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Archive for May 31st, 2008

Niger rebel movement downplays resignation of political wing

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2008

Publisher: Korir, source.apa

The Niger rebel Movement for Justice (MNJ) has downplayed the resignation of its political wing, arguing that only two officials of the France and Belgium-based cell have quitted the MNJ governing body, sources told APA.

The political cell of the rebel movement on Wednesday tendered its resignation from the governing body of the organisation which has been operating for over one year in north of the country.

In a brief statement released Friday on its website, the MNJ expressed its concern over “the consequences of the obstinate refusal of the Niger ruling regime to work for social justice and the return of peace”.

According to the source, the MNJ took note of the resignation of the two officers, namely the chairman Chena Hamate and the spokesman Kaocen Seydou Maiga.

This is the first official crisis within the movement created since February 2007 which launches repeated assaults against the military bases and the mining sites in the north and centre-east of Niger.

Since a few weeks, some disturbing rumours, particularly on Nigerien media, hinted at a “dissension” between the political wing and the armed group led by Aghali Alambo whose troops are based in northern Niger.

Meanwhile, the Niger government announced the surrender of several MNJ rebels while the national armed forces have been carrying out an offensive, for three months, in the northern region of Agadez where the bulk of the MNJ combatants is based.

Yet, the MNJ, which has no legal identity, and the Nigerien authorities opened no official negotiations as Niamey refuses to acknowledge the movement as a rebel group.

Albade Abouba, acting Niger Prime Minister, on Wednesday reminded the governments argument which believes that the poverty issues evoked by the armed groups were “only lame excuses to smuggle drugs or weapons”. Abouba, also Home Affairs and Public security minister, was speaking before the tribal and religious leaders from 21 African and Asian countries that were in Niamey in the framework of the talks on how to curb the insecurity rampant in the Sahara, particularly in northern Niger and Mali.



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ECOWAS, West African leaders appeal for calm in Guinea

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2008

Publisher: Korir, source.apa

The ECOWAS Commission on Friday appealed to all Guineans to act with a high sense of responsibility and desist from any actions likely to plunge their country and its neighbours into conflict and instability.

According to a statement by the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja, the Chairman of ECOWAS, President Blaise Compaor of Burkina Faso, made the appeal after consultations on the situation in Guinea with President John Kufuor of Ghana and some other leaders in West Africa on Friday on the margins of the TICAD IV conference in Yokohama, Japan.

The other sub-regional leaders involved in the consultations were President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, Vice President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria and the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas.

The statement said that the leaders expressed great concern on the reported unrest by elements of the Armed Forces of Guinea which put at risk the safety and security of the civilian population and poses a grave threat to the fragile peace in the entire Mano River Union area.



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Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2008

Publisher: Korir, source.apa

The Rwandan Attorney General and minister of Justice, Tharcisse Karugarama has strongly criticized the ruling by the judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to stay the transfer of genocide cases and suspects to Rwanda, describing it as a judgment that lacks actual facts on the ground about the countrys judicial system.

The three judges; Ins Mnica Weinberg de Roca (Argentina), Lee Gacuiga Muthoga (Kenya) and Robert Fremr (Czech Republic), on Thursday unanimous ruled that Rwanda is yet to provide necessary tools in place to guarantee a fair trial of high profile genocide cases.

The judges were making a judgment to an earlier request by the ICTR chief prosecutor, Hassan Boubacar Jallow and the Rwandan government to transfer to Rwanda, Yussuf Munyakazi, a Rwandan businessman to face charges of genocide and crimes against humanity he was suspected to have committed during the 1994 genocide. The case and judgment was supposed to set a precedent for other cases and suspects to be transferred to Rwanda for trial.

In an interview on Friday in Kigali, Karugarama strongly rebuffed the judges reasoning, saying it lacks an impartial judgement of actual facts on the ground about the countrys judicial system.

“Whereas we have to accept the tribunals wisdom of judgment in this case, we dont agree with the reasons given and express our deep disappointment,” Karugarama, said, expressing full support to the tribunals chief prosecutor to appeal against the judgment.

“It is a regrettable and disappointing decision. Rwanda has a functioning and independent legal system that guarantees a fair hearing for anyone,” Martin Ngoga, Rwandas prosecutor general, also told the press on Friday.

The ICTR has until the end of 2008 to wind up all trials unless the United Nations extends its mandate and all appeals should be determined by 2010.

The transfers were seen as a strategy to offload outstanding cases so that the tribunal could meet its deadline.



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Egyptian leader begins a visit to Italy

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2008

Publisher: Korir, source.apa

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is scheduled to visit Italy next Monday during which he will meet with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and President Giorgio Napolitano.

This is the first meeting between Egyptian and Italian leaders since the election of Berlusconi as Prime Minister of Italy.

Egyptian diplomatic sources said here Saturday that during the visit, an agreement will be signed between the two countries on strategic partnership.

The sources pointed out that the issue of strengthening the strategic relations between Egypt and Italy top the agenda of the meeting, which will also witness the signing of another agreement for the establishment of an Egyptian-Italian university and an agreement regarding inter-cultural dialogue.

President Mubarak and Prime Minister Berlusconi will also open the economic forum scheduled to be attended by representatives of a large number of economic sectors, industrial, financial and major Italian companies.



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Liberian leader expresses concern about security situation in Guinea

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2008

Publisher: Korir, source.apa

The current chairperson of the Mano River Union (MRU), which groups together Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has expressed concern about the security situation in Guinea and the Mano River basin.

A dispatch Friday from Tokyo, Japan where she was attending the just ended Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), President Sirleaf expressed fear that the MRU region, which is just emerging out of years of violent conflict could once again be threatened with conflict, noting that any setback could negatively affect the gains made so far in the peace and reconstruction programs in countries within the sub-region.

President Sirleaf observed that peace and stability are indispensable for economic growth and development.

President Sirleaf was speaking in Tokyo during a forum on the uneasy situation in Guinea, which brought together five ECOWAS heads of state and the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr.Mohamed Ibn Chambas. The meeting also acknowledged the critical role ECOWAS played in the resolution of an earlier situation in Guinea involving the government, the military, trade unions and other civil society groups.

The leaders agreed that the leadership of ECOWAS needed further consultations with a view to finding an amicable solution to the looming conflict.

The situation in Guinea has been tense since President Lansana Conte sacked his Prime Minister Lansana Kouyate last week.



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Rwandan, South Korean leaders discuss economic cooperation

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2008

Publisher: Korir, source.apa

Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who arrived in South Korea for a two-day official visit, Saturday held discussions in Seoul, the capital with his host, Lee Myung-bak on the strengthening of economic and industrial cooperation between Rwanda and South Africa, a presidential press statement issued here on Saturday said.

According to the statement, the two leaders agreed that South Korea will in the very near future, send experts in information technology (IT) to study the priority needs and devise interventional measures to help Rwanda achieve its strategic objective of becoming a high-tech economy in the region.

“Kagame held talks and a luncheon with President Lee and their discussions centered on improving bilateral economic cooperation and transferring Koreas expertise in IT and economic development,” the statement said in part, noting that Kagame becomes the first Rwandan president to visit the highly industrialized Asian country since the establishment of bilateral diplomatic ties in 1963.

At the talks, the Korean leader praised Kagame for stabilizing Rwanda after overcoming the 1994 genocide which claimed over one million lives and expressed the intention to have Korean enterprises participate in the countrys socio-economic development and infrastructure construction. He also vowed to support Rwanda and other African countries through the Korean governments “Africa Initiative”, calling for extension of hefty grants and soft loans and expansion of economic, medical and educational support.

In response, Kagame asked Lee to extend active support for Rwandas ambitious drive to build an IT-based economy and help increase Koreas imports of Rwandan coffee. There are numerous investment opportunities in Rwanda that would attract your investors to take up and help us in building a sustainable and independent economy, Kagame said.

Meanwhile, on Friday, shortly after arrival in Seoul, Kagame visited the Human Resources Development Service of Korea and toured its various training facilities. He also met with the chief executive officer of Korea Telecoms, Dr. Yong-Kyung Lee where they discussed the companys work of laying fibre optic cables and developing wi-pro technology in Rwanda.



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OHADA contributed much to securing business in Africa, official says

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2008

Publisher: Korir, source.apa

The Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (HOHADA) has significantly contributed in securing the business environment in Africa, permanent secretary Koleka Boutora-Takpa of Togo said here Friday.

He was speaking at the end of an expert meeting of the fifteen member states of HOHADA in Dakar on ways to strengthen its national commissions capacity as part of the World Bank OHADA project.

“Since being established, OHADA has helped end legal uncertainty in business, thereby helping to reassure investors,” he said.

The OHADA National Commissions capacity-building project funded this blueprint to the tune of 1.5 million dollars (about 700 million CFA francs) over the 2008-2010 period.

“We have made proposals towards improving the operation of national OHADA commissions which are the driving force or the organisation,” he added.

“OHADA has made valuable contribution by facilitating investment in member countries, yet the treaty needs to be amended and the draft amendment is now ready,” Benin lawyer Robert Dossou said on his part.

According to him, there is no talking about difficulties of implementing the statutes but rather opportunities to improve the convenience and efficiency of the treaty.

The draft amendment will be submitted to next Julys ministerial council meeting in Dakar, and then to the heads of state and government conference for adoption, the Dakar meeting organizers said.

The chairman of the Guinea Bissau Bar Association, Armando Mango underscored his countrys challenges aligning its commercial code – which dates back to 1808 with OHADA.

Mango said “translating the statutes from Portuguese to French, then harmonising them and training staff, among others, are the difficulties a Portuguese-speaking country like Guinea Bissau encountered in implementing OHADA.”

Regarding the entry of English-speaking countries, Dossou expressed a wish to see it happen quickly, noting the theory that the different Francophone and Anglophone legal systems is an integration difficulty has now been overcome.

The entry of English-speaking countries in the OHADA would expand investors scope of action and strengthen integration among African countries.

However, national committees have difficulties playing “their role of studying, monitoring and strengthening business law in Africa from their respective countries due to insufficient resources and organisational challenges,” Dossou said.

The OHADA groups Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo, Cote dIvoire, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Chad and Togo.

Signed in 1993, the OHADA Treaty entered into force in 1995.



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Day dreamers still think Mr Kabuga is in Kenya

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2008

Publisher: Korir,

When we read some section of the media quoting some authorities that Mr Flicien Kabuga is hiding in Kenya, we only wonder where the said authorities get such information. It is as if some people are embarassed of the fact that Mr Kabuga is able to move around freely from country to country even if he is one of the most wanted men by the International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda.

API has tried to bring light into the story.Mr Kabuga as far as API’s knowledge is concerned, is not in Kenya.

The change of government and the entry of Rwanda into the East African Community has made it difficult for Mr Kabuga to even imagine bribing security or political leaders anymore so that he may hide in Kenya.

The international community will soon get the answer to the question – Where is Kabuga at the moment and what is he doing to elude justice?


African Press International – API

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Gema makes a comeback

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2008

Publisher: Korir,

By Saturday Standard TeamTwo key developments that could redefine Kenyas political landscape, especially in the post-Kibaki era, are unfolding in Central Province.

The first is the return of the blood union of Mount Kenya communities Gikuyu, Embu and Meru Association. After two-and-half decades of silence, the political and religious class from the Gema community converge today at the Kenya Methodist University, Meru, to discuss the Central regions future and leadership. The instrumental union during Mzee Jomo Kenyattas reign was among the tribal organisations former President Moi outlawed in 1980.

Secondly, Narc-Kenya party marks her second anniversary on Tuesday and Justice minister Ms Martha Karua, who has declared interest in the presidency, is poised to take over as the chairperson.

Karua is set to replace former Foreign minister Mr Raphael Tuju, who was beaten in last years election but is now one of President Kibakis formal advisers.

Narc-Kenyas Organising Secretary and Medical Services Assistant minister Mr Danson Mungatana said he expects Karua to take over from Tuju. He said by virtue of being a civil servant, Tuju cannot continue being the partys chairman or hold a political position.

Also to be replaced is former Cabinet minister Prof Kivutha Kibwana, the partys vice-chairman, who was also appointed presidential adviser. If Karua is elevated to lead the party a key partner in the presidents Party of National Unity she would have stepped right into the silent battle in region to take over the leadership mantle from President Kibaki, who is serving his last term.

Touted as having come close to clinch the Deputy Prime Ministers post which went to Kanu chairman Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, Karua would stand at par with the both the DPM and Internal Security minister Prof George Saitoti. The Internal Security minister hails from the Rift Valley but his political roots run deep in Central Kenya because of his mixed ethnic heritage. Karua was Narc-Kenyas choice for DPM.

Top on the agenda in the Gema meeting in Meru would be the regional leadership scramble as well as how to stem the perception the communities was facing isolation from the rest of the country.

The resettlement of internal refugees in the Rift Valley, and the contentious debate on negotiation with members of the outlawed Mungiki sect will also feature in the meeting which former and current MPs and ministers from the region will attend.

Generational succession in the regions political leadership is also expected to feature, with aging and washed-out leaders being asked to take up their place in retirement by making way for their sons and daughters.

The region bears the dubious reputation of having the highest age profile among the powerful political class. Many of whom served under President Kenyatta in the 1960s and 1970s. “These grandfathers still view Kenya the way it was during the Kenyatta era when spotting grey hair alone commanded respect, said a source who requested anonymity because of fear of political reprisal should it look like he is rebelling against President Kibaki.

He added: “Their instance to hang onto leadership is against the communitys custom and traditions. They are a major source of our divisions,” another source said.

Several initiatives discussing Gemas political agenda and future have been going on and the Meru meeting is expected to harmonise their activities.

The current MPs have been holding meetings under the auspices of the Central Parliamentary Group (CPG) under the chairmanship of the Mathira MP Mr Ephraim Maina.

The former MPs forum features among others former Naivasha MP and assistant minister, Mrs Jayne Kihara, former Kiambaa MP, Mr Njenga Karume. Maragwa MP Mr Elias Mbau has been linkman for the two groups.

Industrialist-cum-politician Mr Peter Kuguru, has also been leading his own group, Mega, whose agenda is not different.

Serving and retired prominent leaders led by retired Anglican Bishop, Peter Njenga, have also been involved in the initiatives.

Political agenda for 2012-basically revolves around the question whether the region, which has given Kenya two of the countrys three presidents so far, should have a try after Kibaki. “The agenda is unity around a political party that is to be identified, and whether the region should field a candidate or back a candidate from another party in a negotiated alliance,” said a CPG member. The voting patterns in last years election was also a wake up call to the regions political leadership, when Gema communities stood alone, almost to a man, in voting for President Kibakis re-election, while the rest of the country went in the opposite direction.

The sobering spectre of a possible total isolation was made more traumatic by the post election violence that largely targeted members of the community in the Rift Valley.

Opinion is, however, divided as to who was responsible for this isolation, with wealthy and elderly members of the so-called Council of Elders taking most of the flak.

They are perceived to have ring-fenced Kibaki from the rest of the country for most of the first term, a blunder that nearly cost him a second term despite good performance on most fronts, especially the economy.

Grudges from these divisions have spilled into the current efforts to find political unity, with Kiambaa MP Mr Njenga Karume being accused of hankering to recapture his Gema leadership during the Meru conference.

Sources said that Karume would be ferrying delegates to Meru to secure a majority should election become necessary.

A press conference scheduled for yesterday at a Nairobi hotel ahead of the meeting was called off in the last minute. Former Gatundu MP, Mr Moses Muhia, was scheduled to address the press conference.

“We are aware of these machinations. These old men do not want to retire Members of CPG are concerned the search for unity efforts should not be led by serving or former politicians but a businessman or a religious leader. Politicians will only perpetuate the divisions and simply reduce Gema into nyumba ya wazee (a home for grey haired grand fathers),” said another source.

The meeting will also discuss the political rivalry between Karua and Uhuru and what it portends for the province. During a meeting of the Central Kenya Parliamentary Group (CPG), three weeks ago in Nairobi, it was agreed that the region forges a united political platform. The meeting was attended by record 45 MPs.

Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka is also likely to feature at the Meru conference as a possible Gema candidate for the 2012, especially having thrown his weight behind Kibaki at his weakest moment last year. His case has however been floated by a few politicians and wider consultations will have to take place.

As chairman of Narc-Kenya, Karua will be representing her party at the PNU council that is chaired by President Kibaki. Mungatana said Narc-Kenya will be two years old on June 3 and will mark the day by holding celebrations at the partys headquarters in Nairobi.

He said the celebrations would be marked by deep reflections on the partys performance in the last General Election and projection of the future.

He says had the party gone on its own during the elections, it would have managed up to 80 MPs.

Mungatana says the party is deeply wounded after President Kibaki abandoned it and formed PNU. “We should have done better if President Kibaki had not changed parties at the last minute. The advice did not fly because most PNU affiliates did not make much of a difference, he added.

“We were very angry. We did not get a single nominated MP. Ford-Kenya that has only four MPs got a slot. The other slot we had laid claim to went to Ms Maison Leshomo, who nobody knew, said Mungatana.

Mungatana says Kanu has 16 MPs while Narc- Kenya has 29, including those like Karua and Saitoti who went through PNU but have remained faithful to their mother party.

He recalls how Narc-Kenya was born and the success it has achieved within a short time. Shortly after the party was launched during a colourful ceremony at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) grounds on June 3, 2006, it faced five by-elections and returned with three seats.

The by-elections were occasioned by the Marsabit plane crash that claimed five MPs and nine other people. Narc-Kenya took the North Horr, Saku and Nakuru Town parliamentary seats.

The party had started asserting her authority and was considered a strong contender in the last general elections as it commanded a following of more than 80 MPs in the Ninth Parliament.



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Shut tribal radio stations, says Moi

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2008

Publisher: Korir,

By Beauttah Omanga

Former President Moi has asked the Government to act on vernacular radio stations fanning tribalism and hatred.

Retired President Moi admires a painting of his image at Sunshine Secondary School in Nairobi on Friday day where he was the chief guest during the Prize giving day. Looking on is the school principal, Mrs Magdalene Sang. Picture: Collins Kweyu

Moi said he was concerned that the majority of stations were advocating tribalism at the expense of national cohesion.

“The Government should take action against such vernacular radio stations for they pose a threat to the unity of Kenyans,” he said.

The former President warned that the vernacular stations could plunge the country into chaos if they continued broadcasting hateful politics that set communities against each other.

If the stations were to be allowed to continue operating, he said, they should only propagate cultural values and religious programmes.

“The participants should not be allowed to discuss politics in their mother tongues. I am now 84 years old and know what I am talking about. The stations, if not checked, will cause a major problem in this country,” he said.

The retired President spoke on Friday at Sunshine Secondary School, Nairobi, during a prize-giving day.

He asked the mushrooming radio stations to educate their listeners on culture and keep off politics.


Moi, who was with his son Philip, also expressed concern over what he termed emerging of tribal chiefs in the political arena.

“We are seeing tribal chiefs take centre stage in our national politics. We must speak as Kenyans and reason as Kenyans at all times,” he said.

Moi said any leader who aspired to be a President must first leave their tribal cocoon.

“The person must first dissociate himself or herself from tribal cocoons, which do not produce presidents,” he said.

He challenged politicians to unite Kenyans, adding: “even if somebody did not vote for you, as a leader, you should not hate him or her.”

The former Head of State reminded leaders and the media that their public utterances and news items influenced young Kenyans.

“Public utterances of leaders, radio broadcasts and newspaper reports should not have content that instils in our youth a culture of tribalism and hatred,” he said.

Moi also hit out at drug peddlers whom he accused of using the youth as captives and easy markets for their substances.

Moi asked the Government to allow the private sector to play key roles in the provision of education.

He at the same time welcomed the new Nairobi Metropolitan Ministry but said its mandate should be expounded to cover all municipalities.



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Ancient coin found near Oslo

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2008

Publisher: Korir, source.aftenposteneng

An Islamic coin from 805 AD, found on the Hurum peninsula just west of Oslo, is causing a stir among Norwegian archaeologists.

This ancient dirhem was recently found at Hurum.


The silver dirhem, minted in Iran, is one of the earliest examples of coins to turn up in the Nordic countries.

Several other hordes in the area have contained similar coins, but none date back as far as this. The previous finds have been 100-150 years younger.

According to Houshang Khazaei, a researcher at the University of Oslo, the coin was minted in Mohammadiyyah in Iran. The ruler at the time was Harun al-Rashid, the fifth and most famous of the Abbasid caliphs.

For several hundred years dirhems were minted in countries in North Africa and the Middle East. They were used in Europe too, much like the US dollar or the euro today, and likely came to Norway with Viking traders.

The dirhem contains about three grams of silver. Payment was made by weight rather than according to the denomination on the coin. Therefore many were cut in half or into quarters to make small change.



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Ferry route shutdown ends ‘historic’ link to England

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2008

Publisher: Korir, source.aftenposteneng

Seagoing travelers between the UK and Norway are having to change their plans after Danish ferry company DFDS Seaways announced this week that it was dropping an historic route between Bergen, Haugesund, Stavanger and Newcastle.

The ferry route between Norway and England was battered by competition from cut-rate airlines.


The company claims it has tried to win more passengers by putting a new vessel on the route, and by changing the service concepts on board. It hasnt helped boost profitability.

DFDS is dropping the route effective September 1. Officials claimed there were “relatively few” passengers already booked after that date.

Passengers who had reservations will receive new offers, including refunds of tickets, said DFDS information chief Gert Jakobsen.

“Now we’ve announced this well in advance,” Jakobsen said, adding that the company would contact those expecting to travel after September 1. The DFDS vessel Queen of Scandinavia will continue to sail on the route through August 31.

One frustrated British passenger who travels frequently to Norway told that there now would be no other means of bringing their own cars over to the country for holiday trips, without taking a “very circuitous” route through Denmark. Shutting down the “historic” link between the two countries was described as “diabolical.”

Others have complained of the end of DFDS’ service between Newcastle and Gothenburg, Sweden as well.

The shutdown also affects around 270 workers on board the vessel, most of whom are based in Denmark and England. Around 70 shoreside jobs in Denmark, England and Norway will also likely be lost.

DFDS took over the route between Norway and Newcastle from Fjordline in 2006. The ferry companies have been hit hard by tough competition from low-priced airlines, higher fuel prices and a difficult market for short cruises.

“It was a route that wasn’t doing well when we took over,” said Jakobsen. “We hoped we could turn it around, and deployed a new ship and new concepts, but it wasn’t enough.”

It’s the second international ferry route to be shut down in recent weeks that’s blamed on declining passenger demand. Color Line also dropped its route between Oslo and Hirtshals in Denmark on May 6, forcing around 100,000 passengers to make new summer travel plans. They were offered new tickets on new high-speed ferries from Larvik and Kristiansand.



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Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2008

Publisher: Korir, source.aftenposteneng

Tom Nordlie, outspoken coach for the Lillestrm (LSK) soccer club, has given up his post, effective immediately.

Tom Nordlie’s season didn’t get off to a good start.


Nordlie, who’s been a coach for top Norwegian clubs since 1997, has been under pressure because of LSK’s disappointing start this season. TV2 had reported Wednesday night that the coach no longer had the confidence of LSK players.

Club officials issued a statement Thursday morning, announcing that LSK and Nordlie had agreed to end their relationship and come to terms on the conditions surrounding Nordlie’s departure.

LSK now languishes in 13th place. Frode Grods and Erland Johnsen will take over coaching duties in the run-up to a match against Bod-Glimt, reports local newspaper Romerikes Blad.



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Gay marriage bill creates strange political bedfellows

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2008

Publisher: Korir, source.aftenposteneng

Two political parties which normally avoid each other have teamed in an unusual alliance to protest Norway’s looming same-sex marriage law. They’re joined by 50,000 irate Christian fundamentalists.

Dagfinn Hybrten, leader of the Christian Democrats, has found some common ground with Progress Party leader Siv Jensen.


The Christian Democrats (Kristelig Folkeparti KrF) and the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet FrP), are rejecting a new marriage law that will allow gay and lesbian couples to marry, to adopt, and in the case of lesbian couples, to qualify for state-funded fertility treatment.

Both the parties and the thousands who’ve organized grass-roots protests against the bill also worry that independent Christian schools will lose their state funding if they continue to teach that marriage is between partners of the opposite sex.

This creates the unusual political alliance, since KrF usually avoids close co-operation with FrP, despite both belonging to the non-socialist bloc in parliament. Both parties reject the new legislation in favour of keeping the existing law.

Both parties are quick to emphasize that they are against discrimination of homosexuals and that they support measures which strengthen the rights of the children of same-sex couples.

The bill was to come up in Parliament on Thursday. Norway’s left-centre coalition government has a majority in parliament, so the bill seemed assured of passing when it eventually comes up for a vote.



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Study? Why bother?

Posted by African Press International on May 31, 2008

Publisher: Korir, source.aftenposteneng

Fewer young Norwegians are choosing higher education, as high wages lure them to work.

Stian Aune chose to work in a clothing store and earn some money instead of continuing to study.


Statistics show a 4.5 per cent fall since 2006 in the number of students currently enrolled at colleges and universities. That amounts to a net loss of about 6,500 students in just two years.

A booming labour market in Norway is proving far more attractive to increasing numbers of young Norwegians than working on long and expensive degrees.

Stian Aune, for example, said he started studying at a local business college in Oslo but opted to work in a clothing store instead. “Education is fine, but it’s just as important to get some work experience,” Aune told newspaper Aftenposten.

Education officials cite various reasons for the trend. The labour market, for example, is extremely good even for work with low skill requirements.

Students also are unwilling to embark on long courses even when employment is certain upon graduation. The high cost of student loans in a country where parents aren’t expected to support their student offspring will carry 6.2 percent interest rates from July.

Lower student numbers have one advantage. The government saves NOK 2.1 billion (about USD 400 million) on funding fewer student loans and grants in 2008.



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