28 April, 2007
18 May 2006
Moscow and Khartoum are unanimous that private companies ought to play the most important role in maintaining peace in Sudan, Lam Akol, Sudan’s foreign minister, said here today.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, speaks while his Sudanese counterpart Lam Akol listens during their meeting in Moscow on Wednesday, May 17, 2006. (AP)He said that "during the talks with my Russian colleague Sergey Lavrov we agreed that the governments of both countries ought to create all conditions for organizing mutually-advantageous business partnership".
"All opportunities for investments are now open in Sudan," he said. At the same time he noted that "the only problem is that private companies need guarantees to underpin their economic activities in the country".
The minister expressed the hope that "the government of Sudan will play a due part in this process". He recalled that Russian companies were already operating in Sudan. Transgaz, in particular, is laying oil pipelines, the ITAR-TASS news agency reported.
"Recently a Russian-Sudanese business council was set up. It will start work on 27 May. The future directions of bilateral economic cooperation will be discussed during the first sitting," said Lam Akol.
1 March 2007
At the end of the two-day visit of the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Sudan, seven cooperation memoranda of understanding (MoUs) were signed by the two sides in the presence of the two presidents.
Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir, left, greets his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Khartoum, Wed, Feb. 28, 2007 (AP)The agreements on environmental cooperation as well as industrial and mine cooperation were signed by representatives of the ministries of agriculture as well as industries and mines of the two countries.
The MoU on cooperation between the coroner’s office of Iran and Sudan were signed by representatives of the Red Crescent Society of both sides. Two other documents were mutually signed on technical and economic issues.
Another document on technical and professional training was signed by the two sides. Besides, a MoU was inked by representatives of the university of science and industry of the two countries.
After the ceremony, where the MoUs were signed, President Ahmadinejad and President Omar al-Bashir briefed reporters at the Friendship Hall in Khartoum on the outcome of their talks.
President Al-Bashir said that Sudan and Iran maintained distinguished ties, especially in the political, economic, commercial and educational fields, adding that Sudan was determined to strengthen bilateral relations further in the different domains, especially in the economic and investment fields.
For his part, the Iranian president Ahmadinejad said that his country would support the Sudanese government and people in confronting international pressure aimed at distorting Sudan’s unity and sovereignty.
"The enemies schemes against the Sudanese people aiming to pressurize the government and nation are condemned by the Iranian nation," he added. The Iranian president expressed satisfaction with the resistance of Sudan’s government and nation against such threats and declared Iran’s support for them.
He added that during the visit seven cooperation agreements were signed in the educational, cultural, commercial, investment on the sidelines of economic and business fields.
He said that Iran would support Sudan in liberalizing Iraq and stand by the Palestinian issue. "The Iranian people will continue supporting the Palestinian people and return the refugees and build the Palestine state with Al-Quds as its capital". he added. He went on to say "The view points are the same in order to remove the obstacles devastating the Islamic nation".
The Iranian president condemned in the joint press conference the enemies schemes against the Sudanese government and people, before adding "It is our joint responsibility to bring about peace, stability and unity in the region"
He went on to say that his visit to the country achieved positive results and called for the implementation of all agreements.
17 January 2007
Sudanese defence minister, has inspected today military aircraft complex in Iran’s Esfahan Province. He hailed the technological progress achieved by Iran considering it as great honor for Islamic world.
Sudan’s Defence minister Abdelrahim Hussein with his Iranian counterpart in a press conference Wednesday Jan 17, 2007 (IRNA) Sudan’s defence minister, Maj-Gen Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein, heading a military delegation, inspected Iran HESA aircraft manufacturing industries and got a first-hand look at the specialized, scientific achievements of the complex.
During the inspection, Hussein described as very good, the production of Iran-140 aircraft as well as design and manufacture of different kinds of helicopters.
He said the comprehensive progress Iran’s defence industries have made is a source of honour for Islamic countries.
He praised the scientific progress of the Iranian youth and said that the capability and know-how of Iranian aircraft scientists are founded on faith and Islamic commitment and that such commitment is expected to usher in a quite bright future.
The Sudanese defence minister before his departure back on Wednesday to Khartoum in a press conference saidt "I have visited Iran’s defence industry and facilities and I have noticed that Iran has gained advanced levels of technology which has made me glad."
According to a military cooperation accord signed Wednesday between the two countries, Iran and Sudan would exchange expert delegations and expertise and promote mutual technical and educational cooperation.
19 October 2004
Beijing is at pains fighting accusations that its explosive economic growth is partly to blame for the run-up in world oil prices. Now, the growing threat of United Nations sanctions on Sudan and Iran, which between them supply 20 percent of China’s oil imports, puts Beijing in an awkward situation of having to choose between safeguarding its investments and protecting the country’s international image.
Last month, the Chinese government managed to water down a U.N. Security Council resolution, which threatened to halt Sudan’s oil exports if it did not stop the atrocities in the Darfur region where pro-government Arab militias are terrorising the region’s population.
Some 70,000 have died as a result of Darfur’s conflict - many starving or succumbing to illness, the U.N. says.
The Security Council is committed to reviewing the situation in Sudan on a monthly basis and could therefore take action in the near future.
The European Union issued a renewed threat of sanctions against the African nation as a EU delegation led by Dutch Foreign minister Bernard Bot, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, visited Khartoum last week.
China’s ambassador at the U.N. Wang Guangya has indicated that Beijing would veto any future resolution that imposed sanctions. But the stream of negative reports from Sudan suggests that Beijing will soon find itself isolated.
"China is out on limb on this one," noted one Beijing-based diplomat. "Russia and Pakistan are far behind it. Beijing cannot be seen blocking a solution to major humanitarian crisis being investigated for genocide."
China, together with Russia, Pakistan and Algeria abstained from voting on the U.N. Security Council resolution of Sep.18.
However, western diplomats in Beijing think that if China is forced to choose between preserving its oil investments and damaging its larger efforts to be seen as a responsible world player, it will take a long-term view and protect its international image.
But the conundrum is a difficult one. To keep its economic engine running at high speed, China needs ever-increasing amounts of oil. Any significant interruption in supply would put growth at risk, with consequences not only for the country but also for its web of trading partners and investors.
Recent power blackouts that have hit Chinese factories underscore the need to maintain supplies.
By itself, Sudan represents an important piece in China’s oil puzzle.
China obtains 6.9 percent of its oil imports from the African country. In the past five years, Beijing has developed several oil fields, built a 930-mile (1,512 kilometer) pipeline, a refinery and a port. By far, Sudan represents China’s largest overseas investment, worth three billion U.S. dollars.
The government in Khartoum is believed to have a grip on Africa’s greatest unexploited oil resources, even greater than those of the Gulf of Guinea.
Sudan’s crude production is set to hit 500,000 barrels a day in 2005 but oil analysts say this represents only 15 percent of Sudan’s total reserves.
With China’s oil imports expected to rise by about 35 percent this year, a failure of the Chinese oil enterprise in Sudan could seriously undermine its efforts in becoming a major global player in the petroleum business.
Securing overseas oil resources is seen by the Chinese leadership as an effective strategy to wean the country away from its heavy reliance on imports.
But another vital source of oil resources for the country could be cut off if the United Nations imposes sanctions on the regime in Iran. The International Atomic Energy Agency will consider in November whether Teheran is in breach of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and if it needs to be referred to the Security Council for possible sanctions.
Iran supplies 13.6 percent of Beijing’s oil imports, and China is competing with several other countries to develop its big Azadegan oil field. China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec), in partnership with Shell, is also bidding for substantial flows from Iran’s oil.
A recent U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) report, too, does not augur well for China.
The CIA report singles out China as one of the countries that breached U.N. sanctions against Iraq and subverted the oil-for-food programme.
Chinese leaders are anxious to secure overseas supplies for the long term but they don’t want the country to be seen as supporting states that may be in breach of international law.
Image-conscious, China has also sought to fight off global market accusations that its soaring domestic demand is to blame for record high oil prices. This week, Chinese officials pledged to slash crude oil imports to 25 percent of the country’s total consumption by 2020.
"China should and has the ability to keep its oil dependency rate to the level of 25 percent of total oil consumption," Wang Tao, a former senior Chinese oil official said recently.
Projections for future Chinese oil demand vary significantly. Chinese economists say Beijing’s imports of crude will jump to 50 percent of its consumption in 2020. On the other hand, the U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts that by 2020 China would import two-thirds of its crude oil for its energy requirements.
If oil from Iran and Sudan were cut off by sanctions, China would have to increase its demand on other overseas suppliers. But this would be tricky to achieve given the delays and problems that have dogged China’s major projects for oil pipelines from Kazakhstan and Russia.
Following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Beijing last week, China now has to grapple with the possibility that a ten-year project for a pipeline carrying Russian oil from Siberia to China’s oldest oil field in Daqing might just never materialise.
While in Beijing, Russian officials hinted that Moscow seemed to favour a competing project from Tokyo for a pipeline to run from Russia’s Pacific port of Nakhodka to Japan.
United Nations News Centre
27 April 2007
The United Nations Peacebuilding Commission, which was established to help countries recovering from war avoid a relapse of violence, today held talks in New York on its strategy for Burundi, which suffered decades of ethnic conflict pitting the Hutu majority against the Tutsi minority.
“The strategic framework is a document that should highlight the make or break priorities for sustaining peace in Burundi, and outline those commitments needed from the government and the international community to meet those priorities,” said Norway’s Ambassador Johan Løvald, who chaired the informal meeting and recently led a mission to the country.
“To be most useful, the framework should not include a listing of needs, all of which are already well documented in existing frameworks and strategies, but should rather articulate those issues that will be critical for safeguarding peace in Burundi.”
The strategic framework recognizes the responsibility of the country’s leaders towards achieving stability, said Youssef Mahmoud, Executive Representative of the Secretary-General in Burundi.
“This vision is one of a country where the ghost of the ethnic conflict and civil war will wiped out forever,” he declared.
But he stressed that the most immediate priority is effective implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement between the Government and the Palipehutu-National Liberation Forces (Palipehutu-FNL).
Another major challenge is the urgent need to quickly reach a national consensus on the justice mechanisms of transition and to assure progress toward national reconciliation, he said, calling for consolidation of democratic culture. Security forces, he stressed, must always act in the interests of the population, while ex-fighters must be reintegrated into society.
International support for Burundi is also key to the consolidation of peace, he said, proposing a series of consultations next month with all partners in this effort.
Established in December 2005, the Commission focuses on reconstruction, institution-building and the promotion of sustainable development in post-conflict countries.
28 April 2007
Editor's Note: This absolutely reeks of an Ethiopian false flag operation.
Nairobi - Ethiopian rebels who killed 74 people in a raid on a Chinese-run oilfield denied on Saturday that they were behind a deadly grenade attack on mourners.
The government blamed the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) for the blast, which killed two people at a memorial service in the regional capital Jijiga on Thursday.
The ONLF has claimed responsibility for Tuesday's pre-dawn assault on the oilfield.
"We wish to make clear that it is the policy of the ONLF not to deliberately harm civilians or carry out military operations targeting civilians," the separatist group said in a statement.
It said the grenade attack was triggered by a dispute between soldiers gathered to mourn a colleague killed in the raid in the remote east, 100km south of Jijiga.
The assault on the oil exploration field was one of the worst attacks on Beijing's growing economic interests in Africa.
The ONLF killed 65 Ethiopians and nine Chinese workers, and seized seven Chinese.
The group says the seven are well and will be freed when the military stops activities in the area.
The rebels have repeatedly warned investors that they will not allow oil and gas exploration in the Ogaden region as long as local people are "denied their rights to self-determination".
The Chinese staff worked for Zhongyuan Petroleum Exploration Bureau, part of the much larger Sinopec, China's biggest refiner and petrochemicals producer.
28 April 2007
A Rwandan court has sentenced General Laurent Munyakazi to life imprisonment. The general was found guilty on 13 charges connected to the 1994 genocide in Rwandan. News sources said that Gen. Munyakazi was found guilty of charges ranging from genocide, to conspiracy to genocide, up to the illegal distribution of firearms to the militias.
“The military Court finds the accused guilty of the serious crimes for which he has been blamed and therefore it undersigns the sentence (delivered by a military court) of life imprisonment” said the judges at the highest military court in Rwanda.
General Munyakazi, the highest ranking Rwandan to be tried by the national courts for his role in the genocide, can appeal the sentence at the Supreme Court in Kigali. Other officials accused of being among the organizers of the genocide are undergoing trial at the International tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha (Tanzania), which has so far issued 28 sentences and five absolutions.
28 April 2007
APA-Monrovia (Liberia) The mineral development agreement that the Liberian government first entered into with the global steel giant Acelor in 2005 finally became law Friday following the concurrence of the upper house of Liberia’s bicameral legislature after the passage on Monday of the act by the lower house, APA learns here.
The agrreement signed by the transitional government was said to have been against the interest of Liberians, and the Ellen Johnson led government made 22 amendments before its passage into law Friday.
The first agreement ceded the port of Buchanan and the railway to Mittal Steel, but this clause, along with 20 others which were against the interest of the Liberian people were amended.
Under the agreement, Acelor will invest US$1 billion for the exploitation of iron ore in north-eastern Nimba County for 25 years, with a provision for its review every seven years.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is to endorse the agreement, recently made an impassioned appeal to the legislature to pass the agreement.
She used her presidential prerogative to recall legislators from their Easter break to hasten the ratification of the agreement to provide jobs for unemployed Liberians.
The agreement is expected to create more than 3,000 jobs.
3 April 2007
Volume 12, Issue #8
Libya's National Oil Corp. (NOC) signed an exploration production and sharing agreement (EPSA) with the Russian company Tatneft.
The deal covers the following contract areas: -- (1) -- 82 at Ghadames Basin -- (4, 2) -- 98 at Ghadames Basin -- (1, 2, 3, 4) -- 69 at Sirte Basin
Tatneft obtained all the above areas through Libya's Third Bidding Round. Under this EPSA, Tatneft will drill 16 wells and carry out seismic surveys for 2,000 km (3D) and 9,500 km (2D). Tatneft previously obtained Block No. (4) -- 82 through the Second Bidding Round.
27 April 2007
APA-Accra (Ghana) African Union (AU) Chairman President John Agyekum of Ghana has called on the aggrieved political parties in Nigeria to use legal means in their quest to contest last Saturday’s presidential election results in which the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Umaru Musa Yar’adua, was declared winner.
A statement issued in Accra Thursday by the press secretary to President Kufuor, Andrew Awuni, said the political parties must show commitment to upholding the integrity of the country and accept the legal procedures provided by the Nigerian Constitution for dealing with their complaints in order to deepen democracy in Nigeria.
The AU Chairman’s comments came shortly after leading members of Ghana’s main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) party had criticised him of delaying in commenting on the fraudulent elections that has received international condemnation.
Meanwhile, the statement added that President Kufuor is due in Lagos Friday to meet Presidents Yayi Boni of Benin, Faure Gnassingbe of Togo and Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria to inaugurate the West African Gas Pipeline Project that will transport gas from Nigeria through Benin and Togo to Ghana.
27 April, 2007
By Patrick Worsnip
27 April 2007
The U.N. Security Council on Friday lifted a 6-year-old ban on Liberian diamond exports aimed at stopping so-called "blood diamonds" from reaching the world market.
The unanimous vote by the 15-nation Council was in "recognition of the progress made by Liberia" in setting up controls on its diamonds, which helped fuel a 14-year civil war that ended in 2003, British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said.
The resolution said Liberia had taken action to meet the minimum demands of the Kimberley Process, a mechanism that requires participating governments to provide certificates for rough diamonds to show they came from legitimate operations.
It asks the body, which has 45 members accounting for almost all world production of rough diamonds, to report back in 90 days on Liberia's compliance, after which the council will review its decision.
Blood diamonds have been blamed for financing wars in other African countries, including Sierra Leone, Angola, Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who took office last year, has pushed hard for an end to the embargo, saying the money from diamond sales was badly needed to finance reconstruction in her war-ravaged country.
The lifting of the embargo, in a resolution drafted by the United States, came some two months before the latest extension of the ban had been due to end. "Liberia was ready," U.S. mission spokesman Ben Chang said. "The time was right."
Liberian U.N. Ambassador Nathaniel Barnes told reporters he had just learned that his country's application to join the Kimberley Process, filed in late March, would be accepted.
Friday's resolution "means a lot to the people of Liberia," he said. The Monrovia government had "the political will ... (to) make good things happen within the diamond industry so that we can move forward."
Barnes said the West African country, founded by freed American slaves, had 85 percent unemployment with former combatants accounting for many of the jobless. The resumption of diamond exports would help get them back to work, he said.
The Security Council has lifted a ban on Liberian timber exports. The only sanctions still in force against Liberia are a travel ban and assets freeze against certain named individuals.
By Kenneth Kwama
27 April, 2007
Shell Petroleum Company Limited (SPCL), a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell plc of UK, has received approval to acquire 50 per cent shares held by BP Africa Ltd in a joint marketing venture run by three local petroleum dealers.
The move will effectively transfer the ownership of Kenya Shell Ltd, BP Kenya Ltd and Shell & BP (Malindi) Kenya Ltd (the Joint Venture companies) to SPCL. It follows a conditional approval by the Ministry of Finance.
"This approval marks the beginning of a new and exciting chapter for Shell in Kenya. For the first time in many decades, the joint venture companies are going to operate under one brand, which is Shell," said Mr Patrick Obath, Country Chairman and Managing Director of the group.
He, however, declined to specify exactly what the conditional approval clause in the final deal portends even as speculation went that the Government could have acquired a stake in the deal through a state corporation (the National Oil Corporation).
Obath revealed that all BP branded assets would be rebranded to reflect the new changes in the company. "From an operational perspective, the acquisition will have little impact for staff and customers as the group companies have always operated as one entity. The most noticeable aspect of the acquisition will be the gradual re-branding of all BP branded assets," said Obath.
He assured customers that the quality and supply of petrol will remain the same, but added that Shell lubricants will replace those labeled with the BP logo.
The acquisition of BP's shares in the JV companies is in line with Shell's plan to grow its domestic oil products business
Shell, BP and Malindi Limited have been equal shareholders in an oil products marketing joint venture for many years.
The JV business is engaged in the marketing, sale and distribution of commercial and aviation fuels and lubricants and LPG gas and bitumen. It is supported by a network of around 130 retail service stations.
27 April 2007
Hamid Qomi has been appointed as Iran's new ambassador to Democratic Republic of Congo, it was announced, IRNA reported.
The appointment was made by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad upon the proposal of Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.
Qomi previously held posts of deputy of Africa department and head of the Arab Middle East and North African department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Mis en ligne le 27/04/2007
27 April 2007
Editor's Note: Do keep in mind the Ruberwa, ever the opportunist, backed Genreral Nkundabatware up to 2006. His condemnation (though deserved) of the Congolese Government for making a deal with Kigali and the General is an attempt to gain political support for his increasingly marginalized party.
Aujourd'hui, les deux Kivus n'éliraient probablement plus Joseph Kabila." Analystes et originaires de l'Est sont nombreux à soutenir cette thèse à Kinshasa.
Et de citer plusieurs raisons à ce retournement d'opinion, alors que Joseph Kabila avait écrasé Jean-Pierre Bemba dans les Kivus au second tour de la présidentielle de 2006. D'abord, l'absence générale de progrès dans la vie quotidienne des Congolais, à l'Est comme à l'Ouest, depuis les élections. Mais surtout, la persistance de l'insécurité.
Ainsi, les extrémistes hutus rwandais FDLR (ex-génocidaires et jeunes recrues) continuent leurs exactions. Au Nord-Kivu, des progrès ont été enregistrés contre eux mais le Sud-Kivu subit toujours de plein fouet leur violence qui atteint parfois des seuils de cruauté incompréhensibles, alors que les opérations conjointes armée congolaise/casques bleus sont insuffisantes.
L'accord avec Nkunda
Au Nord-Kivu, c'est l'accord passé entre l'armée congolaise et le général mutin Laurent Nkunda, un Tutsi de la province, qui suscite la colère des non-Tutsis. A la suite d'une offensive des mutins fin 2006, un accord a été passé à Kigali entre le général John Numbi, chef d'état-major de la force aérienne congolaise, et le général Nkunda.
Cet accord prévoit le "mixage" des troupes de Nkunda avec l'armée congolaise : au lieu d'être "brassées" (mêlées à des soldats des divers camps ex-belligérants), elles sont simplement mélangées à des unités non brassées de l'ex-armée kabiliste et restent au Kivu.
Ce dernier point est l'une des principales revendications des mutins qui appartiennent généralement à la minorité ethnique tutsie et refusent de quitter la région par crainte de voir les autres soldats s'en prendre aux civils tutsis. Ceux-ci sont l'objet d'exactions en raison de vieilles rivalités ethniques pour le pouvoir, renforcées depuis que nombre de Tutsis se sont alliés à l'envahisseur rwandais durant la guerre de 1998-2003 au sein de la rébellion du RCD-Goma.
L'accord de Kigali prévoit aussi que les unités mixées traquent les FDLR, que Nkunda soit amnistié et que les réfugiés rentrent chez eux.
A noter que "personne ne semble avoir vu cet accord", précise Azarias Ruberwa, président du RCD-Goma devenu un parti. "Ce qu'on en sait ressort des déclarations des deux parties. Lors de sa dernière conférence de presse, le président Kabila a toutefois indiqué que le texte ordonnant des poursuites contre Nkunda se trouvait sur son bureau", poursuit le politicien sud-kivutien.
L'accord a soulevé, à l'assemblée nationale, un tollé de protestations ("à 95 pc de la part de la majorité présidentielle", précise un élu du Nord-Kivu).
"Certains députés ont fait du zèle, croyant faire plaisir au Président en tenant des propos racistes et présentant les Tutsis comme des étrangers", juge, de son côté, Azarias Ruberwa qui appartient à cette ethnie. "Cela m'a beaucoup choqué, car les Kivutiens qui ont suivi le débat parlementaire à la télévision se sont sentis légitimés à nuire à leurs voisins tutsis. On n'a visiblement pas tiré les leçons de ce qui avait conduit à la guerre : il faudrait travailler beaucoup plus à la réconciliation", ajoute-t-il.
Contre la traque des FDLR
Vingt-cinq députés du Nord-Kivu exigent, sous peine de boycott de l'Assemblée nationale, la suspension de la traque contre les FDLR, qui a connu une dynamisation avec les brigades mixées, mais aussi des victimes civiles. Pour certains de ses adversaires, le mixage "a abouti à ce que 5 et non plus 2 brigades obéissent à Nkunda".
"Il faut évaluer l'accord de Kigali mais pas faire comme s'il était mieux de revenir à la situation antérieure, quand pratiquement rien n'était fait contre les FDLR", proteste Azarias Ruberwa. Un homme d'affaires tutsi, lui, ne met pas de gants pour juger que, "dans ce dossier, on ne peut oublier qu'une série de proches du président Kabila sont des Hutus" - et de citer une demi-douzaine de personnalités.
Dans les chancelleries, enfin, on constate avec préoccupation "quelques signes avant-coureurs identiques à ceux observés fin 1996" , quand la première guerre congolaise avait commencé, déjà sur ce problème ethnique : "L'exacerbation des tensions entre communautés; une grande défiance vis-à-vis de Kinshasa; beaucoup de gens frustrés ( cette fois par les résultats électoraux ); une forte concentration de militaires; un regain d'activité des Maï Maï ( combattants anti-Tutsis et bandits ) et toujours les FDLR"...
April 27, 2007
Martin Fletcher in Mogadishu
Ali Mohamed Gedi greeted The Times in a large, icily air-conditioned reception room in his grand, three-storey villa hidden behind high walls near Mogadishu’s beachfront.
The Somali Prime Minister, dressed in the kind of short-sleeved khaki suit beloved by African strongmen, barely smiled.
The interview began predictably enough, with Mr Gedi claiming boldly that the insurgency would be quickly crushed and — despite much evidence to the contrary — that the Somalian people overwhelmingly supported his Government because they were sick of conflict.
It was when we raised charges that his Government was blocking humanitarian relief deliveries to hundreds of thousands of Mogadishu residents displaced by the fighting, and now living in vast encampments outside the city, that Mr Gedi veered off message.
He launched into a tirade against international aid organisations. He accused them of corruption; of using private airstrips to ship in contraband, weapons and insurgents; of striking cosy deals with warlords and the ousted Islamic Courts regime and pocketing the proceeds.
He said the United Nations’ World Food Programme and other agencies were upset because they had lost power after effectively governing Somalia during its 15 years of civil war and anarchy.
“They want to operate in this country without any control,” he declared. “They know they can’t do that any more . . . Now there’s a Prime Minister who knows them too well.”
Mr Gedi’s attack was astonishing because he was rebuffing not only the UN and the aid agencies, but the United States — hitherto one of his Government’s chief sponsors and champions.
The Times has obtained a letter sent to President Yusuf of Somalia by Michael Rannenberger, the US Ambassador in neighbouring Kenya. In it he complains angrily about the “new and unreasonable regulations” imposed on the relief agencies at a time of desperate need — the Government’s closure of airstrips used for delivering aid, its insistence on inspecting aid consignments, the looting of food deliveries by government-controlled militias, the harassment of aid workers and demands for bribes.
“These practices are unacceptable and undermine the legitimacy of your Government,” Mr Rannenberger wrote. “I request that your Government immediately take steps to resolve these issues. The highest levels of the US Government are concerned and urgent action is required.”
The Times has also obtained a letter sent to Mr Gedi this month by Graham Farmer, the UN’s acting humanitarian co-ordinator for Somalia. He protested: “Continued insecurity, militia checkpoints, and threats and intimidation of humanitarian personnel have made it impossible to deliver even minimal assistance to tens of thousands of extremely vulnerable IDPs [Internally Displaced People].”
There were signs last night that the Government may finally be relenting in the face of such protests. The World Food Programme was allowed to deliver its first large consignment of food.
Barely 24 hours after arriving in Mogadishu we were summoned to explain our presence by General Mohammad Aden Darwish, head of Somalia’s national security agency (and former resident of Kilburn High Road, London). As we sat in his office near the Presidential Palace we heard the whoosh of Katyusha rockets being fired at residential districts controlled by insurgents. The general merely laughed. “This is our music,” he said.
On another occasion we met the Environment Minister in a hotel lobby. We asked if he had any civil servants. “No,” he replied cheerfully. “But we have guns.”
Mr Rannenberger’s stern letter may have been motivated by more than purely humanitarian concerns. Somalia’s “Transitional Federal Government” (TFG) is in danger of becoming a severe embarrassment to Washington. It was the US, after all, that helped to propel it to power as part of its War on Terror last December when it encouraged Ethiopia’s repressive regime to remove the Union of Islamic Courts.
After nine days of increasingly fierce fighting in Mogadishu the TFG claimed last night to have beaten the insurgents and to be clearing “pockets of resistance”. Western diplomats were sceptical, however. The TFG is deeply unpopular and remains utterly dependent for its survival on forces from Somalia’s bitter enemy Ethiopia.
Indeed, European diplomats, officials and other experts fear that in helping to oust the Islamic courts, Washington could have wrecked Somalia’s best chance in a generation of achieving a lasting peace. For six months the courts had, for all their faults, managed to impose order on the world’s most lawless city.
The Americans “have three priorities — counter-terrorism, counter-terrorism and counter-terrorism, and they can’t see wider than that,” one diplomat told The Times.
Chatham House, the British think-tank, published a paper this week arguing that “multilateral efforts to support Somalia have been undermined by the strategic concerns of other international actors — notably Ethiopia and the United States”. It added: “The subsequent disorder has served to make [the courts'] time in control appear as a ‘Golden Age’.”
Professor I. M. Lewis, a Somali expert at the London School of Economics, says the Americans had failed to appreciate the achievements of the Islamists’ brief months in power in southern Somalia, where the courts, “with their mostly humble and poorly educated local leaders”, had taken big strides to restore order and social progress.
On paper at least, the TFG is an entirely legitimate administration forged by the international community in 2004 after two years of tortuous negotiations in Kenya. Unwilling to move to anarchic Mogadishu, however, it deployed to distant Baidoa, where it was overtaken by events in the capital. The courts, backed by a business community and population tired of endless mayhem, seized power last June after driving out the warlords who had run amok since the dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991.
This alarmed Ethiopia’s Christian elite, who feared that the rise of an Islamic state on its border would radicalise its own substantial Muslim population. It also alarmed Washington, which feared that militant Islam was spreading to the Horn of Africa and had belatedly sought to prop up the warlords. But many ordinary Somalis rejoiced at the return of order despite the courts’ strict Islamic codes.
The courts’ leadership certainly contained extremists. The Bush Administration insists that they were sheltering three al-Qaeda terrorists responsible for bombing the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. “There were some seriously bad guys operating under cover of the courts,” one European official conceded, acknowledging the possiblity that the US averted further terrorist atrocities by acting as it did.
But experts also contend that Ethio Site is currently unavailable.
April 25, 2007,
Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) announced yesterday that he would file articles of impeachment against vice president Dick Cheney. The charges are among the most serious ever contemplated under either domestic or international law.
The resolution claims the Vice President "purposely manipulated the intelligence process" and "fabricated a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction" in order to "deceive the American public" and the Congress and launch a war of aggression against Iraq. It also accuses him of actively seeking to launch a second war against Iran. (You can download the complete text of the resolution here, or view a clip of Kucinich's press conference here.)
Not only do the charges constitute the "high crimes" that were contemplated by the founders as the basis of impeachment, they're also included in the principles set out during the Nuremberg Tribunal that followed World War II.
The judges that made up the Tribunal said that launching a war of aggression was "not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."
Other legal precedents were established at Nuremberg. Principle Three is unequivocal: "The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible Government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law."
As the Kucinich resolution makes clear, Cheney's alleged crimes violate treaties ratified by the U.S. Congress -- meaning that they are also part of United States law -- second in force only to the Constitution itself.
In most of the world, this would be considered a grave matter. Given the enormous loss in blood, treasure and prestige that's resulted from the disastrous occupation of Iraq, it should be here, as well. But in Washington there seems to exist a perverse rule that's followed slavishly by the DC Press corps: the more serious the matter, the more one should treat it as a joke.
So it was that the news was greeted with the derision that only a city cloistered in a bubble like DC's could muster when discussing an illegal war that's killed more than a half-million human beings.
The trivialization started with the media quoting unnamed "Democratic aides" making statements like: "We'll see a Kucinich Administration before we'll see a Cheney impeachment."
Today, the Washington Post's Dana Milbank turned his middle-aged frat-boy analytical skills to taking Kucinich down a peg; his typically dismissive lede:
"I do not stand alone," Dennis Kucinich said as he stood, alone, in front of a cluster of microphones yesterday evening.
That passes for funny in Dana Milbank's mind. Milbank (who is himself a very, very short man) also got in a few crucially important thoughts about Kucinich's height:
Standing perhaps 5 feet 6 inches tall in shoes, he wore a solemn face as he approached the microphones, which nearly reached his eye level.
Contrast that with another president accused of lying about a sex act; in 1998, the Washington Post editorial board found that "The allegations against President Clinton are allegations of extremely serious crimes." One editorial from 1998 noted the "seriousness" of the charges against Clinton, and another said: "There is no question that President Clinton committed grave offenses and aggravated them by refusing to acknowledge either the offenses themselves or their seriousness."
The fact is that hacks like Milbank are ensconced in their own little world. When Kucinich said he doesn't stand alone he was absolutely right; a majority of Americans favor impeaching George W. Bush if he lied about Iraq's "WMDs"; that's been the case since late 2005. (Kucinich says he decided to impeach Cheney instead of Bush because he doesn't want Cheney to become president.)
Impeachment may be gathering steam in a way that the whispering ladies of the DC establishment can't stop. As John Nichols writes in The Nation:
When Nancy Pelosi announced last fall that impeachment was "off the table," official Washington accepted that the primary avenue for holding lawless Presidents to account had been closed off by the new Speaker of the House. But the Republic's citizenry has not been so inclined ... Outside Washington ... an "impeachment from below" movement is gathering steam.
In Montpellier this week, activists are bringing pressure on the Vermont House to follow the lead set by the state senate last week, which passed a resolution by a 16-9 vote calling on that state's Representatives to file articles of impeachment. Similar resolutions have been considered in Washington, Hawaii, Missouri and New Mexico in the past year.
In her book, The Impeachment of George W. Bush: A Practical Guide for Concerned Citizens, former Representative Elizabeth Holtzman argues that DC's political elite, including most in the Democratic party, opposed impeaching Richard Nixon until they felt a groundswell of public sentiment behind the move.
That groundswell of support found voice in obscure legislators -- mostly young back-benchers like Bella Abzug and Robert Drinan -- who were also dismissed by the Washington cocktail party set.
27 April 2007
Editor's Note: Shortly after this onslaught, both sides entered into negotiations for a cease-fire. During the lull in fighting, mass looting has broken out in Mogadishu.
Yesterday “we had our worst fighting yet. Ethiopian forces used massive fire power north of Mogadishu, clearing everything in sight, women and children included” said Sudan Ali Ahmed, director of the NGO ‘Elman Peace and Human Rights Organization’, who noted that at least 58 civilians were killed yesterday alone in clashes among the anti-government militias and the Ethiopian army backed by armed groups close to the Somali transition government.
“Most of Mogadishu has returned to Ethiopian hands” said Ahmed, noting that during the afternoon, just sporadic gunfire could be heard. According to the Somali NGO, at least 329 people – mostly civilians – have been killed after the resumption of fighting last April 17, while the UN undersecretary for humanitarian affairs, John Holmes said that since the start of February, some 400,000 people have abandoned Mogadishu, which has become a ghost town.
“All the factions are equally responsible for indiscriminate violence in a civilian area” said Holmes.
Meanwhile, the Arab League, in a communiqué issued in Cairo, “denounced the continuation of military operations against civilians and asked all parties to hold an immediate ceasefire and to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid”. The League also exhorted African countries to send forces to support the African peacekeeping mission in Somalia (Amisom) which “shall allow Ethiopianj troops to withdraw without leaving a security void”.
27 April 2007
“We ask the Minister of Defence, who is none other than the Head of State himself, to put a stop to this kind of excess and to teach his soldiers the difference between rebels and peaceful people, so the army regains at least a sense of humanity”, said the Central African Republic (CAR) lawmaker Marie Agba, elected in the north-western Ngaoudaye district, in a rare public appeal to President François Bozizé over a radio broadcast to bring attention to the drama afflicting the population in northern CAR.
Two years of attacks and fighting, involving armed gangs, rebel movements and government troops, have displaced more than 200,000 people and caused some 70,000 to seek refuge in neighbouring Chad and Cameroon, according to humanitarian groups.
Agba, among few political figures that have had the courage to denounce the abuses by the regular forces, also called for an international intervention: “We ask the international community to help these people because men, women, children and the elderly are wandering desperately around the bush. Hunger is already banging on their doors and when the rains come their lives will be very hard”.
“The situation in the north remained too long under the silence of the government”, confirmed to MISNA a humanitarian source contacted in the capital Bangui.
Based on UN studies, some 15 percent of women across the north of the country have been raped, while 450 children die each week from malnutrition and preventable disease.
by Andrew Cawthorne
27 April 2007
Washington and London should appoint envoys to help ensure Uganda's government and Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels do not squander their best hope for peace in 20 years, an influential think-tank said on Friday.
Talks resumed in south Sudan on Thursday, with United Nations envoy and former Mozambique president Joaquim Chissano warning that if squandered, the opportunity may never return to end a war that has killed tens of thousands and displaced 1,7-million people.
"The Juba peace process has advanced further than any previous initiative and is the best hope for a negotiated resolution," said the International Crisis Group (ICG). "But the favourable political constellation is likely to be fleeting."
Among a raft of recommendations by the ICG, which analyses trouble-spots round the world, was that the British and United States governments also appoint senior diplomats to work with Chissano.
The envoys could then jointly push for success in Juba, the capital of south Sudan, while also seeking a separate process to plan reconstruction in the shattered north of Uganda, and ensure the government refrains from threats to pursue LRA rebels into neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, ICG said.
"Both sides must be persuaded through the use of targeted leverage that peace is their only worthwhile option."
Together with the United Nations, London and Washington's envoys to the peace process should also work out a regional military strategy to prevent fighting flaring again should the Juba talks fail, the think-tank added.
Britain is Uganda's former colonial ruler and a big aid contributor, while Washington makes no secret of its impatience for an end to one of the world's most brutal yet neglected wars.
Led by self-declared prophet Joseph Kony and born out of the ethnic Acholi community in 1986, the LRA guerrillas are notorious for mutilating civilians and kidnapping children.
In camps where they were supposed to receive refuge, north Ugandans have instead suffered horrors, with 1 000 people a week dying from treatable diseases, ICG said, quoting local figures.
"HIV rates in the north hover near 12%, twice the national average. Over 12% of females aged 30 to 44 are widows ... Women have faced widespread sexual and domestic violence," it added in its new report on Uganda.
The think-tank urged international donors, who finance 40% of Uganda's budget, to use that influence in favour of peace. It also called for a more representative LRA team.
"The LRA delegation, mainly diaspora Acholi detached from the conflict, lacks competency, credibility and cohesiveness ... In the rigidly hierarchical LRA, Joseph Kony is the key to a peace deal, and efforts to engage him must be enhanced."
Perhaps the biggest sticking point, however, remains International Criminal Court indictments for Kony and four of his commanders, analysts say. Kony has said he will never agree to peace unless the warrants are scrapped.
But ICG said the warrants "helped bring the LRA to the table, keep it engaged and are not insurmountable obstacles" given options like traditional Acholi reconciliation ceremonies, after which officials could call for the warrants to be dropped.
27 April 2007
Editor's Note: The North-South Civil War was portrayed in the western media as a war between Christians and Muslims (never mind the animists). This resulted in a massive mobilization of Christian "aid" organizations to become involved in the situation. Some, like Norwegian People's Aid, to ship arms to the SPLA in order to defeat the muslims "threat." (See http://www.espac.org/norwegian_pages/norwegian_aid.asp for example). Many of the Dinka refugees who left that war for the U.S. were sponsored by Christian families and organizations once they arrived. The Church in South Sudan, like in many areas of Africa, still has lots of influence. With the urging of western powers, Sudan's Catholic Church will mobilize the people to make South Sudan autonomous,the ultimate goal for western backers. GOSS President Salva Kiir, a Dinka military man, is himself a successionist, unlike his late predecessor Dr. John Garang.
The President of Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference, His Grace Archbishop Paulino Lokudu Loro today said south Sudanese must look for new leaders who cherish the aspiration of south Sudanese for separation.
He said the current unfolding situation in southern Sudan requires unity of purpose from all southern Sudanese especially during the time of national census.
Speaking at the closing session of the two days workshop on Justice and Peace at Catholic Relief Service center, the prelate said “it’s regrettable that the masses of southern Sudan are not being adequately educated on the vital exercises of the national census that would pave ways for proper planning and effective development of the marginalized areas of the Sudan.”
Archbishop Loro challenged southern political elites to come up in defense of people’s aspiration for separation than misleading them with the words of New Sudan and making unity attractive to people who have been marginalized for more than fifty years.
Meanwhile the commander of Patriotic Resistance Movement, Alfred Lado Gore, said “it is time to call a spade a spade, adding that people must clearly demand for their democratic right to freedom that would lead the to separation from the north.” Commander Gore further added that unity is the most important at this particular time. He cautioned the innocent masses at grassroots to be careful of some southern Sudanese sons and daughter who might have been used to suppress the people’s aspiration for separation from Khartoum.
The participants observed that grievances arose among the ranks and files of the SPLM/A in August 1991 and it let them to fragment into more than ten tribal factions that was after the comprehensive peace agreement reduced to six political groupings.
Yet there are still imbalances in geographical appointments in GoSS leadership characterized with ethnic recruitment that pave ways to tribal tensions and mal practice of corruptions in public offices, rampant injustice inflicted on individuals and groups of people, delay or non payments of salaries to employees and the groups of soldiers holding arms.
The South-South dialogue, brain child of churches in April 2005 was intended to reconcile the warring southern Sudanese factions/parties in order to uphold the interest of the suffering and marginalized Sudanese to air out their grievances for the shake of unity of southern Sudan.
The National Population Census scheduled for November 9th 2007 is very important for the distribution of political constituencies, power-sharing, wealth-sharing and services provision to the Sudanese people but the Khartoum government is deliberately delaying in for their own interest.
Otherwise, without proper census, there would be no fair election that would deliver people’s aspiration and expectation.
“The present government in Khartoum is very keen on diluting the census and election hence it dose not want to change governing rule of election including appointment of electorate commission instead it incorporated the SPLM in its old electorate Commission mostly constituted in accordance with Islamic Sharia code.”
Today in Southern Sudan, people link Census to taxes because Census enlightenment to grassroots people is very poor therefore southerners should be prepared to also get poor result.
Yet appropriate national census result would be of great effect in planning of the coming general election and the referendum at the end of six years interim period in year 2011. Therefore, southern Sudanese people need to be prepared and empowered to vote responsibly “through an urgent aggressive civic education in the ten states of southern Sudan,” the conference recommended.
The workshop participants appealed to GoSS Government to respect the constitutions and rule of laws and to embrace practice of inclusiveness than creating divisions among Southern Sudan.
They observed that Peace building must aim at reviving a country’s economy, establishing participatory system of governance, fair administrations of judicial, disarmament and demobilization of former combatants who should also be social sustain fairly, psychological and economic rehabilitation among others.
The Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the Darfur Peace Agreement and Eastern Sudan Peace were all signed on the conference tables without much involvement of the society. Until the entire society are fully involved the agreements faces many challenges, remarks participants
The following are Recommendations derived from the two days workshop organized by National Justice and Peace Commission of the catholic Bishops conference held at Catholic Relief service premises in Juba on national census and election:
• Government must create Stability in southern Sudan for achieving better result of the national census in southern Sudan.
• South Sudanese churches should participate actively in Civic education and dissemination of the CPA documents to empower grassroots people as government is failing to reach cross section of southern Sudanese.
• Government should ensured adequate Security for the People of South Sudan especially during the national census campaign.
• Church committee must be formed and co-opted into existing government census committee to monitor the problems of Census, elections and referendum.
• LRA movement within the country must be cleared out to enable the return of the IDPs to their home lands.
• The Church must be involved in government committee of Information and publicity in order to ensure proper and appropriate usage of census funds for enlightening rural People.
• The DDR process must be speed up in order to pave way for smooth running of the November 2007census.
• All census offices in southern Sudan must be empowered and equipped with necessary facilities.
• There is a need to have a laity or a priest to represent the Church in the government.
• The church should now confirm the version of “Let my people choose” New approach.
Formulation of special committee as a mechanism to implement the recommendations of Justice and Peace Commission workshop
Formation of Civil society to aggressively sensitize the entire populace in southern Sudan on Referendum by south Sudanese
Enlightenment of political leaders, civil society and the grassroots communities on the importance of conducting referendum for south Sudanese
The Use of Independent media should be encouraged to focus on activities of civil society and other opinion.
There should be more workshops for enlightenment of political and civil societies.
South Sudanese churches should call for south-south dialogue to forge unity of south Sudanese people
The church should lob for funding for establishment of independent media and other programmes of civil society.
The church should advocacy/lobby to address threats facing the smooth process of carrying out the referendum process among south Sudanese.
The church call on friendly countries in Africa America Europe and world wide to support the cause of south Sudanese for a free and independent country.
International community should be involve in monitoring referendum in year 2011
South Sudan churches should use their structures for disseminating information to cross section of Sudanese.
South Sudanese churches together with civil society need to prepare new leaders for presidency of south Sudan who have clear vision for south Sudan.
The church should act as a watch dog in Good governance practices in southern Sudan
26 April 2007
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr Charles Murigande, has said that the current relationship between Rwanda and her neighboring sister Uganda is very good. Addressing 60 delegates from Rubaga division of Kampala who were concluding a one week visit to Gasabo district, Murigande thanked Rubaga division mayor Winnie Makumbi and the entire delegation for the visit, especially in a month where the country is moaning the loved one who lost their lives in the 1994 genocide.
“You can imagine the joy I have as the Minister of Foreign Affairs to see relations between two countries coming to such a level. It is always a great achievement to see sister countries in good terms.” he said.
Murigande said that in spite of the fact that Rwanda’s political, social and economical development was destabilized during the 1994 Genocide, the country was now taking a new route and a lot had been achieved in terms of economic development as well as unity and reconciliation.
He further said that the visit was a good indicator for future cooperation between the two countries as well as the entire EAC member countries, especially in this period when Rwanda has joined the East African community.
Gasabo district mayor Claudine Nyinawagaga thanked the Ugandan delegates for having chosen to visit her district and promised she would organize the same visit to Rubaga soon.
In her remarks, Makumbi thanked Gasabo district and the Rwandan government in general for the hospitality rendered during their visit adding that she looked forward to receiving Rwandan delegates to her division.
“It was wonderful being in this country, it a beautiful country with a beautiful people and culture. This visit has opened our doors, we shall always visit.” she said.
The Ugandan delegation from Rubaga division in Kampala which was headed
by the Mayor Winnie Makumbi together with district councilors and
division committee members concluded their visit on Thursday 26th /2007.
by Robert Mukombozi
26 April 2007
President Paul Kagame yesterday discussed investment opportunities in the country with a team of investors from the United States.Under a consortium Maui Mastermind, the 22-man team of investors and entrepreneurs from different countries of the US are in the country to identify investment opportunities in various sectors. According to the team leader, David Pinkel, the group shared ideas with the president on areas that have vast investment and entrepreneurship opportunities throughout the country.
“We briefed the President (Mr Kagame) on various investments we have around the US and Europe and our major areas of investment and it is interesting that we were able to establish key areas in Rwanda that need boost,” he told journalists immediately after the meeting at Village Urugwiro.
Among the areas in which the US investors and entrepreneurs have expressed interest, according to Pinkel include Crafts, Tea and Coffee, Housing and the critical health sector.
“We also went through the investment climate in Rwanda and the way we can export expertise from the US into the country,” he said, adding that where necessary they would set up micro enterprises and industries that would work mainly on packaging commodities to meet international standards before leaving the Rwandan soil for US and European markets.
With a week in the country, he also noted that the team would meet proprietors of local industries among other large, small and medium business entities in a move that would enable them to identify where suitable to enter joint ventures or find suitable locations for starting up more enterprises.
The Maui mastermind investment and entrepreneurs Group comprises members with businesses and outlets in various US countries like California, Washington and Virginia among others.
“The investment climate in Rwanda is suitable and with the contacts we have around the world it will help us to do the packaging of Rwandan made goods and subsequently become quite simple for us to do the distribution and marketing on various international markets,” Pinkel said.
The State Minister for Commerce and Investment, Mr Vincent Karega commended the group for showing interests to invest in Rwanda. He said their ingenuity especially in key sectors would undoubtedly boost economic performance.
“The US investors and entrepreneurs have expressed interest to venture into ICT, Health, Tourism and Housing and they are still exploring other areas in which they can provide both expertise and resources,” he said in an interview.
Citing the field of health where the team has expressed interest to provide expertise and solicit for bursaries on an international scale, the minister said such initiatives would develop, while at the same time increase the country’s dwindling human resources in this particular
“The individual and group investments in the country will boost both productivity and marketing of our products hence increasing foreign exchange earnings,” Karega said, re-affirming government’s commitment to support the investments.
Editor's Note: Once again, I ask, why patronize these individuals who are wanted for an international act of terrorism.
by Felly Kimenyi and Robert Mukombozi
26 April 2007
Belgium has denied the Rwandan commission charged with adducing evidence on the role of France in the Rwandan Genocide permission to interview serving military and political officials, The New Times has learnt.
According to the Commission’s president, Jean de Dieu Mucyo, the Belgian government turned down the commission’s requests when the government applied to interview some of the officials who were in Rwanda during the Genocide.
“We channelled our written requests through the Belgian embassy in Kigali and after our first letter (dated February 5) went unanswered, we followed it up with another one on March 12 only to get a reply that we cannot interview officials who are still serving either in military or political circles,” Mucyo said in an interview.
The announcement stopping the government from attempting to interview some high ranking military and political officials still serving in the Brussels government was contained in a March 28 letter, The New Times has learnt Mucyo, who is the former Prosecutor General, said that the Belgians first asked them to submit the names of the people they wanted to interview but later pointed out that they were ‘not in position to let serving officers to testify’.
He however said that this will not frustrate the functioning of the commission because the commission has got a lot of information and many people to testify adding that some were from the same European state.
“It is only that we needed many people to testify in order to cross-check with the information we already have but since they are not willing to let them testify, we will use what we have,” Mucyo said.
The Belgian Ambassador to Rwanda Francois Roux confirmed the development but said it was not a deliberate move to block the commission.
“It is true that our government stopped the Mucyo commission from collecting some testimonies from serving military and political leaders because there are some laws that do not allow them to do so,” he told The New Times in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.
Roux explained that the Brussels establishment had recently amended some of the laws that now restrict such a category of people from giving testimonies in a foreign country when they still serve different leadership portfolios in Belgium.
“According to the new law, serving political leaders and senior military officers can only give the commission their testimonies under a specific legal arrangement that includes taking an oath and the testimonies have to be recorded among others,” the Belgian Ambassador said, adding that he was yet to meet President Paul Kagame over the issue.
“I wrote to the commission over the matter and I am now meeting the President (Kagame) very soon to try and see how we can go around this problem,” Roux said.
The denial by Belgian government follows that of France which, through Michele Alioti-Marie, the French Defence Minister gave a directive early this year blocking all officials attached to her ministry to talk to the commission.
by Gasheegu Muramila
26 April 2007
President Paul Kagame has defined the ideology of genocide as an indistinct belief in people that still needs to be subjected to thorough research. While officiating at the launch of a book with reports on the findings of the genocide ideology conducted around the country by the Senate at Kigali Serena Hotel yesterday, Kagame said that the cause and justification of the ideology were key issues that needed to be researched on for Rwandans to understand.
The book, which is a comprehensive analysis of the genocide ideology around the country, is called ‘Rwanda: Genocide Ideology and Strategies for its Eradication’.
Kagame said that it is usual for people to revenge against each other, but wondered what reason best explains a parent who kills his own child because he claims the child looks Tutsi.
While appreciating the importance of research to Rwandans, Kagame underscored that it’s imperative that Rwandans in particular value themselves other than waiting for foreigners to give them the value.
Attributing it to lack of interest on the part of Rwandans and Africans in particular, Kagame emphasised that Rwanda has methods that can solve its own problems and therefore it would be improper for the foreigners to value policies in Rwanda much more than Rwandans themselves whose problems the policies directly solve.
He said that like any country, foreign nations have imperfections that should not be mixed up with problems Rwanda already has to solve.
He said that those particular countries are not righteous and can be criticized.
In his remarks at the well attended function, the Senate President Dr Vincent Biruta said that the study shows that the biggest percentage of Rwandans appreciate the local Gacaca judicial system saying it had made strides in the enhancement of justice compared to the international court.
Biruta who said that the book doesn’t address all the issues related to the genocide ideology problem hastened to add that the book however sheds light on some of the issues thus leading to more studies.
The Constitution of the Republic of Rwanda of June 2003, assigned to the Senate a special mission to oversee the respect of the fundamental principles one among them being to fight the genocide ideology and all its manifestations.
Present at the function were the President of the Supreme Court Aloysia Cyanzaire, the Prime Minister Bernard Makuza, several several government dignitaries and heads of diplomatic missions.
27 April 2007.
April 26, 2007 (RABAT) — Key players in the crisis over western Sudan’s Darfur region will meet in Libya this weekend as U.S. patience with Sudan runs low and the threat of international sanctions hangs over the Khartoum government.
’Every day,we risk being beaten, or even worse,’ said Kharidja Ibrahim on Wednesday Oct 11 2006, in the north Darfur camp of Kassab, where she lives with some 25,000 other refugees. (AP)The United States and Britain are demanding that Sudan accept a strong U.N. peacekeeping force in Darfur, where four years of conflict — termed genocide by Washington — have killed at least 200,000 people and displaced some 2.5 million.
The talks planned for Saturday and Sunday are the latest in a series hosted by Libya, whose leader Muammar Gaddafi styles himself as an African nationalist and believes the continent should solve its own problems without being reliant on the West.
A Western diplomat said that while Libya hoped for a breakthrough, it was doubtful whether the hosts were prepared to exert sufficient pressure on Sudan to achieve this.
"They (the Libyans) want to get a recommitment to a proper ceasefire, with a set of measures to be taken against anybody who breaks it," the diplomat said, while noting that Libya is opposed to sanctions.
An overstretched African Union (AU) force of some 7,000 peacekeepers has so far failed to stop the violence, and one of its officers said this week that Arab militias, known as Janjaweed, were killing and pillaging with impunity.
The Sudanese government rejects the term genocide and denies any connection with the militias, calling them outlaws and insisting that it takes action against them when it can.
U.S. President George W. Bush has warned Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir he has one last chance to avoid sanctions by allowing a full joint U.N.-AU peacekeeping force.
So far Sudan has agreed to a "heavy support package" for the African Union troops in Darfur that includes some 3,500 U.N. military and police personnel.
But Khartoum has not approved a "hybrid" U.N.-AU force of more than 20,000 troops and police, which the U.N. Security Council first authorised last August.
Britain and the United States have been drawing up a sanctions resolution if Sudan continues to balk at U.N. demands, although no date has been set for its introduction in the 15-member U.N. Security Council.
Among the measures under consideration are an arms embargo for the entire country. Separately, Washington has already imposed sanctions of its own and is considering more.
Libyan state media have been silent on the weekend talks and diplomats said Libya had not circulated proposals in advance.
Hosted by Gaddafi’s Africa minister, the meeting brings together Sudan’s foreign minister, special Darfur envoys from the United Nations, African Union, United States, European Union and Britain, and senior officials or ministers from France, Canada, Egypt, Norway, Russia, Chad and Eritrea, diplomats said.
Libya has stepped up its involvement in trying to find a peaceful solution in Darfur and stop that conflict from spreading into neighbouring countries.
Libya has taken a lead in trying to broker peace between Chad and Sudan, which accuse each other of supporting rebels involved in cross-border attacks.
In early April, a Libyan envoy in Khartoum announced Libyan and Eritrean observers would be posted along the Chad-Sudan border.
April 25, 2007
The Speaker of the Liberian House of Representatives, Hon. Alex Tyler, has stressed the need for more U.S involvement and support for the reconstruction of Liberia.
Hon. Tyler said the U.S. government must strive towards improving the capacity of members of the Legislature and their staff, especially in the conduct of their proceedings and helping to enhance a better coordinated dialogue between the legislative and executive branches of government.
Speaker Tyler who is on a working private visit in the U.S, made the call when he met with officials of the West African Affairs Office and the Liberian Desk officer at the Department of States in Washington D.C.
Among those he met were the Director of the West African Affairs Office, Philip Carter, Liberian Desk Officer, Peter Davis; Office of the Secretary's Policy Planning Staff member, Theodore Craig; and USAID Governance Advisor Keith Schulz.
At a round table discussion, the officials congratulated Hon. Tyler for his election to head the House of Representatives, saying that they were impressed at his initial efforts especially to improve on relations between the Legislative and Executive branches of government.
The officials said they were concerned about indications from Monrovia about disagreements between the executive and the legislative branches of government, which they said was very critical.
The West African Affairs Director, Mr. Philip Carter stressed that Liberia is still a priority to the United States, not only because of political and traditional ties, but also as a moral obligation to see it succeeded as a success story for America.
He said the U.S can only succeed in Liberia if relations between the Executive and Legislative branches are developed within the Liberian concept. Mr. Carter called on speaker Tyler to collaborate with his colleagues to establish priorities that would not drive away donors.
He said the US is not the only donor, but it will coordinate with other donors so that there would be no duplication in their efforts to improve and equip the capacity of the Legislators and the staffers.
Responding, Hon. Tyler said he sees the relationship between the Executive and his leadership at the Legislature as a challenge; and that he will coordinate and cooperate with the Executive, but not to compromise the integrity of that branch of government.
He said he will ensure that the legislature works as the voice of the people, and that the executive must in future initiate consultations with the legislature rather than making all of the decisions only to be pushed on the legislature to pass into law or approve for implementation.
He noted that his leadership will ensure consultations with the civil society and all stake holders before legislations are passed.
Speaker Tyler assured the U.S authorities that this time around, the Legislature will encourage dialogue and exchange of views, instead of just opposing actions of the executive.
He said there is however the need to re-examine the balance of power between the branches of government rather than looking at government as a one group thing.
The speaker then requested for additional funding to develop the capacity of the Legislators and their staffers, especially with the conduct of legislative sessions to reflect how modern democracy works in a legislature where the ruling party does not have majority membership.
He said the legislature under his leadership will consider petitions for constitutional reform, especially to re-visit laws that are not investor friendly and others that do not reflect realities of the day.
The Liberian Speaker used the occasion to inform oOfficials that the House has debated and passed the Mittal Steel agreement which will provide job opportunities for thousands of qualified Liberians.
The Speaker was accompanied to the Department of States by Liberia embassy acting Deputy Chief of Mission and Charge d'Affaire, Mr. Alexander Wallace, and Minister Counselor for Public Affairs, Mr. Samuel Abu.
In another development, the Liberian Speaker was later invited as guest of honor to a reception tendered by the House Democracy Assistance Commission, at the Library of Congress on Capitol Hill.
The Speaker was lauded by the House Democracy Assistance Commission for his election. The Staff Director of the Commission John Lis said the United States Congress is willing and ready to work with Speaker Tyler's leadership.
Mr. Lis said they are confident that speaker Tyler's leadership will bring greater cooperation between the US Congress and the Liberian Legislature.
He assured Speaker Tyler that the U.S government will continue repair works at the Capitol Building and training programs for members of Parliament. Speaker Tyler for his part, thanked members of the House Democracy Assistance Commission and assured them of his cooperation in pursuing assistance to develop the capacity of the Liberian Legislature.
The dinner was also attended by the President of the Senate of Columbia, and a high power Legislative Delegation from Lebanon.
26 April 2007
A high-level mission from the Special Court of Sierra Leone is expected to arrive in the country today.
The mission will be led by Acting Registrar, Herman von Hebel, and will include Prosecutor Stephen Rapp, Principal Defender Vincent O. Nmehielle, and other Special Court officials.
The mission, which is being arranged with the assistance of UNMIL pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1750 (2007), will include high-level meetings with Liberian and UN officials, a town hall meeting, visits to W.V.S. Tubman High School and the University of Liberia, and a meeting with members of Liberian Civil Society.
It is not clear what will be the subject of discussion of the meetings or what the mission hopes to achieve by those meetings, but a Special Court release said the acting registrar, the prosecutor, and the principal defender will provide updates on the work of the court and the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor at The Hague.
They will also answer questions and make clarifications of easily avoidable misunderstandings. The mission is in line with the Security Council’s call in resolution 1688 for the Special Court “to make the trial proceedings accessible to the people of the sub region”.
It is the first visit by Special Court officials to Liberia since 2004, and the first since Mr. Taylor was turned over to the custody of the Special Court.
A press conference by the acting registrar is scheduled for 25 April at 3:30 pm at the UNMIL Media Centre, according to the special court dispatch which said the prosecutor and the principal defender will be also present to respond to questions from journalists.
The Special Court is an independent tribunal established jointly by the United Nations and the Government of Sierra Leone. It is mandated to bring to justice those who bear the greatest responsibility for atrocities committed in Sierra Leone after 30 November 1996.
To date, the prosecutor has indicted eleven persons on various charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law.
Minister Jackson Doe Clarifies Debt Story
The Minister of Post and Telecommunications, Jackson E. Doe, has clarified that he personally does not owe the Leno International Travel Agency for services rendered to the government of Liberia through his ministry.
“I am not personally obligated to Leno Travel Agency as being insinuated , but rather the Ministry of Post & Telecommunications, and we at the ministry have been doing everything possible to ensure settlement of the debt”, he clarified.
Reacting to a news story published by this paper under the captioned, “Postal Affair Minister Indebted to Travel Agency”, Minister Doe confirmed that the ministry is indebted to the travel agency.
According to him, such indebtedness becomes the Liberian government’s obligation and not him as a person saying the government is responsible to shoulder all obligations of its officials or agencies in line of duty.
He explained that he led a two-man delegation to America and Europe and the round trip tickets were pre-financed by the Leno International Travel Agency for subsequent settlement through voucher system of government.
According to him, when the ministry raised the voucher of US$11,388 in favor of the agency, the management failed to collect the money from the Finance Ministry until the 2006 Recast Budget elapsed thus it has become domestic debt of the government.
“We did raise the voucher marked 001/06 and dated April 13, 2006 in the tune of US$11,388 for the Leno International Travel Agency for round trip tickets for two officials, but the agency is besmearing my name as if I personally owes them”.
Minister Doe said upon return from abroad, he exerted every effort to ensure full payment for the round trip tickets, but the management of the travel agency complained him to the Justice Ministry on January 12, 2007.
Accordingly, the Solicitor General wrote him on January 18 and he replied the Justice Ministry on March 5, 2007 admitting that the ministry is indebted to the travel agency; not him as a person.
He said the delay in payment is not intentional but rather caused by failure of the agency to follow up its voucher raised at the Finance Ministry.
Pristina, Serbia, April 27 (Reuters) - Ambassadors of the 15 U.N. Security Council member states get their first look on Friday at Serbia's breakaway Kosovo province, which Western powers want to make independent within months.
The diplomats touched down after dark on Thursday on a French military flight from Belgrade, where they heard from Serb leaders fiercely opposed to a U.N. plan for territory cherished by Serbs but dominated by 2 million ethnic Albanians.
The fact-finding mission, which continues on Saturday, is part of an intensifying diplomatic test of wills between Russia and the West over a blueprint drafted by former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari after 13 months of fruitless Serb-Albanian dialogue.
Instigated by Russia, the mission will visit divided towns and devastated villages, meet leaders of the 90 percent Albanian majority and top representatives of 100,000 Serbs, and hear from U.N. and NATO officials during a 48-hour tour.
Russia has backed a Serbian call for more talks, branding Ahtisaari's plan a "failure" and cautioning it will set a precedent if the Kosovo Albanian demand for self-determination trumps Serbian state sovereignty.
But the United States and its European allies want the Security Council to end Kosovo's U.N. protectorate status by June, with a resolution endorsing the plan for independence under European Union supervision.
They fear the 16,500 NATO troops they lead there will face mass unrest if Albanians are made to wait much longer.
"We aren't going to improve the possibilities for a stable situation in the Balkans by delay," U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice told a NATO foreign ministers' meeting in Oslo on Thursday. "We are going to have to act".
Kosovo Prime Minister Agim Ceku said on Thursday the province "and our allies" expect a U.N. resolution in late May.
Kosovo has been run by the United Nations since 1999, when NATO drove out Serb forces accused of killing and expelling civilians in a two-year war with separatist guerrillas. Ten thousand Albanians died.
Western powers behind the 78-day NATO bombing campaign see no chance of restoring Serbian rule. Belgrade has offered autonomy, but analysts believe it might settle for the Serb-dominated northern quadrant which it already controls.
Some 100,000 Serbs remain in Kosovo. Up to 200,000 fled following the war, and several thousand had camped out on the border since early Thursday demanding to meet the U.N. mission.
After morning meetings with Kosovo's president and prime minister and Serb and religious leaders, the delegation will visit the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica in the north.
On Saturday it travels to the western village of Mala Krusa -- where 116 Albanian men and boys were massacred on a single day in March 1999 -- and two nearby Serb enclaves.
26 April, 2007
There has been a sharp increase in attacks on civilians since a five year old buffer zone dividing Ivory Coast was taken down, an aid group says.
UN and French soldiers who patrolled the zone began withdrawing last week after a peace deal between the president and former rebel leader.
Rebel leader Guillaume Soro is now prime minister under the agreement.
Medecins San Frontieres (MSF) says there are now almost daily attacks around the western town of Bangolo.
The region has been the site of several human rights abuses in recent years.
Bangolo is part of what has been termed the triangle of death.
It is not far from the border with Liberia and used to be in the confidence zone.
Before the buffer zone was removed, UN and French peacekeepers were unable to stop human rights abuses there.
Now the area they once patrolled is under the control of the loyalist armed forces and the New Forces rebels.
When the confidence zone was removed, joint brigades of loyalists, rebels and foreign peacekeepers were created.
But their exact responsibilities remain unclear.
The UN and French peacekeepers have withdrawn to a number of observation posts and no longer patrol the wide band of territory that was the confidence zone.
According to MSF, armed bandits are multiplying their attacks around Bangolo, and the group says they are imposing a law of fear.
The road between the town of Duekoue, in the government-controlled south, and Man, which is in the hands of the New Forces, is considered to be particularly dangerous.
In recent years there have been clashes over land or ethnic rivalry, while others are simply banditry.
But the removal of the confidence zone means many people are worried that the problem may worsen considerably.
If the loyalist and rebel troops cannot provide security for citizens on their territory, the value of some of the recent steps taken in the peace process will be called into question.
But the west of Ivory Coast is such a troubled region that it will almost certainly remain dangerous long after the civil war is over.
26 April 2007
APA-Kampala (Uganda) The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) have increased patrols on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo following heavy fighting that erupted Tuesday between the Congolese soldiers and rebel militias in the North Kivu province, APA learnt here Thursday.
UPDF Second Division spokesperson, Lt. Kiconco Tabaro, Thursday said the patrols seek to stop the possible infiltration of militia fighters into Ugandan territory.
There are concerns that some of the fighters are attempting to enter Uganda under the pretext of being refugees, he told reporters, but noted that more troops were being deployed along the border from Kisoro (south western region) to Arua (west nile region) district.
He quoted Aid workers as saying that thousands of civilians have fled fighting between Congolese government troops and rebel militias and that they have been forced to shelter in makeshift camps 100 kilometres from Goma town.
Thousands of people are believed to have been displaced since clashes between the two groups started in January.
26 April 2007
APA-Cotonou (Benin) Benin’s head of state, Yayi Boni, Thursday called on Africa’s technical and financial partners to support community development programmes undertaken by the mine and energy sectors, APA learnt here.
Speaking in Cotonou at the opening ceremony of the third meeting of the Energy and Mines ministers of the Community of Sahelo-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), President Boni said the partners’ support was crucial in fighting against poverty, achieving the Millennium Development Goals and consolidating democracy.
CEN-SAD secretary-general, Mohamed Al Madani Al Azhari, acquiescing with Boni’s idea, underscored the need to exploit the available energy resources particularly oil, coal, hydraulic electricity, natural gas, biomass and other renewable energy sources.
The gas and oil resources of Africa in general and that of the Community of Sahelo Saharan States in particular, are sufficient to satisfy the needs of the populations of the continent, he concluded.
Editor's Note: Kony is still in Congo.
Juba, Sudan, April 26 (Reuters) - Talks between Uganda's government and northern rebels to end two decades of civil war resumed on Thursday with a U.N. envoy warning both sides not to let the chance for peace slip through their grasp.
Former Mozambique president Joaquim Chissano told government negotiators and Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) representatives that on his country's long road to peace, it had never seen support like that being offered to help end Uganda's conflict.
"Do not let this opportunity go," Chissano told the delegates before they went into closed-door discussions at a hotel in Southern Sudan's capital Juba.
"If lost, this opportunity shall never return."
Reinforcing the international drive for peace, mediators from South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia also attended, along with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and Western diplomats.
"We are here to solve problems," the head of the LRA delegation, Martin Ojul, told Reuters before the meeting.
"Our expectation is things will go smoothly."
Three months ago, the LRA negotiators walked out of the talks after Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir threatened them. But last month, Chissano convinced them to return.
The head of the government team, Internal Affairs Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, said his administration would do "everything possible" to bring peace.
"(We'll) ensure our brothers and sisters of the LRA ... are able to come home with heads high and nothing to fear," he said.
The insurgency, led by guerrillas infamous for murdering and mutilating civilians and kidnapping children to serve as soldiers, has killed tens of thousands of people and forced 1.7 million more into squalid camps.
The desperate conditions in the camps, which lack adequate water and medicine, led the United Nations to call northern Uganda one of the world's worst humanitarian catastrophes.
A truce signed between the two parties last August at the talks raised hopes of an end to one of Africa's longest wars.
But most camp residents have seen little to cheer so far.
The biggest sticking point remains International Criminal Court (ICC) indictments for the LRA's elusive, self-proclaimed prophet leader Joseph Kony and four of his commanders on charges of mass murder, rape and child abduction.
Kony has said he will never agree to peace unless the warrants are scrapped, and Ojul said the rebel negotiators' first priorities were the security of the group's leaders and the resolution of the ICC issue.
April 26, 2007
Editor's Note: It was these exact same conditions that allowed Foday Sankoh and Charles Taylor to recruit virtually the entire RUF army from unemployed and disillusioned youth in eastern Sierra Leone by falsely promising them pay and shelter in the 1990s.
With tens of thousands of youths still out of work more than five years after the end of Sierra Leone's civil war, many say that prospects for employment will be what they demand of the new leaders they are to elect in July.
In the capital, Freetown, young men loiter on street corners, in bars and in front of televisions in cafes. Many of them are former fighters.
"They are largely illiterate school dropouts seeking a living from petty trading, narcotic drug peddling, prostitution and theft," according to a policy document on youth activities by the Ministry of Youth and Sports. It said the majority of the idle youths fled their communities during the war and gravitated to cities such as Freetown on the coast, and Bo and Kenema in the east.
The United Nations estimates unemployment to be about 65 percent in Sierra Leone. Human rights groups have warned about the potential for unemployed youths in Sierra Leone, as well as in neighbouring Liberia, Cote d'Ivoire and Guinea, to be drawn into conflict. All of those nations have experienced civil war or social upheaval in the past decade.
"Current levels of unemployment among young men and women in West Africa are a ticking time bomb for the region and beyond," according to "Youth Unemployment and Regional Insecurity in West Africa," a report published in 2006 by the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA).
"This is not just a social disaster and a huge wasted economic asset," the report said. "Ever-rising joblessness among youths and the desperation that accompanies it undermines the possibility of progress in those countries in the region that are emerging from conflict."
The report said that until the situation changes, the likelihood of having genuine peace, security and development in West Africa remains small. The general and presidential elections scheduled for 28 July will be the second elections held since the end of the decade-long civil war. The poll is widely regarded as a test for the country's peacebuilding efforts.
Although most youths lack jobs, some former fighters in Freetown manage to earn a little money by pushing carts made of scrap wood, called 'omolanke', to help traders transport their commodities.
"Things are not well for us young people in Sierra Leone," said 19-year-old Mohammed Kombay. When asked, few of the youths interviewed in Freetown would admit to being a former combatant.
"Most of us earn the highest amount of 10,000 Leones [about US$3]. This is very small for us when we take into consideration the high cost of living in Freetown," Kombay said.
Patricia Sowa, who is in her 20s, sells cigarettes and candy out of a wooden box. "The youth of this country need opportunities where we can work and earn at least something that would help sustain us," she said.
"Things are tough on us, and as for me I refused to join my friends in the streets to prostitute, because it is risky venture," she said. "Even this cigarette business, things are not moving smoothly. I hardly make money."
The Sierra Leonean government and the UN agree that addressing youth unemployment is key to consolidating peace in the country.
"Together with international partners, the Sierra Leonean government and the UN have agreed that there is a need to provide gainful employment for these youths... We have identified them as a major factor for peacebuilding," Carolyn McAskie, UN assistant secretary-general for Peacebuilding Support, told IRIN.
"One of the big issues of the Peacebuilding Commission is finding short and longer term solutions to these problems," she said.
For its part, the Youth and Sports Ministry has launched its Youth Employment Scheme (YES) to hire youths for nationwide roadside clean-up operations.
"The key challenge facing this country after the war is the productive engagement of our young people... failure to engage in productive activities might compromise the gains in making the country peaceful and stable," said Dennis Bright, youth and sports minister.
He said there are currently 9,000 youths hired under YES and the government hopes to take on an additional 5,000 youths.
"This YES program is helping us to gain some money that can address some of our weekly family needs," said Kanja Sillah, a 20 year-old former fighter. "But our concern is whether we will still have some permanent jobs to do, because an idle mind is a devil's workshop."