Sunday, October 28, 2007

Briefs: Soldiers killed in Niger? Will Ghana ban tomato paste imports? Will Darfur see a ceasefire?

Tuareg rebels claimed to have killed 12 soldiers in the northern part of Niger.

Agence France Presse reported that the Movement of the People of Niger for Justice claimed to have destroyed two military vehicles as well as having killed "at least" a dozen soldiers in a dawn raid on Thursday in Touara, an internet statement said.

It was the first attack by the MNJ since the end of Ramadan when a negotiated ceasefire ended.

Tomato farmers in Ghana are preparing for ban of imported canned tomato concentrate. The ban, which will begin November 1, has been challenged by some importers and local farmers worry the government may rethink its plan, according to

The story points out that during the 1990s tomato concentrate imports stagnated, but began rising in the latter part of the decade. Between 1998 and 2003, the market share for local tomatoes fell from 92 percent to 57 percent.

“Due to lack of marketing and processing opportunities, it is estimated that about half of the annual production by the local farmers go waste,” the story pointed out.

I think this portends to be a very interesting issue because at least a few economists believe there is a good argument for temporary tariffs for countries wishing to protect nascent industries from outside competition, which in the short term may help alleviate unemployment and poverty in developing nations like Ghana. However, it appears that Ghana’s tomato canning industry is far from new. Nor is it known whether this decision will be permanent.

The government of Sudan called for an immediate cease fire in the war-torn Darfur region, according to a government spokesman. However, the announcement, which took place during the first day of peace talks with the rebels, has not been taken up by the rebels, according to the Associated Press.

The two groups are trying to meet to broker a deal that will put an end to a four-year conflict that has killed more than 200,000 people, most of them civilians. However, many rebel groups have boycotted the talks because many feel too many groups have been invited to attend the UN-sponsored conference.

Even if some parties are speaking for the first time in more than a year, prospects for peace still remain low. According to the PINR, the Power and Interest News Report:

Even if the flawed peace talks were to end with a deal, the instability surrounding Darfur would probably be enough to sink any hopes of a lasting peace. A weak patchwork of bilateral peace deals and separate U.N. peacekeeping missions is unlikely to hold in a region where many of the conflicts are intertwined. Each agreement will be inherently weak, and each peacekeeping mission will be given narrow rules of engagement, leaving many opportunities for new rebel groups to stir up trouble.

No comments: