Racism Conference Kicks off with "Diplomatic" Walkout

Published on 21st April 2009

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said during the Racism Conference that the United States and Europe had helped establish Israel after World War II at the expense of Palestinians. “They resorted to military aggression to make an entire nation homeless under the pretext of Jewish suffering,” he said. “And they sent migrants from Europe, the United States and other parts of the world in order to establish a totally racist government in the occupied Palestine,” Ahmadinejad continued. “And in fact, to compensate for the dire consequences of racism in Europe, they helped bring to power the most cruel and repressive racist regime in Palestine.” That prompted a walkout by some 40 diplomats from Britain, France and other European countries that had threatened to leave the conference if it turned into an anti-Israeli event. The United States and eight other Western countries were already boycotting the conference fearing such a turn of events.

South Africa’s IEC Ready for Record Voter Turnout

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) is preparing for a record turnout in polls, estimating that about 80% of registered voters will cast their ballots according to a section of the press. IEC chairwoman Brigalia Bam said the commission was confident the elections would run smoothly. South Africans had expressed renewed energy in the election process. Many believed that their vote could make a difference, she said. Previously, the youth were seen as apathetic, but this time they had come out in larger numbers than expected, and formed the bulk of new registered voters. Bam said that in the 2004 poll there were 21, 3-million voters, and the turnout was about 70%. This year, more than 23-million people had registered. She said the IEC expected higher numbers not only because of the enthusiasm of first-time voters, but also because the commission had been able to reach more people in rural areas. The first indications of how the parties had fared was expected to be available from Thursday night. While an African National Congress (ANC) victory is expected, the debate this time is whether it will be able to hang on to its two-thirds majority. There is also great interest in how ANC-breakaway the Congress of the People will perform, and whether it will oust the Democratic Alliance as the official opposition.

Silent emergency Persists in Cameroon

UNICEF has established that each year in Cameroon at least 45,000 children die due to malnutrition, according to IRIN. UNICEF says it has been difficult giving voice to Cameroon's "silent emergency", unfolding as it is in a relatively stable country in sub-Saharan Africa, overshadowed by conflicts and refugee crises elsewhere in the region. "It is a silent emergency because we have children in the north, extreme north and east who are severely malnourished," said Ora Musu Clemens, UNICEF representative in Cameroon. In northern Cameroon global acute malnutrition (GAM) - weight deficit for height - stands at 12.6 percent, striking 115,000 children under five, according to UNICEF. Nearly 40 percent of children - some 350,000 - suffer chronic malnutrition. The World Health Organization classifies a GAM between 10 percent and 14.9 percent as "serious", warranting supplementary feeding; 15 percent and above constitutes an emergency. UNICEF says new nutritional and health surveys in Cameroon are planned for later this year.

Zimbabwe: Local Dollar 'Dead Currency'

Zimbabwe Economic Planning Minister Elton Mangoma yesterday declared the Zimbabwe dollar a dead currency, saying it could be returned as a different currency or as notes once inflation was under control according to BusinessDay. Speaking in Pretoria, Mangoma, on a charm offensive in SA to lure South African business to urgently invest in Zimbabwe, said officially the rand was the most favoured currency for trade while the US dollar, the Botswana pula and British pound were also allowed. "The Zimbabwe dollar is dead. It is no longer being printed and not likely to be used for a year at least," he said. Mangoma said the role of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the powers of its governor have been reviewed and considerably reduced so that they no longer determine and pioneer economic policies and direction.


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