Kenya + 3 more

East Africa: IRIN News Briefs, 14 January

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ZANZIBAR: Union "more important than ever" - President
Zanzibari President Dr Salmin Amour on Wednesday said the union with Tanzania was "more important now than it was 36 years ago", Tanzanian radio reported. The president who was addressing the nation to mark the 36th anniversary of the union, said the union represented "a model that should be emulated by African countries in order to protect the interests of citizens". He said the two governments of Tanzania and Zanzibar had agreed to work on the proposals made by the Judge Robert Kisanga Commission - which sought public views on the constitutions - to improve the union even further taking into account the views aired by citizens. He said his government would continue to respect the socialist policy of community villages and self-reliance. Amour also granted an amnesty to King Jamshin bin Khalif Ali who was overthrown in the 1964 Zanzibar revolution. He said Jamshin was free to return to Zanzibar as a private citizen, but not as king.

ZANZIBAR: Opposition trial to start on 19 January

Meanwhile, the treason trial of 18 members of the opposition Civic United Front (CUF), who have been in detention for more than two years, is due to begin on 19 January, the Tanzanian 'Guardian' newspaper reported. It quoted Zanizibar's Attorney-General [AG] Ali Mohamed Omar as saying preparations for the hearing were complete, and at least 60 witnesses were expected to testify. He said that because of the huge number of witnesses the case is likely to last until October this year. The 18 were arrested in November 1997.

Earlier, OAU Secretary-General Dr Salim Ahmed Salim told a Tanzanian television station that the delayed trial of the 18 had "tarnished the good image of the country". Justice delayed is justice denied," he said.

UGANDA: 72 Sudanese POWs freed

The Ugandan government has released 72 Sudanese prisoners of war (POWs) and officially handed them over to the ICRC. The ICRC head of delegation in Kampala, Georges Comninos confirmed to IRIN that the repatriation took place on Thursday morning. "We organised a flight from Entebbe directly to Khartoum," he said. "Everything went quite well, and we welcome this step since it took place in compliance and in accordance with the Third Geneva Convention," Comninos said. "We were able to talk freely with all of them to be sure they were willing to go back home," he added. He said they were checked by a medical doctor before repatriation. The 72, who had been interned in Uganda since 1997, had been registered after their capture and had received regular visits from ICRC delegates.

UGANDA: Minister visits Khartoum

Ugandan Minister of State for Regional Cooperation Amama Mbabazi arrived in Khartoum on Wednesday for talks with Sudanese officials on the course of bilateral relations. Sudanese radio said the minister's visit came within the context of the bilateral agreement between the two countries, signed last month.

A joint Sudanese-Ugandan ministerial committee meeting is due to be held in mid-January in Nairobi to discuss activating the terms of the agreement to restore relations to their normal course, the radio quoted Mbabazi as saying.

UGANDA: UNICEF appeals for over US $3 million

UNICEF on Tuesday launched an appeal for more than US $3 million to assist in water and sanitation, health and nutrition, and education and psycho-social support programmes in crisis-affected districts of north and west Uganda. In a statement, UNICEF said less than half the population had access to safe water and sanitation facilities. It said a survey of 90 primary schools in the area revealed that only two per cent of these schools had adequate latrine facilities. In insecure areas, trade, cultivation, schooling, investment, cultural activities, tax collection and community development were all hampered. In the past year, about 120,000 new displaced people had sought refuge in camps in the Ruwenzori mountains area. "Whether IDPs, host families or residents, the population in this area is amongst the poorest in Uganda," UNICEF said.

KENYA: Famine kitty tops about US $200,000

A famine relief kitty set by the 'Nation' group of newspapers to assist the arid Turkana area of northern Kenya has reached about US $200,000, attracting donations from individuals, companies, aid agencies and church organisations. It was set up following reports and pictures of starving people in the Turkana area, although government officials had maintained that the situation was not serious. The Programme Development Manager for the NGO ActionAid, Geoffrey Atieli, said this was a "worthy course" for the beneficiaries. "But this is a symptom of a situation that should never have arisen," he told IRIN on Friday. Although the response had been "very good", it would not solve the problems of the Turkana people, he said. "NGOs are being forced to do things they do not want to do because the days are gone when NGOs were welfare- oriented," he said. "Communities are supposed to do things for themselves but the infrastructure must be available."

KENYA: Nine people die of dysentery, 50 hospitalised

Nine people have died, while 50 others were admitted to hospital in a critical condition following an outbreak of dysentery in Tabaka division of Mandera district, northern Kenya, the 'Daily Nation' newspaper reported. The district medical officer, Dr Peter Mbugua, said eight of the dead were children under five. He blamed the outbreak on contaminated water.

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