Daily Archives: April 1, 2018

Sierra Leone Counts Presidential Runoff Votes

In Sierra Leone, ballot counting is underway for the presidential runoff election.

Voters went to the polls Saturday.

The current president, Ernest Bai Koroma, is stepping down this year after serving two five-year terms.

Voters cast ballots for the ruling All Peoples Congress Party’s presidential candidate, Dr. Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara, or the Sierra Leone People’s Party presidential candidate, Julius Maada Bio.

This was the second time opposition candidate Bio has run for the country’s top government job. He lost the 2012 election to President Koroma.

Reports said turnout seemed lower than in the first round of voting, possibly because of heavy security precautions. Media reports say driving was banned in some areas, forcing voters to walk to their polling stations.

The runoff vote had been set for Tuesday, but was delayed after a ruling party member filed a court challenge alleging irregularities in the first round and a temporary injunction was issued, stalling preparations.

The high court lifted the injunction early in the week, but the election commission asked for a few more days to prepare.

The new president will have to contend with issues such as rebuilding after the country’s devastating Ebola virus epidemic of 2014-2016, as well as a mudslide in August that killed an estimated 1,000 people in the nation’s capital, Freetown.

Source: Voice of America

Pope Urges End to Carnage in Syria, Calls for Reconciliation in Middle East

In his Easter message, Pope Francis called for peace in a world marked by war and conflict. Addressing tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter’s Square from the central balcony of the basilica, the pope called for an end to “carnage” in the long-suffering land of Syria and “reconciliation” in the Middle East.

Francis’ appeal for peace came in his Urbi et Orbi message after having celebrated Easter mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica. He said the message of the resurrection offers hope in a world “marked by so many acts of injustice and violence.

The pope begged for peace for “the entire world, beginning with the beloved and long-suffering land of Syria, whose people are worn down by an apparently endless war.”

“This Easter, the pope said, may the light of the risen Christ illuminate the consciences of all political and military leaders, so that a swift end may be brought to the carnage.

Francis demanded that aid be delivered to the needy in the war-torn country and called for “fitting conditions for the return of the displaced.”

The pope also urged reconciliation in Israel, a place “experiencing in these days the wounds of ongoing conflict that do not spare the defenseless.” His words followed the Friday deaths of 15 Palestinian protesters on the Israeli-Gaza border two days before Easter Sunday.

Turning his thoughts to Africa, the pope also called for peace in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Let us not forget the victims of that conflict, the pope said, especially the children! May there be no lack of solidarity with all those forced to abandon their native lands and lacking the bare essentials for living.

The world’s first Latin American pope also urged international assistance for Venezuela, so that more people would not have to abandon their homeland because of the economic and political crisis.

Finally, Francis also expressed the hope that the “fruits of dialogue” would advance peace and harmony on the Korean peninsula, where the two sides are set to hold their first summit in more than a decade on April 27.

Easter is Christianity’s “moveable feast,” falling on a different date each year. Western Christian churches celebrate Easter on the first Sunday following the full moon after the vernal equinox.

This year, Eastern Orthodox Churches, which include Jewish Passover in their calculation of Easter dates, celebrate the holiday next Sunday, April 8.

Source: Voice of America

Pope Urges End to Carnage in Syria, Calls for Reconciliation in Middle East

In his Easter message, Pope Francis called for peace in a world marked by war and conflict. Addressing tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter’s Square from the central balcony of the basilica, the pope called for an end to “carnage” in the long-suffering land of Syria and “reconciliation” in the Middle East.

Francis’ appeal for peace came in his Urbi et Orbi message after having celebrated Easter mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica. He said the message of the resurrection offers hope in a world “marked by so many acts of injustice and violence.

The pope begged for peace for “the entire world, beginning with the beloved and long-suffering land of Syria, whose people are worn down by an apparently endless war.”

“This Easter, the pope said, may the light of the risen Christ illuminate the consciences of all political and military leaders, so that a swift end may be brought to the carnage.

Francis demanded that aid be delivered to the needy in the war-torn country and called for “fitting conditions for the return of the displaced.”

The pope also urged reconciliation in Israel, a place “experiencing in these days the wounds of ongoing conflict that do not spare the defenseless.” His words followed the Friday deaths of 15 Palestinian protesters on the Israeli-Gaza border two days before Easter Sunday.

Turning his thoughts to Africa, the pope also called for peace in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Let us not forget the victims of that conflict, the pope said, especially the children! May there be no lack of solidarity with all those forced to abandon their native lands and lacking the bare essentials for living.

The world’s first Latin American pope also urged international assistance for Venezuela, so that more people would not have to abandon their homeland because of the economic and political crisis.

Finally, Francis also expressed the hope that the “fruits of dialogue” would advance peace and harmony on the Korean peninsula, where the two sides are set to hold their first summit in more than a decade on April 27.

Easter is Christianity’s “moveable feast,” falling on a different date each year. Western Christian churches celebrate Easter on the first Sunday following the full moon after the vernal equinox.

This year, Eastern Orthodox Churches, which include Jewish Passover in their calculation of Easter dates, celebrate the holiday next Sunday, April 8.

Source: Voice of America

New President Looks to Wean Botswana off Dependence on Diamonds

Botswana’s new president, sworn in on Sunday as the landlocked country’s fifth post-colonial leader, said he would give priority to tackling youth unemployment and diversifying its economy.

Retired teacher Mokgweetsi Masisi, who takes over from former army general Ian Khama, inherits a state with a reputation as one of Africa’s rare political and economic success stories.

But he faces a huge task in attempting to reduce its dependence on the diamond trade while creating more jobs after collapsing commodity prices tipped it into recession in 2015.

“We still seek to build a Botswana in which sustained development is underpinned by economic diversification,” Masisi told a cheering crowd in parliament. “One of my top priorities … will be to address the problem of unemployment especially amongst the young.”

Botswana, with a population of some 2 million, has a jobless rate of around 20 percent, with youth unemployment thought to be much higher.

Khama, 65, and a son of the country first president Seretse, bowed out after two five-year terms in a scripted succession that compelled him to hand over power to his deputy.

Masisi becomes only Botswana’s third leader outside the Khama dynasty since its independence from Britain in 1966.

As part of efforts to branch out of diamonds, he also said his government would scale up access to technical education and set up initiatives in tourism, mining, beef and financial services.

Challenging times

But the country’s opposition predicted little change, saying Masisi as deputy president was instrumental in an economic strategy that had failed to adapt the economy to the needs of a new generation of finance and science graduates.

“There is no need to celebrate, the change of guard will just be cosmetic. As vice president he… failed even at the time he was at the ministry of education,” said a spokesman for the UDC opposition coalition, Moeti Mohwasa.

After working for United Nations Children’s Fund, Masisi became a lawmaker in 2009. He served as a minister of public affairs from 2011 to 2014, when Khama named him minister of education and, later the same year, also vice president.

Viewed by the markets as more business-friendly than his predecessor, Masisi will serve as leader until national elections in October 2019, for which the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is expected to name him as its presidential candidate.

The BDP has governed the country since independence but for the first time won less than 50 percent of the vote for the legislature in the previous election in 2014. Polls suggest its share will fall further in next year’s ballot.

Source: Voice of America

Zambia Asks Cuba to Recall Ambassador for Backing New Opposition Party

Zambia has asked Cuba to recall its ambassador for openly supporting the newly launched opposition Socialist Party, the president’s spokesman said on Sunday.

Amos Chanda said ambassador Nelson Pages Vilas spoke at the party’s launch on Saturday.

Political tensions were rekindled in Zambia last month when the count ry’s main opposition party, the United Party for National Development (UPND), filed a motion seeking to impeachPresident Edgar Lungu over accusations of breaching the constitution.

The UPND challenged Lungu’s 2016 election victory in court, alleging fraud, arguing that that obliged him to hand over power to parliament’s speaker until the court considered its petition.

Lungu has denied electoral fraud.

He directed that the Cuban ambassador be recalled “for behavior unbecoming of a diplomat,” Chanda told a media briefing, adding that diplomatic ties with Cuba would be retained. Reporter was not immediately able to contact the ambassador for comment.

Source: Voice of America