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Africa News In Brief

Kenyan Muslims Fear Selective Profiling From ‘Anti-Terrorism’ Bill



July 2 (GIN) – The Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims has declared its opposition to a new Anti-Terrorism Bill, calling it discriminatory against the country’s Muslim community.


Kenyan Muslims Fear Selective Profiling From ‘Anti-Terrorism’ Bill

July 2 (GIN) – The Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims has declared its opposition to a new Anti-Terrorism Bill, calling it discriminatory against the country’s Muslim community.
"The proposed Anti-Terrorism Bill goes against the spirit of the Constitution which protects the rights of all citizens regardless of color, tribe, sex, region and religion," said Abdulghafur El-Busaidy, national chairman of the Muslim group.
"Kenyans would wish to develop their own counter-terrorism policies that are suited to their unique conditions … as opposed to being bulldozed by foreign people whose interest are not well known to them," he said.
Meanwhile, police are still investigating deadly attacks on two churches in the eastern town of Garissa on Sunday.  President Raila Odinga visited Garissa Monday along with Kenyan Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and other officials.
He said the attacks were designed to spark conflict between Muslims and Christians.
"Churches are being attacked and the inference here is that Muslims are attacking so that Christians can begin to fight Muslims... We are more intelligent than that," said Odinga. "This is not a religious matter, this is a group of terrorists who are resorting to these kind of desperate measures because of the progress being made by our troops in Somalia."
Kenya sent troops into Somalia last October to fight militant group al-Shabab, which Kenyan officials accuse of carrying out bombings and kidnappings on Kenyan territory.
Muslims clergymen in Garissa also condemned the attack with local Muslim leader Sheikh Abdisalam Sheikh Mohamed observing that "terrorists are attempting to stir up chaos and hostility among people who co-habit peacefully." There has been no claim of responsibility for Sunday's church attacks, in which gunmen threw grenades and opened fire on worshippers.  A total of 17 people were killed and 40 others wounded. w/pix of police attending victims
UK Pharma To Pay ‘Whopping’ $3 Billion Fine For Massive Healthcare Fraud
July 2 (GIN) – The U.S. Justice Dept. has announced the largest settlement ever for healthcare fraud against UK-based GlaxoSmithKline for off-label marketing and failure to disclose the safety risks of its diabetes drug Avandia, among other violations.
The company has extensive sales in Africa but does not face prosecution there for these issues at this time.
In the U.S. case, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has agreed to pay $3 billion to wrap up the longstanding U.S. government probes. The sum tops another major fine paid by the U.S.-based Pfizer company for the death of almost a dozen Nigerian children who died during a 1996 trial of an experimental meningitis drug. Some 200 children received the drug, Trovan. Eleven died and dozens were left disabled in the clinical trial.
The civil claims against GSK include off-label and kickback allegations related to 7 drugs, including Paxil and Wellbutrin, but also the asthma drug Advair and seizure drug Lamictal. The Avandia false-claims allegations include exaggerating the drug's benefits, including, ironically, its cardiovascular benefits. And then there are pricing claims, covering false prices reported to Medicaid from 1994 to 2003.
"For a long time, our health care system had been a target for cheaters who thought they could make an easy profit at the expense of public safety, taxpayers, and the millions of Americans who depend on programs like Medicare and Medicaid,” said Bill Corr, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). “But thanks to strong enforcement actions like those we have announced today, that equation is rapidly changing."
Meanwhile, GlaxoSmithKline has been recruiting for the position of First Line Sales Manager in Nigeria. Its ad on the website reads: “We have challenging and inspiration mission to improve the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. Our mission gives us the purpose to develop innovative medicines and products that help millions of people around the world.”
Legendary Mosque Door Smashed By Separist Group In Timbuktu
July 2 (GIN) – For a third day, Islamist militants in Mali's historic city Timbuktu attacked and damaged ancient sites, despite international threats of prosecution.
The al-Qaida-linked group Ansar Dine reportedly began Saturday raining blows on Timbuktu’s independence monument, which depicts Al Farouk, a symbol of the ancient city, on a horse. On Monday, the group targeted the 15th-century Sidi Yahya mosque, tearing off the entrance door.
"In legend, it is said that the main gate of Sidi Yahya mosque will not be opened until the last day (of the world)," Alpha Abdoulahi, the town imam, told Reuters by telephone.
Yet eight Islamist fighters smashed down the door to the mosque early on Monday, saying they wanted to "destroy the mystery" of the ancient entrance, he said.
"They offered me 50,000 CFA for repairs but I refused to take the money, saying that what they did is irreparable."
Islamists of the Ansar Dine group say the centuries-old shrines of the local Sufi version of Islam in Timbuktu are idolatrous. They have so far destroyed at least eight of 16 listed mausoleums in the city, together with a number of tombs.
"My message to those involved in these criminal acts is clear: stop the destruction of the religious buildings now," said Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in a press interview. "This is a war crime which my office has authority to fully investigate."
Even rebels of the MNLA, the other Tuareg separatist group, criticised the Islamists' destruction of holy sites, underlining a rift between the two groups that once joined forces to take over the north of the country.
Speaking to the news agency Reuters,  MNLA spokesman Hama Ag Mahmoud said: "The perpetrators of these heinous acts, their sponsors, and those who support them must be made accountable." Some 3000 troops of the West African regional bloc ECOWAS are reportedly preparing for deployment to the region. w/pix of Sidi Yahya mosque door before demolition
Unrest Grows In Sudan, Over 1000 Demonstartors Detained
July 2 (GIN) – A crackdown against an anti-government movement is heating up with the arrest of over 1,000 demonstrators in two weeks of protests, according to a local activist group.
Opposition factions, long divided, are said to be working on a document to guide the administration of the country if President Omar al Bashir is overthrown.
 "We need to prevent chaos and a power vacuum once the regime falls, so that is why we are working on agreeing on a transitional phase," Bashir Adam Rahma, the foreign relations secretary of the opposition Popular Congress, told Al Jazeera.
The Popular Congress is part of the National Forces Alliance, a coalition of opposition parties. The Alliance says it plans to throw its full weight behind the protest movement once it puts the final touches on the transitional phase document.
Recent austerity measures including a rise in prices prompted the outbreak of social unrest two weeks ago. Finance Minister Ali Mahmoud said the government had no choice but to cut fuel subsidies and spending to plug a public finance gap. President Bashir defended the new decisions, saying that the secession of South Sudan turned the country from an oil exporter to importer.
Meanwhile, a student group has posted a website that lists 16 “Demands of a Nation.” GIRIFNA, which  means “We’re Fed Up,” also has a Facebook page. The page lists 32,900 friends. w/pix at U.N. protest, June 30, by William Farrington