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Archive for July 16th, 2008

Mali, Algeria military experts meet in Bamako

Posted by African Press International on July 16, 2008

Malian and Algerian military experts Tuesday began a technical meeting in Bamako to strengthen cooperation between the two armies toward eradicating criminality along their common border, APA has learnt.

The three-day gathering is expected to revive the bilateral military and technical cooperation sealed in December 2001 and identify “tangible actions” to fight terrorism, a Malian source confirmed.

Mali and Algeria share a thousand-km border, which has become the den of many armed groups.

While the Malian government is faced with Tuareg rebels in the northern part of the country bordering on Algeria, Algerian authorities are fighting the Salafist Group for Preach and Combat, which declared allegiance to Al Qaeda in September 2006.

The Bamako meeting comes on the eve of a gathering billed for Wednesday between Malian government representatives and the Tuareg rebels belonging to the 23 May Alliance.

Discussions will be held under the auspices of the Algerian facilitator who sponsored the peace accord signed on 4 July 2006 between the Malian government and the Tuareg rebels, a well-informed source close to the negotiations said.

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API/APA

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House team rejects ethnic relations Bill – The bill could be misused by the government to pin down opponents

Posted by African Press International on July 16, 2008

Story by OWINO OPONDO

A parliamentary committee has rejected the legislation proposing the creation of a commission on ethnic and racial discrimination.

Internal refugees celebrate the move to resettle them in their homes. Photo/JARED NYATAYA

Members of the Administration of Justice and Legal Affairs Committee scrutinised the National Ethnic and Race Relations Commission Bill, who were meeting in Mombasa last weekend, said it was faulty.

They agreed it had numerous flaws that should be fixed and proposed that it be returned to the originator Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs minister Martha Karua for amendment.

MPs divided

Parliament had debated the Bill for two days and it was clear that MPs were divided over it. Some MPs welcomed the proposed law, saying the public had failed to frown on ethnic and racial discrimination, and that it was time to have a law in place to punish perpetrators of ethnic disharmony.

However, several members dismissed the Bill, arguing that the Government could misuse the proposed commission to witch-hunt those it deemed to be its enemies.

The Bill has its origin in the Serena Hotel deliberations of the National Dialogue and Reconciliation Committee, formed after the post-election political crisis. The committee felt that it was important to start the fight against ethnic and race discrimination.

The proposed law states that Kenya has realised that equal access to various opportunities without ethnic discrimination was a prerequisite for cultivating goodwill, lasting peace and co-existence among its various communities.

The Bill includes in its definition of ethnic relations racial, religious, tribal and cultural interactions, and provides for the commission to ensure individuals or groups dont misuse such important facets of life.

Relevant committee

If enacted, the commission shall have 12 members, comprising a chairperson appointed by the President from among 15 nominees cleared by the relevant committee of Parliament.

Of these, eight shall be commissioners, while three shall be ex-officio members the chairpersons of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, the National Commission on Gender and Development and the Public Complaints Standing Committee (Ombudsman).

Members of the Legal Affairs committee who spoke to the Nation, but asked not to be named, said they realised a number of provisions in the Bill were weak. Committee meetings are held in camera.

Maybe those at Serena were emotional because of the violence that was taking place then, the committee member said.

Supporting the move by the MPs, Centre for Governance and Development executive director Kennedy Masime said racial and ethnic discrimination dont have to be addressed by a commission.

The Bill of Rights defines human rights, while section 82 of the Constitution criminalises all forms of discrimination based on tribe, ethnicity, creed or religion, said Mr Masime.

The CGD boss said that what the Bill wanted to do was already within the mandate of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights Act (2002).

Among other things, the KNCHR defines human rights as fundamental rights and freedoms of any individual protected under the Constitution and any human rights provided for in any international instrument to which Kenya is a signatory.

Public coffers

Mr Masime warned Parliament against legislating the formation of so many commissions to the extent of straining the public coffers.

Meanwhile, the parliamentary committee on Administration of Justice and Legal Affairs is this Thursday expected to interview applicants hoping to replace Mr Maina Kiai as KNCHR commissioner.

Mr Kiai whose term as chairman of the commission has ended did not wish to extend his stay. He has been replaced by Ms Florence Jaoko.

Sources said the committee went through a list of 203 applicants and shortlisted 20 for the Thursday interview. Three of the names that qualify will then be taken to Parliament for nomination before they are finally forwarded to the President who will appoint one.

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API/Nation.ke

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Posted by African Press International on July 16, 2008

Mrs. Esther John Audu (Nigeria High Commission)

The new Nigerian High Commissioner to The Gambia Mrs. Esther John Audu has expressed her confidence that the long standing relationship between the Gambia and Nigeria has been sustained by successive governments.

Speaking on the occasion of her inaugural diplomatic reception on Friday at her residence, High Commissioner John Audu said the Gambia and Nigeria have maintained close socio-political, economic, military, bilateral and multilateral relationship that dates back to pre-independence.

She said that this has now been extended to the area of legal assistance, education and health sectors.

It is heartening to note that Nigeria enjoys not only the support and co-operation of all members of the diplomatic corps here in the Gambia but also that of the government officials and a cross section of the Gambian society, she said.

My principle responsibility here in the Gambia is to project the right image for Nigeria consistent with her size, status and importance on the African continent and in the world including the consolidation of Nigerias leadership role and position in ECOWAS and indeed the AU.

Promoting the welfare of Nigerian nationals and protecting their interests as well as rendering appropriate consular services to them. Upholding the dignity of Nigerians and ensuring that proper and fair treatment is meted to all Nigerians at all times. In this regard, the principle of reciprocity will be adhered to, she noted.

She further expressed her determination to explore new areas of co-operation between the Gambia and Nigeria with a view to further strengthening the bilateral ties.

Our Gambian brothers will continue to receive the support of our government, through technical aid assistance in the fields of education, health and judicial sectors. I will be fully for co-operation in any endeavours to improve the lot of our Gambian brothers, at all levels, especially at grassroots level, and will also learn from many of the already laudable achievements recorded here by my predecessor, she asserted

By Mohammed Legally-Cole

African Press International – api

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GPU Calls for the immediate release of Journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh

Posted by African Press International on July 16, 2008

Ndey Tafa (President of GPU)

Following the one-year-long trial between The Government of The Gambia and in the Media Foundation for West Africa, the Executive of the Gambia Press Union (GPU) had issued a press release calling on the Government of The Gambia to honour the decision of the Ecowas Court.

The media fraternity of The Gambia (GPU) held a meeting with the Speaker of the National Assembly on 1st July 2008, the Executive of the Gambia Press Union calls for the immediate release of Chief Ebrima Manneh and to honour the ECOWAS courts decision, according to the release, followed the failure of the Gambia government to honour the notices from the court and the non-appearance of five security officials after being summoned.

A full unedited text of the release is reproduced as follows:

Today, June 7th, 2008 marks two years since the disappearance of Chief Ebrima Manneh, a journalist at the Daily Observer Newspaper. Despite several efforts by the Gambia Press Union, the media establishments and family members to trace his whereabouts the end of his disappearance is still not in sight. The Media Foundation for West Africa eventually took up the matter for his release before the ECOWAS Court.
Following a year long protracted court case in which the Government of The Gambia was served many notices and five security officials subpoenaed to appear before the courts, Chief Manneh continued to languish in detention without any attempt by the state to conduct any investigation or appear before the ECOWAS Court to clear any doubts.
Relying on uncontroversial testimonies given by witnesses, the ECOWAS Court maintains that in July 2006, Chief Ebrima Manneh was picked up by plain clothes security officials at his place of work, at Daily Observer.

Today, as everyday, the Gambia Press Union wishes to call the attention of the government in particular and the public at large, to the decisions of the court. We take this opportunity to call on the State to heed to the order of the ECOWAS Court has ordered for his immediate release and has awarded him compensation amounting to US$100,000. Such actions will pave the way for an end to impunity and the restoration of public confidences especially of the private media.

We wish to point out that democracy cannot prevail and development remains unattainable without the participation of an independent, free and pluralistic press. The media has a crucial role to play in the good governance of democratic societies, by ensuring transparency and accountability, promoting participation and the rule of law, and contributing to the fight against poverty.

The media, as a partner in development can bring about behaviour change and social mobilisation for effective and sustainable development through the dissemination of infom1ation that is crucial for the life and development of communities.

It could be recalled that Chief Ebrima Manneh until, the time of his disappearance, was a senior reporter at the Daily Observer Newspaper. In July 2007 the Media Foundation for West Africa sought legal redress through the ECOWAS court and on 5 June 2008 the Court ordered for his immediate release and his compensation with a sum of 100,000 dollars.

By Mohammed Legally-Cole

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Published by African Press International – API

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Condom for goats in use – Kenya

Posted by African Press International on July 16, 2008

PHOTO BY MAXWELL AGWANDA
As recent reports indicate that humans worldwide are slackening birth control, it is encouraging to note that the practice is picking up among goats and sheep in Kenya.
This picture is of an anti-mating device that is causing quite a stir in Kajiado District. The gadget, known locally as olor, is fitted as an alternative to inhumane castration. The plastic plate makes it impossible for the male to mount females.
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API/Standard.ke

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Sudanese ambassador slams ICC position on Darfur crisis

Posted by African Press International on July 16, 2008

The Sudanese ambassador to Egypt Abdel Moneim Mabrook on Sunday confirmed his countrys refusal to abide by the decision of the International Criminal Court to bring war crime charges against senior Sudanese officials implicated in crimes committed in Darfur.

Mabrook pointed out that this new attitude of the ICC confirms claims by the Sudanese authorities that the court has a political agenda.

The Sudanese ambassador told reporters in Cairo that his country has a clear position on the court, while he said Sudan has neither signed nor ratified the convention on the establishment of the court, which he accused of having a double-standard policy.

Ambassador Mabrook appealed to Arab states and Islamic countries to address this dangerous trend which he said will have serious repercussions on the countries of the Arab and Islamic world, as well as threaten the security and peace in these countries.

The ambassador said Sudan has requested for the Arab states to hold an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers to discuss new developments and the current situation in Sudan in the light of the threats directed at Sudan.

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API/APA

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Posted by African Press International on July 16, 2008

The Egyptian Shoura Council (upper legislative chamber) on Sunday called on the Iranian authorities to prevent the screening of the film; “Execution of a Pharaoh”, which depicts the assassination of former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat.

In a statement issued in Cairo, the Council accused some Iranian circles of committing irresponsible acts towards other countries in the region, interfering in their internal affairs, disseminating provocative statements in every direction, raising outdated issues of history and insulting the memory of the martyrs of the homeland under the pretext of heroism and treason.

The Council stressed that the claims that the statements in the film did not represent the official position of Iran cannot be easily accepted since there is always confusion between the formal and informal positions in Tehran.

It added that Iran has nothing to be proud of in the area of freedom of expression, which would suggests that this film is out of government control.

The statement indicated that Iran has not stopped at any time of prejudice on the memory of President Sadat, the hero of war and peace.

The Council asked the Egyptian Foreign ministry to continue its efforts, contacts and moves to address the crisis at all levels to deal with the film, which it said insulted the Egyptian people, and their values and symbols.

The statement added that the entire Iranian conduct recently raises suspicions about Irans intentions towards the region, which may lead to escalation of tension, which it said nobody can afford.

The Council further said that the Iranian film contradicts the teachings of Islam, and the values and norms of diplomacy, good-neighbourliness and Irans efforts to deepen its regional and Islamic ties and restore normal relations with Egypt.

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API/APA

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An American Pastime: Smoking Pot – Health hazard?

Posted by African Press International on July 16, 2008

The Netherlands, with its permissive marijuana laws, may be known as the cannabis capital of the world. But a survey published this month in PLoS Medicine, a journal of the Public Library of Science, suggests that the Dutch don’t actually experiment with pot as much as one would expect. Despite tougher drug policies in this country, Americans were twice as likely to have tried marijuana than the Dutch, according to the survey. In fact, Americans were more likely to have tried marijuana or cocaine than people in any of the 16 other countries, including France, Spain, South Africa, Mexico and Colombia, that the survey covered.

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Researchers found that 42% of people surveyed in the United States had tried marijuana at least once, and 16% had tried cocaine. About 20% of residents surveyed in the Netherlands, by contrast, reported having tried pot; in Asian countries, such as Japan and China, marijuana use was virtually “non-existent,” the study found. New Zealand was the only other country to claim roughly the same percentage of pot smokers as the U.S., but no other nation came close to the proportion of Americans who reported trying cocaine.

Why the high numbers? Jim Anthony, the chair of the department of epidemiology at Michigan State University and an author of the study, says U.S. drug habits have to do, in part, with the country’s affluence many Americans can afford to spend income on recreational drugs. Another factor may be an increasing awareness that marijuana may be less toxic than other drugs, such as tobacco or alcohol. (However, the study also found that the United States is among the leading countries in the percentage of respondents who tried tobacco and alcohol). As for the popularity of cocaine, the reason may simply be the close proximity of South America, the world’s only coca plant producer. And, finally, Anthony notes, it’s a matter of culture: the U.S. is home to a huge baby boomer population that came of age when experimenting with drugs was a part of the social fabric. “It became a more mass population phenomenon during a period when there were a large number of young people who were in the process of creating a culture of their own,” Anthony says.

The survey also found that more Americans not only experimented with drugs, but also tended to try pot and cocaine for the first time at a younger age compared with people in other countries. Just over 20% of Americans reported trying pot by age 15 and nearly 3% had tried cocaine by the same age. Those percentages jumped to 54% and 16%, respectively, by age 21. That finding isn’t surprising, says Dr. Richard Schottenfeld, a professor of psychiatry and a drug expert at the Yale University School of Medicine, since peer influence has a significant impact on the prevalence of drug use. In the Netherlands, for example, there is a large, vocal and homogeneous conservative population that is staunchly opposed to marijuana, says Schottenfeld. And anti-drug activists have made recent attempts to tighten the country’s cannabis policies.

Yet experts say the findings of the new survey don’t fairly reflect the success or failure of any particular drug policy. The survey asked only whether people had ever tried drugs in their lifetimeit did not ask about habitual use. “For drug policy, what you look at is regular use,” says Tom Riley, a spokesman for the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy. “Somebody having tried pot in 1968 in college doesn’t really have much to do with what the current drug use picture in the United States is.”

Though current findings may not provide enough context to judge existing drug policy, Anthony says they do highlight some valid issues, especially since stringent laws don’t appear to impact whether kids experiment with drugs. “One of the questions raised by research of this type is whether Americans will want to continue supporting the incarceration of young people who use small amounts of marijuana,” Anthony says.

The ongoing study, which surveyed more than 85,000 people in 17 countries, is part of a larger project through the World Health Organization’s World Mental Health Survey Initiative. Anthony says further research about the frequency of worldwide drug use, and new data from additional countries will be released in the future.

A man rolls a marijuana cigarette
A man rolls a marijuana cigarette
Justin Sullivan / Getty

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API/Time.US

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They want to remove Kenyatta – Is it Opposition witchhunting with intent to destroy Kenyatta?

Posted by African Press International on July 16, 2008

After Kimunya’s removal by parliament, now they are on Uhuru Kenyatta’s neck. Who will be next after him? This is not serious politics when parliamentarians censure their colleagues every time they discover a light mistake. However, putting them on their toes so that they do not forget to serve the public who elected them is a good thing, the question is how to do it.Leaders should not be left to be drunk with power instead of being responsible and doing what they are elected to do. They must be made answerable and we believe there are other ways than asking them to step down. Soon, Kenya will have ministers stepping down every week. May be that will not become a big problem because the country has a huge government totalling over ninenty ministers and assistant ministers, the largest in whole world. (API)

Uhuru Kenyatta in a storm

Another mist is swirling in the air as Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta begins what could be a very difficult week.

The Gatundu South MP and Trade minister is the third minister in the Grand Coalition Cabinet to be sucked into controversy in as many weeks.

There were signs last night that fresh rifts could open up in the Grand Coalition Government.

The controversy appeared to open up the fragile divide within the coalition, with some MPs reading witch-hunt in the Uhuru saga and others seeing it as an opportunity to harvest another big scalp.

Mr Amos Kimunya, the disgraced Finance minister, will shortly be under investigation, while Mr Otieno Kajwang’, who holds the Immigration and Registration of Persons docket, had a close shave last week. He isn’t quite out of the woods yet.

Questionable decision

Like Kajwang, discretion has landed Uhuru in trouble. The accusation is that he substituted a list of political parties’ civic nominees forwarded to him by the ECK with one of his own.

He is alleged to have done this during his brief stint at Jogoo House when he served as Local Government Minister in President Kibaki’s half Cabinet.

Kibaki had picked a half Cabinet of 17 members to steer the country as international mediators searched for a political settlement out of a crippling post-election impasse.

Mr Musalia Mudavadi, who took over at Local Government after a political settlement was reached and a 42-member Grand Coalition Cabinet picked, detected Uhuru’s alleged “impropriety”. Mudavadi is Uhuru’s opposite number as deputy PM.

On Monday, six MPs from parts of the Rift Valley called for a vote of no confidence in Uhuru. They were Mr Joshua Kutuny (Cherangany), Mr William Cheptumo (Baringo North), Mr Lucas Kigen (Rongai), Mr Moses Lessonet (Eldama Ravine), Mr Lee Kinyanjui (Nakuru Town), and Mr Nelson Gaichuhie (Subukia).

Tourism Minister Najib Balala boldly called for Uhuru’s investigation, saying: “One can make an innocent mistake and be forgiven. The irregular nomination of councillors was an intentional mistake, which must be investigated and appropriate action taken.”

Balala also cautioned Musalia against being compromised over the matter.

The verdict of Mandera East MP, Mr Mohamed Hussein Ali, was: “Uhuru rubbished our laws and advice from ECK. He should go”.

However, Malindi MP, Mr Gedion Mungaro, said the Local Government Act provides for such power and the holder of the docket can appoint up to one third of civic leaders on the nomination slate.

“If it is ascertained that Uhuru overstepped his mandate, then degazettement should be automatic,” Mungaro said.

But Mr Gonzi Rai, an Assistant minister for Lands, said Uhuru acted within the law when he approved the list of new civic nominees.

Double standards

And four central Kenya MPs joined the fray with a warning against what they described as “double standards” by legislators calling for investigation into the activities of Uhuru and Kajwang.

Assistant minister Mwangi Kiunjuri and MPs Ephraim Maina, Emilio Kathuri and Alex Muiru said legislators should avoid dragging party politics into the fight against corruption.

The MPs said the clamour to have Uhuru and Kajwang investigated for alleged abuse of office should not be politicized.

Kiunjuri said MPs who have claimed the position

of official opposition in Parliament must avoid applying double standards in their call for investigation of Cabinet ministers.

“We already have an opposition in Parliament and its members should not appear to apply double standards,” said Kiunjuri.

The assistant minister added: “In the same way that the opposition members and ultimately Parliament acted decisively on Kimunya, so should they act on Kajwang. We should not apply double standards in the matter.”

Kajwang, the Mbita MP and a minister in the ODM wing of the Grand Coalition Government, used his discretion to award work permits to foreigners. While doing this, the minister overruled his technical team’the PS and Director of Immigration Services.

Questions were raised over the number of permit seekers that could have benefited from his orders and the frequency with which the minister may have issued such orders.

Meanwhile, Dr Bonny Khalwale, the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, dismissed calls of a censure Motion against Uhuru as demanded by fellow opposition MP Ababu Namwamba (Budalangi) even as more MPs joined the debate.

Khalwale, who moved the censure motion that floored Kimunya, said Uhuru’s action did not amount to corruption.

Mr Ekwe Ethuro (Turkana Central) and Mr Bifwoli Wakoli (Bumula) also argued against a censure Motion.

“Parliament should not be in a hurry to spill blood every time. The relevant parliamentary committee should interrogate the matter,” said Ethuro, urging Mudavadi to instead correct any anomalies in the nomination.

Elsewhere, Assistant minister Sospeter Ojaamong’ and Emuhaya MP Wilbur Ottichilo warned MPs against malice.

They spoke a day after Namwamba called for investigation into Uhuru’s decision on nomination of councillors.

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API/Standard.ke

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AU criticized killing aid workers

Posted by African Press International on July 16, 2008

Posted by Yusuf Haji Hussein, API staff writer in Mogadishu, Somalia.

Mogadishu, Somalia (API) –African Union special representative to Somalia, Nicolas Bwakiri held press conference in Mogadishu airport on Monday after two days of visiting to Mogadishu, the capital.

Bwakiri the representative, declared the main objectives he came to Mogadishu were to consult with the government official something related the policy, security and humanitarian crises. He told the reporters that he met Abdillahi Yusuf Ahmed, Somali president and Salim Aliow Ibrow the acting PM..

I came to consult with the government for the political, security and humanitarian crises. I also came to reaffirm to support a commitment of African to the government of Somalia for intermediation of the recent agreement which was incurred in the Djibouti last month said Nicolas Bwirkk the AU representative to Somalia during the press conference.

The Bwirki also condemned the killings which is targeting to the aid workers, He pointed that it is a foolish action.

To kill and to destroy is easy but to build is very difficulty he expressed in the press conference.

African Union peacekeepers promised to send in Somalia 8000 peace keepers , but so far 1 600 Ugandan soldiers and 800 Burundian troops are operating in defined area of Mogadishu like the airport and the presidential palace.

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API

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Posted by African Press International on July 16, 2008

BY JEFF OTIENO IN KISUMU

Some clique of Luo professionals working and residing in Nairobi are molesting and harassing clients in a city pub ( KUCHE KUCHE ) situated in the precincts of Nyayo National stadium Nairobi with glee.

Following persistent complaints from regular clients of that joint this Journalist decided to sojourn there to unearth the aggression of the chest thumping clique most of them Lecturers, Consultants, Insurance Executives with traces of marital glitches.

Inside the main tent theres an exclusive table preserved for these clique of chest thumpers. Interestingly, the zone housing about four tables have no reservation indicators to may be restrain or direct first timers who could be nursing interests to sit in the exclusive area.

In a view to provoke the tormenting cartel, in the company of other two colleagues this Journalist decided to go there a little bit early and sat deliberately in the exclusive zone.

A waiter who seems to be working in conduit with the elitists group came to us running and on reaching just ordered us to stand up and go to where we belong.

You dont belong here stand up and go to another table, she thundered without even having the decorum to even welcome us as their clients.

We stood our ground to the chagrin of the bragging group who had come and had sat in the next table (zone) where they feel they dont belong.

We could see them arguing who we were. A bid by another waiter who is part of the clique to make us bow to their demands was thwarted by a level headed bouncer who adviced them otherwise.

Sources confided to this scribe that the said cartel have no grass root structures in their rural homes and they hardly frequent. Though they are said to be proud owners of state of the art homes in the heart of the capital.

END

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API

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