Jamaican opposition leader Peter Phillips on Friday announced his resignation, after preliminary results gave Prime Minister Andrew Holness a landslide victory in legislative elections, according to daily newspaper The Gleaner.
Phillips said he had written to the Chairman of his People’s National Party (PNP) and asked for arrangements to be made to select a new head, according to the daily.
Holness’ Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) scored 49 of the 63 parliamentary seats up for grabs in Thursday’s elections, with the preliminary count almost complete, the electoral commission said late on Thursday.
The PNP lagged far behind, with only 14 seats.
The result would give Holness another five-year term in office.
The Gleaner called it “a shocking defeat for the PNP, which saw a surprising upset for several of its top stalwarts and popular names.”
About 1.9 million people were eligible to elect members of the House of Representatives on the largest island in the English-speaking Caribbean.
Voter turnout was given as 37 per cent, down from 48.4 per cent in 2016.
Campaign rallies and door-to-door campaigning had been restricted after the number of new coronavirus cases surged.
Jamaica has recorded nearly 3,000 infections and almost 30 deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
The incumbent was nevertheless seen as having done a relatively good job in handling the pandemic, including by quickly closing the borders in March.
The government has also received praise for its economic policies, with unemployment falling to a historic low of 7 per cent in October 2019, according to World Bank figures.
But the pandemic left hundreds of thousands of Jamaicans without jobs or with low incomes, leading to the government reopening the tourism-reliant island’s borders in mid-June.
The opposition criticised Holness for calling elections during the pandemic, accused the government of corruption, and pointed to high crime levels.
The elections took place under safety measures, including temperature checks and wearing of face masks.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)
Jamaicans started voting on Thursday in legislative elections overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic, which were expected to give Prime Minister Andrew Holness another five-year term in office.
About 1.9 million people are eligible to elect 63 members of the House of Representatives on the largest island in the English-speaking Caribbean.
Campaign rallies and door-to-door campaigning had been restricted after the number of new coronavirus cases surged.
Jamaica has recorded more than 2,600 infections and over 20 deaths from Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.
Holness is nevertheless seen as having done a relatively good job in handling the pandemic, including by quickly closing the borders in March.
The government has received praise for its economic policies, with unemployment falling to the historic low of 7 per cent in October 2019, according to World Bank figures.
“Poverty is at its lowest in 10 years … we have … had no new taxes,” Holness said during an election debate.
His challenger Peter Phillips’ People’s National Party (PNP) argues that much of the economic groundwork was done when it was in power before Holness’ Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) won the elections in 2016.
But the pandemic left hundreds of thousands of Jamaicans without jobs or on low incomes, leading to the government reopening the borders of the tourism-reliant island in mid-June.
The subsequent spike in infections gave Phillips an opportunity to criticize the government’s health policies, and Holness for calling elections during the pandemic.
The opposition also accuses the government of corruption and points to high levels of crime on the island, which has a homicide rate three times higher than average in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Opinion polls have nevertheless indicated that Jamaicans trust Holness more than Phillips, and would give him another term in office.
Election arrangements include the deployment of 7,400 sanitation officers, fever checks, face masks and social distancing at polling stations.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)
Britain on Thursday imposed a requirement for arrivals from Switzerland to self-isolate for 14 days, dealing another blow to embattled airlines and travel firms.
Switzerland is currently on a list of “air bridge” nations exempt from a general requirement for arrivals to Britain to self-isolate to help curb the spread of coronavirus.
But they it will lose their exemption from Saturday, along with the Czech Republic and Jamaica, British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said.
Shapps tweeted that the change was necessary to “keep infection rates down.”
The government said it had decided to allow quarantine-free arrivals from Cuba.
“The decision on whether to add or remove a country is carefully made after research from the joint biosecurity centre,” Shapps said, adding that British government experts “take into account a wide range of factors.”
Britain suspended quarantine exemptions for Spain, France and other popular tourist destinations earlier this month amid rising numbers of confirmed infections in some regions. It added Austria and Croatia to the list last week.
Germany, Greece and Turkey are among the European nations that remain exempt from quarantine on arrival in Britain. .
Edited By: Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)
World-record sprinter and eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt has tested positive for the coronavirus and is self-isolating at his home in Jamaica after celebrating his 34th birthday with a big bash mask-free.
Jamaica’s health ministry confirmed late on Monday that Bolt, who holds world records in the 100m and 200m distance, had tested positive after he posted a video on social media around midday saying he was waiting to hear back on his results.
“Just to be safe, I quarantined myself and just taking it easy,” Bolt said in the message that he appeared to have taped himself while lying in bed. It was posted with the caption “Stay safe my people. ”
The only sprinter to win the 100m and 200m golds at three consecutive Olympics (2008, 2012 and 2016) said he did not have any symptoms of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
Bolt said he took the test on Saturday, the day after he celebrated his birthday at a bash where partygoers danced to the hit “Lockdown” by Jamaican reggae singer Koffee.
“Best birthday ever,” Bolt, who retired from athletics in 2017, wrote on Instagram, posting a photo of himself holding his daughter, Olympia, who was born in May.
Fans wished Bolt a speedy recovery on social media – “drink up your ginger tea,” one wrote – although some accused him of carelessness.
Daily confirmed cases in Jamaica have surged to more than 60 per day over the past four days from less than 10 just a few weeks ago. Jamaica now has 1,612 confirmed cases, with 622 active cases and 16 deaths from coronavirus.
Officials put the uptick in cases down to the reopening of international borders as well as celebrations over a long weekend in August marking Independence Day and Emancipation Day.
They also put the blame at the feet of people who refused to wear masks and practice social distancing.
The pickup has raised concerns over national elections that Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness called for in September, six months ahead of schedule.
Holness on Sunday suspended all his campaigning activities, including motorcades, home visits and rallies, and asked other parties to do the same.
Authorities have also delayed the reopening of schools for one month and citizens are under a national curfew from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Ese E. Ekama (NAN)
Race, religion, politics. There are many reasons that drive asylum seekers to Germany. In most cases it's possible to prove political, religious or racial persecution, but it's much harder to prove your sexual orientation – or that you're in danger because of it. DW's Joel Dullroy met two refugees from Jamaica – one is allowed to stay, and the other faces deportation.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in collaboration with Patoranking, a popular Nigerian musician and some other artistes, on Friday re-released the late Bob Marley’s iconic song, “One Love”.
This is contained in a statement signed by UNICEF Abuja, Communication, Advocacy and Partnerships officer, Mr Oluwatosin Akingbulu.
Akingbulu said that proceeds from the song and related activities would be used to support “Reimagine”, UNICEF’s new global campaign.
He said that the campaign was organised to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic from becoming a lasting crisis for children and to ensure the post-pandemic world was fairer and more equal for every child.
“The money raised from ”One Love” for UNICEF’s Reimagine campaign will help UNICEF respond to the immediate needs of children worldwide by providing soap, masks, gloves, hygiene kits, protective equipment and life-saving information for children and families.
“Also, to support near term recovery efforts, including education, protection and healthcare systems; and further UNICEF’s work to reimagine a fairer, more just world for children,” he said.
The officer said that Tuff Gong International and Amplified Music released the new version of the seminal song, with the help of several international artistes who appeared in the new version, including Nigerian artiste, Patoranking.
He said that the song featured artistes and musicians from Nigeria, Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Jamaica, Mali, New Zealand, Sudan, Syria, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The statement quoted Patoranking as saying that he was thrilled to be a part of the project, with UNICEF and the Marley family, who were lending their generous support, creativity and love to help the most vulnerable children around the world.
“Together, we can defeat the virus and also build our countries to be stronger and better.”
In her remarks, the daughter of late Marley, Ms Cedella Marley, said her late father’s message through the song, “One Love”, remained true in present days.
“More than 40 years ago, my father wrote ‘One Love’ about unity, peace and universal love during a time when there was much trouble in the world.
“Even in a time when we aren’t able to get together, his message remains true today.
“We can get through this global crisis if we come together through one love and one heart, ” she said.
Edited By: Edith Bolokor/Peter Dada (NAN)
Global tourism revenues are expected to fall by up to $3.3 trillion due to COVID-19 restrictions, with the United States standing to lose the most, according to a U.N. study published on Wednesday.
The ‘COVID-19 and Tourism’ report released by The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) is based on three scenarios for the industry, with lockdown measures lasting 4 months, 8 months and 12 months.
In those scenarios, revenues would fall $1.17 trillion, $2.22 trillion and $3.3 trillion respectively or between 1.5-4.2 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP).
The report did not say which scenario was most likely, although an UNCTAD official said the middle scenario “could be a realistic one”.
“International tourism has been almost totally suspended, and domestic tourism curtailed by lockdown conditions imposed in many countries,” the report said.
“Although some destinations have started slowly to open up, many are afraid of international travel or cannot afford it due to the economic crisis.”
The United States incurs the highest losses in all three scenarios, with a $187 billion drop in the one lasting just four months, followed by China with $105 billion.
Thailand and France also stand to lose approximately $47 billion each.
Small island states such as Jamaica stand to suffer big losses in proportion to their economies, facing an 11 per cent fall in GDP or $1.68 billion.
The United States loss in the “pessimistic” scenario is $538 billion, or three percent of GDP.
The UNCTAD report covers 65 individual countries and regions. It calls for governments to boost social protection for affected workers in badly-hit nations.
Some of the estimates are comparable to those in a previous U.N. report by its World Tourism Organisation in May, which found that tourism numbers could fall by 60-80 per cent compared with 66 perc in UNCTAD’s intermediate scenario.
Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Felix Ajide (NAN)
The Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports Development has trained 7,000 youths in the IBM Digital Skill Training Programme in its bid to address youth unemployment in the country.
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, made the disclosure while speaking with State House correspondents on the outcome of the Federal Executive Council’s virtual meeting.
The meeting was chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja on Wednesday
“The one that we have started, which really gladdens our hearts at the ministry, which is part of our success story, is the IBM Digital Skill Training.
“As soon as COVID-19 happened, we decided to migrate from an offline platform to an online e-learning platform
“And within three months, with IBM partnership, we have been able to train 7,000 youths. Most of them have received IBM certifications which they can use to work anywhere in the world.
“Right now, over 9,000 youths have registered. Some are half way through their training and that is ongoing,’’ Dare said.
“So, I think youth development in our country and under the ministry of youth and sports development is on a new trajectory and the one that we are looking forward to is the 100 million AfDB Support for the DEEL Programme.’’
On sports development, the minister stated that sports was no longer classified as a recreation but a profitable economic activity.
According to him, the ministry has committedly worked to turn sports into an economic industry, where the country can generate billion of revenues.
“We realised when we came on bound that the National Bureau of Statistics still classified sports as a recreation.
“And when you look around from South Africa to Brazil even to Jamaica, sports is classified as business. It is an economic activity.
“When you look at global statistics it’s a 1.33 trillion dollars industry. When you look at the United Kingdom, it is a 43 billion dollar industry annually. In America, it is 41 billion dollars annually, etc.
“It is only this country that classifies sports as `play – play’ or recreation.’’ Dare added.
The minister stated that the ministry had signed Memoranda of Understanding with relevant organisations and held various inter-ministerial meetings with the sole aim of moving sports as an industry from a mere concept to pure economic action.
Edited By: Silas Nwoha (NAN)
Jose, a Salvadoran migrant recently deported to El Salvador by the United States, said the brutal way he was treated by United States immigration authorities violated his human rights.
He is one of thousands of mostly Central American migrants the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has deported amid the COVID-19 pandemic, threatening to fuel the outbreak even further, especially in less developed countries with weak healthcare infrastructure.
"They hurt me a lot," the 47-year-old deportee, who asked to remain anonymous, told Xinhua from his mother's modest home in the southern department of La Paz.
Jose was arrested in June 2019 in the United States state of Georgia on a driving infraction, and detained at an ICE facility because he has no legal documents for staying in the country.
While in custody, he developed a hernia that required surgery. In April 2020, about 10 days after the surgery, while he was recovering in a cell at the Stewart Detention Center in Georgia, guards ordered him to prepare for deportation.
He was still unable to stand up, so the guards grabbed him by his legs and neck to take him to a wheelchair. As he writhed with pain, they dropped him and he remained on the floor until nurses came to pick him up about 15 minutes later, he recounted.
"They grabbed my feet by force," said Jose, adding he pleaded that they simply deport him on a later date, once his surgical wound had healed. Instead, "one of them said 'turn off the cameras', because they knew what they were doing was a violation," said Jose.
Jose, who was put on a flight to El Salvador and deported on April 7, had previously lived in the United States for 17 years and expelled in 2018.
He returned to the United States because he wanted to reunite with his four young children and restart a small construction business, where he employed 10 people and paid taxes. When he was arrested again last year, he had been back for only a few months.
In El Salvador, he was the target of a kidnapping by criminals who assumed he had money from his years in the United States. They shot at his vehicle, causing him to collide and suffer injuries that later led to the hernia.
At Stewart, he was also concerned about being exposed to COVID-19 in cells that usually held 80 or 90 migrants.
"There were people who were already starting to have COVID-19 symptoms" and "they (the ICE) were covering up that many migrants were getting sick," Jose said.
Stewart reported that 31 migrants were infected with the virus and one died from the disease, the second COVID-19 death at an ICE facility, according to the latest data from the agency on June 15.
To date, the network of United States detention centers has seen 2,016 COVID-19 infections, after testing just over 5,000 migrants out of a total inmate population of more than 24,700, according to the ICE.
According to the Washington-based Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), the ICE has deported thousands aboard 135 flights to 13 countries since March, with the following countries reporting receiving deportees who have tested positive for COVID-19: Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico, Colombia and Haiti.
"The continued deportations of the (United States President Donald) Trump administration represent a significant risk to public health in the region (Latin American), and represent a burden for already overburdened health systems," CEPR researcher Jake Johnston told a May 29 forum on the issue.
Otumba Olusegun Runsewe, the Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), said on Wednesday that violence was not part of Nigerian culture.
Runsewe made this declaration at the memorial held at the NCAC’s premises in honour of late George Floyd, with the theme: “I Can’t Breath” in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that George Perry Floyd Jr. was an African-American man who was killed by police during an arrest in Minneapolis on May 25.
Since then, protests in response to both Floyd’s death and more broadly to police violence against other black people, quickly spread across the United States and internationally.
Runsewe said the council was joining the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) and over 17 countries around the globe to pay their last respects to late Floyd and blacks globally, who had suffered violent attacks and death on the account of their skin colour.
He emphasised that as Africans, our culture had great respect for the sanctity of human lives.
“We are a peaceful loving and God fearing people. Violence is not part of our culture.
“This is why we are joining NiDCOM to ask for justice for late Floyd and to propagate the message of peace all over the world.
“We believe in the American vision that all men are created equal and are endowed by the Creator with certain inalienable rights among which are right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness
“We believe that whether black or white, we are all God’s children and we all have the right to live,” he said.
According to Runsewe: “Peace is imperative, from Africa to the USA, Asia, Europe and the Pacific, we therefore solicit for justice, love and peace everywhere.
“As we honour late Floyd today, our heart also goes to all Nigerians who have died under gruesome circumstances; all the victims of Boko Haram terrorism, kidnapping, rape, hire assassination, cultism and other violent crimes.
“We pray that God should heal our land and give the families and friends of the departed souls the strength to bear the loss.”
Speaking earlier, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the hairman of NiDCOM, said the inhumane treatment that happened to Floyd was unacceptable all over the world.
“For us Africans in Africa, we are telling our brothers and sisters in America, Brazil, Jamaica, others that as long as you are black you are an African.
“And as long as we do not work together to develop this continent that is filled with beauty, the world will continue to look down on us as black people.
“So here is my challenge to every black person in the world, have a connection with the mother land, your mother land where you all came from will show you love, affection and emotions.
“The good thing is that here in Nigeria we’ve opened a symbolic door for every black person; it is a door that gives a physical connection, emotional, spiritual and economic connection.
“And we are also saying to every black person, come to the mother land, invest in the mother land, this is home.
“If the Chinese and Indians are investing here, why not our brothers and sisters in America.
“I hope with what is happening all around the world, our brothers and sisters will look back to African continent where they came from.
“Am glad that it is beginning to happen and recently it happened in New York, we had a great event with them,” she said.
She therefore urged black people all over the world to come to the continent where they could breath and would be shown love and affection.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)