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Nobel laureate Gbowee to lead Liberian peace initiative
by Staff Writers
Monrovia (AFP) Nov 11, 2011

UN rights urges probe into S.Sudan refugee camp air strikes
Geneva (AFP) Nov 11, 2011 - The UN human rights chief called Friday for an independent probe into deadly air strikes on a refugee camp in South Sudan, stressing that those responsible for the attacks must be brought to justice.

"There needs to be an independent, thorough and credible investigation to establish the precise circumstances of this aerial bombing," said Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"And if indeed it is established that an international crime or serious human rights violation has been committed, then those responsible should be brought to justice," she added.

Pillay also expressed alarm about the ongoing attacks in Sudan's South Kordofan state.

"This latest attack risks aggravating what is already an extremely tense and dangerous situation," she said, calling for an immediate halt to all attacks.

Earlier Friday, Pillay's spokesman said the air strikes could amount to an international crime.

South Sudan has accused Khartoum of carrying out the strike on a refugee camp in Yida town in Unity State on Thursday, which a local official said killed 12 people and injured more than 20.

Just hours before the reported raids, South Sudan's President Salva Kiir accused his northern counterpart Omar al-Bashir of trying to drag the new country back to war and seize its oil fields.

The UN refugee agency meanwhile said Friday that several bombs dropped by an aircraft hit the camp sheltering more than 20,000 refugees who fled violence in the Nuba mountains of South Kordofan.

Condemning the attack, UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said: "Two of the bombs fell within the Yida camp, including one close to the school.

"Fortunately there were no casualties in the camp and we are verifying the situation of surrounding communities."

Liberia's joint Nobel Peace Prize winner, women's rights activist Leymah Gbowee, will lead a new peace and reconciliation initiative, fellow laureate President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said Friday.

"As the dust settles on the electoral season it is time for us to move our country forward in a spirit of unity and reconciliation," Sirleaf, co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, said in an address to the nation.

"I invite everyone to be part of a national dialogue that will bring us together, I especially want to call upon my fellow political leaders to join me in a conversation on the future of our country

"I have decided to set up a national peace and reconciliation initiative to start the dialogue ... I am pleased to announce our Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Leymah Gbwowee has accepted to lead the effort," said Sirleaf.

Sirleaf made the announcement after being confirmed the landslide winner in the nation's second post-war polls, which were marred by an opposition boycott and violence when police opened fire on a crowd of protesters Monday.

The tainted polls have raised fears for the fragile nation, recovering from a brutal 14-year civil war ended in 2003 which killed 250,000 people, which remains deeply divided.

Demo calls for rapid forming of Libya army
Benghazi, Libya (AFP) Nov 11, 2011 - Dozens of people demonstrated in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on Friday calling for the quick formation of a national army to replace the voluntary militias that overthrew Moamer Kadhafi.

"Yes to the national army, no to armed militias" and "No to a militia parallel to the army," shouted demonstrators, among whom were officers of the former army and members of the voluntary brigades that waged war against the former strongman.

"We do not want a second Hezbollah," said one of the organisers, referring to Lebanon's powerful armed Shiite movement whose militia exists parallel to the national army.

Colonel Abdelmottaleb Miled said "we want a national army that defends the constitution, the borders of the state, a civil state. We are against extremism."

Nearly three months after rebel fighters loyal to the National Transitional Council (NTC) seized the capital, the army has still not been reconstituted.

The issue is particularly sensitive because some of the brigades are refusing to lay down their arms.

At the same time, a number of officers defected to the rebellion, and they are viewed with mistrust, if not hostility, by the militias.

A meeting on the matter is set to be held in Benghazi, the birthplace of the Libyan revolution, in the coming days.

"The position of the NTC is still hazy," former air force Colonel Ibrahim al-Fituri said, accusing the "Islamist current, supported by Qatar" of blocking the formation of a new national military.

The CNT is made up of different political factions, whose differences are becoming increasingly confrontational.

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Detained former junta deputy leader freed in Niger
Niamey (AFP) Nov 11, 2011 - Authorities in Niger have freed Colonel Abdoulaye Badie, a former deputy junta leader, after two months in detention over an anonymous tract criticising military methods, sources close to him said Friday.

"Colonel Badie was released on Wednesday ... after exactly two months of detention to the day," one of the sources told AFP.

Badie had been arrested on September 9 while he was preparing to take up a new assignment as military attache at the west African country's embassy in Washington.

According to several independent newspapers, Badie and another officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Hamadou Djibo, were arrested in connection with a tract circulating in the capital Niamey. This denounced certain military promotions and "the rehabilitation of soldiers who have been discharged from the ranks and who have skeletons in their closets".

Badie was "freed and nothing has been upheld of the accusations made against him," the source close to him said, adding that the colonel was set to take up his post in Washington "as of Sunday".

The release of Lieutenant-Colonel Djibo, the commander of the officer training academy who was arrested on September 11, "is planned for this Friday," a member of his family told AFP.

In May, the state prosecutor in Niamey requested that suits filed against Badie and three other soldiers in 2010 for an alleged "plot" be thrown out.

All four men, detained in October 2010 and acquitted in May, had been members of the junta known as the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy, which in February 2010 overthrew President Mamadou Tandja, who had made himself highly unpopular with measures to cling to power.

Junta chief General Salou Djibo handed over power to an elected civilian president, Mahamadou Issoufou, who was sworn in on April 7.


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Sudan beefing up border air strike capacity: monitors
Khartoum (AFP) Nov 11, 2011
Sudan's army is beefing up its bombing capability in the border state of Blue Nile, a US monitoring group said on Friday, after Khartoum was accused of deadly air strikes on a refugee camp in South Sudan. Satellite imagery has "confirmed" that the military is "rapidly working to enhance air strike and air assault capacity in two air bases recently captured from rebels in Sudans Blue Nile bor ... read more

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