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Archive for November 22nd, 2008

Liberia: Documentary film makes ‘Oscar’ shortlist

Posted by African Press International on November 22, 2008

Monrovia (Liberia) – Pray the Devil Back to Hell is the extraordinary story of a small band of Liberian women who came together in the midst of a bloody civil war, took on the violent warlords and corrupt Charles Taylor regime, and won a long-awaited peace for their shattered country in 2003.

As the rebel noose tightened upon Monrovia, and peace talks faced collapse, the women of Liberia – Christian and Muslims united – formed a thin but unshakable white line between the opposing forces, and successfully demanded an end to the fighting- armed only with white T-shirts and the courage of their convictions.

In one remarkable scene, the women barricaded the site of stalled peace talks in Ghana, and announced they would not move until a deal was done. Faced with eviction, they invoked the most powerful weapon in their arsenal – threatening to remove their clothes. It worked.

The women of Liberia are living proof that moral courage and non-violent resistance can succeed, even where the best efforts of traditional diplomacy have failed.

Their demonstrations culminated in the exile of Charles Taylor and the election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first female head of state, and marked the vanguard of a new wave of women taking control of their political destiny around the world.

This remarkable chapter of world history was on its way to being lost forever. The Liberian war and peace movement were largely ignored as the international press focused on Iraq. Moreover, the women’s own modesty helped obscure this great accomplishment.

Pray the Devil Back to Hell reconstructs the moment through interviews, archival footage and striking images of contemporary Liberia. It is compelling testimony to the potential of women worldwide to alter the history of nations.

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api/source.The NEWS (Liberia)- November 20, 2008.

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Senegal: Weighing the benefits of solar stoves

Posted by African Press International on November 22, 2008

Thies (Senegal) – Researchers have sold over 1,000 solar stoves to rural families in Senegal in a bid to prove that the ovens can improve child and maternal health and reduce household fuel consumption.

Many institutions including the World Health Organization (WHO) have backed these claims but to date no scientific evidence has been gathered. The University of California at Berkeley’s Center for Evaluation of Global Action (CEGA) is undertaking the first study of solar stoves, evaluating the impact of the stoves on the lives of the families who bought them six months ago. The families live in the This region, 70km east of the capital Dakar.

“This is a big innovation,” Theresa Beltramo, one of the lead researchers, told IRIN. “A randomised trial such as this can greatly contribute to the public good by giving scientific evidence of the impact of solar stoves.”

Eva Rehfuess, an expert with WHO’s Department for Protection of the Human Environment, says half the world’s population uses solid fuel – usually wood, charcoal or dung – for household energy, which produces harmful smoke and causes 1.5 million deaths a year, most of those of children. Pneumonia, an upper respiratory disease linked to indoor air pollution, is the leading killer of children under five worldwide, according to WHO.

Solar stoves, which reflect energy from the sun’s rays to heat food, do not emit harmful smoke and so are a safe way to cook, says Marie-Ange Binagwaho, director of Solar Household Energy, a US-based non-profit organisation promoting solar energy solutions. Researchers use ‘carbon diffusion tubes’ similar to those used by fire-fighters to measure the amount of carbon monoxide women inhale as they cook.

“We are also measuring the amount of wood consumed daily, how much time [women] spend collecting wood and how often the solar stoves are being used,” Beltramo told IRIN.

Researchers are evaluating the families against a control of 500 households who did not buy the solar stoves. Beltramo hopes the study will prove solar stoves can improve users’ health, reduce fuel usage, and reduce the amount of time people spend collecting wood or other fuels.

CEGA’s Beltramo says villagers’ response to the stoves has been largely positive.

“Cooking is cleaner with this stove – there is no smoke, my children don’t breathe the smoke,” Ndella Gueye, in the village of Keur Ibra Fall, told IRIN.

Fama Mbaye, mother of four, said the stove has saved her time and lowered her kerosene consumption. “I have a few extra hours while I wait for the stove to cook the food and I use the time to sew clothing to sell.”

She said she preferred the taste of food cooked in a solar oven: “The taste is better because it heats without smoke and it conserves the taste of the food.”

But despite the stoves’ potential, there are financial and practical limitations to their use in Africa, according to Beltramo. “The cost of importing a stove can reach up to USD$100,” she said. “So at the moment, if we sell the stove at $4 they must be subsidised up to 96 percent. That is not sustainable.”

Solar products have to be imported, because essential materials are not available locally, which increases their cost. Cody Donahue, monitoring and evaluation coordinator of international NGO Tostan, which distributed the stoves, said Tostan had to raise the subsidy because in April 2008 families had so little spare cash due to high food and fuel prices.

Senegalese earn on average less than $2 a day, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The stove is also too small to cook for the average Senegalese family, Donahue pointed out. “Families are big and the solar stove is too small to prepare a ‘thibou dieune’ [traditional meal of rice with fish], so they use more than one stove or they use the solar stove only to make side dishes or to cook doughnuts for sale.”

“The stove needs to be bigger. But if the size is right, there is a huge possibility for change in health and also an opportunity for women to pursue other activities besides cooking,” CEGA’s Beltramo said.

The Senegalese Ministry of Biofuels and Renewable Energy is entering into an agreement with Solar Household Energy to produce and sell the stoves locally.

“We hope to make solar stoves available in all 11 regions of Senegal,” said Abdoulaye Tour, solar energy specialist at the ministry.

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api/source.UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) – November 20, 2008.

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Sudan: Prosecutor accuses Darfur rebels of war crimes

Posted by African Press International on November 22, 2008

ICC (The Hague) – The International Criminal Court (ICC), which is already considering charges against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir arising out of the war in Darfur, has now been asked to examine evidence that Darfur rebel commanders have committed war crimes.

The ICC’s prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, announced on Thursday that he was presenting evidence to judges relating to an attack on an African Union base in September 2007 in which 12 peacekeepers were killed.

Moreno-Ocampo said 1,000 Darfur rebels had surrounded and attacked the Haskanita camp in North Darfur.

There were reasonable grounds to believe, he said, that rebel commanders “bear criminal responsibility in relation to three counts of alleged war crimes for murder, intentionally directing attacks against personnel and objects involved in a peacekeeping mission and pillaging.”

Such acts constituted war crimes under the Rome Statute, which set up the ICC, Moreno-Ocampo said. I will not let such attacks go unpunished, he added.

In July this year, Moreno-Ocampo accused Bashir of genocide and war crimes.

The ICC is still considering his request for an arrest warrant.

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API/Source.allAfrica.com- November 20, 2008.

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Ethiopia: Women lost influence after fighting in war

Posted by African Press International on November 22, 2008

Addis Abeba (Ethiopia) – She fought alongside men in the Ethiopian liberation struggle. She fought for a free and fair society. But today, Yewubmar Asfaw feels that Ethiopia’s revolution has failed to deliver a fair share of political power to women.

In her book, published this year in Amharic, Asfaw, 52, describes how the liberation groups marginalised women fighters during the struggle and after the fall of the military regime in 1991.

A third of the fighters were women. Yet few of them rose to top positions in the ruling party, the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), which pools the four rebel groups. Among the 547 members of Parliament, only 116 are women, or 22 per cent – although in 2005 the EPRDF said it would reserve 30 per cent of its lists for women.

The Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF), to which Asfaw devoted 25 years as a guerrilla and as a cadre, has not done much better, she told IPS.

In 1979, at the first general assembly of the TPLF, not one woman was elected to a leadership position. In the next assembly five years later, Aregash Adane was elected into the 29-member central committee — and she remained its sole woman member for 17 years.

“The party used women as a stepping stone,” Asfaw told IPS. Disappointed, she and her husband left the TPLF in 2001, deeming the leadership undemocratic and disrespectful of women’s rights.

That was not an easy decision. Back in 1976, Asfaw was a 20-year-old university student when she and her two sisters went to fight in the northern region with the TPLF. The signs of machismo, though, were already visible. The following year, Asfaw and other women set up a committee to promote women’s rights within the rebel force. The initiative was not welcome.

“We only have one cause to fight for, and feminism is not part of it,” she recalls being told. Feminism was considered a foreign ideology.

Asfaw and her husband of 20 years have paid a price for their resolve. The TPLF had arranged for her to study in the Netherlands. She had to quit the course upon leaving the party, but managed to complete a BA degree in financial management on her own in 2004 — but not a job.

“Although I tried to get hired with my degree, I didn’t succeed. Employers were afraid of the potential risks of hiring me,” she said. “We depend on our relatives for a living.”

During these years, Asfaw wrote her 219-page book. In 2006, she, her husband, Aregash Adane and others started a new party, Arena Tigray.

Recent data underpins Asfaw’s analysis. The Global Gender Gap report, published by the World Economic Forum in early November, shows Ethiopia slipping in the ranking of 130 countries, from the 113th place in 2007, to 122nd in 2008. The Report considers how well countries divide resources and opportunities among men and women, analyzing economic participation, health, education and political empowerment.

Back in 1991, there was so much hope when the rebels toppled President Mengistu Haile Mariam, in power since 1974. Some 54,000 people died during the long fight against a regime responsible for heinous human rights violations.

Asfaw may be disappointed, but she is not defeated. She hopes that in her new party women and men will share power.

“I’m quite sure that Arena Tigray won’t repeat previous mistakes, but it still needs hard work,” says Asfaw. “What we fought for was much more than this.”

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api/source.Inter Press Service (IPS)- November 20, 2008.

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Africa at large: Keen on democracy, despite mixed results

Posted by African Press International on November 22, 2008

Johannesburg (South Africa) – Over the last twenty years, the ballot box has replaced military coups as a means of political change across Africa, says Professor Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi, a political scientist from the University of Ghana. However the results of democratic practices are a mixed bag of sand and sim-sim.

“There has been a significant departure from the mode of politics of the past,” he says.

The historical view advocated by dictators and their apologists that African people do not care about democratic principles but rather their economic social standing is not true, according to Gyimah-Boadi, who is also head of the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development. Analysing the fourth round of the Afro-Barometer survey, he said that over half of Africans surveyed said they prefer democracy over any other form of government.

The Afro-Barometer is an independent research project that measures the social, political and economic atmosphere on the continent. Surveys are conducted in more than a dozen countries and at regular cycles. Professor Gyimah-Boadi says the surveys have shown that Africans have a good understanding of what democracy means to them. According to results from the third round conducted in 18 countries during 2005-2006, 73 percent of Africans rejected military rule. People on the continent are also relatively knowledgeable about government policies concerning healthcare and education.

The survey however also found that while African countries have achieved considerable success in terms of holding elections that are viewed as credible, African citizens are unsure about the ability of elections to improve their lives.

According to Gyimah-Boadi, democracy has fallen short of people’s expectations.

“We have found in our surveys that those who say they are satisfied with democracy have sharply declined by about thirteen percentage points between 2000 and 2005.”

What is clear is that there is a huge gap between expectations and realities. Recent African history has shown that democracy has had varying consequences for different countries. At times it has produced prosperity and at other times factionalism and discord.

Cyprian Nyamwamu, a member of Kenya’s National Convention Executive Council (NCEC) presented the case of his country’s experience before, during and after the 2007 elections. Nyamwamu says that ethnic identity and informal power played a big role in the East African country’s most recent elections, when the contested outcome led to widespread violence.

In 2006, the African Peer Review Mechanism published a report stating that politics are too often based on ethnic rather than social or economic interests. The primacy of ethnic interests, the report warned, posed a threat to national unity, as “differences of opinion and belief… are used to polarise and mobilise group action”.

The APRM report suggested Kenya needed to place ethnicity on the discussion table and consistently involve all groups in mainstream dialogue; reserved seats or proportional representation, the recognition of minority languages, and requirements that key government positions reflect the ethnic diversity of the country were among measures suggested as remedies.

“That report provided an important independent statement on the things we have been saying as the NCEC, political parties and civil societies.”

According to Nyamwamu, disregard for these findings paved the way for the outbreak of violence even before the election in December 2007.

“There is now a clash of ethnic and civil constitutions. Every time there is a conflict between the ethnicities and the national constitution, the ethnic agendas tend to carry the day and this is what has led to what we call the entrenchment of impunity,” he said.

His view on the role of ethnicity was challenged by delegates at the conference. Some felt it was too simplistic an explanation of Kenya’s problem. The role of class and religion was something that needed further analysis and understanding they claimed.

The situation in Kenya is however not the only story to be told about democracy in Africa. Panelists acknowledged success stories such as Botswana, which has never seen a coup and has held regular multi-party elections since independence in 1966. Mozambique is also regarded as a success story on the continent in terms of economic recovery and political reconciliation after a long civil war.

Examples such as these provide ordinary citizens of the continent the hope to meet another tomorrow — smiling.

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api/source.Inter Press Service (IPS)- November 20, 2008.

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Namibia: National assembly approves controversial U.S. grant

Posted by African Press International on November 22, 2008

Windhoek (Namibia) – Following weeks of controversy, the National Assembly yesterday approved a N$3 billion development aid grant from the US government, known as the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) compact, with a minor amendment.

Prime Minister Nahas Angula read out the reply of Works and Transport Minister Helmut Angula, who was absent yesterday. Angula was until April the Director General of the National Planning Commission (NPC), which spearheaded the MCA process.

The Swapo Party Youth League caused a major stir within the ruling party two months ago, claiming that under the tourism section of the US grant, the Etosha National Park would be “sold out to US companies” and that they would erect tourism lodges within the park.

The compact will provide millions of dollars in support for the tourism, education and agriculture sectors over five years. Reading from Minister Angula’s speech, the Prime Minister noted it had been a concern that Namibian laws allegedly would not apply for the MCA projects.

“Our negotiating team discussed this with our US partners and, while the text in that Clause (7.1c), is not incorrect per se, it is open for interpretation for those who do not have a legal background. We discussed to change this section and bring the text in line with the Vienna Convention on International Treaties to which Namibia has been a party since independence,” he said.

The text amendment now reads “Namibia may not invoke the provisions of its internal law (other than the Constitution) as justification for its failure to perform the MCA compact.”

Another concern raised in Parliament was who would be liable if the US government suspended the MCA. There were sufficient safeguards in such an event, Angula said. Government would take liability for contracts entered into with suppliers and a “wrap-up period” of 120 days was provided for.

“In addition, MCA Namibia will build certain safeguards into contracts with suppliers like the right to terminate a supply contract if Compact funding is suspended or terminated. This is a standard clause in many of Government’s agreements with suppliers.”

The MCA compact reflected Namibia’s own development priorities as set out in the third National Development Plan (NDP3), Angula added.

An example was that 47 schools were selected for renovation by Government. Should MCA funding be withdrawn, Government would still continue to renovate the schools with own resources, albeit over a longer period.

On the criticism that US companies would come to Namibia and be allowed to bid for MCA procurement tenders and to receive preferential treatment, the Prime Minister said the US government had initially requested that.

“The US government then agreed that there would be no preferences at all, not for US companies and not for recipient-country companies. Instead, international competitive bidding would apply to all procurements funded by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).”

However, the Namibian negotiating team managed to work in some safeguards, the Prime Minister told the House. These include a threshold of up to N$2 million for local procurement, local advertising for goods and non-consulting services and a N$10 million local threshold for works contracts.

In addition, some tender requirements would be “Namibianised” like creating smaller tender packages which could be managed by Namibian companies, ensuring that local materials will be used to reduce maintenance costs, demanding adherence to Namibian standards and also requiring a certain level of local knowledge and prior experience.

On Etosha National Park, Angula merely said that existing rural conservancies nearby would receive tourism concessions to have access to Etosha.

“I assure the House that our negotiating team followed established protocol in the negotiations and relied on the Office of the Attorney General for Legal Counsel,” he concluded.

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api/source.The Namibian (Namibia) – November 20, 2008.

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South Africa: Cholera crosses the border from Zimbabwe

Posted by African Press International on November 22, 2008

Johannesburg (South Africa) – Zimbabwe’s cholera epidemic has crossed into South Africa, with four confirmed diagnoses in a total of 68 suspected cases in the border town of Musina, according to aid workers.

In the past four days 14 people have been hospitalised and two have died as the result of the outbreak: one a South African national who often travelled to Zimbabwe, and the second a Zimbabwean citizen.

Just across the border, in the Zimbabwean town of Beitbridge, 435 cases have been reported, and the overstretched local hospital has been making arrangements to transfer patients to South Africa, said John Shiburi, a South African Red Cross Society official in Musina. Zimbabwe’s official newspaper, The Herald, reported on 19 November that 44 people have so far died in Beitbridge.

The cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe has flared up in several parts of the country, including the capital, Harare, and its satellite town of Chitungwiza, as a result of the collapse of water and sewerage services, worsened by uncollected refuse and the start of the rainy season.

Humanitarian officials have reported that a total of 2,893 people were infected by the waterborne disease between the beginning of August and mid-November, with at least 115 deaths.

Zimbabwe has activated the Civil Protection Unit, its national disaster response agency, to help open cholera clinics and provide public information to combat the epidemic. The UN children’s agency, UNICEF, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have also been assisting in the provision of drinking water.

South Africa’s ministry of health has set up two cholera centres attached to the local hospital in Musina, and one earmarked for the show grounds, a field on the edge of town, which has become home to hundreds of asylum seekers and migrants awaiting documentation from the ministry of home affairs. Latrines and water taps are also reportedly to be provided.

“If [cholera] is not controlled we could have a major problem,” Shiburi told IRIN. “The rains could make it much worse; those people [migrants] are staying out in the open.”

He was concerned that blame for the cholera outbreak in Musina would be placed on Zimbabweans, already suffering local resentment over the numbers that cross the border each day to escape the economic and humanitarian crisis in their country. “[Cholera] public awareness campaigns should include the people of Musina, and avoid stigmatising the Zimbabweans.”

Much of Zimbabwe has experienced erratic water supplies as unserviced equipment fails. The state-owned Zimbabwe National Water Authority has confirmed that it has been pumping untreated sewage into Harare’s water supply dam, Lake Chivero; when supplies are accessible, the water coming out of the taps often emits a pungent smell.

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api/source.UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)- November 20, 2008.

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Zimbabwe: South Africa withholds Zim aid

Posted by African Press International on November 22, 2008

Harare (Zimbawe) – South Africa said on Thursday it will withhold aid for Zimbabwe until a representative government is in place, in what appeared to be the first punitive measure by a regional country to enforce a power-sharing agreement.

Toughening its stand, the South African government said it was “extremely concerned” about Zimbabwe’s political impasse, which has deepened a humanitarian crisis. It called for mature leadership to resolve outstanding issues.

The statement came as President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) prepared to hold another round of talks in South Africa next week to seek a breakthrough.

The money being withheld – R300-million meant for agricultural assistance – is a small fraction of foreign aid to Zimbabwe, but carries symbolic weight as a sign of irritation in its powerful neighbour.

“This money will be only disbursed once a representative government was in place and in time for the next planting season in April 2009,” a statement from the South African cabinet said.

Doubts have grown about Zimbabwe’s September 15 power-sharing agreement and Mugabe is trying to push through a constitutional amendment allowing him to name a cabinet alone, which could lead to the unravelling of the deal with the opposition. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has refused to enter the government, accusing Mugabe of trying to grab the powerful ministries. The main obstacle in talks is the issue of who runs the home affairs ministry, which oversees the police.

Mark Schroeder, director of risk analysis for sub-Saharan Africa at Stratfor, doubted South Africa’s move would sway Mugabe and his supporters and interpreted the aid move as largely symbolic.

“It is not sufficient for them to yield power to Tsvangirai,” he said. “It is a small step and could be an initial negotiating stance. But a lot more needs to be done.”

The September deal had raised hopes that a new leadership would get on with the task of rescuing the ruined economy. The stalemate has frustrated Zimbabweans and regional impatience is growing.

“We’re going to make sure that everything is done to force the parties to go back to the negotiating table,” South African cabinet spokesperson Themba Maseko told reporters.

Zimbabwe’s gold output, which accounts for a third of its export earnings, hit an all-time monthly low of 125 kg in October as economic woes forced more mine closures, a mining official said on Thursday.

Zimbabwe’s rival parties will meet with former South African President Thabo Mbeki, who is mediating, next week in South Africa to discuss the deadlock, the South African foreign ministry said.

Before Mbeki was ousted as president in September by his ruling African National Congress, he had been accused by critics of failing to take a tough enough stand on Zimbabwe.

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api/Source.The Star (South Africa – November 20, 2008.

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Zimbabwe: Annan, Carter and Machel’s Zimbabwe visit blocked

Posted by African Press International on November 22, 2008

Harare (Zimbabwe): Mugabe’s government has blocked a planned visit this week by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan and former US president Jimmy Carter to assess the countrys humanitarian crisis.

Annan and Carter, joined by rights activist Graca Machel, wife of former South African President Nelson Mandela, said their mission was to find ways to ease Zimbabwes deepening humanitarian crisis and prevent it from worsening.

“The visit has been deemed a partisan mission by a group of people with partisan interests,” a government official was quoted as saying in the state-run Herald newspaper on Thursday.

The Herald said Carter, Annan and Machel — all members of the Elders, a group of 12 world-respected statesmen with hands-on experience in conflict resolution had been told to come at a later date as Zimbabwe was currently occupied with the ongoing inclusive government talks and preparations for the summer cropping season.

“The government would also want to know whose mission they are representing and who they report to. This stems from documented and well-known attitudes by some of the groups members towards Zimbabwe,” a government source is quoted as saying in the Herald.

In an advance statement issued last week before the visit, Annan said: “Relieving the suffering of millions of people must be the priority of Zimbabwe’s leaders. But global attention is also slipping as Zimbabwe’s humanitarian crisis worsens.”

Zimbabwe’s economy has been in free-fall for years, battered by hyperinflation last estimated at 231 million percent in July.

Although the country was once a food exporter, the United Nations estimates that five million people — nearly half the population — will need food aid in January.

Annan insisted that their mission was purely humanitarian and would not touch on the protracted negotiations to form a unity government under a two-month-old power-sharing deal.

“However, we urge Zimbabwe’s political leaders to move swiftly to fully implement the September 15 agreement, particularly the provisions on humanitarian and food assistance,” he said.

“Delays in forming a government are prolonging the suffering of the people, Annan added.

The Elders group was formed last year by Machel and Mandela on his 89th birthday. The group includes Desmond Tutu, one of Mugabe’s fiercest critics in the region.

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api/source.Newzimbabwe.com (South Africa) – November 20, 2008.

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Rwanda: Rose Kabuye transferred to France

Posted by African Press International on November 22, 2008

The New Times (Rwanda) – November 20, 2008.

Kigali (Rwanda) – The Director of State Protocol Rose Kabuye, who was recently arrested in Germany, was yesterday transferred to France. Members of the Rwandan Community in France standing outside the Palais de Justice in Paris, France confirmed this, moments after she was reportedly secretly and swiftly whisked into court by French police.

“We were not able to see her as she was hurriedly and secretly rushed into court on arrival here,” Nido Uwera, one of the Rwandans outside the Palais de Justice told The New Times on phone.

Uwera said that they were waiting anxiously to hear the outcome of Kabuye’s first court appearance. She also revealed that the Rwandans in France had earlier been given the go ahead to demonstrate against Kabuye’s arrest.

“We were given permission by the authorities here to protest come this Saturday. We are now planning for the rally.”

Immacule Rahmatali, another Rwandan waiting outside the court building, also emphatically stated that they would wait till they heard what came out of her first court appearance.

“She is ours and she is innocent and we will wait here until we hear whatever comes out,” she said.

“This is a sad day in the history of international justice, a sad time for diplomacy and the International Justice is in jeopardy,” declared Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama during a live media debate on Kabuye’s arrest yesterday.

“This is about Rose, it’s about Rwanda and it’s about Africa but there is a light at the end of the tunnel because this case is going to unearth many things that have been hidden,” said Foreign Affairs Minister, Rosemary Museminali, who also attended the debate.

Kabuye’s transfer to France coincided with massive protests in Kigali and all over the country and hundreds of thousands converged before the German Embassy condemning the country for what they called an illegitimate arrest.

“The government and the people of Rwanda would like to reiterate their unequivocal demand to have Kabuye unconditionally released as she is an innocent political hostage and we call upon the Federal Republic of Germany and France to cease the judicial harassment of Rwandan officials,” said a government statement read by Mushikiwabo.

Government also reemphasised the request a few months ago by the African Union calling for an imposition of a moratorium on all the indictments against Rwandan officials which officials say, were politically motivated.

From a legal point of view, international law doesn’t permit any foreign judge to indict someone from a different country unless the criminal is an international terrorist downing of that plane, as unfortunate as it was, could not in any way qualify for an international terror attack,” said Karugarama, who is also the country’s Attorney General.

He added: “Actually, Bruguiere’s method of work was more of terrorist in nature because his report is a political statement full of hate and racist language it’s like a social research not a judicial document.”

Following the arrest, Rwanda decided to send home Christian Clages, the German Ambassador to Rwanda and recalled Rwanda’s ambassador from Berlin.

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API/source.The New Times (Rwanda) – November 20, 2008.

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Songs that touch our hearts

Posted by African Press International on November 22, 2008

Agnus Dei

Artist Michael W. Smith

Alleluia, Alleluia
For the lord God almighty reigns
Alleluia, alleluia
For the lord God almighty reigns
Alleluia

Holy, holy are you lord God almighty
Worthy is the lamb
Worthy is the lamb

You are holy, holy are you lord God almighty
Worthy is the lamb
Worthy is the lamb
Amen

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Healing Rain

Chorus 1

Healing rain it comes with fire

So let it fall and take us higher

Healing rain Iʼm not afraid

To be washed in heavenʼs rain

Verse 1

Healing rain is coming down

Itʼs coming nearer to this old town

Rich and poor the wak and strong

Itʼs bringing mercy it wonʼt be long

Verse 2

Healing rain is coming down

Itʼs coming closer to the lost and found

Tears of joy and tears of shame

Are washed forever in Jesusʼ name

Verse 3

Healing rain heads let us return

To the mercy seat where time began

And in your eyes I see the pain

Come soak this dry heart with healing rain

Misc. 1

(BRIDGE)

And only You the Son of man

Could take a leper and let him stand

So lift your hands they can be held

By someone greatest the Great I Am

Misc 2

(ENDING)

Healing rain is falling down

Healing rain is falling down

Iʼm not afraid, Iʼm not afraid

Healing rain is falling down

Healing rain is falling down

Iʼm not afraid, Iʼm not afraid

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You are Good
Artist–Israel and New Breed
(Verse) Lord You are Good and Your mercy endures forever (2x)
(PRE-CHORUS)People from every nation and tongue
From generation to generation
(CHORUS)We worship YouHallelujah, HallelujahWe worship You
For who You are You are good (yes You are, yes You are)So good, so good(yes You are, yes You are) You are good all the timeand all the time You are Good(3x)
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From Katherine (Southerngirlsrights)

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We Want To See Jesus Lifted High

Posted by African Press International on November 22, 2008

We Want To See Jesus Lifted High

Verse

We want to see Jesus lifted high A banner that flies across this land That all men might see the truth and know He is the way to heaven

Chorus 1

We want to see, we want to see We want to see Jesus lifted high We want to see, we want to see We want to see Jesus lifted high

Bridge

Step by step weʼre moving forward Little by little taking ground Every prayer a powerful weapon Strongholds come tumbling down and down and down

Chorus 2 Weʼre gonna see, weʼre gonna see Weʼre gonna see Jesus lifted high Weʼre gonna see, weʼre gonna see Weʼre gonna see Jesus lifted high *************************************************************************

We Fall DownArtist Chris Tomlin
We fall down We lay our crowns At the feet of Jesus
The greatness of Your Mercy and love At the feet of JesusAnd we cry holy, holy, holy
And we cry holy, holy, holy
And we cry holy, holy, holy Is the lambWe fall down We lay our crowns At the feet of Jesus The greatness of Mercy
and love At the feet of Jesus
And we cry holy, holy, holy And we cry holy, holy, holy
And we cry holy, holy, holy Is the lamb
And we cry holy, holy, holy And we cry holy, holy, holy And we cry holy, holy, holy Is the lamb
**********************************************************
From Katherine (Southerngirlsrights) to give us comfort in API

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API has temporarily withdrawn most of the articles published between 15th Oct and 17th Nov. All these will be republished after removal of negative comments and links

Posted by African Press International on November 22, 2008

API has gone through all articles published between the 15th of October and the 17th of November when the Michelle Obama story broke out, and realised that there were some inappropriate comments that passed through our moderation system because of a lot of work caused by the story making it almost impossible to go through the many comments that come in at the same time.

Due this factor, API has taken a decision to pull out temporarily all the articles with such comments and will delete all comments before releasing back the articles.

Any future comments will be well scrutinised and the period allowed each day for posters will be between 3 to 5 hours well monitored in order to block any bad worded comments passing through.

Most of the articles pulled out are on the Michelle Obama tape, the Imam document on Mr Obama and other sensitive stories touching on the American elections. These articles will be brought back in a few days time after all comments have been deleted. API’s enemies and jealous people had included bad links in their comments and some of them send in comments with abusive words. All these are now being deleted and our site will get back its good repute that it had before the Michelle Obama story broke out and the comments that followed thereafter.

API will welcome posters again from tomorrow Sunday afternoon Norwegian time because deleting of the earlier bad comments has gone quicker that expected.

Chief Editor Korir

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API with WWW domain will focus mainly on News from Africa

Posted by African Press International on November 22, 2008

It has not been a smooth journey for African Press International. The journey started peacefully from WordPress site https://africanpress.wordpress.com to another WordPress site http://africanpressonline.wordpress.com,continued to Tripod site http://africanpress.tripod.com and now back to the original WordPress site https://africanpress.wordpress.com

All this happened due to the US Presidential elections and the people who are for and against Barack Obama as the US President. API took a position not to support Obama and that caused a number of Obama supporters to be agitated. They fought API vigorously in an effort to stop it from airing the Michelle Obama tape. They used propaganda to try and discredit the Chief editor so that the information in the tape may not be believed because they fear the contents of the tape may cause a huge problem for Mr Obama.

Many of them armed with jealousies grouped in the mountain sage site and started hammering API and supplying lies to WordPress about API’s work. When API was shut down by WordPress who believed them, API immediately opened a new site in the same company, WordPress. That site survived only for a few hours before the same jealous people brought it down using their lies.

API was not willing to give up, so it moved to Tripod and established a site there. What API did not know was the amount of jealousy the enemies had, because it only took 2 days before they managed to fool tripod to shut API down.

Luckily, WordPress had taken our complaint seriously and decided to study API’s evidence on the case that was to prove that the whole thing was a vendetta directed against API. They decided to open for API itsoriginal site.

This was a good move and a blessing because API got back all its articles and could proceed with the work from where they had reached.

To be on the safe side, a WWW private domain for API has been bought and will be operational by the coming Wednesday. With all the work API has done in API’s WordPress site, readers will be able to get the old stories even when API shifts to the new www domain because API intends to transfer the whole API’s WordPress site intact with all the information.

In this way, the enemies will not be able to stop API. API will also be able to start posting advertisements in the new www domain if it so wishes.

By API Editorial

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Two Kenyan sisters sentenced to 14 years and 5 years in prison for $15 million tax fraud conspiracy

Posted by African Press International on November 22, 2008

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Two sisters from Kenya were sentenced in federal court Thursday for their roles in a multi-million dollar conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service. John F. Wood, U.S. Attorney, Western District of Missouri, announced the sentences. The case was investigated by: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, IRS’s Criminal Investigations, and the U.S. Secret Service.
The wire fraud scheme involved stealing the identities of hundreds of victims, primarily nursing home residents, which were used to seek more than $15 million in fraudulent federal tax refunds.
Loretta Wavinya, 32, and her sister, Lillian Nzongi, 28, both citizens of Kenya residing in Kansas City, Mo., were sentenced in separate hearings before U.S. District Judge Nanette K. Laughrey. Wavinya was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison without parole. Nzongi was sentenced to five years and 10 months in federal prison without parole.
“These two defendants came to the United States on student visas, and instead of building a life here, they exploited our online tax refund system to the tune of millions of dollars,” Wood said. “Today’s lengthy sentences send a clear message to others who may be considering cheating the tax payers or using other people’s identities.”
On June 25, 2008, Wavinya pleaded guilty to leading the conspiracy to steal identity information (including Social Security numbers), predominantly from elderly nursing home patients, and use it to file more than 540 fraudulent federal tax returns using the names of more than 500 identity-theft victims. Conspirators filed up to six state tax returns simultaneously with each federal return, causing a loss to at least 27 states. In addition to the conspiracy, Wavinya pleaded guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
In total, conspirators claimed over $15 million in tax refunds in the names of identity theft victims, and they actually received at least $2.3 million in fraudulent refunds.
Wavinya worked as a tax preparer and as a certified radiology technician for a company that visited patients on-site at multiple nursing homes in the Kansas City area. In the course of her employment, she had access to patient identity information that was later used in the conspiracy. She also recruited other employees of health care facilities to steal identity information from patients. While executing search warrants at Wavinya’s residence and a storage unit, law enforcement officers discovered patient information from area health care providers containing hundreds of patients’ names and identity information. Wavinya possessed dozens of identity documents (including several notebooks filed with page after page of names, Social Security numbers, and dates of birth), hundreds of medical records with identity theft victims’ personal information, and information concerning dozens of financial accounts. In Wavinya’s purse at the time of her arrest, she had 23 debit, credit and cash storage cards in other people’s names; she had 75 more cards in her car.
Wavinya was the largest single filer and received the largest share of the proceeds, much of which was invested in assets outside the United States. In total, the IRS believes that Wavinya was directly responsible for at least $9.6 million in fraudulent filings. Wavinya sent her proceeds overseas and maintained passports and thousands of dollars in a bank box. Wavinya, who created the scheme, also taught other conspirators how to file fraudulent tax returns.
To conceal their true identities, Wavinya and other conspirators filed these fraudulent tax returns electronically through public Internet “hot spots,” such as coffee shops or restaurants, and through unsecured private wireless networks maintained by unwitting individuals with no connection to the conspiracy. Law enforcement officers discovered evidence that Wavinya used her neighbor’s unsecured wireless network to connect to the Internet.
The false tax information was used to generate federal refund claims from $4,000 to $47,000 each. Conspirators also submitted false returns to state taxing agencies, typically in conjunction with federal returns, to generate claims from $1,500 to $20,000 per return. Conspirators often filed multiple state tax returns in conjunction with a single federal tax return.
Mail related to the returns and credit cards was sent to commercial mailboxes across Kansas City, and Wavinya and other conspirators often used “runners” to pick up this mail to conceal their own identities. Nzongi pleaded guilty July 23, admitting to her role as one of those runners.
Wavinya and other conspirators caused numerous bank accounts in Kansas City and elsewhere to be opened specifically to receive electronic fund transfers of tax refund payments. Shortly after a refund payment was wired into an account, conspirators used runners to help them withdraw the money. Conspirators wrote checks to the runners in amounts less than $10,000 and drove the runners from bank to bank to cash the checks until the accounts were depleted, or the bank or the IRS detected the fraud and froze the account. The runners provided the withdrawn funds back to Wavinya and others and received a small payment for their services.
Some of the money obtained by the conspiracy was wired to banks in Kenya, where refund money was sometimes withdrawn directly from accounts through automated teller machine (ATM) withdrawals occurring in Kenya. On some occasions the conspirators routed electronic transfers of tax refunds directly to prepaid debit-like cards obtained anonymously through an Internet application process. Nzongi also admitted that she conducted a series of financial transfers using a stolen identity, resulting in a wire transfer of funds to Nairobi, Kenya.
Vincent Niagwara Ogega, 24, a citizen of Kenya residing in Independence, Mo., pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 months of incarceration and ordered to pay $69,300 in restitution. Aaron Mutavi, 30, a citizen of Kenya residing in Overland Park, Kan., pleaded guilty and was sentenced to time served and ordered to pay $36,650 in restitution. Rashira Lewis, 21, of Kansas City, Mo., pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay $53,773 in restitution.
Moses Ndubai, 34, and Karingithi Gotonga Kamau, age unknown, both of whom are citizens of Kenya, and Jeanette Alexander, 40, Michael Anderson, 50, both of Kansas City, Mo., have pleaded guilty and await sentencing.
This case is being prosecuted by Executive Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel M. Nelson and Curt Bohling, Western District of Missouri. It was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, IRS’s Criminal Investigations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Secret Service.

— ICE —

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