|Africa News Digest
South African Minister Wants To Revive Space Facility
Feb. 23 (EIRNS)South Africa's Science and Technology Minister, Naledi Pandor, yesterday told the nation's Satellite Applications Centre at Hartebeeshoek, west of Pretoria, that her department will study the possibility of reactivating the launch control and launch pad facilities that had been built for ICBMs in the 1980s. Those facilities, along with most nuclear R&D, were shut down as part of the country's acceptance of the global British technological-apartheid "non-proliferation" policy. She pointed out that launchers are not used only for weapons.
Last September, the Russians launched South Africa's SumbandilaSat microsatellite from Baikonur in Kazakhstan, and live video feed from the satellite was publicly shown for the first time, at yesterday's event. If South Africa could launch its own satellites, Pandor said, it would be much less expensive than being "dependent on other countries," to put them into space. She said she is "investigating why we mothballed our launch facility."
Darfur Peace Agreement Announced
Feb. 24 (EIRNS)The Sudanese government yesterday announced an agreement with the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebel group to establish a framework for discussing the resolution of the conflict in the western Darfur region of Sudan. The agreement was reached in talks in Doha, Qatar, and is being referred to as the Doha Agreement. The JEM is now positioned to become a political player in Sudan, either with government positions, or as a leading opposition group, according to reports. The agreement was reached prior to the national elections scheduled for April. National elections this year are a requirement of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which ended the fighting in the long rebellion by the southern region of Sudan. After the signing of the CPA, the Darfur rebellion was instigated by elements who had been in the government, but who opposed the CPA.
The ceremony was attended by U.S., UN, African Union, and Arab League representatives. JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim said: "This framework agreement is a very important step," but added that patience and concessions will still be needed from both sides.
Today, Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir made a speech in El Fasher, capital of North Darfur, in which he said that 57 members of JEM, 50 of whom had been on death row, had been released. "Now the war has finished in Darfur," he said. "We must start fighting the war for development." The JEM rebels had been captured after they staged an attack on Omdurman (part of the capital of Sudan) in May 2008. The agreement had called for 30 to be released, and Bashir increased the number to 57.
The agreement puts more pressure on the Sudan Liberation Army, another Darfur rebel group, which has split into several factions, to negotiate with the government. The SLA has so far refused to enter into the negotiations.