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Archive for April 4th, 2007

Kenyans dominate PD International Half Marathon

Posted by African Press International on April 4, 2007


By : BERNAMA

PORT DICKSON, Sun:

Kenyan runners dominated the men’s open category of the 2007 PD International Half Marathon, winning the top four places here today.

Daniel Kirawa Lel, 32, who was 11th at the Kuala Lumpur International Marathon on March 18, topped the category after completing 21 kilometres in 1 hour 5 minutes and 4 seconds while Gilbert Kiptoo, 24, lagged six seconds behind for the second place.

Compatriots Charles Ogaro Omayio, 26, and Robert Noungu Kibe, 28, were third and fourth with 1:10.2s and 1:11.21s respectively.

Daniel said this was their first appearance in the event that started and finished at the Admiral Marina & Leisure Club and hoped to be able to participate in next year’s competition.

The wind and rain factors had prevented them from clocking better times, he said.
In the women’s open category, Malaysia’s S. Devamani, 37, emerged tops with 1:25.5s.

“Overall, I’m satisfied with the performance today because my target is to defend the title,” said the athlete who is from this district.

The second place went to Yazmin Mohd Yusoff, 20, who clocked 1:27.4s while Carmen Leong Ban Yeik, 37, third with 1:47.47s.

The half marathon, staged for the second time here, offered cash prizes totalling RM30,000.

A total of 2,042 local and international runners took part in this year’s event, compared to 1,318 previously.

State Tourism Action Committee Deputy Chairman Faizal Ramli gave away the prizes.

Posted to APN by Karuga Njuguna – UK

Published by African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source as indicated above.Sun

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The Chinese are stepping in to advice on Darfur

Posted by African Press International on April 4, 2007

*”Beijing (China) China, the biggest ally and economic partner of Sudan outside Africa, expressed on Tuesday hopes that the “Sudanese government could show more flexibility on the Darfur issue”.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in a regular press briefing commenting on an eight day visit of Chief of Joint Staff of the Sudanese Armed Forces Haj Ahmed El Gaili to China, that the Chinese officials discussed the Darfur issue with El Gaili, adding that it has been China’s basic stance that peace and stability as well as economic reconstruction should be realized in the Darfur region at an early date.

China holds that the Darfur issue should be resolved by political means and through dialogue and negotiation on an equal footing, said Qin, adding that his country welcomes the efforts by parties concerned to have negotiations on a peace proposal put forward by the former U.N Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Qin called for the relevant parties to go on pushing forward the political process and strive for better humanitarian and security situation in the war-torn western region of Sudan.

China will continue to play a constructive role and work together with the international community for peace and stability in Darfur, Qin added.

Haj Ahmed El Gaili arrived in Beijing Sunday, for an eight-day visit to China, at the invitation of Chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Liang Guanglie.

He held separate discussion with the Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan and Xu Caihou, the vice-chairman of China’s central military commission.

The Chinese official news agency Xinhua quoted Xu saying that “China and Sudan have conducted fruitful cooperation in various fields and the two countries have reached broad consensus on major international issues”.

Sudan appreciates China’s support and assistance over the years and the Sudanese government cherishes its relations with China, Haj Ahmed El Gaili was quoted by Xinhua.”*

 

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no source.apa

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Norway: Debt problems tearing Norwegian peace

Posted by African Press International on April 4, 2007

*”Increasing numbers of Norwegians are having trouble paying their bills, an indication that many have been spending too freely and are starting to feel the effects of recent interest rate hikes. More than 161,000 Norwegians are currently unable to obtain conventional loans or credit financing because they can’t meet existing obligations. The total of 161,388 is 400 more than the total three months ago, according to Gabor Molnar in credit rating bureau CreditInform.

“Many are probably beginning to mark the interest rate hikes now,” he told consumer website Forbruker.no on Tuesday.

Debt demands have risen to NOK 17.9 billion, from NOK 17.6 billion in December.

Men in their 30s formed the largest group of debtors in trouble, accounting for NOK 14.4 billion of the NOK 17.9 billion. “There’s no doubt who are the worst at handling their private financial situation,” Molnar said.

He noted that ongoing rate hikes will increase debt pressure on Norwegians, who have been borrowing and spending heavily as the country’s oil-driven economy has continued to boom.

In Oslo, fully 4.9 percent of the population have been blacklisted, most of them aged 30-39.”*

By Nina Berglund

*”/”*Lifted and published by African Press in Norway, apn. africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source. aftenpostenEng

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Norway: April fools day recording

Posted by African Press International on April 4, 2007

*”Norwegian newspapers and broadcasting channels once again offered up some silly stories on Sunday, as media outlets stuck to tradition and tried to fool readers and listeners on the first of April. Newspaper Aftenposten reported that dog owners would soon have to register their pets with a DNA database, which would ultimately be used to track those responsible for leaving dog droppings in public areas.

The paper enlisted the aid of state veterinarians and local authorities, who went along with fabricated interviews in which they threatened to impose fines on dog owners whose pets had soiled sidewalks. The pets, they claimed could be traced through examination of dog droppings’ DNA:.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), meanwhile, reported a new tax on e-mail messages, while newspaper Dagsavisen said NRK had found a replacement for a popular TV talkshow host who’s soon to quit: Dan Børge Akerø, a personality from the early 1990s who’s had his share of public conflicts, would take over for Fredrik Skavlan.

Newspaper Bergens Tidende reported a new web site that could track the locations of mobile telephones. The site, claimed the paper, would thus give the general public the same possibility that police have to find out where people are.”*

*”/”*Lifted and published by African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.aftenpostenEng.

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Father exposes son by giving tips to the police

Posted by African Press International on April 4, 2007

*”The father of the man who confessed to a 29-year-old murder this week says he was the one who finally decided to tip police about his son’s crime.

The house in the middle of the photo, just outside Fredrikstad’s historic city center, was where widow Inger Johanne Apenes was found stabbed to death.

PHOTO: HANS O. TORGERSEN

The murderer’s lawyer, Harald Otterstad (far left), immediately tried to start drumming up sympathy for his client at a news conference on Monday.

PHOTO: Hans O. Torgersen

“It was already in 1979 (a year after Inger Johanne Apenes was found stabbed to death in her Fredrikstad home) that my son suddenly said he was the one who had killed Mrs Apenes,” the man told newspaper Demokraten on Wednesday.

But his son was just 14 years old at the time, only 13 when the murder was committed, “and I couldn’t believe this was true,” said the father. Neither the man who’s now confessed to police about the murder nor his father have been publicly identified by Norwegian media.

The father told Demokraten that he therefore chose to believe that his son was simply telling tales, “that this had to be some fantasy story he’d come up with.”

His son also later took back what he’d told his father, contending he really didn’t have anything to do with Apenes’ murder after all, but his father said the issue kept bothering him over the years. Last year, 28 years after the 61-year-old Apenes was found dead, he went to the police in Fredrikstad.

“Even though the statute of limitations (25 years for murder in Norway) had run out, I was certain that what he told me in 1979 was true,” said the father, adding that he felt the long-unsolved murder case should be cleared up.

He insists he meant no harm to his now-42-year-old son, who had since married, had children of his own and was leading an otherwise normal life with no other criminal offenses on his record. He hasn’t had contact with his son in recent years but claims he wishes his son and his family all the best.

“No, the reason that I wanted to resolve this issue was my own discomfort,” he said.

Falsely accused to seek compensation
The confessed murderer’s lawyer, meanwhile, has been vigorously trying to win public sympathy for his client and has claimed his client never told anyone about the murder until he confessed to police after being called in for questioning after his father’s tip. His client’s father’s story now calls that claim into question.

His client faces no punishment for the murder itself because he was a minor at the time it was committed and also because the statute of limitations had run out. Even though local and national police spent years investigating the case, and quesioned thousands of people, the man had never come to their attention because police never suspected that a child could have committed such a crime. Apenes was stabbed repeatedly after she discovered the then-13-year-old boy trying to steal items from her home.

Another man, though, was taken into custody in 1983 on suspicion of having killed Apenes, and has said he’ll now seek compensation because he’s had to live under a cloud ever since. He was imprisoned for six months, mostly in isolation, for a crime he didn’t commit and he claims the murder charges left him unemployable and even the target of hurtful comments on the street upon release.

While much of his anger appears directed at the police, according to newspaper VG, the actual murderer could have cleared him once and for all if he’d confessed earlier. It remains unclear whether he can be held responsible for damages as well.”*

By Nina Berglund

*”/”*LIfted and published by African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source. aftenpostenENG.ntb

 

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Africans in Europe become political – Good for the African continent

Posted by African Press International on April 4, 2007

Will Africans choose Ségolène Royal as France’s first female President? Since the 19th century, many African voters have influenced French polls, but in this year’s presidential elections, only inhabitants of the Indian Ocean islands Réunion and Mayotte are to cast their vote. Campaigning is already fierce.

In the two overseas territories of Réunion and Mayotte, people are vigorously discussing who would be the best candidate for President of the French Republic. Should they vote for Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, socialist candidate Ségolène Royal or the centrist François Bayrou? They are the last Africans being able to influence whether Ms Royal will become the first woman to rule France.

Before decolonisation, inhabitants of France’s vast African empire were drawn to the French polls. Although their votes counted less than metropolitan French votes, the African quota of the Paris parliament steadily increased. Several West Africans served as ministers and deputy ministers in French governments, including Félix Houphouët-Boigny and Léopold Sédar Senghor, who later became the fist Presidents of Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal.

With the French colonial empire having shrunk into a handful overseas departments, African, Pacific and Caribbean voters have fewer representatives in the French parliament, but now at least, their votes are counted on an equal basis as those from metropolitan France. In the two chambers of parliament – the Senate and National Assembly – the two islands are even over-resented compared to their population.

With only 190,000 inhabitants, Mayotte sends two representatives to the Paris Senate and one to the National Assembly. The larger island of Réunion, with its 700,000 inhabitants, has three representatives in Senate and five in the National Assembly.

In the French presidential polls on 22 April, the two African overseas territories will vote as other Frenchmen. The 900,000 islanders of Réunion and Mayotte represent about 1.4 percent of the total French population, and their percentage of the electorate is about the same. In a close poll, therefore, the African votes could indeed make the difference between Ms Royal and Mr Sarkozy – if those two make it to the final round.

So far, islanders are ambivalent about the three top candidates. In the latest elections to the Paris parliament, right-wing and centrist candidates have swept the polls. Only one socialist sits in the Senate and another in the National Assembly, both from Réunion. On both islands, traditions are rather conservative and women have yet to gain their place in politics.

In a normal election, Mr Sarkozy would therefore have the best chances in both Réunion and Mayotte. But the rightist leader has been too tough on immigrants and non-ethnic French in the metropolitan territory, casting doubts over his ability to treat inhabitants from overseas territories as equals. Mr Sarkozy in February nevertheless visited potential voters in Réunion and managed to gather a crowd of 4,000 enthusiastic voters.

Ms Royal, who was born in Senegal, was the first to visit the French overseas territories, campaigning in Réunion in October last year and greatly improving her popularity. She gained big applause after strongly criticising the Paris government’s slow reaction to the chikungunya epidemic, which had jeopardised the island’s key tourism industry. Ms Royal in January also visited the French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique, which have around 600,000 potential voters, and impressed islanders by addressing them partly in Creole language.

Also the centrist candidate, Mr Bayrou, who is closing in on Ms Royal, this weekend went on a two-day visit to both Mayotte and Réunion, where crowds of people listened to his election speeches in Mamoudzou and Saint Denis. Especially in Mamoudzou (Mayotte), large crowds gathered to praise the candidate. He is now headed for the French Caribbean.

In Mayotte, there are two pressing issues that interest voters – immigration and the island’s statutes. Mayotte has seen a surge of illegal immigration from the neighbouring Comoros islands, and by now, a quarter of the population comes from abroad. Islanders want a stricter immigration control and an improved coastguard – something all three candidates have pledged on a French national level.

Mayotte voters also want their island’s status to lifted up from an overseas territory to an overseas department – in line with the situation in Réunion. This would give them more political and social rights. Independence is out of the question for voters, as Comoros has historic claims to the island that are recognised by the African Union. But these claims also complicate a possible upgrading of Mayotte’s status as they could cause a diplomatic headache.

Also voters in Réunion are concerned by immigration, but their remote island is still much less affected than the French mainland and Mayotte. The most important issues in the campaign there have therefore been economic development, social services, education and infrastructure.

So far, Ms Royal seems to have gathered most sympathy in France’s last African territories. According to a telephone survey made among 786 potential voters in Réunion by the journal ‘Ipsos Océan Indien’ one week ago, Ms Royal can expect 44 percent of the Réunionaise vote in the first poll round. Mr Sarkozy stood at 34 percent and Mr Bayrou at 10 percent. In a hypothetic second poll round between Ms Royal and Mr Sarkozy, the socialist candidate would beat Mr Sarkozy by 57 to 43 percent.

But Ms Royal’s position is getting steadily weaker among Réunionaise voters. The same survey was also made in December last year. At that point, Ms Royal would have beaten the rightist candidate with an impressive 70 percent of the vote. In that case, African voters could have made a real difference in French politics.

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525. source. afro..

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A new unity government in Guinea – a step forward in the new African democracy

Posted by African Press International on April 4, 2007

At last, Guinea’s consensus Premier, Lansana Kouyaté, appointed a new cabinet on Wednesday. Interestingly, the new line-up is without a single minister from the former regime headed by the bed-ridden Guinean President, indicating Mr Kouyaté had great freedom in forming his cabinet.

According to Guinea national television, the consensus Prime Minister endorsed the appointment of 19 new ministers and three secretaries of state.

Mr Kouyaté said the new government is dedicated to public service, protection of national interest as well as upholding democracy. Believing that justice and respect for the rule of law are the basis of harmony, the Guinean PM said this will be the guiding principle of the new regime.

The appointment of a new government has been a key demand of the unionists and opposition strikers in Guinea. But the question that now arises is whether this will seal the country’s numerous social, political and administrative problems from proliferating.

While the opposition greeted the news with delight, unionists prefer to remain economical in their comments, arguing that they will not hesitate to remove the new Kouyaté-led regime from office if they fail to meet their expectation.

The good thing about the new government is that it contains Guinea’s premier league of economists and technocrats capable of bailing out the country from plunging further into economic or administrative crisis that bred weeks of deadly strikes by the civilian population.

And the appointment of International Monetary Fund (IMF) Coordinator for Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, Ousame Dore, to the rank of Finance and Economic Affairs Minister clearly speaks for itself that Mr Kouyaté means business.

But the uphill task of his government is to win the war against poverty by creating jobs, reduce the high cost of living and basic services for its citizens. Prime Minister Kouyaté, a charismatic career diplomat and administrator who sailed the leadership ladder after a proposal by the unions and opposition leaders, said his main priority has to do with the creation of jobs.

Sensitive to the increasing spate of entrenched officialisation of corruption in the country, the Guinean government has created the Economic and Financial Control, Ethics and Transparency Ministry purposely to wage crusade against the menace that is eating the coffers of a country that has huge deposits of the world’s bauxite.

The Guinean PM stressed the prevalence of transparency, honesty and discipline in the country because his government’s first duty is to face the reality. He said the biggest challenges that the 19 newly appointed ministers will face is to promote good governance, social justice, peace and unity, among others issues.

“The catastrophic situation facing the country demands us to commit ourselves a new approach based on a radical break with old political practices,” he said. Mr Kouyaté also paid homage to over hundreds of strikers killed during nationwide strikes in January and February this year.

Guinean unionists have already gone abroad with their country’s crisis. They are currently in Brussels, Belgium, where they held meetings with their counterparts of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) on Tuesday. The meeting agreed a national conference whose theme would be reconstruction and reconciliation in Conakry in May this year. Stakeholders, development partners and officials from the AU, ECOWAS, EU, among others, are to attend the conference.

“The unions’ success in securing the appointment of the Prime Minister last month is an important step forward in the reconstruction of the country. But the work is not yet finished and it is essential that the largest numbers possible mobilise to ensure a definitive end to the crisis that has been devastating Guinea for far too long,” the ITUC scribe, Guy Ryder, declared in a statement today.

Lifted by Korir and published by African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739, +47 6300 2525 source Afro

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