Kanilai Protester Dies In Hospital Following Shooting Incident
By Lamin E. Fatty
One of the victims of the yesterday’s shooting incident in Kanilai, has been pronounced death at the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital in Banjul. The tension in the birth place of Gambia’s former president Yahya Jammeh remains extremely tense and volatile as one of the victims is confirmed death resulting from gunshot injuries sustained during a spontaneous demonstration by the villagers.
The spokesperson of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) Lieutenant Colonel Omar B. Bojang has confirmed that three out of the six victims who were shot with live bullets are seriously wounded.
The demonstrators were demanding the withdrawal of the members of the Gambia Armed Forces stationed together with the ECOWAS mandated ECOMIG soldiers at the village. Their redeployment to the former president’s village came following a disputed presidential election that showed long term ruler Mr. Jammeh refusing to step down until he was forced into exile in Equatorial Guinea.
amarket.com/ and very soon in Sierra Leone known as Kroo Town Road Market. Talks are already at an advanced stage to launch in Ethiopia, Senegal, Mali and few other countries.’
Farm Fresh – Unveils Ramadan Auction
One of Gambia’s leading provider of fresh vegetables and fruits in The Gambia, accomplished by providing quality vegetables and fruits at affordable prices while exceeding customers’ expectations, has again unveiled its Ramadan packages to its customers.
This exciting innovation and the first of its kind in The Gambia is the first online real-time shopping and delivery website portal established in 2014 by a young Gambian independent IT consultant Momodou NS Njai.
The second Ramadan sales edition which is expected to kick off next week will avail Gambian’s especially does in the diaspora the opportunity to do all their Ramadan shopping online on www.farmfresh.gm and have them delivered to the doorsteps of their families and loved ones at affordable prices as Ramadan gestures.
According to the founder who was speaking to this reporter in an online interview , ‘Shopping on farmfresh.gm allows you to earn loyalty points which you can later redeem and order on farmfresh.gm for free using just your loyalty points (similar to acquiring miles in the airline industry). “You will also automatically get a 5% discount on your next order as soon as you refer a new customer to us via farmfresh.gm. The other benefit is that the process is fast, convenient, hassle free, we do the donkey work for you whilst you focus on other important things,” he explained.
While stressing on some of the challenges he face, Mr. Njai said the most difficult challenge has been to convince local Gambian shoppers to embrace technology to start using the web to place their orders because a vast majority of them are already on Facebook!
This basically,he added that it is to change their mindset, nothing that currently 90% of all orders made by Gambians and in the Diaspora while most of their local orders are made via phone or verbally.
The 2014 Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) nominee of Emerging Business of the Year award is one of the Tony Elumelu Alums Class of 2015, he also emerged as the 2017 audience award at its recently annual award ceremony held in South Africa.
For the Farm Fresh CEO, his aim is to see his company expand in five years time‘we hope to be in at least 15 African countries. This journey has already started as we are already in Ghana branded as Malata Market http://www.malatamarket.com/ and very soon in Sierra Leone known as Kroo Town Road Market. Talks are already at an advanced stage to launch in Ethiopia, Senegal, Mali and few other countries.’
50 Million Project Agreement signed
Office of The President
THE GAMBIA _____________________________________________________________________________
Office of the President
Banjul, The Gambia
PR/C/170/(ABS) 19TH May, 2017
The Gambia and China Sign $50 Million Grant
His Excellency President Adama Barrow witnessed the signing ceremony of a fifty Million Dollar ($50,000) grant for the construction of an International Conference Center in The Gambia. The Project agreement was signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad, Honourable Ousainou Darbo on behalf of the Government of The Gambia. The Chinese Ambassador to The Gambia, His Excellency, Zhang Jiming signed on behalf of his government.
President Barrow thanked the Chinese government for the confidence it has in the New Gambia. He expressed gratitude to Ambassador Zhang Jiming for his personal support demonstrated since he took leadership of the country. The President added that his government also gives priority to energy, farming and health care amongst others. The Gambian leader assured China of his government’s support to the One China policy.
Chinese Ambassador, His Excellency, Zhang Jiming stated the construction of the $50 Million International Conference Centre project will last for two years. Upon completion it will be another monumental symbol of the China-Gambia bilateral relations similar to that of the Independent stadium built in Bakau in the 1980s. He said the International Conference Centre will provide employment and boost tourism.
In response, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad, Honourable Ousainou Darbo applauded the support China continues to provide to The Gambia and cited the scholarship scheme students benefit from the People Republic of China. Mr. Darbo recalled the visit of a high powered Chinese government delegation earlier this year and described the support as a testimony of China’s commitment to The Gambia. Present at the signing ceremony were the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Njogu Sareer Bah and Permanent Secretary Office of the President Ebrima Ceesay and a Chinese delegation.
For: Secretary General
CC: Media Houses
Web Manager – State House Website
European Investors Meet VP FTJ
Norwegians Investors Discuss Areas of Interest with Gambian Officials
The visiting Norwegian investors have been holding series of meetings with government officials as they discuss areas of possible investment. The investors who are on a one-week visit to The Gambia has so far held discussions with the officials of the Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, Ministry of Local Government and Lands, and as well the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Tourism and Culture.
They are expected to hold similar meetings with officials of the Ministries of Agriculture, Fisheries, Information, Works and Transport, and Foreign Affairs; The Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency, The Gambia Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA), and NAWEC.
At a meeting with the investors on Tuesday at the Ministry of Tourism and Culture in Banjul, Mrs Yam Bamba Njie-Keita, Permanent Secretary at the said Ministry said, all the investors’ ideas are welcome. The areas of interest by the investors, she said, are in line with what the tourism sector is all about.
“At this point within the tourism sector, we are trying to enhance an all-year round tourists and everything that has been mentioned here. There is no doubt that whatever is expressed here is highly welcome as it is in line with the vision of the Tourism Ministry,” she remarked.
The tourism Ministry PS told the delegation that whatever emanates from their discussion with the Gambia Tourism Board as scheduled today Wednesday, would be brought back to the ministry for its input. She thanked the investors for their interest in The Gambia and also commended those Gambians in Norway who facilitated the trip of the investors to the country.
During an interview with Mamos TV on their arrival on Saturday, the investors expressed their readiness and willingness to invest in the socio-economic advancement of the country.
North Korea maintains extensive surveillance operations over its own population, and open dissent against the regime is considered extremely difficult
N. Korea accuses CIA of plot to assassinate Kim Jong-Un
Seoul (AFP) - North Korea on Friday accused the CIA of plotting with South Korea to assassinate leader Kim Jong-Un, amid soaring tensions in the flashpoint region.
The CIA and Seoul's Intelligence Services have "hatched a vicious plot" involving unspecified "biochemical substances" to kill the hermit state's young leader during public ceremonial events in Pyongyang, the Ministry of State Security said.
For the CIA "assassination by use of biochemical substances including radioactive substance and nano poisonous substance is the best method that does not require access to the target, their lethal results will appear after six or twelve months," the Ministry said in a statement carried by state media.
The accusation comes as Pyongyang issues increasingly belligerent rhetoric in a tense stand off with the administration of US President Donald Trump over its rogue weapons programme.
The war of words between the West and the reclusive regime has spiked in recent weeks, and Pyongyang has threatened to carry out a sixth nuclear test that would further inflame tensions.
The CIA and Seoul's Intelligence Services (IS) have "ideologically corrupted and bribed a DPRK citizen surnamed Kim" to carry out the attack on Jong-Un, the statement said.
"We will ferret out and mercilessly destroy to the last one the terrorists of the US CIA and the puppet IS of South Korea," the statement said, adding that the plot was tantamount to "the declaration of a war".
"The heinous crime, which was recently uncovered and smashed in the DPRK, is a kind of terrorism against not only the DPRK but the justice and conscience of humankind and an act of mangling the future of humankind."
The statement did not give any information on how the plot was foiled or what happened to the alleged spy.
North Korea maintains extensive surveillance operations over its own population, and open dissent against the regime is considered extremely difficult
Information Minister: “No Blank Amnesty for Those Responsible For Killing Our Colleagues”
The Minister of Information, Communication and Infrastructure, Demba Ali Jawo has stated that there would be no blank amnesty for those that bear greater responsibility for some of the atrocities committed against the people in The Gambia, especially journalists.
“Reconciliation certainly is a priority of the government, but I can assure you it will not happen at the expense of justice for our colleagues, who were victims of the former regime; which include the late Deyda Hydara, Chief Ebrima Manneh and Omar Barrow and all other journalists who were subjected to torture in the hands of the security agents of the former regime,” he remarked.
The government, he said, is in the process of setting up a Truth and Reconciliation Committee. The Information Minister D.A Jawo made these remarks on Tuesday at a symposium held at the University of The Gambia’s Faculty of Law conference hall in Kanifing, as part of activities marking the World Press Freedom Day in The Gambia.
Minister Jawo said that Gambian journalists can presently boast of having 20 commercial and community radio stations, one national television, among other media outlets in the country. He revealed that since the change of government took place early this year, there has been applications for various types of media companies which include private televisions by many Gambians. “I can assure you that the Public Utilities and Regulatory Authority (PURA) has already started evaluating applications and it is just matter of time before private television becomes a reality in this country,” he assured.
He said another area that his ministry intends to pursue is media laws reforms. “Some of our laws are not media-friendly and therefore our intention is to reform them and bring them in line with best practices in other parts of the world,” Jawo explained.
For his part, the Ambassador of European Union in The Gambia, H.E. Attila Lajos, spoke at length on the significance of the forum, thus calling for professionalism among media practitioners. He said a free press is essential to democracy, adding that media play a critical role in ensuring accountability. Representing the UNESCO, Mr. Laszek J. Bialy also talked about the significance of press freedom.
World Press Freedom Day Commemorated
Abdou Karim Sey Re-Elected As WCRFA President
Abdou Karim Sey has been re-elected as the President of the West Coast Region Football Association (WCRFA) to administer and promote football in the region for another 4 years. His re-election took place at a football congress held on Sunday at the Governor’s Office in Brikama. Mr. Sey, a seasoned football administrator contested against Lamin Jarju, a barrister for the football top seat, but the delegates massively complimented his work in the development of football for the region in the last 4 years and he had a landslide victory of 20 votes whilst his opponent pulled 9 votes. Bakary Bojang was elected 1st vice president, whilst Karamo Colley and Pa Modou Faal were elected 2nd and third vice presidents respectively.
Speaking after his re-election, Mr. Sey urged all delegates to put aside football politics and join them in their quest to gain more success in the region."This is West Coast, so let's work together. Football politics will never divide us,” he remarked.
Lamin Jarju, the loser, said that he was surprised with the margin after being optimistic prior to the day. "I am surprised with the margin because before today, we made an opinion pool where I emerged as the winner," reacted.
The Third Vice President of the GFF, Marthin Gomez thanked the delegates for their good decorum throughout the process and noted that the congress would for long be his reference point. The newly appointed Governor of West Coast Region, Ebrima Mballow urged the executive to do well in the grassroots football. He assured them of his office’s full support in their quest to harness the potential of the youths through football.
Gambia Celebrates International Girls in ICT Day
OUSAINOU DARBOE ISSUES STATEMENT
The UDP Secretary General Ousainoue Darboe yesterday issued a statement that UDP vows “to represent the
interests of all citizens and residents” in constituencies represented by the UDP.
“We indeed elected the candidates under party tickets, but we expect them to represent all of us as a nation irrespective of party affiliation,” he emphasised.
The UDP Secretary General said further: “We pledge and commit to work for the national interest-first, foremost and forever. We vow to represent the interests of all citizens and residents in our constituents, including those who voted for other parties and those who did not support any party. We look forward to working closely with coalition partners and others to support President Adama Barrow’s reform and development programmes.”
He reiterated this point thus: “We are a nation of one family, united by blood ties and love of our people. Whatever village or town you live in; whatever work you do; whichever language you speak; whichever party you belong to; you are first and foremost, the daughter or son of the land, this beloved land of The Gambia, this home and abode of ours. Never forget that national interest surpasses any other affiliations you may have.”
He went on to say: “We pray that with this election, Gambia shall become a beacon of democratic enlightenment. I predict that great parliamentarians will emerge from this batch of National Assembly Members. I expect them to scrutinize the executive with vigilance and competency, tempered by positivism and a mission for cooperation and united action.”
Mr Darboe, who is also Minister of Foreign Affairs expressed regret at the few female members of the National Assembly. “I greatly regret the fact that we have such a small number of female NAMs. I take this as an urgent challenge for UDP and other parties. It is now our duty to start internal reforms aimed at achieving gender parity at the next parliamentary elections. Our first test will be the municipal elections. A nation that marginalizes its women sabotages its development,” he remarked.
He also embraced peace in his statement: “Whatever the occasion, whatever the circumstances, for us Gambians, it is always, Peace Forever.
“Democratic election is about fair competition amongst people and parties. Sometimes, there are tensions; sometimes there is anger; yet always, there is love of our country and our people. This is why we are a united and harmonious nation. It is only three months, since we liberated our country from dictatorship through peaceful means. Again, the whole world stands in admiration in the way we have conducted the NAM campaign, in peace and good humour. This is our blessing as a country. This is the new Gambia. Let us not allow anything to undermine this noble heritage. Law and order, justice for all, democracy, development with dignity-we strive and work for these virtues and shall never take them for granted.”
His message to the national assembly members: “For candidates who are elected, you will serve all the people, without favour or ill will. Your duty and pride depends on how well you serve the national interest. In the new Gambia, there shall be respect and tolerance. It is a sign of democratic maturity that we can have political differences, yet we still work together closely and respectfully, in the national interest. We have a lot of work to do to rebuild our country, after 22 years of dictatorship.”
Ousainou Darboe, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Secretary General of the UDP
Norwegian Investors Meet President Barrow
A group of Norwegian, accompanied by Neneh Bojang of MAMOS TV and Ndey Jobarteh, were today received at the State House in Banjul by President Adama Barrow.
The investors who arrived in the country since on Sunday, had series of meetings with various ministries and parastatals during which they discussed issues regarding investment and their intention to invest in various sectors in the interest of partnership and development.
Mamos TV was covered the meeting with President Barrow.
At the end of the closed door meeting, investors who spoke to MAMOS TV expressed delight at meeting the president of the Republic. They also expressed optimism that they will make a fruitful investment as planned.
“GPU has taken ownership of World Press Freedom Day “
The Secretary General of the Gambia Press Union (GPU) Saikou Jammeh has said that the Gambia Press Union has taken ownership of World Press Freedom Day because of the contribution that the founding fathers of the GPU played in the processes to the declaration of May 3rd as World Press Freedom Day by United Nations. He made this statement at a press conference held at the union’s secretariat in Fajara today. He said; “World Press Freedom day is a day for every journalist and everyone who values this universal value what we call freedom. We at the Gambia Press Union are very proud to be associated with this day, we commemorate it because it’s the day in which we reflect and also remember those colleagues who had been with us and one way or the other couldn’t longer be with us.”
According to him, World Press Freedom day is a day for journalists to take stands to condemn those acts that seek to suppress their freedom. He added it is also a day for journalists to look at the opportunities they have and to chart a way forward for this profession and look inwards and see things that need to be corrected. “We will also mobilize or to create a way around the promotion of press freedom,” he assured.
Jammeh stated that celebration of the World Press Freedom Day will start in the form of a March Pass and the assembling point is Traffic Light Junction at the Kairaba Avenue in the Kanifing Municipality. He said that they will march along the street of Kairaba Avenue to the offices of Ministry of Information, Communication and Infrastructure where will present a paper to the minister of Information. “GPU has already developed position paper and it entails the reforms that we want to collaborate with the government to conduct in the new Gambia,” he revealed.
After the match pass, he went on, there will be a public forum at Faculty of Law at the University of The Gambia and they will have speakers such as, Gibairu Janneh former SG of GPU and Nana-Grey Johnson Acing Dean of School of Journalism. The theme for the event is: “Critical Times, Critical Minds.” The theme, he said, looks into the roles that the journalists play in promoting a peaceful society that is very inclusive. He observed that in the Gambia, this theme cannot be more timely and relevant given the fact that there has been a change of government.
8 Drown at Basse River
Tragedy occurred in the Upper River Region (URR) when a boat capsized Monday morning at the Tambajang - Diabugu crossing-point , in Sandu District, URR , which led to the death of 8 young people.
Most of the victims; Muhammed Baldeh, Gibbeh Baldeh, Gibbel Manneh, Dawda Barry and Salifu Kandeh, are all natives of Sarre Jaijeh village whilst Muhammed I. Ceesay is a native of Bakadagi, Hassan Sanneh, a native of Julangel and Sarjo Sama of Numou Kunda village all drowned in the river.
The incident happened at a time when the surrounding villages agreed to embark on fishing activities at the river.
According to the police spokes person, PRO Conta, there was a quick response by the Gambia Navy personnel, the Gambia Fire and Rescue Services and the Medical and Health Services that dispatched a team to the scene.
German riot police deployed for AfD Cologne conference
An American citizen has been detained in North Korea as he tried to leave the country, South Korean media say.
The man was identified only by his surname, Kim.
He becomes the third American to be detained by the North; one has been sentenced for spying, the other for trying to steal a sign from a hotel.
The latest detention comes amid high tension on the peninsula, with the US warning its "strategic patience" on the North's nuclear programme is over.
A US naval battle group headed by an aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, and described by President Donald Trump as an "armada", is expected to reach the Korean peninsula later in the week.
The South Korean news agency Yonhap said the detained American citizen, in his 50s, was a former professor from Yanbian University in China and had been in North Korea for a month in connection with relief programmes.
He was arrested at Pyongyang International Airport, Yonhap said.
In January last year, US student Otto Warmbier, 21, was arrested for trying to steal a propaganda sign from a hotel while visiting North Korea.
He was given 15 years' hard labour for crimes against the state in March 2016.
In April last year, Kim Dong-chul, a 62-year-old naturalised US citizen born in South Korea, was sentenced to 10 years' hard labour for spying. He had been arrested the previous October.
From the Office of The President
The late Solo Sandeng honoured
April 14, 2017, marks the first anniversary since the arrest and subsequent death in state custody of the late Ebrima Solo Sandeng, former UDP Youth Mobiliser, who together with his party members organized a protest march, demanding for Electoral Reforms during the former regime of ex-president Yahya Jammeh.
The party leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP), who is also Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lawyer Ousainou Darboe, joined hundreds of political activists, party supporters and family of the late Ebrima Solo Sandeng in a peaceful march past at the Westfield ground, to honor and remember this great national hero (Solo Sandeng).
The late Sandeng, former UDP Youth Mobiliser, together with many other UDP members including the newly elected National Assembly Member for Serrekunda East Constituency Hon. Fatoumata Jawara, Nogoi Njie, and many others were arrested on April 14, 2016 at Westfield, for organizing a protest march demanding Electoral Reforms in The Gambia, without obtaining permission.
Solo and his party members were arrested, detained and seriously tortured at the country’s then National Intelligence Agency (NIA), now renamed State Intelligence Services (SIS). The late Solo Sandeng could not survive the beatings inflicted on him and he eventually died in State custody.
Senegal: 22 die in ‘Daaka’ fire outbreak
At least 22 people were burnt to ashes in a serious fire outbreak in Madina Gounass in the Tambacounda Region, Senegal. The fire outbreak occurred on Wednesday during the annual Muslim gathering locally called ‘Daaka’. The victims were part of thousands of Muslims who are currently in the Senegalese provincial town to attend the annual Muslim gathering, ‘Daaka’.
However, the cause of the fire incident is not yet established.
The president of the Republic of Senegal, Macky Sall has on behalf of the Senegalese population, sent his condolence to the Omariene Family through the Tidianiyya Cheikh of Madina Gounass, Kalipha General Cheikh Ahmad Tidiane Ba. He also announced that he will be visiting Madina Gounass with a high powered of delegation of his government on tomorrow Friday, 14 April, 2017.
Meanwhile, the Senegalese Interior minister, Abdoulaye Daouda Diallo is in Madina Gounass with members of the security under his purview since the incident happened on Wednesday.
Mariam Denton is new Speaker of the National Assembly
Legal practitioner Mariam Jack-Denton has been elected by Members of Parliament as new Speaker of the National Assembly, following her nomination alongside four others into country’s House of Parliament. Her election was done at the country’s Assembly in Banjul on Tuesday before the newly elected National Assembly Members.
The National Assembly is now comprised of 53 elected Members and 5 other nominated Members, from whom the Assembly will elect a Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
His Excellency the President, Adama Barrow has nominated Ms Mariam Jack Denton, Majanko Samusa, Ndey Yassin Secka-Sallah, Kumba Jaiteh and Momodou Sanneh as National Assembly Members. President Barrow’s nomination is a requirement by Law and Speaker Denton’s election also came following her nomination into Assembly by the President.
Meanwhile, Momodou Sanneh, a UDP executive member cum stalwart, who is also a former Minority Leader of the National Assembly, has been elected as Deputy Speaker. Sanneh was among the UDP executive members who were jailed by former president Yahya Jammeh for organizing a peaceful march past (demonstration) demanding for the release of their UDP members who were protesting for Electoral Reforms last April (2016). Their peaceful protest march was engineered by the death in custody of the UDP Youth Leader, Ebrima Solo Sandeng.
It would be recalled that the newly elected Speaker Mariam Jack-Denton was among those who were arrested and detained in 2006 by the former president, Dictator Yahya Jammeh, in connecti
on with the March 21st, 2006 failed coup led by the late Colonel Ndure Cham, former Chief of Defence Staff of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF).
Mrs Denton follows her father’s footsteps, Sir Alieu Sulayman Jack, who was the first Gambian-born Speaker of the then Legislative Council/Parliament of The Gambia from 1962 to 1972.
The spokesperson of the Gambia army, Lieutenant Colonel Omar Bojang, has confirmed to The Torch that 3 Gambian soldiers were shot but their injuries are not life-threatening.
Three Gambian soldiers have been shot and are currently being treated at Bwiam hospital following a confrontation with regional forces which erupted as they reportedly attempted to deny them entrance at former president Yahya Jammeh’s Kanilai residence.
“It happened but the matter is under investigation… 3 of the soldiers have been shot on the leg but they have not been life-threatening,” the army spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Omar Bojang confirmed to The Torch.
“An independent inquiry will be set-up from both sides—from the side of the ECOMIG and Gambia Arm Forces— to investigate the incident.”
The ARMY spokesperson said investigation is being done to establish the cause of the confrontation.
A source from the Interior Ministry who pleaded anonymity informs The Torch that the regional forces, ECOMIG, claim they had gone to Jammeh’s residence in search of some military hardware but they were denied entrance in the compound.
“It started as a breakdown of communication. The ECOMIG soldiers were at Kanilai to search for some weapons but it was claimed that the Gambian soldiers did not allow them entrance. They said they don’t have orders from their superiors to let anyone in the compound,” our source said.
“Then ECOMIG soldiers responded by firing warning shots in the air, to which Gambian soldiers responded with similar warning shots. And then there was a confrontation and two soldiers were shot on the leg.”
Our source said the confrontation is being investigated and the interior ministry will likely hold a briefing to discuss the issue with the public.
Kanilai is the residence of Gambia’s former dictator Jammeh but the place has been used as a military encampment for the past 22 years.
ECOMIG that is jointly reforming the Gambian army with the help of the UN and the ECOWAS has expressed intent to take all military facilities from that place and leave it as a private residence.
Culled from the Torch, Mustapha K. Darboe
German riot police deployed for AfD Cologne conference
Thousands of police officers are being deployed in Cologne, Germany, in case of violence at left-wing protests against an Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) party conference there.
The AfD, a populist right-wing and anti-Islam party, will seek to choose a new co-leader to take it up to a general election later this year.
Demonstrators on Saturday carried banners saying "Block the Nazis".
Police expect 50,000 protesters and have deployed 4,000 officers.
They have described the mood as "tense".
Police chief Juergen Mathias said information indicated that there would be "several thousand left-wing extremists" and "several hundred violent people" among the protesters.
Thousands of armed police officers are holding protesters back from the entrance to the hotel where the conference is taking place.
One officer was injured in the face while escorting party members. A man has been arrested.
EU Observer Mission Certifies GPF
The European Union (EU) Election Observation Mission to The Gambia has commended officers of the Gambia Police Force (GPF) for their outstanding and supportive role and performance of duties during the recently concluded Parliamentary Election.
In this regard, members of the EU Observer Mission presented certificates of appreciation to some outstanding officers of the police force selected from all the regions of the country.
Speaking at the presentation ceremony, Manuel Amarilla, the security expert of the European Union’s Election Observation Mission, expressed gratitude to police for the time they have been engaged in working with them (EU mission) in the Parliamentary Election coverage.
According to him, covering elections is a critical mission for the police generally but The Gambia Police Force has been a good example and has shown commitment to their work under the circumstance that the country is crossing through. He added they have to express gratitude to the police in a symbolic way.
He further showed appreciation at the contribution of the police to the success of their mission in the country, adding that this activity is just the beginning of a fruitful relation in the future.
The deputy Inspector General of Police Momodou Sowe, also spoke on behalf of the IGP at the ceremony. He thanked the EU Observer Mission for the recognition. He added that the Gambia Police Force is an institution tasked to see the continuation of society in peace and stability. He said the police may not be perfect but they are very good in what they do and that is because they have dedicated men and women whose sole objective is to make sure that they take their task and mandate to the fullest and make sure they guard it jealously.
“We are not in a position to satisfy everyone but again there is no security approved apparatus in the world that is 100% effective but the one that enjoys the love and respect of its populace is the most effective,” he remarked.
He described the gesture as one that would serve as a moral boost and will add value to the work they do.
Commissioner of Police Marry Ndure, in return, also presented a gift to Mr Amarila as a show of appreciation for their gesture.
David Dao dragged off United flight files court papers
Lawyers for a passenger forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight have filed an emergency court request for the airline to preserve evidence.
David Dao was filmed being dragged off the overbooked flight at Chicago O'Hare airport, bloodied and screaming, in a video watched millions of times online.
United Airlines said it would refund the ticket costs of all passengers on Sunday's flight.
The airline's chief executive, Oscar Munoz, is insisting he will not resign.
As of Tuesday, Mr Dao was still recovering in a Chicago hospital, his lawyer said, but a family member is expected to give a news conference on Thursday.
In surprise move, Iran’s Ahmadinejad to run for president
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday stunned the country by unexpectedly filing to run in the May presidential election, contradicting a recommendation from the supreme leader to stay out of the race.
Ahmadinejad's decision could upend an election many believed would be won by moderate President Hassan Rouhani, who negotiated the nuclear deal with world powers. Though Rouhani has yet to formally register, many viewed him as a shoe-in following Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's recommendation in September for Ahmadinejad to stand down and conservatives' inability to coalesce around a single candidate.
Ahmadinejad's firebrand style could prove appealing for hard-liners seeking a tough-talking candidate who can stand up to U.S. President Donald Trump. His candidacy also could expose the fissures inside Iranian politics that linger since his contested 2009 re-election, which brought massive unrest.
US navy strike group heads toward Korean peninsula
Washington (AFP) - The US Navy said on Saturday it had sent a carrier-led strike group to the Korean peninsula in a show of force against North Korea's "reckless" nuclear weapons program.
The move will raise tensions in the region and comes hard on the heels of a US missile strike on Syria that was widely interpreted as putting Pyongyang on warning over its refusal to abandon its nuclear ambitions.
North Korea denounced Thursday's strike as an act of "intolerable aggression" and one that justified "a million times over" the North's push toward a credible nuclear deterrent.
"US Pacific Command ordered the Carl Vinson Strike Group north as a prudent measure to maintain readiness and presence in the Western Pacific," said Commander Dave Benham, spokesman at US Pacific Command.
"The number one threat in the region continues to be North Korea, due to its reckless, irresponsible and destabilizing program of missile tests and pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability," he told AFP, in an unusually forceful statement.
Originally scheduled to make port calls in Australia, the strike group -- which includes the Nimitz-class aircraft supercarrier USS Carl Vinson -- is now headed from Singapore to the Western Pacific Ocean.
Pyongyang is on a quest to develop a long-range missile capable of hitting the US mainland with a nuclear warhead, and has so far staged five nuclear tests, two of them last year.
Expert satellite imagery analysis suggests it could well be preparing for a sixth, with US intelligence officials warning that Pyongyang could be less than two years away from developing a nuclear warhead that could reach the continental United States.
North Korea on Wednesday fired a medium-range ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan ahead of a US-China summit.
In February the North simultaneously fired four ballistic missiles off its east coast, three of which fell provocatively close to Japan, in what it said was a drill for an attack on US bases in the neighbouring Asian country.
Last August Pyongyang also successfully test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile 500 kilometres (300 miles) towards Japan, far exceeding any previous sub-launched tests, in what the North's leader Kim Jong-Un hailed as the "greatest success."
A nuclear-capable SLBM system would take the North's threat to a new level, allowing deployment far beyond the Korean peninsula and a "second-strike" capability in the event of an attack on its army bases.
- US unilateral action? -
On Thursday and Friday, US President Donald Trump hosted his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping for talks during which he pressed Pyongyang's key ally to help curb the North's nuclear weapons program.
Trump has threatened unilateral action against the hermit state, a threat that appears more palpable after Thursday's strike on a Syrian airfield following an apparent chemical attack.
The head of North American Aerospace Defense Command, which provides missile detection for the region, said Thursday she was "extremely confident" of US capability to intercept a potential intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) bound for America from the North.
But General Lori Robinson expressed concerns for the type of ballistic missile powered by a solid-fuel engine that Pyongyang said it successfully tested in February.
"Amidst an unprecedented pace of North Korean strategic weapons testing, our ability to provide actionable warning continues to diminish," Robinson said in written testimony to senators.
And while a US unilateral strike on North Korea from a shorter range might be more militarily effective, it likely would endanger many civilians in South Korea, experts warn.
The isolated North is barred under UN resolutions from any use of ballistic missile technology.
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Youths demand justice for April 10-11 victims
The National Youth Council in collaboration with youth organizations, civil society groups, human rights defenders, and students from various communities and organizations in The Gambia, today gathered at the Westfield ground in the Kanifing Municipality to commemorate the 17th anniversary since the massacre of 14 students in The Gambia, by security forces of former president Yahya Jammeh.
The celebration took form of a march past from GTTI in Kanifing up to Westfield where the deadly demonstration began in April 2000. Youths from all over the country, spearheaded by the National Youth Council gathered at the famous Westfield ground to not only remember the victims of this student massacre but also demand justice for the victims and their families from the newly elected democratic government of President Adama Barrow.
Addressing the youths at the gathering, Aboubacarr Tambedou, the minister of Justice, said his ministry in collaboration with his sister ministries will investigate to find out who gave order to the armed forces to open fire on the students in April 2000. He assured that the newly elected democratic government of President Barrow will make sure that the perpetrators of this heinous crime are brought to justice. He implored the youths to continue to participate in national development and explore their potentials for a better Gambia.
Youths and civil society organizations and human rights defenders are all advocating for justice to be served by bringing to book, former president Dictator Yahya Jammeh and his government to pay for the price of atrocities they have committed against innocent Gambians.
It would be recalled that in April 2001, the first anniversary of the April 10-11 victims was commemorated in the form of a symposium and a march past from Westfield to GTTI. Halifa Sallah of PDOIS, was a key speaker in that event, whilst Besenty Gomez, former vice president of the then Gambia Students’ Union (GAMSU) led the commemoration in the absence of Omar Joof , former GAMSU leader who was in exile at the time.
The Gambia: Reviving the tourism industry
The 49-year-old father-of-three longs for the old days, when he could make $300 a week selling his sculptures as souvenirs. But these are lean times and now he's lucky if he takes home $20 a week.
"It is very slow," he says as he adds the delicate finishing touches to a traditional drum made of wood and cattle hide. "I don't remember, ever, it being like this."
"Things were nice before the election," he continues, referring to the vote in December when the country's opposition candidate beat the incumbent, Yahya Jammeh, who had been in power since leading a military coup in 1994. Jammeh responded by rejecting the result, although his attempts to hold on to power were thwarted by the regional bloc ECOWAS.
"A day, I used to sell more than 10 sculptures," Sidibe explains. "[But] I haven't sold anything the last five days. At most I sell one sculpture a week now. It is very stressful and hard."
Too low for the high season
February and March are typically the high season for tourism in this tiny sun-soaked West African country, as European tourists flee the cold winters of the northern hemisphere. But that changed when the elections were scheduled for December.
The country witnessed a hard fought campaign as, in an effort to unseat Jammeh, the opposition formed a coalition behindAdama Barrow. Western embassies in the capital Banjul started issuing statements advising their citizens who wished to visit the country to exercise caution.
After the electoral commission declared Barrow the winner, Jammeh refused to step down. Those embassies then warned their citizens to stay away.
As the political deadlock dragged on and ECOWAS threatened to send in troops, the embassies evacuated their people.
"A total of 30 flights [a week] from Europe used to land at Banjul bringing in foreign tourists," explains Adama Njie, the director of marketing at The Gambia's tourism board. He is trying to find ways to bring those flights - and their passengers - back.
"After the political impasses, all the flights stopped," says Njie, raising his index finger to emphasise the point. "Hotel occupancy went from 98 percent to zero. Absolute zero. That was beyond shocking to everyone."
BBC Focus on Africa hosted in Gambia
The famous BBC Focus on Africa live programme was on Tuesday, April 19th, hosted at the Independence Stadium in Bakau, The Gambia. The maiden edition to be hosted in The Gambia, was jointly moderated by the BBC African veteran journalists Hassan Arouni and Umaru Fofana.
The historic event, coincided with the first 100 days in office of Gambia’s third president His Excellency Adama Barrow, who was elected in a democratic way on December 1st, 2016, thereby defeating the 22-year old dictator and former president Yahya Jammeh.
With the new found democracy under President Adama Barrow’s government, Gambians are faring well in a democratic state where everyone is free to voice out his or her concerns without fear. The BBC Focus on Africa live programme held in the open at the Independence Stadium is a testimony to the democracy and pace and stability that Gambians have now find themselves into.
In December last year, BBC’s Umaru Fofana visited The Gambia during elections and covered all the election activities. 100 days later, he went back to host a live BBC Africa programme in a conducive environment and featured Gambia’s route to transition and its democratic change of government through the ballot box.
The BBC reporters also looked at how Gambians are faring in their new found freedom.
Among the events marking the first BBC Focus on Africa live programme in Gambia, was the conduct of interviews with the Gambia’s Justice Minister, Aboubacarr Tambedou, Kora maestro, Jaliba Kuyateh, Pa Bobo Jobarteh, etc. They all talked about the new Gambia and its democracy, whilst calling on people to unite and work together for the future development of the country, etc.
Uganda ends hunt for LRA leader Joseph Kony
Ugandan troops have pulled out of the hunt for rebel leader Joseph Kony in the Central African Republic (CAR), the army has said.
He and his Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) group had become "weak", and no longer threatened Uganda, it added.
The LRA was notorious for chopping off people's limbs and abducting children to use as soldiers and sex slaves.
Mr Kony, wanted on war crimes charges, first emerged in Uganda but fled more than a decade ago.
He and his fighters roamed the jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo, before moving to CAR.
The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him in 2005, accusing him of war crimes.
Kony2012, a video made by US-based activists calling for the world to capture Kony, went viral in 2012.
The Ugandan army, backed by US special forces and African Union (AU) troops, have been searching for him in CAR since 2012.
The US withdrew its forces last month.
Several of the LRA's top commanders have surrendered, including Dominic Ongwen who is on trial at the ICC on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In a statement, Uganda's army said it had "successfully achieved" its mission to "neutralise" the LRA and its troops would withdraw from CAR.
"Joseph Kony with less than 100 armed fighters is now weak and ineffective. He no longer poses any significant threat to Uganda's security and northern Uganda in particular," it added.
The LRA was formed in Uganda more than two decades ago, and claimed to be fighting to install a government based on the Biblical 10 Commandments.
It operated mostly in the north, where hundreds of thousands of people were displaced by the conflict.
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Former Nigeria oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke charged with money laundering
A former Nigeria oil minister and three election officials have been charged with money-laundering. Ex-minister Diezani Alison-Madueke was accused of bribing the officials before the 2015 presidential election that saw President Muhammadu Buhari emerging as winner.
The bribes amounted to almost N265m ( £694,493; $866,865), according to the Premium Times newspaper.
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The three officials appeared at the Federal High Court in Lagos on 5 April. One pleased guilty and the other two not guilty.
Madueke was not in court and a charge sheet described her as being "still at large."
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Madueke served under President Goodluck Jonathan, who lost to Buhari in 2015. She was arrested in London in 2015 on suspicion of bribery and money laundering, charges she has always denied.
More on Alison-Madueke and corruption in Nigeria
Alison-Madueke, who became the first female president of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) in 2014, was arrested days after Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari appointed himself as the country's oil minister, after he vowed he would recover millions of dollars worth of funds he alleged were stolen during previous administrations.
The leader also alleged some 250,000 barrels of Nigerian crude oil are stolen every day and sold to other countries at higher prices. In order to stop illicit activities in the oil industry, Buhari replaced the whole board of the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and temporarily banned some 113 vessels from taking crude oil from Nigerian ports.
While Alison-Madueke was in office, former governor of Nigeria Central Bank Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was suspended after he claimed $20bn (£12bn) of oil revenue "went missing" from state oil company Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
According to the Premium Times, Alison-Madueke – who has been dubbed "one of the most powerful officials of President Goodluck Jonathan" – admitted to spending $3.5bn (£2.3bn) of Nigeria's money without budgetary approval in February 2014.
During her time in the role, she supported the unpopular attempt by Jonathan in 2012 to end fuel subsidies, arguing it posed a financial burden on the government's finances. The government backtracked on its decision following rallies that caused at least 16 deaths.
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April 10-11 is an unfortunate chapter in Gambia’s history, says Justice Minister
UEMOA Summit kicks-off in Abidjan today
UEMOA Summit kicks-off in Abidjan today
Abidjan, the capital of Ivory Coast will today, Monday, April 10th, host the special summit of the Assembly of Heads of State and Governments of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMAO).
The Summit will examine the evolution of the integration process and the economic situation within and outside the Union during 2016. It will also examine the proposals on the rationalization of WAEMU bodies, the functioning of the Union, in particular the renewal of the terms of office of the members of the Commission.
The Summit will also be an opportunity for the Head of State to present the progress made in the operationalization of the General Delegation for Peace and Security created within the framework of the WAEMU Peace and Security Chapter.
Meanwhile, Senegalese President Macky Sall will leave Dakar for Abidjan early Mondayto attend the summit, according to a statement from the Presidency. He will return to Dakar same day immediately after the end of the Summit.
Culled from Eye Africa Online Tv.
President Trump says Syria attack ‘crossed many, many lines
President Donald Trump said that the attack in Syria on Tuesday "crossed a lot of lines for me," but he did not specify how he would respond to it.
His comments came during a press conference with Jordan's King Abdullah II that began with Trump's condemning the "heinous actions," which left at least 72 people dead.
Trump was asked if the attack crossed a red line for him, a reference to then-President Barack Obama's 2012 threat that the use of chemical weapons in Syria would be seen as doing so.
"It crossed a lot of lines for me. When you kill innocent children, innocent babies, little babies, with a chemical gas that is so lethal — people were shocked to hear what gas it was — that crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line, many, many lines," he said.
Later, when a reporter noted he seemed reluctant to get involved in the matter, Trump said, "I watched past administrations say we will attack at such and such a day at such and such an hour ... I'm not saying I'm doing anything one way or the other."
He released a statement on Tuesday saying the attack was "a consequence of the past administration's weakness and irresolution."
Today he said, "I think the Obama administration had a responsibility to solve the crisis a long time ago. And when he didn't cross that line in making the threat, I think that set us back a long ways, not only in Syria but in many other parts of the world, because it was a blank threat. I think it was something that was not one of our better days as a country."
Trump added, "I now have responsibility, and I will have that responsibility and carry it very proudly."
Death toll in Syrian chemical attack rises to 72
He said that he is open to changing his stance on issues and that the attack in Syria was an example of how current events have prompted a shift.
"I like to think of myself as a very flexible person. I don't have to have one specific way, and if the world changes, I go the same way," Trump said. "It's already happened, that my attitude towards Syria and [President Bashar al-]Assad has changed very much."
Later in his remarks, Trump praised Jordan's efforts in the fight against ISIS.
"The Middle East and the entire world is faced with one of its gravest threats in many, many years. Since the earliest days of the campaign against ISIS, Jordan has been a staunch ally and partner, and we thank you for that," he said.
"In King Abdullah, America is blessed with a thoughtful and determined partner. He's a man who has spent years commanding his country's special forces. He really knows what is being a soldier is — that I can tell you. And he knows how to fight," Trump said.
Stockholm attack: ‘Suspect device’ in Sweden crash lorry
Swedish police have confirmed they discovered a suspect device inside the lorry which was driven into a Stockholm department store on Friday.
The "technical device" was found in the driver's seat of the vehicle, National Police Commissioner Dan Eliasson said.
At this stage, he said it was impossible to know what it was - only that "it should not be there".
Mr Eliasson also said the suspect in custody was from Uzbekistan, 39, and known to security services.
However, he had only been seen as a "marginal character", the commissioner added.
The man remains their principal suspect in the attack, which saw a hijacked lorry driven into the front of Ahlens department store on Drottninggatan (Queen Street), one of the city's main pedestrian thoroughfares.
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At least three people were killed Friday after a truck plowed into a crowded street in Stockholm
At least two people were killed Friday after a truck plowed into a crowded street in Stockholm, according to Swedish authorities.
Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven initially said one person had been arrested in what he described as "a terror attack."
"The government is doing everything in its power to find out what has happened," Lofven said in a televised statement. "We are advising the public to be careful and to listen to police broadcasts. According to security police, there are at least two dead in this awful terrorist attack. We are thinking of the victims and their families and the injured."
Stockholm police later said that no arrests have been made yet.
Police said they had received reports of a truck driving over people on Drottninggatan Street near the upscale department store Åhlens in central Stockholm. Several people died and others were wounded in the incident, police said.
Police said terrorism can't be ruled out given similar incidents that have happened elsewhere in Europe in recent months.
A spokesperson for Spendrups brewery in Sweden confirmed to ABC News that the truck used in the alleged attack was stolen from them.
“We can confirm that the truck was stolen during an unload of products,” Rose-Marie Hertzman, the press officer at Spendstrups, told ABC News. “The driver was just finishing the unload and a man came running up and hijacked the car and drove away."
Hertzman added, “Our driver is not hurt and we are of course extremely sad to hear about the injuries and the two people confirmed dead.”
The Spendrups truck was distributing soft drinks, beer and water to restaurants and shops, according to Hertzman.
Swedish intelligence officials are working to identify the person or people behind the attack.
Police said Stockholm's Central Station is closed and are urging people to avoid the area around Sergels torg square.
ABC News' Benjamin Gittleson and Lena Masri contributed to this report. The Associated Press also contributed to this report.
This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates
Colombia landslides: More than 100 die as Putumayo suffers heavy rain
Landslides have killed at least 154 people in south-west Colombia and left many more injured, says President Juan Manuel Santos.
Hours of heavy rains overnight caused rivers to burst their banks, flooding homes with mud in Putumayo province.
An unknown number of people are missing. One army officer said the main local hospital was struggling to cope.
Mr Santos, who has travelled to the area, said troops had been deployed as part of a national emergency response.
He declared a state of emergency in the region.
The national fire service said at least 190 people had been injured.
The region's governor, Sorrel Aroca, told Colombian media that whole neighbourhoods had been buried.
Rescue services said their efforts had been hampered by continuing bad weather and damaged infrastructure.
"There are mobility issues on almost 80% of the roads, and from where the road ends, it is three hours to where the landslide took place," said one police officer.
Bridges have also been swept away. Jose Antonio Castro, mayor of the provincial capital Mocoa, told Caracol radio that the town was "totally isolated", without electricity and water.
On arriving at the scene, President Santos told reporters, "My heart and the hearts of all Colombians are with the victims of this tragedy."
An alarm had sounded as the river's levels rose, leading many people to leave their homes for shelter, and avoiding wider loss of life, Colombia's El Tiempo newspaper said.
Arrested Jungular reveals how two Gambian-Americans were killed
By Lamin Jassey
As investigators dig more and more into the fate of two Gambian - Americans who were arrested by security agents of the former president Jammeh's government, more startling revelations are being made day by day.
Alhagie Mamut Ceesay and Ebou Jobe were arrested by state security agents in June 2013 and have disappeared since then.
Despite the numerous calls for their release and several efforts done by human rights organizations, civil society groups, activists, and international agencies including the UN human rights commission, the US State Department, etc, the two Gambian -Americans are no where to be seen.
The latest information coming from one of the jungulars who is in state custody reveals how Alhagie Mamut Ceesay and Ebou Jobe were brutally killed by former President Yaya Jammeh's killers in Kanilai.
Gambian activists and human rights defender Lamin Jassey wrote an interesting piece on this startling revelation.
Below we reproduce his story in detail.
"One of the most notorious members of Ex President Jammeh's (killers) Jungulars, has told Military Investigators how the Gambian-Americans, Alhagie Mamour Ceesay, 39, and his childhood friend Ebou Jobe, 41, were arrested.
The Jungular (name withheld), told investigators that on that fateful day, he led a team of Jungulars to the rented apartment of the two Gambian-Americans after putting the place under surveillance for few days.
The two were arrested and taken to the notorious NIA for questioning. They were later led to the State House, where they met with President Jammeh face to face. Jammeh ordered that they be taken to Kanilai and be 'dealt with' the Jungular said. They were escorted to Kanilai, where they were killed and buried, the Jungular concluded.
The investigators are now waiting for the Coroner's permission to go and exhume the remains of the two. We must commend the authorities for their swift actions on these investigations." the report concludes.
The White House’s handling of intelligence reports
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House's handling of intelligence reports on the Russia investigation has been labeled unorthodox and, to the Democrats, suspicious. But when it comes to Donald Trump's relationship with his spy agencies, that's par for the course.
Since taking office, Trump has challenged the integrity of intelligence officials, moved to exert more control over U.S. spying agencies and accused his predecessor of using government spycraft to monitor his presidential campaign.
This week, Trump's White House is facing allegations that it funneled secret intelligence reports to a top Republican investigating his campaign's possible ties to Russian officials as well as Moscow's interference in the 2016 election.
The approach appears to be based, at least in part, on the White House's anxiety over the Russia investigations, which threaten to seriously weaken his presidency. It also reflects a deep distrust of the intelligence community among his political advisers, including government newcomers who have never dealt with classified information or covert programs.
"It reveals a chasm of ignorance about how stuff is done," said Michael Hayden, the former head of the CIA and National Security Agency.
Trump, with the backing of political advisers Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner, initially sought to put Wall Street billionaire Stephen Feinberg in charge of a review of the intelligence agencies. An early iteration of the review explored eliminating the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the umbrella agency created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to streamline and coordinate intelligence.
Officials say they viewed the agency as an unnecessary and bloated bureaucracy that can manipulate or distort information.
But the review was recalibrated after Dan Coats — who was confirmed earlier this month as Trump's intelligence director — vigorously complained about being undermined in the midst of his confirmation hearings, according to U.S. officials. Coats is now leading the review, though it does not include potentially scrapping the office he now runs, according to the officials.
"This is going to be more on the 'trim and optimize' as opposed to 'dismantle,'" said L. Roger Mason Jr., an executive with the nonprofit Noblis and a member of the Trump transition team that focused on the national intelligence directorate.
Trump's White House has looked for other ways seize the reins.
Officials have expressed an interest in having more raw intelligence sent to the president for his daily briefings instead of an analysis of information compiled by the agencies, according to current and former U.S. officials. The change would have given his White House advisers more control about the assessments given to him and sidelined some of the conclusions made by intelligence professionals.
One official said the focus on accessing more raw intelligence appeared to be more of a priority under the short tenure of Michael Flynn, who was ousted as national security adviser after less than one month on the job. He was replaced by H.R. McMaster, an Army lieutenant general who was expected to exert more control over the NSC but has found himself struggling to overcome skepticism among Flynn holdovers who have the ear of Bannon.
Earlier this month, CIA leaders raised concerns with McMaster about an intelligence director on his staff. McMaster moved to replace him, but the staffer, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, appealed to Bannon and Kushner, who got Trump to intervene to save his job.
Cohen-Watnick was a protege of Flynn, having worked for him at the Pentagon's intelligence shop. Now the NSC's senior director for intelligence programs, Cohen-Watnick is one of about a dozen people in the White House with access to a full range of classified information, including details of U.S. covert programs. His position also gives him the ability to request intelligence products from agencies.
On Thursday, The New York Times identified Cohen-Watnick as one of two White House staffers who helped House intelligence chairman Devin Nunes view secret reports.
A U.S. official confirmed Cohen-Watnick had access to the kind of intelligence materials, but maintained he did not play a role in helping the congressman access the documents. The official pointed instead to the other official named in the New York Times report, Michael Ellis, a White House lawyer who previously worked for Nunes on the House committee.
Cohen-Watnick has privately expressed suspicion to colleagues over whether Ellis could have been responsible for some of the leaks that had been troubling the new administration in its first few weeks in office, according to an administration official.
The current and former officials insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the sensitive matters.
Nunes said the materials he saw showed the "troubling" extent to which information about Trump and his associates' communications was spread around the government in the waning days of the Obama administration. His public declarations came days after Trump officials privately suggested to reporters that they focus on that same topic, a signal that the California congressman and the White House may have been working in tandem.
The White House also said the information validated Trump's remarkable and unproven claim that President Barack Obama wiretapped his New York skyscraper, though Nunes disputed that conclusion.
Stephen Slick, who served in the CIA and NSC for three decades, said intelligence agencies go to "extraordinary lengths" to safeguard the privacy of Americans. He said officials "have no incentive to see intelligence reports they gather and distribute for national security purposes become fodder in domestic political disputes."
At least some of what Nunes viewed at the White House is believed to be communications between foreign governments discussing the incoming administration, which could have been picked up through routine monitoring of diplomats and other foreign officials living in the U.S.
Hayden said that Trump and his advisers appear to be missing the fact that such information is collected to give the U.S. government insight into the thinking of foreign powers that can be used to Washington's advantage. And as president-elect, Hayden said, Trump would have had access to much of this information.
"These people wrote this not for the Obama administration but for the American government, with full knowledge that whatever they were writing would be accessible by the president-elect or the president," Hayden said.