Monday, 28 February 2011

Oman protests spread, road to port blocked

Demonstrators blocked roads to a main port in northern Oman and looted a nearby supermarket on Monday, part of protests to demand more jobs and political reform that have spread to the sultanate's capital. Skip related content
A doctor said six people had been killed in clashes between stone-throwing protesters and police on Sunday in the northern industrial town of Sohar. Oman's health minister said one person had been killed and 20 wounded.
Hundreds of protesters blocked access to an industrial area that includes the port, a refinery and aluminium factory. A port spokeswoman said exports of refined oil products of about 160,000 barrels per day (bpd) from the port were unaffected.
"We want to see the benefit of our oil wealth distributed evenly," one protester yelled over a loudhailer near the port. "We want to see a scale-down of expatriates in Oman so more jobs can be created for Omanis."
Peaceful protests spread to other cities, with hundreds gathering outside a state complex in the capital Muscat and elsewhere.
The unrest in Sohar, Oman's main industrial centre, was a rare outbreak of discontent in the normally sleepy sultanate ruled by Sultan Qaboos bin Said for four decades, and follows a wave of pro-democracy protests across the Arab world.
The sultan, trying to calm tensions, on Sunday promised 50,000 jobs, unemployment benefits of $390 a month and to study widening the power of a quasi-parliamentary advisory council.
While hundreds of demonstrators blocked roads near the port, hundreds more were at the main Globe Roundabout, angry after police opened fire on Sunday at protesters.
Police fired tear gas as around 200 protesters near a police building, which demonstrators had set fire to a day earlier.
Graffiti scrawled on a statue said: "The people are hungry." Another message read: "No to oppression of the people."
"There are no jobs, there's no freedom of opinion. The people are tired and people want money. People want to end corruption," said Ali al-Mazroui, 30, who is unemployed.
"We want a change of constitution, an elected government, and ministers standing in the way of development to go," said Zakaria Mharmi, a doctor at Sultan Qaboos Hospital.
"We are also calling for the police not to repeat the violence they demonstrated on Sunday," said Mharmi, who was among around 250 protesters outside the Shura Council building. "Protesters must be peaceful. They are not serving our cause if they are violent."
In Sohar, looters earlier rushed in to scavenge a smouldering supermarket set alight by protesters. Two government buildings were also set ablaze on Sunday.
One woman stacked up singed cartons of eggs, powdered milk, orange juice and cream cheese in the store, while others walked over shattered glass pushing trolleys loaded with food out of the door. The security forces were absent.
"There is no security. I want to live. It's normal," said 28-year-old Youssef, who is unemployed, as he left the market carrying 10 bottles of juice.
The unrest pushed Oman's main stock index 4.9 percent to a seven-month low, its biggest drop in over two years.
Sultan Qaboos, who exercises absolute power in a country where political parties are banned, shuffled his cabinet on Saturday, a week after a small protest in the capital Muscat gave the first hint that Arab discontent could reach Oman.
Mostly wealthy Gulf Arab countries have stepped up reforms to appease their populations following popular unrest that toppled the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt and is threatening Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's grip on power.
Oman is a non-OPEC oil exporter which pumps around 850,000 bpd, and has strong military and political ties to Washington.
Sultan Qaboos appoints the cabinet and in 1992 introduced an elected advisory Shura Council. Protesters have demanded the council be given legislative powers and on Sunday Qaboos ordered a committee to study increasing its authority.

Bahraini protesters move to parliament building


1 hour 41 mins ago
Bahrainis campaigning for democratic reforms in the Gulf Arab state staged a protest outside the U.S. ally's parliament building on Monday, demanding that all its members resign over protester deaths. Skip related content
Seven people were killed and hundreds wounded in protests earlier this month by Bahrainis mainly from the majority Shi'ite Muslim community who complain of repression by the Sunni monarchy and Sunni ruling elite.
"We came to this parliament to say that you represent the people and you represent us -- take an honourable position over the killings by the army," said Mirza al-Shihabi, one of around 500 protesters outside the building in central Manama.
They carried banners complaining of Sunni Muslim foreign nationals employed in the army and police who they say are given nationality and enjoy many benefits.
Bahrain's crown prince, who is leading efforts to launch a dialogue with the Shi'ite opposition, said some opposition groups, who have rejected talks and continued protests, were hurting the economy of the island state, a regional banking hub.
"There are those who do not want reforms and work to stall them by unacceptable means. This disruption has ... started to harm the citizens' interests, damage their economic and living conditions and disrupt life in several areas," said Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, quoted by state media.
"This has harmed ...the banking, financial and economic sectors," the crown prince said.
Rating agencies are considering or have taken action to cut Bahrain's credit ratings following bloody protests this month.
Shi'ites say the government excludes them from jobs, healthcare and other opportunities, a charge the government has denied. They also say the authorities, who are close to Sunni Muslim power Saudi Arabia, have settled Sunnis from other Arab countries and Pakistan in an effort to offset Shi'ite numbers.
"There are Yemenis and Pakistanis in the police force while our children can't get jobs. Everyone in parliament has to resign because they are doing nothing about it," said Umm Jasser, another protester.
Protesters say many Jordanians are also employed.
"Out with the naturalised citizens!" some slogans read.
Members of the Shi'ite Wefaq bloc resigned from parliament over the deaths at nearby Pearl Square, where protesters have since camped out to press their demands for reform. But parliament has little power and the cabinet is appointed by the king and most ministers are from the royal family.
Bahrain's rulers, under pressure from Western allies, have since pledged to allow peaceful protests and offered dialogue. They also released more than 300 people detained since a crackdown on Shi'ite unrest last year and the king reshuffled his cabinet on Saturday, appointing four new ministers.
Hassan Mushaimaa, a dissident from the more hardline Haq movement, returned from London on Sunday saying he was prepared to accept a Western-style constitutional monarchy in the kingdom, a regional banking hub that hosts the U.S. Fifth Fleet.
Some protesters are demanding that the al-Khalifa family quit power. When a man in civilian clothes was seen on the rooftop of the parliament building taking photographs of Monday's protesters, they immediately shouted: "Get out, get out al-Khalifa!" and "The people want the fall of the regime."
The protesters are trying to put more pressure on the government by staging protests around the city, while maintaining their presence at Pearl Square.
On Sunday, some marched to a court building in Manama's commercial district, their deepest foray into the city so far. Referring to the king, they chanted, "Down, down Hamad!"
Tens of thousands of pro-government supporters have also taken to the streets in recent days, saying that reforms launched by Bahrain's king a decade ago have resulted in freedoms and democracy unique in the Gulf Arab region.
(Writing by Andrew Hammond; editing by Myra MacDonald)

Corporate Mercenaries in Somaliland!

Right: Wayne Hermanson, a former officer in the South African National Defence Forces (SANDF) and the founder of a private security company in Somaliland, called Physical Risk Solutions (PRS).

“As the saying goes, old soldiers never die, they fade away. The same can be said about mercenaries, they never die, they simply adapt to a changing world,” wrote Salhani in 2002.

Hundreds of former South African National Defence Forces joined Africa`s booming “mercenary” industry, calling themselves as private security consultants and instructors.

A case in point, Wayne Hermanson is a former officer in the South African Defense Force and worked in Angola in the 1990s, as a “mercenary”. In 2009, Hermanson established a “private security” firm in Hargeysa – called Physical Risk Solutions (PRS). According to local sources, Hermanson has been recruiting clansmen to work as “guards”. Furthermore, Hermanson formed this PRS firm because he is interested in what he could gain from chaos than winning peace.

Historically, white mercenaries fought on behalf of one tribe or the other. Thus, Hermanson and his mercenary`s front office, PRS, cannot be trusted to support for the right cause. Roobdoon Forum is aware that Hargeysa junta wants to get outside help for the filthy clan-war when no country will do it, and Silanyo may have no alternative but Hermanson the mercenary.

Roobdoon Forum offers a criticism against the use of a former SADF officer, which it says can not be regarded as a “private security instructor” but rather as a mercenary.

“As the saying goes, old soldiers never die, they fade away. The same can be said about mercenaries, they never die, they simply adapt to a changing world,” wrote Salhani in 2002. Therefore, the presence of Hermanson in Hargeysa, under the guise of private security expert, may destabilize the northern regions of Somalia. Since clan fighting has already erupted in the region, without a doubt, Hermanson and his staff has already took off their plain clothes and became hired soldiers (mercenaries), zealously protecting the interest of Hargeysa clan militia.

Double Standard

The International Community has been advocating the position that the arms embargo imposed by the UN on Somalia is a solution to end the ongoing civil wars in Somalia. They have, however, not fully abided by it and have shipped weapons in many covert forms – including private security hardware.

The International Community`s double standard can be noticed, in its most vivid and repugnant form, when the issue concerns Hargeysa Administration.

There is no question that there are enough evidences to proof arms embargo being breached [See United Nations S/2010/91]. Neighbouring countries, however, have numerous times issued denials that they are arming different armed groups in Somalia.

Some countries and stakeholders are obviously adopting their double standards for a reason. For instance, Hargeysa Administration has always been seen as an important obstacle to the realization of Somalia Proper. Hargeysa Administration is the only local Administration in Somalia which has declared its secessionist agenda. Therefore, there are rumors circulating in Somalia that some countries resorted to this double standard in order to instigate and encourage secessionist movements in northern Somalia.

South Africa`s Shady Engagements in Somali Affairs

In May 2002, Somaliland`s leader, Mohamed Ibrahim Egal fell ill and flew to Pretoria, South Africa for receiving treatment. Egal was admitted to One Military Hospital in Pretoria and died there, as a result of surgery complications.

To illustrate the shady relationship between South Africa and Hargeysa Administration, Pretoria allowed Hargeysa Administration to open an office in South Africa. In addition, Dahir Riyale has once stated that “Ethiopia has said it will be second to recognise Somaliland. We are searching for number one”.

Iqbal Jhazbhay, who is the informal South African lobbyist (but writes and publishes a pro-Hargeysa argument), has appealed Hargeysa`s case to Pretoria. However, Jhazbhay`s cause met a highly significant defeat from Pretoria, although he kept trying again and again to revive Hargeysa`s futile ambitions. Usually lobbyists are salespersons whose trademark are selling fear from something (i.e. fear of terrorism etc). What is unusual about Jhazbhay is that he lobbies for aggression and the subjugation of a large number of Somalis in the north by a small clique in Hargeysa. He is volunteering (probably with pay, as mercenaries do) to be an instrumental in facilitating the outbreak of a long clan warfare in the northern parts of Somalia.

Therefore, the recent South Africa`s covert relation with the secessionists is grossly incompatible with African Union`s supposed dedication to its charter, particularly “the inviolability of colonial borders”.

The Current Wars in the North

The Sool, Sanaag, and Cayn Resistance army have recently accused Hargeysa junta of using mercenaries to attack their regions. The resistance commanders believe that the latest aggressions from Hargeysa were orchestrated by the so-called “private Security experts”. That is, Silanyo is counting on men like Wayne Hermanson to carry out the eradication of the anti-secessionist natives of SSC regions. One SSC native said to the Forum that “Officials from UNPOS and AU are sweepingly hypocritical”, pointing at their silence in the face of the recent Hargeysa aggression against civilians in Buuhoodle district. He ruled out the idea of “Somaliland recognition” and concluded his statement with “We are fighting for the liberation of our regions from the secessionists, not to profit from aggression as some South African mercenaries earn their living from chaos”.

Saracen Out and “Physical Risk Solutions” Still In!

Last year, Villa Somalia was contemplating the idea of relying on private security firms that provide security services in an unstable environment, since it failed to win over hearts and minds of enough local troops. Subsequently, the Somali Information Minister Abdikarim Hasan Jama announced last

DEG DEG: Al-Shabaab oo Galabta Madaafiic Ku Duqeysay Madaxtooyada Villa Soomaaliya

Muqdisho (RBC) Ku dhawaad 5 gantaal oo lagu tilmaamay inay ahaayeen gantaalada hoobiyaha iyo kuwa qoriga Jeap-ka oo ay soo rideen dagaalyahanada xarakada Shabaab ayaa galabta ku dhacday agagaaraha xarunta madaxtooyada ee Villa Soomaaliya.
Ilo wareedyo ku dhow madaxtooyada ayaa RBC Radio u sheegay in madaafiicda qaar ka mid ah ay dul habsadeen tiyaatarkii hore ee National Theatre iyo xaafada Ex-fiyoore oo ku dhow madaxtooyada.
Hase yeeshee labo ka mid ah gantaaladii ay so tuureen Shabaabka ayaa u gudbay dhinaca qarsiga madaxtooyada, waxaana la soo sheegayaa in ay ku dheceen gudaha xarunta madaxtooyada.
Dad goob joogayaal ah ayaa sheegay inay maqlayeen jugta culus ee madaafiicdaasi oo ka imaaneysay dhanka Bakaaraha iyadoo qiiq uu qariyey meelihii ay ku dheceen.
Lama oga khasaaraha ay geysteen madaafiicda Shabaab ku soo duqeysay madaxtooyada DKMG oo ay si aad ah u ilaaliyaan ciidanka Amisom ee Muqdisho jooga.
Xaafada Ex-fiyoore iyo Tiyaatarkii hore ayaa ah goob dad barakcayaa;l ah ah ay ku nool yihiin waxana l ogeyn in wax khasaare ah ay geysteen madaafiicdaasi.
Saraakiisha DKMG inta badan kama hadlaan marka ay sidan oo kale madaafiic Shabaabka ku soo duqeeyaan qarsiga madaxtooyada oo ah halka ay ku sugan yihiin masuuliyiinta ugu sareysa DKMG.
Waxaana marka sisan oo kale ay Shabaabku madaafiic soo tuuran ka dambeeya duqeymo culus oo jawaab celin ah oo ay geystaan Amisom.
RBC Radio
Xafiiska wararka Muqdisho

Gaddafi: My people will die to protect me

Embattled Libyan leader says West abandoned his government; claims demonstrators under influence of drugs supplied by Qaeda

Omanis confront police at protester deaths

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By Simeon Kerr in Sohar, Oman
Published: February 28 2011 10:32 | Last updated: February 28 2011 19:16
Thousands of Omani protesters confronted police in the industrial port of Sohar on Sunday after witnesses reported that two protesters had been killed in clashes with security forces.
The small Gulf state, a close ally of the UK, is the latest country to be rocked by the wave of youth-driven democracy movements that have spread through the region since the fall of the Tunisian and Egyptian leaders.
The flare-up follows rising tensions in Bahrain, where pro-democracy protests have shaken the country for the past two weeks, prompting states such as Saudi Arabia to offer citizens billions of dollars’ worth of benefits in an attempt to ward off unrest.
Sultan Qaboos bin Said al-Said, Oman’s ruler, reshuffled the cabinet at the weekend. But this failed to placate protesters in central Sohar. “We want all these ministers to go,” said one demonstrator. “They are thieves.”
The protesters, who had gathered at a central Sohar roundabout on Saturday to demand better economic prospects, say police broke up the demonstration in the middle of the night, arresting more than 45 people.
Clashes broke out on Sunday morning as thousands of masked youths returned to bolster the numbers on the roundabout.
As dusk was falling, police fired teargas, dispersing hundreds of youths who were approaching the gates of the central police station from the roundabout.
“This is our Pearl,” said one protester, referring to Pearl Square in Manama, the focal point for democracy protests in Bahrain. Youths from neighbouring towns have arrived in Sohar to join the protests.
Smaller demonstrations have been staged in other parts of Oman, including the capital Muscat, but none has erupted into violence.
Witnesses said anger at the deaths of two demonstrators could see the unrest swell. “We will go and get our guns now,” said one.
Oman has only modest oil and gas reserves, but its industrial and services economy has survived the financial crisis better than some of its neighbours.
However, dissatisfaction persists. “There is no work, and even those with jobs have salaries that aren’t enough,” said Mohammed Said, one of the protesters.
“We just need jobs,” said Saeed al-Baloushi, a resident of Sohar who, in the absence of work at home, has for the past three years been a policeman in neighbouring Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
Police cars were stationed at key roundabouts in the city on Monday and some main roads were closed.
Three burnt-out vehicles could be seen near the protesters, some of whom threw stones and Molotov cocktails at police, according to witnesses.
The demonstrators also set up barricades on the roads near the roundabout, which one said they had renamed “Reform Square”

Mubarak's wife, son prevented from boarding plane

CAIRO (AP) — Airport officials said authorities prevented the wife and son of ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak from flying out of the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh hours before authorities banned the Mubarak family from traveling abroad.
The officials said Monday that Mubarak's wife, Suzanne, and son Gamal tried to board a private jet Sunday at the airport in Sharm el-Sheikh, where they have been staying since Mubarak stepped down on Feb. 11.
Authorities told them they cannot leave without special permission.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
On Monday, Egypt's top prosecutor seized all the funds of Mubarak and his family and banned them from traveling abroad.
It was not clear whether the ban was issued because they tried to leave.

Ashanti Not Neglected

Vice-President John Dramani Mahama has stated that the government has not neglected the Ashanti Region as some people seek to portray.

He said Kumasi, which is one of the very important cities in the country, would be supported to showcase its beauty and develop its potential.

He noted that some ongoing development projects in the Kumasi metropolis and other parts of the region had faced some setbacks due to financial constraints and that the government was seriously looking for funds to continue them.

Mr Mahama said this in Kumasi at the weekend after he joined a number of volunteers, non-governmental organisations and staff of Zoomlion in a massive clean-up exercise in the central business district of the city.

The Vice President, accompanied by the Ashanti Regional Minister, Dr Kwaku Agyeman Mensah, and the Kumasi Metropolitan Chief Executive, Mr Samuel Sarpong, led the volunteers to de-silt choked gutters and remove refuse at Adum.

The exercise formed part of preparations towards the 54th anniversary of Ghana’s independence.

Addressing the volunteers after the exercise, Mr Mahama said the government was committed to ensuring that national resources were distributed evenly.

He added that that was why every effort was being made to complete ongoing development projects in Kumasi.
He said Ghana continued to be a model for Africa in democratic practice, peace and stability and promised that everything would be done to ensure a peaceful general election in 2012 “to demonstrate our commitment to the democratic process in the country”.

The Vice President said contrary to the perception that there would be trouble in the sixth election in Ghana’s Fourth Republic, the election would pass off successfully and without any rancour.

He stressed the need for residents of Kumasi to contribute to the beautification of the city by organising regular clean-up exercises there.

Mr Mahama said regular clean-up exercises would promote healthy lives and sound environment.

Dr Agyeman-Mensah, for his part, expressed worry over the indiscriminate disposal of refuse in the city and called on residents of Kumasi to desist from negative acts which undermined the development of the city and affected the health of residents.

He also stressed the need for joint efforts to tidy up the city.

Mr Sarpong thanked the volunteers for their response to the call to undertake the clean-up exercise and called for the continuous demonstration of the communal sprit to ensure cleanliness in the city.

Nana Addo Has Unsurpassed Record Of Violence And Belligerence

Read ths from Ghana Institute of Journalism


the rough fishermen of the so-called Somali coast guard are unrepentant criminals,
yes, but they’re more than that. They’re innovators. Where earlier sea bandits were satisfied to
make off with a dinghy full of booty, pirates who prowl northeast Africa’s Gulf of Aden hold captured
ships for ransom. This strategy has been fabulously successful: The typical payoff today is
100 times what it was in 2005, and the number of attacks has skyrocketed. ¶ Like any business,
Somali piracy can be explained in purely economic terms. It flourishes by exploiting the incentives
that drive international maritime trade. The other parties involved—shippers, insurers, private
security contractors, and numerous national navies—stand to gain more (or at least lose less) by
tolerating it than by putting up a serious fight. As for the pirates, their escalating demands are a
method of price discovery, a way of gauging how much the market will bear. ¶ The risk-and-reward
calculations for the various players arise at key points of tension: at the outset of a shipment, when
a vessel comes under attack, during ransom negotiations, and when a deal is struck. As long as
national navies don’t roll in with guns blazing, the region’s peculiar economics ensure that most
everyone gets a cut. ¶ All of which makes daring rescues, like the liberation in April of the
do may become more frequent
as public pressure builds to deep-six the brigands. However, the story of the
captured on September 15, 2008, is more typical. Here’s how it played out, along with the cold,
hard numbers that have put the Somali pirate business model at the center of a growth industryRead More
Maersk’s captain, the exception rather than the rule. Such derring-Stolt Valor,

Yemen's opposition rejects call for national unity government

Sana'a, Feb 28 (DPA) Yemen's main opposition party Monday rejected an invitation from President Ali Abdullah Saleh to join a national unity government.
Saleh made the call during a meeting with prominent preachers and religious leaders, the official Saba news agency reported.

The creation of a national unity government is part of an eight-point plan proposed by Saleh as a response to protesters demanding his resignation.

But the main opposition party, Islah, said it would not participate in any government and would 'stick to the demands of the people'.

'The crisis now is not between the regime and the opposition. It is between the regime and the people,' Islah assistant secretary-general Muhammad al-Saadi told DPA.

'This offer is not new,' al-Saadi said. 'And we have already given our response, this is not the solution for the crisis.'

Islah leads a group of opposition parties grouped under the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) alliance.

The JMP is organising a 'Day of Rage' for Thursday to demand the ouster of Saleh and to protest against the violent response by the police towards anti-Saleh protests in the south.

At least 13 people have been killed in clashes between police and anti-government protesters in the past week.

During the latest clashes Friday, five protesters and a policeman were killed in the southern port city of Aden, while 23 others -including four policemen - were injured.

Why a king's ransom is not enough for Saudi Arabia's protesters

No kingdom is an island, particularly when it sits in a sea of revolution. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, watching the assault on Libya's strong man Muammar Gaddafi with his monarchy's usual complacency, thinks he can buy off protests with the promise of gifts.
Of course, the scale of the bribes the king offered last week to his country's alienated young generation – £22bn – is something only an oil-rich monarch could deliver. The Saudi king speaks as a father to the youthful population – after all, this is the only royal family to give its name to its people – and he expects them to obey the name al-Saud as they would their own father.
But the king has compromised his authority by combining it with the role of "sugar daddy". Nowhere else are subjects promised such largesse to not rock the boat.
Throughout the Arab awakening that began in Tunisia, the 86-year-old monarch and several of his elderly royal brothers have watched the turmoil across the Arab world convinced that the traditional pillars of their political control would see them through: oil revenues, US protection and custodianship of the holy places.
But Abdullah's kingdom is surrounded by waves of revolutionary rage lapping at the fortress: Yemen in the south, Bahrain in the east, Egypt, Tunisia and Libya in the west. Even the usually docile kingdom of Jordan is racked by the spectre of change. Saudi Arabia's royals have no doubt been shaken to their core by these disturbances and feel threatened by the successive, swift revolutions that have put paid to their cronies in Cairo and Tunis. How is it possible, they ask, for a few hundred shahids [martyrs], in just two to three weeks, to bring down their fellow autocrats so quickly?
The Saudi royals want to both resist and buy off these demands for political change. But the problem is that they do not grasp what their people are demanding. The internet, Facebook, Youtube and Twitter are all strangers to men raised in an age when the telephone was a novelty. That some 70% of the kingdom's population is under 30 compounds the problem.Read More

Special report - Cables detail Saudi royal welfare programme


By Simon Robinson

LONDON (Reuters) - When Saudi King Abdullah arrived home last week, he came bearing gifts: handouts worth $37 billion (22.8 billion pounds), apparently intended to placate Saudis of modest means and insulate the world's biggest oil exporter from the wave of protest sweeping the Arab world.

But some of the biggest handouts over the past two decades have gone to his own extended family, according to unpublished American diplomatic cables dating back to 1996.

The cables, obtained by WikiLeaks and reviewed by Reuters, provide remarkable insight into how much the vast royal welfare program has cost the country -- not just financially but in terms of undermining social cohesion.

Besides the huge monthly stipends that every Saudi royal receives, the cables detail various money-making schemes some royals have used to finance their lavish lifestyles over the years. Among them: siphoning off money from "off-budget" programmes controlled by senior princes, sponsoring expatriate workers who then pay a small monthly fee to their royal patron and, simply, "borrowing from the banks, and not paying them back."

As long ago as 1996, U.S. officials noted that such unrestrained behaviour could fuel a backlash against the Saudi elite. In the assessment of the U.S. embassy in Riyadh in a cable from that year, "of the priority issues the country faces, getting a grip on royal family excesses is at the top."

Read More

Gaddafi's sons tried to get Saudi cleric help - TV

* Gaddafi sons fail to get support of Saudi cleris - TV
* Cleric urges Libyan government to "Fear God"

DUBAI, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Sons of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi have failed to persuade prominent Saudi clerics to issue religious rulings against a revolt that is threatening to bring down the veteran leader, Al Arabiya television said on Monday.
The Saudi-owned channel said on its website that Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam had contacted one cleric, Salman al-Awda, and Saadi Gaddafi had reached out to a second, Ayedh al-Garni, but both rejected their calls.
"You are killing the Libyan people. Turn to God because you are wronging them. Protect Libyan blood, you are killing old people and children. Fear God," Garni said he told Saadi.
Garni made the remarks on air on Sunday, the website said, adding Awda gave the same message to Saif al-Islam.
Awda has a weekly television show on Saudi-owned pan-Arab channel MBC1 and has been praised by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden before as a religious scholar he felt did not toe the government line. Garni gave lectures in Libya last year.
Gaddafi's forces have been trying for days to push back a revolt that has won over large parts of the military and ended his control over eastern Libya. Gaddafi has accused followers of al Qaeda of staging the protests in the east, where Islamists have clashed with government forces in the past.
Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and the ruling al-Saud family see the clerical establishment, who have wide powers in society, as the leading authority in mainstream Sunni Islam.
The world's top oil exporter is nervous that protests sweeping the region, which have included its neighbours Bahrain, Oman and Yemen, could ignite dissent on its own territory.
Activists have set up Facebook pages calling for protests on March 11 and 20 in Saudi Arabia. These have attracted over 17,000 supporters combined. Last week King Abdullah, a close U.S. ally, ordered wage rises for Saudi citizens along with other benefits in an apparent bid to insulate the kingdom from the wave of protests.
Gaddafi has long been an unpopular figure in Saudi Arabia, which once accused him of plotting to assassinate the king.
Clerics close to the government have said it is not the place of religious scholars to back protests or otherwise. But others have said Gaddafi is an illegitimate ruler and denounced him as an apostate.
(Reporting by Andrew Hammond, editing by Mark Trevelyan)

The Chinese Navy, Zambian Copper, and Libya

What does a shooting in Zambia have to do with a Chinese warship steaming into the Mediterranean this week in an unprecedented display of the new P.L.A. Navy?
Two Chinese mining managers in Zambia are scheduled to go on trial for attempted murder next month, accused of shooting and wounding thirteen miners during a 2008 riot over wages at a Chinese-owned coal mine. That riot, in October, 2010, was followed last month by another burst of unrest in Zambia when hundreds of miners at NFCA Mining, in a long-running dispute with Chinese management, burned and vandalized company vehicles and shattered windows. It is all part of a low boil of unrest that has persisted over the past few years, as Chinese-owned enterprises have injected money into Zambia’s mining sector.
Zambia is hardly the only place that Chinese ventures have encountered security trouble in recent years. According to a tally published last August in a valuable report by the security analysts Andrew Erickson and Gabe Collins, of China Signpost, seven Chinese oil workers in Ethiopia were killed during an attack on Ethiopian forces guarding a Sinopec facility in April 2007; nine Chinese oil workers were taken hostage in Sudan in 2008, and five died in a rescue attempt. And four Chinese workers died during bomb blasts at a dam construction site in northern Burma’s Kachin state last April.
At least five million Chinese citizens are working around the world today, up more than forty per cent since 2005, and more than any time since the founding of the People’s Republic. Erickson and Collins predicted last August that “China’s ongoing anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden is arguably the first step in overseas military deployments to protect PRC citizens working overseas.” Sure enough, last week brought the news that China has dispatched the frigate Xuzhou from off the coast of Somalia to steam to the Libyan coast to help evacuate members of the roughly thirty thousand Chinese citizens in Libya. The move has attracted widespread attention because it was a dramatic demonstration of how the Chinese government intends to use its expanding naval power around the world.
American and British vessels have been evacuating their civilians from hotspots around the world for decades, but its now abundantly clear that we should acclimate to an age in which China will be doing the same. In Zambia, where Chinese investment has been cheered by the government, but also stoked repeated flare-ups from critics and workers, it’s easy to envision a scenario in which shots fired into a crowd trigger not simply a courtroom drama, but a larger backlash against the Chinese presence.
China is still getting accustomed to having so people working in dangerous—but profitable—places. The first time it ever faced a civilian evacuation was just eleven years ago, when a hundred and twenty Chinese citizens found themselves in the middle of ethnic tensions in the Solomon Islands. In that case, China rustled up a cargo ship and some flights, but it was a decidedly novice operation; a key part of the evacuation plan involved getting the telephone number of the local rebel chief to figure out which part of the city would be safest through which to pass. As Erickson and Collins noted last summer, “Apparently the PLAN”—the Chinese Navy—“may have been asked to send a vessel but was unable to do so.” What a difference a decade makes

Zambia Investigates Glencore Unit's Accountants on `Flawed' Tax Submission

The Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants may punish the accountants of Mopani Copper Mines Plc, a unit of Glencore International AG, if they were complicit in “flawed” tax submissions.
“We need maximum cooperation from the company and if those interviewed are found wanting, necessary punitive measures shall be imposed,” Chintu Mulendema, president of the association, known as Zica, said by phone on Feb. 26 from Lusaka, the capital. Their practising licenses could be suspended, he said.
There may have been “irregularities” in the company’s tax submissions for the 2008 fiscal year, Wisdom Nekairo, the director general of the Zambia Revenue Authority, said on Feb. 13. The southern African nation, Africa’s largest copper producer, hired Grant Thornton Zambia and Econ Poyry, a Norwegian consulting and engineering company, in February 2009 to audit mining companies operating in the country Nekairo said. They produced a preliminary report in November.
Emmanuel Mutati, Mopani’s chief executive officer, didn’t answer calls or respond to messages on his mobile phone when Bloomberg News called for comment. The findings in the report are preliminary and the report is “flawed,” Mopani said in a statement in the state-owned Times of Zambia on Feb. 25.
Zambia plans to produce about 2 million tons of copper by 2015, according to Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane. The southern African country earns about 70 percent of its foreign currency from copper exports, according to the Central Bank of Zambia.
To contact the reporter on this story: Anthony Mukwita in Lusaka at
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at

Angola might quit least developed countries - Minister

Angolan Foreign minister, Georges Chikoty
Angolan Foreign minister, Georges Chikoty

Luanda – The Republic of Angola might detach itself from the group of the least developed countries within one to two years, as a result of the huge investments the Government has been making in health and education, Angop learned.

The information was released over the weekend by Angolan Foreign minister, Georges Chikoty.

The minister was speaking on account of his recent participation at the UN sponsored Ministerial Conference on Least Developed Countries, in New Deli, India, at the invitation of local authorities. The event also served to prepare the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the group, set for Istanbul (Turkey), in May 2011.

At the meeting, the least developed countries discussed how to carry out south-south cooperation in the search of solutions to respond to the millennium goals.

According to the minister, Angola is among the least developed countries, but might quit this category within one to two years, as a result of the huge investments the Government has been making in health and education, concerning human development.

He said as well Angola has taken the commitment to overcome this goal as human development is where the country is more in disadvantage.

DR Congo attack was launched by 'about 100 fighters'

KINSHASA — Around 100 fighters were behind simultaneous attacks Sunday on the home of the Democratic Republic of Congo president and an army base that left about a dozen people dead, officials said.
One of those arrested after the assault carried a DR Congo military identity card and was a former opposition member, a government spokesman said Monday, as a UN official said some of the group may have arrived from neighbouring Republic of Congo.
The men who launched the brazen lunchtime attack, which officials have said was an attempted coup, were armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles, rocket launchers, machetes and bows and arrows, the government spokesman said.
About 100 attackers split into two groups to storm President Joseph Kabila's home in the capital Kinshasa and the army's logistical base at Kokolo further south, the UN source said separately, citing security forces.
Kabila's presidential guard killed 10 of the attackers and around 30 were arrested, 16 of them on Sunday night, the UN source said on condition of anonymity.
Five Congolese soldiers were also killed, he said.
Government spokesman Lambert Mende told AFP seven attackers were killed at Kabila's residence but could not confirm deaths at the army camp. A military source said he had seen six bodies at the site.
Mende said that a soldier of Kabila's Republican Guard was badly wounded and his life was in danger.
Mende had said Sunday that Kabila had been at his home on the banks of the Congo River at the time of the attack but said Monday that the 49-year-old president had actually left a little earlier.
Authorities were still trying to establish the identities of the attackers but Mende said one of those arrested carried a military identity card and was a former member of the main opposition party, the Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC).
The party is led by former vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba, who is on trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague for crimes allegedly committed by his troops in the neighbouring Central African Republic in 2002.
The MLC did not want to comment to AFP.
The UN source said the attackers may have come from Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo just across the river.
They may have crossed the river just before Sunday's attack or infiltrated the capital earlier, he said.
"There are going to be round-ups of opponents to lay all this on the opposition," the UN source said.
Kabila is the first democratically-elected president of the vast mineral-rich country, beating Bemba at the ballot box in 2006.
He was first appointed to the presidency when his father, Laurent Kabila, was assassinated by his bodyguards on January 18, 2001 in another presidential residence as war raged across the country.
His mandate expires this year and presidential elections have been set for November 27.

Kenyan killed in Congo gold smuggling probe

NAIROBI (Reuters) - A senior Kenyan official has been shot dead while investigating gold smuggling from eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenyan police said on Monday.
Eric Kiraithe, a police spokesman, said the man was an official at Kenya's Revenue Authority.
"We have not arrested any suspects involved in gold smuggling but we have identified three Kenyans who are part of the cartels involved in gold smuggling," he said.
Police commissioner Matthew Iteere told reporters an investigation had been launched into the shooting.
Kenyan media said the official was shot by four armed men at the weekend while he was sitting in his car, waiting for the gate to his house to be opened.
They said he was leading the investigation into the discovery of two and a half tonnes of gold worth about $100 million.
An unnamed official in Democratic Republic of Congo's North Kivu province told Reuters last week that "large amounts" of gold from eastern Congo had been recovered in Nairobi and Tanzania's Dar es Salaam.
Congo's government has not confirmed the smuggling.
Three provinces in Congo's east are subject to a mining ban imposed last year by President Joseph Kabila to weed out what he called the "mafia groups" controlling the mineral trade.
A United Nations report published last year said the gold trade in North and South Kivu provinces was worth around $160 million per year, with at least 80 percent of it smuggled illegally out of the country.
Earlier this month seven foreigners were arrested in the eastern city of Goma on suspicion of trying to smuggle hundreds of kilograms of gold from the country.

Global economic recovery has impacted positively on Nigeria – Aganga


The Minister of Finance, Dr. Olusegun Aganga has said that  global economic recovery has impacted positively on Nigerian economy.
He stressed that the momentum of recovery sustained in 2010, although has been uneven and unbalanced but the prospects recorded was better for emerging economies like Nigeria.
Dr. Olusegun Aganga made the disclosure during the 2011 budget review session organised by the Institute of Directors Nigeria (IoD) at the Weekend,  said “ the Nigerian economic growth strategy focuses on enhancing growth, sustaining macroeconmic stability and diversifying the economic base.
Nigeria has the lowest  depth  ratio among  its peers which is a step in the right direction,  if the country’s economy is compared to its peers, it still has a big fiscal strength, and the country’s GDP stood at 16.80% which shows that it is low compared to its peers”.
He advanced that plans are going on to stimulate the real sector of the economy and infrastructure with access to cheap and long term capital.
“Global economic recovery is strengthening but there are downside risks mostly from global imbalances.
“Nigeria is a big country with all the resources it needs, the idea of one or two project every year is not ideal, we hope that in the next four years there will be transformation because the President is campaigning for transformation”
Continuing further, President of the Institute, Mr. Chike Nwanze commended the general theme behind the budget- a new focus on employment generation and creation of a national job creation scheme.
“We are aware and commend the Minster, for setting up an expert committee to review the pattern of spending and recommend ways of addressing the continuing concern about the quantum of recurrent expenditure visa-vis capital spending in Nigeria”
However, Nwanze urged the Minister to speed up the work of the committee and the implementation of its recommendations.
According to him, dealing with the recurrent expenditure in Nigeria entails not just a radical public sector reform and rationalisation of ministries, departments and agencies of the federal and state government, but a fundamental re-orientation of the purpose, structure and processes of governance in Nigeria.
Stressing further, he condemn the system that creates a new agency for every problem; that allocates resources of government, including people and financial resources in a clearly inefficient manner and that throws money around in a way that would be inconceivable in efficient private sector organisation.
He said “In this regard, we commend the increased allocations to education  8.08 per cent, and health 5.58 per cent in the 2011 budget. It is also commendable that relatively high budgetary allocations were also devoted to power, works and transportation”.

Outrage in Nigeria over celebrations of Bode George's release from prison

Anger and critiicism has trailed celebrations in Nigeria of Bode George's release from prison on Saturday after serving two years in jail for mismanaging funds of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) while chairman of the board. Bode George was met at the prison by hundreds of supporters and members of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) and he left in a convoy of vehicles to the Cathedral Church of Christ in Marina, where a thanksgiving service was held for him.

Members of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) including former president, Olusegun Obasanjo; the minister of defence, Adetokunbo Kayode and Ogun State governor, Gbenga Daniel, ex-governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose, etc were all present at the thanksgiving service. A reception was also planned in his honour.

Reacting, the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, said that celebrations by PDP showed that the party is disposed to corruption and greed and added, “PDP’s action sends a wrong signal to Nigerian youths that it is alright to steal or mismanage public funds, since it can even turn them into a hero like Bode George.

There is nothing wrong in rehabilitating a prisoner. But turning an occasion that calls for penitence and soberness to a carnival of sorts is a disservice to Nigeria, and a clear signal that the wobbly anti-corruption war of the Goodluck Jonathan administration is finally dead. It also ridicules Nigeria in the eyes of the world. Some clowns are now comparing him to Obafemi Awolowo or Nelson Mandela.

Let us remind Nigerians that partly because of Bode George’s grand larceny, it now takes five times the number of time it should take to clear a container; while the Apapa port can hardly handle some ocean-going vessels bringing in imported fuel, thus heightening the possibility of fuel scarcity.

This is the man for whom a party, PDP, seeking the votes of Nigerians in April’s general elections pulled all the stops to give a hero’s welcome from Kirikiri Maximum Prison. This is the man whom serving ministers of a government that is supposed to be fighting corruption besieged Lagos to welcome.”

“This is the man for whom the President‘s campaign coordinator for the South-West, Governor Gbenga Daniel, standing in for his boss, turned up in Lagos with fanfare to receive. Nowhere in the world is this kind of action possible, except in Nigeria. And no party is capable of this theatre of the absurd except the PDP,”

In a statement, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, the presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) criticised ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo for attending the celebrations and said, "The reception is shameful and condemnable. It shows that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its leadership are immune to shame, that is why they will roll out drums for an ex-convict like Bode George.

“It is only in this clime that this kind of thing happens. If a former President, who claimed to be fighting corruption will go to receive a convicted felon, it shows that the PDP and its leaders have perverted values. They have destroyed our moral values.

If we don’t stop PDP at the polls, our children will not know the right from the wrong and the poor will continue to suffer. It is condemnable, Nigerians must rise to stop the PDP.”

In its reaction, the PDP said, "The ACN is envying the victory of our leader over their planned evil machinations and their ally. It is our belief that he did not commit any offence to warrant sending him to jail at all. He was never adjudged to have stolen any money.

His offence was a misdeamenor, that is, he was said to have disobeyed a constituted authority, an offence which should attracted probably a fine. So, we felt he was being prosecuted and persecuted. Apart from this, I must tell you, the conspirators thought that the election will hold in January, they clandestinely ensured that his sentence fell within January, when they hoped the electioneering process must have been completed. But things changed, I know, Chief Bode George is an important figure in the PDP in Lagos, the south-west and in Nigerian in general.”

You can see the number of the party leaders and those who are not partisan that attended his thanksgiving yesterday. This is a testimony that they trust him and believe in his good character. So, what they are saying is unjustifiable and it is an arrant nonsense.”

Bode George, ex- PDP deputy chairman released, after 2 yrs in jail for inflating contracts

Nigerian police kill alleged financier of radical Muslim sect accused of multiple killings

Nigerian police kill alleged financier of radical Muslim sect accused of multiple killings
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria — Police say they've killed a man suspected of funding a radical Muslim sect responsible for dozens of recent killings in northern Nigeria.
The Borno State police chief told The Associated Press on Monday that authorities had killed Salifu Damaturu, who was believed to be a financier of the radical Muslim sect known as Boko Haram.
Mohammed Abubakar said Damaturu and five others were fatally shot Feb. 20 after they engaged police in a gun battle.
Abubakar said the man who led police there had confessed to getting money from Damaturu to buy arms from neighbouring Chad and Cameroon.
Police accuse Boko Haram of a rash of motorcycle-mounted attacks that have left dozens dead since July.

Uganda presidential term extension plan draws flak

Mon Feb 28, 2011 2:29pm GMT

By Barry Malone
KAMPALA (Reuters) - A member of Uganda's government has proposed lengthening the presidential term to seven from five years a week after President Yoweri Museveni extended his 25-year-rule in a disputed election.
The opposition, which says the election was a sham, condemned the proposal and branded state minister James Kakooza as "puppet" of the president.
Kakooza successfully proposed a motion to scrap a two-term presidential limit in 2005, allowing Museveni to run again.
"The president has a manifesto but you waste two years looking for re-election," Kakooza told Reuters on Monday. "Is it practical that you can implement a manifesto in two years? Seven years would be more time to deliver better service to the people."
Museveni, one of Africa's longest serving leaders, was handed 68 percent of the vote by the electoral commission last week with closest rival Kizza Besigye trailing on 26 percent.
Besigye, a former ally of Museveni, says the poll was flawed by bribery, ballot box stuffing and intimidation and has called for peaceful protests.
Kakooza said he would also propose reinstating the two-term limit. If passed, his proposals would come into effect in 2016 when the country is due to vote again, he added.
Opposition politicians slammed the proposal on television and in newspapers and some said the proposal was an attempt to extend the president's rule by 14 years.
Museveni has said it is up to his National Resistance Movement party to decide whether he will run again in 2016, by which time Uganda is expected to be a top-50 oil producer.
Once hailed as a democrat, Museveni has been criticised over moves -- including the initial scrapping of presidential terms limits -- that opponents say signal the 67-year-old wants to be president for life.
Kakooza denied the proposal was an attempt to extend Museveni's rule "I'm not working for Museveni," he said. "I'm working for a system of good governance. Anybody could win the elections in 2016."
In an interview with the country's Daily Monitor newspaper on Monday, Besigye, Museveni's field doctor during a five-year civil war that thrust the president to power, said he would not rule out an armed revolt against Museveni.
"I have never ruled out the use of arms to remove a dictatorship," Besigye told the newspaper.
"The reason we are saying we should not go to war now is because we think there are still other avenues to bring the country back on the path of constitutional rule."

Harar, Ethiopia: Two months in Africa's City of Saints

y Sean McLachlan (RSS feed) on Feb 28th 2011 at 9:00AM
Ethiopia, ethiopia, Harar, hararWhat makes an adventure traveler return to a place he's been before? When so many other destinations beckon, why spend two months in a town you've already seen?

Because there's so much more to see. Harar, in eastern Ethiopia between the lush central highlands and the Somali desert, can take a lifetime to understand. For a thousand years it's been a crossroads of cultures, where caravans from the Red Sea met Central African merchants, where scholars and poets have traded ideas, where a dozen languages are heard in the streets.

Harar's influence spread wide in those early days. Harari coins have been found in India and China, and a couple of my Harari friends have subtly Chinese features.

The Harari have always mixed with other tribes. Some say if you live within the medieval walls of the Jugol, the old city, and follow Harari ways, that you are one of them. Hararis have their own language spoken only by the Jugol's 20,000 residents, yet this language has created literature, poetry, and song for centuries. As Harar faces the new millennium, a dedicated group of artists and intellectuals are working to preserve and add to this heritage Read More

Libya and Ethiopia Reveal Iran’s Military Strategy

What is the immediate future of Libya and Ethiopia? We must go to the Bible for the answer—you will find it no place else.
Just look at what has happened in the first couple of months of this year: 1) The Tunisian government has fallen, probably into the hands of the radical Muslims; 2) Lebanon has fallen to the Hezbollah terrorists, controlled by Iran—the number-one terrorist-sponsoring nation in the world by far; 3) the government of Egypt has fallen, and its replacement will form some kind of an alliance with Iran, the king of the south. We have been prophesying this for about 20 years!
Now the whole world can see it happening very dramatically!
As usual, many of the Western world’s leaders see what is happening in Egypt as good news. They fail to see the strength of Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood, and some of them fail to see the broken will of America—which all the Middle East leaders see!
The government of Yemen is very shaky.
All these events are bad news for America and Israel. But they show us almost precisely where we are in Bible prophecy!
Now let me illustrate a new and stunning piece of the puzzle about the Middle East.
The whole scenario is explained in Daniel 11:40-44. These verses reveal what is unfolding in the Middle East, Europe and Asia—the most critical prophecy of the next few years.
Until now, I have not understood much about why the two nations of Libya and Ethiopia are mentioned in verse 43, along with Egypt. These two nations are the key that unlocks the strategy of radical Islam. That strategy is going to shake the U.S. and Europe to their foundations!
We are about to be flooded with bad news. But it is all concluded by the best news you have ever heard!
Soon you will see the prophesied 10 European kings unite into the Holy Roman Empire that is going to clash with radical Islam, or the king of the south. Europe understands what the U.S. does not: Radical Islam must be stopped! And the stronger leaders know it won’t be done through negotiation! Read More

Ethiopia: Libyan mission to AU condemn crackdown on protestors

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
February 27, 2011 (ADDIS ABABA) – The secretary of the Libyan People’s Bureau and Permanent Mission to the African Union and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa has condemned what it said was a “disproportionate use of force’’ against peaceful protesters in Libya.
In a press release issued on Saturday, the secretary has expressed grave concern with the current situation in Libya as the violence flared up in the North African country, with more than 1,000 pro-democracy protesters reportedly killed in a violent crackdown since the uprising began on February 15 - aimed to end Muammer Gaddafi’s 42-year authoritarian rule.
The Addis Ababa-based mission has called on the armed Libyan forces to ensure the protection and security of the citizens and provision of humanitarian assistance to the injured and other persons in dire need.
The secretary underscored that the aspiration of the people of Libya to meet political and democratic demands need to be respected.
The mission appealed for an immediate end to repression and violence and urged on the leadership in Tripoli to find a speedy and peaceful solution to the current crisis.
It further called upon the leadership to take into consideration the public interest and the national territorial integrity of the country and avoid what can lead to more loss of lives and destruction of public and private properties.
It rejected any thought or justification for any kind of foreign interference in Libya. “We demand those who are calling for that in the media to immediately desist”, it said.
Despite growing pressures against Gaddafi to step down the Libyan leader who termed himself a revolutionist and not a president has refused to do so.
On Wednesday, similarly the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU) strongly condemned the indiscriminate and excessive use of force and lethal weapons against peaceful protesters.
The council said the act was taken “in violation of human rights and International Humanitarian Law, which continues to contribute to the loss of life and destruction of property.”
The union during its 261st meeting held on 23 February 2011 decided to urgently dispatch a fact finding mission of the council to Libya to assess the situation on the ground.
As protesters reportedly took control of Libya’s eastern part, Gaddafi is said to be arming his supporters to battle opponents also as government soldiers begin to switch sides to join the uprising.
The U.N. Security Council on Sunday unanimously imposed tough sanctions on the Gaddafi regime in the form of an arms embargo, asset freezes and travel ban.
It has also ordered an international war crimes probe into the bloodshed in Libya.

Nonviolent Struggle: Ethiopian Exceptionalism?

By Jawar Mohammed*

Part I

The long oppressed citizens of Tunisia and Egypt have freed themselves. Libyans are almost there. Bahraini, Yemeni, Algerians, and Moroccans are in the middle of a fierce struggle. Our neighbors, Djiboutians have also risen up. In Ethiopia, debate is raging over whether the current wave of people’s uprising should, could or would reach Meles Zenawi?  While the successes in the Arab world have a visibly energizing effect, skepticism is still dominating the discourse in much of sub-Saharan Africa.

Fortunately, in the last month, most of the misconceptions about nonviolent resistance have been debunked. Thanks to the tantalizing nonviolent discipline demonstrated by the Egyptian protesters, the cultural determinism school of thought, which long declared Arab and African societies as incompatible with ‘civilized’ politics have been practically refuted.  The growing successes of civilian movements against the brutal regimes in Libya, Yemen, and Bahrain have disproved the belief that nonviolent resistance works only against soft-authoritarians who value human life.

Skeptics are using “
Ethiopian Exceptionalism” to argue that nonviolent strategies would not work in Ethiopia. Three of the most repeated arguments are: ethnic fragmentation, composition of the military and low Internet penetration. These arguments have strong factual bases and do not warrant outright dismissal. However, Ethiopia having a different condition from Egypt or Tunisia does not necessarily prevent waging a successful nonviolent resistance. It just requires a strategy specifically tailored for the exceptional realities in Ethiopia Read More

Saving Ethiopians in the Middle East Should Get Priority

Like many citizens of the world coming to Arab countries in search of jobs and better life, there are a great number of Ethiopians in the Middle East and North African countries. Among these the numbers of citizens traveling to either work and live in the Middle East countries or use these countries as gateways to other European countries is enormous. 
Meanwhile, the ongoing crisis in the Arab World is endangering the lives of millions of other citizens who reside in these countries. As a result of popular uprising as some call it “The Arab Revolution”, there is no stability, law and order.
According to the latest reports by the German Deutsche Welle Radio, Ethiopian emigrants in Libya are in great trouble and even murdered being accused of the many alleged mercenaries hired by President Muammar Al Gaddafi to kill his own people to counter the protests. The fact that Ethiopia does not have an embassy in Libya makes the safety and security of Ethiopians there even worst.
The Arab peoples’ power that some what appears to be one of the fastest revolutions in the history of governments to overthrow dictatorship may also change our attitudes towards the democracy and governance of the Arab countries. For the time being, many hope that a better time is coming for the Arab world which enables them to benefit from their oil wealth, there by changing peoples’ lives for the better.
So far, it does not look like that the people benefited from their wealth; but rather the ruling dictatorial and the surroundings of the kings and khalifates that are the beneficiaries of the wealth of many Arab countries.
We hope that the post-dictatorial governments to come that this will be a new era of the Arab world, awarding them with their basic democratic rights, which will make the Middle East more or less a better place to work as an emigrant.
In the meantime, the government’s priority should be the safety and security of our citizens living in those countries, since one of the major responsibilities of a Government is to protect and safeguard the well being of its citizens abroad, especially during instabilities.
The Ethiopian Government so far did not make official statement regarding the safety of our citizens living in the countries where popular uprising is going on and the situation getting worst every hour.
The Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), should give priority and show serious concern to our citizens. It has to act immediately to the situation of our citizens in the Middle East and North Africa through embassies and consular offices found in the proximity of these countries like Sudan, Algeria, Egypt, Bahrain and Dubai, where the situation seems to be relatively better; at least for now.
As a responsible citizen and media New Business Ethiopia is very much concerned about the lives of many Ethiopians in the disturbed Arab countries.  The ever-growing remittance that the country is getting from our brothers and sisters can only be sustainable and contribute to our development when and only when the safety, security and well being of our citizens living in different parts of the world including the Middle East and North Africa is ensured.
We therefore urge MoFA to act faster and safeguard the well being of Ethiopian emigrants found in the Middle East and North African countries. 
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Report: Danish sailboat with 7 aboard hijacked in Indian Ocean, heading toward Somalia

COPENHAGEN — The Danish news agency Ritzau says pirates have hijacked a sailboat with four adults and three children on board in the Indian Ocean.
Citing Denmark's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Charlotte Slente, Ritzau says the hijacking happened on Thursday and that the boat is now heading toward Somalia.
Ritzau says those on board are a Danish couple and their three children and two crew members, also Danes.
Danish Foreign Ministry officials didn't immediately return calls seeking confirmation.

Somali rebels threaten Kenya for 'training militia'

MOGADISHU — Somalia's Al Qaeda-inspired rebels have accused Kenya of training militia to attack them and warned of reprisals.
The warning late Sunday by Shebab spokesman Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage came after days of fierce clashes in the south of the war-torn country between the insurgents and fighters they said were trained by Kenya.
"Kenya has long been working to undermine the existence of the Islamic sharia in Somalia," Rage told reporters in Mogadishu.
"It has opened training camps inside (Somali) territories to train apostate Somali militants and also offered military bases to Ethiopian forces who are invading the neighbouring Islamic region of Gedo.
"We shall no longer tolerate the constant aggression and ill acts of Kenya against our Muslim society. Kenya will bear responsibility for the consequences of the continuing aggression."
Rage did not specify what action the Shebab would take, but the hardline Islamist group has previously threatened Kenya with attacks for supporting Somalia's interim government it is fighting to topple.
The Shebab control much of central and southern Somalia, which shares a long and porous border with Kenya.

Somali refugees flock to Mandera

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 28 - Hundreds of Somalia refugees have flooded Mandera town following days of gunfight between Al Shabaab militiamen and Somali troops near the Kenyan border.

The Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) said it had registered up to 400 refugees from Somalia by Sunday afternoon.

"Following heavy fighting between Al Shabaab militants and forces allied to the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia along the Kenya-Somalia border, hundreds of refugees are scattered in Mandera town and its environs," Kenya Red Cross Spokesman Titus Mung'ou said in a statement.

Mr Mung'ou said KRCS volunteers had managed to attend to the refugees after a brief ceasefire on Sunday.

"A ceasefire along the border, most part of Sunday 27th February 2011 enabled the KRCS personnel to start registration of refugees that would facilitate distribution of relief aid," the statement added.

Renewed fighting along the border was however reported at about 6pm on Sunday, according to the Red Cross, which said it was assisting some 6,000 local residents displaced by the gun fight.

Last week, one person was shot dead and more than 10 others seriously wounded in an attack at the Kenya-Somalia border where Al Shabaab militias following the fighting.

The Kenya Red Cross reported on Friday that those wounded were being treated at the Mandera District Hospital.

"One woman has been reported dead at Border Point One and 10 casualties are being treated at Mandera District Hospital," Kenya Red Cross Secretary General Abbas Gullet had said in a statement.

He said several gunshots had also been fired at the Red Cross offices in Mandera but no casualty was reported.

The Society's Spokesman Titus Mung'ou said the situation had put the lives of humanitarian workers and other residents of Mandera town in grave danger.

On Monday, an uneasy calm was reported after hours of fighting on Sunday night.

Anti-gay Christians lose court bid

A Christian couple morally opposed to homosexuality because of their faith have lost a landmark High Court battle over the right to become foster carers.
Eunice and Owen Johns, aged 62 and 65, from Oakwood, Derby, went to court after a social worker expressed concerns when they said they could not tell a child a "homosexual lifestyle" was acceptable.
The Pentecostal Christian couple had applied to Derby City Council to be respite carers but withdrew their application, believing it "doomed to failure" because of the social worker's attitude to their religious beliefs.
They asked judges to rule that their faith should not be a bar to them becoming carers, and the law should protect their Christian values.
But Lord Justice Munby and Mr Justice Beatson ruled that laws protecting people from discrimination because of their sexual orientation "should take precedence" over the right not to be discriminated against on religious grounds. The Johns are considering an appeal.
Outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, where the decision was given, Mrs Johns stood alongside her husband as she said: "We are extremely distressed at what the judges have ruled today.
"All we wanted was to offer a loving home to a child in need. We have a good track record as foster parents. But because we are Christians, with mainstream Christian views on sexual ethics, we are apparently unsuitable as foster parents."
Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, the lesbian, gay and bisexual charity, said: Thankfully, Mr and Mrs Johns's out-dated views aren't just out of step with the majority of people in modern Britain, but those of many Christians too. If you wish to be involved in the delivery of a public service you should be prepared to provide it fairly to anyone."
The Christian Legal Centre warned "fostering by Christians is now in doubt" and said the judges had effectively ruled "homosexual 'rights' trump freedom of conscience in the UK".
The judges had stated that "biblical Christian beliefs may be 'inimical' to children, and implicitly upheld an Equalities and Human Rights Commission (ECHC) submission that children risk being 'infected' by Christian moral beliefs".

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