Friday, October 31, 2014

ZANU-PF Spokesman and Information Secretary Criticizes Role of State Media in Zimbabwe
Republic of Zimbabwe Secretary of Information and ZANU-PF
spokesman has criticized the role of the state media in the current
factional struggle.
November 1, 2014
Herald Reporter

IN an unprecedented move, Zanu-PF secretary for Information and Publicity Cde Rugare Gumbo yesterday called a Press conference to brief the media on Wednesday’s Politburo meeting hardly 24 hours after briefing journalists as he emerged from the crunch meeting on Wednesday evening.

Cde Gumbo urged the media to be “positive and objective “in their coverage of VP Mujuru, adding that The Herald had been “unprofessional” in the coverage of VP Mujuru whom he said had “fantastic leadership qualities’’.

“It was unfortunately quite shocking to see The Herald devoting quite a bit of pages on VP Mujuru,” he said.

“I also saw the private media, Daily News had an extensive coverage of VP Mujuru, but The Herald was particularly negative, damaging and unprofessional.

“This is our public media which is supposed to report positively, but it decided to go to town about allegations which have not been proven in court or otherwise.”

Cde Gumbo, however, did not comment on the Daily News and News Day’s coverage of First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe and when challenged on that he was evasive.

“We are not concerned about the private press because they have their agenda. We are more worried about The Herald because it is our paper and it should portray what we think is happening in the party. We do not mind about the Daily News,” Cde Rugare Gumbo said.

Turning to allegations of abuse of office, corruption, extorting shareholding from companies and demanding bribes that were levelled against VP Mujuru by the First Lady, Cde Gumbo said the allegations were false and the work of people bent on destroying Zanu-PF from within.

Ironically, this was the same defense raised by VP Mujuru as she attacked the media for its exposes on the salarygate scandal.

Amai Mugabe during her “Meet the People” tour, accused VP Mujuru of planning to topple President Mugabe, corruption, illicit diamond deals and demanding 10 percent shareholding from companies.

Cde Gumbo said VP Mujuru deserved “respect and protection”.

“These allegations are false, are the work of forces who want to bring about regime change,” he said.

“What people must bear in mind is that VP Mujuru, whether you like it or not, as of now is Vice President of Zanu-PF and the country.

“Until any changes take place, she remains Vice President. We cannot have the Vice President of the country being treated the way she has been treated.”

Cde Gumbo said during the Politburo meeting, VP Mujuru defended herself well.

“The VP made a powerful and lucid narrative about how she joined the liberation struggle in 1974 and linked up with President Mugabe in Mozambique in 1975,” Cde Gumbo said.

“She noted that she has never sought any position in the party and Government.

“She was always ready to take this or that post in the party or Government. She spoke well and eloquently with dignity and maturity, demonstrating her fantastic leadership qualities.”

Cde Gumbo said some people within the party were planning to destroy the revolutionary outfit from within with a view to effect regime change.

“These elements were to some extent identified in the debate in the Politburo,” Cde Gumbo said.

“It is unfortunate that we are witnessing the Tsholotsho 2 Declaration. The people who were involved in Tsholotsho 1 in 2004 are now being involved in Tsholotsho 2 in 2014.

“The aim has always been and continues to be to bring down the Government of Zimbabwe.

“It is not only to bring down President Mugabe, VP Mujuru; it’s bringing down the entire legacy of the liberation struggle.”

Asked to name the elements, Cde Gumbo said: “You know them. There were six chairmen who were suspended in 2004 and they are still there. There is nothing new about those people.

“All those who constituted the faction of Mnangagwa in one way or the other were involved in Tsholotsho 1 and now they are involved in Tsholotsho 2. As a party, we cannot accept these things.”

Cde Gumbo said the “assault” on provincial chairpersons was an indication that there was a hidden agenda.

“These are people who were elected, who are supported by the masses and they are popular,” he said.

“Even if you ask for an election, they will win because their cause is just and they are not involved in some of these plots.

“There have been lies thrown around that there are elements who are in the Mujuru faction who want to fight against the President.

“When Mai Mujuru was voted, we supported her and we follow what the President said.

“If there has been a change of heart perhaps we will be told what has happened.”

However, several Politburo members who spoke to The Herald said what Cde Gumbo said were his own contributions to Wednesday’s Politburo debate which were, however, challenged by other members.
Zimbabwe President Mugabe Takes Side in ZANU-PF Factional Dispute
Zimbabwe Vice-President Joice Mujuru, President Robert Mugabe
and Emerson Mnangagwa who is said to lead the faction allied with
First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe.
Nov 1 2014 - 2:25am
By Fungi Kwaramba
Zimbabwe Daily News

HARARE – Vice President Joice Mujuru’s enemies within Zanu PF went for broke on Thursday, bussing in hundreds of youths and women, many of them from the Midlands, to agitate for her dismissal at the tense politburo meeting that was held at the party’s headquarters in Harare.

The party hardliners who organised the well-choreographed demonstration — with the twin objective of shoring up First Lady Grace Mugabe’s political fortunes and crushingº Mujuru’s — were supported by President Robert Mugabe when he addressed the gathered youths and a few war veterans.

This was despite the fact that the youths had clearly defied his Tuesday plea, at a luncheon for legislators, for order and respect for party bigwigs, including himself.

Mugabe also backed Grace’s controversial entry into formal party politics yesterday, hinting further that the forthcoming Zanu PF elective congress would see the demise of Mujuru, his embattled party and government’s number two.

He told the disorderly crowd, bussed into Harare by a faction opposed to the VP, that there was nothing wrong with his wife, who has made sensational and divisive allegations against Mujuru, seeking political office.

And as the bussed crowds chanted “Joice ngaande” (Joice must go), a chuckling Mugabe, who appeared to be enjoying the moment and abuse of his deputy, said even when marriages broke up, the wife would customarily be given time to pack her bags and go — implying that it was a matter of time before Mujuru was given her marching orders.

“The party has its way of doing things. You cannot tell your wife to leave on the very day when you break up. You consult other people and those you don’t like you will not vote for them come congress,” Mugabe said ominously.

This was the first time that Mugabe had openly and clearly sided with one of the main factions in his troubled party.

Curiously, police did not escape the severe and vocal criticism at yesterday’s gathering, with the angry yobs branding Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and his team as appendages of Mujuru and the “Gamatox” faction.

Instead of the police, the crowd wanted soldiers to take charge of their rally — hinting at divisions among the security and law enforcement agencies in the party’s deadly factional and succession wars.

Among the prominent players who addressed the crowd yesterday were Joseph Chinotimba, Shuvai Mahofa — who has been retrieved from political dustbins in Masvingo — as well as discredited war veteran Paul Nyaruwata, who called for the ouster of popular war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda.

“Ndimi makatikumbira kuti tikupei mukadzi…tauya nhasi…nguva yakwana. Hapana anonzi firapo…pane varikupa varungu minda…tinokumbira kuti munhu wese ari corrupt mukandei pasi, tokudai makachena (Your Excellency you asked us to give you a woman deputy and today we are here because it is time for a change? No one should expect to die in office … some among us are giving whites land … we ask you to fire all corrupt people),” said Mahofa.

Nyaruwata, who was chased from the leadership of the war veterans’ association for gross corruption said, “We are tired of Jabulani Sibanda. We have had different chairpersons and we are here as war vets to dissociate ourselves from what Jabulani Sibanda said. He was once suspended, how did he come back?”.

Ironically Sibanda himself was suspended a decade ago, along with six provincial chairpersons of Zanu PF, following a failed “coup” that was ostensibly meant to catapult Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa into the vice presidency post that was later occupied by Mujuru.

Clearly revelling in the occasion and playing to the gallery, Mugabe questioned the political stamina of Sibanda, who has staunchly opposed his wife’s divisive entry into politics — saying leadership in Zanu PF is not “sexually transmitted” and that war veterans were opposed to “bedroom coups”.

“There is nowhere in the Zanu PF constitution where it is said the president’s wife cannot contest for positions. Charwadza vamwe chii? Even ma war vets wamuri kuti Jabulani, charwadza chii? Madzimai pachavo ndovakati toda kuti amai vatitungamirire, chakaipa chii? Handisi ini ndakadaro (What is troubling you? The Women’s League is the one that asked that Grace leads them, what’s wrong with that? It’s not me who decided that,” Mugabe said.

Mugabe also accused the war veterans’ leader of being “possessed by Satan” and said the army would not stand aside and watch while Sibanda challenged him.

“Jabulani anotaura sekunge akabatwa naSatan,” he said.

Exposing that the demonstration was well-choreographed Mugabe said, “we hear that Jabulani Sibanda stopped some buses from coming…asi Jabulani akutonga nyika kani (is Jabulani now running this country)?”.

The crowd shouted down party secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa, when he sought to address them. Mutasa coined the phrase Gamatox a few months ago while imploring Mugabe to use the deadly pesticide to deal with “weevils” that have allegedly infiltrated the party.

As Mutasa chanted pamberi ne Zanu PF, the youths demanded that he says “Pasi neGamatox”, which he refused to do.

“Handiite izvozvo” Mutasa said.

And just as his wife has done publicly, Mugabe revealed his dislike of Mashonaland East chairperson Ray Kaukonde. He also attacked Mashonaland West chairperson Temba Mliswa, whom he accused of behaving like “a king”.

“Kune ma chairman vataona vakabva vadhakwa nehukuru ihwohwo zvimwe chete nachairman wekuMashonaland West. Anofunga kuti ane masimba ehu king anodarika vaMugabe (There are party chairmen who are drunk with power, like the Mashonaland West one. He thinks that he has powers similar to those of a king, which are bigger than Mugabe’s)”.

Analysts interviewed by the Daily News yesterday said all indications were that a splitting of the party now looked inevitable, with the only hope being that this would occur without violence and loss of lives.

“I think Zanu PF has now reached a point of no return. Mugabe came out loudly and clearly today (yesterday) that he is on his wife’s side and that Mujuru has no space in his team.

“If one then takes into account the fact that he (Mugabe) openly supported the move by hardliners in his party to have their way, via mob rule clocked as a spontaneous demo by so-called war veterans, then the inescapable conclusion is that the die has now been cast, and that the feared split will now happen in all likelihood.

“With Mujuru likely to be turfed out soon, possibly at the party’s December congress, the hope is that this looming split does not happen violently and with loss of lives. But the omens are not good given the history and culture of the party,” said analyst Shephered Mntungwa.

An emotional senior Zanu PF official, who requested anonymity, said yesterday was one of the “saddest days” in the history of Zanu PF.

“The hyenas (Mujuru’s party opponents) are getting their way for now and they think they are winning. What they don’t realise is that they have planted seeds of destruction that will ultimately destroy them and the party.

“Today is one of the saddest days in the history of Zanu PF, where the party’s machinery is being used against a poor widow (Joice). Did she steal someone’s husband or abuse government funds to build a multi-million dollar mansion in Harare?

“And has she taken multiple farms, many of them from fellow black Zimbabweans, and built a $20 million business overnight using dubious funds as some people have arrogantly admitted? So where is the justice, fairness and principle in all this?” he asked rhetorically in a thinly-veiled attack on Grace.

The demonstrators at the Zanu PF headquarters carried and waved placards that read “Pasi ne 10 percent” (Down with 10 percent), “Jabulani puppet ya Dr 10 Percent” (Jabulani is a puppet of Dr 10%), “Pasi nemaChairman efake” (Down with fake party chairmen) and “Mavambo mumba mako iwe” (Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn was formed in your house). Daily News

- See more at: http://nehandaradio.com/2014/11/01/mugabe-takes-side/#sthash.iHNcL67p.dpuf
Zimbabwe: Constitutional Amendments Divide Zanu-PF
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe at Politburo meeting during
earlier times. ZANU-PF is undergoing factional struggles over
proposed constitutional changes.
Financial Gazette

A SILENT war is raging in the ruling party over plans to tweak with ZANU-PF's constitution, last amended in 2005. In September, the Financial Gazette broke the news that ZANU-PF had secretly started the tricky process of amending its constitution. We can also exclusively reveal that the process has been completed but is now mired in intense bickering between the two main factions which are fighting to succeed President Robert Mugabe in the event that he retires from active politics.

ZANU-PF is torn between two major factions, one led by Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and the other by Vice President Joice Mujuru. The two have, however, denied leading any factions. The main source of conflict is that the process is being led by members from a rival camp amid fears that these may manipulate the exercise to suit their own agendas.

The legal department, which is spearheading the exercise, is headed by Mnangagwa, who is deputised by Patrick Chinamasa. Those spearheading the process want the party president to handpick his deputies and the national chairman as opposed to having them elected at congress, as is currently the case. The intention is to do away with the hierarchical approach, which has been part of ZANU-PF's tradition and parachute new faces into the top echelons of the party.

Patrick Zhuwao, a Politburo member said to be sympathetic to the Mnangagwa camp, argues that the change will eliminate factionalism in the party. "We need to have that amended so that we have one source of power. That is the only way we can control that, otherwise without doing that the party would have multiple sources of power and factionalism can continue to grow," he told the Financial Gazette.

Others in the same camp cite the Unity Accord of 1987 which united ZANU and ZAPU. In terms of the accord, the President should be appointing his deputies. This provision has not been adhered to because it didn't find expression in the party's constitution. Mujuru and her allies, according to sources, want congress to continue to elect members of the presidium, comprising the president, two vice presidents and the national chairman.

"We don't go to congress with the Unity Accord. We go to congress on the back of the party constitution," said Temba Mliswa, Mashonaland West provincial chairperson seen as aligned to Mujuru. The other proposal which has split opinion in the party is that of increasing the number of members in the Central Committee in order to achieve equitable representation across provinces. Currently, Matabeleland North and South contribute only seven members into the 230 member Central Committee. While both factions are for the idea, they are not on the same page with regards how this could be achieved.

There are those who would want this achieved on the basis of proportional representation whereby provinces gain seats in proportion to the number of members they contribute to the party. This would seem to favour Mujuru and her allies who are in control of ZANU-PF's strongholds. The other group, which controls provinces that have been a pain in ZANU-PF's backside, would want the seats allocated on an equal basis.

ZANU-PF spokesman, Rugare Gumbo, said it would be unfortunate if factional considerations were to hold sway during the process. "We will discuss this in the Politburo and then give you an answer," Gumbo said two weeks ago.

"The party was indeed involved in trying to amend the constitution and the man responsible for that is Cde E.D Mnangagwa. We cannot make decisions about our party on partisan lines, otherwise it won't work. When they are done with the amendments, we will look into them. If we are not happy with them, we will go back to the drawing board and do the thing again," Gumbo said.

Asked if he was aware of any factional concerns surrounding the exercise, Gumbo said: "I do not think we need to look into the matter that way. The party has faith that those tasked with the task would do the work in a professional way and if they cannot repay that trust, then it would be unfortunate."

The amendments will also seek to do away with certain clauses that have become redundant while incorporating new Politburo positions. District Coordinating Committees, which were disbanded two years ago, may be removed from the constitution. One of the likely additions could be the position of secretary for environment, which exists in the Politburo but not in the constitution. There is also a proposal to have membership into the Central Committee be on the basis of proportional representation.

The party is also considering aligning its constitution to the new charter which became effective last year. Ideally, the amendments should be tabled for discussion before the Politburo, which is the supreme decision-making organ of the party in-between congresses. The Politburo could, however, be circumvented, with the amendments being taken either to the Central Committee, which is ZANU-PF's policy-making organ, or straight to congress, scheduled for December.

The Mnangagwa faction is not keen on having the amendments debated in either the Central Committee or the Politburo where they think they don't have the numerical advantage but would rather have the changes debated at congress.
FCC Chairman Floats 'Hybrid' Ruling on Net Neutrality

By Reuters
Friday, Oct. 31, 2014, 9:21 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission chief is close to settling on a hybrid legal strategy for new Internet traffic rules that would treat part of the web network as a public utility, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

FCC officials last month listed a hybrid approach as one of various options they were considering for “net neutrality” rules. It would split broadband into a retail service, connecting Internet service providers with consumers, and a back-end one, linking content companies' servers with ISPs' facilities.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is laying the groundwork for rules that would regulate the retail section more lightly under the agency's existing authority but apply stricter rules to the back end by classifying it more like a public utility, the Wall Street Journal reported. It cited people familiar with Wheeler's thinking.

The plan, which would have to win over at least two other FCC commissioners to be adopted, is unlikely to satisfy either the ISPs or the public interest community.

Stricter back-end regulation by reclassifying broadband to be more like an old telephone network is something long sought by some consumer advocates but strongly opposed by the ISPs, which would probably fight such a decision in court.

The Journal report said Wheeler remained skeptical of a flat-out ban on deals in which content companies' would pay ISPs to ensure smooth and fast delivery of their traffic.

Consumer advocates have opposed such “paid prioritization” arrangements. The FCC received a record 3.9 million comments after Wheeler proposed rules that would allow some “commercially reasonable” paid prioritization.

“Such an untested, too-clever-by-half approach is bad law and a bad idea,” Craig Aaron, CEO of media watchdog Free Press, said in a statement.

MoffettNathanson LLC analyst Craig Moffett said the market was likely to welcome a “grand bargain” approach.

“It neatly sidesteps the worst-case scenarios, and while interconnection regulation is certainly not good news for operators, neither is it a calamity,” he said. “Perhaps the most important question left to be answered is how the two sides of the aisle respond to today's very consciously floated trial balloon.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/usworld/nation/7069738-74/rules-fcc-isps#ixzz3HmEmH91b
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President Kiir to Visit Khartoum as New Checkpoints Open
Sudan President Omer Hassan al-Bashir hosts his South Sudan
counterpart Salva Kiir on April 5, 2014. 
KHARTOUM (27 Oct.)

South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir is scheduled to visit Sudan's capital Khartoum following the NCP convention over the weekend, according to the SPLM-Juba secretary of research Henry Wani.

Kiir is expected to hold talks with Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir to discuss issues of mutual interest and bilateral relations between the two countries.

In press statements in Khartoum, Wani confirmed the visit, saying the trip was postponed due to the NCP convention that concluded Saturday in which al-Bashir was endorsed as party leader for another five years.

Wani had met with deputy NCP chairman Ibrahim Ghandour in Khartoum, where they discussed bilateral relations. The SPLM member described the relationship of the two countries as historic and that they cannot be diminished.

He added that SPLM participation in the NCP convention came at the invitation by the Sudanese ruling party leadership to show the strength of relations between the people of Sudan and South Sudan and between the parties.

Reactivation of border crossings

Separately, Sudan’s General Union of Transport announced that new border crossings will be opened to reactivate trade between Sudan and South Sudan.

On 23 September, South Sudan’s Minister of Roads and Bridges Kuong Danhier Galuak visited Khartoum where he discussed issues of transport and roads with his Sudanese counterpart.

Shams El Kamal Hamad Diab, an official in the transport union, said a joint committee between the two countries had been formed to implement the opening of new checkpoints.

He said that the new border crossings include three checkpoints in South Darfur and five in West Kordofan and South Kordofan states.

Shams El Kamal further said new border crossings will also be established in Blue Nile and White Nile, adding that fourteen new entries will be opened total between the two countries.

He reiterated their readiness to reactivate transport and movement of goods between the two countries after security, technical, and administrative arrangements are completed in South Sudan.
Sudan’s Bashir Orders Army to Launch Decisive Attack to End Rebellion
Republic of Sudan President Omer Hassan al-Bashir.
October 29, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir has said that the Sudanese army (SAF) has won more than 40 battles in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur, recently ordering it to launch a decisive summer attack against rebels.

Bashir, who addressed the graduation ceremony of 175 officers at the national military academy in the presence of the Libyan prime minister, Abdullah al-Thani, pointed to “recent victories of the army and regular forces” in the battlefronts in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur.

He demanded the army to get ready for a decisive summer battle to end rebellion in the country, vowing to provide every possible support to build the army capacity.

“Use this new summer to achieve a big victory, allowing us to move freely and reach the far areas in Sudan without fears except from Allah and wolf for our sheep,” Bashir said.

He further vowed to enhance the military capabilities of the armed forces and to improve the situation of its members.

On 6 October, the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) accused Bashir and the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) of seeking to shuffle off national dialogue and abort efforts of the African Union to bring about peace in the country and prepare for war.

Within the framework of its efforts to facilitate a national dialogue process aiming to reach a comprehensive in Sudan, the African Union will organise separate talks between the government and rebel groups on a cessation of hostilities and security arrangement next month.

The Sudanese president underscored that the experience of the joint border troops with neighbouring countries has achieved significant security, economic and political objectives, disclosing ongoing efforts to promote and maintain these troops in order to accomplish common interests.

“We established joint border troops with several countries to prevent security chaos, terrorist activities, crime and smuggling and this experience has achieved significant security, economic and political gains for all parties,” he said.

Sudan has formed joint forces tasked with the monitoring of common border with all the neighbouring countries except South Sudan. The two countries failed to operationalise this force due to their failre to demarcate the border.

(ST)
Kerry, Karti Discuss Resumption of Talks on Sudan-US Relations
Republic of Sudan Foreign Secretary Ali Karti with US counterpart
John Kerry during 2013. The US says it wants to improve relations
with Khartoum.
October 30, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – US secretary of state John Kerry has requested his Sudanese counterpart, Ali Karti, resume talks on bilateral relations, the Sudanese foreign ministry said on Thursday.

Earlier this month, the US special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, Donald Booth, said he was ready to visit Khartoum to resume discussions on bilateral relations and ways to improve it.

Booth has not visited the Sudanese capital since last December after Khartoum decided to stop discussions on the “unjust” American sanctions, saying US policy is determined by activists and lobby groups not government officials.

“Sudanese foreign minister Ali Ahmed Karti received a telephone call from his American counterpart and they discussed ways to improve bilateral relations,” said a statement published by the official news agency SUNA .

“The American minister expressed his country’s desire to hold direct negotiations with Sudan on outstanding issues,” it added.

During the telephone conversation, Karti reminded Kerry the broken promises on the lift of sanctions, the agency further reported.

Last week Washington renewed economic sanctions on Sudan saying “the actions and policies of the Government of Sudan continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States”.

The Sudanese government denounced the decision, accusing the American administration of using “various reasons and arguments to justify its targeting for Sudan which is nothing but political intrigue, clear contradiction and double standards”.

nonetheless, the two ministers concurred on the need to discuss the bilateral relations and expressed readiness to resume dialogue, SUNA said.

Different sources say that Karti and presidential assistant Ibrahim Ghandour are among those who support the resumption of discussions with Washington to normalise bilateral relations and reach an agreement on the lift of sanctions.

Washington admits Sudan’s cooperation in the fight against terrorism, but added new conditions related to the end of the conflicts in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

“Our concern for marginalised populations, our interests in the resolution of deadly internal conflicts, and our support for democratic governance derive from principles that reach far beyond Sudan’s borders,” Booth emphasised in lecture on the Two Sudans at the Atlantic Council on 9 October.

(ST)
US Condemns Renewed Military Clashes in South Sudan’s Unity State
Susan Page is a US imperialist ambassador for South Sudan.
October 30, 2014 (JUBA) – The United States has strongly condemned a recent outbreak of violence around South Sudan’s oil-rich Unity state, urging the opposition forces to cease hostilities.

“We call on both sides – both of whom have committed violations of the agreement that have delayed peace – to ensure their forces refrain from further actions that violate the January 23 Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and undermine the peace process in South Sudan”, Jen Psaki, a spokesperson for the US state department said.

South Sudan has been in turmoil since last December and violence has killed thousands and displaced about 1.5 million people from their homes, further raised fear of the possible outbreak of famine.

Last week, the two warring factions inked a deal in Arusha, Tanzania and accepted responsibilities for crimes committed during the war.

“Despite the parties’ recent acceptance of collective responsibility for the crisis, these current attacks demonstrate that the SPLM/A-IO has yet to abandon violence to achieve its goals,” further said Psaki.

There are reports that both rebels and government forces are prepared for major offensives in the country when rainy season ends.

The US, however, called upon the warring factions to end what it described as a "senseless man-made conflict", which has killed thousands and forced more than 1.5 million people of their homes.

MORE CONDEMNATION

The United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki moon, also condemned in the strongest terms the resumption of hostilities between the country’s two warring parties in Bentiu and Rubkona of Unity State.

This resumption of hostilities, he said, is yet again a serious violation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and undermines the ongoing IGAD efforts to find a political solution to the conflict in South Sudan.

Ki moon calls upon president Salva Kiir and rebel leader, Riek Machar to cease immediately all military operations, reminding them of their obligation to protect civilians and respect international humanitarian law.

He urged both parties to participate constructively in the on-going political negotiations in Addis Ababa and reach an agreement on an inclusive and comprehensive transitional arrangement.

Some 100,000 civilians, the UN says, are currently displaced within its protection of civilian camps, with 49,000 of them in Bentiu alone.

As negotiations continue, a major breakthrough for lasting peace is yet to be achieved in reality.

(ST).
South Sudanese Rebels Repulse Government Attempts to Retake Bentiu: Spokesperson
South Sudan motorist wait in long lines for gas in this oil-producing
state wracked by factional war throughout the country.
October 30, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – South Sudan’s rebel SPLM in Opposition faction led by former vice-president Riek Machar says it had repulsed a counter-attack by government troops loyal to president Salva Kiir as they attempted to retake Unity state capital Bentiu, which rebel forces claimed to have captured on Wednesday.

The SPLM-in Opposition’s military spokesman, Brig Lul Ruai Koang in a press release he issued on Thursday, claimed government troops suffered heavy losses when “they tried to retake” the twin town of Rubkona, north of Bentiu on Thursday afternoon.

He said that fighting occurred in a place called Maan-Kuai, north of Rubkotna town.

“Kiir’s tribal militias this afternoon launched unsuccessful counter attacks on our positions at Maan-Kuai north of Rupkoni (Rubkona) but were repulsed,” he wrote.

Government troops allegedly lost Bentiu and Rubkotni to the rebel forces in a fierce fighting which rebels claimed had killed 290 Juba soldiers including a senior officer.

“Meanwhile, confirmed reports from our field commander indicated that 290 government soldiers were killed in and round Bentiu town including one Brigadier General,” Koang said.

He added that among the war equipment captured by the rebels included one T-72 (tank) along with two Urol trucks each mounted with ZU 23 and 27 heavy machines and commander’s official car containing documents and laptops.

“Over 500 different weaponry were also captured,” he said.

Koang blamed the government for starting “a war they could not win”.

He said the movement was committed to the cessation of hostilities agreement and other agreements signed but reserved the right to fight in self-defense when attacked.

South Sudan government has not yet confirmed the fall of both Bentiu and Rubkotni.

Government troops of division 4 maintained control of Bentiu for the last four months and amassed thousands of additional troops from various divisions 4 and 5 from Greater Bahr el Ghazal region in order to defend the oil-rich state capital.

Observers say the fall of these strategic towns to the rebels, if confirmed, will be a big blow to government.

US CONDEMNS REBEL ATTACKS

The United States has condemned in the “strongest” terms the latest attacks by the SPLM in Opposition in and around the strategic oil-rich town.

“Despite the parties’ recent acceptance of collective responsibility for the crisis, these current attacks demonstrate that the SPLM/A-IO has yet to abandon violence to achieve its goals,” said Jen Psaki, the spokesperson for the US state department.

“We call on both sides – both of whom have committed violations of the agreement that have delayed peace – to ensure their forces refrain from further actions that violate the January 23 Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and undermine the peace process in South Sudan,” adds the statement.

The US government also warned the two warring parties against using these latest attacks as an excuse not to engage in the peace process or not to work in good faith to negotiate a sustainable political transition for sustainable peace and national unity.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed and over a million displaced since the violence broke out in mid-December last year amidst warning of looming famine early next year.

(ST)
Zanu (PF) Politburo Reveals Mujuru, Mnangagwa As Faction Leaders, Bans Slogans
ZANU-PF said officially today that the party is plagued by
factionalism.
The Zanu PF Politburo meeting held in the capital on Thursday ended late in the evening with the adoption of a resolution to set up a commission of inquiry into the plague of factionalism which has been rocking the party in the last few years.

Addressing journalists at the end of the Politburo meeting the Zanu PF Secretary for Information and Publicity,  Rugare Gumbo said the issue was raised in a report presented by outgoing Secretary of the Women’s League Cde Oppah Muchinguri.

Muchinguri was requested to compile a report on the ‘Meet the People Rallies’ held by the First Lady countrywide.

According to ZBC News Gumbo said there was candid and robust debate on the issue with members of the Politburo naming the leaders of the factions as  Joice Mujuru and Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The issue of the suspension of Mashonaland West provincial chairman Temba Mliswa was also discussed with the Politburo upholding the suspension.

The development whereby some that had voted in favour of the suspension were now withdrawing was said to be invalid with the Politburo upholding the suspension.

The Politburo also discussed the issue of the chanting of some slogans such as ‘Pasi Negamatox’ and ‘Pasi Ne Zvipfukuto’ which were ruled to be out of the party’s statutes.

These slogans have been banned forthwith.
EU Lifts Trade Sanctions on Zimbabwe
Republic of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe addresses
ZANU-PF rally in Harare before the Oct. 30, 2014 politburo
meeting.
October 31, 2014
Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe Herald

The European Union yesterday announced the lifting of trade sanctions against Zimbabwe that will take effect tomorrow, but kept travel bans against President Mugabe and the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe which the Western bloc said would be reviewed in February next year.

Analysts dismissed the lifting of the trade embargo, saying as long as President Mugabe remained on the illegal sanctions, it defeated the spirit of engagement which the bloc was advocating.

Announcing the decision in Harare yesterday during a Press conference, newly accredited EU Head of Mission Mr Philippe Van Damme said the lifting of trade sanctions against Zimbabwe means that the 28-nation bloc would directly engage with Harare on bilateral economic ties.

Ironically the European bloc had all along claimed there were no economic sanctions on Zimbabwe but just travel bans and asset freezes on Zanu-PF leaders and their associates.

He said pending arrival of British and Danish trade delegation was a sign of commitment by the Brussels based organisation to normalise relations with Zimbabwe. Mr Van Damme said EU lifted Article 96 of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement which governed relations between the Western bloc and African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, but maintained Article nine until February next year which related to travel bans imposed on First Families.

“I think we have reached an important stage of normalisation of relations with Zimbabwe,” said Mr Van Damme, who was making his first public appearance after he presented his credentials to President Mugabe early this month.

“The step we have taken is not the final step, but a very important one. What we need now is to rebuild trust.”

Some of the areas that EU would start dialogue on were on agriculture, support of realignment of laws, health, Zim-Asset and the Staff Monitoring Programme that is being monitored by the International Monetary Fund.

Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Chris Mutsvangwa said it was bad manners for EU to continue “stigmatising” President Mugabe whose election victory was endorsed by both Sadc and the African Union, among other regional groupings.

“It is a bad signal at a time when Brussels and even London are talking of re-engagement,” he said.

“President Mugabe represents the people of Zimbabwe and everyone recognised the July 31, 2013 election and there is no prospect of a new Government for the next four years or even beyond that is in the foreseeable future. It’s plain bad manners.”

African, Caribbean and Pacific EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly Zimbabwe representative Cde Makhosini Hlongwane said the EU was pinning its hopes on Zanu-PF’s December elective congress where it was anticipating that its puppets in the revolutionary party would take over the reins of power.

“They are prioritising hopes on outcomes of internal Zanu-PF processes, particularly congress with the vain hope that their puppets within Zanu-PF are going to remove President Mugabe and therefore develop a new Zimbabwe- EU architecture which is presumably sympathetic to the EU project,” he said.

“EU needs to come to terms, and very quickly so, with the fact that President Mugabe is not going anywhere.”

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Uganda Deploys Over 2,700 Troops in Somalia
Ugandan troops deployed in Somalia as early as 2007.
OCTOBER 29, 2014
BY NAN
 
Ugandan military on Wednesday said the first batch of the 2,700-strong troops assigned to replace their colleagues stationed in volatile Somalia, have arrived at Mogadishu International airport.

According to a statement by the Ugandan military, the troops have been deployed under Brig. Sam Kavuma, the new Ugandan contingent commander to the African Union Mission to Somalia.

It said, “The troops under Uganda Battle group XIV is the 17th battle group Uganda is fielding to Somalia since 2007.

“They are replacing Battle group XII which has been under AMISOM for a year and recently captured the last Al Shabaab stronghold of Barawe.”

A plane carrying the first batch of 100 soldiers safely landed at Mogadishu International airport on Tuesday and brought back an equal number to Entebbe Airport, Uganda.

Chief of Defense Forces, Gen. Katumba Wamala, has urged the soldiers to respect the Somali culture, adding that Uganda went to Somalia to help the Somali people just as the Tanzanians once helped Uganda in 1979.

He warned that in spite of the improved security situation in Somalia, terrorists were still unpredictable and could inflict damage.

“Always remember that this mission is still a doze and die mission, be vigilant and guard against terrorists,” he said.
Somalia Seizes Weapons Ship
Somalia capital of Mogadishu in the Horn of Africa.
2014-10-29 23:16

Mogadishu - Somali security forces intercepted a vessel carrying explosives that appeared to be intended for use by the radical Islamist group al-Shabaab, officials said on Wednesday.

The vessel, which was also carrying military uniforms, was seized in the port of Mogadishu late on Tuesday, a senior security official told dpa.

"Al-Shabaab wants to use some entrepreneurs here in Mogadishu" to get military materials from abroad, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The vessel's port of origin remained unclear, but police were questioning local entrepreneurs who were suspected of supporting al-Shabaab.

Security Minister Khalif Ahmed Eric said he was establishing a special team to investigate the case.

Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim arrived in Mogadishu for a visit aimed at supporting Somalia against the al-Shabaab insurgency and in carrying out political reforms with the goal of holding national elections in 2016.

"We are here to tell Somalis that they are not alone and that we will redouble our efforts to help them protect the gains made in recent years," Ban said before meeting Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud under heavy security in the country's capital.

He was accompanied by senior representatives of the World Bank, Islamic Development Bank, African Development Bank, African Union and European Union.

Somalia has battled al-Shabaab for nearly a decade. The group has gradually lost control of all major towns it once governed.

Somalia was plunged into chaos in 1991 when its government collapsed. The country has gradually been restoring stability after a permanent central government was created in 2012.

- SAPA
Stockton’s Pension-Protecting Bankruptcy Plan Approved
Stockton, Calif. bankruptcy exit plan approved by federal judge.
By Michael Bathon, Alison Vekshin and Steven Church
Bloomberg
Oct 30, 2014

Stockton, California, won court approval of its plan to exit bankruptcy by paying bond investors pennies on the dollar while shielding public pensions, in a case watched by other cities facing heavy retiree costs.

“This plan, I’m persuaded, is the best that could be done in terms of restructuring the city’s debts,” U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein said at a hearing today in Sacramento, the state capital.

Bankruptcy lawyers and pension advocates nationwide have been following the case to see whether pensions administered by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System would be protected from cuts.

Klein ruled earlier that Calpers doesn’t deserve special protection, the first time the biggest U.S. public pension fund was found vulnerable to cuts in a bankruptcy. Calpers and public-worker groups decried the decision. A bankruptcy judge in Detroit ruled has against pension funds in a similar situation.

Detroit will learn next week whether it can proceed with a $7 billion debt-cutting plan. The city filed the biggest U.S. municipal bankruptcy last year, listing $18 billion in liabilities. Its trip through court has been faster than Stockton’s, and settlements that would impose cuts on major creditor groups, including retirees and some bondholders, were reached through mediation.

Earlier Ruling

The earlier ruling by Klein gave Stockton the opportunity to end the Calpers contract, which it declined to do because, as the judge said, the workers “would be the real victims.”

Ending the contract with Calpers would have reduced pensions by 60 percent and caused many employees to leave, Marc Levinson, Stockton’s lead bankruptcy attorney, has said. It would have taken years to set up a new pension system, he said.

Meanwhile, workers agreed to “quite substantial” concessions in pay, which has an indirect effect on pensions, Klein said.

“The city has made a smart decision to protect pensions and find a reasonable path forward to a more fiscally sustainable future,” Calpers Chief Executive Officer Anne Stausboll said today in a statement. “We will continue to champion the integrity and soundness of public pensions.”

Hands Tied

Dan Pellissier, president of Sacramento-based California Pension Reform, said Stockton is going forward with “one hand tied behind its back” by choosing not to reduce its pension burden.

“Pension obligations have driven many government agencies toward financial insolvency, and Stockton is betting that they can manage their financial future without fixing its unsustainable pension obligations,” he said in a phone interview. “The purpose of bankruptcy is to get a fresh start on your finances.”

Stockton, a city of 298,000 about 80 miles (130 kilometers) east of San Francisco, filed for bankruptcy in 2012 after spending too much on downtown improvement projects and seeing its property-tax revenue plunge in the housing crisis. Creditors filed $1.18 billion in claims.

Major Holdout

The major holdout in the case was Franklin Resources Inc. (BEN) The San Mateo, California-based money manager said Calpers shouldn’t be given special treatment.

Under the city’s plan, Calpers will be fully repaid while two Franklin funds will get back only about 1 percent of the unsecured portion of the $36 million they’re owed. Franklin will get full payment on its $4 million secured claim.

“We are obviously disappointed by your ruling and we will evaluate our options,” James O. Johnston, a lawyer for Franklin, told the judge.

Klein concluded his ruling with a word of caution to other financially distressed cities considering filing for creditor protection under Chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy Code, which covers municipalities.

“This is a very expensive case,” he said. “It seems to me that it’s impossible to do Chapter 9 cases without an eight-digit figure.”

Chris Morgan, a director at Standard & Poor’s said, “There’s a direct cost of going into bankruptcy, and there’s the reputational cost that comes along with it,” by setting a city apart from other municipalities.

“It’s really reinforcing our view that bankruptcy is a difficult journey to go on,” he said.

The case is In re Stockton, 12-bk-32118, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of California (Sacramento).

To contact the reporters on this story: Michael Bathon in Wilmington, Delaware, at mbathon@bloomberg.net; Alison Vekshin in San Francisco at avekshin@bloomberg.net; Steven Church in Wilmington, Delaware, at schurch3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrew Dunn at adunn8@bloomberg.net; Stephen Merelman at smerelman@bloomberg.net Michael Hytha
Burkina Army Imposes Interim Government After Crowd Burns Parliament
Military takes power in Burkina Faso.
5:41pm EDT
By Mathieu Bonkoungou and Joe Penney

OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) - Burkina Faso's military dissolved parliament and announced a transitional government on Thursday after violent protests against President Blaise Compaore, but it was not immediately clear who was in charge.

Army chief General Honore Traore said the new government would be installed after consultation with all political parties and would lead the country to an election within 12 months. He also announced a curfew from 1900 to 0600 GMT (1500 to 0200 ET).

The move came after tens of thousands of angry protesters packed the streets of Ouagadougou on Thursday to demand Compaore's departure, storming parliament and setting it on fire and ransacking state television.

At least three protesters were shot dead and scores wounded when security forces opened fire on the crowd.

"Given the need preserve the country from chaos and preserve national unity ... the National Assembly is dissolved, the government is dissolved," Traore told a news conference.

However, he declined to say whether Compaore, whose attempt to extend his 27-year rule has sparked months of tension in the landlocked country, remained the head of state.

Regional West African bloc ECOWAS had said earlier on Thursday that it would not accept any party seizing power through non-constitutional means - suggesting diplomatic pressure to leave Compaore in place.

Before the military's announcement, the president had issued his own statement announcing a state of emergency to be enforced by the army and calling for talks with the opposition.

The protests were sparked by the government's attempt to push a constitutional change through parliament to allow the 63-year-old president to seek reelection next year. Large protests also erupted in Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina's second biggest town, and Ouahigouya, in the north.

"BLAISE LEAVE"

In the capital, the crowd faced off with security forces outside the presidential palace in a tense standoff that lasted several hours as opposition leaders held talks with senior military officials in an attempt to ease Compaore from power.

Both opposition leaders and protesters on the streets have made it plain they would not allow any role for Compaore. Hundreds of angry protesters gathered outside the headquarters of the armed forces following the president's statement, many of them shouting "Blaise Leave" and "No More Blaise".

"We want Blaise Compaore to leave. We want change," said George Sawadogo, a 23-year-old student.

The departure of Compaore, a close military ally of the United States and former colonial power France, would be closely watched by other governments across West and Central Africa, where a number of long-serving leaders are reaching the end of their constitutional terms.

Burkina Faso is one of the world's poorest nations but has positioned itself as a mediator in regional crises. It is also a key ally in Western operations against al Qaeda-linked groups in West Africa.

Amid uncertainty over how the army's announcement would be received abroad, Ghana's Foreign
Minister Hanna Tetteh said in a tweet the country's embassy in Burkina confirmed a military takeover of power. She declined to provide further details.

White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan had earlier said in a statement that the United States was deeply concerned by the deteriorating situation in Burkina Faso and called on all parties to end the violence and respect democratic norms.

France, which has a special forces base there that conducts operations across the Sahel, also appealed for restraint by all sides. Its embassy had held talks with opposition leaders on Thursday.

CONCERN ABOUT PROSECUTION

Compaore has ruled the nation with a firm grip but has faced increasing criticism in recent years, including defections by members of his party. He weathered a military and popular uprising in 2011 thanks to the support of his elite presidential guard.

Diplomatic pressure had mounted over the past year for Compaore to step down in 2015, amid calls from his own entourage for him to seek re-election, diplomats said.

A letter from French President Francois Hollande to Compaore earlier this month, seen by Reuters, offered France's support in finding him a job with an international organization.

Diplomats, however, say Compaore has been concerned at the possibility of losing his immunity from prosecution, particularly in the wake of the trial of former Liberian leader Charles Taylor in the Hague.

Burkina Faso's former president Thomas Sankara, a leftist leader dubbed Africa's Che Guevara, was killed in the coup that swept Compaore to power. Protesters in the streets of Ouagadougou waved photographs of Sankara and signs reading "Sankara look at your sons. We are fighting your fight."

At the headquarters of state television, which was forced off the air after the building was taken, jubilant protesters posed on the set of the evening news program.

Burkina Faso, the fourth largest gold producer in Africa, has attracted several goldminers including TrueGold TGV.M, IamGold (IMG.TO: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Randgold Resources (RRS.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).

(Additional reporting by Daniel Flynn, David Lewis and Bate Felix in Dakar, Joe Bavier and Ange Aboa in Abidjan, John Irish in Paris; Writing by Daniel Flynn; Editing by Tom Heneghan)
Ghana Labor Commission Directs Teachers to Call Off Strike
Ghana workers on the march.
The National Labour Commission (NLC) has  asked teachers to call off their strike and return to the negotiation table to resolve their grievances.

After a meeting with leaders of teacher unions and representatives of the government, led by the Minister of Finance, Mr Seth Terpker, in Accra Wednesday, the NLC ruled that a Working Group be established under the auspices of the Ministry of Finance to consider the issues in dispute and present a roadmap to the commission with clear timelines and assigned responsibilities.

According to a statement signed by Dr (Mrs) Bernice A. Welbeck, acting Executive Secretary of the commission, and issued in Accra yesterday, the Working Group should comprise representatives of teacher unions and the government.

The statement said the roadmap should be submitted to the commission not later than 12 noon on Wednesday, November 5, 2014 and that the parties should appear before the commission at 3 p.m. on the same day for the consideration and adoption of the roadmap.

In view of the commission’s intervention, the statement asked the teachers to call off their strike immediately, pursuant to Section 161 of the Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651 and allow the Working Group to do its work and submit its report to the commission.

Teachers across the country withdrew their services from last Tuesday over unresolved grievances, including unpaid allowances.

The action was declared by the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) and the Coalition of Concerned Teachers (CCT) at a joint press conference held at the Teachers Hall in Accra last Monday.
12 Ghana Unions Agree to Talks in Spite of Court Action by Government
Ms. Perpetual Ofori-Ampofo is the General Secretary of the Ghana
Registered Nurses Association.
Representatives of the Forum of Public Sector Registered Pension Scheme Workers have agreed to return to the negotiation table, in spite of a suit filed against them by the government.

The decision, according to the forum, followed advice by its lawyers to continue with negotiations as it prepared its responses to the suit.

The forum, however, makes it clear that its members would not call off the indefinite strike.

Meeting with lawyers

A Spokesperson for the forum, Ms Perpetual Ofori-Ampofo, told journalists in Accra Wednesday that upon the advice of the lawyers, the forum would meet the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations today.

Ms Ofori-Ampofo, who is also the General Secretary of the Ghana Registered Nurses Association (GRNA), said although the matter was now in court and the forum was preparing to respond to the writ, its lawyers had given it the go-ahead to meet the government in negotiations.

She said the unions were more than capable in responding to the writ.

The acting General Secretary of the Health Services Workers Union (HSWU), Mr Reynolds O. Tenkorang, explained that the advice of the lawyers meant that workers were fighting their cause with all the weapons at their disposal.

The Forum is a coalition of 12 labour unions campaigning for the full disclosure of their pension funds by the government under the National Pensions Law 2008 (Act 766).

Membership of forum

They include the HSWU, the GRNA, the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), the Ghana Physician Assistants Association (GPAA), the Government Hospital Pharmacists Association (GHOPSA) and the Ghana Association of Certified Registered Anaesthetists (GRCRA).

Others are the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), the Teachers and Educational Workers Union (TEWU), the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) and the Coalition of Concerned Teachers (CCT).

The rest are the Judicial Service Staff Association of Ghana (JUSSAG) and the Civil and Local Government Staff Association of Ghana (CLOGSAG).

Background

On June 30, 2014, the forum gave the government up to July 14, 2014 to transfer its second-tier pension funds to their preferred fund managers.

The unions called a press conference on Tuesday, October 23, 2014, during which they announced a strike, saying several deliberations had not yielded any results.

The Attorney-General, on October 24, 2014, sued the workers on behalf of the government, asking the Accra High Court to declare the indefinite strike illegal.

A statement of claim accompanying the suit prayed the court for an order to compel the unions to call off the strike and resume work.
Burkina Faso State TV Goes Off Air After Building Stormed
Demonstrators filled the capital of Ouagadougou demanding the
removal of Blaise Compaore who came to power after assassinating
Capt. Thomas Sankara, a anti-imperialist and socialist, in 1987.
TVC NEWS [OUAGADOUGOU] - The Burkina Faso government made a televised statement on Thursday (October 30) announcing the revocation of a scheduled revision of the constitution and urged people to remain calm as protesters stormed the state TV building and ransacked it causing the service to go off air.

"This was a message signed by the government -- which informs the population of the cancellation of the examination of the proposed revision of the constitution. It also calls for calm and restraint from the population," the statement said.

A handful of soldiers who were guarding the building shot in the air to try to disperse the crowds but they continued advancing and the soldiers fled, a Reuters witness said.

Lawmakers had been due to vote on Thursday a plan proposed by the government to change the constitution to allow President Blaise Compaore to stand for re-election next year. He is due to stand down due to a two-term limit.

Earlier on Thursday thousands of protesters stormed the parliament and set fire to the building, ahead of the vote.

The crowd then headed towards the prime ministers office as a government helicopter flew overhead, shooting tear gas canisters at protesters.

Most deputies had not yet arrived when protesters entered the building.
Burkina Faso Protesters Set Fire to Parliament
Smoke billowing in Burkina Faso capital and demonstrators stormed
parliament and set it alight. Blaise Compaore was reported to have fled.
Opposition to President Blaise Compaore's plans to extend his near-30 year rule turns violent as a blaze rips through the National Assembly building in Ouagadougou

12:49PM GMT 30 Oct 2014

Angry demonstrators in Burkina Faso went on the rampage on Thursday in protest at plans to allow President Blaise Compaore to extend his 27-year rule, setting parliament on fire and wreaking havoc across the capital.

Crowds of people broke through a heavy security cordon and stormed the National Assembly building in Ouagadougou, ransacking offices and setting fire to cars, AFP has reported.

One man was believed to have been killed in the chaos that erupted in the west African nation shortly before lawmakers were due to vote on the controversial legislation.

Security forces protecting the area near Burkina Faso's presidential palace fired live rounds and tear gas as crowds approached, diplomatic and security sources told Reuters on Thursday.

Amid the surging violence, the government announced it was calling off the vote but it was not immediately clear if this was only a temporary move.

Black smoke billowed out of smashed windows at the parliament building, where several offices were ravaged by flames, including the speaker's office, although the main chamber so far appeared to be unscathed.

Several hundred protesters also broke into the headquarters of the national television station RTB, pillaging equipment and smashing cars, the correspondents said.

The country has been tense for days in the run-up to Thursday's vote over the constitutional changes, which the European Union has warned could jeopardise stability in the west African nation.

Police were out in force around the parliament after mass rallies called by the opposition earlier this week but failed to stop the onslaught despite using tear gas against the protesters.

The European Union has urged the government to scrap the legislation, warning that it could "jeopardise... stability, equitable development and democratic progress", and had called for all sides to refrain from violence.

Several thousand protesters had marched through the capital on Wednesday, the day after street battles erupted during a mass rally by hundreds of thousands of people against what they see as a constitutional coup by supporters of Compaore.

The legislature is due to examine a proposed amendment that would allow Compaore, now in the 27th year of his presidency, to run for re-election in November next year for another five years.

"October 30 is Burkina Faso's Black Spring, like the Arab Spring," said Emile Pargui Pare, an official from the Movement of People for Progress (MPP), a young and influential opposition party.

Government spokesman Alain Edouard Traore issued a statement Wednesday hailing the "vitality" of Burkina Faso's democracy despite what he termed anti-government "misbehaviour".

Compaore's bid to cling to power has angered the opposition and much of the public, including many young people in a country where 60 percent of the population of almost 17 million is under 25.

Many have spent their entire lives under the leadership of one man and - with the poor former French colony stagnating at 183rd out of 186 countries on the UN human development index - many have had enough.

The situation is being closely watched across Africa where at least four heads of state are preparing or considering similar changes to stay in power, from Burundi to Benin and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Compaore was only 36 when he seized power in a 1987 coup in which his former friend and one of Africa's most loved leaders, Thomas Sankara, was ousted and assassinated.

The 63-year-old has remained in power since then, re-elected president four times since 1991 - to two seven-year and two five-year terms.

In 2005, constitutional limits were introduced and Compaore is coming to the end of his second five-year term.

The opposition fears the new rules would enable Compaore to seek re-election not just once, but three more times, paving the way for up to 15 more years in power.

The third largest party in parliament said at the weekend it would back the amendment, setting the ruling party on course to obtain the two-thirds majority it needs to make the change without resorting to a referendum as first promised.

Protesters have erected barricades and burned tyres in the capital since the proposal was announced on October 21.

Known in colonial times as Upper Volta, the landlocked country became independent from France in 1960 and its name was changed to Burkina Faso ("the land of upright men") in 1984, a year after a military coup.
Detroit Capitalists Involved in Scheme to Use Federal Funds to Remove African American Population
Demonstration against bankruptcy on Oct. 23, 2013.
JC Reindl
Detroit Free Press 9:06 p.m. EDT October 29, 2014

Detroit developer Herb Strather made Wednesday's deadline for a down payment on his winning $3 million bid for thousands of blighted and foreclosed city properties, but his grand $2 billion vision for redevelopment may have hit a snag.

Strather and his partner in the blight-buying venture, Texas-based Eco Solutions, placed a $3,183,500 bid for over 6,000 of what he calls "Detroit's worst properties." The properties, spread throughout the city, were packaged together in the Wayne County Treasurer's tax-foreclosure auction to help speed their cleanup and reuse.

The bundle is believed to be the biggest collection of blighted properties assembled for sale in Detroit history.

An early Detroit casino investor whose development projects have a mixed record, Strather sees his redevelopment effort as a chance at redemption for both himself and Detroit's still-ailing neighborhoods, which have largely missed out on the revitalization occurring in and around downtown.

Strather made a 4:30 p.m. Wednesday deadline for initiating a 10% payment on his bid, said Wayne County Chief Deputy Treasurer David Szymanski. The $315,000 wire transfer is expected to clear by Thursday morning.

The 6,365 properties that Strather and his partner are buying consist of about 1,000 vacant lots, 1,000 houses in disrepair, and 4,000 abandoned and burnt-out structures whose owners stopped paying taxes, he said.

In an interview, Strather said his goal is to redevelop the properties in tandem with Detroit nonprofits and community groups — a costly undertaking.

"It would take about $2 billion to finish it all," Strather told the Free Press. "Two billion in five years. We'll do it."

His goal is to bring investment and momentum to Detroit's neighborhoods, similar to that now happening in the city's downtown and Midtown.

Strather's full payment for the blight package is due within 14 days. He is also required to either demolish all of the structures within six months, or submit a redevelopment plan for approval by Wayne County Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz.

The Treasurer's office said it would begin talks with Strather regarding that plan once the down payment money was received.

"This is going to be a massive undertaking, so it's not as simple as saying 'this is what I want to do,'" Szymanski said.

Yet a key component of Strather's plan — millions in federal demolition funds via the Detroit Land Bank Authority — may have hit a roadblock.

Strather said he hoped to reach a separate redevelopment deal with the land bank authority, which could bring federal money for demolishing the thousands of blighted structures.

But a representative for the Land Bank said the law precludes the type of partnership Strather envisions.

At an estimated cost of about $10,000 per house, the total demolition bill for such a project could run in the tens of millions of dollars.

"Federal law only allows us to use demolition funds on properties for which the land bank owns titles, not for the benefit of a private developer," said land bank spokesman Craig Fahle. "So if Mr. Strather is expecting the land bank to pay to demolish properties that he is purchasing, then he has misunderstood the law."

Strather was not available for a response to the land bank's statement. But a representative said he plans to complete the blight package purchase and carry out his plan.

"Whenever Plan A doesn't work, there is always a Plan B," said Strather's spokeswoman Princess-Odilia. "Mr. Strather has a history of doing very very successful developments. Trust and believe, he has a Plan B."

Strather is chairman of the Detroit-based Strather & Associates real estate investment firm and runs Strather Academy, a real estate training school for adults.

His partner in the blight redevelopment, Eco Solutions, holds contracts for managing Housing and Urban Development properties throughout Michigan, he said, "So they were the natural person to link up with."

Strather was an early investor in MotorCity Casino and involved in the Woodbridge Estates development in Detroit, on the site of the former Jeffries Homes housing projects. Strather also led a group that lost the Hotel St. Regis in Detroit's New Center to receivership following a loan default.

During an interview Wednesday in his office at Tower Center mall at Grand River and Greenfield Avenue, Strather drew a connection between the economic situation Detroit has endured and his own finances in past years. Now, he and the city are ready for a comeback.

"We have taken such a hard hit," Strather said, "and no one has taken a harder hit than me. I went from $70 million to negative $20 million. (But) I'm not negative anymore."

The IRS and state of Michigan have filed liens totaling $227,530 against Strather since 2009, according to Wayne County Register of Deeds records. As well, Comerica Bank obtained a $77,229 judgement against him earlier this year, the records show.

"There were tax liens, foreclosures, just like anybody else," Strather said. "Herb Strather, he's taken a hit, but he's demonstrating to the community that he can come back."

Free Press Staff Writer Jennifer Dixon contributed to this report.

Contact JC Reindl: 313-222-6631 or jcreindl@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @JCReindl.

Wayne County Auction Nets $66 million in bids

This year's Wayne County Treasurer's tax-foreclosure auctions netted $66 million in bids from the sale of 17,196 properties. There were $43 million in bids in the October auction and $23 million in September, according to Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz.

Not all bids result in payment.
Capitalist Foundations Spearhead New Push to Force More African Americans From Highland Park
Neighborhood destroyed by the banks in Highland Park, Michigan.
Louis Aguilar, The Detroit News 1
1:26 p.m. EDT October 29, 2014

Kathy Angerer, director of community and economic development for Hamtramck, says a count of blighted properties, such as one on Yemens, is key to change.

Detroit — – The war on blight has spread beyond Detroit into Hamtramck and Highland Park, and soon other Michigan cities.

The two cities surrounded by Detroit are undertaking their first comprehensive attempts to count the number of blighted properties within their boundaries. Both municipalities have lost tens of thousands of residents and are pocked with burned-out homes and abandoned buildings. Empty structures became havens for crime and squatters, and caused property values to plummet.

Now, officials say, there is new hope about finally eliminating them.

"Go down any street and you will get a sense of what we are dealing with," said Louis Starks, Highland Park's community and economic development director. Henry Ford built his first auto plant in the town once known as the "City of Trees" nearly 100 years ago. Part of that Model T plant is among the estimated 3,000 empty buildings in the city, which amounts to half the structures left.

"This is what Hamtramck blight is like," said Kathy Angerer, Hamtramck's director of community and economic development, as she stood in front of a shell of a house on Yemans Street. "It's not rows of empty houses, but one on a street full of houses still occupied. Imagine if this was green space," she said.

Getting accurate counts has been out of the reach for the cash-strapped cities. But thanks to funding from the Kresge and Skillman foundations, and a Detroit startup company that invented something called "blexting," such a goal is now obtainable. So is federal funding to fight blight.

Last week, Highland Park and Hamtramck teamed up with the Motor City Mapping project that allowed 20 workers to go out with camera phones and tablets and survey every parcel in each city. The money came from the foundations, with support from the nonprofit Data Driven Detroit and Detroit-based business Rock Ventures.

The Motor City Mapping project is the brainchild of Detroit startup Loveland Technologies. Loveland has been exploring ways to digitize Detroit's property information and make the data available to the public. And that's what going to happen with the information the surveyors gathered, called "blexting," which is a merging of the words blight and texting.

Using a "blexting" app that's available to the public, surveyors took photos of every parcel and answered a series of questions about each — about 6,700 in Hamtramck and 6,600 in Highland Park.

Results of the surveys are expected next week. It couldn't come at a better time because the two are among 12 Michigan cities vying for $75 million in federal funding reserved to dealing with eliminating blight.

The program, to be run by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, will work in Detroit, Ecorse, Hamtramck, Highland Park, Inkster and River Rouge in Wayne County as well as Adrian, Ironwood, Jackson, Lansing, Muskegon Heights and Port Huron.

"For too long, blight has driven down property values and stifled growth in some of our communities," Gov. Rick Snyder said earlier this month.

"Getting an accurate count is so important because now we will have a good handle of what we are dealing with," Hamtramck's Angerer said. "That will only strengthen our chances to get the federal funding and really help us direct our limited funding and energy to promote all our wonderful assets."

Hamtramck hums with immigrant energy — Eastern European, Asian and Middle Eastern — as well as a deeply rooted arts community. It's what attracted new resident Claire Montebello, 27, who moved recently from St. Louis, Missouri. "It's almost a clash of many cultures, which kind of fascinates me. In terms of the blight, it's not out of control and it seems like solutions can be there."

Highland Park says there are more assets and positives than many realize. Despite the huge loss of residents and properties for decades, things may have actually bottomed out, some contend.

Auto supplier Magna opened a plant there in 2010 that supplies seating to Detroit automakers and employs 600 people. Two years ago, it completed a $2.2 million expansion,

A call center operator last year invested about $3 million into a building, adding 200 jobs. The Model T Plaza shopping center opened in 1998, some of which is located where the Model T plant once stood. The shopping center has often been fully occupied.

"Woodward Avenue is the strength we can build on," Starks said. Woodward is vital to Highland Park and despite the decades of loss, the avenue still retains the ability to attract retail.

There is also the possibility that the M-1 streetcar rail could return to Highland Park's Woodward.

"If we found a way to get rid of the empty structures, the whole conversation could change," Starks said.

laguilar@detroitnews.com
40,000 Kenyans Accuse Britain of Abuse and Torture in Second Mau Mau Lawsuit
Field Marshal Dedan Kimathi of the Kenya
Land and Freedom Army (Mau Mau).
October 29, 2014 18:11
Rt.com

Over 41,000 Kenyans have waged an attempt to sue the British government for compensation, alleging maltreatment and physical abuse during a Mau Mau uprising in the 1950s against UK colonial rule.

The litigation suit, launched at the high court in central London, marks the second Mau Mau case against the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in recent years.

In 2010, UK legal firm Leigh Day successfully sued the British government on behalf of Kenyans who rebelled against UK colonial rule in the 1950s. The UK government paid £19.9m to 5,228 Kenyans in 2013 who were reportedly tortured by Britain’s colonial administration during the revolt.

The compensation was a watershed moment for the people of Kenya, signaling the British government’s first formal acknowledgement of serious mistreatment and abuse carried out during the UK colonial establishment’s tenuous withdrawal from the East African state.

Commenting on the landmark 2013 payout, former Foreign Secretary William Hague told MPs the monetary settlement was “full and final.” But the Guardian reports a group of UK law firms are currently dealing with a new tide of claimants – and in certain cases sending their legal staff to Kenya.

The latest case, firms suggest, is a collective litigation order involving in excess of 41,000 Kenyans.

The high court is set to hear 25 separate test hearings according to official court documentation filed in May, the newspaper reported on Wednesday.

As distinct from the first Mau Mau action against the FCO, the most recent claims relate to a broader array of human rights violations than physical torture alone.

Claimants are also seeking compensation for alleged imprisonment on false grounds, as well as allegations of coercive labor and breaches of the fundamental right to education.

The claimants’ lawyers told the Guardian that January 2016 has been earmarked as a preliminary date for the trial. A spokesperson for the FCO declined to comment on the litigation suit, emphasizing it is not the body’s policy to openly discuss “a case that is going through the courts.”

The latest claims relate to alleged offences committed in 1952, when UK colonial governor, Sir Evelyn Baring, attempted to topple a growing anti-colonial insurgency dubbed Mau Mau. As the insurgency battled for an independent Kenyan state over the following eight years, approximately 90,000 Kenyans perished.

‘Inhumane and degrading treatment and torture’

Over 1 million were forced to leave their homes and enter detention facilities, which Kenya's then-attorney general Eric Griffith-Jones described as disturbingly “reminiscent of conditions in Nazi Germany or communist Russia.”

While some of those detained were Mau Mau insurgents, many were innocent civilians trapped in an oppressive web of collective punishment.

Simon Myerson QC, who is representing the claimants, told the Guardian his clients were forced to endure a variety of severe abuses during the uprising such as castration. Claimants are seeking compensation on a person-by-person basis, which ranges from £1,000 to £150,000.

Other lawyers representing Kenyan claimants allege Britain’s colonial government devised a deplorable system of inhumane and degrading treatment and torture to which thousands of Kenyans were subject throughout the revolt.

As a result of this scheme, Britain may be liable for abuse enacted by an array of local Kenyan agents under tacit UK orders. In particular, abuse enforced at the highest levels of Kenyan office by UK colonial powers may render Britain responsible for atrocities committed by Kenyan police and other state officials, lawyers say.

Although the FCO has not yet filed its defense, the Guardian has seen a document detailing the government body’s informal position on the allegations, supposedly dated 6 September 2013. In it, the FCO reportedly rejects responsibility for the colonial administration’s actions.

Alluding to the first Mau Mau litigation suit, the FCO allegedly says the claims brought in this second case “are conspicuously weaker.”

In 1960, Kenya’s crisis waned and the controversial Mau Mau detention camps were shut down. In London, little emerged at the time on what had transpired during Kenya's Mau Mau insurgency.

“If we are going to sin,” Kenyan attorney general Griffiths-Jones wrote in a 1957 memorandum, “we must sin quietly.”