Communist World News

Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

Algerian elections: Workers’ Party loses seats

In Africa on May 11, 2012 at 7:01 pm

ALGIERS, Algeria — The Trotskyist Workers’ Party has not ended among the first three in the legislative elections held on May 10, 2012, according to preliminary reports by Reuters

The ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) is said to have 220 seats in the 462-seat parliament. The National Rally for Democracy of Prime Minister  Ahmed Ouyahia was in second place with 68 seats, and the moderate Islamist Green Algeria alliance was third with 48. It is unclear how many seats the Workers’ Party has gained at this point.

There was widespread apathy amongst the population, with estimates of voter turnout ranging from merely circa 30 to 45 percent. Many presumed electoral fraud, but international monitors have reported a relatively free procedure. “Citizens were, in general, able to truly exercise their right to vote,” said Jose Ignacio Salafranca, head of the EU observer mission. Critics nonetheless argue that the elections are a farce arguing the real power lies with an informal network the Algerian population calls “the power” (le pouvoir).

The National Rally for Democracy and the National Liberation Front are both part of the “presidential alliance”. The Movement of Society for Peace, which is part of the Islamist Green Algeria alliance, is also part of the presidential alliance.

In the previous legislative elections in 2007 the Workers’ Party became the largest opposition party against the “presidential alliance.”

UPDATE:

The Workers’ Party has won 20 seats, in comparison to 26 seats in the previous elections. It is now the fifth largest party. The social-democrats have won 21 seats and are the fourth largest party.

Sources: 1, 2, 3

May Day Marches around the world

In Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America on May 1, 2012 at 1:11 pm

WORLD — Hundreds of thousands of people around the world march on May Day for better working conditions, pay, or against capitalism.

Thousands of workers protested in the Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan and other Asian nations, with demands for wage hikes amid soaring oil prices a common theme, Associated Press reports. In Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, nearly ten thousand protesters marched dressed in red toward the presidential palace which was blocked by the police.

In Greece thousands of people marched in the capital city of Athens to protest the austerity measures that have crippled the country. Marches and protests are planned in other European countries as well. In Germany May Day is often preceded by riots in the night before, especially in Berlin and Hamburg. This year left-wing youths merely threw bottles and fireworks at police cars.

In other countries, May Day has been co-opted by the establishment to promote themselves. In Russia around 100,000 people marched including president Medvedev and president-elect Putin in the capital city of Moscow. The May Day march in Moscow targeted opposition groups.

 

 

Sudan and South Sudan Clash Again

In Africa on April 23, 2012 at 6:05 am

Heglig, Sudan —Sudan and newly-independent South Sudan accused each other of launching fresh attacks on their territories on Sunday as neither side showed any sign of bowing to global pressure to return to the negotiating table.

South Sudan said Sudanese troops attacked settlements about 10km (6 miles) on its side of the border and carried out air raids in a range of areas including its oil-producing Unity state.

“We are building up troops because we think that the Sudanese army is also building up,” Mac Paul, deputy director of South Sudan’s military intelligence, told reporters in the southern border town of Bentiu.

Sudan confirmed there had been clashes, which come after 10 days of fighting over the oilfield town of Heglig.

Satellite pictures of the Heglig area released on Sunday suggest key oil installations were badly damaged in the fighting and are no longer operating.

Sudan and South Sudan have accused each other of attacking oil facilities. On Friday South Sudan said it was withdrawing from Heglig, while Sudan said it forced out the South’s troops.

Access to the disputed border region around Heglig is limited, making it difficult to verify what is happening in the area.

The 10-day occupation by the world’s newest nation met widespread criticism, including from United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon, who called it illegal.

Foreign powers have also called for an end to Sudan’s cross-border air raids.

Sudan’s oil minister Ishaq Adam Gamaa said the chance of the sides reaching a settlement soon was now “very remote” and said Khartoum would probably demand compensation for damage to Heglig before returning to talks.

– Viktor

Algerian socialists hope to gain more seats in coming elections

In Africa on April 17, 2012 at 6:42 pm

Algiers, Algeria — The Trotskyist Workers’ Party (PT) has prominently rose in the polls leading up to the national elections on May 10, 2012.

The established authorities hope to diffuse the revolutionary spirit of the Arab Spring with these elections, Reuters reports. During the Arab Spring of 2011, protesters staged minor protests against the government. Algeria is the only country whose political system has underwent no changes to its structure. In a desperate attempt to prevent the elections of becoming a vent for the Arab Spring, state television broadcasts anti-revolutionary propaganda.

This election will mark the 50th anniversary of independence from France, but despite this the elections have induced little enthusiasm amongst the people. It is estimated there will be a voter turn out of 44 percent (compared to 35 percent in 2007). Major parties in the Algerian elections are the centre-left Front of Socialist Forces, the Islamist Front for Justice and Development, the left-wing nationalist National Liberation Front (the current largest party), and the National Rally for Democracy, as well as the Workers’ Party. The Algerian Workers’ Party is currently the fourth largest party in the legislative branch of government.

The Workers’ Party is hoping of increasing the number of votes by using allied trade union leaders, and have risen in the polls so far. The leader of the Workers’ Party, Louisa Hanoune, has said a there may be a possibility of a coalition of the Front of Socialist Forces and the Workers’ Party, if jointly they have the majority in parliament. The Workers’ Party has vowed to create “popular committees,” and the Front of Socialist Forces have since expressed sympathy for that notion.

Sources: 1, 2, 3

Unrest in Swaziland after only trade union banned and pro-democracy protests

In Africa on April 14, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Mbabane, Swaziland — Unrest is looming over Swaziland after demonstrations in response to the only trade union TUCOSWA being banned by the government. Meanwhile, police violently repressed the pro-democracy demonstration organised by TUCOSWA and others, last Thursday.

Anti-government protesters in Swaziland

The Trade Unions Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) was deregistered by the government on April 2, Monday last week. TUCOSWA was a merger of the only two trade unions in the absolute monarchy of Swaziland.

The leaders of TUCOSWA have requested the International Labour Organisation to intervene in the country on their behalf, writing them: “The Trade Unions Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) hereby request your organisation to intervene by way of a mission to Swaziland in the impasse of it’s deregistration by the government of Swaziland.”

Meanwhile, police have cracked down on the pro-democracy protesters who rallied against the absolute monarchy, last Thursday. The protest was organised by the TUCOSWA prior to it being deregistered by the government. People heading towards the rally in the second capital city of Swaziland, Mbabane, were stopped by police road blocks and compelled to return.

“These waves that are coming at them shall gather into the tsunami that shall push us into the democratic Swaziland that we fight for. We have been arrested, detained, assaulted, but we are not beaten,” said Mary Pais Da Silva of the Swaziland Democracy Campaign said in a press statement.

“There was a heavy presence of police and the army. It was difficult to organize anything. No one was allowed near where the march was supposed to commence. People walking in pairs were confronted by police as they wanted to know the nature of their conversations,” student leader Sibusiso Nhlabatsi told Africa Contact.

The demonstration was scheduled on April 12, the anniversary of when king Sobhuza II banned all political parties. The current absolute monarch of Swaziland is king Mswati II.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

Kiir to withdraw forces.

In Africa on April 13, 2012 at 7:18 am

SUDAN — South Sudan said Thursday that it was prepared to withdraw from the contested city of Heglig, which it captured from Sudanese forces this week.

Which is contrary to what president, Salva Kiir Mayardit asserted a two days ago.

“They went back to regroup and launched another attack on April 10th. They were again repulsed and followed into Heglig and the SPLA [Sudan People’s Liberation Army] took control of the town. The SPLA are now in a complete control of the Heglig and beyond. They will not pull out. They will remain there so that this issue is resolve once and for all even though we did not want war as a resolve”, Kiir told the house amid applause chatting “SPLA, SPLA, SPLA”.

The African Union said Thursday that South Sudan acted illegally when it sent troops across the border into Sudan to capture a strategic oil field and demanded the force’s immediate withdrawal. Diplomats are urging the presidents of both countries to show leadership as war seems imminent. The minister of information, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, echoing statements by President Salva Kiir, said South Sudan “cannot talk about withdrawal” unless contested regions were demilitarized and international observers were put in place.

– Viktor

At least 20 dead in bomb blast

In Africa on April 8, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Kaduna, Nigeria — Two car bombs near a church in the northern region of Nigeria have killed at least twenty people.

The victims of the bomb that went of near a church in Kaduna were mainly taxi drivers and passer-by.

Christians in the north of Nigeria are increasingly victim of harassment and terrorist attacks by a radical Islamic sect called Boko Haram. During Christmas, Boko Haram bombed a church leaving 44 people dead. Boko Haram is estimated to have killed 1,000 people in various attacks since 2009.

Today’s attacks have not yet been claimed, but it is almost certain Boko Haram were the perpetrators.

Boko Haram calls for the implementation of a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

Egyptian oil workers strike

In Africa on April 7, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Egypt — A strike orchestrated by 100 workers against oil giant ExxonMobil originated four days ago on April 4, 2012. The strike comes as workers who have been working for the company since 1985 have not been employed directly through ExxonMobil, and have not received the same privileges as those who have. Tarek Dawish, a member of the trade union of the company said : “If we get contracts we will get many of our lost rights. We want the rights mentioned by the Labour Law, “and “only administrative workers, engineers and workers’ supervisors are directly hired by ExxonMobil and thus benefit from financial and other privileges workers don’t get.”

The workers went on to express two things that would satisfy them: Recognition by ExxonMobil as employees, or the EGPC (Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation) becomes their subcontractor. If those demands are granted the workers would recieve health insurance and better pay.

Many of those who were contracted to work for Exxon stated they only make “$250 per month”. “I have been working here for 14 years and I get $250 per month. I have nine children, I live in a rented flat and have a herniated disc and no healthcare,” Fathi El-Sherif proclaimed, who is a worker for ExxonMobil.

The reports of herniated discs and other physical health problems are quite common in the factory as the result of the vigorous labor and poor working conditions. El-Sherif also stated the factory administrators made a counterpart take a forced vacation for his injuries.

ExxonMobil stated to the workers that they can leave the company if they wanted.

Swaziland monarch closes down only trade union

In Africa on April 5, 2012 at 7:50 pm

Lobomba, Swaziland — The Swaziland authorities have closed down the only trade union in the country after it threatened to protest against the absolute monarchy of 43-year old King Mswati III, according to trade union leader Mduduzi Gina.

“Yes, we have been deregistered,” the secretary general of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (Tucoswa) said. Tucoswa had threatened the absolute monarchy with a general strike and bring the economy to a standstill during protests planned for next week.

King Mswati III visiting the white house and reinforcing ties with Obama

Tucoswa was only a week old before being banned. It was a merger of the two trade unions, the Swaziland Federation of Labour (SFL) and the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU).

The impoverished country of Swaziland has been in a recession since last year and has seen the largest public outrage in its recent history, directed at King Mswati III. More than 3,000 students took to the streets last month when Mswati III canceled scholarships for students. Pro-democracy activist Wandile Dludlu said authorities were trying to dismantle the protests planned for next week since the two trade unions that merged no longer exist.

“This is a crackdown on the pro-democracy forces as a means to weaken the forces for change in light of the upcoming April 12 protests,” said Dludlu, who coordinates the umbrella Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) organisation.

The protests would go ahead as planned despite the setbacks, Mduduzi Gina said.

Mswati III is estimated to own 100 million US dollars and his 13 wifes each have their personal palace.

176 homes burnt, “Municipality’s fault,” Abahlali baseMjondolo says

In Africa on April 5, 2012 at 3:46 pm

eThekwini, South Africa — On Tuesday 176 homes burnt to the ground in the informal settlement of eThekwini at Kennedy road. The grassroots anticapitalist movement Abahlali baseMjondolo (meaning Shack Dwellers in Zulu) has blamed the municipality of eThekwini — located in the province of Kwazulu Natal (the Shack Dwellers stronghold) — for the fires that destroy 176 homes.

The movement’s spokesperson, Sbu Zikode, said “If the people had electricity and water like they were promised years ago, None of this would have happened – it would all have been be avoided.”

The inhabitants of the 176 homes started rebuilding their homes immediately after the fire Wednesday morning with material provided by the KwaZulu-Natal department of human settlements and public works.

Shack fires occur regularly on Kennedy Road. On december 22, 2011 circa 300 homes were burnt to ashes, which left 1500 people homeless. The local authorities have continually failed to provide the inhabitants with save living conditions.