Saturday, 18 May 2013
Mauritanian Leader Returns To Growing Chorus Of Critics Seeking His Ouster
Nov. 27 (GIN) – Following five months convalescing in France from a gunshot wound apparently at the hands of his own security forces, Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz returned home to a the local version of a ticker-tape parade.
But not all is quiet in the West African country, neighbor to Mali. Critics of military rule say that the army continues to run the nation as it has done for more than 40 years. “Today it's not just a coincidence if everyone thinks it's the army chief of staff who has the power,” said Khadiata Malik Diallo of the Union of the Forces of Progress during an opposition rally on Nov. 1 in Nouakchott.
On Nov. 6, activists from the February 25 movement distributed 10,000 fliers denouncing "dictatorship." Some commentators saw the episode of Abdel Aziz's absence as one that, in Professor Boubacar N'diaye's words, "reveals [a] military regime parading as a democracy."
Coincidentally, the health of the Senate President, Ba Ahmadou Lambare also appears to be at risk, a Mauritanian blogger by the name “The Moor Next Door” noted.
"The coming days will prove that Abdel Aziz is physically incapable just as he has always been politically, to lead the country and that his return will only complicate the chances for a solution to the country's crisis," said Saleh Ould Henenna of the Coordination of Democratic Opposition.
Abdel Aziz had been travelling in an unmarked vehicle when he came across a mobile army checkpoint outside the capital. His failure to stop led Lieutenant Elhaj Ould H'Moudy, who was dressed in plainclothes, to open fire.
H'Moudy has said it was a mistake, and has not been punished, with government accepting the shooting was an accident.
The President responded: "I am not in the same shape as I was before the accident, but I still have all my mental and physical faculties and it is me who is leading the country." National elections are scheduled for 2014.
Meanwhile, Mauritania is resisting pressure to line up with regional leaders and France planning to send a force of 3,300 troops to drive the Islamists out of the north. The intervention plan is awaiting approval from the United Nations. w/pix of anti-Abdel Aziz rally
CONGO’S HIDDEN WAR FOR NATURAL RESOURCES
Nov. 27 (GIN) – Power brokers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Uganda and western countries are putting their money on one or another of the armed groups now patrolling Goma and Bukavu. A victory by the rebel M23, Mai Mai or Congolese Army could mean unlimited access for the lucky broker to the Eastern Congo’s great natural wealth, with its mineral deposits worth trillions of dollars.
The area holds about 70 percent of the world's supply of tantalum, a metal used in cellphones, tablets, laptops and other computers, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The eastern region also has massive amounts of gold, tin, tungsten, copper, coltan and cobalt. Some 450,000 artisanal miners work in eastern Congo, according to the Survey.
This month, mining companies in the region got an unpleasant surprise when the DRC’s Minister of Mines announced a planned increase in the Congo’s stake in mining projects to 35% from the current level of 5%.
The proposal, reported by Bloomberg News, upset foreign miners who won a promise that mining code changes would not be applied retroactively.
Links between fighting groups and lucrative mines were uncovered by Global Witness, a UK-based anti-corruption activist group. Last month, for example, evidence produced by Global Witness revealed that M23 commander Gen. Bosco Ntaganda (aka “The Terminator”) controlled several mines in Masisi, north of Goma. Minerals produced there are smuggled into neighboring Rwanda and certified for export as domestic Rwandan production, they said.
“The upsurge in violence in eastern DRC is a stark reminder of the risks involved in allowing abusive armed groups to prey on lucrative minerals,” said Global Witness spokesperson Annie Dunnebacke. “Companies buying minerals from the region should ensure they aren’t supporting warring parties through their purchases. Neighboring countries such as Rwanda should introduce controls to ensure that Congolese conflict minerals are not being laundered through the country,” said Dunnebacke. w/pix of informal mining
THOUSANDS OF KENYANS IN THE DIASPORA STRIPPED OF VOTING RIGHTS
Nov. 27 (GIN) – On the heels of Pres. Barack Obama’s struggle to defend the voting rights of U.S. citizens, Kenyan officials announced this week that the hundreds of thousands of Kenyans in the U.S., the U.K. and elsewhere outside the country would not be allowed to vote.
National elections are scheduled to take place in March 2013 for President, Senators, County Governors, Members of Parliament, among others.
In the nine months ending September 2012, Kenyans working abroad sent nearly one billion in U.S. dollars (74.4 Kenyan Shillings) to help their relatives at home, and invest in real estate projects among other investments. Kenyans living abroad have also started investing in government securities targeted at them, such as infrastructure bonds and the savings bonds.
The largest percentage of remittances comes from the US.
“I will be the bearer of bad news,” said Justice Minister Eugene Wamalwa. “It is impossible for those outside Kenya to vote in 2013 elections owing to challenges facing the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.” Preparation in underway to allow Kenyans in the diaspora to vote in 2017,” he said.
Over 100 stinging comments followed a story on the topic in the online Daily Nation newspaper. “HabariMan” wrote: “It is a shame that an undeveloped nation like Southern Sudan with its
citizens spread out all over the world can pull an election off and yet Kenya, that boasts to be the regional leader, cannot pull one off.
Gideon O. Okwanyo added: Can't they use a part of our remittances to solve the Financial constraint that they are talking about. Logistics?? What are the embassies for?
Wanja Njuguna chimed in: To be honest, this has been the worst and greediest Cabinet Kenya has ever had. I cannot wait for them to exit and hope that the next one will be a mwananchi and remember they are servants not, the bosses. Guys ensure you vote out most of these non-performing fellas. w/pix of a Kenyan voter
LAW SHIELDING PRES. ZUMA FROM INSULTS DRAWS FIRE
Nov. 27 (GIN) – A law that would keep unpleasant remarks or worse from reaching the sensitive ears of South African President Jacob Zuma is drawing opposition from usually cooperative quarters.
Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi wrote: "I don't want anyone insulting anyone & dignity of all must be protected! But a single law to protect one person takes us down Zim route.”
Also at Cosatu, Patrick Craven echoed Vavi’s remarks. "Every individual has the right to dignity and to be treated with respect, and that must be safe-guarded... but you cannot have a law which only applies to one person and not others."
Media practitioners jumped in: (A law like that)”is widely used in Africa and has resulted in many journalists spending lengthy periods in jail and the closure of media outlets," wrote the South African National Editors Forum in an editorial.
The insult protection law found an unexpected defender in the South African Communist Party.
Communist Party head Blade Nzimande became the first senior tripartite alliance leader to publicly back the so-called insult law, saying whites have pushed their black counterparts to the limit with their disrespectful treatment of President Jacob Zuma.
People “can differ with me and you can criticize me as you like, but disrespect, that is not acceptable,” Nzimande, the higher education and training minister was quoted as saying.
"We can’t accept insults," he told writer Eusebius McKaiser. "We have been insulted for too long as black people in this country... We are being undermined by whites."w/pix of insult law defenders