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Archive for May 28th, 2008

Who is guilty? Raila’s ODM ranked top as the party that perpetrated pe-election violence in Kenya

Posted by African Press International on May 28, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.nation.ke

ODM ranks top in pre-poll chaos cases

Story by SAMWEL KUMBA

ODM has been identified as the party that was the most culpable in perpetrating pre-election violence during last years elections.

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights chairman Maina Kiai (left) and the executive director of the Youth Agenda, Mr Kepta Ombati, with copies of Who is Guilty? report at Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi yesterday. Mr Kiai said there should be no amnesty for people arrested in connection with the post-election violence that rocked the country. Photo/STEPHEN MUDIARI

A report released by Youth Agenda Tuesday, titled: Who is Guilty? Youth Perspectives on the 2007 Pre-Polls, indicated that ODM was to blame for 46.1 per cent of violence cases.

Main opponent

This was almost double the figure of its main opponent, PNU, with 24.07 per cent of cases. Narc Kenya was more violent than Kanu at 11.11 per cent and 5.56 per cent respectively.

ODM Kenya was the least offensive with 3.7 per cent of the total cases of violence.

While releasing the report, Youth Agenda executive director Kepta Ombati said ODM ranked top in violence cases since it attracted many political players.

ODM attracted the largest number of both political and civic aspirants as compared to the other parties, perhaps explaining why the involvement of its members in violent cases, said Mr Ombati.

ODM secretary-general Prof Peter Anyang Nyongo concurred with Mr Ombati that the sheer number of candidates in their camp would occasion a clash among themselves.

That is an indication of how competitive we were. If you compare that with our opponents, our numbers justify the real fight and that is democracy, Prof Nyongo told Nation. But he could not comment in detail on the report, saying, he was not privy to it.

Prof Nyongo, who is also the Medical Services minister, said that such a report should not paint the party in bad light as the intra-party clashes were usually not fatal.

Nominated MP George Nyamweya said the report gives credence to their earlier complaint to the Electoral Commission of Kenya during campaigns that their candidates could not access certain ODM strongholds to woo voters.

Their release

Mr Nyamweya, who was the PNU campaign manager, said the report also gives evidence that most of the arrested youths were acting in the interest of ODM politicians, citing that as the reason why they are now calling for their release.

I think the message here is that these youths were acting under our direction and we have to secure their release, Mr Nyamweya said.

The report, which was jointly funded by the United States Agency for International Development, Pact Kenya and other organisations, indicated that electoral violence was not uniformly spread across the political parties.

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South African aid agencies warn crisis not over as Mbeki travels to Japan

Posted by African Press International on May 28, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.apa

South African President Thabo Mbeki has left for Japan on Tuesday, even as aid agencies warned that the crisis at home sparked by the wave of violence against foreign nationals was far from over.
Mbeki has gone to Japan for a two-day conference on African development despite coming under pressure for what critics say has been his slow reaction to the anti-immigrant violence that has so far left more than 50 dead and about 35, 000 displaced.

While the government was claiming on Monday that it had brought the two weeks of violence under control, aid groups warned of the health and logistical problems caused by the mass exodus of migrants fleeing the country.

As thousands headed for the borders, a growing humanitarian crisis wracked South Africa itself, with an estimated 35, 000 displaced foreigners sheltering at police stations, community centres and churches.

Immigrants in South Africa, many of whom have fled economic meltdown in neighbouring Zimbabwe, are being blamed for sky-high crime rates and for depriving locals of jobs. Groups of armed youths have purged many poor slum areas around the Johannesburg hotspot, with unrest now reported in seven of the countrys nine provinces since violence first erupted on May 11.

In the wake of the violence, the Red Cross has complained of a lack of national co-ordination. “The big problem is co-ordination of information between authorities and NGOs. Its not very well organised,” Francoise Le Goff, director of the Red Cross in Southern Africa, told APA.

“The government is still looking for shelters for people and were still in an emergency situation.” She added that “in Zambia, our teams are expecting the arrival of 25, 000 Zimbabweans,” while more than 5, 000 Zimbabweans had been helped to cross over to Mozambique.

Muriel Cornelius, programme coordinator for South Africa for the aid group Doctors without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, MSF) said “The situation is about to get worse. People have still not received aid and theyre not even under tents. “The reaction of civil society is incredible but it is not enough,” she added.

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Japan to announce a package of aid to Africa during the TICAD4

Posted by African Press International on May 28, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.apa

By a special APA correspondent in Japan

The Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda is expected to announce a series of measures in aid and loan to Africa during the 4th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) that is scheduled to open in Yokohama near Tokyo on Wednesday, reported the Japanese press.
According to “The Yomiuri Shimbun” which obtained a copy of Prime Minister Fukudas speech, Japan will extend yen-denominated loans worth up to 415 billion yen (US$4 billion) and financial assistance totaling about 260 billion yen (US$2,5 billion) over the next five years to promote African development.

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Japan condemns clashes on north/south Sudan border

Posted by African Press International on May 28, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.apa

The Japanese Vice Minister and Parliamentary Secretary in the ministry of Foreign Affairs Mr. Yasuhide Yakayama, on Tuesday, in an interview in Tokyo with APA, has condemned last weeks fierce battle between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) in the disputed border area of Abyei between north and south Sudan, that displaced over 90, 000 people, most of whom having recently returned from their displaced camps in the north.

Vice Minister Yakayama called for urgent investigation into the clashes there by the international community, including the Sudanese government to come out with a fair assessment of the causes and consequences.

The fierce battle broke out in Abyei, a contested area between the north and south Sudan, on May 20th with about 22 people reported killed and many others injured. Several houses, markets, schools, hospitals, offices and shops were said to have been burned to the ground followed by looting, which was blamed on government-backed local militias known as Misseriya, a tribe that share the disputed border area with the Dinka Ngok of Southern Sudan.

Mr. Yakayama called the clash unendurable and also called on both the government of Sudan and the SPLM to adhere to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi in 2005.

He said Japan is trying to extend its assistance to the Abyei region but some parties are trying to destroy the peace, he said, adding, We need to resist those who want to destroy the peace.

He said Japan is considering sending its Self-Defense Force to Sudan as part of his governments contribution to the United Nations peacekeeping operations in Southern Sudan.

Yakayama however said that engaging in reconstruction work was his governments first priority and as such, he said most members of the Self-Defense Force would be civil engineers so that they will be engaged in a range of reconstruction activities, including road construction.

According to him, the Japanese ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense are currently co-operating to finalize the plan, but he declined to provide APA with a specific date as to when and how many personnel would be dispatched to the region.

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Nigerian military denies any soldier killed in attack on Shell facilities

Posted by African Press International on May 28, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.apa

Spokesman of the Military Joint Task Force (JTF) stationed in the Niger Delta, State, Lieutenant Colonel Sagir Musa said no soldier was killed in Mondays attack on a flow station belonging to Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) by militants of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).
In a statement posted on its website, Monday, MEND claimed that its men attacked the facility and on their way back killed 11 soldiers in a surprised attack on a military convoy.

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Posted by African Press International on May 28, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.apa

Central African Justice Minister Thierry Malyombo on Monday hailed the end of the procedure against Jean Pierre Bemba, the leader of the Congo Liberation Movement, who was arrested Saturday in Brussels upon an International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant.

The Central African government believes “the procedures should continue so that we reach a total and transparent settlement,” Malyomba said.

He added “if there are Central African personalities involved in the affair, they will face international justice”.

Speaking on an issue raised by a journalist that President Franois Boziz was leading the “ex-liberators” involved in the counts levelled against Bemba, he said the Congolese leader is subject to trial like any other accused person.

“While he is covered by immunity, he will have to answer in this case,” he noted.

The prosecution on 16 May submitted to the ICC prosecutors, evidence that Bemba was responsible for crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The ICC prosecution on 23 May issued an international arrest warrant which was sealed until Bemba was arrested on 24 May.

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Shooting rocks Guinean capital, causing panic

Posted by African Press International on May 28, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.apa

Automatic weapon shooting was reported heard Monday morning at the Alpha Yaya Diallo military barracks in Conakry, one of the biggest military garrisons of the country, causing panic in the district near the airport.

Witnesses told APA on the telephone that the shooting, which started early in the morning ceased soon after, before starting up again with renewed vigour in the afternoon, causing businesses and schools to close and disrupting the traffic.

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Rwanda criticizes French court for deferring extradition of genocide suspect

Posted by African Press International on May 28, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.apa

The spokesperson of the Rwandan prosecution department, Jean Bosco Mutangana has criticized the decision by the French court of appeal of Toulouse to defer until September the examination of the extradition request of Rwanda for a former Rwandan soldier, Marcel Bivugabagabo, over his alleged role in the 1994 genocide.
During a press conference on Monday in Kigali, Mutangana said the Rwandan government has provided legal and constitutional checks as demanded by the French government regarding the Rwandan genocide.

Last Thursday, the French court ruled that the case be deferred to September when the Rwandan authorities will have provided necessary legal requirements regarding the extradition of the suspect.

It is not true that the Rwandan government has not provided sufficient legal and constitutional checks in its request to bring Bivugabagabo for trial in Rwanda where he is believed to have committed gross crimes during the 1994 genocide. What more documents do they want, why cant they tell us? Mutangana demanded, describing the French courts decision as regrettable and unfortunate to justice and international law.

The French legal authorities requested from their Rwandan counterparts to forward to them constitutional and legislative documents on the legality of the offences and the sentences, the non-retroactivity of criminal law and to indicate to them the various acts having stopped the statutory limitations of prosecution against Bivugabagabo. The suspect is currently in custody in France.

Mutangana says the documents were provided by the Rwandan foreign affairs ministry through the Belgian embassy in Kigali which represents French interests in Rwanda since 2006, when the two countries severed diplomatic ties over French indictments of Rwandan senior officials.

Bivugabagabo, 53, is on the list of the 93 people most wanted by Rwanda for their alleged participation in the genocide. During the genocide, Bivugabagabo was commander of military operations in the sector of Ruhengeri.

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Posted by African Press International on May 28, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.apa

Zimbabwean government on Monday maintained its stance on Mengistu Haile Mariam, saying it would not extradite the former Ethiopian leader on death row for crimes against humanity in his native country.

A Zimbabwean government official said there had been no shift in Harares position on the deposed Ethiopian leader who has stayed in the southern African country since fleeing an uprising against his regime in 1991.

Nothing has changed yet about our position on that matter, the official said. He insisted that the former Ethiopian leader was and would remain a guest of the Zimbabwe government.

An Ethiopian judge in Addis Ababa on Monday sentenced Mengistu and 19 others to death for genocide during his reign between 1974 and 1991.

The Zimbabwean government has repeatedly refused to extradite Mengistu since last year when the Ethiopian high court handed down a life sentence against the former leader.

His honeymoon in Zimbabwe could however come to an end if President Robert Mugabe loses to opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, in a presidential election run-off set for June 27.

Tsvangirais Movement for Democratic Change has already said it would hand over the former Ethiopian ruler to his country if it comes to power.

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Posted by African Press International on May 28, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.apa

The permanent representatives of Tanzania and Ireland at the United Nations are on Tuesday scheduled to visit Rwanda to assess the progress of One UN pioneer project launched in the country earlier this year, a UN press statement issued here on Monday has said.

According to the statement, Augustine Mahiga and Paul Kavanagh are visiting as part of a tour of several One UN pilot countries. Under the One UN project, all UN agencies are grouped together under one organized leadership for efficient and better service deliveries in individual countries.

Following the launch of one UN initiative as part of UN reforms for better and efficient service delivery, the two permanent representatives are visiting Rwanda to look at the effectiveness and challenges of the initiative, the statement said in part.

The two diplomats were appointed by the president of the UN General Assembly to work towards agreement among the 192 UN member states to ensure progress of the UN reform process. During their three-day visit in the country, the ambassadors are expected to meet with various senior government officials. The two senior UN officials will also be guided during their Rwandan visit by the UN Resident Coordinator in Rwanda.

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Beninese president embarks on African, Asian, European tour

Posted by African Press International on May 28, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.apa

President Yayi Boni of Benin on Monday started a two-week European and African tour (27 May- 10 June) which will take him to Japan, France, Tunisia, Italy, and Kuwait, official sources told APA.

Boni will attend several international gatherings.

He will attend the fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD-IV) in Japan from 27 to 30 May.

President Boni will tackle issues on the African economic growth and the security and climate change with his peers and Japanese authorities while in Tokyo.

He will go to Paris, France (1 -3 June) before heading to Rome, Italy to attend the World Food Security summit organised by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The Beninese head of state will afterwards be on a working visit in Tunisia for two days, from 6 to 7 June, within the framework of the cooperation between the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Benin.

President Boni will wind up his tour in Kuwait City from 8 to 10 June upon the invitation of Sheikh Al Amad Al- Jaber.

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Prosecutors demand life sentence for Rwandan genocide suspect

Posted by African Press International on May 28, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.apa

Prosecutors at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Monday prayed to the court for life imprisonment of Rwandan musician Simon Bikindi, accused of inciting Hutus to kill Tutsis through his several lyrics during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, a reliable source from Arusha said here on Monday.

Bikindi, a renowned Rwandan traditional composer is accused by the prosecution of composing hate and divisive lyrics like Irindiro Ballet, which told Hutus to know their enemies as the Tutsis and to regard equally as their enemies Hutus who collaborated with Tutsis.

He was arrested in the Netherlands in 2001 where he had lived since fleeing the country after the 1994 genocide that claimed the lives of over one million innocent Rwandans in just 100 days. His trial opened in September 2006 and is yet to be concluded for final judgment.

According to a source in a telephone interview from Arusha who attended the Monday court trial session, Bikindi pleaded not guilty to all six counts of genocide and related charges including complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, murder and persecution.

Bikindi is guilty beyond doubt and no sentence other than life imprisonment would reflect the gravity of his crimes that he stands accused. His songs incited genocide,” a source quoted prosecutor William Egbe as saying, noting that he was famous, powerful, and a major force mobilizing the Hutus against Tutsis.

The singer had also had close links with the Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana.

His defense attorney Andrea OShea described the prosecutions evidence as a “mockery of international justice,” full of contradictions in statements by prosecution witnesses.

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NAACP new head committed to fighting for African America

Posted by African Press International on May 28, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no, source.Louisiana Weekly – New Orleans,LA,USA

On Saturday, May 17, Ben Jealous, a former news executive and civil rights activist, became the 17th president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He is the youngest person to serve the NAACP in that capacity.

Jealous, 35, succeeds Bruce Gordon, who resigned abruptly in March 2007 after 19 months at the helm after several disputes with board members. Dennis C. Hayes served as interim CEO until the organization could select another president.

Born in Pacific Grove, Calif., Jealous graduated from Columbia University and Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.

Hailing from a family with deep roots in the NAACP, Jealous took a position as a community organizer with the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund in 1991 that allowed him to work on improving Harlem, New York residents’ access to adequate health care.

In the mid-1990s he served as managing editor of The Jackson Advocate in Jackson, Miss. before taking a post as executive director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the nation’s largest group of Black-owned newspapers, where he worked from 1999 to 2002.

Jealous left the NNPA to take a position as director of Amnesty International’s U.S. Human Rights Program, where he successfully fought for federal legislation against prison rape, public disapproval of racial profiling after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and exposure of the criminal justice system’s widespread sentencing of children to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

From 2005 to 2008 he has filled the post of president of the San Francisco-based Rosenberg Foundation, a private entity that promotes civil and human rights.

NAACP president-elect Ben Jealous, national board chairman Julian Bond and Texas NAACP president Gary Bledsoe graciously spoke with the Black Press last week about the organization’s new president and its goals.

Bond, whose roots include a stint with The Atlanta Inquirer, told the Black Press that he is very excited about the NAACP’s new president. “Mr. Jealous brings so much to this position,” he said. “He has spent all of his professional life working on the issues that the NAACP holds dear. He is a young man and his youth is a great asset to us. We believe he will make the NAACP more attractive to more people of his age group and he just has a sensitivity and a feel for the kind of human rights and civil rights issues that the NAACP has pursued for nearly 100 years. I am overjoyed that the board of directors has selected him. I know he is going to make his mark on the country’s oldest, biggest, baddest and best civil rights organization.”

Bledsoe echoed those remarks, saying that he is very pleased with Jealous’ selection. “To get a person of his ability – who is a Rhodes scholar, who is someone that obviously could look to do other things in the corporate world, who has shown throughout his educational career as well as his professional career that he is concerned about the African-American community from the greatest to the least of us” is an honor, Bledsoe said. “When I examined his record, I saw that his youth would clearly be an advantage because he’s not only very intelligent and very mature, but by showing that he can accept this responsibility he will be a great example for the youth around this country. One of the other things that he totally impressed me with was his true understanding of civil rights issues. I can’t say enough about that because there are certain nuances that only folks who have been intricately involved and have been involved over time generally would understand such as issues related to Title XI. He understands those on a level that makes me know that clearly he’s going to be able take this organization in a proper direction to really address civil rights.

“Besides his ability to raise funds, his zeal for criminal justice and his value of research” will aid him greatly, Bledsoe added. “When we look at the degree he obtained from Oxford, we understand that he values research which I think is the thing that maybe has been missing from recent civil rights actions that will help us to advance the interests of the NAACP and minorities around the country. When we look at the fact that his spouse is a law professor and a former LDF lawyer I think we have to be doubly pleased.”

“Like Chairman Bond, like (W.E.B.) DuBois, like Roy Wilkins, I cut my teeth in the Black Press, at The Jackson Advocate,” Jealous said Tuesday. “My only regret this week is that (Jackson Advocate owner and publisher) Charles Tisdale died before he could see this.

“As State Conference President Bledsoe said, we must and we will invest more resources in making the case. As strange as it feels to us as Black people, we really for a whole new generation have to document discrimination. We have to document crumbling schools, we have to document the exclusion of formerly incarcerated people from society, and we have to communicate. We have Crisis magazine, we have our website, and more importantly we have the Black Press. We have Black radio and we also have ‘mediums,’ if you will, like the Black Church, Black student, labor and trade associations. We can and we will work much more effectively.

“My belief is that if we first properly coordinate the media of the NAACP and then work effectively with the Black Press, Black radio and Black media in general, we will eventually dominate the spin in the mainstream media but it starts there.

“It’s about research, it’s about communication and it’s about three types of organizing: community organizing, doing more of what we’ve been doing for a long time, online organizing, but also getting out there and raising funds and support among regular Black people and people of conscience in this country.

The third type of organizing is going to be going out there and bringing in the resources – checks big and small – to make sure that we have the money to do the work well.”

Jealous said some of his associates and colleagues have wondered why he would leave a prestigious job at a foundation to take on the challenge of leading a major civil rights organization. “I’m the father of a two and a half year old Black girl,” he explained. “I was told when I was a small child that the battles had been won, that my job was not to focus on the movement but to go out and make money. As I’ve grown up, I’ve moved to the movement side of that divide because it was always clear that much more progress needs to be made. But now that I’m the parent of a little Black girl, I am completely impatient and outraged with (conditions) and just want to see progress made now so that my girl does not have to worry about her child being struck down by a bullet or being mistreated at school.”

During the teleconference NAACP board chairman Julian Bond was asked whether the Rev. Frederick D. Haynes III’s refusal to leave his post as pastor of Dallas, Tx-based Friendship West Baptist Church made him an unattractive candidate to assume the reins of the NAACP. “This was not a mandate aimed at Rev. Haynes,” Bond said. “We have long had a policy at the NAACP that our employees can only have one job, and that’s working for the NAACP. It doesn’t matter if the other job is a minister, ditch-digger, candlemaker or whatever; we think our work is so important that you can’t do anything but our work. I’m guessing, and I don’t know, that was on that basis that Rev. Haynes’ candidacy was weighed. It wasn’t a matter of him being an awful person and the other people being wonderful people. We had many, many candidates and for various reasons only one was picked, and that was Ben Jealous.”

Jealous said he is “very impressed” with Rev. Haynes “and would very much like to work with him. I think he’s a great man and a great pastor.”

Jealous told the Black Press that he would like to “replicate” the 99-year-old organization’s “first 30 years” of existence.

“There’s a real need to focus on documenting and communicating and organizing,” he explained. “By the time the first 30 years had passed, a much greater consensus had already been formed. We really need to focus on consensus-building, and that’s the way that you do it in a national civil rights organization.”

Asked about NAACP efforts to attract young people and secure greater funding. Jealous said, “Our sources of income need more balance. We need more support from regular people, and we can do that more through the Web. We also need more support from foundations and major donors. If you look back historically, the financial strength of the NAACP has always come from a lot of people who have written small checks and a few people who have written big checks. With regard to corporations who provide a lot of support right now and I hope will continue to, one, it makes sense. We have been their primary partner historically in modernizing and desegregating of their workforces and boardrooms. We need them now. Affirmative action is being attacked and it’s not just an attack on our opportunity; it’s also an attack on their autonomy and their ability to diversify their workforce in a way that gives them the greatest possibility for reaching their consumer base.

“At the same time, we do have standards and those standards need to be clearly known and articulated,” he added. “I think the best way to give people confidence that we are unable to be influenced is to have a real balance and diversity of funding sources. That’s one of the first things that I will address.”

Responding to another question about the organization’s financial health, Bond said, “The NAACP is doing well, but not as well as we hope to do or as well as we ought to do. At our last board meeting, this past weekend, our interim CEO Dennis Hayes reported that we were sitting on a comfortable million-dollar surplus. But I have to say that in our history we have never had enough money, we have never had enough members and we’ve never had enough of the resources we need to do the kind of job we want to do.”

With the final stretch of this fall’s elections getting closer and growing concerns about Americans being required to provide identification cards to vote in upcoming presidential elections, additional attention is being paid to devising strategies to ensure that every vote is counted and questionable tactics do not prevent anyone from casting a ballot in November. Ben Jealous agreed that voting rights will be a major issue when he takes office in September.

“Voter protection is huge,” he told The Louisiana Weekly. “One of my points of sadness in the Black Press – and I have had very few – was in 2000 when the country realized there was widespread election fraud and we collectively were finally able to recognize that what we had seen in local communities across this country was actually a major, ongoing problem. I covered multiple races in Jackson, Miss. and the surrounding counties of fraud.

“We should expect that just as the Black vote is surging and the Latino vote is surging, and just as it appears that we either may have a Black man or woman in the White House, that fraud and intimidation and chicanery of all sorts will surge as well. Watchdogging will be a big part of what we do as well.”

Before wrapping up last week’s teleconference, Ben Jealous issued a call to all who share the goals and objectives of the nation’s oldest civil rights organization to rededicate themselves to finding a way to support the organization and get more deeply involved in efforts to secure justice and democracy for all Americans.

“We need each member of the NAACP – and by that I mean each person who pays dues and each person who knows that they should – to recognize that it is our mission to ensure that this association is as relevant and powerful in this century as it was in the last century,” Jealous said Tuesday. “We have untold blessings and privileges and opportunities as a people at this moment; we also have monumental challenges. We have excelled in both situations before but it’s going to take all of us to do it. That means (committing) our time and our money. Please, if you’re involved, get more involved. If you’ve checked out, check in. We’ve got a world to secure for our children.”

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