|Africa News Digest
Congo Mines Screech to Halt; Unemployment Rises
Dec. 10 (EIRNS)Democratic Republic of Congo's Katanga Province Minister of Mines Barthelemy Mumba Gama said today that the cost of producing minerals such as cobalt and copper, was greater than the price the commodities were receiving on world markets, according to afrik.com. He said this would have a profound effect on Congo's revenue. There are fears that job losses in Katanga, the province with the highest mineral production in Congo, could reach 300,000 by the end of the month.
In response, Congo will cut export and import taxes for miners and drop the cost of factory operating licenses to $5 million from $50 million, Deputy Mines Minister Victor Kasongo said today in Congo's capital, Kinshasa.
"Congo depends on the mines and the financial crisis has hit the mines hard," Kasongo said. "We want people to export minerals so we can keep people working."
Congo produces about half the world's cobalt and 4% of the copper. About 45 out of 75 mineral processing firms have closed in the last month, mainly in Katanga, because of the steep drop in metal prices.
The Congo government will announce the review of 61 mining contracts next week, carried out with the intention of raising state revenue in the sector.
Condi Rice Pushing Black Hawk Down for Obama?
Dec. 14 (EIRNS)Doing the dirty work for the British again, the Bush Administration will make a final push Tuesday Dec. 16 at the UN for international backing for a UN peacekeeping mission in Somalia, to "stop the piracy" and to prevent the resurgence of Islamic militantsnot at all coherent missions.
Condi Rice's initiative comes as the U.S.-backed Ethiopian military is in the process of concluding its withdrawal from Somalia by Dec. 31. In fact, a U.S.-led UN intervention now, would give the maximum boost to the most extreme factions of Islamic militants there.
Vice-Admiral Bill Gortney, the commander of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, expressed skepticism on a separate U.S. plan to seek UN approval for commando raids against pirates on Somali soil, saying the possibility of inflicting civilian casualties "cannot be overestimated."
France, Russia, and supposedly Britain, according to the Washington Post, are resisting the U.S. peacekeeping proposal, arguing that there is no peace to keep in Somalia. The U.S. is trying to beef up the existing peacekeeping mission of 3,400 Burundian and Ugandan peacekeepers. Even UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon, a man in the pocket of the British, concluded last month that even a well-equipped UN peace-keeping force of 22,000 would not be capable of stabilizing Somalia.
When President George H.W. Bush was about to leave office in 1991, he set up incoming President Bill Clinton with a disastrous U.S. Somalia intervention, depicted in the movie "Black Hawk Down."