Saturday, July 31, 2004

Cote d'Ivoire: parties sign new deal

Under the terms of the deal on Friday, rebel forces holding the north of the West African country will start disarming by October 15 after political reforms which were first agreed in a January 2003 peace agreement [Linas-Marcoussis Agreement] are implemented by the end of next month.

[...] The statement said Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo had pledged to use his constitutional powers to push through an amendment to an article in the constitution which prevents an opposition leader from running for head of state. (source)

Previous post ...
  • Cote d'Ivoire: getting the peace process restarted

  • Zimbabwe: govt policy forcing private school to shut down

    Eaglesvale, one of the oldest private schools in Zimbabwe, is likely to close its doors because it can no longer pay its bills. The government determines the amount the school can charge students and the school says the amount is too low to allow it to continue operating.
    Eaglesvale was particularly hard hit by the fees fixed by the education ministry at the beginning of this term. It was allowed to charge only $1,2 million for a day pupil rather than the $2,5 million many secondary private schools were allowed to charge and the more than $1,5 million allowed for most primary schools. (source)
    A bit on recent history ...
    The school, founded in 1911, is one of many that were earlier this year stopped from starting the second term by the Education Ministry, which accused them of raising their fees to exclude black pupils.

    The schools only opened after agreeing to fees set by the ministry. The ministry, however, allowed parents who wished to to make donations to schools.

    Mr. Theron says the school received a letter from the ministry earlier this month accusing the school authorities of demanding donations and ordering that it refund the money. To date, Mr.Theron says only 15 parents have demanded their money back. He says it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain the standards at the school without running high debts it may be unable to pay. (source)
    The connection between raids on white farms and these private schools ...
    These institutions [private schools], whose history stretches back more than 100 years, are falling victim to an official vendetta. In May, Aeneas Chigwedere, the education minister, told parents at St George's College in Harare that they would suffer the fate of white farmers.

    "We will do to them what we did to white farmers," he said. "We are dealing with racist schools. They are all former white schools, all racist."

    In fact, private schools admitted black pupils even during the Rhodesian era. Black children form the great majority in the classrooms of virtually all of them.

    Their alumni have gone on to fill prominent positions in Zimbabwe and Britain. Robert Jackson, the Conservative MP for Wantage, attended Falcon College near Bulawayo. Rupert Pennant-Rea, a former deputy governor of the Bank of England, went to Peterhouse School near Marondera. (source)

    Friday, July 30, 2004

    South Africa: security company has contract for Angola

    International Intelligence Risk Management, the company posted about here, has a contract in Angola. It had been speculated that the compnay was providing services in Zimbabwe. However ...
    Derek Davids, spokesperson for [the company ...] admitted that his firm had been in touch with the Zimbabwe government.

    "I can confirm that International Intelligence Risk Management has communicated with the Zimbabwe government in connection with a contract to secure the principal (Mugabe), and to protect properties and installations in that country." (source)
    Here is where things get interesting ... Derek Davids is assocated with the now infamous security firm, Executive Outcomes.
    "I was consulted to do work about four or five years ago by Executive Outcomes and I helped them here and there with information gathering," said Derek Davids.

    He said he had come into contact with the group as a result of his background in military intelligence and his knowledge of various parts of Africa, where he had been deployed during the apartheid era.

    He said that Executive Outcomes had specifically asked him to recruit military and intelligence operatives "from the old system". He said his current work was not connected to the military activities of the organization, which he admitted, "is still very active everywhere in Africa".1
    Another person in the news who has a connection to Executive Outcomes ... Simon Mann, the man who along with 69 other men is currently standing trial in Zimbabwe, accused of trying to overthrow the leader of Equatorial Guinea. Mann co-founded Executive Outcomes.


    1: Khoisan, Zenzile. (2004, July 22). Ministry silent on hiring of soldiers. Cape Argus.

    Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai almost found guilty

    The judge hearing the treason case against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was prepared to pass a guilty verdict yesterday ... except that the two lay assessors requested the court records and transcripts of the case, forcing the judge to postpone delivering the verdict.
    Authoritative judicial sources said the two assessors in the case, Misheck Nyandoro and Joseph Dangarembizi, had vehemently disagreed with the judge's guilty verdict and refused to rubber stamp his decision. This left [Judge Paddington] Garwe with no option but to postpone the case.(source)
    Why this matters ...
    Zimbabwe has no jury system and cases are routinely tried by a judge sitting with two lay assessors. Matters of law are decided by the judge alone. Questions of fact must be resolved by a majority of the panel of three.

    The verdict in the trial of Mr Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, was due to be delivered in Harare's High Court yesterday [July 29]. Treason carries a possible death penalty. But the procedural concerns expressed by the two assessors forced a postponement.

    Lawyers say this is the first time in Zimbabwe's history that judgment has been delayed in such circumstances. "I've never heard of this in my 30 years in law," said Adrian de Bourbon, a former chairman of Zimbabwe's Bar Association. (source)
    The judge hearing the case ...
    Zimbabwe High Court Judge President Paddington Garwe, widely perceived as a Mugabe supporter, presided over the treason case with the aid of two assessors.

    [...] During his tenure Judge Garwe has passed several decisions that favoured Mugabe. In 2002 he turned down an opposition application to extend the number of voting days in the presidential election. This was despite long queues of stranded voters in urban centres who had not had a chance to vote.

    Garwe's alleged guilty verdict would probably end Tsvangirai's political career as he would have no chances of succeeding at the Supreme Court which has been converted into an even more loyalist branch of the Zimbabwe government. But the two assessors may still save Tsvangirai if they disagree with Garwe. (source)

    Somalia: : Inauguration of interim parliament postponed

    The inauguration of Somalia's proposed transitional parliament has been postponed [it was supposed to take place today] because some clans had not completed the process of nominating members, sources close to the Somali reconciliation conference said on Friday. (source)
    It has been tentatively rescheduled for August 4.

    Malawi: scandalous!


    Thursday, July 29, 2004

    Cote d'Ivoire: getting the peace process restarted

    A regional summit, aimed at restarting the Ivorian peace process, is taking place today in Accra, Ghana. The summit is being co-chaired by Ghanaian President John Kufuor, the current chairman of ECOWAS1 ... and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The leaders of the ECOWAS member states are expected to attend, as is South African President Thabo Mbeki. Yet, despite this attention from the highest levels, many observers hold out little hope of success in these talks.

    In March, the seven opposition groups (the G72) suspended their participation in the transitional government over the deaths of 120 of their supporters at a peace demonstration. They blamed the government's security forces for the deaths ... and a subsequent investigation authorized by the UN Human Rights Commission confirmed those allegations.

    Then in May, Gbagbo kicked out three opposition ministers, including the leader of the New Forces, Guillaume Soro. He also announced that he would stop paying the salaries of 23 other ministers who had suspended their participation in the government ... and said he would be withdrawing their official cars and their right to stay in a hotel guarded by UN peacekeepers.

    As dramatic as all this sounds, the peace process was in trouble way before the March and May events. President Gbago and the rebel groups signed the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement (full-text) back in January 2003 ... and almost immediately began bickering about how to implement it. Gbagbo and his supporters say the starting point is for rebels to disarm ... but the rebels want parliament to pass political reforms before they will disarm.

    more on this later ....


    1: ECOWAS = Economic Community of West African States.

    The 15 member states are ... Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, GuineaBissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo.

    2: G7 is a coalition of opposition parties and it brings together four political parties and three former rebel movements.

    The political parties ...
  • Parti Démocratique de Côte d'Ivoire - Rassemblement Démocratique Africain (PDCI-RDA) - Secretary-General Alphonse Djedje-Mady (also G7's spokesperson)
  • Rassemblement des Républicains (RDR) - leader, Alassane Dramane Ouattara
  • Union pour la paix et la démocratie en Côte d'Ivoire (UDPCI)
  • Mouvement des Forces d'Avenir (MFA)

    The three rebel groups together are called the "New Forces" (Forces nouvelles) ...
  • Mouvement Patriotique de Côte d’Ivoire (MPCI)
  • Mouvement Populaire du Grand-Ouest (MPIGO)
  • Mouvement pour la Justice et la Paix (MJP)


    President Laurent Gbagbo's party ...
  • Front Populaire Ivoirien (FPI) - Pascal Affi N'guessan, a former prime minister, is president of the party

  • Uganda: military says it almost caught Kony

    Ugandan military spokesperson Shaban Bantariza announced yesterday that the LRA's Joseph Kony only narrowly escaped capture. He said the troops captured a number of Kony's supporters including four of hi swives and possibly several of his children.

    LRA = Lord's Resistance Army

    Previous posts ...
  • Uganda: Kony's spirits
  • Uganda: LRA's Kony says he's leaving Sudan for Ethiopia

    UPDATE: July 29 ... Military spokesperson says 120 LRA fighters were killed in the operation.

  • say what ...

    Slate's Will Saletan on Barak Obama ...
    Obama isn't exactly black. His mother is white and came from Kansas. His father came from Kenya. Obama is, in short, African-American — a term that Jackson Sr. has too casually applied to people many generations removed from Africa, often through other continents. Obama's father went back to Africa years ago, but that doesn't change the hue of his son's skin or remove his African name, Barack. So the son embraces his blackness. (source)
    I've been coming back to this passage all day ... and I still don't get it. I swear I'm not being willfully obtuse here.

    He "isn't exactly black". Good grief! There was a time, I hope it's no longer the case, when those who were mixed or light-skinned were challenged on their right to call themselves "black".

    And is Saletan saying that if Obama took more after his mother physically, and wasn't named Barak, that he wouldn't have "embraced" his African heritage.

    A conversation from ten years ago ...
    Me: Did you know, XXXX is half black.
    Friend: Which half? Left half or right half?

    Check out Obama's speech. Though he identifies as black, he paid equal tribute to both his Kenyan and Anglo roots.

    Wednesday, July 28, 2004

    Sudan: peace talks in Kenya adjourned, no agreement

    Sudan's government and the main southern rebel group adjourned peace talks in Kenya without agreeing on a ceasefire deal crucial to ending Africa's longest war, mediators said.

    "The talks have adjourned, but consultations with both sides will continue," Lazaro Sumbeiywo, the Kenyan retired army general in charge of mediating the peace talks, told AFP.

    An official in the mediation, who did not want to be named, said the ceasefire negotiations adjourned "without a deal, but mediators will continue shuttling between the Sudan's government and Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) for consultations and to fix the date of resumption."

    The ceasefire talks, which opened on June 21, are mediated by east Africa's regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

    Rebel spokesman Samson Kwaje told AFP that the two sides had agreed on "about 70 percent" of the whole ceasefire deal, but were stalled on funding of the two armies and positioning of the integrated forces after a final peace deal is signed.

    "What is remaining is around 30 percent, and it is because we disagreed on details of funding the two armies, the SPLA and government's, and whether or not the joint forces will be in eastern Sudan," which lies in the north, Kwaje told AFP. (source)

    Sudan: there are TWO conflicts

    Sudan/Darfur: AU asks for help airlifting troops

    The African Union has asked for British and Dutch help in airlifting 300 African troops to Darfur.

    UPDATE: July 29 ...
    The African Union (AU) has delayed deployment of a protection force to western Sudan region of Darfur from end of July, as earlier planned, to early August, due to logistic problems, the AU conflict management centre's deputy El Ghassim Wane said.

    "The protection force will that was to be deployed in Darfur by end of July, will now not be in place until the first week of August, 2004," Wane said Thursday.

    "The contributing countries, Nigeria and Rwanda, are still sorting out the volume and size of their forces to be dispatched to Darfur by the AU," Wane added. (source)
    UPDATE: August 3 ... the Netherlands has agreed to fund a mission to fly 360 AU troops to Sudan.

    Sudan/Darfur: AU considering "full-fledged peacekeeping mission"

    The following is from a communiqué issued yesterday by the Peace and Security Council of the African Union.
    Requests the Chairperson of the Commission to prepare and submit to it [the Peace and Security Council], for consideration, a comprehensive plan on how best to enhance the effectiveness of the AU Mission on the ground, including the possibility of transforming the said Mission into a full-fledged peacekeeping mission, with the requisite mandate and size, to ensure the effective implementation of the Cease fire Agreement, with particular emphasis on the disarmament and the neutralization of the Janjaweed militia, the protection of the civilian population and the facilitation of the delivery of the humanitarian assistance ... (source)
    By the end of this month, the African Union will have some 300 troops on the ground in Darfur to protect its 96 cease-fire observers. See the following posts for more ...

  • African Union: dealing with Darfur
  • Sudan/Darfur: AU monitors say Janjaweed burned some people alive

  • Zimbabwe: "mercenary" leader pleads guilty to some charges

    [Simon Mann ...] pleaded guilty Wednesday to attempting to possess dangerous weapons, and could face up to [ten] years in jail.

    [... He] also entered a limited guilty plea to a second charge of purchasing weapons, saying he should only be charged with the attempt since the deal never went through.

    Magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe quickly convicted Mann on the first charge.

    [...] Prosecutor Stephen Musona called as a witness ZDI marketing manager Hope Mutize, who said Mann and Nick du Toit, one of the men held in Equatorial Guinea, approached him to buy weapons.

    Mutize said du Toit indicated he wanted to supply some of the weapons to rebels fighting the Congolese government. A paper quote for the purchase, which Mutize said was signed by all three men, was entered as evidence.

    "What we must look at is the fact that it is common cause that money changed hands and that money was for the purpose of purchasing firearms," Musona's colleague Lawrence Phiri said later in the state's final submission. "It becomes clear that in so far as he was concerned, the transaction was complete."

    Defense lawyer Jonathan Samkange argued that Mann never actually took possession of the weapons -- a distinction which could be important when sentencing is considered.

    "There had been no delivery. The purchasers had not even inspected the weapons. It is my respectful submission that in this case there was only a mere attempt. Indeed an attempt of a very low degree," he said.1

    Previous post ...
  • Zimbabwe: 67 "mercenaries" plead guilty to some charges

    1: Mapenzauswa, Stella. (2004, July 28). 'Mercenary' Pleads Guilty to Zimbabwe Weapon Charge. Reuters.

  • South African: Boy "too dark to be South African"

    A 15-year-old boy was nearly booted out of the country because police thought he was "too dark" to be South African.

    Police hauled Shane Mhaule off a 25-seater bus at a routine roadblock at Belfast in Mpumalanga last Tuesday.

    "They took one look at me and said I was too dark to be South African," Shane said.

    He had also spoken to the officers in English, so they made him speak in his vernacular, which is Shangaan - a language that is also spoken in Mozambique.

    The cops insisted he was Mozambican and ignored his pleas to call his school principal and mother to vouch for him.

    [...] Shane was then bundled into a police van, driven to the Belfast police station and locked up with 24 adult men - in violation of laws protecting children.

    [... the next day ...] The whole family clubbed together to hire a car and race 120km to the Nelspruit police station - only to be told they needed Home Affairs approval before Shane could be released.

    But a Home Affairs official said the office was closed and that they should return the next day.

    The official eventually relented when the family called in local journalists, leading to a tearful reunion on the steps of the Nelspruit police station.1

    1: Hlatshwayo, Riot. (2004, July 28). Boy 'too dark to be South African'. The Star.

    Zimbabwe: white farmers find "greener pastures" in Nigeria

    A group of white farmers have been invited to farm in Nigeria and promised financial aid.

    A fair number of farmers are already prospering in neighbouring Zambia.

    Angola and Mozambique have been wooing them as well.

    UPDATE: More on the deal the 15 farmers going to Nigeria are getting ...
    Group leader Alan Jack said the farmers had each reached a deal with the government of central Nigeria's Kwara State to take separate 25-year leases on 1,000 hectare packets of fertile land and now hoped to start work in September.

    [...] At least 90% of the manpower on the farms will be recruited locally and the farmers will be expected to buy as much seed, fertiliser and equipment as they can from Kwara and Nigerian suppliers, the statement said.

    A community trust fund, run jointly by local stakeholders, will be established to build social facilities and infrastructure for the welfare of the host communities, according to the text of the deal.

    The fund will be financed by a special levy fixed at 1% of the farmers' gross turnover, and a school to help transfer skills and technology to local entrepreneurs will also be established.

    [...] The governor assured the Zimbabweans that government would protect their safety and their livelihoods. (source)

    Tuesday, July 27, 2004

    Sudan/Darfur: draft text of UNSG resolution on Sudan

    The following was posted a few days ago ... a draft text of the Darfur resolution proposed by the US.

    Sudan/Darfur: AU monitors say Janjaweed burned some people alive

    Arab militia burned alive shackled villagers during an attack violating a fragile truce in Sudan's Darfur region, African Union (AU) cease-fire monitors said.

    In a document seen by Reuters on Tuesday, the observers said they had investigated three allegations of cease-fire violations since their deployment on July 11.

    They said a fact-finding team dispatched to Suleia concluded that the Darfurian village was attacked on July 3 "by militia elements believed to be Janjaweed."

    The document said the attackers "killed civilians, in some cases by chaining them and burning them alive."

    In another incident, the team concluded that the horse and camel-mounted Janjaweed militia had attacked the village of Ehda which was burned and deserted save for a few men.

    "However, the team could not substantiate the allegation that Sudanese forces fought alongside the Janjaweed," the document said.

    There are 96 AU cease-fire observers monitoring violations of a truce signed between the government and two rebel groups on April 8. (source)

    Zimbabwe: 67 "mercenaries" plead guilty to some charges

    Jonathan Samkange, the Zimbabwean lawyer for the group, entered guilty pleas on behalf of 67 of his clients to charges of violating Zimbabwe's immigration and civil aviation laws when their plane landed in Harare in March.

    Magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe, presiding over the special court convened in Harare's top security jail, immediately found the men guilty of the charges which could carry sentences of anything from a fine to several years in jail.

    The three other men in the group, including suspected ringleader Simon Mann, were already in Zimbabwe when the plane landed and so did not face the immigration charges.

    Samkange said the entire group planned to plead not guilty when the court begins hearing the more serious charges against them on Wednesday.

    [...] These [more serious] charges, filed under Zimbabwe's tough state security laws, include attempting to possess dangerous weapons and attempting to purchase weapons of war and could bring jail sentences of up to 15 years.1
    The men still say they are not mercenaries and that they were not heading to Equatorial Guniea to take part in a coup plot. They insist they were heading to the Democratic Republic of Congo to guard mining operations.

    Previous post ...
  • Zimbabwe/Eqatorial Guinea: update on the mercenaries


    1: Chinaka, Cris. (2004, July 27). Zimbabwe 'Mercenaries' Plead Guilty to Some Charges. Reuters.

  • US Poitics: speaking tonight ...

    Speaking tonight at the Democratic National Convention in Boston ... two people with a connection to Africa ...

    Teresa Heinz Kerry -- John Kerry's wife.
    She was born in Mozambique, went to school in South Africa ... and sometimes refers to herself as an "African American". (You gotta love that!) Her full name ... Maria Teresa Thierstein Simoes-Ferreira Heinz Kerry.

    Barak Obama -- Illinois State Senator and a candidate for the US Senate.
    His dad is Kenyan, his mother American. He was born in Hawaii. (Sadly, he never really knew his father.)

    Senegal: history of "Slave House" questioned

    More than 200,000 people travel to this rocky island off the coast of Dakar each year to step inside the dark, dungeonlike holding rooms in the pink stucco Slave House and hear details of how 20 million slaves were chained and fattened for export here. Many visitors are moved to tears.

    But whatever its emotional or spiritual power, Goree Island was never a major shipping point for slaves, say historians, who insist no slaves were ever sold at Slave House, no Africans ever stepped through the famous door of no return to waiting ships.

    "The whole story is phony," says Philip Curtin, a retired professor of history at Johns Hopkins University who has written more than two dozen books on Atlantic slave trade and African history.

    Although it functioned as a commercial center, Goree Island was never a key departure point for slaves, Curtin says. Most Africans sold into slavery in the Senegal region would have departed from thriving slave depots at the mouths of the Senegal River to the north and the Gambia River to the south, he says.

    During about 400 years of the Atlantic slave trade, when an estimated 10 million Africans were taken from Africa, maybe 50,000 slaves — not 20 million as claimed by the Slave House curator — might have spent time on the island, Curtin says.

    Even then, they would not have been locked in chains in the Slave House, Curtin says. Built in 1775-1778 by a wealthy merchant, it was one of the most beautiful homes on the island; it would not have been used as a warehouse for slaves other than those who might have been owned by the merchant.

    Likewise, Curtin adds, the widely accepted story that the door of no return was the final departure point for millions of slaves is not true. There are too many rocks to allow boats to dock safely, he says.

    Curtin's assessment is widely shared by historians, including Abdoulaye Camara, curator of the Goree Island Historical Museum, which is a 10-minute walk from the Slave House.

    [...] No one is quite sure where the Slave House got its name, but both Camara and Curtin credit Boubacar Joseph Ndiaye, the Slave House's curator since the early 1960s, with promoting it as a tourist attraction.

    [...] That said, Camara believes Ndiaye has played an important role in offering the descendants of slaves an emotional shrine to commemorate the sacrifices of their ancestors.1

    1: Murphy, John. (2004, July 27). Senegal Slave House's past questioned. Baltimore Sun.

    Sudan/Darfur: Arab press on the Darfur crisis

    BBC Monitoring offers brief, translated excerpts from a few Arab papers.

    HIV/AIDS: say what ...

    The following is excerpted from a letter written by Dora Uzo, of the Association of Concerned Mothers in Lagos, published in today's edition of The Guardian (Nigeria) ...
    SIR: We are greatly disturbed that in spite of proofs that condoms do not prevent HIV/AIDS, but rather aid the spread of it, NAFDAC [National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control] has gone ahead to approve their manufacture in Nigeria by a Belgian company.

    The use of condoms has brought about the unfortunate consequences of promiscuity and also the death of millions of victims. It is a well-known fact that countries within the African continent that have encouraged the use of condoms have been witnessing an astronomical rise in the death rate due to infection by the dreaded HIV/AIDS virus. (source)
    Words fail me.

    See also ...
  • Uganda: Museveni on condoms
  • AIDS policy: Bush on condoms

  • Monday, July 26, 2004

    Libya: FM tells Bulgarians to negotiate with Libyan families

    Five Bulgarian nurses -- and a Palestinian doctor -- were found guilty of intentionally infecting hundreds of children with HIV and were sentenced to death a couple of months ago. All six have maintained their innocence and have been supported by numerous HIV/AIDS researchers who say that poor hygiene at the hospital where they worked was the most likely reason for the infections. Now a possible out ...
    "We propose to the Bulgarians to negotiate with the victims' families, and if the families agree to negotiate, then we can get closer to a settlement," Shalgham told a press conference.

    The foreign minister declined to elaborate on what form a settlement could take but said that "the justice system would decide", while Libyan officials have been raising the possibility of payment of compensation to the families.

    The European Union could also play a role "by taking charge of the treatment of the sick children either in Europe or by building them a special hospital in Benghazi", Shalgham said.

    At the end of their trial, the nurses and doctor were already ordered to pay a total of one million dollars (827,000 euros) in compensation to the families of the victims. (source)
    But the Bulgarian government has already rejected the offer ...
    "A legal practice like this is unacceptable as Bulgaria’s position is that the medics are innocent," Bulgarian Deputy Foreign Minister Gergana Grancharova said.

    She added Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passy had already rejected similar proposals Shalgham made in talks they had on the case. (source)

    P.S. Here is a handy timeline of the case ... from arrest through to conviction ...

    Ethiopia: problems with the resettlement project

    The government of Ethiopia is moving two million people from drought-prone areas to the relatively unpopulated fertile lands in the south and west. The project started a bit over a year ago and problems were reported almost immediately. The core of the complaints is that the government appears to have planned poorly ... eg. the people are being resettled in a malaria zone and the government doesn't have the health care facilities in place to deal with the resulting malaria cases. The government also didn't have enough grain/food stocks to see people through to their first harvest. There is also the lack of schools, water and sanitation.

    This article in the San Francisco Chronicle goes through some of the issues mentioned above. But here is what jumped out at me ... one of the people the reporter spoke to at Baleti, a resettlement site, said she and her family had been forcibly moved. This resettlement is supposed to be voluntary.
    "We came here by force," [Marea] Hussein said. "We said, 'We don't want to go,' but the local officials told me, 'If you don't go, we'll burn your houses.'"

    [...] Unlike in Baleti, settlers in Hare Chachisa said they volunteered to come. But in the first week, 500 of the 6,000 to 8,000 resettled villagers returned home. The air is hot, diseased, bitter with despair.
    I'm guessing here ... it's possible that some local authorities might be forcing people to move. The central government's policy is that this is a voluntary resettlement.

    The former military dictator, Col Mengistu Haile Mariam, tried forced resettlement in 1980s ... and it was a tragic failure.

    Previous post ...
  • Ethiopia: relocating a million people

    Also .... EthioPundit has a post on the issue.

  • Zimbabwe: Global Fund for AIDS refuses grant

    The Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria turned down Zimbabwe's application for a US$218 million grant. The Zim government thinks the decision was political ... and they're (gasp!) partially right cause politics does play a part.
    "Yes, our proposal was turned down and we know it is very political," Health Minister David Parirenyatwa told the newspaper [Zimbabwe Standard].

    [...] Global fund executive director Richard Feacham said the Zimbabwean request was turned down for a variety of reasons.

    "Yes, the politics of a nation plays a role when we determine the country's application," Feacham was quoted as saying.

    "There is a broad set of challenges in Zimbabwe that we consider in coming up with an agreement to reject their proposal, how and to whom we disburse the funds (and) what exchange rate regime do we use?

    "It does not help the people of Zimbabwe to pass money through channels which are not well worked out," he said.

    [... The] government will not be able to expand its [anti-retroviral] treatment programme into rural areas. It currently provides drugs at a total of four hospitals in the two biggest cities, Harare and Bulawayo. (source)
    Is it ethical to punish the people for the mistakes of the government? Discuss.

    UPDATE: The Zim government is appealing the decision ... and also ...
    [An unnamed official of a UN agency that is part of the Global Fund ...] said the payment of some $14 million given to the Zimbabwe government last year is being held up pending negotiations on how it must be disbursed. (source)
    UPDATE: July 29 ... the decision wasn't political ...
    A spokesman for the Global Fund, Tim Clark, confirmed on Thursday that the country's proposal was turned down for "technical reasons", but stressed that the decision "had nothing to do with political considerations".

    "Zimbabwe's application, like all the others, was assessed by an independent board of disease experts who found several technical shortcomings. To suggest that the Global Fund has made a decision based on political merit is ridiculous. After all, the Fund has worked with countries such as Sudan and North Korea," Clark told IRIN. (source)

    DRC: nearly 20,000 displaced due to fighting in the east

    Nearly 20,000 people are in a “critical humanitarian state” in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after fleeing renewed fighting between central government forces and dissident troops around Lake Kivu, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). (source)

    Sudan/Darfur: Libyan FM says non-African troops bad idea

    The crisis in Darfur is "very dangerous", [Libyan] Foreign Minister Abdul Rahman Mohammed Shalgham told a press conference, while criticising what he called "the US and Western escalation" in calling for foreign intervention.

    "We reject any foreign military presence down there, apart from within the framework of the African Union (AU)," Shalgham said. A non-African deployment would create an "explosive" situation.

    "Darfur is situated on the Libyan border and, as a result, the security of the region affects the national security of Libya", he said. (source)
    Yesterday ...
    Ibrahim Ahmed Omar, secretary-general of the [Sudan's] ruling National Congress party, was quoted by Al Anbaa [state-run newspaper] as warning: "Anybody who contemplates imposing his opinion by force will be confronted by force. Any power that intervenes in Darfur will be a loser." (source)
    And ...
    Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail would not say whether Sudanese forces would be ordered to attack Western peacekeepers if they were deployed in Darfur.

    But in a telephone interview with VOA, Mr. Ismail strongly hinted that the government would not tolerate the presence of military forces that are not part of an African Union-led monitoring team.

    "The people of Sudan are against any foreign intervention. No nation would accept foreign intervention in their affairs. Those who are talking about foreign intervention, they do not know exactly what the situation (is). We said that we do not need foreign intervention because we have already African monitors," he says. (source)
    UPDATE: Sudan yesterday asked Libya to sponsor talks on Darfur.

    UPDATE: July 27 ... Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail was in Turkey today and told a news conference ...
    "If we are attacked we will not sit silent, we will retaliate ... but we definitely hope we do not reach that situation," Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail told a news conference during a visit to Turkey.

    "We are not looking for confrontation and we hope we will not be pushed to that," he said.

    [...] Ismail blamed the rebels [SLA/M and JEM] for the violence.

    "Sudan never started this war ... But we admit the government is responsible for bringing back law and order, for disarming the militias and for arresting the Janjaweed." (source)
    Also today ...
    "While we understand the aspects of concern and we share the aspects of concern and the interest in ... getting Darfur out of this situation, we underline the importance of avoiding the concept of sanctions and threatening sanctions, because this will damage the situation and complicate aspects of this matter," [Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed] Aboul Gheit told reporters in Cairo. (source)

    worth a listen ...

    On BBC Radio 4 ... a five part series on The Dickin Medal, the bravery medal awarded to animals.

    Sunday, July 25, 2004

    Sudan/Darfur: a MUST read

    Alex de Waal on the crisis in Darfur.

    The article is worth reading in its entirety ... but I will excerpt one bit. It's an issue that has been nagging at me for months -- the characterization of the conflict in Darfur as one between "Arabs" and "Africans".
    Characterising the Darfur war as 'Arabs' versus 'Africans' obscures the reality. Darfur's Arabs are black, indigenous, African and Muslim - just like Darfur's non-Arabs, who hail from the Fur, Masalit, Zaghawa and a dozen smaller tribes.

    Until recently, Darfurians used the term 'Arab' in its ancient sense of 'bedouin'. These Arabic-speaking nomads are distinct from the inheritors of the Arab culture of the Nile and the Fertile Crescent.

    'Arabism' in Darfur is a political ideology, recently imported, after Colonel Gadaffi nurtured dreams of an 'Arab belt' across Africa, and recruited Chadian Arabs, Darfurians and west African Tuaregs to spearhead his invasion of Chad in the 1980s. He failed, but the legacy of arms, militia organisation and Arab supremacist ideology lives on.

    Alex de Waal is director of Justice Africa. In May, the organization published a briefing ... Prospects for Peace in Sudan.

    Sudan/Darfur: talks with rebels back on ... maybe

    Late in the week, JEM and SLA/M, the Darfur rebel groups, agreed to resume talks with the government. However ...
    Khalil Ibrahim, leader of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), put the spotlight on the difficulties the international community faces in trying to end what the United Nations says is the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

    "JEM will not have any direct contact with the government and will not start any political negotiations ... until the government meets preconditions which are the terms of the cease-fire signed ... on April 8," Ibrahim said from Eritrea.1
    SLA/M = Sudan Liberation Army/Movement

    Previous post ...
  • Sudan/Darfur: talks to start tomorrow in Addis


    1: McDoom, Opheera. (2004, July 24). Rebels Cast Doubt on UN Hope of Darfur Peace Talks. Reuters.

  • Sudan/Darfur: how much influence does gov't have over Janjaweed?

    Found the following buried at the end of an article. Though it isn't the final word on the issue ... it's worth considering.
    A senior military intelligence official told Reuters that the government would find it difficult to take on the influential tribal leaders involved in a conflict pitting ethnic Arabs against black Africans in the western Sudanese region of Darfur on the border with Chad.

    "The tribe in Darfur is the law. The problem we are facing is that the tribal leaders here are the government," he said.

    "You take someone like Musa Hilal (an Arab tribal leader). He has 12,000 fighters loyal to him. How are you going to force him to do something he doesn't want to do?

    "America itself couldn't do it? They [the Janjaweed] see no logic in disarming while the rebels are armed. I myself can see that they would be slaughtered," he added.1
    The rebels mentioned in the story are the SLA/M and JEM. They have been fighting the government -- and the Janjaweed -- since last year.

    Also ... a story that Sudan's President Bashir may not be in full control.

    SLA/M = Sudan Liberation Movement/Army
    JEM = Justice and Equality Movement


    1: ElBagir, Nima. (2004, July 22). Sudan extends crackdown on Darfur militias. Reuters.

    Sudan/Darfur: UK could send 5,000 soldiers

    "If need be, we will be able to go to Sudan," [Chief of the General Staff, General Michael] Jackson said in an interview with BBC News 24 [on Friday]. "I suspect we could put a brigade together very quickly indeed."

    Asked how many troops that would entail, he replied: "Five thousand." (source)
    On Thursday, British Prime Minister Tony Blair had confirmed that military involvement in Sudan was an option but said the government was "not at that stage yet". His comment was in response to a report in Thursday's Guardian that the government was drawing up plans to send troops to Sudan.

    Libera: US freezes Taylor's assets

    On Friday, US President George Bush signed an executive order freezing the assets of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, his family, and his closest associates -- 28 people in all.

    The order also prohibits the import of "round logs and timber products" ... because the trade in these products is "linked to the proliferation of and trafficking in illegal arms, which perpetuate the Liberian conflict and fuel and exacerbate other conflicts throughout West Africa."

    Nigeria/Liberia: Obasanjo says Taylor stays

    President Olusegun Obasanjo has reaffirmed that Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, will not be handed over to the war crimes court in Sierra Leone.
    The President said if the country promised to provide security to an asylum seeker, it should honour that pledge.

    "We must tell the world we are a country of honour. If we say come here we'll give you security we should be able to do so," he said.

    "If we had not brought Charles Taylor here, there would have still been bloodbath in that country," he added.1
    However ...
    President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria has repeatedly said that his country would hand over Taylor to the Special Court if the Liberian government request it. (source)
    But ... a recent effort to have Liberia's transitional government make such a request failed.
    "Taylor went into exile in Nigeria as part of an Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) arrangement to have peace restored to Liberia and this national transitional legislative assembly would not do otherwise," said the parliamentary minutes from Tuesday's meeting.

    "Allowing Taylor to face the Court in Freetown, Sierra Leone will hamper the peace process," the parliamentarians added, unanimously rejecting a petition submitted by eighty human rights and pro-democracy groups. (source)
    Two Nigerians have gone to court to challenge Taylor's right to stay in Nigeria. The two men, David Anyaele and Emmanuel Egbuna, were attacked in Sierra Leone in 1999 by a Taylor-backed militia. The militia members amputated Anyaele's arms and mutilated Egbuna's wrists, leaving him unable to use his hands. Anyaele and Egbuna want Taylor to be extradited to Sierra Leone.
    Judge of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, Justice Steven R. Ada, has issued a subpoena requiring the Nigerian Refugee Commission (NRF) to produce all documents relating to former Liberian President Charles Taylor's asylum application in Nigeria.

    [...] THISDAY gathered that the request covers all legal advise issued to President Olusegun Obasanjo on Taylor's application for refugee status and the actual application itself, if it exists.2
    Also ... three weeks ago, the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) called on Obasanjo to hand Taylor over to the court in Sierra Leonea.
    "The CNPP is of the view that, the tribunal cannot deliver any meaningful judgment in the (Sierra Leonean) 10-year old civil war, without the mastermind, paymaster and warlord, Charles Taylor, more so when principal actors, Fordeh Sankoh and Sam Bakare, alias Mosquito are dead and John Paul Kromah is on the run."(source)

    1: Jolayemi, Moses. (2004, July 23). Taylor: It's Matter of Honour, Says Obasanjo. This Day.

    2: Ugah, Ndubuisi. (2004, July 16). Court Seeks Taylor's Asylum Documents. This Day

    Saturday, July 24, 2004

    DRC: foreign minister sacked

    Foreign Minister Antoine Ghonda has been replaced by Raymond Ramazani Baya, a close aide to Jean-Pierre Bemba, head of the MLC.
    ... [There has been] several weeks of speculation in Kinshasa's media and political rumor mill that Mr. Ghonda's dismissal had been called for by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, M.L.C's main supporter during Congo's war.

    Mr. Museveni was said to have been upset by Mr. Ghonda's resistance to greater Ugandan involvement in various parts of the Congolese peace process, in particular a joint border verification mission with Rwanda, and wanted the minister to be sacked.

    [...] Diplomats and analysts say that the sacking suggests that Mr. Museveni still carries considerable weight within the party. But they stress that Mr. Bemba has wanted to see the foreign minister gone for some time, and Mr. Ghonda's close working relationship with President Kabila may also have contributed to his downfall. (source)
    MLC = Mouvement de Libération du Congo = Congolese Liberation Movement

    Sudan: there are TWO conflicts

    I've come across two reports so far today (this and this) that don't differentiate between what's going on in Darfur (in the west) and what's going on in the south ... and hence make a mistake about where the UN peacekeeping troops are going to be deployed.

    In the south ... once the peace accord between the government and SPLA/M is finalized, UN peacekeeping troops are going to be deployed to monitor the situation. The advance UN team that's being sent to Sudan is going there to prepare for this mission.

    As for Darfur ... people want peacekeepers to be deployed there to help the million people who have been displaced ... but there is no commitment to send UN troops there. (The African Union is deploying 300 soldiers.)


    In the south ... the conflict is described as one that has pitted the "Muslim north against the Christian and animist south".

    In Darfur ... the Arab militias, their victims, the rebels ... they are ALL Muslims.

    Friday, July 23, 2004

    Sudan: new fighter jets

    Russian military aircraft builder RSK-MiG is delivering the last of 12 new MiG-29 planes ordered by Sudan.

    According to this story, which credits as its source RSK-MiG's communication head Yury Chervakov, "the last two MiG-29SEs will be sent to Sudan on board a cargo aircraft from the Tretyakovo airfield in the Moscow region."

    Take note of the last sentence of the story ... "Chervakov noted that the contract was to be completed by the end of 2004, however the Sudanese government desired to speed up this process."

    The US State Department addressed this development yesterday.
    The United States opposes all arms transfers to Sudan, which is a state sponsor of terrorism. Any transfer of lethal military equipment to state sponsors of terrorism is sanctionable under U.S. laws.

    In addition to U.S. law regarding lethal military equipment transfers to state sponsors of terrorism, the current crisis in Darfur, particularly the continuing violence, is cause for strong opposition to any transfers to Sudan. (source)
    The planes cost $370 million and ...
    The first of these MiG-29s was seen in the skies of Darfur in January, augmenting the Antonov bombers and Mi-24 helicopters whose aerial raids on villages in western Sudan are coordinated with attacks by the janjaweed militia. (source)

    Nigeria: polio vaccination drive next week

    Ibrahim Shekarau, governor of Kano State will have his own two-month-old daughter vaccinated for polio during next week's immunization drive. Health workers will try to vaccinate four million children under the age of five between July 29 and August 2.
    Governor Ibrahim Shekarau, who won election last year on a promise to rule according to Islamic law, was at first sympathetic to claims that the West was plotting to depopulate Africa through the use of contaminated drugs.

    In August last year he suspended Kano's participation in a global immunisation drive designed to eradicate polio by the end of 2004.

    But on Monday, with polio spreading rapidly from Kano through Nigeria and into other African countries once considered safe from the disease, he finally accepted the results of scientific tests proving the vaccine's safety.

    [...] And with 257 cases, Nigeria now has more than three-quarters the world's active polio infections, which strike babies and toddlers and leave them with permanently withered or lifeless limbs.

    In March this year alone, 85 Nigerian children were struck down by the virus, in what experts say in the fastest spreading outbreak ever recorded. (source)

    Thursday, July 22, 2004

    Sweden: second annual homeless soccer world cup

    The 2004 Homeless World Cup is being held in Gothenburg, Sweden and will run July 25 - August 1.

    About 30 teams are attending ... some of the countries fielding teams ... Brazil, Nigeria, Japan, Canada ...

    Wouldn't you love to hear the conversations ...

    A bit o' history from New York Press columnist Ron Grunberg.
    The Homeless World Cup grew out of a meeting of street newspaper editors in Capetown, South Africa, in March 2001. Harald Schmied, editor of the Graz [Austria] paper, Megaphon, took on the notion and managed to raise half a million dollars for the first year's games. Eighteen countries, including the U.S., agreed to field teams, and we sought out our own funding from corporate and private backers. None of our city or state money went toward the trip—only outside funds. (source)
    The first "World Cup" was held last year in Graz, Austria ... and Austria won.

    Spain: statue of the "Moor Slayer" to remain

    The authorities at the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela have decided not to remove the statue of St. James the Moor Slayer after the plan provoked a wave of protest.
    The statue, an 18th-century work by Jose Gambino which depicts St James on a white charger hacking off the heads of Moors beneath his rampant mount's hooves, was deemed to be offensive to Muslims.

    [...] The Spanish press reported that terrorist bomb attacks on Madrid trains in March had precipitated the withdrawal of the statue.

    The Spanish national newspaper, El Mundo, said: "According to our sources the authorities fear that the image could attract the anger of the Arab world in a period of high tension."

    The plan was to put the statue in a museum and replace it with a less provocative effigy, one of St James the Pilgrim.

    [...] St James, of whom bloodthirsty statues abound throughout Spain, has been a figure of veneration since he appeared on a white cloud at the battle of Clavijo in 844 and spurred Spanish soldiers on to victory against the Moors.

    [...] The dictator Gen Francisco Franco once sent his only Moroccan general, Mohamed ben Miziam del Qasim, to make the offering [on the saint day]. Sensitive officials covered the base of the statue with cloth to hide the decapitated heads of his compatriots. (source)
    St. James is the patron saint of Spain ... and of hatmakers, rheumatoid sufferers, and laborers.

    Sudan/Darfur: more Janjaweed members found guilty

    The court in the South Darfur state capital of Nyala sentenced the [seven] men, accused of membership in the so-called Janjaweed militia, to execution, crucifixion, cross-amputation, imprisonment or fines, a statement from presiding judge Mukhtar Ibrahim Adam said.

    [...] Local police said they have detained 100 Janjaweed and other outlaws, official sources said on Thursday.

    [...] "At best those being captured are opportunists who have profited from the outbreak of conflict to loot and pillage and at worst these men are petty criminals who are being scape-goated. I don't think the government has the ability to really take on the Janjaweed leaders," said one source at an international organisation working in Sudan.

    [...] Cross-amputation means the amputation of a left hand and a right foot, or the other way round. It is the punishment prescribed in the Koran for "those who wage war against God and his Prophet and strive to make mischief in the land".(source)
    A few days ago, 10 other men were given similar punishments ... but I believe crucifixion is new.

    Nigeria: panic over "killer" phone calls

    I thought this story was a spoof (à la Onion) ... it isn't.
    A Nigerian mobile telephone firm on Monday sought to quash a widespread rumour that users answering calls from two "killer numbers" had been struck dead on the spot.

    Over the weekend Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, was gripped by reports that calls from the numbers 0802 311 1999 and 0802 222 5999 had slain subscribers who answered them. (source)
    The story that either sparked or fueled the panic appeared in the Daily Champion late last week ...
    Yesterday [July 16], our sister Daily Champion broke the story on the fret over GSM phone calls, when it exclusively reported the numbers alleged to be deadly.

    [...] Mr. [Emeka] Oparah, [Vmobile's public relations manager] who was reacting to our exclusive story Friday, said "whereas one of the numbers (08023111999) actually belongs to a subscriber on our network, the second number (08022225999) is non-existent".

    He quickly added that from "an engineering point of view, it is absolutely impracticable, and there is no such record whatsoever anywhere in the world, that any one has died or can die from merely receiving or making a phone call on GSM or any other telecommunications platform".

    However, those making the matter an issue for open discussion claim that evil "metaphysicians could do anything." (source)
    This Day has a brief mention of the story ...
    Following the recent report in one of the national dailies (Not THISDAY) ...

    Zimbabwe: four provincial governors ask for resumption of food aid

    The following story is published in the new Zim publication (based in South Africa) ...
    According to the government's new policy on food aid, donor agencies can only operate in specific areas upon receiving authorisation letters from the ministry of public service, labour and social welfare. The ministry acts on recommendations from provincial governors. The governors of Masvingo, Matabeleland North and South and Bulawayo had told the minister that people in their provinces were starving and in urgent need of food aid, the sources said. But [Paul] Mangwana [the minister of public service, labour and social welfare], in keeping with the government's assertion that there would be enough food for Zimbabwe, had largely ignored the governors' letters.

    [...] Although Zim Online could not get copies of the letters, Masvingo governor Josiah Hungwe confirmed that he had written to central government saying that he needed donor organizations to resume feeding people in his province. However, Hungwe said, this was because farmers had been duped by donor organizations into planting the wrong varieties resulting in low yields. Care International has acknowledged that it gave my people the wrong seed. So the hunger here has nothing to do with land reform. Care (International) should come back and feed the people because it was wrong in the first place to give people the wrong seed. We need food, yes, but the need is not of our own making. I have informed the relevant government minister about our problem here, said Hungwe. (source)

    Wednesday, July 21, 2004

    South Africa: security company to protect Mugabe?

    A South African security firm, International Intelligence Risk Management, is recruiting personnel for work in an "undisclosed foreign country". The company's spokesperson, Derek Davids ...
    "We are involved in an international security contract with a state, and the services we are contracted to deliver to our client includes bodyguard duties, setting up investigative and intelligence units and ensuring the security of the state in which our client is based."

    Davids said the state in question was not one with active military conflict.

    "I want to make it absolutely clear we have secured a huge contract, in a country where there are already 11 other security firms operating, but that we are not working in a conflict area, such as (the Democratic Republic of) Congo," he said.

    "We are already involved in specific work such as bodyguard duties for the South African representatives of our client." (source)
    The story says the work is in a neighbouring country ... a neighbouring country with no active military conflict ...

    What's your guess?!

    Last Friday, News 24 carried a story that seems to have the answer ...
    One man said the 500 "security guards" were to be deployed in Zimbabwe to protect Mugabe against his "second in command". He did not want to name the person to whom he was he referring.

    "There are rumours doing the rounds that he plans to put Mugabe under house arrest and we have to go to protect him (Mugabe)," said the man.

    The man's information corresponded with that from other sources.

    Documents uncovered by Die Burger [Afrikaans newspaper] earlier this week indicated that the organiser and head of International Intelligence Risk Management was in contact with the Zimbabwean government.

    The documents stated that the company was aware in December last year already of plans for coup attempts in Equatorial Guinea and Zimbabwe.

    The company apparently told the South African government about this.

    The documents explained that 70 men had been arrested in Zimbabwe and a further 15 in Equatorial Guinea, based on this information. The authenticity of these documents could not be verified. (source)

    In 1998, South Africa passed the Foreign Military Assistance Act which makes it illegal for any South African to take part in any mercenary activity.


    If somebody out there knows Afrikaans, could you please go through Die Burger and see if there's any more detail available on this story. I've been waiting for more stories to appear in English ... and nothing!

    UPDATE: Way South says there's no point translating the articles in Die Burger. LOL! It's that shoddy a paper.

    UPDATE: It's not Zimbabwe ... but Angola. Click here.

    DRC: the uranium mine, "a security threat"

    According to an Associated Press story published yesterday, "UN investigators" said illicit mining at Shinkolobwe uranium mine in eastern Congo poses a security threat ... the fear is that the uranium might fall into the hands of terrorists.
    UN authorities "recommended that this mine be secured and put in the charge of a private operation for much more disciplined operations, with the aim of avoiding risks including the high rate of radioactivity ... and uranium trafficking with those who shouldn't get it in their hands," UN mission spokesperson Alexandre Essome said in Lubumbashi, capital of the DRC's mineral-rich Katanga province.

    [...] The 15,000 miners now working east Congo's Shinkolobwe mine without authorization from the government risk contracting cancer and developing other health problems because of high radiation levels at the site, concluded investigators from the UN mission in Congo.

    [...] Congo's colonial ruler, Belgium, stopped uranium mining at the site around the time of independence in 1960, and filled the main shaft with concrete.

    But widespread mining has continued in the area, though most miners are digging for cobalt at the site - not uranium. (source)
    I assume that the "UN investigators" the story is refers to are the same ones sent by the UN mission to the DRC (MONUC) ...

    Part of the Shinkolobwe mine collapsed two weeks ago (July 8), killing nine people. MONUC sent investigators to the area to assess the situation ... but they were not allowed on the site.
    "The MONUC delegation had gone to determine what medical and humanitarian aid we could provide... but the district authorities of Haut Katanga told us we were not authorised to access the mine because we didn't warn them in advance of our arrival and, according to them, we had nothing to do with this affair," Alexandre Essome, the MONUC spokesman, said on Friday. (source)
    Earlier this year, President Joseph Kabila ordered all mining at Shinkolobwe be stopped ... an order that has been widely ignored.


    Back in March, there was a story that DRC authorities had siezed two cases containing uranium. And there is this follow-up post.

    worth a read ...

    An essay on movie soundtracks and the value of silence.

    Tuesday, July 20, 2004

    Kenya: Kwani (short story magazine)

    Found it!

    Kwani is a Kenyan on-line magazine that features fabulous short stories.

    I came across the site a long time ago ... loved it ... but forgot to bookmark it and soon forgot the name/address. It only took a year to come across it again ...

    worth a read ...

    The UN's Department of Peacekeeping Operations offers a monthly summary of contributors. It makes for very interesting reading.

    The top contributors for June 2004 . ..

    Pakistan - 7,903 troops
    Bangladesh - 5,972
    Nigeria - 3,273
    Ghana - 3,135
    Ethiopia - 2,655
    India - 2,540
    South Africa - 2,358

    DRC: One plus Four; bios of the VPs

    The draft UN report on wealth exploitation in Congo mentions that Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba has been transporting weapons to Gbadolite, his old base in the north. And a couple of weeks ago, Minority Rights International accused the forces led by this same VP of orchestrating a campaign of "extermination" against the minority Bambuti pygmies.

    This post was just going to be about Bemba ... but ended up being about all the vice-presidents.

    The peace deal that ended the civil war in Congo-Kinshasa created a system with one president and four vice-presidents. Two of the vice-presidents were nominated by the two major armed rebel groups, one was nominated by the governing (President's) party, and the fourth represented the unarmed/civilian opposition groups. The vice-presidents were sworn in on July 17, 2003.

    BTW, those rebel groups are now "political parties". Everybody is preparing for the elections due next year.

    Interesting aside ... When people in Kinshasa rioted following the takeover of Bukavu by rebels, they chanted "One plus four equals zero", demonstrating their unhappiness with the system.

    Now for the mini bios I've pulled together ...

    President Joseph Kabila
  • dad was Laurent Desire Kabila, the man who led the revolt against Mobutu Sese Seko ... and overthrew Mobutu in 1997
  • Joseph took over after Laurent was assassinated in 2001.
  • there were those who seriously doubted that Joseph would survive as long as he has.
  • see this post for a bit more on Junior.

  • Vice-Presidents ....
    Jean-Pierre Bemba Ngombo (b. Nov. 4, 1962)
  • VP in charge of finance
  • leader of the former rebel Uganda-backed Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC
  • son of leading businessman Jeannot Bemba Saolona
  • used to be company director of Sibe Zaire
  • Bemba Saolona had close ties with Mobutu Sese Seko ... he even married off one of his daughters to one of Mobutu's sons. So when Laurent Kabila took over, he was jailed and beaten. However, he soon gained Kabila's favour and was appointed a minister in the government. In the meantime, the son took up arms against Kabila, founding and leading the MLC. Father and son soon begain accusing eachother of betrayal.** The father lost his ministerial post sometime in 2000.
  • Jean-Pierre Bemba is somebody who was safe and successful during the Mobutu years ... and he hasn't really shaken that assocation with the regime. Many of those who fought alongside him in the MLC also had ties with the Mobutu regime ... either as children of "big men" or as "big men" themselves. Bemba has been called a "Mobutist", a label he rejects emphatically.
  • i don't know how much you can read into this ... when he was fighting, Bemba set-up his headquarters in Gbadolite, Mobutu's hometown. (Scroll up to the start of this post ... it is to Gbadolite that the UN report says Bemba has been moving his weapons.)

  • Azarias Ruberwa Manywa (b. Aug 20, 1964)
  • VP in charge of security, defence and political affairs
  • leader of the former rebel Rwanda-backed Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD-Goma)
  • Rwanda was (and some would say, still is) unpopular in the DRC and therefore the RCD was very unpopular as well.
  • he was one of the founders of RCD and an advocate for the recognition of the Banyamulenge - Congolese of Rwandan origin - as Congolese citizens.
  • lawyer by training
    ---- I give up! There's precious little (free) information availabe about this man.

  • Abdoulaye Yerodia Ndombasi (b. Jan 5, 1933)
  • VP in charge of reconstruction of national infrastructure
  • fought alongside Laurent Kabila against Mobutu
  • was Laurent Kabila's chief of staff, also ex-foreign & education minister
  • back in 2000, a Belgian judge issued an arrest warrant for Ndombasi over alleged crimes against humanity (inciting violence against Tutsis). But in early 2002, the International Court of Justice ruled that he could not be tried because he was the foreign minister when he allegedly committed those offences and therefore enjoyed immunity under international law. As a result of this ruling, the Belgian court withdrew the arrest warrant.
  • psychoanalyst by training

  • Arthur Zahidi (Z'Ahidi) Ngoma (b. Sept. 18, 1947)
  • VP in charge of sociocultural sector
  • member of the political opposition
  • used to be deputy chairman of the rebel RCD. He quit in 1999, accusing the leadership of being undemocratic. A year later he moved to the DRC, this time at the head of an unarmed political group he had founded called the "Union of Congolese for Peace".
  • worked for UNESCO for 20 years
  • lawyer by training

    Other Sources used ...
  • DR Congo's transition govt kicks off as vice presidents sworn in
  • DRC: Kabila defines roles of his four vice-presidents
  • DRC: Transitional government
  • Congo rebel leaders sworn in as vice-presidents
  • Rebel Leader Azarias Ruberwa to Become One of DRC's Vice Presidents
  • DR Congo transitional government. (July 2003). Africa Research Bulletin: Political, Social and Cultural Series 40(7) 15370-15371.
  • **Onishi, Norimitsu. (1999, July 29).Papa and a Rebel Son Ask: Who's the Betrayer? New York Times.

    If you see any mistakes or omissions, please let me know.

  • Malawi: nurses leaving, seeking better prospects

    The "brain drain" story is nothing new. But the numbers are still stunning.
    Lilongwe Central should have 532 nurses but has only 183. Malawi is suffering a disastrous exodus of trained nurses. It has lost 211 since 2002, 173 of them to Britain. Fewer than 2,200 are left in all of Malawi's public hospitals - barely a third of the established number - serving a population of 12 million.

    One of the world's poorest nations has lost nine per cent of all its nurses in the past two years, with 82 per cent going to Britain. The equivalent loss for the NHS would be for 20,700 nurses to leave British hospitals in one year.

    [...] Nurses at Lilongwe Central have given up taking holidays. In theory they are entitled to 24 days a year. Many have not taken a single day for three years.

    [...] Despite having only five paediatricians and 212 general practitioners, Malawi has eliminated measles and immunised 80 per cent of its children against the most dangerous diseases.

    The country's expensively trained personnel are a prize catch for the NHS. Dr Michael O'Carroll, senior technical adviser at the health ministry, said this amounted to "Malawi subsiding other countries".

    The health ministry has an emergency plan to improve staff pay and conditions, to bring 300 expatriate doctors into Malawi's hospitals and to increase greatly the capacity of medical training colleges. This £150 million plan requires £54 million aid from Britain. (source)

    Monday, July 19, 2004

    Zimbabwe/Eqatorial Guinea: update on the mercenaries

    A handy timeline of the saga.

    The trial date for the 70 alleged mercenaries in Zimbabwe's custody has been postponed to July 21. It was initially set to start today but was postponed to accomodate an appeal by their families scheduled to be heard today in a South African court.

    The families in South Africa want their government to extradite the men and try them in South Africa. The families took the government to court to force it to do just that ... but lost the case in early June. It is this decision that the families are appealing.

    However, one exception is the family of Simon Mann, the alleged leader of the 70 suspected mercenaries. Mann and his family are not appealing the decision.
    "Mr Mann and his family remain convinced that there are more appropriate ways than legal challenges to promote the South African government's understanding and support for the position of the 70 men," said [attorney Mariette] Kruger. (source)
    The lawyers representing the remaining 69 men are asking ...
  • That the South African government be compelled to help the men enforce their human rights in the Zimbabwean jail where they are being held;

  • That the South African government be ordered to request the men's extradition or release to South Africa;

  • That the South African government be ordered to stop Robert Mugabe's government from extraditing the men to Equatorial Guinea and seek assurance from both countries' leaders that the men will not be given the death penalty. (source)
  • It appears the families are most worried about that last prospect ... that the men would be sent to Equatorial Guinea. According to reports, the government of Equatorial Guinea wants the men transferred to its custody. A couple of months ago, there was a report that Zimbabwe had agreed to extradite the men in return for a cheap supply of oil.


    And across the continent in Equatorial Guinea ...

    Eight of the 15 alleged mercenaries in the custody of the Equatorial Guinea authorities are South Africans. Their trial is reportedly going to take place towards the end of this month. South African Foreign Minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has promised the government will do all it can to ensure that the men get a fair trial ... and that they will "engage the government around that issue of the death penalty should it be necessary." South African President Thabo Mbeki has ordered his chief prosecutor, Bulelani Ngcuka, to send a team of lawyers to monitor the trial. Ngcuka said the team of lawyers would go there "not only to monitor the trial, but to advise and assist the prosecution".

    Also ... the government of Equatorial Guinea is suing, in a British court, the people it alleges were behind the coup plot on the "rarely-cited legal grounds of civil conspiracy." Named in the suit are Simon Mann; Eli Calil, a Chelsea-based oil tycoon; Greg Wales, a London businessman; Severo Moto, the exiled opposition leader; and two of Mr Mann's companies.


    Early last week, Alwyn Griebenow, a lawyer defending the 70 men in Zimbabwe, accused the South African government of conducting secret talks with British lawyers to help transfer Mann to England. However, Griebenow said he doesn't have any proof of this. He is also no longer representing Mann. UPDATE July 21 ... Mann has decided that he wants Griebenow to continue defending him.

    According to Sunday's Observer, Mann has some very powerful friends in England whom he has called upon to help him. (The article also contains details from Mann's "confession".)

    Post about the alleged plot ...
  • Equatorial Guinea: a coup? mercenaries?

    If nothing else ... see this 60 Minutes story about Equatorial Guinea.

    Although the other 69 defendants all hold South African passports, 23 originally come from Angola, 18 from Namibia and two from Congo. Most of them were black soldiers in the apartheid-era South African army. (source)
    UPDATE II: The trial actually started on July 22. It was postponed for an extra day after lawyers said they needed more time to finalise charges.

  • Sunday, July 18, 2004

    Namibia: Germany "not prepared" to offer Hereros reparations

    The German ambassador to Botswana told a gathering of Herero that Germany is not prepared to offer reparations.

    More on what happened to the Herero here.

    Friday, July 16, 2004

    DRC/Rwanda: draft UN report says Rwanda supported Congolese rebels

    David Lewis (Reuters)  got his hands on and wrote a story about a draft UN report that says Rwanda  gave "direct and indirect" support to the forces that attacked the town of Bukavu in early June. 

    The draft report was prepared by a panel of security and customs experts for a UN Security Council committee monitoring the arms embargo on eastern Congo.  UN Expert Panel on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth in the DRC.

    When Bukavu was taken over by the rebel forces, the Congolese government almost immediately pointed the finger at Rwanda.  Rwanda quickly denied that it had had anything to do with it.  The rebel leaders, General Laurent Nkunda and Colonel Jules Mutebusi, also denied receiving any help from Rwanda.  And just last week, the AU Commission Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konare delivered a report in which he stated that Rwanda was not involved ... a report that caused Congolese President Joseph Kabila to cancel his trip to the AU Summit.  Kabila has has not wavered from his belief that Rwanda is involved.  
    However, the draft report (from the bits quoted in the Reuters story) seems to contain enough detail to raise serious questions about Rwanda's involvement.    Here are the pertinent bits  ...
    Rwandan officials rounded up potential fighters in the border town of Cyangugu and promised them phones or $100 to fight with forces loyal to Colonel Jules Mutebutsi and General Laurent Nkunda, said the draft seen by Reuters Friday.

    "The group of experts concluded that Rwanda's violations involved direct and indirect support, both in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Rwanda, to the mutinous troops of Jules Mutebutsi and Laurent Nkunda," it said.

    "Rwanda has also exerted a degree of command and control over Mutebutsi's forces."

    [...] Contrary to Rwanda's claims, its army had not disarmed Mutebutsi's troops after the revolt but offered them refuge, the report said.

    "Approximately 300 of them, in uniform, remained in a coherent command structure, under the protection of Rwandan troops. The group concludes that these troops remain a latent threat to the DRC," it concluded after visiting Cyangugu.

    Rwandan forces had also maintained "semi-fixed positions" in remote parts of Congo's North Kivu province, the report said, citing satellite images of fixed heavy weapons encasements and discussions with sources in both countries.

    It also said trucks had been seen ferrying weapons to Congo through Rwandan and Ugandan border posts and cited weapon serial numbers as well as details of transit dates and routes. (source)
    UPDATE: One more piece of information from the report ...
    U.N. officials have expressed concern that it [capture of Bukavu] may also mark the beginning of a trend in which former rebel leaders who joined Congo's transitional government in June 2003 take up arms again.

    The followers of Jean-Pierre Bemba, a former rebel leader who was appointed vice president of Congo's transitional government, are transporting a "considerable amount" of heavy weapons and ammunition on Bemba's private planes to the airport in Gbadolite, the report says. It adds that Bemba's troops have barred U.N. military observers from entering the airport. (source)

    Niger: intelligence reports on Iraq "yellowcake" story

    I know I'm late posting this story ... but I wanted to read the intelligence reports for myself.  Well ... the parts relating to Niger anyway.
  • Lord Butler's "Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction"
  • US Senate Intelligence Committee's "Report on the US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq"    
    Regarding the claim made by Blair (and later Bush) that Iraq had sought to acquire uranium ("yellowcake" ) from Niger ...

    Lord Butler and his committee found that the intelligence, upon which Blair based his statements, "was credible". Here is how they justified that conclusion ...
    In early 1999, Iraqi officials visited a number of African countries, including Niger. The visit was detected by intelligence, and some details were subsequently confrmed by Iraq. The purpose of the visit was not immediately known. But uranium ore accounts for almost three-quarters of Niger’s exports. Putting this together with past Iraqi purchases of uranium ore from Niger, the limitations faced by the Iraq regime on access to indigenous uranium ore and other evidence of Iraq seeking to restart its nuclear programme, the JIC [Joint Intelligence Committee] judged that Iraqi purchase of uranium ore could have been the subject of discussions and noted in an assessment in December 2000 that: ". . . unconfirmed intelligence indicates Iraqi interest in acquiring uranium." (JIC, 1 December 2000) (source)
    The US Senate committee's report mentions a meeting in 1999 as well ... can't tell if they're talking about the same meeting though.  The meeting was mentioned in an intelligence report produced following  Ambassador Wilson’s trip to Niger.
    The intelligence report indicated that former Nigerian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mayaki was unaware of any contracts that had been signed between Niger and any rogue states for the sale of yellowcake while he was Prime Minister (1997 – 1999) or Foreign Minister (1996 – 1997).   Mayaki said that if there had been any such contract during his tenure, he would have been aware of it.  Mayaki said, however, that in June 1999, [redacted] businessman, approached him and insisted that Mayaki meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss “expanding commercial relations” between Niger and Iraq.  The intelligence report said that Mayaki interpreted “expanding commercial relations” to mean that the delegation wanted to discuss uranium yellowcake sales.  The intelligence report also said that “although the meeting took place, Mayaki let the matter drop due to the UN sanctions on Iraq.”  (source)
    Here is the thing ... in an interview with the BBC conducted a couple of days ago, Mayaki said he has no recollection of such a meeting.

  • As the following excerpt from the Senate committee's report shows, the CIA was initially skeptical about the Iraq-Niger intelligence.

    Although the NSC [National Security Council] had already removed the uranium reference from the [Cincinnati] speech, later on October 6, 2002 the CIA sent a second fax to the White House which said, "more on why we recommend removing the sentence about procuring uranium oxide from Africa: Three points (1) The evidence is weak. One of the two mines cited by the source as the location of the uranium oxide is flooded. The other mine cited by the source is under the control of the French authorities. (2) The procurement is not particularly significant to Iraq’s nuclear ambitions because the Iraqis already have a large stock of uranium oxide in their inventory. And (3) we have shared points one and two with Congress, telling them that the Africa story is overblown and telling them this is one of the two issues where we differed with the British." (source)
    But at some point between this fax and the State of the Union address in January 2003, something happened.  And I guess that something was the arrival of documents which proported to show that Iraq and Niger had indeed struck a deal, documents which were ultimately proven to be forgeries. 

    On June 17, 2003, nearly five months after the President delivered the State of the Union address, the CIA produced a memorandum for the DCI [Director of Central Intelligence] which said, "since learning that the Iraq-Niger uranium deal was based on false document earlier this spring, we no longer believe that there is sufficient other reporting to conclude that Iraq pursued uranium from abroad." (source)

    Also mentioned but not substantiated ... both the US and UK reports say there was intelligence that Iraq was also seeking uranium in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  The US report also mentions that Iraq might have gone looking for the stuff in Somalia as well. 

    Previous post ...

  • Niger: Iraq-Niger yelowcake story ... revived?

  • Thursday, July 15, 2004

    Botswana: man who helped create CKGR testifies on behalf of San

    CKGR = Central Kalahari Game Reserve

    George Silberbauer, an anthropologist and the British colonial district officer when the CKGR was created, testified on behalf of the San/Bushmen today.
    He said the Reserve was meant to protect San from encroachers and to preserve the animal and plant life upon which they depended. "The principal objective was to provide a haven for hunters and gatherers and the animals and other resources on which they depended," he told the Court. (source)
    Government attorney Sidney Pilane called Silberbauer's testimony "suspect and mischievous".
    He [Pilane] said the purpose of creating the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) in 1961 was not to establish “a haven for Basarwa” as Silberbauer claimed, but rather to get them off the back of the white farmers in Gantsi. Pilane asserted that the migrant Basarwa in the reserve were a nuisance to farmers as they came to the farms during the dry season to squat. While he [Silberbauer] acknowledged the squatting, the witness said that was not the main factor. The witness said that the Basarwa were not squatters and the land on which the 150 Gantsi ranches were carved out belonged to them. (source)
    Recall that one of the reasons cited by the government in the decision to resettle the San off the CKGR is that the San's current lifestyle threatens the wildlife in the reserve. However Silberauer's testimony seems to indicate that the San were not expected to live as traditional hunter-gatherers for all time.
    On the other hand, San had a choice to adopt a different lifestyle if they wished. The court wondered how that could happen if they lived alone in the Reserve. Dr Silberbauer replied that teachers were to be brought in and the San could develop game products as an initial step. (source)
    The San/Bushmen are called "Basarwa" in Botswana ... but the term/name has negative connotations.

    Previous posts on San/CKGR court case ...
  • Botswana: the San's day in court
  • Botswana: more on the San/Kalahari reserve dispute