- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 1, 2004

ZIMBABWE

7 officials suspended amid succession row

HARARE — Seven top officials have been suspended from the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), and a Cabinet minister was severely reprimanded in a row over President Robert Mugabe’s successor.

The party purge, which Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corp. called “the night of the long knives,” came as the ZANU-PF opened a party congress yesterday focused on parliamentary elections in March that are expected to test its dominance.

ZANU-PF provincial executives have endorsed Mr. Mugabe to retain his party presidency for five more years. But political analysts say a battle over a second vice presidency — seen as a steppingstone to the top job — is causing tension in its ranks.

Mr. Mugabe bowed to pressure from some lieutenants to give the post to a woman, Joyce Mujuru, sidelining parliamentary speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa, often mentioned as his preferred successor. Mr. Mugabe, 80, warned last week that he would punish officials who defy the party by trying to block Mrs. Mujuru’s rise.

SOMALIA

Prime minister names 27 to new Cabinet

NAIROBI, Kenya — Somali Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Gedi yesterday announced the names of 27 ministers who will form his new Cabinet to fill a 13-year power vacuum in the anarchic Horn of Africa state.

Most of those named were sworn into office immediately, but a few warlords stayed away from the ceremony, having sought greater powers than those invested in the ministries to which they were appointed, said a reporter from Agence France-Presse who was present.

The ceremony was the culmination of more than two years of negotiations in Kenya mediated by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, an East African group, with input from the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union, Italy, Britain, Norway, Sweden and other developed countries.

SUDAN

Unexploded mines stall refugees’ return

NAIROBI, Kenya — Clearing land mines in Sudan, Africa’s largest country and theater of the continent’s longest-running civil war, would slash the cost of humanitarian aid by allowing road transport and the return of refugees, mine specialists said yesterday.

The problem is mainly in the south, where the Khartoum government and rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army have fought for 21 years, littering the vast region with mines and unexploded munitions.

Many roads are unsafe, farmland is unusable, and about 4 million refugees are afraid to go home because of the danger of explosions. Overall, the United Nations Mine Action Service thinks that an area of 310,000 square miles in 21 of Sudan’s 26 states is affected.

Weekly notes …

President Francois Bozize has urged people in the Central African Republic to turn out in large numbers on Sunday to vote on a new constitution opening the way for elections. “To vote … is a duty and a right,” said the general, who seized power in a widely popular coup in March last year. Presidential and legislative elections have been set for the end of January and February. … Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika wants at least 1 million of his countrymen and women to volunteer for HIV tests next year, saying his government needs to know how many of its 11 million people should receive free anti-retroviral drugs. “We want to put 80,000 on free anti-retrovirals by the end of 2005,” he said.

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