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Archive for August, 2008

A Leopard disciplines two people in Kenya mercilessly – forcing them to be hospitalised

Posted by African Press International on August 31, 2008

Rogue leopard injures five in Kitui

Written By:Rose Kamau

Two people are admitted at the Kitui District Hospital while three others were treated and discharged following an attack by a leopard in Nthongoni area, Yatta division.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) personnel led by area District Warden Joseph Kavi track in Kened and killed the leopard that had strayed from the Tsavo East National Park.

Kavi said that the leopard could not be caged and returned to the park because it had sustained injuries during the confrontation with the residents.

The game warden said the animal might have strayed from the park awhile ago as area residents had reported the mysterious disappearance of their domestic animals.

“Area residents had reported about mysterious disappearance of goats and the cat attacked two people on Wednesday when they traced its whereabouts,” said Kavi.

On Thursday during a confrontation with the residents, the leopard attacked three people but it sustained panga cuts in the head and had an arrow lodged in its stomach.

Separately, Kavi said that two among three elephants that had escaped from the park to Kasaala area in Mutomo district have been returned to the park.

“We are still making efforts to track down the remaining rogue elephant and return it back to its habitat to avoid conflict with residents,” said the warden.

He said that the people attacked by the leopard and other wild animals would be compensated by the KWS.

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API/Source.apa

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Minister Karua warns party colleagues

Posted by African Press International on August 31, 2008

Narc Kenya pulls out of PNU elections

Written By:Collins Anampiu

NARC Kenya has issued a stern warning to its members planning to participate in Party of national unity elections slated for September 12 next month, saying they risk expulsion from the party.

Speaking after the party’s National Executive Council meeting at the coast, Narc Kenya chairperson Martha Karua said the party only recognizes PNU as a coalition of corporate members and therefore the planned elections are illegal.

A show down now looms between NARC Kenya and Party of National Unity as NARC Kenya says it does not recognize individual membership of PNU, putting a strain on the already shaky relationship.

Karua said any member taking part in the planned PNU elections will be deemed to have resigned from the party according to the new Political Parties’ Act.

She reiterated that the party would continue strengthening itself ahead of the 2012 general election.

The party officials also endorsed the proposed party constitution and elections which will be held on November 15 this year.

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API/Source.kbc.ke

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Zimbabwe: Reports of spreading hunger and poverty

Posted by African Press International on August 31, 2008

Johannesburg (South Africa) – By the end of the year nearly half of Zimbabwe’s population will be at risk of starvation, and right now hungry people are resorting to desperate measures, including marrying off underage daughters to old men in return for food and general support, a new report says.

The report, compiled by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, Solidarity Peace Trust and Amandla Publishers, is based partly on interviews with Zimbabweans at Musina, who are among the upsurge in those fleeing to South Africa, refugees in Johannesburg, and people  in Harare. The interviews were done between July 27 and August 13.

The reason for this huge increase in suffering is as simple as it is brutal: Robert Mugabe has reneged on the pledge he made when he signed the 21 July Memorandum of Understanding with Morgan Tsvangarai to lift immediately and unconditionally his regime’s ban on NGOs distributing food aid. Mugabe, in characteristic fashion, has ignored first private and then public appeals from Japan, Western countries, which are the major aid donors, and the European Commission, as well as from Tsvangarai himself to lift the ban. It was imposed by the regime June 4 on the spurious ground that NGOs were campaigning for the MDC.

At the beginning of August, the regime announced a partial lifting of the ban, permitting the resumption of feeding programmes for HIV/AIDs patients. But the wider ban remains in effect.

“The suspension of humanitarian operations is estimated to have put the lives of more than 1.5 million marginalised Zimbabweans at risk already,” said the report. “Without the immediate resumption of food aid across the country, widespread hunger and worsening malnutrition are unavoidable.”
It noted that the two main international food agencies, the World Food Programme and the Food and Agricultural Organisation, estimate that 2.04 million Zimbabweans in rural and urban areas do not have enough food now. By January, the organisations say that 5.1 million will be at risk of starvation – about 45% of the population.

“The government has always maintained a stranglehold on food distribution with a view to ensuring that those receiving the food associate this generosity with the government, rather than the donors,” the report noted. It quoted Mbare residents as saying they registered for but have never received the  recently announced state-funded hampers, and independent media reports say these are reserved for supporters of  Mugabe’s Zanu (PF). Opposition supporters have to resort to measures like buying maize meal for hard currency from those “connected,” such as policemen. Many families eat only once a day, and rural people are selling off livestock for cash to buy food, and eating wild fruits.

“Reports of the revival of the tradition of child brides under which desperate families marry off their underage girls to elderly well-off men in return for food and general support are now commonplace in rural areas in the southern provinces,” the report added.

As well as food, the continuing ban on NGO operations affects water and sanitation services as some aid agencies provide these, and has led to staff being laid off, adding to the legions of unemployed.

“It is critical that the Zimbabwe government immediately lift the suspension of field operations by aid agencies,” the report said. “Given the lead time required to bring in imported maize for distribution and agricultural inputs for the new planting season, the government needs to act swiftly to avert a very serious humanitarian catastrophe from worsening next year,” the report said.
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API/Source.The Zimbabwean (UK/Zimbabwe), by a correspondent

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Posted by African Press International on August 31, 2008

Kigali (Rwanda) – There is a debate going on in different quarters regarding the archives of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The debate has come to light because the Arusha based ICTR is in the evening of its life.

Who finally takes custody of the ICTR archives, should be a simple and logical issue. The Rwandan people should take custody of ICTR archives as part of the historical legacy of the country. It should serve as a continuous reminder of what happened in Rwanda.

Whereas some have been reported advocating that the archives should be in The Hague or New York, I find this to be rather unacceptable. It would be like locating the Rwanda Genocide memorials in America or Europe.

In any case, the custody of the archives for people who would like to use them in research and for academic purposes would be largely irrelevant, since it has been said that they are electronically available. This at the same time vindicates the reasons as to why Rwanda and Rwandans should have custody of the archives. The people who suffered and lost loved ones due to the Genocide need to be allowed to have access to files and records of cases of those who planned and implemented the Genocide in 1994. Many in Rwanda may not be able to do that electronically. The rest who are abroad can do so electronically.

Moreover it is apparent that the tribunal will wind up business before all the people who are on the run for having carried out Genocide have been brought before the Arusha based tribunal to face justice.

Such people should be tried in Rwanda once their time to face justice arrives. So, Rwandan courts will be continuing the work of the ICTR. That makes it logical that the files are available and held in custody by the Rwandan people.

The most important point here, I believe is that for the principal of never again to stand, Rwandans should at all times be reminded of what happened during the Genocide and in its aftermath.

With a central repository for all the Genocide cases located in Rwanda, children in schools can make trips to such a place where they have a visual picture of what happened and those who did it and how they responded when the cases were brought before the courts.

I believe the point of having the archives located in Rwanda has more implications than how people can access the documents. It is a national legacy however painful it was. It is a constant reminder.

If the archives are transferred to The Hague or New York, there will always be people who will remain dissatisfied with such a move. They will continue to advocate for the location of the archives in Rwanda.

At the same time anybody who has interacted with people who come from abroad and visit the Genocide memorials, always gets to know that those visits help them to put into perspective what really happened in Rwanda.

They tend to get to understand what happens on an emotional level. A number of them leave with a different perspective of humanity – what humans can do to fellow humans. Thus for people to understand fully what took place and what has become of the victims and the perpetrators, they may have to look at all those categories at the same time for the same reason to fully appreciate the whole scenario.

This goes for foreigners and Banyarwanda alike. When one perceives what happened and its aftermath at one go, and on a personal and emotional level, it is different from someone who is doing it in an impersonal level with a researchers or academicians aloofness. Whatever decision is finally taken, it should be understood that the archives, assets and documents of the ICTR do not exist solely for research and academic purposes. Surely there is more to that.

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API/Source.The Times (Rwanda), by Frank Kagabo

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Uganda: Running out of Aids drugs

Posted by African Press International on August 31, 2008

Kampala (Uganda) – There is a shortage of anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs), Aids activists and health ministry officials have said.

The National coordinator of Positive Mens Union, Richard Sserunkuuma, told Saturday Vision they started feeling the shortage mid last year.

Consequently, the National Forum of People Living with HIV/Aids Networks of Uganda petitioned the Ministry of Health.

There were reports coming out on the shortage of ARVs in districts like Katakwi, Pallisa, Rakai, Soroti, Hoima and Luwero. A number of people living with HIV/AIDS were reporting complete stocks out or breaks of one week to months without medication, yet drugs were expiring in the stores, said Sserunkuuma.

While downplaying the shortage, the Director General of Health Services, Dr. Sam Zaramba, confirmed the stocks available were below the usual. Normally we have a buffer stock of six months but currently we have a stock to last us less than three months, he said.

Dr. Elizabeth Namagala, a coordinator in the ART division at the health ministry, said they would carry out re-distribution from centres that had over-stocked some ARVs to those experiencing shortages. She said whereas Combivir, the backbone of most ARV combinations in Uganda is still in stock, all others were in short supply at some sites. Another doctor explained that there are patients on whom Combivir either doesnt work, or they suffer serious side effects, so they need alternatives.

Namagala, however, said the ministry had the capacity to avert a crisis. She pointed out that Government had placed an order for more ARVs, using part of the sh60b announced in the budget speech. There is no cause for alarm and the shortage will not last for long, she said.

Dr. Peter Mugyenyi, the pioneer of antiretroviral treatment in Uganda, explained that the shortage is a global problem. The current shortage has nothing to do with the ministry of health. Some of the factories delivering first line drugs have failed to deliver but they have assured us that they are addressing the problem, Mugyenyi noted.

Additionally, the demand for ARVs has been rising in Uganda, creating pressure on limited resources. The number of people in immediate need of the drugs had risen from about 225,000 in 2006 to 312,000 today, according to health ministry estimates. On average, 1,500 patients are enrolled on Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) every month.

An estimated 1.1 million Ugandans are living with the virus that causes AIDS. Currently, 130,000 patients, including 10,000 children, are receiving ARVs. This is about 42% of the total number of people in urgent need of ARVs. This percentage is one of the highest in Africa.

The current shortage comes at a time when Uganda has started producing ARVs. Quality Chemical Industries, a pharmaceutical company based in the Luzira Industrial Area, started full scale production of ARVs last month.

Participants at the second national HIV/AIDS paediatric conference that ended yesterday noted that of the 50,000 children in need of immediate life-saving HIV treatment, only 10,000 are accessing this essential intervention.

Later, a drug access initiative and international market forces led to steady price declines until Government announced it would provide the drug to all who need it. Currently the lowest cost options are between sh20,000 and sh30,000 per month.

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API/Source.The New Vision (Uganda), by Anthony Bugembe and Elvis Basudde

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Uganda: Aids – Let’s Return to ’90s Strategy (Editorial)

Posted by African Press International on August 31, 2008

Kampala (Uganda) – The HIV/Aids story continues and for Uganda things do not look good at all. Briefing journalists this past week upon return from the 17th International Aids Conference in Mexico City, the head of the Uganda Aids Commission, the country’s top body charged with fighting the pandemic, did not have any good news for the nation.

The Monitor (Kampala)
Dr Kihumuro Apuuli instead had a depressing package. He warned bluntly that the country is losing the battle against HIV/Aids.

Not only is the country failing to treat those in need of life prolonging medicines, but more people are getting infected everyday.

While only four out of every 10 Ugandans in need are accessing antiretroviral drugs, another 132,000 are getting infected annually. With a mere 125,000 people on treatment out of the 312,000 in urgent need of medication yet 132,000 are getting infected annually, we appear to be fighting a losing battle indeed. There is currently an estimated one million Ugandans living with HIV/Aids.

From an Aids success story that saw the prevalence going from a high of 30 percent (in pregnant women) and 18 percent in the general population in the early 1990s to a low 5 percent by 2000, Uganda’s prevalence has again risen to 6.4 percent where it has squared off over the last 2-3 years.

Knowing its epidemic well, Uganda designed an appropriate response. It was a multi-pronged approach. Amidst meagre resources, our success was the result of encouraging behaviour change such as increased abstinence and monogamy, delaying age at which younger people first had sex, and more frequent use of condoms. And the element of political leadership by President Museveni cannot be overemphasised.

However, when donor money came flowing in after 2001, it came with attached strings which espoused abstinence and fidelity at the expense of the proven combined efforts that had worked wonders. Scientific evidence that had showed that the Aids response required a multiplicity of strategies was disregarded.

But the good news is that the re-authorised US President’s Emergency Fund for Aid Relief (Pepfar) is flexible.

Emphasis is no longer on abstinence, fidelity, and treatment – that has brought about complacency and ‘normalised’ Aids leading to an increase in risky behaviour.

Use of the funds will be quite flexible, meaning that we could easily see some of the money going into condom-provision. Indeed, what Uganda needs is to go back to the proven multifaceted 1990s approach, which used a mix of strategies. If needs be, a return to the 1990s scary messages such as “Aids Kills” would be in order.

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API/Source.The Monitor (Kampala)

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Ethiopia: Choosing a child amid food crisis

Posted by African Press International on August 31, 2008

Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) – When Mulu Baboche travelled from the Ethiopian capital to visit her home town in the drought-stricken southern countryside, she found her brother weakened, his animals emaciated and his nine children wilting from hunger. Mulu calculated that she could afford to care for one more child back in Addis Ababa. But which to choose?

“They were all so skinny; they were all the same,” Mulu said, seated in her living room.

She chose the youngest, not necessarily the sickest, but her favourite.

The global food crisis has forced families to make grievous choices. With a drought and a scarcity of food from the global food crisis leaving millions destitute and even starving, Ethiopia is faced with similar dilemma.

And like Mulu, the country may be showing its own form of favouritism by providing cheap food to urban residents — possibly at the peril of farmers and livestock herders suffering from drought in the country’s hinterlands. Local government offices across the capital and other cities this month began selling food at prices nearly 40 percent below cost, from a first shipment of a total 150,000 tons of wheat, enough food to fill at least five ships.

Including transport, the country paid about $80 million for the grain, according to figures provided by Gebere Egziabher, one of the directors of the Ethiopian Grain Trading Enterprise. The step had been announced months earlier by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi as a countermeasure to a doubling of food prices over the last year.

But meanwhile, the country has less than half of what it needs for relief efforts in the countryside and is blaming donors for the shortfall. According to some estimates, more than 13 million Ethiopians will need some kind of emergency assistance this year to cope with a combination of drought and rising food prices. Ethiopia asked donors for an extra $300 million in emergency relief in June, and will likely increase its appeal this week.

Donor governments, however, may balk at the latest appeal as they grow increasingly dismayed with the urban feeding program, which they say has imperilled relief efforts in the countryside. Over the last 18 months, the Ethiopian government has borrowed 260,000 tons of grain from the grain reserve, established as a food bank for desperate times, to support the subsidized food distribution in urban areas. Since the government has not paid back a single ton, the grain reserve is now all but empty.

“It was a very short-sighted strategy because they did not have the reserves to respond,” said Suzanne Poland, Head of U.S. AID’s Office for Assets and Livelihood Transitions.

With millions of destitute families in the countryside receiving no assistance at all, their children are quickly falling into acute malnutrition. Therapeutic feeding centres set up to assist the most desperate cases are in some cases overrun with mothers and their children.

At a press conference earlier this month in Addis Ababa, Ethiopian State Minister for Agriculture Abera Deresa, reiterated the government position that the urban poor are among the most vulnerable. But defending the urban food program on these grounds has become more dubious after the government raised the price of the subsidized grain and allowed anyone to buy. Formerly, only families certified as poor could buy the subsidized grain at 90 birr ($9.47) for 50 kilos. Now 50 kilos cost 125 birr, pricing out people like Mulu who once depended on it. Instead, traders, bakers and middle-class mothers are now queued up to buy the wheat.

Mulu says she may send her niece back to the countryside as early as next week because of the rising price of the subsidized wheat.

“Life is terrible there, but I have no choice,” she said.

Returning from a church ceremony that marked the end of 15 days of fasting, Mulu and her family still had not eaten a meal. She was saving the last of her bread for later in the evening, and unsure of how she would feed her family the next day.

“The coming days are very dark,” she said.
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API/Source.Inter Press Service (IPS), Nicholas Benequista- August 26, 2008.

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Congo-Kinshasa: War victims speak

Posted by African Press International on August 31, 2008

Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo) – In Africa’s worst conflicts, victims’ voices are rarely heard during the elite debate that treats peace and justice as though they were an either-or. However, thousands of victims in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have told researchers for a newly-published survey that peace and justice must go hand in hand.

The survey of 3,753 Congolese is summarized in the report Living with Fear, which reveals the extent of suffering in a nation that over the past decade has suffered one of the deadliest wars since World War II. The survey was carried out by the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley, the Payson Center at Tulane University, and the International Center for Transitional Justice.

Nearly half the population surveyed in eastern Congo said they had faced death threats, suffered beatings, or been enslaved by armed groups. One-third had been abducted and held captive for more than a week, and fully 80 percent had been forcibly displaced from their homes either permanently or temporarily during the conflict.

In spite of the horrors they have endured, an overwhelming majority expects the Congolese government to be able to deliver peace and security, and believes in a multi-faceted approach to these goals. When asked what means should be used to achieve peace, the Congolese offered an array of answers: arresting those responsible for crimes, dialogue between ethnic groups, dialogue with militias, establishing the truth, and military victory over armed groups.

In a sharp rebuke to those who portray peace and justice as mutually exclusive, 85 percent of those surveyed said it was important to hold perpetrators of war crimes accountable for their actions. Eighty-two percent said that accountability for war crimes was a necessary step toward securing peace.

In a country with a desperately weak justice system, who should be holding perpetrators to account? More than half (51 percent) of the respondents said the Congolese national court system should be at the center of pursuing justice. At the same time, there was widespread recognition of the current weakness of the courts, leading 82 percent to say the international community should help in national prosecutions.

Though all of the suspects currently in the custody of the International Criminal Court (ICC) are Congolese, awareness of the institution among those polled was low. Just over a quarter of the populations of both eastern DRC and Kinshasa had heard about the ICC or its potential first trial, of Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga.

Where the ICC is known, however, support is strong: 67 percent of those who had heard of the court said they would like to participate in its work, though only 12 percent said they knew how to access it.

The pursuit of justice through the ICC faces many obstacles, as was clear when the court stopped proceedings against Lubanga earlier this year, citing errors on the part of the prosecution. And when the ICC prosecutor requested an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in June, the “peace versus justice” debate that followed showed that many continue to treat these goals as an either-or.

But if lasting progress is to be achieved in war-torn societies such as DRC and Sudan, victims’ voices must be at the center of the debate, and their calls for both peace and justice must be heeded. Only then, with security and judicial reforms and the help of the international community, can the murderous culture of impunity finally be brought to an end.

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API/source.allAfrica.com, by Suliman Baldo – August 26, 2008.

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West Africa: Coastline to be submerged by 2099

Posted by African Press International on August 31, 2008

Accra (Ghana) – Swathes of West Africa’s coastline extending from the orange dunes in Mauritania to the dense tropical forests in Cameroon will be underwater by the end of the century as a direct consequence of climate change, environmental experts warn.

“The coastline will be completely changed by the end of this century because the sea level is rising along the coast at around two centimetres every year,” said Stefan Cramer, Nigeria director of Heinrich Boll Stiftung, a German environmental NGO.

Even where urban areas appear unscathed, sea level rise will still challenge towns and cities by threatening the underground water supplies from which millions of people across the region draw their water.

The effects of sea-level rise will be most “dramatic” in Nigeria’s economic capital Lagos which is just five metres above sea level, with some parts of the city lying below sea-level, Cramer said.

The flooding is likely be most severe in Lagos because of its position at the southern end of the Gulf of Guinea where stronger tropical storms from the South Atlantic create storm surges up to three metres high, Cramer said. He estimates that most of the 15 million inhabitants of Lagos will be displaced and Nigeria’s southern Delta region where oil installations are located will also be swamped.

Other major urban centres in West Africa which experts have identified as at risk of flooding are Banjul in The Gambia, Bissau in Guinea Bissau, and Nouakchott in Mauritania. All three capitals are at or close to sea level.

Environmentalists blame the gradual melting of the 3,000 metre-thick Greenland ice cap in the Arctic as being responsible for the coastal erosion along the Coast of Guinea. Greenland is three times the size of Nigeria and its emptying into the Atlantic causes a rise in the sea-level.

“It is all due to climate change – the greenhouse gas emissions result in global warming and subsequent melting of the Greenland ice cap,” Cramer said.

Compounding the situation in West Africa, in August 2007 a tropical storm 5,000 kilometres off the coast caused a shift in the strong currents that run near the Nigerian coast and destroyed a protective sand bar.

Environmental experts have different solutions to the problem.

“I think the best way out for the moment is devising simpler and more cost effective solutions such as how to preserve towns and villages under threat and preventing sea water intrusion”, the director of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Yvo de Boer said.

“The sensible option is moving to higher ground which is a tough option especially for Nigeria as it means giving up its economic centres in Lagos and its oil installations in the Delta”, Cramer said.

But Awudi at Friends of the Earth described relocation as an “unthinkable option” due to its economic, social and cultural implications.

“Every solution to a problem must focus on the major cause of that problem and in this case greenhouse gas emissions by industrialised countries which are responsible for sea-level rise must be effectively tackled,” Awudi said.

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API/Source.UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) – August 26, 2008.

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Nigeria: Doctors berate public officers for treatment abroad

Posted by African Press International on August 31, 2008

Abuja (Nigeria) – The Nigerian Medical Association has berated public officers travelling abroad for medical treatment, saying the practice was shameful.

The association, which stated this during a visit to the headquarters of Punch Nigeria Limited in Lagos, lamented the poor health indices of the country.

The NMA also faulted attempts by other groups in the health sector to head health ministries and institutions.

The national officers of the NMA, who were led by their President, Dr. Proper Igboeli, said public officers should be prevented from going abroad for medical treatment.

According to Igboeli, the practice translates to their (public office holders) lack of commitment to the fundamental rights of Nigerians to have access to qualitative health care as enshrined in our constitution. We must reverse this trend.

The NMA president said, God has a way of dealing with this issue. Not many of those people who went abroad came back home alive.

Some of them died in the airport. They didnt even leave the shores of the country. They could have been helped in our teaching hospitals, if they had known that we were human beings like them.

He stated that many public officer holders who patronised foreign hospitals used stolen funds to pay their medical bills.

I am not saying if you have money, you cannot go abroad for treatment. It is your private business. But when you are in a position of authority, you cannot use public funds to treat yourself. The money they spend is the one they steal. We know they are stealing. We cannot look away from the obvious, he said.

Commenting on the rivalry among health professionals, Igboeli said, Doctors are traditionally, the heads of medical teams in the world.

He attributed attempts by other groups to head health institutions to what he called, lack of inter-professional discipline.

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API/Source.The Punch (Nigeria), by Niyi Odebode – August 26, 2008.

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Kenya: Report reveals secrets of election violence

Posted by African Press International on August 31, 2008

Nairobi (Kenya) – Details of how Cabinet ministers, among others, planned and promoted post-election violence can now be revealed.

This follows a legal ruling by the Waki Commission into the mayhem that followed last year’s General Election.

It states that the report by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, which names the perpetrators was not, in fact, subject to any order banning its publication. The judge leading the inquiry made it clear that the report could be published whenever the KNCHR wished.

It contains the names of five Cabinet ministers, plus five religious leaders, eight senior provincial administrators and 13 MPs. Now, for the first time, details of how they planned and helped to execute the violence that left 1,000 people and 300,000 others homeless, can be revealed.

However, the report will still not enjoy the privilege and protection of the commission of inquiry, its secretary, Mr George Kegoro said. This means that the names cannot, at present, be published without the possibility of defaming those mentioned. In the 159-page document are listed 200 people, including a number of Cabinet ministers and other politicians accused of planning and inciting members of the public to violence, organising sham harambees to finance the murders and mayhem and some of the worst incidents of ethnic hatred in the country.

Even for the commission hearings, details of what Cabinet ministers are accused of have been removed. Those mentioned include former and serving Cabinet ministers, both from the Orange Democratic Party (ODM) and the Party of National Unity (PNU).

One Cabinet minister is accused of planning, inciting and financing violence. It is alleged that in early January, the minister instructed the youth to block a highway. Raiders were also hosted at the minister’s residence.

Another is accused of hosting a meeting of members of his ethnic community in August last year, in which plans were hatched to evict members of other communities from the area. Those in attendance were encouraged to “uproot” the weed, “shake off the soil… gather it together and burn it” in reference to “outsider” communities, says the report.

Another was accused of attending meetings to plan the violence, and helping fund the mayhem.

Release of the report to the public by the human rights commission last month sparked controversy, with allegations that it had been doctored and names of politicians from one political party removed.

The report titled, “On the Brink of the Precipice: A Human Rights Account of Kenya’s Post-2007 Election”, categorised the violence into four: Spontaneous riots that erupted immediately the presidential vote results were announced; planned and systematic attacks that led to evictions and mass displacement; violence meted out by the police; and retaliation by communities when they saw their friends and family being attacked

In the 159-page report, the commission specified names and dates when planning meetings took place, those in attendance, and the resolutions passed. The report also listed three vernacular radio stations as having been used to instigate the violence.

According to the human rights team, the number of people who perished in the violence was 1,162, with 350,000 displaced from their homes. State security agencies were put on the spot for a “slow and ineffectual response”. According to the report, “where the Government acted, its responses tended to be “unwieldy and disjointed”.

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API/Source.The Nation (Kenya) – August 28, 2008.

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UN appoints Algerian as deputy special representative for DRC

Posted by African Press International on August 31, 2008

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Ms. Leila Zerrougui of Algeria as his Deputy Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Previously, Ms Leila served as a judge for several years, and then as a legal adviser in the ministry of Justice before being appointed to Algerias Supreme Court in 2000.

Ms Zerrougui then served as Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention under the United Nations Human Rights Council from 2003 to May 2008

Ms Zerrougui was one of the five authors of a United Nations report on human rights abuses of detainees held in the United States naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

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API/Source.apa

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AU urges member states to ratify convention on fighting terrorism

Posted by African Press International on August 31, 2008

The African Union Commission on Thursday called on member states to expedite the ratification of the OAU Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism and its Protocol.

The call followed a briefing by the director of the African Centre for Study and Research on Terrorism to the 149th meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council in Addis Ababa.

Less than half of the 53 member states have ratified the convention.

The council also requested the AU Commission to expedite the development of the African Anti-Terrorism Model Law, which would provide ready-made technical assistance to member states.

The model law would also enable member states to harmonize their efforts and laws for the prevention and combating of terrorism in Africa.

The council further called upon member states that have not yet designated focal points for the African Centre for Study and Research on Terrorism to do so urgently.

The commission, together with the African Centre for Study and Research on Terrorism, should also work closely with the United Nations in pursuit of the UN global counter-terrorism strategy, the council said.

It called on the international community, including the United Nations, to provide the necessary technical and financial assistance to African states to enhance their capacity to fight terrorism as required by international obligations.

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API/Source.apa

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Posted by African Press International on August 31, 2008

The Moroccan government on Thursday expressed its pride at the increasing international support to the plan for the autonomy of the Sahara which Morocco unveiled in April 2007 as “the unique solution” to this 33-year old conflict.

The government took note with “a great pride of the growing international support to the “Moroccan initiative for the autonomy” of the Sahara, Moroccan Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi told the cabinet meeting.

The Moroccan PM believes that the Sahara issue remains his governments “top priority” to end this “man-made conflict”.

On 30 July, King Mohammed VI had reiterated his countrys willingness to maintain “its policy of friendly cooperation” and start “substantial” negotiations in good faith and at all levels” to find a political, broad-based and final settlement” to the Sahara conflict.

In April 2007, Morocco offered an autonomy plan for the Sahara (250, 000 sq. km) to find a solution to the conflict which has pitted it against the Polisario Front separatist movement since late 1975 when the Spanish colonizers withdrew from the territory which have since then been under its full control.

The Algeria-based Polisario Front has been demanding a “self-determination” referendum which Rabat dismissed as “inapplicable” while describing its plan as the only solution out of the deadlock.

After reaching their fourth round of the Manhasset talks (a New York suburb) in March under the aegis of the UN, they were deadlocked over the conflicting positions of the protagonists.

In addition to Morocco and the Polisario Front, the talks on the Sahara which began in June 2007, are witnessed by Algeria and Mauritania as observer countries.

The fifth round should be set in common accord but nothing predicts “an imminent resumption”, according to some analysts.

In April, the UN mediator in charge of the Sahara, Peter Van Walsun, had dismissed as “unrealistic” the independence option claimed by the Polisario Front.

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API/Source.apa

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Posted by African Press International on August 31, 2008

Kenyans woke up Friday morning with the excitement that US Senator Barack Obama Thursday night made history by being the first black American to be nominated to run for the presidency, considering the fact that his father was Kenyan and he has still got family members in the country.

The 47- year-old senator laid out his plan to lead the country into an era of change as he accepted the Democratic presidential nomination, securing his place in history as the first African-American to lead a major party ticket.

If he wins the presidential elections he will make history in America, as he will become the first black president, said Christine Nkatha a Nairobi resident.

Born on August 4, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii, Obama is the son of a Kenya-born Harvard-educated economist, Barack Obama Senior of Nyangoma Kogelo Siaya district in western Kenya and Ann Dunham, an American anthropologist from Wichita, Kansas.

His parents met while attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where his father was a foreign student.

They separated when he was two years old and later divorced. Obamas father returned to Kenya and saw him only once more before dying in an automobile accident in 1982.

His mother died of ovarian cancer in 1995.

Kenyans generally and the media has been closely monitoring the progress of the Illinois senator since February 10, 2007; when he declared his candidacy for the 2008 Democratic nomination for the presidency.

Since the beginning of the year, international journalists have camped near the home of Obamas 86 year-old grandmother, forcing the family to appoint a spokesman to handle the press.

It is like a football match and he scored the first goal. We are just waiting for the others, Obamas grandmother was quoted saying by the local media at her rural home in Kogelo.

She said that the family closely monitors the political progress of their son in a distant land and exuded confidence that he will win the November presidential elections.

The younger Obama was mostly raised in Hawaii and did not know his father well, but his presidential bid has sparked excitement in Kenya and he has always kept contact with his family. Thousands were drawn to his appearances during his 2006 visit.

During his last visit, Obama touched on themes not normally debated openly in Kenya, criticizing the high-level corruption and the tribal politics that have dominated the country since its 1963 independence from Britain.

If Obama is elected, he would improve relations between Africa and America because he had his roots in Africa, said Simon Mbugua, a hawker in Nairobi.

In Kogelo, a local secondary school has been named in honor of the senator, with the school christened, Senator Obama Kogelo secondary school.

The fact that Obama has Kenyan roots and he is contesting to become an American President, has placed Kenya in the international arena, despite the many challenges we face as a country, said Janet Nduta, a cyber caf attendant.

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API/Source.apa

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