Bamako - Jihadists occupying northern Mali on Thursday said they had cut off the hand of a thief in accordance with strict Islamic law which they have imposed on the population.

“Yes, I confirm it. We applied sharia in Ansongo yesterday (Wednesday). The hand of a thief was cut off. Sharia demands it,” a leader of the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa told AFP. Witnesses in the town confirmed the incident. - Sapa-AFP

The New Patriotic Party in Germany has learnt with shock and surprise the sudden death of  His Excellency  John Evans Atta-Mill, President of the republic of Ghana

On this sad occasion, NPP Germany would want to join millions of Ghanaians around the world in expressing our deepest sorrows and sympathy to his wife and the entire bereaved family.

Our deepest condolences also go to our brothers and sisters of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and wish them God’s strength at this difficult time.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and the entire nation.

May his soul rest in perfect peace

Signed: 

KwakuAnane-Gyinde

Director of Communications

NPP-Germany

Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood on Tuesday night swore into office, Mr. John Dramani Mahama in Parliament as the 4th President of the Republic of Ghana and Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces.

President John Mahama takes over the remaining term of Prof. John Evans Atta Mills, who died earlier on Tuesday at the 37 Military Hospital after suffering a short illness. President Mahama until Tuesday was Vice President for the late President Mills.

Parliament was recalled by Speaker of Parliament Joyce Bamford-Addo for an emergency sitting after an earlier meeting in the day, where a letter was read by the speaker informing MP’s of the President’s decision to travel to Nigeria on Tuesday night on an official visit. Both sides of the political divide wore black and red, to signify their grief.

Mr. Mahama returned to Ghana and, from 1991 to 1996, he worked as the Information, Culture and Research Officer at the Embassy of Japan in Accra.

From there he moved to the nongovernmental agency (NGO) PLAN International's Ghana Country Office, where he worked as International Relations, Sponsorship Communications and Grants Manager. Mahama was first elected to the Parliament of Ghana in 1996 to represent the Bole/Bamboi Constituency for a four-year term. In April 1997, Mr. Mahama was appointed Deputy Minister of Communications.

He rose to become the substantive Minister of Communications by November 1998; it was a position he held until January 2001 when the National Democratic Congress (NDC), which was the current ruling party, handed over power to the newly elected New Patriotic Party's government.

In 2000, Mahama was re-elected for another four-year term as the Member of Parliament for the Bole/Bamboi Constituency. He was again re-elected in 2004 for a third term. From 2001 to 2004, Mahama served as the Minority Parliamentary Spokesman for Communications. In 2002, he was appointed the Director of Communications for the NDC.

Mahama has seven children. He is married to Lordina Mahama. It is unclear however, if President John Mahama will be selected by the National Democratic Congress to lead the party in the December elections.

Ghanaweb

The 32-year-old spent three months travelling through Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique before finally reaching South Africa, where he says he now has asylum status. His journey involved being crammed in a fishing boat - where he saw people suffocate to death - locked into a container, held in custody and climbing through electric fences.

Hundreds of migrants from the Horn of Africa die every year trying to reach South Africa. Abdullah, an English teacher in private school, survived his journey. He had already been separated from his wife and three children before he left Somalia, but hopes he can now trace them and perhaps bring them to South Africa too.

He spoke to Louise Redvers in Johannesburg about his ordeal: Fleeing with friends When you are running away from difficulties, you don't think, the only thing you try to focus on is what's ahead

I left Somalia about three months ago. I can't remember the exact date, when it was. I was born in the Qardho region [northern Somalia] but I left there because there was intense fighting between the so-called al-Shabab and the government.
They each accuse you of supporting the other, so it's either that you die or you support either of them. I couldn't withstand the way of life there and when I saw a few friends of mine fleeing I just went with them. We were hopping from one city to the other and we found ourselves in a refugee camp in northern Kenya, at Dadaab.

In the refugee camp life was difficult, you could get no help and no-one enrols you because all the focus is on the elderly and the weak.

If they see you're a bit strong, you have to fend for yourself doing awkward jobs like if you can find a donkey, you go and get firewood from the bush and sell it just to survive.

It was more like Somalia there because even though there was peace, if you can't get a life, what is there? I talked with a few friends there who had relatives abroad and we thought: "Why don't we try and find a better place?" So after a month, I left with those friends.

We went to Nairobi by truck, and in Nairobi I worked for like a week or so, then fortunately I saw a friend of mine, we were classmates about six years back, and he had come from South Africa. He suggested I tried some other places because life in Kenya is also becoming difficult. So I went to Mombasa and there I saw guys who were trafficking people and they took us in a boat from Mombasa to Dar es Salaam.


'Unbearable'

I can't exactly describe the boat. It's because I am not a fisherman, but it was a big boat and we were a mixture of Somalis, Ethiopians and Eritreans.

    Some people passed away on the boat from suffocation. They were just dumped in the sea. That was one of the most frightening things”

Abdullah Ibrahim

I cannot really describe the conditions. It was unbearable.

There were 70 people packed in a boat that is supposed to transport about 45. It was like one was sitting here, the other is sitting on your shoulder, the other is on your lap, so to breathe was very difficult and it was very cold in the night. But if you tried even to say a word, they would kick your nose. They said they would either call the police or you keep quiet.

Some people passed away on the boat from suffocation. They were just dumped in the sea. That was one of the most frightening things.

I was not thinking if I was suffocating - I don't know how I survived, only by a miracle I think. I paid the boat people about 10,000 Kenyan shillings, which is about $120 (£75) - it was the last money I had. We arrived in Dar es Salaam after three days. I don't know where exactly. They took us to a house where they locked us, for about another four days.

One guy I was with managed to get some help from a relative and I asked him to take me with him where he was going and he said he would. I remember it was the middle of the night and they packed us into a truck, a container, we were about 120 people and I think it was a 40ft container. That was even worse than the boat. We didn't know where we were going. We didn't have any documentation and we couldn't say anything. When you travel this way you have no rights, no say, so you have to just follow the people guiding you. When we crossed into Malawi the police found us and we were arrested and held for something like 20 days.

Then we were released. I think one of the guides managed to pay something, you don't know who your guides really are or what their relationship is with the border police.
After we were released, I tried to see if I could find any Somalis where we were in Lilongwe. Whenever you are in trouble, that is what you do, look for a relative or someone who knows your family.

    This year so far, nearly 300,000 people have fled Somalia to neighbouring countries
    In 2012 the number of Somali refugees in the Horn of Africa surpassed one million
    The UN projects more than 25,000 Somali refugees will be in South Africa by 2013
    In 2010 more people claimed asylum in South Africa than any other country in the world


We found an Ethiopian who directed us to a Somali guy. By then we were just three people as we'd split up from the group. The Somali guy kept us for three days and then he gave us some money to go to Mozambique. We spent about 10 days in Mozambique, mostly hiding from the police, and then this other guy came for us and said he would take us to South Africa.

I don't know where the place was but I remember it was like a farm or a zoo and there were wild animals there - we could hear their noises.

I remember there were long wires in rows that we had to jump over. We had a local person guiding us. Once we had crossed the border, we didn't know where we were but we went to find some Somalis. Then one guy who was driving to Johannesburg to buy stock for his business brought us here.

It was a Sunday when we arrived here in Mayfar. I phoned a friend of mine who is in Cape Town and he sent me some money that kept me for a week. A refugee's life I was told to go to Home Affairs and after about two weeks I managed to get refugee status. I know I was lucky to get this as others did not. Now I am looking for work. I think if I try hard, I can make myself a good future. I don't know if I will bring my wife and children here. I am trying to trace them at the moment. Let me cross the bridge when I reach it.

It's not right that we make these journeys in this way, but circumstances will force you to do what you have to. Sometimes whatever life brings you, you have to look for a solution, a way out. I don't owe anyone any money. Most of the people were doing it out of good will, out of their heart. It is our nature as Somalis, when we are outside Somalia, we are always helpful and if we see a Somali suffering we won't just leave them.

I don't recommend anyone to take the journey I did but if you have no other choice, try your luck. That's the only message that I can give them. I am very happy to be here. I don't know what tomorrow brings but today I am happy.

CNN

 

TopAfric wishes to express its deepest sorrow following the untimely passing away of President Prof. John Evans Atta Fifi Mills of Ghana.  He died a strong believer in modern  democracy, his death occurred at the 37 Military hospital in Accrca. He was 68 years old.

We extend our condolences to the First Lady, Madam Naadu Mills, his family and the good people of Ghana for this sudden call. The lord shall abundantly reward him for his relentless service to Ghana and mankind.

We wish to encourage Ghanaians all over the world to be proud of themselves, and the swiftness at which the newly sworn president, John Dramani Mahama was undertaken needs to be commended. 

May his soul rest in peace.

 

We entreat all Churches especially in Germany to organize a special memorial service in his honor, which shall be followed by a non denominational church service. Date and venue shall be communicated to you soon.

 Desmond John Beddy (TopAfric)

Prof John Evans Atta Mills, President of the Republic of Ghana is dead according to reliable information reaching Peacefmonline.com.

The President died on Tuesday afternoon after suffering from a long battle with sickness.  His death occurred at the 37 Military hospital in Accrca.

 Prof John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills was born on 21st July 1944 and was Sixty Eight-years-   old (68-years-old).

 He was the third and current President of the Fourth Republic of Ghana and was inaugurated on the 7th of January 2009, having defeated the ruling party candidate Nana Akufo-Addo in the 2008 election.

He was Vice-President from 1997 to 2001 under President Jerry John Rawlings, and stood unsuccessfully in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections as the candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

He recently returned from a nine day medical check-up in the United States. Prior to his trip to the U.S of A on June 16th, questions had been asked about the whereabouts of the president after he had not been seen in public for close to two weeks whilst communal violence ravaged parts of the country.

After a successful routine medical checkup in New York, H.E the President of the Republic of Ghana arrived home at about 12:45pm on Monday 25th June, 2012 to a rousing welcome. Before his departure to the USA, President Mills quashed rumours of his death when he addressed the media. He also stated that he is going for a “routine check-up” and will be “away for a few days.” In a formal notice to Parliament, President Mills said he will be away in the US until June 25, 2012. Details of the Presidential notice were read to MP’s during Tuesday's sitting of the House by the first Deputy Speaker, Hon Edward Doe Adzaho, who presided over proceedings.

 The President’s letter read: “In accordance with Article 59 of the Constitution of Ghana, I write to inform you that I shall be away in the US from Saturday, 16 June to Monday 25 June, 2012 for a routine medical check-up. “During my absence the Vice-President of the Republic of Ghana, H.E John Dramani Mahama, shall in accordance with Article 60 (8) of the Constitution act in my stead. Kindly accept, Right Honourable the assurances of my highest consideration.

 Signed

 Prof. John Evans Atta Mills,

 President of the Republic of Ghana.

 This was his last letter to parliament prior to his “routine check-up” in the United States of America.

 Condolences to all Ghanaians and his family from Peacefmonline.com.

  

Debbie Calitz says she was raped by her captors during her 20-month hostage ordeal in Somalia, a report has said.

Speaking to the Daily News in Durban on Wednesday, Calitz and her partner Bruno Pelizzari, who landed in South Africa almost two weeks ago, relived aspects of their capture.  Calitz said the most harrowing part was the kidnapping. “It was like a dream,” she said.

They described how they were taken hostage after their yacht, SY Choizil, skippered by Peter Eldridge, was hijacked off the Kenyan coast en route to Richards Bay from Dar es Salaam in October 2010. Eldridge was later rescued.“Bruno was asleep and I had finished my shift. Peter just started his shift when I saw three speedboats. From a distance they looked like whales,” she said. “Peter took one look and knew they were pirates. He went downstairs and made a Mayday call. Within a minute the leader was aboard, pointing a bazooka at me.”

About five other men also boarded, wielding AK-47 assault rifles, she said. Cellphones, money and jewellery were demanded, in that order. Calitz said each pirate had about six cellphones. The third boat, which she described as a “supply” boat, arrived with rice, beans, milk and sugar. “I asked for a cup of food for Bruno and myself. It was nice, it tasted like rice pudding.”

The couple and the skipper were held on the SY Choizil for about five days before being taken to an island where they said they were interrogated and assaulted. Calitz said a woman and a girl had been present for a while. The woman seemed to have some clout with the pirates, she said. “When they started to beat me, I told her to take the girl away. She spoke to the men in Somali and they stopped.”

The couple told the Daily News that before their release the couple wore whatever they had on the day they were captured. For Pelizzari it was jeans, a T-shirt and baggies. Calitz had a bikini and a thin cotton dress, which turned to rags in the first few months of their capture. At one stage, the couple were separated and Calitz’s bikini was taken from the bathroom, she said. “I was naked all the time.”

Shying away from certain questions, Calitz, who claimed she was raped by her captors, said more would be revealed in a book they were planning to write about their ordeal.In their almost two years in Mogadishu, Somalia’s largest city, the couple said they were moved – blindfolded – about 17 times.

Calitz said she bore no grudges: “They were young enough to be my children, I can’t hate them. They don’t know any different.” Pelizzari said some pirates appeared to be friendly, but they had a rule not to speak to the hostages for more than a minute at a time.“Some were ruthless, but others would sneak us a banana or something now and again,” he said. “I don’t know if it was part of their plan.”

The couple said their only link to the world – and a source of entertainment – was the oil-drenched newspaper wrapping their meals. “We’d read whatever news we could find and do the cryptic crosswords in our heads,” he said. “Being in a dark room all day, forced to whisper, and no stimulation was horrible. We needed something to occupy our minds.”

The couple also said that pink flip-flops and tarot cards are all that they had kept from their ordeal. Pelizzari said: “This is all I have from that time. We didn’t want to keep anything.” Calitz revealed a set of tarot cards made with scraps of paper. “This was the third set we made. We made it from an old school book and pencil Bruno found in a rubbish heap.

“The first set was made out of a sanitary box and charcoal. That was confiscated. We made a second pack from a calendar hanging on the wall, but that too was taken. I’ll never get rid of these,” she said.  Calitz told the Daily News that she would accompany Pelizzari to Dar es Salaam soon to fetch his boat, but that she would fly back. She said her children refused to let her sail again. Details about their release, who had played an instrumental role in freeing, them may never be revealed.

Spokesman for the Department of International Relations, Clayson Monyela, said: “Nothing more will be said on the matter. Security matters are not for public consumption.”

- IOL

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