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Mugabe admits land reform blunder in Zimbabwe
February 28, 2015 | 1 Comments

By Fanuel Jongwe* [caption id="attachment_16735" align="alignleft" width="300"]Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe attends his inauguration and swearing-in ceremony at the sports stadium in Harare on August 22, 2013 (AFP Photo/Alexander Joe) Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe attends his inauguration and swearing-in ceremony at the sports stadium in Harare on August 22, 2013 (AFP Photo/Alexander Joe)[/caption] Harare (AFP) – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has admitted he blundered by giving ill-equipped black farmers vast tracts of farmland seized from whites under his controversial land reforms.

In an interview with the state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) late Thursday to mark his 91st birthday on February 21, Mugabe also declared he is still in charge, dismissing speculation that his increasingly powerful wife Grace is now running the show.

“I think the farms we gave to people are too large. They can’t manage them,” Mugabe said, referring to black farmers who benefited from the land reforms.

“You find that most of them are just using one third of the land,” he said, a surprisingly candid admission of charges that the reforms were poorly executed.

In the past, Mugabe has blamed a drastic drop in agricultural production on erratic rains due to climate change and western sanctions, which he said hampered his government’s efforts to procure equipment for the farmers.

The reforms, launched in 2000 and accompanied by violent evictions of white farmers, were aimed to resettle blacks on 4,000 commercial farms.

The farmlands were parcelled out to tens of thousands of blacks.

The land seizures have reduced Zimbabwe from being the regional breadbasket to having to import grain from neighbouring Zambia and other countries, as most of the beneficiaries lacked both farming equipment and expertise.

The rural population now often relies on food aid and at the worst times families are forced to skip meals to preserve their seed stocks and feed on wild fruits and edible leaves.

Critics say the land reforms mostly benefitted allies of the veteran leader, who has been in power since 1980.

Although an individual is not allowed to own more than one farm, Mugabe’s wife Grace reportedly owns several.

Mugabe said in the interview that despite his wife’s surprise rise to key positions in the ruling ZANU-PF, he was still in charge of both the party and state affairs.

Grace Mugabe last year became the leader of the influential women’s wing in the party.

“She is not the power behind my throne,” said Mugabe of his 49-year-old wife. “She has come into politics in her own right.”

Her surprise nomination to lead the women’s league and be given a seat in ZANU-PF’s powerful politburo sparked speculation that she could be aiming to succeed the ageing ruler in the event of his death or retirement.

– Using one-third of land –

[caption id="attachment_16736" align="alignright" width="300"]Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's controversial land reforms launched in 2000, accompanied by violent evictions of white farmers, was aimed to resettle blacks on 4,000 commercial farms (AFP Photo/Alexander Joe) Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s controversial land reforms launched in 2000, accompanied by violent evictions of white farmers, was aimed to resettle blacks on 4,000 commercial farms (AFP Photo/Alexander Joe)[/caption]

During a series of rallies last year she denounced Zimbabwe’s then deputy president Joice Mujuru, claiming she was fomenting factionalism and plotting to topple Mugabe.

Mugabe subsequently sacked Mujuru, replacing her with long-time ally and hardliner Emmerson Mnangagwa. Several of Mujuru’s allies, including party spokesman Rugare Gumbo and cabinet ministers, met a similar fate.

Grace said at a rally last year that as a Zimbabwean she had a right to aim for the presidency, lending credence to the speculation that she was seeking to succeed her husband.

Mugabe, the world’s oldest leader, will be feted at a massive party to be hosted by the ZANU-PF youth wing at a hotel in the resort town of Victoria Falls on Saturday.

His health has been subject of speculation following reports that he is making frequent visits to the Far East to seek medical attention. Government officials insist he is fit and that his only health concern was an eye cataract.

Mugabe said his long life was thanks to God and a strict diet on his part.

“I eat well, not filling my stomach,” he said in the interview aired on state television.

“Eating foodstuffs that I believe will sustain one most. You must eat well and really not go for food because it’s attractive.”

Mugabe also played down his fall at the country’s main airport earlier this month which sparked speculation about his physical fitness.

“I would want to see a person who hasn’t fallen down. I don’t see the reason why anyone should be surprised that the president has fallen.”

*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>

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Museveni launches road works
February 24, 2015 | 0 Comments

Kitgum- President Museveni has commissioned construction works for Olwiyo-Gulu-Kitgum and Musingo roads in Lamwo District all covering 229 kilometres.

[caption id="attachment_16591" align="alignleft" width="300"]Museveni flags off the Olwiyo-Gulu-Kitgum-Musingo road works at Anaka Town Council in Nwoya District on Saturday. PHOTO BY CISSY MAKUMBI  Museveni flags off the Olwiyo-Gulu-Kitgum-Musingo road works at Anaka Town Council in Nwoya District on Saturday. PHOTO BY CISSY MAKUMBI[/caption] Speaking during the commissioning in Pagen village, Layamo Sub-county last Saturday, the President urged residents to utilise the roads whose construction will cost government Shs525 billion.
“This road upgrade is a key development, the aspect of poverty eradication should be explored through utilising the tarmac road to transform the economy of the country,” Mr Museveni said.
Warned against theft He also warned residents against stealing fuel. “I am warning the public to refrain from dubious acts of stealing the contractor’s equipment and fuel,” Mr Museveni said.
The President said upgrading of Rwekunye–Masindi port–Apac– Pader to Acholi bur Road would start soon.
The Minister for Works, Mr Abraham Byandala, urged the public to cooperate with the contractors and pledged government’s commitment to compensate residents whose property will be destroyed during the construction.
Mr Byandala said government had completed much of the road upgrade in the greater north, citing the Gulu– Nimule road, Vurra–Arua–Oraba– Koboko road and Gulu-Kamdini – Kafu road, which is ongoing.
Several contractors to do the job
Contracts have been awarded to Zhong Mei Construction Company, which will work on the 70km stretch from Olwiyo in Nwoya to Unyama in Gulu while 73km section from Unyama to Acholi Bur in Pader is being handled by China Railway N0-5. Chongqing International Construction Corporation will undertake the construction of 86 km section from Acholi Bur to Musingo at the Lamwo at South Sudan border. The construction will take three years. *Source Monitor
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Liberia leader urges help in post-Ebola phase
February 24, 2015 | 0 Comments

By ADAM SCHRECK* [caption id="attachment_16578" align="alignleft" width="300"]Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf speaks to The Associated Press during an interview in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015. Liberia's leader is urging the United States and other countries to keep up their support to the West African nation as it recovers from the Ebola epidemic and refocuses attention on infrastructure projects that will better position it to tackle future outbreaks of disease. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili) Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf speaks to The Associated Press during an interview in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015. Liberia’s leader is urging the United States and other countries to keep up their support to the West African nation as it recovers from the Ebola epidemic and refocuses attention on infrastructure projects that will better position it to tackle future outbreaks of disease. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)[/caption] SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Liberia’s leader on Sunday urged the United States and other countries to keep up their support to the West African nation as it recovers from the Ebola epidemic and refocuses attention on infrastructure projects that will better position it to tackle future outbreaks of disease.

In an interview with The Associated Press, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said Liberia needs outside help to see through its “post-Ebola agenda” of building up basic public services — development that she said was needed to prevent another deadly epidemic from becoming “a global menace.”

Among the needs she highlighted were power projects to keep hospital equipment running, roads so the sick can access medical facilities, and clean water to prevent diseases from spreading.

“Our own limited resources have not enabled us to take them to the level where they could … be in a preventive mode. And that’s the support we want,” she said.

“The great lesson in all these things, you know, whether you’re dealing with conflict or whether you’re dealing with disease, is to emphasize prevention rather than cure. It costs so much when you have to fix it,” added Sirleaf, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.

Deeply impoverished Liberia was one of the countries hardest hit in the West Africa Ebola outbreak that began last year and ranks as the largest in history. It has seen more than 9,000 confirmed, suspected and probable cases, and 3,900 deaths.

Liberia, founded in 1847 by freed American slaves, has long had close ties to the U.S.

Sirleaf was elected president in 2005 after years of civil war, and was re-elected to a final term six years later. She is in the United Arab Emirates city of Sharjah, near Dubai, to address the International Government Communication Forum.

She will travel to Washington later this week to meet with President Barack Obama to discuss the Ebola response and the region’s economic recovery.

Sirleaf acknowledged that her country could have been more aggressive in fighting the epidemic at the outset. But she also said she wished the U.S. and other developed countries, with their better resources and expertise, would have moved faster.

“We were slow. The world was slow. Everybody was fearful. It was an unknown enemy,” she said, adding that she was grateful for the international help — including 2,800 American troops deployed to the region — when it arrived.

That outside support helped bring the epidemic under control, allowing life to start returning to normal. Schools began re-opening last week, and Sirleaf on Friday ordered the lifting of an overnight curfew set up in August to try to contain the disease.

The president has also called for the country’s land border posts to be reopened. Officials on Sunday held a ceremony announcing that Liberia’s border with Sierra Leone was officially opened.

The disease has not been wiped out entirely, though.

Eight patients who have tested positive are still being cared for in Liberian treatment centers, and eight health care workers in the capital Monrovia are being kept under observation after they came in contact with a patient who tested positive.

Sirleaf cautioned that more must be done. That concern is echoed by experts who have warned that recent setbacks in neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone could imperil the regional effort to fight the disease.

In Guinea, where the outbreak began, 52 new cases were reported in the latest World Health Organization update, and health workers continue to face security threats as they try to trace contacts, discourage unsafe burials and educate communities. Sierra Leone is recording the most cases, with 74 included in the latest WHO update.

“Now’s not the time to be complacent or to pull out or to … stop the support. Now’s the time to really intensify it so we put in those proper preventive measures to make sure there’s no recurrence,” Sirleaf said.

The U.S. is preparing to withdraw nearly all of the troops it deployed last year to help stem the spread of the Ebola outbreak. About 100 will remain to work with Liberia’s military, regional partners and American civilians.

Jeremy Konyndyk, director of the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Development, said more than 10,000 civilian personnel from various countries will remain engaged in the fight against Ebola in West Africa long after the U.S. military pulls out. That figure includes members of non-governmental organizations working on Ebola and United Nations employees.

“The civilian capacity that is now in place is several times greater than the military capacity that was here,” he said in an interview during a visit to Monrovia. “We are planning to keep that capacity in place as much as it’s needed.”

*Source AP/Yahoo]]>

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I'm no racist, whites welcome, says South Africa's Zuma
February 21, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Lawrence BARTLETT*

Cape Town (AFP) – South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday denied that he was a racist and assured white people that they should not fear being “chased” out of Nelson Mandela’s “Rainbow Nation”.

The president also said that a new law preventing foreign ownership of land in South Africa applied only to agricultural properties and not to private residences.

[caption id="attachment_16535" align="alignleft" width="300"]South African President Jacob Zuma, answers questions arising from the debate on his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last week at the parliament in Cape Town on February 19, 2015 (AFP Photo/Rodger Bosch) South African President Jacob Zuma, answers questions arising from the debate on his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last week at the parliament in Cape Town on February 19, 2015 (AFP Photo/Rodger Bosch)[/caption]

Zuma was reacting to concerns raised by some white South Africans after he told a rally of his ruling African National Congress that all the country’s troubles began when the first white settlers landed more than 300 years ago.

“South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white,” he told parliament, quoting the ANC’s Freedom Charter, which was adopted during the fight to end the white racist system of apartheid.

Breaking away from his written speech in response to debate on his state of the nation address last week, he said: “We are a rainbow nation, nobody will chase you away. There should be no fear.”

But, he said, he would never stop talking about history because South Africa’s children should know the country’s past to ensure that mistakes were not repeated.

Zuma’s off-the-cuff remarks won enthusiastic applause.

It was a redemption of a kind for the president, who has been under fire over the past week since security forces were called into parliament to evict lawmakers who disrupted his annual address by accusing him of corruption.

He said the government was committed to freedom of speech and pledged that the cutting of mobile phone signals in parliament ahead of his address — a move which infuriated reporters and opposition lawmakers — would never happen again.

– ‘No reason to get angry’ –

Addressing the uproar in parliament for the first time, he called for all parties to preserve the dignity of the national assembly, saying “I see no reason why we should get angry”.

Radical lawmakers of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), who led the disruption last Thursday, remained silent and seated throughout his speech.

But their leader, Julius Malema, has pledged to confront Zuma again over alleged corruption when he returns to parliament for presidential question time on March 11.

While not dealing with the EFF’s demands that he repay some of the $24 million in taxpayer money spent on “security upgrades” to his private residence, Zuma did address their complaints that too much of South Africa’s wealth remains in white hands 20 years after the end of apartheid.

“Inequality is still staring us in the face. Census 2011 informed us that the income of households has hardly changed and that the income of white households is still six times more than that of black households.”

The black majority also owned just three percent of the Johannesburg stock exchange, he said, pledging to “deracialise the economy”.

Zuma also addressed concerns that planned land reforms limiting the size of farms to enable redistribution of agricultural land to blacks would create a food crisis in the country.

Quoting statistics claiming that just 100 farmers produce 70 percent of South Africa’s food, he said: “We are taking these actions precisely because the fate of too many is in the hands of too few.”

An “inclusive and scientific process” would ensure “that nothing is done that will prejudice food security in the country,” he said.

*Source Yahoo/AFP]]>

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Zambia's new president names full cabinet
February 14, 2015 | 0 Comments

Patriotic Front presidential candidate Edgar Lungu votes in Lusaka on January 20, 2015 in Lusaka (AFP Photo/Salim Dawood) Patriotic Front presidential candidate Edgar Lungu votes in Lusaka on January 20, 2015 in Lusaka (AFP Photo/Salim Dawood)[/caption] Lusaka (AFP) – Zambian President Edgar Lungu Thursday announced he would keep his position as defence minister when he unveiled his full cabinet following his election last month.

“I will remain minister of defence until further notice,” he said in a statement broadcast live on radio.

Lungu came to power in January after the death of president Michael Sata in October. Zambia’s former president Levy Mwanawasa also remained minister of defence after his election in 2001, before appointing George Mpombo.

Lungu made several more ministerial appointments after naming a partial cabinet in January.

The resulting 22-minister-strong administration has some new faces, including two lawmakers from the opposition Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD), but retains many names from Sata’s tenure.

Chishimba Kambwili becomes Information Minister, with the MMD’s Vincent Mwale replacing him as Sports Youth, and Child Development Minister.

His MMD colleague Michael Kaingu is the new Education, Science and Technology Minister, with the ruling party’s John Phiri now shifted to the Local Government and Housing portfolio.

Yamfwa Mukanga would continue as minister of Transport, Works and Communication.

“Like in a football team, I will not hesitate to make substitutions when needs be,” said Lungu.

Still not included in the lineup is former vice president Guy Scott — who was briefly Africa’s only white leader.

As interim president since the death in office of Michael Sata in October, Scott had been the first white leader on the continent since the end of apartheid 20 years ago.

Lungu replaced him as vice president with Inonge Wina, a former gender minister and chairwoman of the ruling Patriotic Front.

Scott, who is of Scottish descent, was prevented by the constitution from standing for the presidency himself as his parents were not born in Zambia.

He is now expected to remain a backbencher.

*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>

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African Union should stop depending on external funding, says Uhuru –
February 1, 2015 | 0 Comments

[caption id="attachment_16043" align="alignleft" width="300"]Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photo/PSCU President Uhuru Kenyatta holds bilateral talks with United Nations Secretary-General, H.E. Ban Ki-moon, on the sidelines of the 24th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, at AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photo/PSCU –[/caption] President Uhuru Kenyatta today said the continent stands on the threshold of a new rebirth and the African Union should stop depending on external funding to finance its programmes. He said after 50 years since the inception of the Union, Africa is experiencing the most inspiring rebirth and the confidence in African resources and solutions grows each passing day. President Kenyatta said Africa stands tall and the continent looks at the future with certainty that the possibilities and opportunities for growth and prosperity are in the hands of Africans. He said the continent is asserting its independence and sovereignty more robustly and the solidarity of Africa has never been greater. “Depending on external funding for 78 per cent of the union’s budget is simply unacceptable”, said the Head of State when he addressed the 24 Ordinary Session of the African Union Heads of State and government in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He said the African Union is a testimony to the resolve of the African people to march boldly into the future and symbolizes the people’s consensus for peace, stability, development and happiness. President Kenyatta said over-dependence on external funding by the AU poses a profound handicap and an impediment to the continent’s momentum to march forward. He asked member states to take the affairs of the AU in their hands and ensure compliance in their contributions to the financial resources of the union. Member States should ensure timely remittances of their contributions to the union. “It is the only way that our meetings and programmes will be sustainable”, said President Kenyatta. He said Kenya fully endorses the recommendations of the AU’s commission on alternative sources of financing the Union. “It (commission’s report ) sets out a menu of innovative financing alternatives that offers choice and flexibility aimed at ensuring that we all do our part in liberating the African Union from dependency”, he added President Kenyatta said Kenya favours financing of the Union through a dedicated line controlled by respective treasuries of member states. “This, in our view ensures consistency in remittance and therefore, better compliance. I urge Members to work harder to clear arrears in contributions. President Kenyatta assured the delegates that the Treasury, through the National Bank will establish a channel through which Kenya will fulfil all its obligations to the union. *Source the-star

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Washington Post interview with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir
January 7, 2015 | 1 Comments

By Kevin Sieff* This interview was conducted Dec. 18 by Washington Post Africa bureau chief Kevin Sieff. It took place in Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s office in the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers in Khartoum. It lasted 45 minutes. Bashir spoke in Arabic. The translation was provided by Bashir’s personal translator, and the transcript was made by Sieff. [caption id="attachment_15246" align="alignleft" width="586"]Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir smiles during an interview with the Russia Today news channel at the Presidential Palace in Khartoum, December 3, 2014. (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters) Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir smiles during an interview with the Russia Today news channel at the Presidential Palace in Khartoum, December 3, 2014. (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters)[/caption] Washington Post: First, I was hoping you could tell me, as you see it, the impact of U.S. sanctions on the Sudanese people and the Sudanese economy. And what you would be willing to do to end those sanctions — if you see any compromise possible. Omar al-Bashir: First of all, I very warmly welcome you. I welcome your paper. This is the opportunity we’ve been looking for in order to explain, answer and expose the realities . . . First of all, I want to state this very clearly — that U.S. sanctions against Sudan are unreasonable, unjustified and unjust. And I will give you some instances of this.

If one of the reasons they put forward for sanctions against Sudan was war in South Sudan, this war is a legacy of the colonial period. Because Sudan was under colonization until 1955, when the war started, and Sudan got its independence in 1956. So war actually started when the British governor general was here in Sudan. In this context of war in South Sudan, there was a hard-core commitment by the United States that if this war in South Sudan has ended, they will lift sanctions, they will relieve the debts of the government, and they will normalize relations. This was given in a bill — in a very strong promise — from Sen. [John] Danforth. After we signed the comprehensive peace agreement with South Sudan, they shifted the agenda. They said, “No, no, we have another problem in Darfur. And we cannot do anything until the problem in Darfur is solved.” Likewise we gave a compromise — and we signed a Darfur peace agreement in Abuja — witnessed and signed by so many, including [Robert B.] Zoellick, who was then the state minister of foreign affairs. And again Zoellick agreed that if the Abuja agreement was signed, the same action will be taken to lift and normalize and all the rest. And it was a promise from Zoellick himself. And after signing, President [George W.] Bush personally called me on the phone and reiterated the American policy that now we have fulfilled our part of the agreement and the United States is very ready to fulfill its promises. Personally he talked to me on the phone. During the signing of the agreement, some of the rebel groups in Darfur refused to sign it. And they said — the international community, the E.U. and all who signed the agreement — said that whoever of the rebels refused to sign will be subjected to penalties.
Those rebel groups didn’t sign, and the sanctions and penalties went onto Sudan, while the rebel groups were never subject to any punishment. We finished with Darfur, we finished with South Sudan, and then they shifted the agenda again. And they said — well, now, if Sudan will implement and fully execute the comprehensive peace agreement . . . then they will consider lifting sanctions and normalizing relations. And as you know, we did. We accepted the result of the referendum. We were the first to recognize the newborn state of South Sudan. But still, sanctions are there. Despite the fact that Sudan is so much impacted by the sanctions economically and politically. But we believe the United States is also hurt by sanctions imposed on Sudan. We got back in retrospect — that all the concessions of the oil in Sudan were given to American companies. But when the sanctions came . . . we had to reorient [the oil] to companies other than the American companies. And this is very important. The Chinese came, and we accepted them. Once these Chinese came in Sudan. You can see them up [garbled audio]. The Chinese came, they took the concessions. They achieved success in Sudan. This opened all the doors for the Chinese throughout Africa. They managed to go through Sudan and kind of spread. And, of course, we need to see very clearly the loss incurred on the United States by the economic influence of china. It is a loss. That’s why we say the sanctions hurt us. But they also hurt the United States. WP: Speaking about Darfur, I know you’ve asked for UNAMID’s departure. And I wonder if you think security in Darfur is good enough to allow for UNAMID [the United Nations–African Union Mission in Darfur] to leave. There’s been a surge in violence just this year, and hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced in Darfur. OB: First of all, we need to emphasize this: The peaceful area in Darfur has expanded widely in the region. With regard to the IDPs, which is a concern of the general [Bashir], there are hundreds of thousands of IDPs [internally displaced persons] left in the camps, and they went to their villages and they went back and it was safe and they farmed their lands. And the fact that there are some left, it is a very general aspect in Sudan. There is a continuous flow from rural areas into towns, and this is everywhere in Sudan, and there are many reasons for this, and war isn’t necessarily one of them. And, of course, those in these IDP camps . . . they are provided with food and medical services and everything. To them, it is an easy life. They would rather stay in these camps than go back and work. And then you can see that there in these areas all over Sudan. Even in Khartoum you can see them because they are provided services in these IDP camps. With regard to UNAMID, UNAMID has failed to protect even itself, let alone the civilians in Darfur. Just about a week ago, they had a patrol and they had all the arms, including armored vehicles. And they were met by a very small group of rebels and they gave in and fled. And the armored vehicles and the arms were taken away from them. Sometimes even a pedestrian with a knife can take their weapons away. WP: So you think Darfur would be a safer place if UNAMID wasn’t there? OB: Let me reiterate this. The peaceful area in Darfur has considerably widened to the extent that there is no more need for forces to be in these areas. Part of this whole thing — there is an agreement with UNAMID that there should be an exit strategy for them. And they know that peace in Darfur is getting wider and wider and deeper and deeper. And, of course, one of the indications that they are convinced that peace in Darfur is much much better — they transferred some forces to the Central African Republic and to South Sudan. They opted to do this themselves. It is a very strong indication that UNAMID is convinced that the area of peace has expanded in Sudan to the extent that there is no need for these forces to stay. WP: I want to ask you about the accusations of the way you’ve dealt with the political opposition here. There are some people who have raised concerns about the protest in September 2013 in which 200 people were killed. Recently there was a member of the opposition who was detained. There were some more civil society activists who were detained. Some people point to these examples as evidence that you’re not willing to tolerate a political opposition. OB: With regard to the September events, first of all the number of people who died is not correct. There were about 80. A single soul is very important to us. But the fact is that it is 80. Still we say the loss of one soul is very harmful to us. These 80 people were killed through their direct attack on the police stations and the courts. And all police stations across Khartoum were attacked, and they have occupied some of them. And all the courts in Khartoum were attacked. Some of them were burned. Of course, this begs the question that if these events happened in the United States, would the government allow people to go and allow even a single police keeping security in the streets? Of course we have examples in the United States. Even someone in his car who is asked to raise his hands and refuses, he will be shot. We’ve seen it. Especially if he’s black. These protesters burned 42 petrol stations. All of the office of electricity distribution were burned and attacked, and they stole the money. Of course with this view I’ve just explained, you can’t say these were peaceful demonstrations. They were not. And during the first day of demonstrations, the police never intervened. But the whole thing executed the next day. And, of course, it is the job of the security forces to protect the people and the lives of the people. We considered them as hostile. They are aggressive, they are hostile, they kill people they destroy property. They are terrorists. They are designated as terrorists. Would the United States allow someone who goes and makes an agreement with al-Qaeda to come back and stay safely in the United States? And the courts were under the criminal law . . . it’s not under any other. They were charged under the criminal law. They are not political detainees. Those who were arrested now were not arrested because they were politicians but because they violated the criminal law of Sudan. WP: Do you think you’re going to be president for the rest of your life? At one point you said you would not run again, and it appears that you’ve changed your mind and you’ve said you will run again. OB: Of course, when you look at the problems and the challenges in Sudan and I don’t think anybody would wish to be the president under such conditions. Of course this is not the first time that I [silence] my wish to stay away. I started since 1996. From that time, whenever there is an opportunity, I would tell the people it is time for me to go and live as peaceful as possible a life as a normal citizen of the country. And I’m looking forward to the time they describe me as the former president. And, of course, there are pressures from my own party and other Sudanese parties also, and I succumb to those pressures, but I hope as soon as possible I can find an exit out of this. WP: You’ve been president for several decades, and I wonder looking back on recent decades — what’s your biggest regret? OB: One of the things that has an impact on these two decades and more is what happened after we signed the comprehensive peace agreement. We signed this agreement. We genuinely implemented it, and we gave our brothers in South Sudan more than is entitled to them according to the peace agreement. I fought for years in South Sudan for the unity of Sudan. I was a commander in the fields, fighting for the unity of Sudan. As a politician, I worked very, very hard in order to maintain the unity of our country. That was my aim. Of course, the result came negative to what I was looking forward to happen after all these efforts, after all these years of hard work and labor. It’s one of the things that I forget because Sudan was divided in two. WP: Do you regret signing the document? OB: No. In the introductory paragraph of agreement, it is stated that two parties — that is, the SPLA [Sudan People’s Liberation Army] and the government of Sudan — should work together to make unity attractive to people of South Sudan. We did our work genuinely, but unfortunately our brothers in South Sudan did not. WP: Can you talk a bit about the Rapid Support Forces. There have been accusations that these forces . . . are Arab militias reconstituted and are now committing more crimes, especially in places like Darfur. OB: I challenge . . . a challenge I put to everyone, everywhere . . . that they should provide one single event that these RSF committed in Darfur. If found, we are ready for an investigation anywhere. These forces dealt a severe blow to the rebel groups in Darfur. Of course, the nature of these rebel groups is that they are mobile and use four-wheel-drive vehicles. They are mobile throughout Darfur. And it was very hard for the regular army to chase them. That’s why you need a force to deal with them according to same nature — quick, mobile and using the same vehicles. That’s why the RSF were founded. They were very successful. They dealt a very severe blow to the rebels in Darfur. Because the nature of engagement is the same . . . they were successful and able to route out the rebels by almost 90 percent. Of course, one of the missions of these groups is to face the rebel groups. But, at the same time, they are helping give assistance to the people. And if we track the route of these forces, wherever they go, they are welcomed by the people. They are commended by the people because they deliver services to the people. They give them food. They give them medicine. They repair the pumps. I ask for an independent, impartial committee to come over and track the route of the movement of these forces. And if this stands to be untrue, we will bear the responsibility. WP: The ICC [International Criminal Court] still has an arrest warrant for you, and I want to know after all these years what you think that this warrant still exists, and how it has affected your ability to govern? OB: First of all this decision of the ICC is political. Whoever now visits Darfur, and I think you might be able to go there, they found that all these accusations of ethnic cleansing, the killing of the people and mass rape, these are all false accusations. They can detect it themselves if they go into Darfur.
Secretary of State [Colin] Powell visited Darfur, and he came and he talked to me and he said very clearly that he was sure there was no genocide, there was no ethnic cleansing, these were all false accusations. WP: But even our current president, Barack Obama, has called what happened in Darfur a genocide. OB: Unfortunately, the Darfur problem has become an internal United States issue to serve political ends. During elections, it is an internal U.S. issue. Politicians use this to promote their agenda during elections. Of course, Powell — when he went there, he found that governors and people in assembly. . . were from three tribes. Later on, even [Secretary of State John] Kerry and [Vice President] Biden told some of our people that they have nothing to say about Sudan. But there are the lobbies in the U.S. — and Congress — that pressured the administration not to come forward. . . . WP: What kinds of lobbies? OB: All of them. Save Darfur and the rest of them. They collect so much money, but no money has ever been spent in Darfur. Otherwise it would be a paradise. [He wants to add something] OB: I initiated a national dialogue . . . [to bring together] all the political parties and social figures. And there was an acceptance. And we started working. During the last meeting, there were 93 political parties attending. Parallel to this, we had social and communal dialogue that includes all civil society, workers, all segments of society. We even invited rebel groups. The aim of this is to bring together the people of Sudan, to work together, unite, reach a consensus on a vision. How to bring peace and development. WP: It must have been painful when the political opposition and rebel groups signed the Sudan Call rather than join the national dialogue. OB: These groups signed a road map with [South Africa’s Thabo] Mbeki for national dialogue . . . but instead of coming forward . . . they joined this Sudan Call. WP: Makes a national dialogue difficult? OB: We will maintain the process, and I tell you we have the majority. And I’m sure through time when the process goes forward, many of them will come and join the process.
*Source washingtonpost. Kevin Sieff has been The Post’s bureau chief in Nairobi since 2014. He served previously as the bureau chief in Kabul and had covered the U.S. -Mexico border.
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DRC won't bow to foreign injunctions – Joseph Kabila
December 16, 2014 | 0 Comments

Joseph Kabila, President of Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo©Reuters Joseph Kabila, President of Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo©Reuters[/caption] Though Joseph Kabila has yet to publicly declare his intentions, Congo is rife with speculation that he is looking for ways to remain in charge of the vast, mineral-rich nation after his second elected five-year term in office ends in 2016. “We are always open to the opinions, advice and suggestions of our partners, but never to injunctions,” Kabila said during a rare public speech before a joint session of parliament. Kabila came to power in 2001 when his father, Laurent, was assassinated in the middle of a conflict that sucked in regional armies are killed millions of Congolese. He steered Congo to post-war elections in 2006 and won re-election in 2011, although the second vote was marred by complaints of widespread irregularities. Congo’s constitution currently limits presidents to two elected terms in office. Senior U.S. officials have already publicly called on Kabila not to alter the constitution in order to hold onto power. During a summit of French-speaking countries last month, France’s President Francois Hollande more broadly cautioned leaders facing constitutional term limits to learn from the example of Burkina Faso. Mass protests forced Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaore to step down and flee the country after he tried to push through constitutional changes to extend his 27-year rule. Congolese opposition leaders have managed to draw thousands of protesters to marches calling for Kabila to step down in 2016. In his speech on Monday, Kabila criticised what he said was the “systematic tendency” among some of his countrymen to look abroad for assistance to settle domestic political differences. “There is no crisis in DRC, and even were we to have one we would sit down together around a table to negotiate,” he said. *Source theafricareport]]>

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Uganda's Museveni calls on African nations to quit the ICC
December 13, 2014 | 0 Comments

President Yoweri Museveni (C) of Uganda arrives at the 8th Northern Corridor Integration Projects Summit at Safari Park Hotel, in Nairobi December 11, 2014. REUTERS/Noor Khamis President Yoweri Museveni (C) of Uganda arrives at the 8th Northern Corridor Integration Projects Summit at Safari Park Hotel, in Nairobi December 11, 2014. REUTERS/Noor Khamis[/caption]

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni on Friday called on African nations to drop out of the treaty establishing the International Criminal Court, amid accusations that it unfairly targets Africans.

“I will bring a motion to the African Union’s next session. I want all of us to get out of that court of the West. Let them (Westerners) stay with their court,” he said in Swahili.

Prosecutors dropped charges of crimes against humanity against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta last week, but the trial of his deputy William Ruto on similar charges is under way at the Hague-based court.

Museveni, addressing a ceremony to mark Kenya’s 51 years of independence from Britain, criticised the ICC for continuing with Ruto’s case despite an African Union (AU) resolution that no sitting African head of state or deputy should be tried at the court.

“With connivance, they are putting Deputy President Ruto, someone who has been elected by Kenyans, in front of the court there in Europe,” he said. The AU is scheduled to hold its annual summit of heads of state in Ethiopia at the end of January, but has not announced a specific date.

The collapse of the Kenyatta case was a blow to the court, which has secured only two convictions, both against little-known Congolese warlords, and has yet to prove it can hold the powerful to account.

Many Africans accuse the ICC of unfairly targeting their continent. Museveni said he had backed the court before it turned into a tool for “oppressing Africa”. “I supported the court at first because I like discipline. I don’t want people to err without accountability,” he said. “But they have turned it into a vessel for oppressing Africa again so I’m done with that court. I won’t work with them again.”

Uganda has in the past sought the assistance of the ICC in bringing rebel warlord Joseph Kony to account for war crimes in northern Uganda over two decades.

Kenyatta and Ruto also addressed the ceremony in an open-air stadium in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, saying they were confident Ruto and his co-accused would also be vindicated.

“I ask you all to join me in supporting my deputy and his co-accused as they also await their overdue vindication,” Kenyatta said.

*Source Reuters/Yahoo]]>

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HALF A CENTURY OF INDEPENDENCE! But what happened to Africa's 'Class of the 1960s' leaders?
October 24, 2014 | 0 Comments

MORRIS KIRUGA, SAMANTHA SPOONER* download (2)Ebook on Africa’s 1960s independence leaders, and their stories: Some amazing, some uplifting, and several depressing OCTOBER 24 is Zambia’s 50th independence anniversary. Zambia’s founding president Kenneth Kaunda turned 90 in April. Kaunda has achieved something none of the 1960s independence leaders in Africa did – he is the only republican leader of the 1960s generation who has lived to see his country turn 50. Mail & Guardian Africa  spoke to Kaunda for the anniversary in the capital Lusaka. Click here to read ebook where we tick off what happened to the rest of the “Class of the 1960s”: *Courtesy of mg.co]]>

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Ebola: Liberia’s President writes moving letter to the world
October 20, 2014 | 0 Comments

download (1)Liberia’s President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has written a heartfelt letter to the world over the Ebola crisis that hit her country. In the letter which was read over the radio and transmitted worldwide, she likened the Ebola epidermic to the civil war her country faced 11 years ago which killed a lot of Liberians, crumbled their economy and vital institutions.The president called on the international community to stop all theoretical explanations on the Ebola crisis and act fast to stop the spread of the deadly virus. Dear World In just over six months, Ebola has managed to bring my country to a standstill. We have lost over 2,000 Liberians. Some are children struck down in the prime of their youth. Some were fathers, mothers, brothers or best friends. Many were brave health workers that risked their lives to save others, or simply offer victims comfort in their final moments… There is no coincidence Ebola has taken hold in three fragile states – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea – all battling to overcome the effects of interconnected wars. In Liberia, our civil war ended only eleven years ago. It destroyed our public infrastructure, crushed our economy and led to an exodus of educated professionals. A country that had some 3,000 qualified doctors at the start of the war was dependent by its end on barely three dozen. In the last few years, Liberia was bouncing back. We realized there was a long way to go, but the future was looking bright.Now Ebola threatens to erase that hard work. Our economy was set to be larger and stronger this year, offering more jobs to Liberians and raising living standards. Ebola is not just a health crisis – across West Africa, a generation of young people risk being lost to an economic catastrophe as harvests are missed, markets are shut and borders are closed.The virus has been able to spread so rapidly because of the insufficient strength of the emergency, medical and military services that remain under-resourced and without the preparedness to confront such a challenge. This would have been the case whether the confrontation was with Ebola, another infectious disease, or a natural disaster.But one thing is clear. This is a fight in which the whole world has a stake. This disease respects no borders. The damage it is causing in West Africa, whether in public health, the economy or within communities – is already reverberating throughout the region and across the world.The international reaction to this crisis was initially inconsistent and lacking in clear direction or urgency. Now finally, the world has woken up. The community of nations has realized they cannot simply pull up the drawbridge and wish this situation away.This fight requires a commitment from every nation that has the capacity to help – whether that is with emergency funds, medical supplies or clinical expertise.I have every faith in our resilience as Liberians, and our capacity as global citizens, to face down this disease, beat it and rebuild. History has shown that when a people are at their darkest hour, humanity has an enviable ability to act with bravery, compassion and selflessness for the benefit of those most in need.From governments to international organisations, financial institutions to NGOs, politicians to ordinary people on the street in any corner of the world, we all have a stake in the battle against Ebola. It is the duty of all of us, as global citizens, to send a message that we will not leave millions of West Africans to fend for themselves against an enemy that they do not know, and against whom they have little defence.The time for talking or theorizing is over. Only concerted action will save my country, and our neighbours, from experiencing another national tragedy. The words of Henrik Ibsen have never been truer: “A thousand words leave not the same deep impression as does a single deed. Yours sincerely, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf *Source independent.co.ug]]>

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African leaders seek fund to fight militant groups
September 4, 2014 | 1 Comments

Edith Honan* [caption id="attachment_11621" align="alignleft" width="580"]  Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni arrives to attend the Africa Union Peace and Security Council Summit on Terrorism at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi, September 2, 2014.  Credit: Reuters/Noor Khamis
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni arrives to attend the Africa Union Peace and Security Council Summit on Terrorism at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi, September 2, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Noor Khamis[/caption] African leaders proposed on Tuesday creating a special fund to combat Islamist militant groups growing in strength from Kenya to Nigeria. African Union (AU) states announced the idea after Nairobi talks on a problem highlighted on Tuesday by capture of a town in north-eastern Nigeria by Boko Haram militants. Fighting killed scores of people, according to security forces, and sent at least 5,000 fleeing. A senior European Union official also told the summit that Islamic State’s gains in Iraq and Syria, where it controls vast swathes of territory, could help set off a competition between it and al Qaeda to become the leading Islamist militant group in Africa. President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, where al Shabaab gunmen last September killed 67 people in a raid on a shopping mall, said African countries should stand together against the threat of Boko Haram and al Shabaab. “No single state can tackle this threat alone,” he said. “It is particularly worrying in Africa today that terrorist organizations have grown both in terms of number and capability.” Chad President Idriss Deby, who is chairperson of the AU Peace and Security Council, said: “There is a proposal to establish a special fund to combat terrorism.” But Deby, flanked by Kenyatta and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan at a news conference, gave no details about who would contribute to the fund or how the money would be used. Swathes of Africa has been ravaged by Islamist insurgencies, with the likes of Boko Haram launching attacks in Nigeria and Cameroon, while Somalia’s al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab rebels have struck at targets in Kenya and Uganda.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIv1dBhu4xs The idea of the fund was mooted by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and would be discussed at the next full AU summit. Kenyatta said African states would have to increase their own spending on security to curb the organized militant groups. Many African countries, including Kenya and Nigeria, are key Western allies in the global fight against Islamist militants and their security services receive substantial training and support from the United States, Britain and other donors. The United States has said it is assessing whether al Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Somalia on Monday. Saudi Arabia said it would contribute $10 million to the AU to fight militant groups which have often taken advantage of porous borders and inept police forces across the continent.   RIVALRY The wealth and military might of Islamic State militants have led the United States and others to view it as a threat capable of surpassing that once posed by al Qaeda, which is seen as hobbled since the 2011 killing of its founder Osama bin Laden. African intelligence officials have said that they are concerned that Islamists may be emboldened by the Islamic State’s gains in the Middle East. Gilles de Kerchove, the European Union’s counter-terrorism coordinator, said the Islamic State’s strength could attract African Islamist militants in search of funding and training. “It’s not only that ISIS might provide more money or resources,” Kerchove said. The two groups might also engage in a “competition for the leadership,” with al Qaeda using Africa as a staging ground to remain relevant. “It’s a concern. I’m not saying it will happen,” he said. *Source Reuters  ]]>

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