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Archive for May 24th, 2007

Peacekeepers accused of engaging in gold and weapons trafficking

Posted by African Press International on May 24, 2007

Washington DC (USA) The United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) Wednesday announced that allegations that a number of its peacekeepers based in the Ituri District have engaged in gold and weapons trafficking are under investigation.

“As soon as these serious allegations surfaced and were brought to its attention in 2006. MONUC immediately requested that the matter be thoroughly investigated by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS),” the mission said in a statement. “A full inquiry was initiated, independently from MONUC, by OIOS-Nairobi, in accordance with OIOS mandate to investigate instances of serious misconduct. Upon completion of its investigation,” the statement added, noting that the OIOS report and recommendations, once completed would be sent to the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations “for appropriate action with the troops contributing countries of the concerned contingent personnel, in line with current UN procedures.”

While noting that as a matter of policy, the UN does not comment on investigations in progress, MONUC stressed that it “has an absolute zero-tolerance policy on misconduct and will remain vigilant in preventing egregious and unacceptable behavior.”

The statement said the mission in the DRC “is determined to relentlessly pursue the disciplining of anyone whose conduct is substantiated as unbecoming a peacekeeper.” At the same time, MONUC reiterated its confidence in the vast majority of its blue helmets, and voiced gratitude to the service of working for peace in the DRC. In Ituri, it noted, peacekeepers have disarmed and demobilized more than 15,000 militia members.

Published by Korir, African Press International, api, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.apa

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Is it Love at first lick?

Posted by African Press International on May 24, 2007

Newly arrived Thembi has hit it off well with heartbroken Malin, the giraffe that lost her mate recently at Dyreparken (Kristiansand Zoo and Amusement Park).

Malin, left, and Thembi meet for the first time.

PHOTO: ANDERS MARTINSEN

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The ferry from Copenhagen to Kristiansand arrived Wednesday morning with an unusual and valuable passenger, Thembi, who it would hoped would cheer up Malin, 18, whose mate Georg died this March.

Georg had to be put down after injuring his foot so badly that it would not heal. Since then Malin has shown clear signs of mourning, Dyreparken veterinarian Gunn Holem Robstad said.

“Malin has clearly been upset and eats less than she used to. She has just been moping around,” Robstad said.

Robstad was at the quay waiting for young Thembi, 3, to arrive. After completing the necessary paperwork, Thembi was taken to a quarantined area on the Zoo’s savannah.

“It went very well. When the giraffe was let out he was clearly nervous and ran back and forth. It was a bit scary for him, but after a while he calmed down,” Per Arnstein Aamot, managing director of Kristiansand Dyrepark, told Aftenposten.no.

It didn’t take long before Thembi got up the courage to go over to Malin, who was standing and waiting in the doorway.

The two hit it off quickly, and after a bit of sniffing, there was a bit of cuddling and a lick on the snout.

“It couldn’t have gone better, this was just perfect,” said zookeeper Michael Jansen.

In a month’s time Thembi will be out of quarantine and visitors will be able to see him up close. He should reach sexual maturity in a few years.

“We are hoping for some little giraffes but we will have to be patient,” Aamot said.

By Randi Johannessen, Anders Martinsen and Jonathan Tisdall

Published by Korir, African Press International, api, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source. aftenposteneng.

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Posted by African Press International on May 24, 2007

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Africa: Use African Languages in every country in the continent

Posted by African Press International on May 24, 2007

Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) African Union chairperson Alpha Oumar Konare has recommended the use of national languages in every county in the continent.

Addressing a meeting of African historians in Addis Ababa on Tuesday, Konare said African historians have a lot to contribute in promoting pan-African languages and our identity.

Saying that many Africa languages are endangered because they do not get due attention, he urged more efforts to safeguard the languages that are endangered.

Out of the estimated 2,000 African languages an estimated 300 are said to be endangered as they have fewer than 10,000 speakers.

It is also estimated that 80% of the African languages have no orthography

A major problem concerning the safeguarding of linguistic diversity in Africa is the lack of documentation on languages and language speakers, and national linguistic policies that neglect the importance of African languages for development, according to the meeting of the African historians.

The meeting, which is being held under the theme Society, State and Identity in African History, is discussing issues related to the challenges of creating a pan African identity.

Published by Korir, African Press International, api, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.apa

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Sudan stands to lose an estimated US$38 million in investments from pension funds of the state of Kansas, in Midwestern United States

Posted by African Press International on May 24, 2007

Kansas City (USA) Sudan stands to lose an estimated US$38 million in investments from pension funds of the state of Kansas, in Midwestern United States, after the state legislature votes to withdraw pension funds from companies doing business in Sudan, APA learnt onMonday.

Kansas has become the latest among 12 states in the US to pass legislation for divestment of state pension funds from companies conducting business in Sudan, because of the genocide taking place in Darfur. The legislation was initiated by two black senators in the state legislator, Donald Betts Jr. and David Haley, son of former US ambassador to Banjul, George Haley of Roots family fame.

The president of the student group from nearby Wichita High School, which successfully campaigned for the legislation in Kansas state, 17 year old Matthew Vines, told APA Monday that among the companies affected are Petro China-a subsidiary of the China National Petroleum Company; as well as Sino Pec, Schlumberger, Scomi Group and Dongfeng Motors.

The ceremonial signing of the bill by the governor took place in her office Monday in the state capital Topeka, attended by a group of Sudanese in exile and a church group; Sunrise Sudan, which is engaged in humanitarian work in Darfur and among Sudanese refugees in the United States, and the high school students who lobbied for the cause.

While the bill was originally signed into law by state governor, Katheleen Sebelius, on 10 May, 2007 to ensure that the states retirement funds wont be invested in companies doing business in Sudan…, but Mondays ceremony was a publicly staged show providing opportunity for media coverage of the event.

A release from the governors office quotes her as saying that The horrific genocide taking place in Sudan is well documented, and we want to have nothing to do with companies that are doing business in that nation so long as its government does nothing to stop the killing.

According to the release, the law prohibits the investment of funds by the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System in companies with business operations in Sudan. The bill further requires divestment from direct and indirect holdings in companies with such operations except in the case of passively managed commingled funds….

One of 18 pieces of legislation signed by the governor on 10 May, 2007, student group President Vines said similar legislation to the Kansas divestment law, involving billions in investment funds, now exists in 11 other American states among them: Oregon, California, Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, Colorado, Iowa, Vermont and Maryland.

Published by Korir, African Press International, api, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.apa

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Piracy fears stops ship to move from Kenya carrying food to Somalia

Posted by African Press International on May 24, 2007

MOGADISHU, Somalia A ship carrying 850 tons of food to impoverished Somalis refused to leave a Kenyan port Monday because of piracy off Somalia’s lawless coast.

Meanwhile, Islamic insurgents appeared to step up attacks in the capital of Mogadishu.

The shipping agency contracted by the U.N.’s World Food Program demanded the Kenyan government provide security for travel into Somali waters. On Saturday, pirates launched a failed hijack attempt on a food program boat, killing a Somali guard.

“We need some sort of security to ply into Somali waters … because (Somali pirates) are everywhere. Now they are ashore, very far off into the sea. It is becoming too much,” said Inayet Kudrati of the Motaku Shipping Agency. The ship had been scheduled to sail Sunday.

Saturday’s attack was the eighth this year off the Somali coast, which is near shipping routes connecting the Red Sea with the Indian Ocean. A Kenyan government spokesman did not immediately return calls for comment.

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The 1,880-mile Somali coast has become one of the most dangerous areas for ships.

Peter Smerdon, spokesman for the World Food Program, said he had no comment on the contractor’s security arrangements as long as they were acceptable to Somali and Kenyan authorities.

Piracy is just one obstacle to humanitarian aid in a country battling an Islamic insurgency. Ethiopian troops backing Somalia’s fragile government killed one person and injured another Monday after their convoy hit a land mine in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, witnesses said.

It was the latest in a series of explosions targeting convoys carrying government officials or troops. The government has blamed guerrillas, who have vowed to launch an Iraq-style insurgency until Somalia is ruled by Islamic law.

At the end of April, the government declared victory in battles against insurgents and Somalia’s long-standing clan rivals. Battles in Mogadishu between March 12 and April 26 alone killed at least 1,670 people. Since February, 400,000 Mogadishu residents have fled violence in the capital.

Although the capital is relatively calm, sporadic violence has been deadly.

In Monday’s attack on the Ethiopians’ six-vehicle convoy, a land mine detonated in front of the first pickup truck, said witness Abdi Ma’alin, who was walking nearby.

“The explosion was so huge that it sent volumes of smoke into the sky,” he said.

The troops opened fire in all directions soon after the blast, and controlled the scene for 15 minutes before they continued their journey, said another witness, Sahal Sheik, who sells sheep in a small market nearby.

Ma’alin said the Ethiopians arrested one person. After the Ethiopians opened fire, “I saw one civilian body lying on the curb, and another with blood on his shoulder running toward the residential neighborhoods,” he said.

A day earlier, Mogadishu Mayor Mohamed Dheere said a bomb exploded near his convoy, killing at least two civilians. Dheere was unharmed, and his bodyguards shot and killed a suspected insurgent in a nearby tree.

“The remnants of the Islamic courts are behind this explosion,” Dheere said Sunday, referring to the Council of Islamic Courts. The council seized control over much of southern Somalia last year before being driven out by government troops backed by Ethiopian soldiers.

Another bomb Thursday targeted the prime minister’s convoy, but no one was hurt.

Also Monday, nine Egyptian fishermen who were arrested two weeks ago off the semiautonomous Puntland region of Somalia were released. The group had been charged with illegal fishing, Puntland’s fishing minister told The Associated Press.

“We released them because we respect that they are Muslims,” Said Mohamed Rage said.

Puntland, in northeastern Somalia, has escaped much of the violence that has plagued southern Somalia, but banditry and piracy are a problem.

Posted to API by Karuga wa Njuguna

Published by Korir, African Press International, api, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.AP

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