Friday, July 10, 2009

Queen Michelle arrives in triumph as Africa welcomes Obama home

Barack Obama and his family flew into Ghana last night to a rapturous welcome as the African nation rejoiced in the arrival of America’s first black President.

“Akwaaba [welcome home] Barack and Michelle Obama,” proclaimed banners strung across the street of the spruced-up capital of Accra. Traditional dancers and drummers performed songs for Mr Obama’s first visit to any country in sub-Saharan Africa as the US President.

Thousands of jubilant Ghanaians waving US and Ghanaian flags braved torrential rain to line the road from the airport into the centre of town in the hope of catching a glimpse of the First Family.

To most Ghanaians and other Africans the President’s tour is seen as a homecoming rather than an official trip by a head of state to a foreign country. That unique position was set to be acknowledged today in a manner that few other Western visitors have experienced. Mrs Obama will be honoured by tribal chiefs as a “Queen” in a ceremony.
“Ghana is the birthplace of Africa — he is the first black President, we are part of him,” said Jonathan Prah, 29. Mr Prah, a caterer, was waiting in a crowd outside Cape Castle, a former Dutch slaving port, which the Obamas will visit this afternoon.

Ghana, which was the first African country to gain independence in 1957, was at the centre of one of Africa’s darkest chapters — slavery. President Obama may owe more to scholarships than slave ships — his father left Kenya with a bursary to study at Harvard — but his wife has a traditional African-American heritage.

Jim Robinson, Mrs Obama’s great-great-grandfather, was born into slavery in about 1850 and until the Civil War lived as a slave on a rice plantation in Friendfield, South Carolina.

A council or durbar of local chiefs has been summoned to a ceremony to mark the occasion at which the First Lady will be granted the title of Queen of the Cape Coast. She will be presented with a hand-made wooden stool as a symbol of family stability and rolls of colourful kente cloth.

Honourable Daasebre Kwebu Ewusi VII, the current president of the council, said that the Obamas’ visit to Cape Castle slave fort will be an emotional moment. “It is a moving place, full of history which reminds us of our painful past and the turmoil that our ancestors went through,” Mr Ewusi said. He added that the challenges of today were poverty and underdevelopment, issues that the President’s visit is designed to bring to the forefront.

“I am keeping details of the ceremony hush-hush in tradition with our culture but as one of our queens she [Mrs Obama] will be very powerful,” he added.

Mr Obama may also receive a title but is unlikely to be named a chief. “We are in discussions still on that but there is a feeling that he is doing fine as it is,” said Mr Ewusi, 48.

Street vendors are doing a brisk trade in pictures, wristbands, flags and a song, Barack Obama — written by a Ghanaian reggae star called Black Rasta — is playing non-stop on radio shows.

Before visiting Cape Coast the President is due to have breakfast with John Atta Mills, the Ghanaian President, and give an address to the country’s parliament in which he will stress the need for good governance to help meet Africa’s many challenges.

VOA condemns destruction of reporter's home

PESHAWAR: The Broadcasting Board of Governors and the Voice of America (VOA) has condemned the senseless attack on the home of VOA's Deewa Radio journalist Rahman Bunairee in Buner on July 8.

"The attack unnecessarily endangered Bunairee's innocent family, and caused them great loss," said VOA Director Danforth Austin in a press release. "Bunairee is a brave journalist who, like other VOA stringers, is committed to carrying out VOA's mission to provide independent news and information to Pakistan and the rest of the world," he added.

Bunairee's house in Buner was blown up in an explosion after masked men entered the structure and ordered his family to leave. The attackers destroyed a computer, boxes and valuables before blowing up and burning down the house.

"Three generations of the Bunairee family are without a home because violent forces in Pakistan are threatened by the truth," said Steven J. Simmons of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees the US international broadcasting including the Voice of America. "We will continue to report the news, accurately and independently, for as long as press freedom is threatened in Pakistan and elsewhere." Rahman Bunairee is based in Karachi.

Law, order government’s top priority, says Hoti

PESHAWAR---The NWFP Chief Minister Ameer Haidar Khan Hoti has said that the NWFP Government was giving top priority to the establishment of peace and welfare of affectees of Malakand Division. Planning has been sorted out for the return of the IDPs, their rehabilitation and reconstruction of the infra structure. Shortage of resources will never hinder the process, Hoti declared. He expressed these views during his separate meetinsg with presidents of district associations and general secretaries of ANP from all over the province here on Friday. The Chief Minister said that the process of return of the IDPs will start from 13th July. He said that the day is near that the IDPs will start their lives anew in a peaceful and harmless environment in their regions due to the efforts and better planning of the Federal and Provincial Government. Hoti said that ANP organizations at lower level are playing the role of bridge between the government and the public for the solutions of public problems and works of their welfare. He said that monthly meeting with districts organizations office bearers remained detached due to conditions of Malakand, assistance activities for the affectees and provision of food, shelter and other basic needs of lives to them.

CHINA: Cherishing, maintaining overall social stability

The July 5th bloody riot has caused an immense loss of lives and property to the people of all ethnic groups in China's northwestern Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and wrought havoc upon the normal order and social stability in the region. In recent days, remaining problems left behind by the riot have been tackled in an orderly way, those people injured are receiving proper treatment, and social order has been resuming rapidly.

All this has been attributed to a great deal of arduous work done by the Xinjiang regional Party committee and government, organs of the Communist Party of China (CPC) central authority and relevant government institutions, the People's Liberation Army and People's Armed Police under the leadership of the CPC and the State Council and through firm reliance on the multi-ethnic people in Xinjiang.

The Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region will take the safeguarding and maintenance of social stability as its top priority and most urgent issue on hand. Stability is the basis of a happy and contended life for all people. If society bogs down in disorder and turmoil, people will lose their prime dignity and basic living conditions and can hardly guarantee their personal safety. So, social stability is a basic norm the humanity widely acknowledges, a vital objective for the governance of a nation and also the fundamental right and obligation of every citizen.

To maintain social stability, it is imperative to isolate the extremely few, and to unite, educate and win over the majority. Severe penalties will be meted out in line with law to the riot's plotters, organizers, backbone or "core" elements, and perpetrators of serious crimes. Meanwhile, those who were instigated and hoodwinked should be educated and looked after viably and effectively. As for the families or close relatives of victims, the injured innocent people and those who suffered property damage should be visited, consoled, and helped to tide over their practical difficulties.

Party and government leading bodies at various levels in Xinjiang should get to ensure the basic livelihood for local people, to do policies publicity among them and to help assure overall social stability. The CPC members and cadres, especially leading officials at all levels, should play an exemplary role, rely on the multi-ethnic people to maintain social stability and socialist judicial justice, to safeguard their fundamental interests and guide them in implementing requirements of the Party and government, so as to form a powerful strength and lay a solid basis for social stability.

Law provides a crucial, vital guarantee for the maintenance of social stability. While maintaining the unity, dignity and authority of the socialist legal system, every citizen is demanded to abide by national laws. Cadres and people of all ethnicities should keep sober-minded and be reasonable, carry out their civil duties, treasure all the more the excellent situation of ethnic unity and common prosperity in the region; they should "proceed first from themselves", neither to spread or blindly believe in rumors or hearsay, nor to partake in any activities in violation of law; they should wage resolute struggles against outlaws' activities and consciously work for ethnic unity and social stability.

"Living a stable and harmonious life is the greatest expectations" – This utters the common voice of the people of all ethnic groups. After the July 5th riot occurred in Urumqi, many family members or close relatives of victims, enduring their great grief and bearing an overall situation in mind, have exerted their best to defend social security, and this precisely epitomizes their super moral quality of sagacity, good sense and integrity.

Social stability is closely related to everyone and, only when an overall social security is viably and effectively safeguarded, can there be a reliable guarantee for the people's happy life.

By People's Daily political commentator and translated by PD Online

Operation Rah-e-Rast; three militants killed, 26 detained

RAWALPINDI :At least three miscreants were killed and 26 terrorists were reported to be detained during the search operation continued in Malakand division on Friday, according to ISPR press release issued here today.

Security forces conducted search operation at Badar and Sar colony in Swat and killed a terrorist and apprehended 26 other terrorists. Forces also claimed to destroyed seven tunnels, eight hideouts, one training center of militants.

Two terrorists were killed in Gujro Kille near Malam Jaba.

In Dir militants’ hideout was destroyed and few terrorists were reported wounded at Kuz Darmal near Lower Dir during the fight.

Meanwhile relieve activities have been also continued in camps. So far 1200 tons of rations from the army quota and other items have been distributed amongst the IDPs of Malakand and 50 tons of rations from the quota of army have been placed each at Malakand Fort, Chakdara and Mingora as part of Repatriation Package.

Nearly 9,669 cash cards were distributed amongst the IDPs of Malakand.