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  • One of Yahya Jammeh’s ex-strongmen is being investigated for crimes against humanity

    Swiss authorities have detained Gambia’s former interior minister, who served under exiled ex-president Yahya Jammeh for 10 years, and are investigating him for crimes against humanity. Bern prosecutor Christof Scheurer told AFP Thursday that Ousman Sonko, who was Jammeh’s interior minister from 2006 until he was sacked in September 2016, had been detained after a complaint was lodged by Swiss rights group TRIAL International. Sign up to our daily newsletter for your chance to win. Scheurer said that Sonko was being investigated under article 264a of Switzerland’s criminal code. The article covers crimes against humanity, including torture and other human rights abuses. Human rights organizations ...

     

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  • Trump may find kindred spirit in India's Modi, another tough-talking nationalist

    NEW DELHI — One man came from privileged beginnings and went to all the right schools, the other was the son of a tea-seller.

    Yet both India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Donald J. Trump rose to power as populist outsiders willing to disrupt entrenched power systems in their respective capitals.

    The two men men spoke Tuesday, their first interaction since a brief congratulatory phone call after Trump’s election in November. In a summary of the call, the White House said Trump called India a “true friend and partner” and the two had discussed the economy, defense and the fight against global terror. Trump said he looked forward to hosting Modi in a visit later this year, and Modi returned the favor after the “warm conversation” in a tweet Wednesday morning.

    The change of power in Washington comes at a time when the relationship between the world’s two largest democracies has gained momentum in recent years, with growing investment and military ties.

    “We believe they mean well by us and we mean well by them,” said Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, India’s foreign secretary. “We are quite confident we’ll get off to a good relationship, so there is no anxiety here at all.”

    Yet some Indian leaders have expressed concerns privately about Trump’s unpredictability and tendency to lash out.

    On the campaign trail, Trump occasionally praised India in speeches — “I am a big fan of Hindu, and I am a big fan of India,” he said at a fundraiser in October and said India was a “natural ally.”

    But he also mimicked the accent of India’s call center workers, vowed to keep American jobs in the United States and criticized the H-1B high-skilled worker visa program, worrying the Indian tech industry. The Trump Organization is also involved in at least four real estate projects here, valued at an estimated $1.5 billion.

    “There’s a lot of uncertainty in the air,” said Milan Vaishnav, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the author of a recent book on politics in India. “Nobody really knows beyond some vague outlines what Trump foreign policy looks like. He hasn’t said a lot about India and what he has said is very vague. So India’s objective is to figure out where he stands.”

    The two men are likely to find common ground going forward on terror and security, particularly in regard to the terror threat from neighboring Pakistan, experts said. Judging from Tuesday's telephone call, “clearly terrorism was front and center,” Vaishnav said.

    In his inaugural address, Trump pledged to stamp out Islamic terrorism around the world. But he earlier engaged in a chummy telephone call with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif — calling him a “terrific guy” who does “amazing work” — which also troubled Indian officials.

    Modi, 66, has long been associated with the Hindu nationalist movement, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, and for a time was denied a U.S. visa for failing to stop anti-Muslim riots while serving as a state chief minister.

    Hewent only after his party’s victory in 2014. He and President Obama developed a rapport, and the next year he asked Obama to be the chief guest at India’s Republic Day parade. By the end of that visit, he was calling the president “Barack.”

    Like Trump, Modi has a brash side and communicates largely on Twitter, with an innate distrust for the mainstream media. One of his first acts as prime minister was to do away with a traveling press pool on foreign trips.

    His supporters in the Hindu right have stoked nationalistic fervor in the country — at times with violent results — and last year India became immersed in a debate over patriotism and free speech after protests on college campuses. Most recently, the Supreme Court mandated that movie-goers must stand as the national anthem plays before films.

    Modi remains a popular figure, however, despite a recent move to ban large-denomination currency notes to combat tax cheats that left the economy reeling. Indians have suffered job losses and waits in long bank lines throughout the more than two-month crisis, but Modi has repeatedly played on nationalist sentiment, exhorting Indians to have patience for the long-term good of the country.

     

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  • President Barrow receives rousing welcome

    ens of thousands of Gambians of all ages yesterday lined the streets from Westfield to inside the Banjul International Airport in Yundum to welcome home President Adama Barrow. 

    The president arrived in a white aircraft with the Ecowas logo at about 5pm, and was received at the foot of the aircraft by the only appointed member of his new cabinet, Fatoumata Jallow Tambajang, diplomats and other senior government officials. 

    The president took off from Dakar, Senegal, where he was sworn in as the third president of The Gambia on 19 January 2017.

    Upon arrival at the airport, Mr Barrow said: “I am a happy man today.  I think the bad part is finished now.” He promised to put in place his cabinet and set to work in earnest.

    Muhammed Ibn Chambas, UN Special Representative West Africa and Sahel, said the arrival of President Barrow was historic.

    “What we are witnessing here today is truly historic. Gambians have turned out in large numbers to welcome their president, and to ensure the take off of the government of President Barrow.” Mr Chambas said the United Nations working with Ecowas and other partners will continue to support the process to establish the necessary security for the new president, the vice president and the government and to allow a smooth transition from the past administration to this new one.

    President Barrow led a coalition of eight opposition parties that defeated the former incumbent president, Yahya Jammeh, in the 1st December election.

    Jammeh rejected the result after initially accepting it, causing a political impasse in the country that lasted for about one and half month, and nearly plunged the country into war.

    At the height of the political impasse, Barrow left for Mali, courtesy of Ecowas, then to Senegal where he was sworn into office at the Gambian Embassy in Dakar.

    Thanks to the success of last-ditch mediation efforts, led by the presidents of Guinea and Mauritania, Jammeh eventually left power and went into exile with his family in Equatorial Guinea.

    When Jammeh left, Gambians took to the streets to celebrate with music blaring from speakers and people dancing in the streets.

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  • Trump wants border tax to pay for wall with Mexico: White House

     

    © REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst U.S. President Donald Trump signs autographs for onlookers as he arrives aboard Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. January 26, 2017. WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump wants a new 20 percent tax on all imports from Mexico to pay for a wall on the southern U.S. border, White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters on Thursday.

    No details were available on how the tax would work, but Spicer said Trump wanted it to be part of a tax reform package that the U.S. Congress is contemplating.

    (Reporting by Steve Holland; Writing by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Chris Reese)

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  • Leekens urges Algeria to avoid Zimbabwe trap

    Algeria's Riyad Mahrez (centre) is expected to be one of the star players in Gabon along with Senegal's Sadio Mané (right) and Gabon skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.Reuters/Montage/RFI

    Georges Leekens tapped into more than 30 years in the dugout to warn his players about the dangers of taking on so-called "underdogs". Leekens, 67, leads Algeria into the 2017 Cup of Nations seeking their second title. They face Zimbabwe in their opening game in Group B on Sunday in Franceville.

    Algeria, according to the Fifa rankings, should beat Zimbabwe. There are more than 60 places between the countries.

    But Leekens, who started his coaching career in 1984 with Cercle Brugge in Belgium, said he ignored such prognostics.

    CAN 2017 - WHAT MATCHES ARE WHERE?
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    "I view our game against Zimbabwe as a tough challenge. We need to apply our minds 100 percent to how we are going to conquer Zimbabwe.

    “The first match of a tournament is always important. Zimbabwe are a good side but we’ve worked hard and are in a good state of mind.”

    Group B has been reduced to a three way fight between Senegal – the current top ranked African team - Tunisia and Algeria, who are rated fourth and fifth respectively.

    Zimbabwe, who are 30th in the lists, had an unsettled prelude to the event in Gabon. The players and the Zimbabwe Football Association rowed over fees and bonuses for appearing at the tournament for the first time in 11 years.

    "I know they had some pre-tournament problems,” said Leekens who coached Algeria in 2003. “But the Cup of Nations history is littered with teams who have defied off-field problems to succeed. Zimbabwe travelled to Cameroon and drew 1-1 in a warm-up match. That was an impressive result.”

    Thinking about Zimbabwe

    Algeria enter the tournament with their own set of formidable weapons. Riyad Mahrez was anointed African footballer of the year just before the Cup of Nations for his stellar performances with Leicester City as they defied the odds to win the English Premier League title in 2016.

    Mahrez, 25, was born in France but opted for the land of his father and he will be one of the keys to Algerian success along with his Leicester City teammate Islam Slimani.

    "All the Algerian media and public are talking about is Senegal and Tunisia," added Leekens, who coached Tunisia for a year just before rejoining Algeria. "But I am thinking only of Zimbabwe.”

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