Weekly anb06141.txt #8

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WEEKLY NEWS ISSUE of: 14-06-2001      PART #1/8

* Africa. "WTO must heed the poor world" - Alec Erwin, South Africa's minister of trade and industry, warned on 7 June that the existence of the World Trade Organisation would be threatened if its annual meeting in Doha in November, followed the inconclusive course of the Seattle talks two years ago. Speaking at the World Economic Forum's southern Africa summit, Mr Erwin said bilateral agreements and negotiations around free trading blocs threatened to overtake the mechanisms of the WTO unless it agreed to have a round where the needs of the developing world were addressed. He urged both the developed and developing world "not to make the fundamental mistake of not having a round. South Africa would not sit back even though it would cause tensions with our neighbours," he said. "We would not allow ourselves as a trading country to be left out of agreements. We are not going to get leadership from the US, Europe or Japan. We should be giving leadership. It can lead to jobs in our economy in a matter of months and years, not decades. (Financial Times, UK, 8 June 2001)

* Africa. Solar eclipse - On 21 June, the moon's shadow will sweep across the Southern Hemisphere. Observers throughout Sub-Saharan Africa will see part of the sun blotted out by the black disk of the moon, while those in a narrow corridor, stretching from the middle of the South Atlantic to the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar, will watch the entire disk of the sun disappear behind the moon for about two to four minutes. This complete disappearance of the sun behind the moon is called a total solar eclipse. The total solar eclipse of 21 June will be visible in a strip that begins in the South Atlantic, crosses Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Madagascar and ends in the Indian Ocean. Total eclipses are useful for scientists who study the sun, because they allow astronomers to see parts of the sun's atmosphere normally hidden by the blue light of the sky and only visible from space. (allAfrica.com, 11 June 2001)

* Afrique. Plus de 300.000 enfants soldats - Plus de 300.000 enfants, dont les plus jeunes ont sept ans, sont soldats dans 41 pays de la planète, selon un nouveau rapport sur ce fléau rendu public le 12 juin à Johannesburg. Si leur nombre global reste stable, les pays ayant recours aux services de ces enfants sont eux plus nombreux: 41 contre 30 il y a trois ans. Chair à canon dans les conflits armés, les enfants soldats sont aussi démineurs, espions, porteurs, esclaves sexuels, gardiens des exploitations de pétrole ou de diamants finançant les rébellions d'Afrique, selon la Coalition pour l'arrêt du recours aux enfants-soldats, fondée en 1998 par six ONG dont Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Save The Children, Terre des Hommes, rejointes par plus de 500 organisations dans le monde entier. Les gouvernements continuent à les enrôler "en raison même de leurs qualités d'enfants - bon marché, plus faciles à conditionner pour tuer sans peur, obéir sans réfléchir", explique le rapport. Une situation aggravée par les armes légères modernes: "Tout enfant avec un AK-47, aussi petit soit-il, du moment qu'il peut tenir cette arme, est transformé en tueur efficace", a déclaré la porte-parole de la Coalition, Judit Arenas, lors d'une conférence de presse. Ils seraient 120.000 dans les différentes guerres d'Afrique, et combattent aussi dans les rébellions des Philippines, de Papouasie-Nouvelle Guinée, et les conflits de Macédoine, de Colombie. Ils sont fréquemment drogués pour devenir insensibles à la peur et à la violence: un ancien rebelle de Sierra Leone, âgé de 14 ans, explique que ceux qui refusaient la drogue étaient abattus. Sur le Net: www.child-soldiers.org. (D'après AP, USA, 12 juin 2001)

* Africa. Action against the Media - Congo RDC: Freddy Loseke Lisumba La Yayenga, publisher of the Kinshasa-based newspaper La Libre Afrique, was arrested on 30 May. On 12 June, in a letter addressed to President Kabila, the World Association of Newspapers ans the World Editors Forum, expressed their grave concern at the imprisonment of newspaper publisher Freddy Loske Lisumba La Yayenga. Eritrea: On 7 June, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued a letter of inquiry to Eritrea's Minister of Justice, expressing concern about the welfare of 15 journalists who are alleged either to be in prison or to have been forcibly conscripted.Togo: The Writers in Prison Committee said (1 June) it is deeply dismayed to learn of the prison sentence handed down to Lucien Messan, editorial director of the weekly Le Combat du Peuple. Zimbabwe: On 5 June, a weekly television talk show was banned after only three broadcasts because callers criticised President Mugabe. On 8 June, Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) expressed concern about the deterioration of press freedom in Zimbabwe. (ANB-BIA, Brussels, 12 June 2001)

* Africa. Report decries use of children as soldiers - More than 300,000 children -- some as young as 7 -- are fighting as soldiers in 41 countries around the world, according to an international report on child soldiers released on 12 June. Besides being used as front-line fighters, children are used as minesweepers, spies, porters and sex slaves, according to the report by the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers. Governments continue to recruit children to fight because of "their very qualities as children -- they can be cheap, expendable and easier to condition into fearless killing and unthinking obedience," the report said. Though the number of child soldiers has remained constant in recent years, the number of countries where they are used has increased to 41 from about 30 three years ago, coalition spokeswoman Judit Arenas said. The use of child soldiers has decreased in the Middle East and Latin America as conflicts there have ended, while Africa's wars are estimated to engage more than 120,000 children, according to the report. The Asian country of Myanmar has the world's highest number of child soldiers -- 50,000. Rebels in the Philippines and Papa New Guinea use children soldiers and children are fighting in conflicts in Macedonia and Colombia. (CNN, USA, 13 June 2001)

* Africa. AEFJN concerns - In an advanced Press Release for 18 June, the Africa-Europe Faith and Justice Network (AEFJN) raises a number of specific concerns -- access to essential medicines, food security, the conservation of biological diversity, the misappropriation of traditional knowledge, the absence of obligations on trans-national corporations, and issues of North/South equity, mainly in relation to Africa. AEFJN focuses on these issues on both the international fora where the rules are made, and the domestic fora where they are interpreted. The AEFJN is part of the "TRIPS Action Network", a broad coalition of NGOs who demand that the private intellectual property rights defined by the TRIPS Agreement of the World Trade Organisation must protect the public interest and Human Rights. (TRIPS -- the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights). On 18th June, all the organizations participating in the TRIPS Action Network have organized a day of Action, to inform the media on the negative impact that the TRIPS Agreement has in the poor countries, and mainly in Africa, and to push the TRIPS Council meeting in Geneva (18-20 June) to take decisions to allow developing countries to have access to medicimes at cheap prices by allowing the production and import of patented medicines. (AEFJN, Brussels, 13 June 2001)

* Africa. Air Afrique buys time - The beleaguered West African regional airline, Air Afrique, has won a last-minute reprieve. An Abidjan summit meeting of the French-speaking West African countries which jointly own the airline has ruled out suggestions that it should be put into liquidation. As he left the meeting, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade said that instead they had decided to talk to possible strategic partners and to ask all the countries involved to put up enough money to buy some time from their creditors. The news was greeted with relief by the airline's staff. Mr Wade reported that the agreement was made in principle but the amount each country would pay had not yet been fixed. Air Afrique is effectively bankrupt and its creditors have become extremely pressing. It is now very close to losing its remaining planes, which would mean stopping flying altogether. (BBC News, UK, 14 June 2001)

* Afrique de l'Ouest. Air Afrique - Le 11 juin, les chefs d'Etat des 11 pays d'Afrique de l'Ouest actionnaires de la compagnie Air Afrique se sont retrouvés à Abidjan pour régler le sort de l'entreprise, qui réclame d'urgence une injection de capital de l'équivalent de 127 millions d'euros afin d'honorer ses dettes. Ses créanciers menacent de faire saisir six de ses neuf derniers avions. Les pays actionnaires sont invités à recapitaliser l'entreprise. Air France, qui détient 12% de la compagnie, pourrait être appelée à l'aide. L'autre solution consisterait à placer la compagnie en redressement judiciaire. (La Croix, France, 12 juin 2001)

* Africa/USA. US embassy bomber gets life - A Saudi man convicted of the 1998 bombing of the United States embassy in Kenya has been sentenced to life in prison. Mohamed Rashed Daoud Al-'Owhali had faced the death penalty for his part in the bombing, but a jury in New York was unable to reach a unanimous decision that he should be executed. Al-'Owhali had admitted to playing a part in the Nairobi bombing, which killed 213 people. He was one of four alleged followers of Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden convicted last month of conspiring to kill Americans in the simultaneous bombings of the Kenyan and Tanzanian embassies in which a total of 224 people were killed. The jury had deliberated over his sentencing for five days. On 11 June, they sent out a note asking for instructions if they were unable to agree that he should receive the death penalty. They were instructed that they could simply indicate that there had been no agreement and the defendant would be automatically sentenced to life. Al-'Owhali had faced the death penalty under a federal law which allows prosecutors to seek execution in terrorist murder cases. The jurors said there were "mitigating factors". They were worried it would make him a martyr. They felt it would not help the victims. (BBC News, UK, 13 June 2001)

* Algeria. Second front on Algeria's military - In the port town of Bejaia, in the Kabylie region of Algeria, the windows of the state-run radio station, the offices of Air Algerie and the mairie are burnt out and the windows smashed. The town's population is about 150,000 but 30,000 of them, most middle-aged and well-dressed, gather in Mediterranean sunshine in front of the town theatre. These are the fonctionnaires, the municipal workers, organised in phalanxes by stewards wearing black armbands, and they have come to add their voice to the anger of their fellow citizens in unprecedented display of civil resistance to the military regime that has, in effect, run Algeria since independence. In seven weeks of clashes triggered by the death in custody of a Kabyle youth, up to 80 have been killed by paramilitary gendarmes. Since then the resistance has taken on a more civil facade of almost daily protests in Bejaia, Tizi Ouzou, the main town in Kabylie, and Algiers, the capital. Among the demonstrators in Bejaia is the mayor, Chebati Rachid, a member of the opposition Front des Forces Socialistes, a Kabyle party that most analysts view as the only independent opposition party in Algeria. "We are exercising our legitimate rights as citizens," he said. "We are here to call for a democratic and constitutional solution to our problems and for an inquiry into why and how these people were killed." Mr Rachid said he had made representations to the local commander of the gendarmerie but had received only assurances that the killings were being investigated. Gendarmes had been placed under investigation but none had been put on trial. (Financial Times, UK, 11 June 2001)

Weekly anb0614.txt - #1/8