Thursday, October 29, 2009

Anger at Zimbabwe UN envoy snub

The UN's torture investigator has made an angry return to South Africa after being refused entry to Zimbabwe.

Manfred Nowak was detained by officials in Harare who said he had no clearance to visit, despite his insistence he had an invite from the prime minister. "I have never in any other country been treated in such a manner," Mr Nowak, who had planned a week-long fact-finding mission, told the BBC. He blamed his treatment on the divisions within the unity government. "This is a major incident because you can't on the one hand invite a special rapporteur to meet the prime minister and on the other hand somebody gives an order to the immigration police not to let me in," he told the BBC's World Today programme.

His said his treatment showed there were clearly parts of the government who did not want him to assess "the current conditions of torture", and promised to file a strongly worded complaint.

'Cheap propaganda'

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC party stopped co-operating with the unity government two weeks ago, accusing President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party of failing to live up to its commitments in the power-sharing deal. Earlier this week, the MDC warned that Zanu-PF militia had launched a campaign of violence against it, reminiscent of last year's post-election violence. Human rights group Amnesty International has warned the country is on the brink of sliding back into violence. The BBC's southern Africa correspondent Karen Allen says this diplomatic snub reveals the tussle for power between two sides in an increasingly unhappy marriage. Mr Nowak's original invitation to come and investigate allegations of torture and mistreatment came from Zimbabwe's justice minister, who is a member of Zanu-PF. But it was withdrawn at the last minute, with officials citing a clash with a visit by a mediation team from the Southern African Development Community (Sadc).

Sadc is hosting a meeting in Harare to discuss the crisis. Nevertheless Mr Tsvangirai intervened and authorised the UN investigator to proceed with his visit. Earlier, the UN said in a statement that Mr Nowak welcomed regional efforts "to resolve the political crisis" in Zimabwe, but that the Sadc meeting was not a valid reason to cancel his visit. "Recent allegations that MDC supporters and human rights defenders have been arrested, harassed and intimidated during the past few days highlight the urgency of objective fact-finding by an independent UN expert," the UN said. Zanu-PF has described comments about allegations of violent attacks on MDC members as "cheap propaganda".

France halts African leaders case

A French appeals court has halted a lawsuit against three African leaders accused of embezzlement.

Anti-corruption group Transparency International had accused the leaders of using African public funds to buy luxury homes and cars in France. But the court ruled the activists could not act against foreign heads of state. Denis Sassou-Nguesso of Republic of Congo, Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea and the late Omar Bongo of Gabon denied any wrongdoing.

The court's ruling was welcomed by lawyers for Mr Nguema, who were quoted by Reuters news agency as saying it showed that "attempts to use the French justice system for obscure purposes are doomed to fail".“ Those in France and Africa who organise and take advantage of the looting of African public money will be celebrating with champagne ” William Bourdon, lawyer. The case followed a 2007 French police investigation which found the leaders and their relatives owned homes in upmarket areas of Paris and on the Riviera along with luxury cars, including Bugattis, Ferraris and Maseratis. Transparency International had argued that it was not possible that the men and their entourages had bought the assets through their legitimate salaries.

Last May, a French magistrate had ruled that the case, which became known as the "ill-gotten gains" case, was admissible in a French court. But representatives of the leaders had contested that ruling, saying that as civil society activists, Transparency International had no right to act as plaintiffs against heads of state.


Transparency International said it would appeal against Thursday's ruling. The organisation said it regretted the court's "legally questionable" decision to throw out their case. In a statement, it said the move was "all the more regrettable because it prevents the opening of a case even though there is no doubt that the holdings identified by the police could not have been made solely with the salaries and fees of the targeted heads of state".

The ruling showed that French law "still needs to evolve" to allow groups such as them to take legal action, it said. "Without that, we will continue to deprive victims of corruption of an indispensible means to guarantee their rights."

Gabon and Republic of Congo are former French colonies, while Equatorial Guinea is a growing oil exporter. Mr Bongo - who was African's longest-serving leader - died in June, but members of his family were also named in Transparency International's case.

Kenya to launch homosexual census

Kenya is to carry out a census of its gay population in an effort to bolster the fight against HIV/Aids - despite homosexuality being against the law.

Nicholas Muraguri, head of Kenya's Aids prevention programme Nascop, told the BBC it was vital that the government reached out to the gay community. He said gay people suffered from a lack of information about the disease. But analysts say many gay people will be afraid to come forward in a country where homosexuality can result in jail. Mr Muraguri conceded that an accurate count was unlikely. “ Kenyans cannot actually afford to say that the gay community are isolated somewhere in the corner ” Nascop's Nicholas Muraguri

But he told the BBC's Network Africa programme that getting a clearer idea of the number of gay people would be a huge help with targeted interventions such as provision of condoms. He said the survey would involve gay men identifying each other, and officials carrying out HIV tests and providing along with information on safe sexual practice. "Kenyans cannot actually afford to say that the gay community are isolated somewhere in the corner - they are part of our lives," he said. "This group must be reached with information and services so they know how to protect themselves from getting infected."

Analysts say Kenya has made progress in its fight against HIV/Aids - one-in-10 people had the virus in the late 1990s, a rate that has now fallen to 6%. The BBC's Gladys Njoroge in Nairobi says the census, which will begin in June next year, will be the first of its kind in Africa. But Kenyans are divided over its impact, with some Nairobi residents saying they did not believe it would help control the spread of Aids.

Gay Kenyans told the BBC they would be willing to be counted - but only if their identities were protected. Homosexual activity is punishable by up to 14 years in jail in Kenya.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Our focus is to give PEACE A priority in Bissau

In what could be described as a boost to the peace and reconciliation efforts in Guinea Bissau after the landmark July 26 presidential run-off election, veteran opposition leader of the Social Renewal Party, Kumba Yala has stated that their main focus and interest today is to give priority to peace in their country.
The veteran politician was speaking to a group of journalists at State House in Banjul yesterday afternoon, shortly after his closed door meeting with the Gambian leader, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh. Yala, an ex-president of the former West African Portuguese colony who was on a private visit to The Gambia told journalists about their commitment to foster dialogue and consultations with a view to ensuring continuous peace, democracy and development in Guinea Bissau, a country that is currently witnessing fresh democratic dispensation under President Malang Bachai Sanha.
The SRP leader went on to indicate that he and the president have been friends for a very long time, saying ?we share the same political view in defence of Africa and its democracy in our own way, especially based on the realities existing in each country,? he stated. This, he continued, is what they are doing to exchange ideas from time to time and to find ways and means of achieving common objectives, he concluded.

It can be recalled that Kumba Yala contested under the banner of his Social Renewal Party in the first round of the June 28 2009 presidential election in Guinea Bissau. However, as no candidate won a majority in the first round of election, Yala went into the run-off poll on the 26 July, 2009, contesting against Malang Bachai Sanhna (now president), of the governing African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde. The peaceful election that was described as free and fair by observers saw Sanha sweeping the polls by 63 percent of the votes, allowing Kumba Yala to consoled himself with only 36 percent of the votes.
That political development has gone a long way in restoring peace, democracy, normalcy and hope among not only Bissau Guineans but as well as goodwill friends of the country. Going by the words of Kumba Yala, it is worthwhile to state that the Bissau-Guineans are indeed ready to put the past behind in the interest of national unity and have also heeded to the advice of President Jammeh, who has since championed the peace and reconstruction process of Bissau, resulting to the current political dispensation.
source: daily observer
Submitted by F.C. Malang

'Guinea scam cost a year of my life'

Jonathan Ngolo, a 65-year-old retired lecturer from Kenya, tells the BBC how he was kidnapped and held hostage for one year and 16 days after being scammed in Guinea's capital, Conakry.

When you get beautiful business, think twice. Make sure that you have physical contact with those people who are saying they are doing business, and do not rely on e-mail. What happened is that my son who lives in the US got in touch with some people in Conakry. He told me he was going to Guinea to set up an agreement with a Guinean mining company to supply his people in the US with 1,000kg of gold dust. But then he was unable to fly as his travel documents were not in order and so I went on his behalf. Guinea does not have an embassy in Kenya and so the people in Conakry sent me a form to allow me to enter into the country and get a visa on arrival. I flew via Accra. On arrival in Conakry, I came out of the arrivals, and the ones who were receiving me shouted my name and so I went to them. They said they were taking me to the company's guest house; what they called a villa.

Blasting water

But then when we got to the villa they told me they were arresting me under the terrorist act. The place they confined me in was a six-by-six room with no ventilation. I stayed inside that room for one year and 16 days.

They only opened it to give me food three times in a week but it was very, very irregular. I was sleeping on the floor without anything to cover myself. They stole all my belongings - my clothes, my phone, my wallet, everything I had on me. All I was left with was underwear and a vest. They would clean me by blasting water on me every morning. This was usually at the same time as when they were giving me my food. Every now and then they would make me call home and ask for money. They said if they didn't get money, they would not be able to feed me. My family sent them money - they sent a total of 900,000 Kenyan shillings [almost $12,000, £7,000]. My son, he didn't know what to say when he heard about what was happening to me. He got in touch with the authorities in the US and they in turn contacted the Guinean ones. But all that time, they never traced my location.


All that time the people who were holding me were telling me they had consulted their oracle and they had been told they couldn't sacrifice me to their god and so, instead, I should pay them some ransom. The ransom they wanted was $500,000. They used to say that I was not keen to ask for the bail money to save my life - because no-one was sending the money, and so, they tortured me. The one that was in charge - the older one - put a cigarette in my eye and another would hit me. I still have the marks. They beat me. They kicked me severely, they broke three ribs and they hit me on the legs. One is very swollen, even now, it is very painful. I didn't wonder would I ever get out of there or would I survive? I had faith. It is faith in God. What kept me going was prayer. I was praying to my nation, to the world leaders.

Strangely on the 25 September they came to me, they opened the door. Then they told me to come out and they took me to another room. They told me their spirits had said they were to release me on the condition that when I went home, I must then send the ransom.

'A lot of joy'

They told me: 'Thank your God, you are going to be going back home to your family to your country.' They shaved me and gave me back one of my shirts. Then they decided I should leave and so they allowed me to use their telephone to call my family. They gave me 25,000 Guinean francs [$5] and told me to leave. I made my way to the airport and stayed there until my family could send me money to pay for a flight. The money they gave me wasn't even enough to pay for a good meal. I was so hungry. Now I am back in Kenya I am thankful. I thank my God. My neighbours, my family members were praying for me and thinking about me; it gives me a lot of joy. I thank God for them.

I prayed for peace in that country [where there was a coup in December after the death of long-time Guinean leader Lansana Conte]. And when the killing happened [of opposition supporters at a stadium last month] I prayed for restoration of peace, even now I am praying for peace in that country.

Submitted by Martha Mutale

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pupils are missing as Guinea school reopens

On 28 September, Guinean troops opened fire on a mass opposition rally at a stadium in the capital Conakry.

The Guinean Human Rights Organisation said 157 were killed in the violence and over 1200 injured. The military government put the death toll at 57. In the weeks since the massacre, this head teacher has been struggling to reopen his school. Here is his account of school life since 28 September: Schools across the country were due to reopen on the day of the massacre

Lessons resumed a few days ago with just 65 of 400 pupils present [less than 20% of the school]. We are still trying to discover whether any of their pupils were among the victims of the massacre. The school is directly affected: significant numbers of my students have left the country, and others had gone into hiding. We have teachers who had fled to Sierra Leone and they are very skeptical of coming back to Guinea.

Our school in Conakry is a few miles from the national stadium where crowds converged to protest against the Military leader on Monday September 28, 2009. We were to start classes the day the incident took place - but had to call off and I was at the school campus with a few teachers to send kids home and give parents information. Our area was calm, though there were sporadic gun shots just few a miles from us. The streets were very tense with military convoys armed to the teeth.

At around noon, the news spread about the massacre that took place at the stadium. The streets became completely empty, and everyone is murmuring the numbers and wondering what next? I managed to come close to the stadium the next day, Tuesday, but it was no go zone. We proceeded to the hospital which is a mile from the stadium and the numbers of victims at hospitals were overwhelming. There were people crying, others are desperately looking for their loves one but couldn't find them. The atmosphere in the hospital is very, very shocking. I left the hospital without seeing any sign of my students, teachers and parents among the victims. We will do whatever we can to support our pupils.

Education means everything to my students. They come to school even on weekends. Each child is bright light of promise for the family. I have never seen kids who are so eager to learn.

Three killed in violent Kampala riots

By Vision Reporters

THREE people were reported dead as violent riots linked to the Kabaka’s planned tour of Kayunga district spread to the city and across Buganda.

By press time, 39 people had been injured in the riots, triggered off by false reports that Katikkiro Walusimbi had been arrested on his way to Kayunga. He was expected to prepare for the Kabaka’s visit which was slated for tomorrow. The city suddenly flared up into chaos in the afternoon as Kabaka supporters engaged the Police in running battles. They pelted vehicles with stones, barricaded roads with logs and huge boulders, lit bonfires, looted property and torched buildings.

The chaos first erupted around Kiseka Market and spread quickly to Wandegeya, Bwaise, Kawempe and Maganjo-Kagoma on Bombo Road, stretching the Police to the limit. Military Police moved in with armoured vehicles to take charge of the situation. Offices and shops closed down and motorists vacated the roads amid sporadic gunfire, teargas explosions, a heavy presence of regular and anti-riot Police backed by military Police.

In Bwaise, demonstrators set a huge store on fire before going on a looting spree. The Police fire brigade put out the fire. The rioters also set ablaze the Natete Police station, and the vehicles parked there. A Police woman in Natete was stripped naked and beaten up. Reports also said some shops in the city were looted.

In the city centre, Kabaka supporters barricaded Entebbe Road near Centenary Bank with logs and burned tyres. They turned all vehicles away, threatening motorists and stopping them from going to Market Street.

Commotion erupted in Kawempe when four policemen, attempted to stop a rowdy group from barricading the road. They were disarmed and their guns taken. Kawempe Police boss Joel Aguma confirmed the incident.

Outside Kampala, too, rioters resorted to violence and looting. In Kyengera, on the Masaka highway, youth seized a truck loaded with sodas. They grabbed the sodas before burning the truck. In Nabbingo, also on Masaka highway, irate youth stopped buses and roughed up passengers. In Mukono angry youth attacked a bus, smashing the windows and injuring passengers. The Police rescued them.

Two of the dead were reportedly killed by stray bullets near Shoprite on Ben Kiwanuka Road. One was a Saracen private security guard and the other a Congolese businessman who was shopping. A bullet ripped through his stomach. A third man was shot in the eye in Bwaise and died on the spot. The bodies were taken to Mulago Hospital. “The guard was standing in the door when I suddenly saw him fall down after a military truck fired live bullets in the air,” said a shaken Annet Namusisi, a telephone booth operator.

By evening, more than 30 people had been rushed to the casualty ward at Mulago Hospital with various injuries, ranging from gunshot wounds to broken limbs. Most of them were from Bwaise, Kalerwe and Kanyanya suburbs.Four policemen were also rushed to Mulago Hospital with injuries. One of them, Alex Wabwire, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, had his leg shattered. He was reportedly shot by rioters who snatched a gun from a guard. Eliphaz Sekabira, the hospital spokesperson, said 39 people were being treated. Three people were arrested and detained at the Central Police Station in connection with the riot, said Kampala metropolitan deputy Police spokesperson Henry Kalulu. However, many others were reportedly detained at Wandegeya Police Station.

It took the combined effort of the Police and the army to quell the riots in the city centre, which returned to relative calm at around 4:00pm. Thousands of commuters were stranded till late for lack of transport, forcing many to walk home. The few taxis on he road charged exorbitant fares.By press time, major roads such as Masaka, Jinja, Gulu, Hoima and Entebbe roads, were still blocked by angry protesters with logs and bonfires. Riots were also still going on in the suburbs of Kampala, such as Nateete, Bwaise and Busega, as well in the districts of Mityana, Mukono and Wakiso.

A motorist on Mityana Road said the road was blocked by protesters at Bira, causing a long queue on either side. Stranded motorists and passengers, including foreigners, threatened by violent youth, were calling The New Vision journalists, pleading for help. In Kampala, mambas with military policemen criss-crossed the city at night, while foot soldiers patrolled in single file.

Reported by Steven Candia,Chris Kiwawulo, Charles Ariko and Patrick Jaramogi


How does corruption impact women?

Although some may assume that corruption is gender-neutral in terms of its lack of ethics and resource-depleting impact, corruption compounds the discrimination women already experience on large and small scales.

By Masum Momaya

Defined as “an inducement to do wrong by improper or unlawful means,”[1] corruption exists on all scales – through bribes exchanging hands in interpersonal transactions, through leaking local and national coffers and through transnational deals made outside of, or in spite of, regulatory mechanisms and oversight.

While some may assume that corruption is gender-neutral in terms of lack of ethics and resource-depleting impact, research shows that corruption compounds discrimination already experienced by women and other marginalized groups.[2] Generally, this compounding occurs as women attempt to take part in decision-making processes, seek provision of and protection for their rights and gain control over resources.[3]

Largely due to their social roles as caretakers, many women may be familiar with petty corruption – the kind that forces them to pay bribes for things like accessing utilities, securing school enrollment for their children, obtaining a driver’s permit or business license, taking out a loan or getting medicines or an examination by a doctor. Add a layer of corruption to gender-based discrimination, and these routine transactions become difficult.

In such situations, poor women often cannot pay bribes and some are forced to pay with sexual services or find a male patron to secure basic rights and services.[4]

Similarly, corruption at the macro-level in the political arena, in public sector contracting, in transnational business transactions and in development aid processes also compounds discrimination women already face in these spheres.

Corruption in the Political Arena

Worldwide, women are underrepresented as voters and candidates in elections. In the histories of most nations, women were legally prevented from casting ballots or standing as candidates. Today, even though these laws have been repealed almost everywhere, women still face barriers in politics due to corruption.

In the absence of strong campaign finance laws or oversight, many candidates receive money from sources that are corrupt or potentially corrupt. Not only are the sources of funding not often disclosed but sitting public officials, the majority of which are men, sometimes abuse government resources like office space, materials, phone and internet access and voter lists in their campaign operations.[5]

Since women are less likely to be tapped into the ‘old boys network’ when they stand as candidates, they have a marked disadvantage against those with money and access.

Similarly, candidates with access to money and power can bribe voters directly with food, cash and clothing – or threaten to withhold basic services if people do not vote for them. In Mexico, for example, voters testified that they had been “threatened with the withdrawal of subsidies under the state poverty-alleviation programme, Progresa, if they voted for the opposition.”[6]

Many voters also face electoral fraud and vote stuffing when they go to the polls. For instance, in the 2008 national elections in Pakistan, due to power imbalances within the home, men were able to take the identity cards of their female relatives, dress up in burqas, and go to the polling stations to cast extra votes as women. Party-affiliated workers working in concert with these voters oversaw the stations, and they did nothing to prevent or rectify this fraud.[7]

In Kenya, political candidates like Green Belt Movement leader Wangari Maathai have provided a counterexample to this ‘business as usual’ in politics by building a strong grassroots base of mainly women voters and small donors to succeed in elections.[8]

Corruption, however, is not just confined to elections. The ongoing presence and strength of lobbyists ensures that those with the ability to offer money and gifts gain privileged access and undue influence on policymakers.[9]

Also, once in power, high-level politicians, most of whom are men, often experience immunity from persecution and enjoy immense personal power.[10] For example, many heads of state have not been adequately tried and prosecuted for their part in war crimes, including the use of rape as a weapon of war.

On a day-to-day level, many high-level leaders also cannot be held accountable for their lack of delivering basic goods and services like food, water, electricity and medicine to their citizens. Here, with little access of channels of accountability alongside growing burdens as caretakers, women bear the brunt of providing for such goods and services when governments or their contracted suppliers fail to deliver.

Corruption in Public Sector Contracting

According to Transparency International, a global coalition against corruption, “on average, approximately 70% of central government expenditure turns in one-way or another into contracts. Contracts are sources of power to those who give them out, and targets of ambition for those who may receive them, making [them] particularly prone to abuse at the expense of public need.”[11]

Moreover, “public contracting is one way in which public policy is implemented, and it is an enormous and lucrative area of business. Think of pharmaceutical companies vying to supply a government vaccination program, the privatization of a government-owned telecommunications company, or the awarding of contracts to reconstruct destroyed infrastructure in Iraq.” [12]

Most of the awarding of contracts takes place through the informal meeting spaces of the old boys network rather than open and fair bidding processes. Women who, in addition to being shut out of these networks, have a hard time obtaining credit and licenses to start and grow businesses are rarely contenders for these contracts.

Meanwhile, since genuine efforts to serve the public interest and provide accessible, affordable services are often not the foremost criteria for awarding contracts, public funds are misused, fair competition is distorted, and basic needs are neglected.[13]

Again, women are often forced to compensate with their time and labor. For example, when private sector leaders with relationships to public officials were brought in to manage water distribution in places like Bolivia[14] and South Africa,[15] water was either not delivered or distributed at exorbitant costs. In addition to mobilizing to resist this, women had to find other means to get water and ward off ensuing health and sanitation challenges due to lack of clean, potable water

Corruption in Transnational Business Transactions

Until the recent formulation and adoption of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention in 1999, not only was it legal for companies to pay bribes to foreign public officials to secure contracts, they received tax breaks from their home governments for doing so. Today this is illegal, but the process of prosecution is so expensive and cumbersome that such bribery continues, often through the smokescreen of intermediaries.[16]

The arms trade and energy sector are particularly vulnerable to this form of corruption.[17] Due to its clandestine nature, it has been difficult to hold companies responsible for illegally selling arms to public officials, and the flood of arms into many countries has increased civilian violence and overall militarism, in which women and children are often victimized.

In the energy sector, as poor countries discover oil or gas reserves, the proceeds often seep into pockets of public officials and intermediary deal brokers.[18] Artificially high prices for fuel are set, and this, in turn, also inflates costs of fuel-dependent goods such as food. As women are most often the ones to compensate for changes in the cost of living, the burden of corruption’s effects bear down on them.

Corruption in Development Aid

Similarly, development aid can fuel corruption. Civil society organizations in countries with weak governance and large influxes of aid have warned that foreign assistance can sometimes present perverse incentives to invest in sectors and projects not prioritized by the receiving governments.[19] Aid can also distort salary structures and create opportunities for corruption by the private sector in countries where regulatory mechanisms are weak.[20]

Gender-differentiated impacts also ensue. For example, in the 1960s and 1970s, donor countries and agencies, and their private sector subsidiaries, including pharmaceutical companies, largely managed population control projects in the developing world. Sterilization and largely untested contraceptives were the primary means used to control population growth - in contrast to investment in sexual and reproductive health education and comprehensive services that accounted for the socioeconomic realities of women’s lives.[21] In some cases, relatively weak governments were unable to push back on such policies whereas in other cases, public officials in receiving countries were fully cooperative, pocketing some of the aid and profit for themselves.

Nevertheless, aid can also serve as an anti-corruption force – not through conditionalities – but by building strong transparency, accountability and regulatory systems. Implementing such an agenda takes foresight, skill and cooperation on the part of both donors and recipients and some international donors are taking active steps to implement anti-corruption measures.

Changing, Not Playing, the Game

In the end, regardless of the spheres in which corruption occurs, in order for women, other marginalized groups and ordinary citizens to not be multiply disadvantaged, nepotism, bribery, the undue influence of special interests and illegal, unethical dealings must be uprooted. Simultaneously, women and all other groups need more access to information. In many cases, women do have rights but are not aware of them or how to exercise them. In such cases, corrupt decision-makers are not challenged. Overall, the goal is not that more people enter the networks where corruption takes place so that they can ‘play the game’ but rather to change the rules of the game such that corruption doesn’t consume and monopolize resources that need to reach and benefit people.






















[21] Bandarage, Asoka. Women, Population and the Global Crisis: A Political Analysis. London: Zed Books, 1997.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ethiopia asks for urgent food aid

The Ethiopian government has asked the international community for emergency food aid for 6.2 million people.

The request came at a meeting of donors to discuss the impact of a prolonged drought affecting parts of East Africa. The UN's World Food Programme says $285m (£173m) will be needed in the next six months. Some aid officials say the numbers of hungry could rise. Aid agency Oxfam has called for a new approach to tackling the risk of disaster in the country. In a report marking 25 years since the famine that killed around one million Ethiopians, Oxfam said that imported food aid saves lives in the short term but did little to help communities withstand the next shock.

The report, named Band Aids and Beyond, called on international donors to adopt a new approach focused on preparing communities to prevent and deal with disasters before they strike. "Drought does not need to mean hunger and destitution," said Penny Lawrence, Oxfam's international director, who has just returned from Ethiopia. "If communities have irrigation for crops, grain stores, and wells to harvest rains then they can survive despite what the elements throw at them."

'Total wipe-out'

Ethiopia has been hit by the food crisis affecting a large part of East Africa and the Horn. Last month Oxfam launched a $15m (£9.5m) emergency appeal for the whole East African region, where it is suggested that 23 million people in seven countries are under threat. The WFP, which is also calling for aid to the region, says cuts in its funding have made it more difficult to feed people. It says it is particularly concerned about Eritrea, where it is unable to collect data because of restrictions on movement. The drought, brought on by four years of bad harvests, has been made worse by conflict, climate change and population growth. BBC Africa analyst Martin Plaut says government policy banning land sales to keep people out of urban areas has also contributed. All these other factors combined are at least as important as lack of rainfall, he says. Fields of maize, burnt and withered by the sun, are the evidence of an emerging crisis, says the BBC's Mike Wooldridge in the Ethiopian town of Mekele.

In both the hardest-hit south of Ethiopia and in places in the north, farmers have told the BBC they face a total wipe-out of their harvests. Some said they planned to sell their livestock, so damaging their livelihoods further. Many aid officials say the figure of 6.2 million affected could rise further when the government makes its next assessment in mid-November.

On its website the WFP gives a figure of more than 10 million people in total affected by drought in Ethiopia. The problem is compounded by high food costs, the WFP adds, with cereal prices doubling on many markets. But the UN body's greatest concern is that there is currently no funding at all for a feeding programme to prevent moderately malnourished children from slipping into severe malnutrition and the risk of death.

•Drought costs $1.1bn a year
•70% of humanitarian aid from US
•10m people affected by drought
•4.6m threatened by hunger and severe malnutrition
•38% of under-fives under weight


Martin Plaut, Africa analyst There is no doubt poor and erratic rains have hit the Ethiopian harvest. But large parts of the country have not been hit by drought. So why the current crisis?
It is in part the result of policies designed to keep farmers on the land, which belongs to the state and cannot be sold. So farms are passed down the generations, divided and sub-divided. Many are so small and the land so overworked that it could not provide for the families that work it even with normal rainfall.

At present only 17% of Ethiopia's 80 million people live in urban areas. Keeping people in the countryside is a way of preventing large-scale unemployment and the unrest that this might cause.

Africa - the board game

From Nelson Mandela to Muammar Gaddafi, national leaders have long dreamt of a united Africa. Now, the developers of a new board game are promising to help realise that vision.

Scattered about are 25 small squares, each of which covers a little piece of Africa. “ The aim is to make the African youth be aware of the need to work closely together and to quickly achieve the United States of Africa ” Salif Tidiane Ba

Players use a dice and banknotes in the traditional African currency of the cowry, and they have to answer questions on the challenges facing Africa, or on Africa's history. An example: "Which African country used to be called Dahomey?" The answer, for those who could not guess, is Benin. As they answer the questions, the players gradually fit the map of Africa back together. This is Jekaben, a board game designed by committed pan-African Salif Tidiane Ba.

Huge challenge

Mr Ba thinks it could breed a new generation of pan-Africanists across the continent. The game's name, Jekaben, is a term in the Bambara language which he says means "let's unite and decide together". "The aim is to make the African youth be aware of the need to work closely together and to quickly achieve the United States of Africa," he says. Although he concedes it is a huge challenge which many leaders have failed to meet, he is confident it can become a reality. Well, within the limits of the game at least.

As well as answering questions about the continent, players of the game can also grab some of the new opportunities offered to the continent, such as mining concessions. And they can collect trump cards - from a pack entitled "Wise leaders of Africa". The statesmen - including Col Gaddafi, Mr Mandela and Senegal's Abdoulaye Wade - are regarded by Mr Ba as symbols of pan-Africanism. "Their cards are used as trump cards, they allow the player to move faster towards the United States of Africa," he says. But he is aware that not all of his "wise leaders" will meet with universal approval. Included in the pack is Nigeria's Olusegun Obasanjo, a former military strongman.

The late Omar Bongo of Gabon, who was accused of massive embezzlement of his country's oil wealth during four decades in power, is also featured. And Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah, who was overthrown in a coup after his rule descended into authoritarianism, also gets a card of his own. Mr Ba admits that the choice is a very personal one.

Not child's play

But he hopes that the end justifies the means. At the end of the game, an African map should be drawn on the board. The players then get their African passport - the final step and ultimate reward. The game already exists in English, Arabic and French and is also being translated into Spanish and Portuguese. Mr Ba also hopes African languages will soon be catered for. "We are planning to have it translated by next year into Swahili, Mandingo, Hausa, and other African languages," he says. So far, the game is being made in local workshops but Mr Ba is hoping to produce it on an industrial scale and sell it across the continent.

One of his main challenges will be to generate enough interest to popularise the game and reach the masses. Not all of the questions are child's play. Another example: "Which African author wrote Things Fall Apart?" Perhaps pan-Africanism will not prove so easy after all.

Guinea junta faces EU sanctions

Guinea's military junta is facing the prospect of an arms embargo imposed by the European Union, reports say.

EU member states are believed to have voted on the decision on Wednesday, although it still has to be formalised. Sources told the BBC there had been a "consensus" between voting members that the action was necessary. The move comes after 150 unarmed opposition supporters were killed by soldiers in the capital, Conakry. A UN investigation has already begun. During the unrest Guinean troops opened fire on opposition protesters angry that the country's military leader, Capt Moussa Dadis Camara, intends to run for president early next year. It was claimed women were stripped and raped in the streets during the protest.

'Travel ban'

The Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) has already imposed an arms embargo on Guinea over the killings. France also quickly suspended military ties with Conakry. Now EU sanctions and arms embargo could come as early as next week, reports the BBC's Chris Mason, in Brussels. Leaders also face a travel ban and a freeze on financial assets once the sanctions are signed by foreign ministers. According to draft conclusions, the EU decided to target members of Guinea's junta and their associates, "responsible for the violent crackdown or the political stalemate in the country," the AFP news agency reported.

Last week, the EU's development chief Karel de Gucht said Capt Moussa Dadis Camara should be put on trial for crimes against humanity. Guinea's previous government was overthrown in a bloodless coup last December, after the death of former head of state Lansana Conte, who had ruled the country since 1984.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

HIGHLIGHT/AFRICA: Uneven Progress on Development Goals

Evelyn Kiapi interviews SYLVIA MWICHULI, deputy director of the U.N. Millennium Campaign Africa

KAMPALA, Oct 15 (IPS) - The Millennium Goals cannot be achieved at the United Nations. The U.N. can create a platform for governments to make commitments but cannot force compliance by member states.

Only citizens and their elected representatives – at the national level – can hold governments to account for the promises to reduce poverty made in 2000 at the UN General Assembly in New York.

The U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and his predecessor Kofi Annan both repeatedly stated that the missing ingredient is political will.

As the annual Stand Up, Take Action campaign on the Millennium Development Goals kicks off around the world, Sylvia Mwichuli, deputy director of the U.N. Millennium Campaign (UNMC) in Africa spoke to IPS about the need to demand accountability in both North and South. Excerpts of the interview below.

IPS: What MDG has seen the most dramatic progress?

SYLVIA MWICHULI: This is a general question which may hide the tremendous progress being made in individual countries. Different countries are scoring differently. Goals that may be met by one country may not be met by another and the reverse is also true.

That said, the goal of universal primary education is most likely to be met by all. According to 2008 United Nations MDGs report, by 2006 the net enrolment ratio exceeded 71 per cent in most of sub-Saharan Africa.

Great strides are being made on gender empowerment. Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Nigeria, South Africa, Malawi and Zambia are on course to realise this goal.

Ghana and most of the North African states are on course to meet all and even surpass some of the targets.

IPS: Where has there been the most dramatic failure?

SM: There are challenges in meeting Goal Three, gender equality and women's empowerment, and Goal Five, improving maternal health.
Girls' primary education enrolment still lags behind that of boys and their dropout rates widen as they go up the ladder of education.

African women still die in great numbers while giving birth. In fact, an African woman's risk of dying from treatable or preventable complications of pregnancy and child birth is 1 in 22 compared to 1 in 7,300 in developed countries.

IPS: What are the major stumbling blocks towards the achievements of the MDGs?

SM: The major stumbling block is failure of political will by both countries of the South and those of the North.

The developed countries - except a notable few - have not kept their end of the bargain on Goal 8 (develop a global partnership for development, including dealing with debt and creating a more open, and non-discriminatory trading and financial system).

With the exception of just 16 countries, Africa's debts have not been cancelled as promised. The countries of the North have not eliminated trade barriers like tariffs on goods from Africa as promised.
And they haven't increased overseas development assistance to the levels promised, while the quality of aid is still a source of concern.

Whereas African states dedicated themselves to creating favourable conditions in their countries, a look at their national action plans and budgetary allocations, shows a lack of commitment.

Many of them think of MDGs as yet another begging opportunity. MDGs aren't about aid but (about) prioritisation and proper use of our own nationally-generated resources.

In fact, some countries do not need aid at all, they just need a caring, accountable and a democratic government. But all we see are local and international development funds draining into pockets of government officials, politicians, local and foreign private companies. This denies the poverty-stricken, the expectant mothers and the children an opportunity to have an education or to get medication.

Goals number 1 to 7 can only be achieved at the national and local levels and not from New York or London.
IPS: Besides MDG 3, many of the millennium goals are specifically tied to the situation of women. Goals on maternal health, on education, and ultimately on reducing poverty, which in Africa particularly has a woman's face. How do government and civil society efforts to attain MDGs recognise the fact that reducing poverty is underpinned by women's rights and empowerment?

SM: Seventy per cent of world’s poor are women and children. The economic crisis that started in 2008 is expected to have the most devastating effects for women, who perform 66 percent of the world's work but earn only 10 percent of the world's income and own 1 percent of the world’s property.

It's against this background that the MDGs 2, 3 and 5 (were designed). It is evident that eradicating poverty is a function of ensuring women rights, ensuring girls attain education and also that women occupy key decision making positions to influence policy.

Governments recognise that poverty has a female face but what is lacking is the political will.

IPS: What is Piga Debe? What successes have been achieved with Piga Debe for women's rights?
SM: Piga Debe is a Swahili word for making a loud noise. This is a campaign started to fast track MDGs 3 and 5 that relate to women's health, gender equality and women's empowerment.
These are the goals that face the most risk of not being met by 2015 even by countries like South Africa, Uganda, Ghana and Rwanda that have made real progress on MDG 3.

IPS: How has the framework of attaining MDGs helped strengthen development in East Africa?

SM: Greater focus on universal primary education, poverty and women's empowerment and gender equality.
For example Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda have greatly increased budgetary allotment to the education sector, to 20 percent which is way above the global target.
We are also seeing more national funds being devolved, like the Community Development Fund in Kenya. Forty-eight percent of seats in the Rwandan parliament are women.

All this has been as a result campaign initiatives like MDG Parliamentary caucuses set up in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.
IPS: With less than seven years to 2015, do you think the MDG’s will be met? Wasn’t 2015 a farfetched target?

SM: Given the context in 2000 when the Millennium Declaration was adopted, the date was realistic. The MDGs have minimum targets realistic enough to be met by 2015 even in the least developed countries.
It seeks ‘halving’ the proportion of people whose income is less than US$1.5 a day by 2015? Why not say eliminate? Why should we halve it? It’s because different countries had to work in different situations. Given the resources the world has 2015 is reasonable and the goals are Simple, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound.
In the call to action on the MDGs developed before the UN General assembly at the High level Events in September 2008, it was estimated that an infusion of US$75 billion annually will accelerate the achievement of MDGs globally. This is peanuts compared to trillions of dollars being thrown at greedy bankers and financial speculators who caused the current global financial crisis. It is not bankers who need to be bailed out but the poorest and weakest peoples of the world.
IPS: What should be done differently to hasten the progress and endeavour to achieve the MDGs?

SM: National budgets, Plans and policies need to reflect the MDGs, especially those that still lag behind like poverty eradication, gender empowerment, maternal health and other health related MDGs.
It means that our legislatures at national level and elected councillors at local levels need stay awake to their responsibility of holding the executive to account while citizens at all level need to mobilize and advocate for people-based budgeting and monitor the delivery of services.

The current global crisis has shown us that the orthodox neo-liberal market-driven policies that our governments have embraced uncritically for so many decades cannot solve our problems.

We need to find a strategy that works, a strategy that delivers good health, decent jobs and human security to our peoples. Greed and corruption which have become culture of public officials and private corporations need to be checked ruthlessly as they undermine our development. Indeed corrupt government and individuals should be seen as mass murderers directly and indirectly.


Africa trade bloc suspends Niger

West Africa's trade grouping Ecowas has suspended Niger after President Mamadou Tandja went ahead with a controversial parliamentary election.

Ecowas had called on Mr Tandja to postpone the vote indefinitely to allow talks with opposition politicians - who have boycotted Tuesday's election.
They are angry at the president's attempts to extend his time in power.

Mr Tandja dissolved parliament earlier this year and had the constitution changed to let him seek a third term.

After talks at the weekend, Ecowas had warned the 71-year-old president to delay the election or face "full sanctions".

'Pariah' status

On Tuesday the bloc's political director, Abdel Fatau Musa, told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme it was clear Mr Tandja had rejected the decision of Ecowas.

He defended the decision to suspend the nation, saying it would affect Mr Tandja.

"If you are considered a pariah, an outcast, from an organisation you have ratified the conditions of, then psychologically it will affect you," he said.

He warned that the issue could end up in the UN Security Council, and Niger could be left in international isolation unless Mr Tandja backed down.

The president's move to stay in power in the uranium-rich nation sparked international outrage and dismay among opposition groups.

He had been due to stand down in December after serving two five-year terms.

But his supporters say the people want him to stay in power because he has brought financial stability to one of the world's poorest nations.

In January, French company Areva signed a deal to develop what it said would become the world's second biggest uranium mine.

The mine is in the semi-desert north, where ethnic Tuareg rebels have been fighting for more autonomy.

President Tandja has signed a peace deal with several Tuareg groups.

Six million people are eligible to vote to elect a new 113-member parliament, but correspondents say the campaign has been marked by indifference among residents.


UN man starts Guinea deaths probe

A senior UN official has started his investigation into the killing of opposition demonstrators in Guinea.

UN Assistant Secretary General Haile Menkerios is to investigate the events of 28 September, when Guinean soldiers opened fire on the protesters.

They were calling on Guinea's military ruler not to stand for election.

A BBC correspondent says Mr Menkerios' arrival is the most powerful sign yet that the world beyond Africa intends to pursue the case.

Human rights groups say some 157 people died in last month's clashes, but the junta puts the toll at 57.

On Sunday, Mr Menkerios met the military ruler, Capt Moussa Dadis Camara, Guinean Prime Minister Kabine Komara, and members of the opposition.

"The prime minister assured me that the government welcomes the investigation and will co-operate with it," Mr Menkerios said, reports the AFP news agency.

The Guinean authorities have blamed the September killings on out-of-control soldiers and opposition provocation.

Capt Camara has himself called for an investigation.

BBC West Africa correspondent Caspar Leighton says the arrival of the UN team in Conakry adds to the broad international pressure being put on the military government to write itself out of Guinea's political future.

So far Capt Camara has yet to yield, despite Saturday's African Union deadline for him to do so.

"Legally speaking, the deadline has expired but politically, we are still working to put pressure on the junta. It's the result that matters most," said AU Peace and Security Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra.

Capt Camara seized power in December 2008 and initially said he would not stand in the elections he announced for January 2010.

His coup after years of authoritarian rule under Lansana Conte was initially popular.

But rumours that he would seek election led to massive street protests, culminating in last month's bloody crackdown.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ode à la Guinée

Et par le soleil installant sous ma peau une usine de force et dàigles
et par le vent sur ma force de dent de sel compliquant ses passes les mieux sues
et par le noir le long de mes muscles en douces insolences des sèves montant
et par la femme couchée comme une montagne descellée et sucée par les lianes
et par la femme au cadastre mal connu où le jour et la nuit jouent à la mourre des eaux de sources et des
     métaux rares
et par le feu de la femme où je cherche le chemin des fougères et du Fouta-Djallon
et par la femme fermée sur la nostalgie s'ouvrant
                                    JE TE SALUE
Guinée dont les pluies fracassent du haut grumeleux des volcans un sacrifice de vaches pour mille
         faims et soifs d'enfants dénaturés
Guinée de ton cri de ta main de ta patience
il nous reste toujours des terres arbitraires
et quand tué vers Ophir ils m'auront jamais muet
de mes dents et de na peau que l'on fasse
un fétiche féroce gardien du mauvais oeil
comme m'ébranle me frappe et me dévore ton solstice
en chacun de tes pas Guinée
muette en moi-même d'une profonder astrale de méduses

Aimé Césaire, Soleil cou-coupé, 1948

Ode to Guinea

And by the sun installing a power and eagle factory under my skin
and by the wind elaborating the passes it knows best over my power of tooth and salt
and by the black rising along my muscles in sweet sap-like effronteries
and by the woman stretched out like a mountain unsealed and sucked by lianas
the woman with the little known cadastre where day and night play mora for springhead waters and
          rare metals
and by the fire of the woman in which I look for the path to ferns and to Fouta Jallon
and by the closed woman opening on nostalgia

                                                   I HAIL YOU

Guinea whose rains from the curdled height of volacnoes shatter a scarifice of cows for a thousand
           hungers and thirsts of denatured children
Guinea from your cry from your hand from your patience
we still have some arbitrary lands
and when they have me, killed in Ophir perhaps and silenced for good,
out of my teeth out of my skin let them make
a fetish a ferocious guardian against the evil eye
as your solstice shakes me strikes me and devours me
at each one of your steps Guinea
silenced in myself with the astral depth of medusas

Aime Cesaire, Soleil cou-coupe, 1948

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Guinea embargo over 'atrocities'

West African states have imposed an arms embargo on Guinea over the mass shooting of opposition supporters.

It comes amid growing criticism of the junta, led by Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, which seized power in December.

The Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) condemned "atrocities" in September in which Guinean troops opened fire on an opposition rally at a stadium in the capital Conakry.

Human rights groups say 157 people died but the junta puts the toll at 57.
It says most of the victims were trampled to death rather than shot, as opposition activists say.

Human rights groups say soldiers raped and sexually abused women during the crackdown, and the International Criminal Court (ICC) has opened an investigation into the deaths.

The EU has called for Capt Camara to be tried for crimes against humanity, while the African Union has called for him to step down.


An Ecowas statement issued on Saturday at the end of a special summit in Nigeria said: "In view of the atrocities that have been committed... the authority decides to impose an arms embargo on Guinea".

The 15-member group called on its chairman, Nigerian President Umaru Yar'adua, to take "all necessary measures" to obtain the support of the African Union, European Union and United Nations to enforce the embargo.

Former colonial power France has already said it will stop weapon sales to the military government.

France on Friday urged its nationals - thought to number some 2,500 - to leave the mineral-rich country.

The French foreign ministry said the security situation in Guinea had worsened since the 28 September protests.

"Banditry, in particular armed robberies, have increased and there is no short-term prospect that the situation will improve," said a statement on the ministry's website.
Criminals had been following travellers from the airport and then robbing them when they get home, it added.

Meanwhile, Guinea's information minister, Justin Morel Junior, became the third minister to step down in a week, saying he no longer had the "moral strength" to speak for the government.
After September's protest, Capt Camara pointed the finger of blame at "controllable soldiers", adding that the opposition should not have held a banned rally.

When he took over the country last year, Capt Camara promised he would not stand in an election he scheduled for next January.

But recently he has hinted he would stand, sparking widespread condemnation and opposition protests.


Saturday, October 17, 2009



The ECOWAS Commission has expressed concern over reports of grave violations of human rights in The Gambia, Guinea and Niger.

This is contained in the final Communiqué of the meeting of the Network of National Human Rights Institutions of ECOWAS Member States after successfully completing a three day meeting in Banjul. The main objective of the meeting, amongst others, was to consolidate on the achievements of the February 2009 meeting of the Network held in Cotonou, Benin.

The Network also recognised and called on the government of The Gambia to be more tolerant of human rights activities and opposition groups in the country.

The communiqué also stressed the need for the Gambia government to ensure the protection of media practitioners in the practice of their profession.

On Guinea, the report called on ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Governments to immediately organise an election in which serving members of the ruling military junta, the CNDD, will not participate and that will usher in a credible civilian and democratic government. It also stated that the upcoming summit of the Authority of Heads of State and Governments should facilitate the imposition of sanctions targeted at the military Junta.

On Niger, the Network recommended their immediate suspension from ECOWAS until democratic structures and the rule of law are restored in the country. It also called for the release of journalists and other political prisoners being held by the government in Niger. The Network also called on ECOWAS to encourage dialogue among political stakeholders in Benin and Togo in their preparation for the forthcoming elections in their respective countries.

According to the final Communiqué, the National Institutions of Human Rights during their presentation highlighted some of the challenges that the National Networks are confronted with. These include inadequate financial resources for the institutions to perform their roles effectively, the inability of governments of Member States to safeguard citizens, social, economic and cultural rights due to inadequate resources and corruption, slow dispensation of justice and prison congestion, inadequate judicial personnel in some Member States, were mentioned as challenges. The other challenges highlighted also include mariginalisation of women in the political space and violence against women, and coordination with the Ministry of Justice.

In order to avert such challenges, the Network stressed the need for a provision to ensure annual evaluation of country’s human rights report in the region by the ECOWAS Commission and the Network.

The need for human rights institutions for information exchange among the commission was also mentioned.

They also called on governments to establish and strengthen Human Rights Institutions in accordance with the Paris Principe.

The final communiqué also stressed the need for the Network to be involved in ECOWAS Election Observation Missions and that civil society involvement in the network’s activities should be enhanced.

The following Member States were represented at the meeting. Republic of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote D’ Ivoire, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.
Submitted by FC Malang

Friday, October 16, 2009

Ghana out to make history at U20

Ghana have the chance to make history on Friday when they take on Brazil in the final of the Under-20 World Cup.

The Black Satellites and their Nigerian counterparts have both been runners-up twice, but no African team has ever gone on to win the event. Ghana coach Sellas Tetteh firmly believes it is time for that to change. "Africa will win the tournament and Africa will change that trend," he said the day before the game. "An African player has scored 8 goals at the tournament (Ghana's Dominic Adiyiah) and that has never happened before."

Standing in their way are a Brazil team who are the second most prolific goal scorers in the competition, behind Ghana. "I look at a team holistically. I take any member of the team seriously. I don't like to pinpoint individuals," Tetteh said. "They are wonderful, very skilful, technically sound, fast on the ball - so composed, such a high scoring side and especially a team to beat!" The difference between the two sides is in the number of goals they concede. Where Ghana have let in eight goals, Brazil's defence has been breached only three times in the whole tournament.

Brazil coach Rogerio says that is down to the organisation of his whole side. "From the beginning, the main goal was to achieve balance between the whole team," he said. "The defence is working that well because the team is balanced and working as well in other areas of the pitch." Brazil have won this event four times, compared to their great rivals Argentina's six. But Sellas Tetteh thinks this is the time for Africa to win for the first ever time, as the continent hosts three global tournaments in 10 months. "It is a massive tournament, it's like the tournament is being staged in our country," he said when asked about the reaction back home in Ghana. "Getting this far, people have a lot of focus and tomorrow we need to bring joy to the country and to the continent.

Guinea ruler 'must face charges'

The leader of Guinea's new military government should be put on trial for crimes against humanity, the EU's development chief has told reporters.

Karel de Gucht says the suppression of a opposition rally in the capital Conakry last month was "an act of brutality never seen before". He said that sooner or later leader Capt Moussa Dadis Camara would have to stand in court. More than 150 people were killed when troops opened fire on demonstrators. "This is a crime against humanity. It is a crime against the citizens of Guinea," Mr de Gucht told reporters in Ethiopia. "The international community has agreed that, if such things happen, those individuals have to be brought to justice. But Guinean Prime Minister Kabine Komara told the BBC it was premature to talk of criminal acts and that a full inquiry was needed first to establish the facts.

Bloodless coup

Capt Camara was internationally criticised after gunmen opened fire on protesters in Conakry on 28 September, killing more than 150 people and wounding around 1,000 more. He has denied any responsibility for the incident, saying it was the fault of foreign mercenaries, unruly army elements and a crowd stampede, reports say. Guinea's government was overthrown in a bloodless coup last December, after the death of former head of state Lansana Conte, who had ruled the country since 1984. On coming to power, Capt Camara said he would curb corruption and drug trafficking, improve army discipline and set up elections for early next year, in a bid to transfer power.

The Conakry protests were sparked by persistent rumours that Capt Camara intends to stand as a presidential candidate in elections scheduled for next January - something he had previously ruled out. Ministers of the West African economic group, Ecowas, have also been meeting in Nigeria this week to try to resolve the crisis. The bloc suspended Guinea after last December's coup. On Tuesday, the International Contact Group on Guinea said the country's military leadership should stand down and make way for a transitional authority.

Nigeria lifts gunshot medical ban

Nigeria has lifted a law which forced hospitals to withhold emergency treatment from victims of gun attacks until a police report had been filed.

Officials revoked the law, in place since the 1980s, over concerns about a rising death rate from bullet wounds. It comes weeks after newspaper editor Bayo Ohu died from bullet wounds after a hospital reportedly waited for a police report rather than treat him. Nigeria is notorious for gun-related crime including kidnapping and robbery. Earlier this year its commercial capital, Lagos, topped a poll of the world's most dangerous places to work. The BBC's Raliya Zubairu, in Abuja, says the government is threatening to withdraw the licences of any clinics failing to abide by the new ruling.

'Inhuman and callous'

The killing of Mr Ohu, who worked on Nigeria's Guardian newspaper, increased the clamour to change the law on emergency treatment for gunshot victims. He was attacked by gunmen in his home on 20 September. After his death senior politicians including Senator Osita Izunaso launched a campaign to have the law changed. He told the senate: "A situation where our medical practitioners, on the basis of police report, refuse to treat victims of gunshots who are left to die is inhuman and callous." Police chief Uba Ringim confirmed that all police stations had been ordered to inform clinics in their vicinity that the rules had changed. "We have sent out circulars and have warned our men not to query any hospital that treats accident or gunshot victims," Nigeria's This Day newspaper quoted him as saying.

"It is unfortunate that hospitals refuse to give care. What is important is to protect lives, treat them, give them all the attention and later contact the police with all the information."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Guinée Conakry : Le soutien de Ticken Jah Facoly à Dadis ?

Au cours d’un point de presse organisé le mercredi 14 octobre 2009, à son domicile Bamakois, Ticken Jah Facoly, célèbre musicien ivoirien du reggae, après avoir condamné les tueries du 28 septembre 2009 à Conakry, s’est dressé contre la politique de deux poids deux mesures des Etats occidentaux en Afrique.

La Guinée va mal. Et cela coupe le sommeil à Ticken Jah Facoly. Après l’exemple ivoirien, le reggaeman ne souhaite plus voir un autre pays de l’Afrique de l’ouest sombrer dans une crise qu’on peut éviter. Pour cela, il a pris son bâton de pèlerin pour prôner le dialogue serein entre les différentes parties guinéennes avant qu’il ne soit trop tard. « Il faut poser des actions anticipatives en Guinée pour éviter que ce pays ne connaisse une guerre civile aux conséquences désastreuses », a-t-il déclaré. Après avoir soutenu que sa démarche ne vise pas à soutenir un ou combattre un pouvoir ou une opposition, Ticken Jah Fakoly a indiqué que les leaders d’opinion en Afrique doivent dénoncer un certain nombre de choses, notamment la politique de deux poids deux mesures que les occidentaux appliquent en Afrique au gré de leurs intérêts.

Ensuite, Ticken s’est souvenu qu’il a été parmi les premiers a demander au pouvoir de l’époque en place en Côte d’Ivoire de laisser Alassane Dramane Ouattara allé à la compétition présidentielle. « Mais, à l’époque, j’ai pas été entendu et aujourd’hui, après des milliers de morts et une guerre qui peine à prendre fin, les autorités ivoiriennes sont en passe d’accepter la candidature de Alassane Dramane Ouattara », a-t-il indiqué. Avant de déclarer que la Guinée n’est pas aujourd’hui loin de l’exemple ivoirien. « Il faut éviter que la Guinée ne s’embrase comme cela a été le cas en Côte d’Ivoire », a-t-il souhaité. Selon lui, si rien n’est fait pour une réconciliation en Guinée, il faut craindre que ce pays ne sombre dans une guerre irréparable et dramatique.

Ticken Jah Facoly a indiqué qu’il a été en Guinée à deux reprises depuis l’arrivée de Dadis et du CNDD au pouvoir. Selon lui, sa première visite en Guinée, avait pour objet d’aller soutenir les guinéens dans leur transition. Et surtout de demander au Capitaine Moussa Dadis Camara de s’inspirer du cas du Malien Amadou Toumani Touré et de ne jamais choisir de faire comme feu le général Robert Guei de la Côte d’Ivoire. Ticken Jah Facoly s’est rendu en Guinée pour la deuxième fois dans le cadre de sa tournée africaine placée sous le thème d’ « Un concert une école ».

« Pour moi, si le Capitaine Moussa Dadis Camara réussissait sa transition, la Guinée allait entrer dans une nouvelle ère et son échec allait symboliser le désespoir pour tout un peuple », a-t-il révélé. Mais, Ticken Jah Facoly, comme tous les africains qui ont vu, à un moment donné, en Moussa Dadis Camara, une nouvelle race de dirigeants africains qui sont prêts à dire non aux dirigeants occidentaux, pense que la campagne médiatique initiée par les organes de presse internationaux depuis le 28 septembre 2009, n’a qu’un seul objectif : faire partir celui qu’ils considèrent comme étant contre leurs intérêts en Guinée. Malgré, les nombreuses tueries de Conakry, Ticken Jah Facoly invite les africains, notamment les guinéens à réfléchir sur l’acharnement des occidentaux contre le Capitaine Moussa Dadis Camara.

Refuser la manipulation des occidentaux

Tout en condamnant ce qui s’est passé à Conakry le 28 septembre 2009, Ticken Jah Facoly, avec des exemples à l’appui, pense que Moussa Dadis camara est victime d’une politique de deux poids deux mesures de la part des occidentaux. « Au Togo, aux lendemains des élections qui ont conduit Faure Gnassigbé au pouvoir, les contestations ont fait plus de 400 morts et personne n’a levé le petit doigt en France pour lui demander de quitter le pouvoir. A Madagascar, il y a eu de nombreux morts qui n’ont pas été médiatisés.

Au Soudan, après de nombreux crimes commis au Darfour, les chefs d’Etat africain ont fait bloc pour soutenir le Président soudanais menacé par le tribunal pénal international », a-t-il dénoncé. Avant d’indiquer que les occidentaux ont toujours eu la petite manie pour faire partir les leaders africains qui les empêchent de piller les ressources du continent. Il dira que Samory Touré a été accusé de tous les maux, avant d’être arrêté en 1898, pour mourir en déportation au Gabon, loin de son peuple. De même, il a révélé que Patrice Lumumba a été arrêté et assassiné après une compagne de dénigrement orchestrée de mains de maîtres.

Plus proche de nous, il dira que Thomas Sankara, arrivé avec une politique particulière a été dénigré et assassiné. « Est-ce que la jeunesse africaine doit rester placide pour assister les occidentaux qui les privent de tous leurs leaders qui arrivent avec des propositions concrètes de nature à conduire leur pays vers le développement. L’Afrique doit-t-il perdre tous ses leaders qui sont en contradiction avec les pays occidentaux qui n’aspirent qu’à piller nos richesses », s’est-t-il demandé. Ticken Jah Facoly veut savoir pourquoi les occidentaux qui n’ont jamais bougé le petit doigt pour condamner et chasser du pouvoir les chefs d’Etat africain qui ont fait des exactions contre leur peuple, se dressent subitement contre le Capitaine Moussa Dadis Camara et le CNDD.

« Est-ce parce qu’il a mis en cause les termes d’un certain nombre de contrats de concessions minières et menace de revoir la concession du marché de téléphonie dans l’intérêts de la Guinée », s’est interrogé l’artiste reggae, avant d’inviter la jeunesse africaine et tous les leaders du continent à une profonde réflexion sur le cas guinéen, pour mieux comprendre le drame qui se joue à Conakry. Selon Ticken, la Guinée de Sékou Touré est l’un des pays africains qui n’a pas encore touché à au moins 75% de ses ressources naturelles. « Ni Sékou Touré, encore moins Lassana Conté, n’ont pas touché à cette richesse minière qui fait encore de la Guinée un scandale géologique. Et, cela, dans un monde où les grandes puissances ont soif de ressources, cela attire des convoitises », a-t-il déclaré. Avant d’inviter la jeunesse africaine à se mettre debout comme un seul homme contre le pillage de ses ressources par ceux qui lui ferment leurs frontières.
« Est-ce que, malgré quelques faiblesses du Capitaine Moussa Dadis Camara, on doit oublier ce qu’il a fait en 9 mois, dans le domaine de l’électricité, de l’eau potable et de la lutte contre la drogue en Guinée. Les guinéens doivent laver leur linge sale en famille et refuser de livrer Dadis mains et pieds liés aux occidentaux qui n’aspirent qu’à piller les ressources du pays », a-t-il estimé. Après les tueries de Conakry, Ticken pense qu’il fallait rapidement mettre sur pied une commission internationale d’enquêtes pour situer les responsabilités, arrêter les auteurs et les juger.

Mais, il est surpris que les européens qui nous ont habitué aux enquêtes qui n’ont jamais donner les résultats escomptés ailleurs, se précipitent pour désigner de coupables en Guinée, sans le minimum de précaution. Il pense qu’il est aussi injuste de laisser le général mauritanien légitimer son pouvoir par des élections controversées et d’encourager Tandia à tripatouiller la constitution du Niger pour se maintenir au pouvoir et à vouloir s’opposer à une candidature du Capitaine Dadis en Guinée. « Nous devons refuser la manipulation des occidentaux », a-t-il conclu.

Assane Koné


ECOWAS Network of National Human Rights Institutions Meets

The Network of National Human Rights Institutions of ECOWAS Member States have convened a three day meeting in Banjul to review the state of Human Rights in member states.
The meeting, which opened on Tuesday, will lay emphasis on the challenges and achievements in the various member countries.

In his welcoming remarks, ECOWAS Commission Adviser, Democracy and Good Governance, Prof. Ade Adefuye, said the existence of Human Rights Institutions is an important means by which ECOWAS intends to build, sustain and strengthen institutions that contribute towards democracy and good governance in the region.

“The existence of these National Human Rights Institutions as well as regional and continental human rights networks are means by which governments seeks to ensure the existence of human rights of its citizens,” he said.

Prof. Adefuye added that every ECOWAS Member State has its national human rights institution headed by top government officials armed with the mandate to ensure the survival and implementation of human rights principles.

He, however, noted that they are not entirely satisfied with the level of autonomy granted to these national institutions by their respective national governments. He said that there is much that needs to be done as far as their mode of operation is concerned.

“No matter the level of development within the political entity, if the citizens are deprived their human rights, they cannot feel happy and contented,” Prof. Adefuye remarked.

He added that one of the things they hope to achieve from this meeting is to seek ways by which the cause of human rights in the region can be enhanced and strengthened.

As part of the meeting, Mr. Adefuye further stated that they will consider a draft Constitution which will provide a guide for their activities and assist them in the objective of promoting human rights in the region.

The Commission Adviser on Good Governance and Democracy said ECOWAS at every level is doing all it can to ensure proper adherence to the ideals and principles of their Protocol. He said the objective of the founding fathers of ECOWAS can only be achieved if the human rights of the citizens are maintained, protected, given the expression in their ability to elect their own governments, enjoying equality before the law amongst others..

In officially opening the meeting, on behalf of the Minister of Justice, Isatou Graham , Senior State Counsel, said the Gambia is yet to establish a national human rights institution but noted that they are working closely towards that direction.

Madam Graham highlighted some of the strides achieved in the areas of human rights such as the signing of the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa that recognises that women have a right not to be subjected to violence, injury, abuse and harmful traditional practices. She said they have also domesticated other significant Conventions as substantive law such as Trafficking in Persons Act 2007, and the Children’s Act of the Gambia 2005.

Editor’s note

According to Article 35 of the Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance

1 .”Member states shall establish independent National Institutions to promote and protect Human Rights

2. “The executive Secretariat shall take measures to strengthen their capacities. The institutions shall be organised into a regional network.

“Within the framework of this network, each national institution shall systematically submit to the executive secretariat, any report on human rights violations observed in its territory.

“Such reports and reactions of governments shall be widely disseminated through the most appropriate means.”

Article 36 states that “Member states shall institutionalise a national mediation system”.

There is therfore no room for violation of human rights with impunity in any ECOWAS state.

Source: foroyaa news paper
Submitted by Fatou C Malang

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Guinea confirms huge China deal

Guinea's military rulers have agreed a huge mining and oil deal with China, officials have told the BBC, amid continuing criticism of the junta.

Guinean Mines Minister Mahmoud Thiam said a Chinese firm would invest more than $7bn (£4.5bn) in infrastructure.

In return, he said the firm would be a "strategic partner" in all mining projects in the mineral-rich nation.

Guineans are currently on strike to remember dozens of protesters killed by soldiers during a rally two weeks ago.

The shootings were widely condemned by international leaders and opposition groups within Guinea.

Agricultural Minister Abdourahmane Sano resigned on Monday, saying he could no longer show solidarity with the government.

And the president of West Africa's economic bloc, Ecowas, warned that the country was in danger of slipping into another dictatorship.

There are widespread calls for junta leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara to step down.
After last December's coup he promised to lead a transitional government and hand power back to civilians after an election scheduled for January 2010.

But there has been growing anger at reports that he intends to stand for president.

'Placing foundations'

China has been praised recently by think-tanks and African leaders for choosing to invest in infrastructure and business in Africa, rather than doling out aid money.
But analysts say the timing of the Guinea deal is likely to stir controversy, as the legitimacy of Guinea's government is under question.

Mr Thiam dismissed those concerns, saying the government is trying only to help the people.

"We are all in a transition, putting down foundations. We hope that the government that follows us will follow suit," he told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

He did not name the firm involved, but said it was the same firm that has invested billions in Angola - the Hong Kong registered China International Fund.
He said the firm would help build ports, railway lines, power plants, low-cost housing and even a new administrative centre in the capital, Conakry.

He said a national mining firm would be set up, with the Chinese company becoming "strategic partners".

"All the government's stakes in various mining projects will be put in that mining company. Future mining permits or concessions that the government decided to develop on its own will be put in that company," he said.
Guinea is thought to have the world's largest reserves of the aluminium ore, bauxite.

Source: BBC News