President George Weah in talks offer to Liberian protesters

Revered in Liberia and beyond for blazing a trail for African footballers in Europe, George Weah is struggling to revive a country that is one of the poorest in the world. (AP Photo)
Updated 11 June 2019
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President George Weah in talks offer to Liberian protesters

  • Weah, 52, is now being challenged over the same issues on which he campaigned in his rise to the presidency of the West African state just 18 months ago
  • Weah acknowledged that the economy is still facing challenges, stressing that his government had inherited a broken economy

MONROVIA: Liberian President George Weah on Tuesday invited opponents to “round table” talks to seek solutions to the country’s economic woes, four days after thousands protested against rising prices and corruption.
Weah made his offer to “leaders of political parties, civil society groups, elders, religious leaders, our traditional leaders, student leaders and the business community,” in a speech aired on national radio.
He suggested “a round table discussion to afford them the opportunity to present their alternative views, or their suggestions on the economy.”
A protest coalition on Sunday gave Weah a string of demands with a four-week deadline.
They include improvements in areas such as human rights and corruption, as well as the prosecution of Finance Minister Samuel Tweah and Central Bank Governor Nathaniel Patray in connection with financial problems at the Central Bank of Liberia which led to price hikes.
The coalition also called for Weah and all of his officials to declare their assets.
Revered in Liberia and beyond for blazing a trail for African footballers in Europe, Weah is struggling to revive a country that is one of the poorest in the world and still traumatized by back-to-back civil wars between 1989 and 2003 that claimed a quarter of a million lives.
Weah, 52, is now being challenged over the same issues on which he campaigned in his rise to the presidency of the West African state just 18 months ago.
In his radio address the Liberian president appealed to all citizens: “Let us sit and dialogue on the way forward. Bring your ideas to the table and I assure you that they will be given my most careful consideration.”
He acknowledged that the economy is still facing challenges, stressing that his government had inherited a broken economy.
Addressing last Friday’s peaceful protest, Weah said that “some of our citizens have exercised their constitutional rights to publicly assemble with the objective to petition their government. We commend them for the peaceful and orderly manner in which they exercised their rights.”


Nigeria death toll rises in Boko Haram triple suicide bombing

Updated 17 June 2019
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Nigeria death toll rises in Boko Haram triple suicide bombing

  • Three bombers detonated their explosives outside a hall in Konduga

Thirty people were killed late Sunday in a triple suicide bombing in northeast Nigeria, emergency services reported, in an attack bearing the hallmarks of the Boko Haram militant group.

Three bombers detonated their explosives outside a hall in Konduga, 38 kilometers from the Borno state capital Maiduguri, where football fans were watching a match on TV.

“The death toll from the attack has so far increased to 30. We have over 40 people injured,” Usman Kachalla, head of operations at the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), said on Monday.

An earlier toll from the blasts, the bloodiest in months, gave 17 dead and 17 wounded.

The attack happened around 9:00 P.M., Ali Hassan, the leader of a self-defense group in the town, said.

The owner of hall prevented one of the bombers from entering the packed venue.

“There was a heated argument between the operator and the bomber who blew himself up,” Hassan said by phone.

Two other bombers who had mingled among the crowd at a tea stall nearby also detonated their suicide vests.

Hassan said most of the victims were from outside the soccer viewing center.

“Nine people died on the spot, including the operator, and 48 were injured,” Hassan said.

Kachala said the high number of fatalities was because emergency responders had been unable to reach the site of the blast quickly.

Nor were they equipped to deal with large numbers of wounded.

“Lack of an appropriate health facility to handle such huge emergency situation and the delay in obtaining security clearance to enable us deploy from Maiduguri in good time led to the high death toll,” he said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the attack bore the imprint of Boko Haram, which has led a decade-long campaign to establish a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria.

The last suicide attack was in April this year when two female suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the garrison town of Monguno, killing a soldier and a vigilante and injuring another soldier.

Konduga has been repeatedly targeted by suicide bombers from a Boko Haram faction loyal to longtime leader Abubakar Shekau.

The faction typically carries out suicide attacks against soft civilian targets such as mosques, markets and bus stations, often using young women and girls as bombers.

The militants are believed to sneak into the town from the group’s haven in nearby Sambisa forest.

Eight worshippers were killed when a suicide bomber attacked a mosque in the town last July.

Boko Haram insurgency has claimed 27,000 lives and forced some two million to flee their homes.

The violence has spilled into neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting the formation of a regional military coalition to battle the insurgents.