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Roads tied to bushmeat hunting in Gabon

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  • bobutne
    Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com May 9, 2006 A new study ties the presence of roads to bushmeat hunting in the Congo rainforest (Gabon) and also raises
    Message 1 of 16 , May 9, 2006
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      Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com May 9, 2006

      "A new study ties the presence of roads to bushmeat hunting in the
      Congo rainforest (Gabon) and also raises important questions for
      global conservation. The study, published in the current edition of
      Conservation Biology, found roads and associated hunting pressure
      reduced the abundance of a number of mammal species including
      duikers, forest elephants, buffalo, red river hogs, lowland gorillas
      and carnivores. The research suggests that even moderate hunting
      pressure can significantly affect the structure of mammal communities
      in central Africa.

      The Conservation Biology study examined a 400 square mile area of
      tropical rainforest in southwestern Gabon, of which 130 square
      kilometers was the Rabi oil concession operated by the Shell-Gabon
      Corporation since 1985. The area served as a good study site because
      Shell's closely guarded and carefully regulated concession
      effectively protects the forest from hunters and incursion by
      outsiders. Such is not the case in the unprotected areas outside the
      concession, where road density is higher and hunting and development
      pressures are greater. By comparing mammal abundance and behavior
      between the two areas, the researchers found that roads had the
      greatest impact on large and small ungulates, causing important
      changes in mammal community structure. Further, say the researchers,
      hunting and roads may also altered the behavior of many species, with
      wildlife outside the concession area possibly showing a higher
      propensity to flee when confronted by humans.

      The findings are significant because unlike previous studies in the
      region which generally focused on only a single species, the
      researchers were able to "quantitatively assess the relative effects
      of roads and hunting (and their interaction) on different species and
      guilds of mammals." More broadly, the scientists say that their work
      has "both general and key local relevance, because the study area is
      a potentially critical corridor between two recently designated
      national parks in Gabon, and its future is far from secure." The
      scientists explain that because oil production in the Rabi
      concessions has dropped by nearly 80 percent since 1997, it is
      expected that Shell Oil will eventually abandon its concession which
      could result in "a dramatic increase in hunting, logging, and slash-
      and-burn farming, as well as continued oil production by smaller
      companies" less attuned to environmental concerns than the
      multinational giant. Since the Shell concessions has essentially
      served as a wildlife refuge, its abandonment could have significant
      consequences for resident animal populations in this exceptionally
      biodiverse region.

      "Although the Rabi concession is being intensively managed for oil
      production, the prohibitions on hunting and nighttime driving,
      restricted access for nonemployees, and guidelines designed to
      minimize deforestation inside the oil concession are clearly having
      important benefits for wildlife," write the researchers. "Among all
      of our study sites outside the concession, the one nearest the
      concession... had the highest mammal abundances, suggesting that Rabi
      concession might be acting as a population source and outside areas
      as a population sink for wildlife... Hence, the Rabi oil concession
      is probably better protected from poaching and illegal encroachment
      than are most national parks in Gabon."

      note: the entire article can be found here:
      http://news.mongabay.com/2006/0509-gabon.html
    • bobutne
      http://www.infosplusgabon.com/article.php3?id_article=372 LIBREVILLE, May 15 (Infosplusgabon) - Following the crushing victory of president Omar Bongo Ondimba
      Message 2 of 16 , May 15, 2006
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        http://www.infosplusgabon.com/article.php3?id_article=372

        LIBREVILLE, May 15 (Infosplusgabon) - Following the crushing victory
        of president Omar Bongo Ondimba in presidential elections last year,
        the government still appears to be showing some signs of nervousness
        about its domestic opponents. The veteran opposition leader Pierre
        Mamboundou of the Union du peuple gabonais (UPG) on March 21 sought
        asylum in the South African embassy in Libreville, following a police
        raid on his party headquarters. Meanwhile, Mamboundou met President
        Bongo Ondimba.
        The raid followed demonstrations by UPG supporters three days earlier
        in protest at the high cost of living and against fraud in the recent
        presidential election, and police claimed (though the UPG denied)
        that they had come under fire during the demonstration.

        The police also said they found pump action shotguns and dynamite at
        the party headquarters, which Interior Minister Andé Mba Obame said
        they planned to use to blow up a bridge. However, UPG officials
        vociferously denied they had kept any arms there and said this was an
        attempt to smear them with false allegations of firearms offences as
        a way of sabotaging their party, which has undoubtedly been one of
        the only real sources of political opposition to president Bongo
        Ondimba in Gabon.

        The Gabonese police have used such (and many other) tactics in the
        past against domestic opponents. The police also confiscated computer
        equipment and documents and arrested several party members during the
        raid, and a court in Libreville on April 21 sentenced four UPG
        members to terms of between two months and two years in jail for
        firearms and public order offences, fining them CFAFr 250,000 each.

        The lawyers for the defendants said the charges, which included
        allegations that the activists were preparing an "insurrection," were
        fabricated, and politically motivated.

        Mr. Mamboundou, who came second in the badly flawed elections with an
        official 13.6% of the vote (he claimed that in reality he got a far
        higher share and that the election was fraudulent) remained inside
        the embassy for a month and only returned to his office after meeting
        personally with Mr. Bongo Ondimba, the Prime Minister, and several
        other ministers, on April 19.

        Mr. Mamboundou had for years refused to meet Mr. Bongo Ondimba
        personally, noting that such face-to-face meetings are key forums
        through with the president has for years divided the opposition by
        reaching private accomodations with the leaders of opposition
        parties, unions, and other groups.

        The exiled opposition group BDP, which has been promising an
        insurrection along with its "armed wing" Mamba, alleged on March 24
        that the raid on the UPG headquarters was an attempt to "assassinate"
        Mr. Mamboundou, though the government denied this.

        BDP's "armed" sister organisation extremely hostile to the government
        In February the Conseil national de la communication (CNC) which
        oversees the media in Gabon had told internet service providers in
        February to block the organisation's web sites www.bdpgabon.org and
        that of BDP's "armed" sister organisation www.lemamba.org..

        These sites, which remain accessible outside Gabon, are extremely
        hostile to the government, referring to president Bongo Ondimbas
        as "Satan" and urging armed insurrection in Gabon.

        The web sites are hosted in the United States, where the leadership
        of the group BDP (Bongo Doit Partir) often resides. Apart from a
        possible attack on a Libreville electricity sub-station last year
        (see previous CR, The Political Scene), the group appears not to have
        been active militarily, although it does claim to be affiliated to an
        unnamed Gabonese political party, and it does continue to promise
        larger attacks in future.

        In an interview in mid-February president Bongo Ondimba, responding
        to questions about whether he was grooming his son Ai Bongo Ondimba
        to succeed him in power, and whether or not he would stand again as
        president at the next presidential elections, due in 2013, said
        he "(did) not believe it would be the best solution" for him to stand
        again at the next elections, and added (as he has said before) that
        his son Ali could stand as a future presidential candidate like any
        other Gabonese citizen, and that "there will be no Bongo dynasty in
        Gabon." Georges Rawiri, the president of the Senate and one of
        president Bongo Ondimba's staunchest, most trusted and powerful and
        longest-serving allies, died on April 9 at the age of 74. Mr. Rawiri
        has been important in government for most of the time since president
        Bongo took over as president in 1967, and he was instrumental in many
        groupings supportive of the president, including the Mouvement des
        Amis de Bongo (subsequently Mouvement des Amis de Bongo Ondimba)
        which was founded in 1994 and organised rallies and other actions in
        support of Mr. Bongo Ondimba at various times since.

        What is more, Mr. Rawiri, rumoured to be one of Gabon's richest, and
        to some the richest, people, was one of the key operators in managing
        the president's formidable political networks in Gabon, and, married
        to a French woman, he was also a strong proponent of French influence
        in the country too for decades, helping businesses such as Elf (now
        Total), Bolloré and others promote themselves in the country.

        He was also a key operator in the "Elf system" which for years (and
        possibly, to a lesser extent still does) enabled French political
        parties to access secret channels of finance via the Gabonese oil
        sector, and he was also one of the founders of the Grande Loge
        Nationale du Gabon, the powerful masonic set of networks which
        underpinned parts of the Elf system.

        It is not immediately clear what the effect will be on the Gabonese
        political system, as his influence was so varied, but it is probably
        a negative factor for president Bongo Ondimba's long-term ability to
        manage the complex balance of ethnic forces in his country. No
        replacement for Senate president has been announced yet, although it
        is expected that Léonard Andjembé, Senate vice-president, will do the
        job in the interim.

        The post of Senate president is also particularly important because
        its holder is the automatic successor to president Bongo Ondimba in
        case of his death or unexpected departure from power. Mr. Rawiri was
        from Moyen-Ogooué province, and it is likely that this post, or
        perhaps the post of head the national assembly, will eventually be
        handed over to someone else from that province, according to a
        tradition employed by Mr. Bongo Ondimba by which select posts are
        allocated to different ethnic and regional groups as part of a
        complex system of ethnic balance in government which has helped keep
        the peace in Gabon for years.

        A week of national mourning was decreed after Mr. Rawiri's death
        The death of Mr. Rawiri followed the death of president Bongo
        Ondimba's cousin Julien Mpouho Epigat, another long-standing ally of
        the president who had run the presidential secret services and who
        died on January 30.

        The deaths, which come at around the same time as the appointment of
        a new government with several new and younger faces (see previous CR,
        The Political Scene) represent a significant discontinuity in
        Gabonese political life and so possibly represent new uncertainties
        for the president which may take some time to settle.

        Gabonese police used tear gas on March 30 at Léon Mba international
        airport in Libreville to disperse around 100 former employees of the
        troubled state-owned airline Air Gabon, who were protesting at
        conditions imposed on them after the company's liquidation Air
        traffic was disrupted for several hours in the protest, though no
        demonstrators were injured.

        The demonstrators said they are seeking a package of measures,
        including piority treatment for former Air Gabon employees in new
        recruitment to Air Gabon's replacement, as well as a severance
        indemnity equivalent to between 18 and 84 months of salaries, a
        position that was rejected by Air Gabon's liquidation committee.

        Maixent Ndong Odzame, president of the Syndicat des personnels d'Air
        Gabon (SYPAG, the Air Gabon Union) said after the police broke up the
        demonstration that they would "continue the fight through other
        means."

        Police in early March also arrested up to 20 people and used tear gas
        to clear barriers set up in Nkoltang, 30km from Libreville on the
        main highway Northeast from the capital. The barriers had been set up
        by retired military personnel, who also set fire to around 10
        forestry trucks in the area, who were seeking greater pension and
        other benefit payments from the government. One of the protesters
        died in unclear circumstances in a further outbreak of violence two
        weeks after the arrests.

        The tried-and-tested system of resolving such disputes in Gabon is
        for the leaders of such groups to meet president Bongo Ondimba and
        agree face-to-face on a way out of the situation, bypassing
        ministries and other structures of state which are supposed to deal
        with such matters ; the agreements often involve the payment of
        considerations or allocations of positions to individual members of
        the negotiating teams, and it is believed that some meetings of this
        kind took place with respect to these disturbances.

        Interior Minister André Mba Obame said in March that he believed an
        unnamed political party was behind the actions, and promised to
        prosecute some of those who had built the barricades ; twenty-two of
        these personnel, who had also set up barricades in the same place on
        February, were arrested and according to local media faced possible
        prison sentences.

        The Syndicat des agents des affaires étrangeres (SAAE) staged a three-
        day warning strike in late March to protest what they said were non-
        payment of salaries and perks ; taxi drivers threatened (but did not
        carry out the threat) to strike in March to protest fuel price rises,
        and these were followed by the violent protests by retired military
        personnel in March Various union members have also expressed
        dissatisfaction with the minimum wage, and more protests about this
        appear probable.

        Independent newspaper Le Progressiste said in March that not much was
        expected of the new government, given that "the centre of gravity is
        elsewhere", referring to the fact that it is president Bongo Ondimba,
        rather than the government, that has real power in Gabon.

        The opposition is looking at legislative elections due in December
        The face-to-face negotiating tactics mentioned above are also a
        regular feature of the relationship between president Bongo Ondimba
        and opposition parties.

        Two parties - the Union Gabonaise pour la Démocratie et le
        Développement (UGDD) and the Congrès pour la démocratie et la Justice
        (CDJ) have so far refused to talk to the government led by Prime
        Minister Jean Eyeghé Ndong, and have instead called for help from
        foreign observers from the European Union, the African Union, the
        United Nations, and North America, to try and preserve some measure
        of impartiality in forthcoming legislative elections due in December.

        Eight political parties, including the CDJ and UGDD, signed a joint
        letter in late February to the president demanding the creation of
        new "trustworthy" electoral lists, the return to a system of voting
        in two rounds, free access for opposition parties to state media, and
        changes to the composition of the Conseil Nationale Électorale (CNE)
        which oversees the electoral process and is heavily supported by the
        government.

        This was rejected and instead the parties were offered the chance to
        select 11 representatives to work in the electoral registration
        centres in Libreville and nearby Owendo ; the opposition parties have
        since rejected this offer, saying it was not serious. The
        registration has therefore gone ahead.

        In light of ongoing budget cuts and austerity, the Ministry of
        Foreign affairs has commissioned studies into how to streamline its
        expensive diplomatic presence around the world, shifting the emphasis
        of its 38 embassies (including 14 in Africa) away from certain
        countries, notably in North Africa and Europe, and towards what are
        increasingly seen as more relevant development partners such as India
        and Malaysia, and also the Czech Republic.

        French companies "do not respond to the tenders" offered in Gabon
        Relations with France are declining gently over the years ;
        nevertheless it remains the preferred partner in most areas. In an
        interview in mid-February in French media, president Bongo Ondimba
        expressed irritation with declining French interest in his country
        and said that he had recently expressed this concern not only to the
        boss of French-based oil firm Total on a recent visit to Paris but
        also to French president Jacques Chirac ; in addition he said French
        companies "do not respond to the tenders" offered in Gabon and that
        the French are "conspicuous by their absence."

        Nevertheless, on a visit to Paris in February he was warmly received
        by France's top politicians, including Jacques Chirac, Prime Minister
        Dominic de Villepin and his rival the interior minister Nicholas
        Sarkozy.

        Relations with the United States are improving too, despite a mild
        fall in Gabonese oil exports to the U.S. (see Oil and Gas section,
        below), as the superpower seeks increasingly to project its military
        and political power into the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea. The U.S.S.
        Emory, with 1,400 marines on board, visited Gabon in March for a four-
        day visit, which involved training and exchanges with the Gabonese
        navy.
      • bobutne
        http://www.infosplusgabon.com/article.php3?id_article=374 LIBREVILLE, May 15 (Infosplusgabon) - Finance Minister Paul Toungui said in a meeting in Libreville
        Message 3 of 16 , May 15, 2006
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          http://www.infosplusgabon.com/article.php3?id_article=374

          LIBREVILLE, May 15 (Infosplusgabon) - Finance Minister Paul Toungui
          said in a meeting in Libreville on April 17 that Gabon's economy grew
          by 3.0% in 2005, from 1.4% in 2004, and inflation fell to 0.0% from
          0.5% in 2004, partly as a result of a "social truce" the president
          agreed in September 2003 with labour unions, the government and
          businesses : a deal to address certain of their concerns, in exchange
          for agreements to curtail or stop strike actions.

          He said that the banking system's net domestic credit fell by 8.5% to
          CFAFr 490bn in December, from CFAFr 535bn in December 2004, as rising
          credit to the economy (CFAFr 465bn, from rising credit to drinks and
          timber) was overtaken by a reduction in credit to the state.

          Mr. Toungui said, however, that despite a decision by the state to
          reduce its debts to the banking system, and the relative solidity of
          the sector overall, this had not resulted in enough of a rise in
          credit to the economy despite a resultant rise in the banks'
          liquidity, adding that the banks "are not financing the economy."

          This lack of bank lending has been a problem for several countries in
          sub-Saharan Africa, as a result of banks' caution and relative lack
          of attractive opportunities for lending amid uncertain investment
          climate and property rights.

          Only 15% of the market was made up of French cars. In an anecdotal
          sign of economic growth in some sectors, official data showed that
          3,600 new vehicles were sold in Gabon in 2005, 50 percent more than
          in 2004 (which was itself a very bad year) but still short of the
          record 4,400 sales established in 1999, during a period of economic
          crisis.

          Over 80% of all new vehicle sales were of Japanese cars, and two
          thirds of all vehicle sales were of 4X4 all-terrain vehicles. Only
          15% of the market was made up of French cars. Around 150 new Chinese
          vehicles have appeared on Gabon's streets recently, following their
          arrival just ahead of the presidential elections last November.

          China's Xinhua news agency said the vehicles, which were imported
          into Gabon by a Lebanese businessman, were given as a gift to
          president Bongo Ondimba, who allocated them to some of his
          supporters. A Chinese distributor is now selling Chinese-made
          vehicles in Gabon.

          New official Chinese data shows Gabon's trade with China has shrunk
          slightly, with total trade (imports + exports) falling by 5.2% from
          2004 to $392.4m, despite higher oil prices and significantly higher
          Chinese exports to Gabon over the year, rising by 192% in 2005 to
          $41.3m. This left imports (almost entirely of crude oil) 12.1% lower
          at $351.7m.

          This shrinkage is surprising, given that Chinese president Hu Jintao
          in February 2004 chose Libreville as the platform to announce a new
          strategic partnership with Africa, and the interest of Chinese
          companies in Gabon's mining and oil sectors.

          This decline also stands in stark contrast to Angola, where a fast-
          growing political relationship anchored by large Chinese loans to
          Angola has seen an explosion of trade, particularly Angolan oil sales
          which saw Angola in February overtake Saudi Arabia to become China's
          largest oil supplier (eds : surprising, but true, though this was
          only on a monthly basis in Feb.).

          The lack of growth in Gabon's trade with China suggests that despite
          Gabon's efforts to diversify its foreign partners away from over-
          reliance on France in recent years, this has not yet been reflected
          significantly in Chinese trade statistics.

          According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Gabonese
          exports to the United States have also suffered a slight fall in 2005
          to 46.5mb, down from 52.1mb in 2004.

          The declines reflect stagnant Gabonese oil production, and it is
          believed some increase in exports to the European Union.
        • bobutne
          http://euobserver.com/9/21621 Most of the German troops planned for the EU mission in Congo to secure elections will not travel to the African country,
          Message 4 of 16 , May 17, 2006
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            http://euobserver.com/9/21621

            "Most of the German troops planned for the EU mission in Congo to
            secure elections will not travel to the African country, according to
            German media. FT Deutschland reports that the troops will be
            stationed in neighbouring Gabon and will only be used in an emergency.

            "The bulk of the forces will be held ready in Gabon and Europe and
            only transferred in an emergency," defence ministry sources are
            quoted as saying.

            Up until now, it was assumed that German troops would be stationed in
            the Congolese capital, Kinshasa, to oversee the country's first
            democratic elections on 30 June. The German government is to agree
            the exact mandate of the Congolese mission today (17 May); the issue
            will then go before the parliament which has the final say on the use
            of German troops, also in international missions.

            The news about the German troops comes even as development NGOs are
            already saying that 1,500 troops is not enough to stabilise an
            emergency situation in Congo, if trouble breaks out. It also comes
            after months of EU wrangling over the exact make up of the mission
            with many EU states slow to send troops to the turbulent African
            state. The German government, led by chancellor Angela Merkel, agreed
            to provide around one third of the troops for the EU operation.

            The military planning will be conducted from a German headquarters in
            Potsdam, while France will lead the EU forces on the ground. Austria,
            Belgium, Portugal, Poland, Spain and Sweden have also pledged to
            contribute to the mission."
            -----------------------------------------------

            Interesting that for the first time since WWII that German troops are
            being stationed in Gabon and that they are avoiding the Congo. Should
            be a hot time in Libreville for all....
          • bobutne
            Just finished reading the account of Neil s one month bike trip through Cameroon. Pretty interesting account with Neil s insights. The following I scanned and
            Message 5 of 16 , May 18, 2006
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              Just finished reading the account of Neil's one month bike trip
              through Cameroon. Pretty interesting account with Neil's insights.
              The following I scanned and OCR'd:

              " All of the villages were equally poor, and the people descended
              from the same tribes, so the difference must run deeper. Maybe
              sometime in the past there had been a chief, or a succession of
              chiefs, who were grasping, insensitive, suspicious, or simply rude.
              They would deal with their people in that fashion, and whether or not
              the people emulated the chief's attitudes, they would be forced to
              emulate his behavior. The chief's world-view, however twisted, would
              become the example, and soon the way the villagers treated each
              other.

              And if the men dealt with their neighbors by dishonesty or suspicion,
              so too would the women on market day, and the sons and daughters
              after them. It would become the manner in which people related to one
              another, defensive and cynical and me against-the-world, and before
              long the whole village would function by that modus vivendi. (There's
              even an international parallel there.) The opposite would also apply,
              in the ripples radiating from a chief who was confident and
              personable, who treated his people fairly and with affection. His
              village would have time for friendliness, and room for self-respect.

              Could hell be a place where there is no self-respect? A place where
              people have no pride in their own existence or behavior, and thus
              would have none for anyone or anything else? Was that what had made
              Kumba so unnerving? The town so slovenly and repellent — not because
              of poverty, but because the people didn't seem to care if they dumped
              garbage in the streets, if they were rude and unpleasant, if the
              ditches reeked, if the roads and buildings were falling apart. That
              sign in the hotel room about showing respect for yourself and others,
              that was a great way to ask people to behave themselves. Aristotle
              would have liked that."

              Half-way through the book, I read the back cover to find that the
              author, Neil Peart, is/has been the drummer for Rush. Better read
              not know that fact when I read the first half.

              I've quite a library of African adventure accoutns and novels. It's a
              personal passion. Any recommendations other than Paul Theroux?
            • Amin F. Abari
              I also just finished a book that could be considered sort of an adventure account . It is The Trouble with Africa and was written by Robert Calderisi. He
              Message 6 of 16 , May 20, 2006
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                I also just finished a book that could be considered sort of
                an "adventure account". It is "The Trouble with Africa" and was
                written by Robert Calderisi. He is a Canadian that has been working
                on African development issues for 30 years or so. First with the
                Canadian fund and then with the World Bank. He was also, the
                country director for a group of countries that included Gabon until
                2003 when he retired.

                I highly recommend it.

                Another interesting book that I am in the middle of is "The Country
                of The Dwarfs" by Paul Du Chaillu. It was first published in 1871
                (mine is the 1913 edition) and so far it is very interesting.

                He was a French (or maybe American) explorer / traveler /
                anthropologist that traveled quite a bit in Gabon and wrote a number
                of books about it.



                --- In gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com, "bobutne" <bobutne@...>
                wrote:
                >
                > Just finished reading the account of Neil's one month bike trip
                > through Cameroon. Pretty interesting account with Neil's insights.
                > The following I scanned and OCR'd:
                >
                > " All of the villages were equally poor, and the people
                descended
                > from the same tribes, so the difference must run deeper. Maybe
                > sometime in the past there had been a chief, or a succession of
                > chiefs, who were grasping, insensitive, suspicious, or simply
                rude.
                > They would deal with their people in that fashion, and whether or
                not
                > the people emulated the chief's attitudes, they would be forced to
                > emulate his behavior. The chief's world-view, however twisted,
                would
                > become the example, and soon the way the villagers treated each
                > other.
                >
                > And if the men dealt with their neighbors by dishonesty or
                suspicion,
                > so too would the women on market day, and the sons and daughters
                > after them. It would become the manner in which people related to
                one
                > another, defensive and cynical and me against-the-world, and
                before
                > long the whole village would function by that modus vivendi.
                (There's
                > even an international parallel there.) The opposite would also
                apply,
                > in the ripples radiating from a chief who was confident and
                > personable, who treated his people fairly and with affection. His
                > village would have time for friendliness, and room for self-
                respect.
                >
                > Could hell be a place where there is no self-respect? A place
                where
                > people have no pride in their own existence or behavior, and thus
                > would have none for anyone or anything else? Was that what had
                made
                > Kumba so unnerving? The town so slovenly and repellent — not
                because
                > of poverty, but because the people didn't seem to care if they
                dumped
                > garbage in the streets, if they were rude and unpleasant, if the
                > ditches reeked, if the roads and buildings were falling apart.
                That
                > sign in the hotel room about showing respect for yourself and
                others,
                > that was a great way to ask people to behave themselves. Aristotle
                > would have liked that."
                >
                > Half-way through the book, I read the back cover to find that the
                > author, Neil Peart, is/has been the drummer for Rush. Better read
                > not know that fact when I read the first half.
                >
                > I've quite a library of African adventure accoutns and novels.
                It's a
                > personal passion. Any recommendations other than Paul Theroux?
                >
              • bobutne
                Thanks, Amin, for the recommendations. I also ordered Paul Du Chaillu, gorilla hunter: Being the extraordinary life and adventures of Paul Du Chaillu by
                Message 7 of 16 , May 22, 2006
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                  Thanks, Amin, for the recommendations. I also ordered "Paul Du
                  Chaillu, gorilla hunter: Being the extraordinary life and adventures
                  of Paul Du Chaillu" by Michel Vaucaire and "A Continent for the
                  Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa" by Howard W. French.







                  --- In gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com, "Amin F. Abari"
                  <aminabari@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > I also just finished a book that could be considered sort of
                  > an "adventure account". It is "The Trouble with Africa" and was
                  > written by Robert Calderisi. He is a Canadian that has been
                  working
                  > on African development issues for 30 years or so. First with the
                  > Canadian fund and then with the World Bank. He was also, the
                  > country director for a group of countries that included Gabon until
                  > 2003 when he retired.
                  >
                  > I highly recommend it.
                  >
                  > Another interesting book that I am in the middle of is "The Country
                  > of The Dwarfs" by Paul Du Chaillu. It was first published in 1871
                  > (mine is the 1913 edition) and so far it is very interesting.
                  >
                  > He was a French (or maybe American) explorer / traveler /
                  > anthropologist that traveled quite a bit in Gabon and wrote a
                  number
                  > of books about it.
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > --- In gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com, "bobutne" <bobutne@>
                  > wrote:
                  > >
                  > > Just finished reading the account of Neil's one month bike trip
                  > > through Cameroon. Pretty interesting account with Neil's
                  insights.
                  > > The following I scanned and OCR'd:
                  > >
                  > > " All of the villages were equally poor, and the people
                  > descended
                  > > from the same tribes, so the difference must run deeper. Maybe
                  > > sometime in the past there had been a chief, or a succession of
                  > > chiefs, who were grasping, insensitive, suspicious, or simply
                  > rude.
                  > > They would deal with their people in that fashion, and whether or
                  > not
                  > > the people emulated the chief's attitudes, they would be forced
                  to
                  > > emulate his behavior. The chief's world-view, however twisted,
                  > would
                  > > become the example, and soon the way the villagers treated each
                  > > other.
                  > >
                  > > And if the men dealt with their neighbors by dishonesty or
                  > suspicion,
                  > > so too would the women on market day, and the sons and daughters
                  > > after them. It would become the manner in which people related to
                  > one
                  > > another, defensive and cynical and me against-the-world, and
                  > before
                  > > long the whole village would function by that modus vivendi.
                  > (There's
                  > > even an international parallel there.) The opposite would also
                  > apply,
                  > > in the ripples radiating from a chief who was confident and
                  > > personable, who treated his people fairly and with affection. His
                  > > village would have time for friendliness, and room for self-
                  > respect.
                  > >
                  > > Could hell be a place where there is no self-respect? A place
                  > where
                  > > people have no pride in their own existence or behavior, and thus
                  > > would have none for anyone or anything else? Was that what had
                  > made
                  > > Kumba so unnerving? The town so slovenly and repellent — not
                  > because
                  > > of poverty, but because the people didn't seem to care if they
                  > dumped
                  > > garbage in the streets, if they were rude and unpleasant, if the
                  > > ditches reeked, if the roads and buildings were falling apart.
                  > That
                  > > sign in the hotel room about showing respect for yourself and
                  > others,
                  > > that was a great way to ask people to behave themselves.
                  Aristotle
                  > > would have liked that."
                  > >
                  > > Half-way through the book, I read the back cover to find that the
                  > > author, Neil Peart, is/has been the drummer for Rush. Better
                  read
                  > > not know that fact when I read the first half.
                  > >
                  > > I've quite a library of African adventure accoutns and novels.
                  > It's a
                  > > personal passion. Any recommendations other than Paul Theroux?
                  > >
                  >
                • bobutne
                  http://www.bgfi.com/htm/fr/bgfibank/banque_libreville.html LIBREVILLE, May 22 (Infosplusgabon) - Henri-Claude Oyima, 50, is CEO of the International Gabonese
                  Message 8 of 16 , May 23, 2006
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                    http://www.bgfi.com/htm/fr/bgfibank/banque_libreville.html

                    LIBREVILLE, May 22 (Infosplusgabon) - Henri-Claude Oyima, 50, is CEO
                    of the International Gabonese and French Bank (BGFI Bank). In the
                    space of several years he has taken the bank to the position of
                    number one in Gabon and CEMAC zone.

                    After completing a Bachelor of Science in Administration and Master
                    of Art in Development Banking at Washington DC University, Oyima
                    started working at Citibank of New York in 1982 and joined BGFI in
                    1985.

                    He is an active businessman and he led a rapid integration of BGFI
                    Bank in Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and Congo by placing a strategic
                    use of knowledge at the heart of business success.

                    M. Oyima who studied in the United States has encouraged his staff to
                    learn English is eager to point out that Gabon's commercial and
                    financial interests are no longer dominated by France. On the
                    contrary, there is willingness at all levels to open new horizons in
                    Asia and the Americas, as well as in Africa. BGFI Bank already
                    operates in countries such as Congo and Equatorial Guinea.

                    One of the leaders in the commercial banking sector in Gabon is BGFI
                    Bank, which traces its origins back to the French bank, Paribas. Both
                    the capital and the personnel of BGFI were gradually `Gabonized',
                    initially with a significant state participation that has now been
                    reduced to 8%.

                    The head office is in Libreville, Gabon's capital. Twelve branch
                    offices are accelerating the integration into the global economy.
                    BGFI Bank became one of Central Africa leading banking and financial
                    services organisations. The bank offers personal, commercial,
                    corporate and merchant banking products and has relationships with
                    all major international and regional financial institutions.

                    The BGFI Group Bank offers a comprehensive range of services to the
                    mains companies interested in trading with or investing in Gabon.

                    Oyima is the president of the Gabonese employer confederation (CPG)
                    and the président of "Le Club de Libreville" . First of all, the
                    Gabon Interprofessional Union (UNIGABON) was founded on 4 September
                    1959. In 1978, its title was changed to the current Gabonese
                    Employers' Confederation (CPG).

                    The CPG was initially concerned with social issues above all else,
                    but it has progressively moved towards a wider conception of its
                    mission and today is determined to play a role in the development of
                    Gabon and its companies by provide the authorities with a good source
                    of proposals and strong representation.

                    M. Oyima thinks that investors in Gabon must make enquiries at the
                    official institutions, such as the Gabonese Employers' Confederation,
                    consultancy firms and the Agency for the Promotion of Private
                    Investments, prior to setting up business. Then comply with the texts
                    in force and act in accordance with the labour laws.

                    They have to be familiar with any agreements and obligations
                    associated with the sector of activity related to the chosen business
                    and apply for all the necessary licences in this respect.

                    BGFI BANK is a 100% African Bank established in April 1971. It was
                    born out of a partnership between Banque nationale de Paris (BNP-
                    Parisbas), the Netherlands and the Gabonese government. 10 years on
                    the bank was renamed Banque Paribas Gabon. The change in strategy
                    adopted by Paribas in 1996 saw the state become the majority
                    shareholder and the bank renamed once more, this time as Banque
                    Gabonaise et Française Internationale (BGFI).

                    Since 2000, the acronym BGFI BANK has been preferred over the full
                    name. A month later, the first branch outside Gabon was opened in
                    Brazzaville. This was followed by another in Malabo in Equatorial
                    Guinea, and, in 2001, the Pointe Noire branch in Congo.

                    http://www.infosplusgabon.com/article.php3?id_article=402
                  • bobutne
                    http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/may2006/sb20060524_043602 .htm Gabon, on Africa s Atlantic coast, is one of those remote places where it usually
                    Message 9 of 16 , May 25, 2006
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                      http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/may2006/sb20060524_043602
                      .htm

                      "Gabon, on Africa's Atlantic coast, is one of those remote places
                      where it usually takes the deep pockets of an energy industry giant
                      like Exxon Mobil (XOM) or Royal Dutch Shell (RDS'A) to discover and
                      produce oil and natural gas. So what is Vaalco Energy, an upstart
                      with just 20 full-time employees and annual revenue of $93 million,
                      doing there drilling into the ocean floor? Pumping a lot of cash.

                      Executives at the Houston-based outfit figured the odds of striking
                      it rich were better in foreign territory than at home, where hundreds
                      of other wildcatters were hustling for a dwindling number of
                      prospects. The timing of its African foray could hardly have been
                      better. With oil prices around $70 a barrel, reserves valued at
                      $101.6 million in 2003 are now worth 60% more.

                      Says Chief Executive Robert Gerry III: "For us there's a lot less
                      competition and a lot more opportunity offshore."The Gabon oil has
                      fueled phenomenal growth for the energy outfit. Over the past three
                      years, its revenues have increased more than eightfold, while profits
                      are up 75 times, to $33.7 million, from just $445,000 in 2002. That
                      not only put Vaalco on BusinessWeek's Hot Growth list for the first
                      time, it allowed it to debut at No. 1.

                      OIL RAGS TO RICHES. Gerry, a 67-year-old veteran of the oil patch who
                      started out as a New York stockbroker, has taken Vaalco from hard
                      times to wealth. The company was barely alive in the late 1990s as
                      energy prices cratered and production from its old wells in the
                      Philippines dwindled. Its annual revenue was less than $1 million
                      through 2001.

                      To revive the company, Gerry drilled a test well in an expanse
                      extending 25 miles from the coast of Gabon. Vaalco had paid less than
                      $1 million in 1995 for the right to drill there. The well, in 270
                      feet of water, found reserves estimated at 30 million barrels, and
                      Vaalco owns 28% of that oil. The Etame field now produces about
                      18,000 barrels a day for its partners, and provides essentially all
                      of Vaalco's revenue.

                      With cash reserves of $70 million, Gerry is ready to do more
                      wildcatting. Later this year, he hopes to sink wells in new acreage
                      in Gabon. The oil producer also has put up $8.4 million for a 40%
                      interest in 1.4 million acres off the coast of Angola and has set up
                      an office in Scotland to scout for North Sea projects. Of course,
                      Vaalco's future depends on adding reserves to offset its output.
                      Given its peewee stature, vaalco is far more vulnerable to a string
                      of dry wells or a plunge in oil prices than Exxon Mobil or Shell. And
                      if it finds more oil? Don't be surprised to see a larger player try
                      to gobble up the little money pumper.
                      now!
                    • bobutne
                      6/4/2006 LIBREVILLE, June 3 (AFP): Gabon has granted China sole rights to exploit huge untapped iron ore reserves and build costly rail links needed to reach
                      Message 10 of 16 , Jun 4, 2006
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                        6/4/2006 LIBREVILLE, June 3 (AFP): Gabon has granted China sole
                        rights to exploit huge untapped iron ore reserves and build costly
                        rail links needed to reach them in the tropical forest, a government
                        statement announced yesterday.

                        A Chinese consortium headed by the China National Machinery and
                        Equipment Import and Export Corporation (CEMEC) has been granted the
                        rights by the west African country's government.

                        The statement said the Gabonese state would have a share in the
                        project but gave no further details.

                        An informed source said work would be launched at the end of the year
                        and the first ore would be extracted before 2010.

                        The decision kicks out the world's leading iron miner, Brazil's Vale
                        do Rio Doce (CVRD), which since April last year had headed a
                        consortium with China's CEMEC and Sinosteel, along with the French
                        group Eramet.

                        But the Brazilians and the Chinese "fell out over who would be in
                        charge of the various operations," an observer said, "and in the end
                        they decided to make separate bids."

                        The duel split the Gabonese government between those who backed the
                        Brazilian bid, led by Richard Onouviet, minister for oil and
                        resources, and supporters of the Chinese, led by Foreign Minister
                        Jean Ping, whose father is Chinese.

                        The iron ore was discovered in 1955 at Belinga, which lies in remote
                        forest hills 500 kilometres (300 miles) east of Libreville, the
                        capital and port on Gabon's Atlantic coast.

                        Belinga is thought to be one of the last major untapped iron ore
                        reserves on the planet, estimated at at least a billion tonnes, 60
                        per cent rich in iron.
                      • bobutne
                        Morocco and Gabon signed, on Wednesday, two cooperation agreements in the infrastructure and housing fields. The first agreement provides for setting up a
                        Message 11 of 16 , Jun 8, 2006
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                          Morocco and Gabon signed, on Wednesday, two cooperation agreements in
                          the infrastructure and housing fields. The first agreement provides
                          for setting up a framework for technical cooperation in the
                          infrastructure field to promote technology transfer, development of
                          competencies and human resources and rational management of
                          infrastructures. The second agreement in the housing sector aims to
                          set up a follow up committee to follow up cooperation actions in this
                          sector.

                          In a statement to the press, Minister Delegate for housing, Taoufik
                          Hjira said that a common cooperation program is underway to build
                          some 3,700 houses in Libreville.

                          The cooperation agreement in the housing sector also provides for
                          implementing a bilateral cooperation program for 2006-2007, through
                          which Morocco will provide the necessary support for Gabon to set up
                          an institution in charge of urban development and elaborate urban
                          documents.

                          As for trade cooperation, the two parties underlined the need to give
                          a new impetus to their trade exchanges and endeavor to sign a free
                          trade agreement. In this respect, Moroccan Trade, Industry and
                          Economy upgrading minister, Salah Eddine Mezouar, said that Morocco,
                          anew, suggested to establish a free-trade zone with the Economic and
                          Monetary Community of Central Africa.

                          King Mohammed VI received, Thursday, Gabon's Prime minister, Jean
                          Eyéghé Ndong who pays an official visit to Morocco. Ndong was
                          accompanied, during the audience, by Ali Bongo and Jean François
                          Ndongou, respectively Gabonese State ministers of National Defence,
                          and of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation, Francophonie and regional
                          integration. The audience was also attended by Moroccan minister
                          delegate for Foreign Affairs, Taib Fassi Fihri, and the two countries
                          respective ambassadors, Ali Boji and François Banga Eboumi.

                          Source : MAP
                        • bobutne
                          New York Times, June 12, 2006 The U.S. Senate plans to begin consideration this week of the defense authorization bill for the coming year. One distressing
                          Message 12 of 16 , Jun 12, 2006
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                            New York Times, June 12, 2006

                            The U.S. Senate plans to begin consideration this week of the defense
                            authorization bill for the coming year. One distressing section of
                            the package would reauthorize the Pentagon to arm and train foreign
                            militaries, something it was first authorized to do for 2006.
                            Although the money involved represents only a $200 million piece of
                            the half-trillion-dollar Pentagon budget, it marks the continuation
                            of a dangerous militarization of American foreign policy.

                            Traditionally, the authority to train and equip foreign forces was
                            the territory of the State Department. Arming a foreign power that
                            does not respect human rights invites disaster. So Congress requires
                            the State Department to verify that a government meets certain
                            standards of human rights and democracy before it can receive
                            assistance.

                            But no such restrictions impede the Defense Department, and the
                            danger is more than theoretical. Six of the 10 African nations the
                            Pentagon proposes to train and equip this year (Algeria, Cameroon,
                            Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Tunisia) have poor human rights
                            records.

                            Washington has little control over how recipient countries choose to
                            wield their newfound might, so train-and-equip programs must be kept
                            under strict observation to ensure that they adhere to necessary
                            guidelines. But the Pentagon is notorious for not operating
                            transparently, and the congressional committees that are supposed to
                            oversee Pentagon spending are unlikely to spare much attention for
                            such a small piece of the overall military budget.

                            Congress should return these programs to State Department
                            supervision. If it cannot summon the will to do that, it should at
                            least mandate that the programs financed by the Pentagon conform to
                            the same democratic and human rights standards that apply when they
                            are run by the State Department.
                          • bobutne
                            Gabon Faces Challenge to Reform By Jeffrey Young Washington, D.C. 07 July 2006 The West African coastal state of Gabon has had only one president for nearly 40
                            Message 13 of 16 , Jul 9 2:27 PM
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                              Gabon Faces Challenge to Reform
                              By Jeffrey Young
                              Washington, D.C.
                              07 July 2006

                              The West African coastal state of Gabon has had only one president
                              for nearly 40 years. Omar Bongo Ondimba, Africa's longest serving
                              head of state, has presided during decades of oil-based prosperity
                              that may not be sustainable.

                              Libreville, Gabon. The shops in the capital of the Gabonese
                              Republic, Libreville, are filled with expensive goods from Europe and
                              Asia. Government ministry buildings are plush and built on a grand
                              scale. The administration of Gabon's President, El Hadj Omar Bongo
                              Ondimba is stable, with key posts filled with his family members.
                              Per capita income last year was estimated at $6,800, in large part
                              because the country's population is only some 1.4 million people. On
                              the surface, Gabon appears to be a success story. But beneath that
                              veneer are problems with fair governance and the country's economic
                              future.

                              The Bongo Strategy. Omar Bongo was elevated from the post of vice-
                              president in 1967 when Gabon's first President, Leon M'Ba died
                              suddenly. Former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria Princeton Lyman, who is
                              now with the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, says that
                              along with the presidency, Mr. Bongo inherited M'Ba's taste for
                              autocratic rule. "He's part of an earlier generation of African
                              leaders who are virtually 'presidents for life.' You've got a very,
                              very dominant government [political] party, and an opposition that
                              haven't really got their feet on the ground and been able to operate
                              very effectively. So all the decisions are really made by the
                              president. There isn't a lively [i.e., independent] parliament," says
                              Lyman.

                              The existence of a political opposition in Gabon is a relatively
                              recent phenomenon. In 1968, Omar Bongo declared Gabon to be a one-
                              party state, controlled by his Gabonese Democratic Party, the P.D.G.
                              In the early 1990s, President Bongo reverted back to a multi-party
                              political system.

                              But Mark Rosenberg at the Freedom House human rights monitoring group
                              in New York says the resumption of multiple parties in Gabon was
                              actually a cynical ploy by Omar Bongo to maintain control of the
                              state. "There's certainly an element of 'divide and conquer' here.
                              You have 35 registered political parties in Gabon. 29 of them belong
                              to an alliance with Bongo's P.D.G. The P.D.G. has been in power
                              since independence [from France in 1960]. That's an overwhelming
                              political dominance," says Rosenberg. "Even if these parties in the
                              alliance decide to buck [i.e., oppose] Bongo or his party, they
                              wouldn't have much space to do so."

                              This can be seen in the country's last three presidential elections,
                              in which Mr. Bongo's vote totals have gone from 51 percent in 1993 to
                              72 percent last year. Meanwhile, the P.D.G. - controlled parliament
                              has abolished presidential term limits, removing an obstacle for Mr.
                              Bongo's continued rule.

                              Within the government, Omar Bongo has prevented challenges to his
                              rule by putting his family members or others very close to him in key
                              positions such as Minister of Defense. That post is held by his son,
                              Ali, who many analysts expect to claim the presidency when his father
                              dies or leaves office, despite a constitution that does not place him
                              directly in the line of succession.

                              Jennifer Cooke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies
                              in Washington says along with avoiding strife within the government,
                              Gabon has largely been spared the inter-ethnic and class-related
                              problems that affect other African states. "Bongo himself is from a
                              minority group, which may take away some of that [inter-ethnic]
                              friction. Another point is that given the wealth of the country and
                              the fairly high per capita income, everybody is doing well enough
                              that it doesn't really come down to the hard core divisions [i.e.,
                              between 'haves' and 'have-nots.']," says Cooke.

                              Gabon's high level of government spending during Mr. Bongo's rule has
                              been maintained even during times like the 1990s, when oil prices
                              plunged, by borrowing massive amounts of money from international
                              lenders. As a result, the country's public debt level is now nearly
                              30 percent of its gross domestic product.

                              Gabon has enjoyed oil-based prosperity since the late 1960s. But
                              Keith Myers, with the Royal Institute for International Affairs in
                              London, says that economic underpinning won't last
                              forever. "Gabon's 'Achilles heel' is that oil production peaked a few
                              years ago and is [now] on a steadily declining track. And so has
                              G.D.P. As a result, poverty is starting to get worse, and the
                              government badly needs to implement a diversification policy to wean
                              itself away from oil dependence," says Myers.

                              Gabon's oil production last year was about 268,000 barrels per day,
                              down by a third from its peak in the mid-1990s. Many industry
                              experts say its reserves could be depleted in less than a decade.

                              C.S.I.S. analyst Jennifer Cooke says that, so far, Gabon's president
                              and his government have not adequately prepared for a future without
                              oil. "Bongo is not looking toward 2015, when the country is going to
                              really have to deal with declining oil revenue," says Cooke. "Yes,
                              tourism is one thing [i.e., a way to replace oil revenues]. The
                              logging industry and the timber industry - - there's likely to be a
                              great deal more demand there down the line. And Gabon is rich in
                              precious timbers. But there hasn't really to date been the
                              investment in other sectors that are going to diversify the economy
                              and carry the country through [this transition from an oil-based
                              economy]."

                              Omar Bongo Ondimba is more than 70 years old and many observers
                              predict that he may not live to the end of his current term in 2012.
                              But so long as he remains in power, they say that the status quo in
                              Gabon will continue and that solving the country's problems may be a
                              task faced by his successor.

                              http://www.voanews.com/english/NewsAnalysis/Gabon2006-07-07-voa54.cfm
                            • bobutne
                              I ve never understood what this force is doing. Are the elections taking place in Gabon? Christophe Mboso, one of Congo s 32 presidential candidates, said
                              Message 14 of 16 , Jul 26 2:42 PM
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                                "I've never understood what this force is doing. Are the elections
                                taking place in Gabon?" Christophe Mboso, one of Congo's 32
                                presidential candidates, said sarcastically during a televised debate
                                last week.

                                Full article: http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L25562447.htm
                              • gouaf
                                I heard one theory that says that the force is there in fact to provide backup and logistical support for Ivorian rebels, who will be launching a major attempt
                                Message 15 of 16 , Jul 27 11:47 AM
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                                  I heard one theory that says that the force is there in fact to
                                  provide backup and logistical support for Ivorian rebels, who will be
                                  launching a major attempt to overthrow President Gbagbo sometime soon.

                                  In a nutshell:

                                  1. ONUCI (UN force in Cote d'Ivoire) complains about allegations of
                                  violence and gross human rights violations by the Gbagbo government;

                                  2. The UN responds by a resolution condemning the government and
                                  severely restricting its ability to engage in hostilities;

                                  3. The Forces Nouvelles (rebels) launch a major attack on Abidjan,
                                  aided in this by the EU force.

                                  4. They will seize the palace, as it seems they will be waiting for
                                  President Gbagbo to travel to New York for the UN summit in September.

                                  That's what I heard.

                                  *Francois

                                  --- In gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com, "bobutne" <bobutne@...> wrote:
                                  >
                                  > "I've never understood what this force is doing. Are the elections
                                  > taking place in Gabon?" Christophe Mboso, one of Congo's 32
                                  > presidential candidates, said sarcastically during a televised debate
                                  > last week.
                                  >
                                  > Full article: http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L25562447.htm
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