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No pay, no news. Guinea Bissau’s journalists go on strike1 minute read

The strike comes two weeks from the start of campaigning for the legislative elections

Kathleen Ndongmo

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"the Hand of Timba" monument in Bissau. - AFP

Journalists working for public media in Guinea-Bissau have gone on strike over back pay and an end to “censorship”, according to the media’s union and press watchdog Reporters without Borders (RSF).

The strike, now in its fourth day, involves workers at the state-owned newspaper “No Pintcha”, the public radio and television and the national press agency ANG.

It comes around two weeks from the start of campaigning for the legislative elections on March 10, which aim to defuse a long-running crisis.

The country has been locked in a political standoff since President Jose Mario Vaz sacked his premier in 2015.

A consensus prime minister Aristide Gomes was finally named with the task of steering the country to a vote.

The strikers’ union are demanding that the government pay the salaries they are owed from December 2018 through January.

The television journalists are also calling for an end to the “favouritism” given to a party allied with the president in political coverage, one of their representatives, Domingos Tiago Gomes, told reporters.

“It’s the television of all Guineans, therefore all competing political parties should receive an equal amount of coverage of their activities,” Gomes said.

RSF urged the Guinean authorities “to end the censorship” and “refrain from any meddling in news coverage which is the sole responsibility of journalists,” Assane Diagne, director of RSF’s West Africa office, said in a statement.

Guinea-Bissau was ranked 83rd worldwide on press freedom in 2018, according to RSF.

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Politics

Togo announces presidential election for February next year

Gnassingbe has been in power for nearly 15 years since succeeding his father Eyadema Gnassingbe

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Togo announces presidential election for February next year
Togo's incumbent President Faure Gnassingbe. AFP PHOTO / ISSOUF SANOGO (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)

Togo will hold elections in February next year, when incumbent President Faure Gnassingbe is expected to seek a fourth term in office.

A government decree published late Thursday after a cabinet meeting said the presidential election will be held on February 22 with a second-round organised if no candidate gets a clear majority.

Gnassingbe has been in power for nearly 15 years since succeeding his father Eyadema Gnassingbe, who led the country with an iron fist for 38 years.

The decree said for the first time Togo citizens living abroad will be able to cast their votes at embassies in the countries where they are living.

Election campaigning will start on February 6 and end February 20.

Opposition parties and civil society leaders, including Togo’s bishops, last month called for the election to be suspended to allow for a reorganisation of the constitutional court, the electoral register and the national electoral commission.

In early May, the Togolese deputies voted a constitutional amendment allowing Gnassingbe to run again in 2020 and 2025, but also to benefit from immunity for life “for acts done during presidential terms”.

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Senator Orji Uzor Kalu bags 12 years imprisonment

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Senator Orji Uzor Kalu bags 12 years imprisonment
(file photo)

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday sentenced Senator Orji Uzor Kalu to 12 years in prison for fraud.

Orji Kalu, a serving senator representing Abia North and former governor of Abia State, was handed a 12-year jail sentence by Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court Lagos for N7.65 billion fraud.

Kalu was tried alongside Slok Nigeria Limited, a company he chairs and Mr Udeh Udeogu who was Director of Finance and Accounts of the state house at the time Kalu was governor of Abia State.

The convicts were accused by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of conspiring to divert and diverting over N7billion state fund in an amended 39-count charge.

The EFCC alleged in one of the counts that Senator Kalu did procure a company solely owned by him and members of his family – Slok Nigeria Limited – to retain in its account, an aggregate sum of N7,197,871,208.7 on his behalf.

The prosecution had argued that the N7.1 billion formed part of the funds illegally derived from the treasury of the Abia State Government and which was laundered into several bank drafts before they were paid into Slok Nigeria’s account.

Counsel to EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs SAN, further argued that such action was in violation of  Section 17(c) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004, and the defendant was liable to be punished under Section 16 of the same Act.

Kalu and the other defendants were also accused of receiving the sum of N460 million allegedly pilfered from the Abia State Government treasury between July and December 2002.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to all the counts.

While the matter lasted in court, the prosecution called a total of 19 witnesses and the defendants testified on their own behalf. 

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East Africa Politics News

Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed to avoid questions at Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo

Events kick off with meetings at the Nobel Institute and a large press conference with the Peace Prize winner

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Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed to avoid questions at Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo

The Norwegian Nobel Committee is grappling with challenges just days before the winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize arrives in Oslo.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has made it clear he won’t attend any event where he could publicly be asked questions, either by the press or even children, and the committee finds that “highly problematic.”

Olav Njølstad, Director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute and secretary for the committee that annually awards the Peace Prize, told Norwegian Broadcasting that the Nobel Institute and the Nobel Committee wishes Abiy Ahmed had said ‘yes’ to meeting Norwegian and international press.

READ: Zaid Aregawi says “we don’t see the peace” in query of Abiy’s Nobel prize win

Ahmed’s decision to avoid any events in which he’d need to answer questions has thus resulted in a highly amputated program for the “Nobel Peace Prize Days” that should begin in Oslo on Monday, December 9.

Events traditionally kick off with meetings at the Nobel Institute with committee members and a large press conference with the Peace Prize winner that’s broadcast live.

For the first time in many years, the Nobel press conference has been cancelled, as have traditional in-depth interviews usually conducted by NRK, the BBC and Al Jazeera.

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