26 January 2006

Africa: Pambazuka News 239: Haiti: Human Rights Abuses and Implications for the African Diaspora

The Authoritative Electronic Weekly Newsletter And Platform For Social Justice In Africa

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1. Highlights from this issue,

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3. Comment and Analysis,

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7. African Union Monitor,

8. Conflict and Emergencies,

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27. Books and Arts

1. Highlights from this issue

Featured this week

EDITORIAL: Haiti: A coup regime, human rights abuses and the hidden hand of Washington


- Africa and the WSF: From Bamako 2006 to Nairobi 2007

- Ugandan aid cuts: Good riddance to 'phantom' aid

- Open source: Changing the rules of the game

LETTERS: Debating the new diaspora

BLOGGING AFRICA: African blogs discuss claims that same sex marriages are "Unafrican"

PAN-AFRICAN POSTCARD: Morales: "Long live cocoa, no to the Yankees"

AFRICAN UNION MONITOR: AU survives crucial test in week of high drama

CONFLICTS AND EMERGENCIES: News snippets on Sudan, DRC, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia and Nigeria

HUMAN RIGHTS: Nomination process for African court slammed for lack of transparency

REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: UNHCR welcomes release of more Sudanese in Egypt

ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: Nigeria - the state of democracy

WOMEN AND GENDER: Mozambique ratifies Protocol on women's rights

DEVELOPMENT: The worrisome state of the microcredit movement

CORRUPTION: Chad Assembly urges tough stance in World Bank row

HEALTH AND HIV/AIDS: Caution urged in removal of user fees

MEDIA: Cardosa killer sent to jail in Mozambique

PLUS Advocacy and campaigns, Internet and Technology, Courses, Seminars and Workshops, Jobs and Books and Art.

Pambazuka News launches French edition

Pambazuka News, the newsletter and website with a focus on social justice issues in Africa, recently nominated by PoliticsOnline and the 6th Worldwide Forum on Electronic Democracy as one of the top ten websites internationally "who are changing the world of internet and politics", is to begin publishing of a French language version of it highly popular electronic newsletter on January 31, 2006.

"The newsletter has succeeded in creating a pan-African community, uniting people working in human rights, conflict prevention, health, social welfare, environment and social justice right across the region," said Kenyan Director of Fahamu and Editor of Pambazuka News, Firoze Manji. "But there is a significant and unfortunate gap between those working in English-speaking and French-speaking countries, and we intend to bridge that gap through producing a French language version of Pambazuka News. ... But publishing in these languages is only the first step," he said. "In the longer term we want to publish an Arabic edition, and then look at other African languages such as Kiswahili."

Existing Pambazuka News subscribers are asked to:

- Inform Pambazuka News if they, as existing subscribers, would also

like to receive the French version of the newsletter by sending an email

to frencheditor@pambazuka.org with 'subscribe French edition' in the subject line and their full name in the body of the email.

- Inform French colleagues, networks, family and friends that they can subscribe to the upcoming French version of the newsletter by sending an email to frencheditor@pambazuka.org with 'subscribe French edition' in the subject line.

Watch out for more information in subsequent editions!

Click on the link to read the full press release.

Further details: http://www.pambazuka.org/index.php?id=31579

2. Editorial

Haiti: A coup regime, human rights abuses and the hidden hand of Washington

Ben Terrall

Ben Terrall examines Haiti's coup regime, human rights abuses, the sham of planned elections and the complicity of Washington on a military and diplomatic level. It's a situation that important implications for the African diaspora. As Fr.Jean-Juste, Haitian activist for justice and human rights, is quoted as saying: "It is time for peace, justice, and greater love, particularly among us, various branches of the African Diaspora in America. Can the day come when all of us African descendants in the Americas join together for mutual concerns, unity, and greater solidarity among us in this native continent of ours? Then can we come together in even stronger solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Africa, our grandmother continent?"

In a June 2005 Jamaica Observer column about the significance of the Haitian revolution, John Maxwell wrote, "the slaves of Saint Dominique, the world's richest colony, rose up, abolished slavery and chased the slavemasters away." Maxwell, one of the more astute journalists covering US foreign policy, added, "Unfortunately for them, they did not chase all of the slavemasters away, and out of the spawn of those arose in Haiti a small group of rich, light-skinned people - the elites, whose interests have fitted perfectly into the interests of the racists in the United States. Between them, last year, on the second centenary of the abolition of slavery and the Independence of Haiti, those interests engineered the re-inslavement of Haiti, kidnapping and expelling the president and installing in his place a gang of murderous thugs, killers, rapists and con-men."

Vehement opponents of Jean-Bertrand Aristide's Lavalas party, the Bush Administration helped orchestrate the February 2004 coup which ousted the democratically-elected government of Haiti. Among other pro-poor social programs, the Aristide/Lavalas government's doubling of the minimum wage was anathema to Washington's "free trade" corporate agenda.

Maxwell argues, "the now rampant neo-facist apologists for so-called neo-liberalism are in direct line of moral descent from those who petitioned Pope Nicholas V in 1454 to sanction the slave trade between Portugal and Africa in the new world created by the neo-liberal counter-revolution, the rights of workers and the poor are being taken away, they are getting poorer and the richer are getting richer and less accountable. In Africa, that means that hundreds of children die every day from starvation or gastroenteritis because their governments cannot afford to train or pay doctors or to provide clean drinking water."

The dividing lines resulting from such blatant economic warfare on the world's poor have created solidarity among the poorest countries such that the African Union and the CARICOM countries have refused to buckle under Bush Administration pressure to recognize the current coup regime in Haiti.

To its everlasting discredit, in 2004 the UN sent troops to Haiti when a U.S. marine occupation became politically untenable. In effect, this international presence, consisting of soldiers from more than twenty countries, comprises an occupation force that legitimizes the current coup regime and controls dissidents unwilling to accept the new status quo. And, as a Chilean officer told me in Cap Hatien in December 2004, the troops are "trained as soldiers, so it is very hard for us to not react in a military fashion."

A Haitian activist I spoke to who identifies himself as a member of Lavalas told me that one useful thing the UN has done in Haiti is to bring in health care. Unfortunately, he noted sardonically, the treatment only comes after UN troops shoot civilians.

In too many cases, those civilians do not survive. In September, I spoke to witnesses to an unprovoked attack on the poor neighborhood of Bel Air in which Brazilian troops killed several unarmed residents on June 29, including a man in a wheelchair who had the top of his head blown off. Neighbours present at the scene told me the young man was confident he would be safe in front of his residence during the raid, since he was clearly handicapped and unarmed.

On July 6, UN forces perpetrated a well-documented massacre of women, men and children in the Cite Soleil section of Port-au-Prince, killing at least 23 people. During a July 8 interview with U.S. human rights activist Seth Donnelly, UN commanders Lt. General Augusto Heleno Ribiero Pereira and Colonel Jacques Morneau claimed that they were unaware of any civilian casualties and characterized the operation as a success. Colonel Morneau suggested that bodies viewed by investigators could have been killed by "gangs" and blamed on MINUSTAH (United Nations Stabilization Mission In Haiti) forces. The commanders stated that MINUSTAH did use a helicopter during this operation for logistical coordination, but that soldiers in the helicopter did not shoot into the community.

Among the Haitians I spoke to in September was a seven-months pregnant woman who was shot while standing outside her Cite Soleil residence by UN troops during the July 6 raid. Despite the heroic efforts of Doctors Without Borders, she later lost her baby.

On the morning of July 6, the woman saw flashes of light coming from a helicopter directly overhead before she felt a stinging in her stomach and realized she'd been shot. Photographs taken by investigators show bullet holes in ceilings of tin shacks, suggesting that they were fired on from above.

A nonviolent Haitian activist I interviewed explained, "I see this situation as very close to what happened in Rwanda, there is a legitimacy of hatred, we hear in the media that everything that goes wrong is the fault of one party they describe all Lavalas as enemies of the country. The rich keep calling on the UN to crack down harder, calling all people in the popular neighborhoods 'bandits'. After the July 6 UN massacre in Cite Soleil, the rich said 'good job'. When 10,20, or 30 people are killed in popular neighborhoods, the wealthy applaud. They pretend that all people in those neighborhoods are 'bandits'. It's clear that people in those neighborhoods are pro-Lavalas, but not all are armed. People in those neighborhoods start to feel that people outside are enemies. A real process of reconciliation would have to involve all, with no exclusion, and would have to look seriously at what the needs are in poor neighborhoods."

Unfortunately the current government seems only interested in dealing with the poorest neighborhoods with military force. Given its cuts to social programs put in place by President Aristide's Lavalas administration, and the extreme increases in prices of rice and other staples, the dire situation now faced by the poor majority is unlikely to improve in the foreseeable future.

While political prisoners jailed for their association with Lavalas continued to rot in jail, former anti-Lavalas death squad leader Jodel Chamblain was released in 2005, after a retrial Amnesty International called "an insult to justice." I interviewed prisoners in Haiti's jails in December 2004 and July and September, 2005. Numerous incarcerated individuals told me they were arrested for openly supporting Aristide.

In the southwestern town of Aquin, Luc Jean Lamour described his situation to me from the cell he has little hope of leaving under the current government. On November 9, 2004, police conducting a sweep arrested Lamour. He was charged with arson, but at his first hearing witnesses didn't accuse him of that. Since a police officer testified he didn't see Lamour at the site of the alleged fire, his lawyer argued for release. But in a second hearing Lamour's lawyer was away in Port au Prince, and Lamour was convicted and given a life sentence. Lamour pointed out that the case against him didn't focus on arson, but instead stressed his political background as a Lavalas activist. Lamour asked, "The witnesses didn't say anything directly against me. There was no evidence at all, why was I convicted for life?" The young man is in a cell with 8 other prisoners, most of whom sleep on sheets on the ground. As with many other prisoners I spoke to, he complained that their drinking water is terrible and that even shower water is not clean, as the cistern holding it is not cleaned or ventilated.

Amnesty International has named Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste, a veteran campaigner for justice and human rights in the US and Haiti, a "prisoner of conscience" and called for his unconditional release. The nonviolent activist priest, who has been held on trumped-up charges for five months, was recently diagnosed with a form of leukemia that progresses slowly but can develop into a more virulent strain of cancer.

Sasha Kramer of the Haiti Action Committee visited Fr. Jean-Juste in December. Kramer said, "The Haitian government claims their doctors have found nothing wrong with Jean-Juste, but the coup regime has absolutely no credibility. The Bush Administration could easily pressure the Latortue government, which it helped put in place, to release Jean-Juste." Kramer noted that in 2005 a US court called conditions in a Haitian prison "reminiscent of a slave ship".

On December 16, Congresswoman Maxine Waters and 41 other members of the US House of Representatives wrote President Bush calling for Fr.Jean-Juste's release. The priest responded to the Waters and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus by writing, "Your call for my immediate release brings me the holiday season's hope. It is time for peace, justice, and greater love, particularly among us, various branches of the African Diaspora in America. Can the day come when all of us African descendants in the Americas join together for mutual concerns, unity, and greater solidarity among us in

this native continent of ours? Then can we come together in even stronger solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Africa, our grandmother continent?

These are my wishes for this holidays season."

When I interviewed Father Jean-Juste in Port-au-Prince's main penitentiary in July 2004, he commented on elections the US, France and Canada is financing in Haiti: "We hope they will accept the conditions offered by Fanmi Lavalas, and include everyone in the exile community, Haitian Americans, the diaspora in general, and as many Haitians as possible within and outside Haiti. Let's recognize Aristide as our elected President and work on a return program to facilitate passage of power, free all political prisoners, respect human rights of everyone in this country."

In a July 2004 press statement, The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti commented, "Fr. Jean-Juste's arrest is well timed to silence the Interim Haitian Government's (IGH) most prominent opponent in the lead up to the elections. Fr. Jean-Juste has insisted that there can be no fair campaigning or voting while hundreds of political prisoners fill the jails and police regularly open fire on legal anti-government demonstrations. Most Haitians agree with him: less than two weeks before the end of the registration process on August 9, less than 15% of eligible voters have even registered. Many of those who have registered stated that they did so because registration is required for the national identity card and that they have no intention to vote."

In mid-November, presidential elections, which had already been postponed five times, were set for January 8. In a November press statement, Rep. Maxine Waters observed, "The Provisional Electoral Council has yet to hire hundreds of regional election supervisors, provide identification cards to three million registered voters, identify polling locations, or begin recruiting 40,000 poll workers to conduct the elections. One cannot help but wonder how many of these technical problems are the result of simple incompetence and how many are part of a deliberate effort to disenfranchise thousands of Haitians, especially those most likely to vote for Lavalas, the only political party with widespread support among the poor. Cite Soleil, a Lavalas stronghold with an impoverished population of 300,000, had no registration sites at all until after the September 30 registration deadline had passed."

At press time, in early January, the elections have been delayed yet again.

In a memorandum signed by a group of Lavalas leaders including Mario Dupuy, Angelo Bell and Maryse Narcisse, the party asked its supporters to abstain from participation in the next elections so as not to run the risk of being assassinated. Meanwhile, candidates openly running for President include Guy Philippe, a leader of paramilitaries who drove the Aristide government from office and, according to the DEA and US Embassy, closely linked to Haiti's booming drug trans shipment trade; and Franck Romain, a veteran of the notoriously bloodthirsty regimes of "Papa Doc" and "Baby Doc" Duvalier.

In a brief stopover in Port-au-Prince on September 27, Condoleeza Rice staged a photo-op at a voter registration center which National Public Radio described as "carefully scripted". Rice intoned, "throughout history people have fought for the right to vote, some have indeed died for the right to vote. There is no more powerful weapon in the hands of a citizen...and so to the people of Haiti I urge you to use that powerful weapon, the vote, in the days ahead."

The irony of Rice, a key backer of the coup government that replaced a democracy with a death-squad kleptocracy, lecturing Haitians on the importance of the ballot box is stunning.

As Waters points out, "No matter what the date of the elections, the people of Haiti cannot be expected to take them seriously as long as voters are afraid to go to the polls and viable candidates are kept off the ballots and in the prisons. The repeated election delays and continuing technical problems of the Provisional Electoral Council are only the most recent evidence that the interim government of Haiti is incapable of organizing free and fair elections."

Juan Gabriel Valdès, head of UN operations in Haiti, announced on August 9 that the UN forces are determined to stand in the way of all who seek to exclude Haitians from the electoral process. But UN officials have done little to pressure the illegal coup regime (which by its presence the UN occupation legitimizes) to release political prisoners or to stop its attacks on civilians.

Instead, as a March 2005 report from Harvard Law School noted: "MINUSTAH has provided cover for abuses committed by the HNP (Haitian Police) during operations in poor, historically tense Port-au-Prince neighborhoods such as Bel-Air, La Saline, and lower Delmas. Rather than advising and instructing the police in best practices, and monitoring their missteps, MINUSTAH has been the midwife of their abuses. In essence, MINUSTAH has provided to the HNP the very implements of repression."

When Aristide was president and his besieged administration struggled to support the interests of the country's poor majority, the Bush Administration did everything it could to undermine the Lavalas agenda (for a detailed overview of that history see the Haiti Action Committee pamphlet "The US War Against Haiti: Hidden From the Headlines" at www.haitiaction.net). Today, as the coup regime imprisons and slaughters pro-democracy activists, it continues to receive military, diplomatic and political support from Washington.

A July 23 AP report quoted coup regime Prime Minister Gerard Latortue as saying, "I know that the only topic on which this government will be judged is its capacity to organize fair and representative elections."

But as President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the National Representative of Fanmi Lavalas, recently asked, "In 1994, who could have expected free, fair and democratic elections in South Africa with Nelson Mandela, Govan Mbeki, Oliver Tambo and other leaders and members of the African National Congress in jail, exile or in hiding?"

* Ben Terrall is an activist and works with the Haiti Relief Fund, which is an extremely low-overhead operation that gets money to people in desperate need and can be accessed at www.haitiaction.net.

* Please send comments to editor@pambazuka.org

* Half-Hour for Haiti: Enough is Enough, Release Fr. Gerry Now

Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste, the Haitian priest and political prisoner who is suffering from potentially fatal leukemia, remains in jail. However, various efforts are underway in the struggle to release him. For more information visit the website of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti at www.ijdh.org.

Two cases are taking place:

1) Last week the Institute for Justice & Democracy (IJDH) and the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) filed a Petition with the Inter-American Commission On Human Rights (http://www.ijdh.org/articles/article_iachr_j immy_charles.htm) against the Interim Haitian Government and Brazil on behalf of Jimmy Charles, a grassroots activist arrested by UN Peacekeepers and executed in Haitian National Police custody on January 13, 2005.

2) On January 19, lawyers throughout the US filed motions to stop all deportations to Haiti (http://www.ijdh.org/articles/article_Haitian _Deportations.htm) , because of the country's disastrous human rights situation.

There has been a lot of activity on Fr. Gerry's case in the last week. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, (R-FL) wrote to Secretary of State Rice (http://www.ijdh.org/Ros-Lehtinen%20Letter%20 Jean-Juste.pdf) asking her to intervene to obtain Fr. Jean-Juste's release. Human Rights First called on Haiti's Minister of Justice (http://www.humanrightsfirst.info/pdf/06123-h rd-jean-juste-ltr.pdf) to do the same thing. Prof. Bill Quigley, Bishop Thomas Gumbleton and others visited Fr. Jean-Juste in Haiti, and issued an Action Alert (http://www.ijdh.org/articles/article_recent_ news_1-24-06.htm) .

The judge who had been holding Fr. Gerry since July 21, issued two documents called "ordonnances" on Thursday, January 19. The ordonnances confirmed that there was no basis for the allegations that had been made publicly against Fr. Gerry: that he was involved in the July 2005 kidnapping and murder of Jacques Roche, the killing of two police officers in the fall of 2004, or a plot against the state. Judge Paul dismissed all those charges.

But Judge Paul added two new charges: illegal weapons possession and association de malfaiteurs (criminal conspiracy). These charges are equally without legal or factual foundation. They are based on Fr. Gerry's employment as a chaplain at the National Palace under Haiti's ousted constitutional government. His position entitled him to five security guards, who were issued a total of three pistols and two shotguns by the government. The ordonnance charges Fr. Gerry with illegal arms possession, even though there is no evidence that the security guards lack a valid license, that their employment has been terminated, that the National Palace authorities have asked for the guns back or that the guns were involved in any illegal activity.

If the ordonnance stands, Fr. Gerry would have to go to trial before a single judge. He would not have a jury. He could be convicted if the government proves that either a) he did not return the five weapons, or b) that he refused to name his five security guards, both of which he concedes. As the ordonnance is written, the prosecutor would not need to prove that the guns are illegal or that anyone engaged in or planned any illegal activity.

Conviction on the conspiracy charge could mean a sentence of forced labor for 3-15 years, and would cost Fr. Gerry many civil and political rights, including the right to run for almost any elected office. Conviction could also prevent Fr. Gerry from being admitted to the U.S. for cancer treatment.

The IGH has refused to release Fr. Gerry for leukemia treatment, insisting that he must accept its deal of a trial on the defective ordonnance with the hope of a pardon. Accepting this deal would require Fr. Gerry to trust the IGH, which has pursued him for 15 months on charges it now admits were baseless, to fulfill its promise of a pardon.

Help save Fr. Gerry's Life: Two weeks we sent an appeal asking people to write to Thomas Shannon, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. Subsequently Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Patrick Duddy traveled to Haiti and helped arrange the independent medical examination that confirmed the leukemia diagnosis. Please contact Mr. Shannon again, thank him for his past efforts but urge him to take the steps necessary for Fr. Gerry's release. A sample letter is below, feel free to modify it. Sec. Shannon's telephone number is: 1-202-647-5780, his fax is 1-202-647-0791. You can try emailing to shannonta@state.gov, but we have not been able to confirm that address.

Via Facsimile No. 1-202-647-0791

Thomas A. Shannon

Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs

U.S. Department of State 2201 C Street NW Washington, DC 20520

Re: Haitian Political Prisoner Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste

Dear Assistant Secretary Shannon:

Thank you for your efforts on behalf of Haitian political prisoner Fr. Jean-Juste. The State Department's intervention was vital in assuring the January 10 independent medical evaluation that confirmed the leukemia diagnosis. On January 19, the Interim Haitian Government (IGH) released judicial orders confirming that the stated justifications for Father Jean-Juste's eight months of detention- accusations of the murder of two police officers and journalist Jacques Roche and a plot against state security, were baseless. In fact, the Commissaire du gouvernement,or public prosecutor, concluded in one order that "the investigation does not reveal the participation of Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste in any criminal enterprise" (emphasis supplied).

Unfortunately, those developments have not led to any leukemia treatment. The Commissaire du gouvernement,has refused to exercise his authority to provisionally release Fr. Jean-Juste for medical treatment. This authority is based on his responsibility to assure the health of prisoners, is independent of the case's procedural status, and is routinely exercised in Haiti. Fr. Jean-Juste, who wants to clear his name in a fair trial and has appeared at court or the police station every time he has been summoned, has promised to return from abroad if he is provisionally released.

The government is now insisting that Fr. Jean-Juste stand trial on two new charges, illegal weapons possession and association de malfaiteurs (criminal conspiracy), before he receives treatment. These charges are without legal or factual foundation, and neither alleges any underlying criminal acts. Fr. Gerry's lawyer has appealed the charges because they are legally defective and expose his client to a great injustice with severe consequences. Conviction could expose Fr. Gerry to fifteen years hard labor, permanent loss of civil rights, including the right to hold elective office, and potential exclusion from the U.S. and its cancer treatment facilities.

The IGH and U.S. Embassy staff implored Fr. Jean-Juste's attorney not to file an appeal, and the IGH is pressuring him to withdraw it. The IGH and the U.S. Embassy official stated that it would be quicker for Fr. Jean-Juste to go to trial, and proposed that the Haitian government could pardon Fr. Jean-Juste if he was convicted.

There is no justification for forcing a defendant to stand trial on a defective but serious accusation as a precondition of receiving treatment for a deadly disease. The IGH should process Fr. Jean-Juste's case promptly, with full respect for his procedural rights. In the meantime, it should release him immediately for treatment.

The new charges and the pressure to drop the appeal are the latest in a 15-month long persistent persecution of Fr. Jean-Juste. In all that time the IGH has yet to present evidence of a single illegal act. It is now time for the United States to take action commensurate to that persecution. I urge you to immediately revoke all U.S. entry visas for IGH officials involved in the persecution, including Commissaire du gouvernement Erman Alce, Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, and Minister of Justice Henri D'Orleans. I also urge you to immediately suspend disbursement of all financial and other assistance to the IGH, until Fr. Jean-Juste is released for life-saving treatment.

3. Comment and Analysis

Africa and the WSF: From Bamako 2006 to Nairobi 2007

Organisers hailed the first phase of the World Social Forum (WSF), which ended on Monday in the Malian capital of Bamako, as having created an "Afrocentric" focus that was missing in previous forums. Quoted by IPS, coordinator Mamadou Goita said: "This is the first time we have had a majority of Africans attending a WSF. Usually there have been less than 100 African NGOs (non-governmental organisations) at any of the other WSFs. It was too expensive for most Africans to travel to Porto Alegre or Mumbai." But after nearly six years, where has the WSF come to? Pambazuka News provides questions and answers about the movement that seeks to challenge corporate globalisation.

1. The WSF has been around since 2001. Where is it now and what happened this year?

The World Social Forum changed its format this year. Instead of one centralized meeting (which until now have been held alternatively in Mumbai, India and Porto Alegre, Brazil), several polycentric events took place. Caracas, Venezuela; Bamako, Mali and Karachi, Pakistan will all host the WSF in January, 2006.

This has been an important progression in the history of the forum, as it serves to expand access to the forum by making it easier for activists and civil society players to participate. The forum thus claims to "offer to progressive forces in Africa a very first opportunity, following to the huge range of popular resistances during the nineties, to significantly set their fights and their alternatives in a global seeking of the construction of a fair world with more solidarity and respectful of People's sovereignty."

The goal of the WSF is not to produce agreements on specific policy positions but to offer a space for dialogue and engagement, with resources to strategise, network and plan joint ventures for the future. It has been successful in creating a loose network of forces around the world who advocate for social, political and economic justice. It has often been called an "anti-globalisation" movement, but is in fact one of the most globalised movements in the history of social justice.

The movement has been criticised, however, as simply a popularized gathering of wealthy NGOs and funders. Past forums have also been dominated by certain interests, leading to debates about whether the WSF represents revolutionaries or reformists. The WSF is anti-globalisation, anti-war, etc. This has also been criticised, leaving many people to question the process of the WSF which is characterised by endless debate and pose questions such as: What is the WSF for? What solutions does the WSF offer? How can the movement move forward, rather than simply critiquing social, political and economic problems as they exist? Further criticisms of the forum focus on the lack of structure or organisational support - whether it be the complicated and often non-functioning website, poor planning at the actual event or the need for more support for participants.

2. There seems to be a lot of criticism over its form, structure and decision making. What does this involve?

The WSF is popularly characterized by a reputation of embodying a complex and confusing decision making process. In order to preserve the plural and open consensus style that is the mandate of the forum, the goal of creating a bottom-up, grassroots event is often planned in an extremely heavy handed, top down manner. Some critics argue that the WSF is not transparent or accountable, let alone democratic and that their Charter of Principles, size, lack of resources and goals of planning massive events make organizing unmanageable. The numerous organisations and individuals involved also offer competing views and ideas, adding to the layers of difficulty in planning such an event.

3. What were the focus areas in Bamako this year?

Each year the WSF appoints thematic areas. This year, in Bamako, 10 were chosen. Topics included war and militarisation, security and peace; globalised neoliberalism; aggression against peasantry; the alliance between patriarchal and neo-liberal systems; culture, media and communication; destruction of ecosystems, biological diversity and resources control; international order and the role of the UN; international trade, debt and economic and social policies; social fights, human rights, social organisations and political rights; alternatives. The areas to be discussed are meant to be kept quite loose, and can be kept extremely localised or made to be more general depending on the needs of the participants.

4. What does the WSF mean for Africa?

Africa will commemorate the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in 2007 and the 50th anniversary of the independence of Ghana. It's also a year in which the World Social Forum will be hosed in Nairobi, Kenya, so the Bamako forum offers the potential for the WSF to entrench itself in Africa ahead of 2007. Malian author and social activist Dr Aminata Dramane Traoré has pointed out that the polycentric organisation of the forum is the first step in the process of rooting the WSF in Africa and mobilizing those people on the continent who have been hardest hit by globalization (http://www.ipsterraviva.net/tv/wsf2006/views tory.asp?idnews=442) In the same interview, she went on to say: "Holding the WSF in Africa will increase African awareness as far as the link between poverty and globalisation is concerned. Also, Africans will feel more connected to the process than if it were being held elsewhere." The Bamako Forum has also provided the space for groups from ar ound Africa to articulate their concerns, with the Ogoni people from Nigeria and the Yaaku community in Kenya reported to have made their case in Bamako (http://www.ipsterraviva.net/tv/wsf2006/views tory.asp?idnews=476) , and sessions dedicating to discussing the issue of land bringing together groups from around the continent (http://www.nu.ac.za/ccs/default.asp?2,40,5,925).

5. What global solutions is the WSF generating?

The WSF attracts thousands of people from across the world who work in many different areas and have diverse outlooks, not only about the problems that the world faces, but also in their beliefs about how these problems should be tackled. This has made the articulation of united policy positions difficult and therefore led to frustration in some quarters that while there is a great deal of marching, singing and slogan shouting, nothing much seems to come out of the effort (http://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization-w orld/wsf_3211.jsp) . Certainly, after six years of existence, its possible to detect a degree of cynicism from veteran WSF travelers that they've heard the same speeches a number of times before. Moreover, while the forums have provided an area for meeting and debate, there's no discernable change to a world where neo-liberalism runs riot and poverty deepens by the day. Before this year's forum there were calls from the likes of Civicus Secretary General Kumi Nai doo for "different civil society actors to find common ground, engage in joint strategising, and plan joint activities for the future" (http://www.ipsterraviva.net/tv/wsf2006/views tory.asp?idnews=462) . But, says founders of the forum, this is not what the forum was intended for in the first place. "The primary purpose of the forum is to create a space for free dialogue between social movements, and that its openness should not be compromised by confining participants to any narrow statement of intent," says Chico Whitaker in an article on www.opendemocracy.net

6. Who Funds the WSF?

It's very difficult to determine who pays for the WSF: The website cites no sponsors, and it is hard to find any organisations or funding bodies highlighting their role as sponsors. The WSF charter is silent regarding what kinds of international sources of funding may be tapped. The registration fees are minimal. All organisations participating in the WSF are asked to contribute towards a translation solidarity fund, which is intended to help cover the WSF's translation budget.

There is some mention of a funding policy for the WSF held in India, such as the limit of Rs. 25 lakhs limit per donor being raised to Rs. 50 lakhs for WSF 2004. The WSF India website also mentions plans to approach state, local administration, authorities and public bodies to providing facilities free or at subsidised rates and to hold cultural events "with discretion" to raise funds. According to the WSF Charter as adopted in India, the WSF can seek funds from Indian industry and commerce.

Although it appears from the WSF India website that some foreign funding would be raised and managed, Kukke and Shah (http://www.samarmagazine.org/archive/article .php?id=148) claim that a decision was taken not to accept foreign funds, and that all funding needs would be "addressed by the local organisations that had come together to host the event".

7. Are grassroots organisations represented?

The question of grassroots representation is quite closely tied with those around funding. Organisations working on the ground are usually far more cash-strapped than those that network, train, research or sponsor them, and the former usually (hopefully) spend their money largely on meeting the direct needs of their beneficiaries. Several private foundations did manage to sponsor representatives of grassroots women's organisations to attend the events in Bamako, enabling many to make voices heard that are frequently absent in international 'jamborees'.

Sending representatives to WSF meetings is thus only possible with sponsorship, and again, it is difficult to find information about where to go about applying for travel and accommodation grants. This, together with the fact that air travel within Africa is often prohibitively expensive, leaves grassroots organisations based in the country where the WSF is held. However, the relationships between Northern NGOs and African movements are seldom balanced. According to Njoke Njehu: "Governments tend to listen first to the IFI's and to international NGO's before they listen to their own civil society." (http://www.nigd.org/docs/WSFICHolland2005Pol ycentricWSF2006)

* Compiled by Karoline Kemp and Patrick Burnett, Fahamu and Joy Olivier, Fahamu volunteer

* Please send comments to editor@pambazuka.org

Further Links

World Social Forum

www.worldsocialforum.org, www.wsf2006.org

Mali Social Forum




IPS Coverage: http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=31822

Trade Coverage


Centre for Civil Society


WSF Youth Conference


Ugandan aid cuts: Good riddance to 'phantom' aid

Julius Kapwepwe Mishambi

Julius Kapwepwe Mishambi, Programme Officer for the Uganda Debt Network, a civil society organization campaigning on debt relief issues, comments on the current trend of reduced donor funding for the Ugandan government's budget support programme. In his analysis he criticises donor aid pointing out some of the negative effects of the donor dependency syndrome, and proposes that Africa needs to explore alternatives for independence from donor aid.

One would be mesmerised, looking at the aid cut trends for Uganda by some of the country's long time funding partners. Countries and institutions that have been instrumental to Uganda's budget support have recently reduced their funding by millions of US dollars. The estimates at the end of 2005 are as follows: Ireland and Norway- 4 million each, Sweden - 8 million, the World Bank - 15million and the United Kingdom - 35 million.

Since the late 1990s, the Government of Uganda and donors agreed to a budget support programme captured in Uganda's Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper; the Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP). Holding other factors constant, an aid cut means the programmes will be starved of resources. My major concern in this regard is the implication of this for the social sectors of health and education.

We ought to recall here that Uganda was one of the beneficiaries of debt relief under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. This programme was engineered by the Bretton Woods Institutions - the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and The World Bank. The initiative was a response to the embarrassment occasioned by the outcomes of the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) advocated by these twin cheat institutions for developing economies, particularly in Africa and Latin America. HIPC was also viewed as a response to the heat of the global call, under the Jubilee debt cancellation campaign, for the end to the killer debt burden borne by the developing economies of the world.

So, what was the original intention of aid support of the 1990s in Uganda, at least at face value? Was it aimed at beefing up Uganda's savings of debt relief resources for anti-poverty efforts, as reflected in the national policy objectives of Primary Health Care (PHC) and Universal Primary Education (UPE) programmes and other sub-programmes in the war against poverty?

To my mother in rural Kumi district in Uganda, and those in the Zambezi region of Zambia and Ruvuma in Tanzania, the anti-poverty programmes have been of direct help, to a certain degree. Consequently, the no-flow of drugs to health centres due to the aid cut makes those categories of people the primary losers. Cutting this type of aid is criminal, defeats morality and such international goals as contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Ironically, the same masters of aid espouse these ideals, at least at face value.

On the contrary, I would argue that aid cuts could be justified for a different category - the expatriate donor community - the type characterized by huge salaries, residential mansions in prime locations in the recipient countries and first class air travellers. The meagre trickle down effects of these expatriate expenditures in our country's economy cannot compensate for the losses occasioned by the resultant dependency syndrome created by the western world.

The talk of aid cuts is an opportunity for Africa. Africans ought to explore how Kenya has moved on for the past few years with neither aid nor loans from the World Bank. Government securities (bonds and treasury bills) contribute about 6% to the country's national budget, with the rest accruing from the Kenya government's own, generated revenues. The government has continued to fund its industrial growth. Africans should opt for frugality so that public expenditure is optimal. For example, Uganda's expenditure could rhyme with PEAP priority areas, already elaborated upon and jointly updated periodically by the national and local governments, faith-based and civil society organizations, academia and research institutions, individual pressure and interest groups in Uganda, etc. Is it not possible to acquire an affordable yet comfortable car for a government official whose work is over 80% city based? Does a spokesperson for the government need a 4000cc vehicle to ably articula te government positions at a weekly press briefing? How about invoking government standing orders, which provide that government vehicles should only do government business, to reduce the cost of fleet maintenance? Indeed, does a president require 20 armoured cars for his/her security?

Surely, aid conditionality has been an obstacle to decision-making of African countries. The Structural Adjustment Programmes (especially privatisation and liberalization) attest to this. In Uganda for example, the lack of hydropower dams on various suitable sites along river Nile has been a domain of aid influence. As a result, companies in Uganda continue to spend huge sums of money on announcing the schedule for load shedding. These sums should instead be expended on inviting the public to witness the opening of new power sources and resources.

Aid was used to perpetuate the tyranny of the Bath Party led by Saddam Hussein in Iraq and kuku wazabanga Mobutu in former Zaire, for decades. It served to suffocate the interests and human rights of ordinary citizens. But the governance issues that donors have raised should not simply be wished away but squarely addressed. The issues are part and parcel of Africa's socio-economic and political development aspirations.

* Julius Kapwepwe Mishambi is Programme Officer for the Uganda Debt Network

* Please send comments to editor@pambazuka.org

Ugandan software conference: Changing the rules of the game

Becky Faith

The event Africa Source II, focusing on Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) took place between January 8-15, in Kalangala, Uganda. The event specialised in hands on skills development for the Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) sector, bringing together over 120 NGO support professionals, staff and software experts. Becky Faith reports on how participants learnt about using FOSS to increase vital access to information and provide inexpensive and efficient ICT infrastructure.

"When the rules of the game change we have an opportunity to change our circumstances." With these words Mark Shuttleworth, open source advocate and Afronaut, addressed the 140 participants at Africa Source 2 which was held in a beautiful location at Kalangala, on Uganda's Ssese Islands.

The event was intended to provide NGO activists, educators and technologists space to get hands on experience with Free and Open Source Software, but the participatory and enabling environment meant that participants returned home with more than a handful of free CDs.

The three tracks of 'Migration for Education and Resource Centers', 'Migration for Non Profit Sector' and 'Information Handling and Advocacy' showed how participants from these sectors might use open source tools. What was revelatory was not only the fact that the everyday tools we might use for our work have robust free alternatives but that each and every one of us have skills and experiences that are useful for us to share.

In the information handling track some time was spent exploring collaborative software. An introduction to Wiki's showed how they might be easily set up through sites like http://www.wikispaces.com/ and prove valuable in an educational context. Content management systems (http://www.socialsource.org.uk/pmwiki.php/Is suesAndResources/ContentManagement) were demoed and compared as well as tools for the use of SMS in activism and human rights monitoring such as Txtmob (http://www.txtmob.com/) and Asterisk (http://www.voip-info.org/wiki/). Activists from Egypt discussed the importance of blogging in recent political campaigns (http://www.manalaa.net/egblogs) and how RSS feeds (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSS_%28file_format%29) were a vital tool in mobilising participation.

Other sessions saw the concepts of open knowledge explored in greater depth. An introduction to copyright and the creative commons movement (http://www.commons-sense.org/) showed how the burgeoning digital commons can benefit Africa and how adoption of creative commons licenses (http://creativecommons.org/license/) can actually be a smart business model.

Yet computers can only serve to empower communities if they are adapted for local needs. Africa Source provided an opportunity for the localisation (http://translate.org.za/, http://translate.or.ug/) of popular software such as Open Office and showed how others might go about localising into their language.

The empowerment of disabled computer users was also addressed. Arun Mehta called for help for the visually challenged from geeks - (http://wiki.africasource2.tacticaltech.org/p ost/main/02mAzpaeWZNprwBC) . He would like to see open source screenreaders to help blind and illiterate computer users - the proprietary Windows software costs in the region of $900.

Throughout Africa Source 2 participants were encouraged to offer their skills and experiences to benefit others. Most technical environments offer a strict division between 'techies' (usually male) and non techies, yet the atmosphere at Kalangala encouraged those with any skills or experience to share them with the group.

Africa Source 2 also saw major progress in the development of the African Linux Chix community. Women from Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Nigeria, Malawi, Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Senegal, Uganda, Sierra Leone and Guinea, and Egypt got together to discuss how they might advocate for open source amongst women. Mentoring for school-age girls to get them to consider information technology as a career was seen as a top priority. The openness of the FOSS community was seen as a great opportunity for learning and participation by women. To join the mailing lists in English and French visit the site at http://www.africalinuxchix.org/.

* Becky Faith is Fahamu's production manager.

* Please send comments to editor@pambazuka.org

Website links:



4. Letters

Kudos to the Doc

Oluwatoyin Ade-Odutola

I just wanted to send kudos to a true child of Africa, Doctor TJ Abdul-Raheem, the General-Secretary of the Pan African Movement, Kampala (Uganda) and Co-Director of Justice Africa. He is one of the very few clear-headed thinkers of our time. I agree with him Africa will rise again.

Masascre of Sudanese refugees in Cairo

Susan Mutura

This is terrible. Why would the world turn its back on such atrocities. Surely God will not let the culprits get away with it. Shame on the Egyptian government and the UNHCR for failing to take action when it was necessary.

The new diaspora

I am an African American and I read your article with interest. I see myself as a Pan-Africanist and am very interested in seeing the relationships between Africans and African Americans progress. For purposes of further research and from the perspective of an African American, you should know that one of the chief differences between Africans and African Americans is the tendency for Africans to "soft peddle" the issue of institutionalized slavery as it was practiced in North America.

I don't know whether this stems from some sense of guilt for African complicity in the slave trade or something else unknown to me, but African Americans sense it. For instance, in your article, on two separate occasions you used the term "came, via the trans Atlantic slave trade." I believe the correct and true term is "brought, via the trans Atlantic slave trade."

Now, some may think that this concern is "nit-picking," but the "new" African Americans are coming of their own choice, motivated and desirious of being a part of the American Experience. The desendants of those Africans that were "brought" here have worked, bled and died in making this new coming easier for those arriving today.

I encourage you to continue your research in this area and hopefully I have added in a small measure to the discussion.

5. Blogging Africa

African blogs discuss claims that same sex marriages are "Unafrican"

Sokari Ekine

Musings of a Naijaman - Musings of a Naijaman (http://uknaija.blogspot.com/2006/01/nigeria- anthropologythe-pull-of-water.html) thinks about his love for anthropology and considers contemporary Nigeria a great subject for an anthropologist.

"How for instance do the same people who profess a rigid and unbending religious fundamentalism square it with their illicit sexual escapades, stealing government money, bending the rules, flamboyance and conspicuous consumption in the face of grinding poverty".

He also recommends reading the Granta Africa edition with "stories and articles by Chimamanda Adichie (an excerpt from her forthcoming novel, Half of A Yellow Sun), Helon Habila, BinyavangaWainaina with his searing, witty How to Write About Africa".

AfroHomo - AfroHomo (http://afrohomo.blogspot.com/2006/01/politic s-yup-i-cant-get-married-now.html) comments on the proposed Nigerian law which will ban same sex marriage and also criminalise campaigning around the issue. He decides to "air some dirty laundry".

"In a country whose agricultural and petroleum treasures have birthed horrendous poverty and inequality; where babies sleep under rat-infested bridges with gigantic garbage dumps serving as their chief protection from the elements; where an entire ecosystem of lush mangrove in the Delta region have turned into dark wells of liquid poison because of unchecked environmental pollution; where roads are so bad, people install metal cages beneath their cars to prevent accelerated damage; where the tax-collection system is so broken, only corporations pay taxes and when they do, they only pay a fraction of what's required by law; where it's normal to have electricity for just 2 hours a day; where 1% of neighbourhoods have running water for a couple of hours each month and others don't know what running water is; in this country, a ban on gay marriage reflects more than just misplaced priorities - it reflects the government's appalling disconnection with reality and basic common sens e."

He goes on to criticise Archbishop Akinola, the head of the Nigerian Anglican church, who thinks: "homosexuality is 'Unnatural and Unafrican'".

"How would he know? Christianity only became a mainstream religion a few decades ago. Does he find universities, electricity, monogamy and his fancy Archbishop costume "Unafrican" too? What about its sister religion, Islam? African or Unafrican? I'll let the history books judge. Be assured that he'll hate the verdict too."

Black Looks - Black Looks (http://okrasoup.typepad.com/black_looks/2006 /01/gay_rights_bann.html) also covers the banning of same sex marriages. The post provokes considerable discussion on the subject with comments like:

"I totally support the new law banning same sex marriage. We must uphold our traditions and culture and not continue to take up every decadent new fad from the morally bankrupt west."

"I would refer the last commentator (Ben) to the book Boy Wives and Female Husbands to explore whether it is really true that no African society tolerated homosexuality If we want to proscribe certain things we should be clear about why we are doing it, and not hide under the convenient triteness that it is against our culture."

"Never! Never!! Never!!! I support, like the majority of Nigerians do, the recent ban on Sodomy, Gay or whatever you call it. It is against our culture. It is against our God. It is against nature. It is despicable. It is an abomination. Homophobic or no homophobic, it will never be permitted in Nigeria, at least not in my life time."

"So sad Both the law and its idiotic bible-quoting supporters. Should the very concept that other people might have private rights be so foreign to our society? No mistake about it: this is a symptom of Nigeria's intellectual and social stagnation."

A number of Nigerian bloggers comment on the recent hostage taking in the Niger Delta.

Chippla's Weblog Chippla (http://chippla.blogspot.com/2006/01/what-oil -has-done.html) believes that the "growth of militant groups in the Niger Delta directly correlates with endemic poverty in the oil producing region". However the long-term solution is not a military one but one that engages in a discussion with the militants.

Nigerian Times - Nigerian Times (http://nigeriantimes.blogspot.com/2006/01/sh ell-asari-dokubo-and-niger-delta.html) echoes Chippla when he states:

"The ignorance of these facts and mercantile conspiracy by the multinational oil companies and corrupt governments in underdeveloped oil producing countries have only aggravated the critical conflicts of interests over the years and the abuse and misuse of power and control of natural resources have been most pronounced in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria."

He goes on to hold the Nigerian government responsible for the hostage taking by their detention of Asara Dokubu. The government has underestimated both Dokubu and his supporters. Nigerian Times quotes an article by Ike Okonta on Asara Dokubu titled "Dokubu and the December Amnesty" published on Black Looks.

"But it is an exercise in foolhardiness to expect Asari Dokubo to give up his guns when Nigerian soldiers and riot police are still firmly in place in the delta, working with the oil companies to enforce the regime of depredation that has reduced the Ijo, Ikwerre, Itsekiri, and all the other oil-bearing communities to a state of near-animal existence. No self-respecting patriot will stand by while aggressors are delivering the death-blow on his people."

Ethiopundit - Ethiopundit (http://ethiopundit.blogspot.com/2006/01/lett er-from-kaliti-jail.html) publishes a letter from Ms Bertukan Mideksa, vice-chairperson of the Coalition for Unity & Democracy Party who is presently in jail. The letter is a powerful act of defiance and courage by the writer which will give hope to those on the outside who are struggling for an Ethiopia of liberty and peace.

"Reports are seeping through the prison walls into my cell that cities and towns all over the country are exploding, furiously burning with the quest for freedom. In schools and colleges people of tender ages are articulating and demanding their liberties with an extraordinary air of confidence and dedication. Priests are dumbstruck when young men approach and ask them to tell and live the truth as God requires. The tormentors couldn't muster up enough courage to face and address these heroic men."

The Big Pharaoh - The Big Pharaoh (http://bigpharaoh.blogspot.com/2005/03/break ing-news-ayman-noor-released-on.html) comments on the release of Ayman Noor, Independent MP in opposition to President Hosni Mubarak. Big Pharaoh attributes his release to two factors.

"First, the Egyptian elite who are not connected to the government were clearly sympathetic towards Noor. They just didn't understand why the government would arrest Noor in particular. They know why Islamists get arrested, but they just cannot comprehend the jailing of someone like Noor. It is worth mentioning that independent newspapers who are not tied to the government or have something against Noor were sympathetic towards him as well."

"The second factor is the US factor. Imagine if President Mubarak made his annual trip to Washington while Noor was still in jail. It would have been a huge embarrassment to President Bush. In addition, Mubarak would have probably faced an angry US media that reserved considerable space to Noor when he was arrested."

* Sokari Ekine produces the blog Black Looks, http://okrasoup.typepad.com/black_looks

* Please send comments to editor@pambazuka.org

Contact: sokari@fahamu.org

6. Pan-African Postcard

Morales: "Long live cocoa, no to the Yankees"

Okello Oculi

Triumphant Bolivian president elect Don Evo Morales touched down in Africa last week as part of a whirlwind global tour ahead of his official inauguration on January 22. Morales, who visited South Africa where he met with politicians and civil society leaders, has pledged to adopt socialist policies and resist US influence on the domestic policies of his country. Okello Oculi tells us who Morales is, what pressures he is likely to face and what his election means for Africa.

Bolivia is a country two-thirds of whose population are indigenous "Indians". The Asian connection in their Euro-centric ethnic label is a gross historical error by European travelers who after 1492 assumed that any landmass west of the Atlantic Ocean's European coast must be the fabled India. On December 18, 2005, its voters made history by electing "the first wholly indigenous president in Latin America in modern times". His name is Don Evo Morales, a bold campaigner against American opposition to growing cocoa plants for the economic benefit of his native peoples.

Morales, an Aymara Indian, won 51.1 per cent of the vote, making it the first time that a Bolivian president is not elected by the country's parliament (or Congress), and thereby denying the big white European land owners in the eastern provinces the decisive voice in an election. Morales has openly declared himself as a "brother" to leftist presidents Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Lula da Silva in Brazil, and Fidel Castro in Cuba.

Bolivia has a unique geopolitical status, sharing borders with Brazil to the north and east, Peru in the northwest, Chile in the southwest, and Argentina and Paraguay in the south. In the mid-1960s, after being disillusioned with the revolutionary potential of Laurent Kabila and his colleagues in today's Democratic Republic of Congo, Che Guevara (the famous Cuban-Argentinean medical doctor turned revolutionary armed fighter), went and started a guerrilla war in Bolivia under the theory of establishing a "focal point" for exporting liberation to the whole of South America. In 1968 the American government's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) triumphantly flashed around the world pictures of a dead Che Guevara. He had been murdered by a military unit funded by the agency.

Morales came to power leading a coalition of "trade unions and social movements" led by his own union which has pledged to legalise the growing of cocoa out of whose leaf cocaine is extracted. At his election victory rally he declared: "Long live cocoa, no to the Yankees". He pledged to re-negotiate contracts which, under the privatization programme of the previous government, gave ownership of oil and gas reserves to foreign multinational companies. Che Guevara must have smiled in his grave in Cuba, his adopted country.

Morales, like Fidel Castro, Salvadore Allende in Chile, and Hugo Chavez before him, will face stiff opposition from the United States. His pledge to "change the history of Bolivia with peace and social justice" must taste like salted human excrement to President Bush and his born-again Christian crusaders for a post-Cold War American domination code-named "pro-democracy".

The rich white minority who voted for his opponent, Jorge Quirago, will oppose his grabbing land from them for redistribution to the dispossessed "Indians"; as well as the central government's control of royalties for gas and oil. For him to succeed he must deepen the combative skills and steadfastness of his followers.

He must also implement creative policies for taking economic growth to the poor through loans to cooperative groups and small firms; supporting local mass-based technological inventiveness, while supporting patriotic big businesses and vigorously undertaking land redistribution. Such concrete economic empowerment initiatives will be the much needed anchor for sustaining the popular mandate of the election victory.

Yet Morales must not underestimate the blood-soaked record of American foreign policy in the region. The naked brutality with which the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile was crushed in 1972 and the subsequent reign of terror which President Eduardo Pinochet unleashed on his supporters, as well as the massacre of thousands of "communists" in Brazil and Argentina in the mid-1960s, must always be kept in view by Morales. Only by such vigilance will the "Movement for Socialism", which he leads, ensure the practical realisation of his assertion that "the people have defeated the neoliberals".

Morales' anti-privatization election victory is coming at a time when African leaders have been selling away national economic institutions to foreign multinationals; and doing so behind the backs of their pauperized peoples. Moreover, those leaders who took loans without putting them to development of their nation's economies are now being hunted down like thieves by Euro-American debt collectors. Morales's boldness, rooted in the mobilization of his country's trade unions and other mass associations, is therefore a vital lesson to Africa.

* Okello Oculi, Ph.D, is Executive Director of Africa Vision

* Please send comments to editor@pambazuka.org

7. African Union Monitor

* Africa: AU survives crucial test in week of high drama

Karoline Kemp

This past week's African Union (AU) Summit in Khartoum, Sudan, saw high drama as the country's President, Omar El-Bashir was nominated for Presidency of the pan-African body. This sparked controversy and divisions on the African continent, threatening to tear the AU apart, but diplomacy and mature government won the day, with Congo-Brazzaville assuming the chair as a compromise candidate. Civil society organisations (CSOs) were instrumental in lobbying against the nomination of Sudan, which was surrounded by questions of human rights abuses. Human rights groups argued that choosing Bashir was unacceptable in light of the current situation in Darfur.

Bashir, a general who seized power in a coup, has been accused of leading a government that carries out attacks in Darfur and supports and arms the militia groups that terrorize the region. An international criminal court is carrying out an investigation into governmental officials and their involvement in the Darfur crisis. CSOs believe that by appointing Bashir, Africa's credibility and that of the AU would be threatened. The ability to negotiate an end to the Darfur and other conflicts would also be hampered. "The Darfur peace process will be jeopardized if African leaders elect a President for the African Union (AU) who is a party to the conflict," Alioune Tine, Secretary General of the Senegalese non-governmental organisation (NGO) RADDHO and member of the Darfur Consortium, a coalition of over forty African based NGOs, said in Khartoum as the AU summit got underway. "It creates a clear conflict of interest."

Sudan's officials argued that they had been working hard to bring peace to the region, and that they had made progress on a number of fronts. Lam Akol, Sudan's Foreign Minister, asked: "Which country in Africa does not have internal problems?" Information Minister Zahawi Ibrahim Malik, when asked if the country pulled out of the AU race because of the allegations of human rights abuses, reported that: "Some quarters hostile to Sudan prevented it from getting the chairmanship."

But in large part due to a flurry of emails between civil society organisations from around the African continent, who were united in protesting against Sudan's nomination, civil society organisations and human rights groups were successful in their campaign to prevent Sudan gaining the chairmanship. African leaders and CSOs alike feared that the debate might create a distraction as they attempted to solve problems faced by the continent. The issue also threatened to divide governments. African governments were split over their support of Sudan. North Africa and East Africa initially backed Sudan's candidacy. West and central Africa refused to support Sudan, although Chad was the only country to openly condemn their bid. Southern Africa was split with president Levi Mwanawasa of Zambia and Festus Mogae of Botswana said to be supporting West and Central African positions.

The decision to hold the AU Summit in Sudan was not seen without contention, and the fears of CSOs were realised when both local and foreign activists and EU, UN and government officials were detained, harassed and arrested at an open civil society forum. Laptops and documents were retained. Forum members met to promote support for and engagement with the key objectives and institutions of the African Union. "This was a serious interference with the rights of freedom of expression and information and a severe violation of the Sudan Interim Constitution," said Salih Mahmoud, a member of the National Assembly (the Interim Parliament) who was among those detained.

Leaders reached a compromise by agreeing that the Republic of Congo would take over the African Union Presidency. Officials said that Sudan would then take over in 2007. "It's not a question of what Congo Brazzaville brings to the table, the important thing is what it doesn't bring; human rights violations, genocide allegations and obstruction of AU peacemaking, all the things that Sudan represents," said Peter Kagwanja, analyst at the International Crisis Group. "It's an indication that the AU system is working, that the system is conscious of if its vision." However, Congo's history is not without turbulence and violence. Despite the introduction of multiparty politics in the 1990s, the President of Congo, Sassou-Nguesso, himself seized power in a 1997 coup. However, the country's record is still deemed better than that of Sudan.

Still, the power of governmental diplomacy and civil society lobbying came at a crucial time in the history of the AU. The Pan African Movement issued a statement saying: "It will send a clear message to other leaders that Africa has moved away from the dubious principle of non interference in internal affairs of member states' to non indifference to the sufferings of Africans wherever they may be." After the demise of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 2002, the AU is trying to distance itself from that body, which was accused of being a toothless dictator's club. The decision to withhold Sudan from leading the new organisation is thus an important step in building up its credibility.

* Karoline Kemp is a Commonwealth of Learning Young Professional Intern, currently working for Fahamu.

* Please send comments to editor@pambazuka.org

* For more information, visit http://www.pambazuka.org/aumonitor/

Africa: AU-MONITOR Mobilisations a success

Fahamu recently established a website associated with Pambazuka News to enable civil society organisations to monitor and respond to events during the African Union summit in Khartoum (see http://www.pambazuka.org/aumonitor/). The site has information about the high profile meetings on the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa and the mobilisations against the threat of Sudan taking up the position as head of the AU. A successful civil society mobilisation was organised through this initiative. The following are a selection of the responses received from activists:

Congrats to the team that worked tirelessly to see this through [this]. You have saved Africa from another embarrassment. We must use these little successes to derive new energies for larger battles ahead.

Achim Chiaji

I must say I'm very inspired by your coverage of the AU summit and for keeping us informed as a civil society.

Mary Nzioka

Congratulations to you all for the good work and the succes in Sudan. However we need to keep mobilized for the AU to be managed by heads of States who observe the principles of the AU constitution. We also need to help solve the conflicts of power that at times oppose the chair of the commission of the AU and the president of the AU. I hope we will have opportunities to discuss this and the strategies to adress it.

Gabriel Baglo

This is great news! I guess we need to learn to be vigilant from now on - and to anticipate the things that we want to avoid well before they happen, so we can act accordingly. You have done well in providing leadership here. Now can we turn to the East African leaders and get to understand what they were on about - and let them know that we just do not approve? Let us ponder this as we heave a sigh of relief.

Ezra Mbogori

Thank you so much for all the work and the updates. This is very pleasing news. I think we can as civics push even for more and better changes. It is possible.

Bertha Chiroro

Thank you so much for the good news. As civil society its an achievement but we need to keep on fighting to achieve other goals as well.

Brenda Mukutu

Africa: Condemnation of arrests of human rights activists in Sudan

Statement By The Open Society Justice Initiative

"The Open Society Justice Initiative has condemned the arrest of human rights and pro-democracy activists in Khartoum on Sunday, January 22, 2006. Approximately 30 activists, including eight foreign nationals, were arrested by Sudanese security forces and interrogated for several hours before being released. The activists were participating in a civil society consultation on the crisis in Darfur organized in conjunction with the Sixth African Union Summit of Heads of State and Government, taking place in Khartoum this week." Please click on the link to read the rest of this statement, as well as other statements about the harassment of civil society activists.

Further details: http://www.pambazuka.org/index.php?id=31569

Africa: Education is focus of AU Summit


Education and Culture are high on the agenda for the African Heads of State participating in the 6th African Union Summit in Khartoum, Sudan (23-24 January). The summit will also be the occasion for UNESCO's Director-General, Koïchiro Matsuura, and the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, Alpha Oumar Konaré, to sign a cooperation agreement between the two organizations.

Africa: Fury regarding East African support for Sudan taking presidency

Statement By African Civil Society Organisations

"We receive with profound shock the news that the East African group of Ministers, meeting on the margins of the 6th Ordinary Session of the African Union Summit, are supporting the Sudanese bid for Presidency of the African Union. Such an action will deeply undermine and erode the credibility of the AU and at the same time compromise the authority of its institutions. Despite the assurances by the Sudanese Vice-President in the opening Session of Executive Council Meeting this morning, the human rights and humanitarian situation in Sudan's Darfur region continues to be one of the worst in the world."

Further details: http://www.pambazuka.org/index.php?id=31565

Africa: Letter To All Heads of State and Government Members of the African Union (AU)

Resolution Of Independent African Civil Society Meeting 13-14 Jan 2006 On The Unsuitability Of Sudan To Hold The Presidency Of The African Union

"We the representatives of more than 50 human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations meeting in Nairobi, Kenya from January 13th to 14th, 2006 representing African Civil Society are honored to present our compliments to your high Offices.

We wish to express our deep concern with respect to the ongoing plans by the African heads of state and government to confer the AU Presidency for the year 2006-2007 on Sudan; and in particular to President Omar El-Bashir. We seriously believe that such an action will deeply undermine and erode the credibility of the AU and at the same time compromise the authority of its institutions.

The human rights and humanitarian situation in Sudan's Darfur region continues to be one of the worst in the world. The Government of Sudan is one of the parties considered responsible for this situation, where an estimated 300,000 people have been killed and two million others mainly women and children deliberately uprooted from their homes since February 2003. This has largely been attributed to the activities of the Government of Sudan and her allied Janjaweed militia. "

* Click on the link to read the full statement and a list of signatories.

Further details: http://www.pambazuka.org/index.php?id=31570

Africa: No to Sudan as AU chair

Darfur Consortium Press Release

"The Darfur peace process will be jeopardized if African leaders elect a President for the African Union (AU) who is a party to the conflict," Alioune Tine, Secretary General of the Senegalese non-governmental organisaiton (NGO) RADDHO and member of the Darfur Consortium, a coalition of over forty African based NGOs, said today in Khartoum as the AU summit got underway. "It creates a clear conflict of interest". Speaking today in Khartoum Mr Tine urged: "In a continent riven by conflict we need an AU President who can play an incontestably legitimate leadership role in dealing with the challenges of war in Africa. The people of Darfur in particular need an AU President capable of taking a strong and independent stand on behalf of peace." Click on the link for the rest of this press release and further statements from civil society.

Further details: http://www.pambazuka.org/index.php?id=31563

8. Conflict and Emergencies

Darfur: New war fears between Sudan and Chad


The government of Sudan and its Janjaweed militia allies are massing a greater number of troops in the El Geneina vicinity along the border with Chad, according to the website of Damanga, a coalition for freedom and democracy. "Despite having witnessed more than two years of internal conflict with massive civilian abuse, six different individuals communicated with Damanga during the past week and reported further violence against civilians."

DRC: Thousands flee clashes

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=17279 &Cr=democratic&Cr1=congo

Thousands of Congolese have fled fighting in the Kivu provinces in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to western Uganda, the United Nations reported this week. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said about 7,000 of the 20,000 new refugees in Uganda arrived this week. Meanwhile, the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) said its efforts to remove Ugandan Lord Resistance Army (LRA) rebels from the country's Garamba Park had been called off.

Ethiopia: US mediation team arrives in Addis Ababa


A high level mediation team from the United States has arrived in Ethiopia to try and break the border dispute with neighbouring Eritrea, according to the US embassy in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. Eritrea insists that Ethiopia should accept a 2002 ruling by an independent border commission that demarcated the border following a peace deal that ended a bloody two-year war between the two neighbours.

Ivory Coast: Peacekeepers set to stay


The UN Security Council on Tuesday authorized UN and French peacekeepers to remain in divided Ivory Coast until Dec. 15 but, bowing to US opposition, took no action on a plea for reinforcements. A resolution adopted unanimously by the 15-nation council authorized the more than 10,000 international peacekeepers already in the volatile West African nation to keep enforcing a fragile peace there until at least six weeks after elections due to take place before the end of October 2006.

Kenya: Conflict increasing as food crisis deepens


As Kenya's worst drought since 2000 intensifies, the international development agency ActionAid is warning that disputes are on the increase, with nomadic peoples starting to fight over scarce fertile land in the north east region. In a press release from London, the agency also reports that people in other regions are now beginning to succumb to the effects of drought and hunger.

Kenya: This country can decide never to starve


Hunger appears to be a permanent condition in Kenya. Despite the conspicuous consumption among foreigners and Kenyans in Nairobi, millions of poor Kenyans live on less than Sh80 (1 US dollar) a day. Every year millions go hungry. Why then, when hunger constantly stalks the country, does each emergency come as a surprise that necessitates an urgent appeal to donors for food aid? This analysis by the Director of the United Nations Drylands Development Centre, and the principal author of the UN Millennium Project contends that there are many misconceptions about the causes of hunger, and politicians, donors and NGOs are often woefully ignorant about its underlying root.

Nigeria: Oil warriors threaten more raids


Nigerian militants who have kidnapped four foreign oil workers and attacked a Shell oil platform say they are preparing to carry out more raids. The rebel group says it wants more control over the Niger Delta region's enormous oil wealth, and is demanding the release of two local leaders. Negotiations between the government and the rebels are said to be continuing.

9. Human Rights

Africa: Nomination process slammed for lack of transparency


The Coalition for an Effective African Court on Human and People's Rights, an NGO based in South Africa, criticized the process of nominating judges to the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights during the ongoing African Union summit in Khartoum, Sudan. The coalition said that the nomination process lacked transparency and that several of the judicial candidates did not have adequate experience in human rights. The coalition argues that the AU commission should be responsible for nominating judges to the court, rather than the member states. The protocol for establishing the court came into effect last January and African leaders are expected to appoint judges to the court immediately, according to Paper Chase, a legal news service.

Cameroon: Activist calls for suspension of World Bank support

http://www.icicemac.com/nouvelle/index.php3?nid =5590

Tambe Tike, a Cameroon human rights advocate argues that the World Bank's continued support of Cameroon is a tacit support of human rights abuses and rampant corruption. He argues that the WB should not provide financial support to an authoritarian and corrupt government and that it often leads to the further strengthening of the repressive apparatus of its regime, worsening the country's human rights situation. He says that the Bank has continued to raise the government's hope for an eventual qualification under the HIPC initiative, but that it would be a big error for Cameroon to qualify under present circumstances.

Ethiopia: Meles accepts Benn's proposal for rights investigation


The UK secretary of state for international development, Hilary Benn, on Wednesday asked the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi for an independent investigation into the alleged human rights violations in the Oromia Regional State. Speaking after his meeting with Meles, Mr. Benn said that complaints had been raised about the current situation in the Oromia region. "I think there should be an independent investigation into the alleged human rights violations in the region," he said. Mr. Benn said Meles accepted his proposal.

Ethiopia: Notorious federal police


US based international human rights organization, Human Rights Watch, last week issued a statement entitled "Ethiopia: Hidden Crackdown in Rural Areas". The statement said that the Ethiopian government has been using intimidation, arbitrary detention and excessive force in rural Ethiopia to suppress post-election protests and all potential dissent. The organization spoke of the condition in Ethiopia after a field trip to some parts of the country.

Nigeria: Same sex unions to be outlawed


Nigeria's government is planning a specific ban on same-sex marriages, with five years in jail for anyone who has a gay wedding or officiates at one. Information Minister Frank Nweke told the BBC the government was taking the "pre-emptive step" because of developments elsewhere in the world. "In most cultures in Nigeria, same-sex relationships, sodomy and the likes of that, is regarded as abominable." Homosexual sex is already illegal and in the north offenders can be stoned. Justice Minister Bayo Ojo said the law would also ban "any form of protest to press for rights or recognition" by homosexuals, the AFP news agency reports.

South Africa: Apartheid reparations case begins

Jubilee South Africa Press Release

On the 24th of January 2006, oral arguments in the matter of Khulumani et. al. v. Barclays et. al. began in the USA. In Khulumani v. Barclays, 87 South Africans (victims of gross human rights abuses during Apartheid) charge 23 foreign corporations with aiding and abetting the Apartheid Regime. This is a very serious charge, as aiding and abetting is equivalent to actual perpetration under international law. The case will be heard in the Court of Appeals, second District of New York.

Further details: http://www.pambazuka.org/index.php?id=31559

Swaziland: Persistent failure to call police to account


Amnesty International today (January 20) renewed its call on the government of Swaziland to take immediate and visible steps to prevent the torture and unlawful killing of crime suspects and political opponents by the police. In a letter to the Head of State, King Mswati III, Amnesty International expressed its concern that the government's failure to act against torture is persisting, contrary to the obligations of Swaziland under international and regional human rights treaties it has ratified and contrary to the new Constitution's Bill of Rights.

10. Refugees and Forced Migration

Africa: African immigrants and the assault on humanity


Through the African Union, all the African heads of state resolved to promote the unity and solidarity of the African states and to co-ordinate and intensify their co-operation and efforts to achieve better life for the peoples of the continent of Africa. But the spirit and letter of the African Union (AU), United Nations and the Arab League Charter has been breached and desiccated with impunity by Morocco and most African countries in their total dehumanisation of fellow African brothers tagged illegal immigrants, according to this commentary.

Africa: UK to pay asylum-seekers to return home

http://www.nationmedia.com/eastafrican/current /News/news2301200611.htm

Britain is to offer African asylum seekers £3,000 ($5,400) to go home or leave the UK. In a pilot scheme which will apply to all asylum seekers to the UK this year, the British government has introduced the payment in an effort to weed out those who have applied for refugee status merely in search of a better life.

Côte d'Ivoire: Anti-UN riots threatens assistance to refugees


The densely forested region around Guiglo is home to a refugee camp for 8,000 Liberians and a camp sheltering some 6,000 Burkinabe farmers, driven off their plantations in Cote d'Ivoire during three years of conflict. Nearly all aid workers were forced out of the region last week when mobs began to burn and loot UN facilities following the death of five youths when peacekeepers opened fire following an attack on a UN military compound.

DRC: UNHCR worried about instability in eastern DRC

http://www.unhcr.ch/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/news/opendoc.htm?tbl =NEWS&id=43d4f4d34

In a rapidly developing series of events, Congolese refugees have already begun going back home from Uganda, just days after they fled fighting in the Kivu region of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Over the weekend, UNHCR staff reported that some 15,000 refugees were staying in the open at an airfield in Kisoro, 450 km (280 miles) south-west of Kampala. That group has now shrunk to about 13,000; some 5,000 say they may be willing to move to a site further inland.

East Africa: Hunger and thirst killed African migrants

http://yementimes.com/article.shtml?i=914&p=local &a=6

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office renewed its January 20 appeal for action to stem the flow of those falling prey to smugglers in their flight from Somalia and Ethiopia. The appeal followed the January 16 appearance of a boat on Yemeni shores carrying 65 people and six dead bodies, UNHCR staff in Sana'a said. Another 14 people reportedly died during the voyage - six who threw themselves into the sea because they could not bear the thirst and another eight who died on board of thirst and hunger and whose bodies were thrown overboard.

Egypt: UNHCR welcomes release of more Sudanese

http://www.hrea.org/lists/hr-headlines/markup /msg02668.html

A total of 233 people, including 176 Sudanese women and children and 57 Darfurians have been released from three prisons in Cairo. The Sudanese were part of a group of more than 2,000 people who were removed from a Cairo square near UNHCR's office on 30 December following a three-month demonstration.

Liberia: Over 2000 IDPs appeal to President Sirleaf

http://www.analystnewspaper.com/over_2000_idps _appeal_to_pres_ellen.htm

Some 2085 Internally Displaced People living in Congo Town in Monrovia told The Analyst that they have been abandoned by the government of Liberia and the international community. "There is no health facility; children are not going to school and nobody seems to care for us. We are suffering," said the chairman of the IDPs occupying the new health ministry in Congo Town, Mr. Augustus Tarpar.

Nigeria: Forced evictions in Lagos make thousands homeless


Hundreds of Nigerians are still sleeping out in the open nearly nine months after bulldozers and armed police arrived in the Makoko community of Lagos, demolishing homes, churches, a mosque and a medical clinic. After three days of destruction, the community was obliterated, leaving about 3,000 residents - many already destitute - homeless. A report by Amnesty International, in collaboration with Lagos-based Social and Economic Rights Action Center (SERAC), reveals how residents were given no prior notice of the demolition of their homes and property, which took place from 27 - 29 April 2005.

Sudan: More Sudanese refugees arrive in Chad

http://www.unhcr.ch/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/news/opendoc.htm?tbl =NEWS&id=43d655e14

UNHCR has reported that Sudanese refugees are again fleeing Darfur for camps in neighbouring eastern Chad, while High Commissioner António Guterres warned the UN Security Council in New York of a "much greater calamity" in the region unless bold measures are taken soon. The UN refugee agency chief noted that the insecurity in Darfur has now spread across the border to Chad, where last Friday armed rebels took several government officials hostage and attacked the village of Guéréda, where the UN refugee agency is caring for more than 25,000 Sudanese refugees in two camps.

11. Elections and Governance

Africa: Governance concerns mean aid cuts


Governance concerns in Ethiopia have led the British government to cancel its budget support to the Ethiopian government. Development Minister Hilary Benn announced in Addis Ababa that Britain will cut all of its aid to Ethiopia's government. This amounts to more than 50 million pounds sterling Britain will now redirect through other development financing channels such as humanitarian agencies.

Benin: Trade unions call stoppage over election funds


Six of Benin's seven trade union confederations on Tuesday (January 24) began a two-day stoppage to demand that the government hand over funds needed for presidential elections next March. Schools and government offices ground to a halt and state television and radio broadcasts were cut back due to the strike call, but many businesses remained open as usual due to the refusal by the country's biggest trade union, the CSTB, to sign on to the stoppage.

Cape Verde: Ruling party wins poll


Cape Verde's governing party, the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV), has won Sunday's parliamentary elections. With almost all votes counted, the PAICV had gained 52% of the vote, while the main opposition party, the Movement for Democracy, had 42%. Voter turnout was as low as 58%. The new parliament will hold office for a five-year term. The PAICV has ruled the Atlantic archipelago continuously since 2001. The PAICV first came to power under a one-party system upon independence from Portugal in 1975. The Movement for Democracy won the first multi-party elections in 1990 but the PAICV regained office in 2001.

Congo: Women's vote tilts balance in Constitutional Referendum


The people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) voted a resounding "yes" at their Constitutional Referendum held in December 2005. The referendum was the first time in decades that Congolese went to the polls to decide on their country's future. 60% of all voters were women, and 72% of the more than 9 million women registered as voters chose to endorse their Constitution. The strength of the female vote, and the increased participation of women during the constitutional process, points to the importance of taking into account the specific needs of women during electoral and constitutional processes.

Cote D'Ivoire: Party back in peace team


Ivory Coast's governing party says it will rejoin the government of national unity which it left last week. The Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) pulled out of the government on Tuesday (January 17) in protest at what it saw as international interference in the country's affairs. The party's leader told the BBC the decision would be reviewed if rebels who control the north of the country failed to disarm within three months. The pull-out came during anti-United Nations protests by FPI supporters. The FPI had been angered by a recommendation by a team of international mediators that parliament be dissolved.

Nigeria: The state of democracy

http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-africa _democracy/nigeria_3177.jsp#

West Africa's oil-rich giant is convulsed over the president's plans to run for a third term in office. Ron Singer maps the debates among political and civil-society activists who are asking if Nigerians can escape from the legacy of "one-man democracy". As citizens prepare to return to the polls in 2007, Nigeria's future hangs in the balance. A current initiative to change the constitution so that President Olusegun Obasanjo could run for a third term threatens to turn the nation into another of those familiar African one-man "democracies", such as Uganda, ruled for twenty years now by Yoweri Museveni. Alternately, the initiative could plunge Nigeria into chaos.

Sierra Leone: Ex rebel official accused of bid to overthrow government


As Sierra Leone works to overcome a decade of civil war and unrest, a former rebel spokesman was accused of treason on Monday for alleged involvement in a recent bid to overthrow the government and assassinate the vice-president. Lawyer Omrie Michael Golley, former spokesman for the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel movement, was arrested on 12 January along with two other men in a luxury hotel in the country's seafront capital, Freetown.

Uganda: NRM under inquiry over Besigye's torn posters


Uganda's opposition Forum for Democratic Change has lodged a complaint that supporters of the National Resistance Movement are tearing down their leader's posters for the presidential campaigns. They say NRM supporters tear the posters of the FDC presidential candidate, Dr Kizza Besigye, and replace them with those of President Yoweri Museveni in the municipality.

The area CID Officer said they were investigating the matter.

Uganda: Worst MPs, Ministers of 2005 now exposed


In Uganda, the worst Members of Parliament over the last year have been revealed in a survey commissioned by the Daily Monitor, a local daily. The survey, which covers the period from August 2004 to August 2005, measures the performance of the MPs by their contributions to bills, motions, reports and any other contributions.Army MPs were some of the worst performers in the House, contributing three members to the top-ten list of non-performers. Yet the Army lobbied extensively and successfully to keep its slots in the House when Parliament reviewed the need for special interest group MPs earlier this month.

12. Women and Gender

Cameroon: Lifting girls out of poverty


Ever since she was a little girl, Martine had always dreamt of becoming a farmer. Yet these dreams were shattered when an unplanned pregnancy forced her to drop out of high school. Now 20, Martine is getting a second chance at learning. She is one of 120 girls participating in a pilot project for marginalized girls in rural areas of Cameroon. The project is run by UNESCO and the Rubisadt Foundation, an NGO promoting novel approaches to gender in science and technology education.

Global: A gender perspective on the WTO Hong Kong meet


The outcome of the December 2005 Hong Kong Ministerial has been strongly criticized by civil society organizations and social movements for securing substantial concessions from developing countries while providing them with hardly anything in return. The Hong Kong text represents an empty package of commitments and development rhetoric that in fact will primarily benefit the global corporate agenda and select interests. As negotiators prepare for a follow-up Ministerial in March or April 2006, it is important to reflect on the outcome of the Hong Kong Ministerial and take stock of the concrete "measures" derived from it and their consequences for men and women in the developing world.

Global: Assessing the impact of trade liberalization


On the 10th Anniversary of the UN Fourth World Conference on Women and the founding of the World Trade Organization, the International Gender and Trade Network (IGTN) chose to focus on the impact of trade liberalization on women's economic security as its contribution to the Beijing +10 review because trade liberalization is a leading force for global economic integration. Since 1995, there is evidence that economic and political forces have been responsible for measures and policies, which run counter to the commitments made by governments for implementing the Beijing Platform for Action.

Global: Gender and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration


This Unifem handbook is aimed at those planning and executing disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR). It contains reflections and lessons learned, case studies from Liberia and Bougainville in Papua New Guinea, and practical guidance in the form of a model standard operating procedure.

Global: Gender matters and remittances


Are remittance flows gender-neutral? Does it matter if the people involved in these transactions are male or female? Do remittances reshape gender relations?

Global: New resource for micro-finance projects


Micro-finance programmes not only give women and men access to savings and credit, but reach millions of people worldwide bringing them together regularly in organised groups. Although no 'magic bullet', they are potentially a very significant contribution to gender equality and women's empowerment, as well as pro-poor development and civil society strengthening. Through their contribution to women's ability to earn an income these programmes have potential to initiate a series of 'virtuous spirals' of economic empowerment, increased well-being for women and their families and wider social and political empowerment.

Global: Women testify

http://www.cwgl.rutgers.edu/globalcenter/womentestify /index.htm

'Women Testify: A Planning Guide for Popular Tribunals and Hearings', is a comprehensive guide to organizing hearings and tribunals and is now available as the first online publication of the Center for Women's Global Leadership. CWGL's extensive experience in organizing hearings during its 16 year history, notably the 1993 Global Tribunal on Violations of Women's Human Rights held at the UN World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna and the Global Campaign for Women's Human Rights in 1998, provide a basis for the guide and offer a detailed outline of plans and actions to help in organizing a successful event.

Mozambique: Protocol on women's rights ratified


Mozambique has deposited its instrument of ratification of the protocol on the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa with the African Union on 30th December 2005. Mozambique is the 17th state that ratified the protocol (January 18). Burkina Faso and Guinea in West Africa will very shortly deposit their ratification instrument as their parliaments have respectively authorised it.

13. Development

Africa: EU plans aid trust fund to by-pass World Bank


The European Union plans to create a trust fund to disburse European aid to Africa without depending on the World Bank, according to the bloc's top aid official. "European aid money should be spent according to European policies," EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel told journalists. He lamented that the EU does not have the influence it should in the World Bank. The 25-nation bloc is the world's biggest aid donor, providing 56 percent of development assistance.

Africa: The worrisome state of the microcredit movement

http://www.saiia.org.za/modules.php?op=modload &name=News&file=article&sid=787

The South African Institute Of International Affairs, in the latest edition of their publication e-africa, profiles the state of microcredit. "2005 has been declared the 'Year of Microcredit' by the UN, thus acknowledging the journey of microcredit from an obscure experiment in the mid-1970s to the status of a worldwide movement. The movement has captivated not just the entire development aid industry, but journalists, editorial writers, policy makers and much of the general public in both the North and the South. Microcredit is what you might guess - credit in tiny amounts. The term, and the practice, came into being when a few aid agencies began offering loans of as little as $10 or $20 to poor people with no collateral in the developing countries."

East Africa: Pace of Customs Union Reduced


The East Africa Customs Union integration process has been slowed down by lack of elaborate infrastructure at border points. "The situation has been compounded further by the absence of essential facilities such as physical structures and manpower that are necessary to hasten the process," said an East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA) member. An EALA delegation that toured major border points of the three East Africa Community member states, said the integration had not picked up after members failed to put in place the requisite infrastructure to speed up the process.

Global: Can remittances reduce poverty?


At least US$232 billion will be sent back home globally by around 200 million migrants to their families in 2005, three times official development aid (US$78.6 billion dollars). Moreover, migration and remittance experts argue that the unofficial transfers could be as large as formal flows. What impact is this having on poverty reduction?

Kenya: Race on to make Kisumu a global city


Kisumu is on the threshold of another new beginning. Kenya's lakeside town has many things going for it lately. After celebrating its centennial a few years ago, it recently achieved another first after the United Nations declared it the world's first Millennium City. It was in 1901 that the building of the Kenya Uganda Railway was concluded at Winam Gulf aka Kavirondo Gulf, that the foundation of the town was laid.

Uganda: Concern grows over 'no-strings' debt relief


For a country like Uganda, the debt relief initiative championed by rock stars, activists and politicians could have a wide-reaching impact, saving the nation tens of millions of dollars a year and helping thousands to go to school. However, in contrast to other development assistance, the unconditional nature of the debt relief plan places the onus on governments to ensure the savings genuinely assist the poor. Even some debt relief activists voice concerns about how the cash will be spent.

14. Corruption

Chad: Assembly urges tough stance in World Bank row


Chad's National Assembly has asked the government to close an offshore oil account the World Bank had ordered frozen in a dispute, and said it should consider breaking ties with the global lender "if necessary". The request, contained in a resolution passed by the Chadian parliament, signalled a hardening of Chad's position in its continuing row with the World Bank over changes made by President Idriss Deby's government to an oil revenue law. The dispute is linked to the bank's biggest investment on the continent, a $3.7 billion oil pipeline built and operated by a consortium led by US oil major Exxon Mobil Corp.

Congo: Corruption has brought poverty to Congo people

http://admin.corisweb.org/index.php?fuseaction =news.view&id=119796&src=dcn

Also known as Congo-Brazzaville, the Republic of Congo should not be confused with its much larger neighbour, the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire). Congo is the fourth-largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa and produces around 250,000 barrels a day. Government income from the oil sector totalled $1 billion in 2004, 70 per cent of the state's total revenue, and was projected to rise to $1.2 billion in 2005. Congo has a population of three million and with its substantial natural resources, it has the capacity to be a wealthy country. However, those riches are not finding their way to most of its people, 70 per cent of whom live below the poverty line.

Global: World Bank turmoil over Wolfowitz crusade


Paul Wolfowitz, president of the World Bank, has triggered a bitter conflict with the bank's senior career staff by empowering a group of close political advisers to pursue aggressively what he sees as widespread corruption surrounding bank projects. The dispute has come to a head with the recent appointment of Suzanne Rich Folsom, a counsellor to Mr Wolfowitz with close ties to the Republican party, as the new director of the Department of Institutional Integrity, the internal watchdog that investigates suspected fraud and staff misconduct.

Kenya: Graft claims rock cabinet


Kenya's opposition coalition has urged the president to dissolve his cabinet following new allegations of corruption against four senior ministers. A recent report by former anti-corruption chief John Githongo was published, saying the four had tried to block corruption investigations. Two of the four, who include the vice-president and the finance minister, publicly denied the charges.

South Africa: Shaik asset seizure in SA court


The South African government has gone to court to seize assets worth over $3m from businessman Schabir Shaik. The case began in the Durban High Court on Wednesday. Mr Shaik was not present. He is currently on bail after being convicted in July last year of having a generally corrupt relationship with ex-deputy president Jacob Zuma.

Uganda: Ministers Cited in Global Fund Scam


Uganda's Global Fund probe was dismayed by revelations that the country's health ministers borrowed sh7m from the Global Fund for malaria to campaign for last year's referendum on change of political systems. The chairman, Justice James Ogoola, condemned the "borrowing," calling it an act of depriving malaria patients of their aid to the benefit of a partisan political activity. The commission was hearing evidence from the project manager of the Malaria Control Programme under the health ministry.

15. Racism and Xenophobia

Africa: US scandal exposes apartheid links

http://www.mg.co.za/articlePage.aspx?articleid =262174&area=/insight/insight__national/

A major political corruption scandal in the United States has again focused attention on the role of senior Democratic Alliance official Russel Crystal in apartheid-era dirty tricks, reports South Africa's Mail and Guardian newspaper. Central to the scandal is Jack Abramoff, a former high-flying Republican lobbyist, who pleaded guilty on January 3 to charges of conspiracy to bribe public officials, fraud and tax evasion.

Africans must look inwards


Dr Abiola Ogunsola, a senior lecturer in sociology at the University of East London (UEL), has urged Africans to tap into their bottomless reservoir of perseverance and optimism and then fashion a distinctive and dynamic way of life that will give them a pride of place in the world. "Racism is a denial of the attraction for what you discriminate against," she said, as reported by The Observer.

16. Health and HIV/AIDS

Africa: Caution urged in removal of user fees

http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/reprint/331/7519 /762.pdf

"User fees are once again a topic of hot policy debate in Africa," write the authors of this article from the British Medical Journal. "They were introduced relatively recently in many countries, but the current call is for their removal, particularly at primary care level. As analysts who have consistently argued against user fees, we broadly support this call. However, we recognise that this action cannot be introduced overnight and, if weakly implemented, may exacerbate the problems facing African health systems."

Africa: The long slow road to '3 by 5'

http://www.irinnews.org/AIDSreport.asp?ReportID =5620

Almost a month after the deadline, the World Health Organisation's (WHO) campaign to put three million people in the developing world on anti-AIDS drugs by the end of 2005 has failed to meet its target. When WHO launched the '3 by 5' initiative it was widely acknowledged that the 'aspirational' target represented a significant hurdle, given the state of global funding for AIDS, doubtful political will, drug availability and technical capacity.

Africa: WHO urges halt to malaria-resistant drugs


The World Health Organisation (WHO) has strongly criticised 21 pharmaceutical companies for marketing and selling "single drug" malaria pills that have the potential to develop resistance against one of the most common and serious tropical diseases. "The use of single-drug artemisinin treatment - or monotherapy - hastens development of resistance by weakening but not killing the parasite," the WHO said Thursday. The problem has assumed such seriousness that WHO has decided to name names, providing a list of the pharmaceutical companies marketing and selling these malaria pills.

Burkina Faso: Shielding future generations from elephantiasis


Burkina Faso health workers are out in force nationwide to distribute medicine and information in a bid to combat elephantiasis, an often debilitating disorder the health ministry says strikes about one million people in the West African country. Health Minister Alain Bedouma Yoda said in launching the campaign that the country must wipe out the disease "to shield future generations from the socio-economic impact of this scourge."

South Africa: Generics ensure affordable AIDS treatment

http://www.health-e.org.za/news/article.php?uid =20031352

A massive reduction in the price of antiretroviral drugs now makes it possible for South Africa to turn HIV/AIDS from a killer into a chronic, manageable disease. Over the past five years, the cost of a year's supply of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs in South Africa has plummeted from over R95 000 to around R1 200 for the standard "first-line" package of three drugs a day - largely because generic ARV drugs are now available.

Zimbabwe: Cholera outbreak stretches health service


Zimbabwe's two largest infectious diseases referral hospitals are being inundated by new cases of cholera, despite government claims that the situation is under control. A team of government and municipal health workers visited both the Wilkins and Beatrice Infectious Disease Hospitals in the capital, Harare, this week in a bid to ascertain the extent of the outbreak. Patients in three wards at Beatrice hospital have had to be evacuated to make room for those suffering from cholera.

17. Education

Ethiopia: Education choices


The aim of this paper from the organisation Young Lives is to establish a link between micro-level outcomes and macro-level policy initiatives with respect to eight-year-old children's primary school enrolment in Ethiopia. The study investigated external factors associated with child enrolment in school, such as lack of income, child labour, economic shocks, social capital and education of adults in the household.

Global: Directory of human rights educators


The aim of the Global Directory of Human Rights Educators is to provide a resource for individuals, communities and organisations that are looking for assistance with their activities or want to exchange information. Through the directory one can identify trainers or curriculum developers, explore potential partnerships, or share your interest in certain thematic areas. Currently almost 600 educators from over 50 countries have registered in the directory. In order to protect the privacy of those listed the directory is password protected and will only be accessible to those who have registered.

Rwanda: Physics has a key role in development


Romain Murenzi, Rwanda's science minister, highlights the contributions that physics can make to economic development. The importance of physics for the economic development of all countries is clear. Physics is the most basic of sciences, and its concepts and techniques underpin the progress of all other branches of science. It is also a cross-cutting discipline that has applications in many sectors of economic development, including health, agriculture, water, energy and information technology. And the application of science through technology is crucial for providing the infrastructure that all modern countries need, according to SciDev.

Tanzania: Transaction costs and aid in education sector


This UNDP paper explores transaction costs (TCs) in the Tanzanian education sector. It looks at the different kinds of transaction costs, including administrative, tying and fiscal, to see how they play out through different funding instruments such as projects, pooled fund support to the education sector, sector support, and examines their likely implications in the context of moves towards increased budget support.

Zimbabwe: End the abuse, UNICEF says


In the wake of a worsening orphan crisis and accusations against a headmaster who allegedly raped six primary school pupils, the United Nations Children's Fund has repeated its call for communities to speak out against all forms of child abuse. UNICEF said it was horrified at the continued sexual abuse of children, most of them primary school pupils, and by those in trusted positions. Anecdotal evidence from local NGOs and clinics around Harare show child sexual abuse is rampant.

18. Environment

Africa: Practical Action's work on climate change


Climate change is not merely a threat - it's a reality. And it's the world's poorest people who already feel its devastating effects. Changing rainfall patterns are causing crops to fail and communities to go hungry; increasingly severe floods and storms are devastating families' homes and livelihoods year after year. Poor communities who are already struggling with the burden of poverty have to cope with more and more frequent extreme weather events. Around the world, the organisation Practical Action is working together with communities, helping them adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Congo: Mapping forests by their real guardians


In the forests of northern Republic of Congo, the Mbendjele are a hidden people. Living entirely on forest resources, they have co-existed with their environment for thousands of years. Their impact on the forest is so minimal that from satellite images it is impossible to detect any evidence of these people's hunter-gatherer activities. But their 'hidden existence' is under threat as logging concessions are allocated and logging companies move in to claim the timber.

East Africa: Deforestation, climate change magnify drought


According to the Environment News Service, the relentless drought across East Africa is deepening because of global climate change as well as the continuing destruction of forests, grasslands, wetlands and other critical ecosytems the UN environment Programme (UNEP) is warning. "Drought is no stranger to the peoples of East Africa," said Klaus Toepfer, the executive director of UNEP, which has compiled a number of reports on the state of Kenya's forests. "It is a natural climatic phenomenon".

Global: Ecological Internet launches rainforest portal


Ecological Internet has launched a new rainforest portal dedicated to the protection of the world's remaining tropical rainforests and the rights of their inhabitants. The new site is the latest in a long list of highly successful environmental portal offerings by Ecological Internet. The portal provides unprecedented rainforest action, news, search and analysis capabilities.

Global: Environmental Index available


In the forests of northern Republic of Congo, the Mbendjele are a hidden people. Living entirely on forest resources, they have co-existed with their environment for thousands of years. Their impact on the forest is so minimal that from satellite images it is impossible to detect any evidence of these people's hunter-gatherer activities. But their 'hidden existence' is under threat as logging concessions are allocated and logging companies move in to claim the timber.

Global: Surviving climate change in small islands


This practical manual from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research specifically addresses what small island countries should do in order to develop adaptation strategies to changing weather patterns, and is posted from Eldis.

Nigeria: Rape of justice


Hope Ogbeide paid a field visit to Minna, Niger State on 17th January 2006 and wrote a report on an interview he had with Noma Usma, Secretary Coalition of Dam-affected Communities and President, Borgu Youth Council. The claims of Noma Usman were corroborated by the Chairman of Borgu Local Government Area, which hosts the Kainji hydroelectric dam.

Somalia: Food security monitor warns on drought


Extreme drought has hit Somalia hard, leaving 1.75 million people in need of help, an agency monitoring food availability in the Horn of Africa country warned. The crisis is especially severe in southern Somalia, where up to 30% of the cattle have died from lack of food and water, according to the Food Security Analysis Unit Somalia, which works with the United Nations and various aid groups, reports Boston.com News.

19. Media and Freedom of Expression

Africa: Bid to launch pan-African satellite TV

http://in.today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type =worldNews&storyID=2006-01-18T232125Z_01_NOOT R_RTRJONC_0_India-232559-1.xml&archived=False

Driven by the vision of Africans reporting on Africa for the world, a group of professional broadcasters, business people and reporters is setting up a pan-African satellite television network within a year. Modelled on Arabic satellite network al Jazeera and led by Salim Amin, son of legendary Kenyan photojournalist Mo Amin, Africa TV aims to be an independent voice reporting on all events - good and bad - to the continent and the rest of the world.

Africa: New awards for media in Africa

Kenya-based Africa Free Media Foundation (AFMF) formerly Network for the Defence of Independent Media in Africa (NDIMA) and US-based World Free Press Institute (WFPI) have announced the establishment of three major awards for the media in Africa. Named AFMF/WFPI Trophy for Impartial Coverage, the awards will be presented to media outlets which exhibit impartiality in covering war, conflict, election and politically motivated trials. It is becoming increasingly evident that the role played by the media in covering such events is a contributing factor in resolving or fuelling conflicts. AFMF and WFPI hope that awarding the trophies will encourage the media to offer balanced news and opinions and thereby promote democracy and peaceful co-existence.

Further details: http://www.pambazuka.org/index.php?id=31453

Ethiopia: IRIN, AP correspondent asked to leave within 24 hours


The Ministry of Information announced that it had decided that the IRIN and Associated Press correspondent in Ethiopia should leave the country in 24 hours for tarnishing the image of the nation and repeatedly contravening journalism ethics. The Press License and Control Department together with the Ministry decided that the AP correspondent, Antony Michel, be expelled from the country for disseminating information far from the truth about Ethiopia.

Mozambique: Cardosa killer sent to jail

http://admin.corisweb.org/index.php?fuseaction =news.view&id=119791&src=dcn

The man convicted of murdering Mozambican journalist Carlos Cardoso is to serve 30 years in jail. A retrial in Maputo upheld the 2003 conviction of Anibal "Anibalzinho" dos Santos Junior, who planned the killing. An appeal court allowed a retrial since the first trial was conducted in absentia after he fled Mozambique. Cardoso was murdered in 2000 while investigating a $14m fraud related to bank privatisation. The case has drawn attention to corruption in Mozambique.

Rwanda: Freedom of expression under attack

Amnesty International has expressed concerns for the safety of Bonaventure Bizumuremyi, the editor of the independent fortnightly newspaper, Umuco, who has recently been the target of intimidation, harassment and armed attack from assailants allegedly associated with the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), the ruling political party in Rwanda. Bonaventure Bizumuremyi was reportedly woken up at 3 am on 15 January, by four men banging on the front door of his home in the capital, Kigali. The men, armed with clubs and knives, forcibly entered and ransacked his house.

Further details: http://www.pambazuka.org/index.php?id=31452

South Africa: Safeguarding academic freedom

http://www.sundayindependent.co.za/index.php?fSectionId =1043&fArticleId=3076121

"What exactly is going on at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN)? Is academic freedom really under threat, as has been argued recently?" asks Jane Duncan from the Freedom of Expression Institute. She writes: "At the heart of the problems brewing at the university is a looming contradiction between the university as an organ of state and its stated objectives of being 'critically engaged with society' and '[supporting] social transformation and redress'. This contradiction has found concrete expression in conflict between an increasingly embattled eThekwini municipality and a number of radical-activist scholars located in the university's sociology department and the Centre for Civil Society (CCS)."

Zambia: Drought

http://www.journalism.co.za/modules.php?op=modload &name=News&file=article&sid=3520

The Zambian media has largely ignored the drought that has left more than a million rural Zambians in need of food aid, according to report on irinnews.com. Despite President Levy Mwanawasa's declaration of a national food crisis last year, when harvests failed in parts of southern, eastern and northern Zambia, the national broadcaster, the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC), has not carried any reports on the drought or the starvation it has caused.

Zimbabwe: Radio bosses charged under tough laws

http://www.zwnews.com/issuefull.cfm?ArticleID =13655

Five directors of an independent radio station in Zimbabwe were charged on Tuesday with breaching the country's controversial broadcasting laws, a media watchdog told Agence France-Presse. "Members of the board of directors for the Voice of the People (VOP) radio station appeared in court today on charges of contravening the Broadcasting Services Act," said Nyasha Nyakunu, spokesperson for the Media Institute of Southern Africa.

20. Land and Land Rights

Africa: Assessing options for the tree crop sector


Cocoa, coffee, oil palm and rubber among others are important tree crops for many sub-Saharan countries, but is there more to be gained from these high-value export commodities? This NRI report examines the conditions under which these crops are produced as well as the constraints that can arise - particularly those affecting smallholder farmers. It further reviews the impact of policy and market liberalisation, and suggests that targeted investment and the formation of producer organisations could go a long way to more than doubling the current marketable output.

Africa: Food Security Brief 2005


As the hunger season progresses in Southern Africa, food security in the region continues to deteriorate, especially in those countries where food crop production was insufficient to meet domestic requirements. In more severe cases (as in some parts of Zimbabwe and Malawi), supplies of staple cereals are increasingly unavailable, causing retail food prices to rise steeply and exacerbating food access problems for the most vulnerable households, reports Relief Web.

21. Advocacy and Campaigns

Global: Gender and Media


From 16th February until 8th March 2006, the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) is organising 'Who Makes the News? Three Weeks of Global Action on Gender and the Media. Endorsed by both the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the "Who Makes the News?" campaign aims to promote gender equality in the media by challenging the news media to take substantial and immediate action to ensure that they represent women and men in a fair and balanced way.

22. Internet and Technology

Africa: New publication on ICTs

"Mainstreaming ICTs: Africa Lives the Information Society" is a contribution towards efforts to bridge the "policy-practice" divide. The book is aimed at development practitioners and ICT innovators interested in inventive technology applications for social justice and development. The book contains 10 case studies reflecting on the innovative and creative ways Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have been used to promote people-centred development in a number of Sub-Saharan African countries.

Further details: http://www.pambazuka.org/index.php?id=31436

Kenya: Flashcom bets On wireless fixed phones


If you thought fixed lines had been ousted by mobile phones, think again. In Kenya, Flashcom, a locally owned telecommunications company, has added a sizzle to fixed-line services through wireless connection that supports value-added services offered by the cellphone. The need for cheaper, reliable and stable Internet connectivity has kept up the demand for fixed telephone lines. The success of the information technology sector hinges on the availability of a reliable telecommunication network, especially fixed lines.

Kenya: Group seeks access to Kenya's internet market


A private company that provides wireless high-speed Internet access in Uganda's rural districts is raring to enter the Kenyan market. Bushnet Ltd has been offering Internet services to the country's rural areas, where it commands two-thirds of the market share, a senior manager said. "We are looking at 60 per cent reduction in the price Internet consumers are currently paying in Kenya," said Bushnet Kenya general manager. However, the company is awaiting a licence from the Communications Commission of Kenya, the industry regulator.

Southern Africa: New trends led by Southern Africa


Africa's largest Sub-Saharan Internet sub-region, Southern and Central Africa leads the way with new trends, says a new report out this week. Outside North Africa, Southern and Central Africa has some of the most developed internet country markets on the continent. As a result, a number of trends developing there are beginning to spread across the continent. These are the findings of a new report published by Balancing Act this week.

23. eNewsletters and Mailing Lists

Global: New Eldis Conflict and Security Reporter


Eldis has just launched a new Conflict and Security email bulletin as part of their revised Conflict and Security Resource Guide.

Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe news listserve

The zbz e-list circulates news, opinion, views and events on Zimbabwe. Write to william.sparks@rogers.com if you would like to subscribe.

24. Fundraising and Useful Resources

Africa: CIVICUS 2006 World Assembly call for background papers

CIVICUS seeks to commission four writers to play a leading role in the design, development and drafting of four high-quality Background Papers (one per writer) on each of the sub-themes of the CIVICUS World Assembly, to be held June 21-25, 2006. Within an overarching theme for the event of "Acting Together for a Just World", the four sub-themes to be explored through these papers are social justice, civic justice, economic justice and political justice. The papers are intended to enhance discussions and encourage productive debate at the World Assembly. For more information, see www.civicus.org/new/media/CallforBackgroundPapers20060123.pdf.

Africa: Cultural Survival Voices

The Winter/Spring 2006 edition of Cultural Survival Voices, focusing on the impact of fair trade and indigenous peoples, will be available shortly. In addition to several fair trade theme articles, this issue of Voices will feature an extended "Know Your Rights" pull out section with vital information for indigenous peoples. Voices is available in bundles of 50, in both English and Spanish language editions. If you have access to, or contacts with, indigenous organizations anywhere in the world, and you are able to help with Voices distribution, please send an email with your name and address to: voices@cs.org.

Africa: New fund to connect ecologists


Scientists in Africa and Eastern Europe can now seek support from a new fund to help them research major challenges, such as climate change, desertification and biodiversity loss. The British Ecological Society's (BES) 'capacity building for ecology fund', launched on Monday (16 January), will develop ecological science in the two regions by helping create national and regional associations, according to SciDev.

Africa: New IRIN film available

In the next few days IRIN will be releasing the latest of its short documentary films. The film is titled 'Deadly Catch: Lake Victoria's AIDS Crisis', and tells the story of just one of many communities in Africa still being decimated by the disease. More than 20 years after the discovery of the AIDS virus the basic message of prevention continues to fall on deaf ears in many parts of Africa.

Further details: http://www.pambazuka.org/index.php?id=31441

25. Courses, Seminars, and Workshops

Africa: 'Incubation of ICT Capacity Building' workshops

Invitation For Collaboration

Ungana-Afrika, with the support of OSISA (http://www.osisa.org/), is implementing a series of free workshops in the SADC region that help networks of non-profit organisations understand and implement new models of technology support and capacity-building. In 2006 Ungana-Afrika will implement these 'Incubation of ICT Capacity Building' workshops in two different countries in Southern Africa and we are looking for pro-active local organisations to collaborate with in this regard.

Further details: http://www.pambazuka.org/index.php?id=31440

Nigeria: Sexuality Leadership Development Fellowship

Call For Applications

The Africa Regional Sexuality Resource Centre (ARSRC) calls for applications to its annual Sexuality Leadership Development Fellowship (SLDF) Programme. The Fellowship is scheduled to take place in Lagos, Nigeria from July 10- 28, 2006. The fellowship is designed to catalyse development in the field of sexuality.

Further details: http://www.pambazuka.org/index.php?id=31433

Tanzania: XVII Standing Conference Of Eastern, Central, & Southern African Library & Information Professionals

The XVII Standing Conference of Eastern, Central and Southern African Library and Information Professionals (SCECSAL XVII) will be hosted by the Tanzania Library Association (TLA) in Dar es Salaam on 10-14 July 2006. This conference will bring together some 500 delegates from all over the world, most will be from Africa. SCECSAL's conference and exhibition is the biggest African event for professionals within the library and information sector.

Further details: http://www.pambazuka.org/index.php?id=31448

Uganda: Womens' Lawyers Workshop

The Uganda Association of Women Lawyers (FIDA) in collaboration with International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights (INTERIGHTS) will hold a workshop on Using International Law to Litigate Sexual and Domestic Violence Cases in Kampala from 27- 29 March 2006. The workshop, which will focus on sexual and domestic violence, will consider ways in which such violence can be addressed through litigation, particularly by reference to regional and international instruments and mechanisms.

Further details: http://www.pambazuka.org/index.php?id=31434

26. Jobs

Liberia: Gender Based Violence Program Coordinator

The International Rescue Committee (IRC)


The IRC Liberia GBV program currently implements a holistic set of services to respond to the needs of women who have experienced gender-based violence and works with all actors to minimise their vulnerability to ongoing violence. The GBV Coordinator will be responsible for providing strategic direction, leadership and technical assistance to the national program, developing new initiatives and liaising with key donors and stakeholders and transitioning the program from an emergency response program to one implemented within a community development framework.

South Africa: Program Officer

Population Council


The Frontiers in Reproductive Health Program (FRONTIERS) of the Population Council is seeking an experienced Program Officer to coordinate a research project in Northwest Province on the integration of Family Planning and Voluntary Counseling/Testing (FP/VCT) services.

South Africa: Project Director/Journal Editor



The Agenda Feminist Media Project seeks a full-time Project Director and a full-time Journal Editor, to become integral members of its team, which is dedicated to raising women's voices and discussing women's issues in Africa. The Project Director is responsible for overseeing Agenda's operations, which includes Agenda's quarterly journal publication, website, radio and writing programmes. Past managerial, budgetary and fundraising experience required. The Journal Editor is responsible for conceptualising, commissioning, and editing Agenda's quarterly journal publication.

USA: Public Health Specialist

Oxfam America


This position will deepen the capacity of the Humanitarian Response Team to understand, react to, and support any humanitarian response where public health expertise is needed. The Public Health Specialist will lead Oxfam America's public health response in regions where Oxfam America has leadership or is active and will support Oxfam International emergencies where there is a need for affiliate support. This position will lead assessments and coordination of deployable and regional staff related to public health. In addition, this position will serve as the primary link between Oxfam America and public health technical resources and staff at the Harvard Humanitarian Institute and other strategic allies of Oxfam America in the public health field.

Zambia: Medical Internship



The UAB-affiliated Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ) is accepting applications for our internship program, termed "HIVCorps." Now in its 3rd year, the HIVCorps program sponsors volunteers in HIV prevention, treatment, and research activities in Lusaka, Zambia. Expatriate volunteers - usually pre-medical / medical students, or recent MPH graduates - are paired with Zambian counterparts of similar training and experience and work under a UAB-CIDRZ faculty mentor. This is a one year commitment and we expect to accept 4-6 expatriate volunteers (and a similar number of Zambian volunteers) for the 2006-7 year.

27. Books and Arts

Africa: Developing a normative framework for the protection of IDPs

http://www.transnationalpubs.com/showbook.cfm?bookid =10289

The author presents a systematic review of the role of treaties in international law and seeks to demonstrate that their importance is today somewhat overstated given the extent to which States and other organizations tend to resort to more flexible means of standard-setting in order to promote respect for human rights. As this text demonstrates, the collaboration of various governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental representatives can result in an instrument which may be broader in scope and more progressive in content.

Africa: Gender, Literature and Religion in Africa

Elizabeth Le Roux & Mildred A. J. Ndela Et Al


The Codesria Gender Series aims to invigorate the African social sciences with debates that challenge conventional wisdom, received ideologies and gender stereotypes; and to showcase the best in African gender research. In the patriarchal world-view and male dominated cultures, literature and religion were seen as value-free and neutral, and not considered from a gendered perspective. Today, research is increasingly analysing the gender fault line in literature and religion.

Africa: The Crisis of the State and Regionalism in West Africa

Edited By W. Alade Fawole & Charles Ukeje


This collection of essays critically interrogates the internal dimensions of the identity and citizenship crises at the root of the political crises of states in West Africa, and considers the steps that have been taken thus far to address them. It show the progressive alienation of ordinary people from the state, coupled with factors of historical identity and post-colonial citizenship are at the heart of the political crisis and conflicts in the region; and argues that these matters must be addressed if West African states are to achieve democratic nationhood.

Myths and Realities in the Distribution of Socioeconomic Resources and Political Power in Ethiopia

Kasahun Woldemariam

http://sankofastore.com/catalog/product_info.php?products _id=176

More often than not, the distribution of socioeconomic resources and political power in Ethiopia has been perceived in favor of the Amhara ethnic group. As a result, efforts to help the minority ethnic groups were supported by the invocation of subjective cultural attributes and sometimes, the manufacture of common historical experiences. After the collapse of the military regime, the present regime's misguided and divisive strategies sought to rectify what it believed to be a historically distorted distribution of resources and power in Ethiopia. This strategy led to the division of the country into "ethnic Bantustans" and hindered any real move towards development, democracy, and conflict resolution in Ethiopia. In this new work, author Ka sahun Woldemariam argues that the Amhara were as excluded economically and politically as any other ethnic group in Ethiopia, and that the concept of Amhara domination is a myth. Working from an interdisciplinary theoretical and methodolo gical approach, this book includes over twenty figures and tables on the regional distribution of revenue and expenditure, health and education, manufacturing industries, and parliamentary elections. It is an important resource for scholars and students of African politics and ethnic conflict analysis and resolution as well as policymakers worldwide and Ethiopians in Ethiopia and the Diaspora.


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