Egypt’s President Calls for Expanding Cooperation with African States

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

 

Egypt’s President Calls for Expanding Cooperation with African States

Wednesday, 7 August, 2019 – 10:45
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during his meeting with the prime minister and several ministers. Photo provided by the presidency
Cairo – Asharq Al-Awsat
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has chaired a meeting aimed at discussing ways to expand cooperation with countries in the African continent.

The meeting brought together Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly and several ministers, including the ministers of electricity and renewable energy, finance, health and housing, trade and industry, agricultural and land reclamation, in addition to the head of General Intelligence.

Spokesman for the Egyptian Presidency Bassam Rady said Sisi “gave instructions to expand the scope of cooperation with African countries and build bridges of communication with them.”

He also advised to work hard in drafting and improving the mechanisms for joint African action.

The meeting addressed the steps taken to implement Egypt’s plan of action for taking over the African Union presidency, especially with regard to achieving economic integration after the enforcement of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in May and the official launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area during the latest exceptional AU summit in Niamey, Niger, said Rady.

It also tackled Egypt’s efforts to support infrastructure projects in Africa, such as the Cairo-Cape Town Highway as well as power and railway interconnection projects, which seek to boost continental integration, the spokesman added.

In a related development, several Egyptian and African lawmakers stressed during a meeting hosted at the Egyptian parliament the importance of issuing joint legislation and exchanging expertise.

They also shed light on the necessity of improving the investment climate, mainly in agriculture.

Sudan: Arab States Welcome Sudan’s Agreement on Constitutional Document

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

 

Arab States Welcome Sudan’s Agreement on Constitutional Document

Monday, 5 August, 2019 – 11:15
Deputy Head of Sudanese Transitional Military Council, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo and Sudan’s opposition alliance coalition’s leader Ahmad al-Rabiah hold up signed copies of the constitutional declaration during a signing ceremony in Khartoum, Sudan August 4, 2019. (Reuters)
Cairo, Jeddah – Sawsan Abu Hussein, Asharq Al-Awsat
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, Bahrain and GCC, Arab and Islamic organizations welcomed the agreement reached on the constitutional document between Sudan’s Transitional Military Council (TMC) and Forces of Freedom and Change in Sudan.

Saudi Arabia praised the qualitative step, saying it will move the country towards security, peace and stability.

The Kingdom commended efforts exerted by all parties to give priority to the national interest and open a new chapter in the country’s history, according to a source at the Foreign Ministry.

The source reiterated the Kingdom’s full commitment to support Sudan stemming from the close ties between the two countries and peoples.

Egypt also welcomed on Sunday the agreement for a new period of the transitional government, describing the deal as an important step to achieving security and stability in Sudan.

The Foreign Ministry asserted its full support to the choices and aspirations of the Sudanese people as well as the state institutions.

Recent steps that were taken in Sudan, including the agreement on the constitutional declaration and the agreement to form a civilian government, prove that Sudan is back on the constitutional path, read the statement, noting that the suspension of Sudan’s membership in the African Union should be lifted.

Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed the initial signing of the constitutional declaration, underlining the importance of the step in further establishing peace and stability in the country and realizing the aspirations of the Sudanese people in achieving progress and prosperity.

Bahrain appreciated the keenness of all parties on protecting the greater interest and for the efforts exerted to reach this agreement, according to the statement.

The Ministry reiterated Bahrain’s firm stance of solidarity with Sudan, especially during this crucial stage in history and its support for all that enhances Sudan’s interests and benefits its people.

For his part, UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said Sudan was turning over the page of the former regime and Muslim Brotherhood.

“Sudan is turning the page of the rule of Al-Bashir and the Muslim Brotherhood into a new era in its political history by turning to civil rule,” Gargash said on Twitter.

The Minister noted that the path to a state of institutions, stability and prosperity will not be filled with roses, asserting UAE’s confidence in Sudan and its people.

Also, GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif al-Zayani praised the signing of the constitutional document saying it is an important historic step to establish stability, security and peace in Sudan.

Zayani called upon the Sudanese people and all national forces to strengthen confidence and consensus, unite ranks and efforts, uphold national unity and embark on building a democratic and civil state in accordance with the principles of justice to achieve the aspirations of the Sudanese people.

OIC Secretary-General Yousef al-Othaimeen also welcomed the signing between the TMC and the Forces, which paves the way for handing over the administration of the country to a transitional civilian government.

Othaimeen stressed that this agreement is an important step in the course of the political process and the fulfillment of the requirements of the transitional period.

The Sec-Gen reiterated that OIC stands by Sudan at this delicate stage to achieve the aspirations of its people for security, peace, stability and development.

Tunisia to Witness Promising Olive Harvest

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

 

Tunisia to Witness Promising Olive Harvest

Monday, 5 August, 2019 – 11:15
Women harvest oil from trees in Sidi Thabet, Tunisia (File photo: Reuters)
Tunis – Mongi Saidani
Tunisia is expected to witness a promising olive harvest season this year with olive oil production reaching 350,000 tons, the Ministry of Agriculture has announced.

These prospects would make Tunisia the world’s second top oil producer after Spain, having for years been among the top five, competing with Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal.

Director General of Tunisia’s National Olive Oil Board, Chokri Bayoudh, said that during its recent meetings, the Board discussed mechanisms to support the quality and control the production of olive oil, further adjust the market and facilitate the access of exporters of olive oil and producers to state funding.

The government continues to support the development of the industry by planting millions of olive trees to ensure Tunisia stays among the top international producers. However, there remain several obstacles, namely lack of workers in olive harvesting which usually runs for a short period between November and March.

Last year, Tunisia’s olive oil production dropped to 140,000 tons, 117,000 of which were exported with a value of about $526 million, compared to a record high in 2017.

During recent years, Tunisia’s olive oil production reached 185,000 tons, however, it is expected to improve in the coming years to reach 230,000 tons at an annual rate. This will place Tunisia at a leading position among major international olive oil producers.

The Tunisian olive oil production is a major contributor to the economy’s stabilization. Reduced olive oil exports have affected the food trade, which was about $226 million during the first half of the year.

Production has improved globally this season among the largest producing countries except for Spain, showed figures.

Tunisia’s National Observatory of Agriculture (ONAGRI) announced that olive oil production in Spain will reach 1.35 million tons during the coming season, compared to 1.77 million tons in the previous season.

ONAGRI also noted that production in Italy will reach 270,000 tons and Greece 300,000 tons, marking an improvement compared to the previous season, and the rate in Portugal will reach 130,000 tons. These countries are among the most competitive with Tunisian olive oil in international markets.

Saudis: EU to Observe Elections in Tunisia

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

 

EU to Observe Elections in Tunisia

Sunday, 4 August, 2019 – 11:45
The head of Tunisian Independent High Authority for Elections, Nabil Baffoun, attends a news conference in Tunis, Tunisia, March 6, 2019. Reuters file photo
Tunis – Mongi Saidani
The European Union announced sending a 38-member Election Observation Mission (EOM) on August 23 to overlook presidential and parliamentary elections in Tunisia. It said this move comes as a response to a request by the Independent High Authority for Elections.

Ten observers will be deployed in Tunis, with the remainder distributed to several polling stations throughout the country.

According to the EU, the mission will work “independently, impartially and fully in line with international standards,” to monitor elections.

This would give greater credibility to the elections’ results and maintain the level of political support for the emerging Tunisian democracy.

Ten candidates have submitted their papers to run for the early presidential elections, scheduled to be held on September 15.

Five among these 10 represent well-known political parties including Head of the Democratic Patriots’ Unified Party Mongi Rahoui, President of the Democratic Current Mohamed Abbou, Head of the Republican People’s Union (L’Union Populaire Républicaine) Lotfi Mraihi, President of the Free Destourian Party (Free Constitutional Party) Abir Moussi and Head of the Heart of Tunisia Party Nabil Karoui

The other five, however, are independent and don’t represent any political party in the country, and they include Mounir Joumai, Nidal Karim, Hamdi Alia.

Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, Defense Minister Abdul Karim al-Zubaidi and former Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa are also expected to run for the presidential elections.

The number of political and social parties backing Zubaidi has increased on Saturday after leaderships of Ennahda Party and Nidaa Tounes announced they would vote for him.

In this context, Head of Tunisian Independent High Authority for Elections Nabil Baffoun affirmed the proposal to revise chapter 49 of the Tunisian Electoral Code concerning the appeals of the results relating to the presidential elections, or the enactment of a special statute relating to the electoral dates for the premature elections.

In case the deadlines were shortened, coordination with the Administrative Court (a court that hears appeals by the candidates) will take place in a bid to respect the constitutional term for electing new president within a maximum period of 90 days, which ends on October 24.

If the parliament approves the Independent High Authority for Elections’ proposal, the second round of presidential elections will be held before September 29, respecting constitutional deadlines.

Saudis: Sudan Detains 9 Soldiers over El-Obeid Killings

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

 

Sudan Detains 9 Soldiers over El-Obeid Killings

Friday, 2 August, 2019 – 10:30
Lieutenant General Shams El Din Kabbashi. Sudan News Agency
Asharq Al-Awsat
Sudan’s military council spokesman said on Friday that nine soldiers from the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have been dismissed and detained in connection with the killing of protesters this week.

Lieutenant General Shams El Din Kabbashi added that the governor of North Kordofan state and its security council would also be held accountable for the killing of six people, including four schoolchildren, in the state capital El-Obeid on Monday.

Opposition groups have accused the RSF, led by the deputy head of Sudan’s Transitional Military Council, of killing scores of protesters demanding a return to civilian rule since President Omar al-Bashir was ousted in April.

The RSF’s commander, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, has previously denied these claims and blamed “infiltrators” instead.

The main opposition coalition, the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC), welcomed the action against the RSF members, saying it would prevent further violence.

Hundreds of thousands of Sudanese took to the streets on Thursday in response to the killings in El-Obeid, and opposition medics said four more protesters were killed and many injured by gunfire in the capital’s twin city of Omdurman.

Saudi: Tunisia: $1.3b of Tourism Revenues Expected in 2019

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

 

Tunisia: $1.3b of Tourism Revenues Expected in 2019

Friday, 2 August, 2019 – 11:15
People walk next to Palmarium shopping mall in Tunis. — Reuters
Tunis – Mongi Saidani
Tunisian Tourism Minister Roni Trabelsi expected the revenues of the tourism sector to exceed TND4 billion (USD1.3 billion) at the end of the year.

The minister affirmed that the number of tourists to visit Tunisia would surpass nine million compared to eight million during the same period in 2018.

FTH (Fédération Tunisienne de l’Hôtellerie) president Khaled Fakhfakh affirmed the importance of the Algerian market in reviving the tourism sector, in which the Tunisian destination witnessed a surge of over 2 million Algerian tourists in the past years.

Also, development in the Russian market was remarkable with the flow of more than 600,00 Russians to Tunisia.

The tourism sector contributes to around 14.2 percent of the GDP and guarantees job opportunities to a minimum of 2 million Tunisians.

Previous figures showed a contribution of around 8 percent to the GDP, however, the relapse of other economy drivers’ performance (investments, exporting, expats’ transfers) gave the sector a greater position.

During the past six months, revenues of the season underwent an increase by 42.5 percent – the profits were estimated at a minimum of TND1.98 billion (USD650 million approximately), compared to the same period of last year.

Moreover, tourists arriving from the Maghreb rose up to 18.3 percent. Meanwhile, European tourists increased by 22 percent with the British percentage doubling compared to the past year, an increase of 119 percent.

As for French tourists, the total increased by 26.2 percent compared to the same period in 2018.

10 Most Populated Cities in the World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

10 Most Populated Cities in the World

Earth is home to more than 7.7 billion people and we have to put them somewhere. For millions of people, cities are that somewhere, with everyone existing next to each other with varying degrees of comfort. These are the 10 most populated cities in the world, according to the World Population Review.

Osaka, Japan | 19.2 Million

Credit: xavierarnau/iStock

For tourists, Osaka is about two things. The first is eating. The Japanese term “kuidaore,” which translates to “eat yourself broke” or “eat until you drop,” is frequently used to describe the city. The second is shopping. The city is full of stores, outlets, malls, bodegas, stalls and vendors. Between those two, you should have a pretty good idea of what your itinerary will be full of in Osaka.

Beijing, China | 20 Million

Credit: SeanPavonePhoto/iStock

There’s some irony in the fact that 20 million people have such ready access to the Forbidden City, a palace that traditionally carried strict, and often fatal, punishment for unauthorized visitors. Though not ironic is the fact that Beijing remains the seat of the Chinese government. That was the original point of the Forbidden City, after all.

Mumbai, India | 20.2 Million

Credit: saiko3p/Shutterstock

Mumbai is another one of those old cities that was renamed by the British empire, and has made the modern decision to change back. That’s why some readers may recognize the name Bombay, which was the name of the city up until 1995, when the political party Shiv Sena came to power in the city. Whatever you call it, there are a lot of people living in the city.

Dhaka, Bangladesh | 20.3 Million

Credit: travelview/Shutterstock

For a city with so many people, we haven’t heard a whole lot about Dhaka. It’s the capital of Bangladesh, so that’s something. It kind of makes it seem like a city of more than 20 million people is some kind of well-kept secret. Not to Bangladeshis, obviously, but to the rest of us.

Cairo, Egypt | 20.5 Million

Credit: Prin Adulyatham/Shutterstock

Unlike the other cities on this list, Cairo’s population growth is apparently on track for disaster. Just 11 years from now, in 2030, the city’s projected to hit 119 million and the government’s scrambling for solutions. Hopefully they figure something out quickly because 11 years is pretty much the blink of an eye when it comes to city planning.

Mexico City, Mexico | 21.7 Million

Credit: DC_Colombia/iStock

Mexico City’s origins are in some very cool terraforming done by the Aztecs. They expanded a small natural island in Lake Texcoco into an island large enough to house their fortified city, Tenochtitlán, by dumping dirt into the lake until the island was big enough. Today, the sprawl of Mexico City has far exceeded what the island could have held.

São Paulo, Brazil | 21.8 Million

Credit: f11photo/Shutterstock

São Paulo’s size caught us a little off guard. Rio de Janeiro is in the news so often that it’s almost like the default Brazilian city. But São Paulo’s population beats Rio’s by millions. It’s a financial center for Brazil but doesn’t sacrifice culture to achieve it. Case in point, São Paulo’s ethnic diversity is huge, with reasonably large Jewish, Japanese, Italian and Arab populations, among others.

Shanghai, China | 26.3 Million

Credit: Sven Hansche/Shutterstock

The fact that Beijing wasn’t the most populous city in China was a little surprising, though we’d say Shanghai would have been our second guess for “largest Chinese city.” Shanghai’s a great place to experience the convergence of old and new Chinese culture and certainly has enough going on that you won’t be bored. Lost maybe, but not bored.

Delhi, India | 29.4 Million

Credit: hadynyah/iStock

Delhi is expanding so much that it’s approaching the next step in the development of cities, where the word city may not even apply anymore. Megacity gets closer, but we’re almost thinking that a modernized form of city-state might be more appropriate. City will work for now, but we imagine there’s going to be an etymologically significant conversation happening in the Indian government soon.

Tokyo, Japan | 37.4 Million

Credit: yongyuan/iStock

Tokyo was the only city that could possibly be expected to top this list, even if you didn’t know the exact population. It’s huge and full of people, two things that seem like simple statements until you actually put them in context. It’s constantly brought up in conversations about population density, city planning and the psychology of living in a huge modern city and is the place to watch if humanity’s going to understand its urban future.

Nigeria: Death toll in Boko Haram funeral attack rises to 65

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF AL-JAZEERA NEWS)

 

Nigeria: Death toll in Boko Haram funeral attack rises to 65

Dozens of more bodies discovered following Saturday’s assault on mourners by Boko Haram fighters, say officials.

Nigeria: Death toll in Boko Haram funeral attack rises to 65
Officials said the attack could be a retaliation for the killing of 11 Boko Haram fighters two weeks ago [Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters]

An attack this weekend by Boko Haram fighters on a funeral in the northeastern state of Borno in Nigeria has left 65 people dead, almost three times the initial toll, a local official said.

Dozens of more bodies were discovered on Sunday following the assault a day before by gunmen on a village close to the regional capital, Maiduguri.

“It is 65 people dead and 10 injured,” said Muhammed Bulama, the local government chairman.

Bulama added that more than 20 people had died in the initial attack on a funeral gathering. Dozens more were killed as they tried to chase after the attackers.

The leader of a local anti-Boko Haram militia confirmed the death toll, giving a slightly different account of the attack.

Bunu Bukar Mustapha told AFP news agency that 23 people were killed as they returned from the funeral and “the remaining 42 were killed when they pursued the terrorists”.

Aisha: Boko Haram Huntress (25:07)

Bulama said he thought the latest attack was in retaliation for the killing two weeks ago of 11 Boko Haram fighters by local residents when the fighters approached their village. The residents also captured 10 automatic rifles.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday condemned the attack and directed the country’s air force and army to begin air patrols and ground operations to hunt down the attackers, a statement released by the president’s office said.

Boko Haram fighters have repeatedly attacked the surrounding Nganzai district.

Boko Haram has waged a decade-long  in northeast Nigeria that has killed around 27,000 people and displaced more than two million.

The group has splintered between the Boko Haram faction loyal to historic leader Abubakar Shekau and an affiliate of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) group.

Shekau’s group tends to hit softer targets including civilians, while the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) has since last year ratcheted up its campaign against the military.

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

From Nigeria to Zanzibar, Africa quietly played a critical role in US moon landing 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

From Nigeria to Zanzibar, Africa quietly played a critical role in US moon landing 

In Kano, Nigeria, a boy rides a camel against the backdrop of NASA’s space station, one of 18 Project Mercury space stations strategically placed along the Earth’s orbital track. The stations were part of a vast global communication network necessary to track spacecraft and relay information back to Mercury Control Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA. Picture released by NASA on May 21, 1962.

On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 made world history when it landed on the moon. But to this day, few people know about the space stations in Kano, northern Nigeria, and Tunguu, Zanzibar, that helped lay the groundwork that ultimately made the Apollo 11 mission possible.

The Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States played out dramatically in the great space race. Before a successful moon landing could happen, the US needed to test manned and unmanned spacecraft. In October 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched Project Mercury, a five-year, $400 million project designed to test the viability of human space travel.

Launching a spacecraft into orbit required ground controls in countries located along the Earth’s orbital track. NASA built a total of 18 stations in strategic, global locations including Nigeria, newly independent from British rule, and Zanzibar, then governed by the Omani Sultanate along with a British administration.

Figure 8-1. Map showing the locations of the selected Mercury stations, NASA archival records.

Project Mercury vetted seven astronauts known as the “Mercury 7″ and ultimately completed several orbital flights in the early 1960s: 20 unmanned, including the Mercury-Atlas-4, two with chimpanzees onboard (“Ham” and “Enos”), and six manned orbits including MA-6 through MA-9) — proving that human space travel was possible.

In 1960, NASA constructed the satellite tracking space station in Tunguu, Zanzibar, just under 10 miles outside of Stone Town, the capital. The following year, they completed the last of 18 stations in Kano, Nigeria, each at an estimated cost of $3 million.

The British, along with then-Sultan Khalifa bin Harub, showed great support for the American space station and approved the sale of rural land in Tunguu for the project site in 1960.

Throughout the project, the US processed more than 1,000 tons of cargo through specially-designated US depots that organized shipments to Nigeria and Zanzibar, along with the other sites, including two on ships. Stations housed electronic equipment, cooling towers, water chillers, hydropneumatic tanks and diesel generators for power backup.

NASA Satellite Tracking Space Station, Tunguu, Zanzibar, 1961. Photo via the collection of Torrence Royer, used with permission.

NASA contracted with US and British engineers as well as local specialists and builders in Kano and Zanzibar, surveying the land to establish the most precise angles for radar antennae used to communicate with spacecraft as they passed above and below the horizon line, according to NASA historical records.

Kano, home to the ancient Kingdom of Kano, and Zanzibar, the hub of Indian Ocean trade for millennia, were now vital links in a global network to reach the stars.

World’s first global communication network

Before there was the internet, there was Project Mercury. The race to space demanded that the world’s first global communication network have the ability to communicate between and among space stations, spacecraft and astronauts. The Mercury communications network included 102,000 miles of teletype lines, 60,000 miles of telephone lines, and 15,000 miles of high-speed data lines, according to NASA historical archives.

NASA equipped stations with “telemetry, tracking, and computation functions” as well as “flight control and monitoring” capabilities and  “a multi-frequency air-to-ground reception and remoting provision.” An intercom system allowed several people to talk while others listened.

Communication between space station staff and the spacecraft was a highly orchestrated dance. After a spacecraft launched, 5 to 90 minutes would elapse before the vessel passed over a station, depending on the location. The Mercury Control Center at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, USA, would send a teletype message to stations with the time and coordinates, using data crunched from the spacecraft’s passage over a prior station.

Figure 8-20. MA-9 orbital charts via NASA archival records.

Torrence Royer, an American whose stepfather, Roger Locke, worked at the Zanzibar space station and who spent a few years in Zanzibar as a young boy, writes:

The high-tech equipment, and the ‘reach-for-the-stars’ attitude’  intrigued many young Zanzibaris. I recall students in my school learning the schedules of the satellite launches and I remember young people would lay on the beach at night, on schedule, looking up, waiting for the spacecraft to pass overhead. One friend who had just heard about this phenomenon joined the beach-watchers … only to be somewhat disappointed by the small, slow-moving, star-like object that he witnessed. He expected a close fly-by of a ‘flying saucer’ perhaps.

Revolution — and change

Leading up to Zanzibar’s 1961 general elections, doubts about the intentions of the US space station began to surface and a small resistance against its presence began to brew. Some feared Zanzibar could become a potential target for nuclear war.

In Zanzibar, graffiti shows a rooster (associated with the now-defunct Afro Shirazi Party) pushing an American cowboy (representing American imperialism) off the island, shouting “I have no need whatsoever [for you]! Get out of here!” in Swahili. Photo via the collection of Torrence Royer, used with permission.

Yet, the space station remained open, and on May 15, 1963, the final Mercury-Atlas 9 mission launched from Cape Canaveral, completing 22 Earth orbits lasting a harrowing 34 hours before landing in the Pacific Ocean, piloted by astronaut Gordon Cooper. The unprecedented success of this final mission essentially completed Project Mercury and set the stage for more ambitious projects like Gemini and, later that decade, Apollo.

That year, Zanzibar had a brief moment of independence when, in December 1963, the British left the islands as a constitutional monarchy under the Sultans of Oman.

But on January 12, 1964, a violent revolution in Zanzibar overthrew the Sultans, ending over two centuries of rule. When the dust settled, the new revolutionary government claimed the US-funded space station indeed posed a national security threat and demanded its removal.

Anti-Project Mercury protests on the streets of Stone Town, Zanzibar, April 12, 1964. Photo via thecollection of Torrence Royer, used with permission.

On April 7, 1964, the US government announced that it would shutter the space station in Zanzibar upon the new Zanzibari government’s request. “We regret very much this necessity since the station was used strictly for peaceful purposes which would further man’s scientific knowledge,” said NASA, adding they would look for new locations in East Africa along the Earth’s orbital track. They settled on Madagascar.

After years under British and Arab influence, Zanzibar had begun to consider alliances with ChineseEast German and Soviet Union governments — and its socialist leanings became a diplomatic flash point. At the same time, newly independent mainland Tanganyika merged with Zanzibar in 1964 to form the United Republic of Tanzania, with Zanzibar as a semi-autonomous region.

Today, the former space station is a rusted, graffiti-filled shell with no important markers to indicate its global role in the space race. But Zanzibar’s spot along the Earth’s orbital track means that star-gazers can still sneak peeks at the International Space Station as it passes over the island. The last sighting was on Tuesday, July 23, 5:11 a.m., and was visible for one minute.

The abandoned Project Mercury space station in Tunguu, Zanzibar, 2004. Photo via the collection of Torrence Royer, used with permission.

Kano space station remained open for two more years and closed in December 1966. But the Nigerian government went on to launch its own space program with satellites in space since 2003.

Nigeria plans to send an astronaut into space by 2030.

Sudan Army Murders 87 Citizens At a Sit-in Protest wounds at least another 160

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF AL JAZEERA NEWS NETWORK)

 

Sudan says 87 killed when security forces broke up protest site

Death toll given by senior investigator appointed by public prosecutor is higher than previous official figures.

Sudan says 87 killed when security forces broke up protest site
Protesters at the sit-in area were demanding the country’s ruling military council to cede power to a civilian authority [File: Ashraf Shazly/AFP]

An investigation has found “rogue” military personnel were responsible for killing dozens of Sudanese protesters in the worst violence since the overthrow of former President Omar al-Bashir.

The violent break-up of a protest site by security forces in Khartoum last month left 87 people dead and 168 wounded, a higher death toll than previous official estimates, a chief investigator said.

Fath al-Rahman Saeed, the head of the investigative committee appointed by the public prosecutor, said on Saturday some members of the security forces opened fire at protesters demanding the military cede power.

He told a news conference three officers violated orders by moving forces into the sit-in area outside the Defence Ministry, a focal point for protests that led to al-Bashir’s removal on April 11.

An order was also issued to whip demonstrators, he added.

The committee found members of the joint force tasked with clearing the Columbia area “exceeded their duties and entered the sit-in square … and fired heavily and randomly”, leading to the killing and wounding of dozens.

The health ministry previously put the death toll at 61, while opposition medics said 127 people were killed and 400 wounded in the dispersal.

“Some outlaws exploited this gathering and formed another gathering in what is known as the Columbia area, where negative and illegal practices took place,” Saeed said.

“It became a security threat, forcing the authorities to make necessary arrangements to clear the area.”

Crimes against humanity

Ismail al-Taj, an opposition representative, told a news conference the investigative committee “was formed not establish the truth, but to conceal the truth” and he questioned the new death toll.

“Reality says that there are closer to 130 martyrs,” AL-Taj said, adding the committee relied on health ministry records, which he said were inaccurate.

The opposition coalition Forces of Freedom and Change is currently negotiating with the ruling military council to finalise an agreement for a three-year transition to elections.

Saeed gave the ranks and initials of officers he said had been charged with crimes against humanity, which is punishable by death or life imprisonment under military law. He did not give their full names.

A brigadier general, referred to only as AAM, mobilised a riot force of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces on the orders of two senior officers but not members of Sudan’s top leadership, and told them to whip protesters, Saeed said.

The committee had not uncovered any incidents of rape, although the US-based Physicians for Human Rights cited local medics as saying women had their clothes torn off and were raped, he said.

Sudan’s military council, which took power after former military officer-turned-President al-Bashir was deposed, has previously denied any rape took place.

Will power be shared in Sudan?

INSIDE STORY

Will power be shared in Sudan?

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES