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Updated: 36 min 32 sec ago

Belarusian President Lukashenko Says Crimea Is Part Of Russia Now

Sun, 03/23/2014 - 22:59

President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus. He has said that Crimea has the right to join Russia., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

Lukashenko: Crimea is part of Russia now

March 23, 13:48 UTC+4
Itar-Tass

"You can recognise or not to recognise this, but this will not change anything”, Belarusian President said

ITAR-TASS/Alexey Druzhinin

MINSK, March 23. /ITAR-TASS/.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko stated that today the Republic of Crimea was de facto part of Russia and noted that no one urged him to recognize or not to recognize Crimean referendum.

“As for recognition or not recognition, Crimea is part of Russia today. You can recognise or not to recognise this, but this will not change anything,” Lukashenko told reporters in the
Belarusian capital on Sunday.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko finds statements by Ukrainian politicians over possible withdrawal from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) short-sighted and urged Ukraine to stay in the CIS.

“I believe that those who influence Ukrainian policy will not take these steps. Why to shut the door closed,” Lukashenko told reporters in the Belarusian capital on Sunday.

The Belarusian president noted that he would propose “to several Ukrainian politicians to discuss this problem.” “I ask not to make thoughtless steps,” he said, noting that “Ukraine’s walkout from the CIS will be a strong blow to the CIS.”

“A strong, but not lethal one,” the Belarusian president noted.

Alexander Lukashenko also assessed negatively events in Ukraine, but he noted that Belarus was prepared to establish relations with the Ukrainian leadership which would be elected at forthcoming elections.

“We will be building relations with those whom people elect,” he said. “All that happened and is happening in Ukraine is disgusting for me and I do not like this. I take those processes that are taking place there very painfully,” the Belarusian president noted. Ukrainian events can be named “a revolutionary coup, unconstitutional power overthrow,” he noted, adding that “this is not normal when legitimate authorities are toppled this way.”

Meanwhile, Lukashenko believes that today “only politicians divide Ukraine into western and eastern.” The Belarusian leader named the language problem as one of reasons for current tense situation. “Why it was needed to press on Russian speakers, why to manhunt and exert pressure on people,” the president said. “Just imagine that tomorrow you will be banned to speak Russian or Belarusian,” Lukashenko added.

Massive Anti-Fascist Rallies Grip Eastern Ukraine Demanding Referendum

Sun, 03/23/2014 - 22:42

A Donetsk pro-Russian demonstration in eastern Ukraine took place on Sunday March 23, 2014. They are demanding a referendum on the future of the region., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.Massive anti-Maidan rallies grip eastern Ukraine as residents demand referendum

March 23, 2014 21:10
Rt.com

Rallies have swept eastern Ukraine, with residents protesting against Kiev’s coup-imposed government and demanding a referendum to decide on the future of the region. Thousands took to the streets in Kharkov, Donetsk, Lugansk, and Odessa on Sunday.

About 5,000 protesters gathered in the city of Kharkov on Sunday to rally in favor of federalizing the country and holding people’s referendums in eastern Ukraine.

The demonstrators also demanded to make Russian the official language of the Kharkov region. Russian is the most common first language in the eastern regions.

Furthermore, the residents of Kharkov proclaimed illegitimate the political part of the EU-Ukraine association agreement signed by coup-installed Prime Minister Yatsenyuk. Some of the protesters headed to the Russian embassy, asking Moscow to investigate the legality of the presence of NATO troops in Ukraine and addressed Crimeans, asking to help the region.

The rally in Kharkov was also dedicated to two protesters who were killed last week by members of the ultra-nationalist Right Sector movement, which played an active role in the Maidan protests. The demonstrators chanted slogans such as “Glory to Kharkov defendants!” and “We won’t live under Bandera!”

Stepan Bandera was the head of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). Bandera's nationalist movement collaborated with Nazi Germany during World War II and was involved in the ethnic cleansing of Poles, Jews, and Russians. OUN was also responsible for the massacres of Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia, which resulted in about 100,000 murders.

Meanwhile in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk, preliminary results of an improvised referendum were announced to a several thousands-strong rally.

According to the results, over 100,000 people voted in favor of joining Russia in a people’s referendum that was carried out in the form of a poll in Lugansk.

The poll was initiated last Sunday and will continue for another week.

Another 1,000 people gathered near the building of the regional security service, protesting against the current authorities in Kiev.

The city of Donetsk, also located in the Donbass region, also witnessed protests on Sunday, as more than 2,000 people took to the streets. They demanded that a referendum be held to decide the future of the region and handed out ballot papers.

The protesters hoisted a Russian flag near the city council building, chanting “Russia” and “Berkut” while the building was surrounded by police.

Thousands also gathered for a rally in the Black Sea coastal city of Odessa on Sunday, protesting against the coup-imposed government in Kiev. They carried Ukranian, Russian, and Crimean flags and chanted slogans such as “Ukraine and Russia are together” and “Odessa is against Nazis and tycoons,” as well as “Referendum!”

The peaceful demonstrators urged authorities to release Anton Davidchenko, the arrested leader of People's Alternative, a council that coordinates the work of regional public organizations. They demanded an end to the persecution of activists accused of separatism.

Davidchenko’s mother, Lubov, who participated in the rally, urged all mothers in Ukraine to “prevent their sons from going to the criminal war, which the West-backed far-right authorities and tycoons in Kiev are trying to unleash between the fraternal Slavic peoples in the interests of their Western sponsors,” Itar-Tass reported.

“The authorities in Kiev are speaking about war with Russia, but in fact they are at war with their own people. The majority of Ukrainians do not support [Kiev’s] policy, but Kiev prefers not to pay attention to the people’s opinion, retaliating with repressions,” stated city council deputy Sergey Bovbolan.

Speakers at the rally called for an end to the disinformation campaign waged by local media, and for authorities to stop putting pressure on TV channels.

A crowd comprised of thousands of Odessa residents walked through the central streets, visiting the Polish embassy to remind them of Bandera’s crimes.

Poland, Ukraine's western neighbor, has been very vocal during the crisis, supporting the current far-right Kiev authorities. The country also hosts the US military. The Pentagon dispatched 12 warplanes and hundreds of troops to Poland following the Crimean referendum.

The decision to hold a referendum in Crimea was sparked by the bloody Maidan protests that resulted in the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovich. Crimea refused to recognize the coup-imposed government. The referendum held last Sunday resulted in over 96 percent of voters answering in favor of the autonomous republic joining Russia. In turn, Russia accepted the people’s will and welcomed Crimea’s integration on Monday.

People in the eastern regions of Ukraine fear that the far-right Kiev authorities will not represent their interests. Residents of the Donbass region – the majority of whom are Russian speakers – were particularly unhappy over parliament's decision to revoke the law allowing the use of minority languages, including Russian.

Iran Urges Turkey, Syria to Exercise Restraint After Downing of Damascus Aircraft

Sun, 03/23/2014 - 22:10

Turkish convoys heading towards the Syrian border with tanks and other military equipment. Turkey, a member of NATO, has been accused of arming rebels fighting the government in Damascus., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

Iran urges Turkey, Syria to exercise restraint

Sun Mar 23, 2014 11:51PM GMT
presstv.ir

Iran has called for restraint amid heightened tensions between Ankara and Damascus after Turkish forces shot down a Syrian warplane near the border.

Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Sunday that a military approach would only escalate tensions in the region.

Amir-Abdollahian stressed that Ankara and Tehran are determined to continue their fight against terrorism and support any political solution to the Syrian conflict.

On Sunday, Ankara said the Syrian warplane was downed after crossing the border into Turkey.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan congratulated the army for targeting the plane and warned of a heavy response if Syria violates Turkey’s airspace again.

However, Syrian officials on Sunday rejected Turkey’s claim about the violation of its airspace and said the plane was inside the Syrian airspace when it was downed.

A Syrian army spokesman described the act as “a flagrant aggression,” saying the warplane was targeting foreign-backed militants in the coastal province of Latakia, close to the border with Turkey.

Syrian army soldiers have been engaged in heavy clashes over the past days with foreign-backed militants around Kassab, a border crossing with Turkey close to the Mediterranean.

Reports say over 140,000 people have been killed and millions displaced due to the foreign-backed militancy that has gripped Syria since March 2011.


MIDDLE EAST NEWS

Turkey Shoots Down Syrian Warplane

Erdogan Says Aircraft Breached Airspace; Critics Call Move a Diversion Ahead of Elections

By EMRE PEKER CONNECT
March 23, 2014 7:23 p.m. ET
Wall Street Journal

ISTANBUL—Turkey downed a Syrian warplane on Sunday for breaching its airspace, escalating tensions along the border as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged to take a tougher stance against President Bashar al-Assad a week before Turkish elections.

Shortly after lunchtime, a Turkish F-16 downed a Syrian MIG-23 with a missile after it failed to heed four warnings to reverse course and cruised slightly inside Turkish airspace, the armed forces in Ankara said.

The jet was shot while still in Syrian territory, just south of Turkey's border, reflecting Ankara's commitment to enforcing aggressive engagement rules adopted after Mr. Assad's commanders downed a Turkish reconnaissance plane in June 2012.

Turkish television showed images of the plummeting jet, the first time Turkey has downed a Syrian jet since the Syrian uprising began more than three years ago. Damascus said its pilot ejected before the plane crashed.

"If you breach my airspace, our slap will be heavy handed," Mr. Erdogan told thousands of flag-waving supporters in Kocaeli Sunday, when he announced the downing of the jet.

The move is likely to heighten tensions along the 565-mile border that serves as the main line of support for Syrian rebel forces. Damascus condemned the "unprecedented and completely unjustified" strike and demanded Mr. Erdogan's government "end its aggression and support for terrorism."

Mr. Erdogan has drawn fire at home and abroad for seeking to silence his political opposition by banning Twitter Inc. TWTR +1.60% late Thursday, saying the social-media site failed to abide by court orders to remove content. Opposition parties have called Mr. Erdogan a dictator for the move.

"Twitter disregarded this [court order] and the incident was brought to me," Mr. Erdogan told hundreds of thousands of supporters in Istanbul at a rally later Sunday. "I said do whatever is necessary."

The main opposition Republican People's Party, or CHP, criticized the government for pursuing reckless foreign policies that endanger the nation. The party accused Mr. Erdogan of seeking to divert voters' attention to win March 30 local elections, seen as a referendum on the 12-year rule of the Justice and Development Party, or AKP.

Though still enjoying about 40% support in polls, the AKP has faced heavy public pressure since nationwide protests in June against what demonstrators say is Mr. Erdogan's autocratic governance.

In December, a corruption scandal implicated Mr. Erdogan's close allies and four ministers, forcing a cabinet shuffle. The premier has decried the investigation as a foreign-backed conspiracy seeking to topple his government, and denied wrongdoing.

"With just a week to elections, we had said that the government and [Mr. Erdogan]—crushed under the pressures of graft, theft and bribery events—could enter different and dangerous adventures to change the agenda," read a tweet posted to the account of CHP spokesman and lawmaker Haluk Koc. Millions of Turkish Twitter users have breached the ban by using private networks. "The dictator's efforts to start a war, the event on the Syrian border today, is dire," the tweet said.

The Syrian jet crashed just west of Kassab, Syria, near where Islamist rebel factions including the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front have been attacking Syrian government forces since Friday as part of a new offensive to expand their foothold to the country's west coast.

One of the opposition groups, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, in recent days threatened Turkey, demanding the removal of its troops from a plot of Turkish land inside Syria that hosts the tomb of Suleyman Shah, grandfather of the Ottoman Empire's founder.

"This is our only territory outside the motherland.…It will be defended in the same manner with our nation," President Abdullah Gul said Sunday in Ankara before leaving for Amsterdam on a state visit. Turkey's downing of the jet shows Ankara's determination to protect its territory, the president said later from the Dutch capital.

Earlier Sunday, Mr. Gul faced questions about the Twitter ban, which until the strike on Syria's warplane dominated the domestic airwaves.

"Twitter didn't shut down as you see, the number of users doubled since it was declared banned," said Mr. Gul, who also broke the blockade Friday to tweet his displeasure with the government's move. "Actually, it is not legally possible to shutter the Internet or platforms such as this."

The premier's government has been rocked for three months, with daily leaks of alleged phone recordings that purport to demonstrate meddling and graft by government allies and officials, including Mr. Erdogan. Twitter and Google Inc. GOOG -1.18% 's video-sharing site YouTube have been the primary conduits in disseminating the information.

Mr. Erdogan has responded by tightening his control over the Internet with a law Mr. Gul approved in February, allowing the telecommunications regulator to close websites without a court order.

The premier has criticized the social-media provider, saying it has followed court orders in the U.S. and other Western nations, while ignoring legal demands in countries like Ukraine, Egypt and Turkey under the guise of freedom to foment unrest.

Hours before Turkey's Twitter ban went into effect Thursday, Mr. Erdogan promised to "eradicate" the medium and defend Turkey's interests, regardless of international opinion.

"In certain countries, Twitter collaborates, abides by laws. But when it comes to other countries, it tramples laws," Mr. Erdogan said Sunday.

Access to Twitter was barred Sunday, even after the messaging service suspended at least one of the accounts targeted by the court order. The plaintiff had sued to block a user who was using her identity to post pornographic content.

Antigovernment Twitter accounts that leak voice recordings and documents concerning the graft allegations remain active. Millions of Turks continue to use the medium by employing virtual-private networks, or VPNs, which allow people to breach blockades.

Allies led by the European Union, which Turkey seeks to join, have chastised Mr. Erdogan for what Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule said were moves against free speech.

"Turkey has nothing to fear in the free flow of ideas and even criticism represented by Twitter. Its attempt to block its citizens' access to social media tools should be reversed," said Douglas Frantz, a State Department spokesman, who defined Internet bans as "21st century book burning."

—Sam Dagher, Maria Abi-Habib and Mohammed Nour Alkara contributed to this article.

Write to Emre Peker at emre.peker@wsj.com

The Butchering of African Names

Sun, 03/23/2014 - 09:12

Lupita Nyong'o has won the best supporting actress award at the Academy for her performance in 12 Years a Slave. Steve McQueen, the director, won for best film of the year., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

The butchering of African names

by Sitinga Kachipande

Following this year’s Oscar awards, the media was abuzz with John Travolta’s mispronunciation of an Oscar nominee’s name. He introduced Idina Menzel as the “wickedly talented, one and only Adele Dazeem”. American-born Menzel, whose ancestry is Russian and Jewish, subsequently laughed off this faux pax, calling it “funny“. However, Travolta’s actions are indicative of a wider and more problematic practice of westerners regularly butchering international names that they are not familiar with. It has become somehow excusable for them to consistently get it wrong – and many will not even make an attempt to pronounce the name correctly. When it comes to African names in particular, this propensity to towards pronouncing foreign names ‘any old way and how’ seems to increase.

Africa has been treated with so much indifference over the years that a type of mental block emerges when Western journalists, talk show hosts, African country ‘experts’, and the general public are confronted with the African name. Africa is still very much the exotic ‘other’ in popular Western imagination. Therefore, names associated with Africa are perceived as somehow more exotic and different than other foreign names – leading to the perception that they are more so difficult to pronounce for Westerners. Consequently, it has become even more acceptable to accept the mispronunciation of African names.

Typically, people take great care to make sure they pronounce another person’s name correctly unless they don’t care or they make the error deliberately. African names are consistently placed outside of these social norms because they are the African ‘other’. In Sigmund Freud’s studies, he noticed that the aristocrats would subconsciously mispronounce the names of their physicians more than any other group. This was interpreted as a way for the aristocracy to keep physicians in their place and remind them of their own social prestige. In doing so, they were also effectively relaying the message that doctors were not important enough for them to bother pronouncing their names correctly. The continued mispronunciation of African celebrity names sends a similar message. Therefore the common practice of pronouncing a stranger’s name correctly seems to be lost, either because Africans are the exotic other with “difficult” names or because an individual simply doesn’t care enough to make an effort to get an African name right.

Lupita Nyong’o

While much attention was paid to the grotesque mispronunciation of Menzel’s name at the Oscars, few paid attention to the continued mispronunciation of Oscar nominee Lupita Nyong’o's name. It’s mispronounced on a daily basis by people in American media that either don’t bother – or make a half effort – to learn how to correctly pronounce it. Some have argued that the mispronunciation of her name stems from the way it is spelled. The apostrophe in Nyong’o has proven to be troubling to journalists who are thrown off by it and often omit or misplace it. However, they have no problems with foreign apostrophised Irish names such as O’Reilly and O’Brien.

Western media has somehow taken to pronouncing Lupita’s surname with a hard ‘g’ as is commonly used in Germanic languages such as the word ‘God’ in English – or ‘Gott’ in German. When prompted, Nyong’o has repeatedly informed the media that the ‘g’ in her surname is a silent or soft ‘g’ – as with ‘song’ in English or menge(crowd) in German. Logically then, if you can say “Song of [Solomon] “, then you can correctly pronounce Nyong’o. Perhaps out of desperation over the mental block adopted by the Western public who just can’t seem to “relate” to the exotic silent ‘g’, Nyong’o has gone as far as releasing a video to guide the media. This fell on deaf ears as media experts continued to pronounce it the way that is most comfortable for them. So it was almost inevitable that on one of the biggest nights of her life, her name was announced by Austrian Christoph Waltz with a hard ‘g’.

If it’s African, I can’t pronounce it

Other African names such as Chiwetel Ejiofor, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and even Germanic African names such as golfer Louis Oosthuizen cause fumbles. Even African presidents are not immune. Many will recall how journalists struggled to correctly pronounce Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and the name of his birthplace, Qunu. Those that could not pronounce these simply left them out. Omission seems to be a ready remedy to “difficult” names. Some may have noticed that the name of the so-called “fake sign language interpreter” at Mandela’s funeral, Thamsanqa Jantjie, was rarely used in media headlines and some television reporters avoided saying his name – they simply erased his name and hence identity.

In extreme cases, Westerners take insulting liberties with the pronunciation of African names to the point where they are not recognisable. Although he spent nine long months in the desert with Egyptian actor Omar Sharif, Irish actor Peter O’Toole did not make an effort to learn the stage name of his co-star. Rather than taking the time to ask him how to pronounce what can be considered a typical name for an African of Arab origin, O’Toole decided to call Sharif “Fred”, saying “no one in the world is called Omar Sharif”. His arrogant attitude is a clear example of how African names quickly become completely negated using ethnocentric lenses and justifications.

What’s in a name?

A person’s name is important marker of their identity and it should be treated as such. One’s name is of enormous significance to both the individual and the naming system in their society. The Ashanti in Ghana give names based on kinship, day of the week and circumstances surrounding the birth or occupation. The Yoruba in Nigeria, give names based on the physical condition of the baby at birth, birth order, the family’s social status or professional affiliation. In other cultures it may have religious significance such as warding off evil spirits. In the Senegalese Muslim tradition, names like Malik (King) have religious symbolism. Similarly, Mahmoud (fulfillment) – another popular North African Muslim – has significant meaning. Regardless of when, why, or where it happens, the giving and receiving of a name is of major importance. To simply omit or mispronounce them is extremely problematic.

Since one’s name carries such significance, people generally resent the mispronunciation of their name. It amounts to a distortion and misrepresentation of their identity. Accidental distortions or mistakes in pronouncing a name can be irritating. However, deliberate mispronunciations and distortions of a name – whether conscious or not – are sizable insults. As more African celebrities appear on the international stage, Western media should familiarise and educate themselves on how to pronounce African names correctly.

Sitinga Kachipande is a blogger and PhD student in Sociology at Virginia Tech. Her interests include Africana studies, tourism, development, global political economy, women’s studies, identity and representation. Follow her on Twitter: @MsTingaK

French-backed Regime in Ivory Coast Hands Laurent Gbagbo Ally to ICC

Sun, 03/23/2014 - 09:07

Deposed Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo has been kidnapped and illegal transported to the Netherlands for trial before a bogus and fradulent so-called international court. His supporters demonstrated on October 30, 2012., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

Côte d'Ivoire hands Laurent Gbagbo ally to ICC

The Ivorian government has handed youth leader Charles Ble Goude over to the International Criminal Court to face charges of crimes against humanity.

22 Mar 2014 17:17Loucoumane Coulibaly, Thomas Escritt , Joe Bavier

Côte d’Ivoire transferred Charles Ble Goude, a youth leader and close ally of ex-president Laurent Gbagbo, to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Saturday to face charges of crimes against humanity linked to a 2011 post-election civil war.

The ICC, based in The Hague, Netherlands, announced in October last year that it had issued an arrest warrant for Ble Goude, who headed the Young Patriots street militia during Gbagbo's presidency. Ble Goude (41) was arrested in Ghana in January 2013.

The government of Côte d’Ivoire's current president, Alassane Ouattara, said on Thursday that it had decided to hand Ble Goude over to the court.

"The Ivorian government informs the national and international communities that Mr Charles Ble Goude was today transferred to The Hague," said government spokesperson Bruno Kone on state television.

Around 3 000 people died in the conflict that erupted after Gbagbo refused to accept his defeat to Ouattara in a presidential run-off election in late 2010.

In custody

Gbagbo, captured at the end of the fighting in April 2011 by French and United Nations-backed fighters supporting Ouattara, has been in the ICC's custody since November 2011 and stands accused of responsibility for rapes, murders, persecution and inhuman acts.

Known as "the street general" for his fiery speeches and ability to draw thousands of supporters on to the streets, Ble Goude had previously asked to be tried by an Ivorian court and not to be sent to The Hague.

Fatou Bensouda, the ICC's chief prosecutor, welcomed the news of Ble Goude's transfer and promised further investigations into the 2010-2011 violence, which she said could result in prosecutions of either side in the conflict.

"We are a step closer in helping to unveil the full truth in one of Côte d'Ivoire's worst episodes of mass violence," she said. "Those who use violence and commit mass crimes against civilians in pursuit of power must be held accountable."

Lawyers for Gbagbo and Ble Goude say Ouattara is using the court as a tool for getting rid of his political enemies when convenient. They have criticised prosecutors for bringing cases against only Gbagbo and his allies.

Government decision

Ble Goude appeared before a court in Côte d'Ivoire's commercial capital of Abidjan on Friday, where he was informed of the government's decision to send him to the ICC.

But his lawyer, Nick Kaufman, said he had been denied his right to challenge the arrest warrant and extradition process.

"The government has decided what should happen to Ble Goude and not the courts. Here you have a government that's taking judicial decisions. That's wrong," said Kaufman.

The ICC has an arrest warrant out for Gbagbo's wife, Simone, for charges of crimes against humanity. But Ouattara's government said in September that it planned to try the former first lady, who is under house arrest in Côte d'Ivoire, in a domestic court.

– Reuters

Guinea Confirms Ebola Epidemic

Sun, 03/23/2014 - 09:02

Map of the West African nation of Guinea-Conakry where the run-off elections has been delayed. The internationally-supervised poll has drawn criticism from opposition parties who are crying foul., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

Guinea confirms Ebola epidemic

French scientists have identified the Ebola virus as the source of an outbreak of haemorrhagic fever in southern Guinea.

22 Mar 2014 17:45 Sapa-AFP

The Ebola virus has been identified as the source of an outbreak of hemorrhagic fever in southern Guinea, the west African nation said on Saturday as the death toll rose to 34.

Experts in Guinea had been unable to identify the highly contagious disease, whose symptoms – diarrhoea, vomiting and bleeding – were first observed six weeks ago. But scientists in the French city of Lyon confirmed it was Ebola, the Guinean health ministry said.

"We got the first results from Lyon yesterday [Friday] who informed us of the presence of the Ebola virus as the cause of this outbreak," said Sakoba Keita, the ministry's chief disease prevention officer.

"Up to today, we have identified 49 cases with 34 deaths in four prefectures."

To date, no treatment or vaccine is available for Ebola, which kills between 25% and 90% of those who fall sick, depending on the strain of the virus, according to the World Health Organisation.

The disease is transmitted by direct contact with blood, faeces or sweat, sexual contact or handling contaminated corpses unprotected.

– Sapa-AFP

ANC Seeking Legal Action Against Opposition Party

Sun, 03/23/2014 - 08:59

ANC supporters challenge DA march for jobs at Luthuli House. Police used force to stop clashes between the two groups., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

ANC turns to courts over DA's 'defamatory' text message

The ANC says it is planning to take legal action against the DA over a text message about President Jacob Zuma and the Nkandla scandal.

22 Mar 2014 09:07 Sapa

"We are actively taking this matter up by opening a charge of defamation and malicious conduct," African National Congress (ANC) spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said in a statement.

"We will also be approaching relevant recourse structures that deal with elections including the Independent Electoral Commission and the electoral court if necessary to ensure that this irresponsible conduct is curtailed and exposed."

Mthembu said the SMS was based on a "deliberate lie" and targeted Zuma.

The text message, which was sent to prospective voters, read: "The Nkandla report shows how [President Jacob] Zuma stole your money to build his R246m home. Vote DA on 7 May to beat corruption. Together for change."

Hitting back
Democratic Alliance (DA) parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko hit back and welcomed the court challenge.

"The DA welcomes the opportunity to go to court to defend our efforts to ensure accountability for the Nkandlagate scandal," she said.

"We will tell the judge exactly what the rest of South Africa was told this past week, that president Zuma improperly and materially benefited from the R246-million so-called security upgrade of his private home in Nkandla."

She said the ANC was blindly protecting Zuma.

"Instead of doing everything possible to ensure that President Zuma is removed from office and made to apologise for this wrongdoing, they would rather spend their time and energy trying to hide the truth from the country.

"This will not work. South Africans are rightly outraged by this serious maladministration which has diverted much-needed public money from the poor in order to benefit one man. This is a shame that warrants the president being fired from his post, not blindly protected."

She suggested that the ANC re-examine Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's report as it was clear they missed some key details.

"The rot in Jacob Zuma's ANC has now reached crisis proportions," she said.

"The leadership of the party can no longer see the difference between right and wrong. They see only through the prism of keeping power in the hands of President Zuma. "

Public protector's report

Madonsela this week found that Zuma and his family had improperly benefited from R215-million security upgrades to his Nkandla home. This was paid for by government. Outstanding work on the property was around R36-million.

"It is common cause that in the name of security, government built for the president and his family in his private [home], a visitors' centre, cattle kraal and chicken run, swimming pool, and amphitheatre among others," she said in her findings.

The Economic Freedom Fighters and the DA have since opened criminal cases of corruption against Zuma.

– Sapa

South Africa's Ruling ANC Set to Win Two-Thirds Majority

Sun, 03/23/2014 - 08:56

President Jacob Zuma of the Republic of South Africa says that the country's ability to host the World Cup 2010 makes it a contender for the 2020 Olympics., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

South Africa's ANC set to win two-thirds majority: Poll

AFP, Sunday 23 Mar 2014

South Africa's ANC looks set to win a two-thirds majority in May elections, according to an opinion poll published Sunday that appears to fly in the face of public perceptions about its performance.

The party that has ruled South Africa since the first post-apartheid elections in 1994 has been hit by corruption scandals and complaints that it has not done enough to address deep poverty and inequality in the country.

The poll by the Ipsos agency for the Sunday Times newspaper said the African National Congress would win 66.1 percent of votes in the May 7 election, up slightly from 65.9 percent in 2009.

The survey was carried out before the publication last week of a scathing ombudsman report which ruled that multi-million-dollar state-funded renovations to President Jacob Zuma's private home were unlawful.

The main opposition Democratic Alliance, which has launched a criminal corruption case against Zuma over the $23-million upgrades, would win 22.9 percent, the poll found.

That would represent an increase over the 16.6 garnered in 2009 but is well below the 30 percent it is hoping for.

The newly founded Economic Freedom Fighters, led by the former head of the ANC's youth league Julius Malema, would emerge as the third party in parliament with 3.7 percent, Ipsos said.

The poll, which was conducted among 2,222 people from February 20 to March 11, contradicts analyst estimates that the ANC's majority would be cut to between 55 and 60 percent.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/97342.aspx

Egyptian Pope Urges Military Coup Leader to Run for President

Sun, 03/23/2014 - 08:52

Bishop Tawadros, 60, who became Pope Tawadros II, greeted well-wishers, not shown, after being named the 118th Coptic Pope in the Wadi Natrun Monastery complex northwest of Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

Egyptian pope urges 'hero' El-Sisi to run for president

MENA and Ahram Online, Sunday 23 Mar 2014

Pope Tawadros II, leader of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church, claims Arab revolutions were fueled by 'malicious hands'

Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II has said Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has a "national duty" to stand for president in upcoming polls.

"Egyptians see him as a saviour and the hero of the 30 June revolution," Tawadros said during an interview with Kuwait's Al-Watan TV channel on Saturday.

El-Sisi, currently the country's army chief and defence minister, has the "discipline" necessary to lead the country, Tawadros said.

"Yet, everyone is free to elect who they find suitable."

El-Sisi is widely expected to stand for president but is yet to officially declare his candidacy.

However, Amr Moussa, the head of the 50-member constitution-drafting committee, on Saturday issued a statement outlining El-Sisi's electoral programme.

During the interview, Tawdaros described interim President Adly Mansour as a respectful man who is leading the state with "wisdom" and a "vision for the future."

"There was a moment of consensus and cohesion on the need to end the period of Muslim Brotherhood rule," Tawadros said, in reference to the 30 June protests that preceded the army's ouster of president Mohamed Morsi on 3 July.

Tawadros also praised the Church for its "heroic role in times of chaos and the systematic destruction of churches in Egypt."

Dozens of churches were attacked after Morsi's ouster and the subsequent killing of hundreds of his supporters at protest camps in Cairo and Giza.

The pope criticised the western media, saying it had fabricated facts about the situation in post-Morsi Egypt.

"The Church was keen to reveal all the facts to foreign delegations that visited after the events," he added.

Tawadros also condemned the Arab uprisings, which began in Tunisia in late 2010 before spreading to Egypt, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Bahrain.

The uprisings "known as the Arab spring, were neither a spring nor an autumn," he said. "It was an Arab winter brought by malicious hands to our Arab region to break up its countries into smaller states."

Meanwhile, on the construction of Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam, Tawadros claimed its negative impact would be felt in Egypt, Sudan and the whole African continent.

Egypt has voiced concern over the dam on the Nile river, which supplies most of its water needs.

Talks on the dam between Egypt and Ethiopia have failed to broker an agreement. Ethiopia insists the dam will not affect Egypt's water supply, while Egypt argues not enough research has been conducted into the dam's possible impact.

Tawadros II was selected as Egypt's 118th Coptic Orthodox Pope in November 2012, succeeding Pope Shenouda III who passed away in March 2012.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/97324.aspx

Human Chains in Egypt Called for March 24 to Demand Release of Political Prisoners

Sun, 03/23/2014 - 08:47

Egyptians demonstrate against the new law imposed by the military-backed regime restricting protests. Thousands have been arrested since the July 3 coup., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

Human chains in Egypt called for Monday to demand detainees release

Ahram Online, Sunday 23 Mar 2014

Activists demanding the release of 'political detainees' to protest on 6 October Bridge in Cairo and in other governorates Monday

Eight political forces have announced that they will organise a protest rally Monday in many governorates across the country to demand the release of what they deem political detainees, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported.

The Strong Egypt Party, April 6 Youth Movement, Revolutionary Socialists and a number of other groups have signed a statement calling for a protest on 6 October Bridge in Cairo.

The eight political parties will form human chains on 6 October Bridge. They will also form chains in Alexandria, Giza, Damietta, Gharbiyia, Port Said, Sharqyia and other governorates.

Believing in "the freedom of expression and human dignity," the parties say they are organising the protest to remind Egyptians of the situation of political detainees, regardless of their political affiliations.

The interim government has launched a widespread crackdown on Islamists since the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. Thousands of his supporters have been jailed and hundreds killed in street violence.

The recent arrest of many secular activists has fuelled anxiety of a broader crackdown on dissent. Hundreds of protesters were detained on the third anniversary of the January 25 Revolution.

For his part, Egypt's top prosecutor, Hisham Barakat, said Egyptian prisons contain nopolitical detainees. All those currently imprisoned are being detained pending court or prosecution orders, or have received sentences from respective courts, he said.

He added that all detentionsin recent months were ordered in accordance with the Egypt's criminal law and were not due to exceptional measures.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/97314.aspx

Egyptian Court Orders Release of Activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah on Bail

Sun, 03/23/2014 - 08:44

Egyptian blogger Alaa Abdel-Fattah hugging his newborn baby after being released on bail. He was arrested by the military-backed regime in Cairo., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

Egyptian court orders release of activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah on bail

Ahram Online, Sunday 23 Mar 2014

Alaa Abdel-Fattah and Ahmed Abdel-Rahman, two activists charged with holding an illegal protest last year, will be released on bail

A Cairo criminal court on Sunday ordered the release on bail of activists Alaa Abdel-Fattah and Ahmed Abdel-Rahman, currently on trial on charges of organising an illegal protest.

Only 13 of the 25 defendants in the case attended the trial session on Sunday. Prominent blogger and activist Abdel-Fattah was received with cheers and applause from other defendants.

The two men were ordered to be released on bail of LE10,000 each. The prosecution objected to the release order.

Both Abdel-Fattah and Abdel-Rahman have been detained since last November in Cairo’s Tora prison and have persistently demanded their release in court proceedings. All other defendants have been released on bail.

The defendants are charged with offences related to a protest against military trials of civilians outside the Shura Council in central Cairo in November last year.

It was one of the first protests dispersed by force in accordance with a controversial new protest law issued in the same month which criminalises unauthorised public demonstrations.

The No to Military Trials campaign group claimed responsibility for organising the protest, but Abdel-Fattah was charged with being the protest organiser.

Abdel-Fattah was also charged with assaulting members of the security forces and stealing a police officer's two-way radio.

The court adjourned the case to 6 April.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/97331.aspx

Venezuelan Arrest of Opposition Mayors Sparks Clashes in Caracas

Sat, 03/22/2014 - 04:28

Bolivarian President of Venezuela Nicolas Madur attacks corporate media. The capitalist media has slandered the socialist revolution., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

Arrest of opposition mayors sparks clashes in Caracas

March 21, 2014

CARACAS – Anti-government protesters have clashed with police in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, during a rally held in protest at the arrest of two opposition mayors accused of failing to curb violent demonstrations.

On Thursday, security forces fired tear gas and water cannons to break up the anti-government demonstration in Caracas after some of the protesters hurled stones and sticks at the police.

The protesters were angry at the decision by a Venezuelan court to arrest the mayors of the western city of San Cristobal, Daniel Ceballos, and the central city of San Diego, Vicencio Scarano, over their inaction in the face of violent anti-Caracas protests.

Following the arrest of the two mayors on Thursday, Venezuelan President Maduro warned that their colleague in Chacao could also be the next target if anti-government protesters continue to set up barricades in the streets.

The Venezuelan leader said, “We will not tremble if (the Supreme Court) gives us the order to detain” the mayor of Chacao, Ramon Muchacho.

The Venezuelan Interior Ministry has accused Ceballos of inciting “civilian rebellion” in San Cristobal. Scarano was also stripped of his post by the Supreme Court over his failure to stop public disorder in San Diego.

Over the past weeks, the Chacao district in Caracas has been heavily affected by nightly riots.

Since mid-February, Venezuela has been rocked by a wave of violent protests against the Maduro government. At least 30 people have so far been killed, over 400 wounded and almost 2,000 others arrested during the ongoing political unrest in the Latin American country.

The opposition blames the Maduro government for rampant crime, soaring inflation and shortage of essential goods.

The president, however, says the opposition seeks to launch a coup d’état in Venezuela with the backing of the United States.

– Press TV.

South Sudan Denies Rebels Took Malakal; Juba Sets Terms for Peace

Sat, 03/22/2014 - 02:49

Malakal in South Sudan on east bank of the Nile River. Reports indicate that 200 people drowned trying to escape fighting., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

FRIDAY 21 MARCH 2014

South Sudan denies rebels have retaken Upper Nile capital

March 20, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudan denied reports on Thursday alleging rebel forces had recaptured Upper Nile state capital Malakal, one day after government troops took control of the key town.

State governor Simon Kun Puoc told Upper Nile community members in Juba on Thursday that the army had established full control of the town and was pursuing the rebels in different directions east of Malakal.

Rebels confirmed on Wednesday that government troops were in control of the town, saying rebel forces had temporarily pulled back from Malakal.

“Do not listen to lies which are intended to cause confusion by the people who have failed to show they could be any better in this country in any capacity when they were given assignments at different levels. The people who failed this country are now the ones leading rebellion,” Puoc told an audience of predominantly government officials, who had gathered to celebrate the recapture of the administrative headquarters of the strategic oil-rich state.

Reports that rebels had recaptured Malakal began circulating Thursday via various media and social media networks.

However, Upper Nile state information minister Philip Jiben Ogal described the allegations as wishing thinking and unfounded propaganda” spread by opposition forces to undermine the government.

SPLA IN CONTROL

In a joint press conference with presidential spokesperson, Ateny Wek Ateny, the spokesperson for the South Sudanese army (SPLA), Colonel Philip Aguer, said that government forces had established “full control” of Malakal at about 4.30pm (local time) Wednesday.

“Many people have been asking why Malakal exchanged hands many times and whether the same thing will repeat itself. I want to tell you that in the fighting you do not predict what will happen this time. We are telling you what happened. Also the SPLA took time to retake Malakal town not because it was not able to [re]take [it], but [because] we wanted to study the nature of the rebel forces,” Aguer told a contingent of both local and international journalists on Thursday.

The SPLA spokesperson described rebels’ claims to had regained control of the oil-rich capital less than 24 hours after it fell to pro-government forces as the "joke of the day".

"The gallant forces of the SPLA are 100 percent in control of Malakal and its surrounding areas. What the rebels are claiming is not true," Aguer separately told Sudan Tribune by phone.

Malakal has been the scene of heavy fighting in recent months, changing hands several times since political tensions erupted in violence in Juba in mid-December before spreading to other parts of the country.

The conflict has pitted government forces loyal to president Salva Kiir and rebel factions aligned with former vice-president turned rebel leader Riek Machar.

A ceasefire deal signed between the two warring sides on 23 January has failed to stem the violence and there have been increasing reports of atrocities emerging from Malakal, with patients to ill to flee apparently shot dead in their hospital beds during raids on healthcare facilities.

HIGH-LEVEL VISIT

A high-level army delegation under the leadership Northern Bahr el Ghazal governor Paul Malong Awan, a close ally of the president, along with SPLA deputy chief of general staff for operation Lt Gen James Ajonga Mawut Unguec, visited SPLA forces in Malakal town on Thursday.

A military source told Sudan Tribune the official visit was made to boost the morale of troops following the recapture of Malakal, which had been under rebel control since 18 February.

In a statement congratulating SPLA forces, Ramadan Mohamed Abdullah, acting secretary-general of the governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), said Malakal’s recapture is a clear demonstration of the commitment of the government to protect civilians and properties.

(ST)


FRIDAY 21 MARCH 2014

S. Sudan sets out preconditions for peace talks with rebels

March 20, 2014 (JUBA) – The South Sudanese government on Thursday said it would only participate in the second round of peace talks with rebels if mediators from regional bloc IGAD excluded seven senior politicians in Kenya from the negotiations.

The seven officials were released by the Juba after being held for weeks in connection to their alleged involvement in a “coup” attempt in mid-December last year, which triggered the current crisis.

All of the senior members of South Sudan’s ruling party (SPLM) accused of trying to oust president Salva Kiir in mid-December have denied the claims, insisting the conflict was caused by fighting from within the national army (SPLA).

The government has urged mediators from the East African regional bloc not to allow the seven politicians, now living in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, to join the talks as a third grouping.

Both the SPLM and the rebel SPLM/A in Opposition have also shown little interest in the involvement of South Sudanese civil society groups in peace talks.

Cabinet affairs minister Martin Elia Lomuro told reporters on Thursday that the government and other political parties in the country were in consensus that talks be limited to those directly involved in the armed conflict, rejecting the participation of a so-called third bloc in negotiations.

“An objection letter will be taken by our chief negotiator to the mediators. This objection letter represents the clear views and stance of the leadership of this country. All the political forces have agreed that negotiations should be confined to the government and those who are carrying arms and engaging the in this senseless conflict,” said Lomuro.

Following their release, the seven officials decided against joining the SPLM in Opposition which is being led by Riek Machar, South Sudan’s former vice president.

The armed opposition and the government have both been accused of widespread abuses in the conflict which has killed an estimated 10,000 people and displaced more than 900,000. According the United Nations, 40 per cent of South Sudanese people are now in need of aid.

In a statement broadcast by the state-owned SSTV on Tuesday, information minister Michael Makuei said that president Kiir had been ignored by IGAD after he told a summit that he rejected the participation of the seven officials.

However, IGAD member countries included in the end-of-summit communique not only said that the seven officials should be allowed to participate in the talks, but demanded that another four officials who are facing trial in Juba on charges of treason also be released to take part.

“The president stated it clearly at the summit; nevertheless the communique by IGAD member countries included the demand for the release of the detainees and the participation of those who called themselves SPLM leaders,” said Lueth.

The minister said the SPLM leadership and other political parties had agreed to send an official objection letter to the IGAD chairman – Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn – resolving not to participate further in the talks until the matter is resolved.

The government spokesperson argued that their objection was based on the lack legitimacy of the group of seven to participate in the negotiations.

“We are saying these people should not participate because they are not stakeholders. So our chief negotiator will be going ahead with the letter of protest,” he explained.

Talks were scheduled to resume on 20 March, but it appears the government’s objection to the participation of the seven politicians will further delay the resumption.

It is also unclear whether rebels would participate in the talks after the government recaptured Malakal town, the capital of South Sudan’s oil-producing Upper Nile state, on Wednesday.

The release of the remaining four political detainees and the participation of the seven politicians have also been one of the conditions set down by rebel officials participating in the talks.

They have also demanded that the Ugandan military, which deployed its forces to support the government, remove its troops from South Sudan.

The rebels have also rejected to the inclusion of some of their stronghold areas in the ceasefire monitoring and verification mechanisms, stressing the areas have not witnessed any armed engagement and therefore do not warrant inclusion in the process.

At the venue of the talks in Addis Ababa, rebel negotiators were present on Thursday evening team but the government’s delegation failed to arrive.

A rebel figure at the talks told Sudan Tribune that Kiir had “provoked our positions in Malakal by attacking [our forces] for the last three days”, accusing the government of not being interested in peace.

(ST)

South Sudan Rebel Delegation in Nairobi For Talks With Kenyan President

Sat, 03/22/2014 - 02:43

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, center, with seven released opposition leaders and Rebecca Garang. The delegation is participating in peace talks in Ethiopia., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

FRIDAY 21 MARCH 2014

S. Sudan rebel delegation in Nairobi for talks with Kenyan president

March 20, 2014 (NAIROBI) – A high level delegation of the South Sudan’s rebel group, the SPLM/A In Opposition, are in Nairobi to consult with tKenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta on the ongoing peace process in South Sudan.

The delegation is composed of senior rebel leaders including the former South Sudanese minister of Environment, Alfred Lado Gore and Angelina Teny, wife of the former vice president and leader of the rebel group, Riek Machar.

Machar’s spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak, told Sudan Tribune that the delegation had a successful meeting with president Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday.

Dak said the meeting discussed a wide range of issues that were vital to the peace process between the South Sudan’s government and the opposition group.

“The meeting with president Kenyatta was cordial. It was focusing on the ongoing peace process and the positive neutral role Kenya should continue to play in mediating the warring parties to resolve the conflict,” he stated.

The rebel officials, he said, reiterated their appreciation to the Kenyan government for the role it played in ensuring the release of the seven former detainees.

He added that the rebel leaders asked the good office of president Kenyatta to further exercise his influence on Juba to release the four remaining political detainees, who include Pagan Amum Okiech, former SPLM secretary general, Oyai Deng Ajak, former minister for national security, Majak Agoot, former deputy minister of defense and ambassador Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, South Sudan’s ex-envoy to United States.

Earlier on, he said, the delegation also met with the other senior officials in the Kenyan leadership including the vice president, William Ruto as well as the foreign minister and the special envoy to the peace process, Delmas Otieno.

(ST)

South Sudan Government Officially Delivers Protest Letter to IGAD

Sat, 03/22/2014 - 02:38

Somalia Foreign Minister Fozia Yusuf arriving in Juba, Republic of South Sudan on December 20, 2013. She is part of a IGAD mission., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

SATURDAY 22 MARCH 2014

S. Sudan government officially delivers protest letter to IGAD

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

March 21, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – The South Sudanese government has officially notified mediators from the East African regional bloc, IGAD, less than 24 hours after it opposed the participation of its seven senior politicians in the ongoing peace talks in Ethiopia.

Sudan Tribune has reliably learned that Nhial Deng Nhial, South Sudan’s lead negotiator at the talks arrived Friday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa minus the other members on his team.

Juba on Thursday said it would only participate in the negotiations with rebels on condition that IGAD excluded the seven political figures currently in Kenya from taking part as a third bloc.

The seven former detainees, now in Nairobi for safety reasons, were released under an initial peace accord signed in Addis Ababa in January.

Nhial, sources told Sudan Tribune Friday, also held talks with Ethiopia’s Prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn on the South Sudan situation and how to politically settle the crises.

Member of the SPLM-In-Opposition have, however, insisted they were not surprised by the recent change in South Sudan government position, which came a day to resumption of the new round of talks.

The rebels argued that the participation of the former political detainees on the negotiation table, would nullify the government argument of "false accusation" against the remaining four detainees currently on treason trial for alleged involvement in coup attempt.

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and his allies, a rebel negotiator claimed, “don’t want the formation of any interim arrangement because they are implicated in war crimes and crime against humanity”.

“(..) And they fear they might lose their positions and will be subjected to criminal persecution whether through special tribunal, hybrid court or South Sudan local justice mechanism that shall be established to try these crimes and abuses of human rights”, he further said.

Several members of the opposition forces have also accused the Juba government of continuously violating the ceasefire deal signed by both warring parties, saying the recent takeover of the Upper Nile state capital, Malakal was to bolster government position at the talks.

Malakal, a strategic town north of Juba, has changed hands several times between the army and rebels, with the latter controlling if for over a month, before government forces recaptured it early this week.

TOUGH DEMANDS

Meanwhile, the rebels have urged the international community to call for immediate resignation of President Kiir and individuals found to have been directly involved in human rights abuses and crimes against humanity.

They further called for sanctions to be imposed on the “criminals” allegedly killing people in the South Sudan capital as well as other parts of the country.

Despite all these demands, however, officials from the negotiation team reaffirmed their readiness to engage in talks with government, which it largely accuses together with Ugandan troops of continued violation of cessation of hostilities agreement.

Violence erupted in Juba last year following a dispute between members of the presidential guards. An estimated more than 10,000 people have been killed and nearly a million displaced as the conflict spread to three of the country’s 10 states.

South Sudanese civil society activists have called for a comprehensive and wider participation of all sections of the society for the conflict to be amicably resolved.

(ST)

Massive Conflict and Misuse of Resources in South Sudan

Sat, 03/22/2014 - 02:30

Republic of South Sudan official Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin lays reef for Indian troops killed in South Sudan. The country is being plunged into a civil war., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

SATURDAY 22 MARCH 2014

Massive-conflict and misuse of resources in South-Sudan

By Manyok Mabiei

March 22, 2014 - Massive-conflict and misuse of resources in Southern-Sudan is beyond repairs. South Sudan is a well-known as a country that ranks in the oil production countries in the world as well as one of the more productive countries. It is a diverse country with differences in religious beliefs including Christians, Muslims and others. Even though the country’s main language is English – a remainder of British colonial rule including 64 tribes with different dialects.

In fact, 64-tribes were not a root cause of massive conflict in South Sudan. There are even hundreds of hundreds of tribes from the neighboring countries like Kenya, Uganda, North Sudan, and Ethiopia had multiple tribes more than South Sudan, but there is a less conflict in their backyards.

The problem was enrooted from President Kiir leadership style the way he handling the nation through the absence of law in South Sudan as the root causes of this mass-conflict in the nation. It is a good idea to tell the facts, rather than foretells or admits them, when we are not alive.

This refers to those who think upside-down that the root cause of mass-conflict was fueled through tribal theory rather than blame current leadership style.

As well as some of us know that South-Sudan is divided between three major regions includes Great Upper Nile, Great Bhar-el-Ghazel, and Great Equatoria regions hosting the indigenous people of Republic of South Sudan. This mean a nation is well diverse with difference lifestyle of cultural rice in all three regions where people live in. But this mass-conflict forces thousands of thousands of the Great Upper Nile civilians to leave South Sudan to the neighboring countries.

More importantly, what cause the challenges most people talks, as an issue is corruption and power struggle, which is caused an ever growing massive-conflict beyond unrepaired and unrecovered in the nation in three months.

Well, some of the citizens judge things through their tribal perspectives rather than think deeply what will be the future of South Sudan, while we know that there is no anyone will come from nowhere to turn the system of South Sudan. This means same citizens who destroy it will do it again.

Massive-conflict is disappointed some of the citizens without considered themselves as they were not part of the nation identity. As well some of the citizens considered themselves as tribe identity, which is another root cause of mass conflict. Well, the rights and freedoms of individuals and groups enshrined as their rights should be respected, which can promote dignity for all in the nation.

However, my concern on this challenging is to remark the problems faced by the citizens of the South-Sudan. For sure, there are things affecting this nation including corruption, violence, and misuse of resources in South-Sudan. All these factors cause hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese with pride of hopeless to recovering from mass conflict in the nation they were fought for in two decades.

Some of the problems facing the nation, like bad policies in the country, have resulted in mass conflict among the citizens and government officials without deliver the good systems.

The vast majority of the citizens from the South-Sudan are poor and neglected from current leadership, while they are suffering from internal security and external security. This inequality and mishandle the root cause why the citizens react violently against those in charge – which shows the weakness inherent in the leadership style in the government.

More to the points, the citizens are struggle to gear an uphill battle for themselves – violently and politically through government – with poor system. The citizens and leadership are facing beyond unrepair, while it will take many years to build the confidents in this mass-conflict.

Specifically, citizens of this nation are suffering from misguide leadership that misuse the resources and abuse of power, which is dynamic towards the ongoing violence in the nation. This massive conflict, which is ongoing in South Sudan, was over fueled for those who struggle for powers, who misconstrue the nation in toward the unsafe direction.

I believe it will took the Republic of South Sudan some months and years to rebuild the truth among citizens from such kind of massive violence to get normal life. Nothing like you have a nation even though you’re alive in foreign countries, then you still have a sense of the nation to be proud that means you have a land.

But, what we recognized in current leadership style leading the nation behind sense of hopeless like they think they will leave nation tomorrow and others will come to rebuild the nation.

Since referendum and independence of South Sudan nearly 10years from now there was ongoing corruption and mismanagement of resources in the South-Sudan has existed for a long period of time and it has never ended. The leaderships have more benefits privately, while the rest of the citizens are facing uncovering system that led the nation toward the massive violence at the moment.

These dark days of this current leadership as the root cause to promote violence and misuse of revenues in South Sudan. The main issue in the South-Sudan is ignorance through mismanagement of the resources through government system - which remains as apart of massive conflict, in need of great attention to community’s leaders and world leaders to take action.

This is a big challenge, which exemplifies the corruption rampant in the government that leading the nation beyond unrepair’s. For example, the nation has remained poor nearly decade, since oil money and have become increasingly, while the nation never built some of important government properties.

The suffering from South Sudanese due to mishandle the nation issues, which forced the nation to massive violence. There are lack of several things - education, roads, bridges, jobs, and other necessities.

President Kiir and his administration controls over all subsurface of the resources, as well as they seem they are masters of land nearly decade, without shows the direct to connect between the citizens and the economic well-being of the civilians in the nation. This means (or should) that all issues in South-Sudan will/should inevitably become national mass beyond unrepair.

More importantly, the mass-conflict in the South-Sudan stems from the top such as the problems with the current leadership style without end the conflict. The tensions that have developed in the nation were caused by leadership in South Sudan and the misappropriation of revenues in the country – which have no interests for the people of South Sudan.

Broadly, leadership regime government has failed to resolve this massive crisis in country. There is a deep distrust in the leadership without concerning the government system and they feel less among local populations. So, from Juba leaderships cares little toward the venerable civilians who were displaced in their living homes.

In this massive conflict related to leadership control powers in the South, and the economy in general, is the intense competition for political gain. For example, politicians use their communities as the tools of political gain and that cause the massive conflict in nation.

This implies that massive conflicts and aggressive violence’s in the South Sudan is exert any negative effect on the national economy and local compasses of all South Sudan, and means that the government is turning a blind eye to massive violence in some of the states, especially the Great Upper Nile simply because they can gain what they needed.

This massive conflict affected the Great Upper Nile than other regions in South Sudan, while the Upper Nile region is most supplies of resource to support the South Sudan to survive through the oil revenues, but without that region the nation couldn’t survive.

The exploitation of leadership in the South-Sudan as a power struggle shows how deprivation, injustice and massive conflict will still continue in months and years to come. If the government can’t accept the peaceful dialogues and rejects military solution as wining point. There will be long process toward peace if the government from Juba Government and Rebel Forces will not agree in one point on time.

I believe if the government implement the good system there will be a chance to resort to mass violence and vandalism on time. The citizens of the South Sudan are an oppressed and exploited people, but it is hard for them to win the battle of good leadership.

How, to resolve the South Sudan mass conflicts that require far greater commitment on the part of the citizens and leaders who led the country. This means that the leadership from Juba and Rebel must operate fairly and transparently in the South-Sudan, with visible benefits to the local population within the areas.

Without serious and sustainable reforms to the country, the massive violence in the South Sudan will not end in short period of time. It will only increase more than we expected from now onward, before we reach an election in 2015, there will be more violence in even in oilfield as the rebel interest target point to weaken the government.

If President Kiir has a good heart he should avoid not listen to those who advise him through the negative agendas of winning a mass conflict through military solution. And he can make a good decision to step down if he loves his nation to recover from mas- conflict. I believe that it almost time to run out of possibility options like some others concern citizens’ concerns in this mass conflict in the South Sudan.

The government of South-Sudan needs to implement a better system to run the nation and avoid a massive crisis that affect the normal civilians who have nothing do with government system.

There are some of ordinary citizen’s needs only a good security from government like civilians who were chased away in recently crisis from their living places in Jonglei, Upper Nile, and Unity State.

It is very rare from some of the citizens to trust governmental system that shows less care towards their rights – in other words, their leaders in the Juba system as self-profits. The citizens will trust the government when a genuine system is enabled that treats the whole nation with better system to all compasses of South Sudan.

Finally, this require the citizens and active leaders of Southern-Sudan to work together to solve this massive conflict on time and to prevent dynamic corruption and mass violent toward beyond unrepair’s and recover.

I don’t believe in a theory your right should be negotiates by countries, while the South Sudan citizens were casted their votes for separation against North through the oppressor and limit of their rights.

Manyok Mabiei is a one of the SPLA-Chapter Founders in Chicagoland as a leader and former Red-Army of South Sudan in 1987. He can be reached at manyokmabiei@aol.com.

M23 Rebels Ready to Join DRC Government of National Unity

Sat, 03/22/2014 - 02:09

M23 rebels in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo city of Goma held at rally on November 21, 2012. The group vowed to continue their march toward the capital of Kinshasha in the west., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

M23 ready to join DRC gov't of national unity- Runiga

TVC NEWS [DR CONGO]- Democratic Republic of Congo's ex-rebel movement, M23, wants to participate in a government of national unity to consolidate peace in the region. Its leader Pastor Jean-Marie Runiga said this on Thursday.

TVC NEWS recalls that the M23 rebel movement was militarily defeated last year by the DR Congo Armed Forces (FARDC) supported by the UN Mission for Stabilization of Congo (MONUSCO).

"The people who fought for peace should equally participate in the national unity government to consolidate peace," Runiga, who is living in exile in Rwanda, said in a statement.

A source disclosed to our correspondent that the president of the ex-rebel movement said M23 will be part of the national unity government in conformity with the commitments made by the government.

Runiga said the international community and the DR Congo government have not yet fixed a date for the repatriation of ex- combatants of M23, who are currently living in Uganda and Rwanda, our source said.

Kenyan Lecturers Resume Teaching as Strike Ends

Sat, 03/22/2014 - 02:05

The Kenya lecturers' strike began March 14, 2014. Teachers and non-academic staff across the East African state walked off the job., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.Kenya: Lectures Resume as Varsity Strike ends

TVC NEWS [NAIROBI]- Academic activities in public universities across Kenya resumed on Thursday morning after union officials called off their strike which was in its second week.

Kenya's Capital FM News reports that an agreement was reached with the universities management on how to disburse the Sh3.8 billion owed to all unionisable members.

The Kenya Universities Staff Union (KUSU) Secretary General Charles Mukhwaya announced that all staff should report back to their stations by 8am Thursday morning.

"We are happy to announce that the strike has been called off following fruitful talks with the Vice Chancellors. We have reached an amicable solution after a deal was struck that all the monies owed to us will be paid to all our members. We would like to ask our workers to go back to work at 8am tomorrow (Thursday)," he stated.

His sentiments were echoed by the Universities Academic Staff Union (UASU) Muga K'Olale who stated that the deal reached was agreeable to all of them.

"Yes, it is true that we have reached a deal. All our members will be paid what is owed to them and measures should be put in place to ensure that this incident never repeats itself again. We have advised our lecturers to go back to class and continue teaching," he stated.

The dons and other workers went on strike last week after talks failed to bear fruit.

The unions called the strike over the more than Sh3.9 billion that was part of Sh7.8 billion agreed upon between them and the government in a 2012 Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The unions had argued that it's a constitutional right to strike saying they had been left with no option than to boycott duties over what they termed as misappropriation of funds by Vice Chancellors.

'Peoples's Objections' to be Filed in Detroit Bankruptcy Case

Sat, 03/22/2014 - 01:56

Detroit workers, retirees and community activists protest the forced bankruptcy of the city on October 23, 2013 outside federal court., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

‘People’s objections’ to be filed in Detroit bankruptcy case

By Kris Hamel on March 21, 2014
Workers World

Detroit, March 16 — The last day to file objections to the city of Detroit’s austerity “Plan of Adjustment” in its bankruptcy case is April 1. Organizers with the Moratorium NOW! Coalition and Stop Theft of Our Pensions Committee are holding a meeting March 17 to help city residents, workers, retirees and other concerned people fill out the necessary legal paperwork to get their objections filed with the bankruptcy court.

Activists are exhorting community members to also come out April 1 and “file their objections in the street” at a protest starting at 10 a.m. outside the federal courthouse at 231 W. Lafayette St. The demonstration opposes the proposed 34 percent pension cuts, wage and benefit cuts, and the giveaway of city assets to pay off the banks. The Chapter 9 bankruptcy of the city of Detroit is the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

A Moratorium NOW! statement describes the scenario facing Detroiters and why the Plan of Adjustment must be opposed:

“Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s ‘Plan of Adjustment’ will loot the pension funds to pay off the bankers. Ninety percent of the bank debt owed by the City will be paid 100 percent. Only a small percentage of lenders will take a hit. Meanwhile Orr wants to give $85 million to Bank of America and United Bank of Switzerland as a reward for illegal bond swaps — these banks have already stolen over $300 million from us through these swaps over the past six years.”

‘Death sentence’ for retirees

“Fight back or starve! That is the choice for over 20,000 retirees. Health care has been eliminated for those under 65. Now they want to take 34 percent of the little retirees get after decades of loyal service. The Plan of Adjustment assures that no banker will miss a meal, but for retirees it’s a death sentence.

“The City will pay ZERO into the pension fund for the next 10 years, which will depend entirely on charitable contributions which are not guaranteed. Cost of living increases are to be eliminated. Orr wants to make retirees pay back 34 percent of what they’ve already collected since June 2013 and take back some annuity money from retirees going back to 1999!”

The Moratorium Now! Coalition asserts there is “plenty of money” to pull the city out of bankruptcy without taking money from the retirees, current workers, residents and community members:

“Gov. Rick Snyder is withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue sharing owed Detroit. Orr could sue Bank of America, UBS and other big banks to recover the $300 million they stole in the pension swaps deal, and the over $500 million in ill-gotten gains via the Water Department bond swap. The banks that destroyed our cities with racist predatory loans have been fined $50 billion by the federal government (Chase Bank paid $13 billion alone!). Detroit should get some of that huge sum as restitution for destroying our neighborhoods.”

Go to moratorium-mi.org for a downloadable version of the “People’s Objection to the Plan of Adjustment” instructions and form, which meets federal bankruptcy guidelines, and file your objection in person or by U.S. mail by April 1. The Plan of Adjustment and other documents related to the bankruptcy are available, free of charge, on the internet at detroitdebtmoratorium.org and ­detroitmi.gov/EmergencyManager.aspx.

You do not need to live or work in Detroit to file an objection. If the banks’ austerity plan goes through in Detroit, attacks on all public workers’ pensions throughout the country will soon be on the agenda.

For more information on the April 1 demonstration, see moratorium-mi.org or call 313-680-5508.

South African Platinum Strike: R13bn Lost, And Counting

Sat, 03/22/2014 - 01:37

Mark Munroe (L), executive vice president for mining at Lonmin, the world's third-largest platinum mining company, speaks alongside Lonmin chief financial officer Simon Scott during a press conference on August 20, 2012, in Marikana., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

Platinum strike: R13bn lost, and counting

Mar 20, 2014
Allan Seccombe
Business Day Live

About a fifth of SA’s annual platinum production has been lost to an eight-week strike that has cost the country more than R13bn

ABOUT a fifth of South Africa’s annual platinum production has been lost to an eight-week strike that has cost the country more than R13bn and prices are now starting to reflect market concerns.

The world’s three largest platinum producers and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) have hardened their positions, with no end in sight to the strike, which has entered its ninth week.

Thomson Reuters GFMS research director of precious metals William Tankard estimates 800,000oz of platinum has been lost to the strike, with 500,000oz coming from unmined production to date and a further 300,000oz to be lost as companies take months to return affected mines around Rustenburg to prestrike output levels.

"I would expect this to have an impact on the market. If you compare it to 2012 when we saw losses of between 500,000oz and 600,000oz in totality, then we are … already looking at a situation 30% worse than that and counting," Mr Tankard said.

The price reaction to the strike has been muted because the three producers have been supplying metal into contracts from their processing pipelines and inventories. "Only now are critical shortages coming through at the refinery level and as this becomes more pronounced I would expect to see a response in the price."

GFMS said output in 2012, a "disastrous year for the South African platinum industry" had dropped 12% to 4.18-million ounces because of strikes.

Johnson Matthey estimated in November that platinum output from South Africa, the world’s single largest source of primary platinum, would be 4.12-million ounces in 2013.

The platinum price has risen from below $1,380/oz in the first week of February to $1,451/oz.

"The market has seemed almost unperturbed by the strike up until about a week ago, as no interruptions in deliveries have occurred from the three producers up until the end of March," said Impala Platinum executive of marketing Derek Engelbrecht.

"However, from the last week we have seen a little anxiety emerge, possibly as a result of the rising premiums for sponge over ingot — an unusual occurrence," he said.

Platinum sponge, a powdered form of the metal, is used by makers of autocatalysts and ingots by jewellers.

"If the strike continues for another three or so weeks, which looks likely at the moment … then the market, particularly for sponge, is going to tighten and prices should start to react," he said.

HSBC said in a note: "While sales from stock may mute the short-term price impact of supply interruptions, ultimately above-ground stocks are being consumed at a greater than expected rate and are supportive of higher prices in the medium term."

Palladium lost to the strike stands at 400,000oz, based on loss production to date and the restart of mines, Mr Tankard said. Standard Bank is launching a palladium-backed exchange traded fund on the JSE which could widen the palladium market’s deficit.

Amcu called the strike on January 23 to push for its demands that basic, entry-level salaries be raised to R12,500 a month from R5,000-R5,700 a month.

Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin have collectively said that the demand is unaffordable.

Talks have broken down and have not resumed. There has been not contact between the companies and Amcu to talk about wages since the collapse of the process facilitated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration on March 14, said Implats spokesman Johan Theron.

Companies are now engaging directly with their employees, who have lost R4bn in wages, in the hope that they in turn will pressure Amcu leadership into returning to talks with a revised demand to bring an end to the strike that have cost companies R9.1bn in forfeited revenue.

The longest strike in South Africa’s mining history was the nearly 12-week-long strike at Northam Platinum, which ended earlier this year. At Vale’s nickel operations in Sudbury, Canada, workers were on strike for a year, while in Britain, coal miners embarked on a year-long strike in the mid-1980s.



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