Weekly anb06147.txt #8

WEEKLY NEWS ISSUE of: 14-06-2001      PART #7/8

* Sierra Leone. Encore 59 enfants libérés - Le 9 juin, 59 enfants soldats ont été libérés à Kailahun par la rébellion sierra-léonaise du Front révolutionnaire uni (RUF). Cela porte à 828 le nombre d'enfants remis à la Mission des Nations unies en Sierra Leone depuis trois semaines. - D'autre part, le 9 juin, 39 personnes, dont un officier supérieur, ont été arrêtées à Freetown, rapporte l'agence Misna. Il s'agit du colonel Gabriel Mani, responsable de la formation de la nouvelle armée nationale. On a découvert chez lui trois dépôts de matériel de guerre, contenant des fusils d'assaut, des obus antichar, des grenades et des mitrailleuses. 24 soldats et 14 civils ont fini sous les verrous avec lui. La police tente de déterminer les raisons pour lesquelles l'officier a accumulé une telle quantité d'armes dans la capitale, désignée comme zone démilitarisée. (ANB-BIA, de sources diverses, 11 juin 2001

* Sierra Leone. UN commander complains about resources - The commander of United Nations' peacekeeping forces in Sierra Leone, General Daniel Opande of Kenya, says that his plans to disarm combatants in the civil war are being held up because of the lack of proper facilities. General Opande said his forces were ready to begin the disarmament process immediately, but could not do so unless there were proper provision of such things as accommodation, food and water. He said he hoped that the National Commission for Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration which was set up under the recent peace agreement would help with the necessary facilities in the eastern district of Yengema. Disarmament was due to begin at the end of May, but has been put off because the disarmament centre in the northern town of Lunsar was not ready. (BBC News, UK, 11 June 2001)

* Sierra Leone. Army arrests - A top army official has been arrested after a large quantity of arms and ammunition was found at his home. The director of training for the Sierra Leonean army, Colonel Gabriel Mani, was detained on 9 June after a search of his house in Freetown. 24 soldiers and 14 civilians were also arrested by the police and UN security forces. (BBC News, UK, 11 June 2001)

* South Africa. Unwavering on AIDS drugs - The South African government on 7 June reiterated its position on anti-retroviral drugs to combat HIV/AIDS, in spite of winning a court battle with pharmaceutical companies to ensure the provision of cheaper generic drugs. "At the prices anti-retrovirals are, we can't afford them. I made some calculations and it became very clear that we would not be able to use anti- retrovirals," Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, the minister of health, said. Speaking at the World Economic Forum's southern Africa economic summit in Durban, she said treatment of HIV/AIDS formed part of the government's integrated approach to relieve poverty and underdevelopment. The government's emphasis would be on an HIV/AIDS prevention programme. Mrs Tshabalala-Msimang said access to cheaper medicines achieved in the court battle would help to treat diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and sexually transmitted diseases. "We must do those things that we know work. We must not fool ourselves. Anti-retrovirals do not cure HIV." (Financial Times, UK, 8 June 2001)

* South Africa. Concern for Zimbabwe - Senior South African officials are increasingly concerned about the possibility of an imminent collapse of Zimbabwe after months of political violence and deepening economic crisis. Conventional opinion is that South Africa holds the whip hand in relations with Zimbabwe but has failed to apply it, perhaps because of an affinity with President Robert Mugabe. Mr Mugabe, however, may have more cards to play than is generally appreciated, or so an influential camp within South Africa's ruling ANC argues. Fear of what Mr Mugabe could do to South Africa has led to paralysis in policy-making even though some in the ANC view Zimbabwe as the greatest national security threat post-apartheid South Africa has faced. This fear has persuaded President Thabo Mbeki to take a non-confrontational diplomatic approach to Zimbabwe in spite of the damage illegal land invasions, a war of words with the UK and a crackdown on political opponents have done to the region's international image. "With Ian Smith [Zimbabwe's former white president], South Africa was dealing with a racist who it could be assumed would act rationally under pressure," warned one ANC policy shaper. "With Robert Mugabe we are dealing with a racist whose responses to pressure are unpredictable." (Financial Times, UK, 8 June 2001)

* South Africa. Arms inquiry begins - 11 June: Public hearings open in South Africa into a US $6 billion arms deal, which has been at the centre of allegations of fraud and corruption at high levels in the government in Pretoria. The case at pretoria High Court was due to start two weeks ago, but was immediately adjourned at the request of the Defence Ministry, which said it needed more time to prepare. The government has been accused of a cover-up. Something it denies. (BBC News, UK, 11 June 2001)

* South Africa. To work with UK over Zimbabwe - South Africa and the UK were agreed in their approach to resolving the instability and economic crisis in Zimbabwe, Essop Pahad, the minister in charge of the South African presidency, said at the weekend. Mr Pahad said discussions on helping bring peace to Zimbabwe would take place during President Thabo Mbeki's three-day state visit to the UK, which begins on 12 June. There were "no fundamental points of difference" between the two governments. South Africa has pursued a policy of "quiet diplomacy" in response to illegal farm occupations, the breakdown of the rule of law and intimidation of political opposition in Zimbabwe. It argued that it would bear the brunt of its neighbour's collapse and has maintained economic links and conciliatory diplomatic contact. "If there were a collapse in Zimbabwe, all those people wouldn't go to the UK, they would come here," Mr Pahad said. Last week Mr Mbeki received a vote of support from an unexpected quarter when Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Zimbabwean opposition, endorsed the South African approach. Mr Tsvangirai insisted that South Africa should keep lifelines in place instead of applying economic pressure. (Financial Times, UK, 11 June 2001)

* South Africa. Bishops denounce xenophobia - The Catholic Bishops of South Africa has issued a Pastoral Letter for International Refugee Day 2001, to encourage their countrymen to give an evangelical welcome to those without a homeland. The document entitled "Our Responsibility Toward Refugees", begins by reminding the faithful that since 1990, "refugees have been coming to seek refuge in South Africa from troubled spots in Africa and other parts of the world. The unending wars and stalling peace processes mean that we expect this trend to continue". (Zenit, Italy, 11 June 2001)

* South Africa. Agreement reached on mineral rights legislation - The South African government and the mining industry on 11 June reached a landmark agreement on controversial new legislation that seeks to abolish private ownership of mineral rights, returning them to the state. The decision to bury the hatchet after long and often bitter argument was announced on the eve of the South African president's official visit to the UK. Thabo Mbeki arrived on 12 June with dozens of businessmen and eight cabinet ministers on a four-day visit. The draft Minerals Development Bill has been an object of contention since its publication last December. The government maintained its intention was to bring South Africa in line with best international practice, to redress the imbalances of the past and to prevent companies hoarding their mineral rights without exploiting their resources by introducing a "use it or lose it" policy. South Africa's Chamber of Mines, as well as international fund managers and investment analysts, objected that the proposed legislation gave the mining minister excessive discretionary powers to deny or refuse mining licences. Without security of tenure, they warned, "alarm bells will ring for investors" who would fear "expropriation without compensation". (Financial Times, UK, 12 June 2001)

* Afrique du Sud. Thabo Mbeki reçu par la reine - La reine Elizabeth a reçu en grande pompe le président sud-africain Thabo Mbeki, lors de la première journée de sa visite en Grande-Bretagne. Cette visite d'Etat de quatre jours vise à promouvoir les relations économiques et politiques entre les deux pays. Le commerce bilatéral entre l'Afrique du Sud et la Grande-Bretagne s'est élevé à 5,5 milliards de dollars en 2000, soit 40% de plus par rapport à l'année précédente. Thabo Mbeki, qui avait suivi des études d'économie à l'université du Sussex (sud-est de l'Angleterre), retrouve 40 ans après le pays qui l'avait accueilli en tant que jeune réfugié politique fuyant l'apartheid. Le président sud-africain a aussi rencontré le nouveau chef de la diplomatie britannique, Jack Straw, qui a réaffirmé que "les relations avec l'Afrique constitueront une priorité importante du deuxième mandat de ce gouvernement". Lors de cette visite, les deux pays aborderont aussi très probablement la situation au Zimbabwe, sujet de friction entre Pretoria et Londres depuis que le ministre chargé de l'Afrique, Peter Hain, a critiqué l'an dernier la "diplomatie tranquille" du gouvernement sud-africain envers la politique du président Robert Mugabe. (ANB-BIA, de sources diverses, 13 juin 2001)

* South Africa. Mbeki in Great Britain - South African President Thabo Mbeki has thanked Britain for its support in ending apartheid seven years ago. Mbeki and his wife were hosted by Queen Elizabeth II for the four-day state visit -- his first to Britain. "We know it as a matter of fact that Her Majesty, the rest of the royal family and the people of these isles wish us well," he told a state banquet on 12 June at Windsor Castle, the royal residence west of London, Reuters reported. "We will strive constantly, in a principled manner, without bitterness, avoiding being driven by the animosities of the past, towards a future of happiness for all the children of our country, both black and white," he added. Queen Elizabeth in turn praised Mbeki for maintaining the momentum of reform, Reuters said. "It is to your credit. Mr President, that this drive forward has continued," she said. "It is easy to forget just how much has been achieved." The Queen promised that Britain would continue to give South Africa full support. (CNN, USA, 13 June 2001)

* Soudan. Reprise des raids aériens - Le 11 juin, le gouvernement soudanais a annoncé que ses forces armées allaient "reprendre les raids aériens" dans le sud du pays "pour se défendre face aux agressions répétées" des rebelles sudistes. Le gouvernement avait décidé le 25 mai la suspension des raids aériens dans le sud, où les combats se déroulent entre forces gouvernementales et SPLA depuis environ trois mois. (Le Monde, France, 13 juin 2001)

* Tanzania. Alert on Zanzibari prisoners - On 7 June, Amnesty International expressed concern for the physical safety of two prisoners charged with the murder of a police officer during a political demonstration on Pemba Island on 27 January, and who have not been released despite Zanzibar's Attorney general having ordered the authorities to do so. (Amnesty International, 7 June 2001)

* Chad. Violent crackdown on peaceful protestors - In a Press release dated 12 June, Amnesty International says it is deeply concerned about the safety of members and supporters of the political opposition as well as of human rights defenders in Chad, following a violent crackdown by the Chadian security forces in the wake of a disputed presidential election. "The weeks since the announcement of the election results on 27 May 2001 have been marked by a pattern of government harassment and repression of the opposition", Amnesty International said. (Amnesty International, 12 June 2001)

* Tchad. Manifestation violemment dispersée - Le 11 juin, une manifestation de plusieurs dizaines de femmes, qui entendaient protester devant l'ambassade de France contre la "complicité" des autorités françaises dans le "hold-up électoral" du président Déby, réélu le 20 mai avec 67,35% des voix, a été violemment dispersée par la police anti-émeute. Deux femmes, dont l'avocate Jacqueline Moudaïna, qui mène une enquête sur les tortures et massacres du temps de l'ancien président Habré, dont Déby fut le chef d'état-major général, ont été blessées par des éclats de grenades défensives. - Quinze jours après la diffusion des résultats des élections présidentielles, les Eglises chrétiennes du Tchad ont publié une dure prise de position. "La proclamation des résultats provisoires a profondément humilié, découragé quant à l'espoir de voir s'instaurer" dans le pays "un véritable Etat de droit", peut-on lire dans une "Lettre aux chrétiens et aux hommes de bonne volonté", signée par les responsables de l'Eglise catholique, de l'Alliance évangélique des Eglises de la Pentecôte et de l'Entente des Eglises et des Missions évangéliques. Le 13 juin, le Conseil constitutionnel tchadien a confirmé la réélection du président Déby au premier tour. (ANB-BIA, de sources diverses, 14 juin 2001)

* Togo. Doyen de la presse privée condamné - Le 5 juin, Lucien Messan, directeur de la rédaction de l'hebdomadaire Le Combat du peuple, a été condamné à 18 mois de prison, dont 6 avec sursis, pour "faux et usage de faux" par un tribunal de Lomé. On lui reproche d'avoir apposé sa signature au bas d'un communiqué de l'Association togolaise des éditeurs de la presse privée, qui dénonçait les affirmations du Premier ministre selon lesquelles "les directeurs de publication ont été unanimes pour affirmer qu'il n'y a jamais eu des centaines de morts au Togo". RSF a protesté contre cette condamnation. Agé de 55 ans, Lucien Messan est le doyen de la presse privée togolaise. Il est connu pour être l'un des journalistes les plus virulents envers le régime d'Eyadéma. Il avait déjà été interpellé en septembre 1998 et accusé de diffusion de fausses informations. (RSF, Paris, 8 juin 2001)

Weekly anb0614.txt - #7/8