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Archive for June 11th, 2009

On behalf of AMERICANS – the speech Obama SHOULD HAVE given in CAIRO

Posted by African Press International on June 11, 2009

I am honored to be in the timeless city of Cairo, and grateful for your
hospitality. I will honor you in return by addressing you directly. I came here to speak to you, not to European leaders or American media commentators. I hope you will forgive my frankness, but we have much to talk about, and some of what I came here to say will not be easy for you to hear.

I will not waste your time by carefully selecting quotes from the Koran, in a
misguided attempt to tell you what your religion means. I am here to tell you
what membership in the community of civilized nations means. Your faith is your own affair, but it ends where the rest of our lives begin. It is fashionable among the Western elites to say that we have much to learn about the Muslim world, but the truth is precisely the reverse. One of the bedrock principles of Western democracy is that we don’t need to understand, or even like, a particular religion in order to respect its faithful and their rights. There are some things the West is long overdue in teaching its Muslim neighbors, however. Let us begin with dismissing the notion of a “Muslim world.” There is no such thing. There is one world, made increasingly intimate by the easy movement of people, resources, and ideas. We are all in the process of learning how to live with our fellow men, and while the West is far from perfect, we are much further ahead in our studies than the nations of the Middle East. Our security, and yours, will be greatly enhanced if we can lend you some of the wisdom we have accumulated.

We did not come by this wisdom easily. We learned by taking incredible risks… and making terrible mistakes… magnified by the power of Western military tradition and technology. The people of the Middle East have never known anything to compare with the industrialized slaughter of the two World Wars, in which millions of lives were lost to decisively settle the question of what makes a government just and legitimate. You have never watched five thousand of your sons die on a single day, to secure a beachhead against the forces of genocidal fascism – a battle we commemorate on the sixth of June every year. Your fighting men have not faced anything like the battle for Okinawa, where American Marines faced an eighty percent chance of death – and did not waver. You have not sacrificed half a million soldiers to destroy the evil of slavery, as America did during its Civil War. You have not spent blood and treasure around the world to save other nations from the savage darkness of communism. You have no leaders to equal the Founding Fathers who pledged their lives, and sacred honor, to win America’s independence from imperial domination.

You have not burned and bled for freedom, as we have. We would spare you that pain, if we could. We are willing to burn and bleed for you – and we have been doing so, for eight long years. Instead of indulging in foolish paranoid fantasies about crusaders and oppression from America, open your eyes and look to the mountains of Afghanistan, where over a thousand Coalition troops have died to overthrow the Taliban, after their despicable complicity in the murders of September 11, 2001. We did not have to send those troops into harm’s way, to avenge the slaughter at the World Trade Center. We could have eliminated all life in that region, in a matter of hours. If we followed the standards of our enemies, we would have. We sent our best and bravest into battle because of who we wished to spare, not who we wanted to kill.

Open your eyes and look to Iraq, where we allowed thousands of Iraqi troops to lay down their arms and go home, instead of killing them where they stood. We paid an awful price for this act of mercy, as many of those men went on to join the brutal terrorists who dreamed of keeping the Iraqi people enslaved. Some in America and Europe find it politically expedient to draw moral equivalency between American soldiers and the terrorists they fight. I ask you to show me the al-Qaeda “equivalent” of Private First Class Ross McGinnis, who climbed down into an armored vehicle and smothered a grenade to protect his crew, when he could easily have leaped from his gunnery hatch to safety. Show me an “insurgent” who can match the valor of Sergeant First Class Paul Ray Smith, who flung himself into an impossible battle against odds of a hundred to one… to save the lives of a hundred wounded men. These two soldiers are among those who have won the Congressional Medal of Honor for their sacrifices in Operation Iraqi Freedom. No one on the other side is worthy of such an honor. I say this to you because keeping silent – whether from misguided modesty, self-loathing, or the desire to avoid offending your vanity – is an insult to your honor, and an injury to your future.

We have made a fetish of “tolerance” in America, and it has curdled into
poison. I am here to tell you what the civilized world is no longer prepared to tolerate. We will not stand silently by while women are enslaved, brutalized, or murdered. We will no longer hypnotize ourselves with self-criticism over gay rights, while you bury gay men and women under piles of jagged stone. We will not swallow our tongues for fear of offending Islam, when Islam oppresses all other religious beliefs within its borders. We know you can do better. We also know that nothing will improve unless we demand you do better… and we do demand it. The world has turned, and the old days of totalitarianism and pillage are done. There is no more place in it for barbarians. Believe what you will, follow your customs, honor the holy writings of your Prophet, and strive to understand God’s will through prayer, music, and scholarship. You will find nothing but honest respect and admiration from the West. But when you stand among civilized people, you will be civilized people. When you are shown respect, you will answer with respect. As the West reveres and protects the life of your innocents, so you will revere ours.

I speak to you as the democratically-elected leader of a great republic, which has earned the right to walk tall and proud through the halls of history. It is a right earned on battlefields… but also at humanitarian relief camps,
pharmaceutical laboratories, civil-rights marches, and field hospitals. It is a right earned by rebuilding shattered enemies after terrible wars, by tearing down the statues of tyrants and building schools for the children of their liberated victims.
Ours is a hard-won glory that can be seen in six men raising a flag on Mount
Suribachi, or one man planting that flag in the dust of the moon… or millions of men and women stepping into voting booths. Look at the free people of Iraq, with their fingers proudly covered in purple ink after they vote, and know that America is eternally eager to share her glory. Indeed, we believe we can only render it proper honors by sharing it with all of our brothers and sisters around the world. But also remember this: the Middle East stands at a crossroads, and the heavy responsibility of reconciling faith, tradition, and the demands of the modern world rests with you. You must choose between old hatreds and new possibilities. You must choose between murder and prosperity. I have come here today to tell you clearly, and without reservation, that you cannot have both.
May the next leader chosen by the American people stand in my place someday, to congratulate you on a wise choice.

Diana, USA

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Malawi leader attaches conditions for reconciliation with opposition opponents

Posted by African Press International on June 11, 2009

By Prince Jamali

Malawi President Bingu Wa Mutharika who recently got a fresh mandate to rule the southern African country for another five years, has said he was ready to reconcile with all leaders of opposition parties only if they come forward and apologize for what he calls violation of his integrity and insulting his character in the runner up to the hotly contested May 19 polls.

But the opposition and civil society organizations while welcoming the president’s call for reconciliation as a step in the right direction towards healing the country’s political differences which characterized the last five years of his administration, have described his condition for an apology as a recipe for more confrontations with his opponents.

Addressing the nation on Monday through the state controlled broadcasters, the 76 old leader who amassed 2.9 million votes against his main challenger, John Tembo who led a Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and former ruling party, United Democratic Front (UDF ) alliance got 1.3million votes out of the 4,600757 votes which were cast during the elections, said his integrity was greatly violated and ridiculed by the opposition, which he said needed to apologize to him for the sake of reconciliation and national building.

During the campaign and before it, I suffered immense pain. My integrity was violated and my character assassinated. I have been ridiculed, more than expected. They said a lot of statements during the rallies and published false stories both in print and online media, solely to destroy my character.

Much as am emphasizing on reconciliation, am waiting for them to come forward and apologize to me. They should come forward and say look, we made a mistake, let us forget it. I will be open and forgive them. I want them to be part of national building, said Mutharika.

In his immediate reaction, former Head of State, Bakili Muluzi who supported a formidable opposition front during the elections described Mutharika’s call for reconciliation as a clear demonstration of leadership maturity, but he said the call for apology would create a climate for more political tension.

The President’s call for reconciliation is a clear sign of maturity which needs to be encouraged for the good of our country. We have gone through hard times during the last five years. But now it was time for us all to reconcile as a nation. However, the president should not emphasise on apologies, this would remind people of the past. Let us forget the past and move forward.

Let us forget the past and look forward, but this should not be with conditions. We should reconcile without conditions attached, said Muluzi, whose attempts to contest in the elections after serving the country already for two consecutive five year terms were blocked by the courts.

Muluzi said during the campaign a lot of outrageous things are said during campaigns at all levels, therefore apologizing for such things was asking for what he called too much.

But this is now the time to tell our people that whatever was said during the campaign period is now water under the bridge.

While the country’s think tank, Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI), Executive Director, Rafique Hajat agreed with the president on the need for reconciliation insisting that it was the only weapon that could unite Malawians of diverse political opinions towards a common goal. He however faulted his insistence on apology describing it as unnecessary.

Much as I encourage the idea towards reconciliation, I have problems with the idea of asking the opposition to apologize for what was said during the campaign. That has never happened anywhere, because it is not necessary, said Hajat.

Mutharika whose Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) now dominates the 193-seat National Assembly said politics of vengeance should now be a thing of the past.

There has been a cat and mouse chase between Mutharika’s government and the opposition during the last five years.

The country was thrown into a serious political impasse when President Mutharika who ascended to power on a UDF ticket under the tutelage of Muluzi fell out with him and quit the party. He later formed his DPP in 2005. The then opposition dominated National Assembly took advantage of their numerical strentgh to try to amend certain procedures of the constitution which would have paved way for his impeachment. He saved himself after he had adjourned the House indifinitely.

Efforts to from religious leaders to normalize the situation drew blank.


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Tsvangirai’s niece in white farms invasion saga

Posted by African Press International on June 11, 2009


HARARE, Thursday

Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirais aides have been forced to launch a damage control exercise, a day before he meets US President Barrack Obama after reports surfaced that his niece had invaded a white owned commercial farm.

Dr Arikana Chihombori, a US-based medic, has confirmed that she tried to evict the owners of the farm after she got an offer letter from the Zimbabwean Government. Dr Chihombori accompanied Mr Tsvangirai to South African President Jacob Zumas swearing-in in May.

The row is threatening to engulf Mr Tsvangirais whirlwind tour of the US and Europe, where he is trying to promote the unity government in Zimbabwe and also to drum up financial assistance. Western governments are sensitive to the treatment of Zimbabwes few remaining white farmers and have demanded that farm invasions must stop before they restore normal ties with the southern African country.

The Zimbabwean Premier meets President Obama in Washington DC on Friday. On Wednesday, the US Senate passed a resolution to maintain sanctions on Zimbabwe, citing Mr Mugabes reluctance to honour terms of a power sharing agreement as well as stop farm invasions. The Senate also expressed concern over arrests of human rights activists and journalists.

Mr Tsvangirai recently said farm invasions were exaggerated, while President Robert Mugabe says the farmers should make way for landless blacks to allow the country to conclude the chaotic agrarian reform that began in 2000. The Prime Ministers spokesperson, Mr James Maridadi, confirmed that Dr Chihombori was Mr Tsvangirais niece, but said that did not mean that President Mugabes former fierce opponent supported farm invasions.

She is 52-years-old and an uncle cannot be held responsible for the commissions or omissions on the part of a 52-year-old niece, Mr Maridadi told SW Radio Africa. Justice for Agriculture, a group that campaigns for displaced commercial farmers in Zimbabwe, said the affected farmer had approached the US embassy to enquire about an American citizen who was trying to invade a farm.

Mr Tsvangirai was reportedly approached when it had been revealed that it was his niece. But Mr Maridadi said the Prime Minister had never intervened in the case. Now that there is a lot of interest coming out in the press, I think there may be need for the Prime Minister to, maybe, look at the case closer and then determine what kind of action to take from there, he said.

But as of now, the Prime Minister is on a very busy schedule of his tour of the US, Europe and Scandinavia and he doesnt have a lot of time to engage on the issue of the farm and he doesnt have the facts, he added. Dr Chihombori had reportedly refused to take Mr Tsvangirais instructions to back off from the farm dispute.

Instead she accused foreign journalists of ignoring the abuse of farm workers and exaggerating the plight of white commercial farmers. Lets look at the average farm worker, what have they (white farmers) done for the farm worker? A white child, by the time they become an adult, they are the farm manager, they have travelled all over the world, she told SW Radio Africa.

The question I have for the farmer is what have you done for your farm worker? He continues to be farm labourer, no education, no promotion and when they get sick, they are sent down to their home village to die, thats an everyday occurrence.

President Mugabe has defended the often violent land reform programme as an attempt to reverse colonial imbalances, while Mr Tsvangirai blamed the reforms for Zimbabwes economic collapse before he joined the unity government in February. Zimbabwes State media has dismissed as a futile mission Mr Tsvangirais three-week tour of Western capitals.

The Sunday Mail newspaper quoted a senior official in President Mugabes party complaining that Mr Tsvangirais delegation during his US and European tours was full of ministers from the Prime Ministers Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which made his mission a party project rather than a government assignment.

Only one minister from Zanu-PF is accompanying the Prime Minister after most of them were denied visas as they are on the list of President Mugabes cronies affected by EU and US travel bans. The Herald newspaper predicted that Mr Tsvangirai and President Obama will clash in their meeting as Washington has announced that it will dig in on sanctions, while the Prime Minister has a brief from President Mugabe to press for the lifting of sanctions.

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Gabonese Leader’s Death Sparks Controversy in France

Posted by African Press International on June 11, 2009

By Lisa Bryant
The death of Gabonese leader Omar Bongo has sparked controversy in France, as a former French president accused Mr. Bongo of corruption and anti-corruption groups press for embezzlement charges that implicate him.

As tributes continue to pour in after the death of longtime Gabonese President Omar Bongo, allegations of questionable deals he might have been involved in are simmering in France.

In an interview on French radio, former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing claimed Mr. Bongo might have illegally funded the presidential campaign of his then rival, Jacques Chirac.

The former French leader said he called Mr. Bongo to find out whether the allegations were true. He said he broke off contact with Mr. Bongo when he found out that the information was true.

Meanwhile, two French groups say they will pursue corruption charges they filed this year against Mr. Bongo and the leaders of the Republic of Congo and Equatorial Guinea. The groups – Sherpa and Transparency International – accuse the two presidents of using millions of dollars of embezzled public funds to buy luxury homes and cars in France.

Maude Pedriel works for Sherpa, a French jurist association. “The main obstacle is that you cannot prosecute dead people, so there is no more legal action against Omar Bongo. But the case also targets an important number of Bongo relatives and close associates,” he said.

Mr. Bongo was a staunch ally of Gabon’s former colonial power, France.

In addition to her accusations against the former African leader, Pedriel says she is worried about Gabon’s future now that Mr. Bongo is dead. “We are sorry because, what next? I am quite scared of what is to come. France knew how to deal with Omar Bongo, but we still do not know what is going to come next. It might be worse for the Gabonese population,” he said.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy joined leaders around the world in expressing condolences for Mr. Bongo’s death.


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