06 June International Press Clips
International Clips on Liberia
Liberia Begins Recruiting Women Soldiers
MONROVIA, Liberia The first African country led by a democratically elected woman began recruiting women into its new post-war army Monday. Liberia's new army will initially number 2,000 troops, including about 400 women, said Edith Bawn, spokeswoman for the government body that oversees the creation of the armed forces and includes representatives of the United Nations and the United States.
On Monday, dozens of women lined up outside a military barracks in the capital Monrovia. "I want to join the army because I love my country and feel that my country is more important than I am," said one of them, Edith Nelson. Another, Kotati Jackson, said she wanted to join to become a medic. "I want to be of help to my colleagues, mainly the wounded ones," she said.
Women have served in small numbers in Liberia's military in the past, but recruiting for the new army, which began in January, had until now only been open to men.
During decades of civil war, many women in Liberia were forced by government troops and rebels alike to cook or carry supplies. Others became "bush wives," or sex slaves kept for years by commanders. Some led units as battle-hardened front-line fighters.
Liberian officials say the drive to recruit women is part of the country's broader goal of ensuring gender balance under President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who inherited a poor, war-ravaged nation when she took office in January as Africa's first elected female head of state.
Bawn called Monday's recruitment drive "a special push to attract women."
"Women bring a special sensitiveness to the military," she said. "And they're very good at support roles."
Bawn and other officials said women will not be pegged to certain roles and will be able to serve in whatever capacities they are qualified for.
The screening process lasts two days and consists of an aptitude test, medical tests and brief physical training exercises. Reconstituting the army is considered crucial to helping Liberia escape a cycle of coups and civil war that has torn the West African nation apart for a quarter century.
About 15,000 U.N. peacekeepers are deployed in the country to maintain order until the new army and police force can take over.
International Clips on West Africa
ICoast court seek to quiz ex-minister and general over bombing
ABIDJAN, June 6, 2006 (AFP) - Ivory Coast's military court wants to question former defence minister Rene Amani and the former head of the loyalist army, Mathias Doue, over the 2004 bombing of French forces, legal sources said Tuesday.
"An international summons has been issued to find General Doue ... so that he can appear in front of a judge," the government commissioner, Navy Lieutenant Commander Ange Kessi, told AFP.
The attack by the Ivorian air force on a French military base in the central rebel-held town of Bouake, on November 6, 2004, left nine French soldiers dead and 35 injured. An American civilian was also killed.
Violent anti-French demonstrations followed, after the French army retaliated, destroying nearly all Ivorian military planes.
The court has already heard from the man who was in charge of operations at the time of the bombing, General Philippe Mangou, now chief of the loyalist general staff, the military prosecutor's office said.
Lieutenant Kokobo Ble, the military judge handling this case, will meet next week in France with Florence Michon, his counterpart at the Paris military court, Kessi said.
Ivory Coast repatriates trafficked Burkinabe children
ABIDJAN, June 6, 2006 (AFP) - Ivorian police have returned 33 children destined for cocoa plantations in the south of the country to their homes in neighbouring Burkina Faso, local media reported Tuesday
The children, aged between 10 and 17, were being transported to the vast plantations of Soubre province when they were stopped on May 31, and then repatriated with the help of a German non-governmental organization.
Ivory Coast, still the world's number one cocoa producer despite internal unrest, is a popular target for traffickers importing children from neighbouring countries.
An estimated 200,000 minors are at work on Ivorian cocoa plantations, according to an international study.
The country launched a clampdown on child labour in 2005 in a bid to comply with certification requirements from the United States, which imports a third of all Ivory Coast's cocoa.
Captive Sierra Leonean Slave Girl Remembered in America
By Ibrahim Seibure
Freetown, Jun 05, 2006 (Concord Times/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) --Sierra Leone Gullah Heritage Association in the United States has disclosed that Rhode Islanders will host Thomalind Martin Polite, the 7th generation descendent of a young African girl taken from her home in Sierra Leone, West Africa by a Newport Rhode Island slave ship, the Hare, and sold into slavery in Charleston, South Carolina in 1756.
The young girl was purchased by rice planter Elias Ball, and given the name Priscilla. Her legacy was uncovered in the groundbreaking book, SLAVES IN THE FAMILY, by Ball descendant, Edward Ball. Last year, on the invitation of the Government and peoples of Sierra Leone, Thomalind Martin Polite visited her ancestral home from where Priscilla was kidnapped 250 years ago.
Now she comes to Rhode Island, the home of the ship captain and owners who took Priscilla into captivity.
She brings her family, including her children, the 8th generation descendents of Priscilla for a weekend celebration of a legacy moved from heartbreak to healing.
The occasion is scheduled for June 3rd, 4 th and 5th and will be presided over by a traditional welcome of Thomalind and family by Sierra Leonean.
Descendants Association of Rhode Island, a black history tour facilitated by Rhode Island Black Heritage Society, that starts at waterfront and ends at Congdon St.
Baptist Church, followed by community celebration and conversation at the church. There will be performances by local youth and Rhode Island Black Storytellers where Thomalind will share her story.
Last Sunday was the formal welcome ceremony and entertainment at the Colony House that includes performance by musician, Leroy White.
Today the Thomalind will pay a visit to the Narragansett High School where she is also expected to share her story with students who studied the history and helped raise money for her visit.
UNICEF Donates to Police
Jun 05, 2006 (Standard Times/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) -- UNICEF will be handing over fifteen motorcycles to the Sierra Leone Police-Family Support Unit (SLP-FSU) today Monday 5th June 2006 at UNICEF House, Central Medical Stores Compound, New England, Freetown.
These motorcycles are being donated as part of UNICEF's support to SLP-FSU to improve their mobility for investigation as well as sensitization on Sexual Exploitation and Abuses (SEA) at the community level in all districts throughout Sierra Leone.
This effort is based on Government of Sierra Leone-UNICEF Annual Work Plan 2005 to strengthen SLP-FSU's capacity in all districts to more adequately to respond to SEA cases against women and children.
Each district SLP-FSU/MSWGCA (Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs) joint investigation team will receive a motorcycle.
View more International Press Clips