Friday, May 13, 2011

Afirca News Round-Up


PAP Debates Current Situation in Africa
APO - The second sitting of the Fourth Ordinary Session of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) took place today with Hon. Marwick Khumalo, Chairperson of the PAP Committee on Cooperation, International Relations and Conflict Resolution presenting a report on the current situation in Africa.
Hon. Khumalo’s report covered Libya, Côte d’Ivoire, Somalia, Tunisia, Egypt, Madagascar, Saharawi Republic and Djibouti.
The report revealed that, considering the current situation in Libya, the PAP is planning to undertake a fact finding mission to Tripoli and Benghazi in order to gather information and make recommendations for the restoration of peace in the country.
Although the Côte d’Ivoire has overcome the conflict induced by elections, the political situation is said to remain fluid. The report indicated that the humanitarian situation in the country is deteriorating as basic social services have been negatively affected during the past months. However, the PAP Committee found it heartening to note that the Côte d’Ivoire Constitutional Committee ratified the win of Alassane Ouattara as President.
With regards to Somalia, it was noted that peace and security remain a challenge to the African Union (AU). However, significant contributions have been made especially in stabilizing Mogadishu and some parts of central Somalia.
On issues relating to Tunisia and Egypt, PAP, with the agreement of the authorities in these countries, will send fact-finding missions on the state of democracy and the evolution of the transition that is taking place there.
On Madagascar, the report said that the AU, along with SADC, continues to deploy efforts to help resolve the crisis there.
The main concern of the PAP, with regards to the Saharawi Democratic Republic, is that a human rights monitoring mechanism was not included in the new Resolution (1979/2011), adopted by the UN Security Council last month.
In Djibouti, the PAP Committee reported on social tensions brought about by limited pluralism. There is a lack of governance that poses as a risk in the Horn of Africa – an area where the AU needs to increase focus.
In the debate that ensued following the presentation of the report, PAP Members stressed their concern on the visibility of the AU in Africa as a whole, especially in the countries affected by instability. They insisted on the urgent adoption of the African Charter for Democracy, Elections and Governance by African countries, and the granting of legislative powers to the PAP. This, it was suggested, would empower the PAP to play a more influential role in the decision making process on the continent; thus avoiding foreign and sometimes destructive interference. Source: Pan-African Parliament (PAP) Johannesburg, South-Africa, May 11, 2011.


Impartial forces prepare president Ouattara’s investiture
APO - As part of the regular meeting of generals of the Impartial and national forces, UNOCI’s Force Commander, Major-General Gnakoudé Béréna, today took part in a working session on the investiture ceremony of the President of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, scheduled to be held on 21 May 2011 in Yamoussoukro
“We wanted to discuss together the different security aspects for this event because the Impartial and Ivorian forces will be working together to provide security,” said General Soumaila Bakayoko, the former Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Forces Nouvelles (FAFN). “The Impartial Forces, in accordance with their capacity, will take an active part in the security provisions which will be put in place,” General Bakayoko added.
General Béréna, the chief of UNOCI police, Jean-Marie Bourry and the Commander of the Force Licorne, General Jean-Pierre Palasset, participated in the meeting which was also attended by Generals Philippe Mangou and Michel Gueu, as well as the chief of the Ivorian police, Brindou Mbia and the deputy Commander of the National Gendarmerie, General Afro Raphael. Source: Mission of UN in Côte d’Ivoire, Abidjan, May 11, 2011.


Hughes completes deployment of Broadband Satellite Networks in DRC
PRNewswire/APO - Leading telecom provider is now offering broadband satellite services powered by Hughes HX System technology in DRC and neighboring countries.
Hughes Network Systems, LLC (HUGHES), the global leader in broadband satellite networks and services, today announced the deployment of several HX System broadband satellite networks for Microcom DRC, a leading service provider in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), founded by Leon Ntale, CEO. Microcom is operating the HX Systems to provide high-speed Internet access, corporate intranets, and VPN services to customers in DRC and neighboring countries.
The Hughes solution comprises three HX System network operating centers (NOCs) and an initial order of HX200 remote terminals. Microcom, a newly-appointed Hughes integration partner and reseller in the DRC, is providing applications such as high-speed satellite Internet access, corporate intranets for the banking industry and institutional agencies, and integration with WiMax networks for the mining sector, as well as VPN services.
These services are being offered to organizations in the DRC and in neighboring countries in West and Central Africa under the footprint of Intelsat’s IS25 satellite.
“As a well-known telecommunications provider in the DRC for more than 20 years and an ISP for the past 10 years, it was critical for Microcom to choose a satellite system supplier with impeccable credentials,” said Mr. Ntale. “After a very competitive selection process, we chose Hughes because they offered the best solution and support, as well as their own experience as a service provider.”
“Hughes is proud to have been chosen by Microcom for their important networks in the DRC,” said Robert Feierbach, vice president of International Sales and Marketing for Hughes. “Our powerful and cost-effective HX technology enables Microcom to offer high-grade broadband Internet at an affordable price, and to meet the growing demand for satellite services in the DRC market, particularly in the strong mining communications sector.”
Microcom currently operates WiMax terrestrial wireless networks but needed to further extend their reach, and satellite technology was the only viable solution to cover all of the DRC and the neighboring countries.
Microcom is now able to offer their customers the latest, leading-edge Hughes HX satellite technology for Internet and VPN connectivity services, under tailored service plans with competitive pricing and high service level commitments.
Source: Hughes Network Systems, LLC Germantown, Maryland, USA, May 11, 2011.


 Somaliland issues arrest warrant for newspaper editor
APO - Somaliland’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) issued on Sunday, 8 May, a warrant for the arrest of editor-in-chief of Saxafi newspaper, Abdifatah Mohamud Aidid. The CID commander, Dahir Muse Abrar, issued the arrest warrant after Somaliland Civil Aviation and Air Transport Minister Mohamed Hashi Abdi filed a complaint against the newspaper on Thursday, 5 May, according to sources that spoke to the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ).
The Somaliland Minister was reportedly unsatisfied with the decision of Hargaisa Regional Court, which announced on 30 April 2011 its verdict in a defamation case filed by the Minister in January 2011 against the editor-in-chief of Saxafi newspaper, Abdifatah Mohamud Aidid.
“The fact that Criminal Investigation Department issued the editor’s arrest warrant and “defamation” case cannot be accepted as “criminal” case, we question the legality of ordering the arrest of the Editor of Saxafi newspaper without any court of law ordering his arrest,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General. “This arrest warrant denies Abdifatah Mohamud Aidid and the newspaper the chance to pursue all legal recourse available to them”.
Aidid was charged with defamation by the Somaliland prosecution over a December 2010 article in “Saxafi”, which reportedly cited the “mishandling” of a US$10 million donation from the Government of Kuwait by the Civil Aviation and Air Transport Minister. This donation was seemingly meant for the refurbishment of the Hargeisa and Berbera airports.
Somaliland Prosecutor Adan Salad Sed, who was representing the Minister in this legal case, requested that the Hargeisa Regional Court convict the journalist under Article 287 of the Penal Code, which allows for imprisonment for a period to be determined by the judge.
The newspaper editor was convicted of offending the name and reputation of Minister Hashi Abdi, and was, as a consequence, ordered to pay a fine of 6,000,000 Somaliland Shillings (approx. US$1,000). The court, which obliged the journalist to pay the fine within 30 days, also warned the newspaper that its licence would be revoked should the paper defame the Minister again.
NUSOJ condemns this verdict, which demonstrates the severe and constant violations of freedom of expression and of the press in Somaliland. After the announcement of the court ruling, Prosecutor Sed was reportedly furious and vowed to appeal the verdict in order to ensure that the journalist is convicted under Article 287. Lawyers defending the journalist filed an appeal against this verdict. Source: NUSOJ, Mogadishu, Somalia, May 10, 2011.


ECOWAS experts meets on Counter-Terrorism in Abuja
APO - A two-day consultative meeting of international experts to consider the Draft ECOWAS Counter-Terrorism Strategy and Implementation Plan opened at the ECOWAS Commission headquarters in Abuja on Monday, 9th May 2011.
The ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Brigadier General Mahamane Toure, told the opening session that the region cannot afford to treat terrorism with indifference because it remains a critical challenge against the background of various incidents in Member States. He blamed the terrorist activities on the region on complex factors related to political, economic, social and cultural issues exacerbated by widespread poverty and youth unemployment.
The Commissioner said some Member States have signed and ratified existing international instruments on counter-terrorism while others have enacted national legislation for domesticating such instruments for the prosecution and punishment of offenders.
The ECOWAS Commission, he said, has also evolved various regional instruments with “robust framework and institutional capacity to assist Member States in their efforts to prevent and combat terrorism.”
According to the Commissioner, the challenge for the region is for Member States to coordinate their interventions and strengthen collaboration in the fight against the common threat, adding that “any success in our efforts to eliminate and prevent safe havens would require all Member States to be on the same wave length, particularly in the prohibition regimes and punishment of terrorism offences”.
He said the workshop was part of a deliberate policy to tap into the skills of international experts in order to ensure that the ECOWAS Plan not only conformed to continental and global best practices but was also implementable.
The meeting is part of the process to establish a comprehensive framework and institutional capacity to assist Member States in their efforts to prevent and combat terrorism as mandated by the relevant ECOWAS instruments.
Participants including experts from local, regional, continental and international institutions, as well as representatives of partner countries are attending the meeting.
Source: Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), May 10, 2011.



Fourth Ordinary Session of the PAP Opens
 APO - The Fourth Ordinary Session of the Second Pan-African Parliament (PAP) opened today with a call to all present to discuss and exchange views on issues pertinent to the African continent.
Hon. Dr. Moussa Idriss Ndélé, President of the PAP, who opened the Session in Midrand, commenced by congratulating the new Heads of State in Africa and praised the people of Sudan for overseeing a peaceful referendum. Hon. Dr. Ndélé then proceeded to swearing-in nine new members to the PAP from Kenya, Djibouti, Tanzania, Botswana and Namibia.
The special guests of this session included the Speaker of the National Assembly of Mauritania, H.E. Messoud Ould Boulkheir; First Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of Angola, H.E. Joao Manuel Goncalves Lourenco; and the Speaker of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL), Mrs. Lindiwe Maseko.
In their messages of solidarity, H.E. Mrs Maseko explained that the PAP, as a continental body, needs to work closely with other national parliaments in order to ensure its success. The GPL, considering its similar values and goals, had a lot to share with PAP, she added.
H.E. Lourenco, upon revisiting Angola’s history with the formation of PAP, reiterated the role of the PAP especially in conflict resolution. He insisted that Africa needed to solve its many problems without the interference of foreign forces. PAP therefore, as he explained, is the voice of Africa, one that all Africans depended on. H.E. Ould Boulkheir added to this by requesting that the PAP give more content to this collective African voice in order to adapt more quickly to its new role.
The Session is set to continue until the 20th of May where Members of the PAP will discuss and debate on various topics relevant to Africa. Source: PAP Johannesburg, South Africa, May 10, 2011.



Africa Revises Effectiveness of Development Aid
May 9, 2011, African Press Organization (APO) - African institutions have come to the conclusion that 50 years of Aid from donor countries has not had a significant enough impact on poverty and that Africa’s economies have not benefited to the extent they should have.
They wish the emphasis of the aid debate be placed on development and regard aid as a catalyst for development more than a measure for poverty reduction. These are just some of the conclusions reached at the SADC Regional parliamentary conference on aid effectiveness held in Maputo, Mozambique last week.
Mr. Bert Koenders, Co-Chair of the Working Party on Aid Effectiveness, and, former Minister of Development in the Netherlands stated, “If we want to make aid effective and transparent, first and foremost, parliaments have to be part of the game. They have to be able to control the budgets of their governments. In donor countries, they have to control and ensure that there is enough money and that it goes to the right countries and right programmes. And in many African nations, you want to ensure, with your government, that aid is being dealt with in an effective way.” He further emphasised how parliamentarians can support this path to effective development. This position represents a shift from the previous decade of aid reform efforts in which parliaments were not sufficiently recognised or incorporated in the OECD-led international dialogue on aid. There is now an African consensus that parliamentarians, both from donor and recipient countries, are integral parts of the aid oversight process.
These discussions unfolded during a meeting held last week in Maputo attended by 80 parliamentarians from the whole of the Southern African Development Committee (SADC) region, together with experts from various international organizations. The seminar was held in preparation for the 4th High Level forum on Aid Effectiveness to be held in Busan, South Korea in November.
The Maputo Seminar titled “Parliamentary Engagement in Supporting Aid for Development” endorsed the AU position on aid as well as a policy document from the Network of African Parliamentarians which will be taken forward to Busan. It also served to collect and highlight evidence of good parliamentary practices in oversight of aid and other resources for development. With sufficient transparency from international donors, recipient country executives, and members of civil society, parliaments will be able to exercise oversight of aid allocations in both donor and recipient countries in the interest of accountability, transparency, and democracy. The seminar was held from 3-5 May and organised in partnership between the parliament of Mozambique, the SADC-Parliamentary Forum, and the Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa (AWEPA). Source: Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa (AWEPA)



Four ambassadors present credentials to ECOWAS President
 ABUJA, Nigeria, May 9, 2011/African Press Organization (APO) - The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Ambassador James Gbeho, has received the Letters of Credence of four Ambassadors accredited to ECOWAS as permanent representatives to the regional institution.
The envoys are Mr. Job Obiang Esono Mbengono of Equatorial Guinea, Ms. Selma Ashipala-Musavyi of Namibia, Mr. Ali Rifat Koksal of Turkey and Mr Zoran Jovanovic of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
At separate and brief accreditation ceremonies on Friday, 6th May 2011 in Abuja, the Ambassadors expressed their desires to collaborate with ECOWAS and contribute to the realization of the integration objectives of the organization.
In his own remarks, Ambassador Gbeho expressed the hope that their appointments would further encourage the development of initiatives that would accelerate the pace of integration in West Africa, for the greater well-being of the peoples of the region.
While stressing the new vision of a people-oriented ECOWAS, the President of the Commission highlighted some key areas where cooperation between the institution, the three countries and ICRC could better serve the interests of the citizens of West Africa.
He thanked the governments of the countries and the management of the ICRC for the appointments of the Ambassadors and prayed that their appointments would reinforce the cooperation between them and ECOWAS. Source: Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS)

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