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Archive for August 29th, 2008

EXCLUSIVE: Poverty list blocked after MPs protest – Kenya

Posted by African Press International on August 29, 2008

ByKENNETH OGOSIA and BERNARD NAMUNANE

In Summary

  • Constituencies that previously were ranked as the poorest in the country have suddenly shot up the table
  • Kajiado North is richest constituency with 10.7 per cent below poverty line, while Turkana Central is poorest with 96.9 per cent.
  • The document, acknowledges the transformation in previously poor areas has been inspired by the CDF
  • Prof Nyongo: I think somebody fed the wrong data into the computer.”

A new Government report on ranking parliamentary constituencies on poverty index has been withheld after some MPs complained that their areas were not projected as poor enough.

Some constituencies that previously were ranked as the poorest in the country have suddenly shot up the table to upstage the traditionally well-off areas, prompting the MPs to complain that the report was rigged.

The fear that their constituencies will get less Constituency Development Fund (CDF) money if found to have fewer people living in poverty.

Inspired

The document, entitled Constituency Report on Well-Being, acknowledges the transformation in previously poor areas has been inspired by the CDF.

A copy of the report obtained exclusively by the Nation shows that many constituencies that previously were top of the poverty tables, and thus eligible for more CDF money, are now ranked among the wealthy. Contacted on Thursday, Planning minister Wycliffe Oparanya said: I cannot comment about what has not been launched because we are harmonising the document following complaints by MPs on matters that anybody can see are mistakes.

Mr Oparanya and Medical Services minister Peter Anyang Nyongo agree with MPs who claim that the report could have been skewed to favour some constituencies in the allocation of CDF money.

Ironically, Mr Oparanya wrote a laudatory forward in the report, which has already been printed, before changing his mind and shelving it after the complaints by MPs.

Rocket science

Prof Nyongo, who served as Planning minister from the beginning of 2003 to November 2005, dismissed the new report: I think somebody fed the wrong data into the computer. Statistics is not rocket science to change Nyatike into a richer constituency than Rongo or Muhoroni, he told the Nation.

Contacted, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics director general, Mr A.K. Kilele, expressed shock that the Nation had a copy of the suppressed document. Who gave you the report? The minister has not launched it and you want to put me into trouble. I will not comment on what I dont know, Mr Kilele said.

Mr Oparanya was at a meeting in Kisumu last month when members of Parliament from Nyanza complained that their constituencies were depicted in the rankings as having moved out of the poverty bracket.

The minister agreed and promised not to launch it in its current form.

The MPs, led by Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo, Nyando MP Fred Outa and Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo, claimed that the report was skewed to reduce their CDF allocations.

Mr Midiwo said they would not accept the report and a new survey had to be carried out for the true reflections.

How can Nyatike be richer than Eldoret or even Rongo and Muhoroni in Nyanza itself? That is playing politics with the economy, Mr Midiwo said.

Mr Oparanya agreed to shelve the report. Thousands of copies already printed on expensive glossy paper were returned to a strongroom.

The report based the poverty line on the percentage of households unable to afford the cost of a basic basket of goods that can meet the minimum nutritional requirements which are set at 2,250 calories for each adult in a day.

The cost is estimated at Sh1,562 and Sh2,913 per month in rural and urban areas respectively. Those who fell below that line were ranked as the poor.

Suspicion was raised because in an earlier report released in 2005, the 10 wealthiest constituencies in the country were in Central Province.

They were Kikuyu, Kiambaa, Limuru, Mathira, Githunguri, Ndaragwa, Othaya, Tetu, Kiharu and Mathioya in that order.

The poorest constituencies were Ganze in Coast Province, Kitui South in Eastern, Kaloleni, Kinango (both Coast), Bonchari, Kasipul Kabondo, Kuria, Ndhiwa and Rangwe (all in Nyanza).

In the new report Kajiado North is the richest constituency with just 10.7 percent of the people below poverty line, followed by Kajiado Central, Kajiado South, Westlands, Kabete, Kiambaa, Ntonyiri, Langata, Embakasi and Starehe.

The poorest constituencies are Turkana Central with a shocking 96.9 per cent living below the poverty line, followed by Turkana South, North Horr, Saku, Wajir North, Wajir South, Mandera Central Turkana North, Kinango and Mandera East.

In the suppressed report, previously poor constituencies such as Bondo, Rarieda, Lamu East and Lagdera are now among the richest.

The report shows that the rate of absolute poverty declined from 52.2 per cent in 1997 to 46 per cent in 2005/6 yet two million more Kenyans have joined the ranks of the poor.

In provincial rankings, the report shows that the richest province is Nairobi followed by Central then Nyanza, Rift Valley, Eastern, Western, Coast and North Eastern.

In Nairobi the number of poor is shown to have reduced from 43.9 per cent in 1999 to 22.0 per cent by the date of the report. Central registered very low improvement from 31.2 in 1999 to 30.9 today while Nyanza improved from 64.5 poor to 46.5; Rift Valley registered a marginal decline from 47.9 per cent to 48.7 per cent.

Eastern improved from 58.3 per cent to 50.5 per cent and Western from 60.8 to 53.1 per cent.

Resource allocation
Coast Province also registered a decline from 57.8 per cent to 59.0 per cent; while North Eastern retained its spot as the poorest region in the country with the number of poor rising from 64.2 to 74.0 per cent.

In the forward to the shelved report, Mr Oparanya said the data would be used to allocate CDF to all constituencies and can also be used for resource allocation in development planning.

The report recommends that the formula used for allocating CDF be reviewed with a view to getting rid of the discrepancies that have emerged since the fund was established in 2003. A total of Sh34.2 billion was allocated to the fund between 2003 and 2007.

Instead of giving all constituencies 75 per cent of the allocations equally and the remainder on the poverty index, the report wants the allocations to reflect population.

In the five years of CDF implementation, some sparsely populated constituencies received transfers equivalent to almost Sh18,000 per person vis--vis under Sh900 in the heavily inhabited constituencies, it states.

Richer

The report shows that Bondo and Rarieda constituencies are richer than President Kibakis Othaya constituency; while Nyatike, a semi-arid area is reported to have overtaken agriculturally-rich constituencies such as Nakuru Town, Molo, West Mugirango and Kitutu Masaba.

The new report also shows that some constituencies previously ranked well-off are now among the poorest.

They include Saboti, Kwanza, Mt Elgon, Mumias, Lurambi, Lugari, Cherangany, North Mugirango, Sotik, and most of the Central Province constituencies like Juja, Mathioya, Kiharu and Mukurwe-ini.

The 76-page report is based on the 2005/2006 Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey was all set for launching before Mr Oparanya shelved it.

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API/Source.nation.ke

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The death of Agbobli under suspicious circumstances raises many questions

Posted by African Press International on August 29, 2008

Last week the death of opposition leader Kokouvi Agbobli under mysterious circumstances sent shock waves throughout Togo.
But glaring contradictions in autopsy report and an earlier press statement released by the Togolese Minister for Security about the mystery death of the Togolese opposition leader has triggered widespread about the actual cause of his death leading to wild speculations in Lom .
Last week the Togolese Minister for Security and Interior , Colonel Atcha Titikpina said in an official press statement in Lome that the body of Kokouvi Agbobli , a prominent Togolese opposition leader who was reported missing was found washed ashore at a beach in Lome after a search lasting 48 hours.
But an autopsy ordered by the Chief State Prosecutor , Boubadi Bakai later claimed that the opposition leader neither died from drowning nor from any violent means.
The autopsy released by professor Napo Ouro Koura , Chief Pathologist at the University central Hospital in Lome said that the opposition leader died from systematic intoxication induced by the taking of an overdose of medical substances capable of causing death.
The autopsy could however not produce an analysis of the composition of the chemical substances contained in the overdose taken by the opposition leader due to what the pathologist called the lack of appropriate laboratory equipment .
Rather than to smother growing skepticism , the glaring disparities in the Security Ministers earlier press statement and the autopsy released by the pathologist have added more fuel to the conflagration of doubts about the actual cause of death of the opposition leader.
Ayaovi Agbobli , son of the dead opposition leader told the press that the contradictions in the two reports have raised doubts of dust about the impartiality of the Togo government in the whole bizarre scenario surrounding his fathers death.
So aggravated are the doubts that Togolese opposition leaders, Gilchrist Olympio of the Union of Forces for Change , UFC , party and Lawyer Yawovi Agboyibo of the Action Committee for Renewal, CAR, have all joined the Togo National Human Rights Commission in the call for an independent probe into what they called the mystery death of opposition leader Kokouvi Agbobli.
Even though preliminary police investigations seem to support the theory of suicide , opposition groups and many NGOs are insisting that an independent probe will help to throw more light on the whole bizarre affair put an end to the canker of impunity in Togo.
The contradictions between the earlier press statement by the Togolese Minister for Security and that of the pathologist are at the base of their present confusion leading to the million dollar question on every lip here, as to whether the body of the opposition leaders was washed ashore or whether he committed suicide.
Ayaovi Agbobli son of the late opposition leader told the press that the glaring contradictions are raising doubts about the impartiality of the Togo government on the whole issue about his fathers death.
But he said the family was awaiting the final report of police investigations before knowing what next line action to take.

By Ekoue Blame, Lom

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Olympio gets elected by the largest opposition party in Togo as 2010 presidential candidate

Posted by African Press International on August 29, 2008

Thanking the delegates he stated, I am to-day happy that , you, the militants from all over Togo have put your destiny into my hands by electing me as the partys candidate for the next presidential elections slated for 2010, Mr Gilchrist Olympio declared at the end of the statutory congress his opposition Union of Forces for Change , UFC, party in Lome on the 19th of july 2008.
The congress was attended by over 300 delegates from all over the country.
During the congress of held in the Togolese capital of Lome , all the delegates gave their suffrages to their 72 years leader Gilchrist Olympio in overwhelming vote of confidence.
But some independent observers who attended the congress were unanimous that his election exceptionally surpassed and outclassed other presidential election contests .
Not even in France or United States of America have so many succeeded to put their fate in the hands of an aspirant two years ahead of the actual elections.
But according to some Togolese newspapers this political rush was due to the fact that new political birds were gliding in the partys sky with very strong wings.
According to independent sources the die-hard radicals of the UFC party renewed confidence in their leader as he was the only leader who has courageously defied the late Gnassingbe Eyadema .
It will be recalled that Mr Gilchrist Olympio has made wonders for the first time in Togos political history when he was declared second to his rival Gnassingbe Eyadema in the elections which was marred by political violence in 1998.
Mr Olympio claimed the elections were rigged .
Since then Mr Olympio was found not eligible on several occasions to aspire to the presidential throne based on some prohibitive clauses of the Togolese constitution.
According to the Togolese constitution the presidential candidate must reside at his country for at least twelve months and must also hold only one citizenship.
It will be recalled that Gilchrist Olympio who was in exile in France has dual citizenship , French and Togolese.
For these two reasons , the Togolese largest opposition leader Mr Olympio was on several occasions disqualified from the presidential race in 2003 to compete against the late Gnassingbe Eyadema.
Mr Olympios UFC was compelled to field 75 years old Bob Akitani against the late Eyadema in 2003 and subsequently in 2005 after the latters sudden death.
But according to the sources , this time around Mr Olmypios strategy was to exert psychological pressure on the Togolese Head of State Faure Gnassingbe to amend the inimical constitutional laws in order to enable him to present himself for the 2010 presidential elections as the only way to pacify the country.
The Togolese multi-party constitution was amended in 2002 by Togos parliament to allow the late President Gnassingbe Eyadema to run for several terms in office.
The have put the chart in front of the horses because now the Togolese people are affected by the high prices of food and the dramatic floods events that shocked the country, said a militant of the ruling Peoples Rally Party , RPT.
It will not be a surprise to see Mr Olympio in the next months touring the continent in the hope to get the support of some African Heads of State like Yar ADuah of Nigeria , Omar Bongo of Gabon , John Kuffur of Ghana and the Burkinabe Leader Blaise Compaore who is also the mediator in the Togo dialogue to convince Faure Gnassingbe in order to allow him to take part in the presidential race scheduled for 2010, the militant added.
But in Lome some observers saw Mr Olympios move as pre-emptive to position himself quickly as the only eligible candidate of his party to stop the presidential aspirations of some of his lieutenants or political Apostles like Patrick Lawson , now elected 1st Vice-President , and Jean-Pierre Fabre , the partys Secretary-General.
According to the rumours circulating in the Togolese capital , the two men have put on weight in popularity in the sense that they constitute internal rivals to the political ambition of Mr Gilchrist Olympio.
Many Togolese are crossing their fingers to see if the constitutional and institutional reforms demanded on several times by the Union of Forces for Change party will be given the green light by the new multi-party parliament dominated by the ruling RPT party.
The UFC party claims that the constitutional and institutional reforms form part of the Global Political Agreement signed in august 2006.
But observers here believe that the political sky has changed with the global high food prices crisis coupled with the dramatic floods that ravaged the country.
But in may this year , the Togolese Minister for Cooperation Gilbert Bawara stressed the need for constitutional and institutional reforms but said we are not obsessed by the 2010 elections, our ambitions are to satisfy the need of the Togolese people.
After Gilchrist Olympio of the UFC party it was the turn of the Togolese former Prime Minister Agbeyome Kodjo to make public his presidential ambition as he launched his political party in Lome at the beginning of august 2008.

ByEkoue Blame , Lome

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United States of America’s pressure makes Norway change their mind! Now Norway says the country ‘does NOT want to talk with Osama bin Laden’

Posted by African Press International on August 29, 2008

Norway’s plans to to with Osama bin Laden has been shattered by the USA who has pressurerised the country forcing it to abandon the plan to enter into negotiations. A suvereign country is expected to do things independently and yet Norway allows herself to be pushed around by the US on matters of policy.
Norway should not pretend that the media misquoted their intentions. It is only because they have realised that the big nations are not ready to dance to a tune started by a small nation in the world, a nation that wants to do everything for the sake of being noticed as part and parcel of the international players in top politics. You do not fight big ball when you are a tiny nation.
Norway’s deputy foreign minister now says that Norway has no desire for a dialogue with either Osama bin Laden or the terror network he leads, al-Qaida. The foreign ministry sent out a clarification of remarks Johansen made on Wednesday, indicating he’d been misunderstood.

Raymond Johansen, a state secretary in Norway’s ministry and a deputy foreign minister, had some explaining to do on Thursday.

PHOTO: CARL MARTIN NORDBY

Norway, officials now say, has no desire for a dialogue with Osama bin Laden.

PHOTO: MAZHAR ALI / AP

Raymond Johansen confirmed Thursday that he told Oslo newspaper Dagsavisen on Wednesday that “you dont make peace with your friends but with your enemies.” At the same time, Johansen claimed that he had “no illusions” that bin Laden would sit down at any negotiating table.

Johansen and officials in the Foreign Ministry now state in a press release that Johansen’s remarks don’t mean Norway wants to talk with bin Laden or al-Qaida. Johansen suggests news bureau NTB misunderstood his remarks, adding that NTB’s interpretation that Norway wants a dialogue with bin Laden — widely reported in Norwegian media Wednesday and Thursday — paints an erroneous picture of Norwegian foreign policy.

“There are several criteria that would need to be in place before we involve ourselves in dialogue with partners to a conflict,” Johansen said in a statement on Thursday. “A central criterion is that the partners themselves want such a dialogue. I pinpointed to Dagsavisen that I didn’t think Osama bin Laden and … al-Qaida want any dialogue. It’s therefore wrong to say that Norway has a desire for dialogue with bin Laden.”

The Swiss foreign office has also sent out a clarification of remarks made by its leader, Micheline Calmy-Rey. She had also reportedly urged dialogue with Osama bin Laden, but Swiss officials now say that’s not correct.

“In her speech to … ambassadors, the head of the FDFA (Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs) spoke of dialogue as an instrument of foreign policy,” reads a statement from the Swiss ministry. “She mentioned the appropriateness of such dialogue and the limits in which it should take place.

“In this context, she asked the rhetorical question of whether entering into a dialogue with bin Laden could be considered as a possibility. She did not state that she would promote such a dialogue, nor has she proposed such a dialogue.

“To put an end to this controversy once and for all, in practice there is no question of the FDFA proposing a dialogue with Osama Bin Laden,” concluded the Swiss clarification.

Related story:

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US politics – Obama wants to lead the Nation

Posted by African Press International on August 29, 2008

Obama Watch

The change world looks for in Obama speech

Updated 1 hr(s) 45 min(s) ago

By Dan Okoth

In the next few days, two things will happen in America. The Democratic Party candidate Barack Obama will deliver one of the most watched speeches this decade, and the country will mark a sad anniversary 9/11.

Although historic in many respects, two words will define the moments: terrorism and change. While terrorism has elusive definitions, the world will know how seriously Americans take the “change we can believe in” when Obama gets to occupy the White House.

While Obamas stand on terror indicates change, it can only be such if viewed in the context of how the Bush administration spun the issue from being a US concern to a global affair.

Since French lawyer Maximilien Robespierre used the word in 1794, terrorism assumed a more significant meaning after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York, in which 3,000 Americans died.

In places outside the US, the twin bombings of Nairobi and Dar es Salaam US embassies on August 7, 1998, were also labelled terrorist. Some 250 people died in those attacks. Then followed the Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel bombing in Kikambala in 2002, in which 13 people were killed.

One of the main suspects, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, a suspected member of al-Qaeda, is on the run with a huge bounty on his head.

Al-Qaeda is also the organisation suspected to have masterminded the New York attacks, as well as the July 2005 London bombings in which 52 people died.

From 2001, the Bush administration has fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran has been on the radar. In the land of milk and money, the challenge of balancing constitutionally protected human rights and fighting the war on terror remains.

Globally, international relations fall in or out with President Bushs words of “you are either with us or against us”. There are no spectators. Although no country openly supports terrorism, not all are ranged on his side.

By the time Obama was talking about the possibility of “aggressive personal diplomacy” with Iran last year, the war on terror had been on for at least five years. US foreign policy had suffered a fatal dent, and the rest of the world openly questions whether America subscribes to the accepted principles of just war.

Its presentations on former Iraqi President Saddam Husseins “weapons of mass destruction” would have been a good joke if so many lives had not been tied to them.

America may be justified to continue the war, given the number of its citizens who have died and the threat terrorism poses. Other countries may also justify taking sides in that war.

But one question remains: Is the war on terror a just war?

International law humanitarian law, which defines laws concerning acceptable conduct in war jus in bello, also describes acceptable justification for using armed force jus ad bellum.

The principles of war boil down to three principles: One, wars should be limited to achieving the political goals that started the war.

Two, wars should be brought to an end as quickly as possible.

Three, people and property that have nothing to do with the war should be shielded from unnecessary suffering and destruction.

Why should Obama be reminded of these principles? Because American soldiers are still in Iraq and Afghanistan, because the war on terror defines American foreign policy, and because Obama stands the better chance of occupying a changed White House. His rival, John McCain, inherits the Republican mantle from Bush with the same old change.

Nobody can predict when the war on terror will end, but as the possible incoming US President, Obama can define how it will change. The world will keep an ear open for that change in his speech at the Democratic National Convention on August 28. It will also keep an ear open in mid-September.

The writer is The Standard Group Senior Editor Online

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UN climate change negotiations conclude in Ghanaian capital

Posted by African Press International on August 29, 2008

The latest round of the United Nations-sponsored global Climate Change Talks in Accra, the Ghanaian capital concluded Wednesday with clear signals that the pace of negotiations to get to a deal on long-term strengthened international action on climate change is picking up.

According to a press release issued here Thursday, important progress was made in Accra on a number of key issues for the deal, to be clinched at the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009. Furthermore, the release said, parties under the Kyoto Protocol advanced their work on the tools and rules available to developed countries to set ambitious reduction targets beyond 2012.

This has been a very important and encouraging meeting”, said Yvo de Boer, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). “We are still on track, the process has speeded up and governments are very serious about negotiating a result in Copenhagen.”

The meeting in Accra constituted the third major UNFCCC negotiating session this year and was the last meeting in the run up to this years UN Climate Change Conference scheduled to be held in Poznań, Poland, from 1 to 12 December.

Around 1,600 participants, including government delegates from 160 countries and representatives from environmental organizations, business and industry and research institutions, attended the one-week meeting in Accra.

“The highlight of this session is that governments have agreed to compile different proposals for solutions in a structured way for discussion at the next landmark meeting in Poznan,” the UNs top climate change official said. “So Accra has laid the foundation of what could serve as a first negotiating text for a Copenhagen deal,” he added.

In a working group on long-term cooperative action under the UNFCCC, discussions took place on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries. “Countries have made it very clear that issue of forests need to be part of a Copenhagen deal,” de Boer said.

“Thats important because emissions from deforestation account for 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions.”

A second workshop provided more clarity on so-called “sectoral approaches” through which countries can address emissions from a whole sector of their economy.

Countries meeting in Ghana emphasized that such approaches should not lead to binding commitments for developing countries and that is up to a country to decide if it wants to put sectoral policies in place or not.

For the fist time at a UNFCCC gathering, governments discussed what is needed both in terms of financing and technology to step up action on both reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change.

“Parties were deeply committed and submitted proposals for solutions on the issues”, said Luiz Figueiredo Machado, Chair of the Ad hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action under the Convention. These proposals will now be assembled and submitted to the meeting in Poznan.

According to the release, at the Africa Carbon Forum scheduled to be held in Dakar from 3 to 5 September, African countries will discuss what can be done to improve the CDM. The forum will be the first event of its kind to be held on the African continent and will include a carbon investment trade fair, conference and policy meeting.

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Ivorian PM appeals to demobilized combatants for calm

Posted by African Press International on August 29, 2008

The Prime Minister of Cote dIvoire, Guillaume Soro, through his spokesperson, the Tourism and Craft Industry minister Sidiki Konate, called on the demobilized combatants for “dialogue and appeasement.

“As the president of the republic is out of the country, it is the Prime Minister who is acting on his behalf. Thats why he cannot be in Bouake, but he will come and speak to the people of Bouake,” Konate said during a mass meeting intended to support the actions of Prime Minister Soro.

“He gave us two messages. We all know how much the role of the population is important in the struggle of the New Forces (FN-former rebel group). The FN rests on four important pillars,” he revealed.

“The first one is its army, its soldiers. The second is its political and administrative wing. The third one is no doubt you, the population. Finally the fourth one is the FN general secretary,” the FN spokesperson said during this ceremony.

The problems were presented, Sidiki Konate continued, “we certainly deplore the drifts that happened, but we had time to talk to the youth, Corporal Diaby and his comrades. We are convinced that if they were to do the same thing again, there are remarks they will not make. “

Some demobilized troops, demanding their demobilization allowance of CFA 5 million each, organised a violent protest in Bouake last week.

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Liberian leader hails continuous support from the United States

Posted by African Press International on August 29, 2008

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has paid tribute to the United States of America for its continuous support to Liberia.

US-Liberia relations, she noted, has helped Liberia improve in many sectors of development as it aims to become a post-conflict success story.

According to a presidential mansion press statement issued here Wednesday, President Sirleaf made the commendations when she received the letters of credence of Ms. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the new US to Liberia.

She traced the history of Liberia-U.S relations, saying interactions between both countries dates back to the birth of Liberia as a nation.

The Liberian leader pledged her commitment to proper accountability and transparency, and cited her recent signing into law an Act establishing the Anti-Corruption Commission.

She said US President George Bushs recent visit to Liberia was a vindication of the progress made by her governments commitment to strengthening US-Liberias relations.

President Sirleaf then commended Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield for her instrumentality in promoting programs from which Liberia is now benefiting.

In remarks, the newly accredited American envoy praised the Johnson Sirleaf administration for the successes achieved thus far, but added that more needs to be done.

Liberia, she noted, must continue to grow with its civil society and independent media strengthened in order to fight corruption.

Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield expressed the hope that with collective commitment, a new Liberia of equal opportunities will prevail. She revealed that Liberia is the second largest recipient of financial support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), adding that with unlimited potential at the countrys disposal, there is no reason why Liberia cannot be an economic tiger in West Africa.

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DR Congo, Uganda join forces to track down LRA rebels

Posted by African Press International on August 29, 2008

The armed forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo and those of Uganda are gearing up for joint operations to track down fighters of the Ugandan rebel group, the Lords Resistance Army (LRA), based at the border between the two countries in the Orientale Province (north-eastern DRC).

A source close to the UN Mission in DRC (MONUC) revealed this information to APA without giving further details on the nature of the operation or on the date of its beginning.

During a news conference on Wednesday, the MONUC military spokesman Jean-Paul Dietrich stressed that the MONUC troops and the DRC armed forces (FARDC) will no longer accept any harassment of the Ugandan LRA on the population of Ituri and the Orientale Provinces.

Dietrich however stated that three LRA elements surrendered to the UN forces last week, which brings to 10 the number of people who recently deserted the LRA.

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Tough on imports: Kenyan minister detains goods

Posted by African Press International on August 29, 2008

Ruto says imports to be detained

Written By:Faith Kendi

Agriculture minister William Ruto says the government will not clear the 8000 metric tonnes of import sugar withheld at the port of Mombasa.

Ruto said the sugar will not be allowed into the Kenyan market because the internal supply is sufficient for the market.

The minister’s announcement comes amid speculations that the price of sugar was set to go high due to a looming shortage.

The 8449 metric tonnes of sugar have been held at the port of Mombasa for several days now and the minister says it will not be released to the Kenyan market until the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa requirements are followed.

Ruto advised all manufacturing companies using industrial sugar to import directly and avoid using middlemen.

The minister said he has cleared all the sugar lying at the Mombasa port, which were imported into the country legally.

The ministry of agriculture has come up with new regulations for the sector, which are awaiting gazettement.

The minister was speaking during a tour of various exhibitions on Wednesday ahead of the official opening of the Mombasa show on Thursday.

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Is creating opposition group in the Kenya parliament going to cause Government Grand Coalition colapse? Most ministers are afraid.

Posted by African Press International on August 29, 2008

Trouble in ODM over Opposition Bill

By Ayub Savula

Secret meetings over a Bill seeking the creation of the grand opposition are sending jitters in Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s camp.
Proponents of the grand opposition have stepped up their lobbying efforts and are roping in ODM MPs who are signing up to support the Bill that is due to come to Parliament for debate soon.
Already, 30 MPs have signed up so far, prompting ODM Secretary-General Anyang’ Nyong’o to call a crisis meeting this week.

“We are going to call a meeting to discuss the matter. I don’t know why the MPs are defiant,” Nyong’o said.

Justice minister Martha Karua added her voice to the debate at the weekend when she said she would “receive the Bill on behalf of the Government” and present it to the House for discussion.

Karua added: “We are not afraid of opposition in Parliament.”

The Prime Minister has been opposed to the proposition for Official Opposition in Parliament. His party is wary of losing numbers. The legal implications of its ratification would mean ODM might not enjoy a majority in Parliament, which in turn would jeopardise the PM’s post and occasion the collapse of the coalition.

But this need not happen if the National Assembly (Opposition Bill, 2008), which was published last week and is up for debate, is endorsed by the House.

The Bill recognises the Opposition as a caucus of like-minded MPs and does not demand their quitting the parties that sponsored them to Parliament.

Raila ally and Government Chief Whip, Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo told The Standard that the MPs were being sponsored by a top Cabinet minister to derail the Grand Coalition Government headed by President Kibaki and Raila.

Assistant minister Joshua Ojode said: “The MPs have a hidden agenda and we have to fight it”.

Massive support
But some of the MPs who signed to support the Opposition Bill remained unrepentant.

“I’m among the MPs who started it and I shall stand by it,” said Chepalungu MP Isaac Ruto, adding that the proposal had received massive support from the Rift Valley.

The Standard has established that the MPs fronting the Bill have intensified their meetings to galvanise support in Parliament.

But Midiwo said ODM was aware of a top Cabinet minister seeking to undermine the current Government to pave way for his own quest for the presidency in 2012.

“This is part of a wider scheme against Raila for the next General Election. The minister is sponsoring these games to undermine the leadership of Kibaki and Raila so that he can emerge a frontrunner in the General Election as he is dreaming that the coalition will flop,” he added.

Midiwo said he would name the minister in Parliament when the House resumes, if he does not stop his activities.

He added: “As a party we don’t want these things. We are in Government and we cannot afford to be in the opposition at the same time.”

When asked for his comment on the matter, the PNU Chief Whip and Juja MP George Thuo said he was waiting for the motion to be brought to the House to determine the level of the PNU support.

“I have no clue. I am waiting for the Bill to be tabled in Parliament,” said Thuo.

Attorney General Amos Wako has already given a go ahead for the publication of the Bill that is due to come to the House in October.

The secretary of the committee pushing for the Bill, Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba, confirmed that 30 MPs had signed up to support it.

Namwamba said there were no provisions in ODM’s constitution for a disciplinary action against MPs supporting the Bill.

Namwamba also said fears by some individuals against the Bill were unfounded as it would not destroy the grand coalition.

“I respect the Prime Minister, but I have a conviction to support the Bill to create an outfit that will check against the excesses of the Government,” he added.

While addressing the annual anniversary of former Vice-President Michael Wamalwa, Raila opposed the Bill on the grounds that ODM was in the Government.

He said ODM MPs should not support the Bill because there were backbenchers in Parliament who can play the role of opposition.

Among the MPs supporting the Bill include Charles Kilonzo, Bonny Khalwale, Kiema Kilonzo, Joshua Kutuny, Mithika Linturi and Cyrus Jirongo, among others.

But Namwamba said they had convinced the youthful MPs from Rift Valley to support them too.

However, Jirongo said MPs from Nyanza who were initially supporting the Bill have pulled out.

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API/Source.standard.ke

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Ghana: Nkrumah’s daughter elected

Posted by African Press International on August 29, 2008

Accra (Ghana) – Ms. Samia Nkrumah, the daughter of the first President of Ghana, was over the weekend elected by the CPP delegates in the Jomoro constituency as the parliamentary candidate for the December polls, sending shivers down the spine of incumbent National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP, Hon. Lee Ocran, and ending the widespread speculation that she was considering the option of taking on Hon. Freddie Blay at his Ellembele constituency.

When the First Deputy Speaker of parliament, Hon. Freddie Blay made his infamous Aiyinase declaration, the reaction of the CPP was that if he was found guilty of the act, he would be expelled from the party. Speculations were rife that Samia was going to contest the Ellembele seat, where her father’s hometown is, and end Blay’s dream of retaining the seat. But it was not to be.

Ms. Samia Nkrumah contested against Madam Edna Anglo, an educationist, and had a landslide victory by polling 70 votes as against 7 votes by her competitor. Hon. Lee Ocran, reacting to Samia’s candidature on Citi FM, an Accra based radio station, said ‘I would not be bragging if I say that I have done more for this constituency than what her father did’.

This statement, made by the incumbent MP has enraged the residents of Jomorro constituency, wondering why Hon. Ocran will throw such invectives at the Osagyefo himself, considering his huge stature and rated world wide as the greatest African that ever lived, surpassing even Nelson Mandela.

But it is unlikely that the younger brother of Samia, Mr. Sekou Nkrumah, can avert the coming annihilation of the MP, who has worked tirelessly to keep his constituents happy and known to be vocal in the House of Parliament. Like taboo words, those utterances by Lee Ocran amounted to sacrilege in these parts of the Western region, that is to take Nkrumah’s name in vain.

Indications are that the 64year old NDC strongman had tried in vain to plead with Samia to return to Italy, where she has spent the better part of her adult life. Ocran gave Samia the option of going back to Italy or to Nkroful, her father’s hometown, but not to vie in Jomorro.

As quickly as he said these words against Samia, Lee Ocran was pelted by people who heard those words on air. When The Chronicle contacted him, he had become sober enough. He refused to talk on the issue again, and conceded that Samia is a Ghanaian, and could not be stopped from contesting the elections.

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API/source.Ghanaian Chronicle (Ghana), by Zam R. Samin

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Zimbabwe: Why Tsvangirai refused to sign

Posted by African Press International on August 29, 2008

Harare (Zimbabwe) – The lid on the power-sharing agreement between Zanu PF and the MDC was blown off yesterday as a leaked document revealed for the first time that President Robert Mugabe would have remained both as head of State and head of government in a new arrangement sanctioned by Sadc leaders.

The regional leaders, led by South African President Thabo Mbeki, reportedly pressured MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai to sign “the deal”, and after failing to do so, gave Mugabe the go-ahead to convene parliament.

Their blessing, which allows Mugabe to preside over the opening of parliament on Tuesday, ran contrary to the spirit and letter of the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the negotiating parties.

Both parties pledged the convening of parliament would only be done through consensus.

Leaked documents and information gathered from various sources show that the unsuccessful deal, far from ensuring a changing political landscape favouring Tsvangirai who polled the most votes in March 29 elections, would have entrenched Mugabes grip on power.

The documents show this 50-50 power arrangement was clearly in favour of Mugabe who would remain Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and head of government as well as head of state.

Tsvangirai refused to sign the agreement nearly two weeks ago in order to “reflect and consult”.

Sources have revealed that top among Tsvangirais worries was paragraph 2 of the document titled Role of the Prime Minister.

While the paragraph stipulated that the prime minister would carry the responsibility to oversee the formulation of policies by the Cabinet, it also spelt out that Tsvangirai would not be the man in charge he would only be “a Member of the Cabinet and its Deputy Chairperson”.

This arrangement left Mugabe, in accordance with the Zimbabwe constitution, as the head of Cabinet.

To make matters worse for Tsvangirai, who had insisted that he heads the cabinet, according paragraph 11 he would “report regularly to the president”.

Sources say Tsvangirai is said to have strongly disagreed with such a provision that would have left him without adequate authority to engineer economic recovery and overcome repression.

Tsvangirai would find himself undermined if his authority is not spelt out because if things go wrong, he would be blamed.

Tsvangirai also could not discipline ministers under such an arrangement, as he could only make recommendations on such disciplinary measures as may be necessary.

The president and the prime minister, say the documents confirmed as authentic by different sources close to the talks will agree on the allocation of ministries between them for the purpose of day-to-day supervision.

That also meant that Tsvangirai would not be in effective charge of government.

The president, our sources said, would retain broad powers to declare a state of emergency, declare war or make peace and to grant amnesty.

Mugabe would also retain control of the Joint Operations Command (JOC) which would remain in place, save for a change in name. Tsvangirai would play second fiddle to Mugabe.

The prime minister shall serve as a member of the National Security Council and this will ensure his participation in deliberations on matters of national security and operations pertaining thereto, say the documents.

Sources say Tsvangirai decided to take time to reflect on such an arrangement after failing to ensure that Mugabe would take a back seat in governance issues.

Tsvangirai wanted an additional paragraph that would have effectively made the president (Mugabe) ceremonial, said the source.

The other negotiators however turned down his request, arguing that this was a 50-50 power-sharing deal.

Sources close to the talks said yesterday under that agreement, Tsvangirai felt he would be more a senior minister in Mugabes cabinet than a prime minister.

He noticed that Mugabe remained the head of the chain of command in cabinet, so why should he agree to be prime minister under these circumstances? A prime minister should simply be in charge, said a source.

Another source said Tsvangirai had hoped that both the prime minister and presidents powers would be drawn from a transitional constitution but was dismayed after noting that Mugabe would remain with his old sweeping powers intact.

Tsvangirai would in that situation find himself undermined at every turn.

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API/source.Zimbabwe Independent (Harare), by Walter Marwizi and Vusumuzi Sifile

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Zimbabwe: Parliament defeat for Mugabe

Posted by African Press International on August 29, 2008

Harare (Zimbabwe) – Despite attempts to co-opt members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), President Robert Mugabe suffered a decisive defeat in parliament yesterday when the MDC’s Lovemore Moyo was elected speaker in a secret ballot. The landmark victory for the MDC, led by Morgan Tsvangirai, marked the beginning of the end of Mugabe’s 28-year reign.

It also raised questions about the viability of a Zanu (PF) coalition with Arthur Mutambara – the leader of the smaller, breakaway MDC faction. Yesterday two MDC MPs were arrested and another threatened, raising tension as Mugabe was to open parliament today .

In a hung parliament, the speaker plays a central role and could take charge of controversial debates, if no power-sharing deal is agreed between Mugabe and the two MDC factions. The speaker can also act as president in the absence of the vice-president or senate president.

The parliamentary snub triggered a dramatic collapse of Mugabe’s strategy to regain control and establish a working majority in parliament. His bid to form a new government after the power-sharing talks between Zanu (PF) and the two MDC factions stalled recently after Tsvangirai refused to serve as prime minister under Mugabe without an explicit guarantee that he would head a unity government. Mugabe is expected to announce a new cabinet soon.

But his party’s defeat yesterday left him with the difficult task of forming a government without a majority in parliament — something that is likely to paralyse his beleaguered regime. This has forced Mugabe to make offers to opposition MPs behind the scenes. Mugabe had planned to grab control of parliament by supporting the Mutambara faction’s candidate for speaker, Paul Themba Nyathi, in return for backing in the house of assembly. If this had succeeded Mugabe would have retained control of parliament and formed a government.

Zanu (PF)’s failure to retain control of parliament through a coalition with Mutambara is bound to embarrass Southern African Development Community leaders who recently gave Mugabe the go- ahead to convene parliament despite a memorandum of understanding on power-sharing negotiations which prohibited the move.

Moyo was elected by 110 votes to Nyathi’s 98. Nyathi had been supported by Zanu (PF) but his bid failed as MPs from his faction voted with the Tsvangirai camp after revolting against their leadership for supporting Mugabe’s plan.

The composition of the 210-member parliament also shows that at least three Zanu (PF) MPs voted for Moyo — an unprecedented move that shifted the balance of power and marked a further decline of Mugabe’s influence and rule. The defeat is expected to widen divisions within Zanu (PF).

Mugabe yesterday appointed eight provincial governors instead of 10 to the senate, leaving two positions for the Mutambara faction, sources said. It is understood he appointed three senators instead of five, leaving two positions vacant for Mutambara and possibly his secretary-general Welshman Ncube. Mugabe needed a way of taking them into his cabinet if their deal was to have worked.

The president and deputy of the senate are Zanu (PF) members, and the party has the majority in that tier of the government. Tsvangirai’s MDC narrowly defeated Zanu (PF) in March, winning 100 seats against Zanu (PF)’s 99. The Mutambara faction won 10. A party needs 106 votes to control parliament.

Amid cheers from MDC benches and chanting that “Zanu (PF) is now rotten”, Moyo said parliament would now provide the necessary checks and balances on the government and exercise cabinet oversight .

“This house ceases to become a rubber-stamping authority but will provide robust and constructive debate,” Moyo said.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Zanu (PF) leader in the h ouse, said only: “On behalf of my party, I say congratulations”. His colleagues were stunned into silence and looked shocked after the results.

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API/Source.Business Day (South Africa), by Dumisani Muleya – August 26, 2008.

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Uganda: Returned refugees reviving economy

Posted by African Press International on August 29, 2008

Dokolo (Uganda) – Many former refugees, dependent on food handouts for years, are working the land again with some success.
Erisa Ekong, from Atabu village in Dokolo district, suffered as much as anyone in the war against the Lords Resistance Army, LRA.

The rebels killed her husband, stole her cows and goats and all of her food and household goods, yet she feels she must now look to the future. That time has passed and I want to start a new life, she said.

After several years spent living in one of northern Ugandas 200 internal refugee camps near Lira, Ekong returned to her family lands in 2006 and began to cultivate them.

In the fertile soil, she grew a local grain called sim-sim, beans, peanuts, sorghum, millet, cassava and rice. She kept what she needed, and sold the rest of the valuable crops, before using the profits to replenish the livestock she lost long ago.

I purchased 12 goats, two [cows], five pigs and still have in stock adequate food stuffs to sustain me for a year, Ekong told IWPR, as she returned from the fields.

Ekong is just one of the many returnees who have successfully made the transition from a refugee camp life dependent on support humanitarian aid from the United Nations and other international agencies to self sufficiency through farming.

As life slowly returns to normal across northern Uganda after two decades of brutal war that left nearly 100,000 dead and displaced about two million, many villagers have eagerly returned to cultivating the land and raising animals a development that is rapidly rebuilding the regions ravaged economy.

Like many across the region, Ekong exudes a deep sense of optimism about the future. Local people are confident they will be able to shake off the abject poverty that resulted from two decades of war one of the continents longest-running insurgencies.

This confidence persists in spite of the lack of progress with the governments redevelopment plans for the region, which have yielded little.

Many people there are instead taking matters into their own hands.

We don’t want to continue sitting and waiting for the government or [some] humanitarian agency to tell us what to do, since peace has returned, said Nekemia Obia, a resident of Bata trading centre, 20 kilometres east of Lira.

We have enough fertile lands for crop production, said Obia. It’s unfair to keep on demanding aid from the government and international humanitarian agencies.

Out of 500 kilogrammes of sim-sim that he harvested last year, Obia managed to make a profit of about 1,400 US dollars enough for him to withdraw his children from public school and send them to a better, more costly school in Lira.

Our lives have changed totally, he said with pride. We pray that the peace we have should be sustained so that we catch up with other parts of the country in terms of development.

Francis Omaramoi, a local leader in Omoro, said that to rebuild the agricultural economy in the north, there is a need for tools such as hoes, as well as seeds for those who have already settled back in their villages. He added that it is also important that extra help is given to vulnerable groups, such as orphans, parentless families, widows and widowers, as well as the elderly and disabled.

While there is much work to do, many farmers are in the north are enjoying their success. Apart from subsistence farming, agricultural production disappeared across most of northern Uganda during the rebel conflict of 1986 to 2006. Now farmers such as Nelson Opio, who resettled in his home two years ago after living in a refugee camp for many years, are quickly realising the benefits of farming for a profit.

“It’s advantageous to us because the more we produce, the more we shall earn, said Opio with a smile.

* Patrick Okino is an IWPR-trained journalist in Uganda.
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API/source.Institute of War and Peace Reporting, by Patrick Okino – August 26, 2008.

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