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Archive for March 20th, 2008

Failure to vote by some MPs did not stop the historic changes in parliament

Posted by African Press International on March 20, 2008

MPs who did not vote

Story by EMMAN OMARI
Publication Date: 3/20/2008

At least 19 MPs failed to vote during the historic debate on the Constitutional Amendment Bill tabled in Parliament on Tuesday .

President Kibaki contributing to proceedings on the floor of the house on Tuesday. MPs unanimously voted in favour of the two bills creating the post of prime minister and entrenching a peace agreement in the constitution.

Most of those who failed to vote were from ODM. However, Sabatia MP Musalia Mudavadi defended them, saying there were various reasons why they did not vote. Some were time-barred and others were out of the country on official duties.

Earlier on Tuesday, there had been reports that some PNU and ODM-K MPs had planned to vote against the constitutional amendment on the grounds that it gave too much power to the proposed Prime Minister. However, no MP voted against the Bill which was supported by 200 MPs in the first stage and 197 in the second round.

The Tenth Parliament has 216 MPs, meaning that 19 did not vote in the final round. The two Bills, which included a constitutional amendment, paved the way for the formation of a grand coalition government.

Missed first vote

According to two lists presented to the Speaker of the National Assembly after voting, 16 MPs missed in the first vote where 200 MPs voted in favour of the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill which created the posts of Prime Minister and two deputies.

However, some of the MPs who failed to vote during the first round voted at the final stage where the Bill was passed with the support of 197 MPs.

No MPs opposed the Constitutional Amendment Bill or abstained from voting for it. This means that those who did not vote were absent.

The constitutional Bill, which President Kibaki signed into law later the same evening, created the PMs post and entrenched the National Accord and Reconciliation Act in the Constitution.

The Reconciliation Act had earlier been passed by a simple majority on Tuesday evening. An ordinary Act of Parliament is not subjected to physical voting like a Constitutional Amendment Bill.

The Act provides for the sharing of power between the President and Prime Minister-designate Raila Odinga.

It also paved way for the President and Mr Odinga to name a new government, probably after the Easter holidays.

The two are expected to form a grand coalition that will bring together MPs from ODM, PNU, ODM-K and other parties in a power sharing agreement brokered by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan.

On Tuesday evening, Aldai MP Sally Kosgei, for instance, voted at the final stage although she did not vote at the initial stage.

Seven MPs who failed to vote in the final round had voted in the first stage. They included Mr Martin Ogindo (ODM), Mr Ahmed Sugow (Kanu), Mr Calist Mwatela (ODM), Mr Peter Kenneth (PNU), Mr Francis Nyammo (PNU), Mr Isaac Muoki (ODM-K) and Mr Harun Mwau of PICK.

Locked out

Mr Mudavadi said: A number of them were locked out of the Chamber when the bar was drawn. Usually, no MP is allowed into the Chamber once the bell summoning MPs is rang and the bars are drawn by parliamentary orderlies.

The MPs who voted in the first round but kept away in the final may have been time barred. Mr Mudavadi said: Their failure to vote does not mean that they had opposed the historic constitutional amendment that has saved the country from collapsing.

An official at Parliament also confirmed that some MPs might have been barred after the quorum bell rang.

Eldoret East MP Margaret Kamar (ODM) and Mukurweini MP Kabando wa Kabando who were among those who did not vote are in Brussels, Belgium, attending a conference.

The Tuesday session which was attended by President Kibaki unanimously passed the two laws.

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Watching the power sharing deal and Raila’s political future?

Posted by African Press International on March 20, 2008

Power-sharing deal might ruin Railas future

If Prime Minister-designate, Mr Raila Odinga, does not play his political cards right, the grand coalition might finish him politically. That he succumbed to PNU demands that there be no snap election if one partner walks out of the coalition and that the President is the Head of State and Government, are things he must be careful with.

This happened although the United States Secretary of State, Dr Condoleeza Rice, had assured Kenyans that the power sharing would be real and that the Prime Minister would have executive powers.

Raila admitted that the President be Head of State and Government. Many Kenyans expected real power-sharing to place the President as the Head of State and Prime Minister head of Government.

The President has wielded too much powers and responsibilities and this has been the cause of most political problems the country has witnessed.

Justice minister, Ms Martha Karua, recently said she knew she was seen as a hardliner in the mediation talks but explained that she was defending and stating what her master had asked her to.

PNU hardliners and President Kibakis allies are saying ministries such as Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Defence and Internal Security, which also cover Provincial Administration, cannot be surrendered.

The deal must address issues such as inequality in employment in the Civil Service and State corporations. It should also address past injustices.

Placing the Vice-President above prime minister was a mistake. But how could Ambassador Francis Muthaura have talked on such governance arrangements without the knowledge of the President? Raila must watch out.

The trashing of the 2002 memorandum of understanding between LDP and NAK, and the sacking of LDP ministers after the referendum were lessons to learn.

Kibakis sudden change of heart in the power-sharing agreement raised eyebrows and many thought it was a wise way of ending the talks while still thinking of a new scheme to scuttle ODMs demands.

And with the utterances of Kibakis loyalists, time seems to be proving political observers right.

Ayoki Onyango,

via e-mail.

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Puzzle over Cabinet posts

Posted by African Press International on March 20, 2008

By Standard TeamThe final pieces of the power-sharing jigsaw started falling into place with the gazettement of the requisite law to create the Office of Prime Minister and two deputies.

But in the background of intense lobbying and behind-the-scenes manoeuvring by key players over the new Grand Coalition, two puzzles remained to be tackled: What ministries would go to PNU and which ones to newfound partner ODM; and who would be the new office holders.

Already, ODM leader Raila Odinga is the presumed Prime Minister but his two deputies remain unknown, though Mr Musalia Mudavadi is widely tipped to occupy one of them.

While ODM-Kenya leader Kalonzo Musyoka is the current Vice-President, a position he may continue to hold, the rest of the Cabinet positions whose number is yet to be determined but is believed to be 34 are up for grabs, following Parliaments enactment of the power sharing deal on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, a special issue of the Kenya Gazette dated March 18 and which formally entrenches the PM power structure into the Constitution also made it clear that only Parliament can terminate the tenure of a sitting PM or that of his deputies.

On Wednesday, there was an expectant mood among Kenyans and the international community as they continued to keenly watch how President Kibaki and the Prime Minister-designate would reconstitute the new government.

It transpired that the new Cabinet could not be named on Wednesday, despite the lightning speed with which the Accord Bills sailed through Parliament on Tuesday after which they were promptly assented to and gazetted.

President Kibaki, who on Monday said he would name the new Cabinet in a few days, was in Uganda on official visit.

It is understood that he would not complete the task until after the Easter weekend reportedly not later than Tuesday leaving room for more lobbying, scheming and plotting by both sides of the political divide.

Raila, who held a morning meeting with his key lieutenants at Pentagon House, is understood to have finalised the list of 17 names from the party that the President is expected to incorporate into the Cabinet.Sources said the 17 slots were distributed based on regional representation and a delicate power balancing act. The party has MPs in all provinces except Central Province.

The proposed names were made available to The Standard but it was understood the final approval would be subject to a discussion between the two principals President Kibaki and Raila.

PNU which already has 17 ministers in a half-Cabinet that consists of allies ODM-K and Kanu continued to soak in pressure from its MPs seeking to be included in Government, even as Assistant ministers.

Another vicious war was being played out between two opposing camps over the second Deputy Prime Minister position reserved for PNU. Kanu has been pushing for its chairman, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, while Narc-Kenya has been lobbying for Justice minister, Ms Martha Karua.

Sources in Government indicated that Kibaki could reconstitute the Cabinet afresh rather than just adding the ODMs list. This would mean a major reshuffle that would finely mix the ODM and PNU MPs in slots to be shared on a 50-50 basis. The same case would apply to assistant minister positions.

Lean governmentThis would also allow Kibaki to bring in more Cabinet ministers from ODM-K and Kanu, and possibly drop at least two ministers, according to a top PNU source who sought anonymity.

Sources said ODM, the party with majority members in Parliament, also appeared to favour such a scenario.

And following the drawing of the ODM list of 17, it is increasingly becoming clear that the Cabinet may have no fewer than 34 ministers.

On Wednesday, the civil society expressed displeasure at the expected “bloated government structure”.

The civil society, which is pushing for a lean Government, asked President Kibaki not to bow to pressure to reward individuals seeking Cabinet portfolio.

On Wednesday, Chief Mediator Oluyemi Adeniji said the eyes of the international community were riveted on the final steps of the power-sharing process.

Adeniji, who spoke at the Serena Hotel, said: “Kenyans should celebrate the passing of the crucial Bills. The process is almost complete but the announcement of the coalition government will be the clincher.”

ODM sources said the party line-up had Rift Valley Province staking a claim to five Cabinet slots, given its vast nature and the fact that it does not occupy any of the top two positions of the Prime Minister or their deputy. The province also delivered the largest single vote block for the party.

Nyanza is expected to have three slots, same as Western Province while the Coast and Eastern regions would get two slots apiece.

“Whereas it is not possible to please everybody, this is the only possible way to share out the positions. But we know there will be a lot of discontent that will have to be dealt with,” said the source.

ODM also have the position of Speaker of the National Assembly held by Mr Kenneth Marende and that of his deputy, occupied by Lagdera MP Farah Maalim.

On Wednesday, sources said a PNU list in which slots are shared out between PNU, ODM-Kenya and Kanu had also been finalised.

The sources said both President Kibaki and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka had already agreed on how they would share out their seats.

More lobbying in PNU was reported from the larger Meru districts whose MPs have written to President Kibaki asking for two more Cabinet slots.

The area already has a Cabinet post held by Energy minister Kiraitu Murungi.

Speaking to The Standard on Tuesday after a Parliamentary Group meeting of the government coalition, Kiraitu said the Meru bloc provided a large vote for the President.

“We are asking that our support be recognised by giving us three seats, Kiraitu said.

Meanwhile, the search for a physical office for the Prime Minister was top on the Government agenda ahead of the naming of the new Cabinet.

ODM was said to have tabled a proposal on the location of the PMs office, which would be considered alongside four other locations that include Harambee House, the Treasury Building and the Foreign Affairs Building.

Contacted by The Standard on Wednesday, ODM Secretary-General Prof Anyang Nyongo, said he was not part of a team of eight said to be spearheading the search for the PMs office location.

However, sources said that a team of ODM members, led by Chairman Henry Kosgey, and the PNU side led by, the Head of Public Service, Mr Francis Muthaura, were making progress.

Stories by Martin Mutua, Ayub Savula and Joseph Murimi

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Kibaki approves bill on power sharing

Posted by African Press International on March 20, 2008

President assents to power sharing bill

Written By:PPS,Posted: Tue, Mar 18, 2008

President Mwai Kibaki Tuesday evening at Parliament buildings assented to the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2008.

The signing into law of the bill by the President will pave the way for the creation of the posts of Prime Minister and two Deputy Prime Ministers as required by the envisioned in the grand coalition.

The new laws are a key part of enacting a power-sharing deal between Kibaki, who leads the Party of National Unity (PNU) and Raila Odinga, leader of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).

The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill was first to be passed on Tuesday, by a unanimous 200-0 majority.

The amendment created the positions of a prime minister and two deputies in the cabinet.

The newly-created prime ministerial post has been designated for Odinga.

The next step was to pass a new law creating these posts in a new unity government, and set out the terms for power sharing in the cabinet.

The law says that the governing coalition between the PNU and the ODM can be dissolvedshould one of the partners withdraw.

Odinga’s party and Kibaki’s coalition will each name a deputy prime minister, while the cabinet will be split evenly between both sides to form a unity government.

The agreement between Kibaki and Odinga was reached after weeks of mediation led by Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general.

Both sides have agreed to set up a committee that will outline policies for the coalition government to be formed in the near future.

The billalso seeks to entrench the National Accord into the constitution among other requirements.

At the same time Kibakipledged his full support for a comprehensive constitutional review that would lead to the attainment of a new constitution within one year.

President Kibaki expressed confidence that with the experience the country has gained on constitution making, legal experts could craft an all-inclusive document based on the inputs of Kenyans to capture the aspirations of wananchi.

“Putting in place a new constitution would form the basis for building a new Kenya and facilitate the country to join the new world,” said the president.

The President was making his contribution in parliamentin support of a motion towards the passing of the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2008 that would create the position of a Prime Minister and passing of the National Accord and Reconciliation Bill.

The President at the same time cautioned the legislators and Kenyans in general against the distractions that have always slowed down the efforts of achieving a new constitution.

The President observed: “distractions must not be tolerated this time and demands for the creation committees to review the constitution in piecemeal must be avoided.”

Urging the legislators to spend any available time to lay ground for a new constitution, President Kibaki acknowledged that the same great minds that have been involved in demand for a new constitution for the past 10 years are still members of the tenth parliament.

The Head of the State further asked the legislators to remain focused on pertinent issues and reminded them to seize the newly found spirit of unity to address longstanding concerns that continue to afflict this country.

With regard to the youths, the president said that he harbours great concern for the young generation, which he termed as the future of the country.

He at the same praised Kenyans for their entrepreneurial skills and traveling widely thus contributing enormously to development in various parts on Africa and the entire world at large.

President Kibaki also urged Kenyans to abandon backward and retrogressive concepts citing the example of certain people claiming their ancestral lands in exclusion of other communities in the country.

“How can educated Kenyans champion eviction other people from lands they have lived for many years. Kenyans can and have settled and are doing well in all parts of the country. Abandon the concept that you have an ancestral land exclusive other communities,” said the president.

The President also exuded confidence that after going through the challenging political events early this year, the country would achieve an economic growth rate of 10 per cent in the near future.

In his contribution Prime Minister designate, Raila Odinga, said the country has an opportunity to undertake comprehensive reforms in all sectors to bequeath future generations a better Kenya.

He said MPs should continue to work towards reconciliation and support a drive to address key underlying issues.

”A time has come for us to hold a national ethnic conference where we will have representatives from all the 42 tribes in the country come together to discuss openly how we want to lead this country,” he said.

The Prime Minister designate thanked all friends of Kenya for intervening when the country was quarrelling and reiterated his commitment to witness the eradication of various deep-seated vices such as ethnicity, land reforms and denial of justice.

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Democratisation making very slow progress

Posted by African Press International on March 20, 2008

From Carstein Michels,

Berlin, 19. March 2008: International comparisons indicate that East and Southern Africa are stagnating in their development. The German Bertelsmann Foundation Transformation Index, a comparative investigation of 125 transformation states published today in Berlin, has arrived at this evaluation. Although some countries have made significant strides on the road to democracy and a market economy, the vast majority are characterised by very little significant change.

The latest developments in four countries should be pointed out in the context of democratic development. In Namibia, the new president has managed to help the country achieve a place among the consolidating democracies through his less dogmatic and strongly dialogue-orientated treatment of minorities and the opposition. Uganda must still be considered a defective democracy, even though constitutional change and the lifting of restrictions on political parties represent a step in the right direction. Burundi is moving in the same direction, albeit at a lesser pace, having risen from the ranks of authoritarian post-conflict states through the promulgation of a new constitution and elections which were consequently broadly free and fair. Angola has also managed to improve its status, primarily through consolidation of its statehood, though the elections promised by the dos Santos government have failed to materialise.

The countries which have progressed furthest in their democratic development are Mauritius, South Africa and Botswana, with government systems which have also achieved good ratings in comparisons with all the 125 states investigated by the Transformation Index. The majority of other countries exhibited serious deficiencies in part when it came to the areas of participation and systems distinguished by the rule of law. Distribution of power only exists on paper in many cases. In contrast to this, there is a generally high level of support for democratic values among the populations. In comparisons with West and Central Africa, a positive characteristic is that statehood problems in the east and south of the continent are relatively negligible, the exception here being Somalia.

The vast majority of states in the region are far removed from the realisation of a market economy flanked by functioning social political systems. Only Mauritius, South Africa and Botswana lie above the average when it comes to social economic development. The investigation also underlies the fact that, despite extensive remission of debts, the level of overall debt remains very high, and structural problems in national economies have by no means been overcome. A major weak point identified by the Transformation Index is widespread poverty and the inability of the majority of these countries to reduce this to any substantial degree. This diagnosis is accompanied by social security systems which are in many cases extremely poorly developed and frequently inadequate educational institutions.

The ten most successful transformation states in the Southern and East Africa region rated in the Transformation Index 2008:

Country Regional position International position
Mauritius 1 16
South Africa
2 18
Botswana
3 19
Namibia
4 27
Madagascar
5 45
Uganda
6 47
Zambia
7 58
Kenya
8 61
Tanzania
9 62
Mozambique
10 67

About the Transformation Index:

The Bertelsmann Foundation Transformation Index analyses and evaluates the quality of democracy, market economics and political management in 125 developing and transformation countries. Successes and setbacks are measured on the road to democracy, the rule of law and a market economy distinguished by social-political characteristics. Detailed national appraisals form the basis for an evaluation of development status and problems and the abilities of the political players involved to implement consistent and targeted reforms. The Bertelsmann Foundation Transformation Index is therefore the first international comparative index to measure the quality of government using unilaterally-compiled data and a comprehensive analysis of the political design performance in transformation processes. Further information is available at: www.bertelsmann-transformation-index.de.
About the Bertelsmann Foundation:

The German Bertelsmann Foundation is a non-profit foundation which is committed to the common good. It is involved in the fields of international understanding, education, economics, social affairs and health and promotes peaceful cooperation between cultures. The foundation was established in 1977 by the German media business leader Reinhard Mohn as a non-commercial institution and holds a majority of shares in Bertelsmann AG. The Bertelsmann Foundation operates independently from the company and German government institutions and is politically neutral.

Further information on the Bertelsmann Foundation is available in the internet at:

www.bertelsmann-stiftung.de

Contacts:

Project Manager Sabine Donner,
sabine.donner@bertelsmann.de
Tel.: ++49 – 5241 8181 501

Project Manager Dr. Hauke Hartmann,
hauke.hartmann@bertelsmann.de
Tel.: ++49 - 5241 8181 389

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South Africa: Sleeping giant has awoken but is yet to prove itself

Posted by African Press International on March 20, 2008

The winds of change are blowing through the corridors of Parliament, or so it seems. Since some time last year, there have clearly been a few shifts within the African National Congresss (ANCs) parliamentary caucus.

This year, further structural change came in the form of a new chief whip, the younger, more energetic, Nathi Mthethwa. He replaced the rather lethargic Isaac Mogase, inauspiciously caught napping in his seat in the early days of his new job.

Since the arms deal, one could argue that Parliament has been virtually emasculated. The story of a public accounts committee torn asunder by party political pressure is a well-known one. MPs such as the ANCs Andrew Feinstein, Gavin Woods, then of the IFP, and the Democratic Alliances Raenette Taljaard were all, in one way or another, casualties of the parliamentary investigation into the arms deal. Feinsteins dramatic descent into the political wilderness for asking difficult questions about the arms deal was a warning to MPs who dared flex their muscles against the executive.

But those were very different political times, characterised by an unassailable executive. Post-Polokwane, the political landscape remains most fluid. Crucially, power has seeped away from the executive as the ANC grapples with the now stark differences between the party in government and Luthuli House. The fluidity continues to express itself in all areas of our public discourse and within our institutions generally. Parliament is no different in that respect. The ANC parliamentary caucus simply reflects the political fluidity of the moment. It is for this reason that MPs suddenly find themselves with the political space for manoeuvre and the ability to question the executive openly.

In the past week alone, we have seen Parliament take on several thorny issues. It has wrestled with the S A B C s report on the black-listing of certain analysts on its news broadcasts, it has hauled Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang to Parliament, has rapped home affairs director-general Mavuso Msimang over the knuckles (probably unfairly) and has taken Cricket SA to task on issues of transformation. And there are several other examples, from the public accounts committees dealing with the Land Bank and several other departments with qualified audits, to the correctional services committee, which in the person of its chairman, Dennis Bloem, has become more proactive.

So, how do we make sense of this sudden reinvigoration of Parliament? Some see the newfound robustness as a certain democratic dividend of Polokwane. For too long now, Parliament has been tired, mostly reactive and seldom proactive in raising debate or questioning the status quo. In addition, the so-called Travelgate saga did not assist Parliament in retaining public trust or improving its image as a rubber stamp for the executive in some quarters. Never before has the health minister, even during the height of the AIDS crisis, been called to account.

Indeed, as radio talk show host John Perlman pointed out last week, the ANC within Parliament has been rather late in calling for accountability within the public broadcaster on its blacklisting report. Where has Parliament been on these and other key issues over the past years? The examples of robust oversight have been there over the years, but they have been few and far between and far too dependent on personalities to drive the issues. So energetic and principled MPs such as Jeremy Cronin, Barbara Hogan, Kader Asmal, Ben Turok and others have often shown up their more complacent colleagues.

What is clear and probably predictable is that the ANC within Parliament is unable to separate itself from the political turmoil within the party. As the party list conference and next years elections loom, there will inevitably be tensions as party members fight to retain their positions on the party list. The question for the ANC within Parliament is how it is able to use the political space to ensure that oversight over the executive does not become a game of opportunistic brinkmanship, but really does become about holding the executive to account in a way which places public interest above that of the party.

This will mean that those MPs who are earnest in their attempt to reinvigorate Parliament as the articulator of the will of citizens and a true Peoples Parliament will be in a position to use the political space creatively and constructively, as the constitution envisages. But Parliament is not only for the ANC, despite its overwhelming electoral majority. Opposition parties also have a vital role to play in ensuring that the executive is held to account. Inasmuch as space is opening for members of the ruling party, it creates new spaces for opposition MPs to extract concessions or work towards consensus, if that is appropriate.

It also provides an opportunity for the opposition to think more strategically about its role within Parliament. Is the opposition merely a shrill, reactive force or is it seriously attempting to engage with the most difficult issues of the day? Whether the new sense of robustness within Parliament is a truly democratic dividend, only time will tell. There is a chance for this to be a precedent-setting political moment, one in which members of the executive are called to account in ways that entrench a culture of oversight and accountability, thereby enhancing Parliament as a pivotal national institution.

The true test for the ANC within Parliament will, of course, come after next years elections. With a new executive in place, will ANC MPs continue to hold the executive to account in so vociferous a manner? If it does, then South African citizens can truly say they have reaped the benefits of Polokwane.

*February is head of Idasas political information & monitoring service.

 

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Posted by African Press International on March 20, 2008

mohamed-legally-cole.jpg<From Mohamed Legally-Cole

The First Conference of Humanitarian Organization in the OIC Member States gathered in the resort of Sally Portudal in the Republic of Senegal from 7 to 9 March 2008. – Inspired by the provisions of the Ten-Year Programme of Action to meet the challenges facing the Islamic Ummah in the Twenty-First Century adopted by the Extraordinary Session of the Islamic Summit Conference held in Makkah Al Mukarramah, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in Dhulqaadah 1426H (December 2005);

– In pursuance of the resolutions adopted by the 34th session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers, held from 28 to 30 Rabiul Thani 1428H (15-17 May 2007) in Islamabad, Islamic Republic of Pakistan;– Guided by the outcome of the Consultative Meeting Preparatory to the First Conference of Humanitarian Organizations in the OIC Member States, which was held in the City of Doha, Qatar, on 15-16 January 2008.
-Upon the kind invitation of His Excellency Mr. Abdoulaye Wade, President of the Republic of Senegal; – And given the belief of charitable and humanitarian organizations in the importance of joint humanitarian action, of ensuring the conditions of its success and raising its standard through cooperation with the Organization of the Islamic Conference, makes the following recommendations:I. Recommendations of the Workshop on Capacity Building and Databases

1. Call on government bodies to support the capacity building programmes of charitable and humanitarian organizations and to develop this sector so as to ensure the scientific professionalism required to contribute effectively to development efforts.2. Root the concepts of humanitarian work in Islamic values and principles.3. Establish within the OIC a centre for studies, information and training to be concerned with the work of organizations, disasters, crises and development needs in the Member States, it being understood that the States and humanitarian organizations will contribute to its establishment and provide it with information

4. Work towards benefiting from the expertise and the efforts of international organizations in building the capacities of Islamic organizations and in developing databases.

II. Recommendations of the workshop on the national legislations on charitable and humanitarian action in the OIC Member States.

1. Observe within the framework of the national legislations and the establishment of oversight institutions a balance between the independence of charitable and humanitarian institutions and the criteria of control and oversight according to the best international practices.2. Encourage consultation and particular participation with the charitable and humanitarian organizations in drawing up or developing national legislations.3. Prepare formulations of legal models, rules and regulations for charitable and humanitarian work within the framework of the OIC to be used as a guide and inspiration by the Member States.

4. Establish a committee in Member States parliaments and councils in charge of relations with humanitarian and charitable organizations in these States.

5. Energize the role of Zakaat, Waqfs, financing and local donations in Member States to support charitable and humanitarian action and fill the legislative gaps therein.

6. Endeavor to adopt codes of conduct and a code of honor for humanitarian and charitable action in the Member States of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

III Relations between Humanitarian Organizations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference

1. Welcome the adoption of consultative status to regulate and advance the relationship between humanitarian organizations in the Member States and the OIC in pursuance of resolutions 1/34-ORG and 3/34-ORG adopted by the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers, calling upon Member States to support the Secretary-Generals efforts to that end.2. Endeavor to develop the relationship between humanitarian organizations and the OIC in accordance with the best practices at the international level.3. Stress the role of the OIC as a coordinator in emergency humanitarian situations, proceeding from the fact that this relation is one of coordination, cooperation and complementarity.

4. Help provide information and technical assistance in the humanitarian and charitable field.

5. Endeavor to create a relief fund to support humanitarian and charitable action in the Muslim world.

6. Take advantage of the international early warning system to strengthen capacities in the areas of preparedness and response in the Muslim world.

7. Organize humanitarian and charitable NGOs annual meeting ahead of the ICFM meetings.

8. Establish a department within the General Secretariat of OIC mandated to oversee humanitarian issues and coordinate relations with the humanitarian and charitable NGOs in OIC member States to achieve the objectives enshrined in the OIC Ten-Year Programme of Action, in this regard.

9. Establish a joint expert committee entrusted with developing the final proposals for organizing and regulating the legal relationship between the OIC and humanitarian organizations in the Member States for submission to the 35th session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers due to be held in Uganda.

10. Improve the perception of humanitarian organizations and of their activities in order to counter any denigration campaigns against.

11. Appoint goodwill Ambassadors from eminent Islamic personalities to encourage and coordinate partnership among humanitarian and charitable NGOs.

12. Send a vote of thanks letter to Heads of OIC States through H.E. Matre Abdoulaye WADE, President of the Republic of Senegal.13. Thank the Government and People of Senegal for the hospitality extended and reiterate its gratitude to OIC, the Qatar Authority for Charitable Activities and Action de Solidarit Islamique (ASI) for the excellent organization of the conference. 14. The conference approved the proposal of the World Call Islamic Society of Libya to host the Second Conference of Islamic Humanitarian and Charitable NGOs in OIC Member States. OIC will ensure coordination in this regard.Sally Portudal, Senegal, on 9/3/2008 Published by API africanpress@getmail.no

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Uganda: Country begins market survey for oil

Posted by African Press International on March 20, 2008

Kampala (Uganda) – Even before commercial quantities of Ugandas newly found oil are determined, a top official in the petroleum exploration and production department has said studies have commenced to find out the regions oil demands.

Popular belief is that you cannot engage in a study of that kind unless you know the actual reserves but initial results, which show that there could be close to a billion barrels of oil, have convinced the authorities to go ahead with such a study. Studies are being done to find out the exact demand for oil in the region to be able to export, Mr. Reuben Kashambuzi, the commissioner petroleum exploration and production department told the northern corridor spatial development programme meeting in Kampala.

The meeting was called to achieve consensus amongst stakeholders on the idea that there is a significant regional economic development opportunity that could be realised if the existing northern transport corridor was to be transformed into a development corridor. Kashambuzi did not give details about the study but took the delegates, who were drawn from around the Great Lakes region, through Ugandas oil prospects so far. Kashambuzi presented a paper titled the petroleum potential of the Great Lakes region, a key ingredient to the proposed northern development corridor.

Two prospecting companies; Heritage Oil of Canada and Tullow Oil of the UK have made discoveries, with the first one having been made in 2006. The first discovery at Mputa has since followed by eight drilled oil wells. The Kingfisher well by Heritage Kashambuzi said has flowed the largest (close to 14,000 barrels of oil per day). He said that the flow tests indicate the potential is there but cautioned that the test figures should not excite people simply because there are other indicators that have not yet been looked at.

He said that the discoveries Uganda has made are unprecedented. He said there has been tremendous success because of all the eight wells, there has not been a single one where hydrocarbons have not been found. Estimates indicate there is some 300 million barrels at Kaiso Tonya while the Kingfisher well could hold in excess of 500m barrels. It is the Ngassa prospect, whose drilling was suspended two weeks ago that could hold more oil if hydrocarbons are found there. If we find enough hydrocarbons in the Ngassa prospect, the prospect would be much larger than what we have so far discovered, Kashambuzi said.

The discovery of oil in the Albertine Graben on the Uganda side (not to mention the potential on the DR Congo) and many other factors is justification that the northern corridor has both inherent economic potential.
Through regional groupings like the EAC and COMESA, a development corridor initiative can be persued through the joint exploitation of the abundant natural resources which include, but are not limited to mineral deposits, oil and gas, fertile soils and tourism.

Aside from oil so far discovered in Uganda, Sudan, which is part of the northern corridor has proven reserves of oil totaling 5 billion barrels, natural gas has been discovered in Tanzania while Rwanda has 50 million cubic metres of methane gas in Lake Kivu. Although no oil has been discovered in Kenya, exploration licenses so far handed out by government is an indication that Kenya’s coastline has oil-holding rocks while oil seeps have been detected in the Lake Turkana area.

Already, there is substantial trade among the northern corridor countries. In 2005, the value of trade was approximately US$1.3 billion. In terms of volume, this has been estimated to be more than 3 million tonnes per annum. In addition, the trade of the Northern Corridor countries to and from overseas markets and passing through the port of Mombasa has steadily been increasing at the rate of over 7% per annum, rising from 10.5 million tonnes in 2002 to 14.5 million tonnes in 2006.

It is estimated that trade through the Mombasa port will exceed 20 million tonnes within the next five years. About 30% of this trade will originate or will be destined to the landlocked countries of the northern corridor.
The spatial development initiative approach will require the northern corridor countries to adopt bold measures. Such measures will include the willingness to jointly sponsor and to implement regional anchor projects.
Another challenge will be the need to develop strong public private partnerships, as the vehicle for the actual transformation of the corridor into a development corridor.

At the outset, the challenge to tapping the potential of the corridor is the lack of requisite infrastructure. Projects like the East Africa railway mater plan and the Eastern Africa power pool as well as building the roads of East Africa would go a long way in addressing the infrastructure bottlenecks to turning the transport corridor into something bigger. Kashambuzi pointed out the challenges transforming from a transport corridor to a development corridor among them the need to harmonise policies, laws and regulations, infrastructure ownership, lack of capital to invest in required infrastructure, poor infrastructure and fact that prospective oil basins are under-explored.

 

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Posted by African Press International on March 20, 2008

 

Tanzania and Rwanda are to construct a 1,435mm standard gauge railway from Isaka to Kigali, thereby connecting the countries with the regions first heavy duty wide gauge line.

American firm Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway will undertake the construction of the railway line, which is expected to speed up movement of cargo from Tanzania to Rwanda. The line will be able to tolerate heavy cargo. Pat Hiatte, general director, corporate communications at Burlington told The EastAfrican that his firm will be using the wide standard gauge instead of the narrow metre gauge. Mr Hiatte said that while narrow gauge rails are cheaper, standard gauge or broad gauge have a greater haulage capacity and allow higher speeds.

We are advising the two countries on acquisition of locomotives, railway freight cars and related equipment, he said. Dates for the construction are yet to be fixed but BNSF says the construction works will involve grubbing, grading, construction of bridges, embankments and mountain cuts, followed by laying of the 1,435 mm wide track. Since the terrain is semi-mountainous, some portions of the line will pass through tunnels. The rail project will be complemented by the rehabilitation of the Dar es Salaam-Isaka line, which is narrower at 1,000 mm.

The American firm is still evaluating the tonnage potential of the route and compiling training package for operators. Isaka, a dry port for receiving Rwandan transit goods, will become a rail terminus where the Isaka-Kigali and Dar es Salaam-Isaka lines, with their different gauges, will be integrated. The American firm has also recommended the expansion of the Dar es Salaam port to maximise its use for Rwandan imports and exports.

The viability of the Isaka-Kigali railway link was established in a study conducted in 1913 by German colonial authorities. The study identified a feasible engineering route between Isaka and Kigali. The African Development Bank sponsored another feasibility study, which was completed last year and which gave similar results. Mr Hiatte said the railway engineering design standards suggested for the development of the new railway are world class and will provide for the development of a standard gauge heavy tonnage railway.

The success of the Isaka-Kigali line, according to the company, will be determined by several factors. These are the state of co-operation between the governments of Rwanda and Tanzania, the ability to attract freight traffic and the ability of the port of Dar es Salaam to handle the tonnage. The Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (Tazara) has also adopted a wider gauge of 1,067 mm to match that of Zambia Railways.
The East African region is however predominantly a narrow gauge zone. Like Hong Kongs Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda and are mainly served by 1,000 mm gauge rail lines.

The gauge is the distance between the two rails of a railroad. Some 60 per cent of the worlds railways are already standard gauge, also called international gauge. It is expected that the project will take at least five years to complete. It will cost $2.7 million, with AfDB being the chief financier. A complementary 480 km Isaka-Lusahunga tarmac road is already in place.
The BNSF Railway is among the top transporters of intermodal traffic in North America, and moves more grain than any other American railroad.

It also hauls enough coal to generate roughly 10 per cent of the electricity produced in the United States of America.

 

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OIC calls for a Commission on prohibited interest

Posted by African Press International on March 20, 2008

mohamed-legally-cole.jpg<From Mohammed Legally-Cole)

The Senegalese leader Maitre Abdoulaye Wade, Chairman of the 11th OIC Summit held in Dakar, Senegal opened the session on Thursday 13th March 2008, proposed for the establishment of a commission in charge of assessment on how to use for the Ummah, the amounts generated by the interests on the deposits made by Islamic countries in Western banks. The commission could be made up of academicians, specialists on Islamic legislation and economists, the Senegalese head of state said in his address pronounced at the opening of the Islamic Ummah meeting.

“We must not sit idly by and wait for the European economies to share these funds,” but rather create the conditions necessary for these funds to be notably invested in Africa, he said. “We would like Arab investments” to come to Africa, “the continent of the future,” he indicated, calling his counterparts to make the economic, social and cultural relations between the OIC member countries equal to the links between them. “The Islamic solidarity must not be only expressed in the form of assistance to these countries, but also in the form of investments and partnerships.

According to President Wade, the prohibited interests generated by the deposits of Muslim countries in Western banks are estimated at about US$500 billion.

This should not be a gift to Western economies, all the more that the sudden emergence of Arab and Muslim investors on the European economic scene gives rise to fear, he stressed.

About the increase in prices of oil products, the head of sate also suggested his counterparts to see whether they could not make the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) allocate a poverty reduction fund 2 percent of the resources generated any price increases.

Maitre Wade stressed the need for an economic partnership and knowledge sharing among the OIC countries.

In another development, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade said that the Ummah states had no other choice by tackling Islam’s factor in the 21st century when addressing the delegates at the 11th OIC summit. The summit was on the theme: Islam in 21st Century.

We have no other choice by tackling this issue, Abdoulaye Wade said, calling the Ummah countries to think about the challenges of globalisation. There are complex challenges, said the head of state, who cited the climate changes, earthquakes, thaw, tsunamis, etc.

In view of the deterioration of environment and disasters, Wade asked the states to beg for God’s forgiveness. We must beg for Gods forgiveness for destroying this beautiful earth that he has left in our care.

On the issue of environment, Maitre Abdoulaye Wade called for the compliance with the Kyoto Protocol, a key international environment protection instrument.

However, Cheikh Tidiane Gadio, the Senegalese Foreign Minister revealed that the adoption of a new OIC Charter on the occasion the Dakar summit is intended to consolidate the institutions role and also give it a new boost and strengthen its relations with the officially recognised NGOs in the member states. The OIC Foreign Ministers, who met in Dakar on Tuesday 11th March 2008, in preparation for this congress, practically agreed on the organisations revised Charter which was adopted at the end of the Dakar meeting.

According to the Secretary General of the World Islamic League (WIL), Dr Abdullah Al Turki, OIC member countries need to meet the challenges they are confronted with, not to give the image of a divide community, when he was addressing the delegates at the OIC summit.

If we do not act, we will give the impression that we are a divided Ummah (community), Al Turki said in his address delivered at the 11th OIC summit. The WIL is an affiliated movement of the OIC. Based in Mecca (Saudi Arabia), it aims to spread Islam and clarify its principles and teachings.

According to Dr Turki, the OIC is facing huge challenges. The Islamic Ummah has to meet huge challenges. However, the challenges and danger will disappear if the Ummah uses this organisation (WIL) and the resources at its disposal, he assured.

We do not have the right to fail in our mission, he said, calling the 57 OIC member states to work for an Islamic humanitarian action. He urges the states to put their experiences and resources together to attain the objectives they have set themselves.

We are open to any initiative serving the Ummah peoples. The first cause of the Islamic Ummah must be the Palestinian issue, which has been suffering the flesh on a daily basis under the eye of the Arab and Muslim world.

He also asked the OIC to establish a cooperation climate with the United Nations and preserve the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to found its own state. The WIL secretary-general accused the Danish media of spreading lies and libeling our Prophet. He was referring to the caricatures representing the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (PBUH), published in 2005 by a Danish paper, then by the European media.

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The 11th OIC summit in Dakar, Senegal

Posted by African Press International on March 20, 2008

mohamed-legally-cole.jpg<From Mohammed Legally-Cole)

The 11th Summit started with the opening session of Senior Officials of the OIC Member States which started on 7th March and ended on the 9th March 2008 in Dakar, Senegal. The session was concluded with the preparation for the Foreign Ministers meeting, which also started on March 10, 2008 ahead of the 11th Session of the Islamic Summit Conference.


The participants in the Senior Officials Meeting, which was chaired by the Senegalese Ministers of Foreign Affairs focused on the Summits agenda, the revised OIC Charter, the final communiqu, and the resolutions of the Summit to present them to the Foreign Ministers meeting and consequently tendered to the Summit on March 13th -14th, 2008.
The theme of the Summit was titled Islam in the 21st Century, is significant due to the current events and challenges facing the Muslim Ummah including the issue of Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Somalia, and Darfur. The issue of Islamophobia has high precedence on the agenda whereupon the first report on Islamophobia by the OIC Islamophobia Observatory was released. Another salient priority is the Special Development Programme for Africa and raising intra-OIC trade among the Member States from 13% to 20% by 2015 in accordance with the OIC Ten-year Programme of Action.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference has added it voice to the clarion call of women by joining the International Community to observe March 8, 2008, the International Day of Women. This was stated in the message of the Secretary General of OIC Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu on the occasion of the International Womens Day. An excerpt of his speech reads:-The theme for this year “A decent work for women, a right for them, a good for all has effectively responded to the aspirations of the Islamic Ummah in promoting the social and economic status of Muslim women in the spirit of socio-cultural norms and the Islamic values of its member countries.The OIC is actively engaged in ameliorating the economic conditions and welfare of women in the Islamic world, which is noted through different resolutions and concrete initiatives taken in the perspectives and the means to assure the development of this important fringe of the population.Notable advances were registered in the policy of the OIC in matters related to women’s promotion under the new impulse given by the OIC General Secretariat since 2005. In fact, in the Ten Year Program of Action (TYPOA) adopted by the 3rd Extraordinary Summit, held in Makkah in 2005, the OIC has emphasized its determination to improve the life conditions of Muslim women and to work for the promotion of their economic and socio-cultural rights within the Muslim countries.In this regard, the OIC has organized the First Conference on Womens Role in the Development of OIC Member States held in Istanbul in November 2006, in which important decisions were taken to bring about economic and social improvement of Muslim women and a vision to assure their contribution to socio-economic and cultural development in their countries, and in the Islamic Ummah, in general.

This new vision of the women’s role as a pillar of the Islamic society also encompass in the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and in the TYPOA, including matters related to the right to education and access to work and honest revenue for all.

The OIC, recognizing the primordial role of women in development, and with the support of the international community as well as within the spirit of the Islamic values, highly encourages women’s effective participation in addressing the socio-economic development challenges.

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Zimbabwe: Businesses say new law is unjust

Posted by African Press International on March 20, 2008

 

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has signed a new law that gives local owners the right to take majority control of foreign companies, including mines and banks. The bill became law when it was published in the official Government Gazette last Friday.

Parliament passed the bill last September despite objections from opposition parties. The opposition said the law could scare away the few foreign investors still left in the country. The development has shaken the business community with international firms like Anglo American Cooperation and Old Mutual seriously affected.

The law has however received support from the Zimbabwean indigenous community especially those who have the financial base to get into business and take shares. Mugabe has been very vocal in speaking out about this law, which is seen by many as a political ploy to get votes. However the talking point now is how legal the process is and the legality of the law.

Zimbabwean business people say the move is illegal and only seeks to take away what they legally own that was acquired using their own resources. Meanwhile election fever is gaining momentum as opposition candidates are gearing up for the much awaited elections. Mugabe still has strong support in the rural areas but this has been split over the coming in of Simba Makhoni.

 

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Somalia: US Congress: Bush strategy is in failing

Posted by African Press International on March 20, 2008

The Bush administration has been faulted for failing to stabilise Somalia after a March 3 American missile strike on the horn of Africa country, a congress report says.

The US is aiming to bring order to Somalia mainly by funding an African Union peacekeeping operation, but that force is grossly undermanned, according to Congress auditing arm. Given the operations shortage of troops, it has not been able to fulfil its mandate to improve security, support reconciliation, protect the transitional government, and facilitate the provision of humanitarian aid. In addition, the US-supported Transitional Federal Government (TFG) is said to be failing to deliver much-needed services to Somalis.

The report by the Government Accountability Office of congress cites complaints by United Nations officials about the difficulty of working with the TFG because Most of its ministries exist in name only, with no support staff. An effective peacekeeping force would require at least 20,000 troops as well as a ceasefire agreement and the co-operation of all parties in Somalia, the report states. But none of those conditions are being met.

Ugandas Amisom contingent is limited to protecting only the airport, seaport and presidential compound in Mogadishu, the report notes. Amison currently consists of 2,400 troops- 1,600 troops from Uganda and 800 from Burundi. The total is less than a third that of AU. The United States has spent some $60 million to train, equip and transport soldiers assigned to Amisom, according to the auditors. US officials have been working for months to persuade other African countries to commit troops to Amisom, but such assistance has not been forthcoming due to concerns about Somalias rapidly deteriorating security situation, the report observes.

Overall, the United States has provided Somalia with $362 millions worth of humanitarian and development aid since 2001. That amount qualifies the US as the leading donor to Somalia during the past seven years, the report points out. But the UNs chief representative for Somalia said last week that the international community is engaging in collective punishment of Somalis by neglecting their needs. While acknowledging that Somalis themselves have destroyed their country, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah told the press that this is not sufficient reason for collective punishment, which I think the international community is doing by ignoring their plight.

On its part, the Bush administration has reaffirmed its intention of launching military attacks against alleged Al Qaeda operatives in Somalia and elsewhere. They are planning to destabilise the world, to inflict terror, and where we find them, we will go after them, White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe told reporters last week. He was speaking in response to questions about a US missile strike on a town in Somalia five miles from the Kenya border.

A US Navy submarine in the Indian Ocean was targeting a Kenyan citizen, Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, when it fired at least two cruise missiles into the town of Dobley, Pentagon and FBI officials said. He is wanted for questioning by the FBI in connection with the bombing of the Paradise Hotel in Kikambala in 2002 and the nearly simultaneous attempt to shoot down an Israeli airliner taking off from Moi Airport in Mombasa.

 

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Obasanjo loosing grip of PDP – the ruling party in Nigeria

Posted by African Press International on March 20, 2008

Abuja (Nigeria) – Prince Vincent Ogbulafor yesterday emerged as the fifth National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) after weeks of horse-trading and intrigues.

Ogbulafor, formerly national secretary of the party, emerged in a consensus arrangement which saw 26 other contestants stepping down for him at the party’s National Convention in Abuja. Also elected in the same manner is the National Secretary, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, from Kwara state as well as all the other national executive officers. Ogbulafor and Baraje’s emergence signalled loosening of the grip on the party hitherto maintained by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who had spent months campaigning for former Ebonyi Governor Sam Egwu and Senator Tunde Ogbeha.

Ogbulafor was National Secretary of the PDP between 2001 and 2005, after serving as Minister of Economic Matters and Special Projects in the Presidency during Obasanjo’s first term. His emergence as the consensus chairman was said to be the collective decision of the PDP governors who sought to avert a sharp division within the party as a result of the bitter rivalry between two foremost contenders for the position-Egwu and former Senate President Anyim Pius Anyim.

A number of party leaders lauded the emergence of Ogbulafor. Leader of the Integrity Group of the House of Representatives, Hon. Farouk Lawal, told Sunday Trust that Ogbulafor’s emergence was a good development for the party. Before Ogbulafor’s emergence at yesterday’s convention, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu moved a motion for the dissolution of the Ahmadu Ali-led National Executive Committee.
The chairman of the electoral panel Alhaji Adamu Ciroma told the convention that all the chairmanship aspirants met and resolved to withdraw from the race for Ogbulafor and the panel has no choice than to accept their decision. But Ciroma said the contenders must publicly indicate their willingness to withdraw from the race before Ogbulafor is declared winner.

Soon after, one of the chairmanship aspirants, Chyna Iwuanyanwu, climbed the rostrum to announce that all the other 25 chairmanship aspirants were stepping down for Ogbulafor, who had already been adopted by the PDP governors. Some other aspirants also did the same as Iwuanyanwu. But the situation was not the same with the aspirants to the position of the national secretary where some level of resistance was displayed publicly. Senator Tunde Ogbeha through Senator Smart Adeyemi had stated his agreement to step down for Baraje. Other contestants also followed suit except Mr. John Dara who insisted for an election.

However, Dara had to yield to a last-minute pressure after a brief meeting with the former governor of Nasarawa state, Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu, Governor Bukola Saraki and other top party leaders. In his acceptance speech, Ogbulafor promised to re-unite the party. He said he would ensure that there is peace and harmony in the party as soon as he begins work. “Those offended should forget and forgive,” he told the gathering. “All founding fathers of the party are to return with immediate effect.”

He described the job of reuniting the party as a ‘big challenge.’ Ogbulafor pledged to work with federal lawmakers to work hard. President Umaru Yar’Adua, who left the convention venue before the process fully took off, described the consensus as another milestone in the nation’s democracy. Yar’Adua had to rush out of the venue to attend the funeral of the late emir of Katsina. Represented by Vice President Goodluck Jonathan at the end of the convention, Yar’Adua said the convention was a manifestation of probity in democracy, transparency and in accordance with the rule of law. “We have gone a long way to enshrine democracy and transformation of the Economy,” he said.

 

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Zimbabwe: Army backs Mugabe

Posted by African Press International on March 20, 2008

Bulawayo (Zimbabwe) – Defence Forces Commander Constantine Chiwenga says he will not salute any candidate who beats President Robert Mugabe in the forthcoming elections amid reports that soldiers have been granted paid leave to campaign for Zanu PF in their rural homes.

Chiwenga joined the head of the Zimbabwe Prisons Service, Paradzai Zimondi, in declaring that they would not recognise former Finance Minister Simba Makoni and opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai if they won the 29 March elections. Echoing similar threats he made with former commander Vitalis Zvinavashe in the run-up to the 2002 presidential elections, Chiwenga claimed Makoni and Tsvangirai were “sellouts”, without elaborating.

“Elections are coming and the army will not support or salute sell-outs and agents of the West before, during and after the presidential elections,” Chiwenga told The Standard in a telephone interview last week.
“We will not support anyone other than President Mugabe who has sacrificed a lot for the country.” Pressed to comment on the role of the army in a democracy, Chiwenga responded angrily:
“Are you mad? What is wrong with the army supporting the President against the election of sellouts?”

A woman then took over the conversation on the phone and said: “We can come and take you and deal with you.” Then she hung up. In remarks described by critics as being tantamount to scare-mongering ahead of 29 March, Zimondi told a pass-out parade of prison officers if Mugabe lost he would resign from his job to “defend” the farm he was allocated during the land reform programme. A number of retired officers in the defence forces hold key positions in the government and in parastatals, most of whose performance continues to deteriorate under their stewardship.

Meanwhile, army sources have told The Standard that soldiers were recently instructed to take paid leave so they could go to their rural homes to help in the Zanu PF election campaign. Critics of Zanu PF’s campaign strategy have attacked what they have called the “decisive role” of soldiers in ensuring that Mugabe wins, particularly in the setting up of bases in the rural constituencies. It has been alleged that the soldiers have led party militia in intimidating the rural electorate to vote for Zanu PF.

“Those who were deployed were reminded that the hefty salary increments they received last month were part of the deal to campaign for Zanu PF,” said a soldier based at Brady Barracks in Bulawayo.
Last month the government sparked fury among civil servants when it awarded soldiers hefty pay increases, raising the average soldier’s pay to $1.3 billion from $300 million. The deployment of soldiers in the rural areas comes amid reports the government has pulled out all the stops to improve the diet in the barracks, once reportedly hit by acute food shortages.

A monotonous diet of beans and cabbage was said to be boring the soldiers out of their enthusiasm for work. But The Standard has established that the regular fare now features such sumptuous dishes as rice and chicken. Army spokesperson, Colonel Samuel Tsatsi referred questions to Chiwenga when contacted for comment.

 

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