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Chanting miners wielding machetes, clubs and spears marched from shaft to shaft of South Africa's beleaguered Lonmin platinum mine Monday, trying to intimidate the few workers who reported for duty in the fourth week of a crippling strike whose impact has already included dozens of miners killed by police.

At one point on their 10-kilometer (six-mile) trek, a striker lashed a whip at a man they accused of reporting for work. He took off across the scrubland with dozens of men waving machetes and clubs in pursuit. The man was saved by police officers who pulled him into their moving vehicle.
Meanwhile, labor unrest spread in the country, with an illegal strike by more than 10,000 workers halting operations at the west section of Gold Fields International's KDC gold mine.

The strikes are rooted in rivalry between the main National Union of Mineworkers and a breakaway union.

At the KDC gold mine, for instance, spokesman Sven Lunsche said the strike started Sunday night and that senior managers met Monday with strikers demanding the removal of NUM shop stewards and a minimum monthly wage of R12,500 ($1,560).

Some 12,000 miners at east KDC staged a weeklong illegal strike to demand the removal of NUM shop stewards that ended Sept. 3.

At a second platinum mine, Implats, 15,000-plus workers are demanding a 10 percent pay raise although they are continuing to work, spokesman Johan Theron said.

London-registered Lonmin PLC said just 6 percent of its 28,000 workers turned up Monday morning at its mine in Marikana, northwest of Johannesburg. Mine drivers drove around looking for workers to pick up, but the buses returned to the mine empty.

In Marikana, hundreds of chanting strikers descended on one after another of the Lonmin mine shafts, chanting anti-government songs and blaming President Jacob Zuma for the police killings. They were monitored by armed police in riot gear, some in armored cars, others on foot.

As strikers approached Lonmin's Hossy shaft, police escorted a speeding cavalcade of buses and vans carrying working miners and trucks with explosives as they rushed to get from one mine shaft to another.

Strikers have threatened to kill any miners or managers who do not respect their demand for all work to stop until Lonmin agrees to a monthly take-home pay of 12,500 rand ($1,560), about double their current wages.

Lonmin had hoped many more miners would come to work since a peace accord was signed last week with three major unions. But it was rejected by a breakaway union and nonunion strikers.

The government brokered the peace deal after police shot and killed 34 miners and wounded 78 on Dec. 16 at Marikana, a mass shooting reminiscent of apartheid-era days that has traumatized the nation of 48 million.

Ten people were killed in the week before the shootings: two police officers hacked to death by strikers, six union shop stewards and two mine guards burned alive in their car.

The Legal Resources Centre, meanwhile, announced that it has hired forensic experts and pathologists to investigate the Marikana violence on behalf of the South African Human Rights Commission.

The commission has stepped in following local news reports alleging that some miners were shot as they tried to surrender to police, others were shot in the back as they ran away from the police fire, and some were run over and killed by police armored cars.

Police and government officials have refused to comment on the allegations, saying they must await the results of a judicial commission of inquiry that is to report to Zuma in January.

Miners told The Associated Press they are getting desperate and do not have enough money to feed their families because of the no-work, no-pay strike. One said a loan shark is refusing to give money to any but long-time customers.

Still they said they remain resolute and will not return to work until their wage demand is met. The miners refused to give their names to a reporter.

The National Union of Mineworkers said the Marikana strikers had gone around Sunday night threatening anyone who went to work.

Negotiations between mine managers, several unions and representatives of strikers who do not want to be represented by any of the unions were postponed for 24 hours because the strikers' representatives said they did not know about the meeting, Lonmin spokeswoman Sue Vey said. She said the talks would start off by working out a framework for salary negotiations and probably would last several days.

But Gideon du Plessis, general secretary of Solidarity union representing mainly white mine workers, said the strikers' representatives sent a message saying their position had not changed and they would not go back to work until Lonmin agrees to the salary demand.

The last of the miners killed by police were buried during the weekend, one in Lesotho and three in South Africa. The Daily Dispatch newspaper quoted a family member as saying that one of them, Thembelakhe Mati, was wounded in the shooting and got away to hide in a shack, fearing he would be arrested if he went to the mine hospital for treatment.

Half a dozen buses carrying mourners who had attended the funerals in far-flung parts of the country returned Monday to a shantytown of tin-walled shacks without water or electricity near the mine

Ethiopia has pardoned two Swedish journalists jailed last year for supporting terrorism, a minister has said, adding they would be freed soon.

Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson are serving an 11-year jail term after they were captured in July 2011 with rebels in eastern Ethiopia.
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi pardoned the journalists before his death last month, the official said.
They have always argued they were in Ethiopia just to do their job.
Schibbye and Persson appealed for clemency following their conviction in December 2011 for supporting the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), which Ethiopia regards as a terrorist group.
The Ethiopian New Year - when prisoners are often freed - will be celebrated on Tuesday.
"The two Swedes are among the ones to be released," said Justice Minister Berhan Hailu.
"The decision to pardon them was made in July," he said, adding that they had to leave the country within 24 hours.
'Weapons training'
Mr Meles, who was in power for 21 years, died last month after a long illness.
The government said his deputy, Hailemariam Desalegn, would be sworn in to serve as prime minister until the next election, due in 2015.
But this has not yet happened, fuelling speculation of a power struggle.
Schibbye and Persson were captured by Ethiopian troops during a clash with ONLF fighters in July 2011.
The men acknowledged during their trial that they had held talks with ONLF leaders in London and Nairobi, before entering Ethiopia from Somalia and meeting about 20 members of the group 40km (25 miles) from the border.

They said their contacts with the ONLF were intended to help them to get into a region the Ethiopian authorities would not allow journalists to enter.

They said they wanted to report on the activities of a Swedish oil company, Lundin Petroleum, in the Ogaden.

Both men denied terrorism charges, including claims that they had been given weapons training.

Rebels in the Ogaden region have been fighting for independence since the 1970s, and the ONLF has been at the forefront of the fight since it was founded in 1984.
The Ogaden is an ethnic Somali part of Ethiopia.
One ONLF faction has signed a peace deal with the government, but another splinter group has continued to fight the army.
Rights groups accuse Ethiopia of trying to cover up abuses by troops in the region.


Almost half the aircraft had been pulled out of service at Air Nigeria, this West African nation's second-largest airline, and its staff hadn't received a paycheck in four months when its top executive summarily fired nearly all of its employees for "dishonesty."

"Corporations are like individuals, who naturally will get sick," Air Nigeria chairman Jimoh Ibrahim was quoted as saying. "The usual thing to do is to admit them in hospitals, either for corporate surgery or for treatment, as the case may be."

The collapse and the mass firing of about 800 workers at Air Nigeria comes as only four domestic airlines are currently flying in Nigeria, down from nine flying at the start of this year. The dramatic decrease highlights the current turmoil of the nation's troubled aviation sector.

While the federal government insists it conducts strict maintenance and financial audits of airlines, the financial mess left behind after Air Nigeria's shutdown and a June crash by another carrier that killed more than 160 people has left many Nigerians leery of flying and distrustful of official safety promises.

"I think that if in the future, if anybody's coming into this business, I think the government needs to put in a particular panel to check that person's mental state, first of all, and the financial records need to be checked so we can know if this person can even do the job," said Isaac Balami, president of Nigeria's National Association of Aircrafts Pilots and Engineers. "We've seen people that can't even manage an ordinary business. ... Aviation is not for a lazy man or somebody who doesn't know what he's doing."

Angered by their firing, more than 60 former Air Nigeria employees protested Friday outside of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and later marched past a domestic wing of Lagos' Murtala Muhammed International Airport. Former employees described a dysfunctional environment where bosses removed telephone lines and called Internet access and using an elevator to reach their high-rise office "a luxury."

Staff last received a paycheck in April and had been sitting at home for weeks for a call to return to work. At one point, employees also were forced to sign "loyalty oaths" to swear their allegiance to the company and promise not to be union members, workers said. Yet the company continued to collapse, even after it received money from a federal bailout fund, employees said.

"If they want to steal Nigerian money, don't use our hands or our heads to steal it," said an employee who asked only to be identified by her first name Barbara, out of hopes she might still receive the rest of her salary. "Just steal it and deal with your conscience."

Financial troubles have trailed Air Nigeria, a one-time darling of the country when billionaire Richard Branson helped create it as Virgin Nigeria in 2005. Branson pulled out of the airline and in 2010 Ibrahim took it over and renamed it.

Ibrahim, who also directs a major hotel chain, an insurance firm and an oil company, has strong ties to the country's political elite, as do many in business in the nation. But the engineers' strike earlier this year saw workers claim the company's finances stopped it from properly servicing its fleet. A top former company official also referred to airline's aircraft as "flying coffins" in local media reports.

The workers presented a letter outlining their complaints to officials at the civil aviation authority. Samuel Ogbogoro, a spokesman for Air Nigeria, did not respond to a request for comment Friday over the employees' allegations. The company has said, however, it hopes to reopen in 12 months, though it remains unclear how it will do that with the debts employees say it faces.

Experts believe Air Nigeria is not a unique case among airlines in Nigeria, however. Jet fuel purchases often must be made with cash in the country. Other executives with ties to government officials have floated airlines in the past.

Meanwhile, the country has suffered a series of fatal plane crashes over the last decades, with authorities never offering clear explanations for why the disasters happened.

In June, a Dana Air MD-83 crashed about five miles north of Lagos' airport, killing 153 onboard and 10 people on the ground. While an initial report suggests both engines failed on the flight, officials haven't explained why that happened, though they cleared the airline to fly again this week.

Meanwhile, other airlines appear to be grounded over financial concerns and other matters, leaving only four carriers flying and unable to meet the nation's growing demand for flights. That could put further pressure on an industry where corners have been cut in the past and pilots feel pressure to fly no matter what.

"The aviation industry is all about efficiencies, speed and accuracy," Balami said. "Can you imagine a pilot ... going through financial difficulties (and) he or she can't pay their bills and you expect them to concentrate?"


Nigeria's Power Minister Barth Nnaji has resigned amid reports that he is linked to a company bidding for a lucrative electricity contract. The government is privatising state-run companies in an attempt to end Nigeria's chronic power shortages.

A spokesman for Mr Nnaji said he had faced "totally wrongful accusations", Reuters news agency reports.Politicians in corruption-riddled Nigeria rarely resign over conflicts of interest, analysts say.President Goodluck Jonathan, who pledged to tackle the electricity crisis when he took office in 2010, said he accepted Mr Nnaji's resignation.
Neither he nor Mr Nnaji gave reasons for the decision, but it came after Nigerian newspapers reported that the ex-minister had an interest in a company involved in bidding for two state assets being sold off. A spokesman for Mr Nnaji confirmed he had a stake in the company, but denied that this amounted to a conflict of interest as the regulator had been informed, Reuters reports.
"He [Mr Nnaji] didn't like the totally wrongful accusations he had a conflict of interest in this process. These were planted by vested interests," the spokesman is quoted as saying. "He would rather go about his private business."
BBC Africa's Fidelis Mbah says since coming to office in July 2011, Mr Nnaji has ruffled feathers with the reforms he has attempted to implement.
He has been trying to tackle corruption and inefficiency in the power sector, which has angered civil servants likely to lose their jobs, he says.
Wealthy businesses which import generators have also criticised his plans to sell 11 distribution and six generation companies as part of a privatisation initiative, our correspondent says.
Nigeria is Africa's leading oil producer, with huge natural gas reserves. However, the country is often hit by fuel and electricity shortages, as the government prefers to export oil rather than using it for domestic needs, analysts say.

Nigeria's state-run oil company says suspected oil thieves have killed three of its employees near Nigeria's commercial capital.

Fidel Pepple, a spokesman for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, said in a statement Monday that gunmen shot at a team of engineers and technicians doing repairs on an oil pipeline in a town just north of Lagos this weekend. Others were hurt in the attack, he said.
Pepple said the pipeline was under repair after being vandalized. Oil theft is common in Nigeria, an impoverished West African nation.
However, such attacks are rare around Lagos. They typically happen in the nation's oil-rich southern delta, a maze of creeks and swamps about the size of Portugal.

Nigeria, an OPEC member, is a top exporter of crude to the U.S.

Speculations were all over by other Ghana’s political parties concerning the readiness of the former President John Jerry Rawlings to quit from the ruling NDC party have been turned to be a dream.

As the party plans its congress in Kumasi, this afternoon, rumors were that he (JJ) would not honor the invitation to partake the event but they got it wrong. “The Man was born to win and he has the charisma” Surprisingly, the whole stadium, the venue of the congress nearly somersaulted when the crowd overwhelm to welcome the former President in a fleet of convoy. 

He was however scheduled to give a speech. With usual applause from the crowd amidst, loud blowing of trumpets, dancing and jubilating, JJ was welcome to the podium to give his hidden message. He however put the opposition wrong. He showed them that, “a bird at hand worth ten times a bird in the Bush”.  

“Ladies and Gentlemen, join me now to congratulate the newly installed President of Ghana – H.E. President John Dramani Mahama” JJ exclaimed.  

He used the platform to wholeheartedly welcome the president and urged him to quickly install integrity through the presidency, as he swiftly referred the old adage that says “A bad nut spoils the whole nuts” 

The former president further cautioned that, credibility needed to be restored now before the party goes to the poll. He therefore made reference to that era (2008) when some group of few people struggled for the party’s victory while others were in their air-conditioned rooms enjoying.  

He therefore called on all supporters and sympathizers both home and abroad to come together to help in the campaign trail for the party to win power come December 7. 

God bless our Homeland, Ghana.

Report by: Mensah Dekportor (Hamburg)

A Togolese opposition leader is calling on women to go on a weeklong sex strike to demand the freedom of protesters detained ahead of elections in the West African nation.

Police arrested about 120 opposition supporters last week during clashes between protesters and security forces, according to Togolese human rights groups.
Government officials said all but eight had been released, and those still detained were in possession of knives.
"You don't go demonstrate with these," security minister Damehane Yark said of the weapons.
Demonstrators have taken to the streets in the capital of Lome for weeks to protest new electoral reforms they say favor the ruling party ahead of October's parliamentary elections. They are seeking a repeal of changes to the electoral laws.
Protests continued Saturday, with a female opposition leader calling for sex strikes starting Monday.
"I am inviting all women to observe a one-week sex strike, fasting and prayers to set our arrested brothers and husbands free," said Isabelle Ameganvi, leader of the opposition Let's Save Togo. "So all you ladies have to keep the gate of your 'motherland' locked up to all men from Monday up to Sunday."
The opposition leader said she is inspired by Liberian Nobel laureate and current President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who in 2003 called on women in her nation to observe a sex strike to press for peace amid a raging war.
Sex strikes have become a common way of civil disobedience in recent years. In 2009, Kenyan women pressed for a sex strike to end bickering among coalition government officials.
Last year, a group of women in a violence-plagued area of the Philippines slapped men with a sex ban until they promised to quit fighting. Their stand helped end clashes in July between villages in rural Mindanao Island.
"We have power to change things. We do not want to remain in the kitchen, but we can have our say in politics," Ameganvi said. "We cannot stay hand-crossed, as our children and husbands are being kept in jail."
In addition to the sex strike, she called on women to wear a special color during a demonstration Thursday.
"You all have to be dressed up in red pants to show your anger," she said, amid cheers.
The actions will be among a series of civil disobedience events planned.
"If our people are not released by Thursday, the women are going to rush to the prison naked to get them released, only in red pants and nothing else," she said.
The security minister said any attempts to enter the prison will lead to arrests.
"We await them," Yark said." In a state of rule of law like ours, we will get them arrested for offending moral values."
Togolese officials invited the opposition for talks Friday, but it turned down the government invitation.
"We will not hold any discussions with the government except those aimed at negotiating President Faure Gnassingbe's departure from power," said constitutional law professor Zeus Ajavon, an opposition supporter.
Togo has been led by the same family for more than 40 years .
Gnassingbe Eyadema ruled for 38 years until his death seven years ago. His son has led the nation since then.

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