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Africa News Briefs from Global Information Network

Lisa Vives Mar 26

SOMALI PRESIDENT SAYS ‘NO’ TO U.S. INTERVENTION

Mar. 23 – Somalia’s interim President, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, says he does not welcome direct military intervention from the U.S. to support his fragile government in overcoming the powerful insurgents.

“We are requesting the U.S. not engage in direct military in Somalia but provide us with support in rebuilding the forces and weapons,” said Sheikh Sharif, who added that he would not allow foreign country to directly intervene in his country.

Recently, both the U.S. and TFG have been strenuously denying reports that the current war against religious insurgents, particularly the Al-Shabaab group, would be Americanized.

In a recent press interview, Asst. Secretary Johnnie Carson for the Bureau of African Affairs, attacked The New York Times for asserting in an article that “the U.S. Government had military advisors assisting and aiding the TFG, or was helping to coordinate the strategic offensive that is apparently underway now, or may be underway now, in Mogadishu.” All of those assertions, he said “are incorrect.”

Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, President of the U.S.-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia, declared: “Our forces have prepared well and can do the job of flushing terrorists out the country, and that is why we are requesting no military interference.”

RENOWNED MUSLIM ANTI-APARTHEID ACTIVIST PASSES

Mar. 22 – “The most popular and recognizable Indian South African Muslim woman over the past five decades” and “a true Gandhian,” Fatima Meer passed this week at the age of 82.

She combined oppositional activism with a politics of bridge-building. In 1946, Meer joined other South African Indians in a passive resistance campaign against apartheid.

During the 1970s she was banned and later detained without trial for trying to organize a political rally with Black Consciousness Movement figure Steve Biko.

Founder of the Institute for Black Research at Natal University, she was a prolific writer.  Her books included the compelling Trial of Andrew Zondo, story of an executed ANC guerrilla, and Higher Than Hope, an uncritical biography of Nelson Mandela.

At a state funeral in Durban, close friend Winnie Madikizela-Mandela gave a tearful eulogy and urged that Meer’s house be made a national heritage site.

LOCALS IN KENYA FEAR IMPACT OF HUGE ETHIOPIAN DAM

Mar. 23 – A massive dam on the Omo River in Ethiopia could be the kiss of death for the Turkana people who depend on the river water either directly or indirectly for their survival.

The Gilgel Gibe III is the tallest dam of its type anywhere in the world with a wall over 787 feet high, able to hold back a reservoir 93 miles long.

Activists say it could destroy the livelihoods of five communities of some 500,000 people who live around Lake Turkana.

Over recent decades, the lake has been shrinking and becoming increasingly salty. It is already highly alkaline and only barely drinkable for either humans or animals.

Survival International, the Campaign for the Reform of the World Bank, Counter Balance coalition, Friends of Lake Turkana and International Rivers have launched a petition to stop the dam. To sign the petition, visit www.stopgibe3.org.

ACTOR BEN AFFLECK TO SPOTLIGHT EASTERN CONGO

Mar. 23 – Another Hollywood actor has launched a relief project in Africa to “raise the attention level and work with the extraordinary Congolese people who are making a positive difference in their communities.”

Actor and director Ben Affleck, spokesman for the new Eastern Congo Initiative, acknowledged that he wasn’t “an expert in international affairs or diplomacy.” But “it doesn’t take that to see the tremendous suffering here,” he said, during a visit to Goma, a refugee center populated by Hutu militia during the first Congo war and Tutsis during the second war.

Faida Mitifu, DR Congo’s Ambassador to the U.S. and a member of ECI’s advisory committee, said: “We applaud Ben and the founding members for their foresight and commitment and look forward to working closely with the Eastern Congo Initiative.“

Founding members of Affleck’s group – Howard G. Buffett, Humanity United, the Bridgeway Foundation and Jewish World Watch – say they will support community-based organizations that support survivors of rape and sexual violence, returning and reintegrating child soldiers into their communities, community-level peace and reconciliation programs, increasing access to health care and education, and promoting economic opportunity.

Africa News Briefs are published by the Global Information Network.

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