effect that those who cannot afford the increment should park their private cars and board commercial cars.

Mr. Avedzi who is the Member of Parliament for Ketu North, said on Tuesday: “In UK, not everyone has a car. Many use public transport. Even if we charge 30% on fuel and you can’t pay just park your car. Once you want to use your private car, then you have to pay,”

But this, Prof. Prempeh finds distasteful. “The Chairman of the Finance committee of Parliament, siding with our tax-and-waste government instead of We the People, has told Ghanaians who think the tax-heavy price of petrol is unbearable to park their cars and walk or get on our non-existent London public transportation,” he adds

That notwithstanding, he said he won't be surprised to see Mr. Avedzi re-elected in this year’s polls, saying “But he is sure to get re-elected; no wonder he has little incentive to use his position as MP to represent the interest and concerns of We the People, rather than of the government”.

Prof. Prempeh said as long as the country’s elected and appointed public officials are provided free petrol “for both their official and their private/household use,” they will continue to not feel the pain of ordinary Ghanaians when it comes to things like petroleum pricing (taxation).

The passage of the Energy Sector Levy (ESL) by Parliament last December has caused petroleum prices to go up between 22 and 27 per cent at the pumps; something that has triggered criticism from the public.

Source: tv3network.com

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06/Jan/2016

US Election 2016: Donald Trump questions whether Cruz can be president

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has questioned whether rival candidate Ted Cruz is eligible to become his party's nominee because he was born in Canada.

Mr Trump called it a "very precarious" issue for the party and said that Mr Cruz's nomination could be challenged in court.

Mr Cruz was born in Calgary to an American mother and a Cuban father.

Most legal experts believe Mr Cruz meets the requirements to be president.

The Cruz campaign responded by saying Mr Trump had "jumped the shark" - a pop culture reference to when a TV show or fad has overreached and fallen into decline.

The Texas senator is performing well in polling in the early voting state of Iowa. While Mr Trump leads most polls, several surveys show Mr Cruz is the top choice of likely Republican voters.


Candidates for US president must:

  • be a "natural born citizen" - interpreted as being born in the US or having one parent who is a US citizen
  • be 35 years of age or older
  • live in the US for the past 14 years

Much of Mr Trump's support comes from independents, disillusioned Democrats and people who have never voted before.

Some analysts are predicting that Mr Cruz will win because of how the voting process is structured in Iowa.

The caucus format requires more time and dedication from voters than a typical US primary election.

Before Mr Trump became a presidential candidate, the New York businessman had repeatedly questioned President Barack Obama's citizenship.

Mr Obama was born in Hawaii to an American mother and a Kenyan father.

Authorities in Hawaii and Mr Obama both provided detailed birth records after some conservatives such as Mr Trump questioned where he was born.

Mr Obama's allies have said the "birther" movement was a racist effort to discredit the county's first black president.

Source: bbc.com

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06/Jan/2016

Rejection of new voters’ register: EC must be prepared to bear the heat – NPP

Director of Elections for the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Martin Agyei Mensah Korsah, has said the rejection of calls for a new voters’ register by the Electoral Commission (EC) is not surprising because all their actions pointed to the fact they (EC) were not ready for one.

However, he has cautioned the EC to be prepared for the heat that will accompany the decision they’ve taken.

“Deliberately, when you (referring to the Chairperson of the EC, Charlotte Osei) are doing the planned election activities for the year, you managed to think of a possible run-off of the election but the register that you are going to use for the election, you never made room for the budget of a new voters register but you managed to project for a possible a run-off. All these happened three weeks to the final report.”

“Why didn’t you make room for a possible new voters’ register? At no point was the EC ready for a new voters’ register. So, if you look at what has happened so far – both the approach and the actual work and where we are, it is not surprising,” he said in an interview with Fiifi Banson on Kasapa 102.3 FM Monday.

The EC on the eve of the New Year, announced the outright rejection of the call for a new voters’ register, noting that the argument for the call was not convincing.

Instead, the Commission said it “will continue to engage stakeholders to ensure that a clean and credible voters’ register is in place for the 2016 general elections through an inclusive and collaborative audit process.”

But Mr. Korsah said what is more worrying was the failure on the part of the EC to give details as to how they are going to clean the current voters’ register which the NPP and some other political parties as well as civil society organizations are contending is bloated.

“So, how are you going to do the so called cleaning that you are talking about ten months to elections, you are joking. You want to take this country for a ride and if we are not careful, you will take us into a ditch and nobody returns.”

“This is very dangerous. If this is the very voters register that they have decided to use for the general elections – then they will get what they want. I don’t see the point.”

He said the party would in the coming days announce to Ghanaians about their stance on the position taken by the EC as far as the call for a new voters’ register is concerned.

Source: Kasapafmonline.com/Ghana

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05/Jan/2016

Mahama will lose 2016 elections with or without new voters register – PPP

The Progressive People’s Party(PPP) is contending that the ruling National Democratic Congress(NDC) cannot succeed in suppressing the will of the people ahead of the 2016 elections by dismissing the call for a new voters register.

“It was a predetermined committee formed by the EC, no wonder they came up with such decision. But the point is when the people say they don’t need you, there is nothing you can do to change that;John Mahama will lose the 2016 elections with or without a new voters register, a member of the Communications team of the Party, Charles Owusu told Fiifi Banson on Anopa Kasapa on Kasapa 102.3 FM Monday.

The Electoral Commission has shot down the NPP’s demand for a new voters register ahead of the 2016 general elections, describing as unconvincing the arguments put for the claim of a fresh register.

It said given the problems highlighted by the opposition NPP regarding the current register,it will be preferable to continue engaging stakeholders to ensure a clean and credible voters’ register is in place for the 2016 general elections through an inclusive and collaborative audit process.

But Charles Owusu maintained that the EC’s posture before hand, suggested that they were in bed with the ruling government, insisting that the Electoral body’s position taken won’t make a difference in what Ghanaians have decided on, come November 2016.

The Electoral Commission can even decide to open the borders during election period and allow Togolese and Burkinabes to vote,… John Mahama will still lose 2016 elections”

Source: Kasapafmonline.com/Ghana

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05/Jan/2016

Tetegu elders angry at NPP’s Tina Mensah

The traditional elders of old Tetegu in the Weija-Gbawe constituency are angry at the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Parliamentary candidate for the area, Tina Mensah, for throwing tantrums on radio about their needs.

The Obuobia Foundation and the African Toilette Foundation last month cut the sod for the construction of a 20-seater water closet toilet facility for the people of Tetegu which is expected to be completed by February, 2016.

However, speaking on Kasapa FM’s afternoon political program ‘Si Me So’, Madam Tina Mensah asserted the people of Tetegu do not need a toilet facility but rather a water project.

Her comment has therefore infuriated  the elders and youth of the town claiming they already have a water project in existence and needed a toilet facility to halt the open defecation exhibited by the inhabitants.

In an interview with Kasapa FM’s Maame Broni, the linguist of old Tetegu, Livingston Atukpa noted that, the elders have had no meeting with Tina Mensah concerning their needs neither do they know the said NPP candidate.

“I was scandalized when she propagated such an untruth on radio and want her to spill out which of the elders she spoke to about our needs. Has she ever met any of us? We don’t even know who the Tina Mensah is though we have heard her name.” he said.

On behalf of the youth, Mawoenyega Atukpa sounded a warning to Tina Mensah not to stampede their development if she wouldn’t help the town.
Checks by Kasapa FM’s Maame Broni show the over 2000 populated town has only one toilet facility belonging to an individual and the citizenry not able to pay for its usage have resorted to open defecation. Right behind the linguist’s house is an illegal refuse dump which also serves as toilet in the open for the people and demands a careful walking style to avoid one stepping into a fecal matter.

Source: Kasapafmonline.com/Ghana

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05/Jan/2016

I won’t be the cause of violence in Ghana – Mahama pledges

President John Dramani Mahama has assured Ghanaians of his government’s commitment to ensure credible and peaceful elections to consolidate the country’s democratic credentials.

He has therefore pledged not to be the cause of any political violence in the country.

“Nobody – none of us politicians is greater than Ghana. And so, none of us has the right to weed violence on this country and I hope that is the pledge all of us in the political circles will adapt”, he noted.

President Mahama was speaking at this year’s celebration of ‘Mawulid’ to commemorate the birth of the Holy Prophet Mohammed at Fadama, a suburb of Accra last Sunday.

The event was under the theme “Democracy in a Peaceful Atmosphere”.

Commenting further, he entreated the youth to be wary of the use of the internet and avoid extremist groups that are using to the facility to train and radicalize the vulnerable in society.

“Some of the doctrinal face that preaches violence against fellow human beings are suing the internet as a means of radicalizing young growing minds to accept that doctrine of violence. And so, it is our duty to look out for the signs of radicalization”.

He told the gathering that he is for peace and will forever remain committed to the peace that he has been preaching about over the years.

The National Chief Imam, Sheikh Dr. Nuhu Ousman Shaributu in his address called on political leaders to practice democracy in a peaceful atmosphere.

Source: Kasapafmonline.com/Ghana

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05/Jan/2016

NPP’s claims on voters register untenable – CODEC

Pressure group, Coalition for the Defence of Equal Citizenship (CODEC) has hailed the Electoral Commission for its decision not to compile a fresh voters register ahead of the 2016 elections.

A statement issued and signed by Godwin Edudzi Tameklo, Convener of CODEC said “we at CODEC were very convinced from the very beginning that the allegations made by the NPP through its surrogates groups and other civil society groups definitely did not warrant the complete overhaul of the electoral register.”

It said: “the NPP was fraudulent in its attempt at presenting what it calls evidence to the Electoral Commission. Information reaching us indicates that Burkina Faso’s Electoral Register had no photos and therefore it is impossible to use any facial recognition software to cross-reference subjects.”

It commended the EC for remaining resolute in the pressure by the opposition NPP regarding the voter register brouhaha, and ensuring that facts and proper logical thinking were made to stand at the long run.

The Electoral Commission last week shot down the NPP’s demand for a new voters register ahead of the 2016 general elections, describing as unconvincing the arguments put for the claim of a fresh register.

It said given the problems highlighted by the opposition NPP regarding the current register,it will be preferable to continue engaging stakeholders to ensure a clean and credible voters’ register is in place for the 2016 general elections through an inclusive and collaborative audit process.

Read the full statement by CODEC

CODEC CONGRATULATES THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION FOR ITS CONDUCT IN THE YEAR 2015 AND CALLS FOR THE SUPPORT OF NATIONAL INTEREST OVER PAROCHIAL POLITICAL POLEMICS

CODEC will like to take this unique occasion of the celebration of the New Year to congratulate the Electoral Commission for a good job done in the year 2015 and to wish all Ghanaians a Happy and Prosperous 2016.

On the democratic front, the rash and unjustified attempt to undermine the democratic institutions that form the pillars of the 1992 constitution increased its crescendo to a very alarming degree in the year 2015 and that is quite worrying.

This manifested in hasty attempts by some political activists and civil society groups to literally wash away the reputation of our Electoral Commission and its commitment towards organizing free and fair elections.

From unjustified attacks of the Commission’s performance right down to our current Electoral Register which was biometrically generated we saw the dark hand of destruction at work.

An attempt was made to hoodwink the Electoral Commission and swindle a good number of Ghanaians in the court of public opinion but once again just as the electoral petition presented to the Supreme Court in 2013, the arguments were finally deemed as baseless and highly untenable.

In all these the EC had stayed resolute ensuring that facts and proper logical thinking reigned supreme over emotional outbursts and illogical conclusions which could derail our democratic process and lead to needless expenditure on the limited resourced obtained from the taxpayer.

We at CODEC were very convinced from the very beginning that the allegations made by the NPP through its surrogates groups and other civil society groups definitely did not warrant the complete overhaul of the electoral register.

We also believe as many other Ghanaians and right-thinking civil society groups that the mechanisms inherent within the provisions of the Electoral Law and operations of the EC has the cleansing effect to continuously clean our register.

We would also like to posit that the NPP was fraudulent in its attempt at presenting what it calls evidence to the Electoral Commission. Information reaching us indicates that Burkina Faso’s Electoral Register had no photos and therefore it is impossible to use any facial recognition software to cross-reference subjects.

Their Togo register argument was also very erroneous. We would therefore want to ask the EC to publish copies of their petition with its addenda to prove otherwise.

We would however want to advice those who have made it their duty to attack the EC and weaken its resolve to be independent to remember that our national interest must not be made to pander to the parochial interest of one group or another.

With these few words we will like to set the tone in 2016 towards ensuring our National Security is made steadfast in the year 2016. We will also want to call on all other institutions to perform their mandated constitutional roles even as we approach the crucial time of the 2016 General Elections.

There is no need to fear, or panic; Ghana truly being the shining example on the African continent will definitely have a very uneventful political campaigning period and peaceful elections. We just have to do our part as citizens and governing institutions.

May the new year bring in its wake a sense of national pride and commitment towards protecting our democratic institutions and may all Ghanaians put Ghana first before everything else.
Happy New Year.

Signed.
Godwin Edudzi Kudzo Tameklo
(Convener –
4th January, 2016.

Ali Dawud
(Director of Operations

Jude Atuahene
(Education Coordinator –

 

Source: Kasapafmonline.com/Ghana

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05/Jan/2016

Voters’ register: NPP must accept EC decision – NDC

The Deputy General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress Koku Anyidoho has urged the largest opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) to accept the decision of the Electoral Commission on the call for a new voters’ register.

The NPP has led the course for the compilation of a new voters’ register claiming that the register used for the 2012 election was fraught with anomalies which renders the electoral roll not credible.

The EC constituted an Independent Panel to look into the concerns of the NPP and other like-minded groups on the Voters’ Register but the panel shot down the NPP’s proposal.

In a statement the EC said “The Electoral Commission will continue to engage stakeholders to ensure that a clean and credible voters’ register is in place for the 2016 general elections through an inclusive and collaborative audit process.”

“The Panel finds the arguments for a new register unconvincing and therefore does not recommend the replacement of the current voters’ register,” the statement added.

Speaking to Fiifi Banson on Anopa Kasapa Monday, Koku Anyidoho commended the EC for making such a bold decision to decline calls for a new voters’ register.

“We all know that what the NPP were doing was much ado about nothing… the EC has spoken and we respect the decision. We all saw Mac Manu at the EC forum, he failed to make a convincing presentation on why there should be a new register. We thank God that this decision has come very early in the year, it will allow us to focus on other issues”

Source: Kasapafmonline.com/Ghana

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05/Jan/2016

Voter’s Register: EC leading Ghana into a ditch – NPP

The Director of Elections of the New Patriotic Party Martin Agyei Mensah Korsah has accused the Electoral Commission of leading Ghana into a ditch following its decision on the voters register.

He said though the EC has rejected suggestions for a new register and instead opted for an audit, the electoral body has no idea how to clean the register.

The Electoral Commission has declined requests for a new voters’ register based on the recommendations of a five-member panel put together to review concerns raised against the register the New Patriotic Party.

However speaking to Fiifi Banson on Kasapa FM Monday in response to the matter, Martin Agyei Mensah Korsah stated that the EC by its actions may foment trouble going into the elections.

“If we are not careful they (EC) will take us into a ditch where we cannot return…whatever they want, they will have it”.

“They are claiming that we rather clean the register but did not indicate how to go about it. Clearly, they have no idea how that cleaning is going to be done. I challenge Charlotte Osei to tell Ghanaians how they’re going to do this. We’re not surprised about the stance taken by the EC as we knew they were not going to do differently from what they have done.”

He, nonetheless, noted that the NPP will come out with its official position on the matter as the party is still studying the response submitted by the EC.

Source: Kasapafmonline.com/Ghana

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05/Jan/2016

FULL TEXT: What the NPP wrote to the EC on Voters Register & Their Reply

December 30, 2015
The General-Secretary
The New Patriotic Party
Head office, Accra.

Dear Sir,

REQUESTS FROM THE NEW PATRIOTIC PARTY FOR A NEW REGISTER

Please find below a recap of the main points made in your letters and submissions; the chronology of relevant events since the receipt of the first letter; and the responses of the Electoral Commission to each of the issues raised by your Party. On the 25th of July, 2015 your Party supported her request for a new voters’ register with the following allegations:

1. That the case of Abu Ramadan and Another vs Electoral Commission and Attorney General disallowed the use of National Health
Insurance Authority (NHIA) Identification Cards as proof of qualification to register, making the use of same for that purpose unconstitutional, void and of no effect.
2. That the EC has refused to undertake proper auditing and comprehensive de-duplication of the 2012 biometric register with the required transparency which stakeholders demanded.

3. That there is disparity in the total number of registered voters provided by the EC at different times during the 2012 election cycle.
4. That analysis of the 2010 population census and the 2012 biometric registration reveal several districts where the number of registered voters is in excess of the total population census figure for those districts.

5. That the 2012 register has a voter population that is 56.2% of the total population of Ghana, which is exceedingly high and unrealistic compared to other African countries.
6. That there are several calls by CSOs and FBOs raising doubts about the credibility of the register used for the 2012 national polls.
A further Petition received on August 18, 2015 contained the
following additional allegations:

1. That there are 76,000 Togolese nationals onGhana’s voters’ register.
2. That the Register contains pictures that have been edited.
3. That about 900 names on an entire polling station contain pictures scanned into system as evidenced by staple marks.
At an Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meeting held on August 21, 2015, it was agreed by all parties that due to District Level Elections scheduled for September 1, 2015 and the need to hear all stakeholders on the voters’ Register, all interested Parties were to submit their position on the Register by September 22, 2015. Petitions were received from thirty-four stakeholders (including sixteen political parties and many CSOs and citizens of Ghana) and were duly considered and circulated subsequently at the Forum.
On the September 22, 2015 another petition was received from your Party with the following further and additional
allegations:
1. That there are 2096 multiple registrations on the Register, involving:
a. cases of double and multiple registrations with multiple photographs;
b. double and multiple registrations with multiple voter ID numbers;
c. same registration details and photographs in different Polling Stations. On September 22, 2015 the EC announced the setting up of an Independent Panel of Eminent Ghanaians to evaluate all submissions received and examine all allegations arising
therefrom.

On September 30, 2015 the IPAC meeting agreed to hold a public forum on the 29th and 30th October, 2015 in order to
publicly address the issues concerning the Register. The Public Forum, held in the form of a public hearing, was successfully undertaken on those dates.
At the Forum, and on October 29, 2015, your Party made the following additional allegations:
1. That there are Minors, with age zero on the Register; and
2. That there are no residential addresses provided on the Register.
In addition, on October 3, 2015, with donor support, the Electoral Commission procured the services of an independent consultant to examine the Biometric Voters Register. October 19, 2015 the Commission wrote to the NPP to request for a copy of the Togolese register and the Shikakope Register used in the analysis contained in their petition of August 18,2015.
Again, on 6 November 2015, the Commission received a response from the NPP submitting a soft copy of the Togo register and the Shikakope register dated September 1, 2015. The Commission again wrote to the Togolese EC on November 10, 2015, requesting a copy of the Togolese register for examination.

The Commission again on November 11, 2015 wrote to the NPP seeking clarification from the NPP on the Shikakope Register dated September 1, 2015 which was the basis for the petition of 18 August, 2015 and further requested for an update on the analysis of Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso registers as stated in the NPP petition of August 18, 2015. In a meeting on November 18, 2015 with officials of the NPP, the party clarified the register used for the Shikakope analysis and further confirmed that there was no further update on theanalysis on the Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire registers.

On November 21, 2015, a second version of the Shikakope register was submitted by the NPP. The EC on November 24, 2015 submitted another request to the Togolese EC for verification of the Togolese register
provided by the NPP.

On November 27, 2015, the EC received a response from the Togo EC stating that they were unable to confirm the authenticity of the register submitted by the NPP as the Togolese register is a security document containing the private
information of Togolese citizens. Finally, on December 15, 2015, the EC received the final report from the Consultant on the Independent Review of the Biometric Voters’ Register and on December 21, 2015, the final report from the independent panel of Eminent Ghanaians set up to look into the issue.
Following the receipt of the report of the Panel, the EC informed IPAC on December 22, 2015 of the receipt of the
report and requested time to study the report and revert to IPAC and the general public on the Commission’s position
and the contents of the Panel’s report.

EC RESPONSE AND OUTCOME OF INVESTIGATIONS INTO CLAIMS AND ALLEGATIONS MADE BY THE NPP
Allegation 1: Abu Ramadan and Anor vs Electoral Commission & Attorney General disallowed the use of NHIA cards as proof of qualification to register making the use of same for that purpose unconstitutional, void and of no effect.
EC position:
In the Abu Ramadan case, the Supreme Court ruled that the use of NHIA cards, in their current form, was insufficient as proof of citizenship and consequently, the Electoral Commission (EC) was directed to stop accepting same as proof of citizenship for voter registration exercises. Nowhere in the ruling did the Supreme court nullify all registrations by voters who presented NHIA cards as proof of citizenship. The Court in the course of the proceedings, declined the plaintiff’s request to cancel all such registrations. The EC shares the view of the SC that it would be fair and proper for all such persons to also be heard prior to the invalidation of their registration. The view of the EC is therefore that the Abu Ramadan ruling cannot be the basis for the creation of a new register. The
current challenge procedures under CI 72 are sufficient to deal with all registered voters who presented NHIA cards as proof of citizenship. Such voters must also be given the opportunity to present additional proof of citizenship if available, before
they are struck off the register.

Allegation 2: EC has refused to undertake proper auditing and comprehensive de-duplication of the 2012 biometric register with the required transparency which stakeholders demanded.
EC position:
Guided by the need for stakeholder cooperation and support, the EC compiled the Biometric Register with extensive interactions with the political parties. Discussions covered issues of procurement, field operations and the exhibition of the register throughout 2011 and 2012. Political parties provided representation on the technical and legal committees that considered and drafted the appropriate laws for the registration and the verification of voters. The EC displayed the Provisional Voters Register (PVR) in all registration centers after the mass registration in 2012 and in 2014 after the limited registration, to offer voters and persons qualified to be registered the opportunity to:
• Verify particulars
• Object to ineligible names in the PVR.
Additional to the verification of voters, Stakeholders (Politica lParties)
• participated in adjudication of registration challenges through the district registration review committee
• participated in adjudication of suspected cases of multiple registrations after de-duplication
• objected against inclusion of names in the register during exhibition of the PVR.
After the 2012 elections, the software has also been upgraded to ensure de-duplication using the biometric data as well as biographic data of voters. Accordingly, it is the view of the EC, that working with the political parties, the register has been progressively updated and de-duplicated since 2012. Over 150,000 names have been removed and the EC will continue to work with the political parties and all stakeholders to clean the register and undertake further de-duplication. The allegation by the NPP is therefore inaccurate.
Allegation 3: Disparity in the total number of registered voters provided by the EC at different times during the 2012 election cycle.
EC position:

The process of compiling the voters’ register is divided into 4 stages;
• Stage 1: Collection of biographic data (using polling stations as registration centers)
• Stage 2: Compilation of the Provisional Voters Register (PVR) from collected data
• Stage 3: Exhibition of the PVR (for scrutiny, correction of personal details, inclusions and objections)
• Stage 4: Production of the Final Voters Register (after corrections arising from the exhibition). This clearly means that until all the stages have been completed, all figures related to the register are provisional. In many cases the stages overlap due to the duration of adjudication of challenges and objections after registration (stage 1) and Exhibition (stage3). Indeed in a few cases requests are made for inclusion just before the production of the PVR and being mindful of the ruling of the Tehn Addy case, the Commission usually takes action on requests when possible. The practice is to provide information on the voter numbers, as the EC goes through the various stages, to the political parties. In the case of the compilation of the 2012 Biometric Voter Register the process was as follows;
Stage 1:
In a briefing to Parliament after collecting the biographic data of applicants’ in the mass registration, the Chairman of the EC reported the results of the registration as follows;
i) Mass registration (4 phases) 24th March – 5th
May 2012
PHASE TOTAL
1 4,817,561
2 3,710,076
3 2,871,530
4 2,229,650
Total 13,628,817
ii) Registration of Prisoners
REGION      # of INMATES               REGISTERED
Western          1,268                              28
Central              1,687                           35
Greater Accra      352                            36
Volta               &nb