Tunisia Ruling Party Suspends Prime Minister’s Membership

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Tunisia Ruling Party Suspends Prime Minister’s Membership

Sunday, 16 September, 2018 – 11:00
Tunisia’s Prime Minister Youssef Chahed talks during an interview with Reuters in Tunis, Tunisia, September 29, 2016. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi
Tunisia – Almunji Suaidani
Tunisia’s ruling Nidaa Tounes party froze the prime minister’s membership.

“The party decided to freeze the membership of Chahed,” Nidaa Tounes said in a statement.

Following long discussions that lasted for hours on Friday, the party took that decision that might lead in a further phase to a temporary dismissal of Chahed. During his visit to one of the schools in the north of the capital, Chahed refused to comment.

Wafa Makhlouf, a founding member of Nidaa Tounes, expressed objection and other members’ rejection of the statement content – a stance that shows affection with the prime minister who aspires to play a key political role bigger than the one determined for him when he was first appointed a prime minister.

Makhlouf expressed concern regarding the current condition in the country.

A former leader in Nidaa Tounes Riad Alaziz expected the number of deputies from the National Coalition bloc to reach 55, and all of them would be supporting the political program of Chahed. This makes the bloc come second after Ennahda Movement and push Nidaa Tounes to the third place.

This parliamentary bloc works on ensuring positive outcomes of Chahed government during the upcoming voting over the financial law 2019, also through voting in favor of Chahed carrying out a partial amendment in the government, as well as conducting huge reforms and implementing a development program.

Kenya: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This East African Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Kenya

Introduction Founding president and liberation struggle icon Jomo KENYATTA led Kenya from independence in 1963 until his death in 1978, when President Daniel Toroitich arap MOI took power in a constitutional succession. The country was a de facto one-party state from 1969 until 1982 when the ruling Kenya African National Union (KANU) made itself the sole legal party in Kenya. MOI acceded to internal and external pressure for political liberalization in late 1991. The ethnically fractured opposition failed to dislodge KANU from power in elections in 1992 and 1997, which were marred by violence and fraud, but were viewed as having generally reflected the will of the Kenyan people. President MOI stepped down in December 2002 following fair and peaceful elections. Mwai KIBAKI, running as the candidate of the multiethnic, united opposition group, the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC), defeated KANU candidate Uhuru KENYATTA and assumed the presidency following a campaign centered on an anticorruption platform. KIBAKI’s NARC coalition splintered in 2005 over the constitutional review process. Government defectors joined with KANU to form a new opposition coalition, the Orange Democratic Movement, which defeated the government’s draft constitution in a popular referendum in November 2005. A disputed presidential election victory by KIBAKI over challenger Raila ODINGA in December 2007 led to widespread rioting. Following talks, the two candidates agreed to an accord establishing the office of prime minister and the creation of a coalition government.
History Palaeontologists have discovered many fossils of prehistoric animals in Kenya. At one of the rare dinosaur fossil sites in Africa, two hundred Cretaceous theropod and giant crocodile fossils have been discovered in Kenya, dating from the Mesozoic Era, over 200 million years ago. The fossils were found in an excavation conducted by a team from the University of Utah and the National Museums of Kenya in July-August 2004 at Lokitaung Gorge, near Lake Turkana.[7]

Fossils found in East Africa suggest that primates roamed the area more than 20 million years ago. Recent finds near Kenya’s Lake Turkana indicate that hominids such as Homo habilis (1.8 and 2.5 million years ago) and Homo erectus (1.8 million to 350,000 years ago) are possible direct ancestors of modern Homo sapiens and lived in Kenya during the Pleistocene epoch. In 1984 one particular discovery made at Lake Turkana by famous palaeoanthropologist Richard Leakey and Kamoya Kimeu was the skeleton of a Turkana boy belonging to Homo erectus from 1.6 million years ago. Previous research on early hominids is particularly identified to Louis Leakey and Mary Leakey, who are responsible for the preliminary archaeological research at Olorgesailie and Hyrax Hill. Later work at the former was undertaken by Glynn Isaac.

Pre-colonial history

Cushitic-speaking people from northern Africa moved into the area that is now Kenya beginning around 2000 BC. Arab traders began frequenting the Kenya coast around the 1st century AD. Kenya’s proximity to the Arabian Peninsula invited colonization, and Arab and Persian settlements sprouted along the coast by the 8th century. During the first millennium AD, Nilotic and Bantu-speaking peoples moved into the region, and the latter now comprise three-quarters of Kenya’s population.

In the centuries preceding colonization, the Swahili coast of Kenya was part of the east African region which traded with the Arab world and India especially for ivory and slaves (the Ameru tribe is said to have originated from slaves escaping from Arab lands some time around the year 1700.). Initially these traders came mainly from Arab states, but later many also came from Zanzibar (such as Tippu Tip).

Swahili, a Bantu language with many Arabic loan words, developed as a lingua franca for trade between the different peoples.

The Luo of Kenya descend from early agricultural and herding communities from western Kenya’s early pre-colonial history. The Luo people and dialects of their language have historic roots across the Lake Victoria region. Chief among the powerful families to which the Luo trace their ancestry were the Sahkarias of Kano, the Jaramogis of Ugenya, and the Owuors of Kisumo, whose clans married several wives and had multitudes of grandchildren and heirs to various chieftainships. Leaders of these lineages typically had multiple wives and intermarried with their neighbours in Uganda and Sudan. The Luo tribe, through intermarriages and wars, are part of the genetic admixture that includes all modern East African ethnic groups as well as members of Buganda Kingdom, the Toro Kingdom, and the Nubians of modern day Sudan. In recent times, the Luo have had many enemies with whom they fought for access to water, cattle, and land including the Nandi, Kipsigis and the Kisii. As a result of these wars were peace treaties and intermarriages were resolved resulting in a mixture of cultural ideals and practices. As with all so-called tribes of modern day East Africa, Luo history is intricately interwoven with the histories of their friends, enemies and neighbours and attest to the complexity of East African precolonial history.

Colonial history

The Portuguese were the first Europeans to explore the region of current-day Kenya, Vasco da Gama having visited Mombasa in 1498. Gama’s voyage was successful in reaching India and this permitted the Portuguese to trade with the Far East directly by sea, thus challenging older trading networks of mixed land and sea routes, such as the Spice trade routes that utilized the Persian Gulf, Red Sea and caravans to reach the eastern Mediterranean. The Republic of Venice had gained control over much of the trade routes between Europe and Asia. After traditional land routes to India had been closed by the Ottoman Turks, Portugal hoped to use the sea route pioneered by Gama to break the once Venetian trading monopoly. Portuguese rule in East Africa focused mainly on a coastal strip centred in Mombasa. The Portuguese presence in East Africa officially began after 1505, when flagships under the command of Don Francisco de Almeida conquered Kilwa, an island located in what is now southern Tanzania. In March 1505, having received from Manuel I the appointment of viceroy of the newly conquered territory in India, he set sail from Lisbon in command of a large and powerful fleet, and arrived in July at Quiloa (Kilwa), which yielded to him almost without a struggle. A much more vigorous resistance was offered by the Moors of Mombasa, but the town was taken and destroyed, and its large treasures went to strengthen the resources of Almeida. Attacks followed on Hoja (now known as Ungwana, located at the mouth of the Tana River), Barawa, Angoche, Pate and other coastal towns until the western Indian Ocean was a safe haven for Portuguese commercial interests. At other places on his way, such as the island of Angediva, near Goa, and Cannanore, the Portuguese built forts, and adopted measures to secure the Portuguese supremacy. Portugal’s main goal in the east coast of Africa was take control of the spice trade from the Arabs. At this stage, the Portuguese presence in East Africa served the purpose of control trade within the Indian Ocean and secure the sea routes linking Europe to Asia. Portuguese naval vessels were very disruptive to the commerce of Portugal’s enemies within the western Indian Ocean and were able to demand high tariffs on items transported through the sea due to their strategic control of ports and shipping lanes. The construction of Fort Jesus in Mombasa in 1593 was meant to solidify Portuguese hegemony in the region, but their influence was clipped by the British, Dutch and Omani Arab incursions into the region during the 17th century. The Omani Arabs posed the most direct challenge to Portuguese influence in East Africa and besieged Portuguese fortresses, openly attacked naval vessels and expelled the remaining Portuguese from the Kenyan and Tanzanian coasts by 1730. By this time the Portuguese Empire had already lost its interest on the spice trade sea route due to the decreasing profitability of that business.

Omani Arab colonization of the Kenyan and Tanzanian coasts brought the once independent city-states under closer foreign scrutiny and domination than was experienced during the Portuguese period. Like their predecessors, the Omani Arabs were primarily able only to control the coastal areas, not the interior. However, the creation of clove plantations, intensification of the slave trade and relocation of the Omani capital to Zanzibar in 1839 by Seyyid Said had the effect of consolidating the Omani power in the region. Arab governance of all the major ports along the East African coast continued until British interests aimed particularly at ending the slave trade and creation of a wage-labour system began to put pressure on Omani rule. By the late nineteenth century, the slave trade on the open seas had been completely outlawed by the British and the Omani Arabs had little ability to resist the Royal Navy’s ability to enforce the directive. The Omani presence continued in Zanzibar and Pemba until the 1964 revolution, but the official Omani Arab presence in Kenya was checked by German and British seizure of key ports and creation of crucial trade alliances with influential local leaders in the 1880s. However, the Omani Arab legacy in East Africa is currently found through their numerous descendants found along the coast that can directly trace ancestry to Oman and are typically the wealthiest and most politically influential members of the Kenyan coastal community.

However, most historians consider that the colonial history of Kenya dates from the establishment of a German protectorate over the Sultan of Zanzibar’s coastal possessions in 1885, followed by the arrival of the Imperial British East Africa Company in 1888. Incipient imperial rivalry was forestalled when Germany handed its coastal holdings to Britain in 1890. This followed the building of the Kenya-Uganda railway passing through the country. This was resisted by some tribes, notably the Nandi led by Orkoiyot Koitalel Arap Samoei for ten years from 1895 to 1905, the British eventually built the railway. It is believed that the Nandi were the first tribe to be put in a native reserve to stop them from disrupting the building of the railway. During the railway construction era, there was a significant inflow of Indian peoples who provided the bulk of the skilled manpower required for construction. These people remained in Kenya and formed the core of several distinct Indian communities such as the Ismaili muslim and Sikh communities.

At the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, the governors of British East Africa (as the Protectorate was generally known) and German East Africa agreed a truce in an attempt to keep the young colonies out of direct hostilities. However Lt Col Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck took command of the German military forces, determined to tie down as many British resources as possible. Completely cut off from Germany by the Royal Navy, von Lettow conducted an effective guerilla warfare campaign, living off the land, capturing British supplies, and remaining undefeated. He eventually surrendered in Zambia eleven days after the Armistice was signed in 1918. To chase von Lettow the British deployed Indian Army troops from India and then needed large numbers of porters to overcome the formidable logistics of transporting supplies far into the interior by foot. The Carrier Corps was formed and ultimately mobilised over 400,000 Africans, contributing to their long-term politicisation.

During the early part of the twentieth century, the interior central highlands were settled by British and other European farmers, who became wealthy farming coffee and tea. By the 1930s, approximately 30,000 white settlers lived in the area and were offered undue political powers because of their effects on the economy. The area was already home to over a million members of the Kikuyu tribe, most of whom had no land claims in European terms (but the land belonged to the ethnic group), and lived as itinerant farmers. To protect their interests, the settlers banned the growing of coffee, introduced a hut tax, and the landless were granted less and less land in exchange for their labour. A massive exodus to the cities ensued as their ability to provide a living from the land dwindled.

In 1951, Sir Horace Hector Hearne became Chief Justice in Kenya (coming from Ceylon, where he had also been Chief Justice) and sat in the Supreme Court in Nairobi. He held that position until 1954 when he became an Appeal Justice of the West African Court of Appeal. On the night of the death of King George VI, 5 February 1952, Hearne escorted The Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, as she then was, to a state dinner at the Treetops Hotel, which is now a very popular tourist retreat. It was there that she “went up a princess and came down a Queen”.[8] She returned immediately to England, accompanied by Hearne.

From October 1952 to December 1959, Kenya was under a state of emergency arising from the Mau Mau rebellion against British rule. The governor requested and obtained British and African troops, including the King’s African Rifles. In January 1953, Major General Hinde was appointed as director of counter-insurgency operations. The situation did not improve for lack of intelligence, so General Sir George Erskine was appointed commander-in-chief of the colony’s armed forces in May 1953, with the personal backing of Winston Churchill.

The capture of Warũhiũ Itote (a.k.a. General China) on 15 January 1954 and the subsequent interrogation led to a better understanding of the Mau Mau command structure. Operation Anvil opened on 24 April 1954 after weeks of planning by the army with the approval of the War Council. The operation effectively placed Nairobi under military siege, and the occupants were screened and the Mau Mau supporters moved to detention camps. May 1953 also saw the Home Guard officially recognized as a branch of the Security Forces. The Home Guard formed the core of the government’s anti-Mau Mau strategy as it was composed of loyalist Africans, not foreign forces like the British Army and King’s African Rifles. By the end of the emergency the Home Guard had killed 4,686 Mau Mau, amounting to 42% of the total insurgents. The capture of Dedan Kimathi on 21 October 1956 in Nyeri signified the ultimate defeat of the Mau Mau and essentially ended the military offensive.

Post-colonial history

The first direct elections for Africans to the Legislative Council took place in 1957. Despite British hopes of handing power to “moderate” African rivals, it was the Kenya African National Union (KANU) of Jomo Kenyatta that formed a government shortly before Kenya became independent on 12 December 1963. During the same year, the Kenyan army fought the Shifta War against ethnic Somalis determined to see the NFD join with the Republic of Somalia. The Shiftas inflicted heavy casualties on the Kenyan armed forces but were defeated in 1967.

Kenya, fearing an invasion from militarily stronger Somalia, in 1969 signed a defence pact with Ethiopia which is still in effect[2]. Suffering from droughts and floods, NFD is the least developed region in Kenya. However, since the 1990s, Somali refugees-turned-wealthy businessmen have managed to transform the one-time slum of Eastleigh into the most prosperous commercial centre of Eastlands and increasingly much of Nairobi.[3]

In 1964, Kenyatta became Kenya’s first president. At Kenyatta’s death in 1978, Daniel arap Moi became President. Daniel arap Moi retained the Presidency, being unopposed in elections held in 1979, 1983 (snap elections) and 1988, all of which were held under the single party constitution. The 1983 elections were held a year early, and were a direct result of an abortive military coup attempt on 1 August 1982.

The abortive coup was masterminded by a lowly ranked Air Force serviceman, Senior Private Hezekiah Ochuka and was staged mainly by enlisted men in the Air Force. The attempt was quickly suppressed by Loyalist forces led by the Army, the General Service Unit (GSU) — a paramilitary wing of the police — and later the regular police, but not without civilian casualties. This event led to the disbanding of the entire Air Force and a large number of its former members were either dismissed or court-martialled.

The election held in 1988 saw the advent of the mlolongo (queuing) system, where voters were supposed to line up behind their favoured candidates instead of a secret ballot[citation needed]. This was seen as the climax of a very undemocratic regime and it led to widespread agitation for constitutional reform. Several contentious clauses, including one that allowed for only one political party were changed in the following years[citation needed]. In democratic, multiparty elections in 1992 and 1997, Daniel arap Moi won re-election. In 2002, Moi was constitutionally barred from running, and Mwai Kǐbakǐ, running for the opposition coalition “National Rainbow Coalition” — NARC, was elected President. The elections, judged free and fair by local and international observers, marked a turning point in Kenya’s democratic evolution. Kenya is one of the most politically distinguished countries in Africa

Geography Location: Eastern Africa, bordering the Indian Ocean, between Somalia and Tanzania
Geographic coordinates: 1 00 N, 38 00 E
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 582,650 sq km
land: 569,250 sq km
water: 13,400 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly more than twice the size of Nevada
Land boundaries: total: 3,477 km
border countries: Ethiopia 861 km, Somalia 682 km, Sudan 232 km, Tanzania 769 km, Uganda 933 km
Coastline: 536 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Climate: varies from tropical along coast to arid in interior
Terrain: low plains rise to central highlands bisected by Great Rift Valley; fertile plateau in west
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Kenya 5,199 m
Natural resources: limestone, soda ash, salt, gemstones, fluorspar, zinc, diatomite, gypsum, wildlife, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 8.01%
permanent crops: 0.97%
other: 91.02% (2005)
Irrigated land: 1,030 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 30.2 cu km (1990)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 1.58 cu km/yr (30%/6%/64%)
per capita: 46 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: recurring drought; flooding during rainy seasons
Environment – current issues: water pollution from urban and industrial wastes; degradation of water quality from increased use of pesticides and fertilizers; water hyacinth infestation in Lake Victoria; deforestation; soil erosion; desertification; poaching
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: the Kenyan Highlands comprise one of the most successful agricultural production regions in Africa; glaciers are found on Mount Kenya, Africa’s second highest peak; unique physiography supports abundant and varied wildlife of scientific and economic value
 
People Population: 37,953,838
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 42.2% (male 8,065,789/female 7,953,077)
15-64 years: 55.2% (male 10,498,468/female 10,434,764)
65 years and over: 2.6% (male 457,886/female 543,854) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 18.6 years
male: 18.5 years
female: 18.8 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.758% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 37.89 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 10.3 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.84 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 56.01 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 58.95 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 53.02 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 56.64 years
male: 56.42 years
female: 56.87 years

Yemeni Government Adopts Currency-Reviving Economic Measures

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Yemeni Government Adopts Currency-Reviving Economic Measures

Monday, 10 September, 2018 – 11:00
An employee counts stacks of Yemeni currency at Yemen’s central bank in Sanaa. (AFP)
Aden – Asharq Al-Awsat
In an effort to save the war-torn nation’s faltering currency and to address a diminishing economy, the Yemeni government announced executive measures on reforms approved by the national Economic Committee.

The government said it will withhold docking permits for luxury cargo, while reassuring that licenses for fuel shipments and five food commodities – wheat, rice, sugar, milk and edible oil– and medicine will continue being issued.

As head of the legitimate government, President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi had ordered forming a national Economic Committee presided by presidential adviser and economic and financial expert Hafez Moayad.

Barring the entry of non-basic shipments comes in an effort to reduce hard currency depletion lost through the import of luxury goods.

Economic Committee Head Moayad, in an official statement, confirmed that the committee has devised a mechanism for import processes relevant to five main commodities (wheat, rice, sugar, milk and edible oil), as well as means to resolve the problem facing the oil derivatives market– both with domestic consumption and the export of surplus.

He said that the committee handed a detailed briefing to authorities on Saturday.

In the document, the committee recommended establishing a workshop with traders and concerned parties to discuss mechanisms to be implemented and clarify them to commercial sector parties.

The mechanisms are claimed to be able to stabilize the currency and keep it from collapsing.

Moayad revealed that the Economic Committee, which consists of seven members, including the Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Central Bank, has completed its research functions and will be ready to assume other duties.

He added that it will follow up with bodies responsible for implementation.

In the meantime, the Yemeni Ministry of Transport began implementing procedures prohibiting the import of luxury goods.

According to the ministry, the government decided to restrict imports to basic commodities and oil derivatives by means of appropriations, collections and remittances based on Economic Committee mechanisms.

The mechanisms took effect on Sunday.

The government had decided earlier to raise salaries of government employees by 30 percent and production capacity in oil and gas fields after providing security guarantees for the resumption of export.

Practices of Iran-backed Houthi coup militias in Yemen, such as looting and pillaging of Sanaa Central Bank assets, have played a huge part in the national currency’s collapse.

Africa: Padding Bank Accounts Of A Few, Freedom Will Be Lost For A Couple Billion?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Djibouti on the Rise as Hub for Foreign Military Bases in Africa

Monday, 10 September, 2018 – 10:15
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh meet at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China November 23, 2017. (Reuters)
Djibouti – Sahwqi al-Rayyes
Last year, China launched its first overseas military base in Djibouti, positioning its base only 10 kilometers away from a sophisticated US base with a crew of over 6,000 marines. France, Italy and Japan also boast bases in the neighborhood.

Situated on the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean, at the southern entrance to the Red Sea, Djibouti controls access to the Suez Canal and the Indian Ocean, home to some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

In short, Djiboutian ports overlook waters that account for 25 percent of the world’s exports that flow into Asian and Mediterranean markets.

Since launching its military base, Beijing has not stopped displaying military ambitions on the African continent.

In late June, it hosted the first forum on security and defense cooperation between China and African countries. It lasted over three weeks and highlighted a growing Chinese presence in the continent.

The Chinese military role on the international arena has also been on the rise.

The forum, which will be held once every three years, aims to deepen China’s strategic partnership with Africa, meet mutual security and defense requirements and bolster the preparedness of its armed forces.

Beijing says Djibouti is ideally placed for China to resupply peacekeeping and humanitarian missions and combat piracy off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia.

Joining the scores of military bases, Saudi Arabia is about to complete its first-ever foreign military base in Djibouti.

A base off the shores of Djibouti will reduce war costs spent by the Saudi-led Arab Coalition in Yemen. The base will able to detect and intercept Iranian supplies to the Houthi militias passing through the Somali coast.

A Djiboutian defense official welcomed Saudi Arabia’s military presence in his country, saying that “brotherly relations exist between the two countries, and the military cooperation agreement is overseen by a joint committee.”

Getting approval for opening military bases is not an easy task, however.

The official told Asharq Al-Awsat that his country had previously rejected a Russian request to establish a military base “so that is not used in the conflict in Syria.”

In addition to hosting many Western military bases, Djibouti has also become a focal point for counter-terrorism activities on the African continent and the training of special forces in neighboring countries.

Saudi Forces Take Part in US-Led Military Exercises in Egypt

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Saudi Forces Take Part in US-Led Military Exercises in Egypt

Saturday, 8 September, 2018 – 19:00
The Bright Star 2018 military drills kick off in Egypt. (SPA)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Saudi forces took part in US-led military exercises in conducted in Egypt.

The US-Egyptian Bright Star 2018 exercise kicked off on Saturday with the participation of Greece, Britain, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Italy and France, in addition to observers from 16 countries.

Commanding officer of the participating Saudi force Colonel Nasser bin Hatlin al-Suhaimi said that their involvement is part of a pre-training curriculum prepared for the armed forces to engage in joint exercises, reported the Saudi Press Agency.

The exercise covers anti-terrorism operations and include training on combat, sea landing, diving, medical insurance and the use of live ammunition.

Saudi forces took part in this exercise with paratroopers and special security forces units, which have been assigned to carry out a number of major operational duties, especially combating terrorism and piracy.

IS THE E.U. GOING TO ‘LIBERATE TRIPOLI’?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Haftar Hints at ‘Liberating Tripoli’

Saturday, 8 September, 2018 – 09:15
European Parliament President Antonio Tajani arrives at a European Union leaders informal summit in Brussels, Belgium, February 23, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
Brussels, Cairo- Abdullah Mustafa and Khalid Mahmoud
Libyan National Army (LNA) commander Khalifa Haftar said Thursday that the “Tripoli crisis shouldn’t go longer and liberating the Libyan capital is inevitable.”

Speaking to tribal leaders in Benghazi, he declared that he would liberate Tripoli through a well-structured plan to end what he called militia rule.

“We will not be silent about the current situation in Tripoli anymore,” he stressed.

Haftar warned that, if elections in Libya are not transparent, his LNA will obstruct them.

The parliament called on its members to attend two sessions at its headquarters in Tobruk Monday and Tuesday in order to enact the bill of a referendum over the constitution. These sessions are the last chance before heading to the presidential elections in case the quorum is not met to pass the bill.

Meanwhile, disputes continued between France and Italy over the Libyan crisis, although Italy’s Defense Minister Elisabetta Trenta urged cooperation between the two countries.

In a related matter, European Parliament president Antonio Tajani said Friday that “the future of Libya is being decided now, and the EU has to play a central role in managing this crisis. If we are not able to carry out this task, we will leave the door open for the ambitions and interests of countries.”

“In the absence of a stable Libyan government that can control the country´s borders and territory, managing migration flows from Libya´s coast will become more difficult,” Tajani said, adding that the smuggling of weapons and drugs will continue to help terrorists, putting in danger the safety of African and European citizens.

“The country is a powder keg ready to explode.

“The clashes in Tripoli that caused over 200 dead over the last few days have further exacerbated internal conflicts and, despite an agreement on a ceasefire, the situation remains extremely fragile.”

Egypt Sentences 75 to Death

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Egypt Sentences 75 to Death, Hundreds to Jail Over 2013 Sit-In

Saturday, 8 September, 2018 – 14:30
This picture shows detainees inside the soundproof glass dock of the courtroom during the trial of 700 defendants including Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, widely known as Shawkan, in the capital Cairo, on September 8, 2018. Mohamed el-Shahed / AFP
Cairo- Asharq Al-Awsat
An Egyptian court on Saturday issued death sentences for 75 people, including prominent Muslim Brotherhood leaders, and jailed more than 600 others over a 2013 sit-in which ended with the killing of hundreds of protesters by security forces.

The sentencing concluded the mass trial of some 700 people accused of offenses including murder and inciting violence during the pro-Muslim Brotherhood protest at Rabaa Adawiya square in Cairo.

The government says many protesters were armed and that eight members of the security forces were killed.

In Saturday’s hearing at the vast Tora prison complex south of Cairo, a criminal court sentenced to death by hanging several Muslim Brotherhood leaders, including Essam al-Erian and Mohamed Beltagi and preacher Safwat Higazi.

Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Mohamed Badie and dozens more were given life sentences, judicial sources said. Others received jail sentences ranging from five to 15 years.

Furthermore, the court handed a five-year jail sentence to award-winning photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid.

Abu Zeid, widely known as Shawkan, is however expected to walk free soon, his lawyer said.

Shawkan was arrested in August 2013 as he covered deadly clashes in Cairo between security forces and supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

He was accused of “murder and membership of a terrorist organization” — charges that can carry the death penalty — but has already spent five years in jail.

Shawkan should, therefore, be able to leave prison “within a few days”, his lawyer Karim Abdelrady said as he welcomed the verdict.

Parliament Speaker Slams Demands for Algerian President’s Resignation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Parliament Speaker Slams Demands for Algerian President’s Resignation

Tuesday, 4 September, 2018 – 11:30
Algerian women passing the People’s National Assembly building in Algiers, Algeria. (AP)
Algiers – Boualem Goumrassa
Speaker of Algeria’s People’s National Assembly Said Bouhadja slammed opposition demands for President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down over their claims that he is “physically incapacitated to perform his duties.”

Speaking at an ordinary assembly session, he said that “a new Algeria has emerged, which is confirmed when compared to the Algeria of 20 years ago,” hinting to the period before Bouteflika came to power in 1999.

He noted that this “new Algeria” is enough to provide irrefutable answers to anyone doubting or questioning the president.

He was referring to opposition parties critical of Bouteflika’s policies, especially on economic issues, namely the Islamist “Movement of the Society for Peace” and the liberal “Jil Jadid” parties.

Bouhadja said that “the time of transition periods is over in Algeria, which sacrificed tens of thousands of martyrs to save the political institutions.

He made his remarks in reference to parties calling for a “transition” period that paves the way for the post-Bouteflika phase.

Democracy “is firmly established in our country and reaching power takes place within the dates stipulated in the constitution and through the will of the people, who are indisputable in their sovereignty,” stressed the speaker.

Bouhadja said of Bouteflika: “The nation and history attest that he dedicated all of his life to defend the freedom, dignity and sovereignty of the Algerian people.”

He praised the president’s efforts to establish the Algerian Civil Concord Law in 2000, which granted amnesty to about 6,000 extremists, all of whom were reintegrated into the society after spending years in prison on terrorism charges.

Lesotho: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This South African Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Lesotho

Introduction Basutoland was renamed the Kingdom of Lesotho upon independence from the UK in 1966. The Basuto National Party ruled for the first two decades. King MOSHOESHOE was exiled in 1990, but returned to Lesotho in 1992 and was reinstated in 1995. Constitutional government was restored in 1993 after seven years of military rule. In 1998, violent protests and a military mutiny following a contentious election prompted a brief but bloody intervention by South African and Botswanan military forces under the aegis of the Southern African Development Community. Subsequent constitutional reforms restored relative political stability. Peaceful parliamentary elections were held in 2002, but the National Assembly elections of February 2007 were hotly contested and aggrieved parties continue to periodically demonstrate their distrust of the results.
History The earliest inhabitants of the area were Khoisan hunter-gatherers. They were largely replaced by Bantu-speaking tribes during Bantu migrations.

The present Lesotho emerged as a single polity under paramount chief Moshoeshoe I in 1822. It was recognized by the United Kingdom on 13 December 1843, and on 12 March 1868 became one of the High Commission Territories. On 30 April 1965 it was granted autonomy. Its name changed when Lesotho gained full independence within the Commonwealth of Nations on October 4, 1966.

In January 1970 the ruling Basotho National Party (BNP) lost the first post-independence general elections, with 23 seats to the Basutoland Congress Party’s 36. Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan refused to cede power to the Basotho Congress Party (BCP), declared himself Tona Kholo (Sesotho translation of prime minister),[citation needed] and imprisoned the BCP leadership.

The BCP began a rebellion and then received training in Libya for its Lesotho Liberation Army (LLA) under the pretence of being Azanian People’s Liberation Army (APLA) soldiers of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC). Deprived of arms and supplies by the Sibeko faction of the PAC in 1978, the 178-strong LLA was rescued from their Tanzanian base by the financial assistance of a Maoist PAC officer but launched the guerrilla war with a handful of old weapons. The main force was defeated in northern Lesotho and later guerrillas launched sporadic but usually ineffectual attacks. The campaign was severely compromised when BCP’s leader, Ntsu Mokhehle, went to Pretoria. In the early 1980s, several Basotho who sympathized with the exiled BCP were threatened with death and attacked by the government of Leabua Jonathan. In September 1981 the family of Benjamin Masilo was attacked. A few days later, Edgar Mahlomola Motuba was taken from his home and murdered.

The BNP ruled by decree until January 1986 when a military coup forced it out of office. The Military Council that came to power granted executive powers to King Moshoeshoe II, who was until then a ceremonial monarch. But in 1987 the King was forced into exile after a falling out with the army. His son was installed as King Letsie III.

The chairman of the military junta, Major General Justin Metsing Lekhanya, was ousted in 1991 and replaced by Major General Elias Phisoana Ramaema, who handed over power to a democratically elected government of the BCP in 1993. Moshoeshoe II returned from exile in 1992 as an ordinary citizen. After the return to democratic government, King Letsie III tried unsuccessfully to persuade the BCP government to reinstate his father (Moshoeshoe II) as head of state.

In August 1994, Letsie III staged a military-backed coup that deposed the BCP government. The new government did not receive full international recognition. Member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) engaged in negotiations to reinstate the BCP government. One of the conditions Letsie III put forward for this was that his father should be re-installed as head of state. After protracted negotiations, the BCP government was reinstated and Letsie III abdicated in favor of his father in 1995, but Moshoeshoe II died in a car ‘accident’ in 1996 and was again succeeded by his son.

In 1997, the ruling BCP split over leadership disputes. Prime Minister Ntsu Mokhehle formed a new party, the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), and was followed by a majority of Members of Parliament, which enabled him to form a new government. Pakalitha Mosisili succeeded Mokhehle as party leader and the LCD won the general elections in 1998. Although the elections were pronounced free and fair by local and international observers and a subsequent special commission appointed by SADC, the opposition political parties rejected the results.

Opposition protests in the country intensified, culminating in a peaceful demonstration outside the royal palace in August 1998. Exact details of what followed are greatly disputed and it remain contested even within South Africa, but in September that year, a SADC task force operating on orders of unclear provenance entered the capital Maseru. While the Botswana Defence Force troops were welcomed, tensions with South African National Defence Force troops were high, resulting in fighting. Incidences of sporadic rioting intensified when South African troops hoisted a South African flag over the Royal Palace. By the time the SADC forces withdrew in May 1999, much of Maseru lay in ruins, and the southern provincial capital towns of Mafeteng and Mohale’s Hoek had seen the loss of over a third of their commercial real estate. A number of South Africans and Basotho also died in the fighting.

An Interim Political Authority (IPA), charged with reviewing the electoral structure in the country, was created in December 1998. The IPA devised a proportional electoral system to ensure that the opposition would be represented in the National Assembly. The new system retained the existing 80 elected Assembly seats, but added 40 seats to be filled on a proportional basis. Elections were held under this new system in May 2002, and the LCD won again, gaining 54% of the vote. But for the first time, opposition political parties won significant numbers of seats, and despite some irregularities and threats of violence from Major General Lekhanya, Lesotho experienced its first peaceful election. Nine opposition parties now hold all 40 of the proportional seats, with the BNP having the largest share (21). The LCD has 79 of the 80 constituency-based seats. Although its elected members participate in the National Assembly, the BNP has launched several legal challenges to the elections, including a recount; none has been successful.

Geography Location: Southern Africa, an enclave of South Africa
Geographic coordinates: 29 30 S, 28 30 E
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 30,355 sq km
land: 30,355 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Maryland
Land boundaries: total: 909 km
border countries: South Africa 909 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: temperate; cool to cold, dry winters; hot, wet summers
Terrain: mostly highland with plateaus, hills, and mountains
Elevation extremes: lowest point: junction of the Orange and Makhaleng Rivers 1,400 m
highest point: Thabana Ntlenyana 3,482 m
Natural resources: water, agricultural and grazing land, diamonds, sand, clay, building stone
Land use: arable land: 10.87%
permanent crops: 0.13%
other: 89% (2005)
Irrigated land: 30 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 5.2 cu km (1987)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.05 cu km/yr (40%/40%/20%)
per capita: 28 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: periodic droughts
Environment – current issues: population pressure forcing settlement in marginal areas results in overgrazing, severe soil erosion, and soil exhaustion; desertification; Highlands Water Project controls, stores, and redirects water to South Africa
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Geography – note: landlocked, completely surrounded by South Africa; mountainous, more than 80% of the country is 1,800 meters above sea level
People Population: 2,128,180
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 35.3% (male 377,784/female 372,840)
15-64 years: 59.8% (male 621,687/female 649,981)
65 years and over: 5% (male 42,348/female 63,540) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 21.2 years
male: 20.6 years
female: 21.8 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.129% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 24.41 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 22.33 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.78 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.67 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 78.59 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 83.01 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 74.03 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 40.17 years
male: 40.97 years
female: 39.34 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 3.13 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 28.9% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 320,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 29,000 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Mosotho (singular), Basotho (plural)
adjective: Basotho
Ethnic groups: Sotho 99.7%, Europeans, Asians, and other 0.3%,
Religions: Christian 80%, indigenous beliefs 20%
Languages: Sesotho (southern Sotho), English (official), Zulu, Xhosa
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 84.8%
male: 74.5%
female: 94.5%

Liberia: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This West African Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Liberia

Introduction Settlement of freed slaves from the US in what is today Liberia began in 1822; by 1847, the Americo-Liberians were able to establish a republic. William TUBMAN, president from 1944-71, did much to promote foreign investment and to bridge the economic, social, and political gaps between the descendents of the original settlers and the inhabitants of the interior. In 1980, a military coup led by Samuel DOE ushered in a decade of authoritarian rule. In December 1989, Charles TAYLOR launched a rebellion against DOE’s regime that led to a prolonged civil war in which DOE himself was killed. A period of relative peace in 1997 allowed for elections that brought TAYLOR to power, but major fighting resumed in 2000. An August 2003, peace agreement ended the war and prompted the resignation of former president Charles TAYLOR, who faces war crimes charges in The Hague related to his involvement in Sierra Leone’s civil war. After two years of rule by a transitional government, democratic elections in late 2005 brought President Ellen JOHNSON SIRLEAF to power. The UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) maintains a strong presence throughout the country, but the security situation is still fragile and the process of rebuilding the social and economic structure of this war-torn country will take many years.
History Indigenous peoples of West Africa

Anthropological research shows the region of Liberia was inhabited at least as far back as the 12th century, perhaps earlier. Mende speaking people expanded westward, forcing many smaller ethnic groups southward towards the Atlantic sea. The Deys, Bassa, Kru, Gola and Gissi were some of the earliest recorded arrivals. [3] This influx was compounded during the ancient decline of the Western Sudanic Mali Empire in 1375 and later in 1591 with the Songhai Empire. Additionally, inland regions underwent desertification, and inhabitants were pressured to move to the wetter Pepper Coast. These new inhabitants brought skills such as cotton spinning, cloth weaving, iron smelting, rice and sorghum cultivation, and social and political institutions from the Mali and Songhay Empires.

Shortly after the Manes conquered the region there was a migration of the Vai people into the region of Grand Cape Mount. The Vai were part of the Mali Empire who were forced to migrate when the empire collapsed in the fourteenth century. The Vai chose to migrate to the coastal region.

The ethnic Kru opposed the migration of the Vai into their region. An alliance of the Manes and Kru were able to stop the further migration of the Vai but the Vai remained in the Grand Cape Mount region (where the city of Robertsport is now located).

Littoral coast people built canoes and traded with other West Africans from Cap-Vert to the Gold Coast. Later European traders would barter various commodities and goods with local people, sometimes hoisting their canoes aboard. When the Kru began trading with Europeans, they initially traded in non-slave commodities but later became active participants in the African slave trade.

Kru laborers left their territory to work on plantations and in construction as paid laborers. Some even worked building the Suez and Panama Canals.

Another tribal group in the area was the Glebo. The Glebo were driven, as a result of the Manes invasion, to migrate to the coast of what later became Liberia.

Settlers from the United States

In 1822, the American Colonization Society established Liberia as a place to send freed African-American slaves. [5] African-Americans gradually migrated to the colony and became known as Americo-Liberians, where many present day Liberians trace their ancestry. On July 26, 1847, the Americo-Liberian settlers declared the independence of the Republic of Liberia.

The settlers regarded Africa as a “Promised Land”, but they did not integrate into an African society. Once in Africa, they referred to themselves as “Americans” and were recognized as such by local Africans and by British colonial authorities in neighbouring Sierra Leone. The symbols of their state — its flag, motto, and seal — and the form of government that they chose reflected their American background and diaspora experience. Lincoln University (founded as Ashmun Institute for educating young blacks in Pennsylvania in 1854) played an important role in supplying Americo-Liberians leadership for the new Nation. The first graduating class of Lincoln University, James R. Amos, his brother Thomas H. Amos, and Armistead Miller sailed for Liberia on the brig Mary C. Stevens in April, 1859 after graduation.

Indigenous Liberian women in 1910.

The religious practices, social customs and cultural standards of the Americo-Liberians had their roots in the antebellum American South. These ideals strongly influenced the attitudes of the settlers toward the indigenous African people. The new nation, as they perceived it, was coextensive with the settler community and with those Africans who were assimilated into it. Mutual mistrust and hostility between the “Americans” along the coast and the “Natives” of the interior was a recurrent theme in the country’s history, along with (usually successful) attempts by the Americo-Liberian minority to dominate what they identified to be savage native peoples. They named the land “Liberia,” which in the Romance languages, and in Latin in particular, means “Land of the Free,” as an homage to their freedom from slavery.

Historically, Liberia has enjoyed the support and unofficial cooperation of the United States government [6]. Liberia’s government, modeled after that of the United States, was democratic in structure, if not always in substance. After 1877 the True Whig Party monopolized political power in the country, and competition for office was usually contained within the party, whose nomination virtually ensured election. Two problems confronting successive administrations were pressure from neighboring colonial powers, Britain and France, and the threat of financial insolvency, both of which challenged the country’s sovereignty. Liberia retained its independence during the Scramble for Africa, but lost its claim to extensive territories that were annexed by Britain and France. Economic development was hindered by the decline of markets for Liberian goods in the late nineteenth century and by indebtedness on a series of loans, payments on which drained the economy.

Significant mid-twentieth century events

Two events were of particular importance in releasing Liberia from its self-imposed isolation. The first was the grant in 1926 of a large concession to the American-owned Firestone Plantation Company; that move became a first step in the (limited) modernization of the Liberian economy. The second occurred during World War II, when the United States began providing technical and economic assistance that enabled Liberia to make economic progress and introduce social change.

In a late night raid on April 12, 1980, a successful military coup was staged by a group of noncommissioned army officers led by Master Sergeant Samuel Kanyon Doe. The soldiers were a mixture of the various ethnic groups that had claimed marginalization from the hands of the minority Americo-Liberian settlers. They killed William R. Tolbert, Jr. in his mansion. He had been president for nine years. Constituting themselves the People’s Redemption Council, Doe and his associates seized control of the government and brought an end to Africa’s first republic. Significantly, Doe was the first Liberian head of state who was not a member of the Americo-Liberian elite. In the early 1980s, the United States provided Liberia more than $500 million for pushing the Soviet Union out of the country, and for providing the US exclusive rights to use Liberia’s ports and land (including allowing the CIA to use Liberian territory to spy on Libya).

Doe favored authoritarian policies, banning newspapers and outlawing various opposition parties. His tactic was to brand popular opposition parties as “socialist”, and therefore illegal according to the Liberian constitution, while allowing less popular minor parties to remain as a token opposition. Unfortunately for Doe, popular support would then tend to realign behind one of these smaller parties, causing them to be labeled “socialist” in their turn.

In October 1985, Liberia held the first post-coup elections, ostensibly to legitimize Doe’s regime. Virtually all international observers agreed that the Liberia Action Party (LAP) led by Jackson Doe (no relation) had won the election by a clear margin. After a week of counting the votes, however, Samuel Doe fired the count officials and replaced them with his own Special Election Committee (SECOM), which announced that Samuel Doe’s ruling National Democratic Party of Liberia had won with 50.9% of the vote. In response, on November 12th, a counter-coup was launched by Thomas Quiwonkpa, whose soldiers briefly occupied the Executive Mansion and the national radio station, with widespread support throughout the country. Three days later, Quiwonkpa’s coup was overthrown. Following this failed coup, government repression intensified, as Doe’s troops killed more than 2000 civilians and imprisoned more than 100 opposing politicians, including Jackson Doe, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and BBC journalist Isaac Bantu.

1989 and 2003 civil wars

In late 1989, a civil war began. The harsh dictatorial atmosphere that gripped the country was due in large part to Sergeant Samuel Doe’s rule. An Americo-Liberian named Charles Taylor with the backing of neighbouring countries such as Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire entered Nimba County with around 100 men.[7] These fighters gained high levels of support with the local population who were disillusioned with their present government. A large section of the country came under the invaders’ control as a result. By this time a new player had also emerged. Yormie Prince Johnson (former ally of Taylor) had formed his own army and had gained tremendous support from the Gio and Mano ethnic groups.

In August 1990, the Economic Community Monitoring Group under the Economic Community of West African States organized its own military task force to intervene in the crisis. The troops were largely from Nigeria, Guinea and Ghana. After the meeting and on his way out, Doe who was traveling only with his personal staff, was ambushed and captured by members of the Gio Tribe who were loyal to Prince Yormie Johnson. The soldiers took him to the headquarters of Johnson in neighboring Caldwell, tortured and killed him.

With some financial support from the U.S., after prompting from Taylor that the Nigerians and Ghanainas were opposed to him, Senagalese troops were brought in.Their service were however shortlived, after a major outing with Taylor forces.

By September 1990 Doe’s forces controlled only a small area just outside the capital of Monrovia. After his death, and as a condition for the end of the conflict, interim president Amos Sawyer resigned in 1994, handing power to the Council of State. Prominent warlord Charles G. Taylor was elected as President in 1997, after leading a bloody insurgency backed by Libyan President Muammar al-Gaddafi. Taylor’s brutal regime targeted several leading opposition and political activists. In 1998, the government sought to assassinate child rights activist Kimmie Weeks for a report he had published on its involvement in the training of child soldiers, which forced him into exile. Taylor’s autocratic and dysfunctional government led to a new rebellion in 1999. More than 200,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the civil wars. The conflict intensified in mid-2003, and the fighting moved into Monrovia. As the power of the government shrank and with increasing international and American pressure for him to resign, President Taylor accepted an asylum offer from Nigeria, but vowed: “God willing, I will be back.” On March 29, 2006 he was extradited from Nigeria to Sierra Leone, where he had been indicted by the Special Court (a war crimes tribunal). Charles Taylor’s trial by that court is being held in the Hague, for security. He is charged with crimes against humanity, violations of the Geneva Conventions and “other serous violations of international humanitarian law”.[8]

Transitional government and elections

After the exile of Taylor, Gyude Bryant was appointed Chairman of the transitional government in late 2003. Because of failures of the Transitional Government in curbing corruption, Liberia signed onto GEMAP, a novel anti-corruption program. The primary task of the transitional government was to prepare for fair and peaceful democratic elections. With UNMIL troops safeguarding the peace, Liberia successfully conducted presidential elections in the fall of 2005. Twenty three candidates stood for the October 11, 2005 general election, with the early favorite George Weah, internationally famous footballer, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and member of the Kru ethnic group expected to dominate the popular vote. No candidate took the required majority in the general election, so that a run-off between the top two vote getters, Weah and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, was necessary. The November 8, 2005 presidential runoff election was won decisively by Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, a Harvard-trained economist. Both the general election and runoff were marked by peace and order, with thousands of Liberians waiting patiently in the Liberian heat to cast their ballots.

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf presidency

Daughter of the first indigenous Liberian to be elected to the national legislature, Jahmale Carney Johnson, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was born in rural Liberia. Widely celebrated for being the first elected female head of state in Africa, Johnson-Sirleaf’s election focused much international attention on Liberia. A former Citibank and World Bank employee, Johnson-Sirleaf’s career also includes heading the U.N. Development Programme for Africa [3]. Johnson-Sirleaf was jailed twice during the Doe administration before escaping and going into exile. As president, Johnson-Sirleaf hopes to bring her credentials as an economist to bear and enlist the help of the international community in rebuilding Liberia’s economy and infrastructure. Her efforts to have Liberia’s external debt of $3.5 billion cancelled were at least partially rewarded on November 12, 2007, when the IMF agreed to begin providing debt relief.[9] She has extended a special invitation to the Nigerian business community to participate in business opportunities in Liberia, in part as thanks for Nigeria’s help in securing Liberia’s peace. Exiled Liberians are also investing in the country and participating in Liberia’s rebuilding efforts.

In addition to focusing her early efforts to restore basic services like water and electricity to the capital of Monrovia, Johnson-Sirleaf has established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to address crimes committed during the later stages of Liberia’s long civil war.[10] She is also working to re-establish Liberia’s food independence. Johnson-Sirleaf also requested that Nigeria extradite accused war criminal and profiteer Charles Taylor.

Human rights situation

Amnesty International summarizes in its Annual Report 2006: “Sporadic outbreaks of violence continued to threaten prospects of peace. Former rebel fighters who should have been disarmed and demobilized protested violently when they did not receive benefits. Slow progress in reforming the police, judiciary and the criminal justice system resulted in systematic violations of due process and vigilante violence against criminal suspects. Laws establishing an Independent National Commission on Human Rights and a Truth and Reconciliation Commission were adopted. Over 200,000 internally displaced people and refugees returned to their homes, although disputes over land and property appropriated during the war raised ethnic tensions. UN sanctions on the trade in diamonds and timber were renewed. Those responsible for human rights abuses during the armed conflict continued to enjoy impunity. The UN Security Council gave peacekeeping forces in Liberia powers to arrest former President Taylor and transfer him to the Special Court for Sierra Leone if he should return from Nigeria, where he continued to receive asylum. Liberia made a commitment to abolish capital punishment. A new law on rape, which initially proposed imposition of the death penalty for gang rape, was amended to provide a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.” Former 22nd president Charles Taylor was later captured trying to escape across the border of Cameroon and has been sent to the International Criminal Court in The Hague for trial.

Geography Location: Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone
Geographic coordinates: 6 30 N, 9 30 W
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 111,370 sq km
land: 96,320 sq km
water: 15,050 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly larger than Tennessee
Land boundaries: total: 1,585 km
border countries: Guinea 563 km, Cote d’Ivoire 716 km, Sierra Leone 306 km
Coastline: 579 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; hot, humid; dry winters with hot days and cool to cold nights; wet, cloudy summers with frequent heavy showers
Terrain: mostly flat to rolling coastal plains rising to rolling plateau and low mountains in northeast
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Wuteve 1,380 m
Natural resources: iron ore, timber, diamonds, gold, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 3.43%
permanent crops: 1.98%
other: 94.59% (2005)
Irrigated land: 30 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 232 cu km (1987)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.11 cu km/yr (27%/18%/55%)
per capita: 34 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: dust-laden harmattan winds blow from the Sahara (December to March)
Environment – current issues: tropical rain forest deforestation; soil erosion; loss of biodiversity; pollution of coastal waters from oil residue and raw sewage
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation
Geography – note: facing the Atlantic Ocean, the coastline is characterized by lagoons, mangrove swamps, and river-deposited sandbars; the inland grassy plateau supports limited agriculture
People Population: 3,334,587 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 44% (male 734,375/female 731,287)
15-64 years: 53.3% (male 879,848/female 896,319)
65 years and over: 2.8% (male 45,175/female 47,583) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 18 years
male: 17.8 years
female: 18.2 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 3.661% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 42.92 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 21.45 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 15.14 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.95 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 143.89 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 159.5 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 127.81 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 41.13 years
male: 39.85 years
female: 42.46 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 5.87 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 5.9% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 100,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 7,200 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria and yellow fever
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
aerosolized dust or soil contact disease: Lassa fever
animal contact disease: rabies (2008)
Nationality: noun: Liberian(s)
adjective: Liberian
Ethnic groups: indigenous African 95% (including Kpelle, Bassa, Gio, Kru, Grebo, Mano, Krahn, Gola, Gbandi, Loma, Kissi, Vai, Dei, Bella, Mandingo, and Mende), Americo-Liberians 2.5% (descendants of immigrants from the US who had been slaves), Congo People 2.5% (descendants of immigrants from the Caribbean who had been slaves)
Religions: Christian 40%, Muslim 20%, indigenous beliefs 40%
Languages: English 20% (official), some 20 ethnic group languages, of which a few can be written and are used in correspondence
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 57.5%
male: 73.3%
female: 41.6%