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Archive for August 8th, 2008

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has launched a blueprint to guide the private sector in Kenya

Posted by African Press International on August 8, 2008

Speaking for the majority voiceless women, and in highlighting Women’s concerns,It is
about time the World take a closer look and step in to provide immidiate Financial Assistance to the women and the Youth of Kisumu in Kenya in an inclusive Growing
Market Strategic Development Program. UNDP has recently releasedinformationon how businesses may include the global poor as potential customers and how the global poor might benefit from collaborating more closely with businesses inCreating Value for All in the Popular Participation Community Program. This Community Development Program is in essence Regional or Jimbo Trading Initiatives. The Kisumu Women and Youths of Kenya have in the past been constantly left out of meaningful development funding or Pilot Scheme. Coupling with the recently stolenflawed election that brought about destruction of housesand deaths of many, Kisumu and the rest of Nyanza fell deeper into serious poverty lacking the most essential goods to live a normal life.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has launched a blueprint to guide the private sector in Kenya. The sector is expected to partner with the poor through business initiatives aimed at poverty alleviation.
ThePlan of Actionstrategies for doing business with the poor has been developed in conjunction with the United Stated Agency for Development (USAID) and is aimed at boosting the involvement of less privileged members of society through innovationsand
how itcan translate to income as well as boost Small or Start-up Entrepreneurship.
Teaming up with Private Businesses can be success story whenaimedto overcome the most common obstacles faced by the poor in today’s serious poverty.
The poor have the Talent or Skills which are ready tools necessary to team up with
established businesses companies to expand traditional business practices by
bringing on board the poor as partners towards economic recovery and expansion.
Under the UNDP Private Sector Strategy, the Growing Inclusive Markets (GIM) program simple business venture will tackle the immediate condition of extreme lack of basic needs. This will help along way in realizing the Millenium Development Goals faster within this
popular participation. This is afacilitated platform to engage all participating actors in the
Business Model so that the pursuits of profit and human progress can work to mutual advantage and spark Social and Economic CHANGE to an improved life.
There isurgency toraise awareness andprovide information on how businesses, in collaboration with the government and Civil Society can contribute to human development and realization of theRatified Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).The guidelines in the report seek to inspire and provoke the private sector into action, showing how businesses can get engaged through partnerships with the masses to achieve development.
For instance,in Teaming with the government and other sectors as players, micro-financing should be developed through ConstituencyCommunity to stimulate smalltrading undertakings which directly touch on many poor in areas such as:-
1) Water, Environment and Sanitation
2)Farm Produce and Nutrition Food to include honey
3) Village Clinics and dispensaries for Health
4) Promotion of Music for Entertainment and for ReligiousPraise and Warship
5) Education Exchange Programs and Distance Learning
6) Rural Computer Learning and Computer Kiosks
7) Construction and Road Maintenance
8) Tourism
9) Fishing Industry
10) Transportatio
11) Retail Business to both Women and Youth
12) Development Banks
The poor can benefit immensely from doing business directly with Private Sector, and
could be integrated in the cash flow economy which aims at wider distribution of wealth
and income. Public-Private Partnership alliance programme aims at business activities that simulates income for the poor for basic needs.
The poor have a large untappedenergy potential and resources for consumptionand
distribution as well asskills and talents for innovative production within the entreprenuerial activities. The more business integrated including the poor as partners the more the economic growth, the more fulfilment of The Millenium Development Goals.
Women as the Mainstream Players.
In order to overcome obstacles, women should be given opportunities to push for progress.

African women’s fundamental contributionsin food production systems needs to be
incorporated and supplemented.
Government Ministries must subsidize for their efforts in the contribution to domestic economic inputs and national economies are increasingly acknowledged from women’s inputs.At both grassroots and national levels they have not been documented as inclusion in the National Economy. Women have in the past proved to haveenergetic efforts to organize, articulate their concerns and make their voices heard with little or no impact from the Leadership.They have also been used as voters bypoliticians but get very little reward.They arenow pressing for an expansion of women’s economic and social opportunities, and the advancement of women’s rights. I speak for the majority voiceless. We are now fired up toDEMAND TO BE HEARD because we have the the dynamismwe havedisplayed in the economic, cultural and social lives of the communities through associations and informal networksare nowchannelling into creating new models of participation and leadership by improvingour own positions. This will eventually strengthen African society as a whole, as well as enhance continent’s broader development prospects.

Inthe demand for private sector financing ofentrepreneurship it has been due to several factors, including:

a) Lack of government financial resource allocationto women’s development Agendas

b)Government’s non-commital toStimulant incentiveaidto poor families

c) Government’s non-commital to Traditional and Cultural nomsthat are cruel to women

and are seen as HumanRights Abuse like women inheritence, acqusition of lands


d) Lack of Improved methods of Entreprenuership to meet Trading challenges

e) Lack of collatoral to acquire funding

f) Lack of Government’s goodwill and political enabling environment

Despite the existence of a large number of potential UN and Non-Governmental programs or Pilot Projects, significant numbers of project deals and fundsdo notreach some Regions like Kisumu (Nyanza) which in many cases are marginalized and are now facing abject serious poverty and hunger, lacking in the most fundamental essentials one needs to live a reasonable life.

It is for the above reason why Networking for Entrepreneurship and Trading will be something about time the Women and the Community of Nyanza embark on

Globalization of Trading and merchandizing through Private Sectorinitiative which will

help acquire UN Millenium Development Goals within the time frame.

Consequently, I support and will continue toforster activities that will compliment Global networking entrepreneurship and business trading to the realization of UN Millenium Development Goals Agenda as well as UN UNDP Business Initiatiative in Creating Value for all.

Thank you,

Judy Miriga



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Kenya: Nyanza Economic Conference 2008

Posted by African Press International on August 8, 2008

Preliminary Programme (Day 1)

08h00-08h30 Registration, Tea/Coffee

08h30-10h00 OPENING SESSION (CHAIR: Mr Pete Ondeng)

Opening & Introduction

Mary Onyango, Chair, Nyanza Economic Forum

Official Welcome

His Worship, Mr. Sam Okello, Mayor of Kisumu

Opening Remarks

Mr. Paul Olando, Nyanza Provincial Commissioner

Keynote Address

Hon. William Ruto, Minister for Agriculture

10H30-13H00 SESSION II: KEY SECTORS (CHAIR: Mr George Ooko)

10H30-11H00 FISH INDUSTRY: Nyanzas Unexploited Lake Resources

Hon. James Otuoma, Minister for Fisheries

11H00-11H30 FINANCIAL SERVICES: Reaching the Unreached

Mr. Joseph Kwaka, Executive Director, Community Aid International

11H30-12H00 KENYA DEVELOPMENT FUND CORP (KDFC): The Diasporas Response to Investment in Nyanza

Mr. Peter Odhengo and Mr. David Ndolo, KDFC-Kenya

12H00-12H30 AGRIBUSINESS: Towards Commercial Agriculture in Nyanza

Dr. Peter Okoth, Project Manager, Tropical Soil Biology & Fertility Institute

12H30-13H00 MANGO PROCESSING and Value Addition for Increased Incomes

Mr. Arshfod Njagi, Manager, GTZPSDA

14H00-17H00 SESSION III: KEY SECTORS (Cont.) (CHAIR: Ms Joyce Miguda Majiwa)

14H00-14H30 Vision 2030: Implications for the Development of Western Kenya

Mr. David S. Nalo, PS, Ministry of East African Corporation

14H30-15H00 DAIRY: Proven Strategies for Small Producers

Mr. Fred Ogana, Country Director, Technoserve

15H00-15H30 TOURISM: Can Nyanza be the Next Frontier for Tourism?

Dr. Ongonga Achieng, Managing Director, Kenya Tourism Board

15H30-16H00 SUGAR INDUSTRY: How to Maximize the Economic Impact of Sugar in Nyanza

Mr. Martin Owiti Odero, Managing Director, Muhoroni Sugar Company

16H00-16H30 FOREIGN INVESTMENTS IN KENYA: What Does Nyanza Need to Know?

Mrs. Susan Kikwai, Managing Director, Kenya Investment Authority

17H00-18H00 Plenary Discussion (Joint Chairs: Mr. Goerge Ooko & Ms. J. M. Majiwa)

18h00-19h30 Cocktail/Reception (Sponsored by KCB, Short Speech, Martin Oduor Otieno)

21H30-22H30 SESSION IV: PANEL DISCUSSION (Coordinator, Mr. Pete Ondeng)

21h30-22H30 Panel Discussion-live on Citizen TV: Louis Otieno Live; (Panelists below)

(Day 2)


08H00-08H30 The Proposed Lake View Resort City Initiative

Mr. Ndevi Muli, Managing Director, Kenya Railways Corporation

08H30-09H00 How should the Private Sector Contribute to the Rural Nyanza Economy?

Mr. Sunil Shah, Kisumu Businessman

Ms. Josephine Omanwa, MD of Jonzavike Stationers & Bookshop, Kisii

09h00-09H30 The Pathway to Success: What should we know about success in Business?

Mr. Fred Osewe, Proprietor, Ranalo Foods

Mr. Hasmukh Dawda, Chairman, House of Manji

Mrs. Munira Gilani, Director Fresh-foods Limited, Kisumu

09H30-10H00 Green Forest Social Investment Trust: The Case of Suba Green Initiative

Dr. Kim Hartog, Green Forest Investment Trust

10H00-10H30 FINANCIAL SERVICES: Reaching the Unreached

Mr. Martin Oduor-Otieno, Managing Director, Kenya Commercial Bank


11H00-12H00 Open Dialogue with Nyanza MPs.

12H00-12H15 Meeting Summary & Wrap Up-Dr. Peter Okoth

12H15-12H30 Way Forward Mary Onyango, Chair, Nyanza Economic Forum

12H30-13H00 Closing Speech, Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga, Prime Minister


Selected Guests invited to plant mangoes in a Garden in Kisumu

Panel Discussion live on Citizen TV: (Louis Otieno Live)

Topic: Putting Nyanza Back on a Path of Sustainable Development

Time: Thursday Evening, 7th August, 9:30 pm


Hon. Dalmas Otieno, Minister for Public Service

Prof. Stephen Agong, Chairman, Kisumu Action Team

Mr. Evans Kidero, MD, Mumias Sugar Company

Ms Mary Onyango, Chairman, Nyanza Economic Forum.

Ms. Betty Okero, Director, CSO Network (Kisumu)

Mr Galib Tejpar, Director, Corner House Development Ltd. (Kisumu)


Posted to API by by David Ndolo


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Raila gives RVR three months ultimatum

Posted by African Press International on August 8, 2008

By Leo Odera Omolo

Kenyas Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga yesterday chaired joint Kenya-Uganda crisis meeting over the financially strapped Rift Valley Railway a consortium or multinational companies, which operates the railway syst6em in the two countries.

Following the meeting the Kenyan government gave the RVR a three months ultimatum to streamline its operations, and to raise USD 40 million new investment capital base to enable it to rehabilitate and improve its services to the public.

RVR was given up to October 31 to ensure service delivery normalised or the government takes over the railways operations.

Addressing the press after the meeting, Raila Odinga said Kenya has lost its patience

With the RVR. The government of Kenya and that of Uganda have decided to give the RVR management three months to do whatever they can to restore services,he added.

The PM said a clause that gave one of the share holders a 35 per cent majority-share had been revoked to enable other shareholders the room to inject more funds into the3 corporation..

Mr. Odinga disclosed that other shareholders had made commitment to inject about KSHS 260 million to ensure normalicy.

The PM said the RVR had attributed their inefficiency to lack of sufficient funds. They have explained that some financial pledges made to the by some investors who late let them down was their undoing..

Mr. Odinga was accompanied by the minister for Transport Ali Chirau Makwere and the finance Assistant minister Dr. Oburu Odinga and other senior government officials.

He said those issues and the future states of the RVR was discussed, and that Kenya and Uganda governments had agreed to conduct feasibility study for another railway line soon.

THE Nairobi meeting chaired by Mr. Odinga was attended by top government officialks from both Kenya and Uganda along with shareholders of the RVR, the consortium contracted to run the 900 km Mombasa Kampala railway line.

Also in attendance were representatives of the International Finance Corporation, a lending wing of the World Bank and the German Development Bank,kfw, came just two days after the Managing Director of the RVR Roy Puffet had resigned in huff under pressure from the two governments.

In parliament the Prime Minister Mr. Odinga had to come to the rescue of his besieged colleague, the Transport minister Makwere from the barrage of questions and scathing criticism. He told the House that the government acknowledged the concern of Kenyans over the lackluster performance of the RVR , and this was the reasons why he had called the meeting to audit its performance.

The youthful Budalangi MP Ababu Namwamba, a lawyer by profession kicked off the debate on the performance and status of the railways when he tabled documents, which he claimed, showed that RVR was a phony company set up to defraud Kenyan taxpayers.

The M{P told the hussed house that the company had even failed to pay its lawyers in a matter before a British court in the UK. This, he added, has proved that the company was not financially sound and had no capacity to improve the railway system in Kenya. It is even worse than the infamous Goldenberg Scandal.

The government, he said, has thrown away a precious state asset to a phony company, he charged amid prolonged applause from the back-benchers.

Rail;a Odinga had also sacked the former managing director of the Kenyan Ports Authority {KPA} Abdallah Mwarua an appointee of the Transport Minister Mwakwere.

Political pundits and observers alike says the financial troubled RVR Ltd has two more hurdles to clear if it is to retain the Uganda-Kenya railways line; change its management and secure funding in a matter of days or else pack and go.

And Mr. Odinga has just done that. He appointed a former genius KPA MD Mr. Brown Ondego , who is believed to be a result-oriented technocrat to the coveted position of the executive chairman of the KPA. Ondego an ally of the deputy Prime Minister and ws the ODM coordinator during the last December general election at the COAST.

Oast Province

The Nairobi meeting was aimed at establishing whether the concessionaire has secured the necessary finances and was further willing to change its management as a matter of utmost urgency for its survival.

Sources in the Kenyan capital intimated that the two governments of Kenyan and Uganda. Believes RVR will be forced out if it fails to meet the conditions set by the financiers..

RVR was granted the authority to use the railway lines for both passengers and freight transport for an exclusive period of five and 25 years respectively.

However, going by the assessment by two countries, the concessionaire has peformed very poorly and has slim chance of retaining the deal

In Uganda, the Minister for Works and Transport John Nasasira was recently taken to a task by members of a parliamentary select committee of physical infrastructure to find an immediate solution to RVR incompetence before the situation gets out of hand.

Ugandan government is reported to have already prepared the Uganda Railways to re-possess and manage the 2,350 km railway network in the country should it come to that.

According to RVR management the new plan would cover rehabilitation of dilapidated section of the main-line track to allow safe passage of trains, upgrading and modernization of the locomotive fleets, wheel and brake replacement and other rehabilitation of the wagon fleets, rehabilitation of passengers coaches and purchase of new locomotive and wagons.

Rehabilitation work would include the renovation; and the installation of new information technology system.

In 2007 RVR had announced its commitment to invest USD 17.5 million in the rehabilitation on the railway network, but both Nairobi and Kampala claim RVR has not lived up to its commitment

According to concession agreement by the Kenyan Railway corporation carried out in the first three months after RVR too over, the company transported 405,170 tones of goods

compared with 433,509 tones transported by the Kenya railways corporation in three months proceeding a 6.5 per cent drop.




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Hikers trash mountain idyll

Posted by African Press International on August 8, 2008

Mountain hikers crossing the Besseggen ridge are unable wait for the next toilet. The mountain patrol and other hikers despair.

Please leave only footprints when climbing Besseggen Ridge in the Jotunheim Mountains.


“If only people could behave more sensibly. Ive met several tourists who react to ever more toilet paper along the trail. We make regular trips over the Ridge and we always have to clean up other people’s mess,” says Rigmor Solheim, head of the mountain patrol in the Jotunheim area, to daily newspaper Dagningen.

“It’s surprising how many people smoke too. We have to remove a lot of cigarette butts,” she adds.

The hike over the Besseggen Ridge takes six hours. Solem says there are no plans to build outhouse toilets or put out trash cans.

“People will have to go before they start out on their trip and they need to tidy up after themselves,” say Solem.



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Born in Norway, but not a citizen

Posted by African Press International on August 8, 2008

During 2007, more than 1.500 children with foreign parents have been turned down when they have applied for Norwegian citizenship, despite having been born and having grown up in Norway.

The Nabi children were born in Norway, but do not qualify for Norwegian citizenship.


The reason is that their parents may have misunderstood or lied about their identities when they arrived in Norway, writes daily newspaper Aftenposten.

To qualify for Norwegian citizenship, the applicant has to document his or her identity. This rule applies to children as well as adults. If one or both of the parents have an undocumented identity, this gives an uncertain identity status to their children as well.

Iraqi, Afghan and Somali children are most effected by the regulations. Since 2007, 1000 Iraqi, 350 Somali and 200 Afghan children have had their applications turned down.

The Immigration Directorate (UDI) accept that this is a problem and has proposed that the authorities change the law, in order to avoid Norway breaking the UN convention on childrens rights.

“We are looking into the issue and considering it along with other possible adjustments to the Citizenship law,” says Ingrid Dsnes, a senior advisor at the Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion.



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Progress Party grows, Labour struggles

Posted by African Press International on August 8, 2008

The Progress Party remains Norways biggest party, adding 1.4 percent support in a recent poll. The Labour Party is still struggling.

A recent poll gives Progress Party leader Siv Jensen reason to smile.


The Labour Party (AP) has lost 1.9 percent of its support, giving it 26.1 percent of the vote, according to a poll carried out by Norstat on behalf of Norwegian Broadcasting. The Socialist Left Party gains 1.3 percent, giving it 7 percent and the other coalition partner, the Centre Party, adds 0.5 percent, giving it 5 percent of the vote.

Support for the other non-socialist parties show only minor changes from the last poll. The Conservatives score 16.2 percent, the Liberals 5.1 percent and the Christian Democrats 5.8 percent. Far to the Left, the Red party attracts 1.7 percent support, enough to give them one seat in Parliament if the poll had been an election result.

The opinion poll gives a clear non-socialist majority, but the Conservatives and Progress Party would be one seat short of the 85 needed to control the Storting.

The Left-Centre coalition would get a total of 67 seats; 29 fewer than at present, according to the poll.



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Hi-tech swimming trunks split

Posted by African Press International on August 8, 2008

Olympic swimmer, Alexander Dale Oen, was trying his new custom-made swimming trunks, when they burst at the seams.

Dale Oen will be wearing new trunks when he swims the 100 metre breaststroke.


“They were simply too small. I was worried there for a while, but bigger trunks have arrived in time. He’s going to try them out in the Olympic pool here in Beijing,” says Petter Lvberg, who heads the Norwegian team.

What swimmers wear has been hotly debated since Speedo launched its high-technology swim suit earlier this year. Dale Oen tried out an outfit from his sponsor during the Norwegian championship in June, but he wasn’t comfortable. At the Olympics he plans to wear long trunks.

Dale Oen will be testing the trunks on Saturday when he test swims the 100 metre breaststroke, writes



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Less death duty on houses

Posted by African Press International on August 8, 2008

The Government wants to reduce estate duty for the majority of Norwegians, by raising the tax free deduction. However those who inherit shares in unlisted companies will no longer get the present rebate.

Jon Stordrange, head of the tax payer’s association, applauds the cut, but deplores the the increase in tax.

PHOTO: Bo Mathisen

At present, the first NOK 250.000 (USD 50.000) inherited is tax-free. Children or parents have to pay 8 percent duty on the next NOK 300.000. If you inherit more, the additional sum is taxed at 20 percent.

Others who inherit, have to pay a slightly higher 10 percent and 30 percent rate.

According to news bureau ANB, the Government wants to raise the deductible sum to NOK 400.000 (USD 80.000).

People who inherit shares in companies not listed on the stock exchange will lose todays tax rebate. At present they only have to pay tax on a third of the estimated value. Cash is taxed at a full rate. The new rules try to remove this bias.



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Norway beats US in opening game

Posted by African Press International on August 8, 2008

The Norwegian women’s soccer team scored twice in the first four minutes of the opening match against the US favourites.

Jubilant soccer players celebrate winning 2-0 over the US, in their first match at the Olympics.


The Olympic soccer tournament started before the official opening of the Olympics, owing to the large number of games to be played. Norway was drawn against the United States in the first game.

Lene Larsen Kaurin began by heading the ball past the US goalkeeper in the second minute of play. Two minutes later, Melissa Wiik outran the US defense, kicking the ball in front of the keeper into the opposite corner of the goal net.

After a few more attempts at scoring by the Norwegians, the US team gradually improved their game, pressing back their opponents.

No points were scored in the second half of the match, despite several shots at goal.

Before this match, Norway has lost the last ten games against the United States.



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More dads stay home with small babies

Posted by African Press International on August 8, 2008

Six out of ten fathers stay home with their children for more than six weeks. This is twice as many as in 1999.

More fathers are staying home for longer with their newborn babies.


Working parents are entitled to leave for up to a year with 80 percent pay, to look after their newborn children.

In theory, only the first few weeks are specifically reserved for the mother. In practice, mothers have tended to stay home through most of the the child’s first year. Increasing numbers of fathers are however taking care of small babies for longer, according to news bureau NTB.

To boost the numbers who take paternity leave, one month of the year’s quota has been reserved for fathers.

The recent figures show that more men are staying home for longer. This is considered good for creating closer bonds between fathers and their children. If men are increasingly likely to take paternity leave, this may ultimately strengthen women job applicants’ opportunities in the labour market.

Equality commissioner, Beate Gangs still thinks progress is too slow. “At this rate it will take more than three generations before a majority of fathers stay home with their children for more than eight weeks.”



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Penalized for rearing children

Posted by African Press International on August 8, 2008

Else Johansen is 66 years old and has taken care of five children while working part-time. She is shocked to discover that she barely gets more than the minimum state pension when she retires.

Else Johansen is shocked by the size of the pension she gets after rearing five children and working for 47 years.


“I’ve had five children and I’ve brought them up. I began to work in 1961. I was deeply shocked when I found out that I’d be getting little more than a minimum pension,” she says to daily newspaper Aftenposten.

Pension experts are only too aware that this is what can happen. “Women who work part-time and spend time at home when they have young children end up with a small pension,” says Kirsten Folger, who works for the Labour and Welfare Administration.

“How can this be right? I moved around with my husband, took charge of the children and I’ve worked almost as many years as him. In spite of this he gets a very good pension, whereas I barely get more than someone who has never worked,” says Johansen.

Vibeke Holsen, who works for Vital Insurance, explains why the couple ends up with very different pensions.

“Your employers havent had pension schemes like those of your husband. Even though youve worked for many years, too few of them have been full-time to give additional income from the state pension system,” she says.

She warns women that they need to aware of the consequences if they choose to continue part-time after the youngest child starts school.

“I had dreams of using a good pension to travel and enjoy myself. Instead I have to work until Im 68; maybe longer, in order to increase my pension just a little,” says Johansen.



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Posted by African Press International on August 8, 2008

A recent survey shows fewer city patriots in Oslo than in other big cities in Norway. “Its a place to meet, but not to stay. A quarter of the population wants to move somewhere else”, says author John Olav Egeland.

Despite facilities like the Holmenkollen national sports arena, a quarter of Oslo’s population would be happy to move out.


Results from a recent survey of life in the big cities, carried out by Sentio Research, shows that 34 percent identify themselves with Oslo and 24 percent would like to move out. Bergen, Stavanger and Trondheim have better ratings.

Most first-generation immigrants still think of home as the place they left, even if they have spent most of their lives in Oslo.

The second generation, born in Oslo is more likely to consider it home, but people have deep roots.

“If people are to become more proud of Oslo they have to be made to feel welcome. If not, one in four will continue to move on,” says Egeland.



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Record salmon and trout export

Posted by African Press International on August 8, 2008

Fish exporters sold seafood for NOK 2.5 billion in July. This is a record for this time of year.

Increased volume, higher prices and new markets have led to record seafood exports in July.

PHOTO: Archive

Seafood exports rose by NOK 152 million or 7 percent compared with July 2007, a record according to figures for July from Statistics Norway and the Norwegian Seafood Export Council (EFF).

So far this year Norway has exported seafood for NOK 20.3 billion (USD 4 billion), an increase of NOK 176 million. (USD 33 million). This is also a record for this period.

“Continued growth in demand for salmon and trout and developments in newer markets such as Russia, Poland, the Ukraine and Nigeria, give an increased value of Norwegian seafood exports despite the world economic downturn,” says EFF director Jan Trollvik.

Increased volume and price of salmon and trout are the main causes of the record results. However, salmon prices fell by 2.8 percent during the last week of July relative to the previous week, according to Statistics Norway.



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Fisheries minister knew about hazards

Posted by African Press International on August 8, 2008

Fisheries minister Helga Pedersen admits that she knew the wreck of the Murmansk might contain dangerous chemicals, but she rejects claims that she lied.

Labour Party rising star Helga Pedersen is in trouble over the way she has handled pollution fears in Finnmark.


Previously the Labour Party minister has said that she has had no knowledge of any toxic materials aboard the wrecked cruiser. She repeated this claim when she was interviewed on Monday. When the journalist confronted her with a letter from the local Mayor sent in 2005, warning of possible dangerous chemicals, she admitted that she recognized the letter.

Odd-Egil Simonsen, the former Labour Party mayor, accuses Pedersen of lying when she said she was unaware of any danger to the environment from the wreck.

After daily newspaper Aftenposten wrote about radioactive equipment which had been removed from the ship last Friday, demands to remove the wreck have increased.

“In his original letter Simonsen referred to PCB’s and toxic flame retarding organic bromines. There have been suspicions about the existence of chemicals like this dating back to 2004, but nothing had been confirmed. Claims that there were radioactive materials on board were entirely new to me,” says Pedersen.

On Tuesday Pedersen meets the present mayor of Hasvik, Eva Husby who also represents the Labour Party. She has two demands: that the wreck has to be thoroughly inspected to see what materials are on board, and that the wreck must be removed, according to news bureau NTB.

Pedersen says that the contents of the ship have to be checked first. She promises that the local inhabitants can be quite sure that there will be no dangerous pollution from the wreck in future.



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Sudan: UN envoy urges review of death sentences against rebels

Posted by African Press International on August 8, 2008

The United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary General in Sudan, Ashraf Qasi said on Thursday that the recent death sentences passed by the Sudans counter terrorism courts against 30 individuals for allegedly participating in the May attack on Omdurman did not meet international standards.
He said the UN mission in Sudan (UNMIS) urges the appeal court to thoroughly review the 30 death sentences pas against alleged members of the Justice and Equality Movement headed by Khalil Ibrahim in line with the Interim National Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

He said UNMIS has concerns that the judicial process may not have met international standards.

He said that according to the information available to UNMIS the accused were only given access to lawyers after the trials began and confessions were obtained while they were held incommunicado and in the absence of legal counsel.

Qasi said the court did not investigate allegations of ill-treatment, as requested by the defence counsel, through proper medical examinations.

He said UNMIS was concerned that the judicial process under the Anti Terrorist Act only allows for an extremely limited appellate process.

He said UNMIS recognized the right and responsibility of the government to prosecute and sentence those who committed criminal offences in the context of the attacks but calls on the government to ensure compliance of proceedings with international legal standards.

Last week, the Sudanese courts sentenced the 30 alleged Darfur rebels to death over an attack on the capitals suburb town of Omdurman that took place on May 10.



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