Thousands Converge On Hong Kong Police HQ In Anti-Govt Protest

Protesters gather on a road outside the police headquarters in Hong Kong on June 21, 2019. Thousands of protesters converged on Hong Kong’s police headquarters and blocked major roads on June 21, demanding the resignation of the city’s pro-Beijing leader and the release of anti-government demonstrators arrested during the territory’s worst political crisis in decades.
PHOTO: Anthony WALLACE / AFP

 

Thousands of protesters converged on Hong Kong’s police headquarters Friday, demanding the resignation of the city’s pro-Beijing leader and the release of demonstrators arrested during the territory’s worst political crisis in decades.

The latest protest comes after the government refused to meet the demands of demonstrators who have marched in their millions to oppose a bill that would allow extraditions to the Chinese mainland.

Opposition groups, after putting on the biggest political rallies in Hong Kong’s history, have called for the complete withdrawal of the extradition legislation and for city leader Carrie Lam to step down.

But the movement has also morphed into a wider expression of public anger at Lam and party leaders in Beijing after years of sliding political freedoms.

Throughout Friday the predominantly young, leaderless protesters used spontaneity and movement to up pressure on authorities, deploying peaceful civil disobedience.

After meeting at Hong Kong’s main government complex before rush hour, hundreds of black-clad protesters — many wearing face masks and shouting anti-government slogans — temporarily blocked a major city artery.

They then marched in the searing heat to the police headquarters, many chanting “release the righteous” and “shame on police thugs” — references to those detained during violence last week between demonstrators and the police.

‘Flow like water’

Opposition groups have demanded an investigation into allegations of police brutality and the release of those detained during the clashes, in addition to Lam’s ouster and cancellation of the extradition bill.

Some protesters removed metal barricades and re-arranged them in an apparent bid to fortify their positions outside the police headquarters, as officials closed the gate to the facility’s main driveway.

Police held back from any response and a senior officer told reporters a negotiating team would be sent to speak with the demonstrators.

Separately, a smaller group of protesters briefly blocked entrances to the city’s nearby immigration and revenue departments.

“We need to flow like water”, to be able to retreat and regroup and adapt, said protester Chris, referencing a famous quote from martial arts superstar and Hong Kong legend Bruce Lee.

Another protester likened the crowds to artificial intelligence. “They learn from themselves, nobody really teaches them, they just adapt to different situations,” said Bernard, 21.

 ‘Blossom everywhere’

The call for Friday’s demonstration was made by the city’s student unions, as well as informal organisers over social media and messaging apps like Telegram.

“Blossom everywhere,” read a statement circulated Thursday in a Telegram chat group.

“There are many ways to participate. Think carefully about your own ways to show your love to Hong Kong. June 21 is not the end of the fight, there will be more in the coming days.”

Lam has so far defied calls to step down, and while she has apologised and suspended the bill indefinitely, it has failed to quell anger.

Although Hong Kong was returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997, it is still administered separately under an arrangement known as “One country, two systems”.

The city enjoys freedoms unseen on the mainland but many residents have been alarmed in recent years by what they feel is a tighter grip by Beijing.

Opponents of the extradition bill fear it will ensnare the people of Hong Kong in mainland China’s opaque and politicised justice system, and also give Beijing a tool to target critics based in the semi-autonomous territory.

The Chinese government had supported the extradition proposal, and accused protest organisers of colluding with Western governments.

But Beijing said after the bill’s suspension that it respected and understood the decision.

Separately on Friday, former Philippine foreign minister Albert del Rosario — a critic of China’s claims in the disputed South China Sea — was denied entry into Hong Kong and deported, his lawyer said, adding that he was not given a reason for the expulsion.

Hong Kong immigration authorities did not immediately respond to AFP’s request for comment on the matter.

AFP

Italy Plunges Into Political Crisis After Government Talks Collapse

 

Italy Plunges Into Political Crisis After Government Talks Collapse
Italy’s Prime minister candidate Giuseppe Conte leaves after a meeting with Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella on May 27, 2018, at the Quirinale presidential palace in Rome.
Photo: Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

 

Italy could be forced to hold new elections after Giuseppe Conte gave up his bid to form a government following the collapse of talks with the president over including a eurosceptic economy minister in his cabinet.

Conte, 53, a lawyer and political novice, picked for prime minister by the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and far-right League seeking to create a coalition government, was given the green light to form his cabinet on Wednesday, but he still had to present a list of ministers that the head of state would agreed to before his government could seek approval in parliament.

“I have given up my mandate to form the government of change,” said Conte to reporters after leaving failed talks with President Sergio Mattarella.

Conte’s decision to step aside leaves Italy in a political crisis nearly three months after March’s inconclusive general election.

Following the collapsed talks, Mattarella has summoned Carlo Cottarelli, former director of the International Monetary Fund’s fiscal affairs department, for talks on Monday, with a temporary technical government now looking inevitable as Italy faces the strong possibility of new elections in the autumn.

Cottarelli, 64, worked at the International Monetary Fund from 2008 to 2013 and became known as “Mr Scissors” for making cuts to public spending in Italy.

Savona choice sinks deal

Mattarella confirmed that the nomination by the Five Star Movement and the League of Paolo Savona for economy minister saw the end of Conte’s brief mandate.

In his latest book, “Like a Nightmare and a Dream”, 81-year-old Savona calls the euro a “German cage” and says that Italy needs a plan to leave the single currency “if necessary”.

“I accepted every proposed minister apart from the minister of the economy,” Mattarella told reporters.

A former judge of Italy’s constitutional court, Mattarella has refused to bow to what he saw as “diktats” from the two parties which he considered contrary to the country’s interests.

He had watched for weeks as Five Star and the League set about trying to strike an alliance that would give Italy’s hung parliament a majority.

The president said that he has done “everything possible” to aid the formation of a government, but that an openly eurosceptic economy minister ran against the parties’ joint programme promise to simply “change Europe for the better from an Italian point of view”.

“I asked for the (economy) ministry an authoritative person from the parliamentary majority who is consistent with the government programme… who isn’t seen as a supporter of a line that could probably, or even inevitably, provoke Italy’s exit from the euro,” he added.

Mattarella said Conte refused to support “any other solution” and then, faced with the president’s refusal to approve the choice of Savona, gave up his mandate to be prime minister.

The leaders of Five Star and the League, Luigi Di Maio and Matteo Salvini, were infuriated by Mattarella’s refusal to accept Savona, a respected financier and economist.

“Why don’t we just say that in this country it’s pointless that we vote, as the ratings agencies, financial lobbies decide the governments,” a livid Di Maio said in a video on Facebook.

“When the people give more than 51 percent of consensus to political forces that want to represent the interests of the Italian people, they find a way to block everything. It’s unacceptable.”

Salvini, who was Savona’s biggest advocate and a fellow eurosceptic, said on Sunday that Italy wasn’t a “colony”, and that “we won’t have Germany tell us what to do”.

He told supporters: “Either we can work to give a future to this country and to our children, or else, in a democracy, if we are still in a democracy, there is only one thing to do: give the floor to the Italians.”

AFP

Na’Abba Challenges Politicians Over Jonathan’s ‘Single Term Agreement’

The former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mister Ghali Na’Abba has challenged those claiming that President Goodluck Jonathan signed an agreement to restrict himself to a single term to come out with proofs to back up their claims.

Speaking on Channels Television programme, ‘’View From The Top’’, Mr Na’Abba said that although it is important for people to honour agreements they entered into, he was not privy to any document suggesting that there is any agreement.

He said: “Anybody has the right to contest to be the President of Nigeria, wherever he comes from, but when there is an agreement, that agreement must be upheld, no matter the pain. If we don’t learn to honour our agreements, then we are not men of honour.

“In this case, none of us have been briefed after the primary elections of 2011 by anybody about the process these governors followed in giving their votes or asking their delegates to elect Goodluck Jonathan to be the party’s presidential flag bearer.”

Na’Abba was among many top politicians that left the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in a highly publicized defection to the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, in 2005. He said that unlike the current wave of defections, his was not an easy decision, leaving the PDP back then.

He explained that the then President, Olusegun Obasanjo, in his bid to elongate his tenure in office, “embarked on what they called re-registration exercise in the party”, with the aim of “having total control of the party.”

He further alleged that those of them who were seen not to be in support of the president’s plan “were marked out for total elimination from the party.” So, means had to be devised for them to either leave the party or be dismissed. He said that they were denied the opportunity to be re-registered as members of the party.

Hence, they opted out of the party and fought the scheme. He noted that they did not leave the party just because they wanted to.

He, however, regretted that his expectation that whatever party he joined after PDP would be a truly democratic party with internal democracy was not what he found, so he decided to return to his party, the PDP, in 2007, just after the presidential election.

Speaking from experience as a one-time defector, Na’Abba noted that the possibility of recent PDP defectors returning to the party would depend on their objectives, as there were people in politics for the purpose of acquiring power, while there are also developmental politicians.

“Once power seeking politicians find what they need, they may not come back, because for them all the platforms are the same. There are no differences in ideology; which is why many politicians contesting for positions cannot provide their party manifestos,” he explained.

Mr Na’Abba also commended the current Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, saying despite the circumstances that he has found himself, he is doing his best.

“The current House of Representatives cannot be compared to that of 1999 to 2003.  Because that time, members came almost on their own, so they didn’t need anybody to direct them, and this was why the House was quite independent.

“After 2003, when the potential for the House to do a lot of things was realised by the executive arm, it was silently decided that that degree of independence should never be allowed within the legislature. So the next occupants of the House and the Senate were mostly handpicked by the party or the President.”

He also shared his views on the National Conference and other matters of national importance.

Rivers Crisis: Police Used Only Tear Gas – Opi

A Legal Practitioner, Idaye Opi, who was in Port Harcourt when the Police raid of the ‘Save Rivers Movement’ rally occurred  on Sunday, January 12, has thrown more light on the role of the Police in the issue.

Contributing to Channels Television breakfast programme, ‘Sunrise Daily’ on Tuesday, via telephone, Opi clarified that by his observation of the overwhelming view in the city, the Police used only tear gas to disperse the crowd, as there was no bullet.

He also said that the Police, asides saying that the organisers had no permit,  also claimed that they got reports that some people were planning to invade and cause mayhem at the rally.

The Police stated that the way and manner the organisers went about their activities, it may have degenerate into skirmish, but Opi also noted that the Police did not act right.

He said: “We are not in the State of Emergency in Rivers State.”

He reiterated his position in the state as “not being an Amaechi apologist. “In this instance, I believe that the Police was very wrong, as nobody needs a police permit for a public gathering.”

He argued that labour unions, political parties, churches and other organizations could organise rallies without such demands being made of them.

Opi added that if indeed the Police had fears that the event was going to degenerate into a breakdown of law and order, they should have gone to watch over them in order to step in when they sense trouble approaching.

 

Rivers Crisis: Nigerian Media Needs Some Soul Searching – Akinola

A Lawyer and Journalist, Richard Akinola, has joined the group of Nigerians who are against the Rivers State Police raid of the ‘Save Rivers Movement’ rally on Sunday, January 12, 2014, but not without some warning for the Nigerian media.

Akinola noted on Channels Television’s ‘Sunrise Daily’ that by the laws of Nigeria, the Police do not have any right to stop anyone from gathering.

He explained this by citing the case of the Inspector-General of Police vs. ANPP, in which sections of the Public Order Act had been declared null and void by the court, due to its inconsistency with the provisions of Section 40 of the Nigerian Constitution, which gives a right of Peaceful Assembly to every Nigerian.

He noted that if the Police according to their claims, indeed had fears that the rally could have degenerated into a crisis, the criminal code was enough to cover for their act of stepping in to prevent the degeneration, and not totally disrupting the holding of the gathering itself.

People are only meant to notify Police about their actions for the purpose of coverage and not to obtain permit; in the case of ‘Save Rivers Movement’ rally organisers, their claim that they informed the Police in a letter to apply for security already amounted to a notification.

Akinola also said that the relationship between the organisers and the Police could have been more civil, recalling several protests he had been part of, in which the Police played what he believed to be their expected role.

He submitted, “This is all politics, and unfortunately the Rivers State Commissioner of Police is too involved in the politics of Rivers State.” He likened the situation to the case of former Anambra State Governor, Senator Chris Ngige, during his tenure as the Governor, when the Anambra State Commissioner of Police was also a prominent feature in his tussle to keep his position.

He alleged that the plan of the perpetrators is to push Rivers State into a State of Emergency, but “This is not about Amaechi, it is about principle, and true democracy.”

Akinola was however reminded that the Rivers Police Commissioner, Joseph Mbu, had worked in other states and with other governors without any problems, but he dismissed the claims saying that whatever his claims were, do not match up with what Nigerians have seen him do in Rivers State.

In further nullifying CP Mbu’s claims, he cited the case of the arrest of Rivers lawmaker, Chidi Lloyd, for murder. He wondered why the Police went straight to accuse him of murder when the case of manslaughter should have been the first consideration. He alleged that despite revealations that Chidi Lloyd was not the one who drove the car, with the driver having made a statement to that effect, the Police has been keeping those details from the people.

He said, “I feel disappointed in the Inspector-General of Police particularly…because I have been a silent supporter of his ideals.”

He noted that whether an event is tagged rally or gathering, the rights to peaceful assembly has been provided for, in Section 40 of the Nigerian Constitution. We need to “Remove this military hangover and allow democracy to grow.”

A Channels Television viewer however brought another angle into the discussion with his contribution; a certain Dr. Bright questioned the validity of Senator Magnus Abe’s claims on the severity of his injury during the raid, as he was of the opinion that politicians take advantage of such issues to seek public sympathy.

Akinola agreed with the view on Magnus Abe, explaining that he did not feel that rubber bullet could have been shot at the Senator when the Nigerian Police was not known to use rubber bullets. He explained that what hit him may have been the canister of the tear gas. He however believed that the tear gas was indeed shot at close range.

He then berated the role of the Nigerian media in the heated political atmosphere in Rivers State and the entire country, as there were too many interests from the media. He said that he could almost tell where a story was coming from and its underlining interest, just by looking at the headline.

He warned, “Let’s be frank, the media is part of the problem and there needs to be some soul searching in the media, otherwise the media would have been totally destroyed by 2015.”

He added, “We should be very careful as a people, and never make any mistake that would allow the military to come back because the damages they made were enormous.”

 

Jonathan Doles Out N5.7 Billion To Victims Of 2011 Post-Election Violence

President Goodluck Jonathan has approved the release of a total sum of N5,747,694,780.00 to nine states of the federation for direct disbursement to those who suffered losses of properties, means of livelihood and places of worship in the post-election violence of 2011.

This was disclosed in a press statement issued by the Special Adviser to President Jonathan on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati.

It will be recalled that following the post-election violence and civil disturbances in some states after the April 2011 elections President Jonathan set up a Panel of Enquiry headed by Sheik Ahmed Lemu to among other things, identify the spread and extent of losses suffered across the country.

The statement said “following the submission of the Lemu Panel’s report and its adoption by the Federal Executive Council, the Federal Ministry of Lands and Housing was mandated to assess the reported losses and damage to properties in all affected states.

“Based on the Ministry’s report, President Jonathan has approved the release of funds to nine of the 14 affected states as follows:

1. Bauchi – N1,574,879,000.00
2. Sokoto – N55,888,506.00
3. Zamfara – N93,253,485.00
4. Niger – N433,375,875.00
5. Jigawa – N208,667,634.00
6. Katsina – N1,973,209,440.00
7. Kano – N944,827,000.00
8. Adamawa – N420,089,840.00
9. Akwa Ibom – N43,504,000.00
Total – N5,747,694,780.00

Mr Abati further said that President Jonathan directed that an Implementation Committee for the disbursement of the funds to the beneficiaries in the nine states be constituted as follows:

1. Executive Governor or Deputy Governor – Chairman
2. Representative of State Government – Member
3. Secretary of the Sheik Lemu Panel – Member
4. Representative of the OSGF – Member
5. Representative of the FMLH&UD – Member

He said that inspection and assessment of damages and losses suffered are yet to be carried out in Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Kaduna and Nasarawa states as modalities and further instructions for the exercise are still being expected from the state governments.

The presidential spokesman said the funds to cover the losses sustained by victims of the post-election violence in these five states will be approved and released at the conclusion of the assessment exercise.

Deadly election-related and communal violence which occurred in northern Nigeria following the April 2011 presidential voting left more than 800 people dead. The victims were killed in three days of rioting in 12 northern states.

The violence began with widespread protests by supporters of the main opposition candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, a northern Muslim from the Congress for Progressive Change, following the re-election President Jonathan, a Christian from the Niger Delta in the south, who was the candidate for the ruling People’s Democratic Party. The protests degenerated into violent riots or sectarian killings in the northern states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Niger, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara. Relief officials estimate that more than 65,000 people were displaced.

The Federal Government on 11 May 2011 constituted a panel of a group of 22 eminent Nigerians led by Sheikh Lemu to investigate the cause of the post-election violence. The panel submitted its report to the government on October 10, 2011 containing far-reaching recommendations one of which is the payment of compensations to the victims of the post-election violence.

How To End Insecurity In Nigeria – CBN Governor

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Sanusi Lamido Sanusi

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Sanusi Lamido Sanusi on Wednesday said huge spending on security and use of guns by security forces would not guarantee security of lives and property of Nigerians.

The governor said this in a lecture paper he delivered at the Abia Youth Empowerment Summit in Umuahia.

He called for a more proactive measure to curb insurgency in the country, stressing that government owe it a duty to provide means of livelihood for the citizens.

“No matter how much we spend in security, no matter how many guns we give to security forces, there will not be security until these people have food on their table.

“Addressing security problems without addressing the fundamental economic causes is only a short-term measure.

“Yesterday it was Niger Delta militancy, today it is Boko Haram, tomorrow it will be something else. We have to address the problem of youth and their future across the country.”

He also advocated “difficult” structural reforms to grow the nation’s economy to scale.

He noted that more than 90 percent of religious, social, and political crises in the country had their roots in the economy.

“It’s about unemployment; it’s about poor infrastructure; it’s about an economy that is essentially dysfunctional; this is a country that imports what it can produce and exports what it does not produce.

“So the solution is simple. It’s about the difficult structural reforms that are required to grow the economy on scale.”

The dignitaries at the event included former Senate President, Adolphus Wabara and the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Emeka Wogu, among others.

Don’t Smuggle Religion Into Politics, Atiku Warns Politicians

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has urged religious leaders to help the country by separating religion from politics.

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar

The former Vice President said, had this been the case few years ago, the nation would have been spared the needless controversies and dissipation of energies that trailed the introduction of Sharia in some parts of the North.

In a statement issued by his media office in Abuja on Tuesday, the former Vice President said though Muslims are free to practice Sharia in line with Islamic injunction, it was important for religious rulers to ensure that they do not give politicians the leverage to “smuggle religion into our politics.”

“The interests of our country will be better served if our religious rulers ensure that religion is taken away from politics and by our politicians not dragging politics into religion,” Mr Atiku said.

He has dismissed allegations that he wants one of his sons to become the Governor of Adamawa State.

According to the former Vice President, all his children are content to pursue professional lives in their various callings and that he had no business imposing his choices on them.

He said such allegation could only have come from idle minds and busybodies looking for cheap publicity or finding someone to blame for their political problems.