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Archive for April 11th, 2007

Belgium Foreign Minister discuss open skies agreement with Liberian Leader

Posted by African Press International on April 11, 2007


By Brooks, APN Correspondent – Liberia

MONROVIA, 09.04.07): President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has been holding talks with the Foreign Minister of Belgium, Mr. Karel De Gucht. At a meeting on Monday at the Foreign Ministry in Monrovia, the President said her government wants to forge strong bilateral agreements with Belgium as Liberia continues its path to national renewal.  

According to a news release from the Liberian presidential palace, quoting the Liberian leader as saying, the Belgian Foreign Minister’s visit is a further demonstraton that Liberia has been accepted by the international community. “Our people are more encouraged whenever a visit like this takes place,’ adding, ‘it sends a strong signal that Liberia is back on the road to recovery.”  

The President said she would welcome an Open Skies Agreement with Belgium which would lead to direct flights between Liberia and Europe. The President emphasized that Liberia wants to see value added to its raw materials, especially in the rubber sector.  

For his part, Foreign Minster De Gucht assured the President of his government’s support toward Liberia’s development objectives. He praised the Liberian leader for the outstanding leadership she has exhibited thus far.  

President Johnson Sirleaf was in Belgium last month as part of a three-nation European visit. During talks with Belgian officials including Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, Belgium pledged to join countries supporting Liberia on debt cancellation and bilateral cooperation.

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53 Somalis detained at Entebbe

Posted by African Press International on April 11, 2007


THE Police at the weekend briefly detained 53 Somalis, fleeing the recent fighting between Islamic insurgents and the Ethiopia backed government in Somalia.

The Somalis mainly women, elderly and children, were stopped by the Immigration officials at Entebbe Airport after disembarking from a Kenya Airways plane from Nairobi, Kenya.

But the group was released and allowed to enter the country after an inter-agency security meeting attended by the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI), Immigration directorate, Internal Security Organisation, External Security Organisation, Police and aviation security.

It was not possible to obtain an official comment regarding the Somalis.
Efforts to get a comment from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spokesman Ignie Iguundura were fruitless as his telephone was off.

But sources at Entebbe said the Somalis were intercepted at 2.30p.m on Saturday by security before they were transferred to the airport police.
According to a source, the group had a oneway ticket and they had no money on them which caused a lot of suspicion.

An official said the government has issued a directive to screen individuals from countries affected by conflict especially Somalia for fear of infiltration by Islamist fighters or elements linked to Al qaeda.

They were handed to the Somali Consulate in Kampala on condition that they regularise their refugee status with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

Posted to APN by Ham Mukasa

Published by African Press in Norway, apn, tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525

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Kenyans fleeing militia in Uganda

Posted by African Press International on April 11, 2007

By Nathan Etengu
and Reuben Olita

THERE is a fresh influx of Kenyans into Uganda. The Kenyans fleeing tribal clashes in Mt. Elgon have settled in Manafwa district.

The Kenya Television Network on Monday showed clips of Kenyan families crossing into Uganda. A makeshift bridge has been constructed at Chebkube, near the Kenya-Uganda border, in Lwakhakha to facilitate their movement.

The Manafwa Police commander, Patrick Kadimba, yesterday confirmed the influx but said the number was not big. He said the majority of them were moving in with relatives.

According to the district deputy speaker, Jotham Bukania, the most affected people are the Bukusu who are fleeing from a local militia – the Sabaot Land Defence Forces. The militia allegedly accuses them of trying to grab their

The latest developments come as the Kenyan government claimed that Ugandan rebels are helping Kenyan militiamen to cause havoc.

Over 140 people have been killed and 60,000 displaced during the clashes Church leaders have called for the sacking of the Kenyan internal security minister, John Michuki, for failing to contain the violence.

The minister said the situation was blown out of proportion, adding that some elaborate plans were being worked out to stop the killings.

The Ugandan authorities said they are not aware of the involvement of Ugandans.
The Police chief, Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura, said: “I am not aware of any violent clashes involving Ugandans in Kenya.”

Posted to APN by Ham Mukasa

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Ugandan kills wife in Sweden

Posted by African Press International on April 11, 2007

The couple on their wedding day
By Vision Reporter

A 24-year-old Ugandan for no apparent reason killed his wife by cutting her throat at their flat in Malmo, the third largest city in Sweden.

“I want to tell everyone in Sweden that I am very sorry. I beg for forgiveness for what has happened,” Joseph Ssegujja said in an interview
published in a Swedish daily, Kvällsposten recently.
The paper interviewed Ssegujja in Malmo Prison. He is a slim man, a person you can hardly associate with murder.

But on March 19, he strangled his wife, Grace Monica Nakkazi, and then cut her throat following a minor family dispute.

Nakkazi, a Ugandan by birth, held a Danish passport. “I can’t explain what went wrong. I have never been violent,” he told the newspaper. “I didn’t mean to hurt her. I loved her.”

After the crime, Ssegujja placed a blanket over the body and telephoned the woman’s relatives in Copenhagen. He notified them that he had killed his wife and wanted to know the telephone number of the Police.

“I was not angry. It must have been demons that were haunting me. No human being can do what I did,” Ssegujja said. “Everything else we did shows that I loved her. I did everything for her to be happy”.

The 24-year-old says that the fight was about a room which the wife wanted to rent in Copenhagen.

“I didn’t want to spend so much money on another apartment in Copenhagen. I thought we should buy a car.”
The couple met in Kampala when they where children and went to the same school. Monica moved to Denmark but they kept in touch. In 2004, they got married in Kampala.

“It took a year before I came here. Before that, she visited me three times a year.”
Ssegujja said they were planning to return to Uganda.

“I dreamt about being a businessman in Uganda or sit in Parliament. I had promised never do anything illegal in this country. And then this happens.
Now everybody is going to think that we people from Uganda are like this. That’s completely false. My life is destroyed. But I still want people to forgive me.”

A member of the family, Godfrey Kajjimu, told The New Vision yesterday that arrangements were being made to bring the body to Masaka for burial.

Posted to APN by Ham Mukasa

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Things to be even harder over US work permits

Posted by African Press International on April 11, 2007

By Peter Makori

THE future of Kenyan immigrants working in various sectors of United States without work permit hangs on the balance as the State Department of Homeland Security and immigration has embarked on a system of flushing out illegal or undocumented immigrants for deportation.Several States, especially in the Midwest and the West Coast have reported a large number of arrests of illegal immigrants working in food stores and meat processing factories. Their employers are not spared either if they are found to have knowingly employed the immigrants in their illegal status. Those arrested face huge fines and are later on deported for contravening US immigration rules.

The Congress of United States remains divided on a proposal by President George Bush to provide what he calls ‘guest work permits’ for the large immigrants who are working in the country illegally. Under the ‘guest worker program’, all immigrants who have been living and working in the country illegally for the last five years and above will be granted temporary work authorization for a period of 5 to 10 years.

But Bush is facing opposition from conservative hardliners in his own Republican Party. A number of Republican Senators and Congressmen claim that the program if adopted would lead to the undocumented immigrants getting green cards and become legitimate for work in the US. Equally opposed to this idea is a number of ordinary Americans who feel illegal immigrants should be kicked out as they had become a menace in the country.

The issue of illegal immigration has become emotive and highly political in America. Congress is divided down the middle on what to do with the large number of immigrants in the country. There are about 12 million undocumented immigrants coming from all over the world. American citizens, especially those at the border of Mexico along the expansive Texas boarder have created communal ‘vigilantes’ who have resorted to armed patrol of the boarder to check on the large number of Mexicans sneaking into the country in search of jobs.

There is a growing worry among low class Americans that should the government not control the influx of immigrants into the country, the job market will experience serious strains leading to shortage of jobs for the American youth.

It is against this growing concern that Congress authorized the US Treasury to release millions of dollars for the construction of a fence along the Mexican boarder but this effort has‘ still proved ineffective. America is an expansive country. Due to its huge and porous boarders, Mexicans from the South either swim through the Pacific Ocean into mainland. Some also scale the long wall fence and find their way into various food stores where they access menial jobs for survival.

Apart from Mexicans, various nationals from Latin America where the economies and politics are unstable such as Honduras, Cuba, Brazil, Guatemala, El Salvaldor, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Columbia, Costa Rica, Peru, Uruguay, Bolivia, Panama, Haiti and many others stream to America in search of jobs.

The immigrants who took to the streets last year to demand citizenship claim that they only engage in dirty jobs which Americans don’t do under any circumstances and therefore the issue of straining the employment sector does not arise.

But the country is dealing with all sorts of problems brought in by the immigrants. For instance, Nigerians have been accused of all manner of fraud to be found in America while the Latin Americans are notorious drag peddlers. Banking institutions, especially bank of America have bone the blunt of the Nigerian scams. Indeed, Nigeria presents the darkest image of Africa in the United States today.

Impatient with the federal government’s speed to implement tough immigration rules, various States have embarked on the formulation of new immigration rules that empower State police to arrest and deport illegal aliens. States such as Missouri, Kansas, Chicago and California have already formulated tough immigration rules which have enabled local police to zero in on the illegal immigrants working in various sectors. The rules also empower the immigration to prefer tough penalties on employers who are found to have employed the immigrants knowing that they were illegally in the country.

Those affected by this new trend are Kenyans who visited the States under student visa but fell out of status sooner as they were unable to sustain themselves in colleges due to hardships in paying school fees. Paying school fees in America is one of the most challenging problems that Kenyan students face as their parents hardly send them fees. Instead, the students are the ones pressured to send money back home and spare some for their fees and food.

Recently, a Kenyan student whose parents sent him without fees or cash for food found himself in the streets of Arizona as he could not report to school or afford the most basic fundamentals of life. Many Kenyan students are facing harshest realities in America today. Since the September 11 terrorist attack in that changed US, life for immigrants has been terrible. With political temperatures rising ahead of America’s presidential elections, candidates are routinely questioned by their prospective voters to state specific immigration policies they will pursue should they be elected.

Republicans appear to score high on this. Democrats are rather liberal and tend to pursue policies that promote the good of all. Either way, immigrants are facing uncertain future. Education in America remains highly expensive. Unless one is on government scholarship, life can be full of frustration.

Many Kenyan students have found themselves between remaining in college but risk failing to meet various domestic obligations especially paying rent, electricity and other essential bills and abandoning school altogether to chase menial jobs to remain relevant in America. Some of them split the time of their studies from the previously intended say four year degree course and ends up taking as many as 15 years and even more.

The better option is always to drop out of school to work in retire homes or ‘nursing homes where they take care of old age men and women. Here they are paid between $ 7 and 10 dollars an hour depending on the period one has worked the State. This money is subject to compulsory taxation. Other challenges facing immigrants in America include systemic isolation from all sides. While the American Whites are accused of racial segregation, Africans who have acquired status either through marriage or green cards isolate their fellow Africans who have not acquired residence status.

Recently, a group of misguided racial proponents descended the State of Missouri where they carried placards calling for the chasing away of black and coloured people. The hooligans accused University of Missouri in Columbia City of being a haven of ‘illegal races’ in America. These neo-Nazis embrace the Nazi culture of racial hatred and segregation. Tension was high and some African and Asian students felt highly intimidated. Due to traditionally held perception that America is full of money, many students are forced to drop out of school to work for at least 16 hours a day in order to raise funds for domestic use and also send more home. Going to school becomes a luxury that one cannot afford.

With the immigration tightening its noose and Americans becoming more and more aware of the situation ahead, immigrants from poor countries will have to think twice before coming to America, the land of stress.

The author lives in Columbia, USA.

Posted to APN by Karuga wa Njuguna

Published by African Press in Norway, apn, tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525

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Rono back on track

Posted by African Press International on April 11, 2007

Athletics could learn something from the Masters when it comes to appreciating former greats.

Steve Cram,The guardian UK

Watching the Masters at the weekend I was struck by how reverential the golfing fraternity are towards their former greats. It is probably helped by the fact that even in his early 70s someone like Gary Player can blast the ball out of the greenside bunker to within three feet of the hole and look every inch the part.

Athletics is more cruel towards ageing limbs, heart and lungs diminished through the passage of time and copious dietary indiscretions. One of its greats, however, has recently been receiving attention for his efforts to recapture just a flicker of former glories.

In the late 1970s Henry Rono of Kenya was a bigger draw on the European circuit than Coe and Ovett as they were yet to embark fully on their world record ping-pong. In 1978 he broke four tough world records in 81 days and without the aid of pacemakers. His free-flowing, surging style was remarkable for its ease, but its effects were devastating on clock and competition alike.

Olympic boycotts in 1976 and 1980 robbed him of gold medal chances, but in the Commonwealth Games in Edmonton in 1978 he ripped the heart out of Brendan Foster among others in the 5,000m by sprinting the straights and cruising the bends. His trademark was captivating to watch if impossible to copy. He is still, for my money, the best steeplechaser there has ever been.

In the United States the term “masters” is a kinder way of describing the over 40s in athletics. In the UK I am now a veteran, although I have yet to attempt to attach my name in any official capacity to that less-than-flattering description.

Henry, however, has embarked on a quest to break the over-55’s world record for the mile, which currently stands at about 4min 40sec. That in itself would be an achievement, but his has been no gentle slide down from world class.

We all knew that he had a tendency to sink a few beers, even in the middle of the season, but as success brought financial rewards it also brought temptation that this personable man found difficult to resist. If it wasn’t the bar he was frequenting then it might be other types of local hospitality, all energy sapping in their own way.

He was an enigma. Superbly talented but erratic in his ability to do what today they would call “focus”. For all that, though, he was hugely entertaining to hang around with. Briefcase stuffed with cash never far from his hand, he was the first Kenyan star of the modern era picking up the mantle of Kip Keino.

Promoters loved him but abused him. Sadly, he had no ability to properly say “No”. Any decent offer would tempt him to compete and inevitably his body rebelled against the excesses he placed on it.

On one trip I was on in Australia they had billed him to compete in a series of races in the antipodean summer. He failed to show up in Melbourne, so someone was packed off to Nairobi to find him. After a two-day trek he chased him down to a little bar near his home. He had forgotten, or so he claimed. It took another day to get Henry back to Nairobi airport as he insisted on calling on many friends for a drink on the way. After eventually arriving down under he duly pushed himself to perform at a very high level. The spectators were none the wiser but the damage was being done.

By the time 1981 came around he was almost a forgotten man. It was April of that year that I was training in Boulder, Colorado as usual. I spotted a slightly rotund-looking jogger on the other side of the street. After arranging to meet he told me Nike had sent him there to sober up and get back in shape. He told me he was going to break a world record that summer. I smiled inwardly at his bravado little knowing that in September I would be helping to pace him to an incredible fifth world record.

In three months he went from being overweight and unfit to smashing his own world record for 5,000m with 13.06.20. No one else I have met could have done that. Sadly, it was his last hurrah and was to prove full of irony. The race was in a small town near Bergen in Norway, the perfect venue for distance running. Less than five years later in Bergen County, New Jersey, Rono was appearing before a judge on fraud and money-laundering charges which was just the start of a terrible decline. Alcoholism sent him places he should never have visited but thankfully he now seems to be back on track in every way.

Good luck with the record, Henry, and sorry I can’t be there to help with the pacing again. He was and is a true master.

Posted to APN by Karuga wa Njuguna

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New premier appointed in Guinea Bissau

Posted by African Press International on April 11, 2007

Bissau (Guinea) Martinho Dafa Cabi has been appointed Prime Minister of Guinea Bissau by a presidential decree ending the three-week political deadlock, a release said Monday afternoon.

This appointment comes after the National Popular Assembly adopted a censure motion against the government of former Premier Aristide Gomes, who was compelled to resign on 28 March 2007.

The new head of the government, about 50 years old, is an engineer. He has been for several years the third vice-president of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), which has the majority with 45 MPs out of 100 in the national assembly.

Besides the Natural Resources ministry, Martinho Dafa Cabi once held the Defence portfolio in the PAIGC cabinet formed between 2004 and 2005. He also was appointed State Secretary for administrative reform.

The candidacy of Martinho Cabi was submitted by the PAIGC which is supported by two other signatory parties of the pact for political and parliamentary stability, namely the Party for Social Renewal (PRS) of former president Kumba Yala and the Social Democrat United Party (PUSD) of former transition premier, Francis Fadul.

The landmark mission of the new Prime Minister would be to resuscitate the moribund national economy, restore international investors’ confidence, combat corruption, mismanagement, drug trafficking, and organised crime.

The newly appointed Premier is also expected to streamline the army, the police and the civil service which is the main burden of the country’s public finances.

In addition to handling the protest of civil servants for their four months’ salary arrears, the new cabinet will review the expensive basic commodities such as rice that is now sold at 12,500 CFA francs per 50kg bag.

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.apa

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Sultan of Sokoto appeals to politicians in Nigeria

Posted by African Press International on April 11, 2007

(Nigeria) The Sultan of Sokoto and head of the muslims in Nigeria, Alhaji Sa’ad Muhammadu, Tuesday appealed to politicians to eschew violence in their campaigns and stop raising anxiety ahead of the presidential elections billed for 21 April, APA has learnt.

The Sultan said in his address at the National Prayer Rally held in Abuja under the auspices of the Nigeria Interfaith Forum that Christian and Muslim leaders had continued to receive reports of violent clashes from different parts of Nigeria.

The Sultan said the faith based organisations had no choice but to turn to God to bestow His mercies on all so that peace may reign in Nigeria in the days leading to the elections and after the exercise.

According to him, the objective of the prayer is to supplicate God to shower His blessings on Nigeria as it goes to the polls to elect its leaders at various levels.

The Sultan, who was represented at the occasion by the Emir of Suleja, Alhaji Awal Ibrahim, called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as the umpire in the exercise, to remain impartial and efficient.

He called on the security agencies not to constitute themselves into a terror, harassing and intimidating the voters on the election days.

In his remarks, the Vice President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Bishop Mike Okonkwo, called on the politicians to play the game in the spirit of sportsmanship.

“If you don’t win now you can win later,’’ he said, adding that “anybody who brings violence into the exercise may himself/herself not escape it.’’

He warned the electorate not to sell their votes, nor vote in ignorance.

The prayer session was called by the Sultan and leaders of the Christian faith.

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.apa

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Norway: Oil prices are critical to Norway’s economy, since the country ranks as the world’s third-largest exporter

Posted by African Press International on April 11, 2007

*”Oil traders pushed up the price of oil on Tuesday, after it fell nearly USD 3 a barrel on Monday. Oil prices are critical to Norway’s economy, since the country ranks as the world’s third-largest exporter. Even in high-price Norway, petrol prices fell as well over the weekend. Prices at the pump were seen below NOK 10 a liter at some petrol stations on Sunday, for the first time in months.

They were due to rise as Asian traders clicked into gear on Tuesday. North Sea crude rose 54 cents, to USD 67.13 a barrel, while light, sweet crude for May delivery rose 40 cents to USD 61.91 in Asian electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Part of the rise was linked to the announcement from Iran that it had begun enriching uranium on an industrial scale. That was likely to lead to more tensions in the oil-rich Middle East.”*

*”/”*Lifted by Korir and published by African Press in Norway, apn, +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.aftenpostenENG

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