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Archive for August 18th, 2007

Hillary Clinton on her way to the White House

Posted by African Press International on August 18, 2007

Race for ’08: Clinton widens her lead in California

New survey shows Clinton dominating the Democratic field in California – Obama said to be losing his luster

By Peter Hecht – Bee Capitol Bureau

Last Updated 5:06 am PDT Friday, August 17, 2007
Story appeared in MAIN NEWS section, Page A4

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton is expanding her lead in California as excitement for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is fading among Golden State voters, a new Field Poll revealed Thursday.

The New York senator held a commanding lead over the Democratic field, with 49 percent support to 19 percent for Obama and 10 percent for former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards.

The survey of 418 Californians likely to vote in the Feb. 5 Democratic presidential primary showed Clinton leading — and gaining support — in every demographic category and California region measured.

As Clinton’s stock among Democratic primary voters increased from 41 percent in March, support for Obama dropped by nine points and Edwards by three.

“Apparently, Hillary has been faring well on the campaign trail. That’s really what you have to attribute it to,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the California Field Poll.

By contrast, DiCamillo said Obama is losing luster with California voters since he burst onto the scene as the “the new face” drawing thousands of people to campaign rallies in Oakland and Los Angeles.

“I think what may be happening is that voters are filling in the blanks” as they learn more about Obama, DiCamillo said. “For some voters, maybe he is not as liberal as they wanted him to be and, for others, maybe he is not as conservative.

“He was a shooting star at the beginning of the campaign. Now he is coming down to Earth.”

Since March, Clinton has picked up support in particular among male voters and younger voters.

In the last state Field Poll, Obama led Clinton 39 percent to 38 percent among voters between the ages of 18 and 39. In the new poll, Clinton led him among the younger voters by 47 percent to 24 percent.

Meanwhile, she expanded her support among male Democrats from 41 percent in March to 47 percent in the latest poll taken Aug. 3-12.

The California poll results were similar to a recent national Gallup Poll, in which Clinton led among Democrats with 48 percent support to 16 percent for Obama and 12 percent for Edwards.

Officials of the Obama campaign have said they are counting on winning in early primary states — he led in recent polls in Iowa and South Carolina — to stir momentum for California. Obama has also outperformed Clinton in campaign fundraising this year.

But Luis Vizcaino, Clinton’s California campaign spokesman, said her showing in the state Field Poll “reflects the amount of time, effort and commitment she has dedicated to California.”

In the state’s coastal counties, Clinton led with 48 percent to 19 percent for Obama and 11 percent for Edwards. She fared even better in inland counties, leading with 52 percent support to 17 percent for Obama and 7 percent for Edwards.

In a poll of likely Nov. 4, 2008, general election voters of all parties, Clinton also fared well against the top GOP contenders. In hypothetical matchups, she led former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani by 52 percent to 37 percent among California voters, held a 55 percent to 35 percent lead over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and led by the same margin over undeclared candidate and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson.

Obama led by 48 percent to 38 percent over Giuliani, 53 percent to 31 percent over Romney and 52 percent to 32 over Thompson. Edwards led Giuliani 47 percent to 42 percent, Romney by 52 percent to 33 percent and Thompson by 55 percent to 30 percent.

“There has been a lot of discussion about the fact that Hillary, if she were the nominee, would become a very divisive candidate and that would harm her general election chances,” DiCamillo said. “But you really see no evidence of a greater weakness of a Clinton candidacy, compared to Obama or Edwards, against the leading Republicans.”

Field Poll respondent and Fair Oaks resident Dan Wangberg, a Democrat who says he narrowly favors Clinton over Obama, said he very much can envision another Clinton in the White House.

“I think Bill Clinton was a great president, and now it’s the same as they said in 1992: You get two for one,” Wangberg said.

But poll respondent Jeff McMurray, a Placer County Republican who backs Giuliani, said he hopes the former mayor can “play better” in California because he is more politically moderate than many in his party. “I would vote for a standing rib roast over Hillary Clinton,” McMurray added. “Really, I’m less of a Giuliani supporter than an anyone-but-Hillary.”

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Leaders without vision scramble for the remains of ODM-Kenya

Posted by African Press International on August 18, 2007

A Standard.ke story by Oscar Obonyo

Former Vice-President Mr Musalia Mudavadi is the centre of new attention in ODM after this weeks developments that have locked out Mwingi North MP and presidential aspirant Mr Kalonzo Musyoka.

During a meeting of parliamentary aspirants and supporters of Mudavadi from Western Province at a location along Nairobis Ngong Road this week, the former Vice-President was grilled and challenged on a number of issues.

The emotionally charged crowd wanted Mudavadi to form his own political vehicle and go for the presidency. Some asked why he appeared to be giving in to other contestants or whether he had secretly agreed to a power-sharing arrangement.

But Mudavadi, who says the pressure is “well meaning” from supporters who want him to get an opportunity to serve in the countrys top office, also raised critical questions.

He asked the supporters during the Thursday meeting three pertinent questions: “Do you want to stay in ODM? Is my presidential candidature more attractive in ODM or outside ODM? Do you want me to pick one of the 200 registered parties and storm Muliro Gardens and declare myself unopposed presidential candidate?”

All the questions received a loud No for an answer from an audience that had initially been emotional.

“We are in politics and I am not expecting anything on a silver platter. Even those of you in the parliamentary race equally expect competition and you are aware that you may not be MPs next year,” he said.

Mudavadi maintains that he is not looking for a ticket to be an unopposed presidential candidate since there are other challengers.

“What we should agree is that we should battle competitively to win,” he said.

“We should not undermine democracy by insisting that if one of our own is not the presidential candidate then we shall move out of the party or vote for (President) Kibaki,” he advised his audience.

“What is the value of my candidature if I cannot get the support of Raila, Ruto, Balala and their followers? And equally, what will be the value of the candidature of, say, Ruto, if he cannot rely on my supporters once we choose a flag bearer?” he posed.

Join me in the hunt

Talking to his audience and to The Saturday Standard later in an interview, the former VP wondered why the pressure is on him yet he is not the first or the only politician to have stepped down in favour of a challenger.

In the run-up to the 2002 General Election, the late Michael Wamalwa also from the Luhya community stepped down in favour of Kibaki who went on to become President, Mudavadi argued.

The former VP also pointed out that former Vice-President Prof George Saitoti, Raila and Kalonzo equally gave up their ambitions “yet nobody is pointing an accusing finger in their direction”.

Mudavadis challenged his community, saying that its members want to be in government but few are saying they want to form the Government.

“Why cant they join the (Musikari) Kombo side if they do not believe in my side instead of adopting the “wait-and-see” attitude?” he asked.

“They want me to run around and kill the animal before jumping in to share it with me. I ask them to join me in the hunt,” he added.

In a candid interview with The Saturday Standard, the former VP was clear on where the party is headed and what the problem was.

Mudavadi says the party is better off now and has the synergy to move on as one without the Kalonzo-led wing of ODM-Kenya.

Mudavadi, however, confesses that the departure of Kalonzo has “in some way” slowed down the ODM political hype.

“We are sticking together because the Kalonzo experience has taught us that our strength lies in our unity. It is largely in the image we present out there as a team,” he said.

The problem in ODM, he said, was that “we have some individuals who simply want to be in the next Government but who are not keen on helping us form that Government.”

Referring to Kalonzos exit, Mudavadi said:

“It might even be difficult for him to address a rally outside his home area and most of us do not want to go through that.”

In the meantime Mudavadi is faced with pressure from western Kenya MPs and their supporters who insist that this time around he must not chicken out of the presidential race. Indeed this was the call of MPs from the region, who met at the Nairobi Club on Thursday morning.

“We have given him a chance to try his luck, however, if he hits the wall then we shall come in to stage our campaigns,” says former Lugari MP, Mr Cyrus Jirongo, who is chairman of Kaddu.

In the final days before the five presidential aspirants agreed to move on without Kalonzo, they came up with a new line-up that gave Mudavadi the position of first Vice-President.

That position came with the promise that the colleagues in the partys presidential race would support him in 2012 should he play along now, a commitment they believe President Kibaki can neither make nor keep.

The initial deal agreed to by Ruto, Raila, Balala and Nyagah gave Raila the presidential ticket. It entailed some significant concessions by the Langata MP, and also gave Kalonzo the running mates ticket.

This deal was also to give way to picking of a flag bearer through a reduced number of delegates should negotiators fail to agree.

Kalonzo and Mudavadi initially rejected it. But when Kalonzo went round and forged an alliance with Dr Julia Ojiambo, Mudavadi closed ranks with the other presidential aspirants.

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Kenyan herdsmen tortured by Ugandan soldiers

Posted by African Press International on August 18, 2007

By Osinde Obare

Karingamwal Lomoyatwala, 34, had crossed into Uganda many times but had never imagined he would be detained one day.

The mission was to ensure his large head of cattle got enough pasture from the green fields across the border.

Together with other Pokot warriors, Lomoyatwala was always prepared to thwart any danger from Karamojong warriors.

He had fought and won many battles against the ferocious Ugandan warriors in the past. It had therefore never crossed his mind that he would be held hostage in the neighbouring country.

The Pokot live on both sides of the border. They therefore do not understand why an invisible boundary should stop them from freely wandering on the land between Kacheliba, Kenya, and Moroto, Uganda.

So when he and other Pokot warriors set out to graze their animals in Uganda last month, it was just like any other mission.

There was no pasture on the Kenyan side and they needed to feed their animals, which are their only source of livelihood.

But this mission did not go as smoothly as their previous ones.

July 18 remains etched in the minds of Lomoyatwala and his friend, Paul Ngorikamal. Their tribulations started at about 10am as soon as they drove their cattle across the border.

They had just driven the herds to Moroto bushes and taken vantage positions to protect the animals from the predatory Karamojong.

But little did they know that danger lurked in the form of Uganda People Defence Force (UPDF) soldiers, who were conducting disarmament.

All hell broke loose when about 50 hawked-eyed soldiers emerged from the bush and surrounded them.

“They swooped on us like vultures. It took us by surprise. We could not respond because they were pointing their guns at very close range,” said Lomoyatwala.

The heavily armed soldiers seized the group with the animals and made them walk a long distance that ended at UPDF barracks.

“It was a long, tiring journey that took many hours until night fall,” says Lomoywatala.

The soldiers ordered Lomoywatala and Ngorikamal to lie down, and tied their hands with ropes.

“My heart was racing,” says Lomoyatwala.

Although he is not a Christian, the warrior prayed for protection from God.

“We considered ourselves dead because we did not think we would leave alive,” he says.

Bundled into a bunker

He then pauses, frowns and wrinkles his forehead, recollecting the details.

“Yes, we were breathing but we considered ourselves dead. Whenever we heard a slight movement, we thought it was our final moment,” says Lomaywatala.

Their abductors then handed them over to five soldiers who led them to a grass-thatched mud hut where they were bundled into a bunker. They later realised this was a cell. Lomoywatala and Ngorikamal spent the night in the cold cell without any food until the following morning when a soldier ordered them out.

Armed soldiers then escorted them to a nearby borehole where they were ordered to draw water. They carried the water in buckets to a hut used as a kitchen by the UPDF soldiers.

The two were later given a cup of porridge, which turned out to be their only meal for the day.

The herdsmen were then taken to another hut where two soldiers interrogated them.”They asked us about our background, the kind of firearms we had at home and how we had got them,” says Ngorikamal. This went on for days, during which the two had to do without their favourite food; milk and meat.

Porridge remained their only meal.

“We were treated like slaves. I remember only one lucky day when we were served ugali and two pieces of meat,” says Lomoyatwala. Their misery was compounded by the fate of their families.

“The Ugandans had taken all our livestock and we kept asking ourselves what our wives and children were eating,” narrates Lomoyatwala.

Pokot families depend heavily on milk.

“More torturing was that we could hear our cows mooing from where they were kept. I thought of my two-year-old son, Edabal Lokerisi, and wondered what he was surviving on,” says Ngorikamal, a father of four.

The two were caught in the forcible disarmament, launched by the Ugandan government.

The exercise, that has gone on for seven years, is in the Karamoja region, where about 200,000 guns are in the hands of pastoral communities.

A recent report by the Catholic Church Peace and Justice Commission says 50,000 illegal firearms are in Pokot North and West Pokot districts.

The arms have fuelled cross-border cattle raids and made the border volatile.

For decades, hundreds of residents have been killed and livestock lost. Lomoywatala and Ngorikamal were released by the UPDF after two weeks.

Their freedom came after pressure from the Kenyan Government and humanitarian organisations, following reports that they were tortured and starved.

A ceremony to free them was held at Karita centre, 70 metres from the barracks where the two had been detained.

Ugandan President Yoweri Musevenis advisor on the disarmament programme, Mr Michael Lokawua, Nakapirirprit Resident District Commissioner, Mr Michael Bwalatum, and top UPDF officials attended the ceremony.

The hostages were received by Assistant minister, Mr Samuel Moroto, Kacheliba MP, Mr Samuel Poghisio, Pokot North District Commissioner, Mr Joseph Motari, and Rev John Lodinyo, among others.

The Ugandans also returned 52 head of cattle belonging to the two men. The owners confirmed the number of the cattle before driving them away. Since June, over 70 people have been killed in cattle rustling at the border.

The situation has been exacerbated by the UPDF disarmament. The soldiers have thrice crossed into Kenya to pursue villagers.

Children do not attend school

The first incursion was reported in June when Ugandan soldiers, aided by jet fighters, crossed 26 km inside Kenya at Nasal, in Alale, and fired rockets at villagers, killing four. The soldiers captured eight herdsmen and confiscated 500 cattle, which were led to Loro and Katikekile barracks in Moroto district. A week later, they struck Orolwo village, where they shot three people dead and injured two, before abducting over 30 others. Over 1,700 head of cattle were driven to Karita army barrack.

The situation worsened when the soldiers raided Asilong village, killing five people and driving away cattle.

The sustained raids have angered Pokot leaders who are now accusing the government of indifference.

During the cattle handover ceremony, Pokot County MP Mr Francis Kiyonga, of Uganda, sided with the Kenyan leaders. He clashed with top Ugandan government officials, accusing UPDF of biased raids against Kenyans.

The insecurity has derailed development in the region, with respective governments being accused of ignoring the areas.

Many children from Uganda and Kenya in the region do not attend school, and instead help graze cattle.

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ODM-Kenya confussion – Chairman interviewed

Posted by African Press International on August 18, 2007

Q and A
Nation Publication Date: 8/18/2007

QUESTION: Would you relinquish the ODM-K chairmanship to Henry Kosgey if your candidate, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, is given the ODM-K presidential ticket?-Bernard Kibet Langat, Nairobi

ANSWER: Yes, so long as the legal process and our partys constitution are complied with in doing so.

Is it true that you are Mr Musyokas stooge in ODM-K?

-Kayila, Mombasa

I am my own man and driven by democratic passion and the rule of law.

Should you not take moral responsibility for splitting the well set ODM-K by supporting your favourite candidate for president?

-Fredrick Correa, Nairobi.

I do not support any particular candidate for presidency in ODM-K and, all I have been involved in is ensuring that we follow our party constitution and the law in effecting any changes as regards ODM-K officials.

Why didnt you appear in court on Friday so that the court could make a decision on the ODM-K leadership wrangle?

– Elijah Ongori, Ritembu.

I was in court but the atmosphere was such that the court could not conduct session because of hooliganism and my life and that of other persons were at risk. I filed legal proceedings to protect the integrity and the constitution of ODM-K.

Do you support Mr Musyoka because you come from the same ethnic group?

-Alex Seketo, Kajiado

No. It is a coincident that I come from the same tribe as Mr Musyoka, but as stated earlier, I stand for democracy and not support or favour the ODM-K presidential candidates.

Do you think ODM-K can survive or win without Kalonzo Musyoka?

-Arbass Sheikh, Nairobi

Yes. Just like he and/or any other presidential candidate can survive and/or win without ODM-K. But, the truth is that we all need each other if we are to achieve our political dream of being in power in 2008.

Dont you think that by withholding the partys vital documents, you are causing confusion which might make it easy for President Kibakis re-election?

-Jackson W. Muchonji, Malaba

I am not withholding the partys vital documents but pressing for democratic principles to be adhered to.

We have no business being elected to power if we cannot even comply with our partys rules and/or the law.

As chairman, why dont you call a special general meeting to sort out contentious issues in ODM-K?

-David Otieno, Naivasha

I have already called for a Special General Meeting in conformity with ODM-Ks constitution. You will soon see the results.

You sound like you are new in politics. Who really is Daniel Maanzo?

-Mercy Gakii, Nairobi

No. I am not new in politics and politics knows no age. I am a firm believer in democratic principles and in being a servant of the people. To me that is what entails politics.

But as is common knowledge, I am a lawyer by profession and will offer myself for service of my people in Makueni in this years elections. I also worked hard in 2002 to bring Narc to power as their activist and advocate.

The reason you were registered ODM-K chairman was to ensure the government doesnt deny the party registration. Why are you refusing to give way?

-Henry Ochieng, Nairobi

Thats not true. I struggled to together with others to form and register ODM-K and have not refused to give way of anything. Some non-members want to breach our constitution and the law in changing officials.

Why did you allow the Kosgey group to be registered as the bank signatories to the ODM-K account?

-Meshack Ochieng, Nairobi

It was done irregularly and without my knowledge. Had they followed the proper procedure they would have involved me.

Is it true that you secretly met President Kibaki in a scheme to bring down ODM-K?

-Allan Obiero, Kisumu

I have never met President Kibaki secretly. Those are lies peddled to defeat my noble cause for ODM-K.

Why is it necessary to hold onto documents of a political party when you are not a politician?

-Daniel Mageto Ombogo, Nairobi

Who said I am not a politician? I already answered. If you were in my position what would you have done?

In the event that Mr Musyoka is not the ODM-Ks flag bearer and we end up with Kibaki versus Raila contest, who would you support?

-Martin Okoth, Nairobi

This is confidential but I shall cast my vote accordingly if this becomes the case.

You had previously resigned voluntary as party chairman to pave the way for the interim officials. Why did you change your mind?

-John Khisa, Nairobi

That is not true. My signature and those of my fellow officials were forged.

Are you a government project in ODM-K?

-Hassan Abdalla, Garissa.

Not clear. I am not anyones project though.

Leadership is about integrity, honesty, trust and moral rectitude. How are you going to convince voters in your constituency to elect you?

-K. Ngeno, Tala

I am a strong believer of these good values plus more. I believe in the case of ODM-K I have practised them. The people of Makueni constituency will judge me by the same virtues.

There is wide speculation that Mr Musyoka is on his way out of ODM-K. Can he win the General Election without the support of ODM-Ks big five?

-Kikechi Kombo, Nairobi

As stated we all need each other, but we must not be blinded by the act of winning without complying with relevant rules in running our party affairs.

How shall we then run the government if elected, when we cannot respect the basic rule of law?

Why did the man you back, Mr Musyoka, change all of a sudden when Railas rating shot up?

-Githuku Mungai, Nairobi

At all material times Mr Musyoka stated that he was ready to support whoever would be democratically nominated in ODM-K to vie for the presidency.

ODM-K is the most popular party in Kenya at the moment. Can this be attributed to your leadership and that of Abraham Chepkonga and Lilian Aluga, or the de facto leaders?

-Bernard Kibet Langat, Nairobi

Yes. The de jure worked very well with the de facto. We performed our duties to the letter.

If there is a split in ODM-K, would your fraction align with President Kibaki?

-Fredrick Correa, Nairobi

It is in the interest of all members of ODM-K that the party stays together for it to be able to win the elections.

Do you intend to vie for a parliamentary seat in this years General Election, or are you contented as a party archivist and activist?

-John Kuria, Githunguri

I am a candidate for the Makueni parliamentary seat in 2007, and that is one reason I was very keen to participate in formation of ODM-K. It was not by accident.

You have been challenged to call a public rally at Kamukunji to test your popularity. Do you have the guts to call a meeting?

-Yahya Hassan Mohamed, Nairobi

Yes and in other parts of the country, at the opportune time.

One would think that ODM-K is running out of time to put its house in order before the General Election. Please comment.

-Wanjiku Karago, Ruiru

Time waits for no man.

In view of the imminent break-up of ODM-K, and as the registered chairman, do you feel like the villain or victim?

-Gabriel Walubengo, Nairobi

None. I feel content to have played my part in standing for the truth, justice and democracy.

Mr Maanzo, now that the man you are backing has turned down the power sharing strategy among the ODM-K presidential aspirants and has decided to sail in it alone, doesnt he fear to lose both the sky and the ground?

-Adbiwahid K. Mohamed, Habaswein

Power sharing strategy is not part of the registered constitution or the draft one. The power belongs to the people and the leaders are only trustees and servants.

They should have involved all the presidential candidates but not a few and then subject their decision in a democratic manner to all the people.

It is the most selfish way of ascending to power.

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Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea to cooperate in marine patrols

Posted by African Press International on August 18, 2007

Lagos (Nigeria) Nigeria chief of naval staff Vice Admiral Ganiyu Adekeye on Wednesday said that the Nigerian navy would cooperate with its Equatorial Guinea counterpart in a joint patrol of the Gulf of Guinea.

Receiving the Equatorial Guinea\s military delegation led by the vice minister of defence, Lt.-Gen. Anthonio Ndong, which called on him in Abuja, Adekeye said the other areas of possible cooperation were sharing of maritime information, training assistance and ship repair and upgrade.

We will be able to exchange vital information and I will be very happy if you will send two ships for us to form a joint patrol in the Gulf,\\ Adekeye said.

As neighbours, we will benefit more, considering the presence of crude oil in the area. I believe our bilateral relations and the security of the Gulf of Guinea will be enhanced,\\ he said.

The deputy director of policy and plans, Naval Headquarters, Navy Capt. Abiodun Onireti, had earlier briefed the delegation on three major areas of consideration between the two countries.

He said these were the role and organization of the naval headquarters, maintenance strategy of Gulf of Guinea and enhancement of the existing bilateral relations between the two countries.

Lt.-Gen. Anthonio Ndong said that the exchange of information between the navy of the two countries would enhance the security of the Gulf.

He said that his country was committed to having marine cooperation with Nigeria and bilateral cooperation between the defence advisers of the two countries.

We are in Nigeria to discuss in details the areas of possible cooperation between our two countries,\\ he said.

The Equatorial Guinea team is expected to visit naval establishments in Delta State, Port Harcourt and Lagos.

Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea signed a bilateral agreement on joint oil exploration in the Gulf of Guinea in 2002.

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96 Mayors, 22 General Council Chairs reinstated in Bouake

Posted by African Press International on August 18, 2007

Bouak (Cte dIvoire) About 96 Mayors and 22 Chairs of General Councils have been reinstated Thursday in Northern Cote-dIvoire under the supervision of Interior Minister, former rebel Desire Tagro, a correspondent of APA learns in the economic capital city of Cote-dIvoire.

The resettlement is taking place as part of the normalization process launched by the political agreement of Ouagadougou on March 4th in Burkina-Faso.

It is impossible for local elected officials not to be present when essential issues, under the blessing of the Ouagadougou agreement, are taking place, including the public hearings with a view to issuing suppletory birth certificates to those born in Cote-dIvoire, but that do not have birth certificates, Interior Minister Desire Tagro explained.

He underscored the important role that the local government elected officials should play.

You are in the best position to educate people on the recovered peace by showing them the way to go, he added.

The Minister of Tourism and Craft, Sidiki Konate, also spokesman of the New Forces, representing the Prime Minister at the ceremony, reiterated that the Ivorian peace process is now irreversible.

Today, we are unrolling another piece of the steamroller of the Ouagadougou political peace agreement and it is rolling smoothly here in Bouake, he said.

According to him, this action is the outright expression of the Prime Minister and the governments desire to fully and entirely implement the Ouagadougou peace agreement.

Slowly but surely, the institutional part of the agreement is being implemented. The process is now irreversible, he concluded.

Prefects and magistrates have been reinstated last June in the areas under control of the New Forces.

The next round will concern sub-prefects whose nomination and appointment order was signed last Wednesday by President Laurent Gbagbo, the Interior Minister Desire Tagro said.

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Ban Ki-Moon unveils plans for UN presence in Chad, CAR

Posted by African Press International on August 18, 2007

Washington DC (USA) U.N Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, has unveiled revised plans for the institutions presence in the troubled eastern Chad and northeast Central African Republic (CAR), APA learnt Friday.

Among other things, it recommends that the European Union (EU) despatches a military force to the region while the UN will focus on training the police force including human rights and the rule of law.

In his latest report to the Security Council on the situation in Chad and the CAR which have both been beset by widespread population displacement due to clashes between rebels and government forces, Ban recommends several major adjustments, to his earlier February plan, for a possible UN peacekeeping force.

According to the Secretary-General, the proposed mission would help the over 400,000 refugees and internally displaced civilians caught in local fighting as well as the spillover from the Darfur conflict in neighbouring Sudan.

The three main components in Bans proposal for the UN- mandated mission include a military force made up of EU troops, a new unit of Chads police and gendarmerie to maintain law and order in eastern Chad.

It also includes a broad UN presence including up toa 300-man international police that would train and advise the new Chadian police unit, military liaison officers, and experts in human rights, civil affairs and the rule of law.

The proposed mission, which would be coordinated by a UN- appointed head of mission and Secretary-Generals Special Representative, would operate in Chads Ennedi Est department and the Wadi Fira, Ouaddai and Salamat regions, in the Vakaga prefecture and the north-eastern part of Haute-Kotto prefecture in the CAR.

Ban, who made his proposals based on an assessment mission to the region, says the humanitarian situation in eastern Chad and north- eastern CAR “has shown no signs of improving” since February.

The report also said that while the number of Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad has stabilised at about 236,000, the number of internally displaced Chadians now exceeds 170,000 an increase of nearly 80,000 since December 2006.

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Posted by African Press International on August 18, 2007

Monrovia (Liberia) Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf lauded US support to Liberias recovery programme, especially toward the rehabilitation of infrastructure, security sector reform and debt relief, APA learnt.

The head of state was speaking during a luncheon she tendered Thursday for a seven-member, bi-partisan United States Congressional delegation which paid a one-day visit to Liberia.

Madam Johnson Sirleaf said the influence of the US Treasury department would be most welcome in soliciting the cooperation of non-G-8 members towards Liberias debt relief.

During the visit, the U.S lawmakers held consultative meetings with the Liberian President and senior members of her government.

The head of the delegation, Democrat representative Nita Lowey, said they were in Liberia to recommit to help the country succeed in bringing reproductive life to Liberians.

She also assured that the U.S Congress and government were committed to the reconstruction and development of Liberia.

The U.S lawmakers acknowledged the challenges facing the country, and spoke of the need for Congress to step up efforts to ensure that the government responds to the needs of the people.

In separate remarks, members of the Congressional delegation praised the Liberian leader for setting into motion a programme that would enhance national reconciliation and development.

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Sierra Leoneans begin to prepare for a run off in presidential election

Posted by African Press International on August 18, 2007

APA-Freetown (Sierra Leone) Officials of the third largest party in Sierra Leone, the Peoples Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) have denied rumours that it was closer to the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) than to the leading opposition All Peoples Congress (APC), APA learnt here Friday.

As the vote count continues along side the political tension, there are speculations that none of the leading parties will win a 55 percent of all votes cast in order to ward off a run off in the presidential and parliamentary elections that ended on 11 August 2007.

Reports from the country eastern capital, Kenema, says supporters of PMDC are frustrated over what they referred to as a possible lead by the All Peoples Congress (APC) in the presidential and parliamentary elections in the West and Northern Province of the country.

They have therefore appealed to the presidential candidate of Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), Solomon Berewa, President Kabbah and other senior party members to negotiate with the leader of PMDC to come back to the SLPP for victory.

Renowned lawyer, Charles Margai and leader of the PMDC, broke away from the SLPP after he failed in an attempt to convince party members to field him as presidential candidate.

Charles Margai is the nephew of the founder of the SLPP and had long remained a staunch supporter of the party until early last year when he broke away and formed the PMDC which is rated the third largest party in Sierra Leone.

By all indications, Margais decision to rally around the SLPP will certainly give enable the ruling party to win the presidency for third consecutive time since 1996.

Meanwhile, vote count still continues as frustration begins to be conspicuous among the political and social class in the country.

On Thursday, the Christian community urged the National Election Commission to speed up the counting process and end the stalemate that may culminate into a political disaster.

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Ugandan soldiers to train Somali army

Posted by African Press International on August 18, 2007

Kampala (Uganda) The additional forces that Uganda is sending to Somalia is not part of the peacekeeping mission but a bilateral agreement with the Somali interim government to help train the Somali army, Uganda army spokesman Major Felix Kulaigye said on Friday.

Uganda announced early this week it will send an additional 250 soldiers to strife-torn Somalia.

Kulaigye said Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) will train Somalias army as the transitional government in Mogadishu grapples with rising violence blamed on armed groups opposed to it.

He said the additional UPDF soldiers will leave for the country after the transitional government finalizes the training schedule.

Uganda is so far the only country to have deployed peacekeepers, numbering 1,600, in Somalia under the African Union peacekeeping mission to Somalia.

Published by Korir, API*APN africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.apa

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