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Briefly

- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 12, 2007

ZIMBABWE

New rules worsen economic crunch

HARARE — Zimbabwe yesterday imposed tight new profit margins for businesses, stepping up a price-control program that has led to empty store shelves, long gas lines and fears of a total economic collapse.

President Robert Mugabe ordered that prices for a wide range of foodstuffs and consumer items be slashed two weeks ago, accusing businesses of raising prices as part of an effort by Western opponents to overthrow his 27-year-old government.

The government task force overseeing the anti-inflation price program limited the price markup from producers to wholesalers at 5 percent and at 10 percent for prices from wholesalers to retailers.

RWANDA

Senate approves death penalty ban

KIGALI — The Rwandan Senate approved the abolition of the death penalty, a key step demanded by the international community to transfer genocide suspects to Rwandan courts, the country's state-run radio said yesterday.

The bill was initially put forward by President Paul Kagame's Rwandan Patriotic Front, approved by the Cabinet at the beginning of the year and passed by the lower chamber of parliament last month.

Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugama predicted the law would come into force by the end of this month.

NIGER

President slammed for rebel assault

NIAMEY — Niger's leading newspapers yesterday criticized President Mamadou Tandja for dispatching troops to quell an uprising by Tuareg rebels in the north of the uranium-rich West African nation and ignoring calls for peace talks.

"Everybody has asked President Tandja ... to explore the path of negotiations with the [Tuareg Niger Movement for Justice], but he upholds the thesis of the fight against drugs and armed gang banditry," the Enqueteur weekly said. Two other leading dailies also criticized the move.

Niger press outlets reported last week that Mr. Tandja was sending almost 4,000 troops for a counteroffensive against the rebel movement following an attack on a military outpost on June 22.

CONGO

Politician's slaying could spark violence

KINSHASA — The United Nations condemned the killing of a prominent local politician in Democratic Republic of Congo, saying it could increase instability and stymie attempts to bring peace to volatile North Kivu province.

The body of Floribert Bwana Chui Bin Kositi, provincial secretary of the Congolese Rally for Democracy, was found in the North Kivu capital, Goma, Monday. He had been missing since Saturday and local authorities said he had been strangled.

Mr. Chui Bin Kositi's party grew out of a Rwandan-backed rebel movement that occupied North Kivu and much of eastern Congo during a 1998-2003 war that killed an estimated 4 million people.

ZAMBIA

Disgraced ex-leader allowed treatment

LUSAKA — The Zambian government has approved the evacuation of disgraced former President Frederick Chiluba to South Africa for treatment because of his deteriorating health, his spokesman said this week.

The ailing former leader, who has an acute heart condition, will be flown to South Africa for specialist treatment by the Zambian government, which has accused him of corruption, said Emmanuel Mwamba.

From wire dispatches and staff reports