- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 11, 2008

ZIMBABWE

Rivals resume talks with optimism

HARARE | Talks aimed at forming a government of national unity to end Zimbabwe’s long political crisis resumed Wednesday amid mounting optimism.

Both President Robert Mugabe and the main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai were relatively upbeat when they emerged late Tuesday from negotiations mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki.

The official Herald newspaper reported Wednesday that there was optimism about reaching a solution to the key stumbling block - who should have the top position in government?

Mr. Tsvangirai has insisted on being head of government and chairing Cabinet meetings, with Mr. Mugabe in the largely ceremonial position of head of state. But Mr. Mugabe is unwilling to surrender much of the power he has wielded since the country’s independence from Britain in 1980.

SOMALIA

Pirates seize South Korean ship

NAIROBI, Kenya | Somali pirates Wednesday hijacked yet another ship, and a maritime group said two French tourists kidnapped at sea a week ago were being held by gunmen demanding a ransom of more than $1.4 million.

Seoul’s Yonhap news agency said a South Korean cargo ship had been seized off the coast of Somalia. It said its crew included nine South Koreans.

The East African Seafarers’ Assistance Program identified the French couple captured off the lawless Horn of Africa nation on Sept. 3 as Jean-Yves Delanne and his wife Bernardette. It said their luxury yacht was now being used to hunt more victims.

It said the kidnappers were demanding a ransom “in excess” of $1.4 million to free the two hostages.

ZAMBIA

Presidential vote set for October

LUSAKA | Zambia will hold a presidential election Oct. 30 to choose a successor to President Levy Mwanawasa, who died in France last month, the country’s acting president, Rupiah Banda, said Tuesday.

Mr. Mwanawasa, 59, died in a French military hospital on Aug. 19 after suffering a stroke in June. He had led Zambia since 2001. He was re-elected in 2006.

Mr. Banda, 72, will be the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy candidate. Opposition Patriotic Front leader Michael Sata - who narrowly lost to Mr. Mwanawasa in 2006 - is expected to be his main rival.

SOUTH AFRICA

Thousands support Zuma ahead of ruling

JOHANNESBURG | Thousands of people demonstrated Wednesday in support of African National Congress leader Jacob Zuma, as tensions mounted ahead of a court ruling on whether to dismiss corruption charges against him.

As the leader of South Africa’s most powerful political party, Mr. Zuma is expected to become the country’s next president after elections in 2009 - plans that could be derailed by a corruption trial.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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