Liberia: Liberty Party To Appeal Dismissal of Its Complaint By NEC

MONROVIA (Reuters) – Following the dismissal of its complaint by the electoral commission of Liberia, the opposition Liberty Party (LP) now says it will appeal the decision to the country’s high court.

LP Leader Charles W. Brumskine
LP Leader Charles W. Brumskine

The LP had charged that the October 10th Presidential and General Elections were unfair and flawed with fraud.

The small West African country is now in a political impasse due to the cancellation of a run-off election which was set for October 7th between the candidate of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Senator George M.  Weah and incumbent Vice President and candidate of the ruling Unity Party Joseph N.  Boakai.

The LP placed third in the October 10th elections but maintains that the voting was fraudulent and initially petitioned Liberia’s Supreme Court to halt the run-vote scheduled for November 7th.

Following a hearing before the full bench of the Supreme Court in Monrovia, the Court ordered a stay on the run-off vote and instructed the country’s National Elections Commission(NEC) to hear and dispose of the complaint of the LP.

NEC-Chairman
NEC-Chairman Jerome Korkoyah

In a decision last week, a hearing officer of the NEC  dismissed the LP’s complaint of voting fraud.

The LP says it is not surprised by the dismissal of its complaint by the NEC and vowed to appeal to the country’s Supreme Court.

The current delay in electing a successor to two time incumbent Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is threatening a constitutional crisis, if not resolved quickly.

The U.S. and European Union have both called for quick resolutions to  the election impasse and legal issues.

International observers of the October 10th Presidential and General Elections have said there were no major issues which would affect the result of the elections.

West African Journal Magazine

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) On Decline In Senegal

http://players.brightcove.net/665003303001/SJg0bzqkZ_default/index.html?videoId=5166644786001

In the West African nation of  Senegal, the prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) among younger women is trending downwards.

Senegal Map
Senegal Map

According to a report from the English and Wales based Charity 28 Too Many quoting data released in 2015 from the Agence Nationale de la Statistique et de la Demographique of Senegal and the Senega: Enquette Demographique et de Sante et de Sante 2015, the prevalence of FGM among women between the ages of 15 – 49 is 24.2%.

According to the group End FGM European Network FGM “comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO).”

FGM which is carried out by traditional health practitioners and herbalists or community elders in Senegal is done on girls before they reach the age of 10 and around two thirds about 67.6% by the age of 5, according to the data used.

An emergency-room doctor in the U.S. Midwest has been arrested and charged with performing female genital mutilation on girls between the ages of 6 and 8, in the first criminal case brought under a 1996 law that outlawed the practice. Jumana Nagarwala, a 44-year-old doctor at a hospital in Detroit, Michigan, is accused of performing genital mutilation on young girls as far back as 2005, according to a criminal complaint released Thursday. The U.S. Department of Justice said she
Ceremony in Senegal Announcing End to FGM

According to data, 50% of women between the ages of 15 – 49 were “cut, flesh removed.”

In the south of the country, FGM is widely carried out and accounts for 76.9% and about 6.9% in central Senegal.

Citing the prevalence of FGM across the West African nation, the data used notes that among various ethnic groups  “…the highest practicing group include the Mandigue 71.1%, Sonike 60.9%, Poular 50.7% and Diola 47.9%. The lowest prevalences are found among the Wolofs 1.3% and the Serers 1.1% citing low sample sizes. FGM prevalences among Animists is 44.8%, among Muslims 25% and 7.8% among Christians. 14.4% of women and 15.7% of men believe that FGM is a religious requirement.”

The practice of FGM shows a decline in women between the ages of 15-49 now at 24.2% compared to 28.2 in 2005 in Senegal. Data further shows a decline of the practice among younger women.

Legislation was passed in 1999 by the Senegalese Government which specifically sanctioned the practice of FGM.

International Practice of FGM

FGM In Africa
FGM In Africa

The United Nations says that FGM is practiced in various communities in the following African Countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zambia.

In some western countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom, it is reported that FGM is practiced among diaspora populations from places where the practice is common done.

However, there is an increase  effort to fight and eliminate the practice in Africa and Western countries including the formulation and enforcement of stringent legislation.

In April, 2017, the Voice of America reported that  “An emergency-room doctor in the U.S. Midwest has been arrested and charged with performing female genital mutilation on girls between the ages of 6 and 8, in the first criminal case brought under a 1996 law that outlawed the practice. Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, a 44-year-old doctor at a hospital in Detroit, Michigan, is accused of performing genital mutilation on young girls as far back as 2005, according to a criminal complaint released … The U.S. Department of Justice said she “performed horrifying acts of brutality on the most vulnerable victims.”

US-DOJ LOGO
US Department of Justice

The US Government says it considers FGM a “…serious human rights abuse, and a form of gender based violence and child abuse…”

Criminal consequences of performing or assisting in FGM  against US law is 5 years in jail and fines or both and may have serious immigration consequences for immigrants who are convicted.

Effects of FGM

Some of the most common problems associated with the practice of FGM include:

  • Severe bleeding, pain and shock which sometimes lead to death
  • Infection, which sometimes lead to death
  • Urination and menstrual obstruction
  • Increased risk of urinary tract infections and HIV
  • Mental health problems, including PTSD
  • Sexual dysfunction, including dyspareunia
  • Complications in pregnancy and childbirth, which sometimes lead to death

Videos courtesy of Al Jazeera

By Emmanuel Abalo 

West African Journal Magazine

Ghana To Undertake Multi-Agencies Simulation Security Exercise

ACCRA, Ghana (Xinhua) — Ghana will hold a multi-agency simulation exercise to assess the country’s counter-terrorism preparedness and capabilities, a senior security official has said in Accra during the week.

Flag Map of Ghana
Flag Map of Ghana

Commissioner George Asiamah, who is also director of counter- terrorism at the Ministry of National Security, said the exercise, scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 25, will be a form of rehearsal to sharpen security agencies’ capability to respond to terror attacks and recover from them.

Although Ghana has not directly experienced an attack on home soil, Asiamah said, regional, global trends and recent incidents in neighboring countries give serious cause for concern and the threats have necessitated the need for a holistic approach to preventing acts of terrorism in Ghana.

Ghana-Police
Ghana Police

He said the security agencies have embarked on a sensitization program to educate the public and also to involve the responding agencies in regular capacity-building sessions, including strategies beyond conventional warfare to make Ghana combat-ready and ever-prepared to fight terrorist threats.

Asiamah stressed the need for security agencies to better manage intelligence and facilitate effective communication between responding agencies, the public and the media in the event of an attack or possible attack.

“We need to build and sustain a community of counter-terrorism professionals through multi-disciplinary training and refresher courses periodically to sustain our alertness,” he said.

The coordinator of the upcoming simulation exercise, code-named “Exercise Home Shield,” Lt. Col. Danso Ankrah, called on the media to play a leading role in counter-terrorism awareness among the public.

A key manifestation of contemporary terrorism in west Africa has been its transnational nature, whereby an attack executed in one location may be premeditated in another.

There have been major attacks in Mali, Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire.

Terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and Boko Haram have sought to extend their operational theaters and spheres of influence in the region, focusing recent attacks on “soft targets” to cause extensive civilian casualties, perpetrate fear and grab attention.

Xinhua

Zimbabwe: Emmerson Mnangagwa Inaugurated As President; Promises Economic Reforms

At a well attended ceremony in the capital Harare stadium, Zimbabwe’s new President who replaces former President Robert Mugabe has been sworn in.

President and Ms. Emmerson Mnangagwa
President and Ms. Emmerson Mnangagwa At Inauguration

President Emmerson Mnangagwa  praised outgoing leader Robert Mugabe as “the father of the nation” during his inauguration address on Friday.

Before a crowd of thousands, the newly inaugurated President said, “Let me at this stage pay tribute to one of the, and the only surviving, founding fathers of our nation, comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe. “Let us all accept and acknowledge his immense contribution to the building of our nation.”

Mnangagwa promised that all foreign investments will be safe in Zimbabwe. “As we build a new democratic Zimbabwe we ask those who have punished us in the past, to reconsider their political and economic sanctions… Let this make way for a new beginning. SADC is our home… and we commit ourselves to further its vision and ideals.”
Mnangagwa’s inauguration marks the end of a tumultuous series of events from an unprecedented statement by the Army Chief General Constantino Chiwengo in which he warned the ruling party and President Mugabe about the “purge” of loyalists following the dismissal of Mnangagwa by Mugabe to the Army detaining Mugabe and his wife Grace and the start of Parliamentary impeachment proceedings which precipitated the resignation of President Mugabe on Tuesday.

The new Zimbabwe’s President who is is a former Defense Minister promised to fight corruption and said, “the culture of government must change, and change now.”

President Mnangagwa promised that “democratic” elections will be held next year as scheduled.

 

Opposition activists are, however, calling for electoral and other reforms and the release of all political prisoners before the holding of elections.
Shortly before the inaugural ceremonies, the Army Commander General Chiwengo arrived to cheers from the crowd in the stadium.
President Mnangagwa has asked Zimbabweans to avoid retribution and has promised to provided maximum protection for former President Robert Mugabe who remains in the country.
Video Courtesy of News24

Sierra Leone Police Says It Needs $1.7 Million For Election Security

The Sierra Leone Police  says it will need at least $1.7 million) to provide security for the country’s next general election.

Map of Sierra Leone
Map of Sierra Leone

The West African country’s Chief of Police Inspector Alieu Francis Munu said more funding might be required to accommodate additional security stakeholders in order to be fully prepared for Presidential and General elections which are scheduled for March, 2018.

Police Chief Munu, according to Journal du Cameroun web portal, told reporters that security plans are now underway ahead of the polls in Sierra Leone.

The Sierra Leonen Police Chief disclosed that additional recruits are undergoing police training in order to beef up the force of 14,000.

Sierra Leone Electoral Commision Head Mohamed Nfa Alie-Conteh
Sierra Leone Electoral Commission Head Mohamed Nfa Alie-Conteh

According to the timetable of the country’s National Electoral Commission (NEC), Campaign Period for Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council Elections runs from Feb 4 – March 5, 2018  followed by polling on March 7th.

If there is a run off contest, it will be held between March 24 – 28th.

The National Electoral Commission says it has completed voter registration and an estimated 3.1 million Sierra Leonens are registered to voted in the much anticipated elections.

There are 12 political parties contesting the elections including the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) led by outgoing President Ernest Bai Koroma and the biggest opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).

West African Journal Magazine

 

Switzerland Imposes Sanctions on Individuals, Groups in Mali

Reports say the the Swiss government has imposed sanctions against various individuals and groups in conflict-riven Mali in line with a September United Nations Security Council resolution.

Map of Mali
Map of Mali

According to Swissinfo website quoting a Swiss Government statement, the measures include the freezing of assets of as yet unnamed people and a ban on travel for individuals or entities acting to undermine peace, security and stability in Mali.

The Government of Switzerland in its statement said “At present there are no entries on the list of persons and entities targeted by these measures.”

:Mali has been in a state of crisis since Islamic rebels took control of the north of the country between 2012 and 2013 following a coup d’état in March 2012.  A Swiss missionary worker Beatrice Stöckli is still being held hostage in the West African nation by extremists after her kidnap  in January, 2016 by the Group to Support Islam and Muslims”, the Swiss Government said.

UN Peacekeepers in Mali
UN Peacekeeping Mission In Mali

The Swiss government noted in its statement that “efforts to restore order to Mali have included elections in 2013 and 2016 and the signing of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali in 2015. Despite these measures, difficulties persist in the implementation of the agreement due to government instability, social dissatisfaction and terrorist attacks in the north of the country.”

The sanctions have been imposed in an effort to push forward the peace and reconciliation agreement, the statement added.

There are more than 11,000 UN troops deployed in Mali as part of its Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission which was established in 2013.

Even UN peacekeepers have come under targeted attacks by armed insurgents. In August, eight people died in an attack on a UN facility in Timbuktu.

West African Journal Magazine and Swissinfo

Facebook Launches Nigeria Initiative In Its Ambition to Drive Innovation, Skills Development and Economic Impact

LAGOS, Nigeria, November 23, 2017 — Facebook has announced a new nationwide initiative in Nigeria  to further cement its commitment and investment in the country, and across the continent.

Incorporating a series of high profile partnerships,a press statement issued by the web conglomerate and copied to West African Journal says, training programs and a physical space will serve as a center for learning and skills development

This set of initiatives is aimed at helping to develop and nurture communities, including small businesses, the tech and start-up ecosystem, youths and creatives., the release said.

Nigeria
Map of Nigeria

“In Nigeria, more than 22 million people use Facebook every month and 87% of SMEs say that when they hire, digital skills are more important than where an applicant went to school. This demonstrates that the power of digital skills to aid economic growth and development has never been more important”, commented Ebele Okobi, Facebook Public Policy Director, Africa.

“At Facebook, our mission is clear: To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. Our investments and commitments announced in Lagos today further reflect our intent to partner with Nigeria’s policy makers and its vibrant tech and entrepreneurial eco-system to create economic opportunity and independence in Nigeria and across Africa.’’

NG_HUB from Facebook

In partnership with CC Hub, Facebook will be opening the doors to its first community Hub space in the heart of Lagos, scheduled to open early next year. ‘NG_HUB from Facebook’ will be a multi-faceted creative space, which will connect and bring together developers, start-ups and the wider community to collaborate, learn and exchange ideas. The NG_HUB will also host a start-up incubator programme, as well as bespoke trainings, guest speakers and a dedicated event space, all aimed at attracting the best talent and driving innovation in Nigeria’s tech ecosystem.

Facebook Users
Facebook Users in Africa

Additionally, across Nigeria, Facebook will be supporting a number of existing tech Hubs to serve the communities outside Lagos. The hubs will function as learning centres for local communities, providing multiple opportunities for training and access.

Commenting on the announcement of NG_HUB in partnership with CC Hub, and Facebook’s further support of local hubs across Nigeria, Emeka Afigbo, Head of Platform Partnerships, Middle East & Africa said “Nigeria is producing a new generation of exciting start-ups that have incredible potential. We understand the important role Facebook plays here in Nigeria with developers and start-ups and are invested in helping these communities build for the next billion. One of our key passions at Facebook is nurturing and helping to develop the tech and start-up community, and I’m excited to announce our partnership with the Nigerian tech hub ecosystem especially the NG_HUB space, here in Lagos.”

Facebook Nigeria Skills Programmes 

Facebook
Facebook

Facebook is committed to working with Nigerian small businesses, tech entrepreneurs and the next generation of leaders to better understand and utilise the power of digital tools for economic growth. Launching a series of learning-based programmes facilitated by local training partners, these have been designed to provide skills that lead to employment and to support the growth of small businesses. The goal is to train and support over 50,000 students, small businesses and creative entrepreneurs across the country through a series of scaled digital skills trainings, as well as long-term impact programmes. The training programmes will include:

  • Aspiring Entrepreneurs: Digital (in partnership with the Fate Foundation) – a four-week intensive programme for entrepreneurs across Nigeria. This will be offered throughout the year in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Calabar, Ibadan, Kaduna and Enugu
  • Jobs for Youth: Coding for Employment – a training programme to develop Nigeria’s next generation of coders – designed to upskill developers and prepare them for employment
  • Boost your Business – designed for small, medium sized businesses owners, teaching the fundamentals of digital marketing for business growth, with the goal to help business owners better understand their brand, audience and how to best reach and service them online
  • Creative Entrepreneurship Training – specialised training designed specifically for creatives, including photographers, filmmakers, musicians, artists, bloggers and other creative content creators
  • Online Safety + Digital Literacy Training in Schools and Universities – featuring a series of online safety and digital literacy courses for secondary school and university students

Ahead of the programme launch, Facebook undertook a detailed ‘Economic Impact Study’ to further understand how communities like small businesses and consumers in Nigeria use the platform, and the effectiveness of social media as a growth tool. Nearly 1 in 2 small businesses on Facebook say they built their business on the platform, and 62% stated they have been able to use Facebook to help find employees for their business, whilst over half (58%) of small businesses on the platform say they have been able to hire more employees’ due to growth since joining Facebook.

Press Statement from FaceBook