31 March, 2007
Posted 03/30/07 12:09
Nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz will sail April 2 to support U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. Navy said, amid a spike in tensions over Iran’s seizure of 15 British marines and sailors.
The Nimitz, and its battle group of destroyers and guided-missile cruisers, will relieve the carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower, which this week took part in war games exercises in the Gulf with another carrier, John C. Stennis.
The new battle group will be in position by late April, but there will be no overlap with the Eisenhower, and the number of U.S. carriers in the area would stay at two, a navy official said on condition of anonymity.
"If anything, there would be a point where there is only one in the region," the official said, on condition of anonymity.
The Stennis and the Eisenhower wound down their show of force involving 15 warships in the Gulf on March 29.
The two-carrier deployment in the Gulf was the highest level of U.S. naval presence in the gulf since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
The Nimitz will support operations in Iraq, the Horn of Africa and Afghanistan, the Navy said in a press release.
The Stennis had been operating in the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea but entered Gulf waters March 27, escorted by the guided-missile cruiser Antietam, the 5th Fleet said.
March 30, 2007
Kenya, Ethiopia, the United States and the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia cooperated in a secret detention program for people who had fled the recent conflict in Somalia, Human Rights Watch said today.
In a March 22 letter to the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Human Rights Watch detailed the arbitrary detention, expulsion and apparent enforced disappearance of dozens of individuals who fled the fighting between the Union of Islamic Courts and the joint forces of the Transitional Federal Government and Ethiopia from December 2006 through January 2007.
"Each of these governments has played a shameful role in mistreating people fleeing a war zone," said Georgette Gagnon, deputy Africa director of Human Rights Watch. "Kenya has secretly expelled people, the Ethiopians have caused dozens to 'disappear,' and US security agents have routinely interrogated people held incommunicado."
Human Rights Watch's recent research in Kenya indicates that since late December 2006, Kenyan security forces arrested at least 150 individuals from some 18 different nationalities at the Liboi and Kiunga border crossing points with Somalia. The Kenyan authorities then transferred these individuals to Nairobi where they were detained incommunicado and without charge for weeks in violation of Kenyan law.
Human Rights Watch recognizes that Kenya may have valid security concerns regarding people seeking refuge within its borders. Nonetheless these concerns must be addressed through a fair process in accordance with international law, not arbitrarily at the expense of fundamental human rights.
US and other national intelligence services interrogated several foreign nationals in detention in Nairobi, who were denied access to legal counsel and their consular representatives. At least 85 people were then secretly deported from Kenya to Somalia in what appears to be a joint rendition operation of those individuals of interest to the Somali, Ethiopian, or US governments.
Human Rights Watch obtained the flight manifests for three flights from Kenya to Mogadishu and Baidoa, Somalia in January and February 2007. Each manifest listed the names of several Kenyan police officers who accompanied the detainees.
Many of the people expelled from Kenya were later transferred from Somalia to Ethiopia, but their exact locations in Ethiopia are unknown. Several detainees managed to briefly contact relatives prior to or following their transfer to Ethiopia, and said they were being held with numerous other people who had been deported from Kenya and Somalia.
"Dozens of people have effectively disappeared into Ethiopian detention facilities," said Gagnon. "It's imperative that the Ethiopians acknowledge the people they are holding and permit independent international access to them."
By ROBERT MUKOMBOZI
& ELENEUS AKANGA
Mar 31, 2007 at 07:09 AM
The government has set up a Commission of Inquiry into the 1994 plane crash that killed former Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana and his Burundian counterpart Cyprien Ntaryamira.Immediately after adopting the minutes of the March 14 meeting, last Wednesday a Cabinet Meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame endorsed a resolution to establish an independent commission to undertake investigations into the crash to ascertain the possible causes of the hurtle of the Mystere Falcon 50.
“The Cabinet has endorsed the Prime Minister’s Order establishing a Commission of Inquiry led by experts to investigate the March 6, 1994 crash of the Falcon 50 Reg. No. 9XR-NN, reads the first minute of the March 28 meeting contained in a statement signed by Information Minister Prof. Laurent Nkusi.
And, in a related development, although he could not delve into details of the composition of the probe team and the deadline when the Commission would produce its findings, Nkusi told journalists at the closure of a four-day training on investigative journalism at Hotel Gorilla on Thursday that the new Commission would come up with tangible evidence and details about the crash.
“This is a very interesting development. A lot has been said about this incident but this new independent commission will be able to dig out the hidden truth about this crash that has remained a mystery for years,” the Minister said. Reportedly hit by two rockets, the Habyarimana plane crashed as it attempted to land at Kigali International Airport. Subsequently, Hutu extremists and the Interahamwe militia went on a killing spree, targeting ethnic Tutsi and Hutu moderates in a 100-day massacre that claimed over one million lives.
Late last year, Rwanda severed ties with France, after French magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguiere attempted to absolve the French of complicity in the 1994 Genocide by making claims that the Rwanda Patriotic Front/Army (RPF/A) was involved in downing the plane. President Paul Kagame dismissed Bruguiere’s claims and pointed out that the 600 RPF/A forces in Kigali at the time of the crash were confined to the parliamentary building, while tens of thousands of government forces and hundreds of thousands of militias more over supported by France manned the airport.
“France with presidential guards of Habyarimana were the ones in charge of security at the Airport and the whole area where the plane crashed. Even when it crashed, it is on record that the UN forces tried to go to the scene immediately to investigate what happened and who was responsible but were denied access by the French and presidential guards,” Kagame told Reuters in an interview last year. And, according to the information minister the probe commission will unearth what the French and Habyarimana’s presidential guard were hiding from the UN.
Editor's Note: Finally, the New Times has posted their version of this story that has circulated for 2 days. The 600 RPA soldiers at the old Parliament building were only a portion of the hundreds of RPA in civilian cloths who infiltrated the city by bus from Kampala (see Remigius Kintu and others). Arms were snuck into the capital for them amongst wood piles driven right through UNAMIR checkpoints and in trucks disguised to look like Red Cross vehicles. Notice the notion that it is insinuated the plane may not have been shot down by missiles. (Tens of thousands of FAR and hundreds of thousands of militia at the airport????? Impossible.). Now, instead of the 800,000 Ibuka reported killed in the Genocide, the number has grown to "over a million." Also the requisite referral to a "crash" several times. UNAMIR had joint patrols at the airport so to say the Presidential Guard and FAR controlled the "whole area" is false. The outcome is already decided because "...the probe commission will unearth what the French and Habyarimana’s presidential guard were hiding from the UN." It is true, however, UNAMIR was turned away from the site by the Rwandan army on the night of the shoot-down.
By Wayne Madsen.
1 April 2007
Intelligence sources in Africa report that the recent rebellion in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by forces loyal to Jean-Pierre Bemba, the warlord who was defeated in the recent presidential election by current President Joseph Kabila, was supported by the U.S. and other Western intelligence services. At least 600 people died in the violence in Congo, which was mainly centered in the capital of Kinshasa. Bemba, the leader of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC), took refuge in the embassy of South Africa after his rebellion was put down by the national army and President Kabila's Republican Guard. Congo's prosecutor general has indicted Bemba for treason and inciting rebellion. A search of MLC storage facilities revealed that Bemba's supporters had been wearing new uniforms of the Congolese National Army to commit atrocities in Kinshasa that would later be blamed on Kabila and the FARDC.
Bemba's asylum in the South African embassy is interesting considering what out sources have told us about South Africa's role in the Bemba rebellion. (It is also interesting considering General Nkundabatware also briefly considered applying for exile in South Africa just before he cut a deal with General Numbi.-Editor) On March 23, 2007, a massive explosion destroyed a Soviet-built warehouse in the Mozambican capital of Maputo. Over 150 people were killed in the explosion and hundreds were wounded. Debris from the explosion was found up to 1 kilometer away from the scene. The explosion was officially blamed on high temperatures in Maputo (93 Fahrenheit -- not unusually hot for the Mozambican capital). However, our sources report that the explosion was set off deliberately by South African mercenaries who had been stealing weapons from the warehouse, including armored-piercing shells, for use in the Bemba coup attempt in DRC and a planned Improvised Explosion Device (IED) assassination attempt against Zimbabwe's embattled President Robert Mugabe. The arms had been warehoused after truce between warring factions in the long Mozambican civil war.
Intelligence sources also reported that before the explosion, four ex-members of the South African Defense Force (SADF), including two pilots, infiltrated Maputo and blew up the arms warehouse after they removed weapons for transport to Zimbabwe and Congo via Zambia. Two of the South Africans have allegedly been linked to the South African mercenary firm Erinys, Ltd. The firm has been contracted to the U.S. occupation forces in Iraq through SASI, a US subcontractor of Erinys Iraq, which, itself, is linked to Ahmad Chalabi and Nour USA Ltd., a firm based in northern Virginia.
Editor's Note: This also casts a different light on why the west was so quick to condemn President Kabila for his use of force against Bemba. It will be interesting to see the response of the Walloonian Belgians like Louis Michel who have become President Kabila's closest international backers.
The theft of weapons from arms warehouses in countries that collect such arms in post-civil war buy back programs and then blowing up the warehouses to cover up the thefts is not limited to Mozambique. Wayne Madsen Report (WMR) discovered a similar incident in Cambodia. On March 2, WMR reported on a series of warehouses in Cambodia collecting bought-back weapons from ex-members of the Khmer Rouge that have also been targeted by international arms smugglers: "Storage facilities with so-called 'enhanced security' were constructed in Phnom Penh (several facilities), Battambang, Pailin, Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap, Banteay Srei, Preah Vihear, and Kampong Thom. The suspicions about Israeli involvement in smuggling stored Khmer Rouge and other weapons were heightened in 1999 after a mysterious fire destroyed the Cambodian military weapons storage facility at the Ream Naval Base near Sihanoukville.
According to a New Zealand intelligence officer in Cambodia, the depot was destroyed by an Israeli squad after it was revealed they were smuggling weapons from the facility to guerrilla groups throughout Southeast Asia, including the small "Free Vietnam Movement" battling Vietnam's central government and Hmong guerrillas battling Laotian government forces. The Vietnamese became even more suspicious about the role of the depot after weapons from the Ream warehouse were seized by Cambodian and Vietnamese police at the Bavet border checkpoint. The weapons were destined for guerrillas of the Free Vietnam Movement. WMR visited Phnom Penh, Cambodia and discovered that the Mossad and Cambodian criminal syndicate allies continue to obtain bought-back Cambodian weapons from Cambodian government warehouses and are selling them to guerrilla groups throughout Asia, including Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers, anti-Laotian Hmongs, the small anti-communist Free Vietnam Movement, and Burmese tribal guerrilla groups."
WMR has learned from African intelligence sources that Israeli intelligence assets were also involved in the transfer of weapons from the Maputo arms warehouse to Zimbabwe and the DRC. (Which would explain Mugabe's brutal crackdown of opposition parties-Editor.)
A US State Department source has informed us that an Indian general recently confirmed our earlier report about the smuggling of arms by Israeli intelligence assets from Cambodia to the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka.
March 30, 2007 (PARIS) — A raid by French paratroops on rebels in the Central African Republic (CAR) destroyed a town and forced 2,000 civilians to flee into neighbouring Darfur.
Details of the three-day operation - the extent of which had been kept secret by the French army chief of staff - were obtained by The Independent after a United Nations emergency mission travelled to Birao, which is on the Sudan border.
"We found a ghost town," said Toby Lanzer, UN humanitarian affairs co-ordi-nator for CAR. "It was like Grozny or parts of Mogadishu. Seventy per cent of buildings were burnt and only about 600 civilians were left. They were in a dazed state. They have nothing.
"We urgently need to carry out aerial reconnaissance to find out where the rest of the population has gone. We have traced 2,000 to camps in Darfur. That people should choose to flee into Darfur gives a measure of how terrified they must have been.’’
France has a defence agreement with CAR and practically runs the coun-try’s army. It has previously argued that its operations are aimed at preventing the spread of the Darfur crisis.
But the Birao operation, which began on 4 March, seems to have been ordered to evacuate 18 French soldiers stationed in the town since December.
Mirage F1 jets bombed rebel pick-up trucks and dozens of paratroops were airdropped into the combat zone.
The French soldiers who were in the town had been supporting CAR troops in ousting the Union des Forces Democratiques pour le Rassemblement (UFDR), a rebel group believed to draw fighters from CAR, Chad and Sudan.
Mr Lanzer said: "It was France’s first major airborne para drop into a war zone since 19 May 1978, when the Foreign Legion jumped on Kolwezi, Zaire, to free European hostages from rebel hands."
He added that 150 French troops had remained at the site.
It is not suggested that the elite French troops burnt Birao to the ground. but given the pattern of conflict in the region, it is likely that much of the torching of homes, schools and a hospital was carried out by CAR soldiers who could not have recaptured the town without the help of the French.
Mr Lanzer did not wish to speculate. "It is not helpful to play the blame game. Our mission is humanitarian and it is urgent. We need to trace the thousands of civilians who have disappeared, and save lives."
The UN emergency relief co-ordinator, John Holmes, is touring the region and was expected in CAR yesterday. He may travel to Birao.
Unlike the Sudanese government, which is hostile to UN intervention, the CAR President Francois Bozize - who ousted President Ange-Felix Patasse and came to power four years ago - welcomes international interest in his country’s problems.
The President claims the UFDR is, like the Darfur militias, backed by Sudan. However, others say the rebels are disgruntled, former allies of Mr Bozize who helped him in the coup that removed Mr Patasse, but were not given government jobs.
March 30, 2007 (LONDON) — White Nile, the controversial British oil explorer headed by ex-England cricketer Phil Edmonds, saw its volatile shares rise 3p to 128p today after an upbeat update saying that it would begin oil drilling operations next month.
It its press statement (see below), the company said it has identified numerous drill targets at its flagship 67,000 sq km Block Ba in southern Sudan, and prioritized four drilling locations for development, with a drill rig on site and due to spud its first well in April.
The explorer, which has been involved in a war of words with French oil major Total over the rights to White Nile’s 67,000 sq km exploration block in southern Sudan, today reported a widening of losses to GBP700,000 in the six months to the end of December.
“With little proven data on the potential size of its reserves, the shares have been the subject of a two-way pull between industry backers like the RAB Capital hedge fund and bear raider Simon Cawkwell.” commented the Evening Standard today.
White Nile Ltd Interim Results
LONDON, March 30 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — White Nile Ltd (’White Nile’ or ’the Company’) (AIM: WNL), the AIM listed oil and gas exploration company, announces its results for six months ended 31 December 2006.
- Seismic interpretation highlights multiple targets
- Four drilling locations prioritised for development
- Drill rig on site near Padak in Block Ba in Southern Sudan - First well to spud in April 2007.
It gives me great pleasure to report on the Company’s progress towards fulfilling its objective of becoming a leading independent oil producer focused on Southern Sudan and the immediate region.
During the period under review we have made great progress at our flagship project, the 67,000 sq km Block Ba in Southern Sudan. Having implemented and interpreted an extensive seismic programme, we have identified numerous drill targets and our first drill rig is on site and due to spud in April 2007.
In the last 18 months, White Nile has worked with leading oil industry consultants and operatives and conducted an extensive seismic acquisition programme on parts of Block Ba, in order to advance the block to production. Following the interpretation of high-density 2D seismic, we have identified numerous drill targets and prioritised four where we believe the productive Muglad Basin extends into the concession area, including one large structure of over 50 sq km. The contracted drill rig has been imported from Europe and is now on-site ready for the first well to be spudded in April 2007. This occasion signifies an important milestone for White Nile and underlines the significant progress the Company is making.
In addition to proving and developing the oil potential of Block Ba in Southern Sudan, White Nile is also focussed on building a significant community development programme to ensure the local communities benefit appropriately during the whole life of White Nile’s operations. The Company has taken a proactive role in the education of local workers, the provision of general tools and equipment to the community, logistical support to Government of Southern Sudan (’GOSS’) officials in the immediate area and the development of infrastructure. White Nile employed over 1,000 local Southern Sudanese people to help repair 20 km of man made dyke between Jalle and Maar. Furthermore, it has invested significant sums in a land mine clearance operation undertaken by The Development Initiative in the specific areas of seismic operation and on key roads and villages primarily in the Bor/Padak area.
The Company has commissioned an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (’ESIA’) study, which determines the environmental, social, technical and economic aspects of developing the oil potential of the concession area. This includes the local infrastructure of the area, namely the construction of access roads, accommodation camps and eventually an oil refinery, processing plant and pipeline. The ESIA is being carried out by ESF Consultants, a Kenyan based independent environmental management consultancy.
White Nile’s position with regard to the exploration and development rights over Block Ba and the rival claim by the French oil company, Total E&P Soudan S.A (’Total’), remains the same. Following assurances from the GOSS that it had the right to issue exploration and development concessions on land in Southern Sudan, the Company signed an agreement over two years ago with the state-owned petroleum company, Nile Petroleum Corp (’NilePet’), for the exploration and development of Block Ba. In that transaction, NilePet received a 50% shareholding in White Nile in return for a 60% interest in Block Ba, with the remaining 40% interest being retained by NilePet.
In recent weeks Total has mounted a public-relations attack on White Nile and has reaffirmed its suggestion that it has rights to develop Block Ba under the terms of an agreement with the government in Khartoum in 1980. However, the autonomous GOSS has transferred all the non producing oil concessions in Southern Sudan to its state-owned petroleum company, NilePet, which has the power to negotiate development agreements, such as that which exists with White Nile. In this context, NilePet has, in addition, entered into an agreement with Ascom a European oil production company, for the exploration and development of Block 5b, which is contiguous to Block Ba in Southern Sudan.
Total has also brought into question whether White Nile has the ability to explore and subsequently develop an area with such high potential. The Company’s structure lends itself to efficiency and good practice. It is able to choose from among the best in the world within their respective fields in seismic, demining, security, drilling and pipeline and refinery development, while taking into account the local environment and your board has no doubt over White Nile’s ability to develop Block Ba.
Within 18 months White Nile has conducted seismic acquisition on parts of Block Ba. The interpretation of this seismic data has yielded a number of prospects, three of which the Company intends to drill this year.
The Joint Study with the Ethiopian Government’s Petroleum Operations Division over the prospective East African Rift system in the southwest of the country is progressing well. On-going geological and geophysical work over this emerging exploration play has so far yielded positive results with detailed gravity surveys indicating prospective depths of sediments in the northern extension of the Turkana Rift system. Support for these results has been obtained from complementary magneto-telluric (’MT’) soundings undertaken in early 2006. Follow-up MT work is expected to reinforce this interpretation.
Preliminary geological studies utilising apatite fission track analyses has indicated two possible phases of rifting, which support White Nile’s exploration play of superimposed Cretaceous and Tertiary rifts systems with a concomitant enhanced petroleum potential. In addition, the Joint Study Area is to benefit from a regional airborne gravity and magnetic survey that will also cover highly prospective areas of adjacent Kenya and South Sudan. These are expected to highlight new areas of prospectivity within the region.
White Nile remains focussed on the development of its oil concessions in Southern Sudan. The Company is still in the exploration stage and therefore is not producing revenue. In line with expectations, the Company is reporting a pre-tax loss of GBP699,200 (2006: loss of GBP515,434).
The past six months have seen many positive developments for White Nile. With our committed Board and management team, continued support from the GOSS, local authorities and people, and with the infrastructure and resources in place, we believe that White Nile will become a leading oil producing company in Southern Sudan and the immediate area.
We have strong connections with many industry specialists in seismic, de-mining, security, drilling, environmental consultancy and pipeline and refinery development to bring Block Ba eventually into oil production, whilst taking into account the local environment, people and development of Southern Sudan. With the spudding of our first drill target scheduled for April, we have reached the next phase in our development. We are looking forward to the next six months and the exciting developments that we believe will come from the 2007 drilling development programme.
White Nile’s structure enables the owners of the resource, in this case the GOSS and the People of Southern Sudan, not only significant control but also, through their shareholding in White Nile, access to world capital markets and the ability to bring in technical expertise to develop Block Ba.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank most particularly the people and the Government of Southern Sudan and the local communities, the real owners of the resources of Block Ba, for their help, cooperation and support. I would also like to thank the management team, shareholders and all those involved in the Company who have supported and believed in White Nile’s cause, and helped the Company to reach the position it is in today.
Phil Edmonds Chairman
UNAUDITED PROFIT AND LOSS ACCOUNT FOR THE SIX MONTHS ENDED 31 DECEMBER 2006
Six months Six months Year ended ended 31 Dec ended 31 Dec 30 June 2006 2005 2006 GBP GBP GBP
TURNOVER - - -
Net operating expenses ( 795,952) ( 775,110) ( 1,852,380)
OPERATING (LOSS) ( 795,952) ( 775,110) ( 1,852,380)
Interest receivable 100,587 259,676 439,372
Interest payable ( 3,835) - ( 4,569)
(LOSS) ON ORDINARY ACTIVITIES BEFORE TAXATION ( 699,200) ( 515,434) ( 1,417,577)
Taxation - - -
(LOSS) ON ORDINARY ACTIVITIES AFTER TAXATION ( 699,200) ( 515,434) ( 1,417,577)
(LOSS) PER SHARE
Basic and diluted (.219p) (.163p) (.447p)
UNAUDITED BALANCE SHEET AT 31 DECEMBER 2006 31 December 30 June 31 December 2006 2005 2006
GBP GBP GBP FIXED
Intangible assets 20,453,538 13,636,597 16,855,039
Tangible assets 728,479 40,072 227,907 21,182,017 13,676,669 17,082,946
Debtors 2,331,426 410,020 340,137
Cash at bank and in hand 10,925,879 9,467,927 6,049,114 13,257,305 9,877,947 6,389,251
Creditors: Amounts falling due within one year ( 1,064,503) ( 70,604) ( 974,728)
NET CURRENT ASSETS 12,192,802 9,807,343 5,414,523
NET ASSETS 33,374,819 23,484,012 22,497,469
CAPITAL AND RESERVES
Called up share capital 329,000 317,000 317,000 Share premium account 35,556,635 24,076,485 23,992,085 Profit and loss account ( 2,510,816) ( 909,473) ( 1,811,616)
EQUITY SHAREHOLDERS’ FUNDS 33,374,819 23,484,012 22,497,469
UNAUDITED CASH FLOW STATEMENT FOR THE SIX MONTHS ENDED 31 DECEMBER 2006
Six months Six months Year ended Ended Dec ended 31 30 June 2006 Dec 2005 2006 GBP GBP GBP
Cash outflow from operating activities ( 666,663) (1,965,650) ( 2,052,571)
Returns on investment and servicing of finance 96,752 259,676 434,803
Capital expenditure and financial investment (4,129,874) (3,611,608) ( 7,034,227)
CASH OUTFLOW BEFORE USE OF LIQUID RESOURCES AND FINANCING (4,699,785) (5,317,582) ( 8,651,995)
Management of liquid resources (5,000,000) (5,489,316) 10,525,153
Financing 9,576,550 ( 5,450) ( 89,850)
(DECREASE)/INCREASE IN CASH IN THE PERIOD ( 123,235) 166,284 1,783,308
RECONCILIATION OF NET CASH FLOW TO MOVEMENT IN NET FUNDS
Six months Six months Year ended Ended Dec ended 31 30 June 2006 Dec 2005 2006 GBP GBP GBP
(Decrease)/Increase in cash in the period ( 123,235) 166,284 1,783,308
Cash outflow/(inflow) from increase/(decrease) in liquid resources 5,000,000 (5,489,316) ( 10,525,153)
MOVEMENT IN NET FUNDS IN THE PERIOD 4,876,765 (5,323,032) ( 8,741,845)
NET FUNDS AT BEGINNING OF PERIOD 6,049,114 14,790,959 14,790,959
NET FUNDS AT END OF PERIOD 10,925,879 9,467,927 6,049,114
1. These interim financial statements do not constitute statutory accounts of the company within the meaning of Section 240 of the Companies Act 1985 and should be read in conjunction with the Annual Report for 2006. Statutory Accounts for the year ended 30th June 2006, which were prepared under accounting practices generally accepted in the UK, have been reported on by the auditors. The report of the auditors was unqualified and did not contain statements under section 237(2) or (3) of the Companies Act 1985.
2. (LOSS) PER ORDINARY SHARE
Basic and diluted loss per share is calculated by reference to the (loss) for the financial period and the weighted average number of shares in issue in the period of 318,704,918 (six months to 31 December 2005: 316,885,870, year ended 30 June 2006: 316,942,466).
SOURCE White Nile Limited
30 March, 2007
30 March 2007
The U.S. Treasury Department Friday named seven companies and three individuals who have directly contributed to the conflict in Congo.
Treasury said the companies and people helped supply arms directly or supported the militias operating in the country, and said their assets in the United States have been frozen as a result. The department also banned any U.S. company or citizen from doing business with the entities on the list.
Specifically, three companies have been found to be owned or acting on behalf of international arms dealer Viktor Bout: Compagnie Aerienne des Grands Lacs, Great Lakes Business Company, and Cargo Freight International.
Meanwhile, two companies -- Butembo Airlines and Congocom Trading House -- were found to be owned or controlled by Kambale Kisoni, a Congolese gold trader who has violated the international arms embargo imposed on warring parties in the Congo conflict. Another Congolese gold dealer, Dieudonne Ozia Mazio, is being designated for his role in similar activity.
In addition, Uganda's two largest gold exporting firms, Uganda Commercial Impex and Machanga Ltd., were designated for purchasing gold from designated Congolese gold dealers such as Kisoni and Ozia Mazio, as well as for providing direct financial support to the militias.
The third individual to be named was Straton Musoni, who is the first vice president of the Forces Democratiques pour la Liberation du Rwanda, which is largely made up of Hutu extremists who led the Rwandan genocide. The group is now impeding the disarmament and repatriation of combatants in Congo.
March 29, 2007
Published on the Web on March 29, 2007
By Hilaire Kayembe
Ten unidentified men in military uniforms recently burglarized the convent of the catholic parish of Tchomba, Rutshuru Territory, in North-Kivu Province, located on the road to Bunagana, a frontier station of Uganda, ACP STATE previously reported.
After tying up the occupants and shooting at Abbe Richard, priest of the parish, the soldiers seized mobile telephones, other valuables, and an important amount of money. The priest was taken to the hospital in Rwanguba to be transferred successively to the hospital from DOCS in Goma, then to King Fasial Hospital of Kigali in Rwanda, where his health seems really alarming according to the Christians of his parish.
Editor's Note: This was too far south to be FOCA.
Guinea-Bissau Prime Minister Aristides Gomes said on Thursday he had resigned after his government lost a no-confidence vote in parliament last week.
The move was the latest twist in the most recent political crisis to shake the small west African state, a former Portuguese colony and one of the poorest nations in the world.
It has been torn by coups and uprisings since its independence in 1974.
"After the no-confidence vote passed by parliament on March 19, I sent a letter yesterday (on Wednesday) to the head of state to inform him that I am resigning my post as prime minister," Gomes told a news conference in the capital Bissau.
"It's now up to him to decide," he added.
Vieira, who won a 2005 election that returned him to power in Guinea-Bissau after he was overthrown in 1998-?99 civil war, must now choose whether to accept the resignation of Gomes, who was a political ally.
The main political parties that passed the no-confidence vote have threatened to call street protests on Friday if Vieira does not negotiate the appointment of a new premier with them.
Vieira does have another option, to dissolve parliament and call early elections, but diplomats see this as unlikely as the cash-strapped country, whose main export is cashew nuts, cannot afford to organise nationwide polls.
30 March 2007
Editor's Note: Now that he has consolidated power, I fear President Kabila is showing his true colors. While Senator Bemba is not an easy person to come to an agreement with, The shoot first tactics of the Garde Presidentiel has caused tremendous suffering for the Congolese people twice now in Kinshasa. This will polarize the European Community, who will not want to recognize the Congo as democratic without political opposition parties (although they do so in Rwanda).
Government troops have ransacked the party offices of Democratic Republic of Congo opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba, his supporters said on Thursday. It houses both the offices of Bemba's Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC) and three radio and television stations he owns.
Soldiers had carried off furniture from the building, said local residents and traders.
Members of the Republican Guard stationed outside the city centre premises on Thursday barred entry to an AFP journalist.
MLC activists and employees of Bemba's stations told AFP they too had been prevented from entering.
Canal Congo TV (CCTV), Canal Kin TV (CKTV) and Radio Liberte Kinshasa (Ralik) have been off air since just before last week's clashes between government troops and Bemba's militia.
Troops moved into the building after the fighting last Thursday and Friday in Kinshasa, when 2 000 government troops overcame 700 fighters loyal to Bemba.
"We are living in hiding," Maurice Bokoko, the head of CCTV and Radio Ralik, told AFP.
"We have been told our offices have been pillaged and ransacked by the soldiers, but we can't go to check ourselves.
"Our stations were taken off the air on Wednesday, March 21, the day before the fighting," he added.
"Fortunately the staff were not on the premises when the shooting started."
Bokoko said they would be meeting the military prosecutor on Friday to get access to the building, assess the damage and file a complaint.
Reporters without Borders
The French media rights group Reporters without Borders (RSF) meanwhile expressed concern on Thursday about the fate of ten of the 63 employees at Bemba's stations.
An RSF statement said they had been in hiding since the government cut the stations' signals last week after one station broadcast an interview with Bemba in which he accused the army high command of corruption.
Bemba had claimed in a Lingala-language interview, the language used in western DRC, that the army high command was skimming off 500m Congolese francs ($885 000) from the military payroll every month.
Bemba's radio and TV stations employ 63 journalists, technicians and administrative staff.
Bemba himself remains at the South African embassy, where he took refuge when last week's fighting started.
Talks are underway with the DRC government to allow the ex-rebel leader and former vice president fly out to Portugal for treatment to an old leg injury.
Last week's violence broke after Bemba refused to allow his militia to be integrated into the army.
Late on Wednesday he said that his forces were beginning to join the regular army, on his orders.
On Tuesday, 14 EU ambassadors condemned the government's excessive use of force in the fighting, which according to their estimates killed between 200 and 500 people, many of them civilians.
30 March 2007
More than 18,000 civilians have fled since Tuesday from the locations of Runingu and Mikamba (25km north of Uvira, South Kivu), from fear of fighting and violence by militants loyal to the dissident army major Michel Rukunda, as learned by MISNA from humanitarian sources. The villagers are concerned over the stalling of negotiations between the political-military authorities of South Kivu and Banyamulenge militia, who are objecting their integration into the unified Congolese armed forces (FARDC). During the negotiations, the militia had camped out in the hills around the two villages, but now have disappeared causing the people to far the worst. The displaced, including 13,000 from Runingu and 4,000 from Mikamba, took off with their belongings headed for the nearby locations of Sange and Kiliba-Uvira. Major Rukunda had pledged to return to military barracks last December, but at the end of January his men engaged in clashes with regular forces in the Minembwe area.
30 March 2007
Sixty-six children were killed in eastern Uganda during an army operation against suspected cattle rustlers, UK charity Save the Children says.
They were shot by soldiers, run over by armoured vehicles or crushed by stampeding animals last month.
The aid group said it had not found physical evidence of the alleged deaths in Karamoja, but had consistent reports after interviewing some 200 people.
The army denied the allegations, saying only adults were killed in the raids.
The BBC's Sarah Grainger in Uganda says there has been an increase in violence in Karamoja since the army began its disarmament programme in May last year.
"I saw many children killed, including my own son," one woman in Kaputh village near Kothido town told the BBC.
I ran away like many people and when I came back both of my young sons were missing
"He was with the livestock, trying to untie them so they could escape the firing. But he got crushed by the animals as they tried to run away."
Other villagers said the raid began at 0800 on 12 February.
A village elder greeted the army forces thinking they were carrying out a disarmament exercise, but was shot dead.
"I ran away like many people and when I came back both of my young sons were missing. Up till now I cannot find them so I think they were killed," another man said.
Army spokesman in Karamoja Lieutenant Henry Obbo said a five-day disarmament exercise had begun in the area on 10 February.
But when some warriors resisted the operation they opened fire on the army.
He said 52 warriors and four soldiers were killed in the incident, but no children were involved.
Save the Children has called for an independent investigation into the events at Kaputh.
"Reports of children being killed in indiscriminate, illegal and inhumane ways is absolutely devastating. Such allegations must be fully investigated and those involved brought to account," Save the Children's Valter Tinderholt said, Reuters news agency reports.
Nairobi - Ugandan army raids in the country's troubled northeast killed up to 66 children who were shot or crushed by armored vehicles and stampeding animals, aid workers said on Friday, citing witnesses.
Children's rights charity Save the Children said it has met with 256 people who reported the deaths during raids by the Ugandan People's Defence Force (UPDF) on a cattle ranch in Karamoja on Feburary 12.
"Reports of children being killed in indiscriminate, illegal and inhumane ways is absolutely devastating. Such allegations must be fully investigated and those involved brought to account," said Valter Tinderholt, country director of Save the Children in Uganda.
The army spokesperson in Karamoja, Lieutenant Henry Obbo, strenuously denied the allegations, saying the reports were "misinformation" by people who had never been to the site of the alleged incident.
"The area where the battle took place is in the wilderness," he said. "There are no women, children or habitations for miles around, so how could we kill them?"
Karamoja is an impoverished area near Uganda's northeast border with Kenya that has been a trafficking point for small arms from Somalia. Cattle rustlers buy many of the weapons to carry out raids on villages.
For several years, President Yoweri Museveni's government has been waging an aggressive campaign to disarm the Karamojong. Last year, the United Nations Development Program halted a voluntary disarmament program in the region amid reports of rampant rights abuses by government troops.
Save the Children called for an independent, international investigation into the reports. The charity also said it received reports that land mines were laid after the raids, creating further risks for people in the area.
Save the Children and government officials met about the issue in Kampala on Thursday, the charity said, calling the meeting productive.
Editor's Note: Ugandan sources I interviewed claim the whole disarmament campaign is a load of bullocks. Large gold deposits and nearby oil deposits have been discovered in the Karamonja region and the Ugandan Government is eager to exploit it. The "disarmament" campaign is reported to be a cover to drive the Karamojong off their land. By now, some arms have indeed found their way in, but the arms procurement was reportedly a reactionary move to defend themselves. I'm told some of the people in the region only have crude weapons like a bow and arrow for instance.
March 29, 2007
Posted to the web March 29, 2007
Cote d'Ivoire's efforts to take control of its peace process took a step forward on Wednesday as the United Nations Security Council endorsed a change of government, but diplomats told IRIN the presence of international troops monitoring a line of control between north and south would not be radically changed.
The decision by the United Nations, which has backed several previous peace plans for Côte d'Ivoire that have never been fully respected by either side in the conflict, is a major vote of confidence in Cote d'Ivoire's capability in consolidating peace on its own.
Cote d'Ivoire, once among the richest and most stable country in West Africa, has been divided into a rebel held north and government controlled south since a brief civil war in 2002.
Last year the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1721 that effectively diminished President Laurent Gbagbo's powers and boosted those of a UN-backed interim prime minister, Charles Konan Banny.
But according to the terms of the Ouagadougou Accord, negotiated between the government and Forces Nouvelles rebel movement earlier this month, former rebel leader Guillaume Soro has been appointed prime minister.
The Council endorsed the agreement facilitated by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regional organisation and Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, "and calls upon the Ivorian parties to implement it fully, in good faith and within the timetable set up in the agreement," according to the Council's presidential statement.
The Ouagadougou Accord supercedes the council's demand that elections take place in Cote d'Ivoire by 31 October, according to the statement.
"We are very happy that we reached this Ouagadougou Accord and we now have the full support of the Security Council to implement this agreement and also the support of the Security Council for the nomination of Guillaume Soro as Prime Minister," said Ivorian Ambassador to the UN Alcide Djedje.
France, a major player on the ground and within the UN Security Council, announced last week that of the 3,500 French troops currently in place in Zone of Confidence, the buffer zone dividing the government controlled south and rebel-held north, it would withdraw only around 500 troops.
UN peacekeepers from the UN Mission in Cote d'Ivoire (ONUCI) patrol alongside the French military, and French Press Counselor Axel Cruau told IRIN that France will work in tandem with the council and not make any moves independently in Cote d'Ivoire, including within the zone of confidence.
The Council's statement asks the UN Secretariat for a list of recommendations by 15 May on the role that the United Nations should play to support the implementation of the peace process.
Cruau added that the zone will not be lifted until after the Secretariat submits its new report to the council. "The confidence zone has been established by resolution, so it has to be lifted by a resolution," Cruau said.
[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]
March 30, 2007 Posted to the web March 30, 2007 By Endale AssefaAddis Ababa
Controlling the rapid growth of GDP registered in the past four years is not a viable measure to solve the prevailing inflation as some people think, the government will in fact endeavor to maintain the current trend , Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said on Thursday.
While presenting the half year strategic plan report to the 2nd regular session of the parliament, Meles said putting the GDP in check will not help to solve neither the housing problem nor the high price increases on consumer goods in urban areas.
For, he said, the reasons for the increase of price in consumer goods are very different from that of rising housing problem in the city.
The Premier said the government was doing all in its capacity to curb the problems but luck of standard in housing, coupled with short of cements in the country retarded the government's bid for an enhanced construction of residential quarters to mitigate the problemsin the city.
Speaking of recent price hikein consumer goods , Meles said he believed sustaining the growth of the Agricultural sector and increasing supply of Agricultural products would gradually help stabilize the market.
The Premier also indicated that the government was undertaking various activities to control the sky rocketing grain price and calm consumer woes by interfering in the business of working with demand and supply.
He said as part of that effort the government will make available, 1.5 million quintals.
Out of this amount, two hundred thousand quintals are obtained from donors and the remaining amount will come from stock in the local market, Meles indicated.
Meles rejected as a solution to the current economic problem a suggession from an opposition MP for the government to affect salary pay rise.
He said unless "we" could find the correct solutions to the problems like housing and shooting prices, a mere rise in salary will not do any good.
"In fact, it will aggravate the already delicate market situation," Meles said adding the government was currently working on the means of mitigating the problem.
Meles also spoke at length on outstanding issues revolving around the peace and security in the region.
The Premiere reiterated that Somalia's peace and security was very important to Ethiopia and that his government would do every thing possible to ensure pease and security prevails in the volatile neighbouring country.
To this end, Meles said, Ethiopia will continue supporting the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia politically and militarily for Ethiopia will be the very country to"feel the burn", should peace efforts in Somalia fail.
"Ethiopia and its people are the very country and the very people that could benefit from peace and security in Somalia than any other country, Meles said justifying the need to continue the support to Somalia.
"Similarly, it is Ethiopia and its people that absence of peace and security there will negatively affect the most." Some opposition MPs strongly argued the country must not stay in Somalia any longer as, they say, it can not afford the expenses involved.
The premier also indicated Ethiopia was set to completely withdraw forces from Somali shortly but will find other means of backing the weak government.
"Around two third of our troops have withdrawn from Somalia so far. The remaining will soon pull out from that country," Meles indicated.
Responding to a question on why the country was not pulling out forces as he, assured the Parliament in his last report, Meles said dalliance in the the deployment of AMISOM (African Mission In Somalia) was the reason.
Meanwhile, Meles accused the Eritrean government of trying to destabilize Ethiopia by arming rebel groups and sending them in to the country mainly at the border areas of the two countries.
He indicated that the Eritrean governmnet, which Ethiopia says is responsible for the recent hostage of eight Ethiopians and five Britons, was continuing with its terrorist acts.
The Premiere asked the international community, particularly the UN, to give due attention to Eritrea's terrorist activities intended to creat chaos in the region .
Meles said this wicked act on the part of the reclusive state included mobilizing the UIC remnants and giving shelter for international terrorist groups.
The Premiere underscored that his government will continue its effort to peacefully resolve the kidnapping drama to ensure the safe and unconditional rekease of the eight Ethiopians Eritrea is holding hostage.
"The Counsil of Ministers presided by the head of state Paul Kagama adopted the decree of the Prime Minister instituting an independent committee of experts » charged with investigating the bombing « of April 6, 1994 against the Falcon 50 plane, » which carried Habyarimana, the government-controlled radio station Radio Rwanda reported Thursday morning.
President Habyarimana’s plane was attacked by missiles during the evening of April 6, 1994 while it was landing in Kigali upon its return from a meeting of heads of states in the sub-region in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira also was also killed as a result of this bombing.
At the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) based in Arusha, Tanzania, the Chief Prosecutor, the Gamibian Hassan Bubacar Jallow, repeated that the bombing was not part of the United Nations’ tribunal’s mandate. At the end of last year, the French antiterrorism judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere, after many years of investigation, found current president Paul Kagame as the primary person responsible for the assassination. Kagame has continued to deny responsibility for the assassination of his predecessor. The judge immediately issued arrest warrants against 9 Rwandans, which led Kigali to break all diplomatic relations with Paris.
ER/PB/KD © Hirondelle News Agency
Volume 12, issue #3 - Tuesday, February 13, 2007
18-01-07 Heritage Oil & Gas, the operator of Tullow Oil's exploration well in Hoima district in western Uganda, wants a 270 sq km of land for its activities around Lake Albert. The company said on January 15, that as part of the company's accelerated work in the country, the company would need the land in the first half of this year. "As part of an accelerated work programme in Uganda, the joint venture partners are planning to acquire approximately 270 sq km of 3D seismic over the Kingfisher structure commencing in the first half of 2007. Options for further drilling of the Kingfisher prospect and other prospects in Lake Albert are being appraised," the company said.
Heritage is the operator and holds a 50 % interest in Block 3A, which has an area of 1,991 sq km. Heritage is also operator of and holds a 50 % interest in Block 1, which has an area of 4,285 sq km and is located to the north of Block 3A in the Albert Basin. Most of the land in the oil zone is community owned and it is not yet clear how the government of Uganda will work out the land acquisitions for Heritage Oil. The company has also announced the presence of hydrocarbons in three zones totalling approximately 40 metres in the Kingfisher-1A well. According to a November 2006 progressive company report, a secondary objective of the Kingfisher-1 well flow-tested 4,120 barrels of oil per day from two zones perforated over an interval between 1,783 and 1,795 metres.
The move is likely to give Uganda an edge among the other oil producing countries on the continent when the exploration finally takes off. According to the statement, following the encouraging result in the secondary objective of the Kingfisher-1 well, the partners commenced drilling the Kingfisher-1A sidetrack, which aimed to step-out into the basin to test the primary exploration objectives of the well and penetrate as much of the deeper sedimentary section as possible to a maximum depth of 4,000 metres.
The statement said the Kingfisher-1A well has been successfullycased to 2,502 metres and drilled to a depth of 2,962 metres. However, Tullow holds the other 50 % interests in Blocks 3A and 1. Tullow is a leading independent oil and gas, exploration and production group.
Source: The Monitor
Volume 12, issue #3 - Tuesday, February 13, 2007
18-01-07 The West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP) Project is to start service delivery by 31 March, official sources said. The sources said this was one of the outcomes of the mini-summit in Abuja, by Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, Yayi Boni of Benin and Faure Gnassingbe of Togo.
The WAGP project, run by the West African Gas Pipeline Company, is a regional initiative, which involves piping Nigeria’s natural gas to consumers in Benin, Togo and Ghana, and with a planned extension to other Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The aim is to make gas, a major source of energy available and affordable toward boosting the economic development of the sub-region. The project, estimated to cost more than $ 500 mm, is expected to last for more than 30 years.
The SPLA second infantry division completed training in Owinny-Kibul area, was graduated by the president of southern Sudan and has been redeployed to potential volatile areas across south Sudan.
The eight brigade of the SPLA second division is being deployed to Western Equatoria State and other forces are being deployed to Torit in Eastern Equatoria, Central Equatoria, Upper Nile State and Bahr al Ghazal states.
There are a lot of the SPLA forces moving to their areas of deployment, Kuol said, adding that the LRA took advantage when these forces were in training. The basic aim of the redeployed forces, Kuol adds, is to protect the people.
According to the army, two groups of the LRA exist at the previous LRA Uganda peace talks agreed assembly point at Owinyi Kibul: one is Sudanese and the other one is Ugandan. "Certain Sudanese communities have joined the LRA from Magwi and Torit areas, the army spokesman said, and they are living on looting."
"These LRA looters are creating havoc and there are complaints that the local populations are hiding those people. It is the same people who looted villagers and when the SPLM comes, they also keep on hiding them."
Kuol said people should report these elements to the SPLA. "Security of southern Sudan is a collective responsibility of all of us, he said. "People should help the SPLA to identify those elements among the citizens."
"The LRA looted a village 10 miles south of Maridi town on Sunday 25 March and the SPLA Joint Integrated Unit (JIU) are pursuing the looters", Kuol said. "Our forces are ready to push and bring those looters, either LRA Ugandan or LRA Sudanese, and bring them to book."
"The United States joins United Nations Special Envoy Jan Eliasson and African Union Special Envoy Salim Ahmed Salim in calling for an impartial investigation of last weekend’s attack on Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) facilities in Khartoum and the killing of a SLM senior commander near Nyala, South Darfur," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said in a statement.
"We abhor these senseless acts of violence that undermine the Darfur Peace Agreement," he said.
The agreement "is the path forward for providing a peaceful resolution to the Darfur crisis and for ending the suffering of innocent civilians," he said in a statement.
Former Darfur rebels said on Monday a senior commander was killed in an ambush in the troubled Sudanese region at the weekend on the same day as a gunbattle claimed 11 lives, a new blow to the peace deal.
"The United States regrets the loss of life and hopes an investigation results in a full and transparent accounting of events, which will lead to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators," McCormack said.
SLM officials in Nyala said the attackers were members of the feared Janjaweed, a government-backed Arab militia accused of a spate of human rights abuses in Darfur since the ethnic minority rebels rose up in 2003.
The Darfur ambush came the same day as a gunbattle between SLM supporters and police in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman left 11 dead, including eight rebels and two police.
The clash was the first in the capital between the SLM and the government. It was also the worst violence in the metropolis since riots sparked by the death of southern former rebel leader John Garang in August 2005 killed more than 45 people.
According to the United Nations, at least 200,000 people have been killed and two million displaced since the conflict erupted. Some sources say the death toll is much higher.
In the face of the worsening bloodshed, the Khartoum regime of President Omar al-Beshir faces mounting calls for UN sanctions.
Officials of the long distance truck drivers association, led by the chairman, Mr Nicholos Mbugua, gave the name of the crew shot dead by SPLA soldiers as, Dominic Simiyu, Maina Njiru and a Mr Njuguna.
He said the victims were shot dead 15 kilometres inside Sudan and their bodies are now lying at the Lodwar district hospital.
Was being detained
He said on phone that the crew worked with a transport firm based in Mombasa known as Ali Amin transporters.
Mbugua further claimed that one other driver was being detained after he was accused of carrying a passenger, who later jumped from the moving vehicle and died.
Mbugua said the situation in South Sudan was worrying pointing, out that in the recent past, several such cases of detaining Kenyans have occurred.
Kenyans trucks have been ferrying most of the goods, including relief food, to southern Sudan.
Last year, a crew from Kenya was also detained under similar circumstances but were later released.
Mbugua said following the incidents he held a meeting with the South Sudan Ambassador to Kenya Mr John Andaruga Buku.
29 March, 2007
By Arthur Asiimwe
Rwanda will appoint independent experts to investigate the death of a former president killed when his plane was shot down in an assassination widely seen as the trigger for its 1994 genocide, officials said on Thursday. "Cabinet has agreed to set up an independent commission of experts to investigate the downing of (Juvenal Habyarimana's jet) on April 6, 1994," a government statement said. It did not say when the inquiry would start, and gave no other details.
Kigali severed diplomatic ties with Paris in November after a French judge called for Rwanda's president, former rebel Paul Kagame, to stand trial for killing his predecessor Habyarimana. Kigali slammed the charges as a cover-up for what it said was France's role training soldiers who took part in the three months of massacres in 1994 in which some 800,000 people died. Kagame's government already has a commission holding hearings into claims French forces supported the soldiers and extremists behind the genocide. France denies any wrongdoing by its troops, who were part of a U.N. peacekeeping force. Rwanda says it must acknowledge its role in the slaughter and apologise to Kigali if it wants to resume ties.
Editor's Note: The selectees ought to be interesting. It is apparently independent of the U.N. Also interesting the government-owned New Times and Le Monde have not mentioned the story as of this writing.
Xinhua News Agency
March 29, 2007 (BEIJING) — Chinese top legislator Wu Bangguo Thursday reaffirmed that China will work to expand friendly relations with Sudan.
"Strengthening this relationship is in the interests of the two peoples, and will help promote cooperation between China and Africa and contribute to peace and stability of the region and the world at large," said Wu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC).
During a meeting with Deputy President of the Sudanese National Congress Nafi’a Ali Nafi’a, Wu said President Hu Jintao’s Sudan tour in February had greatly advanced bilateral relations.
Noting that party-to-party exchanges had promoted mutual understanding and friendship, Wu said the Communist Party of China (CPC) would like to expand exchanges and cooperation with the Sudanese National Congress to develop the relations between the two countries.
Nafi’a Ali Nafi’a said Sudan values its relations with China, and will make joint effort to upgrade the reciprocal cooperation and friendly exchanges to a new height.
The Sudan guest is visiting China from March 28 to 31 at the invitation of the CPC.
By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council abolished on Wednesday a requirement for countries to notify it of all arms exports to Rwanda after the African nation said the provision hurt its ability to equip peacekeepers.
A Security Council committee set up to oversee the Rwanda arms embargo said in 1996 that it no longer needed to be notified of arms exports, but the requirement was still contained in a resolution and had led to ambiguity.
A new Security Council resolution on Wednesday terminated the notification provision effective immediately.
The resolution also stressed "the need for states in the region to ensure that arms and related material delivered to them are not diverted to or used by illegal armed groups."
Rwanda had accused the Democratic Republic of Congo of supporting Rwandan Hutu rebels in eastern Congo, and in turn Rwanda was accused of arming anti-government militia in the Congo.
Global rights groups said in October that despite a U.N. arms embargo on Congo since 2003, rebels in the Northeast were found to have arms and munitions from Russia, China, Greece, Serbia, South Africa and the United States.
In a letter to the Security Council earlier this month, Rwanda's U.N. envoy Joseph Nsengimana said Kigali believed there were politically motivated attempts to revive the arms export notification requirement, but he did not elaborate.
"I am sure there will be little doubt these requirements would impede efforts to ensure that our personnel serving under United Nations and African Union mandates continue to be well equipped for peacekeeping duties," he said.
Rwanda currently has police, troops or military observers in U.N. peacekeeping missions in Haiti, Liberia, Sudan and the Ivory Coast and African Union missions in Sudan's Darfur region and the Comoros. Diplomats say Kigali also has hundreds more troops ready to send to Darfur.
A U.N. arms embargo imposed on Rwanda in May 1994 -- after soldiers of the former Rwandan army and Hutu militia began slaughtering Tutsis -- was suspended for the country's government for one year in 1995 and then lifted in 1996. It is still in place for militias.
Kinshasa, 29/03/2007 (ACP STATE, via mediacongo.net)
By Stephanie Hanes Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
from the March 29, 2007 edition - http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0329/p06s01-woaf.html
BUNIA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
Across this war-scarred city of dirt roads, crowded markets, and security checkpoints, people know the importance of April 15. This is the day the mandate for the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is scheduled to expire. So by then, the UN Security Council must decide whether to extend, change, or scrap what is now – with almost 20,000 civilian and military personnel – the largest peacekeeping force in the world.
Many people here are nervously waiting for this decision. If the Security Council extends the Congo mission, they say, it will mean a continued march toward stability for the eastern city of Bunia and the rest of this massive, traumatized country.
Yet there is pressure to downsize. The demand for UN military assistance has ballooned in recent years, with five times as many peacekeepers spread worldwide in 2005 as in 2000. Donor countries are wary of missions with ever-extending end dates, and the UN itself says it must reevaluate the way it conducts peacekeeping and find new ways to spread increasingly strapped resources across complex, volatile regions.
But six months after a landmark presidential election that cost the UN half a billion dollars, the country remains tense. At least 150 people died in the capital, Kinshasa, last week in clashes between government troops and forces loyal to opposition leader and former warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba.
Concerns over slide back to war
Here in Bunia, one of the epicenters of a war that claimed some 4 million lives from violence, disease, and hunger, residents and UN personnel on the ground worry that an exodus of "blue helmets" will mean a return to chaos.
"You can download and cut the deployment in Congo," says Henri Boshoff, military analyst for the South Africa-based Institute for Security Studies who has spent much time in the DRC. "And you can throw away billions and billions of dollars. Because it will return to where it was."
The UN came into Congo in 1999, soon after warring parties signed an agreement to stop fighting. But the cease-fire did not hold – neighboring countries were drawn into the fighting, and ethnic violence grew. Ituri province, of which Bunia is the capital, was particularly violent, with its own ethnic strife and massacres.
The next year, the UN sent almost 6,000 peacekeepers – a force that would become known by its French acronym, MONUC.
The fighting continued, and the peacekeeping mission grew. But with the help of UN forces, a transitional government took power in 2003, and much of the country returned to stability. This past December, the UN helped monitor the Congo's first free, democratic elections in more than 40 years.
In many ways, the UN has fulfilled its mandate: There is a solid cease-fire, and Congo has had democratic elections. But people on the ground here caution that the hard work is just beginning.
The country is still far from stable. Apart from last week's deadly clashes in the capital, which Mr. Bemba says were triggered by the government's attempt to assassinate him, skirmishes between the Army and various militias are common throughout the country's volatile east. In January, Congolese soldiers upset with their low pay rioted in Bunia, shooting, raping, and looting.
Meanwhile, the UN is trying to help the country develop a new Army, a mixture of disarmed militia fighters and government soldiers. It's a difficult process, with many experts worried that these new, mixed units will terrorize populations. This month, peacekeepers watched as one militia leader in Ituri district, Peter Karim, sent 130 fighters to surrender to and join the Army.
The peacekeepers are also working to find and demobilize child soldiers and are building roads in regions where infrastructure is all but nonexistent. They are helping set up a new court system and police force.
Basically, says Madnodje Mounoubai, the spokesman for MONUC, there is hardly a government function in eastern Congo that is not supported and funded by the UN mission here.
"Just because you've had an election, it doesn't mean that everything is OK," he says. "You need to build institutions."
UN needed in remote east
It only takes a walk down Bunia's main road to feel the massive MONUC presence. White SUVs with "UN" painted in black on their sides regularly zoom down the dirt thoroughfare, dodging the motorcycle taxis and steady stream of pedestrians. There are sand-bagged checkpoints at either end of the street, barbed-wire headquarters, and regular patrols throughout town – slow-driving armored cars crammed with gun-toting "blue helmets."
Some residents say they do get tired of the MONUC forces, with their guns and SUVs. There have been accusations of rape and other sexual misconduct by peacekeepers. Others complain that the armored cars drive over farmland, ruining crops. But most say that the peacekeepers cannot leave – and say they hope the Security Council recognizes as much.
"If they weren't here, there would be very bad things," says Bolemba Mambo, a Bunia resident.
On one recent afternoon, a UN patrol passed a makeshift Congolese Army checkpoint, and a truck filled with logs with dozens of government soldiers sitting on top.
Mr. Mounoubai, the MONUC spokesperson in Ituri, says he believes the Security Council understands the continued need in Congo.
"The UN has learned from other places and mistakes around the world that the sooner they pull out, the sooner they'll be back," he says. "I think the only reason the peace process is still going on, the only reason people are talking to one another still, is because MONUC is here.
March 28, 2007
Posted to the web March 28, 2007
By Thalif Deen
As Liberia's post-war, cash-strapped economy continues to threaten its political stability, the United Nations is planning to extend the mandate of its four-year old peacekeeping force through March next year.
The proposal to continue U.N. operations, recommended by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a report to the Security Council, has been prompted by the political and economic insecurity shadowing the West African nation, which is struggling to recover from 14 years of civil war.
"The biggest threat to security in Liberia is the 85 percent unemployment," Emira Woods, co-director of Foreign Policy in Focus at the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies, told IPS.
She said the best way to overcome this challenge is to restore a stable, functioning economy that meets the needs of Liberia's people.
Liberia's past external debt amounted to about 3.7 billion dollars, incurred mostly under former dictators. Of this total, about 1.5 billion dollars are owed to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the African Development Bank (ADB).
"With a steady flow of debt service payments, Liberia is sending money out of the country to the international financial institutions and its backers," Woods noted.
She said that each month, the money spent on debt service payments could open at least one clinic and countless schools.
"Donors have made many pledges for debt relief but the pledges have not translated into real cancellation of Liberia's debt. It is past time for the donors to move beyond rhetoric to real action," she declared.
At a meeting of the Liberia Partners' Forum in Washington last February, the United States, Germany and Britain pledged to forgive Liberia's bilateral debts. The U.S. debt alone, one of the largest, amounted to about 391 million dollars.
During a visit to Monrovia in February, Chinese President Hu Jintao announced the cancellation of Liberia's 10 million dollar debt to Beijing. Hu also provided Liberia with a 1.5-million-dollar cash grant and pledged 25 million dollars over the next two years.
In a report to the Security Council, Ban says that Liberia continues to make "steady progress" in consolidating peace, stability and democracy, as well as in promoting economic recovery, with the sustained support of the its international partners.
But he admits that despite "these encouraging developments, Liberia still faces significant reconstruction and development challenges arising from 14 years of civil strife."
These include "pervasive poverty, food insecurity, high unemployment, massive illiteracy, debilitated infrastructure and the inadequate delivery of basic services, including potable water, health services and education."
The secretary-general has also warned that the potential threat to stability presented by the unemployed, including former combatants and de-activated security personnel, "remains a source of serious concern".
Addressing troop contributing countries last week, the Coordinator of the U.N. Operations in Liberia Alan Doss said Liberia's peace and stability has also been threatened by outside forces.
The security situation along Liberia's borders has remained stable, "although there are concerns that any deterioration in the security situations in Cote d'Ivoire and Guinea could spill over into Liberia," Doss told a meeting of the Security Council last week.
"There are bumps on the road," he said, "and there will be more bumps on the road, but that doesn't mean the wheels are coming off."
As of early March, the U.N. Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) had a total strength of 14,832 peacekeepers, the second largest peacekeeping force after U.N. Organisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (16,600 troops).
The 15-member Security Council is expected to extend UNMIL's mandate at a meeting scheduled to take place next week.
Doss said UNMIL's consolidation, drawdown and withdrawal plan is closely linked to the reform and restructuring of the national security sector, which is currently ongoing.
UNMIL, which was set up in September 2003, draws most of its troops from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Ethiopia and Nigeria.
Woods said that beyond debt cancellation, Liberia needs greater control over its rich natural resources so that they benefit the country's people. At the moment, she said, Bridgestone/Firestone tire and rubber company has its largest operations in Liberia.
For 80 years, the rubber has been put on ships and sent to the United States, with the Liberian people getting only three cents per acre of land under an extended lease agreement, Woods added.
Recent court cases have been filed against Bridgestone/Firestone for its use of child labour. Communities adjacent to the plantation have filed complaints about the health impacts of environmental damage to the rivers near the plantation.
Doss told reporters last month that any natural resource of a relatively high value that got into the hands of the "wrong people" would become a threat. That was why, he said, UNMIL was working closely to bring the rubber market in Liberia under control. "A couple of rubber plantations were getting into the wrong hands. Rubber was not diamonds, but still, a lot of money could be made, and the criminalisation of rubber plantations was a concern," he added.
Asked for her comments, Woods said the issue is not rubber getting into the wrong hands. "The issue is woefully inadequate wages, fees and taxes, and environmental redress paid by the company," she said.
The government cannot reopen schools, hospitals and roads if resources are plundered with little revenue generated for the country. Moreover, she said, since 1940 Liberia has asked for a manufacturing plant to add value to the resource and bring jobs into the rubber sector.
Now with HIV/AIDS devastating Liberia and the region, a plant producing goods like condoms could save lives in innumerable ways for decades to come. There couldn't be a better time to hold corporations like Firestone accountable, Woods added.
Asked what was expected of the U.N. force over the next 12 months, she said: "UNMIL is expected to advance its demobilisation efforts and advance its presence throughout the country, well beyond urban areas."
UNMIL will also have to address the issue of exploitation of minors, especially young girls. The recent arrival of an all-female U.N. police contingent is a step in the right direction, she noted.
28 March, 2007
Jean-Pierre Bemba took refuge at the South African embassy in the capital, Kinshasa, after clashes between his militia and the army last week.
The fighting threatened to derail the peace process that led to recent polls.
A BBC correspondent says there is speculation the trip may be used as a diplomatic manoeuvre to ease tension.
Mr Bemba is planning to leave on Saturday to go to Portugal where he has been receiving medical treatment for a broken leg
Eyewitness: Foreigners' fears
President Joseph Kabila defeated Mr Bemba, a former rebel leader, in a second round run-off vote last October.
Mr Bemba denied plotting military action to overthrow the president and accused the army of trying to kill him.
The violence started when his armed bodyguards refused to be integrated into the national army before last week's deadline.
Up to 600 people may have died in the clashes, according to EU diplomats in Kinshasa.
South Africa's UN ambassador said Mr Bemba was "not a refugee" in the South Africa diplomatic compound in Kinshasa.
"Mr Bemba is planning to leave on Saturday to go to Portugal where he has been receiving medical treatment for a broken leg," Dumisani Kumalo told the BBC.
As a senator, Mr Bemba, who has been charged with treason, enjoys immunity from prosecution. The government says it will seek to have this stripped.
The BBC's Arnaud Zajtman in Kinshasa says Mr Bemba spent several weeks in Portugal after the election seeking medical treatment for his leg.
Mr Kabila has said that no-one can be above the law.
But the trip looks like a diplomatic way to get round the issue of Congolese justice, our correspondent says.
Observers doubt that Mr Bemba would return to DR Congo to face trial if he got permission to go to Portugal for treatment.
A meeting of the southern African leaders in Tanzania is expected to discuss the violence.
Earlier, the United States condemned it says it represented "a set-back in the progress the Congolese people expect and deserve after last year's historic election."
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/03/28 11:20:28 GMT
© BBC MMVII
Mar 28, 2007 at 10:56 AM
The government is considering taking the UN to an international court over the latter’s failure to stop the 1994 Rwanda Genocide, it has emerged. Speaking at Parliamentary Buildings yesterday, Youth, Culture and Sports Minister, Joseph Habineza, said that Kigali is currently consulting with its ambassador to the UN (Joseph Nsengimana) ‘on (legal) issues to be looked at while filing a lawsuit against the UN’. He was responding to a question from Deputy Polycape Gatete on why no action has been taken against the UN, which he accused of standing by while a million Rwandans perished during the 100 days of slaughter.
“The Government has been reluctant on suing the UN for not having stopped the Genocide; it is good they apologised but we should count them responsible for the deaths of thousands,” Gatete said, adding that the government should give an explanation to MPs to that effect.
Meanwhile, Habineza said that the entire international community is expected to join Rwandans to commemorate the thirteenth Rwanda Genocide anniversary come next month. The minister was briefing MPs about preparations for the upcoming commemoration of Genocide yesterday, Joseph Habineza said that arrangements were underway at all Rwandan Embassies to mark the mourning week.
“Also Rwandans living in countries where we don’t have embassies and the rest of the world will join us in commemorating the Genocide,” Habineza said at the Parliamentary Buildings, Kimihurura.
In April 2007, the UN declared April 7 as the ‘International Day of reflection on the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda.’ Habineza also told legislators that plans to send government officials abroad to hold dialogues about the 1994 Rwanda Genocide are underway.
“The African Union has already requested us to send them someone who will present a paper on Rwanda Genocide; we have also received a number of requests from the Rwandan Diaspora,” he explained.
Last year, the Centre for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at the American University Washington College of Law last year developed the Rwanda Commemoration Project to encourage schools, universities, NGOs, and community groups to hold events to commemorate the Genocide which claimed over a million lives in record 100 days. The UN system is blamed for standing by as an estimated one million ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus perished in the Genocide.
Deputy Polycape Gatete wondered why the government has not sued the UN for not stopping the Genocide yet it had capacity to do so. MPs also demanded that the government bans all kinds of ceremonies during the Genocide commemoration week that are not in line with mourning activities.
“I request that these ceremonies be banned immediately as is a week of remembrance for our beloved ones” Deputy Jacqueline Muhongaire furiously said.
In response, Habineza said that he has already banned all ceremonies including baptism.
“Recently, I had an issue with the Catholic Church that wanted to carryout baptism on April 7; but I stopped them after giving them a thorough explanation; I don’t expect to be giving explanations to stop ceremonies every April,” Habineza said.
The Christian calendar indicates that this year’s Easter Sunday will fall on April 7, the very day the commemoration week will start.
Deputy Juliana Kantengwa also introduced a new motion about the bad the condition of survivors.She was backed by Deputies Emmanuel Mugabowidekwe and Gatete backed.
“What is the plan for (Genocide-related) child-headed households? Is there a budget for them? Does the Ministry have a unit in charge of these children?” questioned Mugabowidekwe, who owns an orphanage for children orphaned by the Genocide.
Deputy Gatete said there are 19,400 child-headed households, adding, “these children live in 6,000 families, and most of them share houses. Statistics also indicate that there are over 14,000 widows of Genocide.” “In the past period we have had cases of 162 genocide survivors being killed; 121 have been injured by people who intend to kill them, and over 1,000 Genocide survivors have lost their properties,” said Gatete. About Frw 56 billion is required for the construction of survivors’ shelter and the Fund for Assistance of Genocide Survivors (FARG) says that it only managed to raise Frw 10 billion for that purpose. However MPs vowed to ensure that the deficit is realised from the budget.
Meanwhile, Speaker Alfred Mukezamfura urged the Executive to speed up the process of establishing the Constitutional anti-Genocide Commission and to devise stringent measures to protect survivors. He said that MPs would hold a vigil in remembrance of the victims of the Genocide.
The national celebrations on the first day of the mourning week will be held in Murambi, Gatsibo District in Eastern Province, where 200 bodies will be reburied. The closing ceremony is scheduled at Rebero, Kicukiro District in Kigali City. The theme for this year’s Genocide memorial week is: ‘Let us remember the Genocide, taking care of the survivors and fighting for justice’.
March 28, 2007
Posted to the web March 27, 2007
By David Mugonyi And Abdulsamad Ali
Editor's Note: A follow-up to the story on Kenyan authorites cooperating with CIA prisoner detentions and tranfers that I posted a while ago.
A suspect in twin terror attacks on an Israel airliner and Kikambala Paradise hotel in Mombasa has been moved to Guantanamo Bay, a US military prison for terror suspects.
Mr Abdulmalik Mohammed who is suspected of taking part in the Mombasa attack that left 15 people dead and 80 injured, was taken to the prison in Cuba over the weekend, a Pentagon spokesman said.
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said Mr Mohammed was captured in East Africa when the US intensified its search for terror suspects in the region.
Miss its target
He said: "Due to the significant threat that this terror suspect represents, he has been transferred to Guantanamo."
Mr Mohammed, 37, is claimed to have planned the November 2002 attack that saw the hotel burnt and a missile aimed at the aircraft leaving Mombasa for Tel Aviv, miss its target.
He will have a combatant status review at Guantanamo to determine whether the US can legally detain him at the camp without charge.
His sister Mariam Mohamed asked yesterday why her brother was flown to Cuba. "If he has committed any crime, why take him to another country while he is a Kenyan?" she asked.
Ms Mariam said Kenya Red Cross officials who tried to speak to the suspect in Nairobi before the transfer, had broken the news to her and expected to meet them later yesterday.
A Pentagon statement said Mr Mohammed had admitted to participation in the attack in which an explosive-filled SUV was crashed into the hotel lobby. "He also has admitted involvement in the attempt to shoot down an Israeli Boeing 757 civilian airliner carrying 271 passengers, near Mombasa," said the statement.
Ms Mariam said she last saw her brother in 2000 in Mombasa and talked to him in 2002 on phone. "Due to the financial status of the family we were not able to stay together and he went his way to fend for himself when we left Mombasa after the house we were living in collapsed," she said in an interview.
Mr Mohammed opted to live in Mombasa while Mariam and another brother moved to Nairobi.
The Nation had reported his arrest on March 13. The Kenyan police had captured the suspect whom they treated as a "high value catch".
Mr Mohammed was arrested in a forex bureau near Fort Jesus on suspicion that he was Mr Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a terror suspect.
It is understood that the bureau attendant pressed the panic button when he mistook the suspect for Mr Nabhan.
Police said the suspect would help in the search for Mr Nabhan, Mr Harun Fazul and Taha Al Sudani who have also been linked to terrorism.
The Nation learnt that Mr Mohammed and two others crossed into Kenya after Ethiopian forces uprooted the Islamic Courts Union from Mogadishu.
Escaped to Somalia
Mr Nabhan, a Kenyan, is wanted for questioning by FBI and Kenyan police in connection with the Paradise attack and the 1998 bombing of the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar Salaam.
He is among wanted Al Qaeda operatives in East Africa but escaped to Somalia after the attacks.
When Nation broke the story Government spokesman Alfred Mutua dismissed it arguing none of the suspects arrested was linked to terrorism. he said.
Human rights groups have called on the US to close the prison arguing that prisoners' rights were being violated.
"The global war on terror requires us to work closely as well as quietly with many of our allies in the region."
Publication date: Tuesday, 27th March, 2007
By Milton Olupot
THIRTY-four suspected rebels of the Allied Democratic Front (ADF) were killed and five others captured in a battle with the UPDF in Bundibugyo yesterday, according to the army.
Among those killed, the UPDF claims, is the second-in-command of ADF in Congo, a man called Isiko.
“The fighting was along River Sempaya in Semliki Game Reserve in Bundibugyo, 15 to 20km from the Congolese border” said Lt. Tabaro Kiconco, the UPDF spokesperson for western Uganda, by telephone last night. “We expect the number of casualties to go up.” He said the group of 40 to 60 fighters had entered Uganda from the DR Congo on Sunday.
“The fighting broke out at 10:00am on Tuesday. The group clashed with the UPDF’s 73rd Battalion and the First Commando Unit. We recovered 18 submachine guns, five RPG pipes, ten tins of 7.62mm ammunition, 23 full-loaded magazines and lose ammunitiion hidden in two big jerry-cans. Four of our soldiers sustained minor injuries.”
It was the third clash with suspected ADF fighters in one week.
On Monday, according to Tabaro, four armed men were killed, one AK47 rifle and a tin of ammunition recovered.
Last Friday, another two suspected ADF were killed and one machine gun recovered from another group that had entered two weeks ago. By last night, the UPDF was still combing the area.
“We are calling upon those who are still in hiding to surrende. If not, they will keep facing our fire,” Tabaro said.
He added that ADF rebels had started regrouping in their former bases in Congo and they had been recruiting young Congolese children.
This article can be found on-line at: http://www.newvision.co.ug/D/8/12/556451
March 27, 2007
Posted to the web March 27, 2007
By Emmy Allio
LRA rebels have returned to the Garamba National Park just two months after they withdrew from it on the orders of the Congolese authorities.
Congolese security reportedly allowed the LRA back to Garamba to prevent the park from being used by defeated presidential candidate Jean-Pierre Bemba to start a rebellion against President Joseph Kabila's government.
Fierce clashes between government troops and Bemba's forces in the capital Kinshasa last week killed up to 600 people and "seriously wounded" the democratic process, according to EU ambassadors yesterday.
The army regained control of the capital late on Friday but Bemba, against whom the government issued a warrant of arrest, is still sheltering in the South African embassy.
According to sources within the Ugandan security, the Congolese authorities decided to re-renew their cooperation with the LRA fearing that Uganda might re-enter the Democratic Republic of Congo in support of Bemba.
Uganda backed Bemba during Congo's civil war but stopped its support after the Sun City agreement in 2002, which resulted in the formation of the transitional government.
The majority of the LRA rebels, who had crossed to the Central African Republic, returned to Garamba last weekend, aid agencies said.
The rebels were cited in the vicinity of Kurukwata, Misa and Nagero in the southern parts of Garamba.
LRA leaders Joseph Kony and Vincent Otti allegedly returned to Rusu, in the northeastern environs of the park.
The rebels first entered Congo in September 2005.
Uganda believes they were staying there with the knowledge and consent of the Kinshasa authorities. As a result of pressure from the Congolese Government and the United Nations Observer Mission to Congo (MONUC), most of the rebels left the park in January and early February. "A small group led by Okot Odhiambo remained in Garamba to safeguard the routes," security sources said.
After leaving Garamba, the bulk of the LRA had been living around Obo in the southeastern parts of the Central African Republic, a region under the control of rebels fighting the Bangui government.
In Sudan, the rebels maintained their presence around Ezo, Yambio and Tambura.
The new developments come less than a fortnight after the Tripartite-Plus meeting in Kigali, where Uganda, Rwanda, Congo and Burundi agreed to cooperate in tracking and arresting rebels operating in their respective countries. Congo had pledged to arrest the LRA leaders.
In Sudan, the LRA rebels have grown increasingly unpopular with the local population.
In a recent conference in Torit, the governors of the states of Eastern, Central and Western Equatoria resolved that the Government of South Sudan should intervene militarily to evict the remnants of the LRA.
Last week in Eastern Equatoria, LRA rebels raided villages in Torit county, killing a man and displacing about 1,800.
Editorial published in The Citizen
Wednesday 28 March, 2007
Editor's Note: Another view of the latest bout of violence with the SLA.
March 26, 2007 — In the light of the obvious non-implementation of the African Union brokered Abuja Agreement and the continual alliance of the National Congress Party regime and the terrorist Janjaweed, many questions are raised each time Sudan Liberation Movement’s Minni Minawi stands in the public and referring to his official post as Senior Assistant to the President of the Republic affirms his commitment to the pact he signed last May 5th, reportedly under duress. Word has leaked that former United States Undersecretary of State Robert Zollick brutishly intimidated Minawi and one of the AU officials from Nigeria is said to have done same.
In any event, the first question we must ask Minawi is what precisely is his job in the Republican Palace? Is he one of those pushing President Al Bashir to defy international demand that United Nations peacekeepers be admitted to Darfur to protect the civilian population from Janjaweed terror? Or, is the Senior Assistant to the President not consulted on such issues, or does he offer his advice only to have it overlooked? More specifically, what is Mr. Minawi’s input on the Janjaweed issue? Does he not press for their disbanding as stipulated in the agreement he signed, has he given up raising the issue, or has he become an accomplice to the genocide, along with all the Arabs and most of the Islamic world?
Also, we would like Mr. Minawi to tell us all what is his present military strength on the ground in Darfur, because the last we heard virtually all his commanders had abandoned him and formed the Great Sudan Liberation Movement. Then, why is he most of the time in Khartoum instead of Darfur where he is officially the head of the interim administration?
Salva Kiir who as an experienced vice president spends most of him time on the ground in Southern Sudan, what about Minawi who has more work to do in Darfur and nothing doing nothing that we know of in Khartoum. The lone signatory to the Abuja Agreement must make this clear because the whole world is using the agreement he signed as a reference for ending the Darfur crisis.
A few weeks ago Mr. Minawi remarked that NCP was not serious about implementing the Abuja Agreement and his spokesman and other leading members of his faction have been consistently forthright in accusing the ruling Ingaz clique of bad faith. If this is so, and it is obvious that there have been no tangible gains for Darfur from the DPA, apart from some superficial granting of titles and offices, we want Mr. Minawi to tell us what does he realistically hope to achieve by continuing to give the DPA a façade of legitimacy when he knows NCP shows no intention of implementing it?
After one year of increasing Janjaweed boldness and himself having virtually no impact on the national scene, what role does Mr. Minawi see for himself? What medium term future does he imagine for Darfur? It is clear that the DPA has become an obstruction to progress towards retirement of the Darfur crisis. First of all it never reflected the aspirations of the Darfur people, aggravating already problematic divisions. Yet it is still recognized by the international community as the basis for moving forward, with pervasive illusions that the holdout factions can be persuaded or pressured to sign it. The Americans, in particular, who allegedly succeeded in pressuring Mr. Minawi alone to sign a deal which AU officials admit reflected what they assessed to be the military advantage of the Sudanese government, have become a nuisance in the premises by backing off Security Council Resolution 1706, vacillating with their threatened Plan B and continuing to refer to the Abuja Agreement as the basis for ending the Darfur crisis.
The Europeans, who are hosting the original SLM chairman, Abdel Wahid Muhammed Nur, who is insisting on a better deal and that the Janjaweed be restrained from their genocide campaign before resumption of peace talks, appear ready to recommend that the NCP regime be prepared to amend the DPA, but with Washington and Khartoum’s Minawi still stressing the Abuja deal, the EU would not want to appear to be aggravating or complicating the situation by being bluntly realistic in the face of institutionalized illusions.
So, it is not just a matter of zero gains from the nearly one year old DPA, which is far less than what the South has gotten out of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that was far more substantial to begin with; the point is that the Darfur crisis is further away from being resolved today than it was a year ago and yet the AU, UN, Washington and many people in Sudan are bloated with illusions to the contrary. In sum, the Darfur situation is worse and more hopeless than it has even been.
As for Minawi, he has entered the African revolution and managed to become a leader, but he has shown no indication of revolutionary substance. Garang would have never let Zollick or anyone else bully him into signing an agreement and indeed he defied Bush’s urging that he sign a deal with Khartoum ahead of the November 2004 U.S. presidential elections so that Bush might flaunt his achievement in Sudan on the campaign trail. Let us not mention the greats like Mandela, Nkrumah and Sekou Toure here; Salva Kiir is a patient man, hardly a radical, but he insists on calling a spade a spade and has absolutely no tendency to let anybody push him or his people around. These are African revolutionaries. If one is not a revolutionary he has no business in the revolution, because invariably he will be a pawn of the oppressors.