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Archive for September 3rd, 2008

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Posted by African Press International on September 3, 2008

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Is the US Policy towards Africa becoming Militarized?

Posted by African Press International on September 3, 2008

by Scott A Morgan

Over the last year that has been growing concern in both Africa and amongst the activist community here in the United States about the role of AFRICOM (Africa Command). Since January of this year there has been a plethora of activites that the country has been involved in.

The US began this year by intervening diplomatically in the Violence plagued Kenyan Elections. Working in conjunction with the EU and AU a Government of National Unity was agreed upon. The year began also with the APS (African Partnership Station) in place in the Gulf of Guinea. That region which is where 20% of the American Oil Imports Originate from has a problem with Militants, Drug Trafficking and Piracy. So this program was an effort to train Regional Military Forces to conduct such Operations.

The National Security Strategy Document published in March 2006 states that the United States “recgonizes that our security depends on partnering with African States to strengthen failed and failing states and bring ungoverned areas under the control of effective democracies. This statement can be seen as a base for the US efforts to bring about a regime change in Zimbabwe, restore the rule of law to the Kivu Provinces in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and limit the Influence of Al-Qaida in the Sahel Region of West Africa.

This Strategy has had its failures as well. The US Proxy efforts to restore a Strong Centralized Government in Somalia by Ethiopian Arms continues to muddle on. A report that Addis Ababa is considering withdrawing will be seen as a failure of US Policy. The Situation in Darfur with the apparent unwillingess of the US and its European Allies to take any action smacks of hypocrisy.

So why is the Pentagon taking the lead in this? They are not the only US entity that is formulating policy. There have been several instances where the CIA has taken steps to investigate the status of Militia Forces Operating in the African Great Lakes Region. The easy answer is that currently the State Department is in a weakened state. After all they did put out conflicting signals during the Kenya post-election crisis.

In General it is bad policy to have the Soldiers make Key Foreign Decisions. With the inability of the State Department to articulate what the goals of the United States are someone has to do it. There are some that would like to have AFRICOM to have some sort of accountability. Well as a DOD Command it does have to request funds from the Congress. After all the easiest way to force change on someone is to impact the flow of funds.

Whether it comes to Energy Supplies, Radical Islamists or even the Rogue Military Officer that cannot be reined in by his Country the US will have interests in Africa. This means US Diplomats and Soldiers will be seen as both Friends and Targets. There will be chances for both Praise and Criticism of US Activities as well. And in January a New President will be the one taking the heat.

The Author Publishes Confused Eagle on the Internet. It can be found at morganrights.tripod.com

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KENYA FOUND BIG MARKET IN EUROPE FOR ITS FLOURSPAR MINERALS AGAINST MASSIVE CHINESE COMPETITION.

Posted by African Press International on September 3, 2008

News Feature By Leo Odera Omolo

Kenya Flourspar Company Limited, which is based in Kerio Valley in the North Western Kenya has made a major marketing breakthrough by securing orders from two leading European manufacturer in the face of fierce competition from the Chinese suppliers.

The Companyʼs Executive Director, Canadian based entrepreneur Charles Field, Marsham, has said that the biggest challenge to the company has been competing against the Chinese, who have dominated the fluorspar market and have historically produced a proximately 40 to 50 percent of the worldʼs supply

The Chinese stronghold in the international markets has had the effort of depression prices indeed, during the 1980s and 1990s international prices remained so low that they threatened to put other suppliers out of business

The director said that Kenya Flourspar had met the challenge head-on, recently investing over Kshs 120 million (USD. 81 million) in plant and machinery in order to increase production and ensure Kenya fluorspar maintain its reputation for top quality

Besides making inroads in the European market the company is also eyeing uncreative markets in the middle East in addition to its traditions outlets in India.

Kenya Flourspar General Manager Nico Spangeberg was recently quoted as saying that the investment programme included improvement at the Mbaraki Port facility upgrading of the crashing system, new laboratory facilities and enhanced environmental compliance

He pointed out that the company was fortunate that operational were largely mattered by the recent post-election violence earlier in the year , suffering only, minor problems in transporting the fluorspar are by railway to Mombasa

Flourspar is the second most important Mineral mined in Kenya after Soda ash. It is sued to produce hydrochloric acid for various industrial use, including the manufactures of perfumes and cleaning detergents.

The Kimwerer field deposits located in the Kerio Valley has been in operation since he 1970s and was many years a state-owned enterprise

It was acquired by Mr. Field- Marsham in 1996, when the government was privatizing some unprofitable enterprises

Since then, He Company has experienced an impressive for fur around and now produces around 100,000 tonnes of fluorspar per year and has a total work force of 400. It has a railway siding near Kipsagat Railway station on the main Nakuru Malab railway line that links Kenya and Uganda where its made products are usually loaded on railways wagons

As he only major corporate concern in the region an din Keiyo district he company provided housing units health care, education and recreation facilities for local community

Ends

leooderaomolo@yahoo.com

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EAC IS STILL FACING HURDLESS OVER THE PLANNED COMMON MARKET FOR THE REGION AS MEMBERS SUSPICION PERSIST.

Posted by African Press International on September 3, 2008

By Leo Odera Omolo,

THE East African Community {EAC} member states have agreed to address reservations by some members over the establishment of a common market in the region.

While opening an EAC meeting in Nairobi a week ago, A Kenyan Permanent Secretary to the EAC David Nalo attributed the aparthy and delay in the formation of a regional common market to deep-rooted suspicions and fear of losing control of market by some member states.

The PS said some member countries of the EAC were apprehensive that the proposal would distort their market as regional powerhouse were likely to dominate the trade in the region.

There is fear of losing out as far as balance of trade is concerned, but we are optimistic of reaching a consensus, he said.

Early this year Tanzania failed to attend a crucial EAC meeting in Kigalui, Rwanda, a move interpreted other member states as lack of commitment to negotiating and implementing the common market protocol.

Tanzania has, however, maintained it is committed to the implementation of a common market, but has raised a number of issues on the deal.

The Kigali negotiations held in April this year were meant to clear the way for free movement of persons, labour, goods, services and capital within the region by the end of 2010..

Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi the other members of the EAC have agreed on the new measures to allay Tanzania fears over the common market during a High Level Task meeting, which concluded second round of the negotiation in Nairobi on August 23,2008.

The meeting reviewed Tanzanias position on the Kigali Agreement, which among other things, addressed free movement of goods, people and labour.

The EAC Secretariat at Arusha has reported that work was in progress towards a protocol that would establish a development fund.

Meanwhile the East African Community {EAC} national airlines are undergoing major aviation tests to enhance safety.

Regional aviation safety body, Civil Aviation Safety and Security Agency{CASSOA} is undertaking a re-certification exercise for the airlines that do not meet the standard by the agency would not be certified for operations.

The executive director of CASSOA Mtesigwa Maugo said the agency working through its experts and local civil aviation authorities, would help such carriers achieve required standards. The exercise, which was to be conducted on August 19, 2008 and scheduled for conclusion this week.

The first phase involved pre-application, where the airline operators were to meet with CASSOA officials for briefing on the exercise..

The next four stages were the formal application {by operators},evaluation documents {by CASSOA}, demonstration {physical assessment of operators systems and equipment} and the eventual approval for operation.

Representatives from the regio0ns major carriers met with CASSOA officials and agencys appointed aviation experts in Tanzania last week and this week.

Kenya Airways and East African Safari Express were some of the major players in Arusha for the meeting. Tanzania carriers were to follow on Thursday and Friday last week before Uganda air operators complete the phase this week

The re-certification exercise follows the end of a one-year grace period provided to the carriers to adjust to new regional aviation requirements, put in placer after EAC member states harmonized air safety regulations.

Rwanda and Burundi carriers, the two countries that joined EAC last year, are yet to be included in this arrangement, CASSOA was set up in April last year to help partner states implement recommended standards and ensure a safe and secure aviation industry for the region.

It held its first board meeting in Arusha in January this year where CASSOA approved several activities to improve then safety and security of civil aviation industry in East Africa.

Ends

leooderaomolo@yahoo.com

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PRESIDENT KAGAME PLEDGES NEW BRAND OF EFFICIENT, EFFECTIVE EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY

Posted by African Press International on September 3, 2008

PRESS RELEASE

EAC Headquarters, Arusha, 2 September 2008: H.E. President Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda and Chairperson of the Summit of Heads of State of the East African Community has said that time has come to turn around the EAC project and render it more effective and rapidly achieving.

President Kagame said that during his term as Chair of the EAC Summit he would marshal the collaborative effort of the Summit , all the organs and institutions of the Community , the broad spectrum of EAC stakeholders and the development partners to steer the East African Community to a new era of greater efficiency and effectiveness.

EAC delegation

President Kagame, who held a three hour Strategic Meeting with the Secretary General of the East African Community Juma Mwapachu and Senior EAC officials who called on him at the Office of the President in Kigali on 27 August 2008 , unveiled his vision of the 5-nation EAC regional bloc of 120 million population and a combined GDP of $50 billion.

The Secretary General was accompanied during the mission to Rwanda by Senior Officials of the East African Community: Amb. Julius Onen , Deputy Secretary General, Projects and Programmes; Hon Wilbert Kaahwa, Counsel to the Community; Dr Tom Okurut, Executive Secretary , Lake Victoria Basin Commission; Dr John Ruhangisa, Registrar, East African Court of Justice, Mr. Justin Bundi , Clerk to the East African Legislative Assembly ; Brigadier General Fred Tolit, Defence Liaison Officer; Mr. Philip Wambugu , Director, Planning and Infrastructure, Dr Nyamajeje Weggoro, Director, Productive and Social sectors; Dr Flora Musonda, Director of Trade, Mr. Magaga Alot , Head, Directorate of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs; Mr. Abdul Katabaro , Principal Administrative Officer; Ms Grace Okungu , Principal Human Resource Officer, and Mr. Henry Obbo , Chef de Cabinet.

Welcoming the EAC delegation, President Kagame said, we are grateful to have worked with you and other partners in the region to make it possible for Rwanda and Burundi to join the Community and for giving us the honour, so soon thereafter , to chair the SummitI understand clearly that the opportunity to chair the Summit does not represent any dramatic development but an opportunity to continue on the good path that has been laid . Well do our best to ensure that we can build on what there is to realize more efficiency and effectiveness in the integration process.

President outlines priorities of dynamic EAC

President Kagame said the EAC was operating in a dynamic and challenging environment , adding that his contribution would be to render the EAC into a more efficient and effective regional organization that was focused on its mission to realize the expectations and desires of the East African people in greater liberty, unity and prosperity.

The President said among the regional projects that would receive priority attention, and moved to advanced stages of implementation during his tenure, were the ongoing regional infrastructure development master plans in roads, railways, inland waterways, ports and harbours as well as the Lake Victoria investments and development master plan.

He said that other priority projects and programmes would be the promotion of East Africa as a single tourist destination; the introduction of a common East African visa for tourists and business persons as well as intensification of the programme of elimination of non tariff barriers (NTBs) under the ongoing programme of the EAC Customs Union and the negotiations of the EAC Common Market. He sad the immediate measures would be aimed at reducing the costs of doing business in East Africa and, on the whole, promote East Africa as a competitive single market and investment area with a thrust on tourism, trade and investments promotion.

The President noted that the programme of marketing and promoting East Africa as a single tourist destination , which was launched in 2005, had proceed well with the EAC Partner States participating jointly in the leading travel and tourist source markets in Europe . The President directed the EAC tourist boards to extend the joint marketing of East Africa to Asia, Far East , Australia and America , stating that EAC had great tourist potential with significant multiplier effects on the economies of the five countries.

The President also noted that the aviation industry had great strategic significance to the EAC regional integration and development. He said the tourism industry would also be among the priorities of his tenure, including revival of the East African Flying School / East African Aviation School in Soroti , Uganda for training of pilots and aviation engineers. He said the aviation industry in East Africa would be revamped with promotion of investments to the sector to raise aviation standards and safety, open and safe skies and overall air traffic management in the region to the highest competitive levels.

Strengthening authority of EAC Secretariat

Meanwhile the EAC delegation during a three day (25-27 August 2008) Strategic consultative mission to Rwanda on the EAC integration process in Kigali addressed a series of meetings attended by Cabinet Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and Senior Officers of the Rwanda government.

During the launching session, the Counsel to the Community, Hon Wilbert Kaahwa reviewed the judicial and legal challenges facing the Community stating that the EAC concentrated its legal and judicial affairs on the promotion and protection of peoples rights within the Community. He said the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC which was signed in 1999 was currently being reviewed to address some of the challenges and shortcomings that have been noted during the past eight years as well as the demands of the EAC enlargement and expansion of the regional programme. Hon Kaahwa said the issue of sovereignty at the national level was at the core of the implementation bottlenecks the EAC was experiencing . He said that the issue of sovereignty should be revisited so that decisions are more binding and their implementation more expeditious.

Hon Kaahwa said the enforcement processes as well as the sanctions provided under the Treaty were weak. He quipped that the provisions were negotiated more by diplomats than lawyers , noting that the provisions of decision-making by consensus posed a great challenge to the Communitys performance adding that , How do you enforce sanctions against a Partner State where you have decision by consensus and the Partner States are expected to take sanctions against one of them by consensus? .

The Secretary General said that the requirement of decision making by consensus had posed a logjam on the operations of the Community which needed to be addressed by the Partner States ceding adequate authority to the EAC to speed up the decision making process and enable the EAC Secretariat to act with greater confidence and more decisively in implementing regional projects and programmes.

Directorate of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs

EAC ,Arusha

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DAR AND KAMPALA IN BIG DIPLOMATIC AND POLITICAL ROW OVER THE ALLEGED NILE SECRET PACT WITH EGYPT

Posted by African Press International on September 3, 2008

New Analysis by Leo Odera Omolo

A Kenyan weekly newspaper has become whistleblower in a matter of high profile and sensitive top secret deal between Kampala and Cairo over the fresh Nile pact.

The EASTAFRICAN reported this week that diplomatic row is simmering between Tanzania and Uganda over the alleged suspicion by Dar Es Salaam that President Yoweri Museveni and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak were secretly negotiating a deal over the use of Lake Victoria waters without involving other members of the Nile Basin Initiative.

Apparently Tanzania government officials believe that the two countries are suspected to have already concluded an exclusive secret bilateral deal daring the recent visit to Kampala by the Egyptian leader

Tanzania and Uganda are key members and stakeholders of the Nile Basin Initiative that also include Kenya, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Burundi.

Tension rose recently when Tanzania demanded that Kampala should share with it details of the discussions and bilateral arrangement it has entered into with Egypt.

Tanzania is also said to be uncomfortable with what it sees as an upsurge of diplomatic activity between Kampala and Cairo, especially recent and frequent visit to Cairo by the Ugandan Minister for Water and Environment Ms Maria Mutagamba.

The minister is the Ugandas chief negotiator on Nile basin issues.

President Hosni Mubarak made a brief unscheduled stopper in Entebbe at the end of July this year and Tanzania has demanded that Kampala share the details of the alleged secret bilateral arrangements on the use of the River Niles waters that were agreed with Egypt.

Tanzania suspects that the two leaders secretly entered into a pact to take more water out of the river for their mutual benefit.

Tensions were fanned further after Ugandan Water and Environment Minister Maria Mutagamba made three unofficial successive secret visits to Cairo that Dar now suspects could have been intended to draw up the framework for the Mubarak-Museveni pact.

According to information made available by impeccable sources, President Hosni Mubarak made a brief stopper in Uganda on his way home from South Africa where he had gone for rally support for Sudanese President Omar El Bashir against his likely indictment for crime against humanity by the International Criminal court of Justice.

According to a source in Kampala who sought anonymity among other bilateral issues, the two presidents also have specific discussions on the use of the Nile Waters. Neither of the countries, however, shared the minutes of these talks with the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) an Inter-Governmental Organizations that brings together the Nile Basin countries of Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) ,Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Sudan and Uganda.

The influential weekly, the EASTAFRICAN which is published by the Nation Group of Newspaper in Nairobi further revealed in what it termed an exclusive article that it has learnt that Dar had placed an urgent requests with Kampala for the minutes for NBI in vain and consequently asked the organizations to use its mandate to follow up on the matter.

Tanzanias interest in the matter is said to arise from concerns that Uganda is releasing waters beyond the normal flow from Lake Victoria into the river Nile for purposes of hydropower generation, which in the process ensure more water flowing towards Egypt but hurts the ecosystem of the lake.

Kampala according to the papers, confirmed that the Nile issues was high on the agenda of the two presidents meeting, but insisted that Tanzania should not intervene in two countries bilateral relations because whereas Uganda hosts the major exit to the Nile, Egypt lifeline depends on the river.

Besides, whatever we discuss withegypt that is regional is subject to approval by all in the countries in the Nile Basin so they should not be suspicious Isaac Musumba, Ugandas Minister of State for foreign Affairs and Regional Integrity was briefly quoted as having made the remark.

It is understood that NBI member states are yet to agree on a new deal that will govern the use of the Nile waters after throwing out the outdated bilateral agreement between Egypt and the former British colonialists because not all the countries in the basin had consented to them.

Against that background, Uganda recent behavior on issues regarding the Nile is being seen as potentially undermining the confidence and trust that had so far developed among the member over the past 10 years of negotiating a new agreement.

It has been further reveled that Minister Maria Mutagamba, Ugandas political negotiator on Nile Basin issues is alleged to have made three unofficial secret visits to Egypt over several months without the knowledge of her countrys diplomatic mission in Cairo. Such moves made some riparian states suspicious.

The quarrel over the Nile has escalated differences between Uganda and Tanzania to such an extent that Ms Mutagamba was recently snubbed in Dar Es Salaam when she unsuccessfully sought an audience with President Jakaya Kikwete.

Ms Mutagamba who formerly chaired the Nile Council of Ministers, earlier wanted a head of state summit to be convened so that the agreement would be finalized and signed by the Presidents, a development that would see a permanent Nile Basin Commission established and implementation of many development programmes commenced.

Informed sources in Dar have hinted that Uganda Minister had planned her strategy, which was to persuade President Kikwete, the current Chairman of the African Union (AU) to squeeze in a side meeting for the Nile Basin Heads of State into the agenda of the AU summit held in June in Sharm El Sheikh Egypt, so that they would be briefed on the status of the agreement and be requested to schedule the historical summit.

Ms Mutagamba and Sortie Byamukamua one of the directors in the Uganda ministry of Water and Environment and his countrys technical negotiator on the agreement, and Andace Ndayizeyeye executive director of NBI had travelled to Tanzania for that purpose. But on arrival, the office secretary of the Tanzania Minister of water received them, but the permanent Secretary would not grant the trio access to the Minister let alone President Kikwete.

As it turned out no side meeting was held during the AU summit in Egypt and endorsement of the draft agreement by the heads of state is still pending.

One of the sticking points preventing an agreement is a clause in its draft pertaining to the security of water for all the riparian states. Observers were quick in pointing out that it is for this same reason that countries like Tanzania are demanding that Uganda and Egypt come clean on their meeting and release the minutes of their discussions on the Nile to NBI that will in return inform the other eight countries in the sub-region.

There have been concerns expressed within and out side Uganda that the country is releasing more water into the Nile than the normal flows naturally from lake Victoria in order to achieve enough water pressure to run the turbines at the twin Nalunbale and Kiira power plants in Jinja in order to generate more electricity to reduce the energy deficit facing the country.

Uganda has in the past argued that the real cause of falling water levels in Lake Victoria is tied to the climate change phenomenal and catchment area degradation in countries where the major rivers that discharge who the lake originate.

The falling levels have affected the ecosystem of the lake resulting in declining fisheries, difficulties in water navigation. But for Egypt, it means more water flowing towards it.

An Egyptian government communiqu following President Mubarak visit reads in parts Uganda holds an important place on the Egyptian agenda as 15 percent of the Nile water flow from Lakes Victoria and Albert. It is an important Nile basin country and the Nile artery is vital for aspects of Egyptian national Security. It has influence on the conditions in other Nile Basin Countries

Egypt through its negotiations and actions has made it clear that it does not want the flow and quantity of water in the Nile to be interrupted either artificially of by natural occurrences.

Currently it is sponsoring a 10-year programme in Uganda to rid the Nile and Lake Albert of the water hyacinth on top of advising on any planned activities on the rivers such as hydropower generation

Ends

leooderaomolo@yahoo.com

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WHO urges quick action to kick polio out of northern Nigeria

Posted by African Press International on September 3, 2008

By Tansa Musa
YAOUNDE, Sept 2 (Reuters) – The WHO Africa regional office on Tuesdaylaunched an appeal for urgent action tointerrupt the wild poliovirus in northern Nigeria, sustain optimum involvement of communities in high risk areas, and conduct independent monitoring and evaluation of immunization activities at all levels.
According to a press release issued in Yaounde, the office said the West African giant country is the only African country and one of the four worldwide where polio is still endemic. The others are Afghanistan, India and Pakistan.
“Although the number of wild poliovirus cases in Nigeria declined by 75 percent from 1,125 in 2006 to 279 in 2007, and in the African region from 1,192 to 367 during the same period, ‘endemic transmission continues to be restricted to Northern Nigeria,” it says.
”To ensure impact of interventions, innovative approaches to improve acceptability, community participation and ownership will have to be intensified.”
According to the release, Nigeria recently introduced the “immunization plus” days which have resulted in better community acceptability and a 25 percent increase in the number of children vaccinated in the north of the country.
So far, five states in Nigeria have achieved at least 80 percent oral polio vaccine coverage compared to none at the end of 2006. This increase in immunity is reflected in declining poliovirus transmission in high-burden states of the West African nation, it added.
Speaking at the opening of the 58th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa on Monday, the director-general of the World Health Organisation, Margaret Chan warned that African countries are at risk of polio following a new outbreak of type 1, the most dangerous strain of the disease, which is affecting northern states in Nigeria.
This outbreak, she said, has already begun to spread to neighbouring countries, although she did not name any.
”Emergency immunizationcampaigns have been conducted, but the quality of the these campaigns is simply not good enough,” she stated.(END)
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Two Bakassi militant groups want captured combatants returned, demand compensation

Posted by African Press International on September 3, 2008

By Tansa Musa
YAOUNDE, Sept 2 – The Bakassi peninsula will be transformed into another Darfur within one week ifCameroondoes not release two of their combatants capturedin July and pay compensation to Nigerians forced to leave the territory following the handover of authority on August 14, two militant groups operating in the region have warned.
The warning is contained in a three-pointultimatum sent to the Cameroon government on Sunday by theBakassi Freedom Fighters (BFF) and the Niger Delta Defence and Security Council (NDDSC), a copy of which was forwarded to Reuters in Yaounde on Monday evening.
“We are frully aware…that in our last gun battle with your soldiers, two of our combatants were captured alive. We want them to be released unconditionally to us because they are prisoners of wart, and as provided by the Geneva convention a prisoner of war must not be killed but be treated humanely and returned to his state of origin,” say the two.
Secondly, they add, if the two fighters are not released it would mean that they have been killed. In that case, Cameroon should pay a compensation of1 million U.S. dollars each for the upkeep of their families orthe matter will be taken to the UN security council for war crimes.
Lastly, the BFF and NDDSC are demanding a compensation of 1 billion U.S. dollars to people forced to leave the formerly disputed territory, which they describe as their “ancestral land”,following the transfer of authority from Nigeria to Cameroon last August 14.
“Failure to comply with our threedemands will automatically transform Bakassi and Cameroon land ungovernable and lawless…In other words, there will and must be chaos, anarchy and disorder as it is in the Niger Delta in Nigeria, Darfur in Sudan, Somalia, etc.”
The, two militant groups which claim to have some 1050 combatants, promise to lay down their arms and vacate the territorywithin 48 hours once their demands are met.
Over 90 percent of the people living in Bakassi are Nigerians who saytheir ancestors lived in the area before a 1913 colonial era Anglo-German treaty on which the International Court of Justice based its 2002 ruling recognising the territory as belonging to Cameroon.
On this score, they opposed the handover and a Nigerian court last July 31 ordered that country’s authorities to delay the move until it had dealt with the lawsuit file by community leaders to that end.
But the authorities defied the order and went ahead to hand over Bakassi to Cameroon last August 14 at a ceremony in Calabar.
The BBF and NDDSC have claimed responsibility for a series of attacks on Cameroon military posts in the formerly disputedpeninsula since last November, resulting in over 50 deaths. The last such attack took place in late July when Cameroon said it killed 10 of the gunmen it described as “pirates” and seized eight others.
Bakassi, which is known to have offshore oil, lies east of Nigeria’s Niger Delta, where attacks by armed militant groups have cut output from the world’s eighth-biggest oil producer by a fifth, helping push oil prices to record highs.(END)
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WHO regional director says Africa makes modest but steady progress in HIV prevention

Posted by African Press International on September 3, 2008

By Tansa Musa
YAOUNDE, Sept 2 – African countries have made modest but steady progress in curbing HIV infection since the WHO Regional Office for Africa launched in 2006 an initiative to accelerate HIV prevention in the region, says a progress report presented by the regional directorDr Luis Sambo to the 58th session of the regional committee taking place in Yaounde on Tuesday.
According to the report, since the launch of the initiative in 2006, 21 countries have developed roadmaps for acceleration of HIV prevention, 25 have revised national plans into which acceleration of HIV prevention have been strategically integrated, and 10 have establsihed HIV prevention committees to improve coordination.
Also, five countries have organized national forums to discuss the factors driving the HIV epidemic, six countries launched national campaigns to promote HIV testing and counselling (HTC), and another six have taken concrete steps to integrate male circumcision into their HIV prevention priorities.
It further states that 23 of the 46 member states in the WHO Africa region were supported by WHO to expand HTC and in prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT).
”The result of this effort has been encouraging: districts with atleast one facility for providing HTC increased from 5 percentin 2005 to 60 percent in 2007, while the total number of pregnant women accessing PMTCT services increased from 190,000 at the end of 2005 to over 300,000 by the end of 2007,” says the report.
A markedly apparent increase was recorded in eastern and southern Africa, it notes.
During the same period, the report adds, the proportion of patients accessing antiretroviral treatment roseto 35 percent (which represents a54 percentincrease in just a year) thanks to the close collaboration with partners as well as increased availability of financial resources.
Looking ahead, the report says the WHO will continue to support countries to focus on cost-effective and evidence-based interventions, advocate for sustained quality health promotion, forge new strategic partnerships and harmonize on-going collaborative efforts to support coordinated scaling up of HIV prevention activities.
Meanwhile,submitted for discussion by the 46 health ministers and experts attending the 58th session,Dr. Sambocalls on countries in the region to strengthen public health laboratories so as to respond to the high and growing health threats to Africans.
Improving Africa’s laboratory services – currently characterized by inadequate staffing, equipment and supplies – is critical to disease control efforts as this will lead to prompt and appropriate responses to epidemics, quicker and better disease detection, and better patient management, it says.
“Despite the growing threat from emerging and re-emerging pathogens, very few laboratories have the capacities for diagnosing highly infectious diseases such as viral haemorrhagic fever, severe acute respiratory syndrome, chikungunya and the highly pathogenic influenza virus,” says the report.
It regrets that member states continue to send specimens to other countries for confirmation, thus resulting in delayed response to outbreaks.
“The establishmentof centres for excellence or public health laboratories to provide diagnostic services thus constitutes a huge challenge for most countries in the Africa Region.”
In another development, Dr. Sambo further lists 10 actions which could significantly improve patient safety in the region. These are development of a national policy for patient safety, raising awareness of all stakeholders on the importance of petient safety, ensurfing safe surgical care, minimising healthcare-associated infections, and ensuring adequate funding for patient safety activities.
The others are improving knowledge and learning in patientsafety, re-orienting health systems to make petient safety an integral part of quality care, ensuring appropriate use, quality and safety of medicines, and strengthening surveillance and capacity for research.
According to the report, healtcare-associated infection is a global problem, with over 1.4 million people suffering it at any given time. It is estimated that in hospitals in developed countries, 5-10 percent of patients acquire one or more infections in health facilities, the risk being two to 20 times higher in developing countries, with patients undergoing surgery being the most affected.
The high rate of these infections in Africa is blamed on weak health care delivery systems, poor infrastructure to support basic but essential procedures such as hand hygiene, weak management capacity, under-equipped health facilities, poor injection and blood safety procedures, overcrowding and limited microbiological information.
In 2004, 7 percent of countries in the Africa regiondid not test all donated blood for HIV,22 percent did not test for hepatitis B and 51 percent did not test for hepatitis C. The proportion of infections caused by syringes or needles re-used without sterilization ranged from 1.5 percent to 69 percent, it says.
It adds that a recent survey on the quality of antimalarial drugs in seven African countries revealed that between 20 and 90 percent of the products failed quality testing, and calls for global action to ensure that all concerned players contribute to this important component of health care systems.(END)

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Karua, the Kenyan minister says no to lawyers on constitutional review demands

Posted by African Press International on September 3, 2008

Fresh push for law review

Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Martha Karua (left) speaks with Ms Joyce Majiwa, a member of the LSK consultative council, after a meeting at the Hilton hotel in Nairobi on Tuesday. Photo/STEPHEN MUDIARI

ByNATION Team

In Summary

  • Lawyers opposed a referendum as a way of adopting the proposed new constitution.
  • Law Society of Kenya also opposed the inclusion of foreign experts in the review.

Lawyers and lobby groups met separately with Justice Minister Martha Karua on Tuesday in the push for a new constitution.

The lawyers opposed a referendum as a way of adopting the proposed new constitution, saying it was divisive.

However, they said that since the two constitutional Bills tabled in Parliament had proposed the poll, urgent reforms were required in the Electoral Commission of Kenya, which will conduct it.

On their part, the lobby groups pushed for a constituent assembly to make the process all-inclusive and democratic.

Both groups said the Government should consider providing two drafts of the constitution a parliamentary and a presidential system for Kenyans to choose the appropriate one.

The Law Society of Kenya also opposed the inclusion of foreign experts in the review.

Foreign experts

Saying the constitution should be made by Kenyans for Kenyans, the lawyers told the minister and the Parliamentary Committee on Administration of Justice and Legal Affairs headed by Mr Abdikadir Mohammed that the foreign experts should only act as advisers.

The lawyers demanded to be included in the review process, according to Section IV of the LSK Act, which gives them the mandate to give legal advice to the Government. It was wrong, they said, for them to be lumped together with other civil society members.

Sources at the closed door meeting at Hilton Hotel in Nairobi said the lawyers further called for reforms in the Judiciary, claiming that Kenyans had lost confidence in its ability to solve disputes arising from political crises.

LSK was represented at the meeting by its chairman, Mr Okongo Omogeni, Mr Nzamba Gitonga, Mr Mutakha Kangu, Ms Njoki Ndungu, Mr Kamotho Waiganjo and Mr Apollo Mboya.

Ms Karua said the involvement of foreign experts was necessary due to the deep mistrust among Kenyans after last years election.

And she agreed that reforms in the judiciary were necessary and revealed that a Judicial Service Act would soon be published to spearhead performance contracts in that arm of government.

Addressing journalists after the meeting, Mr Omogeni said lawyers wanted amendments to the Constitution of Kenya Review Bill and Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, which have been tabled in Parliament to help jump-start the review process.

The meeting also discussed the duration of the review process. The lawyers are to meet the minister again on Friday.

Ms Karua opposed the call for a constituent college by representatives of religious groups, NGOs and political parties under the umbrella of the Inter Parties Forum for Constitutional Review.

She dismissed the constituent assembly proposal as being no different from Parliament.

Interest group

Opening up to one interest group, locks out the others, she said.

The NGOs proposal seeks to establish a council of reference to spearhead the process. The proposed council is to have a panel of experts to offer advice on the review process.

Tuesday’s forum at Nairobis Stanley Hotel was organised by the Regional Centre for Stability, Security and Peace in Africa.

The civil society proposed that two documents address the parliamentary and presidential systems of government, that the two documents be presented to Parliament for final amendments, then be subjected to a yes-yes referendum.

Mr Cyprian Nyamwamu of the National Convention Executive Council said, whichever way Kenyans vote on the referendum, a new constitution dispensation would be in place.

Reports Lucas Barasa, Nazish Dholakia and Alphonce Shiundu

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Raila’s wife chooses to decline accepting government allowances due to huge public outcry

Posted by African Press International on September 3, 2008

Ida declines Sh400,000 Government allowance

By Dennis Onyango

Prime Minister Raila Odingas wife has declined the Sh400,000 monthly allowance offered by the State.

Mrs Ida Odinga, however, thanked the Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura for recognising the public responsibility she shoulders by virtue of being the PMs wife.

Mr Muthauras offer to Ida and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyokas wife, Pauline, triggered a national outcry.

Speaking for the first time since the controversy broke out a fortnight ago, Ida said she had not commented about the issue because she had not received communication from the Government.

Mrs Ida Odinga has thanked the Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura for recognising the public responsibility she shoulders by virtue of being the PMs wife.

“I first read about this thing in the Press. All this time that the media have been talking about the allowances, I had nothing from Government showing I would be paid. I treated the talk as rumours or malicious propaganda somebody had initiated against me,” she said at her home on Tuesday.

Important role

A letter made available to The Standard dated September 1 and signed by Mr Andrew Mondoh on behalf of the PS in the Prime Ministers office, said:

“The Government of Kenya has taken cognizance of the critical role that you play as spouse of the Rt Hon Prime Minister Mr Raila Odinga in projecting a positive image of our nations family values.

“In addition, the Government recognises your wise counsel and guidance which contribute to the public good in the course of nation building activities, besides playing hostess during national and other official public engagements.

“In view of the above, and in order to compensate for the above services,” the letter said, the State had approved a monthly payment for her of Sh400,000 and allowances when she travels “within and outside the country on official engagements”.

Ida said: “The legacy I have built is not worth Sh400,000. I thank Mr Muthaura for appreciating that there is a heavy responsibility that comes by virtue of my position. But I will not take the money.

“I have seen people writing that I should take care of Raila on my own. Surely, Kenyans know I always do that. Kenyans know I have taken care of my husband in good and bad times without help from the State, sometimes in spite of the State. I will continue doing that,” she said.

She went on: “I attend at least three functions a day, each of them public functions. I will continue doing that. I host people in the name of the Republic of Kenya.

“People come from abroad, convinced that the practice here is similar to that of their countries. I host them in my house, my private office or in hotels, on behalf of the Republic of Kenya. That is why I thank Mr Muthaura for showing some understanding.”

Spouses of heads of State in developed countries such as the US, UK or South Africa, do not earn such allowances.

The Vice-Presidents wife is yet to make her stand on the monthly allowance.

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The scarcity of Oranges causing The collapse of ODM as pentagon members go tribal

Posted by African Press International on September 3, 2008

ODMs Pentagon survive?

By David Ohito And Mutinda Mwanzia

The future of ODMs top advisory organ Pentagon is uncertain as party members prepare for a retreat at the weekend to discuss its role.

It will be an acid test for Prime Minister Raila Odinga as he chairs the ODM retreat on Sunday amid disquiet from some party MPs.

Members of the Pentagon, Raila Odinga – PM, Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Cabinet ministers William Ruto, Najib Balala, Joe Nyagah and Charity Ngilu.

Top on the agenda will be whether to retain the Pentagon. Apart from the Prime Minister, other members of the Pentagon are Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Cabinet ministers William Ruto, Najib Balala, Joe Nyagah and Charity Ngilu.

The partys national governing council, which includes the National Executive Committee, MPs and regional representatives, will resolve whether the Pentagon should be retained.

“We will raise issues of governance, assess the coalition and ask whether ODM ideals are being achieved,” said Mr Isaac Ruto, the MP for Chepalungu.

Ruto said ODM would also reiterate its stand on constitutional review, especially over “presidential and parliamentary systems” of Government.

But a survey by The Standard showed that many MPs had not received the meetings agenda from party headquarters.

Some MPs promised that they would audit ODMs position in the Grand Coalition Government and assess whether the party was in “real power sharing”.

Government Chief Whip Jakoyo Midiwo said the party had scrutinised the Budget presented in Parliament in June and would question allocations that cannot be allegedly justified.

“Our experts have assisted us with crucial scrutiny of the Budget and we will ask queries while discussing the legislative agenda of ODM,” Mr Midiwo said.

He added: “We have only 11 days to discuss the Budget when Parliament reconvenes on October 7. But we must interrogate the estimates and ask for answers.”

Unity key agenda

The retreat is a follow up of the May 28 meeting at Safari Park where critical issues affecting the coalition arrangement and internal matters were discussed and a time for implementation and review set.

Sources privy to the meetings guarded agenda said it includes the push for a Grand Opposition and the push for the party to take a position.

The party will also audit its legislative agenda and take stock of its performance in Parliament.

“Technical papers giving direction on the amendments to the ODM constitution, including structures, will also be presented,” a top party operative who requested anonymity said.

Raila will expect to galvanise the party for support after publicly opposing the Grand Opposition, saying: “You cannot have a party whose half is in Government and other in the Opposition.”

Ruto has questioned the role of the Pentagon, saying it was a vehicle that supported Railas campaign and was not recognised in the party structure.

The controversial Mau Forest, over which Raila has been crusading for conservation and relocation of inhabitants, is another thorny issue that would be addressed.

ODM will meet a week before Vice-President Kalonzo Musyokas party, ODM-Kenya, holds a similar retreat in Embu to discuss issues that have rocked the party.

Party members will meet at the Isaac Walton Hotel between September 12 and 13.

In recent months, the party has faced dissent from some MPs and officials. Led by Mr Kiema Kilonzo (Mutito) and Mr Charles Kilonzo (Yatta), the MPs have openly led a revolt against Kalonzo in the party.

Kilonzo said a team had been formed to iron out differences between rival camps.

He said many members felt the party had got a raw deal in the Grand Coalition Government.

“We clamour to have a revitalised party and should not be viewed as fighting. Our mission is to fight for the truth,” said Kilonzo.

Meanwhile, party Secretary-General Mutula Kilonzo, who is also the Metropolitan Development minister, has said membership recruitment drives would take place in September and October, and grassroots elections in early November.

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Kenya government still having headache with the Goldenberg fellow mr pattni, the Asian!

Posted by African Press International on September 3, 2008

‘KACC granted me amnesty’says Pattni

Written By:Doreen Apollos

Caption: Businessman Kamlesh Pattni is the 16th witness to testify at the Cockar Commission

Businessman Kamlesh Pattni, the 16th witness to take over the witness stand at the Cockar commission said that the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission granted him amnesty against civil charges and previous criminal charges filed against him and his companies by the Central Bank.

Pattni maintained that he surrendered the Grand Regency hotel in exchange of what he refers to as global settlement against any civil or criminal charges by the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission in an agreement between him and Justice Aaron Ringera.

Pattni further refuted claims of owing the Central bank any debts and produced documents in effect that the bank owed him over 3 billion shillings.

Pattni produced a letter dated September 29, 1994 in which correspondent between him and the Central bank reflected that indeed as the bank owed him and his companies 3.5B unlike previous accusations that Pattni owed the bank a sum to of 2.5 B leading to the controversies between the two parties.

However, Kamlesh denied any involvement in the sale of the hotel to the Libyans stating that the Central bank had turned down an offer he had proposed to sell the hotel to a Malaysian company, the Westmont holding.

Pattni continues with his testimony on Wednesday.

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The late Zambian president to be laid to rest

Posted by African Press International on September 3, 2008

President Kibaki leaves for Zambia

Written By:PPS

President Mwai Kibaki left the country on Tuesday for Lusaka Zambia where he will join other world leaders for the State Funeral of the Late President of the Republic of Zambia, Dr. Levy Patrick Mwanawasa.

The plane carrying President Kibaki and the First Lady Lucy Kibaki departed the Jomo Kenyatta International shortly before 3:00 pm.

At the airport the President was seen off by the Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, Internal Security Minister Prof. George Saitoti, Head of Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet Ambassador Francis Muthaura, Chief of General Staff Gen. Jeremiah Kianga among other senior Government officials.

The Zambian Head of State Levy Patrick Mwanawasa died on 19th of August in a French hospital where he was undergoing treatment.

The late Mwanawasa is scheduled to be accorded a state burialon Wednesday.

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Minister clashes with the Civil Society over constitution review

Posted by African Press International on September 3, 2008

Written By:Daniel Waitere

Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Martha Karua on Tuesday clashed with the civil societies over the constitutional review process.

Speaking at a meeting with civil societies representatives at a Nairobi hotel, Karua maintained that a team of international experts should spearhead the process to avoid political interests.

However the civil societies opposed the move saying that all the seven-committee members should be local since they would be well versed with the interests of Kenyans.

The Minister and the civil society could also not agree on whether the public should be involved in the review process.

Karua argued that parliament should pass the draft before subjecting it to a referendum while the civil society argued that a constituent Assembly was vital before a referendum.

Karua expressed optimism that the country could get a new constitution by the end of next year saying the process would only require dialogue to iron out the contentious issues and would not need to start afresh.

The government has already published the two crucial bills, the constitution of Kenya amendment bill 2008 and the constitution of Kenya review bill to entrench the review process

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