- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 27, 2009

SOMALIA

French security agent escapes

MOGADISHU | A French security agent kidnapped by insurgents in Somalia last month escaped his captors Wednesday and was under protection at the presidential palace, officials said.

There were conflicting reports over whether the man had killed three of his captors.

Farhan Asanyo, a Somali military officer, told the Associated Press that the man came up to government soldiers early Wednesday, identified himself and said he had escaped after killing three of his captors. But French Foreign Ministry spokesman Eric Chevallier said the security agent was freed without violence and France did not pay a ransom.

Abdulkadir Hussein Wehliye, the assistant information secretary of Somalia’s presidential palace, said the agent is safe in the palace and “in a good mood.”

He and another agent were kidnapped in July from a hotel in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, then split up between the rebel groups al-Shabab and its ally Hizbul-Islam. Mr. Chevallier said the second French hostage was still being held.

The French agents were in the country to train Somali government forces, which are fighting Islamist militiamen. Militants had said the two would be tried under Islamic law for purported spying and conspiracy against Islam.

SOUTH AFRICA

Zuma to visit Zimbabwe

JOHANNESBURG | South Africa’s president is headed to Zimbabwe on Thursday, and a party official promised that Jacob Zuma will be “more vocal” than his predecessor about the failings of Harare’s governing coalition.

The two-day trip comes amid rumors that Zimbabwe’s longtime president, 85-year-old Robert Mugabe, was ill. A Zimbabwe government official denied the report.

Mr. Zuma’s spokesman Vincent Magwenya said Wednesday that “everything’s on track” for Mr. Zuma to meet both Mr. Mugabe and opposition leader turned Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Former South African President Thabo Mbeki, who was forced by his African National Congress party to step down shortly before elections in April, advocated quiet diplomacy.

RWANDA

Genocide conviction of ex-official reversed

KIGALI | A former senior Rwandan official sentenced to life imprisonment last month for his part in the 1994 genocide has been cleared of all charges by an appeals court, state radio said Wednesday.

Augustin Hategeka, district administrator of the central Gitarama region and mayor of Muhanga until he resigned in 2007, was convicted July 8 by a traditional gacaca court.

On Tuesday, a gacaca appeals court acquitted him of all charges, the radio said. A human rights group based in Kigali said the appeals court said in its ruling that it had carried out its own investigation into the case, which contradicted the findings of the lower court.

The gacaca courts combine modern law with old-style village assemblies where elders would settle disputes. Rwandan Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama said recently that the gacaca courts have so far tried almost 1.5 million suspects.

The purported ringleaders at national level are being tried by a separate International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which sits in Arusha in neighboring Tanzania.

SOUTH AFRICA

Police break up soldiers’ march

JOHANNESBURG | Police used water cannons, rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse about 1,000 soldiers who staged an illegal march on South Africa’s government offices, the Defense Ministry said Wednesday.

The soldiers tried to climb the fence surrounding the government complex in the capital Pretoria, after a court refused their application to stage a march to demand better salaries. Several cars were damaged as police pushed the soldiers back from the Union Buildings.

The military is considered an essential service and is not allowed to strike.

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