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Archive for March 1st, 2013

Police brutality in South Africa causes painful death

Posted by African Press International on March 1, 2013

The pictures that don’t lie! Taxi driver did’nt assault cops. He did not grab a gun. It took five cops to pin him down.
NEW VIDEO footage showing four cops and what appears to be a plain-clothes officer dragging taxi driver Mido Macia
(in red shirt) to the police van.
COPS CHARGE DEAD TAXI MAN!
By nomzamo ngcobo
A SECOND video emerged yesterday which casts even more doubt on the police version of how taxi driver Mido Macia fell victim to killer cops.
The 27-year-old Mozambican was dragged behind a cop van for 500m on Tuesday and died in police cells. The police action was captured on video and shocked Mzansi and the world on Daily Sun’s Facebook page.
At first cops said Macia was put into the van, when the video clearly showed he was dragged behind it. In a statement yesterday, national spokesman for the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), Moses Dlamini, claimed Mido grabbed a gun and assaulted a police constable who accused him of obstructing traffic.
The new video, handed to Daily Sun by a schoolboy yesterday, clearly shows Mido arguing loudly with the cop, apparently over the return of his driving licence.
But at no point does he assault the officer. And he does not grab the constable’s gun!
In fact, a witness to the shocking event told Daily Sun: “The man never took the gun from the cop. He was asking him for his driving licence back.
“What cops are claiming about a gun is a lie.”
According to Dlamini, back-up was summoned to the scene where a constable was “struggling to put a suspect in the police van”.
But the video shows it took four uniformed cops, plus a fifth man, probably a plain clothes officer, to drag the struggling Mido to the police van.
Cops have still not explained how Mido died in Daveyton police cells within hours of being dragged down the street.
Instead they opened an assault docket against the dead man!
Fredah Ncuku, a family friend, said they made a statement at the Daveyton cop shop on Wednesday but have not heard from them, as promised.
“We reported the case at the Benoni Police Station instead,” she said.
Taxi owner Mathews Mokone, who employed Mido in January, said he had lost a good driver. “People like him are very scarce and hard to find. No one will ever replace him.”
He said the cops arrived at his house on Wednesday morning and told him his taxi was at the police station. They told him to come to the station, where the station commander told him Mido had died.
“He said Emido was resisting arrest and took a gun from a cop. He said Emido had a head injury but he didn’t know what had injured him,” said Mokone.
Taxi driver Search Malia said he saw Mido’s body at the mortuary: “His body was swollen and he had several scratches.”
Mido’s landlord, Badanisile Ngwenya, said she always left her daughters to stay in the house when Mido was there.
“I knew they were safe with him,” she said.
Brigadier Phuti Setati, spokesman for Commissioner General Riah Phiyega confirmed that the matter was reported to the IPID.
He said the acting Gauteng Provincial Commissioner,
Major-General Phumzo Gela, has been instructed to institute internal investigations into the incident and provide feedback as a matter of urgency.
Isaac Mangena, the South African Human Rights Commission spokesman, asked the IPID to ensure that those responsible were brought to book.
Police brutality cannot be tolerated under any circumstances,” he said.
Rev Theunis Botha, leader of the Christian Democratic Party, said they warned against powers given to the police under Bheki Cele who said they must shoot to kill. “The chickens have come home to roost,” said Botha.
) No arrests have been made.
) President Jacob Zuma released a statement yesterday: “Members of the SA police service are required to operate within the confines of the law in executing their duties.
“The visuals of the incident are horrific, disturbing and unacceptable.
“No human being should be treated in that manner.”How the world reacted
News channels Sky News, CNN and BBC all picked up the tragic story. And once again the world is asking questions about Mzansi cops.
The Daily Mail in the UK ran the headline “Handcuffed to a police van and dragged away to his death”.
The Guardian went with “Man dragged by police van dies”. The Independent, The Telegraph and The Mirror all echoed their disbelief.
Newspapers in America were equally horrified. The Washington Post ran with screen grabs of Daily Sun’s video while bringing up comparisons to Mzansi’s Marikana tragedy in August last year.
Social networks went crazy. Prize-winning journalist for The New York Times, Serge ­Kovaleski, tweeted that the event was “horrendous” while celebrities and casual tweeters expressed their outrage.
Foreigners unfamiliar with local languages thought people in the video were cheering for the cops, but were corrected by others that people in the crowd were
screaming for ­police to let Mido Macia go.

End

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Former Chairman of Kenya Electoral Commission Samuel Kivuitu has died

Posted by African Press International on March 1, 2013

By Karap-korir

The man blamed for the failure to have the 2007 general elections in Kenya that saw 1300 Kenyans killed and thousands displaced has died due to throat cancer.

The 2007 elections results was disputed by those who contested for the presidency. Mr Mwai Kibaki was sworn by Mr Kivuitu, leaving Mr Raila Odinga calling for mass action leading to many deaths.

When he was first diagnosed with the disease he was sent to India for treatment which now seems was not effective. He died in a private hospital in Nairobi. He is survived by a wife and children.

He will be buried after the 4th General elections that take place on Monday the 4th – next week.

Kivuitu was a lawyer by profession, a Kamba by tribe.

End

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Norwegian Peoples Aid holds a press meeting attended by Mr Ward Wilson from the USA

Posted by African Press International on March 1, 2013

By Karap-korir

Today the 1.st of March, Norwegian Peoples Aid held a press briefing for journalist in their premises in the city of Oslo. This was done in connection with the conference being held in Olso on the fight to abolish Nuclear weapons worldwide, that will be attended by delegates from 120 countries.

During the media briefing, Mr Ward Wilson got the opportunity to brief journalist on his new book titled: Five Myths About Nuclear Weapons which was released early January this year.

He told the meeting on the importance to have a Nuclear free world, adding that the American State Department invited him for discussions immediately the book was launched.

According to this, this is a sign of admission that nuclear weapons is a danger for world peace.

End

 

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THE BIG QUESTION: WHAT IS CHINA’S POSITION ON KENYA’S ELECTIONS?

Posted by African Press International on March 1, 2013

  • BY EMBUKANE VINCENT LIBOSSO

Ally-Khan Satchu, a financial analyst based in Nairobi Kenya reckons in one of his publications that China– Africa trade has grown from nearly $0 to above $ 100bn in a decade. A very rapid and near-term phenomenon.

But it was Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte who once remarked that china was a dormant giant and that when it awakes; the whole world will tremble. Well, it turns out that those words were indeed not mere words but prophetic. With the dawn of this prophecy, china has indeed awoken and the effect reverberates across the world.

China like a bat has forever remained “blind”, guarded and studiously quiet when it comes to the dirty game of politics in Africa.Mr. Magutt ; who teaches politics and international studies at Kenyatta University in Nairobi writing for one of the local dailies notes that china lets the “usual suspects”- the U.K and  U.S do what they’re best known for harangue, tyranise and dictate to Kenyans and Africa who not to vote for.

The big question that needs to be driven home is: as a global super power; what is china’s position on Kenya’s elections?

I hesitate on that “big question” because as for me the fact is the point has already been driven home and what is more, even accepted!

So, will china give a formal statement with regards to Kenya’s elections? Probably not! And with the look of things, that will not surprise me nor will it surprise the rest of the world.

Why you ask? Stick around and you will know why. See, president Kibaki’s administration leaned on the sino-kenya relations and trade have been to say the least; robust steadily eclipsing the so-called traditional partners in the West.

But the reason why China will not give a formal statement as Mr. Magutt reckons is that china is increasingly occupying a special place in African countries because it is a nation whose civilization and history was built on humanity; hard work and respect for others.

Probably that is why many African countries are leaning towards china’s primary intention of settling more trade and investment. And as Napoleon predicted 200 years ago, china is no longer dormant but an indispensable global player.

 

End

 

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Mr. Odinga’s political odyssey since 2007 and current fortunes is a tale of a man who has lost his mojo!

Posted by African Press International on March 1, 2013

  • By David ochwangi
All else being equal, Prime Minister Raila Odinga would have easily won Monday March 4 elections and become Kenya’s 4th President – after all half of the country once believed that Mr. Odinga was robbed of victory in 2007 and this would be the moment to write the injustice and restore to him what rightfully belongs to him. However, even a perfunctory review of Mr. Odinga’s political odyssey since 2007 and current fortunes is a tale of a man who has lost his mojo, caught up with age, made up several critical mistakes over the last 5 years and lost his once colossal support as a consequence. There is no doubt that Odinga is still a formidable adversary to his political opponents but his potency has been severely eroded in the five years he has been the Prime Minister. Here are some of the reasons why he will not win next Monday.
  • i. Odinga has lost support he once enjoyed among major voting blocks, specifically in Rift Valley among the Kalenjins and Western among the Luyhas. First, was virtually tied with Kibaki in 2007, his margin of loss in 2007 was very slim, a mere 200,000 votes less than Kibaki. In 2013, Raila has lost more support than he has gained, way more than the 200,000 he needed to close the gap. Both losses were avoidable, especially in voter rich Rift Valley.
    Kalenjins, led by Ruto distrust Odinga because of his alleged betrayal of the community when he fell out with William Ruto and the eviction of poor peasants from the MAU. Odinga mishandled the evictions and his recent attempt to resettle the peasants was a little too late because it came across as an insincere political ploy to win votes and the locals were being treated as political pawns. Needless to say, he failed to win back that critical constituency. The most telling sign of the depth of Raila’s loss of support in Rift Valley was in 2010. Mr. William Ruto who engineered Mr. Odinga’s victory in the community almost to every voter in 2007, led the community to vote against the new constitution, clearly the man still has a lot of sway in Rift Valley which translates into at least a Million votes. So formidable is Ruto’s dominance among the Kalenjins that once Raila supporters such as Roads Minister Franklin
    Bett as abandoned his parliamentary run to avoid embarrassment at the polls.
    Among the Luyha, Mudavadi’s split from Raila also means Raila will lose plenty of votes, after all, the country is still polarized along tribal lines whether we like it or not. Raila hasn’t filled the deficit by any replacement of the votes he lost both in Rift valley and Western, if anything he has hemorrhaged even much more support.
  • ii. For each of the PENTAGON members who left his 2007 coalition it will cost Raila votes on Monday and the last I checked, practically every one of them left. William Ruto, Norman Nyagah, Charity Ngilu, Najib Balala, Musalia Mudavadi– all of them left. This is a sign of a man who is not trusted even by the closest of associates. They accused him of all sorts of malfeasance including being undemocratic, dictatorial and untrustworthy. Raila failed to replace those folks with equally influential leaders and as a consequence his once formidable national party of ODM was relegated to a regional party that needed a coalition of several others including that of his onetime arch-enemy Kalonzo Musyoka’s WIPER party. The 

 

  • point is ODM and Prime Minister Raila are in a much weaker position than they 

 

  • were in 2007.

 

 

  • iii. The stigma of the 2007 PEV still remains and hangs on the Prime Minister like a tick. Whereas PNU, the protagonist party considered equally responsible for the PEV is practically non-existent, ODM has stayed on albeit also much weaker. Whereas this resilience is admirable it comes at a price, the vestiges of violence have attached to ODM as we witnessed over the years particularly during the nominations. Each violent act (and there were
    several) by ODM reminded Kenyans of the PEV and scared away would be supporters.
    From stoning Raphael Tuju, manhandling Miguna Miguna to several instances of stone throwing and even murders during the nomination in ODM simply means ODM has not shunned its violent ways. Even recent campaign trails across the country have been marked with endemic violence and Raila doesn’t seem to be in control anymore. People seem to have lost respect for JAKOM even in his own backyard of Luo Nyanza, in Homabay, Kisumu, Siaya, Migori, etc. These episodes were unheard of before 2007 PEV but now they are commonplace and synonymous to ODM.
  • iv. Raila has failed to live up to his well-crafted image of a democratic leader. This was very pronounced in the recently concluded primaries/nominations of candidates for elective office. ODM’s nominations exercises were mishandled worse than in 2007. The Prime Minister was accused of imposing his family and relatives on the electorate, from his brother Oburu Odinga, his cousin Jakoyo Midiwo, to his sister and many other close relatives and friends. It got so bad in Luo Nyanza that for the first time the folks in Luo Nyanza openly rebelled against Raila Odinga, something that would be unfathomable a few years ago. The Prime Minister was accused of nepotism and imposing his will on the people and this further hurt his chances on March 4, even after he tried to delink himself from the shenanigans, damage was already done.

 

  • v. The Tyranny of Numbers truth be told Mutahi Ngunyi’s assessment about the numbers was spot on. The Prime Minister can only ignore him at his own peril. Kenya today remains an ethnically polarized society. Not ideal but it is what it is. Large blocks in Central Kenya
    (GEMA) will follow traditional voting patterns and vote in large numbers for Uhuru. Add to that the Rift Valley vote that left Raila and a split primarily between Raila and Uhuru in the rest of the country and Uhuru emerges the clear winner, if not straight up in round one, certainly in round two. 
  • vi. A dismal development record, The one good thing Raila has going for him is a good campaign machine that amplifies and embellishes a lot. To the common voter, Raila was responsible for the new constitution (factually untrue), infrastructure, expanded democratic space, hospitals, CDF and just about everything that is right in Kenya. The problem is nobody can back up these claims, if you ask the people of Kibera one simple question, “ are you better off or worse off today with Raila Odinga as your leader over the last 20 years”? The answer would be “NO”! On the other hand, if you ask the folks in Katanga the same question about Peter Kenneth, they will tell you “YES”! Raila talks but his performance is way lagging. If he has failed to improve the lives of the Kibera residents for as long as he has been their leader, how will he improve the country as a whole?
  • vii. And then there is the small matter of the ICC. All the candidates have taken advantage of Mr. Kenyatta’s circumstances at the ICC for political mileage but none more so than his closest rival Raila Odinga. Mr. Odinga is a good man, I have no doubt he means well for Kenya but his obsession with Uhuru’s case at the ICC and persistent scheming to have Uhuru removed from the race has encumbered and severely hurt his campaign. Mr. Odinga started with calling for the arrest of Mr. Kenyatta soon after the latter returned from The Hague, claiming that Uhuru was inciting the public against the ICC when in fact Kenyatta was seeking public prayers; his surrogates tried repeatedly to cause civil unrest so they can blame Uhuru. Soon thereafter Odinga’s cousin Jakoyo Midiwo claimed that Uhuru had
    plotted to assassinate Odinga in two weeks; of course that was a lie. Then it was Gitobu Imanyara’s turn- he told the nation that Mungiki waylaid him on his way home at night and forced him to sweat allegiance to Uhuru Kenyatta three times while facing Mount Kenya, all these ruses were designed to bait the ICC into issuing arrest warrants against Mr. Kenyatta and to accelerate the trial date to remove Mr. Kenyatta from contesting the presidency. The ICC caught on to these diabolical schemes and wisely removed itself from the mix, it refused to issue arrest warrants and instead set the trial date after the elections. After these plans failed, these folks then went on to plan 1000 and tried to use a yet to be enacted law under chapter 6 of the constitution on account of Uhuru’s integrity, the case was filed by the same civil society groups who coached and bribed Mungiki witnesses to bear false witnesses against Uhuru at the Hague. In short, the failed to stop Uhuru because the court refused to be politicized even with the Chief Justice Willie Mutunga inserting himself in the politics the with unproven claims by that Mungiki threatened the courts with death if they ruled against Uhuru, I mean the brazenness of these officials to smear Mr. Kenyatta is breathtaking. If it is true that Justice Mutunga used his position to advance a political agenda of any of the candidates, it would be yet another unmitigated misuse of office and the judiciary and I will leave that alone that for now. My point is that Raila squandered a great opportunity to close the deal with Kenyans by focusing his energies of tearing down Uhuru Kenyatta. I think that Raila, with his great oratory skills and infectious charm that connects with ordinary folks should have used it to promote his own vision and promote or defend his record in government and avoid disparaging Uhuru at every turn. He took the exact opposite route instead and co-opted a lot of people along the way, that strategy has failed miserably at every turn and in fact helped Mr. Kenyatta tremendously.
  • Raila could have closed the loose ends on issues such as infrastructure, defend his development record in Kibera, explain to Kenyans how he would end nepotism while defending his own record on the same. He could have tried to democratize his ODM and stave off the kind of rebellion against him from his own hometowns for trying to impose his family and friends on the people. He should explain why chaos seem to follow him all over he goes and why folks seem to have lost confidence and respect for him, why he can’t seem to keep any friends for long coalition together and why the ODM Pentagon broke up? He could have told us how he will end corruption and defend the vice in his own office for such things as the maize scandal and Kazi kwa Vijana. He chose not to and that will cost him the election.
 End

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Nepal: Donor neutrality in question

Posted by African Press International on March 1, 2013

Dissent in Nepal over the role of ethnicity in a post-conflict state has put donor agencies under increased scrutiny, with politicians and analysts accusing them of meddling, taking sides and circumventing the government to push an agenda of “social cohesion”.
“We got a lot of criticism from all sides. We took the brunt [from all sections of society including marginalized groups, citizens, media and political parties] saying we interfered or didn’t do enough,” said the director of the UK government’s aid arm, Department for International Development (DFID), in Nepal, Dominic O’Neill. DFID is Nepal’s largest bilateral donor, recently increasing its annual spending by US$60 million to some $150 million in 2013.

The national debate surrounding an ethnic identity-based federalism – where power is devolved from the national government to local units determined largely along ethnic lines – has been at the core of Nepal’s transition to post-war stability, with some politicians, analysts and journalists painting Nepal’s international donors as instigators of ethnic tension.

Almost seven years since the country ended a decade-long civil war with a peace deal, efforts to birth a post-war constitution and new government are still stalled amid political infighting, which has only exacerbated the country’s ills.

Nepal is one of world’s poorest countries with 25 percent of its 30-million people living below the poverty line, according to the World Bank. Pockets of chronic under-nutrition, especially in the country’s Far West mountainous region, exceed emergency levels, and access to safe sanitation remains perilously inaccessible for 20 million people.

“Changes are drastically needed in this country, but didn’t happen at the pace they were supposed to. Aid agencies got too involved in the peace process, political transition and democratization issues rather than development,” political analyst and professor Krishna Khanal told IRIN.

Aid agencies should have been focusing, instead, on building up national institutions rather than duplicating efforts and competing among themselves, Khanal added.

Checks and balances

After years of failed constitution-making, a new interim prime minister was appointed on 18 February; Nepal’s opposition parties have refused to consider holding elections for a new constituent assembly (the previous one was dissolved in May 2012) under the incumbent Maoist-led regime.

But as recently noted by the UK-based Economist Intelligence Unit, significant hurdles remain “to end the destructive political wrangling. In the meantime, Nepal’s civic functions are in effect paralysed and economic activity is depressed”.

Robert Piper, the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in Nepal, told IRIN the current political situation is “naturally of real concern” to donor groups.

The position of chief of the Centre for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) and national auditor-general are still vacant after seven years. In addition, there is no Public Accounts Committee – a parliamentary body that tracks spending of donor monies.

“These checks and balances are important in any democratic society,” Swiss ambassador to Nepal, Thomas Gass, told IRIN. He is also the chairperson of donor group Nepal Peace Trust Fund.

Similarly, analysts and government officials make the same accountability charges against aid agencies that circumvent the government, directly implementing projects without consultation or approval.

Such a practice has become a de jure modus operandi in a country that has had five prime ministers in the last six years, according to the national umbrella group of more than 5,300 development local NGOs, the NGO Federation of Nepal (NFN). Local elections were last held in 1997, leaving local governance barren, but for the few appointed government caretakers.

Local development programming has withered as the government has been consumed by jockeying for power in Kathmandu, said Gopal Yogi, NFN’s vice-president.

“Our crucial concern is lack of locally elected bodies which would make a difference, and in their absence aid agencies are implementing their own projects without any government control.”

But even a power vacuum is no justification for going it alone, national officials told IRIN, noting that even amid political turbulence, donors have steady government counterparts.

“We have ambitions, but donors’ ambitions for us are greater.”

“Aid agencies believe that it is easier implementing themselves than [going] through the government,” said Rabi Sainju, programme director of foreign aid coordination with the National Planning Commission (NPC).

Sainju said the NPC should have the final say over foreign-funded projects due to its responsibility for national development plans and budgeting.

Yet, it is not uncommon for bilateral donors to have a direct agreement with the government and start project implementation without NPC’s knowledge due to poor inter-ministerial coordination, he added.

Aid agency defence

Aid agencies say donors are simply carrying out pre-approved programmes with no intention of interference.

“We don’t want to be competing with the government in the rural areas. In all of our programmes, even if somebody hasn’t gone through [local] government, 100 percent of our activities are approved by the [national] government,” DFID’s O’Neill told IRIN.

He explained that existing local government bodies like the District Development Committees (DDC) and Village Development Committees (VDC) have limited capacity and that this reality is unlikely to change soon.

“I was in Humla and Jumla (remote hill villages in the country’s northwest) where the [local] government has very limited capacity. In these remote places where the situation is complex and [national] government has no presence, why cannot an external partner deliver services on its behalf?” asked O’Neill.

Meddling or mandate?

But donors’ intentions are suspect, say critics, when agencies direct funding towards traditionally marginalized indigenous ethnic groups that rank low in the long-standing feudal caste system, while overlooking the needs of historically privileged “high-caste” communities that are also extremely poor.

O’Neill said DFID’s support of certain ethnic groups was in accordance with the 1996 Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA). “The fact is – yes – we have supported a lot of marginalized groups in the past. Our mandate was to do that and it is in the CPA, section 3.5. It was clear that this was recognized as an issue that needed to be dealt with as part of the peace process.”

Donors, including the UN, have funded “social inclusion” programmes to empower historically marginalized ethnic groups, which all sections of society support, say analysts.

Former foreign affairs minister Chakra Prasad Bastola told IRIN last June that while no one disagrees the caste system of preferential treatment and access needs change, foreign donors “are pushing their agenda down our throats”, and demanding instant results. “We have ambitions, but donors’ ambitions for us are greater.”

The problem is not whether, but rather how, donors have supported these groups, said foreign affairs analyst Rajan Bhattarai, head of the Nepal Institute of Policy Studies (NIPS).

“The inclusion [agenda] has been narrowed down to political empowerment, distribution of powers and [job quotas] and anything that has immediate solutions instead of empowering the marginalized people from the bottom level,” he said, blaming foreign donors for a too-exclusive focus on dismantling the political basis of the caste system without financing long-term fundamental change.

Impartiality and neutrality

“We don’t promote identity federalism. We don’t promote territorial federalism. We support Nepal impartially as it explores these difficult questions and tries to find the right formula,” said the UN’s Piper.

The standards of humanitarian assistance – humanity, neutrality and impartiality – are laid out in a 1991 UN resolution that defined impartiality as providing humanitarian assistance “without discriminating as to ethnic origin, gender, nationality, political opinions, race or religion. Relief of the suffering must be guided solely by needs, and priority must be given to the most urgent cases of distress,” while neutrality meant “not taking sides in controversies of a political, religious or ideological nature”.

“Once the people of Nepal and the government decide how it wants to progress into whatever structure, then we will support on that basis, but we don’t have an opinion on federalism,” said DFID’s O’Neill.

But even if donors have aimed to remain apolitical, they became dependent on local activists (including the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities, NEFIN, a local NGO advocating ethnic-based federalism) for implementation, which politicized and tainted their mandate, said Khanal, the analyst.

Some donors perceived NEFIN becoming too political, and a number, including DFID in 2010, withdrew funding.

“Federalism was not an international donor-driven agenda but they [donors] worked too closely with organizations run by radical activists, and that indirectly affected their neutrality,” said Khanal.

Donors in Nepal insist they uphold all three criteria of humanitarian assistance in Nepal, even as they push for social inclusion.

Piper said the UN has “very deliberately” worked with the most disadvantaged groups in this country over the last decade and has done so without apology.

“But to go from that statement to the statement that international donors and the UN are, for example, actively promoting federalism, and particularly identity-based federalism, or supporting the ‘bandas’ [strikes] called by indigenous or marginalized groups, is ridiculous,” said Piper.

nn/pt/cb source http://www.irinnews.org

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