Global Information Network
Nov. 8 (GIN) – Threats of a mass boycott of Liberian national elections by opposition party leader Winston Tubman sparked fears of a return to civil war chaos, prompting voters to stay home in droves, it was reported.
Poll observers in Monrovia reported many fewer voters than in the first round vote last month. Sporadic outbreaks of violence left at least five people dead despite the presence of U.N. peacekeepers and a Nobel Peace Prize president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who has been favored to win this second run-off voting round.
Johnson-Sirleaf’s rival for the top spot is ex-justice minister Winston Tubman from the Congress for Democratic Change, with ex-soccer star George Weah as his running mate. Votes are being tallied and the winner could be announced as early as this week.
Tubman had demanded a delay of two to four weeks after finding three ballot boxes he said were tampered. His call for a boycott was rejected and criticized by international observers, ECOWAS and other regional bodies.
Meanwhile, a study by the Liberia Media Center found bias in the majority of the print and electronic media. The study titled “Because Accountability Matters,” covered the period of Sept-Oct 2011, and involved seven radio stations and 11 newspapers.
“The media performed dismally in reporting on political parties, candidates and issues regarding the electoral processes,” the report read. “Programming accounted for the unprofessionalism and biases of the media.”
Journalists must remain non-partisan even if they are in the employ of media owners with partisan agenda," said the Center’s director, Lawrence Randall. “Above all else, media owners should seek to promote diversity and undue monopolization of their outlet by any single political party.” w/pix of Liberian riot police
U.S. To Head Zimbabwe ‘Blood Diamonds’ Monitoring Group
by Fungai Maboreke
Nov. 8 (GIN) – The United States has captured the chair of the Kimberley process certification scheme, allowing Washington to have a major role in whether Zimbabwe may sell its diamonds on the world market starting in 2012.
The Kimberly Process is an international government certification scheme set up in 2003 to prevent the trade in so-called “blood diamonds” that fund conflicts.
Opposition to Zimbabwe diamond sales came regularly from human rights groups who claimed there were abuses against illegal miners, that smuggling was rife and that certain mines remained in the hands of Zimbabwe's military forces.
But monitoring teams sent by Kimberley concluded the country had met minimum regulatory standards and sales were finally permitted this year.
Zimbabwe is a major exporter with potential to constitute about 20 percent of diamonds traded on international markets. At current production capacities, Zimbabwe could rake in excess of US$2 billion from diamond revenues each year. w/pix of Zimbabwe diamond miner
Operation Linda Nchi (Protect The Kenyan Nation) Is Yielding Poisonous Fruit
Nov. 8 (GIN) – Western countries and African neighbors have stepped up their military excursions into Somalia, raising the prospect of a nation split into zones of influence by the respective forces.
One country planning a bite of the Somali apple is Kenya which would like to slice off a “buffer zone” to be called Jubaland. A puppet government would control resources and facilities, starting with Kismayo, a port used by smuggling networks with Kenyan links, according to a UN report published in July.
But Kenyan, U.S., French, and other foreign raids on Somali soil have brought new threats of retaliation. “…We must unite and fight back until we clear our territory,” a leader of the Islamist movement, Sheikh Hassan Abdulahi Hersi, said recently in a voice recording on Radio al-Furqaan, a station that backs al-Shabab. “The Kenyan government will lose many people and assets because of its intervention in our territory.”
In a related development, the U.S. army is providing counter-insurgency training to Nigerian troops to combat the rising number of attacks by Boko Haram, a Muslim sect fighting western influence in the primarily Muslim North. A rights activist warned that "a state of armed Islamist insurgency" is likely to spread.
The group's official name is Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati wal-Jihad, which in Arabic means, "People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad". But Hausa-speaking residents in the city of Maiduguri, the group's spiritual home, call it Boko Haram, usually translated as "Western education is forbidden/ sinful".
Activist Shehu Sani, president of Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria, said he tried to broker a ceasefire between Boko Haram and the government two months ago, but the talks collapsed when one of the hosts was killed. "Boko Haram blamed the security forces," he said.
While military force is the power of choice, violence brings only new violence. For now it is most likely Boko Haram will expand their operations to other parts of Nigeria to make a point and prove they are really on the ground, rights activist Shehu Sani said. w/pix of Kenyan women soldiers
Swiss Logging Trucks Crushed Villagers' Homes, Green Group Charges
Nov. 8 (GIN) – Swiss loggers in the timber-rich forests of Bosanga, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), turned their trucks on villagers who were attempting to enforce a “social responsibility agreement” signed with their village chief, according to a recent blogpost by the activist group Greenpeace.
According to Greenpeace Africa, the Swiss-company Danzer, backed up by local military and police, burned and crushed homes in a brutal spasm of violence that left one person dead, women violated and over a dozen jailed last spring. The Yalisika villagers were demanding that the company provide what it had promised, namely a school and a health facility. Danzer never delivered on this promise but they continued stripping the forests, Greenpeace said. In 2008, Danzer was accused of massive tax fraud for smuggling timber revenue out of Africa to avoid paying taxes. The company has denied all charges.
Danzer makes decorative hardwood veneer and is a major producer and trader of hardwood timber. They began logging in the Congo in 1993 but signed a pact with traditional chiefs only in 2005. A film on the impact of logging in the DRC – “We are People Already Sold” - can be viewed at www.globalwitness.org
Greenpeace Africa also this month held an action in South Africa where one of the world’s biggest coal-fired power plants is being built. Chaining themselves to the Kusile plant’s front gate, protestors held banners saying “Green Jobs Now” and “No Future in Coal”.
Activist Michael Baillie wrote: “South Africa is already the 12th largest CO2 emitter in the world, and the biggest in Africa. The Kusile plan is not the way to reduce our very real impact on this continent and the African people who live here.”
The Greenpeace report: “The True Cost of Coal in South Africa” is available online. w/pix of logging in DRC