Weekly anb0626_5.txt #6

WEEKLY NEWS ISSUE of: 26-06-2003      PART #5/6

* Nigeria. Nigeria's free newspaper club - How would you like to read all daily newspapers without having to pay a penny for them? The idea may be inconceivable in many countries, but not on many of Nigeria's busy street corners. A group of Nigerians who call themselves members of the Free Readers Association Nigerians have found a way of reading newspapers from vendors for free. The association says those who cannot afford to purchase a newspaper can just turn up at a vendors and read all the daily local and international papers and magazines. It is not a registered company but it "meets the needs of its customers to their satisfaction" as I found out in Suleja, a satellite town of the Nigerian capital, Abuja on one busy morning as people rush to work in the city centre. As the bus conductors tout for passengers in one corner, so the newspaper vendor attends to his customers in another. On his table are a wide range of Nigerian newspapers and magazines. But the strange thing is, most of the customers are not buying the papers. They are just standing there and reading them. "Sometimes we read the papers freely and if we give the vendor five naira (two cents) we gather all the information nationally and internationally", says a young man. (BBC News, UK, 19 June 2003)

* Nigeria. Shell opens its books on Nigeria - Shell has bowed to pressure from Britain's prime minister, Tony Blair and human rights campaigners by publishing details of payments made to the Nigerian government, which amounted to $900 million last year. The information is included in a new report on its operations in Nigeria, which also shows the Anglo-Dutch company produced 15.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gases. The 2002 financial details -- included for the first time in such a report -- are attributed to various petroleum taxes and other "levies". The 2001 figure was even higher at $1.2 billion. (The Guardian, UK, 20 June 2003)

* Nigeria. Le prix du pétrole - Le 19 juin, le président Olusegun Obasanjo a créé un organisme chargé de fixer le prix du pétrole, afin de mettre fin à la pénurie chronique d'essence qui affecte le plus grand exportateur de pétrole d'Afrique. Au cours de la cérémonie inaugurant l'Agence de régulation des produits pétroliers, le président, qui vient d'être réélu, a déclaré qu'il espérait assister un jour à la dérégulation pleine et entière du marché du pétrole. - Le gouvernement a décidé une hausse des prix des produits pétroliers, le kérosène passant de 24 à 38 nairas et le diesel de 26 à 38 nairas (1 dollar = environ 125 nairas). Le vendredi 20 juin, l'Association des transporteurs routiers a réagi vivement à cette hausse, en demandant à ses membres d'observer à partir de lundi une grève en guise de protestation. La Confédération des travailleurs et l'Association nationale des étudiants ont également condamné cette hausse. Le président Obasanjo a affirmé que le gouvernement ne pouvait se permetttre de continuer à subventionner annuellement les produits pétroliers à hauteur de 250 milliards de nairas, soutenant que cet argent pourrait être utilisé dans d'autres secteurs de l'économie nationale. (ANB-BIA), de sources diverses, 21 juin 2003)

* Nigeria. Firm blamed for oil blast - 22 June: Angry villagers have hit out at Nigeria's state oil company after an explosion on a vandalised pipeline killed 105 people. A village chief, Charles Onoha, said the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) failed to repair the ruptured line, which exploded on 19 June in the worst accident of its kind in nearly three years. "We begged NNPC to stop the spillage, but they did nothing," Onoha said. "They should be held responsible for this disaster." But the company says it only became aware of the leakage after the explosion, though it is thought the pipe was deliberately ruptured by looters more than two weeks before the blast. People were reportedly siphoning oil when the explosion was ignited by a spark from a passing motorcycle in the village of Amaokwe Oghughe, about 50 km north of the Abia State capital, Umuahia. (ANB-BIA, Belgium, 22 June 2003)

* Nigeria. Explosion d'un oléoduc: 105 morts - Au moins 105 villageois ont été tués et de nombreux blessés au Nigeria dans l'explosion d'un oléoduc. Selon le président de la Croix-Rouge nigériane, on s'attend à "bien plus de morts", de nombreux blessés étant grièvement atteints. L'explosion s'est produite le jeudi 19 juin, non loin d'Ovim, dans l'Etat d'Abia (sud-est), alors que les villageois récupéraient de l'essence s'échappant d'un oléoduc vandalisé. Il avait commencé à fuir il y a six semaines environ. Selon le quotidien This Day, les habitants avaient demandé à des responsables de colmater la fuite, mais la police avait au contraire institué un droit d'entrée de 100 nairas (environ 70 centimes d'euros) par personne désirant se rendre sur le site. Au début, l'oléoduc transportait du pétrole lampant, puis du gasoil, mais ensuite de l'essence. Quand l'essence, beaucoup plus volatile et plus chère, a commencé à s'échapper du conduit, une importante foule s'est rendue sur la zone pour tenter de remplir jerrycans et bouteilles... (ANB-BIA, de sources diverses, 23 juin 2003)

* Nigeria. Shadow of unrest - Nigeria is facing the threat of industrial and social unrest after the government raised petrol prices by more than 50 per cent in response to a supply problem causing long fuel queues and crippling the economy. The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the country's umbrella trade union body, condemned the increase and said it would meet this week to consider protests that could ultimately include a general strike. The dispute reflects the country's history of mismanagement and corruption and is seen as a key test for Olusegun Obasanjo, the recently re-elected president. "The NLC has already asked the government to withdraw the increase," said Owei Lakemfa, NLC assistant secretary-general. "The government in power cannot behave like a conquering army. We can call the Nigerian people out for a closure of the country. Anything can happen -- the truth is the Nigerian people are not happy." Petrol shortages have long been a source of frustration to Nigerian consumers and businesses, who ask how one of the world's top 10 oil exporting countries can fail to supply its own people. Fuel queues went into abeyance during Mr Obasanjo's first term but returned to embarrass the government in the run-up to April's presidential and parliamentary polls. The government, which makes more than 90 per cent of its export earnings from oil, offers in effect a fuel subsidy by selling crude oil for domestic processing at a discount to world market prices and by importing refined fuel to sell on to consumers at a loss. Economists say part of the problem is the inefficiencies of the four domestic refineries, which are due for privatisation after being allowed to deteriorate by corrupt officials. (Financial Times, UK, 23 June 2003)

* Nigeria. Archbishop in conflict with Canterbury - 19 June: The leader of the biggest church in the worldwide Anglican Communion deepens the crisis over homosexuality when he threatens to split with the Church of England if it proceeds with the consecration of its first gay bishop. Archbishop Peter Akinola, leader of the 17.5 million-strong church in Nigeria, who has declared homosexuality to be an abomination, warns he will precipitate a schism if Canon Jeffrey John becomes suffragan bishop of Reading (UK). Archbishop Akinola's outburst represents an extraordinary interference in the affairs of a national church by a primate of another country and comes despite an assurance from Canon John that, although he remains in a 27-year partnership, he is now celibate. Archbishop Akinola tells BBC radio: "We claim we are Bible-loving Christians. We cannot seen to be doing things clearly outside the boundaries allowable by the Bible. This is only the beginning. We would sever relationships with anybody, anywhere...anyone who strays over the boundaries we are out with them. It is as simple as that." 22 June: The Reverend Canon Akin Johnson of the Cathedral Church of Christ, Lagos, says in a sermon, that homosexuality has become an additional serious problem which must be rooted from the church of God. A female worshipper at the Cathedral says: "Homosexuality is an abomination. How can two men marry? It is against the Bible and it is against religion. They should not have appointed him at all". Another member says: "These white people, they are very different. They are very funny. They have their own reasons for doing these things which are not African at all. We should not copy them". A male member of the congregation says: "I believe it is not right and if there is no reconciliation on the matter, the Church of Nigeria has every right to consider what is best for it, even if it means breaking up". 23 June: The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams makes a plea for tolerance and reflection among his fellow bishops and the evangelicals who have threatened to divide the worldwide Anglican Communion. 24 June: Bishop Cyril Okoracha from Owerri Diocese, eastern Nigeria, says Dr. William's failure to oppose Dr. John's selection, means he is walking away from the majority of the world's Anglicans. (ANB-BIA, Belgium, 24 June 2003)

* Nigeria. Slow start for election case - 24 June: A court case against the election victory of Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo is continuing in the capital, Abuja. Four opposition parties are challenging Mr Obasanjo's victory in April's presidential elections. The hearing, which started on 23 June, is still bogged down in legal arguments. The opposition parties allege that Mr Obasanjo's re-election was secured through fraud and violence. They want the election results nullified. Both Nigerian and international observers found that the election was marred by rigging, particularly in parts of the south and east. After the 23 June hearing, supporters of Muhammadu Buhari and the All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP) demonstrated on the streets of Abuja. (ANB-BIA, Belgium, 24 June 2003)

* Rwanda. Former PM goes home - 20 June: Former Rwandan Prime Minister Faustin Twagiramungu, is on his way home after eight years in exile in Belgium. He has been living in Belgium since 1995, a year after the genocide in Rwanda. He expected a "very sad homecoming", he said. He announced last week that he will stand in the country's presidential election due later this year. Presidential and parliamentary elections, set for September, were announced after Rwandans voted overwhelmingly in a referendum last month to approve a draft constitution. (ANB-BIA, Belgium, 20 June 2003)

* Rwanda. Twagiramungu arrivé à Kigali - Le 20 juin, le plus connu des opposants rwandais, l'ex-Premier ministre Faustin Twagiramungu est arrivé à Kigali, où il entend déposer sa candidature aux élections présidentielles annoncées. Celles-ci, ainsi que les législatives, doivent se tenir dans les six mois suivant le référendum constitutionnel du 26 mai. On attend également les lois électorales et sur les partis, pour savoir dans quelles conditions se tiendront les campagnes électorales. -- Le lundi 23 juin, le Parlement a adopté la loi sur les partis qui régit la création et les activités des partis politiques. La loi interdit notamment aux organisations politiques de "s'identifier à une race, une ethnie, un clan, une région, un sexe, une religion ou tout autre élément pouvant servir de base à discrimination". La loi électorale, préparant les scrutins présidentiel et législatif, devait être adoptée le mardi, mais le mercredi soir la discussion se prolongeait toujours au Parlement. (ANB-BIA, de sources diverses, 25 juin 2003)

* Sénégal. Expulsion de Français - Le 19 juin, le Sénégal a annoncé que les Français en situation irrégulière seraient désormais expulsés comme les Sénégalais sans papiers en France. "Ce sera charter contre charter", se réjouissait la presse de Dakar. Cette annonce intervient après une rencontre, le 13 juin à Paris, entre le Premier ministre Idrissa Seck et le ministre français de l'Intérieur, Nicolas Sarkozy. Dans un communiqué commun, il était prévu de "procéder, à une date qui sera précisée ultérieurement, au rapatriement de ressortissants français en situation irrégulière au Sénégal". En mars et avril, le "rapatriement" de plus de 120 Sénégalais avait provoqué des réactions indignées au Sénégal. Une quinzaine de Français qui purgent des peines de prison pour divers délits, allant de la consommation de cannabis au meurtre, pourraient être concernés par une mesure d'expulsion. (Le Figaro, France, 21 juin 2003)

* Sierra Leone/UE. Accord de coopération - L'Union européenne et la Sierra Leone ont signé un accord de coopération d'un montant de 220 millions d'euros pour la période allant de 2003 à 2007, a-t-on appris le 25 juin de source officielle à Bruxelles. Selon un communiqué publié par la Commission européenne, l'objectif principal de cet accord est de soutenir le gouvernement sierra-léonais dans la reconstruction du pays et de l'aider dans sa stratégie de réduction de la pauvreté. (PANA, Sénégal, 25 juin 2003)

* Somalia. Radio education helps Somalis - Some 10,000 Somalis have been taught basic literacy, numeracy and life skills following a successful BBC World Service broadcast. Macallinka Raadiyaha (Radio Teacher), a BBC World Service Trust project, is an education programme designed to help people who signed up for the Somalia Distance Education Literacy Programme, or Somdel. Of the 10,908 people on Somdel, 9,000 passed their final exam. Of those, 70% were women. "The success of Somdel cannot be underestimated given that as a result of civil war, a whole generation of people have been excluded from education," said John Tuckey, the project manager of BBC World Service Trust. He added that the success of Somdel would be of great benefit to the country. "Developing literacy, numeracy and life skills will improve their opportunities for sustainable livelihoods in a country where conflict is endemic," he stressed. "It also demonstrates that radio is a powerful educational tool." (BBC News, UK, 19 June 2003)

* South Africa. Whites face treason trial - 23 June: The first treason trial in South Africa since apartheid ended has got under way, with a group of alleged white supremacists accused of trying to overthrow the government. A total of 22 men thought to belong to the underground racist group "Boeremag" are accused of attacks against government targets. The prosecution argues the men's aim was to kill off the country's majority black population or drive them from South Africa. They are accused of the murder of Claudia Mokone who was killed in one a bomb blast in the black township of Soweto. And prosecutors say they also conspired to kill Nelson Mandela by blowing up a car transporting the former president to a public event. The group faces 42 charges, including high treason, murder, attempted murder, terrorism and the illegal possession of weapons. Six of the men have entered not guilty pleas, two are to plead at a later date while another man refused to enter a plea. But 13 of the men have decided to challenge the court's jurisdiction. (ANB-BIA, Belgium, 23 June 2003)

* Afrique du Sud. Siège du Parlement panafricain? - L'Afrique du Sud a fait un pas supplémentaire dans sa tentative d'abriter le siège du Parlement panafricain, avec l'annonce, le 25 juin, de la convocation la semaine prochaine au Cap d'une réunion de parlemantaires africains pour discuter de cette question. Pretoria s'est déjà assuré du soutien de l'ensemble des pays de la Communauté de développement de l'Afrique australe (SADC). Le Parlement panafricain devrait être l'organe législatif de l'Union africaine et le garant des valeurs démocratiques. (PANA, Sénégal, 25 juin 2003)

Weekly anb0626.txt #5/6