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Archive for August 18th, 2008

Pakistan’s Musharraf announces resignation

Posted by African Press International on August 18, 2008

ByREUTERS

In Summary

  • Musharraf announces resignation in the face of an impending impeachment.
  • Pakistani stocks rise 4 percent on announcement.
  • Musharraf seized power in a 1999 coup but has been isolated since his allies lost a February election.

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Nuclear-armed Pakistan’s beleaguered President Pervez Musharraf announced his resignation on Monday in the face of an impending impeachment motion by the ruling coalition government.

The former army chief and firm U.S. ally has seen his popularity slide over the past 18 months and has been isolated since his allies lost a February election.

“After consultations with legal advisers and close political supporters and on their advice, I’m taking the decision of resigning,” Musharraf said a televised address.

“My resignation will go to the speaker of the National Assembly today.”

The coalition government, led by the party of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, said on August 8 it planned to impeach Musharraf.

The powerful army, which has ruled for more than half the country’s 61-year history, has publicly kept out of the controversy over its old boss.

No unrest was expected as a result of the increasingly unpopular leader’s resignation.

Investors in Pakistan’s financial markets — while appreciating Musharraf’s investor-friendly rule which, until this year, saw strong growth and surging stocks — were expected to welcome his resignation as heralding an end to political uncertainty.

Pakistani stocks rose 4 percent on the announcement.

Prolonged jockeying and uncertainty over Musharraf’s position has hurt Pakistan’s financial markets and raised concern in Washington and among other allies it is distracting from efforts to control violent militants in the nuclear-armed nation.

CHARGES

The ruling coalition had prepared impeachment charges against Musharraf focusing on violation of the constitution and misconduct.

Coalition officials had hoped Musharraf would quit to avoid impeachment while some allies have said he should at least answer charges brought against him before stepping down.

Officials from Saudi Arabia, as well as the United States and Britain, have been involved in negotiations aimed at ending the confrontation between Musharraf and the government.

The United States, which has relied on Musharraf for Pakistani cooperation in its campaign against terrorism, had said the question of Musharraf’s future was for Pakistanis to decide.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Sunday that Musharraf has been a “good ally”, but she declined to say whether he would receive U.S. asylum if he stepped down.

“This is an issue that is not on the table,” Rice said in an interview with Fox News.

Musharraf seized power in a 1999 coup but has been isolated since his allies lost a February election.

All four provincial assemblies passed resolutions in recent days pressing him to resign and several old allies have joined the campaign against him.

(With additional reporting from Koh Gui Qing in Karachi; Writing by Robert Birsel; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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Raila’s face to face crucial meeting with the Kipsigis leaders

Posted by African Press International on August 18, 2008

News Analysis By Leo Odera Omolo In Kericho Town.

THE Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga last week end came face to face with his fiercest opponents and critics in the South Rift.

It is understood Raila had moved top the South Rift with intention of quelling the growing opposition and discontent about his party the ODM.

The PM, according to those privy with the information about the South Rift current politics came to Kericho with intention to patch up cordial relationship with the ever increasing opposition from members of the Kipsigis community

Raila has in the recent past come under severe criticism by the Kipsigis people, a sub-tribe of the larger Kalenjin ethnic group. This is the community which had given the ODM the largest number of votes during last years general election. It gave the ODM a total of nine MPs out of a total 30 MPs which ODM harvested in the entire Rift Valley Province.

The meeting was held at the Tea Research Institute, which is located about 12 km east of Kericho town and situated right in the middle of the controversy ridden Mau Forest Complex.

Some of the contentious issues about the 400,000 hectares multibillion dollar Mau Forest Complex is Kenyas biggest forest block and East Africas block of closed canopy indigenous forest.

It is home to more than 45 different bird species and close 20,000 families live there. It is also the source of survival of thousands of Game animals in the famous Maasai Mara Game Park in Kenyan and the Serengeti National Park in the neighbouring Tanzania. s

The encroach has put to risk an asset worth more than Kshs 20 billion and is threatening the survival of several important rivers that empty waters into Lake Victoria.

According to informed source, the meeting was supposed to have been attended by all cabinet members from the Rift Valley Province, but none was in attendance except two Ministers, James Orengo (Lands} and Chris M. Obure{Works} all from Nyanza Province. The latter being the one who is currently acting as the Roads Minister in place of the late Ki[kalya Kones who perished in an aircraft accident in June together with the former Assistant Minister for Home Affairs Ms Lorna Laboso.

But we have been informed by those who are privy to the current Kalenjin politics of survival that the PM was tricked into a trap by none other than his cabinet colleague William Ruto {Agriculture} as part of the wider scheme to clip Railas wings in the South Rift region ahead of the next general election.

After the retired PRESIDENT Daniel Arap Mo, the Eldoret North MP William Ruto has since taken over the mantle of political leadership as the new political king ping of the Kalenjin community in particular and the entire Rift Valley Province in general. Ruto, according to the same source is not very comfortable with the enormous support the PM is currently enjoying in the region as he said to bge scheming himself to contest the Premiership or presidency comes 2012.

At the same time die-hard Raila supporter in the South Rift region have trashed the Kericho meeting saying it was hurriedly organized with intention of causing some embarrassment and ridiculing with ill-motive of making him seen as an enemy of the Kiopsigis who is out to marginalize the community in favour of the Kikuyus.

One of Raila staunch supporters is Lt. Gen {rtd}John Koech who claimed that Raila genuine supporters in Kipsigis region were kept in darkness and were not invited. Agwambo is still commanding big support in the region. But who invited to the weekend Kericho meeting were agents of Moi , Ruto axis.

Those in attendance were MPs Franklin Bett{Buret}, Charles Keter {Belgut}, Magerer Langs {Kipkellion}, Isaac Ruto{Chepalungu} Zakayo K. Cheruiyot {Kuresoi}, Benjamin Langat{Ainamoi}, Julius Kones {Konoin}. Also in attendance were two former MPs who lost their seats during last years general election. They include Nick Salat former Bomet MP and Pal K.M Sang the former MinIster for Hleath who had previously served as the MP for Buret.

Raila was served with a petition whose contents were not made public. But insiders said the petition was merely expressing the communitys displeasure about the contentious Mau Forest eviction and poor division of cabinet slots, the dismissal of Kipsigis people holding key jobs in the civil service, armed forces and parastatal organizations.

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The leaders had threatened to withdraw their support for Raila and ODM in the next general election if he did not address their concerns.The leaders had alleged that the grand coalition government was biased towards the Kipsigis people over the division of the cabinet slots and the sacking en masse of their people from civil service and other quasi-government organizations and their alleged replacement by Kikuyus and Luos.

Apart from the Mau Forest Complex, the South Rift residents were also not happy with the power sharing arrangement in the grand coalition, the thorny issue of suspects of the post-election violence.

Although the PM promised to address those issues, the present at the meeting were not satisfied and left the venue very disappointed.

South Rift region has been one of Mr. Odingas political stronghold, and given that he is the one who called the weekend meeting to explain the government position on a number of issues affecting the region, it was not lost on anybody that the PM is keen to maintain the status quo by way of reconciling himself with the people of the region. This is at this particular time when the region is facing two crucially important parliamentary by-elections to fill the two vacant seats left by Kones and Laboso

The observers and political pundits were not amused, but accurately predicted that Railas mission was a quiet diplomatic and political manoeuvres to drum up the support for his ODM in the forthcoming by-elections scheduled for September 24th, 2008. Preliminaries will be held on August 24 in order to give the4 aspirants one month of intensive campaign for votes.

Speaker after speaker told Raila in his face that the residents of the South Rift region were not happy with his leadership.

We supported you fully in the last general election and even voted out some of our best MPs because of you, but you are now being used by those who denied you victory to harass our people retorted Mzee Bartany Arap Milgo, a highly respected Kipsigis elder.

Mzee Milgo was wildly cheered when he told the PM that the previous KANU and Narc regimes had the knowledge of the peoples settlement and were responsible for issuance of land title deeds to the settlers, and the community was now wondering why, it is Raila their favourite son who is being ill-advised to remove the settlers from their legally acquired farms.

Mzee Milgo warned Agwambo to his face saying We shall mobilize our people not to support you in any future election if you allow our people to be harassed and removed from their legally acquired farms. We are closely monitoring your moves and intention, said Mzee Milgo amid prolonged applause.

The elderly Mzee Milgo told Raila that the Kipsigis community which had previously made him {Raila} a Kipsigis elder and named him Arap Mibei {which is loosely translated as the son of the lake} will withdraw his eldershipand stop calling Arap Mibei if he executed the eviction. There will be no need to regard Raila as one of their on sons if he betrays them over Mau Forest issue.

Raila Odinga who looked shaken and embarrassed sat pensively between the Buret MP Franklin Bett and MP Benjamin Langat.

The name Arap Mibei is a morans name which was given to Raila by the community elders in the run up to last Decembers general election to symbolize that he was he was one of their own. It servers the ODM perfectly well when the slogan became the rallying point of massive support for the party which scouped all the eight parliamentary seats in the Kipsigis land.

On complaints about the division of cabinet slots, Raila told the legislator who have petitioned the government over the cabinet posts that Obure was acting in place of the late Kones because there is nobody who has the title of a full cabinet Minister in the region. Charles Keter who is an Assistant Minister could not be made acting the Minister. The regulation requires only serving full cabinet member ot act in a vacant ministerial positions. But it will be rectified soon after the by-elections.

He said squatters have to be moved from the Mau complex, assuring his audience that they will be given alternative land to settle, and that there will be no police harassment.

Ends

Leooderaomolo@yahoo.com

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13 million US dollars to improve energy supply in Togo

Posted by African Press International on August 18, 2008

TOGOLESE MINISTER FOR FINANCE AYASSOR (LEFT) AND EBID PRESIDENT ADOVELANDE (RIGHT)

Togos search for self-sufficiency in its energy supplies and distribution scored a major break-through when the Ecowas Bank for Investment and Development, EBID, came to the rescue with a loan agreement valued at 13 million US Dollars.
This represents 89 per cent of the total financial resources required by the Togo government to improve its energy distribution network throughout the country.
TOGOLESE MINISTER FOR FINANCE AYASSOR EXCHANGING DOCUMENT WITH EBID PRESIDENT ADOVELANDE AFTER LOAN SIGNATORY

The loan agreement was signed between EBID and the Togo government on Thursday in Lom.In a short address, Mr. Christian Adovelande , President of EBID said there is no need to minimise the importance of energy especially electricity in the economic and social development of a nation as its place in the wheel of activities creating wealth helps to improve the standard of living of the people .
In the energy sector any delays in undertaking appropriate investments in the right direction or any attempt to improvise by making the wrong choices could be costly or lead to insufficiencies in the delivery of good quality service, he declared.
He said that any lopsided approach to investment in the energy sector could pose obstacles to the pace of development as well as the disruption of social peace.
Mr Adovelande said far from being a luxury , access to sufficient and high quality energy supplies has become a matter of national security.
Mr Adovelande praised the Togo government for taking this imperative measure by this loan agreement to engage in the project of rehabilitation and extension of the distribution network of the Togo Electric Company, CEET.
He said the viability of the project played a major role in influencing EBID to be associated with its financing at the cost of 13 million US Dollars, about 89 per cent of the total cost of the projects.
On his part , the Togolese Minister for Economy and Finance ,Adji Otteh Ayassor explained that the project of rehabilitation and extension of the network of supply of electric energy in 60 important towns and the rural communities of Togo constitute the second phase of the five-year investment programme of the Togolese Electric Energy Company, CEET.
Minister Ayassor also explained that the finance of the project will be complemented by the Togolese government with 1,6 million US Dollars.
He said that when completed the project will restore a satisfactory supply of electricity to all existent clients by reducing the low voltage of electric energy by 30 to 15 per cent in all the towns of the northern parts of the country and also assure high quality supply for clients.
The project will link up the numerous potential clients and existing ones while complementing electric networks in order to increase the access rate of the households to the public electric services the Togolese Minister for Economy and Finance said.
According to Mr Ayassor this project is aimed at increasing the actual electric energy access rate from 13 to 16 per cent in the next decade as well as improving the quality of life of the urban and rural populations in Togo.
This project will also assure a qualitative and rational exploitation of the energy supply network by the Togolese Electric Energy Company by reducing the persistent incidents of electric power shortages and cuts, he added.
According to the Togolese Minister for Energy and Mines, Damipi Noukoukpo The project when completed will supply electric energy to about 50 communities in Togo.
Present at the loan signing ceremony were, the Togolese Minister for Cooperation , Development and Rural administration Gilbert Bawara, and the Togolese Minister for Agriculture Ewovor Mensah.
The loan agreement brings the total investment portfolio between the Ecowas Bank for Investment and Development in Togo to 62 million US Dollars.
In the West African sub-region EBID has so far invested a total amount of 561 million US Dollars to finance various projects.

By Ekoue Blame ,lome

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My full support goes now to Raila Odinga as PM after he recognised the importance of circumciscion

Posted by African Press International on August 18, 2008

It was good news that came across from the Prime Minister of Kenya Mr Raila Odinga. My support for his leadership has been rekindled now that he has recognised the importance of circumciscion in connection with health improvement within the male circles.

For the PM to call for uncircumscised men to get closer to the knife for a good cut that will give them better health will not go unsupported by me and those who have all along known this fact. Now the PM gets my full support on this subject and due to this, I have no more hesitation in giving him my support in politics of vision.

The public should now stop being divided any longer and give the PM the necessary support so that he may lead unthwarted and continue to preach development for all Kenyans and through good behaviour of being circumscised observe healthy habits so that Kenya reduces the spread of HIV/AIDs.

When the PM took over the chair to lead the Kenyans in his present role, I had my doubts, just as there were many others who did the same. The PM has moved forward slowly and carefully in his efforts to show that he is able to lead the country. However, it has not been easy to understand everything he does and yet recently, starting with Mau Forest, going on to The Mombasa Ports issuing correct directives, and the fact that he went to the Kipsigis land and faced the leaders there in a discussion aimed at correcting and balancing things, finally now telling the public the importance of being circumscised – the PM has proved his case beyond reasonable doubt, that he can be relied upon to develop Kenya for the interest of uplifting the living standards forthe Kenyans and those who wish to be associated with Kenya.

By Korir, Chief Editor – African Press International – API

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Researchers Call for Male Circumcision to Reduce Spread of HIV in Africa

Posted by African Press International on August 18, 2008

Male circumcision should be actively encouraged to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa, a non-profit group urged the XVIIth annual International AIDS Conference this past week. The conference, which took place in Mexico City, focused on current trends in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.

The non-profit organization Population Services International, which investigates and advocates on behalf of the health needs of low-income populations in the developing world, presented new evidence in favor of circumcision programs, particularly for sub-Saharan Africa, where two-thirds of the world’s 33 million HIV+ people live. The information once again puts the focus on a controversial and emotional area of HIV/AIDS prevention.

Circumcision is a controversial procedure even in the U.S., where roughly 60 percent of newborns are circumcised. In Africa, rates are much lower. Web sites like the Circumcision Resource Center have sprung up to voice a growing chorus of concerns that the practice of circumcision constitutes unnecessary genital mutilation; that it traumatizes infants; and that it reduces sexual pleasure for adult men. Over time, even American rates of circumcision, though still high, have fallen off somewhat as parents see less need for the procedure.

Yet for some time, it has also been clear that circumcision substantially lowers the risk of HIV infection. The World Health Organization asserts that, “There is now strong evidence from three randomized controlled trials undertaken in Kisumu, Kenya, Rakai District, Uganda and Orange Farm, South Africa that male circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men by approximately 60%.” Yet with regard to Africa, the list of concerns about circumcision broaden beyond the medical to the cultural and logistical, including questions about identifying safe practitioners to perform the procedure, the potentially subordinate social status of circumcised men, and the suspicious reactions of governments that see no purpose in the procedure. Last month, for example, the Elders of Kenya’s Luo community chose to reject a Kenyan Ministry of Health program to encourage male circumcisions, citing doubt about the procedure’s effectiveness and an unwillingness to disturb their traditional cultural practices, which did not include male circumcision.

PSI’s presentation at the AIDS Conference attempted to overwhelmingly counter these concerns. Citing evidence amassed from several different studies, Dvora Joseph, Acting Director of PSI’s HIV Department, and Dr. Robert Bailey of the University of Illinois, Chicago, who co-authored some of the relevant research, offered a host of reasons to press governments and communitieslike the Luo of Kenyato join circumcision programs. One major concern involves access to safe circumcisions. A program initiated by PSI in Zambia has, according to Joseph, had overwhelming success training low-level health workers to perform male circumcisions as part of a comprehensive prevention and education program. The idea is to create a broad base of qualified practitioners for the procedure, without putting strain on the existing medical system.

“As news gets out about the efficacy of male circumcision, we need to meet that demand with quality services and a comprehensive HIV prevention approach, and scale up male circumcision as an ethical, human rights issue,” Joseph said, pointing out that in Zambia there are waiting lists of up to two months for the procedure. This can lead to potentially dangerous proceduresa problem that will grow as the demand increases. “Just by word of mouth, the demand is so great that already men are going to unqualified practitioners and experiencing serious complications,” Joseph said. “We must scale up our response rapidly to meet the demand for safe circumcision services.”

Dr. Bailey, a researcher at the University of Illinois, Chicago, presented research related to the physical and social effects of circumcision. His research group in Kenya is presenting a report to the conference demonstrating the results of a study of 2,784 participants, comparing sexual function between circumcised and uncircumcised men over a two-year period. His conclusions are likely to be controversial. The research reports that, “Circumcision status was not associated with any sexual dysfunction or with specific sexual dysfunctions (premature ejaculation, pain during intercourse, erectile dysfunction) at follow-up visits.”

As Dr. Bailey elaborated at a press conference, “And in fact, circumcised men did report greater penile sensitivity after circumcision,” countering the oft-reported decrease in sensitivity on the part of circumcised men. Bailey’s research on sexual function post-circumcision comes on the heels of his research, reiterated at the PSI event, demonstrating that there is no increase in sexual risk-taking by men who have been circumcised. In a study published in the Public Library of Science, Bailey and his colleagues found that, after intensive counseling to warn them that they were still able to contract HIV, there was no increase in risk-taking among 1,319 recently circumcised men. When circumcision is accompanied by education and other forms of support, Bailey said, “the results of this study suggest that HIV risk behaviors are unlikely to increase. They may even decline as we saw in our study.”

PSI emphasizes that circumcision should be part of a broad-based prevention program, and should be encouraged in the hardest-hit parts of the world. “Based on the existing body of evidence, and our experience implementing male circumcision to strengthen our prevention efforts, we are asking the international community to help national governments and their partners to introduce male circumcision wherever HIV prevalence is greatest and circumcision rates are lowestin the nations of eastern and southern Africa,” said Joseph. Widespread use of male circumcision in sub-Saharan Africa could, the researchers estimate, prevent two million infections in the next 10 years and save as many as four million lives over the next 20 years.

The implications of the circumcision discussion for gay men and the West remain unclear. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, “Studies to date have demonstrated efficacy only for penile-vaginal sex, the predominant mode of HIV transmission in Africa, whereas the predominant mode of sexual HIV transmission in the United States is by penile-anal sex among MSM [men who have sex with men].”

The American Foundation for AIDS Research complained about a gay-straight HIV information gap at the conference this week, pointing out that 44 percent of countries worldwide have failed to provide any statistical data on AIDS and gay men, despite the fact that gay men are 19 times more likely to contract HIV than their heterosexual counterparts. For gay men, the current research indicates that the efficacy of circumcision will depend in part on the sex practices each man engages in.

According to the CDC, “Receptive anal sex is associated with a substantially greater risk of HIV acquisition than is insertive anal sex. It is more biologically plausible that male circumcision would reduce HIV acquisition risk for the insertive partner rather than for the receptive partner, but few MSM engage solely in insertive anal sex.” Given the lower infection rates in the U.S., and the demographic concentration of infections in the gay community, calls for widespread circumcisions are likely to continue to focus on Africa for the time being.

Article coutesy of RealJock.com

Related story:

Raila roots for male circumcision – The PM wants uncircumcised groups in Kenya to face the cut for healthreasons

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SADC respects Botswana stance

Posted by African Press International on August 18, 2008

By Edward Robert

JOHANNESBURG - Zambia has joined Botswana in condemning the recent one-man presidential election in Zimbabwe.
Zambias Foreign Minister, Mr Kabinga Mpande, said his country regretted the circumstances under which Zimbabweans found themselves in.
Addressing the SADC summit on behalf of the ailing Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, Mr Mpande said his country was against the spiral of violence that preceded the recent Zimbabwean poll.
Such a situation, he said, augured ill for the promotion of a democratic culture in the SADC region.
Mr Mpande however expressed hope that ongoing power-sharing talks would produce desired results. This situation, he said, threatened to dent the positive image following such happenings as the peaceful transfer of power from former president Festus Mogae to General Khama in Botswana.
Other good development he cited were the political progress made in the Democratic Republic og Congo, Lesotho and Malawi.
He expressed optimism that parliamentary elections to be held in Angola next month would be held under a peaceful atmosphere.
Zambia is the only other country that had been vocal on the Zimbabwean issue with its president Mr Levy Mwanawasa at some point comparing the country to a sinking titanic.
Botswana has not accepted the outcome of the elections, eventually refusing to acknowledge the presidency of Mr Robert Mugabe. It is this stance that led to Botswana boycotting the summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) that ended in South Africa yesterday.
South African President Mr Thabo Mbeki, now the chairman of the regional bloc, told the summit that Zimbabweans were expecting a lot from the meeting in relation to a solution of the problems in their country.
He urged SADC leaders to rise to the expectation, taking leaf from the founding fathers of the then Frontline States who confronted problems of their times head-on.
As a family of nations, Mr Mbeki, said SADC member states needed to stand together and help Zimbabwe to recover.
The Zimbabwe issues has been the main focus of the summit, with reports that Mr Mbeki, who is SADC-appointed peace broker was hoping to seal a deal among Zimbabwes warring factions in that country before the close of the summit.
Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, and Arthur Mutambara, leader of the smaller MDC formation attended the SADC summit.
Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Phandu Skelemani, said Botswanas non-attendance at the regional meeting was not meant to spoil SADC but a principled position, saying by treating Mr Mugabe as president, SADC was sending conflicting messages to its own people. He said Mr Mugabe flaunted the principles of SADC governing elections.
South African minister for foreign Affairs, Dr Nkosasana Dlamini-Zuma said SADC respected the decision President Lt Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama to stay away from the meeting of the regional bloc. This is in protest over the invitation of ZANU-PF leader, Mr Robert Mugabe, to attend the summit as president of Zimbabwe.
Dr Dlamini-Zuma who is also chairperson of the SADC Council of Ministers told a press briefing on the eve of the summit that Botswana is a sovereign state and has the right to make sovereign decisions such as the one they have made regarding their participation at this summit.
She said it was in the nature of multilateral organisations that members participate at whatever level they want but the work continues and decisions will be made which are binding to the members.
Asked whether Botswanas non-attendance has not embarrassed the host country, South Africas chief diplomat said President Khama was not coming for bilateral talks with South Africa but for a SADC meeting.
This is all about SADC, not us as a country, she said.
Dr Dlamini-Zuma said SADC was approaching the crisis in Zimbabwe in a way agreed upon by SADC, and was optimistic a breakthrough was eminent.
The talks are still going on, she added. Until finalised, it is work in progress. There is no power sharing now, but the talks are going on until we find the solution.
She Mr Mugabe, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC and Mr Author Mutambara of an MDC breakaway faction could not be invited to the summit as equals because SADC is an inter-government-organization and not an inter political party organization
However, Mr Skelemani said he did not think there would be any decisions made on behalf of Botswana that would not be in the countrys best interest.
Our officials have been attending meetings here and most of the issues they discussed have been agreed upon by the political leadership, except the protocol on gender, he said in an interview on Saturday. Therefore there is not going to be any new thing that will be agreed on that we do not know.
Mr Skelemani said Botswana was not protesting against SADC but was making a statement of principle.
We have nothing against SADC, he explained. They have a right to treat Mugabe the way they want although they appear to be saying despite the fact that this man has failed to gain popular vote, we will still regard him as a president.
He emphasised Botswanas position that the negotiating parties in the Zimbabwean political crisis be treated as equals. This is until they agreed on the leadership of their country.
The political crisis in Zimbabwe reached greater heights in March when MDC failed to secure the required majority in the presidential elections.
This led to a run-off which MDC boycotted citing violence and intimidation of its members and supporters by ZANU-PF functionaries. Mr Mugabes party went on with the one-party, one-man election , with Mr Mugabe subsequently declared the winner. BOPA

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Posted by African Press International on August 18, 2008

The Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir is taking great risks with his plans to travel to Turkey early next week in what represents his first overseas trip since the International Criminal Court (ICC) clamped indictment on him for genocide in Darfur, diplomatic sources warned Friday.

Official sources in London state Friday that Bashir would head Sudans delegation to the Turkish-African summit, being attended by several heads of state, which will be held through August 19-20 in Istanbul.

Turkey is a NATO-member state, but the country has not ratified the treaty forming the ICC despite being put under pressure to become a member as part of negotiations to join the European Union.

One diplomat has commented on Bashirs Turkey trip as very risky coinciding with the resumption of the court, currently in recess until August 18.

The whole world knows al-Bashir as a risk-taker. But travelling to Turkey in the face of ongoing ICC arrest warrant being issued while he is in Istanbul, could be one of the greatest risks he has ever taken in life, a European diplomat commented.

ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo had earlier prevailed on the ICC to issue an arrest warrant for Bashir on charges of genocide, war crimes and other atrocities against humanity in Darfur, arguing his state apparatus had killed several people in Darfur.

Though Sudanese and regional players have raised concerns that the ICC mission could derail the peace process in Africas largest country, human rights groups were united in their approval, hailing the move as a blow to impunity.

The UN statistics estimate some 200,000 people have died with another 2.5 million driven from their homes since mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms in early 2003 accusing the central government in Khartoum of neglect and abuse.

But the authorities in Khartoum have consistently blamed the western media for exaggerating the conflict and puts the death toll at not more than 10,000.

Khartoum signed the Rome treaty forming the ICC but never ratified it.

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Raila dragged into attack on Obama

Posted by African Press International on August 18, 2008

Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Senator Barack Obama.

ByKEVIN J. KELLEY, Saturday Nation Correspondent, New York

Prime Minister Raila Odinga has been thrust into the thick of the American presidential campaign in a new book being used to attack Democratic candidate Barack Obama.

The book, in which Kenya features prominently, depicts Mr Obama as a covert sympathiser of radical Islam and communism.

It has become the number-one best-selling book in the US, although it is typical of many politically biased books published during US elections for propaganda purposes.

Similar best selling attacks were published about former presidents Reagan and Clinton during their campaigns to reach the White House. Perhaps significantly both went on to win the presidency.

In May, right-wing activists in the US had attempted to use Senator Obamas Kenyan links to discredit him. The activists had claimed that Mr Obama is Mr Odingas relative, whom they described as a socialist who planned to introduce Sharia Law in Kenya.

The allegations were motivated by a chain e-mail from Celeste Davis, an American missionary who, together with her husband, Mr Loren Davis, claimed to have worked in Kenya for 12 years. However, their scheme failed and Mr Obama went on to win the Democratic nomination against Senator Hillary Clinton.

This latest book The Obama Nation, a deliberate play on the word abomination written by Jerome Corsi contains many inaccuracies and distortions.

Mr Corsi, a well-known right-wing author, uses Mr Odinga in particular as a means of attacking Senator Obama on the two fronts of radical Islam and communism.

The Prime Minister, portrayed as a close associate of Senator Obama, is described as a Muslim sympathiser with well-known communist political roots.

At one point in the book, the author suggests that Mr Odinga might be a Muslim, even though, the book states, he today professes to be an Anglican.

Mr Odingas spokesman, Mr Salim Lone, last night trashed the allegations, saying: You would think that the PMs four months in office, and the role he played in restoring peace to Kenya and reconciling our people would have finally shamed into silence all of Mr Odingas demonisers.

The new book also attacks Mr Barack Obama Snr, the senators father, who came from Siaya in Nyanza and who died in 1982.

The elder Obama is referred to as an alcoholic polygamist and a Muslim who gravitated to the more extreme communist position openly advocated by and identified with Oginga Odinga.

Mr Corsi was co-author of a book published during the 2004 US presidential campaign that is thoughtto have contributed significantly to the defeat of Democratic Party candidate John Kerry.

Like The Obama Nation, Corsis earlier work, Unfit for Command, portrays its target as a radical leftist who misrepresented his past to deceive American voters.

Unfit for Command took specific aim at Senator Kerrys decorated service during the Vietnam war on a US Navy swift boat.

The Obama Nation shows clearly that Mr Corsi is now seeking to swift-boat the African-American senator who is set to be formally nominated later this month as the Democratic Partys 2008 presidential candidate.

The book distorts Senator Obamas political views and associations often by means of inaccuracies in an attempt to destroy his image as a new-style politician able to bridge cultural, racial and ideological divides.

Senator Kerry lashed back at Unfit for Command, but his campaigns response was considered slow and inadequate. Senator Obamas camp, by contrast, launched a full-scale counterattack on The Obama Nation within a couple of days of the books appearance in shops throughout the US.

Detailed refutations of many of the claims in the book are posted on an Internet site sponsored by the senators campaign: http://www.FightTheSmears.com.

Vowing to respond to these smears forcefully with all the means at our disposal, Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor declared on Thursday: Jerome Corsi is a discredited liar who is peddling another piece of garbage to continue the Bush-Cheney politics he helped perpetuate four years ago.

A recipient of a PhD from Harvard University, Mr Corsi works as a staff reporter for WorldNetDaily.com, a right-wing website that circulates conspiracy theories and outlandish reports involving monsters and end-of-the-world prophecies.

Mr Corsi says early in The Obama Nation that Kenya will play a key part in his account because Barack Obama himself tells us that Kenya is an important part of who he is, even today. The book offers a series of questions based on the Senators alleged links to Mr Odinga.

It asks, for example: If Obama were to be involved in Kenyan politics as US president, would his political goal simply be to stop violence, such as that which erupted after the recent election?

“Or would Obama seek to advance the same policy goals that his tribesman Odinga has in his co-presidency with Kibaki?

Near the books close, Mr Corsi asks Americans to consider: If Obama continues to support Odinga as Prime Minister, is he therefore accepting or condoning the post-election violence that brought Odinga to power, and a radical agenda from the left that would expand Islam in Kenya?

The books first chapter focuses on Obama Snr because, Mr Corsi explains, Barack Obama introduced himself to the American public with a book about his father.

That 1995 autobiography was entitled Dreams from My Father, so Mr Corsi entitles this chapter Myths from His Father.

Mr Corsi argues in The Obama Nation that the senator downplayed or tried to hide his fathers alcoholism and polygamy in the 1995 book.

In response, the FightTheSmears.com website cites page numbers in Dreams from My Father in which those issues are discussed.

The elder Obamas death in a Nairobi car accident was caused by his drunkenness, Mr Corsi writes.

Much is made of the Muslim heritage of the senators father. Mr Corsi writes that the Obama family in Africa is a Muslim family of the predominantly Christian Luo tribe in the predominantly Christian country of Kenya.

By repeatedly drawing connections between Senator Obama and Islam, Mr Corsi is playing upon anti-Muslim sentiments in the US that remain widespread and acute in the aftermath of the 2001 terror attacks on New York and Washington.

Senator Obama is in fact a practising Christian, but Mr Corsi implies that this religious affiliation may be a faade.

The Obama Nation delves into Kenyas history, mainly through an account of the tribal and political roles played by Jomo Kenyatta, Tom Mboya and Oginga Odinga.

Despite the publishers claim that Mr Corsi carried out meticulous research, he gets some facts wrong in his analysis of Kenyan politics.

He says, for example, that the Orange Democratic Movement took its name from the Orange Revolution in Ukraine rather than from the fruit used as the ballot symbol for opposition to the constitutional proposals rejected in a 2005 referendum.

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Secrets of Kibaki and Raila working style

Posted by African Press International on August 18, 2008

President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga have found a well-coordinated system of working that has led to a new drive to achieve results in delivering services to wananchi. Photo/FILE

ByBERNARD NAMUNANE

In Summary

  • President and the PM had agreed on wide-ranging changes in parastatals and embassies, sources say
  • New chief executive officers of the parastatals would be appointed in the next two weeks
  • President and the PM have also been monitoring Cabinet ministers’ performance and are likely to make changes after the Sept 25 by-elections

President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga have found a well-coordinated system of working that has led to a new drive to achieve results in delivering services to wananchi.

The rapport has been credited for the recent far-reaching directives on how to improve services at the Kenya Ports Authority and the push to remove farmers from water catchment areas in the Mau Forest.

It has also led to improved relationships between the private sector and the Government.

Wide-ranging

Sources close to the two leaders said the President and the PM had agreed on wide-ranging changes in parastatals and embassies. The changes are expected to be implemented in the next two weeks.

In recent weeks, Mr Odinga has been increasingly playing a key role in the affairs of the Government in line with the National Accord and Reconciliation Act, which gave the PM power to supervise and co-ordinate the affairs of government.

While the President serves as the chairman of all Cabinet meetings, the PM presides over various sub-committees of the Cabinet that deal with specific issues including corruption, finance and infrastructure. This was evident when the Prime Minister chaired the Cabinet sub-committee on Finance and Planning that investigated the controversial sale of the Grand Regency Hotel.

The Prime Minister and the President normally hold consultations on all important Government issues, said Mr Odingas spokesman, Mr Salim Lone.

According to sources, the meetings are held every Wednesday at Harambee House, a day before the Cabinet meets. A senior official said that the meetings normally last at least two hours.

The President has given the Prime Minister space to operate freely. The two have a warm respectful friendship, said the official.

According to him, the simultaneous directives by the President and PM on the operations of KPA last week was evidence that the two were working closely.

While Mr Odinga was making his announcements in Mombasa, the President issued a statement from Harambee House after meeting with ministers heading infrastructure based ministries.

Before Mr Odinga flew to the Coast, he had met the President at Harambee House where it was agreed that there was need for change at Mombasa port.

Referring to the signing of performance contracts, Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Martha Karua said that the PM was playing his rightful role in the Grand Coalition. According to her, the President and the PM have a good working relationship.

The Prime Minister has been at the forefront in signing performance contracts for ministries and parastatals. That is in line with what is expected of him in the National Accord, she said.

Energy assistant minister Charles Keter said the Grand Coalition was holding together in spite of the fierce political rivalry that existed between PNU and ODM. The President and the Prime Minister are working well, he said.

Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo said that the PM had been given enough room by the President to carry out his duties. So far so good. (President) Kibaki has no problem and has agreed to work with the Prime Minister. Raila has a lot of room to operate, he says.

Similar sentiments were expressed by German ambassador Walter Lindner who said that contrary to fears expressed by their respective supporters, President Kibaki and Mr Odinga were working well.

The cooperation between (President) Kibaki and (PM) Raila seems to run well. It is always thought that because they represent two major parties, their relationship could be frosty. But the President and the Prime Minister appear so confident in their daily duties, he said.

Investigations by the Nation revealed that the position taken by the PM on the soon-to-be named chief executive of KPA has been agreed on between him and the President.

Sources said Mr Odinga had expressed his misgivings about the performance of majority of the parastatals and had agreed with the President that radical changes were needed to re-energise State corporations.

It is significant that the PM recently chaired a meeting with the private sector chiefs during which reforms needed to improve efficiency were agreed on.

Appointed

Sources said that new chief executive officers of the parastatals would be appointed in the next two weeks to coincide with the new appointments of ambassadors that the President and the PM have been working on.

The President and the PM have also been monitoring and discussing the performance of Cabinet ministers and are likely to make changes after the September 25 by-elections in Bomet and Sotik.

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Kenya: Jepkorir wins silver as Kogo settles for bronze

Posted by African Press International on August 18, 2008

By Omulo Okoth In Beijing

A silver medal by Eunice Jepkorir and bronze by Micah Kogo boosted Kenyas medal tally to threeon the third day of athletics action.

Catherine Ndereba had started the day with marathon silver in one of the most conducive weather conditions since the games started 10 days ago.

With Asbel Kiprop and Augustine Choge making the mens 1,500m final, Kenyans certainly had reason to celebrate.

People thought they had no chance, but the 10,000m trio of Kogo, Moses Masai and Martin Irungu Mathathi chased the Ethiopians to the end and Kenenisa Bekele, who retained the title in a new Olympic record of 27:01.17.

Bekele finished ahead of perennial bridesmaid Sileshi Sihine (27:02.77).

Masai sprinted past Tadese on the line to finish fourth in 27:04.11, same time as Kogo, but separated by a photo-finish, followed by Haile Gebrselassie (27:06.68) and Mathathi (27:08.25).

end result

Had Mathathi not tripped and fallen in the seventh lap, thus using too much energy to catch up, the end result would probably have been different.

The Eritreans set the early pace, with Zersenay Tadese looking the more dangerous.

Ethiopians, too, plotted to take off earlier as they did in Athens, with Gebreselassie, who had hoped for a third Olympic title (1996, 2000), showing superb form.

But Kenyans and Qatars Hassan Abdullah (formerly Albert Chepkirui) and Tadese stayed with them all the way.

At the bell, Bekele sprinted away, with Sihine and Gebreselassie in tow. The Kenyans gave chase and Kogo challenged even for silver, but could not cope with the speed.

“The pace was too hot for us. We did our best but they were too fast,” said Kogo, as Mathathi rued his misfortune.

In the womens 3,000m steeplechase, Jepkorir pipped Russias Yekaterina Volkova on the line to take silver after another Russian, Gulnara Galkina-Samitova led from start to finish.

Ruth Bosibori, from whom a lot was expected, finished sixth in 9:17.35.

Haki hii silver ni ya mzee,” said a beaming Jepkorir, who set a new Africa record, saying she dedicated her silver to her husband, Josephat Kiprono, a 10,000m runner.

Kiprop won his 1,500m semi in 3:37.04 while Choge finished fourth (3:37.54) in the second.

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Raila roots for male circumcision – The PM wants uncircumcised groups in Kenya to face the cut for health reasons

Posted by African Press International on August 18, 2008

By Stephen Makabila

Prime Minister Raila Odinga broke cultural barriers and urged communities to embrace male circumcision to reduce HIV prevalence.

Raila said research had proved circumcised men stood lesser risks of being infected by the virus.

The Prime Minister told the communities that to not practice the cut for men they had no choice but to start doing so.

“Research has now proved circumcised men are safer from the scourge compared to those who are not,” said Raila.

The PM spoke during a homecoming party for Labour Assistant Minister Sospeter Ojaamong in Amogoro constituency.

Ministers John Munyes, Fred Gumo, Assistant Minister Silvester Wakoli and MPs Josephat Nanok, Cyprian Omolo, Ben Washiali, Yusuf Chanzu and Wilber Otichiloh also attended the occasion held at Ojaamong Primary School. Raila said communities in Uganda, which had not been circumcising men, were now doing so.

“I am taking the challenge of calling upon elders in the Teso, Luo and Turkana communities to ensure people embrace circumcision of boys, although it has not been part of their culture,” said Raila.

Nyanza Province is listed as among areas with the highest HIV prevalence.

Cultural debate

The call by Raila will likely trigger a big cultural debate among communities where male circumcision is rooted in deep beliefs. On the Constitution, Raila said the Government would ensure the country gets a Constitution that will unite all Kenyans and serve the countrys interests.

“What we want to promote now is unity of our people. We are in the same Government because we wanted a united Kenya,” said Raila.

He promised Teso residents that a DC would be posted to the new Teso South District within a week. The PM added the Malaba-Busia road would be considered for tarmacking.

Raila also ordered the police to stop harassing residents along the Kenya Uganda border, saying Kenyans were free to cross to Uganda and buy produce there.

Gumo and Munyes cautioned those fighting Raila over his supervision and co-ordination of other ministries to keep off.

“The role of the PM is to supervise and co-ordinate other ministries and those ministers not working efficiently should not complain if he acts. There was a lot of rot at the Kenya Ports Authority and the action taken by the PM was timely,” said Gumo.

Munyes said Raila should ignore those complaining and continue to ensure ministries function effectively.

“He should especially act over insecurity and the poor roads,” added Munyes.

He claimed Uganda People Defence Force forces were attacking Turkanas in Northern Kenya and called for urgent Government action.

Related story:

Researchers Call for Male Circumcision to Reduce Spread of HIV inAfrica

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Kenya: PM puts road constructors on notice

Posted by African Press International on August 18, 2008

Written By:Rose Kamau/KNA

Prime Minister Raila Odinga has put the contractor rehabilitating the Kericho-Kisumu Highway on notice threatening to terminate his contract if he fails to improve on his performance.

Addressing members of the public at Kapsoit Market in Kericho district, the Prime Minister also took issue with the same contractor for underperforming on the 35 kilometer Kapsoit – Sondu Road.

Odinga proposed that China Road and Bridge Corporation, which is rehabilitating the 57 km Mau Summit-Kericho section that had been given a clean bill of health, should continue into the 89 km Kericho-Kisumu section that is being done by Hayer Bishan Singh & Sons Ltd.

He directed Acting Roads Minister Chris Obure who had accompanied him to immediately act on the issue, saying the era of contractors executing shoddy jobs with impunity was over.

Earlier, while inspecting the Mau Summit-Kericho section where he expressed satisfaction with the standard and pace of work, the Prime Minister directed the Ministry of Roads to urgently release 20 million shillings for emergency repair works on the road.

Odinga later addressed students and teachers of Nyamira Girls School in Bondo, where he praised schools in Nyanza province for not being sucked into the recent strikes witnessed in secondary schools across the country.

Odinga who was accompanied by his wife Ida Odinga and Lands Minister James Orengo, lauded students of the school that was built by his father, the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga on the family land for maintaining a high sense of discipline.

“The only way of airing or resolving your grievances is through dialogue and to choose a career and vision early and carefully,” Odinga said.

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Kenya wins second silver

Posted by African Press International on August 18, 2008

Kenya wins second silver as Bekele breaks another record

Written By:Kennedy Langat/Rose Kamau

Kenya bagged her second silver medal in the on going 29th edition of the Olympic Games Sunday evening when Eunice Jepkorir finished in the second position in women’s 3000 metres steeplechase with a new African record of 9 minutes 07.41 seconds.

Chepkorir sprinted in the final stretch to stop Russians from a clean medal sweep.

Gulnara Galkina-Samitova of Russia won the first ever Women’s 3000m Steeplechase at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, breaking her own world record with a time of 8:58.81 and the Olympic record time of 9:15.17 that she set in the semifinal.

Jepkorir took silver in a time of 9:07.41, while Ekaterina Volkova, also of Russia and bronze medalist in last years World Championships, claimed the bronze in a season best time of 9:07.64.

Russia missed out on a clean sweep, with 2007 World Championships silver medalist, Tatiana Petrova, coming in fourth with a time of 9:12.33.

In the 10 000 metres final Kenyans put up a spirited fight before losing out to the World Champion Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele who set a new Olympic record of 27.01.17.

Sileshi Sihine also of Ethiopia came in second in a time of 27.02.77 ahead of Kenya’s Micah Kogo who bagged silver, coming in at 27.04.11.

His compatriot Moses Masai Ndiema was fourth while another Kenyan Martin Irungu Mathathi was seventh behind Ethiopia’s Haile Gebreselassie.

Meanwhile Shelly-Ann Fraser of Jamaica has been crowned the world’s fastest woman after winning the final of the Women’s 100m in a personal best time of 10.78 seconds at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

Fraser led from the start to finish, well clear of her compatriots Sherone Simpson and Kerron Stewart, who won silver together in identical times of 10.98s.

Silver medalist Sherone Simpson commented on the Jamaican clean sweep of the medals, “We made history. Just like yesterday Bolt [Usain Bolt, Jamaica] set a new world record. We are all great athletes and I’m very excited about the tremendous achievement we’ve made for our country.”

“The guys should have done it too; they had the speed to,” teased Stewart.

It marked only the sixth clean sweep in Olympic Games Women’s Athletics. It was the first time a 100m event had been swept at an Olympic Games level since the US men won all medals in Stockholm in 1912.

In the men’s 1500 metres semi finals Asbel Kiprop and Augustine Kipronoh Choge qualified for the finals. Kiprop won the first semi final while Choge took the fourth position in the second semi.

Kiprop was the fastest qualifier, finishing with a time of 3 minutes 37.04 seconds while Rashid Ramzi of Bahrain came in the second in 3:37.11s. Abdalaati Iguider of Morocco finished with the third fastest time with 3:37.21s.

Another eight athletes also qualified for the Men’s 1500m final, which is scheduled for August 19 at the National Stadium.

The world record of 3 minutes 26 seconds was set by Hicham El Guerrouj from Morocco ten years ago.

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Libyan, Eritrean ministers plan Sudan-Chad liaison group meeting

Posted by African Press International on August 18, 2008

The foreign ministers of Libya and Eritrea have announced that the meeting of the liaison group working to reconcile Sudan and Chad will convene a meeting in the coming days, APA learnt Sunday.

Libyan Foreign secretary Abdurrahman Shalgham and Eritrean foreign Minister Osman Mohamed Salehs meeting on Saturday focused on the restoration of diplomatic relations between Chad and Sudan.

Libya news agency quoted official sources saying that the two officials discussed the meeting of the liaison group formed by the African summit under the chairmanship of Libya and Congo Brazzaville.

Members of the group are Eritrea, Gabon with the participation of Chad and Sudan.

Eritrea expressed its willing to host the meeting to discuss Sudanese Chadian relations following the initiative of the Libyan leader Mummer Qaddafi concerning the restoration of the relations.

Sources said Qaddafi had sent envoy to both Djamena and Khartoum and have reported back saying they both have accepted to resume diplomatic relations between.

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Liberia, U.S sign Peace Corps agreement

Posted by African Press International on August 18, 2008

The Liberian and United States governments have signed an agreement for the resumption of the Peace Corps Volunteer Program in Liberia after 18 years of absence.

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

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.

The program was suspended in 1990 as a result of the war.

Liberias Foreign Minister Olubanke King Akerele who signed the agreement at the weekend on behalf of the Liberian government, said the signing of the agreement demonstrates the importance President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf attaches to education.

The charge daffaires of the United States Embassy, Madam Brooks Robinson, for her part, said that the return of Peace Corps Volunteers signifies an important milestone which signifies Americas confidence in Liberias recovery and stability.

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