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Guinea Bissau prime minister says he will not quit

Global Fund suspends health aid to Zambia over graft
Lusaka (AFP) June 16, 2010 - The Global Fund to fight AIDS and other killer diseases has suspended aid to Zambia, citing strong evidence of corruption in the impoverished country's beleaguered health ministry. The decision to suspend crucial aid to the poor southern African country was made at a Global Fund meeting in Geneva in April, but only seen on its website Wednesday. A report from the Fund said its own auditors were "unable to provide assurance as to the safety of investing further funds through the ministry of health, while the issues surrounding the investigations by national authorities remain unresolved".

"The national authorities have failed thus far to provide assurances of appropriate action regarding fraud against Global Fund grant programs," it said. However Zambia's Health Minister Kapembwa Simbao denied the suspension of funds and said there had been no indication from the organisation to halt donations. "The other half is still there for us as a country to use, there is nowhere, where it is indicated that Global Fund will withdraw or stop funding the country's health sector," Simbao said. The Global Fund is Zambia's main donor to the health sector, and the suspension of aid will likely hinder the nation's efforts to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

The Fund's website says its grants keep nearly 230,000 people on anti-AIDS treatments. Last year the Netherlands suspended 13 million euros (18 million dollars) in aid to Zambia's health sector, also because of alleged corruption. An audit of aid to Zambia last year uncovered evidence of fraud and other irregularities, with the government not taking any action. Zambia's commitment to fighting corruption was called into question last year when a court acquitted former president Frederick Chiluba of corruption, despite an earlier conviction in a British court and verdicts against others accused in the same case.
by Staff Writers
Bissau (AFP) June 16, 2010
Guinea Bissau Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior said Wednesday he would not step down and accused certain figures in the tense and unstable west African country of wanting to plunge it into chaos.

Gomes returned to the country under police escort Monday after heading to former colonial ruler Portugal at the end of April, officially for health reasons, weeks after the army chief was overthrown by his deputy.

Gomes was welcomed home Wednesday by hundreds of members of the ruling African Independence Party of Guinea and Cape Verde party, which he heads although some want him replaced.

"The government that I lead will remain and continue to work until the end of its mandate. I will not resign, that must be clear to everyone," he said.

Guinea Bissau has been tense since the April 1 overthrow of the previous army chief by his deputy, General Antonio Indjai, during which Gomes was held captive by troops for several hours.

There were fears the army was staging a coup but it declared its continued loyalty to Guinea Bissau's political leaders, who include President Malam Bacai Sanha.

"I am ready to work to end the political crisis but I can only allow this to be done through the goodwill of people who are trying at all costs to plunge the country into chaos," the prime minister said.

He said he was a "factor for stability" in the country and the ruling party.

"If I must leave my duties, that must be done through legal channels with an extraordinary congress of the party," said Gomes, elected in 2008.

He has a difficult relationship with the president although they are from the same party, which holds 67 of 100 seats in the National Assembly but is fractured with some pushing for Gomes's removal as party leader.

Gomes, who is the head of government while the president is head of state, met Tuesday with senior officers in the army including the general who grabbed power in April, Indjai.

"There are no particular problems between us," Indjai said after the meeting. "Everything has now been smoothed out. We are going to work together."

Since its independence from Portugal in 1974, Guinea Bissau has been through dozens of military coups.

In March 2009 president Joao Bernardo Vieira was killed by troops apparently in revenge for the assassination hours earlier of the armed forces chief.

The country's top national export earner is cashew nuts but it has become drawn into the international drugs trade, becoming a key transit point in cocaine smuggling between South America and Europe.

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US donates tuberculosis facility to Nigeria
Zaria, Nigeria (AFP) June 14, 2010
The United States on Monday donated a multi-million dollar facility for the detection and treatment of tuberculosis to Nigeria, where around 400,000 people suffer from the disease. Located on the outskirts of the northern city of Zaria, the facility includes a state-of-the-art bio-safety laboratory and a medical staff training centre as well as clinics for people living with HIV and AIDS. ... read more

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