Monday, April 30, 2007

Mumia Abu-Jamal Update: Appeal Hearing May 17; Nation Ad Campaign, etc.

Download The Nation ad:

Funds needed for the ad! See below

Dear Friends of Mumia,

This is an urgent appeal for funds to cover the cost of a full-page ad scheduled for publication in The Nation magazine. The add will appear two weeks before the scheduled May 17 oral arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

The ad will raise funds for Mumia's legal and political defense. Initiated by The Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, it is the product of the joint effort of five Mumia solidarity organizations. The sponsors are listed and the text is self-explanatory. In the event that you cannot open the pdf file, we have included the ad in straight text below.

As you will note, we have secured a list of nationally prominent ad signers, from Harry Belafonte, Angela Davis and Alice Walker to Danny Glover, Howard Zinn, Lynne Stewart, Michael Ratner and several others.

A few days ago Mumia's lead attorney, Robert R. Bryan announced two important court victories. The first was a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals to grant an additional hour to the time for oral presentations on May 17. This means that Mumia's attorneys will have a full hour, thus allowing time for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the National Lawyers Guild attorneys to present the material in their amicus curiae briefs in support of Mumia's central arguments.

Second, the same court rejected a motion by Pennsylvania prosecutors to recuse (remove) the entire Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The motion's spurious argument were, according to Robert R. Bryan, a cover to circumvent what is considered the second most liberal circuit court in the country and move the proceedings to a more conservative jurisdiction.

These two victories set the stage for the May 17 oral arguments and the mass demonstrations in Philadelphia and San Francisco on that date.

The Nation ad has all the details about these two critical demonstrations. As always, the Mobilization to Free Mumia believes that Mumia's life and freedom rests in our continued capacity to mobilize in massive numbers to make the price of Mumia's continued incarceration impossible.

Building the mass movement for Mumia coupled with the continuing battles in the legal arena are the best way to win the historic victory that Mumia's freedom will represent.

Please contribute generously to the publication of the ad. Note that the pdf file contains the two-color ad in the format prepared for The Nation:

In solidarity,

Laura Herrera and Jeff Mackler, Co-coordinators
The Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

[Note: "help 'em fry the n----r" is misspelled only to avoid email profanity filters that would prevent this message from reaching some recipients if the text were to be copied for email distribution]
Download the following ad here:


Stand with Mumia Abu-Jamal May 17 in Philadelphia

On May 17, 2007 Mumia Abu-Jamal's lead attorney, Robert R. Bryan, will present oral arguments to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia. Despite a mountain of evidence of his innocence, a U.S. criminal "justice" system saturated with race and class bias has reduced his case to just four issues: exclusion of Blacks from the jury panel, racial bias, improper instructions to the jury regarding the death penalty and prosecutorial misconduct.

In a 1982 frame-up trial that has been condemned by groups and individuals including Amnesty International, the European Parliament, the NAACP, the National Lawyers Guild, President Nelson Mandela of South Africa, President Jacques Chirac of France, the Congressional Black Caucus, hundreds of U.S. and international trade unions and the Detroit, San Francisco, and Paris, France city councils, Mumia was falsely convicted of the murder of a Philadelphia police officer.

Six eyewitnesses stated that the real killer fled the murder scene while Mumia himself was found near dead next to the slain police officer. Critical evidence of Mumia's innocence was destroyed or withheld. "Witnesses" never at the murder scene were coerced to state that they were present. Police distorted events and material evidence at the murder scene. Mumia himself was excluded from the majority of his own trial.

Mumia was the victim of a political frame-up. He is an award-winning journalist, whose widely-respected social commentaries are today broadcast on 124 radio stations. In 1981, as a radio commentator and President of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists, he was a leading human rights critic of the Philadelphia Police Department, many of whose officers had been indicted and convicted on charges of corruption, witness intimidation and the planting of evidence.

Mumia's judge, Albert Sabo, was overheard by court stenographer, Terri Maurer Carter, to say in his antechambers about Mumia, "Yeah, and I'm going to help 'em fry the n----r."

Mumia has been on death row nearly 25 years. He has become a worldwide symbol in the fight against the barbaric and racist death penalty. Pennsylvania authorities seek, for the third time, to impose the death penalty and murder Mumia by lethal injection. We must make the political price of this execution and continued incarceration too high to pay. We stand with Mumia as he fights for his legal right to a new trial and for his life and freedom.

Join us in Philadelphia on Thursday, May 17, 9:30 am at the U.S. Courthouse, 6th and Market Streets, Philadelphia. On the East Coast call: 215-476-8812. On the West Coast, we mobilize at the U.S. Court of Appeals Building, 7th Street and Mission, San Francisco, 4-6 pm. Call: 415-255-1085

Pam Africa; Ed Asner; Harry Belafonte; Heidi Boghosian, Exec. Dir, *National Lawyers Guild; Angela Davis; Hari Dillon, President, Vanguard Public Foundation; Eve Ensler; Bill Fletcher Jr., Co-founder, *Center for Labor Renewal; Danny Glover; Frances Goldin; Rick Halperin, President, *Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty; Dolores Huerta; Barbara Lubin, Dir., *Middle East Children's Alliance; Jeff Mackler; Robbie Meeropol, Exec. Dir., *Rosenberg Fund for Children; Michael Ratner, President, *Center for Constitutional Rights; Lynne Stewart; Alice Walker; Cornel West; Howard Zinn *Organization listed for identification purposes only.


Please make checks payable to: Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, 298 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94103. -

____ Enclosed is my contribution of: ___ $1,000; ___$500; ___$250; ___
$100; ___ $50; ___ $25; ___other, to help pay for the cost of this ad and for Mumia's legal and political defense.

Name (Print) ________________________________________

Organization (if any): _________________ Title: ________________

Address: __________________ City: _____________ Zip: ___

Phone: _____ - ________ email: _________________________

Sponsors: The Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal (Northern California); International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal; Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC); Chicago Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal;
Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal


On Tuesday, April 24th hundreds gathered at the American Friends Service Committee in Philadelphia on Mumia's birthday to mobilize for his highly anticipated oral arguments scheduled for May 17th. We would like to thank and congratulate all who came, including Danny Glover, Sgt. DeLacy Davis, Linn Washington Jr., Harold Wilson, Lynne Stewart and others, to show their uncompromising support as they did so in the face of a large FOP protest and building police terror which has resulted in death threats and extreme intimidation throughout the last few weeks. Your continued support is recognized and appreciated.

1. New publication from Journalists for Mumia
2. Journalists for Mumia’s coverage of April 24 in Philly
3. AWOL reports on April 24 in Philly
4. Chicago Event May 7 for Mumia!
1. ********PLEASE SPREAD THIS ANNOUNCEMENT FAR AND WIDE, so that the issues in Mumia's current bid for a new trial can be accurately presented, despite the long history of mainstream media bias!*********

The newly formed “Journalists for Mumia” is announcing the release of both our newspaper and our new website:

For the first time in the United States, we have published a newly discovered crime scene photo from December 9, 1981, that clearly documents police manipulation of the scene. View this photo on page five of this PDF version of our newspaper that has just been released:

Because the 1981 crime scene photo taken by Pedro Polakoff is copyrighted, please do not reproduce the photo (at least for now). Please just share the photo by passing along the PDF file for viewing.

Journalists for Mumia has been formed to challenge the long history of media bias against Abu-Jamal’s case for a new trial. Through our print newspaper and website we are providing independent, non-sectarian, up-to-date news on the case.

The two feature articles of our first issue, written by Journalists for Mumia co-founders Michael Schiffmann and Hans Bennett, are expanded versions of articles by Bennett that appeared in the November 2006 edition of Z Magazine and other publications.

Mumia’s Battle in the Courtroom presents the facts directly relevant to the May 17 oral arguments. In contrast, Race Against Death presents the explosive new evidence in Schiffmann’s book with the same title that can only be presented at a new trial for Abu-Jamal.

Our cover story is a new interview with attorney Robert R. Bryan, and we are also featuring a new article by respected Philadelphia journalist Linn Washington, Imus Isn’t the Only Issue to Address which details the most recent FOP intimidation of Abu-Jamal supporters.

Our next issue will focus on both the movement in support of Abu-Jamal and the current right-wing campaign to execute him. Stay tuned and please visit our new website.


Michael Schiffmann

Hans Bennett

Journalists for Mumia Abu-Jamal
po box 30770, Philadelphia, PA, 19104

2. Hello,

I am writing to share my report from yesterday’s event for Mumia here in Philadelphia. Right now, the feature is on the Philly IMC, and I will be submitting it as a feature for the global IMC site. Lots of different stuff in here, so please spread this around as much as possible in these crucial weeks leading up to Mumia’s oral arguments on May 17.

Hans Bennett

Link here for full article:

I am pasting the text of the article in below, but just in case the embedded links don’t come through on the email, PLEASE BE SURE AND CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW TO GO DIRECTLY TO THE PHILLY IMC WEBSITE, because on there are lots of links, including audio from Linn Washington, Sonia Sanchez, Ramona Africa, and an awesome speech comparing the FOP to the Ku Klux Klan from Sgt. DeLacy Davis, from Black Cops Against Police Brutality.

Also be sure and check out this NYPD website that talks about “Bitch Slapping” the Mumia Event a few weeks ago that was forced to change locations:

Link here for full article:

Mumia Abu-Jamal Rally on April 24 Spotlights May 17 Oral Arguments

On April 24 in Philadelphia, hundreds gathered to support black death-row journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted of killing white Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner in a 1982 trial that Amnesty International has deemed unfair (see report).

At noon, supporters organized a “Honk for Mumia” at City Hall (photos), then in the evening, supporters gathered a few blocks away, for a guest speakers and a viewing of Framing an Execution. Guest speakers included Danny Glover, Sonia Sanchez, Linn Washington, Jr., Ramona Africa, and Sgt. DeLacy Davis of Black Cops Against Police Brutality.

April 24 also marked the release of a new website and newspaper published by "Journalists for Mumia," unveiling for the first time in the US, a newly discovered crime scene photo from Dec. 9, 1981 that reveals police manipulation of ballistics evidence. The photo has already been published in the new German book on Mumia’s case (see review and interview).

The April 24 events publicized the upcoming oral arguments before the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia on May 17, for which, supporters are organizing a mass demonstration (flier). The court will consider four different issues that have been certified for appeal, and then decide whether to grant a new trial, affirm the life sentence, or re-instate the death sentence (KAOS radio show).

After the May 17 date was set for oral arguments, the Philadelphia DA filed a motion asking the entire Third Circuit Court to recuse itself from the case. Mumia’s attorney felt the DA’s move was meant to delay the hearings, and to move the case to a more conservative circuit. On April 20, the court ruled in favor of Abu-Jamal in two ways. The court (1) ruled against the recusal and (2) agreed to give each side one full hour to present their arguments.

The evening event at the Friends Center (a few blocks from City Hall) was met by over a hundred police officers protesting the event for Mumia, which was a culmination of recent intimidation tactics by the Fraternal Order of Police.

A benefit event in New York City had to change locations after extensive NYPD harassment. An NYPD website later boasted that the rally was "Bitch Slapped." Then, the April 24 event in Philadelphia had to change locations after police intimidation, as documented by journalist Linn Washington , who noted that the “anti-Abu-Jamal barrage of emails and telephone calls unleashed on the Clef Club included declarations perilously close to terroristic threats.”

The Fraternal Order of Police and their allies have continued to target the French cities that have honored Mumia. In 2003 he was declared an honorary citizen of Paris—the first time since Pablo Picasso was similarly honored in the 1970s. Then last year on April 24, the Paris suburb St. Denis named a major street after Abu-Jamal. Located in the Cristino Garcia District of the city (named after an anti-Franco Spanish Republican), Rue Mumia Abu-Jamal leads directly to the largest sports arena in Europe: “Nelson Mandela Stadium.”

Government resolutions were passed condemning France, criminal charges were filed against the French cities, and the FOP has continued to harass representatives that did not vote for the anti-Mumia resolutions.

In response, Mumia supporters have launched several campaigns: faxing letters for Mumia to U.S. House of Reps, circulating a letter demanding that John Conyers of the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary open formal hearings to reconsider the House Resolution, and contacting Donald Payne (recently harassed by the FOP) to thank him for not voting for the resolution.

Also, two new academic papers have been written on Mumia by Tameka L. Cage and Paul Robeson Ford.
Related links: December IMC feature on Mumia, Philly Journalist’s series on Mumia, Trial Transcripts on Anti-Mumia Site, Mumia on Alberto Gonzales, Prison Radio archive of Mumia essays, Educators for Mumia, NYC Free Mumia Coalition

3. AWOL’s report
4. In Chicago:
Free Mumia!! Sunday May 6th
Cafe Catedral
2500 S. Christiana
$5 Donation-No one Refused

HecOne: MC/Poet
JamOne: Human Beat Box
Los Vicios de Papa: Ska/Reggae fusion
Dj Vextrux: World Beat
123 Bomberos: Afro-Puertorican music
Poets: Edith Bucio & Danette Sokacich

Detroit May Day Actions Update: Catholic Leaders Issue Statement Supporting Immigrant Rights

Catholic Leaders Issue Statement in Support of Immigration Reform

Mass Demonstration and Rally to be Held on May in southwest Detroit

For Release April 29, 2007 Archdiocese: Ned McGrath (w) 313-237-5943 | (h) 313-886-4114 LUUM (Latinos Unidos/United de
Michigan): Rosendo Delgado 313-887-1849

Bishop Flores to Meet with Media

Michigan Bishops Issue Statement on Federal Immigration Legislation With immigration reform front and center in this weekend’s news (Sunday Free Press, 4A) and with demonstrations planned in Detroit and across the country for Tuesday, May 1, the Roman Catholic bishops of Michigan have issued a statement affirming the rights of immigrant workers.

For more information on the May Day Rally & March in Detroit log on to . The event will start at Patton Park on West Vernor and Woodmere beginning at 10:00 a.m. There will be a march to Clark Park for a rally with music and community speakers.

Signed by the seven diocesan bishops of Michigan and issued by the Michigan Catholic Conference, the public policy voice in the state, the statement proposes that the laws of the United States conform to three principles:

1. Immigration legislation should permit the prompt reunification of families.

2. Immigration legislation should open a path toward legalization of undocumented workers currently living and working in the United States.

3. Immigration legislation should create an efficient system for the future entrance of temporary workers as well as permanent legal residents. Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Flores met with media representatives to discuss federal immigration legislation and the Michigan Bishops’ Statement at 5:15 p.m. on Sunday, April 29, in the sun room of Holy Redeemer Church, 1721 Junction, Detroit.

The sun room connects Holy Redeemer rectory with the church and is accessible through the garden. To reach it, park on Junction and walk past the bell tower to the little garden behind the tower. The walkway in the garden leads to the sun room.

In his remarks to the media and in a homily at a Mass following the briefing, Bishop Flores related Catholic social teaching on the immigration issue with Tuesday’s feast of St. Joseph the Worker.

English and Spanish versions of the statement are available for download at

Statement of Roman Catholic Bishops of Michigan
on Federal Immigration Legislation

April 29, 2007

We, the Roman Catholic Bishops of the state of Michigan, wish to add our voices to the ongoing public debate regarding the rights and responsibilities of immigrants, particularly those of Hispanic descent. As shepherds who understand the needs of our people, we speak in communion with all the Bishops of our nation. We also build on the long-standing social justice tradition of our Church, a tradition which teaches the dignity of every person and our responsibility to work against any injustices which would compromise the dignity of immigrants, especially workers and their families.

For the sake of justice toward immigrant laborers, we propose that the laws of our nation should conform to the following principles:

1. Immigration legislation should permit the prompt reunification of families. Our current immigration system imposes an unbearable burden upon the families of many immigrants. Spouses and minor children of permanent residents working in the United States often wait eight years in order to receive a visa necessary for the reunification of the family. The law itself places workers in the position of having to make an impossible choice: they must choose between immigrating to the United States without documentation and, therefore, without the protection of their rights or working within the legal system but at the expense of an indefinite separation from their families.

2. Immigration legislation should open a path toward the legalization of undocumented workers currently living and working in the United States. The economy of the United States enjoys the benefits of immigrant workers but without providing recognition of their dignity as workers. Legalization should not impose intolerable burdens on workers—such as severe monetary sanctions and family separations.

3. Immigration legislation should create an efficient system for the future entrance of temporary workers as well as permanent legal residents. Justice requires that immigrant workers have the same benefits, salaries, and labor protections enjoyed by other American workers. Immigration reform should facilitate the unity of families and allow workers the possibility of secure movement from the United States to the land of their birth. While the Church recognizes the importance of secure borders, such concerns can be addressed without jeopardizing good and respectful working relationships among employers and employees, whether they are from the United States or from another country.

We invite everyone—Catholics and non-Catholics alike—to take an active part in the promotion of a just and realistic reform of the immigration system in the United States. We ought to make known to our representatives in Congress the urgency of this problem with hopes that they will, this year, arrive at a real solution.

On May 1, we celebrate the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker. We look to Saint Joseph as the husband of Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, the guardian of the child Jesus and a humble laborer, a carpenter. As St. Matthew’s Gospel reminds us, the Holy Family knew firsthand the experience of migrant peoples; they also modeled the dignity of human labor and the sanctity of family living. As we celebrate this feast and many gather around the world to affirm the dignity and rights of workers, in a special way, we join our
voices with those of the Hispanic immigrant workers. We thank God for their presence and gifts, and pledge to work together with all people of goodwill for the recognition of
their civic rights.

His Eminence Adam Cardinal Maida
Most Reverend Patrick R. Cooney Archbishop of Detroit Diocese of Gaylord Most Reverend Walter A. Hurley
Most Reverend James A. Murray Diocese of Grand Rapids
Diocese of Kalamazoo Most Reverend Carl F. Mengeling
Most Reverend Alexander K. Sample Diocese of Lansing
Diocese of Marquette Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson
Diocese of Saginaw

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Malians Complete Elections For President

Monday April 30, 7:16 AM

Polls close in Mali for new president


Voters in Mali cast their ballots Sunday in elections widely tipped to result in triumph for incumbent president Amadou Toumani Toure, despite opposition claims of fraud.

Eight candidates were vying for the top job in one of Africa's vast but impoverished country which has made rare but significant democratic strides in the past decade and a half.

After 10 hours of peaceful balloting, voting stations closed in the west African country's fourth successive democratic presidential vote since the ouster 16 years ago of a dictatorial military regime.

Toure is a former general who ousted dictator Moussa Traore in 1991 and who installed a multi-party system before stepping aside in 1992. Ten years later he returned to the political scene, stood for presidential elections and won eaily.

The 58-year-old does not have a political party but enjoys the backing of two large coalitions and a myriad of small parties, including the Tuareg ex-rebels who once waged a separatist war in the northeast.

Among Toure's rivals in the poll is key opposition figure Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, a former prime minister and head of the national assembly.

"We have had an inkling of fraud, of which we await confirmation," claimed Djiguiba Keita spokesman of the main opposition coalition, the Front for Democracy and the Republic (FDR).

A former cabinet minister and now opposition politician Tiebile Drame of the Party for National Revival (PARENA) claimed "widespread fraud" in the polls, but did not elaborate.

No incident was reported either in the run-up to the elections or during actual polling itself.

Some 1,000 poll observers were posted across the vast 1,2 million square kilometres (478,800 square miles) partly desert country locked in heart of west Africa.

Casting his ballot, Toure urged peaceful polling.

"My wish is that the elections go well, that Malians vote peacefully and freely," he said.

Turnout was high in the first few hours of voting but slowed mainly due to searing heat, according to polling officers.

"The general impression is that voter abstention was slightly less this year than in preceding two rounds," said Gerard Latortue, Haiti's former Prime Minister who is heading the OIF organisation of French speaking countries team of observers, told AFP.

"All has gone well according to what our teams have observed, no incident has been reported," said Latortue.

National electoral commission chief Fodie Toure expected voter turnout to be better than in 2002.

Observers has earlier feared the vote could be marked by voter apathy after fewer than two-thirds of the roughly 6.8 million eligible voters bothered to collect their electoral cards.

Summing up the mood of relaxed ambivalence, taxi driver Camara said voting "serves no purpose ... because democracy is now well established in this country."

In the last elections in 2002 and 1997, voter turnout in the former French colony fell under 25 percent.

Around 600,000 Malians in the diaspora also voted.

First results were expected to start trickling in Monday but full results should be ready around Wednesday or Thursday, given the huge size of the country, which lies on the edge of the Sahara desert.

Despite being the third largest gold-producer in Africa after South Africa and Ghana, Mali is the world's third poorest country, according to the United Nations.

The majority of its 13.5 million people live in rural areas.

Mali gained independence from France in 1960, and was led by president Modibo Keita until he was overthrown in 1968 by Traore, who ruled for 23 years.

Mali votes to elect new president

Voters in Mali have been to the polls in presidential elections contested by eight candidates.

President Amadou Toumani Toure - who is seeking a second and final five-year term - was seen as a clear favourite.

Although officially running as an independent, he was backed by more than 30 parties in the West African nation.

Opposition candidates say the voters' list favours the incumbent, accusing Mr Toure's supporters of using state assets to fund his electoral campaign.

The strongest opposition challenger is Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, the president of Mali's national assembly and former prime minister who came third in the 2002 poll.

Early results are not expected until Monday.

Cotton farmers

Part of Mr Toure's popularity stems from the fact that he played a leading role in ending military dictatorship with a coup 16 years ago, says the BBC's West Africa correspondent Will Ross.

Turnout was expected to be low as many voters did not picked up their registration cards.

Mali is Africa's third largest gold producer but the vast majority of the country's 14 million people live off the land, our correspondent says.

The plight of the cotton farmers had been a key election issue, he says.

Analysts hope the elections will go some way to boost democracy in the region, especially after the widely criticised polls in Nigeria, our correspondent says.

One African human rights organisation has said that democracy seems to be losing steam.

If no candidate gets an absolute majority in the first round, the two top candidates will compete in a run-off in two week's time.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/04/29 20:03:19 GMT

Monday April 30, 2:16 AM

Mali votes for new president


Malians voted on Sunday in presidential elections expected to hand the incumbent a second five-year term and boost the poverty-stricken west African country's democratic credentials.

After nearly 10 hours of peaceful balloting voting stations were due to close in the west African country's fourth successive democratic presidential vote since the ouster 16 years ago of a dictatorial military regime.

Amadou Toumani Toure, who won praise for restoring civilian rule after he led a military takeover in the early 1990s, is seeking a new term as an independent candidate.

The former general ousted dictator Moussa Traore in 1991 and installed a multi-party system before stepping aside in 1992. Ten years later he stood for presidential elections and won hands down.

Toure, 58, does not have a political party but enjoys the backing of two large coalitions and a myriad of small parties, including the Tuareg ex-rebels who once waged a separatist war in the northeast.

He is facing seven other candidates, the most credible being key opposition figure Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, a former prime minister and head of the national assembly.

For the first time in the history of this mainly Muslim country a female candidate is among the presidential hopefuls. Sidibe Aminata Diallo, 50, is a professor in town planning at the university of Bamako and has previously worked for UNESCO.

A former cabinet minister and now opposition politician Tiebile Drame of the Party for National Revival (PARENA) claimed "widespread fraud" in the polls, but did not elaborate.

Toure had earlier urged peaceful polling as he cast his ballot at an airforce school in the capital Bamako.

"My wish is that the elections go well, that Malians vote peacefully and freely," he said.

Turnout was high in the first few hours of voting in the capital but slowed mainly due to searing heat, according to polling officers.

"All has gone well according to what our teams have observed, no incident has been reported," said former Haitian prime minister Gerard Latortue, an observer with the OIF organisation of French-speaking countries.

National electoral commission chief Fodie Toure expected voter turnout to be better than in 2002.

"In 2002 we had a turnout rate of between 10 and 15 percent by midday, (but) this year we have exceeded that," he told AFP without providing details.

Observers fear the election could be marked by voter apathy after fewer than two-thirds of the roughly 6.8 million eligible voters bothered to collect their identification cards.

Summing up the mood of relaxed ambivalence, taxi driver Camara said voting "serves no purpose ... because democracy is now well established in this country."

In the last elections in 2002 and 1997, voter turnout in the former French colony fell under 25 percent.

Some 19,000 polling stations had been set up in this vast, partly desert African country.

Around 600,000 Malians living outside the country, half of them in nearby Ivory Coast, are taking part in the vote, officials said.

More than 1,000 international observers were present for the vote.

Final results are expected on Wednesday or Thursday.

Despite being the third largest gold-producer in Africa after South Africa and Ghana, Mali is the world's third poorest country, according to the United Nations.

The majority of its 13.5 million people live in rural areas.

Mali gained independence from France in 1960, and was led by president Modibo Keita until he was overthrown in 1968 by Traore, who ruled for 23 years.

Malian Elections on Sunday: Incumbent President Amadou Toumani Toure Expected to Win

Mali heads to the polls

Mali's system of consensus government means Toure has the backing of more than 30 parties

Mali heads to the polls on Sunday to vote in presidential elections in which the incumbent, Amadou Toumani Toure, is expected to win a second five-year term.

Voters will cast their ballots at 20,000 polling stations to choose between eight candidates hoping to be elected leader of the vast and impoverished African country.

Popularly known by his initials "ATT", Toure has centred his campaign on continuing a development programme which has already created roads and basic facilities for remote villages.

"We have not done everything but we have learned over the past five years what is possible," he said on the eve of the vote.

"We can go much further. And if Malians so wish, we would like to do so."

Popular figure

Campaigning has generally been good-humoured and low-key, with battered minibuses doing the rounds and youths hanging off them chanting "ATT" or "IBK", the initials of Toure's main rival and the president of the national assembly, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

Toure first seized power in a 1991 coup and won international acclaim for handing over to an elected president the following year.

Dubbed "The Soldier of Malian Democracy" he then retired from the army and was elected head of state in 2002, maintaining a favourable reputation among donors and investors ever since.


Turnout in Malian elections has traditionally been low due to high levels of illiteracy.

Many voters in some rural areas also have to walk long distances to cast their ballots.

Mali's unusual style of consensus government, under which Toure has the backing of more than 30 political parties, also means many voters feel the outcome is almost inevitable.

But some opposition supporters hope a low turnout may work against the incumbent, forcing the elections to a second round if he fails to win more than 50 percent of the vote.

"ATT has not resolved all the country's problems. There is still a lot of youth unemployment," Cheikh Oumar Kouyate, a 27-year-old, unemployed accountancy graduate, said.

Source: Agencies

Mali voters elect new president

Voters in Mali are going to the polls in presidential elections contested by eight candidates.

President Amadou Toumani Toure - who is seeking a second and final five-year term - is seen as a clear favourite.

Although officially running as an independent, he is backed by more than 30 parties in the West African nation.

Opposition candidates say the voters' list favours the incumbent, accusing Mr Toure's supporters of using state assets to fund his electoral campaign.

The strongest opposition challenger is Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, the president of Mali's national assembly and former prime minister who came third in the 2002 poll.

Cotton farmers

Part of Mr Toure's popularity stems from the fact that he played a leading role in ending military dictatorship with a coup 16 years ago, says the BBC's West Africa correspondent Will Ross.

He says turnout is likely to be low as many voters have not picked up their registration cards.

Nearly 1,000 international and local observers are expected to monitor the polls.

Mali is Africa's third largest gold producer but the vast majority of the country's 14 million people live off the land, our correspondent says.

The plight of the cotton farmers had been a key election issue, he says.

Analysts hope the elections will go some way to boost democracy in the region, especially after the widely criticised polls in Nigeria, our correspondent says.

One African human rights organisation has said that democracy seems to be losing steam.

If no candidate gets an absolute majority in the first round, the two top candidates will compete in a run-off in two week's time.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/04/29 03:26:07 GMT

A Presidential Election That Breaks With Tradition

Inter Press Service (Johannesburg)
April 24, 2007
By Almahady Cissé

When Malians queue to cast ballots in presidential elections Sunday, they will be participating in a poll with a difference: for the first time ever, a woman will be amongst the candidates voters have to choose between.

Sidibé Aminata Diallo is representing the Movement for Environmental Education and Sustainable Development (Rassemblement pour l'éducation à l'environnement et au développement durable). A lecturer and specialist researcher in land management, she teaches at the Faculty of Economic Sciences and Management at the University of Bamako, Mali's capital.

"I want to develop policies that leave behind theoretical debates to deal concretely with the real problems of Malians," she told IPS, noting that while environmental degradation in Mali was serious, it had been "only marginally raised in electoral debates".

"My motivation stems from this indifference. Our development must be based on balanced ecosystems," Diallo added. "Mali will have to make important environmental choices during the next five years, taking into account the fragility of its ecosystem in the regions of the north as well as in the south."

Her priorities include halting deforestation in the vast West African country, of which large parts -- particularly in the north -- are already desert. Campaigning under the slogan 'Development must be sustainable for present and future generations', Diallo also wants to push for policies that promote renewable energy sources, research alternative ways of dealing with urban pollution -- and improve health conditions.

It's a strategy that isn't winning over everyone.

"She just wants to get herself noticed, and perhaps win a Nobel Prize for her defence of the environment," says Aliou Koné, a young, unemployed law graduate in Bamako -- possibly in reference to Kenyan politician Wangari Maathai, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her efforts to protect human rights and the environment.

"We want concrete proposals from her on unemployment and poverty. The environment comes after all this."

Diallo may not even be able to count on a constituency that some could assume was hers for the taking: women.

For the moment, the Co-ordinated Women's Associations and NGOs of Mali (Coordination des associations et ONG féminines du Mali, CAFO) is providing her with limited support -- this after she pledged to promote women's rights if elected, in addition to working for protection of the environment.

"It's the first time in Mali that a woman is aspiring to the top office," Fatim Maïga, in charge of gender issues at CAFO, told IPS, noting that for "symbolic reasons" and because she'd taken up the challenge, Aminata Diallo deserved the support of women.

But Coulibaly Fanta Kéita, another CAFO activist, is sceptical about Diallo's chances: "Malian women, for the most part, will vote for the outgoing president, Amadou Toumani Touré, because of what he has done for women -- notably (introducing) free Caesarean deliveries, anti-retrovirals and low cost housing."

Some 10,000 people now receive anti-retroviral treatment (estimates on the website of the Joint United Nations Programme for HIV/AIDS put the number of adults infected with HIV in Mali at about 110,000). Under Touré, who hopes to return to office for a second five-year term, about 3,500 low cost housing units have been built.

Kéita forms part of a group of women that organised collections amongst women to pay Touré's election registration fee of about 20,000 dollars.

In addition to overcoming scepticism, Diallo also has to do battle with custom.

"Mali is a patriarchal society, and men take a dim view of women having positions of leadership and responsibility. (But) it's just a question of time (before) attitudes change," Alhassane Maïga, a sociologist based in Bamako, told IPS.

"Before, it was inconceivable to send girls to school. But we have today, in Mali, women managers, heads of business, ministers, and even heads of households."

Notes Ousmane Coulibaly, a politician and member of the Alliance for Democracy and Progress (Alliance pour la démocratie et le progrès), "This (Diallo's candidacy) shows the maturity of our democracy. A woman president, for me, could be a good thing."

"We must reckon with women (being part of the political process) from now on."

The Alliance is supporting Touré, even though the president is running as an independent.

Eight candidates will contest the Apr. 29 election. In the event that none wins a majority of votes in this poll, a second ballot will take place May 13 between the two candidates who obtain the highest number of votes in the first round of polling.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

American & British Governments Say They Will Work With Nigerian President-Elect Umaru Musa Yar'Adua

UK,US: We’ll Support Yar’Adua

Nigeria ThisDay

Britain and the United States of America at the weekend indicated their readiness to work with the President-elect, Umaru Musa Yar'Adua to foster the country's development.

While Britain spoke through the leader of its House of Lords, Baroness Valerie Amos, the United States in a statement by the Department of States stated that it is "prepared to work with Nigeria's next administration in building upon our excellent bilateral relations and to continue the promotion of peace and security throughout Africa."

Amos, at a lecture titled "Better Future in Africa," organised by the Oxford and Cambridge Club of Nigeria in Lagos said: "Nigerians should not expect a perfect election, but what is important is that the country is moving forward in terms of democratic development.''

She advised Nigerians to always think positively of their elected leaders.

Amos, who is also a cabinet minister, said the British Government had been collaborating with African leaders, particularly in the strengthening of the education sector in the various countries.

"If we think we can put money into the development of the education sector of some African countries that we consider should be able to effectively access them, the British Government would certainly go for it," she said.

To this end, she identified Tanzania as one of the beneficiaries of such funding. The baroness, however, advised African leaders to focus more on education. "Do as best as you can to educate your people," she advised.

The US statement, entitled "Nigeria's Elections'', was signed by the State Department's deputy spokesman Tom Casey and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York on Saturday.

"We also look forward to helping it implement international recommendations for improving the preparation, administration and conduct of future elections in Nigeria," it said.

It, however, expressed regrets that Nigeria missed an opportunity to strengthen an element of its democracy through "a sound electoral process''.

"Analysis of the process by most international observers does not conform to what Nigeria's national electoral commission has reported and there are credible reports of malfeasance and vote rigging in some constituencies," it added.

"The scope of violence that occurred also was regrettable.

Overall, the process was seriously flawed. In spite of these significant shortcomings, the commitment of ordinary Nigerians to democracy remains noteworthy.''

The U.S. government praised those Nigerians who adhered to the democratic process by exercising their right to vote.

It, therefore, urged all Nigerians to eschew violence or any other extra-constitutional actions that would foster insecurity and hamper political dialogue.

"We also commend those political party leaders who are urging their supporters to remain calm and peaceful notwithstanding disappointment with the conduct of the election,'' the statement stated.

"A peaceful, constitutional, and civilian-controlled resolution of challenges to the electoral results is vital for the growth of democracy in Nigeria.

"Whatever the outcome of legal challenges to the electoral results, we are encouraged that on May 29 Nigeria will experience its first civilian-to-civilian transfer of power," he said.

The US government's official position as represented by the State Department's statement contradicted the campaign by Senator Russ Feingold, Chairman of Foreign Relations Sub-committee on Africa that want Nigeria's Yar'Adua not to be recognised by the US.

Senator Feingold in a statement released to the media by his office yesterday said “Obasanjo’s leadership over the last eight years has been called into question by the failure of efforts to reform Nigeria’s electoral system and combat political corruption.

"The Administration should not legitimise this election as doing so would undermine our commitment to good governance and transparency, and to building strong democracies,.

“What could have been an historic election in Nigeria was instead a disappointing repeat of the past. Nigerian polls were marred by widespread reports of fraud, irregularities, intimidation, and violence.

“I commend the hard work of international and local monitors, who rejected this election and recognised the numerous flaws that have undermined any credible democratic process,” the Senator said.

President-elect to form unity govt

From Alifa Daniel and Nkechi Onyedika, Abuja
Nigerian Guardian

THE president-elect, Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, may not have used the words, but his mood was that of "no victor, no vanquished."

Though he may not have received congratulatory messages from his co-contestants on his victory, he was optimistic last night that some would reach out to him soon, while he too hoped to do the same.

The president-elect has also pledged to form a government of national unity.

At a world press conference yesterday in Abuja, Yar'Adua, who was flanked by party officials, some out-going governors and governors-elect, described the election and his victory as a most historic day in the nation's democratic journey. He observed that in accepting the people's verdict, he was most humbled and challenged by the enormous responsibility bestowed on him.

Beaming with smiles and egged on by an applauding group of public office holders and jobbers, Yar'Adua stressed that with God on his side and the unequivocal support of Nigerians, his administration would make a remarkable success.

Before Yar'Adua entered the conference hall of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) headquarters, Legacy House, and as the rains poured, the Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Dora Akunyili, declared: "Who says God is not God? At the end of the day, our labours were not in vain."

Yar'Adua extended hands of fellowship to opponents who contested the election with him, urging them to forget their differences and join hands with him to build a proud and great nation.

His words: "The contest has come and gone, so must our differences be over in the course of building our dear nation. I wish to thank my opponents in the presidential election. You are all respected Nigerians and leaders in your own right. I do believe that your participating in the exercise was driven by a strong faith in Nigeria and your belief that you have what it takes to move Nigeria to the next level. And, I want all Nigerians belonging to other political parties to join hands with the PDP to work hard in order to move this country ahead. We have a great task, and we need all hands on deck."

He commended Nigerians and party faithful, stressing that their commitment, courage and abiding faith in the Nigeria project made his victory possible.

He said: "On behalf of the Vice President-elect and I, I express our profound gratitude to all Nigerians for their unprecedented support expressed through their votes as released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) cutting across all barriers, ethnic, religious, political, age and gender. It is our utmost hope that this translates into sustained support for our dream of national development."

Yar'Adua urged all Nigerians to join hands with his administration to put the country on a solid foundation which, he said, the present administration had laid towards achieving the collective goal of leaving for the future generation a Nigeria that is better, stronger, more peaceful, more secure and more prosperous.

The president-elect pledged that his government would tackle the Niger Delta issue in a holistic manner by embarking on overall development of the region, in conjunction with all stakeholders in the area as well as address all criminal activities throughout the country.

Yar'Adua pledged to discharge his duty with utmost responsibility and sense of duty, adding that he would be guided by absolute adherence to the Nigerian Constitution and the manifesto of the ruling PDP.

On the proposed protest by the opposition members who have rejected the results of the election, Yar'Adua said: " I have not heard of any protests across the length and breath of the country, so it is really not for me. I did not conduct the election. People have their own opinions; everybody expressed an opinion; other people believe this is one of the best elections this country ever conducted. Opinions differ and we are having a democracy and everybody and anybody, individuals and groups are free to express their opinion. That is what I think."

Several bottles of champagne and wine were brought into the conference hall after the president-elect concluded his briefing.

Victorious Yar'Adua Reaches Out to Opposition

The Nation (Nairobi)
April 24, 2007

By Njeri Rugene

Nigerian President-elect Umaru Musa Yar'Adua has extended an olive branch to his two bitter rivals and announced plans to form a government of national unity.

Referring to key opposition rivals Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku Abubakar as "my gracious brothers" the soft spoken devout Muslim said his ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had a history of working with other parties in a government of national unity, and he was calling upon the losers to join his new administration.

"The contest has come and gone. So should our differences. You are all respectable and respected leaders of Nigeria. You have what it takes to move Nigeria to the next level of development. With the elections now behind us, I urge you to join hands with us as we seek to build our country," he said.

His gesture of reaching out to the opposition was widely seen as a move to assert his independence, in the face of criticism he would be an Obasanjo puppet.

The 56-year-old outgoing Katsina governor has in many occasions during the campaigns been forced to shrug off the criticism, arguing he was his own man and he intended to remain as such through out his four year term.

At the news conference he called on Monday night to thank Nigerians for giving him "this unprecedented support" Mr Yar'Adua appealed to Nigerians to allow for a healing process, to cure the country from major politically instigated ethnic and political differences in the last few years.

"Our collective goal is to leave a legacy - to build a prosperous, secure and better Nigeria for our children. We have a great task ahead and we need all hands, " he said, acknowledging that the task of leading Nigeria was "an enormous responsibility."

AC Sweeps Polls in Lagos

Daily Champion (Lagos)
April 24, 2007

ACTION Congress (AC) swept the National Assembly election yesterday as it won all the 18 Federal Constituencies seats and the only senatorial seat declared.

Announcing the result, the Independent National Electoral Commission Resident Electoral Commission (REC), Mr. Solomon Adedeji Soyebi, said Senator Olorunimbe Adeleke Mumora won the Lagos East senatorial seat with 117,124 votes while Senatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Lanre Rasaq, came second with 92,949.

However, election to the House of Representatives in seven Federal Constituencies are to be rerun on Thursday.

According to Mr Soyebi, House of Representatives election in Ifako-Ijaiye was cancelled for the non inclusion of the name of the Democratic Peoples Alliacne (DPA) candidate's name and their party logo on the ballot paper.

He said the election would be held on Thursday together with those of Etiosa, Ibeju-Lekki, Kosofe, Ojo, and Amuwo-Odofun, stressing that the elections could not hold inthose councils due to the omission of parties logos or candidates' names or both.

He said the senatorial election in Lagos West and central would also hold on Thursday.

While adjudging the exercise as successful and violence free, the REC insisted that those parties or candidates that felt aggrieved with outcome of the election, should fee free to go to the Election Petition Tribunal.

However, the agent of the PDP , Chief Babatinde Daramola said the party would issue a statement after collating the results obtained from the entire wards in Lagos by their agents, stressing that they would contest the governorship election at the Election Petition Tribunal.

Atiku Remains VP

Daily Champion (Lagos)
April 24, 2007
By Malachy Uzendu

Supreme Court yesterday ruled that President Olusegun Obasanjo has no constitutional powers to remove Vice-President Atiku Abubakar except by a method prescribed by the constitution.

The court also ruled that Alhaji Abubakar shall complete his tenure and only vacate office on May 29, 2007 .The court in arriving at the verdict also dismissed federal government's appeal against Atiku's continued stay in office and affirmed the earlier decision of the Court of Appeal which had declared that neither the President nor the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has the power to declare Atiku's seat vacant.

Full panel of seven justices of the apex court in a lead judgment presented by Justice Olufemi Akintan said that it has no powers to remove Atiku whom it maintained can only be impeached by the National Assembly or through other constitutionally prescribed means.

Justice Akintan's lead judgment was read by Justice Ikechi Ogbuagu yesterday. Owing to the absence of Justice Akintan from the court for undisclosed reasons.

To arrive at this judgment, the court noted that the office of the Vice President was creation of the 1999 constitution, stressing that the appointment/removal of a serving Vice President was specified under the constitution.

Justice Akintan stated that despite political party affiliation, both the Vice President and the president should maintain the same (official) relationship while their tenure lasted. "I believe that the President and the Vice should maintain the same relationship through out their duration. The (Atiku's) term has not expired and he (Atiku) can not be removed from office except by impeachment by the National Assembly" "I hereby dismiss the appeal and affirm the judgment of the court below" Justice Akintan and other justices ruled concurrently.

By this verdict, the protracted legal tussle over Atiku's seat, had been laid to rest paving way for him to join the Action Congress (AC) from his former party the PDP and still remain in office with the president with whom he went into office in the same party.

Atiku's continued stay in office as Vice-President became controversial sequel to his defection from ruling PDP to the Action Congress (AC) through which he contested the April 21 presidential poll .Reacting to the judgment yesterday, Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN), leading counsel to the Vice President expressed gratitude to the court stating that the decision vindicated the position of his client ."The judgment has vindicated our client.

The Supreme Court declared that it has no powers to order him out of office, " he stated.

On the other hand, Mr. Bankole Akomolafe from Afe Babalola
(SAN) chambers, who are counsel to the federal government in the matter said that both the court and the parties counsel did their best in determining the position of law in that respect.

Immediately Atiku decamped to the AC, government moved to remove him through the statements credited to Mallam Uba Sani, the president's Special Adviser on Public Affairs, promoting the Vice-President to run to the court seeking an interpretation of the constitutional interpretation on his tenure of office.

Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi Cautions West About Sudan

Gaddafi cautions West over Darfur

By Salah Sarrar
April 28, 2007

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi cautioned the West on Saturday over involvement in the standoff in Sudan's western Darfur region and restated his opposition to international peacekeepers.

Gaddafi made the remarks as he welcomed international envoys to Libya for talks on Darfur, where four years of fighting between rebels, government forces and Arab Janjaweed militia have killed at least 200,000 people and displaced some 2.5 million, creating one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

"My advice to the world, after this conference and finding solutions to the issue, is to ignore the disputing parties if they don't respond to these solutions," Gaddafi told the envoys from the United Nations, African Union (AU), United States and a string of Western and African countries.

"I call on (the world) not to finance them materially and to stop supporting them and not to send international forces," he said as he received the officials in his home town of Sirte.

Gaddafi styles himself as an African nationalist seeking African solutions to the continent's problems without relying on the West. His opposition to international peacekeepers is strongly at odds with the stance of the United States, which blames Sudan for what it says is genocide in Darfur.

Along with Britain, Washington demands Sudan accept a combined AU and United Nations force of more than 20,000 troops and police or face international sanctions that could include a complete arms embargo.

So far Khartoum has agreed to accept just 3,500 U.N. military and police personnel on top of the existing AU force of about 5,000 that is badly overstretched.


After meeting Gaddafi in Sirte, about 310 miles east of Tripoli, delegates returned to a hotel in the capital and began talks there late on Saturday chaired by Libya's Africa minister Ali Treiki.

A Western diplomat said the talks would leave aside the divisive peacekeeping issue and focus on trying to bring together a welter of separate initiatives on Darfur in "a process vigorously led by the AU and the U.N."

Political progress has been made much harder by the fact the Darfur rebels themselves are split. A peace deal in May last year was signed by only one of three rebel factions.

Treiki said a mechanism was needed to first bring together the neighboring countries affected by the conflict -- Sudan, Libya, Chad and Eritrea -- and then the Sudanese factions which had not signed the peace deal.

He said a meeting with the parties that had not signed should happen in the next three weeks, without specifying where.

In his earlier comments, Gaddafi was critical of the rebels.

"I see that the rebel side in the region is the one which endeavors to implicate the world in this issue," he said. "It is not in the interest of the world to intervene in an issue in which one of the parties doesn't want a solution."

The Darfur conflict has spilled over into Chad, which is housing some 200,000 refugees. Libya has been trying to broker a peace deal between Sudan and Chad. The two countries support each other's rebels.

The Tripoli talks, due to end on Sunday, bring together special Darfur envoys from the U.N., AU, the United States, European Union and Britain, and ministers or officials from Sudan, Eritrea, Chad, Egypt, France, Canada, Norway and Russia.

(Writing and additional reporting by Mark Trevelyan)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Somalia News: Battles Rage in Mogadishu; Thousands Flee

Battles rage in Somalia

27 April 2007

MOGADISHU--Ethiopian tanks supporting the Somali government pounded insurgent positions in Mogadishu yesterday in an escalation of the nine-day offensive and the prime minister said "most fighting" was over.

Ali Mohamed Gedi said allied Somali-Ethiopian troops were now working to clear "pockets of resistance" in a second week of fighting, which locals say has killed some 300 people, mostly civilians, and emptied large parts of the city.

"Most of the fighting in Mogadishu is now over. The government has captured a lot of territory where the insurgents were," Gedi told a news conference.

Artillery and machinegun fire could still be heard in northern parts of the devastated coastal capital.

Gedi urged clan militia and foreign jihadists in fighting the government, to return home and stay there until his administration could incorporate them into a new national army.
Friday, April 27, 2007

Ethiopian Shells Hit Mogadishu

By Salad Duhul
The Associated Press

MOGADISHU, Somalia -- Ethiopian tanks and artillery shelled an insurgent stronghold in northern Mogadishu on Thursday, as cease-fire talks floundered and rumors spread that a top Islamic rebel had arrived in the capital.

The heavy-weapons fire was in support of Somali government troops attempting to clear insurgents from a neighborhood known for housing Islamic radicals. A missile slammed through the roof of a nearby children's hospital packed with wounded civilians late Wednesday.

Leaders from the Hawiye clan were expected to meet again Thursday with Ethiopian army officers to negotiate a cease-fire. A clan leader who attended the meeting said the Ethiopian officers wanted the elders to hand over fighters from the Council of Islamic Courts military wing, the Shabab.

The Shabab, which the United States accuses of having ties to al-Qaida, has taken credit for a string of suicide bombings against Ethiopian troops.

The leader who attended the meeting, but asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the talks, said the elders denied any knowledge about the Shabab or al-Qaida suspects believed to be in the country.

Meanwhile, bodyguards linked to a top Islamic extremist, Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, arrived in Mogadishu on Wednesday, sparking rumors that Aweys and other Shabab leaders were leading the fighting against the Somali and Ethiopian troops.

Most members of the courts' leadership have either fled the country, or been in hiding since Ethiopia intervened in December to prop up the government.

The shell that hit the children's hospital on Wednesday exploded in a ward housing 20 to 30 wounded adults, said Wilhelm Huber, regional director for SOS Children's Villages.

The children had been evacuated earlier when shells hit the compound, Huber said.

Five missiles hit the grounds in the lunchtime attack, but only one hit a ward, Huber said. He said people were injured, but he did not have details due to the chaotic situation.

"What is happening now cannot go on," he said from Nairobi, Kenya, where he is based. He said he did not believe the hospital had been deliberately targeted, but that the shell clearly had come from government forces because of the direction of the missiles.

"People are desperate," Huber said. "This is a tragic situation."

Somali government officials were not immediately available for comment.

The Council of Islamic Courts ruled much of southern Somalia for six relatively peaceful months in 2006 before being ousted by Somali troops and their Ethiopian allies, along with U.S. special forces. Radicals in the council rejected a secular government and have been accused of having ties to al-Qaida.

Rights groups say more than 350 people have been killed in eight straight days of fighting.

The United Nations says more than 340,000 of Mogadishu's 2 million residents have fled since February.

Thousands flee as shelling by Ethiopian tanks kills hundreds of civilians in Somali capital

Chris McGreal, Africa correspondent
Friday April 27, 2007

The Somali capital Mogadishu suffered some of the heaviest bombardment in nine days of fighting yesterday, as Ethiopian tanks supporting the interim government shelled new areas of the city despite a claim by the Somali prime minister to have routed Islamist insurgents.

The Ethiopian assault has killed several hundred people, many of them civilians harmed by indiscriminate shelling that has destroyed homes and shops, and forced tens of thousands to flee the city as it spread to previously relatively peaceful parts of Mogadishu. Corpses lie scattered on the streets because it is too dangerous to collect them.

More than 1,000 people were killed in an earlier round of fighting last month. More than a third of the civilian population - some 340,000 people - have fled in the past three months.

The UN humanitarian affairs chief, Sir John Holmes, yesterday accused all those involved of war crimes.

"The rules of humanitarian law are being flouted by all sides ... all factions are equally guilty of indiscriminate violence in a civilian area," he said. "Civilians in Mogadishu are paying an intolerable price for the absence of political progress and dialogue and the failure of all parties to abide by the rules of warfare."

Refugees are camped on the outskirts of the city, with water, food and medicine growing scarcer. About 600 have died of cholera and other diseases.

"At least half the capital is deserted, slowly turning it into a ghost city," the UN refugee agency said.

The interim Somali government said the 20,000-strong Ethiopian force fighting on its behalf, with 5,000 Somali troops playing a lesser role, will keep up the offensive until fighters with the Council of Islamic Courts are defeated. The council ruled Mogadishu and much of southern Somalia for six months last year until overthrown by the Ethiopian army with US backing.

Somalia's prime minister, Ali Mohamed Gedi, yesterday claimed to have defeated the Islamist forces. "We have won the fighting against the insurgents," he told Associated Press. "Most of the fighting in Mogadishu is now over. The government has captured a lot of territory where the insurgents were."

But critics say Somalia has become a battleground for Ethiopia's foreign agenda and Washington's "war on terror" that will do little to bring long term stability.

The Islamic Courts government was popular in Mogadishu after bringing relative order and driving out clan warlords responsible for 16 years of death and mayhem. But the US believed it looked too much like the Taliban, with its ban on music and dancing and the qat narcotic, and that it was sympathetic to al-Qaida.

Washington encouraged the Ethiopian military - at the "invitation" of Somalia's interim national government which was so unpopular it was unable to remain in Mogadishu - to invade and oust the Islamic Courts administration. The new Somali government includes some of the warlords who previously caused so much destruction.

A report by the Royal Institute of International Affairs said that US and Ethiopian strategic interests in supporting a weak and factionalised government that is far less popular than the Islamic Courts administration are an obstacle, not a contribution, to rebuilding Somalia.

"In an uncomfortably familiar pattern, genuine multilateral concern to support the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Somalia has been hijacked by unilateral actors - especially Ethiopia and the United States," it said.

As always in Somalia, the conflict is also being driven by money through weapons smuggling and business interests.

Ethiopian forces were to have been replaced by African Union peacekeepers, but only 1,200 of the AU's promised 8,000 troops have arrived in Somalia.

Somalia: Ethiopian forces intercept weapons

Thu. April 26, 2007 02:31 pm.
By Mohamed Abdi Farah

(SomaliNet) The Ethiopian forces in Beledwein, provincial capital of Hiran region in central Somalia intercepted two trucks carrying weapons towards the capital, Mogadishu, sources say on Thursday.

Witnesses say that the Ethiopian forces stationed in Janda-Kundishe checkpoint, outside of Beledwein confiscated the weapons including explosives like anti-tanks mines.

It is still unclear whether the weapons were for sale or they wre sent to insurgents fighting in the capital with the Ethiopians.

It is the second time the Ethiopian forces in the region sized illegal weapons.

SOMALIA: Kismayo fighting forces civilians to flee camps

Internally displaced people are all along the road leading to the port city of Kismayo

NAIROBI, 24 April 2007 (IRIN) - Fighting between different clans serving in Somali's interim government in the port city of Kismayo had forced displaced persons living in camps to flee again, sources said.

Many internally displaced families in the Faanole neighbourhood of the city abandoned their camps as fighting broke out on Monday. Some set up temporary shelters away from the area and others headed towards the Kenyan border. At least 25 people reportedly died in the town.

Kismayo is 500km south of the capital, Mogadishu. A local journalist, who declined to be named, said the Majeerteen militia - of President Abdullahi Yusuf’s Darod sub-clan - had been pushed out of the city by the Marehan - also of the Darod sub-clan, to which the Defence Minister Barre Hiirale belongs - and was now camped outside the city.

However, Ahmed Abdi Umar, the deputy governor of Lower Juba - of which Kismayo is the regional capital - downplayed the displacement. Many people, he added, were already returning home, adding that no displaced people had gone towards the Kenyan border. "They moved to other areas within the city for safety," he said.

According to other sources, tension had been building between the two groups over power-sharing within the administration. "It just boiled over yesterday [Monday]," said a business source. The two groups, he added, had been forced to merge into one army unit, but later disintegrated into clan militias.

Muhammad Ahmed, a local journalist, said Kismayo was still tense. Many businesses had not opened for business on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Mogadishu entered the sixth day of fighting between Ethiopian-backed government troops and insurgents on Tuesday.

The fighting occurred mostly in the north of the city, according to a local source. He said shelling by Ethiopian and government forces on the north Mogadishu neighbourhoods of Jamhuriya and Towfiiq, insurgent strongholds, was continuing.

The insurgents comprise the remnants of the Union of Islamic Courts and Hawiye (the dominant clan in the city) militias, who are opposed to the transitional government and the presence of Ethiopian forces.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday called for an end to the violence in Somalia.

"The Secretary-General is gravely concerned about the continuing heavy fighting in Mogadishu, which has reportedly killed more than 250 people and forced more than 320,000 from their homes in the past six days alone," spokeswoman Michèle Montas told reporters in New York.

All parties to the conflict and the international community must work to initiate an all-inclusive peace process to avoid clan warfare in south-central Somalia.

Ban called on the parties to "immediately cease all hostilities and to facilitate access for the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian assistance", renewing his call for an urgent resumption of political dialogue.

Separately, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) urged the UN Security Council and the international community to work for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Mogadishu to secure humanitarian access to displaced populations.

"All parties to the conflict and the international community must work to initiate an all-inclusive peace process to avoid clan warfare in south-central Somalia," NRC’s International Director, Jens Mjaugedal said ahead of a Council meeting on Somalia due on Tuesday.

A Tribute to Dr. Kwame Nkrumah on the 35th Anniversary of His Transition

A Tribute To Kwame Nkrumah On The 35th Anniversary of His Death

By Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor
Pan-African News Wire

Editorial Review, April 27,(PANW)--Twenty-six years ago today in 1972, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the founder and leader of the African independence movement and the foremost advocate of Pan-Africanism during his time, died in Bucharest, Romania after a long bout with cancer. Nkrumah was the first head of state of an independent post-colonial nation in Africa south of the sahara, after he led the nation of Ghana to its national liberation under the direction of the Convention Peoples Party in 1957.

Educated at the Historically Black College of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, Nkrumah became involved in the Pan-African movement in the United States during the 1930s and 1940s as a leading member of the African Students Association (ASA), the Council on African Affairs (CAA) as well as other organizations. After leaving the United States at the conclusion of World War II in 1945, he played a leading role in the convening of the historic Fifth Pan-African Congress in Manchester, England-a gathering which is credited with laying the foundation for the mass struggles for independence during the 1940s and 1950s.

It was during his stay in England between 1945-47, that he collaborated with George Padmore of Trinidad, a veteran activist in the international communist movement and a journalist who wrote extensively on African affairs.

Nkrumah was offered a position with the United Gold Coast
Convention (UGCC) as an organizer in late 1947 and made a critical
decision to return to the Gold Coast (later known as Ghana) to assist in the anti-colonial struggle that was intensifying in the aftermath of World War II.

After being imprisoned with other leaders of the UGCC for
supposedly inciting unrest among WWII veterans, workers and farmers in the colony, he gained widespread popularity among the people who responded enthusiastically to his militant and fiery approach to the burgeoining anti-imperialist movement. After forming the Committee on Youth Organization (CYO) which became the best organized segment of the UGCC, Nkrumah was later isolated from the top leadership of the Convention, who objected to his demands for immediate political independence for the Gold Coast.

On June 12, 1949, Nkrumah and the CYO formed the Convention Peoples Party in Accra at a mass gathering of tens of thousands of people, who were prepared to launch a mass struggle for the abolition of British colonial rule in the Gold Coast. During this same period, Nkrumah formed links with other anti-colonial and Pan-African organizations that were operating in the other colonies of west Africa. When the CPP called for a Positive Action Campaign in early 1950, leading to massive strikes and rebellion throughout the colony, he was imprisoned by the colonial authorities for sedition. However, the executive members of the CPP continued to press for the total independence of the colony, eventually creating the conditions for a popular election in 1951, that the CPP won overwhelmingly.

In February of 1951, Nkrumah was released from prison in Ghana and appointed Leader of Government Business in a transitional arrangement that eventually led to the independence of Ghana on March 6, 1957.

At the independence gathering on March 6, Nkrumah declared that the independence of Ghana was meaningless unless it was directly linked with the total liberation of the continent. This statement made by Prime Minister Nkrumah served as the cornerstone of Ghanaian foreign policy during his tenure as leader of the country.

George Padmore became the official advisor on African affairs and was placed in charge of the Bureau of African Affairs, whose task it was to assist other national liberation movements on the continent in their efforts to win political independence.

In April of 1958, the First Conference of Independent African States was convened, with eight nation-states as participants. This gathering broke down the colonially imposed divisions between Africa north and south of the sahara.

Later that same year in December, the first All-African Peoples
Conference was held in Accra, which brought together 62 national liberation movements from all over the continent as well as representation from Africans in the United States. It was at this conference in December of 1958, that Patrice Lumumba of Congo became an internationally recognized leader of the anti-colonial struggle in that Belgian colony.

Challenges of the National Independence Movement

By 1960, the independence movement had gained tremendous influence throughout Africa, resulting in the emergence of many new nation-states on the continent. That same year, Ghana became a republic and adopted its own constitution making Nkrumah the president of the government.

However, there arose fissures within the leadership of the CPP over which direction the new state would take in regard to its economic and social policies. Many of Nkrumah's colleagues who had been instrumental in the struggle for independence, were not committed to his long term goals of Pan-Africanism and Socialism.

Consequently, many of the programmatic initiatives launched by the CPP government were stifled by the class aspirations of many of the state and party officials who were non-committal in regard to a total revolutionary transformation of Ghanaian society and the African continent as a whole. By September of 1961, massive labor unrest occured throughout the country while Nkrumah was travelling in Eastern Europe, which was then allied with the Soviet Union.

In the aftermath of the 1961 crisis, massive purges took place within the CPP against those who were considered to the right of the new government policies related to the adoption of scientific socialism inside the country. Later in August of 1962, an assassination attempt was carried out against Nkrumah in the north of the country, where he was nearly killed by a bomb.

As a result of this incident,a new round of purges took place
where many of those considered as the left wing of the CPP, such as
vice-chairman of the ruling party, Tawio Adamafio, were sacked and later arrested and charged with being co-conspirators in the assassination attempt against Nkrumah. After 1962, the leadership of the CPP became more focused around Nkrumah as a personality while the government moved more towards the adoption of a one- party state model of political control.

These developments were taking place in conjunction with other activities launched by opposition parties, whose strength had been curtailed by the Preventive Detention Act of 1958, that was designed to halt other plots aimed at assassination and destabilization of the new state in the aftermath of independence.

By 1964, the First Republic of Ghana had held an election that mandated the adoption of the one-party state form of government. During this period, the CPP was attempting to restructure the economy of the country from its dependence on trade and investment with the capitalist world.

This proved to be a formidable task due to the legacy of colonialism in the country and the relative weakness of the Soviet Bloc and China in regard to their ability to provide economic assistance to newly
independent African states. Although the realization of an United States of Africa was the principle foreign policy objective of the CPP
government, the majority of African states during this period were not
willing to lessen their ties to the former colonial powers in lieu of
greater linkages with the progressive states on the continent.

Nkrumah in 1963 identified neo-colonialism as the major impediment to the genuine liberation of Africa. At the founding meeting of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, he released his book entitled, "Africa Must Unite", which provided a proposal for the adoption of a continental union government as the only means of countering the development of a new form colonialism on the continent.

At the OAU conference in Egypt during July of 1964, Nkrumah pleaded for the adoption of an United States of Africa by the heads of state. This proposal was not accepted despite the apparent problems associated with the legacy of colonialism on the continent. The Congo crisis and the economic stagnation of many of the newly independent states illustrated that the these nations were not viable as economic and political entities.

At the 1965 OAU Summit held in Accra, many of the head of states from other nations did not attend because of their opposition to the foreign policy of the CPP government. At this conference in late 1965, Nkrumah issued his book entitled, "Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism", which condemned the United States as the principle imperialist power behind the new form of hegemonic rule which was designed to maintain western control over the newly independent states in Africa and throughout the so-called developing world.

This book so infuriated the American government that G.M. Williams, the United States Undersecretary of State for African Affairs wrote a memorandum of protest to Ghana embassy in Washington, D.C. saying that Nkrumah was working in contravention to the interest of the American government in Africa.

Just four months after the release of this book on Neo-Colonialism,
Nkrumah was overthrown by a coup d'etat led by lower level military
officers and police in Ghana. This coup was backed by the American
government and the imperialist world in general, who percieved Nkrumah's policies as a threat to the economic and political interests of the western powers.

Nkrumah was out of the country at the time of the coup, enroute to North Vietnam on a mission to bring about a peace settlement in the United States war against the people of South-east Asia. During a stop over in China, Nkrumah was informed by the governmental officials there that a military and police coup had taken place inside of Ghana.

Aborting his mission to Vietnam, he returned to Africa via the Soviet Union and Egypt,where he eventually settled in Guinea-Conakry. Nkrumah remained in Guinea until he was flown to Romania to undergo treatment for cancer in 1971.

During this period after the coup (1966-1971) he continued to write on the history of Africa and the revolutionary movement for Pan-Africanism and world socialism.

The Contributions of Kwame Nkrumah

Despite the coup against Nkrumah on February 24, 1966 in Ghana, his legacy in Africa and throughout the African world continues. His views on the necessity of coordinated guerrilla warfare to liberate Africa was realized in the sub-continent during the 1970s and 1980s, when the settler-colonial regimes of Rhodesia and eventually South Africa were defeated.

The role of Cuba in the liberation and security of Angola was clearly in line with the notions advocated by Nkrumah, which upheld the view that until settler colonialism was destroyed, the entire continent of Africa would not be secure.

Even though the realization of a United States of Africa is still
far away, this issue continues to be discussed broadly on the continent and in the Diaspora. In Ghana, Nkrumah's legacy was utilized in both a positive and negative manner by the successive regimes that took power after his departure. These regimes are compelled to use his image and legacy, despite their refusal to adopt the CPP program in its totality.

In the United States and throughout the Diaspora, a greater identification with Africa has occured over the last thirty years. The African community in America and the Caribbean played an instrumental role in the solidarity struggle with the national liberation movements in Southern Africa during the 1980s and 1990s. Nkrumah's views on the necessity of African unity have been prophetic in light of the continuing underdevelopment of the continent and the phenomena of domestic neo-colonialism in the United States and the Caribbean.

Consequently, the legacy of Nkrumah is still relevant to the present day struggle of African peoples around the world.

A greater understanding of his ideas and activities can only benefit the present efforts to create an African world that is genuinely independent and self-determined.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah: Opening Address of the First Meeting of the Editorial Board of the Encyclopaedia Africana

PANW Editor's Note: April 27 represents the 35th anniversary of the transition of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the founder of the Convention People's Party and the modern state of Ghana. The following article is reprinted in commemoration of the monumental legacy of President Nkrumah, who is the contemporary architect of Pan-Africanism and a major tactician within the African Revolution.
Speech at the Opening Session of the
First Meeting of the Editorial Board of the
Encyclopaedia Africana

On September 24, 1964 At the University of Ghana
Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah

Distinguished members of the Editorial Board of the Encyclopaedia Africana, Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is a great pleasure and privilege for me to inaugurate this first meeting of the Editorial Board of the Encyclopaedia Africana. The presence on this Board here today of representatives from all parts of the Continent of Africa is yet another token of the African cultural renaissance which is manifesting itself side by side with the political resurgence of the African Continent. I must also confess, distinguished guests, that today I feel a great sense of relief and joy to think that at long last a first significant step has been taken towards the positive realisation and consummation of a long cherished dream.

Years ago, I felt that Africa needs to buttress her unimpeachable claim to political independence with parallel efforts to expose to the world the bases of her rich culture and civilisation through the medium of a scholarly Encyclopaedia. I therefore invited W.E.B. DuBois of blessed memory to come to Ghana to help us establish the framework for this great natural heritage. Dr. DuBois was happy to come to Ghana in the very evening of his life to embark upon this task; he took Ghanaian citizenship, and immediately plunged headlong into the stupendous work of setting out the general aims of this project and securing the interest and support of eminent scholars throughout Africa for its realisation. To him this was an exciting state of affairs to produce such an Encyclopaedia.

It is perhaps not without significance that DuBois should have had to wait until the very sunset of his life to find and receive encouragement and support for this project, not in the abundance of the United States, but rather in an Africa liberated from the cramping and oppressive conditions of colonial rule.

In taking upon ourselves this great responsibility for Africa, we are reminded of an old Roman saying: "Semper aliquid novi ex Africa." Africa had a noble past which astounded even the ancient Roman world with its great surprises. Yet, it was only much later, after a millennium and a half of African history that we are now busily engaged in reconstructing for all the world to know, that racial exploitation and imperialist domination deliberately fostered a new and monstrous mythology of race which nourished the popular but unfounded image of Africa as the "Dark Continent." In other words, a Continent whose inhabitants were without any past history, any contribution to world civilization, or any hope of future development - except by the grace of foreign tutelage!

It is unfortunate that men of learning and men of affairs in Europe and America from a century ago down to yesterday, have spent much valuable time to establish this unscientific and ridiculous notion of African inferiority. A European author declared that "the history of civilization on the continent begins, as concerns its inhabitants, with Mohammedan invasion" and that African is poorer in recorded history than can be imagined.

Even the Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica also declared: "Africa, with the exception of the lower Nile Valley and what is known as Roman Africa is, so far as its native inhabitants are concerned, a continent practically without history and possessing no records from which such history may be conducted ..... the Negro (referring to the black man) is essentially the child of the moment and his memory, both tribal and individual, is very short," And "if Ancient Egypt and Ethiopia be excluded, the story of Africa is largely a record of the doings of its Asiatic and European conquerors and colonizers."

And here I want to sound a note of caution about the term "Negro." I hope that in the record of the Encyclopaedia Africana the term "Negro", whatever meaning or connotation has been given to it, will not find a place, except perhaps in a specific article proving its opprobrious origin and redundancy. I would like that people of African descent and Africans in general should be described as black men, or Africans. I personally would like to be referred to as a black man, African or Ghanaian, not referred to as a "Negro".

It would be long to attempt to survey this field of malicious distortion against Africa. But this would be a useless and unprofitable venture, and I am sure that your Editorial Board would not suffer this pointless waster of valuable time. But listen a while to Leo Frobenius in his Voice of Africa: "The ruins of the mighty past lie slumbering within the bosom of the earth but are glorified in the memory of men who live beneath the sun." He dwells on the "god-like strength of memory in those who lived before the advent of the written word" and he continues: "Every archaeologist can quote examples from the nations of the North. But who would imagine that the Negro Race (here again referring to the black race) of Africa possessed an equally retentive mind for its store of ancient monuments."

It may be argued, however, that this sort of view about Africa is dying out, and we may be accused of whipping a dying horse. It is also true that, particularly in the years since World War II, there has been a marked improvement in much of the writing by non-Africans on Africa and there are today a number of writers and scholars who have made signal contributions to African historiography. Nevertheless, it is to be doubted if the popular image of the so-called Dark Continent has been much affected by the widening horizon of knowledge of Africa. The fact is that the powerful forces which seek to block the advance of the 280 millions of Africans to a place of full equality in the world community and which strive to maintain neo-colonialist or even overt colonial domination and white supremacy rule in Africa, find it in their interest to perpetuate the mythology of racial inferiority.

Thus it is not simple ignorance of Africa, but deliberate disparagement of the continent and its people that Africanists and the Encyclopaedia Africana must contend with. The foulest intellectual rubbish ever invented by man is that of racial superiority and inferiority. We know now, of course, that this distortion and fabrication of the image of man was invented by the apostles of imperialism to salve their conscience and justify their political, cultural and economic domination of Africa.

I understand that through the medium of the Information Report, published periodically by the Encyclopaedia Africana Secretariat, have appeared expressions of support and pledges of co-operation in the work of this great project from numerous eminent scholars. And I am particularly happy that among those who have expressed their endorsement of our work are distinguished scholars in the United States, the Soviet Union, China, India, Britain and other countries outside Africa.

I am sure the members of the Editorial Board share my appreciation of this world-wide support of the idea of an Encyclopaedia Africana. However, it is of course only logical that an encyclopaedia work on Africa should be produced in Africa, under the direction and editorship of Africans, and with the maximum participation of African scholars in all countries.

While I believe that no contribution to the projected Encyclopaedia should be rejected solely and simply because the author happens to be non-African, there are surely valid reasons why the maximum participation of African scholars themselves should be aimed at. Let me illustrate this point with an example from a book published just fifty years ago by George W. Ellis, an Afro-American who served from 1901 to 1910 as Secretary of the United States diplomatic mission in Liberia. From this study came his book, Negro Culture in West Africa, published in 1914. In the Preface to this work Ellis tells how he had sought to widen his knowledge of Africa, before coming to Liberia, by the diligent study of encyclopaedias, geographies, and works of ethnology and anthropology, only to find that much of this information was "unsupported by the facts" and gave a picture "substantially different" from the character of African life which he himself found in West Africa. Acknowledge the services of European authors such as Harry Johnston, Lady Lugard and others, Ellis stated that to him "it seems more necessary and imperative that the African should explain his own culture, and interpret his own thought and soul life, if the complete truth is to be given to the other races of the earth."

But there were already men in West Africa who had blazed a significant trail in this direction: Edward Wilmot Blyden, Joseph Casely Hayford and John Mensah Sarbah. Many other Africans in preceding generations helped to lay the basis of our present efforts to project a new African image of Africa. One thinks of such figures as James Africanus B. Horton and his "A vindication of the African Race". (1868) and of Carl Reindorf, Attoh Ahumah, Anthony William Amu, Samuel Johnson of Oyo, Blaise Diagne, Herbert Macaulay and others in West Africa, of Duse Mohammed Effendi of the Sudan, Lewanika of Barotseland, Apolo Kagwa of Buganda, and leaders such as JohnTengo Jabavu, Solomon T. Plaatje, and Clements Kedalie in South Africa.

And let us not forget the important contributions of others in the New World, for example, the sons of Africa in Haiti such as Antenor Firmin and Dr. Jean Price-Mars, and others in the United States such as Alexander Crummell, Carter G. Woodson and our own Dr. DuBois.

All of those whose names I have mentioned believed in and urged the necessity of writing about Africa from the point of view of African interests and African assumptions and concepts - and not from the point of view of Europeans or others who have quite different interests, assumptions and concepts, whether conscious or unconscious. This is precisely what we mean when we say that the Encyclopaedia Africana must be frankly Afro-centric in its interpretation of African history and of the social and cultural institutions of the African and people of African descent everywhere.

It is to be hoped, therefore, that the work on the Encyclopaedia Africana may provide both the forum and the motivation for the development of a virile and salutary new trend in the writing of African history, writing which will rank in scholarship with any other historiography, but which will also be based upon a frame of reference that is independently African, and will lead the way in independent thinking about Africa and its problems.

I am anxious that I should not be misunderstood in my emphasis on an Afro-centric point of view for the Encyclopaedia Africana. There are some who will say that this implies simply reversing the faults and distortions of the colonialist minded writers on Africa, painting everything white that they pictured as black, and everything black that they pictured as white.

I should like to assure our guests, the members of the Editorial Board, that that is in no sense my conception of what the Encyclopaedia Africana should be. Most certainly it must and will set the record straight on many points of African history and culture. But it will do this not simply on the basis of assertion backed by nothing more than emotion, but rather on the foundation of first-class scholarship linked with the passion for scientific truth.

It will not romanticize or idealize the African past, it will not gloss over African failings weaknesses and foibles, or endeavour to demonstrate that Africans are endowed with either greater virtues or lesser vices that the rest of mankind. There is undoubtedly considerable evidence of much that is noble and glorious in our African past; there is no need to gild the Lily nor to try to hide that which is ignoble. But here again it is a question of whose standards and values you are applying in assessing something as noble or ignoble, and I maintain that the Encyclopaedia Africana must reject non-African value-judgments of things African.

It is true that despite the great advances made during the last twenty years in the various disciplines of African studies, so much of Africa's history has yet to be unearthed, scientifically analysed, and fully comprehended. This sometimes gives rise to the question whether enough is yet known to undertake at this time the compilation of an encyclopaedia of the sort envisaged. Those who entertain such hesitation and doubt only expose the extent of their ignorance about Africa's great past.

Before the colonial era in Africa, Europeans had had many encounters with Africans on the cross-roads of history. They had married into African royal families, received Africans into their courts as ambassadors and social equals, and their writers had depicted African characters as great heroes in their literature. In common with the rest of mankind Africans made extensive use of cereals, they learnt the art of raising cattle, adapted metal tools and weapons to their own use, and, to quote Basil Davidson, "undertook mining and smelting and forging on a continental scale, borrowed crops from other lands, introduced soil conservation, discovered the medicinal value of a host of herbs and plants, and worked out their own explanations of mankind and the universe. All this had happened before the first ships set forth from Europe."

Let me give another quotation even at the risk of boring you, this time from Leo Frobenius again, a well-known historian who made 17 expeditions into Africa, North, East, West and South, in order to learn at first hand of the culture of the African peoples. Frobenius makes a basic statement in his book African Civilisation, which unfortunately has not yet been translated into English. Doubtless, there is reason why no complete translation has yet been made. From a limited translation made by Anna Malise Graves, I quote: "When they, European navigators, arrived in the Gulf of Guinea and landed at Ouidah in Dahomey, the captains were greatly astonished to find streets well laid out, bordered on either side for several leagues with two rows of trees, and men clad in richly coloured garments of their own weaving. Further south in the kingdom of the Congo, a swarming crowd dressed in silk and velvet, great states well ordered and down to the most minute details, powerful rulers, flourishing industries, civilised to the manner of their bones. And the condition of the countries on the eastern coast, Mozambique, for instance, was quite the same. The revelations of the navigators from 15th to the 17th century gave incontrovertible proofs that Africa stretching south from the edge of the Sahara desert was still in full flower - the flower of harmonious and well-ordered civilisations. And this fine flowering the European conquistadors or conquerors annihilated as far as they penetrated into the country."

Indeed, the history of Africa goes back into the dim recesses of time and antiquity. There are even scientists in our time who are beginning to claim that Africa was the very cradle of mankind. The fossil remains of man discovered by Dr. L.S.B. Leakey in Tanganyika have been dated by scientific processes as one and three-quarter million (1,750,000) years old.

From the head waters of the Nile in Tanganyika let us move swiftly to its mouth on the Mediterranean Sea and the Isthmus of Suez where the great civilization of Egypt was fostered for thousands of years down to the Christian era. There, as we all know, man rose to the phenomenal heights of statecraft, science and religion and the excellence of the arts. Evidence from language, religion, astronomy, folklore and divine kinship, as well as geographical and physical proximity, confirms the basic African origin of this Egyptian cultural eminence.

This great flowering of the mind in Africa was unfortunately scorched by the ravages of the slave trade which encouraged extensive destruction through tribal warfare. Close upon this set in the evil of colonisation and the deliberate effort, to which I have already referred, of painting the African black and backward as a valid justification for colonial rule.

I have endeavoured to touch on some of these questions only as a means of making a clear case for justifying our attempts to provide Africa with an Encyclopaedia portraying vividly the glory of Africa's great past.

I should now like to say just a few words on the vital question of how this great undertaking is to be carried through to completion. I must say at the outset that a broad policy having been laid down, the precise plans for achieving it must be left to the Editorial Board and its staff of competent experts. My purpose is only to call attention to the underlying principle - the principle of Pan-African co-operation - which I believe to be indispensable in any concrete plans of work on the Encyclopaedia.

As you are aware, the preparatory work on this project has been carried forward for a little more than two years by a Secretariat here in Accra, functioning under the aegis of the Ghana Academy of Sciences. This Secretariat has not been content to work in isolation; it has been continually active in establishing contacts with scholars and institutions throughout Africa and abroad. A motion declaring "that all African countries should contribute to the work of the Secretariat" was unanimously adopted at a Conference on the Encyclopaedia Africana attended by some150 persons from Africa and elsewhere in December, 1962. Soon thereafter, the Secretariat undertook the establishment of Co-operating Committees of scholars in various African countries.

The Secretary of the Secretariat, Dr. W. A. Hunton, met with several of these Committees during a tour which he made in East and North Africa some months ago. Following this came the nominations by the Co-operating Committees of their respective representatives to serve on the Editorial Board of the Encyclopaedia. In this way the basis, at least, of Pan-African co-operation in this work has been established.

The members of the Editorial Board now have before them the Secretariat's detailed prospectus of what the Encyclopaedia Africana should contain and how the material should be presented. This is merely a blueprint of what is to be constructed. The Editorial Board members are asked to examine this blueprint with great care, proposing whatever alterations they consider would result in a more perfect plan for the Encyclopaedia. Once this has been agreed upon, the stage will have been set for the play to begin - that is to say, for the work of preparing and assembling the Encyclopaedia articles to commence.

I sincerely trust that the deliberations of the Editorial Board at this first meeting will successfully hit that mark. The progress of the work from that point on will depend in the first instance, as I see it, on the degree of whole-hearted and effectively organised support that can be procured from African scholars in all countries, from the many institutes of African studies and research agencies of various kinds which are to be found today throughout our continent, and from the various independent African governments which are ready to provide the fullest measure of financial support for this work. So far, the financial burden has been borne by the Government of Ghana alone.

As I have already stated, I have no specific proposals to present with regard to these matters. But I am convinced that the task is not insuperable. The fact that we have advanced this far in accomplishing, almost single-handed, the formation of a Pan-African Editorial Board of the Encyclopaedia Africana augurs success in the further stages of the work. I trust this project will be welcomed by all the African Heads of State, and will have the full support of the Organisation of African Unity. We must now think in terms of continental political unity in everything we do for Africa. Without such cohesion and unity none of us can survive the intrigues and divisive forces of the imperialists and neo-colonialists. The work of this Encyclopaedia Africana will take us one further step towards the great objective to which we are dedicated - a Continental Union Government of Africa.

Speaking on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Ghana and as Chancellor of our Universities, I can assure the members of the Editorial Board that work on this Encyclopaedia will have the fullest co-operation of our Universities, learned societies and research institutions in Ghana, as well as the financial support of the Government of Ghana.

Distinguished scholars and members of the Editorial Board of the Encyclopaedia Africana, on behalf of the Government and people of Ghana and on my own behalf, I extend a warm welcome to you. May this your first meeting mark the auspicious beginning of your work in a great undertaking for the benefit of mankind