Pan Africa Newswire
Nollywood is the film industry code name for the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This West African state has the largest population on the continent., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Laurel For Ikechukwu Onyeka, Alpha Secondary At LIFF
Sunday, 24 November 2013 00:00
Written by EDITOR
THE Lagos International Film Festival (LIFF) came to an end with Nigerian filmmaker, Ikechukwu Onyeka, clinching the coveted Golden Camel; the most prestigious prize awarded for Best Overall Film. The Golden Camel award is also called the Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan prize. Ikechukwu Onyeka’s drama My Brother’s Keeper produced by Okey Ezegwu, starring Majid Michel and Omoni Oboli clinched a number of other prizes including Best Editing, Best Make-Up and Best Original Soundtrack. Onyeka’s other credits include The Unforeseen, Eagle’s Bride, Corporate Maid and the blockbuster Mr & Mrs. However, the UK/Nigeria coproduction The Rubicon produced by Dami Ann Alabi and helmed by Chuks Mordi, starring O.C. Ukeje carted away other awards including Best Cinematography, Best Sound and Best Costume, while Ugandan short film Is This Love won Best Short Film, Best Actress (Anne Kansiime) and Best Director (Sharpe Ssewali). The Ugandan filmmaker Sharpe Ssewali trained at London’s Raindance Film Institute.
Iconic thespian Bimbo Manuel was awarded Best Actor for his role in Red Hot written, produced and directed by Teco Benson. UK returnee Misola Iyun’s screenplay for Yoruba flick Moyomola (Nigeria) grabbed that award.
Held under the theme New Nollywood…New Partnerships ….New Frontiers, the festival had at the opening ceremony awarded the LIFF Leadership Accomplishment Awards to select individuals such as Cameroonian Culture Minister, Madame Ama Tutu Muna, represented by Mr. David Sinou, Deputy Head Mission, Cameroon High Commissio Abuja; Prof. Emevwo Biakolo, Dean School of Media and Communications, Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos; Prof. Adebambo Adewopo, former Director General Nigerian Copyright Commission; and Mr Adedapo Adelegan, Media Guru. Executive Director Ugandan Communications Commission Engr. Godfrey Mutabazi also received an award for transforming the Ugandan film industry.
For CEO, Madu C. Chikwendu, 2013 LIFF was a festival of transition. He said: ‘we moved from one level to another bringing us closer to our ultimate vision of creating a festival that will provide an invaluable platform for uniting Francophone and Anglophone Africa and a festival that will yield high value to film practitioners and all delegates.’’
Winners of the adjunct Reelteens Film Festival introduced to train secondary schools students in some area of Lagos to produce films were announced on October 25. Fortuneland College entry The Seed won Best Actor, while Best Actress (Bukola Adedugbe) went to Breakthrough College for Regret. Best Script (Maduka Chinelo) was won by Bethel College for Ifeoma The Destitute, while Best Film trophy was carted away by Alpha Secondary School for A Shadow of Myself. The high point of the opening ceremonies was the installation of Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe as Grand Patron LIFF Festivals Group.
Clarion, Mercy And Nse Star In Hustlers
LEVERAGING on the success of his past jobs — True Citizens, A Wish, Playing Safe, Happy Family (TV drama series) and many others, the award winning producer, Elvis Chucks is back with a new work, Hustlers.
The film is the story of a mother, who wants to use her daughter as channel of finding an easy way out of poverty. The movie has memorable twists and bends with Mercy Johnson and Nse Ikpe Etim playing roles of two local girls ‘hustling’ to survive in the city.
Clarion Chukwura returns to the big screen with the role of Mercy’s mother. Other cast include IK Ogbonna, Chelsea Eze and Paul Sambo. On the movie, the actor cum producer said, “I want to make history in Nollywood with this movie. Hustlers is a glamour filled movie, aimed at correcting the ills of the society.’ Speaking on the relationship with the cast, Elvis Chucks said, “it was an honour having Clarion Chukwura on my set, it was a welcome back for her and she is an actress who understands the industry. Nse Ikpe Etim, Mercy Johnson and others brought their A-game to set. I will work with all of them over and over again if the opportunity comes.” Mercy Johnson on her part was delighted to be featured in the movie. According to her, “This is my first movie with Elvis Chucks, and when the script was given to me, it wasn’t a script to turn down, because it was full of suspense, talks about the ills of the society and how to make changes.” For Clarion, the movies theme and plot was the attraction for her. She said, “I was struck by the theme, characterization, plot and the rest, I couldn’t help but say yes.”
Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel To Open Berlinale Film Festival
THE 64th Berlin International Film Festival will open at the Berlinale Palast on February 6, with the premiere of Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. “We are very delighted that Wes Anderson will open the 64th Berlinale with his new film, The Grand Budapest Hotel.
This comedy film promises to kick things off in a big way,” says Festival Director Dieter Kosslick. The Grand Budapest Hotel (UK/Germany) recounts the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy, who becomes his most trusted friend.
The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune – all against the backdrop of a suddenly and dramatically changing Continent.
Kosslick says “with its elaborate production design and fantastic cast line-up, film bears the inimitable mark of American director Wes Anderson”, who has previously presented two films in the Berlinale Competition: The Royal Tenenbaums (2002) and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2005). This new film is an Anglo-German co-production, produced by Grand Budapest Limited (UK) and Neunzehnte Babelsberg Film GmbH (Germany). Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven M. Rales and Jeremy Dawson are the producers. The film was shot on location in Germany (mainly in Gorlitz and other parts of Saxony, and also at Studio Babelsberg in Potsdam).
Practitioners Hail NFC management on SHOOT 2013
THE five-day SHOOT Training and Capacity Building Workshop for film, television and information professionals has ended in Jos with a call for more funding for Nigeria’s premier film institute, the National Film Institute (NFI) Jos, venue of the programme.
Speakers at the closing ceremony with the theme, High Definition; The New Era were unanimous that the sustenance of such training workshops and programmes is what the industry, especially the film and television sectors need.
This, they averred will aid the desire of all stakeholders to professionalise in the various sectors of the industry, which has since assumed the sound position in terms of employment generation.
Kosmos, a Texan oil company, conducts a successful drillstem test in the Jubilee field. An ongoing investigation risks complicating efforts by Kosmos to cash in its share of Ghana's biggest field., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
ECOWAS Protocol And Friction Between Ghanaian And Nigerian Businessmen
Saturday, 23 November 2013 16:59
Written by Debo Oladimeji who was in Ghana
Nigerian Guardian Saturday Magazine
THE dust raised by the recent implementation of 1994 Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Laws is yet to settle. The GIPC Laws Act 478 1994 lists those enterprises which are reserved for Ghanaian citizens as: The sale of anything whatsoever in a market, petty trading, hawking or selling from a kiosk; operation of taxi service and car hire service; all aspects of pools betting business and lotteries, except football pools; and operation of beauty salons and barber shops.
The law does, however, provide exoneration in the application of the Schedule under section 19 (3). Where trading involves someone who is not a citizen, the practice can continue if there is “an investment of foreign capital or its equivalent in goods worth at least US$300,000 by way of equity capital” and if the enterprise employs “at least 10 citizens.”
Based on the GIPC Laws, many Nigerian businessmen’s shops were locked by Ghanaian security agents before the law was recently relaxed after the intervention of the Nigerian government and ECOWAS Parliament.
Commenting on the GIPC Laws, President of Nigerian Union of Traders Association, Ghana (NUTAG), Deacon John Igwe Ukala recalled that trouble started on May 27, 2007, when some Ghanaian security agents locked up their shops at Opera Square, Accra. About 48 shops were locked up the same day.
“We went to Abuja on August 22nd 2013 this year to thank our President, Goodluck Jonathan for his efforts to make sure that the matter was resolved and our shops were reopened. We are also pleading with the Nigerian government to make sure that such a thing will not happen again,” he said.
Chairman, Eagle Digital Association, Edmond Nkemjika, an association of Nigerian traders dealing in digital appliances in Ghana, lamented that Nigerians are still going through the same process to register their businesses in Ghana.
The President of Igbo Community, Ghana, Chief Onyema Ndaraku, who is from Imo State, said that to be identified as a Nigerian in Ghana is a problem on its own.
“Just recently, Nigerian traders in Kumasi who were trading in spare parts were harassed by the indigenous spare parts dealers who said they don’t want them.
“The truth is that the Ghanaian businessmen are afraid of competition. But where there is competition prices are better. The ordinary citizen would have the liberty to buy good at reasonable prices,” he said.
The Chief Executive Officer of City Lights, Prince Emmanuel Okeson, one of the successful Nigerian companies in Ghana, said that Ghana is one of the most stable countries in the Economic Community of West African (ECOWAS) sub-region. “That is a plus for them. That is attracting a lot of businesses to Ghana. Ghana has positioned itself to attract more investors.
“When you have a stable economy, some of the advantages are stable power, good roads, infrastructure etc. If Nigeria were to solve the problem of power and insecurity, I can tell you that not only will City Lights be ready to come back home to invest, but other companies as well,” he said.
Okeson said when people from outside Africa come to invest in the West Africa they have one or two things in mind. “That is to come and make profit and repatriate it back to their countries. When the political climate is not conducive, they take out everything they have invested and go to another country. For us Nigerians, we are not like that. Whatever profit we make we recycle it in West Africa,” he said.
He said that the Ghanaian government has fantastic foreign investment laws. “But I think the problem is that of not making the distinction or the definition of who is a foreigner. I think Ghana as member state of ECOWAS should be moving towards a common market,” he said.
Okeson added that in Nigeria, ECOWAS citizens are treated as ECOWAS citizens. “In Ghana, that is not the case. That is brewing some kind of discontent and friction between Ghanaian businessmen and their Nigerian counterparts.”
The business mogul said although the government had assured that Nigerians are free to do their businesses in Ghana,
“when you follow up to the various implementing agencies like Registrar General department or immigration, the reverse is the case. They also claim that they have not received directory from the Ministry of Trade or the government for that matter to change their laws.”
Executive Director of Equity Assurance Ltd, Ghana, Mr. Ishola Akintunde, said there are a lot of things that ought to be done by ECOWAS to improve trade in the sub-region. “It will take you about 12 hours to travel by road from Ghana to Nigeria whereas normal travelling should be about six hours. There is still a lot to be done to remove obstacles preventing smooth movement of goods and services in the sub-region.
“The situation is a little bit better in Anglophone countries. Things are more difficult in the Francophone borders. The language barrier is still there. I am not blaming Ghanaian government for protecting its economy. I also know that if Ghana should allow everybody in Nigerian to come here, there will be trouble.”
The publisher of Nigerian Eye in Ghana, Mr. Cookie Iwuoha, said the GIPC
Laws have affected the businesses of many Nigerians.
“The challenges we are facing as Nigerians is similar to what Nigerians are facing in other parts of the world,” he said.
He said every nation has the right to protect their nationals. Unfortunately, he said, there is a similar law like the GIPC Laws in Nigeria and nobody is taking about it.
“As for the traders, they don’t want to go back to Nigeria. They are asking for the Ghanaian government to give them land to build their shops”.
Managing Editor of Delight Communication West African Ltd, Accra, Mr. Bolatito Olalere, said what attracted him to Ghana was stable electricity. “Unfortunately, at the end of the day, when you look at the volume of work that I do here, it is not complimentary to the money I pay for the electricity supply. Electricity supply is not cheap in Ghana”.
He said that what the Ghanaian traders want is for the Nigerian businessmen to be doing wholesale businesses and not retailing. “Initially, Nigerians were selling their goods in wholesale but many people were owing them money. That was how some of them decided to stay back,” he said.
Vice President of Yoruba Community in Ghana, Mr. Akeem Atitebi, said a lot of Nigerians feel that Ghana is a good place to do business. “Whenever they come here, they face a lot of challenges, like accommodation. At times, we arrange with the Nigerian High Commission in Ghana to help them out.
“I was part of the delegation of the All Nigerian Community that went to the Trade Minister, Honorable Hanna Tetteh when the issue of the GIPC was very hot.
“She said that Nigerian businessmen now need to register their businesses with Registrar General with the equivalent of N30, 000. That as ECOWAS citizens, they need not to register their businesses with $300,000, but it has not been gazetted into the constitution. That is the challenge we are facing now,” he said.
Group Managing Head, Omatec Ventures Distribution, Ghana, Mr. Babatunde Dauda, regretted that there are so many levies that are impacting negatively on Nigerian companies in Ghana.
“The Ghanaian government just increased duties on so many things being imported to Ghana. They also introduced so many levies impacting negatively on foreign companies in Ghana. Not only that. You can only employ four non-Ghanaians in your company,” he said.
Dauda added that energy is very expensive in Ghana. He used to pay about N100,000 (cedis equivalent) electricity tariff monthly. “But now, it has been increased to about N350,000 per month. They have introduced so many taxes. Recently, they introduced non-indigenes identity card. It is $120 per person. You must have it before you will be given your residence permit,” he said.
Zenith Bank (Ghana) Managing Director, Mr. Daniel Asiedu said member state of ECOWAS talk about borderless nations and free movement of goods and all that, but it does not work like that in practice.
He stressed that Zenith customers used to think that if they have an account
with Zenith Bank, Nigeria, they can just walk into Zenith Bank, Ghana to withdraw money.
“They forget that even though it is the same bank, we are operating in two different jurisdictions and there are exchange controls and rules that must be followed.
“It is not yet automatic. I don’t know what will happen when the ECO currency becomes effective. Until then, the cedi will continue to rule in Ghana, the naira will continue to rule in Nigeria,” he said.
The President of All Nigerian Community, Ghana, Moses Owharo, said that the Nigerian community in Ghana would continue to sensitize Nigerians and the host country on the need to comply with the laws.
“One Nigerian recently called me saying that he does not have an international passport and he needs a drivers’ license to drive in Ghana. I told him that we have an office in Ghana that gives Nigerian passports to bonafide Nigerians?”
On her part, Branch Manager of Orange West Africa Ltd, Accra, Ghana, Rosalind Adzimahe, (a Ghanaian), said that the Ghanaian business environment is a competitive one although the political environment is not as difficult as compared to other countries in the sub-region.
She said that the GIPC laws are fair and will help to stabilize the Ghanaian economy. “I am for the government creating an enabling environment for foreigners to come and invest in the country. I believe in the law of reciprocity. I think the $300,000 is fair. It serves as equity and it can be used for importation of goods into the country. But the one million dollars is on the high side,” she said.
The President of Ghana Union of Traders’ Association (GUTA), George Kwaku Ofori regretted that there is news going on in Nigeria that the Ghanaian traders are not treating their Nigerian counterparts well without knowing the facts of the matter.
He disclosed that GUTA as an organisation some years back, did a research and realized that the GIPC Laws had been passed by the parliament or legislature and it must be implemented by institutions mandated to carry out the laws
“We just reviewed the GIPC Laws and it has been jacked to one million dollars for non-Ghanaian businessmen with employment base of 20 Ghanaians,” he said.
He added that all the 16 ECOWAS member state have investment laws within their respective countries. “And those laws regulate the activities of investors who come to do businesses in their countries.
“ECOWAS spoke about the usage of one currency like ECO. What about ECO marine, ECO air? ECOWAS heads of state are yet to implement even the ECOWAS protocols they themselves have appended their signatures.
“What is wrong if ECOWAS can implement their protocols? ECOWAS alone has about 350 million markets within the sub-region. Can’t they trade among themselves?
“If nothing is done to have a harmonised investment laws among the 16 ECOWAS countries, we are still going to ask for a blanket implementation of the GIPC Laws,” he said.
The Nigerian High Commissioner in Ghana, Ambassador Ademola Onafowokan said that the issue of GIPC Laws has been resolved.
“The efforts to implement this law led to controversy between Ghanaian and Nigerian businessmen and the Nigerian High Commission had to intervene. This matter culminated into an inter-ministerial meeting by Nigerian Minister of Trade with its Ghanaian counterpart.
“The Ghanaian government later agreed to relax the GIPC Laws on ECOWAS citizens. There was also the issue of where Nigerian businessmen in Ghana will locate their shops because non-Ghanaians were not allowed to set up their shops in the traditional markets. There was also the issue of resident permits,” he said.
According to him, the informal sector is the area that Nigerians are having problem, because the people relied on ECOWAS protocols to set up their businesses and they were told that it was not so.
“The argument made by the government is that the government wants non-Ghanaians to register their businesses to know the actual investment by foreign nationals in Ghana”.
Onafowokan said that the closing down of Nigerian shops used to be at regular intervals. As for the ID card issue, he explained that it has nothing to do with traders, but non- Ghanaians who are residents in Ghana. After getting your residence permit, you still need to pay for your ID card.
“The reason why it has generated controversy is the levies being imposed.
We have written letters to all the relevant institutions in Nigeria to be aware of what is happening in Ghana and what Nigerians are going through. There is what we call the principle of reciprocity in international relations,” he said.
He added that Nigerians constitute about 60 percent of the population of the people in West Africa. “That is why everywhere you go, you hear the story of Nigerians not that of the Togolese or others.
“Everybody is frustrated by the slow pace of progress of regional integration in the sub- region. But of recent, a lot of projects, like the West African Highway Project, are coming up to bring the dream of regional integration into reality.”
He said that Nigerian businessmen in Ghana now have to register their businesses with one percent of $300,000.
A delegation from Brazil visited the Syrian Arab Republic. Most nations in South America oppose the US-backed war against Damascus., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Officials to Brazilian delegation: War against Syria targets its unity
Nov 27, 2013
Damascus, (SANA) - Assistant Secretary-General of the al-Baath Arab Socialist Party, Abdullah al-Ahmar, stressed the importance of the role of parties and popular organizations in unmasking the plot targeting Syria.
During a meeting with a Brazilian delegation comprising party, intellectual, cultural, media and human rights figures, al-Ahmar said that the conspiracy against Syria aims at dissuading Damascus from its pan-Arab stances, particularly regarding the Palestinian Cause.
He highlighted that the Syrians are keen of their national unity and reject all kinds of foreign interference in their country's internal affairs, voicing confidence that Syria will be victorious over the conspiracy and terrorism.
Al-Ahmar said that Syria welcomes all sincere and honest efforts aimed at reaching a political solution to the crisis but is determined to obliterate terrorism from the country.
He expressed appreciation of the stances of Brazil in support of all the just Arab causes and in solidarity with Syria in the face of the terrorist war targeting it.
For their part, members of the delegation expressed their country's rejection of all attempts of foreign interference in Syria's internal affairs, stressing that Syria will emerge from the crisis stronger and more immune.
Information Minister stresses importance of objective media in conveying facts
Information Minister, Omran al-Zoubi underlined the significance of objective media in conveying the reality of events in Syria and blowing the lid of the terrorist crimes against citizens.
During his meeting on Wednesday with the Brazilian delegation, al-Zoubi said that "it was the Syrian government that first proposed political solution and dialogue to get out of the crisis,'' but, he said, armed terrorist groups insisted on rebuffing any political option.
The world political landscape has now changed considerably as the world public opinion is now aware of the armed terrorist groups' atrocities that stopped at nothing; not even the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian civilians and army, the minister pointed out.
He indicated that the Syrian media has been facing uphill challenges and offered dear sacrifices but has managed to iron out difficulties and convey the true image about the events unfolding on the ground.
Al-Zoubi stressed the important role of Syrian and Arab communities abroad in divulging the lies of hostile media that seeks to mislead world public opinion.
The minister referred to the Syrian government's consent to go to Geneva 2 without preconditions ''and all the statements of the opposition abroad are but attempts to evade participation in the conference.''
''The ballot box will define the future of the country,'' minister al-Zoubi added, affirming that the Syrian government will remain thanks to the sacrifices of the army and people '' and terrorists' attempts to subvert the state are doomed to failure.''
The delegation members, for their part, stressed solidarity with the Syrian people against barbarism and terrorism, condemning foreign intervention in the Syrian domestic affairs.
They also denounced the desecration of Muslim and Christian holy places by groups ''so detached from humanity'', expressing full solidarity with the Syrian people in the face of terrorism.
Mufti: War against Syria targets its unity
For his part, Syria's grand Mufti Ahmad Badr Eddin Hassoun said that the war against Syria targets its diversity, tolerant mentality and national unity.
Meeting the Brazilian delegation, the Mufti added that the region was the cradle of the heavenly messages and prophets.
He called upon members of the delegation to convey the real image of what is going on in Syria to the public opinion in their country.
For their part, members of the delegation condemned what is being broadcast by a number of misleading channels of lies on the events in Syria.
President of Syria Bashar al-Assad in an interview with al-Manar news agency of Lebanon. The interview gained international attention during late May 2013., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Syrian govt and opposition both confirm attendance at Geneva 2
Published time: November 27, 2013 23:31
Syria’s government along with the main Western-backed opposition coalition have confirmed that both will attend the UN-sponsored peace conference.
The repeatedly delayed peace talks are scheduled for January 22 in Geneva and will bring together Syria’s President Bashar Assad’s government and the opposition for the first time since the bloody conflict began in March of 2011.
Despite their confirmed participation, the two sides still see talks going into different directions. The opposition wants to see a transitional government to emerge, while Assad’s government has stated that it is not attending the conference to hand over power.
Syria’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Assad will send an official delegation to the conference, highlighting that representatives “will be going to Geneva not to hand over power to anyone,” but to meet with those “who support a political solution for Syria's future,” AP quoted the statement as saying on Wednesday.
The Western-backed Syrian opposition coalition also said it will be attending. "We are now ready to go to Geneva," Reuters quoted Jarba as saying during a visit to Cairo, adding that the opposition sees the Geneva talks as a way towards a transitional government and a "genuine democratic transformation in Syria,” noting that Assad cannot be a part of that government.
"There is no way that the individual responsible for the destruction of the country can be responsible for building the country," said Jarba, referring to Assad.
The opposition group also made it clear earlier that it would need humanitarian corridors to surrounded rebel areas and the release of political prisoners.
The complete list of participants in the talks has not yet been agreed upon. The opposition is fighting against Iran’s attendance, arguing that it must stop taking part in the Syrian war if it wants to attend.
"Iran is responsible for and takes part in the killing in Syria in a very clear way. It killed thousands of Syrians with its Revolutionary Guards and mercenaries from Hezbollah, which is considered a terrorist group," Jarba told Reuters. "If Iran is serious about resolving the Syrian crisis, it must first withdraw its Revolutionary Guards and (Lebanese) Hizbollah mercenaries."
Negotiations were delayed in the past as attempts to bring both sides to the negotiating table failed. Key hurdles involved clarifying whether Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other regional powers should be attending the conference, and the issue of Assad remaining in power.
According to Syrian officials, Assad has no plans to give up power and is even planning to run in the upcoming elections in mid-2014.
The two-year conflict has already killed more than 100,000 people and displaced over one million refugees. According to the country’s officials Syria’s economy has lost an estimated US$100 billion during the war - the equivalent of two years of normal production.
Somalia flooding in the Middle Shabelle region of the Horn of Africa state. A cyclone also hit the northern region of Puntland., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Somalia: Struggling in the face of twin natural disasters
Thousands of people in eastern Puntland are trying to cope with the aftermath of a devastating cyclone. Further south, in Middle Shabelle, tens of thousands are struggling to recover from major flooding by the River Shabelle, especially in and around the town of Jowhar.
Aid for cyclone and flood victims - news release
In Puntland, a cyclone that struck on 10 November left dozens of people dead and up to a million head of livestock wiped out by freak freezing temperatures, high winds and severe floods. "The regions of Nugal and Bari were the most affected," said Abshir Omar Jama, who is coordinating the ICRC's relief effort in Puntland. "Hundreds of families have been rendered homeless, and the economy – highly dependent on livestock farming – has been shattered through the loss of so many animals."
"It was raining for three days. It was getting more and more windy and cold," said Mohamed Osman Jama, a livestock herder from Naasa Hablood. "We had 150 goats and lost half of them. We had three houses and they were all swept away by the flood. Our food was lost, too."
ICRC and Somali Red Crescent Society personnel have managed to reach the stricken areas and for the last week have been providing much-needed assistance, but access remains very difficult owing to the storm's impact on the road network. "In some places, we had to swim across flooded roads to get to the affected areas," said Mr Omar Jama.
In Middle Shabelle, the humanitarian situation is no better. Heavy rains in the highlands of the Horn of Africa over the last two months have swollen the Shabelle River massively, causing major flooding that has forced more than 10,000 people to flee to the town of Jowhar, where they are living in wretched conditions. In addition, the town is trying to cope with some 5,000 people who have sought refuge near the airstrip, 13 kilometres to the north, following violent clashes between rival ethnic groups.
"Those who have remained in flood-hit areas, especially in and around Jowhar town, are having to contend with very difficult conditions," said May Hazim, in charge of the ICRC's water and sanitation programmes in Somalia. "Their shallow wells and other sources of water have been contaminated, which represents a major health hazard."
All the standing crops in the affected areas have been destroyed. This is primarily an agricultural region, where the farmers are now facing a severe food shortage with the loss of their harvest. Recovering from this economic shock will be a challenge for the community for a long time to come.
This month, the Somali Red Crescent Society and the ICRC have:
In eastern Puntland:
distributed emergency one-month food rations and household items to more than 12,000 cyclone victims in Dhir Waraabe, Lebi Cadaad, Xoolo Keen, Balli Shilin, and Abqow;
made available water as well as chlorine tablets and other items needed to store and distribute water;
In Middle Shabelle:
provided 25,800 people with such essentials as kitchen sets, tarpaulins, hygiene items, jerrycans, clothes, buckets and sleeping mats;
distributed fortified biscuits, Plumpy'Nut and other nutritional supplements to needy people;
cleaned and de-watered 19 hand-dug wells and upgraded 13 of them;
stopped flooding and reinforced river banks at five locations;
launched a water trucking operation to distribute a survival ration of five litres per person per day to 5,000 people displaced by inter-ethnic violence;
started building 100 latrines for 5,000 displaced people at the airport;
dispatched emergency surgical supplies to Jowhar Hospital for the treatment of weapon-wounded patients and facilitated the transfer of war-wounded people from Jowhar to the ICRC-supported Medina Hospital in Mogadishu.
The ICRC and the Somali Red Crescent Society were already working in both eastern Puntland and Middle Shabelle before the recent cyclone and flooding. Both organizations have been supporting the efforts of local communities to strengthen their self-reliance, and will continue to do so.
For further information, please contact:
Fatuma Abdisalam Abdullahi (available for interviews in Somali or English), ICRC Puntland, tel: +252 90 77 94 282
Germain Mwehu, ICRC Nairobi, tel: +254 20 271 93 01 or +254 736 400 199
Jean-Yves Clémenzo, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 22 71 or +41 79 217 32 17
Zawiya Oil refinery in occupied Libya. Since the counter-revolution against Gaddafi and the Jamahiriya the country's oil production has declined by two-thirds., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
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'Major crude oil importers won’t deal with Libya’s militia'
Published time: November 27, 2013 11:28
Libyan militia won’t be able to successfully control the assets of the country’s oil production, Mamdouh Salameh, World Bank oil expert, told RT.
Moeen Raoof, Defence consultant, believes there is nothing Tripoly can do about separatists who declared an autonomy in the country's oil-rich eastern provinces. “The central government cannot rule beyond the hotel lobby, where the Prime Minister stays in,” Raoof told RT. There will be instability for the next 10-20 years unless they come up with solution, he said.
RT: The country's oil output has plummeted to about 10% of its previous capacity - what are the immediate and long-term effects of this drop?
Mamdouh Salameh: Actually the price of oil has dropped by $2 to $3 only, but that is natural because oil is connected and receptive to political developments. However, the overall trend for the future of oil is upward. Its drop of $2 to $3 is nothing. The demand for oil is going up and that’s why I’m saying the trend is ascending. So I wouldn’t be surprised if we see the price of $120 to $130 by 2015. However, the loss of 2 or 3 dollars in the price of oil seems to be welcomed by the global economies, although it won’t have a very great impact as yet.
RT: In terms of what’s going on in Libya itself and in terms of who actually controls the oil, we do hear that breakaway militias have formed an autonomy in Libya's oil-rich east.
They want to export the crude oil for themselves. Do you think they will be able to succeed?
MS: No, they will not. Libya is a different category from the other Arab Gulf producers.
For instance, since last year when the troubles started in Libya, Libya virtually ceased to be an oil exporter. This year they are not even able to satisfy their domestic needs which amounts to around 400,000 barrels a day - they are producing 200,000, which is 50% of their needs. And they used to export 1.25 million barrels to Europe, they are not exporting anything.
The militia or the armed gangs want to control the assets of oil production so that they can finance their activities. They will not succeed and they will also have to repair the damage to the oil industry in Libya.
Furthermore, the major importers like Italy, France and Germany will not deal with them; they would rather buy oil from somewhere else but not deal with the militia.
RT: Given the huge economic problems Libya is now facing, particularly with reference to oil and gas revenues, are there any economic alternatives for Tripoli?
MS: There is no alternative because the Libyan budget depends to the tune of 85 percent to 90 percent of revenue from oil and gas export. The Libyan economy as a whole is dependent to the tune of 90 percent to 95 percent on the revenue from oil and gas.
Since there is no gas and oil revenue, no export, so there is no revenue at all. The Libyan government is in real mess because they cannot issue the budget without knowing how much oil they will be able to export and what revenue they will get.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
Damage from a rebel shoot out at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Tripoli, Libya. Violence continued in the city on the evening of November 8, 2013., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Libya struggles to pay salaries, more clashes erupt
By Ulf Laessing and Ayman al-Warfalli
TRIPOLI/BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) -
Libya's Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said on Wednesday his government will be unable to pay public salaries and may have to seek loans if armed militias blockading oilfields and ports continue to choke off crude shipments.
Zeidan's warning and renewed armed clashes, including an attack on a centuries-old shrine near Tripoli, have added to a growing sense of chaos in the OPEC producer two years after the NATO-backed ouster of Muammar Gaddafi.
Western powers worry the North African state may slide into anarchy as Zeidan's government struggles to rein in militias who helped topple Gaddafi but have kept their weapons and still control parts of the vast country.
Militias, tribesman and ethnic minorities have seized oilfields and ports to make demands, drying up the main cashflow for the budget, much of which is spent on state subsidies to stave off popular discontent or to buy the loyalty of the militias.
"We are facing a financial crisis," Zeidan told reporters, adding that the government might be forced to borrow. "Oil revenues are down to 20 percent."
He did not give further details. Libya had been exporting more than 1 million barrels of oil a day until summer, when the protests and strikes escalated, and output is now down to a fraction of that.
A government deadline to end the oil strikes expired last week but Zeidan only repeated that the authorities would take unspecified "measures". He declined to elaborate.
Libya might also start facing power cuts as the oil strikes hamper gas production at several fields, Electricity Minister Ali Muhairig said.
Hours before Zeidan spoke, new clashes broke out between army special forces and Islamists in Benghazi, the largest city in the oil-rich east.
Fighting on Monday between the army and members of militant group Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi left at least nine dead before the Islamists retreated from their main base.
Gun battles erupted in parts of the port city in the early hours of Wednesday when members of Ansar al-Sharia threw a grenade at a patrol of special forces, a security official said. He later said it was not clear who was behind the attack.
Three soldiers were also killed in Benghazi in what city officials described as assassinations. The security situation in Libya's second-biggest city has sharply deteriorated in the past few months. Islamists run their own checkpoints, and assassinations and bombings occur daily.
In Tajoura outside the capital Tripoli, unknown attackers blew up part of a 16th century shrine, the mausoleum of an Ottoman ruler, witnesses said.
Western powers have promised more aid to the army and police to militants who control much of the vast desert country.
But popular anger is also growing against the militiamen and former fighters, and Zeidan's fragile government hopes to use that discontent to wrest back control from armed groups.
Hoping to co-opt former fighters, the government has hired militia groups to provide security. But they remain loyal to their commanders or tribes and often clash in disputes over territory or personal feuds.
(Additional reporting by Ghaith Shennib; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Patrick Markey and Mark Trevelyan)
Page of Obamacare website which has been temporarily closed down for maintenance. The has had problems since going online in October 2013., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Another HealthCare.gov delay announced
Kelly Kennedy, USA TODAY 5:48 p.m. EST
November 27, 2013
Online enrollment for small businesses being pushed back a year
Paper enrollment still available, as are state exchanges
Republicans say it is more evidence the health care law is fatally flawed
WASHINGTON — Small businesses will not be able to enroll online in the new health insurance exchanges until November 2014, the Obama administration announced Wednesday.
Online enrollment was originally slated to begin this month. However, businesses may continue to sign up for the Small Business Health Options Program through paper applications, as they have been since Oct. 1, said Julie Bataille, director of the Office of Communications for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
They will also be able to enroll using agents and brokers or directly through an insurer.
"Many of them today are already served by using agents and brokers," Bataille said.
She also said tax credits would be applied when businesses turned in their taxes.
The announcement immediately drew outcry from Republicans, who said the delay was a sign that the website is still not up to par.
"With each passing day, it's clear how much worse ObamaCare is than a website full of glitches," said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus in a statement. He called for the whole program to be scrapped. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and House Speaker John Boehner issued similar statements.
Bataille said the delay isn't an indictment of Healthcare.gov.
"The website is working already," she said. "Consumers every day are shopping and enrolling in coverage."
By this weekend, the website is expected to handle 800,000 people a day "smoothly," officials have said.
Business groups also expressed concern about the SHOP delay.
Kevin Kuhlman, manager of legislative affairs for National Federation of Independent Business, a conservative lobbying organization, said the announcement showed the administration doesn't care about small business.
"It probably matters little to people in Washington that the failure to get the small business exchanges online adds yet another onerous paperwork requirement for job creators," he said. "The continued delays add to uncertainty and contribute to the decision of many owners to take early renewals of their small-group plans."
But the Main Street Alliance, a more liberal national small business association, saw the option to enroll directly with insurers as a plus.
"While we're disappointed that the ability to enroll online on the Healthcare.gov website has been pushed back for small employers, starting in December Healthcare.gov will offer small businesses a better comparison shopping experience," reads a statement from the Alliance. "Most, importantly, today's announcement allowing direct enrollment ensures that small businesses will be able to access the benefits of the Affordable Care Act in 2014, including expanded health care tax credits."
The government announced in April that small businesses would be able to enroll in the SHOPS, but delayed until 2015 small business employees' ability to choose from more than one plan. Instead, the businesses would choose one plan for all of their employees, which was the case for most small businesses before the SHOP launched.
States offering SHOP coverage through state-based exchanges are not affected by Wednesday's announcement.
Egyptian pro-Morsi demonstration on Aug. 10, 2013. The military-backed regime has ordered the protesters off the streets within twenty-four hours., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Full English translation of Egypt's new protest law
Ahram Online, Monday 25 Nov 2013
Ahram Online translates the text of Egypt's new law on protests and demonstrations
The new protest law consists of 25 articles, which outline in detail the conditions that must be met before a protest, political meeting or march is held. It also details the penalties for violations of the law.
Chapter 1: General rules and definitions
Article 1: Citizens have the right to hold and join public meetings, marches and peaceful protests in accordance with the provisions and regulations of the protest law.
Article 2: A public meeting is any gathering in a public location or place wherein persons may enter or be allowed entry without a personal invitation and whose number is no less than 10, for the aim of discussing or exchanging opinions about a subject of a public nature.
Electoral meetings are considered part of general gatherings in the application of this law when the following conditions are met:
1. That their aim is choosing a candidate or candidates for parliament or hearing their electoral programmes.
2. That it only includes the voters and the candidates or their representatives.
3. That the meeting is held during the period allotted for election campaigning.
Article 3: A march is a procession of at least ten persons in a place, road or square, to peacefully express non-political opinions and aims.
Article 4: A protest is a gathering of at least ten persons in a public place or moving in roads and squares, with the aim of peacefully expressing their political opinions, demands or objections.
Article 5: Prohibition of any political gathering in houses of worship, their vicinities or buildings associated with them, in addition to barring houses of worship from serving as meeting points for marches.
Article 6: Participants in protests, meetings or marches are prohibited from carrying any weapons, explosives, fireworks or other items that may put individuals, buildings or possessions in danger.
Wearing masks to hide the face during such actions is prohibited.
Article 7: Violations of general security, public order, or production are prohibited, as well as calling for disrupting public interests. It also forbids actions which could impact on public services, transportation or the flow of traffic, as well as assaults on security forces or exposure of danger to individuals, public or private possessions.
Article 8: Anyone wanting to organise a public meeting, march or protest must notify in writing the police station whose jurisdiction includes the public meeting's location or the starting point of a march or protest, the notification must be given in a minimum of three working days prior to the public meeting, march or protest, and a maximum of 15 days, and this period is reduced to 24 hours if the meeting was an electoral meeting, on the condition that the notification be given first-hand or through a marshal, and must include the following statements and information:
1. The place of the public meeting or route of the march or protest.
2. The start and end time of the public meeting, march or protest.
3. The subject of the public meeting or march or protest, its aim and the demands and slogans adopted by the participants in them.
4. The names of the individuals or organising organisation of the public meeting or march or protest, their description, place of residence and communication information.
Article 9: The interior minister shall issue a decree forming a permanent committee in each governorate presided over by its security director, its mission being to establish procedures and measures to secure public meetings, marches and protests that have given notice, and the modes of operation to deal with violent protests, in accordance with the provisions of this law.
Article 10: The interior minister or the security director may authorise a reasoned decision to prohibit or postpone or change the location or route of a public meeting or march or protest before its stated start time if serious information or evidence of threats to security or peace are obtained by them, notifying the organisers of the decision a minimum period of 24 hours in advance.
Without prejudice to the purview of the Administrative Court, the organisers may appeal the decision to ban or postpone decision.
Chapter 2: Procedures and regulatory controls
Article 11: Security forces in official uniform should disperse protests, meetings or marches in the event of a crime at the order of the field commander.
The field police commander can ask a judge to determine the non-peaceful state of a meeting or protest. A decision should be issued immediately.
Article 12: Security forces must utilise methods of gradual dispersal for protests in breach of the law.
Authorities must first ask participants to voluntarily leave through audible verbal warnings, which should be repeated several times whilst indicating and providing secure paths out of the venue of assembly.
If participants refuse to leave, security forces have the right to use water cannons, batons, and teargas to disperse protesters.
Article 13: In the case of security forces failing to disperse gatherings through afore mentioned measurements, or if violent assaults erupt against security forces, escalatory measures may be taken.
In this case, security forces should first fire warning shots, then escalate by using rubber bullets and finally metal pellets.
If participants use weapons, security forces should respond using means proportional to the danger imposed.
Article 14: The Minister of Interior, in coordination with the concerned governor, should designate a safe space for protesters in front of vital institutions.
Such institutions include government, military, and security buildings, as well as courts, prosecution centres and museums.
Article 15: Protests in specific spacious venues will be allowed to take place without prior notification. Such spaces will be defined by the governor.
Chapter 3: Penalties
Article 16: The following states the penalties in the case that earlier articles are violated.
Article 17: Whoever possesses weapons or explosives while participating in a protest, meeting or march could face imprisonment of seven years and pay a fine of between LE100,000 and LE300,000.
Article 18: A participant who has received or given money and/or benefits to protests, meetings or marches is to face prison and a fine of between LE100,000 and LE200,000. The same penalty will be imposed on whoever is responsible for inciting such a crime.
Article 19: A participant who violates Article 7 in the protest law could face 2 to 5 years of imprisonment, in addition to the possibility of paying a fine of between LE50,000 and LE100,000.
Article 20: Violating Articles 5 and 14 or wearing masks while committing a crime during a protest could lead to a maximum sentence of a year in prison and a fine of between LE30,000 and LE50,000.
Article 21: Holding a protest, meeting or march without giving prior notification as dictated by Article 8 could result in a fine of between LE10,000 and LE30,000.
Article 22: For any of the listed crimes, the courts can order the confiscation of tools or money used during protests or marches. However, this article excludes those who act with good intentions.
Chapter 4: Procedural provisions
Article 23: Law 14, issued in 1923, is to be annulled, in addition to the cancellation of any laws that contradict the new protest law.
Article 24: The cabinet is to issue decisions regarding the implementation of the provisions of the protest law.
Article 25: This law is to be published in the official gazette, and will be in effect the day after publication.
This is not an official translation.
The Egyptian pyramids were built by skilled tradesmen according to the recent excavations done inside the area., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Egyptian archaeologists refute claims by German amateurs on Great Pyramid
Nevine El-Aref, Wednesday 27 Nov 2013
Head of ancient Egyptian antiquities explains why he thinks claims by two German amateurs concerning the construction date of the Great Pyramid are wrong
In response to the alleged stealing of samples from the Great Pyramid by two German amateur archaeologists, Egypt's antiquities ministry issued a press release Wednesday discrediting all findings by the German pair.
The archaeologists took a piece of Kufu's cartouche from a small compartment above his burial chamber and smuggled it to Germany for study, the Ancient Egyptian section of the Ministry of State of Antiquities (MSA) reported.
The results announced by the two Germans cast doubt on the construction date of the Great Pyramid and consequently the Pharaoh for which it was built.
The results suggest that the pyramid was built in an era preceding Khufu's reign. It also suggests that the Pyramid is not the burial place for a king but a centre of power.
Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud, head of the ancient Egyptian department, asserted in a press release on Wednesday that a multitude of scientific research from the past two centuries shows that the Great Pyramid belongs to King Khufu, the second king of the fourth dynasty, and that it was built during his reign to be used as his royal burial place for eternity.
A pyramid is not a sole object; it is part of a structural complex connected to each others. This includes the pyramid itself, the funerary temple, the side pyramid, solar boat pits, the ramp and the valley temple, Maqsoud said.
He emphasised that Greek historian Herodotus, who visited Egypt during the fifth century BC, said that the ramp of King Khufu's Pyramid took 20 years of construction work and its walls were painted with scenes from Khufu's era.
The original blocks, many of which bore the King's name, were reused in the construction of the pyramids during the Middle Kingdom in the Lesht and Dahshur areas.
Archaeologist George Raisnerdiscovered the tomb of Khufu's mother, Queen Hetep Heres, to the east of the Great Pyramid, and archaeologist Ferdinand Debono found engravings of King Khufu's at Wadi Hamamat, now displayed in the Egyptian museum in Cairo, Maqsoud added.
The cartouche that the German archaeologists sampled was scrawled in red by the Great Pyramid builders in the 17th year of Khufu's reign.
According to the custom at the time, workers used to write on the walls of the structures they built in order to assert their belonging to an individual or king. Such cartouches were found in the entrance of Khufu's solar boat pit.
Maqsoud asserted scientific evidence shows that the pyramid builders' necropolis was found at the eastern rock of the Giza Plateau in 1990, and that each tomb contains details of its owner and his job description, as well as his or her skeleton and funerary collection.
"The most important archaeological evidence that Khufu is the king that built the Great Pyramid is the discovery carried out in 2012 by French archaeologist Taleit in a rock cave at Al-Ein El-Sokhna heights," Maqsoud concluded.
He added that Taleit found a collection of papyri dated to the reign of King Khufu mentioning the number of workers, artisans and boats that were used to transport the pyramid's blocks to the Giza plateau.
According to studies carried out by the French mission, these papyri were part of the diary of an engineer who was involved in the construction of the Great Pyramid.
The papyri also show the engineer's working plan and a description of the way the ancient Egyptians transported the blocks.
German archaeologist Rudolf Cooper also uncovered graffiti in the Western Desert at the Dakhla oasis revealing that Khufu and his son Djedef Re sent missions to import colours and oxides for decorating the Pyramid's inner walls.
Ahmed Saeed, professor of ancient Egyptian civilization at Cairo University, supports Abdel Maqsoud, saying thatwhat the German amateurs have claimed is totally false and nonsensical.
He elaborates on the writing of the King's name in graffiti, maintaining it could have been written by the pyramid builders after construction, which might also explain why the king's short name and not his official title is inscribed.
Alternatively, he suggests the cartouche could have been written during the Middle Kingdom era, due to the style of writing used.
He said that graffiti left by visitors on the walls of monuments have helped Egyptologists to know the short names of several kings that they otherwise wouldn't have known, among them Djoser. New Kingdom graffiti left on the walls of the monuments at Saqqara revealed that King Nesri-Khet was in fact Djoser.
Vendor on the streets of Cairo, Egypt with an enlarged US dollar advertisement in the background. Egypt is facing a renewed economic crisis due to its alliance with imperialism., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Experts connect Egypt PM gaffe with stocks fall
Ahram Online, Wednesday 27 Nov 2013
A series of stark statements by Egyptian Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi coincided with poor trading this week, with some experts seeing the premier as partially responsible
Egypt stocks sank into the red Wednesday for the fourth trading session in row, with analysts putting blame partially on several “ill-fated” statements of the country’s interim premier, Hazem El-Beblawi.
The market’s benchmark EGX30 fell 0.6 percent, recording 6,205 points, whilst the broader EGX70 index shed 0.5 percent.
“The strange statements that came from El-Beblawi on several occasions coincided with daily incidents, affecting trading over the week,” Eissa Fathi, vice head of the securities division at Cairo Chamber of Commerce, told Ahram Online.
“So, the prime minister is somewhat responsible for the stocks’ bearish trend in the last sessions.”
Fathi went on to point out the most influential statements made by El-Beblawi, starting with his interview with AFP Sunday when he revealed the governmental plan to phase out energy subsidies before leaving office in 2014.
On Monday, El-Beblawi tried to bolster an optimistic sentiment among investors, saying: “Who is the donkey that will buy high-price shares unless they are sure that there will be a better future for the Egyptian bourse?” Many misunderstood him.
According to Ashraf Abdel-Aziz, head of institutional sales at Arabeya Online Securities, El-Beblawi was meaning that investments in Egypt are recovering, citing investors’ purchases in the bourse, but that he misused the word “donkey.”
Domestic investors were net sellers with some LE31 million. Foreign and Arab investors were net buyers with LE1.8 million and LE29.3 million respectively.
“It is noteworthy that the Egyptian stock market has been witnessing poor performance in the last week of the last two months. Maybe it will turn up by December’s opening week,” Abdel-Aziz added.
Market bellwether Commercial International Bank (CIB) rose slightly, up 0.5 percent ahead of the dividend to be distributed in December.
Global Telecom (GT) declined two percent.
Property shares Talaat Mustafa Group (TMG), Palm Hills Development Holding (PHD) and Six of October Development and Investments Company (SODIC) were all down at 0.2 percent, two percent, and 2.3 percent respectively.
Wednesday’s session saw a total daily turnover of listed securities worth some LE431.8 million.
Egyptian women held in prison cage in Alexandria. The military regime gave them 11 year sentences., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Egyptian court gives female Islamist protesters harsh jail terms
El-Sayed Gamal Eddin
Wednesday 27 Nov 2013
An Alexandria Misdemeanour Court sentences 14 female Islamist protesters to 11 years and one month in jail and sends seven female minors to youth detention centres
An Alexandria Misdemeanour Court slammed Wednesday 14 female Islamist protesters with 11 years and one month in jail and ordered that seven female minors be placed in a youth detention centre, the lawyer of the accused, Mahmoud Gaber, told Ahram Online.
The 21 female protesters who took part in a demonstration late October calling for the reinstatement of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi were arrested during clashes with local residents in the Alexandria. Authorities accused the demonstrators of inciting violence, blocking roads and damaging shop facades.
In its ruling Wednesday, the court slammed 14 female protesters with 11 years and one month in jail for destruction of private property, attacking security forces and stirring violence.
Six male protesters were sentenced in absentia to 15 years in jail for inciting violence.
The court also ordered that seven female minors be placed in a detention centre until they reach the age of majority. The underage girls' ages range from 15 to 17 years.
Earlier in November, a court sentenced 12 university students to 17 years in prison over riots at Al-Azhar Institution, stiring criticism over the harshness of the sentence.
The students were found guilty of attempting to storm the headquarters of the institution, inciting riots and attacking Al-Azhar employees and security personnel, as well as sabotaging public and private property. They were ordered to pay a fine of LE64,000 each.
Muslim Brotherhood supporters have been staging near daily protests calling for the reinstatement of Morsi who was deposed by the military 3 July amid mass protests against his rule.
Pro-Morsi protests chanting against the military have often descended into clashes with security forces and local residents with anti-Brotherhood sentiments.
Egypt's interim authorities have cracked down hard on Islamists since Morsi's ouster. Large numbers of Muslim Brotherhood members are detained on charges of inciting violence, including the group's top leaders.
Egyptian protesters being detained by the police. Women have been arrested and sentenced to prison., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Egyptian female detainees released in desert following downtown clashes: Activist
Ahram Online, Wednesday 27 Nov 2013
Salma Said, one of activists detained following clashes between police and demonstrators protesting against military trials, says she and other female detainees were freed in desert
Female activists who were arrested while protesting in Cairo’s downtown Tuesday were released several hours after clashes with security forces, only to find themselves in the desert, according to activist Salma Said.
Said, one of the prominent activists who were arrested while protesting against a constitutional article that allows military courts to try civilians, was one of tens who were captured by police forces in front of the Shura Council’s headquarters in downtown Cairo.
“We were thrown in the desert, our friends found us and we are all ok,” she tweeted, adding that their friends came to pick them up.
Police forces dispersed the protest 30 minutes after it commenced, using water cannons and teargas two days after a new controversial protest law was issued. Videos showed the police physically assaulting protesters.
The interior ministry justified the dispersal, saying the gathering broke a newly enforced protest law since the organisers did not notify authorities of their actions as the new legislation stipulates.
An earlier protest against the new anti-protest law was similarly dispersed on Tuesday. The demonstration was led by the Martyr Gaber Salah Movement, a group named after 16-year old activist Gaber Salah ("Jika"), who was killed in clashes with security forces in November 2012.
Hazem El-Beblawi, has been appointed interim prime minister by the Egyptian military in the aftermath of the coup. Others have refused to join the new regime., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Police tried to 'protect' protesters Tuesday: Egypt PM
Ahram Online, Wednesday 27 Nov 2013
Interim Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi says Egypt's police was trying to alert protesters on Tuesday to issue notification whilst protecting them
Interim PM Hazem El-Beblawi said Wednesday that Egypt's police had attempted to alert protesters to issue a notice for demonstrations whilst protecting them on Tuesday.
The Prime Minister expressed his regret at witnessing "protests to destroy the democratic path."
Tuesday protests were held in defiance of the newly implemented protest law, which was issued by Interim President Adly Mansour on Sunday.
Protesters did not apply for permission, and therefore were breaking the new law, which demands that any gathering of over ten people be announced and approved three days in advance.
Police dispersed hundreds of protesters outside the Shura Council using teargas and water cannons. Twenty-four activists are currently being detained for four days pending investigations, while female protesters, initially detained, were released alone in the desert.
The PM, speaking at a press conference at Cairo's Police Academy, defended the law, stating that it was made to protect and secure citizens' rights to freedom of expression.
The law underwent a civil consultation process; passing through the Egyptian National Council of Human Rights and then being subject to discussions in the Cabinet, which considered laws similar to the French and Italian versions, Beblawi added.
The PM said there's space for critique but not for defying the authorities. "There's no perfect law, but there are channels for talks and adjustments," he elaborated.
"The law provides safety to protesters, it's not a law of punishment," he continued, adding that, although freedom of expression is a human right, those who endanger the state should be punished.
The protest law has received criticism domestically and internationally.
Along with local calls for further protests defying the law, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights criticised it as "seriously flawed," urging the government to amend it.
Following the dispersal of Tuesday's protests, US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said the newly enacted law restricts freedoms.
"New law regulating peaceful protests in #Egypt simply doesn't meet intl standards," she tweeted on Tuesday. "Gov't must protect freedoms, and this law restricts them."
Egyptians clash with security forces in Cairo on July 15, 2013. Demonstrators expressed opposition to the military coup that displaced President Mohamed Morsi., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Tuesday's arrests reveal divisions in power: Analysts
Osman El Sharnoubi, Wednesday 27 Nov 2013
The new protest law has created a rift among the supporters of Egypt's current interim government
The Egyptian police tried for the first time on Tuesday to implement a controversial law on protests which was issued by the president earlier this week.
The result -- the arrest of dozens of protesters in downtown Cairo -- triggered a backlash from political groups and figures close to the government, showing a serious rift among supporters of the interim authorities for the first time since the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi this summer.
The arrests were met with instant condemnation from the major parties who have been supporting the authorities since July, when the army stepped in to remove Morsi after mass protests calling on him to step down.
Security forces have been cracking down on Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters in recent months, with hundreds of protesters killed or arrested during the dispersal of pro-Morsi demonstrations.
Many of the activists detained by police on Tuesday, however, were members of parties in power or allied with the government.
The new law gives the interior ministry the power to ban unauthorised public gatherings and imposes harsh penalties on violators.
Despite Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi -- a senior member of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party (ESDP) -- passing the law, his party opposed the legislation and declared that some of the detained activists were members of the party.
Party representatives has said the party will continue demonstrating against the law.
Leading member of the ESDP Ziad El-Eleimi told authorities on Tuesday that he had called for the protest without the interior ministry's permission, a move taken by him and other activists to challenge the law.
"There are disagreements within the ESDP itself and within the government about the law," political activist Mohamed Waked – who challenged the law along with El-Eleimi - told Ahram Online, saying that Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Bahaa El-Din, who is also deputy head of the ESDP, had long been opposed to the law.
Indeed, Bahaa El-Din had announced in October that political and rights groups he met with had said that a repressive protest law would not be publicly accepted and that it was best to wait until a parliament was elected to issue one.
Waked said that other people within the administration, such as presidential advisor Mostafa Hegazy, are defending the law.
He believes Hegazy represents a group in power that wants to use the law to suppress those opposed to its plans to seek power at the next elections.
Sources in the government told Ahram Online that a proposition is being discussed that the law be suspended until a wider discussion on it is carried out and a guarantee is given by the government that the law not be used to quell freedom of expression.
It is not clear whether this guarantee would include amending the law, but Minister of Higher Education Hossam Eissa, a former member of the liberal Constitution Party, said Wednesday that the law isn't as stringent as it is made to look by its opponents and that the government is insistent on implementing it.
Agreeing with Waked, political analyst Mohamed El-Agati said the law and Tuesday's events impacted current power alliances and brought some contradictions to light.
"The rejection of the law will show who in the government will respond to demands by democratic forces to withdraw it, and who is merely seeking power," he said.
He told Ahram Online that despite the government's National Council for Human Rights and its Committee to Protect the Democratic Path having opposed the law, it was passed anyway.
Emad Gad, a senior member of the ESDP, said that previous meetings with the government and rights groups and councils resulted in 16 recommended changes to the then-draft law, only one of which was adopted by the government.
Many figures and groups that had supported the current authorities came out strongly against the law and Tuesday’s arrests, such as leftist former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi, the Egyptian Popular Current movement he founded and the Tamarod (“Rebel”) movement which was at the forefront of the summer’s anti-Morsi protests.
Two major liberal and leftist parties who are allied with the government -- the Constitution Party and the leftist Socialist Popular Alliance Party -- demanded the release of the protesters detained on Tuesday and the withdrawal of the law.
To complicate matters further, the constitution-amending committee briefly halted its work after a number of members threatened to step down in objection to the arrest of the protesters. Committee member director Khaled Youssef described the decision to pass the law at the current time as "politically stupid."
The committee resumed work on Wednesday, despite member Diaa Rashwan saying the committee would suspend work until all arrested protesters were freed.
Twenty-four protesters remain in custody, although dozens of others were released late on Tuesday.
Ahmed Maher, of the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, has had an investigation dropped by the interior ministry of the North African state., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Egypt orders arrest of two symbols of anti-Mubarak revolt
By Yasmine Saleh
CAIRO (Reuters) - Two Egyptian pro-democracy campaigners renowned for their role in the popular uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak are to be arrested for inciting protests, a source in the prosecutor's office said on Wednesday.
The arrest orders for Ahmed Maher, head of the April 6 youth movement, and Alaa Abdel Fattah were issued a day after they joined demonstrations outside parliament in defiance of a law passed by the army-backed government on Sunday to curb protests.
Scuffles broke out on Wednesday between protesters and security forces in the northern port city of Alexandria during a demonstration against the new law and against the arrest of 24 activists on Tuesday, the state news agency MENA said.
Rocks were thrown back and forth and security forces used teargas to try and disperse the crowd, it said.
The 24 activists are to be detained for four days pending investigation of allegations of thuggery, attacking public employees, stealing wireless devices and protesting without permission from the Interior Ministry, said the source in the prosecutor's office.
Four women activists who had also been detained were released on a desert highway, said a security source.
Egypt has seen some of its worst civilian violence in decades since the army ousted a freely elected Islamist president, Mohamed Mursi, in July following mass protests against his rule. The military has introduced a political roadmap meant to lead to elections next year.
Mursi's supporters have staged frequent protests across Egypt, many of them after Friday prayers, since the army deposed him on July 3 in response to mass protests against his rule.
BLOW TO FREEDOM
The new law restricting protests has angered some Egyptians and drawn fire from human rights groups who describe it as a blow to freedom in the most populous Arab country.
Liberals and activists who backed Mursi's overthrow are now becoming more vocal against the military, which has pursued a tough security crackdown against Islamists, in which hundreds have been killed and more than 2,000 arrested, including Mursi.
An Alexandria court jailed 14 women for 11 years on Wednesday for obstructing traffic during a pro-Mursi protest that took place late last month, judiciary sources said. Seven others under the age of 18 were sent to a juvenile prison.
Some 17 clerics linked to the Brotherhood were arrested in the Nile Delta town of Gharbeia for using mosques and sermons to incite worshippers against the army and police, MENA said.
The public prosecutor also transferred to a court two people seen as pro-Mursi, lawyer Mahmoud el-Khodeiry and Ahmed Mansour, a presenter on al-Jazeera satellite channel.
They were accused of abducting and torturing a lawyer, MENA said.
Mohamed Fawaz, a member of the April 6 movement, told Reuters the new anti-protest law could lead to the "fall of the current regime" by igniting more unrest and public discontent.
"It is the Egyptian people's right since January 25 to protest and we are keen to maintain this right and fight for it until the last drop of blood," Fawaz said, referring to the date when the 18-day uprising that toppled Mubarak began in 2011.
Maher's April 6 movement and Abdel Fattah helped organize the vast demonstrations against Mubarak in Cairo's Tahrir Square and elsewhere.
'BATTLES AGAINST TERRORISM'
The government has shown no signs of caving in to growing pressure to scrap the anti-protest law.
Deputy Prime Minister Hossam Eissa said the cabinet was "committed to implementing the protest law strictly", while at the same time respecting freedom of expression.
"The Egyptian army is waging battles against terrorism, and some factions are trying to tamper with the status of the state and prevent it from observing its duties," he said.
Islamist militants based in the unruly Sinai Peninsula have stepped up attacks on security forces since Mursi was ousted. The Brotherhood denies any link to the militants, but the authorities lump them together as terrorists.
The government has said it is not opposed to peaceful protests and it wants to restore order in Egypt, which has a peace treaty with Israel and is home to the Suez Canal.
The law will further squeeze the Brotherhood, which had hoped mass protests would reverse what it calls a military coup.
The restrictions have set off a public debate in Egypt, where demonstrations brought down Mubarak and encouraged army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to remove Mursi.
"This law is bad and the minister of interior has done enough and should change," said an engineer calling in to a discussion of the topic on state radio.
"Our penal law had many articles that they (the authorities) could have used to ban violent protests but instead they issued a new law that only brought us more protests and tension, a very stupid call."
The next person to dial in, a police officer, said: "What do people want? We either implement the law or not."
(Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Alistair Lyon)
Egyptian student rebellion at Al-Azhar University on October 20, 2013. The students were protesting against the military coup of July 3., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Egypt: 21 Women Received 11 Years in Prison
CAIRO November 26, 2013
By MAGGIE MICHAEL Associated Press
An Egyptian court has handed down heavy sentences of 11 years in prison to 21 female supporters of the ousted Islamist president, many of them juveniles, for holding a protest.
The court in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria issued the ruling Wednesday, weeks after the women were arrested during a protest demanding the reinstatement of Mohammed Morsi, ousted in a July 3 coup.
They were convicted on multiple charges, including holding a demonstration, sabotage and using force. Seven of them are under 18 years of age.
The court also sentenced six members of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood to 15 years in prison in absentia for inciting the protest.
The verdict comes as security forces have cracked on small protests by secular activists, implementing a new law putting heavy restrictions on protests.
Republic of Angola President Jose Eduardo dos Santos. The southern African state has changed its constitution to have the president elected by parliament as opposed to a direct vote. The oil-rich nation is the largest exporter of oil on the continent., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Angola denies banning Islam
November 27, 2013 International
MUSLIMLUANDA. — Angola’s government yesterday denied it had banned Islam and closed mosques in the country, after speculation that sparked outrage among Muslims worldwide. “There is no war in Angola against Islam or any other religion,” said Manuel Fernando, director of the National Institute for Religious Affairs, part of the ministry of culture.
“There is no official position that targets the destruction or closure of places of worship, whichever they are,” Fernando told AFP.
Reports that Angola, a traditionally devout Catholic nation, would crack down on Muslims had drawn condemnation from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and others.
In Egypt, mufti Shawqi Allam said such a move would be “a provocation not only to Angolan Muslims but to more than 1,5 billion Muslims all over the world”.
The oil-rich southern African nation has a population of about 18 million people, several hundred thousand of whom are Muslim.
Religious organisations are required to apply for accreditation in Angola, which currently recognises 83, all of them Christian.
In October the justice ministry rejected the applications of 194 organisations, including one from the Islamic community.
David Ja, a spokesman for local Muslims, challenged the government’s account and said that a number of mosques had already been closed.
Ja condemned what he described as “political persecution” and “religious intolerance.”
“A mosque was closed last week in Huambo (in the south) and we have been subjected to pressure this week regarding a mosque in Luanda,” he said.
According to the ministry of culture these closures were related to a lack of necessary land titles, building licenses or other official documents.
Brazil President Dilma Rousseff said that demonstrations should not be ignored in the South American state. The country is stronger because of the protests she said., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Violence against women blights Brazil, says president
November 27, 2013 International
RIO DE JANEIRO. — Sexism and violence against women bring “shame” to the Brazilian society, President Dilma Rousseff said Monday.
Marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Rousseff, Brazil’s first female president, said via Twitter that the Brazilian society continues to be “sexist and full of prejudice.” Ending violence against women is necessary for creating a fairer, more equal society, she said. The president highlighted some of her administration’s measures to help battered women.
A major programme is to create a network of women’s shelters, called Women’s Houses, which provide several necessary services in a single place, such as police specialised in domestic violence, a public defender’s office, psychological support, job placement and others, so victims don’t have to go to all the different authorities.
President Rousseff also stressed the importance of Brazil’s so-called Maria da Penha Law, a comprehensive domestic violence law named after a victim whose case has become widely known. November 25 is valued in many countries and was established by the United Nations in honour of the Mirabal sisters, three political activists in the Dominican Republic who were murdered in 1960.
Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the new African Union Commission Chair. Dlamini-Zuma attended the recent Southern African Development Community summit in Mozambique., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma arrives in Brussels
November 27, 2013 International
ADDIS ABABA. — The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma arrived in Brussels, Belgium yesterday to attend the Annual Summit of Women in Parliament Global Forum (WIP). Hosted by the European Parliament, the summit is being held under the theme, “The Spirit of Women in Parliaments: Advancing Society,” from 27-29 November 2013.
Critical issues to feature in the summit include: reshaping society through female leadership; female empowerment for peace, security and integrity; impact of elected women in parliaments; fight against corruption; delivering on gender equality; gender studies in academics; and the use of technology and women’s political participation.
Dr Dlamini-Zuma, who is also a WIP Advisory Board Member, will deliver one of the keynote addresses, as well as participate, as a panelist in one of the interactive sessions discussing: “Reshaping Society through Female Leadership”.
During the summit, countries will receive awards for their leadership in bridging the gender gap. Three African will be among the recipients.
Rwanda will receive the award in the category of political empowerment, with a record number of women in parliament; Lesotho features in the category for closing the gender gap, while Algeria will receive the award for its achievements in increasing the percentage of women in parliamentary positions.