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Updated: 47 min 57 sec ago

Lawsuit Filed Surrounding the Police Investigation of Whitney Houston's Death

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 03:20

One of the last photographs of pop icon Whitney Houston who died on February 11, 2012. This photo was taken in Hollywood after a party where Kelly Price and her performed on stage., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

Cop: I Was Demoted for Reporting Ogling of Whitney Houston's Body

BY ANDREW BLANKSTEIN

A former police SWAT team supervisor filed suit Monday against the city of Beverly Hills and its police department, alleging he was removed from his position for reporting that a fellow officer disturbed the scene of Whitney Houston’s death in 2012.

As NBC News reported exclusively in September, when a preliminary claim was filed, Officer Brian Weir’s lawsuit alleges that then-Det. Sgt. Terry Nutall lifted the sheet covering the dead pop superstar’s naked body and commented, “Damn, she’s still looking good, huh?”

Houston was found dead in her room at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills on Feb. 11, 2012. The Los Angeles County Coroner determined that she died of accidental drowning, with cocaine use and heart disease as contributing factors. She was 48.

Weir’s lawsuit alleges that as the senior patrol sergeant on duty, he “attempted to secure and preserve the scene of the death” and had placed a sheet over Houston's body to “prevent contamination” before Nutall arrived and removed it “to an area below the pubic region.”

Weir alleges he was removed from his position as head of the department’s SWAT team after reporting the alleged misconduct.

The suit, filed on his behalf by attorney Christopher Brizzolara, seeks unspecified damages for pain and suffering and loss of special unit pay.

Nutall, who has since been promoted to lieutenant, could not be reached by NBC News for comment.

The Beverly Hills City Attorney’s Office and city police officials said they had not seen the suit and could not immediately comment.

But police spokesman Lt. Lincoln Hoshino said last year disputed the claim's characterizations to NBC News.

He said Nutall was near the Houston death scene and was the detective division sergeant on duty, which meant it was appropriate for him to respond. (Nutall has since been promoted to lieutenant.)

“He would be expected to respond to that type of incident and his supervisor was fully aware that he went to the scene,” Hoshino said at the time. As for Nutall’s alleged comments about Houston’s body, Hoshino said that the department was not aware of “any inappropriate behavior or any inappropriate comments. We stand behind the investigation 100 percent, including the conclusion from the coroner’s office.”

At the time of her death, Houston was in Los Angeles preparing to attend a pre-Grammy party thrown by her mentor, producer Clive Davis. The singer’s personal assistant left to pick up items at Neiman Marcus, then returned to the hotel room at 3:36 p.m. and found Houston face down in the bathtub and unresponsive, according to the coroner’s report.

First published March 10th 2014, 10:38 pm.

Detroit Demonstration Planned Against Bankers' "Plan of Adjustment" on April 1

Mon, 03/10/2014 - 02:30

Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, in front of the federal courthouse in Detroit during the first day of the bankruptcy trial. (Photo: Valerie Jean), a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.Event: Demonstration Against the Bankers' Plan of Adjustment
Date: Tues. April 1, 2014, 10:00 a.m.
Location: Federal Courthouse at 231 W. Lafayette, Downtown
Initiators: Moratorium NOW! Coalition, STOPC
URL: http://moratorium-mi.org/
Contact: 313-680-5508 or 671-3715

Orr and Snyder's Plan of Adjustment Is a Death Sentence for Retirees and Workers of Detroit; Join the Demonstrations Outside the Federal Courthouse April 1; File a Legal Objection to the Plan of Adjustment by April 1; Attend Our Monday Night Weekly Planning Meeting to Fight Back Against the Bankers Behind This Plan!

We are calling on all City of Detroit retirees, current City employees, residents and all other concerned people to build and participate in a mass demonstration outside the Federal Courthouse in Detroit on Tues. April 1 beginning at 10:00 a.m. The state-imposed emergency manager Kevyn Orr has a "Plan of Adjustment" that will loot the pension funds, lay-off City workers and liquidate public assets to pay off the bankers.

Within this corporate-engineered plan 90 percent of the bank debt said to be falsely owed by the City of Detroit will be paid. Only a small portion of lenders will have their claims reduced by the plan.

Meanwhile Orr and Snyder are still scheming to pay $85 million to Bank of America and UBS despite Judge Rhodes' contention that legal action against these financial institutions is warranted. We oppose paying any more money to Bank of America and UBS for this fraudulent interest-rate swap deal which has already cost tax payers $300 million.

We have no other choice but to fight or starve. 23,000 pensioners and their families have had their health insurance cancelled and are facing at least a 34 percent cut in their monthly checks. These measures will inevitably result in mass deaths of retirees who have spent decades serving the City of Detroit.

According to Orr's plan, the City of Detroit will make no contributions to the pension funds for a decade. The much championed contributions from charitable foundations are not guaranteed. Meanwhile the City of Detroit is slated to undergo massive dislocation and privatization of public services.

The Detroit Water and Sewage Department (DWSD) will face massive lay-offs in light of yet another bogus interest-rate swap deal that has saddled the revenue-generating entity $500 million in debt obligations that should be eliminated by the courts. Billions of dollars in federal settlement monies from the banks and tobacco industry remain in Lansing slated to be utilized for further privatization and the bulldozing of even more areas within the city.

Only a mass movement will stop this state-sponsored terrorist conspiracy. Civil and workers rights were affirmed by the courts only after the mass struggles forced them to do so. Lawyers in the courts need the support of the thousands of people in the streets.

Please join the Moratorium NOW! Coalition and Stop the Theft of Our Pensions Committee (STOPC) weekly meetings every Monday at 7:00 p.m. located at 5920 Second Ave. at Antoinette in Midtown. If your organization wants to join this effort as a co-sponsor or endorser please contact us at the numbers and addresses above.

At our March 17 meeting we will explain how people can file legal objections to this plan. We have forms available and attorneys that can assist everyone with the process.

On March 10 at our weekly meeting we will further plan our outreach strategy which began at the mass Emergency Town Hall Meeting on March 2 at Central United Methodist Church. We must organize block by block and neighborhood by neighborhood to stop these criminal actions by the banks and their agents in government.

DPRK Parliamentary Elections Kicks Off

Mon, 03/10/2014 - 02:23

Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) leader Kim Jung-Un during the celebrations surrounding the 100th birthday of the late founder of the state and the Korean Worker's Party, Kim Il Sung. The event took place on April 14, 2012., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

DPRK parliamentary election kicks off

March 10, 2014

PYONGYANG. — Parliamentary elections started yesterday morning throughout the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to choose members of the top legislature in the country. Eligible voters went to poll stations in different electoral districts to cast their votes for members of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), who will serve a five-year term in accordance with the DPRK constitution.

The voting was expected to last nine hours. Wearing traditional dresses or suits, people gathered at electoral districts in Pyongyang, dancing and singing in festive mood.

DPRK’s top leader Kim Jong Un had registered at Constituency No. 111 as a candidate in the election.

It is the first election for the SPA under the leadership of Kim Jong Un, who took power in December 2011 following the death of his father Kim Jong Il.

The current deputies of the SPA, the highest organ of state power, were elected in March 2009.

The SPA has the power to adopt, amend or supplement enactments to the constitution, determine state policy and budgets, and adjust the country’s leadership.

— Xinhua.

Angola Seeks to Boost Agricultural Productivity

Mon, 03/10/2014 - 02:19

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 seeks to boost agricultural productivity

March 10, 2014

LUANDA. — Oil-rich Angola aims to roll out measures to boost productivity in its agriculture sector and curb its dependence on food imports, but there are concerns price hikes will harm the poor. New import duties for selected products including fruits, vegetables, eggs and drinks are set to enter into force in March.

The government hopes that the new levies will discourage imports and prod domestic industries to diversify from oil.

Before its independence in 1975, Angola was an agricultural powerhouse known for its coffee and rubber production.

But nearly three decades of civil war that left vast tracts of land littered with landmines robbed the country of its farming prowess.
It left Angola heavily reliant on food imports, which account for 90 percent total food consumed.

In the first nine months of last year, Angola spent over US$3,6 billion on imported food and drinks alone, according to the trade ministry.

Authorities now want to lessen that dependence and encourage local production, which will hopefully eventually lower food costs in the country where two thirds of the population live on less than two dollars a day, despite the country’s oil wealth.

However, importers fear the new customs duties will push up the cost of some imported goods by a third, as well as the inflation rate which currently stands at 7.8 percent.

“This will lead to an increase in import costs of between 5 percent and 35 percent, which will have an impact on prices in general,” said Federico Crespo, who operates an Angolan import firm Oxbow.

The dependence on imported goods is one of the reasons why Angola’s capital Luanda is ranked among the most expensive cities in the world.

However, one local business association appears to back the new import duties and suggests that if there are any increases in consumer prices, they won’t last long.

“This is because local entrepreneurs will invest and produce to meet the demand,” said Jose Severino, president of the Association of Angolan Industrialists.

In imposing the new duties, Angolan authorities say they are not aiming at a blanket ban on imports but want to “gradually replace” them with local produce and “develop our productive capacity”, said Adriano Martins, director of the foreign trade ministry.

— AFP.

'Walk the Talk on Gender Equality'

Mon, 03/10/2014 - 02:14

Oppah Muchingura is the Republic of Zimbabwe Minister for Women's Affairs. She is involved in a national campaign against gender-based violence., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

‘Walk the talk on gender equality’

March 10, 2014
Herald reporter

Public and private institutions and organisations have been urged to adopt Government’s policy of 50-50 representation of women and men in their boards.

Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development Minister Oppah Muchinguri said this in her International Women’s Day message on Saturday.

“We are happy that the new constitution provides for the establishment of Gender Commission which will work as a watchdog in ensuring that all State institutions abide with gender equality provisions.

“I would like to urge Zimbabwean women to use the new Constitution as a lobbying tool to penetrate key economic sectors such as mining, tourism, and agriculture.

“This is already enunciated in the economic blueprint Zim-Asset and the Broad-Based Women’s Empowerment Framework,” she said.

Minister Muchinguri said there was need to celebrate the criminalisation of gender-based violence in the new Constitution, while calling for stiffer penalties for rapists.

“We should continue lobbying for deterrent sentences for rape and stiffer penalties for other forms of gender based violence.

“Specifically Section 25(b) of the Constitution obliges the State to adopt measures for the prevention of domestic violence.

“With regards to education, the State has been mandated by Section 27(2) to take measures to ensure that girls are afforded the same opportunities as boys at all levels of education,” Minister Muchinguri said.

The Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development has partnered with civil society to ensure women make a meaningful contribution to the realignment processes.

Zimbabwe Farmers Call for Recapitalization of the Grain Marketing Board

Mon, 03/10/2014 - 02:12

A Chisumbanje farmer in Zimbabwe. The area is undergoing a green revolution through irrigation schemes to combat drought., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

Recapitalise GMB: Farmers

March 10, 2014
Agriculture Reporter
Zimbabwe Herald

Government must recapitalise the Grain Marketing Board to ensure an attractive producer price is paid to farmers on time during the 2014 grain marketing season, which starts in April.

This follows announcements by farmers’ organisations that they are expecting high maize yields this season.

Farmers have said the high yields will be put to waste if the GMB does not have capacity to buy and pay farmers instantly.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Mr Wonder Chabikwa last week said the major incentive for farmers to produce food crops was instant payment.

He said GMB had a good price of US$378 per tonne but its failure to pay on time was forcing many farmers to switch to crops like tobacco.

“GMB should be able to absorb the grains produced by farmers. Private buyers will only take advantage of farmers and offer unviable prices. Many cash buyers are offering prices below US$250 per tonne.

“GMB should also be in a position to buy small grains to promote production,” said Mr Chabikwa.

Zimbabwe Indigenous Women Farmers’ Association Trust president Mrs Depinah Nkomo said GMB should source funds now instead of waiting for the marketing season.

“Farmers should be able to buy inputs for the following season after selling their maize. But this has not been the situation as the GMB takes several months before paying farmers,” she said.

Agriculture economist Mr Midway Bhunu said Government and the private sector could partner to revamp the parastatal.

“What farmers want is a good price that is paid instantly. Commodity brokers will reap off farmers.

“Government and millers can come up with grain bills to mobilise funds to buy grain from farmers. GMB has vast infrastructure which will also benefit the private sector in case of a partnership,” he said.

The GMB is funded by Treasury. Its commercial operations are failing and is solely reliant on State funding.

Egyptian Protesters Mark 100 Days of Detention for Leading Activist

Mon, 03/10/2014 - 02:06

Unrest continues in Egypt in the aftermath of the July 3, 2013 military coup. Photo from December 27 where tires were being burned., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

Protesters mark 100 days of activist Abdel-Fattah's detention

Passant Darwish, Sunday 9 Mar 2014

Prominent secular activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah has been detained since November 2013 on charges of organising an unauthorised protest

Dozens of activists, relatives and friends of Alaa Abdel-Fattah have gathered at Cairo's High Court to demand his release.

The prominent activist has been detained for 100 days as of Sunday, but his trial date is yet to be set.

He was detained for organising an unauthorised protest against military trials of civilians.

Protesters also demand the release of Ahmed Abdel-Rahman, who has been detained on the same charges for 102 days, and all other political detainees.

The protest was disrupted by people chanting "traitors, traitors," "Egypt is more important" and "El-Sisi is my president," referring to army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

Abdel-Fattah's relatives and human rights lawyerspresented a complaint against the public prosecutor to the Supreme Council of the Judiciary.

"The public prosecutor is ignoring serious complaints [about the detention of Abdel-Fattah and others]. He is being the voice of the state instead of the people," Mona Seif, Abdel-Fattah's sister, told Ahram Online.

Seif said everyone arrested during the military trials protest on 26 November had been released pending trial, except Abdel-Fattah and Abdel-Rahman.

Detainees are usually held for a set period of time, then taken to a judge who decides if they will be held until their trial.

Abdel-Fattah has had his detention period officially extended twice, but since then has remained in jail without seeing a judge or having his trial date set, Seif said.

The family is shocked that such a practice is permitted by Egyptian law, she added.

A founding member of No to Military Trials of Civilians, Seif said some women in the group had told prosecutors they organised the protest, but Abdel-Fattah was still being detained.

Abdel-Fattah's aunt, the novelist Ahdaf Soueif, released a statement on Sunday saying his continued detention was political.

"Alaa is in prison because he is Alaa," the statement read.

Abdel-Fattah was arrested at his home on 28 November, two days after the protest.

In January, he received a suspended one-year jail sentence in a separate case on charges of torching the campaign headquarters of Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister Ahmed Shafiq.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/96257.aspx

Egyptian Health Ministry, Doctors Differ on Strike Participation Figures

Mon, 03/10/2014 - 01:57

Doctors have gone on strike in Egypt. The nation is still experiencing unrest three years after the fall of Mubarak., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

Health ministry, doctors differ on strike participation figures

Ahram Online, Sunday 9 Mar 2014

A new strike by doctors employed in government hospitals has participation levels of 31 percent, according to the health ministry

The health ministry and the committee regulating an ongoing strike by medical professionals who work in the public sector have issued different figures on participation levels on Saturday, the first day of the strike.

A statement issued by the ministry on Sunday said that the number of protesting doctors did not exceed 31 percent, adding that around 353 hospitasl refused to join the 160 protesting hospitals.

The committee organising the strike has announced during a press conference on Saturday that 80 percent of doctors working at health ministry hospitals joined the strike.

Dentists, pharmacists and veterinarians employed in public facilities are also taking part in the strike.

The strikers are demanding an increase in basic salaries in place of a presidential decree in February which increased monthly bonuses but not basic pay.

They also demand the implementation of financial and administrative changes approved in May 2012 by the general assembly of the Doctors Syndicate, which included reform of payscales and promotions.

Egyptian doctors have taken part in a number of partial strikes since the 2011 uprising that toppled long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

As of 1 January 2014, doctors have been staging bi-weekly strikes to demand higher salaries and increased government investment in healthcare services. Starting on 8 March, healthcare professionals launched a partial open ended strike.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/96266.aspx

Egyptian Police Fire Teargas During Student Demonstration at Cairo University

Mon, 03/10/2014 - 01:52

Egyptian students burn media bus during protests on March 9, 2014. Thousands have been killed and imprisoned by the military regime since July 3, 2013., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

Police fire teargas at pro-Morsi students at Cairo University

Ahram Online, Sunday 9 Mar 2014

Students are protesting a court order which allows police on campus

Police fired teargas at a student protest organised by a pro-Mohamed Morsi grouping at Cairo University on Sunday.

The teargas was reportedly fired after a vehicle owned by TV channel CBC was torched. Like much of the Egyptian private and state media, CBC has taken a strongly anti-Morsi line in its coverage of Egyptian politics.

According to local human rights NGO the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, student marches left from the faculties of law, science and commerce and then headed outside the university’s main gates at the same moment that the CBC vehicle was being torched by another group of protesters.

According to the NGO, the protesting students retreated onto campus after the police fired teargas, declaring the end of the protest.

In response the police too withdrew, according to Al-Ahram Arabic news website.

Sunday’s protest, which takes place on the second day of the delayed spring term, was called for by the pro-Morsi Students Against the Coup group, in protest at a recent court verdict that allows police to return to university campuses.

While security forces regularly entered campuses last term to face demonstrators, especially after a government decision allowing university heads to call in police when needed, the permanent presence of government security on campuses was removed after the 2011 revolution, when a 2010 court order banning police from universities was implemented.

The police presence had become associated with political interference in student and faculty affairs.

On Sunday, Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim said that security forces would remain off campus unless violence or disruption to academic procedures occur.

The on-campus violence, along with a recent spike in cases of swine flu in Egypt, led to the postponement of the spring term several times. The term commenced on Saturday, two weeks after its original start date.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/96270.aspx

NAPO-MXGM and NCBL Statements on the Transition of Comrade Chokwe Lumumba to the Ancestors

Sun, 03/09/2014 - 22:58

Atty. Chokwe Lumumba being sworn in as the mayor of the majority African American city of Jackson, Mississippi. He only served a few months before dying on Feb. 25, 2014., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

NAPO MXGM statement on the transition of Comrade Chokwe Lumumba to the Ancestors

Posted on Mar 5, 2014

The New Afrikan Peoples Organization (NAPO) and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) salutes the life of our Comrade, Brother, and Co-founder Baba Chokwe Lumumba.

On February 25 2014, our Comrade Chokwe made his transition to the ancestral realm. He was born in Detroit, Michigan to Lucien and Priscilla Taliaferro, working class parents who gave him a sense of spirituality, morality and service.

As a young man, Chokwe exhibited his destiny as a leader. The Black Power movement of the 1960s and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. propelled Chokwe to become a revolutionary.

He embraced the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika (PGRNA) in 1969.

He would eventually serve as Minister of Justice and Midwest Regional Vice President of the PGRNA.

Along with other New Afrikan revolutionary nationalists from the PGRNA, House of Umoja, and Afrikan People’s Party; Baba Chokwe founded a revolutionary national liberation organization NAPO in 1984. He became the Chairman and primary spokesperson of NAPO for 29 years.

Subsequently, NAPO founded MXGM as its mass association in 1990.

Baba Chokwe Lumumba’s work as an attorney is well known. He has focused his legal practice defending “the least of these”-poor and oppressed people. He was the legal advocate for political prisoners like Assata Shakur, Dr. Mutulu Shakur, Sekou Odinga, the Pontiac Brothers, Hayward Brown, and the son of the movement, Tupac Shakur.

Some of his finest legal work was winning the release of the Scott Sisters, two young Black women convicted and sentenced to double-life sentences for an $11 armed robbery. As an attorney, Chokwe also fought in the courts for Black workers versus avaricious firms, Black communities versus police misconduct, and members of the indigenous Choctaw nation versus a corrupt tribal council.

As a student of New Afrikan Political Science, he also studied international law and applied it to his defense of political prisoners and prisoners of war. Baba Chokwe partnered with his political father, Imari Obadele, and comrades in the PGRNA, the National Conference of Black Lawyers, and NAPO to advance Queen Mother Moore’s call for Reparations for the descendants of enslaved Afrikans in the United States. This effort led to the formation of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (NCOBRA).

Baba Chokwe also participated as a soldier in the defense forces of the New Afrikan Independence Movement. He believed all New Afrikans should be ready to defend their lives, families, community, and our Movement. Chokwe was a member of the New Afrikan Security Forces of the PGRNA and achieved the rank of Captain in the New Afrikan Security Union of NAPO in 1984.

Chokwe and his family relocated from Detroit in 1988 to establish NAPO in Mississippi. MXGM encouraged Baba Chokwe to run for Jackson City Council in 2009 as part of our Jackson-Kush Plan to win self-determination, participatory democracy, and economic justice in Black majority counties in Mississippi.

A People’s Assembly was formed in his ward as part of the Jackson-Kush Plan and to promote and practice participatory democracy. Comrade Chokwe winning the runoff by 63% of the vote was a testament to his decades of activism and advocacy of the people of Jackson.

The same formula was employed to organize Chokwe’s campaign for Mayor. Chokwe’s charisma, history of activism, serving the people, and the vision of the Jackson Kush Plan motivated the organization of grassroots communities throughout the city of Jackson.

Solidarity from progressive forces around the United States also provided the basis of Baba Chokwe’s mayoral victory. The Jackson chapter of MXGM and NAPO were the heart of his campaign staff in his campaigns for City Council and Mayor.

Chokwe Lumumba was one of the finest sons of our people. Chokwe Lumumba was motivated by his vision of a liberated New Afrika and a New World. He loved our people and was loved by them.

He loved coaching and mentoring the youth of Mississippi and Louisiana on his Jackson Panther Amateur Athletic Union Basketball program. Baba Chokwe was generous with his time and money to support the movement and support individuals.

Baba Chokwe was a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and cousin. As Chairman of NAPO, he began his addresses stating, “on behalf of the women, men, and children of the New Afrikan People’s Organization.” Baba Chokwe’s household exemplified this salutation. His late-wife and soul mate Nubia and his children Kambonmutope, Rukiya, and Chokwe Antar were and are valued participants in our organization and liberation struggle.

He also embraced his comrades and their households as family. One of his strengths as an organizer was the love his family showed for him and the movement. He will always be an exemplary New Afrikan.

Chokwe Lumumba’s name will always be mentioned as one of the finest revolutionaries and freedom fighters of our time and our history. He possessed a revolutionary character.

Baba Chokwe listened to and embraced criticism of his comrades and grassroots people. He studied and read, was a proud revolutionary New Afrikan nationalist/ internationalist and socialist, but was not dogmatic or doctrinaire.

He was creative and willing to incorporate new ideas. Baba Chokwe was principled and committed to the last second of his life to our liberation and will be an inspirational force for our liberation as an Ancestor. Baba Chokwe Lumumba will forever live through our work to free the people and free the land!!!

Long Live the Spirit of Chokwe Lumumba
Free the Land!!!
New Afrikan Peoples Organization
Malcolm X Grassroots Movement


Chokwe Lumumba: A Legal Biography

Posted March 3, 2014
By the National Conference of Black Lawyers

Longstanding NCBL member, Chokwe Lumumba, made his transition on February 25, 2014 in Jackson, Mississippi. Lumumba joined the National Conference of Black Lawyers when he was a student at Wayne State University Law School in 1970, and he remained an active and dedicated member until his passing. In 2006 Lumumba received NCBL’s highest recognition, Lawyer of the Year. He was honored once again by his NCBL colleagues in October 2013, in his hometown of Detroit, where were gathered his family and long-time legal community.

Chokwe Lumumba became deeply committed to the cause of black liberation as a young student at Kalamazoo College, where, in 1969, he was a key organizer in forming the Black United Front. After graduation he enrolled at Wayne State University Law School and while still a student, at the age of 24, was elected to the cabinet of the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Africa (“RNA”) as its Second Vice President. The RNA described itself as “an African nation in the Western hemisphere struggling for complete independence.” Young Lumumba took the oath of the RNA : “For the fruition of Black Power, for the triumph of the Black Nation, I pledge to the Republic of New Africa and to the building of a better people and a better world, my total devotion, my total resources, and the total power of my mortal life.” He was a part of the leadership when the RNA moved the capital of its provisional government to Hinds County, Mississippi in 1971. His first case, while he was still a law student, involved serving as an advisor to members of the RNA who, in August 1971, were arrested in Jackson after being attacked by state and federal officers who raided their headquarters and seized scores of documents and weapons. After the ensuing gun battle, in which a local police officer died, the RNA members were charged with treason and murder, and Lumumba, then the mid-west Vice President of the RNA, became the spokesperson for the defendants and assisted NCBL lawyer John Brittain in their representation. Eleven of the accused received life sentences; the leader of the RNA, Imari Obadeli, was released in 1980 – a result of massive protests – and resumed his leadership. Lumumba became the Minister of Justice for the Republic of New Africa. In that capacity, in August 1973, Lumumba attended the National Black Political Assembly, chaired by Imamu Amiri Baraka and held in Greenville, Mississippi. Lumumba warned the assembly that the United States government, together with the state of Mississippi, was attempting to destroy the PGRNA.

Lumumba returned to his native Detroit from Jackson to continue his legal education, graduating at the top of his class from Wayne State University Law School in 1975. There he created the Malcolm X Center and worked with the Detroit Public Defenders Office. Upon graduation, with NCBL member Jeffrey Edison, he formed a law firm dedicated to representing the black community and black revolutionaries in particular. In 1978, its first year of operation, the firm, which would come to be known as Edison, Davis and Lumumba, successfully defended some of the Pontiac Brothers – sixteen prisoners who were charged with murder in connection with a riot at Pontiac Correctional Center in Illinois.

Lumumba was also deeply engaged in the black liberation movement in New York. In November 1979 he gave an address at the United Nations on behalf of NCBL at Black Solidarity Day, sponsored by the National Coalition for Black Human Rights. In May 1981, he, along with Afeni Shakur and Reverend Herbert Daughtry spoke at a birthday tribute to Malcolm X. Lumumba reminded the gathering that scores of blacks had been killed that past year by police, and that the fight for “black self-determination, land, and independence” should never be abandoned.

That year, Lumumba took on the case of Fulani Sunni-Ali, the Minister of Information of the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Africa and a member of the Black Liberation Army, who was charged with participating in the 1981 Brinks robbery in Rockland County, New York. Lumumba, co-counseling with William Kuntsler, was initially prevented from representing Sunni-Ali when the New York U.S. Attorney, John Martin, Jr., labeled Lumumba a security risk because of his association with the Republic of New Africa, and moved to bar him from practice in New York State. The federal judge agreed, claiming that Lumumba was a member of a “terrorist organization” and citing the lawyer’s statement that “we must take our land and win our independence ultimately by force.” NCBL successfully fought for Lumumba’s right of representation. Even the New York Times condemned Martin’s action, editorializing on November 15, 1981, that:

[Chokwe Lumumba] is a lawyer duly licensed in Detroit, but to Mr. Martin, his revolutionary rhetoric rendered him unfit for temporary admission to New York’s courts. But now he has changed his position. . . Where were the leaders of the bar while all this was going on? If a Wall Street lawyer had been similarly shut out of a courtroom the Association of the Bar of the City of New York would have flown to support a client’s – and her lawyer’s – rights. In this case the lions of the bar were nowhere visible.

After demonstrations and persistent protest by NCBL and other organizations, the US Attorney dropped his opposition, and Lumumba entered the case and provided excellent representation. After being incarcerated for a year and a half for refusing to testify before a grand jury, Sunni-Ali was released. Lumumba also represented Solomon Bouines (Samuel Brown) in connection with the 1981 Brinks case, and, in a Queens court, Nathanial Burns, who was charged with attempted murder stemming from a shootout three days after the Brinks robbery.

In 1983 Lumumba successfully defended Bilal Sunni-Ali in a five-month trial, also arising from the 1981 Brinks robbery. Lumumba, who co-counseled the case with Lynne Stewart, put his defense clearly in his opening statement, telling the jurors that “the wrong people are on trial here. . . [the prosecutors and federal agents] ought to be the defendants in this case.” He identified his client as a citizen of the Republic of New Africa, and referred to the jurors as “brothers and sisters.” He reiterated the political nature of the proceedings in his masterful cross-examination of the government’s informant. And in his deeply political summation, he included a Gil Scott Heron song.

As a result of his aggressive – and successful – representation in that case, Lumumba was twice cited for contempt, first when he insisted that the jury panel was unconstitutionally selected, and second when, outside the presence of the jury, he challenged the prosecutorial bias of the judge’s rulings. Lumumba proclaimed, on behalf of his client, “I would like some kind of ruling on why you won’t let me do what you let them do and then have the audacity to sit on the bench and claim you are fair.”

Because of ongoing biased treatment, Lumumba condemned the judge as an “outstanding bigot” and a “racist dog.” He was summarily convicted of criminal contempt and thereafter sentenced to three years probation and 350 hours of community service. At his sentencing on the contempt charge, Lumumba once again asserted that the American system of justice was “dishonest” and “racist,” and that it would “self-destruct.” In 1984 the conviction was overturned and the sentence vacated in the Second Circuit, where Lumumba was represented by his former law partner, Anthony Adams. Margaret Burnham appeared on behalf of NCBL in the case, United States v. Lumumba, 741 F.2d. 12 (1984). On remand, a federal trial judge conducted an inquiry into the facts and reinstated the earlier sentence, which Lumumba ultimately served. United States v. Lumumba, 603 F. Supp 913 (1985).

After completing his representation of Sunni-Ali in the Brinks matter, Lumumba represented Mutulu Shakur, who, along with co-defendant Marilyn Buck, was charged with murder and other crimes related to the same 1981 Brinks robbery. Shakur was also charged with taking part in the prison escape of Assata Shakur. Mutulu Shakur was captured in 1986; at the time he was leading the National Task Force for COINTELPRO Litigation and Research. Shakur maintained that he was a prisoner of war; as such, Lumumba sought pre-trial dismissal of the charges, claiming the acts charged against Shakur were not criminal offenses but acts of war and resistance to genocidal oppression. In a groundbreaking argument, Lumumba asserted, “The acts were committed in furtherance of the New Afrikan National liberation struggle in America,” and in pursuit of the objective of independence of the New Afrikan Nation from the United States.” He claimed Shakur was implicated because of his “anti-colonial” activism, and he sought for Shakur the international protection afforded prisoners of war combating racist political regimes under Protocol 1 of the 1949 Geneva Convention, which had at that time been signed but not ratified by the United States. The Protocol classified “national liberation wars” as international conflicts, and afforded participants in such wars the same rights and protections as other soldiers. A national liberation war was defined as “any armed conflict” against a “colonial, racist or alien regime.” Lumumba argued his client was covered by the Protocol, and the judge referred to the State Department the question whether the activities charged as a criminal enterprise against the defendants should be deemed an insurgency within the meaning of Protocol 1. The State Department responded that it did not recognize the Protocol, nor consider itself a party to a conflict with New Afrikan guerrillas.

Lumumba offered a riveting summation at the end of Shakur’s trial, at once ripping apart the testimony of the government’s star witness, who had turned state’s evidence, and defending his client as a revolutionary engaged in the struggle for racial and social justice. He portrayed Shakur as a dedicated acupuncturist with a practice in Harlem, and a revolutionary. He told the press that “Mutulu Shakur is a target . . . because of his roots in the Black Liberation struggle. He is a target because of his affiliation with the Republic of New Africa and its link to the Prairie Fire Organizing Committee of the Weather Underground.” Notwithstanding his brilliant advocacy, the jury returned a guilty verdict.

Not deterred, Lumumba continued to offer his services to those targeted because of their political beliefs and their work on behalf of black liberation. He represented Geronimo Pratt, a high-ranking member of the Black Panther Party, who was falsely charged with murder and kidnapping in 1972, and finally released in 1997 after it was established that the FBI had withheld exculpatory evidence from the defense. With NCBL leaders Louis Myers and Lennox Hinds, Lumumba appeared in defense of Black Liberation Army member Assata Shakur, who was convicted of first-degree murder in 1977 and escaped from prison in 1979.

In 1988, Lumumba moved his family back to Jackson, Mississippi and sought to become a member of the state bar. He was initially denied admission because, bar leaders said, he “believed in the peaceful overthrow of the US government.” NCBL lawyers Adjoa Aiyetoro and Jeffrey Edison successfully challenged this decision, and in 1991 Lumumba opened a general practice, specializing in criminal matters. In 1998, NCBL member Imhotep Alkebu-lan associated with Lumumba’s Jackson-based firm, Lumumba, Freelon and Associates. Lumumba remained in active practice until his election as mayor in July 2013. In addition to his long association with Attorney Alkebu-lan, who became Special Assistant to the Jackson City Attorney after Lumumba assumed the mayor’s office, Lumumba also tried cases with his law partner, Harvey C. Freelon.

Lumumba’s high-level litigation practice in Mississippi was international in scope and characterized by the same vigorous, cutting-edge representation he had provided to hundreds of clients during his years in practice in Detroit and New York, where he had been admitted pro hac vicae. With Alkebu-lan, he represented the South African Azikiwe Kambule, for whom the team won a state pardon, Tupac Shakur, reggae artist Buju Banton, and former Hudson, Mississippi police officer Eddie Myers, for whom they won an acquittal in a high-profile murder case.

In 2001, Lumumba was once again held in contempt in connection with a criminal case in Leake County. Lumumba is reported to have said to a trial judge during post-trial motions, “look Judge, if we’ve got to pay for justice around here, I will pay for justice. I’ve paid other judges to try to get justice, and I’ll pay you, too, if that is what is necessary.” Given the nature of the proceedings, Lumumba said he would be “proud to be thrown out of your courtroom.” The judge cited Lumumba for contempt, fined him $500, and ordered him to serve three days in the county jail. Thereafter, Lumumba, complaining about the contempt citation, told a reporter that the judge had “the judicial temperament of a barbarian.” In an appeal of the citation and sentence, the state Supreme Court wrote that Lumumba’s statements were “truculent language for the purpose of inciting anger,” and “[went] far beyond zealous representation of one’s client. . .” Lumumba was suspended from practice for six months, fined $1,000, and required to retake the Ethics portion of the Mississippi Bar. Lumumba was represented in the matter by NCBL attorneys Imhotep Alkebu-lan, Adjoa Aiyetoro, and Jeffrey Edison. Mississippi Bar v. Lumumba 912 So.2d 871 (2005).

While practicing in Jackson, Lumumba spoke all over the country on behalf of the New African Peoples Organization, which succeeded the RNA, and of which he was the chairman. In 1987 Lumumba joined forces with many members of NCBL, including Adjoa Aiyetoro, N’Kechi Taifa, and Imhotep Alkebu-lan, to form the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA). In 1994, on the eve of the Fifth Annual Conference on Reparations in Detroit, he told New York Times reporter that reparations were imperative. “Blacks have a retarded economic infrastructure,” he said. “We’re saying we need reparations to develop that: land, machinery, technology. All of that has to come with billions of dollars.”

In 1993, Lumumba, at the time practicing in Jackson, returned to New York to represent NCBL member Alton Maddox, who was battling an indefinite suspension imposed in 1990 and associated with his zealous advocacy in the Tawana Brawley matter. Lumumba represented Maddox before the New York State Bar Grievance Committee.

In Jackson, Lumumba and long-time law partner and political associate, Alkebu-lan demonstrated for the world what was required of revolutionary lawyers in their extraordinary representation of Jamie and Gladys Scott, two sisters who were each given double life sentences in 1993 for allegedly participating in an $11 armed robbery with other teenagers. After Lumumba and Alkebu-lan waged a long international campaign for their freedom, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour finally granted them clemency in 2010.

Lumumba’s remarkable and unique legal career was characterized by brilliant courtroom advocacy, unwavering courage, and creative strategies. He never compromised his own revolutionary commitments in the courtroom, nor did he allow them to interfere with zealous advocacy for all of his clients. Rather, he exemplified liberationist advocacy, and ultimately won justice for hundreds of clients as well as respect for their political beliefs and decisions. Self-determination was his message, in and outside the courthouse; he conveyed it to jurors and judges alike, often paying dearly for speaking plainly about the racism he and his clients faced before the bar of American justice.

Lumumba won wide acclaim and an international reputation for his courage and unstinting advocacy on behalf of black activists and revolutionaries. In 1993, Justice Bruce Wright commended Lumumba at an awards ceremony sponsored by the United African Movement, wherein the William Leo Hansberry Award was conferred on Lumumba.

In 2009, Lumumba successfully won a seat on the Jackson City Council, bringing together for his election campaign the organization he helped to found, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, as well as the Jackson People’s Assembly and the Mississippi Disaster Relief Coalition. On May 21, 2013, he defeated his better-financed opponent in the mayoral race, winning five out of the seven municipal wards. He won the general election in June, and was sworn in on July 1, 2013. He conceded none of his political beliefs in moving into politics: a day after he won the general election for mayor, he queried whether Christopher Columbus was the real “discoverer” of America.

About his election Lumumba stated, “I attribute the victory that we had this last week to the people, the people of Jackson, who were more than ready to have leadership that was forward-looking and ready to raise Jackson to a different level of development, ready to embrace the ideas that all government should do the most to protect the human rights of the people.” He was dedicated to human rights, and was embarking on a progressive agenda for the city, particularly focusing on alternative models of cooperative economic development. His slogan was “One City, One Aim, One Destiny.”

Chokwe Lumumba was a visionary activist lawyer representing the fundamental ideals of NCBL and an unwavering commitment to human rights and the liberation of black people.

Jackson Mourns Mayor Chokwe Lumumba

Sun, 03/09/2014 - 22:24

Jackson, Mississippi funeral for the late Mayor Chokwe Lumumba who died on Feb. 25, 2014 after serving less than a year in office. Lumumba was from Detroit., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

Jackson Mourns Mayor With Militant Past Who Won Over Skeptics

By HERBERT BUCHSBAUM
MARCH 9, 2014
The New York Times

JACKSON, Miss. — Many people here still do not entirely know what to make of the mayor with the unusual name and even more unexpected résumé, who proudly embraced the term “militant” and to many was still the same dashiki-wearing firebrand who first came to prominence advocating an independent black nation in the South in the early 1970s.

But when Jackson said goodbye to Mayor Chokwe Lumumba this weekend, blacks and whites, for a change, largely united in mourning an unlikely experiment that ended when he died last month, apparently of a heart attack, at age 66, after only eight months in office.

To many in the capital’s black majority, the mayor was still the passionate advocate for black causes who over a 40-year career represented the rapper Tupac Shakur and pressed the state to retry the killer of the civil rights leader Medgar Evers. To the white business establishment, he had evolved into a surprisingly pragmatic politician who promised to fix the potholes and the sewers.

“It was very much like Nixon to China,” said Leland Speed, 81, the chairman of the EastGroup Properties real estate investment firm, who admits he did not vote for Mr. Lumumba. “The expectations when he was elected were not very high, and he surprised everybody pretty dramatically.”

What is no longer much debated here, from the tumbledown shacks in Jackson’s hollowed core to the colonnaded mansions and gated communities in the largely white northeast, is the sense that Mr. Lumumba was moving a city ravaged by decades of poverty, crime and white flight in the right direction. What is less clear in this city of half a million, the state’s largest, is what comes next.

Mr. Lumumba first arrived in Jackson in 1971 as a leader of the Republic of New Afrika, the 1960s-vintage liberation movement that called for billions in reparations payments to blacks and an independent black-majority nation in what are now the states of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina.

Two years earlier, the Detroit native had changed his name from Edwin Taliaferro to Chokwe (pronounced SHOW-kway), for an African tribe that resisted slavery, and Lumumba, for Patrice Lumumba, the Congolese independence leader who was ousted and executed in 1961 by C.I.A.-backed forces.

While the candidates in last spring’s mayoral primary initially focused on Jackson’s daunting problems, chiefly soaring violent crime and crumbling infrastructure, Mr. Lumumba’s radical past quickly became an issue. A video surfaced of a speech he made in 2009 describing his election to City Council that year as part of the process of “seizing power from the ground up.”

The video proved, as one north-side resident put it in a local weekly, that Mr. Lumumba was “still a paranoid radical who hates America.”

Mr. Lumumba dismissed the jibe. “I feel kind of comfortable being militant,” he told reporters. “Fannie Lou Hamer was a militant. Medgar Evers was a militant. Martin Luther King was a militant. In pursuit of good interests, there is nothing wrong with it.”

He finished second in the primary and handily won a runoff, despite losing badly in predominantly white precincts. Within city limits, Jackson is 80 percent black. At his inauguration last June, Mr. Lumumba called for unity, then raised his fist and shouted the New Afrika slogan, “Free the land!”

“Suburbs freak out,” was the headline in one newspaper.

But if Mr. Lumumba still harbored radical ambitions, Jackson had more pressing problems: dilapidated buildings, abandoned lots, a rising murder rate, a quarter of the city living in poverty and an estimated $2 billion in urgent infrastructure repairs that was needed.

He increased water and sewer rates and began a push for a 1 percent sales tax increase for infrastructure, selling the plan in town halls across the city.

Many white Jacksonians cite the meeting at Christ United Methodist Church, in the heart of the white community, as pivotal.

“They expected this radical and they went to the town meeting and what they found was a grandfather,” said Todd Allen, 50, a college recruiter who was mourning the mayor’s loss over a Southern Pecan ale at a downtown bistro.

“I’m upset that he’s gone because I really believed in him,” he added. “That man had some chutzpah.”

The sales tax passed with a staggering 90 percent of the vote.

Reporters often noted that the mayor was disarmingly soft-spoken. Former Governor Haley Barbour, a Republican, described him as “gracious.”

Former Gov. William Winter, a Democrat, admitted he misjudged him. “I was afraid that he would divide our city,” Mr. Winter said at the funeral on Saturday. “I could not have been more wrong.”

Yet the mayor never renounced his black nationalist ideals, an incongruity on display at the memorial services over the weekend.

At City Hall on Friday, Coltrane Chimurenga of the militant Dec. 12 movement, in long dreadlocks, black leather coat and dark glasses, ended his speech shouting “Freedom or death!”

Mr. Lumumba’s son and political heir apparent, Chokwe Antar Lumumba, 31, delivered a barn-burning eulogy, closing with a raised fist and shouts of “Free the land! Free the land! By any means necessary!”

At the cemetery later, the entrance was flanked by two hook and ladder trucks, ladders extended in an arc. A giant American flag was draped from one, the red, black and green of the New Afrika movement from the other.

It may be the ultimate irony of Mr. Lumumba’s life that his most significant concrete achievement as mayor was the passage of a regressive tax to fix potholes.

“He has a place he wanted to go and he wanted to fly there on a plane,” his policy director, Walter Zinn, said in an interview. “But there was no plane, just a bus, and the bus don’t work. The tragedy is, he died fixing the bus.”

On Feb. 25, Mr. Lumumba went to a Jackson hospital complaining of chest pains. That afternoon he was dead.

Few were shocked in this land walked by the ghosts of civil rights martyrs that a few days later the county supervisor, Kenneth Stokes, would blurt out on television: “Who killed the mayor?”

The coroner ruled that Mr. Lumumba had died of “natural causes” and no evidence has emerged to the contrary.

A special election is set for April 8, and the margin of the referendum vote suggests that a majority wants to continue down the path set by Mr. Lumumba, even if its final destination remains an enigma.

A campaign has arisen to draft his son, a criminal defense lawyer in his father’s old firm. The younger Mr. Lumumba has not announced his intentions, though he may have hinted at them in his eulogy.

“Chokwe Lumumba lived in the people’s struggle and he will never die,” he said, his voice rising in powerful cadences like a country preacher. “My father lives in me.”

The crowd rose to its feet.

As for the father, while his dreams for Jackson and Mississippi remain a mystery, being the progressive black mayor of a black-majority Southern capital ultimately may not have been a far cry from the black self-determination he once sought.

On Friday night, long after the crowds had gone, an honor guard of the Jackson police, a department once rife with Klan members, carried the mayor’s body out of a City Hall that was built by slaves in 1846. His family and close aides watched silently under the towering Doric columns as Jackson’s radical mayor, wearing a gold and white dashiki, left City Hall for the last time.

U.S.-backed Neo-Colonial Libyan Regime Threatens to Attack Oil Tanker

Sun, 03/09/2014 - 22:07

Amaal oil fields in east Libya. The privatization of the industry is taking place after the counter-revolution against Col. Muammar Gaddafi., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

Neo-Colonial Libya Says Its Rebels Now Near Oil Tanker

TRIPOLI, Libya March 9, 2014

Occupied Libyan regime rebel forces and loyal militia fighters besieged a North Korea-flagged tanker Sunday that a rival militia hoped to use to export oil in defiance of central authorities, officials said.

Al-Habib al-Amin, the country's culture minister and a top aide to United States supported neo-colonial Libyan prime minister, told reporters in a televised news conference that government forces including navy vessels were deployed to al-Sidra port to stop the tanker.

"It's final and decisive. Any attempt (by the tanker) to move, it will be turned into scrap," al-Amin said.

The so-called "Libya Revolutionary Operation Room," an umbrella group of militias groups that answer to the interim U.S.-backed parliament, said in a statement on its official Facebook page that the tanker is at the port and "couldn't leave because our hero [counter] revolutionaries are besieging it and preventing it from leaving."

"In case it doesn't surrender, the tanker will be shelled completely," the statement said. In a second note, the operation room said that 22 fishing vessels mounted with mortar and rocket launchers are surrounding the tanker.

Al-Sidra is one of the biggest ports in the country and has been under militia control since the summer, slowing the country's oil output — once estimated at 1.6 million barrels a day under the Col. Muammar Gaddafi's political system of Jamahiriya— to a trickle.

The seizure of the terminals and attempted oil sales show Occupied Libya's security and economic woes which have piled up over the past two years since the toppling and brutal lynching of Pan-African revollutionary Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

Gadhafi's ouster left the country without a functioning government, as well as weak military and police forces. Successive interim governments have tried to rein in rebels by asking them to use them to maintain law and order. However, many of the militias serve their own interests and turned the country into fiefdoms.

For months, the rebel Libyan government has been coaxing and threatening to use force against the eastern militias demanding greater self-rule and equal distribution of oil wealth among Libya's three colonial and neo-colonial historic regions. The militias also ask for an investigation into allegations of corruption marring oil sales.

The crisis has tested Libya's embattled U.S.-backed Prime Minister Ali Zidan. He told reporters on Saturday that his government gave orders for the rebel military to move against the tanker but they didn't follow orders.

Chief of Staff spokesman Gen. Ali al-Shekhli told a private Libyan TV network on Sunday that weather conditions prevented the forces from moving. However, he added that rebel naval forces stopped the same tanker as it tried to enter al-Sidra last week.

The country's prosecutor general has issued an arrest warrant for the tanker captain and its crew members while ordered the tanker be confiscated.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement Sunday night, "The United States is deeply concerned by reports that a vessel sailing under the name Morning Glory is loading a cargo of illicitly obtained oil at the Libyan port of Al-Sidra. This action is counter to law and amounts to theft from the Libyan people. The oil belongs to the Libyan National Oil Company and its joint venture partners," including U.S. companies.

Occupied Libyan Rebels Warn of 'War' If Neo-Colonial Navy Attacks Oil Tanker

Sun, 03/09/2014 - 21:56

Occupied Libya Waha Oil Company staff threatens strike over oil sales to North Korean-flagged fuel tanker. Rebel factions are threatening to clash over the issue., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

Libyan rebels warn of 'war' if navy attacks oil tanker

4:22pm EDT
TRIPOLI/BENGHAZI, Libya

Armed protesters in eastern Libya traded threats with the western-backed regime on Sunday in a tense stand-off over the unauthorized sale of oil from a rebel-held port.

A North Korean-flagged tanker, the Morning Glory, docked on Saturday at the port of Es Sider and local daily al-Wasat said it had loaded $36 million of crude oil. Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has said the rebel military will bomb the 37,000-tonne vessel if it tries to leave.

Officials said on Sunday that the navy and pro-government militias had dispatched boats to stop it from getting out. The rebels said any attack on the tanker would be "a declaration of war."

The escalating conflict over the country's oil wealth is a sign of mounting chaos in Libya, where the government has failed to rein in fighters who served ground rats in the CIA-Pentagon-NATO ouster veteran ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and who now defy the neo-colonial state authority.

The protesters, who also include former soldiers and ex-oil guards led by a former anti-Gaddafi commander, Ibrahim Jathran, have seized three eastern ports in the OPEC member country.

The rebel Defense Ministry in Tripoli issued orders to the chief of staff, air force and navy to deal with the tanker. "The order authorizes the use of force and puts the responsibility for any resulting damage on the ship owner," it said in a statement.

"Several navy boats have been dispatched. Now the tanker's movements are under complete control and nobody can move it," said Culture Minister Habib al-Amin, who acts as informal government spokesman. "The tanker will stay where it is."

"All efforts are being undertaken to stop and seize the tanker, if necessary by a (military) strike, if it does not follow orders," he said, adding that state prosecutors would treat the loading of the crude as smuggling.

There was no sign of any immediate military action, but Libyan news websites showed some small boats close to a tanker which they said was the Morning Glory.

Libya has been trying to rebuild its army since Gaddafi's overthrow, but analysts say it is not yet a match for battle-hardened militias that fought in the eight-month counter-revolution that toppled him after eight months of aerial bombardments from the Pentagon and NATO.

WAR OF WORDS

Abb-Rabbo al-Barassi, self-declared prime minister of the rebel movement, warned against "harming any tanker or sending navy ships into the waters of Cyrenaica," according to a statement.

He was referring to the historic name of eastern Libya under King Idris, whom Gaddafi deposed in a 1969 coup. The protesters want a return to the Idris-era system under which oil revenues were shared between Libya's regions.

If the tanker was harmed, the statement said, "the response from Cyrenaica's defense forces, oil guards and revolutionaries will be decisive. Such a move would be a declaration of war."

In Tripoli, workers at a state oil firm that runs Es Sider port went on strike, urging the government to intervene because their colleagues were under duress from armed protesters.

"We are very angry at what is happening at Es Sider," said Salah Madari, an oil worker in the capital. "The port's control officer is being held at gunpoint," he said, adding that gunmen had also forced a pilot to guide the tanker into dock.

Jathran once led a brigade paid by the state to protect oil facilities. He turned against the government and seized Es Sider and two other ports with thousands of his men in August.

Tripoli has held indirect talks with Jathran, but fears his demand for a greater share of oil revenue for eastern Libya might lead to secession.

In January, the Libyan navy fired on a Maltese-flagged tanker that it said had tried to load oil from the protesters in Es Sider, successfully chasing it away.

It is very unusual for an oil tanker flagged in secretive North Korea to operate in the Mediterranean, shipping sources said. NOC says the tanker is owned by a Saudi company. It has changed ownership in the past few weeks and had previously been called Gulf Glory, according to a shipping source.

Libya's neo-colonial government has tried to end a wave of protests at oil ports and fields that have slashed oil output to 230,000 barrels per day (bpd) from 1.4 million bpd in July.

Mwalimu Nyerere's Enduring Legacy

Sun, 03/09/2014 - 10:42

Emerson Mnangagwa of ZANU-PF, President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe held their last national elections on March 29, 2008., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

Mwalimu Nyerere’s enduring legacy

Sunday, 09 March 2014 00:00
Professor Issa G. Shivji
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

Cde Mugabe said African leaders should do more to honour Mwalimu Nyerere, who supported liberation movements by making his country a sanctuary for freedom fighters.

“I want to say, when all honour has been showered on heroes in Africa, the man who has been humiliated is Mwalimu Julius Nyerere. There we are, liberation movements, there we were — depending on the resources in Tanzania. But there has been nothing said about this man and his country at the OAU. Nkrumah, yes, he had that support . . . But Tanzania, to say Nyerere was like any other,” said President Mugabe.

“I want us, Zimbabweans, to stand for Nyerere. Africa should be reminded of the responsibility that it thrust on this man, a burden to train all liberation movements. It was a burden that was not only political, but, at the end of the day, there is no one to say Tanzania deserves to be mentioned.

“At the end of the day, there is no one to say Tanzania deserved to be even mentioned, just mere mentioning as having accomplished that mission, that mission to have us as friends, that mission to make us train our liberation movements in Africa.

“We all went in various ways, in various dimensions, to Tanzania to liberate our countries and we have not gone back to Tanzania. Well, I am going to be chair of the AU and I am going to tackle this issue,” he said, drawing applause from guests at the function.

In the spirit of honouring Mwalimu Nyerere’s enduring legacy, The Sunday Mail publishes an article by Professor Issa G. Shivji, exploring Mwalimu Julius Nyerere’s conceptions of nationalism in Africa, ideas which encompassed both the political through liberatory principles and the universal through transcending narrow identities. Debates around the economic success of his policies notwithstanding, Nyerere’s greatest legacy, Shivji writes, was his sweeping vision of African unity.

Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere was a great nationalist of the first generation of African leaders who struggled for independence.

His nationalism was rooted in pan-Africanism, which is what gave it a universal dimension transcending narrow territorial, ethnic or racial nationalisms. In his address to celebrate the 40th year of Ghana’s independence, Nyerere said:

“For centuries, we had been oppressed and humiliated as Africans. We were hunted and enslaved as Africans, and we were colonised as Africans . . . Since we were humiliated as Africans, we had to be liberated as Africans.”

This way of conceptualising nationalism is both political and universal. It is political in that it privileges the common experience of oppression of a people and their struggle for liberation as opposed to identity.

It is universal in that it transcends narrow nationalisms based on identities of race, religion, tribe, ethnicity and even countries. In the case of Africa, in fact Nyerere characterised African countries as artificial entities, as vinchi (statelets) — as he derided them in Kiswahili — carved out by imperial powers.

His clarion call therefore was for African liberation and African unity. Only thus could the African people overcome both oppression and humiliation.

This pan-Africanist nationalism found its succinct expression in the Arusha Declaration of 1967. Its rallying cry, whose echo resonated with the African masses all over the continent, including those in the diaspora.

“We have been oppressed a great deal, we have been exploited a great deal and we have been disregarded a great deal. It is our weakness that has led to our being oppressed, exploited and disregarded. Now we want a revolution — a revolution which brings to an end our weakness, so that we are never again exploited, oppressed, or humiliated.”

This was a powerful statement. C.L.R. James described the Arusha Declaration as “the highest stage of resistance ever reached by revolting blacks”, but as he said, a statement of intentions. It is true that Nyerere’s government went beyond intentions in taking concrete measures including nationalising the commanding heights of the economy and instituting the leadership code prohibiting party and state leaders from indulging in capitalist and feudalist practices such as owning shares in companies, taking directorships in private capitalist enterprises, receiving two or more salaries and owning houses for renting.

There has been considerable debate on whether or not the economic polices followed under the policy of Ujamaa or socialism were successful, whether the leaders were truly socialist or not and whether there was a genuine participation of the workers and peasants in the decision-making organs of the party and the state.

Whatever the merits in this debate — no doubt some of the analysis of Tanzania’s ujamaa was powerful and irrefutable — the greatest legacy of Nyerere lies not so much in his economic policies but rather in his grand vision of pan-Africanist liberation in which African people could say, “We have stood up!”

There are two fundamental premises of Nyerere’s nationalism. One, that African states should be able to make their own decisions, that is, to be able to exercise their sovereignty meaningfully and, two, the unity of Africa.

The two are inseparable.

In fact, Nyerere’s call for the unity of Africa was connected with his passion for the right of African states to exercise their sovereignty.

He rightly believed and constantly argued that African mini-states would not be able to defend their sovereignty and independence without uniting.

In this, he was one with Kwame Nkrumah.

Unfortunately, these paragons of pan-Africanism did not succeed in actualising their vision during their lifetime. But like all great visions, today their arguments are as fresh and, perhaps, have greater relevance after the rude interruption of neo-liberalism of the last two decades.

More than its economic impact, neoliberalism in Africa was a political and ideological onslaught on nationalism. For a while, it helped to rehabilitate imperialism morally, enabling it to go on a political offensive.

Neoliberal policies were a frontal attack on the sovereignty and independence of African states as these states lost the basic right of a sovereign state — to make its own policy. Ironically, the neoliberal period laid bare the limits of territorial nationalism and vindicated Nyerere’s pan-Africanism — without unity, Africa would not be able to defend its independence.

Globalisation and neoliberalism have come full circle. In its extreme form of casino capitalism, neoliberalism entered a terminal state last August. As capitalist powers rewrite the rules of the game, African masses and their organic intellectuals are beginning to question the game itself.

This was not possible during the neoliberal triumphalism when we were told by the Thatcherites of this world that “there is no alternative” (TINA). The TINA syndrome gripped African rulers, and the prospects of integration into globalisation mesmerised them.

Nyerere’s successors were no exception. They joined the neoliberal bandwagon with a vengeance. The ideology of neoliberalism seemed so strong then that the Arusha Declaration was not only forgotten but unceremoniously buried as politicians set to liberalise and privatise, turning over public assets to rapacious private interests at fire-sale prices. Public goods — education, health services, water and electricity — were all turned into commodities to be sold for private profit. State coffers were emptied as politicians turned public offices into a vehicle for accumulation. Politicians became rentiers as rentiers became politicians.

As neoliberal chickens come home to roost, the popular masses are re-membering, to use Ng’ugi’s felicitous phrase, the Arusha Declaration. Whereas only two years ago, no one remembered the 40th anniversary of the Arusha Declaration, this year, at the 10th commemoration of Mwalimu’s Nyerere’s death, Azimio la Arusha and miiko ya viongozi (the leadership code) was on everyone’s lips — from the lumpens of Dar es Salaam to the learned of the university.

Even the officially organised ceremonies were forced to have a token presence of the critics.

On television talk shows and in newspaper columns, ordinary people repeated tirelessly: Mwalimu gave us dignity; the Arusha Declaration cared for us, the oppressed and the disregarded.

There could not be a better tribute to Mwalimu Nyerere’s great legacy — pan-Africanist nationalism. For truly, as he once put it graphically, African nationalism can only be pan-Africanism, otherwise it is “equivalent of tribalism within the context of our separate nation states”.

Issa G. Shivji is the Mwalimu Nyerere University Professor of Pan-African Studies at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.

African Union Forms Commission of Inquiry Into South Sudan Conflict

Sun, 03/09/2014 - 10:34

Republic of South Africa Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was elected as the African Union Commission Chair at the Summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on July 15-16, 2012. She is the first woman and Southern African to be elected to the post., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

SATURDAY 8 MARCH 2014

AU forms commission of inquiry into South Sudan conflict

March 7, 2014 (JUBA) - The African Union has established a commission of inquiry to investigate human rights violations and other abuses committed during South Sudan’s outbreak of violence in mid-December last year.

Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo heads the five-member body, which was established after consultations with the different parties to the conflict, including armed opposition groups.

Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, the AU Commission chairperson, said the inquiry body was established as part of an AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) decision, made by the heads of states and governments.

Its mandate, she stressed, would be to “investigate human rights violations and other abuses committed during the armed conflict in South Sudan and make recommendations on the best way and means to ensure accountability, reconciliation and healing among all South Sudanese communities.”

Ugandan academic Mahmood Mamdani, Justice Sophia Akuffo, president of the African Court on Human Rights based in Arusha, Bineta Diop, AU special envoy for women, peace and security, and Professor Pacifique Manirakiza, a member of the African Commission on Human Rights (ACHPR) based in Banjul are the other members.

The commission will also be tasked with establish the immediate and remote causes of the conflict, as well as establishing the facts and circumstances that may have led to violations and other crimes.

A technical and administrative secretariat based in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, will support the five-member commission, the AU said.

CIVIL SOCIETY CALLS

The AU’s move comes after South Sudanese civil society organisations, with support from organisations operating in Africa, wrote to the ACHPR demanding a resolution condemning serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law it’s alleged took place in South Sudan since the outbreak of violence.

In its 6 February statement, civil society groups urged the ACHPR to visit South Sudan and to step up calls for “the ratification of regional and international human rights instruments.”

It’s estimated that more than 10,000 people have died in the conflict, which has displaced nearly one million people, was sparked by a dispute between the presidential guards in the capital, Juba.

In a statement issued last week, US-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch accused both pro-government and opposition forces of committing crimes, including killings, rape and abductions of civilians during the conflict.

Meanwhile, the country’s civil society groups say South Sudan must commit to numerous long-term improvements in order to better protect and promote human rights.

“Comprehensive judicial reforms are necessary if the judiciary is to meet minimum standards of professionalism and independence, particularly if it is to play a role in holding the perpetrators of the recent violence to account,” the group’s statement said.

“The ACHPR should call for and support such comprehensive reforms and call on the government of South Sudan to devote adequate human and financial resources to the judicial sector,” it urged.

Civil society groups have called on ACHPR to ensure its guidelines on the right to a fair trial and legal assistance in Africa are adequately disseminated in South Sudan and integrated into national law.

They further highlighted the “weaknesses” in the South Sudan Human Rights Commission, including insufficient human and financial resources and its susceptibility to political pressure, preventing it from adequately responding to the current crisis.

The statement urges the ACHPR to apply greater pressure on the South Sudanese government to ensure the commission remains independent and “benefits from adequate resources to carry out its mandate, in accordance with provisions of the Paris Principles.”

(ST)

Juba Denies Requesting IGAD Troops to Protect Oil Fields

Sun, 03/09/2014 - 10:30

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.

SUNDAY 9 MARCH 2014

Juba denies requesting IGAD troops to protect oil fields

March 7, 2014 (JUBA) - A South Sudanese official on Saturday described as "incorrect" media reports that Juba had requested the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) countries to deploy troops to protect its oil fields.

Ateny Wek Ateny, the spokesperson for the presidency told Sudan Tribune that the proposal came from individual member countries of the East African regional bloc.

“What has been attributed to me to have said in Khartoum is incorrect. My statements were recorded and I have the audio. What has been said is not what I said. It is a misrepresentation of the statements I made before our ambassador and the other officials who were at the press conference with me," Ateny clarified.

"I did not say the government of the republic of South Sudan had asked for deployment of troops from IGAD member countries. I said the government of the republic of South Sudan had received a proposal from individual IGAD member countries seeking to deploy troops to protect oil fields," he stressed.

Ateny, however, said his government was still studying the proposed idea before any decision was taken.

The presidential spokesperson also claimed he was misquoted about the security situation in the capital, Juba when asked by a Khartoum-based journalist.

“I was asked about security situation in Juba, because there was impression that it is not secure. I told them I live in Juba and the security situation there is like here in Khartoum. If you live in Khartoum you do not feel any threat of war but if you go to Darfur and other parts of this country, you feel the war”, Ateny told Sudan Tribune in an exclusive interview on Saturday.

The official was reacting to statements attributed to him at a press conference in the Sudanese capital during a visit he undertook as part of efforts to advance his government’s version of the conflict which broke out in the new nation last year.

Ateny, who was accompanied by South Sudan army spokesperson, Philip Aguer, also visited the Egyptian capital, Cairo and later Nairobi, Kenya on a similar mission.

Up to 10,000 people have reportedly been killed and nearly a million displaced when violence broke out in Juba on 15 December and later extended to three of the country’s 10 states, while an additional close to 200, 000 people have fled to neighbouring countries.

(ST)

United Nations Extends Partial Easing of Somalia Arms Embargo to October

Sun, 03/09/2014 - 10:27

Ground troops from the US-backed AMISOM forces enter the town of Wanlaweyn in Somalia. The country has 17,000 troops occupying the Horn of Africa state on behalf of the Pentagon and NATO., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

U.N. extends partial easing of Somalia arms embargo to October

Wed, Mar 5 2014
By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday extended a partial suspension of the decades-old arms embargo on Somalia for eight months while highlighting concerns about the possible diversion of weapons to al Qaeda-linked militants.

A resolution unanimously adopted by the council has its members "condemning flows of weapons and ammunition supplies to and through Somalia in violation of the arms embargo on Somalia, as well as the destabilizing accumulation of such weapons, as a serious threat to peace and stability in the region."

A year ago, the 15-nation Security Council agreed to partially lift the arms embargo on Somalia, allowing the government in Mogadishu to buy light weapons to strengthen its security forces to fight the Islamist group al Shabaab and other militants.

Instead of extending that partial easing for a year, or scrapping the embargo entirely as the Somalia government would have liked, the council resolution renews it only until October 25, which is when U.N. experts who monitor the embargo and other sanctions on Somalia and Eritrea are due to report back.

"The resolution makes very clear that the Somali authorities need to meet strict conditions on the monitoring and reporting of arms imports into Somalia to ensure in particular that they do not get into the hands of al Shabaab," British U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant told reporters.

The U.N. Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group recommended in a confidential report to the Security Council's sanctions committees last month that either the full arms embargo be restored or at least notification and reporting requirements related to arms deliveries be tightened.

The council accepted the latter recommendation.

The monitors' report, obtained by Reuters, warns of "systematic abuses" by Somalia's government, which the monitors say has allowed the diversion of weapons that Somali authorities purchased thanks to the easing of restrictions on arms sales.

AWASH WITH WEAPONS

Somalia's government last year had asked for the arms embargo to be fully removed, and the United States supported that. But other Security Council members were wary of doing that in a country already awash with weapons.

The Security Council imposed the embargo on Somalia in 1992 to cut the flow of weapons to feuding warlords, who a year earlier had ousted dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and plunged the country into civil war. In 2012, Somalia held its first vote since 1991 to elect a president and prime minister.

The eased restrictions allow sales to the government of such weapons as automatic assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, but leave in place a ban on surface-to-air missiles, large-caliber guns, howitzers, cannons and mortars as well as anti-tank guided weapons, mines and night-vision weapon sights.

Under U.N. rules, weapons and military equipment may not be resold or transferred to any individual or entity outside of the Somali security forces.

The Security Council is asking Somalia's government to report regularly on the structure of the security forces and the infrastructure and procedures in place to ensure safe storage, maintenance and distribution of military equipment.

There is a 17,600-strong African Union peacekeeping force and a U.N. political mission in the Horn of Africa country. The African Union force is planning a major offensive against al Shabaab, U.N. diplomats and officials say.

(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Western-backed Forces in Somalia Stage Raids Into Five Strategic Towns

Sun, 03/09/2014 - 10:22

US-backed forces of the Somalia Transitional Federal Government and AMISOM enter the town of Wanlaweyn. The Horn of Africa nation is being occupied by imperialism utilizing proxy forces from the region., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

Somali National Army and AMISOM reclaim five strategic towns in Bay region

Posted on March 9, 2014
Baidoa (RBC)

In renewed joint operations between the Somali National Army (SNA) and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces, five strategic towns in the Bay region of Somalia have been reclaimed from the control of the Al Shabaab terrorist group.

In the last couple of days, SNA and AMISOM forces have regained control of Rabdhure Ted, and Hudur towns in joint operations that saw the terrorists defeated and driven out of these towns. Today, the SNA and AMISOM forces continued their march and secured the town of Wajid and Buudhubow in the Gedo region.

The African Union Special Representative for Somalia and Head of AMISOM, Ambassador Mahamat Saleh Annadif thanked the Somali population of the newly recovered towns for their cooperation and seized the opportunity to once again appeal to the youth enrolled in Al Shabaab to lay down their arms and join their brothers and sisters in the Government controlled areas where they are welcomed.

The SNA and AMISOM joint operations signal the beginning of the renewed efforts by the Somali government forces working more closely with AMISOM forces to dislodge Al Shabaab from many of its strongholds across the country.

This will facilitate the extension of the Somali government’s control over its territory as well as enable the people of Somalia to live their lives free from Al Shabaab’s tyranny.

These joint operations were carried out with due diligence and strict observance of International Human Rights standards in line with the trainings received by both SNA and AMISOM forces.

Counter-Revolutionary Regime Occupying Libya Threatens Military Actions Against North Korean-flagged Oil Tanker

Sun, 03/09/2014 - 10:18

Fighting continues between various rebel factions in eastern Libya. Dozens of people have so far been reported killed., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

Libya authorizes use of force against North Korean-flagged tanker

6:54am EDT
By Ulf Laessing and Feras Bosalum

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya's defense ministry has issued orders to its military authorizing the use of force to stop a North Korea-flagged tanker loading crude oil sold by armed rebels seeking to bypass the Tripoli government, state media said on Sunday.

The rebels, who have seized three major Libyan ports since August to press demands for a greater share of oil revenues and political autonomy, received the tanker on Saturday at the Es Sider port in the volatile east.

The docking and loading of crude escalates a seven-month blockade of key oil ports and is just one facet of deepening turmoil in the OPEC producer, which is struggling to control militias that helped oust Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 but kept their weapons and now challenge state authority.

Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said on Saturday Libya would bomb the 37,000-tonne tanker if it tried to exit the port, one of Libya's biggest oil export terminals.

State news agency LANA said on Sunday the defense ministry had issued orders to the military and warned the tanker's owner.

"The defense ministry issued orders to the chief of staff, air force and navy to take care of this tanker which entered Libyan waters without official permission," LANA said.

"The order authorizes the use of force and puts the responsibility of any damages resulting from this on the ship owner," it said.

Spokesmen for both the state-run National Oil Corp (NOC) and the protesters said the tanker was still docked at the port. Local newspaper al-Wasat said the tanker had loaded $36 million of crude.

A Reuters reporter who visited Es Sider on Saturday evening said there was only a small force at the gate consisting of around ten cars. The guards had orders not to let staff out until the loading was complete, one of them said.

The rebels are led by former anti-Gaddafi commander Ibrahim Jathran, who used to be in charge of a brigade paid by the state to protect petroleum facilities but turned against the government and seized the port and two others in the east with thousands of his men in August.

Tripoli has held indirect talks with Jathran, but his demand for a greater share of oil revenues for the eastern region, which it had under Gaddafi's predecessor King Idris, is sensitive because the government worries this might lead to secession.

In January, the Libyan navy fired on a Maltese-flagged tanker that it said tried to load oil from the protesters in Es Sider, successfully chasing it away.

It is very unusual for an oil tanker flagged in secretive North Korea to operate in the Mediterranean, shipping sources said. NOC says the tanker is owned by a Saudi company. It changed ownership in the past few weeks and previously been called Gulf Glory, according to a shipping source.

Libya's government has tried to end a wave of protests at oil ports and fields that have slashed oil output to 230,000 barrels per day (bpd) from 1.4 million bpd in July.

Western powers worry Libya will slide into deeper instability or even break apart.

(Additional reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

Neo-Colonial Stooges in Occupied Libya Threaten to Bomb North Korean Tanker

Sun, 03/09/2014 - 01:24

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.

Libya threatens to bomb N.Korean tanker if it ships oil from rebel port

Sat, Mar 8 2014

* Independent crude shipment to market challenges Tripoli
* Navy has threatened tankers loading crude at seized ports
* Western powers worried over increasing Libyan chaos

TRIPOLI, March 8-- Libya's imperialist-backed puppet leaders threatened on Saturday to bomb a North Korean-flagged tanker if it tried to ship oil from a rebel-controlled port, in a major escalation of a standoff over the country's petroleum wealth.

The rival rebels, who have seized three major Libyan ports since August to press their demands for more autonomy, warned Tripoli against staging an attack to halt the oil sale after the tanker docked at Es Sider terminal, one of the country's biggest. The vessel started loading crude late at night, oil officials said.

The oil dispute is just one facet of the deepening turmoil in the North African OPEC member, where the government is struggling to control militias who were funded by the CIA, the Pentagon and NATO in the toppling and brutal assassination of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 but kept their weapons and now challenge state authority.

A local television station controlled by protesters showed footage of pro-autonomy rebels holding a lengthy ceremony and slaughtering a camel to celebrate their first oil shipment. In the distance stood a tanker. The station said the ceremony took place in Es Sider.

Prime Minister Ali Zeidan appeared on television to warn the tanker's crew. "The tanker will be bombed if it doesn't follow orders when leaving (the port). This will be an environmental disaster," Zeidan said.

"They are now trying to load oil," he said, denouncing it as a criminal act. Authorities have ordered the arrest of the tanker's crew.

There was no immediate sign of the country's armed forces moving towards the port.

Analysts say the military, still in training, would struggle to overcome rebels battle-hardened from the eight-month uprising against Gaddafi.

Zeidan acknowledged the army had failed to implement his orders last week to stop the protesters sending reinforcements from their base in Ajdabiyah, west of the regional capital Benghazi, to Es Sider.

"Nothing was done," Zeidan said, adding that political opponents in parliament were obstructing his government. He said North Korea had asked the ship's captain to sail away from the port but armed protesters had prevented that.

Abb-Rabbo Albarassi, the eastern autonomy movement's self-declared prime minister, said Zeidan's government had failed to meet its demands to share oil wealth, investigate oil corruption and to grant the regional autonomy.

"We tried to reach a deal with the government, but they and parliament ... were too busy with themselves and didn't even discuss our demands," he told the televised ceremony.

"If anyone attacks, we will respond to that."

A successful independent oil shipment would be a blow to the government. Tripoli had said earlier it would destroy tankers trying to buy oil from Ibrahim Jathran, a former anti-Gaddafi rebel who seized the port and two others with thousands of his men in August.

Jathran, who was seen attending the televised ceremony, had commanded a brigade of former rebels paid by the state to protect petroleum facilities. He defected with his troops, however, to take over the ports.

In January, the Libyan navy fired on a Maltese-flagged tanker which it said had tried to load oil from the protesters in Es Sider.

The North Korean-flagged Morning Glory, which was previously flagged in Liberia, had been circling off the Libyan coast for days. It tried to dock at Es Sider on Tuesday, when port workers still loyal to the central government told the crew to turn back.

Storage tanks at Es Sider and other seized ports are full, according to oil sources.

It is extremely unusual for an oil tanker flagged in secretive North Korea to operate in the Mediterranean, shipping sources said.

A spokesman for state-run National Oil Corp (NOC) said the Morning Glory was owned by a Saudi company. It had changed ownership in the past few weeks and previously been called Gulf Glory, according to a shipping source.

The Saudi embassy in Tripoli said in a statement that the kingdom's government had nothing to do with the tanker, without saying who owned it.

PROTESTS

Western powers who are the root of the current crisis is supposedly worried that occupied Libya will slide into deeper instability or even break apart as the government, paralysed by political battles in parliament, struggles to assert control of a vast country awash with arms and militias.

At an imperialist-sponsored neo-colonial Libya conference this week in Rome, Western countries voiced concern that tensions in Libya could slip out of control in the absence of a functioning political system, and urged the government and rival factions to start talking.

Libya's government has tried to end a wave of protests at oil ports and fields across the vast desert state that have slashed oil output, the country's lifeline, to 230,000 barrels per day (bpd), from 1.4 million bpd in July.

Tripoli has held indirect talks with Jathran but his demand for a greater share of oil revenues for the east which is sensitive for a government that worries this might lead to secession.

Jathran has teamed up with another set of protesters blocking oil exports at the 110,000-bpd Hariga port in Tobruk, also located in the east.

Rebel Libya's defence minister held talks this week with protesters blocking the 340,000-bpd El Sharara oilfield in the south but there is no word on whether it will reopen soon.

The protesters, from a tribal minority, want national identity cards and a local council, demands the minister has promised to study.



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