- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 25, 2005

GUINEA-BISSAU

Ousted president invades palace

ABUJA, Nigeria — The Economic Community of West African States yesterday condemned former President Kumba Yala’s brief invasion of the presidential palace in Guinea-Bissau earlier in the day.

The group issued a statement saying it was “deeply concerned by the forceful occupation of the presidential palace by Kumba Yala … at a time when the people are being given the opportunity to freely elect a new president on June 19.” The 15-nation body called on all candidates, including Mr. Yala, to avoid statements or actions likely to mar the transition or spark violence.

Mr. Yala, ousted in a bloodless military coup in September 2003, said this month he was still president. Despite a five-year ban on his involvement in politics, Guinea-Bissau’s Supreme Court approved Mr. Yala this month as one of 17 candidates in the June 19 election in the former Portuguese colony.

SUDAN

Top U.N. envoy faults Darfur rebels

KHARTOUM — The top U.N. envoy in Sudan blamed Darfur rebels yesterday for delaying peace talks aimed at ending more than two years of violence and told them to “get their act together.”

Jan Pronk also said the two rebel groups were refusing to cooperate with African Union mediators by pinpointing their positions. The rebels accuse Khartoum of neglect and of using local Arab militia to loot and burn villages, a charge the government denies.

Mr. Pronk said the blame for the delay in resuming talks lay with the Sudan Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement, which have failed to reach a common position.

MOZAMBIQUE

Unexploded ordnance found near capital

MAPUTO — Mine-clearing workers have warned residents to stay away from a rural area outside this capital where more than 3,000 explosive devices left over from the 1976-92 war were found.

Florencio Chongo, a member of the former Portuguese colony’s Accelerated Demining Program, said yesterday that land mines and rifle bullets left over from the 16-year war were found in the Matola-Rio district about 10 miles outside Maputo.

Mine-clearing workers have asked residents, most of them subsistence farmers, to stay away from the area as work continues. Mozambique’s war was marked by extensive use of land mines, and the government estimates more than 1 million people live in mined areas.

Weekly notes

President Thabo Mbeki warned yesterday that a string of riots in Cape Town townships pose a threat to South Africa’s stability if demands from the poor for better housing are not addressed. He spoke after police used tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse protesters at a Cape Town township demanding housing, after rioting on Monday rocked two other poor areas of the city. … Terrified by war and hounded by poachers, many of Ivory Coast’s remaining elephants have packed their trunks and trundled off to calmer climes. “Elephant populations have gone to Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana since the outbreak of war. Wildlife officials in those countries have told us so,” said Denis Amani Kouame, head of wildlife at the Agriculture Ministry.

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