- Sirleaf, ECOWAS Condemns Violence, Mutiny in Ivory Coast
The President of Liberia and Chairperson of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS, Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has condemned the uneasy calm in Ivory Coast as a result of the threat of mutinous soldiers in their demand for compensation allegedly promised them by their government.
Sirleaf in a statement issued on behalf of the ECOWAS authority and obtained by journalists yesterday, called on the mutineers to ensure they permanently return to the barracks.
Even though government has reached agreement with the rebel soldiers, she urged them not to repeat the acts of “shootings and threat to civilian lives, remove road blocks which obstruct the free movement of people and conduct of normal commercial activities in cities and towns”.
She renewed the firm commitment of all ECOWAS members to the maintenance of peace and stability in the Community, which are indispensable for achievement of the aspirations of the citizens for development.
The ECOWAS chair further urged mutineers to refill their obligation to protect the citizens of Cote d’Ivoire and to refrain from any actions which could result in further deaths and injuries.
Sirleaf also called on them to “maintain the peace and tranquillity, which Ivorians and citizens of other countries of the West Africa sub-region have enjoyed for many years and continue to work concertedly to preserve”.
In a related development, the Liberian Delegation to the ECOWAS Parliament has outlined series of progress and achievements the country continues to make under the leadership of Sirleaf.
The Liberian legislators, in its 2017 Liberia’s Country Report to the ECOWAS Parliament, highlighted progress made in the country since it presented its last Country Report about seven months ago during the regional body’s Second Ordinary Session in 2016.
This was contained in a release yesterday by the Minister Counselor for Press & Public Affairs of Liberian Embassy, Abuja, Mr. Nat Bayjay.
Bayjay stated that the Montserrado County Representative, Mr. Edwin Melvin Snowe, Jr. read the report on behalf of the Liberian Delegation on Tuesday, May 16, 2017 during the ongoing First Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja.
He said the Liberia’s other members to the ECOWAS Parliament include Senators George Manneh Weah and Prince Yormie Johnson of Montserrado and Nimba Counties respectively. The others are Representatives Jefferson Karmoh of Sinoe County, who is also the Parliament’s Third Deputy Speaker, and Haja Fatta Siryon of Bomi County.
He said the report, among others, discussed progress in the political and security situation, status of the implementation of the Community Texts, ratification of ECOWAS’ Community Protocols and Conventions, implementation of the community programs and the refugee situation in the region.
The Embassy Spokesman said report also touched on the pending electoral process in Liberia, the status of implementation of the ECOWAS Macro-Economic Program as it relates to level of achievement of convergence criteria, the status of implementation of the ECOWAS Infrastructural and Transportation Policies and Programs and sensitization activities carried out by parliamentarians.
On the political situation in the country, he said, the report says Liberia continues to enjoy a peaceful democracy ahead of the October general elections: “There have not been any major political conflicts in terms of violence or crisis.”
The report then outlined progress made already by the National Elections Commission (NEC), including the Commission’s recently released time-table for the electoral progress.
On the Code of Conduct, the report added, “On March 3, 2017, after two years on the dockets of the Supreme Court of Liberia, the [Supreme Court] bench on March 3, 2017, in a 3-2 vote ruled that the Code was constitutional and does not in any way violate any provision of the Constitution”.
On security, the Liberian delegation observes that the country continues to support African solidarity in the area of security as the recipe to regional peace, democracy and good governance.
“Currently, Liberia is contributing troops to ECOWAS’ initiative towards the defense of democracy, peace and security in Mali. Unfortunately, Sergeant Ansu Sheriff of the Liberian Contingent lost his life when their base was attacked wounding other members of his Unit. Liberia also played pivotal role in the peaceful resolution of the Gambian political stalemate that ended peacefully without bloodshed.”
The report said that as head of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS, Liberia is currently leading a peaceful settlement to the ongoing political situation in Guinea Bissau”.
On the regional front, the report noted Liberia’s considerable progress in achieving key deliverables under President Sirleaf as Chairperson of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS.
“Liberia has demonstrated remarkable leadership in addressing some of the critical political, social and economic crises confronting the region. It has supported peace initiatives and political governance in the region. Similarly, it has become a key player in driving the region’s health reform process as well as advancing critical agenda to address and enhance its financial and economic viability.”
The Senegalese and Guinean delegations also presented their respective Country Reports during today’s session of the Fourth Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament.
The ongoing First Ordinary Session, which opened on the 10th of this month, closes on the 25th of the same month.
Comprising of 115 members from all of the 15 countries of ECOWAS, the Parliament sits in session three times a year with two ordinary sessions in May and September. There may however be an extraordinary session at any time in the course of the year to discuss any urgent and specific agenda.
COVAX Delivered 38m Vaccine Doses To Over 100 Countries, Says WHO
The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday announced that more than 100 countries have received life-saving COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX, the global mechanism for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
It said the milestone comes 42 days after the first COVAX doses were shipped and delivered internationally, to Ghana on February 24th.
In a statement, the United Nations’ Agency revealed that COVAX has now delivered more than 38 million doses across six continents, supplied by three manufacturers – AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and the Serum Institute of India (SII).
Of the over 100 economies reached, 61 are among the 92 lower-income economies receiving vaccines funded through the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).
It, however, said despite reduced supply availability in March and April – the result of vaccine manufacturers scaling and optimising their production processes in the early phase of the rollout, as well as increased demand for COVID-19 vaccines in India – COVAX expects to deliver doses to all participating economies that have requested vaccines in the first half of the year.
According to the CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Dr. Seth Berkley, “In under four months since the very first mass vaccination outside a clinical setting anywhere in the world, it is tremendously gratifying that the roll-out of COVAX doses has already reached 100 countries.
“COVAX may be on track to deliver to all participating economies in the first half of the year yet we still face a daunting challenge as we seek to end the acute stage of the pandemic: we will only be safe when everybody is safe and our efforts to rapidly accelerate the volume of doses depend on the continued support of governments and vaccine manufacturers. As we continue with the largest and most rapid global vaccine rollout in history, this is no time for complacency.”
The WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “COVAX has given the world the best way to ensure the fastest, most equitable rollout of safe and effective vaccines to all at-risk people in every country on the planet.
“If we are going to realise this great opportunity, countries, producers and the international system must come together to prioritise vaccine supply through COVAX. Our collective future, literally, depends on it.”
Approved Ibom Deep Sea Port, Proposed $1.4B Fertilizer Plant Will Change Akwa Ibom’s Economic Status – Gov. Udom
Akwa Ibom State Government has said the approved Ibom Deep Seaport and the proposed $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia Plant are expected to change the economic status of the state.
The State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, made the assertion in an Easter message to the people of the state.
He maintained that with the recent approval and take off of the federal government’s approved Oil and Gas Free Zone and the ongoing construction of the Sterling Petrochemical Plant at Eastern Obolo, the state would be ready to dump its status as a civil service state.
The governor said the fertilizer and ammonia plants should be supported by all indegenes and residents irrespective of political affiliation because of its capacity to change the economic fortunes of the state.
The governor who commended President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the industrial projects in the state said construction work on the Ibom Deep Seaport would commence very soon.
“In recent past, we have been blessed with life-changing projects such as Sterling Petrochemical Plant in Eastern Obolo, where construction is in an advanced stage.
“Two months ago, the Federal Executive Council, (FEC) approved the license for us to commence the construction of our long desired Ibom Deep Seaport. Work would soon commence on this gigantic project. These are huge achievements for our State and our people.
“Ibom Deep Seaport will open up our economic fortunes; create employment and wealth opportunities for our people and throw open our State as a major maritime hub in our nation.
“We thank the President and the Commander in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) for this kind approval,” he said.
Continuing, Emmanuel said: “About three weeks ago, we signed a $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia plant with our Moroccan counterparts. The plant will again create huge employment and other supply chain activities for our people, which will transform us from a civil service oriented state to a fast industrialising one.
“These are huge achievements that should gladden the hearts of every Akwa Ibomite irrespective of political affiliations.”
He reminded the people of the state that the essence of Easter would be lost if the resurrection of Christ is not allowed to illuminate their souls through love and sacrifice to one another.
“Let the fishermen in the ocean fronts of Mbo, Okobo, Eastern Obolo and Ibeno love one another. Let the farmers in the rice plantations at Ini, Ikono, Ika, Onna and Nsit Ibom love one another.
“Let the civil servants and public servants, politicians in all political parties, members of all denominations, preachers of all faiths, love one another.
“When we let love drive our every action and every thought, when we let it drip from our lips and from our hands, then shall the joy of Easter be complete, and our State shall surely attain the lofty height set for it by our ancestors when they named it Akwa Abasi Ibom State.” the Governor stated.
US Intelligence Says ISIS and Al-Qaeda Are Planning to Attack Southern Nigeria
The United States has warned the Federal Government of Nigeria that Al-Qaeda and ISIS are planning to attack Southern Nigeria.
This was disclosed by Dagvin Anderson, the Commander of the US special operations command, Africa.
According to Dagvin Anderson, AlQaeda is planning to expand into the Southern part of Nigeria and other parts of West Africa.
He, however, said the US will continue to share intelligence with Nigeria.
“We have engaged with Nigeria and continue to engage with them in intel sharing and in understanding what these violent extremists are doing,” he said.
“And that has been absolutely critical to their engagements up in the Borno state and into an emerging area of northwest Nigeria that we’re seeing al-Qaeda starting to make some inroads in.
“So, this intelligence sharing is absolutely vital and we stay fully engaged with the government of Nigeria to provide them with an understanding of what these terrorists are doing, what Boko Haram is doing, what ISIS-West Africa is doing, and how ISIS and al-Qaeda are looking to expand further south into the littoral areas.
Anderson regretted that despite successes recorded in previous years, there has been a setback, adding: “We as a community of international nations, keep thinking we have defeated them or we have put them on their back foot and that they’re just moments from disintegration.” Anderson said for international efforts to yield desired results in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria, the government must take the lead.
“When it comes to Nigeria in general, Nigeria, obviously, is a critical nation to West Africa. It is a critical nation and we realise that Nigeria is a lynchpin,” he said.
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