9 drown during riverside picnic in NE Nigeria

ABUJA- Nigerian authorities on Sunday confirmed that nine youths drowned during a riverside picnic in the northeastern state of Taraba.

Responders have recovered only seven bodies since the incident on Saturday, said the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).

All the victims were members of the NYSC, an organization set up by the Nigerian government.

Florence Yaakugh, a state coordinator of the NYSC, told reporters that 22 corps members were on a picnic at the River Mayo-Selbe in Gashaka area of Taraba when the incident occurred. The victims were on compulsory national service by young graduates.

Rescue operation is still ongoing to recover the remaining two bodies, Yaakugh said, describing the incident as “sad and most unfortunate”.

The police said a preliminary investigation has shown that while the youths were swimming, there was a sudden upsurge in the volume of water in the river, which carried the victims away.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Sudanese president reaffirms support for peace in South Sudan

KHARTOUM- Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has reiterated his country’s commitment to support peace and stability in South Sudan and follow through the implementation of a peace deal signed by South Sudan’s rivals.

South Sudan’s conflicting parties on Sunday signed a final deal in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on power-sharing and security arrangements.

“We will continue setting up plans, programs and timetables to implement what has been agreed on in Khartoum and follow it up step by step.” said al-Bashir at the signing ceremony of the deal.

He vowed that the agreement would not be just ink on papers, saying “before it was signed on papers, it was signed in the hearts and became a commitment.

For his part, South Sudanese President SalvaKiirMayardit vowed to implement the signed agreement to the letter and spirit.

“I call on all of us, as the leaders of South Sudan, that the agreement we have just signed today must mark the end of conflict and war in our country,” said Mayardit at the ceremony.

Addressing the ceremony, South Sudan’s opposition leader RiekMachar said peace is the only option, noting that the regional presence constituted a guarantor for the implementation of the signed deal.

“We want to give meaning to this day. It is a great day for South Sudan, for the region and for peace all over the world,” said Machar.

On July 25, the South Sudanese conflicting parties signed an initial deal of power-sharing, which stipulates that Kiir will continue his post during the transitional period, while Machar will be the first vice president among the four vice presidents from different political parties.

Under the agreement, the transitional cabinet would be composed of 35 ministers, including 20 ministers from the government, and nine from Machar-led Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO).

The deal further stipulates a transitional national legislative body would be composed of 550 members, with 332 from the government, and 128 from the SPLM-IO.

South Sudan has been witnessing a civil war since December 2013, which had left about 10,000 dead and millions of others displaced.

Source: Ghana News Agency

AU calls for peaceful resolution of Zimbabwe post-election dispute

ADDIS ABABA- The African Union (AU) has urged political actors in Zimbabwe to rise above their differences and work together to ensure peace, stability and development in their country.

The Chairperson of the AU Commission, MoussaFakiMahamat, has deeply regretted the unfortunate loss of lives in the immediate aftermath of the elections held on July 30 in Zimbabwe.

Expressing deep concern over the situation, the Chairperson of the AU Commission welcomed the commitment of the Zimbabwean authorities to investigate these incidents.

The Chairperson has called on all stakeholders to continue to maintain the peaceful environment that has prevailed before and during the elections, according to an AU statement on Sunday.

Zimbabwe’s incumbent leader EmmersonMnangagwa narrowly won the nation’s presidential election Friday as the ruling party also garnered a two-thirds majority in parliament in the first vote since the fall of long-time leader Robert Mugabe.

Mnangagwa was declared the winner in the poll marred by violence leading to loss of lives and injuries.

The Chairperson of the AU Commission has urged any aggrieved party to use the appropriate legal means and/or other disputes resolution mechanisms to address its concerns.

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last Thursday voiced concern about incidents of violence in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare following Monday’s elections.

The Secretary-General called on political leaders and electoral contestants to pursue any disputes through peaceful means, dialogue and in accordance with the law.

The Chairperson of the AU Commission reaffirmed his Commission’s commitment and support to the leaders and people of Zimbabwe, and wished them well in their endeavour to deepen democracy in their country, in line with the AU Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.

AU has deployed in Zimbabwe an election observation mission led by former Prime Minister HailemariamDesalegn of Ethiopia.

In a post-election statement, Hailemariam viewed with concern the unfolding post-election developments in Zimbabwe, and called on all stakeholders, particularly political leaders and their supporters, to exercise restraint and avoid violent confrontation.

He has also called on security personnel to equally exercise restraint and ensure the safety of all citizens.

The chairperson of the AU Commission said the 55-member pan-African bloc would continue to closely follow the electoral process through its long term observers who will remain in the country until the conclusion of the process.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Somali PM appoints ministers in reshuffle

MOGADISAHU- Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire appointed five cabinet ministers and one deputy minister in a reshuffle announced on Sunday.

In the changes, Khaire appointed AbdullahiGodahBarre, a former minister for interior in the previous administration, as education minister, replacing Abdirahman Mohamed, who was sacked in July.

The prime minister also moved some ministers from their portfolios. Khaire named AbdullahiBidhaan, a new entrant in the government, to head the fisheries docket.

AbdukadirBaqdadi was also newly appointed to take charge as state minister in the presidency.

Khaire, who did not make ministerial appointment of humanitarian affairs docket, moved Sheikh Nuur Mohamed from religious affairs ministry to livestock docket, which was under Hussein Sheikh Hussein.

The prime minister, who has since left the country for an official visit to Sudan, also appointed Shawaqar Ibrahim Abdalla as deputy minister of labor.

Khaire gave no reasons for the new appointments, which come amid increased attacks by al-Shabab terrorists.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Nigeria nabs wanted Boko Haram commander

ABUJA- The Nigerian army on Sunday confirmed that one of the most wanted commanders of the Boko Haram terror group has been nabbed.

The suspect, identified as MajeLawan, is believed to be number 96 on the list of wanted terrorists earlier published by the army.

Army spokesman Texas Chukwu said the suspect was nabbed by troops in Banki neighborhood of the northeastern state of Borno.

He was apprehended after he infiltrated an internally displaced persons’ camp in Banki, according to Chukwu.

“The suspect is currently undergoing preliminary investigation and will be handed over to the appropriate authority for further action,” he said.

Nigeria has made considerable gains against the terror group, dislodging its fighters from the Sambisa Forest.

Boko Haram has been blamed for the death of more than 20,000 people and displacement of 2.3 million others in Nigeria since 2009.

Source: Ghana News Agency