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Archive for May 31st, 2008

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.newvision.ug

A stooped Kalemera, with his treasured stool, prepares to talk to a patient at his home in KawempeA stooped Kalemera, with his treasured stool, prepares to talk to a patient at his home in Kawempe

By Titus Kakembo

CURVED like a sleeping cat, Kabaka Mwangas surviving son walks out of his royal rat hole. His tongue lolls out of a toothless mouth and, on his head, is a scanty thatch of curly grey hair.

Seeing a stranger in his palace, Prince Wakiba Kalemera Ssalongo, suspiciously raises his right eyebrow.

At first glance there is no trace of royalty in his bearing, because today, nobody gives him a second glance, apart from elderly locals in the neighbourhood.

He curiously asks: Grandson, how can I be of help to you? Waiting for a response, his Adams apple impatiently jumps up and down. On hearing it is a member of the press inquiring about his father, Kabaka Mwanga II, Kalemeres eyes light up and the lips split into a smile exposing some four teeth in the coffee brown gum of his lower jaw.

You are welcome, he mutters and courteously asks me to make myself comfortable on the green grass. He is wearing a pair of red trousers doodled with greasy patches, which need washing. On his feet is a pair of unpolished brown shoes that have seen better days.

This is our maiden encounter. The interview is conducted in front of his clinic where three patients are under intensive care. They are smoking charcoal black pipes while sharing experiences on how Jaja wa Buganda (Bugandas grandfather – as he is popularly known) has brought them luck. One says he got a spouse and another, John, got twins.

Eventually it is time to talk about the good old days when Mwanga was king. He says Bugandas star will never shine as it did when Mwanga was on the throne.

I went to the best school in the land, Kings College Budo, between 1934-1936, recounts Kalemeera. To prove the point of having acquired the best education and mastered the white mans language, he begins punctuating his conversation with English proverbs.

His home is where ordinary mortals congregate for cultural events and communication with the spirits.

A tour of his home leads to two baskets. Shafts of sunlight pierce through rusty holes in the iron sheets as a torn, toffee brown curtain ensures the Prince some privacy from prying eyes.

One of these baskets contains the umbilical chords of the royal twins. The other contains the spirits of the 52 spirits of the previous kings who disappeared (In Buganda kings do not die.)

According to some people, Kaleemera is the medium of communication with them, one of the reasons there is a jam of clients carrying kikuba nsiko (sh100-sh500 as token of appreciation) for his services. And that is how he has survived in the evening of his life.

By the head rest of his bed are six walking sticks, treasures for which Kalemera can afford to lose his right hand instead of parting with any of them.

These sticks belonged to kings of this land, he asserts. I wonder who, among the living royals, will take care of them when I join my ancestors, seeing as they do not care about me

A casual glance at his bed is evidence that Kalemeera is a man of taste who has fallen on hard times. His neatly laid bed is three feet wide. He says he badly needs a mosquito net, a mobile telephone and a kitchen with a caretaker.

Recently I suffered from a bad cough but mululuza (local herb) sent it away, he boasts.

His bathroom is a cupboard sized structure with a bark cloth sheet as its door and walls made from dry banana leaves.

The scent of sweat and dark cakes of dirt in his toe nails is evidence that Kalemera rarely uses these facilities. There is not a single tablet of soap in the vicinity.

Kalemera owns only one pair of trousers, which is washed at night by his grandson and care taker, Kagwa.

The others are threadbare and he finds them unbecoming for a man of his stature.

He bought a pair of sandals which he wears in the mornings at 8:00am when he wakes up.

During the tour a client smoking a pipe says: Jaja (Kalemera) has a poor diet because he eats only once a day when Juuko Kagwa has food on his table, says Mama Naku. The dairy down there offers him one litre of milk and a loaf of bread everyday that is how he survives. She says he likes groundnuts, potatoes and tea.

And he has a strict rules that no one sits on his three-legged stool, which is cushioned by an old shirt.

But is he really Mwangas son?

Asked for evidence to prove it, triggers sarcastic laughter and a sneer from the old man.

The first born, Kiwewa Yusufu Ssuuna, could not culturally become Mwangas heir. He chose Daudi Chwa. I was the third born in a line of seven children. We had a girl called Nakimbugwe, says Kalemera.

He adds that Mwanga, his father was not as bad as European literature portrays him. Before he fell out with the Christians, he got along with them. For example, I was baptised in 1917 by the Reverand Mutakyala and later confirmed by Bishop Willis in Mukono. My father even sent me on a trip to Israel to visit Jerusalem, to see the place where Jesus was born.

He adds that the worst times in his life were when his father had to flee Buganda to hide in a cave in Eastern Uganda.

I have visited the cave where he hid with King Kabalega in Kaberamaido. Ours was a family of controversy. For example, a Prince was not allowed to marry a princess. But my brother, Daudi Chwa, married Kabalegas daughter, Evelyn Masombira. we were such revolutionaries, he boasts.

He says the time when Mulwanyamuli was the Katikkiro (Premier) is when he was chosen to take care of the five acres of land stretching from Kawempe to Nansana.

He says he is in charge of conducting ceremonial rites on the land.

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Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2008

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

President Mwai Kibaki has aggressively campaigned for Kenya’s tourism sector and called for action to enable the national airlines of Kenya and Japan to begin flights between the two countries.

President Kibaki, who was addressing the Kenya Tourism symposium in Yokohama, Japan, said tourism provides an opportunity for strengthening the bonds of friendship between people equating tourism to a means of building bridges and creating understanding between individuals, communities and nations of the world

The Head of State said the Government had created an enabling environment including guaranteed security to tourists to attract more visitors to the country.

“Thousands of Japanese experts who have worked in various parts of the country offer the best testimony of the hospitality of the Kenyan people”, President Kibaki said adding that Kenya was endowed with rich varied tourism attractions.

He said Kenya was a country of diversity with enormous tourist resources ranging from wildlife to the unique picturesque landscape.

“The diverse cultures coupled with hospitable people make our country a truly unequalled tourist attraction”, the President said.

On environmental conservation, the Head of State said the Government places eco-tourism as one of the priorities in tourism promotion.

“As a result of the tough and non-compromising wildlife protection policies implemented by successive Governments, Kenya was witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of endangered animal species”, President Kibaki said emphasizing that tourism has over the years contributed immensely to economic growth and employment creation.

President Kibaki said the Kenya delegation to the fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) came to Japan to expound on the virtues of friendship between the two countries.

“This friendship has further been strengthened by the Government of Japan when the Premier Yasuo Fukuda outlined new areas of partnership between Japan and Africa at the opening of the TICAD IV summit”, the Head of State said.

Prime Minister Yasuo, while opening the TICAD Summit, pledged his government’s commitment to double its overseas development assistance to Africa and assist in doubling foreign direct investment from the private sector.

During the TICAD IV summit, a Yokohama declaration was passed outlining cool earth partnership that gives serious attention to environment protection, climate change and promotion of tourism in the continent.

President Kibaki expressed gratitude to the Government of Japan for its commitment to assist Kenya in hospitality and tourism training programmes.

To help in the attainment of Millennium development goals, President Kibaki said, the government of Japan had promised as a priority to assist in health, education and water provision.

“Under this program the government of Japan will dispatch water security action teams (WSATs) to countries to conserve water resources, construct 1,000 primary schools, train 100,000 teachers in Maths and Sciences and 100,000 health workers in the next five years all over Africa.

The Head of State, while commending the Ministry of Tourism and Kenya Tourist Board for organizing the symposium, challenged them to mitigate challenges and opportunities that woo Japanese tourists into Kenya.

“Tourism is a major pillar towards realization of Kenya’s vision 2030. It is for this reason that tourism features highly as a vehicle for achieving the Millennium Development Goals”, the president said.

He appealed to the international community to change the negative perspective of Kenya, saying upgrading of the port of Mombasa would enable tourists to link to any part of the world.

Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Cabinet Ministers Najib Balala, William Ruto and senior Kenya Tourist Board officials attended the function.

Meanwhile President Kibaki held bilateral talks with several Japanese personalities to discuss matters of mutual interest.

The Head of State met the president of Bill and Melinda Gates Global Foundation Dr. Tadaka Yamada and Chief Representative of the New Komeito Party Mr. Akihiro Ota.

President Kibaki also held talks with the Governor of Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) Mr. Toji Tanami and the Chairman of Japan External Cooperation (JETRO) Mr. Yasao Hayashi.

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Annan: Africa needs ‘green revolution’ to fight food crisis

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no
Africa is in need of a “green revolution” to combat a growing food crisis on the continent, former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan said in a speech in London on Wednesday.

Speaking at King’s College London, the Ghanaian diplomat also said that more needed to be done to deal with the impact climate change would have on food supplies in Africa, and added that immediate action was necessary to stave off thousands of deaths.

“The most pressing challenge we face is food supply,” the 70-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner said.

“We need action to tackle the immediate food crisis in Africa and the long-term impact that climate change will have on food supplies and agriculture across the continent.

“Without immediate action we are certain to see, indeed are seeing, many thousands of more deaths.”

According to Annan, Africa needed “nothing less than a green revolution transforming every aspect of farming on the continent”, with farmers in particular needing better seeds, soils and fertilisers, as well as more support from their governments and the international community.

World Bank figures show that global food prices have nearly doubled in three years, with experts blaming rising oil prices and the growing use of biofuels, among other factors.

Annan also addressed the ongoing political crisis in Zimbabwe, which he described as “both intolerable and unsustainable” and as “tarnishing the reputation of Africa”.

“Regardless of who wins the election you need to work with the two parties to determine how they manage the country — regardless of who wins,” he said.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai will participate in a run-off vote next month, with the country in economic freefall — the official rate of inflation stands at more than 165000% and unemployment is about 80%. — AFP

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Nigeria rebels attack oil pipeline

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no
By Nick Tattersall | Lagos, Nigeria
Rebels from Nigeria’s oil-producing Niger Delta said on Monday they had attacked a Royal Dutch Shell pipeline and killed 11 soldiers, but the army denied there had been any attack.

The rebel Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend) said in an emailed statement that it had sabotaged the Shell pipeline at Awoba flow station in southern Rivers state in the early hours of Monday morning.

“Today’s attack is dedicated to the administration of [President] Umaru Yar’Adua and [Vice-President] Goodluck Jonathan who have failed after one year in office to ensure peace, security and reconciliation in the Niger Delta region,” the Mend statement said.

Nigeria’s army denied there had been an attack while Shell in Nigeria said it was investigating and had no immediate comment.

“The [rebel] claims are mischievous lies deliberately told to gain popularity and mislead the people … There was no attack on the facility and none of our soldiers were killed,” Sagir Musa, military spokesperson in Rivers state, told Reuters.

The Niger Delta is home to the world’s eighth-biggest oil industry, exporting about 2,1-million barrels per day, but rebels have led a campaign of sabotage since early 2006 to push demand for greater local control over oil revenues.

The unrest has depressed Nigerian output by around a fifth since then, helping to push world oil prices to record highs.

A new government led by Yar’Adua and Jonathan, a native of the delta, took office on May 29 last year promising to address the root causes of the violence and to negotiate with the militants.

But attacks on oil installations and the kidnapping of oil industry workers have continued in the region, with Mend last week accusing the government of “insincerity” in its handling of the situation.

Shell was forced to shut in about 164000 barrels per day of Bonny Light crude production — or about 40% of the Anglo-Dutch major’s equity oil output in Nigeria — late last month due to militant attacks in the delta.

The company has been restoring some of the shut-in production but a force majeure remains in place for Bonny Light exports, meaning it cannot guarantee to meet its contract commitments. – Reuters

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Burundi rebel leader returns home for peace deal

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2008

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

The exiled leader of Burundi’s last rebel group returned to the capital, Bujumbura, on Friday to begin implementing a stalled deal seen as the final obstacle to peace in the tiny Central African country.

Agathon Rwasa, leader of the Forces for National Liberation (FNL), arrived at Bujumbura airport with a South African mediator for talks between his ethnic Hutu group and Burundi’s mixed but Hutu-led government, a Reuters reporter said.

“I know the situation is not yet where everyone wants it to be, but I am sure we can fix this together. I am going home optimistic that things will turn out just fine,” Rwasa said before departing from Tanzania earlier on Friday.

He made no immediate statement upon arrival at the airport, where he was greeted by hundreds of cheering supporters. He was met by diplomats, government officials and flanked by South African soldiers.

Officials said he was due to meet President Pierre Nkurunziza, himself a former Hutu guerrilla leader elected in 2005 as part of an African-brokered peace agreement backed by the United Nations.

The FNL was not part of that deal. The group signed a separate pact with the government nearly 20 months ago but it has stalled over disagreements, and sporadic fighting has broken out.

Clashes between Burundian troops and rebels have killed nearly 100 people in recent weeks. The coffee-growing nation is emerging from more than a decade of ethnic conflict that has killed about 300000 people.

Analysts say the rebel faction numbers less than 3000, a claim the FNL disputes.

Rwasa joins other top FNL officials who arrived in the capital two weeks ago from neighbouring Tanzania, which has led peace efforts for years. —

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Soldiers told to back Mugabe

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2008

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

A senior Zimbabwean army official has publicly urged soldiers to vote for President Robert Mugabe in next month’s presidential election run-off, a state daily reported on Saturday.

“The Constitution says the country should be protected by voting and in the June 27 presidential election run-off, pitting our defence chief comrade Robert Mugabe [against] Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC [Movement for Democratic Change], we should, therefore, stand behind our commander-in-chief,” Major General Martin Chedondo, the Zimbabwe army’s chief of staff, was quoted as saying by the government mouthpiece Herald.

“Soldiers are not apolitical. Only mercenaries are apolitical. We have signed and agreed to fight and protect the ruling party’s principles of defending the revolution.

“If you have other thoughts, then you should remove that uniform. The willingness to serve the country should be there and should burn forever so that the country does not slip away.”

Chedondo said soldiers would be deployed to quell post-election violence in some parts of the country.

“You are going to be given duties to protect parents who are being stabbed, axed and whose houses have been burnt by suspected MDC supporters so that we stamp out politically motivated violence,” Chedondo told soldiers at an army shooting competition on the outskirts of the capital, Harare.

Zimbabwe will go to the polls on June 27 in a second-round presidential election after none of the four presidential candidates in the March 29 vote did well enough to avoid a run-off.

The March 29 general elections saw Mugabe’s Zanu lose its majority in Parliament for the first time since independence 28 years ago.

Violence flared mainly in rural areas, with the opposition claiming at least 50 of its supporters have been killed, thousands displaced and hundreds injured in attacks by ruling party militants and people in army uniform.

The Zimbabwe national army has denied involvement in attacks on the opposition.

The ruling party accuses the MDC of attacking it supporters and burning their property.

Chedondo’s call echoes vows by the country’s prisons and police chiefs that they would not allow the country to be ruled by “puppets.”

Mugabe often refers to Tsvangirai as a stooge of former colonial master, Britain.

State of disrepair
Meanwhile, Tsvangirai on Friday launched a scathing attack on Mugabe’s rule, saying he had transformed a country rich in natural resources into a “state of despair”.

In a self-styled state of the nation address to lawmakers from his MDC, Tsvangirai also vowed there would be no amnesty for perpetrators of political violence if he takes power from Mugabe at the run-off election.

“The state of our nation is a state of despair,” said Tsvangirai, who is looking to end Mugabe’s 28-year rule at the ballot box.

“We have the world’s highest inflation rate, 80% unemployment, an education sector that has plummeted from one of the best to one of the worst.”

Tsvangirai said there could be no justification for the mess in a country that was regarded as a post-colonial role model in the first decade and a half after independence from Britain in 1980.

“We are a rich country with natural resources. We have the resources to attract foreign investors,” said Tsvangirai.

Zimbabwe’s economy has been in meltdown since the start of the decade, when Mugabe embarked on a controversial land-reform programme that saw thousands of white-owned farms expropriated by the state. — AFP

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The poor are becoming impatient

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2008

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

By Carol Hills | Johannesburg, South Africa
The border between South Africa and Zimbabwe should be “comprehensively” abolished, Methodist Bishop Paul Verryn told academics at the University of the Witwatersrand on Wednesday.

“In exactly the same way we pulled down the fences in 1994 and found that instead of restricting, it enabled. Instead of closing the economy, it opened up much wider trust in the economy,” Verryn told a colloquium on violence and xenophobia.

He said foundation for what had gone wrong lay in the labelling of vulnerable people as “illegal aliens” and their criminalisation.

He pointed out that the xenophobic attacks were not on the rich Zimbabweans, but the poor Zimbabweans, “the ones in the shacks, the ones in the streets …”.

The attacks were a warning to the community about what it did with its resources, said Verryn.

“Resources in this country belong to the entire nation and need to be shared in a way that ensures that every human being knows that they are of value and they have human dignity that cannot be alienated from them.

“And so you have this phenomenon [xenophobia] having wind in our community because the poor are becoming recklessly impatient.”

While the first xenophobic attack he experienced was in Braamfontein three years ago, the government had known of the problem for at least four years.

Each and every South African had to “scrutinise profoundly” the attitude that “breeds such vicious violence”, said Verryn.

The system of values at play was inconsistent with the country’s Constitution, many of whose words, he believed, were “written from personal experience of alienation in your motherland, of humiliation by people over and over again”.

Other academics speaking at the meeting said inequality was at the heart of the xenophobia sweeping the country.

The government claimed to have done more to address poverty since 1994 than any other developing country and indeed had, said economics Professor Stephen Gelb

“Poverty and inequality are not the same thing and cannot be treated by politicians as if they are,” he said.

The problem of poverty was extremely deep and intractable.

“The problem of inequality is equally deep and intractable.”

While it was clear that the government had addressed poverty, it was “equally clear inequality has not been addressed at all”.

Inequality was “extreme” and had actually worsened since 1994, Gelb pointed out.

Inequality could only be addressed by the transfer and building of assets such as education, skills, land and houses.

Only asset ownership would persuade people they had prospects and hope for the future.

“The government hasn’t succeeded at all in asset building and transfer.”

On their way home
Kenya is to repatriate 64 people from South Africa following anti-immigrant violence, an official said Wednesday.

“So far 64 Kenyans who have sought assistance are actually on their way back to Kenya as from tomorrow [Thursday],” Assistant Foreign Minister Richard Onyonka told reporters.

He said the government has set aside funds to help all of its nationals in South Africa who might want to return home. As many as 20000 Kenyans currently live in South Africa.

Tens of thousands of mainly Zimbabwean and Mozambican immigrants have been forced out of their homes since the onset of xenophobic attacks, which have so far left 56 people dead.

Meanwhile, a group of mostly Somalis and Ethiopians clashed with police on Wednesday when they threw stones at a relief workers’ vehicle bringing aid to an emergency relief camp in Akasia, north of Tshwane, South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) news reported.

Spokesperson Willie Baloyi reportedly said metro police had to use rubber bullets to disperse the angry group. One police officer was injured when his vehicle was stoned.

The group demanded that all relief had to come from United Nations relief organisations and refused aid from the South African government.

They allegedly cut a pipe supplying water to the camp and were stopping fellow immigrants and small babies from drinking water, the SABC reported.

The group were allegedly holding a hunger strike and preventing other foreigners from eating and drinking. — Sapa, AFP

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Soldier’s loot turned away

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2008

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

A Norwegian soldier came home from duty in Afghanistan with a horde of cultural treasures, which he offered to an Oslo museum. He was summarily rebuffed and told to take the treasures back to their country of origin.

The solider, who wasn’t identified, is believed to have violated laws against spiriting national treasures out of their homeland. His case wasn’t unique. Museum officials say they’re often offered such items brought back to Norway by military personnel, aid workers and tourists.

“In Afghanistan, the laws can be different from Norway’s, but such old items would almost certainly be covered by export restrictions,” said Christopher Prescott, an archaeology professor at the University of Oslo.

In this case, the soldier had a pile of ancient coins and a small metal bottle. Hkon Ingvaldsen, responsible for collections at Norway’s Historical Museum (Kulturhistorisk museum) in Oslo, told periodical Ny Tid that the coins were up to 2,000 years old.

“The museum can’t take into possession things that belong to another country’s cultural heritage,” Ingvaldsen said.

Neither Norway’s economic crimes unit kokrim, the Ministry of Culture nor Norwegian customs officials know what happened to the items offered by the soldier. Museum officials aren’t obliged to report cases of suspected illegal imports, but kokrim officials are trying to track the extent of such activity.

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Norwegians out of the fray

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2008

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

Norwegian officers are being pulled out of the front line in Afghanistan, in order to train Afghan forces. That means it will be a long time until Norwegian troops again see action against Taliban insurgents.

Lt Col Rune Solberg lacks specialist troops to continue offensive.

PHOTO: RUNE THOMAS EGE / FORSVARET

A lack of trained specialists will severely limit the offensive capability of the Norwegian force when the present contingent is replaced in June. Instead of the 100 troops requested, only 40 will be available.

The long-range weapons that have given them a clear fighting advantage will be put in storage until further notice. The new contingent lacks the necessary training to operate these weapons.

“I’m responsible for the troops,” says Lt.Col Rune Solberg, the new commander of the Telemark Batallion. “They can’t be used for missions that they’re not equipped to handle.”

Norwegian forces concluded a month-long operation against the Taliban earlier this month. Together with NATO allies and Afghan forces, some 250 Norwegians took part in fighting in northwestern Afghanistan. A combination of mortars, air strikes and armoured vehicles gave alliance forces a winning edge.

Norwegian troops have taken part in the Quick Reaction Force under ISAF control during the last two years.

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Summer busts out all over

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2008

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

Oslo was set to be one of the warmest cities in Europe this weekend, with temperatures exceeding those in Barcelona and Madrid. Sun-starved Norwegians were already flocking outdoors even before the weekend got underway.

These brave young women jumped into the Oslo Fjord, as Oslo warmed up for a sunny weekend.

PHOTO: CARL MARTIN NORDBY

Local parks and even beaches along the fjord were full of folks soaking up the rays, cautiously dipping into still relatively chilly waters or just diving on in.

Hilde Holdhus of Storm Weather Center predicted that temperatures could rise to as high as 27C (nearly 85F) during the weekend in the interior areas of southeastern Norway.

By comparison, the forecast for London and Paris was 21C, Amsterdam 19C, Barcelona 18C and Madrid 17.

Norway’s summer weather was linked to a high pressure system combined with warm air coming from Africa. It was also due to bring temperatures elsewhere in Europe up to as high as 29 in Berlin, 26 in Vienna and 28 in Athens. It’s not often that Oslo is as warm as Athens at this time of year.

The weekend also got off to a good start in northern Norway, with balmy temperatures in Nordland County of around 20C.

Even though some rain was predicted for northern and western Norway, temperatures were expected to stay in the low 20s.

Folks longing for a swim were testing the waters of the Oslo Fjord, and braving water temperatures of about 13-15C (not more than 60F).

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Record number of homes on the market

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2008

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

Norwegians are trying to sell their homes in record numbers. Never before has the listing service Finn offered more homes on the market.

Signs advertising open houses are prevalent these days.

PHOTO: INGAR HAUG STEINHOLT

As of Thursday, there were 21,300 homes on the market, writes newspaper VG. That’s 42 percent more than the same time last year, and nearly double the number of homes offered in late May 2006.

This is traditionally a busy season for home sales, as many sellers try to unload their properties before the summer holidays begin. Many also want to move when school lets out.

Nonetheless, “we’ve never had more used homes for sale than now,” said Lars Vangen Jordet, managing director of Finn Eiendom.

Another 16,000 new homes are also listed, but that number has been much higher earlier. The amount of new building projects has been sharply reduced this year, in line with turbulent financial markets.

The sheer amount of homes on the market is clearly in buyers favour, and statistics indicate that prices are coming down.

“There’s an enormous surplus of inventory on the market,” said Bjrn-Erik ye, a partner at Prognosesenteret. “And uncertainty among buyers means that nearly all try to sell their own homes before buying another.”

The state statistics bureau SSB predicts flat or declining prices for the next few years, with growth picking up again in 2011.

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More than 27% and 17% of 15-16 year old Congolese boys and girls smoke

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2008

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

At least 27.8 percent of Congolese boys and 17.6 percent of girls aged 13 to 15 years are smokers, the Congolese primary education and literacy minister Rosalie Kama Niamayoua said in a national address Saturday to mark World No Tobacco Day.

The international community celebrates World No Tobacco Day on May 31 each year, and this editions theme is “Youth Without Tobacco”.

“The theme comes very timely and aims to raise youths awareness of the hazards of tobacco and to encourage policy makers to work towards the strict regulation of tobacco products,” she said.

Niamayoua noted that one of the most effective ways to protect the young people against the dangers of smoking is to ban the advertising or promotion of tobacco, as well as the sponsorship of major events by the tobacco industry.

The minister said tobacco consumption prevalence among Congolese adults is 23.7% for men and 2.4% for women.

The prevalence rate in Africa stands at 29% among males, 7% among women, and between 10% and 30% among the 13-15 year-old school going youngsters.

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Kenya, UNICEF launch toll free number to curb child abuse

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2008

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

In a bid to curb the high cases of child abuse in the country, the Kenyan government in conjunction with the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) on Saturday launched a toll free number that people can call to report cases of child abuse.

Speaking in Nairobi at the launch, the Director of Child Services in the ministry of Health, Ahmed Hussein said that the number will curb the ever increasing high cases of child abuse in the country.

Hussein said that Kenya becomes the first country in Africa to launch such an initiative.

He noted that callers will be able to give the authorities accurate information to protect children in the country, adding that the information obtained will also be used to prosecute child offenders in the courts.

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UN repatriates about 6,000 Rwandan Hutu ex-combatants

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2008

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

A total of 6000 Rwandan Hutu ex-combatants have voluntarily been repatriated from DR Congo since the United Nations Mission or MONUC launched the disarmament, demobilization repatriation, reintegration, and reinsertion programme (DDRRR) in 2002, sources said here.

The number of ex-fighters voluntarily repatriated between January and mid-May 2008 in the framework of the DDR programme, increased by 25 percent compared to the figures registered during the corresponding period in 2007.

The UN mission said an estimate of 6000 Rwandese Hutu combatants, from the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR) or the dissident groups still operating in East of DR Congo, have returned home.

The MONUC attributes the success of the operation to the new comprehensive approach set by the Nairobi Action Plan which advocates combined efforts between the DDRRR staffs of the MONUC and the Congolese authorities in the sensitization of the combatants.

Besides the political and diplomatic policies, the UN mission also commended the military measures and the close collaboration between the Congolese and Rwandan governments as well as the support of the international community in the implementation of DDRRR programme.

Since the Nairobi Action Plan was implemented in early 2008, the DDRR staffs of the MONUC and the Congolese authorities have increased their field sensitization efforts on the DDRRR process.

Such public awareness devices reached the most remote zones of the North and South Kivu provinces (east of RD Congo), the Abacunguzi combatants (FOCA), an armed wing of the FDLR and its dissident factions.

Signed on 9 November 2007 in the Kenyan capital by the Congolese and Rwandan governments, the Nairobi Action Plan states that DR Congo shall prepare a detailed plan to disarm the former Rwandan Armed Forces -ex-FAR/Interahamwe Hutu rebels gathered in the FDLR).

DR Congo is also committed to eliminate the threat that they constitute and launch urgent military operations to mop up these rebels.

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API

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Japan, Liberia relations clocking half a century (A Feature)

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2008

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

By Terence Sesay – APA Correspondent in Liberia

Diplomatic relations between Liberia and Japan began on 27 September 1961 and eight years later opened resident embassies that have since nurtured bilateral cooperation, world diplomacy and promoted the search for global peace and stability.

Presently, Japan has an ambassador accredited to Liberia with residence in Accra, Ghana.

The current visit to Japan by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the second by a Liberian President since 1980, the first was by slain military dictator Samuel Kanyon Doe.

Japan continues assist Liberia via multilateral institutions. Since January 2006, Japanese assistance to Liberia has totalled US$18.8 million through UNICEF for reintegration of demobilized child soldiers and community health in Liberia.

Prior to the civil conflict in Liberia, Japan provided several direct assistance to Liberia including health, agriculture, transportation and scholarships for Liberian students to study in Japanese universities.

The Japanese Overseas Volunteer Corps (JOVC) sent Japanese volunteers to Liberia in the 1980s to teach in schools, while the Asian country has rehabilitated transmission facilities for the state radio, the Liberia Broadcasting Service (LBS).

During the TICAD 4 summit in Yokohama this week, the Japanese Prime Minister Fukuda promised that a Japanese team will head for Liberia next month to conduct preliminary work for a master plan study on urban facilities restoration and improvement.

The study will consider Liberias mid and short term plan for water, sewer, drainage and road and transport systems.

A fact-finding mission on the countrys power sector is also due in Monrovia by the end of June.

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API

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