• GAMBIA: Hope for peaceful resolution in sight as JAMMEH sends powerful message to ECOWAS leaders, to make STATEMENT soon

    16/Jan/2017 // 3183 Viewers

     

    Gambian president Yahya Jammeh on Sunday placed a call to Liberian president and chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, to help facilitate the release of judges to sit on the election petition filed by his party.

    The four-minute video that showed Jammeh appealing to Sirleaf to help Gambians to use the courts to peacefully resolve the political impasse arising from the December 1 polls.

    Transcript of Jammeh’s call to Sirleaf

    Sirleaf: Yeah, you wanted to talk to me again.
    Jammeh: With regards to our last meeting when you came here, I want to request your assistance as the chairperson of the ECOWAS authority of Heads of State. To help us resolve this impasse peacefully through the courts.

    I hereby request you for ECOWAS to facilitate the release of the judges so that they can come and help us resolve constitutionally (through the constitution of the Gambia). As I said, the only peaceful resolution of this impasse is through the courts.

    Everything that we are doing is based on the constitution of the Republic of the Gambia and an application has also been filed at the Supreme Court of the Gambia for an injunction to restrain Adama Barrow from being sworn-in, as well as restrain the Chief Justice and any other party from swearing-in Adama Barrow into office until this application is decided either way or the status quo must remain.

    That is until such a time that the Supreme Court has made a decision on this, the status quo cannot change. But under the constitution of the Gambia, the so-called 19 of January is not cast in stone as we have an injunction in the court and we have a problem with our election.

    All parties should await the outcome of the Supreme Court which will be the only legal entity to thrash out this case, once and for all. I want to assure you that whatever we want to do will be based on the constitution of the Gambia.

    And as we discussed that all must pass through the constitution of the Gambia which is the supreme authority. So I once again renew my request for you as the chair to request for the ECOWAS to facilitate the coming of the judges so that they can hear this case as soon as possible.

    Sirleaf: Okay Mr President, so like I told you when we talk before, I am going to work on this right away. I am going to consult with all the mediating teams and tell them what you have said. Like I told you before, it will be a good idea if you just put out a statement. 
    Jammeh: Yes

    Sirleaf: As we agreed before, just a short statement coming from you, that will be very important to the mediation team, coming from you making a request to the ECOWAS body that you only want peace and you are going to follow the constitution.

    There is an infraction, the will please find and get the judges for you and a court decision must be the way to go. A small statement like that will make everybody comfortable. Then we can move on and encourage Nigeria and other people to get the justices to come there.
    Jammeh: I promise you I’m going to do it today, and I am going to do it today my sister.

    Sirleaf: Alright
    Jammeh: You have my word for it.

    Sirleaf: Thank you so much
    Jammeh: Thank you so much, all the best

    Sirleaf: Thank you, thank you for helping us to all find peace, Gambia needs peace, ECOWAS wants peace. 
    Jammeh: Insha Allah, I guarantee you that by the grace of Allah we will work for a peaceful resolution.

    The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) declared Adama Barrow – an opposition coalition candidate as winner of the polls. Barrow is currently in Senegal and will fly in on Thursday january 19 to be sworn-in as president.

    Jammeh has applied for an injunction to be placed on the swearing in. An earlier court case on the validity of the polls could not be heard because of lack of judges.

    Gambia often imports judges from fellow West African countries especially from Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Its current Chief Justice is a Nigerian, Emmanuel Fagbenle


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  • Gambia: President ADAMA BARROW's major overhaul of country’s political system suffers setback ahead of April poll

    16/Mar/2017 // 1146 Viewers

     

    The Gambia’s ruling coalition has broken apart ahead of a parliamentary poll next month, dealing a blow to new President Adama Barrow as he overhauls the country’s political system following his shock election victory.

    Nine political parties will run separately in the April 6 election, seven of which had united last December to oust veteran leader Yahya Jammeh, who ruled the tiny west African nation with an iron fist for 22 years.

    Barrow had promised in January following his surprise defeat of Jammeh that the coalition would “continue as a family”.
    But documents issued by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) on Monday showed that 239 candidates will stand in April, representing nine separate organisations, with some running as independents.

    The national assembly was long seen as a rubber stamp for Jammeh’s executive decrees, but the new president has promised to work in tandem with lawmakers, notably on constitutional reform in the former British colony.

    The coalition split is likely to embolden Jammeh’s Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC), which remains a major force in Gambian politics although the former president is now in exile in Equatorial Guinea.

    The APRC took 43 of the 48 seats contested during the last parliamentary election in 2012, which was boycotted by the vast majority of opposition parties.

    Five seats are also appointed by the president to give an overall 53 seats.

    Barrow had barely finished putting his cabinet together before disagreements broke out last week over the poll, with one senior government source warning at the time that talks for an ongoing alliance were close to collapse.

    Disagreements over representation and allocation of seats had caused tensions, the source said.

    Barrow was formerly a member of the United Democratic Party (UDP), the largest opposition grouping in the Jammeh era, but resigned to run as the coalition candidate.

    Campaign for the poll begins on Wednesday and ends on April 4.


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  • “Angel’ shows up in church

    16/Oct/2016 // 921 Viewers

     

    A strange image of a perceived supernatural being believed to be an angel has been captured on camera during a church service by the Arjarquah Ministries in the Eastern region.

    The picture has subsequently gone viral on social media in particular, on the walls of some powerful men of God including Prophet Kofi Danso, a Canadian-based Ghanaian Prophet, who ministered at the interdenominational service when the incident took place, at the Koforidua Center for National Culture .

    Starr News understands several miracles were recorded during the revival program.

    According to reports, a female church member who was supposedly filled by the Holy Spirit during the service, saw the strange image on the walls of the auditorium at the time the service had closed around 12:30am and took the pictures after zooming in with her phone.

    Angel in ghana


    The strange being was captured on phone after the church service
    The image then disappeared before she could prompt the ushers who were praying nearby after the service.

    The leader of the church reportedly announced the wonderful sighting to the congregation in church the following day.

    Scores of politicians, musicians and radio personalities including Black Rasta have been attending the program for spiritual impartation.

    Credit:GHANABreakingnews


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  • Danger Alert! Swiss firms dump dirty fuel in Nigeria, other West African countries

    16/Sep/2016 // 1316 Viewers

     

    Swiss trading companies are blending and dumping dirty fuel in Nigeria and other West African countries with more than 100 per cent toxic (sulphur) levels allowed in Europe, causing health and environmental hazards, according to a report.

    The report, “Dirty Diesel” from Swiss, watchdog group, Public Eye, said the companies are taking advantage of weak African regulatory standards to use cheap and dirty additives to create what’s called “African Quality” fuels.

    Senegal and Ghana are the other countries mentioned in the report. Vitol, Trafigura, Addax & Oryx and Lynx Energy have been named because they are shareholders of the fuel retailers. The practice is not illegal. The report quotes Swiss trading giants, Oryx, Trafigura and Vitol as noting that the blends met standards in the importing countries, with the largest amounts going to Nigeria, Senegal and Ghana. They said they have no vested interest in keeping sulphur levels higher than they need to be.

    But Public Eye accused the companies of lowering a fuel’s quality to just above a country’s legal limits to maximise profits by adding toxic products known to cause respiratory diseases.

    Although this is within the limits set by national governments, the sulphur contained in the fumes from the diesel fuel could increase respiratory illnesses like asthma and bronchitis in affected countries, health experts said.

    The picture is changing but there are still several African countries that allow diesel to have a sulphur content of more than 2,000 parts per million (ppm), with some allowing more than 5,000ppm, whereas the European standard is less than 10ppm.

    Rob de Jong from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) told the BBC that there was a lack of awareness among some policy makers about the significance of the sulphur content. For a long time, countries relied on colonial-era standards, which have only been revised in recent years.

    Another issue is that in the countries where there are refineries, these are unable, for technical reasons, to reduce the sulphur levels to the standard acceptable in Europe. This means that the regulatory standard is kept at the level the refineries can operate at.

    Some governments are also worried that cleaner diesel would be more expensive, therefore, pushing up the price of transport. But De Jong argued that the difference was minimal and oil price fluctuations were much more significant in determining the diesel price.

    The sulphur particles emitted by a diesel engine are considered to be a major contributor to air pollution, which the World Health Organisation (WHO) ranks as one of the top global health risks.
    It is associated with heart disease, lung cancer and respiratory problems.

    WHO said that pollution is particularly bad in low and middle income countries. Reducing the sulphur content in diesel would go some way to reducing the risk that air pollution poses.

    Meanwhile, Deputy Director, Public Affairs, at the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Dorothy Bassey told Daily Sun in a telephone interview that there is no cause for alarm as all petroleum products are tested before entering the shores of the country. According to her, any product or products that fail the specification test are sent back to the country of origin.

    ‘’But if by error of omission or commission any product/s that fall short of the required specification find their way into the country, the importer of such products will be severely sanctioned,’’ she said.
    On his part, the  NNPC spokesman, Mr. Mohammed Garbadeen, said that, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) will not deliberately import toxic fuel into the country.


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  • As Gambians lose fear, President JAMMEH's isolation grows

    17/Dec/2016 // 1814 Viewers

     

    (BANJUL) : Lawyers, trade unions, teachers and journalists have joined a growing chorus of demands for Gambian President Yahya Jammeh to accept his defeat in a Dec. 1 election, as people lose their fear of the man who has ruled them for the past 22 years.
     
    As lawyers prepared to attend a meeting of the Gambian Bar Association on Monday, the intelligence service rang them with threats and monitored the ritzy Coco Ocean Hotel where they gathered, said the association's Secretary General Aziz Bensouda.
     
    But since the shock opposition victory that brought Gambians out on the streets of the capital Banjul in boisterous celebration, the familiar menacing tactics have lost their usual effectiveness.
     
    "The intimidation did not work," said Bensouda. "At the end, no one feared anything."
     
    After first conceding defeat to little-known challenger Adama Barrow, Jammeh last week rejected the voting results and his party is challenging them at Gambia's Supreme Court.
     
    Whether the small West African country can achieve its first peaceful transition of power in more than 50 years is an important question for a region long used to authoritarian rulers and sporadic coups. A top United Nations official said this week that Jammeh would face strong sanctions if he tried to cling to power beyond the end of his elected term next month.
     
    Following the five-hour bar association meeting, dozens of lawyers stood on the tiled steps of the resort's meeting room at dusk and accused Jammeh of "treason" for refusing to step down.
     
    Just a few onlookers were present, but the statement prompted an unprecedented cascade of similar denunciations.
     
    The next day, the Gambia Teachers Union called Jammeh's refusal to leave office a "recipe for chaos and disorder which undoubtedly endangers the lives of all Gambians."
     
    On Wednesday, the Gambian press union, one of the most harshly persecuted groups under Jammeh, said he must back down.
     
    "The defeat was conceded. There is, therefore, no turning back," it said.
     
    Transport and medical unions and the Chamber of Commerce echoed that call in statements on Thursday.
     
    "ILLUSION SHATTERED"
     
    The public demands have left Jammeh, who took power in a 1994 coup and once vowed to rule for "a billion years", looking isolated both internationally and domestically in the country of 1.8 million.
     
    Gambians are now openly speaking out against him in places they didn't dare before - in taxis, markets and on the phones and computers they used to worry were tapped.
     
    "The illusion of Jammeh as Gambia's all-seeing and all-knowing overlord has been shattered for ever. The fear among Gambians is gone," said Jeffrey Smith from campaign group Vanguard Africa.
     
    The lawyers who first spoke out against Jammeh had pent-up frustrations to voice. Their jobs had long been a struggle. Gaining access to detained clients was often impossible in the face of recalcitrant security officials. Many received death threats for representing Jammeh's political opponents.
     
    With Gambians too fearful to serve on the Supreme Court and the High Court, lawyers and judges have had to be brought in from abroad to fill key positions.
     
    So when the association brought forward this week's meeting to discuss the president's defiance, its attendance ballooned from the usual couple of dozen members to nearly 100.
     
    As they scoured the constitution for legal arguments against Jammeh, the tense atmosphere was suddenly broken.
     
    "A senior lawyer said, 'Let's just call it what it is. It is treason.' The room exploded in applause," said Bensouda, who was present.
     
    The lawyers voted to approve that wording, then celebrated with a meal of butter-fried shrimp and beef brochettes. Many hugged and laughed.
     
    "We have compromised ourselves for too long and have not stood up because of fear," said Bensouda. "When Jammeh lost the election, it solidified everyone."

    (Reuters)


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  • ECOWAS summons EXTRA-ORDNIARY MEETING, to discuss crises in The GAMBIA, GUINEA BISSAU, decide next line of action

    17/Dec/2016 // 2484 Viewers

     

    At the 50th Ordinary Session of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government (HOSG) scheduled to hold today in Abuja, the political crisis in Gambia would top the agenda.
    President Muhammadu Buhari, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia and current Chairperson of the Authority of HOSG, and President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra-Leone, were in The Gambia on Tuesday.

    The leaders went to convince the long-ruling President Yahya Jammeh to relinquish power after losing an election on 1 December.

    The leaders urged Jammeh to reconsider his rejection of the election results, based on what he called “tallying errors” and his call for new elections.

    Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Chairperson of ECOWAS also said leaders of the sub-region would address the situation in Guinea Bissau.

    The ECOWAS chairperson had described the situation in Guinea Bissau as ‘very complicated’, noting that “it is pertinent to choose a leader that reflected the will of the people”.

    In April 2012, the military staged a coup d’état in that country, and military leaders and a coalition of political parties announced the formation of a Transitional National Council, under international pressure.

    Guinea-Bissau has also been in a political impasse since August 2015, when President José Mario Vaz sacked the Prime Minister Domingos Simoes Pereira, leader of the ruling African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde.

    Vaz also dissolved the government on Nov. 12 in an attempt to solve a political succession crisis.

    A delegation from ECOWAS on Nov. 6 demanded that Vaz name a new prime minister and deal with dissenting deputies with the aim of resuming parliament’s normal functions.

    It was also gathered that the summit would consider the report of the 77th Ordinary Season of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers and the 37th session of the Mediation and Security Council.

    The meeting would also consider the 2016 Annual Report of the President of the commission and discuss the sub-regions strategy for elections to African union positions.

    A final communiqué is expected to be presented at the end of the meeting.


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  • ECOWAS SUMMIT TODAY: More trouble for JAMMEH as regional leaders sentence him in ABUJA ahead of January 19

    17/Dec/2016 // 2015 Viewers

     

    West Africa’s regional bloc ECOWAS unanimously passed a sentence insisting that Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh steps down when his mandate ends in January because he lost an election, the bloc’s chairwoman, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, said on Saturday.

    Her comments came at the start of an ECOWAS summit in the Nigerian capital aimed at DECIDING AN ACTION ON AGAINST JAMMEH in the face of what regional leaders say is a challenge to its principles of democratic accountability.

    Johnson Sirleaf did not spell out what measures the bloc would take but they could include sanctions, which could hurt Gambia because ECOWAS member Senegal is the country’s only neighbour.

    “It’s now important that the authority at this summit considers measures to bring the matter to a successful conclusion before January 19 … when the mandate of the current President expires,” Johnson Sirleaf told the summit.

    Jammeh’s 22 years in power have been marked by allegations of human rights abuses and repression against perceived political opponents. He lost a Dec. 1 election to little-known challenger Adama Barrow and is due to step down on January 18.

    Initially, he conceded defeat but a week ago he rejected the results and called for a fresh vote in a move that was widely condemned. His party is now challenging the result in Gambia’s Supreme Court, reports Reuters.

    Johnson Sirleaf’s remarks follow a mission to Gambia this week accompanied by the leaders of several West African countries including Nigeria and Ghana, whose President John Mahama lost a December 7 election and said he would step down.


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  • ECOWAS leaders shrug as BUHARI accused of defying regional court orders calls for speedy reforms of ECOWAS institutions

    17/Dec/2016 // 10210 Viewers

     

    President Muhammadu Buhari has stressed the need to review the ECOWAS Treaty in order to make the regional organisation more responsive to new national, regional and global challenges.

    The president made the call at the opening of the 50th Ordinary Session of the Authority and Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS, held in Abuja on Saturday.

    He also called for the speedy conclusion of the reforms of all ECOWAS institutions to put ECOWAS on a much stronger footing and to prepare member nations for the challenges of such Institutional reforms.

    Buhari also stressed the need to make conscious efforts to improve on governance and accountability at all levels.

    “We also need to make conscious efforts to improve on Governance and accountability at all levels.

    “This calls for the speedy conclusion of the reforms of all ECOWAS institutions to put ECOWAS on a much stronger footing and prepare us for the challenges of such Institutional reforms.

    “To this end, we should ensure that priority is given to the implementation of development programmes, while the ECOWAS Parliament should be entrusted with more functions.

    “In addition, the cost of governance must be reduced across all ECOWAS Institutions while resources should be devoted to programmes and projects that will have direct bearing on the lives of ordinary citizenry and create jobs fast enough to absorb our teeming youth population.

    “In this regard, it is necessary that measures be taken to review the ECOWAS Treaty in order to make ECOWAS responsive to new national, regional and global challenges.

    On economic integration, Buhari observed that the modest achievements in regional integration were being challenged by globalisation.

    According to him, most member countries continue to record low volume of trade, occasioned by declining level of economic activities, caused by the sharp fall in commodity prices.

    He said: “While oil prices fell by an astounding 57 percent between June 2014 and January 2015, other commodity prices have also weakened sharply thereby putting pressure on the current account and fiscal balances of our countries.

    “This ugly situation demands that we diversify our respective economies from commodities into other sectors such as banking, construction and telecommunications and most importantly agro–processing, manufacturing and services.

    “As we adjust to a more challenging globalised environment, stronger efforts are required to increase domestic revenue mobilisation in our countries and Community Institutions.”

    He said that Member States must diversify their economies away from trade in commodities towards developing robust infrastructure that would support manufacturing and industrialisation.

    Buhari, therefore, urged the Community to invest more in infrastructure and human resources so as to unleash the potentials that exist in our respective economies and in our peoples.

    The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that 15 member states of the ECOWAS are currently attending the summit with The Gambia, Sierra Leone and Burkina Faso being represented by their foreign ministers, while Cape Verde is being represented by Ambassador of Senegal to Nigeria.

    The summit will be discussing behind closed doors, the political situation in Gambia and Guinea Bissau while the 2016 Annual Report of the President of the ECOWAS Commission (Report of the 77th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers would be presented and considered).

    The Report of 37th Session of the Mediation and Security, date and venue of the 51st Ordinary Session of the Authority as well as signing of Community Acts and Decisions will be discussed and considered at the summit.


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  • : GAMBIA: Finally, UN breaks silence on GAMBIA's return to ICC, lauds President ADAMA BARROW

    17/Feb/2017 // 1792 Viewers

     

    The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, has welcomed the rescission of The Gambia’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

    A statement issued by the Spokesperson of the UN Secretary-General, Mr Stephane Dujarric, said Guterres “welcomes that The Gambia will remain a State Party to the International Criminal Court’s founding instrument.

    “He remains confident that States Parties will continue to further strengthen the Court through a constructive dialogue,” the statement said.

    The notification concerning the rescission of withdrawal was delivered to the UN chief on Feb. 10.

    “The Gambia had formally notified the UN chief, who is the depository of the Rome Statute of the ICC, of its withdrawal from the Rome Statute in November last year – a decision which the Secretary-General deeply regretted,” the statement said.

    The statement further noted that over the past two decades, the world had made decisive strides toward building a truly global system of international criminal justice, with the ICC as its centrepiece.

    It added that The Gambia, like so many other African countries, played a major role in the negotiations leading to the adoption of the Rome Statute and was among its first signatories.

    The ICC’s founding Rome Statute sets out the Court’s jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and, as of an amendment in 2010, the crime of aggression.

    In addition to jurisdiction, it also addresses issues such as admissibility and applicable law, the composition and administration of the Court, investigations and prosecution, trials, penalties, appeal and revision, international cooperation and judicial assistance, and enforcement.

     


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  • Embattled outgoing Gambian leader, JAMMEH, in a quandary as COURT rejects request to stop BARROW's inauguaration

    17/Jan/2017 // 1352 Viewers

     

    Gambia Supreme Court yesterday declined to stop Thursday’s inauguration of President-elect Adama Barrow.

    The Supreme Court ruling followed a petition by President Yahya Jammeh, seeking an injunction aimed at blocking Barrow’s swearing in.

    Jammeh’s constitutional term in office is expected to end on Wednesday after he lost to businessman Barrow, in the December 1, 2016 poll.

    Although he initially accepted defeat, he has since lodged a case before the Supreme Court requesting the result be annulled.

    But the court is unable to hold a hearing until May – as most of the judges come from neighbouring countries – and Jammeh has said he is going nowhere until then.

    Barrow, who has received the support of the international community, has said he would go ahead with his inauguration on Jan. 19 despite Jammeh’s rejection of the result.

    Supreme Court Chief Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle told Jammeh’s lawyer that he could not make the order being sought to stop the January 19 inauguration.

    Fagbenle said he was unable to preside over the motion filed because he was named in the petition.

    Already, thousands of people have begun fleeing Gambia amid growing signs that ECOWAS could invade the former British colony within days.
    Regional leaders have signalled their determination to mount a rare African defence of democratic principle by using force to ensure that Jammeh, Gambia’s president of 22 years, gives up power.

    Ferry terminals on the River Gambia are recieving passengers hoping for safe passage into Senegal. The United Nations refugee agency says it is assessing the situation.


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