Friday, September 04, 2015

Abayomi Azikiwe, PANW Editor, Featured on RT Satellite Television: ‘US Agenda in Yemen - to Prevent Any Independent Regime From Coming to Power’
3 Sep, 2015 16:02
Rt.com

To watch this interview with Abayomi Azikiwe just click on the website below:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MokrzDnY0bw&feature=youtu.be

Achieving a political settlement in Yemen is going to be very difficult given the commitment of US-backed forces to seize total power in the country, says Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African news wire.

In the Yemeni capital Sanaa, Islamic State has claimed responsibility for two bombings outside a mosque, killing at least twenty people.

RT: Yemen's been a hot bed for Al-Qaeda, but Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) is now taking over. Does this come as a surprise?

Abayomi Azikiwe: No, not at all. There have been many reports that IS is funded indirectly or directly through Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The Saudi GCC coalition has been bombing Yemen since March 26; they are backed by the Pentagon. They have of course had access to US intelligence resources, refueling technology and the State Department has even said they think that the government of ousted fugitive President Hadi, who is now based in Riyadh, is the legitimate regime in Yemen. So it’s not surprising that IS would be taking the same position as the Saudi GCC alliance as well as the US.

RT: The country's been bombed by the Saudi-led coalition for months. How much is this contributing to instability?

AA: Considerably, and they also have ground forces. There have been reports that United Arab Emirates (UAE) special forces are on the ground, that they have Saudi advisors on the ground, they have of course allied themselves with other militias called the Southern Resistance, which is an alliance of various different political forces that have been fighting to drive of the Ansurallah - better known as the Houthis - out of the southern strategic port of Aden. Now they are moving into the central region of the country and of course they would attack the capital of Sanaa in an effort to open up a front in the capital because the Ansurallah has been controlling that area for nearly a year now.

RT: What is the worst scenario that you see here?

AA: The country could be partitioned in regard to the influence by the Ansurallah as well as other forces inside the country. Some of which are allied with Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi as well as other forces that may not necessarily be supportive of the ousted President Hadi, but are not allied with the Ansurallah forces as well. It’s been reported that the Islamic Republic of Iran is providing political support to the Houthis, the Ansurallah. But they claim that they have no military ties inside the country. So this war - which has been going on now for over five months - is largely hidden from the Western media particularly here in the US. So it’s obvious that the US has its own agenda inside of Yemen and that is to of course prevent any regime coming to power or consolidating power that’s acts independently of Washington and this is the main issue that is going to be settled over the next few months in Yemen.

RT: The UN has declared Yemen a level-three humanitarian emergency - the highest on its scale. What can be done to stop people suffering there?

AA: It needs to be a political settlement to the crisis. However, the Saudi regime that is backing the ousted President Hadi doesn’t want any type of negotiated political settlement to bring about any form of empowerment on the part of the Ansurallah as well as other forces who they may be tactically allied with at present, but who do not have the same long term objectives. Millions upon millions of Yemenis have been displaced, they are fleeing the country, there is a great humanitarian crisis, hospitals are suffering, the ports have been bombed by the US-made planes that are being flown by Saudi Arabia and the GCC as well as other types of humanitarian crises inside the country - schools are closed, women and children are particularly impacted as a result of this war. So it has to be some type of political settlement, but it’s going to be very difficult when you have this type of commitment on the part of the US-backed forces to seize total power in Yemen. It represents the failure of US policy in the area; they were championing Yemen a year ago as being a showpiece for the so-called war against terrorism. So we cannot exclude the role of the US, the drone attacks which are ongoing, they claim that they killed some al-Qaeda operatives just this week. It’s going to continue unfortunately until there is some type of equilibrium achieved militarily as well as politically.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
Ugandan Bodies Flown Home After Somalia al-Shabab Attack
3 September 2015
BBC World Service

The bodies of 10 Ugandan soldiers killed in Somalia by militant Islamist group al-Shabab have been flown back home.

The attack was a "game changer", and al-Shabab should expect an "appropriate response", said an army spokesman.

Twelve Ugandan soldiers were killed in Tuesday's raid on an African Union (AU) base in southern Somalia. Al-Shabab said it had killed 50 AU troops.

Ugandan troops are part of a 22,000-strong AU force battling the militants.

In the Ugandan army's first comment on the raid, army spokesman Lt Col Paddy Ankunda said in a tweet: "We will not relent in our efforts to help in the pacification of Somalia despite the attack."

He did not give details of the other two Ugandan soldiers who were killed.

Other reports put the number of soldiers killed at the Janale base, 90km (55 miles) south-west of the capital Mogadishu, at between 20 and 50.

Residents said the attack started with a suicide car bombing at the base's gate, followed by sustained gunfire which lasted more than an hour.

Despite losing most of its key strongholds in south and central Somalia, al-Shabab continues to carry out attacks on the government and African Union troops across the country.

The militants also stage frequent suicide attacks in Mogadishu.
DRC Surgeon Lashes Out at Film Ban
2015-09-04 09:12

Kinshasa - The surgeon who is the subject of an acclaimed film about efforts to help women raped by the military and militia in the Democratic Republic of Congo has hit out at its banning.

Denis Mukwege, who has treated thousands of women sexually abused during conflict, said a decision by censors to veto "The Man Who Mends Women" was indicative of the "climate of oppression" in the DRC.

It "demonstrates the willingness of the government to deny the Congolese people the right of access to information... in order to better manipulate and control," Mukwege said in a statement issued Thursday.

"In the DRC, we live in a climate of oppression, diminishing human rights and a shrinking space for fundamental freedoms," he said.

A number of opposition and civil society activists have been arrested in recent months in the wake of a deadly January crackdown on demonstrations against President Joseph Kabila.

Regular waves of mass sexual assault.

Belgian film maker Thierry Michel's movie follows Mukwege's efforts to repair the physical and psychological injuries of the victims of sexual violence.

Banning the film this week, DRC media minister Lambert Mende said: "There is a clear intent to harm and sully the image of our army and no country in the world could tolerate it.

"That is why we have banned the showing of the film here."

The film follows the activity of gynaecologist Mukwege in the Panzi Hospital he founded in 1999, and which he has run in the South Kivu city Bukavu while operating on several rape victims each day.

The militants vying for control of the region's mineral wealth use rape to terrorise the local population, though members of the army are also known to have undertaken regular waves of mass sexual assault.

Mukwege was awarded the European Parliament's Sakharov rights prize last November.
DR Congo's Ntaganda Tells ICC He Is Not 'The Terminator'
3 September 2015
BBC World Service

Former Democratic Republic of Congo rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda has told the International Criminal Court that he is not an "infamous killer", but a soldier who protected civilians.

This is the first time Gen Ntaganda, nicknamed "The Terminator", has spoken since he surrendered in 2013.

The prosecution alleged at the opening of his trial on Wednesday that his troops murdered and raped civilians.

He denied all 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The 41-year-old fought for different rebel groups as well as the armies of both DR Congo and Rwanda.

"I have been described as 'The Terminator', as an infamous killer, but that is not me,'' Gen Ntaganda said on the second day of his trial, the Associated Press news agency reports.

Bosco Ntaganda faces 13 counts of war crimes and five charges of crimes against humanity
"I have never attacked civilians,'' he added during a nine-minute speech to the court. "I have always protected them.''

Chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda called him a "notorious and powerful'" military leader whose troops slaughtered hundreds of civilians in eastern DR Congo during a brutal conflict in 2002 and 2003.

Sarah Pellet, a lawyer representing 297 former child soldiers, said young girls were gang-raped and forced to become the "wives'" of senior commanders.

"They are victims of rape and sexual violence and some of them gave birth to other victims: Children who will never know their fathers and who are a constant reminder of the reprehensible acts inflicted on their mothers,'' she told the court, AP reports.

Gen Ntaganda handed himself in to the US embassy in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, in 2013.

He had evaded capture for seven years after the ICC first issued warrants for his arrest.

He was part of the UCP rebel group, led by Thomas Lubanga, who in 2014 became the first person to be convicted by the ICC.

He was also one of the leaders of the M23 rebel movement, which had fought government troops until signing a peace deal in 2013.

Eastern DR Congo has suffered two decades of violence linked to ethnic rivalries and competition for control of the area's rich mineral resources.

Who is Bosco Ntaganda?

Jump media playerMedia player helpOut of media player. Press enter to return or tab to continue.

The BBC's Anna Holligan: "Bosco Ntaganda founded the M23 rebel group"

Born in 1973 in Rwanda

Fled to DR Congo as a teenager after attacks on fellow ethnic Tutsis

At 17, he begins his fighting days - alternating between being a rebel and a soldier, in both Rwanda and DR Congo

In 2006, indicted by the ICC for allegedly recruiting child soldiers in Ituri

In 2009, he is integrated into the Congolese national army and made a general

In 2012, he defects from the army, sparking a new rebellion which forces 800,000 from their homes

In March 2013, hands himself in to US embassy in Kigali.
`Terminator` Warlord Terrorized DR Congo, Court Told
Wednesday, September 2, 2015 - 18:38

The Hague: Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda gave "orders to attack and kill" hundreds of victims in a campaign of terror that decimated the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the International Criminal Court heard Wednesday.

Nicknamed "The Terminator," Ntaganda denied 18 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity as his highly-anticipated trial opened in The Hague.

Ntaganda, who surrendered to the US embassy in Kigali in 2013, stands accused of orchestrating hundreds of deaths in savage ethnic attacks in the DR Congo in 2002-03, as well as recruiting and raping child soldiers in his own rebel army.

"Bosco Ntaganda was one of the highest commanders... he gave the orders to attack and kill," ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told a three-judge bench.

The "bloody" northeastern Congolese region of Ituri was decimated by violence perpetrated by Ntaganda`s forces, she said, adding he left "hundreds dead and thousands living in the forest with nothing and a population terrorised".

Bensouda opened her statement with a harrowing tale about a father discovering his family slaughtered by Ntaganda`s forces in a banana plantation in February 2003.

"He (the man) searched through the dead bodies for a long time before discovering his dead son, a toddler, disemboweled and his throat slit," Bensouda said.

Senior trial lawyer Nicole Samson showed the court graphic pictures of piles of bodies lying dead in that same banana field.

"Rape occurred on such a large scale that the (rebels) distributed antibiotics to troops against venereal diseases," Samson told the judges.

The 41-year-old, dressed in a black suit and white shirt with a grey-striped tie, sat and listened intently, his hands folded in front of him, as the charges were read out.

"Mr President, I plead not guilty to all the charges," he said in a soft voice, speaking in his native Kinyarwanda.During the opening two-day session, Bensouda is to present the prosecution`s opening arguments, after which the victims` lawyers and the defence will address the court.

Ntaganda is also due to make a statement -- breaking his silence for the first time publicly since he unexpectedly turned himself in two years ago.

Eastern DR Congo has been mired for two decades in ethnically-charged wars, as rebels battle for control of its rich mineral resources.

The wars brought in the armies of at least six African nations, leaving an estimated at least three million dead in one of the world`s deadliest recent conflicts.

Despite protesting his innocence, prosecutors say the feared rebel commander played a central role in the Ituri conflict which rights groups believe alone left some 60,000 dead since 1999.

Ntaganda "recruited hundreds of children... and used them to kill and to die in the fighting," Bensouda told reporters on Tuesday ahead of the trial opening.

Girl soldiers were "routinely raped," the prosecutor added.Ntaganda was one of the most-wanted fugitives in Africa`s Great Lakes region until he unexpectedly surrendered in March 2013 and asked to be sent to The Hague.

He was the founder of the M23 rebel group defeated by the Congolese government in late 2013 after an 18-month insurgency in the vast Democratic Republic of Congo`s North Kivu region.

Observers say Ntaganda most likely feared for his life as a fugitive from a rival faction within M23, but his motives for surrendering to the ICC remain unclear.

Also nicknamed "The Terminator" and known for his pencil moustaches, cowboy hats and love of fine dining, Ntaganda faces 13 counts of war crimes and five of crimes against humanity.

The court had issued two arrest warrants against Ntaganda -- the first in 2006 and the second with additional charges in 2012.

His former FPLC commander Thomas Lubanga was sentenced to 14 years in jail in 2012 on charges of using child soldiers, one of only two convictions handed down by the court since it was set up 12 years ago.

Born in 1973, Ntaganda is among a dozen Africans in the custody of the ICC, a court criticised for apparently only targeting leaders from the continent. His trial is set to be complex and last several months.

AFP 
French Soldier in Central African Republic Accused of Sexual Abuse
ABIDJAN (Reuters) - A French soldier deployed to Central African Republic has been accused of sexually abusing a teenage girl in the latest in a series of misconduct allegations against peacekeeping forces there, the United Nations' top human rights official said.

France intervened in its former colony in 2013 to stem violence between Christian militias and largely Muslim Seleka rebels that has led to the de facto partition of the country.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said U.N. staff were informed on Aug. 30 of allegations that a French soldier sexually abused a girl in her mid-to-late teens last year. She gave birth to a child in April and lodged a paternity case with local authorities.

"We simply have to find ways to prevent such odious acts being committed by any soldiers anywhere who are supposed to be protecting vulnerable populations," Zeid said in a statement on Thursday during a visit to Central African Republic.

He said French authorities had been informed of the latest allegation and the U.N. mission, which took over peacekeeping duties from French troops, had offered to help investigate.

Public prosecutors in Paris and French justice ministry officials were not immediately available for comment.

A French military spokesman said an internal investigation had been opened into the allegations.

Foreign troops deployed to quell the violence in the diamond-producing country nation have repeatedly been the focus of abuse allegations this year.

At least 13 French soldiers, two soldiers from Equatorial Guinea and three Chadian troops were implicated in the alleged sexual abuse of children between December 2013 and June 2014, according to a U.N. report leaked in April.

French President Francois Hollande pledged to show no mercy if the allegations were confirmed.

"Any U.N. or other foreign military personnel found guilty must be given sentences that fit the crime," Zeid said.

The U.N. mission, established in April 2014 and known as MINUSCA, has also been hit by accusations of abuse. It said last month it had received 61 allegations of misconduct, including 13 cases of possible sexual exploitation and abuse.

The head of the mission, Babacar Gaye, was forced to resign last month after Amnesty International accused MINUSCA peacekeepers of abuses, including the rape of a 12-year-old girl during an operation in the capital Bangui. [ID:nL1N10N1GL]

(Reporting by Joe Bavier; Additional reporting by Chine Labbe in Paris; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/r-french-soldier-in-central-african-republic-accused-of-sexual-abuse-un-2015-9#ixzz3kks6rCwP
Central African Republic Council Adopts New Constitution
Tuesday 1 September 2015 - 1:42am

File: Before it becomes law, the constitution agreed on Sunday must pass a referendum set for October 5 and followed by legislative and presidential elections on October 18, with a second round slated for October 22.

BANGUI - The transitional council in Central African Republic has adopted a constitution designed to form the base of a new government as the country attempts to turn a page on years of violence, government officials said on Monday.

Before it becomes law, the constitution agreed on Sunday must pass a referendum set for October 5 and followed by legislative and presidential elections on October 18, with a second round slated for October 22.

"The sovereign people will say at the constitutional referendum whether the liberties and fundamental rights ... (in this document) permit the refounding of the republic," said Alexandre-Ferdinand Nguendet, president of the National Transitional Council.

The country descended into chaos in March 2013 when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power, triggering reprisals by "anti-balaka" Christian militias who drove tens of thousands of Muslims from the south in a de facto partition.

The transitional council, which passed the constitution on Sunday with a large majority, was established under interim President Catherine Samba-Panza to lead the country to fresh elections.

The constitution obliges ministers to sign off on decisions by the president and prime minister.

"The government will also be under obligation to inform parliament each time it signs a contract concerning the country's mineral resources, said Bruno Gbiegba, vice president of the transitional council's legal commission.

It also includes a Senate, or second parliamentary chamber, and a National Election Authority, as well as a body dedicated to good governance, Gbiegba said.

Since independence from France in 1960, the country has six constitutions in line with the six presidents who have ruled.

- Reuters
'Cattle War' Rages Amid Central African Republic Sectarian Violence
2015-09-02 11:00

Bangui - A "cattle war" is raging amid the sectarian violence bloodying the Central African Republic, with herds massacred by grenade or machine-gun, cows stolen, breeders kidnapped or murdered and reprisal strikes staged against rival villagers.

Targeting cattle within the country's religious strife inflicts direct economic damage.

Trade in the livestock is a major source of income for around 300 000 people in the nation of five million, and constituted over 10% of GDP in the 2000s, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

The value of cattle has caused herds to be alternatively pillaged or massacred by raiders in virtually all sectors of the country's north and west.

That campaign has choked off supplies to the capital, Bangui, causing the PK 12 cattle auction and slaughterhouse to the north of the city to be shuttered.

"Herd figures have dropped by 77% compared to levels before the crisis, due to mass slaughter and theft," said the FAO.

The agricultural violence is the most recent reverberation of unrest following the March 2013 overthrow of president Francois Bozize by Muslim Seleka rebels in favour of their leader, Michel Djotodia.

Djotodia was forced to step aside in turn for failing to quell sectarian violence between Seleka members and Christian militias known as the anti-balaka, whose deadly clashes erupted in 2013 and 2014 across the country.

1 000 farmers killed

The primary human victims of the recent cattle war chapter of that conflict are Mbororo livestock farmers - members of the Muslim Fula ethnic group caught between anti-balaka and Seleka hatred.

"When the anti-balaka arrived in the West they targeted the Mbororo and their animals. They used grenades to kill cattle, fired Kalashnikovs into herds and massacred our families. My entire herd of 300 cattle, my wife and four children were wiped out," said - in that order - Maloum Bi Issa, a cattle farmer who fled for Bangui after the attack.

"Before, there were cattle everywhere in the country," he said.

According to estimates by the Fula minority in Bangui, around a million cattle have been massacred or stolen, and about 1,000 livestock farmers killed from the country's total Mbororo population of 40 000. Thousands more breeders have fled with their herds for the neighbouring countries of Cameroon, Chad and Sudan.

The result has been reduced beef supplies, and a hungry market for those selling solen cattle.

"No one in Central Africa today can deny they've eaten beef sold by the anti-balaka," says a deputy prefect under the condition of anonymity.

"Entire neighbourhoods were supplied [that way], especially in north Bangui."

Some justify that trade as belated compensation.

"It's the fruit of the victory over the people who killed our parents, raped our mothers, our sisters, our wives, and destroyed our belongings," sais Severin Ndotiyi, a former anti-balaka militant also known as "Satan."

'Don't hesitate to attack'

The flight of so many livestock farmers, however, has modified the way abuse is being meted out. According to an FAO inquiry, armed groups that no longer steal cattle are racketing breeders by demanding protection money in exchange.

"Some farmers are at times held against their will by the anti-balaka so they won't lose an important source of their revenues," the FAO said.

"When farmers manage to escape areas controlled by the anti-balaka, the latter don't hesitate to attack non-governmental organisations, livestock dealers and local populations to steal their belongings. Which poses real security problems."

The movement of displaced farmers has also disrupted land distribution in migratory herding zones. "Restored security will not mean an automatic return of breeders to their former areas," the FAO said.

Beef is highly sought after in a country where the meat is used in three-quarters of prepared dishes -- particularly in Bangui.

Cooked with coconut, cassava leaves, tomato or gooey "goussa" sauce, beef in CAR is served grilled or braised, and used in squash breads and other dishes. It is also smoked by the Fula for longer conservation.

Prior to the start of the virtually uninterrupted violence that began in 1990, "the number of cattle was close to that of the population", recalled Maurice Agoumaka, a former employee of the National Federation of Central African Livestock Farmers.

"Everyone used to say that each Central African had his own cow."
Central African Republic: After 18 Months in Locked Compound, Displaced Families Decide it is Safe to Go Home
3 September 2015

400 displaced families in Berberati who took refuge in the diocese, returned to their original neighborhood after 18 months in this camp. MSF has been accompanying their return by providing each family food package for one month.

For the past 18 months, 400 people (mostly Muslim traders and their families) have been living under self-imposed exile within their own city behind the high walls and locked gates of the Bishop’s compound in Berbérati, Central African Republic (CAR), to escape violence. But in recent weeks, they finally decided it was safe enough to return home.

Inside the compound, living conditions were desperate. The families received basic medical care from a team from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), who ran a mobile clinic inside the grounds several times a week. Those requiring more specialised care were referred to Berbérati University Hospital, where MSF also works.  In the 18 months between February 2014 and July 2015, MSF mobile teams provided more than 4,800 medical consultations inside the compound.

The MSF team also provided food supplies to people sheltering in the compound, with the support of the World Food Programme.

A first group of displaced people returned to their homes in the Poto Poto district of Berbérati in July 2015, after local authorities, with the support of local and international organisations, launched  a ‘social cohesion process’ between the city’s different communities. In early August, the remainder of the families left the compound and returned home.

"The return of the displaced people is welcomed by the population,” said Ben, a community leader in the Poto Poto neighborhood.  “This is the result of long-term work by local authorities and partner organisations."

As they left, MSF distributed one month’s supply of food to every family. Most of the people sheltering in the compound have lost everything, and rebuilding their lives and setting up again as traders will not be easy. Amadou, one of the returnees, said, "We are very happy to be back in the neighbourhood. However, much remains to be done to regain our quality of life."

After 18 months helping people in the Bishop’s compound, the MSF team welcomed their return to their homes. "After a year and a half living in precarious conditions and cut off from the outside world, these families can finally return home," said Geraldine Duc, MSF’s medical coordinator in Berberati. "Although they will have to overcome fear and rebuild what has been destroyed, their lives are slowly returning to their course."

Elsewhere in CAR the situation is not so positive, and MSF remains concerned about the situation of people continuing to shelter in compounds in fear of their lives. In Carnot, for example, some 500 people are living confined within the walls of the church compound, where they have been since February 2014.

One in five of the population of CAR is either displaced within the country, or living as a refugee in neighbouring countries. In July 2015, there were 368,000 people displaced from their homes in CAR, including 30,000 in the capital, Bangui, while some 460,000 Central African refugees are living in Cameroon, Chad and Democratic Republic of Congo.

MSF has been working in CAR since 1997 and currently runs 15 projects across the country. An MSF team started working in Berbérati in January 2014 to assist victims of the conflict and to ensure people had access to medical care. Today, MSF staff work in the paediatric ward and nutrition unit in Berbérati University Hospital. In 2015, 2,349 children were admitted to the paediatric ward and 787 children were treated for malnutrition. MSF teams also support four health centres in the surrounding villages, providing 7,580 medical consultations between January and June 2015.
Muslim Leaders From Central African Republic Meet At Kaiciid to Plan Cooperation for Post-Conflict Reconciliation
PRESS RELEASE

Muslim religious leaders from the Central African Republic met in Vienna on August 27 to discuss how they can bring together Muslim communities from across the country in support of national dialogue and reconciliation.

The meeting was convened by the International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID), the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, which have joined forces to develop a long-term initiative to support the involvement of religious leaders in the process of national reconciliation in CAR.

Moderating the session, KAICIID Senior Adviser Mohammed Abu-Nimer stressed that without cooperation, the future of the country is at stake: "Allowing disagreements and past issues to hinder progress means failure for this reconciliation process. Until the religious communities in the CAR can overcome their differences, both within and among the groups, no progress can be made. This is not easy, but it must be done, and done in a dialogical way."

The conflict in the Central African Republic has killed thousands and left hundreds of thousands homeless. A report submitted to the UN Security Council on December 19 2014 said up to 6,000 people had been killed though it "considers that such estimates fail to capture the full magnitude of the killings that occurred".

Tens of thousands of Muslims live in UN-protected enclaves, and those outside these zones have been targeted with impunity, according to reports. More than one million people, Animists, Christians and Muslims, have been displaced. Women, and in particular Muslim women, and children have faced particular victimisation as a result of the militarisation of the conflict. Many continue to be enslaved to this day.

Despite a ceasefire concluded in July 2014, violence, widespread poverty, and displacement continue to be problems, with reports of violence continuing as recently as August 2015.

A reconciliation process is underway: the Bangui Forum in May 2015 brought together nearly 700 leaders from diverse groups within the CAR's society-including the transitional government, national political parties, the main opposing armed groups (the Séléka and anti-Balaka), the private sector, civil society, traditional chiefs, and religious groups-to define their collective vision for the country's future. One of the recommendations of the Forum is to strengthen the role of religious leaders in the reconciliation process.

But in addition to promoting inter-religious cohesion, intra-religious cohesion continues to be a challenge in the ethnically and religiously diverse country. Issues of national and ethnic identity and citizenship complicate the religious leadership's attempts to forge a united way forward.

This meeting, jointly organised by KAICIID and the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers, aimed to strengthen the Islamic community in the Central African Republic through dialogue, and to assist their efforts to forge a unified voice and vision for the Islamic community in the Central African Republic.

The group made preparations for an Intra-Muslim Conference later in the fall, where participants will discuss issues concerning Muslim citizenship and identity and how these issues can be addressed within the larger framework of national reconciliation.

KAICIID in the Central African Republic

Independently of this process, KAICIID is also working with international NGO Search for Common Ground to facilitate a process of inter-religious dialogue, to bring different religious communities together to better the future of the country.

KAICIID Deputy Secretary General for External Relations, Alvaro Albacete added that this joint initiative will support the work being done by the United Nations agencies in the country, and that it has received the blessing of the transitional government, inter-religious groups in the country and NGOs involved in reconciliation efforts.

"This initiative underscores the long-term commitment that KAICIID and its partners have toward the process of national reconciliation in CAR. The Conference will be the first phase of a multi-year project that we foresee in the country," he said.

He added that this initiative also reinforces the work that KAICIID is doing to support the Platform of Religious leaders in CAR with its partner Search for a Common Ground.
Liberia Declared Free of Ebola Transmissions
Jonathan Paye-Layleh, The Associated Press
Thursday, September 3, 2015 11:16AM EDT

MONROVIA, Liberia -- The World Health Organization declared Liberia Ebola-free for a second time on Thursday after the country hardest hit by the deadly virus saw a brief resurgence of cases not long after the first time it thought the disease was gone for good.

More than 4,800 people have died in Liberia since the outbreak began in West Africa in late 2013.

The country celebrated what it thought was the end of Ebola in May, but then six more cases emerged the following month.

That started the clock over -- 42 days or two incubation periods of 21 days -- before Liberia could return to being free of transmission. On Thursday, officials announced they had made it without any more cases.

"Today is a day to celebrate, but we must not forget what we have learned," Chief Medical Officer Francis Kateh said. "As long as there is one person with Ebola in our region, Ebola is a threat."

Sierra Leone made it to 42 days only to have a new case emerge. Guinea, where the epidemic began, reported two new cases last week. Experts have said that frequent travel between the countries contributed to Ebola's spread. Health checkpoints were later put in place that test travellers for high fever -- the main symptom of Ebola.

Liberia now enters a 90-day intensive surveillance period, when health care workers are to still be on the lookout for any possible Ebola cases.

The worst Ebola outbreak in history has killed more than 11,300 people overall, hitting primarily Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
200 People Are to Be Vaccinated in Sierra Leone After Ebola Death
Helen Regan @hcregan  Sept. 2, 2015    

The country had begun a 42-day countdown to being declared Ebola-free

The World Health Organization is to begin vaccinating about 200 people in Sierra Leone who came into contact with a woman who died from Ebola on Saturday.

The woman, a 67-year-old from the Kambia district near the border with Guinea, died just five days after the country discharged its last known Ebola patient from hospital, reports Reuters. Sierra Leone had begun a 42-day countdown to being declared Ebola-free — the last reported case of the disease being on Aug. 8.

“We will vaccinate those … who came into direct contact with the deceased and those contacts they also came into close contact with,” said WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris.

The head of the National Ebola Response Center in Sierra Leone, Pallo Conteh, said more Ebola cases in the country are likely to be reported.

Ebola experts are still investigating the source of transmission and have appealed to the niece of the woman to come forward as she was at high risk.

Last year’s deadly outbreak infected more than 28,000 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and killed more than 11,300.
Bashir & Zuma Agree to Coordinate on ICC
September 3, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir held talks with his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma on the sidelines of the WWII victory celebrations in Beijing and have agreed on a plan to confront challenges facing Africa top of them is the issue of the International Criminal Court (ICC), state media reported.

The two leaders also discussed the crisis in South Sudan and efforts undertaken to reach a lasting peace via efforts of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

Sudanese foreign minister told official news agency (SUNA) that Zuma accepted BAshir’s invitation to visit Khartoum by the end of this year or early next year.

The report did not elaborate on what they decided in terms of ICC. The South African presidency’s separate statement said that sixteen bilateral agreements have been concluded between the two countries since February.

“South Africa seeks to further strengthen cooperation with Sudan in the fields of agriculture, agro-processing, science and technology, energy, infrastructure development, mining and retail.”

South African government came into the spotlight last June after it hosted Bashir despite an ICC warrant for him and even ignored a local court order barring his arrest.

Zuma defended his government’s decision not to apprehend Bashir saying he was invited by the African Union (AU).

"He is the guest of the AU," Zuma told Democratic Alliance (DA) opposition MP’s who demanded an explanation in parliament last month.

The issue has triggered tensions between Zuma and the judiciary amid attacks directed by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) to judges.

The attacks came after the North Gauteng High Court ruled that government had broken the law by allowing Bashir to leave the country despite orders banning his departure pending a decision on his arrest.

The court reprimanded the government for flouting its own laws saying that they undermined the country’s constitutional democracy in allowing Bashir’s exit.

“A democratic State based on the rule of law cannot exist or function, if the government ignores its constitutional obligations and fails to abide by Court orders. A Court is the guardian of justice, the corner-stone of a democratic system based on the rule of law. If the State, an organ of State or State official does not abide by Court orders, the democratic edifice will crumble stone-by-stone until it collapses and chaos ensues,” presiding Judge Dunstan Mlambo said at the time.

Mlambo also invited the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) “to consider whether criminal proceedings are appropriate”.

The government said that it may consider withdrawing from the ICC after exhausting all other remedial measures.

(ST)

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Sudan’s Bashir Holds Talks With Chinese Leader Who Hails Him As ‘Old Friend’
September 1, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir held talks in Beijing with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Tuesday amid criticism by the United States which noted his status as an individual wanted on charges of war crimes and genocide.

Jinping described the Sudanese president as an "old friend" declaring his country’s welcome to Bashir and his delegation which included the ministers of foreign affairs, oil and transport among others.

"China and Sudan are like two brothers that are also good friends and partners. Mr Bashir coming to China shows our partnership is strong" Jinping told Bashir according to Chinese media.

In contrast, the United States expressed its displeasure over the visit saying that Bashir should not be welcomed by countries but should rather face justice.

“As you know, he’s been charged with – by the ICC, International Criminal Court, with war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, and warrants for his arrest remain outstanding. And we strongly support the ICC’s efforts to hold accountable those responsible for those acts. Our position is clear: We oppose invitations, facilitation, or support for travel by persons subject to outstanding ICC warrants,” US State Department spokesperson Mark Toner told reporters on Monday.

He stressed that "the International Criminal Court request to arrest al-Bashir still stands," and stressed that "the United States strongly supports the efforts of the international tribunal to hold accountable those responsible for such acts."

“[W]e’ve called on all countries to join the international community in its call for Sudan obviously to fully cooperate with the ICC, and requested that governments, including China’s, not invite or facilitate or frankly support travel by President Bashir. And we have a longstanding policy of urging other nations to refrain from lending political or financial support to persons subject to ICC arrest warrants in Darfur. So it’s a serious cause for concern that he remains at large,” he added.

“[W] e believe China, like any nation, as you say, as a member of the Security Council, should weigh its concern – or weigh the world’s concerns about President Bashir and the fact that, as I said, he’s got an active warrant out for his arrests for war crimes.

However, the spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry Hula Chunying said that people were “over thinking” the issue of Bashir’s attendance at the commemoration of world war II event where war crimes were committed

"The people of Africa, including Sudan, made an important contribution in the victory in the World Anti-Fascist War. China’s invite to President Bashir to the commemoration activities is reasonable and fair. While he is in China we will give him the treatment he should get," Chunying told reporters.

“As China is not a member of the ICC, relevant issues will be handled "on the basis of the basic principles of international law," she added.

Bashir is wanted by the Hague tribunal for alleged war crimes committed in Darfur. China is not an ICC member and had made it clear in the past that it does not approve of the warrant even though it chose not to veto the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) 2005 resolution empowering the Hague-based court to investigate crimes in Sudan’s western region.

China’s non-veto on that resolution has angered Sudanese officials who expressed shock that despite their close relationship with Beijing, the latter did not stand up at the UNSC to defend Khartoum at that instance.

(ST)
Bashir’s Plane Forced to Make Emergency Landing in Pakistan En Route to China
September 2, 2015 (WASHINGTON) – The plane which carried Sudanese President Omer Hassan al-Bashir to China this week was forced to make an emergency landing in northwest Pakistan according to newspaper reports.

Pakistani newspapers said that the plane’s fuel levels reached critically low levels forcing it to land in Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore.

It is not clear why the unexpected shortage occurred for a trip that had to be planned beforehand.

The Governor of Punjab province Rafiq Rajwana and Lahore’s District Coordination officer (DCO) Muhammad Usman went to the airport to greet Bashir before he left after the refueling stop.

Stringent security arrangements were made during the plane’s stop at Lahore airport, Pakistani media reported.

Sudan Tribune could not confirm speculations that the situation came about because one or more countries denied air passage to the plane. Sudanese state media made no mention of the stop.

Bashir was subject to an embarrassing situation in June 2011 on his way to China for a state visit when Turkmenistan and Tajikistan refused to grant permission to his plane. As a result, he was forced to return to Tehran where he was attending a summit there in order to decide on a new route to reach Beijing.

Last April, government sources told Sudan Tribune that Bashir was forced to cancel a trip to Indonesia at the last minute after several countries refused to grant passage to his plane. The names of these nations and reasons behind their decision were not disclosed.

Also in August 2013, Saudi Arabia blocked his flight to Iran citing failure to obtain prior clearance.

Bashir’s trips are generally carefully planned in light of him being wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

PROTECT CHINESE INVESTMENTS IN SUDAN

In Beijing, the Sudanese president pledged to protect Chinese companies and investments in Sudan and to undertake all necessary measures to ensure their success.

Bashir witnessed on Wednesday in Beijing the signing of several agreements and memorandums of understanding between Chinese and Sudanese companies, describing the establishment of the strategic partnership between Sudan and China as a “great leap forward in relations between the two countries”.

“China is the largest investor in Sudan and it is a true friend and partner who seeks to secure the mutual benefits without imposing conditions that could negatively impact on the interests of the African [countries]”, he added.

The Sudanese president added that ties between his country and China have been growing in various political, social, trade, cultural and military areas since 65 years ago, describing relations between the two countries as an excellent and successful example for cooperation among nations.

Meanwhile, the Sudanese president told the Chinese Central Television (CCTV) that national dialogue conference would convene on October 10th and continues for three month at the latest.

He reiterated that dialogue is open for all political forces without pre-conditions, stressing his government’s commitment to offering the necessary guarantees for the rebel groups and political opposition abroad to take part in the national dialogue conference inside Sudan.

Bashir further said that his country plays important role alongside the African Union (AU) and the neighbouring countries in resolving the ongoing crisis in South Sudan.

Sudan’s president and his accompanying delegation including ministers of foreign affairs, oil and transport among others arrived in China on Monday to participate in celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Despite the ICC warrant and criticisms of the visit by the United States, Chinese president Xi Jinping described Bashir as an "old friend".

The spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry Hula Chunying told reporters that people were “over thinking” the issue of Bashir attendance at the commemoration of world war II event where war crimes were committed

"The people of Africa, including Sudan, made an important contribution in the victory in the World Anti-Fascist War. China’s invite to President Bashir to the commemoration activities is reasonable and fair. While he is in China we will give him the treatment he should get," Chunying told reporters.

“As China is not a member of the ICC, relevant issues will be handled "on the basis of the basic principles of international law," she added.

China is not an ICC member and had made it clear in the past that it does not approve of the warrant even though it chose not to veto the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) 2005 resolution empowering the Hague-based court to investigate crimes in Sudan’s western region.

China’s non-veto on that resolution has angered Sudanese officials who expressed shock that despite their close relationship with Beijing, the latter did not stand up at the UNSC to defend Khartoum at that instance.

(ST)
East Equatoria Governor Queries Rebels’ Commitment to Peace Deal
August 2, 2015 (TORIT) – The governor of South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria state, Louis Lobong has questioned the country’s armed opposition faction’s commitment to the recently-signed peace deal.

Lobong, while addressing reporters on Wednesday, claimed the rebels had captured several places in the state, but did not name any of the allegedly captured areas.

He further said the armed opposition group had embarked on a massive mobilisation anf recruitment campaign, allegations Sudan Tribune could not independently ascertain.

“We are following with great concern the continued negative messages and propaganda issued over media by Dr. Riek Machar and his associates contradicting the peace agreement they signed on the 17 August this year”, said the governor in the capital, Torit.

The question is, why mobilise and attack when the peace agreement had been signed? These serious negative messages explain the lack of seriousness and commitment by the rebels to the signed compromise peace agreement and its implementation, he added.

The governor also questioned claims by the rebel leader that 600 political prisoners were allegedly killed by the government in the capital, Juba on 25 August, and wondered why the latter used media propaganda instead of directly contacting President Salva Kiir.

“Dr. Riek Machar has raised a very serious allegation accusing the government of the Republic of South Sudan of killing 600 political detainees. This allegation is politically motivated and intended to create fear and prevent people from returning to their original homes”, said Lobong, who doubles as chairperson of the ruling party (SPLM) in the state.

A rival faction of the armed opposition movement has voiced concerns over the new peace deal, a matter Lobong said raises eyebrows on Machar’s leadership abilities.

The governor, however, said it was time to start building confidence and trust among South Sudanese and the country’s two main leaders for the sake of national unity.

(ST)
UN Condemns Violation of South Sudan Peace Agreement
September 3, 2015 (JUBA) – The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has condemned the violations of the compromise deal on resolution of South Sudan’s conflict, urging the warring parties to take all necessary steps to meet their obligations.

Two attack helicopters, UNMISS reported, fired rockets in the direction of the west bank of the River Nile in the Upper Nile state capital, Malakal on Wednesday.

“Heavy explosions, including mortar shells, as well as heavy artillery and small arms fire were also heard coming from Malakal towards areas located on the west bank,” Stephane Dujarric, the spokesperson for the UN secretary general said in a brief statement.

“UNMISS also reports instances of firing in Malakal earlier today [Thursday],” he added, without revealing the forces involved.

The UN vowed to continue protecting civilians in Malakal, including at its protection sites, through regular patrols in town and the airport.

REBELS BLAME GOVERNMENT

Meanwhile, a division within the armed opposition faction (SPLM-IO) accused government forces of allegedly attacking their positions in Lelo and Warjok villages on the west bank of the While Nile River.

The military spokesperson of the SPLM-IO, Col. William Gatjiath Deng said forces loyal to President Salva Kiir used gunships to shell their bases in Upper Nile state at various time intervals on Thursday.

“The regime forces in Malakal shelled the same areas using artillery, D-30s, tanks. A force of 250 government soldiers crossed to the west bank to attack our said bases. Fighting will start soon,” Deng said in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune.

“These acts are blatant violations of the permanent ceasefire which may lead to unraveling of the peace agreement,” he added.

Reiterating the armed opposition’s commitment to the ceasefire deal, Deng urged the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)-Plus, African Union and the international community to halt the violation of the permanent ceasefire by government.

(ST)
New South Sudan Rebel Group Claims Destroying Government Forces
South Sudan soldiers on patrol in Eastern Equatoria.
September 3, 2015 (JUBA) – A new group calling itself Federal Democratic Party (FDP) led by South Sudan’s former culture and sports minister, Gabriel Changson Chang claimed destruction of government forces moving in barges along the River Nile towards Malakal on Tuesday.

The group of defectors from the armed opposition faction led by former vice president, Riek Machar, said their forces were responsible for the destruction of an army convoy of three barges and six gunboats in Jonglei state’s Fangak and Tonga county in Upper Nile state.

With their military wing, South Sudan Armed Forces (SSAF) allegedly led by Major General Peter Gatdet Yak, the group said they will be fighting against both the government led by president Salva Kiir and the opposition group led by Machar, saying the latter had already joined the government.

Spokesperson of the group further claimed in a press statement extended to Sudan Tribune that Machar had lost control of his forces in the oil-rich Upper Nile state and that Major General Johnson Olony and Major General Gabriel Tanginya also joined them.

“Dr.Riek Machar has become part of Juba led government after signing the compromised peace agreement and has no control over the forces in Upper Nile state,” said Colonel Lony Thichiot Ngundeng, who claimed to be the spokesman of the group.

He said they have launched their military activity to fight the government, criticizing the peace agreement signed president Kiir and Machar.

However, armed opposition led by Machar also issued a number of statements saying clashes occurred between their forces and government troops moving in the river, saying the river offensive had been destroyed.

(ST)
Origins of the Oppression of African Women
August 28, 2015
Garikai Chengu Correspondent

Unbeknown to many, most of human history took place in Africa, where women were equal, if not superior, to men. For thousands of years, African societies were matriarchal and they prospered. By bringing an oppressive form of colonial Christianity to Africa, Europeans replaced millennia of prosperous matriarchy with oppressive patriarchy.

The world’s first civilisations arose from the spiritual, economic and social efforts of African women and African women, in turn, went on to lead those matriarchal societies. Feminist artist Lauren Webber’s works on traditional fabrics at the First Floor Art Gallery in Zimbabwe explore the complex relationship between the past and present condition of African women, by exposing the continent’s long history of female dominance and how it has been subverted by Christian patriarchies.

The rituals and culture of African matriarchy did not celebrate violence; rather, they promoted fecundity, exchange and redistribution. Matriarchy in ancient Africa was not a mirror image of patriarchy today; because, it was not based on appropriation and violence.

Historian, Cheikh Anta Diop illustrates how as early as 10000 BC women in Africa pioneered organised crop and livestock cultivation, thereby creating the pre-conditions for surplus, wealth and trade. African women are responsible for the greatest invention for the well-being of human kind, namely food security. It is the practice of organised agriculture that made population expansion, food surpluses and civilisation possible.

Pre-capitalist, matriarchal civilisations in Africa included the Nigerian Zazzau, Sudanese Kandake, Angolan Nzinga, and Ashanti of Ghana, to name but a few. The quintessential African matriarchal system was most evident and most enduring in black Ancient Egypt.

Women in Ancient Egypt owned and had complete control over both movable and immovable property, such as real estate in 3000 BC. As late as the 1960s, this right could not be claimed by women in some parts of the United States. A close look at Ancient Egyptian papyrus’ reveals that society was strictly matrilinial and inheritance and descent was through the female line.

The Egyptian woman enjoyed the same legal and economic rights as the Egyptian man, and the proof of this is reflected in Egyptian art and historical inscriptions. Egypt was an unequal society, but the inequality was based much more upon differences in the social classes, rather than differences in gender.

From ancient legal documents, we know that women were able to manage and dispose of private property, including land, portable goods, servants, slaves, livestock, and financial instruments such as endowments and annuities. A woman could administer all her property independently and according to her free will and in several excavated cemeteries the richest tombs were those of women.

The independence and leadership roles of Ancient Egyptian women are part of an African cultural pattern that began millennia ago and continued into recent times, until Europeans brought colonial Christianity to Africa. In the 1860s, the colonial explorer and Christian missionary, Dr David Livingstone, wrote of meeting female chiefs in the Congo, and in most of the monarchical systems of traditional Africa, there were either one or two women of the highest rank who occupied a position at par with that of the king or complementary to it.

Professor of Ancient African History, Barbara Lesko, illustrates how anthropologists who have studied African history and records of early travellers and missionaries tell us, “everywhere in Africa that one scrapes the surface one finds ethno-historical data on the authority once shared by women”. In the years just before colonisation, African women were largely equal to men. The significant value of African women’s productive labour in producing and processing food created and maintained their rights in domestic, political, cultural, economic, religious and social spheres, among others.

Because women were central to production in these pre-class societies, systematic inequality between the sexes was non-existent, and elder women in particular enjoyed a relatively high status. With the advent of colonial Christianity, the marginalisation of women came in several ways. Firstly, the true history of Jesus Christ was whitewashed in order to subjugate black Africans and promote a European male patriarchy. The Jesus that Africans were introduced to by European missionaries was a white skinned, blue-eyed man.

It is a historical and biblical fact that Jesus was actually a dark-skinned man.The Bible itself offers evidence of Jesus’ dark skin; and the book of Revelations likens Jesus’ feet to “fine brass, as if burned in a furnace”. In the book of Daniel, it says the hair of the Messiah’s head would be “like the pure wool” of a lamb. The scholarly consensus is that Jesus was, like most first-century Jews, a dark-skinned man. According to the New Testament, Mary and Joseph travelled south among dark-skinned people to hide baby Jesus from Herod. Clearly hiding a white baby among dark-skinned people would not have been possible.

Jesus’ race is important because the historically false image of a white Jesus has been utilised to justify slavery and the genocide of millions of indigenous peoples in Africa and beyond. Patriarchal Christianity, and its masculine fundamentalism, have brought to Africa the monogamous nuclear family unit, whose sole purpose was to pass on private property in the form of inheritance from one generation of males to the next. Under colonial Christianity, the modern nuclear family is founded on the somewhat concealed domestic slavery of the wife.

A glance at the dictionary will reveal that the word family has rather telling Latin origins. “Famulus” literally means domestic slave; and “familia”, signified the total number of slaves belonging to one man. Colonial Christianity also brought to Africa the concept of the Victorian woman: a woman who should stay in the private domain and leave the “real work” to the men. Due to the Victorian concept of women held by colonialists, African women were excluded from the new religious, political, and socioeconomic systems.

The imported patriarchal religion does not allow women to play the leading roles they have in the indigenous African religion. In ancient African religions, it is not only God who is a “She”, but also the main guardian spirits and sacred principles are of the female gender. The concept of a Supreme Mother is also documented by Rosalind Jeffries, who, in a paper titled “The Image of Woman in African Cave Art”, shows how in the African creation stories, the Primordial Mother created woman then man.

Clearly, Europeans manipulated true Christianity for profit and plunder. If the colonialists’ understanding of Christianity could be used to justify rape, theft, murder and empire, then their understanding of Christianity is completely wrong. The barbarism of colonialism in Africa was committed in the name of Christianity, in clear violation of the teachings of Jesus Christ, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions, all of whom pushed for just and equitable treatment of all of God’s children.

The greatest threat towards African women having a glorious future is our people’s ignorance of African women’s glorious past. Armed with knowledge, Africans must now fight to restore African women to a position of respect and dignity that exceeds that which she enjoyed before colonialism.

Garikai Chengu is a scholar at Harvard University. Contact him on garikai.chengu@gmail.com
Moving Africa’s Universities Forward
August 31, 2015
Thabo Mbeki Special Correspondent

There has been extensive discussion over the years relating to the matter of the role and place of the African university in the 21st century. We also have the advantage that only four months ago we had the first African Higher Education Summit on Revitalising Higher Education for Africa’s Future, which was held in Dakar, Senegal. Even before that, in 2009, the Association of African Universities issued its “Abuja Declaration on Sustainable Development in Africa: The Role of Higher Education”, adopted at its 12th general conference of that year. Even earlier, in 2006, UNESCO convened a colloquium at its headquarters in Paris under the theme – “Universities as Centres of Research and Knowledge Creation: An Endangered Species?” Though this colloquium was not focused on Africa, nevertheless it came to conclusions which are directly relevant to the very theme this summit has convened to discuss.

I have mentioned all these initiatives to make the point that I believe that we have a pretty good idea of the matters on which we should focus to move Africa’s universities forward. What remains to be done is to elaborate the practical and realistic programmes that should be put in place to achieve the objectives which have been identified.

I am certain that it is not necessary for me to list the catalogue of measures on which Africa must act to achieve our common objective of moving our universities forward. However, it may not be amiss if I recall the principles mentioned in the draft declaration and plan of action adopted at the Dakar African Higher Education Summit. The document says:

“We agree to be guided by the following principles:

1. Provision of high quality, pan-African and globally competitive education;

2. Promotion of world class culture of research and innovation;

3. Provision of adequate resources;

4. Promotion of access, equity, and accountability;

5. Promotion of institutional autonomy and academic freedom;

6. Pursuit of operational excellence in institutional management;

7. Pursuit of the engagement of African academic communities in higher education policymaking;

8. Strengthening linkages to society, economy, and employers;

9. Building inter-institutional collaborations; and,

10. Pursuing mutually-beneficial internationalisation initiatives.”

I believe that all of us are perfectly familiar with the detailed obligations which attach to honouring these principles including with regard to such matters as: Increasing student enrolment, paying attention to the involvement of women; Increasing the appropriately qualified teaching staff to maintain the necessary teacher/student ratios;

Ensuring adequate access to books and journals, the internet and ICT;

Building the physical infrastructure to enable the university to discharge its teaching, learning, research and community responsibilities;

Addressing issues of epistemology and curriculum development;

Attending to the matter of the employability of the graduating students in the economy, the state and the community;

Instituting a quality assurance system;

Focusing on the issue of the expansion of knowledge through research, publication and the access of students both to the practice and outcomes of research and encouraging innovation;

Optimising learning and research possibilities by establishing linkages among the African universities and institutes and establishing centres of excellence, including research institutes and universities, and drawing on the African intelligentsia and professionals who have left the continent through the so-called brain drain;

Increasing the intake of students and lecturers especially from other African countries while avoiding weakening the capacity to deliver quality higher education in any one of our countries; and generating the necessary funds to finance all these complex processes on a sustainable basis. Needless to say, the challenge to achieve these objectives is not merely a technical matter. I strongly believe that it requires the right mind-set to bring about the important changes which I suppose are a matter of common cause. In this respect, I would like to cite some comments that have been made on the matter of the future of the African university, comments with which you will be familiar.

In his paper, “Tertiary Education and Development in Sub-Saharan Africa at the Dawn of the Twenty First Century: A Lost Hope, Or Present Opportunity?”, Raphael Ogom (of DePaul University, Chaicago) said: “In its current form, design and content, (sub-Saharan African higher education) is of limited relevance in the context of rapid social and economic changes in the region and bears little connections to the local economy and society.

“Modelled after European higher education, it has evolved from educating only a few highly qualified students into mass systems of lower quality (Bollag, 2004). This expansion, unfortunately, has not been accompanied by a grounded re-development of curricula that reflects, and is better suited, to the realities of the Sub-Saharan Africa environment and development needs.

“A re-think and re-design of the mission of higher education from the current curricula of theoretical sophistication, mismatch, and irrelevance to one that holistically aligns the educational system with the local industry and overall development needs, is long overdue… (Without this) it is likely, and regrettably so, that the socio-economic development promise of tertiary education in Africa might remain a lost hope at the dawn of the 21st century and beyond.”

I am certain that you are better placed to judge whether this assessment of our universities is correct. However I am certain that there is no gainsaying the fact that none of the changes proposed even at the Dakar Summit would make sense outside the context of the transformation urged by Professor Ogom. In the 2009 Abuja Declaration I have mentioned, the Association of African Universities said:

“The real challenges for sustainable development in Africa are the promotion of economic and industrial development, the eradication of poverty, the resolution of conflicts, and the optimum use of its natural resources. “(And yet) the African higher education research agenda tends to focus on purely academic and scientific objectives in order to ensure publication in refereed journals, with little regard to developmental needs because of the ‘publish or perish’ syndrome.

“Most of the research works in Africa are rarely relevant to the search for continental solutions to health, education, water, climate change, energy and food security – all sustainable development indices. “Where research has been conducted in relevant areas, the findings have remained largely on shelves and unavailable to those who need to take action or implement the often useful recommendations.”

These observations are directly relevant to the important matter of the funding of higher education to which I will return. But before I do so, please allow me to quote some comments made by emeritus professor Eldred Durosimi Jones of the University of Sierra Leone in his 2004 paper on “African Academics and African Universities in the Twenty-First Century: Needs and Responsibilities”.

Professor Jones writes: “(The) division between the privileged and the under-privileged (in Africa) has resulted in social and political instability which is bound to continue as long as a significant section of society is left out of the full participation for and enjoyment of the benefits of development.

“What then are some of these challenges that our academics must face if they are to fulfil their role in the surrounding society? They are to produce men and women who in addition to their particular skills as scientists, engineers, teachers, social workers, priests, artists etc., must be sufficiently aware and committed to eradicating this social scourge.

“Whatever their individual professional skills, students must emerge from our tertiary institutions with this social awareness . . . Programmes must be devised, preferably a general programme to be undertaken by all students irrespective of their particular discipline early in their courses of study.

“All the students should come out of such a course aware of their environment and their place in it. In these days, it must be realised that this environment is becoming increasingly global . . . Our aim in teaching should be to produce men and women who are both critical and creative. Our students should be encouraged to be thinkers and doers rather than accumulators of facts and received knowledge. This must be so if they are to be instruments of change, working towards the realisation of a just and consequently, stable society.”

This brings me to the very important matter of the generation of the funds needed to finance the changes needed to move Africa’s universities forward. In this regard I will refer only to the issue of public funds.

Correctly the Dakar Summit said it is necessary to “increase investment in higher education to facilitate development, promote stability, enhance access and equity; develop, recruit and retain excellent academic staff and pursue cutting-edge research and provision of high quality teaching. Appropriate investments are required at institutional, national, regional, and international levels.”

It then said: “Sustained efforts must be undertaken led by governments, and including all key stakeholders in higher education, to situate higher education at the centre of the development agenda. Establishing such a priority is a prerequisite to guarantee its funding. “The expansion and provision of quality higher education will require proportionally higher, sustainable, and predictable levels of public funding.”

I think the critical phrase in these paragraphs is – “situate higher education at the centre of the development agenda.” This is the development agenda to which the Association of African Universities referred, which would be addressed by the transformed universities of which Professpr Ogom wrote, sustained by the relevant research the Association of African Universities spoke about and promoted by the socially conscious graduates Professor Jones visualised.

The Dakar summit said the sustained efforts to situate higher education at the centre of the development agenda should be led by our governments. I think this is wrong or perhaps I should say that it requires prior preparation.

Somewhere deep in its bowels, the Dakar declaration makes the critically important undertaking that: “African higher education institutions shall commit themselves to the pursuit of excellence in teaching and learning, research and scholarship, public service and provision of solutions to the development challenges and opportunities facing African people across the continent.”

In my view this important paragraph should have been placed in the very preamble of the declaration. In all humility I would have rephrased it to read something like this: “We have gathered at this 1st African Higher Education Summit to consider the strategic question of what the African universities should do effectively to help advance the African development agenda.

“We are firmly convinced that higher education on our continent should be situated at the centre of the African development agenda. “Accordingly, the African higher education institutions shall commit themselves to public service and the provision of solutions to the development challenges and opportunities facing African people across the continent through the pursuit of excellence in teaching and learning, research and scholarship, and community service.”

As all of us know, at independence and for some time after that, our countries viewed our universities with great pride. Indeed many of these were a direct product of our liberation from colonialism. In very practical ways these universities were indeed situated at the centre of the African development agenda through the supply of the required educated cadre, the generation of ideas to advance the development agenda and engagement in the upliftment of communities.

There is fairly extensive literature about how the then healthy relationship between the state and the university was weakened and destroyed. In many instances, if not most, this was linked to the introduction of Structural Adjustment Programmes by the Bretton Woods institutions and the perception among the African ruling elite that the universities were serving as centres of political opposition to this elite.

These combined in a process which led to the impoverishment and weakening as well as the marginalisation of the African University from both the state and the development agenda. Thus did it come about that in many African countries governments came to consider expenditure on universities and therefore higher education as a burdensome but unavoidable cost rather than an absolutely necessary and beneficial investment.

I therefore think that one of the major tasks our universities must undertake is advocacy to convince the so-called political class in Africa that they are indeed situated at the centre of the African development agenda and therefore need new investment significantly to improve their capacity to discharge their responsibilities relating to that development agenda.

It is only once they are convinced about all this that it would be possible for our governments to lead the process which would result in the substantially larger public funding that is required and without which many of the radical changes that need to be made will not see the light of day.

We are very fortunate that when it approved the document “Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want” in January this year, the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government also endorsed the objective contained in that document, namely: “[To] build and expand an African knowledge society through transformation and investments in universities, science, technology, research and innovation; and through the harmonisation of education standards and mutual recognition of academic and professional qualifications [as well as] establish an African Accreditation Agency to develop and monitor educational quality standards across the continent.”

Perhaps the recognition of the need for an African knowledge society to achieve the Africa we want by 2063 is exactly the message we need to signal the commitment of our political leadership to provide the resources which will enable the African university to play its role, firmly situated at the centre of the Agenda 2063 development vision.

Time will tell how well the African state and the African university respond to the shared challenges they face!

Thabo Mbeki, is former president of South Africa. This was the address he delivered at the Africa Universities Summit held in Johannesburg. This article is reproduced from African Executive.
Xi Says Anti-Fascist War "a Decisive Battle" for Justice
English.news.cn
2015-09-03 10:41:54
Editor: huaxia

BEIJING, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping said Thursday the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War were "a decisive battle between justice and evil, between light and darkness, and between progress and reaction."

Xi made the remarks while addressing a gathering to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the victory of Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War in downtown Beijing.

"In that devastating war, the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression started the earliest and lasted the longest," he said.

Ravaging through Asia, Europe, Africa and Oceania, that war inflicted over 100 million military and civilian casualties. China suffered over 35 million casualties and the Soviet Union lost more than 27 million lives, according to Xi.

The victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression is "the first complete victory" won by China in its resistance against foreign aggression in modern times, he said.

"This great triumph crushed the plot of the Japanese militarists to colonize and enslave China and put an end to China's national humiliation of suffering successive defeats at the hands of foreign aggressors in modern times," he said.

The president said that this victory also re-established China as a major country in the world and won the Chinese people respect of all peace-loving people around the world.

"This great triumph opened up bright prospects for the great renewal of the Chinese nation and set our ancient country on a new journey after gaining rebirth," he said.
China Focus: Foreign Troops March in China Parade to Display Wartime Unity Against Fascism
English.news.cn
2015-09-03 11:12:00

BEIJING, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- As rifle-carrying foreign troops clad in manifold uniforms goose-stepped with crisp, tidy clip-clops and neatly choreographed movements across the Tian'anmen Square, China's V-Day parade on Thursday gained its international gravity.

The display marked the country's endeavor to revive the forgotten memory that China and its global allies joined hands to win a war against "the darkest forces ever" in the history of mankind 70 years ago.

Nearly 1,000 high-spirited soldiers from 17 countries marched in the wake of veterans and Chinese army formations, marking the foreign troops' premiere in a Chinese military parade.

Among them were Belarus, Cuba, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Kyrghyzstan, Mexico, Mongolia, Pakistan, Serbia, Tajikistan and Russia. Six others, including Afghanistan, Cambodia, Fiji, Laos, Vanuatu and Venezuela, marched their delegations for parade.

Most of those countries are sufferers of the World War II and some of them gained national independence as the post-war world order took shape.

They were observed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and governmental representatives including the U.S. Ambassador to China.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Germany Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder were on the rostrum.

"China's contribution and sacrifice during the Second World War is very much recognized, appreciated for all such sufferings, and sympathized by the world people," said Ban Ki-moon before the parade.

FIRST ANTI-FASCIST FIGHTERS

In Shanghai, Sara Imas, 65, was watching the live-show of military parade. She is a Jewish descendant born in the eastern Chinese city. Her parents came to Shanghai in 1939. They were among 30,000 refugees migrating from Europe during the war.

"Chinese put themselves in our position and offered help to us in the most difficult times," Imas told Xinhua. "So I am proud of the military parade."

Chinese people's empathy with Jewish refugees stemmed mostly from their own pains inflicted by the Japanese aggression.

China was the first country to face the onslaught of the Axis Powers in 1937, two years before Britain and France, and four years before the United States, Rana Mitter wrote in his 2013 book "Forgotten Ally."

China's anti-fascist war began even earlier actually. On Sept. 18, 1931, Japanese army invaded northeastern China, marking the starting point of the Chinese people's courageous fight against fascism.

American reporter Israel Epstein, writer of "The People's War," was initially skeptical of the ill-equipped army of a country far from being industrialized capable of making any effective resistance against the Japanese aggression.

Epstein, a reporter on wartime China was surprised to find how the communist-led guerrilla mobilized farmers in occupied North China to make vast rural area a base for tenacious, protracted war.

He described China as "an important ally of democracy and frightening enemy of Fascist invaders," whose struggle provided "meanings and hope" for people all over the world.

FIGHTING TOGETHER

China considered the march-past of foreign troops in its V-Day parade a symbol of unity that China and allied forces fought together to finally defeat the evil forces.

Nell Calloway, granddaughter of Claire Lee Chennault, hadn't known her grandfather flew any airplanes until he died. "I don't think I really appreciate his accomplishments until I started reading all the books about him."

Not a famous person in America though, Chennault is an absolute super-hero in China. Veterans of "Flying Tigers" led by Chennault were invited to participate in the V-Day parade.

"Flying Tigers" is a nickname given to American Volunteer Group, the air corps that fought alongside the Chinese during war.

"What really impressed him is Chinese people's tenacity and willingness to do whatever it took," said Calloway. "They would rebuild the runways that the Japanese bombed on overnight."

China paid "ghastly price," as Mitter put it, in its own theater, more than a quarter of the WWII battlefield.

China's wartime casualties totaled more than 35 million, accounting for one-third of the world total.

American writer Wesley Marvin Bagby quoted Franklin Roosevelt's words in his book "The Eagle-Dragon Alliance": "if China went under, 'how many divisions of Japanese troops do you think will be freed?'"

"The successful resistance put by the Chinese people at great sacrifice was a very important contribution to ending the Second World War," said Schroeder, who is also the first German Chancellor being invited to the D-Day celebration in France in 2004.

A PARADE FOR PEACE

As China is growing into a global power, its V-Day parade has caused criticisms that China is flexing its military muscle, which may pose a threat to post-war world order.

Zhang Ming, China's vice minister of foreign affairs, dismissed such concerns, describing the event as "a demonstration of China's aspiration for peace and its firm will to defend it."

"It's important to look to the past, what kinds of lessons we have been learning, and how we can move ahead to a brighter future," Inn Buruma, wrote in his bestseller "Year Zero: 1945."

In Buruma's view, the post-war world order was anything but once-for-all happy ending. The Cold War was quick to distort the world order for lasting peace written in the 1945 Charter of the United Nations.

Its latest evidence went to Shinzo Abe's endeavor to alter Japan's peaceful constitution by calling it "anachronistic." Some 120,000 people rallied in Japan's parliament building on Sunday to oppose the amendment bill.

Nobusuke Kishi, Abe's grandfather who played a major role in the invasion of the Northeast China and ran his country's war economy was never put on trial like other war criminals. In 1957, he even became the prime minister of Japan.

Now Abe vowed to bring down Nobusuke's "political legacy," putting the East Asia and the world under what Buruma called the "long dark shadow of the history."

Zhang denied the parade targeting at the Japanese people in general, describing it as a necessity to reaffirm the determination to work for world peace and prosperity.x "Though reflecting upon and drawing lessons from the Second World War, we will join hand to usher in a better future for the mankind."

Dmitry Bobrov, commander of Russian troops in Thursday's parade, said, "Our elder generations once fought the common enemy, now we march at a synchronized pace. It has symbolic meanings."

"We fought together like brothers and we were able to change our history. Now we need to come together in peace and change our future," Calloway said.