Burundi elections: EAC must help out
BURUNDI HOLDS A CRUCIAL PRESIDENTIAL election this June, and one thing is clear: It is up to member states of the East African Community to ensure that it is free, fair and peaceful.
Even though Tanzania and Rwanda are also going to hold presidential elections, Burundi is a special case, having just emerged from a devastating 10-year civil war. Despite the current peace, Burundi is still fragile and ridden by ethnic suspicions; the EAC simply cannot afford to see the country relapse into violence.
Having held its first ever peaceful elections in 2005 and subsequently joined the EAC in 2007, it is vital that every member country of the regional bloc help Burundi sustain peace and democracy.
Topping the electoral challenges facing Burundi are insufficient civic education and delays in the issuance of national identity cards and voting cards. The voters register also needs more attention, resources and expertise.
It is only last year that Burundi established an independent electoral commission, which could lead to costly mistakes due to lack of experience.
Granted, the challenge for the other EAC members is that some of them cannot be said to have conducted free and fair elections. Can one expect these same countries with manipulable systems to make Burundi a yardstick for future democratic elections within the EAC?
Burundi is facing several challenges in organising free and peaceful elections. The provision on proxy voting — voting on behalf of Burundians in the Diaspora — poses challenges of identification, registration and voting. Moreover, Burundi’s laws are yet to provide for the regulatory mechanisms on the activities of various players including security, electoral officials, the media, observers and civil society organisations.
The history of Burundi elections since 1961 shows that the party in power always loses elections, but is often reluctant to hand over power and sometimes responds by assassinating the winner. In 1961, Prince Louis Rwagasore of Uprona won the elections that brought Independence, but was assassinated three weeks later.
Again in 1993, the then ruling Uprona lost to the Frodebu of Melchior Ndadaye, who was murdered three months later in a military coup. The assassination sparked off a civil war whose aftershocks are still being felt.
In the 2005 election, Frodebu lost to the CNDD-FDD party, which comprised former rebels. There was a general sigh of relief when outgoing president Domitien Ndayizaye conceded defeat and pledged to hand over the reins of power to his successor, Pierre Nkurunziza.
Other EAC member states now have the duty to ensure that this democratic pattern is entrenched. Peaceful elections for the second time in a row should bring about lasting peace and security that in turn ensures economic recovery.
The people of Burundi themselves have recognised that their economy has been destroyed and the society fragile and they can only manage with support from neighbours, the region and the international community. Burundi is a landlocked country that needs access to the ports of Dar es Salaam and Mombasa on the Indian Ocean Coast to export and import goods. The advent of the EAC Common Market will thus definitely spur economic growth in Burundi.
It is encouraging that the EAC Secretariat in November organised a three-day workshop for the National Independent Electoral Commission of Burundi, that also offered training to political parties, civil society, and other stakeholders in how to participate in the civic and voter-education programmes.
Second, the various heads of electoral commissions in other member countries have agreed to form a caucus and work in close collaboration with the Burundi electoral body.
Burundi is facing several challenges in organising free and peaceful elections. There is the provisions on proxy voting—the voting on behalf of Burundians in the Diaspora—who poses challenges of identification, registration and voting. Though the initiative was good, it would require ample time to prepare, besides financial requirements, human resources and logistics.
Secondly, the Burundi laws are yet to provide for the regulatory mechanisms on the activities of various players including security, electoral officials, media, observers and civil society organizations. The other challenge is the decision to conduct different categories of elections on different dates over a period of time. This could be expensive, cumbersome, and cause voter-fatigue.
Rwanda quickly turned into a living hell after missile attack
www.theeastafrican.co.ke/ Sunday, January 17 2010
It destroyed the jet and killed all on board, including Presidents Juvenal Habyarimana of Rwanda and Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi.
August 4, 1993: President Habyarimana and RPF president Alexis Kanyarengwe sign a power-sharing agreement in Arusha, ostensibly signalling the end of civil war; UN mission sent to monitor the peace agreement.
October 5, 1993: The United Nations Security Council Resolution 872 establishes the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) with an initial troop strength of 2,500 soldiers to assist and supervise the implementation of the Arusha Accord.
January 11, 1994: UNAMIR Force Commander, Canadian Lieutenant General Romeo Dallaire, notifies the Military Advisor to the Secretary-General, Major-General Maurice Baril, of plans by the Hutus to exterminate the Tutsis.
April 6, 1994: Rwanda President Juvénal Habyarimana and his Burundi counterpart Cyprien Ntaryamira are killed when two missiles strike the plane carrying them from peace negotiations in Dar es Salaam aimed at implementing the Arusha Accord.
April 6, 1994: RTLM, a Rwandan radio station backed by family members of President Habyarimana, accuses Belgian peacekeepers of having shot down — or helping to shoot down — the president’s plane.
April 6, 1994: Ethnically motivated killings of Tutsis by radical Hutus begin, including in the northern town of Gisenyi, where the mayor calls a meeting to distribute arms and send out militias. Within 100 days, around 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus would be dead.
7 April, 1994: The chairman of the United Nations Security Council invites the United Nations Secretary General to gather all useful information concerning the attack by any means available to him, and to promptly forward a report to the Council.
7 April, 1994: According to a declassified State Department SPOT Intelligence Report, US Ambassador David Rawson receives word that “rogue Hutu elements of the military — possibly the elite presidential guard — shot down the plane. A separate report blames the RPF, which denies responsibility.
12 April, 1994: The Belgian Council of Ministers asks the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to carry out an investigation. ICAO does not consider the attack on the plane to be a part of its mandate as the aircraft was a state instrument in its own territory and was, therefore, not covered by the ICAO international convention. The council president suspends further consideration.
21 April, 1994: The United Nations Security Council, again, invites the Secretary General to report any relevant information concerning the attack.
2 May, 1994: General Roméo DALLAIRE, Commander in Chief of military personnel of the Unamir, confirms by writing to Mr Jean KAMBANDA, Prime Minister of the interim government in Rwanda, of his availability to create an international commission of inquiry.
17 May, 1994: The Security Council adopts a new resolution which reiterates its earlier demands to the Secretary General.
June 1994: Members of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), meeting in Tunis, call for the creation of an impartial commission of inquiry.
28 June, 1994: A report authored by Mr René Degni Segui, a special envoy to Rwanda, on behalf of the United Nations Human Rights Commission, discloses that though the attack on the plane was the cause of the genocide, the United Nations has no available budget for a commission of inquiry into it.
3 December, 1994: A report delivered to the UN Secretary General by a commission of experts recommends the creation of an international tribunal and stresses “the necessity of investigating, inter alia, the attack against the aircraft transporting the presidents of Burundi and Rwanda.”
6 December, 1997: A report by the Belgian Senate states that there is not enough information to determine specifics about the assassination.
21 December, 1997: The central body of the OAU, meeting in Addis Ababa, decides to create an “international group comprised of public figures who are sufficiently objective and perfectly familiar with the region “to carry out an investigation into the genocide in Rwanda, including the death of President Habyarimana”.
3 March, 1998: France creates a “fact-finding mission” on military operations by France and other countries of the United Nations between 1990 and 1994.
15 December, 1998: A report by the National Assembly of France posits two theories — one blaming Hutu extremists and the other the RPF — but makes no determination as to which is more valid.
29 April, 2002: The OAU recommends that “the International Commission of Jurists opens an independent inquiry to determine who was responsible for the attack”.
25 March, 2004: Aloys Ruyenzi, a former bodyguard of Paul Kagame, testifies in Paris before French anti-terrorist magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguière, who is investigating the deaths of the French aircraft crew, that he stood guard on March 31, 1994, as Kagame and five top aides discussed shooting down Habyarimana’s plane. “As soon as President Habyriamana leaves the Arusha meeting and his aircraft is approaching, fire on him,” Kagame is said to have ordered.
March: Magistrate Bruguière’s releases his report, stating that the assassination was carried out on the orders of Paul Kagame.
In 2005: Former RPF commando, Lieutenant Joshua Abdul Ruzibiza, publishes Rwanda: Secret History, recounting his experiences as a lieutenant of the Commando Network, the RPF special forces group that allegedly shot down the plane.
March 9, 2006: Testifying at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Ruzibiza claims to have been part of a unit ordered by Paul Kagame to shoot down Habyarimana’s plane.
11 January, 2010: The Mutsinzi Commission concludes that Habyarimana was killed by his own henchmen who were opposed to the idea of sharing power with the RPF. “I saw RPA soldiers armed with SAM 16 missiles aboard a pickup. They fired two missiles,” says witness.
The first one hit the plane’s left wing while the second destroyed it”, he said.
Rwanda, DRC to spare Nkunda from hangman
By CHARLES KAZOOBA / www.theeastafrican.co.ke/Sunday, January 17 2010
Congolese rebel leader Gen Laurent Nkunda could be the beneficiary of thawing relations between Kigali and Kinshasa as both governments seek a way out of the diplomatic quagmire they find themselves entangled in, as a result of his continued detention in Rwanda.
The subject of war crimes indictment issued by the DR Congo, Gen. Nkunda who leads Congo’s fractured National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), was arrested by Rwanda in January last year at the peak of a joint operation mounted by the Congolese and Rwandan armies to flush rebel elements out of the jungles of eastern DRC.
His subsequent detention and refusal by Kigali to hand him over to the DRC, which still has a death penalty on its books as well as his own legal challenge in Rwandan courts to his continued incarceration had raised questions about his fate.
The EastAfrican has learnt Nkunda’s fate formed part of the agenda of a recent high level meeting between Kigali and Kinshasa with a view to finding a compromise that will save the rebel general from hanging for alleged crimes against his mother country.
Although reviled by Kinshasa and sections of the international community, pragmatists see Nkunda, who has projected himself as a defender of the minority Congolese Tutsi in the east of the vast country, as an essential part of any formula to returning peace to war weary Congo.
Last week, the Rwandan Supreme Court was expected to start hearing Gen. Nkunda’s plea for extradition to Congo but the hearing was deferred to March 1, after the Rwanda Army Chief of Staff Gen. James Kabarebe, who is accused of illegally detaining the rebel chief, excused himself from appearing before court on grounds of his busy schedule.
Through his legal counsel Stephane Bourgon, a Canadian, Nkunda filed a petition at the Rwanda Supreme Court seeking extradition back to his home, protesting against what he described as illegal detention.
But whatever the outcome from the verdict, senior Rwandan government officials privy to details of the numerous meetings between the two neighbours say Gen. Nkunda’s fate will ultimately be determined by what Rwanda and Congo see as the option most likely to advance the thawing relations between the erstwhile enemies and peace and stability in the Great Lakes region.
“We do not mind the concerns of the international community. We are talking about national interests, which will benefit both Rwanda and DRC The Nkunda issue should not be looked at just as an opinion. There are questions but what is important is to bring stability to the region”, a senior official in the Kigali administration who sought anonymity told The EastAfrican.
Rwandan Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo echoed similar sentiments saying legal hurdles would have to be offset by the two governments to address national concerns pertaining to a possible escalation of violence if the Nkunda question is not amicably settled.
“Our concern is the death penalty, which Rwanda abolished but it still exists in the DRC. So our Justice ministers (Rwanda and DRC) are still examining the issue critically, said Ms Louise Mushikiwabo.
With the Congolese army yet to register any significant action against Rwandan Hutu militia holed up in the DRC, analysts say regardless of his present circumstances he faces an indictment and part of his army and senior command have defected to Kinshasa, Nkunda remains a factor and both Rwanda and Kinshasa need to tread carefully.
Rwandan sources say the view from Kigali is that in order to assure long-term stability in DRC and the improving relations with Kinshasa, the indictment against Gen. Nkunda has to be shelved at least temporarily.
Significantly, although the indictments have since expired and need to be re-validated by a Congolese court, this has not happened and no arrest warrants have been issued.
Apparently, other leaders in the Great Lakes have started drumming support for Rwanda’s position to lift the indictment against Gen. Nkunda, a Congolese ethnic Tutsi who fought alongside the Rwandan Patriotic Front during the Rwandan civil war that ended after the genocide in 1994. He later joined the Congolese army that overthrew Congolese dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997.
“Uganda wants a sustainable solution for both Nkunda and the DRC. We hope whatever is the outcome from those talks addresses the objective of all parties,” said Isaac Musumba, Uganda’s minister for Regional Cooperation, adding that the negotiations would produce better results with former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo (Nigeria) and Thabo Mbeki (South Africa) involved.
Stephen Singo, a programme officer in charge of peace and security at the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region said they would endorse a consensual position reached between Rwanda and DRC in disregard of the pressure from the international community.
He said: “Rwanda and DRC said they would handle this (Nkunda issue) at bilateral level. We are waiting to hear from them. We want a peaceful and sustainable solution that will bring stability to the region. Our objective is to promote co-operation between Rwanda, DRC and their neighbours.
Gen. Nkunda’s CNDP demands that there should be an inclusive Congolese National Army without any ethnic discrimination; integrate senior CNDP cadres within the Congolese administration; complete disarmament of the FDLR-RUD/Interahamwe — (militia group accused of masterminding the 1994 Rwanda genocide) and enforce the right of Congolese Tutsis to live and move anywhere in the DRC.
RB leaves for Kigali, Rwanda
Commonwealth Secretary-General to visit newest member Rwanda
pr-usa.net/Sunday, 17 January 2010
Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma will make his maiden official visit to the Commonwealth’s newest member, Rwanda, next week.
He will be in Rwanda 20-23 January 2010, where he will hold discussions with President Paul Kagame, and call on Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo. He is also scheduled to address a joint sitting of parliament.
In Kigali, Mr Sharma is expected to meet leaders of the Human Rights Commission, the National Council of Women, the National Youth Association, the Ombudsman’s Office, and the Electoral Commission.
Commonwealth Heads of Government considered the application of Rwanda for membership of the Commonwealth at their biennial meeting in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago in November 2009, in accordance with the criteria and procedures agreed at their last meeting in 2007. They warmly welcomed Rwanda into the Commonwealth family as its 54th member.
Speaking ahead of the visit, Mr Sharma said: “In visiting our newest member, I am reminded that over six decades this association has brought together countries new and old, large and small, rich and poor. Our highest goals are our values and principles. Our aspirations, and many of our challenges, are the same. Our organisation and its members will always be journeying together on the often rugged and winding paths of democracy, development and diversity. My discussions with President Kagame will revolve around those themes, and the ways in which the Commonwealth can serve the people of Rwanda and pursue our shared goals.”
Source: Commonwealth Secretariat
UPDATE 2-Tullow Oil pre-empts Eni on $1.5 bln Uganda fields
* Uganda government must approve bid
* Tullow will sell the stake to potential partner
(Adds detail, background)
By Tom Bergin
LONDON, Jan 17 (Reuters) – London-based oil explorer Tullow Oil (TLW.L: Quote, Profile, Research) has exercised a right to buy Ugandan oil fields from its partner, potentially derailing Italian oil firm Eni’s (ENI.MI: Quote, Profile, Research) ambition to expand in Africa.
A Tullow spokesman said on Sunday that the company had served notice on Heritage Oil (HOIL.L: Quote, Profile, Research), its partner in the Ugandan fields that had previously agreed to sell them to Eni for up to $1.5 billion.
Heritage and Tullow have found up to 2 billion barrels of oil in blocks around Lake Albert.
Heritage owns 50 percent of Block 1 and 50 percent in Block 3A. Tullow owns half-interests in Block 1 and 3A and also owns 100 percent of Block 2.
The three blocks cover the Uganda side of Lake Albert.
Tullow last year started a process to sell up to 50 percent of its own Ugandan assets, with a buyer expected to be selected early this year.
The spokesman said the Heritage assets will be included in the package being offered to potential partners. This should generate stronger interest in the sale process, analysts said previously of the plan.
“There’s no question of Tullow Oil trying to monopolise Uganda’s oil industry,” the spokesman said on Sunday. The spokesman said the acquisition would need to be approved by the Ugandan government.
Eni has pushed its case with the government, arguing it has the right skills needed to help develop the project which require the construction of crude processing facilities in Uganda and a heated pipeline to transport the waxy crude to the Kenyan coast for export.
Analysts said the deal was likely to have been on the agenda when Italy’s Foreign Minister Franco Frattini met government officials in Kampala last week.
However, Tullow is hoping its good relations with the government and its plans to invite a large international player to buy the Heritage stake plus up to half its own stakes, will swing the decision in its favour.
Heritage and Eni declined immediate comment.
(Editing by Erica Billingham; Editing by Erica Billingham)
By Bamuturaki Musinguzi and Sam Wakhakha/www.theeastafrican.co.ke/Sunday, January 17 2010
The Bunyoro Kingdom’s £500 billion ($313 million) claim for reparation against the United Kingdom is taking an even more serious turn as the monarchy’s representatives now consider taking their case to the International Criminal Court.
The representatives have sought advice from the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda about the possibility of suing the British Government for crimes committed by its soldiers in western Uganda during the colonial period.
“We want to file the case against the Queen of England in the International Criminal Court because we want less state interference in Uganda,” Mr Dodoviko Batwale, one of the representatives, told The EastAfrican last week.
Mr Batwale is among the 10 people representing the indigenous Banyoro from Kibaale District, the territory the British carved out to the Buganda for their support during the campaign to subdue Bunyoro’s six-year resistance (1893-1899) to colonial expansion in Uganda.
“The ICTR Registrar has asked us to submit our evidence before guiding us on how we can proceed on this matter,” Mr Batwale said. “We are gathering the evidence and will take it to Arusha next month.”
The Banyoro have compiled hundreds of reports (evidence) made by British field officers “to plunder and kill” in their original handwriting both in England and Uganda. The records mention vast quantities of ivory, food, cattle, cloth, cultural items looted by British troops, and destruction of villages and slaughtering of civilians by Nubian soldiers.
“British troops totally disregarded the food requirements of the indigenous inhabitants, who were doomed to hunger, starvation, malnutrition and disease, elements that reduced the population from 2.5 million people to a mere 100,000 people by 1900,” the Banyoro claim.
The kingdom’s most powerful King (Omukama), Cwa II Kabalega, fought British forces from December 1893 up to April 1899, resisting colonial domination and alien occupation.
Britain occupied the kingdom up to 1933, when, under the yoke of colonialism, Kabalega was forced into an agreement with the colonial masters. Bunyoro-Kitara remained part of a British colony until 1961, when Uganda gained sovereignty.
The EastAfrican has learnt that the lawsuits were part of the Queen’s agenda when presided over the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) in 2007. But, somehow, the Banyoro were left out of the talks between England and Uganda.
“After Chogm, President Museveni met us on June 10, 2009 in State House and told as that Her Majesty the Queen of England does not want to be embarrassed, and therefore wants to settle the matter out of court. She has offered £700 million to settle the case. This money will be paid in instalments over a 10-year period,” Mr Batwale said.
“We are disputing the conclusions of the talks between England and the Government of Uganda because we were not part and parcel of the negotiations. And we don’t know whether the £700 million is as a result of our case. Besides, there is no written document to that effect.
The President meeting the Queen was not bad, but we should have been part of the talks. The President promised to meet us again over the same matter, but we have failed to fix an appointment with his office,” said Mr Batwale.
Reported by Bamuturaki Musinguzi and Sam Wakhakha
The secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has come under fire over its handling of the row over ivory trade in the East African region.
Kenya is blaming the secretariat for the dispute that pits it and Rwanda on one side against Tanzania on the other.
The row arose from a petition filed by Tanzania (together with Zambia) to CITES to be allowed to sell their ivory stockpiles, a move Kenya and Rwanda are opposed to, arguing that it could precipitate a flare up in poaching of the endangered African Elephant.
Kenya, which is part of the 21 member African Elephant Coalition, claims that the secretariat is not only not adhering strictly to the rules of CITES, but it is also taking sides in the matter.
“It is inclined towards allowing the trade,” senior assistant director of the Kenya Wildlife Service and head of species and conservation management Patrick Omondi said.
Under the CITES arrangement, the secretariat is responsible for protecting endangered species such as the African elephant through regulation of the sale of its trophies.
Already, Mr Omondi said, top officials of the secretariat are issuing statements delinking the effect of the legal sale of ivory on poaching.
He also expressed reservations with the panel of experts selected to evaluate the bid by Tanzania and Zambia to be allowed to sell their ivory.
According to the procedure laid down under the convention, the secretariat is required to select an independent team of experts drawn from diverse fields such as elephant biology, wildlife trade and law enforcement to consider the pros and cons of allowing such trade in countries that make applications.
The African Elephant Coalition has written to the CITES secretariat to express its opposition to the team’s assessment. The same issues are set to be raised at the conference of parties meeting planned for March this year in Doha, Qatar.
Kenya is also aggrieved that Tanzania did not consult it before presenting the proposal to sell its ivory, even though the two countries share elephant populations.
Lack of a definite structure for dealing with issues relating to ivory trade by the EAC, similar to the one in the South African Development Community (SADC), has been blamed for the current state of affairs.
SADC wildlife strategy
Tanzania, which is also a member of SADC, ascribes to its common strategy on wildlife issues.
Mr Omondi traces the raging row over ivory trade to the fourteenth conference of parties meeting held at The Hague, Netherlands in 2007.
He states that the meeting’s resolutions as crafted by the CITES secretariat left room for loopholes that are presently being exploited by Tanzania and Zambia.
During the meeting, in which Botswana, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe were allowed to sell their ivory stocks, amounting to 108 tonnes to Japan and China; delegates resolved that after the stocks left these countries, there would be a nine-year moratorium on ivory trade.
However, in the final document that outlined the resolutions, Mr Omondi adds, the CITES secretariat stated that the moratorium would only apply to the countries that had sold their ivory, instead of all the 37 parties.
The nine-year ban was to allow for time to discuss human-wildlife conflict, cross border wildlife movement, wildlife translocation in a bid to build up the populations of the African elephant. It would also allow for monitoring and establishment of reasons behind illegal trade and poaching.
The nine year moratorium was a compromise since Kenya and Mali had proposed a 20 year trade suspension.
The 2007 sale was the second experimental trade in ivory, coming about a decade after the first ever experiment when Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa were allowed to sell 67 tonnes in one shipment.
The Elephant Coalition is developing an action plan that will develop a mechanism for future trade.
A meeting is planned for Brussels in January 22 to 28, by the African Elephant Coalition, to develop a strategy for sealing the loophole that arose from the meeting in The Hague.
The countries are also reaching out to European countries for help in resolving the matter.
Meanwhile, the coalition has reverted back to its demand for a 20 year ban on ivory trade but has pledged to withdraw it in favour of the previously agreed upon nine year period if the proposal is not presented for discussion.
Mr Omondi defended Kenya’s tough stance on the issue of ivory trade and poaching saying that it was guided by facts on the dynamics of elephant populations.
“Kenya has one of the best anti-poaching units in Africa that boasts of 19 light aircrafts and an effective communication system that includes a database,” he explained.
The anti-poaching system is set to be upgraded to move from killing poachers to arresting them alive in a bid to crack the poaching syndicate. A memorandum of understanding has already been signed with the US Marines and the Israeli government.
Kenya, which presently has the fourth largest elephant population (at 35,000) has also been a victim of poachers that saw its elephant populations drop from 167,000 in 163 to 16,000 in 1989 that was attributed to the international trade in ivory.
Even after the two experimental sales in 1997 and 2007, there was a significant flare up of poaching.
Mr Omondi said that, it had been wrong to allow China as one of the buyers of the ivory since it not only lacked structures for stopping ivory laundering, but its nationals have also been implicated in these illegal activities in the past.
Kenya’s commitment to fight poaching was demonstrated in 1989, by the establishment of KWS to carry out wildlife conservation and the burning of 12 tonnes of ivory by then president Daniel Moi a year later.
Mr Omondi said that South African countries support for ivory trade arose because they had escaped the poachers’ illegal activities when the practice was rampant on the continent.
“Most of the South African countries were still under colonial governments and had an effective enforcement system,” he explained.
Experts say that elephants give birth after four years, besides having a complex social life and populations take time to recover after they are killed by poachers for their ivory.
Poaching, which is believed to be stimulated by legal sale of ivory, also results in the killing of rangers and requires huge investment to control.
EAC railway to get $8.15m boost
By CATHERINE RIUNGU /www.theeastafrican.co.ke/ Sunday, January 17 2010
The East African Community priority investment programme has received a major boost with the African Development Bank committing to support the second phase of the region’s railway development.
The pan-African bank will give $8.15 million to finance the study for the viability of the Dar es Salaam-Isaka-Kigali-Keza-Musongati Railway, which seeks to connect Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda.
According to the EAC development programme, the railway line is critical to the reduction of multinational poverty through regional infrastructure development.
On completion in 2014, Rwanda and Burundi traders will have their goods transported in just a day, from the Dar es Salaam port. Currently, it takes at least three weeks for goods to moved by road from Mombasa and Dar es Salaam ports.
It is anticipated that the railway will give rise to the fastest train in the region, which will have a capacity to carry 25 tonnes on each axle pulling 2,000 wagons at a go.
The study will benefit from lessons drawn from Phase I of the project which was co-financed by the bank. It analysed various rail alignments with associated physical and technical constraints, project environmental and social impact.
The study also looked at the economic and financial feasibility and existing institutional framework.
The results were presented to a development partners’ and private sector round table held in Tunis in March last year.
Phase II will focus more on deepening the institutional framework and structuring the project as a Public Private Partnership.
It will analyse the project’s socioeconomic benefits, covering the most vulnerable people who include women, children and rural dwellers. It particularly targets the mining and agricultural industries as well as facilitating low-cost marketing of goods and movement of people.
There will be a comparative analysis of modes of transport including road, rail and a combination of rail-road as well as lake-rail on the corridors to Rwanda and Burundi.
The third component comprises environmental and social impact of the railway project on climate change, spread of sexually-transmitted infections, including HIV/Aids and public security as well as the private sector participation in financing the project and managing railways.
The study will provide the governments of Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi with data and decision-making tools to facilitate the mobilisation of financing, project implementation and railway management. Four mining sites will be connected to the Keza-Musongati Section by 50 km-branch lines. The Project Impact Area covers Rwanda, Burundi and North-West Tanzania (Shinyanga and Kagera regions), with a population of 22.7 million, 53 per cent of whom live below the poverty line.
CONGO RDC :
European football officials making a mountain out of a molehill
When Togo’s national football team settled for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as a spot for last-minute preparation for the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, which kicked off on January 10, 2010 in Luanda, Angola, they could not have imagined what the outcome of the decision would be.
As it is, that decision proved fatal with two members of its contingent dead after the vehicle conveying them to Angola from their camp in the DRC was attacked by separatists in Cabinda,
Angola’s troubled enclave moments after they crossed into Angolan territory on Friday, January 8. The driver of the bus also died with some other members of the Togolese injured.
Following that development and also what the Togolese government felt was the tardy manner in which organisers of the tournament, the Confederation of African Football (CAF), handled the tragedy, the government of Togo ordered the players home on the opening day of the tournament even though a number of players having overcome the shock of the attack, said they wanted to play for their dead compatriots.
The wolves shedding its clothing
The tournament is at the moment in full swing with the scalping of some of the continent’s ‘big boys’ underlining the growing unpredictability of the game in Africa. As Angola, Togo and indeed the rest of the continent try to forget the tragedy; there have been suggestions in the West that perhaps the incident in Angola may reflect the inability of countries on the African continent to take security matters seriously. Specifically, this year’s World Cup taking place in South Africa, has become the target of those in Europe who hold this view.
This thinking crystallised on Saturday, January 9, 2010 when Phil Brown, manager of struggling English Premiership side, Hull City said the attack on Togo’s national football team in Cabinda raises security questions about the World Cup scheduled for June this year in South Africa. Brown, whose team is currently in the relegation zone on the log of the Barclay Card Premiership, and who has two of his players, Seyi Olofinjana of Nigeria and Daniel Cousin of Gabon at the Nations Cup, said: “I am appalled. This throws a question mark against next summer’s World Cup.” He added: “You simply cannot put the safety of players, officials and fans at the slightest risk. That is totally unacceptable.”
Brown’s comments drew sharp criticisms from within and outside South Africa. Danny Jordaan, the CEO of the 2010 World Cup addressing a press conference last Tuesday said it amounted to double standards to suggest that South African was incapable of providing adequate security for the World Cup on account of the incident in Angola.
“Please treat us equally, treat us the same and don’t be judgmental and speculative. Be consistent in whatever you say.” He continued: “It doesn’t make any sense at all and I think we must be careful not to use double standards. If something happens in Germany, we don’t say we must cancel the Premier League. The England cricket team have been in South Africa for more than a month with no security issues. Every country must take responsibility for their security and if there’s a breach in that country that’s just what it is.” On Wednesday, football officials in Germany weighed in on the side of Brown. German football federation (DFB) president Theo Zwanziger, told German daily, Die Welt, that despite statements from Jordaan and others within South Africa that their country should not be judged on the basis of events in Angola, that such a link could not be dismissed.
“The tragedy gives cause for intensive reflection on what has been done for security at the World Cup and above all what has still to be done. The German federation will be looking closely at what can be improved ‘to guarantee maximum safety for our players as well as family, support staff and fans,” Zwanziger said.
His comments came two days after German Football League (DFL) president Reinhard Rauball had stated bluntly in respect of the attack on the Togolese national football team that:
“We must think about how we get a grip on security issues. We can’t simply say that South Africa is something else than Angola.” If Brown and the Germans are worried, Arsenal coach, Arsene Wenger, whose two players, Emmanuel Eboue( Cote d’ Ivoire) and Alex Song( Cameroon) are both on duty for their countries in Angola has called for caution on the part of clubs and football officials. The French man, who said immediately after the attack that he would not be asking for his players to return to England, says incidents like the one in Cabinda can happen anywhere:
“If you organise the European Championship and you have an incident like that – it can happen and has happened – you do not want all your players suddenly to move home,” Wenger said. He went further: “When you hear sometimes there’s unrest in the suburbs of London, you still live well in London. When I speak to my friends in France, they ask me: ‘is a revolution happening in London?’ It’s the same in Paris.
“You immediately think it’s a revolution everywhere. It’s not always the case. You have to judge the place, whether the competition can go on or not, and I don’t know enough about the situation.
Looking for a scapegoat
While it is important that security issues relating to the World Cup in South Africa be taken seriously, it certainly must be noted like Jordaan said that suggesting that participants and visitors to South Africa during the World Cup may not be safe on account of the Cabinda incident, may amount to mischief. Though the Southern African country will be organising its first football World Cup, it is quite experienced in handling major international tournaments.
In the period between its return from international isolation on account of apartheid and now, it has organised a number of high profile sporting events notably the Rugby World Cup (1995), the 1996 edition of African Cup of Nations, the 2003 Cricket World Cup. Last year it hosted the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) Confederations Cup as well as the Twenty20 Indian Premier League Cricket tournament, which was moved there following security concerns. All of these events went off without security glitches.
Sports and terror
One thing the tragedy in Cabinda shows is that for some time to come the sporting world may have to live with the spectre of terror. Given the increasing importance of sports as a platform for building bridges and the concomitant wide coverage given it by television and radio networks around the world, terrorists and other social deviants often find in it an avenue for advancing their cause. The most spectacular example of this was during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, then in West Germany. On September 5, 1972 while the games were on armed men representing the Black September group stormed the Olympic village and abducted some Isreali athletes. At the end of the hostage taking exercise, eleven athletes and coaches had been killed by the terrorists.
That act of terror shook the world and led to the immediate withdrawal of Israel from the games. Egypt, Philippines and Algeria followed soon after as well as American swimmer, the legendary Mark Spitz, who feared that being Jewish, there was the likelihood of his being kidnapped. Also, for the first time in the history of the modern games, organisers suspended the games. There were calls for the cancellation of the games spearheaded by Willi Daume, h
“The games must go on, and we must… and we must continue our efforts to keep them clean, pure and honest” Twenty-four years later at the 1996 edition of the games in Atlanta, Eric Robert Rudolph, a former explosives expert, bombed the Centennial Olympic Park in Atalanta were thousands of people had gone to watch a late night concert. Shortly after midnight, the bomb planted by Rudolph went off killing two people and injuring over a hundred others. As was the case in Munich, the games went on.
Equal to the task
With incidents like this including the one last year when Sri Lankan cricketers were ambushed by gunmen in Lahore, Pakistan, Jordaan and his country don’t understand why they are being put under pressure by events in Angola. Jordaan believes it does not make sense at all.
South Africa’s National Police Commissioner, Bheki Cele, insists his country is not at risk. The security chief, who returned from Angola last Monday after attending a meeting of security chiefs of countries in the sub-region ahead of the Nations Cup.
He insisted there was no need for panic noting that developments within Angola, which is thousands of kilometres removed from South Africa need not lead people particularly those in Europe, to making wild conjectures. Recalling the bombings in Madrid in 2004 as well as the one in London the following year, Cele wondered why concerns were not raised as to the safety of intending visitors and participants at the 2006 World Cup later hosted by Germany.
“So why are they making noise now? The media has now shifted their focus from Angola and now questions South Africa’s security measures ahead of the World Cup. Why?” he asked at a press conference.
“Through this accident we have learned a lesson and we want to assure the world that South Africa is 100 per cent ready for the World Cup,” Cele added.
President Sharif flew from Kenya where he was meeting different foreign officials like his partner, the Kenyan president Moa kibaki, a British diplomats and other officials in the Kenyan capital Nairobi by discussing more on the Somali matters.
The allied troops of AMISOM and the transitional government soldiers had blockaded the long street that connects between the international airport f Aden Adde and the presidential palace during the arrival of the president who lastly reached his house in the capital.
More government and AMISOM soldiers with their military vehicles could be seen around the airport and Mekka Al-mukaram Street which caused to halt the movement of the traffic, people and business around the street as the president was traveling on the road according to the people who were around the areas in the capital.
The TFG president Sharif Sheik Ahmed did not still comment on his trip from Kenya to the journalists in Mogadishu and his arrival comes as there is great dispute between the transitional parliamentarians of Somalis in the capital.
Somalis in Kenya fear retribution after riots
NAIROBI (Reuters) – Somalis living in the Nairobi suburb of Eastleigh fear Friday’s violent protest in the capital against the deportation of a jailed Muslim cleric may stoke religious rifts and make them targets.
While the protest was organised by Kenyan Muslims, many of the marchers who fought pitched battles with the security forces in the heart of Nairobi for more than eight hours were Somalis.
Some protesters carried flags identified with Somalia’s hardline Islamist rebel group al Shabaab and there were reports of mobs attacking Somalis in retribution for the mayhem.
“We warned of a situation like this. It seems Kenyan security forces are simply categorising the whole community as a terrorist group,” said cleric Sheikh Hassan Qoryoleey. “That is not the case. The majority of Somalis are peace-loving people.”
The Kenyan government quickly put the blame for the violence that killed at least one person on extremist youths exposed to “foreign elements” and assured Muslims in Kenya their religious freedom and civil liberties would be respected.
But some Somalis in Kenya fear they will all be tarred with the same brush, despite their warnings rebel sympathisers and hardline clerics were a growing cause of concern in Kenya.
Parents in Eastleigh have been worried for some time that religious schools funded by Somali rebel groups have been recruiting and luring youths to Somalia.
SHABAAB PRAISES DEMONSTRATION
“The (Kenyan) government has played down frequent warnings from ordinary people,” said moderate cleric Qoryoleey. “They are repeating the mistakes of Somalia, where we played down the consequences of extreme ideology.”
Madrassa (Islamic) schools and a radical 24-hour cable channel in Kenya have become new breeding and indoctrination grounds for rebel groups based in Somalia, residents say.
Al Shabaab said on Sunday it was not behind the protest, but praised the marchers for taking up the cause of jailed cleric Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal. The cleric was deported from Britain in 2007 after a jail term for stirring up racial hatred.
“That demonstration is the obligation of all Muslims wherever they are and we praise that,” al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage told reporters in Somalia. “That is the action of pure Muslims.”
A Kenyan Somali who attended prayers on Friday at the downtown mosque where the protest started, said the government should recognise the Muslim community as a whole did not support the aims and tactics of some demonstrators.
“The people have to be careful about what they are doing and the reason they are doing it. This is not a Kenyan or Somali issue. It is not between Muslims and non-Muslims,” said Mohamed Awale, who owns a shop in Eastleigh.
“The hidden agenda was made clear, because the level of the violence shows that there are people who have another intention — covering up themselves as Muslim activists,” he told Reuters.
A mother of six living in one of the many refugee camps outside the Somali capital Mogadishu said the appearance of the al Shabaab flag on the streets of Nairobi was devastating.
“Al Shabaab has left us completely hopeless. We can no longer flee to Kenya — our second Somalia,” said Sahra Hussein. “I was thinking of taking my kids to Kenyan refugee camps. Now al Shabaab has erased the last hope.”
Besides the large Somali community in Nairobi, Kenya hosts some 300,000 Somali refugees in sprawling refugee camps.
Research Claims Angola’s Diamond Sector Underperforming
www.diamonds.net/By Avi Krawitz/ Posted: 01/17/10
RAPAPORT… Angola, the world’s fifth largest diamond producer, is realizing less than 50 percent of its diamond potential, a report by Companies and Markets claimed.
The research notes that state-owned mining company ENDIAMA has around 100 mines throughout Angola that are ready for exploration and of the 61 concessions currently operating, only 14 are said to be producing diamonds.
Companies and Markets reported that while Angola’s diamond mining is mainly made up of alluvial deposits, Endiama is confident that there could be large-scale kimberlite deposits in the country. Given the expense and technical expertise involved in mining kimberlite deposits, ENDIAMA has had to partner with the likes of De Beers, BHP Billiton and ALROSA to develop these projects.
According to Angolan law, companies that wish to explore diamonds in the country have to do so in partnership with ENDIAMA, with their ownership limited to 40 percent, the report noted. Companies and Markets further reported that Angola is looking to adopt a new mining code in 2010 to make the current laws more relevant to the present situation in the country.
Efforts to draft a new mining law have been ongoing since 2006,” the research company stated. “The report will monitor the situation on the ground and report on developments as they occur.”
Angola produced 8.9 million carats of rough diamonds valued at $1.2 billion in 2008, according to the latest data published by the Kimberley Process. The country exported $995.4 million worth of production in that year. Exports are expected to have fallen in 2009 due to the decline in demand due to the global economic downturn.
Nigeria stay alive Ivory
Nigeria, who have qualified for the World Cup in June, secured its first victory in the continental tournament following a 3-1 loss to Egypt.
Shuaibu Amodu’s team now have three points from two games and can still reach the quarter-finals. Benin are tied for third place with Mozambique with one point.
On Friday, 10-man Ivory Coast became the first team to reach the quarter-finals with a 3-1 triumph over severely depleted Ghana in Group B.
It was a polished performance by the Elephants, who were reduced to 10 men on 56 minutes when Arsenal defender Emmanuel Eboue was red-carded for a vicious tackle from behind on Opoku Agyemang with his team 1-0 ahead.
Victory lifted the title favourites to four points from two matches and they will be joined in the knockout phase by Burkina Faso or Ghana, who clash on Tuesday in the final group fixture.
Lille forward Kouassi ‘Gervinho’ Yao put Ivory Coast ahead midway through the first half at the new 20,000-seat Chiazi Stadium, Siaka Tiene scored direct from a free-kick after 67 minutes and Chelsea striker Didier Drogba completed the victory in the final minute.
Ghana got a stoppage-time consolation goal via an Asamoah Gyan penalty after he had been fouled by Souleman Bamba.
“We’re all relieved,” said Drogba. “We were consistent from the start. Even if we had difficulties we succeeded in remaining solid and performing the counter attacks.”
Togo, the other team in the group, withdrew before the tournament kicked off last Sunday after the bus convoy carrying them into Angola was attacked in this restive northern Angolan enclave.
Instead of facing Burkina Faso in the other half of the scheduled double bill at the Chiazi National Stadium, Togo took on journalists in Lome following the funeral ceremony for their assistant coach and media officer, the ambush victims. Thousands of people turned up to watch the match at the city’s main stadium.
“It’s a pleasure and a happy moment, it’s the only way to honour and keep them in our memories,” said team captain Emmanuel Adebayor.
“I think they are somewhere in the stadium looking at us, and I think they are very happy to see us play for them.”
Pele says Mandela may be key to some security issues at South Africa World Cup
BOGOTA, Colombia — Brazilian soccer legend Pele says the presence of aging former president Nelson Mandela could be key to some security issues during the World Cup in South Africa.
Pele told reporters on Saturday in Colombia that he was worried about the health of the 91-year-old Mandela, who serves as a uniting figure for all South Africans.
Pele also said the attack in Angola on a bus carrying Togo’s football team raised security questions about South Africa, a suggestion South African officials have already rejected.
“What happened with Togo had an effect on the World Cup organization,” Pele said. “I hope it turns out well. People are worried about Nelson Mandela’s health. He’s a man that has the support of all South Africans. He has control over everything.
“The biggest worry at FIFA is if something happens to Mandela,” Pele added.
Pele was in Colombia to promote the Copa Libertadores, the South American club championship.
Pele’s latest comments are sure to irritate Danny Jordaan, the chief executive of the World Cup organizing committee. Jordaan said just after the Togo attack over a week ago that it was unfair to link security problems in Angola to South Africa’s preparations.
Despite Jordaan’s statement, South African officials have been asked to explain why similar violence can’t happen when the World Cup opens on June 11.
AFRICA / AU :
HAITI: Africa lends a hand
17 January 2010 / IRIN
NAIROBI, 17 January 2010 (IRIN) – Africa has not been left behind in the scramble to provide international assistance to Haiti.
The following is a list of aid contributions reportedly pledged by African governments in the wake of the 12 January earthquake.
South Africa – The government has announced a three-phase assistance package: deployment of doctors to a search and rescue team led by Rescue South Africa, a non-profit company; deployment of forensic pathologists to help identify bodies; provision of unspecified humanitarian aid in partnership with South African NGOs.
Rwanda – US$100,000, according to Rwanda’s New Times newspaper.
Senegal – President Abdoulaye Wade has pledged free land to Haitians wishing to be “repatriated”, news agencies reported. Spokesman Mamadou Bemba Ndiaye was quoted as saying: “Senegal is ready to offer them parcels of land – even an entire region. It all depends on how many Haitians come.”
Liberia – Independent Star radio reported the government had contributed $50,000.
Nigeria – The 121-strong police contingent serving with the UN mission in Haiti is working with rescue teams in the capital, Port-au-Prince, according to This Day newspaper. The country’s Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan said in a statement: “As the international community mobilizes in aid of Haiti, it can count on Nigeria’s support.”
Nothing works, not even Angola’s army
www.theeastafrican.co.ke/By CHARLES ONYANGO-OBBO /January 17 2010
When the Togolese football team was attacked last week as they crossed from Congo to the Angolan city of Cabinda for their first Africa Cup of Nations games, there was an important sub-story many people missed.
A group fighting for the secession of the Cabinda enclave claimed responsibility for the attack. One of the first reactions of both the Angola government and the Pan-African football governing body, CAF, was that they “were not aware” that the Togolese team was travelling by road from Congo, where they had been training, to Cabinda. Every team, they said, was supposed to travel to Angola by air. The Cabinda capital, by the way, is less than an hour’s drive from the Congo border.
The reason the whole Togo team wasn’t killed, was because they had a security detail that fought off the attackers until reinforcements arrived.
In their attempt to escape accountability, Luanda and CAF were telling the world that a group of over 30 foreigners (including a couple of international football stars) can cross into Angola, get visas at the border, have a security escort assigned to them, and still the big men who are supposed to protect the country (with one of Africa’s most repressive regimes and biggest armies) and run African football didn’t have a clue! It beggars belief.
However, the episode demonstrated one of the reasons why things fail in Africa. People in authority are so terrified of taking responsibility that they would rather bring ridicule upon their countries and paint a picture of their governments as incompetent, than admit that they screwed up.
In so doing, the government of Angola explained why, though it is one of the most mineral-rich countries in Africa, the country remains mired in sky-high corruption and poverty. If they are unable to feel ashamed and apologise without caveats to the Togolese at a time when the attention of the world is focused on the country, it means they are even far less likely to feel accountable to their citizens when the world is not looking.
A report on the BBC before the attack also offered us an interesting glimpse into Angola’s soul: It said that because of the Cup of Nations, the first taxi service had just been launched in Luanda.
One reason the Angolan capital doesn’t have taxi services is that its traffic jams are among the worst on the continent and last so long, it is a common sight to see weary passengers jump out of cars in the middle of traffic and do the rest of their journey on foot. If a taxi cannot get you to a place faster and more cheaply than your own car or feet, then there is no market there to support a cab service.
For all that, it must be admitted that Angola put on a spectacular opening show for the games, and the stadiums it built are fabulous.
Schools without teachers
And that’s one of the biggest problems in Africa, from Alexandria to Cape Town. Governments can build wonderful schools, hospitals and roads, but they are almost unable to establish delivery services. So these wonderful schools have no teachers and offer a shoddy education, the hospitals have no doctors or medicine and therefore offer no healthcare, and the new roads soon fall apart because they are not maintained.
That’s why the Angolan government failed to protect the Togolese. It has all the apparatus of control; the border surveillance, police escorts, Africa’s most fearsome army, but it just was not able to deliver security.
Charles Onyango-Obbo is executive editor of the Nation Media Group’s Africa Media Division. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
AU chief hails Guinea accord towards civilian rule
The ruling junta has also pledged to keep off the next elections.
AU Commission Chairperson Jean Ping lauded the signing of the accord in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso on Friday (15 January), saying it was a ‘positive evolution’ of the situation in the West African nation.
Ping specifically singled out the commitment by the Guinean junta leaders to keep off the forthcoming elections, to be held within the next six months and urged the leaders in the country to continue on the path until the West African nation returns to full constitutional order.
‘The Chairperson welcomes the positive evolution of the situation in Guinea and the progress made towards ending the crisis in the country,’ a statement from Ping’s office said.
Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, who has been mediating in the political crisis in the West African nation facilitated the signing of the landmark accord between the ruling National Council for Democracy and Development (NCDD), the ruling military junta that seized power in December, 2008.
The AU suspended Guinea from its membership after the power seizure and gave the West African nation six months to return to democratic rule under a civilian government.
However, CNDD, under Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, later reneged on its earlier pledge to hand over power to a civilian government and organise presidential elections within a year.
The political stand-off in Guinea continued throughout 2009 and the African Union announced sanctions against the Guinean leader, Camara, who arrived in Burkina Faso after he was discharged from a Moroccan hospital, where he was treated of gun-shot injuries sustained following an attempted assassination.
The Ouagadougou accord gives the majority opposition coalition, Forces Vive, the position of Prime Minister.
The Forces Vives, also known as the Democratic Union of Guinea (UDG), is made up of ten political parties.
It complained earlier of being dropped from the Ouagadougou talks.
Ping said he was particularly impressed with the agreement signed in Ouagadougou on Friday, which notably provides for the establishment of a unity government to be led by a Prime Minister from the Forces Vives and the holding of elections within six months.
He also hailed the commitment of the members of CNDD and the government not to stand for the forthcoming elections.
Some senior politicians within the opposition coalition have also complained that it was increasingly cooperating with the junta leadership.
The opposition was demanding for the junta to leave power unconditionally as part of the negotiations to return the country to constitutional order through elections.
Addis Ababa –
UN /ONU :
U.N. confirms death of Hedi Annabi
“I am deeply saddened to confirm the tragic death of my Special Representative to Haiti, Hédi Annabi,” said the Secretary-General. Hédi Annabi was a Tunisian diplomat and Special Representative to the United Nations Secretary-General, Head of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti. Annabi went missing after the 2010 Haiti earthquake in which the UN Headquarters in Port-au-Prince collapsed. His body was recovered on Saturday, January 16.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that he, along with other United Nations officials, “[…] gave their lives for peace.”
“An icon of UN peacekeeping, there was no better representative of the international civil service,” the Secretary-General lauded. “A mild man with the heart of a lion, he is remembered by those who knew him for his dry sense of humor, his integrity, and his unparalleled work ethic—he was the first in and the last out every day for his entire career.”
Annabi joined the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) in 1992 and served as the Director of the Africa Division from 1993 to 1996. In addition, he was designated as Officer-in-Charge of the Office of Operations of the DPKO in June 1996. He was appointed Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations in January 1997. In September 2007, he was appointed head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
“He was proud of the UN mission in Haiti – proud of its accomplishments in bringing stability and hope to Haiti’s people, proud of his UN staff,” said the Secretary-General.
Along with Annabi, two other United Nations officials are confirmed to have perished: Annabi’s Deputy, Luiz Carlos da Costa, and the Acting Police Commissioner, Doug Coates of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
UN envoy: Somalia conflict has global dimension
‘The crisis can no longer be ignored,’ broadcaster Radio Garowe quoted Ould-Abdallah as saying.
In his latest report for the United Nations Security Council, the UN envoy however spoke of considerable progress made by the transitional government of Sheikh Sharif Ahmed.
According to Ould-Abdallah, Somalia was going from being a failed state to a flawed state.
‘The international community still has some good cards it should play in Somalia,’ the envoy said, calling for greater engagement in the country, which since 1991 has been without a functioning government.
In the past days, nearly 140 people have been killed in fighting in central Somalia. On Saturday in the capital Mogadishu, the body of an aid worker was found. The man had been abducted along with two colleagues the night before.
The UN World Food Programme, which worked closely with the aid worker’s organization, ceased its operations in most of Somalia due to threats from the radical Islamic al-Shabab militia which controls large swathes of south and central Somalia.
Allen Johnson: Reid’s tangled tongue told us more than you might think
It was encouraging to hear Mayor Bill Knight tout diversity as an asset last week,
“I believe this diversity is a source not of conflict and problems, but of strength, creativity and inspiration,” he said. “We don’t just have an amazing community. We have a community capable of conquering challenges working together.”
That surprised and even disheartened some people.
“We elected Bill Knight to bring some common sense back to Greensboro’s city government,” “Sam H.” posted on the John Locke Foundation’s Triad blog, Piedmont Publius, “and if ‘diversity’ has to be sacrificed in the process, so be it.”
Well, it doesn’t. Diversity isn’t as squishy and patently useless as some people would have you think.
It’s about recognizing, respecting and harnessing the talents that people of various backgrounds, perspectives and talents bring to a business or a community. Ideally, it also should enable us to build trust and speak more honestly about difficult issues.
Obviously, we’re not there yet.
Consider the still-simmering national dust-up over what U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said and how he said it. Those comments about President Obama, quoted in the new political tell-all, “Game Change,” were clumsily and tactlessly put.
They also were true.
Reid said during the 2008 campaign that Obama’s status as a “light-skinned” African American “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,” were assets to his campaign.
Of course they were.
Obviously Reid should have chosen his words more carefully — who in the world still uses the word “Negro” in the 21st century? The term isn’t as awkward as “colored,” or as toxic as the n-word, but in most corners it’s considered outdated and even pejorative.
Yet if you were to talk to a random sampling of black folks on the street, as I did the other day, you’d probably hear the same view: Obama’s “crossover” looks and eloquence were helpful to his campaign, especially in appealing across racial lines.
Looks matters in politics even if race isn’t a factor (just ask John Edwards).
As for diction and dialect, I tell young African Americans every day that there’s nothing wrong with using so-called Black English in casual settings, as long as you also have a firm command of standard English — and a clear understanding of when you use one versus the other.
Meanwhile some people suggest that Reid’s comments rank right up there with Trent Lott’s about Strom Thurmond, To quote one familiar Black English phrase, “child please.”
At a party honoring Thurmond’s 100th birthday in 2002, Lott said: “I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.”
Thurmond ran for president in 1948 on a segregationist platform.
For remarks more comparable to Reid’s, consider Joe Biden’s in 2007, in which he said of Obama: “I mean, you got the first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. …”
As if being “articulate” and “bright and clean and nice-looking” are not normally traits of “mainstream African Americans,” whatever that means.
Compared to Reid, Biden’s pratfall over his tongue was much more spectacular — and Republicans are right to complain that Democrats tend to get passes in such instances.
Bill Clinton is getting one now. The same book, “Game Change,” quotes Clinton saying something that appears much worse and newsworthier than Reid’s poorly chosen words.
Clinton allegedly told the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, in a conversation about Obama’s candidacy versus Hillary’s: “A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee.”
Of course, Guilford County has seen its own episodes of “When Words Attack.” In the summer of 2000, John Hammer, the white editor of the weekly Rhinoceros Times, told a black school board member, Keith Green, to “bring it on, boy,” after an enraged Green had hurled a chair at him.
The community dialogue that followed (why is the word “boy” such an especially loaded term when aimed at a black man?) was passionate but actually constructive.
Not many are.
On the eve of another Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, dialogue about race remains too superficial to be useful, rarely lasting beyond the latest quote wars, which will run their cycle on blogs and cable talk shows. Until the next ones.
What’s more bothersome than what’s being said about race in these cases is what isn’t.
Florida to push minority count in US Census
The Associated Press/Sunday, 01.17.10
The state is spending $2.1 million on the campaign. It will target American Indians, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, African Americans and Caribbean Americans, college students, disabled people, Hispanics, the homeless, part-time residents, migrant farmworkers and rural residents.
The state’s nonwhite population increased over the past decade, from 34.6 percent in the 2000 Census to 39.2 percent in 2007.
In the 2000 census, Florida’s response rate was 63 percent. That was below the national average of 67 percent and at the bottom among the 10 most populous states.
Angola uses football to showcase economy
By Alex Capstick/Sports news reporter, BBC World Service /Sunday, 17 January 2010
For a country where 60% of the population lives in poverty last Sunday’s opening ceremony of the Africa Cup of Nations was an extraordinary spectacle.
Never before has a Cup of Nations tournament been launched with such an elaborate and expensive display.
It was Angola’s sales pitch to the rest of the world. The message was clear – “look what we can do, take us seriously, and invest in us”.
Angola vies with Nigeria as Africa’s biggest oil producer. It is the world’s fifth largest exporter of diamonds and can boast one of the fastest growing economies on the planet.
The new found wealth follows almost three decades of civil war.
Hosting the Cup of Nations is an opportunity to showcase the country as an emerging economic power.
Turning a profit from staging the tournament has not been a consideration.
Angola has spent an estimated $1bn (£615m) in building four new stadiums and associated infrastructure.
The work has been almost exclusively outsourced. A Chinese company using Chinese labour has been responsible constructing four gleaming state-of-the-art venues.
They rise impressively out of the dust, but are set to stand empty for most of the year.
A UK firm has laid the pitches, the television pictures are supplied by a French company, accreditation was provided by experts from Germany, the fake shirts available on the street were made in Portugal.
Ticket sales are supposed to provide the main source of revenue for host cities.
Even if all the seats were sold, which they are not, at a cost of $2.50 rising to $13 for the final, the return is minimal.
And it is unlikely to make any immediate difference for the majority of Angolans who already struggle to make a living.
Many of them are angry with the government for lavishing so much money on a football tournament.
Ras Sassa, emerged from a run down neighbourhood next to the sea front in Luanda to speak to me.
He wants to publish reggae music in Angola but his efforts have so far been blocked by the authorities.
“It’s most important for the government to tell us how much it is costing and how much we will benefit,” he says.
“Everybody tells us what a rich country Angola is, but where are the riches? A few people have the money and they control the system.”
‘Good for economy’
Not everyone has such a bleak assessment. Carla Palito works for one of the big oil companies in Luanda’s over-crowded city centre.
“[The tournament] is good for the economy, it’s given a lot of development, it will provide a lot of business opportunities,” he says.
“It will motivate people. Of course it’s sad to see millions [of dollars] spent on stadiums when you have a lot of hospitals and schools to build but I hope that is part of the snowball.”
Certainly those Angolans inside the stadiums have embraced the Cup of Nations.
It has given them an excuse to party, and they have provided a vibrant colourful atmosphere at most of the games.
But when the footballers leave, and life returns to normal, they cannot expect dramatic change.
Hosting the African Cup of Nations may well attract new foreign investment, but in the short term millions of Angolans will continue to suffer from a shortage of basic essentials such as water, electricity and sanitation.
Parks, Mandela letters at MSU
An exhibition of letters from children around the world to former South Africa President Nelson Mandela and civil rights activist Rosa Parks makes its U.S. debut Sunday at Michigan State University.
“What was it like to go to ‘color only’ places?” one child asked Parks. “Personally, I think it would be horrible.”
Siddiqui: Michaëlle Jean and Stephen Harper do us proud in Haiti
Sun Jan 17 2010/www.thestar.com
As we help Haiti, we may also reflect on:
How well the Stephen Harper government and the public have responded – generously and efficiently.
How we are the only nation outside of Haiti with a head of state born in Haiti (while her predecessor was born in Hong Kong).
How, among the Canadians killed in the quake, the Quebec couple, Georges and Mireille Anglade (whom I mourn personally), epitomize, like Michaëlle Jean, the modern Canadian who, while making great contributions to Canada, belongs here, there and everywhere.
Canadians of multiple identities make some uneasy. Even as Jean stirred the Canadian soul with her talk Wednesday, she evinced some negative responses, such as this letter to the editor in the Globe and Mail: “Her emotional TV performance was a disgrace. She put her country of origin before the country in which she holds office.”
Did she, really, by being the humanitarian conduit between Canadians and the desperate Haitians?
Last year, she talked about Haiti to forge an instant bond with Barack Obama. Receiving him at Ottawa airport, she mused about the improbability of the moment, he born in Hawaii and she in Haiti, meeting the way they were. He loved it.
That served Canada well.
Harper’s response to Haiti has been exemplary – setting up the Canadian embassy in Port-au-Prince as “a base camp” for the 6,000 Canadians in Haiti; evacuating many on military aircraft; mobilizing warships and the Disaster Assistance Response Team; having Ottawa match contributions by Canadians, up to $50 million; easing immigration rules to allow more Haitians into Canada quickly; and talking to the Canadian Haitian community.
This is in sharp contrast to Harper’s reluctant relief efforts in Lebanon in 2006. Being more experienced now, he’s said to be using the lessons learned in that disaster.
More likely, he did not want to help the victims of the Israeli invasion he had backed unequivocally. His ministers had avoided Canadian Arabs. His minions had badmouthed the Canadians caught in Lebanon for costing us too much.
Mercifully, there’s no such meanness in Harper’s Haiti effort. He has kept it free of geopolitics and partisanship and thus looked good.
As for the dear departed Anglades, obituaries have noted Georges’ role in founding the Université du Québec à Montréal, teaching geography there while also helping Haiti, from which he was exiled twice. He returned in 1996 to serve as a cabinet minister, and he eventually built a winter home atop a hill, where Mireille and he were crushed by the quake.
He was much more than all that. In 1986, he set up the Haitian Solidarity Movement to oust the Duvalier dictatorship. His 1990 manifesto, Chance is Passing Us By, galvanized the Haitian diaspora he called the tenth province of Haiti.
He collected, created and published lodyans, an oral Haitian tradition of wit and wisdom. Example:
One day two Montreal beggars compete to see who could collect more. One managed only $5, having used the line: “I’m poor, please help me.” The other amassed $95, having told passersby: “Help buy me a plane ticket back to Haiti.”
I knew Anglade as a writer, active on the free speech front in International PEN, the writers’ group.
He was a director of Centre Québécois du P.E.N, and he helped found PEN Haiti as a safety net for writers there should they need it.
“He stood up to the enemies of democracy, human rights and free expression,” said author John Ralston Saul, president of International PEN. “He also spoke up for small cultures in a globalized world.”
In radiating these Canadian values back to his homeland, Anglade enriched both Haiti and Canada.
And in writing about his homeland from his adopted land, he followed another Canadian tradition.
Josef Skvorecky published from Canada a generation of dissident writers from Czechoslovakia and elsewhere, including Vaclav Havel.
Michael Ondaatje writes about Sri Lanka, Rohinton Mistry about India, M.G. Vassanji about East Africa, Reza Baraheni about Iran, etc.
What is Canadian about their work? That it has been produced in Canada, which makes their work possible. It is also Canada that produces a Michaëlle Jean and a Georges Anglade.
Haroon Siddiqui is a director of International PEN. email@example.com
Apologies made, time for action
MICHAEL BLEBY / www.smh.com.au/ Source: The Age/ January 17, 2010
South Africa and Australia have said sorry for the treatment of their indigenous people, but it means little if disadvantage continues.
ON THE surface, Australia and South Africa face different challenges to do with reconciliation. Australia is grappling with the entrenched problems plaguing an indigenous population that makes up just 2.5 per cent of the national total, or 500,000 people. In South Africa, the imbalance continues to affect the nine out of every 10 people who are not white – some 44 million.
But the questions policy makers in the two countries grapple with are similar. As Aboriginal rights advocate Mick Dodson said during a visit to South Africa late last year, reconciliation requires social justice. ”It is the prospect of genuine employment, good health, of choices and opportunities free from discrimination,” the 2009 Australian of the Year told an audience in Pretoria. He made it clear that this was an issue of human rights – and acts such as the apology the then-new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd gave to victims of the ”Stolen Generation” last February, were not enough.
South Africa still is grappling with the question of what is ”enough”, almost 16 years after casting apartheid aside. The country – ruled for four decades by a whites-only regime and for 300 years before that by a white-topped hierarchy – now has, in Jacob Zuma, its third black president since 1994. But how to address the inequality is proving difficult.
Responding to Dodson’s address that afternoon, Jody Kollapen, a lawyer and former chairman of the South African Human Rights Commission cut through the feel-good factor that fogs the issue of reconciliation and insulates against serious consideration of the sacrifices still needed.
”We must ask some tough questions: whether reconciliation has become a nice slogan but shallow, whether it’s become an industry, whether it’s redressed the fault lines of 350 years,” Kollapen said. ”I don’t believe that reconciliation has ever been a substitute for justice. We tend to throw out this term whenever it suits us or whenever we feel a sense of discomfort.”
He could have been talking about Australia. A national Sorry Day is a start, but remains a long way from making the material changes that are needed to bridge the gaps in health, fortune and opportunities between white and indigenous Australians.
”There’s been massive underinvestment for hundreds of years in Aboriginal towns. The normal infrastructure you’d expect in a town of 1000 people just doesn’t exist. There’s massive investment required if we’re going to close any of the gaps,” Dodson said.
South Africa has been trying to bridge its own gaps, albeit with limited success. A focus on affirmative action policies, often clumsily implemented, has created a handful of extremely wealthy black people, while at the same time, the key determinant of social advantage – the black education system – has been allowed to deteriorate further. Whites, who feel they have borne the brunt of social re-engineering policies, are likely to protest at further demands to give up more when they feel they have sacrificed much already.
But the inequalities remain stark. In 2008, whites, who make up about 9 per cent of the population, had an average annual personal income of R135,707 ($A20,069), while the figure for blacks, 79 per cent of the population, was R19,496 ($A2884). The gap is narrowing, but too slowly, Kollapen says. This is a consequence of the bloodless transition to democracy – it never fundamentally changed entrenched white privilege.
”What did the transition do?” Kollapen asked. ”It looked at white fears. It said: ‘We will not take what you have away’. It left lives intact to the largest extent possible. What did it say to blacks? ‘Here’s a promissory note for a better future’. We haven’t seen the quid pro quo today.”
Kollapen cites land reform – returning land to its original black owners – as a crucial issue. There is no feel-good way of saying it. ”There has to be some form of displacement.”
It remains to be seen how each country will reach its longed-for destination. South Africa is under more pressure to bring about change, for without it, a disaffected, unemployed and unemployable chunk of the population is a ticking, social time bomb.
Unemployment under the International Labour Organisation’s definition stood at 34.4 per cent in the second quarter. By contrast, the problems of Australia’s indigenous minority are easier to ignore, but easier to resolve. As Kollapen pointed out, Australia is a wealthy country and ”should be in a better position to deal with it”. Despite their apparent differences, Australia and South Africa do have much in common. Looking back, the colonial Queensland government’s Aboriginals Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act of 1897, which created reserves and allowed Aborigines outside those reserves only with a permit, was the model for the later apartheid regime’s infamous Pass Laws.
Looking forward, both countries also face a hurdle they have yet to overcome. Whites in both countries need to acknowledge that they have benefited from a race-based system of privilege, however implicitly and however unknowingly. Without it, further progress will be hard to unlock.
That is the point both Dodson and Kollapen finished on, using words that were very similar.
”The past is something that is highly contested,” Dodson said. Kollapen agreed: ”’If you’re to have true reconciliation, most people would also be willing to accept some displacement. Instead, we find people who seem to fight for a better past.”
Michael Bleby is an Australian journalist working in Johannesburg for Business Day, South Africa’s main business daily.
EPA deal: Impasse on services persists
By JULIUS BARIGABA/www.theeastafrican.co.ke/ Sunday, January 17 2010
Although the region has concluded a deal on market access to the European Union, there remain fundamental disagreements on trade in services.
Trade in services under the controversial Economic Partnership Agreement, deal with rules under which nationals of one country can sell their expertise in the services sector of another World Trade Organisation member country.
Uganda’s Ministry of Tourism, Trade and Industry permanent secretary Julius Onen told The EastAfrican that Kampala will sign the agreement for market access and development aid this year, but not a comprehensive agreement that includes trade in services, as well as other sticky issues like investment rules and government procurement, until the Europeans “accept the EPA is part of an older agreement (Cotonou) which recognised that the developing world is not equal to the EU,” he said.
However, there are also concerns over development assistance that the East African countries are pressing for from their EU partners before the region can sign the controversial trade pact. Between now and March this year, a series of technical negotiation meetings have been scheduled, first in Bujumbura, then in Kigali and Arusha, which will culminate in a decision on the development chapter.
“We hope to reach an agreement by March,” Mr Onen said.
The developing world has been pushing Europe since the commencement of EPA negotiations at the start of the last decade, to increase development aid as a commitment to help African, Caribbean and Pacific economies prepare for a liberalised market regime.
EN BREF, CE 17 janvier 2010 … AGNEWS / OMAR, BXL,17/01/2010