UEFA Champions League 2013 Result: P.S.G. and Juventus Win

254914hp2Goals by Ezequiel Lavezzi and Javier Pastore gave Paris Saint-Germain an important 2-1 away win at Valencia in a the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 match Tuesday. But P.S.G.’s star striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, was sent off in injury time for stamping Andrés Guardado’s foot.

Juventus virtually sealed its place in the quarterfinals, punishing poor defending with some strong finishing to beat Celtic, 3-0, in their first leg in Glasgow. “The score line flatters Juventus,” Celtic Manager Neil Lennon said. “For 70-odd minutes, we were by far the better side, but you can’t give away sloppy goals.”

¶ The National Women’s Soccer League will begin its inaugural season April 15 when the Portland Thorns and their United States national team striker, Alex Morgan, play at Kansas City. The new league’s other six clubs will begin play the next day. Each team is scheduled to play 22 games; the top four teams will qualify for the playoffs, with the semifinals on Aug. 24 and the final on Aug. 31. JACK BELL

UEFA Champions League 2013: Real Madrid v Manchester United Preview

Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid celebrates scoring his sides opening goal during the la Liga match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium on October 7, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid celebrates scoring his sides opening goal during the la Liga match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium on October 7, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

As a football-enjoying public, we can all thank Borussia Dortmund for their fantastic performances in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League. Without them, Real Madrid would not have finished second in their group, and without that, it wouldn’t have been possible for Los Merengues to match up with Manchester United in the Round of 16.

On Wednesday, two of the world’s best teams face off, with two of the most interesting and tactically adept managers in the world in either dugout. A number of Red Devils supporters will hope it’s a showdown between the present and future managers of the club. Whoever progresses from their tie will join Barcelona and Bayern Munich as one of the favorites to win the competition, and no one would be surprised if it took more than 180 minutes to decide who goes through.

In recent weeks, Alex Ferguson has seemingly prepared his team for what’s to come by trying out a new formation, with Phil Jones as a defensive midfielder. He’s played the position before — for United, Blackburn and England — but has been primarily used as a defender for club and country recently. He’s taken to the role well, and is expected to be a key part of Ferguson’s plan to contain Cristiano Ronaldo.

Jose Mourinho might do some interesting things with his team as well. After a long stretch of time in which the Real Madrid team picked itself due to injuries and suspensions, Mourinho finally has close to a full team at his disposal and has plenty of options. Young Raphael Varane is Madrid’s best central defender on form, while Michael Essien has proven equally adept at fullback and defensive midfield. Jose Maria Callejon has re-emerged as a great option for Mourinho, while Karim Benzema got a surprise run on the wing this weekend.

With the more talented squad, at home, Mourinho probably won’t try anything too crazy, but it’s still very difficult to predict his team for the match.
Team news

Pepe is finally back for Madrid after a long injury layoff. He seems likely to start, especially since Varane is questionable with a hamstring injury. Xabi Alonso is fighting a nagging groin problem, but is widely expected to start the match. The only key player who Mourinho will not have at his disposal is Iker Casillas, who has a broken wrist. New signing Diego Lopez will start in his place.

Ferguson got a bit of a scare when Jones, his ace in the hole, pulled up hurt over the weekend, but he’s been declared fit to play on Wednesday. Jonny Evans, also a slight doubt, should be fit to play. He may or may not start, depending on Ferguson’s faith in his older defenders to keep up with Madrid’s quick attackers. Paul Scholes has been left home in Manchester, while Ashley Young makes the trip after recovering from a recent knee injury. Don’t expect Young to start, however.
Projected lineups (left to right)

Real Madrid (4-2-3-1): Diego Lopez; Fabio Coentrao, Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Alvaro Arbeloa; Sami Khedira, Xabi Alonso; Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Özil, Angel di Maria; Karim Benzema

Manchester United (4-3-3): David De Gea; Patrice Evra, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Rafael; Phil Jones, Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley; Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Antonio Valencia

SBNation

State of the nation: Zuma to focus on ‘5 priorities’

South African President Jacob Zuma reacts as he gives his speech during the opening of Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, Thursday, Feb 9, 2012. South African President Jacob Zuma gave the state of the nation address during the opening of parliament in Cape Town. (AP Photo/Mike Hutchings, Pool Reuters)

South African President Jacob Zuma reacts as he gives his speech during the opening of Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, Thursday, Feb 9, 2012. South African President Jacob Zuma gave the state of the nation address during the opening of parliament in Cape Town. (AP Photo/Mike Hutchings, Pool Reuters)

President Jacob Zuma’s state of the nation address this year will be the first to be delivered in the context of the National Development Plan (NDP), the Presidency said on Sunday.

“In Sona 2013, the president will provide an update on all key programmatic areas, especially the five priorities, education, health, creating decent work, the fight against crime, as well as rural development and land reform,” the Presidency said in a statement.

“He will also outline progress made in the implementation of the New Growth Path, the economic strategy within the NDP.”

The New Growth Path promoted inclusive growth and job creation in six job drivers. These included infrastructure development, agriculture, mining and beneficiation, manufacturing, the green economy and tourism.

The Presidency said preparations for the day were at an advanced stage.

Zuma would deliver the state of the nation address on Thursday to a joint sitting of Parliament.

The Presidency said members of the public were invited to send their comments on what they would like to see in the state of the nation address, on Facebook (www.facebook.com/presidencyza) and Twitter (@PresidencyZA).

On Tuesday, the first community and stakeholder outreach programme would start. This would give the public a chance to air their views on a number of issues.

Zuma will start by visiting the Tshwane South FET College in Mabopane, Pretoria. He will be accompanied by Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, Public Enterprise Minister Malusi Gigaba and Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane.

On the same day, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe would visit farmers and farmworkers in Worcester. He will be accompanied by Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti and Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister Tina Joematt-Petersen.

On Wednesday, Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manual and Deputy National Planning Commission Chair Cyril Ramaphosa will hold a dialogue with small business and the youth. They would also do walkabouts around Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha in Cape Town, promoting the NDP.

The day after the state of the nation Zuma would visit displaced families in Khayelitsha.
Sapa

Portrait of Ethiopian anti-fascist martyr & Patriarch of the Orthodox church auctioned for more than $20 000

The auction was held last Saturday (February 09, 2013) at a fund-raising event held for the Ethiopian Satellite TV (ESAT) here in Stockholm in the presence of hundreds of Ethiopians and origin of Ethiopians who reside in Sweden; Ethiopia’s famous comedian turn out human-rights activist Tamagne Beyene; Swedish journalist Martin Schibbye and other members of the Swedish parliament. According to the organizers, in addition to the auction, tens of thousands of Swedish Kronor was raised from the sale of food, drinks and tombola. The event was officiated with leaders of the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian & Muslim churches respectively urged the audience to work and pray in unison to bring the desired change in Ethiopia. Mr. Beyene who has led the event on his part stressed the importance of supporting ESAT which he said is the only media outlet which serves every group regardless of their religious, ethnological, political differences. In his presentation, Mr. Beyene showed the brutality and barbaric of nature of the TPLF (Tigray Liberation Front) regime Ethiopia against millions of innocent citizens. He further said Ethiopians at home and abroad have a duty to support ESAT, the only independent media which was established by few patriotic Ethiopians a three years ago and has become a voice to millions of voiceless and defenseless Ethiopians who are being subjected to daily repression, extrajudicial imprisonment and killings.
Mesfin, Negash, the 2012 Human Rights Watch’s award winner and managing editor of Addisneger online newspaper, on his part condoned the ever increasing repression which continues to touch every sector of the society in Ethiopia and called upon all Ethiopians to discharge their national duty by assisting ESAT, one of the few Ethiopian independent diaspora medias which are trying to expose TPLF’s crimes against humanity, freedom of expression and other human-rights violations.
Ahmed Ali, another exiled Ethiopian journalist who has been serving at an Ethiopian diaspora radio station based in Stockholm for the last two decades, underscored that the dictatorial regime which has been in power for twenty-one years is now a days knocking on every Ethiopians’ door with terror, harassment and abuse. He urged fellow citizens at home and abroad to unify by setting aside their religious, lingual, political and other backgrounds to assist ESAT’s effort to achieve its goals. Carina Hägg Representative of the Swedish Social Democrats Party on her part expressed her solidarity with all Ethiopians who are fighting against tyrannical regime in Ethiopia.
Martin Schibbye, the Swedish journalist who was guest of honor at the event and released last September after fourteen months incarceration from Ethiopian prison jokingly told ESAT that his colleague and cellmate Johan Persson and him are on “cease fire agreement” with the Ethiopian regime as they are working around the clock to finish their book which chronicles their harrowing ordeal and other human-rights abuses in Ethiopia.
This fund-raising event which stayed until midnight was concluded by awarding honorary medallions to Tamagne Beyene and his family members as well as individuals and members of the fund-raising committee for their outstanding effort to realize the event. Beyene left Sweden on Sunday morning to continue his tour in other European cities which among other include Oslo, Amsterdam and Munich.
Theodros Arega
For IndepthAfrica
Stockholm, Sweden

France Sets Sight on “African Dream”

Moving well into the 1st quarter of 21st century, the global dimension for areas under influence of great powers has changed to a great extent. A review of international political spectrum reflects that a vacuum is either filled or exploited in the most unexpected manner, giving new life to the race amongst states, nations and ideologies.

The African bonanza has always remained centric to the great powers, and there is no reason of it ending in the coming future. One feels that Middle East and Central Asia had somehow sidelined it for the last few decades, but it seems not for long. May be it has more to do with a clear hegemony becoming evident in both Middle East and Central Asia in the past few years.

US and somewhat its ally’s practical footsteps in Iraq and proximity have restrained any further adventurism in Middle East for the time being. Though the war in Afghanistan had again given the edge to the ISAF/ NATO for Central Asia, the resistance from Taliban and a determined Russia has stopped them short of making practical inroads, with Moscow truly casting its shadow over the Caspian for the time being.

This makes way for the African Dream which we see now unfolding at a greater pace than was the case a few years back. China was seen playing softly with newly emerging economies of Africa post 21st century turnover, inviting others to join the game for spheres in the vastly unchanged Africa. Americans as early as in 1993 were seen in a maneuver in Somalia under Clinton, which unfortunately for Americans couldn’t materialize.

With US stuck at Iraq and Afghanistan and Russia not in a position to draw China into the suspicion of overtaking its newly found area of influence, France has slowly but in a determent manner established its foothold in Africa. France has all the possibilities, abilities and reasons to pursue a policy which might bring it into direct contest among other powers for Africa’s dominance.

Post WWII, it had the most firm claim over this land, and the roll back was never easy as it may seem. Secondly, shaken by economical woes, differences over Iraq/ Afghanistan and a not so blind following of American agendas like in Blair era, Britain is pulling itself not only out from the race of supremacy, but is granting playing fields to powers from Europe to take the leading role, with France seconding Germany. Situation such as this can leave France in two minds, with either to strive for a solo flight or to have a vital role under the feather of an already recognized power i.e. America.

From historical interpretation, one can easily reach the conclusion of France challenging the established norms of power balance, and this will lead us to our 1st assessment of it taking the charge exclusively. France role in Libyan invasion was more than an ally, leading side by side in diplomatic, personal and military front during the whole operation.

It was the same Qadaffi who was widely welcomed by France into its capital as a tamed rebel merely a few years back by Sarkozy. With a cloud of questions still circling why such extreme measures were agreed upon Qadaffi, France has established all the reasons for it to be in the proximity through Mali invasion (As UN puts intervention) and a globally notified hostage crisis in Algeria.

In a single stretch, France has engaged itself into multifaceted reasoning by being a liberator in Libya to the occupied masses, a guaranteer to the democratic forces in Mali against threatening Islamist forces and might be soon a pursuer of international terrorist in Algeria. Invasion into Mali though under UN charter by France requires more answers than credits.

With all the due logistical support and manpower, how did a segment of Qadaffi men (also under consideration is their presence among his troops) slip into Mali, establish a force equipped with sophisticated weapons/ surface to air missile (already widely reported in media as missing) which will be challenged by the already established Islamic forces in Mali, leading to the gruesome barbaric war which only an organized force from West can diffuse.

To sum it up, African Dream is on for France, China and many more to follow and so will be the outcome. Victor may take the pride, but in war involving resources, loads of resources gets wiped away as well.

Nigeria: Why Okonjo-Iweala Quit Obasanjo Govt – El-Rufai

By Bayo Oladeji, Leadership (Abuja)

Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala parted ways with former President Olusegun Obasanjo because of her removal as the Chairman of the Economic Team of the government while she was in London negotiating with London Club.

Former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, made this disclosure in his memoir -The Accidental Public Servant – where narrated his experiences while in government and private practice.

Being a key member of the powerful and influential Economic Team of the Obasanjo years, el-Rufai recalled how the team was assembled, and it included Okonjo-Iweala, the minister of state for finance Nenadi Usman [now a senator], FCT minister el-Rufai, the Economic Adviser to the President and later the Central Bank Governor Charles Soludo, the EFCC boss Nuhu Ribadu, and the Director-General, Bureau of Public Procurement [Due Process] Mrs. Oby Ezekwezili. Okonjo-Iweala was the chairman.

According to e-Rufai’s account, trouble began when Obasanjo decided to redeploy Okonjo-Iweala as the minister of Foreign Affairs and Ezekwezili, the Education Minister from the Solid Minerals,with Nenadi Usman becoming the Finance Minister without seeking their input or consent.

“One morning, in May of 2006, shortly after the third term effort collapsed, Obasanjo called me aside after the economic management team meeting, and said he was going to reshuffle the cabinet that day. The plan he had, he confided in me, was to move Ngozi to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to fix some persistent problems in our international relations, Oby to the ministry of education and Nenadi Usman as full cabinet minister of finance. Obasanjo said he needed me to help manage the emotions and reactions of those affected.”

According to his account, Obasanjo brought him in to forestall a situation where the duo of Okonjo-Iweala and Ezekwezili would embarrass him by quitting his government as a reaction. He said calming down the two was a herculean task when he broke the news of the impending cabinet reshuffle to them.

Although the two burst into tears, Ngozi quickly adjusted and asked who would then be the chairman of the Economic Team.

“I did not have an answer so I went back to Obasanjo and asked. He said that Nenadi as minister of finance must chair the economic team, unless she was unwilling to do so. I then went up to Nenadi who seemed to have a foreknowledge of the reshuffle and looked like she knew she was going to replace Ngozi, and talked to her,” el-Rufai wrote.

“I confirmed to her that Obasanjo had just told me about it and we needed to meet to agree a few housekeeping issues. She followed me to the location outside the Council Chambers where Ngozi and Oby were tearfully talking in inaudible tones. We then had a four-person meeting where Nenadi agreed that Ngozi should not only continue to chair the economic team, but maintain the interface with international financial institutions until she felt ready to take that over. I reported our consultations and decision to a reluctant Obasanjo, who agreed to the arrangement but only as ‘interim measure’. This would be the beginning of our team tensions.”

The former Minister further revealed that both arrangement did not go down well with both Okonjo-Iweala, who is painted as ‘a pragmatic student of power’ and Usman but both pretended as if they were satisfied. According to him, “Ngozi never ceased to think of herself as finance minister to the exclusion of Nenadi, and Nenadi resented the suggestion that she could not chair the economic team.”

To buttress his point, el-Rufai disclosed how Oknojo-Iweala were playing host to the IMF and World Bank teams in her new office instead of Finance Ministry. He said he had to caution her to stop doing so else “It will cause unnecessary problems.”

The bubble however burst when Oknojo-Iweala went to meet the London Club to negotiate the write-off of Nigeria’s modest London Club debts without the knowledge of Mrs Usman although she sought and got the approval of Obasanjo. But when the matter was brought before the President, “On the spot, Obasanjo decided to remove Ngozi as chair of the economic team, right away, without any discussion, consultation or notice, as Ngozi was in the middle of the crucial negotiations. All of the major newswires carried news of the firing of Ngozi from chairing the economic team and in the midst of meeting with her European counterparts; everyone was looking at their Blackberries and asking her if she was still authorized to continue the negotiations. It was no doubt a totally humiliating moment for Ngozi…She called Obasanjo from London and informed him of her decision to resign. He did nothing to dissuade her. She returned to Nigeria, submitted her resignation, packed her things, and just left, at first for Lagos, then went abroad. She was very angry at the President, at the situation, and at all of us. She expected all of us to also resign as part of our pact, but she forgot the part of the agreement that required us to consult, to talk, to discuss, and agree together.”

According to his account, it was the then Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Kanu Agabi, SAN that introduced Nuhu Ribadu to Obasanjo, and it was his appointment as the EFCC chairman that brought the two together especially as he was instrumental to the N100m the take-off money for the commission. It was a mutual friend that introduced Okonjo-Iweala to him while on six month assignment for the administration and how he was part of the catalyst that facilitated her appointment as the Finance Minister. It was both the Finance Minister and Ezekwezili with General Mohammed Abdullahi, the Chief of Staff to Obasanjo that in-turn facilitated his emergence as a Minister.

Congo rebels, a Kabila family affair?

The news has spread like wildfire through the Congolese community: Etienne Kabila Taratibu, ringleader of the group of dissidents suspected of plotting to overthrow the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, handed himself over to the police in Cape Town on Saturday morning. By DE WET POTGIETER and KHADIJA PATEL.

Emotions ran high within the 300,000-strong Congolese exile communities in South Africa over the weekend as news spread that the ringleader of the group of dissident Congolese suspected of plotting to overthrow the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Etienne Kabila Taratibu, had handed himself over to the police in Cape Town on Saturday morning.

“He is the mastermind. We have been observing these guys. We have a list of individuals and their names,” a spokesman for the Hawks told Reuters.

Kabila Taratibu will be flown to Pretoria this week, where he will appear in court with the other 19 Congolese suspected of plotting an overthrow of the Congolese government.

Still on the run is Major General William Amuri Yakutumba, said to be the military leader who founded the politico-military movement Mai-Mai Yakutumba in 2007, in the Fizi territory, the southern part of South Kivu. (This is the same area where Ché Guevara once unsuccessfully tried to unchain the revolution in the 1960s.)

Congolese expatriates in South Africa have had some strong reactions, with insults being levelled in all directions. Some singled out President Zuma, criticising him for protecting South African interests in the DRC above the human rights of the Congolese refugees.

Kabila family affair

Photo: At the Pretoria court on Friday, members of the Congolese expat community were vocal in denouncing Joseph Kabila and SA Government. (De Wet Potgieter)

Others have focused on the intricacies of the Kabila family. One particular tweet claimed that Joseph Kabila was “a fake son of Laurent Kabila”, a sentiment professed by Kabila Taratibu since he exiled to South Africa several years ago.

The exiled Kabila, who lives in Cape Town and boasts 3,588 friends on Facebook, maintains that he is in fact the biological son of the slain Laurent Kabila and that Joseph was adopted child from a Rwandan family. In an interview in 2006, he said the DRC president was in fact Hyppolite Kanambe and brought a coup against their father for “betraying the nation by running the country with foreigners”.

This is not the first time Joseph Kabila’s lineage has come under scrutiny.

For years many of Kabila’s detractors have argued that he is in fact “a foreigner”.

Most notably, leader of the opposition Congolese party The Union for Democracy and Social Progress, Etienne Tshisekedi, accused Joseph of not being Laurent Kabila’s legitimate son during a presidential election campaign in 2006.

Tshisekedi argued that Joseph was in fact of Rwandan origin – an accusation that carries some significance in a country still reeling from an invasion of Rwandan forces in a five-year war.

Joseph Kabila himself has not been indifferent to these accusations.

During a political rally in February 2006, his backers were forced to introduce Kabila’s mother, Sifa, and his brother and sister to quell rumours of Kabila’s background.

And even former vice-president Abdoulaye Yerodia insisted that he had himself witnessed Joseph Kabila’s birth in Fizi, a stronghold of the elder Kabila at the time.

Joseph Kabila, however, grew up in exile in Tanzania. The Kabila family lived in Dar es Salaam under the discreet protection of then-Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere – a man Joseph Kabila claims is his “role model”. In order to avoid the attention of Mobutu’s intelligence service, they pretended they were members of the Fipa people, a small ethnic group from south-west Tanzania.

But it is precisely this upbringing and the fact that Kabila speaks French with a decidedly English accent that has fuelled suspicion of his background.

In another interview in 2007, Etienne Kabila Taratibu told a Congolese journalist in Cape Town that the DRC should be ruled by the Congolese. He also reiterated his earlier stance soon after his father’s assassination in January 2001, denouncing the way that Joseph had “monopolised all the legacy of Laurent-Désiré Kabila”.

“It is true that Joseph was born of [a] Rwandan father and mother, Christopher Kanambe and Marcelline Katerede, who currently live in Kampala, Uganda,” he added.

Joseph and his twin sister were allegedly adopted by Laurent Kabila four months after their birth when their father, Christopher Kanambe, died.

According to Kabila Taratibu, he constantly lives under the threat of being killed by his opponents.

“I have an ideal that my country should be ruled by the Congolese without the interference by foreigners,” he proclaimed. “For this I will fight to the supreme sacrifice for my country.”

If indeed Etienne Kabila Taratibu’s involvement in the alleged coup plot against Joseph Kabila is proven, then these sentiments go some way to explaining the motivation behind it all.

Meanwhile, it is unclear whether the other wanted suspect, General Yakutumba, is still in South Africa.

His Mai Mai Yakutumba movement was created by dissidents from war-era armed factions who were opposed to participating in the process of army integration during the transition between 2003 and 2006. Yakutumba, at the time a battalion commander with the rank of captain, declared that he refused to re-deploy his troops from Fizi territory, as long as troops from the Banyamulenge community did not disarm or send their troops away for army integration.

According to Judith Verweijen, writing in Congo Siasa, the political wing of the movement is called PARC (Parti pour l’Action et la Reconstruction du Congo), and is headed by Raphael Looba Undji. She cautions, “Contrary to popular images of the Mai Mai as uncivilised “bush warriors”, both these leaders are university-educated intellectuals.”

Verweijen stresses that supporters of the Mai Mai Yakutumba consider the regime of Kabila junior to be complicit with the Rwandophones and their plan to “Balkanise” the DRC, backed by resource-hungry imperialist powers.

Although the ongoing conflict in the DRC is suspected to have spawned shady business deals, Kabila himself has not been directly implicated in any. Not yet, anyway. Many of the Congolese expatriates venting their anger at the South African government, however, feel the arrest of the rebel suspects is another example of the South African government using its might to protect the rule of its ally, Joseph Kabila. DM

Mali threatens to become another Afghanistan, Says Canada

(Reuters) – Canada is unlikely to commit troops to the French-led campaign against Islamist rebels in Mali because it is threatening to become a counter-insurgency operation similar to those in Iraq and Afghanistan, Foreign Minister John Baird said on Tuesday.

Last month Ottawa extended the loan of a C-17 military cargo plane to the French operations in Mali until February 15, while making clear it had no plans to contribute soldiers.

“I am very cautious about sending in potentially thousands of Canadian troops to Malian soil … to what is already is amounting to a counter-insurgency. We’re not at the drop of a hat going to get into another Afghanistan,” Baird told a parliamentary committee.

Canada’s appetite for military intervention is low following 10 years of military involvement in Afghanistan, ending in 2011, during which 158 soldiers were killed. Canada stayed out of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Baird also laughed off the suggestion that Canada could eventually provide troops to serve as peacekeepers.

“On one side we have a military government that took power in a coup last year and on the other side an al Qaeda affiliate. I don’t think they’re going to sign on for a peacekeeping mission,” Baird said.

“It’s very much going to be an insurgency on the ground like we’ve seen in Iraq and like we’ve seen in Afghanistan.”

Rather than sending in troops Canada could support West African regional group ECOWAS, the United Nations and Mali’s neighbors, Baird said. He did not give details.

Rwandan genocide suspect questions evidence

Leon Mugesera;accused of helping incite the Rwandan genocide

Leon Mugesera;accused of helping incite the Rwandan genocide

KIGALI — Rwandan ex-politician Leon Mugesera, who is on trial for incitement to genocide, on Tuesday questioned the authenticity of a recording in which he allegedly described Tutsis as “cockroaches”.

The audio, which is the prosecution’s only evidence against him, is of a 1992 speech in which Mugesera allegedly used a series of metaphors to call on fellow Hutus to kill their Tutsi countrymen.

The prosecution has argued the speech helped trigger the Rwandan genocide two years later in which an estimated 800,000 people, mainly Tutsis, died.

“During my initial trial in Canada in 2005 … an expert in audio-video analysis from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police discovered some anomalies in the speech,” Mugesera told the Kigali court.

“If the speech Rwanda sent to Canada is the same as what the prosecution has and if it’s a copy of the original … then it should be subjected to verification,” he added.

Mugesera was deported from Canada in January 2012 after 15 years of court battles and has already obtained a number of postponements in Rwanda.

In response, prosecutor Martin Ngoga said that “while appearing before the Canadian Supreme Court, Mugesera admitted the authenticity of the speech but he has now opted to change his version in the Rwandan courts”.

The hearing will continue Thursday.

Nigeria: Can APC Halt Our Voyage To Damned Destination?

By Kelechi Jeff Eme
My initial temptation was to conclude that our leaders are solo in undertaking the ignoble journey to eternal damnation until senior members of the “oppressive gang” effused in their usual self while clobbering together a supposedly mega opposition party. The subsequent reactions depicted the true revelation of the Nigerian

situation. I was in fact rescued by the recent development from possible accusation of myopic analysis of public affairs.  I have always been averse to the saying that the people deserve the government they get. My argument is that the people are liable to the extent that their group endurance limit as a linear function of their effort in demanding for social justice is not exceeded. The truth of the matter is that I am conclusively inclined to believe that we gave our leaders the ammunition to decimate us.

The recent merging of the three biggest opposition parties and a fraction of the fourth is a huge lesson in not to overestimate the political sagacity of the average Nigerian. Doing the contrary could amount to attempting to establish a “firm” grip on sand in a moving truck. A good political analyst in Nigeria must include ethnicity, religion and hunger in order to arrive at a fair view of trending orientations. The Action Congress of Nigeria (CAN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and the All Nigerian Peoples’ Party (ANPP) merged with the Rochas Okorocha’s wing of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) in a landmark political unification never witnessed in Nigeria.  The big question however is how strong rooted is the new political party?

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has supposedly swallowed the merged parties but it is debatable whether the subsumed parties have weaned themselves of their old names, tags and characteristics. Coining a name is the easiest of the tasks facing the new party. Nigerians are adept at churning out eye catching names. Any doubter should visit a movie shop to feast his eyes on Nollywood titles. A big challenge facing the party is how it can overcome the burden of the peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP).  The PDP has established itself as a party of anything goes which thrives on feudalistic definition of democratic ethos. This tendency has been the breeder of the opaque internal democracy prevailing in the party. This has manifested in the party’s preference for ‘Babacracy, Ogacracy and fixercracy’ at all levels to the well established politics of ideology and merit. Unfortunately, the merged parties trailed the PDP in the institutionalization of internal democratic principles. Will the APC with no personalized ownership of the party chart a new way forward?

The promoters of APC committed one fundamental error in their haste to announce the birth of the new party. Its inability to categorically differentiate the Rochas arm of APGA from the established structure of the party portrayed it as being in a hurry to outdoor a national party and in process presented itself as a non-believer in due process. The leaders should have known that the process must be as good as the final product to be politically acceptable. There was no basis immersing itself in unnecessary controversy at birth.

Now that APGA has made its point on non-participation in the merger, the onus is on it to restructure itself and rebuild a party that will contribute meaningfully to the economic and political development of the nation. Wasting useful time attacking the APC will amount to a huge distraction on whatever goals the party has set for itself. On Rochas participation in the merger without the express approval of his party, only posterity will determine whether he made a wise political decision or not.

One troubling aspect of the merger is the unraveling of a section of Nigerians who are desirous for change but unable to participate in any way towards engendering that change. They either out of bigotry or hunger are expressing selfish pessimism on the viability of the new party. Some ridiculously described it as a congregation of strange bedfellows who are power hungry and willing to snatch power from the incumbent for the sole purpose of dipping their fingers into our coffers. I am genuinely perplexed by this mindset. Is the ruling PDP peopled by familiar bedmates?

If majority of Nigerians are in agreement that the fourteen years administration of PDP at national level has been a colossal failure, will supporting the emergence of a mega opposition party not be the politically wise thing to do? A mega opposition party has the capacity to put the government on its toes and in the process force it to deliver the elusive dividends of democracy to the people. In fact the birth of APC has forced the warring parties in PDP to close ranks and focus on governance. It is a good development that it fully appreciates the emerging dangers irrespective of their officials mouthing to the contrary.

The political terrain is littered with men and women of deficient character who exhibit their moral bankruptcy without qualms. The APC must ensure that individuals suffering from acute logorrhea are prevented from speaking for the party on policy and strategy. The merging members of the merged party should do away with their undemocratic and corrupt appreciation of politics prior to the present development. They will gain the confidence of Nigerians if they practice true democracy in the election of their officials. Nigerians are tired of imposition of candidates who owe no allegiance to the masses.

Finally, I wish to ask again: have the parties really merged? It is surprising that senior members of the party still speak on behalf of the supposedly defunct parties. This is nothing but portrayal of the inherent unbelief in the new party by members of the subsumed parties. One thing the people of Nigeria will not do in 2015 is to exchange a PDP dog for an APC monkey. Taking the unpopularity of the PDP as the sole winning magic will be the killer of the APC. Presentation of good manifesto and candidates imbued with vision and integrity is essential in thumping PDP in a presidential pool. We are already on a collective voyage to damned destination. Can APC put a halt to it?

KELECHI EME
Kelechi_eme@yahoo.com