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Archive for October 2nd, 2007

McCain: I would vote for Muslim president

Posted by African Press International on October 2, 2007

McCain said he would prefer a Christian president.

(CNN) GOP presidential hopeful Senator John McVCain, R-Arizona, says he feels religion should play a role in one’s selection of a presidential candidate. “I think the number one issue people should make [in the] selection of the President of the United States is ‘Will this person carry on the Judeo Christian principled tradition that has made this nation the greatest experiment in the history of mankind?'”

McCain made the comments an in interview with beliefnet, a website that covers religious issues and affairs.

“I just have to say in all candor that since this nation was founded primarily on Christian principles, personally, I prefer someone who has a grounding in my faith,” he said when asked about a Muslim candidate running for president.

Mr. McCain contacted beliefnet after the interview to clarify his remarks. “I would vote for a Muslim if he or she was the candidate best able to lead the country and defend our political values,” he said.

“The Senator did not intend to assert that members of one religious faith or another have a greater claim to American citizenship over another,” Jill Hazelbaker, McCain’s communication director told CNN when asked for clarification on his comments. “Read in context, his interview with beliefnet makes clear that people of all faiths are entitled to all the rights protected by the Constitution, including the right to practice their religion freely. In the interview he also observed that the values protected by the Constitution, by which he meant values such as respect for human life and dignity, are rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition. That is all he intended to say to the question, is America a Christian nation, and it is hardly a controversial claim.”

McCain also said people should not be quick to dismiss his rival in the GOP race, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, simply because of his Mormon religion. “I believe that the Mormon religion is a religion that I don’t share, but I respect,” he said. “I think that Governor Romney’s religion should not, absolutely not, be a disqualifying factor when people consider his candidacy for President of the United States, absolutely not.”

He said he did agree with a recent poll that 55 percent of Americans believe the U.S. Constitution establishes a Christian nation. “I would probably have to say yes, that the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation.”

“But I say that in the broadest sense,” he said. “The lady that holds her lamp beside the golden door doesn’t say, ‘I welcome only Christians.’ We welcome the poor, the tired, the huddled masses. But when they come here they know that they are a nation founded on Christian principles.”

McCain was also asked to clarify his being identified an Episcopalian, yet recently referring to himself as Baptist. “[It was] one comment on the bus after hours,” he said. “I meant to say that I practice in a – I am a Christian and I attend a Baptist church.” McCain said he was raised Episcopalian, but has attended a Phoenix Baptist church for many years.

When asked if he was close to taking the final step, and undergoing a Baptist baptism, he said he has been in discussions with his pastor about it. “But I would not anticipate going through that during this presidential campaign,” he said. “I am afraid it might appear as if I was doing something that I otherwise wouldn’t do.”

CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford

Filed under John McCain, Race 08

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President spells out his vision – Many applauds him, good for the country

Posted by African Press International on October 2, 2007


By Alex Ndegwa President Kibaki launched his campaign for a second term in office when he unveiled his re-election vehicle, the Party of National Unity (PNU).

One message stuck out in the Presidents address: Granting of equal opportunities and a share of the national cake.

Kanu chairman, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, greets supporters in Eastleigh Estate on his way to Nyayo Stadium on Sunday. Picture by Govedi Asutsa

He dwelt on his achievements since 2003, and his vision in the next five years. Kibaki reiterated that his Government would roll out the free secondary education and healthcare should voters pick him in the December polls.“We will ensure that the PNU is united in one common purpose providing equal opportunity for all Kenyans,” Kibaki told thousands of supporters who jammed the Nyayo National Stadium.

The Head of State said reforms effected by the Narc Government had borne fruits, including 6.1 per cent economic growth that had lifted more than two million people out of poverty.

But the President conceded that more needed to be done to ensure the benefits trickled down to the common mwananchi.

Kibaki expressed optimism that PNU policies would double that growth, “spreading economic benefits to all Kenyans, and creating jobs and business opportunities in every part”.

Revenues generated by a larger economy, he added, would finance the envisaged free education and health services.

He added: “The challenge we now face is to expand and distribute wealth and the benefits of improved public service management, so that wealth is not confined to our cities or in the hands of few.”

The president appeared to respond to criticism that his Government had failed to promote equal distribution of national wealth and claims that he had presided over a skewed allocation of resources, including biased appointments to plum State jobs.

Kibaki also dismissed claims that he had reneged on the 2002 election pledges. “We have kept our promises and delivered much more than we expected five years ago,” he said.

He cited democratic freedoms, public service reforms, and the fight against corruption, the Constituencies Development Fund, improved roads and rural electrification.

Kibaki also listed the setting up of the Sh2 billion youth and women kitties, and the construction of more than 1,000 health centres that had “brought affordable healthcare closer to the people”.

“We have made a good start, but the task is not yet complete. We will not rest until it is complete and until the vision we have set out for our nation is achieved,” he said.

In the speech, which the President did not read but dwelt on off-the-cuff address, he gave a

Cabinet ministers, Mr Mutua Katuku, Mr Njeru Ndwiga, Dr Newton Kulundu, Mr Mutahi Kagwe and Mr Kiraitu Murungi celebrate the launch of the Party of National Unity at Nyayo Stadium, on Sunday. Picture by Martin Mukangu

pledge that PNU would transform the country into Africas most competitive manufacturing and services hub. This would be realised, he said, by doubling of investment in infrastructure to build world-class roads, railways, airports and seaports and water supply.

As he appealed for another term, Kibaki recalled with nostalgia his address at Uhuru Park during inauguration in 2002 when he spoke “of the rays of sunlight that had bathed my room with such brilliance on that morning”.

Drawing parallels with the Sunday occasion, Kibaki said: “Today is as bright a day for our nation as my election to office in 2002 was”.

He said the launch of the alliance of parties re-affirmed his commitment to “staying the course” outlined in 2002 and “completing the journey we embarked on.”

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Tergat of Kenya hails Haile of Ethiopia – Great sportsmanship

Posted by African Press International on October 2, 2007

By Mutwiri Mutuota and Agencies Former world marathon record holder, Paul Tergat, hailed his friend and successor Haile Gebrselassie who lowered his 2:04.55 mark by 29 seconds to set a new best time of 2:04.26 in Berlin on Sunday.

“I salute him for breaking my record since he has been hunting it for a long time and now he has taken it. I am happy for him and he is a great athlete,” Tergat told SportFest soon after the Ethiopian, 34, ran in near ideal conditions in the German capital to shatter his record set at the same Berlin course on September 28, 2003.

“Everything was perfect for him, fantastic water points, very little wind, five pace makers and the assistance and direction he received from an official motorbike. When I set the record, I was contesting against other runners without much assistance,” he added.

Tergat also phoned his greatest rival in athletics but best friend off the field through his race manager to congratulate him minutes after the Ethiopian great won.

“I spoke to him and he was very happy indeed, he is a nice guy.” Running in near ideal conditions, Gebrselassie was already 32 seconds inside Tergats pace at the 10km mark. He maintained that margin through the half-marathon point, clocking 62.29 to Tergats 63.01, and at 30km when the last two of his five pacesetters retired.

It was the third time the mens world record was set on the fast, flat Berlin circuit where more than a million spectators lined the streets to cheer the field of 40,000 runners. “

This is wonderful, its really special,” Gebrselassie told German television just minutes after crossing the finishing line with a big smile on his face. “Thank you to the people of Germany.” Weather conditions were almost ideal with little wind and overcast skies for most of the race. The sun broke through the clouds towards the end, bringing the temperature up to 16 Celcius (60 F).

“Today it was perfect,” he said. “It was a little bit windy, but perfect. The audience, the spectators were great.” The course winds through nine districts of the German capital and has a total inclination of just 30m.

Gebrselassie had tried to beat Tergats record last year in Berlin and was on track until late in the race before falling a heartbreaking 61 seconds short. He had faded in the fi nal six km in the face of diffi cult headwinds but this year he focused on endurance training, and organisers made sure there were enough pacesetters to take him through the 30km point.

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Comoros leader seeks UN’s help – solving crisis in his country

Posted by African Press International on October 2, 2007

Washington DC (USA) The President of the Indian Ocean Archipelago of the Comoros Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi on Thursday called on the United Nations to help his country to resolve its political crises.

Addressing the UN General Assembly Thursday, President Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi spoke about the armed rebellion in Anjouan, one of the autonomous islands, which has led to a political crisis, and appealed for international help in finding a solution.

The rebels, he said, refused to comply with resolutions of the African Union (AU) and the recommendations of the international community relating to the holding of free and democratic elections in Anjouan.

President Abdallah however used the occasion to thank all of those bilateral and multilateral partners that had helped Comoros in seeking a solution. He also thanked the African Development Bank and other partners which had contributed to helping Comoros with its economic problems.

Regarding the island of Mayotte, which is part of the archipelago but presently a French territory, President Abdallah said that Comoros finds itself in opposition to France a friendly country and key partner. He cautioned against the balkanization of the Comoros.

Comoros, he said had sought a resolution to the situation, calling for the free circulation of goods and people throughout the archipelago, including Mayotte.

The president however voiced support for the address to the Assembly earlier in the week by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who spoke about respect for diversity, national identity, religious beliefs and cultures.

He therefore called on the UN to take up the question and seek a rapprochement between the two parties with a few to resolving the problem.

I am convinced that we can, together, with the French authorities, find the ways and means of advancing the search for a just, lawful and definitive solution to this problem, he declared.

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Rwandan leader wants UN action – forces of genocide still active

Posted by African Press International on October 2, 2007

Washington DC -(USA) The forces that committed genocide in Rwanda more than a decade ago remain active in the region and must be countered with international action, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda told the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday.

While our continent has been consolidating peace and security, there are persistent problem areas that need attention, President Kagame told the Assemblys annual high-level debate. In the Great Lakes region, forces that committed genocide in 1994 continue their destructive operations, he added.

They rape, murder, terrorize and plunder with impunity, he charged. Their leaders are active in Europe, America and Africa where they continue to promote the ideology of genocide.

He said the costly UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) has not diminished their activities and called on the international community, in collaboration with the Congolese government, to end the threat posed by these negative forces once and for all.

An estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were murdered, mostly by machetes or clubs, across Rwanda in less than 100 days starting in early April 1994. Later that year the UN Security Council established the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to deal with the worst cases.

In his address, President Kagame added that Rwandans need peace and stability so that we can concentrate on the business of economic growth and development.

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Malian army clearing mines – North of the country

Posted by African Press International on October 2, 2007


Bamako (Mali) The Malian army has commenced mine-clearing operations in the vital zone of Tinzawatene which is under their control since the withdrawal of Ibrahim Ag Bahangas Tuareg rebels, a military source told APA on Thursday.

The armed forces are normally pursuing the operations, the source said, adding that they entered the zone early on Wednesday and then besieged on the same day the positions the rebels deserted.

No indication was however revealed about the current destination of these Tuareg rebels after they withdrew from their stronghold of Tinzawatene.

This area is a vital border area between Mali and Niger and also with Algeria. It was so far known as the stronghold where the Malian and Nigerien Tuareg rebels used to hatch their plots.

It is in this border area that the Tuareg rebels had captured about 30 Malian soldiers in the aftermath of a second ambush.

Tinzawatene is notorious for the death of about ten civilians whose car exploded on a landmine which was allegedly laid by Ibrahim Ag Bahangas rebels in late August.

The rebel leader demands the comprehensive application of the peace agreement signed in July 2006 in Algiers, between the Malian government and the former Tuareg rebel group, the Democratic Alliance for Change (ADC).

Following clashes with the Malian army on 23 May 2006, the ADC disclaimed all responsibility in the “schemes” of Ag Bahanga, and reasserted its attachment to the Algeria-brokered peace agreement.


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West African countries appreciation for UN support

Posted by African Press International on October 2, 2007


Washington DC-(USA) Leaders from West Africa working to consolidate peace and build democratic institutions on Thursday voiced appreciation for the support of the United Nations and its agencies in this endeavour, APA has learnt.

Hailing the lifting of sanctions against Liberia, the countrys Vice President said the measures had been viewed as corrective not punitive by the people of Liberia.

My government welcomes and highly appreciates the recent decision of the Security Council to lift the sanctions which it saw fit to impose on the timber and diamond sectors in Liberia, said Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai.

Although the imposition of sanctions was considered by many as punitive, I am gratified to inform you that the Liberian people viewed the sanctions as prudent and corrective, he told the General Assemblys annual high-level debate.

Boakai also welcomed the Councils recent decision to extend the mandate of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), saying that in spite of the gains of peace following 14 years of civil war, the country remains fragile.

The president of Guinea Bissau, Joao Bernardo Vieira, also voiced appreciation for the UNs help to his country. He cited in particular the Ad Hoc Consultative Group of the Economic and Social Council. On its part, he said Guinea-Bissau was determined to strengthen the role of the United Nations in promoting peace and development worldwide.

President Vieira also spoke about the problems of drug trafficking in Guinea-Bissau, despite the political will of the government to tackle the problem. It can only be eradicated through international cooperation, he said, appealing to states that had experience in combating drug trafficking and organized crime to assist. We welcome the efforts of the UN system to establish an international network for the eradication of this scourge, he said.

Mr. Zarifou Ayeva, the Foreign Minister of Togo, looked to upcoming legislative elections in the country as a turning point in the countrys history. He thanked international community and other partners who helped Togo reach this point, especially the UN Development Programme (UNDP), which he said, played an important role in preparations for the polls.

Currently, Togo is engaged in a fight against impunity, and in this effort, it is enjoying the support of the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, he said, voicing appreciation for its role in bolstering the governments efforts.

The Prime Minister of Guinea, Lansana Kouyat, dwelt on the political crisis that his country faced earlier this year, and also voiced appreciation for the assistance of the international community in restoring stability. At the same time, he urged all countries of good will with the means to help to assist Guinea in carrying out its plan to consolidate these gains throughout the country.

Looking to the broader international context, Kouyate called for measures to combat poverty, saying it should be declared illegal throughout the world. Collective efforts to eradicate poverty would be the best way to guarantee peace, he said.


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