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Archive for May 27th, 2008

Mungiki leader tells the Kenya government time is running out – talks must start soon

Posted by African Press International on May 27, 2008

Publisher: Korir,

Mungiki boss: Why I want to talk to Raila


Jailed Mungiki leader Maina Njenga is now demanding direct talks with Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Mungiki members demonstrate in Nairobi to press the Government to release their leader Maina Njenga from prison early this year. Photo/CHRIS OJOW

He dismisses as a waste of time the secret consultations he had previously been holding with alleged emissaries from the Office of the President and Mr Odinga.

And to make sure the demands of Mungiki get the legal backing even as he serves his five-year jail term, Njenga has asked former Kabete MP Paul Muite to act for him.

Njenga spoke to the Nation last week at the Naivasha Maximum Prison, moments after he said he had hosted three people allegedly sent by the Government to begin talks with him on behalf of Mungiki.

Prison authorities ushered in the Nation team on Wednesday for an interview with the sect leader at 2pm.

We are not seeing the face of the Government, and we feel we are not headed anywhere. That is why we urgently need the intervention of the Prime Minister, Njenga said.

Retired provincial commissioner Cyrus Maina, Catholic priest Ndikaru wa Teresia, political activist Solomon Thande, and former Nairobi mayor Dick Waweru were at the time in the boardroom of the Prisons officer, the same venue where Njenga later took the Nation team for the interview.

The sect leader was informed of the presence of the Nation team at the main gate to the prison at 10am. He sent word that the meeting would be delayed because he already had other visitors.

Many friends

Pressed to disclose the identities of the visitors, he added: They were Mr Cyrus Maina, Father Ndikaru wa Teresia and Mr Solomon Thande. You know, I have many friends; even Dick Waweru was here today to see me, and he brought to me some bathing soap.

The Mungiki leader had told the Nation on a previous visit that Mr Maina and Fr Ndikaru were envoys appointed by the Office of the President while Mr Thande was sent by Mr Odinga.

Mr Thande is the chairman of the Langata Constituency Development Fund committee and a close political ally of Mr odinga, while Mr Waweru was by the time angling for the Embakasi parliamentary by-election.

Although a number of meetings have taken place between individuals appointed by the Government and myself, a meeting between the Prime Minister himself and a small number of our representatives is necessary for a consensus on the way forward to be reached, Njenga said.

He added: I dont want any more private delegations as they are spoiling the original idea brought up by the Prime Minister. The many interested parties are not representing the Government.

Njenga said his supporters were getting restless and needed to know the true position of the talks.

Our issues are quite complex. Time is running out and remember I called for ceasefire to give dialogue a chance. There may come a time when the string that holds the restraint breaks off, he added ominously.

The Mungiki now want to meet an official government team in talks composed of four representatives from each side.

Contacted on Saturday, Mr Muite confirmed that he had been asked by Mungiki to provide legal counsel in their talks with the Government. Their leaders asked me to join them due to my stand on violation of human rights of their members. I will be in their team, he said.

Njenga said he would also want Lands minister James Orengo, who he described as his friend and lawyer, to be in the team.

According to Mungiki spokesman Njuguna Gitau, the Government had so far met one condition; the withdrawal of police officers who had occupied Njengas home in Kitengela since his arrest.

Gitau says police vandalised the house, and it would have to be renovated at a cost of Sh20 million ahead of Njengas release from prison. The sect is also planning a major cleansing ceremony at the palatial mansion next month.

Although Njengas claims over his links with the Government emissaries have neither been independently confirmed nor denied, Mr Odinga has called for negotiations with Mungiki members.

However, conflicting signals have since been sounded by Internal Security minister George Saitoti. He told Parliament early this month that the Government will uphold the rule of the law and protect the public against militia groups.

A number of leaders, including former Defence minister Njenga Karume, and former MPs Joseph Kamotho, Norman Nyagah, Jayne Kihara, and Macharia Mukiri have also rooted for the release of Njenga to kick-start negotiations with the sect members.

Police killings

They were united in condemning police killings of Mungiki suspects, saying the move would only make things worse.

However, leaders from other regions have suggested that negotiations with Mungiki, if they take place, should be extended to other militia groups in the country.

On Monday, Mr Odinga declined to comment on the matter. He described it as sensitive and beyond discussions through the media. His spokesman, Mr Salim Lone, sent a terse mobile phone text message to the Nation, indicating his boss was not keen on speaking on the issue.

Our efforts to get comments on the details of the meeting between Njenga, Fr Ndikaru, Mr Thande and Mr Waweru have not been successful.



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President Kibaki visits Japan while Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka takes care of the country

Posted by African Press International on May 27, 2008

Publisher: Korir,

Kibaki arrives in Japan

President Mwai Kibaki on Monday arrived in Yokohama, Japan for a four day official tour during which he will attend the Tokyo International Conference on Africa Development (TICAD).

The plane carrying the President and his entourage touched down at Narita International Airport in Tokyo at 2.40pm local time and was received by the Kenyan Ambassador to Japan Mr. Denis Awori and senior Japanese officials.

During the visit President Kibaki will join other Heads of State and Government in the Tokyo International Conference on Africa Development (TICAD) that kicks off at Pacifico Yokohama Conference Centre, and also hold bilateral talks with Japanese officials.

TICAD seeks to strengthen recent positive trends in Africa in both political and economic areas and deliberations shall be centered on the theme “Towards a Vibrant Africa: A Continent of Hope and Opportunity.”

Japan also seeks to support Africa in various sectors such as infrastructure targeting regional road networks and electric power, small and medium enterprises, tourism promotion, agriculture, health and education.

The President is accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Cabinet Ministers Moses Wetangula, Wycliffe Oparanya, William Ruto, Kipkalia Kones, Amos Kimunya and NajibBalala.



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Rwandese Government seeks clarification on Kabuga’s request in readiness for talks

Posted by African Press International on May 27, 2008

Publisher: Korir,

Flicien KabugaMr Felicen Kabuga

The Kabuga saga may soon take a new turn now that the Rwandan authorities have shown interest by contacting API inquiring about the document from Mr Flicien Kabuga.

Speaking to API, the authorities confirm their readiness for talks with Kabuga, but insist that the man has no right to put forward any pre-conditions for the talks. They point out that they areinterested in Kabuga’s recent photograph anda copy of the firstinterview, if API has any audio copy.

Although the authorities are now showing interest in Kabuga’s planned surrender, Kabuga would not have liked to have his recent photograph delivered to the authorities before the start of the talks. The man may think the authorities are simply interested to know how he now looks after many years in hiding and will use the photo in their efforts to apprehend him.

The interest the government is now showing contradicts statements earlier made by some government officials who were quoted recentlyby Rwandan Times newspaper saying the government will not negotiate with Mr Kabuga.

Now that there is a possibility for talks with the Government, the remaining question will be whether the authorities will insist on Kabuga attending the talks in person or if they will accept to deal with his appointed representatives.

We wrote yesterday that Kabuga would apply for asylum in Norway of the talks does not materialise between him and the Government of Rwanda. Now that the Government representative has taken the initiative to find out the details in Kabuga’s request, this serves as a sign of good will that talks may take place.

This will make it easy for Kabuga who is not enthusiastic to offer himself forasylumin Norway, owing to the fact that he gives a priority to live his last years in life in his home country.

Related stories:


African Press International – API

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Ceasefire signed in Burundi may now make it possible for the Norwegian police to send back rejected asylum seekers from that country

Posted by African Press International on May 27, 2008

Publisher: Korir, source.aljazeera

With many Burundi nationals who are asylum seekers in Norway, most of whom have been denied asylum in the country, the peace deal between the rebels and the government may now open the way for those who are denied asylum status to be returned to their home country. Most of them may find it difficult, however, to fit in if send back because they have stayed for many years outside their country.

Those who will face the problem are the ones who had used Burundi situation to apply for asylum and yet probably they do not come from there. If the Norwegian police decides to return them now that peace has been achieved in Burundi, they will have to give the correct information on where they actually come from in order to save themselves from being returned to a country they do not belong.

Burundi’sgovernment has signed a ceasefire agreement withthe National Liberation Forces (FLN), the country’s last remaining rebel group.
The deal was reached on Monday, after almost six weeks of fighting that left more than 100 people dead and thousands displaced.

The ceasefire is expected to bring peace to the small central African nation plagued by 15 years of internal conflicts.
At least 300,000 people have been killed in Burundi’s civil war that started in 1993.

“This is the first time that such a declaration of cessation of hostilities is signed,” Pasteur Habimana, a spokesman for the FNL, said.
“For Palipehutu-FNL [the rebel movement’s political branch], this means the war stops forever,” he said.
General Evariste Ndayshimiye, chief government negotiator and top military aide to President Pierre Nkurunziza, signed the agreement for the government side.
FNL leaders have returned to Bujumbura from exile to resume talks.
A ceasefire agreement was reached between the two sides in 2006 but it was never implemented.

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Genocide haunting African leaders: Mengistu sentenced to death

Posted by African Press International on May 27, 2008

Publisher: Korir, source.aljazeera

Mengistu, who ruled Ethiopia for 17 years, is living in exile inZimbabwe[AFP]
Mengistu Haile Mariam, the former leader of Ethiopia, has been sentenced to death in absentia on genocide chargesby the country’s supreme court.
Seventeen former officials from his government were also given death sentences on Monday, overturning a previous term of life imprisonment on appeal.

The federal high court had convicted Mengistu and 11 of hisaides in December 2006 on 211 counts of genocide, homicide, illegal imprisonment and illegal property seizure.
Mengistu, 71, an army lieutenant colonel, ruled Ethiopia from 1974 ashead of a Marxist government known as the Derg.

The genocide charges arose from a crackdown against opponents in 1977-78 known as the “Red Terror”, in which more than a millionpeople were tortured and killed by the Derg.
‘A special guest’
Mengistu has lived in comfortable exile in Zimbabwe since he was removed from power in 1991.
After Mengistu’s trial last year, Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe, ruled out his extradition, saying, “ComradeMengistu still remains a special guest”.
Mengistu was among 25 defendants tried in absentia.
LegesseAfsaw, known as “the butcher of Tigre”, former Ethiopian vice-presidentFisseha Desta and former prime minister Fikresellassie Wogderes were among thosesentenced to death along with Mengistu.
A further 60 defendants were also found guilty of genocide, butonly by a majority 2-1 ruling by the judges, who acquitted some on several lesser charges.One defendant was acquitted of all charges.Of the 73 accused, 14 have died and only 33 were present incourt.

Harsher sentence

The court that passed life sentences in January2007 accepted pleas for leniency from the defence, but Desta Gebru, the supreme court judge, rejected them on Monday.

The court insteadfollowed the request of the prosecution to toughen the sentence imposed on Mengistu.

Gebru said: “The court has decided to revoke the leniency appeal from thedefendants. It has sentenced them to death.

“They have tortured and executed thousands of innocent people in public, which applies as genocide according to Ethiopian law.”



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Genocide haunts DRC politician held for war crimes

Posted by African Press International on May 27, 2008

Publisher: Korir, source.aljazeera

Charges against Bemba specifically point to mass rapes allegedlycarried out by his forces [AP]

Jean-Pierre Bemba, a former vice-president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), has been arrested in Belgium on a warrant for war crimes committed in the Central African Republic.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) said on Saturday that it holds him responsible for four counts of war crimes and two counts of crimes against humanity.
A statement on the ICC website said the alleged crimes took place “on the territory of the Central African Republic from 25 October 2002 to 15 March 2003”.
Bemba, who lost a disputed 2006 election to Joseph Kabila, the DRC president, fled into exile last year saying he feared for his life.

The charges against him specifically point to a campaign of killings and mass rapes of civilians allegedly carried out by his forces.
Militia intervention
Members of Bemba’s Mouvement de liberation du Congo (MLC), who also fought in the DRC’s 1998-2003 war, intervened in Central African Republic in support of thenleader Ange Felix Patasse.
The Central African Republicpresidentwasbattling opposition forces led by Francois Bozize, who subsequently toppled Patasse in a 2003 coup and is the current head of state.

Both Bemba, who had been in exile in Portugal, and Patasse, who lives in exile in Togo, deny the war-crimes accusations.

There was no immediate reaction to Bemba’s arrest inBrussels from theDRC government, which has recalled its ambassador fromBelgium in a growing diplomatic dispute with its small former colonial ruler.

Relations between the two countries have been strained since Karel De Gucht, the Belgian foreign minister, criticised Kabila’s government last monthover human rights, corruption and its dealings with China.

Pursuing suspects

Bemba is the first person arrested under an ICC investigation in the Central African Republic, which was opened byLuis Moreno-Ocampo, the court’s chief prosecutor,in May 2007.

The ICC, which is based in The Hague and started work in 2002 as the world’s first permanent war crimes court, is also pursuing war crimes prosecutions against suspects in the DRC, Uganda and in Sudan, relating to its war-torn western Darfur region.

The ICC says thescars of abuse willbe hard
toerase butjustice is possible[EPA]

He thanked Belgium for executing the ICC arrest warrant against Bemba.

Moreno-Ocampo visitedthe Central African Republicin February to hear testimony from victims of the sexual violence which accompanied the fighting in the capital Bangui in 2002-2003 between government troops and opposition fighters.

Rapes outnumbered other crimes, with young girls and old women being gang-raped in public places, the ICC said.

Warning to all

Moreno-Ocampo said Bemba’s arrest is a warning to all those who commit, encourage or tolerate sexual crimes.

“There are no excuses for hundreds of rapes. There are no excuses for the rape of a little girl, with her parents watching,” he said.

“There are no excuses for commanders ordering, authorising or acquiescing to the commission of rapes and looting by their forces.

“We have evidence that Mr Bemba committed crimes.

“I went to CAR, I met the victims, those who survived the violence, those who survived Aids. We cannot erase the scars.

“But we can give them justice … The victims will tell their stories in court.”



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World bank and the Swedes donate billions of shillings for conservation and environmental work in Lake Victoria

Posted by African Press International on May 27, 2008

Publisher: Korir,

By Leo Odera Omolo
The fifth meeting of the Sectarian Council of the Lake Basin Commission ended in Kisumu City with the good news that the five member states of the East African Community have received KSHS 14 billion for the conservation and environmental work in the Lake Victoria.
The second world fresh water lake is shared between the three member countries of the EAC with the Tanzania having the lion’s share of 54 per cent, Uganda 42 while Kenya owns the smallest portion of the water at only 6 per cent and mainly in the narrow Kavirondo Gulf on which its eastern shoreline is where the Kisumu City stands today.
The revelation was made at the meeting by Dr Tom Okurut,the executive secretary of the Lake Victoria Basin Commission, which has its secretariat based at Kisumu.
He told the delegates that the funds have been chanelled through the Lake Victoria Basin Commission. The organization has received a total of USD 30 million for operations for ten years.
He said the funds were given by the World Bank, Global Environmental Fund and the Swedish government through its international development agency {SIDA}.
Two new member countries of Rwanda and Burundi joined the EAC in July last year, but are also qualified for funding. Rwanda and Burundi received USD 25 million each {K.shs 1.6 billion} as grant, while other countries obtained the funds in the form of loans . Kenya received USD 60 million {K.shs 3.7 billion}, Uganda USD 55million nand Tanzania USD 65 million.
Dr. Okurut said the riparian countries of Kenya,Tanzania and Uganda would contribute 10 per cent of the funds given by the bilateral donors.
President Mwai Kibaki launched the Commssion last year. The organization has the mandate to ensuring sustainable use of the lake and its resources.
Pollution at the lake has been exarcebated by the water hyacinth weed and industrial waste disposal and a new type of weed, the Hippo Weed, which has just arrived and invaded most part of fish landing beaches all of the lake shores.
The weeds now blocked the lake shore for marine navigation, making it difficult for both ships, steamers and even fishing boats to operate. Hyacinth has of lately receded. By more than 150 m in length and 25 m in depth.
There is also the reported sharp drop in lake water levels, which the local scientists have attributed to illegal logging, indiscriminate felling of trees in the Mau forest and in all other water catchment up stream…Several streams and rivers have dried up reducing the flows of rain water into the lake.
The water catchment areas has been experiencing unplanned human settlement and farming activities.

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New Lebanon president in unity call

Posted by African Press International on May 27, 2008

Publisher: Korir, source.aljazeera

Lebanese citizens now hope for a
stable future [AFP]
Michel Sleiman has called for unity in Lebanon after he was sworn in as the country’s new president.

The ex-army chief waselected president on Sunday in a parliamentary session attended by foreign dignitaries including Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the emir of Qatar, who helped broker a deal to endadispute betweenrival factons.

“Let us unite … and work towards a solid reconciliation,” Sleiman said in his inaugural speech.
“I call upon all of you, politicians and citizens, to start a new phase called Lebanon and the Lebanese … in order to achieve the interests of the nation.”

‘Path to salvation’
“On this path to salvation, some valiant resistance and some courageous soldiers also offered their lives in order to defeat terrorism, Israeli aggression from south Lebanon to its north,” he said.
“The achievements of the resistance should not be exploited in internal disputes.”

Fireworks exploded andmotorists hooted their car horns as crowds of peoplewaving Lebanese flags poured onto the streets of BeirutandSleiman’s hometown of Amsheet to celebrate his inauguration.
James Bays, Al Jazeera’s correspondent reporting from Lebanon,said people were in a celebratory mood.
‘Euphoria and celebration’
“There is a feeling of euphoria and celebration among most of the people,” Bays said. “There is a really high sense of expectation for this new president.
“Everyone from whatever background, from whatever political persuasion, whatever religious group has great expectations for this man. It might be hard for him to live up to them,” he said.

Of those voting in Lebanon’s 127-member parlaiment, 118 voted in favour of Sleiman becoming president.

Six of the ballots cast were blank, signifying a protest vote or reservationsover Sleiman’s election.
Addressing the Lebanese parliament after the election, Al-Thanisaid that Sleiman’s election was part of a process towards a lastingpeace in Lebanon.
“The Lebanese [leadership], with its variety and diversity, acknowledged that there is no alternative but to reach an entente that will safeguard Lebanon’s security and interests,” he said.
“All Arab nations will feel reassured that the dearest countires will be able to embark on a new era based on freedom.
“Lebanon is the victor, Lebanon’s crisis is the vanquished.”
‘Crucial selection’
Rula Amin, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Beirut, said many Lebanese intellectuals said they would have preferred a civilian candidate, but many other observers believe theselection of Sleiman was crucial in order to end the country’s political crisis.
She said: “It seems that for now both parties, both alliances have come to an agreement.
The question on many people’s mind is that is this a final settlement or just a truce?
“There are still many issues that need to be resolved. For this moment in Lebanon’s history he is the best, fittest person to take the job.”
The foreign ministers of Syria and Iran,which back Hezbollah,and European leaders were among the 200 dignitaries attending the parliamentary session.
Sleiman’s election is part of a deal brokered onWednesdayin Doha, Qatar’s capital,to end a political crisis that last month degenerated into violence.
Sixty-five people were killed when armed supporters of the Hezbollah-led opposition took control of much of Beirut after the government moved to outlaw the group’s private communications network.
Theclashes were the worst internal violence in Lebanon since the country’s 1975-1990 civil war.
‘Reconciliation wedding’
The Doha accord allows the opposition tohave veto power on key policy decisions in a new cabinet of national unity.

The Qatari emir played an integral
part in securing a compromise deal

But while it brought the country back from the brink of civil war, it failed to address many key issues, including Hezbollah’s weapons stockpile.

Fouad Siniora, Lebanon’s prime minister, said in an interview with the AFP news agency that he felt the deal was fair, especially in light of the latest violence that shook the country.
“We all gave in [for the sake of] the country and at the same time we got something in return for the country,” he said.
“One has to look at the Doha accord as a package. It is a recognition by everybody who signed … this agreement that weapons are in no way to be used against the Lebanese for political reasons.”
‘Political will’
Elias Hanna, a former chief of the Lebanese army, told Al Jazeera that Sleiman was a wise choice for the presidency.
“I think Sleiman came as a solution for this country, that’s why we have this consensus,” he said.
“There is a lot of criticism of the army and I do agree that there were a lot of deficiencies in the army. But [Sleiman’s election] is a solution for Lebanon.”
Earlier this week, Sleiman told Lebanese media that it would be impossible to “save the country on my own”.
“This mission requires the efforts of all. Security is not achieved by force but joint political will.”
The presidency has been vacant since November, when Emile Lahoud stepped down at the end of his term with no elected successor because of political disputes.
Nineteen previous parliamentary sessions to formally elect a new president failed due to boycotts by the opposition.
Though many see Sleiman as pro-Syrian in outlook, in nearly 10 years as head of Lebanon’s armed forces, he has managed to avoid taking sides.
As the new head of state, he will need to show he is a neutral figure if he is to reconcile the interests of the Western-backed parliamentary majority and the opposition.

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Ethiopian Supreme Court passes death sentence on Mengistu, 19 others

Posted by African Press International on May 27, 2008

Publisher: Korir, source.apa

Ethiopias Supreme Court on Monday passed a death sentenced on former Marxist ruler Mengistu Haile Mariam who is now living in exile in Zimbabwe after being deposed by the current government 17 years ago.

Last year, the Ethiopian high court passed life imprisonment on Mengistu and other former government officials who were accused of genocide during the red terror political campaign in the country.

However, the prosecutors appealed to the Supreme Court against the sentence, saying that Mengistu and his co-accused should instead be punished with the death penalty.

It was with this background that Ethiopias Supreme Court passed the death sentences on Monday on Mengistu and19 other defendants while one former colonel in the Ethiopian army had his sentenced to life imprisonment upheld.

The former president, who ruled Ethiopia for 17 years, is unlikely to face punishment unless Zimbabwes President Robert Mugabe agrees to hand him to Ethiopia.

Zimbabwe, which gave asylum to Mengistu since 1991 has repeatedly refused to hand him over to Ethiopia.

“Considering the prosecutions appeal that a life sentence was not commensurate with the crimes committed by the Mengistu regime, the court decided to sentence him to death,” the Supreme Court said in its ruling on Monday.

Mengistu, according to the court, was found guilty of genocide for thousands of killings during his 17-year rule.

According to the charge, Mengistu and other dozens of former military officials were accused of the killing of over 2,000 people and the torture of at least 2,400.

Witnesses earlier told the court that family members who went to collect the bodies of their loved ones were asked to pay for the bullets that killed them, and the evidence produced against them included videos of the torture sessions.

Mengistu seized power in 1974 after the overthrow of Emperor Haile Selassie, and clawed his way to the top in the military junta called the Derg.

His regimes brutality was exemplified by the Red Terror purges of 1977-78, in which at least 1,200 suspected political opponents were murdered and their bodies dumped in the streets as a warning to others.



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Malian civic group calls for national mediation to solve Tuareg rebellion

Posted by African Press International on May 27, 2008

Publisher: Korir, source.apa

Participants at a meeting held on Sunday in Bamako pleaded for the setting up of an internal mediation and the preservation of the National Pact signed in 1992 and the Algiers Accord of July 2006 as the “only referential frameworks in the search for peace and stability in Malis northern regions”, APA has learnt.

Some contributors also pleaded for the denial of all the foreign facilitation missions, asserting that Mali “has resource persons to facilitate dialogue between the government and the Tuareg rebels who are operating in the north of the country.

Others however pleaded for the involvement of Malis neighbours in preventing and managing cross-border insecurity , and suggested issuing international warrants against the Tuareg rebel leaders.

Sundays meeting was organised by a group of citizens from Mopti (in the centre), Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal (in the north) regions residing in Bamako.

The meeting follows the bloody attacks on Wednesday in Abeibara (Kidal region, which is not far from the Algerian border) that killed 15 on the government forces and 17 on the assailants side.

Many observers linked the attack with the stay in the region of the “goodwill mission” by representatives of 14 Muslim countries who were commissioned by the Libyan leader, Muammar Qaddafi.

As a facilitating country between the central government of Bamako and the Tuareg rebellion, Algeria had suggested to resume its mediation as from Tuesday 20 May.

The Algerian mediation had been interrupted after the signing of a ceasefire agreement between the Malian armed forces and the Tuareg rebels on 3 April in Tripoli, Libya.

Algeria had mediated the signing of a National Pact in 1992 in Mali before sponsoring the signing of two new ones on 4 July in Algeria.



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Egyptian foreign minister attends TICAD 1V conference in Japan

Posted by African Press International on May 27, 2008

Publisher: Korir, source.apa

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has commissioned Foreign minister Ahmed Abul Gheit to represent him in the fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD 1V) to be held from 28 to 30 May in the city of Yokohama.

Aboul Gheit is expected to head to Japan on Monday to participate in the preparatory meetings for the summit and hold talks with Japanese officials.

About 40 African heads of state and representatives of 55 international organizations including the World Bank, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in addition to 17 regional groupings and the African Union Commission.

The preparatory meetings will prepare the agenda of the summit which includes three key documents; the action plan, follow-up mechanism and the Yokohama Declaration.

TICAD 1V focuses on three priorities; to promote economic growth in the continent, ensure human security and stability as well as issues of environment and climate change in Africa.

TICAD 1V will be held under the theme Towards A Vibrant Africa: continent of hope and opportunity.



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South African leader finally addresses the nation on xenophobic attacks

Posted by African Press International on May 27, 2008

Publisher: Korir, source.apa

The disgraceful xenophobic violence of the past two weeks is the opposite of everything South Africans have achieved since the victory over apartheid, President Thabo Mbeki said on Sunday night addressing the nation in commemoration of Africa Day.

“The shameful actions of a few have blemished the name of South Africa through criminal acts against our African brothers and sisters from other parts of the continent, as well as other foreign residents, especially from Asia. Never since the birth of our democracy, have we witnessed such callousness,” he said in a national television broadcast on the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) channel.

African unity, to which South Africa was committed, meant that “in our own country, we must continue to live together with our brothers and sisters from other African countries as good neighbours. Sadly, Africa Day, on Sunday, was being marked in South Africa “with our heads bowed. As part of the reflection that Africa Day requires of all of us, we must acknowledge the events of the past two weeks as an absolute disgrace.

“The actions of these few individuals do not reflect the values of our people who for decades have lived together with their fellow African brothers and sisters, whom they accept, without question, truly as their own. South Africans should remember their struggle for liberation had always been both national and pan-African.

“We must never forget that our economy was built by the combined labour of Africans drawn from all countries of our region, many of whom died in our mines together with their fellow South African workers.

Neither should we forget that many people from other African countries helped to build our liberation movement, while many in our region died because of apartheid aggression as they supported us in the struggle to defeat apartheid,” said Mbeki.

“We must also sustain the understanding that our own progress and prosperity is dependent on the progress and prosperity of our neighbours and other African countries. Mbeki also told South Africans that the violence and criminality of the past two weeks has soiled the good name of the best of South African leaders such as Nelson Mandela.

“These leaders, together with the overwhelming majority of our people, have always understood that they are South Africans and Africans: they are both local and continental. None of these leaders, nor the majority of our people, would ever countenance such savagery as we have seen in the last two weeks,” Mbeki added.

Many South Africans, black and white, had come out to condemn this barbarity, offering food, shelter and clothing to those affected, he added. “We commend and thank all these patriots and appeal to them to continue their good work, to reject and isolate the criminals in our midst and extend a hand of friendship to our foreign guests who are nothing more than our fellow-human beings.”

Mbeki said whatever concerns people had, including those about housing and jobs, had to be addressed in a manner consistent with the dignified, humane and caring characteristics that defined the majority of South Africans, not through criminal means. They must be addressed through the structures of our democratic system.

“I also call upon community, political, religious, civil society, media and other leaders of our people to act together against the manipulation of our people by criminal elements. This is the time for unity – it is a time to speak with one voice against something which, if it takes root, will take us back to a past of violent conflict, which no one among us can afford.

“Humanity, democracy and protection of the law are indivisible. What begins as attacks on people from other countries also involves, as we have seen, the killing, rape and looting of property belonging to fellow South African citizens.”

Mbeki concluded his speech by promising that everything possible would be done to bring the perpetrators to justice.



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Liberian leader attends Japan summit on African development

Posted by African Press International on May 27, 2008

Publisher: Korir, source.apa

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has left the country for Tokyo, Japan to participate in the Fourth International Conference on African Development which opens in the city of Yokohama on Wednesday.
According to a presidential mansion press statement issued here Sunday, President Johnson-Sirleaf was invited by the Japanese government to participate in the conference.

The statement said during the three-day conference, delegates will discuss the underlying challenges facing the African continent, such as the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the looming food crisis, poverty eradication, regional integration and infrastructure development.

The conference, which is being held under the theme Towards a Vibrant Africa: Continent of Hope and Opportunity, will also discuss approaches towards boosting economic growth, consolidation of peace and security and address environment/climate change issues.

President Sirleaf will deliver the keynote address on the Challenges of Gender Equity in Infrastructure Reconstruction in Liberia, and participate in a panel discussion on the challenges and opportunities of high food prices.

The panel discussion, which will feature personalities like the World Bank President Robert Zoellick, Josestte Sheeran, Executive Director of the World Food Program and Lenard Bage, President of the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD)),will be chaired by Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, who is also current chairman of the African Union.



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Namibian leader attends conference on Africa in Japan

Posted by African Press International on May 27, 2008

Publisher: Korir, source.apa

The Namibian president Hifikepunye Pohamba on Monday left for Japan to attend the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV), saying the conference is aimed at strengthening economic ties between the Asian nation and Africa.

Pohamba, who is accompanied by three cabinet ministers, told journalists at Hosea Kutako airport in Windhoek that the conference is expected to reflect on rising prices of food and oil, expressing the hope that the outcome would be favourable to the Africa.

We should reflect, among other things, about food and oil because when you are talking about development, you are talking of producing and you cannot produce without fuel, Pohamba said.

Pohamba will also visit Malaysia on May 31 to June 02 before attending the Rome High-Level conference on food and security which will kick off on June 03 in Italy.



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