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Imran Khan Ousted as Pakistan Leader, Paving Way for Power Shift

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Pakistan lawmakers ousted former cricket star Imran Khan as prime minister in a no-confidence vote, ending his four-year run as leader after he clashed with the country’s powerful military and Asia’s second-fastest inflation eroded support. 

A united opposition bloc cobbled together 174 lawmakers to vote against Khan after midnight in Islamabad, two more than required to remove him from office. Parliament will convene again on Monday to pick a new prime minister, which will almost certainly be opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif.

“A new morning is beginning, a new day is about to start,” Sharif told lawmakers after the results were declared in the early hours of Sunday. “The prayers of millions of Pakistanis have been heard.”

The political shakeup in the world’s fifth-most populous nation is likely to immediately rebalance Pakistan’s foreign policy more toward the U.S. and Europe. Khan had shifted Pakistan closer to Russia and China, and sought to sabotage the no-confidence vote by claiming the Biden administration conspired with the opposition to remove him from power.

A Sharif-led government is also likely to help secure about $3 billion left from an International Monetary Fund loan needed to bolster foreign reserves and the currency. The rupee is trading near a record low against the U.S. dollar and foreign currency reserves have dropped to the lowest in about two years, enough to cover a couple months of imports. The central bank surprised analysts last week with the biggest rate hike since 1996.

Ahead of his ouster, Khan called on supporters to protest peacefully after evening prayers on Sunday. A national vote must be held by August 2023, and Khan is already pressuring the opposition to go to the polls.

Khan’s loss came after a fallout with Pakistan’s army over a range of issues, including interference in military promotions, his rocky relationship with the U.S. and management of the economy. Pakistan’s military has ruled the country for almost half of its 75-year history, and no prime minister has completed a full term in that time.

Khan didn’t go quietly. Last weekend, his party shocked Pakistan when one of his allies canceled the no-confidence vote over the foreign interference claims, after which Khan quickly called an election. Pakistan’s opposition called the move treasonous, as the constitution doesn’t allow parliament to be dissolved during a no-confidence debate.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court later rejected Khan’s rationale for scrapping the vote and ordered the no-confidence vote to go ahead on Saturday. During the parliament session, Khan’s party triggered multiple adjournments by repeating claims without showing evidence that the U.S. wanted to oust his government — an allegation the Biden administration has denied.

When the vote finally took place, opposition lawmakers cheered and clapped as the numbers were called out. Television channels showed opposition party flags being waved on the street and celebratory fireworks and gunfire sounded in Karachi and Islamabad.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Government

EFCC Finally Arrests Okorocha After Hours of Siege, Gives Reason 

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Okorocha

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has finally arrested the All Progressives Congress’ presidential candidate and former governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha after laying siege on his residence for hours. 

Security operatives attached to the EFCC had surrounded the residence of the former governor earlier on Tuesday and before they finally arrested him late in the evening. 

Investors King can confirm that lots of gunshots and tear gas canisters were fired to disperse angry supporters of the lawmaker who tried to resist the arrest before he was finally arrested.

According to an official of the anti-graft agency, Okorocha will be taken to the headquarters of the commission where he will be until May 30 when he will be arraigned in court.

In an official statement obtained by Investors King, signed by the EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, “the move to arrest Okorocha was followed by the refusal of the former governor to honour invitations after jumping the administrative bail earlier granted him by the Commission.

EFCC had on January 24, 2022, filed a 17-count criminal charge bordering on diversion of public funds and properties to the tune of N2.9bn against Okorocha.

“The case was assigned to Honourable Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja but attempts to arraign Senator Okorocha was twice stalled owing to the absence of the ex-governor who evaded service of processes”.

EFCC added that at the last adjourned date, March 28th 2022, Justice Ekwo, before adjourning until May 30th, 2022, had warned that it was “the last adjournment I shall grant in this matter”.

“In the circumstances, the Commission is left with no option but to effect the arrest of Senator Okorocha and bring him to trial”, the statement had read. 

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Russia Halts Supply of Gas to Finland, Disagrees on Payment Mode 

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Gas-Pipeline

Russia’s majority state-owned multinational energy corporation, PJSC Gazprom, on Saturday, halted gas exports to one of its neighbouring countries, Finland, in the latest escalation of an energy payments dispute with Western nations.

A statement released by Finland’s gas system operator, Gasgrid said: “Gas imports through Imatra entry point have been stopped.

“Starting from today, during the upcoming summer season, Gasum will supply natural gas to its customers from other sources through the Balticconnector pipeline”. 

Investors King gathered that majority of the European supply contracts are denominated in Euros or Dollars and Moscow already cut off gas to Bulgaria and Poland last month after they refused to comply with the new payment terms.

Imatra is the entry point for Russian gas into Finland and even though majority of the gas used in Finland comes from Russia, gas only accounts for about five per cent of its annual energy consumption.

Gazprom Export has requested that European countries pay for Russian gas supplies in Russian currency (roubles) because of sanctions imposed over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, but Finland refuses to do so.

Gazprom Export, on Friday, said: “flows would be cut because Gasum had not complied with the new Russian rules requiring settlement in roubles.”

Earlier on Friday, the Finnish state-owned gas wholesaler, Gasum had said the Russian Gazprom warned that flows would be halted from 04:00 GMT on Saturday morning.

The decision is coming at a time when Finland and Sweden announced that they were going to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) military alliance, a decision inspired by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Last week, the  Finish Prime minister, Sanna Marin had said: “When we look at Russia, we see a very different kind of Russia today than we saw just a few months ago.

“Everything changed when Russia attacked Ukraine. And I personally think that we cannot trust anymore that there will be a peaceful future next to Russia.”

Marin noted that joining NATO is “an act of peace [so] that there will never again be war in Finland in the future”.

According to Swedish leader Andersson, “to ensure the safety of Swedish people, the best way forward is to join NATO together with Finland”.

The announcements were met with support from leaders in almost all NATO nations.

US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken told reporters that the United States would strongly support the NATO application by either Sweden or Finland should they choose to formally apply to the alliance.

Investors King recalls that Russia had in April, announced the suspension of gas supply to Poland and Bulgaria on the same payment disputes. 

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FG Resumes Conditional Cash Transfer Programme Across Six Local Govt. In Kebbi

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NAIRA - Investors King

The Federal Government has resumed the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programme in Kebbi State, commencing with a payment of N9.24bn to 76,107 CCT beneficiaries.

The National Coordinator of the programme, Hajiya Halima Shehu, made the announcement during a state visit to Governor Atiku Bagudu in Birnin Kebbi.

“As at now, payment to CCT beneficiaries is ongoing in the state. A total number of 76,107 beneficiaries across six local government areas of Bagudu, Danko, Wasagu, Dandi, Jega, and Shanga, will be receiving the payment. The beneficiaries will be receiving 26 months of payment circles, starting from January to February 2020.

“The payment will be in two batches of those 60,000 beneficiaries for four payment cycles, using the virtual account. The second batch has 70,107 beneficiaries for nine payment cycles through the debit cards. The total amount for the two batches in the state, according to Shehu, was over N9.24 billion.

“The Federal Government of Nigeria, in partnership with the World Bank in 2016, designed and developed a safety net programme for Nigeria under the platform of National Social Safety Net Programme (NASSP).

“One of the components of NASSP is the national conditional cash transfer office responsible for implementing the household uplifting- conditional cash transfer to the poor and the vulnerable households across the country,” she said.

Shehu commended the governor for providing her an audience and the chance to update him on the commencement of payments and the state’s successful implementation of the program.

Responding, Gov. Bagudu, represented by his Deputy, Alhaji Samaila Yombe-Dabai, thanked the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, headed by Hajiya Sadiya Umar-Farouq, for actualising the programme in the state.

“I assure you that the state government will do all it takes to support the success of the programme in the state.

“We are looking forward to getting more local governments to be involved in the cash transfer programme,” Bagudu said.

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