Buhari, Merkel Address Press Conference in Abuja

LIVE: Buhari, Merkel Address Press Conference in Abuja

 

President Muhammadu Buhari and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are addressing a press conference in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Both leaders are addressing reporters shortly after Merkel arrived in the country in company with a German business delegation on Friday.

Watch the video below;

German Chancellor Angela Merkel To Visit Nigeria On Friday

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel (file)

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is to visit Nigeria on Friday.

The Personal Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on New Media, Bashir Ahmad, revealed this on Monday through his Twitter handle.

READ ALSOBritish PM, Theresa May To Visit Nigeria

President Buhari’s meeting with the German Chancellor is to take place two days after he hosts British Prime Minister, Theresa May, who is making her first official visit to Nigeria.

Merkel and May will also visit some African countries to discuss trade and investment, as well as foreign policy, among other issues.

German Leader, Merkel Faces Ultimatum From Ally Over Migrants

German Chancellor Angela Merkel passes by an EU flag as she leaves a press conference with NATO General Secretary in the Chancellery in Berlin on June 15, 2018, ahead of the alliance’s summit, overshadowed by tensions between Europeans and US. Michael Kappeler / dpa / AFP

 

Hardliners of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc are poised Monday to give the German leader an ultimatum to tighten asylum rules or risk pitching the country into a political crisis, as tensions over migration reignite across the EU.

Three years after her decision to open Germany’s borders to migrants fleeing war in Syria and Iraq and misery elsewhere, Merkel is still struggling to find a sustainable response to the complaints from her Bavarian allies CSU over her refugee policy.

Monday is “destiny day for Angela Merkel. For the government,” wrote the mass-circulation newspaper Bild on Sunday.

European Union countries are once again at loggerheads over migration, triggered by Italy’s recent refusal to allow a rescue ship carrying 630 migrants to dock.

Malta also turned the vessel away, sparking a major EU row until Spain agreed to take in the migrants.

In Germany, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer of the CSU has been one of the fiercest critics of Merkel’s liberal stance, under which a million asylum seekers have been admitted into Germany since 2015.

He now wants to turn away at the border new arrivals who have previously been registered in another EU country — often their first port of call, Italy or Greece.

But Merkel says that would leave countries at the EU’s geographic southern periphery alone to deal with the migrant influx.

Instead, she wants to find a common European solution at the June 28-29 EU summit.

Top brass from Merkel’s CDU and Seehofer’s CSU party are huddling for separate talks in Berlin and Munich.

Both party leaders are expected to address the media on Monday afternoon.

Ahead of the meetings, CSU secretary general Markus Blume said Seehofer’s “masterplan” on migration had the party’s “full support”.

Anti-immigrant boost 

Popular misgivings over the massive migrant influx have given populist and anti-immigration forces a boost across several European nations, including Italy and Austria where far-right parties are now sharing power.

In Germany, voters in September’s elections handed Merkel her poorest score ever, giving seats for the first time to the far-right anti-Islam AfD.

Several high profile crimes by migrants have also fuelled anger. They include a 2016 Christmas market attack by a failed Tunisian asylum seeker and the recent rape-murder of a teenage girl allegedly by an Iraqi.

With an eye on October’s Bavaria state election, the CSU is anxious to assure voters that it has a roadmap to curb the migrant influx.

Seehofer struck a more conciliatory tone when he told Bild on Sunday that “it is not in the CSU’s interest to topple the chancellor, to dissolve the CDU-CSU union or to break up the coalition.

“We just want to finally have a sustainable solution to send refugees back to the borders.”

He has the nuclear option of seeking approval from his party to shut Germany’s borders immediately in defiance of Merkel, or the less aggressive choice of giving her an ultimatum of two weeks to sort out a deal with other EU nations.

Signalling that he is leaning towards the latter option, Seehofer wrote in a column in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that “it is essential that the EU summit takes a decision at the end of June.

“The situation is serious but still solvable,” he wrote.

 ‘Almost a miracle’ 

An act of rebellion from Seehofer could force Merkel to sack him, which “would be the end of the government and the alliance between CDU and CSU,” an unnamed CDU source told Bild.

If Merkel is given a two-week ultimatum, she would still face the challenge of persuading EU governments to sign up to a common plan on the migrants.

Central and eastern EU nations such as Hungary and Poland have either refused outright or resisted taking in refugees under an EU quota system.

A populist-far right government in Italy, as well as the conservative-far right cabinet in neighbouring Austria, have also taken an uncompromising stance on immigration.

Merkel’s talks on Monday evening with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte could prove crucial if she is to have any chance of forging an agreement in Brussels.

On Tuesday, she will huddle with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Berlin is also reportedly preparing to call a meeting between Merkel and the leaders of several EU frontline nations in the migrant crisis ahead of the Brussels summit.

Welt daily said “it would be almost a miracle if she emerges a winner from the next EU summit.”

AFP

Buhari Congratulates German Chancellor Merkel On Re-Election

FILE PHOTO: President Muhammadu Buhari and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated German Chancellor, Angela Merkel on her re-election for another term.

President Buhari in a letter to the German leader said he was “most delighted to learn of the successful conclusion of the inter-Party negotiations to form a new Government after the last election in Germany.”

Special Adviser to Buhari on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina in a statement on Tuesday said Buhari attributed Merkel’s victory to her hard work.

READ ALSO: Former VP Sambo Keeps Mum After Meeting With Buhari

“It is a testimony of your hard-work, competence and trust of the German people, qualities which are much admired in many parts of the world especially here in Africa.

“We greatly value your humanity and concern for refugees,’’ Buhari said.

On behalf of the Government and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Buhari wished his German counterpart and her new Cabinet a successful new term of office.

According to President Buhari, Nigeria looks forward to greater cooperation with Germany.

Merkel Elected To Fourth Term As German Chancellor

BREAKING: Merkel Narrowly Elected To Fourth Term As German Chancellor
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is sworn in by the President of the German lower house of Parliament Bundestag Wolfgang Schaeuble during the government’s swearing-in ceremony at the Bundestag in Berlin on March 14, 2018, in Berlin. John MACDOUGALL / AFP

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, bruised by half a year of post-election coalition haggling, was Wednesday narrowly confirmed by parliament to her fourth and likely final term at the helm of Europe’s biggest economy.

Lawmakers in Berlin’s glass-domed Reichstag voted 364-315 with nine abstentions for Merkel, who was then formally appointed by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier before taking the oath of office.

The outcome of the secret ballot suggested 35 lawmakers of her new right-left coalition bloc voted against Merkel, giving her a thin nine-vote margin that opposition parties were quick to label a “rocky start” for a spent and joyless governing alliance.

Merkel, wearing a necklace in the national colours black-red-gold, nevertheless beamed with joy and relief as applause filled the Bundestag chamber, where her scientist husband Joachim Sauer and her 89-year-old mother Herlind Kasner were among the well-wishers.

For the veteran leader, the ceremony marked the end of a painful stretch of post-election paralysis, the deepest crisis of her 12-year career.

A right-wing populist rise in September elections weakened all mainstream parties and deprived Merkel of a majority, forcing her into another unhappy alliance with the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD).

The grand coalition, mockingly dubbed a “GroKo” in German, didn’t start as a “love marriage”, her designated vice chancellor and finance minister, the SPD’s Olaf Scholz, drily observed this week.

All coalition partners have nonetheless sought to allay fears that their marriage of convenience could break up mid-term, insisting they plan to jointly govern until 2021.

– Trip to Paris –

From 1600 GMT, Merkel sits down with her new cabinet, in which the SPD has wrested both the trophy posts of finance and foreign affairs to the dismay of a growing band of critics within her Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

To quieten the dissent, Merkel has named a sometimes outspoken critic, Jens Spahn, 37, as her new health minister and recently tapped a potential successor, new CDU general secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.

“The chancellor was, from time to time, written off in the past six months,” Marianne Kneuer of Hildesheim University told Phoenix TV.

“Many in the party started thinking about the future after Angela Merkel… but at the same time Merkel has strengthened her position again.”

On Friday Merkel will head to Paris to discuss EU reform plans with French President Emmanuel Macron ahead of a March 22-23 summit, after a lengthy stretch in which Berlin was hamstrung on the European and world stage.

Macron warned in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily that, without Germany on board, “part of my project would be doomed to failure”.

“We are completely dependent on each other. I do not believe for one second that a European project without or against Germany could succeed.”

Merkel’s incoming coalition has broadly welcomed Macron’s bold reform plans, meant to reinvigorate the bloc and counter extremists and populists who have made major gains in Western democracies.

She has argued that the EU must increasingly look after its own interests in the era of US President Donald Trump, who has questioned long-standing transatlantic defence ties and threatened a trade war.

Berlin advocates closer EU cooperation on defence, immigration and plans for a European Monetary Fund. But it is lukewarm on the idea of a joint eurozone finance minister and rejects any pooling of debt.

– ‘Zero tolerance’ –

The rise of populist fringe parties is also the central domestic threat for Merkel’s new coalition, which faces the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) as the biggest opposition party.

The AfD scored almost 13 percent in the election, capitalising on public fears over a mass influx of more than one million refugees and migrants since 2015 and angrily demanding that “Merkel must go”.

The shock rise of the AfD has come at the expense of the CDU, its Bavarian CSU allies and especially the SPD, all of which suffered their worst results in decades in September.

While Merkel’s last GroKo had a crushing 80 percent parliamentary majority, the margin has shrunk to 56 percent.

To answer the new right-wing threat, designated interior minister Horst Seehofer has pledged a “zero tolerance” law-and-order drive and faster deportations of failed asylum-seekers.

His new interior super-ministry also covers “Heimat” or homeland affairs, a term much derided for evoking Alpine vistas, beer and bratwurst but intended to recapture claims to patriotism from the AfD.

Scholz has meanwhile promised to tackle another fear exploited by populists, of vanishing jobs in the age of globalisation and rapid technological change.

“When we look at the Trump election, Brexit and the success of right-wing populist parties in many European countries,” Scholz said, “we see there is a clear need to find new answers to the challenges of the 21st century.”

AFP

German Parties In Final Push For New Merkel Government

(FILE PHOTO) German Chancellor, Angela Merkel              Photo Credit: AFP

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the centre-left Social Democrats embark on a final round of talks Tuesday to seal a coalition deal and end months of political limbo in Europe’s top economy.

After marathon talks Monday, negotiators from Merkel’s CDU party, her Bavarian CSU ally and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) are to reconvene in Berlin at 10:00 am (0900 GMT) for one last push to clinch an agreement on a renewed “grand coalition”.

Despite the protracted haggling — the talks were initially supposed to end at the weekend — the parties sounded upbeat on meeting Tuesday’s self-imposed deadline.

“I remain optimistic,” said Daniel Guenther, the CDU premier of the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein.

Party sources said the main sticking points were disagreements over healthcare, labour policy and defence spending.

Julia Kloeckner, deputy of Merkel’s CDU party, said she expected talks to once again run into the night Tuesday , meaning it could take until Wednesday for a coalition treaty to be formally presented.

Merkel, in power for over 12 years, has pinned her hopes for a fourth term on a repeat alliance with the SPD after September’s inconclusive election left her without a ruling majority.

But commentators have already dubbed the tie-up a “coalition of losers” after both parties slumped to their worst results in decades in the polls, while the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) took nearly 13 percent of the vote.

 SPD to have final say 

Merkel initially sought to form a three-way alliance with the Greens and the liberals, but those talks broke down in acrimony in November.

Faced with the option of snap polls that could further boost the AfD or the prospect of heading an unstable minority government, Merkel opted to woo back the SPD — her junior partner for two of her three terms since 2005.

After at first ruling out another four years in Merkel’s shadow, SPD leader Martin Schulz backtracked — a U-turn that angered many grassroots SPD supporters who hoped to reinvent the party from the opposition benches.

At a special congress in January, SPD delegates narrowly voted to pursue coalition talks.

But even if both sides end up signing a coalition agreement that lays out the next government’s policies, a new Merkel-led government is not yet guaranteed.

Schulz has promised to put any coalition accord to a yes-or-no referendum by the SPD’s 440,000 rank-and-file members.

Observers expect the vote to be tight, with the SPD’s left and youth wings fiercely opposed to another “GroKo”, as the grand coalition is known in German.

The SPD referendum result is expected in early March. If all goes well for Merkel, a new government could be in place by the end of next month.

Stumbling blocks 

Often described as Europe’s most powerful woman, Merkel’s struggles to form a government have harmed her political standing at home and abroad.

Germany’s European partners in particular are eager for an end to the gridlock in Berlin that has held up decision-making at a time when French President Emmanuel Macron is pushing for major EU reforms.

Although Merkel and the SPD are open to the French plans for deeper eurozone integration, the SPD is more enthusiastic about some of Macron’s more ambitious proposals such as a joint eurozone budget and finance minister.

In a message to party members Monday, Schulz said the would-be coalition partners had successfully finished the European chapter of their talks.

While details remained vague, the former European Parliament chief said they had agreed to invest more in the eurozone, support a eurozone investment budget and end “the austerity diktat”.

But they are still at loggerheads about the SPD’s demands to ban short-term work contracts and overhaul Germany’s two-tier healthcare system.

They also remain at odds on boosting defence spending, party sources told DPA news agency.

While Merkel’s conservatives want to increase spending to bring it closer to NATO targets, as demanded by US President Donald Trump, the SPD is known to be sceptical.

A new survey for Bild newspaper Tuesday found that the lengthy coalition wrangling has hurt both mainstream parties.

Support for the CDU/CSU fell from 33 to 30.5 percent in the Insa poll, while the SPD slumped from September’s historic low of 20.5 percent to 17 percent — leaving the “GroKo” hopefuls without a combined majority.

The AfD meanwhile scored a record 15 percent.

AFP

German Ex-Leader Schroeder To Remarry For 5th Time

Former chancellor of Germany Gerhard Schroeder (R) poses with his South Korean partner Kim So-Yeon as they attend a press conference at the Korea Press Centre in Seoul on January 25, 2018. YONHAP / AFP

 

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder will marry a South Korean translator 26 years his junior after his fourth marriage fell apart, he said Thursday.

The 73-year-old former German leader – whose colourful private life and multiple marriages earned him the nickname “Audi man”, a reference to the German carmaker’s four-ring symbol – said that he would wed Kim So-Yeon this year.

“I’ve already met her family,” he told a press conference in Seoul where the smiling couple stood arm-in-arm in front of the cameras.

“The wedding will probably be held in the fall and the exact venue and timing will be decided later.”

Kim, 47, is a Seoul representative of the Economic Development Agency of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and has worked as a Korean translator for Schroeder.

Their relationship emerged last September when Doris Schroeder Kopf, Schroeder’s fourth wife, said in the process of divorcing him that Kim had played a part in the breakup.

Schroeder insisted Thursday that Kim had nothing to do with the breakup but said he would spend the rest of his life travelling back and forth between Germany and the South.

“I have tremendous interest in South Korea’s history, culture and arts and… would like to have more opportunities to learn more about South Koreans and the country’s heritage,” he said.

Social Democrat Schroeder served as German chancellor from 1998 to 2005 and instituted labour market and welfare reforms which angered the Left of his party.

Dangote’s Worth Drops By 32%

Dangote's Worth Drops By 32%Nigerian born Africa’s richest man, Mr Aliko Dangote, has lost 32% of his wealth.

Bloomberg reports that the president of the Dangote Group, lost 4.9 billion dollars in June, representing one-third of his wealth.

The decline resulted from the effect of falling oil prices and the devaluation of the naira, dragging the magnate’s ranking to 112 on world’s billionaires’ list.

With a total value of 10.4 billion dollars, Mr Dangote was the world’s 46th-richest person as at June 2016.

Aliko Dangote was also recently named as the second most powerful person on the African continent.

In the latest edition of its 74 world most powerful people, Forbes Magazine named billionaire Dangote along with 70 others including Russian President, Vladimir Putin; US President-Elect, Donald Trump; and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.

Mr Dangote is listed as number 71 ahead of Trump, and the 68th most powerful in the world for this year.

The business mogul has constantly featured on the list since 2013 when he was listed as the only black African among 100 most powerful persons on the planet.

As of 2013, Dangote was the only African listed among the most powerful people in the world before the Egyptian president, Abdel El-Sisi recently featured on the list.

Aliko Dangote Among Forbes World’s Most Powerful

Dangote Among Forbes World’s Most PowerfulAfrica’s richest man and Nigerian-born head of the Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, has been named as the second most powerful person on the continent.

In the latest edition of its 74 world most powerful people, Forbes Magazine named billionaire Dangote along with 70 others including Russian President, Vladimir Putin; US President-Elect, Donald Trump; and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.

Mr Dangote is listed as number 71 ahead of Trump, and the 68th most powerful in the world for this year.

The business mogul has constantly featured on the list since 2013 when he was listed as the only black African among 100 most powerful persons on the planet.

As of 2013, Dangote was the only African listed among the most powerful people in the world before the Egyptian president, Abdel El-Sisi recently featured on the list.

 

Merkel To Seek Fourth Term As German Chancellor

Angela MerkelAngela Merkel told top members of her party on Sunday that she wants to run for a fourth term as German chancellor in next year’s election.

Reuters reports that senior party sources gave a hint of her plan after months of speculation about one of the world’s most powerful women.

Despite a voter backlash over her open-door migrant policy, the conservative is seen as a stabilising force in Europe amid uncertainty caused by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and the election of Donald Trump as the next U.S. president.

Merkel told leading figures in her Christian Democrat (CDU) party about her intentions at a meeting to prepare for the September election, several participants said.

Colleagues welcomed the long-awaited decision, which she is expected to announce at a news conference at 18:00 GMT.
“Angela Merkel stands for stability, reliability and thoughtfulness,” senior CDU politician, Julia Kloeckner, said.

“With her straightforward and calm nature she had led us safely through the financial and economic crises,” she told the Rheinische Post newspaper.

Merkel, 62, has steered Europe’s biggest economy through the euro zone debt crisis and has won respect internationally, for example with her efforts to help solve the Ukraine crisis. U.S. President Barack Obama last week described her as an “outstanding” ally.

With Trump’s victory in the United States and the rise in support for right-wing parties in Europe, some commentators see Merkel as a bastion of Western liberal values.

I Have Superior Knowledge Over My Wife – Buhari

Buhari, Aisha BuhariNigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, has dismissed the comments attributed to his wife, Aisha Buhari, on the formation of his government.

He gave the reaction when journalists asked him to comment on his wife’s statement on BBC.

According to her, people who did not share the vision of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), had been appointed to top posts because of the influence of certain people.

After laughing off the comments, the President said: “I don’t know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room, and the other room”.

His response also elicited laughter from German Chancellor, Angela Merkel who was standing by the President’s side.

The President went on to say: “I claim superior knowledge over her and the rest of the opposition, because in the end I have succeeded.

“It is not easy to satisfy the whole Nigerian opposition parties or to participate in the government”.

President Buhari, who is currently on a second working visit to Germany since assuming office, will during his meeting with German Chancellor discuss issues of shared interests between Nigeria and Germany.

The issues comprise further cooperation on security, the humanitarian situation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and rehabilitation of the northeast, as well as trade and economic relations between both countries.

Berlin State Poll: Losses For Merkel’s CDU, Gains For AFD

MerkelThe Political Party of Germany Chancellor, Angela Merkel, the CDU, has suffered historic losses in Berlin state elections.

It has been ousted from the state governing coalition with the centre-left social democrats.

Meanwhile the right-wing anti-migrant party alternative for Germany (AFD) made gains and will enter the state parliament for the first time.

Mrs Merkel’s popularity has waned since her decision in 2015 to allow more than a million migrants into Germany.

The CDU won 17.6% of the vote – its worst-ever result in Berlin.

It is the party’s second electoral blow in two weeks, having been pushed into third place by the AFD at the beginning of the month.

“There is no question, we didn’t get a good result in Berlin today,” said Michael Grosse-Broemer, a senior CDU politician. However, he blamed his party’s historic losses in Berlin primarily on local issues.

“I think it is dangerous to transfer the Berlin result to the federal level,” he told broadcaster ZDF.

The AfD has campaigned heavily on the migrant issue, playing to voters’ fears about the integration of the roughly 1 million migrants who entered Germany in 2015.

“From zero to double digits, that’s unique for Berlin. The grand coalition has been voted out – not yet at the federal level, but that will happen next year,” said AfD candidate Georg Pazderski to cheering supporters after the results.