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Archive for January 21st, 2008

Raila feels small if he has to meet government group led by Vice President Kalonzo

Posted by African Press International on January 21, 2008

President Kibaki has agreed to hold talks with the opposition ODM of Raila. This is what the ODM wanted. This is what they have insisted on having. Now that the government has agreed to the talks, Raila’s ODM is refusing to meet the Government appointed committee.

It seems Raila thinks he has been belittle by President Kibaki who has instead decided to appoint his deputy Vice President Musyoka Kalonzo (ODM- Kenya man in the coalition) tobe team leader for the government during the talks.

Raila should now think of the country and the people, not only bigness! He is dismissing the appointed group and wants face to face meeting with the president. Does he not know that if Kibaki was to be unwell, the vice president is the one actually to run the country? Respecting thevice president is important in this aspect, but as we see it now, pride in people wants it different.

Observers say that Raila does not want Kibaki to defeat his intentions. Kibaki giving Raila a group led by Kalonzo according to observers is a slap on Raila’s face. Raila sees Kalonzo as a betrayer who took away part of ODM strategies and become vice president in the end leaving his former ODM colleagues in the cold.

It is, however, a fact not to be ignored that Kibaki as president has a right to name a group to talk with the opposition. He delegates power and does not have to be in the talks in person. So Raila has to choose to attend the talks or not. If he wants to continue thinking big, then he should appoint a group to be led by his deputy, Musalia Mudavadi. If he does that, by equating himself with president Kibaki, he may regret later. During the talks, those from his team may be offered tempting positions and they accept them leaving Raila out. Mudavadi who has worked with Kibaki, just like Ruto may be wooed and given lucrative positions. If the take them, and this is possible in Kenyan politics, then that will be the end of Raila.

Raila is reported by the media (KBC.ke) as follows:

I’m ready to meet the president, says Raila

Written By:Rosalia Omungo,Posted: Sun, Jan 20, 2008

ODM leader Raila Odinga has appealed to Kenyans to end the violence and animosity rocking parts of the country.

Raila said justice and peace must go together, announcing that he has agreed to hold talks with President Mwai Kibaki.

Raila spoke after attending a church service at Holy Trinity ACK church in Kibera.

The ODM leader who was accompanied by his wife Ida Odinga, his brother Oburu Odinga, relatives and party supporters at the church service stated his wish for dialogue aimed at restoring peace in the country.

While noting that justice facilitates peace, Raila however decried the violence visited on Kenyans and sacred places.

He however dismissed the 10-member Truth and Reconciliation commission established last Friday by the president and maintained that he prefers a face to face dialogue with the president in the presence of an international mediator. (Kbc report)

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Norway to give priority to Roads maintenance – Many cars on the roads are the enemies to the environment

Posted by African Press International on January 21, 2008

Cars are not welcome

A national transport plan for Norway was announced Thursday that includes more money for maintenance, but also more tolls, and less funds for new roads.

Norway’s new transport plan will discourage the use of personal automobiles.

PHOTO: CORNELIUS POPPE

The Public Roads Administration has decided to put most of its resources into taking care of the roads already in existence, as well as into improving safety over the next 10 years. Investment in new roads will be reduced from earlier plans.

Although it seems to be accepted that personal automobile traffic will continue to rise in the coming years, the politicians in charge of the traffic plans have decided to restrict parking places and increase tolls.

Almost at the same time that the new transport plan was revealed, top Norwegian politicians presented a new “Climate Agreement” today aimed at reducing CO2 emissions and increasing resources for renewable energy.

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Spain takes over Norway – amusement park is gone to the Spaniards

Posted by African Press International on January 21, 2008

Spaniards take over Tusenfryd

One of Europe’s biggest operators of amusement parks has bought up the Tusenfryd park south of Oslo. The park is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

Tusenfryd’s rides are popular in the summer season.

PHOTO: RN E BORGEN

Parques Reunidos, which also operates B Sommarland in Telemark, has bought more than 90 percent of the shares in Tusenfryd. The Spanish company paid around EUR 54 million, or NOK 435 million.

Parques Reunidos operates 61 amusement parks, zoos, water sports- and family entertainment centers in Europe and the US. It also owns Bonbon Land in Denmark, one of the country’s biggest.

Richard Golding of Parques Reunidos praised Tusenfryd for its constant renewal programs, its “high level of quality” and profitability.

Park director Thomas Nygrd said it was too early to say whether the new ownership would lead to any major changes in Tusenfryds attractions.

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Norway’s wealthiest individuals

Posted by African Press International on January 21, 2008

Norway’s wealthiest individuals

The shipping and grocery store businesses have enriched the majority of those Norwegians with the largest fortunes in the country. Shipowner John Fredriksen, who built up his own wealth, continues to dominate the top of the list, with a net worth reported to be NOK 55.5 billion (USD 10 billion) by magazine Kapital. Fredriksen is 63 years old and proud of hailing from a working class neighbourhood on Oslo’s east side. He’s officially a citizen of Cyprus now, however, after turning in his Norwegian passport in protest over Norway’s tax system.

PHOTO: STIAN LYSBERG SOLUM

Norway’s wealthiest individuals

Stein Erik Hagen, age 51, made a fortune offering cheaper groceries to Norwegians used to paying high prices. He founded the RIMI grocery store chain, has since branched into industry and real estate ventures, and is estimated to have NOK 24 billion in net worth. Norwegians still pay around three times the price for everyday items than their counterparts in other countries.

PHOTO: HKON MOSVOLD LARSEN

Norway’s wealthiest individuals

Third on the list of Norway’s wealthiest (they’re all men) is real estate developer Olav Thon, now age 84 and still working. His net worth was pegged by magazine Kapital at NOK 20.8 billion.

PHOTO: TERJE BENDIKSBY/SCANPIX

Norway’s wealthiest individuals

Kjell Inge Rkke has spent the past month in jail, serving a 30-day term in a bribery scandal, but he remains one of Norway’s biggest industrialists. The former fisherman now controls the Aker group and he’s the country’s fourth-wealthiest, with a reported NOK 19.8 billion.

PHOTO: HKON MOSVOLD LARSEN/SCANPIX

Norway’s wealthiest individuals

The fifth-richest man in Norway also can tie his fortunes to the grocery store business. Johan Johannson is the largest owner of retailing firm NorgesGruppen, which owns the KIWI, Meny and Spar grocery store chains. He’s also from the family behind coffee wholesaler Joh. Johannson. The media-shy grocery store baron is reportedly good for NOK 15 billion.

PHOTO: OLAV OLSEN

Norway’s wealthiest individuals

In sixth place is yet another grocery store tycoon, Odd Reitan. He founded the REMA 1000 grocery store chain and remains in the business, with a net worth of NOK 14.4 billion.

PHOTO: STIAN LYSBERG SOLUM/SCANPIX

Norway’s wealthiest individuals

Johan H Andresen Jr inherited his fortune from a tobacco wholesaling family, and now runs investment firm Ferd AS. His fortune was pegged at NOK 13.6 billion.

Norway’s wealthiest individuals

Shipping is behind the wealth of Arne Wilhelmsen (left), whose family has long had major stakes in Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, tankers and other shipping and offshore ventures. His net worth: NOK 11.25 billion. At right, his brother Gjert.

PHOTO: KNUT SNARE

Norway’s wealthiest individuals

Arne Blystad also owes his fortune to the shipping business. He and his brother Vilhelm were big in the 1980s and almost disappeared in the 1990s, but Arne has made a comeback in recent years. His fortune was estimated to be NOK 10 billion.

PHOTO: SVEIN ERIK FURULUND

Norway’s wealthiest individuals

Jacob Stolt-Nielsen (right) has been in trouble with US authorities over alleged cartel operations in the shipping business, but that apparently hasn’t hurt his fortune. Magazine Kapital pegged it at NOK 9.2 billion, up NOK 2 billion from last year. At left, Karin Berg of the Norwegian Ski Museum that’s received grants from Stolt-Nielsen.

PHOTO: JAN GREVE

Norway’s wealthiest individuals

Fred Olsen (tight) was long considered one of Norway’s wealthiest and most powerful, but his ranking has slipped a bit. The shipowner and power behind Timex watches, among other businesses, is also reportedly good for NOK 9.2 billion.

PHOTO: OLAV OLSEN

 

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What is the worst thing to happen to one in Norway? To become old and be lonely!

Posted by African Press International on January 21, 2008

Elderly not getting the care they need

Norway’s fabled “cradle to grave” security seems to be disappearing, with a new study showing that only the most acute needs will qualify a patient for a spot in a nursing home.

Only a small percentage of the elderly in Norway get the nursing home rooms they need.

PHOTO: SCANPIX ARCHIVE

Norwegians have complained for years over the long waiting lists they face for care at local hospitals. Now a new report shows that care for the elderly is far from sufficient in what’s widely billed as one of the world’s wealthiest countries.

A survey of 80,000 elderly persons living in 162 Norwegian townships indicated that only those with the most serious medical ailments and disabilities received a room in a nursing home.

Half of those who need help with everyday routines were still living at home, reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Friday.

“This is worse than I thought,” Magne Roland, a former hospital director who had criticized state officials for lacking an overview of the problem before last fall’s elections.

Roland, who has worked with the elderly for 40 years, is now chairman of the Grefsen nursing home in Oslo. He urged state and township officials in charge of local nursing homes and their funding to find a solution to the problem.

Limited alternatives
Most elderly who are turned away from nursing homes are offered some form of help at home, but it can be erratic and far from adequate.

Private solutions for the elderly are limited in Norway, where the vast majority of nursing homes are run by the public sector or public foundations. Independent- and assisted-living facilities so common in the US, for example, haven’t taken root in Norway, where most citizens expect to receive mostly state-funded care after a long life of paying high taxes.

Patients living in a public nursing home are usually charged 80 percent of their current income, but their estates are left intact. Living in a nursing home thus isn’t “free” in Norway, but it won’t threaten to deplete a patient’s estate, either.

The problem is that there now seems to be an acute shortage of nursing homes in Norway, and demand is only growing as the population in general ages.

State Secretary Rigmor Aasrud of the Labour Party admitted she was worried by the differences between care offered by the various townships, and that many elderly aren’t receiving enough care. “We need to find the reason for this,” she said.

Most townships will retort that they’re not getting enough funding from the state. There have been widely publicized cases of neglect in recent years, including one recently where an Oslo hospital simply sent home a sick and frail 94-year-old woman to the apartment where she lived alone.

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Somalia will become one of the top agendas during AU meeting

Posted by African Press International on January 21, 2008

Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) The Somalia issue will be on the top agenda of the African Union(AU) summit due to be held at the end of this month in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, AU sources say here Saturday.

Ambassador Said Djinit, theAU Peace and Security Council commissioner (PSC) told journalists that African leaders attending the upcoming summit will give ample time to discuss the Somalia issue, which still remains a challenge for the commission.

That is why the PSC held an urgent meeting on Somalia before the summit. The report presented to the PSC by the chairperson will also be presented to the summit where the leaders will discuss it in detail, Djinit said.

The absence of adequate troops for the African Union Mission in Somalia(AMISOM) and finance are among the challenges facing the commission to play its role in bringing peace and stability in that country, which remains without an effective central government since the past 16 years.

The AU is still urging its member states to contribute troops for AMISOM, which is expected to be replaced by UN peacekeeping operations.

Ghana, Nigeria, Malawi and Burundi pledged last year to send their troops to Somalia. However, it is only around 1,600 Ugandan troops that are on the ground in Somalia along with 192 advanced troops from Burundi.

Other countries that pledged to send troops are still unable to send their troops due to financial and political reasons.

According to the chairman of the AU Commission, Alpha Oumar Konares report to the AU PSC, the total annual budget for AMISOM is estimated at about $ 622 million.

So far, a little over $32 million have been contributed, originating exclusively from AU partners, namely the European Union, Italy, Sweden, China, the Arab league and the United Kingdom, Konare said in his report.

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Tanzania rejects United States request to station troops in the country

Posted by African Press International on January 21, 2008

Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) Tanzania has rejected a plea from the United States to station troops in Tanzania under the auspices of US African Command (Africom), and the government is encouraging member countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to do the same, APA has learnt.

Speaking to journalists on Sunday after a weeklong conference of Tanzanian diplomats conference held in Zanzibar, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Bernard Membe said an Africom presence in the country would have created tension and worsened public opinion of SADC governments.

Africom is the US Department of Defenses new unified combatant command for the continent, to be responsible for US military operations in and military relations with 53 African nations – an area of responsibility covering all of Africa except Egypt – and expected to be fully operational by September 2008.

When he announced the formation of Africom in February 2006, US President George W. Bush described it as a force that would bring stability to the continent.

“Africom will strengthen our security cooperation with Africa and create new opportunities to bolster the capabilities of our partners in Africa,” he said. “It will enhance our efforts to bring peace and security to the people of Africa, and promote our common goals of development, health, education, democracy and economic growth in Africa.”

Reactions to the endeavour have been chilly, though, and the United States has yet to find a spot on African soil to set up shop. The interim location for Africom headquarters is Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart in Germany.

“On this issue, we were clear – we told the US that we cannot help them on this,” Membe said, “and we told SADC countries that this programme might stir unnecessary tension in our countries.”

Membe said though Tanzania values its friendly relationship with the United States, it cannot compromise when it comes to matters of security. Nonetheless, he said Tanzanias diplomatic relations with the United States have seen tremendous positive changes in the past few years.

“In 1998, when the US embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi were bombed simultaneously, Tanzania accorded a cooperation that the US had never seen in history,” Membe said. “This made them come closer to Tanzania.”

Membe said that the fact that the Leon Sullivan Summit – which will bring more than 3,000 African-Americans to the country – is being held here is a testament to how strong a partner Tanzania is to the United States.

Tanzania presently holds the chair on SADCs defense and security organ. The SADC member countries are Tanzania, Angola, Botswana,Lesotho,Malawi, Mozambique,Swaziland, Zambia,Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa, Mauritius, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar and Seychelles.

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Viewing Islaeli attacks in Gaza with utmost seriousness?

Posted by African Press International on January 21, 2008

Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) The international community has been urged to view the recent Israeli military assault against the Palestinian people with the utmost seriousness, for the short- and long-term consequences of this escalation of violence are far-ranging and could completely derail nascent peace efforts if not immediately halted, the Palestines ambassador to Tanzania saidon Sunday.

Ambassador Yousef Habbab said in a statement to the press that the international community, including the UN Security Council, has a clear responsibility in this regard. He said Israel, the occupying power, must be compelled to cease all violations against the Palestinian people and to respect international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention.

“The occupying power must be urged to pursue the path of peace in good faith and, in addition to ceasing violations, to undertake real confidence-building measures to improve the situation on the ground and advance the peace process towards its ultimate goals of peace and security for both people,” Habbab said in the statement.

“The situation in the Gaza Strip is particularly grave,” the ambassador continued. “There the Palestinian civilians population remains under a crippling siege and continues to suffer a humanitarian crisis that is deeply worsened by such illegal acts of violence and terror by the occupying power.”

In 10 days, he said, Israel has poisoned the atmosphere, inevitably condemning peace efforts and fueling the dreaded cycle of violence that has so long plagued the area.

The Israeli occupying forces launched a large-scale attack against civilian areas in Gaza City, targeting Al-Zaitun and Al-Shujaiya neighbourhoods of the city last week, he said.

“On January 15, the occupying forces in tanks, armored vehicles and bulldozers raged through the areas under the cover of helicopter gun-ships and war planes, killing at least 19 Palestinians – including a 65-year-old man – while 50 others were injured in the attacks and many of them are reported to have lost limbs in the onslaught,” Habbab said.

According to his statement, more than 4,899 Palestinian civilians, including children, have been killed by the Israel occupying forces since September 2000.

“Even as we engage in direct bilateral negotiations in the fragile peace process resumed between the Palestinian and Israeli sides, the occupying power – rather than promoting calm and undertaking confidence-building measures – has instead intensified its military campaign spreading more death, destruction and terror among the civilian population, particularly in the Gaza Strip,” Habbab said.

“Peacemaking cannot survive in an environment where all kinds of grave breaches of the law are being committed by the occupying power.” he concluded.

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Ugandan pilgrim accused of crime while attending the Hajj in Mecca detained by the Saudis

Posted by African Press International on January 21, 2008

Kampala (Uganda) While 1000 Ugandan Muslims went for the Hajj in Mecca this year, only 999 have returned, leaving one behind in prison, APA has learnt

This has been revealed by the chairman of the Ugandan Hajj Commission, Sheik Hussein Kirya, while addressing journalists in Kampala on Sunday. He disclosed that one of the pilgrims, Hijja Suud, hailing from the Western region, was arrested by police in Mecca and was sent to Saudi Arabias general prison for an offence he refused to reveal. Other sources however alleged that the pilgrim was caught stealing some jewellery.

Kirya said that they have requested the government of Uganda to contact the Saudi Arabia government and see if Nsereko can be deported and tried in Uganda.

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Uganda peacekeepers return home from Somalia

Posted by African Press International on January 21, 2008

Kampala (Uganda) The first contingent of Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) soldiers who were deployed in Somalia as part of the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia have returned after completing their tour of duty, APA has learnt.

The contingent, which comprised 1,800 soldiers, was met at Entebbe international airport by the Defence Minister, Crispus Kiyonga and the commander of the land forces, General Katumba Wamala.

Most of them were visibly happy, waving signs of victory as they disembarked from the plane.

In March last year, Uganda sent 1,800 peacekeepers to war-scarred Mogadishu, the Somali capital, which had been plagued by violence since a coalition of warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991 and then turned on each other.

The UPDF were intended to form part of an 8, 000-strong African Union peacekeeping force, though so far, no other African country except Burundi has sent soldiers.

Somali troops and their Ethiopian allies were battling Islamic insurgents in the lawless country in the Horn of Africa, which was awash with weapons, deeply impoverished and divided by clan loyalties.

But so far, there has also been little progress in helping the fragile United Nations-backed Somali government assert much control and stem the violence in the country.

Meanwhile, Uganda has Friday morning despatched another 800 UPDF soldiers to Somalia. The soldiers are expected to participate in the intensive training of an army for the Somali Transitional Federal Government.

Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga told journalists at Entebbe Airport Friday that among the mandate of Ugandas soldiers in Somali, is to equip the army there with skills to protect its country against aggression.

He said that over the next 12 months, the Ugandan troops will work closely with their Somali counterparts to rebuild and strengthen the Somali army.

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Opposition mounts against president’s intention to revise constitution to unlimit terms of office

Posted by African Press International on January 21, 2008

By Tansa Musa, Yaounde, Cameroon
YAOUNDE, – The government of Cameroon has banned public meetings and demonstrations in the country’s economic capital, the port town of Douala, in a bid to contain mounting opposition to president Paul Biya’s declared intention to amend the constitutional to unlimit the presidential terms of office so that he can run again in 2011 when his present second seven-year term expires.
“Public meetings and demonstrations, particularly protest marches in streets and highways, are henceforth prohibited in Douala and all over the Littoral Province,” according to an arrete published by the governor for the Littoral province Francis Fai Yengo during the week. The measure is to ensure and maintain public order, he added, putting all security forces within the city of 3 million inhabitants and the entire province on alert.
The decision came in the wake of two protest marches in streets of the town to denounce the president’s declared intention in a nationwide address last December 31 to modify article 6.2 of the 1996 constitution which raised the presidential term of office from five to seven years renewable once. The president claimed he was responding to calls by the “vast majority” of Cameroonians for him to continue in office so as to complete his umfinished work as chief executive.
“Many calls in favour of a revision are reaching me from all our provinces. I am obviously not indifferent to them. In fact, there are arguments for a revision, particularly Article 6 which indeed imposes a limitation of the people’s will, a limitation which is out of tune with the very idea of democratic choice,” he said.
In itself, he added, a constitutional revision is nothing unusual as the constitution contains procedures which enable it. “We are therefore going to reconsider, in this spirit, those provisions of our constitution which would need to be harmonized with recent developments in our democratic system so as to meet the expectations of the vast majority of our population.”
The declaration sparked strong opposition from across the country, including from within his ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) and from his power base which are the Beti/Bulu tribesmen of the Centre and South provinces. But the opposition took a special dimension in Douala following two protest marches organised, first by the main opposition Social Democratic Front (SDF) and, secondly, a group of civil society organisations led by self-styled activist and nationalist Mboua Massock. In the first case, the authorities were taken unawares and failed to react. But in the second, riot police and gendarmes were sent to violently stop the demonstration. Massock himself was arrested and detained for seven hours and interrogated before his release.
But the protesters had made their point with the many placards they carried. “Biya must go in 2011,” said one of them. “Bye bye Paul Biya,” “Biya, we have had too much of you. Enough is enough”, “Biya touch not our constitution,” said the others.
SDF leader John Fru Ndi said such an amendment would make Biya life president of Cameroon because under the present electoral system in the country nobody can beat him in any election. “This is not acceptable. We in the SDF believe in the alternation of power, even if it means it has to change hands from one person to another within the CPDM…But changing the constitution to allow one man rule for life is only an invitation to civil unrest. We will oppose it by all means. We are ready to sacrifice our lives for that and we call on all Cameroonians who love this country to join us in this noble battle.”
Garga Haman Adjo who heads the opposition Alliance for Democracy and Development (ADD) party, reminded Biya of his Venezuelan colleague Hugo Chavez, who despite his popularity within the country, woefully failed in trying to manipulate the constitution to suit his personal whims and caprices. “Do not abuse the confidence the people have in you…Cameroonians will not be fooled,” he stated.
But perhaps the hardest of them all has come from Hon. Paul Abine Ayah, member of parliament of Biya’s own CPDM party for the Akwaya constituency in southwestern Cameroon. The president’s plan to scarp Article 6.2 of the constitution, he said, would plunge the country into chaos, likened to the ongoing crisis in Kenya and what happened in the Ivory Coast some years ago.
“The president’s speech was a very big embarrassment to me. I think if the president had seen the situation in Kenya he would not have delivered that speech,” he said. “Remember that Kenya was seen as a model state in East Africa, Ivory Coast as a model state in West Africa and Cameroon as a model state in Central Africa. Ivory Coast and Kenya have been thrown into turmoil. I have a lot of apprehension for Cameroon. I am not certainly an advocate of chaos, but I can see Cameroon virtually following in their footsteps.”
All in all, Cameroonians of all works of life, including the civil society, trade unions, political activists within the opposition and the governing party argue unlimiting the terms of office of government is tantamount to installing a totalitarian type of government and vow to oppose it by all means when the time comes, even if it means disregarding the ban on public demonstrations and meetings in Douala.
Biya came to power in 1982 as the hand-picked successor of Cameroon’s independence President Ahmadou Ahidjo. Many Cameroonians criticise his leadership for undermining one of Africa’s most robust economies. Economic growth plunged from 7 percent in 1982 to minus 5 percent in 1990, although it recovered to 3.5 percent in 2006. Critics say that however remains below potential given the country’s rich agriculture and deposits of oil and minerals.
This country that straddles West and Central Africa of 18 million inhabitants was twice ranked as the most corrupt country in the world by Transparency International in 1998 and 1989, and continues to feature among the most corrupt today, what most Cameroonians are not proud of.
Amid the mounting opposition, the president seems determined go ahead with his plan. Afterall his CPDM party enjoys an absolute majority in Cameroon’s rump parliament, with 153 of 180 seats.(END)
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