- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 17, 2005

ZIMBABWE

Mugabe rejects crisis mediation

GABORONE, Botswana — Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has rejected an offer by the African Union to mediate between his ruling party and the opposition to end the country’s political crisis, the AU mediator said yesterday.

“There is no mission for Zimbabwe because at least one of the parties, President Mugabe, said clearly there is no need of such talks,” Joaquim Chissano, former president of Mozambique, told reporters at a regional summit in Gaborone.

The African Union’s chairman, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, last week appointed Mr. Chissano to mediate in Zimbabwe’s worst crisis since independence in 1980.

SIERRA LEONE

Inquest opens into journalist’s death

FREETOWN — The inquest into the death of Sierra Leonean journalist Harry Yansaneh opened yesterday.

Mr. Yansaneh was beaten up by a gang two months ago, reportedly for political reasons.

Local journalists attended the hearing, presided over by magistrate Adrian Fisher with a jury of five members.

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders has accused a deputy of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party, Fatmata Hassan Komeh, of ordering the attack for reporting negative comments about the government.

SOMALIA

Pirates unload U.N. food aid

MOGADISHU — Somali pirates who hijacked a U.N.-chartered food aid ship nearly two months ago have begun unloading its cargo for apparent distribution to residents of their home region of Haradere, witnesses said yesterday.

The gunmen, who have been demanding the 850 tons of German- and Japanese-donated rice intended for Somali tsunami victims in return for the release of the ship, started removing food from the vessel on Monday, they said.

The U.N. World Food Program, which had hired the ship to transport the rice, was unable to confirm the removal of its cargo but condemned any “looting” of humanitarian aid.

BOTSWANA

Summit leader pleads for food aid

GABORONE — A top-level summit of the Southern African Development Community opened in Botswana yesterday with a plea to the international community for emergency food assistance.

“This summit is taking place at the time when most of the region is facing a devastating drought, which has resulted in low crop yields and a deficit of cereals,” Botswanan President Festus Mogae said as he opened the meeting of hundreds of delegates in Gaborone.

“As a consequence, many of our countries require emergency food assistance. We appeal to the international community to provide assistance that is commensurate with the scale of need,” said Mr. Mogae, the incoming chairman of the regional bloc.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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