• The Gambia : 8 months ahead of the presidential election, the repression against the opposition is underway

    22/Apr/2016 // 708 Viewers

     


    FIDH and member organisations of the #MyvVoteMustCount Coalition condemn the bloody crackdown by Gambian police on the peaceful demonstrations held on April 14 and 16 calling for an electoral reform ahead of the December 2016 presidential election. This repression resulted in the arrest of dozens of opponents and the death in custody of three of them. Eight months ahead of the presidential election, our organisations call upon the Gambian authorities to stop the repression against the opposition, to shed light on the death in custody of the three opponents, to release all those arbitrarily detained and to organize free, multiparty and transparent elections.

    On April 14, 2016, a popular demonstration was organized in Banjul, the Gambia capital city, demanding an electoral reform for the presidential election to be held in December this year. This demonstration was violently repressed by the police, which carried out many arrests, including of Ebrima Solo Sandeng, one of the leaders of the United Democratic Party (UDP), the main opposition party in the Gambia. The latter died on April 15, after one day in detention, in circumstances indicating that his death may have been caused by torture and other ill-treatments,. The United Nations has confirmed the death of two other activists in custody, also members of the UDP without giving more information about them.

    A new demonstration, held on April 16 calling for justice after the death of Solo Sandeng and the release of arbitrarily detained persons, was again violently repressed by Gambian security forces. Demonstrators were dispersed with tear gas and bullets. Ms Fatoumata Jawara, leader of the youth section of the UDP and Ms Nogoi Njie, second vice-president of the women wing of the party, were seriously injured and arrested after being beaten during the demonstration. Mr Oussainou Darboe, leader of the UDP, and dozens of other opponents arrested during the demonstrations are still held incommunicado.

    “Gambian authorities must immediately stop the ongoing repression, release all those arbitrarily detained, and shed light on the serious crimes perpetrated during the weekend of April 14 to 16, including on the circumstances of the death of the three opponents. Those responsible for these crimes must be identified and prosecuted before independent courts” said Drissa Traore, FIDH Vice President.

    These peaceful demonstrations were organized to protest against the reforms of the 2009 Elections Act introduced by the government in July 2015, regarding in particular the conditions of participation in the presidential election. These reforms provide for the payment of a 500,000 dalasis (about 11,700 euros) bail to be candidate and the payment of 1 million dalasis (about 23,400 euros) to form a political party. Each party must receive at least 10 000 signaturesfrom citizens and have one representative in every electoral constituencies. Moreover, these reforms have brought to 65 the maximum age for candidacy. Only a few months before election date, and while Yahya Jammeh was sworn candidate on February 26, 2016, for the Alliance for patriotic reorientation and construction, the ruling party, our organisations fear that the regime is trying to prevent political competition and denounce violations of political pluralism that may arise.

    Since his accession to power after a coup in 1994, president Yahya Jammeh has systematically silenced all opposition and questioning voices. The crackdowns on April 14 and 16 2016, highlight the repressive nature of the current regime. As the election of December approaches, our organisations fear that the government will increase its repression against political opponents, independent journalists and human rights defenders, which could degenerate into pre-election violence.

    “Eight months ahead of the presidential election the government of Yahya Jammeh must absolutely stop the repression against dissenting voices and respect the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, so that the electoral process will be credible, inclusive and peaceful”, said Mabassa Fall, FIDH Representative to the African Union

    This new outbreak of violence took place while the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights was holding its 58th ordinary session until April 20 in Banjul. The African Commission and the UN have furthermore denounced these serious events and called upon Gambian authorities to conduct an independent investigation on the death in custody of the three opponents and on the violence against protesters and to immediately and unconditionally release all persons arbitrarily detained.

    The #MyVoteMustCount coalition

    Between 2014 and 2016, 52 elections including 25 presidential elections have been scheduled in 27 African countries. To avoid manipulation, fraud, and violence resulting from shortened elections, African and international civil societies have decided to mobilize through the #MyVoteMustCount campaign. Civil societies are demanding that their leaders respect the legitimate rights of the people to choose their representatives in fair, free and transparent elections through public awareness, field actions and political advocacy prior to each election between now and 2016. - appablog.worldpress.com



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  • JUST IN: UN Security Council slams JAMMEH on Wednesday, sets January 19 as terminal date

    22/Dec/2016 // 2988 Viewers

     

    The United Nations (UN) Security Council said yesterday that President Jammeh must respect the results of the Dec. 1 presidential election.

    The UN said he must carry out a peaceful and orderly transition process and transfer power to President-elect Adama Barrow by Jan. 19 in accordance with Gambia’s Constitution.

    In a Presidential Statement S/PRST/2016/19 after a seven-minute meeting, read by Council President for December, Román Marchesi (Spain), the 15-country-member organ restated its stance on Gambia.

    The Security Council recalled the press statement of the Council members on Dec. 10, 2016, and took note of the communiqué of the Chairman of the AU on Dec. 10, 2016.

    It also recalled the joint communiqué of the ECOWAS Commission, the AU Commission and the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel on Dec. 10, 2016 regarding the situation in the Islamic Republic of the Gambia.

    “The Security Council welcomes and is encouraged by the decisions on the political situation in the Gambia of the 50th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority held in Abuja on Dec. 17, 2016.’’

    The council applauded the decisions of the AU Peace and Security Council, at its 644th meeting held on Dec. 12, 2016, and the AU to recognise Mr Adama Barrow as President-elect of the Gambia.

    “The Security Council reiterates its request to outgoing President Jammeh and the relevant Gambian Authorities to fully respect the results of the presidential election of Dec. 1, 2016.

    “Jammeh should also respect the will of the Gambian people and to carry out a peaceful and orderly transition process, and to transfer power to President-elect Adama Barrow by Jan. 19, 2017 in accordance with the Gambian Constitution.

    “The Security Council further welcomes the decision of ECOWAS Heads of State to attend the Jan. 19, 2017 inauguration of President-elect Barrow in Banjul,” the presidential statement read.

    The council reiterated its support to the ECOWAS position on the Gambia and welcomed the appointment of President Muhammadu Buhari to lead further negotiations with both Jammeh and Barrow.

    “The Security Council expresses its intention to continue to follow the situation in the Gambia closely.”


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  • Why did The Gambian president declare the state an Islamic republic?

    22/Jan/2016 // 799 Viewers

    The West African nation of The Gambia was declared an Islamic republic, in December, by its president. What are the implications for its people, and the region in general?

     

    Gambia's President, Yahya Jammeh, declared his West African country an Islamic republic, at a political rally, on 11 December - making it Africa's second, after Mauritania.

    The president justified his announcement by saying he was breaking from The Gambia's colonial past.

    The announcement was unexpected and similar to President Jammeh's decision to leave the Commonwealth in 2013 (after 48 years membership), which he also justified as an effort to fully decolonise.

    These announcements came at moments when President Jammeh's international relations but also domestic politics were increasingly strained, not helped by a deteriorating economy with a growing public-debt burden, which according to the IMF, reached about 100% of GDP at the end of 2014.

    President Jammeh had enjoyed close relations with Libya's late leader Muammar Gaddafi, and Tripoli provided significant aid and cash.

    And, in July 2009, the president bestowed The Gambia's highest order, the Grand Commander of the Order of the Republic of The Gambia, on Gaddafi.

    But President Jammeh surprised everybody in February 2011 by calling on him to resign as the Arab Spring began to hot up.

    Losing Gaddafi's money punched a big hole in The Gambia's budget.

    The president also broke off relations with Taiwan, in 2013, after it refused to provide more money to bail him out.

    He had probably hoped China would reward him for rupturing relations with Taipei, but this has not happened.

    Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi yan leader Muammar Gaddafi was once feted in The Gambia

    The Gambia also ended relations with Iran, in 2010, resulting in the cancellation of trade and aid projects such as the $2bn (£1.2bn) agreement to supply The Gambia with heavy and commercial vehicles.

    This has left The Gambia needing new allies.

    Turkey is one of the few that remains loyal, and President Jammeh went to Ankara on a state visit in 2014.

    The Turkish Armed Forces have trained the Gambian gendarmerie force since 1991, and Gambian soldiers train in Turkey to this day.

    Wooing the Gulf States and improving relations with Saudi Arabia seems to be part of President Jammeh's search for new friends.

    The Gambia map

    The Gambia announced in December it would accept Rohingya refugees from South East Asia as part of its "sacred duty", hoping this and becoming an "Islamic republic" opens cheque books and replaces past allies such as Libya, Iran and Taiwan.

    In December 2016, President Jammeh faces presidential elections.

    Playing up his Islamic credentials helps internationally but will also have a resonance domestically as 90% of Gambians are Muslim.


    What are the practical implications for individuals and society in the country?

    Given that President Jammeh's announcement appears to have been made on a whim, there is a lot of uncertainty on what type of "Islamic republic" The Gambia will become.


    Getty ImagesPresident Yahya Jammeh of Gambia

    President Yahya Jammeh:

    • born in May 1965
    • seized power in a coup in 1994
    • vowed to stay in power for "a billion years", if God wills
    • claimed in 2007 he could cure Aids and infertility with herbal concoctions
    • warned in 2008 that gay people would be beheaded
    • declared The Gambia an Islamic republic in 2015

    The country still has a secular constitution and a legal system based on English common law.

    Some aspects of traditional law and Sharia also apply, but Sharia does not apply to non-Muslims without consent.

    A 4 January 2016 executive directive that all female government staffers must cover their hair during office hours was quickly rescinded after its sparked anger among opposition leaders, activists and pro-democracy groups.

    The state broadcaster now regularly describes The Gambia as an "Islamic republic", and the country's Supreme Islamic Council has welcomed the change of status.

    It is not clear if the introduction of fully fledged Sharia is planned (non-Muslims were reassured in December) and whether there will be a referendum to amend the secular constitution.

    But the national flag will certainly be changed to reflect the country's new status.


    Does it make it more likely that fundamentalism and extremism will take hold?

    It is unlikely to have any impact immediately, as tourism is a prime source of revenue and President Jammeh runs the country with an iron fist.

    It is more likely frustrated young Gambians will over time become even more vulnerable to being radicalised because this "Islamic republic" will offer little new and growing inequality, poverty and the lack of jobs will remain pervasive.


    What impact will it have on the region?

    Relations with neighbouring Senegal are poor, and The Gambia is isolated within the regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas).

    International Roots Festival ternational Roots Festival was set up to teach people about Gambian music, culture and customs

    Tourists

    an important industry in The Gambia

    An attempt by Ecowas, in 2015, to introduce term limits on presidents from the region was blocked by President Jammeh and his Togo counterpart, but highlighted their isolation.

    President Jammeh has ruled the country since seizing power through a coup in 1994 and seems to have no ambition to retire from being The Gambia's leader.

    Longer-term, the biggest single threat to The Gambia is climate change as Banjul risks becoming Atlantis because of rising sea-levels.

    Already, prime beaches are being visibly degraded, and this is impacting tourism.


    What does it mean for the West?

    Relations with the West are already poor because of concerns about human rights abuses:

    • The Gambia has pulled out of the Commonwealth because of pressure over its rights record
    • The US has suspended The Gambia's participation in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) over rights issues
    • In December 2015, the EU halted some $16m (£11m) in development assistance because of human rights

    The Gambia had already expelled the EU charge d'affairs, in June.

    The Gambia was never really strategic to the West, which is mostly indifferent to what happens there.

    Dr Alex Vines OBE is Head of the African Programme, Chatham House.

     



     

     

     

    Source: (BBC)


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  • Shocking! Buhari accused again of lying to Nigerians and the world

    22/Jul/2016 // 2044 Viewers

     

    PARIS, JULY 22, 2016: (DGW) - President Muhammadu Buhari has been accused of lying by deceiving Nigerians and the international community particularly  during the farewell audience with Mr. Michael Zinner, the outgoing Ambassador to Germany on Thursday, the 21st of July, 2016.

    The Ijaw Youth Council,(IYC) spokesman, Eric Omare, in a statement said it was ridiculous and laughable for the President to make non-existent  claims when he is fact not doing so.

    The group expressed concern that with the development, the Buhari administration may have returned Nigeria to pre-colonial and independence Royal Niger Company days, where international companies governed Nigeria.

    The statement further reads: “The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) worldwide says that President Buhari and the federal government of Nigeria should stop deceiving Nigerians and the international community about talks with Niger Delta militants on how to stop attacks on oil facilities in the Niger Delta region.

    “It is highly ridiculous and laughable for President Buhari to say that his government is negotiating with Niger Delta militants through oil companies and law enforcement agencies during the farewell audience with Mr. Michael Zinner, the outgoing Ambassador to Germany on Thursday, the 21st of July, 2016.

    “It is even embarrassing for the President of an independent nation such as Nigeria to say that it is oil companies that are negotiating for peace with Niger Delta agitators which in effect amounts to surrounding the sovereignty of Nigeria to international oil companies.

    “The IYC wonder if Nigeria is back to the pre-colonial and independence Royal Niger Company days where international companies govern Nigeria.

    “The point must be made that the issues at stake are completely beyond the capacity of oil companies to resolve.

    “For the umpteenth time, the IYC call on the Aides and Advisers to President Buhari to properly advise him on how to solve the current hostilities in the Niger Delta region and equally display a determination to resolve the problem as his predecessors did.

    “Only a sincere and holistic dialogue with the people of the Niger Delta region which is aimed at addressing the remote causes of recurrent militancy can bring permanent peace to the Niger Delta region.

    “This can only happen when President Buhari as the political leader of Nigeria come down to the negotiation table.”


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  • AU to unveil AFRIMA 2016 calendar in The Gambia

    22/May/2016 // 285 Viewers

     

    The African Union Commission (AUC) will unveil this year’s programs and calendar of the annual continental awards, All Africa Music Awards tagged “AFRIMA 3.0” at an AUC-AFRIMA music/cultural and media conference scheduled to hold on May 21-25 during the commemoration of the 10th African Union Youth Charter in Banjul, Gambia.

    At the event, the AUC and the international committee will reveal the dates and timelines for submission of entry and Guidelines, adjudication process, public voting and nominees’ announcement for the 2016 edition of the awards as well as dates for this year’s main AFRIMA Award ceremonies. 
     
    In a letter of invitation addressed to AFRIMA delegates from the African Union Commission (AUC) signed by Dr Marie-Goretii Harakeye, the Acting Director of Social Affairs, it states that the conference will bring together award winning music stars, creative/entertainment industry stakeholders, cultural enthusiasts government officials, corporate sponsors, and media practitioners among others.
     
     There will also be a robust and intellectual session on the theme: “Using Music, Culture and Entertainment as Tools for a New Africa”. 
     
    It will be a forum for discussion on how to engage the values and spirit of Pan-Africanism for greater collaborations in culture and music for sustainable development, in line with the African Union cultural agenda for peace, integration, democracy, economic advancement and social development.
     


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  • 10 top Gambian diplomats back call for JAMMEH to hand over power to President-elect, ADAMA BARROW

    23/Dec/2016 // 1513 Viewers

     

    GAMBIAN AMBASSADORS SAY JAMMEH MUST GO December 23, 2016

    President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia

    About 11 serving Ambassadors of The Gambia have championed the call on President Yahya Jammeh to quit and handover power peacefully to President-elect Adama Barrow.
    Mr Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, told UN Correspondents during a press briefing on Thursday.

    Haq said the Permanent Representative of The Gambia to the UN, Mamadou Tangara, was among the Gambian envoys who appealed to Jammeh to peacefully transit power.

    “The Secretary-General met today with the outgoing Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of The Gambia to the United Nations, Mamadou Tangara, to discuss the deteriorating political situation in the country.

    “The Secretary-General commended Ambassador Tangara for his appeal to President Yahya Jammeh.

    “This is along with 10 other Gambian diplomats serving overseas, to facilitate a peaceful transfer of power to the President-elect, Adama Barrow,” Haq said.

    He said Ban expressed deep concern about Jammeh’s refusal to hand over power, in accordance with the Gambian constitution, despite consistent calls from regional bodies and the international community.

    The spokesman said the Secretary-General reiterated the commitment of the UN to support efforts for a peaceful, timely and orderly transfer of power from Jammeh to Barrow.

    According to him, the commitment of the UN is in full respect of the will of the Gambian people, working closely with all regional and international partners.

    Haq said he could not explain the reasons for Tangara’s status as outgoing and could not say if he had been recalled by Jammeh.

    According to him, however, the Gambian permanent representative represented himself at the meeting as “outgoing”.


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  • Senegalese troops 'ready to oust Jammeh' - BBC reports

    23/Dec/2016 // 3696 Viewers

    President Jammeh called for the election he lost to be annulled
    Senegal will lead military intervention to oust The Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh if he refuses to step down when his mandate expires on 19 January, a senior official of the West African regional grouping Ecowas has said. 

    "Stand-by forces" were on alert and would be deployed "to restore the people's wish" if mediators, led by Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari, failed to persuade Mr Jammeh to give up power, said  Marcel Alain de Souza, the chairman of the Ecowas commission. 

    He added that it was not Ecowas' "wish to set alight the zone" and if Mr Jammeh "loves" his people, he should "negotiate an exit door calmly":  

    Mr de Souza said: 

    ''If it doesn’t happen, the most radical means will be used.”
    Mr Jammeh initially conceded victory to property developer Adama Barrow in the 1 December election, but he later called for the election to be annulled, alleging that it was marred by irregularities.

    The Supreme Court has set 10 January as a date for a case brought by Mr Jammeh's party to cancel the result. 


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  • NNPC boss lists damage carried out so far by Avengers, says oil exploration to begin in north

    23/Jul/2016 // 5282 Viewers

     

    Maikanti Baru,the Group Managing Director, (GMD) of the  Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation  has declared in Abuja, before the Chief of Defence Staff , General Gabriel Olonisakin that   it has listed and  recorded the damage so far carried out by the rampaging militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta in the year 2016.

    No fewer than 1,447 incidences of pipeline vandalism resulting in the loss of millions of litres of products worth billions of naira. He made this disclosure when he paid a courtesy call on the Chief of Defence Staff on Thursday.

    Baru added that in 2015, Nigeria lost 643 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit valued at N51.3 billion through pipeline vandalism alone.

    Home / Headlines / Niger Delta militants destroyed 1,447 pipelines in 2016 – NNPC boss, Baru
    Niger Delta militants destroyed 1,447 pipelines in 2016 – NNPC boss, BaruBy Daily Post Staff on July 22, 2016@dailypostngr
    Pipeline-494x336
    The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation says it has recorded 1,447 incidences of pipeline vandalism resulting to the loss of millions of litres of products worth billions of naira in 2016 alone.
    The NNPC’s Group Managing Director, Maikanti Baru, disclosed this when he paid a courtesy call on the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, in Abuja on Thursday.

    Baru added that in 2015, Nigeria lost 643 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit valued at N51.3 billion through pipeline vandalism alone.


    He said the volume of products lost through vandalism of oil and gas infrastructure alone underscored the need for stakeholders, especially security agencies, to devise more effective strategies to address the menace.

    According to Baru, though security agencies were doing much to address the menace, the persistence of oil thieves and saboteurs was affecting even the 2016 budget implementation.

    Baru, “The supply and distribution of Nigeria’s oil and gas resources remain critical to the survival of our economy, but it is saddening to note that these critical national assets have become targets of vandalism and sabotage.
    “The budget plan of the Federal Government is grossly affected as a result of the development because of the shortage presently estimated at 700,000 barrels per day.

    “The gas to power projections of government is also being hampered due to the activities of the vandals.

    “In 2015 alone, pipeline losses of Premium Motor Spirit in volume of 643 million litres valued at about N51.3 billion was recorded, while 1,447 incidences of vandalism was reported so far in 2016.”

    Baru said the impact of the development on the economy could be seen in the areas of degradation, unnecessary loss of lives and high cost of production among others.

    He said a review of the security architecture of the protection of critical infrastructure in the Niger Delta was required to prevent the economy from further hemorrhage.

    The NNPC GMD sought improved collaboration with security agencies and the military in particular to prevent further damage to oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta region.

    He also solicited the support of the military for NNPC to resume exploration activities in the Benue trough and the Chad Basin.

    Baru also sought better security arrangement for NNPC’s strategic business partners in the Niger Delta and other parts of the country.

    He pledged NNPC’s support and cooperation for security agencies working to curb activities of vandals and saboteurs in the oil and gas industry.


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  • BREAKING: Plot to unseat Yahya Jammeh ahead of presidential election uncovered

    24/Apr/2016 // 4053 Viewers

     

    APRIL, APRIL 24, 2016: (DGW) -  ANOTHER plot  by the forces opposed to President Yahya  Jammeh's presidency is  to be hatched across the country and beyond via protest match, a source revealed to our reporter in the Gambian capital of Banjul.

    The planned protest capable of causing total breakdown of law and order is being  financed by some prominent and powerful politicians in the opposition camp within and outside the country  to  woo supporters and canvass for votes in a bid to counter moves and covert operations by the 50 years old Gambian leader to perpetuate himself in power  ahead of  December 1 presidential election.

    It would be recalled that President Yahya Jammeh had called for national prayers  and directed Imams across the country to lead  prayers for peace  in their various domains resulting from the recent protest match by the opposition calling for electoral reforms in the tiny West African state.

    President Yahya Jammeh has been in power since 1994 after taking power in a military coup.

    Daud Jawara reported from Banjul.

     

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  • End Times: Bishop Daniel Obinim says he's ordained to fornicate, sleep with people's wives

    24/Aug/2016 // 2252 Viewers

     

    A self-styled man of God and founder of the International God’s Way Church , Bishop Daniel Obinim, said he is ordained to fornicate, The Guardian reports.

    Bishop Obinim  who pastors a church in Ghana, West Africa, granted the newspaper an interview after a video of him whipping teenagers during a live church service for fornication went viral on social media.

    According to reports, the ordination conferred on him by “God” includes sleeping with the unmarried to find God’s favor to get husbands and married women for marital blessings.

    Bishop Obinim gained popularity in Ghana after he was caught sleeping with wives of his junior pastors.


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