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Zambia president defends China after mine shooting

Chinese company to run Gabon manganese mine
Libreville (AFP) Oct 21, 2010 - A Chinese company will operate a huge new manganese mine in central Gabon and market the mineral under an agreement signed Thursday in Libreville. Mines Minister Julien Nkoghe Bekale said Huazhou Mining, a subsidiary of China's CITIC group, would invest 40 billion cfa francs (61 million euros, 85 million dollars) in the mine at M'Bembele, 200 kilometres (120 miles) southeast of the capital. In the first two years it was planned to extract 800,000 to 900,000 tonnes a year, rising to 1,040,000 tonnes thereafter, over some 30 years.

Bekale, who signed the accord with Huazhou's vice president Zhang Longzhu, said the site would employ 255 Gabonese and 85 Chinese, and part of the mineral would be processed locally. He said Huazhou's turnover from the mine would amount to some 73 million euros and profits would be 9-12 million euros annually. Manganese is one of Gabon's main resources along with oil and wood. French group Eramet has so far had a monopoly on extracting it and is the world's second-largest producer thanks to its mine in the southeast of the country. Africa has seen a wave of Chinese investment, despite criticism in the West that Beijing blatantly ignores human rights abuses, and environment and corruption issues in some countries, as it aims for the continent's resources. China pumped 9.3 billion dollars into Africa by the end of 2009, a Chinese government report said last week, and officials have vowed the push would continue.
by Staff Writers
Lusaka (AFP) Oct 21, 2010
President Rupiah Banda on Thursday urged Zambians not to condemn Chinese managers for shooting 12 workers at Maamba Collum coal mine, saying other people also shoot their employees.

"Let's be careful that we do not single out people. Every day people are shot at by Zambians, whites, Americans. This business of 'Chinese, Chinese', we should not create a phobia against people," Banda said.

The two Chinese nationals have been charged with attempted murder for allegedly shooting randomly at Zambian miners who protested poor working conditions at their Chinese-run mine last Friday.

Main opposition leader Michael Sata of the Patriotic Front and some civil society organisations have condemned the shooting and accused Banda of protecting the Chinese.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said the managers of the private company had "mistakenly hurt several local workers", while promising to cooperate with Zambia on the case.

Banda said that because Kampala offers a favourable investment climate it was clear that many foreign investors would come to Zambia, which could result in violation of labour laws.

He insisted that he did not support the shooting, and said investors including the Chinese should respect the country's laws.

"I don't like what happened there and the law is definitely taking its course. They must follow labour laws," Banda said.

Investment from China has been on the rise in Zambia, with several copper and coal mines bought by Chinese firms.

Africa has seen a wave of Chinese investment, despite criticism in the West that Beijing was blatantly ignoring human rights abuses, and environment and corruption issues in some countries as it lunges for the continent's resources.

China pumped 9.3 billion dollars into Africa by the end of 2009, a government report said last week, and Chinese officials have vowed the push would continue.

earlier related report
Detained Niger officers aimed to kill leader: junta
Niamey (AFP) Oct 21, 2010 - Niger's ruling junta on Thursday accused four senior officers arrested last week of a plot assassinate the head of state and stop the transition to civilian rule, a statement said.

The four "hatched the plot which has been foiled and which consisted of putting an end to the transition, including an attack on the life" of junta chief General Salou Djibo, according to the statement read on public radio.

The text, read out by junta spokesman Colonel Abdul Karim Goukoye, was the first official public statement on the arrests which came amid rumours of a coup, with the military presence stepped up in the capital for several days.

The men arrested last week include Colonel Abdoulaye Badie, the former number two in the ruling junta, called the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy (CSRD) which took power in a coup on February 18.

The junta won widespread support after ousting president Mamadou Tandja when it pledged to turn the poor west African country, which ranks last on the Human Development Index, into a beacon of "good democracy and governance".

The transition to civilian rule was due to begin with a constitutional referendum on October 31, followed by local elections and a presidential poll on January 31.

The planned handover was set for April 6, 2011, when the new president is due to be sworn in.

The junta statement said this programme would run within the planned timeframe.

"The situation is under control and the restoration of democracy in our country will not be held up by any negative impulses or personal ambition," it said.

"What our country needs the most is the restoration of democracy, reconciliation among Nigeriens and an economic and financial clean up," it said.

The junta statement said the arrested men had "always opposed" a return to a democratic system and had wanted to "confiscate state power for their own benefit".

Arrested with the powerful Bedie on October 15 and 16 are former equipment minister Colonel Amadou Diallo, Lieutenant Colonel Abdou Sidikou, and Lieutenant Colonel Sanda Boubacar.

They are being held at the paramilitary gendarmerie headquarters in the capital Niamey.

On Monday top spy chief Seini Chekaraou, described as close to Badie, was sacked.

There has been talk of long-running splits within the junta on the length of the transition period.

The head of the national election commission, Ghousmane Abdourahmane, meanwhile warned at the weekend that the country might have to postpone this month's referendum if more funds were not provided to stage the vote.

He said lack of resources was delaying the issue of voters' cards and the provision of equipment including ballot boxes.

International aid of 41 million dollars has been pledged to fund the voting process, but Abdourahmane said there were difficulties in obtaining the cash.

The ex-president was ousted by the military after he took a series of steps to prolong his term in office beyond the end of his elected mandate, which was in December last year.

The junta has so far refused to release Tandja, whom it is holding in a villa within the presidential compound.

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Chinese bosses 'mistakenly' shot Zambia protesters: Beijing
Beijing (AFP) Oct 19, 2010
China said Tuesday that two Chinese coal mine managers who were arrested in Zambia for allegedly shooting 12 local workers had hurt the Zambians "mistakenly". The two Chinese nationals have been charged with attempted murder for allegedly shooting randomly at the Zambian miners after they protested poor working conditions at their Chinese-run mine on Friday. The incident has raised a pol ... read more

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