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  • Christine Chumbler
    Malawi: President And Predecessor Meet to Ease Political Tension UN Integrated Regional Information Networks November 29, 2004 Posted to the web November 29,
    Message 1 of 1046 , Nov 30, 2004
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      Malawi: President And Predecessor Meet to Ease Political Tension

      UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

      November 29, 2004
      Posted to the web November 29, 2004

      Lilongwe

      Talks are underway in Malawi aimed at easing tensions between President
      Bingu wa Mutharika and his predecessor, Bakili Muluzi.

      Analysts say one of the main reasons for the divisions in the party has
      been Mutharika's tough stance against graft, which has seen six UDF
      officials arrested on charges of corruption and fraud since he took
      office in May. They note that the UDF has effectively been split into
      two camps: one supportive of Mutharika's anti-corruption drive and the
      other loyal to Muluzi, who retains chairmanship of the party.

      But the talks, which began last week in the capital, Lilongwe, have
      reportedly already hit a snag after a demand from Mutharika to co-chair
      the UDF.

      UDF deputy publicity secretary Mary Kaphwereza-Banda refuted the
      claims, saying the talks had started well, but could not elaborate on
      the issues under discussion.

      "Once everything is through we will let you know - we will not hide
      anything. But what you have to know is that the two sides are in serious
      discussions," she told IRIN.

      However, one observer commented that Mutharika's request to co-chair
      the party would not work, and could possibly heighten tensions among
      ruling party members.

      "In fact, the two [Mutharika and Muluzi] could not co-chair the party -
      this will create more problems within the party. If anything, I would
      suggest that the party should call for a convention for new executive
      members to be elected and let them choose who should lead them," said
      Rafiq Hajat, executive director of the Institute for Policy
      Interaction.

      Boniface Dulani, a political science lecturer at the University of
      Malawi, said that while Mutharika's campaign against high-level graft
      had seriously irked senior UDF stalwarts, who have allegedly accused him
      of "biting the hand that feeds him", the battle in the UDF was about
      control of the party.

      "Muluzi's grip on the UDF has essentially diluted Mutharika's power and
      the new president is well aware of this. It is no secret that Muluzi
      commands great loyalty from the old guard and Mutharika is still
      battling to win support," Dulani said.

      He warned that the UDF would continue to fracture unless the two
      leaders "seriously" negotiated a deal outlining their specific roles in
      the party.

      The gravity of the ongoing political wrangle was exposed last week when
      UDF national executive member Dumbo Lemani claimed that a member of his
      party had rigged the 20 May presidential election in favour of
      Mutharika.

      Vice president Cassim Chilumpha dismissed the allegations, saying the
      president was legally and constitutionally elected.

      But analysts say Lemani's claims were an embarrassment to the party,
      especially when the election results are being challenged in court by
      the opposition.

      Mutharika and Muluzi have agreed to continue meeting until the issue is
      resolved.


      *****

      UK court freezes millions belonging to Chiluba

      Lusaka

      30 November 2004 13:45

      The London High Court has frozen 13 million pounds ($24-million) worth
      of assets held in Britain by former Zambian President Frederick Chiluba
      and four other government officials on trial in Lusaka for theft and
      corruption, the government said on Tuesday.

      The court order on November 24 was issued at the request of the Zambian
      Justice Minister and Attorney General George Kunda, said Mpanzi
      Sinyangwe, a spokesperson for the government's task force on
      corruption.

      It remains in effect until January 12, when the London High Court will
      hear arguments from representatives of the Zambian government and
      Chiluba.

      Sinyangwe did not provide details about the assets that were frozen.
      Chiluba and his lawyers declined to comment on the matter on Tuesday.

      Chiluba, Zambia's first democratically elected president, lead this
      impoverished southern African country for 10 years until he retired in
      January 2002.

      He has pleaded innocent with four other former government officials and
      two businessmen to 169 counts of corruption, abuse of power and theft
      totaling $43-million. He has also pleaded innocent to 65 counts of theft
      totaling about $3,5-million in a separate case.

      President Levy Mwanawasa, Chiluba's hand-picked successor, has pledged
      to fight corruption despite opposition from within his own party, still
      loyal to Chiluba. - Sapa-AP

      *****

      Mozambicans stick to civil war loyalties
      Justin Pearce
      BBC, Maputo


      Twelve years after the end of the civil war, Mozambicans will bid
      farewell to wartime leader Joaquim Chissano in presidential and
      parliamentary elections on 1 and 2 December.

      While some new parties have a chance to get into parliament for the
      first time, the vote is going to be dominated by the two civil war
      adversaries: the governing Frelimo party and the former rebel movement,
      Renamo.

      President Chissano is standing down in compliance with the two-term
      limit that the post-war constitution puts on the presidency.

      Frelimo's candidate is Armando Guebuza, who led Frelimo's negotiating
      team during the Rome peace talks that ended the war.

      Veteran Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama is making his third electoral bid
      for the presidency.

      Of the other six presidential candidates, the one considered to have
      the best chance is Raul Domingos, the former Renamo secretary general
      who is running for the presidency under the banner of his new Peace,
      Democracy and Development Party (PDD).


      Corruption and employment

      Perhaps surprisingly for a party that has been in power since 1975,
      Frelimo's campaign slogan is: "The force for change". It is emphasising
      the progress of recent years, and pledges to continue on the same path.


      Frelimo remains overwhelmingly popular in the south of the country,
      which is the region that has seen the most benefit from post-war
      investment. Even though most people in the south remain poor, mistrust
      of Renamo will ensure Frelimo an easy victory in this region.

      Tackling corruption has been high on most parties' campaign agenda,
      with the recent fourth anniversary of the death of journalist Carlos
      Cardoso drawing particular attention to the issue.

      Cardoso was gunned down in Maputo on 22 November 2000, while
      investigating the theft of millions of dollars during bank
      privatisations.

      Many questions remain unanswered about his death and about the
      corruption that he was investigating, and Cardoso has become something
      of a hero among politically conscious Mozambicans.

      For the poor, unemployment is still the first concern.

      Rapid economic growth, which reached 12% per annum during the 1990s,
      has created many jobs, but, say the trade unions, not enough to
      compensate for the 140,000 jobs lost during the transition from
      socialism to capitalism in the early 1990s.

      In the countryside, peasant farmers are most concerned about the value
      of their products, which has declined in real terms since the
      liberalisation of the market.

      The largely agricultural centre-north region of the country was
      particularly badly hit by cutbacks in the cotton and cashew nut
      industries. It is here that Renamo has its best chance of winning votes,
      though wartime memories of the rebel movement remain bitter, and many
      voters feel that no party truly represents their interests.

      Raul Domingos' Renamo background - plus the fact that he is considered
      a more charismatic figure than Mr Dhlakama - might allow PDD to take
      away some of the traditional Renamo vote.

      His core support will be in his home area, the central Zambezi valley,
      and of the six smaller parties contesting the parliamentary poll, PDD is
      the most likely to break through the 5% barrier needed to send a
      representative to the national assembly.

      Accusations

      The campaign has been calmer than in recent years, though not without
      some violent incidents.

      "Fewer than 10 people" have died and "fewer than 50" have been injured
      during the course of campaigning, according to Felipe Mandlate,
      spokesman for the National Electoral Commission.

      Each of the main parties has accused the others of harassment and/or
      intimidation, but election monitors, both Mozambican and foreign, say
      they cannot see any systematic pattern of abuse.

      The main point of contention between the monitors and the National
      Elections Commission (CNE), which manages the poll, has been the
      question of access to the counting process.

      Mozambique's vote tallying system has been praised as transparent - up
      to a point. Representatives of political parties, local NGOs and foreign
      observer missions are allowed to scrutinise every stage of the counting
      process to the delivery of the local results to the provincial counting
      centres.

      The observers are still worried that there may be potential for
      manipulation in the tallying that is done at provincial and national
      level, and when the CNE makes its judgement on those ballot papers where
      the mark made by the voter is ambiguous, and on the individual polling
      station results sheets which might contain mathematical errors.

      In the 1999 election, the CNE excluded nearly 7% of polling stations
      from the presidential count, and reconsidered 500,000 doubtful ballot
      papers.

      Monitors fear that in the event of a close poll, arbitration on this
      scale by the Frelimo-dominated CNE could affect the final result.

      Former US President Jimmy Carter and former Benin President Nicefore
      Soglo are leading a delegation of observers from the Atlanta-based
      Carter Center, and the European Union - which contributed 13 million
      euros ($17m) to election funds - also has a high-profile delegation in
      the country.

      A coalition called the Electoral Observatory will co-ordinate
      monitoring by Mozambican civil society groups, and intends to carry out
      a parallel vote count at 791 of the 13,000 voting stations.
    • Christine Chumbler
      ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17 The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by
      Message 1046 of 1046 , May 22 8:06 AM
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        ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract

        by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17

        The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by government to look for another contractor instead of China Hunan Construction to construct of the long awaited Karonga/Chitipa road.

        China Hunan from Mainland China won the bid which was approved by the ADB but government later wanted to award the contract to a Portuguese firm, Mota Engil, the second lowest bidder, claiming China Hunan's bid was unrealistically low and that the company had very little experience in Africa.

        Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe confirmed on Sunday the ADB rejected the proposal at a meeting held between the bank and Malawi government in Tunisia last week.

        The Malawi government wanted the Tunisia meeting to authorise it to get another contractor for the road, said Gondwe.

        "They did not allow us to look for another contractor because of their regulations. But we are about to get another alternative for Karonga/Chitipa and I would be surprised if it does not start before end June," said Gondwe.

        The minister explained that the bank insisted that regardless of the unrealistic cost estimates, China Hunan should be allowed to go ahead with the construction.

        But Gondwe could not give further details about the alternatives, arguing there are still a few loose ends to tighten up before disclosing it.

        The problem with China Hunan, according to Gondwe, is that it would require more money to meet the total cost of the project.

        This paper reported last week that government met Taiwanese representatives where they offered to fund the road if the ADB continued to reject its favoured contractor, Mota Engil.

        Gondwe could neither confirm nor deny the reports on the Taiwanese offer, saying government was looking at a number of ways to handle the issue.

        According to Gondwe, the China Hunan's bid was 24 percent lower than the consulting engineers' estimates of K7.9 billion and 34 percent below the second lowest bidder.

        President Bingu wa Mutharika laid a foundation stone for the construction of the road this year ahead of a crucial byelection in Chitipa in December last year.

        The President's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the Chitipa Wenya constituency by-election that fell vacant following the collapse and subsequent death of Speaker of Parliament Rodwell Munyenyembe who belonged to the UDF.

        Last week, police and the District Commissioner (DC) for Chitipa stopped a rally that was aimed at soliciting people's views about development projects in the district.

        The meeting, which was reportedly organised by Concerned Citizens of Chitipa, was among other things also supposed to tackle the controversial Karonga/Chitipa road.

        The project failed to start off in 2000 when a contract for an initial loan of US$17 million and US$15 million from the Taiwanese government was signed, with some quarters claiming the Bakili Muluzi administration diverted the money to another road.

        *****

        Chihana operated on

        by Edwin Nyirongo, 22 May 2006 - 06:32:31

        Alliance for Democracy (Aford) president Chakufwa Chihana, who is in South Africa receiving treatment, had a brain operation on Friday at Garden City Clinic, family and party officials confirmed on Sunday.

        Aford national chairman Chipimpha Mughogho said he was told by the family members that Chihana had a successful operation on Friday and was put in an intensive care unit.

        Mughogho said Chihana, who initially complained of headache, was found with a brain tumour which South African doctors removed.

        Mzimba West MP Loveness Gondwe said Aford boss condition was stable.

        "Hon. Chihana had a major operation and after that he was put in the intensive care unit but his condition is stable. I do not know where he was operated on but it had something to do with the skull," she said.

        Deputy Information Minister John Bande referred the matter to the Health Minister Hetherwick Ntaba who was reported to be in Geneva, Switzerland.

        Aford publicity secretary Norman Nyirenda said when Chihana's situation got worse, the family alerted the Office of the President and Cabinet who took him to Mwaiwathu Private Hospital.

        "The doctors at Mwaiwathu advised that he should be sent to South Africa and they even identified the doctor for him," he said.

        He said the costs are being met by the Malawi government, contradicting his earlier statement that his boss covered the cost.

        Mughogho is now in charge of the party.

        Gondwe will be a busy person when Parliament starts meeting on June 6 as she is the only Aford MP remaining.

        *****

        Pillane proposes presidential age limit

        by Emmanuel Muwamba , 22 May 2006 - 06:34:13

        A member of the DPP National Governing Council Abdul Pillane on Saturday urged members of political parties and the civil society to put an upper age limit in the Constitution for presidential candidates.

        Pillane was addressing members of political parties and civil society in Liwonde during a two-day follow up workshop to the National Conference on the Review of Constitution held in March in Lilongwe.

        "My view is that (an upper) age limit should be at 75. We have to give a chance to younger people to lead because in circumstance, when you age you become forgetful especially when sickly," said Pillane. "Overall, chances should be given to young people."

        But UDF secretary general Kennedy Makwangwala, whose party members agitated for the age limit during presentations, played the issue down.

        "I feel there is no logic to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates. If someone is 90 or 80 I don't know how that can influence the electorate not to vote for someone who is younger, I don't see any logic behind that," said Makwangwala.

        MCP participants at the workshop also vehemently objected to the proposal.

        MCP vice president Nicholas Dausi in an interview said: "There is no constitution in Africa which stipulates an upper age limit. So it would be strange in Malawi to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates."

        MDP President Kamlepo Kalua also opposed the need to have an upper age limit.

        "If we have personalities in mind that we want to discriminate against then it is unfortunate. The constitution we want to build is a guiding document for future generations and it should not bar certain individuals on the basis of grudges," he said.

        The Malawi Law Constitution Issues Paper of March 2006 says several submissions that were received put an upper presidential age limit in the Constitution.

        "It is argued that it is common sense that mental knowledge faculties tend to fail with age. As regards what the actual age limit should be the submissions are far from being agreed. The range is from 60 years to 80 years," read submissions in the Issues Paper.

        On whether MPs should double as ministers, Kalua said this should be the case.

        Makwangwala also said it is not right for MPs to serve as ministers because the Legislature, another arm of government, is reduced while the Executive branch is beefed up from another arm of government.

        "There is no separation of powers when MPs double as ministers," said Makwangwala.

        But Pillane said there is no problem for MPs to work as ministers as well, saying MPs are elected by the President.

        "One can serve both posts. There have been no problems before for people to double," said Pillane.

        The Centre for Multiparty Democracy funded the workshop through the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy.

        The objective was to come up with a collective position on the Issues Paper which will be presented to the Special Law Commission that will be constituted soon.

        *****

        Mussa hails new driving licence

        by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:58:52

        Transport and Public Works Minister Henry Mussa last week said the design of the Malawi-Sadc driving licence would guard against forgery and ensure that only skilled and legitimate drivers of particular vehicles are licensed.

        Mussa was speaking at the official launch of the licences in Lilongwe where he announced that traffic police would from July enforce speed limits and sober driving using Breathalysers which his ministry is in the process of procuring.

        The minister said financial constraints are the reason for the delay in procuring the equipment but assured that by July they would be available.

        "With the new equipment, the days of those who believe in the thrill of drink and driving are numbered," warned Mussa.

        Mussa added that with the new licence, government is optimistic that the country's roads would be safe.

        Acting Director of Road Traffic James Chirwa said the features that distinguish the new from the old licences are the Malawi national flag and a ghost image of the driver's photograph, among others.

        Those with old licences, according to Chirwa, are expected to get the new ones after the expiry of the former.

        *****

        UDF demands investigation on Kasambara

        by Rabecca Theu, 22 May 2006 - 06:30:46

        The United Democratic Front (UDF) has asked government to investigate Ralph Kasambara on allegations of abuse of office while he was attorney general.

        UDF publicity secretary Sam Mpasu told the press Sunday that the party is neither amused or saddened by the removal of the former AG but asked government to institute investigations on Kasambara.

        "Beyond the removal of the Attorney General, we now urge President Mutharika to institute investigation against Mr Kasambara into allegations that have made rounds in the public domain during the recent past. These include: Mrs Helen Singh and SS Rent-a-Car; SGS and ITS saga; ...........the use of Malawi Police Service in the arrest of three Chronicle journalists and the handling of Mrs Rubina Kawonga," said Mpasu.

        Mpasu also accused Kasambara of awarding government contracts to Lawson and Company where he was a senior partner.

        "We urge government to thoroughly investigate the former AG. We also ask government to cautiously select the new AG ," said Mpasu, who was accompanied by the party's Secretary General Kennedy Makwangwala, leader of the party in Parliament George Mtafu, chief whip Leonard Mangulama and a member of the executive Hophmally Makande.

        But Minister of Information Patricia Kaliati said UDF should give offer its advice to the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB).

        "They should advise bodies like the Anti-Corruption Bureau to conduct the investigations and why are they saying this now? Is it because Kasambara has been fired? This is not a personal issue. If they have other pressing issues they should just say so. These arguments should have come up earlier on when the said cases were happening," she said.

        Kasambara asked UDF to proceed with the mission of urging government to investigate him.

        "They can do their job. Everyone has a right to lobby for anything they want in the country. UDF has a right to do that, let them go ahead," he said.

        Kasambara was relieved of his duties as AG by the President last week. Government has not given reasons behind the removal.

        *****

        Zambia: Malawians Grab Zambian Land

        The Times of Zambia (Ndola)

        May 18, 2006

        Posted to the web May 19, 2006

        Andrew Lungu

         

        MALAWIANS who have encroached on both the 'no-man's' and part of the Zambian land at the Mwami border in Eastern Province have plucked out some beacons that were used in the demarcation of the border.

        The Malawians are now using the beacons as stools in their newly-established villages on Zambian land.

        Eastern Province Minister, Boniface Nkhata, said in Chipata yesterday that if the situation was not controlled urgently, Zambia would lose huge tracts of land to Malawians migrating into Zambian in large numbers.

        A check at the Zambia-Malawi border showed a number of beacons had been vandalised and new structures constructed on the 'no man's' land and a large portion of Zambian land.

        Mr Nkhata said the trend extended to many parts of the province bordering the two countries.

        "A large portion of Zambian land has been taken up by the Malawians starting from the Chama boundary up to the Mwami border.

        "The weighbridge at the Mwami border was initially in Zambia from the time both countries gained independence from Britain, but now the bridge is on Malawian soil," Mr Nkhata said.

        The minister, who is former Chama District Commissioner, said there was similar encroachment in Lundazi and Chama districts where Zambia shares a boundary with Malawi.

        He said a Malawian farmer identified as Mr Mfune had cultivated 71.5 hectares on Zambian land and employed about 265 Malawian workers.

        "Khombe Farm in Chama district in Kanyerere's area, along the Muyombe road which leads to Northern Province where this Malawian farmer has cultivated a vast land is on the Zambian territory," he said.

        Workers on the farm admitted that they were farming on Zambian soil but could not go back to Malawi because the land in that country was inadequate for cultivation.

        Mr Nkhata appealed to the ministry of Lands to urgently release money for the demarcation of the Zambia-Malawi border to avoid further land disputes between the two countries.

        Meanwhile, the Immigration Department in Livingstone has arrested a couple and another man, all Zimbabweans, for working in Zambia without permits.

        They were arrested at Gwembe village yesterday where they worked for Into Africa, a tour operating company that provides bush dinners and breakfast.

        According to the Immigration Department in Livingstone, the trio entered Zambia through the Victoria Falls border as visitors but decided to work for the company illegally.

        Last week, immigration officers arrested 10 Zimbabwean traders and six Ethiopians for entering and staying in Zambia illegally.

        The Zimbabwean traders were warned and cautioned and later released.

        The Ethiopians were arrested at Konje Guest House when they ran out of money to proceed to Botswana.

         

        *****

        Zim unions, MDC still plan anti-govt protests

        Harare, Zimbabwe

        22 May 2006 11:51

        Zimbabwe's biggest labour federation on Saturday threatened to call massive demonstrations against the government over poor salaries and worsening living conditions for workers in the country.

        The threats are ratcheting up pressure against President Robert Mugabe's government after similar threats by the biggest opposition party in the country, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), about two months ago.

        Speaking at the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) conference on Saturday, the labour body's president, Lovemore Matombo, said the powerful union wants the government to award workers salaries that match the country's ever-rising inflation.

        "I can assure you we will stage massive demonstrations to force them [employers] to award workers minimum salaries that tally with the poverty datum line," said Matombo.

        Matombo did not say when exactly the ZCTU would order workers to strike.

        Opposition protests

        Meanwhile, the MDC on Sunday said it will push ahead with plans for anti-government protests, saying victory in a key by-election at the weekend was a "sign the electorate supported its policies", including democratic mass resistance.

        A spokesperson of the main faction of the splintered MDC, Nelson Chamisa, said victory over Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF and a rival MDC faction in a Saturday by-election in Harare's Budiriro constituency is a sign Zimbabweans still have confidence in party leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his policies.

        Tsvangirai, the founding leader of the MDC, heads the main rump of the opposition party whose candidate, Emmanuel Chisvuure, polled 7 949 votes to win the Budiriro House of Assembly seat.

        Gabriel Chaibva of the other faction of the MDC, led by prominent academic Arthur Mutambara, garnered 504 votes while Zanu-PF's Jeremiah Bvirindi polled 3 961 votes.

        "This election showed that the electorate still has confidence in the MDC [Tsvangirai-led] leadership and its policies," Chamisa told independent news service ZimOnline.

        He added: "We will now move to consolidate our position * we still believe in mass protests. Until we have attained our goals we see no reason why we should abandon [plans for protests]."

        Tsvangirai has threatened to call mass protests this winter against Mugabe and his government. He says the mass protests, whose date he is still to name, are meant to force Mugabe to relinquish power to a government of national unity to be tasked to write a new and democratic Constitution that would ensure free and fair elections held under international supervision.

        Mugabe and his government, who had hoped for victory in Budiriro to show they were recapturing urban support from a splintered MDC, have not taken idly the opposition's threats to call mass protests, with the veteran president warning Tsvangirai he would be "dicing with death" if he ever attempted to instigate a Ukraine-style popular revolt in Zimbabwe.

        Crackdown

        In a fresh crackdown against dissension, the police last week arrested several church and civic leaders for organising public prayers and marches to mark last year's controversial home-demolition exercise by the government.

        The police also banned the marches and prayers, fearing they could easily turn into mass protests against Mugabe and his government.

        However, the marches went ahead in the second-largest city of Bulawayo after organisers had obtained a court order barring the police from stopping the march.

        Political analysts say although Zimbabweans have largely been cowed by Mugabe's tactics of routinely deploying riot police and the military to crush street protests, worsening hunger and poverty are fanning public anger that Tsvangirai -- with proper planning and organisation -- could easily manipulate.

        Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe six-year old economic crisis that has seen inflation breaching the 1 000% barrier. Last year, the World Bank said Zimbabwe's economic crisis was unprecedented for a country not at war.

        The MDC and major Western governments blame Mugabe for wrecking the country's economy, which was one of the strongest in Africa at independence from Britain 26 years ago.

        Mugabe denies the charge blaming the crisis on sabotage by Britain and her allies after he seized white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks six years ago.

        The Harare authorities recently hiked salaries for civil servants, with the lowest-paid soldier now earning about Z$27-million while the lowest-paid school teacher now takes home about Z$33-million.

        But the salaries are still way below the poverty datum line, which the government's Consumer Council of Zimbabwe says now stands at a staggering Z$42-million a month for an average family of six.

        The Zimbabwe government often accuses the ZCTU, a strong ally of the MDC, of pushing a political agenda to remove Mugabe from power.

        Meanwhile, Matombo and Lucia Matibenga retained their posts as president and first vice-president respectively during the ZCTU congress that ended on Saturday. -- ZimOnline

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