Friday, July 31, 2009

Corazon Aquin, the "PEOPLE POWER" icon of Phillipines dead at 76years.

Ex-Philippines leader Corazon Aquino dies at 76

MANILA, Philippines – Former President Corazon Aquino, who swept away a dictator with a "people power" revolt and then sustained democracy by fighting off seven coup attempts in six years, died on Saturday, her son said. She was 76.
The uprising she led in 1986 ended the repressive 20-year regime of Ferdinand Marcos and inspired nonviolent protests across the globe, including those that ended Communist rule in eastern Europe.
But she struggled in office to meet high public expectations. Her land redistribution program fell short of ending economic domination by the landed elite, including her own family. Her leadership, especially in social and economic reform, was often indecisive, leaving many of her closest allies disillusioned by the end of her term.
Still, the bespectacled, smiling woman in her trademark yellow dress remained beloved in the Philippines, where she was affectionately referred to as "Tita (Auntie) Cory."
"She was headstrong and single-minded in one goal, and that was to remove all vestiges of an entrenched dictatorship," Raul C. Pangalangan, former dean of the Law School at the University of the Philippines, said in 2009. "We all owe her in a big way."
Her son, Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, said his mother died at 3:18 a.m. Saturday (1918 GMT Friday).
Aquino was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer last year and confined to a Manila hospital for more than a month. Her son said the cancer had spread to other organs and she was too weak to continue her chemotherapy.
Aquino's unlikely rise began in 1983 when her husband, opposition leader Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., was assassinated on the tarmac of Manila's international airport as he returned from exile in the United States to challenge Marcos, his longtime adversary.
The killing enraged many Filipinos and unleashed a broad-based opposition movement that thrust Aquino into the role of national leader.
"I don't know anything about the presidency," she declared in 1985, a year before she agreed to run against Marcos, uniting the fractious opposition, the business community, and later the armed forces to drive the dictator out.
Maria Corazon Cojuangco was born on Jan. 25, 1933, into a wealthy, politically powerful family in Paniqui, about 75 miles (120 kilometers) north of Manila.
She attended private school in Manila and earned a degree in French from the College of Mount St. Vincent in New York. In 1954 she married Ninoy Aquino, the fiercely ambitious scion of another political family. He rose from provincial governor to senator and finally opposition leader.
Marcos, elected president in 1965, declared martial law in 1972 to avoid term limits. He abolished the Congress and jailed Aquino's husband and thousands of opponents, journalists and activists without charges. Aquino became her husband's political stand-in, confidant, message carrier and spokeswoman.
A military tribunal sentenced her husband to death for alleged links to communist rebels but, under pressure from U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Marcos allowed him to leave in May 1980 for heart surgery in the U.S.
It was the start of a three-year exile. With her husband at Harvard University holding court with fellow exiles, academics, journalists and visitors from Manila, Aquino was the quiet homemaker, raising their five children and serving tea. Away from the hurly-burly of Philippine politics, she described the period as the best of their marriage.
The halcyon days ended when her husband decided to return to regroup the opposition. While she and the children remained in Boston, he flew to Manila, where he was shot as he descended the stairs from the plane.
The government blamed a suspected communist rebel, but subsequent investigations pointed to a soldier who was escorting him from the plane on Aug. 21, 1983.
Aquino heard of the assassination in a phone call from a Japanese journalist. She recalled gathering the children and, as a deeply religious woman, praying for strength.
"During Ninoy's incarceration and before my presidency, I used to ask why it had always to be us to make the sacrifice," she said in a 2007 interview with The Philippine Star newspaper. "And then, when Ninoy died, I would say, 'Why does it have to be me now?' It seemed like we were always the sacrificial lamb."
She returned to the Philippines three days later. One week after that, she led the largest funeral procession Manila had seen. Crowd estimates ranged as high as 2 million.
With public opposition mounting against Marcos, he stunned the nation in November 1985 by calling a snap election in a bid to shore up his mandate. The opposition, including then Manila Archbishop Cardinal Jaime L. Sin, urged Aquino to run.
After a fierce campaign, the vote was held on Feb. 7, 1986. The National Assembly declared Marcos the winner, but journalists, foreign observers and church leaders alleged massive fraud.
With the result in dispute, a group of military officers mutinied against Marcos on Feb. 22 and holed up with a small force in a military camp in Manila.
Over the following three days, hundreds of thousands of Filipinos responded to a call by the Roman Catholic Church to jam the broad highway in front of the camp to prevent an attack by Marcos forces.
On the third day, against the advice of her security detail, Aquino appeared at the rally alongside the mutineers, led by Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Lt. Gen. Fidel Ramos, the military vice chief of staff and Marcos' cousin.
From a makeshift platform, she declared: "For the first time in the history of the world, a civilian population has been called to defend the military."
The military chiefs pledged their loyalty to Aquino and charged that Marcos had won the election by fraud.
U.S. President Ronald Reagan, a longtime supporter of Marcos, called on him to resign. "Attempts to prolong the life of the present regime by violence are futile," the White House said. American officials offered to fly Marcos out of the Philippines.
On Feb. 25, Marcos and his family went to the U.S.-run Clark Air Base outside Manila and flew to Hawaii, where he died three years later.
The same day, Aquino was sworn in as the Philippines' first female leader.
Over time, the euphoria fizzled as the public became impatient and Aquino more defensive as she struggled to navigate treacherous political waters and build alliances to push her agenda.
"People used to compare me to the ideal president, but he doesn't exist and never existed. He has never lived," she said in the 2007 Philippine Star interview.
The right attacked her for making overtures to communist rebels and the left, for protecting the interests of wealthy landowners.
Aquino signed an agrarian reform bill that virtually exempted large plantations like her family's sugar plantation from being distributed to landless farmers.
When farmers protested outside the Malacanang Presidential Palace on Jan. 22, 1987, troops opened fire, killing 13 and wounding 100.
The bloodshed scuttled talks with communist rebels, who had galvanized opposition to Marcos but weren't satisfied with Aquino either.
As recently as 2004, at least seven workers were killed in clashes with police and soldiers at the family's plantation, Hacienda Luisita, over its refusal to distribute its land.
Aquino also attempted to negotiate with Muslim separatists in the southern Philippines, but made little progress.
Behind the public image of the frail, vulnerable widow, Aquino was an iron-willed woman who dismissed criticism as the carping of jealous rivals. She knew she had to act tough to earn respect in the Philippines' macho culture.
"When I am just with a few close friends, I tell them, 'OK, you don't like me? Look at the alternatives,' and that shuts them up," she told America's NBC television in a 1987 interview.
Her term was punctuated by repeated coup attempts — most staged by the same clique of officers who had risen up against Marcos and felt they had been denied their fair share of power. The most serious attempt came in December 1989 when only a flyover by U.S. jets prevented mutinous troops from toppling her.
Leery of damaging relations with the United States, Aquino tried in vain to block a historic Senate vote to force the U.S. out of its two major bases in the Philippines.
In the end, the U.S. Air Force pulled out of Clark Air Base in 1991 after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo forced its evacuation and left it heavily damaged. The last American vessel left Subic Bay Naval Base in November 1992.
After stepping down in 1992, Aquino remained active in social and political causes.
Until diagnosed with colon cancer in March 2008, she joined rallies calling for the resignation of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo over allegations of vote-rigging and corruption.
She kept her distance from another famous widow, flamboyant former first lady Imelda Marcos, who was allowed to return to the Philippines in 1991.
Marcos has called Aquino a usurper and dictator, though she later led prayers for Aquino in July 2009 when the latter was hospitalized. The two never made peace.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Ugandan Cat Fight: Govt, Mengo fight again: What next?

Robert Mwanje & Al-Mahd Ssenkabirwa

Kampala

While appearing on live television talk show on WBS TV on July 12, President Museveni said he executed the 1981-86 Bush War without the support of Mengo - the seat of Buganda Kingdom - but with the people of Buganda. He recounted his meeting with now Kabaka Ronald Mutebi when he still lived in London as a crown prince who later toured liberated areas just towards 1986 before Kampala fell to bolster support of his subjects to the cause.

Since then, there has been a roller coaster of events that culminated in a 12-point declaration by the kingdom’s cabinet on Monday that asked government to consider building a new administrative capital city, which to many, echoed 1966 when a similar meeting ordered the then central government of Milton Obote to relocate to Entebbe and leave Kampala. The incident forced President Obote to send troops to the main palace at Lubiri that forced Kabaka Mutesa to flee into exile. Mutesa was at the time the official President while Obote wielded executive powers as Prime Minister.

Inside Politics explores the journey moved so far.
The May 24, 1966 attack on Lubiri by the Uganda Army quickly led to the subsequent abolition of monarchies.
When the NRM captured power in 1986, the Buganda Kingdom which had almost faded from the national map appeared to have been reborn – something that was realised in 1993 with the coronation of the then prince Ronald Mutebi II. But despite the early days when the two institutions [central government and Buganda Kingdom] needed each other, they seem to be at the divorcing stage today.

The once stable relationship has kept deteriorating by the day with the major concerns being central government’s failure to fulfill its pledges of granting a federal system of governance to Buganda, return the Kingdom’s property confiscated after the 1966 Crisis and return of the 9,000 sq miles of land to Mengo. The kingdom has since the restoration of Kabakaship demanded the above but central government has been reluctant - creating a gap between them. From the 1998 Land Act to the current proposed land reforms and a number of other policies, the duo doesn’t tow the same line.

Former Buganda Katikkiro (premier) who is also an advisor to the Kabaka Daniel Muliika believes that Buganda will only attain its ebyaffe (federo and property) if it convinces other regions to support the federal system of governance .
“My position has always been that we ignore the political gimmicks of this government and embark on convincing our colleagues in other regions to demand federo. Nothing will never come out of these said talks. It is these people (from other regions) who can allow or refuse federo not Museveni or any other person in this government ,” Muliika said on Friday.

President Museveni has since last year tried to seek audience with the Kabaka through various correspondences with the kingdom officials. But Mengo, the seat of the kingdom, gave conditions including suspension of the Land Amendments Bill (2008) and granting Buganda the much cherished federal status.

Unwilling to meet the Kabaka on Mengo’s terms, Mr Museveni was angry and temporarily shelved the idea. Considering the direction it is taking, the Mengo-government conflict will likely affect other political battles the ruling NRM is fighting and looks set to influence politics ominously as the clock ticks away to the next election. Right now it looks far from over.

A love-hate relationship
July 31, 1993: Prince Ronald Mutebi is installed as Kabaka of Buganda at a function held by President Museveni at Nagalabi-Budo in Wakiso District. This was 27 years ago after the abolition of monarchies. Agitation for the return of kingdom property confiscated by Obote’s government in 1966 started.

February 2, 1998: Buganda Kingdom and opposition legislators start campaign to oppose the proposed Land Bill 1998.
March 2, 1998: Government hurriedly publishes the Land Bill 1998 against Buganda wish.
May 25, 1998: Buganda Lukiiko unanimously rejects the Land Bill 1998 and vows to fight it saying it was meant to deprive Baganda of their land.
July 1, 1998: Parliament passes the Land Bill into an Act [1998 Land Act].
July 10, 1998: Buganda Kingdom calls off Kabaka Mutebi’s fifth coronation anniversary to protest the passing of the Land Bill 1998.
July 12, 1998: Then Buganda Katikkiro (premier) Joseph Ssemwogerere announces a period of mourning and accuses President Museveni of forgetting the significant role Buganda played in bringing him to power.
January 25, 2001: Kabaka sacks some of his ministers believed to support Dr Kizza Besigye.
December 10, 2004: Mwogeza Butamanya was installed as Buruuli traditional leader and Mr Museveni promises him an official car which has not been delivered to date.
March, 25, 2005: Negotiations between government and Mengo to secure the return of kingdom property and grant Federal government starts.
May 18, 2005: Government instead suggests the creation of regional tier system of governance amid resistance from Buganda.
June 20, 2005: Lukiiko partly agrees to regional tier but later shows it out.
April 11, 2006: Police deploys heavily at Nakasongola District headquarters following threats from some Baruuli to block Kabaka Mutebi from presiding over a Bika bya Baganda Football tournament.
April 15, 2007: Mengo opposes government’s move to giveaway Mabira Forest to Mehta family and Kabaka offers his land in Kyaggwe (Mukono) to save the forest.
May 20, 2007: Buganda Lukiiko opposes direct federal (Federo) talks between Museveni and Kabaka.
On May 15, 2007: Lands Minister Omara Atubo says Buganda will not repossess her 9,000 square miles unless the Constitution and the Land Act are amended.
April 20, 2007: Leaders from the 18 Buganda counties petition President Museveni to drop the giving away of Mabira Forest.
April 20, 2007: Mengo vows to fight the application of DDT by government to fight mosquitoes saying the chemical causes detrimental effects on humans.
July 2, 2007: Lukiiko (parliament) resolves to fight the resettlement of Balaalo in Kyankwazi in Kiboga District.
October 7, 2007: The Lukiiko rejects the proposed land law reforms saying they were designed to deprive the Kabaka and landlords of their rights over land.
November 2, 2007: Kabaka sets up a 14-member Central Civic Education Committee (CCEC) to fight the government land law reforms.
December 11, 2007: Mengo protests reports of un-mapping Buganda from national map.
December 16, 2007: Prof.Nsibambi refutes reports of un-mapping Buganda from the map.
December 19, 2007: The CCEC intensifies its campaign against land reforms across the kingdom.
December, 22, 2007: Mr Museveni writes an angry letter to Kabaka expressing his concern over what he described as growing “intrigue, bad faith and seditious tendencies” at Mengo.
December 29, 2007: Mengo replies Museveni’s letter distancing herself from partisan politics and generating hatred against government.
- Police summons three kingdom officials including research minister David Mpanga, Daudi Zziwa and Meddie Nsereko (both CBS radio presenters) over allegations of inciting violence and promoting hatred against the government.
December 31, 2007: Kabaka reshuffles cabinet and brings new and brilliant youthful lawyers, indicating a shift from conservative, well-connected Baganda who dominated most positions at Mengo in the 1990s.
February 5, 2008: Mengo threatens to sue government over the controversial land reforms and delayed return of kingdom’s property.
March 18, 2008: Museveni says that the kingdoms of Buganda, Bunyoro and Tooro are Luos, drawing criticism from the kingdoms particularly Buganda.
April 10, 2008: Kabaka asks all district bosses in Buganda to return kingdom property still under their custody with relevant documents and title deeds.
April 24, 2008: Mengo expresses fears about Kabaka’s life following publication of cartoons and pictures in Nation Builder magazine showing him inside a tortoise grenade.
July 15, 2008: Lukiiko rejects Museveni’s idea of encouraging Bibanja holders to form associations.

July ,20,2009: Buganda Lukiiko passes resolutions among others; calling for the relocation of Kampala City from Kampala to other areas in outside Buganda and also accused government of engaging in a hate campaign against the Kabaka. Mengo believe that government influenced Sunday Vision ,a sister paper of New Vision , to publish a story that Kabaka had mortgaged the land title of the official seat of Buganda Kingdom – Bulange.
July 23, 2009: Kabaka sues New Vision for publishing a malicious story about him.
-Government refuses reports that it is involved in a hate campaign against the kingdom.

Genesis of Buganda’s 1966 Crisis:
A political crisis arose in Uganda in the early 1966. The events culminated in the Uganda Army attacking the palace of the king of Buganda, the late Kabaka Fredrick Walugembe Muteesa II on May 24th.
The army was intent on capturing and killing King Freddie. After a day long battle in which the army deployed tanks and heavy artillery, it became evident that the Kabaka and his defenders with their small arms could not hold the palace against the attacking force.
Fortunately, the Kabaka was able to escape the capture and with the help of several loyal supporters was able to flee into exile. For the first time in Uganda’s short history, the state had deliberately and systematically turned its guns on its own people. This attempt to destroy the country’s most powerful kingdom and the culture of its people was truly significant in the country’s history.

Why the attack?
Prior to the 1962 elections, the main political parties in pre-independence Uganda were the Democratic Party (DP) and the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC). The UPC itself was born of a coalition of smaller parties that came together under the leadership of Apollo Milton Obote. The Kabaka Yekka (KY) party was hurriedly formed shortly before the elections mainly as a political movement to advance the interests of the kingdom in the emerging new nation of Uganda. A political alliance was formed between UPC and KY at the time of the 1962 elections to defeat DP. After the elections, UPC and KY formed a coalition government and Obote, head of UPC became the Prime Minister. A year later, Obote nominated the Kabaka of Buganda to serve in the largely ceremonial position of President of Uganda and parliament concurred.
“This political marriage of convenience quickly soured however in 1964 when Obote championed a parliamentary bill providing for a referendum in the Buganda counties of Buyaga and Bugangaizi, which led to those counties seceding from Buganda and reverting to Bunyoro, The relationship between UPC and KY soured.

How events unfolded;
1966: Feb 22nd suspension of the 1962 constitution,
1966: Feb 26th promotion and appointment of Colonel Idi Amin to the rank of Major General, and to be the commander of the army,
1966: Mar 3rd humiliating dismissal of Kabaka Freddie as President of Uganda, including the Vice President; the usurpation of power of President by Dr. Obote,
1966: Apr 15th formal overthrow of the 1962, consequently the promulgation of a pigeon hole constitution also called ‘revolutionary constitution’,
1966: May 19th historical Lukiiko resolution demanding central government to leave Buganda within 5 days of notice,
1966: May 24th attack on Lubiri that led to exiling of Kabaka Freddie

1966: Jun 1st mysterious (?) death of Daudi Ochieng after admission in Mulago Hospital, and 1967 Sep promulgation of the Republican Constitution.

Obote’s fear that his support in central region was neutralized by his orders to security forces to react with maximum force to any perceived sign of opposition. This new policy was starkly demonstrated on November 10, 1964 following a minor domestic scuffle at Nakulabye on the outskirts of Kampala. Thinking it was an anti-government riot, the police went on a rampage that covered a radius of up to three miles from the scene of the original incident. Six people were shot dead by police including two school children inside their home. Though government condemned the incident, the officer in charge of the operation was later promoted to regional commander for the Eastern region.

This prompted divisions within the ruling UPC, Obote’s position as head of the UPC had become tenuous and it was apparent that he would face a formidable challenge at the party’s Delegates’ Conference due to be held before the next national elections in 1967. Obote was anxious to avert any opposition.

He then suspended the constitution and all executive powers. On February 26, Obote appointed Amin as his army commander.
On March 3, Obote dismissed the President and Vice- President and assumed the functions of the presidency. On April 15, the constitution was abrogated formally during a parliamentary session and a ‘Revolutionary’ constitution was adopted by MPs [‘pigeon-hole’ constitution].

On May 24th, under the command of Col. Amin, the Uganda Army staged a bloody attack on the palace of the Kabaka of Buganda on Obote’s orders ostensibly to forestall a coup. Security forces were deployed in Kampala and other areas of Buganda. The undemocratic turn of events among others prompted the Buganda Lukiiko to make a historical resolution demanding central government to quit Buganda land within 5 days of notice.

Friday, July 24, 2009

UNAA EKIMEEZA Chicago 09

On Sept 4TH 2009 the EKIMEEZA LOBBY LIVE show shall be getting off the hinges, at the UNAA Convention in Chicago, USA. The show shall be dubbed "EKIMEEZA Chicago 09" under the theme, The Culture of Elections in Uganda. This symposium shall be debating tactics of FORMULATING STRATEGIES OF UNLOCKING FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS EVERYWHERE IN THE PEARL OF AFRICA, IN A UNITED EFFORT AGAINST VOTE RIGGING.
All Ugandans, Friends, and Donors of Uganda are cordially invited to this year’s EKIMEEZA moment of truth.
Thanks to you all.
JBM SSENTONGO
Chief Organizer and Moderator,
EKIMEEZA CHICAGO 09
UNAA CHICAGO CONVENTION 2009

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Iran President Defies his "Supreme Vote thief lead protector" over Vice President Choice

AP – In this Sept. 20, 2008 photo released by the semi-official Iranian Fars News Agency, Sunday, July 19, …
TEHRAN, Iran – President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad showed rare defiance of his strongest backer, Iran's supreme leader, by insisting on his choice for vice president Wednesday despite vehement opposition from hard-liners that has opened a deep rift in the conservative leadership.
The tussle over the appointment comes at a time when the clerical leadership is facing its strongest challenge in decades following last month's disputed presidential election.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's top concern appears to be keeping the strong support of clerical hard-liners so he can withstand attempts by the more moderate, pro-reform opposition to erode his authority.
Conservative clerics and politicians have denounced Ahmadinejad's choice for the post of first vice president, Esfandiar Rahim Mashai, because Mashai said last year that Iranians are friends with Israelis. There are also concerns because Mashai is a relative of Ahmadinejad — his daughter is married to the president's son.
Khamenei ordered Ahmadinejad to remove Mashai, semiofficial media reported Wednesday.
Arguing for a further chance to make his case, Ahmadinejad said, "there is a need for time and another opportunity to fully explain my real feelings and assessment about Mr. Mashai."
The president may be digging in because he fears an attempt by hard-liners to dictate the government he is due to form next month.
At the center of the dispute between the president and supreme leader is Mashai, a member of Ahmadinejad's personal inner circle. Iran has 12 vice presidents, and Mashai has been serving in one of the slots in charge of tourism and culture. Ahmadinejad said last week he was elevating Mashai to the first vice presidency. That is the most important of the 12 because it is in line to succeed the president if he dies, is incapacitated or removed. The first vice president also leads Cabinet meetings in the president's absence.
Ahmadinejad is a member of the hard-line camp, but throughout his first term he had disputes over policy and appointments with fellow conservatives, some of whom accused him of hoarding too much power for close associates rather than spreading it among factions.
Most surprising is Ahmadinejad's defiance of Khamenei's order for Mashai's removal. The supreme leader has been the president's top defender in the election dispute, dismissing opposition claims that Ahmadinejad's victory in the June 12 vote was fraudulent. The opposition says pro-reform candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi was the real winner and calls Ahmadinejad's government illegitimate.
Hard-line clerics on Wednesday demanded the president obey Khamenei.
Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said whether Mashai is immediately dismissed "will test Ahmadinejad's loyalty to the supreme leader."
"When the exalted supreme leader takes a position explicitly, his statement must be accepted by all means and implemented immediately," he said, according to the Mehr news agency. "Those who voted for Ahmadinejad because of his loyalty to the supreme leader expect the president to show his obedience ... in practice."
Ahmadinejad may believe Khamenei's rejection of Mashai is not written in stone and is testing whether he can keep his close associate.
Iran expert Suzanne Maloney pointed out that the supreme leader has not publicly spoken on the issue and reports of his order have been leaked by hard-liners through semiofficial media.
"If Khamenei comes out in Friday prayers calling for (Mashai's) removal, then it would be difficult to imagine Ahmadinejad would refuse that," said Maloney, with the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Washington-based Brookings think tank.
Ahmadinejad is "not looking to open his second term by picking a fight with his most important ally in the system," she said.
Khamenei's order to remove Mashai is unusual extension of his powers — perhaps a sign he wants to strengthen his position as unquestioned leader in the face of the reformist threat.
As supreme leader, Khamenei has ultimate say in state affairs and stands at the peak of the unelected clerical leadership that under Iran's Islamic Republic can overrule the elected presidency and parliament.
Traditionally, the supreme leader has stayed out of a public role in government appointments. He is believed often to informally vet choices for senior positions behind the scenes, but he does not have a formal role in approving them or an official power to remove them. Even under Iran's 1997-2005 pro-reform government, with which Khamenei clashed, he never overtly ousted any of its officials.
Now Khamenei is facing tests to his authority on two fronts. One is from Ahmadinejad, the other is the open defiance from the reformist opposition, which has continued its campaign against Ahmadinejad despite the supreme leader's declarations that the election dispute is over.
Powerful moderate clerics in the religious leadership under Khamenei have backed Mousavi or declined to recognize Ahmadinejad as the victor. Hundreds of thousands held mass protests in support of Mousavi in the weeks after the election, but were crushed in a heavy crackdown that killed at least 20 protesters and left more than 500 in prison. Still, the opposition has managed to hold two smaller protests since, and is demanding a referendum on Ahmadinejad's legitimacy.
The announcement outraged hard-liners, who have opposed Mashai since he said in 2008 that Iranians were "friends of all people in the world — even Israelis." Mashai also angered many top clerics in 2007 when he attended a ceremony in Turkey where women performed a traditional dance and in 2008 when he hosted a ceremony in which women played tambourines. Conservative interpretations of Islam oppose women dancing.
After days of controversy, Khamenei weighed in. The semiofficial Fars news agency reported Wednesday that Ahmadinejad had been notified of the leader's order to remove Mashai.
The deputy parliament speaker, Mohammad Hasan Aboutorabi-Fard, said late Tuesday that Mashai's dismissal was "a strategic decision" by the system of ruling clerics and he must be removed "without delay," according to the semiofficial ISNA news.
Later Wednesday, Ahmadinejad stuck by Mashai in a speech at Mashai's farewell ceremony from his lower vice presidential post.
"One of virtues and glories God has bestowed to me in life was to get acquainted with this great, honest and pious man," Ahmadinejad said, according to the state news agency IRNA. He said he has "a thousand reasons" to support Mashai and that there was "no convincing" reason for the attacks on his choice.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Micheal Jackson Tribute: A Living brand with a timeless breath has gone.

In a local daily, one writer opined that Michael Jackson was a formidable brand. To him the creation of best selling records of all times and the sight of fans becoming unglued because of his death were enough to classify the MJ brand as all-enduring. But is it?Music appeal, like most products goes hand in with the image of the creator—at least to the informed. MJ from childhood until early adulthood was a phenomenon of unsurpassed talent, whose creations sent the young and the young at heart into ecstasies. Peddlers of sugared carbonated water, which the young are prone to guzzling, gave him carte blanc checks for commercials. He was on a roll. They dubbed him “ The King of Pop.” But then all human constructs come laden with flaws. Soon the ass of a god began to leak—the effeminate voice, the gradual change in nose shape, the lightening of skin tone and the affinity for the company of children.The general fan chorus was: Come on, MJ, we have grown; grow with us! That was not to be. And so many fans left him in his childhood where he felt most comfortable—a childhood many of us could never imagine. This same childhood projection was to become his Achilles’ heel in the morbid American sexuality and money. Soon he was milked of millions of dollars on conjectures of molestations. He lost many more fans and would-be fans. He was later to buy his own playmate kids produced from donated white sperms and eggs.Amidst all these advertisers could not touch him with a long pole. Other than to his hard-core fans his music lost its appeal. Was the sold-out comeback tickets mere curiosity? If it were for his music, the fans would have been disappointed. MJ would have ended up in failure and humiliation that could have even killed him on stage. The gods spared him the ordeal.So, speaking of brands; maintaining one requires skills, adroitness, ability and willingness to change and adopt with the times. For example, one might ask: What is the NRM brand—if any? Supposedly it was sold on being different from past regimes and getting rid of the Northern hegemony. It has achieved the latter and made many people happy. However the chief archtitect could have wished the North, especially Acoli, to come to its knees. Other than the random obsequiousness and confusion, that will never happen. The NRM has also contained several amateurish armed challenges to its authority which gives it credibility among the bewildered masses. But let us look at the so-called Fundamental Change.The Fundamental Change clearly define the NRM brand. There is the wild-wild-west capitalism defined by fire sale of quasi-government enterprises, neglect of public infrastructures and get-rich-quick greed manifested by obscene corruptions. Then, what about key government positions? The chief architect talks about non-sectarianism but, in broad day light, cynically packs key positions with his tribal people. That is change, indeed. More than anything, the NRM has refined the art of self-perpetuation through fear, double talks and bribes. Is this brand sustainable in the long run? Even the uninformed and unthinking masses will soon see through the charade and stop buying NRM.
Posted by Jbm Ssentongo

Saturday, July 11, 2009

US President Barack Obama marks Africa's Promise and Problems with a Blackman's touch

Play Video Barack Obama Video:Good Governance
AP – President Barack Obama and first Lady Michelle Obama arrive in Accra, Ghana with their daughters Sasha …

ACCRA, Ghana – In his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa since taking office, President Barack Obama is seeking to lift up the continent of his ancestors — while keeping its emotions in check.
Greeted by a rush of excitement on his arrival here, America's first black president planned a speech to Ghana's Parliament on Saturday outlining his hope for a future Africa prospering in democracy. He was also visiting a hospital and a one-time slave trading post, joined by his wife, Michelle, a great-great granddaughter of slaves.
But his speech was also pitched as a sobering account of Africa's enduring afflictions: hunger, disease, corruption, ethnic strife and strongman rule.
And during his 21-hour sojourn, no big public event was planned — in part for fear it could cause a celebratory stampede, as a 1998 stop by President Bill Clinton nearly did.
Selecting Ghana as the starting point of his black Africa travels, the president sought to highlight a continental success story.
"You've got ... a functioning democracy, a president who's serious about reducing corruption, and you've seen significant economic growth," he told a news conference in Italy on Friday.
Obama was to hold talks with President John Atta Mills, who took over from longtime leader John Kufuor in January — a peaceful democratic handoff all too rare for the continent.
Obama flew to West Africa after the G-8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy, approved a new $20 billion food security plan. It aims to help poor nations in Africa and elsewhere avert mass starvation during the global recession.
He also had a cordial first meeting with Pope Benedict XVI. In their half-hour private audience at the Vatican, the two reviewed Mideast peace and anti-poverty efforts, aides reported. They also discussed abortion and stem cell research at length, Benedict giving him a treatise on bioethics to read while flying here, the White House said.
In Ghana, enthusiastic drummers greeted Obama, the first lady and daughters Malia and Sasha as they stepped off Air Force One just after 9 p.m. local time. Mills and his wife led dignitaries along a red carpet, wearing colorful traditional garb.
In his speech, Obama was to urge Africans to embrace a future of accountable leaders and open markets. To ensure a wide audience, the administration organized watch parties at embassies and cultural centers across Africa.
But the speech was also a splash of cold water for Africans still nursing grievances over colonial rule.
"For many years we've made excuses about corruption or poor governance, (insisting) this was somehow the consequence of neocolonialism, or the West has been oppressive, or racism," he told ekimeeza.blogspot last week. "I'm not a believer in excuses."
Those sentiments led Obama to avoid his father's native Kenya for this stop. Tensions in Kenya remain high after a disputed 2007 election and subsequent ethnic bloodshed.
Yet in Ghana, Africa's grievous past was also part of the picture.
Obama was touring Gold Coast Castle, a seaside fortress converted to the slave trade by the British in the 17th century. In its dungeons, thousands of shackled Africans huddled in squalor before being herded onto ships bound for America.
While Michelle Obama's great-great grandfather was a slave in South Carolina, his African origins are not known.
The castle visit mirrored ones paid by Clinton and George W. Bush to the slave-trading post of Goree Island, Senegal — with the added impact of Obama's mixed-race background and history-making election.
In Ghana, too, Obama followed in Clinton's footsteps. In 1998, a surging crowd cheered Clinton in Accra's Independence Square and toppled barricades after his speech. Clinton shouted, "Back up! Back up!", his Secret Service detail clearly frantic.
Bush's reception last year was less tumultuous, but equally warm. At a welcoming banquet, Kufuor noted huge increases in U.S. development aid and AIDS relief — and named a highway after Bush. Earlier, Bush hosted Kufuor at one of his few White House state dinners.
Obama — son of a Kenyan father and white mother from Kansas — first toured Africa in 1992. The newly minted Harvard law school grad savored its sights, sounds and tastes. In "Dreams from My Father," he recalled running his hand over his father's burial plot. "I had sat at my father's grave and spoken to him through Africa's red soil," he wrote.