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Somalian-American Mohamed Mohamed elected President

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Mogadishu (AFP) – Former Somali prime minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who holds joint American citizenship, was elected president on Wednesday, vowing to crack down on corruption and Al-Shabaab militants.

The 55-year-old former premier, whose hails from the Darod clan and who goes by the nickname “Farmajo”, won after incumbent president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud acknowledged defeat in a second round of voting by lawmakers.

“This is the beginning of unity for the Somali nation, the beginning of the fight against Shabaab and corruption”, a triumphant Farmajo said after being declared the winner in a long, drawn-out election process in the conflict-wracked nation.

Civilians took to the streets and soldiers fired celebratory gunfire in the capital Mogadishu which had been near-deserted for two days with roads and schools closed and residents urged to stay indoors for fear of a strike on the capital by Shabaab militants.

And Somali refugees in Dadaab, the world’s biggest refugee camp in eastern Kenya, also erupted with joy and sang the national anthem when hearing Farmajo had won, according to an AFP correspondent.

“Time has come for us Somalis. I thank God. This is the man we need, he cares for us, he cares for the poor men and women,” said 60-year-old Anfi Kassim who has lived in the camp since 1992.

The United States said it regretted the numerous reports of electoral fraud, but urged Farmajo to use his new mandate to “deliver good governance” to the needy Horn of Africa state.

After six hours and two rounds of voting, a crowded field of 21 presidential candidates was whittled down to the two veteran politicians.

Farmajo failed to win the required two-thirds majority, but had 184 votes to Mohamud’s 97, prompting the incumbent to drop out to avoid a third round.

The father of four served as prime minister for only eight months between 2010 and 2011 and was ousted in a deal to form a new government and postpone elections that year.

However several of his moves, such as implementing regular payments of soldiers, were well received and many supporters took to the streets of Mogadishu to protest his removal.

Farmajo was born in the capital to a family from the southern Gedo region, and moved to the United States where he studied history and political science at the University of Buffalo.

He went on to work in the foreign ministry and as a diplomat in Washington before the collapse of Siad Barre’s military regime in 1991 which led to civil war and decades of anarchy in Somalia.

– Limited vote –

Farmajo also ran for president in 2012, in the first election inside the country since 1991. In that election only 135 clan elders picked the lawmakers who went on to elect the president.

In 2016 Somalia had been promised a one-person, one-vote election. However political infighting and insecurity saw the plan ditched for a limited vote running six months behind schedule.

Although the election is billed as its most democratic in nearly five decades, only 14,000 delegates were able to vote for the lawmakers who went on to elect the president.

The long, drawn-out election has largely consisted of horsetrading between different clans, with widespread allegations of vote-buying and corruption, leaving it a distant process to the average Somali.

The internationally-backed government still has limited control over a country where swathes of countryside are controlled by Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab militants who regularly launch deadly strikes against Mogadishu.

– ‘Most expensive election’ –

If Farmajo is serious about cracking down on corruption, he has his work cut out for him in a country listed as the most corrupt in the world by Transparency International.

Mogadishu-based anti-corruption NGO Marqaati in a report released this week described rampant vote-buying, and alleged that civil servants had gone unpaid for seven months and public lands sold off to fund lobbying for MP positions.

“When delegates refused to take money and vote a certain way, they would be replaced, intimidated, harassed and, in some incidences… shot,” read the report.

The report said some delegates were paid up to $30,000 each to vote for MPs, while presidential candidates seeking to sway MP votes were reported to have to fork out $50,000 to $100,000 per lawmaker.

“The electoral process has been subject to serious allegations of fraud and corruption, some of them clearly substantiated,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

The US State Department said that it regretted “numerous credible reports of irregularities in the electoral process”, but that it would work with Farmajo “to advance reconciliation, drought relief, security, and build the strong institutions to deliver good governance and development for the Somali people.”

Francisco Caetano Madeira, chair of the African Union Mission for Somalia, which has been helping the country to combat the Shabaab, also urged the new administration “to use the next four years in office to enhance reconciliation and unity”.

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AFRICA

World SOCCER SHOWDOWN: South Africa backs Morocco; U.S under pressure

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Special to USAfrica [Houston]  • USAfricaonline.com  •  @Chido247  @USAfricalive

“It is an old myth that Africa doesn’t have the capacity, and naysayers should stop using the political argument. Africa hosted the best Fifa World Cup ever and with good support, Morocco can emulate South Africa,” said the SAFA president Jordaan.

Johannesburg – South Africa Football Association (SAFA) president Danny Jordaan has promised Morocco that South Africa will give its unqualified support to secure another World Cup on the African continent in 2026.

Morocco is vying to stage the world’s biggest football prize against a joint bid by Canada, Mexico and the U.S.

The Moroccan delegation comprises ex-Senegal and Liverpool striker El Hadji Diouf and former Cameroonian goalkeeper Joseph-Antoine Bell.

Jordaan said it would be great for Africa to have a second bite of the World Cup cherry, adding Morocco’s bid was Africa’s bid.

Jordaan assured Morocco that he would personally lobby for the Council for Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) and the rest of the continent to rally behind the Moroccans.

In his remarks, Antoine Bell said Morocco had all the ingredients to host another spectacular World Cup.

“South Africa showed the way and I am confident Morocco will follow suit. The country has international standards, from the stadiums to top infrastructure. Morocco can compete with the best in the world,” he said.

By giving Morocco its support, South Africa’s voice would make all the difference on the continent, Bell said.

“When South Africa talks on the continent, the rest of the continent listens hence it is vital for South Africa to support Morocco. South Africa has the experience and Morocco will use this experience to win the 2016 bid,” added Bell. African News Agency

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AFRICA

USAfrica: Catholic priest Etienne killed by militia in DR Congo, after a wedding mass

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Special to USAfrica [Houston]  •  @USAfricaLIVE

Goma – A Catholic priest was found shot dead hours after he said mass in Democratic Republic of Congo’s restive North Kivu province, a member of the church told AFP.

“Father Etienne Sengiyumva was killed [on] Sunday by the Mai Mai Nyatura (militia) in Kyahemba where he had just celebrated a mass including a baptism and a wedding,” father Gonzague Nzabanita, head of the Goma diocese where the incident occurred, told AFP.

The Mai Mai Nyatura are an armed group operating in North Kivu, in eastern DRC.

Nzabanita said Sengiyumva, 38, had had lunch with local faithful before “we found him shot in the head”.

North and South Kivu provinces are in the grip of a wave of violence among militia groups, which often extort money from civilians or fight each other for control of mineral resources.

Last week unknown assailants kidnapped a Catholic priest in North Kivu, demanding $500 000 for his release.

Eastern DRC has been torn apart by more than 20 years of armed conflict, fuelled by ethnic and land disputes, competition for control of the region’s mineral resources, and rivalry between regional powers.

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USAfrica: Nigeria’s LOOTERS LIST and Buhari’s selective corruption targets. By Majeed Dahiru

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PDP vs APC Looters List and Buhari’s selective corruption targets

By Majeed Dahiru

Special to USAfrica {Houston] • USAfricaonline.com • @USAfricaLive

 

Timipriye Silva, a former governor and PDP chieftain, who became a founding member and financier of APC, had his corruption charges quashed by a federal high court and Buhari’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) failed to appeal the N19.5 billion fraud case.

More curious are the missing names of some accused looters with marital ties to Nigeria’s First and Second families. Gimba Yau Kumo, the PDP appointed former managing director of the Federal Mortgage Bank and now son-in-law of President Buhari, who was similarly accused of fraudulent activities amounting to about N3 billion and reportedly being investigated by EFCC, is missing from [Buhari’s Information Minister] Lai Mohammed’s list.

For a party that has been accused of destroying Nigeria by squandering accrued oil revenues estimated at over $500 billion in sixteen years, it is confounding that Lai’s list is not only exclusively comprised of PDP looters but also captures the last two years of PDP’s last lap in power and included just Goodluck Jonathan’s associates, who supported him against candidate Buhari, while also relating only to funds used in the last electioneering campaign of the PDP.

Whenever the obviously abysmal performance of the Muhammadu Buhari administration appears to be gaining sustained attention, and leading to murmuring within the rank and file of his supporters, a tale of humungous looting by opposition elements is usually spun and thrown into the public space to distract people away from the core issue of the failure of governance.

Like a fit of deja vu, the recently unveiled list of looters by Lai Mohammed, a fellow who comes across as more of President Muhammadu Buhari’s chief propagandist than a minister of the federal republic of Nigeria in charge of information and culture, didn’t come as a surprise. The list is all too familiar as the unveiling was a summarised rehash of politically exposed individuals who are members of the opposition party, close associates of former President Goodluck Jonathan, particularly his appointees in government, who have been named and shamed several times in well-coordinated media trials.

First on Lai’s list is Uche Secondus, the chairman of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Lai had this to say of Secondus: “On the 19th of February 2015, he took N200 million only from the office of the NSA”. An unidentified former financial secretary of the PDP was similarly accused of “taking” N600 million from the same office of the National Security Adviser. Lai Mohammed also re-revealed that frontline member of PDP and media mogul, who deployed his media power to promote Goodluck Jonathan by de-marketing the Buhari candidacy in the run up to 2015 presidential election, Raymond Dokpesi, is on trial for “taking” N2.1 billion from the office of the then NSA. Lai also reminded Nigerians that his shouting match and former spokesman of the PDP, Olisa Metuh is on trial for “collecting” N1.4 billion from the same office of the NSA.

Lai Mohammed’s expanded follow up list included the usual suspects – former ministers, PDP state governors, service chiefs, presidential aides, associates and family members of former President Goodluck Jonathan, who were collectively accused of looting Nigeria of close to $2.1 billion through the office of the former NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.).

The choice of words like “took” and “collected” deployed by Lai to describe the manner in which those named received these monies was deliberate for the maximum effect of propaganda, portraying the accused persons as looters who broke into NSA vault and catered away boxes of cash at something akin to a gun point.

While the clamp down on PDP looters who supported Goodluck Jonathan and are still members of the former ruling party has been heavy handed, others who decamped from PDP to the All Progressives Congress (APC) on the eve of the 2015 elections and supported candidate Buhari’s campaign with their share of loot have been forgiven. For example, former NSA, Sambo Dasuki is being treated as an apostate for his role in the disbursement of funds that were used to oil Goodluck Jonathan’s electioneering effort. He has been kept in detention illegally and in defiance of several judicial rulings. Judging by the Buhari administration’s anti-corruption standard of an accusation being tantamount to guilt, in clear contempt of court proceedings by the resort to the naming and shaming suspects even before investigations and criminal prosecution are concluded and convictions obtained, it becomes curious that Lai’s list didn’t reveal any new name. Rather some names were either missing or omitted from what is a familiar list. This appears so because the bulk of PDP bigwigs who “destroyed” Nigeria in sixteen years of national rule are firmly in control of the APC, from its elected national executives to the National Assembly and appointed members of the federal executive council. The majority of APC-elected governors were also former members of the PDP. Even recently decamped PDP members to APC, such as Musiliu Obanikoro and Sulivan Chime, who have been prominently named and shamed in the recent past, were conspicuously missing from the released list of looters.

More curious are the missing names of some accused looters with marital ties to the first and second families. Gimba Yau Kumo, a former PDP appointed managing director of the Federal Mortgage Bank and now son-in-law of President Buhari, who was similarly accused of fraudulent activities amounting to about N3 billion and reportedly being investigated by EFCC, is missing from Lai’s list. Also missing on that list is Bola Shagaya.

Arguably one of Africa’s richest women, with a reputation for close business and political ties to all first families in the past two decades, Bola Shagaya was exceptionally close to the Goodluck Jonathan family. Often described as a bosom friend of former first lady Patience Jonathan, she has been accused, in numerous instances, allegedly, of acting as Patience Jonathan’s front for the laundering of illicit money estimated at over N13 billion, while engaging in other fraudulent activities involved in state capture. All that may be in the past now as she has found her way back to reckoning with the marriage of her son, Seun Bakare to Damilola, the daughter of Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo. Little wonder then, Bola Shagaya’s name is not on Lai’s looters list.

In a clear display of the arrogance of ignorance, the Buhari administration has narrowed its war on corruption to the hounding of members of the Jonathan administration, other individuals and organisations that were known to have worked against the emergence of the President [Buhari] in the 2015 presidential elections. This is clearly evident in the selective nature of the current anti-corruption effort.

The tone of generalisation of the PDP as the problem of Nigeria, as an indicator of corruption, should make all members of PDP (both former and present) and their collaborators in other parties guilty, hence qualifying them for naming and shaming, while being liable for criminal prosecution.

Therefore, Buhari’s list of looters is devoid of integrity, because his selective war on corruption is indicative of corruption in itself. All that is required of a former PDP looter is to get baptised into APC and profess Buhari as the saviour of Nigeria. This is precisely responsible for the failure and ineffectiveness of the war on corruption. Nothing has changed as the current APC looters continue to loot Nigeria, while the redeemed former PDP looters continue to enjoy their loot in hibernation under the abundant grace of the infallible Buhari.

• Dahiru is based in Abuja 

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