Wednesday 22 August 2012

Four Star General, Head Of AFRICOM, Spent Gov't Funds Lavishly On Self And Wife- Faces Demotion

Ethiopian Leader Felled By Illness Leaves Mixed Legacy

Aug. 21 (GIN) – The illiness which plagued Ethiopian leader, Meles Zenawi, took his life during treatment at a Belgian hospital late Monday (Aug. 20). He was 57 years of age.
Gen. Williams Ward
At an impromptu press conference, government spokesman Simon Bereket said that Zenawi "had been recuperating well but suddenly something happened and he had to be rushed to the ICU [intensive care unit] and they couldn't keep him alive."

“The situation is calm and composed,” said the spokesman, adding that the ruling party was in full control. Zenawi’s replacement, Haile Mariam Desalegn, age 47, formerly deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister, will be sworn in when Parliament, currently on recess, is recalled.

During his 21-year rule, Meles turned Ethiopia into one of Africa's fastest-growing economies and proved to be a key US ally in the war on terror. The U.S. houses a drone base there and has given the country millions of dollars in aid.

But the prime minister was also regarded as an authoritarian strongman whose critics suffered persecution, imprisonment and torture.

A former rebel guerrilla fighter, Meles took power after overthrowing the communist military junta of Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991.

Home to over 80 million people, Ethiopia receives strong support from its citizens in the Diaspora, estimated to number around one million in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East. Last year a record $1.5 billion was received from its citizens abroad, a record growth of 88% over the previous year.
His wife, Azeb Mesfin, and three children, Semhal, Senay and Marda, survive Meles. As of press time, no date had been set for the memorial.

Elsewhere in the nation, the powerful Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Abune Paulos, died Aug. 16 at an Addis Ababa hospital. Paulos led Ethiopia's 40 million Orthodox Christians - half the population - since 1992. He was 77.  w/pix of Interim PM Haile Mariam Desalegn

Four-Star Africom General Misspent Gov’t Funds – Def Dept Says

Aug. 21 (GIN) - A four-star Army general who headed the first U.S. Africa Command is facing possible demotion for spending lavishly on himself and his wife for travel, hotels, and other items, according to a scathing Defense Dept report.

Gen. William “Kip” Ward and his wife allegedly misused government resources for personal purposes, the report states, taking trips on military aircraft and using staff members to run personal errands.

The 99-page investigative report released by the Department of Defense Inspector General’s Office on Aug. 17, under a Freedom of Information Act request, concludes Ward, “engaged in multiple forms of misconduct related to official and unofficial travel.”

“He misused his position and his subordinates’ time, Government funds, and rental vehicles,” the report states. “He failed to use a [government travel charge card] as required and received reimbursement for travel expenses that exceeded the per diem rates without actual expense allowance approvals. Finally, he improperly accepted gifts from a prohibited source.”

Ward, 62, was appointed by President George Bush in 2008. He is the only active-duty, four-star African-American general, and he is only the fifth African American to achieve this rank.

Since leaving Africa Command, he has worked in an Army staff job out of the limelight, serving as a two-star general. Under Army guidelines, a four-star who is not serving at that rank for 60 days is automatically demoted until the case is resolved. Ward has denied all charges, calling them "character assassination."

Africom has drawn criticism on the continent for building local armies and militia at the expense of clinics and schools. Only Liberia has agreed to allow Africom to create a headquarters in that country.
South African Mining Massacre Denounced By Labor Chiefs Worldwide

Aug. 21 (GIN) – Disturbing images of gun-toting police firing point blank at striking miners shocked South Africans and others around the world. Thirty four workers fell dead in the melee - the worst case of post-apartheid state-sponsored violence since 1994.

The Marikana massacre, named after the UK-based Lonmin platinum mining complex, was denounced by labor leaders including U.S. labor chief Richard Trumka, among others.

Trumka, a former mineworker and now AFL-CIO president, said: “Once again, mineworkers who produce so much wealth under often dangerous daily working conditions have paid the highest price—their lives— in a completely avoidable industrial conflict. We call on the South African government to take immediate action to address the brutality.”

Tony Maher, head of Australia’s miners’ union added: “Lonmin sowed the seeds of industrial relations by bypassing established collective bargaining processes and now threatening to sack 3,000 striking workers.”

Lonmin’s past safety record at Marikana was deplorable, Mr Maher said, with six fatalities occurring in the first seven months of 2011 alone.

Ironically, among Lonmin's non-voting executive directors is the former secretary of the Africa National Congress, now billionaire, Cyril Ramaphosa. As strike talks broke down and violence loomed, ANC leader Jacob Zuma, Ramaphosa and others were out of town.

An effort to browbeat the workers back to their jobs was called off when only a quarter of the work force showed up on Monday.

Flags will be lowered to half mast and an official day for nationwide memorial services will be held on Thursday.

Meanwhile, former ANC youth leader Julius Malema, at a miners rally, denounced Pres. Zuma for his late arrival to the incident. President Jacob Zuma has presided over the "massacre of the people of South Africa,” Malema charged. “How can he call on people to mourn those he has killed? He must step down." w/pix of women praying at mining site

Togo Police Fire Teargas At Massive Voting Rights Rally

Aug. 21 (GIN) – Police wielding teargas cannons attempted to disperse over a thousand Togolese citizens rallying in the capital, Lome, for fair elections scheduled for October.

Demonstrators burned tires and erected roadblocks at the Aug. 21 launch of a 3-day protest organized by “Let’s Save Togo” – a coalition of opposition and civil society groups. They planned to defy a government ban on street rallies in commercial centers.

Later on Tuesday (Aug. 21), several hundred people attempted to gather in Lome's Independence Square, but were blocked by security forces.

Togo has been run by the same family for more than four decades. Tuesday's protests were the latest act of civil disobedience in the West African state, a former French colony, with a history of tough crackdowns on dissent.

Security Minister Colonel Yark Damehane warned that protesters would be barred from entering Deckon, a popular shopping area.

"Tomorrow, Deckon will not be accessible to demonstrators. We are going to take measures so that the march does not get started," he told journalists.

The opposition wants a review of a redistricting plan they say favors the ruling party. They want a delay of the October elections and a repeal of changes to the electoral code on the grounds that they were made improperly.

The coastal nation was ruled by Gen. Gnassingbe Eyadema for 38 years until his death in 2005 when his son, Faure Gnassingbe, was installed by the army, winning tainted elections in 2005 and 2010.w/pix of 'Let's Save Togo' protest

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