Weekly anb10176.txt #7

WEEKLY NEWS ISSUE of: 17-10-2002  PART #6/7

* Sao Tome e Principe. US-backed oil boom - The new prime minister of Sao Tome and Principe, a small island-state off the West African coast, has pinned her economic hopes on future oil riches and a US naval base. Prime Minister Maria das Neves told Portuguese newspaper Expresso that she hopes to clean up the finances of what is one of the world's poorest countries and restore its international reputation. She supports continuing austere budget measures, "even if it causes pain and is unpopular", to adhere to the World Bank's debt forgiveness programme. Ms das Neves is from the Movement for the Liberation of Sao Tome and Principe, the largest party in the parliament, and leads a "national unity" government. The former Portuguese colony is made up of two islands in the Gulf of Guinea, has a population of roughly 165,000 and large unexploited oil reserves. Future oil revenues will not be included in current budget because contracts are still being negotiated. The prime minister has promised to "guarantee available resources are allocated for sustainable development and improving the living conditions of most of the population, which lives in absolute poverty". (BBC News, UK, 14 October 2002)

* Senegal. More woes for Casamance - 11 October: The sinking of the Joola ferry last month is the latest in a number of misfortunes to hit Senegal's troubled southern Casamance region. Many of the more than 1,000 people who died were from Casamance as the ferry was the region's main link to the capital, Dakar. The tragedy came just ahead of the end of school holidays, and many of those who died were the best and brightest of Casamance's students and schoolchildren. Some are already talking about a "lost generation". Casamance is the most fertile part of Senegal but has been plagued by a low-level guerrilla war for the last 20 years. The Movement of Democratic Casamance Forces (MFDC), led by charismatic Catholic priest Father Diamacoune-Senghor, wants independence for the region. While casualty figures are relatively low for an independence war -- maybe a few thousand people have been killed in two decades -- the tragedy is that what should be a rich region remains mired in poverty. Tens of thousands have had to flee their homes and abandon their fields. (BBC News, UK, 11 October 2002)

* Sénégal. Funérailles nationales - Le 11 octobre, le Sénégal a rendu hommage aux quelque mille victimes du naufrage du navire Joola, la pire catastrophe jamais vécue par le pays, lors de funérailles nationales présidées à Dakar, au bord de l'océan, par le chef d'Etat, Abdoulaye Wade. -- Le 14 octobre, le président Wade a relevé de ses fonctions le chef d'état-major de la marine nationale, le colonel Ousseynou Kombo, dans le cadre des sanctions prises après le naufrage. Il a promis d'autres sanctions au fur et à mesure de l'avancée de l'enquête en cours. (ANB-BIA, de sources diverses, 14 octobre 2002)

* Senegal. Aftermath of ferry tragedy - 11 October: A remembrance ceremony is held in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, to pay tribute to almost 1,000 people who died in Africa's worst-ever maritime disaster. Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade leads a commemoration service with prayers said by leaders of various religious denominations for the victims of the Joola ferry tragedy. The vessel capsized off the coast of The Gambia with an official count of 1,034 people on board. There were only 64 survivors. Wreaths of flowers were laid at the site near Dakar's port, where the government is planning to build a memorial. The ceremony was attended by relatives of the victims, ministers and diplomats. 15 October: President Abdoulaye Wade, has dismissed the head of the navy in response to last month's ferry disaster in which more than 1,000 people died. Mr Wade says he is sacking Colonel Ousseynou Kombo following the completion of investigations into the accident. The navy was responsible for managing the ferry which was packed to at least twice its capacity when it sank. The official investigation accused the crew of failing to observe proper safety procedures. Navy officials initially blamed bad weather for the disaster. (ANB-BIA, Belgium, 15 October 2002)

* Senegal. Mixing community and PCs - Telecentres seem the epitome of Western life, a place electro-nomads can use to maintain their ties to friends and family. But such communication centres are starting to appear in Senegal in increasing numbers and are proving just as valuable, albeit for different reasons. The centres are helping workers in traditional professions and are also providing ways for people to get to grips with new technologies, ideas and occupations. One centre is even helping a community fight off threats to evict it off land it has occupied for years by giving residents a chance to voice protests that would otherwise go unheard. The cybercafe in the Khadimou Rassoul suburb of Senegal's capital Dakar is more than just a place people go to use a computer. It has become a vital information hub for the whole community that sometimes offers a literal lifeline for some local residents. Many local businesses use the computers to store information about customers and their accounts. Some are using the net access to get more up to date information about their trade to help them do a better job. "Now we have the chance to bill people properly," says Ibrahim Fall, a car mechanic who runs a repair shop near the telecentre. "We also do a lot of training," he says"but the manuals were too expensive so we adapt stuff from the internet." Daba Ndaw, manager of the Khadimou Rassoul cybercafe, says it has the only telephone in the area and many people call in just to use that. When they call in they find out about the other things that computers and communication can do for them and get more involved. (BBC News, UK, 16 October 2002)

* Somalia. A hospital comes back to life - 9 October: The situation is improving in the troubled southern port town of Kismayo, 500km south of Mogadishu, with the restoration of some vital social services. The Jubba Valley Alliance (JVA), which controls the town, has reopened the main hospital. MSF-Belgium, which used to run the hospital, left three years ago as several factions fought for the control of the town. "When MSF left, the hospital accommodated more than 200 patients suffering mainly from gunshot wounds as a result of gun-battle," Abdurahman Haji Ahmed Waldireh, a JVA spokesman, said. The JVA has managed to reopen the main hospital of the town with the little money it has been collecting as tax from the port, the airport and the main market. The hospital now has 25 health workers including a new director, while the other 25 members of staff are policemen working full time for the security of the hospital. (BBC News, UK, 9 October 2002)

* Somalie. Pourparlers de paix - Plusieurs centaines de délégués venus de Somalie se sont réunis le 15 octobre à Eldoret, au centre du Kenya, pour des pourparlers de paix destinés à mettre un terme à plus d'une décennie de violences et de chaos dans leur pays. Ces discussions doivent leur permettre d'aborder de vastes sujets, comme l'établissement d'un gouvernement représentatif et la construction d'une économie en friches. Il s'agit de la 14e rencontre de cette nature depuis le renversement de Mohamed Siad Barre en 1991. Après avoir menacé de ne pas assister aux pourparlers, en raison d'un désaccord au sujet de leur nombre de délégués, de nombreux chefs de guerre influents prendront finalement part aux discussions. Le secrétaire général de l'Onu a salué l'ouverture de la conférence et appelé tous les partis et les leaders somaliens à coopérer pour mettre fin à une décennie de conflits et de souffrances dans le pays. (AP, 16 octobre 2002)

* Somalia. Reconciliation talks - 15 October: Today, the various sides in the Somali conflict open reconciliation talks in the Kenyan town of Eldoret, in a bid to establish an all-inclusive new interim administration that will govern the country until democratic elections can be held. However, the Rahanweyn Resistance Army (RRA) faction of Shaykh Aden Madobe and Muhammad Ibrahim Habsade, whose forces are in control of the southwestern town of Baidoa, will not attend the Eldoret peace conference unless they are given all the delegates assigned to the RRA. Ali Margus, a close ally of Shaykh Adan Madobe, says: "There is only one RRA and we represent it. We will not accept two RRA lists. Margus said the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) technical committee had allotted the RRA 28 seats in the conference, and divided those up into two, "giving us 14 and the RRA Chairman, Col Hasan Muhammad Nur Shatigadud 14". Opening the talks, Kenya's President Moi urges delegates to make them the last. 16 October: Four Somali faction leaders have changed their minds and announced that they will attend the peace talks in Kenya. The four, who control parts of the capital, Mogadishu, say they will travel to Eldoret later this week. If the four -- Mohamed Qanyare Afrah, Osman Ali Atto, Mowlid Ma'ani and Omar Finish -- do travel to Kenya, it will become the biggest Somali peace conference for a decade. In Eldoret, European Union diplomats have told journalists that sanctions were being considered against anyone seen as an obstacle to peace. These are reported to include travel restrictions, charges of war crimes and the freezing of bank accounts. (ANB-BIA, Belgium, 16 October 2002)

* South Africa. South Africans to get AIDS drugs from the state - The South African government announced yesterday that it will investigate ways of providing the anti-retroviral drugs that keep people with HIV/AIDS alive through its public health system: a dramatic reversal of policy. An estimated 4.7 million people are HIV positive in South Africa but until now campaigners have fought in vain to persuade the government to begin treatment for them, despite the severe economic and social consequences of the deaths of so many parents, teachers and wage earners. Until relatively recently President Thabo Mbeki was publicly opposed to the provision of AIDS drugs in South Africa, arguing that they were dangerously toxic and questioning whether HIV or poverty was the true cause of AIDS. But the government now insists that it accepts the link with HIV. In April the cabinet said that it endorsed the use of anti-retroviral drugs, although they were too expensive to buy and the health infrastructure to let them be used did not exist. The announcement on 10 October, after a cabinet meeting on the night of 9 October, said the government wanted to tackle those problems. It said the cabinet was "actively engaged in addressing these challenges, in order to create the conditions that would make it feasible and effective to use anti-retrovirals in the public health sector". (The Guardian, UK, 11 October 2002)

* Sudan. US Congress passes Sudan sanctions bill - 11 October: The United States Congress passes a bill which could lead to sanctions against Sudan, if it fails to make progress in ending its 19-year civil war or is found to be obstructing humanitarian efforts. The bill accuses the Sudanese Government of using what it describes as low-intensity ethnic cleansing against various groups such as the Dinka, Nuer and Nuba peoples. It requires President George W Bush to decide every six months if Sudan is negotiating with its rebels in good faith. The sanctions might involve the White House downgrading diplomatic relations with Sudan, opposing new international loans or backing a United Nations sponsored arms embargo. (BBC News, UK, 11 October 2002)

* Soudan. Plainte contre l'Erythrée - Le Soudan a décidé de porter plainte pour "agression" contre l'Erythrée devant le Conseil de sécurité de l'Onu, a annoncé l'ambassade soudanaise à Paris le 11 octobre. Khartoum reproche en outre au régime d'Asmara d'apporter un soutien actif aux rebelles du SPLA. Khartoum a fait prisonniers des soldats érythréens qui combattaient dans l'est du pays, a déclaré le 13 octobre l'ambassadeur du Soudan en Egypte, Ahmad Abdel Halim. "C'est une preuve de la participation de l'Erythrée à l'agression contre notre pays" et de son soutien à la rébellion sudiste, a ajouté l'ambassadeur, à l'issue d'une rencontre avec le chef de la diplomatie égyptienne, Ahmed Maher. ( ANB-BIA, de sources diverses, 14 octobre 2002)

* Sudan. Peace talks - 14 October: Sudanese government officials and rebels are due to renew their peace talks in an effort to cease hostilities and end the two-decade civil war. Lt. Gen. Lazaro Sumbeiywo (Kenya) says the talks in Machakos, 50 kms southeast of Nairobi, are unlikely to result in a formal peace deal because of continuing disagreement between the government and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). But he says a temporary ceasefire to end fighting in the south -- a government condition for renewing the full talks -- is expected to be worked out. 15 October: At first, the government and the rebels fail to reach agreement on the terms of a temporary ceasefire agreement, to be signed before the official resumption of peace talks. The bone of contention concerns the eastern front, along the Eritrean border, which the government delegation is keen to see excluded from the agreement. Later on, the Government and rebels agree to observe a truce while their peace talks continue in Machakos. The agreement covers all areas of Sudan. Both sides have come under intense international pressure to sign their first truce after 19 years of civil war. 16 October: Peace talks in Machakos have resumed. (ANB-BIA, Belgium, 16 October 2002)

* Soudan. Négociations - Le 14 octobre, les négociations entre le gouvernement soudanais et les rebelles du SPLA, interrompues le 2 septembre, ont repris à Machakos sous l'égide de l'IGAD (Autorité intergouvernementale pour le développement de l'Afrique de l'Est). Mais la signature d'un cessez-le-feu, qui devait inaugurer la nouvelle tournée de tractations, risquait de ne pas se réaliser. Les représentants du gouvernement de Khartoum ont mis des conditions qui ont provoqué le raidissement des rebelles. D'après Khartoum, la trêve ne doit concerner que le Sud-Soudan, en excluant notamment la région sur la frontière avec l'Erythrée, théâtre de combats depuis la semaine dernière. - 15 octobre. Malgré cela, les deux parties ont signé un accord de cessez-le-feu temporaire pendant les pourparlers, a annoncé un représentant de la rébellion. Cette trêve doit entrer en vigueur le 17 octobre, alors que les pourparlers doivent reprendre le 16. Ces nouvelles négociations devraient durer cinq semaines et visent à mettre fin à une guerre de près de vingt ans. (ANB-BIA, de sources diverses, 16 octobre 2002)

Weekly anb1017.txt - #6/7