Facing civil unrest and strikes in the crucial mining sector, Guinea’s President Alpha Conde reshuffled his government overnight, appointing new finance and security ministers among others.
State Television quoted by the website Africanews website on Sunday announced the changes. No official reason was given for the sweeping changes which followed the appointment of a new prime minister, Ibrahima Kassory Fofana.
The changes came amid heightened political tensions and speculation that Conde may be seeking to modify the constitution ahead of a 2020 election.
Guinea is Africa’s top producer of bauxite, the ore of aluminium, and Conde’s government has faced repeated strikes by mineworkers, as well as teachers and has seen civil unrest over local elections.
It has also suffered embarrassment over allegations by French authorities that billionaire tycoon Vincent Bollore’s conglomerate backed Conde’s election campaign in exchange for a port concession. Both Bollore and Conde deny any wrongdoing.
In his reshuffle Conde replaced 13 out of 33 ministers in his government. Finance Minister Maladho Kaba was sacked and replaced by Mamady Camara, Guinea’s former ambassador to South Africa. Her deputy, Budget Minister Mohamed Lamine Doumbouya, was replaced by former central bank official Ismael Dioubate.
Security Minister Abdoul Kabele Camara, in place since Conde’s election victory in 2010, was replaced by Alpha Ibrahima Keira, a loyalist from the regime of dictator Lansana Conte, who died in 2008.
As well as bauxite, Guinea has some of the world’s largest deposits of iron ore, but decades of mining have failed to lift most Guineans out of poverty.
About 10 people were killed in February and March when riots erupted in the capital Conakry and other cities following local elections, which the opposition said were marred by fraud.
Conde’s opponents also fear he seeks to modify the constitution to stand for a third term in 2020. Conde has not yet commented on his intentions, but speculation over them has had a destabilising effect.
The son of Guinea’s first president and his wife face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty in Texas of holding a young woman as a domestic slave.
Denise Cros Toure and Mohammed Toure
The AFP quoting US Justice Department officials say Mohamed Toure, 57, and Denise Cros-Toure, 57, appeared in a federal court in Fort Worth, Texas on Thursday to face a criminal complaint of forced labor.
Toure is the son of Ahmed Sekou Toure, the first president of the west African coastal nation of Guinea. He was Guinea’s leader from 1958 until his death in 1984.
The couple arranged for the unnamed victim, who spoke no English, to travel alone from her village in Guinea to work at their home in Southlake, Texas, in January 2000.
“The victim’s Guinean passport indicated that she was five years old at the time,” the statement read.
“Throughout the years, until the victim escaped in August 2016, the defendants forced the victim to labor in their home for long hours without pay.”
The young woman was required “to cook, clean, do the laundry, perform yardwork, and paint,” as well as care for the couple’s five children.
Even though the victim was close in age to the children, “the defendants denied her access to schooling and the other opportunities afforded to their children.”
The couple allegedly took the victim’s passport “and caused her to remain unlawfully in the United States after her visa expired,” isolated her from her family, “and emotionally and physically abused her.”
The victim eventually with help from some former neighbours in August 2016, the statement reads.
An attorney for the couple, Scott Palmer, fiercely denied the allegations in an email to The Washington Post.
“The complaint is riddled with salacious allegations, fabrications, and lies,” Palmer told The Post.
He said the couple were looking forward “to revealing the motivation of this woman to lie, betray, and attempt to destroy the family that took her in at the request of her father.”
Several businessmen, women, children and foreigners plying the main border entry of Liberia and Guinea in Ganta, Nimba are said to be under serious harassments by officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP), Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization.
West African Journal Magazine correspondent quoting reports from that part of the country, normal activities at the main border in Ganta, Nimba County came to a standstill on Sunday, February 11, 2018, when officials of the Transnational Crime Unit, (TCU) Alex Kromah and Moses P. Jones, seized a Guinean commercial truck with plate GF 8682 loaded with goods from Guinea to Liberia for what they referred to as ‘security reason.’
Speaking to our correspondent, the officers said they were trained as Transnational Crime Unit agents to check every moving object along the Ganta-Guinea border especially the inspection of goods and other harmful substances.
“We are trained Transnational Crime Unit; we check on every moving objects, such as vehicles with goods, our operations here in Ganta is to inspect trucks from Guinea, this is a special security operation something that headquarter knows about.” “We will furnish the Director of Police from here and remember, we don’t speak to the media; we are security officers; we have our spokesperson in Monrovia, a Transnational Crime Unit (TCU) Officers Moses P. Jones and Alex Kromah,” said when they were asked by journalists.
A businesswoman identified as Hawa Kamara complain of being harassed on many occasions by those very officers. According to Madam Kamara during their security check some of their goods were reported missing. The businesswoman who has always purchased her goods from neighboring Guinea said that upon her arrival at the Ganta-Guinea border some of the officers of the Transnational Crime Unit (TCU) arrested the truck carrying her under false pretense that some illegal items were found on the truck.
Explaining her ordeal, businesswoman Kamara disclosed that the intent of the officers was to extort money and intimidate her by harassing and threatening her so that she could give money for her release.
Some citizens in that part of the country have complained that the situation is creating serious hardship in the county and on the business community; most especially Liberians from the southeastern region.
She further alleged that in December 2017, the same officers arrested their truck with goods upon arrival in Ganta saying that the goods contained arms and ammunitions though the information turned out to be false.
“We spent three days at the border during that time and after searching the truck, no weapons or gunshots were found in the truck but they kept us for nights and finally took money from us,” she said.
Madam Kamara pointed accusing fingers at the two TCU officers, Jones and Kromah for leaving their assignment in the Country’s Capital City, Monrovia to Ganta to inspect a truck from Guinea with goods.
Members of the business community in Ganta Nimba County described the action of the two officers as criminal and a complete security harassment.
They are calling on the George M. Weah-Government especially Ministry of Justice to
investigate the operation of the two officers and all government security institutions in the country.
A Joint Situational Report issued on Wednesday by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) says that a total of nine cases of Meningococcal Disease has been reported in the northwest of the West African country of Liberia.
The report say there have been 4 deaths as of January 23, 2018 but no new cases have been reported since January 24th. The report says Neisseria Meningitides sero-group W had been found in samples in two of three cases in Foya District, Lofa County Liberia.
According to the report, “…Fourteen new contacts were identified on January 23, 2018. In total, 239 contacts have been identified and listed and are under follow-up. 213, which is about 89% of the contacts have received chemoprophylaxis (ciprofloxacin 500mg, single dose)…”
This an antibiotic which is administered to treat the disease.
The report further disclosed that a total of 5 case patients have been admitted for treatment and 2 have been treated and discharged while 3 others are still undergoing medical treatment.
28 health care workers have undergone refresher training in case management of the Meningococcol infection in the area and community members in Foya have been given orientation on the simple identification of the disease while community surveillance has been increased.
The U.S based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says, the bacteria called Neisseria Meningitidis cause meningococcal disease. About 1 in 10 people have these bacteria in the back of their nose and throat with no signs or symptoms of disease; this is called being ‘a carrier’. But sometimes the bacteria invade the body and cause certain illnesses, which are known as meningococcal disease, the CDC says.
Spread of the Disease:
The CDC notes that in the spread of the meningococcal disease …”People spread meningococcal bacteria to other people by sharing respiratory and throat secretions (saliva or spit). Generally, it takes close (for example, coughing or kissing) or lengthy contact to spread these bacteria. Fortunately, they are not as contagious as germs that cause the common cold or the flu.
People do not catch them through casual contact or by breathing air where someone with meningococcal disease has been. Sometimes the bacteria spread to people who have had close or lengthy contact with a patient with meningococcal disease. Those at increased risk of getting sick include:
People who live with the patient
2. Anyone with direct contact with the patient’s oral secretions, such as a boyfriend or girlfriend“
According to the report, Ebola (RT-PCR), Lassa Fever (RT-PCR), yellow fever (serology-IgM) and typhoid (WIDAL) have been ruled out in specimens collected from some of the human cases.
An Ebola outbreak in the West African sub-region in 2014-2015 killed over 11,300 in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and there are about 10,000 Ebola survivors in the region, according to WHO data.
The Ebola outbreak laid bare the glaring inadequacy of health facilities and personnel in the three countries.
Medical observers say no major programs have been implemented to address the woeful lack of national health programs in the three countries and there are fears that another pandemic outbreak will devastate the poverty stricken populations.
Guinea’s Minister of National Defense Mohamed Diané Tuesday in Dakar urged “tackling the seeds of radicalization, if we want to eradicate terrorism. ”
“Social inequality, poverty and underemployment of youth are the seeds of terrorism that need to be addressed. If we win the battle for the development and equitable distribution of our resources, we will win this battle imposed on us by terrorists,” Diané said.
The website Journal du Cameroun reports that Minister Diane was speaking during a panel discussion on “terrorism and violent extremism”, on the second and final day of the 4th edition of the Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security in Africa.
The Guinean minister added that the response against terrorism must be adapted to the situation on the ground.
“We must also fight for drying up the sources of terrorism financing,” he went on, adding that Guinea has, thanks to the support from Morocco, trained 500 imams and preachers to combat radicalization.
According to MINUSMA head Mahamat Saleh Annadif, terrorism is a challenge for Africa and the world, and everyone agrees that it needs a global response.
“In doing so, it is important to look at its real causes of social injustice, underdevelopment, poverty and unemployment. Prevention is extremely important in the fight against terrorism,” he said at the forum.
According to the organizers, this 4th edition has registered nearly 700 participants, comprising regional and international actors, political and military authorities, experts and academics, diplomats, representatives of international organizations, civil society and the private sector.
The two-day meeting focused on the need for integrated approaches, promoting exchanges, sharing experiences, synergies at the national, sub-regional, regional or regional level.
The Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security in Africa was born at the Elysée Summit on Peace and Security in Africa held in 2013 in Paris, where African heads of state planned to deepen reflection on the framework of the Forum.
The holding of a high-level panel, shortly after Monday’s opening ceremony, is major innovation of the 2017 edition, which is being held at the Abdou Diouf International Conference Centre in Diamniado just outside Dakar.
Philadelphia, PA USA – Nov 10, 2017 -Data contained in the Paradise Papers, which is a giant leak of off shore financial records exposing global crime and corruption has named Madam Mamadie Touré, the widow of late Guinean President Lansana Conté, as a person involved in a multi-million dollar bribery scheme for mining rights in the poor West African country.
Information seen by West African Journal investigative team quotes US authorities as alleging that Madam Toure “received $5.3 million in bribes to help a mining company obtain rights to the world’s richest iron ore deposit.”In 2014, federal prosecutors were granted a request to and raided the home of Madam Toure in Jacksonville, Florida. Properties seized including restaurant equipment and an ice cream cooler together were worth about $1million.
The leaked information contained in the database of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) disclose that Madam Toure was granted legal Power of Attorney by a British Virgin Islands company known as Matinda Partners to, among other things, “…negotiate,conclude, sign, execute and deliver on behalf of the Company such conveyances, transfers, assignments, deeds, documents, licenses, authorities or agreements as said Attorney shall consider necessary or proper to enable to it to dispose of or acquire any assets in any part of the world (hereinafter referred to as “the assets”) on such terms as the Attorney shall consider proper or desirable in his absolute discretion…”
Shortly thereafter in 2006, the leaked information revealed that the widow of the late General Conte entered into a business relationship with an un-named mining company. However, at the time, BSGR, a mining company owned by an Israeli magnate Benny Steinmetz, in partnership with a Brazilian firm, owned iron ore rights in the Simandou and Zogota area of Guinea.
In December, 2014, the FCPA online blog reported that as part of a federal grand jury probe of BSGR’s business dealings in Guinea, Madam Toure had become “co-operating witness” a year earlier. She reportedly wore an FBI wire to record a conversation with a middle man for the BSGR company. In the recorded information, the middle man, a French national named Frederic Cilins, is heard offering millions of dollars in bribe to Madam Toure, if she would agree to lie to US prosecutors and destroy incriminating evidence.
The Guinean government later revoked the mining licenses of BSGR, accusing it of obtaining its license through corrupt means. It’s Brazilian partner known as Vale SA. BSGR denied any wrong-doing and its Brazilian partner was never implicated in any wrong doing.
U.S. authorities, according to the leaked documents in the Paradise Papers, alleged that Matinda Partners, which had earlier granted Madam Toure Power of Attorney, was used as a go-between entity to funnel $5.3 million to her “to help it win a disputed mining concession from her husband, then President Lansana Conte, shortly before he died in late 2008…”
As part of effort to reduce her public exposure and connection with Matinda Partners during the scheme, Madam Toure reportedly utilized “stand-in” shareholder companies Beneficence Foundation and the Swiss based Agefor SA as covers. Madam Toure has admitted to the bribery scheme and has been cooperating with U.S. authorities.
Also included the ICIJ database is Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who was listed as a Director of the Bermuda registered offshore company known as Songhai Financial Holdings Ltd. a subsidiary of Databank’s finance, fund management and investment company Databank Brokerage Ltd., from April 2001 until September 2012.
Databank, was co-founded by an investment banker and current Finance Minister of Ghana Mr. Ken Nana Yaw Ofori-Atta.
In response to a request for comment, ICIJ reports that. “Stephen D. Cashin, chief executive of Pan African Capital and a board member of Databank, responded to a request for comment from Sirleaf-Johnson that Songhai was designed for offshore investors to invest in Ghana’s Databank and that Databank had no business in Liberia. President Johnson-Sirleaf was elected to the board of Databank before being elected president, he told ICIJ, and she has no interest in Songhai or Databank. Cashin said Sirleaf-Johnson actually resigned from Songhai before her election campaign, but the resignation was “not effected” until 2012 due to “an administrative oversight” in Bermuda.”
President Johnson-Sirleaf began her first term in January, 2006. No wrongdoing is attributed to her or Ghanaian Minister Ofori-Atta from information contained in the ICIJ database.
Governments around the world have begun to scrutinize the participation of companies, politicians and their nationals who are mentioned the the Paradise Papers and their involvement in secret and questionable offshore dealings.
The ICIJ, in its disclaimer, notes that there are legitimate uses for offshore companies and trusts and it does not intend to suggest or imply that any people, companies or other entities included in the ICIJ Offshore Leaks Database have broken the law or otherwise acted improperly.
This ICIJ database contains information on almost 500,000 offshore entities that are part of the Panama Papers, the Offshore Leaks and the Bahamas Leaks and some from politicians featured in the Paradise Papers investigation. The data covers nearly 40 years up to early 2016 and links to people and companies in more than 200 countries and territories.
The Geneva based Red Cross Federation says aid money amounting to over $8 million USD in Ebola assistance cannot be accounted due to fraud and corruption in West Africa.
In a rather stunning admission to the BBC on Friday, the global humanitarian organization says it conducted a financial audit and discovered that about $2.7 million USD disappeared in what was referred to as ‘fraudulently overpriced supplies, or salaries for non-existent aid workers of the local Red Cross office in Liberia.
Corrupt Red Cross staff in Sierra Leone reportedly colluded with local bank employees to illegally siphon off about $2 million USD while fake custom bills in Guinea led to the loss of about $1 million dollars.
The Red Cross says it regrets the financial loss of aid money and has instituted stricter financial controls to avoid a repeat. Red Cross staff involved will be held to account, the organization said.
In March, 2016, police in Liberia closed the local Red Cross office following dismissal of the entire Board of Directors, Secretary General and Head of Program by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. An investigation by Liberian authorities revealed that donor funds amount to $1.8 million dollars were missing and unaccounted for.
At the time, Reuters quoted a spokesperson for the the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Switzerland as saying it had undertaken an audit of the Liberian member organization in 2015 and “…we found some irregularities and that led to an investigation.”
In an investigative report entitled, Lost on the Ebola Money Trail, published in 2015 on the Humanopsphere website, science journalist Amy Maxmen wrote that “…Far more than $3 million in foreign aid contributions have been donated in support of the Ebola response and much of it appears to have never reached the intended recipients in Sierra Leone…”
According to Ms. Maxmen, the United Nation’s online financial tracker from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs puts Ebola donations to West Africa at $3.3 billion. According to this source, the US government donated 1.58 billion.
Beginning in March, 2014, the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone experienced the largest devastation of the Ebola epidemic. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 11,300 persons died before the outbreak was deemed over in March, 2016.
About 4,800 of the Ebola casualty were recorded in Liberia.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) denotes Symptoms of Ebola to include:
Abdominal (stomach) pain
Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)
Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is 8 to 10 days. Recovery from Ebola depends on good supportive clinical care and the patient’s immune response. People who recover from Ebola infection develop antibodies that last for at least 10 years.
No one has been prosecuted for the disappearance of Ebola donor funds in Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone.
Monrovia, Liberia: President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has received in audience His Excellency, Professor Alpha Conde, President of the Republic of Guinea and Chairman, African Union and His Excellency, Faure Gnassingbé, President of the Republic of Togo and Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State of ECOWAS. The Liberian leader received her colleagues at the Roberts International Airport in Harbel, Margibi County.
According to an Executive Mansion release, the three leaders held tete-a-tete in the Presidential Lounge at the Roberts International Airport.
Meanwhile, following the formalities at the Roberts International Airport, President Sirleaf opened a one-day political stakeholders’ meeting at the Boulevard Palace involving major players in the just ended October 10 Presidential and Representatives elections.
Speaking during the opening of the one-day stakeholders’ meeting, President Sirleaf briefed colleagues on the state of Liberia’s electioneering process, a successful first round coupled with scheduled runoff. She further informed the Chairs of the AU and ECOWAS during the meeting at the Boulevard Palace Hotel in Sinkor on Wednesday, November 1, 2017 that the transition remains on course and noted that the process must be concluded in time for her to turn over to a successor.
She reminded political leaders around the table of their commitment to the Farmington Declaration in the presence of West African leaders. She noted concerns expressed regarding irregularities during the first round and said the appropriate channels are being used to handle whatever the concerns.
The Liberian enjoined her Guinean and Togolese counterparts to listen to the various concerns and bring their expertise to bear on the table with a view to resolving those issues. She cautioned the need for aggrieved parties to bear in mind that Liberia is the only country that they have and the peace of this nation should be sustained at all cost.
President Sirleaf called on all those who took part in the process to remain peaceful, and respect the elections laws of Liberia and give the process a chance to go on peacefully and successfully. She challenged those dissatisfied to go about it in a peaceful manner and within the constitutional time-frame.
President Sirleaf sounded a caveat to all those around the table in the midst of the West African leaders to realize that they believe in peace, in the Liberian nation and should commit themselves to staying the course of peace and commit to remaining in the country, following the elections.
The one-day political stakeholders’ meeting was led by Presidents Conde of Guinea and Gnassingbe of Togo with Vice President, Joseph Nyumah Boakai of the Unity Party, Ambassador, George M. Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change, Businessman, Benoni Urey, All Liberian Party, Mr. Alexander B. Cummings of the Alternative National Congress, among others in attendance.