Protesters Disregard Social Distancing, Storm Busiest Hong Kong Street, As Police Fire Tear Gas
Police fired tear gas at protesters in one of Hong Kong’s busiest shopping districts on Sunday as growing numbers took to the street.
The protesters are in opposition to Beijing’s plans to impose a national security law that bypasses the local legislature.
Water cannon and armoured trucks were deployed across the city before protests even kicked off, as police prepared for mass protests, the first of their kind since the city got COVID-19 under control.
While some protesters dug up bricks from walkways, scenes largely included dozens of riot police, moving people on or blocking roads in line formations, determined to keep traffic moving for as long as possible.
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The demonstrations are expected to intensify throughout the day.
The Police issued two statements in quick succession, condemning protesters for turning up and flouting social distancing laws, after calls to gather were advertised online, despite not having the official go-ahead.
The Police also appealed to the public to get out of the area and stay safe, as they undertake “enforcement actions against rioters’’.
Widespread outrage has engulfed the city as new laws concerning national security led the discussions on Friday at the National People’s Congress rubber-stamp parliament in Beijing.
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Many Hong Kong citizens feel the new laws would infringe on the freedoms widely enjoyed by the semi-autonomous city as it would allow Chinese companies to set up security agencies.
Protesters, who can currently be arrested and fined for flouting social distancing laws and for illegal assembly, may also be charged with “local terrorism” under the new national security law if it is passed by Beijing.
International human rights organisations say the laws would mean the end of the “One Country, Two Systems” principle, the 1997 understanding implemented when Britain handed control of the city back to China, which left Hong Kong a degree of autonomy.
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam and Andrew Leung, the President of the territory’s Legislative Council (Legco), welcomed the move.
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Both politicians have been embroiled in a political stalemate between pro-establishment and pro-democratic camps in the local parliament, amid ongoing anti-government protests.
Tensions came to a peak last week in the Legco when opposing sides battled it out during an election for Chair of the House Committee, which reviews bills.
Some pro-democracy legislators were carried out of the chamber by security guards during the hour-long debacle.
The coronavirus pandemic temporarily shut down protests, but now that there are no new COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong, some have accused the government of keeping social distancing measures in place to quash the return of protests.
A heavy police presence could be seen throughout the day on Sunday, with the Police stopping and searching individuals, while groups of riot police could be seen loading weaponry with tear gas canisters and rubber bullets.
The Police came under fire during the protests last year for their use of tear gas as a dispersal weapon in densely populated areas.
More Than Half Of world’s Poor In Africa – Economist
Chief Economist, Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Hanan Morsy, said Africa accounts for more than half of the world’s poor.
Morsy gave the figure on Monday at the 55th session of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The official noted that the continent faced a tsunami of global shocks that have exacerbated existing socio-economic operation and equity.
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“Africa, as a result of these shocks, currently accounts for more than half of the world’s poverty at 54.8 per cent,” the economist hinted.
Morsy said an estimated 548 million Africans lived in poverty in 2022, while 149 million more at risk of falling into poverty.
She observed a skewed distribution across the continent in terms of concentration of underlying issues, with East and West Africa having a higher share of poverty.
Morsy called for inclusive macroeconomic policies such as targeted and efficient spending, and resilience to future shocks at the household and community level.
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The ECA chief, however, urged African governments to enhance resource mobilisation, including closing tax loopholes.
“Africa loses 40 to 60 billion dollars annually in tax evasion. There’s also funding that can be raised through tackling issues of illicit financial flows,’’ she said.
Abia Guber Poll: Otti Wins In 10 LGAs, PDP 5
Alex Otti of the Labour Party has won a total of 10 out of the 16 Local Government Area results so far declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, before the commission suspended collation of the Abia governorship election.
Otti polled a total of 171,747 votes while Okey Ahiwe of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, scored a total of 79,477 votes after winning five LGAs.
Young Peoples Party, YPP polled 8,839 to win Osisioma LGA the home of its governorship candidate, Enyinnaya Nwafor.
Meanwhile, INEC, has directed the immediate suspension of collation of governorship election results in Abia State.
Administrative Secretary of INEC, Abia State, Chief Clement Oha read the directive midway into collation at the INEC office in Umuahia on Monday.
He said that based on the alleged irregularities by in some polling units particularly Obingwa Local Government Area where INEC office was invaded, collation had been halted at the LGA.
According to him, there will be no further collation of results at Obingwa until INEC Commissioners arrive from Abuja by Tuesday to supervise the collation and take decision on what has to be done after reviewing the situation on ground.
The Presiding Officer and Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology Owerri, FUTO, Professor Nnenna Oti had in the course of collation brought in the Administrative Secretary to read the message she said that came from the INEC headquarters Abuja.
She had said that the INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu, personally called her and gave her directives on guidelines to follow in ensuring that Abia governorship election results were collated based on the extant guidelines.
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Professor Otti thereafter, announced the immediate suspension of collation pending the arrival of the team from Abuja.
She had earlier vowed to the neutral but strictly objective in discharging her duties.
Professor Otti who is also a Pastor with the Redeemed Church, assured that the will of Abia voters would not be subverted under her watch.
”I’m Professor Nnenna Oti from Afikpo, VC of FUTO. The people’s mandate shall stand.
“I have spent all my adult life in pursuit of the ideals of good governance. We shall stand by the these principles.
”The pastor in me and the mother in me will not permit me to do anything that will adversely affect the future of our children. I shall do right by God and by man!”
Meanwhile INEC in another statement signed by its Head Voter Education and Information Committee, Festus Okoye, announced suspension of collation of governorship election results in Abia and Enugu States.
INEC in the statement, cited alleged cases of violence, irregularities and invasion of its offices in the affected states as reason for the action.
According to a statement, the commission will review results in the affected LGAs before further action.
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But Alex Otti of the Labour Party is already leading in the 12 LGAs so far declared.
Below is a full text of the statement.
“SUSPENSION OF FURTHER COLLATION OF GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION RESULTS IN ABIA AND ENUGU STATES
Below is a full text of the statement entitled ” Suspension of Further Collation of Governorship Election Results in Abia and Enugu”:
“The Commission met today, Monday 20th March 2023 and reviewed the conduct of the Governorship and State Assembly elections held nationwide on Saturday 18th March 2023. Arising from the meeting, the Commission took the decision to suspend forthwith further collation of the Governorship election results in some parts of Abia and Enugu States.
“It will be recalled that our office in Obingwa Local Government Area was invaded by thugs yesterday Sunday 19th March 2023 and our officials held hostage in relation to the collation of results from the Local Government Area. Similarly, reports from Enugu State call for a review of the results for the Governorship election from the two outstanding Local Government Areas of Nsukka and Nkanu East.
“Consequently, the Commission hereby suspends the collation of results in Obingwa Local Government Area of Abia State and the two outstanding Local Government Areas of Enugu State which are yet to be collated. A review will be undertaken immediately before the process is concluded.
“We appeal for the understanding and patience of voters, parties and candidates in the affected States.”
Meanwhile, Dr Alex Otti has maintained a comfortable lead in the 16 Local Government Area results so far declared.
He won five LGAs out of 10 that was declared on Sunday, and collected another five out of the six LGAs announced on Monday, thus bringing the total number of LGAs under his kitty to 10.
Young Peoples Party, YPP won in one LGA while PDP has five LGAs.
According to the results of the 16 LGAs declared so far, Otti polled a total of 171,747 votes, while Ahiwe of the PDP trailed behind with 79,477 votes.
In the results declared on Monday, YPP polled 8,839 to win Osisioma LGA the home of its governorship candidate, Enyinnaya Nwafor.
Labour Party came second in Osisioma after polling 7,032 votes while PDP got 4,699 votes.
APC, APGA and ADC scored 504, 292, and 332 respectively.
LP swept Umuahia North the seat of Abia power with 27,668 while APC whose candidate, Chief Ikechi Emenike who hails from the area, came second with 7,225 votes.
PDP got 4,843 votes while APGA and ADC polled 1,816 and 457 respectively.
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Similarly, LP cleared Aba South with 22,014 votes while PDP crawled behind with 3,348 votes; and APGA, 1,762 votes.
The Labour Party continued its winning spree at Aba North where it polled 20,974 votes while the ruling PDP managed to get away with only 4,146.
YPP scored 2,296; while APGA got 1,404 votes.
LP also swept Ohafia LGA with 11,848 votes against PDP’s 4, 128 votes.
APC and APGA got 1,354 and 945 votes respectively.
The Labour Party still cleared Umuahia South with 16,187 votes while PDP got 5,464 votes.
Falz Reacts To Sanwo-Olu’s appreciation Post
Famous Nigerian singer, Folarin Falana, popularly known as Falz the bad guy, has reacted to the Lagos State re-elected Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s appreciation post.
Governor Sanwo-Olu had on Monday, in a post shared on his official Twitter handle, appreciated Lagosians for believing in him.
He wrote: ”I’m deeply humbled and grateful for the overwhelming support and trust of the good people of Lagos State. I’m honoured to be re-elected as your governor and pledge to continue to work tirelessly to deliver a better Lagos for all. Thank you for believing in me.”
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Reacting to this, Falz, who quoted the tweet, said everyone had seen the electoral irregularities unfold and Sanwo-Olu was only deceiving himself.
”You were not re-elected. You selected yourself. Everybody saw it unfold. You are only deceiving yourselves,” he said.
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