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GAMBIA BEGINS NEW ERA AFTER UNPOPULAR LEADER PACKS AND RUNS 


Jan. 23, 2017 (GIN) – Former President of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, packed a Chadian cargo plane with luxury cars and went into exile late Saturday, barely missing the west African regional troops on their way to remove him by force if necessary.

Jammeh, who lost a re-election bid on Dec. 1 but resisted stepping down, accepted an invitation from Pres. Teodoro Obiang, a highly-unpopular leader in the Central African nation of Equatorial Guinea. This sparked objections by the opposition Convergence for Social Democracy (CDS), pointing out that Gambia’s instability was a result of ex-president Jammeh’s own refusal to relinquish power after 22 years.

"We are not against Pan-Africanism, but we are in favor of a more objective Pan-Africanism that does not consist in just bringing over the waste of Africa," the CDS said.

According to local media reports, Jammeh departed with two Rolls-Royces, a Mercedes-Benz and other cars and luxury items.

A diplomat, speaking to the New York Times, said Mr. Jammeh had tried to withdraw money from the Gambian central bank in recent weeks but was denied access. Two weeks ago, he shipped 22 vehicles to Mauritania.

Al Jazeera reported that Jammeh plundered state coffers in his final weeks in power, helping himself to over $11 million. An advisor to the new President, Adama Barrow, told reporters that “The coffers are largely empty… As we take over, the government of The Gambia is in financial distress.”

While President Barrow awaits a green light from the regional troops clearing out ‘secret weapons depots’ among Jammeh loyalists, he began naming his cabinet, starting with Ms. Fatoumatta Tambajang, a prominent pro-democracy activist, as Vice President.

Mrs. Tambajang was part of the opposition coalition that unseated Mr. Jammeh. A former United Nations Development Program gender/development expert, she also served as Minister of Health, Social Welfare and Women’s Affairs in the government of the ousted president.

As of press time, it was still unclear when Mr. Barrow would arrive. For now, he is camped out with family and aides in a house he owns in an upscale neighborhood in Dakar, working on naming his cabinet.

As Mr. Jammeh left the country, the United Nations, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States released a joint declaration saying they were committed to preventing the seizure of assets from the former president and his family and loyalists.

A Truth and Reconciliation Committee has been proposed. Ironically, Mr. Jammeh may even be allowed to relocate to the United States where he has a house in Potomac, Maryland. w/pix of Mr. and Mrs. Y. Jammeh


LIBERIAN WARLORD RECALLED AS HIS EVANGELICAL EX-WIFE THROWS HAT IN RING

Jan. 23, 2017 (GIN) – As Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s six year term in office draws to a close, political hopefuls are jockeying for position to fill the top seat. Among them is the ex-wife of convicted warlord Charles Taylor.

The selection of Sen. Jewel Howard-Taylor has resurrected, for some, the Taylor nightmare of a brutal war and the Senator’s role in a contentious campaign to Christianize Liberia which led to the persecution of Muslims and the destruction of some mosques.

The campaign was rejected by President Johnson Sirleaf, a United Methodist, who said efforts to declare Liberia a Christian state would create “division among the citizens based on religious belief.”

Nvasekie Konneh, a Liberian Muslim who opposed the campaign wrote on social media: “Since the 80’s through the 90’s, there has been constant concern among some Christians that ‘Muslims want to take over Liberia and impose Islam.’ When the war started in the 90s, some were saying that, “President Samuel Doe received a huge amount of money from President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida of Nigeria to turn Liberia into an Islamic State.”

That rumor, he said, encouraged “a systematic campaign not only to desecrate, demolish, or burn Mosques everywhere in Liberia, but also to kill Muslims as well; thousands of Muslims were killed in various places in Liberia. In some places, mosques were turned into night clubs, public toilets, or completely demolished.”

Supporters of a change to the Constitution say they were simply trying to restore language originally in the preamble to the constitution that the nation was built on a Christian foundation. They say that language was removed in 1986 when the constitution was amended.

“We are not asking for a statute legislating Christianity,” insisted Sen. Howard Taylor.

At a recent rally, presidential candidate George Weah  downplayed the religious theme. Introducing Howard-Taylor, he said that if he were to become president, the country would be "an environment in which all Liberians, including former presidents, will live freely."

Meanwhile, in her last State of the Union speech, titled “Accounting for our Stewardship”, the 78 year old “Ma Ellen” as she was known informally, wrote: “I have been a witness as our country has gone from civil unrest, dictatorship, anarchy and war; from the abuse of children conscripted as soldiers, pervasive sexual violence, and economic collapse; and then, finally, to peace, elections, development, and an open and dynamic civil society.

“When we commenced this journey in 2006, I had great expectations in the potential of reform and reconstruction. Today, we can say with pride that we have travelled a road of uninterrupted peace for these eleven years...

“We have young people who have never known war or civil conflict, who have not had to run, hide or cower in their homes. We have thousands of children back in school. We have farmers who have returned to their villages, refugees and professionals who are returning home. This peace is our greatest triumph.”

The full text of the speech can be found at FrontPageAfrica….  w/pix of Ms. J. Howard-Taylor

AFRICANS JOIN U.S. MARCH WITH DEMAND FOR WOMEN’S RIGHTS


Jan. 23, 2017 (GIN) – Kenyan women joined women’s marches Saturday for the protection of their rights, safety, families, health and the health of planet earth.

”Thank you to the organizers who made it happen and to the many people who turned out and made their voices heard.” wrote Julia Cumes on Nairobi’s women’s march Facebook event wall.

“Yesterday, I was thrilled to join my voice to the millions here and abroad to begin the resistance to the most dangerous president in US history,” wrote Reed Brody, a distinguished human rights lawyer working many years in Africa. “There were so many people in DC I didn't get to hear the great speeches, to which I'm now listening - Gloria Steinem, Alicia Keys, Angela Davis. I urge folks to take up Michael Moore's recommendations for action. WE are the majority, WE have the power. Let us create a hundred Standing Rocks. NO PASARAN!”

The marches were initiated by women in the US, standing together for the rights of women, Black, minority, ethnic and refugee groups, immigrants of all statuses, those with diverse religious faiths, people who identify as LGBTQIA, people with disabilities, the economically impoverished, and survivors of sexual assault, recognizing that an attack on one, is an attack on all.

In Kenya they marched to demand reproductive rights, women’s land and inheritance rights, and the implementation of the 2/3 rule. They also marched to end sexual harassment and assault, female genital mutilation, and the trafficking of women and children; and to end discrimination against LGBTQ people, sex workers, disabled women, HIV positive women, refugee women, women in the informal sector and other marginalized groups.

The Women’s March on Nairobi has been endorsed by Amnesty International Kenya, Center for Rights and Education Awareness (CREAW), Coalition for Grassroots Human Rights Defenders, COVAW (Coalition on Violence Against Women), Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK), HER VOICE, Human Rights Watch, Kenya Human Rights Commission, Kenya Sex Workers Alliance, Minority Women in Action, National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, and Progressive Americans in Kenya.

In Nigeria, the Women's March was scheduled to make its way to the House of Assembly in downtown Jos, where the nation's laws are voted on, to demand the passage of a controversial gender equality law.

The bill, which aims to eliminate all forms of gender related discrimination, provide girls with access to education, provide protections against sexual abuse and the "right to freedom," has already been voted down twice due to religious and cultural differences.

A hearing on the bill is set to happen in the next two weeks.

Meanwhile, among the first few executive orders by the new administration, Pres. Donald J. Trump has ruled that funding will be cut to health providers abroad who discuss abortion as a family-planning option.

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