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Archive for June 19th, 2008

Former Raila aide back in full swing

Posted by African Press International on June 19, 2008

By Jeff Otieno, Kisumu – Kenya

Chairman of Sony Sugar Company Herbart Ojwang who for along time served as personal assistant (P.A) to Raila Odinga a couple of years ago is back vigorously once again in the political lime light.

Ojwang who severed links with the Prime Minister on unclear grounds had to jump ship and was salvaged by the former influential foreign affairs Minister now President Mwai Kibaki personal adviser Mr.Raphael Tuju to land the lucrative docket he has todate until the expiry of his contract which runs upto late 2009 next year.

A few days ago, Hebart was spotted by a group of hawk-eyed journalists having dinner with a local Kisumu based controversial contractor, a powerful local government Chief Officer and Gem Mp Jackoyo Midiwo in one of the leading Hotels in what keen observers believe was a perch up schemes to bring him back into the circles of the PM Raila Odinga.

Jackoyo who many believe is Raila Odinga pointman in the region is said to be having a soft spot for Herbart and according to sources close to the PM Camp, he bitterly protested his unceremonious exit.

Impeccable sources confided to this writer that the schemes to bring him to the lime light started a few months to the last General Elections when Herbart is said to have boarded a passenger plane one evening to Kisumu during Raila Odingaʼs fund raiser at Yatch club.

This journalist could however not establish whether it was by coincidence or design for him to have got a seat next to the PM where they could be seen exchanging heartily to the amusement of those who were on board.

Itʼs alleged that the former aide had some invitation cards and was destined to go to the occasion to equally extend his olive branch and support to his former boss.

According to the sources, the PM told him to instead channel what he had to one of the aides who was aboard the plane for fear of victimizations by the rival camp.

The sources further confided that the closeness was given some boost when the Spectre international owned by the Odinga family had some difficulties to get molasses which is a crucial raw material for the plant from the local millers.

Recently, during the PM home coming in Bondo, Herbart was in attendance and was seated in away befitting those who matter in the circles of power.

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API

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Intrigues in Luo politics: Former MPs force their way to Raila’s office with their CVs demanding to be employed

Posted by African Press International on June 19, 2008

By Leo Odera Omolo

Discontent is high inside Luo Nyanza following the bad rumours that the immediate former MPs who were rejected by the electorate in last Decembers general election are flocking into the Nairobi office of the Prime Minister with their CVs in search of government appointments.

The same rumours goes that the former MPs are hungry lots, but strangely enough they are said to be seeking the government and parastatal jobs already held by their fellow Luos.

Of course there are very few Luos holding plum jobs in both government, parastatals and quasi-government organizations.And there are a few Luos serving in diplomatic missions abroad. The majority of them had secured their diplomatic posting during the reign of the former Foreign Minister Raphael Tuju, and are said to be performing exemplary well.

A few Luos are heading parastatals. The most notable is Dr. Ongongan Achieng who is the Managing Director of the Kenya Tourist BoaRD{KTB}. The board was hitherto run down and the country was losing the battle for tourism business, which is a major source of the scarce foreign exchange. Dr. Achieng is a performer and a workaholic man whose brief reign at the helm of the KTB has seen rapid growth in the tourism industry.

Other CEO include MS Rosemarie Mkok who is heading the Kenya Sugar Board in acting capacity following the recent suspension of the KSB Chief Executive Andrew Otieno,But in a brief stint Ms Mkok has made a mark as a performer and an effective manager. Otieno, according to sources, is under investigations for alleged crimiunal related matters.

The other parastatal Luo CEO is George Okungu who is heading the most lucrative Kenya Pipeline Company limited. Okungu is also credited for being an exemplary performer. He has been there ever since the days of NARC accession to power in 2002. He had at first served as the deputy MD under Dr. Shem Ochuodho and took over when the latter was shown the exit door.

There are several Luo CEOs of the various parastatal bodies such as Paul Odolla who heads the SONY Sugar Company who together with the hardworking chairman of the board of directors Mr. Herbert Ojuwang have turned the hitherto financially strapped firm into a vibrant corporate business entity to the satisfaction of the local sugar canbe farming communities. Sonysugar has contracted close to 25,000 outgrowers in five administrative districts, namely Rongo, Migori, Kuria, Gucha and Homa-bay.

Another parastatal CEO is Prof. Julius Nyabundi who head s the financially limping Chemelil Sugar Company in Nyandoi sugarbelt. Nyabundis managerial capacity mnay be put to one thousand question mark. Chemelil used to produced between 2500 bags to 3000 bags per day, but ever since the former dons at Maseno University took over the production capacity has gone down to a worrisome level. Chemelil is now only able to produce between 800 and 12 gunny bags of sugar per day. This does not even reporesent the half of its production capacity. On several occasion this has gone under numerous probe by the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission staff and sleuths.The government must make a radical change in order to rescue Chemelil Sugar from the sharks.

Eng. Martin Owiti, the man who is also credited for having turned SONYSUGAR around back to life from its deathbed is currently doing extremely well at the Muhoironi Sugar Company, though this firm is still under the official receivership.. Owiti is a joint receiver managers with K. Bett. Sugarcane farmers are getting paid in time and in an efficient manner like what is currently happy with the two.

There are only two Luos serving as the chairmen of the parastatals bodies, These are Mr Zablon Owigo Olang a former MP for Ndhiwa who is currently the chairman of the Lake Basin Development authority{LBDA}. Mr. Olang , according to confidential reports reaching us is a performer, though the LBDA has limited resources he has steared the parastatal on well.

The other presidential appointee serving the parastatal is Mr. Hebert Ojuwangs who is the chairman of the SONYSUGAR Company board of directors. Ojuwang a shrewd business man took over the management of SONYSUGAR when the firms resources were being vandalized by a cartel of rogue staff, friends and relatives. Cane farmers were forced to go up to six months before being paid for their cane crops harvested, delivered and crushed by the company processing factory at Awendo. There were hue and cry about rampant corruption in weighbridge, transport, sales of the finished product and harvesting.

The Awendo-based SONYsugar was almost going burst as the looting of its resources had intensified forcing the government to change its five different CEOs within a brief period of five years. At the moment cane farmers within Awendo and its environs are quite happy with the new management team under the stewardship of Mr. Ojuwang. The company has become zero tolerant to corruption and other vices.

But the rumour making the round within Awendo and its environs is that an elderly former MP from the greater Southern Nyanza region has persistently been pestering the Prime Ministers with his CV. The gentleman is said to be aged about 72 year old while the current Chairman is in his late 40s or early 50s.

Instead of these former Luo MPs making use of the good money they are alleged to have looted from the CDF during the 9th Parliament by establishing service and manufacturing businesses in Kisumu, they are still loitering around looking for jobs. In the business and commercial front, Kisumu is still under the economic and commercial grip of the Asians and other non-Luo merchants.

In the diplomatic postings, there are several Luo ambassadors and High Commissioners like ms Rachele Omamo {France}Rateng Oginga Ogego{Washington}, Lazarous Ombaye Amayo{Zambia}, mDan Madundu {Eggypt} and Tom Amolo {Pretoria} only to mention a few. These Luos diplomats are said to be performing exemplarily well in harmonising Nairobis relations with other capitals of the world with distinction and credit.

But despite of the excellence performance, some oldest and tired former Luo MPs are said to ne engaged in intensive lobbying for their jobs.

The one million question being asked here and there is that; Is it necessary to replace a Luo from this constituency who is serving the government with another Luo from another constituency. Does it augur well with the ODM strategies for the future.,.This kind of downward looking strategies could only serve to antagonize the community, and yet the grand coalition government has so many openings to accommodate these former MPS turned job seekers.

Some of these former MPS are known to be parents with grown up children who in turn have already acquired university degrees, and should be the one seeking for employment in government and parastatal bodies, but not their rapidly ageing fathers. Moreover these people were flatly rejected at the polls by the electorate for various reasons, therefore they should go home and enjoy whatever they have and leave the field for young and energetic sons and daughter.

The ODM also need to pull its sacks up and stand firm against its loose talking adherents and the so-called power brokers operating and politicking within the pubs and restaurants in Kisumu town with vernomous and dreadful rumours. The so-called members of the moribund Luo Council of Elders, which at times acting as a wing of the party is another source of discontent.

The so-called power brokers if their actions are not checked in time could spoil things and the good work being put in place by the Luo political kingpin Raila Amolo Odinga.

During the Prime Minister homecoming parties and celebrations which started in Kisumu City, one of the Luo MPs was notably absent.. But it later emerged that Joshua Orwa Ojodeh, who is an Assistant Minister for Internal Security and a team of other security personnel had flown to the war-ravaged Mt. Elgon district for on a spot checking inspection of security operation in the areas.

Ojodeh therefore could not be in attendance in these series of parties and celebrations due to the fact that he had gone on government mission. It was the mission of the same government headed by Raila Odinga as the prime Minister, and as such it defeats all the logics for any busy body to start dreadful rumours that the Assistant Minister absenteeism was meant that he is fighting Hon Odinga politically There is so many air balloon loose talks of this kind in Kisumu and its environ, which are only fueling misunderstanding among the elected leaders from the region Mr. Odinga is doing is doing an excellent work for this our beloved Kenyan nation and as such people who surrounds him should be grateful for the work he is doing. All must appreciate what he has achieved so far and give him breathing time to achieve more in the coming years. Idlers should go back home and work in their farms.. this idler talkers do not have instrument with which they can measure up the degree of loyality of an individual to Raila..

Ojodeh is a very loyal and staunch follower of Raila Odinga who has stood with side by side with Agwambo.at the time of need and as such should not be despised by these destructive and unproductive bunch of political sycophants.

It is time many Luo political operative scale down their uncoordinated public utterences, especially sycophantic utterances against their fellow Luos personalities. If you remove a Luo from Ugenya from a parastatal job and replaced him with a Luo from Karachuonyo you have virtually nothing for the interest of the community, but only served to antagonise it..

Well performing diplomats should be left alone to continue serving Kenya and should not be replaced with people with dubious qualification in the diplomatic services, simple to create jobs for them for the sake of it in the same context the rejected former Luo MPS must stop the bad habit of pestering the PM with CVs. They must go home and wait for the year 2012 or retire honourably and leave the political field altogether for the younger people.

Those Luos busy bodies who are pretending to be Raila Odinga loyalists or more loyal than the others should know that the entire community voted for the ODM on man to man. It was a total commitment for the realization of the meaningful change that the entire Kenyan population want, but not for individual egoistic and selfish interests.

.On equal terms. Members of the Luo Council of Elders should also engaged themselves on gainful businesses, and must at the same time stop acting as the supervisers of the elected MPS. They should the MP s alone to serve the electorate and stop spreading dreadful rumours on non-existent issues. They should give Raila and the present crop of MPs the breathing space to serve the wananchi..

Some members of the so-called Luo Council of Elders are people who cannot even win a seat in a local primary school committee and such they should stop sowing the seeds of discord among the elected leaders;

That is the way forward.

ENDS

leooderaomolo@yahoo.com

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API

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Posted by African Press International on June 19, 2008

The woman minister in Norway has been kicked out by the prime minister Jens Stoltenberg due to scandals that she has been associated with of late. The minister, due to her love for the ministerial position did not want to step down on her own free will. The prime minister had no choice but to dismiss her today due to public out-cry.

When the media discovered her scandalous associations, she tried to act in a manner that was seen to be stubbornly unbecoming. She took sick leave and was to come back, according to her, after 4 weeks.

Today, as she faced the sack there was no sign of illness when she held a press conference. Observers now wonder whether she was really sick or the public has been taken for a ride? There is now a question on whether she paid taxes at all.

Yesterday she was caught in a new scandal and today she was finished. Out – she goes. Her demise is good for the Norwegian politics now that she has also quit as the leader of the small Norwegian center Party. API

slaug Haga quit Thursday morning as both Norways Oil & Energy Minister and leader of her political party, bowing out after a storm of criticism around building violations and questionable political maneuvering. Haga herself said her decision was not political, but rather steered by her health.

slaug Haga announced at a press conference Thursday morning that she was quitting as a government minister and as leader of her small political party.

PHOTO: FOTO: BJRN SIGURDSN / SCANPIX

Haga sitting on the steps of her familys stabbur in happier days. Haga had rented out the stabbur for years, illegally it turns out. When yet another illegal tenant turned up this week, Hagas days were numbered.

PHOTO: SVEIN FURULUND

Haga went on sick leave last weekend after a tough week of having to fend off questions tied to illegal building projects at both her familys summer and permanent homes. Supporters claimed the violations themselves werent major, but they raised questions about her credibility and even hypocrisy in failing to follow regulations that her own party had championed.

Political rival Siv Jensen of the Progress Party said on national TV Wednesday night that Haga had supported her own partys policies publicly and carried out the Progress Partys policies in private.

The recent revelations of building violations came just months after Haga also had to face questions over alleged back-room dealing to win support for a Winter Olympics in Troms and her role in arranging a state consultancy job for a party colleague whod been forced to resign from another state-funded position.

Haga initially tried to fight the growing allegations against her, and resorted to blaming the media for taking issues out of context and invading her familys privacy. At a hastily called press conference Thursday morning, however, Haga seemed to back off from such a defense, claiming she supported the medias right to pose questions and demand answers.

She insisted, however, that she had done nothing that would prevent her from standing up straight, and she was proud of her lengthy career in Norwegian politics. Haga, a long-time member of the farmer-supported Center Party that champions rural interests, has been a member of parliament, a state secretary in the Foreign Ministry, and a cabinet minister in both center-right and center-left government coalitions, for culture, municipal governments and, most recently, oil and energy.

This is a personal decision, she said of her decision to step down, not a political decision. She said that while politicians must adhere to stricter standards than the general public, and she admitted to making mistakes, it was her health that didnt allow her to tolerate the pressures of office any longer. Government ministers need good health and strength, and I dont have that anymore.

Nor did she have the same degree of public confidence she enjoyed earlier. Questions remain as to whether she and her husband paid taxes on the illegal rental income at her home in s, south of Oslo.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said he will name a successor for Haga as Oil & Energy Minister on Friday. Haga, who already had planned to step down as leader of the Center Party, will be initially succeeded by Lars Peder Brekk. Liv Signe Navarsete, currently Norways transport minister, is due to take over as the partys new, permanent leader.

African Press International – API

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Burundi: Cantonment of rebel FNL fighters set to begin

Posted by African Press International on June 19, 2008

Bujumbura (Burundi) – The country’s last active rebel leader, Agathon Rwasa, has declared the end of the armed struggle against the government.

“We want to show the Burundian and international community that we are committed to reaching a lasting peace,” Rwasa said at a ceremony to mark the formal start of the cantonment of his fighters in Rugazi Commune, Bubanza Province, western Burundi, as 150 combatants from his Palipehutu-Forces nationales de libration (FNL) assembled at Rugazi. Others were to assemble at Rukoko in Gihanga Commune.

The launch of the cantonment process was a step that showed the FNL was “committed to moving forward in implementing the ceasefire accord”, he said on 16 June. It was also “a gesture that will, among other things, allow an improvement of security, and people to [perform] their ordinary activities without problems”.

The two locations have been designated by the government as cantonment sites for FNL combatants. However the FNL has said more sites are needed, commensurate with the number combatants, which they say is 15,000. Other sources say they number 3,000.

Without revealing the number of his combatants, Rwasa, who on 30 May returned home from years of exile in Tanzania, said: “What matters is that the war is over.” The number of his fighters that would be reintegrated into other forces, such as Burundi?s army and police, would be discussed with the government, he said.

The launch of the cantonment process was witnessed by members of the Joint Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JVMM) and the Political Directorate, as well as the ambassadors of Tanzania, France, and the African Union, and representatives of the World Food Programme in Burundi, the European Union, and the Burundian government. Rwasa, who was dressed in military uniform, was welcomed by cheering, dancing FNL combatants. Calling on the government to “withdraw its troops from villages” and confine them to barracks, Rwasa said a show of political will was necessary.

“The cease-fire agreement links both sides,” he said, adding that the FNL had, by assembling its combatants signalled it wanted to join the government.

The leader of the government team in the JVMM, Maj Lazare Nduwayo, hailed the FNL for agreeing to prepare for cantonment. “Joining Assembly zones is very important to us,” he said. “The government, too, wants peace.”

The cantonment of FNL combatants is starting after weeks of talks at the JVMM over implementation of the September 2006 ceasefire accord signed with the government of President Pierre Nkurunziza. A former guerrilla leader, Nkurunziza was elected president in 2005 under an agreement brokered by the African Union and the UN. The FNL refused to be part of that pact, but later signed a separate accord. That deal soon stalled, however, and clashes resumed.

In May, it again attacked the suburbs of Bujumbura, leaving 33 people dead and at least 20,000 displaced. Under intense international pressure, however, the group eventually signed a ceasefire agreement on 25 May with the government, paving the way for Rwasa?s return to Bujumbura.

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API#source.UN Regional Information Networks (IRIN)

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Kenya: Starvation stalks the poor

Posted by African Press International on June 19, 2008

Nairobi (Kenya) – Waiyua Mwongeli, a vegetable vendor in Nairobi?s Kibera slum, is yet to understand why her business is doing so badly.

?No one is buying, including my routine customers,? says the 40-year-old. ?Something is wrong, but I don?t know what.? The previous day, she had to throw away a sack of rotten tomatoes. Her fellow vendors are undergoing the same nightmare.

At home, she cooks less food than before for her children, and sometimes her family of five goes hungry. Like other slum dwellers, she no longer eats enough. Once important dietary staples like meat, beans and sugar have suddenly become luxuries.

The sprawling village, with a population of close to 900,000 people, is among the slums in Kenya that are hardest hit by rising food prices. Most people who live on less than a dollar a day are now struggling to survive and the spikes in food prices mean they must eat less or sometimes not at all. Mwongeli?s case is an example of what experts are referring to as the ?new face of hunger,? a situation in which shops and markets have plenty of food, but not enough customers who can pay for it.

Kenyans first saw food prices rise in the wake of the post-election violence that killed 1,200 people early this year, with at least 350,000 others being displaced from their homes. According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, annual inflation had risen to 31.5 per cent last month from 26.6 per cent in April. This is the steepest increase since the early 1990s, when increased spending in the run-up to the 1992 general election put it at 31 per cent.

The current food crisis amounts to a gross violation of human rights and could fuel a global catastrophe, as many of the world?s poorest countries, particularly those in the import-dependency category, struggle to feed their people, warn international development agencies, including ActionAid. ?It is an outrage that poor people are paying for decades of policy mistakes such as the lack of investment in agriculture and the dismantling of support for smallholder farmers,? says Magdalena Kropiwnicka, policy analyst with ActionAid.

This year, the food import bill for developing countries is expected to rise by 40 per cent; in cases such as Burundi, Eritrea and Haiti the impact is catastrophic because of their high reliance on food and fuel imports as well as high existing levels of undernourishment. Many families in these poor countries are already spending well over three-quarters of their income on food. They are unable to cope as prices continue to rise.

As part of its HungerFree campaign, ActionAid is demanding that governments act decisively to address the food crisis. Decisions must be taken that will allow states to act immediately to fund increased social protection and boost the purchasing power of the poor, provide support for farmers, particularly women, and to boost production through access to seeds, water, credit and other inputs. Decisions on longer-term solutions are equally essential, including the need for investment in small scale sustainable agriculture and strategies to increase access to land for small farmers, especially women.

Essentially, world leaders must finance these solutions with bold and serious commitments to increase aid to agriculture, debt relief and trade reforms that will benefit poor import-dependent countries, added Ms Kropiwnicka.

The World Bank, in its report, Global Economic Prospects for 2008 indicates that food prices have risen by 75 per cent since 2000. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, 37 countries are facing a crisis and require external assistance ? 21 of them in Africa, 10 in Asia, five in Latin America and one in Europe.

In 2007, the world?s grains harvest ? 2.1 billion tonnes ? was a new record, 5 per cent more than the previous year. However, only 1.01 billion tonnes of the harvest is likely to be used to feed people. An important proportion will be used to feed animals ?760 million tonnes ? and around 100 million tonnes will be used to produce biofuels. Although there is enough food for everyone, recently there has been a substantial increase in the demand for cereals, led by a growing food demand in Asia as well as demand for biofuels, bringing global reserves to their lowest level in 25 years.

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API#source.East African (Kenya) by Philip Ngunjiri

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Africa at large: Food crisis menaces gains (opinion)

Posted by African Press International on June 19, 2008

The factors behind the global food crisis may be complex, but its effect is simple in its brutality. The worst affected countries are those that need to import agricultural produce, and the hardest hit people are those who spend the largest proportion of their incomes on food.

It is therefore the poorest people in the poorest countries who are feeling the brunt of this catastrophe. The Food and Agriculture Organisation notes that 21 of the 37 counties worst affected by high food prices are in Africa.

Yesterday , the Africa Progress Panel produced its inaugural report on the state of Africa, assessing the state of the continent?s development and identifying the challenges that threaten progress. Chaired by Kofi Annan and including statesmen, development experts and high-profile campaigners, the panel was established to focus world leaders on their commitments to Africa.

The report calls for immediate steps to tackle the food crisis. The food supply must be increased by increasing financial assistance to the governments of affected countries and aid agencies. All countries must make every effort to increase the quantity of food on international markets, so that the World Food Programme, relief organisations and individual governments are able to buy food.

If the scale of the emergency is not acknowledged, or the response is delayed, we will see an increase in hunger and malnutrition. The cost of food will not only be gauged in the wheat or rice price, but also in the rising number of infant and child deaths across Africa.

What gives this call to action added resonance is the fact that Africa has in the past few years been making real, tangible progress. Gross domestic product per capita across Africa has risen steadily since 1994. On the most recent International Monetary Fund estimates, the rate of growth reached 6,6% last year, exceeding the Middle East and Latin America. The number of people living in poverty has levelled off in the past few years, and Africa?s poverty rate has declined almost six percentage points since 2000. There have also been significant improvements in health and education, with infant and child mortality declining in many parts of Africa.

These hard fought gains are now at risk. The panel?s report shows the food crisis threatens to destroy years, if not decades, of economic progress in Africa, as 100-million people could be pushed back into absolute poverty. For me, this is where the real tragedy lies. The very people who have fought against the odds, harnessed their talents to better their lives, and dared hope their children would continue the journey, could see their efforts reduced to nothing.

The panel is thus calling for more than immediate outside aid to alleviate problems of high food prices. As Africans, we must take responsibility for the fundamental, structural problems with agricultural productivity on our continent. With the lowest use of fertilisers in the world, average grain yield in Africa is less than one ton a hectare, equivalent to just 25% of the global average. Our population has increased, yet African agricultural yields have stagnated since the early 1960s.

We must therefore raise agricultural productivity and increase food output. This includes reforming outdated policies and investing in key inputs such as fertiliser, improved seeds, effective management of water and new crop varieties, and linking farmers to markets via investments in basic infrastructure. In short, Africa needs a green revolution.

If the challenge seems daunting, there is some comfort in knowing the expertise and the experience exist. With appropriate technology and support, for example, Malawi has gone from experiencing serious food shortages to becoming both self-reliant and a net exporter of food. The key is to build on this success and replicate it.

It is no coincidence the Africa Progress Panel has published its report just ahead of the European Council summit in Brussels and a few weeks ahead of the Group of Eight (G-8) summit in Hokkaido, Japan. Our report shows G-8 commitments to double assistance to Africa by 2010 ? agreed at Gleneagles in 2005 ? are badly off track. With a shortfall of $40bn in aid, G-8 states must urgently address the deficits against their targets, set clear delivery timetables and increase transparency to improve aid quality. The crisis has put a clear premium on the G-8 delivering its original pledges.

I am conscious that on numerous occasions in the past few decades, it has been said that Africa is at a crossroads. If we agree the continent has demonstrated real progress in the past decade, and we acknowledge that the food crisis threatens to reverse much of this, then we are ? once again ? at a defining moment. European and G-8 leaders should be in no doubt when they gather in Brussels and Hokkaido that they face a very real test of leadership. Millions of people across the world are demanding that they deliver.

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API”Source.Business Day (South Africa) by Graca Machel

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Nigeria: Archbishop criticises government

Posted by African Press International on June 19, 2008

Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos, Anthony Cardinal Okogie, yesterday passed a damning verdict on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led Federal Government.

Okogie, who was disturbed by the state of the nation, declared that the PDP, which has ruled the country since 1999, has proved that it lacks the solutions to Nigeria’s multifarious problems. At a press conference to mark his 72nd birthday, Okogie also put the President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua government on the scale. He attributed its non-performance after one-year in office to lack of vision on how to lead the nation to the economic prosperity and political stability.

He described Yar’Adua as a leader who only “clears and fails to build” on public structures and institutions. Yar’Adua’s problem, he said, was made worse by the presence of incompetent ministers in his cabinet.

Okogie therefore asked the President to overhaul his cabinet by sacking the “dead woods” in the Federal Executive Council.

“From the look of things, it is glaringly clear that the Federal Government has no compass with which to direct and lead the nation aright. The Presidency has not given us the needed leadership since the military returned power to the civilians in 1999. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-controlled Federal Government has not given Nigeria a focused and purposeful leadership. It has been ‘grab, grab’, flamboyance, committing atrocities and bribing its way through the National Assembly to impose its will on the electorate. In short, it has been an administration full of personal aggrandisement, corruption and greed!

“To be a good leader, you must clear and build. Yar’Adua has been clearing and not building, that is where he is lacking. This is probably because he is not getting support from the ministers. He should knock out ministers that are not performing,” he said.

“The seven-point agenda of President Yar’ Adua is already being called to question and described by many as lack of initiative to solve what is on his own agenda. When they are viewed along with performing governors like Babatunde Fashola (SAN) of Lagos State, one would not hesitate to rate him (Yar’Adua) “low and slow. Without any equivocation, Yar’Adua’s scorecard is zero on all his seven-point agenda, because of his failure in his first trumpeted priority, which is power and energy! And he is yet to embark on the others,” he stated.

Okogie said that Nigerian politicians and government officials lacked vision and direction to put the nation on the path of growth. Turning to the legislature, he said: “Our present National Assembly gave us hope of ‘oversight’ functions. Some of their elections are being nullified by the tribunals. How we wish that the tribunals have the power to jail those found guilty! This would have helped a great deal in curbing those who wanted power to enrich themselves.”

He believes that the crime-fighting machinery of the Federal Government is faulty and urged the EFCC and ICPC to scrutinise petitions and reports before arresting and prosecuting suspects.

Okogie praised the judiciary for being the hope of the electorate by serving as a check to the excesses and recklessness of the PDP. He nevertheless enjoined the judiciary “to watch and scrutinise with eagle eyes any petition brought before it so as to continue to stand the test of time. The judiciary must be mindful of the bad eggs within its rank; these should be flushed out to let credibility be its hallmark”. Okogie charged the press to be extra-vigilant and be investigative in their practice by moving away from the traditional roles of informing, educating and entertaining the public.

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API#Source.The Guardian (Nigeria) by Gbenga Salau

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Chad: AU condemns rebel assault

Posted by African Press International on June 19, 2008

Amid raging hostilities near the north-eastern town of Biltine, some 750 kilometres (470 miles) from the capital N’djamena, the African Union (AU) has condemned the rebel offensive, even as the government in N’djamena dismissed the insurgents’ threats to take the capital as nothing more than a “stunt.”

“The African Union is particularly concerned by the resumption since June 11 of clashes between rebel Chad groups and the Chad army in the eastern Chad,” the Pan-African body said in a statement. “These new developments seriously endanger current efforts aiming to revive the process of dialogue in Chad and to promote peace and stability in the region,” it added. The statement followed the seizure by Chadian rebels on Sunday of a second town, Am Dam, as they headed west towards their stated objective, the capital.

Chadian authorities confirmed that Am Dam had fallen to the rebels but said the move was not significant. “The rebels are effectively in Am Dam but it’s a locality where there is neither a garrison nor troops deployed,” said a Chadian military source on Sunday.

Chad’s Minister of Communications, Mahamat Hissene, said the government was still in control of the situation. “We are serene. The army is deploying its plan,” Agence France Presse (AFP) quoted the minister as saying.

Am Dam was taken by the rebels “without much resistance” from government forces, said their spokesman — a day after they also briefly occupied Goz Beida, closer to the Sudan border.

“Our objective is not to take towns but to clear obstacles on the road to N’djamena,” Ali Gueddei, the spokesman for the National Alliance grouping of rebel factions, said. “We are not occupying them. Our objective is Ndjamena,” he added.

France, meanwhile, said it did not intend to intervene. The former colonial power “has not intervened and will not intervene,” said French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner on Sunday, adding that the claims about the rebels’ progress towards the capital had been denied by EUFOR forces.

Mahamat Nouri, who leads the National Alliance uniting several rebel factions, however, said that their forces were still on the move and that the capital remained their ultimate objective. Nouri refused to set a date on the attempt to topple Chad’s President Idriss Deby Itno, saying only it would be “in the short term.”

Fighting near Goz Beida on Saturday saw Irish members of the European Union force (EUFOR) protecting Sudanese refugees exchange fire with unidentified gunmen. There were no apparent casualties. There are nearly 80,000 displaced Chadians and some 36,000 refugees from neighbouring Sudan’s war-battered Darfur region living in camps around Goz Beida. Staff with German and Italian aid agencies in the area said that their supplies had been pillaged, with vehicles stolen and a garage set ablaze in the attacks Saturday night.

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API#Source.The Guardian (Nigeria)

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Congo DRC: Rebel leader refuses to hand over ICC indicted deputy.

Posted by African Press International on June 19, 2008

Masisi (North Kivu Province, Congo DRC): Renegade Congolese general Laurent Nkunda, leader of National Congress for the Defence of the People, CNDP, has told IWPR that he won?t hand over his chief of staff, Bosco Ntaganda, despite an International Criminal Court, ICC, warrant for his arrest.

?The extradition of Congolese to the International Criminal Court is an indignity,? said Nkunda. ?I wish Ntaganda could be judged in Ituri rather than The Hague.? Nkunda spoke to IWPR at a farm in Kirolirwe, about 60 kilometres west of Goma, one of several of his homes in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC. There is ?no chance [I will] hand over Bosco Ntaganda to ICC?, he said.

Nkunda said he was not sure of the precise crimes that Ntaganda has been charged with, and questioned the adequacy of the ICC?s investigation. ?I request the ICC to furnish us [with] evidence on the involvement of [Ntaganda] in the crimes in Ituri,? said Nkunda. ?I?m waiting for an ICC delegation here for that purpose.?

Nkunda said that before he would cooperate with the ICC with his chief of staff, he would need to verify the accuracy of the evidence again Ntaganda. ?I personally have to verify [the] evidence in Ituri and not in The Hague,? he said.

An international arrest warrant was issued against Ntaganda by the ICC in April 2008 for crimes he allegedly committed between 2002 and 2003 in Ituri. Four others from the region have been arrested on ICC warrants ? only Ntaganda remains at large. Despite the indictments and an on-going investigation by the ICC in eastern DRC, little has changed and it appears no efforts are being made to arrest Ntaganda.

Nkunda and his CNDP, a political and military organisation which controls a large area in North Kivu, meanwhile, have on the whole cooperated with a wide-ranging peace agreement among militias that was signed in January in Goma, the capital of North Kivu. Although units of Nkunda?s army have reportedly clashed with Rwandese Hutu militia fighters of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, FDLR, who also operate in the region.

Ntaganga is currently in command of Nkunda?s troops, a position he has held for two years. Ntaganda is known to be in the area, but Nkunda did not reveal his exact location. Nkunda believes that his commander has been unfairly selected for prosecution, even though many others, including some high-ranking government officials, have also been implicated in atrocities committed in the region and not been charged. ?Those who committed crimes in Ituri are in power,? he said.

Nkunda explained that in 2003, Ntaganda was deputy commander of the Union of Congolese Patriots, UPC, a militia headed by Thomas Lubanga, who currently faces a trial at the ICC. At the time, Ntaganda took orders from General Floribert Kisembo, who was Lubanga?s chief of staff. Kisemba is now a top commander of the DRC army in Maniema province.

?The arrest warrant should target authorities in the government and the army before involving Bosco Ntaganda,? said Louis Hamuli, a political representative of Nkunda?s organisation. ?People should know that those who committed killings in Ituri are well [known]. Most of them were appointed [to] high positions.?

Nkunda insists that Ntaganda is a ?small fish? and argues that as he?s ?neither a partner of the Rome Statute nor a member of the ICC?, he has no obligation to cooperate.

But the ICC spokesman in the DRC, Paul Madidi, said Nkunda should cooperate. ?If the CNDP thinks that Ntaganda did not commit any crime, it has to hand him over to ICC. This court will give Bosco Ntaganda an opportunity to defend himself or with the help of a lawyer who will be provided to him,? Madidi told IWPR.

According to the Rome Statute, the government is obligated to cooperate with the ICC in the arrest of presumed criminals. Although the DRC has arrested ICC suspects in the past, this appears unlikely to happen with Ntaganda, however, because he is in the area firmly controlled by Nkunda.

United Nations forces in the area, MONUC, however, have expressed willingness to help. But the threat of UN involvement in the arrest does not concern officials in the CNDP.

?MONUC has attacked us [along with] the governmental forces [before],? said a CNDP officer, who preferred not to give his name. ?If (MONUC) dares arrest [Ntaganda], it will [face] us.?

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API#Source.Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), by Jacques Kahorha

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Mozambique: Miners face discrimination

Posted by African Press International on June 19, 2008

Maputo (Mozambique) – The bulk of Mozambican miners working in SA and who are HIV-positive are not protected by law against discrimination, a representative of a Mozambican employers’ association against Aids said in an interview on Monday.

Irene Afonso, communications officer of the Mozambican Employers’Association against Aids, said the situation had resulted in a lot of Mozambican miners who were infected with the HIV virus to be discriminated against by their employers.

“There is an agreement between the governments of Mozambique and SA, signed in 1988, on the contracting of the workers but in the clauses it does not mention issues regarding the health of the miners,” she told Sapa in an interview on the margins of a four day national Aids conference in Maputo.

Afonso said while miners were contracted to work on the mines for periods of up to 12 months before they could go on a month long leave period, there was no legal instrument in their contract to facilitate the visit of their wives of partners.

“It is during this period that miners engage in promiscuous relationships, putting them at risk of getting infected with HIV,” she said.

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API#Source.South African Press Association (Sapa)

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South Africa: ?State is dragging its feet?

Posted by African Press International on June 19, 2008

The intended reintegration of foreign nationals into the communities ? which was supposed to be concluded within a month ? might not happen soon.

A study conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) to investigate the underlying causes of the attacks has found that the government has failed to engage with communities about their grievances.
The report says the attacks should have been predicted because of the country?s long track record in using violence as a means of protest.

?Every time there are protests in the communities violence is used,? the report says. ?It has become a disease.? ?If government does not engage with the sentiment expressed by ordinary residents that foreign nationals should leave the country, the risk is that these feelings of alienation between the government and South African citizens will deepen and the possibility of successful reintegration … will be diminished.?

The government had given displaced foreign nationals two months to reintegrate into their communities or return to their countries following the xenophobic attacks a month ago.

The role of the government, immigrant influx , the impact of migrants on gender dynamics, the pace of housing policy, the politics of economic livelihoods and the competition for resources are identified as being critical to the emergence of tensions.

The HSRC has invited Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya to receive the report.

He said: ?We did not do enough in educating the masses about the help we received from African countries during the apartheid era. ?History should not be treated as a minority in schools. Children should be taught about who they are and where they come from and about other countries.?

The HSRC recommends that a national summit on foreign nationals and immigrants be held, that local community forums on migration be formed, that an audit of RDP houses and the development of policies be conducted, that there should be border control and that the government must deal with corruption at the Department of Home Affairs, local government and the South African Police Service.

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API#Source.The Sowetan (South Africa)

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South Africa: Crime wave amid soaring petrol prices

Posted by African Press International on June 19, 2008

Petrol stations are seeing an increase in theft due to skyrocketing fuel prices, and in many instances stolen licence plates are being used, says Peter Noke, director of the SA Petroleum Industry Association.

Loading up on petrol and fleeing the station without paying has soared in the past couple of months. Perpetrators have made it more difficult for authorities to take criminal action because they are using undocumented or stolen licence plates when refilling their fuel tanks.

According to Noke, a petrol station in Pretoria had R 2 570 worth of fuel stolen on Wednesday. Beeld reported the crime and included a picture of the thief, sparking a series of responses from previously robbed petrol stations. Noke said an Engen petrol station employee recognised the thief’s picture as that of a man who had stolen fuel from his business in April.

A car without licence plates had pulled into a Groenkloof, Pretoria, station in April and parked at the last pump. The driver had asked the petrol attendant to fill tanks in the back of his car while he filled his own vehicle. The thief had then told the attendant to get him oil, but when the attendant returned the car was gone.

Noke says stories like these are becoming more and more common. “Fuel prices are at an all-time high. People are doing everything they can to survive. Tricking petrol stations is just another way to combat the high prices. It’s something that petrol stations and the police need to work on together.”

Authorities advise petrol stations to be wary of cars without licence plates. They also caution drivers to keep a keen eye on their own plates; thieves can easily escape undetected under the guise of someone else’s licence plate number.
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API#Source.Cape Argus (South Africa). by Chelsea Laun

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Uganda: Police should protect, not impede liberties (opinion)

Posted by African Press International on June 19, 2008

The recent Constitutional Court ruling on the role of the police force in organised public assemblies and demonstrations has attracted mixed reactions and varying interpretations from the public.

Various interested parties have made differing interpretations presumably to suit their competing agendas. Sections of the society have the misconception that the court ruling generally rendered the broad functions and role of the police in maintaining public order and peace redundant. As a result, both the public and the leadership of the police force are at loggerheads over whether the police have any role left in policing public assemblies and peaceful demonstrations.

This misunderstanding can also best explain the events of last week when opposition members of Parliament walked out of the Budget presentation session in protest of police brutality.

The MPs? action was justifiable given the manner in which highhanded police officers bundled two female legislators in a very indecent manner. From press reports and television images, surely the police officers involved in the fracas with the MPs acted unprofessionally. The Constitution Court specifically examined the powers of the police under section 32 (2) of the Police Act which hitherto, allowed the Inspector General of Police to prohibit (stop) the convening of public assembly or processions.

The petitioner in the case expressed worry that the police was becoming increasingly partisan by blocking the political activities of political opposition parties. The petitioners argued that the unfettered discretion on the part of the police contravened the freedoms of equality, expression , movement and assembly. On the other hand, the Attorney General argued that the police powers as provided for under Article 212 of the Constitution read together with Article 43 allowed for restrictions on the enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms in public interest.

Court rejected the AG?s arguments because Article 20 of the Constitution provides that fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual are inherent and not granted by the State. And that the rights and freedoms of the individual and groups shall be respected, upheld and promoted by all organs and agencies of the government and by all persons.

The court noted that for the police to evoke Article 43 to limit individual freedoms, the grounds for such limitations must be sufficiently important and they should not be arbitrary, unfair or based on irrational considerations. The court also noted that a society, especially a democratic one, should be able to tolerate a good deal of annoyance or disorder so as to encourage the greatest possible freedom of expression , particularly political expression.

So, did the Constitutional Court ruling bar the police from exercising their duties to maintain order at public rallies and during demonstrations? No. In fact, the court noted that the right to a peaceful protest is not absolute. The police have a wide range of powers to control and restrict the actions of protesters.

But the court stated that the police?s powers should not be exercised in an unaccountable and discriminatory manner. In a nutshell, the meaning of the ruling is that the police?s powers should be regulatory but not prohibitive. This same notion is captured in international legal instruments that govern civil policing. In a democracy, the police should serve to protect and not impede civil liberties.

The police should work to create an enabling environment where civil liberties can be realised. Use of excessive force to a degree that police officers can attempt to ?lift? a female MP?s skirt is deplorable. However, the police-MPs fracas also exposed the lopsidedness of our Parliament in dealing with the problem of brutality of our armed forces. Parliament should not wait for their own to suffer the excesses of the police and other related abuses by the State before it acts. The last thing Ugandans want to see is a violent police force.

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API#Source.The Monitor (Uganda) by Moses SSerwanga

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