Weekly anb07124.txt #5

WEEKLY NEWS ISSUE of: 12-07-2001  PART #4/5

* Nigeria/UK. Virgin enters BA's lucrative route to Nigeria - Virgin Atlantic, the UK airline, carried out its maiden voyage to Lagos on 5 July, signalling the end of British Airways' monopoly on the lucrative route between London and Africa's most populous nation. "It has been a long-held ambition of mine to fly to Nigeria and I am delighted that Virgin Atlantic is at last able to serve Lagos, a route which has been crying out for competition for such a long time," Richard Branson, Virgin chairman, said on arrival. Virgin's entry into Nigeria coincides with a dramatic upsurge in travel to and from the country, as well as a steep decline in air travel between other continents more directly hit by the global economic downturn. For BA, Virgin's main competitor, Africa and the Middle East was the only region showing growth last month, recording a 9.9 per cent increase in revenue per passenger km compared with a decline of 18 per cent for Asia Pacific. Since the death in 1998 of Sani Abacha, the former military dictator, and Nigeria's return to civilian rule two years ago, European airlines have frequently found themselves flooded with angry customers bumped off because of overbooking. Visa applications to Britain have more than doubled in three years with 95,000 multiple entry visas expected to be issued from Nigeria this year. At least 1m Nigerians are thought to reside in the UK. (Financial Times, UK, 6 July 2001)

* Nigeria. $93m approved for space agency - The Nigerian government has approved N10.5bn ($93m) of spending towards the development of a national space programme under the name of NASRDA -- the National Space Research and Development Agency. Ojo Maduekwe, the transport minister, said after this week's cabinet meeting that funding would be spread over the next four years, by which time the agency was expected to become self-sustainable. The programme was designed to advance the management through satellite technology of natural resources and telecommunications in Nigeria, which is Africa's most populous nation but, with an annual per capita gross domestic product of only $300, is one of the world's poorest. NASRDA would be split into six centres including one handling space transport and propulsion. A space command centre at the defence ministry would also eventually be created. Rocket science, once explored obsessively by Mobutu Sese Seko, the late Zairian dictator, was not an early aim, said one official who has helped map out Nigeria's first space policy over the past two years. "We are more interested in applications that will assist us in the alleviation of poverty, in food security, the sustainable management of our natural resources and improvement in our telecommunications," he said. "Satellite data are useful for solving these problems. This is more important to us now than the luxury of going to the moon or Mars. We will leave that to the Americans and the Russians who have the money and technology." Officials involved in Nigeria's faltering IMF and World Bank-sponsored reform programme were sceptical. "It would be better to concentrate first on health, basic education and security of lives and property than on a space agency. I can't imagine why this is appropriate at this stage given Nigeria's real needs," said one. (Financial Times, UK, 7 July 2001)

* Rwanda. Rwandan singer jailed for genocide role - A prominent Rwandan musician, Juvenal Masabo Nyangezi, has been jailed for six years for having associated with those who carried out the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The French news agency, AFP, said that Mr Nyangezi, who gained fame in the 1990s for his songs about love, Rwanda's landscape and its contemporary culture, was found guilty of having joined a group of people who killed Tutsis in the Gikongoro commune. The prosecution, which had sought a life sentence, said it would appeal against the ruling. (BBC News, UK, 8 July 2001)

* Rwanda. 10 condamnations à mort - Le 6 juillet, dix personnes ont été condamnées à mort par la justice rwandaise pour avoir participé au génocide de 1994. Le tribunal de Gikongoro a aussi condamné huit autres Rwandais à la prison à vie, au cours du procès de 28 personnes accusées de crimes contre l'humanité et de génocide. Cinq autres personnes ont été condamnées à des peines allant de 6 à 15 ans de prison et cinq ont été acquittées. La justice rwandaise a déjà prononcé plus d'une centaine de peines capitales depuis le début, en 1996, des procès du génocide. (La Libre Belgique, 11 juillet 2001)

* Rwanda. Bishop sees Kibeho as a source of reconciliation - "I hope that through Our Lady, Kibeho will become a centre for national reconciliation". Bishop Augustin Misago of Gikongoro said this in a conversation with Fides about the official recognition on the part of the local Church in Rwanda, of apparitions of the Virgin Mary at Kibeho in 1981 and during the following six months. It was Bishop Misago himself (since Kibeho is in his diocese) who made the announcement on June 29. Our Lady is said to have appeared to three local school girls, Alphonsine Mumureke, Nathalie Mukamazimpka and Marie Claire Mukankango. In the past in Africa many people have claimed that they have seen the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, but none of these apparitions were ever officially recognised. Fides asked Bishop Misago, who was head of the Kibeho Inquiry Commission and who has just written a book on the subject, about the significance of these events. "When the news of the first apparition in 1981 began to spread", he said, "all over the country people began to say they had seen the Virgin Mary. As a Church we judged the first apparitions to be sufficient for the ends of the faith. The others were imitations or in any case they bring nothing new to the original apparitions at Kibeho". Since 1981, Kibeho became a place for pilgrimages and prayer meetings led by bishops. The approval of the devotion was granted in 1988. But Kibeho was also the site of massacres during the 1994 ethnic genocide. Regarding the impact on the life of the local Church and the process of reconciliation of the people of Rwanda, Bishop Misago said: "First of all I hope that through Our Lady, Kibeho will become a national centre for reconciliation. Marian devotion has certainly increased and so have pilgrimages to Kibeho. Although unfortunately the general situation of instability in the country, limits the movement of people and so also the flow of pilgrims". (Fides, Vatican City, 11 July 2001)

* Rwanda/Ouganda. Régler le différend - Le 6 juillet, le président rwandais Paul Kagamé et son homologue ougandais Yoweri Museveni se sont engagés à rétablir de bonnes relations entre leurs deux pays, désunis par la guerre au Congo-RDC. A l'issue d'une rencontre de trois heures dans une tente au poste-frontière de Gatuna, les deux ont plaidé, dans une déclaration commune, pour "l'amélioration et le renforcement des relations entre les deux pays et l'extension de leur coopération". Les relations entre le Rwanda et l'Ouganda s'étaient dégradées, jusqu'à l'affrontement entre leurs armées en 1999 à Kisangani. Pour Museveni "l'affaire est close". Kagamé, plus prudent, a déclaré qu'il fallait attendre de voir "si les discussions s'avèrent fructueuses" sur le terrain. (La Libre Belgique, 7 juillet 2001)

* Rwanda/Uganda. Seeking to mend rift - 6 July: President Yoweri Museveni and his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame, are meeting, today, at Katuna border post -- a stretch of no-man's land which lies between their two countries. The meeting is the first of its kind in close to a year and the presidents will be trying to find ways to repair their damaged relationship. Uganda and Rwanda were once the firmest of allies, with Uganda supporting Mr Kagame when his then rebel army fought its way to power in 1994. However, they fell out two years ago, soon after both countries decided to back rebels fighting the government in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Despite being on the same side, rival political and business interests led to a series of violent clashes between their armies in the north-eastern Congolese city of Kisangani. Neither side accepts blame and this year they have gone so far as to accuse each other of backing dissidents fighting their respective governments. Tensions reached an all-time low in March when Uganda formally declared Rwanda a hostile nation, ranking it alongside its traditional enemies -- Sudan, and the Congo --with which it is at war. In a joint statement following the meeting, the two Presidents said they would work closely to promote peace in the region. (BBC News, UK, 6 July 2001)

* Sierra Leone. Justice on hold for rebel - At the old British colonial prison in Sierra Leone's war-scarred capital, a high wall, electric fence and tents full of guards armed with AK-47s, separate rebel leader Foday Sankoh from the country he laid waste to for 10 years. Authorities won't even confirm Sankoh is there, preserving maximum security and secrecy for the man behind a terror war of atrocities. At the United Nations in New York, officials tote up international pledges made to date to fund a projected war-crimes trial for the imprisoned rebel leader -- but say they fall short. In the city around the prison, Sierra Leone's people tote up a tally of their own -- and find ample material to work with. Sankoh's rebels killed, maimed, gang-raped, burned, kidnapped and drugged children to force them to fight, said Freetown resident Kenneth Smith, who like many here responds to a question about trial for Sankoh by ticking off a list of fitting charges. Fought in an obscure West African country, Sierra Leone's war might have escaped world attention almost entirely if not for the viciousness of its rebels. (InfoBeat, USA, 9 July 2001)

* Sierra Leone. Désarmement - La Mission des Nations unies en Sierra Leone (Minusil) a procédé à la destruction de plus de 10.800 armes lourdes et légères confisquées des mains des combattants de la guerre civile, a déclaré son porte-parole le 11 juillet. Ces armes appartenaient à des combattants qui ont subi le programme de désarmement. Toutefois, le commandant de la Minusil a déclaré que ses forces rencontraient encore des difficultés dans le désarmement des combattants dans la région diamantifère de Kono et l'île de Bonthe au sud. Selon lui, ces difficultés résultent du manque de confiance, de la peur et de la suspicion qui subsistent entre les combattants. (PANA, Sénégal, 11 juillet 2001)

* Somalia. Clan gun battles - There has been fighting in central Somalia over the weekend between rival sub-clans. Reports say at least seven people were killed when the two Abgal sub-clans exchanged heavy gunfire in a dispute over the ownership of grazing land. Fighting between the same sub-clans in May left at least 20 people dead. The latest clashes broke out after clan elders failed in an effort to resolve the dispute. There has been frequent clan-based fighting in Somalia since President Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991. (BBC News, UK, 9 July 2001)

* Somalia. Gun markets continue to trade - Automatic weapons fire reverberates through Mogadishu's four open-air gun markets, where it's business as usual for traders who supply arms to eastern and central Africa. Despite the rattle of gunfire, dealers say there's nothing to worry about. It's just the sound of "sky shooters" testing the merchandise. "The anti-aircraft guns and mortars are tested a little way outside the market," said Mohamed Ali Dubbad, acknowledging security concerns. He is one of the scores of gun dealers selling Russian and North Korean-made Kalashnikov assault rifles for $200 apiece in a part of the world where war, crime and civil unrest abound. If that's too expensive, you can find guns made in Libya, Egypt and Yugoslavia for $150. The cheapest assault rifles -- American M16s, German G3s and Belgian SAR-80s -- go for about $100 each. The price is determined by popularity of the weapon and availability of ammunition. (InfoBeat, USA, 9 July 2001)

Weekly anb0712.txt - Part 4/5