Weekly anb08224.txt #5

WEEKLY NEWS ISSUE of: 22-08-2002      PART #4/5

* Malawi. World ignoring food crisis - The head of the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) says the world is ignoring the food crisis in southern Africa. Carol Bellamy, Unicef's executive director, appealed for $30m in aid for the region when she visited Malawi, where three million people face starvation. "Without help from the international community, things will get out of hand," she said at a feeding centre in the shanty town of Ndirande on the outskirts of Blantyre, Malawi's commercial capital. Malawi's national co-ordinator for nutrition, Thereza Banda, told Ms Bellamy that 7,000 Malawian children were on the verge of death. Another 65,000 children in the country were suffering from malnutrition, Ms Banda added. Malawi declared a state of disaster in February over a severe food shortage. The Unicef director said that the food crisis had also hit schools in the country, with more than 500,000 students dropping out. Malawi's school enrolment had tripled in 1994 to 3.2 million when free primary education was introduced. Unicef has set aside $3.5m for Malawi's malnourished children and lactating mothers, Ms Bellamy said. A spokeswoman for the World Food Programme, Thigo Mtegha, said that many families in Malawi were at the end of their resources. "What you are seeing are households that have a little bit of food that are saying that this food will last for a period of a month after which they will have no coping strategy whatsoever," she said. (ANB-BIA, Brussels, 20 August 2002)

* Mali. Recherche d'une majorité parlementaire - Le 10 août, le Conseil constitutionnel malien a inversé le résultat des élections législatives qui avaient donné la victoire en juillet dernier à l'Alliance pour la démocratie (ADEMA), le parti de l'ancien président Alpha Oumar Konaré. Des dizaines de milliers de suffrages ayant été invalidés en raison d'irrégularités diverses, la victoire revient désormais à la coalition regroupée autour de l'ex-Premier ministre Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, le candidat du Rassemblement pour le Mali (RPM). La coalition Espoir 2002 dispose désormais de 66 des 147 sièges à l'Assemblée nationale contre 51 à l'ADEMA, selon le Conseil. M. Keita a fait savoir qu'il était prêt à travailler avec le président Amadou Toumani Touré, élu en mai dernier et qui n'avait pas donné de consigne de vote pour ces législatives. -- 21 août. A une dizaine de jours de la proclamation des résultats définitifs des législatives, la classe politique malienne n'a pas encore réussi à dégager une majorité absolue et élire, pour les cinq prochaines années, le nouveau président du Parlement. Ces derniers jours, des rumeurs persistantes font cas de défections de députés de leur formation politique vers d'autres partis ou groupements, ce qui rend très complexe la situation actuelle du paysage politique. Huit sièges d'ailleurs ne sont pas encore pourvus; des élections partielles seront organisées entre octobre et novembre. (ANB-BIA, de sources diverses, 21 août 2002)

* Maroc. 26 naufragés - Vingt-six Marocains, dont deux jeunes filles, ont été portés disparus en mer, dans des circonstances non encore élucidées, alors qu'ils tentaient de rallier les côtes espagnoles. Les informations sur cette disparition ont été recueillies auprès de l'unique rescapé, retrouvé le 17 août au matin au large des côtes algériennes, à bord d'une embarcation pneumatique de sept mètres sur laquelle voyageait le groupe. (Libération, France, 19 août 2002)

* Morocco. King pardons hundreds of prisoners - 20 August: Morocco's King Mohammed today pardons 465 prisoners on the occasion of his 39th birthday. 21 August: Morocco celebrates the birthday of the monarch who was enthroned after the death of his father, King Hassan, in July 1999. In July, the monarch granted an amnesty to more than 8,000 prisoners during his wedding ceremony. They included two Islamists. Moroccan jails have a capacity of 40,000 but hold about 57,000 inmates, according to the latest available official figures. (CNN, USA, 20 August 2002)

* Mauritania/Senegal. Hundreds of thousands threatened by drought - Hundreds of thousands of people, especially children and women are threatened by "a record breaking drought" in the Sahel region of West Africa. In Mauritania and Senegal, livestock were already dying and crops has been lost. Mauritania is the worst hit. Cattle are dying due to lack of water and pasture while herdsmen are moving remaining stock to the southern border where some feed still exists, leaving part of the population with little or no access to fresh meat and milk. Even if a short rainfall does occur in Mauritania, the best case scenario is a 40 per cent loss in crop production. If no rains fall, that could [mean] 90 per cent of crops destroyed. In Senegal, Mauritania's southern neighbour, areas that usually received 24 inches of rain per year, had received only five inches as at 12 August. (ANB-BIA, Brussels, 14 August 2002)

* Mauritanie-Sénégal. Sécheresse - Des centaines de milliers de personnes, surtout des enfants et des femmes, sont menacées par "une sécheresse sans précédent" dans la région du Sahel, en Afrique de l'Ouest, a rapporté World Vision International. En Mauritanie et au Sénégal, le bétail est en train de périr et les cultures sont perdues, a signalé l'ONG. La Mauritanie est la plus durement frappée. Le bétail meurt à cause du manque d'eau, tandis que les pasteurs déplacent le reste du cheptel vers la frontière sud où il y a encore un peu de pâturage, ce qui laisse une partie de la population avec peu ou aucun accès à la viande fraîche et à du lait. "Même s'il y avait une courte saison de pluies en Mauritanie, le meilleur scénario sera de 40% de perte dans la production agricole. S'il ne pleut pas du tout, ce chiffre pourrait grimper à 90%". Au Sénégal, des régions qui recevaient d'habitude 24 pouces d'eau de pluie par an, n'en ont eu que 5 à la date du 12 août. "Même s'il se met à pleuvoir maintenant, la situation restera catastrophique", a remarqué le directeur de WVI. Des plans de réponse d'urgence à la sécheresse sont en préparation. (IRIN, Abidjan, 14 août 2002)

* Mozambique. Train crew in the dock - State prosecutors have demanded stiff penalties for four railway workers accused of causing the crash which killed 195 people in May. They pleaded not guilty and said they were following the instructions of their managers. If convicted of involuntary homicide, they could face up to 24 years in prison and be made to pay compensation to the victims' families. The crash occurred after a train travelling from the South African border to the capital, Maputo, encountered problems going down a hill. The train was stopped and rocks were used to wedge passenger carriages, while the crew went for help. But the rocks came loose and the wagons rolled down the hill into the freight sections of the train, near the town of Muamba. "Those who will be found guilty should be given an exemplary sentence," state attorney Arone Nhaca said at the start of the trial before a Maputo magistrate. Prosecutors accused the crew of negligence for not verifying the mechanical state of the train before leaving Ressano Garcia, on the South African border. During the journey the passenger carriages became decoupled from the rest of the train on three occasions but the prosecution said the crew carried on regardless. Around 150 people, including crash survivors and victims' relatives were in court. Many of those killed were women traders on their way to market. (BBC News, UK, 21 August 2002)

* Namibia. Rare impala threatened by conservationists - The endangered black-faced impala of Namibia are facing extinction because of misguided conservation efforts, zoologists have warned. The sub-species -- found only in northern Namibia and southern Angola, and numbering some 3,200 -- is under threat after the short-sighted introduction of common impala into commercial game reserves around Etosha, one of Africa's biggest game parks. In Namibia, the black-faced impala narrowly escaped extinction during the liberation war of the 1970s, when they were poached by warring forces from South Africa and the South West African People's Organisation in Koakaland. The soldiers shot everything and their poaching might have reduced the sub-species' population from tens of thousands. Far-sighted government conservationists moved 260 of the black-faced impala to Etosha, one of the world's top game parks covering 22,270 sq km in northern Namibia which, despite being mostly arid, teems with game. Tammie Matson, an Australian zoologist who has studied the black impala for two years, said: "They thrived here in five populations that have today grown to between 1,500 and 2,000." The sub-species also exists in limited numbers outside the park and in private reserves, where small populations were moved from Etosha to increase their range and abundance. A black-faced impala costs up to Nam$9,000 while a common impala costs only about a ninth of this sum. The problem is that impala move easily through game fences and black-faced impala have begun breeding with common impala imported from South Africa and the Caprivi Strip. (The Independent, UK, 15 August 2002)

* Nigeria. Oil firm angry at Nigerian protest - The oil company Chevron has reacted angrily to the invasion of one of its oil platforms in Nigeria by a group of around 30 members of a local community, many of them women. During a series of similar incidents in the area in recent weeks, protesters have been demanding jobs and development assistance for the surrounding villages. But a statement issued by Chevron has made it clear that a generous deal was struck just last week with other nearby communities. It says Chevron is not responsible for the livelihoods of these latest protesters as well. The protesters arrived in boats and took over this latest platform in the swamps of the Niger Delta without resistance. Chevron had already evacuated its staff and shut down production so as to prevent what it described as a potential hostage situation. It is the latest in a series of protests over the past few weeks, largely by women, which have severely disrupted the company's output. Chevron's reaction to this latest incident is a clear measure of their deep frustration. It says these protesters are not entitled to support as they are not from a recognised host community. Only last week, Chevron says, it signed a generous deal with its long-standing community partners in the area, addressing employment and development concerns. Oil companies such as Chevron operating in the Niger Delta find themselves in an impossible situation, largely of their own making. In selecting one community to assist in this way, they create frustrations and jealousies in the others not receiving benefits. (ANB-BIA, Brussels, 18 August 2002)

* Nigeria. Fronde contre Obasanjo - Le 13 août, la Chambre basse du Parlement nigérian a adopté à une écrasante majorité une motion de censure enjoignant au président Obasanjo de se "démettre honorablement" dans les quinze jours, sous peine de destitution, voire de poursuites judiciaires. Les parlementaires -- dont la grande partie appartient au parti présidentiel, le PDP -- ont voté un texte condamnant "les insuffisances, l'inaptitude et le mépris pour les règles de droit" du chef de l'Etat, ainsi que "la corruption évidente pratiquée au sein de la présidence". La présidence nigériane, qui a été prise de court par la fronde des parlementaires, s'est refusée à tout commentaire. -- 16 août. Selon l'agence PANA, une rencontre entre les responsables du PDP et les membres de la Chambre de représentants, pour étudier la menace de mise en accusation du président Obasanjo, n'a pas pu se poursuivre comme prévu le vendredi. Aucune raison officielle n'a été avancée. Le président Obasanjo refuse de démissionner. L'opinion nigériane est divisée sur cette affaire. -- 20 août. Obasanjo, note PANA, bénéficie d'une vague de soutien exceptionnelle, notamment dans son fief du sud-ouest du pays. Les Yoruba, qui ne l'avaient pourtant pas soutenu au cours de sa campagne présidentielle, ont même menacé de faire sécession si jamais M. Obasanjo était invalidé. D'autres réactions, en majorité favorables à Obasanjo, viennent d'organisations de travailleurs et d'étudiants, d'hommes politiques et de membres de la société civile. Le 21 août, pour la seconde fois en l'espace d'une semaine, les militaires nigérians ont réaffirmé leur loyauté à leur commandant en chef, le président Obasanjo. (ANB-BIA, de sources diverses, 21 août 2002)

* Nigeria. Stoning appeal fails - 19 August: An Islamic appeal court has upheld a sentence of death by stoning for adultery against a Nigerian woman. Amina Lawal, 30, was found guilty by a court in Katsina state in March after bearing a child outside marriage. The court's ruling can only serve to heighten tensions between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria. Today's ruling has come as a surprise and human rights groups have promised to take the case to a higher court. They have 30 days to lodge an appeal. This case could now end up in the supreme court in Abuja, where central government has declared such harsh Sharia judgement unconstitutional. The largely-male crowd in the courtroom reacted to the judgement of judge Aliyu Abdullahi with shouts of "Allahu Akbar" (God is great). "We uphold your conviction of death by stoning as prescribed by the Sharia. This judgement will be carried out as soon as your baby is weaned," the judge said, as Amina cradled her eight-month-old daughter Wasila. She was led away in tears. "I'm not happy at all. We thought they were going to discharge her," said Clara Obazele, a spokeswoman for Aisha Ismail, the federal government's minister for women's affairs. "We're going to appeal the judgement." No one has yet been stoned to death for adultery in Nigeria. A woman convicted under very similar circumstances last year won her appeal a few months ago. 20 August: The European Commission expresses concern over the sentence. The Commission says it will lobby the Nigerian government to win a reprieve for Amina Lawal. -- Human Rights Watch says "Nigeria's legal system is being used to punish adult women for consensual sex. The death penalty is never an appropriate punishment for a crime, and, in this instance, the very nature of the crime is in doubt". (ANB-BIA, Brussels, 21 August 2002)

* Nigeria. Lapidation confirmée - Le 19 août, la cour d'appel islamique de Funtua (nord) a confirmé la condamnation à mort par lapidation d'une jeune femme, pour avoir conçu un enfant en dehors du mariage. Suivant le jugement en première instance, le juge a ordonné que Amina Lawal, 30 ans, soit exécutée à partir de 2004, une fois qu'elle aura sevré sa fillette de huit mois. Ses avocats ont annoncé qu'ils déposeront un nouvel appel devant la cour d'appel de la charia de l'Etat de Katsina; en cas d'échec, ils peuvent saisir la Cour suprême nigériane, où l'affaire risque d'entraîner un bras de fer entre les autorités constitutionnelles et religieuses du pays. Amina Lawal avait été condamnée à mort en mars par un tribunal religieux de l'Etat de Katsina, où est appliquée la loi islamique. Si la sentence était appliquée, Amina serait la première Nigériane exécutée par lapidation depuis l'introduction de la charia dans douze Etats du nord du Nigeria ces trois dernières années. - La nouvelle de la condamnation a soulevé un tollé dans le monde. Le 20 août, la Commission européenne a fait part de sa "préoccupation", alors que Javier Solana, représentant de l'UE pour la politique étrangère, a dénoncé le caractère "sadique" du jugement. En France, le ministère des Affaires étrangères a appelé les autorités nigérianes à la "clémence". Human Rights Watch et Amnesty International ont dénoncé la condamnation. Même un conseiller du président nigérian a estimé: "La charia est préjudiciable aux femmes et les punit injustement". (ANB-BIA, de sources diverses, 21 août 2002)

Weekly anb0822.txt - #4/5