- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 8, 2006

ZIMBABWE

Opposition figures arrested over guns

HARARE — Police arrested an opposition lawmaker and a party official yesterday, after the discovery of a stash of arms by security forces in the east of the country, a party spokesman said.

Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for a faction of the Movement for Democratic Change, said police arrested Giles Mutseyekwa, a member of Parliament from eastern Zimbabwe, and Brian James, MDC treasurer for Manicaland province.

The arrests were made after state press reported late Tuesday that security agents had taken into custody a man identified as Mike Peter Hitschmann and found an arms cache at his home in the eastern city of Mutare. The MDC denied “any links” to Mr. Hitschmann, saying he was a member of the Zimbabwean police’s special constabulary.

SPAIN

Migrants dying off Canary Islands

MADRID — More than 1,000 migrants have died trying to reach Spain’s Canary Islands this year, the Red Cross estimated, as more and more Africans attempt to break into “Fortress Europe” by using ever longer sea routes.

Officially, 106 immigrants have died trying to reach the islands since late December, most sailing north from Mauritania. However, Jaime Bara, head of African affairs for the Spanish Red Cross, said yesterday that the real figure is far higher. “We estimate it is 10 times that number,” he told Reuters news agency.

Last week, dozens of migrants died in two shipwrecks off the coasts of Western Sahara and Mauritania.

SUDAN

AU mission sought to end Darfur deaths

BRUSSELS — Western powers sought to persuade Sudan yesterday to agree to a peacekeeping force from the African Union being turned into a more robust U.N. mission to stop killings in the Darfur region, said an official from the European Union.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and development Commissioner Louis Michel held a day of talks with AU and Sudanese leaders as well senior officials from the United Nations and the United States.

Pressure is mounting for greater Western involvement to end violence and a humanitarian crisis in Darfur, where tens of thousands of people have been killed in a three-year-old conflict.

Weekly notes …

The World Health Organization yesterday advised countries in Africa to set aside billions of dollars to counter the effects of bird flu in case the deadly H5N1 strain spreads across the world’s poorest continent. WHO Director-General Lee Jong-wook said the money will be needed to cover economic loss if the virus spreads in the continent, which is home to 800 million people. … Flash floods in Malawi’s prime tourist district have left 6,000 people homeless, destroyed crops and cut off the southern Mangochi region, an official said yesterday. “These are the worst floods in 28 years to hit the Mangochi district. Houses have collapsed; villages have been submerged in water; while maize, livestock crops and several bridges have been swept away,” Harry Chipeni, district director of planning and development, told Agence France-Presse by telephone.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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