AMERI deal: Gov’t swindling Ghanaians – Bawumia

The vice presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has waded into the controversial AMERI power deal accusing government of swindling Ghanaians.

Addressing old students of Prempeh College in Kumasi in the Ashanti region, Dr. Bawumia said government is still hiding relevant facts about the deal.

According to him, the Mahama-led administration is ripping off the state with the deal.

“The issue of the AMERI power deal is the latest episode of issues bothering on corruption and failure to ensure value for money for the people of Ghana.

“This contract does not make sense,” Dr. Bawumia said Friday.

The contract between the Power ministry and AMERI has become a matter of public concern following media reports of inflation and malfeasance regarding the contract sum.

According to the contract, there is a variable cost of $16.6m every year, which translates into additional $83m for the five-year period.

This makes the total cost of the project $593m.

In addition to the cost, the Government of Ghana is to provide free utilities, free housing, site for storage, prepare site for the installation of the plant, as well as interconnect facilities to connect the plant to the national grid.

Source: starrfmonline.com

I don't mind being NPP's lawyer - Tsatsu Tsikata

The former Chief Executive of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) Tsatsu Tsikata has stated that he has no problem being the lawyer of the New Patriotic Party if their case had merit.

The renowned legal practitioner who represented the governing National Democratic Congress in the landmark election petition case in 2013 said he will represent the opposition party in principle but doubts he will ever be asked by the NPP to lead them on any case in court.

"I don’t think I'll ever be asked…I can tell you, if the basis on which the representation, from a legal point of view, was meritorious, I will have no problem, in principle, representing the NPP; I think I can say that," Mr. Tsikata told Citi FM.

He added: “You know in my career, both as a lawyer and a law lecturer, and, indeed, in my experience of corporate life, I think I surprise some people.

"For instance, when I was at GNPC, some people were hired in GNPC, who were known to be NPP people. And I was involved in hiring them on account of their technical capabilities. What they were doing politically had nothing to do with what they were supposed to do in the organisation.

"And so when I was sometimes asked: 'didn’t you know so and so [were NPP people?]' I would say: 'It's neither here nor there.' And equally as I mentioned earlier, I have friends and people that I have a lot of respect for – you mentioned J. H. Mensah and so on – I mean who are in NPP but …they were people that I considered I could look up to, so in that sense, I don’t have any problem in principle.

"But when I said also that I'm not likely to be asked, let's face it, that’s the reality. Within our context as a nation, the level of polarisation, and the representation of people like me, is such that it would be regarded as anathema even to be approached".


Source: starrfmonline.com



 

 

Sisqo, Dru Hill in Ghana for Back in the Day Concert

The headline artistes for the 2015 Back in the Day Concert – Sisqo and Dru Hill – have arrived in Ghana.

The musicians landed in the West African country Thursday evening.

The much awaited event comes off at the Accra International Conference Centre on December 19, 2015.

It is not going to be an all American affair Saturday night.

Ghanaian artistes such as Obour, Akatakyie, Dasebre Dwamena, Nana Quame, Scizo, Azaase Aban and many others are on the bill to thrill the fans of old songs.

A ticket goes for Gh100 for VIP and Gh80 for standard. Sales outlets include Starr FM, Live FM and Tonaton.com, Empire Entertainment. Call 0501509132 for ticket delivery.

Source: starrfmonline.com

What's The Sense In Rebranding Buses? - Kwesi Pratt Quizzes

Managing Editor of the Insight newspaper, Kwesi Pratt Jnr., has questioned the wisdom in rebranding 116 buses, purporting that it was a "needless" and "senseless" act by the current administration.

To him, there are other pressing needs of Ghanaians that begs the attention of Government which the money could have been used for catered for in order to benefit Ghanainas directly.

Earlier this week, news went viral that an amount of GHC3, 649, 004 Ghana oil funds have been spent on re-branding Metro Mass Rapid Transit buses.

The buses, re-branded with pictures of the three former Presidents and the current President, John Mahama, is for intra-city purposes.

Per documents sent to Parliament detailing some government expenditure, it costs almost GH₵31,000 to brand each of the 116 buses.

Interestingly, a Cabinet Minister is reported to have justified the GH₵3.6million spent on re-branding the 116 public buses saying artistic work is generally expensive.

Coming at a time when a power deal between government and the African and Middle East Resources Investemnt (AMERI Group) is under public scrutiny for suspected corruption and overbloated expenditure, this issue of branding intra-city buses has generated quite a huge public furore. 

Many, especially the Minority New Patriotic Party (NPP) in Parliament and civil society have accused government of wanton dissipating of state funds.

Speaking to sit-in host Nana Yaw Kesse of Peace FM's Kokrokoo, Kwesi Pratt noted that whiles it might be "reasonable" for government to make buses appear colourful, it is however needless to rebrand already sprayed buses when the money could be used to enhance development in the country.

He said the money could have been used to construct boreholes in deprived areas than "putting the images of heads of former Presidents" on the buses.

In his earnest view, it was an unwise decision to spend scarce state resources in such manner.



Which is important? For us to construct boreholes or rebrand a bus with images of former Heads of State?…What’s the sense in this rebranding? If I have my own money worth 3.6 million, I won’t use it to rebrand a bus which is already painted. I won’t use 3.6 million to rebrand that bus.

He therefore advised the government to set her priorities right.

Source: peacefmonline.com

I’ve Achieved Purpose Of Preventing My Removal – Afoko

The suspended National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Paul Afoko has said he is fulfilled going to court to stop the party from discussing his removal at tomorrow’s delegates conference.

An Accra High Court Friday threw out an application by suspended Chairman of the New Patriotic Party seeking to stop the party from holding tomorrow’s Special Delegates Conference.

Afoko had run to court and filed an ex-parte motion seeking to restrain the party from taking a decision on his outright removal from office.

But NPP lawyers including Godfred Dame, Prof Mike Ocquaye, Nana Obiri Boahene and Dr Adusei Poku rushed to the court to defend the party.

The court dismissed the case brought against the party because it said the embattled suspended chairman failed to establish whether the conference will have irreparable damage on him.

However,  a statement released on behalf of Afoko by his spokesperson Nana Yaw Osei said: “By this development, and for the avoidance of any doubt, Mr. Afoko’s application has achieved its intended purpose of preventing the discussion of any issues in respect of his position as the elected national chairman of the NPP.”

He insisted the focus of the court action has never been to “seek an injunction to prevent the Conference in Sunyani from taking place as it is being speculated in sections of the media.”

Below is the full statement from his spokesperson

The office of the elected National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr. Paul. A. Afoko, has been drawn to some information doing the rounds in the media to the effect that an interim injunction that was being sought by him has been dismissed.

We wish to state the facts as follows:-

1) That, Mr. Afoko did not seek an injunction to prevent the Conference in Sunyani from taking place as it is being speculated in sections of the media.

What Mr. Afoko sought to do, was to prevent the impending Sunyani conference from discussing anything in connection with the position of the national chairman.

2. That even though the application was made ex-parte, the Honourable Court allowed the other side (NPP) to also state its reasons why the application was not to be granted.

3) That after listening to Counsel for Mr. Afoko on why the application should be granted, lawyers for the NPP stated that the agenda for the Sunyani Conference did not include any discussion on the national chairman and/or his position as the national chairman.

4) That by this development in court, the party has given the assurance that it will not discuss any issues on the so-called suspension/removal of Mr. Afoko at the Sunyani Conference.

5) That, by this development, and for the avoidance of any doubt, Mr. Afoko’s application has achieved its intended purpose of preventing the discussion of any issues in respect of his position as the elected national chairman of the NPP.

Thank you.

Nana Yaw Osei,
Spokesperson, National Chairman, NPP.

Source: peacefmonline.com

Akufo-Addo Can Never Be President – Asoma Banda (WATCH VIDEO)

Businessman and a former member of the Council of State, Alhaji Asoma Banda, has said leader of the main opposition NPP, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo can never be president of Ghana.

In a yet-to-be-televised interview on local television station TV3, Banda seeks to justify his battering of Akufo-Addo, saying: “The truth is he [Nana Akufo-Addo] can never be president… You see, to be a President, Kwasi, you must have certain structure, intelligence.”

Watch the video below;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxX-TkJ4hYg&feature=youtu.be

Source: peacefmonline.com

Ghana Would Be Doomed If NDC Wins 2016 Elections - Kojo Oppong Nkrumah

New Patriotic Party (NPP) Parliamentary candidate for Afoase-Ayirebi constituency in the Eastern Region, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah says Ghana is doomed to fail in the next four years if the National Democratic Congress (NDC) retains political power.

His observation, he said on Asempa FM Friday is borne out of the gross misappropriation of the nation’s resources by the government.

An example of such misappropriation, he said, was the use of GHc3.6m for the branding of 116 Metro Mass Rapid Transit (MMRT) buses with the pictures of former Presidents and the sitting President.

The said amount, he said could have been used for the development of various deprived communities in the countries including Akim Techiman in his constituency which lacks Health Planning and Services (CHPS) compounds.

According to a document sent to Parliament detailing some government expenditure, it cost GH₵31,000 to brand each of the 116 buses. And that included a budget which stated that the company that placed stickers on the buses charged GHc2000 as labour cost for a bus; an allegation which has been denied by the Manager of Crystal Concept, Kwaku Mansah Abeiku.

Many especially the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) have accused government of milking the state coffers ahead of the 2016 elections. But government has justified spending GH₵3.6million on re-branding 116 public buses with pictures of the president, explaining that artistic work is generally expensive.

This justification, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah said was unnecessary claiming that the government has over the years been developing a pattern where state officials deliberately give contracts which make no meaning to party cronies at huge prices.

Other corruption sagas, including SADA, GYEEDA, SUBAH, Woyome scandal and several others further tell of how Ghana would be heading for a crush if the NDC is not changed.

Mr. Oppong Nkrumah further entreated all Ghanaians to be ambassadors of change and campaign for the Mahama government to be voted out of power.

Source: adomonline.com

Ghana sports: Grant is third highest paid coach in Africa

Black Stars coach Avram Grant is the third highest paid coach in Africa according to a research revealed by Gazzettaghana.
 
The Israeli trainer who earns a staggering $50, 000 a month comes behind Algeria coach Christian Gourcuff and Ivorian trainer Michel Dussuyer who earns $70,000 and $58,000 respectively.

Moroccan National team coach Ezzaki Badou and South Africa’s Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba also with a net salary of $40,000 and $36,650 respectively completes the top five earning coaches in Africa.

The list also had the likes of Egypt National Team Coach Hector Cuper ($30,000), Alain Giresse of Mali ($27, 863), Nigeria’s Sunday Oliseh ($26,500), Jorge Costa of Gabon ($25,000) and Tunisian National team coach Henry Kasperczak ($24,000).

Grant who was appointed as Black Stars coach in November 2014 has been tasked by the Ghana Football Association to win the 2017 Cup of Nations and qualify the team to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The former Chelsea boss led the Black Stars to win silver at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea after losing on penalties to Cote d’ Ivoire in the finals.

The former West Ham manager who was recently linked with a move to Swansea City guided the Black Stars to progress to the Group stages of the World Cup qualifiers after eliminating Comoros 2-0 on aggregate.

Source: ghanasportsonline.com

TRIBUTE: A Legend Goes Home

It is with consternation and great sadness that the Ghana Football Association learnt of the passing of the legendary Ghanaian coach and footballer Nana Charles Kumi Gyamfi.

The loss of Nana is of great sadness for all football fans, considering how his personal and professional career touched the lives of many people not only in Ghana but across the continent and beyond.

C.K. Gyamfi was the first African footballer to play in Germany, when he joined Fortuna Dusseldorf in 1960. He also played for both Accra Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko.

As a coach, he successfully coached the Black Stars to three African Cup of Nations titles (1963, 1965 & 1982) which makes him one of the most successful African coaches.

The GFA is immensely hurt by the loss of such a talented footballer, coach and an administrator who shaped the lives and careers of many Ghanaian footballers and coaches.

He was responsible for bringing finesse to Ghana football with his unique coaching methods; one of the most important landmarks in the history of the game in the country. We always held him in great esteem and admired his extraordinary character. 

He worked tenaciously for Ghana football and even in his old age, he did not shy away from offering his wisdom for the development of the game in the country. 

What we will remember most of all, will be his great sense of commitment, his courage and his desire to safeguard Ghana football and its values for future generations as well as his golden words of wisdom.

The GFA wishes to extend its deepest sympathy to the family of Nana Gyamfi and most importantly to his wife, children and friends. Our thoughts will always be with you.

Source: Ghanafa.org

NBA suspends Rockets' Lawson for two games

NEW YORK — Houston Rockets' guard Ty Lawson has been suspended for two games without pay for driving while ability impaired, in violation of the law of the State of Colorado, the NBA announced today.

Lawson's suspension will begin with tomorrow night's game between the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Clippers.

Source: nba.com

LeBron plows into first row; wife of golfer Jason Day suffers concussion-like symptoms

CLEVELAND (AP) — The wife of PGA champion Jason Day is suffering from concussion symptoms after NBA star LeBron James crashed into her during a Cavaliers game.

Day's agent, Bud Martin, issued a statement Friday morning saying Ellie Day "is resting comfortably and appreciates all of those who have reached out and are concerned about her." He added she has "no hard feelings" toward James and quotes her as saying, "He was just doing his job. Go Cavs."

Ellie Day was carried from Quicken Loans Arena on a backboard, placed on a stretcher with her head immobilized and taken to MetroHealth Medical Center on Thursday night. She was released early Friday morning.

James was scrambling for a loose ball in the fourth quarter of a 104-100 win over Oklahoma City when the 6-foot-8, 250-pound All-Star launched himself into the air, plowing into Day as she sat next to her husband.

"First of all, I am OK!!" Ellie Day tweeted Friday. "I am incredibly sore and exhausted. Being tackled by that large man would compare to a minor car accident. My head and neck hit pretty hard so it was really scary. My whole body feels like it was hit by a truck.

"Second, it was so fast. I didn't remember until 2 a.m. seeing the ball come toward me. It was a blur. To the crazies that think Jason should have protected me - if he had had time to react, so would have I. Also, I would not have liked both dudes landing on me. LeBron is huge and had such momentum he could not have stopped!!

In the statement, she thanked her doctors, emergency medical staff and the entire Cleveland Cavaliers organization for their help.

James said he spoke with Ellie Day while she was being helped by medical personnel during a stoppage in play.

"I squeezed her hand and she said she was OK," he said. "She was just a little weary."

Before he was given more information on her, James, who scored 33 points and flirted with a triple-double, was noticeably shaken when he left the floor following the Cavs' win.

"For me, obviously, her health is very important and hopefully she is doing well," James said. "The guys told me she's doing great now. For me, just going for a loose ball, tried to keep the possession going, I just hate that that was the end result."

James said if she had been pregnant, he would have jumped over the first row of seats.

A little while later, James tweeted: "Ellie Day I hope you're doing okay! My apologies! Hope u guys come back to another game soon. Love LJ!"

On Nov. 11, Ellie Day gave birth to the couple's second child, a girl named Lucy.

Jason Day, who lives in a Columbus suburb, accompanied his wife as she was carried from the floor. The couple has attended Cleveland games in the past, and she was pregnant with their second child when they went to an exhibition game earlier this year in Columbus. That night, Cavs guard J.R. Smith bought cotton candy for the Days' son, Dash, while he sat on the bench.

Jason Day is the No. 2-ranked golfer in the world. He won the PGA Championship this year for his first major win on the PGA Tour.

Shortly before his wife was injured, Jason Day took part in a promotion during a timeout. As fans cheered, the Australian chipped foam basketballs into the crowd.

Cavs coach David Blatt said he was unaware of the severity of the collision. He has long been nervous about the safety of fans sitting so close to the action.

"Honestly, the only thing I saw was LeBron diving for the ball to save the ball," Blatt said. "I kind of got blocked and just saw a sea of bodies. We all hope that she's OK. It's always concerned me, the sideline seats. Always concerned me, because things like that, when you're talking about players of this speed and physicality and effort level, it's not a simple thing.

"The powers that be are the ones that really need to decide how to deal with that. He made an honest attempt at the basketball, that's all, obviously. We all hope she's OK."

Watch the video below:

http://www.nba.com/video/channels/tnt_overtime/2015/12/18/0021500384-okc-cle-injured-fan.nba

Source: nba.com

What we learned: Rams dash Bucs' playoff hopes

Tavon Austin scored a pair of touchdowns to lead the St. Louis Rams (6-8) to a 31-23 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8) on Thursday night. Here's what you need to know:

1. Austin became the first player since Hall of Famer Gale Sayers in 1965 with five receiving touchdowns, four rushing touchdowns and a return touchdown in the same season. This has been a rare case of the offseason hype paying off, as Austin is enjoying a true breakout campaign as a consistent playmaker. He specializes in using his extraordinary speed and quickness to slip through the smallest creases in a defense.

2. The much-hyped Offensive Rookie of the Year battle between Jameis Winston and Todd Gurley was a bit of letdown. Against a penetrating Rams defensive front, Winston was off the mark prior to an impressive four-play, 98-yard touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter. Although he set a rookie franchise record with 363 yards while playing from behind, his interception with five minutes remaining dashed the Bucs' faint comeback hopes.

Gurley powered in for one touchdown, but was stonewalled on three straight goal-line carries after Winston's scoring drive. Unlike like last week's effort, the holes simply weren't there for Gurley to exploit. On a positive note, he joined Hall of Famers Jerome Bettis and Eric Dickerson as the only Rams rookies to reach 1,000 rushing yards.

3. Aaron Donald bolstered his case for Defensive Player of the Year, throwing six-time Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins around and dominating the line of scrimmage. His combination of strength, leverage and off-the-snap explosiveness is unparalleled among defensive tackles.

3. Case Keenum played the best game of any Rams quarterback this season, generating a career-high 158.0 passer rating on 17 efficient attempts against an injury-riddled Bucs defense. He made beautiful throws on a 60-yard touchdown to Kenny Britt and a 25-yard gain to Jared Cook down the sideline. Through two games, Rob Boras appears to be a play-calling and scheming upgrade on recently deposed offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti.

4. No running back has been harder to tackle than the hard-charging Doug Martin, who bypassed Adrian Peterson for the NFL lead with 1,305 rushing yards. He and change-of-pace option Charles Sims have been the league's most effective complementary backfield tandem this season. Martin should be one of the two choices at running back for the All-Pro team.

5. Mike Evans is fighting himself at the catch point when he's wide open. He dropped one pass to tie Amari Cooper for the NFL lead and bobbled another. At this point, it seems to be more of a mental issue than a physical one.

6. At 6-8, the Buccaneers will be eliminated from playoff contention if the Seahawks and Vikings win this weekend. As promising as the future is with Winston and Evans leading the show, Tampa Bay has played just one team with a winning record.

 

Source: nfl.com

Four students arrested over occultism. Is it a crime?

Four students of the Koforidua Technical Institute (KOTEC) in the Eastern region have been arrested by a vigilante group in Boti for practicing occultism.

Starr News sources indicates that the students, four in number were caught chanting in a nearby bush at night.

The vigilante group who were suspicious of their activities rounded them up and handed them over to the Police.

One of the students, however, managed to escape.

During interrogation by the Nkurakan Police, the students admitted the offence but explained that the rituals were meant to cast spells on some beautiful female students in the school to be their sexual partners.

Koforidua Technical Institute, formerly known as Koforidua Technical School is one of top Technical Institutions in the Eastern region which trains the youth to the industrial job market however, the school in recent times has been noted for notoriety and vandalism.

Source: starrfmonline.com

Norwich earn win at Man U

Manchester United were booed off the pitch as Norwich earned a shock victory at Old Trafford, increasing the pressure on manager Louis van Gaal.

Despite all of United's possession, it was Norwich who look the lead in the first half through Cameron Jerome.

It got worse for the home side in the second half as Jerome broke clear to feed Alex Tettey, who poked in.

Anthony Martial pulled a goal back, but United's winless run is now six games while Norwich are out of the drop zone.

Juan Mata saw a free-kick from the edge of the area pushed away by Declan Rudd as the hosts went in search of the equaliser in the second half.

Centre-back Chris Smalling could have earned a point late on, but headed narrowly wide as United dropped to fifth in the Premier League table.

Van Gaal out, Mourinho in?

Many fans left the stadium early, but some stayed in their seats at the end of the match with a look of disbelief on their faces. The atmosphere was almost mutinous, with a loud show of resentment at both half-time and at the final whistle.

Average positions

Manchester United (left graphic) pushed men forward and left only Chris Smalling (12) and Phil Jones (4) in their own half. On the other hand, Norwich sat deep, with centre-backs Sebastien Bassong (6) and Ryan Bennett (24) almost playing from the edge of their own area

On a day when former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho said he is looking to get back to management straight away, the weight of expectation was significantly ramped up on Dutchman van Gaal, whose job is now under increased scrutiny.

The manager decided to maintain his passive style for the match - staying in his seat as assistant Ryan Giggs barked out instructions from the touchline - but could not inspire his side to even a point.

This season's theme of a lack of goals but plenty of possession continued in this game for United, despite Frenchman Martial's first goal in nine Premier League games. It was only one of two shots on target they had. The Red Devils ended the game with a landslide 70% possession.

Christmas just got a whole lot tougher

Out of the top-four spots, United suffered their first home defeat of the season and their third defeat in a row. The last time they went six without victory in all competitions was in 1998 - the season they went on to win the treble. That won't happen this time, having been knocked out of the Champions League.

They now face a testing festive period which sees three games in the space of eight days, starting on Boxing Day at Stoke.

Will van Gaal be given the opportunity to turn the club's form around after back-to-back losses to promoted sides?

Source: bbc.com

Chelsea win after the departure of "The Speical one"

Chelsea may have started the post-Jose Mourinho era with a comfortable victory against Sunderland - but the shadow of the former manager hung heavily over Stamford Bridge.

The Blues' fans delivered almost unanimous backing for Mourinho, with banners all around Stamford Bridge declaring support, while Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas were jeered before and during the game by supporters who clearly believe they have been central to the sacked manager's downfall.

Branislav Ivanovic's towering fifth-minute header put Chelsea on the way and victory was effectively confirmed against the struggling Black Cats when Pedro pounced on a loose ball before half-time.

Guus Hiddink, confirmed as Chelsea boss until the end of the season hours before the game, watched from the stands alongside former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba and club owner Roman Abramovich as Oscar added a third from the spot after Costel Pantilimon fouled Willian.

Fabio Borini pulled one back for Sunderland when he bundled in from close range, but this day was so much about Mourinho.

Mourinho wins backing from The Bridge

It was clear before kick-off that Chelsea's fans were pointing the finger of blame firmly in the direction of under-performing players for Mourinho's dismissal on Thursday.

Banners were unfurled emblazoned with the words "You Let Jose Down. You Let Us Down" and "The Three Rats - Hazard, Cesc and Costa".

Chelsea's players were also on the receiving end of x-rated chants collectively when each goal Chelsea scored was instantly greeted with chants for Mourinho.

The Portuguese may have gone - but he has not been forgotten.

Chelsea revived

Chelsea were on the floor before this game as they stood only one point off the relegation places in 16th position. And while a very poor Sunderland helped them to their feet, there certainly seemed to be a great freedom to the champions' play.

Oscar, cheered by Chelsea's fans, was his usual self but there was a zip about their early play that suggested a pressure valve had been released by the managerial change.

Chelsea's fans directed a colourful chant in the players' direction asking where they, and the performance they had produced against Sunderland, had been this season.

Source: bbc.com

Leicester City top at Xmas

Leicester City ensured they will be top of the Premier League at Christmas by beating Everton at Goodison Park.

Riyad Mahrez scored the first of two penalties after Ramiro Funes Mori held back Shinji Okazaki.

Romelu Lukaku levelled, but Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard tripped Jamie Vardy to allow Mahrez to again convert from the spot.

Okazaki fired in a third for the Foxes, who held on despite Kevin Mirallas' late strike.

Relive Leicester's win over Everton

Listen to Leicester fan sobbing on BBC Radio 5 live

Leicester, predicted to be relegation candidates by many commentators before the start of the season, are now the only team in Premier League history to be bottom on Christmas Day one year and top the following Christmas.

Claudio Ranieri's side will go into their game at Liverpool on 26 December as leaders, regardless of the result of Monday's match between second-placed Arsenal and third-placed Manchester City.

No sign of Foxes bubble bursting

Discussion around Leicester's remarkable season has centred on how long they can continue to upset the odds and remain in the title picture.

Once again they provided an energetic, controlled performance that will leave the doubters waiting at least one more week for any signs of a collapse.

Vardy touches

Jamie Vardy's touches in the opposition area were few and far between, but he made the most of his small number of opportunities

There was a worry for Leicester late on as Vardy clutched his hamstring while being replaced, and Ranieri will know that the fitness of his England striker is key to his side's burgeoning title hopes.

Vardy, who has 15 league goals this season, has been a sensation, alongside team-mate Marhez, who took his tally to 13 with two well-taken penalties.

The pair were involved in all the Leicester goals, Mahrez releasing Vardy to win the penalty for Leicester's second, and former Fleetwood forward Vardy providing the low cross which Okazaki shot left-footed into the bottom-left corner.

Source: bbc.com

 

Jordan Ayew's superb second-half goal earned Aston Villa a point at Newcastle.

ordan Ayew's superb second-half goal earned Premier League bottom club Aston Villa a point at Newcastle.

Ayew drove into the top corner from inside the area to cancel out Fabricio Coloccini's close-range opener.

Both sides had chances to win in the closing stages, with Newcastle striker Georginio Wijnaldum and Villa's Rudy Gestede having shots saved.

Villa, without a Premier League win since the opening game of the season, remain 10 points from safety.

Relive Newcastle's game with Aston Villa

Results and reaction from Saturday's Premier League football

Newcastle revival?

Until recently, Newcastle boss Steve McCLaren had looked in danger of losing his job after failing oversee a win any of his first eight Premier League games.

However, back-to-back victories against Liverpool and Tottenham lifted Newcastle out of the relegation zone and three points on Saturday would have moved them five points clear of danger.

Key to Newcastle's upturn in form has been a switch to a more counterattacking style of football, but a sodden pitch, coupled with Aston Villa's defensive approach, meant was ineffective against Aston Villa.

They struggled to break Villa down for long periods, with their opener coming from a defensive lapse in concentration from a corner, as Coloccini was left unmarked.

However, when Villa pushed forward after equalising, it played to Newcastle's strengths and they twice went close to snatching victory on the break, with Wijnaldum's and Ayoze Perez's finishing letting them down.

Newcastle remain one place above the relegation zone, but the draw means they are three points clear of Swansea in 18th.

No Premier League team with as few points as Aston Villa at this stage of the season have stayed up, and they would certainly need an impressive upturn in form to rescue their situation.

Villa have kept just two clean sheets in their 17 league games this season and the ease with which Newcastle scored, with Siem De Jong's corner cutting through the defence, will be of concern for manager Remi Garde.

However, their second half performance will give the Frenchman some hope.

In Ayew, they have a striker who is finding his form in the Premier League. He had gone seven games without scoring at the start of the season but, having been employed in a more central role recently, he has scored four goals in his last eight games.

Source: bbc.com

NPP Is The Only Party That Can Bring Change To Ghana, but we need to close our ranks – Ex Prez Kufour

The country is ready for change but what we have to do is to close the ranks of the party and bring on board everyone who professes to be with us.



 

"The people are saying they want change. The change can only happen through one party and that is the NPP” – Former President Kufour said when addressing NPP members at the party’s 15th National delegates Conference in Sunyani on saturday.

Kufour who will be playing a vital role in Nana Addo’s 2016 campaign called on the leadership of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to close their ranks and end the 'needless and unnecessary' suspicions in the party. According to him – unity can help the party achieve its aim – insisting that the NPP is the only Party to salvage Ghanaians from the shambolic Mahama-led administration.

He noted that the NPP has a 'DNA of good governance' but internal wranglings within the NPP if not solved will make it impossible for the party to clinch power in 2016.

He therefore charged the leadership to work tirelessly to end the ‘needless suspicions’ tearing them apart.

The people want to know how we are going to do it and we must tell them what they want to hear. The NDC has failed them, we (NPP) must not,” he added.

 Source: peacefmonlone.com

Guardiola to leave Bayern Munich at end of the season

Pep Guardiola to leave Bayern Munich at end of the season

Pep Guardiola is to leave Bayern Munich at the end of the season and will be replaced by Carlo Ancelotti.

Guardiola, 44, has been linked with Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.

The former Barcelona coach has won two league titles and the German Cup since joining Bayern in summer 2013.

Former Chelsea manager Ancelotti, 56, has been on a break from the game since being sacked by Real Madrid in May 2015.

"We are thankful to Guardiola for all he gave our club and hope to celebrate more success in the current season," Bayern chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told German newspaper Bild.

"With Ancelotti we have another very successful coach coming to Bayern. We are looking forward to working together."

More to follow.

Source: bbc.com

Manchester United: Louis Van Gaal 'worried' about future

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has said he is "worried" about his job after a shock 2-1 loss to Norwich.

The result handed United a third defeat in a row in all competitions and are now winless in six games.

Cameron Jerome and Alex Tettey netted for the visitors, while Anthony Martial replied for the hosts.

Asked if he feared for his position, van Gaal said: "Yes of course I am worried about that because I know that belief in a manager is very important."

The Dutchman, 64, could not give a definite answer when asked if he will be given time to turn the situation around at Old Trafford.

"Yes I think so but I never know, in this world, you never know. It is not up to me, but we shall see," he added.

'I am - or shall I say was - a successful manager'

Van Gaal is out of contract at the end of the 2016-17 season and there has been speculation that Jose Mourinho will become the next United manager  after being sacked by Chelsea on Thursday.

The Portuguese says he wants an immediate return to management and has been linked with the Old Trafford job, as has Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola who is to clarify his own future on Sunday.

"That's the football world. I know that, my board knows that, my players know that," van Gaal said when asked if the pressure was building on him.

"I don't think a change of management shall bring direct success - but that is what I believe. Maybe that is not so interesting.

"I am always evaluating myself because I think that is an aspect of the philosophy I have. But the philosophy is also making an evolution - I am not the same coach I was 25 years ago.

"So, you are always evaluating and of course that philosophy is very important for me. Because of that I am - or maybe I have to say now, was - a very successful manager."

'It was not good enough'

Defeat meant Manchester United have now gone six games in all competitions without victory for the first time since 1998.

United had 70% possession against Norwich, but could only muster two shots on target as they were booed off by their own supporters.

The Red Devils face a testing festive period, starting on Boxing Day against Stoke at the Britannia Stadium, before they host Chelsea at Old Trafford two days later. They then face managerless Swansea on 2 January.

Van Gaal added: "The main thing is that you have to be professional and do the things that you have to do and work very hard to come out of this bad period.

"It was not good enough. You have to win against Norwich. We know that. Now we prepare for the Stoke game with professionalism and spirit, that is the only message I can give [to you]."

Source: bbc.com

Ighalo scores twice as Watford beat Reds

Watford profited from Liverpool's calamitous opening at Vicarage Road to continue their remarkable rise with a fourth consecutive Premier League win.

Adam Bogdan dropped a corner with the very first touch of his league debut, allowing Nathan Ake to stab the home side ahead after just three minutes.

Odion Ighalo doubled the lead, firing in off the post from a tight angle.

And the Nigerian sealed a deserved victory with his 12th of the season, nodding in from Valon Behrami's cross.

The Hornets, promoted from the Championship last term, move to within a point of the Champions League places.

Defeat for Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool, who are now without a win in their last three league games, leaves them ninth - four points behind Quique Flores' side in seventh.

Re-live Watford's victory over Liverpool

Were Liverpool really that bad?

With regular goalkeeper Simon Mignolet absent from the squad with a hamstring injury, 28-year-old Bogdan - who had previously only played in the League Cup since his summer arrival - was called in.

Just over two minutes into the match, he bounced Ben Watson's corner at his own feet rather than making what looked like an easy catch. Replays suggested he might have had two hands on the ball when Ake pounced, but nonetheless it was a poor error.

Bogdan said: "I had both hands on the ball but we are talking about a split-second. It's not easy for the referee to see. If I catch the first ball, there is no second one.

"Something went wrong, I have to think about it again. It was a mistake and I will learn from it."

Hungarian Bogdan didn't cover himself in glory when punching a through ball into Lucas' face either though, and his nervousness seemed to spread through the Reds defence.

Martin Skrtel, who came off injured before half-time, was arguably too weak when trying to steer Ighalo away from goal for Watford's second and his fellow centre-back Mamadou Sakho was dangerously ponderous in possession.

Sakho, returning after six weeks out, also fell over under no pressure to allow Ighalo in on goal in the second half, with Bogdan making partial amends via a fine reflex save.

Watford more than Deeney and Ighalo combined

Troy Deeney and Ighalo have created more goalscoring chances for one another than any other pairing this season. They were at it again for Watford's second as a simple Deeney ball over the top put Ighalo through with only Skrtel for company.

The 26-year-old brushed off the Liverpool defender's weak challenge and fired in off the post from a tight angle, before adding his second with a simple header to bring his tally for 2015 to 28 goals - the best return in England's professional leagues.

Watford and Liverpool average positions

Liverpool played most of the game without a recognised striker and rarely looked like breaking through Watford's back line. In Deeney (number nine) and Ighalo (24) Watford had by far the greater attacking threat

If Watford were surprised to have gone ahead so early and so comfortably, the rest of their performance showed no sign of it. The Hornets were composed and committed as they outplayed a disappointing Liverpool side.

There was none of the high-intensity, slick interplay that has characterised the best performances of Klopp's time at Anfield so far, and instead it was Watford who claimed a deserved victory.

Man of the match - Odion Ighalo

Odion Ighalo

Ighalo's strength and commitment to attacking runs made him a constant menace to the Liverpool backline

What the managers said

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: "If you watch the TV, you see Bogdan had the ball under control and both hands were on the ball.

"It should not be allowed but first of all he should not drop the ball. That is the mistake of the referee but the biggest mistake was our reaction.

"It was a deserved win for Watford. Not because of our faults, but more because of the reaction to our faults."

Watford manager Quique Flores: "Of course we want to dream but we want to remain humble. This is our one advantage, because the Premier League is very tough.

"We have a lot of matches and we never underestimate the teams we play. We are completely happy with the performance. It was an amazing victory against an amazing team."

The stats you need to know

  • Watford have won four consecutive top-flight games for the first time since April 1987; their joint-longest winning run (also achieved in November 1982, January 1984 and December 1984)
  • With 28 points, they have equalled their tally from their last season in the Premier League (2006-07). It is their joint-highest tally in a Premier League campaign
  • Liverpool conceded as many goals against Watford in this match as they had in their previous four Premier League meetings combined
  • Watford's 3-0 win was the biggest margin of victory they have enjoyed against Liverpool

What next?

Watford play Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester City in their next three fixtures over Christmas and New Year, while Liverpool host leaders Leicester on Boxing Day before away games against Sunderland and West Ham.

Source: bbc.com

Gareth Bale scores four goals as Real Madrid hit 10 past nine-man Rayo Vallecano

Gareth Bale scored four goals as Real Madrid hit nine-man Rayo Vallecano for double figures in a remarkable game.

Real trailed before Tito's red card - Danilo putting the hosts ahead before headers from Antonio Amaya and Jozabed.

Bale levelled with a header before Raul Baena was sent off in conceding a penalty which Cristiano Ronaldo scored.

As the game opened up, Bale added three more, Ronaldo scored a second and Karim Benzema netted a hat-trick - including number 10.

Real boss Rafael Benitez has been under pressure after losing three of their last five La Liga games.

But it remains to be seen if the farcical circumstances of their win over neighbours Rayo will ease much of that, as they were playing poorly before the sendings off.

It was the first time they hit double figures in a La Liga match since 1960, when they beat Elche 11-2.

Real remain two points off leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, who both have a game in hand.

An incredible win but a freak result

Real Madrid's win will never be forgotten by anyone who watched the game - but remarkably Benitez will still be under pressure.

Whistles were ringing out at the Bernabeu from unhappy home fans at 1-1 - moments before Jozabed put Madrid minnows Rayo into the lead. But the game changed when Tito was deservedly sent off for a dangerous studs-up, two-footed tackle on Toni Kroos.

And after Ronaldo made it 3-2 from the spot against nine men in the 30th minute, double figures always felt as a possibility as Real were able to launch attack after attack with limited options in defence for Rayo.

How the goals went in

Real Madrid lead 1-0: Bale plays in Danilo to fire past Yoel

Rayo Vallecano level 1-1: Amaya heads home from a corner

Rayo Vallecano lead 2-1: Moments later Jozabed scores a second header

Read Madrid level 2-2: Bale heads home against 10 men

Real Madrid lead 3-2: Raul Baena holds onto Sergio Ramos' shirt and gets a second booking. Ronaldo scores the penalty

4-2: Bale is given space to run in on goal and slots home his second

5-2: Unmarked Benzema scores early in the second half

6-2: Ronaldo, with no defenders around him, heads home

7-2: Ronaldo crosses to Bale - in plenty of space - for his hat-trick. Benzema was standing behind him ready to pounce

8-2: Bale tries to find Ronaldo but his attempted pass is deflected back to him and he fires home

9-2: Unmarked Benzema converts Luka Modric's pass

10-2: In the final minute, Benzema gets his hat-trick and makes it 10 from 16 yards

Social media reaction

BBC Radio 5 live
Colin Millar
Jonathan Liew tweet

The view from the Bernabeu

Radio Marca's Juan Castro told BBC World Service: "At 11 v 11, Rayo were 2-1 up. Right now Rafa Benitez is not wanted by the Bernabeu. Even after the match people are not happy.

"The sensation of the game and the style, the relationship with the players is not the best. But if they keep on winning he'll remain coach of Real Madrid.

"It's not the right moment for Jose Mourinho to take over. Who knows in the summer? The fans here are 50-50 for and against Mourinho."

Source; bbc.com

Israel minister Silvan Shalom resigns over harassment allegations

Israel's Interior Minister Silvan Shalom has resigned after a series of sexual harassment allegations.

Mr Shalom, who is also stepping down from his position as deputy prime minister, said he was doing so to spare his family any more suffering.

The attorney-general has ordered a probe into claims made against Mr Shalom by several women. Mr Shalom has denied any wrongdoing.

Israel has seen several similar high-profile cases in recent years.

The police anti-fraud chief is under investigation for sexual misconduct and last month another MP in the governing coalition, Yinon Magal, resigned amid sexual harassment allegations.

In 2011 the former President Moshe Katsav began a seven-year jail sentence for rape.

Some media reports suggest that Mr Shalom's replacement in the Israeli parliament could be Amir Ohana, who would become the first openly gay MP from the right-wing Likud party.

Source: bbc.com

Spanish election: PM Rajoy's party loses majority

Spain's governing conservative party has won the most seats in the general election but has lost its majority and will struggle to form a coalition.

With almost all votes counted, the Popular Party (PP) had 122 seats; the Socialists 91 and the anti-austerity Podemos party 69.

The liberal Ciudadanos party was in fourth place with 40 seats.

Podemos and Ciudadanos fielded national candidates for the first time, boosted by discontent among the electorate.

The PP and the Socialists have alternated running the government for more than three decades.

A spokesman for Podemos said the results showed that two-party politics in Spain had ended.

"We are entering a new era in our country," said Inigo Errejon.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's PP needed 176 seats to form a majority. It had 186 seats in the outgoing parliament.

Corruption dominates debate

New faces in politics

New political era

The Popular Party had 28.7% of the vote; the Socialists 22%; Podemos 20.6% and Ciudadanos 13.9%.

Turnout was put at about 72% - up slightly compared to the 2011 election.

Analysts said the PP could find it very difficult to form a government because it can't achieve a majority in parliament in coalition with Ciudadanos, its most natural partner.

The Socialists, on the other hand, could form a pact with Podemos and Ciudadanos.

Spain's economy, corruption allegations and a separatist drive in the prosperous north-eastern region of Catalonia were all dominant issues in the election.

Mr Rajoy's administration adopted tough austerity measures and job reforms that, although unpopular, have been credited with returning the Spanish economy to growth.

However, unemployment remains high at 21%, the second-highest rate in the EU after Greece, although it has fallen from its 2013 peak of 27%.

The PP has also been damaged by corruption scandals.

Election system:

  • Spain's electoral system tends to disproportionately favour larger parties.
  • MPs are elected in 50 multi-member districts using proportional representation. Each district is home to at least two members.
  • Spain's North African enclaves Ceuta and Melilla elect one member each while 248 seats are allocated among the provinces in proportion to their respective populations.

Source: bbc.com

Fake bomb forces Air France flight to make Kenya emergency landing. Are we safe travelling by air?

An Air France passenger jet was forced to make an emergency landing in Kenya after a fake bomb was found in a toilet, the airline says.

The Boeing 777, on its way from Mauritius to Paris, was evacuated at Mombasa airport and the suspicious device taken away for examination.

Air France chief Frederic Gagey later said it was made of a cardboard box, paper and a timer.

He described it as an "extremely aggressive act".

The plane, carrying 459 passengers and 14 crew, had left Mauritius at 01:00 GMT and had been due to fly directly to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.

Several passengers from the flight have been questioned by Kenyan police.

Mr Gagey told a news conference that the airline would press charges against those responsible and an inquiry would be held.

But he denied there had been any problem with security checks in Mauritius, saying the device contained no explosives, so would not have been detected.

He said the device appeared to be made of a cardboard, sheets of paper and some kind of kitchen timer, and had been placed in a cupboard behind a mirror in the toilet.

Mr Gagey said he did not know exactly when it had been placed there, but that the cupboard had been checked before the flight so it was assumed that it was put there during the flight.

He said the object was made of material not usually found on the plane.

Mr Gagey thanked the crew and the Kenyan authorities for the way they had handled the incident.

Earlier, a police official quoted by AP news agency said a passenger had noticed an object in the toilet that looked like "a stopwatch mounted on a box".

Mr Gagey said the crew was alerted, and the pilots decided to land at the nearest airport. Both the aircraft and Moi International Airport in Mombasa were evacuated while the device was removed.

Joseph Nkaissery, cabinet secretary at Kenya's ministry of interior, said authorities from France and Mauritius had been helping with the investigation.

One of those on board the aircraft, Benoit Lucchini, said passengers were calm and were told by the crew that the plane was being diverted because of a technical problem.

"The plane just went down, slowly, slowly, slowly, so we just realised probably, something was wrong," he said.

"But the personnel of Air France were just great, just wonderful. So they keep everybody calm and really quiet."

France is still on high alert following bomb attacks and shootings in Paris.

So-called Islamic State (IS) said it carried out the attacks in response to France's military action in Syria.

Source: bbc.com

Rwanda vote 'allows Kagame to extend term in office'

Rwandans have voted overwhelmingly to allow President Paul Kagame to extend his term in office, initial referendum results show.

Some 98% of voters support changing the constitution to allow him to run again in 2017 after his second term ends, the National Electoral Commission said.

Mr Kagame, 58, could remain in power until 2034 if the changes are passed.

The vote took place despite criticism of such an amendment by the US and other Western donors.

Rwanda's electoral commission said 21 out of 30 districts had published results so far, covering about 70% of voters.

Full results are due to be released later on Saturday.

Mr Kagame has not said if he will run again, but he is widely expected to.

Asked at the polling station if he would stay on, he said: "What is happening is the people's choice. Ask people why they want me."

Paul Kagame: Visionary or tyrant?

The arrogance of power

However, the US has said Mr Kagame should step down in 2017 to allow a new generation of leaders to emerge.

Rights groups accuse the government of stifling the media and political opposition.

The small opposition Democratic Green Party claimed it had been prevented from campaigning against the change.

Mr Kagame has been president since 2000 but has held power since 1994, when his rebel force entered the capital Kigali to end the country's genocide.

The debate over extending presidential terms has led to instability in other African countries such as Burundi and Congo Republic, but has not caused unrest in Rwanda.

source: bbc.com

US Democratic debate: Sanders apologises to Clinton over valuable voting data

Bernie Sanders has apologised to fellow US Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton after his staff stole valuable voting data from her campaign.

"This is not the type of campaign that we run," he said during a TV debate.

The candidates criticised Republican frontrunner Donald Trump for his call to ban Muslims from entering the US.

But they clashed over Syria, with Mr Sanders accusing Ms Clinton of being set on regime change while she said US leadership was needed.

Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley also took part in the debate in Manchester, New Hampshire.

But the former secretary of state remains the frontrunner.

On Syria, she insisted that the US should seek to remove President Bashar al-Assad from power.

"If the US does not lead, there is not another leader - there is a vacuum," she said.

Mr Sanders however argued that the US should first concentrate on defeating so-called Islamic State (IS).

"Getting rid of dictators is easy, but you have to think about what happens the day after," he said.

Both the main speakers had strong words for Mr Trump, with Ms Clinton calling him "the biggest recruiter for IS" and saying he used "bigotry and bluster to inflame people".

The debate was the first for Democrats since 14 people were killed in San Bernardino in California by a married couple that the authorities say had been radicalised.

All three candidates said it was important to work more closely with Muslim-American communities to tackle radicalism at home.

Data access

Bernie Sanders admitted that on two occasions his campaign could see proprietary data from Hillary Clinton's campaign following computer breaches - which he said were the fault of the software vendor.

He said that the most recent breach involved inappropriate behaviour by one of his staff members, adding that person had now been dismissed.

He said that the Democratic Party's decision to temporarily suspend his campaign's access to the strategically crucial database was "an egregious act".

The Sanders campaign on Friday filed a lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee in a federal court to restore its access to the voter data.

Strategically important information on voters is contained in the database, which campaigns use to decide strategy.

That data takes on a crucial role as campaigns prepare for early primary voting in just over a month's time.

Source: bbc.com

Nicki Minaj goes ahead with controversial Angola gig

US rapper Nicki Minaj has gone ahead with a concert in Angola despite a rights group asking her to cancel it.

The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) said in a letter that the money to pay her came from "government corruption and human rights violations".

Minaj, 33, entertained thousands in the Angolan capital, Luanda, on Saturday.

The Christmas event was hosted by mobile phone company Unitel, which is part-owned by the family of Angola's President Jose Eduardo dos Santos.

Since the end of the conflict in 2002, Africa's second-largest oil producer has witnessed an economic boom, but critics of the elected government say the wealth has only benefited a small elite.

HRF's Thor Halvorssen wrote in the letter to Minaj last week that her participation in a performance sponsored by a government "involved in gross human rights violations would be improper".

Mr Halvorssen points out that Unitel is controlled by Isabel dos Santos, daughter of the president and said to be Africa's richest woman.

Transparency International recently named the billionaire as one of 15 symbols of grand corruption worldwide.

Two days after the accusation, Ms Dos Santos's company Fidequity issued a statement insisting it is an independent company and does not use public funds.

Before going on stage on Saturday, Minaj posted a photo of herself with Angola's flag on Instagram along with one of her posing with Isabel dos Santos with the words: "She's just the 8th richest woman in the world. (At least that's what I was told by someone b4 we took this photo) Lol. Yikes!!!!! GIRL POWER!!!!! This motivates me soooooooooo much!!!!"

Minaj also shared the stage with several local acts.

Her performance came a day after a judge ordered the release of 15 Angolan activists, including prominent rapper Luaty Beirao, who were arrested six months ago during a book reading where one of the books on the agenda was about non-violent resistance to repressive regimes.

The group will return to court next month for their trial's conclusion on charges of "rebellion" and attempting to carry out a "coup".

Minaj is not the only performer to be criticised by rights groups for their choice of gigs.

Singer Jennifer Lopez was criticised in 2013 for singing Happy Birthday to the leader of Turkmenistan, who was accused of human rights violations.

In 2011, Nelly Furtado said that she would give away $1m (£615,000) she was paid to perform for the family of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Source: bbc.com

World Trade Organization strikes 'historic' farming subsidy deal

Countries in the World Trade Organization (WTO) have agreed to abolish subsidies on farming exports.

Developed countries agreed to stop the subsidies immediately and developing nations must follow by the end of 2018.

The WTO, which represents 162 countries, called it "the most significant outcome on agriculture" since the body's foundation in 1995.

But longstanding talks on other trade barriers were left unresolved at the end of the summit in Kenya.

Removing agriculture export subsidies is intended to help farmers in poorer countries to compete more fairly.

"The decision you have taken today on export competition is truly extraordinary," WTO chief Roberto Azevedo said at the closing session in Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

The summit of ministers, which finished on Saturday after five days of talks, was the first to be held in Africa.

Doha deadlock

The WTO called the farming agreement "historic", while the European Commission said it would be "good for fairer trade".

"For those who had doubts, it proves the relevance of the WTO and its capacity to deliver results," EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said.

Kenya's Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed said the summit would be "remembered as having made that leap" from a time when the WTO was divided along a "developed and developing divide".

It follows a WTO deal in July to cut tariffs on $1.3trn (£833bn) worth of technology products.

But the body had been under pressure in Nairobi to remove other trade barriers after discussions had stalled in recent years.

The lack of progress in the ongoing Doha Round of talks, which first started in the Qatari capital in 2001, had led some countries to seek agreements among smaller groups.

Doha's goals included increased duty-free access for developing countries; lower tariffs on agricultural products, textiles and clothing; and the reduction of trade-distorting subsidies from developed countries.

The final declaration adopted in Nairobi said "many members" reaffirmed their "full commitment to conclude" the Doha Development Agenda goals.

But it added: "Other members do not reaffirm the Doha mandates, as they believe new approaches are necessary to achieve meaningful outcomes in multilateral negotiations."

Two new countries, Afghanistan and Liberia, were accepted into the WTO at the summit and will formally join in the coming weeks.

Source: bbc.com

Quata Budukusu out with Pum Pum Shots

The rap Lord  “Quata Budukusu” Drops Another single and he calls this one
“PUM-PUM-SHOT ” with Dhope lyrical lines and some
Tonga chronicles …which was produced by Vegas Ace..Download, Listen and Share !!!

Download, listen, share and enjoy with family and friends.

https://soundcloud.com/bakusgrp/quata-pum-pum-shots

Source: nerohitz.com

 

Finally: Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini get eight-year bans

Fifa: Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini get eight-year bans

Fifa president Sepp Blatter and Uefa boss Michel Platini have been suspended for eight years from all football-related activities following an ethics investigation.

They were found guilty of breaches surrounding a £1.3m ($2m) "disloyal payment" made to Platini in 2011.

The Fifa ethics committee found Blatter and Platini had demonstrated an "abusive execution" of their positions.

"I will fight for me and for Fifa," Blatter, 79, said at a news conference.

Platini said the decision was a "masquerade" intended to "dirty" his name.

Both men continue to deny wrongdoing and intend to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas).

Swiss Blatter and 60-year-old Frenchman Platini have also been fined £33,700 ($40,000) and £54,000 ($80,000) respectively.

Despite the ban, both Blatter and Platini will be allowed to attend matches - including Euro 2016 in France - if they buy tickets in a private capacity.

Fifa boss since 1998, Blatter had already announced he was quitting with a presidential election in February.

Platini was tipped as a future leader of football's world governing body and is a three-time European Footballer of the Year.

He is also a former captain of France and has been in charge of Uefa - European football's governing body - since 2007.

Fifa ethics statement - key points

  • The payment made in February 2011 had "no legal basis" in the contract signed by both men when Platini started working for Blatter on 25 August, 1999.
  • Both men's explanation that there was an "oral agreement" over the payment was rejected as "not convincing".
  • Blatter's actions did not show "commitment to an ethical attitude", and both men were found to be in "a conflict of interest".
  • Platini also failed to act with "complete credibility and integrity" and showed "unawareness of the importance of his duties".
  • The committee said there was "not sufficient evidence" to establish the payment was a bribe, but both men demonstrated an "abusive execution" of their positions.

Blatter - 'I will fight'

Unshaven and sporting a plaster over his right cheek, Blatter was in defiant mood at a news conference he had called in advance of the punishments being made public.

"I will fight," he said. "I will fight for me and for Fifa."

He said he was "really sorry" that he is still "a punching ball" and that he has become tainted in the eyes of humanity.

He added that he thought he had convinced the Fifa ethics tribunal that the payment from Fifa to Platini was legitimate.

He plans to appeal, first to Fifa, then Cas. He may also take legal action under Swiss law if needed.

Blatter: Key quotes from hour-long news conference

Platini - 'At peace with my conscience'

"The decision is no surprise to me," he said in a statement. "The procedure initiated against me by Fifa's ethics committee is a pure masquerade.

"It has been rigged to tarnish my name by bodies I know well and who for me are bereft of all credibility or legitimacy."

In the meantime, Uefa has issued a statement, revealing it is "extremely disappointed" with the decision.

It added: "Once again, Uefa supports Michel Platini's right to a due process and the opportunity to clear his name."

Reaction - 'Like a death sentence'

Former Asian Football Confederation general secretary Peter Velappan added: "This is very harsh, especially for Blatter because he dedicated his life to football and Fifa. Eight years is like a death sentence."

Isha Johansen, the president of Sierra Leone's Football Association, said: "I'm not saying Blatter was a saint, but the way everything has been piled on his head to make it look like it was all his fault... I think it's most unfair."

French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet added: "Michel Platini's suspension is shocking and saddens me. It seems unbelievable.

"But it does not surprise me as the ethics commission president had already announced that Michel would be suspended for several years. Michel's guilt was decided in advance."

Reaction - 'A drowning man'

Fifa reform campaigner Damian Collins and former Football Association chairman David Bernstein believe it is the end for Blatter.

"The fish rots from the head down and we know how rotten the head of Fifa was," said British MP Collins.

Bernstein told BBC Radio 5 Live: "He's a drowning man really, there's no coming back from this.

"He'll fight, I'm sure of that. He's not a soft touch. He will fight but he is doomed. He is yesterday's man."

Why are they banned?

Blatter and Platini were found guilty of ethics code breaches over the "disloyal payment".

Both claimed the payment was honouring an agreement made in 1998 for work carried out between 1998 and 2002 when Platini worked as a technical adviser for Blatter.

The payment was not part of Platini's written contract but the pair insisted it was a verbal agreement, which is legal under Swiss law.

German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, the chairman of Fifa's adjudicatory chamber, held disciplinary hearings for the pair last week.

Charges included conflict of interest, false accounting and non co-operation, with investigators submitting a file of more than 50 pages.

What now for Fifa?

World football's governing body has been in turmoil for several months, following numerous allegations of corruption.

Seven Fifa officials were arrested at a Zurich hotel at the end of May.

And US authorities have charged 39 football officials and sports business executives over more than £134m ($200m) in bribes for football television and marketing deals.

Swiss prosecutors are also investigating Fifa's management as well as the award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar.

There is also pressure from governments and the International Olympic Committee for Fifa to push through major reforms aiming at making governance more transparent and accountable.

Who will be the next Fifa boss?

The presidential election is due to take place on 26 February.

There are currently five candidates to take over:

  • Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa - 50, Bahrain, president of Asian Football Confederation;
  • Tokyo Sexwale - 62, South Africa, politician, businessman and former political prisoner;
  • Prince Ali bin al-Hussein - 39, Jordan, a former Fifa vice-president and 2015 Fifa presidential candidate;
  • Gianni Infantino - 45, Switzerland, Uefa general secretary and a member of Fifa's reform committee;
  • Jerome Champagne - 57, France, a former Fifa assistant general secretary and former French diplomat.

Voting will take place by secret ballot, with all Fifa's 209 member states having a vote each.

Source: bbc.com

Group petitions Rawlings, Kufuor to have images removed from BRT buses

A group calling itself Concerned Ghanaians has petitioned former presidents Jerry John Rawlings and John Kufuor to have their images removed from the 116 Bus Rapid Transit vehicles.

The group said in a statement that it considers the money spent on pasting pictures a wasteful expenditure.

The 3.6 million cedis spent on rebranding of 116 buses genrated a lot of debate last week with many sternly criticising government for embarking on an extravagant spending.

Aide to Mr Rawlings, Kobina Andoh told Myjoyonline.com the former President is aware of the petition but he will act only after the Attorney General releases findings from a probe into the deal.

The probe was initiated by Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah.

"His Excellency Jerry John Rawlings has duly noted the concerns raised but responds that he will await the investigative report of the Attorney General as per the directives of the Presidency after which he will advise himself accordingly,” he said.

Below is a copy of the full statement by Concerned Ghanaians.

PETITION TO THEIR EXCELLENCIES, PRESIDENTS KUFFOUR AND RAWLINGS SEEKING TO HAVE THEIR IMAGES REMOVED FROM THE 116 BUS RAPID TRANSIT (BRT) BUSES.

Your Excellencies,

It is with great dismay that we, as Concerned Ghanaians, have noticed the adorning of 116 government procured BRT buses with the portraits of the current and former presidents, namely John Evans Atta Mills, John Agyekum Kuffour, Jerry John Rawlings and John Dramani Mahama.

We believe that you will consider it profligate, as we do, that government spent a whopping GHC3.6m on this hubristic exercise. In the midst of our current economic problems as a nation, which caused the President to admonish Ghanaians to tighten their belts, we find that it is a wasteful expenditure to paste pictures of former presidents including the current president on these 116 buses at an individual cost of GHC31,000.

Knowing the good values of prudent financial management and good governance which you ascribe to, we are left with no doubt in our minds that you do not approve of such an expenditure as well as the idea of placing your images on these buses.

We are thus humbly appealing to your good conscience to request that you direct that your images be taken off those buses.

We, together with the growing number of online signatories to this petition, shall remain eternally grateful to you if you could grant us our petition.

God bless you and God bless Ghana.

Thank you.

Source: myjoyonline.com

A group calling itself Concerned Ghanaians has petitioned former presidents Jerry John Rawlings and John Kufuor to have their images removed from the 116 Bus Rapid Transit vehicles.

The group said in a statement that it considers the money spent on pasting pictures a wasteful expenditure.

The 3.6 million cedis spent on rebranding of 116 buses genrated a lot of debate last week with many sternly criticising government for embarking on an extravagant spending.

Aide to Mr Rawlings, Kobina Andoh told Myjoyonline.com the former President is aware of the petition but he will act only after the Attorney General releases findings from a probe into the deal.

The probe was initiated by Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah.

"His Excellency Jerry John Rawlings has duly noted the concerns raised but responds that he will await the investigative report of the Attorney General as per the directives of the Presidency after which he will advise himself accordingly,” he said.

Below is a copy of the full statement by Concerned Ghanaians.

PETITION TO THEIR EXCELLENCIES, PRESIDENTS KUFFOUR AND RAWLINGS SEEKING TO HAVE THEIR IMAGES REMOVED FROM THE 116 BUS RAPID TRANSIT (BRT) BUSES. 

Your Excellencies, 

It is with great dismay that we, as Concerned Ghanaians, have noticed the adorning of 116 government procured BRT buses with the portraits of the current and former presidents, namely John Evans Atta Mills, John Agyekum Kuffour, Jerry John Rawlings and John Dramani Mahama. 

We believe that you will consider it profligate, as we do, that government spent a whopping GHC3.6m on this hubristic exercise. In the midst of our current economic problems as a nation, which caused the President to admonish Ghanaians to tighten their belts, we find that it is a wasteful expenditure to paste pictures of former presidents including the current president on these 116 buses at an individual cost of GHC31,000. 

Knowing the good values of prudent financial management and good governance which you ascribe to, we are left with no doubt in our minds that you do not approve of such an expenditure as well as the idea of placing your images on these buses. 

We are thus humbly appealing to your good conscience to request that you direct that your images be taken off those buses. 

We, together with the growing number of online signatories to this petition, shall remain eternally grateful to you if you could grant us our petition. 

God bless you and God bless Ghana.

Thank you. 

- See more at: http://www.myjoyonline.com/news/2015/December-21st/group-petitions-rawlings-kufuor-to-have-images-removed-from-brt-buses.php?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter#sthash.Xzp5QUhd.dpuf

Miss Universe: Miss Colombia mistakenly crowned as winner

The host of the Miss Universe has apologised after mistakenly naming the wrong woman as winner, leaving Miss Colombia empty-handed.

After the error, Ariadna Gutierrez was instead declared runner-up and surrendered her crown to Miss Philippines, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach.

#MissUniverse2015 became Twitter's biggest trend of the night as social media users expressed their disbelief.

Ms Wurtzbach has since told reporters that she wishes Ms Gutierrez well.

"I'm very sorry, I did not take the crown away from her and I wish her well in whatever she wants to pursue after this pageant," she said.

Ms Gutierrez also addressed fans in a backstage video that has been shared on the pageant's official page.

She said: "Everything happens for a reason so I'm happy for all that I did."

At the end of the night in Las Vegas, Ms Gutierrez was named first runner-up followed by Olivia Jordan from the United States.

The host Steve Harvey responded, saying it was "his mistake" and he would take responsibility for not reading the winning card correctly.

He made another mistake when he misspelled both Colombia and the Philippines in an initial tweet. The tweet was later deleted.

"I'd like to apologize wholeheartedly to Miss Colombia & Miss Philippines for my huge mistake. I feel terrible," he tweeted in a second attempt. The message was re-tweeted more than 70,000 times.

"I don't want to take away from this amazing night and pageant. As well as the wonderful contestants - they were all amazing."

'Miss Information'

Shock and disbelief erupted online following the incident.

"Talk about awkward," described one Twitter user who "couldn't help" but find the gaffe "hilarious".

Another user, Mark Critch from Canada, said: "And the winner is - Miss Information."

Facebook users also expressed their opinions on a post shared on the pageant's official page.

It was shared more than 62,000 times and received more than 17,000 comments from viewers across the world.

"That was poorly handled. Both of these gorgeous ladies deserve an apology because that was embarrassing for both of them. I literally felt both of their pain," read a top comment by Lemmy Cliff.

"That was the most annoying Miss Universe contest ever," said another commenter Andres Felipe Arbelaez. "The host was horrible and Miss Colombia should have won."

Pageant fans from the Philippines also began to express anger at the incident.

"Our Miss Philippines didn't get her shining moment," said a fan on Facebook. "It feels like she and our country were robbed of the winning moment, shame!"

While some Twitter users remained upset over the mistake, others began to tweet out messages of support.

"Don't feel terrible. Everyone makes mistakes," said Pedro Da Cunha.

"To err is human... to forgive is divine," said another user in reply to Mr Harvey's apology.

In an incident apparently unconnected to the competition, at least one person was killed and dozens injured after a car ploughed into a crowd next to the Miss Universe venue.

Source: bbc.com

Electoral Commission’s elections 2016 budget hit by ¢400m cut

Parliament has approved 826.8 million Ghana cedis for the Electoral Commission for the conduct of presidential and parliamentary elections next year.

The Commission had budgeted 1.1 million cedis for the polls, while 100 million Ghana cedis would be used for other administrative expenses.

However, Parliament approved less than what the EC had planned for, leaving a funding gap of almost GHC400 million.

The EC’s budget deficit has come about as a result of a Finance Ministry ceiling of 800 million Ghana cedis for next year's polls.

Joy News’ Elton Brobbey says the EC may come back to Parliament to push for the 400 million Ghana cedis funding gap.

“The Finance Minister has agreed with the Electoral Commission for the release of an amount of 826.8 million Ghana cedis for the services of the Electoral Commission. This amount is silent on whether or not the EC will open the voters’ register to register eligible voters for the 2016 elections,” Elton explains.

Meanwhile, the EC says it would wait for the outcome of a committee it set up to advise on whether or not to compile a new register.

When the committee presents its report this week, the EC will be in a better position to go back to government to either make a case for the release of additional funds or spell out measures it has taken to operate within the amount approved, Elton reported.

The EC Chair, Charlotte Osei said since the announcement of the Finance Ministry ceiling, she has been looking internally and discussing ways to bridge the deficit.

The EC says it may have to reduce the number of polling stations by 1,000.

Prior the announcement of Finance Ministry ceiling, the EC had projected to conduct the general elections at 30,000 polling stations.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Source: myjoyonline.com

Six US service members killed in Afghan suicide bombing : RIP fallen Soldiers

A suicide bombing in Afghanistan has killed six US service members in one of the deadliest attacks on American forces this year, US officials say.

The Taliban said they were behind the blast, which also injured several US and Nato soldiers.

US officials said the troops were meeting a local Afghan leader when they were targeted by a fighter riding a motorbike rigged with explosives.

Attacks on foreign troops have risen in recent months as forces have withdrawn.

To date, 16 US service members have been killed in combat this year, but most of those deaths were due to aircraft crashes, according to the Pentagon.

In October, a helicopter crash killed six US service members in Jalalabad.

Source: bbc.com

Kenyan Muslims shield Christians in Mandera bus attack

A group of Kenyan Muslims travelling on a bus ambushed by Islamist gunmen protected Christian passengers by refusing to be split into groups, according to eyewitnesses.

They told the militants "to kill them together or leave them alone", a local governor told Kenyan media.

At least two people were killed in the attack, near the north-eastern village of El Wak on the Somali border.

The Somali based al-Shabab group is the main suspect for the attack.

It has not said if it was responsible, but often carries out attacks in Kenya's north-east.

The bus was travelling from the capital Nairobi to the town of Mandera.

When al-Shabab killed 148 people in an attack on Garissa University College in April, the militants reportedly singled out Christians and shot them, while freeing many Muslims.

Last year, a bus was attacked near Mandera by al-Shabab militants, who killed 36 non-Muslims travelling to Nairobi for Christmas celebrations.

"The locals showed a sense of patriotism and belonging to each other," Mandera governor Ali Roba told Kenya's private Daily Nation newspaper.

The militants decided to leave after the passengers' show of unity, he added.

The passengers on the bus showed great bravery, but there was another quality revealed by their surprising decision to stand up to the gunmen: Frustration.

The majority of the local population in the north-east are Kenyan Muslims of Somali descent, and they have been hit hard by the consequences of al-Shabab attacks, even if non-Muslims are supposedly the main target of the Somali militant group.

An attack last year in Mandera, in which Christians were killed after being separated from Muslims, caused the departure of more than 2,000 teachers, as well as many health workers who had come from other parts of the country.

Perhaps the passengers felt that the region could simply not afford another such attack.

It will be interesting to see if their actions embolden local populations to increase their resistance to al-Shabab, which has attacked the area several times.


An employee of the Makkah bus company, who had spoken to the driver involved in the attack, confirmed to the BBC that Muslims had refused to be separated from their fellow Christian passengers.

One of the victims was shot dead after trying to run away from the militants after passengers had been forced off the bus, the same employee told the BBC's Bashkas Jugsodaay in Nairobi.

Al-Shabab has been at war with Kenya ever since Kenyan forces entered Somalia in October 2011 in an effort to crush the militants.

Kenya's north-eastern region has a large population of ethnic Somalis.

Source: bbc.com

Phil Jones: Man Utd mood worse under David Moyes

Defender Phil Jones believes the mood at Manchester United is not as bad as it was during David Moyes' ill-fated reign as manager at Old Trafford.

Saturday's 2-1 defeat by Norwich was United's third in a row and saw them slip to fifth in the Premier League.

Moyes was sacked in April 2014 after nine months at the club, as they headed for a seventh-place league finish.

"I wouldn't say it's the lowest moment," said Jones, 23. "I think it became pretty glum under David Moyes."

United's league finish in 2014 was their lowest since 1990, and it was the first time they had ended the season outside England's top three since 1991.

But under Louis van Gaal, who replaced Moyes, they are winless in their past six games, a sequence that has included their elimination from the Champions League at the group stage.

Van Gaal's side were booed off the pitch at Old Trafford following the Norwich defeat and the Dutchman has admitted he is "worried" about his job.

But Jones has backed the former Netherlands coach and said the players need to take responsibility for improving form.

"The manager is doing all he can and is doing a terrific job," said the England international.

"It's not even questionable in the dressing room. The lads are absolutely fully focused on performing well for the manager, the fans, ourselves - week in, week out.

"The players in there aren't hiding behind anyone."

Source: bbc.com

About time: Presidency strips Ministers of ‘first class’ travels

All government ministers who embark on official foreign travels on first class tickets have been directed by the presidency to stop with immediate effect.

Government has also directed all its ministers to cut down on foreign travels in a bid to curtail government spending.
The directive was issued in a letter  from the office of the president and signed by the Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah on November 16.

Even though government has not clearly stated exactly how much these travels cost government, the Chief of Staff expressed some concerns.

“It is needless to emphasise the serious impact the current frequent travels abroad by Ministers and Public officials are having on government finances,” he said.

The letter further directed the ministers to use business class instead of first class flights when need arises.

“To arrest the situation all Hon. Ministers are reminded to restrict foreign travels in their sectors to mandatory international assignments only. All non-essential travels are to be stopped. Hon. Ministers are also entreated to travel by Business Class and not first class, as stated in the letter,” the statement added.
The order follows a similar directive by the President of Tanzania, John Magufuli who has restricted all first and business class travel to government officials, except the president, vice president and prime minister.

Ghana’s government under the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme, is being restricted in its spending to reduce the budget deficit to meet the 2016 target of 7.3% of GDP.

President John Mahama himself suffered criticisms from some Ghanaians in 2014 which they questioned his frequent foreign travels, during which the minority in Parliament described it as wasteful.

Source: citifmonline.com

All government ministers who embark on official foreign travels on first class tickets have been directed by the presidency to stop with immediate effect.

Government has also directed all its ministers to cut down on foreign travels in a bid to curtail government spending.

- See more at: http://citifmonline.com/2015/12/21/presidency-strips-ministers-of-first-class-travels/#sthash.smEe3QJo.dpuf

Greed? NPP’s Carlos Ahenkorah sued over Tema West primary

Five months after his election, the New Patriotic Party (NPP’s) parliamentary candidate for the Tema West constituency, Carlos Ahenkorah has been sued by some disgruntled members of the party.

The members; Nana Yaw Ntim and Christian Joseph want a re-run of the election in the Tema West Constituency.
They argue that the NPP’s National Executive Committee (NEC), prior to the poll, directed that Ga-Adangme constituencies should be contested by only indigenous residents, hence for a non-indigene to be elected in Tema West is in contravention of the party’s decision.

The complainants are praying the court to declare Mr. Ahenkorah’s election “null, void and of no effect.”

They also want the court to order the NPP to re-run the primary in the area.

The NPP has been joined to the lawsuit.

Carlos Ahenkorah who contested the incumbent MP, Naa Torshie Addo, faced fierce opposition from some party members who accused him of not helping the party in the constituency.

The disagreements delayed his clearance by the party’s Vetting Committee but he was subsequently given the green light.

Mr. Ahenkorah during the election held on July 25, 2015, polled 503 while Naa Torshie Addo had 273.

The other contender Adwoa Amoakoa had 2 votes.

Reliefs:
1. A declaration that NPP’s election of Carlos Ahenkorah to contest the parliamentary primaries of the Tema West Constituency is in contravention of the NPP’s NEC decision taken on 23/03/15 in respect of the Tema West Constituency and article 9(d) of the NPP’s constituency to the extent that it permitted Carlos Ahenkorah a non-Ga indigene to contest the parliamentary primaries of the Tema West Constituency.

2. A declaration that by virtue of the Supreme Court decision in the case of Benjamin Eyi Mensah v Electoral Commission and Anor dated 27/02/15 Carlos Ahenkorah was not a registered voter of the Tema West Constituency at the time he contested the NPP’s parliamentary primaries in the Tema West Constituency.

3.A declaration that by reason of (1) and (2) above or either of them Carlos Ahenkorah purported election by NPP as NPP’s parliamentary candidate for the Tema West Constituency is null, void and of no effect.

4.An order directing NPP to implement NPP’s NEC decision taken at its meeting dated the 23rd day of March 2015 in respect of the Tema West Constituency to wit: that NPP be represented by a Ga indigene in the parliamentary primaries for the upcoming 2016 parliamentary elections.

5. An order of perpetual injunction restraining Carlos Ahenkorah from contesting the parliamentary election of the Tema West Constituency on NPP’s ticket.

Source: citifmonline.com

Las Vegas Strip crash driver 'faces murder charge'

Las Vegas prosecutors say a woman accused of deliberately driving her car into a crowd of pedestrians, killing one, will be charged with murder.

Police said Lakeisha Holloway, 24, from Oregon, drove her vehicle onto a pavement packed with more than 100 people, then fled the scene.

Officials believe the crash on Sunday evening was intentional, but did not discuss Ms Holloway's motive.

Three of the 36 people injured in the crash remain in a critical condition.

On Monday, Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg named the deceased victim of the crash as Jessica Valenzuela, 32, of Buckeye, Arizona, who was visiting the city with her husband.

Ms Holloway's three-year-old daughter who was in the car at the time is said to be "fine" and in the custody of child services.

District Attorney Steve Wolfson said Ms Holloway would initially be charged with murder, adding that charges of attempted murder, child abuse and leaving the scene of an accident would probably follow.

Las Vegas County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said he did not believe the crash to be an act of terrorism, but added that he was "not ruling it out 100%" because of the difficulty in obtaining details about the background of the suspect, who had apparently been living in her car in Las Vegas for a week.

Mr Lombardo said video suggested the crash was an intentional act, adding that Ms Holloway had driven to a hotel and asked a valet to call the emergency services after explaining what had happened.

The Miss Universe beauty pageant was being held in a nearby hotel at the time of the crash.

Five Canadians, as well as a group of university students from Oregon were among those injured.

The car appeared to be travelling between 30-40mph (48kph-64kph) as it hit pedestrians, according to one witness.

"It was just massacring people," Justin Cochrane told the Associated Press news agency.

Another witness said she saw victims "flying through the air."

"The car was like a bowling ball and the human bodies were like pins," Rabia Qureshi told local broadcaster KSNV.

Source: bbc.com

Arsenal moved to within two points of surprise Premier League leaders Leicester with a 2-1 win over Man City

Arsenal moved to within two points of surprise Premier League leaders Leicester City with victory over Manchester City at Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners - without a title triumph since 2004 - showed the sort of impressive drive, cutting edge and resilience that will lead manager Arsene Wenger to believe Arsenal can finally end that barren spell.

ity dominated early possession but Kevin de Bruyne wasted a good chance and Theo Walcott punished the visitors with a right-foot finish from 20 yards in the 33rd minute.

Eliaquim Mangala's dreadful clearance allowed Mesut Ozil's 15th assist of the season as he set up Olivier Giroud for an angled finish in first-half stoppage time. Yaya Toure's clever shot from outside the area set up a tense finale which saw both Toure and substitute Wilfried Bony waste chances to equalise.

Ruthless Arsenal

Wenger's side have often been accused of having a soft centre when the pressure is on - but here, faced with the team many believe will still emerge as their closes title rivals, they showed a ruthless streak.

City may have dominated possession and territory for the first half hour but it was Arsenal who made it count at the business end. Their tally for the opening 45 minutes read two shots on target and two goals. For a manager who prides himself on efficiency, Wenger will have been delighted.

The Gunners were impressive at the back too, where goalkeeper Petr Cech was the epitome of safe handling and security, proving once more what a significant signing he has been.

Arsenal's defenders were in the mood too, with two crunching tackles from full-back Nacho Monreal drawing a high-five from fellow defender Per Mertesacker.

Walcott grows in stature

For a player often criticised for his lack of end product, Walcott looks to be evolving into the complete striker at the age of 26.

Mesut Ozil touchmap

Mesut Ozil's heat maps against City (left) compared to the defeat against West Ham on the opening day (right) show how he has drifted wider to find space

Walcott's goal, wonderfully accomplished as he turned inside before curling a perfect finish beyond the stretching City keeper Joe Hart, was his 13th in his last 17 league appearances and delivered further evidence of his development into a consistent and reliable goalscorer.

He, and indeed Arsenal, are receiving plenty of help from the Premier League's current creator supreme Ozil, who had a hand in both goals and received a standing ovation when he was replaced late on.

Add in Giroud's current golden sequence of 12 goals in his last 14 matches in all competitions, and Arsenal will believe they possess the potency to carry them all the way.

Manchester City come up short again

Aside from a dominant opening half and a late rally after Toure's goal, this was another poor performance from Manuel Pellegrini's side.

City were too often laboured and the sight of captain Vincent Kompany sitting in the stand watching on forlornly pointed to where many of the problems lie.

Pellegrini may have signed Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi for fees in excess of £60m, but they are still not the same and markedly less assured.

And with Sergio Aguero still not fully fit and substituted, City are currently well short of their best.

Source: bbc.com

Michel Platini: Fifa committee was 'asleep for four years'

Banned Uefa president Michel Platini has accused world football's ethics committee of "sleeping" for four years before barring him from football.

Platini and Fifa president Sepp Blatter were ruled to have abused their positions over a £1.3m ($2m) "disloyal payment" made to Platini in 2011.

Both men are appealing against eight-year bans issued on Monday.

"What was the Fifa ethics committee doing between 2011 when I was paid and 2015?" said Platini. "Was it sleeping?"

In an interview with French media agency AFP, the 60-year-old former France captain added: "Suddenly it wakes up. Ah yes, it wakes up in a Fifa election year when I'm a candidate. It's amazing."

Swiss Blatter, 79 - Fifa boss since 1998 - had already announced he was quitting with a presidential election in February - with Platini, also a vice-president, tipped to succeed him.

Platini has been in charge of Uefa - European football's governing body - since 2007 and was backed in a statement on Monday, with the organisation saying it was "extremely disappointed" with the decision.

He has submitted his candidacy but cannot stand while banned from all footballing activities. Both men are appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Platini said: "I will fight. But then I'll take my responsibilities according to what happens.

"Whatever happens, my reputation has been sullied, I've been kicked in the teeth: I've been put in the same bag as Blatter."

Source: bbc.com

Islamic State conflict: Iraqi forces 'move into Ramadi'

Iraqi forces are advancing into the centre of Ramadi, after launching a major assault to drive Islamic State militants from the city, officials say.

Security sources told the BBC that troops and allied tribesmen, backed by US-led air strikes, had already retaken two districts, and entered two others.

They are heading towards the main government complex, and have come up against snipers and suicide bombers.

Ramadi fell to IS in May in an embarrassing defeat for the Iraqi army.

Last month, government forces completed their encirclement of the predominantly Sunni Arab city, about 90km (55 miles) west of Baghdad, cutting off militants inside the centre from strongholds elsewhere in Anbar province and in neighbouring Syria.

How tactical change boosted offensive

Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service spokesman Sabah al-Numani said its troops, supported by soldiers, police and Sunni tribesmen, had begun the assault on central Ramadi at dawn and were advancing on the government complex.

"We went into the centre of Ramadi from several fronts and we began purging residential areas," he told the AFP news agency.

"The city will be cleared in the coming 72 hours."

"We did not face strong resistance - only snipers and suicide bombers, and this is a tactic we expected," he added.

Sources in the Iraqi military's Anbar Operations Command told the BBC that engineers had built temporary bridges over the River Euphrates, which flows along the north and west of the city centre. This had enabled troops to enter directly the al-Haouz district, south-west of the government complex.

By Tuesday afternoon, government forces had retaken the al-Thubat and al-Aramil districts, and entered nearby al-Malaab and Bakir, the sources said.


Sunnis to the fore - Lina Sinjab, BBC News, Beirut

If the battle to recapture Ramadi succeeds, it will be the second largest city after Tikrit to be taken back from the self-proclaimed Islamic State in the past 18 months. It would be a major boost for the morale of the Iraqi security forces and for those Sunnis opposing IS in Iraq.

That is not only because the city of Ramadi is predominantly Sunni and a key IS stronghold, but also because the forces fighting to take it back are spearheaded by Sunni tribesmen.

The Shia-dominated paramilitary force known as Popular Mobilisation (al-Hashd al-Shaabi) has been involved in many battles against IS, but the government has chosen not to deploy it in Ramadi.

The force was accused of human rights abuses against Sunnis after the recapture of Tikrit in April, and it is believed previous atrocities carried out by Shia militias helped alienate Sunnis and push them into the arms of IS.


A spokesman for the US-led coalition against IS, which carried out at least 12 air strikes in support of the offensive on Tuesday, said the fall of Ramadi was "inevitable", but warned that it would be a "tough fight".

Col Steve Warren suggested there were between 250 and 350 IS militants entrenched in the city centre, with some hundreds more to the north and west.

The Iraqi defence ministry said the jihadists had prevented civilians leaving Ramadi since leaflets warning of an assault were dropped over the city last month.

"They plan to use them as human shields," spokesman Naseer Nuri told the Reuters news agency on Monday.

Col Warren said there were still thousands, possibly tens of thousands, of civilians inside Ramadi.

Sources inside Ramadi told the BBC that IS had carried out a campaign of raids and mass arrests of residents in districts still under its control, in an attempt to prevent an uprising in support of the government offensive.

The operation to recapture Ramadi, which began in early November, has made slow progress, mainly because the government has chosen not to use the powerful Shia-dominated paramilitary force that helped it regain the northern city of Tikrit to avoid increasing sectarian tensions.

IS has lost control of several key towns in Iraq to government and Kurdish forces since overrunning large swathes of the country's west and north in June 2014 and proclaiming the creation of a "caliphate" that also extended into neighbouring Syria.

On Monday, analysis by IHS Jane's suggested that IS had lost 14% of its overall territory in Iraq and Syria, about 12,800 sq km (4,940 sq miles), over the past year.

Despite this, the group has been able to capture new territory of strategic value over the same period, including Ramadi and Palmyra in Syria's Homs province. It also still controls the Iraqi cities of Falluja, east of Ramadi, and Mosul, in the north.

What is Islamic State?

A notoriously violent Islamist group which controls large parts of Syria and Iraq. It has declared its territory a caliphate - a state governed in accordance with Islamic law - under its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

What does it want?

IS demands allegiance from all Muslims, rejects national borders and seeks to expand its territory. It adheres to its own extreme interpretation of Sunni Islam and regards non-believers as deserving of death.

How strong is IS?

IS projects a powerful image, partly through propaganda and sheer brutality, and is the world's richest insurgent group. It has about 30,000 fighters but is facing daily bombing by a US-led multinational coalition which has vowed to destroy it.

Source: bbc.com

Nigeria raises borrowing in budget as oil prices fall

Nigeria's president has announced plans to raise spending by 20% next year by borrowing heavily amid falling oil prices

In his first budget since his election victory in March, Muhammadu Buhari said he would spend $31bn (£20.8bn) in 2016 on infrastructure and the economy.

However, Nigeria has been hard hit by the falling price of oil.

Petroleum exports make up 90% of total overseas revenue, according to the Opec oil cartel.

The country's budget deficit is expected to double to 2.2 trillion naira ($11bn, £7.4bn) next year and Buhari said the government would seek funding overseas of 900bn naira as well as 984bn naira domestically.

Oil prices have fallen from about $55 a barrel since the beginning of the year to around $36-$37 and Mr Buhari said that of the 3.9 trillion naira revenue forecast for 2016, just 820bn will come from crude.

Mr Buhari said: "This huge decline is having a painful effect on our economy. Consumption has declined at all levels. In both the private and public sectors, employers have struggled to meet their salary and other employee related obligations."

The president pledged to improve tax collection and invest in other industries including mining and agriculture. "The Nigerian economy needs to move away from dependency on oil," he said.

Nigeria's unemployment rate is growing, up from 8.2% in the second quarter to 9.9% between July and September according to official figures. Inflation is also rising, hitting 9.4% in September, on fuel shortages and higher food prices.

However, Mr Buhari said he expected Nigeria's economy to grow by 4.4% next year.

"The 2016 budget, as outlined, is designed to ensure that we revive our economy, deliver inclusive growth to Nigerians and create a significant number of jobs," he said.

Source: bbc.com

God gave us the Korle, and he gave them a Korle too - The story after the visit to Cartagena, Colombia

I walked past the historical walled city of Cartagena de Indias, a port city on the Northern Coast of Colombia in the Caribbean, thinking of what else I would miss aside the noise  from  rusty generators  that often fill the air in the business district of Accra. 

At least for my few weeks stay as a fellow of the Gabriel Marquez Fellowship in Cultural Journalism, having a decent sleep knowing the lights would not go off unannounced was a soothing thought.  A native of the town had told me he has no memory of the lights ever going out.

Cartagena, Colombia’s most important tourist city, was just home thousands of miles away from home – fruit sellers and petty traders lined the major streets of the city; taxi drivers beckon pedestrians in the middle of the road while ‘okada’ operators do brisk business  with their bikes.

With temperatures ranging between 28 and 30 degrees Celsius at daytime, it was certainly not a place to have any major cultural shock for someone coming from Accra.

A few uncollected garbage littered the median of some major roads, and I had looked on in awe while the drivers' mates of rickety public transport busses wait till the bus moved a few metres away before they do the about 50-metre dash to catch up and clinch onto its doors and then look away with a smile that only portrays a skill well executed.

Drivers' mates making the 100-metre dash to catch up with moving bus was a fashionable phenomenon in Ghana in the 90s: a mate’s smartness was determined by how fast he makes  the dash to catch up with the moving bus; however, the death toll from such escapades ended the phenomenon.

Stopping a taxi in the middle of the street and imposing myself on drivers to grant access was a common feature in this twin sister city of Accra.

“You would have to throw yourself at them, but make sure they have actually granted you access”, I was told.

A blend of old and modern architecture provides that unique picture of its history --- it is history in every step of the way. 

Aside its rich cultural heritage, rapid urbanisation has also been a dominant demographic trend.

Increased pace of social and economic development, and resulting growth in city and town population, has had its own effect on this historical city.

In the heart of the city are long stretches of strands and mangroves gracing the banks of its lagoons that drain into the sea and divide the city of Cartagena into two halves.

The Laguna de San Lazaro, a semblance of the Korle Lagoon, runs through the neighborhoods of Getsemeni and Manga.

At a morning meeting for participants of the fellowship programme, I had indicated my resolve to work on a writing project on how Carthaginians have conserved their lagoon resources over the years.

I had noticed the uneasiness on the faces of the native participants at the programme; the lagoon was not the best of examples the city would want to exhibit as part of its rich heritage, due to some level of pollution.

The two masters of the programme briefly consulted with each other for a few seconds and then warned that the example I may find may not be the best.

Fact is, I was not looking for a perfect example: for a people with similar cultures and lifestyle as Ghanaians, it only comes across that, with the right orientation, we could also resurrect the rotting Korle Lagoon, which continues to blot the collective conscience of a country that prides itself as the gateway to West Africa. 

That afternoon after the workshop, I had a comfortable seat on one of the roots of the mangroves that grace the bank of the lagoon and watched a geese drift away with the current on floating debris, and was almost lost in thought on when exactly Ghana lost it all in conserving its water resources.  

Although human activities and settlements have sprung up along the banks of the lagoons here, it still plays an important socio-economic role for the thousands of Colombians whose livelihoods depend on it.

The Korle Lagoon, on the other hand, has become one of the most polluted water bodies on earth. It is the principal outlet through which all major drainage channels in the city empty their wastes into the sea.

Once relished for its attractive scenery and its abundant stock of fish, the Korle is virtually dead, thus it has lost its significance for both commercial and recreation purposes.

With a small metal hook done without much skill, a young lad lowers his upper body into the Laguna and skillfully snares out a crab into an open jute sack where he had kept many others.

In a split second, another lad flips and dives into the lagoon, emerging few seconds later shaking off water from his curly hair. "That would have been suicide in the Korle," I muttered to myself.  

The only close human activity I have ever witnessed in the Korle in recent time is that incident when a thief eluded his pursuers by choosing to immense himself in the stench than get lynched. His pursuers had looked on with surprise at his decision, though satisfied that his choice was equally a good punishment for his crime. 

Seven kilometres away from Cartagena and away from all of its allure and grandeur, I travelled north of the city to La Boquilla, a sprawling community along the marshy lands of the Cienaga de la Virgen - the biggest coastal lagoon, which spans a length of 22.5km and empties into the sea.

Down its sandy beach road, empty thatch-roofed sheds of local restaurants line up miles away, flying on top of them are Colombian flags that have suffered much of the weather.

Carefully choosing where next to plant the next foot, Markus, a local contact, led the way through the muddy paths into this predominantly fishing community of migrants who had fled conflicts in their home regions and found home in this wetland.

Children drift on floating wooden board in between houses that sit on elevated structures in the marshy ground.

The fisher folks in the community have resorted to fish farming as a more innovative way to cope with the depletion of the fish resources they have lived on over the years. 

Bron had lived and fished in this part of the city for 10 years, and  narrated how fishing in the lagoon has been  a major activity that  has supported the local economy in that neigbourhood over the years.

He led me to his fish pond a few metres away from his residence. An old fishing net hanged loosely on poles planted around the pond and bordered with pieces of broken plastic buckets and wood. 

He throws in some cooked rice, and big ‘sabalos’ emerged to the surface to feed.

Selling fish from the ponds is has become the easiest and more economical way of making ends meet in this neigbourhood.

Bron narrated how fishing in the lagoon was gradually moving away to the sea because of diminishing fish stock, and this, he said, comes at a cost because “we now use big engines and nets to fish in the sea”. 

Pointing to areas now inhabited by people, he narrates how human settlement had filled in most of the tributaries of the Ciénaga. 

Alcideso, another fisherman, now  survives on the sale of octopus, lobsters and fish from the sea. 

He finds the potentials in the lagoon less lucrative now compared to 30 years ago when he was able to make a good catch in the lagoon to support his family of 10.

Now he makes close to half a million pesos a day from fishing in the sea, which he uses to support his 10 sons in school.

He talked about changing rainfall patterns in the region and how human settlements have affected the resource that they once so much depended on.

With the help of satellite images on his laptop computer, Rafael Vergara, a former M19 guerilla fighter turned environmental activist, shows me images of vast lands of freshwater bodies of the city of Cartagena from the late 1960s.

The migration of people escaping violence from other regions, he says, has changed the ecology of the ecosystem in the region tremendously as vast portions of conserved areas have been sacrificed for human settlements.

He was satisfied that although conservation laws are not strictly being enforced by the appropriate state agencies, a level of consciousness has been created among the public to be responsible to the environment.  

“We have created a sense of consciousness among the people, and this has helped the collective effort in preserving what you see today. It has not been easy; we fought, and I have sued at least not less than a hundred times, in the fight to protect the remaining reserved lands”.

A concept to conserve this all-important water reserve in Cartagena is a new proposal to re-create and reconstruct the mangrove forest under a new park concept. The idea is to give the city of Cartagena a big protective mangrove peri-urban forest that can function as a bio shield against sea level rise and climate change.

 

In Ghana, several approaches have been suggested to restore the dignity of the dead lagoon. The Korle Lagoon Ecological Restoration Project is just one of such initiatives. The project aims at dredging the lagoon and converting the areas around its bank into a recreational area.

 

As things stand now, bringing life back to the Korle will not only need political will power and the necessary investment but, most importantly, behavioural change to make the needed impact.

 For a resource which otherwise would have been a scenic landscape that would support socio-economic activities in the metropolis, leaving it  to its current fate as a channel for uncontrolled discharges of domestic and industrial waste, as well as raw sewage is a blot on the collective  conscience of the country.

The Korle must live again to serve its socio-economic purpose, and we owe it to the generation yet unborn to bring life back to the lagoon.


By Daniel Nonor

Source: thefinderonline.com

Transport Minister, AG sued over GHC3.6m bus branding contract

Some private citizens have filed a suit against Transport Minister, Dzifa Attivor and Attorney General, Marrieta Brew Appiah-Oppong at the High Court over the controversial 3.6 million Ghana cedis bus branding contract.

They are praying the court to issue “An order directed the Honourable Minister of Transport to make full disclosure on the contract for the branding of the 116 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) buses”.

The bus branding contract has generated a lot of public debate amid suspicisons of bloated expenditure.

The 116 buses have been branded with photographs of former Heads of State and the current President John Mahama.
Source: myjoyonline.com

EC to allow manual voter verification in 2016 election

The Electoral Commission has agreed to allow manual voter verification during the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections.

This will be done for voters whose particulars appear in the voters register but may be rejected by the biometric verification machines.

The biometric voter verification will still be used during the polls.

This decision was taken at the just ended Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) on Tuesday.

It was also agreed at the meeting that 29,000 instead of 30,000 polling stations will be used during the elections due to budget constraints.

Source: myjoyonline.com

History: Minority votes down gov’t’s attempt to take $1bn loan but...

History was made today when the Minority in Parliament won a vote to stop government from taking another one billion dollar Eurobond.

A motion by the Finance Minister, Seth Terkper, asking for parliamentary approval to borrow more lost by one vote.

67 Members of Parliament (MPs) voted against the motion, whilst 66 voted in favour.

A head count to establish the number of legislators voting in favour or against approval of the Eurobond became necessary after a voice vote proved impossible to determine whether the motion had been approved or not.

However in a dramatic turn, the Ebo Barton-Odro, First Deputy Speaker, announced that the number of Parliamentarians present in the House, i.e. 123, does not constitute a qurorum.

The House needs at least half of the total of 275 MPs to make a vote on a matter legitimate.

"It has been an exercise in futility," Ebo Barton-Odro said.

Source: myjoyonline.com

Kwabena Agyepong speaks

Suspended General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party, Kwabena Agyepong has responded to reasons the party says led to his indefinite suspension about a week ago.

In a statement, Mr Agyepong said he rejects all of the reasons ascribed by the NPP for my suspension, saying they are attempts to “impugn my reputation and tarnish my good name”.

The General Secretary was suspended for violating Article 3(D) of the party’s constitution which enjoins members to publicly uphold the decisions of the party, through various acts.

He was also accused of engaging in “unilateral actions and activities without consultation of, or authorization by the NEC.”

However, Mr Agyepong argues the charges leveled against him are unfounded.

 

Below is a copy of the full statement:

SETTTING THE RECORDS STRAIGHT: MY  RESPONSE TO THE COMMUNIQUE ISSUED BY THE DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS  OF THE NEW PATRIOTIC PARTY(NPP ) ON  THURSDAY DEC. 10TH 2015 ASCRIBING REASONS FOR MY  INDEFINITE SUSPENSION FROM THE OFFICE OF GENERAL SECRETARY.

On Thursday December 10 2015, the Director of Communications of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) issued a communiqué, on the meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC).  The communiqué confirmed the NEC’s endorsement of the Disciplinary Committee recommendation to suspend me indefinitely from office as General Secretary of the NPP.

After a detailed study and deep reflection on the communiqué, I wish to take this opportunity to repudiate and totally reject all of the reasons ascribed by the NPP for my suspension, especially any intended or unintended attempts to impugn my reputation and tarnish my good name.

I will like to first refresh our minds of the NPP’s charges and then go on to answer each one of them thoroughly, comprehensively and honestly. So here we go:

A)      Violation of Article 3(D) of the NPP constitution which enjoins members to publicly uphold the decisions of the party, through various acts including;

i.        His disregard for NEC decision on 23rd October, 2015, suspending Mr. Paul Afoko

The legality or otherwise of the NEC decision of 23rd October 2015, has been under judicial contention since the day it was taken. Indeed, it is now the subject of a formal law suit which is yet to be determined.

As General Secretary, I had to make a judgment call on how my conduct will best uphold the letter and spirit of the Party’s constitution and the laws of Ghana which also bind the operations of all political parties in the country.  This, I had made known earlier in a letter dated September 18, 2015 addressed to the Council of Elders and the National Disciplinary Committee.

It is therefore my humble opinion that pending the determination of the current legal action, the charge of disregarding the NEC decision of 23rd October 2015 is at best unproven.

ii.       Various Public statements he made that cast the Party in bad light.

I wish to state for the record that since September 2, 2015, when the Presidential Candidate called for a halt to all discussions of internal party issues in the media, I have not spoken in any shape or form that could be considered as putting the party in a bad light; whether by interview, press conference, response to personal attacks or on anyone’s behalf.

I stand ready to have the above assertion be proved otherwise by concrete and verifiable evidence.

B)      He engaged in unilateral actions and activities without consultation of, or authorization by the NEC, such as;

i.        Writing to the Electoral Commission designating only him and suspended Chairman Afoko as the only authorized signatories.

This charge is untrue. I have not, repeat, NOT written any such letter to the Electoral Commission; which fact could have easily be verified.

The facts are as follows: Earlier this year, the Deputy General Secretary and some Regional Chairmen wrote to the Electoral Commission (EC). The EC response was that as per the laid down procedures of the Commission, and in accordance with the Political Parties Act 2000, communication to the Commission is done mainly through party’s General Secretaries.

The EC followed up its response with an instruction to all political parties reminding them that all correspondence between it the EC and political parties should be done through the General Secretary/Chairman.

The EC further instructed that IPAC will from now on only admit three Representatives from each political party namely, the National Chairman, General Secretary and one other.

ii.       Granting waivers to parliamentary aspirants

The granting of waivers to parliamentary aspirants who have shown commitment to the Party by General Secretaries of the NPP is a precedent established by previous occupants of the position. For example, in 2011, the incumbent  General Secretary granted waivers to many including Anthony Karbo and  Dr. Ayew Afriyie without recourse to NEC or the NPP’s Steering Committee.

In my case, most of the waivers went to the Volta Region, at the request of the Regional Chairman, Mr. Peter Amewu; in constituencies where we have traditionally struggled to fill candidates.

In the case of Peter Mensah, the gentleman who suffered an acid attack in the course of duty as constituency organizer, I justifiably granted him a waiver after receiving the request from him and some executives of the Techiman North constituency. Development fees were waived for the following; former National Organizer Bamba; former MP Effah Dartey, former MP Mrs. Cecilia Amoah; as well as Dr. Ayew Afriyie who has supported the party through AFAG. The Steering Committee was accordingly informed.

There is no record of protest or indeed any disciplinary action against any of my predecessors for the actions or their reasons for granting waivers which also followed past precedence.

                   So obviously, this is ‘trumped up’ charge.

iii.      Non-reference of legal matters to the proper legal Committee of the Party

There are several past precedents where the party has acted outside of the constitutional committee in legal matters. For example, the immediate past administration instructed Madam Joyce Opoku Boateng to represent the party in court on the Manhyia, Kumawu and Juaben cases. The person assigned was NOT a member of the constitutional Committee neither was she appointed by same.

Perhaps it is important that we aver our mind to the historic election petition of 2013, which was not referred to the constitutional committee then headed by Hon. Ayikoi Otoo and the verifiable fact that none of the members of the constitutional committee, not even the Chairman, were on the Party’s legal team at the Supreme Court.

It will be recalled that the composition of the  Party’s legal team was decided on by the Presidential Candidate, National Chairman and General Secretary although it was the National Council that gave the green light to go to court

     iv.     Interference with Constituency primaries against National Appeal Committee decisions and also, Court decisions.

This is blatantly untrue and can be easily verified. There is no evidence to support this assertion. Rather, it can be easily established, through reference to minutes that I passed on the report of the National Appeals committee to the Steering Committee and the National Executive Committee without any alteration whatsoever.

Regrettably, this is another ‘trumped up’ charge without an iota of truth  

     v.       Misrepresentation/misleading of NEC on status of some constituency primaries

At the NEC meeting held on the 3rd of December, 2015, the General Secretary solicited the views and response of members of NEC on this accusation of Misrepresenting / misleading of NEC on status of some constituency primaries which came from the Member of Parliament for Adansi Asokwa, Hon. KT Hammond, who was also present in the meeting. When the question was put to the house, none confirmed this allegation.

It is useful to recall that at the NEC meeting held on August 18, 2015 when the decision was taken on the primaries in Adansi Asokwa, it was both the Ashanti Regional Chairman and the 3rd National Vice Chairman, whose views persuaded the NEC to overturn the National Appeals Committee decision to disqualify aspirant Mr. Richard Anokye and uphold the earlier regional vetting committee decision to allow him to contest in the parliamentary primaries.

Again the minutes of the were recorded and are available for verification

     vi.     He, in conjunction with suspended Chairman Afoko and Sammy Crabbe, launched Party cards without authorizations from NEC

Article 9 (5) 9a) of the NPP’s constitution enjoins the Party’s Finance Committee to raise funds to support the activities of the party. It states clearly that “It shall be the duty of the Finance Committee to raise funds necessary to finance the operations of the party in conformity with the applicable laws. It shall report on its activities to the National Chairperson.”

The Finance committee duly invited proposals and reviewed same from six companies. On a near unanimous vote, the committee accepted the proposal from   Paymanex Limited. Subsequently, the Party Chairman approved the recommendation of the committee which led to the actions taken to launch the card. The NEC was duly informed.

I want to reiterate that, for the avoidance of doubt, I placed all the foregoing facts before the Disciplinary Committee during my encounter with them. I was asked to recuse myself during the subsequent NEC meeting and therefore was denied the opportunity to participate in the deliberations.

I would to like state that the only purpose for putting out this statement is to correct the inaccuracies contained in the NPP communiqué of December 10 2015 and for no other purpose.

I believe there is already an ongoing action which will clarify the merits or otherwise of the legality of the removal of officers elected by the supreme body of the party, i.e.  The National Delegates Congress

My attention has also been drawn to a purported transcript of my encounter with the Disciplinary Committee of the NPP which was first published by myjoyonline.com. I wish to state categorically that I completely reject that doctored account which is only calculated to soil my good name through innuendos and aspersions.

I will deal separately and comprehensively with the allegations made in that false report and furnish all with a copy of the genuine minutes of the Disciplinary Committee as submitted to the NEC of the NPP.    

My commitment, dedication and long standing service to this tradition is a matter of public record. As a loyal member of this party, I shall continue to offer my support and prayers in our quest for victory in 2016.

 I take this opportunity to wish all members of the NPP and fellow citizens of Ghana a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

May God bless us

Long Live the NPP

Long Live the Republic of Ghana

Signed:                      

Kwabena Agyei Agyepong

Source: myjoyonline.com

Suspended General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party, Kwabena Agyepong has responded to reasons the party says led to his indefinite suspension about a week ago.

In a statement, Mr Agyepong said he rejects all of the reasons ascribed by the NPP for my suspension, saying they are attempts to “impugn my reputation and tarnish my good name”.

The General Secretary was suspended for violating Article 3(D) of the party’s constitution which enjoins members to publicly uphold the decisions of the party, through various acts.

He was also accused of engaging in “unilateral actions and activities without consultation of, or authorization by the NEC.”

However, Mr Agyepong argues the charges leveled against him are unfounded.

 

Below is a copy of the full statement:

SETTTING THE RECORDS STRAIGHT: MY  RESPONSE TO THE COMMUNIQUE ISSUED BY THE DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS  OF THE NEW PATRIOTIC PARTY(NPP ) ON  THURSDAY DEC. 10TH 2015 ASCRIBING REASONS FOR MY  INDEFINITE SUSPENSION FROM THE OFFICE OF GENERAL SECRETARY.

On Thursday December 10 2015, the Director of Communications of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) issued a communiqué, on the meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC).  The communiqué confirmed the NEC’s endorsement of the Disciplinary Committee recommendation to suspend me indefinitely from office as General Secretary of the NPP.

After a detailed study and deep reflection on the communiqué, I wish to take this opportunity to repudiate and totally reject all of the reasons ascribed by the NPP for my suspension, especially any intended or unintended attempts to impugn my reputation and tarnish my good name.

I will like to first refresh our minds of the NPP’s charges and then go on to answer each one of them thoroughly, comprehensively and honestly. So here we go:

A)      Violation of Article 3(D) of the NPP constitution which enjoins members to publicly uphold the decisions of the party, through various acts including;

i.        His disregard for NEC decision on 23rd October, 2015, suspending Mr. Paul Afoko

The legality or otherwise of the NEC decision of 23rd October 2015, has been under judicial contention since the day it was taken. Indeed, it is now the subject of a formal law suit which is yet to be determined. 

As General Secretary, I had to make a judgment call on how my conduct will best uphold the letter and spirit of the Party’s constitution and the laws of Ghana which also bind the operations of all political parties in the country.  This, I had made known earlier in a letter dated September 18, 2015 addressed to the Council of Elders and the National Disciplinary Committee.

It is therefore my humble opinion that pending the determination of the current legal action, the charge of disregarding the NEC decision of 23rd October 2015 is at best unproven.

ii.       Various Public statements he made that cast the Party in bad light.

I wish to state for the record that since September 2, 2015, when the Presidential Candidate called for a halt to all discussions of internal party issues in the media, I have not spoken in any shape or form that could be considered as putting the party in a bad light; whether by interview, press conference, response to personal attacks or on anyone’s behalf.

I stand ready to have the above assertion be proved otherwise by concrete and verifiable evidence.

B)      He engaged in unilateral actions and activities without consultation of, or authorization by the NEC, such as;

i.        Writing to the Electoral Commission designating only him and suspended Chairman Afoko as the only authorized signatories.

This charge is untrue. I have not, repeat, NOT written any such letter to the Electoral Commission; which fact could have easily be verified.

The facts are as follows: Earlier this year, the Deputy General Secretary and some Regional Chairmen wrote to the Electoral Commission (EC). The EC response was that as per the laid down procedures of the Commission, and in accordance with the Political Parties Act 2000, communication to the Commission is done mainly through party’s General Secretaries.

The EC followed up its response with an instruction to all political parties reminding them that all correspondence between it the EC and political parties should be done through the General Secretary/Chairman.

The EC further instructed that IPAC will from now on only admit three Representatives from each political party namely, the National Chairman, General Secretary and one other.

ii.       Granting waivers to parliamentary aspirants

The granting of waivers to parliamentary aspirants who have shown commitment to the Party by General Secretaries of the NPP is a precedent established by previous occupants of the position. For example, in 2011, the incumbent  General Secretary granted waivers to many including Anthony Karbo and  Dr. Ayew Afriyie without recourse to NEC or the NPP’s Steering Committee.

In my case, most of the waivers went to the Volta Region, at the request of the Regional Chairman, Mr. Peter Amewu; in constituencies where we have traditionally struggled to fill candidates.

In the case of Peter Mensah, the gentleman who suffered an acid attack in the course of duty as constituency organizer, I justifiably granted him a waiver after receiving the request from him and some executives of the Techiman North constituency. Development fees were waived for the following; former National Organizer Bamba; former MP Effah Dartey, former MP Mrs. Cecilia Amoah; as well as Dr. Ayew Afriyie who has supported the party through AFAG. The Steering Committee was accordingly informed.

There is no record of protest or indeed any disciplinary action against any of my predecessors for the actions or their reasons for granting waivers which also followed past precedence.

                   So obviously, this is ‘trumped up’ charge.

iii.      Non-reference of legal matters to the proper legal Committee of the Party

There are several past precedents where the party has acted outside of the constitutional committee in legal matters. For example, the immediate past administration instructed Madam Joyce Opoku Boateng to represent the party in court on the Manhyia, Kumawu and Juaben cases. The person assigned was NOT a member of the constitutional Committee neither was she appointed by same.

Perhaps it is important that we aver our mind to the historic election petition of 2013, which was not referred to the constitutional committee then headed by Hon. Ayikoi Otoo and the verifiable fact that none of the members of the constitutional committee, not even the Chairman, were on the Party’s legal team at the Supreme Court.

It will be recalled that the composition of the  Party’s legal team was decided on by the Presidential Candidate, National Chairman and General Secretary although it was the National Council that gave the green light to go to court

     iv.     Interference with Constituency primaries against National Appeal Committee decisions and also, Court decisions.

This is blatantly untrue and can be easily verified. There is no evidence to support this assertion. Rather, it can be easily established, through reference to minutes that I passed on the report of the National Appeals committee to the Steering Committee and the National Executive Committee without any alteration whatsoever.

Regrettably, this is another ‘trumped up’ charge without an iota of truth  

     v.       Misrepresentation/misleading of NEC on status of some constituency primaries

At the NEC meeting held on the 3rd of December, 2015, the General Secretary solicited the views and response of members of NEC on this accusation of Misrepresenting / misleading of NEC on status of some constituency primaries which came from the Member of Parliament for Adansi Asokwa, Hon. KT Hammond, who was also present in the meeting. When the question was put to the house, none confirmed this allegation.

It is useful to recall that at the NEC meeting held on August 18, 2015 when the decision was taken on the primaries in Adansi Asokwa, it was both the Ashanti Regional Chairman and the 3rd National Vice Chairman, whose views persuaded the NEC to overturn the National Appeals Committee decision to disqualify aspirant Mr. Richard Anokye and uphold the earlier regional vetting committee decision to allow him to contest in the parliamentary primaries.

Again the minutes of the were recorded and are available for verification

     vi.     He, in conjunction with suspended Chairman Afoko and Sammy Crabbe, launched Party cards without authorizations from NEC

Article 9 (5) 9a) of the NPP’s constitution enjoins the Party’s Finance Committee to raise funds to support the activities of the party. It states clearly that “It shall be the duty of the Finance Committee to raise funds necessary to finance the operations of the party in conformity with the applicable laws. It shall report on its activities to the National Chairperson.”

The Finance committee duly invited proposals and reviewed same from six companies. On a near unanimous vote, the committee accepted the proposal from   Paymanex Limited. Subsequently, the Party Chairman approved the recommendation of the committee which led to the actions taken to launch the card. The NEC was duly informed.

I want to reiterate that, for the avoidance of doubt, I placed all the foregoing facts before the Disciplinary Committee during my encounter with them. I was asked to recuse myself during the subsequent NEC meeting and therefore was denied the opportunity to participate in the deliberations.

I would to like state that the only purpose for putting out this statement is to correct the inaccuracies contained in the NPP communiqué of December 10 2015 and for no other purpose.

I believe there is already an ongoing action which will clarify the merits or otherwise of the legality of the removal of officers elected by the supreme body of the party, i.e.  The National Delegates Congress

My attention has also been drawn to a purported transcript of my encounter with the Disciplinary Committee of the NPP which was first published by myjoyonline.com. I wish to state categorically that I completely reject that doctored account which is only calculated to soil my good name through innuendos and aspersions.

I will deal separately and comprehensively with the allegations made in that false report and furnish all with a copy of the genuine minutes of the Disciplinary Committee as submitted to the NEC of the NPP.    

My commitment, dedication and long standing service to this tradition is a matter of public record. As a loyal member of this party, I shall continue to offer my support and prayers in our quest for victory in 2016.

 I take this opportunity to wish all members of the NPP and fellow citizens of Ghana a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

May God bless us

Long Live the NPP

Long Live the Republic of Ghana

Signed:                      

Kwabena Agyei Agyepong

- See more at: http://www.myjoyonline.com/politics/2015/December-22nd/kwabena-agyepong-refutes-reasons-for-suspension.php#sthash.BphLKvd8.dpuf

PNC's Abu Ramadan, one other sue EC over 2012 voters’ register

Former National Youth Organiser of the PNC Abu Ramadan has sued the Electoral Commission over non-credibility of the current voters’ register.

The PNC member and one Evans Nimako want the Supreme Court to declare the voters’ register null and void.

In a writ filed Tuesday, the two are praying the court to set aside “the 2012 voters' register and compel the electoral commission to compile a fresh voters’ register before any new public election or referendum is conducted in this country”.

 “A declaration that the 2012 voters' register which contains the name of persons who have not established qualification to be registered is inconsistent with article 42 and 45(a) and therefore unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect,” the writ further stated.

The suit comes in the wake of a huge cut in the budget for 2016 general elections by Parliament.

The electoral body in its presentation in parliament was silent on whether or not it will compile a fresh register.

The main opposition New Patriotic Party has been pushing for a more credible register. They say the current one is bloated and contains names of minors.

Meanwhile, the EC has set up a committee to probe the concerns that have been raised about the existing register. The committee is yet to submit a report.

Source: myjoyonline.com