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West Africa’s regional bloc has put standby forces on alert in case Gambian president Yahya Jammeh does not step down when his mandate ends on Jan. 19, ECOWAS commission president Marcel de Souza said.

Jammeh has vowed to stay in power despite losing a Dec. 1 election to rival Adama Barrow, raising the possibility that regional powers may intervene to oust him if diplomacy does not succeed in persuading him to leave.
“We have put standby forces on alert if he does not (step down) on Jan. 19 when his mandate ends,” De Souza said on Malian state television on Thursday evening.
“No one has the right to oppose the will of the people.”
Barrow’s surprise victory and Jammeh’s initial decision to concede after 22 years in power was seen across Africa as a moment of hope. But the president changed his mind a week later and said again on Tuesday that he would not step down, rebuffing efforts by West African leaders to persuade him.
Jammeh’s camp could not immediately be reached for comment, but he has said the electoral count was flawed and that ECOWAS has no right to meddle in Gambia’s internal affairs.
The regional bloc has mandated Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari as mediator to offer Jammeh an “honourable exit”, but if he does not take it then forces might be deployed, De Souza said.
The BBC quoted De Souza as saying in an interview that Senegalese troops would lead any military intervention. Senegal is Gambia’s only territorial neighbour and has a frequently stormy relationship with the country, having sent troops there during a 1981 coup.
Senegal has indicated that military action would be an absolute last resort.
Diplomats say ECOWAS would probably seek approval from the U.N. Security Council for the use of force. ECOWAS deployed troops to Liberia and Sierra Leone during civil wars in the 1990s, setting a precedent for possible intervention.
A first step for raising pressure once the handover date passes is likely to be targeted sanctions by the U.N. and others, diplomats say, also raising the possibility that Jammeh could be offered asylum abroad.
Barrow’s supporters suggested on Thursday that the president might not immediately be prosecuted for alleged human rights abuses during his rule.
“Justice is absolutely essential … but we are going to take the route to truth and reconciliation,” said coalition spokesman Halifa Sallah at a meeting with the African Bar Association.
Gambia’s Supreme Court will hear a legal challenge on Jan. 10 from Jammeh’s ruling party which wants to overturn the election result.
Reuters

A passenger plane with 118 people on board was hijacked over Libya and forced to land in Malta after two men reportedly threatened to blow up a hand grenade.

The hijacker told crew he was “pro-Gaddafi” and that he was willing to let all 111 passengers leave the Airbus A320, but not its seven crew, if his demands were met, the Times of Malta said.

It was unclear what the demands were. Some media reports said there was more than one hijacker. Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed in an uprising in 2011, and the country has been racked by factional violence since.

Troops took up positions a few hundred meters (yards) from the plane as it stood on the tarmac and no one was seen boarding or leaving it. The aircraft’s engines were still running 45 minutes after it landed late in the morning, the Times of Malta said.

Some other flights at Malta International Airport were canceled or diverted, it said.

A senior Libyan security official told Reuters that when the plane was still in flight on Friday morning the pilot told the control tower at Tripoli’s Mitiga airport it had been hijacked.

“The pilot reported to the control tower in Tripoli that they were being hijacked, then they lost communication with him,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“The pilot tried very hard to have them land at the correct destination but they refused.”

Large numbers of security officials could be seen at Mitiga airport after news of the hijacking.

The aircraft had been flying from Sebha in southwest Libya to Tripoli for state-owned Afriqiyah Airways, a route that would usually take a little over two hours.

The tiny Mediterranean island of Malta, a European Union member, is about 500 km (300 miles) north of Tripoli.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat tweeted: “Informed of potential hijack situation of a #Libya internal flight diverted to #Malta. Security and emergency operations standing by -JM”.

The last major hijacking in Malta was in 1985, when Palestinians took over an Egyptair plane. Egyptian commandos stormed the aircraft and dozens of people were killed.

Reuters

A former director of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof. Akpan Ekpo, has warned the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari not to allow the economic situation deteriorate to the level of Zimbabwe.

In an interview with TheCable in Washington, Ekpo, pointed out that even late Sani Abacha, a military dictator, allowed experts to run the economy while he was head of state.

Lamenting the current situation where non-professionals are in charge of key ministries, Ekpo said the government of President Muhammadu Buhari needs the assistance of a strong economic management team.

“If you look at Nigeria’s economic history in the last 56 years, there are some episodes where you could say they appointed technocrats to manage the economy,” he said.

“But since 1999, there have been problem because politics dominated the economy.

“The military, for some reasons were able to recruit some technocrats. I can tell you that everything about the Nigerian economy has been researched, documented and written about, before 1999. They are on shelves.

“But from 1999, in fairness to former president Olusegun Obasanjo, he tried in putting together experts to macro-manage the economy. He brought people who were good. Then, he had an economic team that constituted mainly of experts.

“Those experts co-opted other experts to look at the economy. I think it continued up to the time of the late president Yar’Adua. During Yar’Adua’s tenure, I was a member of the team.”

Ekpo, who was a vice chancellor at the University of Uyo, criticised the current foreign exchange policy of the CBN, saying it encourages round-tripping.

“You can see that  the misalignment between the interbank and parallel market rates is too much. When I last check, government was still the greatest supplier of foreign exchange, and they give it to the banks to sell.

“Any bank official would be rational and want to round trip. So, the gap is just too much. And that is going to affect foreign direct investments. What you will have is hot money.

“So, when there is a recession, you adopt what is called economic nationalism. So, let’s pray that the economic recession does not continue for a long time, because if that happens and we enter into a depression, we may just be like Zimbabwe or Venezuela.”“So, Abacha approved for him a ministerial advisory committee. He brought in only economics and a lawyer to drive the process during that process. Go and look at the macro-fundamentals at that period. And there was a link between the ministerial advisory committee and the national economic team headed by Prof. Sam Aluko.

While acknowledging that Abacha was a dictator, Ekpo said he left the economy to be ran by experts hence he did very well economically. “I was involved. In fact, I was the chairman of that ministerial committee in the ministry of finance for four years. We ran the economy.”

A Zimbabwean court has ordered President Robert Mugabe’s wife to return three properties she seized from a local businessman in a messy dispute over a $1.35-million diamond ring, a lawyer said Thursday.

Grace Mugabe was taken to court by Jamal Ahmed after she took over three of his properties, demanding that he repay the $1.35 million (1.3 million euros) she had paid for a diamond ring that she then decided she did not want.
On Wednesday, Zimbabwe’s High Court ordered Grace to vacate the properties she seized, Ahmed’s lawyer Beatrice Mtwetwa said in a statement.
According to court documents seen by AFP, Ahmed said Grace had made an order for the $1.35 million diamond ring in Dubai.
She “placed an order for a diamond with my daughter in Dubai which she indicated her husband wanted to buy her for their anniversary,” he said.
The first lady “then refused to take delivery of the diamond and instead demanded a full refund.”
Ahmed, who is not currently in Zimbabwe, said he has received threats from officials from Zimbabwe’s spy agency — the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).
“I have been threatened with harm if I return and it is necessary that I get some form of protection,” court documents quoted him as saying.
“If the respondents have a genuine cause of action against me, they have a right to take me to court … without taking the law into their own hands.”
– ‘Reign of terror’ –
Ahmed said the first lady was aware that his business had already incurred the costs of preparing the diamond for its sale.
To avoid trouble the businessman offered to repay the money in instalments and has paid back $150,000 already, he said in court documents.
He also claimed that Grace, together with her son, initiated “a reign of terror and harassment where I was verbally threatened, harassed, insulted and told that I could not do anything to them as they are in fact ‘Zimbabwe’”.
“Threats of taking over my properties in Zimbabwe were also made,” he added.
This is not the first time Grace Mugabe has been involved in a controversial business deal.
In 2011 she was caught in a spat over a $1-million truck deal with South African businessman Ping Sung Hsieh.
Grace, 51, married Mugabe in 1996.
She now heads the ruling ZANU-PF party women’s wing. She has said that she has the right to rule the country, like any other Zimbabwean, and is now among those angling to replace her husband.
AFP

Nigeria’s government has approved a policy that will see whistleblowers paid for exposing corruption.

Whistleblowers will be entitled to up to 5% of the recovered amount.
Minister of Finance Kemi Adeosun disclosed this to State House reporters after the FEC meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari.
She said the new programme would encourage Nigerians with information about financial crimes to disclose it and it would help the government fight corruption.
According to her: “If you whistle-blow in public spirit and in good faith, you will be protected.”
“If you feel that you have been treated badly because of your report, you can file a formal complaint. If you have suffered harassment, intimidation or victimisation for sharing your concerns, restitution will be made for any loss suffered,” she added.
Asked if there is protection from false or malicious claims, she said: “Yes. A first level review will always be carried out to determine credibility and sufficiency of information received. If you report false or misleading information, it will be referred to the enforcement agents for investigation and possible prosecution.”

Former governor of Delta State, Chief James Onanefe Ibori has been released from prison. He was released a few minutes past noon upon a court order.

His media aide, Mr. Tony Elumenor confirmed his release on Wednesday.

Ibori was jailed for money laundering offences by Southwark Crown court in 2012.

He was sent to prison for 13 years.

Expectation of his return home to Nigeria, however, remains uncertain as friends and associates many of who are gathered in London deliberate on the future of the former governor.

Photo credit: Lewis Mudge

Security forces fired live bullets, teargas and arrested youths gathered in the streets of Kinshasa on Tuesday to demand that Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila step down after his mandate expired overnight.

At least two civilians were killed overnight when soldiers opened fire during clashes in the neighborhood of Kingabwa, two witnesses said. The government spokesman could not be reached for comment and a police spokesman could not confirm the information.

Limited protests started on Tuesday after opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi called on the Congolese people to peacefully resist Kabila, who has remained in power beyond his constitutional mandate and with no election to pick a successor.

Sporadic gunfire crackled in several districts of the capital Kinshasa, a city of 12 million, as measures to thwart dissent fanned fears of more violence.

But with a ban on demonstrations in force, and a heavy military presence, Kinshasa’s normally busy main boulevards were for the most part deserted as pockets of youths gathered in sidestreets only to be dispersed with the volleys of teargas.

U.N. peacekeepers in armored personnel carriers patrolled the streets, at one point cheered on by a crowd shouting: “Kabila, know that your mandate is finished!”

“I think there will be trouble. The people are saying Kabila has to leave,” said student Joe Doublier, 20, peering nervously out of his house in the opposition stronghold of Limete, where youths burned tires and pieces of wood in the streets.

“It’s been 16 years and nothing has changed,” he said, referring to the time Kabila has been in power since his father was assassinated in 2001.

In Lubumbashi, a city in the heart of Africa’s richest copper mines, police and Kabila’s elite military Republican Guard unit fired live bullets to prevent demonstrations, Gregoire Mulamba, a local human rights activist, told Reuters.

But the mayor of Lubumbashi, Jean Oscar Sanguza, told Reuters security forces had intervened to stop looters.

“I launch a solemn appeal to the Congolese people to not recognize the … illegal and illegitimate authority of Joseph Kabila and to peacefully resist (his) coup d’etat,” Tshisekedi said in a video posted on YouTube.

FEARS OF ESCALATION

Authorities have blocked most social media. Such restrictive measures have raised fears of more violence in a nation that has never had a peaceful transfer of power and has suffered near-constant war and instability in the two decades since the fall of kleptocrat Mobutu Sese Seko.

Western powers are nervous of a repeat of the conflicts between 1996 to 2003 that killed millions, drew in half a dozen neighboring armies and saw rebel fighters rape women en masse.

The United States and European Union have called for Kabila to respect the constitution. Congo’s former colonial master Belgium said on Tuesday it would “re-examine” relations with Kabila after he failed to step down.

France urged the European Union re-examine its links with Congo because of the “seriousness of the situation”.

Kabila has rarely spoken about the issue in public, but his allies say the election was delayed because of logistical and financial problems. The constitutional court has ruled that Kabila can stay on until the election takes place, and some opposition leaders have agreed to this.

In what appeared to be an attempt at soothing opposition grievances, Kabila’s administration announced on state TV an expansion of the government by about 20 ministerial posts to more than 65, many of them reserved for opposition members.

But many opponents, especially in Kinshasa, are not buying it. Demonstrators in the districts of Kalamu, Matete and Lingwala as well as at Kinshasa University blew whistles around midnight to signal to Kabila that it was time to leave.

Clashes that began a day earlier resumed outside of Kinshasa University, a witness said. Reuters witnesses saw more than a dozen young men who had been arrested seated in the back of a military truck near the university.

Scores of protesters have been arrested in the past 24 hours, mostly in the eastern city of Goma, according to human rights groups.

Reuters

   This week on Keeping It Real, Yahya Jammeh of Gambia cancels the 2016 election after conceding defeat.
A fake American embassy in Ghana operated successfully for ten years before it was busted.

After a Nigerian Pastor ignores stop-work order, his Church collapses killing about 200 people.

Nana Akufo Addo wins the 2016 Ghanaian elections.

Nigerian Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung says Super Falcons were not paid because he did not expect them to win.

     

President Kabila. Photo by Reuters/Tiksa Negeri

Security forces patrolled the tense streets of Kinshasa on Sunday after the suspension of last-ditch talks to find a peaceful way out of the nation’s political crisis sparked by the end of President Joseph Kabila’s mandate.

Negotiations to agree a way forward for the Democratic Republic of Congo after December 20, when Kabila’s second term finishes, were halted on Saturday with no significant progress made.

Fears of fresh political violence in mineral-rich but unstable Congo were running high, with no elections planned and Kabila showing no inclination to step down.

Talks are due to resume on Wednesday when Catholic bishops acting as mediators return from a long-planned trip to Rome — a day after Kabila’s mandate ends.

Roadblocks put up overnight were opened on Sunday morning but security forces were posted in large numbers in opposition strongholds and other flashpoints around Kinshasa, according to AFP reporters.

“We’re waiting to see what happens. The politicians are okay, it’s us, the little people, who suffer,” a supervisor at a cleaning company, told AFP.

Kabila, barred from seeking a third term by the constitution, has indicated he wants to stay in power until a successor is chosen, but some opposition figures want him to hand over to a transitional leadership while awaiting the vote.

The 45-year-old has been in power since his father Laurent Kabila was assassinated in 2001. He was elected in 2006, and again in 2011 in polls decried as rigged by the opposition.

The talks sponsored by the Congolese bishops’ conference (CENCO) brought together the ruling party and fringe opposition groups, allied against a mainstream opposition coalition led by the 84-year-old Etienne Tshisekedi.

When they broke up on Saturday evening, no progress had been made on any of the main issues that divide the two sides.

‘Uncontrollable situation’

Kabila’s opponents accuse him of delaying the vote in the hope of tweaking the constitution to extend his family’s hold over a nation that is almost the size of western Europe.

Tshisekedi’s opposition grouping threatened to bring people into the streets from Monday if the talks failed, in a bid to force Kabila from office.

Leaflets urging people to retake Kinshasa “street by street, district by district until we retake the whole of the DRC”, have begun to circulate in the capital.

But so far the opposition has not given an order to mobilise, while the international community is urging calm on all sides.

Church mediators have warned that failing to find a political settlement will lead to “an uncontrollable situation”, a stark prospect in a country that barely two decades ago plunged into the deadliest conflict in modern African history.

Congo’s two wars in the late 1990s and early 2000s dragged in at least six African armies and left more than three million dead.

The European Union urged the two sides to reach a deal for “transparent, credible” elections to be held as soon as possible.

In Rome, Pope Francis urged worshippers to “pray that the dialogue in the Democratic Republic of Congo proceeds calmly, to avoid any violence and for the good of the whole country.”

A democratic handover would break ground for Congo’s 70 million people who since independence from Belgium in 1960 have never witnessed political change at the ballot box.

AFP

President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the Attorney General of the Federation to investigate the involvement of any top government officials accused of corruption, adding that “If any of them are liable they will not escape prosecution.”

A statement on Sunday by Garba Shehu, Spokesperson to the President of the President (SSA, Media and Publicity) said:
“The attention of the presidency has been drawn to a number of reports in the media, in which various accusations of corruption have been levelled against some top officials in the administration.
“In that regard, President Buhari has instructed the Attorney General of the Federation to investigate the involvement of any top government officials accused of any wrong-doing. If any of them are liable they will not escape prosecution.”

At least 20 people were killed in a gold mine collapse in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a local minister said on Sunday.

The deaths occurred overnight at the mine in the South Kivu region in the east of the country, the province’s mines minister Apollinaire Bulindi said.

The toll is likely to rise “because many people were working in a disorderly way in this quarry,” Bulindi said, referring to “illegal miners”.

The Makungu mine where the accident took place is located in the Fizi district of Sud Kivu near the border with the Tanganyika province.

“We (the provincial authorities) do not control this quarry, these are soldiers who are working there…,” he said.

Sud Kivu province has some of Democratic Republic of Congo’s richest mineral deposits.

Much of the gold mined there, however, is smuggled out of the country to Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, and from there allegedly to Dubai, according to the OECD.

AFP

West African leaders, under the aegis of ECOWAS, have sent an unmistakable signal to President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia that they would not allow him to stay longer than 18 January in power.

The leaders at their meeting in Abuja resolved to attend the inauguration of the Gambian President-Elect, Adama Barrow, on Jan. 18, 2017, in conformity with the Gambian constitution.

According to a communiqué presented at the end of the 50th Ordinary Session of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government held in Abuja on Saturday, the out-going President Yahya Jammeh must uphold the result of the Dec. 1 presidential election in the country and must guarantee the safety and protection of the President-elect.

“The Authority calls on President Yahya Jammeh to accept the result of the polls and refrain from any action likely to compromise the transition and peaceful transfer of power to the President-Elect,’’ the communiqué added.

The Authority also appointed President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria and his Ghanaian counterpart as Chief Mediator and Co-Mediator respectively in the Gambian political impasse.

Four of the ECOWAS leaders, Muhammadu Buhari, John Mahama of Ghana, Ernest Koroma of Sierra Leone and ECOWAS chairperson, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, visited Banjul on Tuesday to persuade Jammeh to accept the result of the election.

Although President Buhari said Jammeh was receptive to their discussions, his obduracy in accepting the result of the poll became a major issue at the ECOWAS talks in Abuja Saturday.

NAN

Adamu Kazaure

Dr Adamu Kazaure, the Executive Secretary for the National Board for Technical Education (NABTE), has said that more jobs losses were probably on the way as Nigeria fights harder to end the economic recession.

Kazaure stated this on Saturday in Ilorin, while delivering a lecture at the 23rd combined convocation of the Kwara State Polytechnic.

He spoke on the theme “Re-thinking the Future of Nigeria Polytechnic in an Economic Recession: The Role of National Vocational Qualifications Framework (NVQF).

According to him, there are signs of recovery, but the full effects of the recession on employment are probably not yet known.

“Stimulus measures seem to have cushioned the immediate effects, but the time lag probably means there are more job losses to come,” he said.

The NBTE boss explained that there was no sector of the economy that was immune to the crisis, urging the Polytechnics in the country to strengthen their capacity to forecast skills and match them to available jobs.

He charged the institutions to develop courses for managers of small and medium-size enterprises to help them devise strategies to cope with the crisis.

“As part of longer-term response to the need to develop skills, NBTE recognised the potential of validating and recognising knowledge, skills and competencies that have been learnt outside the formal education training system.”

He further advocated for flexible learning pathways, empowering people through choices and adopt the system of work-based learning.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that other contributors stressed the need for assessment based on skill, competency and intelligence rather than certificate.

They urged Nigeria to see skill acquisition as antidote to the prevailing economic crisis.

A Nigerian man who reportedly has a catalog of various car designs and specifications and builds them according to customers taste has unveiled a new automobile in his workshop in Owerri, Imo State.

Tony Izuogu who shared his story and posted pictures on Facebook wrote: “The story of Alex Ephraims will do no less than inspire and excite every sound mind. He was one of very few competent modernized and automated mechanic workshops in Owerri.

“His exploits were so much that IMO state government of Rochas Okorocha entered into a deal with him (back in Rochas’ first term) to do all kinds of things that would have transformed the state to a large extent under the auspices of ICAPS. (Well, government eventually frustrated the deal and Engr Alex pulled out).

“The foreign-trained automechanical expert relocated to his own base here in Owerri and continued pursuit of his dream.

“As soon as I returned to Nigeria from a business trip a few months ago, I was invited to see what he has been up to. What I saw left me thoroughly impressed.

“In a private workshop of no larger than two plots of land, he had set up a car manufacturing plant here in Owerri. And he already had a finished product sample.

“That’s not the best part. What he does is akin to what a tailor does. He has a catalog of various car designs and specs. You peruse the catalog, choose any design you like and he produces it for you with any type of facilities or utilities or technology you desire, be it reverse camera, or air conditioner, or speed control system. His is the first known car manufacturing firm with well developed customization services in Nigeria.

“He has a team of young men he picked and trained. They are specialists in their various fields of auto mechanical craft.

“No material is a waste. He runs a very efficient recycling process.

“Recently, he carried out a road test of his sample car. The IMO state commissioner of Police refused to deny himself the opportunity of seeing and testing the vehicle. The crowd that trailed the road test from his workshop to certain parts of Owerri was massive.

“Alex hails from Nwangele LGA of Imo State”

Hillary Clinton blames Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had a “personal beef” against her, and a late-hour FBI intervention over her email scandal for her loss to Donald Trump in the US election, a newspaper reported Friday.

Clinton, 69, has kept a low profile in the weeks since her shock defeat to the Republican billionaire, but made the remarks to campaign donors in Manhattan on Thursday night, The New York Times reported.

The Democratic former secretary of state won the popular vote by more than 2.7 million ballots but lost the crucial Electoral College by 232 to 306.

Trump walked away with the election because he won a string of swing states. Crucially his wins in three of those states, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, amounted to a combined total of around 100,000 votes.

The Times said Clinton told donors that a letter from FBI director James Comey revisiting her private server scandal dating back to her time as secretary of state, 10 days before the election, cost her close races in several states.

“Swing-state voters made their decisions in the final days breaking against me because of the FBI letter from Director Comey,” the Times quoted her as saying.

She said the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and her campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails stemmed from Putin’s “personal beef” against her, the newspaper reported.

Clinton said the reason was her accusation that Russia’s 2011 parliamentary elections were rigged.

“Putin publicly blamed me for the outpouring of outrage by his own people, and that is the direct line between what he said back then and what he did in this election,” the Times quoted her as saying.

On Thursday, Podesta lashed out at the FBI in a scathing op-ed published in The Washington Post, slamming the Federal Bureau of Investigation for its “failure” to adequately respond to the Democratic Party email hacks.

An investigation published by the Times earlier this week said that when the FBI discovered the hack in September 2015, it left phone messages with the DNC “help desk” but did not warn senior Democratic officials or visit in person.

“Comparing the FBI’s massive response to the overblown email scandal with the seemingly lackadaisical response to the very real Russian plot to subvert a national election shows that something is deeply broken at the FBI,” he wrote.

In the immediate aftermath of the election, however, some Democrats including advisers close to her husband, former president Bill Clinton, directed blame at Clinton’s own campaign.

The campaign reportedly ignored calls from Bill Clinton to spend more time focusing on disaffected white, working class voters — a key demographic that elected Bill Clinton twice and backed Trump.

Clinton did not visit Wisconsin as the Democratic nominee and only pushed late into Michigan after polls showed the race tightening.
AFP

Zimbabwe’s ruling party says the country’s 92-year-old president, Robert Mugabe, is certain to be endorsed as the party’s presidential candidate for elections in 2018.

Ignatius Chombo, secretary for administration of the ZANU-PF party, said Wednesday that Mugabe will get the endorsement at the party’s annual conference this week.

Chombo says Mugabe brings ‘wisdom and unity’ to his leadership of Zimbabwe, which is struggling with a dire economic situation that has prompted periodic protests against the government.

Mugabe, who has ruled this southern African country since independence from white minority rule in 1980, won elections in 2013 despite allegations of voting irregularities. He turns 93 in February.

Mugabe previously said he wants to rule until he dies, although he said he is open to retirement if asked by his party.

His age and frequent rumours about his health have stoked a scramble in ZANU-PF over who should eventually succeed Mugabe.

Looking frail and labouring through a 40-minute speech, Mugabe condemned what he called ‘dirty politics’ in the party during an address to the ZANU-PF Central Committee ahead of a two-day annual conference starting on Friday.

‘There is nothing wrong in expressing an ambition, an aspiration, aspiring for position in leadership or for any other higher post in the party,’ Mugabe said.

‘But I have, however, frowned upon shameless and unbridled ambition, which seeks to ride roughshod over others. The tradition of our party is never one of bickering over party positions.’

One faction is widely believed to be manoeuvring to impose Mugabe’s wife Grace as a successor, another backs Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who has the support of war veterans.

Political analysts say Mugabe has manipulated politics to set himself up as a president for life and fear instability if he dies in office before the matter of his successor is resolved.

Dailymail.co.uk

President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the immediate payment of all outstanding allowances and bonuses being owed the Super Falcons, an official said on Wednesday in Abuja.

The Falcons had earlier on Wednesday embarked on a protest march against the non-payment of their allowances by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

The footballers, who won the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (AWCON) for the eighth time in Cameroon, had initially refused to leave their hotel rooms at Agura Hotel in Abuja.

They had, upon returning from the competition which they won on Dec. 3, been waiting for the payment at the hotel where they were accommodated by the NFF.

But on Wednesday they staged a protest march, carrying various placards with inscriptions along the roads between the National Assembly and the secretariat gate of the Presidential Villa.

Speaking later, the Chief of Staff to President Buhari, Abba Kyari, told State House correspondents on Wednesday that the issue had been resolved.

He said government had since directed appropriate authorities to settle the players’ allowances and bonuses.

“The problem has been resolved. They have done us proud and we congratulated them. The Ministries of Sports and Finance have been directed to pay tomorrow (Thursday).

“I don’t know the details of the arrears. But they have been directed to pay,” the presidential aide said.

Kyari, who earlier spoke with the players on Wednesday during their protest march to the Aso Rock Villa gate, had urged them to return to their hotel rooms.

He had assured them that their outstanding payment would be settled within 24 hours.

The players, led by team captain Rita Chikwelu, had during the protest expressed their displeasure at the non-payment of their allowances and bonuses.(NAN)