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West Africa regional bloc says forces ‘on alert’ for Gambia
23 December 2016, 2:58 PM

West Africa’s regional bloc has put standby forces “on alert” in case Gambian president Yahya Jammeh does not step down when his mandate ends on January 19, 2017 president of the ECOWAS commission Marcel de Souza said late on Thursday.

Jammeh has vowed to stay in power despite losing a December 1, 2016 election to rival Adama Barrow. ECOWAS has previously warned him that it would take “all necessary actions” to resolve the impasse.

Barrow’s surprise victory and Jammeh’s initial decision to concede was seen across Africa as a moment of hope until the president reversed his position a week later. His party is now challenging the result in Gambia’s Supreme Court.

Regional leaders have mandated Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to mediate the crisis and are offering Jammeh an “honorable exit”, but if he does not take it then forces could be deployed, De Souza said on Malian state television.

“… we have put standby forces on alert if he does not take it on January 19, 2017 when his mandate ends…,” De Souza said.

Diplomats say ECOWAS would probably seek approval from the UN Security Council for the use of force. Senegal is a likely candidate for leadership of any African intervention force given its position as Gambia’s only territorial neighbor.

Senegal has indicated that military action would be a last resort and President Macky Sall said earlier this week that he thought Buhari would be able to make Jammeh see reason.

– By REUTERS

South Africa’s mourning for Nelson Mandela
8 December 2013, 10:03 PM

Following are the main events in the South African government’s official programme for the mourning and state funeral of Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday, aged 95:

Sunday, Dec. 8 – National day of prayer and reflection in which South Africans will celebrate the life of Mandela and his legacy in places of worship, homes and communities.

Tuesday, Dec. 10 – Official memorial service for Mandela to be held at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, also known as the Soccer City stadium, the site of the 2010 World Cup final. This will be attended by members of the public and by a number of visiting heads of state and government.

Wednesday, Dec. 11 to Friday, Dec. 13 – Mandela’s body will lie in state in an open casket for three days at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, the seat of the South African government, where it will be viewed by citizens and selected international visitors and guests.

The casket will be transported daily between 1 Military Hospital, Thaba Tshwane, and the Union Buildings. The government is inviting mourners to line this route and form a public guard of honour.

Saturday, Dec. 14 – Mandela’s body will be transported to the Eastern Cape from Air Force Base Waterkloof in Pretoria, where the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party will bid it farewell.

Also on this day, a procession will take place from Mthatha to Qunu, Mandela’s ancestral home, where the Thembu community to which he belonged will conduct a traditional ceremony.

Sunday, Dec. 15 – A state funeral will take place at Mandela’s home and final resting place at the family homestead in the village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape.

This will be open to selected dignitaries and heads of state who request to attend.

Sunday 8 December 2013 22:03

Pope Francis hopes Nelson Mandela “will inspire generations”
6 December 2013, 9:53 PM

Pope Francis paid tribute to Nelson Mandela’s struggle to forge a just South Africa on Friday, praising the anti-apartheid hero’s commitment to non-violence, reconciliation and truth.
In a telegram sent to South African President Jacob Zuma the pontiff also praised the commitment shown by Mandela in “promoting the human dignity of all the nation’s citizens and in forging a new South Africa built on the firm foundations of non-violence, reconciliation and truth”, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said.
“It was with sadness that I learned of the death of former president Nelson Mandela, and I send prayerful condolences to all the Mandela family, to the members of the government and to all the people of South Africa. In commending the soul of the deceased to the infinite mercy of almighty God, I ask the Lord to console and strengthen all who mourn his loss,” Father Lombardi said, reading out the pope’s telegram.
“Paying tribute to the steadfast commitment shown by Nelson Mandela in promoting the human dignity of all the nation’s citizens and in forging a New South Africa built on the firm foundations of non-violence, reconciliation and truth, I pray that the late president’s example will inspire generations of South Africans to put justice and the common good at the forefront of their political aspirations. With these sentiments, I invoke upon all the people of South Africa divine gifts of peace and prosperity,” he added.
The message came shortly before the pope held talks with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres at the Vatican.
The death of South Africa’s first black president aged 95 spurred an outpouring of sorrow from political leaders and ordinary people for the passing of one of the world’s most celebrated statesmen.

Friday 6 December 2013 21:53

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