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Watch: President of Niger Talks to Al Jazeera



Yesterday, polls closed in Niger, where, in the second election after the 2010 military coup, sitting president Mahamadou Issoufou is intent on winning a second term.
Speaking to Al Jazeera’s Mohamed Vall, Issoufou outlined how he saw his legacy. “People often say that our countries don’t need powerful men but powerful institutions, so I would like history to remember that I put in place an irreversible democratic system, irreversible! I also want history to remember that at a time when a majority of the Sahel countries are confronted with terrorism threats and have lost their security, we, in this ocean of threats, knew how to maintain peace and security. I would like history to remember there was no famine under my presidency and finally I want history to remember I took care of the problems of the poorest: health, water access, unemployment, and housing. This is what I want history to remember of my time as the leader of Niger.”
Calling Niger “one of the most democratic nations of Africa,” he said, “The establishment of stable democratic institutions was a top priority of the ‘Renaissance’ programme I implemented over the past five years. There are two indicators that prove Niger is truly democratic: The first one is the freedom of the press. Reporters Without Borders ranks countries every year depending on press freedoms. In 2010 we were ranked 139th; today we are ranked 47th. This means we moved up 92 ranks according to them. The other indicator is the corruption index from Transparency International. In 2010, we ranked 134th; today we are ranked 99th. We improved by 35 ranks. These two indicators prove that we are on the right track, on the track of establishing strong and stable democratic institutions.”
The landlocked country is confronting severe threats to its stability as a result of armed conflicts in the region. Boko Haram is in Nigeria to the southeast and other groups such as ISIL are in Mali and Libya in the north.
The Nigeria conflict has already spilled over to Niger. Up to 130,000 have fled across the border. In the Diffa region, large areas are unstable, and more than 170 villages are deserted. “Two thirds of Mali were occupied by the jihadists. Fortunately we did not have the same situation in Niger,” said Issoufou. “We are confronted with humanitarian issues. We have refugees from Nigeria and Mali… but we are dealing with these humanitarian issues with our NGO partners. We face all of them. But today when you look at the situation in Diffa, we can say Boko Haram has been weakened and we are close to winning a lasting victory over Boko Haram.”
He adds, “To face Boko Haram, we decided to rely on our own forces. This is why we are putting in place a mixed force made up of five nations: Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria, Niger and Benin. This mixed forced is almost operational. We are relying first on our own forces, on our own capacities, on shared operational capacities and on shared intelligence capacities. But this does not rule out that we can call on friendly countries, like France and the United States. Both already help us a lot, especially in the intelligence sector.”
There is also concern that ISIL fighters are potentially moving into Niger to escape renewed Western military action in Libya. President Issoufou believes that a foreign intervention in Libya is a must. “We must urgently put in place a central government in Libya… But I’m not deceiving myself here. I’m under no illusion. Even if put in place, this government won’t be able to face the terrorist threat by itself. It won’t be able to neutralize the militias alone. So a future government of national union put in place in Libya must be backed by an international force.”
Issoufou was against the first intervention in Libya but denies there’s a contradiction in supporting one now. “In 2011, I clearly said that the intervention would lead to a situation worse than the wrong we were trying to heal. I said that if a number of safeguards were not taken, Libya would become a new Somalia. The other risk I emphasised was the risk that Libya would be occupied by terrorists. Today we are in both situations; Libya is like Somalia now with no central state, several governments and militias sharing the territory. All the fears I pointed out became true in Libya. If I say that due to the current situation we need an intervention, this is not a contradiction, because after the fall of Gaddafi there was no ‘after-sale service.’ And this ‘after-sale service’ is exactly what I want in Libya today. The ‘after-sale service’ can only happen as an intervention aimed at accompanying a national union government in Libya. There are cases where interventions are a good thing, and others where they should not be done.”


Media & Culture

You Live In A Hen Coop : Shatta Wale Roasted After Jackie Appiah’s Lavish Mansion Went Viral



Dancehall artiste, Charles Nii Armah Mensah also known as Shatta Wale is currently trending on social media for yet another wrong reason.

The dancehall artist Shatta Wale has been heavily trolled on Twitter after the video of the plush mansion went viral on social media.

Nollywood actress Luchy Donalds paid Jackie Appiah a visit to her Accra mansion and was shocked to see the beauty of the mansion. She filmed the mansion of Jackie Appiah as she was taking her on a tour in her house.

After the video was shared online, social media users reacted to the video and tended to troll dancehall artists.

Read some comments below….

@Sharer: Jackie Appiah showing Shatta wale that he’s a poor man

@Jey: If ebe Shatta Wale wey get this Jackie Appiah en house aa like he go come door to door then insult everybody But we serve the living God,he can’t buy

@son of jacob: Jackie Appiah’s mansion makes other mansions look like chamber and hall

@Kobby: If you look closely at Jackie Appiah’s mansion, you’ll realize the likes of Shatta Wale, Medikal, and Gambo are poor men.

@Ghana yesu: Jackie Appiah’s mansion is getting more attention than Shatta Wale’s album. You people will make Nima Bob Marley stop doing music oo.

@mr President: Jackie Appiah’s Mansion dey make I dey see Shatta wale own as Hen Coop

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‘Howard Webb To Become Premier League Referees’ Chief’



Mike Riley, the head of Premier League referees, will step down from his role next season, with Howard Webb set to replace him.

It was previously reported that a host of Premier League sides were pushing for a change in command, as they believed too many mistakes were made during games in the 2021-22 season.

In a statement from the Professional Game Match Officials Board, it has now been confirmed that Riley will leave his role next season – one which he had held since 2009 when he replaced Keith Hackett.

Riley’s role is set to be split after his departure with PGMOL, aiming to appoint a chief refereeing officer, in charge of developing match officials, and a chief operating officer, who will manage the organisation. 

Speaking after his departure was confirmed, Riley said: ‘I am proud of the contribution our match officials have made to the professional game and have enjoyed working with such a dedicated, professional and high-quality group at all of the levels that PGMOL manages.

‘As the Elite Referee Development Plan begins to take shape, now is the right time to plan for the future and allow the new leadership team to build on the strong foundations that we have in place. 

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Media & Culture

Taylor Swift, Kim Kardashian, Harry Styles And More Hit Out At US Abortion Decision



Celebrities including Taylor Swift, Kim Kardashian and Harry Styles have reacted in horror and outrage over US lawmakers’ decision to make abortion illegal in parts of the USA.

A backlash was sparked on Friday when the US Supreme Court voted to overturn the landmark 1973 cast Roe v Wade which had made abortion legal across America when it was originally ruled upon.

With laws on the topic of abortion now reverting to a State level, women in some States could now be prosecuted if they get an abortion.

A number of high profile stars have taken to social media to express their shock over the decision – and their fears on what this will mean for women’s freedoms and the health and safety of those who wish to terminate a pregnancy.

Taking to Twitter32-year-old Taylor wrote: “I’m absolutely terrified that this is where we are – that after so many decades of people fighting for women’s rights to their own bodies, today’s decision has stripped us of that.”

Showing his support for women in the USA, Harry, 28, tweeted: “I’m absolutely devastated for the people of America today. Check on your friends. Look after each other. We’re all in this together, and the fight is just beginning. A truly dark day for America.”

Meanwhile, on InstagramKim Kardashian, 41, highlighted the ruling and expressed her own shock, writing in an Instagram Stories post: “In America, guns have more rights than women.”

TV star Sophia Bush, 39, expressed her concern women’s health will suffer in light of the ruling, tweeting: “They will never end abortion. Only safe abortion. This is not about life. It’s about control. Those motherf–kers.”

While Oscar winner Viola Davis, 56, hit out at the ruling, tweeting: “And so it goes….Gutted. Now more than ever we have to use our voice and power! WE the people.”

The overturning of Roe v. Wade has sent shockwaves around the globe – with chart topping star Billie Eilish taking time out of her Glastonbury headlining set on Friday night to address the drama.

The 20-year-old said: “The song we’re about to do is I think one of the favourites that we’ve written and it’s about the concept of power and how we need to always remember how not to abuse it.

“And today is a really, really dark day for women in the US. I’m just going to say that as I cannot bear to think about it any longer in this moment.”

While British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, 58, slammed the US Supreme Court’s decision, saying: “I think it is a big step backwards.”

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