NPP orders re-run in Korle Klottey constituency

The Steering Committee of the opposition NPP has ordered a re-run of parliamentary primaries in the Korle Klottey constituency following months of controversy over its fairness.

The party’s decision comes after it agreed with the parties to withdraw the case from court. Announcing the decision, ag. General Secretary John Boadu told anxious party supporters, the re-run was necessary if peace was to prevail in the constituency.

John Boadu said too much litigation has surrounded the results and only a re-run can resolve the factionalism in the constituency.
Philip Addison who went to court after losing to Nii Noi Nortey last August will now have the opportunity to re-launch his parliamentary bid.

He has maintained the results of the August 2 primaries were cooked to favour the former constituency chairman, Nii Noi Nortey.

Addison who polled 22 votes as against 393 votes for Nii Nortey boycotted the elections and accused constituency executives and the Electoral Commission of staging the polls.

“The Electoral Commission was very much into this thing, people were given double ballots and so on ...they [EC] were in on it. Everything has been cooked", he said.

Trouble started after then General Secretary Kwabena Agyepong in a letter directed that elections be held on Sunday 2nd August. There was an agreement to hold it on 8th August.

Addison’s camp felt shortchanged and withdrew from the process along with another contender, Nii Adjei Tawiah.

They argued their supporters would be in church on Sunday and other delegates were not adequately informed of the change of date. He went to court where he obtained a default judgement for a re-run.

But the party asked for out-of-court settlement. The latest decision by the party irked some of Nii Noi Nortey's supporters.

"Take your party! God will punish you people one by one" a woman fumed at the decision as Nii Noi's supporters left the party office.

Source: ghanaweb.com

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Deadly earthquake topples buildings in Taiwan city of Tainan

An earthquake has toppled several buildings in the south Taiwan city of Tainan, killing at least three people.

Rescue teams were trying to reach people trapped in rubble after the magnitude 6.4 quake struck early on Saturday as people were sleeping.

A baby and one other person died after a high-rise residential block collapsed. More than 220 people have been rescued.

President Ma Ying-jeou is on his way to Tainan, a city of two million people.

The quake was shallow, meaning its effects would have been amplified, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.

Television pictures show rescue workers frantically trying to reach people trapped in collapsed buildings, using ladders to climb over piles of rubble.

Taiwan's official news agency said at least 23 people had been injured in the multi-storey residential building, where about 200 people were believed to be living in about 60 households.

Tainan resident Emma told BBC World News people feared further tremors. "I felt the quake, it was terrible," she said.

Irving Chu was in a hostel in central Tainan. He said he had been woken up by a tremor lasting about 40 seconds.

"It was a violent jerking motion," he told BBC World News. "The entire room was shaking. We were just holding on to things. We were shaken up."

Barry Knapp, a British man in Taiwan, said he was 240km (150 miles) north of Tainan but still felt the tremor.

"I was just in bed, about to fall asleep, and shaking started happening," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"It was going on for about 20 to 30 seconds and it came in waves. It was shaking and then it eased off, but then it started shaking even harder."

The earthquake struck as people were getting ready for Chinese New Year.

"It has come at a bad time," journalist Jay Chen told the BBC.

"Sunday is New Year's Eve. People were preparing to celebrate and now many people will be homeless."

There were also reports of power outages.

Saturday's quake was felt in the capital Taipei 300 km away and there have since been several aftershocks.

A 7.6 magnitude quake in central Taiwan in 1999 killed more than 2,300 people.

Taiwan lies near the junction of two tectonic plates and often sees tremors.

Rescue workers in Taiwan after a strong earthquake

A building badly damaged by an earthquake in Taiwan

A building damaged in the quake

Source: bbc.com

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New York crane collapse kills at least one person

A large construction crane has collapsed in lower Manhattan in New York City, killing one person and injuring at least two others.

The Fire Department of New York confirmed the fatality and is on the scene responding to the accident.

The collapse happened along West Broadway early on Friday morning in the Tribeca neighbourhood.

The downed crane, which filled the street, fell onto numerous parked cars.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the victim was sitting in a parked car at the time of the accident, and that it was caused by high winds.

Workers were in the process of lowering the crane due to the high winds when it collapsed. No workers were injured.

Map of where the collapse occured

Crane collapsed in New York

"It was right outside my window," witness Robert Harold told the AP news agency. "It was a crashing sound. You could feel the vibration in the building. I looked out the window and saw it lying in the street."

Mr Harold said he saw someone trapped in a car and someone lying in the street.

The crane was replacing air conditioning equipment in an existing building when the crash occurred, the first for New York City since 2008.

"The fact is, this is a very very sad incident, we lost a life," Mr De Blasio said. "If you go out there and see what happened, thank God it was not worse."

All cranes in New York City have been ordered to be lowered after the incident.

Debris on street from crane collapse

The boom of the crane was 500ft (152m), authorities said.

The weather in New York City this morning was windy with snow flurries.

Public transportation is delayed and subway trains are bypassing the area due to the collapsed crane.

Source: bbc.com

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Alassane Ouattara: No more Ivorians will go to ICC

Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara says he will not send any more Ivorians to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

This means none of the president's supporters will go to the ICC.

His long-time rival Laurent Gbagbo is on trial for war crimes at the ICC over the civil war sparked by his refusal to accept defeat in the 2010 election.

Both sides were accused of atrocities during the four-month conflict, which left some 3,000 people dead.

Mr Outtara said Ivory Coast now has an operational justice system so future prosecutions will happen in national courts.

He was speaking during a meeting in Paris with his French counterpart Francois Hollande.

Campaign group Human Rights Watch has warned that the ICC gave a "perception of victor's justice" by only prosecuting one side of Ivory Coast's conflict.

Mr Gbagbo's trial in The Hague, in the Netherlands, started in January and is likely to last three to four years.

Mr Gbagbo and ex-militia leader Charles Ble Goude deny murder, rape, attempted murder and persecution.

The ICC also accuses pro-Gbagbo militias of attacking members of ethnic groups believed to support Mr Ouattara.

But pro-Ouattara forces were also accused of similar atrocities and these have not been prosecuted in the ICC.

Last year, several former leaders of the pro-Ouattara rebels were indicted in Ivory Coast.

Among them is Cherif Ousmane, who remains a high-ranking officer in the presidential guard.

None of them is currently under arrest, reports the BBC Afrique's Abdourahmane Dia.

The ICC had issued an arrest warrant for Mr Gbagbo's wife, Simone, too, but this was dismissed by the Ivorian government.

Instead she was taken to court in Ivory Coast, along with 82 other supporters of her husband - 15 of whom were acquitted.

She was sentenced to 20 years in prison in March 2015 for undermining state security.

Source: bbc.com

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Spared by the hitmen with principles

One year ago a group of gunmen in Burundi was hired to kill a woman visiting from Australia. But the hit did not go as planned, leaving her with a chance to turn the tables on the man who wanted her dead.

"I felt like somebody who had risen again," says Noela Rukundo.

She was supposed to be dead. The hired killers had been paid. They had even explained how they would dispose of the body.

But now, waiting outside her house for the last of the mourners to leave, she was ready to face down the man who had put out a contract for her murder.

"When I get out of the car, he saw me straight away. He put his hands on his head and said, 'Is it my eyes? Is it a ghost?'"

"Surprise! I'm still alive!" she replied.

Noela's ordeal began five days earlier, and 7,500 miles away in her native Burundi. She had returned to Africa from her home in Melbourne, Australia, to attend her stepmother's funeral.

"I had lost the last person who I call 'mother'," she says. "It was very painful. I was so stressed."

By early evening Noela had retreated to her hotel room. As she lay dozing in the stifling city heat of Bujumbura, her phone rang. It was a call from Australia - from Balenga Kalala, her husband and father to her three youngest children.

"He says he'd been trying to get me for the whole day," Noela says. "I said I was going to bed. He told me, 'To bed? Why are you sleeping so early?'

"I say, 'I'm not feeling happy'. And he asks me, 'How's the weather? Is it very, very hot?' He told me to go outside for fresh air."

Noela took his advice.

"I didn't think anything. I just thought that he cared about me, that he was worried about me."

A wedding photo (Balenga Kalala and Noela Rukundo)

But moments after stepping outside the hotel compound, Noela found herself in danger.

"I opened the gate and I saw a man coming towards me. Then he pointed the gun on me.

"He just told me, 'Don't scream. If you start screaming, I will shoot you. They're going to catch me, but you? You will already be dead.'

"So, I did exactly what he told me."

The gunman motioned Noela towards a waiting car.

"I was sitting between two men. One had a small gun, one had a long gun. And the men say to the driver, 'Pass us a scarf.' Then they cover my face.

"After that, I didn't say anything. They just said to the driver, 'Let's go.'

"I was taken somewhere, 30 to 40 minutes, then I hear the car stop."

Noela was pushed inside a building and tied to a chair.

"One of the kidnappers told his friend, 'Go call the boss.' I can hear doors open but I didn't know if their boss was in a room or if he came from outside.

"They ask me, 'What did you do to this man? Why has this man asked us to kill you?' And then I tell them, 'Which man? Because I don't have any problem with anybody.' They say, 'Your husband!' I say, 'My husband can't kill me, you are lying!' And then they slap me.

"After that the boss says, 'You are very stupid, you are fool. Let me call who has paid us to kill you.'"

The gang's leader made the call.

"We already have her," he triumphantly told his paymaster.

The phone was put on loudspeaker for Noela to hear the reply.

Her husband's voice said: "Kill her."

Just hours earlier, the same voice had consoled her over the death of her stepmother and urged her to take fresh air outside the hotel. Now her husband Balenga Kalala had condemned her to death.

"I heard his voice. I heard him. I felt like my head was going to blow up.

"Then they described for him where they were going to chuck the body."

At that, Noela says she passed out.

Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Balenga Kalala had arrived in Australia in 2004 as a refugee, after fleeing a rebel army that had rampaged through his village, killing his wife and young son.

Settling in Melbourne, he soon found steady employment, first in a seafood processing factory and then in a warehouse as a forklift operator.

"He could already speak English," recalls Noela, who also arrived in Australia in 2004. "My social worker was his social worker, and they used him to translate Swahili."

The two fell in love. They set up home in the Kings Park suburb of the city. Noela had five children from a previous relationship and went on to have three more with Kalala.

"I knew he was a violent man," admits Noela. "But I didn't believe he can kill me. I loved this man with all my heart!

"I give him, beautiful and handsome, two boys and one girl. So I don't know why he choose to kill me."


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As the gang's leader ended the call to Kalala, Noela was coming round.

"I said to myself, I was already dead. Nothing I can do can save me.

"But he looks at me and then he says, 'We're not going to kill you. We don't kill women and children.'

"He told me I'd been stupid because my husband paid them the deposit in November. And when I went to Africa it was January. He asked me, 'How stupid can you be, from November, you can't see that something is wrong?'"

He might have been a hit-man with principles, but the gang's leader still took the opportunity to extort more money from Kalala. He called him back and informed him that the fee for the murder had increased. He wanted a further 3,400 Australian dollars (£1,700) to finish the job.

Back at the hotel, Noela's brother was getting worried about her disappearance. He called Kalala in Australia to ask for $545 to pay the police to open an investigation - Kalala feigned concern and duly wired the money.

After two days in captivity, Noela was freed.

"'We give you 80 hours to leave this country,'" Noela says the gang told her. "'Your husband is serious. Maybe we can spare your life, but other people, they're not going to do the same thing. If God helps you, you'll get to Australia.'"

Before leaving Noela by the side of a road, the gang handed her the evidence they hoped would incriminate Kalala - a memory card containing recorded phone conversations of him discussing the murder and receipts for the Western Union money transfers.

We just want you to go back, to tell other stupid women like you what happened," the gang told Noela as they parted. "You must learn something: you people get a chance to go overseas for a better life. But the money you are earning, the money the government gives to you, you use it for killing each other!"

Noela immediately began planning her return to Australia. She called the pastor of her church in Melbourne, Dassano Harruno Nantogmah, and requested his help.

"'It was in the middle of the night. I says, 'It's me, I'm still alive, don't tell anybody.' He says, 'Noela, I don't believe it. Balenga can't kill someone!' And I said, 'Pastor, believe me!'"

Three days later, on the evening of 22 February 2015, Noela was back in Melbourne.

By now, Kalala had informed the community that his wife had died in a tragic accident. He had spent the day hosting a steady stream of well-wishers, many of whom donated money.

"It was around 7.30pm," Noela says. "He was in front of the house. People had been inside mourning with him and he was escorting a group of them into a car."

It was as they drove away that Noela sprang her surprise.

"I was stood just looking at him. He was scared, he didn't believe it. Then he starts walking towards me, slowly, like he was walking on broken glass.

"He kept talking to himself and when he reached me, he touched me on the shoulder. He jumped.

"He did it again. He jumped. Then he said, 'Noela, is it you?'… Then he start screaming, 'I'm sorry for everything.'"

Noela called the police who ordered Kalala off the premises and later obtained a court order against him. Days later, the police instructed Noela to call Kalala. Kalala made a full confession to his wife, captured on tape, begging for her forgiveness and revealing why he had ordered the murder.

"He say he wanted to kill me because he was jealous," says Noela. "He think that I wanted to leave him for another man."

She rejects the accusation.

In a police interview, Kalala denied any involvement in the plot. "The pretence," wrote the judge at his trial in December, "lasted for hours." But when confronted with the recording of his telephone conversation with Noela and the evidence she brought back from Burundi he started to cry.

Kalala was still unable to offer any explanation for his actions, suggesting only that "sometimes [the] devil can come into someone to do something but after they do it, they start thinking, 'Why I did that thing?'"

On 11 December last year, in court in Melbourne, after pleading guilty to incitement to murder, Kalala was sentenced to nine years in prison.

"His voice always comes in the night - 'Kill her, kill her,'" says Noela of the nightmares that now plague her. "Every night, I see what was happening in those two days with the kidnappers."

Ostracised by many in Melbourne's African community, some of whom blame her for Kalala's conviction, Noela sees a difficult future for her and her eight children.

"But I will stand up like a strong woman," she says.

"My situation, my past life? That is gone. I'm starting a new life now."

Source: bbc.com

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HSBC pays $470m for mortgage misconduct

HSBC has reached a $470m (£325m) settlement with the US government and states related to dubious mortgage lending and foreclosure practices that contributed to the financial crisis.

The agreement includes a $100m fine and $370m in consumer relief to borrowers.

Investigations began in 2010 after HSBC was found to be signing off foreclosure documents without proper review.

In a statement, the bank's chief executive Kathy Madison called the agreement a "positive result."

The consumer relief will require the bank to cut the loan amount on mortgages for homeowners close to default. HBSC will also be required to change internal practices like foreclosing on homeowners who are being considered for a loan modification.

"The agreement is part of our ongoing effort to address root causes of the financial crisis," said the head of the Justice Department's Civil Division Benjamin Mizer.

The deal settles claims with 49 states, the District of Columbia and the federal government.

HSBC's agreement is similar to deals that were given to US banks including JP Morgan and Bank of America in 2012.

Source: bbc.com

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Jose Mourinho: Man Utd hold talks with former Chelsea manager

Manchester United have held talks with representatives of former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.

The 53-year-old Portuguese, who was sacked by the Blues in December, is increasingly hopeful of succeeding Louis van Gaal at Old Trafford.

No agreement has been reached, and the club have made no comment, but negotiations have begun.

Dutchman Van Gaal, 64, is expected to leave United at the end of the season - one year earlier than scheduled.

That would leave the way clear for Mourinho, who is known to be excited by the prospect of taking over at Old Trafford.

Jose Mourinho scarf held by a Man Utd fan

Sections of the United support have called for Jose Mourinho to become their new manager

The United hierarchy are thought to be keen to respond after Manchester City secured the services of coveted former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola earlier this week.

Mourinho's arrival would mean a resumption of a rivalry that began in Spain when he was coach of Real Madrid between 2010 and 2013.

Twice in recent weeks, Van Gaal's tenure has seemed perilous.

However, defeats by Stoke on Boxing Day and Southampton on 23 January have been followed by an improvement in both form and performance.

United, who are five points adrift of the Champions League places, play Chelsea on Sunday (16:00 GMT).

Who else is in the frame?

It is widely assumed the most obvious alternative to Mourinho is Ryan Giggs, Van Gaal's assistant.

The Welshman, who joined United aged 14, made a record 963 appearances for the club and won 13 Premier League titles.

The 42-year-old took over as manager on an interim basis in April 2014 following the sacking of David Moyes.

Although he has not spoken about the United job since Van Gaal took over, it would be a surprise were he not interested in replacing the Dutchman should the opportunity arise.

However, while Giggs was happy to further his education under Van Gaal, he is unlikely to be as willing to work with Mourinho.

What went wrong for Mourinho at Chelsea?

Mourinho's first spell as Chelsea manager lasted from 2004 to 2007, and included two Premier League titles.

On his return, he again led the London club to the title, but left just seven months later.

He made a disastrous start to this season, losing nine of the first 16 league games, and departed with the team 16th in the league, one point above the relegation zone.

The former Porto boss fell out with the Blues' medical team, in particular club doctor Eva Carneiro, after describing them as "naive" for running on to the pitch to treat midfielder Eden Hazard during a draw against Swansea in August.

Carneiro, who left the club on 22 September, is taking legal action against Mourinho and the Blues.

How is his relationship with Man Utd?

Mourinho has never hidden his admiration for United, and particularly their legendary former manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

Speaking before taking his Inter Milan side to Old Trafford for a Champions League last-16 tie in 2009, he said: "I want to face the best and United are a team of champions with a super coach in Alex Ferguson."

But after being linked with the manager's job following the departure of Ferguson in 2013, he declared his allegiance to Chelsea.

"I would have turned down every job in the world - the Manchester United job, every one - for Chelsea," he said.

There were reports last month that Mourinho had written a six-page letter outlining his suitability for the United role, but that was dismissed as "absurd" by his agent.

Analysis

Simon Stone - BBC Sport football reporter

Before the red carpet is rolled out to welcome Manchester United's new manager, a word of warning.

Talks should not be interpreted as an agreement, as an offer, or even the promise of one. None of that has happened.

Neither should we assume Ryan Giggs is out of the running, nor that the merits of Laurent Blanc and Mauricio Pochettino, the two other realistic candidates for the job, have been discarded.

The fact is, given the pressure Louis van Gaal has been under recently, United's hierarchy simply would not be doing their jobs properly if they did not at least get some idea of the thinking behind the major candidates.

And what of Van Gaal?

He may have twice looked as though he was on the brink of being sacked, but he is still in a job and on Tuesday his side delivered their best performance of the season in beating Stoke 3-0.

Even Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini accepts United are not out of the Premier League title race just yet - and if they did win it, there would be no vacancy for Mourinho to fill at the end of the season anyway.

Source: bbc.com

 

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Leicester stun Man City to extend lead

Premier League leaders Leicester stunned nearest rivals Manchester City with a convincing victory at Etihad Stadium to move five points clear.

Robert Huth met Riyad Mahrez's free-kick to give the Foxes an early lead.

City rarely looked like breaking down the visitors' defence, while their own back line appeared vulnerable.

Mahrez made it 2-0 with a step-over and finish, and Huth found space to head home a Christian Fuchs corner before Sergio Aguero's late consolation.

Follow all the reaction to this match and Saturday's other games

Foxes continue fine away form

Leicester had already beaten third-placed Tottenham at White Hart Lane in January but this resounding result against Manchester City was their most significant in a remarkable season.

The Foxes have now picked up 28 points on their travels and, although they were denied a sixth clean sheet in their past seven matches, this was another win earned by their solid defence.

Aguero's glancing header from teenage substitute Bersant Celina's cross meant Manchester City retained their record of only failing to score once at home this season, but they had toiled in front of goal for much of the match.

Claudio Ranieri's side travel to fourth-placed Arsenal next weekend - win there too, and people might be asking 'who can catch Leicester?' rather than 'can the Foxes really win the title?'.

Manchester City's defence again at fault

While Leicester's defence was a solid and well-organised unit, given further protection by N'Golo Kante and Danny Drinkwater in central midfield, Manchester City looked nervy whenever the visitors came forward.

Martin Demichelis was left flat-footed by Robert Huth for Leicester's first goal and was beaten with ease by Mahrez for their second, while Huth was completely unmarked when he made it 3-0.

Things could easily have been even worse for home boss Manuel Pellegrini in his first game at the Etihad since it was announced Pep Guardiola would be replacing him in the summer.

Leicester's Jamie Vardy twice broke clear to latch on to balls over the top and was only prevented from inflicting further damage by smart blocks by Joe Hart.

'Nothing is finished' - Pellegrini

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini said he had "no complaints" about the result but insists his side's hopes of winning the title are not over.

Pellegrini told BBC Sport: "Leicester played better than us. Conceding a goal from a set piece after two minutes was very important for the game.

"We had chances but it was a difficult game. I expected more from the beginning because it was very important, we are at home and playing top of the table, but we couldn't do it.

"There are 36 points to play for, nothing is finished. It is important for us to recover our players and I am continuing to not give up because we got an unexpected defeat but we must continue."

'We play without pressure' - Ranieri

Ranieri saluted his side's defensive discipline at the final whistle, telling BBC Sport: "We played very, very compact and believed everything could be possible.

"We play without pressure because we don't have to win the league. We must enjoy. This league is so strange and now it is important to think about Arsenal.

"I want to wait until the end of April because I know the last matches are very tough. This is a fantastic moment for the Premier League, nobody knows who can win it."

What next?

While Leicester head for the Emirates and another test of their title mettle, Manchester City must pick themselves up for the visit of another in-form team, Tottenham, before starting a run of fixtures that sees them play in the FA Cup, Champions League and the Capital One Cup final in the space of a week.

BBC Radio 5 live In Short: Leicester City: Champions League to Championship?

The stats you need to know

  • Robert Huth has scored more goals in his last five Premier League appearances (3) as he had in his previous 86 in the competition (2).
  • This was only the second time in his Premier League career that he's scored more than once in a game, with the German last scoring two in February 2011 for Stoke v Sunderland.
  • Riyad Mahrez (14 goals, 10 assists) became the first player to reach double figures in terms of both goals and assists in the Premier League this season.
  • Mahrez ended a personal Premier League goal drought of 11 hours and two minutes with his strike in this match.
  • Manchester City have not beaten any side currently in the top six of the league this season (W0 D3 L4).
  • Manchester City have lost as many league home games this season (3) as they had in 2014-15 and 2013-14 combined under Manuel Pellegrini (3).
  • Leicester City have lost just one of their last 16 league away games (W10 D5 L1).

Source: bbc.com

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Spurs beat Watford to move second

Tottenham moved into second place in the Premier League table as Kieran Trippier's first goal for the club sealed a dominant win over Watford.

The former Burnley full-back was in the right place to tap in substitute Dele Alli's fine low cross.

Spurs were always in control against a lacklustre Watford side, but were continually denied by their former goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes.

The Hornets failed to record a shot on target and fall to 10th in the table.

Spurs were always well on top, having 26 efforts on goal, but lacked the killer touch until Alli came off the bench to continue his superb season and tee up Trippier for the winner.

Alli was left out after feeling unwell during the 3-0 win at Norwich in midweek but quickly made the difference for Mauricio Pochettino's side once more.

Spurs under the radar?

You would have been forgiven for thinking on Saturday morning that the Premier League title was a two-horse race, such was the focus on leaders Leicester's trip to Manchester City.

But Spurs, with just three league defeats all season and seven wins from their last nine games, have crept under the radar to move into a great position to fight for their first title since 1961.

They have not finished second since 1963 but now have a squad who look capable of pushing Leicester and Manchester City all the way.

Leicester's stunning lunchtime win meant Spurs kicked off in the knowledge that a win would put them second overnight.

And their win against the Hornets would have been secured far earlier had Gomes - who had an eventful six-year stay at White Hart Lane - not made eight saves.

Spurs may be five points behind the Foxes but with Leicester facing Arsenal next weekend, while Spurs take on City, that could soon change.

Full-backs key for Spurs

Pochettino rotated his full-backs. leaving out Danny Rose and Kyle Walker, with Ben Davies and Trippier starting instead.

And both players fully justified their selection with superb attacking displays, providing the width in a patient, but attacking display.

In the first half Davies was twice denied by Gomes' reflex saves, and Trippier - who made 10 crosses from right-back - popped up in space to grab the winner when Alli's cross with the outside of his boot picked him out at the far post.

Friends reunited?

For Watford it was largely a day to forget. A damaging run of four straight defeats was arrested at the end of January but there was no sign of a side who had held Chelsea in midweek.

Manager Quique Sanchez Flores chose to split up his 20-goal strike partnership of Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo, with Deeney tired after a gruelling run of games, but the change in system only served to leave Ighalo woefully isolated in the first half. Ighalo had the fewest touches (14) of any outfield player before Deeney came on at the break.

The captain's return made little difference though, as the Hornets ended the game without a single effort on target.

'We need to be calm'

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino, speaking to BBC Sport: "I feel very proud of the players.

"We need to be calm. We are in a very good position in the league but the philosophy from the beginning of the season has been to go step by step. We are a very young squad so it is important to keep going and take every game and competition and be ready to compete.

"We still need to be more clinical, we created a lot of chances but need to score more."

'It was completely difficult'

Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores: "It was completely difficult. We expected a tough match. Tottenham play really quick, play intelligent balls, they have a lot of good players so it was very difficult to stop their attacks.

"Tottenham have improved since the last time we played. They have more confidence and they are one of the best teams. They have the chance to win the league.

"Playing against Chelsea and Tottenham in four days is too much. We did all the best we could but it was not enough."

What next?

Tottenham could put a gap between themselves and third-placed Manchester City with a win at the Etihad next Sunday, while Watford face a short trip to freefalling Crystal Palace.

The stats you need to know

  • Spurs have had a league-high 72 shots in the first half of games in 2016 so far but they have scored with just four of those.
  • Kieran Trippier bagged his first Premier League goal in his 43rd appearance.
  • Dele Alli assisted Trippier's goal just 176 seconds after entering the field of play.
  • Alli has had a hand in 11 goals in his last 14 Premier League games for Spurs (six goals, five assists).
  • Spurs had 26 shots, their joint-most in a Premier League game this season - level with their tally against Sunderland at home in January.
  • The Hornets have failed to score in four of their last five Premier League games.
  • Watford have mustered just one shot on target in their two Premier League games against Spurs in 2015-16.

Source: bbc.com

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North Korea fires long-range rocket despite warnings

North Korea has fired a long-range rocket, which critics say is a test of banned missile technology.

A state TV announcer said that North Korea had successfully placed a satellite in orbit.

The launch was condemned by Japan, South Korea and the US, who have requested an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council later on Sunday.

South Korea says it is to begin discussing with the US the deployment of a missile defence system.

Senior defence official Ryu Je-Seung said if the THAAD missile system - considered one of the most advanced in the world - were deployed it would be only to counter the threat from the North.

International reaction

The North insists its space programme is purely scientific in nature but the US, South Korea and even ally China say the rocket launches are aimed at developing an inter-continental ballistic missile capable of striking the US.

North Korea provoked international criticism earlier this year with a fourth nuclear bomb test on 6 January.

South Korean analysts had speculated that the North might carry out the launch ahead of 16 February, the birthday of the late North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il.

Image from North Korean TV of rocket launch on 7 February 2016

Picture from North Korean TV of the rocket after launch, on 7 February 2016

'Fascinating vapour'

UN Security Council resolutions ban the state from carrying out any nuclear or ballistic missile tests.

In a statement, the North Korean National Aerospace Development Administration said earth observation satellite Kwangmyongsong-4 had entered orbit about 10 minutes after lift-off from the Sohae space centre in North Phyongan province.

Announcing the launch on state TV, a newsreader said it had been ordered by North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un and said the country planned to launch more satellites in the future.

"The fascinating vapour of Juche satellite trailing in the clear and blue sky in spring of February on the threshold of the Day of the Shining Star,'' was how the launch was described.

South Korean Defence Ministry spokesman Moon Sang Gyun said a warship had detected the launch at 09:31 (00:31 GMT).

US National Security Adviser Susan Rice said North Korea's use of ballistic missile technology was "yet another destabilising and provocative action".

"North Korea's missile and nuclear weapons programs represent serious threats to our interests - including the security of some of our closest allies," she said in a statement.

Contenders for the Republican ticket in the US presidential election this year were asked for their reaction during a debate in New Hampshire.

Donald Trump said he would work with China to resolve the North Korea nuclear issue: "I would get on with China. Let China solve that problem. They can do it quickly and surgically. That's what we should do with North Korea."

North Korea's rocket launches

A North Korean military parade

  • February 2016: Launch of rocket reportedly carrying satellite
  • May 2015: North Korea announces it has successfully tested a submarine-launched missile for the first time, but scepticism is then poured on the claim
  • Dec 2012: North Korea launches three-stage rocket, says it successfully put a satellite into orbit; US defence officials confirm object in orbit
  • Apr 2012: Three-stage rocket explodes just after take-off, falls into sea
  • Apr 2009: Three-stage rocket launched; North Korea says it was a success, US says it failed and fell into the sea
  • Jul 2006: North Korea test-fires a long-range Taepodong-2 missile; US said it failed shortly after take-off

North Korea's missile programme

How potent are the threats?

Isolated country's nuclear tests

A world leader in dramatic rhetoric

Source: bbc.com

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Tunisia builds anti-terror barrier along Libya border

Tunisia says it has completed the first part of a 200km (125-mile) barrier along its border with Libya, designed to deter terrorism.

The barrier is made of sand banks and water trenches.

It was announced last summer after 38 people were killed on a beach by a gunman said to have trained in Libya.

Tunisia's defence minister said the second phase of the project would involve installing electronic equipment with the help of Germany and the US.

Security forces said the defences - which aim to make the border impassable by vehicles - had already helped to reduce smuggling.

Soldiers overlook a trench, that forms part of a barrier along the frontier with Libya, in Sabkeht Alyun

The barrier is designed to be impassable by vehicles

"Today we finished closing it off, and this will help us protect our border, and stop the threat," said Defence Minister Farhat Horchani on Saturday.

More than 3,000 Tunisians have left to fight with the Islamic State (IS) group and other Islamist militants in Syria and Iraq but Mr Horchani said many had since returned to join the group in Libya.

Libya has been beset by instability since the overthrow of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and currently has two rival governments.

IS took control of Sirte, Gaddafi's hometown, last year.

A Tunisian soldier stands on a sandbank during a presentation of the anti-jihadi fence, in near Ben Guerdane, eastern Tunisia, close to the border with Libya

The barrier came about with assistance from the US and Germany

Source: bbc.com

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Quata Budukusu charged up for Wa concert

Arguably Quata Budukusu is one of the best rappers and energetic stage performers of our time. After missing from the stage for some time and also for the fact that the fans have missed his magical stage craft, he is set to put up a come back stage performance during the Rush Energy street carnival at Wa, the capital city of the Upper West Region in the northern part of Ghana on Wednesday, 10th February, 2016 at the Nima Street. Also on the bill to perform is Akyerekyerefo and Kwame Seseben and a number of artiste from the northern part of the country for the Rush Energy Wa Activation. The following will also be on the bill; Raphius, G.Kliff, Ras Badingu, Kawute, B.M.B, Wuchare, PH 1, Sumaya, and T.I.P.

According to Quata’s management, they are not doing this only for the people of Wa because it is a nationwide tour so obviously from Wa, Quata Budukusu will be storming other regions. They are therefore urging all the fans in the various regions of Ghana to keep their fingers crossed because Quata will soon be at their doorsteps. In a reaction to a question on the motive behind the choice of Wa, spokesperson and the personal manager for Quata Budukusu, Mr. Tengol Kplemani stated “well, honestly speaking after serious deliberations by the team we ended on Wa for the reason being that Wa is the starting point of Ghana so we decided to begin from there and then later end in Accra’.

The concert, Rush Energy Wa Activation, is sponsored by one of the best energy drinks in the country, Rush Energy Drink in collaboration with Bakus Entertainment, the management of Quata Budukusu and Akyerekyerefo. The producers of the Rush energy drink maintained they took a critical note of Quata’s previous performances and the kind of energy he exhibits on the stage hence the decision to support his nationwide tour. Meanwhile, they also had a thought that if such an energetic person like Quata will perform to satisfy his fans then he needs a drink that will provide the energy and that is Rush Energy drink. “We call on everyone in the Wa Township to come out and support Quata and friends as they thrill fans with the best of performances and remember, it is going down on Wednesday, 10th February, 2016 at Nima Street from 6pm till you drop” a closing remark from Rush Energy drink management team.

Bakus Radio, USA

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Quata charged up for Wa concert

Arguably Quata Budukusu is one of the best rappers and energetic stage performers of our time. After missing from the stage for some time and also for the fact that the fans have missed his magical stage craft, he is set to put up a come back stage performance during the Rush Energy street carnival at Wa, the capital city of the Upper West Region in the northern part of Ghana on Wednesday, 10th February, 2016 at the Nima Street. Also on the bill to perform is Akyerekyerefo and Kwame Seseben and a number of artiste from the northern part of the country for the Rush Energy Wa Activation. The following will also be on the bill; Raphius, G.Kliff, Ras Badingu, Kawute, B.M.B, Wuchare, PH 1, Sumaya, and T.I.P.

According to Quata’s management, they are not doing this only for the people of Wa because it is a nationwide tour so obviously from Wa, Quata Budukusu will be storming other regions. They are therefore urging all the fans in the various regions of Ghana to keep their fingers crossed because Quata will soon be at their doorsteps. In a reaction to a question on the motive behind the choice of Wa, spokesperson and the personal manager for Quata Budukusu, Mr. Tengol Kplemani stated “well, honestly speaking after serious deliberations by the team we ended on Wa for the reason being that Wa is the starting point of Ghana so we decided to begin from there and then later end in Accra’.

The concert, Rush Energy Wa Activation, is sponsored by one of the best energy drinks in the country, Rush Energy Drink in collaboration with Bakus Entertainment, the management of Quata Budukusu and Akyerekyerefo. The producers of the Rush energy drink maintained they took a critical note of Quata’s previous performances and the kind of energy he exhibits on the stage hence the decision to support his nationwide tour. Meanwhile, they also had a thought that if such an energetic person like Quata will perform to satisfy his fans then he needs a drink that will provide the energy and that is Rush Energy drink. “We call on everyone in the Wa Township to come out and support Quata and friends as they thrill fans with the best of performances and remember, it is going down on Wednesday, 10th February, 2016 at Nima Street from 6pm till you drop” a closing remark from Rush Energy drink management team.

Bakus Radio, USA

 

 

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LOKO out with MONEY THIS YEAR

Look is here again after giving us a good song of all standards by

The way of African lady he promises to give us more so here we have it

A new song titles money this year. Check out the tune.

Source: xplusxgh.com

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Late Costa strike denies Man Utd win

Diego Costa scored a late equaliser to preserve Chelsea's unbeaten record under interim boss Guus Hiddink and deny Manchester United a win.

United dominated early on, Thibaut Courtois producing a fine one-handed save to keep out Anthony Martial.

David de Gea saved well from Nemanja Matic's header before Jesse Lingard's fine turn and shot put United ahead.

Costa rescued a point in the 91st minute after rounding De Gea following Cesc Fabregas' pass.

United were moments away from moving to within four points of the top four when Costa scored his seventh goal in eight games.

Chelsea, who lost defender Kurt Zouma to a serious injury, remain 13th in the table.

Relive all the drama from Stamford Bridge

A United performance to offer encouragement

This will feel like a defeat for United after a bright start and a wonderful goal to give them the lead in what was an entertaining draw between two teams struggling for form.

Apart from the late equaliser, Louis van Gaal's side produced a display full of positives after recent criticism about the team's style and reports linking former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho with the United job.

They started well and offered more zip and energy than their cumbersome hosts.

Courtois' flying save to keep out Martial's curling attempt was excellent, while United forced 10 corners before the end of the first half.

The visitors looked set for a rare win over Chelsea when Lingard displayed terrific balance and agility to break the deadlock with a sublime spin and shot inside the area.

However, United backed off after scoring and invited pressure, Costa pouncing from close range after a terrific Fabregas pass.

Instead of closing the gap on fourth place to four points, they now find themselves six points adrift.

Chelsea leave it late again

De Gea was at his magnificent best to keep out a thunderous attempt by Branislav Ivanovic and then Fabregas as Chelsea surged forward in the final quarter in search of an equaliser.

When Costa blazed over the bar after a free-kick it looked all up for the hosts.

Yet for the second league home game in a row, they rescued a point in stoppage time.

Hiddink's sixth draw in eight league games in charge leaves the defending champions seven points above the relegation zone with 13 games remaining.

Will Terry stay?

This was Chelsea's first game back at Stamford Bridge since captain John Terry announced he was set to leave at the end of the season.

There was no mention of Terry leaving in the captain's programme notes and Blues fans will still be hoping he may yet extend his stay.

They chanted his name throughout as Terry produced an assured performance at the heart of the defence, while he was denied a penalty when his goal-bound shot at the end of the first half struck the arm of Daley Blind.

Terry's importance to the team was underlined by Zouma's nasty-looking injury, the France international landing awkwardly on his right knee after volleying the ball away.

What the managers said

Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink:

"I am happy with the reaction of the team. Manchester United did a good job in the first half and in the beginning of the second, they are not an easy team to beat.

"But we deserved a point. We dropped too far back after the first 20 minutes when they dominated us but later on we closed a little more.

"They made a beautiful goal - without good marking from our side - but after I think the team reacted very well."

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal:

"I feel we didn't reward ourselves with a victory because we were the better team. Until the last quarter we played very well and could have scored more goals. But you have to control the game better and we did not do that.

"It isn't a lack of concentration it is not being composed when you are defending. When we have the ball we have to keep the ball.

"You need to give the right pass at the right moment and we did not do that [before Chelsea scored]. Chelsea are a very good team and you play like we played and don't reward yourself, it is frustrating."

The stats you need to know

  • Despite still being unbeaten under Guus Hiddink this season, Chelsea are winless in four consecutive Premier League home games for the first time since November 2012.
  • Indeed, it is the first time they have ever drawn four consecutive home games in the Premier League.
  • Jesse Lingard has scored three goals from his last four shots on target in the Premier League.

Up next?

Both teams are in Premier League action on Saturday at different times of the day. While Chelsea entertain struggling Newcastle United (17:30 GMT), Manchester United travel to Wearside to face relegation-threatened Sunderland (12:45 GMT).

Source: bbc.com

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Broncos outlast Panthers, claim third Super Bowl title

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The Denver Broncos authored one of the greatest defensive performances in Super Bowl 50, helping Peyton Manning write one of the game's most improbable stories in the process.

The Broncos are Super Bowl champions for a third time after dismantling the Panthers 24-10 inside a raucous Levi's Stadium. It was only fitting that the game's decisive moment was made by Broncos linebacker Von Miller. Miller was named Super Bowl 50 MVP.

Late in the fourth quarter in a one score game, Miller fought off Panthers tackle Mike Remmer's initial block, dipped his shoulder, kept his balance and reach his long left arm at Cam Newton. The ensuing fumble was Carolina's fourth of the day and fourth turnover overall. Like the high-powered Steelers and Patriots offense before them, the Panthers offense had no answers for this incredible Broncos group.

Around The NFL will have more on this shortly.

Source: nfl.com

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Broncos LB Von Miller named Super Bowl 50 MVP

No. 2 was greater than No. 1 in Super Bowl 50.

Von Miller, the No. 2 overall pick in 2011, snagged the Super Bowl MVP award after leading a dominant Denver Broncos defense that shut down the NFL's No. 1 scoring offense and league MVP Cam Newton, the No. 1 overall pick in 2011.

The Broncos forced four turnovers and sacked Newton seven times in the 24-10 win.

Miller was unstoppable all night off the edge. He harassed Newton to the tune 2.5 sacks and a huge strip of Newton in the closing minutes to seal the victory.

The linebacker highlighted his night early with a monstrous strip sack of Newton in the opening quarter that resulted in the Broncos' first touchdown of the game and set the tone for the contest. The play showed off Miller's combination of lightning quickness off the edge and massive strength. Small men don't rip the ball out of Cam Newton's hands.

Miller took home the award, but it could have gone to the entire defensive front. DeMarcus Ware (2 sacks, 4 QB hits) was all over the field, chasing Newton seemingly every play. The middle of the Broncos' defense, led by Malik Jackson and Derek Wolfe, pushed the pocket, not allowing Newton to step up or scurry though the line on scrambles. The Broncos defense allowed the Panthers' No. 2 ranked rushing offense no holes, holding Carolina to a combined 118 yards on the ground.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Miller wants to be the highest paid defensive player in the NFL -- the Broncos will first slap the franchise tag on the linebacker. His performance in Super Bowl 50 justified those demands.

Source: nfl.com

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UN Security Council vows new sanctions after N Korea's rocket launch

The UN Security Council has strongly condemned North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket.

After an urgent meeting in New York, the council said it would soon adopt a new sanctions resolution in response.

Pyongyang said it fired the rocket to place a satellite in orbit but critics believe the real purpose was to test ballistic missile technology.

Sunday's launch came weeks after North Korea conducted a fourth nuclear test. Both acts violate existing sanctions.

Amid the tension, a North Korean patrol boat briefly crossed into South Korean territory near the island of Socheong early on Monday morning, according to South Korea's Defense Ministry.

The ministry said that it retreated back across the border - a boundary line Pyongyang disputes - shortly after South Korean forces fired warning shots into the water around it.

'Serious violation'

Speaking after the closed-door talks, the Security Council said the launch was "a serious violation".

US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said Washington would now "ensure that the Security Council imposes serious consequences" on Pyongyang.

"There can be no business as usual," she said, adding that "we'll come up with something tough".

Ms Power's words were echoed by Japanese envoy Motohide Yoshikawa, who said sanctions must be strengthened.

"The existing sanctions have not stopped North Korea from developing nuclear weapons," he said.

The council meeting was requested by South Korea, Japan and the US.

Why did Kim fire a rocket now?

Analysis: BBC's Nick Bryant at UN headquarters

The question once asked by a British tabloid - How Do you solve a problem like Korea? - still has not been answered. The UN Security Council has imposed four sets of sanctions since North Korea carried out its first atomic test almost 10 years ago.

They have included arms embargos, asset freezes, travel bans and restrictions on luxury goods, aimed at hitting Pyongyang's elites where it hurts - in their lavish lifestyles. But while they might have slowed the nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, they've come nowhere near halting them. The sanctions have not been rigidly enforced. Nor have they been widely applied.

Now the US is pressing at the Security Council for tough and comprehensive new sanctions, but they're being resisted by China, Pyongyang's closest ally and biggest trading partner.

Beijing, while expressing support for a new resolution, fears that tough new sanctions could topple the Pyongyang regime, destabilising the country and creating a refugee crisis on its border. Pyongyang knows it can exploit that fear.

Sunday's launch, which North Korea had said last week it would carry out, was hailed by state media as a "fascinating vapour... trailing in the clear and blue sky in spring of February on the threshold of the Day of the Shining Star".

A statement said a new Earth observation satellite, Kwangmyongsong-4, had successfully been put into orbit less than 10 minutes after lift-off from the Sohae space centre in North Phyongan province.

Hailing it as part of the country's peaceful space programme, a state TV newsreader said the launch had been ordered by North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un and that more launches were planned.

South Korean MPs were told by the country's spy agency later on Sunday that the launch should be treated as a ballistic missile test, as the satellite it put into orbit would be useless.

The MPs were also reportedly told North Korea had the technology for intercontinental ballistic missiles and was preparing a fifth nuclear test.

North Korea last fired a long-range rocket in 2012, putting what it claimed was a communications satellite into orbit. However, experts said that satellite appeared to spin out of control and the revolutionary songs that Pyongyang said it was broadcasting were never detected.

The payload this time was presumed to weigh 200kg (440lbs), double the size of the 2012 launch, but still much lighter than the 800-1,500kg usual for a satellite.

North Korea's rocket launches

  • February 2016: Launch of rocket reportedly carrying satellite
  • May 2015: North Korea announces it has successfully tested a submarine-launched missile for the first time, but scepticism is then poured on the claim
  • Dec 2012: North Korea launches three-stage rocket, says it successfully put a satellite into orbit; US defence officials confirm object in orbit
  • Apr 2012: Three-stage rocket explodes just after take-off, falls into sea
  • Apr 2009: Three-stage rocket launched; North Korea says it was a success, US says it failed and fell into the sea
  • Jul 2006: North Korea test-fires a long-range Taepodong-2 missile; US said it failed shortly after take-off

North Korea's missile programme

How potent are the threats?

Isolated country's nuclear tests

A world leader in dramatic rhetoric

Source: bbc.com

Read more

China's currency reserves plunged in January

China's foreign currency reserves plunged by $99.5bn in January, the People's Bank of China reported.

China has been running down its vast foreign currency reserves in an attempt to boost the value of its own currency and stem a flow of funds overseas.

At $3.23 trillion, China still has the world's biggest reserve of foreign currency holdings.

But that has declined by $420bn over six months and stands at the lowest level since May 2012.

"While the remaining reserves still represent a substantial war chest, the mathematics around this rapid pace of depletion in recent months is simply unsustainable for any length of time," said Rajiv Biswas, Asia Pacific Chief Economist, IHS Global Insight.

Investor fear

The Chinese authorities fear a rapid devaluation of their currency, as it could destabilise the economy.

Many Chinese businesses hold debt in dollars and managing those debts with a severely weakened yuan could cause problems and some companies to fail.

So China has been trying to engineer an ordered devaluation of the yuan, but that is proving hard to deliver.

Investors have been trying to pull funds out of investments priced in yuan and speculators have been betting on further falls in the currency.

To stabilise the situation China has been selling dollars and buying yuan.

And it has been using other tactics, including curbing currency speculation and ordering offshore banks to retain their reserves of yuan.

Commenting on the decline, veteran economist, George Magnus noted that there is "confusion" over China's foreign currency policy.

"Clearly this can't go on for long," he tweeted, referring to the fall in currency reserves.

Source: bbc.com

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NPP Re-Run: ‘I Won’t Take Part In Sham Election’

The stripped winner of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Korle Klottey parliamentary primary, Nii Noi Nortey, has vowed not to participate in a re-run of the election as ordered by the party’s national executive.

The fuming victor declared, “I am not going to be part of any sham re-run”.

Re-run of primary

The steering committee of the party ordered a re-run of the parliamentary primary in the Korle Klottey constituency following months of controversy over its fairness.
The party’s decision comes after it agreed with the parties to withdraw the case from court. Announcing the decision, Ag General Secretary, John Boadu, told anxious party supporters the re-run was necessary if peace was to prevail in the constituency.

Philip Addison, who went to court after losing to Nii Noi last August, will now have the opportunity to re-launch his parliamentary bid.

He has maintained that the results of the August 2 primary were cooked to favour the former constituency chairman, Nii Nortey.

Addison who polled 22 votes as against 393 votes for Nii Noi boycotted the elections and accused the constituency executive and the Electoral Commission (EC) of staging the polls.

Decision irks supporters

The party’s decision has irked Nii Nortey’s supporters who accused the acting National Chairman, Freddie Blay, of backing Nii Noi's contender, Phillip Addison.

But speaking on Joy FM’s Top Story, Nii Noi said he was disappointed that  the delegates were being made to pay for inconsistency in party decisions.

He said he was "confused” that the party that took the decision to hold the polls on August 2, 2015 should do a u-turn .

He said the party failed to defend its decision in court after Addison dragged the party there.

“It is not my grandfather who organised the election. It is the party which did.” Nii Noi criticised the party for chickening out of the legal tussle.

Ag Gen Secretary

But the acting General Secretary, John Boadu, explained that the confusion that erupted in the constituency following the poll was because of the arbitrary decision of the then General Secretary to change the date.

“The change of date from August 8 to August 2,” he said, was not the decision of the national executive.

This change, Addison has maintained caused his defeat as it took his supporters by surprise.

Mr Boadu was reluctant to revisit the controversy or explain why the party ordered the re-run.

But he assured the supporters that the decision was arrived at after extensive consultations.

His deputy General Secretary, Nana Obiri Boahen, also stressed that even polling station executives were consulted by the party.

Nonetheless, Nana Boahen expressed reservations about the final decision.

He said the reaction from the ground meant the party might have to review its decision.

“Sincerely …I think we should go back and take a second look at it”

Take your party

He said the “unfolding drama” after the decision was announced could not be underestimated because politics was a numbers game.

Nii Noi’s supporters have vowed to leave the party.

"Take your party! God will punish you people one by one" a woman fumed at the decision as Nii Noi's supporters left the party’s office.

Nii Noi has signalled dragging the party to court as an option open to him.

“I will be consulting my lawyers. I have been quiet from day one [but] it doesn’t mean I am stupid”

Nii Noi explained that as a former constituency chairman, he had sacrificed to make the party attractive and was being robbed of the fruits of his hardwork. 

Source: peacefmonline.com

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Appiah-Ofori : NPP Should Deal With Ken Agyapong

Former Member of Parliament for Asikuma Odoben Brakwa, P.C. Appiah-Ofori has urged Ghanaians to forgive Assin Central New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP, Kennedy Ohene Agyapong, for his foul-mouthed outbursts in recent times as he urges the party's hierarchy to call him to order.

The ex-legislator said the vitriol from the MP had left him so “sad” he was lost for words and would not be able to comment at that moment in time but urged Ghanaians to forgive him nevertheless.

“I am pleading with Ghanaians to forgive Kennedy Agyapong... They shouldn’t judge all NPP members by his comments,” Mr. Appiah-Ofori told Accra News on Friday, February 5.

He urged the party’s disciplinary wing to take action to curtail the lawmaker’s public rants to give the party a good image, saying: “I am very sad. I think the party’s Disciplinary Committee should summon him before it; otherwise, it will continue unabated. It’s unfortunate. So they should call him and whip him into line.”

Source: peacefmonline.com

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Ghanaian Christians & Muslims Must Continue To Co-Exist Peacefully - Bawumia

Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, Vice-Presidential Candidate of the NPP, has cautioned Ghanaian Muslims to be on guard against extremists and their influence and appealed to the Muslim Community to shun all divisions and continue to coexist peacefully with the majority Christian population as it is the only way to guarantee the stability of the Nation.

These comments were contained in a Lecture titled “Islam In The 21st Century: The Role of Muslim Youth in Combating Extremism and Radicalism for Political Stability” delivered at the 9th Annual Congress of the Ghana Muslim Students Association (GMSA) of the University of Development Studies (UDS) on Friday.

“As young people we ought to guard against the evils of exclusivism. It is important that we realise that if Allah so desired He would have made all of us one people. But as He states in the Qur’an, He allows us to wallow in our differences, which He shall settle on the Day of Judgment.

“There shall be no compulsion in religion” so states the Qur’an. Let us therefore respect one another’s views on matters of religion. Intolerance in matters of religion is what breeds extremism and radicalism, which triggers political instability,” he said.

Touching on the relationship between faiths, Alhaji Dr. Bawumia explained that radicalism and extremism are the products of exclusivism and intolerance.

“In Ghana especially, the majority of the people live by the Christian faith. There cannot be peace and stability in Ghana except us, as Muslims co-exist peacefully with our Christian brothers and sisters. What feeds extremism and radicalism is the idea that there is only one way to God. While we are entitled to believe in the rightness of our way, we cannot seek to annihilate views that are opposite to ours. Radicalism and extremism are the product of exclusivism and intolerance.”

The NPP Running Mate delivering what was subsequently described as a well-researched scholarly Islamic piece by other speakers, explained that Islam itself is very tolerant of Christianity and pointed to various examples in the Qu’ran to make this point.

“Islam itself is very tolerant of Christianity. The first wave of Muslim migration to escape the persecution of the Makkans who opposed the nascent religion of Islam, was to Abyssinia (modern day Ethiopia). At that time the Prophet advised his followers to migrate to Abyssinia because “a Christian King rules.” Indeed the Qur’an affirms the Islamic affinity to Christianity when it states that “you will find nearest to the believers those who say ‘we are Christians…because amongst them are men who are devoted to learning and monks and because they are not arrogant” (Q: 5:82). The Prophet is also reported to have stated that “both in this world and in the hereafter, I am the nearest of all the people to Jesus, the son of Mary…” (Bukhari: Vol 4: 434),” he stated.

Continuing, Alhaji Dr. Bawumia mentioned the recognition given to Jesus and Mary in the Qu’ran.

“When the Makkans sent a delegation to appeal to the Negus of Abyssinia to extradite the Muslims and when the Muslims were called upon to say why they should not be extradited, their Spokesperson, Jafar bin Abu Talib, quoted copiously from the 19th chapter of the Qur’an as his defense. The 19th chapter of the Qur’an is called the chapter of Mary (Suratul Maryam). Indeed Mary is the only woman mentioned by name in the Qur’an and the chapter acknowledges the prophet-hood of Jesus, his special relationship with God, including the fact that he spoke from his cradle in defense of his mother when sections of her people thought that she had engaged in adultery; an incident that is not even mentioned in the Bible. The Prophet himself was to marry a Coptic Christian by name Maria and Allah subsequently made marriage between a Muslim man and a Christian woman lawful,” he added.

Dr. Bawumia urged Ghanaian Muslims to follow the good example of the National Chief Imam and to continue to work to sustain the peace and co-existence between the two faiths.

“In Ghana, unlike our neighbours in Nigeria, we have largely lived at peace with our Christian brothers and sisters. We have a National Chief Imam who even opened the doors of our Central Mosque in Accra to Christians to renovate for us as a symbol of the co-existence that ought to be between us. The youth should emulate this example by the National Chief Imam who is an embodiment of both Qur’anic and Prophetic wisdom.”

Source: peacefmonline.com

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Make The Right Choice In Nov Elections – Rawlings

Former President Jerry John Rawlings has called on Ghanaians to vote for their preferred political parties during the forthcoming general elections.

He said Ghanaians should not allow themselves to be coerced by any political party or its leadership to vote for him or her during the elections.

Make sure that as we go for the polls in November, you vote based on your own conviction.

Mr. Rawlings said this when he went to pay homage to the late Paramount Chief of the Osudoku Traditional Area.

He urged Ghanaians to ensure that they make the right choice when it comes to electing political leaders in November.

I am not here to campaign but it is important I entreat you to make the right choice based on what you think is right.

Mr. Rawlings was in the company of his wife, Mrs Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings.

The Chiefs and people of Osudoku as part of one week long activities to bid farewell to their King, held a grand durbar for their late Paramount Chief Nene Klagbordjor Animle V on Friday.

Nene Klagbordjor Animle V, was the Paramount Chief of the Osudoku Traditional Area from 1944 to 2014 when he passed on in the United Kingdom.

He is succeeded by Nene Adegbor Ngmogmowuyaa Animle VI.

Source: Citifmonline.com

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Tragic...NPP MP Murdered!

Information available to Peacefmonline.com indicates that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Abuakwa North in the Eastern Region, Joseph Boakye Danquah, has been stabbed to death.

He was stabbed at his residence at Shiashi in Accra by some unknown assailants on Tuesday dawn.

According to reports his wife, Ivy Heward-Mills was there when the incident occurred. It is however not clear whether the legislator was killed by armed robbers or hired assassins. 

Hon Danquah was 50 years old, a professional accountant and a member of the Special Budget Committee in Parliament. He was also part of the Trade Industry and Tourism Committee and was the grandson of late Ghanaian statesman J.B Danquah.

Meanwhile the Greater Accra Region Police Commander COP George Dampare has confirmed the killing of the MP and indicated that investigations have already started in earnest.

Source: peacefmonline.com

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Ghanaians Will Not Vote To Change Gov't Just For Changing Sake - Fred Agbenyo

Deputy Communications Director of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Fred Agbenyo strongly believes that Ghanaians will give the Mahama administration a second term on November 7, 2016.

Contributing to Peace FM's 'Kokrokoo', Fred Agbenyo noted that the electorates will definitely make the 'right decision' at the appropriate time.

To him, contrary to the beliefs of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) that Ghanaians are going to vote for their Presidential candidate Nana Addo, the 2016 general elections will see a change that is significant.

“Ghanaians will not vote to change government just for changing sake. Ghanaians will not vote to change government for changing sake…I can assure you that the people of this country are watching. They’re listening. And they will take the right decision at the right time.”

Fred Agbenyo also expressed his condolences to the family of the deceased Member of Parliament for Abuakwa North Joseph Boakye Danquah.

He appealed to the Police Service to hold a manhunt for the unknown assailants that crept into the room of the late MP on Tuesday.

Source: peacefmonline.com

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We Aren’t Safe Under President Mahama - Wontumi Sadly Breaks Down

After carefully studying and analyzing the trend of murder cases being recorded in Ghana lately, the Ashanti Regional Chairman for the New Patriotic Party has observed the nation has reached this frightening point because President Mahama hasn’t made security his top most priority.

Mr. Bernard Antwi Boasiako believes the lack of commitment on the side of President Mahama to ensure Ghanaians are soundly protected by our security agencies, has motivated murderers to take advantage of the situation.

In a statement copied to Peacefmonline.com, the Ashanti Regional Chairman for the NPP charged the president to equip the police and other security agencies with the necessary gadgets and items needed to make them efficient when it comes to tracking down murderers.


Below is a copy of his statement:

As a country, we have witnessed series of assassination attacks under the leadership of President Mahama and it's about time we come out strongly to ask these few questions as Ghanaians!

President Mahama and his NDC and everybody admits that the country has been engulfed with gross corruption, hardships, poor governance and couples of misfortunes but, the least we expected to add up: is the country's security threats and his poor commitment to protect the citizenry.

As the commander in chief of our security forces, we think it's prudent to question the president on matters of our safety when we feel unsafe.

We can't just sit down with our arms folded to allow these forms of misfortunes to continually happen all because the commander in chief of our security forces is not actively performing his roles.

Who knows who is next?

Amongst all these unfortunate happenings under your watch as a president, what measures have you put in place to abate a possible reoccurrence considering the under listed unfortunate assassinations attacks on innocent Ghanaians?

Feb 09, 2016 ~ The MP for Abuakwa North gunned down by unknown assailants.

Jun 21, 2014 ~ The Paramount Chief of the Nanumba Traditional Area, Naa Dasana Andani, killed.

20 Nov, 2014 ~ Nana Adusa Gyapong, the chief of Atwima Koforidua in the Ashanti Region gunned down by unknown assailants.

Mar 12, 2014 ~ Nii Ayittey Noyatse, the Joma Mantse, was shot and killed by unidentified assailants.

Nov 5, 2013 ~ Paramount Chief of Seikwa, Nana Kwaku Dwumah Ankoana II, assassinated

March 13, 2014 ~ Fennec Okyere, manager of controversial hiplife artiste, Kwaw Kese, shot dead.

Nov 12, 2015 ~ Vodafone Marketing Officer shot dead in his home at Sakumono

Dec 5, 2014 ~ The Branch Manager of Ecobank Ghana at Abrepo in Kumasi in the Ashanti region has been shot dead.

12 Dec, 2013 ~ Stanbic Bank worker murdered in mysterious circumstances.


Ghana deserves a leader who cares and for once we ask you to care about us as you prepare to exit power.

I believe you must leave a legacy before exiting power and I think you can do that by strengthening, investigating and protecting the citizenry for once in your few months stay in office.

I further extent my condolence to the family of J.B Dankwah and the people of Abuakwa North and as well all families who have lost their relatives due to President Mahama's failure to ensure his constitutional mandate of care to the citizenry. I share with you all


Signed...
Bernard Antwi Boasiako
(Chairman Wontumi)
Ashanti Regional chairman, NPP

Source: peacefmonline.com

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$7bn ENI-Sankofa Deal...Gov't Responds To NPP's Concerns

Government has described as needless, the appeal by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to the Italian Prime Minster, Mateo Renzi, to review the terms of the ENI-Sankofa gas deal because the opposition party's claims are misleading.

The NPP, on Tuesday, called on the Italian Prime Minister, during his two-day visit to Ghana, to review some of the terms in the ENI-Sankofa deal to maximize mutual benefits from the project.

According to the NPP, the deal disadvantages Ghana in that even the negotiated gas price of $9.8/MMBtu is higher than the price of gas sold to Ghana from Nigeria.

It is even more expensive than our own Atuabo Gas price of $8.8/MMBtu delivered at Takoradi...At the negotiated gas price of $9.8/MMBtu, it puts to great risk Ghana’s potential of becoming the Petrochemical hub of the region to Nigeria, due to that country’s lower gas prices.,” a statement issued by the party on Tuesday, February 2 and signed by Nana Akomea, the Communications Director of NPP said.

He further stated that since the contractual agreement between the government of Ghana and ENI, a state-owned Italian oil conglomerate, "is potentially the largest single investment in Ghana, which will bind the Ghanaian people for the next 20 years, it is, therefore, important that the benefits of this project are not so one-sided as they seem today."

But the Minister of Energy and Petroleum, Emmanuel Amarh Buah, in a statement issued today, said the NPP is seeking "to create some confusion in the minds of well-meaning Ghanaians since the issues raised are not factual."


Read below Government’s full response to the NPP concerns.


RESPONSE TO THE NEW PATROTIC PARTY’S STATEMENT ON THE ENI-SANKOFA DEAL

Accra, February 4, 2016. – The Ministry of Petroleum’s attention has been drawn to a statement issued and signed by the Director of Communications for the New Patriotic Party, Nana Akomea on the OCTP gas project. The statement which was captioned: “NPP WELCOMES ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER, RAISES QUESTIONS ABOUT ENI-SANKOFA DEAL” sought to create some confusion in the minds of well-meaning Ghanaians particularly as the issues raised are not factual and therefore misleading.

The Ministry therefore wishes to set the records straight by responding to the issues as raised in the statement.

NPP: The Government of Ghana’s provision of financial terms to ENI and its partners of 20% return on investment, instead of the normal 12.5%, is an unusually high rate for commercial transactions of this nature, especially as GNPC assumes all the risk in the project.

RESPONSE: The Government did not provide a guaranteed 20% to the partners. The rate of return on investment for this project is less than 12.5%.

Usually individual partners use different criteria for deciding whether or not to proceed with a project. In doing so, they normally discount past cost on investment. In the pricing negotiations for this project the parties considered the full cycle economics which includes past costs, future costs and potential returns. Under this approach the rate of return was less than 12.5% within an environment of high oil prices. So given significant reductions in oil prices today the return to the investor will even be lower on a full project life cycle basis.

It is also not true that GNPC is assuming all the risk in the project. The partners took a significant portion of the exploration risk amounting to about a billion dollars and are expected to spend about 95% of the development cost for 50% of the overall benefits.

NPP: The negotiated gas price of $9.8/MMBtu for gas from the Sankofa fields is too high by world standards, of between $5-7/MMBtu. It is even higher than the price of gas sold to Ghana from Nigeria, which stands at $8.3/MMBtu, delivered at Takoradi. It is even more expensive than our own Atuabo Gas price of $8.8/MMBtu delivered at Takoradi. At the negotiated gas price of $9.8/MMBtu, it puts to great risk Ghana’s potential of becoming the Petrochemical hub of the region to Nigeria, due to that country’s lower gas prices.

RESPONSE: The price of gas in the Sankofa Gas Sales Agreement is determined by a number of factors. This includes:

The headline price, which is US$9.8 per million British thermal unit.

The cost of developing the field and operating it for 20 years.

Interventions by the GNPC to reduce financing costs, which would reduce the gas price by as much as US$1.65 per million British thermal unit (MMBtu).

The concept of world average price for gas as a comparator is erroneous since we are dealing with the price of delivered gas at a particular delivery point. For example, if gas is produced in the US, by the time it arrives in Ghana in the form of LNG, would have been priced at more than US$15 /MMBtu. Even at today’s oil price (say, US$30), LNG landed price in Ghana would be more than US$8/MMBtu.

In addition, comparing Atuabo gas to the Sankofa gas is misleading. Atuabo gas is associated gas, which was priced at zero. The zero price was negotiated for a foundation volume of 200 Bcf. This was possible because the associated gas was a bye product of a very lucrative oil project. Beyond 2020, when the foundation volume would have been exhausted, the price of Jubilee gas would cease to be zero. Another key feature of the Sankofa gas price is the fact that about 50% of the proceeds would accrue to the State in various forms, including taxes, royalties, as well as GNPC’s 20% stake in the project.

NPP: This agreement compels GNPC to buy up to 90% of ENI produced gas at a higher negotiated price of $9.8/MMBtu for 20 solid years. This gas sales same agreement is further guaranteed against default by three guarantees – the government of Ghana, the World Bank and GNPC – amounting to some $750 million. Furthermore, GNPC, after buying the gas from ENI at a guaranteed price stands the risk of losing its market (VRA, IPPs, petrochemical industries) to other cheap gas suppliers.

RESPONSE: The Agreement reached contains a take-or-pay volume of 90%. Such requirements are standard terms in gas sales agreements in our part of the world where the gas market is not developed. In return we are assured of 90% availability of gas from the ENI field, which compares favourably with other less reliable supply sources whose effective prices are higher if we factor in the cost of short term alternatives.

It should also be noted that the 90% is also a commitment by the Contractor to supply same volumes, failure of which attracts penalties in the form of lower price for the gas.

The price of Jubilee and WAGP should be adjusted for the costs of other, more expensive, alternatives as Jubilee and WAGP are highly erratic. It must be stated that to date, Ghana has not been able to implement the terms of contract with WAGP. This has been a major contributor to the prolonged energy challenges that have bedeviled the country. In addition, interruptible supply of gas affects the operational efficiency of power plants, thereby leading to higher cost of power.

The issue of security for the project – from the World Bank, Government and the GNPC – is standard industry practice and is typical in gas commercialization projects in countries where the gas market is not developed. This explains why the World Bank supports this arrangement. It is important to emphasize that the Government’s portion of the security is only the last resort which only kicks in when the value chain ceases to work. That is why Government is implementing the bold reforms within the energy sector to forestall such occurrences. In essence if the value chain works, and SOEs in the chain are viable, there would be no need for this level of security.

NPP: Ghana also guarantees additional free cash flows to the company by allowing them to write-off 7% interest on all commercial loans from project revenues, when the normal provision is between 2-3%. This also reduces Ghana’s potential tax revenues from this project by over $160 million. No other companies, whether from Jubilee or TEN, have been given this same rate of 7%.

RESPONSE: It is equally not true that Ghana guarantees additional cash flow through write off of 7% interest on commercial loans exclusively to this project. There is evidence that other companies in the Petroleum sector have borrowed at near or higher rates than the 7% referred to and have benefitted from tax deductions as provided under the law governing petroleum operations.

NPP: The cost of the development of the Jubilee Fields, with more reserves of oil equivalence and with a water depth of 3,630 ft., came to $4 billion. The cost of development of the TEN oil fields, also with more oil reserves of oil equivalence, came to $4.9 billion. The cost of development of ENI’s Sankofa is $7 billion, with less reserves of oil equivalence and at relatively lower water depths of 2,706 ft. We wonder the quality of due diligence done, if any.

RESPONSE: Comparing the development costs of Ghana’s three leading fields – Jubilee, TEN and Sankofa, is completely out of context. Jubilee and TEN are essentially oil fields, whereas Sankofa is principally a gas project. The investment requirement for any field depends not only on reserves and water depth, but also the complexity of the sub-sea infrastructure, proximity to existing infrastructure (in the case of gas, pipeline network).

Additionally, the statement compares only one phase of Jubilee development to the total ENI project. Jubilee in fact is a phased development project. The full cycle Jubilee development project cost is not USD4billion as indicated in the statement. It is rather expected to be around USD8billion whereas the ENI full cycle development cost is estimated at USD7.9billion. As already stated we are already seeing significant reductions in the cost of the ENI project which will have a positive impact on the final gas price.


Signed: Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah (MP) MINISTER FOR ENERGY AND PETROLEUM

Source: peacefmonline.com

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Germany train crash: Several killed near Bavarian town of Bad Aibling

At least 10 people were killed and scores more injured, police say, after two passenger trains collided in the German state of Bavaria.

The head-on crash happened near Bad Aibling, a spa town about 60km (37 miles) south-east of Munich.

The transport minister said the trains had crashed into each other while both travelling at around 100km/h (62mph).

Emergency teams, some winched in by helicopter, worked for hours to free casualties from the wreckage.


What we know

  • The accident occurred on a single-track route between Rosenheim and Holzkirchen at about 07:00 local time (06:00 GMT)
  • Officials say they assume both train drivers had no visual contact before the crash as the site is on a bend - and therefore crashed into each other largely without braking
  • The stretch of line had an automatic braking system designed to halt any train that passed a stop signal. It is not yet known why this failed to stop the crash
  • Two of the three data recorders or "black boxes" on board the trains have been recovered

In focus: Bavaria's railways

Train crash rescue: As it happened

Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was "dismayed and saddened" by the crash.

Regional police said that 10 people had been killed and revised down the toll of injured to 80, 17 of them seriously.

One person is still missing, they say.

The drivers of both trains and two train guards were among those killed, police said.

German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt, who visited the scene, said it was a "horrifying sight".

"The drivers' cabs of both trains are wedged into each other. One side of one train is completely torn open. The other train bored into it," he told a news conference.

Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann told the same conference it was "difficult to comprehend" how such a crash could happen given the amount of investment in railway safety following previous train accidents.

Electrical engineer Joe Adediran, who was on the train between Rosenheim and Holzkirchen, said that he had had a "lucky escape".

"At the first station, this train normally has to wait for five minutes or so for the opposite one to arrive. After a while, we started to move on to the next station without waiting for the opposite train," he told the BBC.

Other fatal German train crashes

  • January 2011: 10 killed in Saxony-Anhalt when commuter train collides with goods train after driver runs through two signals
  • February 2000: Nine dead when overnight train from Amsterdam to Basel crashes near Cologne
  • June 1998: 101 killed when a high-speed train with a broken wheel derails and smashes into a bridge at Eschede in Lower Saxony

Source: bbc.com

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South Africa's Zuma makes U-turn over Nkandla revamp money

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma has made a U-turn in court over his refusal to repay some of the $23m (£15m) of state money used to upgrade his home.

His lawyer admitted he was wrong to ignore an anti-corruption watchdog's report to pay back money spent on features such as a swimming pool.

The opposition bought the case, hoping it will open the way for impeachment proceedings against the president.

Thousands of people protested outside court, shouting "Zuma must fall".

Police put up a strong show of force, as the protesters, led by Julius Malema's left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), marched to the court in the main city, Johannesburg.

Latest updates from court and protests

How Zuma's home has grown

The protest was against "corruption and cronyism" in government, the EFF said.

The main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) also organised its own demonstration.

The governing African National Congress (ANC) denounced the marches as a "political exercise".

'Unlawful enrichment'

The opposition parties want the Constitutional Court to rule that My Zuma flouted the constitution by ignoring a 2014 report by the anti-corruption watchdog, known as the Public Protector, that he should repay the money, as he had "unduly benefited" from the upgrade.

At the time, the police minister defended the expenditure as necessary security upgrades, saying the swimming pool was, in fact, a fire pool that could be used in the event a fire broke out at the residence in Mr Zuma's home village of Nkandla.

An amphitheatre, cattle enclosure and chicken run were also built.

Map

Mr Zuma's lawyer Jeremy Gauntlett conceded in court that the report was "binding" on the president, and he was prepared to repay the money within 90 days.

However, he denied that Mr Zuma had violated the constitution.


Analysis: Milton Nkosi, BBC News, Johannesburg

The admission by Mr Zuma's lawyer was shocking: The president was legally bound to accept the findings of the Public Protector's report, entitled Secure in Comfort.

This was a massive U-turn, as Mr Zuma had until now argued that the report contained mere recommendations, lacking the status of a court order.

Looking at Mr Malema, I could only conclude that he was rubbing his hands with glee as the drama unfolded in court.

The EFF now smells blood - it hopes South Africa's highest court will go as far as to rule that the president breached the constitution and therefore violated his oath of office.

The opposition would then no doubt demand the president's impeachment.

For now, Police Minister Nathi Nhleko's position is most tenuous. He was at the forefront of the campaign to rubbish the Public Protector's report. It is difficult to see how he can remain in the post.

The saga has become a major political scandal, at one point sparking scuffles inside parliament.

EFF lawyer Wim Trengrove told the court the president had defied the Public Protector to unlawfully "enrich himself", South Africa's private News24 website reports.

"His conduct at the time and response to the report was in violation of the constitution," Mr Trengrove is quoted as telling the judges.

The case comes at a difficult time for Mr Zuma, who has also been under fire over his handling of the finance ministry, after he sacked two ministers in a week last year.

Many South Africans also accuse his government of not doing enough to tackle corruption and poverty.

Source: bbc.com

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Ogbonna's extra-time header put West Ham into the last 16 of the FA Cup

Angelo Ogbonna's extra-time header put West Ham into the last 16 of the FA Cup with a dramatic fourth-round replay win against Liverpool.

The Hammers led before half-time when Michail Antonio guided in Enner Valencia's cross at the far post.

Liverpool responded shortly after the restart when Philippe Coutinho's low free-kick sneaked under the home wall.

Both sides hit the woodwork in an open tie, before Ogbonna met Dimitri Payet's free-kick to delight the home fans.

The Hammers will visit Championship side Blackburn in the fifth round on Sunday, 21 February.

Re-live a dramatic night at the Boleyn Ground

Magic of the cup?

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic has said he would rather win the FA Cup than finish in the Premier League top four, and he showed his intent by picking a near full-strength side against an inexperienced Liverpool team.

Reds counterpart Jurgen Klopp, as he had in his previous three FA Cup matches, rang the changes with only goalkeeper Simon Mignolet surviving from Saturday's Premier League draw against Sunderland.

But any worries - for the neutral observer, at least - that the hosts would dominate their youthful opponents proved unfounded.

The two sides were evenly matched throughout the 120 minutes as a high-tempo game, containing plenty of goalscoring chances and drama, provided a sharp contrast to the dour 0-0 draw at Anfield.

Either side could have nicked an extra-time winner, with Christian Benteke missing three clear-cut opportunities for Liverpool.

And former Juventus defender Ogbonna's first Hammers goal provided the perfect finale for the hosts in what might be the final FA Cup tie at the Boleyn Ground before their move to the Olympic Stadium.

Hammers up for the cup?

West Ham are three-time winners of the FA Cup, but have not lifted the trophy since Trevor Brooking's famous header gave them victory in the 1980 final.

But with Bilic keen to focus on the competition, could he lead the east London club to silverware in his first season as Hammers boss?

The Croat will not publicly admit it, but he must realise his team have a great chance of reaching the last eight as they face a Blackburn side winless in eight league matches and in the lower reaches of the Championship.

France international Dimitri Payet will be central to their ambitions of a possible run to Wembley, with the mercurial midfielder again instrumental in this victory.

The 28-year-old, who the Hammers want to sign an improved deal, outlined his worth by starting the move that led to Antonio's goal and supplying the teasing free-kick that Ogbonna converted.

Benteke to blame?

Since his £32m summer arrival from Aston Villa, Benteke has failed to win over many Liverpool fans, who have questioned the wisdom in spending so much on a striker who has struggled to fit into the Reds' system.

And the Belgian missed the chance to win over the doubters by firing Liverpool, seven-time winners of the FA Cup, past the Hammers.

Benteke had nine efforts at goal - three times as many as any other player - but extended his goalless run to 11 matches in 2016.

Hammers keeper Darren Randolph denied him from close range in both halves of normal time, but Benteke should have scored when put clean through in extra time.

However, he could only shoot at the legs of the Republic of Ireland international - a miss which proved costly.

"It's not the nicest moment in his career but he has to work hard," said Klopp.

"He wants to score and we need him to score. We will work on it in the days, weeks and months."

Sturridge return boosts Liverpool

Despite the defeat, there were some positives for Liverpool fans - most notably Daniel Sturridge returning from a hamstring injury to make his first appearance since early December.

Sturridge has spent almost 55% of his time at Anfield injured, but once again showed how important he could be if he manages to stay fit.

The England international gradually grew into the game after arriving as a 59th-minute substitute, showing glimpses of neat footwork and his sharp eye for goal.

His best opportunity came early in the second half of extra time, when he picked the ball up near the halfway line before driving forward unopposed and fizzing a shot inches over the Hammers crossbar.

Too early to start thinking of an England recall?

What's next?

Back to Premier League action. Sixth-placed West Ham go to relegation battlers Norwich on Saturday, while ninth-placed Liverpool visit bottom side Aston Villa on Sunday.

Stats you need to know

  • Liverpool played their 40th game in all competitions in 2015-16, more than any other Premier League team
  • Philippe Coutinho's goal was Liverpool's first in 318 minutes of action against West Ham in all competitions this season
  • The Hammers have lost just one of their past 11 FA Cup games at home, winning six and drawing four
  • West Ham's win was their first in eight FA Cup meetings with the Reds, drawing three and losing four
  • Benteke has gone 11 games without scoring for Liverpool in all competitions, mustering 30 shots in those matches

Source: bbc.com

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Chelsea must reach final to save season - Thibaut Courtois

Chelsea must reach the final of the Champions League or the FA Cup to save their season, says goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

Chelsea face Paris St-Germain on 16 February before their fifth-round FA Cup tie with Manchester City.

"We play against two great sides and we have to try to win those games," said the Blues number one.

"The only way to save our season is to reach the final in one or both of them."

Following their 1-1 Premier League draw with Manchester United, Chelsea still sit low down the Premier League table in 13th position, 17 points from a Champions League spot.

"Obviously every time we don't win in the league, and there is one game less, there is less chance to get into the top four," the 23-year-old told Chelseafc.com

Chelsea have gone nine matches without defeat under interim manager Guus Hiddink and they have not given up on reaching a top-four spot.

"We will see where we are with five-six games in a row and see whether we can get there or not."

The Blues next league game is against relegation-threatened Newcastle on Saturday.

Source: bbc.com

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US President Obama signs Africa electricity plan into law

US President Barack Obama has signed into law an initiative aimed at bringing electricity to 50 million people in sub-Saharan Africa by 2020.

The Electrify Africa Act of 2015 will give legal backing to Mr Obama's flagship Power Africa scheme, which is trying to improve access to electricity through public-private partnerships.

It took nearly two years to be passed in both houses of the US Congress.

About two-thirds of people in Africa do not have access to reliable power.

Africa Live: BBC News updates

Observers say the new legislation is likely to ensure that the scheme continues even after Mr Obama leaves the White House in 2017.

A man holds a placard reading 'No electricity! No industries!! No jobs!!! Provide electricity, revive industries, provide decent jobs' during a demonstration to protest against the 45 percent raise of electricity prices on February 8, 2016 in Lagos

Many Nigerians are forced to rely on generators for their electricity supply

The scheme has set itself the long-term target of doubling electricity access in sub-Saharan Africa.

The legislation would "improve the lives of millions in sub-Saharan Africa by helping to reduce reliance on charcoal and other toxic fuel sources that produce fumes that kill more than HIV/Aids and malaria combined," said House Foreign Affairs committee chairman Ed Royce, a long-time supporter of the initiative.

It would also "promote the development of affordable and reliable energy", he added, in a statement on Monday.

Management consultant firm McKinsey estimates that it will cost $835bn (£575bn) to connect the entire continent's population to electricity by 2030.

Aside from the US government, African governments, development partners, and the private sector are all involved in the Power Africa scheme.

The US government has made financial commitments of $7bn to support the scheme, which it says in turn has drawn a further $43bn in investment pledged from other public and private partners.

Source: bbc.com

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Mali: landmine 'kills 3 soldiers' in central Mopti

Three Malian soldiers were killed when their vehicle hit a landmine in the central region of Mopti, officials say.

Two others were wounded and taken to a hospital, the defence ministry said in a statement.

No group has claimed responsibility for the device.

Mali has been threatened by various armed groups and has fought Islamist rebels in the north for a number of years.

The incident happened in Mondoro, next to the border with Burkina Faso, the statement said.

Why Mali is an insurgent hotspot

Mali profile

Al-Qaeda-linked militants have been fighting the army in northern Mali and France, the former colonial power in the country, intervened in January 2013 to stop their advance south to the capital.

But attacks across the country have increased recently, including a shooting at a hotel in the capital, Bamako, that left 22 people dead in November.

Militancy in Mali

  • October 2011: Ethnic Tuaregs launch rebellion after returning with arms from Libya
  • March 2012: Army coup over government's handling of rebellion; a month later Tuareg and al-Qaeda-linked fighters seize control of north
  • June 2012: Islamist groups capture Timbuktu, Kidal and Gao from Tuaregs, start to destroy Muslim shrines and manuscripts and impose Sharia
  • January 2013: Islamist fighters capture a central town, raising fears they could reach Bamako. Mali requests French help
  • July 2013: UN force, now totalling about 12,000, takes over responsibility for securing the north after Islamists routed from towns
  • July 2014: France launches an operation in the Sahel to stem jihadist groups
  • Attacks continue in northern desert area, blamed on Tuareg and Islamist groups
  • 2015: Terror attacks in the capital, Bamako, and central Mali

Source: bbc.com

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'We are not criminals' Nigerians tell their president

It's the home of the "419" scam - the infamous online swindle named after a Nigerian anti-fraud law - and it's no secret that this country's international reputation has been tainted by allegations of criminality.

But it's not something Nigerians expected to hear from the mouth of their president himself, especially while he was on an official visit to the UK.

In an interview with the Telegraph newspaper, President Muhammadu Buhari said that Nigerians abroad have "made it difficult for Europeans and Americans to accept them because of the number of Nigerians in prisons all over the world accused of drug trafficking or human trafficking."

"We have an image problem abroad," he said. "And we are on our way to salvage that. We will encourage our countrymen to stay at home, work hard and make a respectable living at home."

Nigerians reacted to his remarks by the thousand - with rage, humour and some insightful self-reflection too.

Opposition senator Ben Bruce-Murray was one of the first to respond, urging people to get the hashtag #IamANigerianNotACriminal trending.

Tweet by senator Ben Bruce-Murray

That hashtag rapidly evolved into the snappier #NigeriansAreNotCriminals which was used more than 35,000 times in a couple of days. There were a slew of tweets criticising the president for slandering the reputation of his own people.

Tweet of frustration

It's a thorny issue for Nigerians living abroad who feel they sometimes have to deal with stricter immigration checks and visa restrictions than people from other parts of the world. And some who believe they face heavier oversight and regulation when it comes to working in the banking and finance sectors because of their nationality.

Nigeria is in the middle of an economic crisis. Dropping oil prices mean there is less money around for investment and the value of the naira is falling rapidly.

Tweet

And Nigerians feel that in many respects the reputation just isn't justified. According to UK police statistics, shared by Senator Murray-Bruce, Nigerians in the UK have faced fewer arrests than immigrants from other, smaller European countries.

Despite the backlash, there was some support for what President Buhari said. The president has a reputation for plain speaking. He was voted into power last year, in a mostly fair election, on a platform of fighting corruption. As an army general in 1984 Buhari overthrew a civilian government, replacing it with a military dictatorship and made a promise to stamp out "indiscipline". He was overthrown not long after. But his reputation survived.

Some are calling this a gaffe but so far the president has made no effort to backtrack on what he said.

Source: bbc.com

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Obama climate initiative: Supreme Court calls halt

President Barack Obama's plans to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide from US power plants have been stalled by the US Supreme Court.

The court ruled that the president's Clean Power Plan could not go forward until all legal challenges were heard.

Designed to cut US emissions by 32% by 2030, the scheme put huge emphasis on a shift to renewable energy.

It formed the key element of the US pledge at UN climate negotiations held in Paris in December last year.

Introduced by the president last August, the plan set carbon reduction goals for each state and it was up to the states themselves to come up with proposals to meet those goals.

A group of 27 states, utilities and coal miners sought to block the proposal in the courts. They argued that the plan was an infringement on states' rights.

An initial attempt to halt the implementation of the plan until legal challenges were heard was thrown out by a US appeals court in Washington in January.

However the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to suspend the plan pending the outcome of the litigation.


White House 'disagrees' with ruling

White House spokesman Josh Earnest put out a statement following the decision:

"We disagree with the Supreme Court's decision to stay the Clean Power Plan while litigation proceeds.

"The Clean Power Plan is based on a strong legal and technical foundation, gives states the time and flexibility they need to develop tailored, cost-effective plans to reduce their emissions, and will deliver better air quality, improved public health, clean energy investment and jobs across the country, and major progress in our efforts to confront the risks posed by climate change.

"We remain confident that we will prevail on the merits."


The ruling could have significant implications for the president's attempt to cut down on carbon.

Under the Clean Power Plan, individual states were due to submit their proposals on how to meet the CO2 restrictions by September this year. That date will be missed.

It is unlikely that all the legal questions over the future of the Clean Power Plan will be resolved before President Obama leaves office next January.

Bar chart showing the 10 states in the US most dependent on coal for their energy

West Virginia's Attorney General Patrick Morrisey called the high court's action a "great victory".

"We are thrilled that the Supreme Court realized the rule's immediate impact and froze its implementation, protecting workers and saving countless dollars as our fight against its legality continues," he said in a statement.

Supporters of the Clean Power Plan were confident that the courts would ultimately upheld its legality.

"The electricity sector has embarked on an unstoppable shift from its high-pollution, dirty-fuelled past to a safer, cleaner-powered future, and the stay cannot reverse that trend," said David Doniger, from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

"Nor can it dampen the overwhelming public support for action on climate change and clean energy."

The ruling will be seen as a major embarrassment for President Obama, who helped craft a new global agreement on climate change at UN sponsored talks in Paris in December.

What will worry the White House more is the division of the court along ideological lines, with conservative justices all supporting the stay while the liberal justices opposed.

If these divisions hold, the Clean Power Plan may suffer further setbacks in the Supreme Court which may ultimately render it useless.

If that was to happen, the ability of the US to live up to its commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement would be in serious doubt.

Source: bbc.com

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Oil price recovery will be short-lived, says IEA

A recent rise in oil prices is a "false dawn" and the oversupply of crude is set to worsen, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The IEA expects oil stocks to grow by two million barrels a day in the first quarter and 1.5 million barrels a day in the following three months.

In January, Brent crude hit a 13-year low of $27.67. It recovered a bit, but on Tuesday was down 7.2% at $30.50.

But that is still a long way from the $112 level reached in June 2014.

The IEA forecast that stock building could continue in the second half of 2016 at a rate of 300 million barrels a day. It said: "If these numbers prove to be accurate, and with the market already awash in oil, it is very hard to see how oil prices can rise significantly in the short term."

Meanwhile demand for oil is expected to weaken. The IEA forecasts that demand growth will fall to 1.2 million barrels a day this year, from the 1.6 million barrels a day seen in 2015, the IEA said.

The think tank also questioned whether the recent rise in prices was a "false dawn" and concluded that a number of conditions increased the risk of weak oil prices.

These included doubts that Opec, the oil cartel, was in talks with other oil producing nations to reduce supply.

It also quashed speculation that Opec nations would cut output this year, stating that output from Iraq reached a new record in January. Iran has increased production ahead of sanctions being removed and preliminary data suggested that Saudi Arabia's shipments had increased.

Source: bbc.com

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Oscars 2016: Sylvester Stallone considered boycott

Sylvester Stallone says he thought about boycotting the Oscars ceremony because of this year's diversity row.

The 69-year-old actor has a best supporting actor nod for his role as Rocky Balboa in boxing drama Creed.

At the annual Oscar nominees' lunch in Los Angeles, Stallone revealed he'd consulted Creed director Ryan Coogler about attending the awards.

"I said, 'if you want me to go, I'll go, if you don't, I won't'," Stallone said.

"He said, 'Just go there and try to represent the film.'"

Neither Coogler nor Creed's star Michael B Jordan, who are both black, were nominated.

Stallone added: "I do believe things will change and it's a matter of time and all talent will rise to the top but it's a matter of getting a new paradigm, a new way of thinking."

Oscars co-producer David Hill told Variety at Monday's lunch event that this year's Oscar show "will be the most diverse ever".

Several top industry figures, including Will Smith and Spike Lee, have said they will not attend the ceremony after no black or minority actors were nominated in the four Oscars acting categories for the second year running.

Stallone was last nominated for an Oscar in 1977 for his lead performance in the original Rocky.

He said: "I never thought I would be able to cross this threshold again. As you get older miracles begin to diminish, I couldn't be more thrilled. My daughters look at me now as an actor rather than a bad golfer.

"I tell them I used to do this but they won't look at my videos."

The Oscar nominees lunch, at the Beverly Hilton hotel, brought together more than 150 nominees for a "class photo" ahead of the Oscars on 28 February.

British star Eddie Redmayne said he was trying to enjoy the "extraordinary ride" of his second best actor nomination in two years.

Redmayne won the best actor Oscar last year for his role as Stephen Hawking in The Theory Of Everything. This year he is shortlisted for his portrayal of transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl.

His co-star Alicia Vikander has a best supporting actress nod for her role as Elbe's wife Gerda.

Asked if the acting nominees had discussed the diversity issue, Redmayne told the Press Association: "We haven't all met together until this occasion but it's on everyone minds and the way it has been handled seems to be a positive step."

Source: bbc.com

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This Is 'Not Good News At All'...'I’m So Disturbed' – Kufuor

Former President John Agyekum Kufour says he still cannot come to terms with the unfortunate news of the death of the Member of Parliament for Abuakwa North, Joseph Boakye Danquah, who was stabbed to death in his house in the wee hours of Tuesday.

Speaking in an interview on PeaceFM during the station's 6pm Bulletin, the former president said,; “I’m so disturbed that I don’t even understand it.” 

The former President, who made the late MP a Deputy Minister for Women and Children during his tenure, also lamented the bizarre cases of murder being recorded lately saying "something strange" is happening in Ghana

It’s not good news. It’s not good news at all...I just don't understand. The killings and deaths are becoming one too many. Both children and adults are dying. It's not normal...I don’t get it….we plead with the securities to really look into it, it's becoming one too many,” he added.

He emphatically stated that he can never attribute the recent killings to a particular individual, party or society because it can never be the cause.

The former president therefore urged government to focus on providing security agencies with the required gadgets needed to track issues above human imagination, to keep them in tune with the digital ways of getting information.

This he said need to corrected as soon as possible to prevent the security agencies from always being blamed for not providing accurate and correct information on criminal cases when the actual problem is because they do not have the necessary equipment needed to investigate crimes.

Source: peacefmonline.com

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Ex-Prez Kufuor: Social Media Affecting Ghana Negatively

A former president of Ghana, John Agyekum Kufour, has cautioned the public to be wary of the negative influence of television and social media.

Mr Kufuor said some alien vices prevalent in developed countries have found their way into Ghana, in recent times, and could be partly responsible for the increased decay in Ghanaian society.

“Even though technology has come to play good roles in the lives of Ghanaians, it is now having negative implications in the society especially with the youth, who have their own way of accessing every  information through  various social medias , of which are not good for human consumption” he told Nana Yaw Kesse on Peace FM’s 6PM News Bulletin on Tuesday February 9 while mourning Abuakwa North MP J B Danwuah Adu, who was killed Tuesday dawn at his Shiashie residence in the national capital, Accra.

The former president also pointed out that “life has become too fast and so advanced, so, our security systems should develop fast to catch up with modern trends, else things will be dangerous”.

He noted that “government should work at the unemployment rate which is also causing the evil one to find jobs for the idle hands, creating problems all over the country.”

According to him if a youth after school has nothing doing he would be lured by friends to engage in bad ways which can earn them income since they are not engaged in anything profitable.

In Mr Kufuor’s view, there have been too many strange deaths and killings in recent times, saying: “I just don’t understand. The killings and deaths are becoming one too many. Both children and adults are dying. It’s not normal,” he lamented.

“We are praying that the police and security agencies will be vigilant and proactive because this is uncharacteristic of Ghanaians, it is too much,” he underscored.

Source: peacefmonline.com

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Smarttys Pays First Installment Of Refund Cash

Smarttys Management and Production Limited has paid the first instalment of the refunds in connection with the rebranding of 116 Metro Mass Transit (MMT) buses by the Ministry of Transport.

The branding of the buses was done at a cost of GH¢3.6 million.

A letter signed by lawyer for Smarttys Management and Production Limited, Mr Kissi Agyebeng, to which the cheque paid into the account of the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) was attached said, “See attached a cheque intended as the settling of the agreed first instalment of three hundred thousand cedis drawn on the client’s account of Cromwell Gray LLP.”

The letter made reference to the Attorney General’s letters of December 29, 2015 and January 7, 2016, on the refunds to be made, and also made reference to modes of payment reached.

Modes of payment

The letter of January 7, 2016 by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Ms Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, which was addressed to Mr Kissi Agyebeng said a figure of GH¢1,548,608.04 had been arrived at as the amount to be refunded by Smarttys Management and Production Limited.

“In consultation with the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Finance, this amount was arrived at taking into consideration the following factors raised in your letter, revised value added tax position, revised withholding tax position and a set off of GH¢27,173.74 withholding tax over deductions,” the letter added.

The letter indicated the acceptance of the request to pay the revised amount in full on or before March 31, 2016.

It said interest on the revised amount would be frozen subject to Smarttys Management and Production Limited making full payment  of an amount between GH¢300,000 on or before January 29, 2016.

“The remainder to be paid in two equal instalments on or before February 29, 2016 and March 31, 2016, respectively,” the letter said.

It directed that all payments should be made by cheque in the name of EOCO.

“Please be advised that government reserves the right to take all relevant actions or steps to recover all moneys owed together with interest accrued calculated at the prevailing bank rate from 29th January 2016 till date of final payment if you fail to make payment within the stipulated time,” the letter said.

Context

The branding of the new Chinese Huanghai buses for the MMT with portraits of John Mahama and past presidents caused public outcry, resulting in the resignation of the Minister of Transport, Ms Dzifa Attivor, in December.

Subsequently, the Chief of Staff, Mr Julius Debrah, ordered the Attorney General to probe the contract and report back to him.

The Attorney General presented her report on December 22, 2015, directing the refunding of money found to have been overpaid to Smarttys in the contract.
 

Source: Daily Graphic

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We´re Breaking Away From Ghana – Volta Group

A group known as the Homeland Study Group Foundation based in Ho is demanding the secession of the Volta Region and parts of the Northern and Upper East Regions from Ghana to become the Western Togoland state as soon as possible.

The demand runs contrary to the prevailing international order of globalisation which rather facilitates the integration of states and nations into political and economic blocs.

In an argument, the group claimed that residents of the Western Togoland voted to become a union with the Gold Coast (now Ghana) but the union had not been established up till now and that Ghana opted to be a unitary state under the plebiscite in 1956 [referendum] to be in union with a common constitution with the WesternTogoland and the Gold Coast but there had been no unionized constitution up to date.

The group further claimed that the Western Togoland was not incorporated in the act establishing the Gold Coast by Queen Elisabeth of the United Kingdom.

The need for sovereignty

It therefore called for the declaration of Western Togoland which is perceived as stretching from Kulungugu in the Upper East Region to Keta in the Southern coast by the Atlantic ocean as a sovereign state.

According to the group the Gold Coast voted to be a unitary state on July 12, 1956 while the Western Togoland voted to be in union with Ghana on July 9, 1956 and that the union had not been established till now.

The group claimed that the size of Eastern Togoland was 22,000 square miles and the Western Togoland as 12,600 square miles.

Speaking exclusively to Graphic Online at the sidelines of the annual congress and lecture of the homeland study group at the auditorium of the Volta Regional House of Chiefs in Ho, the chairman and convenor of the secessionist group , Mr Charles Kormi Kudjordjie, said the group had no intention of creating any turmoil in the country and that the agitation was to be pursued in a peaceful manner.

”This is the beginning of the united effort of exerting final pressure to extricate ourselves from over 50 years span of un-established union with Ghana which has not yielded any benefits - social, economic and financial security to the common people of the land," Mr Kudjordjie stated.

“The time is now to execute a common plan of action to come out of serfdom as some wise men and women did before under various autocracies the world over. Our wise men and women are again ready to strategise for the formula for coming out of the serfdom sooner than later. This congress is the launch pad for the missile attack at all fronts for independence. Whether it is here now, today, tomorrow is matter of choice that must not be delayed, but pursued vigorously”, Mr Kudjordjoe declared.

He said the group was positioned to avoid all errors of misrule of former affiliation and assured that there was enough capital, human and material resources to plan policies towards better technological skilled manpower development for brighter economic attainment of the new state.

Mr Kudjordjie said the people of Western Togoland had no legal basis to be part of Ghana and that the time to act was now to save the future generation.

In a welcoming address, the vice chairman of the homeland study group, Mr Gotthold Yao Agra, said the Western Togoland was clandestinely removed at all levels of education in Ghana with the view to creating a vacuum that will consume the identity as a state among United Nations, African Union and the Economic Community of West African States(ECOWAS ) and other international organisations.

He, therefore, said the restoration of the state of Western Togoland was in tandem with the restoration of history and subsequent restoration of the legitimate state which had lingered over the years that had remained for over 100 years.

More than 35 delegates came from Adidome, Kpando, Tsito, Dzodze, Ho, Juapong, Amedzofe, Lume, Wheta, Klikor, Damabai, Aflao and Kadjebi.

Source: Graphic.com.gh

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MMDAs Must Have Offices For Independent Governance Institutions - Ahwoi

All Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) must have functional offices for Independent Governance Institutions (IGIs) in their jurisdiction, in order to ensure good governance, transparency and accountability.

Professor Kwamena Ahwoi, Lecturer, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, said as far as practicable, MMDAs must ensure that independent constitutional bodies such as Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, Ghana Audit Service, and Electoral Commission, among others have office and staff accommodation, vehicles logistics and equipment to make them functional in their dominion.

He said under the new decentralization programme 60 per cent of the national budgetary allocation is for the MMDAs; hence the need for the IGIs to be in every administrative district to ensure transparency and accountability.

Prof Ahwoi, who is also a local government expert and a former Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, was speaking on Tuesday in Accra at a day’s workshop on “Inter-Service and Sectoral Collaboration and Co-operation System (ISCCS)”.

The workshop was organised by the Local Government Service (LGS) for participants from the IGIs, decentralized and deconcentrated/non-decentralised sectors and departments.

Prof Ahwoi cautioned that without functional IGIs in place at each MMDAs, central government’s budgetary allocations to them could easily be mismanaged.

He said the purpose of the ISCCS is to facilitate unity of effort, achieve common objectives; provide common understanding and development of an effective local platform to work.

On the new Consolidated Local Government Draft Bill, Prof Ahwoi said it would soon be placed before cabinet for endorsement and subsequent submission to Parliament for approval.

He said under the Bill, the District Assemblies Common Fund of 1994, the Local Government Act of 1993, the Local Government Service Act of 2003, the Internal Audit Agency Act of 2003, the Public Procurement Act of 2003 and LI 1964 of 2009 are being considered for a review.

He said Ghana needs a binding decentralisation policy which cannot be altered by any successive governments in the future.

Mr F. N. Andan, the Chairman of the LGS Council, said the development and implementation of an ISCCS would enhance holistic planning and judicious use of resources for efficient and effective service delivery.

Dr Callistus Mahama, the Head of the LGS, said as an effective system for integrated service delivery, the ISCCS takes various forms such as inter institutional engagement, networking and communication, coordination of functions, resource and service sharing, capacity development, definition of reporting relationship, conflict resolution and joint service delivery.

Nana Kwesi Agyekum Dwamena, the Head of Civil Service, said decentralization is all about service delivery and the people of Ghana.

He pledged the Civil Service’s full support for the implementation of the decentralisation programme; further declaring that “we need to collaborate to avoid duplication of functions”.

Source: GNA

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Parliament Approves Withdrawal Of 1% Interest Tax

Parliament on Wednesday February 6, 2016, approved the Income Tax Amendment Bill. The new Act, when signed by the President into law, will remove a recently imposed 1 percent tax on interests earned by investors, and also cut withholding tax from 15 percent to 7.5 percent.

A blistering wave of sustained public anger forced the Mahama-government to rush to Parliament with the bill after a law passed last year, imposed what critics have called killer taxes, sparking fears that investments in Ghana could plummet and also suffocate businesses. 

It is not clear as to when Parliament will communicate it’s decision on the new act to the President for action, but insiders say the “House is likely to act with extreme urgency in notifying the President on the matter” given the “huge public, business and investor interest in the provisions of the new legislation.” 

Stop charging 1% interest tax – GRA

The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) on January 13 2016, directed all financial institutions to stop charging the 1% withholding tax on interest earned by individuals.

However, the move by the GRA generated angered some members of parliament since in their view, the GRA could not carry out such an action without recourse to Parliament.

A member of Parliament’s Finance Committee, Dr. Mark Asibey Yeboah argued this point out  out in an interview with Citi News.

“If Parliament passes a law, the president assents to it, and that is the position of the law. Even the President in his press conference was not able to send a message to Ghanaians that nobody should pay that tax; the Minister of Finance cannot say same. Now the GRA sends a directive to financial institutions to stop collecting the tax. I think it’s a not right, they shouldn’t have done that and as the law stands, they should go ahead and collect the taxes because it is only Parliament that can reverse the decision,” he insisted.
 

Source: citifmonline.com

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Case On Appointment Of Judges, EC Chair Adjourned To March 2

The Supreme Court has adjourned to March 2 2016, the petition brought before it by the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) challenging the appointment of two judges to the nation’s apex court, and two others, also challenging the appointment of a chair for the Electoral Commission.

The case has been adjourned to allow all the parties to file a joint memorandum for the court to make a determination on the cases. 

A Ghanaian citizen, Richard Dela Sky, has also filed a writ at the Supreme Court asking the court to interpret provisions of the 1992 Constitution on the appointment of an Electoral Commission chair. 

Mr. Sky is hopeful that a positive outcome of the case will define a clear path that President John Mahama, and all future Presidents, must navigate in making appointments to the Electoral Commission.

Mr. Danso Acheampong,  has also filed a suit seeking interpretation on some appointments to the EC.

Source: citifmonline.com

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PNC Will Revolutionalise Agriculture – Dr. Edward Mahama

Dr. Edward Nasigrie Mahama, Presidential Candidate of the People’s National Convention (PNC) has said the Party would revolutionalise agriculture and make Ghana an exporter of rice and maize if voted to power in the 2016 elections.

He said Ghana is endowed with arable land and suitable vegetation for the reproduction of all kinds of food crops and that the only thing lacking is a visionary leader to spearhead the forefront of farmers with good policies and programmes to make farming business venture to enhance production. 

Dr. Mahama was providing policies and programmes that the PNC government would implement if voted to power in the 2016 general election during an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Wa. 

The Presidential Candidate gave the assurance that a PNC Government would provide credit support and the needed farm equipment and machinery as well as inputs such as fertilizers and make them available at the appropriate time and at affordable prices to farmers to increase food production.

“I will lead Ghanaian farmers to produce rice and maize to feed the nation and for exporting,” Dr Mahama said and stressed that Ghana will stop the importation of rice during PNC administration.

 Dr. Mahama said agriculture was a force to reckon with, as it has the potential of scaling Ghana out of poverty and unemployment if the necessary attention was given to the sector.

He reminded Ghanaians about the early 70s when the Fumbisi Valleys and Nasia Rice Farms in the northern regions turned the fortunes of farmers to prosperity, and wondered why those valleys were still available but government was unable to make good use of them to benefit farmers.

Dr. Mahama said the three regions in the north alone have the potential of producing rice and maize for export, to earn foreign exchange and appealed to Ghanaians to consider the PNC in the 2016 elections as a stopgap to bring prosperity and progress to the country.

Source: GNA

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US Election 2016: Chris Christie ends bid for Republican nomination

Republican Chris Christie has dropped out of the US presidential race after a disappointing finish in New Hampshire.

The New Jersey governor spent heavily and campaigned the longest in the state but still finished in sixth place.

Mr Christie joins former tech executive Carly Fiorina, who also left the race after struggling in Iowa and New Hampshire.

He was praised for his debate performances and was credited with blunting the momentum of Marco Rubio.

During the campaign, Mr Christie promoted his law-and-order credentials, saying his experience as a federal prosecutor after the 9/11 attacks uniquely prepared him to protect the country against terrorists.

Also as the Republican leader of traditionally Democratic state, Mr Christie said his experience showed he could work with both parties to get things done in Washington.

However, as a candidate his positions on issues such as climate change, immigration and gay rights shifted to the right, putting him in line with his more conservative rivals.

Mr Rubio had surged in the polls after a strong showing in Iowa. But Mr Christie effectively painted the Florida senator as the "boy in the bubble" who was overly cautious and scripted.

However, Mr Christie's moderate rivals - Ohio Governor John Kasich and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush - seemed to have reaped the benefits.

"While running for president I tried to reinforce what I have always believed - that speaking your mind matters, that experience matters, that competence matters and that it will always matter in leading our nation," Mr Christie said in a statement on Wednesday, making an indirect reference to front-runner Donald Trump.

A former prosecutor, Mr Christie is known for his blunt and aggressive speaking style. His campaign slogan was: "Telling it like it is."

However, he was quickly eclipsed by Mr Trump, who drew headlines and massive crowds with his brash persona and controversial statements about immigrants and trade.

In 2012, Republican leaders had urged Mr Christie, who was then a rising star in the party, to run for president, but he rebuffed their appeals, saying he wasn't ready yet.

Yet by 2015, when Mr Christie launched his presidential campaign, his stock had fallen. His popularity faltered after his staff was accused of intentionally creating a traffic jam to punish a political enemy.

His approval ratings in New Jersey also suffered as some residents said Mr Christie was more concerned about his presidential ambitions than his current job.

After flooding hit coastal towns in New Jersey in January, Mr Christie had to apologise after he sarcastically dismissed calls for him to do more to help.

"I don't know what you want me to do, you want me to go down there with a mop?" he told a man who questioned why he was in New Hampshire and not New Jersey.

Ms Fiorina decided to end her campaign on Wednesday after months struggling to regain traction.

"While I suspend my candidacy today, I will continue to travel this country and fight for those Americans who refuse to settle for the way things are and a status quo that no longer works for them," she said in a statement.

The former chief executive of Hewlett Packard had shot to the top of the Republican field after a series of strong debate performances.

Her campaign sought to capitalise on Republican voters' apparent appetite for candidates outside the political establishment, but her poll numbers quickly faded and she was never able to recover.

Mr Christie and Mrs Fiorina's departures leave seven Republicans remaining in the race for president.

More than dozen candidates had entered the race over the summer, but the field has narrowed after voters cast the first ballots in Iowa and New Hampshire.

20 February - South Carolina primary (Republican); Nevada caucus (Democrat)

23 February - Nevada caucus (R)

27 February - South Carolina primary (D)

1 March - 'Super Tuesday' - 15 states or territories decide

18-21 July - Republican convention, nominee picked

25-28 July - Democratic convention, nominee picked

8 November - US presidential elections

In depth: Primary calendar

Source: bbc.com

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Burundi crisis: US concerned over 'Rwanda's destabilising activities'

The US has raised concerns with Rwandan officials over reports suggesting it is involved in "destabilising activities" in neighbouring Burundi, officials have said.

Rwanda is reported to have armed and trained refugees to fight on behalf of the Burundian opposition.

The Rwandan government has denied the allegations.

Burundi has been hit by civil conflict since President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to stand for a third term.

Has African Union let down Burundi?

Burundi on the brink

Tit-for-tat killings spread fear

In a hearing in the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, two top diplomats cited reports from colleagues in the field that they said pointed to Rwandan involvement in the Burundi crisis.

Thomas Perriello, US envoy for the Great Lakes region of Africa, said the reports suggested that Burundian refugees, including children, were being recruited from camps in Rwanda to participate in armed attacks against the Burundian government.

Turmoil erupted in Burundi after Mr Nkurunziza announced plans last April to run for a third term, which he went on to win.

More than 400 people have died in the violence and at least 240,000 have fled the country.

map

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US assistant secretary of African affairs, said that US officials had encouraged Rwandan authorities "to play a productive role and not to do anything that might further destabilise Burundi".

The governments of Rwanda and Burundi are from rival ethnic groups and there is growing international concern that another ethnic conflict could take root in the region.

Last week, a UN panel reported that Burundian refugees had been recruited at a refugee camp in eastern Rwanda in May and June 2015, and given two months of military training.


Burundi's deepening crisis:

  • April 2015: Protests erupt after President Pierre Nkurunziza announces he will seek a third term in office.
  • May 2015: Constitutional court rules in favour of Mr Nkurunziza, amid reports of judges being intimidated. Tens of thousands flee violence amid protests.
  • May 2015: Army officers launch a coup attempt, which fails.
  • July 2015: Elections are held, with Mr Nkurunziza re-elected. The polls are disputed, with opposition leader Agathon Rwasa describing them as "a joke"
  • November 2015: Burundi government gives those opposing President Nkurunziza's third term five days to surrender their weapons ahead of a promised crackdown.
  • November 2015: UN warns it is less equipped to deal with violence in Burundi than it was for the Rwandan genocide.
  • December 2015: 87 people killed on one day as soldiers respond to an attack on military sites in Bujumbura.
  • January 2016: Amnesty International publishes satellite images it says are believed to be mass graves close to where December's killings took place

Burundi's football-playing president

Find out more about Burundi

Source: bbc.com

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Syria conflict: Pressure grows on Russia over civilian bomb deaths

Pressure is increasing on Russia over civilian deaths in Syria, with France and the US urging greater caution.

French PM Manuel Valls and US Secretary of State John Kerry said civilians were dying in Russian air strikes.

Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev said there was "no evidence of our bombing civilians, even though everyone is accusing us of this".

One observers' group says at least 1,015 civilians have been killed in Russian air strikes.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said late last month that close to a quarter of those killed were under the age of 18.

How Putin is succeeding in Syria

Displaced Syrians struggle to survive

Syria: The story of the conflict

Russia, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has consistently denied hitting civilian targets and insists it is battling terrorists.

Mr Valls said his government "respects Russia and Russia's interests" but "that to re-discover the path to peace, to discussion, the Russian bombing of civilians has to stop".

Mr Kerry again accused Russia of using so-called 'dumb bombs' in Syria that do not hit precise targets. Last week, he said women and children were being killed "in large numbers" by Russian raids.

Mr Medvedev said Russia was "not trying to achieve some secret goals in Syria", adding that "we are trying to protect our national interests".

Their comments were made at a security conference in Munich, days after world powers agreed a deal to push for a cessation of hostilities in Syria within a week.

Map

Agreement to try to bring about a cessation of hostilities and allow more access for humanitarian aid was reached by world powers late on Thursday in Germany, but neither the Syrian government nor the rebels were involved.

Under the plan, efforts will be made to try to make urgent aid deliveries to besieged and hard-to-reach areas in Syria. Steps will also be taken to work towards an eventual ceasefire and implementation of a UN-backed plan for political transition in Syria.

The halt will not apply to the battle against jihadist groups Islamic State (IS) and al-Nusra Front.

Assad 'deluded'

However, the metaphorical ink was barely dry on the deal before the obstacles to a Syrian ceasefire popped up, one after another, the BBC's security correspondent Frank Gardner reports.

From watching the various speeches at the Munich conference, it is clear that when it comes to ending the Syrian conflict the Russian and Western positions appear to be as far apart as ever, our correspondent reports.

Rebel groups in Syria have told the BBC they would not stop fighting because they do not believe that Russia will end its bombing campaign in support of the government.

They also reiterated their demand that President Assad be removed from power. On Friday, the president said he wanted to retake "the whole country" from rebels.

But US state department spokesman Mark Toner said Mr Assad was "deluded" if he thought there was a military solution to the conflict.

Syrian government forces, backed by Russian air strikes, have almost encircled rebels in parts of the northern city of Aleppo.

More than 250,000 people have been killed and some 11 million displaced in almost five years of fighting in Syria.

On Saturday, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Saudi Arabia would send war planes to the Turkish air base of Incirlik, from where they would attack militants in Syria from the so-called Islamic State.

Saudi Arabia is already part of the international coalition against IS.

Mr Cavusoglu also said it was possible that troops from his country and Saudi Arabia might participate in a ground operation against IS forces. The US has so far ruled out a ground invasion.

Moscow has warned against any new foreign ground intervention in the country, saying such a development could even lead to a world war.


Syria conflict - key questions

smoke rises after shelling by the Syrian army in Jobar, Damascus

Why is there a war in Syria?

Anti-government protests developed into a civil war that, five years on, has ground to a stalemate, with the Assad government, Islamic State, an array of Syrian rebels and Kurdish fighters all holding territory.

Who is fighting whom?

Government forces concentrated in Damascus and the centre and west of Syria are fighting the jihadists of Islamic State and al-Nusra Front, as well as less numerous so-called "moderate" rebel groups, who are strongest in the north and east. These groups are also battling each other.

How has the world reacted?

Iran, Russia and Lebanon's Hezbollah movement are propping up the Alawite-led Assad government, while Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar back the Sunni-dominated opposition, along with the US, UK and France. Hezbollah and Iran are believed to have troops and officers on the ground, while a Western-led coalition and Russia are carrying out air strikes.

Source: bbc.com

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Al-Shabab 'carried out' Somalia plane attack

Somalia's Islamist militant group al-Shabab says it carried out a bomb attack on a plane that blew a huge hole in its fuselage earlier this month.

In an emailed statement, al-Shabab said the attack was revenge for Western intelligence operations in Somalia.

The Daallo Airlines Airbus 321 with 74 passengers on board made an emergency landing in the capital Mogadishu after the explosion shortly after take-off.

One person, said to be the bomber, was reportedly blown out of the plane.

The explosion happened about 15 minutes into the flight, when the plane was only at around 11,000ft (3,350m) and the cabin was not yet pressurised.

Most of the passengers had originally been booked on a Turkish Airlines flight but the flight was cancelled due to bad weather a few hours before take-off, Turkish Airlines said.

In its statement, al-Shabab said it had targeted Turkish Airlines because it said the Nato state was supporting Western operations in Somalia.

But the group admitted it had failed in its aim of bringing down the flight.

Somali authorities have released a video showing a passenger being given a laptop that they believe contained the bomb.

In the video, a man in an orange hi-visibility vest is shown walking with a man in a blue shirt holding what looks like a laptop. Another man in a hat approaches them and it is alleged that the laptop is handed over.

More than 20 people have been arrested in connection with the incident, the Somali government said.

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Nigeria to probe generals over arms fraud

Twelve senior Nigerian army officers have been handed over to the anti-corruption agency for their alleged involvement in an arms scandal.

The army did not name them, but said they included six serving generals.

If the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) finds enough evidence against them, they would be tried in a military court, the army said.

A presidential inquiry last year found that fake contracts worth $2bn (£1.3bn) were awarded by last administration.

It alleged that the money, which was meant to buy arms to fight the Islamist Boko Haram group, has gone missing.

The former national security adviser, Sambo Dasuki, was charged in December in connection with the case involving $68m that is alleged to be missing. He was accused of awarding phantom contracts to buy helicopters, fighter jets and ammunition, which he denied.

Army spokesman Colonel Sani Usman said the 12 officers referred to the EFCC included three serving major generals, one retired major general, three brigadier generals, four colonels and a lieutenant colonel.

The army's announcement follows President Muhammadu Buhari's order last month to investigate 20 former military chiefs and officers over the alleged arms procurement fraud.

Suspects released

Several close associates of former President Goodluck Jonathan are also facing trial in connection with the scandal.

During the fight against Boko Haram, many soldiers reported that they did not have enough equipment to take on the insurgents.

Mr Buhari, who came to power last May, was largely elected on a promise to tackle corruption.

Three young men, who were discovered while entering Bama town, sit blindfolded in the back of a pick-up truck before being taken for interrogation by the Nigerian army on March 25, 2015.

The military denies allegations that it is maltreating detainees

Meanwhile the army has released 275 people arrested on suspicion of being members of Boko Haram in the north-eastern Borno state after they were found to have no links with the Islamist group.

They included 142 men, 49 women, 22 boys and 50 girls, a spokesman for the state governor, Usman Kumo, told the BBC Hausa service.

It is not clear how long they were in detention.

Last year, Amnesty International accused the military of maltreating detainees and said since 2011 more than 8,000 people had died in custody during the fight against Boko Haram.

Earlier this month, the UK-based campaign group criticised the reinstatement of an army general it accuses of committing war crimes.

The military said the allegations were being investigated.

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