A military court in Suriname sentenced President Desi Bouterse to 20 years in prison Friday over the executions of political opponents when he was the South American country’s dictator in the 1980s.
Bouterse, 74, is on a state visit to China and will appeal the judgement when he returns next week, his lawyer Irvin Kanhai said.
A two-time coup leader, two-term president and convicted drugs-trafficker, Bouterse has dominated Suriname’s politics since taking power in a 1980 military coup.
Friday’s judgement, delivered by a three-member court martial led by Judge Cynthia Valstein-Montor, relates to the executions of 15 regime opponents in December 1982.
The so-called “December killings,” in which the regime rounded up and executed 13 civilians and two military officers, have long clouded Bouterse’s rule.
Bouterse has always denied involvement, saying the victims had been held for plotting a counter-coup with the help of the CIA, and had been shot while trying to escape.
His evidence, presented by his lawyers, contradicted several witnesses who said he was present during the executions at Fort Zeelandia, the colonial fortress in the capital Paramaribo.
In her ruling, Valstein said Bouterse had played a “crucial” role in the killings, carefully preparing the ground for executions he had the power to prevent.
Military prosecutors opened the case against Bouterse and 24 other suspects in 2007, but the president and political allies several times sought to derail it in Congress.
The trial has gone on so long — 12 years — that six of the suspects have died.
Bouterse is due to begin the second leg of his foreign trip, a two-day visit to Cuba, on Monday on his way back from China.
The veteran leader is unlikely to go to jail anytime soon, however. Under Surinamese law, he cannot be arrested until all appeals have been exhausted.
Bouterse seized power as a 34-year-old sergeant major.
He stepped down in 1987 under international pressure, but returned to power in 1990 in a second, bloodless coup. He left office a year later.
In 2010, Bouterse’s election as president protected him from an Interpol arrest warrant issued after a Dutch court sentenced him to 11 years in prison for cocaine trafficking.
Dutch-speaking Suriname’s people have roots in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.
It gained independence from the Netherlands in 1975.
BREAKING: UN Moves To Create New Country Out Of Nigeria, Cameroon
The Federal Republic of Nigeria may lose 24 local councils, by way of ceding, to a new country to be known as United Nations Organisation (UNO) State of Cameroon at its borders with la Republique du Cameron by July 10, 2020.
The Guardian reports that the withdrawal of his country’s soldiers by President Paul Biya from the southern part of the planned UNO State of Cameroon has set the stage for the creation of the new state being spearheaded by the UN.
The withdrawal of troops by Biya was formally demanded by the former President of the United Nations General Assembly, Ali A. Treki on May 20, 2020. This was disclosed in a May 26, 2020 letter of the UNO State of Cameroon to Prof. Martins Chia Ateh, the United Nations-appointed workshops coordinator in Cameroon and Nigeria.
Ateh said in the letter: “Greetings and thank you very much for the attached list of those who were detained in the Nkambe prison of Cameroon in August 2008.
“It is only now that the soldiers of la Republique du Cameroun are being withdrawn from the southern part of UNO State of Cameroon.” He said it was a good thing Treki kept the records straight.
On UN’s creation of a new country in Africa, Ateh said: “I should be getting back to you once the United Nations finishes with an official announcement on the existence of UNO State of Cameroon to the international community.”
While conceiving the new state, the former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan invited former President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and Biya of Cameroon to sign documents respecting their countries’ international boundaries.
It was learnt that Obasanjo and Biya signed the documents in March 2003 to cede their twin territories (Northern and Southern Cameroons) to the proposed UNO new country in West and Central Africa.
The UN, according to recent reports, pledged to actualize a new State of Cameroon on July 10, 2020.
Residents of Southern Cameroon were excited over the merger of their land with Northern Cameroon in Nigeria, comprising 24 local government areas in Borno (five), Adamawa (12) and Taraba (seven) states.
According to The Guardian, the Southern Cameroon residents have since last year during their agitations to separate tagged the UNO State of Cameroon as “Ambazonia.”
In Nigeria, the new country’s landmass extends from Bakassi Peninsula in Cross River State to Ngala Local Government Area of Borno State in the Lake Chad region.
While responding to ceding five local government areas from Borno State, an aide to Governor Babagana Zulum said: “We’ll study the recent unfolding developments on ceding Bama, Gwoza, Dikwa, Kala/Balge and Ngala councils to the UNO State of Cameroon.
“The state government will also be liaising with federal agencies on how to cede the affected local government areas as Obasanjo and Biya had signed documents with the UN to respect their international boundaries.”
According to the UN workshop coordinator and chairman, steering committee, Ateh, the councils to be ceded to UNO State of Cameroon, include Bama, Gwoza, Ngala, Kala/Balge, Dikwa. Others include Madagali, Michika, Mubi North, Mubi South, Mayo/Belwa, Toungo, Ganye, Serti, Hong, Jada, Maiha and Jada councils.
It was learnt that before the announcement of the new state, the UN had kept Northern and Southern Cameroons under watch since Obasanjo and Biya signed the documents under the UN treaty.
Meanwhile, the Secretary-General of UN, Antonio Guterres has commenced the process of sensitization towards the July 10 date of creating the new state for the Anglophone separatists in Cameroon.
According to reports, Guterres has continuously reached out to the UNrepresentative in charge of the territories, Ateh to constantly organize sensitisation workshops on the brief history of the UNO State of Cameroon.
The UN is determined and constantly fingered as an interested party in the arrangement to actualize the new state.
The Nigerian government has been urged to carry out an investigation to establish the facts surrounding the ceding of 24 local government areas to create a new country.
According to Google Map, Nigeria, particularly in the Northeast region with a decade-long Boko Haram insurgency is sandwiched between its territory and Cameroon Republics, with Bakassi Peninsula and Lake Chad located south and northeast of the UNO State of Cameroon.
The new state will have a total landmass of 28, 214 square km with an estimated population of 20 million people. Last year’s 72-hour ultimatum given by the United States (U.S.) to Cameroon to withdraw its troops from la Republique du Cameroons was heeded by President Paul Biya last month.
Before the pullout, neither the U.S nor Cameroon had responded to the expiration date until Treki asked Biya to withdraw his troops.
The Speaker of the Cameroonian National Assembly, Cavage Yeguie Djibrilhad also asked the Cameroonian government to fully implement the new law on decentralization that seeks to grant greater power to local councils and regions.
Consequently, Biya signed the law on the promotion of official language in Cameroon, settlement law of the Republic of Cameroon for2020 financial year, last December.
The bill addresses the creation of assemblies of chiefs, regional assemblies and councils with each of the two territories having elected presidents, vice president, secretaries and public affairs management controllers.
Credit: The Guardian.
BREAKING: Buhari Nominates Okonjo-Iweala For WTO Director-General Position
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the nomination of Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, former coordinating minister for the economy, for the position of director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), TheCable reports.
In a document seen by TheCable on Thursday, Buhari withdrew the candidacy of Yonov Frederick Agah, Nigeria’s permanent representative to WTO, for the same position.
The election is scheduled to hold in Geneva, Switzerland in 2021 for a four-year term that would run from 2021 to 2025.
BREAKING: Music Legend, Majek Fashek Is Dead
Legendary Nigerian singer, songwriter and guitarist, Majekodunmi Fasheke popularly known as Majek Fashek, has died.
According to reports, the “Send Down the Rain” crooner, aged 57 died in a hospital in New York on Monday June 1. Our sources are yet to confirm the cause of his death.
He was born in Benin City to an Edo mother and a Ijesha father, but identifies with his Benin roots.
In the early eighties Fashek, who at the time went by the stage name Rajesh Kanal, joined the group Jastix with McRoy Gregg, and Drummer Black ‘Rice. They were best known as the in-house band on the show Music Panorama on NTA Benin, and toured with fellow reggae group The Mandators.
In 1988, shortly after Jastix disbanded Fashek, who now used the name Majek Fashek, signed with Tabansi Records and began a solo career by releasing the album Prisoner of Conscience and quickly became Nigeria’s top reggae artist after the song “Send Down The Rain” became the most popular song of the year, and in 1989 he won six PMAN awards for “Song of the Year”, “Album of the Year”, and “Reggae Artist of the Year” among others.
Fashek was married to Rita Fashek who inspired the song “Without You”; the couple had four children together, but have since divorced. In 2015, it was revealed that Fashek was bankrupt and battling drug addiction. After admitting that he needed help, he was admitted into a drug rehabilitation centre in Abuja, but has since recovered, and returned to music.
Besides his struggle with drug addiction, other health conditions required his hospitalization on several occasions. He was rumored dead in September 2019 but his manager quelled the rumors, confirming that Majek had indeed been critically ill, hospitalized at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich, England, and in dire need of financial assistance
The ‘rain maker’ as he his fondly called has has worked with various artists worldwide including Tracy Chapman, Jimmy Cliff, Michael Jackson, Snoop Dogg, and Beyoncé.
Majek’s life and work are still prominently celebrated by Nigerian music fans and beyond. His legacy of excellence in music and worldwide impact through instrumentation will live imminently.
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