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Archive for September 30th, 2007

Narc Kenya grapples with thorny issue of nominating candidates – a move that could jeopardise Kibaki’s chances

Posted by African Press International on September 30, 2007

Story by DAVE OPIYO
Publication Date: 9/30/2007

Narc Kenya yesterday resolved to work with other affiliate parties under the umbrella Party of National Unity (PNU) to ensure President Kibakis re-election in the December polls.

President Kibaki (centre) is welcomed by minister Prof George Saitoti (right) and Narc Kenya chairman Mr Raphael Tuju to KICC in Nairobi, where the party held its national delegates conference yesterday. Photo/PETERSON GITHAIGA

However, the thorny issue of how parliamentary and civic candidates would be nominated remained unresolved, with leaders sharply divided over the most appropriate method.

While addressing more than 3,000 delegates yesterday in Nairobi, party vice-chairman Prof Kivutha Kibwana set the ball rolling by proposing that the party holds joint nominations with the other affiliate parties to face both ODM and ODM-Kenya.

I dont see the reason why President Kibaki should be the only one elected to parliament under PNU. He will be left an orphan and that is what we dont want, said Prof Kibwana.

Im proposing that we hold joint nominations with our other partners so that we dont confuse our supporters because the future is PNU. If the President says that this is the party, then who are we not to follow him?

The Lands minister said it would be disastrous for the country should the President not be re-elected and appealed to Kenyans to give him a second chance to finish his development projects.

However, Cabinet ministers Mutua Katuku, Kiraitu Murungi, and Martha Karua held a different opinion insisting that it would be prudent for the party to field its own candidates for the civic and parliamentary seats, while jointly supporting Kibaki for the presidency.

Mr Murungi, also the partys vice chairman, said that holding joint nominations would kill the party.

And he proposed that the party should field single candidates in their stronghold while fighting it out with other parties in other areas.

Having joint nomination will definitely kill our party, which I believe we should closely and jealously guard, said Mr Murungi. Ms Karua preferred that the party fields it own candidates while supporting President Kibaki for the top seat.

As much as we are ready to work with the affiliate parties to ensure Kibakis re-election in the December polls. I still believe that we should field our own candidates, she said. However, party chairman Mr Raphael Tuju said they were still in talks with affiliate parties to seek a solution to this stalemate.

Consultations over this matter are still on. We want to come up with the best strategy to ensure the presidents re-election so Im appealing to you to be patient. We shall be making an announcement soon, said the Rarieda MP.

He announced the formation of a task force with members from all provinces to assist in coming up with a solution. However, other speakers who included Vice-President Moody Awori, Cabinet ministers Prof George Saitoti, Abdi Mohammed and Suleiman Shakombo steered clear of the issue but appealed to Kenyans to re-elect the President.

We should be proud of what we have achieved over the five years… Its time to give President Kibaki a second term in order for him to complete all his projects, said Prof Saitoti.

Lifted and published by Korir, API*APN source.nation.ke

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Kanu delegates pledge to support Kibaki – The start of unity in Kenya

Posted by African Press International on September 30, 2007

Story by LUCAS BARASA
Publication Date: 9/30/2007

President Kibakis hunt for votes yesterday took him to the party he abandoned in 1991.

President Kibaki at the Kanu National Delegates Conference at Kasarani, Nairobi, yesterday. Photo/Stephen Mudiari

The President attended Kanus National Delegates Conference at Kasarani, Nairobi, where he pleaded with the hundreds of delegates who gathered there to vote for him in the December polls.

The President waved Kanus one-finger salute as chairman Mr Uhuru Kenyatta led the delegates in endorsing him for a second term in State House.

He had arrived at Kasarani at 2 pm to a thunderous welcome.

He said he had not imagined he would work with Kanu when he took over power.

Because that is now possible, we should thank God. Lets work together for development, he said, describing Kanus support as absolutely wonderful.

Tafadhali mnipigie kura (please vote for me), he said and urged the delegates to attend todays official launch of his campaign at Nyayo National Stadium, Nairobi.

I will today sleep well, he said after the delegates pledged their support of his second tenure at State House.

He once again promised free secondary education starting next year and thanked Kenyans for paying taxes.

The mood at Kasarani was however dampened by the absence of Keiyo South MP Mr Nicholas Biwott due to what sources said was a disagreement over a proposal to create the position of party leader for him.

Mr Kenyatta told the delegates the partys constitution would be changed to create the post and announced that Mr Biwott would head Kanus national elections team and sign parliamentary and civic nomination papers.

Some delegates shouted Kibaki must go at the beginning of the event but their protests were drowned by pro-Kenyatta delegates. The master of ceremonies Mr Nick Salat also pleaded for calm and the conference progressed.

After asking the Kanu members to vote for him, President Kibaki proceeded to DP, Ford Kenya and Narc Kenya meetings on a vote-hunting mission. The President had attended a Ford People NDC on Friday.

Mr Kenyatta said the Opposition had played its key role since 2003 and that Kanu wanted to be in Government next year. He said Kanu would retain its identity despite being in the Party of National Unity.

Kanu is ready to work with you, Mr Kenyatta told the President. Mr Kenyatta also asked the President to stop using businessmen to campaign for him and instead use Kanu members at the grassroots. The Kanu chairman said he decided to throw his weight behind President Kibaki because he knew that he would not win the presidential election if he vied this year.

He said Kanu was planning to make a comeback in 2012.

We looked at where our chances and fortunes were best placed to bring our party back to power, he said.

Mr Kenyatta said Kanu had asked President Kibaki to look into eviction of people from forests and harassment of Muslims, among other issues.

He said Kanu youth would get jobs when the party joined the government next year.

The Gatundu South MP promised to lead the party campaigns for President Kibaki.

Mr Kenyatta said he would work with Mr Biwott to strengthen the party.

If we start nominations and they are free and fair, I and Biwott will sign (the certificates) to ensure fairness, he said. He cautioned Kenyans against ethnic divisions.

The resolutions read by former Mombasa Mayor Taib Ali Taib indicated that Mr Biwotts election team will comprise of representatives from all provinces.

Later at a press conference, former Mombasa mayor Mr Taib Ali Taib said the partys National Executive Committee would decide the fate of Kanu secretary general Mr William Ruto, vice-chairmen Mr Henry Kosgey, Mr Dalmas Otieno and Mr Chris Okemo who have moved to ODM.

MPs who attended included Paul Sang, Stephen Ole Ntutu, Anthony Kimetto, Jimmy Choge, Amina Abdalla, Marsden Madoka, Yusuf Haji, Naomi Shaban, Hussein Maalim, Ali Wario and Justin Muturi.

East Africa Legislative Assembly MP Sarah Godana and Cabinet minister John Koech were also present. Baringo Central MP Gideon Moi left early.

The delegates were given Kanu T-shirts and caps plus some allowances to attend todays PNU launch.

Lifted and published by Korir, API*APN source.nation.ke

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Posted by African Press International on September 30, 2007

By Amos KareithiWith a song on his lips, a wallet stuffed with currency notes and revenge in his heart, the administrator set for his mission.

His plans were simple. First would be the Mama Pima who sold mnazi (palm wine), then the bar maids in Kilifi and, if resources allowed, he would go to Mombasa.

He had secretly applied for a Sh130,000 loan. He was determined to spend every cent of the money, and then he would meet his maker.

One morning as he embarked on the one-kilometre journey, his wallet was bulging with currency notes. Later in the day he planned to travel to Kilifi town.

A few days earlier, Mr Reuben Tunje Ndago had buried the woman he had engaged with in secret love affairs. Gone, too, was their child. Now he had a burning mission to accomplish and there was nothing to stop him.

The irritating boils on parts of his body had paved way to serious wounds and more serious infections.

He had been in and out of hospital every other week and at one time spent days in bed, unable to perform the simplest of tasks.

Now that he had secured a loan, he had not factored how it would be repaid and neither was he bothered how his seven children would fare after he was no longer alive.

His worst fears had been confirmed. But all that was poised to change. The man had resolved he was not going to play in the hands of fate any more.

With a burning rage of betrayal and a desire to correct the wrongs committed against him, he set out on a mission to “teach” the world, and womenfolk in particular, a lesson.

Fruits of death

Five years later, Ndago recoils in shame remembering the enormity of the crime he had intended to commit.

“It was like mass murder. I wanted to use every penny in enjoying myself and spreading HIV. I was bitter and desperately wanted revenge,” Ndago says.

The Chasimba assistant chief vividly recalls how it all started.

“For five years I had not been faithful. I jumped in and out of many beds with strange women. My philandering had finally borne fruits. The fruits of death,” Ndago adds.

In 2003, the administrator, whose first calling in public service was as a teacher, was a devastated man who had a grudge against humanity.

After becoming a chief in 1997, Ndago says he had set out to enjoy the newly found freedom and status brought about by his new designation in the provincial administration.

He says the bitter truth dawned on him after his concubine died, hot on the heels of her daughters death.

Shortly after this, the administrator started exhibiting some disturbing symptoms. Both him and his wife, Mrs Josephine Nazi, developed skin conditions.

“We were afflicted with many opportunistic diseases. We suffered from running stomach, wounds and skin infections,” the administrator says.

He adds: “I secretly visited the Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centre (VCT) at the Kilifi Kenya Medical Research Institute. The results were positive and my life was never the same again.”

For a long time he agonised on what to do next. He could no longer live in self-denial. This is when he decided he would dramatically depart from the world.

“I wanted to infect as many people as possible. This was the sole reason I had taken the loan from Harambee Sacco. I wanted to teach women a lesson,” Ndago said.

But before he could put his plan to action, something happened and all his diabolical schemes were scuttled. This also changed his life forever.

“I was walking to the office one morning in May, 2003. I had some money in my pocket. Then I heard an inner voice: Hizo nia zako Ndago hazinifurahishi (Ndago, your plans do not please me,”).

This startled the administrator, who was then 39 years. He continued walking to his office, where yet another surprise awaited him.

The man says: “I had just switched on my small portable radio when I heard President Kibaki in an advertisement pledge how he and his Government would help eradicate the virus.”

The Presidents voice directly hit Ndago as if the Head of State was talking to him directly at a time when he was embroiled in an internal struggle.

He bolted out of office and rushed home, feigning sickness. His resolve to spread the HIV had considerably been weakened.

“I told the people waiting outside my office that I was not feeling well. I needed time alone. I decided to go directly to bed,” he recalls.

That night he broached the subject of HIV/Aids to his wife. He said the infections they had been fighting with could be directly related to the virus.

He said he feared the symptoms could have been from HIV/Aids infection and coaxed Nazi to accompany him to a clinic.

Ndago, for the second time, went to a VCT, this time dragging his half-hearted wife along.

He was overwhelmed when his wife, pardoned him for his unfaithfulness and bringing the virus home.

As fate would have it, the results were positive for both of them. One of the seven children also tested positive.

As the now devastated administrator tried to come to terms with his predicament, he made some tough choices.

“I used the loan money to buy 100 galvanised iron sheets. I also purchased some building stones and a grade cow,” he says.

Walking in the footsteps of the biblical Saul who was touched on his way to Damascus, Ndago decided to dedicate some of his loan money to God.

“I bought a quarter acre plot at Dzitsoni trading centre at Sh20,000. I used a similar amount to purchase some building materials.”

But if he thought the community he had once wanted to persecute was going to be sympathetic to him, he was in for a rude shock.

His contribution to set up a church for the Redeemed Gospel Church made some mouths in the village wag.

Some accused him of feigning illness and HIV status to get money from donors.

“Some Christians in church also distrusted him. They wanted him to hand over the land ownership document for the plot “before he died”.

“To them I was a man on death sentence I was supposed to die any time. When I told them I was not about to die, they excommunicated me. My church was deserted,” Ndago says.

It was around this time that Ndago says Kemri offered him some anti-retroviral drugs but he refused, opting to recreate his bodys immunity by proper dieting.

The chief, who had since decided to go public with his HIV status, was now forced to photocopy the results from the VCT and distribute them to disbelieving people.

“I decided to do this when some started doubting me. This made me more determined to expose myself so as to save as many people as possible.”

Ndago even renamed his church The Original Lords Church where he is the pastor.

“I believe I have touched the lives of 500 people in Chonyi. I have made it my habit to talk about HIV/Aids in every public gathering.

He has since graduated from a simple primary school teacher to an administrator as well as peer educator.

Announced HIV/Aids status on wedding day

Ndago now chairs the network of organisations involved in the fight against the HIV/Aids in Kilifi and Kaloleni districts.

His biggest triumph was on August 18, when he shocked the world by announcing his HIV/Aids status on his wedding day.

The most spectacular happening on that day was the decision by the sub-chief to establish two VCT centres on that day.

“I was pleasantly shocked when 12 people were counselled and tested. This was a big boost to the HIV/Aids war as the villagers are normally conservative and suspicious of such exercises,” the beaming chief says.

“More people would have been tested. They came but some were drunk. We turned them away as they could not be tested before going through the mandatory counselling session and understanding what it entailed.”

The VCT facilities cannot cope with the large demand from people who want to know their status.

The administrator-cum-preacher says he has recruited over 40 people who have gone public on their status.

The decision to formalise his customary marriage was arrived at after many sleepless night.

“I kept asking myself what would be the most fitting gift to my wife, who had accepted and pardoned me despite my unfaithfulness.

“Then I realised nothing could please her more than my declaration of my love to her,” says Ndago.

“Nothing inspires me more than the love and the unity which has been brought about by my predicament. My whole family is a team. We share a lot and support each other like never before,” he adds.

He says all leaders ad clergymen should lead by example and stop being judgmental since condemning an infected man could easily send him to an early grave.

“It is true the disease is mostly spread through sexual intercourse. This does not mean people have not contracted it from blood transfusion or emergencies,” he says.

Every morning, the man who not so long ago was a pariah meets neighbours who want to know how he had spent the previous night.

Being the Governments representative in Chasimba, Ndago hosts villagers seeking various services.

The cashewnut tree (Mkanju) along the road has become an extension of the chiefs office. Hours before reporting to his office, he will have counselled residents under its shade.

His home, strategically located along the road, near the entrance to Chasimba Primary School, now acts as a citadel of hope.

In an area still populated with igloo-looking grass-thatched house, the sub-chiefs glittering roof too is a beacon of hope, a signpost of modernity, just like his pedigree cow, Kanzi.

For a man who was bent on committing suicide as he extracted vengeance, Ndago has come a long way. He is now ready to serve as a role model to save humanity.

Lifted and published by Korir, API*APN source.standard.ke

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Kenya: President declares elections coming soon

Posted by African Press International on September 30, 2007

 

By Gakuu Mathenge

Elections are around the corner and the signs are already out, President Kibaki has declared.

“The election is near, if you look keenly; even you can guess, said the Head of State who will on Sunday be at the Nyayo National Stadium to kick off the next phase of his re-election bid.

He was speaking at State House Nairobi where he addressed representatives of the informal sector. He said it would not be good for the country if only 55 per cent of registered voters vote later in the year. “If you have attained the age of voting and you do not participate in the exercise then you are doing your country and yourself a lot of disservice,” President Kibaki said.

Tonight marks the last in the long wait for the President, who is campaigning on the platform of good performance in his first term, for his agenda for the next term if re-elected. It will also allow Kenyans to catch a glimpse of his strategy and vote mobilisers, including the wing commanders he named this week. It will also be the moment to paint the picture of a united coalition Party of National Unity following the open disagreements among the affiliate parties.

Today marks the end of the long wait for him to unveil the shape and form of his re-election vehicle, the colours and the symbols. This item on the political diary coincides with speculation he will prorogue Parliament anytime.

While Kibaki the President has not been in doubt, Kibaki the candidate for a second and final term has not been very apparent.

The President is expected to unveil the faces of the men and women he has assembled to help him execute a re-election campaign. Also in the race are his former Cabinet ministers Langata MP Mr Raila Odinga and Mwingi North MP Mr Kalonzo Musyoka.

The two were key figures in his 2002 campaign, when he was bound to a wheelchair following a road accident in the last leg of the contest.

 

Leaving no loopholes

 

Raila is leading the Pentagon team of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) while Kalonzo rides the Orange Democratic Part-Kenya (ODM-Kenya) ticket.

Facing the Orange family will be the Party of National Unity (PNU), which is expected to pass a resolution endorsing Kibaki as its presidential candidate at its inaugural delegates conference at the Nyayo Stadium.

The ADC is also expected to unveil and endorse PNU 24-member National Executive Council, mainly comprising party leaders and regional political captains from various political parties supporting Kibaki.

All parties in the PNU are expected to have held their ADCs by the end of the day today, minuted their resolution to endorse Kibaki as presidential candidate and picked their representatives to the PNUS executive council.

The council is expected to serve the role of the Narc-Summit in 2002.

This time round, the builders of the PNU coalition seem more cautious and unwilling to leave anything to chance, including potential legal challenges. They insist on playing by the book.

Unlike the Narc-Summit and the controversial boardroom Memorandum of Understanding that divided and stalled the Cabinet and nearly brought down the Kibakis administration, PNU seems keen on a well-structured outfit.

While the architecture of the PNU points to a unified campaign by parties and leadership that boasts regional and ethnic supremacy, the proof of the pudding is in the eating: They must face the opposition at the ballot, marshal majority votes and secure the mandatory 25 per cent votes cast in five out of the eight provinces.

It will take more than just reciting the litany of achievements his administration has made, particularly in economic growth and general development. An observer quipped on Thursday: “When a party and a candidate start buzzing people to attend meetings and rallies, that should raise the red flag.” That was in response to news PNU parties were busy organising supporters from the countryside to attend Kibakis rally in Nairobi on Sunday.

Despite the good record in economic revival, and the improvement in

agriculture, public health services, infrastructure and rural electrification, the President still scores badly in such huge voting blocs as the Rift Valley.

In Central Rift region, Nandi and Kipsigis communities are yet to forgive him over the forest evictions of 2004-2005 and perceived persecution of senior civil servants inherited from the Kanu regime from the region.

Standing out are the forest evictions and torching of houses without compensation in Kipkurere, Mau Settlement Scheme, Embobut, Likia and Mount Elgon areas. The residents had been settled by the previous Kanu regime and had put up homes.

For instance, by the time the evictions from Mau catchment were over, 18 primary schools and seven churches had been pulled down and more than 6,000 children were out of school. This was a traumatic experience for the impoverished rural villages.

To mollify to these communities, the Kibaki campaign is applying a two-prong strategies: Firstly, lining up Agriculture minister Mr Kipruto arap Kirwa as one of the frontrunners for Kibaki and a potential VP.

It is not lost to observers that Kirwa was the only non-party leader who was allowed to speak at the unveiling of PNU at the KICC. That was before he emerged as the spokesperson of the PNUs official launch committee last Wednesday.

 

Rift Valley protest vote

 

Secondly, efforts to revive Kanu and reposition it as a serious contender with ODM in the Rift Valley have been going on. Chairman Uhuru Kenyatta has been in the Central Rift trying to re-establish his own networks after his secretary general, Mr William Ruto, abandoned the party.

Sources said the newly refurbished Kanus high command is wooing Kirwa to join the party national leadership, preferably as one of the national vice chairmen.

Kirwa is yet to confirm acceptance, giving credence to reports that he and Defence assistant minister, Mr Stephen Tarus, have been toying with the option of joining Kanu through United Democratic Movement (UDM), which gave Kirwa a foothold in Narc.

Uhuru was confronted with the difficulty of marketing Kibaki in the province when he gathered grassroots leaders at the Gichea Farm last week. “They told him only a personal apology and an assurance from Kibaki would make them listen to anyone talking about him, let alone vote for him. Kirwas voice wouldnt amount to much since he was in the Cabinet that approved the evictions and he never talked about it,” a source revealed.

The minority communities of North Rift, for years ravaged by insecurity, have flocked to ODM, especially after the referendum. This is in protest against what they perceive to be abrasiveness on the part of Internal Security minister, Mr John Michuki, when dealing with them.

“Michuki has shown little time to listen and understand simple nomads and find solutions to their problems. He treats everyone like Mungiki, deploying the army and special squads to kill and disarm people. The evictions from Laikipia last year were unnecessarily rough. He has abandoned initiatives established by his predecessor, Dr Chris Murungaru, who used to take local leaders and the parliamentary committee on security to peace meetings and listen,” Samburu West MP, Mr Simeon Lesirma said in an interview.

North Eastern Province too, where Kibaki granted seven districts last month and converted a military airport into a civilian one in Wajir, has remained hostile to the administration. It is against what it sees as OPs condescending attitude when dealing with people used to Harambee House being their first and last contact with Government, especially on the touchy issue of terrorism.

While PNU assembles a broad alliance of interest groups and regional political chieftains, the team Kibaki unveils Sunday will also reveal the character and profiles of the men and women in charge of the task of narrowing the gap in the latest opinion polls.

He must also pacify the bruised egos of those left out, just incase they decide to throw tantrums.

Lifted and published by Korir, API*APN source.standard.ke

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API*APN statistics today – Our readers

Posted by African Press International on September 30, 2007

African Press in Norway (APN)
Country Share

 

 

African Press in Norway (APN)
Country Share

Country Share

 

Published by API*APN statistics group

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Ban Ki-moon sues for cooperation to tackle global challenges

Posted by African Press International on September 30, 2007

Washington DC- (USA) Whether it is resolving conflicts, protecting human rights, achieving development goals or safeguarding the environment, the only viable way to effectively tackle todays complex global challenges is through multilateral cooperation, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told non-aligned ministers on Saturday in New York.

To effectively tackle the full range of challenges coming our way, we need to all work together Member States, the UN system, civil society, the private sector, and other stakeholders, Mr. Ban said in his address to the annual meeting of foreign ministers of the Non- Aligned Movement (NAM), which comprises 118 UN Member States.

He called for strengthening partnerships to achieve the set of internationally agreed anti-poverty targets, known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and to pursue collective action in order to respond to emerging crises.

And we must strengthen the capacities of the United Nations to meet all the challenges before us, he added, stating his intention to continue the reform process with a proposal to significantly strengthen the Department of Political Affairs in order to boost the world bodys capacity in promoting peace and security.

We must invest more in conflict prevention and mediation, so that disagreements both between and within States do not develop into violence or give rise to conflict, he stated.

At the same time, Mr. Ban stressed that issues of economic and social development cannot take a backseat to issues of peace and security, noting the two go hand in hand.

On Darfur, he urged all parties to play a constructive role in next months negotiations in Libya in order to reach an agreement that will bring a peace and stability to the region

Published by Korir, API*APN source.apa

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Indian robbery suspect trounces police, commits suicide

Posted by African Press International on September 30, 2007

Kampala (Uganda) A 42-year-old Indian national who was arrested recently for stealing more than 295,000 dollars, on Saturday trounced the police during an escort and jumped into the river Niles Karuma Falls and died.

Karim Hulsman, and a former resident of Mbarara town, western region, was arrested in Arua town on allegations that he had stolen the money from a businessman in Mbarara.

The Northern Regional Police Commander, Katiurabwe Arinaitwe, told APA on Saturday that when the police vehicle transporting Hulsman to Mbarara reached the Karuma Falls, the suspect begged permission to get out of the car and drop a sacrifice in the water in keeping with his cultural belief.

Hulsman said his culture dictated that he drops an offering into a river whenever he crossed it.

Believing this story, the police allowed him to get out of the car with a white polythene bag that was reportedly carrying his offering.

As Hulsman reached the edge of the bridge, he quickly climbed over and jumped to his death.

Arinaitwe said Hulsmans body could not be retrieved immediately because of the strong water current.

He said it was wrong for the police to allow the suspect to leave the car unescorted and said an investigation into the incident is being carried out.

Published by Korir, API*APN source.apa

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Cash in hand for Polish workers

Posted by African Press International on September 30, 2007

One out of three Polish guest workers fail to pay taxes, according to a new study by the the Fafo Institute for Labour and Social Research “Undeclared labour is on the rise in Norway,” said social scientist Jon Horgen Friberg. One out of three Polish guest workers in Norway do not pay their taxes, neither to the Norwegian nor the Polish authorities, according to the Fafo study.

Only half of the Polish workers in Norway work in organised, declared labour, reported local newspaper Adresseavisen Wednesday. Many offer their services to private customers in fields such as domestic help and repairs, where it is relatively easy to receive cash in hand once the job is done.

Jon Horgen Friberg, in charge of the comprehensive study of the life and work of Polish guest workers in Oslo, pointed out that the marked for undeclared labour is on the rise in Norway. This, he argued, is due to both a drastic increase in living standards among Norwegians, and the EU enlargement a few years back, which included Poland.

Lifted and published by Korir, API*APN source.aftenposteneng

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Embassy ruling spurs appeal

Posted by African Press International on September 30, 2007

Several groups opposed to the relocation of the US Embassy have decided to appeal a city court ruling allowing the move. They claim the case involves “important environmental principles.”

Five groups ranging from the Oslo chapter of Friends of the Earth Norway (Naturvernforbundet) to homeowners associations are arguing that laws were not followed when city officials agreed to rezone a large parcel of open space in Oslo’s Huseby district for embassy use.

Specifically, the plaintiffs claim that no study was made to determine the consequences of the embassy being built at Huseby.

The US Embassy has been under pressure for years to move from its current site near downtown to a more secure location. After rejecting a series of sites proposed by Norwegian officials, the Americans finally agreed to relocate to the Huseby site northwest of downtown.

That prompted immediate protests from Huseby residents, who objected to the loss of local open space, increased congestion in the area, and the threat of terrorism that accompanies the embassy no matter where it goes.

It’s the loss of open space that the plaintiffs claim is their most pressing concern. Margrethe Geemuyden, who’s led a group aiming to preserve the open space (Aksjon Vern Husebyskogen), claims that if the consequences had been studied, she’s sure local politicians would have reached a different conclusion.

Gjermund Andersen, leader of Oslo’s Friends of the Earth chapter, claims the lack of the report undermines the law requiring it. That means, he claims, that “environmental concerns will be weaker in other cases as well.”

The appeal likely will further delay the embassy’s relocation process. The opposition groups’ legal effort to block the relocation is being financed by the organizations and private donors.

By Nina Berglund

Lifted and published by Korir, API*APN source.aftenposteneng

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Norway condemns military violence in Burma

Posted by African Press International on September 30, 2007

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg has been in New York this week, to speak at the UN, but is following developments in Burma closely.

PHOTO: KRISTINE NYBORG / SCANPIX
Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was among those imploring Burma’s military leaders to refrain from more violence and to engage in dialogue with the democratic forces in Burma. The Norwegian Nobel Committee also condemned the military reaction to peaceful demonstrations.

Both Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stre condemn the use of violence by Burma’s military leaders.

PHOTO: Kristine Nyborg / SCANPIX


The chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Ole Danbolt Mjs, also urged Burma’s leaders to stop attacking and start talking with peaceful demonstrators.

PHOTO: BJRN SIGURDSN/SCANPIX

“The use of force is the last thing Burma needs right now,” Stoltenberg said. “That’s a message we’re sending very clearly from the Norwegian government.”

Norwegians have maintained a strong interest in Burma for years. The Norwegian Nobel Committee’s decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Aung San Suu Kyi in 1991 raised her to heroine status in Norway.

The head of today’s committee, which will announce the winner of the next Nobel Peace Prize in just two weeks, has expressed deep concern for Aung San Suu Kyi’s safety as events unfold in Burma. Her whereabouts remained unclear on Thursday morning, with some claiming she’d been transferred from house arrest to a prison, while an unidentified foreign diplomat said she remained at her home.

Ole Danbolt Mjs, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, made a strong plea on national television Wednesday evening for the military junta to immediately halt its attacks on peaceful demonstrators and start talking with them instead.

Prime Minister Stoltenberg also urged the international community “to take responsibility” for the development of democracy in Burma. “It’s important that the world makes that clear,” said Stoltenberg, who’s been in New York this week to attend sessions at the United Nations and help lead talks on climate change.

“We believe that the countries in the immediate area have a special responsibility,” Stoltenberg said. “That applies, not least, to China.”

China, which has supported the military regime in Burma in the past, is now under pressure as next year’s host of the Olympic Games to use its influence on the junta. It now has urged the Burmese military leaders to show “restraint.”

Stoltenberg noted that Norwegian authorities have encouraged Norwegian companies to avoid investing in Burma. That’s had only mixed results, with companies like shipping firm Wilh Wilhelmsen continuing to do business in the country.

By Nina Berglund

Lifted and published by Korir, API*APN source.aftenposteneng.ntb

Posted in AA > News and News analysis | Leave a Comment »

Foreign Ministry meets groups active in Burma

Posted by African Press International on September 30, 2007

Top Norwegian officials in the foreign ministry called in representatives from aid organizations and the Norwegian Burma Committee on Friday, as a violent military crackdown on peaceful demonstrations continued.

The death toll in Burma is feared to be much higher than what the junta is reporting.

PHOTO: AP PHOTO/DEMOCRATIC VOICE OF BURMA

State Secretary Raymond Johansen said Norway is “doing all it can” to get the generals in Burma to halt the violence.

PHOTO: ERLEND AAS/SCANPIX

“It’s an extremely serious situation in Burma now,” said state secretary Raymond Johansen after a meeting in Oslo with the volunteer organizations working in Burma.

Johansen met with officials from organizations including Doctors Without Borders, Norwegian Church Aid, the Norwegian Refugee Council, the Strmme Foundation and the Norwegian Burma Committee. The aim was to share information about the dramatic events unfolding in Burma.

“We have been in contact with people in Rangoon and received information that there were fewer demonstrators in the streets and that monks are no longer among them,” Johansen told news bureau NTB.

He worried that meant the military junta’s strategy about shutting the monasteries was succeeding, and that the other demonstrators no longer had the protection the monks could give them.

Johansen said Norwegian officials were doing all they could, along with the international community, to enter into a dialogue with the military junta. There also were calls for Norway to sell off investments in any companies dealing with Burma.

“The junta must first stop their violent acts, which have increased,” Johansen said. “Then they must enter into a dialogue with the legal opposition (which won democratic elections in 1990, only to see the results annulled by the generals) and with leaders of the various ethnic groups in Burma.”

Norway long has had a special interest in Burma, which climaxed with the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Aung San Suu Kyi in 1991.

There were conflicting reports on Friday as to the whereabouts and safety of Aung San Suu Kyi. Some believe she’s been taken to a military prison, while others reported that the general who’s second-in-command in Burma disagreed with the violent military response to the demonstrations and was planning to meet with her.

By Nina Berglund

Lifted and published by Korir, API*APN source.aftenposteneng

Posted in AA > News and News analysis | Leave a Comment »

Court halts new book on ‘princess’ angels’

Posted by African Press International on September 30, 2007

A lawyer representing Princess Martha Louise has won a court order to halt sales of a book that he claims amounts to commercial exploitation of Norway’s controversial young royal.

Princess Martha Louise won a court order halting publication of a book with her photo on the cover.

PHOTO: Heikki Saukkomaa/SCANPIX

Lawyer Cato Schitz told news bureau NTB that he had filed a motion with the court seeking to get the book stopped, and that the motion had been approved.

“I have received the judge’s oral promise that the motion will be granted,” said Schitz.

A small publishing house in Horten, south of Oslo, called Publicom Forlag produced the book, entitled Mrthas engler (“Marthas Angels”).

The book is essentially a Norwegian translation of a British book, “Seeing Angels,” which first was published five years ago. The book is about communication with angels, something Princess Martha Louise herself claims she can do.

She created a media stir last summer when her plans to start a healing school that would teach others “how to contact their own angels,” among other things, emerged publicly. Palace officials stressed that the princess’ “angel school” was her own private venture, and not linked to her royal title.

Others argued that her royal title assured her of huge publicity around the venture, and that it put the royal family in an awkward position.

Palace ‘upset’
Newspaper Dagbladet reported earlier this week that palace officials were upset by Publicom’s version of the British book, because it features a photo of Princess Martha Louise on the cover. Apart from a new forward written for the Norwegian version, it otherwise has nothing to do with the princess and she did not grant her permission to use the photo.

Torgeir Lorentzen of Publicom contended the publisher was within its rights to tailor the book to the Norwegian market. “We believe that it wasn’t necessary to obtain permission,” Lorentzen told Dagbladet, noting that the princess’ angel venture is part of a “public debate,”

The princess, through her lawyer, demanded that sale of the book be forbidden and that its distribution be banned. She also demanded that books already in the stores be withdrawn.

Palace spokesman Sven Gjeruldsen said Friday that it’s “generally not legal to use members of the royal family in connection with marketing.” He had no further comment.

By Nina Berglund

Lifted and published by Korir, API*APN source.aftenposteneng.ntb

Posted in AA > News and News analysis | Leave a Comment »

 
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