All posts by Isaac Essel

Yahya Jammeh had conceded defeat via phone call to Barrow ahead of the election results declaration Friday

Gambia crisis: Jammeh misses second deadline to step down

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Yahya Jammeh had conceded defeat via phone call to Barrow ahead of the election results declaration Friday

Yahya Jammeh had conceded defeat via phone call to Barrow ahead of the election results declaration Friday

A deadline for defeated President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia to leave office or be forced out by UN-backed forces at 16:00 GMT has expired with no news.

The earlier deadline of noon passed as the Guinean and Mauritanian presidents arrived in Banjul for last-ditch talks. There has been no statement from them.

Mr Jammeh’s elected successor, Adama Barrow, was sworn in as president at a ceremony in Senegal on Thursday.

Troops acting in support of President Barrow have paused their advance.

The forces from the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) regional grouping are backed by the United Nations.

They crossed into The Gambia from Senegal on Thursday but have been told not to advance further until the talks have finished.

Mr Barrow’s legitimacy as president has been recognised internationally, after he won last month’s elections.

Mr Jammeh remains at the state house in The Gambia’s capital, where soldiers are calm, the BBC’s Umaru Fofana reports.

The head of the Gambian army, Gen Ousman Badjie, told Reuters that he now recognises Mr Barrow as commander-in-chief.

Senegalese soldiers patrol near a camp of the Red Cross in Karang, Senegal, near the border with The Gambia, on January 20, 2017

Senegalese troops – seen here at a Red Cross camp in Senegal – are among those to have crossed into The Gambia photo: AFP

Mr Jammeh’s term expired at midnight on Wednesday – but, while still president, he engineered a parliamentary vote to extend his presidency. As Mr Barrow has already been sworn in, the country could be said to have two presidents.

Guinea’s President Alpha Conde and Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz arrived in Banjul on Friday morning for the talks with Mr Jammeh.

The chairman of the Ecowas commission, Marcel Alain de Souza, said that if the meeting with Mr Conde proved unsuccessful, military action would follow.


Break for prayers: By Umaru Fofana, BBC Africa, Banjul

Soldiers heading to Friday prayers at State House in Banjul

Soldiers attend Friday prayers at the mosque in the grounds of State House

With talks still ongoing between Yahya Jammeh and the visiting presidents of Guinea and Mauritania, I have been waiting at State House, the seat of the presidency.

When it was time for Friday prayers and as there was no sign of progress I went to the Chairman Jammeh Mosque inside the grounds of State House.

The soldiers were great. They welcomed me there and looked pleased to know I was a practising Muslim.

Imam Alhaji Jallow was preaching about faith and following the right path. An interesting theme if you ask me, in view of the times.

Midway through the sermon, we were asked to leave the four front rows. We shifted.

As the sermon proceeded I was called outside the mosque. Confused, I asked why. No answers. My colleague and I were driven out of State House. Very respectfully I must say.

As we left, a member of the presidential guard whispered to me the obvious: Mr Jammeh and his guests would be coming to the mosque for prayers.

They were perhaps worried that I would get an insight into how the talks were going if I remained.


Ecowas said that its forces had encountered no resistance after entering The Gambia.

The troops are from Senegal and other West African countries.

Mr Barrow, who remains in Senegal, has said that he will not return to Gambia’s capital, Banjul, until the military operation has ended.The threat by the West African regional bloc Ecowas to remove Mr Jammeh by force is supported by the 15-member UN Security Council, although the council has stressed that a political solution should be the priority.

A Senegalese army spokesman, Col Abdou Ndiaye, told the BBC that troops who were now in The Gambia were prepared to fight if necessary.

“It is already war, if we find any resistance, we will fight it,” he said, adding: “If there are people who are fighting for the former president, we will fight them.”

But Col Ndiaye said the main goal of Ecowas was to restore democracy and to allow the newly-elected president to take power.

Tourists have been evacuated from The Gambia and the UK’s Foreign Office has advised against all but essential travel to the West African country.

A Senegalese army spokesman, Col Abdou Ndiaye, told the BBC that troops who were now in The Gambia were prepared to fight if necessary.

“It is already war, if we find any resistance, we will fight it,” he said, adding: “If there are people who are fighting for the former president, we will fight them.”

But Col Ndiaye said the main goal of Ecowas was to restore democracy and to allow the newly-elected president to take power.

Tourists have been evacuated from The Gambia and the UK’s Foreign Office has advised against all but essential travel to the West African country.

Why is Mr Jammeh refusing to go?

Mr Jammeh has called for new elections to be held in Gambia

Mr Jammeh has called for new elections to be held in Gambia photo: REUTERS

After first accepting defeat in the election he reversed his position and said he would not step down. He declared a 90-day state of emergency, blaming irregularities in the electoral process.

The electoral commission accepted that some of its early results had contained errors but said they would not have affected Mr Barrow’s win.

Mr Jammeh has said he will stay in office until new elections are held.

Remaining in power would also give him protection against prosecution for alleged abuses committed during his rule.

Map of The Gambia

Source: BBC

Yaw Osafo Marfo vetting

Ghana’s economy is fundamentally strong but…Osafo Maafo explains

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Yaw Osafo Marfo vetting

Mr. Yaw Osafo-Maafo

Ghana’s economy is fundamentally strong, Mr. Yaw Osafo-Maafo Minister-designate has said, but noted that it will only take a disciplined regime to create an economy that can be described as booming.

Answering questions at Parliament’s Appointment Committee on Friday, Mr. Osafo-Maafo indicated that the lack of discipline by the previous Mahama-led government exposed what he calls an economy  that was “not in best of shape”.

Nonetheless, the Senior Minister-designate assured the nation that the Akufo-Addo-led government has what it takes to turn the economy around, the more reason why the New Patriotic Party was voted into power.

“It is doable”, he declared with a flare of confidence in his demeanour.

“The economy is fundamentally strong, so if we discipline ourselves, we will be able to get out of the woods,” he emphasized.

Borrow

While in opposition, the New Patriotic Party criticized the government for borrowing excessively. But Mr. Osafo-Maafo told the committee the NPP government would also borrow to execute some development projects, however, the loans would be contracted with better terms.

“We will certainly borrow but under different arrangements…we will borrow to refinance to change your whole debt profile that is what we will be seeking to do.”

Early on, Mr. Osafo Maafo asserted that the NPP is bent on creating a business friendly environment, a departure from the current environment that he described as “complicated” which causes “hindrance to businesses”.

By Isaac Essel |3news.com|Ghana

Yaw Osafo Maafo

Osafo Maafo shoots down Ghana’s 40yr Development Plan

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Yaw Osafo Maafo

Yaw Osafo Maafo

Mr. Yaw Osafo Maafo, Senior Minister-designate, has revealed he strongly disagrees with the decision to have a 40-year Development Plan for the nation.

The National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) designed the 40-year-plan which implementation begins in 2018.  The Plan would comprise 10 medium-term plans, each of four-year duration, spanning 10 general elections (2020-2056) and be reviewed every ten years by Parliament to keep it current and relevant.

But Mr. Osafo Maafo Friday told Parliament’s Appointments Committee when he appeared before Members that, “I do not believe in planning in excess of 10 years”.

He maintained that his view was made “clear” to the Commission when he was consulted.

He however indicated that he was consulted as well as the New Patriotic Party while in opposition in which he and now Vice President. Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia and others made inputs. The nominee however stated that he is yet to see the final plan which is pegged at 40 years.

Various groups including the Association of Ghana Industries have lauded the 40-year Development Plan. Former President Mahama who launched the Plan said it will significantly transform Ghana.

“This 40-year development plan will tackle Ghana’s development challenges and as a government we are fully committed to it,” he said.

The 40-year plan is the longest in the country’s history, but many feared the lack of continuity of development programmes by successive governments is likely to affect its smooth implementation.

Mr. Osafo Maafo maintained that the NPP government is “surely going to have a critical look at the programme, we won’t swallow it hook and eye”.

He reiterated that the government will do modifications when necessary as well as consult the framers to ensure that the plan works.

By Isaac Essel |3news.com| Ghana

Nana Akufo-Addo is sworn in as president

IMF programme would be reviewed – Osafo Maafo insists

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Yaw Osafo-Maafo

File photo: Yaw Osafo-Maafo

The Senior Minister-designate, Mr. Yaw Osafo Maafo has maintained that the New Patriotic Party government would not think twice in reviewing the Extended Credit Facility arrangement between the government of Ghana and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The country is in the final year of the programme but Mr. Maafo said the components of the agreement are not friendly to the policies of the government as contained in the manifesto of the NPP.

The three-year facility was signed under the erstwhile National Democratic Congress government, where the country is expected to benefit US$918 million when it was approved on April 3, 2015.

On September 28, 2016 the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund completed the third review of Ghana’s economic performance, enabling the disbursement of about US$116.2 million, bringing total disbursements under the arrangement to about US$464.6 million.

But Mr. Yaw Osafo Maafo indicated that the IMF has been communicated to about government’s intention to review the credit facility.

He was responding to a question from the Member of Parliament from Lawra, Anthony Karbo, when he appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament on Friday.

The manifesto of the NPP “needs fiscal space”, he pointed out but the IMF programme, as its stands currently “squeezes” the space.

The Senior Minister-designate also assessed that most of the targets set by the IMF under the programme were “missed” by the previous government, making it more prudent to review the facility.

He noted for instance, government’s deficit under the programme should not be more than 5%, but figures from the Bank of Ghana that he is privy to suggested that the government is hovering around 8%. “That is enough for the IMF itself to review the programme,” he pointed out.

The government, he reiterated, would be guided by “two angles” in seeking a review: targets under the credit facility and NPP government’s own need to factor the party’s manifesto.

Friendly environment

Mr. Osafo Maafo asserted that the NPP’s manifesto is bent on creating a business friendly environment, inferring that the current environment is “complicated” causing “hindrance to businesses”.

He cited multiple sales of lands, for instance, as “embarrassing” blot on the country’s drive to make the business friendly.

He recalled how many businesses that had planned to relocate to Ghana during the Ivorian crisis had to resettle somewhere due to the rent advance: the minimum in Ghana is two years which is not legal but enforcement has been problematic.

“This is some of the small, small things we will look at to make business environment friendly,” he acknowledged.

By Isaac Essel | 3news.com | Ghana

sampson-ahi

Appointments Committee warns nominees over tax returns

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sampson-ahi

Sampson Ahi

The Appointments Committee of Parliament is taking the issue of tax returns seriously, and so ministerial nominees who are found to have defaulted in filing same risk being disqualified, Sampson Ahi, a member of the committee, has said.

“The constitution has stipulated that you should be a Ghanaian before you can become a Member of Parliament and for that matter a Minister of State. Similarly, you are a citizen of Ghana but have defaulted in paying tax or you have failed to honour your tax obligation to the state, if you are found, we will not approve your nomination” he told B&FT in an interview at Parliament house.

It is the responsibility of every citizen and tax payer to file his or her income tax returns every year, the MP for Bodi in the Western Region said, adding that people in leadership positions must be a good example.

Article 286 of the 1992 Constitution, under declaration of Assets and Liabilities, states that: “A person who holds a public office mentioned in clause (5) of this article shall submit to the Auditor-General a written declaration of all property or assets owned by, or liabilities owed by him, whether directly or indirectly.

Under the newly passed Revenue Administration Bill,2016, there is a penalty for failing to file tax return; section 73(1) stipulates that: “A person who fails to file a tax return as required by a tax law is liable to pay a penalty of five hundred currency points and a further penalty of ten currency points for each day that the failure continues.”

In fact, nominees are asked detailed questions about any current or recent audits. Regardless of whether a nominee is under audit, committees that require submission of tax returns will not act on a nomination until those returns have been provided and reviewed.

The Committee requires nominees to submit tax returns for the most recent years, and if any concerns are identified in those returns, the committee may require the nominee to provide returns covering the later years.

The Appointments Committee of Parliament will, this Friday, January 20th 2017, begin vetting ministerial nominees appointed by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

Osafo Maafo, Senior Minister nominee, will be the first to appear before the committee, which is also popularly referred to as the Vetting Committee, followed by Kan Dapaah, who is expected to head the Security Ministry.

Finance Minister-nominee, Ken Ofori-Atta, as well as nominee for Defense, Dominic Nitiwul, will all take their turns on the first day. The committee will further sit on Saturday, January 21, 2017, to vet Attorney-General & Justice Minister-nominee, Gloria Akuffo, and Interior Minister-nominee Ambrose Dery.

On Monday, 23rd January, 2017, the Committee will vet Local Government & Rural Development Minister nominee Hajia Alima Mahama, Trade and Industry nominee, Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen, nominee for Agriculture Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, and nominee for Energy Boakye Agyarko.

Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, Minister nominee for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Matthew Opoku-Prempeh, nominee for Education and Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, nominee for Health, will appear before the Appointments committee on Tuesday, January 24, 2017.

Other nominees, out of the 36 announced by President Akufo-Addo, will be vetted on later dates.

Source: B&FT |Ghana

Adama Barrow1

Gambia CDS jubilates after Barrow’s swearing-in; media blacklist inauguration

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Adama Barrow1

The Gambia Chief of Defence Staff, Ousman Badjie, joined thousands of citizens and some military personnel in jubilation on the streets of The Gambia when the news broke that President Adama Barrow has been sworn-in.

The Gambia President Adama Barrow was sworn in as president in Senegal on Thursday but the longtime ruler Yahya Jammeh, who came to power in a 1994 coup refuses to cede power.

“People were jubilating after the swearing-in. They said they want unity, democracy, good governance so that Gambia will be free”, he Editor for the Point Newspaper in The Gambia, Ousman Kargbo told Onua FM’s Yen Nsempa on Friday hosted by Bright Asempa.

He explained that currently, The Gambian soldiers have vanished from the various check points after the inauguration and when they heard the ECOWAS troops are approaching The Gambia.

They are presently not visibly seen in town but they are also maintaining some order actually. Most of them who were positioned around the country have disappeared and most of them joined the crowd in jubilating yesterday after the swearing in,” he observed.

He noted the “the Chief of Defence Staff was also jubilating with the crowd but President Jammeh is using the republican guards headed by another strong military personnel so they are with him…as I am speaking to you they are the ones retaining him”.

The Point Editor observed that those who are with Jammeh, “are also part of the state military but Mr. Jammeh have that divide and rule tactics so that at any point in time he can use them”.

Unfinished business

Mr. Ousman Kargbo said what the ECOWAS, UN and AU have done “is still an unfinished business because we heard President Barrow was going to come to Gambia any time but no specific day was mentioned”.

“President Jammeh is nowhere to be seen right now but we are of the believe that he is at the state house in Banjul but we are face with conundrum now because the state house is where President Barrow must come and stay and that is where President Jammeh is so it is an unfinished business”.

Media blackout

Media houses in The Gambia blacklisted the inauguration of the President, Adama Barrow, in Senegal for fear of being closed or attacked by forces of the ousted President, Jahya Jammeh.

Even though there were jubilations across the country when they heard that President Barrow has been sworn in at the Gambia’s embassy in Senegal, television and radio stations failed to telecast the event.

The Editor for the Point Newspaper observed that “I monitored national TV last night and nothing of Barrow’s swearing in was mentioned. The new information Minister appointed by President Barrow is adamant to talk because Jammeh is in power and is in control of the government media”. He said last night, nothing was said or announced on President Barrow. It was all what they want Jammeh to hear”.

Mr. Kporgba added that “President Jammeh has shut down three major radio stations so there was no coverage. The rest were afraid to cover. The print media cannot work and the whole nation was state of fear”.

“We have only one TV station and this is controlled by the state and we have some radio stations but they have been shut down by President Jammeh and none of the print media was able to carry any report today on the swearing-in”, Mr. Kporgba observed.

The Editor said “the only paper which publishes against the opposition is working but the only newspaper the people rely on is the Point where I work and other newspaper own by the opposition but none of these papers have carried any story yet on the swearing-in”.

Business activities

Kporgba said “Adama Barrow is not operational yet so Jammeh is in charge now and right now, the whole nation has broken down. No official duties. Businesses, banks are closed and people are indoors except some of us who go out to find out what is going on”.

He said “as I am talking to you, the nation is going on without any official function”

Foreign troops

He confirmed that “foreign troops are in Gambia now and that is why after the inauguration, people jubilated but around 7pm people went indoors and as I am talking to you, people are still indoors looking for what will happen”.

He added “images I have indicates huge armoured cars in town and they are about to enter into Banjul”.

By Kweku Antwi-Otoo|Onua 95.1FM|3news.com

Akufo-Addo is Ghana's president-elect. He is due to be sworn in On Jan. 7, 2017

We’ll pile heat on Akufo-Addo’s government if…- LMVCA

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nana-akufo-addo-is-sworn-in-as-president-75

Usually pressure groups with affiliation to political parties turn to go extinct when their party wins election and forms government. But pressure group Let My Votes Count Alliance (LMVCA) has said going extinct is not an option as the group vows to keep the new government on its toes.

Speaking to Onua FM, Ibrahim Adjei, spokesperson of Let My Votes Count Alliance noted that the group will hold the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo and his cabinet accountable for every penny of taxpayers’ money spent.

“We are still going to do what we stand for. We are not going to be like some other pressure groups whose members after being rewarded with political appointment, went to sleep, and pretended they did not see the rot in the past government. Those people became spokesperson for the NDC government fighting over media recognition just to catch the attention of the then President. We will not go extinct.”

Let My Votes Count Alliance gained currency after the 2012 general elections when the group protested vehemently over what it considered as ‘irregularities and massive cheating’ during that year’s polls. LMVCA held several demonstrations across the country, notable among them was the one held in Accra with the intent of mounting pressure on the EC to prepare a new register which saw over thousand people in attendance. However what started as a peaceful event turned violent after the police and demonstrators failed to agree on the protest routes, leading to the police firing tear gas at demonstrators, whipping and injuring some protesters they considered were ‘recalcitrant’.

But Ibrahim Adjei posited that “we have resisted and survived undue pressure from the security services to break our front but they did not succeed and no force can stop us now”. He maintained that, although some of the front runners of the LMVCA belong to the NPP which forms government now, the group will not hesitate to hold press conference to point out any wrong they detect.

“Yes David Asante, John Hall and I are members of the NPP but we will critique when necessary and commend when it is right because not all members of the group are NPP members. That is why we want to get a lot of youths from across all party fronts involve so that we will become not just a movement but a force, ensuring that all processes regarding elections in Ghana are protected” LMVCA spokesperson asserted.

By Bright Dzakah |3news.com|Ghana

Gambian forces stormed the IEC offices on Tuesday

‘Scary calm’ takes over The Gambia – journalist

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Gambian forces stormed the IEC offices on Tuesday

The Editor of the Point Newspaper in The Gambia has described the situation in the Gambia as a “scary calm”.

Osman Kadbo said “everybody is indoors and it is difficult situation now”.

Speaking from the capital, Banjul, Osman told Accra-based Onua FM’s Yen Nsempa hosted by Bright Asempa on Thursday, “We are all afraid and we are waiting to see what will happen from today.”

The Gambian President Yahya Jammeh is refusing to step down despite the threat of military intervention by neighbouring states.

Adama Barrow, who beat him in elections last month, is due to be inaugurated as the new president on Thursday, but Mr Jammeh has ignored all overtures as well as ECOWAS deadline to step down.

Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz failed to break the deadlock at last-minute talks with Mr Jammeh.

Meanwhile, West African military forces are on standby to enforce a transfer of power.

Osman noted that “we are expecting the President to be sworn in today but that is not likely to happen because everybody is indoors.”

“We have assigned reporters to cover the event but no one knows where it is taking place. Initially, it was to take place at the Independence Avenue where it can contain thousands of people but nothing is happening there”, the Editor added.

Citizens leaving  

On the issue that most citizens and foreigners have left, and keep moving out of the country, Osman said “the climate is not conducive for any activities so a lot of people have left the country. Some nationals from Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal and others have also left”.

Announcements

He added that “last night at between 7pm to 10pm, there were announcements on TV and radio in both English and local languages that they came to assure the people that there will be peace so the people should go on with their activities. It was last night but it has caused a lot of fear in the people and they are indoors now”.

By Kweku Antwi-Otoo|Onua 95.1FM|3news.com

The military says it will be on standby to stop any violence that may arise

Reserve Defence Minister position for ex-military chiefs – Kofi Kapito

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The military says it will be on standby to stop any violence that may arise

The military says it will be on standby to stop any violence that may arise

The Chief Executive Officer of Consumer Protection Agency Kofi Kapito is advocating a shift in paradigm in relation to appointing a civilian to supervise the country’s Defence Ministry.

According to him, the practice is tantamount to “putting square pegs in a round hole”, which he said should be stopped.

He claimed on Onua FM’s Yen Nsempa that appointing people who are not experts to head ministries is contributing largely to the underdevelopment of the country, since politicians appointed to those sectors add nothing or little to the sector.

Kofi Kapito is therefore appealing to governments (present and future) to consider appointing at least a former military officer to head the Defence Ministry.

“Let me explain something to you, Ghana here we are lucky, elsewhere in the developed countries, civilian will not be appointed to head a security agency, how much more a whole Defence Ministry. It is unheard of; it does not work like that. Those that we say we are following (USA & Europe) in terms of democracy are not appointing civilians to the positions of security chief but Ghana the situation is different,” Kofi Kapito asserted.

The Consumer Protection Agency boss contended that the position of a Defence Minister, whose duty vastly will be dealing with military, should either be reserved for a retired military officer or a senior most serving officer who is in the best position to understand the dealings and operations of the country’s defence mechanisms.

“The fact that you hold position in parliament as Chairman or Ranking Member of the Defence Committee, is not an automatic guarantee that if your party forms government you should be made the defence minister that is retrogressive,” he said

Ministry of Defence is the governmental department responsible for defending the Republic of Ghana from internal and external military threats and promotion of Ghanaian national defence interests.

By Bright Dzakah |OnuaFM|3news.com

King Mohammed VI

King Mohammed VI postpones trip to Ghana

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King Mohammed VI

His Majesty King Mohammed VI, of the Kingdom of Morocco, has postponed his planned visit to Ghana.

He was expected to arrive in Ghana on Wednesday, January 18, 2017 for an official visit.

But a statement by Eugene Arhin Acting Director of Communications, Flagstaff House Communications Bureau, announced:

“Unfortunately, His Majesty the King, Mohammed VI, King of Morocco, has had to postpone his scheduled visit to Ghana. A new date for the visit will be communicated in due course.”

The visit was aimed at deepening the existing cordial relations between Ghana and Morocco, as well present an opportunity to define new areas of co-operation that would serve the mutual interests of the two countries.

He was expected to hold bilateral talks with President Akufo-Addo before his departure.

Source: 3news.com | Ghana