Friday, January 31, 2014

Kenya to Reduce Troops in Somalia's Kismayo

January 31, 2014

Kenya to Reduce Troops in Somalia's Kismayo

by VOA News

Kenyan troops will reduce their presence in the Somali city of Kismayo, after Somalia's government complained the troops were interfering with its attempts to assert authority.

A senior Kenyan military official told VOA on Friday that Kenya is handing over its security duties in Kismayo to forces from Sierra Leone.

The official, who did not want to be named, said only about 200 Kenyan troops would remain in the port city. The official also said Burundi was sending forces to Kismayo.

Kenya sent forces into Somalia in 2011 to help the country fight the al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab, after al-Shabab carried out a series of bombings and kidnapping in Kenya.

The militant group at one point controlled large parts of Somalia, including Kismayo, but was pushed out of major cities by African Union forces and the Somali government.

The Kenyan troops have been providing security in Kismayo as part of the multi-nation AU force.

Kenya and Somalia have been at odds over the administration of Kismayo and its lucrative port. Kenyan troops have been accused of backing one militia against others in deadly fighting there.

Questions Swirl About African Union Peacekeeping

Willing but weak: Questions swirl about AU peacekeeping

January 31, 2014

While African Union leaders were meeting to discuss the conflict in the Central African Republic on Thursday, the European Union was preparing to send troops there - once again pushing the question of whether Africa can handle its own crises to the forefront. The EU troops are to reinforce more than 3,500 African Union and 1,600 French troops already in the country, which has for months been gripped by inter-religious violence.

The AU summit had initially been due to focus on food security. Instead, the humanitarian crises in CAR and South Sudan have pushed conflict resolution to the top of the agenda. "The fact that these humanitarian tragedies are unfolding in the two countries at a time when we are talking about 'African Renaissance' must be painful to all of us," Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom said.

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir showed little faith in the AU's ability to help his country, sending only his deputy to the summit and saying, through a spokesman, that he had "more important issues to attend to." "We have agreed on the need for Africa to take charge of itself," said Guinean President Alpha Conde, who chairs the AU's Peace and Security Council.

But analysts say the AU has already made a serious effort in CAR - where it is seeking EU and US financing to send more peacekeepers - and in South Sudan, where it has helped broker a cease-fire. "African countries and regional organisations are struggling to stabilise the continent and to deal with ongoing crises," Paul Simon Handy, a conflict specialist with the Pretoria-based Institute for Strategic Studies, told dpa.

"But their troops may not have the training and equipment that are required" for operations such as the one in CAR, he added. The country slid into chaos in March after the president was overthrown. AU and French forces have been unable to stop violence between Muslim fighters and Christian vigilante groups. Thousands have been killed and a million displaced.

In South Sudan, sporadic fighting is reported despite a cease-fire brokered January 23 by the East African bloc IGAD, which works together with the AU. Thousands have been killed and more than 700,000 displaced. Human rights groups report widespread inter-ethnic violence. In the 1990s, most large African-led peace operations were conducted by regional organisations. The 2002 creation of the AU, the successor to the Organisation of African Unity, opened a new era, with major missions in Burundi, the Sudanese region of Darfur, and Somalia.

African troops also participate in UN peace operations - currently in South Sudan, Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo. AU military missions have been criticised as inefficient, internally divided and under-funded, with most of the financing coming from Western donors. "The AU is able to deploy troops, but not really to perform well on the ground," says Thierry Vircoulon, a Central Africa analyst with the think tank International Crisis Group.

Burundian troops, for instance, were not able to organise their transport to CAR without US help, he told dpa. AU troops also lost credibility over allegations that Chadian soldiers had sided with fellow Muslims in CAR inter-religious violence. "The robust military intervention by France in CAR has affected the AU, creating a wait-and-see attitude and delaying the consolidation" of its military intervention, Alfredo Tjiurimo Hengari from the South African Institute of International Affairs said in a telephone interview.

The AU was due to send 6,000 troops to CAR, but it has fallen well short of that goal so far. "It is difficult to find adequately trained troops, especially when there is demand for them in other peace operations as well," Handy said. The idea of an AU rapid deployment standby force, first raised after the Rwandan genocide in 1994, has failed to materialise. But Handy says it is now in the making, "with progress on the regional level."

Despite their shortcomings, analysts see AU forces as having played a significant role in keeping violence in CAR in check. The AU has been even more successful in Somalia, where it has helped the government repel al-Shabaab radical Islamists. Hengari attributes the success partly to AU military co-operation with Ethiopia and Kenya, which have a strong interest in maintaining peace in their eastern neighbour.

"The AU has come a long way" in helping to resolve conflicts on the continent, Handy says. However, its biggest successes have been in political mediation, he added. It has also done well at imposing sanctions after changes of government it considered illegal.

"The OAU or AU have been present in every crisis on the continent, although sometimes on a low-key level," Handy said.

Copyright Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 2014

U.S. State Department Envoy Attends African Union Summit in Ethiopia

U.S Deputy Secretary William Burns says the AU is providing critical political and security assistance, and helping the Somali people rebuild after decades of conflict

Posted on January 31, 2014
Addis Ababa (RBC)

Press Release in Addis Ababa, by the U.S Deputy Secretary William Burns says the AU is providing critical political and security assistance, and helping the Somali people rebuild after decades of conflict.

DEPUTY SECRETARY BURNS: Good afternoon and thank you very much for making the time. It truly is an honor for me to represent the United States here in Addis Ababa at the 22nd African Union Summit. When President Obama and Dr. Dlamini-Zuma met last June, they committed to broaden and deepen the partnership between the United States and the African Union. In the last few months, we have taken important strides to ensure that we realize the full potential of that partnership. Together we are tackling our shared priorities, strengthening democratic institutions, spurring economic growth, trade and investment, advancing peace and security, and promoting opportunity and development.

No issue is more central to this continent’s prosperity than agriculture and food security, and on no issue are our efforts more aligned. Together we are working to achieve our shared goal of a hunger-free Africa by 2025, and through the new alliance for food security and nutrition, a partnership of the G8 and African partner countries, we are making steady progress toward our goal of bringing 50 million people out of poverty by 2022. President Obama’s Feed the Future initiative is helping reduce hunger, poverty and under-nutrition throughout the continent. Last year alone, Feed the Future reached 12 million children and helped 7.5 million food producers increase their yields.

But as all of you know, in too many parts of this continent, violence and conflict hold at risk the region’s economic progress. We are committed to supporting the AU’s active role in addressing regional peace and security. In Somalia, the AU is providing critical political and security assistance, and helping the Somali people rebuild after decades of conflict. In the Central African Republic, AU forces are an integral part of the international peacekeeping force. We have made a commitment to provide up to 100 million dollars of training equipment and airlift support to the AU so that they can continue to lead regional responses to regional crises.

Of course, we are in regular contact with the AU about South Sudan. We strongly support IGAD’s efforts to end the violence, to reach a peaceful political solution, and to halt the growing humanitarian crisis. This afternoon, IGAD mediators and international partners will discuss additional steps the international community can take to support peace efforts and help the people of South Sudan achieve the democratic, peaceful state they fought so long and so hard to achieve.

As all of you know, there are many areas for continued and strengthened partnership between the United States and the African Union. We are particularly looking forward to the first ever U.S. – Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington this August where we will build on the progress made since President Obama’s trip to Africa last summer and further deepen our collaboration on our shared goals and interests. Again, it is a pleasure to meet with all of you this afternoon and I look forward to your questions. Thank you very much.

Syrian-Iranian Talks Held in Tehran

Syrian-Iranian talks held in Tehran

Jan 30, 2014

Tehran, (SANA)- Speaker of the Iranian Shura Council, Ali Larijani, reiterated that solving the crisis in Syria should be through dialogue which is conducted by the Syrian people.

During his meeting with Minister of Social Affairs, Dr. Kinda al-Shammat in Tehran on Thursday, Larijani warned against the foreign interference in Syria’s internal affairs which aims at prolonging the crisis in the country.

He expressed his country’s continuous support to restore security and stability to Syria.

For her part, Dr. Shammat thanked Iran for its support to Syria in various domains.

She said that the Syrian people and leadership are determined to restore security and stability and clearing the Syrian lands from the armed terrorist groups.

In a relevant context, Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs, Hussein Amir Abdullahian, expressed the Iranian leadership and government’s keenness on supporting Syria to enhance the steadfastness of the Syrian people in the face of the global war hatched against their country.

During his meeting with Dr. Shammat, Abdullahian stressed that Iran has been always supporting the political solution, the Syrian-Syrian dialogue, non-interfering in Syria’s internal affairs and respecting the view and option of the Syrian people to get out of the crisis .

Shammat said that the Syrian government pay a big attention to the humanitarian issue and supporting the families of the martyrs and those who are affected by the crisis.

Secretary General of Ahl al-Bayt World Assembly ( ABWA), Hassan Akhtari, underlined Iran’s intention to support the Syrian government and people in the face of the global conspiracy against their country.

He expressed the Assembly’s readiness to cooperate with the Syrian social institutions and offer all necessary potentials to support the Syrian people’s steadfastness.

Meanwhile, Secretary General of the Iranian Red Crescent, Dr. Ahmad Mousavi, expressed, during his meeting with Dr. al-Shammat, the Association’s readiness to cooperate with the Syrian Red Crescent in supporting the Syrian people.

He pointed out that the Iranian Red Crescent will form a working team specialized in the field remedy, medicine, relief and necessary requirements for studying the Syrian people’s needs.

The two sides agreed on signing a memo of understanding to set a mechanism to offer necessary assistance and needs to the Syrian people.

Syria’s ambassador to Tehran, Adnan Mahmoud attended the meetings.

H. Zain/ Ghossoun

United States to Continue Funding Counter-revolutionaries Fighting the Syrian Government

Gatilov: US Congress' decision to arm gunmen in Syria escalates situation

Jan 31, 2014

Moscow, (SANA) - Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Gennady Gatilov said that the decision of the US Congress to arm the Syrian "opposition" is regretful since such decisions do not help the success of Geneva 2 Conference.

"We regret such decisions that consider sending weapons at a time when communications have just started among the sides; the issue will aggravate the situation and undermine the trust-building process between them," Gatilov said on Friday.

He pointed out that Moscow desires to see in the future the agreements which were specified among the Syrians confirmed in the form of a UN Security Council resolution.

Gatilov stressed that Russia will continue its political follow-up of the Syrian dialogue in Geneva during the second round as well and will increase the level of representation when necessary.

He added that Moscow considered statements on the possibility of using military force against Syria are unconstructive.

Gatilov pointed out that in spite of the difficulties of the first round of talks in Geneva, Moscow highly values the dialogue which started and considers it as an important positive step on the way to a comprehensive political solution in Syria.


High national performance of Syria's official delegation to Geneva 2 conference

Jan 31, 2014

Geneva, (SANA editor-in-chief)- With the setting of Friday, the first round of Geneva conference will come to an end, and the eyesight will head for the next round to which the UN Envoy to Syria didn't set yet.

The delegation of the Syrian Arab republic put the interests of the Syrian people and the halt of terrorism, backed by Arab, regional and international countries, as a priority in the political field.

Syria's official delegation was open to Geneva communiqué items, hoping to find a common ground for a Syrian-Syrian political solution that meets the aspirations of the Syrian people, on top, combating terrorism.

Members of the delegation presented an example of national cooperation, aiming at pushing the coalition delegation called / opposition/ to abandon their dreams and illusions and think about the Syrian people and their suffering from terrorism, but in vain.

The official delegation showed readiness to discuss Geneva communiqué an item by an item starting from stopping terrorism, but the coalition delegation called / opposition/ insisted to discuss the 8th item, but it was unable to hide its endeavor to have authority by all means.

Nine days were crowned by the high national performance of the Syrian delegation and the delicate feeling of the Syrian people suffering as well as the continuous, responsible work to find a political solution according to the directives of President Bashar al-Assad.

Mazen Eyon

March in Front of Geneva UN Headquarters in Support of Syria

March in front of Geneva UN HQ, in support of Syria, its army and in rejection of terrorism

Jan 31, 2014

Geneva, ( SANA)- Hundreds of Syrians on Friday morning gathered in front of the UN's Headquarters in Geneva to express their support to the motherland, Syria, its army and Syria's official delegation to Geneva 2 conference.

They expressed their rejection of the terrorism backed by regional and international countries.

The Syrian citizens raised national flags and photos of President Bashar al-Assad, chanting slogans in support of Syria and its army in confronting terrorism which is targeting the Syrians.

They also expressed full support to Syria's official delegation taking part in Geneva 2 conference as the one which represents the Syrians and shoulders their concerns, hailing the delegation's stances in defending the Syrians' rights and interests.

The participants called for continuing fighting terrorism and extremism , in addition to forcing countries which support terrorists to adopt UN resolutions related to fighting terrorism and stopping arming, supporting and financing terrorists.

They also affirmed the need for engaging national opposition in the talks regarding Syria's future and not to limiting opposition to a delegation that only represents the western and US interests in the region.

Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi told the participants in the march that the next round of dialogue should include all spectra of the national opposition with which we agree regarding the love of the homeland and drawing its future.

The Minister stressed that the Syrian official delegation taking part in the conference will never give up on the Syrian sovereignty and the coalition delegation knows well that there is no one Syrian who can give up on a single drop of soil from the Syrian territories.

Al-Zoubi pointed out that Geneva 2 conference did not reach results as the coalition delegation rejected to condemn terrorism and foreign intervention.

He added that the Syrian official delegation asked the UN Envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, officially to have the opposition delegation next time represent all opposition factions, including the national opposition.

Al-Zoubi said that in the coming days, there will be a new round of talks, in principle, but neither in this round nor in any other round to follow could they get any surrender from the Syrian official delegation.

He noted that the Lebanese who support Syria today are the resistance and they are not only from Hezbollah, adding that the Palestinian people supports Syria totally except for some young men who were misled from Hamas movement.

"From Geneva, the greatest salutation is sent to the Syrian Arab Army that is fighting in defense of us all and the greatest salutation as well is sent to the martyrs of Syria," al-Zoubi concluded.

Syria's permanent representative to the United Nations Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari, also addressed the participants saying : " We conveyed your voice into the hall of dialogue and told them who wants to know what the Syrian people want should go outside the meeting hall to see the gathering people."

Al-Jaafari said that only Syrian people determine their own future, but the coalition delegation thinks that they came to take power.

He added, "We do not want a de legation that it is controlled by Turkey, the US and France; we want honest Syrian citizens to sit and discuss the future of Syria with us."

Al-Jaafari said, "Collective work led us to where we are now, and we are here to help the homeland emerge out of the crisis which we know its causes and solution."

For her part, Presidential political and media advisor Buthaina Shaaban affirmed that Syria is for all Arabs and for the world’s freedom fighters, adding that the secret of its strength lies behind its great people, and it did not and won't abandon any of its or Arab rights.

Deputy Foreign and Expatriates Minister Fayssal Mikdad said that the Syrian people are against terrorism and want restoration of security, adding that Syria has withstood due to the people’s continuous support to President Bashar al-Assad.

In turn, Director of the Presidential Media Office, member of the Syrian official delegation to Geneva 2, Luna al-Shibl, affirmed adherence to the sovereignty of Syria's national decision-making and to not forfeiting a single speck of Syrian soil.

Addressing the gathering people, al-Shibl said "with your presence, with the presence of the Syrian people who have remained steadfast in the face of terrorism for three years, and with the presence of the Syrian Arab Army which is sacrificing its dearest for the sake of the country, I would reassure you that we will not forfeit a single speck of soil."

She also reiterated that Syria will remain proud, dignified and honorable, and that President Bashar al-Assad will remain for all Syrians and Arabs.

Syria Crisis: Geneva Peace Talks End in Recriminations

31 January 2014
Last updated at 16:19 ET

Syria crisis: Geneva peace talks end in recriminations

The Syrian government and opposition have traded insults after a week-long peace conference in Geneva ended with no firm agreement.

Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said the opposition were immature, while the opposition's Louay Safi said the regime had no desire to stop the bloodshed.

However, UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said he had seen some "common ground", and scheduled more talks for 10 February.

The opposition has agreed to take part, but Mr Muallem refused to commit.

"We represent the concerns and interests of our people. If we find that [another meeting] is their demand, then we will come back," he told reporters.

He railed at the opposition, saying they had tried to "implode the conference" by insisting that the government hands power over.

Mr Safi said the opposition would not sit in talks "endlessly", and urged the government to "talk seriously about transferring power".

Opposition leader Ahmed Jarba said he and his colleagues had "stood up to the regime, a regime that only knows blood and death".

The two sides discussed humanitarian issues and possible ways to end the violence.

They made some agreements on local ceasefires to allow access for humanitarian workers.

UN aid chief Valerie Amos said the deals had allowed some aid to get through to a few thousand families.

But she said that, so far, an agreed ceasefire in the besieged city of Homs had not had any effect, and no aid has got through.

Parts of Homs have been under government siege for more than 18 months. Some residents have told the BBC that they are eating grass to survive.

More than 100,000 people have died in Syria since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011.

Rebels not represented

Mr Brahimi said: "Progress is very slow indeed, but the sides have engaged in an acceptable manner. This is a very modest beginning, but it is a beginning on which we can build."

Though the gap between the two sides was "wide", they had become used to sitting in the same room, he said.

"There have been moments when one side has even acknowledged the concerns and difficulties of the other side," he said.

The first round of talks between the government and the opposition National Coalition began last week.

Both sides agreed to use a 2012 document known as the Geneva Communique as a basis for discussions, and agreed to meet in the same room.

But neither side could agree on the focus, with the opposition insisting that political transition was the focus, and the government wanting to talk about terrorism.

Diplomats described the atmosphere between the two sides as extremely tense all the way through the conference.

And the talks were further hampered by the lack of representation of some of the rebel fighting groups, including the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front.

Diplomats have said that a top priority in Geneva is to keep the talks process going, in the hope that hard-line positions can be modified over time.

Key Pieces of EM's Plan for Detroit Reorganization

Key pieces of Detroit's proposed reorganization plan

8:43 PM, January 31, 2014
By Brent Snavely, Alisa Priddle and Mark Stryker
Detroit Free Press Business Writers

Below are highlights of the City of Detroit’s proposed plan of adjustment that was given to creditors this week.

The 99-page plan is full of blanks to be filled in when dollar figures are nailed down in areas such as cuts and changes to retiree pensions and health care plans.

The draft plan, labeled confidential, must be approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes and voted on by Detroit’s creditors. Here are key proposals of the plan:

■ Detroit would transfer ownership of art housed at the Detroit Institute of the Arts to a new charitable trust called DIA Corp.

■ The plan codifies the federally mediated DIA-state bargain in which money pledged from national and local charitable foundations and the DIA will go to pensions in exchange for the museum being spun off from city ownership into an independent nonprofit. While figures are not specified in emergency manager Kevyn Orr’s plan, the DIA agreed earlier this week to raise $100 million over 20 years, and the foundation total reached $370 million. An additional $350 million in state support for the pension fund has been proposed.

■ The plan of adjustment is conditioned on the foundations’ participation in a promise that they will continue to make contributions to the DIA’s annual operations and its endowment campaign.

■ The plan of adjustment requires “appropriate governance and oversight structures at the DIA,” including representation by the city, funding parties and other stakeholders. The specifics currently are in negotiation, but options might include board representation or the creation of an advisory body.

■ As is common with all bankruptcy cases, Detroit’s reorganization plan calls for “exit financing,” or a new line of credit from a group of banks and lenders that the city can use to operate city departments and services.

■ The plan recommends setting up a health care trust called the Detroit VEBA to manage retiree insurance benefits — much like Detroit’s automakers did in 2007 when the UAW agreed to allow the Detroit Three to offload health care liabilities into a separate entity called the UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust.

■ The plan recommends the pension funds use 6.25% as the expected investment rate of return going forward, down from the current 7.9% and 8% that Orr has said are overly optimistic. In expecting better returns, the funds have contributed less.

■ It recommends that many pension fund changes be locked in place for 10 years, creating some stability and preventing any new deals that could have ramifications later.

■ The plan also proposes the city and regional counties create the Great Lakes Water and Sewer Authority. The city and the new authority would enter into a 40-year lease of the counties’ water facilities.

■ The water and sewer authority will make an average annual payment under the lease of approximately $47 million to the city. This payment will be renegotiated after the 40th year, if the term of the lease extends beyond its 40th year.

■ The water and sewer authority board would consist of two members from each county, two members from the city and one gubernatorial appointee.

Contact Brent Snavely: 313-222-6512 or Follow him on Twitter @BrentSnavely.

January Ends With Another Decline on Wall Street


January Ends With Another Decline on Wall Street

JAN. 31, 2014

Investors were hit from all sides in January.

Concerns about the global economy and company earnings in the United States, as well as turmoil in emerging markets, led major indexes to their worst month in two years.

However, many remain hopeful that the problems in January will not spill over into the rest of 2014. They even see the month’s downturn as healthy, given the market’s torrid 30 percent rise last year.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 5.3 percent in January, the worst start to a year since 2009. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index fell 3.6 percent in January, and the Nasdaq composite fell 2 percent.

Many investors expected 2014 to be more muddled and volatile, looking for additional pullbacks and possibly a drop of at least 10 percent in one of the market indexes, known as a correction.

“People did look at these stock market valuations at the beginning of the year with a degree of nervousness,” said David Kelly, chief market strategist at J. P. Morgan Funds. “A correction would probably be healthy for the market.”

Even so, many investors were surprised by January’s turbulence. With one exception, the Dow had triple-digit moves every trading day in January.

Investors point to the December jobs report, released on Jan. 10, as a starting point for the recent troubles. The government said then that employers created only 74,000 jobs in December, the worst month for job creation since 2011 and far below expectations. Up until that point, weeks of data showed that the economic recovery was accelerating.

“It set a negative tone for the market,” Mr. Kelly said.

Other economic reports also painted a picture of growth possibly flattening out instead of accelerating. Added to these worries were mixed signals from companies in the United States. Half of the members of the S.&P. 500 have reported, and while fourth-quarter corporate earnings are up a respectable 7.9 percent from a year earlier, companies have been cutting their full-year outlooks and reporting weaker sales, according to the data provider FactSet.

Then there are concerns about overseas markets. In China, the world’s second-largest economy, a recent report showed that manufacturing activity unexpectedly contracted in January. Then came the currency troubles in smaller emerging markets, particularly Argentina, South Africa and Turkey.

On Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 149.76 points, or 0.94 percent, to 15,698.85. The S.&P. 500 dropped 11.60 points, or 0.65 percent, to 1,782.59, and the Nasdaq lost 19.25 points, or 0.47 percent, to 4,103.88.

In bond trading, the price of the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose 14/32 to 100 29/32, and its yield fell to 2.65 percent from 2.69 percent late Thursday.

Investors should not panic yet, money managers say. More opportunities for good news abound, including next week’s jobs report for January, and another 93 members of the S.&P. 500 are scheduled to report earnings.

“A 5 percent decline in equities is not an earth-shattering event by any measure, particularly after last year,” said Krishna Memani, chief investment officer at Oppenheimer Funds. “It’s still way too early to give up on equities.”

Libyan Investment Fund Sues Goldman Over Loss

JANUARY 30, 2014, 1:22 PM

Libyan Investment Fund Sues Goldman Over Loss

New York Times

Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi was still the Libyan leader when the country’s sovereign wealth fund began investing with Goldman Sachs.

Updated, 7:01 p.m.

Libya’s sovereign investment fund has filed a lawsuit against Goldman Sachs in London’s High Court, claiming that the bank made more than $1 billion in derivatives trades that became worthless, but left Goldman with a profit of $350 million.

The suit, filed by the Libyan Investment Authority last week but detailed on Thursday, says that Goldman Sachs abused its relationship “of trust and confidence” in entering into the trades, adding that the bank did not keep adequate records about the trades. Throughout the suit, the sovereign fund describes an imbalance between its young and inexperienced staff and Goldman’s savvy bankers, an imbalance, the fund says, the firm abused.

In a news release on Thursday, Abdul Magid Breish, chairman of the Libyan Investment Authority since June 2013, said: “While Goldman Sachs was orchestrating these unjustly exploitative transactions, it repeatedly told the L.I.A. that it sought a long-term relationship with the L.I.A. as a strategic partner. This was untrue.”

“We think the claims are without merit, and will defend them vigorously,” said a spokesman for Goldman Sachs. The bank has 14 days to respond to the suit.

Goldman is not the only company that lost money for the sovereign fund, but it is the only one that the fund is suing, a spokesman for the fund confirmed. The United Nations lifted sanctions against Libya in 2003, and the United States and British governments encouraged banks and corporations to do business with the country, then led by Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. In 2011, as the country sank into civil war, sanctions were reinstated and Goldman Sachs cut all ties (though, according to the Libyan fund, all the money in the investments was already lost).

In fall 2007, Goldman Sachs made a presentation to the Libyan Investment Authority explaining that it wanted to establish a “partnership” with the sovereign fund, the suit says. The bank offered to train authority employees and senior management about the financial markets and products, offering it strategic long-term advice and opportunistic investment options. According to the suit, the bankers said that they were interested in a long-term relationship, not short-term profits.

But a series of equity option trades worth more than $1 billion did not live up to that billing, the suit contends. The trades were inadequately documented by the bank and, when the sovereign fund asked for the records, it took weeks or months for the firm to provide them, the suit says.

According to the suit, Goldman agreed in 2008 to hire as an intern the brother of the sovereign fund’s deputy executive director, Mustafa Mohamed Zarti, at both its London and Dubai offices. The suit does not say whether he actually did the internship.

The suit also says the fund made the investments “without a clear understanding of the nature of the trade or the risks involved.”

The accusations are likely to hit a few nerves. Goldman likes to make money, for itself and its clients. And it has been described by competitors and sometimes by customers as putting its interests above those of its clients. The accusation stood in stark contrast to the firm’s No. 1 business principle, “Our clients’ interests always come first.”

Goldman formed a business standards committee in 2010 to look at how it interacted with clients, including conflicts of interest, disclosure and suitability of investments. The committee, which continues to meet, made 39 recommendations, which, the bank says on its website, it has carried out.

A version of this article appears in print on 01/31/2014, on page B7 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Libyan Investment Fund Sues Goldman Over Loss.

Abayomi Azikiwe, PANW Editor, Featured on Press TV: 'Guantanamo A Total Outrage'

Journalist: Guantanamo 'a total outrage'

Thu Jan 30, 2014 11:10AM

To listen to this statement by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, just click on the website below:

A Detroit-based political commentator has criticized Guantanamo officials for torture of detainees and urged authorities to close the facility as soon as possible.

The notorious US military prison located within the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba is "a total outrage," said Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire. "It's an affront to the sensibilities of people not only in the United States but throughout the entire world."

"These inmates, many of whom have not been charged with any crime, there's been no evidence presented against them, should be released by the United States government," Azikiwe told Press TV Wednesday.

More than 150 detainees are held at Guantánamo. The first detainees were brought there 12 years ago after being captured during America's so-called 'War on Terror'.

Last week, Amnesty International said US's continued operation of Guantanamo and the torture of detainees there is a prime example of America's double standard on human rights.

The secrecy regarding human rights violations committed by US military
and intelligence officials must come to an end, the organization said.

Amnesty also slammed President Barack Obama for refusing to shut down
Guantanamo as he had promised in 2009 when he first came to office.

"Conditions inside the Guantanamo camp are deplorable," Azikiwe said.

"The United States government should be held accountable for its gross violations of the human rights of the prisoners that are being held illegally in Guantanamo Bay."

Abayomi Azikiwe, PANW Editor, Featured on PRN.FM: 'What's Behind the Forced Bankruptcy of Detroit'

Leid Stories - 01/29/14

What's Behind the Emergency Management and Forced Bankruptcy of Detroit?

To listen to this broadcast featuring a lecture by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, just click on the website below:

Continuing our coverage of Detroit's mammoth bankruptcy saga, Leid Stories provides a primer on the hidden motives behind the appointment by Gov. Rick Snyder of an emergency manager to take charge of the city's fiscal and related operational decisions while choreographing its forced descent into bankruptcy.

A special presentation is given by Abayomi Azikiwe, who regularly contributes reports to Leid Stories on the battles in bankruptcy court and on the growing tide of opposition among Detroiters, who see themselves as victims of political machinations that in effect have placed them under autocratic rule. A Q&A follows his presentation.

Azikiwe is the editor of the Pan-African News Wire and an organizer-activist with Moratorium Now!, a grassroots group that has been seeking a halt to foreclosures, evictions and utility cutoffs for struggling Detroiters.

Azikiwe gives an historical analysis of the crisis in Detroit placing it within the context of developments within the national and world economy. The significance of the majority African American population is pointed out in light of the undemocratic and racist character of the attacks on unions, retirees, community residents and the ownership of public assets.

Republic of Zimbabwe Vice-President Mujuru Welcomes SADR Ambassador

Acting President meets two envoys

January 31, 2014
Herald Reporter

Kuwait’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Ahmed Al Jeeran, and his Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic counterpart Mr Mohamed Cheij Saleh yesterday paid courtesy calls on Acting President Joice Mujuru at her Munhumutapa Offices.The two envoys conveyed messages of solidarity and commitment of their governments to work with Harare.

Ambassador Al Jeeran hailed the sound relations between Harare and Kuwait City. Speaking to journalists after the closed-door meeting, Ambassador Al Jeeran said he was confident that Zimbabwe would successfully implement its new economic blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset).

“We talked about the relations between Kuwait and Zimbabwe. Kuwait is keen to assist Zimbabwe to succeed and we are confident that Zim-Asset will be a success,” he said.

Ambassador Saleh said he briefed Acting President Mujuru on the continued occupation of Saharawi by Morocco. SADR remains the only country in Africa that is still a colony, ironically under the rule of another African country.

“I had the honour to be received by the Acting President and I conveyed to her the gratitude of the Saharawi president and to the people of Zimbabwe,” he said.

“I informed her about the recent developments on colonisation of Saharawi which is the last colony in Africa. Morocco continued its brutal and repressive practices on Saharawi civilians for the demand of application of the Charter of the United Nations,” he said.

He said Morocco was plundering Saharawi’s natural resources. Ambassador Saleh said Acting President Mujuru had assured him of Zimbabwe’s continued for Saharawi’s total independence.

Saharawi is an AU member and its sovereign status is recognised by more than 80 countries worldwide. Morocco pulled out of the AU, then the Organisation of African Unity, in the early 1980s after the continental bloc recognised SADR’s independence and membership.

Zimbabwe Vice-President Mujuru Meets Ambassadors

Acting President meets ambassadors

January 30, 2014
Herald Reporter

Kuwait ambassador to Zimbabwe Ahmed Al Jeeran and his Saharawi counterpart Mohamed Cheij Saleh today paid courtesy calls on Acting President Cde Joice Mujuru at her Munhumutapa Offices. The two envoys conveyed messages of solidarity and commitment of their Governments to work with Harare.

First to meet Acting President Mujuru was Ambassador Al Jeeran who hailed the sound relations between Harare and Kuwait City.

Speaking to journalists after a closed door meeting with Cde Mujuru, Ambassador Al Jeeran said he wanted to strengthen ties between the two countries during his tour of duty.

Ambassador Al Jeeran said he was confident that Zimbabwe would successfully implement its new economic blue print, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Socio-Economic Transformation.

“We talked about the relations between Kuwait and Zimbabwe.Kuwait is keen to assist Zimbabwe to succeed and we are confident that Zim Asset will be a success,” he said.

Ambassador Saleh said he briefed Cde Mujuru on the continued occupation of Saharawi by Morocco.

He said Morocco was reneging on its obligations agreed under the auspices of the African Union and the United Nations.

“I had the honour to be received by the Acting President and I conveyed to her the gratitude of the Saharawi President and to the people of Zimbabwe,” he said.

“I informed her about the recent developments on colonisation of Saharawi which is the last colony in Africa. Morocco continued its brutal and repressive practices on Saharawi civilians for the demand of application of the Charter of the United Nations,” he said.

He said Morocco continued to plunder Saharawi’s natural resources.

Ambassador Saleh said in response Cde Mujuru said Harare would continue to support Saharawi to attain total independence.

Ambassador Saleh said victory was certain for Saharawi.

Saharawi is an AU member and its sovereign status is recognised by more than 80 countries worldwide.

Zimbabwe President Mugabe Voted African Union Deputy Chair

President voted AU deputy chair

January 31, 2014
Morris Mkwate in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Zimbabwe Herald

President Mugabe was yesterday elected First Deputy Chair of the African Union, rendering futile a decision by the European Union not to invite him to a summit of the two blocs slated for Belgium in April.The AU Executive Council was firm in that Europe should not be allowed to dictate to African Heads of State and Government who will attend the summit.

The resolution will be tabled for adoption at today’s 22nd Ordinary Session of the AU General Assembly. President Mugabe’s election to the post, to which he was seconded by Southern Africa, positions him to assume the AU chairmanship next year.

The President also chaired an Extraordinary Sadc Summit here that lifted regional sanctions imposed on Madagascar following a 2009 coup in that country.

The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces is the current SADC Deputy Chair and will chair the regional bloc from next year’s summit.

Announcing the composition of the five-member Bureau of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government, outgoing AU chair Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn of Ethiopia said Mauritania landed the top post and would be deputised by Zimbabwe (first deputy chair); the DRC (second deputy) and Nigeria (third deputy).

DRC also assumed the responsibility of rapporteur. The bureau is the AU’s supreme organ, tasked with steering the agenda of the continental grouping.

Each of Africa’s five regions seconds a member to the bureau in line with the AU constitution. Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said membership of the bureau signified Africa’s strong support for Zimbabwe.

“It is the growth of confidence in Zimbabwe. Secondly, the First Vice Chair normally becomes the Chair of the African Union. So, chairmanship of the AU will come from Southern Africa next year, meaning Zimbabwe is in the running.

“This is particularly important in the sense that, as you know, there is the AU-EU Summit in April this year. The EU had decided, and I would be surprised if they maintained the position, that President Mugabe should not be invited to the summit.

“Two regions have spoken. Now, how could one say they do not want the First AU Vice Chair to be at the summit? That would be ridiculous; it would be absurd! It means the EU decision has gone up in smoke.

“In fact, the (AU) Executive Council has taken a decision, which will be tabled for adoption, that the European Union can only determine the EU delegation and has no right to dictate to Africa which Heads of State and Government should attend.

“The AU has said all those in good standing with the continental grouping will attend.”
Turning to the Extraordinary SADC Summit, Minister Mumbengegwi said President Mugabe led the gathering as the Chair, President Joyce Banda of Malawi, was absent.

He said the summit resolved to lift sanctions on Madagascar and also received a report on the subsequent elections and inauguration of President Hery Rajaonarimampianina this month.

“Sadc met under President Mugabe and decided to lift the sanctions. We were also briefed on the eastern part of the DRC since the defeat of the M23 rebels. The situation is stabilising. The government has done well, working together with the Sadc force.

“The rebels have been routed. However, there was an understanding that vigilance should be maintained in spite of the prevailing situation.”

President Mugabe attended a lunch meeting where leaders interfaced with young people from different parts of the continent who highlighted areas governments should refine to meet the needs of the youth.

Key points of concern were education and employment. President Mugabe highlighted the role of parents, governments, communities and other stakeholders in educating children.

He said youths could contribute to development once critical education aspects such as entrepreneurial skills and psychomotor development were embraced.

The President also attended the 22nd Ordinary Session of the AU General Assembly, which launched the continental grouping’s theme: “2014 Year of Agriculture and Food Security; Marking 10th Anniversary of the Adoption of the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).”

At the official opening, newly-elected AU chairperson President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania said there was need to support agriculture as a chief economic driver.

He said social protection programmes should be expanded to benefit more people, adding that promoting agricultural value addition and investment were imperatives.

“Preserving the environment and ensuring that food security no longer represent only a legitimate aspiration for our countries, but constitute compelling objectives due to the current food crisis and negative impacts of climate change.

“To achieve these goals, our countries should combine their efforts in order to increase cultivated areas and improve productivity through the modernisation of rural infrastructure, the promotion of agricultural research and popularisation of the most efficient farming techniques.”

Also addressing delegates in the main plenary hall, which was yesterday named Nelson Mandela Hall in honour of the former South African President who died last year, Ethiopia’s Mr Dessalegn said more countries were meeting targets set under CAADP.

One of these targets is for AU members to allocate 10 percent of their national budgets to agriculture. Zimbabwe has exceeded the threshold since CAADP’s adoption in 2003, except during the tenure of the inclusive Government.

“This is the time to celebrate the progress made over the past decade in implementing goals and objectives set by CAADP and renew our commitment to do more in the coming years and decades,” said Mr Dessalegn.

“In this regard, I am indeed very pleased to note that more and more countries are allocating 10 percent of their national budget to the agriculture sector. The transformation of agriculture holds the key to the success of our collective efforts to realise our vision…

“The issue of peace and security has been our major preoccupation during the past one year. While I am encouraged to note the progress that we have made in resolving some of the conflict situations on our continent, I am nevertheless deeply concerned by the emergence of new conflicts which, if not addressed urgently, will have a potential to seriously threaten our collective peace and security and undermine the gains that we have made in recent years.”

The session ends today with leaders expected to emerge with resolutions on agriculture and food security; peace and security; the status of fragile states; AU-International Criminal Court relations; a draft position on the Post-2015 Development Agenda; and the new vision to guide Africa over the next 50 years.

Sudan President Bashir in Ethiopia for African Union Summit


Sudan’s Bashir in Ethiopia for AU summit

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

January 29, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) - Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir arrived in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Wednesday where he is heading a delegation at an African Union (AU) summit on agriculture and food security.

Bashir received a warm welcome by Abdulfetah Abdulahi , Ethiopia’s minister of labour and social affairs and Mekonnen Manyazewal, chief of the national planning commission, following his arrival in the capital.

The Sudanese president has since held meetings with Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn, on bilateral and regional concerns.

According to a senior government official who attended the meeting, the two sides expressed a keen interest in boosting existing relations between the two countries, particularly in the areas of transport and power supply.

Bashir has commended Ethiopia’s continued efforts to bring durable peace and stability across the volatile East African region.

He said Ethiopia’s contribution to regional peace, including its role in mediating the crisis in South Sudan crisis, was significant.

A number of African leaders have arrived in Addis Ababa ahead of the 22nd African Union Ordinary Session of Assembly, due to kick off on Thursday.

The summit is being under the theme, “Transforming Africa’s Agriculture: Harnessing Opportunities for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development”.

However, the South Sudan crises, as well as conflicts in the Central African Republic (CAR) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are also expected to be on top of the agenda.

South Sudanese president Salva Kiir will make a statement at the opening session on Thursday following a report on the current situation in the country by the African Union Commission chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.


South Sudan Dissidents Concerned Over Lack of Representation at African Union Summit


S. Sudan rebels concerned over lack of representation at AU summit

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

January 29, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) - Ethiopian officials on Wednesday assured South Sudan rebels not to be concerned for not being represented at the Africa Union leaders’ summit at which the crisis in South Sudan is among top on agenda for discussion.

Addis Ababa made the assurances after rebel negotiators, who were alarmed at late hours, Wednesday made a request at the Ethiopian foreign ministry to take part at the Africa head of states and governments summit which is due to commence on Thursday.

The rebels were concerned that the South Sudan government delegation led by president kiir might at the summit make complaints and accusations against rebels taking their absence as an advantage.

South Sudan president Salva Kiir is slated to deliver a speech at the opening session tomorrow.

The rebels were trying to prevent the summit hears a one side story until they received guarantee from Ethiopian officials this afternoon.

"Ethiopian officials told me that it will not be the government of the republic of South Sudan to raise the issue though President Kiir is scheduled to have a speech," Bor Gatwech, an MP and Humanitarian Liaison Officer for SPLM/A In Opposition here in Addis Ababa told Sudan Tribune.

South Sudan Issue will be debated in the Summit as a report from the regional mediators.

"Technically, the Summit will be debating and eventually endorsing the report of the mediators. So they [Ethiopian officials] assure me that there is nothing to worry about even if not represented at the Summit," Gatwech added.

Despite a cease fire agreement signed last week between South Sudan government and rebel group led by former vice president, Riek Machar, fighting has continued in parts of South Sudan with both sides repeatedly trading accusation of violating the peace pact aimed to end weeks of violence.

South Sudan government information Minister, Michael Makuei, on Wednesday accused rebels of continuing to violate ceasefire agreement.

"The ceasefire agreement is defective" said Makuei.

He further accused regional mediators of failure to come up with a monitoring mechanism in time and as a result he said "rebels have used this opportunity to violate and attack government forces"

"They [rebels] have actually put our forces in a defensive position" he added.

As part of the broader peace pact signed in Addis Ababa last Thursday, the South Sudanese government has released 7 of the 11 political prisoners who had been detained with alleged accusation of having links with a "coup attempt".

The release of political detains comes about two days ahead of the continental summit which the issue of political prisoners is expected to be touched by IGAD mediators.

Fighting which broke out in mid December between forces loyal to president Salva Kiir and those rebels backing to ex-vice president Riek Machar, has killed thousands and forced an estimated half a million people flee their home.


South Sudan Links Withdrawal of Ugandan Army to Full Stability


S. Sudan links withdrawal of Ugandan army to full stability

January 30, 2014 (JUBA) - South Sudan said Thursday that it would only sanction full and complete withdrawal of Ugandan troops from its territory, upon the complete implementation of the cessation of hostilities that permits return of peace and stability.

The new nation received military support from its eastern neighbour few days after fighting broke out in mid-December last year between a faction of presidential guards, raising fears that the clashes could deteriorate into a regional conflict, if allowed to escalate.

Members of both the East African Legislative Assembly and Ugandan Parliament welcome the deployment of the Ugandan army (UPDF), despite criticisms from members of the international community who saw the move as an invasion.

Rebel groups led by South Sudan former vice-president Riek Machar openly accused Uganda of fuelling the conflict with the direct participations of its troops alongside the government forces.

Norway, one of countries that played a critical role the 2005 peace deal ending the North-South Sudan civil war, on Wednesday said it was now time for Uganda to start withdrawing its troops from the world’s youngest nation to avoid worsening the crisis.

South Sudan’s foreign minister, however, told Sudan Tribune on Thursday that his government would not need any additional troops from the neighbouring Uganda.

"With the cessation of hostilities now signed, we hope that peace and calm will come and government we will not need the additional involvement of Ugandan troops,” said Barnaba Marial Benjamin.

Last week, Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda, the spokesperson of the UPDF said their forces did not intend stay in the world’s youngest nation for long.

"UPDF not intent on staying for long in South Sudan;" he said in a tweet after a visit to the Ugandan troops in Bor on 24 January.


South Sudan Government, Yau Yau Rebels Sign Ceasefire


South Sudanese government, Yauyau rebels sign ceasefire

January 30, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – South Sudan government and the Cobra Faction of its rebel South Sudan Democratic Movement/Defense Army (SSDM/A) on Thursday signed an agreement on cessation of hostilities to end nearly three years of rebellion.

The deal, inked in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, followed a week of negotiations between the two parties under the auspices of the Church Leaders Mediation Initiative (CLMI) on Jonglei peace dialogue chaired by Bishop Paride Taban.

It followed the 6 January unilateral declaration of ceasefire by South Sudan army (SPLA), which SSDM/A, Cobra Faction led by David Yauyau, accepted as a way of creating conducive environment for meaningful peace negotiations between the two parties.

Rev. Canon Clement Janda led the government delegation while the SSDM/A team was headed by Gen. Khalid Botrous.

The agreement, Bishop Paride said in a statement, aims at bringing peaceful and durable solution to the conflict that made the rebel group resort to armed option.

“The agreement will come as a result of the Unilateral Declaration of Ceasefire by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army on January 6, 2014 that was accepted by the SSD/MA, Cobra Faction as a way of creating a conducive environment for meaningful peace negotiations between the two parties,” partly reads the statement.

The engagement in negotiations, it stressed, seeks remedies to the conflicts in Jonglei and between other parties for a comprehensive peace deal in the country’s largest state.

According to Bishop Taban, the cessation of hostilities agreement between the warring parties will enable peace in the communities affected by the conflict, providing an urgent need for reconciliation in not only in Jonglei, but the entire country.

The two parties, as part of the agreement, also agreed to unite to realise the vision of a stable region where communities live and coexist in peace and harmony with one another.

Yauyau rebelled against South Sudan’s ruling party (SPLM) after the April 2010 elections when, as an independent candidate, he lost his campaign to represent Gumuruk–Boma constituency in Pibor county at Jonglei state assembly.

In 2011, however, he joined the SPLA, but rebelled again in April 2012. After an increase in violence in Pibor county, the army announced it was suspending the civilian disarmament campaign in the area to focus on nullifying the rebellion.


The new deal comes a week after government and rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM in Opposition) signed a ceasefire agreement in the Ethiopian capital to end over a month-old fighting in the world’s youngest nation.

The long-awaited agreement on cessation of hostilities came after South Sudan’s government agreed to release 11 political figures, initially held in connection with last year’s alleged failed coup attempt in the country’s capital, Juba.

Seven of the detainees were released on Tuesday, but seven others face treason charges.

Fighting broke out in mid-December between President Salva Kiir government army and forces loyal to his ex-deputy, Riek Machar, leading to more than 1,000 deaths and displacing half a million people in the country’s worst-ever outbreak of violence.


Ruthless Christian Militias Hunt Down Muslims in CAR Capital

Ruthless Christian militias hunt down Muslims in CAR capital

By Jean-Pierre Campagne (AFP)

(Central African Republic) — Rudimentary weapons taken from Christian extremist militias by French troops in the capital of the Central African Republic were piled up on the ground, near the body of a young man whose ears were ripped off.

"He was a Muslim from here, named Abaka. They killed him in the courtyard of his house," a Christian neighbour, Benjamin, told AFP.

"They" referred to "anti-balaka" (anti-machete) vigilantes who fiercely target Muslims in Bangui on the pretext of hunting down ex-rebels from the Seleka coalition.

Sporadic shots could be heard Thursday around the PK-5 business hub of the capital, where numerous Muslim-owned shops attract looters and anti-balaka forces, who are kept at bay by armed Muslims and remaining Seleka forces.

But night and day, residents from the Muslim minority, like Abaka, are cut down by anti-balaka forces armed with machetes, hammers, slings and spades.

"We need to cover the body," said a soldier of France's Operation Sangaris, consisting of 1,600 troops who work alongside an African Union peacekeeping force currently 5,500 strong. About 20 French soldiers sought to prevent scores of people from looting the property of the murdered Muslim.

But several looters were already busy.

"Don't come close, stay where you are and back off," a soldier yelled at a youth, but when the soldier stepped just three metres (yards) away, the looter came past, carrying a wooden door, while another followed with a hosepipe.

Though few in number, the soldiers were holding dozens of youths at bay, half-hidden by tall grass behind the dead Muslim's property. It was impossible to tell whether they were anti-balaka forces, would-be looters or hooligans.

"This isn't normal," Benjamin protested.

"Sangaris wants to stop us from looting!"

By the roadside, the owner of a shop named "L'Arche de Noe" ("Noah's Ark") took advantage of a few moments' peace to shut up his premises with a padlock, but the curious kept gathering in their hundreds.

"We won't tell you ten times," a soldier warned the new arrivals. "Get over to the other side of the road."

Coming from the airport zone, where the French troops and the AU's MISCA force are based, an African military ambulance sped by with a wailing siren. Warning shots rang out as French soldiers fired over the heads of the crowd.

A score of French troops backed up by two armoured vehicles on Thursday threatened looters in the Yangato district near the airport with the use of force unless they departed.

"Disperse or we will use force against you," the platoon commander announced by megaphone to a crowd seeking to pillage Muslim property. "Any man who commits extortion is an enemy of the peace."

The threat was affective, though determined looters lingered, waiting for the French troops to leave.

Inter-religious violence has claimed thousands of lives and displaced a million people in the population of 4.6 million, yet such clashes are unprecedented in the poor, landlocked country.

They erupted when former strongman Michel Djotodia, brought to power by Seleka forces in March last year, proved incapable of reining in his fighters, whose atrocities against Christians prompted the emergence of the anti-balaka and a spiral of violence and hatred.

'He looked like a Muslim'

In one district lay the body of a young Christian, killed according to local people because anti-balaka fighters mistook him for a Muslim.

"He looked like a Muslim with his curly hair and prayer beads around his wrist," witness Victor said. The dead man's legs, sticking out from under the cloth that covered him, were deeply cut above the ankles, "to make the blood flow faster," according to one commentator.

"This can't go on. Things are getting out of hand. It must stop," Victor said softly.

The wife of the victim and one of his sisters were weeping. "I told him not to go out," cried the bereaved spouse, throwing her arms up to heaven. Relatives and neighbours put the body on a cart and embarked on a slow funereal procession.

Medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) reported Thursday that in Bangui, "our teams are treating large numbers of people for injuries that are the result of extreme violence including maimings from attacks and lynchings."

"Last week we treated 200 people... for violence-related injuries, 90 of whom needed lifesaving surgery, MSF said in a statement, adding that it planned to extend its medical and humanitarian work into the interior, "where our emergency teams report that some villages remain deserted and people are terrorised."

The new interim president, Catherine Samba Panza, has appealed for hundreds more troops and a full United Nations "peacekeeping operation".

The UN Security Council responded on Tuesday with a resolution giving a planned European Union contingent of 600 men a mandate to use "all necessary force", while also authorising an asset freeze and travel bans on the ringleaders of groups blamed for atrocities.

AU Must Deal With Harsh Realities

Africa must close the gap between fine words and harsh realities to end conflict

Turmoil in South Sudan and Central African Republic means African Development Bank guidance is likely to go unheeded

As the UN and the African Union (AU) grapple with crises in South Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR), the publication of an African Development Bank (AfDB) report on ending conflict and building peace in Africa is nothing if not timely.

The study, Ending Conflict and Building Peace in Africa: A Call to Action – prepared by the bank's high-level panel on fragile states, chaired by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Liberian president – looks at the pressure points that could lead to conflict: youth unemployment, urbanisation, governance in the extractive industries, climate change, and poverty and inequality.

Particularly pertinent, given the turmoil in South Sudan and CAR, is what the report has to say about statebuilding, the issues surrounding which can be expected to weigh heavily at the AU summit beginning in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Thursday. The summit was supposed to discuss agriculture and food security, but these crises are likely to dominate discussions.

"The fact that these humanitarian tragedies are unfolding in the two countries at a time when we are talking about an 'African renaissance' must be painful to all of us," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Ethiopian foreign minister, this week.

The report says attention must be given to the transition of national movements into statebuilding and peacemaking. Suggested areas of focus include the importance of inclusive political settlements, the re-establishment of security and justice, economic competence and the delivery of public services.

It adds: "Overcoming fragility is first and foremost about building or re-establishing the underlying political settlement on which the state is constructed. Without solid political foundations, attempts to build resilient institutions are unlikely to succeed."

Regional partners within the framework of the AU have their role to play as conflict can spread and destabilise neighbours. Past examples have included the spread of conflict through the Great Lakes (east Africa) and Mano river (west Africa) regions and the destabilisation of Chad and CAR as a result of the Darfur conflict.

The report's analysis and recommendations are all well and good, but the current crises underline the chasm between sage words on the page and harsh realities on the ground. In South Sudan, the political settlement looked inclusive enough, bringing the rival egos of Salva Kiir and Riek Machar into the cabinet. Western officials also said they were impressed by the wide-ranging consultations ahead of an expected "new deal" compact with aid donors.

Yet it all fell apart as simmering tensions between Kiir and Machar boiled over last December, pushing the world's newest state to the brink of civil war. Events in South Sudan show how hard it is to follow the script as laid out by the AfDB report, which states that political settlement "must establish the power relations between contending groups in society. If any significant political force or social group is excluded from participation, they are likely to pursue their interests outside the political process, creating the risk of conflict."

Countries that do follow the script show what can be accomplished. Somaliland, the self-declared republic that broke away from Somalia in 1991, is one example. Left to their own devices, without myriad peace conferences, Somaliland's clans managed to thrash out a political deal that has ensured a degree of stability and democratic rule in the volatile Horn of Africa.

While the report talks of the importance of regional efforts to ensure stability, South Sudan and CAR underline the impotence of the AU, which was specifically mandated to prevent a repetition of the Rwandan genocide. For well over a decade, there has been much talk of an African standby force that can intervene in emergencies such as the one in CAR, but plans have yet to get off the ground. The problem is as much about leadership as resources.

As Martin Plaut has argued, the AU's ability to intervene has been badly undermined by a failure of African leadership. Nigeria and South Africa are rivals for a possible seat on the UN security council, but are saddled with weak presidents who cannot provide a sense of direction to the continent.

In other recommendations, the report urges states that are in the process of building effective institutions to look to civil society to build resilience. The private sector is seen as a vital stabilising force, "creating alternatives to conflict economies based on predatory or illicit activity".

The report also highlights the importance of women in building resilience, but notes how they are largely marginalised from national peacebuilding and statebuilding. It says: "The benefits of empowering women during transitions out of fragility are many. At the national level, they bring an alternative voice to the political process, to challenge established lines of division … international partners should therefore place a strong emphasis on supporting women's agency, encouraging their progressive inclusion in politics and government at all levels, while recognising the diversity of women's voices and interests."

Laudable sentiments, but will leaders meeting in Addis pay any heed?

African Union Summit Begins With CAR High on Agenda


AU summit kicks off, with Central African Republic high on the agenda

African leaders are discussing violent conflicts that have forced people to flee their homes. Thirty-four leaders from across the continent have traveled to the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa for the summit.

AU summit

Opening the 22nd summit of the African Union (AU), Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn expressed concern over conflicts in South Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR). The UN estimates that South Sudan's monthlong conflict has left 3.7 million people without food security and displaced more than 700,000. Sectarian violence between Muslims and Christians in the neighboring CAR has displaced nearly 1 million people since last spring.

"We need to find urgent solutions to rescue these two sisterly countries from falling into the abyss," Hailemariam said Thursday.

"Failure to do so will have serious implications for peace and security in the region and indeed the whole continent."

The UN accuses both sides of atrocities in South Sudan. A failed coup attempt in December sparked the violence. An uneasy peace agreement has been signed.

Conflict in CAR

The AU and UN also called for action to end violence in CAR, which slid into conflict in March after the overthrow of its president.

"Our common objective is to end the violence between Muslim and Christian communities," UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said. "We must act without delay."

Often accused of responding sluggishly toward crises, the AU, with members from 54 of the continent's 55 states - only Morocco has not joined - appears to have taken steps toward more robust action in the face of sudden outbreaks of violence. Plans include keeping in place an AU standby force of troops ready to deploy during emergency situations.

More positive plans

The AU also looked ahead on Thursday, toward a distant future of high-speed railways, a common language, diplomatic clout, cutting-edge fashion and leadership in space exploration. In a speech, AU chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma provided a foresight of what Africa could look like in just 50 years' time, providing some welcome distraction to an agenda dominated by conflict.

Written as a message to a friend in 2063, Dlamini-Zuma spoke of a "grand reality" where a new Confederation of African States had replaced the AU. "At the beginning of the 21st century, we used to get irritated with foreigners when they treated Africa as one country: As if we were not a continent of over a billion people and 55 sovereign states!" she said. "But the advancing global trend towards regional blocks, reminded us that integration and unity is the only way for Africa to leverage its competitive advantage."

She spoke of a future Africa with "regional manufacturing hubs" in Congo, Angola and Zambia, as well as "Silicon Valleys" in Rwanda, Egypt, Nigeria and Kenya, and of equal access for women to education and business ownership. The future Africa, Dlamini-Zuma said, would also lead the world in renewable energy and leave its wars in the past. She also spoke of an African Space Agency, a telecommunications infrastructure spanning the whole continent and high-speed rail links between countries as exist in Europe.

mkg/msh (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

Imperialists and Their Allies Contemplate Large-Scale Intervention in CAR

Planned EU mission is not enough for Central Africans

The reaction of the Central African Republic to the EU force planned for the crisis-stricken country has been muted. The 600 additional soldiers can hardly be enough to restore order.

The decision of the UN Security Council to authorize the deployment of a European intervention force in the Central African Republic has received a lukewarm response.

Under the resolution, up to 600 European soldiers are to restore order in the capital Bangui and guarantee the safety of the population, through the use of force, if necessary.

The mission, under the name of EUFOR RCA (European Union Force, Central African Republic), is to bolster the 1,600 French soldiers of Operation Sangaris and the 4,400 troops of the African intervention force MISCA already in the country. A mandate of up to six months has been approved. It is still unclear when the deployment will begin and which EU member states will participate. Alongside Mali, Somalia and the Horn of Africa, this is now the fourth joint mission of the European Union in Africa.

Interim President Samba Panza expects more help from the international community
Germany does not want to dispatch troops, but could secure air transport to neighboring countries. The UN Security Council on Tuesday (28.01.2014) also called on the interim government in Bangui to hold elections as soon as possible.

Observers, however, doubt that the planned military mission will be sufficient to stop the violence that has been escalating for months in the Central African Republic. "We need additional troops," Virginie Dero, who heads a human rights organization in the country, warned in an interview with Deutsche Welle.

Especially outside the capital, the security situation was still catastrophic, she said.

"Take the village of Kabou 600 kilometers (373 miles) north of Bangui, for example: its inhabitants are still being victimized by the armed groups, that is to say Seleka as well as anti-balaka." The former has a predominantly Muslim base, the latter's base comprises mostly Christians. "Both are holding the population of Kabou hostage," Dero said.

UN peacekeeping mission soon?
In an interview with DW, the Central African Republic's interim president, Catherine Samba Panza, welcomed the European intervention but indicated that she expected more support from the international community. "It may not be enough, but it is a big help," Samba Panza said.

The president also drew attention to the alarming security situation, both in Bangui and in the interior of the country. She hopes that the African mission MISCA will be expanded into a UN peacekeeping operation with several thousand additional troops. The UN estimates that at least 10,000 soldiers would be needed to restore security in the country.

Samba Panza is 'resisting massive pressure'
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, however, has not yet held out the prospect of such a peacekeeping mission. For the moment, he has appealed to the African states to increase their military and financial support for the crisis-stricken country.

Following an African Union (AU) summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, a donor conference for countries in crisis, such as the Central African Republic, will be held on Saturday (01.02.2014).

But interim President Samba Panza cannot participate in the AU summit officially. The membership of the Central African Republic has been suspended since the coup staged by Seleka rebels in March of last year. It could be possible that Samba Panza will report on the situation in the country as a guest of the summit, said AU Commission chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

The militias are exerting massive pressure on the government

"I don't know whether that's what will happen, but they will not participate in the summit until the Central African Republic has a democratically elected government," she said.

After months of chaos, the Central African Republic at least has a government again. On Monday (27.01.2014), interim Prime Minister Andre Nzapayeke had presented his cabinet. That was good news, said Thierry Vircoulon, an expert on Africa with the International Crisis Group. "One can see that President Samba Panza is asserting herself and is resisting massive anti-balaka and Seleka pressure." Of the 20 ministers, three are tied to the Muslim dominated Seleka rebels, while another three have links to the mostly Christian anti-balaka militia.