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Africa News Briefs from Global Information Network

Lisa Vives Apr 30

BASHIR SLATE CARRIES SUDAN, ANGERING THE WEST

Apr. 26 (GIN) – A decisive electoral victory by Omar Hassan al-Bashir has returned the controversial Sudanese leader to a new 5-year term as president of this important oil-rich country in east Africa.

Al-Bashir won 68 percent of the votes. Under electoral law, he needed to surpass 50 percent to avoid a run-off election against his nearest competitor.

A parallel vote to elect the president of the semi-autonomous south was won by the incumbent, Salva Kiir with 93 per cent of southern votes.

The men will renew their coalition government, as the country moves towards a referendum on independence for the south due next January.

The victory was called “fraudulent”, “marred” and a win for a war-crimes suspect (al-Bashir) in western media reports. But according to Sudanese writer Nesrine Malik, writing in the Guardian newspaper, the Sudanese election didn’t need fraud.

“People are starting to accept that Bashir, 20 years after coming to power via a military coup, has established himself as the only choice for president,” Malik wrote, citing the last minute withdrawals by candidates Yasir Arman and Sadiq al-Mahdi.

“…There is an entire generation that knows nothing but Bashir. They grew up in a Sudan shaped, culturally and socially by the Bashir’s party… In Khartoum, most people are just grateful to be able to eat out in the plethora of new restaurants and go about their business without fear of a curfew guillotine or security forces.”

Commenting for the New York-based Human Rights Watch, Africa director Georgette Gagnon said: “Our concerns go beyond technical irregularities. Bashir belongs in The Hague responding to the serious charges against him (concerning alleged war-crimes in Darfur), for which victims have still seen no accountability.”

Nevertheless, Pres. Al-Bashir found a warm welcome in Egypt one day after his electoral victory. The presidents of the two nations have been allies for years. A video of Sudanese rappers and a discussion of the elections can be found at http://www.linktv.org/video/5365/sudanese-elections-music-the-vote-with-nasjota-and-girifna     w/pix of O.Al-Bashir

EX-ANC OFFICIAL TO ADVISE GOLDMAN SACHS

Apr. 27 (GIN) – Tito Mboweni, an activist in the anti-apartheid struggle and a former labor minister in President Nelson Mandela’s first Cabinet in 1994, will join Goldman Sachs, the U.S. investment bank facing fraud charges by the US Securities and Exchange Commission over its marketing of a subprime mortgage product.

The U.S.-based investment bank said Mboweni’s experience and knowledge of the political and financial environment would compliment its business capabilities in the region.

“Goldman Sachs has built an excellent track record in the region over many years,” Mboweni said in a statement. “I look forward to helping the group strengthen its leading position in Sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere.”

A student of economics since his days of exile in neighboring Lesotho, Mboweni obtained numerous postgraduate degrees and and was one of the World Economic Forum’s Global Leaders of Tomorrow in 1995.

While heading up the central bank, Mboweni and Finance Minister Trevor Manuel faced criticism from the powerful National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa). Mboweni and Manuel, Numsa charged, were the “key architects behind unpopular macroeconomic policies that have created wealth for the few, while the majority is still trapped in poverty.” w/pix of T.Mboweni

U.S. LAUNCHES FLOATING MILITARY ACADEMY TO TRAIN NAVIES

Apr. 27 (GIN) – In yet another move to extend U.S. military training to African governments, a floating academy has been moored in the port of Dakar, Senegal, to help African navies learn skills ranging from basic navigation to anti-piracy techniques.

The training is part of Africom, the US command centre for Africa, but European nations have begun to take part in an effort to broaden the program and cooperation.

Captain Cindy Thebaud, commander of the US Navy’s Destroyer Squadron Six Zero and head of the project, noted the region had few boats and limited resources.”There are challenges everywhere in the region,” Thebaud said. “But bit by bit, we are seeing increases in allocations in resources.”

The Gulf of Guinea, which runs down from West Africa through Nigeria and Angola, is becoming increasingly important due to its vast potential energy reserves.

Ghana will soon join traditional Gulf of Guinea oil producers Nigeria, Angola, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon, while Liberia and Sierra Leone have also made offshore energy finds.w/pix of W.African trainees aboard the USS Gunston Hall

PRESIDENT OF RWANDA STARS AT TRIBECA FILM FEST

Apr. 27 (GIN) –  Rwandan President Paul Kagame took his turn on the red carpet in New York City this week and received a standing ovation for his role in “Earth Made of Glass” – a new documentary that indicts France as “having a hand in all this mess” refering to the genocide.

The 88 minute film portrays Kagame in a heroic light. The tall thin leader of the war-torn Central Africa nation is a surviver of the genocide that took more than three quarters of a million lives.

While gathering up the accolades, including a flattering editorial in the Wall Street Journal, his government is in the throes of a political crisis. Two top military officers were dismissed and the opposition and independent media faced arrest or exile.

Victoire Ingabire, a presidential aspirant, was arrested over comments she made at a genocide memorial in which she said Hutu victims of the genocide must also not be forgotten.

Opposition figures say they believe Kagame is preying on fears of another genocide to crush the opposition. He won 95 per cent of the vote in 2003 elections that were seen as flawed. They point to the “genocide ideology” law that is meant to keep people from fanning ethnic hatred, but which critics say has been used to stifle dissent.

Finally, two local newspapers were banned for allegedly insulting Kagame, inciting the police and army to insubordination and creating fear among the public, according to New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

The watchdog group called the move a “thinly disguised attempt at censorship.” w/pix of P.Kagame

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