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Archive for August 16th, 2008

Britain commends Nigeria on the Bakassi handover

Posted by African Press International on August 16, 2008

The British government has said Nigerias successful handover of the Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon on Thursday, is a global example that countries can settle their differences peacefully.

Nigeria ceded the oil-rich Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon following a ruling by the International Court of Justice, which was ratified by both countries at the United Nations under the Greentree Agreement on the implementation of the judgement.

Mr. Jonathan Bacon of the British High Commission in Abuja, said in a statement, Friday, The United Kingdom as a witness to the Greentree Agreement, attaches great importance to the successful and peaceful implementation of this agreement, which implements the judgement of the International Court of Justice.

The British High Commissioner Bob Dewar represented the British government at the handing over ceremony in Calabar on Thursday.

According to the statement issued by the High Commission, We commend the continued commitment of the United Nations to this process and the diligent work of the UN Secretary General, his Special Representative for West Africa, the Chairman of the Follow Up Committee and the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission in facilitating this peaceful settlement.

The British government expressed the hope that the new agreement would open new prospects for bilateral goodwill, confidence and co-operation as well as consolidating peace, stability, human rights and prosperity in the sub-region.

It also commended the United Nations for facilitating the smooth handover of the ceded region to Cameroon.

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UN, ECOWAS investigate deaths of Ghanaians in The Gambia

Posted by African Press International on August 16, 2008

A joint United Nations-ECOWAS fact-finding team on the death of a number of Ghanaian nationals found dead in The Gambia in 2005 was launched Friday in Abuja, according to a statement by the ECOWAS Commission issued on Friday in Abuja.

The statement said that the team, led by Mr. Curtis Ward, include a representative each appointed by the governments of The Gambia and Ghana.

According to the statement, the launching of the team was done by the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, in the presence of Mr. Sammy Kum Buo, Director of Africa II Division in the Department of Political Affairs at the United Nations headquarters in New York, and of officials of the high commissions of The Gambia and Ghana in Abuja.

According to the statement, the fact-finding team, which will be supported by experts, will be based at the headquarters of the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja.

The statement said that Mr. Ward, who was jointed appointed by the United Nations and ECOWAS, would visit The Gambia and Ghana shortly for preliminary discussions with government officials.

It said that the joint UN-ECOWAS team was established at the request of the governments of The Gambia and Ghana to facilitate efforts by both governments to bring peaceful closure to the matter.

“The final resolution of the matter will also help to restore and strengthen the traditionally cordial relations between the two countries,” it said.

In June 2005, several dead bodies of people believed to be West African illegal immigrants were found near the beach in the Gambian fishing village of Brufut, about 15 kilometres from Banjul, the capital. There was however never any official explanation as to who those people were and what caused their deaths.

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Jelimo, Jepkosgei cruise into the 800m semi finals

Posted by African Press International on August 16, 2008

World 800m champion Janeth Jepkosgei leads the field in the qualifying round of the two-lap race at the National Stadium in Beijing. Photo/ MOHAMMED AMIN

In Summary

  • 18-year-old Jelimo has come into the Olympics with a seasons best time of one minute, 54.97 seconds
  • Mozambiques veteran Maria de Lourdes Mutola also made it to Saturdays semi-finals with the fastest time in the heats

Kenyas world champion Janeth Jepkosgei and world number one this season Pamela Jelimo broke no sweat in making it to Saturdays semi-finals of the 800 metres as the eagerly-awaited Olympics track programme started at a packed Beijing National Olympics Stadium Friday.

Veronica Nyaruai eliminated from the steeplechase after being spiked at the water jump.

It was full house Friday at the Birds Nest. And understandably, at that, because the opening races included the 100 metres heats where the three fastest men in the world were in action.

The Kenyan 800m girls too enjoyed the atmosphere with 18-year-old Jelimo, who has come into the Olympics with a seasons best time of one minute, 54.97 seconds (a junior world record), comfortably striding through in her heat three which she won in 2:03.18 to go through along with second-placed Jamaican Kenia Sinclair (2:03.76) and French import Elodie Guegan (2:03.85).

Won with ease

World champion Jepkosgei ran in the final heat which she also won with ease in 1:59.72 to reach Saturdays semi-finals that will be run from 7.39 pm (2.39 pm Kenyan time) at the Birds Nest.

Mozambiques veteran Maria de Lourdes Mutola also made it to Saturdays semi-finals with the fastest time in the heats, 1:58.91, perhaps sending out signals that she is not yet headed for the pensioners queue in Maputo.

Jepkosgei, who seems to enjoy temporarily living in the shadows of the latest sensation Jelimo, sought to deflect away questions about her rivalry with the teenage sensation saying they were working as a team to win Kenyas first ever womens gold at the Olympics.

On her rivalry with Jelimo, Jepkosgei said: We are friends and she gets advice from me. I respect her and she respects me. We will have to fight for what we will get in the final. She is a very good candidate to beat and I will do my best.

Kenya suffered two casualties on the track when Nicholas Kemboi struggled in the 1,500m heats, falling off the pace and dropping out of the Olympics after finishing 11th in 3:41.56 in a heat won by South African Juan van Deventer (3:36.32).

All Africa Games champion Asbel Kiprop (3:41.28) and the impressive Augustine Choge (3:35.47) coasted into Sundays semi-final while former Kenyan, Ali Mansoor Belal (Gideon Yego), just qualified after placing sixth in this heat but qualifying due to his fast time of 3:36.84.

The unfortunate Nyaruai also failed to advance in the 3,000m steeplechase after falling in the first lap and failing to recover, finishing 12th in her heat with the other two entries, Ruth Bosibori and Eunice.

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Kenya: Muite forms new political alliance

Posted by African Press International on August 16, 2008

Safina leader Paul Muite at a past news conference. He has formed a new political party, the Progressive Parties Alliance (PROPA). Photo/ FILE

BySAM KIPLAGAT

In Summary

  • Safina leader Paul Muite forms new political alliance.
  • Alliance says it seeks a sound economic and social management of the country.

Safina leader Paul Muite has teamed up with a university students organisation and other fringe parties to form a new political alliance.

The Progressive Parties Alliance (PROPA) is a grouping of the Kenya National Youth Alliance that identifies itself with the outlawed Mungiki sect,Students Organisation of University of Nairobi (SONU), a lobby group- Bunge la Mwananchi and representatives from Sisi Kwa Sisi and Saba Saba Asili parties.

While launching the alliance at Ufungamano House, Mr Muite said it was ideologically progressive and consisted of genuine reformers, compassionate capitalists and social democrats.

He said the alliance seeks a sound economic and social management of the country.

Mr Muite said the grouping will in the next ten days open a regional office in Nakuru and start a recruitment drive. It is saddened by the widest gap between the rich and struggling majority poor.

He said the alliance draws its membership and support from the middle class, the professionals and majority poor.

Signing on behalf of Safina was Mr Muite, Mr Dan Mwangi for Sonu, Gitau Njuguna Gitau for KNYA and Sisi Kwa Sisi secretary-general Julius Mwangi.

We will fight for constitutional and legal reforms and to provide a frame work for a more just society and do away with imperial presidency, said Mr Muite.

The former MP further said they will ensure a permanent solution to the land issue and the resettlement of all internal refugees.

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Youths arrested with fake certificates at recruiting exercise

Posted by African Press International on August 16, 2008

Written By:Rose Kamau/KNA

Two young people have been arrested for presenting fake Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) documents in the on-going Armed Forces recruitment exercise.

The fake documents produced by Gitonga Solomon Migwi and Waweru W.Dickson at Ruringu Stadium in Nyeri South District lacked the KNEC water mark while the top was flat, unlike genuine ones which have grooves.

Migwi’s certificate was purpoted to have been issued by Muramati Secondary School indicating that he sat for his KCSE examination in 2005 and scored an aggregate grade of C+.

The other certificate in waweru’s name claimed he sat for the exam in 2004, and attained an aggregate grade of C+ at Muhoya Secondary School.

However Waweru told the Recruiting Officers that had somebody collected the certificate for him from the school while he was in Eldoret, and he did had no knowledhgge of it having been issued fraudulently.

Migwi also insisted he had collected the document from his former school and that it was not a forgery.

However the officers insisted the documents were fake though it was difficult for an ordinary person to differentiate them from the genuine certificates.

Meanwhile the officer in-charge of the recruitment Lt Colonel Daniel K. Pyaban said the exercise kicked off without a hitch despite the presentation of the fake documents adding that the culprits would be handed over to the police for further investigations.

Many of the candidates who turned up for the exercise were turned away for not meeting the required height of 5.3ft and a weight of 55kg for men and 50kg for females.

Others were dismissed because they didn’t have original KCSE certificates and IDs among other documents.

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The old One Hundred Kroner bill retires

Posted by African Press International on August 16, 2008

In one month, 300.000 bank notes with Camilla Colletts picture and a face value of NOK 100 (USD 20) will no longer be legal tender.

It may be time to check your piggy bank. Norwegian NOK 1 coins and NOK 100 bank notes issued before 1997 will be taken out of circulation next month.

PHOTO: SARA JOHANNESEN / SCANPIX

One Kroner coins minted before 1997 will also cease to be legal tender.

The Bank of Norway has made September 15, the last day on which this money can be exchanged.

After this the Bank no longer has a duty to cash in these coins and notes.

However, according to a press release, the bank will show some flexibility for a period after the cut-off date.

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The Norwegian women’s handball team won its fourth victory in a row, beating France by 24-34.

Posted by African Press International on August 16, 2008

The Kung Fu pupils in the opening ceremony of the Olympics have spent the last year cooped up in a military camp outside Beijing. Conditions have been bad. “They weren’t even given enough food,” says their trainer. This news adds to the criticism of the Beijing Organizing Committee.

Pupils from the Shaolin Centre in central China go to one of the best Kung Fu academies in the world. This is why they were chosen to take part in the opening ceremony at the Olympics. Their living conditions over the past year have been bad.

PHOTO: KRISTOFFER RNNEBERG

Viewers from around the globe marvelled at the Opening Ceremony last Friday. One of the most spectacular features was the martial arts display by 2008 pupils from the famous Shaolin Centre in Henan province. With coordinated movements, they showed the Tai Chi variant of Kung Fu; a popular way to relax for many Chinese people.

The skilful and well-executed show took a severe toll on many of the participants; both those who took part and the performers who were held in reserve.

Many of the martial arts performers feel abused and ignored by the Olympic organizers. For the last year, they have been housed 50 to a room, more than 70 kilometres from the Birds Nest National arena. This is where they have slept, eaten and spent all their time.

Leaving the compound around the barracks was strictly forbidden. The dormitories are crammed with bunk beds. Between 30 and 50 of the teenagers spent the night in each room. Only a few of the showers work and the toilet facilities have been bad. The winter was icy and in summer, the pupils had to battle against mosquitoes and the heat.

“After repeated complaints they finally installed air-conditioning in the sleeping quarters. However, most of the equipment was so old that it didn’t work,” says one of the pupils.

Most of the 2500 performers have been sent home after the opening ceremony. The few that remain in order to take part in the closing ceremony are extremely angry about the treatment they have received from the Olympic organizers.

“The food is the worst thing. Weve had the same two courses for dinner for a year. Sometimes there hasn’t been enough for everyone. Those who have arrived last haven’t got anything to eat,” says a pupil.

He adds that he “wants to throw up,” when the food is served.

“We never get noodles or dumplings. All we get is rice,” he says.

Another pupil describes his disappointment as he arrived in Beijing last year. “We were proud at being chosen to take part. We all had great dreams about what we were going to do, what we were going to see and what big stars we would become, but all we’ve seen is the inside of this military camp. The only thing we dream of now is going home,” he says.

Conditions have been so bad that their trainer, Kung Fu master Liu Haike, has sent a series of complaints to the Olympic organizers. The complaints did have some effect.

“In the end, the pupils got enough to eat, even if the diet was extremely monotonous,” he says to daily newspaper Aftenposten.

Liu describes pressure from the organizers as extreme. Everything had to be perfect. As result the performers had to practice up to 16 hours a day. “The test performance of the opening ceremony was worst of all. The pupils had to remain in the stadium for 51 hours. They were hardly fed. There was nowhere to sleep. Some managed to sleep on the seats, but they didn’t get more than a couple of hours at most,” says Liu.

He adds that several of the pupils got heatstroke, but their physical training meant that they got better again relatively quickly. Liu says that he felt very sorry for his pupils and the way that they were treated.

“But the organizers have promised them an Olympic certificate thanking them for their effort. They will not receive pay. Nevertheless I think that the majority will think that it was good to do what they did for the Olympics and their country,” says Liu.

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Norway beats France at handball

Posted by African Press International on August 16, 2008

The Norwegian women’s handball team won its fourth victory in a row, beating France by 24-34.

Norway beat France by ten goals in Friday’s preliminary match.

PHOTO: LEE JIN-MAN / AP

“Its good to beat France by such a big margin. I think we did well throughout the match. The second round was particularly good,” says head coach Marit Breivik.

Finally, her team met a strong opponent. However France wasn’t able to keep up with the Norwegians and faded less than 20 minutes into the match.

After this, the rest of the game was a Norwegian exercise in scoring goals. Linn-Kristin Riegelhuth and the other players didn’t stop until they had hit 34 balls into the French net.

Norway meets Romania in the last game of the preliminary round on Sunday.

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Norwegians? Beach volley women out

Posted by African Press International on August 16, 2008

For Nila Hkedal and Ingrid Trlen, the games are over. The home-favourites Tian Jia and Wang Jie were too strong and won in straight sets.

Losing to the home-team, Hkedal and Trlen are out of the Beach Volley Ball competition.

PHOTO: CORNELIUS POPPE

The Chinese players opened strongly and quickly took a 4-0 lead. The Norwegian girl’s game improved but they still lost the first set 21-13.

In the second set, Hkedal and Trlen did better. They took the lead and kept it for a while, but still ended up losing the set. The Chinese go on to the next round after winning 21-15 in the second set, and Hkedal and Trlen are out of the competition.

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Royal boat sinks

Posted by African Press International on August 16, 2008

Heavy rain and waves filled the boat belonging to Crown Prince Haakon on Thursday. The open 16-foot runabout, sank outside the family’s new summer house on the south coast near Risr.

Heavy rain and waves made the old runabout sing outside Crown Prince Haakon’s summer house.

PHOTO: LINDA NILSSEN RISELAND

“It’s not unusual for people to leave their boats on the water when they leave their summer houses,” says Risr Sheriff, Odd Holum.

“The boat is an older model which isnt self-draining. Rain can bring it low in the water and waves do the rest,” says Holum.

The boat has been taken to the local marina and the engine is being serviced after being in the water.”

Holum chuckles when he thinks of the fuss this incident has caused.

“If it had been my boat, I don’t think anyone would have worried about it very much,” he adds, pointing out that it’s an old and well-used craft.

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Illegal surveillance in the playground

Posted by African Press International on August 16, 2008

Children are increasingly being supervised at school, using closed-circuit TV. The Norwegian Data Inspectorate is strongly critical of this development.

Head teacher Steinar Strand Jensen wants to continue using CCTV to stop vandals at his school.

PHOTO: PEDER GJERSE

In 2007 all the windows were smashed at Borgheim School 120 kilomtres southwest of Oslo. The school, for 14 16 year olds, had serious problems with vandalism and costly repairs. The local authorities had had enough and installed CCTV-surveillance at the school.

“Theres no more vandalism outside, after we put up cameras. We are extremely satisfied with the way things have worked out,” says Petter E. Talleraas, who works for the local government department, which is responsible for the school buildings.

Head teacher Steinar Strand Jensen is pleased with the cameras too.

“The pupils were uncertain at first, but both the students council and the parent’s coordinating committee have given their support, says Strand Jensen.In May the Data Inspectorate (Datatilsynet) came to check the school. They uncovered serious breaches of the regulations governing the use of cameras.

“There weren’t enough signs warning that CCTV was being used. The cameras were on 24 hours a day. We think children and young people have a legitimate interest in not being under surveillance while theyre at school. Traditional methods of supervision, like having teachers outdoors in the playground, have to come first,” says Stian D. Kringlebotn who works for the Datatilsynet.

Datatilsynet also discovered that recordings were kept for longer than a seven-day period. This is against the law.

Borgheim School has told the Inspectorate that they plan to continue videoing their pupils during school hours. According to them its the buildings that are under surveillance, not the children.

Using CCTV is allowed if the data inspectorate is informed and as long as the rules are adhered to. If it isn’t necessary, camera surveillance cannot be used. If a problem can be solved without the use of cameras then the surveillance is illegal.

“Filming the children in school hours is a more difficult question. Putting up cameras without informing teachers and pupils is another serious matter,” says Ove Skra, head of the Data Directorate’s information department. Videos are used to crack down on minor infractions, such as pushing, smoking and tardiness.

The national pupil’s organization is against camera surveillance, while the parent’s association accepts it as long as all other methods have been tried.

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UN, ECOWAS investigate deaths of Ghanaians in The

Posted by African Press International on August 16, 2008

A joint United Nations-ECOWAS fact-finding team on a number of Ghanaian nationals found dead in The Gambia in 2005 was launched Friday in Abuja, according to a statement by the ECOWAS Commission issued on Friday in Abuja.

The statement said that the team, led by Mr. Curtis Ward, include a representative each appointed by the governments of The Gambia and Ghana.

According to the statement, the launching of the team was done by the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, in the presence of Mr. Sammy Kum Buo, Director of Africa II Division in the Department of Political Affairs at the United Nations headquarters in New York, and of officials of the high commissions of The Gambia and Ghana in Abuja.

According to the statement, the fact-finding team, which will be supported by experts, will be based at the headquarters of the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja.

The statement said that Mr. Ward, who was jointed appointed by the United Nations and ECOWAS, would visit The Gambia and Ghana shortly for preliminary discussions with government officials.

It said that the joint UN-ECOWAS team was established at the request of the governments of The Gambia and Ghana to facilitate efforts by both governments to bring peaceful closure to the matter.

“The final resolution of the matter will also help to restore and strengthen the traditionally cordial relations between the two countries,” it said.

In June 2005, several dead bodies of people believed to be West African illegal immigrants were found near the beach in the Gambian fishing village of Brufut, about 15 kilometres from Banjul, the capital. There was however never any official explanation as to who those people were and what caused their deaths.

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Liberian and US governments sign peace corps volunteer agreement

Posted by African Press International on August 16, 2008

The Liberian and United States governments Friday signed an agreement for the resumption of the Peace Corps Volunteer Program in Liberia.

Under the program which started in Liberia in the 1960s, the US government sends volunteers in various fields of discipline including education, health and social work.

Prior to the suspension of the program in the 1990s at the outbreak of the Liberian civil war, Peace Corps Volunteers taught in elementary and highs schools and rendered medical services in all parts of staff to help in the countrys health care program.

Liberias Foreign Minister Olubanke King Akerele, who signed the agreement on behalf of the Liberian government, said it demonstrates the importance President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf attaches to education and other social service programs.

The Charge dAffaires of the United States embassy in Monrovia said the agreement paves the way for bringing back Peace Corps Volunteers after 18 years of absence.

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An ex-general of a Liberian fighting faction denounces its former leader

Posted by African Press International on August 16, 2008

A former general of the defunct ULIMO warring faction has denounced their former chairman Alhaji Kromah for failing to admit before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that he executed some top generals of the movement.

Retired General Isaac Kamara, who spoke to reporters in Monrovia on Friday, is accordingly calling for the arrest and prosecution of the former ULIMO chairman for atrocities he and other commanders of ULIMO committed during the Liberian conflict.

Kamara has meanwhile given Kromah, now a professor of Mass Communication at the University of Liberia, two days to reappear before the TRC and show compassion for the killings of innocent people, or he himself will appear before the Commission and leak out certain secrets about the former ULIMO chairman.

Kamara has meanwhile added his voice to calls for the setting up of a War Crimes Court in Liberia.

Mr Kromah, who appeared before the ongoing thematic and institutional hearings for two days earlier this week, denied committing atrocities, saying he did not come to settle scores with anybody, but to stop Charles Taylors erstwhile NPFL from seizing power by force of arms.

However, a group calling itself Former Generals of ULIMO has rebutted claims by Isaac Kamara, saying instead that Alhaji Kromah contributed immensely to the search for peace in Liberia.

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