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Archive for September 12th, 2008

UN condemns renewed violence in North Darfur

Posted by African Press International on September 12, 2008

The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mr. John Holmes Wednesday voiced deep concern about reports of fresh violence in the north of the war-torn Darfur region of western Sudan, especially a recent government military offensive and attacks on aid workers by armed groups.

The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mr. John Holmes called for all sides in the Darfur conflict, which has pitted rebels against government forces and allied Janjaweed militiamen since 2003, to cease hostilities immediately and engage in meaningful talks towards a lasting settlement.

His comments follow reports from rebels and internally displaced persons (IDPs) that Sudanese government forces launched sustained aerial bombardments over the past week near the villages of Birmaza and Disa in the North Darfur State.

Sudanese military sources informed the hybrid UN-African Union peacekeeping mission to Darfur (UNAMID) that no offensive against rebel positions was taking place, but the mission has observed movements of heavily armed men, vehicles and materiel, and an increase in aircraft traffic, particularly attack helicopters.

UNAMID, which has not yet established a presence in the area because of security reasons, said that while it could not confirm that fighting was occurring between the Government and rebels, its observations indicated that intense military activity was taking place.

Mr. Holmes, who is also the Emergency Relief Coordinator for the UN, reminded the parties to the conflict of their responsibilities under international humanitarian law to protect civilians, differentiate between civilian and military targets and ensure unimpeded access for aid workers to the millions of civilians in need across the region.

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Posted by African Press International on September 12, 2008

At least 16 people were killed and more others injured in a clan-related fighting in border villages between middle shabelle and Hiiraan regions in central Somalia.

The fighting over the ownership of grazing lands between the two regions erupted late on Thursday and continued over on Friday night.

All those who died and injured in the clan-based fighting were among the warring militias, as Abdalal Hussein Yahya a journalist in the region told APA.

Both sides are regrouping and the situation is very tense, as an other breakout of fighting is imminent at any minute, he adds.

The death tall is expected to rise because of the serious injuries of some of the wounded militias said Mahmoud Ahmed an elder in the region who talked to APA via phone on Friday.

In other developments, unknown gunmen assassinated a top Somali government official on Friday morning in Badoa, the transitional seat of the Somali parliament.

Sheik Mohamed Hajji Abdulkadeer, chairman of the appeals court of the Bay region was shot dead in the center of the town by unidentified men armed with pistols.

Masked armed men killed the chairman and they escaped, a resident in Baidoa Ali Yusuf who witnessed the killing, told APA.

The killing coincides with three days after Mohamed Osman Maye a legislator in the Somali parliament was gunned down in the same town of Baidoa as he left a mosque.

Somalia has been without a central administration since the downfall of the former military government of Siad Barrie in 1991.More than 500,000 people have died in fierce wars, millions displaced in the country and hundreds of thousands have sought refuge in foreign nations since then.

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Mozambique welcomes Zimbabwe power-sharing deal

Posted by African Press International on September 12, 2008

Mozambique said on Friday it welcomed Zimbabwes power-sharing deal as agreed upon Thursday between President Robert Mugabe and leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Morgan Tsvangirai reached after two months of tough negotiations following a deep post-election crisis.

Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Henrique Banze told APA in an interview on Friday that Mozambique hoped the signatories would commit themselves to the deal and immediately revive the regions economic fortunes.

We welcome the development and hope that regional economic and political stability will be consolidated, the rule of law will be back on track in Zimbabwe, and we congratulate Zimbabweans for their patients and will to overcome their problems.\”

He added, Mozambique is hopeful that all differences would be put behind in Zimbabwes new economic recovery path. We call upon all key partners in this process to give their best.

Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe since independence, will officially sign the deal on Monday in Harare at a ceremony expected to be attended by regional leaders, including Mozambican President Armando Guebuza.

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Posted by African Press International on September 12, 2008

Fears are growing in Britain and South Africa over oil workers in Nigeria after it emerged Thursday night that nationals of both countries were on board a hijacked supply boat in Nigeria.

The oil workers were seized by unidentified gunmen who stormed a supply boat in Niger Delta, include two Britons, two South Africans and a Ukrainian all being held on board the vessel which has now run aground along with eight Nigerians, according to officials.

The HD Blue Ocean was reportedly attacked by unidentified gunmen on Tuesday at the entrance of the Sambreiro River in the hostile Niger Delta, a vast network of mangrove creeks which is home to Africas biggest oil industry.

Both British and South African officials have accused Nigerian military officials of remaining silent on the attack, though the British High Commission in Nigeria, lately said they were liaising with the host authorities, aimed at ensuring release of the kidnapped workers. We have been in touch with the Nigerian authorities to press for their early release.

The latest kidnappings follow fresh calls for oil companies to pull British workers out of Nigeria after the UK government warned it would be reckless to remain without proper security advice.

The UK Foreign Office first urged workers to return home in June last year after officials ruled the security risk in the trouble-torn Niger Delta region was too severe.

Since then, some firms have withdrawn workers, but about 250 Scottish oil workers are still thought to be in Nigeria.

Kidnappings of foreign workers for ransom are common in the lawless delta, which produces around 2.5million barrels of crude oil a day for Nigeria.

Since January 2006, 36 Britons and more than 180 other foreigners have been kidnapped. One Briton was killed.

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Posted by African Press International on September 12, 2008

The African National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma received a superstar welcome from thousands of supporters outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Friday.

Just moments earlier, Judge Chris Nicholson had declared the decision to prosecute him on fraud and corruption charges invalid, holding that the state should have consulted him before going ahead with the prosecution. Cheers of joy erupted outside the court when the verdict was broadcast to his supporters camped out in Freedom Square, opposite the court, in a chilly Pietermaritzburg.

Surrounded by dozens of bodyguards, Zuma waved as he arrived to address his supporters, some of whom had climbed into trees to catch a glimpse of him.

“Chris Nicholson is not a counter-revolutionary judge,” ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe told supporters after the ruling.

ANC Youth League president Julius Malema said he always knew Zuma would win the court bid to have the prosecution declared invalid.

“The problem in this country is President Thabo Mbeki and his people… We dont want him,” Malema said.

“The ANCs national executive committee (NEC) has got a responsibility to recall Mbeki or else we will recall them.

“To the racist media… we defeated you again,” Malema added to loud cheers.

Behind him was a huge banner with a picture of Zuma and the words “hands off our president”.

“Today, we feel absolutely vindicated. We want to see who the rapists of the judicial system are,” said Congress of South African Trade Unions secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi

“There is a political conspiracy, thats what we have been saying. Thats what we have been ridiculed for.”

South African Communist Party general secretary Blade Nzimande said Zumas rights had been raped.

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