Tuesday, 25 January 2011

News Release From The White House: State Of The Union Address

President Obama
Tonight at 9 p.m. EST, President Obama will deliver the State of the Union Address and outline his vision for putting aside the politics that divide us and moving forward to create jobs, up our game to out-compete in the global economy, and win the future for our children and our country.

This year we're trying something new.  As President Obama addresses the Nation, we'll offer a companion stream of visual aids, including charts and quick stats about what’s happening in the country. 
Immediately following the speech, stay tuned for our live Open for Questions event with policy experts from the White House answering your questions about key issues in the speech.

Throughout the week, we'll have plenty of ways for you to get involved and ask questions of President Obama and other senior Administration officials about the State of the Union Address. 


David Plouffe
Senior Advisor to the President

News Report: African Union May Oust Gbagbo

The African Union will this week discuss using diplomatic isolation and economic sanctions to force Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo to relinquish power following a November election the continental body says he lost.
The bloc, representing 53 nations, has for now ruled out the use of force called for by West African states to install his opponent Alassane Ouattara as president, Kenyan Prime Minister and African Union envoy Raila Odinga said Jan. 21. The group began a meeting in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, yesterday that culminates in a heads-of-state summit on Jan. 30- 31.
A failure to agree on decisive action may enable Gbagbo, 65, to extend his decade-long rule and undermine the group’s ability to uphold democracy on the world’s poorest continent, where more than 20 countries are due to hold elections this year.
“Ivory Coast will be seen as an example,” Anne Fruhauf, Africa analyst with Eurasia Group in London, said in e-mailed comments. “The commitment to promoting democratization has been ambivalent at best.”
Odinga said on Jan. 18 that efforts to broker a settlement had failed and time was “running out for an amicably negotiated settlement.” Three days later, he said the group would consider sanctions and isolation rather than the use of force.
A decision to impose sanctions would mark a break with the African Union’s recent handling of election crises following disputed votes in countries such as Zimbabwe and Kenya.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe retained power after using violence to force his rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, to back out of the vote. An accord brokered by South Africa led to the creation of a unity government. In Kenya, former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan negotiated a power-sharing accord between President Mwai Kibaki and his opponent, Odinga. That agreement followed two months of post-election ethnic fighting in which 1,500 people died.
A statement on the African Union’s resolutions is expected to be issued after the summit ends on Jan. 31.
“We have seen similar tests in the past and we have seen non-decisive action,” Steven Gruzd, an analyst at the South African Institute of International Affairs in Johannesburg, said in a phone interview on Jan. 20. The African Union has “bumbled through.”
The African Union previously used sanctions against the leaders of a 2008 coup in Mauritania and members of a junta that seized power in Guinea the same year. The bloc may be as resolute when it comes to dealing with Ivory Coast, said Mehari Taddele Maru, head of the African Conflict Prevention Program at the Institute for Security Studies in Addis Ababa.
Senegal and Nigeria favor sending in troops to oust Gbagbo; Ghana and South Africa are calling for renewed mediation; and Angola has made a solitary call for new elections.
“Almost everybody is united in terms of the ultimate aim” of getting rid of Gbagbo, Mehari said in a Jan. 20 telephone interview. “There might be differences over modalities. There will be a lot of consideration as to whether military intervention will be successful.”
The UN estimates at least 260 people were killed in violent clashes in Ivory Coast since the Nov. 28 elections. While the African Union, UN and U.S. all recognized results showing Ouattara won by a clear margin, Gbagbo alleged electoral fraud and claimed victory. He was proclaimed president on Dec. 4.
The African Union suspended Ivory Coast’s membership on Dec. 9, calling on Gbagbo to transfer power to Ouattara “without delay.”

The Economic Community of West African States, or Ecowas, said on Dec. 24 that it may use force to oust Gbagbo if he refused to leave office. The group’s 15 members include Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal and Ivory Coast.
“Gbagbo is determined to defy and treat the entire international community with absolute disdain,” Odein Ajumogobia, Nigeria’s foreign minister, wrote in a column published in the Lagos-based ThisDay newspaper today. “Ecowas requires unequivocal international support through an appropriate UN Security Council resolution to sanction the use of force.”
West African leaders on Jan. 22 asked Ouattara to nominate a new head for the West African Central Bank after Governor Philippe-Henri Dacoury-Tabley resigned. No reason was given for the resignation.
The Senegal-based regional central bank said on Dec. 23 that it recognized Ouattara as president and that only people authorized by him would be allowed to access the state account. The decision was meant to starve Gbagbo of funds to pay civil servants and the military. Still, Ouattara said in an interview with Le Monde today that Gbagbo’s government managed to withdraw about 150 million euros ($202 million) from the central bank.
“It was unacceptable that he allowed the illegitimate government of Gbagbo to take out money,” Meite Sindou, Ouattara’s spokesman, said in a telephone interview yesterday from the commercial capital Abidjan, referring to Dacoury- Tabley.
Jean-Baptiste Compaore, who was appointed the bank’s acting governor, has ordered the closure of its office in Abidjan in an bid to block further withdrawals, Toikeusse Mabri, Ouattara’s economic minister, said by phone from the city today.

Credit: Bloomberg Businessweek

News Release: IHRHL Calls For INEC’s Cooperation With Independent Citizen Observers

The Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (IHRHL) wishes to urgently draw the attention of Rivers State INEC Commissioner and members of the general public to a  crass display of impunity by INEC Adhoc staff,  that forcibly prevented  accredited independent observers from observing the ongoing Voter Registration at the following  Centres Akpor Grammar School Ozuoba and Redeemed Church Premises Rumueme, on January 24, 2011 in Obio/Akpor LGA, alleging that they have direct instruction from INEC to so do.
The IHRHL notes that this illicit action smirks of a deep conspiracy by the Adhoc staff to circumvent what is meant to be an open participatory and accountable process. 
IHRHL also have received reports that unrepentant corrupt and violent minded political bigwigs in the state determined to circumvent the processes that could lead to a free, fair and credible elections, are hiring poverty stricken youths from neighbouring communities to register in Tai Local government Area in Ogoni Kingdom at a minimum sum of One thousand Naira only per voter. This allegation if correct is the latest method of vote rigging even before the ballot.
For the avoidance of doubt, the IHRHL is an accredited observer by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Abuja under aegis of the Alliance for Credible Elections (ACE) to observe the ongoing voter’s registration exercise in Rivers State.  IHRHL accordingly have deployed observers throughout the 23 Local Government Areas of Rivers State to serve the purpose of noting successes, and challenges of the new process as a way of making immediate improvement and for the future.
The IHRHL mindful of the immense danger that the purported action purposes to the process, urge the authorities of INEC in Rivers State to immediately investigate the veracity of the allegation, with a view to curbing same directly.
Finally, IHRHL wishes to remind all Corps members admitted to carry out this very important national responsibility, that it is by reason of the stake which they have in the present and future of Nigeria, that they have been called to do this duty selflessly, with honour and dignity. No pecuniary advantage, no matter how high can compensate for their failure to do a diligent duty under God.
Nkasi Wodu, Esq.
Programmes Officer ESC Rights
Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (IHRHL)