Obasanjo, Kufuor Ask AU, ECOWAS To Intervene In Benin Crisis

 

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his Ghanaian counterpart, John Kufuor have asked the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to intervene in the crisis rocking the Benin Republic.

Both leaders made their position known in a joint statement released on Thursday by Obasanjo’s spokesman, Kehinde Akinyemi in Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital.

According to them, there was a need for the intervention in order to avoid escalation of the festering political crisis.

“The crisis in Benin calls for urgent action by ECOWAS and African Union (AU) to avert the escalation of the festering political unrest.”

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The former leaders believe that the country’s ongoing political crisis if not properly handled could worsen the security and humanitarian situation.

“We are of the view that all stakeholders should be carried along in the electoral process. In addition, the ongoing political crisis appears to be worsening the security and humanitarian situation which might open a floodgate to terrorist incursion that will lead to further destabilisation of the West-African sub-region, the statement read in part.”

They also want African leaders to rise to their responsibility by urgently intervening with a view to putting pressure on the incumbent administration to play the games of democracy by the rules.

The former leaders urged the AU and ECOWAS to send a strong delegation to appeal to President Talon to release his immediate predecessor who needs medical attention abroad.

Ghana’s New President Akufo-Addo Promises To Cut Taxes

Nana Akufo-Addo, GhanaGhana’s new President, Nana Akufo-Addo, has pledged to cut taxes to boost the economy.

Mr Akufo-Addo made the promise at his swearing in ceremony on Saturday.

He also pledged to protect the public purse by getting value for money on services.

The 72-year-old, who contested under the platform of the New Patriotic Party, was elected president on his third attempt to reach the post.

He defeated incumbent John Dramani Mahama in peaceful elections a month ago, a rare peaceful transfer of power in a region plagued by political crises.

The major cocoa and gold exporter is half-way through a three-year aid programme with the International Monetary Fund to fix an economy dogged by high public debt and inflation.

It is not clear how the new president will be able to cut taxes and still stick to an IMF austerity plan that was a condition of a $918 million bailout, Reuters reports.

“We will reduce taxes to recover the momentum of our economy,” said Akufo-Addo, wrapped in a traditional kaleidoscopic “kente” robe. “Ghana is open for business again.”

At the venue for the inauguration in Black Star Square, thousands of Ghanaians also draped in traditional kente garments clapped. Outside the perimeters, revellers drummed and danced.

Akufo-Addo suggested government money would be spent wisely.

“I shall protect the public purse by insisting on value for money,” he said. “Public service is just that: service, and (is) not be seen as an opportunity for making money.”

Ghana expects growth will return to above eight per cent in 2017 as new oil and gas fields from Tullow and ENI come on tap.

Akufo-Addo served as foreign minister and attorney general in the NPP government that ruled between 2001 and 2009. He twice previously lost close battles for the presidency. He is the son of a former chief justice and non-executive president of Ghana.

During his campaign, he had accused the Mahama administration of corruption and incompetence, charges the outgoing president denied. Mahama attended the ceremony.

It was also attended by dozens of African leaders and other international dignitaries, including Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, Chadian President Idris Deby, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and former UN chief Kofi Annan.

Akufo-Addo’s New Patriotic Party also won a majority of 169 seats in Parliament while the former ruling National Democratic Congress now has 106 seats.

The former human rights lawyer had also promised free high school education and more factories in Ghana.

 

ECOWAS, AU Election Observers Commend Nigerians, INEC, Security Agencies

ECOWASElection observers from the Economic Community Of West African States – ECOWAS and the African Union – AU, have described Nigeria’s presidential and parliamentary elections held on Saturday as transparent, successful and credible.

Both groups led by former presidents of Ghana and Liberia, Mr John Kufuor and Mr Amos Sawyer, said that the process so far meets basic criteria and standards for democratic elections in the region and around the world, despite the initial hiccups encountered.

They said that the commendable performance of the electoral officials, the impartial and exemplary coordination of security agencies and the high turnout and commitment of the voters far outweighed the challenges with election materials and security in some places.

Head of the African Union Observer Mission, Mr Amos Sawyer of Liberia, said that despite the initial problems with elections materials, isolated cases of violence in Bayelsa and Enugu states and extended elections in 350 polling units, the mission considers the process a success.

With 250 observers deployed through five regions excluding the north east, the head of the ECOWAS mission, former Ghanaian President, Mr John Kuffor, said Nigerian citizens, the electoral commission and the security agencies have done a good job so far.

He, however, said that they hoped the use of soldiers would be a one-off incidence.

The presidential and parliamentary elections of March 28 in Nigeria were marked by challenges of late arrival of election materials, as well as the failure of newly introduced card readers in many polling units across the country but these did not discourage Nigerians from exercising their franchise.

The perseverance and peaceful conduct of Nigerian voters has become one of the positive highlights of the elections.