Weekly ANB0918_01.txt #7

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WEEKLY NEWS ISSUE of: 18-09-2003      PART #1/7

* Africa. Australian hunt for African oil - An Australian consortium has started exploration drilling at the Chinguetti oilfield off the coast of Mauritania, Perth-based company Hardman Resources has announced. The drilling is expected to confirm the presence of 95 million barrels, the company said - a significant find for a small explorer and impoverished country but a relatively small field by international standards. Chinguetti 4-5 is the first of four wells to be drilled this year. The consortium consists of five companies: Hardman, which has a 21.6% stake, Woodside Mauritania (35%), AGIP Mauritania (35%), Fusion Oil & Gas (6%) and Rock Oil (2.4%). Hardman managing director Ted Ellyard said results from the drilling would be available next week. Meanwhile, Hardman is also due to begin oil exploration on Lake Albert in Uganda this month. "Hardman should have started their seismic studies in April but the boat they had was not good enough. But now they have a better boat and within the month they should have started their seismic studies," head of oil exploration at Uganda's energy ministry Reuben Kashambuzi said. He said Hardman was first licensed to explore for oil in Uganda in 1997 but pulled out three years later because of a drop in world oil prices. It returned when prices stabilised and was relicensed in October 2001. Australian oil companies are showing increasing interest in African oil, say experts. "They tend to be small companies involved in high risk exploration -- if they're successful a major would usually be offered stakes in their operations," said Paul Gamble from the Economist Intelligence Unit. (BBC News, UK, 5 September 2003)

* Afrique. La conférence de Cancun - 10 septembre. La 5ème conférence ministérielle de l'Organisation mondiale du commerce (OMC) se déroule du 10 au 14 septembre à Cancun (Mexique). Le premier jour a été marqué par l'issue tragique d'une manifestation, où un Coréen en 54 ans, Lee Kyang Hee, président de la Fédération des pêcheurs de Corée, s'est suicidé par hara-kiri. En ce début de conférence, les négociations sont bloquées en particulier par le "groupe des 21" pays du Sud, qui proposent un mécanisme de sauvegarde protégeant les productions agricoles du Sud contre la concurrence déloyale des Etats-Unis et de l'Union européenne. La méfiance des pays pauvres s'est exacerbée encore par le choix des présidents des groupes de travail; le pilotage des trois sujets les plus brûlants a été confié à des pays favorables aux thèses des nations industrialisées. -- 14 septembre. Au dernier jour de la conférence, les ministres, profondément divisés, s'efforçaient toujours de rapprocher les points de vue afin de trouver un accord. Mais finalement, la conférence de Cancun s'est conclue sur un échec, les pays riches et les pays pauvres n'étant pas parvenus à surmonter leurs profondes divisions sur des dossiers allant de l'agriculture aux nouvelles réglementations du commerce. L'agriculture a été la principale pierre d'achoppement, mais l'échec a été concrétisé par le refus des pays en développement de discuter de nouvelles règles visant à réduire la bureaucratie qui freine de commerce. Ces règles seront coûteuses à appliquer et elles réduiront la marge de manoeuvre des pays en matière de politique économique, ont estimé les pays en développement. Les responsables de l'OMC ont déclaré qu'ils se réuniraient à Genève, une fois que les tensions seraient retombées, afin de voir s'il est possible de préparer une conférence spéciale en décembre. Mais il sera très difficile de parvenir à un accord d'ici à la date butoir de fin 2004, pour la conclusion d'un accord sur la levée des barrières commerciales. L'échec de la conférence illustre en tous cas l'influence croissante des pays en développement qui représentent les trois-quarts des membres de l'OMC. Les délégués de nombreux pays pauvres ont célébré ce qu'ils ont qualifié de victoire contre l'Occident. Une victoire amère... (ANB-BIA, de sources diverses, 15 septembre 2003)

* Africa. WTO meeting collapses - 10 September: The World Trade Organisation (WTO) Summit in Cancun, Mexico, opens with stern words from the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, read on his behalf. "We are told that free trade brings opportunities for all people, not just a fortunate few. Sadly, the reality of the international trading system today doesn't match the rhetoric". Mexico's President Vicente Fox formally opens the Summit. He says: "We can no longer allow well-being to be limited to a few nations. We can no longer risk continuing in a world marred by exclusion and injustice; we can no longer postpone the battle against poverty and marginalization". An example of the current situation is presented by four poor African cotton-producing countries, Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali, who are asking that subsidies given by rich countries to their cotton farmers should be phased out. The USA hopes to persuade the Africans to drop their demands in return for promises of US investment in their budding textile industries and a pledge of support for a sectoral market-opening package in the WTO negotiations. This would apply not only to cotton but to man-made fibres, textiles and clothing as well. However, the US proposals meet a cool reception from the four African nations. 11 September: More than 70 developing countries announce their refusal to go ahead with WTO negotiations on investment and other new issues. The EU and Japan have made negotiations on investment, competition rules, transparency in government procurement and trade facilitation a central demand at the Cancun meeting. The 70 developing countries are represented at the talks by a group of 16 nations including Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Jamaica, Indonesia, Nigeria, the Philippines, Tanzania and Venezuela. -- The ministers gathered at Cancun approve the adhesion of Cambodia and Nepal to the WTO. 12 September: Leading trade powers warn that the meeting risks failure unless countries immediately abandon entrenched positions and hold serious negotiations over the next two days. Senior US and European officials step up accusations that progress is being blocked by a newly-formed coalition of more than 20 developing countries led by Brazil, India, China and South Africa. Another deep rift has opened over proposals for WTO investment rules since the 70 developing countries led by Malaysia, flatly refused this week to allow negotiations on the issue to go ahead. 14 September: The world trade talks in Mexico collapse amid serious differences between the rich and poor nations. After four days of wrangling, there is deadlock over proposed new rules on how countries treat foreign investors, on competition policy and trade procedures. These proposals are seen by many developing countries as a diversion from the main issue -- their demand that farm subsidies in the European Union and the United States should be eliminated. The US trade representative at the talks, Robert Zoellick, says the collapse has been caused by too many delegates pontificating, rather than negotiating. "The differences were very wide, and it was impossible to close the gap," says Kenyan delegate George Odour Ongwen. There is to be another conference in December to assess how dialogue can resume. Recriminations came quickly. Ugandan delegate Yasphal Tondon says: "The blame for the collapse must go to the Western countries, because they insisted on putting their issues first." 15 September: Rich countries have expressed their regret at the failure of the Cancun global trade talks, with many calling for reform at the WTO. The WTO's cumbersome structure, with 146 member governments and a decision-making system based on reaching consensus, made failure inevitable, many are now arguing. But in the developing world, where a united front formed to oppose American and European trade policies, many commentators have welcomed the collapse in Cancun. Some governments of poor countries are concerned that it may be years before they gain access to markets in the rich world. But most have said the unprecedented consensus among large developing economies can only be healthy. The main tone among post-Cancun comments is, however, gloomy. The summit was not the final chance to hammer out a global trade deal, but was a major stepping-stone on the Doha round of global trade negotiations, launched in November 2001. The plan had been to reach a deal -- satisfying the sharply polarised views of rich and poor countries -- by the end of next year. After Cancun, many say that target is now unrealistic. (ANB-BIA, Belgium, 15 September 2003)

* Africa. Action against the Media - Botswana: On 16 September, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) reported that on 6 September, the paramount chief of the Batawana tribe, Tawana Moremi, physically attacked Booster Galesekegwe, a photojournalist from the weekly Mmegi newspaper, and broke his camera. Moremi also attacked Kagiso Sekokonyane, acting editor of Mmegi Monitor, Mmegi's sister newspaper. Burundi: On 16 September, MISNA reported that Burundi's independent media has protested against the shutting-down on 13 September of Radio Insanganiro, a private radio station in Bujumbura. The following day, MISNA said that another radio station has met the same fate -- Radio Publique Africaine. Central Afr. Rep.: In a 10 September letter to President Bozizé, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said: "At the start of your government's "National Dialogue," which opens today and runs through to September 20 and is aimed at reconciling the Central African Republic after years of war, the CPJ writes to respectfully remind you of the many challenges facing Central African media, in the hope that they may be addressed at this forum. This is especially important in light of Your Excellency's plans, according to local and international press, to have a new constitution drafted and approved by 2005. The CPJ is deeply concerned about the state of press freedom in the Central African Republic. One journalist, Michel Ngokpele, publication director of the privately owned French-language daily Le Quotidien de Bangui, is languishing in prison after receiving a six-month sentence on June 26 for defamation and "inciting ethnic hatred," both deemed offenses under the Central African Republic's Press Law". South Africa: On 16 September, MISA said that on 2 September, a camera operator from e-tv, a commercial station, was assaulted and a colleague of his was threatened in an allegedly racial attack in upmarket Sandton, Johannesburg. Lensman Shabani Ramenu and producer Debbie Meyer were accosted while on assignment for the current affairs series "Third Degree". Sudan: On 16 September, Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) called for the immediate reappearance of the Khartoum Monitor. The paper's publishing licence was cancelled on 12 July, but on appeal, this decision was cancelled and the National Press Council said it could reappear. However, it failed to come out on 13 September as planned, after pressure by the government prosecutor in charge of subversion blocked it under article 130 of the Code of Criminal Procedure until investigation of the case was complete. Zimbabwe: On 12 September, the BBC reported that police in Zimbabwe have shut down the offices of the country's only private newspaper, the Daily News, a day after a court ruled that it was operating illegally. One of the newspaper's publishers, Francis Mdlongwa, said that staff had been ordered out of the building in the capital, Harare, and the paper closed. Correspondents say it is not clear if the closure of the Daily News -- which is highly critical of President Robert Mugabe -- is intended to be permanent. On 11 September, Zimbabwe's Supreme Court had said that the newspaper was operating illegally because it had refused to register with the state Media and Information Commission (MIC), as required by the county's tough media law. On 15 September, the Daily News filed an application to register with the MIC. However, the MIC's chairperson says the Daily News will stay closed indefinitely even if the newspaper registers with his commission. The following day, police raided the newspaper's offices and started confiscating equipment. (ANB-BIA, Belgium, 16 September 2003)

* Africa. African Union chairman sworn in - 16 September: The former president of Mali, Alpha Oumar Konare, takes over as chairman of the African Union (AU). Today, Mr Konare formally replaces AU interim chairman Amara Essy at a ceremony in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, where the organisation is based. Mr Konare says the AU will strive to help mobilize the continent's resources for development. (ANB-BIA, Belgium, 16 September 2003)

* Afrique. Konaré à la tête de l'UA - Le 16 septembre à Addis Abeba, le président par intérim de la commission de l'Union africaine (UA), Amary Essy, a officiellement cédé la place à l'ancien président malien Alpha Oumar Konaré, à la tête de l'exécutif de l'UA. M. Konaré avait été élu le 10 juillet dernier à la présidence de la commission, l'exécutif de l'Union africaine. Lors de la cérémonie de passation de pouvoir, M. Konaré a promis de rendre l'organisation plus accessible et plus transparente, et il a souligné l'importance capitale que revêt le maintien de la paix et de la sécurité dans tous les Etats membres, parmi d'autres défis à relever par l'organisation panafricaine. (ANB-BIA, de sources diverses, 17 septembre 2003)

* Africa. UN studies AIDS impact on Africa - 17 September: The United Nations is launching an initiative to deal with the threat that HIV/AIDS poses to African states, where 70% of the world's HIV positive people live. The Commission on HIV Aids and Governance in Africa will come up with policy recommendations that deal with the overall impact of the virus on society and not just its impact on people's health. The United Nations now says it is no longer good enough to think of AIDS solely as a health issue. This new commission will look at what happens to a society when a large portion of the population is HIV positive. Simply put, how will children learn when the teachers are dying at a faster rate than they are being trained? Who will look after the sick when many of the experienced doctors and nurses have died? Nearly 30 million people are living with HIV in Africa and their premature deaths may rob the continent of vital skills. The 20 commissioners, many drawn from leadership positions across Africa, will be appealing to the continent's heads of state to help them realise that HIV threatens the stability of their country. Over the next two years, the commission -- to be launched officially in Addis Ababa, today, -- will develop an accurate picture of the impact of AIDS. (ANB-BIA, Belgium, 17 September 2003)

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