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UN praises progress in Liberia since end of civil wars
by Staff Writers
Monrovia (AFP) May 20, 2012

Liberia has made considerable progress in the years since back-to-back civil wars devastated the nation and killed about 250,000 people, a UN Security Council delegation said Sunday.

Liberia, an impoverished west African nation of about four million people, was founded by freed US slaves in the 19th century and rocked by internal wars between 1989 and 2003.

"It's quite evident that Liberia has made considerable progress since the end of the civil war," said US ambassador Susan Rice, who led the 15-member United Nations delegation to inspect the implementation of a peace-keeping mission in the country.

Still, Rice, who also met Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, said authorities needed to do more to provide for the country's security, as well as implement improved justice systems.

Liberia currently relies heavily on a UN mission force of 8,000 men to help maintain stability in the war-scarred nation.

The country's own army, built from scratch with US assistance after 2003, is not yet fully operational but Sirleaf has said she hopes Liberia can take charge of its own security within the next three years.

Security Council delegates later Sunday visited the town of Kortu, a few kilometres from Monrovia, where the UN's mission backs a project aimed at stopping female genital mutilations, which were once commonplace in the community.

The project, launched last year, offers alternative employment to 50 women who once made their livelihood by facilitating in female circumcisions.

"Practicing female circumcision is the only way we used to survive. But the skills that we are now acquiring will help us to become women on our own and we will longer depend on traditional practices," said 35-year-old Tenneh McCauley, who is enrolled in the programme.

Liberia's most recent civil war ended in 2003 when then-president Charles Taylor was forced to quit the country amid international pressure.

He was arrested in 2006 and found guilty last month by a UN-backed court in the Netherlands of arming and aiding murderous rebels in Sierra Leone who paid Taylor with slave-mined blood diamonds.

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Algeria begins work on mega mosque
Algiers (AFP) May 20, 2012 - Workers in Algiers started laying foundations Sunday for what should become the world's third-largest mosque, a one-billion-euro project that will include a dizzyingly tall minaret.

The huge building in the capital Algiers will be built by the China State Construction Engineering Corporation and is expected to create 17,000 jobs -- most of them for Algerians. Construction is due to be completed in 2015.

Algeria's Religious Affairs Minister Bouabdallah Ghlamallah and Chinese ambassador Liu Yuhe attended the foundation-laying ceremony, the official APS news agency reported.

"The construction of this building represents a new landmark in Sino-Algerian relations," the minister said.

The mosque complex will include Africa's tallest minaret, culminating almost as high as the Eiffel Tower at 270 metres (880 feet). It will have 25 levels and eight elevators to whisk observers to the top to view the bay of Algiers.

It will also comprise a prayer room for 120,000 worshippers, a 2,000-seat library, an art museum and a research centre.


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Ethiopian shoe factory widens China's Africa footprint
Dukem, Ethiopia (AFP) May 20, 2012
A steady drone of machines hum as workers assemble shoes in a Chinese-built industrial park outside Addis Ababa, the first in Ethiopia by the Asian giant deepening its presence in Africa. A handful of Chinese supervisors at the Huajian factory watch hundreds of Ethiopian workers trim leather, glue soles and lace up boots in the Eastern Industry Zone in Dukem, 30 kilometres (20 miles) south o ... read more

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