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Prof John Evans Atta Mills, President of the Republic of Ghana is dead according to reliable information reaching Peacefmonline.com.

The President died on Tuesday afternoon after suffering from a long battle with sickness.  His death occurred at the 37 Military hospital in Accrca.

 Prof John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills was born on 21st July 1944 and was Sixty Eight-years-   old (68-years-old).

 He was the third and current President of the Fourth Republic of Ghana and was inaugurated on the 7th of January 2009, having defeated the ruling party candidate Nana Akufo-Addo in the 2008 election.

He was Vice-President from 1997 to 2001 under President Jerry John Rawlings, and stood unsuccessfully in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections as the candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

He recently returned from a nine day medical check-up in the United States. Prior to his trip to the U.S of A on June 16th, questions had been asked about the whereabouts of the president after he had not been seen in public for close to two weeks whilst communal violence ravaged parts of the country.

After a successful routine medical checkup in New York, H.E the President of the Republic of Ghana arrived home at about 12:45pm on Monday 25th June, 2012 to a rousing welcome. Before his departure to the USA, President Mills quashed rumours of his death when he addressed the media. He also stated that he is going for a “routine check-up” and will be “away for a few days.” In a formal notice to Parliament, President Mills said he will be away in the US until June 25, 2012. Details of the Presidential notice were read to MP’s during Tuesday's sitting of the House by the first Deputy Speaker, Hon Edward Doe Adzaho, who presided over proceedings.

 The President’s letter read: “In accordance with Article 59 of the Constitution of Ghana, I write to inform you that I shall be away in the US from Saturday, 16 June to Monday 25 June, 2012 for a routine medical check-up. “During my absence the Vice-President of the Republic of Ghana, H.E John Dramani Mahama, shall in accordance with Article 60 (8) of the Constitution act in my stead. Kindly accept, Right Honourable the assurances of my highest consideration.

 Signed

 Prof. John Evans Atta Mills,

 President of the Republic of Ghana.

 This was his last letter to parliament prior to his “routine check-up” in the United States of America.

 Condolences to all Ghanaians and his family from Peacefmonline.com.

  

The 32-year-old spent three months travelling through Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique before finally reaching South Africa, where he says he now has asylum status. His journey involved being crammed in a fishing boat - where he saw people suffocate to death - locked into a container, held in custody and climbing through electric fences.

Hundreds of migrants from the Horn of Africa die every year trying to reach South Africa. Abdullah, an English teacher in private school, survived his journey. He had already been separated from his wife and three children before he left Somalia, but hopes he can now trace them and perhaps bring them to South Africa too.

He spoke to Louise Redvers in Johannesburg about his ordeal: Fleeing with friends When you are running away from difficulties, you don't think, the only thing you try to focus on is what's ahead

I left Somalia about three months ago. I can't remember the exact date, when it was. I was born in the Qardho region [northern Somalia] but I left there because there was intense fighting between the so-called al-Shabab and the government.
They each accuse you of supporting the other, so it's either that you die or you support either of them. I couldn't withstand the way of life there and when I saw a few friends of mine fleeing I just went with them. We were hopping from one city to the other and we found ourselves in a refugee camp in northern Kenya, at Dadaab.

In the refugee camp life was difficult, you could get no help and no-one enrols you because all the focus is on the elderly and the weak.

If they see you're a bit strong, you have to fend for yourself doing awkward jobs like if you can find a donkey, you go and get firewood from the bush and sell it just to survive.

It was more like Somalia there because even though there was peace, if you can't get a life, what is there? I talked with a few friends there who had relatives abroad and we thought: "Why don't we try and find a better place?" So after a month, I left with those friends.

We went to Nairobi by truck, and in Nairobi I worked for like a week or so, then fortunately I saw a friend of mine, we were classmates about six years back, and he had come from South Africa. He suggested I tried some other places because life in Kenya is also becoming difficult. So I went to Mombasa and there I saw guys who were trafficking people and they took us in a boat from Mombasa to Dar es Salaam.


'Unbearable'

I can't exactly describe the boat. It's because I am not a fisherman, but it was a big boat and we were a mixture of Somalis, Ethiopians and Eritreans.

    Some people passed away on the boat from suffocation. They were just dumped in the sea. That was one of the most frightening things”

Abdullah Ibrahim

I cannot really describe the conditions. It was unbearable.

There were 70 people packed in a boat that is supposed to transport about 45. It was like one was sitting here, the other is sitting on your shoulder, the other is on your lap, so to breathe was very difficult and it was very cold in the night. But if you tried even to say a word, they would kick your nose. They said they would either call the police or you keep quiet.

Some people passed away on the boat from suffocation. They were just dumped in the sea. That was one of the most frightening things.

I was not thinking if I was suffocating - I don't know how I survived, only by a miracle I think. I paid the boat people about 10,000 Kenyan shillings, which is about $120 (£75) - it was the last money I had. We arrived in Dar es Salaam after three days. I don't know where exactly. They took us to a house where they locked us, for about another four days.

One guy I was with managed to get some help from a relative and I asked him to take me with him where he was going and he said he would. I remember it was the middle of the night and they packed us into a truck, a container, we were about 120 people and I think it was a 40ft container. That was even worse than the boat. We didn't know where we were going. We didn't have any documentation and we couldn't say anything. When you travel this way you have no rights, no say, so you have to just follow the people guiding you. When we crossed into Malawi the police found us and we were arrested and held for something like 20 days.

Then we were released. I think one of the guides managed to pay something, you don't know who your guides really are or what their relationship is with the border police.
After we were released, I tried to see if I could find any Somalis where we were in Lilongwe. Whenever you are in trouble, that is what you do, look for a relative or someone who knows your family.

    This year so far, nearly 300,000 people have fled Somalia to neighbouring countries
    In 2012 the number of Somali refugees in the Horn of Africa surpassed one million
    The UN projects more than 25,000 Somali refugees will be in South Africa by 2013
    In 2010 more people claimed asylum in South Africa than any other country in the world


We found an Ethiopian who directed us to a Somali guy. By then we were just three people as we'd split up from the group. The Somali guy kept us for three days and then he gave us some money to go to Mozambique. We spent about 10 days in Mozambique, mostly hiding from the police, and then this other guy came for us and said he would take us to South Africa.

I don't know where the place was but I remember it was like a farm or a zoo and there were wild animals there - we could hear their noises.

I remember there were long wires in rows that we had to jump over. We had a local person guiding us. Once we had crossed the border, we didn't know where we were but we went to find some Somalis. Then one guy who was driving to Johannesburg to buy stock for his business brought us here.

It was a Sunday when we arrived here in Mayfar. I phoned a friend of mine who is in Cape Town and he sent me some money that kept me for a week. A refugee's life I was told to go to Home Affairs and after about two weeks I managed to get refugee status. I know I was lucky to get this as others did not. Now I am looking for work. I think if I try hard, I can make myself a good future. I don't know if I will bring my wife and children here. I am trying to trace them at the moment. Let me cross the bridge when I reach it.

It's not right that we make these journeys in this way, but circumstances will force you to do what you have to. Sometimes whatever life brings you, you have to look for a solution, a way out. I don't owe anyone any money. Most of the people were doing it out of good will, out of their heart. It is our nature as Somalis, when we are outside Somalia, we are always helpful and if we see a Somali suffering we won't just leave them.

I don't recommend anyone to take the journey I did but if you have no other choice, try your luck. That's the only message that I can give them. I am very happy to be here. I don't know what tomorrow brings but today I am happy.

CNN

 

The presidents of Sudan and South Sudan have met for the first time since a border dispute brought their countries close to conflict in April.

Omar al-Bashir sat down with Salva Kiir on the sidelines of an African Union summit in the Ethiopian capital.  South Sudan became independent from the north a year ago, and numerous issues remain unresolved between the two countries.

A United Nations deadline for them to settle the dispute is set for 2 August.  Among other issues, their border has not been finalised and there are disagreements over oilfields, transport payments and divisions of the national debt.

Deadline looming No information has been released about what the two men spoke about during their meeting in Addis Ababa, but they shook hands publicly for the first time at the end of it.  The last official talks between Presidents Kiir and Bashir were at the previous AU summit in January.

At this summit, AU delegates urged the governments in Khartoum and Juba to settle their differences on oil and border demarcation before the UN's deadline.  The UN introduced its three-month deadline after cross-border clashes centred on the oil-rich region of Heglig brought Sudan and South Sudan close to all-out war in April.

South Sudan's independence from Sudan in July 2011 was supposed to herald the end of more than 50 years of bitter conflict between the two, but tensions have lingered.  Saturday's meeting between the two leaders is unlikely to yield any immediate results, but it at least shows the two countries are feeling the pressure to resolve their dispute.

CNN

The Mandela family feud involving the ruling ANC has reached new heights

with some of the former president’s grandchildren reminding his ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela that their grandfather is the only “magnet” in the family.  They also claim she is abusing Madiba’s name to try and swing the ANC leadership race, and is unnecessarily warping family ties in the process.

As the tensions unfold, it has also transpired that the ANC Youth League rowed into the saga on Tuesday, warning Ndileka Mandela that she was “breaking rank” by attending an ANC lecture in honour of Mandela, the event that appears to have fuelled the latest family spat. The so-called Mother of the Nation boycotted the lecture, which was delivered by President Jacob Zuma, and took issue with Ndileka for attending the event and speaking in the family’s name. Ndileka is Madiba’s first grandchild from his marriage to Evelyn, and the daughter of their first child, Thembi, who was killed in a car crash in 1969 while Madiba was in prison.

In a withering statement issued on her behalf, Winnie claimed Ndileka’s presence did not have the “endorsement by the family, as she stated” and that “the family reject (sic) her lies with contempt”.  Relations between Winnie’s and Evelyn’s sides of the family have at best been cordial over the years, but mostly terse. The past week’s exchange of anger was unprecedented.

It also came just days before the icon’s 94th birthday and family friends see it as a replay of his 90th, when relations had soured to the extent that Madikizela-Mandela and her family refused to attend.  However, Winnie is scheduled to travel to the Eastern Cape on Wednesday for Madiba’s birthday where she will face the family and Ndileka for the first time since the row started.  “Any suggestion that I was lying is not deserving of comment,” Ndileka told the Sunday Independent on Friday evening.

“When we talk about family endorsements and family opinions, we must be clear who we are speaking about.”  In her defence, her cousin, Mandla Mandela, who is also the chief of the Traditional Council in Madiba’s birthplace of Mvezo, and like her drawn from Evelyn’s side of the family, says he has no problem with Ndileka or any member of the family speaking in the Mandela name.  “My grandfather is the magnet of this family and through him we are all Mandelas.

“I respect each member of my family and I believe we must respect one another in return.”

Graça Machel, who was also present on Tuesday, appeared undeterred by Ndileka’s presence. In addition to Machel, the ANC had invited the “four senior members” of the Mandela family, which includes Madikizela-Mandela, her two daughters Zenani and Zindzi, as well as Makaziwe, Madiba’s only surviving child from his marriage to Evelyn.  “Aunt Maki (Makaziwe) couldn’t make it and she asked me to attend in her place,” Ndileka explained. “I believe it was the right thing to do and I have no regrets. I spoke about granddad’s legacy and as his granddaughter I have a right to do that. They cannot take that away from me. That some people decided not to attend, for whatever reason, is not a good enough reason for the rest of us not to go or to be later subjected to this kind of treatment.”

On the morning of the lecture, Madikizela-Mandela sent a harsh e-mail to the ANC expressing her general unhappiness at the “shabby” way in which she, her family and “Tata” were being treated by the ruling party. The e-mail was leaked to several newsrooms, well ahead of the 5pm lecture.

At around noon, Ndileka received a call from a member of the ANC Youth League, who generally has been supportive of “Mama Winnie” as she is one of them, telling her Ndileka was “breaking rank” by proceeding with her plans.  “I ignored the warning as I am not part of any rank or faction,” Ndileka said. “This was an event to honour the legacy of granddad and I didn’t want to be drawn into party politics, one way or the other, then or now.”

Mandla declined to comment on the contents of Madikizela-Mandela’s e-mail as he had not yet seen it.  “Until I am consulted by those who wrote it or who feel aggrieved, if that is the case, I do not want to speculate. If there are issues that need to be discussed, we must call a family meeting. But if these are issues that are played out in public, then that is outside my space.”

- Sunday Independent

Debbie Calitz says she was raped by her captors during her 20-month hostage ordeal in Somalia, a report has said.

Speaking to the Daily News in Durban on Wednesday, Calitz and her partner Bruno Pelizzari, who landed in South Africa almost two weeks ago, relived aspects of their capture.  Calitz said the most harrowing part was the kidnapping. “It was like a dream,” she said.

They described how they were taken hostage after their yacht, SY Choizil, skippered by Peter Eldridge, was hijacked off the Kenyan coast en route to Richards Bay from Dar es Salaam in October 2010. Eldridge was later rescued.“Bruno was asleep and I had finished my shift. Peter just started his shift when I saw three speedboats. From a distance they looked like whales,” she said. “Peter took one look and knew they were pirates. He went downstairs and made a Mayday call. Within a minute the leader was aboard, pointing a bazooka at me.”

About five other men also boarded, wielding AK-47 assault rifles, she said. Cellphones, money and jewellery were demanded, in that order. Calitz said each pirate had about six cellphones. The third boat, which she described as a “supply” boat, arrived with rice, beans, milk and sugar. “I asked for a cup of food for Bruno and myself. It was nice, it tasted like rice pudding.”

The couple and the skipper were held on the SY Choizil for about five days before being taken to an island where they said they were interrogated and assaulted. Calitz said a woman and a girl had been present for a while. The woman seemed to have some clout with the pirates, she said. “When they started to beat me, I told her to take the girl away. She spoke to the men in Somali and they stopped.”

The couple told the Daily News that before their release the couple wore whatever they had on the day they were captured. For Pelizzari it was jeans, a T-shirt and baggies. Calitz had a bikini and a thin cotton dress, which turned to rags in the first few months of their capture. At one stage, the couple were separated and Calitz’s bikini was taken from the bathroom, she said. “I was naked all the time.”

Shying away from certain questions, Calitz, who claimed she was raped by her captors, said more would be revealed in a book they were planning to write about their ordeal.In their almost two years in Mogadishu, Somalia’s largest city, the couple said they were moved – blindfolded – about 17 times.

Calitz said she bore no grudges: “They were young enough to be my children, I can’t hate them. They don’t know any different.” Pelizzari said some pirates appeared to be friendly, but they had a rule not to speak to the hostages for more than a minute at a time.“Some were ruthless, but others would sneak us a banana or something now and again,” he said. “I don’t know if it was part of their plan.”

The couple said their only link to the world – and a source of entertainment – was the oil-drenched newspaper wrapping their meals. “We’d read whatever news we could find and do the cryptic crosswords in our heads,” he said. “Being in a dark room all day, forced to whisper, and no stimulation was horrible. We needed something to occupy our minds.”

The couple also said that pink flip-flops and tarot cards are all that they had kept from their ordeal. Pelizzari said: “This is all I have from that time. We didn’t want to keep anything.” Calitz revealed a set of tarot cards made with scraps of paper. “This was the third set we made. We made it from an old school book and pencil Bruno found in a rubbish heap.

“The first set was made out of a sanitary box and charcoal. That was confiscated. We made a second pack from a calendar hanging on the wall, but that too was taken. I’ll never get rid of these,” she said.  Calitz told the Daily News that she would accompany Pelizzari to Dar es Salaam soon to fetch his boat, but that she would fly back. She said her children refused to let her sail again. Details about their release, who had played an instrumental role in freeing, them may never be revealed.

Spokesman for the Department of International Relations, Clayson Monyela, said: “Nothing more will be said on the matter. Security matters are not for public consumption.”

- IOL

The driver of a farm truck that was ripped in half by a coal train at a level crossing in Mpumalanga as he took fruit-pickers to work has been charged with 25 counts of murder.

South African police said that its investigation suggested the driver ignored clear signage, taking his vehicle into the path of the train that dragged the truck 200 metres down the track, dismembering its occupants.  “He was negligent,” police spokesperson Col Leonard Hlathi told Reuters.

Last year a Cape Town minibus taxi driver was sentenced to 20 years in jail for killing 10 children in his vehicle when it was hit by a train as he drove over railway lines while taking a shortcut on the way to school.  The latest accident on the country's ageing rail network happened on Friday, at a rural rail crossing in Mpumalanga. The train was carrying coal to Mozambique.

Police said forensic experts found it hard to establish exactly how many people had been killed. The initial death toll given was 24 while on Saturday police said it could be 26.

-Reuters

Kenyan police detained scores after gunmen masked in balaclavas hurled grenades at two churches this week, authorities said Wednesday, killing 17 people in the latest attacks in the nation.

 Authorities held more than 30 people after the twin explosions in Garissa town Sunday, according to Philip Ndolo, the regional deputy police chief.
Of those detained, at least 20 remain in custody after police released others because their interrogations yielded no results, he said.  The arrests include Kenyans and foreigners of Somali origin, according to the police chief.  The explosions near the Somali border wounded at least 40 others when gunmen stormed the Catholic Church and African Inland Church when services were under way, prompting a stampede.No one immediately claimed responsibility.
"We are sure al-Shabaab is behind the attacks, but right now we are only speculating," Ndolo said.  Attacks have escalated since Kenyan forces invaded neighboring Somalia last year to battle Islamist militant group al-Shabaab, blaming it for kidnappings of foreigners in the nation.  When Kenya pursued the terror group, it threatened retaliatory attacks, saying it considers the incursion an affront to Somalia's sovereignty.
Since the invasion in October, Kenya has been hit by a series of grenade attacks blamed on the militants or their supporters.  The grenade attacks have mostly hit the capital of Nairobi, the port city of Mombasa and northeastern towns and refugee camps near the border with Somalia.  Al-Shabaab is linked to al Qaeda and has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States.  U.S. officials have issued warnings of potential attacks in the country since the incursion.

 

 

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