Congo Watch: August 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

Why is Africa poor? Africa is not poor, it is poorly managed

Quote of the Day
"Africa is not poor, it is poorly managed." - President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, 2009.

The following report also tells us that Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf says she underestimated the problem of graft.

From BBC News, Monday, 24 August 2009:
Why is the African continent poor?
By Mark Doyle, BBC world affairs correspondent
The desolate, dusty town of Pibor on South Sudan's border with Ethiopia has no running water, no electricity and little but mud huts for the population to live in.

You would be hard put to find a poorer place anywhere on earth.

I went there as part of a journey across Africa to ask the question "Why is Africa poor?" for a BBC radio documentary series.

I was asked to investigate why it is that every single African country - with the exceptions of oil-rich Gabon and Algeria - is classified by the United Nations as having a "low" broadly defined Human Development Index - in other words an appalling standard of living for most of the people.

In Pibor, the answer to why the place is poor seems fairly obvious.

The people - most of whom are from the Murle ethnic group - are crippled by tribal conflicts related to disputes over cattle, the traditional store of wealth in South Sudan.

The Murle have recently had fights with the Lol Nuer group to the north of Pibor and with ethnic Bor Dinkas to the west.

In a spate of fighting with the Lol Nuer earlier this year several hundred people, many of them women and children, were killed in deliberate attacks on villages.

There has been a rash of similar clashes across South Sudan in the past year (although most were on a smaller scale than the fights between the Lol Nuer and the Murle).

And so the answer to why South Sudan is poor is surely a no-brainer: War makes you destitute.

Why is there so much war?

And yet South Sudan is potentially rich.

"It's bigger than Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi combined," the South Sudan Regional Co-operation Minister Barnaba Benjamin, enthused.

"Tremendous land! Very fertile, enormous rainfall, tremendous agricultural resources. Minerals! We have oil and many other minerals - go name it!"

The paradox of rich resources and poor people hints at another layer of explanation about why Africa is poor.

It is not just that there is war. The question should, perhaps be: "Why is there so much war?"

And the headline question is in fact misleading; Africans as a people may be poor, but Africa as a place is fantastically rich - in minerals, land, labour and sunshine.

That is why outsiders have been coming here for hundreds of years - to invade, occupy, convert, plunder and trade.

But the resources of South Sudan, for example, have never been properly developed.

During colonial rule South Sudan was used as little more than a reservoir of labour and raw materials.

Then independence was followed by 50 years of on-off war between the south and north - with northerners in Khartoum continuing the British tactic of divide and rule among the southern groups.

Some southerners believe this is still happening today.

Corruption

On my journey across the poorest, sub-Saharan swathe of the continent - that took in Liberia and Nigeria in the west, Sudan in the centre, and Kenya in the east - people explored the impact that both non-Africans and Africans had had on why Africa is poor.

Almost every African I met, who was not actually in government, blamed corrupt African leaders for their plight.

"The gap between the rich and the poor in Africa is still growing," said a fisherman on the shores of Lake Victoria.

"Our leaders, they just want to keep on being rich. And they don't want to pay taxes."

Even President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia came close to this when she told me she had underestimated the level of corruption in her country when she took office.

"Maybe I should have sacked the whole government when I came to power," she said.

"Africa is not poor," President Johnson-Sirleaf added, "it is poorly managed."

This theme was echoed by an architect in Kenya and a senior government official in Nigeria.

Both pointed out that the informal sector of most African economies is huge and almost completely unharnessed.

Marketplaces, and a million little lean-to repair shops and small-scale factories are what most urban Africans rely upon for a living.

But such is their distrust of government officials that most businesspeople in the informal sector avoid all contact with the authorities.

Kenyan architect and town planner Mumo Museva took me to the bustling Eastleigh area of Nairobi, where traders have created a booming economy despite the place being almost completely abandoned by the government.

Eastleigh is a filthy part of the city where rubbish lies uncollected, the potholes in the roads are the size of swimming pools, and the drains have collapsed.

But one indication of the success of the traders, Mr Museva said, was the high per-square-foot rents there.

"You'll be surprised to note that Eastleigh is the most expensive real estate in Nairobi."

He added that if Eastleigh traders trusted the government they might pay some taxes in return for decent services, so creating a "virtuous circle".

"It would lift people out of poverty," he said.

"Remember, poverty is related to quality of life, and the quality of life here is appalling, despite the huge amount of wealth flowing through these areas."

Then the young Kenyan architect echoed the Liberian president, some 5,000km (3,000 miles) away on the other side of the continent.

"Africa is not poor," he also said.

"Africa is just poorly managed."
See blog: Why is Africa poor? Have Your Say

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Deadly attack Aug 12th by armed militiamen in a mine-rich area of east of DR Congo

From UN News Centre, Saturday, 15 August 2009:
UN blue helmets provide help in wake of deadly attack in east of DR Congo
The United Nations peacekeeping operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is providing medical assistance to the victims of a deadly attack by armed militiamen in a mine-rich area in the strife-torn east of the country.

Media reports say at least 16 people were killed during Wednesday's attack, which took place in the remote village of Mpama in North Kivu province, close to the mines at Biseye. Mining is a lucrative source of income in the impoverished region, which continues to be beset by outbreaks of fighting involving militia groups and the army.

Troops from the Congolese army (FARDC) stationed nearby were dispatched to find the militiamen, but they had already fled, according to a press statement issued today by the UN peacekeeping mission, known as MONUC.

Alan Doss, the head of MONUC and the Secretary-General's Special Representative to the DRC, denounced the attack.

“Nothing can justify these crimes committed by the armed groups that strike at civilians,” Mr. Doss said.

MONUC established a medical assistance team in the nearby town of Ishenga to treat the injured, with some others evacuated to other centres. The blue helmets have also stepped up their patrols in the Walikale-Biseye area.
(Hat tip: ISRIA)- - -

MONUC in DR Congo

From MONUC Kinshasa, Friday, 14 August 2009:
MONUC Blue Helmets keeping the peace in Orientale province
MONUC’s Blue Helmets, stationed in Orientale province in northeastern DRC continue to work hard in the troubled districts of Haut Uele and Ituri, to keep the peace, protect the population and assist the DRC Armed Forces against the activities of the LRA rebels in Haut Uele and residual armed groups in Ituri.

In Haut Uele, the MONUC Moroccan contingent, comprising of 290 Blue Helmets, are working in the areas of Dungu, Duru and Faradje to protect the civilian population. These peacekeepers live in tents in the middle of the jungle with no infrastructure, in what MONUC Military Spokesman Jean Paul Dietrich described as “the most difficult living conditions in the mission.”

Other tasks include patrols and the escorting of humanitarian food convoys, up to a 50km radius outside of Dungu.

Through Operation Rudia II, MONUC is providing assistance to a large part of the DRC Armed Forces (FARDC) based in Dungu territory, with rations, transport and medical evacuations.

A MONUC Indonesian engineering company is currently working on the Dungu-Duru road, and once completed it will greatly improve the transport network in the area.

It will also allow humanitarian convoys greater access to the interior, where an estimated 181,000 people are displaced and in need of assistance due to the activities of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels.

In the past week, the LRA have launched new sporadic attacks in areas close to the Central African Republic border, in an apparent attempt to escape the military pressure being exerted on them.

In Ituri, over 3,500 Blue Helmets are working to pacify the district, which has experienced residual militia activity by groups such as the “Front de Résistance Patriotique en Ituri” (FRPI) and the “Front Populaire pour la Justice au Congo” (FPJC). According to OCHA, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, an estimated 176,000 people are still displaced in the district.

The joint operation “Iron Stone” is currently in progress, with MONUC forces assisting the FARDC in the planning of military operations. MONUC is also assisting the FARDC with rations, transport, fire support and medical evacuations.

In the past week, the FARDC have attacked militia position in the Poto Poto valley, and are still engaged in the consolidation of operations in the south of Irumu territory. In recent joint operations against the FRPI and the FPJC, 11 militiamen were killed and many others fled.

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DR Congo: Several radio stations threatened with closure for retransmitting Radio France Internationale (RFI)

KINSHASA, Dem. Rep. of Congo (DRC) August 17, 2009/African Press Organization (APO):
DRCongo / Several radio stations threatened with closure for retransmitting RFI

RSF

Reporters Without Borders is worried by the National Intelligence Agency’s warning to the managers of three local radio stations in the eastern province of Nord-Kivu that their stations will be closed down unless they stop retransmitting the programmes of French public broadcaster Radio France Internationale (RFI).

“This threat is unacceptable,” Reporters Without Borders said. “It confirms that the government is determined to hound both RFI and local media and suggests a move towards authoritarianism. The population has already been denied access to independent news and information since RFI’s local broadcasts were suspended on 26 July. Media freedom in its entirety is in danger if local radio stations are now being threatened with closure.”

The press freedom organisation added: “The National Intelligence Agency does not have the power to suspend a news media. Only a court can do that. We urge the central government in Kinshasa to put a stop to this kind of intimidation. We also reiterate our desire for RFI to be allowed to resume local broadcasting without delay.”

Kennedy Wema of Radio Télé Graben, Rochereau Kambakamba of Radio Liberté and John Tchipenda of Radio Scolaire went to the National Intelligence Agency’s local office on 12 August in response to a summons received the previous day and were told during the ensuing interview that they could be closed down if they did not stop retransmitting RFI.

In fact, according to the information available to Reporters Without Borders, the only station currently retransmitting RFI is Radio Télé Graben. Wema, its manager, told Reporters Without Borders that the station would definitely continue to broadcast RFI until it received official notification in writing.

A total of 27 local radio stations are RFI’s partners in Democratic Republic of Congo. Its local signal was suspended after it broadcast information provided by the UN Mission in Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) explaining why certain former rebel units decided to desert from the Congolese army, into which they had recently been incorporated.

SOURCE: Reporters without Borders (RSF): Several radio stations threatened with closure for retransmitting RFI
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From Reporters without Borders (RSF):
Minister carries out threat to shut down French station’s broadcasts throughout country
July 28, 2009
Reporters Without Borders and Journalist in Danger (JED), its partner organisation in Democratic Republic of Congo, strongly condemn the government’s shutdown of local FM retransmission of the French public radio station Radio France Internationale (RFI) throughout the country since 26 July. The two organisations urge the authorities to rescind the ban.

“This measure confirms that certain government officials have it in for RFI and makes us fear more authoritarian excesses,” Journalist in Danger president Donat M’Baya Tshimanga said. “The government has taken a very disturbing decision,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard added. “By shutting down RFI, it has deprived half of the Congolese population of the access it needs to independent news.”

Reporters Without Borders and Journalist in Danger point out that, instead of silencing RFI, the Congolese authorities could use their right of reply whenever they see fit.

JED has confirmed from various sources that RFI’s broadcasts on the FM waveband have been cut since 26 July in Kinshasa (the country’s capital), Lubumbashi (the capital of the southern province of Katanga) Kisangani (the capital of the northeastern province of Orientale) and Matadi (the capital of the western province of Bas-Congo).

Communications minister Lambert Mendé Omalanga confirmed to Reporters Without Borders by telephone yesterday that all local retransmission of RFI has been suspended. “I am not in a position to make a public statement today," he said, “We will hold a news conference tomorrow in Kinshasa to explain why we had to take this grave decision.” He invited JED to attend the news conference at 1 p.m. today in Kinshasa’s Grand Hotel.

RFI said the government’s reason for the shutdown was the broadcasting of information explaining why certain former rebel units had decided to desert from the Congolese army, into which they had recently been incorporated. RFI pointed out that the information had been provided by the United Nations Mission in Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) at a news conference on 22 July.

RFI’s signal in Bukavu (the capital of the eastern province of Sud-Kivu) has been cut since 10 June, when the communications minister had threatened to extend the measure to the rest of the country. “We accuse RFI of trying to incite soldiers to disobey their superiors and to revolt, and of stirring up problems in the barracks while the country is at war,” he said at the time.

Reporters Without Borders has received complaints from residents in Kivu since the shutdown there. Eric Muvomo, the head of a human rights group based in Luvungi, near Bukavu, said: “the population of the Ruzizi-Sud-Kivu plain is not happy with this draconian measure by the minister Lambert Mendé,” he said. “The public needs to be informed about the army’s situation in the province and about military operations.”

A local radio station manager told Reporters Without Borders: “What will they do with the small local stations? The RFI shutdown sends a strong signal. It means the authorities are prepared to do anything, even to close all the other media.”

A human rights activist said: “We are definitely missing RFI a great deal in Bukavu. We find it hard to accept the shutdown, which was decided suddenly without any consultation with the population.”

In the same country

Several radio stations threatened with closure for retransmitting RFI


RFI signal in Bukavu cut one week ago


Government suspends French public radio broadcasts in northeast


IFJ condemns suspension of RFI programmes in Democratic Republic ...

ReliefWeb (press release) - ‎Jul 29, 2009‎
For RFI, it was "about a normal restitution of information made available to the public by an international institution, MONUC, on a press conference on ...


For RFI, static in Kinshasa

CPJ Press Freedom Online - ‎Aug 3, 2009‎
... a joint project of the Hirondelle Foundation and the United Nations Mission in DRC (MONUC), and foreign stations like RFI for independent coverage. ...

DRCongo cuts Radio France signal

ReliefWeb (press release) - ‎Jul 28, 2009‎
RFI said in a statement that the Congolese authorities blamed the station for carrying excerpts of the UN Mission in DR Congo (MONUC) news conferences. ...

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Hillary Clinton visits the Heal Africa clinic in Goma, DR Congo

The secretary of State made an impression with a heartfelt visit to eastern Congo, which is rocked by violence, particularly rape. Some have hope that U.S. efforts can end the conflict.

Clinton visits heal Africa clinic in Goma, DR Congo

Photo: Clinton meets with patients and staff of the Heal Africa clinic in Goma, Congo. She also toured a refugee camp on the outskirts of Goma and met with victims of rape, which has become a weapon of war there. (Roberto Schmidt/Associated Press /August 11, 2009)

From Los Angeles Times
Hillary Clinton's stop in Congo strikes a chord in Africa
By Robyn Dixon reporting from Johannesburg, South Africa
Monday August 17, 2009
For most of her recent African tour, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sounded much like any visiting foreign official, male or female. Except in Congo.

When Clinton ignored security advice and flew to Goma, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, her focus on the region's rape crisis resonated with some of the continent's most powerless people: women.

It wasn't just that she was the first top-level American official to go to the epicenter of one of the world's deadliest wars, nor even the U.S. aid money she promised. It was her reaction to victims' stories of rape -- and the hope that she might do something about it.

The conflict in eastern Congo is a toxic mix of jostling militias, ethnic tensions, greed for resource wealth, a tragic colonial history, a predatory army and opportunistic neighbors. Rape is commonly used as a weapon in this war. Although reliable statistics are difficult to come by, it's estimated that close to 200,000 women have been raped since the conflict began 13 years ago.

In a recent surge in violence, an estimated 3,500 women and girls have been raped since the beginning of the year. Men and boys also are increasingly victims of sexual assault.

In America, Clinton might have been portrayed as a bit of a shrew in her sharp reaction to a Congolese student's question about her husband's thoughts on an issue -- a momentary loss of her usual steely control that got so much media coverage that it became the single moment some people remember about her trip.

But women's rights activists in eastern Congo weren't talking about that. They were talking about the tears they saw glistening in her eyes Tuesday as she talked to rape victims and heard their horrendous stories of suffering, including a woman who was raped while pregnant and who lost her baby.

Clinton was so warm and compassionate, activists said, they felt they could almost call her Hillary.

Christine Schuler Deschryver, a prominent Congolese activist with the organization VDAY, which fights gender violence in Congo, is cynical after many futile visits from envoys of various countries and organizations.

But Clinton's visit gave her a renewed sense of hope, said Deschryver, who was one of the activists who met with the secretary of State.

"For the first time in a decade, I have hope again," she said, speaking by telephone from the city of Bukavu. "The message I gave her first of all, as a woman, not as secretary of State, is that a woman can feel the pain all these women feel.

"I had another image of Mrs. Clinton" before meeting her, Deschryver said, "and I have really discovered a woman with a big heart. I saw in her eyes many times tears. I know she was deeply moved."

Clinton's focus on the violent tussle for mineral wealth in the region, not just the victims it creates, was seen by activists as a key part of the message.

John Prendergast, founder of the anti-genocide awareness group Enough Project, said resolving the conflict required a concerted long-term approach.

He said one key was to make more transparent the trade in minerals from the region, including gold, tin, tungsten and tantalum. That way consumers could be sure that their purchases of cellphones, laptops and other electronics in which these metals are often used were not helping fund the war.

The conflict "has devolved into a scramble for one of the richest non-petroleum resources bases in the world. There's just way too much money to be made," said Prendergast, who was an Africa analyst in President Bill Clinton's administration.

He said if America's top diplomat decided to make stopping the war in Congo a priority, a lot could be achieved.

"When an issue becomes specific and personal to a Cabinet member, it has a better chance of getting the kind of personal attention needed to push through the initiatives that can make a difference," Prendergast said. "I think she's now personally invested in having some kind of solution in Congo.

"She's stated her desire is to have an end to the conflict," he said. "She separated herself from the usual high-level visitors [to Congo] by saying we are doing to deal with it."

To activists such as Deschryver, Clinton's visit also inspired hope that female Congolese leaders could play a role in ending the conflict.

Although her initial euphoria over the Clinton visit has faded a little, she remains optimistic that Clinton can make the difference if she continues to push the issue.

"If the U.S. has the will and if they give a very strong warning and say first of all we want to stop the violence, it can have a big impact," Deschryver said.

"I hope that was her aim in coming here. Otherwise in 100 years, we will still be here, beggars depending on other countries."

An African foreign policy analyst said Clinton hit the right diplomatic notes.

"A little over halfway through the year, both the president, followed up by Secretary of State Clinton, have been to Africa, which is quite a departure from the attention that Africa usually gets," said Francis Kornegay, analyst with the Institute for Global Dialogue, an independent South African think tank. "I think overall her seven-nation safari has been quite successful."

robyn.dixon@latimes.com

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Prendergast's ENOUGH Project: Poker players Ante Up for Africa charity - Sudan, Uganda, Congo, Chad, and Somalia



Posted to YouTube by ENOUGH - Ante Up for Africa, June 25, 2008:
ENOUGH is the project to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Focusing on the crises in Sudan, Uganda, Congo, Chad, and Somalia, ENOUGH uses a 3Ps crisis response strategy: promoting peace, protecting civilians, and punishing the perpetrators.

This year ENOUGH again joined the benefit poker tournament Ante Up for Africa, hosted by Don Cheadle and Annie Duke.
To learn what you can do to join the fight against genocide, go to ENOUGH.

© Center for American Progress
Category: Nonprofits & Activism
Tags: Cheadle Prendergast genocide Sudan Khartoum Uganda Somalia ICC advocacy Gayle Smith Africa war ENOUGH Ante Up Poker charity benefit Hollywood
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From usaplayers.com Thursday, 13 August 2009 by Bruce:
Full Tilt Poker's "Ante up for Africa" Charity Tournament
As part of Full Tilt Poker's FTOPS XIII online poker series, they are holding a special charity poker tournament known as "Ante up for Africa". The tournament will be held at 3 p.m. on August 15th [2009], and it will raise money for the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. The tournament will be hosted by actor and avid poker player Don Cheadle. The buy in for the tournament will be $100+20. The twenty dollar tournament fee will be donated to the charity. This charity tournament will be part of the FTOPS VIII online poker championships, which will feature more than $16 million in prize money over various tournaments. The last of the tournaments is known as the main event, and it will be held on August 16th with a massive guaranteed prize pool of $2.5 million.

Back in 2007, Cheadle co founded an Ante up for Africa Poker Tournament with Norman Epstein and Annie Duke. At the recent 2009 World Series of Poker, the third annual Ante up for Africa charity tournament was held. The tournament attracted some of the top celebrities from both poker and entertainment. Some of the stars in attendance were actors Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, and they were joined by poker pros Erick Seidel and Jennifer Harmon. The tournament had a $5,000 entry fee, and the players were asked to donate 50% of their winnings to the charity. When the tournament was complete, over $600,000 was raised. Since the Ante up for Africa charity was formed a few years back, over $2 million dollars has been raised. The funds have been distributed to organizations such as "Not on Our Watch", "Enough Project", and "International Rescue Committee". The upcoming online charity tournament will help raise even more money for such a good cause.

The FTOPS XIII charity tournament will take place on a Saturday afternoon giving most players the opportunity to play and help raise money for a good cause. Even though the tournament is designed to raise money for the Ante up for Africa charity, there is plenty of money to be won as well. The tournament will have a $100,000 guaranteed prize pool, with the winner guaranteed to walk away with at least $22,500. Players can take that their shot at winning some serious cash, while raising money for a great organization. Along with the chance to play with many well known poker professionals, players who play in the tournament will also get to play alongside celebrities such as Matt Damon. This will be another opportunity for poker players to help raise money for the ongoing crisis in Darfur.

To discuss this and other Poker articles like it drop by our brand new forum at: www.usaplayers.com
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From PokerNews.com Wednesday, 12 August 2009 by Elaine Chaivarlis:
2009 WSOP Ante Up for Africa Recap
ESPN’s third week of 2009 WSOP coverage aired last night with the Ante Up for Africa event. Dozens of celebrities and poker pros showed up for this event. This was the first time that Ante Up for Africa was aired on television.

The event had a $5,000 buy-in and attracted 137 players. The total prize pool generated for the event was $665,820. It was suggested that players donate 50% of their winnings to the charity.

Don Cheadle, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Sarah Silverman, Montel Williams, Nelly, Cedric the Entertainer, Herschel Walker, and Charles Barkley were among the notable celebrities at the event. Several poker pros played the event as well, including Annie Duke, Jennifer Harman, Howard Lederer, Mike Matusow, Peter Eastgate, and Dennis Phillips.

Let’s face it, there weren’t a lot of stellar players, or plays in this event, as the event was created more as a fun way to raise money and awareness for the Darfur region.

Charles Barkley and Herschel Walker were two celebrities that might be able to benefit a little from the PokerNews strategy section. They both made this event entertaining to watch with their interesting plays. In one hand, where he rivered trip queens, Walker doesn't even know what the minimum bet is, but was happy with the face time he got from his hollywooding. Charles Barkley got it all in post flop when he flopped a flush draw with his . He never got there and was eliminated.

Mike McDermott (or Matt Damon, whatever you like to call him) ended up at the feature table sitting next to Erik Seidel. This is significant, only in that because of the movie Rounders, Erik Seidel's second place finish to Johnny Chan in the 1988 WSOP has been seen millions of times. So maybe Seidel had it out for Damon a little. Damon, like every other celebrity in this event, didn't make it to the final table. Wonder what happened to all those tells he used to pick up on.

The final table was, not surprisingly, packed with poker pros. Jennifer Harman, Matt Kay, John Hennigan, Phil Gordon, Chris Ferguson, Erik Seidel, Rafe Furst, Adam Richardson, and Alex Bolotin all made the final table of the Ante Up for Africa event. Five of the players at the table, Harman, Hennigan, Ferguson, Seidel, and Furst hold a combined 18 WSOP bracelets.

With the super fast structure, the final table saw its players drop rather quickly with Adam Richardson all but out the door at one point when he was all in and went runner runner clubs to stay alive. Richardson ended up going heads up against the eventual winner, Alex Bolotin, who won $176,449 for his first place finish.

There have been numerous opinions about whether or not there should have been more events from the 2009 WSOP aired on television. We're sure the minds over at ESPN had a reason for the lack of other coverage. We're not sure, however, if this will be the trend next year. What we can say is, in regards to this event, people watch what their favorite celebrities are doing, and if their favorite celebrity is playing poker, then they’re watching them play poker, bringing a more mainstream audience to the game, and that much we like. No matter what the broadcast schedule is next year, we definitely hope this event will be in the mix.

Be sure to tune into ESPN every Tuesday night for continuing coverage of the WSOP, and don't forget to follow us on Twitter.
Good luck to all.

ENOUGH

ENOUGH was conceived in 2006 by a small group of concerned policymakers and activists who wanted to transform their frustration about inaction into pragmatic solutions and hope. Co-founded by Africa experts Gayle Smith and John Prendergast, ENOUGH launched in early 2007 as a project of the Center for American Progress. John Norris is Enough’s Executive Director. Read more about ENOUGH at http://www.enoughproject.org/about.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

C.A.R.: ICC granted the request of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo for interim release

International Criminal Court (ICC)
Pre-Trial Chamber II renders a decision on conditional release of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo

THE HAGUE, Netherland, August 14, 2009/APO
ICC-CPI-20090814-PR443
Situation: Central African Republic
Case: The Prosecutor v. Jean Pierre Bemba Gombo
Today, 14 August 2009, Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court decided to grant the request of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo for interim release, albeit under conditions. The implementation of this decision is deferred pending a determination in which State Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo will be released and which set of conditions shall be imposed.

In conformity with article 60(3) of the Rome Statute and rule 118(3) of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, Pre-Trial Chamber II reviewed anew its previous ruling on the continued detention of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo dated 14 April 2009. Prior to today’s decision, Pre-Trial Chamber II held a hearing on 29 June 2009 with respect to any issue related to the pre-trial detention of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo.

Pre-Trial Chamber II found that changed circumstances since 14 April 2009 warranted the modification of its previous ruling on detention, as the requirements for continued detention pursuant to article 58(1)(a) and (b) of the Rome Statute were no longer met. In assessing all relevant factors of the case taken together and having balanced those factors, Pre-Trial Chamber II held that the continued detention of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo did not appear necessary (i) to ensure the appearance of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo at trial, (ii) to ensure that he does not obstruct or endanger the investigation or the court proceedings and (iii) to prevent Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo from continuing with the commission of the same or related crimes which arise out of the same circumstances in the present case.

Pre-Trial Chamber II invited those States, to which Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo requested to be released, to provide informative observations on the questions of his interim release onto their territory and any possible set of conditions restricting liberty to be imposed. The hearings are envisaged to take place between 7 and 14 September 2009.

14.08.2009 – Decision on the Interim Release of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo and Convening Hearings with the Kingdom of Belgium, the Republic of Portugal, the Republic of France, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Italian Republic, and the Republic of South Africa

For further information please contact Ms Jelena Vukašinović, Associate Legal Outreach Officer at +31 (0)70 515-8094 or (0)6 50 29 57 38 or at jelena.vukasinovic@icc-cpi.int

SOURCE: International Criminal Court (ICC)
Translation into French:

Aujourd’hui 14 août 2009, la Chambre préliminaire II de la Cour pénale internationale a décidé de faire droit, sous condition, à la demande de mise en liberté provisoire de Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo.

L’exécution de cette décision est reportée dans l’attente de la détermination de l’Etat sur le territoire duquel Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo sera libéré et de la détermination des conditions qui lui seront imposées.

Conformément à l’article 60 (3) du Statut de Rome et à la règle 118 (3) du Règlement de procédure et de preuve, la Chambre préliminaire II a réexaminé sa décision précédente relative au maintien en détention de Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo du 14 avril 2009. Préalablement à la décision de ce jour, la Chambre préliminaire II avait tenu une audience le 29 juin 2009 sur toutes les questions relatives au maintien en détention de Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo avant son procès.

La Chambre préliminaire II a conclu que l’évolution des circonstances depuis le 14 avril 2009 justifiait la modification de sa décision précédente sur la détention, dans la mesure où les conditions pour un maintien en détention telles que prévues par l’article 58 (1) (a) et (b) du Statut de Rome n’étaient plus réunies. En effet, après avoir évalué tous les éléments pertinents de l’affaire dans leur globalité et après les avoir mis en perspective, la Chambre préliminaire II a conclu que le maintien en détention de Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo ne paraissait plus nécessaire pour garantir (i) la comparution de ce dernier, (ii) qu’il ne fera pas obstacle à l’enquête ou à la procédure devant la Cour, ni n’en compromettra le déroulement et (iii) qu’il ne poursuivra pas l’exécution du même crime ou d’un crime connexe relevant de la compétence de la Cour et se produisant dans les mêmes circonstances que dans la présente affaire.

La Chambre préliminaire II a invité tous les Etats sur le territoire desquels Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo a souhaité être libéré, à présenter leurs observations détaillées sur les questions relatives à sa mise en liberté provisoire ainsi que sur les conditions restrictives de liberté qui pourraient être imposées. Les audiences devraient avoir lieu entre le 7 et le 14 septembre 2009.

14.08.2009 – Decision on the Interim Release of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo and Convening Hearings with the Kingdom of Belgium, the Republic of Portugal, the Republic of France, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Italian Republic, and the Republic of South Africa

Pour de plus amples informations, veuillez vous mettre en rapport avec Mme Jelena Vukasinovic, juriste ajoint de 1re classe (tél. : +31 (0)70 515 8094 ou +31 (0)6 50 29 57 38 ; jelena.vukasinovic@icc-cpi.int)

SOURCE: International Criminal Court (ICC)

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DR Congo: Goma, a major Ushahidi update!

Goma, a major Ushahidi update!

Originally published by Ushahidi 13 Aug 2009 .  Received via email 14 Aug 2009.  I have copied and pasted the email and hope that it appears OK to readers of this page.  Here is a copy of the email.

An Ushahidi tradition is to name all of our major releases after African cities that have had disturbances. Today we’re announcing the “Goma” release of the platfrom, version 0.9 – named after that oft-beleaguered town in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

We had three main areas that we focused on for this Goma; stability, speed and mobile apps. To introduce the release, here’s David Kobia:

Stability, Speed and Mobile Apps: Ushahidi's Goma Release from WhiteAfrican on Vimeo.

What’s in Goma?

It’s not possible to track all of the minor upgrades, changes and additions to the platform here, but here are some of the items that are important for everyone to know about.

  • Caching – map and database queries have been slowing load times down considerably. All pages with maps now have caching built-in.
  • Alerts – email and SMS proximity-based alerts are now fully functional.
  • You can now watch incidents play chronologically on the main map using the “Play” button.
  • Refined the submissions page, simplifying the location chooser, date/time and other minor features.
  • On the detailed incident report page the map shows other incidents by proximity.
  • Admins can import KML or GeoRSS feeds, and these can show up on the map as overlays on top of the normal Ushahidi data. (delayed for a couple days, working out some kinks…)
  • Admins can now download a CSV file of all their data.
  • Admins can now do a “mass upload” of data into the database.
  • We’re trying to make it easier to get a fresh install of Ushahidi up on your own server. To this end, we’ve moved the config.php items into the admin area for easier modification by non-techies.
  • Improved feedback form, residing in every instances footer, that makes it easy for end users to send feedback to the admin. This shows up in their admin panel.
  • Sharing of data between instances of Ushahidi is fully functional now.
  • Added a “Comments” tab into the admin area for moderation.
  • Added a new feature to track veracity and trust of users by the admin

Find a bug? Submit it to bugs.ushahidi.com
Have a question? Ask it on the forums
Want to pitch in? Start on the wiki or download the code

Mobile phone applications

A small team of dedicated devs put a lot of time into creating the new Ushahidi mobile apps that are available for you to run on your phone. The basic functionality of all the mobile apps are to sync with an instance of Ushahidi. It allows you to send reports with images and location information as well as receive alerts from others who have sent in reports to the site. With this, you can track what is going on in an emergency, disaster or crisis anywhere in the world.

The mobile apps work in offline mode as well, so you can create reports and send them when you reconnect, or you can download and see the incidents that have been reported and still view them when you’re not connected.

Ushahidi mobile phone applications - Android, Windows Mobile and J2ME JavaAndroid – Henry Addo, our Ghanaian dev, has been part of the team since January, but he started fiddling around with Android well before that.

Windows Mobile - Dale Zak is an amazing Canadian mobile phone dev. He does a lot of cool stuff out there, and we were extremely happy when he volunteered to create the WinMo version of Ushahidi.

J2ME (Java) – Steve Mutinda is an outstanding Kenyan mobile app developer, he and his firm Shimba Mobile dedicated a lot of resources to see this app come into being. The J2ME app will work on any phone that runs Java, so it should work on the widest number of phones available.

This is their beta release, so there will be some bugs, submit them to bugs.ushahidi.com and they’ll be on them right away.

Major contributors

Projects like Ushahidi wouldn’t be where they are without the help of programmers who volunteer their time, brains and energy to solving some very difficult challenges. A BIG thanks goes out to all the devs who made this happen. Major contributors included:

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Rwanda: Top genocide suspect Gregoire Ndahimana captured in the eastern province of North Kivu, DR Congo

By The Nation (Kenya) 13 August 2009 -
Rwanda: Top genocide suspect captured
Nairobi (Kenya) — A top Rwanda genocide suspect accused of planning the massacre of at least 2,000 Rwandan Tutsis during the 1994 genocide, was captured and arrested late Tuesday evening in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

According to Congolese officials, Gregoire Ndahimana, wanted for crimes of genocide and complicity in genocide, was arrested in the village of Gashuga at 10 pm by the country's armed forces. He was arrested after 15 years of hiding.

Ndahimana had been fighting with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) in eastern Congo, a rebel group made up of those responsible for the genocide, which is currently fighting the army and the United Nations in the country's troubled east.

However, Congolese officials said the fugitive had not been arrested in fighting, but rather during a civilian operation in which Ndahimana was caught by surprise.

"He was captured while he was coming to look for some food within the local population," Olivier Hamuli, a spokesperson for the national army, said via telephone.

"For now he is in the Intelligence Office in North Kivu, and we are still waiting for the political parts to come together."

Both Rwanda and Congo called it one of the largest achievements of the military operations against the Hutu rebels to date.

"We are happy for their service," said Eugene Munyakayanza, a chief diplomat in Rwanda's foreign ministry.

"He's one of the big ones," said Rwanda's justice minister Tharcisse Karugarama, adding that the arrest was the first of its kind in recent time. "But others are still out there."

Ndahimana is wanted by the United Nations specialised genocide courts in Arusha, Tanzania as a Category 1 suspect, a rank reserved for the chief planners and executers of the genocide that killed nearly 1 million ethnic Tutsi.

According to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Mr Ndahimana helped slaughter thousands holed up inside a church in the town of Kivumu. He allegedly bought, and then distributed gasoline that was used to burn down the church with the victims inside.

He was also responsible for organising a night-time circuit of dumping thousands bodies into mass graves.

Ndahimana fled Rwanda to Congo in 1994 as current president Paul Kagame's then-rebel force restored order to Rwanda and brought the genocide to an end. Ndahimana was one of the millions of Hutus who fled into eastern Congo, setting up the rebel group FDLR, whose mission has been to invade Rwanda and topple the current regime.

In May of 2008, the United States government put a bounty of $5 million on Ndahimana's head, along with any information on his, or other genocide suspects', whereabouts.

His arrest Tuesday night comes just after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the region, and as violence there has grown from bad to worse.

For over a decade, Rwanda and Congo have been at odds due to the peaceful existence of the FDLR members across the borders.

Rwanda has accused the Congo of supporting the group, and in turn the Congo had accused Rwanda of backing a myriad of militia that have rained destruction and pillage in return.

Both sides agreed in January to work together to solve the problem of the FDLR, but since then, the new operations have brought attention mostly for the carnage and horror it has brought to the Congo's civilian population.

Secretary Clinton's visit to the region highlighted some of the worst: thousands raped - women, men, children, then elderly - by both the rebels and the Congo's own army. Watchdog groups say 800,000 have been displaced in the east sine January, and nearly 1,000 killed as well.

Arrests like that of Ndahimana have been few and far between. The ICTR and Rwanda both claim that most of the remaining Category 1 suspects are hiding in the Congo.

One of the most sought-after suspects is Felicien Kabuga, a businessman accused of financing the genocide, thought to be hiding in Kenya.

The ICTR threatened in March to take the Kenyan government before the UN Security Council over its failure to help track down the fugitive. Kenya froze the kingpin's assets later in the year but the decision is now under appeal.

Source: http://www.nationmedia.com/dailynation/
Hat tip: www.afrika.no
- - -

Some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in 1994

From BBC News at 17:03 GMT, Wednesday, 12 August 2009 18:03 UK:
Genocide suspect found in Congo
A man accused of planning the massacre of Rwandans during the 1994 genocide has been arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo, officials say.

A government statement named the suspect as Gregoire Ndahimana, who is wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

He was detained by Congolese soldiers in the eastern province of North Kivu.

They were taking part in UN-backed operations against ethnic Hutu rebels, many of whom fled to DR Congo in 1994.

Some 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered in 100-day genocide.

Bulldozed church

"He was discovered by our units operating in North Kivu... He was hiding among the FDLR [Hutu rebels]," Congolese Information Minister Lambert Mende was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

According to his ICTR indictment, Mr Ndahimana is responsible for the deaths of at least 2,000 Tutsis, most of whom were killed when a church in which they had sought refuge was bulldozed.

The ICTR, which is based in Arusha, Tanzania, has completed 45 cases.

It was initially due to complete its prosecutions by the end of 2008, but the UN Security Council has given the court until the end of 2010 to finish the trials.

Suspect in Rwandan Genocide Is Captured After 15 Years in Hiding

New York Times - Josh Kron - ‎9 hours ago‎
The fugitive, Grégoire Ndahimana, who is wanted for genocide and complicity in genocide, was arrested in North Kivu Province late Tuesday evening by ...

Today's other stories in brief

Irish Times - ‎10 hours ago‎
Grégoire Ndahimana was arrested by Congolese soldiers on Sunday during UN-backed operations to stamp out Hutu rebel group the Democratic Forces for the ...

WORLD briefs

la estrella - ‎4 hours ago‎
Gregoire Ndahimana, the former mayor of the town of Kivumu is alleged to have played a role in the massacre of more than 1000 Tutsis who took refuge in the ...

World briefs

Dispatch Online - ‎10 hours ago‎
Gregoire Ndahimana was arrested Tuesday in a village in North Kivu province, said Rwandan government spokesperson Lambert Mende. Ndahimana faces charges ...

Kashuga : recherché pour génocide Grégoire Ndahimana arrêté par ...

Radio Okapi - ‎15 hours ago‎
Grégoire Ndahimana, un ancien maire rwandais recherché pour son rôle présumé dans le génocide perpétré contre les Tutsis en 1994, a été arrêté mardi à ...

Ruanda soykırımında rolü olduğu gerekçesiyle aranan başkan yakalandı

Zaman - ‎Aug 12, 2009‎
Mahkeme kaynakları, Ruanda'nın batı kesiminde yer alan Kivumu'nun eski belediye başkanı Gregoire Ndahimana'nın, dün Kongo Demokratik Cumhuriyeti'nin ...

13.08.09 Belangrijke Rwandese genocidair opgepakt in Congo ...

CongoForum - ‎3 hours ago‎
KIGALI - De Rwandees Gregoire Ndahimana werd dinsdag gearresteerd in het oosten van Congo. De vroegere majoor uit het Rwandese leger en burgemeester van ...

Detido presumível genocidio rwandês procurado pelo TPIR

AngolaPress - ‎22 hours ago‎
O antigo presidente da câmara municipal de Kivumu (oeste do Rwanda) "Grégoire Ndahimana foi detido terça-feira no leste da RDC. ...

Congo prende responsável por massacre de 1994 em Ruanda

Estadão - ‎19 hours ago‎
Gregoire Ndahimana foi preso por soldados congoleses no domingo durante uma operação das tropas da ONU para retirar o grupo rebelde Forças Democráticas para ...

De Minister van Buitenlandse Zaken Yves Leterme verheugt zich over ...

Nieuwsbank (persbericht) (abonnement) - ‎1 hour ago‎
De Minister van Buitenlandse Zaken Yves Leterme verheugt zich over de aanhouding van de vermoedelijke genocidenpleger Grégoire Ndahimana, die gezocht werd ...

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