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Jeb Bush, brother to former US President George W Bush, has announced he himself is looking into running for president in 2016.

The former Florida governor will “actively explore the possibility of running for President”, he wrote on Facebook on Tuesday.

He will also create a political action committee to “facilitate conversations with citizens across America”.

Mr Bush has pro-immigration views, an issue likely to top the 2016 campaign.

But his views on this subject and on education have enraged some conservative Republicans.

Bush is not the only familiar name circling the upcoming election.

Former First Lady and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is currently the frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic ticket.

The announcement marks the first major Republican candidate to make a formal move toward announcing candidacy for the 2016 presidential nomination.

“In the coming months, I hope to visit with many of you and have a conversation about restoring the promise of America,” Mr Bush wrote on Facebook.

His committee, named Leadership PAC, will help “support leaders, ideas and policies that will expand opportunity and prosperity for all Americans”.

He is not expected to to announce his decision until next year “after gauging support”, Kristy Campbell, a spokeswoman for Mr Bush, told the Associated Press news agency.

“This is a natural next step and represents a new phase of his consideration process,” she added.

Mr Bush’s Facebook statement is the strongest yet to indicate he plans to attempt to become the third member of his family – after his father, George HW Bush, and brother – to become leader of the US.

During two terms as governor of Florida, he overhauled the state’s education system and pushed for substantial tax cuts.

In a recent televised interview, Mr Bush claimed he “would be a good president” and promised to release a cache of emails from his time as governor.

Other names in the frame for the Republican nomination include Senators Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, and Governor Chris Christie.

Source: BBC

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President and ministers haven’t been paid their ex-gratia, Ayariga clarifies

His Excellency the President and all Ministers and Deputy Ministers of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) who served in various ministerial and deputy ministerial positions, including presidential staffers, from 7th January 2009 to 7th January 2013 have not been paid their ex gratia for that period, a statement signed by Mahama Ayariga, Minister of Information and Media Relations has indicated.

The payment of ex gratia, so far, only applies to members of the legislature, he added.

According to Mr Ayariga, the allegations in some media discussions that members of the political elite have paid themselves lump sum ex gratia awards and yet are asking other public servants to accept installment payments for arrears of their 2012 allowances is untrue.

“Ministers and Deputy Ministers may only receive their ex gratia when the concerns of other ‘Non Article 71 office holders’ have been equally attended to.”

Source: 3news.com|Ghana

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Xi Jinping named president of China

Leaders in Beijing have confirmed Xi Jinping as president, completing China’s 10-yearly transition of power.

Mr Xi, appointed to the Communist Party’s top post in November, replaces Hu Jintao, who is stepping down.

Some 3,000 deputies to the National People’s Congress, the annual parliament session, took part in the vote at the Great Hall of the People.

The new premier – widely expected to be Li Keqiang – is scheduled to be named on Friday, replacing Wen Jiabao.

While votes are held for the posts, they are largely ceremonial and the results very rarely a surprise.

Mr Xi, who bowed to the delegates after his name was announced but made no formal remarks, was elected by 2,952 votes to one, with three abstentions.

He was named general secretary of the Communist Party on 8 November and also given the leadership of the top military body, the Central Military Commission.

This vote, handing him the role of head of state, was the final stage in the transition of power to him and his team, the slimmed-down, seven-member Standing Committee.

The largely symbolic role of vice-president went to Li Yuanchao, seen as a close ally of Mr Hu and a possible reformist.

The 61-year-old, who is not a member of the Standing Committee, has in the past called for reforms to the way the Communist Party promotes officials and consults the public on policies.

Austerity president

The son of a revolutionary veteran, 59-year-old Mr Xi held top party roles in Zhejiang and Shanghai, before being appointed to the Standing Committee – China’s top decision-making body – in 2007.

Since his elevation to the top of the party in November, Mr Xi has been feted in Chinese media as a man of the people who shuns the usual trappings of his position.

He has spearheaded an austerity drive for officialdom, in a move seen as an attempt to address rising public anger over the perceived luxurious lifestyles of leaders.

He has also been widely quoted in state media on the need to stamp out corruption at all levels, warning of civil unrest if party privilege is not tackled.

The party faced many challenges, he said in a speech after assuming the Communist Party leadership.

Problems such as “corruption and bribe-taking by some party members and cadres, being out of touch with the people, placing undue emphasis on formality and bureaucracy” had to be addressed, he said.

Mr Xi assumes the leadership of a nation that is growing wealthier but more vocal in its anger at issues such as rising inequality, environmental damage and food safety.

He also faces concern among regional neighbours over how China will wield its rising power, particularly in relations to thorny issues such as territorial disputes with Japan and Asean nations.

Xi Jinping is expected to make his first overseas visit as president to the BRICS summit in South Africa at the end of March.

He is also expected to visit Russia, the foreign minister said.

On Friday Premier Wen Jiabao’s successor will be named, with the party’s number two leader, former Liaoning party chief Li Keqiang, set to take over.

The NPC closes on Sunday.


Source: BBC

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Politics

Tunisian president testifies in probe of politician’s murder

Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki testified on Thursday before a judge probing the murder of opposition leader Chokri Belaid, as police narrowed their hunt for his killer to an area near the border with Algeria.

The shooting of secular politician Belaid by a suspected Islamist radical on February 6 provoked the biggest street protests in Tunisia since the overthrow of strongman Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali two years ago.

Secular parties later withdrew their support for Islamist-backed Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, forcing the collapse of his coalition government.

Marzouki, who leads one of Tunisia’s main secular parties, was called to testify because he had warned Belaid in January of a death threat against him and offered him police protection, local media reported.

Secularists had long complained that Jebali’s government was too tolerant of religious radicals emboldened by the fall of Ben Ali, whose government spent decades suppressing Islamists.

A swift arrest and trial of Belaid’s killer could calm the political turmoil that has stalled efforts to rebuild an economy hit hard by the 2011 uprising.

“The investigating judge at the Court of Tunis heard on Thursday morning President Moncef Marzouki as a witness in the case of Chokri Belaid’s assassination,” the presidency said in a statement.

The interview took place at the Carthage Palace, the head of state’s official residence.

It was the first time a Tunisian president had taken the witness stand in a judicial investigation.

Police believe Belaid’s killer is a 34-year-old member of a radical Islamist Salafi group.

Interior Minister Ali Larayedh said on Tuesday that police had arrested four other ultra-orthodox Salafis suspected of being accomplices.

“Chokri received many death threats by telephone in his final weeks,” said Belaid’s brother Abd Majid.

Zied Lakdhar, a member of Belaid’s Popular Front party, also said Belaid had refused police protection.

Army and police forces backed by military aircraft were searching the regions of Wad Mliz and Ghar Dimaou near the border with Algeria on Thursday in an effort to catch Belaid’s killer, security sources said.


Source: Reuters

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Politics

Stop calling the president thief – Mornah warns

General Secretary of the People’s National Convention (PNC) Bernard Mornah has asked politicians especially those in the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) to desist from casting insinuations at President John Dramani Mahama.

“I don’t think it is right that some people can mount platforms to call the president a thief,” Mornah said on TV3’s News @ 10 on Tuesday, February 19, 2013.

He pointed out that Ghana has grown as a nation and some sections of the populace must accordingly act maturely.

He cited that at 56 years, Ghana would have proceeded on retirement in four years’ time and so “we have matured to be able to guard against acts that can plunge the country into violence.”

The member of the Coalition of Ghanaian Voters explained that that is the object behind a peace walk embarked upon by his group on Tuesday.

“We went on a peace walk to draw attention to this,” he told host Bright Nana Amfoh.

“It’s about those who believe that decency must characterize our country,” he added.

He said most of the culprits are aggrieved members of the NPP, who lost the 2012 Elections.

“My party also lost. Does that mean I should be insulting the president?” he questioned.

Mr Mornah observed that by questioning the integrity of the elections that made John Dramani Mahama president, the NPP Members of Parliament must also question their elections since the same polls put them in their current positions.

He noted that until the Supreme Court rules otherwise, President Mahama should be given the support as occupant of the highest seat at the executive.

“If you have confidence in the court, why can’t you wait for the decision of the court?” he asked.

The Coalition has scheduled to hold satellite marches in the regions. The first will take place in the Northern Region and the second in the Ashanti Region, Mr Mornah hinted.


Source: 3news.com|Ghana

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Armenian president re-elected, opposition cries foul

Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan has won a new five-year term, the Central Electoral Commission said on Tuesday.

Police said after polls closed on Monday that they had received 70 reports of voting violations, including bribery at polling stations, and that they had opened two criminal investigations.

The president, 58, has vowed to sustain economic recovery in his landlocked South Caucasus country and said before the vote he would ensure stability and security after years of war and upheaval though he outlined no big policy changes.

Preliminary results released by the Central Electoral Commission showed Sarksyan had won 58.6 percent of the votes cast. His closest rival, U.S.-born Raffi Hovannisian, who served previously as foreign minister, was on nearly 37 percent of votes.

The preliminary results followed an exit poll immediately after voting ended in the former Soviet republic which had put Sarksyan on 58 percent of the votes.

The opposition Heritage Party said that some ballots cast for opposition parties had been thrown out, although there was no indication whether it would challenge the vote, which passed without any major violence.


Source: Reuters

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Politics

Czech upper house votes to impeach president Klaus

The upper house of the Czech parliament impeached outgoing President Vaclav Klaus for treason on Monday, a dramatic but largely symbolic act that nevertheless shows just how deeply the eurosceptic leader angered his left-wing opponents.

The decision by the Senate, dominated by the left, refers the president to the Constitutional Court which will rule on whether he violated the constitution by granting an amnesty to more than 6,000 prisoners serving short jail terms, as well as for other acts.

The upper house voted 38 to 30 in a closed session to bring charges against the president.

The biggest punishment he faces, if found guilty, is losing office, his presidential pension and the right to stand again in future. That is mild given Klaus’s second and final consecutive term runs out on Thursday.

But it would be a blow to the legacy of the right-wing economist who has proved self-conscious about his image, especially compared to the reverence enjoyed by his late predecessor Vaclav Havel.

The treason article of the constitution is only applied to presidents, who cannot be prosecuted in any other way for their actions in office. It has never been used before in modern Czech history.

The court is expected to hear the case in the coming weeks.

The amnesty angered most Czechs because it ended the prosecution of many people investigated for economic crimes such as embezzlement, a sore point in a country where corruption and fraud has topped political debate for years.

Klaus rejected accusations he deliberately formulated the amnesty to let serious criminals go.

OTHER CHARGES

The senators also accuse Klaus of flouting the constitution by refusing to ratify European Union treaties, and for declining to rule on the appointment of judges despite being ordered by the courts to do so. In total, the charges include five counts of alleged misbehavior.

One charge by the Senate is that Klaus refused altogether to ratify a plan to set up the ESM bailout fund for euro zone countries, despite the plan being ratified by parliament. That decision, however, did not stop the fund from being created.

“The Senate met its task of protecting the constitution by approving the suit,” said Senator Jiri Dienstbier who was one of the initiators of the impeachment.

“I am glad that the independent Constitutional Court will have the opportunity to consider how deeply the constitution was violated.”

A spokesman for Klaus said he did not know if the president would react to the decision. He said last week the impeachment drive was a political ploy.

“It is sad that some people from our political opposition are using the threat of the constitutional court to deal with their political disagreement,” he said.

While the damage to Klaus’s image will bring satisfaction to many adversaries, even some of Klaus’s opponents said a treason charge was going too far, as did some lawyers.

“The result of a Senate suit would be mainly an inflationary usage of the exceptional constitutional concept of treason,” law professor Jiri Priban wrote in a newspaper article on Monday.

Klaus will be succeeded by former prime minister, the leftist Milos Zeman, on Friday.

The presidential post does not carry much day-to-day executive power, but Zeman will have the right to appoint judges and the leadership of the central bank, and have the power to veto legislation.

Klaus, 71, has said he would devote time to his right-wing think-tank, but also hinted he may seek another political post, possibly even in the European Parliament.


Source: Reuters

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Politics

In final days, Mexico’s president tries again to get the ‘United States’ out of ‘Mexico’

Mexico’s president is making one last attempt to get the “United States” out of Mexico — at least as far as the country’s name is concerned.

The name “United Mexican States,” or “Estados Unidos Mexicanos,” was adopted in 1824 after independence from Spain in imitation of Mexico’s democratic northern neighbour, but it is rarely used except on official documents, money and other government material.

Still, President Felipe Calderon called a news conference Thursday to announce that he wants to make the name simply “Mexico.” His country doesn’t need to copy anyone, he said.

Calderon first proposed the name change as a congressman in 2003 but the bill did not make it to a vote. The new constitutional reform he proposed would have to be approved by both houses of Congress and a majority of Mexico’s 31 state legislatures.

However, Calderon leaves office on Dec. 1, raising the question of whether his proposal is a largely symbolic gesture. His proposal was widely mocked on Twitter as a ridiculous parting shot from a lame-duck president.

Calderon said that while the name change “doesn’t have the urgency of other reforms,” it should be seen as a relevant issue. “Mexico doesn’t need a name that emulates another country and that no one uses on a daily basis,” he said.

The United States looms larger than perhaps any other country in the Mexican cultural imagination: Mexicans follow U.S. sports teams, watch U.S. television shows and buy U.S.-made products. For many, however, there is also resentment of a larger and more powerful northern neighbour that’s often seen as ignoring or looking down its nose at Mexico.

Calderon has tried to keep Mexico’s international image, and its vital tourism industry, from being tarred by the waves of violence set off by his six-year, militarized offensive against drug cartels. At least 47,500 people have died in cartel-related violence during his term in office, although the number is believed to be far higher, since his administration stopped releasing an official count last year.

A poll released this week by the Vianovo consulting firm said that half of all Americans view Mexico unfavourably and more than 70 per cent believe it’s unsafe to travel south of the border. The poll of 1,000 adults had a margin of error of four percentage points.

“It’s time for Mexicans to return to the beauty and simplicity of the name of our country, Mexico,” Calderon said. “A name that we chant, that we sing, that makes us happy, that we identify with, that fills us with pride.”

Source: AP