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November 24, 2007

The prize for the most convoluted headline/story of the week goes to ...

Me

Three Darfur ex-rebels seized by own armed wing

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Three senior members of a former Darfur rebel faction were seized by armed members of their own group, a spokesman from the deeply fractured organisation said on Thursday.

The three high-ranking officials in the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) were taken late on Wednesday close to the central Khartoum house of their faction's leader Minni Arcua Minnawi -- the only rebel to sign a peace deal with Khartoum in 2006.

The armed group handed the men over to Sudanese security services who released them without charge Thursday morning, said al-Tayyib Khamis, spokesman for the SLM Minnawi.

The incident underlined the deeply ingrained divisions in Khartoum's only official partner among the splintering insurgent groups in Darfur.

Posted by aheavens at 6:54 AM

November 21, 2007

The Ethiopian Herald is harmful - says Google

When I just tried to go to the website of Ethiopia's state-controlled newspaper the Ethiopian Herald, Google flashed up a warning message saying: "Visiting this web site may harm your computer."

It added: "continue to http://www.ethpress.gov.et/ at your own risk".

warning.jpg
Of course, we knew this already.

Posted by aheavens at 5:09 AM

They're jamming, jamming

First it was the blogs. Now it is the radio stations. Soon only the Ethiopian Herald will be left. (Ermm ... check above.)

Ethiopian jamming hits Voice of America, Deutsche Welle radios - BBC Monitoring

BBC Monitoring (BBCM) can confirm that two major Western broadcasters are suffering consistent jamming of their transmissions to Ethiopia.

Jamming is deliberate interference aimed at preventing the target broadcast from being heard. The standard technique is to transmit an irritating noise or continuous music on the same channel as the target.

In the latest media development to hit the Horn of Africa, the scene of numerous "radio wars" over the past quarter-century, shortwave broadcasts from Washington-based Voice of America (VOA) and Germany's Deutsche Welle (DW) are now being jammed.

In both cases, the target of the jamming is radio programmes in Amharic, the lingua franca and main official language of Ethiopia. VOA is also suffering jamming of another of its regional language services.

The deliberate interference appears to have started in the first half of this month, possibly on or around 12 November.

VOA and Cologne-based DW are funded by the US and German governments to broadcast radio and TV programmes to foreign audiences.

The moves against the VOA and DW follow intensification by Ethiopia of its jamming of broadcasts from neighbouring Eritrea. The jamming of Eritrean state radio, the latest episode of which began in summer 2007, was stepped up in late September and early October, BBCM observed at the time.

Details of the jammed broadcasts

The VOA's daily one-hour (1800-1900 gmt) service in Amharic is now being jammed. According to the opposition website Ethiopian Review - www.ethiopianreview.com - the jamming of VOA began on 12 November. BBCM observations have confirmed the presence of jamming signals on at least three of the five frequencies used by the VOA. The direction whence the jamming originates (established by the use of directional aerials) is consistent with the signals being transmitted from within Ethiopia.

VOA currently uses 9320, 9860, 11675, 11905 and 13870 kHz for its Amharic service. The service is not streamed on the internet, but audio of recent broadcasts is available at www.voanews.com/horn.

On 19 November, VOA's service in another major Ethiopian language, Oromo, was also observed to be jammed. VOA's Oromo service broadcasts at 1730-1800 gmt, immediately before the Amharic transmission and on the same frequencies.

DW's daily one-hour (1400-1500 gmt) service in Amharic is also being jammed. Noise interference has been observed on two of DW's shortwave frequencies (11645 and 15640 kHz).

DW recently added a third frequency (15660 kHz). At the start of its Amharic programme on 19 November it announced that this had been done in response to the jamming. The lead item in the news bulletin that followed was that the Ethiopian government had conducted air raids on villages in the Ogaden region in the southeast of the country.

DW maintains a multimedia website for its Amharic service at www2.dw-world.de/amharic.

Note: The BBC does not broadcast in Amharic.

Opposition broadcasts

Ethiopia has also jammed various private opposition radio broadcasts. The country has been targeted for many years by such operators, which hire airtime (generally an hour a day or on certain days of the week) from commercial shortwave transmission facilities, including those based in Germany and the former Soviet Union. The number and identity of such broadcasts, and their schedules, often varies, depending on the availability of funds to hire shortwave airtime.

Eritrea is also targeted by private opposition shortwave stations.

Posted by aheavens at 4:54 AM

November 12, 2007

Darfur - the latest

As I said below, we've been away for a few weeks. So the first job on returning was to phone around to find out what has been happening in Darfur.

As you no doubt already know, the Sudanese government, the African Union, the United Nations and a smattering of obscure rebel factions are still going through the motions of peace talks in the Libyan town of Sirte. Meanwhile all the less obscure rebel groups who boycotted the Libyan talks are all out in the field, or holding their own meeting in South Sudan's capital Juba.

So, how are things going in Juba?

'Great, things couldn't be going better', said one well known leader of one well known faction. 'In fact we have all patched up our differences. We have decided to reunite under one banner. We will launch our own roadmap for peace in the next couple of days.'

Great story, I thought. A rare ray of hope in doom-laden Darfur. The story was already forming in my head. It would have gone something like this:

Splintered factions from one of Darfur's biggest rebel groups on Monday said they had reunited under one banner and would release their own roadmap to peace in the war-torn region.

Time to phone a second rebel leader who, according to the first rebel leader, was a keen member of this brave new world of unity and cooperation.

'Everything is falling apart,' he said. 'Everyone else around the negotiating table is a power-hungry phoney. We have never been more divided. In fact we are pulling out delegates back into the field as soon as we can get a seat on a plane.'

Great story, I thought. A further nail in the coffin for peace talks in Darfur. The story was already forming in my head. It would have gone something like this:

A Darfur rebel group said it was withdrawing its delegates from a meeting of insurgents in South Sudan's capital Juba on Monday, dealing a fresh blow to already battered hopes for peace talks in the war-torn region.

Time to phone a third rebel leader, boss of the second rebel leader and former comrade of the first, to try to get him to confirm story A or story B.

'No one has told me about any grand reunification plan,' he said. 'And no one is pulling out. The negotiations continue.'

Posted by aheavens at 5:15 PM

This entry was brought to you by

Ethiopian Airlines' new direct connection to Zanzibar.

zanzibar_hols_nov07 (22)

Which is where we have been for the past couple of weeks.

Not an internet café in sight.

Posted by aheavens at 3:41 PM