Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Malawian President Peter Mutharika was narrowly re-elected with 38.57% of the vote ahead of opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera with 35.41%, official results from last week's election showed Monday.

The vote count was released after a court battle, with Chakwera's party obtaining a temporary injunction to bar the release of results over alleged vote-rigging.

The Malawi Electoral Commission said Mutharika, who heads the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), took nearly 159,000 more votes than Chakwera, of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP).

The result is likely to trigger criticism from Chakwera, who had warned of alleged attempts to rig the election and said his party's own count showed him ahead. The electoral body stopped releasing results updates Friday after receiving 147 complaints from parties involved in Tuesday's vote. 

Chakwera's MCP went to court over what it claimed were irregularities in results from 10 of the country's 28 districts. Opposition parties have complained that figures on many vote count sheets were altered using correction fluid.

MCP spokesman Eisenhower Mkaka said at the weekend the party had turned to the courts because of "very glaring irregularities" on results sheets.



Published in Economy

Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has been removed from office following a vote of no-confidence on Monday in parliament. Also sacked was his entire cabinet over a corruption scandal, called Ibiza-gate, that first brought down his coalition partners.

FPOe leader and Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache resigned from both posts after he was caught on video appearing to offer public contracts in return for campaign help from a fake Russian backer.

That led to Kurz ending his coalition with the FPOe and calling early elections for the autumn, but the opposition say the 32-year-old leader must also take responsibility for the scandal.

“An application (by the opposition Social Democrats) has been accepted, so he has lost the confidence” of parliament, deputy speaker Doris Bures said.

The sacking of Kurz and his cabinet comes just after Kurz celebrated a big win for his conservative People’s Party (OeVP) in Sunday’s European elections, which is projected to gain 34.9 percent of the vote and two extra European parliament seats.

The no-confidence vote against Kurz and his government took place in a special sitting of parliament with more than half of MPs withdrawing their support, making him the shortest-serving chancellor, as well as the first in post-war Austrian history to be removed in this fashion.

Social Democrats (SPOe) leader Pamela Rendi-Wagner accused Kurz of an unprecedented “uncurbed and shameless power grab” when bringing forward the motion against him. Kurz’s former partner, the FPOe, also supported the motion.

It is now up to President Alexander Van der Bellen to appoint experts to lead the government and all the ministries until the elections.

Speaking in parliament before the vote, Kurz accused the opposition of causing instability with the motion against his government, but said if the vote succeeded, he would ensure an orderly transition to whoever is appointed next.

The far-right, meanwhile, seemed to have suffered a setback in Sunday’s vote over “Ibiza-gate”, falling from 19.7 percent to 17.2 percent and losing one of their four MEPs.

The scandal erupted following the publication on May 17 of hidden-camera recordings filmed in a luxury villa on the holiday island of Ibiza a few months before Austria’s last parliamentary elections in 2017.

Published in World

MTN Nigeria has lamented that it is currently experiencing an investigation in the hands of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over an allegation bothering on manipulation of its share that was recently listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

The telecommunications company on Saturday, in a statement signed by its secretary, Uto Ukpanah, confirmed the situation.

The company in the statement revealed that EFCC had already requested for some information relating to the May 16 listing.
Going further, MTN said it obtained all the necessary regulatory approvals before it commenced trading the stock.

“We wish to reiterate that we received all regulatory approvals required to list on the Nigerian Stock Exchange as publicly confirmed by the NSE Securities and Exchange Commission,” part of the statement read.

Recall that MTN’s head office in Lagos was raided on Friday by some officials of the EFFC.

The telecoms company has been embroiled in legal and regulatory issues in the past three years in Nigeria, which is its largest market in Africa.

The listing on the NSE was a condition of a settlement reached with the Nigerian Communications Commission in 2016 over failure to disconnect SIM cards of unregistered subscribers as directed by the commission.

Published in Business
Tuesday, 28 May 2019 08:06

Gambia jails 8 coup plotters

A court martial in The Gambia has jailed eight former soldiers for plotting to overthrow Gambia’s president Adama Barrow in 2017 with the help of his ousted predecessor.

Seven of the accused received a nine year sentence and one got three years.

The soldiers were led by a former military aide to ex-president Yahya Jammeh, who ruled Gambia for 22 years before losing an election in late 2016 to Barrow and then refusing to step down.

The plotters, who had pleaded not guilty, were charged with nine counts including treason for conspiring to detain ministers and military officials and attack an international force that had been set up in Gambia to retain order after Jammeh’s rancorous departure.

They were in contact with former president Jammeh over the messaging service WhatsApp, the Court Martial said, and discussed attacking troops in areas of the country still considered loyal to the former president.

Rights groups and the current government say Jammeh’s 22-year rule was marred by human rights abuses and fraud, allegations Jammeh denies.

Published in World

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) on Monday said it has shelved its threat to demolish over 7,000 telecommunications masts belonging to some telecommunications providers erected across the country.

Mr Sam Adurogboye, General Manager, Public Relations, NCAA, confirmed the development to newsmen in Lagos.

He said the NCAA decided to withdraw the threat following the compliance of the affected companies with its directive to obtain the statutory Aviation Height Clearance (AHC).

“As you will recall, we sent out letters to them and the action has triggered them to a positive action that we want.

“It has prompted them to come around to discuss how to pay the outstanding money.

“We won’t get to the stage of dismantling since they have come and we are talking.

“The NCAA has opened line of communication with Global Communications Limited and others and hopefully, there will be no need to enforce the ultimatum,” he said.

NCAA had, on April 23, issued a 30-day ultimatum to the defaulters to obtain the AHC Certificate or face their masts being pulled down by the agency for safety violations.

Published in Telecoms

Abu Dhabi billionaire Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan says he has agreed terms with Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley to buy the English Premier League (EPL) club.

According to the Newcastle Chronicle newspaper published on Monday, they had been contacted by the Sheikh’s representatives, who sent them a statement regarding reports of a possible sale.

“We can confirm that representatives of His Highness Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nahyan are in discussions with Mike Ashley and his team, about the proposed acquisition of Newcastle United Football Club,” read the statement.

“We view it as an honour to have the opportunity to build on the strong support, history and tradition of the club.

“We have agreed terms and are working hard to complete the transaction at the earliest opportunity.”

The newspaper said Newcastle United Football Club had confirmed to them that the discussions were genuine.

British media reports have also said the sale price could be around 350 million pounds.

Newcastle United and Sheikh Khaled did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters.

Ashley, who bought a controlling stake in the Premier League club in 2007, has in the past tried to sell the club.

The owner of British sportswear retailer Sports Direct International Plc said last October that he had not received any acceptable offers for Newcastle United.

This was a year after he officially put the club up for sale.

But he had said in December that talks on a deal had made promising progress.

Any potential buyer of the club must be able to provide transfer funds, he had said at the time.

Sheikh Khaled, the cousin of Manchester City FC owner and Arab billionaire Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, previously failed in his bid to buy Liverpool Football Club.

He had wanted to buy the club at two billion pounds last year, the Daily Mail has previously reported.

Sheikh Khaled is also the founder of Bin Zayed Group, a leading conglomerate with diverse business interests in the local and international markets.

Published in Business

French police have arrested two suspects following a blast in the city of Lyon that wounded 13 people last week, French authorities said on Monday.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner announced the first arrest on Twitter, a development later confirmed by Paris prosecutors, who handle all terrorism-related cases.

The prosecutors’ office later said a second suspect was arrested and detained.

Lyon mayor Gerard Collomb, a former interior minister, said one of the suspects is an IT student who was arrested as he stepped out of a bus.

“It’s a relief for all Lyon inhabitants. I believe the case has been resolved,” Collomb told BFM TV. “If there was a network, it has been identified and will certainly be dismantled.”

Police had launched a large manhunt after a device exploded Friday on a busy pedestrian street in the central city. Regional authorities said the 13 wounded suffered mostly minor injuries.

President Emmanuel Macron called the explosion an “attack” but no group has claimed responsibility for the explosion yet.

An investigation has been opened for “attempted murder in relation with a terrorist undertaking” and “criminal terrorist association.”

Last week, France’s counter-terrorism prosecutor, Remy Heitz, described video surveillance that showed a suspect heading toward the center of Lyon on a bike Friday afternoon. The man was seen arriving on foot, pushing his bike along a pedestrian-only street, then leaving a paper bag on a concrete block in the middle of the street near a bakery.

The suspect immediately returned to his bike and left by the same path. One minute later, the explosion shattered the glass of a refrigerator in the bakery, Heitz said.

It was unclear whether the suspect arrested Monday was the same person, although Collomb said the detained student was identified thanks to video surveillance.

Investigators at the scene have found screws, ball bearings, batteries, a triggering device that can be used remotely and plastic pieces that may come from the explosive device.

France has been hit by a spate of attacks in recent years, some of them deadly, carried out by people ranging from extremist attackers to mentally unstable individuals.

Published in World

Nigerian capital market regulatory body, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has warned operators in the capital market to desist from unethical practices that can lead to strict regulatory actions.

Mrs Efe Ebelo, SEC’s Head of Media said this in a statement on Monday in Abuja.

Ebelo said the attention of the commission had been drawn to an emerging trend of unethical conduct by Brokers, Issuing Houses/Book Runners and other Receiving Agents in primary and secondary market transactions.

She said the concerned operators carried out their activities by inducing investment.

This, she said was done through the sharing of brokerage fees or receiving agents commission with private banking officers, asset/fund managers, PFA’s and other institutional investor classes.

According to Ebelo, the operators induce such investments with people who are not duly registered or recognised by the Commission as being eligible to be paid commission.

She said: “Notice is hereby issued that only capital market operators duly registered by the Commission are eligible to be paid brokerage fee/receiving agents’ commission.

“And such operators shall not pay or offer a percentage of the commission earned from services provided in a transaction as an incentive for investment.

“Any capital market operator found to engage in this practice or similar acts shall be subjected to strict regulatory actions in accordance with the rules and regulations of the commission.

“The SEC therefore, enjoins the public to utilise the commission’s whistle blowing mechanism to provide information on any known or suspected case for necessary action.” she concluded.

Published in Business
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