Madrid held as Barca win, United and City smile

FBL-ESP-LIGA-GETAFE-REAL-MADRID(Reuters) – Real Madrid stumbled to a 2-2 home draw with Espanyol, allowing victorious Barcelona to open up a 13-point gap over their rivals and prompting Real boss Jose Mourinho to say the Catalans have all but won the Spanish title in December.

The title race is closer in England but Manchester United maintained their six-point cushion with a 3-1 home win over Sunderland while second-placed Manchester City won by the same score at Newcastle United.

Paris St Germain triumphed in the big game in France while German leaders Bayern Munich drew and Serie A pacesetters Juventus shone.

– –

SPAIN

Barcelona moved nine points clear at the top of La Liga after Lionel Messi scored twice in a 4-1 hammering of second-placed Atletico Madrid at the Nou Camp.

Atletico striker Radamel Falcao gave the visitors a deserved early lead but Adriano levelled with a magnificent long-range shot, Sergio Busquets netted before the break and Messi took his 2012 tally to 90 with a second-half brace.

Barca moved 13 points clear of ailing champions Real Madrid in third, who were held to a surprise 2-2 draw at the Bernabeu.

Sergio Garcia gave Espanyol the lead, only for Cristiano Ronaldo and Fabio Coentrao to put the hosts in charge, but they failed to press home their domination. Juan Albin netted an equaliser for Espanyol in the 88th minute.

– – – –

ENGLAND

Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney were on target for Manchester United as the Premier League leaders swept aside Sunderland 3-1 at Old Trafford to stay six points clear of Manchester City.

Champions City, beaten 3-2 by United in last weekend’s Manchester derby after a Van Persie stoppage-time winner, defeated Newcastle United 3-1 at St James’ Park.

Queens Park Rangers celebrated their first win of the season after beating west London rivals Fulham 2-1.

Chelsea lost the World Club Cup final 1-0 to Brazil’s Corinthians in Japan.

– – – –

GERMANY

Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich made sure they went into the mid-season break with a nine-point lead despite drawing 1-1 against Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Xherdan Shaqiri’s equaliser salvaged a point for Jupp Heynckes’ team to complete a superb first half to the season as they chase their first silverware after two seasons without a title.

Bayern are nine points clear of second-placed Bayer Leverkusen who beat Hamburg SV 3-0 for their fifth win in six matches to move up to 33 points. Forward Stefan Kiessling confirmed his fine form, scoring twice to top the Bundesliga scorers’ list with 12 goals.

Champions Borussia Dortmund earned a 3-1 victory at Hoffenheim to hold on to third place on 30 points.

– – – –

FRANCE

Paris St Germain overcame Olympique Lyon 1-0 at home to snatch the French league top spot thanks to Blaise Matuidi’s first-half goal.

The big-spending club proved too strong for Lyon and they are now level on 35 points from 18 games with their rivals but ahead on goal difference.

Both clubs are also tied with third-placed Olympique Marseille, who won 1-0 at Toulouse with Andre-Pierre Gignac scoring an superb curling strike only days after returning from injury.

– – – –

ITALY

Juventus went seven points clear at the top of Serie A as they beat Atalanta 3-0 and nearest rivals Inter Milan and Napoli both lost.

Defending champions Juve, who have 41 points from 17 games, raced to a 3-0 lead in less than half an hour with goals from Mirko Vucinic, Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio, then Atalanta had Thomas Manfredini sent off in the 31st minute.

Inter, who have 34 points, were beaten by a late Miroslav Klose goal at Lazio while Napoli conceded two goals in the last five minutes as they were beaten 3-2 at home by Bologna.

Those results left Napoli and Lazio level on 33 points.

– – – –

NETHERLANDS

Steve McClaren’s Twente Enschede beat neighbours Heracles Almelo 3-2 to go level at the top with leaders PSV Eindhoven, who were held to a 1-1 draw at NEC Nijmegen. Both have 37 points at the halfway mark of the season.

Ajax Amsterdam trail the leaders by a point following a 4-2 win at Willem II Tilburg, while Vitesse Arnhem slipped to fourth after a 2-2 home draw against RKC Waalwijk.

Ronald Koeman’s Feyenoord stayed in the title race with 34 points after a 3-2 home win over ADO Den Haag.

– – – –

PORTUGAL

Paraguay striker Oscar Cardozo scored an hat-trick for Benfica in their 4-1 home thrashing of Maritimo that pulled them clear at the top of the Portuguese Premier League, three points above second-placed Porto who have a game in hand.

Cardozo became Benfica’s first foreign striker to reach the 100 league goals mark as the Lisbon club grabbed 32 points from 12 matches.

Friday’s clash between Porto and Vitoria de Setubal was postponed due to poor pitch conditions under heavy rain and will be played in January.

– – – –

GREECE

Panathinaikos suffered an embarrassing 3-0 defeat at lowly Veria on Sunday as the Greens continued to lose ground on runaway league leaders and arch rivals Olympiakos Piraeus in the Greek Super League.

Olympiakos extended their lead over second-placed PAOK Salonika to 11 points courtesy of a late Rafik Djebbour strike in a 2-1 win at Panionios.

– – – –

AUSTRIA

Austria Vienna took a seven-point lead into the league’s mid-season break on Sunday after beating Sturm Graz 3-1 despite playing most of the game with 10 men.

– – – –

SCOTLAND

Celtic beat St Mirren 2-0 at home to lie four points clear at the top

King Mohammed’s message to Barack Obama, Royal Compassion and Tenderness

The Newtown massacre is the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history and one of the deadliest mass shootings around the world. A gunman at Virginia Tech University killed 33, including himself, in 2007. Only Virginia Tech and the mass killings of 77 in Norway last year had greater death tolls across the world over the past 20 years. King Mohammed VI extended a message of condolences to the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, after the attack occurred Friday at a school in the State of Connecticut.

In this message, the Sovereign says he “learned with great sorrow and sadness the news of the criminal assault which took place in a school in Newtown, killing several innocent people including children.”

In this painful ordeal, the King expressed his strong condemnation of this despicable crime, urging President Obama to “transmit to the bereaved families of the victims and the American people friend sincere condolences and feelings of compassion.”

The Sovereign also implored the Almighty to have victims in His holy mercy and grant their families patience and consolation.

Sharing with the U.S. President and the bereaved families feelings of sadness at this unstoppable tragedy, the King asks the Almighty to preserve the president and the friendly people of the United States from any misfortune. The King as usual was the first Arab leader to express his compassion and sympathy to the families of the victims. On behalf of all Moroccans, the King expressed his support and prayers for the families of the victims hoping that this type of emotional support – especially for that community, it’s already close-knit – is the most appropriate way of approaching this unbearable tragedy.

Said Temsamani
Political analyst

Nigeria: A New Kaduna State Governor Sworn in

Kaduna — Alhaji Mukhtar Yero was on Sunday sworn-in as the new Governor of Kaduna State by the state Chief Judge, Justice Rahila Cudjo.

The ceremony conducted at Sir Kashim Ibrahim Government House, Kaduna was witnessed by members of the state Executive Council, government officials and traditional rulers.

Yero replaced Gov. Patrick Yakowa who died in a helicopter crash on Saturday in Bayelsa.

In his acceptance speech, the governor pledged to continue with the transformation agenda laid by his predecessor.

“I sincerely desire to build on the good foundation that my boss had laid,” he said, adding that he would “secure, unite and develop the state”.

He paid tribute to Yakowa for his outstanding contributions to the development of the state and humanity.

” He invested so much on this and had started reaping the fruits of his labour.

“His wish was to consolidate and advance on the achievements so far made and hence, tagged Kaduna State’s 2013 budget as Budget of Consolidation and Advancement.”

The governor commiserated with the family of the deceased and people in the state over the loss of “a humble and dedicated person”.

” His humility, dedication to duty, fairness to all and a high sense of humour, endeared him to many, near and far, irrespective of religious, tribal or sectional inclinations, ” he added.

Yero said the occasion called for sober reflection, adding that it was time to mourn ” a good man” and to adopt strategies to ensure continuation of his legacies.

Yero, 44, was born in May 1968 in Zaria.

He attended LEA Primary School Kaura-Zaria between 1974 and 1980, Government Secondary School, Ikara between 1980 and 1985 and Government Day Secondary School, Zaria from 1985 to 1986 for his West African School Certificate and GCE O’ level.

The governor was at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria where he obtained a Diploma in Banking in 1988, Bsc Accountancy in 1991 and Masters Degree in Business Administration in 2003.

He was also at the College of Accountancy, Jos for Certificate in National Accountancy between 2003 and 2004.

The new governor began his public service career as a Higher Executive Officer at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria in 1992 before joining the defunct Nigeria Universal Bank Limited in 1993.

In 2007, he was appointed Commissioner for Finance, Kaduna State and later in 2010 as the state Deputy Governor.

A keen horse rider and polo enthusiast, Yero is married to Hajiya Fatima and has six children, (NAN)

kenya: Bomb Blast rocks Somali neighbourhood in Nairobi

Residents walk past burning tyres set alight by protestors in the Majengo area of the coastal city of Mombasa in Kenya on August 29, 2012. Kenyan police units are on a search for protesters and any possible weaponry used during recent riots in Mombasa which left 3 Kenyan police officers dead and over a dozen injured after a grenade attack on a police vehicle. A controversial muslim cleric known as Rogo, who was on US and UN sanctions lists for allegedly supporting Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab militants was killed in Mombasa when unidentified gunmen opened fire on his vehicle sparking violent riots. Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga today called for the nation to come together to stop religious violence, after two days of deadly rioting sparked by the killing of a radical cleric. AFP PHOTO / Ivan Lieman

Residents walk past burning tyres set alight by protestors in the Majengo area of the coastal city of Mombasa in Kenya on August 29, 2012

Two people were seriously injured when at least three grenades were lobbed towards a bar in the predominantly Somali neighbourhood of Eastleigh in the Kenyan capital Nairobi late Sunday, police said.

“Two people were injured in the blasts. They have been rushed to hospital. Other than that there are no other casualties from the incident,” area police chief Moses Nyakwama told AFP.

Witnesses say there were at least three separate blasts and that the explosions occurred near a bar, the latest in a string of blasts in Nairobi. The Kenya Red Cross said in a statement that there had been “at least three separate grenade attacks” and that the grenades had been thrown from a speeding vehicle.

The blasts follow a recent grenade attack outside a mosque that killed at least five people as well as wounding the local member of parliament.

A recent roadside bomb in Eastleigh killed one person and wounded several others. And last month, a bomb on a bus killed nine people.

Following Sunday’s attack, police were said to be conducting door-to-door searches in the neighbourhood.

Kenya has suffered a string of attacks, often blamed on Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab militants, since it invaded Somalia last year.

Kenyan troops, now integrated into an African Union force, seized the Shebab bastion of Kismayo, a key southern Somali port, in September. That led to warnings of retaliation from both the insurgents and their Kenyan supporters.

But the Shebab have denied involvement in previous similar bombings.

Violence in Kenya — ranging from attacks blamed on Islamists, inter-communal clashes and a police crackdown on a coastal separatist movement — have raised concerns over security ahead of elections due in March 2013.

Five years ago, elections descended into deadly post-poll killings that shattered Kenya’s image as a beacon of regional stability.

Last month, riots broke out in Nairobi’s Eastleigh district after the bombing of a bus, with running street battles between demonstrators and the police.AFP

Isaiah Abraham Murder: FBI to investigate – U.S.

United States has asked South Sudan to allow the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) assist in probing the recent killing of Isaiah Abraham, a renowned South Sudanese political commentator.

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South Sudanese political commentator, Isaiah Ding Abraham Chan Awuol, who was shot dead by unknown gunmen in front of his house in Juba, early on the morning of Wednesday 5 December 2012 (Photo: Hayat)

Princeton Lyman, the US special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan said the decision to involve FBI followed a meeting that took place between South Sudan President, Salva Kiir and Susan Page, the US ambassador to South Sudan.

“Ambassador Page [Susan] has offered to the President the assistance of the FBI in the investigation of the assassination of Isaiah Abraham and the president has accepted that,” Lyman told journalists Friday in the South Sudan capital.

“We hope that the investigation of that terrible tragedy will send a signal to all those who would violate the basic human rights here in South Sudan and lead to accountable for any of those responsible,” he added.

Established in 1908 as the Bureau of Investigation, FBI is a US governmental agency belonging to the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency (counterintelligence).

A local blogger and well-known political commentator, Abraham, whose real names were Diing Chan Awol, was killed outside his home in Gudele, located west of the South Sudan capital by unknown gunmen.

Close family member say the deceased, on several occasions, received numerous threats, mostly warning him against his writings.

Recent intimidations and killings of journalists, the US special envoy said, undermine the democratic principles, which the young nation struggled to achieve for years.

Last week, President Kiir ordered full investigations into the death of Abraham, while the South Sudan’s national security service this week announced a $50,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest of his assailants.

UN REACTS

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has condemned the killing, urging authorities to institute thorough investigations and bring those responsible to justice.

On Tuesday, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) also expressed concerns on the number of attacks on human rights defenders,, recent killing of a journalist and civilians in South Sudan.

Rupert Colville, an official from the OHCHR, said of the Office of the High Commissioner welcome the fact that President Kiir ordered the security services to conduct a “thorough investigation,” into the murder of Abraham.

The UN, in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, further expressed concerns on attacks and intimidations directed at human right
activists in recent months, citing the recent kidnapping and beating of a member of South Sudan Civil Society Alliance (SSCSA).

In October, Ring Bulabuk, a lawyer representing members of the alliance was allegedly kidnapped and tortured by “armed” men, with the incident said to be linked to their anti corruption advocacy.

Ghana: The NPP’s ‘Tale of Two Cities’ is too sweet for belief

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

We continue to focus attention on the NPP at this point in the post-election assessment of our national life. The threat to national stability posed by the riotous behaviour of its members still persists.

Likewise, the public posturing and churning out of inconsistent claims by its leaders has reached an alarming level to warrant further analysis. It is too ridiculous for belief that these people just can’t settle on any convincing lie to tell the whole world to back their rejection of the outcome of the Presidential elections.

All they have been doing so far is giving us conflicting figures and ratcheting up their thirst for violence.

We acknowledge the fact that they haven’t so far included the Parliamentary elections, which goes a long way to make their claims lopsided and woefully unpersuasive, at least, if their main beef is about the outcome of the general elections.

Why leave out the Parliamentary elections? How certain could they be that in this climate of “skirt-and-blouse” voting, anybody who voted for a Presidential Candidate would automatically endorse the party’s Parliamentary candidate or vice versa? The results speak volumes.

But the NPP leaders have focused on only the Presidential elections, and are expending energy and resources combing the constituencies and prowling for anything they can grab as evidence to support their wild allegations of rigging. They have come up with figures and assumptions that are not worthier than the efforts put into getting them.

While insisting that they are democrats who would use laid-down legal procedures to seek redress, they have been quick to mobilize their supporters to visit mayhem on Accra.

After attempting to paralyze life in Accra without success, they have shifted grounds to their own stronghold, Kumasi, to demonstrate their anger and frustration at the outcome of the polls. Let’s take note of the two emotive words—“anger” and “frustration”—catalyzing their protests.

The NPP leaders are angry at the election results and have been quick to blame the EC and the NDC for colluding to rob their Akufo-Addo of victory. Their conduct shows that they are frustrated as well. And they have so far managed to spin all kinds of yarns to get the backing of their followers.

I don’t see why they should be angry because there is no cause for it. Their defeat at the polls was self-created, which they should have come to terms with to tone down on their sentiments. When self-created problems cause electoral defeat, there is no need for anger. It falls for sober reflection and better planning for another day.

Furthermore, those entrusted with the responsibility of organizing, superintending over, and winding down the elections reported that the elections were free, fair, and transparent. The Electoral Commission Headquarters received certified results and announced them as the true reflection of the voters’ will. What is the justification for anger?

I can accept the fact that the NPP leaders and their supporters are genuinely frustrated because their dream of putting Akufo-Addo in power has ended up in smoke. It vaporized, leaving them with no option but the tailspin into which they have spun themselves ever since. Their venting of vengeance on innocent party rivals and threats to seek redress at the Supreme Court are the logical manifestations of that frustration, misplaced though it is. The sharp disappointment at losing the Presidential elections is too much for them to contain.

As they continue to swing from one end of the spectrum to the other, coming out every day with new brands of lies, they water down the force of any arguments they may be advancing at this stage to support their intentions. At least, the vacillation is so glaring as to make me wonder if these people really know how to fight their cause effectively. One lie here, another there, doesn’t speak well of them.

So, did they have any substance in hand before rushing to accuse the EC, the NDC, and the media of manipulating the election results to favour President Mahama? It was after making the allegation to justify their rejection of the results that they were began looking for data to proceed to court. So, if they didn’t have the data, how could they conclude that the election results were fabricated?

A friend of mine who chanced upon what they were bandying about as evidence of rigging told me this: “I got hold of a copy of their contrived evidence and couldn’t stop laughing at the preposterousness of the whole plot. Having seen the so-called evidence on whose merit they intend to pursue their case, it should be shocking if they actually proceed to court.”

I wouldn’t have regarded my friend’s viewpoints as worth my bother had the NPP leaders themselves not already given me cause to doubt their integrity.

When they came out with specifics to confirm their allegation of rigging, they wavered to the extent as to confuse the public. Beginning with the claim that as many as 15,000 votes were found to have been added to President Mahama’s tally, they upped it subsequently to 36,000, then to 100,000, and then over one million (as the General Secretary, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie) insisted yesterday.

As if that’s not enough to confirm the NPP’s inconsistencies, the Minority Leader in Parliament, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, has added more. According to him, the party’s findings have so far revealed that over 150,000 votes were added to the fortunes of President John Mahama.

Not to be outdone in this vacillation, the party’s Communications Director, Nana Akomea, says the party has completed gathering figures from 20,000 polling centers out of 26,000 across the country, and it is confident that its claims of electoral fraud would be vindicated. Thus, “evidence gathered so far could change the outcome of the elections.” The party is currently auditing the results of the presidential elections in order to challenge its outcome at the Supreme Court, he said.

Alright. Our ears are now stopped to all these wild claims. We are waiting for nothing else but the move to the Supreme Court. But wait a minute. That may not happen so soon because the NPP has added a new twist to its case.

The NPP says it has contracted two IT experts from Kumasi to probe the Parliamentary results as well. I have a hunch here. Too many attempts to either complicate issues or just to obfuscate them. There seems to be an adroit means to put too many issues out there with which to either buy time or confuse the public. It is an exit strategy, I daresay.

Will the NPP first proceed to court with the suit on only the Presidential elections or will it add that of the Parliamentary elections too? Or go it one after the other? If it is now hiring IT specialists to process those results to know what happened, it may take more time than expected for the party to begin its legal battle with the EC. Is anybody trying to hide behind technicalities here to outwit the public?

Here is another aspect of what I consider as an intricate exit strategy. According to the NPP, “the stage is set for its massive demonstration on Tuesday during which a petition will be presented to the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.”

Eureka!!

A petition to be presented to the Asantehene? What for? In protest at the party’s own acts that have destabilized public order and peace in contravention of the Kumasi Peace Pact? Or will that petition be on the party’s findings concerning the alleged rigging of the elections? Why the Asantehene?

What do they expect the Asantehene to do with their petition, anyway? Forward it to the government or to the international community? What for?

Or, read it and use it as the basis for an invitation to the NPP leaders for a meeting at which to appeal to them to rescind their intended court action—in the interest of national peace and stability?

I consider this last part as a possibility, and the main objective that the NPP leaders are chasing. With the Otumfuo’s intervention, they will then find good reason to drop the matter and save face. More importantly, hiding behind the Otumfuo’s intervention will provide enough justification for them to escape the anger of their own followers.

They seem to be preparing the grounds for a good, cunning defence. This is where the Otumfuo has to be circumspect in his dealings with such frustrated politicians. He has a lot to gain from not associating himself with them than from becoming the shock absorber that they want to turn him into.

History tells me a lot about why the NPP leaders will gravitate toward the Otumfuo, which I will explore in my next opinion piece.

Till then, we wait for more yarns to be spun by these NPP leaders as they put up new smokescreens behind which they will hide to manipulate their unwitting followers. For the majority of Ghanaians who gave their mandate to President Mahama, there is nothing to worry about but to sit back and watch this “Concert Party” performance by the fallen human elephants. In times like these, the circus could provide a good respite.

I shall return…

 

Ghana: Madam Hawa Yakubu must be laughing in her grave

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

The NPP may continue fretting and protesting (whether legally or through riotous behaviour by its activists), but its leaders seem not to know that their fate had long been decided before the 2012 elections were held. Hawa Yakubu will be asking from afar: What are they disputing?

Two main issues account for their defeat, she will say. Call them the lighter and heavier issues.

The lighter version borders on the superstitious but shouldn’t be discounted because superstition is part of our national psyche. This lighter version has three main aspects. Whether you believe in superstition or not as a factor to influence voter decisions, here are these aspects for you to ponder.

Superstition number 1: The defeat of the NPP may be too difficult to accept by the NPP leaders and followers, but it is nothing strange happening out of the blues. Let them cast their minds back to recollect what one of their staunchest bigwigs (Madam Hawa Yakubu Ogede) had foreseen before passing on into the life beyond. Did she not predict victory for President Mahama, even long before he could climb to the citadel of power for which she said she would vote for him if the NDC ever chose him as their Presidential Candidate?

She said so, and many in the NPP were taken aback and failed to see things the way she did. Today, her optimism has yielded substance. Should it surprise, shock, or annoy anybody?

Nobody but Hawa Yakubu could tell us what she saw about John Mahama to declare her support for him even at the time that he wasn’t well-grounded in national politics to be perceived as a Presidential Candidate. He was just a Minister and MP, but endeared himself to Hawa Yakubu’s heart because of what she might have perceived in him. And what the Ghanaian electorate would also perceive at 2012 the polls.

She couldn’t have said that she would vote for him if the NDC chose him without knowing why. That was even at the time that the NPP was in power. Had the NPP leaders followed up to know why, they might have been better informed about how to deal with Mahama at this year’s polls. But, as is characteristic of people absorbed in themselves and full of their own self-importance, they didn’t. They trusted their horses and chariots.

Superstition number 2: Then, comes in the Ata Mills factor and the possibility of “sympathy votes” going the NDC’s way. The circumstances surrounding his death, burial, and appeal to conscience from his own brother (Dr. Cadman Mills) to Ghanaians to honour his brother’s memory by retaining the NDC in power did its trick. If you believe in superstition, know that ancestral worship, which is part of our African traditional religious set-up, did its trick to help President Mahama win support from voters who grieved at President’s Mills’ death. You will be wrong to dismiss this aspect.

Superstition number 3: Do you remember the NPP’s Kwame Pianim’s biting comment at the time Akufo-Addo was chosen to lead the NPP to the 2008 elections? His pronouncement that “any fool can bear (carry) a party’s flag”—as a demonstration of anger at the snubbing of his favourite candidate (Dr. Frimpong Boateng)—created the impression that Akufo-Addo wasn’t appealing.

His retention for the 2012 elections didn’t erase that impression; it intensified it, as we could tell from all the negative references to the streaks of his character that his opponents and social/political commentators pointed to as major flaws that won’t make endear him to the hearts of the electorate. Akufo-Addo didn’t do the right thing to either own up or explain issues to allay public concerns.

Instead, he hid behind his legal team to issue vain threats of court action against those making the negative allegations against him. The matter refused to be brushed under the rug and exploded in his face as part of what caused his defeat.

On the heavier side, we have to turn to the major issues regarding the parties themselves (internal issues, the individual Presidential/Parliamentary Candidates, strategies for political organization and public appeal), public perception of them, their campaign messages, historical antecedents, and many others. When properly analyzed, these issues will open our eyes to why some of the parties couldn’t get voter support while others did enormously. I suppose you already know the strengths and weaknesses on this score and won’t go any further for fear of boring you. But because the NPP is up in arms after losing the elections, it presents a good case for expatiation.

Let me isolate it for special analysis to bring out why it failed in its bid to dislodge the incumbent. We have already identified many factors and commented on them, but want to say that a major problem that the NPP created for itself was to be overly confident of victory because of self-assurances that its campaign messages had done enough harm to the NDC’s interests. They harped on corruption and incompetence, which didn’t assuage the doubts and fears of the electorate.

Then, the NPP made a terrible mistake by gravitating toward the Rawlingses and using their new-found warm relationship as an indication of their damaging the NDFC’s underbelly. Of course, we all know the problems that the Rawlingses had created for the NDC, which undercut it a lot but didn’t undermine its formidable nature. But, unfortunately for the NPP, it was a different story.

Once they found a way to snuggle themselves to the good books of the Rawlingses, they counted on that niche to assume that the NDC would suffer a negative backlash at the polls. Of course, the Rawlingses knew what they were doing. While Nana Konadu persisted in her public condemnation of the NDC and showing signs of preferring the NPP’s Akufo-Addo to the NDC’s Mahama, her husband and spokesman (Kofi Adams) were rooting for Mahama.

The kind of game that the Rawlingses played was too intricately woven to outwit these NPP organizers. Unfortunately for them, they rushed into the bosom of the Rawlingses without pausing to reconsider any hidden motives. This marriage of convenience betrayed the NPP’s vulnerability. Apparently, voters were skeptical of the Rawlingses and didn’t hesitate to transfer that skepticism to Akufo-Addo.

A careful appraisal of the situation has revealed to me that voters in many parts of the country disliked Nana Konadu’s treachery against the NDC and voted in protest to benefit President Mahama. News reports that Nana Konadu’s NDP was funded and supported by the NPP to undercut the NDC further worsened the situation. Unfortunately, Akufo-Addo couldn’t see anything beyond his nose to know that he was dining with the very people who would create unfavourable impressions in the minds of voters.

Nana Konadu particularly came across as odious and once the voters associated her with Akufo-Addo, they did what was to be expected and voted according to their conscience. That President Mahama won massively in all the regions except the Ashanti and Eastern Regions testifies to this observation. Even in those regions, he made forays into the Akufo-Addo’s strengths. The quantum of votes he had from there boosted his overall harvest.

So, many factors converged to give Akufo-Addo the nightmare that he can’t recover from till death do him part. Undeniably, this defeat means the end of his political career. No matter for how long he chafes, he can’t come out unstuck. What is written is written! The decision to contest the election results at the Supreme Court won’t restore the light that has been turned off for him. Political doom is his lot, which he must accept and move on with his life as a lawyer in private practice. That is where his perch lies!

But he seems not to be able to reconcile issues to know how to behave. He is digging in and refusing to do what all sportsmen/women do: contest but be prepared to concede defeat when defeated! He is still adamant, supported by party leaders whose own inadequacies contributed to his defeat as well.

The NDC prevailed but couldn’t get the chance to celebrate on any massive scale, apparently because of the dissension from the NPP and the riotous behaviour of its followers that endangered peace and public order. As they continue to bare their teeth and issue threats all over the place, the situation is still dicey.

Until their leaders go to the Supreme Court to be hit with the truth: that they genuinely lost the elections and should concede defeat and comport themselves, any attempt to celebrate the NDC’s victory may pour more fuel on the volatile situation in the country.

The Kumasi Peace Declaration, which I have already described as worthless because it has no provision for implementation and sanctions, is just for the records. As the NPP activists continue to threaten peace and public order in registering their anger at the Electoral Commission, the media, and the NDC for “tampering” with the election results to favour President Mills, many tongues are wagging in relationship to this Peace Pact.

The Asantehene, who was instrumental in the enunciation and signing of this Peace Pact, hasn’t so far made any public pronouncement, even though life and limb have been threatened by the NPP followers. On the contrary, the Ghana Peace Council, another institution that played a pivotal role in this Peace Pact, has already been bold enough to accuse the NPP of doing acts to threaten the peace of the country and called for restraints.

Ghana: As the NPP’s woes deepen…. And Akufo-Addo digs in… (Part II)

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Now, to the main issues that I consider as the real causes of the NPP’s defeat. The “Yen Akanfuo” label made the NPP an anathema to those who felt slighted or endangered. It is one major problem that the NPP failed to address, which was reflected in its winning again only two of the regions as it did in the 2008 elections while President Mahama was all over the regions, even garnering votes in the NPP’s strongholds. This particular limited scope presented the NPP as a cabal for the Asante/Akyim elements.

Although there is satisfaction that the party increased its Parliamentary seats from four to 10 in the Northern Region, it is no confirmation that the voters have ceased to regard the NPP as “tribalistic” in scope, form, and function. No need to belabour this point.

Another albatross which caused Akufo-Addo’s defeat and will hang on the party for future elections is the failure to use strategies other than personal attacks and vain promises. So satisfied were the NPP organizers with that approach that when they added the fee-free SHS promise to it, they thought they had sealed their success, especially in the light of the so-called endorsement of that promise by diverse segments of the society who created the misleading impression that the promise was the key to unlock the floodgates to harvest votes for Akufo-Addo. Unwavering belief in that tip took their attention away from the huge iceberg of mistrust, distrust, and disdain lying beneath the surface.

As the situation would turn out to be, though, everything that was coming from those purportedly supporting that promise was a hoax. If it wasn’t, the votes would have flooded in from parents and students. But they didn’t, apparently because the voters knew that the demerits of that promise far outweighed any merit that might have prompted Akufo-Addo to go on that wild goose chase.

Inability to assess issues beyond their own self-serving perceptions was another factor. The NPP organizers concentrated attention on inciting segments of the society against the NDC, as was the case of Mensa Otabil and the Christian factor. The NPP organizer who said he would be shocked if Christians voted for the NDC was just being petty, and must have seen the harm only at the end of the elections. Recourse to religious sentiments won’t win elections because the Ghanaian voters could sift the chaff from the grain to know better than the NPP organizers did.

Many other factors could be cited to account for the NPP’s fate, but I won’t bore anybody with them because the negative backlash of the party’s own self-fulfilled prophecy has already taken the center-stage in the aftermath of the elections. The ongoing protests and threats to go to court to seek redress clearly explain the extent to which the reality has sunk in. And it is a painful reminder not to count one’s chickens before they are hatched.

As Akufo-Addo digs in and refuses to concede defeat—while the international community continues to commend Ghana for holding free, fair, and transparent general elections and to congratulate President Mahama for being victorious—the NPP’s intransigence is leading it to only one end, which is a gloomy future.

So far as the impact of this agitation on the party is concerned, I am in no way deceived that not only will the events characterizing the elections be difficult for the NPP to tackle, but the post-election conduct of its leaders and followers will be difficult to gloss over by the electorate in future elections. It is just like how people easily recall the heady days of the “Mate Meho” debacle to make their political decisions.

For the NPP to rebuild public trust and claw back the goodwill that it is fast losing, it has only one course of action: to go to the Supreme Court as it has threatened to do to seek redress. Even then, if the decision goes against it—which I foresee already—it will harm it all the more.

The repercussions may not be tolerable. The NPP followers are likely to turn the dagger on their leaders for hyping their expectations only to be faced with the difficult situation of remaining in the opposition. They will call for the heads of their leaders, especially that of Akufo-Addo.

For the sake of rebranding and repositioning the party, immediate steps will need to be taken to inject new blood into the party’s leadership. Akufo-Addo has reached a disastrous end of his political career and must be relegated to the background. So also must Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey and all those youthful elements more invested in causing trouble than working for the good of the party.

The Anthony Karbos, Sammy Awukus, John Jinapors, Kennedy Agyapongs, Lord Commeys, and many others whose counter-productive manner of politicking has led the elephant further into the thickest thickets of national politics should be set aside if the NPP wants to make a good name for the future.

Even former President Kufuor shouldn’t be spared. Had the NPP won the elections, he would have been proud and resolute to declare himself a lucky man. Probably, the victory would have been dedicated to him because December 8 was his birthday. But because the NPP lost the elections, that day passed off without notice as such.

Kufuor expended energy but hurt Akufo-Addo more than contributing anything meaningful to his worth. All the unguarded utterances he made in the vain attempt to denigrate President Mahama boomeranged because Ghanaians were quick to judge his own performance in power to conclude that he was more corrupt and incompetent than those he was accusing.

Ghanaians read deeper meanings to his utterances and judged rightly who should be their leader. Kufuor might have been stepping up his game to discount allegations of not helping Akufo-Addo’s campaign efforts in 2008; but all that he did amounted to nothing productive. He was a huge liability and will be again if used.

As to how they manage to come out with a Presidential Candidate who is already not tainted with the “Yen Akanfuo” stigma to make the difference in 2016, I have no idea. One thing I know for sure is that the NPP has a Herculean task to reposition itself for its own good in the future. If it wants to regain power, it will do more than what it did for the 2012 elections. Who wants it back in power, though?

As its current leaders should have known by now, the Ghanaian electorate are far wiser and more intelligent than constructed and perceived by them. The fate suffered by them at the polls could have been averted had they known how to use modern-day tactics to do politics instead of relying on the anachronistic ones that won’t cut butter. I hope they are now wise after the fact. This is where I pause with this wisecrack: Counsel them; if they don’t take it, let experience teach them the bitter lesson.

Ghana: As the NPP’s woes deepen…. And Akufo-Addo digs in… (Part I)

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

As the NPP leaders and followers continue to create the impression that the results of the just-ended elections were tampered with by the media, the Electoral Commission, and the NDC to crown President Mahama as winner, they leave me wondering whether they really know the true nature of the Ghanaian voters. Or whether they know where they are pushing themselves to.

Despite the reports by local and international election observers confirming that the elections were free, fair, and transparent (not only at the level of balloting but also in the collection, collation, tallying, and transmission of the results), the NPP leaders still think otherwise. They are nursing hopes that the Supreme Court will reverse the outcome to install their Akufo-Addo in power.

I laugh them to scorn because what has been done and sealed cannot be undone and torn apart at their prompting. World leaders have already stepped forward to acknowledge the winner of the elections and Ghanaians are going about their normal activities, putting the elections behind them.

A fly will bite an elephant if it can find a weak spot in its hide. That’s exactly what has happened to the NPP, which hasn’t missed the attention of world leaders.

They are congratulating President Mahama; and they are leaders of old, well established, and viable democracies whose attributes we admire and wish we could nurture our democracy to emulate. Despite the sporadic technical hitches, the 2012 elections passed off as successful in its entirety, winning the commendation of the world.

Are these NPP people expecting the Presidents of these countries (the United States, Britain, and France, especially) to take back their congratulations from President Mahama and give them to Akufo-Addo instead? That won’t happen.

There is every reason to say that if these leaders hadn’t been convinced beyond any shred of doubt that the elections were genuinely won by President Mahama, they wouldn’t have gone out of their way to congratulate him and assure him of their countries’ support and cooperation with Ghana. They didn’t hesitate to stick out their hands of welcome because the evidence reaching them is different from the one that the NPP is making noise about.

Of course, I don’t blame these NPP leaders for sticking to their guns and assuring their followers that victory awaits them at the Supreme Court. That is the smartest means to keep their hold on their followers. After all, once they began the political race with lies, they have no other option but to continue churning out lies to push their agenda. Anything short of that will expose them to the venom of their own followers.

But lies have a very short life span. Very soon, they will catch up with those spinning them for temporary relief. That is when Akufo-Addo, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, and Kwadwo Owusu-Affriyie will see “red”; that is when they will be stopped in their stride by their own angry supporters. They will definitely suffer grave consequences for all that they have done to mislead their followers into the tunnel, assuring them not to give up because there is light at the end of it.

I can tell them the truth: that the light they are seeing is one of a speeding train rushing toward them, not to give them hope of a bright future, but to crush them and their lies into ugly ribbons.

They can’t, however, abandon this cause of lies, lies, and lies. They do so at their own risk to face an early reprisal.

The truth that they should have known by now isn’t hidden. The abysmal performance of the NPP caused its defeat, not the so-called tampering of over one million votes to boost President Mahama’s chances. Let nobody continue telling lies and yet refusing to proceed to court as said more than necessary times. The sweetness of the pudding is in the eating.

The NPP lost the elections because it wasn’t what the voters wanted. Let nobody tell any lie. Many factors accounted for this heavy loss, more so when the NPP organizers repeated the very mistakes that caused Akufo-Addo’s doom at the 2008 elections. Even though shorn of the carnival and kangaroo dance, the NPP’s electioneering stunts had a lot of the theatre of the absurd to annoy the electorate. The circus was still in action to the chagrin of the voters.

Let me tell them these hard facts because I know there will be no Adu Boahen to write any “Stolen Verdict” for them, nor will Kennedy Arthur waste his energy to tell them to their faces in another rendition of his “Chasing the Elephant into the Bush.”

In all honesty, the elephant has already returned to its perch in the bush, where it is more comfortable than being prodded into the corridors of power. The NPP’s defeat seemed to have been pre-determined. Some of us saw it and revealed it only to be insulted by the blind followers and their crafty leaders massaging their sentiments.

Many factors contributed to this defeat, some of them self-created, others beyond their control. In sum, though, the real causes of this defeat stemmed from the self-created problems.

We are even not talking about the aspect of character, which also largely influenced the political decisions of the electorate. Of course, so much had already been put in the public domain about Akufo-Addo’s peculiar character traits or flaws that made it difficult for him to countermand President Mahama’s stature.

They hammered on mere human frailties and foibles that didn’t appeal to the electorate. Despite their attempts to paint President Mahama as a “promiscuous Billy goat,” they couldn’t harm him because his admirable streaks of character that endeared him to the hearts of the electorate put him poles ahead of his opponent. Of course, Akufo-Addo isn’t any better when it comes to issues of (im)morality; so, why try to calumniate President Mahama on that score? That was a miscalculation because all that vilification didn’t stick.

Another futile attempt was made from the angle of corruption. The NPP followers presented President Mahama as corrupt, citing his brother’s business dealings with the Merchant Bank as a case in point, the President’s alleged orchestrations in the purchase of aircraft from Brazil, and the botched STX housing project as other instances of corruption.

Of course, they were measuring him with Akufo-Addo’s yardstick of not being corrupt before, not corrupt now, or won’t be corrupt in future as the truth intoto; hence, to them (and as they sought to project to the electorate), President Mahama wasn’t as “clean” as their sacred cow to warrant being retained in office. The electorate didn’t see things that way. Another woeful miscalculation.

Worse of all, while bent on destroying President Mahama’s public image, they neglected their main objective and failed to “sell” Akufo-Addo to the electorate. Better still, the candidate himself failed to endear himself to the hearts of the voters as he persisted in maintaining his belligerent posture, making inflammatory pronouncements and effusive promises. The electorate were not impressed by his stubbornness in highlighting the “All-die-be-die” mantra, refusal to condemn Kennedy Agyapong’s genocidal utterance against the Gas and Ewes, and many more.

I shall return…

42 Ethiopian refugees arrested trying to flee to South Africa

Blantyre, Malawi – Police in the Malawi capital, Lilongwe, Sunday arrested 42 Ethiopians as they tried to flee to South Africa. Immigration Department spokesman Elack Banda said the refugees had fled the UNHCR-Malawi government-run Dzaleka Refugee Camp in the central district of Dowa.

‘We got a tip from the public that a truck was carrying a lot of strange people,’ he said.

Banda said the truck was traced to the city’s populous Kawale suburb and upon inspection the truck was found to contain sacks of unprocessed Malawi tobacco destined for South Africa with the Ethiopians hiding in between the sacks.

‘When we interrogated them, they claimed they were told there was some work for them in South Africa,’ he said.

Banda said the Malawian driver of the truck has also been arrested and that the refugees will temporarily be kept at the Maula Prison ‘for safe-keeping’.

He said the Ethiopians are likely to be sent back to the Dzaleka refugee camp.

‘We have to process them; we can’t deport them to Ethiopia because for them to be found at the camp they must have been cleared,’ he said.

The Dzaleka Refugee Camp, a former prison farm under the three-decade, one-party dictatorship of founding president Hastings Kamuzu Banda that ended in 1994, currently holds about 15,000 refugees and asylum seekers mainly from the Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa.

President Joyce Banda recently spoke about closing the camp since wars in most countries ended over a decade ago.

Malawi is used by mainly Ethiopian economic refugees as a transit point on their way to seek greener pastures in South Africa.

They take advantage of porous borders and corrupt police officers in Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique to use uncharted routes to reach their destination.

But sometimes, apart from being arrested, their adventure ends in tragedy. In July, nearly 50 Ethiopians drowned on Lake Malawi when a boat they were travelling in capsized.

A further 42 Malawi-bound Ethiopians suffocated to death in a truck in Tanzania.