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Archive for October, 2008

To all the Readers: Problem with our email account

Posted by African Press International on October 31, 2008

API got aproblem with email account from yesterday.

That is the reason why some readers have not been able to get replies to their emails. The Norwegian electricity company “Hafslund” was attending to their electricity lines after the heavy snow fell and damaged some of them. While doing repairs on the damged lines, it affected the cable TV and Internet lines leading to a numer of buildings, API’s building included.

This happens almost every year in many places in Norway at the start of the snow season. It is not sabbotage on our email traffic.

The cable TV/Internet network is now working on the lines to repair all the connections.

We apologise the inconvenience that this has caused. We hope everything will be in order either today Friday 31st., or tomorrow 1st of November.

Chief Editor Korir

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Trade war between Kenya and South Africa has intensified

Posted by African Press International on October 31, 2008

<Business feature By Leo Odera Omolo

As per areport filed earlier by this writer, the South African government has now officially clamped a total ban on Kenya’s avocados exports to its market.

This has prompted players in the Kenyan horticultural industry to ask the government to immediately take a retaliatory action on non-tariff barrier on South African imports in response to the latter’s ban on Kenyan avocados.

South Africa in the past six months, has virtuallybanned imports of fresh fruits from Kenya, citing fruit fly infestation.

There have been an un successful efforts by Kenya in the past to have the ban lifted, with the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS) pleading for Kenya fruits in vain. This is an internationally recognized body charged with the responsibility of serving as a certifying agency, serving South Africa with documents detailing tests carried out that gave the fruits a clean bill of health.

Fresh Produce Exports Association of Kenya chief executive officer (CEO) Stephen Mbithi was recently quoted by the Nairobi’s popular weekly, the EASTAFRICAN as saying that, although South Africa has finally responded to inquiries on why the ban was still on and asked for further technical details,” the ban should be lifted because it is illegal and against the World Trade Organization’s (WTO} Sanitary and Phyatosanitary agreement .

Kephis managing director Dr. Chagema Kedero was also quoted by the same media as saying that the institution was currently busy sampling the information wanted by South African authorities and was hopeful that the interrupted trade would be restored soon.

The KEPHIS boss added that Kenya joined the organization for economic cooperation and development fruit and vegetable scheme, which sets out standards in international trade, and of which South Africa is a member, a development that is expected to make it easier for the two countries to resolve the problem amicably,

Dr.Mbithi said if the ban is not lifted then Kenya must with immediate effect ban imports of fruit pulp and fresh fruits from South Africa in retaliation.

His sentiments had been echoed by Mr.Matanda Wabulye, the CEO of the Kenya export Promotion Council, who was also quoted by the same media house as saying we see this ban as a constraint on trade with South Africa.

South Africa banned Kenyan avocados from its markets in April this year saying they could spread fruit flies, but market players discountedthis angle of argument, saying it was a lame excuse because, although the flies are a common pest across Africa there was no infestation in the region as cited by the South African Authorities.

Kenya is South Africa largest trading partner in East Africa with the economic survey of 2008 showing there was a fast growing trade between the two economic power houses of the region of the Eastern and Southern African regions.

Last year export to South Africa was worth kshs 2.3 billion against South African import worth USD 504 million. If the avocados produce exporters have their way , apples, mangoes, oranges and pears among other common fruits from South Africa that have dominated local retail outlets inthe recent past ,could disappear from many towns in Kenya.

Sourcesat the Trade Ministry in Nairobi say the government is pursuing a diplomatic solution to he simmering trade row and the parties seem to be agreeing.

Avocado is one of the Kenya’s emerging horticultural crops that fetches up to kshs 2.3 billion (usd 31.4 million) annually from exports mainly to the European Union (EU)

On an industrial scale , the crop is an important revenue earner for listed agricultural farm, Kakuzi imited based in Thika district.

Kakuzi exports of the Hase avocado variety accounts for an estimated 7 per cent of Kenya’s total avocado export to Europe.

However at Kshs 150 million (USD 2.1 million) annually, South Africa market is still considered the single largest export destination for Kenyan avocados outside Europe.

Industry player say that if South Africa had a genuine ease, the EU considered being more stringent in traceability, sanitary and physosanity rules, would have banned the fruit as well.

Kenya is favoured by an equatorial climate that allows it to produce avocado through out the year unlike south Arica, whose productions is seasonal.

The officials say the local horticultural industry has been working closely with the Kenya plant Health inspectorate services personnel to have he said phytosanitary concern addressed.

Despite local producers farning to value addition in the hope of increasing exports recounts snow avocado export to South Africa have fallen by 80 per cent since the ban was affected from last April.

The ban has raised eyebrows as some see it as an illegal way of protecting the South African avocado industry.

Experts say the South Africa government has been known to resort to non- tariff trade barriers before to protect it’s from external competition.

They are breaking WTO agreement because they are trying to protect their industry by banning imports “said Dr.Mbithi.

The South African government, however many the legally exploiting a provision in international trade laws that allows countries to institute trade barriers in certain circumstances.

International laws themselves allow countries to protect themselves from hazardous imports that threaten their crops and this is what the South African government has used said an official of the Kenya Horticultural crops Development Authority Edward Maina.

South African like Kenya also a major producer of avocados with most of its exports going to Europe. However avocado industry in that country is seasonal due to the presence of very cold winters leading to low productions.

The production season for the county’s avocados is between March and October while Kenya on the other hand enjoys an equatorial climate and avocado trees in the country produce all year around Mt.Kenya and the North rift region.

Despite the ban, not all of Kenya’s avocados exports to South Africa have been affected, since some exporters have started adding value to their avocado experts extracting the oil and exporting it.

Ends

leooderaomolo@yahoo.com

About the author,

Leo Odera Omolo is a veteran Kenyan journalist operating as a freelance writer in the lakeside city of Kisumu and frequents the neighbouring Tanzania and Uganda, He can be reached on his cellphones Nos 0722-486181 and 9734-509215 for day and nights. Or  his postal address P.O. box 833, Kisumu-Kenya

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Somalia: Suicide bombers strike Bossaso and Hargeisa, killing dozens

Posted by African Press International on October 31, 2008

Hargeisa (Somaliland) – Up to 40 people are reported to have been killed and many others injured as near-simultaneous explosions hit Hargeisa, capital of the self-declared republic of Somaliland, and the town of Bossaso, commercial capital of the neighbouring region of Puntland.

Witnesses told IRIN the explosions were caused by suicide bombers in cars. In Hargeisa, a local journalist said the attackers “were definitely suicide bombers, who seem to have coordinated their attacks”.

Police sources told IRIN five men have arrested in connection with the attacks on Hargeisa.

Somaliland President Dahir Riyaale told a news conference in Hargeisa on 29 October that 19 people were killed in three suicide attacks. However, a local journalist told IRIN that 39 people were killed and over 50 injured, including four journalists.

A statement from the Office of the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia said: “At approximately 10 o’clock this morning the UNDP [UN Development Programme] compound in Hargeisa, Somaliland, was hit by an explosion, caused by a vehicle which forced entry into the compound.” The statement added there were casualties, “but the numbers are currently being verified”.

Witnesses said the bombs also went off at the presidential palace and the Ethiopian embassy in Hargeisa.

“I was sitting in a caf in front of the presidential palace when I was hit by something on my head; when I touched it I found I was bleeding, and I was taken to the hospital,” said Jamal Abdi, a local journalist.

Hundreds of people were crowding around Hargeisa general hospital to check on family and friends. “It is so crowded that police are firing into the air to disperse people,” said the journalist.

Muse Gelle, governor of Bari Region, where Bossaso in located, told IRIN that four people, including the two suicide bombers, were killed in the Bossaso attacks. He said seven security officers were being treated in hospital. He added that the target was the Puntland Intelligence Service (PIS) compound.

Gelle said the security compounds were “seriously damaged by explosions”.

The governor said no one had claimed responsibility for the attacks.

“We cannot say who is behind this now but the police are investigating it and will issue a statement once we have identified the culprits,” he said.

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API/Source.UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) – October 29, 2008.

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Somalia: Fleeing from the frying pan into the fire

Posted by African Press International on October 31, 2008

Hargeisa (Somaliland) – When he fled Mogadishu, Mohamed Abdi thought life outside the war-torn capital could not be worse than what he was leaving behind. But since arriving in the self-declared republic of Somaliland in September, Abdi has had to reconsider.

Besides the overcrowded conditions in shelters for the displaced, Abdi and hundreds more who fled fighting in Mogadishu are still awaiting official registration in Somaliland and have yet to receive food aid. Their situation is complicated because agencies and local authorities remain divided over whether the southerners are refugees from another country or internally displaced people (IDPs).

“Those who come from Somalia are considered refugees by the Somaliland government; therefore the policy of Somaliland has not changed on that issue,” Ali Ibrahim, Minister of Planning, said, adding that any report suggesting otherwise “is false and erroneous”. Somaliland, he said, treated the southerners according to international conventions covering refugees. “We are doing the best we can for them,” he added.

Ibrahim stressed that only people from Somaliland were considered “displaced persons” – a term some agencies uses rather than “internally displaced persons”. There are no accurate figures available, but the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates there are about 75,000 displaced people in Somaliland.

Meanwhile, Abdi and others have to make do with whatever they can lay their hands on. They travelled for nine days from Mogadishu: “We were caught between the two sides,” he told IRIN in Hargeisa on 20 October. “The government and the Ethiopians were accusing us [civilians] of being part of the Muqawama [resistance] and the resistance was accusing us of collaborating with the enemy.”

Abdi owned a shop in the Black Sea area of Mogadishu, where he lived with his wife and five children. He said by the time they left, life had become “impossible”.

“My shop was destroyed and we lost many neighbours and friends,” he explained. “So I decided to take my family to a safer place.”

Osman Hussein, another displaced civilian, said Mogadishu had become a killing zone. “It seemed like every day we were burying someone we loved or knew,” Hussein added. “We may not have been the target but we always suffered and no one cares.”

The suffering did not end the day they left Mogadishu. During the trip, they were robbed twice and the women raped. “We were robbed near Jowhar and then between Bulo Burte and Beletweyne,” said Abdi. “The second time, our women were raped and we could not do anything.”

Some of the new arrivals were sharing shelters in the camp with IDPs from Somaliland, as they awaited official registration. However, none of the new arrivals had received food assistance, forcing many to look for work in Hargeisa.

The influx from south-central Somalia to Somaliland started early this year. “They have been coming in droves since February,” said Farhan Abdi Saleebaan, a protection officer with CCBRS, a local NGO. Saleebaan said by the time they arrive in Hargeisa, the displaced were traumatised, weak and disoriented. “They really are in bad shape,” he said, adding that some had lost family members while others suffered untold miseries at the hands of bandits en route.

Abdi, who is also the community leader, said despite some of the economic difficulties they faced, they were much happier in Hargeisa because they had peace and security.

“I am now living in a very small hut with no door, but I sleep like I haven’t slept in a long time,” Abdi told IRIN. “The children can go outside and play, without worrying about a shell landing on them. “We don’t have much and we depend on the kindness of these people; some days we eat, some we don’t,” Abdi added. “But at least we have peace and security – that is what we want and the chance to make a living for our families without being afraid of being killed.”

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API/Source.UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) – October 29, 2008.

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Zimbabwe: Opposition pessimistic on SADC intervention

Posted by African Press International on October 31, 2008

Nairobi (Kenya) – Zimbabwe’s main opposition has contradicted the 15 nation Southern African Development Community on the reasons for the country’s power sharing deadlock. This has fuelled pessimism that the regional block will succeed in forcing the political rivals to form a government of national unity.

On Monday, a SADC troika meeting made of leaders from South Africa, Swaziland, Angola and Mozambique called for a full summit of the regional body to deal with the Zimbabwean crisis after a 13 hour meeting failed to break the impasse. A communiqu issued at the end of the summit said the only dispute delaying the implementation of the agreement signed on 15 September was the allocation of the Ministry of Home Affairs, which is in charge of the police.

But two days after the meeting, the MDC issued a statement saying the parties were at loggerheads on almost all the key ministries. The opposition party led by Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, said President Robert Mugabe also appeared unwilling to share the posts of provincial governors, permanent secretaries and diplomats.

The statement said Mugabe unwillingness to share the positions undermined genuine power sharing. Mr Tsvangirai will become Prime Minister if the deal brokered by for South African President Thabo Mbeki is finally implemented.

“There is an attempt to ignore or over look fundamental principles and hence the claim in some circles that only the portfolio of Home Affairs is outstanding,” the MDC said. “Nothing can be further from the truth.”

Analysts said instead of calling a SADC summit, which is unlikely to deliver a final solution to the complex crisis, the matter should have been referred to the African Union. SADC and AU are the guarantors of the agreement that calls for the formation of a unity government between President Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF and the two formations of the MDC.

“SADC has struggled with the Zimbabwe problem since the disputed presidential elections in 2002 and there is not much that it can do now,” said Mr Joseph Mhishi, an analyst. “After the troika failed to narrow the gap between the parties, SADC should have thrown in the towel.”

The SADC intervention has always been clouded by the MDC’s lack of confidence in Mr Mbeki’s mediation as it accuses him of siding with Mr Mugabe. Mr Mbeki was appointed by SADC in 2002 to lead the mediation effort and was re-assigned this year following the disputed June 27 presidential election.

“Although there are few SADC leaders who are prepared to stand up to Mugabe like Botswana, the rest don’t seem ready to prevail on Zanu PF to genuinely share power.” Mr Mhishi said. “They hold Mugabe in so much awe.”

The deal that is seen as the best opportunity for ending Zimbabwe’s unprecedented economic and political crisis has stalled over the control of the most powerful ministries. The MDC accuses Mr Mugabe of wanting to grab all the powerful posts, while Zanu PF accuses the opposition of deliberately stalling the process of setting up the government to invite Western intervention.

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API/Source.The Nation (Kenya) – October 29, 2008.

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Obama’s grandmother banned by The Kenya Police from giving interviews that may jeopardise Obama’s Presidential victory on November 4th.

Posted by African Press International on October 30, 2008

Censuring Obama’s grandmother: She is being censured by the police so that she does not say anything – a slip of a tongue may occur – that may reveal the identity and birth place of her grandson. If she were to say something in the line of – another citizenship, or that he was born in Kenya or Hawaii and adopted by a foreigner, and Obama is elected, that may create a constitutional crisis in the US because that will open for lawsuits to ensure Obama is not sworn in as President.

This is a big surprise for the old woman who loves to talk to the local and international media about her grandson who may take over as the first black ruler in America. The Kenya police must have been instructed by the highest offices in the land to stop her from giving interviews between now and the election day.

The report says she will be allowed to speak to the media on the 5th of November – a presumption that she will be telling the media of the grandson’s victory in America. It is understood that she has assembled a delegation of 30 people and tickets already paid for in order to travel to the US on the 6th of November to attend what they say will be Obama’s victory celebration. This is like counting chicken before the eggs hatch.

Kenya: Obama’s family halts media interviews

Nairobi (Kenya) – The Kenya family of US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has halted all media engagements until after the US presidential election on November 4.

The move has been taken to give Obama’s paternal grandmother, Mama Sarah Onyango Obama a break, according to a family member Mr Said Obama. In the recent past, a battery of local and international journalists have been visiting the home on a daily basis to seek interviews from the 85-year old granny.

But Mr Said Obama said the family would open up to the media on November 5, a day after the elections.

And on Wednesday, Siaya District police chief Mr Johnston Ipara said security officers would restrict entry to the home to ensure the family privacy is guaranteed

“People who visit the family’s home in K’Ogelo will be restrained from conducting interviews to the family members,” he said

Mr Ipara added the move was taken to ensure that people, especially the media, do not pre-empt the outcome of the US elections by using comments from the family members.

“We do not want Mama Sarah Obama to be disturbed at the moment she needs time to monitor the elections as they unfold,” said Ipara.

He said all visitors to the home would be thoroughly screened by the police before being allowed in.

Meanwhile, Obamamania continued to grip Kisumu town and its environs as hawkers cashed in on the craze to sell branded T-shirts, caps and badges.

Dancehalls have also recorded a high number of songs recorded in vernacular languages in praise of the US presidential candidate whose father was Kenyan.

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API/source.The Nation (Kenya) – October 29, 2008.

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Zambia: Border closed to DRC refugees

Posted by African Press International on October 30, 2008

Lusaka (Zambia) – The Zambian government has closed its border to refugees arriving from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as fighting intensifies in the east of the country.

“We have been following closely the violence in DRC. I have already ordered the immigration officers to be on extra alert at Kasumbalesa [the border post],” Susan Sikaneta, permanent secretary in the interior ministry, told IRIN.

However, the clampdown appears to be more related to public health concerns than security threats, after the death last month of a Zambian tourism operator in a South African hospital from a previously unknown strain of hemorrhagic fever.

“We are not allowing any refugee to cross into Zambia at the moment because of the incidence of these mysterious diseases,” Sikaneta said. There is sensitivity in Zambia over the origin of the new strain of the Arena virus, which has been linked to the deaths of at least three people in South Africa.

“If they [refugees] come in, we are immediately sending them back, because their entering the country could be a recipe for these fears of mysterious diseases becoming real,” Sikaneta said. In the public imagination the DRC is believed to be the source of the Ebola virus, a highly virulent hemorrhagic fever.

Zambia has been home to thousands of Congolese refugees over the years of conflict in the Great Lakes region. Between May and December 2007, a total of 7,325 Congolese were voluntarily repatriated.

The exercise has continued in 2008, with a total of 8,038 returning home since May, and is expected to run into 2009, according to Fernando Protti-Alvarado, the deputy country representative of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in Zambia.

“The voluntary repatriation of refugees from Zambia to the Democratic Republic of Congo has not been affected by the recent reported fighting in the Kivus [North and South Kivu provinces in eastern DRC]. This is because most of the Congolese refugees repatriating from Zambia have been returning to the southern fringes of DRC, namely, Katanga Province,” Protti-Alvarado told IRIN.

“In view of the long distance from Zambia to where fighting is reported to be occurring in DRC, no significant influxes of refugees have been reported. UNHCR is always prepared; however, we don’t expect any major influx into Zambia at this particular time.”

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API/source.UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) – October 29, 2008.

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South Africa: Two more prominent figures quit ANC

Posted by African Press International on October 30, 2008

Cape Town (South Africa) – With only three days to go before the planned national convention, the momentum towards a breakaway party from the African National Congress (ANC) continued, with two prominent ANC members resigning from the party.

Former ANC national executive committee member Phillip Dexter and the chairwoman of the ANC’s women’s caucus in Parliament, Kiki Rwexana, announced their resignations from the party at a news conference yesterday seated alongside former Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa.

They both said their resignations from the political movement that had been their home came with deep sadness.

Shilowa confirmed that the two-day convention was to start on Saturday at the Sandton International Convention Centre. About 4000 people from across the political spectrum were expected. He said organisations such as trade unions and political parties had been invited along with prominent individuals.

Dexter said the ANC had been his political home all his adult life and he had had the honour of serving with some of its great leaders. “In addition most of my friends were members of the ANC.”

Dexter served as an ANC MP and later left Parliament to head the National Economic Development and Labour Council. He also served as the treasurer of the South African Communist Party (SACP), but resigned this year after a lengthy battle with general secretary Blade Nzi-mande.

Their disagreement was about supporting Jacob Zuma for the presidency of the ANC. Dexter said the old dictum of the movement, “tell no lies and claim no easy victories”, had been betrayed by the current leadership. In the recent past the transformation inside the ANC had “angered, saddened and even scared me”.

He claimed that dishonesty was common in the ANC at present and the most alarming aspect was the “peddling of lies” to justify actions. He said the claim of a political conspiracy against Zuma was the worst of these lies.

He described the justifications offered for the removal of former president Thabo Mbeki and former Western Cape premier Ebrahim Rasool as further dishonesty. These lies served to undermine the ANC and the Freedom Charter, he said.

Rwexana, the first sitting MP to resign since former defence min-ister Mosiuoa Lekota announced the plan to hold a national convention to discuss the launching of a new party, said that whereas once it had been warm inside the ANC it was now “very, very cold”.

“The ANC that we knew is no more, the ANC that fought for democracy is no more, there is only hatred and anger now,” she said, adding that the ANC was no longer the party of Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo.

Both Shilowa and Dexter said that if one disagreed in the ANC this was considered treason. Dexter stressed that he never once felt that if he held a different view he would be targeted, but that had changed. All three said that bitterness at losing top positions in the party was not part of their reason for leaving the ANC.

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API/source.Business Day (South Africa) – October 29, 2008.

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Nigeria: HIV positive prostitutes warned: Repent and get married

Posted by African Press International on October 30, 2008

Abuja (Nigeria) – Commercial sex workers who have tested positive to HIV and are still operating in Bauchi State have been given the option of repenting and getting married to victims of the same status or leaving the state.

Giving the warning at a media briefing in Bauchi on Monday, the chairman of Bauchi Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS Tuberclosis/Leprosy and Malaria (BACATMA) Dr. Sulaiman Muhammad, said the agency in collaboration with the state Shari’a commission would soon begin a crack down on unrepentant commercial sex workers who have tested positive to the HIV virus but continue to spread it, adding that those who repent would be assisted with means of sustenance.

He said about 30 commercial sex workers were confirmed to carry the virus out of the 51 tested by the agency recently in two different locations in the state, describing the situation as worrisome and requiring urgent measure to control the spread of the virus. He assured of his agency’s support to organise marriages between willing couples that have the virus.

Dr. Sulaiman, who identified breach of religious injunctions as the major cause of persistent risky behavior by people which leads to the spread of the virus, disclosed that 5, 820 victims of the scourge were currently receiving free treatment in the state.

He said the agency intends to establish mobile HIV counseling and testing units in rural areas and markets so that people can access its services thereby enhancing health care delivery and bringing the services to the doorsteps of the people. He said the agency had distributed over 240,000 mosquito treated nets as well as 300,000 doses of drugs to the 20 local government areas in the state to control malaria while the agency established 56 DOTS centers and 112 leprosy centers to help control of tuberculosis and leprosy.

It would be recalled that recently the agency organised marriages between 79 couples carrying the virus in an attempt to control the spread of HIV.

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API/Source.Daily Trust (Nigeria) – October 29, 2008.

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Georgia’s president in Oslo

Posted by African Press International on October 29, 2008

Mikhail Saakasjvili, embattled president of Georgia, paid a visit to Norway’s top officials on Wednesday, and firmly blamed Russia for an armed military conflict in August.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stre (left) joined Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg (center) in welcoming Georgian President Mikhail Saakasjvili to Oslo on Wednesday.

PHOTO: ERIK JOHANSEN/SCANPIX

The tensions between Georgia and Russia no longer top the news scene like they did last summer, having given way to the drama surrounding the international financial crisis. But for the Georgians, the conflict remains very much at the top of their agenda.

Saakasjvili brought his message to Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who wasn’t willing to place blame himself.

“There is disagreement about what happened in August, and there have been serious accusations made from both sides,” Stoltenberg said. “Therefore we need an independent, international investigation.”

Stoltenberg said he was glad Saakasjvili was positive about such an investigation. “If it results in findings that there has been a serious violation, this will of course be a case for an international court,” he said.

Georgia launched a major attack on South Ossetia, which has tried to break out of the republic with assistance from Russia. Saakasjvili claims an international investigation will reveal that the war was “a clear case of aggression by a large country.”

Stoltenberg welcomed the Georgian leader to Oslo. Saakasjvili was also meeting King Harald at the palace.

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API/Source.aftenposteneng

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Norway: Central bank cuts rates again

Posted by African Press International on October 29, 2008

Norway’s central bank lowered its key lending rate on Wednesday, just two weeks after a similar cut. The goal is to ease a credit crunch, and stimulate lending activity that has all but dried up.

Svein Gjedrem, chief of Norges Bank, has had an even more challenging job than usual lately.

PHOTO: SVEIN ERIK FURULUND

Norges Bank announced it was cutting another half-point off its key rate. That brings it down to 4.75 percent, and means that rates have dropped by a full point since earlier this month.

Nordic banking group Nordea responded immediately by cutting its lending rate to customers by a half-point as well. Norwegian banks, however, didn’t seem inclined to do the same. Even though the banks were quick to raise rates (not least on home loans) when the central bank imposed a long series of incremental hikes over the last two years, now they’re holding back.

“Many people think that as soon as Norges Bank lowers rates, so will the rates on their mortgages,” Aud-Helen Rasmussen of Norway’s largest bank, DnB NOR, told newspaper VG on Wednesday. “But it doesn’t work like that.”

Norway’s banks, like those all over the world, have been reluctant to lend to each other in the midst of the international financial crisis. That has sent rates up, while governments (including Norway’s) have scrambled to offer bank crisis packages aimed at boosting liquidity.

Rasmussen said it now “will take some time” before the central bank’s rate cut is reflected in mortgage rates. Other banks have said the same.

Norges Bank, meanwhile, lowered rates even though inflation in Norway is rising. A majority of analysts had predicted an interest rate cut. Interbank rates remain at levels above 6 percent.

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API/Source.aftenposteneng

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Posted by African Press International on October 29, 2008

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ODM grassroot elections in Luo-land causing division

Posted by African Press International on October 28, 2008

<News Analysis By Leo Odera Omolo

Kenya: The forthcoming ODM grass root and national election is likely to be dogged by controversies involving the current and the former MPs from Luo-Nyanza and their supporters.

The party elections are slated for November 22 and 24,but there are already signs and signals of serious split and disagreements among the interested parties.

The current Luo MPs want their rivals, particularly those whom they defeated during last years general election barred from contesting the party polls at all levels. The writing is already on the wall. The MP want their arch-rivals, particularly those who defected to other parties and contested the election proper after losing the elections during the partys preliminaries.

Discontent is mounting in several constituencies where the former ODM political luminaries who lost their parliamentary seats in the December 2007 are said to be rearing to go and re-establish themselves politically in readiness for the 2012 general elections.

The issue has become a thorny one giving the Prime Minister Raila Odinga the sleepless nights as the war of attrition between the former Luo legislators and the current MPs escalates.

The current Luo MPs have introduced discriminative and shallow ideas questioning the loyalties of the former legislators, especially those who defected to the Charity Ngilus Narc party after losing to their opponents in the primary elections in the run up to last years general election. The MP are vocal that these gentlemen should be barred from contesting any elective post in the party unless they first renounced their new parties on whose tickets they had contested the election proper.

The former MPs have countered the question of loyalties to the party by arguing that even some of the current legislators had jumped on to the ODM bandwagon and won their parliamentary seats before renouncing their former parties, citing the Minister for Public Service Dalmas Otieno, the current Rongo ODM MP who contested the election on the party ticket before renouncing his long standing association with the former ruling KANU party.

Otieno, the argument goes, is still registered at the registrar of political parties at the Attorney General Chambers as the Second National Vice Chairman of KANU and has never renounced his old party members publicly. And the former legislator wonders why their rival are panicking so much.

Aware of the discontent, the party leader Raila Odinga made an extensive tour of Southern Nyanza over the weekend where he addressed a series of leaders meeting at Awendo, Homa-Bay and also paid homage to ODM stalwart in Nyaribari Chache Chris Bichage whose wife was buried last week.

At the meting at Awendo, MPs and host of civic leaders made it categorically clear that they were not comfortable with the former MPs who had defected to other parties. Presence at the meeting were John Pesa (Migori0, Cyprian Ojwang Omolo {Uriri } and Martin Ogindo{Rangwe}.

But the move and the reasons given by the legislators asking the party to lock out those who contested the election on other party tickets to be locked out of the forthcoming ODM elections is unpopular and unacceptable by the majority of party members in the region.

During ther general election three former MPs who include Archbishop Stephen Ondiek Oluoch {Ugenmya}, George Mbogoh Ochillo Ayacko {Rongo} and Eng Eric Opon Nyamunga{Nyando} contested the election proper on Charity Ngilus Narc party. Ngilu herself was copted into the ODM Pentagon, and was later appointed to the grand coalition government as the Minister for Water Development as pone among the twenty one ODM Ministers in the coalition.

Political pundits were quick in pointing out that the current Luo legislator have lost the direction. Their poor record of disbursement of the revolving CDF funds in Luo Nyanza is regrettable.

The animosity caused by the impending ODM elections in Luo-Nyanza is so intense and posing a serious threat to the partys unity.

Information in our hands says that the current MPs and the civic leaders had petitioned Raila Odinga and other ODM bigwigs to ensure that only party loyalists are elected top run the ODM affairs right from the sub-location to the national levels. But party loyalists have protested against the idea of locking former party MP out.

The popular theory being advanced is that some of the former legislators have sacrificed their resources building ODM down from NDP, LDP to the ODM, while those who were now reaping the fruits of their sweats were serving other parties. The pundits have cited Dalmas Otieno, the Rongo MPs who for close to a decade had served KANU while issuing hostile public statements critical to the Odinga family and leadership, but who is now a senior cabinet Minister and part of the ODM team.

Through Raila in a true display of statesmanship had forgiven Dalmas Otieno, and even recommended his appointment to the ODM cabinet, the majority of party members in rural Nyanza want Agwambo to ignore the plea of the current MPs that their opponents be locked out of the party elections.

One of the areas most affected with the undercurrent political manoeuvres to have the former MP locked out of the ODM elections is Rongo, Homa-Bay, Uriri,Rarieda, Kisumu Town East,Nyakach, Nyando, Kasipul-Kabondo,Karachuonyo and Ndhiwa constituencies.

As Raila was meeting leaders at Awendo, the police in Homa-Bay are reported to have authored and distributed leaflets critical of the Ndhiwa MP Joshua Orwa Ojode.

Sources revealed that the youth was acting at the behest of a group of disgruntled politicians who lost their bid to capture the Ndhiwa parliamentary seat in 20907, and were out to antagonize Ojode who is an Assistant Minister in the Office of the President in the Ministry .Incharge of the Provincial Administration and Internal Security.

Pundits and observers are of the opinion that the current Luo MPs were reaping the fruits of the sweats of the former Luo legislator who had remained loyal to Mr. Odinga during the most difficult and trying times.

Some of the former legislators, the observers singled out the former Rangwe MP Eng. Phillip Okoth Okundi, and the former Nyando MP Erich Opon Nyamunga as those who had sacrificed their resources and contributed immensely towards the development of the ODM party at its infant. These gentlemen deserves a lot of respect and not insult.

And as the current MPs are busy harvesting where they never sowed any seeds, they should know pretty well that some of them were still political novices and mediocre. Until December 2007, they were politically non-entities and as such have no moral authority to ask the party to lock out anyone from contesting the partys elective posts.

The Luo-Nyanza MPs, said the observers, need not to panic about their opponents, but should face the electorate and at the same articulate what agendas they have in the store for the communitys economic empowerment.

Of late dessenting voices have been heard blaming the current Luo MPs for spending moist of their valuable times dwelling on trivial issues such as the male circumcisions , an issue which many believes should not be the preoccupation of the MPs.

Poverty index in Luo-Nyanza is still the highest in the Republic of Kenya, and is the source of acts of political violence. The elected MPs need to address these issues instead of singing about the male circumcision.. This area of campaign has hit the rock, and many adult Luos are adamant not to part with their old tradition and culture.

Across section of interviewed adult Luos believes the male circumcision campaign is a misdirected and a waste of time and energy. Instead the leadership should chart for the way forward on how to generate wealth for the community members.

One elder in Oyugis was heard shouting on top of his voice after having one, two at a nearby pub, Ok wadwar winjo wach nyangu {loosely transilating we do not want to hear anything about male circumcision. This issue is rather trivial and lacked the foresight..

And what is strange, is that not even one single Luo MPs has been heard making contribution inside the House or outside about the economic empowerment, and even encouraging members of the community to take active part in fishing trade, though fish export has became on of the greatest assets fetching millions of shilling in foreign exchange for Kenya. Only the middlemen, most of whom are people of Somali origins, Indians and Kikuyu businessmen are involved in the export of fish or are acting as the middlemen reaping all the profits

Not even one MPs has spoken about the impassable roads in the interior part of the region, poor performance of students from the region at the national exams, poor return for sugar cane farmers and lack of manufacturing industries in Kisumu, the regions capital. All these taken into account, it became rather insult to tell Luos to prioritize male circumcision.

Luo elders from all the eight administrative districts of Suba, Migori, Rongo, Homa-Bay, Rachuonyo, Nyando, Kisumu East, Kisumu West, Raried and Siaya district are vehemently opposed to the attempt being made by young politicians to distort the community culture and tradition under the pretext of the alleged reduction of the spread of HIV/Aids.

They have cited countries like South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia where people are dying inn their thousands, and yet the communities there under go male circumcision.

At one time, Bomet was reported as the leading district in HIV/Aids outbreak, and at the other time Thika was the most dangerous spot under outbreak of the deadly virus..All the residents of the two district under go the male circumcisionm.

At Awendo the Prime Minister heaped a lot of praise on the former chairman of the Sony Sugar Board of Director Mr. Herbert Ojwang before the entire board members and leaders, saying he was a good performer and his friend for many years.

Ojwang resigned in huff citing political pressure and manipulation by a senior politician in the region who had plotted to have him removed to pave the way for his political surrogate to be appointed. Raila spoke before the entire board and the new chairman Mr. Charles Orony Ogalo. And Ojwang immediately handed over to his successor.

He also wondered why Sony sugar company has had so many CEOs as 10 in less than ten years and felt this does not augur well for the company, which has been ailing financially for years.

Ends.

leooderaomolo@yahoo.com

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Alert to readers!! Posting using other people’s identity will be met with permanent IP blockage

Posted by African Press International on October 28, 2008

We love you all for being here.

What we will not accept is using other people’s names wrongfully to post comments. Also the people who use arrogant language will not be entertained any longer.

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Aftenposten to shut down English news service

Posted by African Press International on October 27, 2008

Media house Aftenposten in Oslo, faced with a need to dramatically cut costs, has decided to shut down its nine-year-old English-language news service, “News in English.”Aftenposten announced last month that it needs to cut NOK 100 million (nearly USD 20 million) in costs over the next two years. Early retirement incentives and severance pay packages have been offered to employees in an effort to reduce staff through attrition.

Advertising sales have declined in recent months, and Aftenposten editors determined that prospects for the commercial viability of “News in English” were unfavourable.

An exact shut-down date for “News in English” remained unclear Tuesday, but was expected at the end of October.

The editorial staff of Aftenposten’s “News in English” wishes to thank their thousands of loyal readers around the world for their continued interest in news from Norway over the years.

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API/Source.aftenposteneng

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