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Archive for September 6th, 2009

Uganda: Workers petition Museveni over inhuman working conditions

Posted by African Press International on September 6, 2009

Entebbe (Uganda) Some investors have gone overboard in their mistreatment of employees by forcing them to mop office floors with their tongues while others are locked up in toilets, workers’ representatives told President Museveni on Tuesday.

The trade unionists petitioned the President to deport such investors because they were dehumanising Ugandan citizens.

During a meeting with the President at State House, Entebbe, the workers’ leaders under their umbrella–Central Organisation of Free Trade Unions (Coftu), reported to the President that some of the investors were culprits while small-time foreign investors were the worst in violating the rights of workers.

Led by MP Sam Lyomoki, the trade unionists handed a petition to Mr Museveni detailing issues affecting workers in the country saying the situation was getting out of proportion.

But the torture narrative by Coftu chairman Christopher Kahirita about a female employee who was reportedly forced by her boss to clean the carpet with her tongue, appeared to emotionally move the President.

“Some investor forced her employee to sweep the floor using her tongue,” Mr Kahirita told Mr Museveni who looked very surprised, at least by his facial expression.

Mr Kahirita added that another employee in a soap and cooking oil manufacturing industry was locked in a toilet over what his employers perceived as dodging work.

“They said he went to the toilet four times and that is why they locked him up. Those are the people who need immediate expulsion,” Mr Kahirita told the President.

“What? Can someone do this?” President Museveni asked and ordered that the incidents be investigated. “Those people who are violating labour rights are going to face the law,” he added.

The trade unionists, however, did not name the employees who were mistreated.

The workers also urged Mr Museveni to consider an upward review of salaries for civil servants to which the President answered that workers’ leaders should to be objective in their demands.

He said while their salaries are low compared to other institutions, they [civil servants] are consistent, permanent and pensionable.

The President said workers’ demands must not destroy the ‘seed funds’ under the government, adding that while in principle he agrees to a wage increase, it is important to consider the money that goes into social service infrastructure including electricity, roads and social services before considering an increase in the wages.

Instead, the President urged civil servants to look at improving tax collections.

Mr Museveni, however, supported a proposal by the workers to review the NSSF Act to have the minimum age for accessing the savings lowered from 55 to at least 50years.

“By 55 you are likely to be dead. If we give you money before you die you can invest it and I think that is reasonable,” he said.

He also promised to look into issues of loan rates provided by the NSSF saying he does not agree to lend at cheaper rates.


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Nigeria: “Boko Haram bomb expert trained in Afghanistan”

Posted by African Press International on September 6, 2009

Maiduguri (Nigeria) The Borno State Police Command has discovered a bomb specialist sponsored by fundamentalist Boko Haram sect for training in Afghanistan.

Boko Haram, which means Western Education is Sin, caused an uprising in July that left some 700 people dead.

Abdulrasheed Abubakar, aged 23, confessed to the authorities that he was sent to the country by the sect’s late leader, Mohammed Yusuf, and was promised the sum of N5.5 million upon return. He learnt how to manufacture local bombs for the group’s use, the police disclosed.

Previously a Christian by name Jeremiah Samuel, the Boko Haram faithful was converted to Islam seven months ago by one Mallam Umar in Yola, the Adamawa State capital. Abubakar claimed that he had a Diploma in Theology from Christ Disciples Bible Church, Enugu. He was influenced by the Ramadan preaching of Yusuf that was recorded on a tape, he said.

According to him, “I was introduced to Mohammed Yusuf by a friend, having listened to some of his preaching. I was really fascinated by the Islamic teaching not the Boko Haram ideology,” he confessed. “The sect leader took me to the Abuja airport from Maiduguri in a Toyota Sienna bus. I travelled with another man who identified himself as Ali Mohammed and underwent a three-month training in Afghanistan.”

Information made available to THISDAY shows that he was arrested by the police at an undisclosed hideout in Yola and brought to Maiduguri where the headquarters of the sect (Markas) was located, on his return to Nigeria.

He said he took off from Nigeria to Afghanistan through South Africa, claiming that all the travelling documents were retrieved from him as soon as he came back from the trip in late July. He did not name the airline which he boarded from Nigeria to South Africa before connecting to Afghanistan.

Narrating his journey, Abubakar said: “Mohammed Yusuf gave the two of us who went for the training some telephone numbers of our trainers and we called them as soon as we arrived Afghanistan. I can’t recollect the town or place where the training took place because they covered our faces and led us to a house where we spent about three months,” he explained.

The Borno State Commis-sioner of Police, Alhaji Ibrahim Abdul, told journalists that the suspected bomb specialist was picked up in Yola by the police following intelligence reports. Abdul disclosed that some arms including seven hand-made rocket propelled grenades, over seven locally made pistols, rifles and casting pistols were recovered from Boko Haram hideouts. He said that the police would be proactive in discharging its duties.

Abubakar was born in Numan, Adamawa State. He comes from the Bachama tribe. He claimed that he speaks Hausa, Fulfude and Igbo. He said that he was adequately briefed by the sect leader of his mission before he was sent to Afghanistan.

The sect’s leader died in July, in an incident decried by some as summary execution. The authorities previously stated that Yusuf lost his life during a shoot-out with the police.

A picture showing him in handcuffs emerged, casting doubt on the statement issued by police authorities.

It also emerged that the police received several warnings and tip-off about the activities of Boko Haram. One of its leaders was also arrested but later released on bail. The issue came to the fore when the group attacked a police station in Bauchi. The altercation between the police and members of the sect spread to Maiduguri and Yobe States, leading to the destruction of properties and loss of lives.


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Rwanda: The BBC should not throw FDLR a lifeline (editorial)

Posted by African Press International on September 6, 2009

Kigali (Rwanda) One would have thought that common sense would prevail at Bush House, but that has turned out to be a pipedream. Barely a few weeks after mending fences with the Rwandan government on the issue of giving a platform to war criminals and Genocide deniers, the BBC was at it again.

This time it did not fuel the fires in Rwanda, it instead crossed the border into neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to give a hand to the rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) – and this is no exaggeration.

The FDLR are remnants of the former Rwandan army (Ex-FAR) and Interahamwe militia who planned and carried out the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis that cost the lives of over one million people. Now they have turned their guns and machetes against the Congolese population laying a trail of bloodshed and widespread rape in their wake.

The UN peacekeeping force in DRC, and the Congolese army have in the past few months been conducting military operations against the FDLR and the rebels’ backs are against the wall.

To make matters worse, their Germany-hosted website was ordered shut. This may have been a major blow because it has been the conduit for their propaganda and fundraising efforts, but they had another ace up their sleeve – sympathetic circles within the BBC.

No sooner had the FDLR website been disabled, than one of their principle leaders was on BBC Kinyarwanda service-Gahuzamiryango,- the same service that met the Rwandan Government wrath for similar reasons.

Callixte Mbarushimana was challenging statement by Alan Doss that FDLR were being routed from their positions , and he was using the BBC to drum up support and raise the morale of his troops, at the same time making faces at a sovereign state; the DRC.

But Mbarushimana has survived worse storms before and seems to be drunk on impunity. A well documented Genocide suspect, Mbarushimana is also the Secretary General of the FDLR. An employee of the UN in Rwanda in 1994, Mbarushimana became the caretaker of the UN after all international personnel were evacuated.

He supplied militias with UN resources (vehicles, fuel, food, etc ) to carry out the killings, especially his former colleagues in UNDP.

Despite his very transparent biography, he went on to work for the UN in Angola and Kosovo, and even got a hefty settlement from the UN for “wrongful dismissal”.

Even the UN-run International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) developed cold feet and never bothered their former colleague.

Given its recent experience with the Rwandan government, and in particular its history of giving a voice to Genocide deniers, the BBC should know better than giving a sinking FDLR a platform spread their propaganda.

source.The New Times – Rwanda

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