Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch

Welcome to
Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch Blog. Our objective is to promote the institutions of democracy,social justice,Human Rights,Peace, Freedom of Expression, and Respect to humanity in Rwanda,Uganda,DR Congo, Burundi,Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya,Ethiopia, and Somalia. We strongly believe that Africa will develop if only our presidents stop being rulers of men and become leaders of citizens. We support Breaking the Silence Campaign for DR Congo since we believe the democracy in Rwanda means peace in DRC. Follow this link to learn more about the origin of the war in both Rwanda and DR Congo:

Friday, December 31, 2010

Somalia: Obama's Unholy Alliance With Yoweri Museveni

[Black Star News Editorial]

If  New Year's prayers are answered, then the United States must stop bleeding the people of Somalia.

The U.S. must abandon its current approach to the Somalia tragedy. Washington must explore a genuine solution to end Somalia's decades of warfare and political paralyses.

Currently the U.S. underwrites a fictitious government in Mogadishu kept in place by Ugandan soldiers, sent there on behalf of the U.S. by dictator, Gen. Yoweri K. Museveni, who is without a doubt an unindicted war criminal.

Washington finds this relationship beneficial because by Uganda propping up the fictitious Mogadishu government, the U.S. believes Somalia is secured from being overtaken as a haven by Al-Qaeda, the United States' avowed foe. The U.S. views Somalia as Africa's Afghanistan. Nothing could be further from the truth.

For Gen. Museveni, the relationship is invaluable for many reasons: it prevents the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, from indicting him for the well documented war crimes his army committed in the DR Congo, on which the World Court found Uganda liable and awarded Congo $10 billion, or from unsealing the indictment if one already exists; it prevents Ocampo from indicting Museveni for well documented crimes against humanity committed by his army and generals, on his orders, in the northern part of Uganda; it provides him with the aura of international legitimacy, by being associated with President Barack Obama, even when his popularity continues to erode domestically as Uganda approaches a presidential election in February; and, it provides sustenance, in the form of military materiel and money, for his armed forces--which army he has primarily used to suppress domestic dissent and to commit wars of aggression against Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and now the Central African Republic.

The United States' rationale for having Uganda act as its hired mercenary army is preposterous and actually counters its own stated policy objectives. The fictitious Somalia government currently holds only a few blocks of Mogadishu, the capital. This means that since it's unable to expand its writ beyond this area, Somalia is actually fertile ground to become a haven for Al-Qaeda.

Therefore, the longer the U.S. pursues this strategically suicidal Somalia policy, the longer the crisis lasts, and with it, the suffering of the Somali people. Media accounts never refer to Somalia's civilians deaths, possibly tens of thousands--first through the U.S.-sponsored Ethiopian invasion, through starvation and diseases caused by the recurrent mass dislocations of population, and through the reckless shelling by Ugandan soldiers.

How can the United States continue to underwrite a policy that is actually contributing to the deaths of Somalians, and to the continued destruction of their country?

And what of the war crimes?
In addition to the indiscriminate shelling of Somalian civilians, it's been widely reported, including in corporate newspapers such as The New York Times that the fictitious Somali government employs child soldiers trained by Uganda --some of whom are as young as 11 years old-- to defend the few blocks it now controls.

This comes as no surprise to people who have followed Gen. Museveni's M.O. for years; he employed child soldiers in his own successful insurgency in Uganda. Of course, the use of children in war is prohibited by international law; the Somalian children are being paid with U.S. taxpayers money, which means the Obama administration is actually an accomplice to war crimes.

Fact is the Ugandan army: has not been able to check, let alone defeat the forces fighting against the fictitious Mogadishu government; it has not restored peace to any part of Somalia; it has not protected Somalians against violence from the armed militias; and, it has certainly not made Somalia a better country for its citizens.

It was a tall order--to ask Uganda's president, using his army, to undertake in Somalia what he has not been able to accomplish in Uganda in 25 years in office as the United States' own ambassador in Kampala confided in his memos to Washington, which were revealed to the world, courtesy of Wiki leaks.

Will the United States reverse its Somalia policy in the New Year? Not judging by the latest reports that the United Nations Security Council has okayed thousands of more troop reinforcement --surprise, surprise-- from Uganda, to Somalia.

Uganda's Gen. Museveni is an autocrat who is accountable to no one--his own regime's survival is predicate on continued anarchy in Somalia. The United States has a government that's supposedly accountable to Congress and to the electorate. What Somalia needs is an international conference that involves all major stakeholders, military, political, and civil society.

Contrary to the global media misrepresentation, Somalians are actually some of the most industrious, entrepreneurial, and intellectual people in all of Africa. If such a conference were sponsored by the international community, Somalians could form a legitimate interim regime--not the fictitious and discredited government now imposed on Somalia by the United States and Uganda.

African countries, including those with resources, such as South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt, and Libya, might then be more inclined to contribute money and soldiers to a genuine African Union peace keeping force, with a clear mandate and rules of engagement, to ensure the security, while Somalia trains a police force. Perhaps Somalians may even be persuaded to lay down their weapons if they see that the world is genuinely interested in a comprehensive peace and recovery program.

So long as Somalia remains a mere arena for Washington's proxy war with Al-Qaeda, it will in fact remain a haven for all sorts of lawless militias--contributing to more and more Somalian deaths.

Gen. Museveni does not care; but what about President Barack Obama?

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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2011: THE YEAR OF JUSTICE AND CHANGE (Ms. Victoire INGABIRE, Kigali maximum Prison, 31.12.2010)

(Ms. Victoire INGABIRE, Kigali maximum Prison, 31.12.2010)

 Today the Executive Team of FDU-INKINGI and some other members visited Madame Victoire INGABIRE UMUHOZA in KIGALI maximum security. She expressed how much she is grateful for all the work every one has achieved for democracy and justice in Rwanda. “At every visit, the fire of hope I see in your eyes is a long-winded spring of courage. As the year draws to a close, observe a minute of silence in memory of all the victims of democracy in Rwanda, those who are dead, those still in chains, those in exile and those in hiding. Lets make together the year 2011, the YEAR OF JUSTICE AND CHANGE IN RWANDA. That will be our motto, our goal and our next achievement”, she told the Executive team of the party in front of angry and threatening jailers.


Interim Secretary General

Victoire Ingabire Rwandan Political prisone
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Canadian-designed radio aimed at Africa

A Kenyan Canadian has put together a portable FM radio station that fits in a briefcase that he hopes to use to reach remote parts of Africa.
Peter Onguti helped develop and is bringing to Africa the 18-kilo FM radio kit that can be powered by solar, battery or conventional electricity
He got the idea for a portable radio station after Kenya's last election, when violence erupted across the country. People in rural areas especially were experiencing an information blackout.
Onguti turned to a Canadian friend and business partner to design a portable radio station with good range.
'It's just that I want people to have access to information.'—Kenyan Canadian Peter Onguti
"I asked him — he's a telecommunication engineer — if he could come up with something which was suitable for this market, especially Kenya and the rest of Africa," Onguti told CBC News.
Then he used his own savings to build and market the portable radio stations.
The government of South Sudan will be using about a dozen of the units to educate rural voters in the upcoming referendum on separation from North Sudan.
And dozens more are being used to broadcast health and education programming in Western Africa.
Depending on the unit, the stations can broadcast anywhere from 30 to 100 kilometres.
"You can do a lot with this unit, not necessarily just focus on war and violence and such," Onguti says.
He envisions his portable radio stations in use all over Africa. Radio is a good choice for Africa, where many people are illiterate and cannot afford television.
He has yet to turn a profit on sales, with units ranging from $10,000 to $70,000, but that doesn't discourage him.
"It's not about the money actually — it's just about information, that is the key drive for me. It's just that I want people to have access to information."

Read more:
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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Canadian-designed radio aimed at Africa

A Kenyan Canadian has put together a portable FM radio station that fits in a briefcase that he hopes to use to reach remote parts of Africa.
Peter Onguti helped develop and is bringing to Africa the 18-kilo FM radio kit that can be powered by solar, battery or conventional electricity
He got the idea for a portable radio station after Kenya's last election, when violence erupted across the country. People in rural areas especially were experiencing an information blackout.
Onguti turned to a Canadian friend and business partner to design a portable radio station with good range.
'It's just that I want people to have access to information.'—Kenyan Canadian Peter Onguti
"I asked him — he's a telecommunication engineer — if he could come up with something which was suitable for this market, especially Kenya and the rest of Africa," Onguti told CBC News.
Then he used his own savings to build and market the portable radio stations.
The government of South Sudan will be using about a dozen of the units to educate rural voters in the upcoming referendum on separation from North Sudan.
And dozens more are being used to broadcast health and education programming in Western Africa.
Depending on the unit, the stations can broadcast anywhere from 30 to 100 kilometres.
"You can do a lot with this unit, not necessarily just focus on war and violence and such," Onguti says.
He envisions his portable radio stations in use all over Africa. Radio is a good choice for Africa, where many people are illiterate and cannot afford television.
He has yet to turn a profit on sales, with units ranging from $10,000 to $70,000, but that doesn't discourage him.
"It's not about the money actually — it's just about information, that is the key drive for me. It's just that I want people to have access to information."

Read more:

COTE D'IVOIRE: Beyond the law on land disputes

Members of IRC-supported peace committee that intervenes in land disputes in Baibly, western Cote d'Ivoire
MAN, 27 January 2010 (IRIN) - In Côte d’Ivoire land disputes – fuelled by the 2002 rebellion and subsequent fighting – have yet to be resolved legislatively, leaving communities to seek their own solutions.

Conflict forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes, among them Ivorian citizens and immigrant farmers who fled plantations in the west where many of them had held customary land access rights.

Many of the displaced who have recently tried to return to their farms have found their land occupied by others, according to officials in Man, 450km west of the capital, Abidjan.

Now access to cocoa and coffee plantations – long a source of inter-ethnic tensions in the country – is at the heart of unrest in the west, particularly as more people return, say workers with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), which has an office in Man.

Little-used law

A 1998 law that might have helped resolve disputes – vetoing verbal land agreements, converting customary rights to formal deeds and providing a conflict resolution framework – is little-known and little-used, experts say.

Most residents in the west have never heard of the law or have no idea how to apply it, Man magistrate Kroman Lahassani told IRIN.

Fewer than half of adults in Côte d’Ivoire can read and write so cannot read the document, he noted.

“It [the law] is still applicable and it abrogates other laws, but so far no one has come forward with a case,” he said.

Instead, land agreements are still predominantly verbal or noted down with the help of a village chief, or people enter into temporary pacts, according to UN Special Representative to the Secretary-General in Côte d’Ivoire, Georg Charpentier.

Local solutions

Civil society activists say the law is not yet effective on a practical level so they are helping villagers resolve land disputes in other ways.

IRC runs peace-building committees in 65 villages in the 18 Montagnes region.

Photo: Anna Jefferys/IRIN
Baibly peace committee also spreads awareness on respect for human rights
One such village is Baibly, which was split in two in 2002, with immigrants forced to live on one side and native Ivorians on the other.

Since 2004 a peace committee has been set up, its members going house-to-house to resolve land tenure disputes, implement joint building projects and discuss human rights. Not a single member has heard of the 1998 land law.

“People from everywhere live here now,” said Burkinabe resident Daouda Coulibaly. “Ivorians, Burkinabe, Guineans, Malians, we all live together.”

Tensions persist between natives and immigrants and land conflicts are still villagers’ main worry, but since the committee formed these disputes have abated, said committee member Nguessan Allissialine.

Peace committee members said they remain concerned about a trend in which youths sell land without their parents’ knowledge.

When disputes in such cases arise, the committee will mediate, along with the village chief and, if need be, the gendarmerie, Coulibaly told IRIN.

Such efforts, though on a small scale, are vital to keep the peace, said Charpentier.

“Though [land tenure is] a mini-problem in comparison to say, Somalia – with just a few thousand people involved – it is very complex and will have to be solved,” he said.

Next steps

The government could soon begin to educate the population about the existing law. While administrative and security tasks in the west are still split between former rebels and the state, the Justice Ministry was reinstated in Man in late 2009 and is building up its team of magistrates, Lahassani told IRIN.

Given deadlines set in the 1998 law, it is important to educate the public now, he said. “If people don’t officially administer land sales with a magistrate and get a decree, then the land will pass over to government in several years’ time – few [people] know this,” Lahassani said.

Charpentier noted that much-needed land reform can be effective and sustainable only once a new government is in power and state administration is in place across Côte d’Ivoire.

Presidential elections have been scheduled then canceled several times since the 2007 signing of the Ouagadougou peace accord.

aj/np Theme (s): Conflict, Economy, Environment, Food Security, Governance, Human Rights, Migration, Refugees/IDPs,
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
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COTE D'IVOIRE: Back to square one?

Ivoirian refugees queue to register in Loguatu in Liberia
LOGUATU, LIBERIA, 30 December 2010 (IRIN) - NGOs working in northeastern Liberia say many of the 30,000 refugees arriving from neighbouring Côte d’Ivoire are reporting widespread violence and intimidation from both Ivoirian government troops and soldiers from the former rebel Forces Nouvelles operating in the west.

Speaking from the Liberian capital Monrovia, the head of the Liberia-based NGO, Equip Liberia, David Waines, said the initial refugee flow had been quite small, with 70-100 Ivoirians a day crossing over in the immediate aftermath of the 28 November presidential run-off election.

Waines said refugee numbers went up dramatically as the Ivoirian political crisis worsened, with Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara both laying claim to the presidency and Gbagbo refusing to yield to international pressure to step down. According to Waines, the exodus began in earnest on 17 December, the day after the abortive march by Ouattara supporters on the state TV centre Radiodiffusion Télévision Ivoirienne (RTI) and the most serious episodes of violence in Abidjan, and that at least 1,000 Ivoirians a day had been coming into Liberia since.

“We have about 17,000 refugees registered and probably a total of about 30,000.” Waines told IRIN. He pointed out that formal registration was a long process and many of the new arrivals had not yet been fully documented. The Liberian government anticipates at least 100,000 refugees coming in.

In Loguatu on the eastern Liberian border, refugees queued to register with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) teams, who are working to clear a backlog of Ivoirians who arrived several days ago as well as receive those newly entering.

More on Côte d’Ivoire
 Countdown to deadlock
 Bridging the aid gap post-conflict
 Beyond the law on land disputes
 Children selling sex, having babies
 On-hold aid projects set to resume
Bohou Basile Doueu, 35, said he had walked with his two wives for a day from his hometown of Beatro. “Information reached us that Gbagbo will not allow Ouattara to take up his post and we are scared that this will cause widespread fighting,” he told IRIN. “The situation is very confused.”

Like Doueu, the majority of refugees IRIN spoke with said they had not witnessed violence themselves but were scared of civil war breaking out if the situation continued. However, some talked of being directly threatened and seeing people attacked. Djontan Sangaré, 17, who arrived two weeks ago with her mother and grandmother from Toulepleu on the western border of Côte d'Ivoire, said she had seen people being beaten up and that the family received threats. “We are for Ouattara and they are against that in the area we come from,” she said. “We were scared we would be hurt by Gbagbo supporters.”

Many of those leaving Ivoirian territory have ethnic ties with communities across the border and are leaving towns and villages that were badly affected by earlier conflicts, notably serious outbreaks of fighting in 2002 when the Ivoirian civil war hit the west.

More aid needed

In Kissiplay, a village close to Loguatu, locals said they were sheltering refugees and providing them food ,but that houses were becoming saturated with up to 20 people sleeping in each room.

Villagers said there were more than 900 refugees in the settlement compared to 600 locals and this was causing food and water shortages. Refugees told IRIN that many women and children were fleeing alone, leaving male family members to monitor the situation. Many of those who had walked across are pregnant or suffering from malnutrition.

Relief organizations working on the ground are calling for more resources so as to provide adequate shelter, water and medical supplies. Equip Liberia has been active in Nimba County for the past 25 years. “We have 23 clinics in Nimba and 65 percent of those coming in for treatment are Ivoirian," Waines told IRIN. He confirmed that 65 percent of the refugees were under 18, with a large presence of women and young children.

Noting that there had so far been few cases of acute malnutrition, Waines warned of the need to control malaria and to provide proper treatment for women in childbirth. He praised the response of the Liberian host community. “I am amazed at how hospitable, accommodating and welcoming the Liberians have been."

UNHCR Resident Representative in Liberia Ibrahim Coly said relief efforts were being stepped up.

“Registration is ongoing and this is the first step," Coly told IRIN in Monrovia. "We are giving health assistance, supplying water and sanitation and non-food items such as blankets and lamps as well as protection to the refugees."

Coly said the provision of food aid had also been taken into account. "We have not started food assistance yet. WFP [UN World Food Programme] should be receiving five metric tons of food today which we hope to distribute soon."

Noting the strain on Liberians adapting to the refugee influx, Coly said more help would be at hand. "Assistance will be expanded to local communities too because they are already limited in resources. We are trying to boost their facilities by providing water, for example, and healthcare."

While the UNHCR had signaled earlier that it wanted to avoid setting up camps, Coly said UNHCR was now pursuing that option.

"We hope to get clearance from the government to open a refugee camp in Nimba County to take the strain off the local communities and to make the refugees easier to reach. We are confronted with a problem of logistics because the roads are bad and it takes time to reach the refugees. The camp would reduce this burden."

Coly said that agencies were already beginning to mobilize funding.

"We have UNHCR funds but we have agreed in meetings that we need to make a joint appeal and we will be discussing this with the regional offices and launch as soon as possible. Once we have launched the appeal and get more funding, we can hire more staff and buy more equipment."

Photo: Sarah Birke/IRIN
UNHCR workers register Ivoirians arriving in Nimba County, Liberia
Equip Liberia's Waines said it was likely the refugee movements would continue, with whole villages arriving. He said the scale and organization of the population movements being witnessed showed how frightened people had become, their fears triggered by reports of killings and abductions both in Abidjan and closer to home.

“Once they realize their necks are on the chopping block the whole village comes over," he said. “You might have 70-80 households that have crossed over en masse.”

Death squads

While acknowledging his information came from refugees, Waines said it was clear from reports coming from western Côte d’Ivoire that there had been serious outbreaks of violence in the border areas. “There has been a lot death squad activity. We hear about it; different villages, different incidents. We have got a serious mobilization and no conventional military options, just a dirty, nasty `slaughter the civilians option’ which they are exercising."

Waines said there was strong evidence of large-scale recruitment of Liberian nationals, with ex-combatants from the former Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL) joining pro-Ggagbo Ivoirian units. The national army officially backs Gbagbo. Waines said soldiers formerly with Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) were also crossing into Côte d’Ivoire, along with other mercenaries.

Waines said the refugees arriving in Liberia’s northwestern county of Nimba were mainly from the Yacouba ethnic group, often seen as part of Alassane Ouattara’s support base, fleeing areas where Gbagbo supporters are in the majority. But he also noted a movement of Guéré, normally Gbabgo supporters, fleeing from areas where they are in the minority. Waines said there had been complaints from refugees of extortion and harassment from armed forces on both sides.

Seventeen border crossings

Veit Vogel, head of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in Côte d’Ivoire, but currently in Liberia, said it was not easy to get a clear picture of the make-up of the refugees or the reasons behind their migration west, pointing out that there are 17 border crossings between Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia. “It is difficult to get confirmed information from the regions people are moving from. The people who are right now crossing the border are from both camps and they move for different reasons. Many move as a pre-emptive measure. Others have very concrete reports of violence and harassment."

The UNHCR has expressed strong concern at reports of FAFN troops barring access to the Côte d’Ivoire-Liberia border crossing at Gbeinta, thereby forcing refugees to go on difficult detour, another 80km south to reach another point of entry. The UNHCR has appealed for the protection of civilians and their right to “exile without obstruction”. The FAFN has also faced accusations of sending personnel into Liberian territory to try to persuade refugees to go back.

The former rebel Forces Nouvelles (FN) have denied blocking the border, highlighting instead significant population movements from government-held towns in the west, including Bloléquin, Toulepleu, Guiglo, Zouan-hounien and Bin-houé, into Forces Nouvelles-held territory.

Gbagbo’s Minister of Interior, Emile Guiriéoulou, has argued the reverse, pointing to a major flight of people out of Forces Nouvelles areas into government strongholds like Duékoué.

Contested region

Reports from the west indicate that many of the refugees are leaving a stretch of territory south of the FN-held town of Danané in Côte d’Ivoire’s far-western 18 Montagnes region. This is an area with a long history of refugee movements, with thousands of Liberians moving to Danané during that country’s conflict. In common with neighbouring Moyen Cavally, it was also the scene of fierce fighting in 2002, notably after rebels, including Liberian elements, attacked government positions in the west in one of the bloodiest chapters of the Ivoirian civil war.

The establishment in 2003 of a ‘Zone de Confiance’, Zone of Confidence, running 600km east to west, patrolled by UN and French forces, was meant to provide a buffer between government and FAFN troops. This arrangement officially ended after the signing of the Ouagadougou Peace Accords in March 2007. But problems remained. Long-running land disputes have exacerbated inter-communal tensions, while a UN-backed disarmament campaign struggled to win the support of pro-Ggagbo militia fighters.

There were widespread fears that the west, often seen as the most volatile, contested region of Côte d’Ivoire, would erupt in violence before or during the elections. But visiting the region between the first and second rounds of voting, Vogel said it looked initially as if the concerns had been exaggerated. ”Tensions were high, suspicions were high, but there weren’t really many inter-communal clashes." He said that community leaders in some areas had gone out of their way to defuse potential problems and he hoped their initiatives would have a lasting impact.

As in other parts of Côte d’Ivoire, in the face of security concerns and access problems, international NGOs have had to scale down their activities in the west and warn of a lack of independent information while making do with unconfirmed reports and rumours.


A senior relief official with operations in FN territory said the long-standing partition of Côte D’Ivoire had been reinforced by the political breakdown in Abidjan. The country remains divided into areas administered by the state (still controlled by Gbagbo, despite Ouattara, the internationally recognized president having set up a government) and what was known in the past as the Centre-Nord-Ouest (CNO), where FN is in control.

The CNO covers a vast amount of territory, with very different landscapes and prospects. In the centre-north city of Bouaké, still very much the FN’s capital, a Ouattara supporter said markets were full of agricultural produce; the surplus was there because the same fruits and vegetables were not being sent south to Abidjan, part of a blockade campaign, but he acknowledged that the slow-down of trade had led to shortages and price increases in soap and other items.

Speaking from Korhogo farther north, a local NGO representative said there were serious worries about the long-term economic impact of the division, noting a major drop in vehicles going to Abidjan and much less produce coming north. There were also warnings of a return to a dependency culture, “with people always holding out their hand”, as long-term development projects were shelved “and we go back to square one”. International NGOs have also noted the switch from early recovery to humanitarian planning, waiting on evaluation studies and security briefs to see where they can operate safely.

“The situation has deteriorated to an extent where most NGOs and the UN have decided to evacuate international staff," Vogel pointed out. He noted that in the current climate, with anti-UN feelings running high, there were obvious dangers of ordinary NGOs being identified by hostile demonstrators as part of an enemy presence.

NRC curtails its activities

While NRC has nominally handed over activities to national staff, field missions are suspended for now and there is at best a minimal presence in field offices in areas like Bouaké and Duekoué. Transport strikes and other problems impede workers’ access to the office in Abidjan.

Vogel also noted the cumulative problems for staff of rising food prices, political uncertainty and outbreaks of violence in their home areas. “There is this whole insecurity that nobody knows where the country is heading to that causes a lot of stress”.

Vogel said the de facto suspension of NRC’s activities was extremely frustrating. “This is not like a video where you can switch on and switch off and keep watching it." He said educational programmes were now threatened by the closure of the schools targeted by NRC, while the organization’s work on inter-community land issues required a major investment of time. “Mediation around land issues was the focus of this year and next year. You are not going to resolve this kind of problem overnight. There is a lot of talking, a lot of building trust. But if it continues like this, all that we have done previously could be lost."
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Nigerian president says efforts to resolve Cote d'Ivoire's crisis on course

Alassane Ouattara, the former Prime Minister o...Image via Wikipedia
ABUJA, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) -- Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has said negotiation for the peaceful resolution of the political impasse in Cote d'Ivoire was on course.
The Nigerian leader who also doubles as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) chairman, made the remarks in Abuja on Wednesday when he received a closed door briefing from the peace envoys sent by ECOWAS to Cote d'Ivoire.
The envoys are Presidents Boni Yayi of Benin, Ernest Koroma of Sierra Leone and Pedro Pires of Cape Verde as well as James Gbeho, the president of ECOWAS Commission.
After the meeting, President Jonathan said the envoys had discussions with both the incumbent Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara, who also claimed himself president.
He said the envoys would be going back to Cote d'Ivoire on Jan. 3, 2011 for further deliberations on how to resolve the crisis peacefully.
"We are still talking. I don't want to pre-empt the outcome of the meeting because they would be going back on Jan. 3, 2011," he told reporters.
"Dialogue is on and that is why they are encouraging us to go back," he said.
The Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government at an emergency meeting on Dec. 24 in Abuja resolved to deploy peace envoys to Cote d'Ivoire.
Specifically, the authority had said it would advice Gbagbo to make a peaceful exit by dispatching a special high level delegation to the country.
"In the event that Gbagbo fails to heed this immutable demand of ECOWAS, the Community would be left with no alternative but to take other measures including the use of legitimate force to achieve the goals of the Ivorian people," the authority resolved.
A post-election crisis marked by violence and killings has been witnessed in Cote d'Ivoire since the end of the presidential run- off on Nov. 28.
The country finds itself with two governments after opposition leader Ouattara and Gbagbo were sworn in as presidents and named a prime minister on either side.
The United Nations, the African Union and ECOWAS have all thrown their support behind Ouattara, who was declared president by the country's Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) to the detriment of Gbagbo, who was declared the winner by the Constitutional Council.

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UN chief remains concerned about situation in Cote d'Ivoire

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon said in a statement released here on Thursday that he remains "very concerned" about the deteriorating situation in Cote d' Ivoire.
"He is deeply alarmed to learn of the call by Mr. Ble Goude on the so-called Young Patriots to attack the Golf Hotel in Abidjan beginning on 1 January," according to the statement issued by Ban' s press office.
World leaders are pressuring incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo to step down and hand power to Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of the Nov. 28 presidential runoff, who is currently taking refuge in the Golf Hotel.
Gbagbo has so far refused to concede power, threatening to reignite the country's 2002 - 2003 civil war. Charles Ble Goude is Gbagbo's minister for youth.
Currently the UN Operation in Cote d'Ivoire (UNOCI) has a significant number of military and police personnel deployed to provide security for the Government of Cote d'Ivoire and key political stakeholders.
Ban also stressed that "UNOCI is authorized to use all necessary means to protect its personnel, as well as the Government officials and other civilians at these premises of the hotel."
The UN chief said that "any attack against peacekeepers constitutes a crime under international law, for which the perpetrators and those who instigate them will be held accountable. "
"Any attack on the Golf Hotel could provoke widespread violence that could reignite civil war," Ban said.
He called on all those who may be contemplating participation in the attack to refrain from such dangerous irresponsible action and urged all the peace-loving citizens of Cote d'Ivoire to contribute instead to the restoration of lasting stability and democracy in their country
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Rwanda: I Was Misquoted, Says General Rutatina

The Presidential Advisor on Security matters, Brig. Gen. Dr. Richard Rutatina, yesterday said that he was quoted out of context in the ongoing row over the comments he made on local journalist Nelson Gatsimbazi.
Appearing before the Rwanda Editors Forum (REFO), the organization that brings together editors in the country, Rutatina emphasized that he never said that Gatsimbazi works with "negative forces" and neither did he suggest that Gatsimbazi was an "enemy of the state."
In what he says are sensational or alarmist claims, Gen Rutatina said that Gatsimbazi was fast to inform police, embassies and even write to the President alleging that his life was threatened following his (Rutatina's) revelations that Gatsimbazi works with some "foreign agents" to push for some unknown interests.
The row stemmed from the December 14 Civil Society Public Dialogue on Political Space and Human Rights which was held in Kigali, during which Rutatina accused Gatsimbazi, the Editor of local tabloid Umusingi, of receiving funds from "foreign agents" who influence what he publishes, yet he claims to be independent.
Rutatina, who was responding to Gatsimbazi who had previously spoken during the dialogue, said that Gatsimbazi was not "independent" as he claims and that government was aware of his connection to exiled journalist Charles Kabonero and Jean Bosco Gasasira, who allegedly pay him and influence his publication.
During the meeting, Gatsimbazi accused the government of frustrating press freedom, citing the banning of controversial tabloids Umuseso and Umuvugizi as well as the murder of journalist Jean Leonard Rugambage as examples.
Gatsimbazi also accused the government of trampling on political and human rights by detaining people without trial, citing Victoire Ingabire and detained army officers.
Reacting to Gatsimbazi's accusations, Gen. Rutatina accused the journalist of abusing the same freedom of press he claims is not there to do whatever he does by associating and allowing to be influenced by "foreign agents", particularly the exiled journalists.
Standing firm
Gen. Rutatina insisted that he will not change his position on Gatsimbazi, adding that he has never said anything that threatens the life of the journalist, but maintained that Gatsimbazi "is a misguided journalist who gets foreign funding to spread lies and represent interests of foreign agents".
"You are misguided, but that doesn't make you an enemy of the state, and we believe that you can be brought back into the right direction.
Journalists don't have one-way freedom. If you criticize the government, the government also has the right to point out where you get it wrong, and when we do so, it is not sacrilege," Rutatina said.
Reacting to Gatsimbazi's publications on detained army officers, Gen. Rutatina said that the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) will maintain its stance of ensuring high level of discipline and will not "let loose" because papers like Umusingi will publish stories, adding that discipline is "taught and institutionalized".
On his part, Gatsimbazi said that Gen. Rutatina's remarks have had an impact on his life, with the society labeling him an "enemy of the state" and clients shunning his paper because it is "anti-state".
He said that he was left "isolated" by Gen. Rutatina's remarks and that he was thrown out of the house as a result of the General's remarks.
Gatsimbazi denied receiving funding of any sort.
Gen. Rutatina assured him of security and that he would not meet any hindrances on his duties, adding that even prior to that, there was nothing to show that his life was under threat.

Relevant Links

REFO observed that Gatsimbazi, even though there were genuine concerns, should have not disregarded other levels where the issue would have been handled like the forum itself, the Media High Council (MHC) or the Association of Rwandan Journalists (ARJ) before addressing it with embassies and foreign organizations.
During the meeting, it was agreed that the media should operate with high levels of professionalism by reporting objectively and considering national interests while the government has the obligation of observing press freedoms.
It was also agreed that the media blew the incident out of proportion by sensationalizing it. It was resolved that dialogues be organized to discuss media rights and national interests
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Rwanda: Exiled RPF Officials Fight Back

Exiled former top Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) officials have written to the United Nations Security Council denying allegations by a UN Security Council Experts Report linking them to rebel groups in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In a robustly expressed statement, signed by Col. Patrick Karegeya, a former Rwanda's Intelligence Chief of Terrorism, on behalf of Lt Gen. Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa and others, it says: "While we have no reason to question the good faith of the authors of the Experts Report on the DRC, we would wish to put it on record that the extensive allegations contained in the Rwanda Government...and the more limited allegations set out in the Experts' Report on the DRC are all absolutely false and unfounded."
The duo, who were once close allies of President Paul Kagame, were prompted by a December 6, 2010 article in The New Times entitled, "UN Report Pins Kayumba, Karegeya on FDLR", that alleges "independent sources" had linked Gen. Nyamwasa to the Rwandan armed rebel group known as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (the FDLR). The article also claims that Gen. Nyamwasa has facilitated contacts between the Forces Patriotique pour la Liberation du Congo (the FPLC) and the Federal Republican Forces (the FRF) rebel groups.
The UN report also confirmed that the Group of Experts directly witnessed a conversation between Karegeya and former officers of the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) who have been reintegrated into the DRC national army (FARDC), suggesting that the former army officers are involved in divisive activities.
"The Group directly witnessed a conversation between Karegeya and former CNDP FARDC officers in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in September. According to United Nations sources and combatants interviewed by the Group, Kayumba may have sent an emissary to meet with FDLR, FPLC and Mai Mai leaders in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in February," the report adds.
Both Kayumba and Karegeya are believed to be the masterminds behind the grenade attacks that exploded in Kigali, early this year and the men have since been charged with forming a terrorist group, ethnic divisionism, threatening national security, undermining state authority, and spreading harmful propaganda.
In February, Gen. Nyamwasa fled the country when he was a serving Rwanda ambassador to India. This was followed by then serving ambassador to the Netherland, Jean Pierre Bizimana, who fled to Ireland after it was alleged that he had refused to help Kigali government assassinate FDU-Inkingi leader Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza. The former ambassador to the Netherland is believed to have facilitated Ingabire's return to Rwanda in January 2010.
Theonesta Mushindashaka, Senator Stanley Safari, Lt. Col. Sam baguma, Capt. Eliphaz Ndikuyezu, Capt. Claude Bizimungu, Capt. John Wuwintari, CFapt. John Bosco Muhizi, Capt. Theobal Gakumba, Capt. John Ontabuka and Jean Pierre Kagubare, are some of the other prominent names that have fled Rwanda. All now live in exile.
A copy of the letter from Lt Gen. Faustian Kayumba Nyamwasa and Chief of Staff and Col. Karegeya to the President of the United Nations Security Council, reads that, "Rwanda is in serious crisis," and that, "Peace and stability in several of the neighbouring states remains tenuous."
"By virtue of his unapologetic attempt to destabilize sister states through the use of proxy rebel groups, President Kagame is one of the major (if not the principal) stumbling block to peace and stability in this fragile region."
Lt. Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa and Col. Karegeya both reside in South Africa. On June 19, Gen. Nyamwasa narrowly survived an assassination which his wife publically attributed to the Rwandan regime
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by Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza on Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 8:52am
Kigali 30th December 2010



Madame Victoire INGABIRE, the detained Chair of FDU-INKINGI opposition party, was produced in the GASABO Intermediate Court at 14:00 for the verdict on her motion to be released as the detention order expired. The Court verdict was “NO BAIL”.
A new chapter in this judicial parody is open. Without independence Justice lacks public confidence. The basic safeguards for the exercise of the executive and judicial powers in this country are not working in accordance with the fundamental principles of rule of law and fairness. This makes the ruling party  and its state machinery a judge in its own cause. We have no trust any more.

We all recall that on 22 May 2010 in an interview with the Daily Monitor (Uganda), President Paul KAGAME stated that Madame Victoire INGABIRE will be kept where she belongs, in prison. A week before her arrest, the President renewed his threats. His judicial is executing the order, and nothing will change until he changes his mind.

We need freedom, justice and democracy.

Interim Secretary General.

Victoire Ingabire Rwandan Political prisoner
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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ingabire court hearing: Time for the truth for the Rwandan Judicial

 Adapted from Ingabire Website
Today, the GASABO Intermediate Court heard Ms. Victoire INGABIRE's motion for immediate and unconditional release from prison as the detention Court order has expired and the Prosecution is continuing delaying tactics to freeze her in jail. This is another big test for the Rwandan judicial, the time for truth.
There is no doubt, the detention period granted to the prosecution by the court has elapsed. If there is justice in Rwanda, Ms. Victoire INGABIRE should walk out of court free tomorrow when the verdict is due to be delivered at 14:00. If they refuse her that basic right, she has no reason to trust this justice any more.
The Prosecutor J. Bosco BUTERA acknowledged that the Court order expired during the Christmas holiday and they petitioned the High Court on the next opening day. It was done after the opening hours after they were informed about  the lawyer's motion.
The national prosecution Authority knows very well that in a case of a detention Court order, non working days and holidays are included in the 30-day term in prison. The independence of the judicial in Rwanda has been many times questioned and particularly in this politically motivated case against the leaders of the opposition. Another blatant violation by the Court will clear all the hopes for a fair process and it will be a final breaking point.
On 17th December 2010, Ms. Victoire INGABIRE was taken to the High Court for the verdict but there was no judge and only a prison warden jailer informed that she lost her appeal. This judicial parody needs to come to an end.

Interim Secretary General.
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Ivory Coast: Two presidents, one crisis

Women take part in a prayer session in Plateau, in Abidjan, 27 December 2010
There is tension in Abidjan over possible military intervention, and prayer sessions have been held

The BBC's John James said talks may go on to avoid military action against Gbagbo.
Three West African leaders will return to Ivory Coast on Monday for more negotiations to end the impasse over last month's disputed elections.
The announcement came a day after they failed on their first visit to persuade incumbent Laurent Gbagbo to stand down.
The chairman of regional body Ecowas, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, said the dialogue was ongoing.
Ecowas hopes Mr Gbagbo will agree to cede power to Alassane Ouattara, widely considered the true winner.
The bloc has threatened to use force if he refuses to go.

“Start Quote

The dialogue is on - they are encouraging us to go back”
End Quote Goodluck Jonathan Nigeria's President
State-controlled TV has indicated that several million African nationals from other countries living in Ivory Coast might be at risk if threats from African countries of military intervention against Mr Gbagbo continue.
The presidents of Benin, Sierra Leone and Cape Verde had travelled to the main city, Abidjan, as representatives of Ecowas.
Afterwards the three men went on to Nigeria to brief Mr Jonathan.
"They are going back on 3 January and when they come back from this second visit, the outcome will determine the next action," Mr Jonathan said after the briefing.
"Whenever there is a dispute, whenever there is disagreement, it is dialogue that will solve issues," he said.
"The dialogue is on. They are encouraging us to go back."
Tuesday's visit was being seen as a final chance to urge Mr Gbagbo to peacefully cede to Mr Ouattara - who is currently holed up in a hotel in the city protected by around 800 UN peacekeepers.
Peacekeeper wounded Few details of the separate talks with the two rivals have emerged.
But Mr Gbagbo appears to be reinforcing his position.
One of his advisers told the BBC Mr Gbagbo was still the democratically elected president and that the Ecowas intervention was part of an "international plot" against him.
The BBC's John James in Abidjan says the three presidents that visited represent some of the smallest countries in West Africa, but they are seen as being on good terms with Mr Gbagbo, particularly Cape Verde, which has close ties to Angola, Mr Gbagbo's strongest international ally.


It's good to talk, they say, and even though all the mediation efforts so far seem to have yielded little fruit, Ecowas are prepared to give more time to discussions.
And as a sign of a possible concession, the pro-Gbagbo youth rally planned for Wednesday was postponed. According to the organiser, youth leader Charles Ble Goude, this was to give discussion a chance; the pro-Ouattara press cited a lack of funds.
On the ground, as people await the prospect of an intervention force with a good degree of fear, life continues to be disrupted by the transport strike called in support of Mr Ouattara.
The indefinite strike was called on Monday, but only really kicked in the next day. For those coming from outlying areas of Abidjan without access to private vehicles, it is extremely difficult getting into work. Reports from elsewhere in the country suggest the strike has left most towns quiet.
Earlier on Tuesday, a UN peacekeeper was wounded in the arm with a machete when his convoy was attacked by a crowd in a Gbagbo stronghold.
Mr Gbagbo has accused the UN - which has some 9,500 peacekeepers in the country - of interfering in Ivorian affairs and has ordered it to leave.
The UN has refused to do so. It says at least 173 people have died in violence and scores of others have been tortured since the 28 November elections.
Violence broke out after Mr Ouattara's victory was overturned by the Constitutional Council, a body headed by an ally of Mr Gbagbo, citing claims that results were rigged in the north.
Almost 20,000 people - mostly women and children - have fled Ivory Coast for neighbouring Liberia, fearing further unrest.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) says 15,120 people from villages in western Ivory Coast are known to have crossed the border and another 4,000 arrivals have been reported.
Our correspondent says Ivorians had hoped these elections would close the chapter on the country's most difficult 10 years, but instead they have opened up a new period of instability.
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