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Archive for December 8th, 2008

Over 20 million Ethiopian muslims Monday observes Eid al-Adha

Posted by African Press International on December 8, 2008

Over 20 millions Ethiopian muslims on Monday celebrated the 1428th Eid al-Adha Arafa colourfully here in Addis Ababa and other parts of the country.

In Addis Ababa where there is a big number of muslim community, the celebration of the day started early with prayer ceremony held at the Addis Ababa stadium and in the street in the presence of over 200,000 worshippers.

The prayer ceremony ended in solumn processions along the main streets chanting praises to Alah with great religious fervor.

Haji Umer Edris, president of the Addis Ababa Islamic Affairs Supreme Council appealed to the muslim community to actively participate in fostering the culture of co-existence, peace and harmony and in the economic development of Ethiopia.

He also called on the Muslim community to discharge their obligatory religious duty of sharing with the needy.

The day is still being observed with various activities throughout the country.

For the first time, Ethiopian Television(ETV) broadcasted live the celebration ceremony from Saudi Arabia, Mekka.

There are around 25 million Ethiopian Muslims in the country, comprising about 34 % of the 76 million population.

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source.apa

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Omar Bongo mediates peace in CAR

Posted by African Press International on December 8, 2008

All-inclusive comprehensive political dialogue starts Monday in CAR

Bangui (Central African Republic) The comprehensive political dialogue in the Central African Republic (CAR) will on Monday afternoon start in Bangui, in the presence of the mediator of the conflict, President Omar Bongo of Gabon, and former President Ange Felix Patasse, who returned home on Sunday from a five-year exile in Togo, after his toppling in 2003 by incumbent President Franois Bozize.

Friday and Saturday were especially reserved for the registration of the many delegates to that nationwide forum, which will also be attended by government representatives, the un-armed opposition, civil society organisations, and rebel movements.

“We will abide by the deadline agreed upon”, President Bozize said, expressing hope that all the sons and daughters of the country will get involved in the dialogue process.

Following on President Bozizes heels, Communication Minister and coordinator of the all-inclusive political dialogue, Mr. Cyriaque Gonda, and the leader of the Central African Liberation Movement for Justice (MLCJ), Captain Ababkar Sabone, on Sunday signed in Bangui, a ceasefire and peace agreement.

This agreement signed on the eve of the meeting is the result of a “month- long process”, Mr. Sabone said, adding that his movement signed the agreement “to make peace”, after “having taken up the arms”.

“We have imposed the all-inclusive political dialogue to drag the country out of misery”, he further said.

The signing of the document took place at the Foreign Affairs Ministry in the presence of the Dialogue Presidium Chair Major Pierre Buyoya, the French ambassador to Bangui Mr. Jean Pierre Vidon, and Mr. Franois Lonseny Fall, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General in the Central African Republic.

The peace agreement signed on 21 June 2008 in Libreville, Gabon provides among others, the cessation of hostilities and the stationing of all rebel forces in view of their disarmament, demobilisation and reinsertion.

By signing this agreement, the MLCJ joins other movements, such as the Popular Army for the Restoration of Democracy (APRD) led by Jean-Jacques Demafouth and the Union of Democratic Forces for the Rally (UFDR), led by Zacharia Damane.

source.apa

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Museveni praises the Carter centre

Posted by African Press International on December 8, 2008

Yoweri presides opening of river blindness meeting in Kampala

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Monday opened the 14th session of the Joint Action Forum on River Blindness Control that brings together health ministers, administrators and technicians representing 12 of the 14 African member countries.

Speaking at the four-day meeting, President Museveni observed that better health and agricultural production could enhance economic development in Africa.

President Museveni said that the Government of Uganda is improving agricultural methods to ensure further enhancement of the lives of the poor people in the country.

He expressed satisfaction over the Carter Centre for its contribution towards the elimination of the guinea worm infestation in Uganda.

Mr. Museveni revealed that the vector was eliminated further through sensitization of poor people adding that government has effectively eliminated the vectors and would succeed in eliminating the diseases.

The Minister of Health Dr. Steven Malinga, for his part, noted that over one million people are infected with the river blindness disease in Uganda.

He said another 2.5 million are at the risk of being infected, and noted that the governments target was eliminate the disease by 2015 under in consonance with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

source.apa

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Raila of Kenya wants to go the military way to overthrow Mugabe

Posted by African Press International on December 8, 2008

NAIROBI – Foreign troops should prepare to intervene in Zimbabwe to end a worsening humanitarian crisis and the country’s president, Robert Mugabe, should be investigated for crimes against humanity, the Kenyan prime minister said yesterday.

In the latest sign of international frustration over Zimbabwe’s slide into chaos, Prime Minister Raila Odinga urged the African Union to call an emergency meeting to authorize sending troops into Zimbabwe.

“If no troops are available, then the AU must allow the UN to send its forces into Zimbabwe with immediate effect, to take over control of the country and ensure urgent humanitarian assistance to the people dying of cholera,” he said.

More than 500 Zimbabweans have officially died of the disease since an outbreak in August, but health officials fear the toll may be much higher. They warn that deaths could spiral into the thousands due to the collapse of Zimbabwe’s health system, the scarcity of food, and the oncoming rainy season, which may help spread infections.

Odinga said Mugabe had reduced the country to a “basket case” and should be investigated by the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

Odinga said other African leaders were too slow to criticize Zimbabwe and were treating Mugabe with “kid gloves” because Mugabe had supported their liberation struggles.

“We refuse to accept the idea that African countries should be judged by lesser standards than other countries in the world,” Odinga said. “Participation in the liberation struggle is no license for anyone to own a country.”

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source.bostonnews

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Ghanaians go to the Polls

Posted by African Press International on December 8, 2008

With Sunday’s Election, Ghana on the Way to Becoming a ‘Mature Democracy’


08 December 2008

As Ghanaians await the results of Sunday’s presidential election, political scientists are weighing in on whether Ghana would pass the test of mature democracy that has eluded most African countries.

Some political scientists define a mature democracy as a country that has had two successful handovers of power from legitimately elected leader to another.

Joel Barkan is senior associate at the Africa Program of the Center for International and Strategic Studies here in Washington. He told VOA Ghana may be on its way to becoming a mature democracy.

“What you’re referring to there is the principle of double alternation formulated by Samuel Huntington, a distinguished political scientist at Harvard. That was exactly a mis-quote of his principle because his bar is higher than simply a peaceful transition of power. He requires a double alternation, meaning that one political party is essentially defeated in an election by the candidate of another political party, which in fact happened in 2000 when John Kufuor was elected. And then there is a second alternation when the candidate of incumbent political party, in this case Nana Akufo-Addo he is defeated and the opposition comes back in. Other political suggest that there are other standards for mature democracy, but Ghana is on its way towards that goal,” he said.

Barkan said Ghana’s electoral system is quite good, including a good commission to supervise the elections.

He said if one adheres to the Huntington definition, then only a few countries in Africa can be considered as mature democracies.

“If you adhere to the Huntington definition, the only double alternation that has occurred has been, I believe I’m correct, in Zambia. But Ghana has had one alternation so far; Senegal has had one alternation. In each of these cases the candidate of the ruling political party was defeated and there was an acceptance of that by the candidate of the ruling party, and the opposition came into power,” Barkan said.

He said while Botswana has had a series of a peaceful transfer of power, it does not meet Huntington’s definition of a mature democracy in all cases of Botswana’s peaceful transition the victor has been a member of the ruling party even though the person elected has changed.

“So Botswana fits the definition you quoted me (that a mature democracy is a country that has had two successful handovers of power from one legitimately elected leader to another). But the definition that political scientists use that is alternation between candidates of governing and opposition parties, Botswana has not met that test,” he said.

On the other hand, Barkan said Botswana passes the test of a mature democracy because it has had successful elections, it has a free press, an independent judiciary, low level of corruption, and it has an emerging legislature.

Barkan said a few African countries could fit the scientific definition of a maturing democracy.

“Different political scientists use different measures, let’s put it that way. But when you assess Africa as a whole, which I think is your main question, what we tend to find is that there are about seven or eight that are put in the category of maturing democracy that is close to consolidating democracy. Botswana, Benin, Ghana would all fall into that category, South Africa too perhaps. And then another group of countries may be 15 or so that I would aspiring democracies which are not quite there yet, but are quite promising,” Barkan said.

He said it has been difficult for African countries to achieve double alternation because it takes time.

“You cannot achieve a double alternation until there are series of elections. You have to have at least two or three for the alternation to take place. But in most cases, incumbent presidents are re-elected. Another aspect of a double alternation requires that candidates of at least two different political parties, government and opposition, are willing to accept defeat and abide by the ruling of the electoral commission. Secondly, they won’t do that unless you have an electoral commission that is highly competent, which is what you have in Ghana under Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, the commissioner of elections there,” Barkan said.

He said the people of a country also must regard the electoral process as legitimate in order for them to accept the results.

source.voanews

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India: Mumbai suspected terrorist arrested by Pakistani Security forces

Posted by African Press International on December 8, 2008

A number of people have been arrested after Pakistani forces raided a camp said to be used bya group India blames for the co-ordinated attacks on Mumbai, according to intelligence officials.

Witnesses said the raid was carried out on Sunday, close to the town of Muzaffarabad in the Pakistani-controlled territory of the divided Kashmir region.

It would be the first in response to the attacks, which Indian officials say were carried out by Lashkar-e-Taiba, an outlawed Pakistani group.

Some reports said that there had been a brief exchange of fire as the raid began.

Official sources confirmed that Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, a Lashkaroperations chief named by India as the mastermind of the Mumbai attacks, was arrested in Muzaffarabad.

There is confusion, though, about when and where the arrest took place.

Another 14 Lashkar members were detained on Sunday afternoon, thesources said.

Indian allegations

Indian officials say the sole Mumbai attacker captured alive has told them that Lakhvi recruited him for the mission and that Lakhvi anda Lashkar commander, Yusuf Muzammil, planned last month’s assault.

Islamabad has denied any of its state agencies were involved in the attacks in India’s financial hub, which left more than 170 people dead. But itsays it is prepared to co-operate with India if authorities prove the attackers came from Pakistan.

Talat Hussain, the director of news at the local Aaj television network, told Al Jazeera: “Clearly the Pakistan government is responding to the international demand that any group that is using either Pakistan soil or areas under its control and is involved in activities beyond the pail of international law needs to be dealt with sternly.”

The Associated Press news agencyreported unnamed Lashkarfightersas saying that the camp was abandoned by the group in 2004 and had since been used by Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Lashkar’s parent organisation, for education and charity work.

‘Tight-lipped’

“There are reports that security forces including military personnel went into the area,” Al Jazeera’s Kamal Hyder reported from Islamabad.

“But the government is tight-lipped about it … and so far there is nothing significant.

“There is speculation that these are preliminary investigations into what the activities of Jamaat-ud-Dawa in that particular region are all about.”

News of the arrests emerged hours after Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, urged Pakistan to act quickly and said there was evidence the country was used by “non-state actors” to mount the attacks.

“I do think that Pakistan has a responsibility to act,” Rice said in a television interview.

Lashkar-e-Taiba has also deniedany role in thedeadly rampage,but the only surviving suspected attacker namedone of the group’s leaders as being behind the Mumbai plot, according to Indian officials.

Crackdowncondemned

Jamaat-ud-Dawa is run by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, who founded Lashkar-e-Taiba in 1989.

He reportedly abandoned Lashkar when it was outlawed in Pakistan after India alleged it was behind a 2001 attack on the Indian parliament in New Delhi.

Saeed on Monday condemned the arrests, saying the Pakistan government had shown “weakness by targeting Kashmiri organisations.”

“India wants to crush the independence movement of Kashmir using the Mumbai attacks as a pretext,” he said in a statement.

Source: Aljazeera

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