Connect with us

News

Gambian President Barrow wins re-election; opposition cries foul

Published

on

Gambia's President Adama Barrow.

Gambian President Adama Barrow has comfortably won re-election, the electoral commission said on Sunday, though he may face a legal challenge from opposition candidates who rejected the results because of unspecified irregularities.

The vote was the first in 27 years without disgraced former President Yahya Jammeh, who was forced into exile in Equatorial Guinea after refusing to accept defeat to Barrow in 2016.

Jammeh’s despotic 22-year rule over the small West African nation of 2.5 million people, which began with a 1994 coup, was characterised by killings and torture of political opponents.

Saturday’s peaceful election was seen by many as a victory for democracy that helped draw a line under that troublesome period.

Once cowed by Jammeh’s omnipresent secret police, crowds of people hit the streets of Banjul on Sunday night to celebrate, or drove around in their cars, honking horns. Hundreds gathered in a park opposite the presidential palace to listen to Barrow speak.

“Democracy has taken its course,” Barrow told the cheering crowd after the results were announced. “I have been the lucky person to be chosen by you. I’ll use all the resources to make Gambia a better place for all.”

Barrow’s first term provided a welcome change for many to Jammeh’s brutal tenure. But progress was hobbled by the coronavirus pandemic, which damaged an economy that relies heavily on tourism, as well as exports of peanuts and fish.

In the run-up to the election, Jammeh had tried to persuade supporters to vote for an opposition coalition in telephoned speeches that were relayed to campaign rallies.

But he failed to dent Barrow’s following. The president received around 53 percent of Saturday’s vote, far outstripping his nearest rival, political veteran Ousainou Darboe, who won about 28 percent.

As results came in on Sunday, representatives from all opposition parties signed off on nearly all the tally sheets read to the election commission.

But later in the day, Darboe and two other candidates, Mama Kandeh and Essa Mbye Faal, said they would not accept the results because the results took longer than expected and because of problems at polling stations.

They did not provide specifics or evidence of wrongdoing.

“We are concerned that there had been an inordinate delay in the announcement of results,” their statement said. “A number of issues have been raised by our party agents and representatives at the polling stations.”

The statement did not say what they would do now, only stating that “all actions are on the table.”

News

UN: Philippine typhoon destruction ‘badly underestimated’

Published

on

By

The United Nations said destruction caused by Typhoon Rai in the Philippines had been “badly underestimated” in initial assessments, tripling the number of people “seriously affected” to nine million.

A UN campaign to raise $107.2 million in aid for victims was launched a week after the storm ravaged southern and central regions of the archipelago on December 16, leaving 406 people dead and hundreds of thousands homeless.

But UN Resident Coordinator in the Philippines Gustavo Gonzalez said Thursday the target would be revised after more than 66 field assessments showed the destruction was far worse than initially thought.

“One month since the first landfall of Super Typhoon Rai we realize that we have badly underestimated the scale of devastation,” Gonzalez told a virtual briefing.

More than 1.5 million houses were damaged or destroyed in the storm — almost a third more than in 2013’s Super Typhoon Haiyan — Gonzalez said, adding more resources were “badly needed.”

Only 40 percent of the funds had been received, Gonzalez said, calling for solidarity with the Philippines to avoid the typhoon becoming a “forgotten crisis.”

Typhoon-hit areas already struggling with COVID-19, poverty and malnutrition had seen their economies “literally flattened.”

“This is a very fragile region,” he said.

Humanitarian groups have been working with the government to distribute food packs, drinking water, tents and materials to rebuild houses.

But the scale of the disaster, lack of power and communications in some areas, and depleted government coffers after the COVID-19 response have hampered efforts to distribute aid.

An omicron-fueled surge in infections is also forcing relief workers into isolation and making travel more difficult.

Persistent rain in the region was adding to the misery, Gonzalez said.

“We are talking about a crisis within a crisis,” he said.

Rai, the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines last year, intensified faster than expected, officials said previously.

Scientists have long warned that typhoons are strengthening more rapidly as the world becomes warmer because of human-driven climate change.

The Philippines — ranked among the most vulnerable nations to its impacts — is hit by an average of 20 storms every year.

In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to have made landfall, leaving over 7,300 people dead or missing.

Continue Reading

News

Iran, Russia and China begin joint naval drill

Published

on

By

Iran, Russia and China on Friday began a joint naval drill in the Indian Ocean aimed at boosting marine security, state media reported.

Iran’s state TV said 11 of its vessels were joined by three Russian ships including a destroyer, and two Chinese vessels. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard will also participate with smaller ships and helicopters.

The report said the maneuvers would cover some 17,000 square kilometers, or 10,600 miles, in the Indian Ocean’s north, and include night fighting, rescue operations and firefighting drills.

This is the third joint naval drill between the countries since 2019. It coincided with a recent visit by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi to Russia that ended on Thursday.

“Improving bilateral relations between Tehran and Moscow will enhance security for the region and the international arena,” Raisi said upon returning from Russia on Friday, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Tehran has sought to step up military cooperation with Beijing and Moscow amid regional tensions with the United States. Visits to Iran by Russian and Chinese naval representatives have also increased in recent years.

Iran has been holding regular military drills in recent months, as attempts to revive its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers flounder.

Russia is also at loggerheads with the US and the West over its neighbor Ukraine, where it has sent some 100,000 troops that Washington, Kiev and their allies fear will be used to invade the country.

Russia on Thursday announced sweeping naval maneuvers in multiple areas involving the bulk of its naval potential — over 140 warships and more than 60 aircraft — to last through February. The exercises will be in the Black Sea, the Mediterranean, the northeastern Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean, in addition to the joint exercise with Iran in the Indian Ocean.

Continue Reading

News

Four people including baby freeze to death near US-Canada border

Published

on

By

Canadian authorities found the bodies of four people including a baby who apparently froze to death in a blizzard a few meters from the US border along a route used by migrants, officials said Thursday.

The temperature Wednesday when the bodies were found amid vast snowdrifts, taking into account the wind, was minus 35 degrees Celsius (minus 31 degrees Fahrenheit).

“At this very early stage of the investigation, it appears that they all died due to exposure to the cold weather,” the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said in a statement.

The bodies of two adults and a baby were found about 12 meters (yards) from the US border about 10 kilometers (six miles) from the town of Emerson in central Manitoba province.

The body of a fourth person who appeared to be a teenage boy was found later, police said.

Earlier in the day, border agents on the US side detained a group of people who had just crossed over and had baby items with them but no baby. This triggered a search on both sides of the border.

The first bodies were found after four hours of searching.

The US Department of Justice said Thursday they had arrested a man along the same route, charging him with human smuggling.

The 47-year-old Florida native was found driving a van with two undocumented Indian nationals inside less than one mile south of the Canadian border, the Department said, near where the group of migrants was arrested.

The nationalities of the deceased were not given, though the US Department of Justice said they were “tentatively identified” to be separated members of the same group that was arrested.

Manitoba Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy told an earlier press conference she considered these people “victims.”

“We’re very concerned that this attempted crossing may have been facilitated in some way and that these individuals including an infant were left on their own in the middle of a blizzard when the weather had hovered around minus 35 degrees Celsius, factoring the wind,” she said.

“These victims face not only the cold weather, but also endless fields, large snowdrifts, and complete darkness,” she added.

Police used snowmobiles and other all-terrain vehicles to search the area.

Emerson is along a route which migrants use to travel between the United States and Canada.

Crossing attempts have been down for a year because the border has been closed due to the pandemic, said MacLatchy.

Continue Reading

Trending