The Congo Panorama ~ Le Panorama Congolais
The Congo Panorama ~ Le Panorama Congolais

 
Face à face avec Ban Ki-moon, Sécrétaire Général de l'ONU - Nous lui posons une question sur la MONUC
 
Face à face avec le boucher de Kigali - Antoine Roger Lokongo rencontre Paul Kagame
 
Les Echos de Kinshasa:
News ~ Info/Actualités

Features and Special Reports (in french and english): Documents et Rapports spéciaux très importants
 
Documentation + Key Interviews
 
Economy: contrats miniers signés
 
Important Speeches ~ Discours clés
 
Letters/Forum
 
Debates
 
Si vous ne connaissez pas vraiment Joseph Kabila, l’homme et sa vision lisez le message suivant:
 
Le FRONACORDE - NKOLO MBOKA: un nouveau mouvement des masses pour le Congo.

Adherez-y massivement!

Conférence Internationale sur la Région des Grands Lacs: Lettre ouverte à tous mes compatriotes Congolais.

 
Le Président Joseph Kabila se prononce sur toutes les questions de l'heure. Neamoins, il est estimé que l'époque des dons présidentiels toujours détournés doit être révolue:
 
La privatisation du Congo s'accèlere:

Les princes du mobutisme et l’avenir de notre pays, commentaire critique de Kâ Mana

Kengo wa Dondo doit répondre aux crimes suivants:
 
L'implantation militaire des puissances occidentales sur le continent africain pour controler les matières prémières, une réalité évidente!

De la Françafrique à la Mafiafrique: François-Xavier Verschave. Entretien avec Enrico Porsia.

 
George Forrest répond à Global Witness:
 
Les Deux "Non" de Mzee Kabila:

Evaluation du projet de Constitution

 
Bilan de la transition ~ Transition assessment
 
Nationalisme, Culture & Society.

Ainsi Parla Patrice Lumumba:

Le combat révolutionaire de Pierre Mulele

Video Choc: Assassinat barbare, sauvage et terroriste de Patrice Lumumba!

VIDEO SHOCK: Watch Patrice Lumumba's savage and terrorist assassination here!

VIDEO SHOCK: La terreur du Roi Léopold II - King Leopold's terror in Congo. Watch it here!

Hommage à un veritable révolutionaire Lumumbiste: Léopold Amisi Soumialot parle de son défunt père, Gaston Soumialot.

Video: Ecoutez la voix de Gaston Soumialot ici.

Video: Le film réalisé par Jihal El Tahri et intitulé "L'Afrique en Morceaux: La tragédie des pays de la Région des Grands Lacs" desormais discrédité.

Regardez-le ici!

Video: Mobutu ou les 32 ans de démagogie, de kléptocratie, de terreur et de prédation! Film réalisé par Thierry Michel

Regardez-le ici! Mais attention! Ce film contient des mensonges, surtout à propos de Lumumba!

 
Congo at the ICJ ~ Verdict de la CPI
 
Horribles Photos du genocide au Congo: sickening photos of the genocide of the Congolese people committed by Rwandans, Ugandans and Burundians, backed by Western superpowers and multinationals.
 
Links/Liens
 
 

NEWS BRIEFS

[english]/[french]

LIBERIA: Madam President

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has the political support and economic experience to succeed

Security, anti-corruption and political reconciliation top the agenda as Liberia prepares for its, and Africa's, first female president.

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, 67, a former director of the United Nations Development Programme and Vice-President of Citicorp, beat her rival, ex-soccer star George Manneh Weah, with a 20 per cent margin of more than 150,000 votes in the election on 8 November. Known as the 'Iron Lady', Johnson-Sirleaf is often compared to Britain's former Premier Margaret Thatcher.

The security worries come from disgruntled political rivals and thousands of former militia fighters who want jobs and houses (Africa Confidential).

UGANDA: Tears, fears and a martyr

The arrest of the strongest opposition candidate for the presidency left everyone weeping. Diplomats coughed and wiped their eyes as they left the Chief Magistrate's Court. An ill wind had blown tear-gas past the Court, where the strongest opposition leader, Colonel (retired) Kizza Besigye, faced charges of treason, concealment of treason and rape.

Representatives of the United States, Japan and five European Union countries had waited for four hours in the sweltering courtroom; the donors, who contribute around half of Uganda's budget, are disappointed by the arrest but are keeping mum for now. Human Rights Watch, a US-based non governmental organisation, has called for Besigye to receive bail and a fair trial. Ugandans charged with a capital offence such as treason can be held for up to twelve months without bail (Africa Confidential).

***South Africa to seize white-owned farm

Friday, September 23, 2005;

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) -- South Africa has for the first time moved to seize land from a white commercial farmer, saying that negotiations to buy the property to hand over to black claimants were taking too long.

Commissioner Blessing Mphela on Thursday told a news conference at the Commission on the Restitution of Land Rights that the seizure was a last resort. South Africa must speed up land reform or face chaos, Mphela added.

Congress Mahlangu, a spokesman for Mphela, told The Associated Press it was the first time the commission had resorted to the expropriation process.

The commission was set up to restore land lost by black and mixed-race South Africans under apartheid.

Previously, South Africa maintained a willing seller, willing buyer approach to land reform, but the government accuses some white farmers of asking too much and dragging out sales. Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka indicated in July the government was considering getting tougher.

Mphela, who is in charge of land restitution cases in North West Province, said the government would issue an expropriation order for a 500-hectare (1,235-acre) farm owned by Hannes Visser. The government has offered 1.75 million rands (about $276,000) and Visser has asked for 3 million (about $473,000).

Visser told the South African Press Association he would challenge the order.

"I do not recognize the claim on my land and cannot be forced to sell at the government's price," Visser told SAPA.

Mahlangu said Visser would receive the expropriation order within a week. Mphela said Visser would have a month after receiving the order to show cause to the minister of agriculture why his farm should not be seized. If the minister upholds the order, Visser can appeal in the courts.

Visser said he had made improvements worth 3.5 million rands (about $552,000) worth of improvements to the farm his father bought in 1968.

He said the government offer was not enough to set up a business comparable to the farm. Mphela said the government offered to exempt areas with improvements but the compromise was rejected.

Overcoming apartheid

The deputy president said last July that the government wants all land restitution claims settled within the next three years. The government, she said, seeks to deliver 30 percent of the country's agricultural land to people disadvantaged by apartheid by 2014. If necessary, she said it would revise the current willing buyer, willing seller principle.

The fruits of liberation have yet to be tasted by the majority of the rural population. -- Commissioner Blessing MphelaSouth African officials have repeatedly said they do not plan to emulate Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's seizure of white-owned farms, which many say contributed to the collapse of that country's farm-based economy.

But Mugabe's policies have made him hugely popular among black South Africans, while land reform here appears stalled.

When the democratic government came to power in South Africa in 1994, some 87 percent of agricultural land was owned by whites, who account for 10 percent of the population. This has fallen to 80 percent, according to some estimates.

In the North West case, Commissioner Mphela said, the Visser farm was initially part of four plots owned by the Molamu family, which was forced to sell under the apartheid government's policies of systematically stripping blacks of land and moving them into townships and so-called homelands. Descendants of the first Molamu owners filed a claim seeking restitution.

"Two-thirds of the country, including most of the best quality land, remains in the hands of less than 60,000 people who unfortunately in this case are white farmers, while 14 million blacks or Africans eke out a precarious existence in the former homelands and urban informal settlements," Mphela said.

"In South Africa, where dispossession of African people was much more brutal and thorough than any other in the region, the fruits of liberation have yet to be tasted by the majority of the rural population," Mphela said.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

***The death of John Garang

Lieutenant-General John Garang de Mabior, BA Econ, Vice-President of Sudan, Leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement / Army (June 1945-July 31, 2005) died on Jul 31 in a helicopter crash. Only three weeks into his role as Vice-President it had been hoped that this appointment ending a 22-year rebellion in defence of Afrikan culture would bring about a more settled phase in Sudanese politics. As well as attaining a peace treaty with the Sudanese government for South Sudan he had also proposed a peace treaty for the troubled Darfur region where the Sudanese government and its janjawid militia are committing genocide against the ethnic Fur.

Vice-President Garang joined the Anyanya struggle in 1970 against the marginalisation of Afrikan culture in Sudan. After the signing of the peace accords in 1972 he rose through the ranks of the movement for maintaining Afrikan culture in the face of the continuing Arabisation of Sudan while working as Deputy Director of the Military Research branch at the Sudan Army General Headquarters in Khartoum. He was a founding member of the SPLM / A in 1983.

Recommended Reading: John Garang Speaks. Edited and introduced by Mansour Khalid, KPI Limited [ISBN: 0-7103-0268-1]

Garang sponsored RCD/N, a rebel group based in Ituri and led by Roger Lumbala, giving them money and guns. When they could not pay back, his troops invaded Bafwasende Oriental province in eastern Congo.

***Mauritania: MILITARY JUNTA TAKES POWER

An outcast ‘military council for justice and democracy’ led by national police chief Colonel Ely Ould Mohammed Vall, announced that it has taken power in Nouakchott the capital to end “the totalitarian regime” of president Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya.

The military say that they want to lead the country for 2 years: “The armed and security forces have unanimously decided to end the totalitarian activities of the defunct regime under which our people have suffered so much in recent years”.

In their message they say “this council is committed before the people of Mauritania to create the conditions for an open and transparent democracy”. For the time being the identity of the officers involved in the coup has not been a revealed.

According to Brahim Fall, a UNDP officer, some of the coup leaders include presidential guard elements, very close to the head of state. In absence of confirmations the head of presidential security is also rumored to be involved.

Other sources say this is a ‘white coup’ meaning there was no spilling of blood (similar to the military coup that brought Mu’ammar al-Qadhafi to power in Libya in 1969). Meanwhile, president Taya – who was returning from Suadi Arabia where he attended the funeral of King Fahd - landed in Niger, a few hours after the military took control of the radio and the state television station. It seems that the president of Mauritania has been received at the airport by Niger’s head of state, Tandja Mamadou.

***Ex-Hutu rebels win Burundi poll

Source: BBC, 5.07.2005

Turnout on Monday was not as high as last month, but "acceptable"

Burundi's former Hutu rebel group have won a parliamentary majority after Monday's elections, officials say.

With most ballots counted, the FDD have between 60% and 80% of the vote and are assured of victory, they say.

The FDD has said it wants to tackle poverty and promote reconciliation after 12 years of ethnic conflict between the Tutsi-led army and rebels.

The MPs choose a new president in August, and correspondents say he is likely to be from the FDD.

The polling was largely peaceful with turnout put at 65%. Trailing in second is the other main Hutu party, Frodebu, led by President Domitien Ndayizeye with the main party representing the Tutsi minority, Uprona, in third place.

High turnout

Carolyn McAskie, head of the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB), said turnout had fallen from the 80% seen in last month's local elections but was still "totally acceptable".

UN peacekeepers were deployed alongside Burundian security forces Reports of fraud were "not sufficient... to affect the overall result", she told a press conference.

There had also been no complaints of intimidation, which was encouraging, she said. Astere Kana, a spokesman for Burundi's independent electoral commission, said the voting had "ended peacefully". Many voters had feared attacks by the FNL, Burundi's last active Hutu rebel group. During last month's polls, it was blamed for a series of shootings and grenade attacks.

Power shared

Polling stations were guarded on Monday by Burundian security forces and UN troops. A Burundian soldier was slightly injured when a hand grenade exploded in the capital, Bujumbura, as ballots were being counted, Burundi's deputy police chief Col Helmenegilde Mimenya told the AFP news agency.

The BBC's Rob Walker in Bujumbura says the elections mark a fundamental shift of power in Burundi. For much of the time since independence, control of the state has been in the hands of a narrow Tutsi elite. Now, after a peace process lasting five years, Burundians are finally voting to a elect a new assembly in which power will be shared. Forty per cent of the seats are reserved for the Tutsi minority and 60% for Hutus.

***US was warned about Rwanda genocide

The US did not want to use the term 'genocide'

Newly declassified documents show that the United States knew in advance that the 1994 Rwandan genocide was likely to happen but nevertheless insisted that United Nations peacekeepers should be withdrawn.

Around 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were massacred in a four-month campaign by Hutu extremists allied to the Rwandan army.

Genocide finding could commit USG (US Government) to actually 'do something'

Pentagon memo

Three weeks into the genocide, a senior US official called up one of the men alleged to have orchestrated the killing, Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, and urged him to call a halt. Mr Bagosora is currently awaiting trial at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

At the time, he was the Permanent Secretary in Rwanda's Defence Ministry.

Bloodbath

The documents were obtained by the National Security Archive, a non-governmental organisation interested in US foreign policy.

Five days after the massacres began, a Pentagon official wrote to Undersecretary of Defense, Frank Wisner, warning that, "unless both sides can be convinced to return to the peace process, a massive (hundreds of thousands of deaths) bloodbath will ensue that would likely spill over into Burundi."

The declassified documents show what the US knew

Burundi, like Rwanda, has an ethnic mix of majority Hutus and minority Tutsis. "In addition, millions of refugees will flee into neighboring Uganda, Tanzania, and Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo), far exceeding the absorptive capacity of those nations," the official wrote on 11 April, 1994. On 14 April, the State Department urged the UN to withdraw its peacekeepers arguing that that "there is insufficient justification to retain a UN peacekeeping presence in Rwanda".

Withdrawal

A week later, the UN Security Council voted to withdraw its troops from Rwanda. In May, a Pentagon memo cautioned against using the term "genocide" to describe the Rwandan massacres, as under the 1948 Genocide Treaty, this could legally oblige the UN, and by extension the US, to act.

Some two million people fled into Zaire, now DRC

"Genocide finding could commit USG (US Government) to actually 'do something'," the memo warned.

At the time of the massacres, the US was still smarting from its humiliating intervention in Somalia which saw the bodies of US marines dragged through the streets of Mogadishu by militiamen.

***SADC delegation in the DRC to inspect demobilisation centres for former rebels.

Delegation is in the Democratic Republic of Congo capital, Kinshasa, to inspect various demoblisation centres for former rebels.

Source : sabc

Thu, 12 May 2005, 9:00

The delegation consists of ministers from South Africa, Namibia and Lesotho. It's eaded by South African efence Minister Mosioua Lekota. The visit comes as resident Joseph Kabila deals with the issue of ossible insurrection in the mineral-rich Katanga rovince.

***The Hutu-Tutsi problem will not go away!!!

BBC: 13.05.2005): Pierre Nkurunziza (l) and Domitien dayizeye (r) agreed to share government jobs ut A new interior minister has been appointed in Burundi -emoving a major obstacle to the peace process. Jean-Marie Ngendahayo, a Tutsi, was named by President Domitien Ndayizeye, who backed down after originally saying the post was reserved for a Hutu.

The Forces for the Defence of Democracy (FDD) say they will now return to the power-sharing government. The FDD agreed to join the government to end a 12-year civil war between Hutu rebels and the Tutsi army in a 2003.

Compromise

Mr Ngendahayo is a former communications and foreign minister, who has been in exile for 10 years.

South Africa has played a key role in the peace process

Prime Ndikumagenge in the Burundi capital, Bujumbura, says that mediator South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma played a key role in resolving the deadlock.

Under the 2003 peace deal, 60% of cabinet posts are reserved for Hutus and 40% for Tutsis but the FDD argued that these percentages could be shifted slightly.

Our correspondent says that the rebels agreed to back down on their original nominee for the post, while Mr Ndayizeye also agreed to appoint former rebels to positions across the government and civil service, including state-owned companies and the intelligence services.

The distribution of such posts was covered in detail in the 2003 deal. FDD spokesman Karenga Ramazani told the AP news agency: "Our ministers will attend the next cabinet meeting on Tuesday."

'Forced disarmament'

Meanwhile, FDD leader Pierre Nkurunziza has said he is unhappy with the way his fighters are being disarmed before being integrated into a new national army.

"We are against forced disarmament... as it has been set up," he said. "Disarmament, especially after as deep a crisis as ours, isn't child's play, it is a process that requires tact."

Some 250,000 people have died during the civil war, which saw Hutu rebels fighting for a greater share of power from the Tutsi minority which has traditionally ruled the couPope John Paul II to be beatified .

Mr Ndayizeye's mandate was last month extended by regional leaders.

He will stay in office until 26 August, with elections to be held by 19 August. The polls were supposed to take place in April, to end some 12 years of ethnic conflict.

Mr Ndayizeye is a Hutu but critics say he is a front for Tutsis who still wield the real power, through their domination of the military.

***Africa Confidential, Vol 46 Number 9, 29th April 2005 TOGO

Merci, Papa

People take to the streets in Lomé to protest against Faure Gnassingbé's victory in the polls

'If they declare Faure the winner, this place is going to go up in flames', predicted a much quoted opposition supporter in Lomé. And right on cue, the barricades went up on 26 April as soon as the government announced that Faure, son of the late dictator Gnassingbé Eyadéma, had won the presidential election two days earlier (AC Vol 46 No 6). Violence that had been simmering for days erupted across the capital as activists protested against the disputed result.

***Sudan Becomes US Ally in 'War on Terror'

By Suzanne Goldenberg

The Guardian UK

Saturday 30 April 2005

Sudan's Islamist regime, once shunned by Washington for providing a haven for Osama bin Laden as well as for human rights abuses during decades of civil war, has become an ally in the Bush administration's "war on terror".

Only months after the US accused Khartoum of carrying out genocide in Darfur, Sudan has become a crucial intelligence asset to the CIA.

In the Middle East and Africa, Sudan's agents have penetrated networks that would not normally be accessible to America, one former US intelligence official told the Guardian. Some of that cooperation has spilled over into the war in Iraq: Sudan is credited with detaining foreign militants on their way to join anti-American fighters there.

Sudanese agents have also helped the CIA to monitor Islamist organisations in Somalia. "The intelligence relationship is the strongest thread between Washington and Khartoum," the official said. "Khartoum is probably the only government in the Arab League that has contributed in a major way to the protection of US forces and citizens in Iraq."

News of the growing cooperation was first reported in yesterday's Los Angeles Times. The paper traced the thaw in relations since 2001 to a milestone last week: the visit to Washington by Sudan's intelligence chief, Salah Abdallah Gosh. It reported that Sudan's secret police had begun to crack down on suspected Islamists, had shared evidence with the FBI and allowed US personnel to interrogate al-Qaida suspects.

In May 2003, Sudanese security forces raided a suspected terrorist training camp and deported more than a dozen, mainly Saudi, militants to Arab states which work closely with US intelligence services, the newspaper said.

Yet a decade ago Sudan was a haven to Bin Laden and other international outlaws, such as Carlos the Jackal. In 1993, it was placed on the US state department's list of terrorist regimes. Approaches from Khartoum were rebuffed - even as it offered its services against an emerging al-Qaida in the 1990s.

"Sudan tried to hand over two guys implicated in the 1998 bombing of the US embassies in east Africa, and the response was to send cruise missiles to hit the aspirin factory in Khartoum," the official said. "They offered up Bin Laden in 1995, and we said we don't even have an indictment on him."

Officially, Washington's position towards Sudan remains unchanged. "Sudan is still considered a state sponsor of terror," a state department spokesman said yesterday.

News of General Gosh's visit to Washington caused consternation in human rights circles. The general is among 51 Sudanese officials implicated in human rights abuses by the international criminal court.

"I quite understand that the war on terrorism means dealing with bad actors, but to fly in one of Sudan's chief committers of what Washington has formally described as genocide is deeply disturbing," said an independent Sudan analyst, Eric Reeves. He noted there had been signs of a slight thaw towards Khartoum for some time - despite the state department's official stance.


***US 'Sent Detainees to Egypt'

SBS TV (Australia)

Wednesday 11 May 2005

A new report by a leading human rights group says the United States and other countries have secretly sent dozens of Islamist detainees to Egypt, where they have most likely been tortured, in the past decade.

The 53-page report by Human Rights Watch said Egypt is the world's main recipient of detainees.

The report, titled Black Hole: The Fate of Islamists Rendered to Egypt, identifies 61 people who have been transferred into Egyptian custody since 1994. However some experts quoted by the report say the actual number of people sent to Egypt is much higher, as such transfers usually occur in secret and without legal safeguards. The report cites analysts, lawyers and Islamic activists who believe 150 to 200 detainees have been transferred since the September 11, 2001, attacks on the US. Those transferred to Egypt, most of them Egyptians suspected of Islamist militancy, include people believed to offer useful intelligence for US authorities in Washington's war on terrorism. Others mentioned in the report were two Yemenis transferred to Egypt, one to Yemen and another to US custody at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

"Egypt ... has been the country to which the greatest numbers of rendered suspects have been sent," said the report.

While most of the countries transferring detainees to Egypt are Arab or South Asian, Sweden and the US are also on the list.

"The person sent back to Egypt under these circumstances is almost surely going to be tortured," Human Rights Watch deputy Middle East director Joe Stork said. He said torture and other forms of mistreatment are so prevalent in Egypt that by sending detainees there, countries are violating the international convention against torture.

The report calls on foreign governments to halt the practice, at least until Egypt can prove it does not mistreat prisoners.

"Do not under any circumstances extradite, render, or otherwise transfer to Egypt persons suspected or accused of security offences unless and until the government of Egypt has demonstrated that it has ended practices of torture and ill-treatment," the report urged.

The report cited the case of Egypt-born Australian Mamdouh Habib, who said he was detained in Pakistan in the weeks after the 9/11 attacks and was interrogated by US agents before being sent to Egypt. He has repeatedly alleged he was tortured in prison there for six months before his transfer to Guantanamo Bay. Mr Habib was released and returned home earlier this year.

The ABC reports that the Egyptian Supreme Council for Human Rights has backed torture allegations by Egyptian police and security forces, in its first annual report.

US President George W Bush earlier this year insisted Washington does not engage in torture or send suspects to countries without assurances they won't be mistreated.

"We operate within the law and we send people to countries where they say they're not going to torture the people," he said at an April 28 news conference.

US officials said a classified directive signed by MR Bush after 9/11 gave the CIA broad power to transfer detainees without approval from the White House, according to Reuters.


***SA resort opens doors to blacks

***Source: BBC, 12.05.2005

South Africa's racial groups mix more now but tensions remain The owners of a South African picnic resort have made a public apology after evicting a white family because they were accompanied by black children. Broederstroom Picnic Resort in Gauteng also promised to change its policy and accept "people of all races".

The apology comes in an out of court settlement after Dominic Black lodged a legal complaint after being evicted. The apartheid system of dividing South Africa's racial groups was dismantled more than a decade ago. Legal discrimination has ended and South Africa's racial group mix more freely now but tensions remain.

Mr Black appealed to the Equality Courts, which were set up in 2003 to deal with hate speech and discrimination. Before the case went to court, resort owners Mr and Mrs Pretorius agreed to apologise in public and pay Mr Black 10,000 rand ($1,600), which he says he will donate to the Nkosi Johnson Aids Foundation.

"A very unfortunate racial incident caused the dignity of two little children to be tarnished and Mr and Mrs Pretorius hereby accordingly extend their unconditional apologies to the individuals and their family and friends," read a statement released after the settlement.

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said it would monitor the Broederstroom Picnic Resort to ensure that it is opening its doors to all racial groups.

***Protest over plan to rename Pretoria

PRETORIA: Some 500 people, most of them white, demonstrated yesterday against a proposal to change the capital's name from Pretoria, the name given to it by white settlers, to Tshwane, as the site was once known to its original African inhabitants. Arguing the name change disregarded the cultural traditions of white Afrikaners, the protesters handed a government official a petition with thousands of signatures of people opposed to the move, which the South African Geographical Names Council is to discuss on Thursday.

“When the council considers the recommendation of the name it will take these petitions into cognisance,” heritage director Vusithemba Ndima said. The Tshwane Metropolitan Council voted in March to change the name of the wider metropolitan area around the capital, leaving only the city centre as Pretoria.

Established by white settlers in 1855, the city was named after Andries Pretorius, a leader of the Afrikaners' “Great Trek” into the interior of the country.

Tshwane is derived from the Ndebele name used by some of the region's earliest African inhabitants. It means “we are the same”. For many blacks, Pretoria – the Afrikaner heartland – symbolised decades of white racist rule under apartheid.

The government, which has made a series of geographic name changes since apartheid ended in 1994, maintains that South Africans should not have to live in cities, towns and streets named after the people responsible for their racial oppression. But former South African President F.W. De Klerk, who helped end apartheid, had criticised the plans, saying that renaming the city raised “fundamental questions regarding the management of diversity and inter-community relations in the new South Africa”. – AP

***Pretoria name change is approved

Opponents of the change say they feel marginalised

A recommendation that the name of South Africa's capital be changed from Pretoria to Tshwane has been unanimously approved. The Geographic Names Council took four hours to back the change. Tshwane is the name of a pre-colonial local chief and means "we are the same". Supporters of the change say the switch will underscore South Africa's break with apartheid in 1994. The city was named after Boer settler and Afrikaner hero Andries Pretorius. At the weekend, hundreds of predominantly white South Africans staged a demonstration against the name change. The city council approved the switch to Tshwane in March as part of moves to make place names more African. Arts and Culture Minister Pallo Jordan is expected to approve the name change.

***Zimbabwe to release 'mercenaries'

Source: BBC, 12.05.2005

Most of the alleged mercenaries are South African Sixty men linked to an alleged coup plot in Equatorial Guinea are due to be deported from Zimbabwe to South Africa after more than a year in custody. Defence lawyer Alwyn Griebenow said they would be taken by bus from Harare to Beit Bridge border crossing, where immigration officials will meet them. They are in good health apart from one with tuberculosis, he added.

Coup charges against the men were not proven, but they were convicted of breaking Zimbabwe's immigration laws. They will be reunited with their families before facing possible charges in South Africa, their lawyer said. The alleged ring-leader of the plot, Briton Simon Mann, and the two pilots of the plane, remain in prison in Zimbabwe on longer sentences.

Weapons question

The men being released had been travelling on South African passports when they were arrested in March 2004 after their chartered plane touched down at Harare airport to pick up weapons.

Zimbabwean prosecutors said they had been en-route to Equatorial Guinea to overthrow President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo in the oil-rich country. The men said the weapons were to be used for guarding diamond mines in Democratic Republic of Congo.

In Equatorial Guinea, 14 other people have been found guilty of charges linked to the coup plot, including plot leader Nick du Toit who received 34 years.

Sir Mark Thatcher, the son of former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, was given a suspended jail term in South Africa and fined after agreeing a plea bargain to help investigators.

Previous reports said that there were 62 prisoners due for release but latest reports refer to 60. Under South African law, they could be charged with engaging in military activities abroad without official permission.

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