- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 9, 2007

MAURITANIA

Law adopted making slavery crime

NOUAKCHOTT — Mauritania’s national assembly late yesterday adopted a law criminalizing slavery for the first time. The practice has persisted in certain parts of the North African country despite its official abolition in 1981.

Under the new law, voted unanimously, people convicted of acts of slavery will risk between five and 10 years in prison.

The bill, initially seen as insufficient by several human rights organizations, was beefed up by the deputies and the final result was hailed by SOS-Esclaves, an anti-slavery group. Singled out by the group for praise was President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdellahi.

SWAZILAND

Egypt talks address medicine shortage

MBABANE — Swaziland’s government has opened talks with Egypt in a bid to end the impoverished country’s shortage of medicinal drugs for hospitals, a spokesman for the prime minister said yesterday.

Huge demand in the South African market meant that country was unable to export enough medicine to neighboring Swaziland, and that had led to a massive shortfall in the tiny landlocked nation, he added.

South Africa, however, managed to provide a recent consignment of 42 tons of medicine. Swaziland also planned to approach Cuba for help, to avoid having to rely on one country for its needs.

KENYA

Petition demands more seats for women

NAIROBI — A group of Kenyan women started a petition demanding better political representation and a guarantee for 50 parliamentary seats in upcoming elections, a women’s rights organization said yesterday.

“Fifty seats should be kept for women in the parliament,” Francis Inganga of the League of Kenya Women Voters told Agence France-Presse.

The campaign to collect 1 million signatures began Tuesday during a rally in a Nairobi stadium.

“We realized that women representation in policy and decision-making is very wanting,” Mr. Inganga said.

Women currently account for 18 of parliament’s 222 seats.

SOUTH AFRICA

Women protest violence on children

CAPE TOWN — More than 200 women marched on South Africa’s parliament yesterday to protest the high levels of violence against children, calling for no bail for suspects and tougher jail terms for those convicted.

“If people don’t behave like human beings, they must rot in jail,” march leader Zodwa Magwaza told the protesters at the entrance to the legislature in Cape Town.

The campaigning group Missing Children South Africa says about 2,000 children are killed in the country every year, and almost 1,000 are listed as missing.

NIGERIA

Kidnappers free Bulgarian, Briton

SOFIA — A Bulgarian and a Briton, kidnapped last month in Nigeria’s oil-producing Delta region, have been freed, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said yesterday.

The 48-year-old Bulgarian is expected to arrive in Sofia via Paris today, the ministry said.

The two were kidnapped on July 9 from a production barge near Calabar in Cross River state — an area in the east of the southern delta that is usually relatively safe and peaceful. On Tuesday, six Russian hostages were freed in the Niger Delta, which is home to Africa’s largest oil industry.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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