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Africa: A continent in constant conflict

Nigeria says to bo rrow 900 million dollars from China
Abuja (AFP) Dec 23, 2010 - Nigeria has signed loan deals with China worth 900 million dollars that will be used to finance rail and communication projects in Africa's most populous nation, the finance minister said Thursday. "The amount is 900 million dollars," Olusegun Aganga told reporters after returning from China. Some 500 million dollars would be used for a railway between Nigeria's capital Abuja and the northern city of Kaduna, while the rest would be for what he called a national public security communications project. The loans are to come from the Export-Import Bank of China, he said. Aganga named CCECC and ZTE as the Chinese contractors for the rail and communications projects. The rail project is due for completion in three years and will begin next month, he said. China, which has invested heavily in Africa in recent years as it seeks to fulfill its growing energy needs, has previously expressed interest in Nigerian oil blocks.

G.Bissau ex-military chief released from prison
Bissau (AFP) Dec 23, 2010 - The former military chief in Guinea-Bissau has been released after eight months in prison along with six other officers, days after the EU warned of possible sanctions against the west African state. "I was released last night on the orders of the army chief who had acted upon the request of the president and the government," Rear-Admiral Jose Zamora Induta told AFP by telephone Thursday. "I have returned to my home in Bissau. I am well," he added. Induta was arrested by General Antonio Indjai, his deputy, on April 1, while head of government Carlos Gomes Junior received death threats from soldiers loyal to Indjaj.

Indjai, who accused Induta of abuse of power and using large sums of money for military rations for his own benefit, was made head of the armed forces three months later, amid international criticism. The defence ministry confirmed Thursday that Induta had been freed, along with Colonel Samba Diallo, who was also arrested on April 1. Also released were five officers arrested following a March 2009 bomb attack bomb attack that killed the then armed forces chief, General Batista Tagme Na Wai. Wai's assassination led to a revenge attack in which Guinea-Bissau's president Bernardo Joao Vieira died. Induta's release came two days after the European Commission in Brussels threatened to suspend some development aid as it called for "the end of illegal detentions and impunity" in Guinea Bissau. The EU has budgeted for some 120 million euros (157 million dollars) in aid for Bissau to 2013.

But a military source told AFP that Induta's release was "not decided under pressure" but for humanitarian reasons and that the ex-military chief "remained under house arrest and is not free to move about." Guinea-Bissau has been plagued by coups since independence from Portugal in 1974 and instability has attracted South American drug cartels that use the country as a transit point to Europe. The US embassy, which has pointed the finger at senior military and government officials for involvement in drug-running, welcomed the release of the officers. It said they were in line with US calls on the government to respect the constitution and the rule of law, it said.
by Staff Writers
Abidjan, Ivory Coast (UPI) Dec 22, 2010
Ivory Coast, the West African state that is the world's top cocoa producer, is on the brink of civil war -- its second in a decade -- amid mounting violence triggered by a disputed presidential election.

But the political and tribal turbulence in the former French colony, once a model of stability which was torn by north-south civil war in 2002-03, is only a small part of the tempest of turmoil that is sweeping Africa these days.

What follows is only a sample of the upheaval gripped the continent.

War has been raging in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1996. An estimated 5 million people have died in a conflict deemed the worst since World War II, as neighboring states and their surrogate warlords battle for the vast country's mineral riches.

Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe and others scramble for the DRC's gold, copper, diamonds, uranium, tin ore, tungsten and other resources.

Controlling minerals, timber, farmland and, increasingly, water, have become main characteristics of Africa's incessant wars.

Sudan, which endured ethnic-based civil war from the 1950s to 2005, faces another explosion of bloodletting as the oil-rich Christian and animist south is expected to vote for independence from the Arab-dominated north in a Jan. 9 referendum.

Another former French colony, the Central African Republic, one of the poorest countries on the planet, is collapsing as an undermanned force of U.N. peacekeepers withdraws, leaving the landlocked nation of 4.4 million people to the mercy of guerrillas, terrorists and bandits.

Peacekeepers were also forced out by the government of neighboring Chad, also once part of France's African empire and now plagued by violence and poverty.

The peacekeepers were there to protect some 500,000 refugees, who will now be prey to brigands, while the United Nations warns that relief efforts for 2 million people facing food shortages are at risk. The DRC also wants the peacekeepers gone.

Kenya, a former British colony in East Africa, is teetering on the brink of a new spasm of savagery after the International Criminal Court in The Hague, in a rare indictment, accused six prominent figures of orchestrating tribal violence in 2007-08 after another disputed election.

Some 1,300 people in the Rift Valley were slaughtered and 600,000 displaced.

The accused include Uhuru Kenyatta, the deputy prime minister and son of Kenya's founding father, independence leader Jomo Kenyatta.

Supporters of one of the accused, William Ruto, former minister of agriculture and higher education, have vowed to unleash a new wave of ethnic cleansing against rival tribesmen modeled on the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

In that horrific bloodbath, Hutu extremists massacred 800,000 Tutsis and their allies over 100 days while the world did nothing.

In the East African state of Uganda, the rebel Lord's Resistance Army, infamous for its murderous child soldiers, has terrorized the country for two decades.

It has carved out a vast region of control in the dense forests of the northeastern DRC, southern Sudan and the Central African Republic.

From Algeria in the north on the southern shore of the Mediterranean, through the Sahara region to Nigeria on the Atlantic coast, east to Somalia on the Indian Ocean, terrorism and insurgencies abound.

In North Africa and in Somalia, affiliates of al-Qaida, or groups inspired by Osama bin Laden's global jihad, are active.

Somalia, a failed state without an effective central government since 1991, is a battleground between Islamist forces and a Western-backed Transitional Federal Government that barely functions.

A long-simmering dispute between Algeria and Morocco over the mineral-rich Western Sahara threatens to ignite once more.

In Ethiopia, which with U.S. backing invaded Somalia in 2006 to oust a short-lived Islamist government, the regime of autocratic Prime Minister Meles Zenawi grapples with insurgencies in the wild Ogaden region fueled by neighboring Eritrea.

The two authoritarian states have a violent history. Eritrea won its independence from Ethiopia in 1991 after a 30-year conflict and the two countries fought a devastating but inconclusive war in 1998-2000. They remain locked in hostility.

The United Nations imposed sanctions on the Red Sea state in December 2009 for aiding Somali insurgents.

The Asmara regime "is weakening steadily," the Brussels-based International Crisis Group reported in September. "Its economy is in free fall, poverty is rife and the authoritarian political system is hemorrhaging its legitimacy."

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DR Congo signs nuclear proliferation deal with US
Kinshasa (AFP) Dec 21, 2010
The United States and Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday signed an agreement to prevent trafficking of nuclear and radioactive materials, the US embassy said. The deal comes after a November UN report revealed that a group of Rwandan rebels in the east of the country attempted to sell six containers of uranium which dated back to the days of Belgian colonial rule. The agreement high ... read more

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