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NEWS FROM AFRICA: 31/10/02
Posted By: News
Date: 31, October 02, at 6:56 p.m.
SOMALI WARLORDS AND REGIONAL LEADERS ENDORSE PEACE PACT
ELDORET: Somali warlords and regional leaders have endorsed a peace agreement that calls for a cease-fire and a new system of government for the country. Many say it is the best chance yet to end 12 years of death and chaos in Somalia. Mediators say the Somali peace talks, being held in neighbouring Kenya, is the largest gathering of Somali faction leaders since 1993. The international community has also applied more pressure than ever before on the Somalis to end years of internecine fighting. Mediators say today's ceremony shows that for the first time in years, the talks are yielding results, with speaker after speaker pledging to continue the peace process.
Meanwhile, Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi has also endorsed the peace accord. Moi chairs the Somalia committee of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development which is the regional body behind talks aimed at setting up a functioning government in Somalia after more than a decade of violence.
RIGHTWING ELEMENTS TO BE PROBED IN S.A. SECURITY SERVICES
CAPE TOWN: South Africa's Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota says investigations are underway that white right-wingers in the army and police could be part of a plot to plunge the country into a race war. A spate of bomb explosions yesterday, blamed on white extremists, has raised fears of new right-wing violence that could threaten the racial balance established since the end of apartheid rule in 1994. Nine bomb blasts rocked the sprawling black residential area of Soweto near Johannesburg, killing one woman. A tenth explosion near the capital, Pretoria, wounded two.
DEATH TOLL FROM FLOODS IN KENYA COASTAL PROVINCE RISES TO 14
MOMBASA: The death toll from flooding in Kenya's Coast Province has risen from six to 14 as heavy rains continue to pound the Indian Ocean coastal region. Government officials say 12 of the victims died in the remote Tana River district after a dam burst its walls along the River Tana, submerging whole villages. They say the floods have washed away roads, making it difficult for relief and emergency officials to get supplies to people in remote areas. Heavy rains continue to batter many parts of Kenya's Indian Ocean coast region.
U.S. OPENS LIBRARY FOR KENYAN MUSLIMS IN PORT CITY OF MOMBASA
MOMBASA: The United States government has opened a public library to cater for Muslims in Kenya's second largest city, Mombasa, in an attempt to bridge its relations with the Kenyan Muslim community. Embassy officials say the U.S. will provide reading material and educational websites for the community at the library, which is to be managed by a local civic trust. A spokesman says Kenya remains an important and strategic regional partner of the United States.
SWAZI CHIEF JUSTICE DEFIES 'ROYAL ORDER'
MBABANE: The Swaziland High Court has met to continue the case of the alleged abduction of an 18-year-old Swazi schoolgirl by messengers of King Mswati two weeks ago. The Chief Justice has announced that the trial will continue despite threats from the Royal Palace. The case has been brought by Zena Mahlangu's mother who is demanding her daughter's release and return home. According to reports from the palace and local newspapers, the girl was abducted in order to prepare her for marriage to the 34-year old monarch without her mother's permission. Last week, the chief justice Stanley Sapire presiding over the court along with two other judges issued an order for the girl to be brought to court in order that her views may be heard.
IVORY COAST GOVERNMENT STARTS PEACE TALKS WITH REBELS
LOME: Ivory Coast rebel leaders have begun discussing their main demands with government negotiators at a meeting in the Togolese capital, Lome, aimed at ending six weeks of unrest. Togolese Foreign Minister Koffi Panou says both parties are getting to the heart of the matter. Panou added, however, if the negotiators confirm reports that an attack helicopter and dozens of mercenaries had arrived in Ivory Coast's main city, Abidjan, at the government's request, it could hurt the talks. The peace talks began yesterday, marking the first direct contact between the government and the rebels.
Meanwhile, South African diplomats in the Ivory Coast have been told to investigate reports that South African mercenaries have been hired by Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo. The Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies said earlier this week several dozen South African mercenaries had been hired by Gbagbo to help him put down the rebellion that broke out last month.
NIGERIA'S SENATE PRESIDENT SUES CRITIC FOR LIBEL
LAGOS: Nigeria's Senate President Anyim Pius Anyim has filed a libel suit against a colleague who accused him of corruption and abuse of office. His office says Anyim filed the ten-million-dollar suit in Abuja on Monday against Senator Arthur Nzeribe. Nzeribe who was suspended indefinitely by the senate for anti-democratic activities on Monday accused Anyim of illegally acquiring property in the country's capital, Abuja. He asked the country's anti-graft commission to start investigating Anyim with a view to recommending him for trial. The senate president refuted the allegations and on Tuesday sued the suspended senator for libel, describing him as a man with tainted democratic credentials.
CENTRAL AFRICAN CAPITAL CALM AFTER GOVERNMENT TROOPS ROUT REBELS
BANGUI: The Central African Republic capital, Bangui, is said to be calm, a day after government troops launched an offensive to recapture areas held since last week by rebels. Troops loyal to President Ange Felix Patasse, backed by Libyan soldiers and, according to some witnesses, rebels from the Congolese Liberation Movement, yesterday forced the rebels to give up their positions and flee northward. The Libyan troops have been in Central African Republic to protect Patasse since May last year, when an earlier attempt to oust him was quashed.
15 KILLED IN EGYPT BUS CRASH
MINYA: At least 15 people have been killed and 21 injured in a bus crash in southern Egypt after a tyre burst and the driver lost control. The accident occurred before dawn on the Asyut-Cairo highway near Abu Korkas, south of Minya. Police say the bus carrying 45 passengers collided with a truck loaded with rocks, adding that the bus driver was among the injured. The fate of the other driver was unclear. Official figures show that more than ten percent of serious accidents in Egypt are caused by the poor state of vehicles and especially worn tyres.
FRENCH INTERIOR MINISTER IN TUNISIA
TUNIS: French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy is in the Tunisian capital, Tunis, where he is holding talks with government officials, focusing on the fight against terrorism. Shortly after arriving at Tunis-Carthage airport, Sarkozy began a first round of talks with his Tunisian counterpart Hedi M'Henni. Sarkozy is also due to meet with President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali tomorrow, before the French minister travels to the south of Tunisia for a brief holiday. An April the eleventh terror attack outside the Ghriba synagogue on the holiday isle of Djerba, in southern Tunisia, claimed 19 lives, including 14 German tourists, three Tunisians, a French-Tunisian dual national and one French citizen. The al-Qaeda terrorist network has claimed one of its operatives carried out the attack.
Prepared in Johannesburg, South Africa,
by Mbulelo Dlamini Maqhubu and Micel Schnehage.
MIDDAY REPORT 31.10.2002.
CANADIAN OIL GIANT DISINVESTS IN SUDAN
OTTAWA: Canadian oil giant Talisman Energy has announced that it has ended its Sudanese operations by selling its stocks in the largest petroleum producer in Sudan, the Greater Nile Petroleum Company. Talisman traded its shares to the native Canadian Indian society, ONGC Vindesh, for 770-million American dollars. The move followed months of protests by international religious and humanitarian groups, which argued that Talisman's business only served to support a dictatorial regime in Khartoum. Observers say the campaign succeeded in lowering Talisman's stock price on the Toronto and New York exchanges.
CONGO BIDS FAREWELL TO FOREIGN TROOPS
KINSHASA: President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo has led a ceremony to mark the withdrawal of all Angolan, Namibian and Zimbabwean troops from his country. The ritual came as the Congolese government and the two main rebel groups, the Congolese Rally for Democracy and the Congolese Liberation Movement, moved closer to a peace deal in negotiations taking place in South Africa. The countries of Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe sent their troops to Congo in 1998 to support the Congolese government in its war against the rebels.
POLICE IN SOUTH AFRICA CRACK DOWN ON THE RIGHT-WING
PRETORIA: The Police in South Africa have arrested two additional men in connection with an alleged right-wing plot to topple the government. The two were apprehended in the Free State Province. A police spokesperson says the men are not linked at this stage to the spate of bombing in Soweto near Johannesburg and at Bronkhorstspruit, close to Pretoria. They will be charged with High Treason and Terrorism and are due to appear in court in Pretoria tomorrow. This brings to seventeen the number of people arrested in connection with the plot so far.
The South African Safety and Security Ministry says the bombs used in the blasts point to the possibility of the involvement of the right-wing. It says investigations are at a very sensitive stage and the South African police are following up some exceedingly firm leads.
BRITAIN CALLS ON YUGOSLAVIA TO HALT ARMS SALES TO LIBERIA
LONDON: British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has called on Yugoslavia to halt the sale of arms to Liberia. He maintained the sale was in breach of United Nations sanctions. The U.N. imposed the sanctions on Liberia for the latter's support of rebel insurgents in Guinea-Conakry. Straw was speaking after a meeting with his Yugoslavian counterpart, Goran Svilanovic. Straw urged Svilanovic to ensure a thorough investigation into the arms sales. The U.N. reported this month that Yugoslavia delivered 200 tonnes of weapons to Liberia in July this year. Yugoslavia has also been accused of supplying arms to Iraq.
US REPROBATES ZAMBIA'S REFUSAL TO ACCEPT FOOD AID
LUSAKA: The United States has denounced Zambia's decision to refuse genetically-modified American food aid. The State Department said the move could further imperil Zambia's population already at risk of starvation. It said that despite the decision, the United States stood ready to provide food assistance should the Zambian government drop its opposition to the maize. Nearly three-million people in Zambia are expected to be in need of aid when the food shortage reaches its most acute phase from December this year until the next harvest in March. But the Zambian government has repeatedly rejected genetically-modified food aid, saying it must first be proven safe for human consumption.
MORNING REPORT 31.10.2002.
LOYALIST TROOPS ROUT REBELS IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
BANGUI: The government of the Central African Republic says its armed forces have recaptured the capital from rebels. Officials insisted that loyalists troops retook all rebel positions, including the P.K.-12 region, a key area in the north of the city. They said the rebels were fleeing and government troops were in hot pursuit. Witnesses appeared to confirm the reports, saying the outnumbered rebels offered little resistance in surrendering the parts of the capital they had held since Friday last week. The rebels owe allegiance to former Central African army chief, Francois Bozize.
IVORIAN TALKS TO RECOMMENCE TODAY
LOME: Negotiators for the Ivorian government and rebels have ended their first day of direct talks in the Togolese capital. The dialogue is a bid to end more than five weeks of conflict between the two parties. The talks are being held under the patronage of the Economic Community of West African States and are set to resume today. Mediators said the rebels had not asked for amnesty, and that their core demand for new elections in Ivory Coast had not been discussed yet. Before the talks, the rebels were demanding the resignation of the Ivorian government as well as fresh polls. The government, for its part, insisted the rebels cease hostilities. Hundreds of people were killed in the fighting in Ivory Coast before a truce was signed 14 days ago. French troops are monitoring the ceasefire.
ANGOLAN ARMY OVERRUNS ENEMY POSITIONS
LUANDA: The Angolan army says it has overrun the main military base of a guerrilla group fighting for the independence of Cabinda, an enclave where mostly foreign oil companies produce about 700-thousand barrels of crude per day. Angolan army radio says units supported by commando units captured the remote jungle base at Kungo-Shonzo, about 100 kilometres northeast of Cabinda City, the enclave's capital recently. It did not provide details. There has been no independent confirmation of the claim. In mainland Angola, the government and rebel group UNITA ended their two-decade civil war in April.
SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE SEARCH FOR BLAST SUSPECTS
JOHANNESBURG: The South African Justice Ministry says the police are expected to apprehend the perpetrators of the nine bomb blasts that rocked the city of Soweto near Johannesburg early yesterday, killing one woman. A tenth blast near the city of Pretoria wounded two others. Nobody claimed responsibility for the attacks, the worst since a bombing blitz by rightwingers in the run-up to South Africa's historic elections in 1994. The South African Ministry of Intelligence says the government believes the explosions were meant to provoke violence and instability in the country.
CHILDREN IN SOUTHERN AFRICA FACE FAMINE
LONDON: An international humanitarian group, Save The Children, says millions of children face the threat of famine in Southern African nations already ravaged by AIDS. The group says 12-million people in all are at risk of disease, starvation and death in southern Africa. The region is facing what could become the worst famine in a decade due to a deadly combination of acute poverty, unstable weather, crop failures, depleted food reserves, and one of the worst AIDS epidemics in the world. Mark Wright of Save The Children says in the countries most severely affected - Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Angola - the food crisis has forced governments to declare national disasters.
FIGHTING IN NORTHERN UGANDA CREATES FOOD SHORTAGES
KAMPALA: The United Nations says a sharp increase in fighting in northern Uganda is threatening more than half a million people with hunger unless donors urgently replenish food aid. The army says Lord's Resistance Army rebels have wreaked havoc across much of Uganda since June. Scores of villagers have been hacked to death and hundreds of children have been abducted. The UN's World Food Programme says the mayhem has paralysed farming in Uganda at a time when the agency has only been given a fraction of the food needed to meet existing needs.
LEADERS TO DISCUSS NEW DEAL FOR AFRICA
ABUJA: African leaders are due to meet in the Nigerian capital to discuss putting into practice the continent's own plan to escape the poverty trap. Heads of state and government from 20 African countries have been invited to attend Sunday's meeting in Abuja to discuss the New Partnership for Africa's Development, NEPAD. The plan, which was drawn up by African presidents, has been welcomed by the leaders of the rich world and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly as a blueprint for Africa's development. Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is chairman of NEPAD's implementation committee, will host the meeting.
Prepared in Johannesburg, South Africa.
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