Weekly anb0515_5.txt #6

WEEKLY NEWS ISSUE of: 15-05-2003      PART #5/6

* Sénégal. Dettes des paysans épongées - Le gouvernement sénégalais a décidé d'éponger la totalité des dettes contractées par ses paysans, d'un montant global de 5,5 milliards de FCFA (près de 8,4 millions d'euros), a annoncé le Premier ministre, Idrissa Seck. Cette décision fait suite à une mission effectuée récemment à Washington, qui a permis de discuter avec les institutions de Bretton Woods. Au Sénégal, le secteur agricole, "véritable moteur du développement économique", est confronté depuis quelques années aux effets négatifs combinés de périodes de sécheresse et d'une baisse importante des cours mondiaux, selon la FAO. (Le Figaro, France, 12 mai 2003)

* Sénégal. Accords de financement - Lors de sa visite à Washington, Idrissa Seck, le Premier ministre sénégalais, s'attendait à devoir batailler pour finaliser un accord de financement avec le FMI et la Banque mondiale. Mais la rencontre s'est soldée par des avancées spectaculaires: en trente minutes, les deux parties se sont accordées sur le contours d'un nouveau programme, indique le "Courrier international" le 13 mai. Selon la presse sénégalaise, cette coopération est significative de "l'amitié qui lie les présidents Bush et Wade" et serait un remerciement de l'administration américaine pour la position du Sénégal dans le conflit américano-irakien. Les institutions de Bretton Woods ont accordé à la délégation sénégalaise un chèque d'environ 28 millions d'euros et la promesse de financer la reconstruction de la Casamance avec une enveloppe de 9 millions supplémentaires. Les Etats-Unis ont aussi assuré que le Sénégal figurerait en bonne position sur la liste des pays pouvant bénéficier du Millenium Challenge, un programme d'aide au développement prévu pour 2005 et doté d'une enveloppe de 4,35 milliards d'euros. -- D'autre part, l'Union européenne a accordé au Sénégal un financement de 201 milliards de FCFA (près de 306,5 millions d'euros) sur 5 ans, destiné à "soutenir les efforts du gouvernement pour la réduction de la pauvreté d'une manière durable", a-t-on annoncé le 14 mai à Dakar de source européenne. (ANB-BIA, de sources diverses, 14 mai 2003)

* Sierra Leone. Government should denounce impunity agreement with the US - Amnesty International today expressed deep shock at the Sierra Leone Parliament's ratification of a reciprocal impunity agreement with the USA. "This is a completely unacceptable decision especially at a time when the country is starting the process of dealing with the mass human rights abuses that have taken place in its recent past," the organization said. On 6 May 2003, despite strong opposition from civil society, Sierra Leone's Parliament became the first in the world to ratify an impunity agreement with the USA. The Sierra Leone Parliament supported the impunity agreement which provides that Sierra Leone will not surrender US nationals accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes to the new International Criminal Court. Even more disturbingly, as Sierra Leone has accepted the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, the agreement is reciprocal providing that the USA will not surrender to the International Criminal Court Sierra Leonean nationals accused of the worst possible crimes in the world. "This agreement is unlawful and violates Sierra Leone's obligations as a state which has ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and other international law," Amnesty International said. "In response, we have written to President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah urging him to refuse to give presidential consent to the agreement." At the same time, the organization expresses its dismay that members of parliament have supported the ratification of the agreement. Amnesty International welcomes the lone stand for international justice taken by one member of parliament, Ibrahim Sorie, in voting against ratification. (Amnesty International, 8 May 2003)

* Sierra Leone. Warlord confirmed dead - 8 May: President Kabbah has confirmed that the man killed by Liberian troops on 6 May is Sam Bockarie. he says the Sierra Leonean ambassador to Liberia has positively identified the body -- after initially casting doubt on the identity of the corpse. Mr Kabbah says the body will be inspected by the International Committee of the Red Cross before being flown back to Sierra Leone. (ANB-BIA, Belgium, 8 May 2003)

* Somalia. Creditor shuts Somali parliament - 12 May: Somalia's parliament has been forced to shut temporarily because it has failed to pay its rent. The national transitional government, set up in 2000, owes a year's rent for the building being used by parliament. Police at the parliament -- where many documents are stored --have been told to leave by the proprietors who are now guarding the building. "The government should pay $1,400 a month for the property", Mohamed Hassan Idleh who manages the building said. "We won't let anyone into the building until we're paid. We've raised the issue several times, but nobody seem to care what we were talking about," he said. The drivers of the 29 buses that transport MPs from their houses to the parliament have also stopped working because they have not been paid for one year. (ANB-BIA, Belgium, 12 May 2003)

* Somalie/Kenya. Retour de réfugiés - Le 13 mai, un groupe de 2.880 réfugiés somaliens a quitté les camps de Dadaab et Kakuma au Kenya pour retourner en Somalie, mettant ainsi fin à un séjour de plus de dix ans dans le pays. Un appareil affrété par le HCR a transporté le premier convoi de réfugiés au nord-est de la Somalie, d'autres seront transportés au cours des cinq prochains jours. Les réfugiés ont reçu des équipements de base et le HCR les aidera à se réintégrer en Somalie en subventionnant des projets de santé, d'éducation et de production de revenus. Le Kenya compte plus de 140.000 réfugiés somaliens. Depuis 1992, plus de 157.000 Somaliens ont été rapatriés du Kenya. (D'après PANA, Sénégal, 14 mai 2003)

* South Africa. Plastic bags banned - 9 May: South Africa is making the thin and flimsy plastic bag illegal. Known as the country's "national flower" because they litter streets -- retailers handing out the bags now face a fine of $13,800 or a 10-year jail sentence. The legislation means shoppers will either have to take bags with them when they go shopping, or buy new, thick, stronger plastic bags that are easier and more profitable to recycle. According to the South African Government the country uses eight billion bags a year. "Each plastic bag has a life of its own but we do not want it to end up on the street. We want everyone, from the producer to the retailer to the consumer, to start recycling," said Phindile Makwakwa, spokeswoman for the environment ministry. (ANB-BIA, Belgium, 9 May 2003)

* South Africa. Bus crash victims mourned - 11 May: Thousands of people have attended a funeral service in South Africa for the victims of a bus crash in which 51 people were killed. The service, near the town of Kimberley in northern Cape province, was attended by President Thabo Mbeki and acting transport minister Jeff Radebe. They have pledged to do all they can to prevent similar accidents in future. The bus had been taking trade unionists to a May Day celebration when it crashed into a dam after the driver apparently took a wrong turn in the dark and foggy conditions. Only 10 people survived. Between 15,000 and 18,000 people came to the Galeshewe Stadium, outside Kimberley, for the funeral of 49 victims. Some had been waiting since 0500 local time. Two of the victims had been buried on earlier occasions in other towns. The coach had been carrying members of South Africa's main labour federation the Congress of South African Trade Unions to a rally in the early morning. It skidded along a gravel path before plunging into the Saulspoort dam near the town of Bethlehem. The passengers were trapped inside because of poor exits. (ANB-BIA, Belgium, 11 May 2003)

* South Africa. Social benefits should be more easily available - In a Media Statement, The Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC) calls on South Africa's government to make social benefits more easily available. The Statement says: "The Catholic Bishops are worried that so many people are unable to avail of welfare grants and benefits, and appeal to the government to provide structures immediately to help them access such benefits. Numbers of poor people are deprived of their constitutional rights and live in poverty, hunger and destitution. Church personnel and fieldworkers find that there is a serious difficulty due to lack of documentation. Many fail to access documents such as birth, death and marriage certificates and identity documents either through lack of knowledge, poverty of resources, poor transport and inadequate administrative structures". (SACB, 13 May 2003)

* South Africa. Guard guilty of De Klerk murder - 13 May: A security guard has been found guilty of murdering the ex-wife of former South African President, FW de Klerk. Marike de Klerk, 64, was found stabbed and strangled in her luxury Cape Town flat in December 2001. The judge said the defence had not provided any evidence to contradict the prosecution's case that Luayanda Mboniswa, had robbed and killed her. He worked at the sea front block of flats at the time. However, Mboniswa was acquitted on charges of rape. Marike de Klerk battled depression in her later years after the former president left her for his mistress. They divorced in 1998 after 39 years of marriage. She was the country's first lady from 1989 to 1994, the period during which Mr de Klerk released the African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela from prison and dismantled the country's apartheid system. Mrs de Klerk was at one point in charge of the then ruling National Party's women's wing. President Thabo Mbeki described her as a "strong, charming and dignified woman". (ANB-BIA, Belgium, 13 May 2003)

* Soudan. La peur d'Ebola - Sept personnes sont décédées au Soudan, victimes présumées du virus d'Ebola. Selon l'OMS, une équipe d'experts doit se rendre prochainement dans la zone pour vérifier les causes des décès et vérifier leur lien avec la fièvre hémorragique. L'OMS a précisé que pour le moment il n'existe pas de preuves évidentes d'Ebola, mais les victimes présentaient des symptômes caractéristiques de la maladie. L'équipe de l'OMS se rendra dans la zone méridionale du Soudan, mais également dans la zone voisine du nord de l'Ouganda. Le gouvernement ougandais a renforcé les contrôles à la frontière, interdisant l'accès à quiconque, venant du Soudan, qui présente des symptômes suspects. (Misna, Italie, 9 mai 2003)

* Soudan. La Ligue arabe dans le processus de paix - Les pourparlers de paix entre le gouvernement de Khartoum et le Mouvement/Armée populaire de libération du Soudan (SPLA/M) ont repris le 10 mai dans la ville kényane de Machakos. La Ligue arabe s'est maintenant impliquée dans ce processus de paix en conduisant une mission dans le Sud-Soudan. La délégation s'y est entretenue la semaine dernière avec le leader du SPLA/M, John Garang. Il s'agit de la première mission d'un tel genre depuis 1953. Certains Etats arabes, notamment l'Egypte, sont inquiets du fait que les négociations pourraient déboucher sur la sécession du Sud et créer l'instabilité de la région. "Le principal objectif de la Ligue arabe et de ses Etats membres est de faire tout ce qui est possible dans le domaine politique et de développer le Sud-Soudan afin de convaincre ses habitants que l'unité est une option intéressante pour eux", a souligné, le 11 mai, le chef de la délégation, Samir Hosni, qui s'est dit optimiste à l'issue de sa visite. M. Hosni a encore indiqué que l'organisation panarabe assistera désormais aux pourparlers de paix en tant qu'observateur. --D'autre part, les autorités soudanaises et le SPLA/M sont parvenus à un accord pour la reprise de l'acheminement de l'aide aux populations du Sud, selon le journal gouvernemental Al-Anbaa. La reprise du transport de l'aide humanitaire par bateau de Kosti (centre) à Juba (sud) est attendue le 12 mai. (D'après PANA, Sénégal, 12 mai 2003)

* Sudan. Arab League seeks greater role in Sudan's peace process - After a 22-member delegation of the Arab League's Arab Cooperation Department visited Southern Sudan for the first time in 50 years, the League is now seeking an active role in pushing peace and reconstruction in war-torn Sudan. The head of the visiting delegation, Samir Hosni expressed optimism that the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) was serious about peace and wanted Sudan to remain unified. Some Arab states, especially Sudan's northern neighbour Egypt, have been concerned that the ongoing peace talks between the Sudanese government and rebels could lead to secession of southern and an instability in their backyard. Sudan's civil war has since 1983 pitted the Khartoum government, representing the mostly Islamic Arab north, against the SPLA/M, based in the mainly Christian and animist south. (PANA, Senegal, 12 May 2003)

* Sudan. Medics probe disease - 12 May: A medical team from the World Health Organization has arrived in southern Sudan to investigate the outbreak of a disease which has killed 10 people and infected 178. "A WHO team arrived Sunday at Ikotos in southeast Sudan and they are investigating reports of the disease outbreak both in Ikotos and nearby Imotong," Ben Parker, spokesman for the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, Mukesh Kapila, says.Some fear that the disease could be the deadly Ebola virus, which has previously occurred in the region. But Mr Parker said the disease had not yet been identified. (ANB-BIA, Belgium, 12 May 2003)

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