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China given monopoly to exploit Gabon's untapped iron ore resources

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 of 16 , Jul 9, 2006
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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 5 of 16 , Jul 26, 2006
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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 6 of 16 , Jul 27, 2006
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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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