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Archive for June, 2007

Surviving the fall – BASE jumper’s luck

Posted by African Press International on June 30, 2007

Rescue workers came to the aid of the injured but miraculously alive 24-year-old.


A BASE jumper was injured but survived a fall of around 150 meters on Wednesday after his parachute failed to open as expected.



The 24-year-old man out BASE-jumping as a week of “extreme sports” activities took place in nearby Voss ended up a lucky, if injured, risk-taker after his jump went wrong.

When he threw himself off a mountain cliff at Skjervet in Voss Sunday afternoon, his parachute didn’t unfold as it should have. He hurtled straight down towards the valley below.

The base jumper threw himself off the edge of this cliff in the Norwegian mountains, and landed just off the road below.

He fortunately landed in a tree. That braced his fall and allowed him to emerge from the accident with only a broken foot. He was smiling as ambulance personnel drove him off to a hospital in Voss.

Frode Solbakk, head of security at the annual “Ekstremsportveko” in Voss, stressed that the 24-year-old’s BASE jump wasn’t part of the extreme sporting event’s official program. He confirmed the accident, though, and called it a “classic” BASE-jumping accident.

“We don’t know who the jumper is, and we don’t organize BASE jumps from Skjervet any longer, because it’s not a good place to jump from,” Solbakk said. “This jump must have occurred at his own initiative.”

Another BASE jumper said such accidents occur most often because the parachute was folded poorly, or if it’s windy. BASE is an acronym that stands for jumps from buildings, antennae, spans (bridges) or earth.

By Josefin Engstrm and Engesvik

Lifted by Korir and published by African Press in Norway(APN)/ African Press International(API) source.aftenposteneng

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Flights delayed due to baggage confussion

Posted by African Press International on June 30, 2007

Flights from Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen were delayed Thursday morning after a new round of trouble with the airport’s baggage-handling system. The baggage conveyor belts at the airport’s check-in counters stopped running, because of a “technical error,” just before 8am.

The problem affected both domestic and international flights, delaying departures just as the summer travel season had kicked into high gear.

Baggage belts in the arrivals hall kept running, but the system that tells passengers on which belt their baggage would arrive failed.

Workers scrambled to correct the technical error, and it was fixed within about 45 minutes, but the baggage belts continued to operate at reduced speed.

Lifted and published by African Press in Norway(APN) African Press International(API) source.aftenposteneng

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Mutilation of females – seeking help

Posted by African Press International on June 30, 2007

More than 250 girls and women have sought help from Oslo’s largest hospital in recent years, because of physical problems resulting from female circumcision, also known as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

Midwife Sarah Kahsay has found herself confronting problems related to female circumcision.


The mutilation, which many of the female patients were subjected to as young girls in several Muslim African countries and Northern Iraq, has left the women with severe urinary dysfunction, infections and problems after their vaginal openings were sewn shut.

Sarah Kahsay, a midwife at Ullevl University Hospital in Oslo, told newspaper Aftenposten that she and her colleagues have tried to help around 260 girls and women during the past three years.

Kahsay, of the National Competence Center for Minorities’ Health at Ullevl, said that 90 percent of the girls and women are ethnic Somalians. Female genital mutilation has also been found, she said, among female patients from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Gambia and Senegal.

The mutilation also seems to have spread to the Kurdish community, with Kahsay mentioning that Norwegian Church Aid has claimed it’s a problem for females from Northern Iraq. “Reports we’ve had from our health stations (in the Oslo area) involve Kurdish girls as young as 11 and 12, who’ve been circumcised,” Kahsay said.

The girls and women have almost always said the circumcision, which is illegal in Norway, occurred before they emigrated. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported over the weekend, however, that an alarming number of young girls born or living in Norway have been taken back to Somalia during school holiday periods and subjected to circumcision.

The agonized screams of one young girl being forcibly held down while her genitals were being cut shook Norwegian viewers and has led to a political outcry on the issue. There have been calls for increased enforcement of the law prohibiting female circumciscion, a fatwa against the practice, and regular medical checks of young girls believed to be at risk.

By Arild M. Jonassen and Nina Berglund

Lifted and published by African Press in Norway(APN)/ African Press International(API) source.aftenposteneng

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Berserking Mom during girl’s soccer

Posted by African Press International on June 30, 2007

A furious mother charged onto the field during a girl’s soccer game in northern Norway last weekend. A 13-year-old girl from Bardufoss was physically attacked by the enraged woman during a football tournament.

Not content with shouting insults at the opposing team from Bardufoss, the woman stormed onto the pitch.

“A female parent from the visiting team came running onto the pitch and attacked a 13-year-old. She pushed the 13-year-old onto the ground, so the girl was lying on her back,” Tor Eriksen of the Bardufoss regional sports association (BOIF) told NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting).

The BOIF girls were called a range of nasty names, and were also told to “get their ugly asses off the field”, NRK reports.

The excitable mother from Troms was not content with insults and flinging a girl to the ground, she then took a stranglehold on the referee and had to be restrained by BOIF leaders.

“The referee was completely “shaky”, and the players were crying,” Eriksen said.

The Troms team leader would not comment on the matter, which has been reported to regional football authorities.

Lifted and published by African Press in Norway(APN)/ African Press International(API) Source.Aftenposteneng

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Faulty tunnel to reopen soon

Posted by African Press International on June 29, 2007

Norway’s transport minister confirmed Thursday that the Hanekleiv Tunnel, part of a key motorway between Oslo and the south coast, will finally reopen July 6.

Tunnels on the E-18 highway through Vestfold are due to reopen July 6.


The tunnel has been closed since last Christmas, when part of it collapsed. Other tunnels along the E-18 highway were also closed after inspectors deemed them in need of reinforcement as well.

Work to reinforce the tunnels and get them reopened has been going on ever since, in an effort to ease traffic congestion on a route thats one of the most heavily used in Norway during the summer months. That’s when tens of thousands travel to summer homes along the coast known as Srlandet.

Only one of the two parallel tunnels will reopen, meaning traffic from the four-and six-lane stretches of the motorway will need to funnel into two lanes. Thats bound to cause congestion, but its better than forcing all the summer traffic back onto the old two-lane highway that runs through the towns of Sande and Holmestrand.

A meeting Thursday between the state highway department and construction firm Veidekke set July 6 as the reopening date, and ruled out further delays.

The tunnels were built in 2003 and their troubles have been a major embarrassment to Norwegian officials who pride themselves on tunnel construction.

Lifted and published by African Press in Norway(APN)/ African Press International(API) Source.aftenpostenEng

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Bail for Pakistan – same sex pair

Posted by African Press International on June 29, 2007


Shumail Raj

Doctors say Raj is still a woman, despite sex change operations

Pakistan’s Supreme Court has ordered that a couple jailed for perjury in a row over the husband’s sex should be released on bail, their lawyers say.The ruling came after a judge agreed to hear appeals against the convictions.

The couple say they are man and wife, but the Lahore high court ruled last month that the husband was, in fact, a woman, despite sex-change surgery.

The case is thought the first of its kind in Pakistan where homosexuality and trans-sexuality are largely taboo.


Shumail Raj, 31, had sex-change surgery to become a man and then married Shahzina Tariq, 24, a cousin.

The judgement of the high court has been suspended and the Supreme Court has ordered their release

Lawyer Babar Awan

She was aware of his condition but says she needed his help to avoid being forced into wedlock with someone else.

The couple originally sought the protection of the courts but were arrested last month after the bride’s family questioned whether Raj was a man.

Judges in Lahore jailed the couple for three years and fined them 10,000 Pakistani rupees ($165).

They found that the couple had lied about Raj’s sexual status and said their marriage was un-Islamic because it was same-sex.

But on Thursday, the couple’s lawyers said the judgement of the high court had been suspended

“The Supreme Court has ordered their release,” said lawyer Babar Awan, Reuters news agency reports.

Bail is reported to have been set at 50,000 rupees ($825) each.

No date has been given for the appeal hearing to begin.

‘Against Islam’

Raj is reported to have undergone surgery twice in Pakistan over the past 16 years to become a man.

Shumail Raj (left) and Shahzina Tariq

Shumail Raj (left) and Shahzina Tariq appealed to the president

But tests carried out by doctors on behalf of the Lahore high court ruled that Raj, who has a beard and moustache, was still a woman.

Raj himself says that he needs to go abroad for more treatment even though his breasts and uterus have been removed.

Ms Tariq’s family wants to annul the wedding on the grounds that it is against Islam for two women to marry.

But the couple argue that they married to protect the bride from being sold into marriage to pay off her uncle’s gambling debts.

Ms Tariq says they are not homosexuals and they married because they are in love.

Lifted and published by African Press in Norway(APN)/ African Press International(API) Source: BBC

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South Africa’s main trade unions have ended their four-week strike, which has closed most of the country’s schools and hospitals.

Posted by African Press International on June 29, 2007

South Africa’s main trade unions have ended their four-week strike, which has closed most of the country’s schools and hospitals. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has decided to accept the government’s offer of a 7.5% pay rise – they had demanded 9%.

The government had originally offered 6%, while the unions had wanted 12%.

Correspondents say it has been the biggest strike since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Cosatu said the strike, which involved hundreds of thousands of people, had been a “historic turning point in the lives of public-sector workers”.

“This combination of unity and militancy means that never again will the employer dare to treat us with the callous indifference they have displayed in the past and during this dispute, until they were forced to compromise when confronted by the militancy and determination of their workforce,” it said.

Before the decision was announced, one union official told the Business Day newspaper that teachers wanted to end the strike, as school holidays had started.

Strikers in South Africa

In pictures: SA strike

Strike voices

Unions flex their muscles

But a Cosatu statement said that teaching unions were not prepared to sign the deal and would continue talks with the government.

On Monday, two independent unions pulled out of the strike, accusing Cosatu of being “greedy and opportunistic”, saying the 7.5% offer was “fantastic”.

The labour movement accuses the government of promoting big business at the expenses of poor South Africans.

BBC correspondent in Johannesburg Peter Biles says the strike has been hugely disruptive and many workers are beginning to feel the impact caused by the loss of wages.

Economists estimate that the cost to South Africa’s economy could be as much as 3bn rand ($418m).

Inflation fears and resulting interest rate hikes have prompted the central bank to warn against large wage increases.

Lifted and published by African Press in Norway(APN)/ African Press International(API) Source:BBC

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Lockerbie bomber granted permission to appeal

Posted by African Press International on June 28, 2007


Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi

Megrahi’s lawyers maintain he was a victim of a miscarriage of justice

The man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing has been granted leave to make a second appeal.Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi was jailed for the 1988 atrocity in which 270 people died when Pan-Am flight 103 exploded over the Scottish town.

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, which has been investigating Megrahi’s case since 2003, recommended the second appeal.

In light of the review findings, the Libyan reiterated his innocence.

The commission is responsible for looking into possible miscarriages of justice.

It said the Lockerbie review, which cost 1.1m, was a “difficult” one to deal with.

The chief executive of the group, Gerard Sinclair, said it was the “longest, the most expensive and singularly most complex case we have had to investigate and review”.

There were four main areas for referring the case back to court.

They included the “reasonableness” of the court’s verdict; additional evidence; new evidence and “other” evidence.

Scotland’s Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini said it was inappropriate for her to comment on the basis of the commission’s decision.

Year away

However, she added that she had appointed Ronald Clancy QC and advocate Nick Gardiner as the Crown’s counsel in the event of an appeal going ahead.

It is likely to be held in Scotland before a panel of three judges and is unlikely to be heard for about a year.

The commission had the option to refer the case to the High Court for a second appeal or reject the submissions by Megrahi’s lawyers.

The Glasgow-based body looked at the way Megrahi’s defence was carried out, as well as the way the panel of three judges handled the case.

Announcing the decision, the chairman of the commission, the Very Reverend Dr Graham Forbes, said: “The commission has a very special role within the Scottish criminal justice system and has been given extensive statutory powers to enable it to carry out this role.

“The function of the commission is not to decide upon the guilt or innocence of an applicant.

“We are neither pro-Crown nor pro-defence. Our role is to examine the grounds of review identified, either by the applicant, a third party, or by our own investigations, and to decide whether any of the grounds meet our statutory test.”


Crash scene


Megrahi said in a statement on Thursday that he was never in any doubt that he would be allowed a fresh appeal.

He added: “I was not involved in the Lockerbie bombing whatsoever.

“I am confident that when the full picture is put before the ultimate arbiters, the Lords Commissioners of Justiciary, I shall finally be recognised as an innocent man.”

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond said the ability to look into alleged miscarriages of justice was a vital part of the criminal justice system, adding that it was now time to allow the independent legal process to take its course.

He told the Scottish Parliament: “Let us never forget that 270 men, women and children lost their lives in December 1988. Whatever the eventual outcome of this process, their loss can never be recovered.”


People in Lockerbie give their opinion on the appeal decision

In detail

Lawyers representing Megrahi have always maintained he was the victim of a miscarriage of justice.

He has already had one appeal following his conviction in January 2001.

That was heard at Kamp van Zeist, the former Dutch air base where he and his co-accused, Al-amin Khalifa Fhima, were tried.

Mr Fhima was acquitted and flew home to Tripoli.

Megrahi’s appeal was rejected in March 2002 and since then he has been held in Gateside Prison in Greenock.

On 21 December 1988, the Boeing 747 was en route from London to New York when it exploded in mid-air.

All 259 people on board were killed, along with 11 people on the ground.

Lifted and published by African Press in Norway(APN/ African Press International(API) Source.BBC

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Vote dashes Immigration plan

Posted by African Press International on June 28, 2007


US border police make an arrest

President Bush’s bill proposed tougher border controls

The US Senate has blocked a vote on a landmark immigration bill, dealing a major blow to one of President George W Bush’s key policy planks.Senators rejected a motion to take the bill to a final vote – meaning action on the planned law is now unlikely until the presidential poll in 2008.

President Bush had argued the bill would give the immigration system a much-needed overhaul.

But its conservative opponents said it gave an amnesty to illegal immigrants.

The planned law would have enabled some of the millions of illegal immigrants already living within the US to eventually seek citizenship.

It would have also offered some would-be migrants the chance to apply for a guest-worker programme.

The bill also proposed tougher border controls to prevent more illegal immigrants from entering the country.

‘Stunning’ defeat

Fifty-three members of the 100-seat Senate voted against limiting debate on the immigration bill and taking it to a final vote.

President Bush

The American people understand the status quo is unacceptable when it comes to our immigration laws

President Bush

Q&A: US immigration debate

US illegal immigrants: Facts

Much of the opposition came from conservatives within President Bush’s Republican party, as well as from Democratic senators who represent conservative areas.

In a brief statement after the vote, President Bush said immigration was a burning issue for the American people and “Congress’ failure to act on it is a disappointment”.

“The American people understand the status quo is unacceptable when it comes to our immigration laws,” he said.

“A lot of us worked hard to see if we couldn’t find common ground. It didn’t work.”

The Senate now goes into summer recess.

According to the BBC’s Washington correspondent, Justin Webb, Thursday’s vote marks a stunning political defeat for the president.

He says the Senate vote could open the floodgates, heralding a series of defeats for the president’s other plans – including a potential troop surge in Iraq.

And it leaves unsolved the controversial and highly emotive issue of immigration, our correspondent says.

Security priority

Business leaders and lobbyists for immigration reform voiced upset at the result.

“We were looking to politicians for leadership on this issue, and there has been none and it’s deeply disappointing,” Sheridan Bailey, a co-founder of Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform, told Reuters news agency.

“It’s like in Vietnam when they said ‘we had to destroy the village to save it,’ – well, here they are destroying the economy to save the U.S. border,” Mr Bailey said.

But opponents of the bill said the vote highlighted citizens’ concerns that boosting border security was the biggest priority.

Americans want “action, they want results, they want proof, because they’ve heard all the promises before,” Republican Senator David Vitter told the AFP news agency.

Lifted and published by African Press in Norway(APN)/ African Press International(API) Source. BBC

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Obiora controversy continues – was his death police brutality?

Posted by African Press International on June 26, 2007

Public pressure to have a full investigation into the death of Norwegian-Nigerian Eugene Obiora, who died during an arrest in Trondheim last September, continues to mount on several fronts.

In Bergen the International Socialists (IS) were the latest group to out the policeman who made the arrest, naming him in posters put up around the city.

The policeman has already been identified in a number of blogs and private web sites.

“We really don’t think that this is a good way of identifying him and we also see that it affects his family. But the police commissioner of Trondheim and the Special Unit for Police Affairs have the responsibility for this matter. The policeman should have been suspended from his position and the case properly investigated,” Odd Arild Viste of IS told newspaper Bergensavisen’s web site.

The Special Unit dismissed the case against the four Trondheim officers involved in the fatal arrest, a decision that has sparked protest across the country.

The Bergen stunt aims to create a public debate on racism and violence among police.

At the same time, Lawyer Abid Raja claimed that one of the officers involved in the arrest teaches arrest techniques at the Police Academy.

Raja, who represents Obiora’s surviving family, argued that this position should have made the officer especially aware of the consequences of abuse of force, newspaper Klassekampen reports.

Raja said that he feels this supports his demand for an indictment of willful murder in the Obiora case.

Communications adviser Torill Gulbrandsen at the Police Academy told Klassekampen that the information was being investigated.

Lifted and published by African Press in Norway(APN)/ African Press International(API) Source: AftenpostenENG

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State officials have ordered a special agency to reopen a probe of alleged police brutality

Posted by African Press International on June 26, 2007

State officials have ordered a special agency to reopen a probe of alleged police brutality, and investigate more thoroughly the death of immigrant Eugene Obiora.

The original police investigation of Eugene Obiora’s death has prompted widespread protests, as did the death itself.


Obiora was a 48-year-old native of Nigeria who died after police in Trondheim used a special maneuver to subdue him, after he’d created a disturbance in a social welfare office.

An internal affairs division within the police (Spesialenheten for politisaker) investigated the death, which has prompted public protests and charges of police brutality. The probe concluded that the officers involved hadn’t intentionally carried out any measures that would have stopped or hindered Obiora from breathing. No case was brought against the officers.

Now the state’s Director General of Public Prosecutions (Riksadvokaten) has said it needs more information on the case, and wants more thorough questioning of witnesses, the police officers involved and what the police knew about the risks of using a controversial grip around his throat that led to his suffocation.

“The goal is to gather more information… to evaluate whether any offenses have been committed on the part of the police,” said state prosecutor Tor-Aksel Busch on Thursday afternoon.


Lifted and published by African Press in Norway(APN) /African Press International(API) Source:AftenpostenEng

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Recouping costs in three years

Posted by African Press International on June 25, 2007

The troubled Snhvit (Snow White) project has struggled with cost overruns and construction delays, but now Statoil is optimistic again.

The Arctic natural gas project will make back its costs in three years according to Statoil project leader Odd Mosbergvik.

“Snhvit will provide revenues of USD 2.5 billion a year. This means that the investment will be paid back in the course of three years. That’s good business. It will end well,” Mosbergvik said.

The first gas has now come on land and Statoil CEO Helge Lund is working to expand Snhvit and sell the cooled gas to Norwegian and Swedish customers.

“Before most gas went through pipes. This is a huge investment and an unwieldy system. The big advantage of liquid natural gas is that it is easier to transport and it gives us the possibility to think small-scale, via smaller LNG ships,” Lund told financial daily Dagens Nringsliv.

Lund said that LNG has made a major impact internationally and that “the battle between the continents for LNG has begun”.

Lifted and published by African Press in Norway(APN)/ African Press International(API) Source.aftenpostenEng

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Rebecca garang has revived many people’s suspicions!

Posted by African Press International on June 23, 2007

WHEN my husband died, I did not come out openly and say he was killed because I knew the consequences. At the back of my mind, I knew my husband had been assassinated.”

Those were the chilling words of Mrs. Rebecca Garang, the widow of the late liberation fighter, Dr (Col) John Garang de Mabior, leader of the SPLA/M who was killed on July 30, 2005 in a helicopter crash on the borders of Uganda, Kenya and Sudan.

The helicopter he was traveling in belonged to President Yoweri Museveni, his closest ally and comrade. I was one of many people who refused to accept the immediate conclusion then that it was an accident. Not because we missed Garang too much and found it impossible to let go which we did but because the explanation was too obvious.

If anyone wanted to kill Garang (and there were many forces) there was no better cover for an almost perfect crime than for him to be traveling unofficially in the helicopter of his closest ally.

Since Khartoum did not officially know that he was leaving the capital, anyone of the many vested interests who felt threatened by Garang’s messianic entry into Khartoum early in July that trip provided your best opportunity.

Mrs. Garang has now thrown wide open what many had been suspecting. All the inquiries so far have ‘concluded’ that it was pilot error, bad weather, and other technical conclusions but the death was political. So who could have done it?

My first suspect was and remains the extremist wing of the government and Northern hegemonists in the security and intelligence of the country. Their heart must have shaken and their desperation further heightened by the tumultuous welcome from all Sudanese commitment to creating a new Sudan when he arrived in Khartoum to be sworn in on July 9, 2005.

They must have seen their world collapsing before their eyes. A Black prophet arising from the South must seem like

the end of the world for them. Garang was not the first Black Sudanese to have been made Vice President. Khartoum has had a succession of Black poodles willing to be tools of misrule against their people and the whole of Sudan.

But in John Garang, a formidable personality who had distinguished himself both militarily and politically, the hegemonists shook at what would happen to their rule were Garang to have the opportunity to reshape the country because he could be no one’s errand boy.

For Sudanese democrats he was a bridge of hope with the potential of turning the country into a genuinely democratic environment where the Sudanese might, in the Martin Luther King hope, ‘be judged not by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character’ .

The enemies of hope had to act and act quickly before goodness broke out in a country that has been in conflict for most of its post-independence (1956) existence. Khartoum is not the only suspect in Garang’s death.

Chief among other suspects could be the extremist wing of Southern nationalists whose agenda was to secede from the Sudan and may have had great fears that Garang’s commitment to creating a new Sudan uniting the North and the South was a betrayal. Plausible but not probable. They needed Garang and backed him in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which gave them the option of full independence by referendum in the course of the six-year term of the agreement.

Mrs. Garang is herself a believer in South Sudan independence, and between her and her husband they agreed to disagree on this issue. therefore it is highly unlikely that Southern nationalists killed Garang.

Mrs. Garang made her public disclosure at an award ceremony by the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation (JOOF) in Nairobi, Kenya. The late Garang had been honoured with a posthumous Uhuru Award for his contribution to the liberation struggles of Africa.

Prof. Dani Wadada Nabudere was the guest speaker on the theme of Conflict as a Catalyst For Cange. It was not just about her husband’s death that Rebecca Garang spoke. Her speech also touched on a number of sensitive issues across Africa. One of them is how we treat partners of our heroes. Often they are not seen as persons in their own right. They may have been married to heroes but some of them have a place in the struggle in their own rights.

Mrs. Garang spoke from the heart but not as a grieving widow, rather as a combatant. She disclosed the embarrassing fact that that award by the JOOF was the first time that Garang was being honoured by an African organisation.

What does this tells us about the way in which we treat our heroes and heroines? Garang was the recipient of many awards from all kinds of people in Europe and North America but his first award from Africa is posthumous and even then from an independent foundation. Is this yet another case of a prophet having honor but not in his village or in his lifetime?

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Norway Gov’t Expresses Interest to Invest in Liberia

Posted by African Press International on June 23, 2007

From our Africa correspondent

J. Cholo Brooks/Liberia

The government of Norway has asked the Liberian Government to determine what level of assistance is needed to enable that country provide further assistance to Liberia.

At a meeting on Tuesday with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the Foreign Ministry, Norway pledged its continuous support towards the countrys development initiatives. Norway has also pledged to open an embassy in Liberia soon.

According to an Executive Mansion release, the assurances were made on Tuesday by the Norwegian Minister for Development, Mr. Erik Solheim, when he paid a courtesy call on President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

Accompanied by Liberias Foreign Minister, Ambassador George Wallace, Minister Solheim said his government was interested in providing more support toward Liberias emergency power program as well as other areas which may be identified for additional assistance.

The Norwegian envoy said, the overall objective is to assist President Johnson-Sirleaf and the Liberian people in rebuilding the country.

President Johnson-Sirleaf, in response, briefed Minister Solheim on her governments four pillars for its development agenda. The President said Liberias debt issue, represents a constraint in the countrys ability to adequately move forward.

President Johnson Sirleaf thanked the Norwegian Government for its assistance to the electric Power Program, but added that the program is still in an emergency phase. The ultimate goal, the President said is to find a permanent solution to address power shortage in the country.

The President emphasized that her vision for the country is to move Liberia to the manufacturing process in areas of the countrys comparative advantage.

Also present at the meeting were Lands, Mines and Energy Minister Dr. Eugene Shannon, Planning and Economic Affairs Minister Dr. Toga McIntosh and Presidential Economic Advisor Dr. Lawrence Clarke.

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Posted by African Press International on June 23, 2007

From Our Africa Correspondent

J. Cholo Brooks/Liberia

The African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have both restored all rights belonging to Liberia at their respective functions, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has disclosed.
Liberia has been indebted to the two organizations for some 20 years in dues payment. As a result, Liberias voting and speaking rights were terminated. Last year President Sirleaf was barred from speaking at an ECOWAS summit, a situation that she termed embarrassing.
The bans have been totally lifted and our rights to speak have been fully restored, President Sirleaf told reporters Monday in Congo Town, outside Monrovia.
She attributed the lifting of the restrictions to the ability of the government to pay all obligations to these organizations from the period of the National Transitional Government of Liberia (2004) to present.
She said the two organizations waived all of Liberias debt beyond 2004. She said by imposing the Import Levy tax on goods coming into Liberia from non-ECOWAS countries, Liberia is able to meet its obligations to ECOWAS.

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