Chadian President Idriss Deby Orders Foreign Oil Firms Out
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Saturday 26 August 2006 5:48 PM GMT
PANW Dispatch on Chad, Sudan, Ivory Coast & Somalia
Chad's president plans to nationalise oil companies
Chad has given the oil companies Chevron Corp. and Petronas a 24-hour deadline to leave the country for not paying taxes.
Talking on state-run radio on Saturday, Idriss Derby, the president of Chad, asked both the companies to leave the country for refusing to pay taxes:
"Chad has decided that as of tomorrow (Sunday) Chevron and Petronas must leave Chad because they have refused to pay their taxes."
The president gave the oil production consortium that is led by Exxon Mobil, a deadline of just 24 hours to start making plans to leave.
Neither Kuala Lumpur-based Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas) nor the California-based Chevron immediately commented on Derby's declaration.
The decision came a day after Derby ordered his government to take a greater role in the production of oil, which is viewed as a way to improve the country's ailing economy.
On Friday, Hourmadji Moussa Doumgor, a Chad government spokesman, told reporters that Derby wanted greater profits from oil production.
Derby has stressed that the country "should fully enjoy its oil, mining and other resources," Doumgor said.
Chad is in the midst of setting up a national oil company and Derby has said that Chad would take responsibility for the oil fields that the American and Malaysian companies have overseen, which accounts for some 60 per cent of the country's oil production.
From October 2003 to December 2005, the consortium exported some 133 million barrels of oil from Chad, according to information compiled by the World Bank.
Chad itself earned $307 million, or about 12.5 per cent on each barrel exported.
Not a member of OPEC, Chad is one of Africa's newest oil producers.
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Chad orders foreign oil firms out
Chad has ordered two major foreign oil firms to leave the country on Sunday in a row over taxes.
President Idriss Deby gave the order to US firm ChevronTexaco and Malaysia's Petronas after deciding on Saturday.
"Chad has decided that as of tomorrow ChevronTexaco and Petronas must leave Chad because they have refused to pay their taxes," Mr Deby said.
There was no immediate comment from the two firms, which are responsible for handling 60% of Chad's production.
The decision leaves only Exxon Mobil remaining in the consortium which handles the country's oil production.
President Deby said his government would take control of the remaining reserves.
The BBC's Stephanie Hancock in the capital, N'Djamena, says the surprise decision has sent shock waves around the oil industry.
The government has recently been hinting it wants to join the consortium, she says.
Privately, many observers feel the firms may have been kicked out to make room for Chinese oil companies, she adds - just three weeks ago, Chad resumed diplomatic relations with Beijing.
If this proves to be true, it will mark a turning point for geo-political relations in this region, our correspondent says.
History of rows
Rows surrounding Chad's oil revenues have been simmering for months.
Earlier this year, Chad threatened to stop oil production if it did not immediately receive several months' worth of oil revenues from the US-led consortium.
And last December the government fell out with the World Bank, after it changed a law which controlled how oil revenues were spent.
The bank, which financially backs the oil project, repeatedly asked Chad not to change the law but it went ahead anyway.
In response, the bank froze all payments of oil revenues to the government.
That row was settled with a deal in July, under which Chad agreed to spend 70% of its oil revenues on development schemes, with 30% going into its overall budget.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/08/26 19:28:57 GMT
Six UN soldiers die in Ivory Coast
Saturday 26 August 2006 12:37 PM GMT
3,000 Bangladeshi soldiers are in Ivory Coast on UN mission
Six Bangladeshi peace-keepers have been killed and 11 injured in a road accident in Ivory Coast, hours after arriving for duty in the war-divided West African state, the United Nations said on Saturday.
The soldiers had just arrived in the former French colony to join a UN peace-keeping mission and were travelling south from the capital Yamoussoukro to the main city Abidjan when their canvas-covered lorry overturned on Friday evening.
"They had just arrived the same day and they were travelling to where they had been posted in Abidjan," Colonel Omar El Khadir, the UN military spokesman, told Reuters.
"(The lorry) rolled over ... We don't know what the cause of the accident was. An inquiry is underway," he said.
Four were killed instantly and two more died in hospital, he added.
The French peace-keeping force which backs up the UN troops transported the injured from the scene by helicopter. One soldier remained in a critical state, El Khadir said.
Army sources in Bangladesh earlier said that 12 people had been injured, but El Khadir said the number of injured was 11.
Bangladesh has nearly 3,000 soldiers with the UN peace-keeping mission in Ivory Coast, split in two since rebels seized its northern half following a failed attempt to oust Laurent Gbagbo, the president, in September 2002.
Overall, around 10,000 Bangladeshis have been working in 12 UN missions worldwide, the Bangladeshi army said.
Ivory Coast's road network has deteriorated considerably due to lack of maintenance since hostilities broke out. Main routes are peppered with huge potholes and local vehicles are often poorly maintained, meaning accidents are frequent.
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US warns of 'build-up' in Darfur
A senior US envoy has said Washington is "very concerned" about a "build-up of military forces" in the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan.
US Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer has gone to Khartoum to try to persuade the ruling party to accept a United Nations peacekeeping force.
Washington has said urgent action must be taken to stop a "genocide".
The African Union has agreed to the UN taking over from its own peacekeepers, but Khartoum rejects having a UN force.
Ms Frazer said before leaving Washington that she would deliver a letter to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on her visit this weekend.
She said AU troops were stretched to "breaking point" and could not keep the peace in an area the size of France.
"Darfur is on the verge of a dangerous downward spiral," Ms Frazer said.
She stressed the US was not about to "fight its way in" and that any international peacekeeping force would need the backing of Sudan's government.
But she insisted that "foot-dragging at the UN" must not be allowed.
She also rejected a Sudanese proposal to send more government troops to Darfur.
"Those forces are not considered neutral and so we don't feel that the people of Darfur will get any comfort," said Ms Frazer.
The US and the UK had circulated the draft, calling for 17,000 well-equipped peacekeepers, at the Security Council.
However, Sudanese National Congress Party chairman Ghazi Salah Eldin Atabani said the plan would "impose complete tutelage" on Sudan.
"Any state that sponsors this draft resolution will be regarded as assuming a hostile attitude against the Sudan," he said.
On Sunday, two AU peacekeepers were shot and killed in Darfur, the AU says.
On Wednesday, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) said that incidents of rape near camps for those displaced by the fighting were becoming more common.
It is yet further evidence, relief workers say, that security is worsening in one of the most troubled regions of the world.
There has also been an escalation of attacks against humanitarian aid workers, some of whom have had to cease operations.
A peace deal was signed last May between the government of Sudan and a faction of the Sudan Liberation Army rebels, yet the bloodshed continues to force tens of thousands of people to seek refuge in camps.
Some two million people have fled their homes in the conflict, which began in February 2003 when Darfur rebels took up arms, accusing the government of ignoring the region.
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Published: 2006/08/26 18:39:08 GMT
First ship arrives in Mogadishu
A ship has docked at the main port in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, for the first time in more than 10 years.
Hundreds of people went to the port to see the ship, which arrived from Kenya carrying goods such as TVs and coffee.
A BBC correspondent in Mogadishu says people expect the newly reopened port to lead to cheaper and more widely available goods in the city.
The port was officially reopened on Thursday by the Islamists who control Mogadishu after 15 years of civil war.
Workers have spent weeks clearing away debris blocking access to the port.
Mogadishu businessmen say five more ships are expected to arrive in the coming days.
For the past decade, ships have been using natural harbours, where goods have to be unloaded by porters wading out to sea and carrying everything on their backs.
Mogadishu's port used to be one of the busiest in East Africa, before the conflict led to its closure.
The port and international airport have been closed since United Nations and US troops ended their operations in the city as it descended into chaos in the mid-1990s following the collapse of central government.
In the past two years, piracy has become a major problem in Somalia's waters - even ships delivering food aid have been targeted.
Sailors are now advised to keep well clear of the coast when sailing in the region.
The Union of Islamic Courts reunified the city for the first time since 1991 earlier this year and say they are committed to getting the shattered country working again.
They also control much of southern Somalia.
Regular commercial flights, to the United Arab Emirates, resumed last month for the first time since the closure of the airport.
The Islamic courts are opposed by the transitional government of Somalia, which is based in the town of Baidoa.
East African diplomats have been trying to bring the Islamists and the government together for talks.
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Published: 2006/08/25 09:45:57 GMT