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  • Gambia opposition leader hails 'unprecedented' support

    Supporters of Adama Barrow, the flag-bearer of the coalition of the seven opposition political parties in Gambia, dance at the venue of a political rally in Wellingara on November 28, 2016 (AFP Photo/MARCO LONGARI)

    Banjul (Gambia) (AFP) - Gambian opposition leader Adama Barrow said Tuesday he believed his coalition would sweep a presidential election in two days time, as a final rally showed the country at boiling point over leader Yahya Jammeh.

    Barrow, a businessman, emerged from obscurity to become the flagbearer of all The Gambia's opposition parties bar one after mass arrests of supporters from the largest anti-government grouping in April.

    "People have shown us tremendous support. With that support we are 100 percent plus that we are going to win and with a big margin," he told AFP on the final day of the two-week campaign.

    With no official opinion polls, it is difficult to corroborate Barrow's claim, but diplomatic sources have indicated in recent days that Jammeh faces his most significant challenge since taking power in a 1994 coup.

    Rights bodies and media watchdogs including Reporters Without Borders (RSF) accuse Jammeh of cultivating a "pervasive climate of fear" and of crushing dissent against his regime, one cause of the mass exodus of Gambian youths to Europe.

    At a rally near the capital, people shouted "Step down!" as they waved red cards demanding Jammeh's removal after 22 years in power.

    "He killed dozens of our brothers, he's a killer," one man shouted, as supporters hanging out of parked vehicles kept up a chorus of: "Murderer, murderer!"

    "This is to show I would sacrifice my blood for the country," said Mustafa Njie, a former Jammeh supporter turned opposition activist, gesturing at his red bandana.

    Following unprecedented rallies nationwide, Barrow has urged President Jammeh to go peacefully if he loses power on Thursday.

    Jammeh has won four elections with his ruling Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction, following a 2002 constitutional amendment lifting term limits.

    "If Jammeh wants advice... if he loses, let him accept the will of the people and accept the value of the Gambian people," the opposition leader said.

    Barrow said a memorandum signed by all the coalition parties in October laid out plans for a reform-led administration.

    A third candidate, former ruling party deputy Mama Kandeh, is standing for the Gambia Democratic Congress.

    Campaigning has until now been overwhelmingly peaceful.

    More than 880,000 voters are expected to cast their ballots when this tiny west African nation goes to the polls on Thursday.

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  • I. Coast's ex-first lady clashes with judge at trial

    Former Ivorian first lady Simone Gbagbo (L) talks to her lawyer at the Abidjan's courthouse on October 10, 2016 before the re-opening of her trial, during which she was prevented from leaving the courtroom by military police November 29, 2016 (AFP Photo/SIA KAMBOU)

    Abidjan (AFP) - Ivory Coast's former first lady Simone Gbagbo and the judge trying her for crimes against humanity clashed Tuesday, with military police forced to prevent her from leaving the courtroom.

    "Where are you going? Stop her" the court president Boiqui Kouadjo told gendarmes as Gbagbo left the witness box to follow her lawyer who exited the Abidjan courtroom in protest against the proceedings.

    Gbagbo refused to sit down.

    "Condemn me if you want, but I'm tired of this. It's nonsense," she said before being admonished by the judge for talking to him "in that tone".

    Simone Gbagbo is the wife of former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo, who was forced from power in 2011 by current incumbent Alassane Ouattara, who had won presidential elections five months previously -- the results of which his predecessor rejected.

    Simone Gbagbo's trial began on May 31. She is accused of involvement in the shelling of Abobo, a northern suburb of the capital Abidjan, which was a Ouattara stronghold.

    She is also accused of being a member of a "crisis cell" that allegedly coordinated attacks by the armed forces and militias in support of Gbagbo.

    She is already serving a 20-year sentence for "endangering state security".

    Tuesday's exchanges began after the court rejected a defence request for high-profile witnesses to be called, including parliament's speaker, a former prime minister and a former army chief.

    The trial had resumed Monday after being suspended for two weeks.

    The court is scheduled to sit again on Wednesday but it was unclear whether the defence team would return to the proceedings.

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  • President Obama: ‘Michelle will never run for office’

    President Obama says both he and first lady Michelle Obama will be “very active” in working with people at the grass-roots level to support progressive causes once he leaves office. But despite her popularity and natural public speaking ability, Michelle isn’t interested in a career in politics.

    “Michelle will never run for office, She is as talented a person as I know. You can see the incredible resonance she has with the American people. But I joke that she’s too sensible to want to be in politics.”

    Obama says that after he hands the keys to the White House to President-elect Donald Trump, he plans to “sleep for a couple weeks” and take Michelle “on a well-deserved vacation.”

    After that?

    “I’ll spend time in my first year out of office writing a book, and I’m gonna be organizing my presidential center, which is gonna be focused on precisely this issue of how do we train and empower the next generation of leadership,” Obama said. “How do we rethink our storytelling, the messaging and the use of technology and digital media, so that we can make a persuasive case across the country?”

    According to Obama, one of the biggest challenges he and his fellow Democrats face is figuring out how to recapture the white working class voters who voted for him — and didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton.

    “I think that part of it has to do with our inability, our failure, to reach those voters effectively,” he said. “Part of it is Fox News in every bar and restaurant in big chunks of the country, but part of it is also Democrats not working at a grass-roots level, being in there, showing up, making arguments. That part of the critique of the Democratic Party is accurate. We spend a lot of time focused on international policy and national policy and less time being on the ground. And when we’re on the ground, we do well.”

    Obama said the Midwestern voters who helped Trump win industrial states like Michigan and Wisconsin didn’t get the message that the Democratic Party has been working for them.

    “This is not simply an economic issue. This is a cultural issue. And a communications issue. It is true that a lot of manufacturing has left or transformed itself because of automation. But during the course of my presidency, we added manufacturing jobs at historic rates,” Obama said. “You start reading folks saying, ‘Oh, you know, working-class families have been neglected,’ or ‘Working-class white families have not been paid attention to by Democrats.’ Actually, they have. What is true, though, is that whatever policy prescriptions that we’ve been proposing don’t reach, are not heard, by the folks in these communities. And what they do hear is ‘Obama or Hillary are trying to take away their guns’ or ‘they disrespect you.'”

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  • MAN KICKED OUT OF ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT

    Springfield| A man from Massachusetts is suing Golden Corral Corporation for 2 million dollars, for false advertising, after being literally thrown out of one of the chain’s restaurants by the employees, last Thursday.

    According to witnesses, the 51 year old man who lives on welfare, was expelled from the restaurant after he then spent more than 7 hours on-site, ingesting a quantity of food which has been estimated between 50 and 70 pounds.

    Despite the fact that the restaurant advertised the buffet as “all-you-can-eat”, the manager of the establishment seems to have  lost patience at some point, telling him that his meal would be free but asking him to leave. The manager’s intervention angered Mr Fleming, and  a brief altercation took place before he was finally pushed out of the restaurant.

    He immediately called the police and filed a complaint against the restaurant, and he intends to make the people responsible for his mistreatment, pay for their actions.

    “It’s a serious injustice, and I am deeply insulted!” Mr. Flemmings told reporters.“With my income, I rarely go to the restaurant, so I try to get as much as I can for my money when I do. This was the worst experience I have ever had in a restaurant. Not only did they kick me out while I was still hungry, but they looked at me like I was disgusting, like I was not worthy of eating there! It’s unacceptable, and I demand a compensation!”

     

    The direction of the restaurant chain quickly issued a press release announcing that the decision to expel Mr. Flemmings was a regrettable personal initiative from an overzealous franchise manager. They also said that some financial indemnities had been offered to compensate the damage suffered by the victim, but had been refused.

     

    Mr Flemmings confirmed that he had been offered a significant amount of money by the company, but he is convinced that he can get more if he goes to court.

     

    The primary hearing in this case should take place on March 7, at the Springfield District Court.

     

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  • Trump slams vote recount push as 'a scam'

    For months Donald Trump called the US presidential election "rigged".

    The president-elect has a different word - "scam" - for the recount effort aimed at revisiting the vote in three pivotal battleground states.

    "The people have spoken and the election is over," Trump declared on Saturday in his first comments about the growing effort to force recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. He added, "We must accept this result and then look to the future."

    Green Party nominee Jill Stein's fight for a recount got a major boost on Friday when Wisconsin officials announced they were moving forward with the first presidential recount in state history.

    The incoming president had been paying little if any attention to Stein's recount push, but Democratic rival Hillary Clinton forced his hand on Saturday by formally joining the effort.

    Stein, who drew one per cent of the vote nationally, is raising millions of dollars to fund the recounts.

    "Because we had not uncovered any actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology, we had not planned to exercise this option ourselves," Clinton campaign lawyer Marc Elias wrote Saturday in a blog post.

    "But now that a recount has been initiated in Wisconsin, we intend to participate in order to ensure the process proceeds in a manner that is fair to all sides."

    Elias said Clinton would take the same approach in Pennsylvania and Michigan if Stein were to follow through with recount requests those states, even though that was highly unlikely to change the election outcome.

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