Monday, December 29, 2008

Somalia president resigns

The president of Somalia's transitional federal government has resigned, following a power struggle with parliament over the prime minister's post. With Islamist forces occupying much of the country and with Ethiopian occupation troops due to pull out this week, the move is triggering even more fear of chaos and instability. The speaker of parliament will become acting president until a new head of state is named.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Guinean strongman dies; military reportedly seizes power

Friends of Guinea blog reports on the death of Guinean dictator Lansana Conté and the apparent military coup that has followed. Reprinted with permission.

The BBC is reporting that there has been an army coup in Guinea following the death yesterday of the head of state Gen. Lansana Conté. An army officer told state radio that the constitution had been suspended, the government dissolved and ministers rounded up 'to guarantee their security.'

The prime minister rejected the coup and insisted that the government 'continues to function as it should.' The National Assembly president, who constitutionally, would become acting president of the Republic, said he did not think the military was behind the attempted rebellion.

Shortly after the prime minister's remarks, the Associated Press reported a phalanx of tanks and armed soldiers heading toward the head of government's office.

The BBC notes that residents of Conakry are nervous about the transition of power, especially in the face of longstanding reports of ethnic divisions within the army.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Malagasy TV station arbitrarily censored

In Madagascar, the private television station Viva TV has been shut down after broadcasting an interview with the country's former strongman Didier Ratsiraka. The interview was unilaterally deemed by the minister of communications to be 'likely to disrupt security and public order.' Several other television outlets broadcast the same interview the preceding week, but Viva TV was the only one punished by the government.

Viva's owner is also the mayor of the capital Antananarivo and an outspoken opponent of the current government.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

YouTube for human rights

Radio Netherlands' excellent The State We're In program talked about an interesting new website called

It's basically a YouTube-like site where people can post videos exposing human rights' abuses.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

When will Zim's unemployment rate reach 80 pct plus one?

An estimated 80 percent of Zimbabweans don't have jobs in what used to be called the bread basket of southern Africa. It makes you wonder when 'President' Mugabe and his cronies will cease having theirs. Especially since the unemployment rate is far from the worst statistic one could've cited for this country ruined by the unimaginable greed and egos of a tiny elite.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Obscenity quantified

An lawsuit has been filed in France against the heads of state of Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville and Equatorial Guinea. The lawsuit alleges that the three dictators have money and property in France gained via corruption.

What's particularly interesting is some of the numbers cited in the lawsuit. It claims that...

-Gabon's Omar Bongo and his inner circle have 39 residences (most of which situated in Paris' chic 16th arrondissement). The world's longest serving president also has 70 bank accounts. Not bad for someone who's been formally earning a public servant's salary since 1960.

-The family of Congo-Brazzaville's strongman, Denis Sassou-Nguesso, is reported to have 24 apartments and 112 bank accounts in l'Hexagone.

-Equatorial Guinea's madman Teodoro Obiang Nguema is a pauper by comparison, with only an apartment and eight luxury cars discovered.

These numbers are only what they own in France alone and what's been able to be identified by the French authorities.

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Monday, December 01, 2008

World AIDS Day and Guinea

From Friends of Guinea blog (reprinted with permission)

In the run up to International AIDS day, the UN's IRIN news service had several articles related to AIDS in Guinea and West Africa.

IRIN reports that Guinea's mining sector is stepping up its anti-AIDS efforts. With an HIV infection rate of 5.2 per cent, the lucrative mining sector in Guinea is particularly at risk from the epidemic. Some mining companies have begun setting up their own programmes to make up for the lack of HIV/AIDS services on offer. But they say a public-private partnership is essential if local residents are not to be excluded. This is important as HIV services now tend to be concentrated in the capital Conakry, some distance away from the main mining regions.

Another piece points out that antiretroviral treatments are now free in Guinean hospitals. This is an important step in Guinea, such treatments cost patients $100 a month or sufferers were forced to travel to Dakar, Senegal. However, the article warns that bureaucratic difficulties may hamper the campaign's efficiency.

IRIN also had a fascinating piece on how national legislation designed to slow the spread of AIDS in West Africa is a double-edged sword.

In places like Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali and Niger, a woman can be criminally charged with not taking the steps necessary to prevent HIV transmission to her unborn baby, such as taking antiretroviral (ARV) drugs during pregnancy. Sierra Leone recently changed a legal provision that explicitly referred to a mother passing on the virus to her baby as a crime.

In Togo, people who do not use male or female condoms in "all risky sexual relations" are considered to be breaking the law; HIV-positive people are prohibited from having unprotected sex, regardless of whether they have disclosed their status to their partner.

Guinean law requires mandatory HIV testing before marriage, while Togolese law provides for periodic mandatory testing of sex workers for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases.

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