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In a surprise move, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his military to start withdrawing the "main part" of its forces in Syria from Tuesday. He told a Kremlin meeting the Russian intervention had largely achieved its objectives. The comments come amid fresh peace talks in Geneva aimed at resolving the five-year Syrian conflict. Russia is a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Kremlin said he had been informed. Russia's entry into the Syrian civil war in September 2015 tipped the balance in favour of the Syrian government, allowing it to recapture territory from rebels. "I consider the mission set for the Defence Ministry and the armed forces on the whole has been accomplished," Mr Putin said at the Kremlin meeting. "I am therefore ordering the Defence Ministry to begin the withdrawal of the main part of our military force from the Syrian Arab Republic from tomorrow." Mr Putin also said that Russia's Hmeimim airbase and its Mediterranean port at Tartus would continue to operate as normal. He said both must be protected "from land, air and sea". The UN's envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura has meanwhile described the latest peace talks as a "moment of truth". He said there was no "plan B" should the talks fail, with the only alternative a return to war. A cessation of hostilities agreed by most participants in the conflict began late last month - but there have been reports of some violations on all sides.
Security and government expert, Ibrahim Irbard has in a statement apologised to the presidential candidate of the opposition NPP for alleging that he [Nana Addo] was briefed before the Guantanamo Bay Detainees Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby. The government and Ghana and the United States agreed for a two year stay for the former Bay Prisoners. “I can say for a fact that Nana Akufo-Addo was duly informed six clear months before the Gitmo detainees touched down…he was informed by the Americans…there was broad-based consultation…,” Ibrahim Irbard claimed. However, after months of making such a statement, the security analyst has apologised for lying about Nana Addo.   See statement below   The militant attack in Ivory Coast shows how vulnerable Ghana is to possible attacks by militants from the Sahel region and North Africa.   This has nothing to do with playing host to only two ex-Gitmo detainees. I sincerely apologize to Nana Addo and the NPP for an error in the intelligence info about being informed of the ex-detainees 6 months before their arrival.   That inelligence gap is sincerely regrettable and won‘t happen again. In the same vein, I admire His Excellency John Dramani Mahama and appreciate the efforts our dear President and the ruling NDC are making to keep the nation safe from attacks. Ghanaians should not panic. We have a diligent police force and a robust army on standby to keep the nation safe. Ghana will continue to remain safe if:   1. We don’t pursue a belligerent foreign policy and stick to peacekeeping missions abroad   2. End youth despondency by creating jobs to profitably engage our teeming exuberant youth whose frustration could be used as a recruitment bonanza   3. Tighten border controls and beef up security at malls, hotels, resorts, bus terminals, universities etc   4. Engage the world in peace building and ending the conflicts in South Sudan, Libya, the Central African Republic etc- Peace Ambassador Irbard Ibrahim          
The Deputy Minister Designate for the Upper East Region, Dr. Robert Bella Kuganab Lem shocked the Appointments Committee today when he told them that, he gained his political experience after listening to political discussions on both radio and television. According to him, his active participation in the ruling party's activities makes him more experienced politically. ''I listen to radio and tv a lot and hear political discussions...I also go to meetings  where political issues are discussed; and so that is my political experience.'' However, his answer, did not go down well with the Hon. Ursula Erkuful (Mrs) MP for Ablekuma West and also a member of the Appointments Committee who  questioned why the Deputy Minister Designate gave such an answer when he had actually stand for the position as a Member of Parliament which is far better an example to give. Dr. Robert Bella Kuganab Lem from information gathered had attempted to go to Parliament on the ticket on the ruling party twice but have failed on all occasions. This according to the Appointments committee was far better as a political experience than listening to political discussions on radio and television. The nominee claimed, he did not want to tout his political experience due to his nomination but Hon. Ursula Erkuful said, his answer did not go well with the Committee since he already accepted that, he is a card bearing member of the ruling government. The Appointments Committee also raised very serious concerns about the nominee's CV and what it contained, since he failed to diligently explain what he had compiled together. The nominee assured the Committee that, should he be confirmed as the Deputy Minister for the Upper East Region, he will work closely with his Minister to ensure a peaceful election in the region, which is normally characterized by violent clashes. He indicated, he will build on the efforts and call by the Police Command in disbanding all vigilante groups like the Bolga Bull Dogs located in the region, to maintain peace, law and order. He stressed, their common enemy is poverty which he is committed to fighting, hence he will ensure that, he will engage the people to understand this. Dr. Robert Bella Kugana Lem holds a PhD in Health Planning and Management, a Senior Lecturer and a Dean of the School of Allied Health Sciences, University for Development , Tamale.  
President John Dramani Mahama has hinted that, his 2016 campaign is going to be an evidence based campaign which will shocase to the electorate what the NDC government has achieved in the last three years and how they can continue to build on what the've achieved. The President in an answer to a question asked him on what his campaign theme is going to be for this year noted, that is being worked on but he was sure his campaign will be evidence based. He indicated, very soon his campaign team will soon be outdoored. ''Our campaign manifesto is being worked on; and I wouldn't want to preempt what they are going to come out with. I know that, the campaign team is being formed, it will be announced soon and so I cannot preempt but, certainly the campaign this year is going to showcase to Ghanaians what we've been doing, how we can continue to build on what we've been doing. And so its going to be an evidence based campaign. And we are going to showcase the effects of the socio-economic transformation that we've been undertaken, has being on the lives of the people. And if given an opportunity for four years, how we are going to make it more significant in their lives,'' President Mahama stated. President Mahama stressed the need for politicians to engage in a sound and evidence based debate of issues. In 2012, the ruling government, used ''Advancing the Better Ghana Agenda'' after its ''Better Ghana Agenda'' theme in the 2008 elections. The 2012 NDC Manifesto  underscored its commitment to build a prosperous and equitable society. It focused on education, health, youth and sports, economy, job creation, agriculture, infrastructure among other key areas outlined in their manifesto. According to the NDC, thier 2012 Manifesto contains the policy initiatives that are required for building the new era of social justice and equity which has been our goal for the past two decades and which we share with many millions of Ghanaians.  
  Residents at Kasoa Asempa down in the Central region, and its environs have called government and MP for the Awutu Senya East, Hon. Mavis Hawa Koomson to take steps to prevent floods in the area and any unforeseen disaster. The area was flooded after the heavy rains due to the uncompleted and abandoned drainage system in the area. Some of the residents who spoke to Nyankonton Mu Nsem said, they risk loosing their property and other valuable items to the mercy of the floods hence the needd to speed up the project to ensure lives are saved. Traders and some businessmen expressed their plight when Nyankonton Mu Nsem's Kwadwo Asiedu Ansah visited the area to access the flood situation after the rains. According to Kwadwo Asiedu Ansah, a number of houses constructed in the area had also prevented the free flow of water since they are sitting on water logged areas. Speaking in an interview with Nyankonon Mu Nsem over the call by residents, MP for the constituency, Hon. Mavis Hawa Koomson said, she's made several efforts to get authorities rectify the issue but all to no avail. she explained, the contractor contracted to work on the project had abandoned the project for reasons best known to him and the worst part is that, the converts used are small hence it will always lead to flooding when it rains. The legislator revealed, she had to at one occasion give money to the contractor just to buy coverts to enable him work. She posited, ''maybe its because am not a member of government so the NDC government have abandoned my people and are not showing any interest in their welfare. Maybe i have to wait till Nana Addo becomes president, then he will listen to my people.
Presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party, Nana Akufo Addo, has said that, the country lost lost one of the ''principled '' police officers after news of the death of the late DCOP Awuni broke to him. Nana Addo described the death as a sad one and a huge blow to the country and the police administration. The former National Director of the Motor Traffic and Transport Unit (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service who was recently transferred to the Eastern region following a massive shake up by the IGP, died at the Police Hospital after a short illness, Monday morning. The three times presidential candidate of the largest opposition party, Nana Addo commenting on the death of the late officer said:''Saddened by the news of ACP Awuni's death. Condolences to his family; may he rest in peace. Ghana has lost a fine, principled Police Officer.'' DCOP Awuni was an accredited member and a Council Member of the Institute of Public Relations, Ghana. He joined the p[olice service in the year from 1980 and held various positions in the Police Service ranking from Director of Public Relations, District Police Commander, Divisional Police Commander, Regional Police Commander and Commanding officer-MTTU. Mr. Awuni held an M.A in Governance and Leadership from GIMPA, a Diploma in Journalism from GIJ and had rich experience in United Nations Missions Abroad with experience in countries such as Namibia, Bosnia and Sudan.  
The Let My Vote Count Alliance has hinted of a possible demonstration to mount pressure on the Electoral Commission (EC) to present to Ghanaians a clear timetable which they intend using to validate the current voters' register as recommended by the five panel members it constituted to preside over the forum on the debate over the credibility of the register. A statement from the LMVCA has given the EC a week ultimatum to present to Ghanaians a timetable in that regard. According to them, it will be a waste of money for the EC to undertake its limited registration exercise before the validation exercise hence the need to conduct both exercises together. ''It should also be noted that it would be a waste of money and time to conduct limited registration and then to do the validation afterward. The EC must conduct the validation in tandem with the limited registration they plan to carry out. It would be neither effective nor efficient to waste the Ghanaian people's money and time by conducting these exercises separately. This issue requires urgent attention and clarity from the EC,'' a statement signed by David Asante, conveyor of the group noted. Speaking in an interview with David Asante on frontline, he said, their decision to embark on the demonstration is as a result of the posture of the EC in doing the right thing.         Read the full LMVCA statement below:     The Let My Vote Count Alliance (LMVCA) is outraged by the apparent determination of the Charlotte Osei-led Electoral Commission to impair our democratic system. The EC's reckless decisions are setting up the nation for chaos in the November 2016 general elections.   The EC’s posture and timetable make clear that it does not intend to carry out records validation for registered voters, despite being encouraged to do so by its own Panel of Experts, and even by the Supreme Court.   We wish, by this statement, to inform the public that LMVCA accepts the recommendation from the Panel Report that Validation is good enough, if done well, to clean up the register and give us a credible base document for the 2016 elections. The challenge now is that the EC appears determined to deny Ghanaian this important exercise recommended by its own panel of experts.   We are, by this statement, demanding from the EC a clear timetable for validation to clean up the register and this must be made known to the public within a week from today, failing which we will mobilise the youth of this country to stage a massive demonstration against the Commission.   In the 77-page report of the Panel of Experts, set up by the EC to provide guidance on the electoral register issue, Justice VCRAC Crabbe and his team asserted that the voter register is bloated, and that Ghana cannot go into the 2016 general elections without addressing its widespread irregularities.   Shockingly, the Panel discovered that the number of names on the voter register is “dangerously” and unacceptably more than the total number of eligible voters in Ghana. The Panel implored the EC to validate registered voters, but the EC, incredulously, is refusing to do so.   In our current circumstances, a validation exercise becomes the only possible means to give the nation a clean register that will enable credible elections with an outcome that will be readily accepted by all.   Enough is enough.   Let it be reiterated, the Let My Vote Count Alliance is giving the EC a one-week ultimatum to tell the people of Ghana when and how it will conduct the validation exercise to deliver a credible register to the citizens. If the EC exceeds its one-week ultimatum, we will take action. And this time around, the demonstrations we stage will be bigger and stronger, and no amount of intimidation from the police or the anti-democracy thugs will deter us. We have both the outrage and the inflamed determination of the nation behind us.   All across Ghana, the people no longer have faith in the authorities to conduct an honest election. Ms. Osei and the EC's ongoing refusal to clean the voter register is a refusal to conduct a free and fair election in Ghana.   It should also be noted that it would be a waste of money and time to conduct limited registration and then to do the validation afterward. The EC must conduct the validation in tandem with the limited registration they plan to carry out. It would be neither effective nor efficient to waste the Ghanaian people's money and time by conducting these exercises separately. This issue requires urgent attention and clarity from the EC.   The people of Ghana will not let Charlotte Osei and the EC rob us of an honest election. They must be held accountable.   .....................   Signed David Asante Convener LMVCA    
Greater Accra Regional Coordinator of the National Disaster Management Authority, Alhaji Benjamin Seidu has warned Ghanaians to desist from dumping refuse into our gutters to prevent flooding especially this rainy season. Speaking in an interview with Nyankonton Mu Nsem, he said, the negative and irresponsible attitudes of some Ghanaians should be blamed for the floods we usually see during the rainy season. Alhaji Benjamin Seidu assured Ghanaians of the preparedness of NADMO in averting any disaster this rainy season. He indicated, the Authority went round across some parts of Accra where, its known be prone to floods when it rains and the situation, he noted, had improved as compared to the past. Areas they visited included Odawna,Dansoman, among other areas. He said, the Authority will do all it could to ensure that Ghanaians are safe, sound this rainy season and possibly avert any major disaster like the June 3rd, disaster. Passengers were lefter stranded with several others trapped in vehicles today due the heavy rains which flooded parts of Accra. School children had to abandon class today due to the rains.
Two Emirati pilots were killed when their fighter jet crashed during a mission against Houthi rebels in Yemen, the Saudi-led coalition has said. A coalition statement said the plane had suffered a technical failure. The UAE is part of the coalition which has been carrying out air strikes since March 2015 in support of ousted President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi. It is the first known loss of an Emirati jet in the conflict in which some 6,000 people have been killed. About half of the deaths have been civilian, the UN says. The plane crashed in a mountainous area near the southern city of Aden, local officials and witnesses said. The UAE Air Force operates both F-16 and Mirage 2000 fighter jets. In December, a Bahraini F-16 crashed in Saudi Arabia due to a "technical error", while in May a Moroccan warplane came down over Yemen. Both jets were taking part in the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen, codenamed Operation Restoring Hope. The UN has criticised both the coalition campaign and the Houthis over the scale of civilian casualties. Source: BBC
Al-Qaeda's North Africa branch claimed responsibility after six gunmen opened fire on civilians at an Ivory Coast beach resort, killing at least 16 people.    Bloody bodies were sprawled on the beach and witnesses described horrific scenes as a lazy Sunday afternoon was shattered by West Africa's latest attack.   Fourteen civilians and two special forces soldiers were killed before the six assailants were gunned down in the resort of Grand Bassam. Sunday's attack targeted three hotels in the southeastern town about 40km east of the country's economic capital, Abidjan.   Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara arrived in Grand Bassam a few hours after the shooting rampage.     The beach resort of Grand Bassam "I present my condolences to the families of the people who were murdered, and of course I am very proud of our security forces who reacted so fast," Ouattara said outside the Etoile du Sud, one of the targeted hotels. "The toll could've been much heavier."   Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.   Bursts of gunfire sent people running from the beach at Grand Bassam, a UNESCO World Heritage site and popular destination for Ivorians and foreigners.    It was the third major attack on a tourism centre in West Africa since November.   Some witnesses said the assailants fired at random, while others said the killing was more targeted. Witness Marcel Guy said gunmen raced across the beach in small groups, toting Kalashnikov rifles and hunting for victims.   One gunman, who had a long beard, approached two children on the beach and Guy said he heard the man speaking Arabic. One of the children then knelt and started praying. He was spared, while the other boy was not.   "The Christian boy was shot and killed right in front of my eyes," Guy said.   Nii Akeutteh, an Africa policy analyst, told Al Jazeera security officials in the region would be closely watching the situation.   "African borders in general and in the Sahel in particular are pretty porous…I'm not surprised that they got all the way to the south of Ivory Coast. The prudent thing to do is to assume this will not be the last attack," said Akeutteh.    Dozens of people were killed in the earlier attacks on West African tourist sites, starting with a siege at a Malian hotel in November, and then an assault on a hotel and cafe in Burkina Faso in January.   Analysts had warned for months that Ivory Coast, which shares a border with both of those affected countries, could be hit as well.   "The United States strongly condemns the terrorist attack in Cote d'Ivoire in the Grand Bassam. We send our thoughts and prayers to all affected by this senseless violence," US Department of State spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.   Source: Ajazeera
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