African Press International (API)

"Daily Online News Channel".

Archive for December 15th, 2008

Obama intervenes personally on the Michelle tape and Imam document: An urgent meeting held in Oslo between API and Obama’s representatives only hours before the US Electoral College is scheduled to meet.

Posted by African Press International on December 15, 2008

The two months saga nears the end. API did not expect any contact meeting to be initiated by Mr Obama in an effort to tone down the tape and Imamdoc story that has been kept alive by API for the last 60 days.

In a secret meeting held in Radison SAS hotel in Oslo yesterday night between Mr Korir and Mr Gregory Burns, it became clear that the President elect did not wish the story be kept alive any longer, especially because there are now issues with the Governor of Illinois coming up that may place a new burden on Obama.

The President elect in the words of his emissary wants API to stop circulating the story about his Wife’s call to API.

The meeting was attended by Korir, his legal representative, Mr Burns and Mrs Bryant Madelene.

The two personalities told API that they were despatched to Oslo by Obama’s senior advisor. The two travelledback to Washington immediately after the meeting and inside their briefcase taking with them an agreement signed by both parties on how to bring the tape/Imamdoc to a close. On their way to Washington, they will make a stop-over in the UK and hold a short meeting with the Imam and his UK legal representative.

All this is happening hours before the Electoral College takes their seats to deliberate on the US Presidential elections that took place on the 4th of November.

The details of the agreement will not be made public, but API wishes to inform the readers that the parties have agreed to hold a final meeting in Washington in the next 7 days. The deal signed yesterday night was not conclusive, because API has set forward some demands that must be met if the tape and the Imamdoc is not to be made public. One of the demands is to hold a joint press conference with Obama’s senior advisor when announcing the details on the final agreement.

By API Editorial

Posted in AA > News and News analysis | Leave a Comment »

Perpetrating Culture of Impunity against Nigerians

Posted by African Press International on December 15, 2008

By Senator Iroegbu

Please! Please! Please!! Am innocent, I am from Nigeria; I mean we were en route to Europe via this boat. Please, I beg you dont kill us, one of the victims, who were among the 10 Nigerians, 55 Ghanaians and scores of other West African travelers pleaded in agonising pain. But it was as if the plea fell on deaf ear as the Gambian Security forces hacked them to death and till date no step has been taken by the Nigerian government and other concerned bodies to recover the dead bodies neither buried in a shallow grave in the Gambia nor called the government to order.
This is an amplified account of Amnesty International Report of chronic
Human Rights violations in the Gambia. There are no doubt that globally, countries that adopt participatory democracy as a system of choosing their government are highly placed in human rights records. This is because the beauty of any democratic government is based on its ability to respect the wishes of the people and willingness to uphold their freedom.
Unfortunately, most African countries that claim to be democracies are guilty of gross human rights violation with most of the government tramping on the peoples rights with great impunity. One of the countries that have awful records of human rights violation is the Republic of Gambia, a tiny West African country of about 1.5 million.
It is sad to note that Gambia, which lies on the West Coast of Africa, has a constitution which provides for a participatory democracy, the separation of powers and a National Assembly.
The chapter IV of its Constitution provides for the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms including: the right to life, privacy and personal liberty; protection from slavery and forced labour; protection from torture and inhuman treatment; protection from deprivation of property; protection of the law and a fair trial; freedom of speech, conscience, assembly, association and movement; and protection from discrimination.
Recently, Amnesty International in collaboration with other human rights groups x-rayed the extent of this violation by the Gambian Government and wondered why a country that have human rights enshrined in its constitution and have ratified most major international human rights treaties, should inflict pains and fears on its citizens through brazen rape of their rights for freedom of speech, association and fair hearing.
With a detailed report titled Gambia: Fear rules, which documents human rights violations by the army, the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the Police which the government has used to stifle dissent, particularly following the March 2006 coup attempt; the organisation was able to highlight the governments disrespect for the rule of law and the judiciary, making the fight against impunity an uphill task in Gambia.
A dramatic deterioration in the human rights violations including unlawful arrests, unlawful detentions, torture while in detention, enforced disappearance, extrajudicial executions and unfair trials followed series of alleged coup attempts which has characterised the regime of President Yahya Jammeh. The report noted that for 14 years Jammeh has been in power, there have been six foiled coup attempts in November 1994, January 1995, November 1996, July 1997, January, 2000 and the most recent one being in March, 2006.
Three days after that coup attempt, the President declared on national radio and television that any attempt to unconstitutionally overthrow the government would be crushed without mercy and that he would set an example that would put an end to the treachery and sabotage. Following this statement, about 63 people; civilians and military including six members of the Parliament from the Presidents party and at least four relatives of Ndure Cham, the former Chief of Defence Staff accused of masterminding the coup plot, including his wife, were arrested. Those thought to be opponents of the government including two lawyers and six journalists, some of whom were prisoners of conscience.
According to the report, the NIA, the army and police arrested people in their homes, at their work and in the streets and have been unlawfully detained and held in communicado or in solitary confinement for weeks at a time, despite the requirement under the Gambian law that required that they should be brought to court within 72 hours of their arrest.
In this brazen act of impunity, the authorities denied their victims access to a lawyer, with some of them allegedly to have been tortured and ill-treated while in detention and a number of them disappeared or reportedly killed. Meanwhile, Special Cases of Human Rights Violation define the culture of impunity over the respect of human rights by the Gambian government were well captured in the report.
One of those cases includes that of Chief Ebrima Manneh, who has been a victim of enforced disappearance since July, 2006. A reporter at the government owned Daily Observer, Manneh was arrested on July 11, 2006 by the NIA at the newspapers office, believed to be in connection with his trying to print a BBC article that was critical of the Gambian government.
After pressures from several quarters, government published a press release on February 21, 2007 denying any involvement in the arrest and subsequent disappearance, and claimed to have no knowledge of his where about. However, in July, 2007 he was seen in hospital in the custody of Gambian Police, apparently receiving treatment for high blood pressure, the report revealed.
In a similar case, Demba Dem, a former Member of Parliament who was arrested and tried for treason was denied access to lawyers, tortured in detention and was forced to sign a written statement. You cannot call these trials fair. I was there for over a year and half and because I was so badly beaten I left the cell often for treatment due to my poor health condition from torture. Through out my detention, I was electrocuted and constantly beaten. They always brought me to the NIA headquarters when they wanted to electrocute me, Dem testified.
Still in a similar scenario, Musa Saidykhan, the editor-in-chief of The Independent Newspaper was unlawfully arrested on March 27, 2006, detained and tortured. This is in addition to a journalist, Yahya Dampha who went into hiding after being unlawfully detained for several days and released under the monitoring of the government security outfits. Dampha has been granted asylum by the Swedish government in order to escape several kidnapping attempts by the government.
On the Killing of over 50 migrants: 44 Ghanaians and 10 Nigerians, the report has it that more than 50 foreigners, including 44 Ghanaians and about 10 Nigerians were intercepted by the Gambian Security forces in the waters off Gambia on July 23, 2005 while on their way to Europe. These men were brutally murdered afterwards on the pretence that they were coup plotters planning to overthrow the government of President Yahya Jammeh. The government alleged that they were suspected of being on their way to Gambia to overthrow the government during Gambias Independence Day celebrations.
According to a Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) report, the men were taken to Naval Headquarters in Banjul, divided into groups of eight and taken to a site in the farms of Siffoe in Gambias Western Division. When they were at the fields, members of security forces reportedly killed the detainees using machetes, axes, knives and other sharp objects. The bodies were then indiscriminately dumped at various locations, among them the village of Brufu, near Siffore, the report stated.
Unfortunately, efforts to initiate an investigation have been slow and mired in problems. Ms Nana Oye Lithur of CHRI said while efforts to bring the Ghanaian Government to respond yielded little result, while that of Nigerian government was a total silence. I am surprised by the attitude and total silence of the Nigerian Government.
We sent letters to the former President Olusegun Obasanjo Administration on two occasions but there was no acknowledgement. Initially, Ghanaian government did not want to respond, but eventually opened up after we made so much noise about it. They said that they sent investigators but have to stop when there was no cooperation from the Gambian government. .
It is amazing that 44 Ghanaians and other Africans were killed and nothing was done. Even the way they were killed was horrible. How can you hack young men down with cutlasses and bury them in a shallow grave. As we speak now, we dont know what has happened to these people. Right now about eight to nine bodies have been found but yet to be returned, Lithur said.
It was obvious that with no movement on the case by May 2006, and with no progress on the investigation, the CHRI called on the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) to investigate the killings. It was after then, in July 2007 that the Ghanaian Foreign Affairs Legal Bureau Director, Odoi Anim, identified eight Ghanaians bodies, preliminary investigations suggested they died from shock and trauma. With these revelations, ECOWAS and United Nations (UN) formed a team to investigate the killings in February, 2008, which they made a visit to Gambia in September, 2008.
Raising alarm over the danger of in action, Amnesty International in collaboration with other Human Rights bodies urged African leaders and the international community to put pressure on the Gambian authorities to stop using their security forces as a tool for repression. We urge the African Commission to address the human rights situation in Gambia as a priority and adopt a resolution that would help end torture, arrests and killings by the local security forces. We urge all African leaders to put pressure on Gambia to end the long-standing culture of impunity for human rights violations in the country, said Tania Bernath, Amnesty Internationals Gambia Research.
Angered by Nigerias unexplainable silence, Bernath urged well meaning Nigerians who value the lives of their citizens as well as that of other Africans to speak up for justice. Amnesty International knows good number of Senegalese and several Nigerians that were unlawfully detained in Mile 2, which is the maximum security of the Gambia (without charges). I am surprise that no authority or newspaper has reported anything about the Nigerian case, she said.
From this report, we found that people have no clue of what is happening in the Gambia, everything is shrouded in secrecy. The issue we have is that of culture of impunity, she added. Fear now reigns in Gambia where any person considered to be perceived enemy of the government is at risk of being arrested, tortured and even killed. We urge the Gambian government to incorporate international human rights law and standards into national law, to stop the use of torture and extrajudicial executions and to release all those detained without charge, she pleaded.
Echoing this call for action, the Executive Director, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, Adetokunbo Mumuni said, The international community and African Union members must not turn a blind eye to the situation in Gambia. They must bring pressure to bear on the Gambian authorities to ensure the government takes its international human rights obligations seriously.
Also, Stella Amadi of the Centre for Democracy and Development added: If the African Commission adopted a resolution on Gambia it would be important step to ensure greater respect for human rights in Gambia, and a reminder to the government to act in good faith to end the entrenched culture of impunity in the country, which is fuelling further human rights violations.

source.,thisdayOnline.nigeria.14.12.08

Posted in AA > News and News analysis | Leave a Comment »

Speak Africa initiative brings together youth activists to fight for the rights of African youth

Posted by African Press International on December 15, 2008

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, 12 December 2008 On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Speak Africa youth activists from 13 African countries joined the African Union in the call for urgent action to protect the rights of young people.

The youth activists are meeting in Johannesburg, under the umbrella of the Speak Africa communication initiative, to review achievements made on the youth agenda during 2008, which the African Union had declared as the Year of African Youth.

The African Union Commissioner for Social Affairs, Advocate Bience Gawanas, addressed the activists.

It is critical that as young people you constantly engage with the African Union. I know that we have got the Youth Charter, we have got the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, we have many policy instruments . . . . The challenge is how do we translate those letters on paper into the reality of our lives everyday, she said.

Youth are being neglected

Despite representing more than half of Africas population, young people have few opportunities for employment, and have little hope of fulfilling their dreams and aspirations.

We feel that the youth are being neglected, said Amanda Mpoyi, a youth activist from the Democratic Republic of Congo who now lives in South Africa. However when there is a war, they become useful when they are needed to carry guns, when women are needed by soldiers to rape.

Putting education into action

Speak Africa provides the activists training on advocacy skills and on the utilization of media and technology to express themselves. The goal is to empower young people so that they can make their voices heard, and make a difference.

To mark the 60th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, the youth activists were able to put their training into action. Through a series of interviews with South Africas national broadcaster and a press conference featuring UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and singer Yvone Chaka Chaka and UNICEF Advocate for Youth and South African television and radio personality Kabelo KB Ngakane, they were able to raise awareness about the issues confronting young Africans.

In the footsteps of heroes

The activists also visited Johannesburgs Constitutional Hill, which until the mid-1980s housed one of South Africas most notorious prisons. The prison complex is now a museum that houses South Africas Constitutional Court, where human rights are enshrined.

After walking in the footsteps of their human rights heroes, and witnessing the cells that once housed them, these young activists emerged more determined than ever to make their voices heard.

I am a firm believer in children and young people as actors for change, said Stella Agara of the Kenyan Africa Youth Trust. They have the ability to pick out the lessons that they have gotten from these cells and the struggles that these people went through, and translate them into better actions to achieve better results.

source.unicef

Posted in AA > News and News analysis | Leave a Comment »

Dwarf crocodiles split into three species

Posted by African Press International on December 15, 2008

You’d think that if scientists were to discover a new species, it would be in some remote, uncharted tropical forest, not a laboratory in New York. But a team from the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics at the American Museum of Natural History has done the unexpected. Looking at the genes of the African dwarf crocodile, researchers found that the groupgenetically speakingcomprises three distinct species rather than one. This not only ends a long debate about the taxonomy of this group, previously thought to consist of two closely related subspecies, but also defines a new, distinct species from genetic samples, according to a press release issued by EurekAlert.

“In the past, the two morphologically distinct crocodile populations were believed to be different genera, then later different species, and then finally different subspecies,” explains first-author Mitchell Eaton. Eaton conducted the research at the Sackler Institute and is finishing his doctoral degree at the University of Colorado. “We collected samples in Africa to explore this taxonomic question, and we found a great deal of evolutionary divergence between populations in the Congo Basin and on the west coast of Central Africa. We alsoquite unexpectedlyfound a completely new species from far West Africa; there may be even more species that we haven’t sampled yet!”

African dwarf crocodiles, genus Osteolaemus, live in the tropical forests of Central and West Africa. Adults typically grow to no more than 5 feet in length and are the smallest living members of the crocodilian family. The three groups identified in this current research include a species from the Congo Basin (O. osborni), another from Central Africa’s Ogoou Basin (O. tetraspis), and the new, yet unnamed species from West Africa. All of these crocodiles look very similar, and all are widely hunted by local people as a source of food. In fact, these animals provide up to a quarter of the non-fish bush meat consumed in some areas of Central Africa, but over-hunting to supply commercial ‘bushmeat’ markets may threaten many populations with extinction. Dwarf crocodiles are listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List.

In the laboratory, the researchers sequenced more than 4,000 base pairs of both mitochondrial and nuclear DNA from as many as 82 individuals sampled across Central and West Africa. The results confirmed species-level separations between three different groups of dwarf crocodiles. Crocodiles from the Congo Basin appear to be the oldest of the three species, with some morphological characteristics placing them closer to a shared ancestor of the Nile crocodile. The dwarf crocodiles of the Ogoou and West Africa, on the other hand, are more recently evolved and are more closely related to each other than either is to the Congo Basin species.

“These species have been on their own evolutionary trajectory for a long time,” says George Amato, Director of the Sackler Institute. “They are diagnostically distinctevery individual in one species has characteristics that are not found in the other species, and the number of diagnostic characteristics is large.”

The new taxonomic discovery has implications for the conservation strategy of African dwarf crocodiles. “Without these genetic results, the level of biodiversity was cryptic, hidden,” Amato continues. “Accurate taxonomy is necessary for conservation management of each species, and now we can calculate subsistence hunting levels that are manageable.”

———–

source.hindunews

Posted in AA > News and News analysis | Leave a Comment »

News in brief: around the world

Posted by African Press International on December 15, 2008

Bush still wants help for Somalia

UNITED NATIONS The Bush administration will mount a last-ditch push this week to win international backing for a small U.N. peacekeeping mission in Somalia in an effort to help prevent the resurgence of Islamic militants in the lawless East African nation, according to State Department officials. The Washington Post

8th straight day of riots in Greece

GREECE Rioting youths in Athens attacked a police station, stores and banks and fought with police late Saturday, authorities said, as violent protests against a police killing continued for the eighth straight day. The Associated Press

Raul Castros first trip abroad

VENEZUELA Beginning his first international trip as Cubas president, Raul Castro arrived in Venezuela on Saturday, a symbolic choice of destination aimed at strengthening ties with Cubas socialist ally and main benefactor.

Source.ap

Posted in AA > News and News analysis | Leave a Comment »

THROW THIS BILL AWAY HON PRESIDENT KIBAKI

Posted by African Press International on December 15, 2008

MR. PRESIDENT, if there is one thing which will not be indelible in your legacy, it is the expansion of basic freedoms. Undoubtedly you have made our country one of the very few African countries where basic freedoms are respected. Your leadership despite the many challenges that bedevil our country has proven that in Africa some informed governance can exists. Mr. President despite the many ills that continue to cripple Kenya you still inspire many that there is still hope.

The problem with Kenya today is that in as much as we blame the constitution, history and so on ,is that we rely on the benevolence of the individual to guarantee enjoyment of freedom and good governance. The constitution which president Kibaki governs Kenya is the same one he was bequeathed by the past regime. Yet the past regimes are maligned for the many ills that were created and led the country to. In essence what just changed is the people in charge.

The same constitution is the same which the first government largely used to oppress the citizenry and led to wanton destruction of the country through un-brindled corruption and savagery tribalism!Forty five years after independence the country is still reeling under the aftermath of not so informed or the right strategic leadership which prevailed soon after independence. However, since 2003 there has been some significant change even though with tremendous challenges and structural weaknesses.

So many arguments have been advanced for parliamentary democracy. The theme goes that a powerful presidency has been evil which can be only checked by the parliamentary democracy. Today I want to say this is one of the great fallacies existing in Kenya. Parliament can actually be worse. Informed leadership can be a thousand times better the so called parliamentary democracy .Our parliamentarians have just shown how parliamentary democracy can also be bad. Indeed neither of the two institutions can serve the country without the necessary structural checks.

Sample this. Kenyan MP’s have notoriously inflated their salaries and allowances to some astronomical levels using all manner of excuses when the economy is still weak yet the teachers and civil servants had to live with ‘waiting until the economy improves’. The same MP’s have been wasteful and reportedly fraudulent on the management of various funds including the famous constituency development fund. The same MP’s have refused to taxation measures claiming they take care of all manner of constituency financial needs forgetting that we know the government has created various constituency funds in millions of shillings annually to take care of the same. It is even romoured that former Finance minister Hon Kimunya ‘roasting’ in parliament had an import from the taxation measures included in 2008/2009 budget where among others MP’s and constitutional holders salaries and other emoluments were to be taxed.

The question which begs answers is how does a country survive in the long term if the rich and powerful don’t contribute to the national kit while the rest of the populace and more so the very poor continue to bear the burden of maintaining them. Secondly, we all along thought that leadership is but shaping the direction and service to the people. Thirdly, is it any wonder that critical important developments in the country such as the constitutional reforms are always moving in circus?

The Kenya Communications (amendment ) Bill 2008, is driven by revenge and malice. Few facts suffice beyond the immediate passage of this bill in parliament. First,his bill is setting our dear country back to the old Kenyan society of intimidation and threats by a few powerful individuals. Secondly, this is the Bill set to completely wipe out your legacy Mr. President. Thirdly like some of the dark leadership in former communist states of Eastern Europe like Romania and the mighty Chinese state this bill will end up creating a society of controlled communication, controlled innovation, controlled thinking and controlled minds through censorship and destructive intrusion into people’s lives. Is this what this country needs at this stage. The answer is no!

Surprisingly the same MP’s who are champions of devolutions and parliamentary democracy, at the convenience of crowd cover went on to legislate against freedom and information based on truth. The media is not made of angels. There are bad elements all over. This is even the opportune moment for the media society to strengthen their supervisory roles and enhancement of professionalism. However the media needs to be free and even freer. A developed society or one aspiring to be so can easily be detected by the strength of the media. It is an unfailing watchman who control the excesses of others and the trampling of the rights of the weak.

Our society should not be driven to be controlled by psychopath mentality. We are a maturing society which at the gear it has grown in the last six years can only set itself to a great future. The legacy under your presidency despite the other many odds some beyond your control will be in posterity rich treasures.

Mr. President throw the Kenya Communications (amendment) Bill 2008 away. Kenya does not need it. Your legacy speaks for you well, despite the many challenges the country faces.

api-correspondent-harrison-mwirig-ikundaBy Harrison Mwirigi Ikunda,

P.O. Box 51806 – 00200,

NAIROBI.

KENYA.

Posted in AA > News and News analysis | Leave a Comment »

Sugar millers put on sale as Comesa deadline looms

Posted by African Press International on December 15, 2008

December 15, 2008: The curtain is finally set to fall on State-ownership of sugar firms in the New Year.

The Cabinets passing of a new legal framework for private sector participation in the provision of public services has paved the way for a new wave of privatisation that may see the Government exit from more than 10 companies it currently fully owns or co-owns with private operators, beginning with sugar mills.

Though the list of companies earmarked for privatisation spans a number of sectors, the Privatisation Commission said the sugar sector will get top priority to enable the country honour an agreement it signed with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) in December last year.

We will first handle the sugar firms because of the need to honour a commitment we made to Comesa, the commissions acting chief executive, Mr Solomon Kitungu, said.

The Government was to end its ownership of sugar firms within 24 months as part of a deal it signed with Comesa last December as it sought an extension of special safeguards on duty free sugar imports.

But a Kenya Sugar Board-driven process that identified two foreign investors for the planned sale of Muhoroni and Miwani sugar companies stalled after Treasury took over the process at the end of last year.

Kenya has lost half the time it had to clear Government ownership of sugar firms and must now sell the factories by end of next year to avoid falling out with Comesa partners and spark a trade war.

A Press statement released from State House after the Cabinet meeting last Thursday, said the new policy framework had opened the door for 16 State firms to work with the private sector in the delivery of public goods and services.

The mix of co-operation will range from sale of State-owned firms, offer of management contracts, leases, concessions or the signing of build-own-operate and transfer agreements with the government.

Exit plan

State corporations earmarked for the programme include Chemelil, Sony, Nzoia, Miwani and Muhoroni sugar companies, power producer KenGen, Kenya Pipeline Company, Kenya Ports Authority and Kenya Tourism Development Authority.

The deal may also see the Government further reduce its stake or exit the National Bank of Kenya, Consolidated Bank, Development Bank of Kenya, Kenya Wine Agencies Limited, East African Portland Cement Company, Kenya Meat Commission and New Kenya Co-operative Creameries.

Image

Sugarcane being transported to the factory

People familiar with the matter said KenGen and Kenya Pipeline are mainly expected to tap private expertise and sector financing while at Kenya Ports Authority, concessioning will be the main window for private sector participation.

Private sector involvement in the remaining 11 companies is expected to take the form of full or partial buy-outs or sale of shares to the public through the Nairobi Stock Exchange.

Mr Kitungu said the commission will immediately embark on drawing an exit plan for the sugar sector for Cabinet ratification and subsequent implementation.

Recruitment of consultants to help draw the sugar sector privatisation roadmap is expected to begin this week.

Calls for expression of interest in consultancy and advisory services ,especially in the sugar industry, are expected as soon as next week (this week), an official with the commission said. So far, Mumias Sugar Company remains the only success story of State divestiture in the sugar sector.

Entry of the commission into the scene is expected to ensure progress after two years of botched attempts.

Last month, the Government reneged on a sugar sector privatisation deal it signed with two foreign investors last year, setting the stage for a legal battle that may cost the taxpayer millions of shillings.

It nullified the sale of Miwani and Muhoroni sugar companies to two international bidders at a cost of Sh5.3 billion on grounds that the process was flawed.

The process had closed late last year with Sudans Kenana Sugar Company as the winner of the Miwani Sugar Company tender while the race for Muhoroni was won by a consortium led by India Sugar and General Engineering Corporation (ISGEC).

The fast-tracking of the sale by the commission is also expected to turn the heat on Treasury to clear a huge debt portfolio currently held by sugar companies that is estimated at about Sh50 billion.

Though Mr Kitungu declined to discuss the strategies likely to be taken up for the millers, expectation is that the partnerships with strategic investors would be the most preferred option. Such a move is seen to offer the fastest means for infrastructure and machinery upgrade in the factories.

A similar strategy would be applicable for meat processor, KMC, whose recovery is being hampered by serious liquidity problems with the Government proposing to set up a Sh400 million fund to help keep the firm afloat.

Archaic legislation

Business Daily has established that the firms cash-flow status is so grim that it is finding it hard to compete against well-heeled rivals in buying goats, sheep and cattle for slaughter.

Insiders say that since its re-opening in June 2006 by President Kibaki, after a 15-year stint in bankruptcy, the firm has had to endure a desperate struggle to survive raising questions on the viability of a decision by the State to revive the project at a cost of Sh500 million.

Liquidity depends on the structures in place for procurement. KMC needs to have in place a special fund for purchase of stock so that they are always guaranteed of supplies, Livestock Development permanent secretary, Mr Jacob ole Miaron, told Business Daily in a recent interview.

ImageIt is also too heavily weighed down by onerous Government procedure and an archaic legislation, the Kenya Meat Act a position that would make investors to bank on strategic partnerships with the State for ease in lobbying for policy change.

According to the law, KMC is only mandated to shop for supplies within certain weight and age specifications, while payment is pegged to Government procurement procedure where it takes up to four days to pay suppliers.

For instance, according to the Act, animals earmarked for the export market by KMC must be of specific age and have a live weight of between 18 and 26 kg.

For the case of Kenya Pipeline Company, Kwal, Kenya Tourism Development Authority and New KCC, indications are that the State would be going for an initial public offer (IPO) while it would accord investors a secondary offer in the case of KenGen and East African Portland Cement.

The electricity generating company and the cement-maker are financially stable and can attract investment through the bourse.

However, in the case of KenGen a sale of a stake to an advanced industry partner along the Safaricom model is being considered more strategic in view of the vast investments needed for new and alternative power projects as the economy struggles with expensive emergency power units borne of over-reliance on drought-prone hydro sources.

For KPA a strategic partnership would be a likely option while the National Bank of Kenya and Development Bank of Kenya are also expected to walk the same path upon restructuring.

Under Development Bank, the privatisation deal is expected to lead to a reduction of the Governments stake through the sale of a portion of shares held by Industrial Commercial Development Corporation (ICDC), the governments investment arm. Under the deal, ICDC is expected cede a 59.3 per cent stake, giving the new owners a majority stake.

———-
source.businessdaillyke

Posted in AA > News and News analysis | Leave a Comment »

CLEARINGHOUSE: NEWS FROM OTHER ABDUCTED SHIPS

Posted by African Press International on December 15, 2008

Efforts for a peaceful release continued, but the now over two months long stand-off concerning Ukrainian MV FAINA is not yet solved finally, though intensive negotiations have continued.

ukrainian government officials, who had participated at the conference against piracy in Nairobi, have tried to speed up the release-process for the vessel.

ECOTERRA Intl. renewed it’s call to solve the FAINA and the SIRIUS STAR cases with first priority and peaceful in order to avert a human and environmental disasters at the Somali coast. Anybody encouraging hot-headed and concerning such difficult situations inexperienced and untrained gunmen to try an attempt of a military solution must be held responsible for the surely resulting disaster.

CLEARINGHOUSE: NEWS FROM OTHER ABDUCTED SHIPS

Somali pirates have released a Greek chemical tanker operated by LOBAN SHIPPING CORP of Panama, said to be Turkish-owned, but three of its crew may have died in unknown circumstances, a Kenyan maritime official confirmed Saturday. “The MT Action was released Friday,” Andrew Mwangura, the head of the Kenyan arm of the East African Seafarers’ Assistance Programme, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.” The Panama-flagged vessel with 20 crew members was seized on October 10 in the Gulf of Aden.

“She is currently limping to safe waters and it is feared that three crew members lost their lives under questionable circumstances,” he stated. The Panama-flagged MT Action, which had 20 crew onboard, was seized on 10th October. Mwangura did not specify how the three crew members might have died. In Athens, the maritime ministry said the crew consisted of 17 Georgian and three Pakistani seafarers but did not elaborate on the seamen’s fate.

The family of a sailor from Orissa, held hostage by Somalian pirates since Nov 28, has appealed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to ensure his release. Himanshu Kar of Balasore town is one of 30 crewmen held hostage by Somali pirates who boarded and took over their Liberian-flagged cargo ship that was bound for Europe from Indonesia. Kar, 29, joined the vessel, owned by Singapore-based Ishima Pvt Ltd, his father Rabi Charan Kar said.

“Officials from the company’s Mumbai office told us the hostages are safe. My wife and I are getting worried,” Kar said. “We were able to talk to Himanshu only once since the ship was hijacked. That was on Dec 2”, he said. Kar’s parents have written letters to Manmohan Singh seeking his intervention. Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik Friday wrote to External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, requesting him to take urgent efforts to ensure the safe and early release of the hostages.

With the latest captures and releases still at least 16 foreign vessels with a total of at least 330 crew members (of which 91 are Filipinos) are held and are monitored on our actual case-list, while several other cases of ships, which are observed off the coast of Somalia, have been reported or reportedly disappeared without trace or information, are still being followed. Over 123 incidences (including attempted attacks, averted attacks and successful sea-jackings) have been recorded to far for 2008 with until today 53 factual sea-jacking cases (incl. the presently held 16).

Several other vessels with unclear fate (not in the actual count), who were reported missing over the last ten years in this area, are still kept on our watch-list, though in some cases it is presumed that they sunk due to bad weather or being unfit to sail. In the last four years, 22 missing ships have been traced back with different names, flags and superstructures.

OTHER RELATED NEWS

The Indian Navy reported that, whilst escorting merchant vessels in the Gulf of Aden, the Indian naval vessel INS MYSORE received a distress call on MMB Channel 16 from MV GIBE (Ethiopian Flag) at about 08.30 hours (local time) on 13 Dec 08. MV GIBE reported that she was under attack by two boats closing in on her and firing small arms. INS MYSORE is currently in the Gulf of Aden for Anti-Piracy Patrol Operations which are being conducted under the control of the Western Naval Command, headquartered at Mumbai. MV GIBE opened retaliatory fire with small arms that were held onboard the merchant vessel. The position reported by the cargo vessel was 13 nautical miles from INS MYSORE at that time.

The Indian naval ship altered course to come closer to MV GIBE and also launched her integral Chetak helicopter. On sighting the helicopter and INS MYSORE, the attacking boats disengaged from MV GIBE and attempted to escape. INS MYSORE cornered two nearby vessels and ordered them to stop. The larger boat was a dhow of green colour and 8-10m in length. It had taken the second smaller boat (a skiff) under tow. Subsequently, the name of the dhow was identified as ‘Salahaddin’, Hull No 758(2). The dhow was boarded at about 10.30 hours (local time) by the ship’s Marine Commandos and a search carried out. 24 personnel (12 Somali and 12 Yemeni) surrendered on boarding. The Indian navy arrested the alleged pirates.

The search of the dhow revealed a substantial cache of arms and equipment, including seven AK-47 assault rifles and three machine guns, along with thirteen loaded magazines; a rocket-propelled grenade-launcher along with rockets, cartridges and grenades; as many as three Outboard Motors, a GPS Receiver and other equipment suitable for pirate attacks.

The personnel, arms, ammunition and equipment have been taken into custody by INS MYSORE and will be handed over to appropriate authorities ashore and the ship will return to her patrol-duties, a Indian Navy spokesman affirmed. Last month, India’s navy drew criticism after sinking a Thai fishing trawler that had been commandeered hours earlier by pirates, but seems to have learned from that clear mistake. The alleged pirates – 12 Somalis and 12 Yemenis – are now being held on board the Indian Navy destroyer while the legalities about their disembarkation and prosecution are worked out, the navy spokesman said.

Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad, the chairman of the Djibouti-based opposition Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS), and his delegation went briefly to Mogadishu on 10th December. He said then the important point of his mission to Mogadishu was the implementation of Djibouti agreement, as well as to establish how the Ethiopian troops will withdraw. Sheikh Sharif was received by a large group of elders and some members of the TFG government including Somali police commissioner, Abdi Hasan Awale Qaybdid and Salad Ali Jele, who is the deputy minister of defence. Sheikh Sharif said that Ethiopian troops have already started pulling out from the country. His delegation included the security committee of the ARS that signed the Djibouti agreement and meetings with elders were held, where he explained the plans.

Especially concerning the Ethiopian withdrawal he appealed to them: “To achieve victory requires more patience.” During a press conference Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad said President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmad has no power to block the Djibouti agreement between the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and the Djibouti based Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia [ARS] reached in Djibouti.

The Djibouti based opposition leader said he will be holding talks with insurgent groups in Somalia, traditional elders, civil society groups, women and the youth about ways of restoring peace in Somalia. He said the agreement will not collapse because of Abdullahi Yusuf and that the ARS had made contact with officials of the Puntland administration and are currently accompanying them.

“The Djibouti Agreement is a peace deal among all Somalis,” Sheikh Sharif added. On the insurgency, the ARS opposition leader urged Islamist rebels to “open the roads” so Ethiopian troops can withdraw peacefully. He further urged Islamist guerrilla groups, many of which vowed to continue the insurgency, to stop attacking Ethiopian army bases “to avoid delays in Ethiopian army withdrawal.” “If Abdullahi Yusuf wanted to send a representative from his [own] clan, we did not oppose this. But he [Yusuf] sent Ahmed Abdisalam,” Sheikh Sharif said, referring to Somalia’s information minister who inked the Djibouti Agreement on behalf of the Somali government last month in Djibouti.

Mr. Abdisalam is closely associated with Prime Minister Nur “Adde” Hassan Hussein, who is currently locked in a deepening political dispute with President Yusuf. He called upon those involved in such acts to stop and work towards the interests of the Somali people. He further urged Islamist guerrilla groups, many of which vowed to continue the insurgency, to stop attacking Ethiopian army bases “to avoid delays in Ethiopian army withdrawal.” On the insurgency, the ARS opposition leader urged Islamist rebels to “open the roads” so Ethiopian troops can withdraw peacefully.

Shortly after this Al-Shabaab fighters gave way to Ethiopian troops in Abudwaq, a central Somali district, following their entry into the region. Ethiopian soldiers, on board military vehicles, entered the Abudwaq district in Galgadud region .There have been no reports of violence, but the Ethiopian forces’ entry into the town caused many of the locals to flee the area.

Tensions remain high between TFG President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed and Prime Minister Nur Adde Hassan Hussein and neither of them attended the conference. The septuagenarian Abdullahi Yusuf was a warlord in the region before and will likely retreat back to it once he is driven from Mogadishu, while Puntland already has enough difficulties with legislative elections due at the end of the month and a presidential poll scheduled for January in which about a dozen candidates are competing against the incumbent, Adde Muse.

The injection of a frustrated Abdullahi Yusuf into this highly-charged and ever-shifting political climate one of the regions more creditable politicians, Minister for International Cooperation Ali Abdi Awaare, unexpectedly resigned Sunday will hardly serve to calm the waters. Abdullahi Yussuf’s militia was in charge for bringing in the first larger fine when it seized a Taiwanese fishing trawler, the MV Shen Kno II, in 1997, and demanded $800,000 for the boat, $40,000 for its captain, and $10,000 for each member of the crew.

The Asmara-based Somali Islamist group on Thursday said they have appointed Umar Iman Abubakar as their new leader. The group defence secretary, Shiekh Yusuf Mohamed Siyad (nicknamed Indha Adde) told reporters in Mogadishu that his fighters will henceforth take orders from their new leader. In a press conference held in Mogadishu, the Asmara-based opposition group has proclaimed Dr Umar Iman Abubakar as their leader. Sheikh Hasan Mahdi, who was one of the officials who spoke during the press conference, has called for unity of the insurgent groups and leaders to strive to solve the differences between them.

Mahdi denounced the Djibouti peace pacts, which he said was a conspiracy designed to undermine the interest of the Somali people. The decision to publicly declare a leader for Asmara-based ARS comes after the chairman of the Djibouti-based ARS, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad arrived in Mogadishu.

Sheikh Bashir Ahmad Salad who is the chairman of the committee of religious leaders resolving the conflict between armed opposition groups fighting in the country said they view the move by some traditional elders in establishing their own administration as a valid one. He also said he is saddened that some armed opposition groups are taking control of regions which already have established administrations and urged those responsible to stop doing so.

The religious leaders mediating in the conflict between armed opposition groups also welcomed the decisions by the religious leaders who met in Saudi Arabia and expressed their support for their efforts in reconciling various groups involved in the fighting in Somalia. Violence continues in Mogadishu, as pro and anti-Islamic radical clans fight for control of the city. At least one large group of pro-Islamic radical (Shebab) gunmen is wandering around central Somalia, raiding towns controlled by anti-Islamic radical clans. Uganda and Burundi want to withdraw their peacekeeping troops from Mogadishu as soon as possible.

The UN has been unable to obtain additional peacekeepers to replace the 2,000 Ethiopians that will withdraw by next month, and the 3,400 Ugandan and Burundi troops do not want to be left in the chaotic city all by themselves. Meanwhile, the Transitional National Government (TNG) has largely fallen apart. After several years of effort, and international support (especially from southern neighbour Kenya) the TNG has lost most (at least 80 percent) of the 15,000 soldiers and police that foreign aid paid to equip and train. The men have gone back to their clans and warlords, taking their uniforms and weapons with them.

According to Iran TV, however, the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, said earlier in the day that “they (the AU forces) have already informed us that they would want to withdraw before we do,” raising fears of increased instability in the country. Uganda, though, has denied the premier’s remarks saying the forces intended to increase their presence in Somalia following the Ethiopian pullout.

African Union chief Jean Ping said Friday he wants AU peacekeepers to remain in Somalia, adding that a withdrawal from the chaotic country was “something we cannot accept.” “We are really very preoccupied, but we hope that something will be done to avoid that” the 3,400 Burundian and Ugandan peacekeepers will leave the country, Ping told a news conference. “They (Uganda and Burundi) envisaged it, but I sincerely hope it will not happen.”

Violence continues in Mogadishu, as pro and anti-Islamic radical clans fight for control of the city. At least one large group of pro-Islamic radical (Shebab) gunmen is wandering around central Somalia, raiding towns controlled by anti-Islamic radical clans. Uganda and Burundi want to withdraw their peacekeeping troops from Mogadishu as soon as possible.

The UN has been unable to obtain additional peacekeepers to replace the 2,000 Ethiopians that will withdraw by next month, and the 3,400 Ugandan and Burundi troops do not want to be left in the chaotic city all by themselves. More than 15 people were killed in the fighting which broke out in the neighbourhood of Wardhigley, Mogadishu, between Transitional Federal Government of Somalia [TFG] forces and those of the Union of Islamic Courts [UIC].

More than 60 people were injured in the fighting among them many children. The fighting started on Thursday, a day after Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, leader of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), a major opposition group, made his second visit to Somalia in two years. Recently he had briefly flown to Jowhar.

Ahmed’s first return to Mogadishu follows a peace deal between the government and the UIC, which should see Ethiopian forces pull out later this month. Under the agreement, the Somali parliament would be doubled to 550 seats, with 200 going to Ahmed’s group and 75 to the members of civil society. However, the Al-Shabab group that controls much of southern Somalia has not signed up to the deal. Ahmed, along with other top leaders, left Somalia in late 2006 after the UIC, which had ruled much of southern and central Somalia, was routed by allied Somali government and Ethiopian forces. Somalia’s new parliament is scheduled to elect leadership for the Horn of Africa nation early next year.

While there are reports that the Ethiopian National Defence Force, one of Africas largest and most seasoned conventional armies, were establishing new bases in central Somalia, those positions near the border town of Balanbal appear more to represent a strengthening of Addis Ababas ability to intervene as needed in the future than a reneging of the commitment to substantially pull out by the end of the year.

Since last Sunday, al-Shabaab fighters continued their sweep across central Somalia, encountering no resistance as they took control of the provincial capital of the Galgadud region, Dhusamareb. On Tuesday, another group of al-Shabaab fighters entered the town of Balad Hawo, near the border with Kenya, chasing off TFG parliamentarian and ex-defense minister Colonel Barre Hirale who had been trying to raise forces there (this Barre Hirale is the same hapless warlord who lost the port of Kismayo, the third-largest city in Somalia, to the Islamists in August).

The Ethiopians, with good reason, expect trouble from the steady advance of Islamist insurgents spearheaded by al-Shabaab (the Youth), a radical group which was formally listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organization earlier this year by the U.S. State Department, arguing that it is a violent and brutal extremist group with a number of individuals affiliated with al-Qaeda.

Three weeks ago, the U.S. Treasury Department slapped travel and financial sanctions on three leaders of the group: the groups founder, Ahmad Abdi Godane, a.k.a. Abu Zubeyr, an alumnus of al Qaedas Afghan training camps who is wanted for his role in the murders of Western aid workers in the Republic of Somaliland; Issa Osman Issa, a.k.a. Abdala Sudani, a military commander who, before al-Shabaabs creation, was involved in the 2002 bombing of the Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel in Mombasa, Kenya, and the simultaneous attempt to shoot down a Boeing 757 operated by Israels Arkia Airlines; and Mukhtar Robow, a.k.a. Abu Mansur, who is a military commander and perhaps the most prominent spokesman for the group. Last Saturday, in the key port city of Marka, Mukhtar Robow presided over the installation of one Sheikh Abdirahman Siro Ahmed at the head of a new administration for the Lower Shabelle region which lies just to the south of Mogadishu.

In July, the latter managed to oust the formers close ally, Mohamed Dheere, from his position as mayor of the sometime capital, replacing him with a pliable militia leader, Mohamed Osman, a.k.a. Dhagatur.

Referring to Id ul-Adha, the pilgrimage festival of sacrifice whose celebration throughout the Islamic world began last Monday, al-Shabaab militants in Kismayo destroyed graves in the towns cemeteries, accusing grieving relatives of the deceased of the un-Islamic practice of praying there and thus violating the strict monotheism enjoined by the Islamists Wahhabi-inspired (and financed) credo. Previously, the radicals had contented themselves with just targeting the graves of Sufi saints whose mystical faith and devotees prayers they found offensive.

Gulf states, their GCC government ministers and national security advisers today will begin a three-day forum to discuss threats to stability in the Gulf, at which the US defence secretary is expected to outline the incoming administrations Middle East policy.

The Manama Dialogue, a conference convened by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), the London-based research group, is to start with a series of private meetings between delegations from more than 20 countries. Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, will deliver his first major speech since it was announced that he would stay on in his position under Barack Obama and it is expected that he will elaborate on the US defence strategy for the coming years. Delegates will also discuss piracy in Somalia as concern is rising at the lack of a unified international response to the threat.

source.the mindanaoexaminer

Posted in AA > News and News analysis | Leave a Comment »

 
%d bloggers like this: