Weekly anb01241.txt #7

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WEEKLY NEWS ISSUE of: 24-01-2002      PART #1/7

* Africa. "Red card to child labour" - The International Labour Organisation (ILO) intends to launch a campaign against child labour, dubbed "Red Card to Child Labour", at the start of the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations soccer tournament in Mali's capital, Bamako. On 15 January, the UN agency statement, said the campaign was symbolized by the red card handed out by referees for serious violations of soccer rules. Malian President Alpha Oumar Konare, the Confederation of African Football, and the 2002 African Cup Organising Committee are expected to attend the opening ceremony. The campaign against child labour is to brought to other venues worldwide, including the World Cup. (IRIN, 16 January 2002)

* Africa. Air Afrique to close down after failed talks - Efforts to maintain the regional African airline serving France's former colonies have collapsed amid sharp differences over the role of Air France and how to cut costs at the long-troubled Air Afrique. Last week, representatives of the 11 ex-French colonies that formed Air Afrique in 1961 agreed to close the existing company after six months of fruitless negotiations. They said they would try to relaunch a regional airline, which would probably no longer have monopoly rights on some routes. The closure of Air Afrique is likely to be approved at a shareholders' meeting at the end of the month. It is expected to lead to increased emphasis on national airlines forging their own links with Paris, although the French government is under political pressure to find a solution that will preserve the close ties between West Africa and the former colonial power. In August, Air France offered to swap its existing 11.8 per cent stake in Air Afrique for a 35 per cent holding in a new airline based on a business plan that would see the airline operate a hub system, drop some unprofitable routes and have an independent management. To secure this independence, the French carrier wanted the 11 states that control 68.4 per cent of the existing airline to own about 20 per cent in a new airline and bring in more investors from the private sector. However, the African states appear to have run into a dispute about where cuts should be made and whether some states might be left without direct flights to Europe. In turn, African ministers have accused France's national carrier of complicating Air Afrique's situation by adopting an ambivalent attitude. Air Afrique employees have also laid the blame on Air France, recently staging strikes to block the airline's operations in African airports. The problems of Air Afrique have been exacerbated by the downturn in the airline industry following the terrorist attacks on the US. Apart from a small fleet of aircraft operating regionally, Air Afrique has only one aircraft for long-haul flights, compared with six a year ago. This makes it one of the world's most over-staffed airlines, with a workforce of 4,000. It has debts of E510m ($454 million). (Financial Times, UK, 17 January 2002)

* Africa. Action against the Media - Burundi: In a 17 January letter to President Buyoya, Reporters sans Frontières protested the suspension on 14 January of the private news agency Net Press. Cameroon: On 17 January, the Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN, condemned the legal irregularities surrounding the 5-year sentence handed down to Georges Baongla, publications director of the weekly Le Démenti, for alleged extortion. Mozambique: In a 16 January letter to President Chissano, the Committee to Protect Journalists protested the ongoing prosecution of Marcelo Mosse, formerly chief reporter for the now defunct Metical, on defamation charges. Sudan: On 21 January, Amnesty International called on the Sudanese authorities to stop harassing the independent daily Khartoum Monitor and its staff. Zimbabwe: On 18 January, the Information and Publicity Minister said he will not issue a licence to Bulawayo Dialogue, a civic group based in Bulawayo. -- On 21 January, Zimbabwean media groups petitioned the government and parliament to throw out the media bill. Over the weekend a senior government official had said that the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill was going to be pushed through parliament because it was "crucial to restoring law and order in a media industry thriving on hate journalism, and abuse of journalistic privileges". (ANB-BIA, Brussels, 22 January 2002)

* Africa. Human Rights - 17 January: Amnesty International says that in Cameroon, a human rights defender has been targeted and harassed on the eve of a major international human rights congress. Abdoulaye Math, president of the Movement for the Defence of Freedom and Human Rights, was arrested on 16 January in Yaounde by members of the National Centre for External Research. He was travelling to Dublin Eire, where he was to speak on the human rights situation in Cameroon. The same day, in Morocco, the Association for Defense of Victims of the Rif War says the Interior Ministry has banned an international conference the group had called on the continuing effects of toxic gas in the northern Rif region from the 1920s. 18 January: The UN Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, entered into force, today, with UNICEF hailing it as a positive advancement in the fight against child exploitation. 21 January: Amnesty International says that an independent prosecution policy must be assured in Sierra Leone, if the Special Court in Sierra Leone is to tackle impunity effectively and fairly, and contribute to the peace and reconciliation process. (ANB-BIA, Brussels, 22 January 2002)

* Afrique. Human Rights Watch s'inquiète - La priorité donnée à la lutte contre le terrorisme à la suite des attentats du 11 septembre, menace les droits humains, les libertés politiques et les économies en Afrique, relève Human Rights Watch (HRW) dans son rapport 2001. "Les questions des droits humains en Afrique, de celles liées aux problèmes de santé publique et à l'économie en passant par celles issues de répressions flagrantes et brutales, ont perdu en visibilité au fur et à mesure que la communauté internationale se tournait vers la lutte contre le terrorisme", écrit HRW. Des priorités antiterroristes peuvent se développer au détriment des questions de droits humains, comme dans la Corne (Somalie, Ethiopie) et en Afrique de l'Est, où les Etats-Unis soupçonnent l'existence de réseaux d'Al-Qaida. "Le Soudan a annoncé avec enthousiasme sa coopération dans la lutte contre la terreur, se servant de ses capacités en matière de collecte de renseignements sur Al-Qaida pour reformuler ses relations bilatérales. Le Kenya, l'Ethiopie et l'Erythrée ont semblé prêts à saisir cette opportunité pour marginaliser leurs éléments réformistes", souligne HRW. (La Croix, France, 23 janvier 2002)

* Algérie. Législatives avant le 5 juin - Les élections législatives auront lieu dans les délais réglementaires, c'est-à-dire avant le 5 juin prochain, a affirmé le chef du gouvernement Ali Benflis, en marge de sa visite dans les préfectures du sud-ouest du pays. Certains quotidiens algériens avancent la date du 23 mai comme date probable de leur tenue. Mais le scepticisme reste de mise, en raison de la persistance de la crise en Kabylie qui, dans les conditions actuelles, rendent invraisemblable la tenue d'un scrutin aussi important. Le chef du gouvernement ne désespère pas cependant de voir cette crise se dénouer, à travers le dialogue initié par ses soins, avec des délégués qui ne bénéficient pas cependant du soutien de la majorité des populations kabyles. (PANA, Sénégal, 19 janvier 2002)

* Algérie. Gazoduc plastiqué - Le samedi soir 19 janvier, des islamistes présumés ont fait sauter une portion d'un gazoduc à usage purement intérieur dans la province de Bouira, à 90 km à l'est d'Alger, annonce la société nationale d'hydrocarbures Sonatrach, citée par l'agence Reuters. L'explosion a provoqué un incendie, qui a été ensuite maîtrisé, et a entraîné une coupure d'approvisionnement pour quatre provinces du pays. Les travaux de réparation de l'ouvrage, qui achemine du gaz naturel du Sahara vers la capitale et les provinces de Moumerdès, Blida et Aïn Defla, sont en cours et devraient prendre trois jours. Un raccordement à un autre gazoduc a été effectué pour rétablir l'approvisionnement. - D'autre part, entre le 16 et le 18 janvier, huit personnes (quatre civils, dont deux enfants, et quatre islamistes) ont été tuées dans des attentats terroristes ou des accrochages entre islamistes armés et forces de l'ordre dans diverses régions de l'Algérie, rapporte l'agence AP. (ANB-BIA, de sources diverses, 20 janvier 2002) constitution from standing as a presidential candidate in elections for the union presidency on 14 April. (IRIN, 16 January 2002)

* Comores. Démission de six ministres? - Le 21 janvier, six ministres appartenant aux partis d'opposition auraient démissionné du gouvernement de transition formé par le président, quelques heures à peine après la composition de ce cabinet d'union nationale. L'opposition, qui n'avait obtenu que six portefeuilles de second rang, a expliqué que "ni l'esprit ni la lettre des modalités que nous avions définies ensemble en présence de la communauté internationale" n'ont été respectés. La lettre de démission a cependant été signée non pas par les ministres concernés mais par deux représentants de l'opposition. Deux ministres, Hassan Ahmed Barwane et Said Omar Achraf, ont démenti cette démission collective. Le parti de M. Barwane a déclaré qu'il maintenait sa participation au gouvernement. M. Achraf, lui, a appelé l'opposition à ne pas limiter son combat au seul partage des postes ministériels. (ANB-BIA de sources diverses, 22 janvier 2002)

Weely news - anb0124.txt - #1/7