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Gambian Lawmakers Refuse To Lift Ban On Skin-bleaching Products

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Gambian Lawmakers Refuse To Lift Ban On Skin-bleaching Products

A government proposal to lift a ban on skin-bleaching products which are widely used across Africa has been rejected by Gambian lawmakers.

Skin lightening is also practised in other parts of the world such as South Asia and the Middle East, and is particularly popular among women. But it is controversial, with many people arguing that the phenomenon is a toxic legacy of colonialism and that the bleaching agents used to lighten skin pose health risks.

Yahya Jammeh, who for 22 years ruled the tiny West African state with an iron fist, banned the practice in 1996. The former president fled The Gambia in 2017 after losing presidential elections to a relative unknown, Adama Barrow.

READ ALSO: Ambode, Ribadu, Others Make List As APC Raises New Committee Ahead Of 2023

Barrow’s government sought to lift the skin-bleaching ban last year, arguing that it discriminated against women. Justice Minister Dawda Jallow also argued that criminalising people for using cosmetic products was an unfair punishment. However, on Monday, several lawmakers argued in favour of maintaining the ban, citing health or religious reasons.

“The chemicals used in the production of skin-bleaching creams are hazardous to human health,” Momodou Camara, an MP, told the assembly. Twenty-three MPs voted to uphold the ban, with 10 votings to repeal it, an AFP journalist said. Other MPs were either not present in the chamber, or abstained from voting. [AFP]

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German Lawmakers Quiz Merkel’s Likely Successor Over Corruption Charge

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German Lawmakers Quiz Merkel's Likely Successor Over Corruption Charge

A top contender for Angela Merkel’s office as chancellor will on Monday face an investigation into an anti-money laundering agency overseen by his ministry.

The appearance of Finance Minister, Olaf Scholz, the frontrunner in the race to succeed Merkel, before the German parliament’s finance committee comes less than a week before Germans go to the polls in national elections on September 26.

MPs from opposition parties will have the opportunity to ask Scholz questions via video link after the finance and justice ministries were raided by prosecutors on September 9 as part of a probe into the Cologne-based Financial Intelligence Unit.

The body, part of Germany’s customs authority tasked with tackling money laundering, is suspected of failing to report potential wrongdoing to the relevant authorities.

Merkel’s conservative bloc has seen a steady decline in opinion polls under unpopular candidate Armin Laschet, allowing Scholz’s centre-left Social Democratic Party to grab a late polling lead.

“Nerves at the SPD are shredded” at the prospect that the scandal could have an impact on the party’s poll ratings, according to German weekly Der Spiegel.

But prosecutors are also under scrutiny over the timing of their raids.

READ ALSO: ECOWAS Gives Guinea Military Deadline To Restore Democracy

The under-pressure conservatives have seized the opportunity to attack Scholz for his involvement in the controversy.

In a televised election debate last Sunday, Laschet said the result of the finance minister’s actions was that “supervision had failed” and accused Scholz of trying to brush the issue under the carpet.

In response, Scholz distanced himself from the unit, saying the raids “had nothing to do with the ministries”, and accused Laschet of asking “dishonest” questions.

Scholz has previously been criticised for the failure of his ministry to heed early warning signs from the payments company Wirecard, which collapsed last year after acknowledging a 1.9-billion-euro ($2.2-billion) hole in its accounts.

The finance minister appeared in front of a parliamentary inquiry into Wirecard earlier this year, where he denied responsibility for the collapse of the company.

On the campaign trail, Scholz has defended his response to Wirecard, saying that he has led an effort to strengthen Germany’s financial watchdog in the aftermath.

“We did what we had to do,” Scholz said when confronted with accusations in a televised debate.
Scholz has also come under fire over Germany’s “cum-ex” tax fraud saga, a complicated share dividend scam that went on for years and is estimated to have cost the state some 5.5 billion euros.

The former mayor of Hamburg has denied putting pressure on the city’s tax authorities after meeting with the owner of a bank implicated in the scandal in 2016.

 

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ECOWAS Gives Guinea Military Deadline To Restore Democracy

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ECOWAS Gives Guinea Military Deadline To Restore Democracy

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has ordered the Guinean military to restore democracy in the country after its coup against the civilian government.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, stated this yesterday while representing President Muhammadu Buhari at the Extraordinary Summit of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS member-states on the political situation in the Republics of Guinea and Mali, which held in Accra, Ghana.

According to the communique issued at the end of the extraordinary summit, ECOWAS leaders have resolved to freeze the financial assets of members of the military junta, place a travel ban on them, while also demanding that the junta return Guinea to constitutional rule within six months.

READ ALSO: ECOWAS Suspends Guinea Over Military Coup

At the last summit of ECOWAS leaders which held virtually on September 8, Nigeria, also represented by VP Osinbajo, condemned the coup de‘tat in Guinea, calling for an unconditional release of President Alpha Conde, and for stringent measures on Guinea’s military junta.

At the Accra summit, Prof. Osinbajo restated Nigeria’s position, urging the unconditional release of President Condé and calling for more pressure to be put on the country’s military leaders to return the nation to democratic rule.

The vice president said : “It is also important that ECOWAS should simply insist that there should be an immediate return to civil rule.”
Calling for more stringent measures to be taken by the sub-regional body, Prof. Osinbajo said “we must make sure that sanctions by ECOWAS achieve the intended objectives.”

The vice president restated the call to engage global bodies and Africa’s development partners in taking steps to prevent such unconstitutional change of government in countries on the continent.

He said: “In this connection, I think we should engage all well-meaning stakeholders including the Africa Union, European Union, United Nations, developmental partners, and financial institutions to join in taking more stringent measures by imposing travel bans and freezing of offshore financial assets of the coupists and their collaborators to ensure that they do return the country to democracy immediately.”

 

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UN Asks Taliban Leaders Not To Intimidate Aid Workers

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UN Asks Taliban Leaders Not To Intimidate Aid Workers

Deborah Lyons, the head of the United Nations envoy has met Afghanistan’s new interior minister who was for years one of the world’s most wanted Islamist militants.

On Thursday, Lyons, head of the UN mission in Afghanistan met Sirajuddin Haqqani to fashion ways for the country to head off soaring humanitarian crisis.

Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman, disclosed this in a statement on Twitter.

“(Haqqani) stressed that UN personnel can conduct their work without any hurdle and deliver vital aid to the Afghan people,” he said.
Afghanistan was already facing chronic poverty and drought but the situation has deteriorated since the Taliban took over last month.

The plight of the Afghan people has been aggravated with the disruption of aid, with the departure of tens of thousands of people including government and aid workers chiefly instigating the collapse of much economic activity.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told an international aid conference this week that Afghans were facing “perhaps their most perilous hour”.

The UN mission in Afghanistan said that in the Wednesday meeting Lyons had stressed the “absolute necessity for all UN and humanitarian personnel in Afghanistan to be able to work without intimidation or obstruction to deliver vital aid and conduct work for Afghan people”.

The Taliban repeatedly targeted the United Nations during the two-decades-long U.S.-led military mission in Afghanistan that ended last month with the rout of the Western-backed government by the Taliban.

READ ALSO: Voters’ Bid To Recall Californian Governor Over COVID-19 Fails

In one of the bloodiest incidents, Taliban militants killed five members of UN foreign staff in an attack on a guest-house in Kabul in 2009.

More recently, gunmen attacked a UN compound in the city of Herat in July with rocket-propelled grenades killing a guard, while protesters in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif in 2011 killed seven UN members of staff.

The Haqqani network, a faction within the Taliban and for years based on the border with Pakistan, was held responsible for some of the worst militant attacks in Afghanistan during the Taliban insurgency.

The United States designated the group a terrorist organisation in 2012.

Mr Haqqani, head of the eponymous network founded by his father, is one of the FBI’s most wanted men with a reward of $10 million for information leading to his arrest.

U.S. officials and members of the old U.S.-backed Afghan government for years said the Haqqani network maintained ties with al Qaeda.

The Taliban have promised not to let Afghanistan be used for militant attacks on other countries.

(Reuters/NAN)

 

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