Sunday, May 29, 2011

Kampala warns Khartoum over military invasion of oil-rich state

Uganda will not interfere in the current standoff between Khartoum and the South over oil-rich Abyei state, which northern troops overrun a fortnight ago.
But it warns that Khartoum’s action is futile as it runs counter to global opinion and provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
While acknowledging the significance of Southern Sudan to Uganda’s security and economic interests, Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga ruled out immediate military intervention, even as northern militias were progressing further south after a lightning attack that dislodged the SPLA administration from Abyei.
“We’ll continue to play our role as part of the team that guaranteed the CPA. Any spoiler will be dealt with politically and diplomatically, and if this fails he will be dealt with by any other means. Khartoum should play by the rules of the CPA and practise the principles of good neighbourliness,” Mr Kiyonga said.
He added that the South spoke with one voice when they voted for independence in the January referendum and their decision enjoyed universal support.
Mr Kiyonga’s comments were in consonance with those of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces, Land Forces Commander, Lt Gen Katumba Wamala, who said any involvement by Kampala will initially be diplomatic.
“We hope sober minds will prevail, but UPDF can’t get involved in that conflict. At a diplomatic level, we will push to calm the two conflicting sides because, as people who were engaged in the CPA, we have to ensure that it does not collapse.”
The National Congress Party (NCP) of the Khartoum government and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) of the South are the two CPA partners of the 2005 peace negotiations in Kenya. The South is on the verge of attaining independence this July, so collapse of the CPA would complicate matters for regional intergovernmental bodies, the African Union and the international community.
First, with 15,000 people already displaced by hostilities in Abyei since May 20, any escalation of violence would result in mass exodus of refugees.
Secondly, conflict in the Sudan offers fertile ground for terrorists to roam and execute attacks on the region — considering that before the 1998 bombing of US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Sudan was a haven for al Qaeda terrorists.
Thirdly, escalation of conflict in Sudan would affect insecure countries like Somalia, which could export terrorism to the region. Moreover, Uganda, which has about 4,500 soldiers in the African Union Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia, no longer maintains troops in Sudan as it did during the years it was fighting the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army.
With pursuit of the LRA in the Central African Republic, and now the developments in Abyei, Uganda might find its security organs overstretched. But Wamala says this is out of the question. “We have enough resources for Somalia. We’ll not sacrifice Somalia for anything; if we have to do an internal reorganisation so be it.”
Gen Kiyonga says that while there is evidence that LRA leader Joseph Kony has tried to link up with international terrorists, he is currently too weak and insignificant and is just hoping for survival. He also thinks Kony is such a liability that even Khartoum would not pick him again.
He adds: “Kony is not just a problem for Uganda and other countries in central Africa — even the US want to see that he does not rebuild his strength.”
Khartoum seized Abyei 10 days ago in what was seen as the North’s attempt to manipulate the results of a referendum in the semi autonomous state in July this year to decide whether it would remain part of the North or go with the South. The referendum follows the one in January on secession of the South from the Arab north.
In a matter of days, Abyei was besieged by Khartoum government troops and set ablaze last week.

Gil Scott-Heron obituary

YouTube - Gil Scott-Heron obituary: ""

Friday, May 27, 2011

Ethiopia rebels say they take town, free UN staff

<p>Ethiopian soldiers stand guard at their base in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, January 13, 2009. REUTERS/Ismail Taxta</p>
1 of 1Full Size
By Aaron Maasho
ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Rebels in Ethiopia's Somali Region said on Thursday they had seized a town from government troops and freed two U.N. workers who had been missing since an ambush on a U.N. convoy two weeks ago.
The ethnic Somali province, more commonly known as the Ogaden, is home to a low-level insurgency led by the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), which has been fighting for independence since 1984.
The U.N. World Food Programme had said one of its drivers was killed and another injured when gunmen ambushed the convoy on May 13, and two other WFP workers were missing.
Government authorities and the ONLF have accused each other of carrying out the attack. The ONLF said it had been an attempt to silence WFP employees who had witnessed government operations that killed civilians.
"The Ogaden National Liberation Army of (the) ONLF has captured the town of Galalshe in Jigjiga Region near Babili," the group said in a statement that did not disclose any dates.
The rebels said they had inflicted casualties on government troops while also capturing armaments and ammunition.
"The (ONLF) army found hundreds of civilian prisoners detained in the Galalshe jail who had been tortured and badly treated. Among the prisoners found were the two WFP workers abducted by the Ethiopian Army," it added.
Authorities were not immediately available for comment, but they often dismiss the rebels' claims as baseless propaganda.
WFP spokeswoman Judith Schuler said the agency could not confirm the release, but that it had partially resumed operations in the region, which were suspended after the incident.
The area is facing a drought-induced food crisis. The United Nations last month appealed for $75 million in food and other aid for 2 million people in Ethiopia's southern regions.
Journalists and aid groups cannot move unhindered in the area, making the allegations very difficult to verify.
Ethiopian forces waged an offensive against the rebels in late 2007 after the ONLF attacked a Chinese-run oil facility, killing 74 people. Analysts say the rebels were weakened but are still able to launch hit-and-run attacks.
Ethiopia says the Ogaden basin may contain 4 trillion cubic feet of gas and major oil deposits.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Kenya Broadcasting Corporation: - KBC News

President Mwai Kibaki who is in Ethiopia for the 2nd Africa-India Forum Summit, Tuesday met and held discussions with the country's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

The meeting was a follow-up to talks the two leaders held in Kampala, Uganda last week on harmonious co-existence of communities living along the common border.

Tuesday's talks set out the agenda that will be discussed at a Joint Ministerial meeting between representatives of the two countries. This includes the issue of beacons along the common border and the sustainable use of shared resources like the Lake Turkana.

The two leaders also discussed regional issues including peace and security in the Sudan and Somalia. They called for patience and tolerance in Sudan that has entered a critical stage in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that set out the roadmap for stability in the country.

During the discussions, President Kibaki and the Ethiopian Premier also expressed the need for fast-tracking infrastructural projects connecting the two countries.

President Kibaki briefed the Premier on progress Kenya is making on the Isiolo Moyale Road whose construction to bitumen standards is currently underway. The road will connect the two countries at the Moyale border post.

Earlier, President Kibaki joined 14 other African heads of government and state for the 2nd Africa-India Forum Summit to review implementation of the partnership projects agreed upon during the first Summit in India three years ago.

The Summit which brought together the African leaders invited by the African union to represent the continent and Indian Premier Dr. Manmohan Singh will also consider modalities of strengthening cooperation between the two partners on the three pillars of capacity building and skill transfer, trade and infrastructure development spelt out under the framework of partnership.

The Premier, in his address, pledged loans totaling five billion US dollars for the next three years under new lines of credit to help achieve development goals in Africa.

India will offer an additional 700 million US dollars to establish new institutions and training programmes in consultation with the African union, the Premier said.

Accompanying the President on his visit are Internal Security Minister who is acting Foreign Affairs Minister Prof. George Saitoti and Trade Minister Chirau Ali Makwere and legislators George Nyamweya and Eric Omondi Anyanga.

Netanyahu: Borders Must Reflect 'Dramatic' Changes From 1967

Netanyahu: Borders Must Reflect 'Dramatic' Changes From 1967: ""

Monday, May 23, 2011

Kenya to recognize Somaliland |

NAIROBI — The Kenyan Government on Friday expressed its readiness to extend diplomatic recognition to the Republic of Somaliland in the near future. Kenyan Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs Richard Onyonka said during an event held in Nairobi to commemorate Somaliland’s 20th anniversary of Independence that his country will support Somaliland as an independent state. The Minister made it clear that his government will encourage the African Union and Igad to finally accept Somaliland as a sovereign state, which has been described recently as one of few democracies in an otherwise the turbulent region.

Somaliland expatriates who attended the event with Mr Onyonka welcomed the Minister’s remarks and said Somaliland is a deserving country and should have its voice on the international stage.“We have managed to remain stable in a very volatile region and this should push the global community to recognize our sovereignty from the bigger Somalia,” Mohamed Saleh told Tehran based PressTv.

Sources in Nairobi said that last year the Kenyan government was
deeply divided over the issue with President Kibaki strongly opposed
to Somaliland recognition while his Prime Minister Raila Odinga was a
strong advocate for Somaliland. He is said to be one of the closest
friends of Somaliland’s former leader Mohamed Ibrahim Haji Egal. Mr
Odinga was joined by the Deputy Speaker of the Kenyan National
Assembly Farah Maalim, who is himself an ethnic Somali from the
North-eastern regions of Kenya. Mr Maalim visited Hargeisa several
times including during the inauguration of President Ahmed Silanyo in
July 2010 after June elections.

Kenyan Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs Richard Onyonka

Kenyan Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs Richard Onyonka

The Deputy Speaker also submitted a report detailing their findings and recommendations on Somaliland to the Kenyan Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende. Mr Marende approved their findings however according to Kenya’s former MP Peter Aringo the report is before Parliament awaiting debate and approval.

A few months ago more than a dozen Kenyan members of Parliament visited Hargeisa to study the political situation in Somaliland and to learn more about its indigenous home-grown conflict resolution strategies. It is believed the visit looked at a whole raft of issues including the maritime piracy development, Somalia’s weak Transitional Federal Government’s failure to resolve its own issues and the increased engagement of the international community with Somaliland may have pushed Kenya to seek ties with Hargeisa.

Kenyans who have called for their government to recognise Hargeisa
argue Somaliland would help stabilize the region and stop Somalia’s
expansionism dreams into Kenya and Ethiopia’s eastern regions with
Somali ethnic populations. They have also advised their government to
take other necessary measures to counter continued instability in Mogadishu including the formation of the so called buffer zone, Azania inside Somalia.

More than 5,000 Somalilanders gathered outside the British Parliament on Wednesday to request recognition (Photo: Wayne Moser)

Kenya is a key regional player and has paid important roles in the
formation of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) which often operates from Nairobi rather than Mogadishu. Sources in Nairobi say the Kenyan Government is becoming increasingly worried about al Shabaab, maritime piracy off the coast of Somalia and TFG’s lack of resolve and ability to deal with internal disputes. If Kenya does announce its formal recognition of Somaliland other regional powers are expected to follow including Ethiopia, the base of the African Union.

Somaliland’s orderly and jubilant twentieth anniversary celebrations on 18th May 2011 have drawn favourable reactions from around the world. European and North American policy makers have begun to reassess their own individual stance in the light of continued regional conflict and the changes rippling out from the Maghreb, the Middle East and Sudan. Whilst there is a degree of reticence to come out publicly at present there has been a dramatic increase in diplomatic and commercial interest in Somaliland that seasoned commentators see as a prelude to full recognition. Sources close to the British Government indicate that should various key African nations declare their willingness to fully recognise Somaliland it would be well disposed to follow suit.

Somaliland is equally attracting leading international companies with the likes of Coca Cola and Western Union already establishing franchises. International analysts say this sort of activities will promote investment interest and business confidence in the region. The Somaliland government also says a French bank in the neighbouring Djibouti will soon open an office in Hargeisa. Djibouti Air, the main international carrier for the tiny Red Sea nation, has already began twice weekly services from Dubai to the Somaliland port city of Berbera.

This week Djibouti also sent a large delegation led by the former Djibouti Defense Minister Ougoureh Kifle Ahmed to take part in the independence day celebrations. Mr Ahmed told AFP that there is a possibility that Djibouti will recognize Somaliland. “The door is open to all possibilities for the modification of former boundaries,” he told AFP.

Like Kenya, Somaliland is a former British protectorate that gained
independence June 1960. It later unified with the Trust Territory of
Somalia (the former Italian Somaliland) forming what became known as
the Somali Republic. However, the union collapsed in 1991 following two
decades of internationally-hidden civil war that left more than 50,000
Somalilanders killed. In May 1991, Somaliland declared the restoration
of its sovereignty however it has not yet managed to regain international recognition. Somaliland has already forged a range of commercial relationships and has been afforded observer status by the Commonwealth.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

CERN Atom Smasher - How it works

CERN Atom Smasher - How it works: ""

Why Ethiopians hate Somalis

Why Ethiopians hate Somalis: ""

Penn Quaker Dau Jok returns to Sudan with Project for Peace - ESPN

By Dana O'Neil

He was 6 when his father was killed, his body returned to the family's home on a makeshift stretcher.

He was 17 when his grandfather was killed, caught in the crossfire of a war that has been raging for 20 years.

Dau Jok
Courtesy of Dau JokDau Jok, in the red shirt with his father, brother and mother. His father was killed in the Sudanese civil war when he was 6.

Dau Jok is not merely a victim of violence. He is a byproduct of it, born into its grasp and reared in a world where AK-47s were more readily available than pen and paper.

Until Jok, who just finished his freshman season at Penn, came to the United States eight years ago, the word peace was as foreign to him as the snow that greeted him when he settled in Des Moines, Iowa. In the Southern Sudan, the place Jok calls home, war is not news. It's life, a two-decade long battle between the Africans and Arabs that has claimed an estimated 2 million lives and left a country in such poverty and disarray that people there are referred to as the "lost generation."

But while outsiders and even international health organizations struggle to maintain hope, one 18-year-old believes steadfastly in it.

Jok, the child of violence, has plans to bring that rare gift of peace to his home country.

Peace will come in the form of soccer balls and basketballs, an after-school program and in time, a school building. Mostly it will come in the form of human kindness.

It sounds simple but Jok knows it will work.

How? Because it worked for him.

"There are a lot of people who took a chance on me, who told me I could be somebody," said Jok, who played as a reserve for the Quakers this season. "It's amazing when I look at myself, at who I was and who I am now. It tells me it can be done. You just need to show these kids that somebody cares for them, that not only can they be somebody, they already are somebody."

Jok's dreams are far more than a lofty vision. They are slowly becoming a reality. He has established the Dut Jok Youth Foundation, named in honor of his late father, and last month was named one of the recipients of the Kathryn Wasserman Davis 100 Projects for Peace award.

On Wednesday he and teammate Zack Rosen joined 12 other Penn students for a 12-day trip to Rwanda as part of a service project. When his classmates return home, Jok will continue on to the Southern Sudan, arriving in his home for the first time since 2003. Jok will blog about his trip for

"I'm more excited than I am worried," Jok said. "It's like a dream come true. There's so much I want to get done."

The day they brought home the lifeless body of his father, a general in the Sudan People's Liberation Army, Jok's immediate reaction was to grab a gun himself.

The 6-year-old boy wanted revenge.

When kids in Des Moines teased him about his shoddy English or his gangly basketball skills, Jok's first instinct was to respond with his fists.

Fight or flight? For Jok, it wasn't a choice.

"We spent many hours talking about the idea that violence is not the answer," said Bruce Koepple, who served as a mentor for Jok in Des Moines. "That wasn't his mentality at first."

Dau Jok
Courtesy of Penn AthleticsJok just completed his freshman year at Penn, where he appeared in 12 games for the Quakers.

Jok came to Iowa -- as culturally and meteorologically opposite a world from Sudan as you could envision -- with his mother and three siblings, the end of a circuitous journey for the family after Dut Jok was killed. Initially they moved to Rumbek, a larger town in Sudan and then continued on to Uganda.

In December 2003, they came to the United States, settling in Des Moines because of a large Sudanese refugee population there.

Like most kids in Africa, Jok grew up playing soccer, albeit a makeshift version -- "we would blow up balloons and wrap them in bandages" -- but in Iowa he discovered basketball. Jok spent hours in the local Y, mimicking the moves of the other kids he played against.

He continued to hone his game, attending skills camps and perfecting his jumper. His size -- he's 6-foot-4 -- and 3-point shooting ability were enough to attract interest from some colleges but Jok was looking for more than just basketball.

He wanted an education. The kid who grew up writing in the sand because his school had no books or paper maintained a 3.9 grade-point average at Roosevelt High School.

When the University of Pennsylvania called -- with the hook of basketball and the promise of an Ivy League education -- Jok didn't hesitate.

"Sports gave me discipline," he said, "and academics, that's the way to a better life. It's the combination for me. If I didn't have that balance I wouldn't be where I am. I wouldn't be in a position to help people."

Dau Jok is apologizing.

In the middle of answering a question about what he hopes to do with his $10,000 in grant money and with his foundation, Jok stops and says, "I'm sorry. I know I'm talking a lot, but I'm really excited."

The excitement is contagious. He is a burst of energy and a font of ideas, a kid who has his head in the clouds yet remains grounded to reality.

"He has been on a mission since the first day I met him," Koepple said.

If we don't develop the leaders of tomorrow, we will never develop our country. They need to understand that there is more to this world than what they know. There are opportunities if you open your mind.

--Penn freshman Dau Jok

That mission finally has a direction. Jok has long believed that the secret to ending the strife in the Sudan lies in the hands of its children. Through education, encouragement and, most of all, options that don't include violence, Jok is convinced that this generation can help restore the lost generation.

He conjured up the notion of a foundation named in honor of his father six months ago, imagining an organization that could provide the infrastructure needed to bolster kids. He would take the lessons he learned in the United States and apply them to Sudan. There would be real soccer balls and basketballs for kids to play with and to keep them busy. Girls, often married away before they are 16 and currently allowed to play only volleyball, would be introduced to new sports, their self-esteem bolstered.

There would be an after-school program where kids could work on their academics as well as learn about anger management and the spread of HIV. His foundation would sponsor a mandatory weekly service day, forcing kids to work productively and help one another; down the road, the country could host a national holiday, bringing together kids from every ethnic group in a collaborative effort to break down barriers.

And someday, if Jok has his way, there will be a secondary school, built with money from his foundation.

"It's a lot, I know, but I want to harness the potential of our youth," said Jok, who was inspired by his late uncle, Manute Bol. "If we don't develop the leaders of tomorrow, we will never develop our country. They need to understand that there is more to this world than what they know. There are opportunities if you open your mind."

What was once a plan now actually has some heft thanks to the Projects for Peace grant.

The four-year-old program began at the insistence of Davis, who just before her 100th birthday put up $1 million, challenging undergraduates to develop programs that could contribute to peace. She has since reissued her pledge annually, offering $1 million more each time.

Dau Jok
Courtesy of Dau JokDau Jok (in the red shirt) appearing with his father (blue shirt), mother and brother, will return to Sudan for the first time since he was a boy.

When Jok decided to begin his foundation, he turned to Penn professor Dr. Harriet Joseph for help. Joseph is the director of the university's Center for Research & Fellowships, and a self-described "basketball junkie."

Impressed by his idea and stunned to learn about his background, Joseph went to Cheryl Shipman, who specifically handles students' applications for grants and fellowships.

By then, the Project for Peace deadline was a little more than a week away.

"I remember it was an Ivy League [road game] weekend," Joseph said. "Dau was writing the application on the bus and sending it to Cheryl. We had no idea if it would work but we decided to let it fly and see if it goes. And it went."

Jok's proposal for the Dut Jok Youth Foundation was one of 104 awarded the $10,000 grant.

Armed now with his grant money and a donation of more than 1,000 soccer balls that will await him when he arrives in Sudan, Jok hopes to meet with the country's ministers of sport and education and talk about his plans.

The visit -- which will extend until June 12 -- will be an emotional one for Jok. He returns to the place where his father and grandfather were killed, a country he hasn't laid eyes on since he was a small boy. There was a time, Jok admits, that such a trip would surely stir his anger and give rise to the cauldron of violence he long ago buried inside him.

Not anymore. Jok, who has family he is eager to visit, returns home not as an angry child but as a man with a mission.

"I'm a voice for the kid who understands nothing but violence," he said. "I'm a voice of a kid who can't go to school. I'm a voice of a kid who doesn't have food to eat or water to drink. The work doesn't stop here. There is lots to be done."

As Jok speaks, it is hard not to believe that he, barely a man himself, is the person to do it.

"He's going to change the world," Koepple said, without a trace of sarcasm. "I have no doubt about that. He will change the world."

Dana O'Neil covers college basketball for and can be reached at Follow Dana on Twitter: @dgoneil1.