Thursday, 23 May 2019

Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom has quit the cabinet, saying she no longer believes the government’s approach will deliver Brexit.

Her resignation comes amid a backlash against Theresa May’s Brexit plan from Conservative MPs.

Several cabinet ministers have told the BBC that the PM cannot stay, with one saying it is “the end of the line”.

In a letter to Mrs Leadsom, the PM wrote she was “sorry to lose someone of [her] passion, drive and sincerity”.

Mrs May also said she disagreed with “the assessment you now give about our approach” to Brexit.

Mrs Leadsom previously ran for Tory leader but withdrew, clearing the path for Mrs May to become prime minister.

As Commons leader, she was in charge of organising government business and had been due to announce when the prime minister’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill would be introduced to Parliament.

Her resignation is the 36th by a minister under Theresa May – 21 of them over Brexit – and comes a day before the UK votes in the European elections.

The move came after a day of drama at Westminster in which anger grew at the prime minister’s attempt to win backing for the bill – the legislation needed to implement the agreement between the UK and EU on the terms of Brexit.

As part of it, Mrs May has offered a number of changes, including a chance for MPs to hold a vote on another referendum if they back the bill.

It is with great regret and a heavy heart that I have decided to resign from the Government.

In a letter to the prime minister, Mrs Leadsom – MP for South Northamptonshire – said she did not believe “the UK would be a truly sovereign United Kingdom through the deal that is now proposed”.

She also described holding another referendum as “dangerously divisive”, and said she was opposed to the government “willingly facilitating such a concession”.

Another referendum would “risk undermining our Union which is something I passionately want to see strengthened”, she said.

She also attacked the “breakdown of government processes”, saying that Brexit-related legislation proposals had not been “properly scrutinised”.

She concluded her letter by paying tribute to “the integrity, resolution and determination” of the prime minister and urging her to “make the right decisions in the interests of the country, the government and our party”.

But in her response, Mrs May said her bill would deliver Brexit for the UK, and sought to assure her departing colleague that she continued to be opposed to a second referendum – arguing it would be “divisive”.

‘A step too far’
BBC political correspondent Jonathan Blake said that Mrs Leadsom had made many compromises over Brexit.

“She clearly feels the new improved bill – as Theresa May has styled it – was a step too far,” he added.

“It is an extraordinary sequence of events for a key member of the Cabinet to resign on the eve of elections.

“It is unlikely that we will see others follow her immediately, but getting into Friday and the weekend, things could move swiftly.”

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said Home Secretary Sajid Javid “isn’t going anywhere”, but added that his backers said he wasn’t happy about the second referendum part of Mrs May’s offer.

Andrea Leadsom was the MP who stood against Theresa May for leadership of the Conservative Party in 2016, following David Cameron’s resignation after the EU referendum.

She decided to withdraw from the race, leaving Theresa May as PM, following an interview in which she suggested that being a mother made her a better candidate for the job.

Mrs Leadsom campaigned for Leave during the Brexit campaign, appearing on the panel at the final TV debate of the campaign at Wembley Arena, alongside Boris Johnson and then Labour MP Gisela Stuart.

She served as environment secretary between July 2016 and June 2017, and more recently as Leader of the House, a role which means she organises and announces government business in Parliament.

Tim Loughton – the Conservative MP who ran Mrs Leadsom’s campaign to be party leader – said she had “great integrity”, and left because she couldn’t support the prime minister’s bill.

Pro-EU Conservative MP Dominic Grieve said he was sorry that Mrs Leadsom had resigned, but added that some of this colleagues are “living in world of fantasy”.

“They refuse to accept they can’t carry out Brexit in the way that they want,” he said.

Labour MP Ian Lavery said the resignation showed “the prime minister’s authority is shot and her time is up”.

His colleague Jess Phillips praised Mrs Leadsom, saying: “I liked Leadsom. She had our back in the complaints process and she was vital in the proxy voting.”

‘Tough it out’
The minister’s resignation capped a difficult day for the prime minister who continued to resist calls to quit herself.

Several cabinet ministers broke cover on Wednesday afternoon to signal their unhappiness with the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, among them Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt also requested a private meeting with the PM to discuss the situation.

But BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said the PM declined to meet the ministers – both of whom are seen as possible contenders to be the next Conservative leader – and instead seemed determined to “tough it out”.

The 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs had been expected to vote on Wednesday evening on whether to change the party’s rules to allow an immediate vote of no confidence in the prime minister.

Current rules dictate that as the PM survived such a vote in December, she cannot face another one for 12 months.

Mrs May is now scheduled to meet the committee’s chairman, Sir Graham Brady on Friday.

Laura Kuenssberg said the PM appeared to have bought herself 36 hours.

The PM had already pledged to set a timetable for a new leader to take over after MPs vote on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. That, in theory at least, is expected to happen on 7 June.

Published in World

Somalia on Wednesday criticised neighbouring Kenya for deporting two Somali lawmakers and a minister after authorities in Nairobi blocked them from entering the country.

Senators Ilyas Ali and Zamzam Dahir and Minister Osman Liban arrived at Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Monday and were forced to spend hours there before being returned to Somalia on Tuesday.

In a letter on Wednesday, Somalia’s ministry of foreign affairs protested their detention and deportation.

“Somalia is concerned that several members of the Somali government … were detained by immigration officials, their passports confiscated, forcing them to return to Mogadishu,” the letter said.

It added that the actions risked hurting relations between the two and asked Kenya “to consider the potentially destabilising impact of these actions and to uphold … diplomatic norms in the spirit of reciprocity and mutual respect”.

Kenyan presidential spokesperson, Kanze Dena did not immediately return a call from Reuters seeking comment.

Relations between the two nations have been tested in the past by security measures taken by Kenyan authorities to try to stop attacks by al Shabaab group that Somalis often complain are sweeping and amount to collective punishment.

Kenya hosts a large refugee and non-refugee Somali population.

It is also a contributor of troops to the AU backed peacekeeping force AMISOM that helps defend Somalia’s central government from al Shabaab.

The Kenyan deployment in Somalia has in turn frequently been the target of retaliatory attacks by the militant group.

Gripped by insecurity and lawlessness since the 1990s, Somalia is eager to keep warm relations with neighbours, which the government sees as essential to its efforts to stabilise the country.

But Kenya and other neighbours also keep a wary eye on the Horn of Africa nation, eager to stop any potential spillovers of militants violence.

Somalia and Kenya have also had maritime territorial disputes in the past.

Published in Travel & Tourism

Nancy Pelosi is the most powerful woman in American politics and President Donald Trump’s most potent Democratic nemesis. The pair have sparred repeatedly, but the gloves really came off Wednesday.

Pelosi, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, started the day with an emergency meeting of House Democrats, as the possibility of impeaching Trump swirled over Capitol Hill.

After the meeting, she said the Republican leader was “engaged in a cover-up” – a likely reference to his alleged obstruction of justice with respect to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

Even though Mueller said he could not conclude that Trump actively attempted to thwart the probe, or conceal evidence of possible cooperation with Russia during his campaign, Democrats are unconvinced and are leading multiple investigations into his conduct.

Trump first hit back on Twitter, decrying a “Witch Hunt” against him and his administration, but his anger apparently got the better of him.

Then, he apparently shut down planned talks with Pelosi and top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer on an infrastructure initiative.

‘I Don’t Do Cover-ups’

And all of a sudden, journalists were hastily assembled in the White House Rose Garden for an unscheduled appearance by the 72-year-old president.

Trump did not hold back.

“Instead of walking in happily to a meeting, I walk in to look at people that just said that I was doing a cover-up. I don’t do cover-ups,” Trump boomed.

“Here is the bottom line – There was no collusion. There was no obstruction. (…) This whole thing was a takedown attempt at the president of the United States,” he said.

Trump then said he told Pelosi and Schumer: “So get these phony investigations over with.”

‘I Pray for The President’

Shortly thereafter, the Democratic leaders convened their own press conference.

Pelosi – whose slow, exaggerated clap for Trump at his last State of the Union went viral – said the president “took a pass” on collaborating with her party.

“And it just makes me wonder why he did that. In any event, I pray for the president of the United States and I pray for the United States of America,” she said.

Schumer chimed in on Trump’s appearance: “To watch what happened in the White House would make your jaw drop.”

‘So Sad’

Trump, not exactly known for letting others have the last word, clapped back on Twitter.

“So sad that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer will never be able to see or understand the great promise of our Country,” he wrote.

“They can continue the Witch Hunt which has already cost $40M and been a tremendous waste of time and energy for everyone in America, or get back to work,” he added.

And with a final flourish, he addressed Pelosi: “Nancy, thank you so much for your prayers, I know you truly mean it!”

Published in World

African Development Bank commissions value chain study into jewelry manufacturing and jobs for women and youth in Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe and the Republic of Guinea.

The African Development Bank has commissioned a study into the contribution of the jewelry manufacturing industry and its potential for job creation for women and youth in Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe and the Republic of Guinea.

The initial US $1.4-million project, will entail a value chain analysis study examining the sector’s contributions to value addition and job creation. It will be financed under the Bank’s Transition Support Facility and implemented over 24 months, in coordination with the relevant ministries and agencies in all three countries.

The proposed project aims to create hundreds of jobs in each of the three pilot countries in addition to offering training in cutting, polishing and jewelry manufacturing for women and youth entrepreneurs operating in the jewelry manufacturing value chain.

“The mining industry plays a critical role in many Sub-Saharan African economies and offers great potential for sustainable job creation, private sector development and women’s empowerment. However, the resource boom has provided limited opportunities for the local population. With this project, the African Development Bank invests in downstream activities such as jewelry manufacturing, to stimulate local economies, foster inclusive growth and integrate African SMEs into global mineral value chains,” Bank Director for Gender, Women and Civil Society, Vanessa Moungar, said.

The overarching goal of the minerals value chain analysis is to address the capacity gaps in jewelry manufacturing and assess its impact on value addition, job creation, and the economic empowerment of youth and women. There is an identified opportunity for jewelry manufacturing in the selected countries to be scaled up through the provision of skills transfer and required technology. The initial study will directly help to address the lack of skills and create a better understanding of adding value in the industry, with the ultimate goal of reducing fragility in all three countries and building resilience.

“Transforming semi-precious minerals and gemstones into jewelry, supported by training for value addition activities, holds the promise of creating more jobs and enhancing the lives of youth and women in the first three targeted African countries of the project,” said Cosmas Ochieng, Director of the African Natural Resources Centre.

The study will also explore how to enhance the welfare of the vulnerable groups identified, how to stimulate private-sector growth in the targeted countries, while addressing the issue of illegal migration to the West.

Published in Business

Anheuser-Busch InBev NV has invested $200 million in its operations in Africa since the world’s largest brewer bought SABMiller in 2016, according to Chief Executive Officer Carlos Brito.

According to Bloomberg News, AB Inbev, based in Leuven in Belgium, has invested the bulk of that money in South Africa and Nigeria, Brito said in Johannesburg on Wednesday. That includes a new brewery near Lagos, the commercial capital of Africa’s most populous country.

The world’s largest brewers, including AB-InBev and rival Heineken NV, are investing in Africa to take advantage of rising beer consumption in the world’s least developed continent.

Demand in Africa was cited as a significant factor in the decision to buy Johannesburg-based SAB, since when, AB Inbev has since sought to expand the availability of signature brands such as Budweiser and Stella Artois, while retaining a commitment to SAB’s best sellers such as Castle lager.

In October 2016, the Belgium-based company acquired leading South African company, SABMiller and the move has seen it tighten its grip across Africa to 14 other countries. Currently, the company produces a third of the world’s beer with over 500 brands across 100 countries.

Since its grand entry into the continent with the acquisition of SABMiller, AB InBev has enjoyed a soothing cruise in the control of Africa’s beer market, recording a growth of more than 20 per cent this year. But the recent unprecedented move by its fierce competitor and the second-largest brewery company has kept the company on its toes, initiating new plans.

With earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in South Africa leapfrogging to 21 percent in 2017, there are high expectations and optimism about the success of the company in Mozambique. In March, AB InBev revealed plans to invest $100 million in a new 1 million hectolitre per year brewery in Tanzania in addition to over $250 million in investments in Nigeria, reaffirming its position as a superpower in the evolving African beer industry.

The rise in beer consumption across Africa is one of the major factors responsible for the growth of beer makers in Africa. According to the statistics released by Global data, beer consumption in Africa is estimated to grow by five per cent annual growth rate (AGR) between 2015 and 2020. The figure is the highest growth rate across all continents in the world, taking Africa to a vantage point in beer consumption in the world.


- Bloomberg

Published in Business

British Prime Minister Theresa May stared at the prospect Wednesday of her political career coming to an inglorious end after her final attempt to save her hated Brexit deal was almost universally condemned by parliament.

The beleaguered premier is in the last throes of a tumultuous rule focused all-but exclusively on guiding her fractured country out of the European Union in one piece.

But three overwhelming rejections by parliament of the terms she struck with the other 27 nations last year have forced Britain to miss the original March 29 departure date and plead for more time.

May is now paying the price for failing to deliver on the wishes of voters who chose by a narrow margin in 2016 to break their uneasy four-decade involvement in the European integration project.

Her Conservatives are set to get thumped in European Parliament elections Thursday in which the brand new Brexit Party of anti-EU populist Nigel Farage is running away with the polls.

Anxious members of May’s party were meeting behind closed doors Wednesday to discuss changes to the rules that would let them vote no-confidence in her leadership in the days to come.

May has already promised to step down no matter the outcome of her fourth attempt to ram her version of Brexit through parliament in early June.

But even that sacrifice — and a package of sweeteners unveiled Wednesday that included a chance for lawmakers to get a second Brexit referendum — failed to win hearts and minds.

“It’s time for the prime minister to go,” Ian Blackford of the pro-EU Scottish National Party told May as she tried to defend her latest proposals in parliament.

“Will she do it?”

May ignored the question and called the upcoming vote Britain’s last chance to leave the EU with a negotiated deal that can avert economic chaos.

“There are people who tell me I have compromised too much in the package being put forward, others telling me I have not compromised enough in the package being put forward,” she said with a note of exasperation in her voice.

“At some stage the House has to come together and we have to decide to go the distance together in order to deliver Brexit.”

Election drubbing
But things look to go only worse for May in the days and weeks to come.

The European elections are being interpreted in Britain as a referendum on both Brexit and May’s ability to get the job done. They make grim reading for the government team.

A YouGov survey Wednesday showed Farage’s Brexit Party claiming 37-percent support.

The pro-EU group of Liberal Democrats was second on 19 percent. The main opposition Labour Party was on 13 percent and May’s Conservatives were lagging in fifth place with just seven percent.

“If we win these elections and win them well, we have a democratic mandate,” Farage said Thursday.

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable told supporters that a vote for his party was “a vote to stop Brexit”.

His group’s open rejection of Brexit appears to be resonating with pro-EU voters who would normally back one of the two main parties.

‘We can do better’
May is still hoping to stay in power long enough to somehow win parliament’s approval of the EU divorce terms before its summer recess begins on July 20.

This would let the country leave at the end of that month — as long as lawmakers reject a second referendum.

Otherwise the process could be delayed until October 31 — the deadline set by the EU — or even later if its leaders grant Britain another postponement.

But pressure within both May’s government and party is building for her to go now so that a new leader can rescue the process before Britain crashes out without a deal.

UK media reports said that Wednesday’s meeting of rank-and-file Conservatives discussed changes in rules focused on pushing May out the door within days.

Discussions were expected to continue into Wednesday evening.

The field of candidates to succeed May is led by former foreign secretary Boris Johnson — a divisive figure who enjoys relatively strong public support.

Johnson said on Twitter he would not support May’s new package despite backing her “with great reluctance” the last time around.

“We can and must do better,” Johnson tweeted.

Published in World

The Federal Government of Nigeria says it will create more than four million jobs through oil palm production in the country.

Mr Sunday Akpan, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment said this in a statement signed by Mr Sorinolu Olayinka, Senior Information Officer in the ministry in Abuja on Wednesday.

Akpan, who was represented by the Director, Department of Commodity Produce and Inspectorate (CPI), Mrs Omololu Ope-Ewe, said this during the presentation of the draft Oil Palm Policy document value chain.

He said that Federal Government was working toward ensuring the repositioning of the Oil Palm sector for optimal contribution in terms of job creation and revenue sources for both government and the private sector.

Akpan said that oil palm which once played a predominant role in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country, depended on imported ones to augment local production.

He said the local production was just about one per cent GDP, unlike the contribution of 70 per cent GDP in the past.

Akpan said that potentiality in the sector with the propensity to sufficiently and conveniently to place the country as a major oil palm producer and exporter, “as against what is obtainable in the crude oil sector”.

“The essence of the national oil palm policy is to guide, regulate, protect and support both public and private investment in the sector,” he said.

He charged stakeholders to put aside personal and organisational interest and consider the draft policy document bearing in mind the impact it would create on the economy.

Akpan said that with the policy in place, the country would have a national document that would protect the sector, while due diligence would be done to stimulate investment for higher productivity.

He assured all stakeholders of government’s support for a robust oil palm industry that would be of immensed benefit for all, which upon completion, the document would be forwarded to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval.

Earlier, in her presentation of the draft policy document, Mrs Funmi Ilamah of the Management Strategy Advisory Ltd., said that the policy document was very important to the producers of the crude palm oil.

Ilamah said that the policy remained a fundamental step toward strengthening and supporting the development of agriculture in Nigeria as presently introduced by the current administration and the private sector.

She said that the final National Policy Document on Palm Oil value chain in Nigeria would allow producers to complete globally in the international market.

According to her, the policy will ncrease the sources of revenue to government at state and federal levels and boost job creation in the country.

Published in Agriculture

The South African Government says it is committed to using its justice system and law enforcement agencies to ensure that perpetrators of violence are brought to book.

Mr Bobby Moroe, Acting High Commissioner of South Africa to Nigeria made this known at the country’s 25th National Freedom Day celebration in Abuja on Wednesday.

Moroe was responding to a question raised on the spate of farm attacks in that country.

Attacks on farms in South Africa are considered as violent crimes in the same category as murder, assault and robbery.

Such attacks are usually targeted at farmers and and other farm workers.

According to reports, on the average, attacks on farms happen every day in South Africa.

The oldest victim was 88 years old and during each episode, at least four people perpetrate the crime.

The most recent attack involved a 50-year-old activist, Annette Kennealy, who was found murdered on her farm near Makhado in Limpopo.

Her body was found with several wounds to her head while a hammer and iron pipe suspected to be the murder weapons were found next to her body.

Authority arrested a suspect for the heinous crime.

Moroe further told newsmen that South Africa had “one of the most powerful constitutions in the world”.

“You will know that we have one of the most powerful constitutions in the world and one of the mantras of our constitution is that South Africa belongs to all those who live in it regardless of their gender, race or religion.

“Our government’s justice system is anchored on this very strong principle of the constitution that we have.

“Our government also continues to make use of all the justice system models and law enforcement agencies to make sure that perpetrators violence, transgressors of the law are brought to book,” he said.

Published in Agriculture

Ghana national team captain Asamoah Gyan on Wednesday reversed his decision to retire from international football, just weeks before the Africa Cup of Nations.

The striker said Monday he was quitting the national team after he was angered by coach Kwasi Appiah’s plan to strip him of the captaincy for next month’s finals in Egypt.

But President Nana Akufo-Addo intervened on Tuesday by telephoning the Turkey-based player, urging him to make himself available for selection.

Gyan in a statement said he has accepted the president’s request and was ready for the tournament.

“A presidential request is one that cannot be disregarded… I have taken the request of His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in good faith, and will make myself available for selection by coach Kwasi Appiah,” the 33-year-old forward said in a statement.

“My desire to help Ghana end the over three-decade-long wait to annex the AFCON trophy still burns strong and I remain committed to serving this great nation and the people of Ghana,” he added.

The tournament, expanded to 24 teams for the first time, kicks off on June 21.

The Black Stars are in Group F with defending champions Cameroon, Benin and Guinea-Bissau.

Gyan made his international debut at the age of 17 against Somalia in 2003.

He is Ghana’s all-time leading goalscorer with 51 goals in 106 appearances for the national team.

He has also featured at three World Cups, in 2006, 2010 and 2014.

Published in World

The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has launched a Checklist for assessing Quality of Service in Federal Tertiary Health Institutions (FTHIs).

The institutions included the National Surgical Obstetric, Anaesthesia and Nursing Plan (NSOANP) for Nigeria.

Launched the plan on Tuesday in Abuja, Adewole stressed the need to evaluate the health system and do things right.

He said that the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) had developed a checklist for assessing the FTHIs in Nigeria.

According to him, the evaluation of the institutions must have the following: impartiality, productivity, quality in health and improved environment.

Mr Lawal Olubunmi, the Chief Executive Officer, Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Care Foundation, said the aim of the plan is to bring quality and affordable healthcare services close to the people.

Published in World
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