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Liberia's Nobel Peace Laureate holds peace jamboree
by Staff Writers
Monrovia (AFP) Nov 30, 2011

Liberian Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee.

Liberian Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee on Wednesday held a peace jamboree as part of her efforts to reunite the nation after disputed polls earlier this month marred by violence.

Some 500 people including her fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and members of the main opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) attended the gathering in the capital.

"This is a rallying call for unity, this day is a rallying call for us to come together as one people and say no to division, no to political manipulation, no to ethnicity, no to tribalism, no to sectionalism, no to every negative thing that will divide us as a people," Gbowee said.

The women's activist was tasked by Sirleaf to lead a peace initiative after the bitter presidential election.

The CDC boycotted a run-off election on November 8 after candidate Winston Tubman lost a first round of voting, claiming the process was rigged, despite it being given a clean bill of health from observers.

On the eve of the election an opposition rally turned violent and police fired live bullets, killing two people. Turnout the next day was a measly 38 percent.

Tubman refused to recognise the results, but contradictory statements from the party's leadership -- which this week led them to fire their chairman and other top officials -- show divisions on how to proceed.

"I want to use this occasion to climax and say that the mighty Congress for Democratic Change in the month of January will initiate a national caravan of peace, security," said CDC secretary general Acarius Gray, representing his party.

Gbowee told AFP earlier this month she would be be moving back home to Liberia to tackle the challenge of reconciliation in a country traumatised by back-to-back conflicts between 1989 and 2003 in which some 250,000 were killed.

"You can't fight 14 years of civil war and have six years of democracy and think all is well," said Gbowee, who led women in prayer, and later in a sex strike, as part of efforts to end the war.

Sirleaf said: "The process of transformation is never easy because it means that you have to reshape and renew and that is the process we have been going through for the past ten years."

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China pledges $2.3m to Uganda in military assistance
Kampala (AFP) Nov 30, 2011 - China pledged more than $2.3 million in military assistance to Uganda during a high-profile visit to Kampala by Beijing's defence minister, a spokesman for the Ugandan army said Wednesday.

The Chinese delegation, led by Defence Minister Liang Guanglie, signed a deal with Kampala including support for Uganda's troops in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), protecting the Western-backed government there.

"The agreement we signed was for 15 million yuan in support for the UPDF (Uganda People's Defence Force) for its operations as part of AMISOM and for domestic capacity building," said army spokesman Felix Kulayigye.

Uganda is one of only two country currently contributing troops to the 9,700-strong AU force, which is battling Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents.

There were no further details as to exactly what the military support entailed.

Chinese officials also said that Beijing was looking to build road and railway infrastructure in Uganda during a meeting with President Yoweri Museveni, the Ugandan president's office said in a statement.

"The visiting Chinese Defence Minister said that Chinese companies would be interested in the construction of railways and roads in Uganda," the statement released late Tuesday read.

During the meeting Museveni hailed growing ties between Uganda and China and forecast increased trade links.

"We look forward to having more trade with China. Uganda always welcomes support from China," Museveni said, according to the official statement.

China has ratcheted up its involvement in Uganda in recent years and has pledged to build a new toll road linking the Ugandan capital Kampala to the nearby airport town of Entebbe.

Chinese state-owned oil company CNOOC is currently awaiting final approval of a $2.9 billion joint deal with France's Total to buy two-thirds of Anglo-Irish firm Tullow Oil's interests in Uganda's embryonic oil industry.

Final approval of the deal -- which would see massive investment in Uganda's oil sector -- is currently being delayed by wrangles in the country's parliament over allegations of official corruption in the burgeoning industry.


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S. Sudan battles to transform guerrilla army
Juba (AFP) Nov 30, 2011
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