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Archive for October 6th, 2008

Obama has a terrorist friend, says Republican VP Palin

Posted by African Press International on October 6, 2008

Palin accuses Democrat of close ties with terrorists

Republican vice presidential nominee Alaska Governor Sarah Palin smiles during the U.S.vice presidential debate in St. Louis PHOTO/ FILE

ByREUTERS
COSTA MESA, California, Sunday

Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin accused Democratic candidate Barack Obama on Saturday of palling around with terrorists, marking a shift to a nastier tone in the White House race.

The remark was dismissed by Mr Obama as gutter politics but appeared to reflect an effort by Senator John McCains campaign to target Mr Obamas judgment as the Illinois senator solidifies his national lead and gains an edge in vital battleground states a month before the November 4 election.

It came shortly after McCains campaign called Obama a liar and just days after both candidates urged Congress to set aside partisan politics to pass a $700 billion financial rescue package in a bid to revive credit markets.

There is a time when its necessary to take the gloves off and that time is right now, Palin told thousands of supporters at a rally in a sports arena in Carson, California.

Earlier at a fundraiser in Englewood, Colorado, she departed from her usual speech to question Obamas character.

Our opponent though is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough that he is palling around with terrorists who would target their own country, Palin said of Obama, also calling him an embarrassment.

Ms Palin cited a New York Times story on Saturday that examined Mr Obamas relationship with Bill Ayers, a former member of the Vietnam War-era militant Weather Underground organization who is now a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The Times concluded they were not close.

In Costa Mesa, California, after raising $2 million from donors, the Alaska governor said she and McCain would start to tell Americans more and more aggressively, I guess, about the choices in the election.

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How Kenyans are sold into slavery

Posted by African Press International on October 6, 2008

Many trafficked women are forced to work as prostitutes in brothels. Photo/FILE

ByKEN OPALA

Thousands of Kenyans are being driven into modern slavery abroad in their desperate attempts to escape from worsening economic conditions at home.

Nation investigations show that nearly 20,000 Kenyans fall prey to human trafficking cartels yearly and are living in appalling conditions in North America, Europe and the Middle East.

The case of a 14-year-old girl rescued in the United Kingdom is a stark reminder of the growing trade in humans.

She had been moved to Liverpool by a man who locked her in a house and forced her to have sex with numerous people. Luckily she escaped and she is now under the care of a charity in the UK.

Her plight came to light on July 8, when UK Conservative Party MP Peter Bone of Wellingborough told Westminster Hall.

(She) was a black girl from Kenya. She came in on a passport that did not have her name or photograph on it, but was allowed into the country.

Apart from the revelation by Mr Bone, little information is available about the girl. The Kenyan High Commission was not forthcoming when this writer used a London contact to seek more information about the girl.

Yet what emerges from this case is that Kenya has become a key operation base for cartels that are turning 17,500 Kenyans (according to estimates by Randy Fleitman, until recently the US Labour Attache, in Nairobi) into bondage abroad about one in 40 people trafficked worldwide.

The cartels have also been bringing into Kenya Ugandans, Tanzanians, Indians, Chinese, Pakistani, Bangladeshis and Congolese, who are forced to work in construction industry and the EPZ factories, and as prostitutes in brothels in Nairobi.

After rescuing two Kenyan children in Tanzania last year, police believe another 40 minors and six adults are living there as slaves.

Police sources say investigations have also moved to The Netherlands and Ireland where five children are believed to be living in similar circumstances.

Bought or stolen

And the African Network for the Prevention and Protection Against Child Abuse (Anppcan), Kenya Chapter, is pursuing investigations on reports that children bought or stolen in Kenya are held in Busia Town homes veiled as schools before they are ferried to Burundi, southern Africa and Europe.

It has emerged also that some of these children are being trafficked for purposes such as removal of organs, religious rituals or witchcraft, according to Child Rights Advisory Documentation and Legal Centre (Cradle The Childrens Foundation) in its 90-page report, Grand Illusions, Shattered Dreams published three months ago.

Kenya is a source, transit and destination for trafficked children, says Mr Ahmed Hussein, director of childrens services, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Development.

In a report Human Trafficking in East Africa: Research Assessment and Baseline Information in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Burundi, published three months ago, the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) says Kenya and Tanzania are transit routes for Ethiopian women being trafficked to Europe and the Middle East and Somalis trafficked to South Africa.

Chinese women have been trafficked for sexual exploitation and Bangladeshis for forced labour through Kenya.

In all of the countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi) the majority of trafficked respondents indicated that traffickers used either promises of jobs and/or promises of jobs with a good salary to persuade them.

Victims pay between Sh80,000 and Sh700,000 to the cartels for either right of passage abroad or jobs that hardly exist in Kenya, according to Cyrus Omooria, the officer in charge of investigations and prosecution, Immigration Department, Mombasa.

For those able to get to their destinations (Kenya, Europe, North America, South Africa, Middle East), the cartels seize their identification documents, hold them incommunicado and could turn them into sex slaves, according to Noah Chanyisa Chune, the Cotu director of Education who is trying to fight slavery in the EPZs.

The most common form of recruitment is deception, followed by abuse of power or coercion. Most of the victims were given false promises of jobs, better life and even marriage to rich people abroad and at home, the Cradle report says.

Following two months investigations, this writer can reveal that about 20,000 people in Kenya are pushed into slavery in Europe and Middle East each year while another 30,000 get into slavery locally, working as house-helps or as involuntary prostitutes in Nairobi and at the Coast.

The situation has become so bad that the Government is repatriating 80 foreigners each month (about 1,000 a year), according to a top Immigration official.

In its publication, US State Department Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2008, the American Government places Kenya in Tier 2, the classification of a country that is a source, transit and destination for people trafficked for purposes of forced labour and sexual exploitation.

Those vulnerable are people hungry for foreign jobs. Mr Omooria, who has been in Immigration Department for 15 years, has rescued hundreds of trafficked victims, the latest being 28 Somalis discovered at the Miritini Vehicle Inspection unit on May 8.

The van that had gone for mere check up happened to be carrying human cargo destined for Tanzania. It was at this checkpoint the Immigration and Police stumbled on a big story the 25 Somalis on board had no identification on them and were headed to South Africa.

In another case in May, a group of 20 Somalis and Ethiopians were seized by police in Msambweni abandoned on an island next to Shimoni.

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Gullible fall for brazen adverts

Human smugglers and traffickers have become so impudent that they advertise their services in local daily newspapers.

They invite applications from cabin crews, nurses, beauticians, waiters and sales executives to work in foreign lands, mostly Middle East and Asia.

Jobs guaranteed in Dubai, Jobs in Dubai and Canada, Jobs in America/Dubai, Jobs in Kuwait, Live and work as an Au Pair in Europe and Canada, Kenya, Sudan, Dubai jobs, they advertise. And the gullible apply.

But a close scrutiny reveals the recruiters only offer cell phone numbers and do not indicate their location. Those with premises tend to shift every few months to avoid people they would have duped.

An agency in Nairobis South B claims to hire house-helps for Syria and Turkey. But a counsellor in the Turkish embassy in Nairobi denied issuing work permits to Kenyans recently.

The South B agency is not registered with the Government and the Kenya Association of Private Employment Agencies (Kapea).

That agency is illegal, says Kapea secretary-general Margaret Mugwanja. Kapea has only 25 members, yet hundreds of such agencies operate in the country, Cotus education director Noah Chanyisa Chune says.

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Report reveals arms imports – Kenya and soviet arms

Posted by African Press International on October 6, 2008

A Soviet tank on display. A report says Kenya has been importing tanks, submachine guns and automatic rifles without reporting to the UN, in defiance of international agreements. Photo/FILE

BySUNDAY NATION Team

A total of 77 tanks and 15 jet fighters were secretly imported by Kenya last year alone, according to official documents.

Two rocket launchers and more than 40,000 automatic rifles and machine guns were also brought in, the United Nations says.

Yet the government has not reported its arms purchases to the United Nations, as required by international agreements, the Sunday Nation can reveal.

Instead, Kenya told the UN it had not imported any arms at all.

The purchases are detailed in a report by Ukraine to the United Nations in which it said it had exported the tanks and guns, among other weapons.

The jet fighter imports from Jordan are shown in a report published on the internet this week by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute which tracks the international movement of arms.

Ukraines reports of exports to Kenya were filed by the source country to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, UNROCA.

Since 1993 when the register was first compiled, Kenya has been reporting that it made no imports and no exports of arms.

The purchases represent a significant rearming of Kenyas military. As a sovereign nation, Kenya has a right to buy and sell arms.

Kenya treats virtually all information about its military as classified, though a lot of information about its strength and armaments can be gleaned from official and academic sources.

The report by the Stockholm Institute shows that Ukraine inherited millions of small arms and light weapons after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, ending up with over seven million small arms and light weapons which it has over the years exported to different countries.

Top five importers

The top five importers were the United States, the UK, Libya, Azerbaijan and Georgia, itself previously part of the Soviet Union.

Ukraine has made significant progress in improving transparency and controlling exports in recent years, wrote Paul Holtom of the institute.

According to the latest report released by the Ukrainian government, Kenya imported 40,000 automatic rifles and submachine guns and 405 grenade launchers last year.

Although Kenyan officials made it clear that the 33 T-72 tanks, grenade launchers and ammunition aboard the hijacked Ukrainian ship MV Faina were part of a larger deal under which tanks, artillery and small arms and light weapons were delivered by Ukraine in 2007, these weapons did not appear in Kenyas recent submission to UNROCA for 2007, Mr Holtom wrote.

Significantly, he pointed out, the report to UNROCA of no imports or exports was made on September 26 this year, the same day that MV Faina was hijacked off the coast of Somalia and just hours before it was expected to dock at the port of Mombasa.

The international mechanism for reporting imports and exports of arms and light weapons was established in 1992, the Sunday Nation established, but Kenya has always reported to the UN that it neither imported nor exported small arms and light weapons.

Invited to comment on the unreported imports, government spokesman Alfred Mutua said: The government is not going to discuss its defence strategy, weapons acquisitions and deployment and its military plans with the media or anybody else for that matter.

But he added: Any purchases will be reflected in the governments report to the UN next year.

And as the mystery over the hijacked cargo deepened, a Nairobi-based businessman was said to be at the centre of the row over its final destination.

The 33 T-72 Ukrainian tanks, rocket-propelled grenades and ammunition were said to have been imported by a Tanzanian with a stake in a company in Nairobis Industrial Area.

Military sources said the businessman enjoys close links with influential personalities and business people.

He has in the past been involved in supplying military equipment to countries in the East Africa region.

Dr Mutua commented: The most recent purchases were directly government to government, and normally we do not involve a broker in direct transactions.

As attempts continue to release the crew and cargo from the clutches of the Somali pirates, questions were being asked about why the MV Faina with its sensitive cargo was travelling unescorted through waters ranked among the most dangerous in the world.

The ship was seized a week ago last Thursday, only hours before it was due to be met by Kenya Navy warships which were to escort it to Mombasa where the cargo was to be offloaded.

One military expert told the Sunday Nation that apart from escorting cargo ships carrying military equipment, the Navy has on numerous occasions been used to escort cruise ships bringing high-spending tourists to Mombasa.

The question that needs to be asked is, was the Kenya Navy aware of the coming of MV Faina and was its itinerary given to them in time as is the normal practice during such occasions? the expert said.

The spotlight on the Navy comes at a time when stakeholders in the maritime industry united in condemning governments and naval powers for failing to protect merchant shipping from piracy off Somalia and in the strategic Gulf of Aden.

Oil tanker group

The International Chamber of Shipping and the oil tanker group, Intercargo, commented jointly: If civil aircraft were being hijacked on a daily basis, the response of governments would be very different.

“Yet ships, which are the lifeblood of the global economy, are seemingly out of sight and out of mind.

More than 90 per cent of the worlds traded goods by volume are carried by sea.

This apparent indifference to the lives of merchant seafarers and the consequences for society at large is simply unacceptable, they said.

The statement added that they were utterly amazed that governments were unable to secure one of the worlds most important seaways.

The European Union is assembling a force to deal with the pirates which will be deployed next month. The US, Malaysia, Russia and France have naval vessels and forces in the area.

Reported by Fred Mukinda, Patrick Mayoyo, David Okwemba and Mugumo Munene

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Kenya to spend more tax payers money>Special police unit to guard Parliament

Posted by African Press International on October 6, 2008

Police officers arrest a demonstrator outside Parliament in this file photo. The Parliamentary Service Commission wants a special police unit for Parliament. Photo/FILE

ByODHIAMBO ORLALE

A special police unit is to be set up to cater for Parliament, the Parliamentary Service Commission decided on Saturday.

It will cater for MPs and the four buildings that form the Kenya National Assembly Parliament Buildings, Continental House, County Hall and Harambee Plaza.

The proposal for the unit was adopted following a three-day PSC strategic meeting at Serena Beach Hotel, Mombasa.

The plan comes a month after Speaker Kenneth Marende announced that allowances for MPs police bodyguards had been increased because of their extra responsibilities. But he did not elaborate on how much more this would cost the tax-payer.

There have been three major security scares in the House.

One involved a break-in by a gang that stole several items, including computers, while in another, a stranger walked undetected into the debating chamber in the company of judges during the state opening by President Kibaki.

Yet another was when a man jumped over the security fence and tore a flag from a Cabinet ministers car in broad daylight.

The unit is bound to be an extra burden to tax-payers who feel that the MPs pay is more than they deserve.

An MP enjoys a salary and allowances of over Sh800,000 a month, in addition to a Sh8 million mortgage facility and a Sh3 million car grant.

At the moment a police post at County Hall takes care of the MPs security needs, beefed up by the in-house parliamentary orderlies headed by the sergeant-at-arms.

The move comes hot on the heels of a decision by the Parliamentary Service Commission, chaired by the Speaker, to increase the daily allowances of regular police officers who provide security for the 222 MPs.

The unit will join others, that include the para-military General Service Unit as well as the anti-terrorism, maritime, airports, railways, anti-stock theft, tourist, anti-narcotics and special crime prevention units.

Earlier in the year, ODM MPs Melitus Mugabe Were (Embakasi) and Kimutai arap Too of Ainamoi were gunned down in Nairobi and Eldoret respectively.

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Spain opposes sanctions against Mauritania

Posted by African Press International on October 6, 2008

Spain on Saturday disapproved of the sanctions imposed on Mauritania in the wake of the 6 August coup that ousted President Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi.

According to the official Mauritanian news agency (AMI), Spains disapproval was announced by Foreign Minister, Miguel Moratinos.

Mr. Moratinos said Madrid “opposes any sanctions against Mauritania or any suspension of Spains cooperation with that country”.

According to AMI, the Spanish diplomat, who was reacting to comments by the “Catelina coalition” during a parliamentary debate, said “Such measures neither contribute to the restoration of democracy nor to the improvement of the peoples living conditions”.

He reiterated his support for dialogue with the new authorities in Nouakchott, which he sees as the “best way to ensure a quick return to a normal constitutional order in the country”.

M. Moratinos comments came only two days before the expiration of an ultimatum set by the African Union (AU) for the authorities to reinstate former President Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi or face isolation and sanctions.

The military junta, which seized power on 6 August, apparently does not take this ultimatum seriously. Its leader, General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz had responded to that deadline by saying the deposed president was “a former president and there was no returning back”.

Observers say the comments by the Spanish foreign minister and the Accra (Ghana) Declaration warning against any meddling in Mauritanias internal affairs come as relief for the putschists.

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Rabat seeks return to normalcy in Mauritania

Posted by African Press International on October 6, 2008

The Moroccan authorities on Saturday reiterated their “strong desire” for the return to “a normal constitutional order in due time” in Mauritania.

This desire was expressed during a meeting in Rabat between the Moroccan Foreign Affairs Minister Taib Fassi Fihri and a Mauritanian delegation representing the National Front for Defense of Democracy.

The Moroccan side on this occasion reaffirmed the Kingdoms attachment to “stronger neighbourly relations and bilateral cooperation between the two neighbouring countries and the promotion of relations of sincere fraternity and permanent solidarity between the two brotherly peoples”, the ministry said.

Rabat also reaffirmed the importance it attached to “security and peace in Mauritania and its contribution to the achievement of an integrated and stable Arab Maghreb”, the same source added.

King Mohammed VI of Morocco on 15 September met with an envoy of General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, the chairman of the High State Council in Mauritania to whom he had expressed his desire to see Mauritania return to “a normal constitutional life in due time”.

The Moroccan King had also underscored the “deep and exceptional relations binding the two brotherly peoples and Moroccos continuous interest in a stable neighbouring Mauritania and the peace and progress of its people”.

On 6 August, the democratically-elected Mauritanian President Sidi Ould Sheik Abdallahi was toppled in a coup.

Rabat reportedly intervened with the Mauritanian High State Council to secure the release of “the deposed presidents aides” mainly former Prime Minister Yahya Ahmed El Waghef and Interior Minister Mohammed Ould Rzeizi.

Since 1984, the date of the putsch against former President Mouawiya Ould Sidi Ahmed Taya, Morocco has tried not to “meddle” with the Mauritanian political life while maintaining “good relations” with the various regimes.

Mauritania, which Morocco recognized in 1969, stood as a “key neighbour” and a gateway to Sub-Saharan Africa particularly as Moroccos relations with Algeria, the eastern neighbor have been strained since 1975 over Algiers support to the breakaway Polisario Front.

In addition to Morocco and the Polisario Front, Nouakchott is taking part in the Manhasset (near New York) negotiations on the Sahara started since June 2007 as an observer country just like Algeria.

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Kenya to work with IGAD to restore peace in Somali, says VP

Posted by African Press International on October 6, 2008

Kenyas Vice-President, Kalonzo Musyoka on Saturday promised that the Kenyan government will work with the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to bring peace to war-torn Somalia.

Speaking in eastern Kenya, Musyoka said theres need to sort out the problem once and for all so as to secure the Somali coastal strip waters which have become dangerous.

He made the comments in the light of the ongoing piracy saga, in which Somali pirates last week hijacked a Ukrainian ship with 21 crew members and military consignment headed for Kenya.

The pirates are demanding a whooping ransom of $30 million to release the ship.

“Kenya will only have peace if Somalia has peace”, he noted in a statement issued to the press in Nairobi by his office.

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Egyptian foreign minister begins a rare visit to Iraq

Posted by African Press International on October 6, 2008

The Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, accompanied by the Minister of Petroleum Sameh Fahmy began a visit to Baghdad, the Iraqi capital on Sunday, the first of its kind to Iraq since 1990.

The spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry Hossam Zaki told reporters in Cairo on Sunday that Aboul Gheit will discuss in Baghdad with Iraqi officials ways to promote Egyptian-Iraqi relations ad well as discuss development of events in Iraq.

The spokesman added that the Egyptian delegation will exchange views with Iraqi officials on ways to promote Egyptian-Iraqi relations and development in addition to discussing the situation in the Middle East and the Gulf region.

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French Prime Minister to visit Egypt to discuss cooperation and investment

Posted by African Press International on October 6, 2008

French Prime Minister Franois Fillon will visit Egypt during the second half of December for talks with President Hosni Mubarak and Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif and a number of senior officials on the promotion of bilateral relations between Egypt and France in various fields especially economic, trade and investment.

Egyptian diplomatic sources said on Sunday that the French Prime Minister will discuss activating the agreement between Egypt and France during the first meeting of the committee on activating the initiative of the Union for the Mediterranean, which is being jointly chaired by Egypt and France.

The sources added that the visit will witness movements and consultations for the establishment of joint ventures to reflect the Unions initiative for the Mediterranean, adding that there will be held on the sidelines of the visit a meeting of the Egyptian, French Presidential Business Council, to consider doubling the volume of French investments in Egypt.

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Mauritian foreign minister pleads for revision of EPAs at ACP summit

Posted by African Press International on October 6, 2008

The Mauritian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Arvin Boolell who is presently attending a summit of the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP) in the Ghanaian capital, Accra has proposed to the summit the institution of a Troika of heads of state to visit some of the most important member states of the European Union (EU) to solicit their help concerning the revision of certain contentious clauses of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs).

Speaking on Sunday from Accra by video-conference, the Minister told journalists in the Mauritian capital Port Louis that he has recommended that the Troika should first visit the country that is presently holding the presidency of the EU, France, followed by the Czech Republic, Britain and Germany

Boolell indicated that he has also proposed that the ACP Council of Ministers “immediately examine the possibility of establishing an ACP free trade area using as a basis the trade concessions that they have individually or on a regional basis, granted to the European Union under the full or interim Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs)”.

He added that at one of the summits of the heads of state, it had been decided to make a feasibility study on the question, but that there was no follow-up. The minister declared that the time was opportune to take the process forward and to adopt a decision on the issue.

Boolell added that he pleaded for a new dynamic and strengthened ACP group with a clear mandate and a clear road-map and observed that he raised the question of regional conflicts in Africa. He told the assembly that with the human suffering, environmental degradation, destruction of social and physical infrastructure, these conflicts are a blot on the face of Africa and are having devastating effects.

Minister Boolell is representing the Mauritian Prime Minister, Dr Navinchadra Ramgoolam at the summit.

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Somali authorities deny recognition of breakaway Georgian territories

Posted by African Press International on October 6, 2008

The Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) on Sunday denied that it has any plans to recognize the independence of the breakaway Georgian territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia which have recently declared their secession from Georgia.

The Director General of Somalias External Affairs and International Co-operation ministry Dr. Mohamed Jama Ali told reporters in Mogadishu on Sunday that his government was not aware of a statement from the Somali ambassador to Russia Mohamed Handulle who was reported to have said last week that Somalia was planning to recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent territories.

We do not know from where our ambassador got those remarks and as the Somali Transitional Federal Government we are denying his statement which does not represent our governments foreign policy, the Director General said.

We are recalling the ambassador to Mogadishu and he will be asked about what prompted him to make such an irregular statement, Ali added, saying that Somalia recognizes the territorial integrity of Georgia.

Last Friday, a spokesman for the Georgian foreign ministry carried reports that Somalia was on the verge of recognizing the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Meanwhile, Dr Mohamed Jama Ali said that all Somali government members including the president, Prime Minister, the Parliament speaker, ministers and legislators will head for Kenya later this month for a meeting of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

We will all go to Nairobi in response to an invitation from IGAD but still we have no more details about that, he said, adding that they will leave on October 26.

Late last month, foreign ministers from IGAD member nations who met on the side lines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York requested that all members of the Somali Transitional Federal Government to assemble in Nairobi for discussions on the security and political issues in Somalia.

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Posted by African Press International on October 6, 2008

The Commandant of the Nigerian Defence College, Rear Admiral John Jonah, has said that more than 150 delegates from 60 countries are expected to participate in the 14th International Association of Peacekeeping Training Centres (IAPTC) this week in Abuja to discuss;, among other things, the proposed African Standby Force.

Jonah told journalists on Saturday in Abuja during the African chapter of the meeting, which is preceding the international conference, that top military, police and civilian training institutions across Africa would conclude discussions on the proposed African Union Standby Force.

He said that the conference, which is being sponsored by the Nigerian and Canadian governments, would examine among others the operational Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the Standby Force and its funding.

The meeting will focus mainly on the African Standby Force, its deployment, funding and training. We will also take a critical look at the MOU for the force, he said.

He explained that the international chapter of the conference, which opens on Monday in Abuja, is open to any organization or individual interested in education and training for peacekeeping operations.

He, however, warned that advocacy groups and non-governmental organisations would not be allowed at the meeting.

It is not a forum for advocacy groups to promote causes nor is it an occasion for addressing operational issues, he said.

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Tanzania food and drugs body to release report on contaminated Chinese milk

Posted by African Press International on October 6, 2008

The report on Tanzanias situation following the banning of the contaminated Chinese dairy products will be out on Monday, APA has learnt.

The Director General of the Tanzania Foods and Drugs Authority (TFDA), Ms Margret Ndomondo Sigonda told APA in Dar es Salaam on Sunday by telephone that her agency was still gathering data countrywide, on the spread of dairy products from China.

Until last week, TFDA had already seized 34 tonnes of milk powder from China, and inspections at all the entry points are strictly maintained, she disclosed.

Ms Sigonda said the order to ban importation of the products has been well observed, but the remaining task was to establish the amount of products that were already in shopping centres before the importation was banned.

We are in the process to establish the amount of melamine chemicals likely to be found in the products that we seized during the operation we conducted after the breaking of the news on the products. We hope by Monday it would be ready and we will make it public, said the Director General.

Two weeks ago, Tanzania banned all dairy products from China, after news that milk powder contaminated with melamine chemical had affected children in China.

Over 6,000 Chinese children are reported to have died, and more than 13,000 seriously harmed and hospitalised.

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Egypt announces reopening of its embassy in Iraqi capital

Posted by African Press International on October 6, 2008

The Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, who begins a visit Sunday to Iraq announced in the Iraqi capital that Egypt was going to re-open its embassy in Baghdad.

Egyptian national television quoted Aboul Gheit as saying that he had inspected some locations in Baghdad to choose one of them to be the headquarters of the new Egyptian embassy.

Egypt closed its embassy in Iraq after militant groups had kidnapped and killed, on July 2005, Ehab al-Shareef the first Egyptian ambassador in Baghdad after the United States invasion in 2003.

An Egyptian security mission had visited Iraq late in August to explore the possibility of reopening the embassy.

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Negotiations for release of hijacked Ukrainian ship gaining ground, pirates say

Posted by African Press International on October 6, 2008

Negotiations to secure the release of a hijacked Ukrainian ship between Somali pirates and the owners of the vessel are progressing well, a spokesman for the pirates, Sugule Ali, was quoted as saying by the media in Nairobi on Friday.

Ali said that they have not reached a deal yet, but the negotiations are going on well and gaining ground.

The vessel, MV Faina, was hijacked last Thursday about 200 miles off the coast of Somalia is loaded with tanks, artillery, grenade launchers and ammunition.

The negotiations started in earnest on Tuesday with both sides negotiating over the telephone with the pirates demanding a whooping $30 million for the release of the freighter with 21 crew members onboard.

The spokesman said that the talks are making progress and are encouraging.

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