Weekly anb11215.txt #7

WEEKLY NEWS ISSUE of: 21-11-2002      PART #5/7

* Liberia. Church strike - 18 November: The Liberia Council of Churches (LCC) has backed a Roman Catholic bishop in his row with an MP from President Charles Taylor's ruling party. Activities at all church-related health and learning institutions throughout the country were seriously disrupted. Sando Johnson, a member of the governing National Patriotic Party, had accused Archbishop Michael Francis of Monrovia of being immoral and involvement in the killings of five Catholic nuns in 1992. The Catholic Church shut down all its institutions on 15 November in protest of the allegations. Students who tested the effectiveness of the strike action, returned home when they found all school doors shut. Education Minister Evelyn Kandakai has described the situation as "unfortunate" but says the ministry alone cannot resolve the matter. Archbishop Michael Francis has often criticised the government of President Charles Taylor, saying it has a poor human rights record. Calling on all Christians across the nation to join the solidarity action, the Liberia Council of Churches said: "The malicious attack on the renowned bishop is tantamount to attacking the body of Christ which is the Church. 19 November: The Catholic Church calls off the strike. The secretary-general of the LCC says President Taylor has promised to resolve the dispute between the Church and state officials. (ANB-BIA, Belgium, 19 November 2002)

* Liberia. Archevêque contre gouvernement - Un bras de fer est en cours entre l'archevêque de Monrovia et le gouvernement. Mgr Michael Francis a ordonné la fermeture de tous les hôpitaux et écoles catholiques du Liberia. Il proteste ainsi contre le parti du président Taylor, qu'il accuse d'être à l'origine de l'assassinat de cinq religieuses en 1992. Solidaires, les Eglises protestantes suivent le mouvement. (La Croix, France, 21 novembre 2002)

* Madagascar/La Réunion. Accord de partenariat - Le 16 novembre à Saint-Denis, les rencontres bilatérales Madagascar-La Réunion se sont achevées par la signature d'une déclaration finale et d'un accord cadre de partenariat entre les deux pays. Les deux parties ont signé une déclaration finale engageant leurs pays sur des pistes proposées lors des deux jours qu'ont duré les rencontres. La coopération envisagée incluera notamment les infrastructures routières, l'équipement, le logement, le domaine de la pêche et l'artisanat touristique. Quelques préalables ont été soulevés afin de faciliter la circulation des personnes et des capitaux. (D'après PANA, Sénégal, 18 novembre 2002)

* Madagascar. "Front du refus" - Des opposants au président Marc Ravalomanana, dont un ancien président de la République, Albert Zafy, et plusieurs dirigeants du parti de l'ex-président Didier Ratsiraka, ont annoncé, dans un communiqué publié au cours du week-end, la création d'un "Front du refus" contre les élections législatives anticipées du 15 décembre. Les signataires du texte appellent "le peuple malgache à ne pas participer à ces élections" et réclament au préalable une "conférence nationale en vue d'une réconciliation nationale". (Le Monde, France, 19 novembre 2002)

* Malawi. Police clash with traders - 14 November: Riot police in Malawi's commercial capital, Blantyre, have used teargas to disperse scores of street vendors who are refusing to move to the city's new market. Blantyre's shopping district came to a stand-still, today, after several hours of running battles between traders and the city authorities backed by armed police officers. The 2,000 street vendors are refusing to enter the newly-built 40-million kwacha ($500,000) flea market, saying it was not built at a strategic location and they would lose business. They also say the market is too small to accommodate all the vendors. The flea market, which was inaugurated earlier this week, is located in the heart of the city but the vendors say they do brisk business selling their wares on the streets and from shop fronts. Blantyre city assembly officials cleared the streets of the vendors and forced them into the market. (ANB-BIA, Belgium, 14 November 2002)

* Malawi. Project to improve agricultural production - An ambitious project hopes to transform drought-hit Malawi into a possible food exporter in the next three years. The Agricultural Input Markets Development (AIMS) project aims to address constraints to sustainable agricultural development and improve smallholder farmers access to seed variants, fertiliser and crop protection products in Malawi. Herschel Weeks, of the International Fertiliser Development Centre (IFDC) said: "It's the most exciting project that I've ever been involved in. It'll have more positive impact maybe more than any other project currently going on in Malawi." IFDC said the project was working to establish a "vibrant private sector-led agricultural-inputs supply and marketing system". This would strengthen the institutional capacity of the government with regard to policy reforms, regulatory system design and implementation, and information collection, analysis and dissemination. "It will develop and implement a program to "marketise" donor-funded input distribution programmes. The project will design and operate a market information system on agricultural input market conditions. The project will provide direct technical assistance to entrepreneurs and bankers through training programmes, workshops and study tours; design and assist in implementation of a regulatory system; and conduct policy analysis to deepen the policy reforms", an IFDC statement said. (IRIN, Kenya, 18 November 2002)

* Mali. Rapatriements de la Côte d'Ivoire - Le Mali a lancé une opération de rapatriement d'une dizaine de milliers de ses ressortissants établis en Côte d'Ivoire, soumis à des exactions et qui voudraient rentrer "volontairement" au pays. Dans un communiqué diffusé le 14 novembre, le gouvernement malien indique que ce rapatriement, d'un coût de 400 millions de FCFA, concerne essentiellement des Maliens de Daloa (ouest de la Côte d'Ivoire). De nombreux Maliens ont déjà commencé à quitter Daloa par la route, transitant par le Ghana et le Burkina Faso. La plupart ont laissé tous leurs biens en Côte d'Ivoire. Selon les estimations, environ 2 millions de Maliens, travaillant le plus souvent dans les plantations de café et de cacao, vivent en Côte d'Ivoire. (ANB-BIA, de sources diverses, 16 novembre 2002)

* Mozambique. Murder trial begins - 18 November: The trial of six men for the murder of a leading Mozambican journalist, Carlos Cardoso, is due to begin in the capital, Maputo, One man was reported two months ago to have escaped from prison and will be tried in his absence. The five other defendants will stand trial inside prison. The authorities say this is for security reasons, but lawyers for the accused are threatening to boycott the trial unless it is moved to a regular court. The murder, and the subsequent investigation, have highlighted the growing corruption in one of Africa's best performing economies. Carlos Cardoso dominated the small world of Mozambican journalism, and led the struggle for press freedom as Mozambique abandoned Marxism and became a multi-party democracy. A courageous reporter, he was investigating banking scandals two years ago when he was gunned down on a Maputo street. 20 November: President Chissano urges judges to carry on as normal in the trial which has linked his son to Carlos Cardoso's killing. (ANB-BIA, Belgium, 20 November 2002)

* Namibia. Halting diamond licences - 15 November: Namibia is planning to change the way it hands out diamond licences because people are using them as a way to "get rich quick". The Namibian newspaper reported that the government would stop giving the licences to formerly disadvantaged people after it was found that many were selling their concessions to rich investors. The minister of mines and energy Dr Nickey Iyambo said: "I'm not entirely happy with the way the previously disadvantaged are going about with EPLs (exclusive prospecting licences)". He said that because many previously disadvantaged Namibians did not have money they were selling their licences to rich people who would offer them "one million dollars or half a million". (ANB-BIA, Belgium, 15 November 2002)

* Nigeria. 25-year timetable - 14 November: The Nigerian Government has announced plans to modernise and expand its ageing railway network -- at a cost of $60bn. The plan, which will run over the next 25 years, was unveiled by Transport Minister Ojo Maduekwe. He said 80% of the money would come from both local and foreign investors with the government providing the rest. Nigeria's railways were built by the British over 100 years ago with two lines running from the north of the country to the coastal south. But successive governments have, since independence in 1960, deprived the railways of much needed investment, resulting in lack of capacity and under-use. The announcement comes at a time when rail workers are on strike and have just rejected a government pay offer, vowing instead to continue with their industrial action. (ANB-BIA, Belgium, 14 November 2002)

* Nigeria. Amnesty criticises Nigeria over stoning appeal - On 14 November, Amnesty International criticised Nigeria for failing to set a date for the appeal of a Muslim woman sentenced under Islamic law to death by stoning for bearing a child out of wedlock. The case of Amina Lawal, 31, has provoked international protest and prompted some beauty queens to threaten a boycott of the next month's Miss World pageant in Abuja. In August, Lawal filed an appeal to her conviction but has not yet been given a trial date. The court told Lawal's lawyer it would hear the appeal after Ramadan ends next month. President Olusegun Obasanjo promised in October that the country's higher appeal court would quash death-by-stoning sentences for adultery passed by Islamic sharia courts. But Amnesty criticised the government for failing to take more concrete steps. "Despite reassurances by President Obasanjo, the government is still failing to take effective measures to ensure that the new sharia penal legislation is in line with the Nigerian constitution," the group said. "The federal government seems to deliberately deliver two contradictory speeches for internal and international audiences," Amnesty said. (CNN, USA, 14 November 2002)

* Nigeria. Party rights - The Nigerian government has warned that new political parties have no automatic right to compete in landmark elections next year, even though the supreme court has quashed laws used to bar more than 20 organisations from the polls. Kanu Godwin Agabi, justice minister, said the government was comfortable with the idea of more parties but added that electoral regulators had the right to redraw rules declared null and void by the supreme court last week. His comments are likely to add to the controversy over party access to the elections. (Financial Times, UK, 15 November 2002)

* Nigeria. Rolling out the red carpet for Miss World - The Nigerian climate is not gentle. Carefully coiffured hair is difficult to maintain in the clawing humidity, and temperatures in the high 30s are a severe challenge for the make-up artist. But, somehow, few of the newly arrived beauty queens on the tarmac of Abuja airport last week looked anything less than immaculate. The promoters of Miss World have chosen to bring this year's contest to the tropical and malarial rain forest belt of west Africa, and the Nigerian authorities are falling over themselves with delight. "Welcome to Nigeria, welcome to God's own country," beamed the information minister, Jerry Gana. The contestants, sitting patiently in rows of chairs on the tarmac, clapped their manicured hands and smiled brightly back as live television brought this publicity coup into Nigerian homes. Just a few miles down the road, at the house of her lawyer, another woman sat quietly on the grass. She is 31, her name is Amina Lawal and, for the crime of adultery, she has been sentenced to death by stoning. Already she has lost one appeal, but remains composed about her plight. "I believe in the justice of God," she said, her head shrouded. "If justice is not done to me on earth, it will be done in the life after. We are all mortal." (...) Amina is not alone: there are at least three other stoning convictions awaiting appeal. But Nigeria's junior foreign minister, Dubem Onyia, shouted above the music of the airport welcome ceremony: "No one has ever been stoned to death in this country. The sentence will never be carried out, because the constitution does not allow it." Much to Nigeria's dismay, the controversy over Amina had threatened to disrupt the pageant. But only a handful of Miss World contestants have stayed away. (...) (Independent, UK, 17 November 2002)

* Nigeria. Miss Monde: journal incendié - Le 20 novembre, des musulmans en colère ont incendié les locaux d'un quotidien après la parution d'un article laissant entendre que le prophète Mahomet aurait très bien pu épouser l'une des participantes du prochain concours Miss World qui se déroulera le 8 décembre à Abuja, la capitale nigériane. Les bureaux du journal This Day à Kaduna (nord) ont été dévastés par l'incendie. Par chance, personne ne se trouvait à l'intérieur. L'Oumma musulmane du Nigeria, un groupe rassemblant des oulémas, a demandé au président Obasanjo d'annuler la cérémonie et de "sanctionner" le quotidien. "Personne ne peut dire ce qui arrivera" si le concours est maintenu, a-t-il menacé. (AP, 20 novembre 2002)

* Nigeria. Islamists riot over Miss World report - 20 November: Muslim radicals have burnt down the premises of a newspaper in the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna after it published an article referring to the Prophet Mohammed in a report on the Miss World contest, which is currently taking place in Nigeria. Hundreds of people chanting "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) attacked the Kaduna office of the Lagos-based newspaper This Day on the second day of demonstrations sparked by the report. Correspondents say Kaduna state is regarded as one of Nigeria's most volatile regions because of its large Christian as well as Muslim population. The riot started after the paper published an article on 16 November which said that the Prophet Mohammed would have married one of the beauty queens. The fire brigade has put down the fire in This Day's offices, but in Kaduna the atmosphere is chaotic. (ANB-BIA, Belgium, 20 November 2002)

Weekly anb1121.txt - #5/7