Weekly anb01245.txt #7

WEEKLY NEWS ISSUE of: 24-01-2002      PART #5/7

* Mozambique. Malaria emergency - 17 January: Authorities in Mozambique have expressed concern over the growing number of malaria cases, which has now reached epidemic proportions. The disease is now responsible for the largest number of admissions and deaths in the country's hospitals. Health authorities, who are battling to find an effective solution, have just launched an emergency campaign to spray mosquito breeding grounds with insecticide. But with hospitals admitting an average of 800 malaria patients a day, the situation is becoming desperate. Three of the largest hospitals in the Mozambican capital, Maputo, have now been forced to assign two patients per single bed. Last year the country's major hospitals registered over 280,000 malaria cases resulting in more than 1,200 deaths. The insecticide spraying campaign will first target low-lying parts of Maputo. Deputy National Health Director Avertino Barreto, says the sharp rise in malaria cases is largely due to the waters from floods in 2000 which are yet to drain away. But a malaria research group has calculated that the anti-malaria spraying campaign will only help reduce the spread of the disease by 5%. The group said it would have been more effective if the campaign had been launched earlier. Malaria continues to be the number one killer illness in Mozambique and the health authorities have been battling to identify a more effective treatment. Another headache for health authorities is the water-borne disease cholera, which has killed 139 people out of 12,000 cases since the epidemic broke out last August. They say the disease is now affecting eight of the country's 11 provinces. (BBC News, UK, 17 January 2002)

* Mozambique/South Africa. Rail deal - 17 January: Hopes are high that South African investment in Mozambique railways could improve trade and employment in both countries. Under the deal, South Africa's public railways, Spoornet, can run its trains from the border to the port of the Mozambique capital Maputo. This should offer better access to southern Africa from the Indian ocean. South Africa's public railways Spoornet is to pay $67.7m for the rail concession and will invest $17.2 million in the Mozambique rail network. The track was badly run down during Mozambique's civil war. A further $61 million will come from the Mozambique Port Development Company - a European funded organisation. Mozambique hopes that the deal will increase tax and tourism revenues as well as boost investment. (BBC News, UK, 17 January 2002)

* Nigeria. General strike - The leader of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, has been arrested for a second time after the unions vowed to continue with a general strike over the rise in fuel prices. Both the government and the courts have declared the strike illegal. The government is in no mood to compromise and is trying to wrong-foot the unions at every stage. By the end of the second day of the strike, trade union leaders call of the strike after wide consultation. (ANB-BIA, Brussels, 17 January 2002)

* Nigeria. Grève générale suspendue - Le vendredi 18 janvier, le Nigeria est retourné à la vie normale, après que les syndicats du travail ont interrompu une grève qui a paralysé le pays. Le jeudi, la principale fédération syndicale du Nigeria, le Congrès du travail nigérian (NLC), a décidé de suspendre la grève générale déclenchée la veille pour se conformer à une décision de la Haute Cour fédérale, qui avait déclaré le mouvement illégal. Cependant, le président du NLC, Adams Oshiomhole, arrêté le jeudi pour la deuxième fois en deux jours, était toujours en détention vendredi matin. La grève visait à protester contre la décision du gouvernement le 1er janvier d'augmenter de 15% le prix du pétrole. Le président du Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, a souligné qu'une deuxième augmentation des prix du carburant depuis que son administration est entrée en fonction en 1999, était une étape nécessaire en vue de la libéralisation de la distribution du carburant et pour mettre fin à l'histoire des pénuries du pays, en dépit du fait que celui-ci soit le sixième exportateur mondial de pétrole brut. (ANB-BIA, de sources diverses, 18 janvier 2002)

* Nigeria. Further clashes - 18 January: An angry crowd in northern Nigeria has killed seven policemen. Three civilians also died in the disturbances, which erupted this afternoon in Danja, a market town in Katsina state. The incident has prompted particular concern because Nigeria's security forces have a reputation for reacting strongly when their own members are killed. The events began soon after midday, when a man pushing a cart knocked into a policeman, apparently by accident. Witnesses in the town say that even though the cart pusher apologised, the policeman struck him with such force that the man died instantly. On seeing this, people in the market then attacked the policeman, who managed to escape and return to his headquarters. Police reinforcements arrived in the town soon after, by which time an angry crowd had gathered. In the ensuing confusion all that is clear is that the police attempted to disperse the crowd but were themselves overpowered, seven of them losing their lives, along with three townspeople. More police reinforcements soon arrived in the town and all that is known about this latest assault on Danja is that hundreds, perhaps thousands of people have fled the town. 21 January: 60 people have now been arrested by police in Danja. (ANB-BIA, Brussels, 22 January 2002)

* Nigeria. Accused woman on death row is freed - An Islamic court in the northern Nigerian state of Sokoto has acquitted a women accused of having sex outside marriage, in the second such case since the introduction of full Islamic law there. The judge said there were discrepancies in the evidence against the 18-year-old, Hafsatu Abubakar, which had raised doubts about the case. Hafsatu Abubakar, who is divorced, was accused by neighbours after she gave birth to a child several weeks ago. She and the baby have been held in prison pending the trial. When the judgement was announced on 23 January, there were cheers from about 500 supporters who attended the court session. Speaking to reporters outside the court house Hafsatu expressed her deep gratitude to God, who, she said, had given her strength through the trying period. There was an international outcry against Nigeria over the case of another woman in Sokoto, Safiya Huseini, who was sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, a verdict that she has appealed against. (BBC News, UK, 23 January 2002)

* Senegal. Adjusting to the euro - Three weeks since it was officially launched, the euro is already a fact of business life in Senegal. In common with 13 other countries in West and Central Africa, Senegal uses the CFA franc as its main currency. Its convertibility has traditionally been guaranteed by France, the old colonial power, and after a devaluation in 1994, an exchange rate of CFA 100 to one French franc was established. In the Senegalese capital, Dakar, changing French money has never been a problem and it has been common for foreigners and Senegalese alike to use French money in their daily business dealings. But with the French franc on its way out, the euro is quickly establishing itself, not least in Dakar's busy Sandaga market. "I've got no problem with this new money," said Pape Ndiaye, who runs a small clothes boutique. The notes are small, thin, easy to manage. The only headache is the exchange rate. Why couldn't they have come up with a round number?" (BBC News, UK, 21 january 2002)

* Sénégal. Eradiquer l'excision - Le gouvernement sénégalais a lancé un "plan national d'action" destiné à éradiquer d'ici à 2005 l'excision, interdite par une loi depuis janvier 1999 mais toujours pratiquée. L'excision toucherait 20% de la population féminine au niveau national, selon des estimations fournies à la presse le 22 janvier, lors du lancement de ce plan par la ministre de la Famille et de la petite enfance. Cette proportion atteindrait 60 à 70% dans les régions de Tambacounda (sud-est) et de Kolda (sud). (La Croix, France, 24 janvier 2002)

* Sierra Leone. "Flames of peace" - 18 January: The president of Sierra Leone has declared an end to one of Africa's most brutal wars. President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah was joined by rebel leaders and international guests at a peace ceremony in an army camp in the capital Freetown. The celebrations included a symbolic bonfire of some of the tens of thousands of weapons, gathered over the past year from both government troops and rebels. The horrific conflict, which killed up to 50,000 people, was characterised by widespread atrocities against civilians, including mass rape and mutilation. The war also left millions of people homeless, spreading throughout West Africa before UN-initiated peace talks ended the conflict. Sierra Leoneans, who have had little to celebrate in more than a decade of war, are making the most of this special day. "The war done done," President Kabbah said at the peace ceremony. "Today we are happy that those flames of war have been extinguished and that now we are about to watch the flames of peace," he said, shortly before the huge pile of about 3,000 guns was set on fire. (ANB-BIA, Brussels, 18 January 2002

* Sierra Leone. Cérémonie marquant la fin de la guerre - Le 18 janvier, le président sierra-léonais Ahmed Tejan Kabbah et le chef par intérim de la rébellion du Front révolutionnaire uni (RUF), Issa Sesay, ont participé à Lungi à une cérémonie marquant la fin du désarmement et de dix années de guerre. Quelque 3.000 armes ont été symboliquement brûlées. Un total de 47.596 combattants des différentes factions ont été démobilisés au cours du processus de désarmement, commencé en mai et terminé la semaine dernière, selon les chiffres de l'Onu. 14.436 armes ont aussi été récupérées. En mai prochain, des élections présidentielle et législatives doivent être organisées. (La Libre Belgique, 19 janvier 2002)

* Somalia. Puntland's ex-president pins hopes on war against terror - Clinging bitterly to a tiny corner of Garoe, the capital of north-eastern Somalia, the recently ousted president of Puntland is pinning his political future on the US war against terror. Surrounding the few buildings that remain under their control, guards loyal to Abdullahi Yussuf polish their battle-wagons and scrutinise the few travellers who dare to pass. Last week they shot a powerful local businessman, and the townsfolk of Garoe are angry; many fear a civil war is brewing. Mr Yussuf's opponents say it is the last stand of an old warrior who cannot accept he has been legitimately replaced. But according to Mr Yussuf, this last toehold is all that stands between a stable Puntland and a shadowy Islamist plot. To outsiders, only one thing is certain. The battle for the Somali region of Puntland is fast becoming a frightening case study of how this fragile region has been upset by events since September 11. Until recently it was one of the safest places in Somalia, exporting livestock and frankincense while its planners dreamed of developing its oil wells. But last year regional elders replaced Mr Yussuf with Jama Ali Jama, a former communist. In August, Mr Yussuf was ejected from the port town of Bossaso and retreated to Galkaio, his home base, leaving many dead. But he refused to accept the process was fair, and in November he recaptured Garoe, leading to the current stalemate. Since September 11, this local struggle has taken on a far more international flavour. Mr Yussuf says his removal was part of a conspiracy by al-Itihaad, an Islamic fundamentalist group set up in the 1970s, which he says has links with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda group and backs Mr Jama in the establishment of a terrorist state. The story has found a willing audience amid concerns that Muslim Somalia could provide a home for al-Qaeda and its allies. Washington has designated al-Itihaad a terrorist organisation, and is watching closely. (Financial Times, UK, 21 January 2002)

* Somalia. Internet returns to Somalia - A new telecommunications company has opened its doors in Somalia, two months after the country's only internet provider and a major telecommunications company were closed down for allegedly supporting terrorism. The firm, NetXchange, opened its business today with an attractive charge of 60 US cents per minute for all its telephone calls, lower than the existing prices in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. The company is also offering 1 000 Somali shillings (5 US cents) to anyone who receives an international call at one of its call shops. The Somali Internet Company and the al-Barakaat group of companies were shut down after the United States accused them of financing Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network. Al-Barakaat also helped Somalis transfer money internationally -- a vital source of income for the families of many Somali expatriates. The manager of NetXchange, Mr Mohammed Ahmed Ibar, says that the company will provide both wire and wireless internet services to the residents of Mogadishu. The new telecommunication company says that it has up to 40 call-shops and internet cafes with a total of 2,000 telephone lines. NetXchange is not the only institution filling the void left by the closure of al-Barakaat. This week a new bank in Mogadishu, the Universal Bank of Somalia was opened. The bank officials say that they are connected to 62 other international banks in 72 countries, including main business markets in London, Brussels and New York. (BBC News, UK, 22 January 2002)

Weely news - anb0124.txt - #5/7