Africa's poor: Gaining access to finances

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LONDON — Vast distances, high costs and unstable incomes. Those are just some of the challenges faced by millions of Africa’s poorest trying to access financial services in rural communities in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Until recently, commercial banks across the continent hadn’t bothered to reach out to impoverished Africans in rural areas because they saw little profit potential. Instead, they focused on wealthier clients with larger transactions, which had a better chance of surpassing the cost of the bank infrastructure and staff.

Read more at Global Post

Ivory Coast: Liberia border raids raise new fears

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SAKRE, Ivory Coast - Issa Gnonkonte woke up early one Wednesday in April in this village near the Liberian border to find 15 men at his front door armed with machetes and Kalashnikov rifles.

Along with the 10 other people in the house, Gnonkonte, 32, was taken outside and stripped naked while the attackers began to loot.

Later, the attackers — a mix of Ivorians and Liberians believed to have crossed the border from Liberia — threatened Gnonkonte and his relatives.

Read more at Toronto Star

Ivory Coast: Violence continues after conflict end

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DUEKOUE, Ivory Coast - On a Friday evening in April, two unmarked SUVs stopped Noel Glao near a hotel outside this town in western Ivory Coast where he was charging his cellphone. Nine men wearing national army uniforms got out and, without explanation, began beating the 35-year-old with their Kalashnikov rifles.

“There was blood everywhere. Noel was asking, ‘Why are you beating me? What have I done?’ The soldiers did not say anything,” recalled Glao’s cousin, Edouard Gnene, who was walking with Glao back to a camp for people displaced by the country’s post-election violence. “Every part of his body was beaten.”

Read more at The Star

 

Taylor guilty: Liberians have mixed emotions

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MONROVIA, Liberia - Liberians in the capital of Monrovia expressed sorrow and anger over Thursday's war crimes conviction of their former president Charles Taylor, who is still considered by many Liberians to be a hero.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone in the Hague found Mr. Taylor guilty of aiding and abetting crimes including murder, terrorism, rape, sexual slavery, and mutilations committed by rebel forces during Sierra Leone's civil war. The 11-year conflict, which ended in 2002, killed more than 50,000, and left many traumatized and maimed.

Read more at The Christian Science Monitor

Tanzania education: English key to success?

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DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania - Before class starts, the schoolyard at Gerezani Secondary School is typically noisy; but inside the classrooms, where only English is allowed, students are reluctant to speak.

It is not just shyness that keeps them quiet. Few of the children speak English with confidence, and many have problems understanding the teachers because the classes are held in what is to them a foreign language.

Like the majority of Tanzanians, these students were taught in the Kiswahili language throughout seven years of primary school.

Read more at The Washington Times

Liberian trial: Victims see little justice

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MONROVIA, Liberia - As judgment day nears in the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor for war crimes in neighboring Sierra Leone, many Liberians are wondering whether he will ever face justice for brutality in his own country.

“There were more atrocities that occurred in Liberia under [his] leadership as compared to that in Sierra Leone,” said Nathan F. Gull, a 33-year-old businessman in Monrovia.

Mr. Taylor, a former rebel leader, is best known internationally for his bands of drugged-up child soldiers who terrorized Liberians throughout the 1990s until 2003.

Read more at The Washington Times

Ghanaian amputees: Soccer team unites Africans

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ACCRA - Sani Boubakar, 28, lost his right leg 10 years ago in an auto accident in his hometown of Doutchi, Niger. “On that day, I knew I would be disabled forever,” he said. He moped around his family’s home for two years until he discovered other young men missing legs but playing soccer in a new national team for the Amputee Football Federation of Africa.

Read more at The Washington Times

Liberian election: Two killed as protest quelled


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MONROVIA -At least two people were killed Monday at the headquarters of Liberia’s main opposition party when police used live ammunition to disperse demonstrators on the eve of a runoff presidential election. The race pits incumbent President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who won the Nobel Peace Prize last month, against Winston Tubman of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC).

Read more at The Washington Times

Online chat: Worrying Turkmen parents, teachers

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ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan — Turkmen's government has cracked down on websites that criticize the repressive regime, but the Internet’s potential to lure young people from traditional dating and marriage practices is the key concern for many parents and teachers.

Maral, 20, from the Turkmen capital of Ashgabat, met a man in a chat forum and soon after married him.

Read more at The Washington Times

Kyrgyz election: Fears of terrorism

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BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — The foiling of a terror plot by Islamic extremists in southern Kyrgyzstan over the weekend has underscored ethnic and regional tensions before presidential elections in Central Asia’s only parliamentary democracy.

The National Security Committee of Kyrgyzstan (GKNB) detained 11 members of the Islamic Jihad Union on Oct. 8 as part of a security operation in the southern province of Osh, according to GKNB leader Keneshbek Dushebayev.

Read more at The Washington Times

Liberian president: Sirleaf speaks out against critics

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MONROVIA—Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has spoken out against critics who said she didn’t deserve to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

“I’ve been in this political struggle for three decades, and if the Nobel Peace Prize did their research, they concluded that I’ve been consistent in fighting for the rights of the individual, in fighting for democracy in this country,” she said in an interview at her Monrovia compound on Friday.

Read more at The Star

Liberia vote: Nobel award adds turmoil

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MONROVIA, Liberia — Fresh from being named a joint winner of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf dismissed critics who have called the prize undeserved and said she is ready to take on all challengers in Tuesday’s election.

In an interview in the capital, Monrovia, on Friday, Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected female head of state, said she was “excited” and “humbled” by the Nobel announcement.

Read more at The Washington Times

Liberia turmoil: Nobel prize for president

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MONROVIA - Fresh from being named a joint winner of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf dismissed critics who have called the prize undeserved and said she is ready to take on all challengers in Tuesday’s election. In an interview, Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected female head of state, said she was “excited” and “humbled” by the Nobel announcement. “Once again, I’ll be that person trying to meet the aspirations and expectations of women, particularly in Africa,” she said.

Read more at The Washington Times

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