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Tuesday 10 January 2012

President Jonathan: Unrest worse Than 1960s Civil War

A round up news, compiled by Newsfromafrica staff writers.

Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan has termed the wave of violence in the country blamed on Islamist Boko Haram group as being “even worse” than during the civil war fought four decades ago.

“The situation we have in our hands is even worse than the civil war that we fought,” Jonathan said, referring to Nigeria’s 1967-70 civil war, in which over a million people were killed.

Mr. Jonathan was speaking during a church service on Sunday for armed forces remembrance day in the capital Abuja, where he told worshippers that there were Boko Haram sympathisers in government and security agencies.

“Some of them are in the executive arm of government, some of them are in the parliamentary/legislative arm of government, while some of them are even in the judiciary,” he said. “Some are also in the armed forces, the police and other security agencies.”

Over 80 people have been killed in recent weeks in a spate of attacks by the extremist Islamic group whose name loosely translates to “Western education is forbidden”. More than 500 people were killed last year in attacks claimed by the group which is fighting to instill Islamic “Sharia” laws across the multi-ethnic nation.

Boko Haram has staged numerous attacks apparently targeting Christian communities in northern and central Nigeria in recent months including the deadly Christmas bombings that left over 40 people dead. At least 30 people were killed on Friday in two separate gun attacks in Adamawa State which since then has been on curfew and security forces deployed.

Hundreds of people are fleeing parts of north-eastern Nigeria following the weekend attacks and also after a faction of the group issued an ultimatum on Sunday for Christians in the mainly Muslim north to leave the region or face attacks.

The Ultimatum came after President Jonathan declared a state of emergency in four states of Borno, Yobe, Niger and Plateau following a surge in ethnic and sectarian violence.

Christian groups in the country have accused the government of not doing enough to protect them. On Saturday the head of the Christian Association of Nigeria Ayo Oritsejafor said they will do whatever it takes to defend themselves from “ethnic and religious cleansing” at the hands of Boko Haram.

“We have the legitimate right to defend ourselves. We're also saying today that we will do whatever it takes,” Oritsejafor said.

Bloemfontein, South Africa

South Africa’s Ruling ANC Marks 100 Years

South Africa’s ruling party and Africa’s oldest liberation movement African National Congress (ANC) celebrated its 100th anniversary in a colourful rally attended by tens of thousands in its founding town of Bloemfontein.

Various world leaders, former heads of state, along with African kings and chiefs were among the 120,000 people attending the centenary celebrations in Bloemfontein. Sunday marked the climax of the celebrations at the town’s Free State stadium where jubilant revellers sang and danced in the scorching sun.

President Jacob Zuma, who addressed the rally, said the centenary was an emotional and yet very exiting and moving occasion, paying tribute to all former party leaders, including 93 year old Nelson Mandela who could not attend due to frail health.

“This is not only a celebration for the ANC and its members only. It is a joyous celebration for all the people of South Africa who with the support of the continent and the world destroyed colonial oppression and apartheid and are building a free, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa together,” said Zuma.

Zuma told the crowd that the party had achieved a 1942 resolution of having one million members by its centenary, announcing that the party had 1,027,389 members presently.

He said that ANC party would seek to stamp out factionalism and promote political discipline, and would take urgent and practical steps in 2012 to revitalise its grassroots and place itself at the forefront of change with education and skill development at  the centre of its transformation.

Nelson Mandela, a world icon became the first black president under ANC after spending 28 years in prison for his fight against the racist white government.

The weekend of events began on Friday with a golf tournament that was followed by ritual slaughter of a black bull by President Zuma, which he said “to remember our own gods in a traditional way.”

Over 1500 invited guests attended a gala dinner on Saturday night where after a torch carrying the centenary flame was lit by Mr. Zuma at midnight in front of the Wesleyan Church in Mangaung, just outside Bloemfontein, where the movement was formed on 8 January 1912. An interfaith service followed on Sunday at the church.

The lavish weekend celebrations have received much criticism from the party grassroots members who say that in its 18 years in power, it has failed to bring better life to most South Africans, other than enriching its leading members, as well as in-fighting and corruption scandals linking its top members.

The opposition has also criticised the $12million being spent on the year-long ANC centenary celebrations.

Issues continue to plague the party after the controversial Youth League leader Julius Malema told a weekend rally that in the next ten years blacks will control south Africa while white will be their domestic workers.

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