BOTSWANA HIKES UP HIV BUDGET
GABARONE- Botswana's fight against HIV/AIDS has received a boost through an increased share in the country's budget.
This emerged when Baldezi Gaolathe, the Botswana Finance Minister, presented the 2004/05 budget in Parliament. Gaolathe says that the State President's Office, which controls finances for the HIV/Aids campaign had been given the largest share of the development budget at 27%, but the amounts allocated to the Botswana Defence Force and police had been cut.
The government has committed about $9.4 million to the fight against the disease. Projects for completion by the end of the 2005/06-budget year also include the upgrading of seven hospitals. - Sapa
MUGABE AXES MINISTERS IN CABINET RESHUFFLE
HARARE- Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean President has dropped a couple of political associates from his government in a cabinet reshuffle.
In a long-awaited reshuffle, Mugabe axed Edward Chindori-Chininga, the Mines Minister and replaced Herbert Murerwa, the Finance Minister, with his deputy, Chris Kurineri. However, Mugabe has retained his overall ministerial team. It includes the combative trio of Agriculture Minister Joseph Made, Jonathan Moyo, the Information Minister and Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa.
The reshuffle coincides with a government drive against corruption in the public and private sector. Reuters
UN POSITIVE ON ELECTION ASSESMENT IN IRAQ
UNITED NATIONS- Koffi Annan, the UN Secretary General, says the work of a UN team in Iraq that is assessing elections viability, before the US-led coalition hands over power to Iraqis, is going extremely well.
Annan says the team met with the US-led coalition and the Iraqi Governing Council. During the talks with the Governing Council on Sunday, Sunni Muslim Arabs echoed the US view that early elections were not practical because of the need for extensive preparations to ensure a fair and credible ballot. However, most of the Shiite members favoured an early vote, arguing that sufficient data was available to guarantee an acceptable election.
Annan says the team is operating on the assumption that the US-led coalition will transfer power by the 30th of June, as called for in its agreement of the 15th of November with the Iraqi Governing Council. -Sapa-AP
LIBYAN FOREIGN MINISTER MEETS BLAIR
TRIPOLI- Mohamed Chalgam, the Libyan Foreign Minister, will meet Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister, in London later today. It will be the first meeting at this level for more than 20 years.
British officials have described Chalgam's visit as a milestone in steadily improving relations and part of wider efforts to end Libya's status as a pariah state. Blair is expected to urge Libya to stick to the timetable of dismantling its weapons of mass destruction programmes.
Meanwhile, Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minister, will visit Libya today. He is likely to seek similar assurances from Tripoli that it is dismantling its weapons programmes.
Also, Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, says he has called on Pakistan to uproot a network, which is believed to be led by a Pakistani scientist who gave nuclear weapons technology to Libya, Iran and North Korea.
However, Powell has repeated that it is up to Pakistan to decide the fate of the scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan. Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani President, who is a key ally in the US war on terrorism, granted Khan a pardon. -BBC
NIGERIA REACHES SETTLEMENT IN FUEL TAX DEBARCLE
ABUJA- The Nigerian government and unions have agreed to seek a negotiated settlement to a dispute over a new fuel tax.
The tax has pushed the country to the brink of a general strike. Government lawyers went to court to seek an injunction banning labour from calling for industrial action over the issue, but then agreed to a month-long adjournment and promised to restart talks with labour leaders. Judges at the Federal High Court ordered the unions to stand down their strike threat, pending a ruling in the case.
The court also told Olusegun Obasanjo's, the Nigerian President, not to collect the fuel levy. The court has scheduled the next hearing to next Month. -AFP
SASOL TALKS BUSINESS WITH MALAYSIAN OIL FIRM
JOHANNESBURG- Pieter Cox, the Sasol chief executive, says his group and Malaysian state oil firm Petronas are in talks over a possible tie-up in their refining and retail fuel businesses.
Sasol, which launched retail operations this year, says it is looking at the refining and marketing businesses. However, Cox has declined to give more details.
Petronas has an 80% stake in the country's biggest fuel retailer, Engen, with a 27% market share. Sasol, through its oil-from-coal operations, supplies about 40% of South Africa's liquid fuels. -SABC
CAF BANS SENEGAL PLAYER FOR VIOLENCE ON FIELD
TUNIS- The Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced that Senegal's El Hadji Diouf has been given a three-match ban after trying to attack a referee at the African Nations Cup finals.
The former African Player of the Year will miss the opening matches of Senegal's World Cup qualifying campaign, which starts in June. Diouf was found guilty of violent conduct after the tournament's organising committee reviewed a video of the tempestuous quarterfinal against Tunisia at Rades on Saturday. The Liverpool striker spent much of the match in a verbal battle with Ali Bujsaim, the United Arab Emirates referee, and at the end of the 1-0 defeat had to be restrained from attacking him.
Diouf will miss matches against Congo, Togo and Zambia in June and July. CAF also say that the three Senegalese officials who stormed onto the pitch have been banned from the bench for a year.
Meanwhile, CAF says it will take disciplinary action against Algeria on Friday. This follows crowd violence, which marred the African Nations Cup quarterfinals between Algeria and Morocco on Sunday. Alleged rioting by Algerian fans, before and after the game, left 69 people injured including 14 police officer. -BBC
KENYA TAKES BAT IN REFORMING CROSS-COUNTRY
NAIROBI- Kenyan athletics chiefs are pushing to reform the world cross-country championships, including reverting the event to a one-day format.
David Okeyo, the Athletics Kenya Secretary General, says that they have proposed that the world cross-country championships be held in one day, that four kilometre races be scrapped. Okeyo has submitted his association's proposals, which he believes will bridge the gap between the dominant countries and fringe nations in the sport.
Okeyo says that the format will allow the event to maintain its glamour. Other suggestions include the world half marathon championships becoming a biennial event. -Sapa-AFP
FORMER ENLGAND CAPTAIN AGAINST ZIM TOUR
LONDON- Alec Stewart, the Former England captain, has called on his country to shelve plans to tour Zimbabwe.
England has delayed a decision on whether to go ahead with the trip until after meeting with world cricket's governing body. However, the British government has strongly advised the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to call off the tour in protest at the policies of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe. The tour was planned for October this year despite England boycotting a World Cup match in Harare last year.
Stewart says that the tour should not go on unless things have improved. Stewart, who was part of the England squad that forced the issue with the ECB over the World Cup match at the last minute, praised the way the domestic game's ruling body has handled the situation. -AFP http://www.channelafrica.org/