Zuma, Latest On List Of Leaders Forced Out Over Legal Troubles

(FILE PHOTO) Former South African President, Jacob Zuma                                                            PHOTO: ALEXANDER JOE / AFP

 

Jacob Zuma stood down as South African president after nine years in power marked by corruption scandals and court action. Here are some other world leaders forced out of office facing legal charges.

 Latin America 

– BRAZIL: President Fernando Color de Mello, accused of corruption, steps down in December 1992 at the opening of an impeachment hearing.

The case is dropped in 1994. As a senator, he is again put on trial in 2017 over the wide-reaching graft scandal involving oil giant Petrobras.

In 2016, Dilma Rousseff is forced out as president in an impeachment trial launched by her rivals in the Senate. She denies accusations of financial wrongdoing in office and has not been tried in court.

– ECUADOR: Vice president Jorge Glas is sentenced to six years in jail in December 2017 for receiving kickbacks from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht. He is removed from office the following month.

– GUATEMALA: President Otto Perez, accused of being part of a ring that took bribes over taxes, is stripped of immunity in September 2015. Facing impeachment, he stands down two days later.

The courts order in October 2017 that he should stand trial for racketeering, illicit enrichment and fraud.

– PERU: President Alberto Fujimori is impeached in November 2000 by Congress “for permanent moral incapacity”. He leaves the country and resigns by fax.

Later extradited back to Peru, he is sentenced to 25 years in prison for having ordered the massacre of civilians and for corruption. He is granted a controversial presidential pardon in December 2017.

– VENEZUELA: President Carlos Andres Perez, accused of financial fraud, is suspended from office in 1993 after a unanimous vote in the Senate. He is sentenced in 1996 to two years and four months in prison.

Europe 

– CROATIA: Prime minister Ivo Sanader resigns in July 2009 amid suspicions of embezzlement. He is jailed from July to December 2011.

In April 2017 he is again sentenced to four and a half years in jail for taking bribes while in power. He is also indicted in three other graft cases involving millions of euros.

– GERMANY: Facing charges of influence-peddling, federal president Christian Wulff resigns in February 2012 after his immunity is lifted. He is later cleared.

– ROMANIA: Prime minister Victor Ponta is put on trial in July 2015 for fraud, tax evasion and money laundering dating back to before he took office. He hangs on to power but resigns in November 2015 after protests following a deadly fire in the capital.

 Israel 

President Ezer Weizman is forced to stand down to avoid impeachment in July 2000 following a tax evasion and corruption scandal.

In June 2007 president Moshe Katzav quits following a sex scandal. He is convicted and put behind bars in 2011.

The following year, prime minister Ehud Olmert resigns after police recommend he be indicted for graft. He remains in office until March 2009 but is jailed. Olmert is freed in July 2017 after being granted parole from a 27-month sentence.

Police on February 13, 2018 say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should be indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of public trust. He denounces the recommendations and rejects calls to step down.

AFP

Sacked Catalan Leaders Get Pride Of Place In Electoral Lists

Jailed and exiled figures from Catalonia’s separatist movement feature prominently in party lists unveiled by the region’s pro-independence factions, ahead of elections called for December 21.

Of the 14 members of the Catalan government who were dismissed by the central government in October, 12 are on the two main separatist lists, the “Together for Catalonia” group of sacked president Carles Puigdemont and the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), led by his vice president Oriol Junqueras.

Seven of the former officials, including Junqueras, are currently jailed pending an investigation into charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds, while Puigdemont and four others are in Belgium fighting an extradition request filed by Spain.

Prosecutors in Brussels asked a judge Friday to extradite Puigdemont and the others, and a new hearing has been set for December 4.

But a final decision could still be months away, as both sides are expected to appeal if the judge rules against them, which means Puigdemont might be out of the country when the Catalonia vote is held.

Junqueras and the others being held may be released before the election.

Puigdemont presented on Twitter the lists backed by his conservative PDeCAT party, saying the candidates supported “independence, the republic and freedom”, as well as the restitution of the regional government and “a return of political prisoners and exiles”.

He had hoped to form a united separatist front for the new elections, as was the case in the region’s last elections in 2015, when the pro-independence camp secured a majority of 72 seats in the 135-seat parliament.

But the ERC rejected a joint ticket, and opinion polls suggest that while it is leading in the current campaign, which officially opens on December 5, the independence coalition as a whole could lose its absolute majority.

The polls indicate a tight race against the “Constitutionalist” bloc which favours Spanish unity, which includes Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s Popular Party (PP), the centrist Ciudadanos and Catalonia’s Socialist party.

Madrid has imposed direct rule on the once semi-autonomous region since the independence declaration made after a banned referendum on October 1, and called the new elections in a bid to “restore normality”.

Regional authorities said 90 percent chose to split from Spain, though less than half of eligible voters turned out in a region deeply divided on independence.

Nigeria’s Economy Should Be Built To Adapt To Current Trends – Osinbajo

Yemi Osinbajo on NigeriaNigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, says there is need to ensure that the economy of the nation is built to adapt to the physical, social and technological trends of the present generation.

Professor Osinbajo made the statement on Friday during a two-day economic and investment summit in Delta State, south-south Nigeria.

He further stressed the need for Nigerian leaders to build relationships based on trust with the citizenry.

“Truth on the part of a leader, plays a critical role in the development and prosperity of Nigeria,” he stated.

The summit was organised by the Delta State government, as part of the activities to mark the 25th anniversary since Delta State was created.

Speaking to delegates at the event, the Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, emphasised the need to build a strong, robust and resilient economy.

Present at the summit are the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun and a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Professor Charles Soludo among others.

New Petrol Pump Price Enjoys High Compliance Nationwide

petrolThere seems be high compliance level for the new pump price of petrol across the country.

This is according to Channels TV correspondents, who visited petrol stations across the country.

While petrol is selling at between 86 naira and 86.50 in Abuja, the product is selling for N87 per litre in Kano.

Many petrol stations in the Federal Capital Territory have been nearly empty with just two to three cars at the fuel pumps at a time.

At the NNPC filling station visited, the pump price was 86 naira per litre and the station manager who spoke off camera said that the new pump price was put in place as soon as government announced the reduction.

Other filling stations visited; Conoil, Oando, Forte Oil, were selling at N86.50k per litre.

Vehicle owners buying at the new rate said that they were happy that the product was available whether or not there is a reduction in pump price.

They also said that the 50 kobo reduction would be taken as a sign of better things to come.

However, one customer asked that federal government pay attention also to the pump price and availability of kerosene which he said is used by a greater number of Nigerians, especially the poor.

For the oil majors in Lagos, they have reverted to the approved rate of N86.50k, while the same may not be said of independent marketers who are still selling above the recommended retail price.

The situation seems to be bad in Ogun State where the product is still selling for between N110 and N120 per litre except for the capital city, Abeokuta where the NNPC mega station is selling at the new pump price.

PDP Leaders Kick Against Removal Of Petroleum Subsidy

pdpLeaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kaduna State have kicked against the proposed removal of petrol subsidy by the Federal Government.

Speaking during a one-day conference organised by the Kaduna State PDP Youth Patriotic Front held in Kafanchan, the party leaders including the minority leader of the House of Representatives, Yakaubu Barde, and the Senator representing Southern Kaduna District, Danjuma Laah, wondered why the same All Progressive Congress-led government that opposed the move by former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration to remove petrol subsidy 2011, is planning to do same.

Barde specifically faulted the former Governor of Lagos State and National Leader of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, for his recent call for the removal of petrol subsidy.

He noted that Tinubu’s insistence on President Buhari removing fuel subsidy come January 2016 was quite unfortunate in many respects, and another misadventure of the National Leader of the APC and his party.

According to the PDP leaders, the only reason the issue of fuel subsidy had continued to recur was because Nigeria imports petroleum products for domestic consumption.

They warned that so long as importation continues, the problem that the government sets out to confront would continue like a recurring decimal.

The event was attended by prominent members of the PDP from the Southern Kaduna Senatorial Zone, including former Minister of Aviation, Mr Hassan Hyet, Senator Danjuma Laah, the State PDP Chairman, Mr Abubakar Haruna, former Deputy Speaker of Kaduna State House of Assembly, Dogara Mato, former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Mark Jacob, and many former Commissioners.

Putin Announces Ceasefire Deal With Ukraine

Ukraine Presidentukraine, Vladimir Putin, has announced ceasefire after meeting all night in Belarus with leaders of Russia, France and Germany, to secure a peace deal. The leaders of Russia and Ukraine have announced that ceasefire will begin in Eastern Ukraine on 15 February.

After marathon talks with leaders of Ukraine, France and Germany, Russia President, Vladimir Putin said “We have managed to agree on the main issues.”

French President, Francois Hollande also said it was a “serious deal” but not everything had been agreed.

The meeting in Belarus – which began on Wednesday – was focused on securing a ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy weapons and creating a demilitarized zone in Eastern Ukraine.

Before the meeting started, the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko had said that achieving a ceasefire was significant. Thousands of people have been killed and indisposed in the fighting.

Russia has been accused of arming and reinforcing pro-Russian rebels in east Ukraine, a claim That was denied.  The talks are set to focus on securing a ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy weapons and creating a demilitarized zone.

The Ukrainian and Russian presidents barely looked at each other when they were forced to shake hands. At a family photo of the leaders, not a single person was smiling. There was even an image of Vladimir Putin inside the negotiations snapping a pencil in two.

Heavy shelling was reported in the rebel-held city of Luhansk; by a freelance reporter, Pierre Sautreuil, (in French) that a rebel military base seemed to be the target of one bombardment in the south-east of the city.

Mr Poroshenko had earlier said that the situation threatened to spin “out of control” if the parties did not agree to ceasefire.

The Ukrainian warned that his government was prepared to impose martial law, adding that the Minsk summit was one of the final chances to bring about an unconditional ceasefire and withdrawal of heavy weapons.

US President Barack Obama has refused to rule out supplying “lethal defensive weapons” to Kiev if diplomacy fails, but Russia says that would worsen the crisis.

Group of Seven Agrees Swift Sanctions Against Kremlin Over Ukraine

Leaders of the Group of Seven major economies agreed to impose extra sanctions on Russia over its intervention in Ukraine, where armed pro-Moscow separatists detained a group of international observers and accused them of being NATO spies.A pro-Russian armed man stands guard at a barricade near the state security service building in Slaviansk

The United States said as part of the new punitive measures, which U.S. officials said would target “cronies” of Russian President Vladimir Putin, could be unveiled as early as Monday unless Russia moved fast to defuse the Ukraine crisis.

Meeting in South Korea, the G7 leaders said Russia had not taken any concrete steps to implement an accord, signed in Geneva, that was intended to rein in illegal armed groups.

“Instead, it has continued to escalate tensions by increasingly concentrating on rhetorics and threatening military manoeuvre on Ukraine’s border,” the G7 leaders in Seoul, who included U.S. President Barack Obama, said in a statement after their meeting.

“We have now agreed that we will move swiftly to impose additional sanctions on Russia,” it said. “We have committed to act urgently to intensify targeted sanctions and measures to increase the costs of Russia’s actions.”

But it added: “We underscore that the door remains open to a diplomatic resolution of this crisis.”

Russia denies it is to blame for the crisis in eastern Ukraine, where armed pro-Russian separatists have taken control of about a dozen official buildings and are defying the rule of the Western-backed government in the capital, Kiev.

The Kremlin argues that the crisis began when a new leadership took over in Kiev, in what Moscow calls a coup d’etat, and started persecuting the Russian-speaking community in the east for wanting closer ties with Russia.

The crisis has brought relations between Russia and the West to their lowest level since the Cold War, and is increasingly turning into a military stand-off.

Russia has massed troops and helicopters on the border with Ukraine where it says they are conducting exercises, while NATO has deployed extra forces in eastern Europe, saying they are needed to reassure its allies.

OBSERVERS HELD

The international observers were being held in the eastern city of Slaviansk, a flashpoint between the Moscow-backed separatists who control the city, and Kiev’s forces who are trying to squeeze them out.

They were part of a German-led monitoring mission visiting the area under the aegis of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a Vienna-based body whose 57 member states include Russia.

The group was made up of eight observers, including nationals from Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Poland and the Czech Republic, along with several Ukrainian army officers who were accompanying them, the OSCE said.

On Saturday, the separatists invited journalists from Russian media into the building where the observers are being held, and showed military identification cards and military insignia they said were taken from the detainees.

That, the separatists said, was proof that they were not observers but were spying for NATO, according to reports in Russian media. It is standard practice for serving military officers to be seconded to OSCE missions.

“It is critical that we use all diplomatic channels to free this team immediately and unhurt,” German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said.

Russia’s envoy to the OSCE said Moscow would take all steps to free the observers, Russian news agencies reported.