S. A.: Local gov’t elections toughest for ANC

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) — Kenya’s security officers said Sunday they are holding four terror suspects after being arrested at the border with Uganda while escaping to travel to Libya to join Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (IS) terror group.

Police spokesman George Kinoti said the four suspects who all have pending court cases in the coastal city of Mombasa were nabbed at the Busia border late Saturday.

Kinoti said Kassim Ahmed Ali, Ali Omar Bwanaadi, Muhammed Kassim Abdalla and Mustaha Kheri Shali will appear in court in Mombasa on Monday.

“The four suspects were arrested at the Busia border while planning to travel to Libya to join IS. These are fugitives on the run,” Kinoti told Xinhua by telephone.

He said the four suspects who were initially charged for planning to carry out a massive terror attack in Mombasa in January had been out on bail after being released by the Mombasa court.

“Shali is unknown and he was together with the two ladies but investigation is on to identify them. One of the men initially said they were going to Juba,” Kinoti said.

The arrests come after anti-terrorist police said they have unearthed a syndicate of extremist online recruiters who have been targeting university students to join armed extremist groups in Libya and the Middle East.

The recruiters lure these youths with the promise of well-paying jobs in foreign countries only for the hapless youth to find themselves forcefully recruited into these extremist groups, the police said.

Security experts say Kenya has been a soft target for terrorist activities since 1998 and the menace has evolved as radical groups from the Horn of Africa infiltrate the country to kill and maim innocent civilians.

They said what has changed and is noticeable for it is the increase in vigilance by the general public and the fact that if they see something that they consider to be suspicious, they are more likely to report it to the police than they were. 

The police, on their side, the experts said, are becoming more professional in their assessment of potential incidents.

Kinoti said security officers have made significant progress in counter terrorism measures which have seen the officers foil several terror threats including arrest of several terror suspects across the country

  

MOGADISHU, (Xinhua) — At least three people were killed and several others injured in multi blasts which occurred near Bardhere town in Gedo region of southern Somalia on Saturday.

Witnesses said the multiple explosions occurred along the main road leading to Bardhere town.

The explosions are said to be landmine that had been planted under the roadside often used by Ethiopian troops under the African Union peacekeeping mission and the Somali National Army.

The dead and injured people are civilians but the blasts had targeted soldiers. Security officers have sealed off the scene which has been vacated by the residents. 

 

MOGADISHU, (Xinhua) — Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud on Saturday called for collaboration between security officers and Somalis to defeat terrorism.

“We are in a fight with an enemy at international level which is dangerous for our security and existence. The enemy is Al-Shabaab whose aim is to massacre people, the evidence is how they are targeting our Somali people ruthlessly, we can defeat them if we are united against them,” Mohamoud said at a security forum in Mogadishu.

The Somali leader said that the government will strive to solve payment delay of the National Army and will give their rights as soon as possible considering financial constraints which is being faced by the government.

“We have heroes who are losing their lives for saving mothers and children of Somali people, those who lost their lives in the latest attacks were martyrs defending people and the nation,” president Mohamoud added.

He also welcomed the decision by the cabinet this week on security measures aimed at minimizing the risk of terrorist group. He said the measures are meant to counter Al-Shababa attacks in the restive capital and across the Horn of Africa nation.

President Mohamoud’s remarks come as the Al-Qaida linked group has increased their attacks in Mogadishu and the rest of the country last week in which many people, mostly civilians were killed.

Somali National Army backed by the African Union peacekeeping troops removed the Al-Shabaab group in 2011, but it still carries out frequent attacks showing it is not defeated.

 

MOGADISHU, (Xinhua) — Africa Union peacekeeping forces (AMISOM) backed by Somali National Army troops on Sunday arrested a senior Al-Shabaab commander during a security operation in an area close to Qoryolay town in lower Shabelle of southern Somalia.

Somali government’s army commander in Qoryoley, Ahmed Gabow Bule confirmed that the allied forces captured Mohamed Ali Gele, the militants’ commander who was operating in many areas in lower Shabelle region after long search for him.

“The joint forces captured Mohamed Ali Gele, Shabaab’s Commander for Qoyoley, Janale towns and many other villages in the region. We were looking for him for a period of time.  We arrested him in a security operation which was conducted in the region,” Bule said.

“The police are questioning him; we will transfer him to the central government of Somalia after the investigation. This was a very successful operation that resulted in the arrest of one of the senior Al-Shabaab commanders,” he added.

Government and regional leaders said they are going to intensify more security operations against Al-Qaida linked group of Al-Shabaab across the Horn of Africa nation.

The group lost many key towns in south and central Somalia, but it still carries out deadly attacks in Somalia including the killing of Kenyan soldiers in Gedo region on Jan. 15 and attack on a beach restaurant in Mogadishu in late January. 

  

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) — The Kenyan government should borrow lessons from China’s anti-corruption drive to help tame a scourge that threatens socio-economic progress in the east African nation, a renowned scholar said on Sunday

Professor Peter Kagwanja, CEO of the Nairobi-based Pan African think-tank, Africa Policy Institute said in a commentary published in a local daily that Beijing’s fierce onslaught on graft is an inspiration to developing countries grappling with the vice.

While admitting that corruption undermined Kenya’s future, Kagwanja opined that senior government officials should emulate China’s robust efforts to slay the dragon.

“Corruption is an existential threat to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government but his pilgrimage in search of a working anti-corruption model should take him to China,” Kagwanja said.

The East African nation has lately been on the global spotlight following news of financial scams in the public service.

President Kenyatta in his recent state visit to Israel admitted corruption was widespread in both the public and private sectors.

To slay the dragon of graft effectively, Kagwanja suggested that Kenyatta should emulate the unwavering resolve by Chinese leaders to eradicate this vice.

“Chinese President, Xi Jinping and his predecessor, Hu Jintao declared that corruption is a threat to the survival of the ruling Chinese communist party. This will most likely ring bell to Kenyatta in view of 2017 general elections,” said Kagwanja.

As steadfast bilateral allies, China and Kenya could share best practices on how to eradicate sleaze in the public sector.

Kagwanja noted that President Xi Jinping’s reform credentials and anti-graft crusade offer vital lessons to Kenya and other African countries yearning to improve governance and accountability.

“Upon taking office in November 2012, Xi vowed to crack down on both “Tigers and Flies”, the high level officials and low level civil servants involved in graft,” Kagwanja remarked, adding that a similar strategy should be applied in Kenya

The Chinese government has revamped regulatory and institutional frameworks to strengthen the war against corruption.

Kagwanja noted that President Xi Jinping has given new powers to institutions charged with fighting graft.

“The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) under Secretary Wang Qishan working with corresponding military and judicial bodies is spearheading Xi’s war on graft,” said Kagwanja.

He noted that President Xi Jinping’s uncompromising stance against graft has recorded significant victories over a short period.

“As of last year, Xi’s anti-graft campaign netted over one hundred officials while more than 100,000 ordinary people have been jailed for involvement in corruption,” Kagwanja said.

Like his Chinese counterpart, President Kenyatta should be prepared to make a huge political sacrifice in order to win the war against corruption.

Kagwanja emphasized that a ruthless onslaught against graft will secure Kenyatta an enviable legacy.

“Uhuru Kenyatta’s destiny and legacy are tied to effectively fighting corruption,” said Kagwanja adding that China offers enduring lessons on how to fight crony capitalism and other sleaze in the public sector.

  

TUNIS, (Xinhua) — Tunisian security forces engaged clashed with suspected terrorists early Monday near the Libyan borders, local media reported.

The clashes broke out when a group of gunmen attempted to attack a military barracks in Ben Guerdane, a border town near Libya, the reports said.

There were initial reports of casualties in the clashes, which were still continuing.

  

TUNIS, (Xinhua) — At least 10 suspected terrorists were killed early Monday in clashes with Tunisian security forces near the Libyan borders, local media reported.

The clashes broke out when a group of gunmen attempted to attack a military barracks in Ben Guerdane, a border town near Libya, Radio Mosaique FM reported.

There were reports that fighting are continuing in the town, which is located about 450 km south of the Tunisian capital, and residents are advised to stay inside their homes.

The north African country has witnessed several major terrorist attacks since last year.

In March 2015, an Islamic State (IS) claimed attack on Bardo Museum, in Tunis, killed 22 people, most of them foreign tourists.

On June 26, 2015, a 23-year-old student attacked the Marhaba hotel in Sousse with a Kalashnikov rifle, killing 38 foreign tourists, mainly British nationals, and injuring 39 others.

Twelve people were killed and 20 others injured in November 2015 in a suicide bombing targetting a bus carrying presidential security guards.

The IS also claimed responsibility for the June and November attacks.

  

CAIRO, (Xinhua) — Egypt’s Public Prosecution ordered on Sunday detention of six members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group over involvement in last year’s assassination of the country’s prosecutor general, official MENA news agency reported.

Ordering 15-day detention for the suspects, the prosecution accused them of belonging to a terrorist group and attempting to harm social peace.

In late June 2015, a bomb attack in Cairo killed Egypt’s top prosecutor Hisham Barakat, who referred thousands of Islamists to mass trials over terror and violence charges since the military ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in early July 2013 in response to mass protests.

Also on Sunday, Egyptian Interior Minister Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar told a news conference that “the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood group is the number one element involved in the prosecutor general’s assassination.”

He added that the elements of the group were trained by the Palestinian Hamas movement to carry out the assassination, noting it was done via an 80-kg explosive device.

“The plot also attempted to target a number of figures and embassies in Egypt,” Abdel-Ghaffar told reporters.

Since Morsi’s removal, mounting terror attacks killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers with a Sinai-based group loyal to the regional Islamic State (IS) militant group claiming responsibility for most of them. 

 

Hamas denies involvement in murdering former Attorney General of Egypt

GAZA, (Xinhua) — Hamas denied on Sunday Egyptian interior minister Magdi Abdel Ghaffar’s accusation of the Islamic movement for being involved in murdering former Attorney General of Egypt Hisham Barakat.

Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas spokesman in Gaza said in an emailed press statement that the movement was surprised of the Egyptian official’s remarks on accusing the movement for being involved in murdering Barakat, adding “it is untrue.”

“The accusations don’t fit with the exerted efforts to develop ties with Cairo,” he said, adding “the Egyptian officials should bear more responsibility and avoid involving the Palestinian factions into Egypt’s into Egypt’s internal disputes.”

Earlier on Sunday, Abdel Ghaffar told a news briefing in Cairo that Hamas has a big role in executing the plan of assassinating counselor Barakat in June last year, and supervised the operation from the beginning to the end.

“A series of measures will be taken against Hamas movement after its members’ involvement in the murder was tested.”

Local reports had said several days ago that a high-ranking delegation representing several Palestinian factions, including Hamas and the Islamic Jihad will head soon for talks in Cairo to meet with senior Egyptian officials.

The reports also said that the Palestinian delegation was scheduled to discuss a series of questions, including the crisis of the closure of Rafah crossing point on the borders between Gaza Strip and Egypt.

Ties between Hamas and Egypt got tensed after Hamas was accused for being involved in feeding terrorists in carrying out armed attacks against the Egyptian army in the Peninsula of Sinai.

Ties basically deteriorated after the ouster of Egyptian Islamic President Mohamed Morsi in early July 2013, who belongs to the Muslim brothers Movement and kept good ties with Hamas in Gaza. 

  

JERUSALEM, (Xinhua) — Israel’s Shin Bet security agency announced Sunday it has arrested a Palestinian who traveled to Egypt and allegedly set up a “terror cell” that carried out several attacks against Israelis.

Naguib Mustafa Nazal, a 33-year-old man from the village of Qabatiya in the northern West Bank, was arrested as he crossed from Jorden to the West Bank through the King Hussein Bridge.

According to a statement by the Shin Bet, in 2007, he moved to to study in Egypt’s Cairo. In Egypt, he formed a group affiliated with the Holy Warriors Battalion, a radical Islamic organization, the Shin Bet said.

“Over the past years, the group carried out several attacks against Israeli targets, including firing rockets towards Israel and plotting terror within Israel,” the Shin Bet said.

The arrest came amidst a six-month-long of Palestinian unrest, including frequent stabbing, shooting, and car-ramming in Israel and the occupied West Bank. At least 170 Palestinians and 28 Israelis have been killed since October. 

EGYPT-CAIRO-JOURNALISTS SYNDICATE-PROTEST 
CAIRO, (Xinhua) — A number of Egyptian political activists organize a sit-in at downtown Cairo’s Journalists Syndicate calling for the release of revolutionary activists jailed by Egyptian police, Egypt, March 6, 2016. XINHUA PHOTO: AHMED GOMAA

KIGALI, (Xinhua) — Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh has concluded his two-day state visit to Rwanda with a stance on strong bilateral relations between the two countries.

The North East Africa nation leader was hosted by the Rwanda President Paul Kagame to a State Banquet on Friday evening, and later on Saturday afternoon, the two leaders addressed a joint press conference.

“We share a lot with Rwanda in terms of advancing economic opportunities for our people. My visit to Rwanda aims to further cement our relations with Rwanda,” said Guelleh while addressing the press.

He noted that his country is engaged with Rwanda to create exchange opportunities through trade economic zones that will benefit citizens of both countries.

During his visit, Guelleh toured the Kigali special economic zone, where he visited two factories, including Strawtec Building Solutions, which produces building materials for sustainable structures.

“Our ties are not just of partnership, you are our brothers and sisters. Rwanda is keen to develop opportunities to deepen integration in Eastern Africa, of which Djibouti is an integral part,” Kagame said.

He thanked the government of Djibouti for offering 20 hectare plot of land designated as a strategic port zone to Rwanda.  Rwanda plans to develop and operate the piece of land at the port of Djibouti as strategic base for its imports and exports.

“We would like to leverage our mutual advantages. Our two countries enjoy unique cordial relations and we shall continue to strengthen it for the betterment of our people,” Rwanda president noted.

Rwanda has also designated a plot of land in the Kigali Special Economic industrial zone, to Djibouti within the spirit of reciprocity.

Djibouti ports are strategically located at the crossroads of one of the busiest shipping routes in the world, linking Europe, the Far East, the Horn of Africa and the Persian Gulf. 

 

JOHANNESBURG, (Xinhua) — Registration for  South Africa’s local elections kicked off on Saturday as the ruling African National Congress (ANC) was facing the most fierce competition from the opposition parties since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Voting stations across the country opened at 8 am to allow first time voters to register and others to check their details for the  municipal elections.

The elections come as the government of President Jacob Zuma “is moving from one crisis to the next,” Tawana Kupe, dean of the Humanitie Departmernt at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, told Xinhua.

He was referring to a law suit by opposition parties against  Zuma over corruption charges in relation to the abuse of public funding to revamp his private home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal Province.

The local government elections would see political parties fighting for control of the country’s metropolitans. Opposition political parties, particularly the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), have vowed to take over Johannesburg, Pretoria and Nelson Mandela Bay municipality from the ANC.

The elections will be held between 18 May and 16 August 2016 for all districts and local municipalities in all nine existing provinces. Municipal elections are held every five years.

Voters will elect the members of the district, metropolitan and local municipal councils, who, in turn, will elect the mayors of the municipalities to office.

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has revealed that at least nine million South Africans eligible to vote are not registered.

The elections will be held at a time when the country experiences a severe drought and sluggish economic growth.

The IEC said it has trained thousands of officials to operate the stations to ensure that people be registered. They expected that at least one million people would register this weekend.

Both the ANC and DA have launched campaigns to urge voters to vote. The two parties said their leaders would be conducting door-to-door visits to seek support.

 

Roundup: Paces stepping up in Sudan’s Darfur as referendum date approaches

EL GENEINA, Sudan, (Xinhua) — Paces are stepping up in Sudan’s Darfur to conduct the region’s administrative status referendum as the polling process, slated for this April, is approaching after the completion of voter registration.

Local authorities in Darfur believe that the registration of around 76 percent of eligible voters was evidence that the process, which faces some objections, would be successful.

The Darfur Regional Authority (DRA) has reiterated that the referendum process was progressing according to the law upon which the Darfur Administrative Referendum Commission (DARC) was established.

“The registration process was conducted according to the law and without any objections. It was conducted according to the regulations and rules of the referendum commission,” Omer Hafez Alfa, head of DRA’s Economic Committee, told reporters.

He said the great turnout by the citizens during the registration indicates success of the referendum process and the citizens’ conviction that it is a constitutional right.

He urged the citizens to vote and not to respond to calls for boycott.

According to the DARC, the number of the registered voters in Darfur’s five states amounted to 3,583,105 out of the total 4,588,300 eligible voters.

The Darfur referendum now entered the phase of voter register publication, complaints and appeals to be followed by the polling phase, scheduled for April 11 to 13.

It is widely believed that the administrative referendum would contribute to the stability of the region which has been restive since 2003.

“We are convinced that the Darfur administrative referendum is likely to enhance stability in the region,” Hamid Abbaker, a native local official in West Darfur State, told Xinhua.

“This referendum is a constitutional right according to the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) and it will end the controversy about the administrative status of the region,” he noted.

According to the DDPD, the referendum will be held for either to merge the five Darfur states into one region or keep the current administrative status.

“We cannot return to the system of one region. It will be like a political apostasy,” Al-Saddiq Adam Abbaker, another local official in West Darfur, told Xinhua.

“We do not expect the option of one region to receive support from voters. There is persuasion that the five states option will win large support,” he noted.

However, the referendum is rejected by armed groups and representatives of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees affected by the conflict there.

Major Darfur rebel movements also reject the referendum unless Khartoum fulfills other demands including reaching a political agreement with the region’s armed groups and paying compensations for the people affected by the conflict.

The Sudanese government stresses that the referendum is a constitutional right that must be implemented according to Abuja peace deal which Khartoum signed with the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM)/ Minni Minnawi faction in 2006.

The DDPD, signed between the government and the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) in 2011, stipulates conduction of a referendum in Darfur and that its result is to be included in the country’s permanent constitution.

According to the deal, if the Darfur people vote for merging the states into one region, the Transitional Darfur Regional Authority (TDRA) shall form a constitutional committee to determine the powers of Darfur’s regional government.

However, if the Darfur people vote against the option of one region, the agreement stipulates that the current administrative status of five states shall remain and the TDRA shall be dissolved. 

  

KHARTOUM, (Xinhua) — Sudan on Saturday criticized a joint statement issued by the UN and African Union (AU) in which they expressed their concern over violence at Jebel Marra in Central Darfur State.

“The statement should have blamed the rebel movements and factions that rejected all national and regional initiatives to reach a peaceful solution to Darfur crisis,” Ali Al-Saddiq, Sudan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, told reporters.

He explained that the majority of the people displaced by the recent incidents returned to their home areas after the fighting stopped, pointing out that the Sudanese government has offered them with humanitarian aid.

In a recent statement, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and AU Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma voiced deep concern about the upsurge of violence in Jebel Marra over the last weeks, and its effects on civilians.

They urged all parties to engage in serious negotiations for a cessation of hostilities and a peaceful settlement to the conflict.

More than 90,000 civilians have been displaced by the recent battles in Jebel Marra, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Sudan said in its most recent report.

In mid January, violent clashes erupted between the Sudanese army and rebels of Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM)/Abdul-Wahid Nur faction around Jebel Marra area in Sudan’s Central Darfur State, which forced thousands of civilians to flee.

 

KHARTOUM, (Xinhua) — Sudanese Islamist thinker and leader of the opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP) Hassan al-Turabi died 84 in Khartoum Saturday, Sudan TV reported.

The report did not give any further details, while no statement from the government or the PCP has been released yet.

A medical source at the hospital where al-Turabi was earlier admitted has reportedly said that the Islamist leader died of a brain stroke.

Earlier in the day the opposition PCP said al-Turabi was “exercising his regular work at the PCP headquarters” when he fell ill and was rushed to a hospital in Khartoum to receive medical treatment.

Al-Turabi, a prominent Sudanese Islamist thinker and politician, graduated from Khartoum University School of Law and also studied in London and at the Sorbonne in Paris, where he gained a PhD.

Al-Turabi, who fluently speaks French, English and German, joined the Sudanese Muslim Brotherhood and became its leader in 1969, but later split from the group.

He was elected Speaker of the Sudanese parliament, the National Assembly, in 1996 during the rule of the National Salvation Revolution. He was also selected as Secretary General of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in 1998.

In 1999, al-Turabi defected from the NCP due to differences with President Omar al-Bashir.

In 2001, al-Turai established the opposition PCP and became its secretary general.

  

MAPUTO, (Xinhua) — Mozambique’s civil aviation authorities said they will discuss with a Malaysian team Saturday in Maputo over the investigation of the plane debris found off the coutry’s coast.

Joao de Abreu, the director of Mozambique’s National Civil Aviation Institute, told Xinhua on the phone Friday that his institute would like to hand over the debris to the expert team from Malaysia.

As to whether the Mozambican government would launch a search for more possible debris afterwards, Abreu said it would be considered pending the identification results.

The debris, with a honeycomb structure inside, was found by Mozambican fishermen accompanying an American tourist on a sandbank near Vilanculos town in central Mozambique.

The state news agency AIM on Friday quoted Abreu as saying any allegation that the debris came from Flight MH370 was “premature” and “speculative”.

During an interview with a local TV, Abreu expressed severe doubts that the wreckage could possibly come from the missing Malaysian Boeing 777, citing that the object looked too clean to have been in the ocean for the past two years, AIM quoted.

However, he said “no aircraft which has overflown Mozambican airspace has reported losing a panel of this nature.”

Currently, the institute has received two contacts who want to investigate into the piece: one from the Australia, and the other from Malaysia.

“We are open to anyone who wants to collaborate to find out what type of plane this belongs to,” said Abreu.

The MH370, with 239 lives on board, most of them Chinese, disappeared on March 8, 2014, and is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.

If confirmed, the object found in Mozambique would be the second piece of debris discovered from the MH370. Last year, a piece of the plane’s wing was found on the shore of Reunion island in the Indian Ocean. 

  

Suspected new debris found in Reunion Island
could be from MH370: Malaysian official

KUALA LUMPUR, (Xinhua) — The suspected new debris found in French overseas Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean could be from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight according to the drifting calculation, a Malaysian official said Monday.

Media reported that an object measuring about 40 by 20 centimeters was found by the seashore last week.

The debris could be from the missing MH370 flight, as calculations of the drift of all debris expect that they would be around that area, said Ab Aziz Kaprawi, Malaysia’s deputy transport minister.

“That is to say, any debris found within that area is tentatively, possibly, would be from MH370. And it would be verified later on,” he told reporters.

A wing part identified as flaperon was found on the island last year, the first debris confirmed to be from the missing flight.

Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said last week that another debris found in Mozambique, which lies at the same corner of the Indian Ocean, may be from a Boeing 777, the same model as MH370.

Both Malaysian and Australian authorities, which coordinate search in the South Indian Ocean, have sent team to verify the debris.

Flight MH370 disappeared on March 8, 2014 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board, most of them being Chinese nationals. 

  

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) — Kenya is on course to be removed from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) list related to illegal trade in ivory, wildlife officials said on Sunday.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Head of CITES Implementation Solomon Kyalo told Xinhua in Nairobi that Kenya is among eight countries of primary concern with respect to illegal trade of ivory and poaching of elephants.

“As a result of a series of measures put in place to curb elephant poaching and illegal trade in ivory, Kenya is likely to be removed from the list during the upcoming CITES meeting to be held later this year,” Kyalo said.

South Africa is set to host the 17th Conference of Parties of CITES later this year.

Kyalo said that Kenya delivered a report of the  progress it has made towards curbing illegal trade in wildlife products and elephant poaching in January to the CITES Standing Committee.

He said that so far Kenya has not been asked to make any further reports while other nations have been requested to provide additional information on measures they have instituted to curb illegal ivory trade.

“So we are confident that the Standing Committee will recommend to the 17th COP of CITES for Kenya to be removed from the list due to compliance,” he said.

Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have been named by CITES as countries with elephants populations and where ivory exits illegally to other countries.

Countries that don’t comply with CITES provisions risked being banned from importing or exporting plant and animal species on the CITES list.

According to KWS, Kenya routinely exports chameleon, tortoise and plants material for either trade and scientific purposes.

Kyalo said that the country’s new wildlife act is one of the reasons why Kenya could be removed from the CITES list.

“It provides stiff penalties for those involved in illegal trade of ivory as well as those convicted for elephant poaching,” he said.

  

MOMBASA, (Xinhua) — The Chinese government has constructed a primary school for girls in Taita-Taveta County, Kenya’s coastal region.

A statement from Kenya’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology over the weekend quoted the Chinese Embassy as saying that the ultra-modern Mwatate Sino-Africa Friendship Girls Primary School cost about 1.28 million U.S. dollars.

The school has 8 classrooms with the necessary furniture, administration offices, ablution block, a kitchen and underground water tank reservoir, among others.

Guo Ce, Economic and Commercial Counselor at the Chinese Embassy in Kenya, said the grant for the construction of the school demonstrated the cordial relationship between the people of China and Kenya.

According to officials from the Education Ministry, the main objective of the project is to improve enrollment rates of the girls and assure them of a safe learning environment.

Leah Rotich, Director General with the ministry, said the project is among the three education projects the government cooperated with the Chinese government.

She said the government was committed to ensuring that all children access education irrespective of their gender, and asked adult members of the community in the area to ensure that all children go to school.

“It is saddening to note therefore, the imbalance existing in the enrolment of boys and girls in some schools,” Rotich noted, saying early marriages and negative cultural practices are to blame for low enrolment of girls in formal education in the area.

“We have reached a point in the development of our country where all of us should shun practices that retard development,” she added.

The boarding school will also be used as a rescue centre for girls who have suffered from various abuses, including gender violence and early marriages in the area. 

  

Feature: A massage parlor brings traditional Chinese therapies to Togolese capital

LOME, (Xinhua) — Located in the populous Be-Kpehenou neighborhood of the Togolese capital, the plain-looking house of the Jinchen massage palor has been visited by more and more local people in recent months, due to its reputation for curing pains and offering relaxation by using traditional Chinese therapies.

The parlor, which opened two years ago, receives roughly eight patients per day, and provides a wide range of traditional Chinese therapies, including moxibustion, foot bath, clay therapy, flames therapy, and massage, among others.

Over the recent years, the Jinchen massage parlor has been gaining popularity in the Togolese capital, with its fame expanding gradually beyond the Chinese community following a rising number of visits by local African and French population.

“The first Chinese customer found satisfaction here and then spread our name throughout the community. Gradually, patients from African and French communities also started to come here,” Chen Wenyu, manager of Jinchen told Xinhua.

Chen said many of his customers are restaurant staff and construction workers, who first came here for relaxation and later job-related health problems.

“They came here more frequently after feeling the effect of our treatment,” said Chen, adding that the flow of customers has grown continuously over the past four months.

Ebah Frederic, a 48-year old Togolese who is an chartered accountant, has been a regular visitor of Jinchen.

He said he has experienced an amazing healing process by moxibustion and fire therapy for soreness in the back, as well as kidney problems.

To his surprise, the treatment also helped him lose weight. “I lost nearly half the size of my belly,” Frederic said joyfully. 

 

WINDHOEK, (Xinhua) — China donated 20 sewing machines to the government of Namibia through the gender equality and child welfare ministry Friday in Windhoek.

The sewing machines were handed over to the acting permanent secretary Cornelius Kapenda in the gender ministry by the Chinese Ambassador to Namibia Xin Shunkang.

The machines will be distributed to the country’s 14 regions to help create employment.

Receiving the donation, Kapenda said most women are disadvantaged and that the donation will help empower them.

“We would like to see some of them empowered and motivating others to work in order to sustain themselves, as well as contribute to the development of the country as a whole,” Kapenda said.

He further said although the machines were not enough to be given to every needy women, those who will be lucky to get them must use the machines for the greater good of Namibia.

“I trust that those who are to benefit from this gesture will be just as appreciative as the ministry,” Kapenda said.

  

Interview: Nigeria can learn from China’s experience: media chief

by Bosun Awoniyi, Zhang baoping LAGOS, (Xinhua) — Nigeria can learn from the experience China has gained in its economic reform and development, a media chief executive officer said Friday.

This will reinvigorate the West African country’s economy, Eric Osagie, the Managing Director of The Sun Publishing Limited, one of Nigeria’s most circulated newspaper said in an interview in Lagos.

Osagie expressed the hope while having an exclusive interview with Xinhua at The Sun corporate head office in Lagos, Nigeria’s economic hub.

The media chief, who recently approved the nomination of one of the company’s editor, Ikenna Emewu as the Nigerian candidate for the 2016 China Public Diplomacy Association Fellowship (CPDAF), said the fellowship is a good development and a sign of the high recognition readers, including the outer world, have for newspaper.

The prestigious international journalism fellowship, meant to foster Africa/China media exchange and experience, is taking place in Beijing.

He said the offer would strengthen the relationship between China and African countries, particularly Nigeria.

“We naturally delighted that the Chinese partnership for development found it worthy to select one of our editor in the Nations capital, the city of Abuja, we are the first here in Nigeria and also we are the voice of the nation,” he added.

“We hope that as Ikenna brings to us news about China, he will also tell the Chinese people in Beijing and every other part of China what Nigeria is, that Nigeria is not a country of fraudsters, as erroneously portrayed in the Western media,” the journalist said.

As a result of this, the chief executive officer said Nigeria hopes to strengthen relations with China, which he believes will help redefine the Nigerian economy.

He told Xinhua that China has in recent years devoted itself to economic development and won appreciation from the rest of the world. 

“China is a huge market and I believe it will deepen the relationship between Nigeria and China, it will foster it for both people to understand and know each other,” he said.

According to him, China is strong in agriculture, while Nigeria, the sixth largest oil producing country in the world, having Gross domestic product (GDP) as one of the lowest in the world.

“Over the years we have so depended on oil. Oil should have been a blessing to us, is now a curse to us, we are the sixth largest oil producing country in the world, but our Gross domestic product (GDP) is one of the lowest in the world, we are a rich country, poor citizen, why?,” he said.

“Because we have not been able to manage our oil wealth properly, sadly we have had people who has stolen our oil wealth, mismanaged the economy in the past years, so what we can learn from China is how to be a great country without oil, so we can learn from China. Our reporter in China can also help us in that regard,” he added.

Osagie, however, said Nigeria has leadership, economy, technology and agriculture lessons to learn from China, especially, now that China is opening is arm to us.

“Nigeria has to join the rest of the progressive world, Nigeria has to join the rest of the big economies of the world…” he told Xinhua.

He said Africa needs collaboration and not handouts, saying China should teach the continent how to fish, instead of feeding.

On security, Osagie said there is a lot Nigeria and indeed other parts of Africa can learn from Chinese technology in fighting crimes, and the Chinese security architecture.

“You know China is a very big country, in fact China is almost a continent on its own with a population over a billion, that means the population of China is over five times of Nigeria and if you have managed to have good security network, then we can learn from the Chinese,” he added.

“It’s something we would be very glad to partner with the government of China or the Security Agency of China, “ the journalist told Xinhua.

According to him, there is a lot Nigeria can benefit from collaboration with China security agencies in the area of tackling international terrorism and tackling other security challenges, due to its huge population.

Osagie said the Nigerian government should take advantage of the Chinese opportunity and experience because the world is a global village. 

 

LUSAKA, (Xinhua) — An International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation is expected in Zambia next week to help review the country’s current macroeconomic situation and provide solutions to the economic challenges, a senior government official said on Friday.

The IMF team will be in the country in response to government’s decision to pursue an IMF supported program within this year, Secretary to the Treasury Fredson Yamba said.

The forthcoming mission from March 9 to 18 will assist authorities in reviewing the current macroeconomic situation, he added.

“During the mission, the IMF team will not only hear our objectives for the anticipated program, but also its timing and our submissions on some of the proposed key elements in the program,” he said.

Among the specific objectives of the mission are to develop a shared understanding of the current economic situation, the near term outlook, and the scale of adjustments needed to stabilize the economy.

Other objectives are to prepare the ground for subsequent program negotiations by discussing key elements of a possible program, IMF arrangement options in light of Zambia’s current circumstances, and the country’s commitment and capacity to implement an IMF supported program.

Last month, Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda admitted that the economic situation was not rosy and that the government has agreed to engage the IMF on an economic program within this year.

The minister said the IMF is mandated to assist member countries in the balance of payments, and that all member countries have a right to seek recourse from the financial assistance on terms that are mutually agreed.

The government has since revised the economic growth for this year from around 7 percent to 3.7 percent due to the lower-than-expected outturn on account of the adverse weather conditions, persistent electricity deficit and the challenges associated with the mining sector, which have their origins in depressed commodity prices on the global market. 

  

KINSHASA, (Xinhua) — More than 550,000 people have been affected by floods since October last year in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said Wednesday.

The revelations were made during the UN’s weekly press conference in the Congolese capital, Kinshasa.

OCHA said at least eleven of the country’s 26 provinces were affected, and Tshopo province was the most affected with close to 400,000 people displaced.

“Last weekend in Tanganyika province, torrential rains caused landslides which destroyed roads. Humanitarian activities were suspended, yet over 64,000 people are in need of humanitarian needs,” OCHA Spokesman in DR Congo Sylvestre Mudingayi said.

According to OCHA, the floods have equally destroyed close to 65,000 houses and some 5,000 hectares of farm-land.

“The Congolese authorities, with support from the humanitarian community, have already responded to some needs, especially by providing financial assistance and medical as well as food aid,” Sylvestre said.

The spokesman said many of the humanitarian needs for the victims such as foodstuff, household items, blankets and water have not been satisfactorily addressed. 

  

KIGALI, (Xinhua) — In a bid to fast track social and economic transformation of the country, the government of Rwanda seeks to achieve 70 percent of planned rural settlements within the next two years.

The small central African country that was ravaged by the 1994 genocide which claimed more than a million lives and forced many others into exile has registered significant transformation within the last 21 years.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Eng. Didier Sagashya, director general Rwanda Housing Authority’s (RHA) said Rwanda will ensure that 70 percent of the population in rural areas live in planned and organised settlements.

“We call upon local administration authorities to ensure housing and other infrastructure projects under construction meet the national urbanisation plan,” he added.

“We are beginning to see positive developments in district towns where buildings are being remodeled to suit the land management plans.”

Presently rural households living in planned settlements are at 56 percent and are in line with the national land management policy.

Rwanda is also targeting to increase its urbanization rate to 35 percent and create secondary cities in six years.

The Rwandan government has tried for two years to urbanize Musanze, Rusizi Bugegesera, Huye, Rubavu and Nyagatare Districts.

According to the RHA, districts should also establish land banks, which buy and preserve land for future projects, and develop affordable housing financing mechanisms and accelerate the development of real estate for the delivery of improved services.

Rwanda’s size will not change but population will continue to increase which has compelled the government to go for planned rural settlements.

  

HARARE, (Xinhua) — The United Nations (UN) has so far mobilized 76 million U.S. dollars for Zimbabwe’s food aid, a month after the government declared this year’s drought a state of disaster.

The UN office in Zimbabwe said Friday it had reached more than 1 million people affected by hunger and pledged to scale-up relief activities to reach those who are food insecure.

Zimbabwe this year experienced one of its worst El Nino induced drought in a decade, which has left 3 million people, nearly 30 percent of the rural population, in need of food aid.

The Zimbabwean government declared this year’s drought a state of disaster on Feb. 3 and has appealed for 1.5 billion U.S. dollars to buy grain to feed the 3 million affected people as well as support livestock, wildlife and rehabilitate irrigation systems.

Following the declaration of a state of disaster, the UN said it had, together with its humanitarian partners, expanded humanitarian response plan to address needs in such areas as agriculture, food, health, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and education.

The UN said last month it planned to raise 130 million dollars towards food aid in the southern African country that has faced perennial food shortages due to successive drought in recent years.

 

HARARE, (Xinhua) — A Chinese-Zimbabwean joint venture mining diamond in eastern Zimbabwe has challenged in court its forced eviction from the Marange diamond fields last week.

In the application filed to the High Court and seen by media Friday, Anjin Investment Co. Ltd is arguing that the eviction was a breach of shareholders’ rights and the police did not follow due process.

The shareholders’ rights are protected in terms of the agreement on the encouragement and reciprocal protection of investments between the governments of Zimbabwe and China, it said.

Anjin is a joint venture between China’s Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Company and state firm the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation. It started mining diamonds in Marange in 2010.

Anjin is one of the six companies, mostly joint ventures, ordered by the government on Feb. 22 to halt operations and given 90 days to remove their equipment and valuables.

The government says it wants to consolidate diamond operations in Marange and form one entity, the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company, to improve efficiency and transparency.

Anjin becomes the second company to take action against government after Mbada Diamonds, in which South Africa’s investors holds 50 percent of the stake, on Monday sued government at the High Court and was allowed to take control of its mining assets.

In his traditional birthday interview aired on state television Thursday night, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said his government had not received meaningful returns from Marange diamond fields.

He said less than 2 billion U.S . dollars was remitted from diamonds proceeds out of the more than 15 billion U.S. dollars that government thinks was earned from the diamonds.

The forced evictions come at a time when Zimbabwe’s diamond production has plumeted from 12 million carats in 2012 to just over 3 million carats in 2015, according to industry figures.

The miners have been citing dwindling alluvial diamond deposits for the low production.

  

LUSAKA, (Xinhua) — Head coach of the Zambia boxing national team Kennedy Kanyanta has picked five boxers for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games qualifying tournament to be held in Cameroon, the Zambia Daily Mail reported on Friday.

“We sat as the technical bench and looked at the capability of the boxers in camp and then in line with our target of qualifying at least three boxers to Brazil, we have chosen the ones who we feel can reach those targets,” Kanyanta was quoted saying by the paper.

Seven boxers were called in camp to prepare for the Olympic qualifying tournament to be held from March 9 to 20 in Cameroon.

Among the boxers selected include middleweight Ben Muziyo, flyweight Karisto Bwalya, welterweight Mbachi Kaonga and bantamweight Emmanuel Ngoma while flyweight Juliana Kasonka is the only female in the team.