MBEKI HIGHLIGHTS CHALLENGES FACING SA TEN YEARS LATER
CAPE TOWN- South African President Thabo Mbeki has delivered his State of the Nation address in Parliament in Cape Town with extensive referral to former President Nelson Mandela's speech in 1994 and a poem by Ingrid Jonker. Reflecting on the last ten years of democracy, Mbeki said April the 27th, 1994 brought about a whole new order for all South Africans. Mbeki says despite ten years of liberation, the country still faces many challenges.
Many people remain unemployed and still live in poverty. Mbeki says violence continues to plague the country while HIV/AIDS was a matter of serious concern. However, Mbeki says if the question were posed whether South Africa had made progress in the last ten years the answer would be a resounding YES.
He told Parliament that, after ten years of democracy, many people were still unemployed and many still lived in shacks without access to clean water and electricity. However, he says that the past ten years have seen many achievements. Mbeki has also dispelled any suggestions of major government policy changes after the election. He says the task ahead will be to ensure the vigorous implementation of present policies to create a winning society.
The President said change in South Africa could only be achieved within the context of democracy - with the popular and open participation of all its people. He said he had noted that there were already doomsayers suggesting impending violence during the forthcoming elections and radical constitutional amendments after. Mbeki was referring to suggestions by opposition leaders that he might seek a third term in office. The ruling African National Congress has denied this. Mbeki said during the Second Decade of Liberation the government would ensure that Freedom Park is built and completed together with legacy projects that celebrate South Africa's humanity and commitment to human dignity. -SABC
UN DISSAPROVES OF IVORY COAST'S HUMAN RIGHT ISSUES
Yamoussoukro- The UN special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression has criticized Ivory Coast for its failure to preserve human rights during the restive country's civil war.
Wrapping up a nine-day visit to the country, Ambeyi Ligabo says he observed serious shortcomings in Ivory Coast's protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Ligabo says he has had the opportunity of ascertaining that free circulation of balanced opinions and ideas is still difficult. He says there is a deep sense of uncertainty and fear because of the overwhelming presence of military forces and police checkpoints, which often harass and extort money from ordinary citizens for no reason.
Ligabo added that the abuse suffered by three journalists in the capital of Yamoussoukro, while covering a presidential event that occurred while he was in Ivory Coast, is contrary to the assurances he received from Ivorian authorities about respect for human rights. -Sapa-AFP
LIBERIA ON THE ROAD TO RECOVERY
MONROVIA- Thomas Nimely, the Liberian Foreign Minister, says that although the rebel movements Lurd and Model will remain a factor until the end of Liberia's transition period, disarmament is ending their role as a military force.
Nimely and Andrew S. Natsios, the US-AID Administrator, are to participate in the International Reconstruction Conference on Liberia taking place in New York. There is fear that without rapid and major investment in the improvement of infrastructure and services, Liberia will slide back into civil war.
Demobilization of rebel combatants tops a long list of concerns. The conference, co-hosted by the UN, the World Bank and the US, in collaboration with Liberia's transition government, aims to marshal international support for Liberia's reconstruction effort. -Sapa
AU TO ADOPT SECURITY, DEFENCE POLICY
MAPUTO- Reports say African Union (AU) leaders will adopt a security and defence policy at a summit in Libya this month giving the 53-nation body the right to intervene in conflicts around the continent.
Thirty-nine heads of states plan to attend the summit in Sirte on the 27th and 28th of this month, following a meeting of African defence ministers.
The AU says security is possibly the greatest obstacle to Africa's development, with wars such as those in Burundi, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo scaring off investors, uprooting millions and blighting the economies of entire regions. -Sapa
DRUG TRAFFICKING EUROPEANS FACE TOUGH SENTENCES
ACCRA- General Papa Owusu-Ankomah, the Ghanaian attorney general, says five Europeans detained after police seized a record haul of cocaine in Ghana could face up to 40-years imprisonment in the local prisons if found guilty. The remarks came as Ghanaian officials slammed a judge's decision this week to grant the five men bail of about $32 000 each. The accused, four Britons and a German are due to reappear in court in the former British colony next week Tuesday.
Ankomah says the case is a very serious matter with an international dimension, and it is important that they demonstrate that in Ghana are serious about drug smuggling. He added that they will push for the maximum sentence for the accused. The Europeans were arrested last month after 674-kilogram of cocaine worth $145-million were found packed into 22 parcels and hidden in a secret compartment behind a mirror at the home of Kevin Gorman, in the port city of Tema, east of Accra. -REUTERS
NIGERIA GOVT FAILS TO STOP LABOUR STRIKE
ABUJA- The Nigerian government has failed for the second time today to secure a court order prohibiting labour unions from holding a general strike called to protest against a new tax on fuel.
After the Abuja Appeals Court dismissed the government's case, Adams Oshiomhole, Nigeria's top union leader, told reporters that labour leaders would meet on Tuesday next week to discuss whether to resume their strike.
Previously, the Nigeria Labour Congress postponed its strike after the court ordered that both the unions' protest and the unpopular levy should be suspended pending a ruling on the case. However, the court today ruled that government's earlier attempt to secure an injunction against the strike in the Abuja High Court should be dismissed as that court has no national jurisdiction. -Sapa-AFP
SA COULD PAY MORE FOR HYDRO POWER
JOHANNESBURG- South Africa is to pay more for Cahora Bassa hydropower from neighbouring Mozambique if a new tariff scheme comes into effect.
Eskom says that governments of Mozambique, Portugal and South Africa met in Maputo to adjust tariffs. The South African electricity giant says the South African National Energy Regulator determines the price of electricity. The tariff increase, if approved, would therefore, not impact on consumers. -Sapa
SENEGAL, TUNISIA SQUARE UP
TUNIS- Senegal will have to beat Tunisia and face a hostile home crowd at Rades in tomororow's African Nations Cup quarterfinals.
Senegal lost the 2002 final to Cameroon on penalties. Observers say Senegal will now need to keep a cool head if they are to join the winners of the day's earlier game at the El Menzah stadium between Mali and Guinea in the last four teams.
Tunisia is top of their group despite a few shaky moments. Soccer analysts say Tunisia should revel in the home advantage offered by their country's flagship stadium. -SABC
LENNOX LEWIS HANGS HIS GLOVES
LONDON- Lennox Lewis, the world heavyweight champion, has announced his retirement from professional boxing.
The 38-year-old Briton is only the third heavyweight after Americans Gene Tunney and Rocky Marciano to retire while still the world champion. Lewis lost just two of his 44 fights in a 14-year professional career after he won the 1988 Seoul Olympic super-heavyweight gold medal for Canada. -Reuters http://www.channelafrica.org/