Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Human Rights Watch Releases Report on Gacaca

Human rights Watch is today releasing a report on the gacaca court system. The 144-page report is featured in the Human rights Watch website and its titled; Justice Compromised: The Legacy of Rwanda's Community-Based Gacaca Courts

It assesses the courts' achievements and outlines a number of serious shortcomings in their work, including corruption and procedural irregularities. Human Rights Watch details the system's achievements such as swift trials with popular participation, a reduction in the prison population, a better understanding of what happened in 1994, locating and identifying bodies of victims and a possible easing of ethnic tensions. 

Human Rights Watch says it also interviewed rape victims whose genocide-related cases were transferred in May 2008 from conventional courts that have stronger privacy protection, to gacaca courts saying many rape victims felt betrayed by this loss of confidentiality. 

The report is based on Human Rights Watch observing over 2,000 days of gacaca trials, reviewing more than 350 cases, and interviews with hundreds of participants from all sides of the gacaca process, including accused persons, genocide survivors, witnesses, other community members, judges, and local and national government officials.
Gacaca courts were established in 2001 to address the overload of cases in the conventional justice system and a prison crisis.

Rwanda's Concerns Over New Rebel Group in the DRC

Media reports indicate that Kigali has started sharing intelligence information as it builds a case for a possible intervention against the new group, which threatens to scuttle peace building in the volatile Great Lakes region.  

The East African Newspaper reports that the Rwanda army leadership has said that intelligence chiefs from the East African Community partner states and the United Nations are still analyzing data on the group, allegedly formed by two Rwandan dissidents, Col Patrick Karegeya and Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa. 

The United Nations early this year reported that the two mobilized the formation of a coalition of rebel groups that include the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC), Mai-Mai Sheka, Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR), Mai-Mai Yakutumba and FDLR-Soki, holed up in the Kivus. Lt Col Jill Rutaremara, the Rwanda Defence Spokesperson, according to The East African, estimated about 300 youth had been recruited into the ranks of FPLC and details of their profiles and activities had been shared with the UN Security Council. 

RURA Rules Out Portability for Now

The telecommunication industry in Rwanda continues to strive to grow but has been lately faced by various setbacks.

Even with the thought that introducing the number portability system, a system that would see you own your number including the prefix and be able to move with it across networks, would increase competition among operators, the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency-RURA, the body tasked with regulating public utilities still believes that it is too soon to bring it on board.

In an earlier interview Regis Gatarayiha, the acting Director General of RURA, he said that the system would only be introduced once Rwanda hits the 60% mobile telephony penetration level…

"…On the issue of Number portability, our position as the regulator is that we think due to the low levels of mobile telephony penetration levels in the country which is currently at 30%, we cannot be able to have it. There is nowhere in the world where it is done with 30% penetration levels. Everywhere else they do it when they have at least 60% penetration levels. This is to enable the available operator to continue to fight for more people to buy sim cards, phones etc so that they can reach a larger number of people who don’t have mobile telephone services. We have taken the position that we will look into it but until we get to the penetration level of 60%.  

But, MTN’s former Brand Marketing Manager Albert Rudantsimburwa feels otherwise. He believes that taking this stand would put less pressure on the existing operators to compete for new customers. In February this year, Rwanda shelved its plans for a fourth mobile license after the mobile market stuck at 3.6 million.

The reason given by the regulator was based on the fact that there was slow subscriber growth saying that with no growth for the past few months, it was important that the market shares at least 6 million subscribers by 2012.
According to Rura statistics, MTN had 2.59 million customers in January 2011, Tigo had 692,000 and Rwantatel had 345,000.

But with the removal of Rwandatel mobile telephony from the equation, Albert believes that there is need for the introduction of another operator to shake up the completion element in the market…

Kenya Loses Bid to Try Suspects at Home

The government’s attempt to convince the International Criminal Court that it is serious about investigating and punishing election violence suspects failed on Monday. 

Efforts to have the cases pending at the ICC brought back home were thrown out, with the judges finding the government’s grounds for claiming to be serious about punishing crimes against humanity unconvincing.
Judges appeared puzzled by the government’s claims to be investigating the cases without providing any proof.
In one case, the government gave the court a letter from the Attorney-General ordering the Commissioner of Police to investigate persons to have masterminded the violence. 

However, the letter was written after the government filed the case to have the Ocampo Six tried at home.
Judges, in their ruling, also noted that Kenya is short on measures already taken to punish impunity and long on promises of future action. The judges were categorical that any bid to challenge admissibility of the case must be supported by facts of existing investigations, which the government failed to provide.
The ruling by Pre-Trial Chamber judges now leaves the government with one option— a higher bench chaired by ICC President Judge Song Sang-Hyun to decide the fate.

Libyan Rebels Launch TV Station

Libya's rebels have launched their first homegrown satellite TV station, trying to counter the regime's powerful media machine, which they say transmits Muammar Gaddafi's message, depicts the opposition as terrorists and drums up patriotic passion by beaming images of burning buildings hit by NATO strikes.

Thousands of Libyans waving flags gathered in a public square in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi to watch the first broadcasts. 

The channel was born out of an Internet video streaming site launched by Zuhair Albarasi and fellow Libyan businessman Mohammed al-Nabbous, who since the uprising began in mid-February searched for a way to show it to the world and to the Libyans themselves.

But in a country where Internet access has been sharply curtailed for much of the population, the channel — hosted on Livestream — remains limited in its reach.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Fugitive Arrested in the DRC

Rwanda has welcomed Wednesday’s arrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo of Bernard Munyagishari, one of the remaining fugitives sought by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

Munyagishari, 52, is the former President of the Interahamwe in former Gisenyi prefecture in present-day Rubavu district of the western province. Munyagishari, currently detained in Goma pending transfer to the Tribunal, is wanted by the ICTR on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, including rape. 

He is alleged to have recruited, trained and led Interahamwe militiamen in mass killings and rapes of Tutsi women in Gisenyi and beyond, between April and July 1994.

Munyagishari, a native of Rubavu commune in Gisenyi prefecture was arrested pursuant to an international warrant issued on 8 September 2005. He has featured on the US Rewards for Justice programme as a fugitive from international justice.

New Genocide Memorial Opened at Murambi

A new exhibitional Genocide memorial has been opened at Murambi in Southern Province. The memorial has been opened at a site where, in April, 1994, approximately 50,000 Tutsi men, women and children were massacred by the interehamwe militia and soldiers loyal to the government responsible for the Genocide.
Established by The National Commission for the Fight against Genocide-CNLG, in association with the Aegis Trust, the memorial stands on a green hill amid the rolling countryside of the former Gikongoro Prefecture.

Tough Times as Farmers' Homes Pulled Down

Some farmers who used to live in grass thatched houses in the Southern Province have now been forced to sleep with their animals in the same house after authorities in their area pull down their grass thatched houses. Elias Biseruka is 40 year old who is married with six children.
He lives in a village called Kaburanjwiri of Cyebero cell, Ntongwe sector of Muhanga district. He told Contact FM that at the beginning of this week, local authorities demolished the grass thatched houses in the area.
We are still trying to reach out to the local leaders in the area and the ministry in charge of eradicating the grass thatched houses under the campaign dubbed “Bye bye Nyakatsi” for their reactions on the issue, and we will let you know as soon as we get more information in our subsequent edition.

Umuganda Dodgers Forewarned

Due to the poor attendance of the community service locally known as umuganda in the capital Kigali, authorities have put in place penalties for those who will not be taking part in this activity.
Some of the reasons raised as to why people in Kigali city don’t participate in the community services is poor planning and communication by their local leaders.
But depending on nature of profession or work, some people will be exempted from taking part in the monthly exercise
The Kigali city mayor Fidele Ndayisaba said that there are measures to deal with all problems to do with this community service in an interview with Contact FM’s  Richard Ndayambaje. The law establishing community works in Rwanda was approved on 17 November of 2007.
However, this law has been raising different reactions among city dwellers questioning why they were not consulted in the creation and the enacting process of this law.

RURA to Revise Interconnection Charges

Rwanda is expected to have new interconnection fees come the 1st of July this year. This is according to the Rwanda Utilities and Regulatory Agency RURA. There has been an on-going study on the entire telecommunications sector which among other things, is expected to recommend new interconnection fees among telecommunication operators.

The current interconnection fee is at 40 Rwandan francs which, according to the telecoms regulator, is not cost effective and its reduction is expected to allow operators to lower prices and deepen mobile penetration. 

Meanwhile, Rwanda plans to adopt a SIM Card registration scheme and has set June next year as the deadline for sim card registration. RURA says this will help in curbing criminal acts made by cell phone users. 

The scheme is expected to be implemented within six months after cabinet has approved the law governing it. This move has already attracted some concern especially with regard to privacy but the regulator says, that is all covered in the law that will govern that registration.

Regional Governments to Jointly Fight Use of Small Arms

The Regional center on small arms (RECSA) has announced that it is going to implement a three year EU-funded project titled the fight against the illicit accumulation and trafficking of firearms in Africa.
This was at two day meeting that opened shop Thursday by police chiefs’ cooperation organizations, from Eastern, Central, Western and Central Africa regions, to discuss ways of dealing with illicit accumulation and trafficking of firearms and explosive materials in Africa.
Moussa Fazil Harerimana, Rwanda’s internal security minister concurs with Francis, insisting that the establishment of a joint task force to address common problems across borders among other countries is of at most importance.

Catholic Priest Accused of Sexual Abuse in Kenya

Renowned Catholic priest Father Renato Kizito was arrested on Thursday over fresh charges of sexual abuse following accusations by his 26-year-old male secretary.

The man told police that the sexual attack occurred on Tuesday night within Riruta area of Dagoretti, in the outskirts of the capital Nairobi.

Police had earlier gone to a house where the priest was said to be staying, but they did not get him. He, however, presented himself at the Kilimani police station when he learnt that he was being sought.

Fr Kizito, 49, an Italian priest of the Comboni Missionaries who was detained at the station from 8am was whisked out and bundled into a police car which sped off to an undisclosed hospital, trailed by another saloon car with five heavily armed police officers.

The priest who appeared shocked did not speak to journalists.

It is the second time the priest is being implicated in a sexual abuse case in the last two years.

In 2009, the Catholic priest was accused of sexually molesting young boys under his care but he denied the reports and instead termed them as a "case of blackmail, defamation and extortion."

Situation Remains Tense in Abyei

The situation in and around the disputed Sudanese region of Abyei remains tense with close to 40,000 people said to be fleeing the ongoing unrest.
A monitoring group said on Wednesday that satellite images indicate evidence of "war crimes" committed by Sudan’s northern army in Abyei.
This comes days after the Sudanese Armed Forces took control of Abyei town which is close to the oil fields in southern Sudan's Unity State and at the same time lies in South Kordofan State, the only oil-producing state in northern Sudan.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Prominent Kenyans Face Extradition to UK

Two prominent Kenyans are facing extradition to the United Kingdom where they have been charged with money laundering. The development is raising hopes for success in Kenya's war on graft.

On Tuesday, Kenyan Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo told reporters in Nairobi that Kenya had no choice but to extradite a former minister and the former managing director of the Kenya Power and Lighting Company to the United Kingdom. 

" …the time for Kenya to join other countries that respect the rule of law is now. So that is my position. I am surprised to see some of the remarks appearing in the media saying that if this happens, we will do this, if this happens we will do that. No no no…comply with the law and facilitate those Kenyan citizens to go and answer those charges where the courts have issued the warrants…"

Kilonzo was responding to questions regarding current member of parliament Chris Okemo and former utility official Samuel Gichuru. Both Okemo and Gichuru are wanted on the British island of Jersey to face charges of money laundering.

Late Monday, Attorney General Amos Wako submitted extradition requests from the United Kingdom, along with a report from Police Commissioner Matthew Iteere, to Chief Public Prosecutor Keriako Tobiko for consideration.
Tobiko will decide whether or not the extradition request is valid based on the strength of the evidence submitted by the United Kingdom. If Tobiko approves, Wako will then issue orders for the arrest and extradition of both Okemo and Gichuru
In return for the extradition of Okemo and Gichuru to Jersey, it was revealed that Britain was prepared to help locate and extradite Kenyan citizen Yagnesh Devani. Devani is wanted in Kenya for stealing nearly $100 million worth of oil from the Kenyan Pipeline Company.

Rwandatel Lays Off Staff

135 Rwandatel employees have so far been suspended for 3 months. Eugene Gashugi, president of the Rwandatel workers union says that through negotiations with Rwandatel’s administration, the process has been handled well. The suspension was done in two phases and it has been halted with 135 being the final tally.
Gashugi hopes that in due time when things get better some of them will be able to get their jobs back, but in case that is not possible, there was also a resolve from the negotiations to give those employees, the benefits they are due to be given.
Rwandatel’s mobile telecommunication license was revoked by the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA) in April this year. Since then, an interim administrator was appointed by Rwanda’s commercial court to take charge of the company and to advise the court in 2 months time whether the company can be turned around or be liquidated.
This was after a commencement of the insolvency proceedings by the office of the Registrar General. The administrator is expected to present his report to the court at the end of this month.

Kanziga Appeals Asylum Decision

The lawyer representing Agathe Kanziga, widow of former Rwandan President, late Juvenal Habyarimana has told Contact FM they have appealed Tuesday’s decision by the prefecture of Essonne, near Paris in France that denied her asylum.
This decision was also endorsed by the Ministry of the Interior of France after the commission in charge of issuing residence had also denied her asylum.
Maitre Philip Meyak, the lawyer representing the family of Habyarimana says they will appeal this decision since it’s “political.”
On February 13, 2007, Collectif des Parties Civiles pour le Rwanda (CPCR), an association of civil society groups based in France that advocates for the rights of Rwandan genocide survivors had lodged a complaint in a Paris court against Kanziga on charges of complicity in genocide.
Its head, Alain Gauthier said they are happy with this latest decision adding that Kanziga should not use politics as a scapegoat.
Kanziga is also the subject of an extradition request from Rwanda and is due to appear in the Appeals court of Paris on June 29 for the hearing.
Kanziga, 69, has been living in France since 1998 with her children. Rwanda on October 19, 2009 issued an international warrant of arrest for Kanziga accusing her of being a key member of the inner circle (Akazu) that planned the 1994 genocide against Tutsi.

RDF Refutes Claims of Majyambere's Arrest

The Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) has laughed off media reports that United States authorities have arrested Major Justus Majyambere, a Rwandan army officer who recently travelled to the US on official duty but has since returned to Kigali.
Reports on some websites and blogs run by Rwandan exiles had insinuated that Major Majyambere had been arrested by US authorities over indictments issued in 2008 by a Spanish Judge, Fernando Andreu Merelles over alleged crimes committed in Rwanda after the 1994 genocide.
In February 2008, Fernando issued indictments against 40 Rwandan army officers on charges of mass murder and crimes against humanity in the aftermath of the genocide. In an exclusive interview with Contact FM, Lieutenant Colonel Jill Rutaremara, the Defence and army spokesman said these are pure lies being peddled by wrong elements living outside the country.
When contacted on phone, Majyambere, who was at his home here in Kigali, said he went to the US and returned safely and had not been stopped by anyone while in Amsterdam, Detroit or Kansas.
In 2005, Fernando opened investigations based on what he claimed were complaints from the families of six Spanish priests and three Spanish doctors who were reportedly killed in Rwanda.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Flights Cancelled as Ash Spreads Across Europe

Airlines grounded hundreds of flights on Tuesday after a plume of ash from a volcano in Iceland blanketed Britain and touched Scandinavia in a fresh travel nightmare for thousands of passengers. Barely a year after a similar eruption in Iceland forced the biggest closure of European airspace since World War II, British Airways was the first to suspend flights from London to Scotland.
Dutch airline KLM, Ireland’s Aer Lingus and budget airline easyJet followed suit, while air traffic authorities warned disruption from the Grimsvoetn volcano could spread to airports in northern England and Northern Ireland.
“Most airlines have cancelled flights today — 252 flights,” said Brian Flynn, head of operations at the Brussels-based Eurocontrol.
Low-cost airline Ryanair however flew a plane through Scottish airspace and said they detected no ash on the aircraft, hitting out at British and Irish authorities for over-reacting. The ash cloud also caused minor air traffic disruption in Norway and closed a small part of Denmark’s airspace, and Eurocontrol warned that the ash cloud could continue southwards to France and Spain.
Authorities say the ash can damage planes and stop engines. But, Europe’s transport commissioner Siim Kallas played down fears that the situation could get as bad as 2010, when thousands of travellers from around the world were left stranded. 
“We do not at this stage anticipate widespread airspace closure and prolonged disruption like we saw last year,” he said. (AFP)

France Denies Kanziga Asylum

Agathe Kanziga, widow to former Rwandan President, the late Juvenal Habyarimana was this Tuesday denied asylum in France by the prefecture of Essonne near Paris. This decision was also endorsed by the Ministry of the Interior of France after the commission in charge of issuing residence had also denied her asylum.

Maitre Philip Meyak, lawyer for the family of Habyarimana said they will appeal this decision this Wednesday or Thursday in court because according to him this decision is a political one as a result of improving relations between France and Rwanda.

Kanziga is also the subject of an extradition request from Rwanda and is due to appear in the Appeals court of Paris on June 29 for this hearing.

In October 2009, Conseil d’Etat, the highest judicial body in France refused Kanziga’s request for asylum saying it believes there are serious reasons that she may have played a role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide against Tutsi.
Kanziga, 69, has been living in France since 1998 with her children. Rwanda on October 19, 2009 issued an international warrant of arrest for Kanziga accusing her of being a key member of the inner circle (Akazu) that planned the 1994 genocide.

RRA Impounds Smuggled Minerals from DRC

Rwanda Revenue Authority this Tuesday impounded over 2 tonnes of cassiterite mineral that was being smuggled into the country from the Democratic Republic of Congo days after Global Witness, a British organization alleged that Rwanda continues to be a key conduit for Congolese minerals.
Rwanda recently started tagging all minerals in the country to curb trade in conflict minerals from the region after a UN experts report on Congo in 2009 accused Rwanda of trading in Congolese minerals that fuel armed conflicts in DRC.
Although Global Witness said recent initiatives by Rwanda to tag and trace minerals was promising, it said they are not sufficient and urged Rwanda to impose full due diligence requirements for all companies trading and processing minerals.
Mugabe Robert is the head of Revenue Protection Department (RPD) at Rwanda Revenue Authority. He said this is not the first time they are impounding minerals from Congo adding that Rwanda is not a transit route for conflict minerals from DRC.

Rwanda has an emerging cassiterite mining industry but fighting over cassiterite deposits particularly in Walikale region of eastern DRC between armed militias has also been a major cause of conflict there.

Muhanga District Residents Seek Redress Over Mining Activities

Over 40 residents who were affected by Soil Erosion in March have raised concerns over not being compensated after that incident.
The people affected were from Muvumba cell in Nyabinoni sector of Muhanga District in the southern province. The people allege that the erosion was caused by a company that was extracting coltan in the area and did not clear its mess/debris and as such causing the erosion.
The people further say they were promised compensation thereafter and that has not yet taken place. Rugigana Damien is one of the residents who was affected.
Contact FM spoke to Michael Biryabarema, the Director General of Rwanda Geology and Mines Authority who said that in such instances, people should raise their grievances with the local authorities or with the body he’s in charge of, for such issues to be addressed.
Residents in this area however say that the sector officials had already paid them a visit and made a count of all they had lost but no compensation has come their way since.
The Executive Secretary of Nyabinoni sector, Aimable Musabwa assured Contact FM that the matter will be handled and that a solution will be provided next month.

Huye District in Plans to Help Orphans

In our edition of 16th May, this year, we ran a story of 64 orphans who are living in the same house in Rwaniro sector of Huye district.
The sad news is that these orphans continue to live in hard life conditions. They told Contact FM that if given support, they would be able to put up an income generating business for them as they say the only way they survive is by cultivating other peoples’ land.
As a follow up to their problem, this Tuesday, we talked to Christine Niwemugeni, the vice mayor in charge of social affairs in Huye district.
She however told Contact FM that not all these children live in the same house since some of them are most of the time in their schools.
She explained that plans to help them out like others with the same problem are underway.

Ssekandi Appointed as Uganda's Vice-President

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni this Tuesday appointed former speaker of the country’s parliament Edward Ssekandi as the country’s new vice president. Museveni, who was sworn in on May 12 also appointed the outgoing security minister, Amama Mbabazi, Prime Minister. 

Ssekandi replaces Gilbert Bukenya who has been vice president for the past eight years. Mbabazi is the Secretary General of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM). He replaces Apollo Nsibambi who has served as Premier for more than ten years. 

Museveni is expected to name the finance minister and the attorney general later. Other Presidential nominees for ministerial posts will be vetted by the Parliament appointments committee chaired by the new Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga.

Obama and the Arab Spring

"Obama and the Arab Spring is republished with permission of STRATFOR."

George Friedman
U.S. President Barack Obama gave a speech last week on the Middle East. Presidents make many speeches. Some are meant to be taken casually, others are made to address an immediate crisis, and still others are intended to be a statement of broad American policy. As in any country, U.S. presidents follow rituals indicating which category their speeches fall into. Obama clearly intended his recent Middle East speech to fall into the last category, as reflecting a shift in strategy if not the declaration of a new doctrine. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Military Court Prolongs Col. Ngabo's Detention

The Military High Court sitting here in Kigali this Monday has for the fifth time prolonged the provisional detention of Lieutenant Colonel Rugigana Ngabo, brother to Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa for 30 days to allow prosecution complete investigations into his case before it is brought to court for trial.

Rwanda to set up Body to Register Political Parties

Rwandan opposition parties have welcomed the government’s decision to establish an autonomous body that will among other things register all political parties taking over from the Ministry of Local government.

The government says Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) will promote good governance, carry out regular assessments and surveys on the performance of different public institutions on good governance and advise ways to improve areas where weaknesses are identified.

In an exclusive interview with Contact FM, Frank Habineza, leader of the yet-to-be registered Democratic Green party welcomed this initiative saying it will help open up political space which has been lacking in Rwanda.

The two main opposition parties, the Democratic Green party and United Democratic Forces (FDU/INKINGI) are yet to be registered over what they call government’s bureaucracy to prevent them
from being allowed to operate freely.

James Musoni, the Minister of Local government which has been in charge of registering and regulating political party activity says these allegations are unfounded. Currently there are ten legally registered political parties in the country, all of whom are organized under the forum of political parties.

DRC Denies Disarming FDLR

The government of the Democratic republic of Congo has denounced allegations that it is carrying out negotiations with the FDLR rebel group to be disarmed and relocated.

In a phone interview with Contact FM’s Richard Ndayambaje Lambert Mende, DRC’s minister of information and spokesperson, he said the FDLR have a single choice which is going back to their country.

Rwanda Hosts EAC Communications Organizations Meeting

Rwanda for the first time played host to the 18th congress of the East African Communications Organizations.

The congress is a regional platform that meets annually to discuss issues related to the communication sector in EAC, specifically regulatory policies and tools, communication networks and how to facilitate intra-EAC business in communication technologies.

According to the minister in charge of ICT Ignace Gatare, Rwanda’s ICT is headed for the best with the harmonization of national policies and laws already in process. Ignace Gatare, the minister in charge of ICT.

This year’s congress has attracted about 300 delegates from regulatory authorities and commissions from the five member states as well as telecom operators, postal and broadcasting organizations.

Researchers Meet in Bid to Enhance Agro-Marketing

A group of researchers is in the country for one week to discuss a project aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of agricultural markets. The head of the research group, Dr. Alexandre Ryambabaje, says farmers need to be informed about what their market entails so that they can benefit from it.

He added that most times information availed today, is mainly usable by policy makers and the researchers are looking for ways it can trickle down to farmers and traders and be able to be used by them.

The research is being conducted by people who are experts in data collection from the three countries that are part of the project-Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda. The project is also aimed at improving collaboration amongst the three countries and work on having new systems that will enable farmers get inputs at the right time.

Dr. Alexandre Ryambabaje, the head of the group of researchers working on harmonization of methodologies for agricultural markets data collection and dissemination in Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda.

Tremor Hits Kigali Monday Morning

A tremor was experienced in Kigali, Rwanda at about 6.30 am on Monday morning. Various residents in the city and indeed in the country confirmed experiencing it with some saying that they heard loud bangs/explosions thereafter.

However, Michael Biryabarema, the Director General of Rwanda Geology and Mines Authority, pointed out that the tremor had not been recorded in a number of centers and as such it was hard to get more details about it

Meanwhile, neighbouring DRC also experienced it and Dieudonne Wagula, the man responsible for the Goma Volcano Observatory confirmed that the tremor was strongly felt in his country.

It was well recorded at the station Luilo located almost 133 km from the epicenter. The epicenter from Luilo to Bukavu is 133 km, it was not strong, its magnitude was 2.5 only. It was very shallow so it was very superficial to
the surface. That's how although the magnitude was small, it was strongly felt.

The tremor lasted for a very short time in Kigali and was not followed by any earth quake or any aftershocks. The director general of Rwanda Geology and Mines Authority however added that people who live in areas prone to earthquakes occasionally go through drills to prepare them for such occurrences.

To those who don’t know what to do, he advised that you should not seek cover in places that are likely to get damaged. The authority is planning to come up with centres in Huye, Rusizi and Musanze to help in monitoring such activity in the future.

Rwanda Focus and Orinfor in Renewed Media Duel

The accusations and counter accusation between the national broadcaster (Orinfor) and Shyaka Kanuma of the Rwanda Focus newspaper just don’t seem to be stopping anytime soon with Kanuma saying he is yet to unearth even more damning information about the Director General of the National Broadcasting Bureau.

On May 15th this year, Shyaka published an article titled “Orinfor begins charging money for news coverage” a story that alleged that the national broadcaster was actually asking for money for it to cover news items or events.

Orinfor did react to these claims in a story that ran on both Rwanda Television and radio and also posted on ORINFOR’s website on 18-05-2011.

In the rejoinder, the acting Director General of Rwanda Bureau of Information and Broadcasting, Willy Rukundo termed the claims by Shyaka Kanuma as baseless and utterly malicious. Rukundo said that probably the author (Shyaka Kanuma) had other hidden intentions in mind while publishing the article.

But on his part, Kanuma reads malice on the part of ORINFOR’s acting chief basing on the fact that he was not given a chance to give his side of the story or defend his allegations in the rejoinder story by Radio and Television Rwanda.

Shyaka now says that an analysis piece on the Orinfor Acting Director’s decisions to use state-owned, or publicly funded media to settle personal scores is coming soon in his publication.

Our effort to get the side of Orinfor’s acting DG were fruitless as he said he responded to our text message requestion for an interview with him by saying that he was holed up in a whole day’s meeting.

Kanimba Launches Rwanda's Economic Atlas

The Ministry of Trade and Industry in partnership with the German Development Cooperation have officially launched the first Rwanda’s Economic and Trade Atlas.

The Atlas, representing a comprehensive compilation of information on various sectors of importance to the Rwandan Economy, is based on official validated data and uses state of the art techniques, namely Geographical Information Systems for the presentation of its findings.

Apart from the aggregate data on the national level, it allows a more in-depth analysis on a local level, since most data is presented on the district level.

Speaking to members of the press after the launch, Minister for Trade and Industry Francoise Kanimba hailed the project saying that it was a unique document that had comprehensive information about the economic activities’ maping in Rwanda.

In the atlas, a comparison of Rwanda to its neighbours has been made possible through regional maps for instance on EAC level or sub-saharan level, allowing for benchmarking.

The atlas has been designed for the use by members of the business community, prospective investors, partners in civil society or the donor community.

Salax Music Awards Held on Saturday Evening

The long awaited Salax music awards finally came to pass this weekend, however this year’s event has received much criticism compared to those of the past years.

Some of the people who have been closely following the annual event and attended the awards ceremony shred their views on Contact FM. They expressed dismay at the fact that the awards were being won by the same people year in year out, something that they felt was unfair.

Reacting to these comments, Mike Karangwa the chairman of the Ikerezi group, the main organizers of this event said that the people had the right to criticize the event but they were wrong.

Some of the artist who were awarded and people think they deserved to win included Knowles who won the new artist
category, kamichi who got the afro beat and song of the year awards and dream boys who got the group of the year award.

UN Condemns Sudan's Incursion into Abyei

The United Nations Mission in Sudan has condemned Monday’s burning and looting that is reported to be currently taking place. The acts are being conduted by armed elements in Abyei, a disputed oil-rich border district according to reports.

The UN has called on the government to put a stop to it.

The humanitarian agency 
Doctors without Borders suspended some of its services in Abyei and issued a statement reading: 

"Nearly the entire population of Abyei town fled the city, which is now almost empty. MSF teams have suspended primary health care activities in Abyei and have now reached the fleeing population."

Fighting in the district of Abyei broke out May 19 when Southern Sudanese forces attacked a U.N. Mission in Sudan convoy escorting northern Sudanese Armed Forces. The attack, which resulted in the deaths of at least 22 soldiers, was followed by retaliation by the Sudanese army, which took control of the town and expelled southern Sudanese units.

The U.N. compound was shelled by mortar rounds, wounding two peacekeepers, said a statement from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's press office. The Sudanese armed forces said the military in Southern Sudan was behind the May 19 attack, but the Sudan People's Liberation Army denied responsibility.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir issued a decree Saturday dissolving Abyei's administration. The area had been governed by representatives from the north and south.

Strauss-Kahn Out on US$ 1 million Bail

After Strauss-Kahn spent nearly a week in police custody and then jail, a judge agreed Thursday to free him on a 1 million dollar cash bail plus an additional 5 million dollar bond — provided he's confined to a New York apartment, under armed guard and electronic monitoring.

He wasn't immediately released from the city's bleak Rikers Island jail, where he had been kept in protective custody and on a suicide watch. But his lawyers expect he'll get out Friday, after he posts the bond and authorities review the security arrangements involved in his house arrest.

The 62-year-old French economist and diplomat briefly wore an expression of relief after state Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus announced his decision in a packed courtroom. The ex-IMF head is accused of attacking a 32-year-old housekeeper Saturday in his a hotel suite. 

The indictment, a crucial procedural step in a felony case, marked a grand jury's "determination that the evidence supports the commission of non-consensual, forced sexual acts," District Attorney Cyrus Vance said. Strauss-Kahn, whose lawyers have suggested evidence won't support a forcible encounter, is due back in court June 6.

The bail decision came less than a day after Strauss-Kahn resigned as managing director of the IMF, the powerful organization that makes emergency loans to countries in financial crisis.