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Sudan stages new Darfur air strikes: UN

Central Africa PM says peace a priority
Bangui (AFP) May 18, 2011 - Bringing peace and security to the Central African Republic is a priority for the new government, formed after elections this year, Prime Minister Faustin-Archange Touadera said Wednesday.

The country is wracked by coups and unrest, with the rebel Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP) carrying out a series of deadly attacks in recent months.

"The consolidation of peace and security remains a pillar of the government's programme," Touadera told parliament.

"Without security and peace, we will never attain the objectives of development that we are ceaselessly pursuing," he said, presenting his government's programme.

President Francois Bozize, who won reelection at polls in January, reappointed Touadera as his prime minister last month, returning him to the post he has held since 2008.

Touadera said the government believed it was essential to recruit and train professional armed forces, and also wanted to promote political dialogue.

The Central African Republic is one of the least developed countries in the world, with its people largely living off subsistence farming.

by Staff Writers
United Nations (AFP) May 18, 2011
Sudanese government warplanes have staged new air strikes in Darfur, prompting the United Nations to halt flights in the stricken region, UN officials said Wednesday.

The UN mission in Darfur, UNAMID, said in a statement that warplanes on Tuesday hit the village of Sukamir, which is near Kuma, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of the main Darfur city of El Fasher.

That air attack came two days after a strike in the south of the conflict-stricken region, where the United Nations says more than 300,000 people have died since an uprising started in 2003.

"The team will attempt to collect information on possible casualties and newly displaced persons," according to the statement, which said UNAMID peacekeepers were trying to get Sukamir.

UN flights to the regions of Shangil Tobaya, Fanga Suk and neighboring regions in North Darfur have been suspended "due to government officials citing security concerns," said the mission.

Meanwhile, restrictions on the movement of aid groups have led to the cancellation of a number of humanitarian missions in South Darfur, the mission added.

Sudanese warplanes on Sunday bombed the town of Labado and the village of Esheraya in southern Darfur, according to the UN. Casualty numbers could not be given as the mission had not been given access to the Labado region.

Ibrahim Gambari, the UNAMID head, expressed concern over the air strikes.

"I call upon all parties to exercise the utmost restraint in the use of lethal force," he said.

Non-government groups and UN agencies operating in south Sudan were told Tuesday by the Sudanese government that they would be limited to a zone of 15 kilometers (10 miles) around the town of Nyala, UNAMID said.

At least 300,000 people have been killed and 1.8 million people fled their homes since the Darfur conflict erupted in 2003 between rebels and the Arab-dominated Khartoum regime, the United Nations says. The government puts the death toll at 10,000.

earlier related report
Namibia signs deal to up ownership in De Beers Marine
Windhoek (AFP) May 18, 2011 - Namibia's government signed a deal Wednesday with South African diamond giant De Beers to increase its share in the company's local marine mining operations from 15 to 50 percent, officials said.

De Beers, which has an equal partnership with the Namibian government in its subsidiary Namdeb, said the company and the government had set up a new joint venture that would hold all land and sea mining licenses for both Namdeb and sister company De Beers Marine Namibia.

"We look forward to a long-term relationship with the Namibian government," acting De Beers Group chief executive Bruce Cleaver told journalists.

The parties said the deal would likely take effect in the second half of the year after all statutory, regulatory and other commercial conditions were met.

Marine diamond mining was pioneered in Namibia, and the country has the richest known marine diamond deposits in the world, estimated at over 80 million carats according to De Beers.

De Beers Marine mines the gems with a fleet of five mining ships and one evaluation and sampling ship.

Namibia was ranked the world's eighth biggest diamond producing country last year by the Kimberley Process monitoring group. The industry is the arid southwest African country's economic backbone.

Namibia's diamond production jumped 57 percent last year, with sales hitting $768 million (539 million euros) as the industry recovered from the global economic crisis.

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British PM rejects pressure on aid budget
London (AFP) May 18, 2011
British Prime Minister David Cameron insisted Tuesday he would keep his promise to set in law a hike in the overseas aid budget, despite a challenge by a senior minister. In a leaked letter, Defence Secretary Liam Fox warned that making a legal commitment to increase aid spending to 0.7 percent of gross national income by 2013 could tie the government's hands if it could not afford it. " ... read more

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