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Chad: AU condemns rebel assault

Posted by African Press International on June 19, 2008

Amid raging hostilities near the north-eastern town of Biltine, some 750 kilometres (470 miles) from the capital N’djamena, the African Union (AU) has condemned the rebel offensive, even as the government in N’djamena dismissed the insurgents’ threats to take the capital as nothing more than a “stunt.”

“The African Union is particularly concerned by the resumption since June 11 of clashes between rebel Chad groups and the Chad army in the eastern Chad,” the Pan-African body said in a statement. “These new developments seriously endanger current efforts aiming to revive the process of dialogue in Chad and to promote peace and stability in the region,” it added. The statement followed the seizure by Chadian rebels on Sunday of a second town, Am Dam, as they headed west towards their stated objective, the capital.

Chadian authorities confirmed that Am Dam had fallen to the rebels but said the move was not significant. “The rebels are effectively in Am Dam but it’s a locality where there is neither a garrison nor troops deployed,” said a Chadian military source on Sunday.

Chad’s Minister of Communications, Mahamat Hissene, said the government was still in control of the situation. “We are serene. The army is deploying its plan,” Agence France Presse (AFP) quoted the minister as saying.

Am Dam was taken by the rebels “without much resistance” from government forces, said their spokesman — a day after they also briefly occupied Goz Beida, closer to the Sudan border.

“Our objective is not to take towns but to clear obstacles on the road to N’djamena,” Ali Gueddei, the spokesman for the National Alliance grouping of rebel factions, said. “We are not occupying them. Our objective is Ndjamena,” he added.

France, meanwhile, said it did not intend to intervene. The former colonial power “has not intervened and will not intervene,” said French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner on Sunday, adding that the claims about the rebels’ progress towards the capital had been denied by EUFOR forces.

Mahamat Nouri, who leads the National Alliance uniting several rebel factions, however, said that their forces were still on the move and that the capital remained their ultimate objective. Nouri refused to set a date on the attempt to topple Chad’s President Idriss Deby Itno, saying only it would be “in the short term.”

Fighting near Goz Beida on Saturday saw Irish members of the European Union force (EUFOR) protecting Sudanese refugees exchange fire with unidentified gunmen. There were no apparent casualties. There are nearly 80,000 displaced Chadians and some 36,000 refugees from neighbouring Sudan’s war-battered Darfur region living in camps around Goz Beida. Staff with German and Italian aid agencies in the area said that their supplies had been pillaged, with vehicles stolen and a garage set ablaze in the attacks Saturday night.

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API#Source.The Guardian (Nigeria)

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Congo DRC: Rebel leader refuses to hand over ICC indicted deputy.

Posted by African Press International on June 19, 2008

Masisi (North Kivu Province, Congo DRC): Renegade Congolese general Laurent Nkunda, leader of National Congress for the Defence of the People, CNDP, has told IWPR that he won?t hand over his chief of staff, Bosco Ntaganda, despite an International Criminal Court, ICC, warrant for his arrest.

?The extradition of Congolese to the International Criminal Court is an indignity,? said Nkunda. ?I wish Ntaganda could be judged in Ituri rather than The Hague.? Nkunda spoke to IWPR at a farm in Kirolirwe, about 60 kilometres west of Goma, one of several of his homes in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC. There is ?no chance [I will] hand over Bosco Ntaganda to ICC?, he said.

Nkunda said he was not sure of the precise crimes that Ntaganda has been charged with, and questioned the adequacy of the ICC?s investigation. ?I request the ICC to furnish us [with] evidence on the involvement of [Ntaganda] in the crimes in Ituri,? said Nkunda. ?I?m waiting for an ICC delegation here for that purpose.?

Nkunda said that before he would cooperate with the ICC with his chief of staff, he would need to verify the accuracy of the evidence again Ntaganda. ?I personally have to verify [the] evidence in Ituri and not in The Hague,? he said.

An international arrest warrant was issued against Ntaganda by the ICC in April 2008 for crimes he allegedly committed between 2002 and 2003 in Ituri. Four others from the region have been arrested on ICC warrants ? only Ntaganda remains at large. Despite the indictments and an on-going investigation by the ICC in eastern DRC, little has changed and it appears no efforts are being made to arrest Ntaganda.

Nkunda and his CNDP, a political and military organisation which controls a large area in North Kivu, meanwhile, have on the whole cooperated with a wide-ranging peace agreement among militias that was signed in January in Goma, the capital of North Kivu. Although units of Nkunda?s army have reportedly clashed with Rwandese Hutu militia fighters of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, FDLR, who also operate in the region.

Ntaganga is currently in command of Nkunda?s troops, a position he has held for two years. Ntaganda is known to be in the area, but Nkunda did not reveal his exact location. Nkunda believes that his commander has been unfairly selected for prosecution, even though many others, including some high-ranking government officials, have also been implicated in atrocities committed in the region and not been charged. ?Those who committed crimes in Ituri are in power,? he said.

Nkunda explained that in 2003, Ntaganda was deputy commander of the Union of Congolese Patriots, UPC, a militia headed by Thomas Lubanga, who currently faces a trial at the ICC. At the time, Ntaganda took orders from General Floribert Kisembo, who was Lubanga?s chief of staff. Kisemba is now a top commander of the DRC army in Maniema province.

?The arrest warrant should target authorities in the government and the army before involving Bosco Ntaganda,? said Louis Hamuli, a political representative of Nkunda?s organisation. ?People should know that those who committed killings in Ituri are well [known]. Most of them were appointed [to] high positions.?

Nkunda insists that Ntaganda is a ?small fish? and argues that as he?s ?neither a partner of the Rome Statute nor a member of the ICC?, he has no obligation to cooperate.

But the ICC spokesman in the DRC, Paul Madidi, said Nkunda should cooperate. ?If the CNDP thinks that Ntaganda did not commit any crime, it has to hand him over to ICC. This court will give Bosco Ntaganda an opportunity to defend himself or with the help of a lawyer who will be provided to him,? Madidi told IWPR.

According to the Rome Statute, the government is obligated to cooperate with the ICC in the arrest of presumed criminals. Although the DRC has arrested ICC suspects in the past, this appears unlikely to happen with Ntaganda, however, because he is in the area firmly controlled by Nkunda.

United Nations forces in the area, MONUC, however, have expressed willingness to help. But the threat of UN involvement in the arrest does not concern officials in the CNDP.

?MONUC has attacked us [along with] the governmental forces [before],? said a CNDP officer, who preferred not to give his name. ?If (MONUC) dares arrest [Ntaganda], it will [face] us.?

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API#Source.Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), by Jacques Kahorha

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Mozambique: Miners face discrimination

Posted by African Press International on June 19, 2008

Maputo (Mozambique) – The bulk of Mozambican miners working in SA and who are HIV-positive are not protected by law against discrimination, a representative of a Mozambican employers’ association against Aids said in an interview on Monday.

Irene Afonso, communications officer of the Mozambican Employers’Association against Aids, said the situation had resulted in a lot of Mozambican miners who were infected with the HIV virus to be discriminated against by their employers.

“There is an agreement between the governments of Mozambique and SA, signed in 1988, on the contracting of the workers but in the clauses it does not mention issues regarding the health of the miners,” she told Sapa in an interview on the margins of a four day national Aids conference in Maputo.

Afonso said while miners were contracted to work on the mines for periods of up to 12 months before they could go on a month long leave period, there was no legal instrument in their contract to facilitate the visit of their wives of partners.

“It is during this period that miners engage in promiscuous relationships, putting them at risk of getting infected with HIV,” she said.

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API#Source.South African Press Association (Sapa)

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South Africa: ?State is dragging its feet?

Posted by African Press International on June 19, 2008

The intended reintegration of foreign nationals into the communities ? which was supposed to be concluded within a month ? might not happen soon.

A study conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) to investigate the underlying causes of the attacks has found that the government has failed to engage with communities about their grievances.
The report says the attacks should have been predicted because of the country?s long track record in using violence as a means of protest.

?Every time there are protests in the communities violence is used,? the report says. ?It has become a disease.? ?If government does not engage with the sentiment expressed by ordinary residents that foreign nationals should leave the country, the risk is that these feelings of alienation between the government and South African citizens will deepen and the possibility of successful reintegration … will be diminished.?

The government had given displaced foreign nationals two months to reintegrate into their communities or return to their countries following the xenophobic attacks a month ago.

The role of the government, immigrant influx , the impact of migrants on gender dynamics, the pace of housing policy, the politics of economic livelihoods and the competition for resources are identified as being critical to the emergence of tensions.

The HSRC has invited Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya to receive the report.

He said: ?We did not do enough in educating the masses about the help we received from African countries during the apartheid era. ?History should not be treated as a minority in schools. Children should be taught about who they are and where they come from and about other countries.?

The HSRC recommends that a national summit on foreign nationals and immigrants be held, that local community forums on migration be formed, that an audit of RDP houses and the development of policies be conducted, that there should be border control and that the government must deal with corruption at the Department of Home Affairs, local government and the South African Police Service.

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API#Source.The Sowetan (South Africa)

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South Africa: Crime wave amid soaring petrol prices

Posted by African Press International on June 19, 2008

Petrol stations are seeing an increase in theft due to skyrocketing fuel prices, and in many instances stolen licence plates are being used, says Peter Noke, director of the SA Petroleum Industry Association.

Loading up on petrol and fleeing the station without paying has soared in the past couple of months. Perpetrators have made it more difficult for authorities to take criminal action because they are using undocumented or stolen licence plates when refilling their fuel tanks.

According to Noke, a petrol station in Pretoria had R 2 570 worth of fuel stolen on Wednesday. Beeld reported the crime and included a picture of the thief, sparking a series of responses from previously robbed petrol stations. Noke said an Engen petrol station employee recognised the thief’s picture as that of a man who had stolen fuel from his business in April.

A car without licence plates had pulled into a Groenkloof, Pretoria, station in April and parked at the last pump. The driver had asked the petrol attendant to fill tanks in the back of his car while he filled his own vehicle. The thief had then told the attendant to get him oil, but when the attendant returned the car was gone.

Noke says stories like these are becoming more and more common. “Fuel prices are at an all-time high. People are doing everything they can to survive. Tricking petrol stations is just another way to combat the high prices. It’s something that petrol stations and the police need to work on together.”

Authorities advise petrol stations to be wary of cars without licence plates. They also caution drivers to keep a keen eye on their own plates; thieves can easily escape undetected under the guise of someone else’s licence plate number.
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API#Source.Cape Argus (South Africa). by Chelsea Laun

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Uganda: Police should protect, not impede liberties (opinion)

Posted by African Press International on June 19, 2008

The recent Constitutional Court ruling on the role of the police force in organised public assemblies and demonstrations has attracted mixed reactions and varying interpretations from the public.

Various interested parties have made differing interpretations presumably to suit their competing agendas. Sections of the society have the misconception that the court ruling generally rendered the broad functions and role of the police in maintaining public order and peace redundant. As a result, both the public and the leadership of the police force are at loggerheads over whether the police have any role left in policing public assemblies and peaceful demonstrations.

This misunderstanding can also best explain the events of last week when opposition members of Parliament walked out of the Budget presentation session in protest of police brutality.

The MPs? action was justifiable given the manner in which highhanded police officers bundled two female legislators in a very indecent manner. From press reports and television images, surely the police officers involved in the fracas with the MPs acted unprofessionally. The Constitution Court specifically examined the powers of the police under section 32 (2) of the Police Act which hitherto, allowed the Inspector General of Police to prohibit (stop) the convening of public assembly or processions.

The petitioner in the case expressed worry that the police was becoming increasingly partisan by blocking the political activities of political opposition parties. The petitioners argued that the unfettered discretion on the part of the police contravened the freedoms of equality, expression , movement and assembly. On the other hand, the Attorney General argued that the police powers as provided for under Article 212 of the Constitution read together with Article 43 allowed for restrictions on the enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms in public interest.

Court rejected the AG?s arguments because Article 20 of the Constitution provides that fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual are inherent and not granted by the State. And that the rights and freedoms of the individual and groups shall be respected, upheld and promoted by all organs and agencies of the government and by all persons.

The court noted that for the police to evoke Article 43 to limit individual freedoms, the grounds for such limitations must be sufficiently important and they should not be arbitrary, unfair or based on irrational considerations. The court also noted that a society, especially a democratic one, should be able to tolerate a good deal of annoyance or disorder so as to encourage the greatest possible freedom of expression , particularly political expression.

So, did the Constitutional Court ruling bar the police from exercising their duties to maintain order at public rallies and during demonstrations? No. In fact, the court noted that the right to a peaceful protest is not absolute. The police have a wide range of powers to control and restrict the actions of protesters.

But the court stated that the police?s powers should not be exercised in an unaccountable and discriminatory manner. In a nutshell, the meaning of the ruling is that the police?s powers should be regulatory but not prohibitive. This same notion is captured in international legal instruments that govern civil policing. In a democracy, the police should serve to protect and not impede civil liberties.

The police should work to create an enabling environment where civil liberties can be realised. Use of excessive force to a degree that police officers can attempt to ?lift? a female MP?s skirt is deplorable. However, the police-MPs fracas also exposed the lopsidedness of our Parliament in dealing with the problem of brutality of our armed forces. Parliament should not wait for their own to suffer the excesses of the police and other related abuses by the State before it acts. The last thing Ugandans want to see is a violent police force.

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API#Source.The Monitor (Uganda) by Moses SSerwanga

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More questions than answers on the marine cable project

Posted by African Press International on June 18, 2008

Story by JAINDI KISERO

TREASURY PS JOSEPH KINYUA has directed that the process of choosing the select group of private sector players to partner with the Government in the ownership of the multi-million shilling East African Sub Marine System Project (Teams Ltd) be handled by the Privatisation Commission under the chairmanship of a respected academic, Prof Peter Kimuyu.

Teams Ltd is an initiative of the Government and Etisalat of the United Arab Emirates, in which the parties have agreed to build the first undersea fibre optic cable between Mombasa and Fujaira in the Emirates.

Some 11 private sector players were recently selected to own shares in the company, under what the Government is presenting as a private-public partnership deal.

These circumstances have kicked up an intense war between the major telecommunications companies over the ownership of Teams Ltd, with companies left out of the lucrative deal claiming that the process of privatising the company had not been conducted transparently.

Literally, all the major telecommunications companies in this country are lobbying to get a piece of the action, counting on the fact that the value of the company will rise astronomically once the project goes into commercial operation next year.

There have been suspicions that well-connected operatives have lobbied to ensure their cronies get a share of the family silver on the cheap.

So, preponderant have been the claims and counterclaims surrounding the deal that the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission officials last month jumped into the fray by launching investigations into the manner in which the privatisation process was handled.

KACC is also interrogating the circumstances under which market regulator, the Communications Commission of Kenya was made to issue a $60 million guarantee to enable the construction and laying of the cable to commence.

I gather that the Office of the Prime minister also recently summoned Ministry of Information and Communications officials to ask question about the privatisation of the project.

In my own view, Mr Kinyua deserves congratulations for directing that the responsibility of managing the privatisation of Teams Ltd be transferred to the Privatisation Commission.

The commission is better placed to investigate some of the allegations surrounding the deal because, as opposed to the institutions handling privatisation currently, this body is bound by law to apply stricter rules of transparency and disclosure when overseeing a privatisation projects.

Prof Kimuyus team should investigate and determine is the following. First, is there substance to the claim that the procurement of the 11 private sector players in Teams Ltd was done irregularly?

WERE ALL THE PLAYERS IN THE TELEcommunications industry given an equal chance, and on what basis were the companies selected?

Second, considering that the billions of shillings the Government has so far spent on the project, including the $60 million guarantee by the CCK which more or less covers the cost of completing the cables construction, wouldnt public interest be served better if the sale of shares in the company to private sector players was delayed until the cable comes to commercial operations next year?

Third, what can be done to ensure that the Government reaps maximum shareholder value from the investment it has put into the project?

I say so because billions of shillings in public resources have had to be sunk into the project , including the millions that went into paying for the feasibility studies.

The marine survey alone was done at the cost of $2.7 million. The Government paid millions of shillings to Standard Chartered Bank, the financial arranger, and for the initial down-payment to the contractor.

In contrast, the 11 selected companies have so far only signed escrow agreements committing them to pay 5 per cent of the money they intend to put into the company.

According to the arrangement, the next stage will be for the companies to sign a shareholders agreement with the Government committing them to pay the full amount of the shares they have been allocated.

And, once they pay, the arrangement is that the Government will be relieved of its pro rata part of the financial obligations to the project.

The Ministry of Information and Communications say the project has been modelled as a unique public private partnership where the government is facilitating the private sector to enable them to provide cheap bandwidth to the fast-growing information and telecommunications sector.

The ministry insists that the 11 companies will bear the greater part of the financial burden of the construction.

Yet, whichever way one looks at it, this is a project that reached financial closure long before these companies committed a cent.

Right now, if some problem was to occur, it is the Government that would have to bear the risk.

Prof Kimuyu must make sure that another Mobitelea does not happen under his watch.

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API.SOURCE.NATION.KE

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Escalating violence in Somalia causes civilians to loose their lives

Posted by African Press International on June 18, 2008

By: Yusuf Haji Hussein, API staff writer in Mogadishu, Somalia.

Mogadishu-Somalia (API); Five people were killed and many morewere injured in heavy battle between Ethiopian and government troops combined against the insurgent forces in a separate area in Mogadishuon Tuesday night, residents confirm to API.

Opposition warriors have opened fire and motor shellson the Ethiopian and government base solders at Afoloransa junction Wardeglay district. Both sides were heard exchanging fire.

It was a scary night, because the light of the bullets have been seen, old women and a children died after the moto shells landed on the neighbouring houses. Five were wounded; according to an observer Mohamed Omar who narrated the story to API last night.

Three people are said to have been killed in a separate incident at Menada building of Suka Holaha district in north Mogadishu, with three being wounded. All are said to hbe civilians.

These conflicts which escalated in Mogadishu come after U.N-brokered peace talks between TFG leaders and the opposition Alliance based in Asmara. The parties agreed on a cease fire in Djibouti conference on 9 June which now seems to have no effect.

Somalia slipped into anarchy after the overthrow of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, resulting inclan based fightingin all Somali regions.

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African Press International – api

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Kenya: Famine forces clansmen in Baringo to eat wild fruits

Posted by African Press International on June 18, 2008

<By Leo Odera Omolo

More than 45,000 people living in Silale and Kositei villages in the newly created Baringo East district are starving to deathas persistent lack of rainfall continues to hit the area.

Reports emerging from the area says that many families have been surviving on wild fruits which are also hard to find. Children, elderly people and women are the most affected.

A resident of Kabarnet told this writer that the situation is so pathetic with unconfirmed reports of several casualities..

A recent KTN report shocked Kenyans when men, women and children were seen by viewers in wild chase of rats and mouse in the thick bushes for their meal, signifying the high degree of hunger facing the communities in the region.

Fears persist that many parts of Kenya would soon follow suit, though the government recently announced that it was importing 3 million bags of maize from a foreign source. The Minister for Agriculture William Ruto had assured the nation that there was nothing to worry.

In some regions of Kenya, especially the tradition maize growing areas had experienced total crop failure owing to the scarcity of rain. Maize is the food the majority of Kenyan communities depend on. Its market price has gone up by nearly 80 per cent. In some places, 2kg of either maize or maize flour is costing close to Kshs 100/- which is unaffordable to many poor rural families.

Regions like Trans-Nzoia, Trans-Mara, Uasin Gishu, Bungoma, Molo, Migori, Kuria, Nandi, Kericho had experienced crop failure due to the unpredictability of the weather. The post-election chaos early this year has largely contributed to the on-going state of famine in the country. In some places, tribal skirmishes had forced maize farmers out of their farms. They fled while abandoning their maize in the field, which was eventually harvested by thugs and goons..

Still heeling from the aftermath of post election violence, residents of the agriculturally richNorth Rift had high expectation on this years budget, which was read in parliament by the Finance Minister Amos Kimunya last week. To save them from the sky rocketing food prices.

Trans-Nzoia and Uasin Gishu districts are the bread basket of Kenya, But there is hardly enough grain for sale to the famine stricken members of the public.

Even worse still, post election violence in January and February had led to more families going hungry because no meaningful farming activities took place during the political upheaval.

In Burnt Forest areas within the Uasin Gishu district, looting, arson and wholesale destruction of plantations rendered the economic life virtually desfunctional.

Kenyan farmers were also expecting some money to be allocated towards buying their farm produce when they harvest later this year. Measures to cushion them from drought should also be tailored into finance Minister Kimunya,s budget last week{2008/2009}. Kenyan farmers are anxious lots. They have many problems and they have been waiting for the government to provide the solution in this years budget.. But according to the agriculture minister Ruto very little was given to the Ministry

Following the post election chaos early this, farmers, particularly those living in the maize producing regions in the North Rift were expecting this years budget to subsidise when they harvest later in the year..

The subsidies should have come during the planting season of the main staple food, but we still need them to plant the short-term crops, said one farmer in Eldoret Town. Mr. John Cheruiyot of Sergoi said that the production of maize and wheat would suffer this year as most farmers were unable to afford fertilizers whose prices sky rockted from Kshs. 1.650/- to kshs 4,000/ for a bag of 50 kg.

A recent survey conducted in Baringo East revealed a grave situation one of human being competing for wild fruits with domestic animals, especially goats and donkeys.

At a village called Kositei in Chemelinget Division, school chidren have been forced to forfeit their studies and abandoned learning in schools as they accompany their parents to the hilltop and forests to look for wild fruits traditionally known as Sirichon in the bushes.

This fruit is pounded before being boiled in three different stages to remove the bitter taste and to make it soft. The boiling takes at least 24 hoursif the fruits were still fresh, but sometime boiled for two days when they are dry.

According to the locals, food especially the common ugali {kimiet} that is favorite meal almost every household in the country is now increasingly becoming a rare commodity and a rare thing as some residents said they last tested the precious meal some six months ago, and have only been surviving on wild fruits., t

.

One 75 year old resident and a widow reported that her husbandsuccumbed to death three weeks ago as his thin body could not survive for another day after going without food for more than two weeks. The incident could not be confirmed immediately. The widow Mrs Chebeteltes Lochab a mother of eight said her own chances of survival were also slim because she cannot climb up the trees for harvesting the wild fruit due to her age coupled with a broken arm

Suffering of many people in Baringo East is evidenced as emaciated children emerged from one of the hats. Locals are really staring at starvation in the face.

One civic leader Clr Daniel Tumsis said the problem is getting worse day by day and several people have died in Kositei Ward. We have a record of seven people in the bushes because they are so weak that their relatives have abandoned them behind as families scampered for the wild in search of the now scarce fruits.

The civic leader said several attempts to get any assistance in the form of relief food from the government have been fruitless as they only give empty promises. He alleged that the government has neglected them and wondered who to turn to next.

A recent visit to Chemelinget shopping centre which has the new district headquarters, essential commodities were very expensive as unscrupulous traders take the advantage of the worsening situation. A kilo of maize flour goes for 100shillings, so expensive that onlya few families can manage to raise.

Many families in the area have been forced to flee their homes and migrate and were seen settling along Kotidoe River, the only available water source in the area. We were tired of trekking for a long distances looking for water said Chepurai Longolesia, adding that we came to live near the river because we use a lot of water in cooking wild fruits.We used to walk for more than 20 kilometres to fetch water..

The civic leaders reported that it has been very difficult for the villagers as livestock auction they depended on were closed due to quarantine in the area following the outbreak of peste petit rumantes disease three months ago.

One person alleged that the last time they saw an Assistant minister and the MP for the area Osman Kamama was when he was serving as the Minister for Public Service shortly before he was relegated to an Assistant minister position in the Ministry of education in the grand coalition government.

In the neighbouring Baringo North district the situation is the same and so is west Pokot. The acute shortage of food has also spread into Turkana district, and in other districts in Western, and Nyanza provinces where close to 100,000 people are facing hunger.

Ends

leooderaomolo@yahoo.com.

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API

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Tanzanian band takes on Europe

Posted by African Press International on June 18, 2008

You have been sent news by msema (msemakweli2007@yahoo.com) that appeared on www.bizcommunity.com.

Comment: Good news for east african dance music

The Ngoma Africa band, a Tanzanian band based in Germany has released a new single CD Apache Wacha Pombe, which means, Apache stop over drinking alcohol. And by all accounts, it’s a hit in Europe!

This danceable song composed by bandleader Ebrahim Makunja aka Ras Makunja “bwana kichwa ngumu is about a poor man called “Apache” who spends all his meagre income in alcohol instead of taking care of his sweet family.

The song reminds people like Apache to invest in the education of their children so that they can build a better future. It reminds them that they have to think of their families instead of wasting their money entertaining friends with drinks.

On this new hit, Ras Makunja sings together with Soloist Christian Bakotessa aka Chris B.

Apache is said to be already dominating many radio stations in Europe and some radio in East Africa with their style of music, which the reckon is a fusion of Tanzanian “Bongo Dance” with East African rumba.

The have also maintained the tradition of singing in Swahili.

Listen on http://www.myspace.com/thengomaafrica

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API

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Obama magic

Posted by African Press International on June 18, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmial.no

<Story by Harrison Mwirigi Ikunda

THERE have been stories doing in the media on the good effects Obama victory in the Democratic race and if he wins in the US presidential election this year could have on Africa. First, let his victory not be seen purely on race harmony and care giving basis. It would first and foremost be good to US as a country. After the two terms presidency of George W. Bush and the Republican presidency a break is quite necessary.

Secondly, and due to the same reasons advanced above, the victory would be good to the entire world. During the George W. Bush’s leadership the world has not become safer despite his hawkish and rough style of readership. A leader with a larger and superb soft skills combined with the same force is apparently necessary. This is where Barrack Obama fits the bill.

Thirdly a relatively younger blood would engineer some radical reforms as opposed to the kleptomaniac conservative style which has a good reservoir in John McCain and Hillary Clinton. Looked closely, there is no much difference between John McCain and Hillary Clinton. They are two sides of the same coin.

Clinton reluctance to drop out of the democratic race when it has been apparent that her candidature for the main race is not viable at this juncture is borne out of various factors. Among them is that first all along up to when nominations began she looked the favourite. Secondly, having been a first lady she could not fathom that a neophyte of Barrack Obama type could outshine her. Thirdly, her husband having been a popular former president she reasoned that this granted her automatic success. Fourthly, she thought that the race factor would greatly derail Obama. Fifthly, it all seems that her former husband Bill Clinton failure to openly and strongly support his Vice- president Al Gore during the 2000 presidential campaign was a strategic move for the VP to fail so as not to derail the chance for his wife who was strategically getting the New York Senate seat en-route to bid for the presidency. Who said that it is only in Africa where power is too sweet to imagine leaving it!

Obama starts the race as the favourite to clinch the US presidency this year. Another term for republicans would leave the world very probably worse with raging insecurity and highly inflamed hatred passions. Obama presents a new face, a new generation, new ideas, a new America and hope to many young people who are tempted to lead wasteful life. Here is somebody who is out to prove that America is still the land of opportunity and that America is not bereft of ideas and that the world can be changed for the better.

However he has too many hurdles to overcome and not least the issue to do with race and class. Let it not be forgotten that even though many analyst take such dim views of George W. Bush presidency, he won two terms successfully in as much as the first was won controversially. Additionally Bush legacy is not all about failure. Let it not be forgotten that it is Bush who appointed the first black as his first secretary of state. It is Bush who during the second term appointed another black as secretary of state. It is Bush who has been pushing dictators in the world especially in Africa and Asia to the wall. It is Bush who though many thought he would forgot poor regions of the world such as Africa who has proven different and actively engaged Africans to sort some of their perennial problems. Bush failure is largely viewed in terms of the Iraq mis-adventure, the never ending conflicts in Middle East, American economy doldrums, his handling of hurricane Katrina, global warming crisis among others. But has not failed entirely as some would want us to believe.

A warning shot to Africa though. Obama may be good for Africa but first and foremost he is an American and America is at his heart. He is unlikely to jeopardize American interests in pursuit to sort others. The pint is that he has the right frame of mind and brings in flesh paradigm shift in American politics. He has the drive, intellect and energy to make America a better, friendlier and liked state. The upshot is that he represents change!

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API

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Sudan: South adopts gender policy for the region

Posted by African Press International on June 18, 2008

Juba (Sudan) ? The autonomous Government of Southern Sudan on Friday passed a Gender Policy for the region to address issues of inequality related to gender.

Presented by the Minister of Gender, Social Welfare and Religious Affairs, Mary Kiden Kimbo, the document highlighted gender issues in relations to girl-child education, maternity health care, poverty, food security, access to land, gender-based violence and decision-making in public and family affairs.

In defense of the document, Minister Kiden argued that there was need for a gender policy framework to reverse history of discrimination against women in Southern Sudan particularly by cultural and customary norms of life that ?dehumanize and subordinate? women in public and family life.

The document discourages early marriages of young girls and promotes easy access to education by girl-child. It also calls for giving special consideration to establishing maternity health care centers up to the Buma (local) level of governance in order to avoid numerous deaths of women during child delivery in the region.

While praising the SPLM Chairman Salva Kiir Mayardit for his commitment to fulfill the 25% allocated to women in accordance with the provision in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the document calls for establishment of special programs that would empower women to create enabling environment and potential for them to qualify in occupying such allocations.

?Gender equality cannot be achieved without women empowerment,? argued the Gender Affairs Minister Mary Kiden, adding that women have only occupied an average of 18% out of the 25% allocation per the CPA.
Minister Kiden however commended certain state governments in the South for fulfilling the allocation and sometimes exceedingly up to 30%, which she said was the universal agreed upon percentage of special allocation for women.

After it was passed by the Council of Ministers under the chairmanship of the region?s President Salva Kiir Mayardit, the Gender Policy document will then be presented to the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA) for final endorsement before it comes into effect.

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API.source.Sudan Tribune, by James Gatdet Dak

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Zimbabwe: MDC secretary general to appear in court today

Posted by African Press International on June 18, 2008

Harare ? Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party secretary general Tendai Biti is expected to appear in the High Court today to face treason charges as President Robert Mugabe tightens the screws on the opposition ahead of a presidential run-off election later this month.

Biti, arrested last Wednesday as he landed at Harare International airport, faces the death penalty if convicted of treason but the MDC at the weekend dismissed the charges against its secretary general as false and based on a ?fake? document written by the government?s spy Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).

?He has not been formally charged but the police have said they want to charge him with treason arising out of what is obviously a fake document, headlined “Transitional Mechanism” which was concocted by the CIO,? MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said in a statement. The police allege that the ?Transitional Mechanism? document was authored by Biti and that it outlined a plan to seize power unconstitutionally.

Biti ? who was brought to court on Saturday in leg irons and amid high security ? publicly distanced himself from the document when it first surfaced two months ago. The police also say that want to charge Biti with ?communicating statements prejudicial to the state? for allegedly announcing that the MDC and party leader Morgan Tsvangirai had won the March presidential and parliamentary elections instead of waiting for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to announce official results.

The ZEC later confirmed the results announced by Biti although the commission said Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe but failed to secure the margin required to take power warranting a second round ballot on June 27.
Meanwhile, in a rare reprimand, Botswana last week summoned Zimbabwe?s ambassador to that country to protest about Biti?s arrest and the repeated detention of Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai has been detained on no less than five occasions in slightly over the past two weeks while on the campaign trail, in what the opposition leader is an attempt by the government to derail his drive to end Mugabe?s decades-old rule. ? ZimOnline

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API.source.Zimonline (South Africa/Zimbabwe), by Jameson Mombe

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Kenya: People sound alarm over high food prices

Posted by African Press International on June 18, 2008

The spiralling prices of basic food commodities fuelled by inflation, the post-election crisis and high production costs are forcing Kenyans to cut down on their meals every day.

A survey by the Nation discovered that prices of essential foodstuffs had risen by more than 50 per cent in the past six months. As a result, more and more Kenyans are now resorting to the kadogo (small size) economy, where one buys tiny quantities of essential products as the need arises. Among the goods whose cost has risen dramatically since January are maize flour, rice, bread, milk and sugar.

By the weekend, major retailers were yet to reduce the cost of these products although Finance minister Amos Kimunya reduced taxes charged on them in Thursday?s Budget speech. It is now feared that malnutrition might be on the rise as most Kenyans struggle to put a meal on the table. Though the Budget was praised for the initiatives taken to cushion the poor against spiralling prices, it left out fuel, which has contributed to the rising cost of production.

Although oil prices are largely determined by global trends, a large proportion of the pump prices in Kenya are attributed to taxes. Ms Lucy Wangai, an information officer in Nyeri, is one of those who have been pushed to the kadogo economy. With a salary of about Sh40,000 a month and a family to feed, Ms Wangai is finding it difficult to fill her usual monthly shopping basket, comprising cooking oil, sugar, bread, rice, maize and wheat flour, and detergents, among other items whose costs have skyrocketed.

?One has no option. You have to eat even when the cost is on the increase. We are actually leading a hand-to-mouth kind of a life,? she adds. Ms Wangai, who used to spend Sh5,000 on the monthly household budget, now has to spend double the amount.

To adjust with the hard times, consumers have removed items considered ?luxuries? from their monthly shopping list, to accommodate the costly essential products. Days before the budget speech, the Nation traversed the country looking at how Kenyans of all social classes are coping with high inflation that has, for the first time in many years, gone past single digits and now stands at about 26 per cent.

Everywhere, it is the same woeful story. Kenyans, especially those of the middle and lower income groups, have been hard hit by rising prices. The poor have been hardest hit, unable to meet many of their basic needs such as food, shelter and medical, as prices rises to stratospheric levels and wages stagnate. Will the new measures announced by the Finance minister help?

Many of the most vulnerable do not think so.

What many are quick to note is that while the prices of alcohol and cigarettes went up almost immediately after Mr Kimunya finished reading his budget speech, they are yet to see lower prices for bread, maize flour, wheat flour, maize, beans and other foodstuffs, whose taxes were removed.

And there are no signs that the crippling transport costs occasioned by high oil prices, that also affect the cost of production across the economy, will ease any time soon.

Agriculture minister William Ruto attributes part of the problem to poor policies in the agricultural sector. Though policies advocate affordable and quality seeds, prices still remain high. Kenya Seed Company, the leading seed producer controlling 75 per cent of the market has in the past also been accused of producing poor quality seeds

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API.source.Daily Nation (Kenya), by Jeff Otieno

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Kenya: Empowering youth more than tokenism (editorial)

Posted by African Press International on June 18, 2008

As the dust settles on the Budget debate, it is time to examine the fine print of the Government?s finance plan.

One of the key items of last week?s Budget was the allocation of Sh500 million for youth development. Like last year when a substantial sum of funds was allocated to the youth, there is clear understanding that this group requires specific interventions to address their plight. Notably, the Government has set up the Youth Enterprise Fund to provide seed money to support young people to venture into business.

Underlying this is the acknowledgement that young people remain a disempowered lot that operates at the periphery of the economy. They suffer due to rampant unemployment and lack of access to funds and opportunities for gainful engagement. But is funding the surest alternative out of disempowerment? After two years of experimenting with youth funds, there is little to show for it. The allocation is minimal and the mode of disbursement faulty.

Not only do youth groups formed to source for the money receive meagre allocations, whatever they get, except for few cases, has not been wisely spent. Seldom do we see the fund put into strategic investment.
Most of the fund has just ended going down the drain. At any rate, we have not heard of investment clinics rolled out to sensitise youth and equip them with the right skills and attitudes on investment. Whereas the youth fund is a noble idea, it is time the Government used a holistic approach to tackling issues affecting the young people.

One of their grouses is exclusion in governance and decision-making. With octogenarians dominating top political positions and Government appointments, the youth are left to watch things helplessly at the fringes.
This spawns disillusionment, which in turn, leads to criminal tendencies. Not surprising, it?s the youth who took part quite viciously in the violence that rocked the country in the first two months of the year. The point is that tokenism won?t end the youth crisis. A more strategic and forward-looking approach must be adopted.

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API.source.Daily Nation (Kenya)

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